Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another week

It's been a long, short, interesting week. Know the feeling? 

I spent a long time on Monday getting the folder for the school program director ready. I fix it so that she can flip a page out with prompts for the song or recitation piece that is to be given. The side toward the students says the same thing that the director's side says so we are all "on the same page". I helped sing in the program this time which we presented on Thursday Eve. This was the Christmas program which is given biennially. 

Thankfully I didn't need to babysit on Mon or Tues. I had so much to do. Tues was my birthday and I almost forgot it. Thomas & I had a date last week on Fri eve and the boys were at Mom Lapp's. When we stopped to pick them up Mom said, "Give me the menu and I'll cook it for you Tues eve." I was so puzzled what she means. She said, "For your birthday!" Thomas and I had been planning the week and I had something in mind for Tues eve but we did take her up on the offer. She cooked a good BIG meal of meatloaf, creamed potatoes, Ceaser salad, lime jello (with pears, pineapple and cream cheese), and then a dessert of ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and date pudding.

While she cooked our supper I sewed on a new dress I wanted for the program. I was amazed at myself that I sewed a dress in 3 days! Usually I work on one so sporadically that it takes months. 

I thought it was so funny that Google was the first to wish me a happy birthday on my birthday. Sister Yvonne and brother Paul wished it ahead of time. I opened Google Chrome Tues morning and Google was spelled with birthday cakes. So often it's someone's birthday so I hovered on it saying to myself, "Now who's birthday?" It said, "Happy birthday Marie!" I was so taken aback- until I realized I was signed in. :)
It snowed again on Tuesday so schools were canceled. We practiced the program Wed & Thurs morning at school. No one really felt ready for it but I was amazed at how well it went then. I just wished I could have sat and listened to it. Our boys sang a verse of Silent Night in German. They wouldn't have chosen to but they were asked to and they did well. Everyone did well. The place was full of visitors and we didn't get home till about 11:00! There's usually a snack afterwards.

 It was also Philip Eash's graduation night. His sister Melody pushed for him to get done and graduate while she's home from El Salvador. She teaches at a school for the deaf there and their school years are on a different schedule than ours. Her vacation is now and school resumes in Feb or March. 

I also did a power point for all the recitation pieces. Seems a lot of the students are hard to understand so the power point helps people to know what they're saying. In my opinion recitation needs as much or more practice as singing. But I'm not the one in charge (except for my own children. And they get drilled! :) 

Once the program was behind us we were all "shot". Very worn out. Friday and Saturday we worked on getting the house & food ready for visitors because we were host family today. Host family means you are prepared to host any visitors who happen to be at church. So we usually like to invite a family or two from church while we're at it. No visitors today but we had Al Wengerds, Lloyd Beachys and Mom and a lady she brings to church (Kathy) here for lunch. My men helped me in 101 ways the last couple days to get ready. What would I do without them?!

I told Thomas that it seems every time we host visitors, I am out of so many groceries. It takes me awhile to think up what I can cook. I found a recipe for potatoes and chicken that I adapted to fit what I had (making my own mozzarella cheese for it), made an apple jello salad and cooked green beans. For dessert I served chocolate cream pie & coffee. One thing we have in abundance is milk. :) 

Yesterday we had another snow- 4 inches or so. Wow. It just stays white out there. The boys can spend hours playing in the snow- building forts and igloos, sledding, snow boarding, snow ball fighting. My delight is to look out the window.

Enter a new week with new challenges.....

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The summer until now

It has been awhile since I posted! So much water under the bridge! Somehow it seems that the older the boys get, the busier I get. What was the summer full of? 

Gardens and food 
We planted a garden that didn't do too well. Got a few strawberries from it and enough from a friend at church to put a few in the freezer. The peas gave enough to have a few fresh meals. The corn was utterly sorry. I bought some from the local farmers' market to be able to put some in the freezer. We got some tomatoes but I never get enough and this year was worse than ever. I never did get beans planted so I bought some from a neighbor. I decided I kind of liked just buying my produce. I'm sure I wouldn't always want to do that but it was rather discouraging to put a lot of work in the garden and not get much. We got some nice potatoes and if we'd have dug them sooner would have gotten more. Some critter decided they were good too. We picked some blueberries from our patch but ate all of them fresh. I was hoping for some for the freezer. The patch is 17 miles from here and it is a bit far to go once a week to pick, plus all the care that it needs. I am debating whether it is worth our time and money. We enjoyed other things from the garden too- lettuce, kale, beets, peppers, cucumbers, melons and onions. So why should I be disappointed? Things didn't produce at the rate I thought they should or become the size they should be.

