Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Catching up on life :o)

Our Fall fest or Halloween as some call it, involved carving little orange bell peppers and stuffing them with turkey, mayo and cheddar cheese! Yum! We had a fun dinner after passing out a few treats to the neighborhood kids.

 Isaiah took these nice pictures before we popped them in the oven.

Christmas day the older children came down with the flu. The 5 boys, Mercy and Samson also caught it one by one. We had to cancel our Christmas dinner and warn our company not to come.
I didn't get the flu which was a blessing. I'd had bronchitis all of November. It was a rough month for me. That's our cooking snow "mom" figurine. :o)
Big Sister Grace made these beautiful cookies for the kids. They loved them! We didn't want her to make too many because.........

Grandma sent this big box full of cookies! We still have 1 last serving of them left right now. The kids look forward to her cookies every year! She also gives them fruit and a gift card for Target.
Even though the kids caught the flu, we had a wonderfully very blessed Holiday season! God, family, we are so blessed!

When the older kids complete a school subject in our homeschool, (12 PACES which are like workbooks = one subject) they earn a project of their choice. This is the solar system that Lysa earned. She painted faces on her planets- LOL! Always decorating like me. Lysa is gifted in her school work. She always does her very best. But it does come easily for her.

 Isaiah earned a model car kit that had been my dads. My dad collected a few kits of the cars he liked from ebay, but he was never able to put them together. Isaiah loved doing this model car.
He took the pictures of it for me.

He hopes to one day join the Air Force so he wanted a model plane for his birthday. He'll start it after he completes his Social Studies.
 He has worked well ahead grade level in his school books. He's working very hard! With his dyslexia, this is not easy for him. He never complains. He learned cursive this year. He learned very quickly! He says cursive is easier for him than printing.

Faith picked an art project, but she's been too busy to start. She had her birthday this last week. She turned 14 and she has so much on her mind now. She keeps very busy. 

She wants to go to Australia some day so for her birthday we got her a Steve Irwin dvd, an Australia history dvd, an Australia travel guide and a few Australian items- hat- alligator beads etc.

We also got her a few Word Girl items because she is our precious Word Girl. Word Girl is a fun fantasy she likes to pretend.
She is our Word Girl! :o)
She works very hard on her school work. I have to say she's been my easiest ever to teach 7th grade to. She really studies hard. School work is never naturally easy for her like it is for Lysa.
 Isaiah is my only homeschooled kid to make the "tent" from his Social Studies workbook (PACE). LOL! He and Kitty played "camping set" around his tent and set up their late 1800s "history" reenactments.

It was so cute. I love their imaginations. Isaiah took all of these photos.

 Kitty has some Science projects set up to start. We call her our "mad scientist". She loves Science. She is easily distracted from her school work, but when she gets it done she does amazing work!

This "camping set" as we call it was a Lego toy we bought for the middle kids in the 90's, but these are not Legos. They also use the Lincoln Logs too to make cabins and fences.

Their next project is putting together a covered wagon kit, an Indian tepee, and building a sod house and log cabins out of popsicle sticks. They want to make a diorama of Laura Ingalls Wilder's family home, and cabins. They are using our project table in the basement to set it up. It will be big! They are so excited. We did a huge unit on Laura Ingalls Wilder. They read many books on her life, they read the whole series she wrote. They read a book on her favorite bible passages, and a cookbook from her time period. They really learned a lot about that period in time. They loved it.

Isaiah has dyslexia so he has been a little behind in his reading. But he has hung in there even though Almonzo was the only boy in the books he could relate to!

The girls were thrilled to read that Laura had some of their same favorite bible verses.  

Kitty hopes to cook some authentic pioneer food! LOL!

It's been an exciting end to 2014 and a wonderful beginning to 2015 for our family!!
God is so good! We hope all has been well for all of you too!

Thursday, December 18, 2014's complicated

The other day I was watching a pbs special on race. Listening to adult children adopted across racial lines. Listening to kids of color who weren't adopted.

A young Korean (adoptee) woman changed her name back to her birth name once she became an adult. 

I thought of the time my sweet Grace experimented with changing her name to something more African sounding. She liked Ebony for a while. 

