Saturday, June 22, 2019

No Empty Seal ~ Giveaway

    Today I'm surveying my pile of Amish books again to select the one that I'll be giving away this week.
     And ... let's go with the little book, No Empty Seal by an author who interestingly enough wishes to remain anonymous. Other than someone Amish, I have no idea who wrote it.
     It used to be one of my favorite books when I was a teenager. It was a well read little thing on our limited assortment of reading material.
     It's about young Miriam Schlabach and follows her as she navigates rumspringa and the summer of instruction classes for joining the church.
   

     If you would like a chance to win this book all you have to do is leave a comment telling me a fun little memory you have from your teenage years.
    As always for more entries, post a link to this giveaway on your Facebook, blog, Pinterest, Instagram or other social media account and then come back and leave another comment to tell me that you did.
    I will choose the winner next Saturday June 29th using random.org.
   

Winner!

    LV and I just got back from an out of state business thing we had to take care of, and after getting a nice glass full of fresh sweet water, (I miss it when we're gone) I quickly consulted random.org for the winner from last week's giveaway of the book, The Miting, by Dee Yoder.

    And the lucky winner is ....



    Comment #3 magnoliasntea said ...
The best book of fiction I've ever read is The Hidden Hand by E.D.E.N. Southworth. I've read it three times, which I rarely do, because it is that good. Thank you for a delightful giveaway.

     Congratulations! Please email your address to me and I will get the book shipped to you.

      And now, for our next giveaway ... I'll have that post up in a few minutes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bits and Pieces that Stirred Memories

    A friend posted a little something on Facebook about blinking her eyes, and it immediately sparked a memory of an old German song we  used to sing that contained the line; Denk bei jedem augenblicki obs vielleicht der letzte sein. (Think every time we blink our eyes that it could be the last time.)
     German was considered to be a holy language, and wanting to please God I attempted to think that every time I blinked. It didn't take long at all, before I realized I blink way too often in order to be able to think anything other than that I'm blinking. So I quit and hoped God wouldn't mind too much.
~~~~~
     Free Wi-Fi, the sign at the window proclaimed.
     Neither LV or I can ever see a sign like that with out immediately having a memory come to mind of a certain Amish man who was ordering food at a restaurant that was offering free Wi-Fi. After placing his order he added that he'll also take one of their free "wiffys". It took the girl a minute to figure out what it was that he wanted.
      Poor guy found out that day that you can't eat a "wiffy", or Wi-Fi, which I'm sure was a huge disappointment to him. After all when you're Amish, food is much more important than internet connection.
~~~~~
      Working in the attic is bring back all sorts of memories.
      I've made a discovery though, and that is, I value the memory of all the fun I had with my childhood toys way more than the actual toys. After hanging onto them for so long I finally said good-bye to everything except my rag doll, Sally.
     I can't throw her out. All the love I poured into her ... she was my baby, and I still feel protective of her.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Miting ~ Giveaway

     I've been working my way through our storage room and attic, cleaning, organizing, and downsizing. In the process I have come up with this stack of Amish related books that I've decided is time to find a new home and allow some other people to enjoy them.
     My plan is to do a giveaway every Saturday for one of them.
     Up first is The Miting. I had talked about this one when I first read it, and I still feel the same way about it. You can read that post here.


      To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment about a book that you have enjoyed reading.
      For additional entries link to this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or other social media and then come back and leave another comment to tell me where you posted. (One entry per comment, so if you link to more than one social media account please be sure to leave an individual comment for each one.)
     I will be choosing the winner using the random generator next Saturday June 22nd.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Art

     I was in second grade when we moved to the Amish community in Somerset County. There had still been a few weeks of school left, and John and I were thrust into a roomful of strangers the very next day.
     As overwhelming as it was to be the new "kids" I loved school; books, pencils, and learning were my favorite. This new school used different curriculum than I had been used to. During my spare time I found it especially fun being able to go back to the start of the workbooks and do as much of the parts I had missed as I pleased.
     The schedule taped to the teacher's desk promised an entire period devoted to art every Friday. I could hardly wait for it. I used to love all the things we did in art class those first weeks of first grade before a new teacher took over.
     When Friday arrived I was sorely disappointed. The art class consisted of coloring a picture.  And so it continued through the rest of my school years. Every Friday the teacher would plop a pile of duplicated pictures on her desk and we would have to color them.
      I wanted to learn how to draw, but with no one to teach me I gave up on drawing pictures by the end of third grade. Obviously only talented people could draw pictures, and I wasn't someone gifted with that talent.
     Fast forward to present day. I have loved the art program I got for our children to do in our homeschool. They have really blossomed with it, and I love seeing all their drawings, paintings,and art they create.
    This spring I had a light bulb moment. Why, don't I do the same art program? Why not wake up the still sleeping desire to draw and create that was put to sleep when I was nine?
     I went ahead and started. I'm no where near where my children are, yet. But I'm loving the progress I'm making. And it's so satisfying to know that drawing/art is something you can learn. That it doesn't have to be simply something you were either born with or not.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Currently

Reading ... this may sound boring, but I have been enjoying a stack of books by various authors that recommend other books. I'm busy taking notes and planning out the reading list for our upcoming school year.

Then there is of course the stack of books from the library that Steven and I read together. He's especially enjoying the Mr. Putter and Tabby series this week.

Watching ... all the birds at the bird feeder outside the kitchen window. I especially like the gold finches and the cardinals, but enjoy seeing all the different birds. We have a wide variety that enjoy hanging around. The pair of cardinals we have is one of the sweetest though. The male will go get a seed from the feeder and then take it to his "wife" for her to eat. No words to really describe that except ... Awww! So sweet!

Listening ... to the sound of conversation and laughter as the girls are discussing something that is obviously hilarious.

Cooking ... for lunch we enjoyed homemade pasta in a cream garlic sauce. Delicious! For supper we'll have a salad for all of us. I have steak thawing for LV and Kenneth, and the rest of us will enjoy leftover pasta.

Cleaning ... the storage room. We're almost done. We approached it with more of a heartless mindset this time. Things that the only time we see or touch them is when we clean the storage room are being donated or thrown out. I was hanging on to a lot of sentimental things, but taking pictures of the best of them and then getting rid of the items actually feels good.

No one needs the empty candy boxes from when LV and I were courting. Board books, toys, wedding gifts we haven't used in twenty years. Time to say bye-bye to all of it!

I tried selling some of the better things on ebay, but that is proving to be a joke, so donate it is.

This afternoon I'll be dropping off this hand cranked bread dough mixer. It was a wedding gift. I think I used it once or twice. I prefer making bread dough with a bowl and a wooden spoon. So it's bye - bye space hog.



Social media ... I'm doing a post on Instagram every day. Feel free to follow me there.

Later today ... I'll have to go to the bank to sign some papers to straighten out a headache we found out about yesterday afternoon. I didn't have enough time to make it in before they closed, but they were able to freeze what needed to be frozen until I get there today to sign the necessary paperwork.

It's all annoying, but I'm thankful for the way our bank takes care of problems like this.

Yesterday ... we had our annual homeschool evaluations done. Woohoo!! It's always nice to have those done for the year.

