Friday, December 26, 2008

Cooking Together

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am a bit of a health foodie. :-) I love to read about healthy cooking and how to make things homemade that are healthier and more economical for us. I am also quite an old fashioned lady. These are a few of my favorite things ( can you hear Maria singing??) ...a homemade quilt, cast iron pots and pans, a marbled, rustic bar of homemade soap, a batch of freshly baked bread, candlelight, woodstoves, knitted wool mittens/socks/sweaters/hats, little rustic log cabins, campfires, washing dishes by hand, shelves filled with home canned goods, freshly made cheese, milking goats, a walk in the thick woods, carrying babies in slings or packs, homebirth, freshly churned (or shaken) butter, cooking over an open fire, homemade skirts and dresses, homemade corn brooms, and gardens bursting with health giving life. Mmmmm what wonderful things God made! He also created work and how good it feels to create good and beautiful things with our hands. One Sunday morning, before church, the children and I made a big pot (this is my cast iron dutch oven) of beef stew. Here are the onions and stew beef browning. My two faithful potato washers, peelers and choppers. They help me in the kitchen so much. Sunshine was trying to make her hair curly by doing the 'rag curl' method. :-) I think they did this in 'Little House and The Prairie'.
Above is a picture of all the carrots that Sunshine sliced for the stew. They are waiting to go in. The pot on the front left is our breakfast of steel cut oats. They had been soaking on the stove overnight and we are just starting to cook them here. We really enjoy them...even more so than oatmeal.
And the delicious, finished stew. I have always loved stew. One of my most sentimental memories of growing up involves beef stew. It was a snowy, beautiful Michigan winter day. The snow was falling beautifully and we were outside shoveling the driveway. Meanwhile my mother was inside making homemade buns and beef stew. The house smelled heavenly and we couldn't wait to enjoy her efforts. After we finished the shoveling we all went in and ate and ate of Mom's wonderful meal. Yummm! I love that memory.
A misc. picture of my daughter and I playing music together. Thank you Lord for music and the chance to worship you with our voices and instruments.

Hodge Podge...:-)

Hello everyone! I so enjoy putting up pictures and posts for you all...I hope you enjoy the peek into our life too. :-) Here is the local concert hall. We went to a string quartet concert here. It was quite amazing. There were 4 male players, all professionals from New York. I wish I could have taken a picture of them playing but it was forbidden. We sat right in the center front row so we got to see them playing up close. With two violins, one violia, and one cello, the music was just beautiful. This was the first time we had ever heard a violia being played. This was also our first classical concert that we have ever been to and we enjoyed the experience. Here is the outside of the music building. This picture does not do the real sight justice.
Here is our beautiful Sunshine playing with her little brother. How they all enjoy each other.
Here I am holding my sleepy baby. He is such a snuggler when it is time for sleep. Snuggling sleeping babies has always been one of my favorite things.
Here we are all ready for the day. Beloved is such a GIFT from the Lord to our family. How my arms love to hold arms do get tired at times though since he weighs 24 lbs! That is one reason why I LOVE my Ergo!! I carry him in it almost daily at some time or another.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Newspaper Route

About 3.5 weeks ago our family started a new job...all 5 of us! We are doing a paper route here in our small town. When we first started our alarm was going off at 2:30 a.m. and we did not get back home until 7:00 a.m. . We were soooo slow at it. Finding all of the house numbers in the dark and looking at a map doesn't make for quick progress. :-) We are now getting up at 4:00 and getting back home by 6:00 a.m. . Much better!! Six days a week we deliver around 125 papers. On Sunday we deliver 160. Most of these are delivered by us running up to a person's porch and tossing it by their door. Some people have us put them in newspaper tubes by their mailbox. We have had so many, many laughs doing this all together. Imagine with me for a is 4:15 in the morning, quite cold, everyone has froggy voices and puffy eyes that make you not want to smile since you know you look like a big puff, we are all munching away on a small snack for energy to do the route, and we are as stiff as can be. After a few minutes have passed we are pulling up to our first houses. As we each in turn get out to run up to the house, our bodies protest and we look like hobbling elderly people trying to run as fast as we can but our bodies just do not obey our commands to 'RUN FAST'. It is hilarious!! Almost every day we have to laugh at ourselves and at/with each other. Papa likes to make squeaky noises as we all run and that of course just makes us laugh harder. Thankfully our joints and muscles do warm up after a bit and we are moving like normal people. We also have spent quite a bit of time singing in the car as we are trying to soothe Beloved. He loves singing and almost always goes back to sleep if we will just sing to him. Here is Papa this morning picking up our 125 papers. This is the drop location and where we pick up our papers each day.
Here are the troops ready to go in the car. Vision is munching on a snack of nuts and fruit.
Each paper has to be rolled and rubberbanded. That is what Papa is doing here. We all do parts of the rolling and dh and I take turns driving. On days that there is rain in the forcast we have to put all of the papers in plastic bags too.
Here is Vision sprinting back from putting the paper on someone's porch. He does such a great job and wears a headlamp around his head so that he can see in the dark. Sunshine uses our flashlight. We are so proud of our children and their hard work to help get the job done. We are really glad that we are doing this as we can see the benefit of teaching us all responsibility and hard work. Thank you children for such diligence and for being so cheerful while doing the job. We are making memories as a family that we will be able to talk and laugh about for years to come.

