Saturday, June 9, 2018

7 Quick Takes -- More Country Adventures

1) We are now the proud owners of a shipping container.

Gordie plans to anchor it and partially bury it so it will double as a storm shelter, as well. We have scrubbed it down and hosed out the inside. Gordie is planning to sand off the rust and possibly paint it (before burying).

2) This kids found this turtle.

My kids really have a thing for turtles. They were super exited to discover this turtle one morning.

3) Cooking is an adventure many days.

We turned the gas off to our commercial stove of awesome because it was such a gas giant and causing lots of heat (and being smelly -- it needs a tune-up) in our house. So I've been cooking on our propane grill. But it's not a very good grill. It's had some hard hits from storms and such and does not adjust well. As if I do not have enough trouble feeding this clan, God decided I would do so on  grill I can barely light and adjust. Well-played, God. Well-played.

Anyhow, the other day I cooked a fairly decent breakfast (as in I managed to not burn anything). But lunch was another matter.

I sent Rebekah out to check on things, maybe five minutes after putting the food out. She comes back in yelling, "the pizza is on fire and the corn is burnt. I turned the gas off, but it's still on fire!!"
I dashed out to put it out. But before I could do so, the lighter went up, as well. That scared us both! But no one was injured. After some thought, I think I dripped some excess oil from my breakfast (sweet potatoes dipped in coconut oil) had settled on the grill plates. When I lit the grill for lunch, it soon ignited.

Lesson learned. And the children still ate the burnt corn and charred pizza. They proudly sported black faces from the encounter. They are so resilient.

4) We have started moving stuff in our storage container.

I have gotten rid of so much, but there is still so much I just can't seem to part with. Books, clothes (for kids to grow into/out of), a few pieces of furniture, etc. We got a couple loads here and hopefully will have the garage cleared out by the end of the week.

5) Peter sleeps like the big kids. . . kind of.

A few weeks ago now Peter showed us how he could easily climb out of his pen. So we packed it up and left his mat down like the big kids. Most mornings we find him almost on it.

6) I admire my daughter's discipline.

I often find Rebekah up doing things early in the morning. During the school year she made a list of things she wanted to learn about or do when she had time. And she is knocking out that list. I am very pleased with her efforts.

This is Rebekah's homemade calendar, complete with goals and notes.

7) The kids have discovered they can keep a pitcher of water in the fridge and drink COLD water all the time.

It is a million degrees now days. This is like the best thing since sliced bread for them.

And a few more pictures, just because.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

7 Quick Takes - "Country Fresh"

1) Being outside at our new house is so incredibly peaceful.

Peter and I on a bedtime walk.

I cannot even begin to describe how good it felt tonight. Granted, it is that perfect time of year. In the evening, once it cools down, it is absolutely gorgeous outside. The bugs are not out yet. It is so calm. The birds sing. The quiet sets. It is very well with my soul.

2) We finally maybe figured out a flooring solution.

So we have these nice thick AWESOME martial arts mats that we brought to use as our floor. But the dirt we dragged in on our shoes and feet was tearing them up. So after much struggle and strife, the final product is the martial arts mats covered in vinyl tablecloths, duct taped together and tucked around the sides. Then we have a ton of smaller cheap foam mats from Amazon on top. But they were so cheap, they were not staying together with our regular use. So I went back through and duct taped the seams (on the bottom) and then taped the edge along the kitchen for good measure. It is day one of being mostly done (as my plan shifted a little on how things were going to come together so we need just a few more -- I ordered them, though) and we are praying this holds up. It has been such a pain. And we had to cut the cheap mats on the end -- well, I had to cut them, Gordie was busy with "real work" and I am not good at that kind of stuff. But it looks pretty decent now and feels good on the feet. Plus the new cheap mats take the dirt much better. They just keep it on top so we can sweep it off. It was causing divots in the martial arts mats.

Not quite done here, apparently I forgot to snap a photo of the completely finished project. Maybe another day.

Notice the tablecloth peaking out? Getting creative here.

3) I didn't realize moving changes everything.

We took a brief hiatus from our house in Hays for a year earlier on in our marriage (while Gordie tested out the Air Force). Other than that, this is the first time we have actually MOVED. I was not expecting the mental and emotional insanity that would come with it. Everything in my life has been taken and turned on it's side. It is such an odd feeling. It is a great chance to really ask why this or that is important to me and sort out how it is going to work in our "new life" or if it is going to be revamped or replaced. And I mean, everything is sorted -- not just our stuff, but our activities, our time, our habits, the way we do things. It's crazy.