Crafts ... it's the time of year when there are so many options of flowers to dry. Did you know using a microwave to dry them works beautifully? It also preserves the lovely colors in the process.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Frugal ~ Cut it Out

     Some things were easier than others when it came to cutting expenses.
     Deciding to not renew any magazine and newspaper subscriptions was an easy decision. Removing ourselves from anything that had membership fees wasn't hard either, but reassessing where every penny went and trying to cut back on some of those expenses was a little more painful at times.
      Having a dishwasher when we had moved into our new to us home, was great. Washing dishes had never been a favorite chore, and this made it so much easier. In an attempt to save money on our electric bill, I decided to go back to hand washing the dishes. Our electric bill dropped by $30. a month which made that decision much easier to continue. And even now, I'm not willing to pay that much per month to have my dishes washed.
     We also realized it is entirely possible to live without a closet stuffed with clothes. That it is okay to wear the same outfit to church every single Sunday for as long as that outfit remains in good condition. And when it is necessary to buy more clothes, that thrift shops have plenty of options.
     Being brutally honest when it came to deciding if something was a need or a want was a huge help in becoming as frugal as we needed to be.
   

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Verse

     "I'll have to buy a new Bible," Kenneth announced when he came home from church. 
      "What happened with yours?" I asked.
      "There's this young man who has been attending church for the past few weeks, and when he told me he doesn't own a Bible, I gave him mine."
       Part of me felt happy that he would cheerfully part with the Bible he had treasured for years already, while a selfish part of me felt sad that he would give away his good Bible we had given him.
      So this week, I went Bible shopping and bought him a new one. It doesn't have the same memories attached, but the words are the same, and I pray he will continue loving the word of God, and growing in his faith and walk with Christ.
      The Bible he had given away was the one I had mentioned in a post on my now closed, second blog.
     Here's an excerpt from that post:
    When our oldest son had a good grip on reading he could be found with his nose in a history book or the Bible. He didn't care much for fiction books even though we had shelves filled with books I had hoped he would enjoy someday.
     When he was eight we got him his first quality Bible and he was thrilled. For the next several months when ever someone stopped by our house he would wait for an opportunity and proudly show them his Bible, and then read his favorite verse to them. Proverbs 7:27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
     The first time he read that verse to someone I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. When it didn't I simply pasted a weak smile on my face and managed to steer the conversation to more pleasant paths.
     I wrestled with what I should do. How do I tell my son not to have that as his favorite verse? And why did he choose that one to begin with? I decided not to address the specific verse and instead try to get him to appreciate some more appropriate verses as his favorite. I didn't want to in any way put the thought into his head that part of the Bible is not good.
     Fast forward seven years. He still loves reading his Bible, and last night when my husband and I were heading to bed, we paused for a moment outside our boys bedroom door where I listened to our fifteen year old son read a few chapters of the Bible to his three year old brother., and then explain what he had read. I had to blink back tears of joy as I heard our three year old say, "More, read more!" when his brother announced it was time to sleep.
    Seeing them love God's Word makes this Mama's heart glad. And so happy that I didn't squash his love of the Bible back when the verse he loved the most embarrassed me to no end.
     My prayers are that, that Bible will bless the young man who owns it now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Currently

Reading ... in the Bible I'm making my way slowly through the book of Ezekiel. It's more of a hard read for me, and I'm having to read chapters from the Psalms and the New Testament as I wade my way through the heaviness of Ezekiel.

I have a stack of library books here that I'm working my way through. I'm almost done with Hands Free Mama (great book) and am looking forward to some light fiction next.


There is also a big stack of children's books that I read to Steven. He's leaning more and more toward independent reading, but as long as he still enjoys having me read to him, I'm going to continue.

Listening ... to the roar of the waterfall. We've been having a lot of rain the past few days and the waterfall increased in volume, both in water and noise. 

Cooking ... we'll be have tuna cakes and coleslaw for supper tonight. It's actually a lot better than it sounds.

Thinking ... how blessed we are with caring friends. On Friday evening Sharon fell and broke her wrist. Seeing everyone rally around her was so touching!

On the phone ... one of my Amish brothers is calling quite regularly. He is working on an invention and since he doesn't have a computer he will call and ask me to do all his online searches for him. The things he has me search for and read to him go right over my head. It's painfully boring! 

Later today ... I will be working on preparing the portfolios that I need to show to our home school evaluator for our children's upcoming end of the school year evaluations. I'm always glad when that is done for another year!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Frugal ~ God's Provisions