I also remember a time around when she was 11, that everything I did during that period, she judged me by our racial differences. I was the "White" person. I did discuss it with her. It hurt. But I let it go. :o) 

On the pbs special the young Korean woman's adoptive mother called her about changing her name. She told her daughter that changing her name back would not make her more Korean. 


then the Korean young woman told her adoptive mother that keeping her American name would not make her more American. She was quite pleased with herself. The clip ended there, to pronounce the "truth" of it all. It sounded like she had "the" answer.

Except that, that isn't what it's all about.

It's just not that cut and dried.

As an adoptive mom; I would have replied to my adopted daughter that I felt sad, like my daughter was distancing herself from our family by removing her adoptive name. The name I gave her. The one connection I could give her, that gave her LOVE and family. I wondered if this young woman could have just kept part of her birth name and part of her adoptive name. In honor of both families who LOVED her. 

I knew I couldn't give my daughter Grace her heritage as a precious black woman. And her incredible intelligence doesn't come from me! I wish that I was the reason that she's so beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. I LOVE her dearly for who she is. And I LOVE and adore her birthparents,  knowing full well that without them she would not be one of the most beautiful Christian black woman that I LOVE!

I can't make her white or less black. She doesn't make me less white and because of her, I am not black. That's not our goal. We are not a color. We are family.

Years ago my boss, a high level Social Worker with her Masters, who was 10 years older than me; asked me-
"How can a white family raise a black child?"


To which I responded, "Most importantly I will raise her to be a Christian Woman."

Love You! Miss Lovey! (Grace's middle name)      

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's the little things I thank God for!

 We have worked so hard to find the perfect bed for Miss Mercy. We tried a playpen so that we could move it to our bedroom when she couldn't sleep. We tried a regular bed and she hated it. We tried a full size crib that was low to the floor...........she hated it. The consequences of her hating her bed means, bloody noses,(hitting her head against it) bruised feet and legs from kicking it out of boredom, wanting to get up at midnight. Yelling because she can't sleep! OY!

And then we found the "autism tent bed".

But to fit it in, Kitty had to give up her bunk bed. Which she did not mind because she is the best sister ever!
We also found this shorter bunk very cheap at Walmart- but very well made!
Faith's daybed was here before, now the shorter bunk is here. Faith is on top and Kitty on the bottom.
(The curtains are Barbie from the 90s, JC Penney!)

And here is the perfect bed for Miss Mercy! (Lysa is on the top bunk) The autism tent bed..........she LOVES it!!! YES!!
There is more room in the bedroom now, and it fits all four precious girls perfectly! They are thrilled! Tom and I are thrilled! 

 Faith has decided that she is now Elvis! LOL!  (The little TV in the back only plays videos.) She has a flair for fashion! :o)

                                                 Miss Kitty, one of the three best sisters ever!

 Tom showing me where he cleaned up something I had asked him to do! He makes me laugh. We probably spend too much time in our day laughing! :o)
Things have piled up here again, we brought 8 van loads of donations home from the lake. They now need to be listed and boxed for the Salvation Army.

Here Tom's complaining about ALL of the dishes. He does run the dish washer too. We have a dishwasher from the 1980s that miraculously still works! We have a deal- I cook, he washes the dishes. :o) The advantages of working together!

 Kitty loving on her big brother Noah, he's 2 weeks older than her! :o)

 Kitty loving on her little brother Moses! Kitty has great fashion flair too! :o)

My brand new beautiful stove! Two ovens big enough to cook two 28 pound turkeys! But we use our Ron Poppiel Rotisserie (from the 90s! LOL!) to roast our turkey! This stove has 5 burners too! I waited till it came on sale! (2 years!)

Not a day goes by that we don't Thank God for the things He does, that we don't deserve!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Following Christ is not a religion

Two of my precious girls are buried here in northern MN.
My daughter Joy is buried near our home in central MN.
We have 4 plots here. Enough for 16 cremations. We have only 1 space not reserved! Tom and I, the 7 boys with DS, Mercy, (to name a few) will be buried here with the girls.

Tom and MA.