Of Chickens, Guineas and Deer
We purchased 75 broiler chicks, planning to raise them for ourselves and my sister's family. By the time the story was all told we had 43 to put in the freezer or can. A skunk helped him/herself to a number of them and we think a bird of prey was also getting fed. I am very grateful for the meat now. A neighbor sold us some guinea keats  but they were a nightmare. They escaped the pen I made and are so tiny and fast that they eventually gained their freedom. I decided if that was to be tried again I would need a stouter cage. Christopher contracted Lyme disease this spring and I wanted so much to have guineas around to help with tick control. (Sometime I want to blog about our Lyme journeys.) Niece Sylvia shot a deer and gave us the meat. What a blessing!! Now we have two more deer hanging in the shed that were given to us and are needing to be worked up. Makes me feel rich! My laying hens found a new home through Craigslist so now I'm buying all my eggs again. I get some from a friend who has chickens.

Of Working Boys, Bakery and Cows
Thomas needed Stephen and Austin's help this summer so the three youngest and I did most of the canning alone. Maybe that's why it seemed so busy. We haven't had a summer like that before. The boys helped my parents with two different festivals, too. We also milked two cows this summer. So sometimes if the men weren't home, the younger boys & I would milk. The cows belong to my sister (Verina) & husband (Joe) who had to move and had no place for them. I was delighted to have milk and chores for the boys. Just before Thanksgiving they sold the one cow. They had a potential buyer for the second one but he hasn't made good his word. We went to Gap Mills to help my folks with the bakery work the week of Thanksgiving and didn't want to have chores for someone to have to do while we were gone. It worked out okay then and Joe got the cow on a once-a-day milking schedule. It was nice to have a break like that and still have a bit of milk. Now another cow has freshened. Had a heifer calf. The last two calves born here were heifers. The one born earlier this year hurt herself somehow with the fence -cutting and severely injuring her hind leg. We don't know if she'll be strong enough to carry calves.
The new baby

Thomas, Stephen and Austin's latest project

That's Thomas there
Applesauce, Co-op, Program and Sickness
This past week the younger boys and I made and canned the applesauce. I was so pleased to get that done. Now once the deer is worked up and the Christmas program behind us, maybe I can focus more intently on school. It seems there is always something that makes it hard to keep to the schedule. We homeschoolers have been meeting weekly on Tuesday to share some classes. Verina works with the younger ones, doing some phonics and crafts. I teach writing to the 6th grade - high school students and give art classes to the 4th - 8th graders. Joanna Stoltzfus teaches all the children music and is also the choir director for the whole school/homeschool group. It seems the program is a lot more difficult this year and we must be prepared to give it already this week on Thurs evening. A number of the students including our two youngest, have had the whooping cough. Now some sick bugs are making their rounds so we just pray we'll all be in shape to give the program.

Snow, Fireplace and Birds
We didn't have a church service today because of snow. It started snowing at 8 or 8:30 this morning and the snow began to stack up fast. We got at least 5 inches and then some sleet. I guess the forecasters were not prepared for what might come. This morning they said the total daytime accumulation would be 1-3 inches. By noon they were saying 3-5 inches and by late afternoon 7-11 inches. Predictions are for a wintry mix and then freezing rain overnight. One of my sisters in TX said they have 3 inches of ice. I said I didn't know TX got that cold and she said she didn't either. I am sitting under a colorful afghan a friend gave and listening to the fire crackle and pop in the fireplace. Such a cozy place to be. I can just look out and watch the birds and enjoy the scenery. I really don't enjoy getting out in that stuff. The boys do though. They were sledding and snow boarding. Thomas isn't well today. Not sure if it's something he ate or a bug.
The view from my front window

Ever have a prettier "Christmas tree"?

On the front deck

View from my back window               Photo by Austin

More of School
We are enjoying our studies in school this year. Rome to the Reformation is the title of the study. Making alive to us the times in which Jesus was born and the church began. For science we are studying the human body and later the heavenly bodies. Melvin has always struggled with reading, being dyslexic. This year we have benefited from the school purchasing the Barton System of reading and spelling. I tutor Melvin here at home and am pleased with the progress he's making. There are three in school and two of us homeschoolers that are dyslexic. So the Barton system is a good investment.

Of Being Sixteen
Yes! We now have a sixteen year-old! Wowie wow wow! Stephen turned this magic age the 7th of November. Now we have new things happening as he does things with the youth group. It adds more to life - more to do, more to spend, more places to go, more to experience. For him and for us.
Grandma Judy gave him a camcorder she inherited

Watch out or you'll be in his sights

He does well with photography

These lilies grew here on our place

Behold the beauty

Of a New Mattress and an Old
Some friends gave us a new mattress and box-springs for our bed so the boys have re-purposed the old mattress. I always told them they may not jump on the bed but now their joy is fulfilled in that area.
Austin makes the leap

Matthew's turn

Uncle Arnold gave Austin a camera too so he has been having fun with that. I'm sure he had someone using it for the two photos above and probably took the ones of Stephen. And the roof job. And the calf. "Honor to whom honor..."

