Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Always Comes

 Winter has enjoyed hanging on for quite a while this year. I know that it hasn't been just at our place either, I have heard reports of that over much of the country. Unfortunately a long Winter seemed to bring about a lot of complaining. I do get the fact that we are running low on Vitamin D and are truly craving a little warmth and sunshine but I guess I feel pretty strongly that we should be thank-ful in every circumstance and weather just happens to be some of those circumstances. :-)
 And while we are being thankful amidst the winter it doesn't hurt to truly see the beauty in it too! It is gorgeous! These snow pictures were taken a little over a week ago and though we knew Spring was coming in didn't look so much like it.
 We just need to have a little faith. Genesis 8:22 says: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

 We can trust God that it will come. We can patiently wait for His timing knowing full well that He knows what is best for us.
 And Springtime does come. We celebrate it with some birthday fun.
 By enjoying the bright blue sky.
 Delighting in the buds on the poplar tree.
 Watching things melt away.
 Glorious sunshine! Thank you God!
 Aaron loves the snow when it it here. He loves mountian biking pretty much all the time (snow or mud or) and he loves to kayak. Since he can't ski and skate anymore as the ice was too thin and the snow to spotty he figured it was time to start kayaking.
The river is opening up in the middle and a tiny bit on the edge but there was a huge section of ice in between. He thought maybe he would ram it. No success. That just broke of little chunks but didn't begin to get it all. Next idea - push across the ice to the open water beyond. Back he went to the garage for ski poles and sure enough he was able to sit in his kayak and push himself across and get to the open water. What fun. What a boy!

  Today it was in the 60s. There is still snow but there is more areas of no snow. Spring is here! We knew it would come. God is always faithful!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Our Poor Chickens

 The last couple of weeks have been pretty hard for our poor chickens. We started with a flock of 18 layers and are now down to only 5 left. But we think we have everything taken care of now. So far two nights with now more dead so that is promising!

 The saga has been interesting. So we started finding a dead chicken or two in the morning. They weren't eaten but sometimes their heads were off. What was happening? We figured there was some sort of predator and realized we needed to tighten up the coop as the window was having issues. So Aaron tried to patch it up but to no avail - more were dead the next day. So I got a piece of plexi glass and he and I worked together and got it completely patched up. There was now a hole under the coop (where we had buried wire mesh - it must have rusted away). So dad jumped in and helped us to set a trap by the hole. Next morning Aaron ran up to check. What did we find??? A skunk in the trap! Oh no! This guy is still alive, what are we going to do?

  Jonathan went up and shot it from a distance and the boys came running back excitedly saying that it was dead and it hadn't sprayed. Wonderful! Except when we opened the door the whole yard was smelling nasty. Oh dear! Somehow he was smelly anyway.
 Aaron still needed to do chores but it smelled horrible up by the coop. We tried covered his face with a scarf, wearing a dust mask and then we even pulled out the gas mask but all to no avail. It still smelled horrible. He did a very quick (and not very thorough) job of the chores (running to the house for a breath every little bit) and said more could wait until later. I did them later in the afternoon and it still stunk pretty bad but I could survive.

So now we caught the culprit all should be well. Except it wasn't. I do think the skunk had been killing chickens but he wasn't the only one. Another chicken or two was dead the next morning.

    We tried to block them from digging under even more. Dad came and set two more traps. My brother-in-law came and set up his trail cam to keep an eye on the place the skunk had dug through. The next morning there was nothing in the traps, nothing on the trail cam but still another dead chicken!

 Jonathan looked around and tried making digging under even less easy.

The next morning Aaron went up to do chores and there was nothing in the traps but a rabbit was out. He called for help in catching it. Mara and I went up and we got Stumpy caught and I was holding him and then I went over to get something from our garden shed (which is attached to the chicken coop) and Stumpy started to go nuts. So I gave him to Mara to hold and went back to the garden shed. When I opened the door I saw a brown furry animal go scurrying. Then he was no longer in the garden shed but now the chickens were putting up a holler. I ran around to the chicken coop door and threw that open and looked to see a chicken fly up to the window sill and pop out an egg - she was so nervous. Poor girl.