My computer is full of pictures like this. I just can't get over this view. Still marveling that it's ours. It is so peaceful. The picture doesn't do it justice. The feel here. It's just awesome.

4) Tying into point three, I will add that taking naps and regular bedtimes from my children has caused strain on all of us.

I have tried to get Zipporah to nap. And for a while I was successful. But now, she just obediently lays in her bed and watches her siblings. And Peter will eventually crash, but I can't lay him down in our bedroom, as we have no pen to keep him contained, unless he is dead asleep (which happens maybe a third of the time). Often now I just wait and let him sleep in the car, but his naps are much shorter and not as sound there.

5) Bedtime is a challenge.

With the kids sleeping in the main room, things MUST be cleaned up before there is room for beds and such. There is just no way to "leave it" and go to bed. That is taking some adjustment and definitely setting us back some.

Plus, with so much light, so late, the kids are not ready to settled, although they are definitely tired. We are all trying to learn patience and calm together, but many days there are more tears and screaming than I care to admit.

6) We had our first severe thunderstorm a few days ago.

It was actually really cool. I think it only rained, but it was SO LOUD on our metal building. And the rain came in sheets against the patio doors. It almost felt like we were on a ship at sea. It was oddly calming to me. The kids kind of went crazy, but not too bad. And it didn't last long.

7) Ticks.

Both Miriam and Zipporah had swollen lymph nodes on their heads from tick bites. They did a full round of antibiotics and now we are watching to see if the nodes continue to shrink or show signs of further infection.

We are hopeful though, as we sprayed around the house with a tick repellent and it seems to be keeping them off the screens, at least. We also purchased some Permethrin to put on our clothes and some safe for skin application. That stuff appears to be working well. The "thistle crew" (aka the kids we sent out to dig up thistles) came back relatively unscathed by the little blood suckers.

We have regular store-bought "OFF" with DEET on standby and I have an essential oil blend that we use some, too. We are well armed now, if nothing else. And, we have picked up a riding lawn mower (thank you, God for hooking us up, yet again), so Gordie hopes to mow a nice big space around the house. Then we will probably do a treatment on that area, as well.

In Conclusion:

(Since this is my blog, I can do what I want, like make another point, but not really call it a point. 😊) It feels like things are starting to come together. It has been a long difficult road out here. But thanks to the generosity of many with their time, talent, and treasure (and especially all the blood, sweat and tears of my dear hubby) it has come together for us to have this amazing new home. And we are really starting to settle in. It's not all roses (actually, I don't have any of those out here, yet 😄) but there have been some moments of real bliss. And the promise of more. We are incredibly blessed. And incredibly grateful to all who have helped us along the way. All I can say is that God is so good. And my heart is most full tonight.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Happy Birthday Paul & Miriam

It is that time of year again. That special day of two different years when both Paul and Miriam were born. Here are some photos from the celebrations, along with tidbits about each.

Ice cream cake from Papa and Nana was a spectacular hit.

Check out this nursing cat and kittens Miriam received from her Grandpa and Grandma. It's actually adorable. And the kittens attach by magnets. All the kids loved it. And the cats are super soft!

* Miriam is really into "kitties" right now. She asked for a giant stuffed cat, but she seems pleased as punch to have her momma cat and kittens.

* Miriam loves to ride her bike. This makes her grandma especially happy, as Grandma likes to ride bikes, too!

* She is just getting to the point that she can be helpful with chores like washing and drying dishes.

* One of Miriam's favorite things to do at our new home is walk the oil roads down to the pumps (but not go too near them, of course).

Paul, opening presents at Grandpa and Grandma's house.

* Paul loves to "be crazy." He gets this gleam in his eye and a crazy smile on his face and just lets loose. He's a riot.

* His favorite food is pizza. He would probably eat it every day if I let him.

* Paul can really get stuff done when he wants to. He finished up his schoolwork super quick this year, with very little help from anyone.

* He can really show compassion when he feels like it. Although he often runs a mile a minute thinking of no one but himself, there are some moments where I catch him doing something super sweet for someone else. He has a heart of gold under all that crazy hair after all. 😊

Rebekah hand-made this awesome little guitar for Paul. It was supposed to actually play, but doesn't -- maybe because she had tie the rubber bands since they were too short. In any case, Paul was not as impressed with this present as everyone else was.