Newspaper Route continued...

Here is our dd running up to an older woman's porch and putting it in the little gray tote that the lady would like her newspaper in. The tote lid has a square cut out of it. Here is Papa running up a slippery deck this morning to toss the paper by the door.
Here I am doing 'my house' in a group of four houses. We each take one of the houses and run as fast as we can to see who can get back to our vehicle first.
Here is our little crew (minus the photographer ;-) ) just having gotten back from the route. We are all ready for a little nap...after our little snack of course.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Joy

We had the most wonderful gift for Thanksgiving...dear friends from our home state!!! Wow!! When you live so far away from all that is near and dear, a visit from friends is like precious gold. :-) Our friends, with their five children, were on their way home from Alaska and swung 700-800 miles out of their way to visit us. They arrived the day before Thanksgiving and we were excitedly waiting for them on the corner of the street. :-) We could barely contain our excitement....I had to refrain from jumping up and down and squealing like a five year old. We ate dinner together and sang a couple of songs together before we all headed to bed. We had to get up early so we forced ourselves to all go to bed before it got any later. Here are T & A eating dinner on Saturday. Thank you so much for all of your help A with the many dishes and all of the cooking. You helped to make all of the kitchen work so much fun. Thank you for being such a sweet, encouraging friend.
Here are all of the children eating at our table. They all had so much fun together and did just wonderful in a small house. We are so glad that our children had some time with others their age for a few days. Vision got so much exercise playing outside with them all and he loved it!
This picture was taken on Saturday evening...all of the children were drawing and it was just so sweet. They were having such a great time of it too.
This picture was taken Thanksgiving morning. The daddy's were making homemade butter from fresh farm cream. Us ladies were busy cooking up a feast in the kitchen. We had 20 people here for Thanksgiving, 12 of which were 11 years and under. We had a wonderful feast, lots of visiting, a 2.5 mile walk (just us ladies and the youngest babies) midday, and a lovely time of singing in the evening. T & A are very blessed with singing and piano playing talent and we were all blessed by it. They sang a song for us that is called 'Refiners Fire' sung by Steve Green many years ago. I had never heard it and it was a message straight from God to me. The gist of it is that we should actually long for trials and the refiners fire because it is what makes us into the image of God. Well, I didn't realize how much I dread and do not desire hard times. I am always so thankful for the growth that comes from those times, but I am almost always praying that we NEVER have to go through that again!! Maybe none of you are like that, but God really put the spotlight on my heart and I just repented and realized that I want to be willing to go through anything that will make me more like Jesus, no matter how hard and painful. Wow! Thank you so much for singing that song for me and others three times while you were here. I would recommend that all of you listen to the song online at least once. It is beautiful and the words are amazing.
On Friday we went and played volleyball after lunch and that was great to move around and get some blood flowing. :-) Then, Friday evening we all went over to some friends house and had dinner together. After cleaning up and visiting for a bit we ended the evening with rolling the piano to the living room and singing for a long while all together.
Saturday morning we all went to church together and then stayed for potluck. They left on Sunday after a pancake and peaches breakfast. We are so, so thankful that they were able to visit and felt so blessed by their stay in our home. I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving too!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Reformation Day and Games