  Meanwhile Mara went running (rabbit in tow) for Jonathan and his gun and Aaron and I kept track of doors and animals. Jonathan came quickly and at that point the animal was in the garden shed and he didn't feel like that was a good place to shoot it (there are tons of things that it can hide behind). But as they messed around in there I shut the door to the chicken coop and then the animal (a mink) went back in there. The boys went over to that door and I blocked up the holes so the mink could not come back in the garden shed. There were a couple of holes behind the feed bins that we had forgotten about. They were quite small but the mink managed to go through anyway.

  The chickens at this point were all up on the roost and Jonathan was able to shoot the mink in the chicken coop. It was quite the wild time.

  So we got more holes blocked off and one more predator killed and I think we are finally good to go. We haven't lost anymore the last few nights.

  By the way, mink smell bad too. Not as bad as a skunk but still bad. Our poor garden shed!

  Have you ever dealt with predators eating/killing your animals? These are the first ones at this place but at our last house we say a hawk, a coyote and a fox all get our chickens.

  Also, this winter we lost our cat to an eagle. That was quite astounding and rather sad.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Experiencing Theater

 Our girls have always loved drama and being dramatic. They have had some opportunities to use those skills with our homeschool co-op and Church but Mara (especially) has longed for a bigger stage to act on.

  This January they tried out for a community Theater play - "The Elves and the Shoemaker" and they both got a part. And so began our experience with theater and having super busy schedules. :-) In late January they began practicing 3 evenings a week which continued through to last week plus a few additional commitments here and there. Last Friday was opening night (I shared a video clip earlier in a post but was unable to add anything else to that post for some reason) and it was so fun to see what all their effort produced.

 The Community Theater has a reputation for putting on high quality performances with super cool sets and neat costumes. For this play they had almost all children try out and many of the children and some adults had no major acting experience. Out of their 39 actors only 6 (and that includes Mara since she is 18) were adults. I guess it was their youngest and most inexperienced group they have ever worked with but they still put on a top notch play. The directors do a very good job!
 Mara got one of the leading roles, the mean landlady. She adds some drama to the play! :-) The tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker is a German fairy tale from the early 1800s (you can see a common version here) and to my knowledge most do not have a mean landlady but to turn this tale into a musical it needed to be lengthened and a little suspense is always good. The musical has a lot of humor in it with a good message about the beauty of helping others.
 Here Sneerella Twerm (Mara) has come to evict the Shoemaker and his wife from their home.
 The shoemaker and his wife without thinking give away the only pair of shoes that they had to sell to a poor woman. Afterwards they realize that was what they needed to sell to make money to pay their home loan.
 The house on the set is complete with an upstairs loft sleeping area and it rotates. The first scene shows the outside of their cute little house and the other scenes show the inside.
 Megan is a daughter of poor widow Perkins.
 Most of the townspeople have these cute little hats and capes. I know they made the hats for another play sometime. During one rehearsal some were having issues with their hat ties coming off and so I had fun sewing them back on.
 The shoemaker and his wife after they have been blessed in turn bless the poor widow by giving her shoes.
 Excited about the new shoes!
 Because they were trying to find parts for all the kids who tried out they ended up having 7 elves (not all pictured here- only 5 were in the original script). The elves did a great job. Here they are rejoicing over the new clothes that they shoemaker and his wife made for them. I actually got to make a coat for one of the elves.
 A night scene. Megan and her family are hanging out on the spiral staircase - one of Megan's favorite parts of the set.
 Near the end Sneerella came back and demanded that she should get a pair of shoes free of charge. They had only some very weird running shoes that the elves had made. When she put them on she ran super fast and couldn't stop running.

 Mara made (with a little help from me) her jacket and bustier for her costume.
 Putting the shoes on.
 Here she comes running by. A guy wants to get her on his team for the Olympics and he also wants the shoemaker to make him a bunch more pairs of running shoes. That will provide jobs for their little town.

Jonathan also got involved by running the spotlight for the performances. He is enjoying learning a little more about that. He loves running our sound booth at church and has really gotten into videography and stuff like that and seems to really enjoy this experience.

They did 3 shows this last weekend and have 3 shows on Tuesday (for schoolchildren) and another 3 on Wednesday and then 3 more this weekend. We are trying to keep them well rested and healthy (Megan did struggle with a cold this weekend) in the mean time.