Here are some headbands Rebekah made for Miriam. They were a hit! Unfortunately they break quickly, but fortunately Rebekah lives here, too and can repair or replace them for Miriam, almost as fast as she breaks them.

Dear God, thank you for the wonderful blessings of Paul and Miriam. They bring so much joy to our family. Please draw them ever closer to you as they journey through life. In Jesus' name, I pray.   -Amen

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Life Out in the Country

So how is country life for this up-to-this-point city girl? Well read on and I will let you know.

Good news:

We have a tank-less, propane powered hot water heater and it is fantastic. We take nice long hot showers. We have plenty of hot water for dishes and laundry. It is compact and convenient. We are most pleased with this item.

Check out this shower. Yes, that is a stock tank for the tub. It is huge and deep and awesome. Great for baths. And plenty of room for showers -- even showers or baths of several children at a time.

Not so good:

Ticks are EVERYWHERE!! We went for a walk the other day and they did not bother us so much on the way out, but on the way back, we would take two steps and then brush three ticks off of our legs. They were in our shoes and we found some on our heads, too, of course. -- And they are all over our house. We kill gobs and gobs of them we find on the screen every day. The good news is that the kids all know the protocol now. Catch it, smoosh it with pliers, throw it away. They are pros at tick disposal.

We picked up some spray (for ants actually, but the package boasts of deterring ticks, as well) that we plan to use around the house. Not exactly organic, earth-friendly, etc, but we are going insane here and it's time to pull out the big guns. -- We have to weigh the possibility of getting seriously sick from these guys against possible side-effects from chemical spray. It looks like (after some research) the chemicals are going to win out this time. -- We are still using an essential oil blend, as well, on clothing and kids. We'll let you know how the battle goes on over the summer.

Good news:
The composting worms are working great. They are processing our "waste" and staying alive and doing their wormy thing.

That pipe now goes way out and is buried. This is an early picture.

Not so good:

Our water is still kind of yucky. We installed a whole-house filter that was supposed to help at least get the manganese out -- what was supposedly causing the yellow color and terrible taste. While the water is less yellow, it is still mildly unsatisfactory. And even with a generous helping of lemme shine (for the hardness -- which is rated "your-water-is-so-hard-you-could-practically-walk-on-it"), only 2/3 of the dishwasher loads come out clean -- most having a yellowy residue. Gordie wonders if the water will improve over time. Mary is offering up the repeated dish washing and trying not to go crazy. Water is a big deal, you know.

Fancy water filter (made specifically for rural wells) that only kind of helps.

Good news:

The good news about the water is that the reverse osmosis system we brought from our town house, is working great. It takes that filtered water and filters it more, making it taste yummy and actually look clear. So kudos there. Unfortunately it is not suited for the whole house. But by golly the drinking water is good.

Not so good:

No AC . . . yet? We actually have a heat pump we are considering putting in. But we are unsure if our solar panels will be able to power it. Gordie thinks during the heat of the summer sun, it "should" be fine. But it would be an awful lot of work to install it and find out it wouldn't work as we hoped. -- As of now, we are beginning to adapt to warmer temps in the afternoon. There is actually some pretty good airflow most days with both doors open to their screens.

Rebekah loves the outdoors. I found her up here one morning, praying the Rosary.

Good news:

I am really enjoying the layout of the new house. I love having a bathroom off my room. And the kitchen, while lacking in counter space, is very open and bright with light from both doors. The main area the kids sleep, play, and eat in, is a good size.

This cling is on one of our front doors. It brings me much joy as the light filters through it.

Plus, the kids are outside about 75 percent of the time every day. It is AWESOME. I love having outdoor kids. I am outdoors more, too. I never realized how much I missed being with "the nature" (as Gordie calls it 😊)

Not so good:

Schedules. Right now trying to find the best way to get everyone into town when the need to be, in the least amount of vehicles, is driving us a little nuts. It doesn't help that we are still trying to fix up our house in town to rent or sell and that is causing lots extra trips and stress. Hopefully things will slow down as summer comes in and we can get in a good groove.

I rearranged the carseats again and now I can almost see out the back window!