We try to live our lives as Followers of Christ. We belong to the Church of Christ that Jesus preached in the bible. We read the Bible daily and we believe God speaks to us through His Living Word. We teach our children to follow Christ.
Pauly's middle name is Follower, as in the disciple Paul a Follower of Christ.
Paul is an inspiring example of living and dying to self.
Jesus is the perfect example of sacrificial LOVE.
Everything we do falls short. But our eyes remain fixed. We run the race.

We left northern MN in cloudy, rainy, freezing weather. Beautiful! But cold!  Saturday October 4th.

We believe in the 10 commandments. We tell our children drunkenness and living with your boyfriend is sinful. We try to fill our lives with things that support our beliefs. We listen to music that has acceptable lyrics, Hymns, and popular Christian songs. We read good literature. We dress modestly. We don't watch TV shows that are not family friendly. We are active in politics that support the family. We are against abortion. We don't accept alternative lifestyles. We discourage the children from loving the world. In fact Kitty wants to be a Missionary. She even read "Kisses for Katie".

Still some of our adult children have grown up and chosen lifestyles that make us cry. Worst of all it makes God cry. Because He does not want to lose even one of us. We all pray daily for them. There is hope! It's not about being "better" than anyone, it's about being lost, and confused. By the Grace of God it could happen to any of us.

That's why we hold onto our Faith so tight.

The boat is our neighbors. They park it on our side of the property line because they say they don't have a good spot on their 100' of lake shore to set up a dock??!!. We had 300' of lakeshore. Needless to say they are pushy grumpy people.
So we pray for them. And we forgive them.
They don't know we forgive them or pray for them, but God does. That's the beauty of forgiveness, you don't advertise it. It's between you and God. It's not about us. And it doesn't make us better than anyone else. God LOVES us all the same!

Sometimes you forgive people but you can never trust them again. A consequence of their actions. And it hurts us as much as them. Being human is messy. We work daily to live out our beliefs, not just talk the talk. We want to walk the walk as Jesus did.

The lake, perfectly still in the cold.

People bought 37 acres of land behind the lake lots, across the road, so they park in our driveway. I hope the new owners here don't mind. We weren't thrilled about it. People feel they have the right to do as they please. We don't agree. So we pray for them. They didn't ask if they could, they told us. I pray we come off sweet spirited. God places people in our lives for a reason. Sometimes to teach us things. I hope and pray we are learning.

We made this little spot for the kids before we came home. They enjoyed it.
Before they could run and shout and howl like wolves we have them do their bible studies and school work. When we got home they wrote about everything they learned from their adventures of 8 weeks at the lake in the woods. We thanked God every day for each day we were there. He did not have to give us those days there. We do nothing to deserve His Goodness. I'm glad the kids are thankful. He Blesses us so much.

This is a picture of our little camp site. There's a ravine there where the water runs off from the swamp to the lake. The "watershed" area of the lakes in northern MN is fascinating and hundreds of miles long/wide!

To the right you can see a "string" the new neighbors put on our property line poles that our surveyor put up in 2005. We did that when the realtor built a cabin shell there to help sell the lot. They tore down every tree to our property line, but since our first poles were too far over into their yard,- we saved them about 10 of their trees. I don't expect them to thank us. :o) But I'd hoped they'd be friendly.
We asked them why they put the string up, they said they had no real reason. We thought they wanted to keep our kids out. But our kids never go in their yard. We dropped the subject since we won't be neighbors anymore. I hope the new people don't mind the string!!

Four of these kids copied the entire book of Matthew! Samson would have if he could have! :o) It was a project we did to "tuck Jesus into our hearts". They are so glad they completed the project. Two of them did it in 6 months. One took 18 months and one took 2 years. :o) Faith continues to copy books of the bible and put them in folders. Lysa and Kitty do some copying in between school books. Isaiah has dyslexia, so the project was really big for him. He copies his favorite verses.

I hope no one was offended by my beliefs. I don't ask anyone to "listen" to me! I am a sinner with a Gracious God.

I do ask my adult children to read their entire bible. It will change your life. It is a free Gift from God. And God will speak to you about things I am incapable of saying. Because I'm sorry, but it's not about me, or religion. It is about God and His Precious Son Jesus.
May the LOVE of Christ SHINE through us all!

