Monday, September 29, 2014

My Little Sister's Wedding

 I mentioned that back in the middle of June my youngest sister got married. I now have a bunch of pictures collected (some that Mara took, and some taken by my niece Margaret and Sister-in-law Holly and a few by me) and so I thought I would tell you about it.

Where should I start???

I love weddings and very much enjoy my business of doing wedding flowers and decorating at weddings and a few times I have also been hired to play music at weddings and I enjoy that little bit of involvement in a wedding of people that I don't even know. But there is something very fun and special about a sister's wedding especially when you are happy about the guy that she chose and see God's leading in the whole situation.

   My little sister Keren. She was born when I was 13 (nearly 14). I loved all babies, holding them whenever I would have an opportunity. When we learned that my parents were going to have another baby I was completely delighted! She is the youngest of 6 (I am number 3) and I remember many a discussion over what she or he would be named with we kids thinking that we should have a say in it too. My parents had chosen to do Bible names for all of their children but were having trouble coming up with a girls name that they wanted to use. If I remember right it was my older sister who ended up suggesting Keren - one of Jobs daughters (In the Bible it is Keren-happuch but they didn't use the happuch part).

  Keren was a well loved baby with plenty of willing arms to hold her. I remember many an hour of playing the piano with her laying on her stomach on my lap. She was quite content there and I loved being able to do two of my favorite things at once-hold a baby and play the piano. She also did a lot of walking around while holding on to our fingers and ended up being a very early walker at 8 1/2 months. Another thing I enjoyed doing was sewing so I had fun doing that for a real live baby doll.

  Pretty soon I was off to college and then busy raising my own family. Keren had just turned 8 when Mara was born and Keren loved being a young aunt (my older sister also had a boy, one year older).  The year that Mara was born we were living in Iowa and Ken decided to take a surprise visit up here in December (Mara was 2 months old). He had not told either my parents or I about the plan. When we got to their house he thought it would be fun to put Mara in her car seat at the door and then ring the doorbell and hide. Keren was the one to come to the door and she was one excited little girl to see her baby niece there. She had been hoping we might come. A couple years later (just after Jonathan was born) we moved up here. I have been very thankful to live near my family again and to be able to get to know my youngest siblings better.

   I actually met Benjamin around 13 years ago when we were still living in Kansas and had gone to Topeka one weekend and went to church there and Benjamin's family had us over for dinner. I can't say I really remember Benjamin particularly as they have a family with seven kids and six of them are boys so Benjamin didn't really stand out. We have kept in touch with his family a little through Facebook however and a few years back his mom sent me a message saying that she had been on this blog and seen things about a younger sister and wondered if she was still unattached (I don't remember exactly what word she used) as she had a son who would like to find a good girl. I said she was still "available" and it wasn't all that long before Benjamin came up our way and checked out the University up here and also visited at church. He planned on coming up to go to school soon but ended up getting cancer so that plan was delayed a bit but he did come up eventually.

  It wasn't love at first sight for Keren and Benjamin but the family really enjoyed getting to know Benjamin. He shared our love for the Lord, our enjoyment of the outdoors and camping and exploring, he likes music and enjoys photography (and can take some pretty neat pictures!), didn't mind working, was frugal and my boys especially loved having him around.  To quite a few of us he seemed like a perfect match for Keren who also is a great photographer and loves the outdoors, etc. We were pretty happy when she finally decided that he was the right one for her.

    But on to the wedding.....

For quite a while as I have been working in the wedding field I would see various ideas and think "Maybe we could do that when Keren gets married." I don't honestly know if we used any of those particular ideas but I did have a lot of fun helping her get things ready for her wedding. Here are some various pictures of some of the details of that day.

  It was kind of fun to watch the style of wedding unfold. When they first got engaged a lot of different ideas/themes were thrown out there and mostly rejected. But one thing that they did know was that they wanted to get married outside. They thought that the amphitheater at the state park would be fun but it was decided that the side yard at the church building would be far more practical.

  Then Keren got a dress - a pretty, light, whimsical dress. It just had spaghetti straps and we like things to cover more than that - but Keren got it anyway knowing that we could fix it. She and I had fun shopping for fabric and lace to fix it up and then adding some fabric to the bodice in both back and front and she wanted lace cap sleeves. We didn't find a big lace to use for sleeves that we liked so we sewed together strips of lace that we did like. It looked beautiful.

 Then we talked about flowers. She wanted a whole bunch of colors: purple, royal blue, cream, bright green, white and even a little red along with various greenery. She liked the kind of wild, flowing, natural look. She rather liked peacock feathers too so we decided to put them in both Benjamin's boutonniere and her bouquet.