This year, on October 31, some friends invited us over for dinner, a bonfire, singing around the fire, and observing Reformation Day. Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Six of us studied different heroes of the Reformation and gave short oral presentations on those people. We also spent time learning about the devilish origins of Halloween. Did you know that the term bonfire comes from the Druids making sacrificial fires on October 31 with lots of animals in them...hence the term bone-fire. We had such a nice evening with our friends-lots of good food, discussion about the Lord and our faith, and precious singing. Not until the wee hours of the morning did we actually get home. Here is a trivia question for you all. True or False--Martin Luther laid the foundations for the Holocaust 400 years prior and Hitler thought Martin Luther to be a great man. History is something so fascinatining to study and learn from. Sunshine did her presentation on a man named John Frith. He was born in 1503 in Westerham, England. He became so learned that people believed that no one existed who was smarter than he. Because he preached many of the Reformation beliefs with a passion, he went to jail for a time. After this, he left England because of the persecution. While away he helped William Tyndale translate the Old Testament. Tyndale loved John Frith so much that he said there was no one alive who gave Tyndale such hope and trust. In 1533 Frith was put on trial for heresy. He was chained up in prison in such a way that he could neither lay down or stand up. At the age of 30, on July 4, 1533, John Frith was burned at the stake for our Lord. He prayed that the king's eyes would be opened to the truth by his death. Vision did his presentation on Miles Coverdale. Miles was born in 1488 in Yorkshire, England. He translated and edited the first complete Bible to be printed in the English language. He was an Augustinian monk. In 1526 he left the monastery and began to preach the reformed doctrines. In 1540 he fled the country and remained in hiding for 8 years under the fake name of Michael Anglus. Miles married a godly woman. By doing this, he made it known that he was against the doctrine of priests remaining unmarried. He died on February 19, 1568. Between his different translations of the Bible and his many translations of spiritual writings he encouraged believers much through the power of his pen.
He is our adorable Beloved getting ready to go out to the fire. We LOVE his hat!!
How could we resist this smile??
This little one is busily watching his brother, sister, and some neigbors play an informal game of football.
Here they are in their big football game. It was fun to hear the squealing fun from the kitchen where I was busy working. I made sure there wasn't going to be any tackling. :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Joy of Worship

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His presence with singing."
Our family so loves to sing and play instruments together and with brothers and sisters in Christ. Whenever we have people over to sing, it is sooooo refreshing to worship the Lord as a group. During the week we sing as a family in the evenings 2-3 times a week. Whenever we do, we almost always have to make ourselves stop at 10:00 p.m.. :-) Dh, Sunshine, and Vision all sing harmony while I sing the melody and it almost makes me cry at times. I love the verse that says God inhabits the praises of His people. Last week, during one of our sing times we were talking about how we can't wait to sing with the angels in heaven to our Holy God! Can you even imagine?????!!!! It will be the most amazing beautiful thing be in God's presence and to praise Him all together in perfect harmony. I can't wait to be able to sing harmony in heaven since I can't sing a hoot of harmony here. ;-) Here we are singing together during our Bible time in school. The little neighbor boy loves to join in and often plays the marraca.
It is so beautiful when Vision plays his harmonica. He is very much a beginner, but I still really enjoy it.
Bible/sing time is one of my favorite parts of the day. We also have been doing Scripture memorization during this time.
Are we ready?? That is a question that the Lord has really laid on our family's heart. Are we ready for hard times, for persecution, for maybe even the end times. As a result of this heart burden we have started to spend most of our school time at home studying the Bible, memorizing Scripture, copying the Bible, praying, singing, and reading very inspiring biographies of Christians who have utterly lived their lives for the Lord. I was recently reading the parable about the 10 virgins and my heart just cried out that I want to be ready for my bridegroom. I think Jesus desires us to live every day being ready and waiting...for Him!! My husband and I want ourselves and our dear, dear children to be ready for whatever the future holds. We don't know how long we will be doing this new school plan, but at least for a season. The children and I are already so blessed by it. It has opened up some really precious times before the Lord as a family that I don't know if it would have happened otherwise.
The biography we are reading together is 'I Dared To Call Him Father'. It is a very inspiring story about a Muslim woman who came to the Lord. We are all copying in the book of Matthew at various spots.
Well, God bless you all so wonderfully. May God strengthen each of you in the things you have to do this week. May we all be more than conquerers.
Help us Lord to not let our love grow cold and to be longing for your appearing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Curls, Bike Ride, & Middle Eastern Dinner

Hello family and friends! I hope you are all having a blessed week. I just had to post these two pictures of Beloved's curls when wet. This is what his hair looks like when freshly washed. We all think it is the cutest thing ever and cannot not stop ooooing and aaaaing over his adorableness. :-) It is so fun to have some hair in our family that is other than stick straight! LOL In August we went on a family bike ride that was really fun. We borrowed a neighbor's bike trailer for Silas to ride in...he did great! We packed a meal and took off into the 105 degree heat. After riding for about 8 miles we stopped by the wayside for our meal. We were all soaked in sweat. :-< Now 8 miles out here is a bit more challenging than where we used to live. The hills here are almost constant which makes for wonderful excerise. After our meal we turned around and headed back home. On the way back we all got cold since the sun had gone down and the temp had dropped about 30 degrees. Since we live at a higher elevation, it is almost always cool to cold at night. We really like that about where we live. Sunshine and Vision did great to bike for 16 miles up and down hills. It was a beautiful ride and Beloved fell asleep on the way home.