Friday, October 3, 2014

19.25 acres

As we leave the lake behind we move 8 miles north down the road to what I call Camp Uffda and Tom calls The Ranch! We drove over on a drizzly cloudy day Wed.

These wires poking out were once attached to a tiny little rotting house we tore down. Straight ahead the cute little outhouse is all we left. It is not use able- they never dug a hole!! Since we bought the property in 1999 for a steal, the outhouse has housed bats and birds.

The pines are HUGE and lovely. You can walk under these.
We had the property listed for sale for 4 years and last month we got an offer way below market value. We couldn't take it.
I had not been here in 2 years. In 2012 the 3 boys came home, in 2013 we almost lost MA. So I was not able to get there till this year.
Our neighbor had offered to mow. We allow him access through our property to his 20 acres behind us.
But I had not seen how badly the neighbor had mowed it! It looked awful. I was heart sick, no wonder the offer to buy was so low! :o( I felt bad for our poor real estate agent, she hadn't said a word. And I am very thankful the neighbor "mowed".

 So I begged Tom to please mow it back to its former beauty. Even though winter is on its way and he thought it was a waste of time. He wasn't happy but he did it. And it was brought back to its original beauty. No longer sad and neglected.

These four had not been here in over four years!! Four years ago I had a very big surgery and nearly died.
They did not really remember it. So they were initially not excited to leave the lake.......................until we got here!! It was better than they remembered.

The 30' x 60' garage is unfinished and empty. The sliding glass door behind them was destroyed by vandals and does not open, we'll need a new one. We'll finish 1/2 the garage for living. First project we hope to complete before the snow is electricity.

These four precious loves went crazy!! The were instantly in love, running, inspecting, discovering and making huge plans for their new summer home!

Walking in the totally over grown horse pasture that the neighbor uses to get to his 20 acres.
So much to see and they were over whelmed!
It was hard to get them to look at what I wanted to show them- they were running, laughing and finding things they thought were amazing!
The Barred Owl let us know that he was not happy to see us!
At one point they wandered so far from me that when I called them they couldn't find me.........they thought that was cool! We'll need to wear whistles.

The rain has pounded the siding. We need gutters. We hope to get new siding eventually.
On the far left end our old trailer used to sit. To get it there we hired someone to lift it up and place it.

The 5th wheel we have now will sit along side the front of the open garage door. That front garage door was put on for a boat, but we don't have a boat and no time or $ to maintain one. There are double garage doors on the right end. You can slightly see the front service door to the right. The 5th wheel door will be lined up to that door. So we can run into the garage from the 5th wheel during bad weather. So half of the 5th wheel will hang off into the driveway, and half along side the garage. We'll use the old cement pad on the left end to put our picnic table with a canopy over it. :o)

This is a view of the garage from my favorite spot in the woods. This spot gets the most beautiful sunshine. It has remnants of old little farm buildings. Wish I could tell what animals were kept there!

I have the old original Deed to the property. It was homesteaded until the 1970s and then the tiny retirement home was built. They kept the chicken house, pig area. The next young family moved in and put the horse pasture in for their daughter's horse. Then we bought.

The reason .75 acres is gone is because one of the homesteaders donated it to build the Weslyan Church. But the church never built there, it built in the tiny city population 500 or so, 8 miles south. It has thrived and is quite big.
There are actually 3 thriving churches there. A big Catholic church that my surgeon gave a talk at! (small world) And a smaller church of some type of faith I had not heard of.

The front yard pines. There used to be a fire pit here, but Tom says we need a new spot for camp fires.

The day after Tom mowed he came back here to put up shades and curtain rods, and chain saw the 3 big trees that fell. The trash was picked up. It was a big step for him, he wanted to stay on the lake, but he was out voted. He's beginning to love it here.

Walking half way up the front yard. The worst problem we have is gophers!! Oh, sigh, the gophers. :o( The 5 year drought hit the pines hard. We lost 2. The one straight ahead is hanging on by a thread.