  And so that is what has been going on in our life lately. There are some dreams of future productions with maybe all of us - though probably not Mara as she will be heading on to other things - being a part of them. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Camping Baby Shower for a New Little Nephew

Right about a month ago this cute little guy - Mathias Grant was born to my sister Keren and her husband Benjamin. This is their second little boy - you have probably seen mention of their 2 year old Ephraim on my blog at other times. They live quite  close to us and attend church with us so we love getting to  see them all on a very regular basis.

   Mathias is about 8th in the line-up or boys that have been born in our congregation in the last 2 years (with no girls in between) . So when we were trying to figure out a fun theme for Mathias' shower my friend Emily thought a camping theme might be fun with a focus on boy things. I thought that sounded perfect for Mathias especially because his parents very much enjoy camping and I am sure he will be doing it before long and it just sounded like a fun theme that wouldn't be hard to do.

It is so lovely to have a church family when planning things like this. So many people pitched in to help it wasn't that hard for anyone. We all had fun working together to put it on too.

   Decorating was largely my department. This winter we made a bunch of wreaths to sell and at that time a friend from church had said that I could cut boughs from a really crowded section of trees on their property. The trees there we like 6 inches apart from each other and their branches were all twisted together. It did the trees a favor to thin them out a little. Anyway, we did quite use all that we had gotten at that time and they had just been hanging out in our yard. They still looked lovely and green so I thought they would add a nice touch to our camping theme party.

We also brought along one of our little tents and a few camping chairs. My nephew Buirlen had fun checking them out.

For the tables I found some red checked ones that were at the church building and brought one from home and put those on the tables. Then I added some wood slices, lanterns, pine cones, acorns, greenery and little animals to make a centerpiece.
Emily, Mary and Irindee all worked to figure out games for the party and we had a bunch of fun ones. All but one had a major outdoor theme and the other one had to do with character traits that we should be seeking to instill in our boys.

Mary made the super cute game in this photo. They cut wood slices and then she wood burned different animal tracks on them (oh, she also made cute little baby tracks on one as well). We had to write down what we thought the track belonged to.

Other games were reaching into brown paper bags (without looking) and feeling the nature item that is inside and then writing down what it was. We had to match up pictures of trees to the picture of their leaf and seed.

Emily and Irindee also had everybody make a bow and arrow set from big popscycle sticks, dental floss and Q-tips. Then they competed on shooting them. There was also a marshmallow toss.

We had prizes for game winners that followed the camping/outdoors theme. Emily made this cute embroidered piece for a prize, I had brought a wood slice garland that I had made along with an acorn necklace that Mara made and a notebook with a birch bark cover. There was trail mix and gummy bears, baseballs, a camping cookbook and more.

For food we had camping or camping related foods.
Our menu was:

  • Chili with shredded cheese and corn chips (Chili is a very traditional food that pretty much everybody brings to a fall camping trip that many from our church go to.)
  • Trail mix
  • Ants on logs (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
  • Tortilla Roll-ups (to look like sleeping bags)
  • S'mores Cupcakes
  • S'mores bars
  • Lemonade

These are the adorable cupcakes that my sister-in-law, Molly Bea made.

I had fun bringing my blue camping dishes to use for serving dishes. I also brought a log for the table and a cute little tent that Megan had for her barbies.

My sister Keren, the beautiful new Mom, with Mathias. They are sitting in front of the gift table which I had fun putting sticks and a lantern over.

Ephraim (the big brother) and Buirlen (cousin) had fun helping to open up the gifts.

I was able to make this little sweater for a gift. I thought it looked like a good one for camping.
Mathias tries out a tent for the first time. :-)

 I think everybody had a lot of fun at the shower. It was fun to get to help with it. The theme I thought was a wonderful one because it was easy to do and very economical for decorations just go to your camping supplies or the woods. :-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Seeking to Simplify Update

I have still been plugging away and simplifying and having less stuff at our house. I have been able to stick with the plan of getting rid of 25 items and cleaning out 5 spaces each week. I had fallen behind for a bit when we were sick and super busy but I am caught up again now so I thought I would share. 😀

 I did want to share some ideas that have really helped me as I work to decide what we need or don't need in our home.

