Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Back In The Land Of The Living

Well, Hello There!

Firstly, Thank you so much for all the kind and caring emails during my long absence!  
What an encouragement ya' all are!

Secondly, I have had a serious extended illness since July that has really, 
really been a difficult thing to live with and get anything beyond 
getting dressed each day a possibility. 
 But, Praise the Lord, 
I am back to feeling well, and so very, very grateful to have energy, vitality,
 and reasonably good health.

So, to catch up, everything has gone along fairly well, regardless. 
 The children and my dear husband have picked up where I left off, 
doing the cleaning, cooking, laundry and anything else necessary to keep the household functioning. Meanwhile, I was posted in a comfy chair only able to give encouragement and counsel.  
They did a remarkable job but are very glad to have mama back in the kitchen, 
taking walks, able to be out and about and physically functional!  

And my, have they grown in the last 6 months! 
 Jim passed me up in height around Christmas, Ben gaining on me rapidly. 
Olivia turned 5 (Ack!) - Gabe had his 7th birthday, 
Scott and Anna came for a visit with little Mary,
Shiloh is talking in full sentences,
We got a scruffy little puppy,
Brian and I both have more grey hair,
 and Rose is home from College. 

 Now that you know everything, here are some pics.

Ben is a regular at filling the soup pot

Jim shot the buck of a lifetime

Scott, Anna, and Mary visiting Idaho

John, Michelle and Shiloh bought a little farm just a few miles down the road

Rose and a sweet friend

building an igloo

too cute!!

Blessings to Ya' all,
with the promise it won't be months before another post!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The New Grandbaby!!

So there we were,
 3/4 of our journey competed....500 miles yet to go 
on our trip to New Mexico to see our daughter and son in law and forth coming baby,
when, 5:00 in the morning, we got a call....yes,
 Anna was in labor! 
 Straightaway we hopped in the suburban and drove, drove, drove..... 
 arriving 40 minutes after the newest grand baby was born!  

  I was allowed into the birthing room right away to meet this newest blessing, 
help wash her, measure her, and cut the cord. 
 Scott was perfectly at ease with the sweet little bundle, 
...I was impressed. 

Mary Joy 
made her way safely into the world that Monday, 
surprising us all at 8 lbs 2 oz 
and having plenty of dark hair, which was a great relief and delight to her mama.

 Needless to say, we all fell completely head over heels for this little girl.

Oh, My!!  What a darling!!!

I cannot possibly look upon these pictures without a little squeal escaping-
she is SO PRECIOUS!!!

With eyes of wonder, 
all of the family stared and stared at her, never getting our fill of the wee one.  
Thus we spent the next 5 days with them, 
holding and staring at this amazing little person named Mary.

All too soon it was time for us to make the trip home. 

 Leaving our sweet little New Mexico family was easier said than done,
 but we contented ourselves with the thankfulness of a safe and healthy birth,
 that Anna is recovering very well,
 that Scott is such a natural at being a daddy,
 and that we had the opportunity to be there 
 to meet this fabulous and amazing granddaughter! 

Praising the Lord for Mary Joy!

Still giddy,

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Traveling To New Mexico

Vacation time has come and we have planned for months now to pack 9 of us in our 9 passenger suburban and travel 1500 miles to see our newest grand child, along with our daughter and son in law, of course. At he time we left Idaho, the baby had not been born...that story is for another post.

So, we packed VERY lightly for our two week trek, and hoped for the best.  Since we lost our 15 passenger van, this is our first road trip with all of us, everything would be different...no cooking in a crock pot while driving...there just isn't room. No big cooler with lots of homemade yummies for our tummies...there just isn't room.  No plethora of games, books, pillows, and blankets...there just isn't room.

So......what we did do is....
1. Pack a small cooler with lunch meat, cheese, mayo and mustard.  And another box with bread and store bought snacks to be given out in between rest stops. We choose fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, granola bars, and trail mix.  These were all XL boxes, but I filled plastic cups with the snacks and handed them out on the road.  For breakfasts on the road, we had granola bars and a banana.  After about an hour and a half, we handed our a snack.  We stopped briefly for lunch, made sandwiches served with chips, and back on the road a bit later, handed out the cups with another snack, and so it went.  For dinner, we located a fast food choice close to our motel, and picked it up in car....after 9 hours in a vehicle we just wanted to get to our motel!  We tried to choose a motel with a pool, so that we could get some exercise into our days, the children greatly enjoyed the swim!!

2.  To keep the trip fun, we had a list of 100 things to look for as we traveled.  Things such as a camel, a circus, a nativity scene, a firetruck, a bicycle with a child seat behind, etc.  We also listened to an audio book which we played on daddy's android, The Hobbit on the way down to NM, and The Girl of The Limberlost on the way home.  Other games we played were looking for all 50 states license plates, finding the ABC's on signs (the word must begin with the needed letter).  And then, the most fun thing we did was bring Rose with us, she is full of fun...when she is not sleeping.  We found that Rest Areas can be alot of fun too....

