Monday, May 30, 2016

Of Busy Days

When I rose from my sick bed, life came thick and fast. It was rather ironic that when I made effort to blog a week of our lives I ended up being sick a lot of the time. That makes me a little leery of trying to blog another week. 

Last Saturday and Sunday we were at a reunion in Farmville, VA. My birth mother's family got together. We had a wonderful time together- as always. It was very special to see Aunt Ruth and Uncle Mark Yoder once again. They came from Colorado. 

My mother came from a family of six boys and six girls. Yes, a dozen children. One of the boys passed away and four of the girls.
L-R John, Lloyd, Joe, Ruth, Alice (Calvin came later and Ezra was not there)
Saturday evening we had an auction to cover reunion costs. That was a lot of fun. 
Selling a kitten- my little niece bought it
One of the treasures I found was a paperback set of Laura Ingalls books (with the gingham covers). When I got home I discovered that one book was missing from the set. (One of my cousins had found the set in the dumpster!) 

Over time I've picked up some of the books at thrift stores. Knowing I had a few on my shelves I decided to see if this particular one was one I had. Most of the books I have are pale blue paperbacks. But would you know, the very one that was missing from the set was on my shelf! It was the only one with a gingham cover that I owned. Needless to say, I was elated!
Selling the performance of the song," I'm a Little Teapot"
The Schwartz family was in charge of Sunday lunch. Sister Rachel took the planning upon her shoulders. We had grilled chicken breasts, baked potato wedges, Ceaser salad, green beans, rolls and custard pies (3 kinds- plain, rhubarb & Pina Colada). She had me pick up most of the groceries for the meal.

Rachel flew in Thursday. After shopping in Winchester, Thomas and I picked her up in Baltimore, (also leaving a car there for Rosetta who flew in Saturday evening). Then she and I made the pies on Friday. Brother Tim grilled the chicken Sunday morning. 

While at the reunion, our family sang- Sunday morning service. One of my cousins recorded it with her phone and put us on You Tube.

Our school program and picnic were planned here the same weekend as the reunion- which was very annoying. We, of course, were here for the program Friday evening. Stephen was the director this year and he did an awesome job. 
Sorry, I didn't get a pic of the director. Was sitting too far forward.
Saturday was cold and rainy so we opted to head for the reunion rather than stay here for an indoor "picnic" and games. My share of the food still needed to be provided. Too many things on one heap. Aarrg!

My parents went on from the reunion to Honduras to visit my brother and family for a few weeks. My sister Rosetta, her friend Mary and my niece Sylvia went along.

Monday was recuperating day for me. Jail Bible study was that evening and I was in charge of the study. Knowing beforehand that it was going to be my turn and how much was on my plate, I decided to hand out some questions and have more of a share time rather than me "preaching". Good thing I did because I was so terribly tired that day I wasn't able to think very deeply at all. Or even stay awake very much. Are reunions good for a person?

Baking for market resumed this week. Twelve pies and nine zucchini breads came out of my kitchen. Rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb and strawberry pies. A new one for me is baked strawberry pies. It's kind of a gamble to get it right. Any advice for me?

The boys have been diligently planting garden this week. They planted 186 tomato plants. Yes, you read right and it is not a misprint. They had started so many plants that this wasn't even all of them. I guess they didn't know when to stop. They also planted summer squash plants my dad had started and ten long rows of corn. The lettuce is ready to eat and there is too much to eat. Gardens are wonderful things.

Thursday evening I had three of "my girls" from Kid's Club over for the evening. The boys were helping me clean house in preparation for their arrival and I told them girls make me terribly nervous. I know what to do with boys but I'm not sure about girls! 

We had an okay evening then. The guys all went to my sister's house for supper and the evening so we had us a girls' party. I helped them each make a couple loaves of bread to take home to their families. They were pretty pleased to think they could make bread.

One mistake I made was allowing them to drive a vehicle around. Two of them had never driven before and they thought this was the best thing. They kept begging to do it again but once was enough to give me stomach ache. 

Yesterday was our donut fund raiser for youth funds. We made donuts on site in two locations. It was a lot of work and a very successful day! We had gotten a hundred pounds of mix. I envisioned selling individual donuts with the occasional sale of dozens or half dozens. Reality was that by 6:30 am people were stopping by wanting to buy dozens and we were not prepared. We made up all the mix and sold all but about five dozen. 