It started with my clothes....

   I happened upon these videos that said they would help you dress better and like how you look and not cost you a dime. I don't remember how to find them now but I really enjoyed them. The process was simple. Simply take a ribbon or something of that nature, push all your clothes in your closet together so there is a little extra room (please tell me that your closet isn't to full to do that 😊) and tie the ribbon on the rod between your clothes and the open space. Then when you wear something from your closet put it on the empty side (well it will get fuller as time goes by) of the rod. Don't wear those items again until the other side is empty. As you get to the end you may find there are something that you are not going to wear hanging on the rod. They may not fit, they may need mending or you just really don't like them and they look horrible on you. Those items you should either fix so they do work (and then go ahead and wear them) or you should get rid of them. Figure out a way to do the same things with your other clothes. I personally first just made stacks of clothes on top of my dresser of the clothes I had worn but then when there was more of them than the ones left in the drawers I swapped them out. But anyway I systematically went through all of my clothes. The video I watched didn't think it was necessary to do that with socks, underwear, pajamas and things like that but I included those things. I figured if I had socks that I didn't want to wear that they didn't just need to hang around in my drawer forever either.

   The concept of this was that we all have clothes that we like and look good in and we tend to wear those clothes over and over and we truly only use around 20 % of our clothes. That means that clothes we don't even like are taking up tons of room and causing us extra time as we sort through them to decide what we really do want to wear. This challenge also causes you to look at your clothes in a different way and try new outfit combinations. It can be pretty fun. My sister and sister-in-law thought it was fun to check out what I was wearing as I went through this challenge especially as it neared the end and I didn't have many clothing choices. I think they were a little disappointed that I didn't have more interesting combinations than I did.

   After you do get rid of clothes and perhaps you are thinking about adding new clothes to your collection do it only after very careful consideration of what style, colors, fabric types that you actually like and wear. Don't just buy something because it is on sale or on a whim. By the way I didn't get rid of nearly 80% of my clothes but I also forced myself out of my comfort zone a bit with new combinations and it was fun. It definitely did cause me to get rid of quite a few things however and also just to realize what an abundance of clothes that I had. When you go through all of it like that you tend to realize that you really don't need anything new - you already have more than you need.

   After I had been through the clothes challenge I figured this concept would work well with other things too....

BOOKS. So the girls and I are currently working to read through all the books in our house. Since that is well over a thousand (over 2 thousand possibly???)  that is taking a while but it is fun. I haven't been hearing "There's nothing to read!" lately and it is fun to watch Megan read things like Bible commentaries😜. I have always had the goal to only have good books on our shelves (ones that I can be proud of and believe God would be happy to see us read) but sometimes questionable ones slip in somehow. This is a great time to find them and weed them out. Also sometimes we find books that area simply boring. I am not easily bored but mostly I don't think we need to have poorly written books on our shelves so this is a good way to find them and weed them out as well.

GAMES. I worked to have our family play all the games on our shelves (of which there are many) and we got rid of some. There is no need to keep around ones that we don't need or enjoy.

FOOD. Food does eventually go bad and sometimes we get things on our shelves that we aren't so fond of. However I do not like to waste food. So I really work (and this is nothing new) to make sure that we go through our food systematically and use up one years canning/freezing before we start eating on the next years food. I work to find new methods to use things we are not so fond of.

The method of forcing yourself to actually use everything that you have has been wonderful for me in making me feeling abundantly blessed and contented and it has been fun. I hope that it works for you as well if you try it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Time to Go to the Woods- Waiting for Sap to Run

Aaron, my right hand man and his sidekick, Amos
I have been getting to spend a little more time out in the woods lately and I have been loving it! Something about the sunny days as Spring heads our way just make me want to get outside. I tend to like to do things with a purpose in mind however (I am pretty goal oriented - probably more than I should be) and so that is why I really love tapping maple trees in the Spring. It is a productive reason to be outside when the weather is calling me out there anyway.