3. After staying in the plainest and cheapest of motel options, we have come to fully appreciate up-scaling to a motel with a full breakfast and a pool.  It was a significant cost difference, and it was well worth it.  The breakfast was warm and satisfying- getting us off to a good start, and all of us splashing and playing in the pool was also a great reward to a long day packed like sardines in the suburban.
 We also stayed with friends along the way, which was a tremendous blessing and added such joy to our trip.  I am very glad that we went ahead and made the contacts to meet up with old friends we hadn't seen is such a long time.  I was initially thinking we would be a burden..9 of us inviting ourselves over.....but I am so glad we did it---we had SOOO much fun!!

The visit with our family in NM was wonderful...
and then we were on our way home,
 another 1500 miles in three days.
  It all went pretty much like the trip down. 
 The children traveled so well!

 And, if you are wondering what age little people grow out of falling asleep with gum n their mouths, or silly putty in their hands....it is not 4!!
...just sayin'....

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Our 4 Daughters

Our  4 daughters are a vast range of age,
 and are all doing a wide  variety of activities. 

 Here they are:

Daughter #1 is our sweet Anna,
She is our second born child,
 now 21, and married to a wonderful godly man. 
 They live in New Mexico, which is very sad for me,
but I am learning to let go and be content...
it hasn't been easy...even though I am so so happy for her!!

  Anna is in that blessed and radiant state of full bloom,
carrying our grandbaby (their first!) whom we hope to meet very soon....
 I am sooo excited to meet this prayed-for little one!!!

Our third born, the lovely Rose, is just home from three weeks in Africa! 
 I sure missed her, and am so very glad to have her home again...
but my intuition tells me it won't be for long...
Rose is growing up...and Africa is very much a part of her.  
She is a beautiful young lady inside and out.

Then there is miss Bethany,
(9 years old, child #7)
 who just finished her first ballet class, loved every minute of it,
 and now dances her way around the house...
especially when we are listening to The Piano Guys...
....which is pretty often.

And, our ninth, little Olivia
busting us up daily
with some really great original quotes like only a four year old can.

"Are you crying, Olivia?"
"No," she answers...wiping tears away..."My eyes are just sweating!"

She recently climbed up on daddy's lap and said, "I want to have Jesus." 
 We were happy to hear it!

Our daughters have added so much joy and beauty to our family life. 
 We are very blessed by each one, 
and so very grateful to the Lord for giving us these precious gifts!!!

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, 
the fruit of the womb is His reward."
 Psalm 127:3

Monday, May 4, 2015

Inspiration From The Front Porch

 Come sit awhile... 
 the weather is so nice and the front porch beckons.

I am fascinated with porches. 
 I do believe that any home would be more homey with a front porch.
Maybe that is my southern roots coming out.
To me, it really doesn't matter what style a porch is, I love them all.

Over the weekend we cleaned up and put together this year's summer porch.  
It was an exciting event and all the children were eager to help sweep, mop,
 put wintery things away and bring out the season's furnishings.

As we were sitting out this first morning on the porch,
 (having moved our school work outdoors)
I was amused to find that Bethany had made lemonade.
  I guess she just naturally thought:
 porch = lemonade.

 Our large front porch certainly is a significant part of our home, 
and we spend a great many hours there spring, summer and fall.  
When we have church fellowship out here, the house overflows,
(63 for dinner last Sunday!)
 and the porch is a welcome extra room.

I have said before... how much I adore time on the porch,
 and it is true I will invent work that I can do on the porch
 to justify spending a few more hours there.

In the mornings of summer and early fall,
 the sun comes up over the tree tops to the front side of the house,
 casting its warming rays all over the porch. 
 Sipping coffee, listening to the birds morning songs...
...it is a lovely way to wake up.

In summer's hot afternoons,
 the sun is high overhead and the porch is a cool refreshing place to sit,
 where one can watch chickens, dogs, cats, goats and children frolicking in the yard.
Taking laundry off the line, I will fold there, 
write my shopping lists and menus there,
 talk on the phone to my daughter and mama,
 read to the littles, 
 do our school work,
 read my Bible,
  visit with the older children.

In the evenings, it is the perfect spot to catch up with my dear husband,
watch thunderstorms, 
have dinner,
 interact with the children playing,
 and, ahhhh...unwind at the end of the day.

I love making our porch (and home) a collection of beautiful things,
 a gathering place for family and friends, 
a comfortable place where people want to come and be together,
 a welcoming place for the new acquaintances that are made
 and for the strangers who come into our lives,
 a caring place where the needy can find help and the hurting find comfort. 

A porch is a great place for hospitality,
 a welcome smile to come home to, 
a convenient place to retreat to, 
a favorite spot you come back to over and over again.

Blessings from our porch to yours,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Home Schooling: More Than the Three R's

How do you do it? 
 My you sure have your hands full!
 I could never do that! 
 These are all things I have heard countless times from friends and strangers
 when they find out we have 9 children that we have home schooled.
Here is my answer.
  Here is how do I do it. 
Here is my counsel to anyone thinking of homeschooling
 or discouraged in their home schooling adventures.