We had done a trial run for the church Friday evening so we could get a feel for what we're doing. So some of the mix had already been used. At our site we had a half dozen donuts left that sold while we were cleaning up. So we were completely sold out. People were asking when we'll do it again so we think we just might do it some more.

We were very short on help yesterday and then one girl ate a donut and got bad stomach pains so she couldn't work. We gathered round her and prayed and the Lord mercifully restored her to us before very long. We needed her help and He knew that!

My sister so kindly offered to make my food assignment for the fellowship meal at church today. It was so restful to not have food to make this morning. My week was so exhausting and even though I slept in a little this morning I was still very weary. 

Having missed two Sundays, I was way behind with where we were in our Sunday School studies today. We are studying Hosea and we ladies take turns teaching. As we gathered for class we realized that no one was prepared to teach. They all looked at me and said it would be my turn. I could have cried, but breathed a prayer instead, when they told me to direct the discussion. My brain was so tired I could hardly comprehend what we were reading. But people shared their thoughts nicely and we made it through. Thank you Jesus!

We brought Davis, my cousin's son, home from the reunion with us. He'll be here for two or three weeks. Last year it was two weeks so we were thinking that way again. But now there's a canoe trip "in the air" that he would like to be a part of, so he may stay another week yet.

Davis, Matthew and my nephew Mervin standing in a row 
What has the Lord done for you?

His mercy record (verb)! Tell what He's done for you!

Hey, it's warm and sunny after much rain here. What's your weather like?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


A visiting preacher at church, a new dating couple, a friend/youth girl home from Hillcrest for a couple days. An invitation to lunch. Singing at the old people's home this afternoon. The possibilities are large but my strength is small. A day of rest this shall be.

For lunch I made a rice and chicken dish, cooked broccoli and cauliflower and served applesauce with it. Grandpas went to the elderly pastor's place for lunch with other elderly ones from church. They reported an enjoyable time.

Thomas and the three oldest boys went with others from church to sing for those at Hampshire Center this afternoon. They received a plaque from the residents, saying they were the preferred volunteer group of the year.

The boys brought their Byler cousins here this evening to record some singing for some of their other cousins. Especially for the little cousins- children's songs with motions.

This has been a cool, breezy day. Grandma Lapp called for help to cover her flowers. Can you believe they are calling for frost on May the 16th?! We set our potted plants indoors overnight but the rest is at the mercy of nature.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. Mark 2:27 

Sunday, May 15, 2016


The rain came around noon or soon after. Cool weather came along behind. The plants went back into the greenhouse until warmer weather shows up.

Thomas and Melvin cleaned the truck for Grandpas to take to Gap Mills next week. They also made sure it was road worthy. 

Stephen left early to help with the food stand at the auction. Austin went around noon. They both returned by early afternoon, reporting a good sale.

Matthew did some more mowing. The orchard and the roadside. The boys also kept the dishes washed, cleaned their room, did some laundry, and misc. 

Thomas got more desk work done. His elephant that needs to get bite at a time. My elephant is house cleaning and decluttering. 

My dear, dear sister and niece came to clean up some of my dirt this afternoon. My, it takes such a little bit of time for two capable ladies to do what it would take hours for the boys to get done. (Yes, there are times I wish for daughters. Forgive me, Lord.)

The sickness slowly let me go and strength is just as slowly returning. My stomach seemed to appreciate chicken, potatoes and carrots boiled together. And it didn't complain too much about yogurt and applesauce either. 

Having recently read a lot about slavery I had to wonder if the Negros would have had to work if they were in my shape? And maybe get whipped because they couldn't keep up performance? And I'm thankful I can rest "peacefully" while my family cares for me and other things. (Sometimes I don't allow it to be peaceful because I see everything that needs to be done.)

In searching through "Grandma's freezer clean-out" I found potato casserole and peas for lunch. Hominy was fried in bacon grease with onions, garlic and hot dogs (good ones, by the way) and topped with cheese for supper. The men enjoyed it with fried eggs and an avocado, tomato, cucumber, onion salad Grandma Schwartz brought over.

Boy funny of the day: Something was going on between some of the boys. "That really blew you out of the water", one told Melvin. He calmly replied, "Nah, it just tapped me to the surface."

Here's a photo of my gifts from the Mother's Day celebration at church. A rose bouquet at my place setting, a pint-sized candle, and a half-cup-sized candle. The beautiful garden gloves were forgotten in my photographing. 