And now it is time to cease pecking and go be sociable with my family. God bless your week!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

God Hears and Answers Prayers

Do you believe that? Do I believe that? 

A handful of us ladies- 4 to be exact- met yesterday morning for prayer. We told each other what we were feeling heavy about; what we would like to ask God for. 

There is a very sick young woman in our community from another state. She ended up in the hospital and has been there for a week now. She has not had the support of her parents in treating her illness. Her parents were coming to visit her yesterday so we prayed that she/they would be able to have a good time together. Especially so because any kind of negative emotional stress sets her back physically. 

Someone who knew nothing of our prayers said with a smile this morning that the young lady had a very good time with her parents yesterday! Those of us who had prayed gave each other knowing, rejoicing looks.

Is God at our beck and call? No! Does He want to give us good things? Yes! 

We had a picnic supper planned for last evening. Thomas is doing an addition for friends in the area so we invited them and his helpers and their spouses over for an outdoor meal. We have been having showers and thunderstorms nearly every day so I was a bit worried that we'd get rained out. I prayed and asked the one lady who was invited to pray too that we would have nice weather to eat outside. We had such a beautiful evening and in fact it didn't rain here all day. The one couple said they had a real downpour at their place before they came and this morning I heard from others who had rain about the time we were eating. We did get just a few drops as we were filling our plates but it seemed it was just the edge of a storm. 

God blesses us so much more than we deserve! 

Thursday night our son Christopher had severe abdominal pain. He has just come through a full treatment for Lyme disease - 30 days of Amoxicillan. I thought maybe he has appendicitis because he seemed to be in such pain. But the classic symptoms were just not there. Yet he was in such misery (writhing & in a clammy sweat) for so long that I thought, "Should we be taking him to the hospital?" 

I finally prayed, "Lord, please show us if it's appendicitis." Shortly thereafter he vomited and went right to sleep. He slept for a few hours and then the pain came on him again. It didn't seem as severe that time but still pretty bad. He vomited once more and that was the end of his pain. I still don't know what was going on but the Lord showed me in such a clear way that it was not appendicitis.  

(If you are a parent and have had a sick child I suppose you know my mental anguish. There's nothing quite like watching your child suffer and not knowing what to do to help them! He would be crying and saying, "Mama, what can I do?"; "Daddy, what can I do?" in the most pitiful voice. We could only say, "I don't know." He said he has had similar pain in the same area a few times since he was taking antibiotics. Just not as long. Advice on how to heal his gut?)

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.  (Psalm 103:13 KJV)

The verse that the Intermediate Sunday school class had to memorize this week was James 5:16. It says "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much". I always thought effectual meant something like effective. But one of the boys said the footnote in their Bible says it means unceasing. That was some food for thought. I'll let you think that through.

That verse is loaded! Pray without giving up until you get an answer. Pray fervently. (How do you do that?) But that is not enough if we are not righteous. Sounds to me like a lot of time and personal work. Doing what God asks of me, trusting Jesus blood to cover my sin, and exerting myself in an effort on my knees.

May you be blessed as you seek God in prayer this week!

And thou,     (your name)     , know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.  (1Chronicles 28:9 KJV)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

I think spring will actually come! It was so exciting to have a warmer day yesterday. Thomas and I went to the "big"blueberry patch on Jersey Mountain and pruned all the bushes. What fun! Thomas and I are both quiet people - at least sometimes. :-)Anyway, I had a lot of time to think as I cut away branches.

The words Jesus spoke came to me over and over- "every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit." (Now I just pulled that out of my memory so if it's a bit off, forgive me.) As I cut out branches I wondered if it's hard for God to cut them off. And what does he mean? If it works for people just like it does for the bushes, wow!

That means if I am just looking like I won't be doing any better than I am now, He'll just cut me off and throw me away? That was hard for me to do but I knew the fruit would be much better if I took those unfruitful branches out.

Or does the verse mean something different? Is it something in my life that gets cut out so more fruit can come forth? Well, then I won't complain when He wants me to give something up. I hope. I would love your comments on the subject.

Stephen and Austin went with Mom Lapp to southern WV on Thurs to help her paint her old house down there. They had fun surprising Grandpa Schwartzes. They didn't get a whole lot of sleep down there. :-) They came back late last evening.

Matthew, Melvin & Christopher went with Joe & Mervin yesterday afternoon to Grantsville, MD. They took a couple steer up to a slaughter house and got another milk cow and her calf. They didn't get back until late.

Now we're milking two cows. The boys enjoy milking and I got my first turn at it last evening. Thomas on one side of the cow and me on the other. That was fun again.

This Easter Day began early. The 4 older males of the family went to milk the two cows and I got up to fix breakfast and lunch. We went to church early to get set up for the Fellowship dinner. There was no watching the sunrise this morning. It's been a rainy day.