    We had come home from our weekly grocery run, and LV left for work. As the children and I put everything away they noticed that we had forgotten to buy milk.
    We always made a gallon of milk last a week, but it was a pretty important item on our grocery list every time.
    "We'll just have to find a way to do without milk for a week," I told them.
    "God could send us milk," Kenneth said, "if we prayed for it."
     And so we knelt in our dining room, and Kenneth led us in a simple prayer. "Dear God, Mom forgot to buy milk so could you send us a gallon? Thank you, and Amen." We all added our Amens and got up to continue our day.
    Only a few minutes later the phone rang. I answered. It was our next door neighbor. "I don't know what I was thinking," she said, "but several days ago I stopped at the grocery store and bought a gallon of milk, I don't even like milk! I hate throwing it away, and thought I'd see if you could use it. You don't have to take it ..."
     "We'd be happy to take the milk," I told her.
      A few minutes later she was at the door apologizing for bothering us, but happy that we accepted the milk.
     She left, and the house was filled with rejoicing at the speedy answer of prayer, and we marveled how God knew we would pray for milk and He had her buy it several days before we prayed for it and waited to give it until we did.
~~~~~
     All the careful budgeting, the scrimping, the saving wasn't helping much at the moment. The weather had been bad, the trees hadn't been the best quality, and the past few logging checks had reflected that. We were now faced with all the monthly payments due and we knew there was absolutely no way we could possibly pay them.
     Again, we prayed, thanking Him for His provision and care for us, and presented our problem to Him and how we didn't have the money to take care of that month's bills.
     We had no idea how He would answer, but trusted that one way or the other we would be okay.
     That evening one of the local farmers came driving in with his cattle trailer. In the back he had twin calves; a boy and a girl. "These are so small, they're not even worth taking to the sale barn," he said. "Every one will know they're twins." (For cows, a girl/boy twin, the girl will most likely never be able to have a calf.) "I thought you might like them for your children, or do with them what you want. Sell them if you like, you might get enough to buy them each some candy." He laughed heartily.
     We accepted them, and the next morning LV and Kenneth took them to the sale barn. We didn't expect much, but at this point every dollar counted.The auctioneer sold them as a pair of twins. The bidding started and kept going and going. After commission was figured off the final price and the check was in our hands we couldn't keep from praising God. It was exactly what we needed to cover our payments.
~~~~~
     It was fall and time to get our winter's supply of coal to heat the house. Once again we simply did not have the funds to buy coal.
     As we were eating supper one evening there was a knock at the door. LV answered it and greeted the old man who was standing there.
     "Sorry to bother you," he said. "I have this big pile of coal in my basement, but I'm getting too old to walk up and down the basement stairs to fire a coal furnace. I have intalled an oil furnace, and am looking for someone who could remove the coal. You can have it in return for cleaning my basement."
     We accepted his offer, and spent several evenings scooping coal into buckets, dumping it on the back of our pick up and unloading it into our coal bin, and then cleaning up his basement.
     We were warm and toasty all winter, and so thankful for the way God met another need.
~~~~~
     I could continue with many more stories of the wonderful ways God provided for us, but this post is getting too long.
     Those years of living in extreme frugality were good for us. They taught us so much, and seeing prayers answered and God's provision were so faith building.
     It's not that our life was sitting back, doing nothing, and expecting God would keep us fed, clothed, and warm. He did, but there were also months where we eked by, without any miraculous things happening. We learned to praise Him in everything. EVERYTHING. I really can't stress that enough. Praise God in everything! Even when it makes no sense, continue praising. In Hebrews 13 we are told to continually offer sacrifices of praise to God. If we only praise Him when we think something good happened, how is that a sacrifice? God is good all the time, and worthy of our praise ... all the time!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Frugal ~ Hosting on a Budget

    Even the simplest fare is made special when served on pretty dishes.
    Those words from my mother ran through my mind as I hung up the phone. Some out of state friends were coming to our area and asked if they could stop in for dinner that night.
     Left over ground beef gravy and the little bit  of rice we still had would not make a meal I wanted to serve guests. Even pretty dishes wouldn't be able to do much to make that seem special.
     Saying a quick prayer for inspiration I surveyed the options I had on hand. Digging into the back of my pantry cupboard I was pleased to find about half a cup of raisins that had somehow managed to escape my notice until now. I put them in soak and prepared to make Mom's "Poor Man's Bars" While nothing fancy, I knew they were delicious and would have to do for our dessert.
     The flour I had left over after I made those bars was only enough for one loaf of bread, and knowing the amount of people I'd have to serve I knew one loaf was not going to be enough. I went ahead and made the bread dough, but then instead of forming it into a loaf I rolled it out in a long narrow rectangle. I chopped up some garlic I had grown in our garden and sprinkled it over the dough and followed it with some dried parsley. I rolled it up and cut it into thin slices and popped them in the oven. They came out as beautiful golden brown bite sized bread pinwheels.
     With that done I went to retrieve the last piece of meat I had been hanging onto for a long time already. By now it was freezer burnt, but I hoped with some love and care and quite a bit of time in the slow cooker the roast would turn into something presentable. I didn't have a lot of option when surveying my shelves filled with canned goods from our garden, but finally decided to try pouring a can of tomato soup over it and hope for the best.
     We were out of potatoes, and didn't have enough rice, so I decided to simply serve two kinds of vegetables instead. Sweet corn and green beans would have to work.
     By the time the guests arrived I had the table set with my prettiest dishes. And was ready to heat the vegetables. "We brought several five gallon pails of potatoes along," the lady said. "We have so many that we won't get them all eaten by spring, could you use them?"
     I was happy to accept them and quickly set about preparing some for dinner.
     Somehow as we gathered around the table to eat it looked like a company dinner. No one would have guessed the pretty bread bites were born out of desperation, and every one talked, laughed, and ate. Taking seconds and thirds of those bread bites and even asking for the recipe. The freezer burnt roast was tender and delicious in its tomato soup sauce, and the pretty dishes, well they did exactly what they were supposed to. They gave the meal that touch that made it all seem extra special.

     During those lean years we never quit inviting people to our home for meals, though I learned to accept the offers to bring something along when someone asked. I would often say a simple salad will be just fine. It was a treat for us to have a salad and everyone always seemed pleased to bring something that simple.
     Somehow saving anything I possibly could from our grocery budget to then be able to buy ingredients to bake something for guests never felt burdensome.
     And through it all the pretty dishes worked like a charm to make even simple meals seem special.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Frugal ~ Grocery

    Having been thrust into an extreme frugal life, our weekly grocery budget was reduced to $20 -$25 a week for everything.
    Knowing that is all that was available made me completely redo the way we ate.
    A single pound of hamburger had to last for a week. I would fry it up in a cast iron skillet and then add water and thicken it to make a gravy. I carefully doled out that gravy onto rice or potatoes to give our meal that little bit of extra it needed to feel more complete. That little bit of meat seemed to work to keep us all feeling that we weren't deprived.
    I kept some sugar on hand to be able to make dessert when we had guests, but otherwise we no longer ate desserts. That was huge, coming from our Amish background where no meal, including breakfast was complete without dessert.
    Some kind of hot cereal for breakfast was much more economical than serving cold cereal.
    I switched from butter, to the much cheaper option of margarine for all the cooking and baking. We still used butter for our bread, but really cut back on the amount of bread we used as well.
     Anything other than the absolute most basic of essentials was cut, which included cheese which I happened to love. I discovered it is quite possible to live without it, though I missed it a lot.
    We had a garden, which meant that we always had an abundance of vegetables, both fresh and canned during the summer, and only canned for the rest of the year. That really helped us even as the fresh produce aisle used to beckon to me and I resolutely ignored it. We ate so many canned green beans during those lean years that by now when ever I taste them it transports me back to those days.
     We saved every bit of leftover food and found ways to either incorporate them into our next meal or simple reheat them. But nothing was allowed to go to waste.