Are your children like mine- they like candles more than you do? 

What scent would you choose? 

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Another day of resting. Efforts at eating were unsuccessful. Things just ran through. Applesauce and yogurt were my food choices. Until this evening. A bit of potato and sweet potato found lodging and have not yet departed. 

Once again the men had to fend for themselves, mostly. The men at work were fed by the main contractor's wife. She brought them some chili soup and bread pockets that contained meat. 

The men were helping to set a modular home here in the area. Thomas came home midday because he didn't feel well. Hopefully he won't get what I have! 

Again I had a food assignment to fulfill. Not quite so large an order this time. Three cherry pies for a food stand at an auction tomorrow. (The food stand is a fundraiser for Kid's Club.) I made the filling. Melvin made the crusts. Christopher rolled out the top crusts, doing the lattice work. They did a super job! The fluted edges were my work. They will get that yet, too, I'm sure. By the way, they came and offered their services. They enjoy it. 

No "picture perfect" photo here. 😉
All five of the boys went to school for program practice this morning. Grandpa took the younger ones again at 1 pm for P.E. The last time for this school year! Wow. 

The younger boys also did music lessons in their workbooks here. "School work" is minimal these days. They also worked on the laundry. That never ending job. 

Grandpas are busy preparing for their trip to Honduras. 

Today was actually a mostly sunny day. Beautiful! Only a little rain in the morning. We are very grateful for the rain but the sunshine is ever so welcome. 

Matthew grabbed the opportunity to mow the lawn. The lawn here is very large. It takes awhile even when using a large ZTR mower. 

It is time for Matthew to have a chance at working with Daddy once school is done. Sad day for me when I lose my trusty helper here. But that means the younger ones need to do more here if Matthew's gone. Melvin is learning to mow this year. He is quite happy about that. Boys and machines!

Christopher ended up having stomach pains this evening too. It would be bad if we all went down like dominoes. 😕 Let's hope not. 

Thomas spent the afternoon here getting one of the trailers fit for the road. Fixing wiring and lights, I believe he said. Austin and Melvin were helping him. 

Stephen wants to turn his bedroom into a studio. He was building shelves to set up speakers on. 

It is interesting to watch the boys and their interests develop. 

An eventful day to observe from my bed. 

Where did you spend your day?


One plus (albeit small) of being sick is that one has time to write. My, I haven't been so sick in awhile. Fever and unstoppable diarrhea. Well, if you stop eating it almost stops. Talk about totally draining. Literally. 

On schedule for today was taking a meal to a family in church. The mother has been laid up with a broken foot. There was no way I had the strength to do anything so I lay abed and instructed my trusty boys. Matthew, Melvin and Christopher made the whole meal. Oven BBQ'd Chicken, mashed potatoes (with wells of brown butter), salad, homemade Ranch dressing and a pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frosting. They also made a simple supper of rice and chicken, corn and applesauce for our family. They were quite weary of the kitchen! But I was so proud of them! Grandma Schwartz took them and the food where it needed to go. 

Thomas, Stephen and Austin spent another long day in VA where they are doing the finishing on a couple of log homes. My poor men were having to do double duty today. 

Donna Goff has been doing some webinars that are helpful for home educators. I tried listening to the one on Power of an Hour today but slept through part of it. The power of an hour concept is really amazing. You can find her teachings at  

Rain was falling again today. The other day at the thrift store the owner said she heard on radio that it had rained 14 days in a row. If that is so, this makes 17 days now. Not that it rains all day every day though. Thankfully, Thomas and the boys have work inside and out, there in VA. 

The girls from my class at Kid's Club were giving a program at their school this evening. A couple of my co-teachers went and I had planned to go with them. It was disappointing to miss it. 

My mama keeps working on the laundry piles in the house. Bless her! 

One thing that has given me a bit of strength today is homemade "Gatorade". A cup of water, tablespoon of lemon juice, teaspoon of Sucanat, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. That may not be exactly right but that's what I pulled out of my head for today. The cup of water was more like 12 oz. The boys took turns keeping me supplied with hydrating drinks. 

Mom Lapp stopped by with some freezer clean-out items. People know where food will disappear! My sister  once told someone (about our family), "They'll eat anything that bends." (That was back in the days when we readily consumed sugar and grains.) When I'm well I'll see what she brought us. It will surely be helpful. My freezer is nearly deplete of meat and I'm trying to figure out what to do about it. 