This is the driveway going out to the County road. Fifteen years ago the driveway used to be gravel and dirt, and was very bumpy and wide. The land here heals itself quickly.
Unfortunately vandals jump the gate. But since we have new neighbors helping watch while we are gone, hopefully we can stop that.

The kids all ran around the 3 acres we mow. Then they exclaimed "We ran 19 acres!" LOL!! I had to give them the bad news- there's 16 more!

They were running to try breaking the running record of their older siblings. Those kids now grown Grace, Hope, Matthew and Gabriel all raced here first.
At the lake this summer these 4 were howling like wolves and pretending that they were a wolf pack. The neighbors on both sides at the lake were irritated. One side told them "Shut the #* up!" :o( And the other side let off loud fireworks to frighten them. :o(

At Camp Uffda you can howl all you want!

The trash to the right is gone. Thank You Tom!

These huge pines are along the drive way to the County road. The County road was dirt for years. They paved it 5 years ago which is nice, no more flooding.

They paved the road at the lake as well which is not nice. Hot tar is hard on the wild life with heat and water run off. :o( We used to walk that dirt road at the lake collecting rocks. Now people drive too fast on the tar, we can't chance it. Many at the lake also got their driveways paved 75' from the lake, so sad, and ugly I think.

No one was happy about leaving Camp Uffda.
There are 13 in the back of the van now. Mercy took the last seat! You can't see Jakie and SP on the right side in the back.
The little guys were not able to get out and play at Camp Uffda in the rain. It was so wet our shoes were completely soaked.
MA, SP, Samson and the other 6 watched and laughed from the van!

Our cup overflows! Thank You God!
Lest you think our lives are only fun (*wink* wink*) I'll leave you with a thought from Oswald Chambers that defines how we desire to live~

"All I do ought to be founded on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly. This will mean that I can be easily put upon, easily over reached, easily ignored, but if I submit to it for His sake, I prevent Jesus Christ from being persecuted."

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I challenge my adult children...........How will you submit to Him?

Monday, September 29, 2014

My little Vacation Home on Wheels

This is our 5th wheel.
My little vacation home on wheels! :o)
It's 10 years old. Up here in the extreme temperatures- that is old! :o)
Our last trailer was only 10 years old before the floor started rotting and the mice took over. :o( It was a 35' long narrow trailer.
I really like the 5th wheel, with the "upstairs" bed/bath and the living room/kitchen slide out. It's roomier and easier to sleep more kids! :o)

I also love the extra outside, under trailer, storage on the 5th wheel. The old trailer just had one area underneath outside to store.

We are moving the 5th wheel 8 miles north onto our 19 acres of woods/swamp. :o) Where we also have a garage shell on cement that is 30' x 60'. We had moved our old trailer there and vandals destroyed it. :o( We had to get rid of it. Now we have neighbors behind us who asked if they could have access thru our yard to their back dry land. We said yes, and now they mow and watch out for us when we are not there! The Lord blessed us with kind new neighbors there! The neighbors on our other side never even called us each time we were vandalized, we would have called them!!

I call the 19 acres Camp Uffda because we worked so hard to clean it up. Tom calls it The Ranch, because he mows 3 acres of it with a regular lawn mower! We tore down the plywood house built there in the 70s, and the rotting out buildings. We had the trash piles hauled away that even had appliances in them and one had an old car shell!! It's beautiful now. But we actually paid more to fix it up than it is worth on the market. We were offered $40,000.00 but we've put in about $60,000.00. They don't appreciate the wetlands and the Tamaracks. At least we can afford the taxes! Taxes on the lake are outrageous!

Next year the kids will make new memories there! First on the agenda- a real club house!

The old trailer we had before was built better. But it was lower to the ground, settling in more each year. That caused the floor rot. You need a lot of ventilation in this humidity. The 5th wheel sits a lot higher which is good for ventilation, but MA and SP can't get in and out of it easily. So they use the bunk house.

The manufacturer of the 5th wheel did not allow for freezing and expanding in the extremes here. :o( My linoleum flooring is duct taped everywhere that it it tears each year from freezing and thawing. :o(

The slider is great, but it must be pulled out manually if the ground is not perfectly level. :o( The ground here is never perfectly level!
So Tom lays under the slider and cranks it in and out with a wrench by hand, Isaiah presses the electric switch inside the door, and Kitty, Faith, Lysa and I push or pull!