     Paper products ... paper towels and napkins were out. Using reusable rags for cleaning up messes worked great in place of paper towels, and fabric napkins replaced the paper ones. As far as toilet paper, we were happy to find the Always Save brand 4 packs were less than a dollar.
     Vinegar replaced all my various cleaning soaps and cleaners, and the laundry detergent was switched to the cheapest option I could find.
      I always started our weekly grocery shopping with twenty five dollars in my wallet, and kept careful track of the exact amount I was going to have to pay as I added items to my grocery cart. It was always a good feeling when I had a dollar or two left over. I'd squirrel it away to be used when ever we had guests and needed a little something.
      I'll talk more about how I made special meals on a budget, later.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Frugal Life ~ The Beginning

    Living frugally can look vastly different to different people. This isn't the most comfortable topic for me to write about, but it's part of our story. If someone can glean a little something from it, great! But if not, well, it's simply our story.
    I was raised in a thrifty household. Our mantra: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. That background came in useful when seven years into our marriage we were forced to make every penny last as long as possible.
    Growing up, as normal for Amish families, neither LV or I received an allowance. Any money we may have earned was given to our parents until either you turned twenty one, or you got married. I won't go into my thoughts about that now, except to wonder how I could possibly have been so thrilled to have a whopping eighty dollars to my name when we got married.
     We got married and took over LV's family farm. Bit by bit we squirreled away money, saving up a healthy nest egg. 
      Things started changing when we moved to Missouri. We wanted to continue farming out there, but that first year was hard. For some mysterious reason our calves would be healthy and happy until they reached around 400 pounds and then they'd get sick and many of them died. It was a blow to our nest egg, but we finally figured out what was causing them to get sick and we were able to make the changes we needed. 
     But a year later the real blow came. We had left the Amish, which meant we lost our Amish health "insurance".  I became deathly ill from a ruptured gall bladder and required a lengthy hospital stay.
    Thankful to have survived and our happy little family still intact, we now faced the impossible task of paying all the doctor and hospital bills. After we were wiped clean … down to thirty-six cents in our bank account, the hospital and doctors were willing to set up a payment plan to get our remaining medical bills paid off over the next twenty years. 
     Having already been living what we thought was a frugal life, we were about to take frugal living to a whole new level.
    To be continued  … in a series of blogposts of ways we made our pennies stretch and what living frugally looked like for us.     

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Spring Flowers

    I love wildflowers, and when I had the opportunity recently to go on a hike with LV one afternoon I grabbed my camera and we were off.
     The amount of wildflowers we saw did not disappoint.
      Here are a few of my favorites from that day.





Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Z ~ Zealous

    Yesterday afternoon the definition of zealous would have quite accurately described Steven.  (eager; earnest; actively enthusiastic)
    He was busy getting something ready to entertain the entire family later that night. He wanted to keep it as a surprise and worked tirelessly to have everything ready.
     He was so excited as we ate supper that he could hardly hold still as he ate. He helped clean up afterwards, but there was nothing he could do to make the sun set faster, and he needed it to be dark before he could continue with his plans.
     Finally it grew dark and he gave each of us a ticket and instructed us to sit on the stairs. He thoughtfully provided us with popcorn and then turned out the lights.
      Standing a few steps above us on the stairs he shone a light on the wall and passed pictures in front of it to create shadows and pictures on the wall. He had a short story to go with each picture. After he was done he turned the lights back on, pleased that all his effort had paid off and he had been able to have entertained us all.    

Monday, April 29, 2019

Y ~ Yoke

    Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.    Matthew 11:29-30
     Those were two verses quoted often in the Amish church I grew up in.
     The yoke was viewed as obeying all the church rules, but those kept changing and being added to regularly.
      If someone complained they were viewed as being in rebellion to the yoke of Christ, if they would only submit and humble themselves the yoke would be easy and the burden of all those rules wouldn't feel heavy they were told.
     Seeing so many struggling under the weight of what is expected of them, and never being able to get it right I wish they could see that, that is not at all what Jesus was teaching. Truly His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
   

Saturday, April 27, 2019

X ~ X Marks the Spot No More

     Coming up with a topic for "x" can be more than a little challenging given the limited amount of words in the English language beginning with that letter.
     So I've decided to share a little something we saw recently.
      LV had planned a little 20th anniversary/40th birthday getaway for the two of us.
       The first morning of our trip when we opened our hotel door to go get breakfast we were surprised to see a man walking nonchalantly across the parking lot with a big road sign, post and all balanced on his right shoulder. 
      He marched up the steps and wrangled the thing into the room next to ours.
      It was all so bizarre that LV and I just stared at each other and burst out laughing.
       Somewhere out there is a missing  Center Lane Turn Only sign ... or for the sake of this blog post ... x no longer marks the spot.

Friday, April 26, 2019

W ~ Wink Wave and Whistle

     As a school girl, my least favorite part of the school day was recess.
      Having to go outside to play was a form of torture for me the majority of the time.
       Then one year we were introduced to a new game called "Wink, Wave, and Whistle" it combined all sorts of things I disliked about recess games. There was running and hiding and a poor hapless person who was it. 
        I don't remember all the rules to the game, but I do remember winking, waving, and whistling were all a part of freeing and catching the players. 
       To add another level of stress to the game was the fact that my family didn't approve of winking.
       I found a solution to the problem of playing the game. I participated, but chose a hiding place no one ever thought to look in to find me; the back of the coal bin in the basement of the school house. 
       I spent my recess crouched there  in the back of that dirty dark bin and was relieved when the bell rang and I could return to the pleasure of books, lessons, and learning. That was better than Wink, Wave, and Whistle any day.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

V ~ Voice Mail

    In our area the Amish have phones in little phone shanties. Several families will share the use of one shanty.
     The rule is the phone has to be far enough away from the house that you can't hear the phone ring. They also aren't allowed to have answering machines, but since they still want to be able to get in contact with whomever tried calling them they are allowed to have voice mail. They then call in to check their messages, often early in the morning.
     The reason I know they call early in the morning is because our phone number is only one digit different than their voice mail number, and I can't even begin guessing how often our phone rings because one of the Amish people wanted to check their voice mail.
     It's annoying, but I'd still rather have those wrong number calls than all the spam calls. It would be nice though if they could wait to check their voice mail until after the sun is up at least.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

U ~ Untouched

    An untouched photo of a little boy and his cat heading out in the early morning sunshine while everything is still wet with dew to gather a bouquet of flowers for his sister's birthday.


    I know the quality of the photo is bad, but it melts my heart and it will remain a keeper for me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

T ~ Tis so Sweet

    We had left the Amish and found what we felt was "our" church. From our first visit we knew we were "home". The people were friendly and welcoming, the sermons made scripture come to life, and the singing ... let's just say after years of slow Amish church songs the singing was pure joy!
     Not long after we had started attending this church the Pastor announced that Sunday evening would be a little different. Families were welcome to share a Bible reading or sing a hymn, and we'd simply enjoy an evening of fellowship like that.
    We enjoyed it fully, and several months later when he announced they would be having another Sunday evening like that, LV and I started thinking ... what could we do? We absolutely loved the hymn Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus. It was very meaningful to us and we decided to sing it that evening.
     We practiced a few times that afternoon, and when it was time for Sunday evening services we left our house to go to church, a little more nervous than usual, but firmly decided we would be singing.

   

    Family after family went up to the front of the church and did what ever it was they had chosen to do: sing, read, play the piano. There was a short pause and LV got up ... somehow we made out way to the front of the church. He spoke a few words, sharing why we had chosen this song, and then we proceeded to sing it and returned to our seats when we were done.
     
      It had gone well, but that was the first and last time our family ever volunteered to do a "special" at church.