What did (or will) you have for supper/dinner? 

How do you economically keep men fed? (Mine need meat.)

Thursday, May 12, 2016


This day begins early. Thomas, Stephen and Austin leave at 7:30 am and need their breakfast and lunch made and packed before they leave. This is something I struggle with- to do that much food in an hour and a half. 

Chop a half pound of sliced ham and a bit of onion to fry together while I crack and mix 15 eggs. Fry it all together and shred cheese over the top. Mix a bowl of fruit and breakfast is made. 

Lunch consists of leftover vegetable soup, apples, leftover pie, milk, cheese, and a bag of salty snack. 

Then the younger boys come around and eat their breakfast and we leave for program practice at school taking a bunch of milk with  us to send home with my nephew for the calves to drink.

 While they practice I work on book work and get an ad placed in the paper for the donut fundraiser. Following practice we check out second hand stores, looking for black vests that they want the boys to wear for the school program. We found one. 

While we're gone Grandpas leave for Winchester for a foot Dr appointment. 

Today was so rainy and cool Matthew started a fire in the wood stove.

By the time we got home it was lunch time and I was exhausted. I was having some diarrhea but not really feeling too bad other than tired. This is embarrassing but I slept. All. Afternoon. 

While I slept the boys found things to do. Like mowing their "ball field" and then using it. 

After waking I started some laundry. Matthew and Christopher went to milk the cow. 

With Melvin's help supper got made- gluten free pasta with sausage and Alfredo sauce, green beans and Caeser salad. Then I really crashed, running to the bathroom periodically. I took a couple doses of McNess aromatic compound but it didn't take hold like I wished. 

Thomas went to men's meeting taking Grandpa along. The boys cleaned up the kitchen and another day is past. 

When was the last time you were sick? 

How do you cope with sickness?


It's another cloudy, rainy day. We've had many of these lately. Good for the ground, grass, trees, etc but hard on the soul. 

7:15 am Get out of bed. Dress. Fold the blanket. Remove the pillows. Tuck in the sheet. Return the bed to the inside of the couch. Yes, it's a hide-a-bed. :) Comb hair. 

7:45 am Text one girl's mom to find out if she wants to be picked up for Kid's Club this evening. Cut, package and refrigerate 5 pies that got baked late last night and sat cooling on the counter-top. (We made 17 pies for snack at Kid's Club this eve.) 

Thaw and fry a pound of sausage patties. Fry 12 eggs. Cook grits. Call the family to eat it up. While in the beginning stages of this whole process, at 8 am, Thomas has to leave to go look at a job. Matthew lets the chickens out of their little house where they are put to keep them safe overnight. We have a killer of some sort around here that eats chickens.

Spend some time researching WV homeschool laws (to help friends). Look for field trip opportunities. Online stuff. Christopher finds that his bunny is missing. He says it's a crime scene. Blood on the open greenhouse windowsill where it was kept.  

Have a devotional time with the three youngest. Get them started recording the books they've read in the last year. (Should be done as we go!!) Have Austin start his laundry. Make breakfast for Thomas. He works on desk work.

Work on illustrating the verses from Psalm 1 so I have a base to start from to help the girls at Kid's Club this evening. We are having them memorize Psalm 1 to earn a Bible. They will write and illustrate the verses on cards that they can take with them. I asked one girl if she has a Bible at home? She replied that the only Bible in their house is a touch-me-not. It's old and falling apart. How sad! 

11:45 am Make lunch from leftovers. Eat it. Wash a HUGE stack of dishes. Boys rinse, dry, put away, dump slop, wipe counters.

Call a donut maker to find out some details of what we need to know to do a donut fundraiser with the youth on Memorial Day weekend. Text my side-kick to see when we can get our heads together to do some planning. 

Boys practice their school program just here on their own. They keep changing things up on us at school so that now it isn't going to work for the older boys to be there for practice at least half the time.

Thomas takes Grandpas to the bank to start a new account. The southern account will be closed.

Matthew and Christopher do their writing. Melvin gets a Barton lesson. 

4 pm The sun is out! What a sight for the eyes. Melvin and Christopher work on getting bakery trays clean for transporting the pies this evening. Matthew starts a load of laundry.

Time to make supper. Christopher and I work on making a soup and Matthew and Melvin help us after milking the cow. We get the soup made before we leave at 5 pm or soon after but it will need to be eaten at 9:30 pm when we get back from Kid's Club. We get all the pies cut and loaded.