I love the view from the back window. I can see the lake.
We get nice breezes from the north through it!
At night we can't leave that window open, a bear could crawl in! And don't think they wouldn't try! My crockpot sits right there and they break in for food through screens in cabin porches all around us!
The green garage door is the front of the bunk house.

I'm just a few feet from the bunk house, I can open my door and call in someone from the bunk house if I need them. :o)
The old trailer was even closer, so we could talk through the window!

This is the side view of the 5th wheel as seen from the bunk house.
The aluminum foil keeps the sun from heating up the back bunks. It's surprising how hot the sun can get coming through those windows at that angle.
I love that it's air conditioned! The bunk house has a window A/C unit.
The little window on the side is over the kitchen sink. The window in front is where Pauly sleeps next to me. He stands up and peeks out at night when he thinks I'm not watching!

Our Guardian Angel, always watching big boy Snow! :o) He watches and lets me know when someone is getting into trouble! He alerts me if things aren't right. Now if only he'd bark when he sees the bear? He even sleeps through coyotes who come very close!
He's not white up here anymore, he's yellowish tan from the pine needles. When I get home I'll comb out the dead hair and he'll turn white again! It takes 2 days to comb him!

Julius' bed is next to the dining table so we can walk through. The tent top keeps him from snacking off the table at night! :o) We leave the tent open, he doesn't get out of bed- he just nibbles! :o)
Kitty has come in for some biscuits! I bake non-stop to feed the troups!

We need new camping vests! :o) They grow too fast! My crazy eclectic 10 years of decorating! Most of it went in the dumpster in August. I cut back believe it or not!

Through the windows on the right you can see the lake.
We are about 60' from the shore. Cabins must be 75' from shore. The 5th wheel can be slightly closer since it is not "permanent".  Due to erosion we've lost about 1 foot of  lake shore. With the constant winds from the North pounding it.
We are on the South side of the lake. Growing up from age 3 to 19 yrs old at my parent's cabin/lake, we were on the South side too. I do like it out of habit. Our big garage at Camp Uffda sits at the same "South" angle 8 miles away! How crazy is that?

There's my 8 qt crock pot in the back. They all eat 8 qts of soup a day!
Love making soup in my crockpot.
As well as chicken and beef.

This day I'm making garlic/onion muffins. 19 cups of flour, 12 eggs, 9 Tablespoons of Baking Powder. Phew!! I'm using my little electric muffin maker- I love it- they never burn in there! In the toaster oven I have to watch them closely! I get called to "look" at things often, so I forget them often!
That's a Tupperware mega bowl- the only bowl big enough to feed my crowd!
There aren't enough outlets in this 5th wheel. A few have died. Tom was only able to fix one. So I have few left.
When it's hot I plug things in at the big garage. When it's cool like now the crockpot and my hot water pot help keep the trailer warm.

The couch where Kitty sleeps and Mercy's playpen. Mercy's quite big for the playpen but she kicks and rolls around so much she falls off of beds!
The TV we get one channel on and watch DVDs to the right.

The back bed room with 2 bunks, Isaiah on top, Lysa on the bottom. They are nice big bunks. The windows on them are not good though, the kids kick them all night- the blinds go clank- clank and get bent up. :o(
In the old trailer I made beautiful wilderness curtains. These windows have no curtain rods.
Only blinds.

 We use the fridge for baking pan storage, the freezer holds medications. (we have a full size fridg in the big garage) The Toaster oven is to the left on the kitchen counter. I forgot to take a photo of the kitchen counter!

Side view from the lake. They play tetherball is on this side.

One of my favorite views of when the sun sets. Our property runs all the way to the boat you see on the right. It's the neighbors boat. We have a 50 year old aluminum row boat! :o) We own almost 300' of lakeshore.

Everyday we Thank God for our time here. I always tell the kids- God did not have to let us come here! And we all agree, we have truly been blessed by our 24 years here! Praising God for sharing this with us!
It's an over flowing blessing to take my little vacation home on wheels down the road to new adventures!