Monday, April 22, 2019

S ~ Swamp

    Off of a single lane dirt road there's a narrow footpath leading into the trees. It would be easy to miss if you didn't know it was there.
      Following the path you soon leave the trees and acres upon acres of huge wild blueberry bushes growing in shallow swamp water spread out as far as you can see on your left. On your right are ferns, wild roses, and many other plants.
       The path continues through a meadow filled with flowers and soft waving grass. Giant lilac bushes and hemlock trees border the meadow, making it one of the prettiest places. An ancient wood fence still stands guard for part of it, while the sweet songs of happy birds fills the air.
       The path winds on with the swamp getting a little less swampy on my left. We can see a pond through the trees, another footpath leads to it. Moss covered rocks line the bank and into the water. A pair of wood ducks fly away as we approach. We admire the bowl like nests of fish in the shallow water.
      Continuing on the main path we pass the stone foundation of what used to be a big house a hundred or more years ago. The hand dug well still contains water. The only sounds you can hear are the sounds of nature. There's something more in the air though. A rich feeling of history, happiness, contentment, and love. Somehow we unconsciously lower our voices to whispers.
     The path leads through more trees and lilac bushes and finally we arrive at a small lake hidden away back here.
      We spend time enjoying it and then head back home rejuvenated. Time spent at the swamp is always a treat for our family.
      Yesterday LV went back there alone. (It was threatening to rain, and I knew the path was already muddy.) When he came back he shared the sad news that some beavers have moved in and chewed down basically every tree back there. I'm not sure I can stand seeing that kind of destruction of one of my favorite spots, so maybe this will be the first year I don't go spend many a summer afternoon there.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

R ~ Righteous

    We were all enjoying some of Aunt Emma's good cooking as we sat around the table in Grandpa's kitchen. 
     Midway through our meal there was a knock on the door. When Grandpa answered it there was a man standing there asking if he could order some boards to do repairs on his barn. 
     Grandpa invited him inside and offered him a place at the table to join us in our meal.
      The man accepted the offer and continued to talk business as we ate. He was telling  Grandpa the measurements of the boards he needed him to cut in his sawmill.
      Grandpa asked him if he has the measurenents written down somewhere.
      The man answered that no, he doesn't that he simply looked at what he needed and decided to come order them.
      "Did you at least measure?" Grandpa asked.
       "No, I didn't" the man said. "If you live righteous you can look at something like that and know the exact measurements."
     Grandpa didn't argue, but provided the man with a piece of paper to write down everything he needed.
      By this time we were intrigued enough that we wanted to know the outcome of this righteous kind of measuring, and when the man left we asked Grandpa to keep us posted.
      Several weeks later he told us that none of the boards fit and they varied between two and five feet off for each piece.
      The second attempt the man measured what he needed and Grandpa cut the boards for him. There was no mention of being righteous this time around.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Q ~ Questions

    The most popular question we receive after someone learns that we used to be Amish is: "Why did you leave?"
    We usually ask them how much time they have to listen to our answer. The super short answer is that we became born again, and our "new belief" no longer meshed with the Amish faith.
     I have shared our story over a series of posts here on my blog, but today I'll share the highly condensed version we usually share with those asking that question.

    It was our spring communion at church and we were all standing waiting to be served the bread and wine. My stomach was in knots and I felt cold and clammy all over. I felt from the very depths of my being that this is all fake, just a ritual and meant nothing. And these words kept running through my mind. "Your new moon and appointed feasts my soul hateth they are a trouble to me I am weary to bear them."
     As we were driving home from church LV was extra quiet. That night after we were done with our chores we talked about the church service and we were both surprised to hear we had both felt sick and had the same words running through our mind at communion. We decided to see if they can be found in the Bible. We flipped through but really had no idea where to start looking. We read bits and pieces and LV announced we would read every day until we found some answers.
     We remembered a verse we had memorized in school Matthew 7:7 (the ask, seek, knock verse) We decided to claim that as our own and prayed God would show us what He wanted us to see. We read faithfully, sure that somewhere in the Bible we would find those words we had heard. As we were reading we discovered there was a lot more to know and learn than we had ever imagined. We enjoyed the four gospels, but the rest of the New Testament seemed like a bunch of gibberish that made no sense. The Old Testament fascinated us with all the history and we kept reading and finally we came across the verse we had been looking for in Isaiah 1:14. We read it and the verses that followed and puzzled over why we had, had this verse in our minds and what we were supposed to do now that we had found it.
     A month later we were in bed discussing once again, the Bible and what God wanted us to do. As we talked we asked ourselves if we were to die right now if we would go to heaven and what we saw was terrifying. We knew without a doubt we were on our way to hell, that even though we were "good" people we really had nothing whatsoever to give us hope to make it to heaven. We got out of bed and cried out to Jesus to save us, and He did. We could literally feel burdens lifted from us and the peace and joy that flooded through us I really can not describe. We knew without a doubt that Jesus had taken our sins, that we were forgiven, and something drastic had happened to us. An hour later when we got back to bed we were so happy that sleep eluded us. We spent the night praising God and looking forward to telling our parents and friends the happy news that we had finally found Jesus too.
     The next day I called my Mom and was surprised and disappointed when her reaction was totally opposite of what I expected. I had always thought she had a close relationship with God and had expected her to rejoice at my news. Instead she cried and begged and pleaded for us not to listen to the false religion Satan was trying to get us to believe, I had to cry too, I knew what we had was not from Satan and it hurt to think Mom would call it that.
     The news that we had gone bonkers spread through the Amish communities like wildfire. The following weeks were filled with calls from Amish bishops and concerned members to discourage our "strange belief" It didn't work. We knew what we had was the real thing, and the New Testament "gibberish" suddenly became clear and sweet and not gibberish at all. We were warned by the local bishop and ministers that we needed to repent and make a confession or else they would excommunicate us (give us to Satan) It was a no brainer, why would we repent that Jesus saved us? We left and have never been sorry that we did.
     Those first few months seem surreal. God was so good to us. He sent people into our life, often complete strangers to encourage us in our new life. It has been over twelve years now, and when we look back we can see how we have come a long way, and we look forward to what God has for us in the future. He has been good to us, He is good to us, and we rest in the fact that He will continue until the end.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

P ~ Potatoes

     Potatoes used to be one of my favorite things to plant in the garden when I was a child. 
     It was fun cutting the seed potatoes into pieces, taking special care that each piece had at least one eye. It was fun dropping those pieces into the deep furrows Mom and Dad had made in the garden. 
     As far as planting the garden went, planting potatoes was the hardest. I didn't realize that as a child. I was simply loving the fact that the entire family worked together in the evening after supper when ever potato planting time rolled around. Creating those deep furrows took a lot of effort, so Dad always helped out.
     Once the potato plants started growing it was finally an opportunity for us children to make a little money. We would walk along those rows and pick the potato bugs off the plants. A penny per bug seemed like excellent pay to us, especially since we didn't have any other money making opportunities.
     As summer wore on it was time to start digging up baby potatoes for lunch. We'd wash them well, and cook them without peeling them. The rest of the family always thought they were a special treat, but I didn't care for them. The flavor of potato skins was something I did not care for at all. (Still don't)
     When fall arrived and the potato plants died it was once again time for the entire family to work together. Dad would dig them up and we children would fill up pails with the potatoes. Mom would sort them into different piles. The biggest and the best in one pile to be stored for use for special occasions such as when visitors showed up. The small ugly ones were bagged in old feed bags and would be used for recipes that needed the potatoes cooked before they were peeled. The rest were for normal every day potatoes.
    It was always a good feeling to have plenty of potatoes stocked up in the basement to see us through until the next potato season.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

