Wednesday, July 18, 2018

7 Quick Takes -- Picture style

1) Samuel is growing up.

Samuel cut this giant pallet apart. Actually, there were two this size, I believe left-over from when we received the parts of the Versatube shed (ahem, "house") we now live in. These were monster pallets and incredibly solid. Samuel proudly chopped them into pieces that fit in the truck and helped me haul and load them up.

2) Brotherly Love

With the big kids (Rebekah and Samuel) gone to archery camp, Peter had to find other playmates. (Rebekah and Samuel often are his secondary care-givers when I'm busy. He even calls Rebekah, "Rebekah Mommy" sometimes. 😊) I was not expecting this partnership. But he and Jacob enjoyed the outdoors this evening.

3) Pallet Porch

As I've said before, we are hoping this little shed house is temporary and we are able to build something larger, at a different location on our land. So it's hard to make it home without going crazy right now. But in any case, we have been sorely in need of a deck over this dirt. It's been raining like crazy and muddy several days in a row. Well, thanks to Mommy and Samuel cutting and transporting service, we now have "pallet porches" at both doors. This way we can exit safely to the grass when it is muddy. And bonus, the kids love to play on them.

4) I have some of the best friends.

This could alternately be -- I look psycho in this picture. But in any case, I thank God for all these great Catholic mothers who are sharing this journey of life with me. I am so incredibly blessed.

5) Gordie said to buy chairs.

So we had some folding camp chairs in the garage. But when I was going through the garage with Gordie, deciding what to keep and what to toss, the chairs didn't make the keep list. So being the obedient wife, I disposed of them, the next day, actually -- all the way to the dump.

The day after that, Gordie asks me, "those chairs I told you to throw away. Did you really throw them away?" Haha. Well, guess who needed some seating while helping with a Cub Scout event that day? So being the good wife that I am, I went to buy more chairs. But you can't just buy any old chair. We had to test them out. (Yes, we have a "people of Wal-mart" side to us. 😊)

6) Toys

We don't have a lot of space for toys in our little house. So the ones we have accessible (not currently stored in tubs in the shipping container) have been chosen wisely. And as much as I dislike having toys out and about, it did make me happy to see this set-up today. I like that we have space here for the kids to spread out like this and make crazy games and creations.

And earlier, during "quiet time" Jacob and Paul had made up a game (with many of the pieces you see here) and they kept asking me when quiet time would be over so they could wake up Miriam to play it with them!

7) It's the little things.

The children wanted to make "nests" to play in. I love it when they play together.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Journal # 37 -- First one at the new house.

Out My Window

I'm outside right now. It's beautiful. Maybe 80 degrees, breezy, setting sun shining barely through the clouds.

Clothing Myself In

Tank top and shorts. I might live kind of like a pioneer, but I dress for comfort these days because there is no one around but my family here.

Around the House

I hooked up the "good" microwave. We were using a cheap one I had picked up because it fit, but the door was kind of stuck for some reason. So I got the one from the old house out and figured out how to put it on the shelf (on a board so it would fit -- it's complicated -- I'm actually very proud of myself).

The kids put up a tent this afternoon. That kept them busy for a while. We would have let them sleep in it, but I could only find the pole for one and they were not going to all fit in a four-man tent.

We have a gas dryer, but in order to get it to fit in our house we will have to stack it on our washer. But it is an old-school dryer, not meant to be stacked, so Gordie is going to have to work up some special something or other to get it to sit on. In any case, it's sitting in the shed now, waiting. But he did get my clothes line up and it is glorious.

The water is still kind of a terrible color, but it doesn't bother me so much. Eventually we plan to try another type of whole-house filter (probably in addition to the current) but other financial concerns are more pressing at the moment. I am kind of sad, though, that the dishwasher cannot get the dishes clean (I assume because of the water -- even with a generous helping of Lemme Shine). But the kids are improving their dishwashing skills every evening. And it makes me feel good to have them contributing in that way. (As I feel like teaching them life skills and making them follow through is my weakness -- I just want to do it myself and have it done and done right! But they will never learn that way, I get it.)

The Baby

Peter is the little parrot these days. He says everything back. It's adorable. -- Tonight he was a little butt, though. He was grumpy at bedtime. I walked him some and he seemed to settle, but every time I went to lay him down he flopped right over and cried. I tried three times, then Gordie came home, so I passed him off. Gordie got him settled, though. He's sleeping peacefully now.

The Children

Zipporah posing in the tutu her grandma got her.