Our girl who wants to be picked up is not at home! We pick up my niece and head for Romney. Here is our girl! She spent the day with her grandmother in Romney and did her best to let me know but couldn't.

Another evening of trying to keep 9 tweens girls happy. Some were unhappy to begin with because the girl they came specifically to see is not there. They would rather speak to one another and pester each other than to listen to Bible teaching. But they did pretty good! Until it came time for craft. They were very unhappy about making cards illustrating their memory verses! 

Of course the unhappiness always seems greater than the happiness. The one girl I mentioned above who has no Bible to use at home was very diligently copying her verses, faster than I could put them on the white board. She just opened her Bible and wrote them down. I was proud of her. She said she had the first one memorized already since last week.

One thing we have noticed is that we almost never have a rainy evening for Kid's Club. The sun came out like I said around 4 pm and it began to rain on our way home! God has been kind to us.

We finish the routines of the evening and head for home. We eat our supper and crawl into our beds for the night. Another day lived.

What was your day like? 

How has God been kind to you?

Friday, May 6, 2016


My blog-every-day effort surely failed. The last post was over a month ago. Often a blog post is formed in my mind but it never makes it to the hardware. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! Don't let failure spell defeat.

I will use one of my favorite writing guides. The outline below helps to bring my thoughts together.

Outside my window…
A beautiful day. We have had a topsy turvy spring with warm weather out of season and then really cold weather. This poses a problem with the fruit crops. Some flowering trees here were blooming really nicely and then they got frozen. Now some remaining blooms are coming out. There is a need of more moisture already. Will we have a dry summer?

I am thinking…
...about the goodness of God. God is good...All the time. All the time...God is good. We say. What about when your debts are higher than your income? When your baby dies before birth? When the fruit crop freezes? When robbers come and terrorize your children? When your child is expelled from school? When you have your business almost sold and the buyers back out at the last minute? 

These are all real occurrences for someone or another of my acquaintances within the past few weeks. Job also experienced great trials and questioned God's goodness. Does God owe me good things? Is He still good when things in my life are not? That is something we all need to come to terms with in our own hearts.

I am thankful for…
...a God Who is all-powerful, all-wise, all-knowing and holy. Perfect. He creates something from nothing. If I need something I can ask Him for it and He will provide for me. We have seen Him do this over and over.The groceries have been running on low for awhile. I kept wondering how I would make the next meal. Well, I must not have been as far out of groceries as I thought because I kept making one more meal. And one more meal. Sometimes you have food but you're not sure how to make a meal out of it. Such was the case yesterday. Thomas and I went shopping and I didn't know what the boys would have for lunch while we were gone. The menu spot on my weekly plan was blank for yesterday. Then on Sunday someone gave me a leftover potato casserole from the potluck dinner at church. Why do I worry? We are told over and over that God will provide for us. It must grieve His heart to see me fretting over such puny things.

From the learning rooms…
The names and positions of states. Capitols. Postal abbreviations. Is there an interesting way to learn these "boring" facts? Certainly! Put it to a tune and it will stick in your mind. Get an app for your phone or tablet and it becomes a game to see who can get the fastest time score for placing all the states in their correct spots. My, learning is easy nowadays.

The above was written a few weeks ago. Then I filled in below a few days later but the system failed to save my labors. I will just quickly fill it in today.

From the kitchen…

I am wearing…
My clothes. Haha

I am creating…
Food for boys (at home) and crafts for girls (Kid's Club).

I am going…
To job sites with Thomas. Bumming around with him for the day while the boys are on their annual field trip with the church school.

This home owner has an awesome view

I am reading…
The Bible. Portions from Job, Luke and Revelation daily. (As daily as my humanity allows. Some days it gets missed, to my shame.)

I am hearing…
The power washer. Thomas is cleaning logs. (Log home needs to be refinished.)

Around the house…
Just general work.... laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, mending, planning, reading, writing. Want to know more? I think it would bore you.

One of my favorite things…
Fresh air and bird songs on a spring morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week…
Get the laundry folded and put away. Clean the house. Cook meals. Tomorrow evening is the annual mother-daughter banquet. Sunday is Mother's Day and the annual tradition is that the men cook lunch for the ladies. Yea! My men are making apple pies.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing….
Christopher made an apple swan