O ~ Over the Hill

     Who decided 40 is over the hill? Somehow I have this feeling it must have been someone who has not yet celebrated their 40th birthday.
     I still remember when my parents turned forty. I also remember thinking they're pretty old. Funny how that changes once it's you.
     Today I officially join the "over the hill" crowd. It has been a perfectly lovely day so far. The girls cooked a special breakfast for me and then they and Steven surprised me with thoughtful gifts they had made.
     Rosie Mae has been learning how to make books. She made this one for me. It has a hard cover that she then covered in fabric.  The pages have been hand sewn and bound. It's a lovely book.



     Her second gift was a tin filled with tea bags. She knows my favorite tea is an herbal one that comes in only loose leaf form. She hand sewed tea bags using coffee filters and filled them with my tea.

     Sharon knows I love elephants so she drew one on the card she made. Her gifts were a a big bag filled with little bags to open one per day to make my birthday last longer. I'm looking forward to discovering the contents of each bag. She always puts a lot of thought and feelings into the gifts she gives.


      Steven gave me an envelope filled with coupons. I love how the "anything" coupon has multiple uses. It perfectly shows his tender heart and desire to help others with what ever they need.


     So far 40 has been lovely ... and no matter what the saying is ... I don't feel "over the hill" at all.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

N ~ Nose Covers

   Two years ago, Rosie Mae had been looking for vintage crochet patterns, and discovered one to make nose covers. We had a good laugh as we looked at it, and then she continued her search for a pattern for something she actually wanted to make.
    Fast forward to Christmas morning. We were ready to open the gifts we had made for each other, and it was Rosie Mae's turn to hand out the gifts she had made. She instructed us to wait and all open them at the same time.
    Each package contained a nose cover, and a poem she had written.
    The rest of the family posed with their gift, which also happened to be the one and only time they were ever worn.


     Rosie Mae had made other gifts as well, that she then handed out after we were done laughing about her prank gift. Somehow I can't remember what those were, but these nose covers will remain a source of amusement for years to come.

Monday, April 15, 2019

M ~ Money Saving Tips

    I can't even count how often I have read articles on-line on how to save money. Their click bait type titles used to work on me and I'd go see what kind of secret they know that will help me save $500. a month or more.
    The articles never failed to let me down, and it has been some time since I have last attempted to read one of them. Maybe by now they have come up with some new practical advice to help those trying to spend less, but I haven't been checking to see.
     I'm sure these articles may have helped some people, but the reason they didn't help me was because not a single thing on those lists applied to me.
     1. Quit buying a cup of coffee on your way to work. ~ Never bought ready to drink coffee.
     2. Start packing your lunch  to take to work instead of buying something. ~ Already packed LV's lunch every day.
     3. Don't go out to eat. ~ The thought of eating out was merely a dream, and not a very important one.
     4. Cut your cable. ~ We didn't have TV.
     And so it continued, by the end of the article I was always disappointed to not have learned a single thing on how I could possibly cut more corners, and save more money.
     I had grown up in a frugal home, which probably helped make it a little easier for me when after we had been married for a number of years, some circumstances beyond our control  made it necessary to learn how to make every penny stretch as far as possible.
     Once the A-Z Challenge is over I'm planning to do a series of posts on what we learned during our time of living extremely frugally. If it helps someone, great! If not, well, it was simply part of our life story.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

L ~ Life of Fred

    We were about five years into our home school journey when I first heard about the Life of Fred math books. I was immediately intrigued when the person telling me about them shared how her children went from hating math to now begging to be allowed to do more math after she started using these books.
     Math had never been my favorite subject, but if these books had that kind of power, I wanted to check them out. The price when I first looked at them scared me off, but it was important enough to me that our children learn to enjoy math that I started a little savings jar and a year later I was able to buy the first few books of the series.
     I read those first few books in one sitting. They were so different from any other math books I had ever seen, and I thoroughly enjoyed them, but I wasn't convinced that using only these books would give them enough math for a year of school. I decided to use them as a summer math program.
    Our children have enjoyed the books, and learned a lot from them. Did they absolutely love math because of the books? No. They liked the books, and math makes more sense and has become easier, but it's still math.
     I have liked those books well enough that I continued with my little Life of Fred fund and year by year I'd add another book or two. I still need a few books to complete the university level set, but then I'm done.
     Life of Fred has been a great addition to our home school. I probably could have, but I never relied on them as our sole math program like some families do. I would though, recommend them to anyone who is looking for an interesting approach to math.

Friday, April 12, 2019

K ~ Kool-Aid

     The school lunches Mom made for us, we ate and enjoyed, but they were also very safe from any trade negotiations. No one looked at our fried egg on whole wheat bread sandwiches and thought, "What do I have in my lunch box that I could trade for that?"
      They didn't seem interested in our carrot sticks, bowls of peaches, or the occasional oatmeal raisin cookies either.
       Since the only beverage we ever had was water, Mom didn't even bother sending a thermos along. We could get plenty of water at school.
       We got used to seeing the other students exchange delicious looking food. There were times I really wished we would be on that level of lunch time goodness, but I didn't have much hope of that ever happening.
       The thing that intrigued me the most was the one family, each child always had a pint jar filled with Kool-Aid. I wanted those so badly. I could only imagine how delicious it must taste as they drank all those brilliantly colored drinks.
      And then one summer Sunday afternoon it happened. A family stopped in for a visit. We children had a lot of fun playing and then as per usual Amish tradition it was time for popcorn. We ran inside to get our plate full when what to my amazement should appear, but two pitchers full of sparkling red Kool-Aid.
    I drank my cup full slowly, savoring every drop. It was every bit as wonderful as I had always imagined it would be.
    Kool-Aid never became a regular thing though in our family. In fact it was years before Mom bought more.
     Those first years after we were married, we went through a lot of Kool-Aid. Having a farmer husband who needed something to drink other than water when working in the summer heat made it a necessity. I mixed gallons of it everyday during haymaking season when my brothers would come over to help and they all partook of this treat.
     Strangely enough, I don't even like Kool-Aid now. Give me plain cold water from our well any day, and I'll be as happy as I was as a little girl drinking that precious cup of Kool-Aid.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

J ~ Jam

   Jams and jellies were always a treat as a child.
 
   I always enjoyed when it was time to make jam. Mom would send me to the basement to get the box of used paraffin disks that we had saved from all the jam jars we had used since the last time we had made jam.

   We would put them in an old ugly battered pan and set it on the stove to melt while Mom cooked up the jam. After she had carefully filled our odds and ends jars with the hot jam she would spoon some of the melted paraffin on top to seal it and keep it fresh until we were ready to use it.

    The jam cupboard in the basement always looked so cheerful by the end of canning season. Filled with gleaming jars of strawberry, peach, and plum jam, as well as an assortment of jellies. The plum jam was all of our favorite. Getting the biggest chunk of plum was always our goal when ever it was served.

   It has been years since I've had plum jam, but just thinking about it makes me want to have some. Maybe I'll have to make a batch or two this year.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I ~ Interests

      "What are your interests or hobbies?" the voice on the other end of the question asked. We had already made our way through numerous other uncomfortable small talk/breaking the ice type of chitter chatter.
     My mind scrambled to find an acceptable answer. I don't have an actual hobby, but the things that interest me are a wide and varied assortment.

     So here goes …

     • Studying the Bible … more than just a quick read.
     • Trying new recipes. That actually covers a wide selection of things right there. Everything from common easy things, to weirdly exotic and difficult.
     • Learning more about plants and what they can be used for.
     • Learning odd and interesting facts about anything.
     • Taking relaxing walks through the woods and some other favorite spots, as well as exploring new spots with the family.
     • Sewing … again ever learning how to make new things.
     • Reading, either books that interest me or bedtime stories with Steven.
     • Writing, here a little, there a little. On a wide variety of subjects and ideas.
     • Beadwork