Zipporah just had a birthday in June (post coming, I promise 😊). She is really showing her personality. She is stubborn and curious. She can be incredibly helpful and when she doesn't want to, can be the biggest stick in the mud. She cut her hair tonight. . . It's not too bad.

Miriam turned 6 in May. She is growing a little attitude. She can pick on her two closest older brothers (Jacob & Paul) like nobody's business. She is a spitfire when she wants to be. But she can also be sweet. She loves to play with Zipporah and Jacob, too, but not both at once.

Paul turned 8 in May and he is really growing into his attitude. My sweet innocent little boy is being replaced by a somewhat moody, test-the-rules-all-the-time ball of struggle. But I still love him and hope my charming and endearing Paul emerges again soon.

Jacob is definitely starting to mature finally. He LOVES to read so much. He is eternally with a book in his hand. He finally finished his school work (for last year) at the end of June and commented, "maybe I should work faster next year so I have more summer to enjoy." Gee, ya think? Nothing really riles him -- I had to take away his library books to get him to finish his school work. It felt wrong, but it got the job done.

Samuel just got back from a week at boy scout camp in Colorado. Apparently half the troop had a stomach bug while there. Bummer. But he was in good spirits when he got home. He is really becoming more mature and his helpfulness level is increasing every day. He also has quite a sense of humor. Unfortunately he cannot seem to not argue about things and has a terrible time stopping a conversation if he feels he has more to say (even if he's really already said enough).

Rebekah is now 13. Crazy. I keep waiting for her to "turn terrible" but she is still pretty sweet. She is helpful with her siblings and incredibly smart. She is incredibly crafty and rocking out projects right and left this summer. I always say she is proof that God is merciful and loving. We could not ask for a better oldest daughter.

In the Kitchen

Since our fancy-pants monster stove is a gas giant -- so hot and smelly, we have been turning the gas off to it when not in use. But I've gotten super quick at turning the gas on and lighting it up when I need to make dinner.

I made fried chicken and mashed potatoes a few days ago. Everyone enjoyed that night. Roast is on the menu for tomorrow and I plan to marinate some chicken for later in the week.


I'm reading this book called, "Why I'm Catholic and You Should Be, Too." I'm only about a chapter in, but I'm liking it a lot.

I'm also reading "The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children." It is not earth-shattering, but affirming. Most of it is stuff I would intuitively do, but possibly feel guilty about. It is reassuring to hear this guy say most of that stuff is okay.

And I picked up this Pope Francis Morsel book by Chris West. But I am only about four pages into it. It is kind of a devotional book, meant to be read slowly and digested, so I am trying to do just that.

Thinking About

Politics, ugh. Abortion, immigration, etc. It makes me sad. But I know running a government is no joke. I don't want to be making the decisions!

*Also we need to find a "daily Mass" that works for us. I like to attend daily Mass at least once a week (so added to Sunday Mass that makes two Masses per week). It is about 20 minutes to Russell. Gorham is 10 minutes, but no daily Mass there. Victoria is about 25 minutes. Hays 30. And the Mass times are all over the board -- nothing jumps out and says, this would fit right in!! But that's okay. Sacrifice can be meaningful, so I'm just starting to plan what might work for us and when.

**And today as I was going on my daily walk, I took some pictures to remind myself our future plan. We built our "temporary house" near the well and road. But we hope to put our permanent home by the creek. We are thinking of doing a burm home -- built into the side of the hill by the creek. We will need to make a road to it, though, from the main road. And we will probably hook it up to rural water. But we hope to use our solar panels (and buy more and more batteries) for power. But we need to get our Hays house fixed up and sold first off. Then we will see where we stand and what our next move should be.

Some of the creek.
Some more of the creek.

This is where we want the house. Built into this little hill. The creek is right behind me in this picture (and down a bit).

Bringing Me Joy

*Getting in a rhythm of life right now. We have finally gone from scrambling chaos to relaxing a little and enjoying what we have out here. -- Especially the nature walks, the peaceful mornings and evenings, the coziness of our little shed. It is quaint (when I'm not hiding from the kids, or wishing they could be a little quieter).

*Aikido. It is always good to connect with my friends and learn new skills. I only wish I could find time to attend more classes. Also, the kids enjoy it, as well.

Here is Rebekah, getting use the real Katana to do Bokken Kata 1.

Pictures to Share:

Zipporah, in the play dress Rebekah made for her out of a t-shirt and some left-over material.

Peter and Miriam

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