CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO READ ABOUT LIFE WITH DOWN SYNDROME

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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!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Best Friends For Life!

When people suggest that Home Schooled children do not get socialization they are wrong!
No one LOVES Samson more than his brothers and sisters. And they introduce him to everybody we meet! Store clerks, UPS delivery men, Realtors, Bus drivers, neighbors, everybody! And who better to be your very best friend, than your brother?

These three adore each other.
The sad part is 4 years ago my Granddaughter Zoe was very close to them up here as well. Zoe was up here every summer with us from the time she was 3. She is the older birth sister of Lysa and Kitty. She is a year older than Miss Faith Blessing. They were very close.
Now it's the 3 of them. Ages 11, 12, and 13. Best friends for life!

Tonight at 1 a.m. I'm waiting for Tom to drive back up here from a run home. It takes him 4 hours round trip. We needed an IRS paper.
As I type it is 61 degrees outside. The dogs are sleeping in crates outside under a big canopy. My British Lab Sassy is snoring! :o)
I have the door to the 5th wheel open and our flood lights are on as everyone but me is asleep!
I am only a few feet from the Bunkhouse and can hear if Faith, the Ladies or Moses, Noah and Jakie need me.
In the 5th wheel I have Mercy, Julius, Pauly, Kitty, Isaiah and Lysa. Kitty is telling me things in her sleep!
I'm wondering if the Raccoon is watching me. He's here at dusk, he hides when we go out and jumps on the picnic table when I go in.
The dogs don't bark!!! Darn dogs! They didn't even bark when the Bear came!

 I'm making my garlic/onion muffins in an electric bundt shaped muffin maker. I make at least 100 every 3 days for 15 people! I was making biscuits before, it was a little easier and faster in the toaster oven, but I ran out of bisquick and I hate "cutting" Crisco into the flour!

 So I am using up the left over "old" bread flour here. The kids love them to much and eat them too quickly!
We only have 9 days left here. :o(
Soon I'll be home with my new double oven, baking everything faster than ever!
The boys liked bread in their soup but I didn't like what is in commercial bread. These muffins have eggs, olive oil, and milk. Altho I'm not a big fan of wheat flour, up here I can't store the almond or coconut flour I like to use at home.
I bake a lot more here than at home.

 Faith is wearing Auntie Sue's hand me down jacket. Auntie Sue was a group home client we had 16 years before she died at 44 from alzheimers. We LOVED her. These girls never met her. But Samson knew her, SP and MA knew her from school and living at our house. She had DS.

 It's so humid up here everything I make gets "soft". You can eat the foods as soon as they're baked and they're crunchy. Only a few hours later the humidity gets to them! I can't put my muffins in an air tight containers or they'll form condensation.
Sometimes you get used to it! Sometimes I miss a crunchy brownie edge! :o) And a crispy biscuit.

I asked Lysa and Kitty if they could tell that Faith has a disability. (FAS) And they said no. :o) I remember when my oldest girls thought MA did not have a disability because she could do so much. I LOVE young eyes, they don't see the imperfections that others only see.
Altho sometimes thinking their sibs are not disabled causes a problem! Like when they ask Samson to watch a brother "just for a minute" not realizing he can't. He either ignores what they are doing, or gets too hard handed with the brother.
I have to remind them that he doesn't function high enough to understand.
And I remind Lysa that Faith's judgment does not make her able to babysit without Lysa's help.

LOVE-LOVE-LOVE these Gifts from God!!
They are growing way too fast. Soon enough God will have them in His Hands without my help.
I admit that I don't always take that well, I often ask Him "Are You sure that You don't need my help God?" And He always says no.
Then I remember that He didn't have to Bless me with them for such a beautiful season, did He!
So I gladly accept that He LOVES them so MUCH MORE than I ever could.
He is the PERFECT Father!
Thank You Lord for such beautiful days with Your children!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Seasons changing

We had a 28 degree morning a few nights ago.
It was cold! But we have lots of heaters, electric blankets, and the dehumidifier kicks out a lot of warm air!

Last night it was 60 degrees. We were hot! LOL!
There's even a tornado/storm warning tonight, north of us along the Canadian border.

The kids caught a chipmunk and let him go. We try to catch mice. Over the winter mice invade the 5th wheel. Last year 25 mice in traps from Jan. to May.
One year a chipmunk did get in the 5th wheel and he did do more damage than the mice. :o( He destroyed my favorite down quilt, and several sleeping bags.

After that cold snap the leaves changed quickly. We will only be here 14 more days. Peek color comes and goes fast here. Then the snow flies as early as October. Lots of fog now since the Lakes and wet lands water is still warm and the air is getting so chilly. Tonight in the 60 degree temps it's very humid. My dish rag will still be wet in the morning!

Leaves are falling all around.
M.A. has her very own commode in the bunkhouse so she doesn't have to use the outhouse and get chilly!

We cleaned up all the fallen trees. Burned all the piles of brush.

We had a drought for the last 5-6 years. A lot of brush died.
When we bought the property 24 years ago it was so wet that the kids wore muck boots.
Now the water is coming back. It looks like the drought has ended!
We now have night crawlers and worms coming back that we haven't seen in years.
The frogs are migrating to the swamp to hibernate. Many many frogs this year!
Isaiah caught 32 frogs, 3 tree frogs and 2 toads. He lets them go before bed.

The frogs and turtles travel from the lake through here.

The sun setting in it's "Fall" position in the trees. This is my favorite view. I love to watch the sun circle the earth as it rises and sets here! You can see it much easier here in the woods. In the summer the sun is "high" and sets late. Now it is "lower" and sets earlier quickly. At night the stars are everywhere!

SP and the girls spending time together! SP always has a nice comfy lawn chair to relax in, even though she doesn't relax physically well. :o) That's her sun hat, there's no sun but she likes that hat!
Faith does her own hair and beads now, 100x better than I ever did!

This little brown bat and its family were not well. This one fell near us. We did not touch it. Another went in Snow's dog crate. The family of little brown bats were acting funny. We were concerned. There are several bat diseases affecting them. But we always worry about rabies.

The kids learn more about Science here than school!! We have hundreds of field guides. Many just for MN mammals, reptiles, flowers, trees, and birds. If they don't know a frog, bird, animal or flower they run for a field guide. We even have books on recognizing bird feathers, nests and eggs.
Our Lysa wants to be an Ornithologist!
We always Thank God for the gift of being here!
The memories last forever!