  They ended up finding royal blue dress for the bridesmaids and decided to sew purple and lavender dresses for the flowergirls (4 nieces).

  As the planning went on it seemed to me a rather woodsy, whimsical wedding was what was wanted. It just so happened (I love how God works things out!) that our family was busy clearing our land to get ready for building and that left us with a big source of branches and other woodsy stuff. When quite a few birch trees had to come down I thought how fun it would be to use them in decorating. I saved a whole pile and then share with Keren my idea of making a screen out of them to kind of enclose the benches outside and also maybe make it so that she wouldn't be seen as quickly when walking up. She liked the idea.

The Wednesday before the wedding Keren, my girls, my sister Martha and my niece Molly and I went over to our land on a rainy afternoon and loaded up a bunch of branches, maidenhair fern, moss and some big tree circles that Ken and my brother Luke had cut for me and took them all to the church building to use for decorating.

 The next afternoon we went to work to "plant" birch trees where there had not been birch trees before. :-)
What fun to work together with my younger sisters and daughter.
The other kids had fun playing "wedding" while we worked.

Ready for the wedding.

Only one little problem.... On the wedding day it decided to rain. Outside just wasn't going to work so well. Though there were breaks in the rain it was chilly and damp. So inside it went.

 Programs were talked about but then I suggested that we could just write everything out on a chalkboard. I had this old one at our place and had fun decorating it for the wedding. I believe the easel belongs to my sister-in-law, MollyBea. In my opinion this option works really well as people can figure out who is who without a bunch of wasted paper.

That nice birch tree screen that we made.... well we decided to bring much of it inside. My brother Peter helped a lot with this and we attached them to the end of some of the pews on the center aisle. I had some extra tulle (from another wedding) which worked for attaching them. Everybody went right to work that morning to get everything looking lovely inside for the wedding. We decided to just bring as much of the outdoors in as we could.

My sisters Martha and Anna went shopping and got a trellis to use inside for an arch. Somebody at my parents had picked a bunch of Kiwi vines to wrap around it and I made little flower arrangements for each corner. Keren helped with getting everything in place too. The candelabras which my Dad had made for my wedding got pulled out and put to use. The planters which Keren had purchased for outside got pulled inside for decoration.

My sisters picked up some river birch trees to use for decoration too.
For the tables we used the slabs of wood that had been cut from our land and then I put vases with greenery and the extra flowers that we had. We also put moss and other woodsy things around the base.
We had a few glass animals that we had fun adding to some of the tables. It was fun to make each centerpiece and little unique and fun.
Keren and I consulting as I am working on the table flowers.
A display of wedding photos of family and friends. The reception area was decorated with a bunch of tissue paper flowers that Keren and a bunch of others of us had made.

I also painted a verse with flowers for decoration. That was a fun project for me using flowers that Keren had picked out for her wedding.
Megan got into the painting mood too and made this creation which Keren happily put up too.

The morning of the wedding people kept coming to me and asking what they could do to help - including our good friend Dale Blanshan. I put him to work carving Keren and Benjamin's initials on a stump to be used on the cake table.

MollyBea and Donna working on getting the tables all covered.
For the longer tables instead of having the circle slaps of wood I got some birch branches and we laid them down and then put some little jars with flowers in them by the branches.
For the entry way some of the guys moved more of the birch "trees" for me and then we added some greenery and flowers.
This is a closer picture of the entry way. We also put lanterns with candles out here.
More stumps and flowers.

I thought I would share a few of the posed pictures from the wedding too....

I love this one that was taken of Keren and her flower girls. Keren made the baskets and the purple dresses. The lavender dresses were made by their mothers. The girls and I made the headbands.
Keren and her bridesmaids.
Our family. Kind of a big bunch - it is challenging to get all of us looking at once. This is all but one brother-in-law and one nephew.
Benjamin's family. Only one of his siblings is married so their family hasn't gotten so big yet. I imagine it will eventually.
Keren and Benjamin and their swordsmen. Aaron and Jonathan served as ushers (along with my nephew Harrison) and Lars and Gregory carried the rings.
When you got to the wedding the "guestbook" was a picture that MollyBea had painted and which we adding our thumbprint for the leaves. We put 3 different colors of green paint on sponges and then people could use it like a stamp pad. Keren had baby wipes for them to clean off with. I really wish that I had a full picture of it (someday I will get one) as her painting turned out really cool especially the way she incorporated the wedding colors of purple, lavender and royal blue. We wrote our names in our thumbprints and then we were supposed to write a favorite verse reference in the roots.
The wedding was lovely. I didn't actually get to see a whole lot as I and my friends Tracy and Aaron were playing music and once the groomsmen got on stage we were only able to see their backs for the most part. But that is all right. :-)
Our good friend Jason Corder performed the ceremony.