     • Animals … the care of those we have, and interesting facts about any other animal.
     • People watching … fascinating creatures, humans.
     • Music … listening to a wide variety of it, including enjoying the sound of Sharon play the piano. Singing.
     • Journaling, planners, office supplies, and list making.
     • Household tips and hints … I'm starting to jot some of my families tried and true ones down. If I have enough they could make a book someday … or at the very least, some blog posts.
     • Travel
     • Homeschool … this particular interest would provide days worth of fodder.
     • Photography

     The list could continue for a long time. So even though I don't have a hobby, basically everything in my life interests me, as well as a lot of things I would still like to learn to do and know.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

H ~ How Deep the Father's Love for Us

  How Deep the Father's Love for Us has become a sort of tradition to listen to at our house.

  How do traditions get started?

  For our family, it's often quite unintentional. We do something, enjoy it, and do it again, and again until it has become a tradition.

   It's what happened with our birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, as well as some other things.

   That is also how it became tradition to listen to How Deep the Father's Love for Us every Sunday morning while I make breakfast.


    I listen to it occasionally at other times, but now it always makes me feel as if I should be making breakfast when I hear it even though the words are so meaningful.

Monday, April 8, 2019

G ~ Goals

    I'm somewhat of a goal oriented person. I enjoy setting goals and mapping out the process it will take to meet them.

   I have a number of goals I'm working on right now, and a handful that are sitting on a back burner waiting on me to give them attention and get started on them.

    The most recent goal I have made is to make the perfect fried pie.

    For a few years while we live in Missouri there used to be this little restaurant on the square of our little town. I don't remember what they served as main course, but on the dessert menu they had fried pies in a variety of flavors. I've had plenty of fried pies in my lifetime, but these were the absolute best I've ever had. The crust was pure perfection and the fillings were as well. We used to take any out of state guests there to eat simply so they can experience those fried pies. They never failed to be a big hit.

    Sadly the restaurant went out of business, and even though we no longer live there I find it sad that the world is deprived of those fried pies.

    It has become a goal of mine to recreate them. I have armed myself with multiple fried pie recipes, and will be trying a new one every week in hopes I can find one we love.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

F ~Flashbacks

   The word "triggered" is used a lot in todays world. It's not on my list of favorite words, but it's alive and well in my life. I searched for a synonym for it, and came up with flashback, which is what I'll go with today.

   I don't talk about this often, but most of my regular readers are aware that my brother Mahlon died of what initially looked like an apparent heroin overdose a little over six months ago.

    It has been hard, but I'm doing okay for the most part. That is … until someone starts talking about addicts and their opinions of the epidemic or in some instances, making jokes about the use of illegal substances. When ever that happens I am all kinds of not okay.

   It happened again yesterday. I was sitting there at homeschool group having a pleasant conversation with one of the other Moms while our children were in one of their classes. Someone else stopped by the church where our group meets and walked over to join us and turned the conversation to completely different topics that included how a young woman who is struggling with addiction has been written off by her family, which is as it should be, the person talking said in an assured manner.

   Every fiber of my being wanted to get up, and run away. It was hard to breathe, my hands became cold and clammy,  and a knot formed in my stomach. It was a physical struggle to remain sitting and try to tune out the conversation. A silent prayer whispered under my breath for strength, and then in my mind I was a young girl in my bare feet running through the flower filled meadow of my childhood with Mahlon, far away from this awful conversation.

   I'm hoping I won't always have these reactions, but for now "flashbacks" are something I deal with.

Friday, April 5, 2019

E ~ Eggs

    Gathering the eggs everyday was one of my chores when I was a young girl.

    It used to be one of my favorite times of the day as I would get one of our old empty peanut butter pails and head out to the barn. The chickens would cluck softly as I entered their pen to search for their eggs.

   On this particular day I had gathered the eggs, the pail was almost three quarters full and I was meandering my way back across the pasture to the house slowly. For some reason I was contemplating a story I had read recently of a young girl who had a pail of eggs and she tried to swing it around in a wide circle without losing any of the eggs, and had not been successful.

    I had already tried it with a pail of water, and it had all remained inside the pail. Only a few evenings ago when I had been talking about the science behind it all to Dad as we were doing the evening chores he had done it successfully with a pail of milk.

   I was sure that girl in the book must have done something wrong, so without further thought I swung that pail up and around as fast as I could, but then things went horribly wrong. Instead of staying in the pail as the water and milk had, the eggs went flying and broke where ever they landed.

   I stared in dismay at the mess I had created, and then headed on to the house. We had plenty of eggs, if I didn't mention what happened Mom would never know. There was no such luck though. She had seen the entire thing happen, and when I stepped into the kitchen she simply said "I guess you probably don't want to try that again."

    She was right. I have never tried that again.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

D ~ Doll, Daisy, and Dottie

    Doll, Daisy, and Dottie were three of the thirty cows I was introduced to only a few days after we were married and I had moved to LV's family farm.

     Those first weeks all the information I was receiving was nearly overwhelming. Trying to remember the names of all the cows, learning how to assemble the milking equipment, and all my other new duties that came along with being a dairy farmer's wife.

    It didn't take me long to remember Doll's name. She was a greedy, bossy young cow. She could be lying there contentedly chewing her cud, but if she heard the cow next to her drink from a water bowl she would get to her feet with amazing speed and push her away. She was the second cow in the row of fifteen which meant she had two water bowls to choose from. Even so her greed would have her trying to guard both bowls to keep them for herself.

     Daisy was a sweet cow, smaller than the others in our herd. It didn't take me long to really like her. Her disposition was one of sweetness. She loved being brushed and working with her was always a joy.

     Dottie was an unassuming cow. She would have won no beauty contests, being the plainest cow I ever saw. Her character made it easy to not really pay any attention to her. She always did what she was supposed to do, and went where she was supposed to go. Her milk production was average. She minded her own business and was easily one of the most forgettable cows we had.

   We had other cows who gave us more than a few memorable stories, but their names didn't begin with "D" so I'll save their stories for some other day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

C ~ Cream Colored

   By the time I was ready to make the quilts for my hope chest, I had already made hundreds of other quilts that were then sold in my parents' store. I knew the patterns and colors I wanted for my own quilts and I enjoyed sewing them.
   
    I would be getting three quilts for normal everyday use, several comforters, and then one nice one to be used for guests. For the guest quilt I knew I wanted to make it in the Broken Star pattern and the exact colors I had admired for years in one of Mom's quilt books. There was only one problem. In the quilt book they had used white fabric for the fill in parts of the quilt, and the Amish in Somerset County were not allowed to have any white in their quilts.

    No other color worked though, and finally I settled on using a cream colored fabric. I saved the receipt carefully for proof that the fabric was not white in case any one was going to stir up some trouble about it.

    I loved the quilt once it was done, and was pleased how the cream colored fabric worked well in place of the white in the original design.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

B ~ Bridesmaid

   A good way to feel old is having nephews and nieces old enough to get married, and your daughter old enough to be one of the bridesmaids.

   This past weekend we enjoyed the gorgeous spring weather in Georgia where we attended the beautiful wedding of one LV's nephews.

    Rosie Mae was one of the bridesmaids. I had been excited for her that she gets to have this experience, but was unprepared for the emotions I would feel seeing my "little" girl standing up there as part of the wedding party.


Monday, April 1, 2019

A ~ April Fools Day

    As a family we somehow never got into doing anything for April Fools Day.

    I can't say that I mind being able to comfortably live through the day prank free.

    I've only ever officially participated in trying to prank someone on April 1st one year. It was the year before we got married. We were in the middle of building a house right next to ours for my grandparents.
 
    One of my aunts and her family had come to spend a little over a week at our house to help with all the work that building a new house involves.