Good news:

We picked up this used commercial stove and it is a powerhouse. Six huge burners on top and an oven that fits four pizzas. It could do with a bit of a tune-up, as a couple of the pilot lights are not working quite right and it is a bit gassy smelling. But Gordie hopes to give it a good look over soon and possibly crimp off the pilot lights (so we would just light the burners from a flame each time -- but it would be much less smelly when not in use).

Not so good:

Nap time is still a work in progress. With such a tiny house and the added mix of having to drive 30 min to get to our activities, napping is not nearly as consistent a it used to be. Having Zipporah nap in the main room sometimes works and sometimes she just lays in her bed and stares at everyone. Peter can nap in our bedroom, but he rarely naps as long as he used to at our old house. We don't really have room for a pen in our room, so keeping him in bed (as in the past he might wake up and go back to sleep) if he wakes up early is not a possibility. But we are persevering. Hopefully we can find a groove -- or the kids will adjust. This too shall pass.

Samuel and Jacob going thistle hunting.

Good news:

I got a new cell phone!

Gordie has had a cell phone for a while. I have carried a prepaid cell now and then for when I wanted to be accessible. But now with Rebekah doing more activities on her own (like volunteering at the museum) and traveling 30 min to town regularly, even though we still have our landline, I decided we needed another cell phone in the mix. 

Since I am incredibly cheap -- ahem, I mean frugal. I concluded Tracfone had the best options. I went with a yearly plan that gives me 1500 minutes and 1500 texts, which breaks down into about 125 of each per month. I've only had it about a month, but keeping myself to those limits appears to be doable. 

And the bonus is that we had an old Windows smart phone floating around (because Gordie had used one and then upgraded to an iphone since a lot of the apps he needs are not compatible with the Windows phone anymore). So I get to enjoy a lot of fun perks, like a nice camera and some basic games or apps. The Messenger App for Facebook is not supported, but I figure that is for the best, since even though 1.5 mb of data is included, I plan not to use any cell data. Although I do connect to the internet at home to stream Pandora and such. I only wish the Amazon kindle app was supported, but alas, I will just have to keep using my Kindle fire for digital books. I really feel like I've won the jackpot of this awesome phone for only about $10 a month and no added temptation to spend all day on Facebook.

In Conclusion:

As with any move, we are all adjusting slowly to the newness of life. It is mildly overwhelming. Okay, that's not true. It is very overwhelming. I could barely feed, educate, and clothe these children in town. Now I have to figure out how to do it in a smaller house, with increased driving time cutting into our schedule and less consistent naps, etc. But I'm confident we will adapt. We are really enjoying being physically closer -- I think. And the outside time is just awesome. The clouds, the sky, the storms. It is absolutely amazing. Despite the struggles, I am confident it is worth the sacrifice.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Paul's First Holy Communion

The jury has been out about Paul. Is he incredibly sweet and innocent or mischievous and sneaky? Probably a little bit of both. But in any case, it was determined he has in fact reached the age of reason and has been allowed to now receive Jesus' Precious Body and Blood, a.k.a. Holy Communion, in church. The following are pictures to commemorate the special day as his first Holy Communion took place.

Peter is two-years-old

Shortly after we moved to our new house in the country, Peter completed his secondly yearly trip around the sun. Here are some fun facts about Peter.

* He is a little parrot. He will say back to you almost anything you say to him. It is absolutely adorable to hear.

* Peter loves to climb. If you leave the ladder out, you better believe you will turn around and find him at the top. He is quite a little gymnast --sure footed and curious!

* He is a sweet fiend. Maybe it's seventh-child-syndrome or some such. My first child didn't taste anything sweet until she was practically three. He's been eating sweet things since he's been able to purposefully wave his hands in their direction. He knows exactly what cookies and cake are and he will eat them, or complain until they are offered once he knows of their existence.

* Peter has a temper. He can throw fits like none of his siblings. Crying, screaming, throwing self on the floor fits. When Peter is mad, everyone around him knows it.

He loves to do what his siblings are doing. Riding bikes? He's in. Sitting at the table, make room for Peter! Going on a walk, let him get his shoes! 

Rebekah made and decorated his cake. A pick-up truck with a puppy in the back.

Happy Birthday (last month) to my fun-loving and adorable little man, Peter. May God continue to bless you as you grow and learn and bless our lives. -- Amen.