My Grandpa had special words of instructions for them right away after the ceremony.

Mom and a big crew of helpers had made a bunch of cheesecakes, cupcakes, salads and such for the reception. The food tasted yummy.
The tables were filled with all the lovely guests.

  The wedding was quite fun. It was wonderful to celebrate the joining of Keren and Benjamin's lives and getting to spend time with family and friends (many having come from a distance) was a great additional blessing.

.... So I finally finish this post at the end of September. I had started it months ago but then wondered if I should have Keren and Benjamin approve it before posting it and then life got super busy and I never had them do it. Well - they were out for Mara's birthday today and I finally remembered and they said it would be fine to share - so here it is.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Do You Choose?

"Take my instruction and not silver,
and knowledge rather than choicest gold.
For wisdom is better than jewels;
and all desirable things cannot compare with her."
Proverbs 8:10 & 11

What are you spending your time pursuing in life? God's wisdom is what we need and He has made it available to us in His word. What will you choose to pursue?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Getting a Glimpse of the Finished Product

 The framing on our house is nearly completed. The contractor is currently waiting on the roof trusses. Our contractor is pretty speedy and the lumberyard has trouble keeping up with him. It is pretty fun to have the progress at this stage because now we can really start to see what the finished product is going to be like.

 The view above is what you see from the garage we are living in now. This is the front of the house from the driveway. When you live on water I guess you are never quite sure what to call the front of the house - is it the water side or the road side?
 Here is a view from the back of the house looking into the living room. Draped under plastic is the unfinished fireplace.
 A fuller view of the back/ river side of the house.
 The rooms are all framed too so we have been having lots of fun going "inside" and checking out the rooms. The view above is taken from our bedroom, looking down the hallway.
 This is in the boy's room. I love seeing the windows framed and being able to check out the view from each window.
 Here is the living room taken from above. The living room and my office will not have a second story above them so they are just waiting for the roof.
Here is my kitchen window. I am pretty exciting to have this view while working at my sink and counter. We sacrificed a bunch of cupboard space to have this much space for windows but I think it is going to be worth it. I love my windows!!!

  The roof will hopefully go on next week. That will be exciting!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Educating Our Children

This school year has had a little different look for us. As you know if you read my blog at all - we are in the middle of building a house and are currently living in our garage so life just isn't normal right now. Any school year for us finds us doing a lot of reading aloud together and then fun learning from life but when the school year hits we do also tend to pull out some textbooks and work a little harder at learning in that way. This year that isn't happening as much but we do still find a lot of learning going on.

  Here is some of what we have been doing lately....
Megan and Aaron examining the basement as it is being made.

We have been learning about construction. Some of it is simply learning from watching but much of it has been hands on too as we built our garage and outhouse this summer and are preparing to build the chicken coop and garden shed and as we help some on the house. We are seeing a lot of interesting things that we never have seen before. A lot of learning is going on and it is happening in areas that I can really see my children (especially my sons) using in the future.
The boys gathering rocks at my parents place.
 We are learning about rocks. My brother-in-law is making a fireplace for us out of stone and so the kids and I gathered up lots and lots of rocks for that purpose. As we gathered them it was so fun to look and see all the various kinds and admire them and wonder about them. So we found our rock book and we added that to our afternoon reading schedule and we are working to learn about rocks.
A friends wedding where Mara and I did the flowers.
The kids, especially Mara at this time, have been continuing to learn and help with my wedding flower business. Earlier this month when we were doing flowers for a friends wedding Mara made all the bridesmaids bouquets plus some of the boutonnieres and corsages. This skill could be very useful for her in the future.

 We have had fun watching and learning more about farming. When we were gathering much of our rocks we went and got them from piles by a friends' field. While we were there we saw various parts of harvesting wheat and hay and soybeans. The kids were fascinated to watch the baler and the whole system for getting the hay/straw up and out of the field. This is an area that the boys are very interested in and so getting to let them be up close and near the action was very fun.

   We had the privilege of going to see and listen to KrisAnne Hall a passionate speaker about the Constitution and its history. Her 2 hour lecture was very interesting and informative and I was thankful our whole family could go and hear her. Now we have books and DVDs by her that we hope to look at soon.

  The kids have been learning a little more about care-giving. A friend of ours broke her ankle and so we have been blessed to be able to help her out a little during this time. Mara has gone over to her place several times to help with cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc and Jonathan went one day this week as well. The younger two have enjoyed helping when they can as well. It is a blessing for them to be able to learn to help out others when they need it.