The other night we made middle eastern food for supper. We had salad, bread, dates, and hummus. I made the hummus in our blender with garbanzo beans. It was all simple yet delicious! Our family loves to try food from other countries! So far, my personal favorite is probably Thai food. We have made food from Mexico, Africa, India, Nepal, the Middle East, and Russia. It is really fun to make food from some of the countries that we study in our Geography.

A close-up of the hummus. We just spread the hummus on the bread to eat it. This bowl is one of my favorites and is extra special since it was 99 cents from Goodwill! :-) It is so fun to see what treasures can be found at resale shops.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Curls & Cheddar Corn Chowder

I happen to love the art of cooking and serving food. Oh yes, and eating it! :-) So you will probably notice that I am often including something about food in my posts. For my birthday I got two soup cookbooks from one of my sisters and her husband. We are having so much fun trying out these soups as a family. We have only made three soups so far, but are looking forward to making many more. One of the books is titled "The New England Soup Factory" and the other one is "The Culinary Institute of America Book of Soups". Wonderful cookbooks to own!! So here we are having a new soup from the Soup Factory book. It is Cheddar Corn Chowder. Delicious!! This was a wonderful soup! Dh so loves coming home to a warm kitchen with yummy, healthy food being prepared. It warms his heart. Along with the soup we are having salad and bread. Vision did the garnishing of the soup with fresh chopped chives. Nancy Campbell has really inspired me in the area of cooking with love and gusto for my family and others. She has a book/Bible study that I have really been encouraged and challenged by. It is called, "The Family Meal Table and Hospitality". We also have a DVD of her speaking about this subject called "The Family Meal Table". Both of these are just wonderfully inspiring! Here is our precious Beloved who is getting the MOST adorable curls! We can't believe that God has blessed us with such a beautiful, special baby. I am sorry that this picture is flipped wrong. Can you believe those huge, chocolate eyes?? They make my heart melt.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pancakes & Park

There is a beautiful walking park near where we live. There are all kinds of trees and bushes planted there with wonderful, winding paths all throughout. We took the children there to walk and read God's Smuggler together. What a beautiful day! Someone walking by kindly took a family picture for us. Our three blessings! I love this picture and am sooooo thankful for how much Sunshine and Vision adore Beloved! If you were a mouse in our house you might get a bit nauseated from listening to us all coo and oogle over Beloved! :-) Remember Dad how I used to talk to our dog? Well, I am afraid things are even worse now with three of us all talking to Beloved that way. Beloved found this box of fruit that was left on our doorstep. Here is our precious son making pancakes for us. Someone gave us some buckwheat flour so this was our first attempt at making buckwheat pancakes. They were delicious! Vision loves to cook and at times says that he would like to be a chef like his uncle.

How Fun!!!

Last week the children and I got together with one of our neighbors to learn how to make chappatis. We invited another neighbor lady that is from Nepal to teach us. We had a wonderful time! She taught us a few things about the type of food they eat in Nepal and how they spice their food. I find things like this utterly fascinating. It is so good for our children to be around people of other cultures. Our town is really great for that-there are lots and lots of people of all different races here. To make the chappatis you just mix flour, salt, and water together until you have a soft, but not wet, dough. Then you roll them out into circles and fry them. We ate them warm with hummus on them. Yum!! The people from her country eat them with beans, rice, and/or vegetables. After we were done making a few dozen chappatis, we made fresh, homemade french fries. These were so yummy. She seasoned the hot fries with salt, chili powder, tumeric, and garam masala. I would have never thought to put those seasonings on fries, but it was wonderful. On Sunday our family made chappatis and french fries again for our lunch. Dh had not been able to try all of this wonderful food last week since he was at work, so we had a great time making it all for him. He thought is was all delicious as well. Another night we had Vawanee over to just sing and talk with our family. She is Hindu and told us in lots of detail what she believes. We had served her hot tea when she first came. As she was talking to us, she said, "Why do you care about me? Why do you serve me hot tea and sing beautiful music to me? You don't know me. Who am I to you? No one ever invites me into their home and gives me tea." We told her that we care about her because the Jesus that we love and serve cares about her. We are just praying and praying that she will see Jesus' love for her through us and that she will know that eternity is real. It has been such a blessing to be able to be so closely involved with our neighbors here. Apartment living is very good for that. :-) Here is the chappati frying. We also made some non-fried ones...sort of like a tortilla. Here I am rolling them out. She was very specific in her technic for rolling them out. She knows just how to do it so that they are very round. Vawanee talked and talked to us while she cooked. I am so glad that she felt free to tell us what she believes and thinks about things.