Thomas' sister Yvonne came this evening and is staying overnight. She was also helping with the paint project.

That ends my news and views tonight.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Donut making

Austin will ask me sometimes if he may make donuts. He has helped at my parents' bakery. He found a recipe and this is the third time that he has made some. He makes them from start to finish with no help from me but Matthew likes to help him. We did a field day for the church school and homeschoolers today. They came to our neighbor John's shop where he makes concrete ornaments. He let them make some for themselves. Then we served donuts and hot chocolate. Allen & Joanna Stoltzfus were planning it with us and she furnished cinnamon rolls. Afterward the children played volleyball, rode bike and played whatever around here. Following is a chronology of donut making.

Austin has the dough mixing
Patting and rolling it

Matthew helps cut them out
Melvin watches

Matthew mixing glaze
Cut out donuts
Getting ready to fry them - Christopher commenting
A batch in the oil

Donuts half fried
Flipping process continues
All about ready
Taking them from the pan
Frying "holes"

Matthew does the glazing - he remarks about how messy his hands are

Putting a glazed donut on the rod to drip
A hanger full of donuts

The donut boys at work

Finished product - Want some? They don't last long!

I still don't know exactly how to work this whole blog thing. If anyone has any comments on things I should add, bring it on. I am mostly just playing around in the little time I have and am not being very "professional". Ha. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

On a Sunday Morning

It is so beautiful this morning. I am feeling a bit blue because I didn't get to go to church. Melvin ended up being sick. I wasn't paying close attention. I did notice he didn't eat breakfast very well. When it was time to leave he was in tears and didn't feel up to going. He changed back into his pajamas and is taking it easy. Says his tummy hurts off and on. He's also been fighting a cold. Seems all the sicknesses end up here. Time to air out this house!

It is warming up nicely outdoors and I hear spring bird songs all around. In the hay field, I see robins galore, running hither and thither in search of worms. Melvin came and we were talking about how they find their worms. We did a Google search on the question and found some interesting info. Main method of search appears to be sight, according to studies done.Although all senses work together. 

This past week we got over a foot of snow. It was so beautiful but I am thankful to see it leave and have the warm weather pour in. Yes, Wednesday was the snow day and by today, the ground is pretty much bare.You can still see snow where it was piled up.
Table & Chairs on Patio
Bikes & van - snow piled on every ledge!
Under the big tree on the left sits a bench. In the final photo here you see a close-up of that bench.
Snow on the roof and tree
Piled on the poor evergreens. Notice the fence.
The log pile (work for boys)
The bench

Today is Fellowship dinner at church. We are on the food committee so someone will need to replace me in the kitchen. It's hard to sit here at home and think of all that good food over there. And fellowship. And preaching. And visitors I wanted to see. And Sun school I wanted to enjoy. We're studying in Acts. One community lady who comes to church says, "My dad says, 'It doesn't get interesting until you get in the book of Acts'".

I was up early to fix a dish of cheesy creamed potatoes, peas, and cheddar wurst and  a pan of chocolate pudding delight. Maybe they'll bring some home. :-)

Of course, 'early' this morning felt extra early with time change. Back to getting up in the dark. Not fun. Just when I had resolved to make getting up early a habit. Ha.

I read a book to Melvin after the others left and then cleaned up the kitchen. After which I resorted to the computer to read my devotionals from the past 3 days. I guess that was my Sun sermon. It was encouraging. Especially the one I  get called Standing Strong Through the Storm. I also get one with Spurgeon's sermons. The SSTTS encourages me to be bold for Jesus in this culture where so much is against Christ and Christianity.

This past week was a vacation week for us as homeschoolers. We are schooling year round this year. So far I am liking it. The basic schedule is 3 weeks on; one week off. Sometimes we do more than 3 weeks and then take off for more than one week. I like to save vacations for when we really need them. 

Hopefully soon we'll need some vacation time to plant garden. I am looking forward to that! Recently we've been working on the pruning that needs to be done in the orchard. Oh my! That is so much fun. I did the blackberry patch and am looking forward to bigger better fruit this summer. 

Last year we moved here in May so pruning time was behind us and the orchard was a neglected mess. Thomas has been working on the fruit trees with the boys' help. He also got the grape vine out of the apple trees. I still need to do the raspberries and blueberries. Also, the large blueberry patch on Jersey Mtn. 

There are a lot of ornamentals on the place in need of pruning and perennials in need of divisions. I want to move the asparagus out of the garden, replant the strawberries, and make an herb garden somewhere, too. The herbs are scattered here and there. I would like to pull them together.

Anything to get out in the fresh air and sunshine!

I stuck the pictures in under my paragraph about the snow. Then they suddenly got all rearranged once I added captions. Whatever. I might get this thing figured out one day.