Home Schooling is something I am passionate about.  
Raising children is something I am passionate about.  
Because I am passionate about these things, I love to talk about them.
 We have been home schooling for 20 years now, and we have made mistakes. 
 We have also learned a whole lot and made progress, although,
 there are those days when I can't see it. 
 Thankfully, those days end and new ones arise and with them hope
 that this day will be different, 
perhaps even victorious. 

Over the years, I have come to a few conclusions about successful homeschooling...
and these conclusions arrived from trial and error,
 and are listed here so that perhaps others may not need to have such trials and errors
 to find these answers....

1.  Home schooling must be consistent.  Establishing a basic routine each season gives freedom and structure to the mama and the children, helping to ensure that each topic of study will get done in its time each day.  It is near impossible to become proficient at something without consistent practice. I say in "each season" because as your family grows up, multiplies, jobs change, etc., new needs arise and a new schedule will need to be adapted.  When we had a new baby, for example, our routines needed to revolve around when the baby needed to be fed, then later, when the toddler napped, and even later, when the teen went to work.  As home educators, we need to persevere to be consistent through these changes and at the same time be flexible to the new needs of the family.

2.  Homeschooling must be about discipleship more than completing workbooks.  As Christians, our number one priority in home educating has got to be to teach our children about God, His word, and His way...living it out in front of them and intentionally teaching them as we go about our day.  Just homeschooling is not an end in itself- that alone will not produce a generation who loves God and is devoted to Him.  It is a lot harder than that.  It must be intentional and deliberate, and you must be the example.  To raise children who test well and get good jobs is great, but that alone must not be enough!!  Home Schooling gives us as parents a great opportunity to teach character, to incorporate all of our daily lives into discipling the souls given to us.  We need to teach our children to be diligent, to have integrity, to persevere, to think of others first, and most importantly, to love God.

This brings me to the third point....

3.  Homeschooling should drive you to your knees.  I literally wake up each morning begging God for help.  I know I cannot be a good enough example; kind, patient, cheerful, loving, wise and industrious without His strength to uphold me, and I know I am an utter failure apart from abiding in Christ.  Thus, our children become the sanctifying object that God uses to mold us and humble us, making us teachable and dependent upon Him...which then, in turn, enables us to be good examples to our children of what a Christ centered life looks like.
 Is homeschooling overwhelming to you?  GOOD!!  It is when we are overwhelmed that we become desperate for Jesus.  And that is right where we should be everyday.

In my twenty years,
 it is the times that I have been consistent,
 focused on making disciples of our children,
 and earnestly leaning on the Everlasting Arms 
that we have been the most successful in our home educating. 

 If I get all three things down, the rest falls into place.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Venison Steak For Dinner


 Just saying the word makes my mouth water.
  Venison is our favorite meat, and happens to be the meat we fairly live off of. 

 It always perplexes me when folks get a deer, then go to the work of butchering it,
then it sits in the freezer all winter while they buy meat at the store to feed their family.
  We LOVE venison!
  Our family brings in 5 or 6 deer a season,
 keeping us in meat so that we may eat venison three times a week, rarely having beef.
After living this way for years and years our kids think beef is weird. 
 They say it has a funny taste to it. 


Although I interchange  ground venison for ground beef in any recipe,
(and guests never know)
 there are a few special recipes in which we especially love our venison. 
 On the top of the list is something we call "Schaffer Steak".  

You see, years ago Mr and Mrs Schaffer came over to our house one night,
 bringing dinner in a great big covered dish. 
 This was his steak recipe, served over mashed potatoes. 
 Everyone loved it, and it became a family favorite.
It is really the simplest of recipes,
 the kind grandma used to make, now  largely forgotten in our complex culture of "fine food."

Although you sure could make this with beef steak, 
please, Oh please, don't waste your good venison...get it out of the freezer and try this!

Schaffer Steak

1. Get a skillet good and hot, then sear your steaks on both sides,
adding salt and pepper as they briefly cook. 

 2. Once seared, put them in a heavy covered dish, like a dutch oven, or your crock pot.
These happen to be backstrap, a very tender boneless medallion steak.

3. Next, make a cream sauce in the skillet using the steak drippings. 
 A cream sauce is simply an equal portion of butter to flour,
 then milk added to make it the desired thickness, 
all over a medium heat, then seasoned to taste. 

 Or, if you like, you can just use a few cans of cream of mushroom soup.

4. Pour the cream sauce over the meat and cook slowly for three or more hours.
The meat will be very tender, the kind you can cut with a fork. 
The meat and gravy is great over veggies, potatoes, or noodles.

The children are just coming in from outside and asking what's for dinner...
"MMMMM smells GOOD!!!"  they say.
  "It is Schaffer Steak," I reply. 
 Shouts of hurrahs and hugs abound...I am not kidding...
it is that good...
...and we really like our venison.