   Unfortunately we do not have much of anything in the way of Maple trees on our property (we have tried planting a few little seedlings. But my parents have maple trees and so we have been going over there to tap trees and check how things are going. We have had some really lovely days but they have also been interspersed with cooler days and some quite chilly nights and so the sap hasn't really started running very much. But we have trees tapped and waiting. It is nicer to be ahead of schedule than to be working to get them tapped at the last minute.
Isn't the bright blue sky just beautiful?? God has made so much beauty in every season.

 I haven't managed to share much with you for a while from God's word. I read this scripture lately and I find it to be very moving and so I want to share it with you....

  "Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is great than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles." And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah." 2 Chronicles 32:7 & 8

Are you walking with God right now? If so this message is true for you too. If you have God's Holy Spirit dwelling in you then the one that is with you is so very much stronger than anything that you can face. Trust God!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Raising Passionate Jesus Followers {Book Review}

I was blessed to be able to read "Raising Passionate Jesus Followers - The Power of Intentional Parenting" by Phil and Diane Comer just lately. When that book was offered to me for review it was a pretty much immediate "Yes!" on my part. By far my biggest goal in life is that I would be a passionate Jesus follower and that I could raise my kids to be that as well and also that I could influence others to follow Jesus passionately too. Yes I have many other goals and dreams for me children as well but this one is by far the top goal. So even if they aren't great at schoolwork and don't land a high paying job but are passionately following Jesus Christ I will be very thankful!

 Things that I loved about the book:

  • They shared a lot of scripture.
  • They were very real and honest in speaking of their experience.
  • They share a lot of real life stories
  • They emphasize the importance of getting the Word of God in our lives.
  • They unashamedly speak of following scriptural directions in disciplining your children.
  • They also very strongly speak of the need for balance between Discipline, "Affection, Affirmation and Fun" and Order all of those sitting on the foundation of Jesus.
  • They focused on all the years of parenting from little to having adult children.

I really appreciate their explaining that in order to raise Passionate Jesus followers that you need to be one too. This is such a very important concept. We need to be examples to our children. If we want them to study and know the Bible than we had better be making time to do that in our lives. If we want them to have a vibrant prayer life then we should be working on that too. If we want our children to seek God's will and walk in His Spirit than we should be seeking to do that too.

 The only issue that I remember having with the book was in the areas when they were sharing about children becoming Christians and they seemed to think that happened before baptism with baptism coming after and I don't believe that is what the Bible teaches.

 You can find this book on Amazon and other places as well. I very much recommend it. May you be encouraged by it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Colorful Train Quilt for Buirlen

   We are so blessed to have a bunch of little people in our family right now. In my side of the family (the ones we live near) there had been a break in the arrival of grand-kids for several years but in the last 2 years there are now 5 more. It is wonderful! Just recently we celebrated the 1st birthday of Buirlen. Megan and I decided to make a quilt for his birthday gift. 

   I had been thinking about making it for a month but I was finishing up some other gifts and projects and so I didn't end up getting to it until the day before his party. But with Megan's good help and even a little assistance from Aaron and Mara at the end we got it done.
 I was just going to have a bunch of colorful squares but Megan wanted some pinwheel blocks too. I thought that would be pretty appropriate since pin-wheels had been a big thing and Buirlen's parents wedding (you can see my post about it here). So we made three pin-wheel squares to go in the middle of the quilt. Then we just had a bunch of blocks. After those we sewed together I stiched a railroad track (using thread and ribbon) all around the quilt. Then we put two trains made of jean pockets on the track.
 I had wanted to make finger puppets to go in the trains but I didn't have time but Megan got it done. They turned out pretty cute. Buirlen thought they were fun to play with.

 This is the train on the other side.
 Megan made a really cut engineer to go in one of the engines.
 It ended up being a really fun project. The jean pockets I had been saving as I cut up strips for rugs and wanting to find something to do with them. They were the inspiration for this quilt. I still have a bunch more however so I am going to need to do something else with them too. The blocks all came from scraps of fabric that we had around. For the back of the quilt I used a piece of flannel that I had bought years ago on a sale. The lining was an old mattress cover that my neighbor had given me to make something with. It was amazing how perfectly it fit the quilt without any pre-planning on my part. God certainly blessed as we made it. We only had limited time to work on it and everything went together super smoothly. I was so thankful.

 By the way Buirlen's Mama has a neat blog that you might enjoy checking out.


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