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!