   The boys have been having fun learning about machinery. There has been quite a lot of types of machinery in here and they love watching it and trying to figure out how things work. This week after watching a bobcat for quite some time Jonathan came in and announced he was going to make one. So he pulled out a bunch of old motors (from copiers, drills and things like that) and some tin and wheels and various other things. His creation didn't quite turn into a bobcat but he did get a little vehicle going that could run by the power of a motor. He had Aaron help him in his project and it was fun to see the two of them work together on it. Jonathan just loves that sort of thing and his time on a robotics team last year helped him to learn a lot. He speaks a language which is rather foreign to me (concerning motors and servos and such like) but I find it pretty cool. It is something that he loves and I love to see him learning on his own.

  Our church was given a bunch of Creation Science materials and so not only have we enjoyed watching some of the DVD's together at Sunday evening services but Mara has been reading the books (that look a little thick and dare I say look dry) every chance she gets when we have been spending extra time at the church building- which has been a lot lately since I am teaching music lessons and we also take showers there fairly often. I love to see her interest in this area. It just is cool to me how since she was little she tends to pick up (and then practically memorize) books about science - ones that I am not naturally drawn too but she really enjoys. I love to that she will then share things that she learned with me.

   Yesterday we went over to my parents and the boys and I helped with chicken butchering. Though it isn't the most fun activity ever it is part of life that if you are going to eat meat somebody needs to do some butchering and we prefer to have home raised wholesome meat when possible. This activity is educational not only in that they learn how to do something useful for living but also in learning more about the parts of a chicken body and how things work together. Science class for sure.

   This fall we have also started our weekly volunteer shift at our local Republican office. This is a time when we are exposed to various materials about our candidates and other political discussions and materials which tends to prompt discussions among our family. Our children knowing how our country works is important to us and this helps with that.

  We have also have various educational things that we try to do year round (though this summer at times we got to busy to keep up with everything but we are back at it again this fall). Some of those things are:

  • Bible reading- we read a chapter from the New Testament after breakfast and one from the Old Testament after lunch.
  • Bible memorizing - We are working on learning Colossians for the first time and also throughout the month we review the other books, chapters and shorter passages that we have learned in the past.
  • Additional Bible learning - we are currently reading aloud through Halley's Bible Handbook.
  • History - we are reading through the Story of the World again and we also like to read a lot of other historical books (biographies and such).
  • Science - this is another time when we read aloud from various books. Currently our reading is from "Be Your Own Doctor" and a rock book.
  • Our Fun reading which is still often educational. Our most recent book was "Rescue the Captors 2" in which we learned about mission work and other things in Colombia while just enjoying the book. We are planning on starting "Life on the Family Farm" today and are looking forward to that.
  • Singing and other music- we try to sing a round together (acappella) and also sing some choruses with instruments each morning. We also practice and have a presentation at the nursing home each month.
  • Art - creative arts are simply a normal part of our life. Drawing, making things and such are something that we need in our life.
This week we finally got started on some additional "school work" which is still a little bit more laid back that normal but it is helping us to sharpen our brains and learn some too. This is what we are doing:
  • We are going through "Simply Grammar" by Karen Andreola. This is a neat book that explains things very nicely and has mostly oral exercises to go through. We are able to do this as a group which works really nicely for us.
  • Math. Normally for Math we have used Saxon Math books. This year I knew some adjustments were needed especially for Jonathan. The way we had gone through the Math books had put the kids ahead of where they were supposed to be for their age level (Jonathan did Algebra 1/2 last year at 12 years old) and that ended up being pretty challenging for Jonathan and Megan was experiencing a few troubles as well. This year I knew that I wanted both of them to just really get very fast at the basics so with flashcards, computer games (at and such we are working on that. We also plan on using Kahn Academy to advance farther in our math too. Mara finished up Algebra 2 last year and so for the first thing this year we are having her review that quickly and then she will take a CLEP test to get college credits for that work. After that we will probably have her work on some Calculus and also some consumer math. Aaron was doing fine in math but he decided that he would also enjoy a year or review and work at getting faster instead of going on in Saxon. We will take up with Saxon again next year. 
  • We are having the kids to copy work. This helps them to work on their handwriting while also learning about spelling and punctuation.
  • The kids are narrating the books that I read aloud to them. A Charlotte Mason method of checking to see what they have learned while helping them to remember better in the future as telling will help with memory.
  • The kids are writing in a journal.
  • Our homeschool co-op got started again for the school year in September and we are focusing on fine arts for that this year.
We also have various other things going on but this is our main schedule. It has been going very easily and everybody is pretty happy with our school plan for this year. We will also be adding and changing things as we go along but it is nice to at least be started. The kids also do a lot of reading on their own and Mara is still working on writing a book with "The One Year Adventure Novel".

How is your school year going? I would love to hear about the way your family does school!
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