     They were still there when April 1st rolled around. The boy cousins were working on the scaffolding, putting siding on the house. We girls didn't have a whole lot to do between making meals and snacks for them.

     Cousin Emma came up with the brilliant idea that for snacks we would serve them lemonade and oreos. Only, since it was April 1st we would add salt and pepper to the lemonade and remove the filling from the oreos and replace it with salad dressing.

     We filled a plate with the tampered oreos and a jug with the lemonade and headed outside. We made our way into the new house and handed the "treats" out the window to the boys.

    We waited in anticipation for their reaction to the awful snacks we were serving them, but they simply chomped them down and thanked us.

     "Didn't you taste anything different?" one of us asked.

     "Everything was good," they assured us.

      We told them what we had done, and they simply shrugged their shoulders, saying they thought it was okay.

      We were disappointed that all our effort to prank them was wasted.

      And that my friends is the short story of the first and last time I ever participated in doing a prank on April 1st.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Currently

Reading ... in the Bible, I'm in Jeremiah and Psalms. I find I like to read a Psalm everyday in addition to what ever else I'm reading in the Bible.

Thankfully I got caught up with my sleep since the last time I did a Currently post and I can actually enjoy reading without getting sleepy.

In fiction, I'm enjoying some older children's books. The Year of Miss Agnes is a delightful little read, and Feodora by E.M. Jewett is still every bit as good as the last time I read it. I'm searching for more books by her, and finding it extremely hard to find anything.

In non-fiction, I read Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I want to get my own copy for our bookshelf. I may have to check it out from the library a few more times until I actually get my own copy. I have this thing where if I really like a book I enjoy rereading it, and I really, really liked this one.

From the stack of library books Steven and I enjoy reading ... Rodeo Red was our favorite this week.


Writing ... This morning it consisted of simply getting all the school assignments ready. We're nearing the end of another school year. It feels a little bitter sweet. Somehow these years manage to fly by surprisingly fast.

Watching ... the slice of moon shining in the darkness just before dawn. It's moving in and out of the clouds as it nears the end of its trek across the night sky.

Listening ... Having teenagers with their ever changing taste in music, I have listened to a LOT of different music. Sharon's current go to is classical music, especially Bach. Rosie Mae, on the other hand, has finally found something I simply can't stand listening to; praise/worship in Latin.

Eating ... We've been eating a lot of rice lately. There are so many delicious ways to prepare it.

Cooking ... I'm looking for something simple for tonight. We have an extra busy day ahead of us, and our next few days look to be filled to the brim, so the less time I have to spend cooking, the easier it will be to get everything else taken care of properly.

Wearing ... a maxi dress with flutter sleeves. It's one of my favorites. The only thing that would make me like it better than I already do, is if it had pockets. What is with the lack of proper pockets in women's clothing?

Playing ... lately it has been lots of dominoes and balloon volley ball with Steven.

Crafting ... I've not been doing much, other than some paper crafts with Steven. The girls on the other hand have been spending quite a bit of time in the evenings working on their diamond painting projects.

Later today ... It's been a while since the last time we washed and waxed our vehicle, but if it gets warm enough this afternoon we're hoping to get that done once again.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Uncle Earl's House

    The buildings were every bit as bad as the realtor had warned us they would be. Most of them looking as if it would only take one or two more gusts of wind to bring them down completely. The house was the best of the buildings, but it was crooked and leaning, several boards were missing on the upstairs wall and you could see inside. It must have been abandoned years ago, I thought, but then I noticed a thin wisp of smoke coming from the chimney and a woman stepped out on the porch and hollered for us to come in.
    The realtor led the way down the muddy hillside to the house. "Come on in," the woman said, "Uncle Earl would like to meet you. He lives here alone and doesn't get to see a lot of people."
    I hoped the house would be able to hold our combined weight as we walked up on the rotten, sagging porch. When she opened the door I could have cried at what I saw inside.
    The room was dark and tiny. There was a dry sink along one wall, a tiny table pushed up against the other wall where 96 year old Uncle Earl was sitting smiling widely at us revealing his three remaining teeth. He was happy to see us and talked for a while. Beside him was an ancient wood stove, on the wall behind it was an ancient clock so covered in dust and grime you could barely see its face. He had some battered old pots and pans hanging on the wall. The walls had been painted a weird green years ago. The floor had a 1920's style linoleum that was completely worn through in the most traveled parts. The entire floor slanted toward the middle of the house.
    The niece led us to the next room. His bedroom. An old lumpy twin sized bed was pushed up against the wall. Across the room was his long deceased wife's twin size bed. The pictures on the walls looked as if they should be in a museum, the furniture again was ancient, probably the furniture they had brought into the house back in 1842 when the house had been built. It didn't look as if anything had been cleaned since his wife had died twenty some years ago.
     She led us upstairs to see two little bedrooms, still made up like his wife had them, but now buried under years of accumulated dirt and dust. This side of the house had only two bedrooms. The other side had another staircase leading to three more bedrooms, one of which had part of the outside wall missing.
    This must have been an absolutely gorgeous home back in its prime, but now it was the saddest thing I had ever seen.
    Uncle Earl too stubborn to move sits at his table all day long with nothing to do. Clinging desperately to the past and what used to be. Refusing to embrace anything new. He doesn't have an indoor bathroom, no running water, no phone, no TV. Nothing at all really.
    As sad as I felt for Uncle Earl living like he is, I couldn't help but think of the spiritual picture it paints of someone who holds onto the past and can't let go of grudges or wrongdoings. The image of a "heart house" so overburdened by unforgiveness is sobering.

    Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:10

   Excerpt taken from my now closed, second blog. March 2017

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Why I Stop Reading

    Before you get concerned that I have stopped reading, let me go ahead and reword the title changing it to: Things That Will Make me Stop Reading a Book.

    I try to select books with care so I don't have to stop reading, but sometimes one slips through and I'll have to abandon it. Here are the top reasons I don't finish a book after I started it.

     Fiction:

    Shortly after we were married we bought some books. One that I was particularly excited about reading because of its lovely cover was a huge disappointment because of all the swearing. Up to that point in my life I had never abandoned a book and so I kept powering through. It was awful. I never did that again. If a book has excessive swearing I'll ditch it.

    I used to always, still do sometimes, read the ending of a book before I settle in to actually read it. It never spoils the enjoyment of the book for me. It's nice to know things will all end on a cheerful note and if they don't then I won't even bother trying to read it. Life is too short to read books with unhappy endings.

    Recently I read a book without doing that. I was in love with the setting, with the main character, and the writing style. I breezed through it until I got to the end at which point I felt like hurling the book out the window. I may have, had it not been borrowed from the library and I needed to return it in the same condition that I had received it. So it's back to reading the endings first again to keep a repeat of that from happening.

   The most likely reason for me to stop reading is if it's boring. It's the reason I have never, even with multiple attempts, made it through an entire Jane Austen book, or  Little Women. (I'll pause while you gasp in dismay.) I've also learned that the words cozy mystery are code for boring book and I now avoid them so I don't have to ditch them unfinished.

   Non Fiction 

   I'll stop reading if a book blatantly declares something to be a fact that I know can't be true. It destroys all credibility and I'll abandon it right there. Recently it was a book that said every American consumes over 400 gallons of fat per year. Hello! I don't even consume a gallon of food per day. There's no way I consume over a gallon of fat per day. Bye-bye book.

    I'll stop reading a book if it touts new age ideas, or anything that contradicts the word of God. That has actually taken care of a lot of books that are popular right now.

    Thankfully most books I read don't fall in any of these categories and I actually enjoy the entire thing. I'll have to write about some of those soon.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Privacy Invaded

    I have a decided aversion to public restrooms, and try to avoid them as much as possible. Every once in a while though I have no choice, but to use one.
    Yesterday, at church, I was faced with no other choice. I bravely opened the door and immediately went to the far end of the row of stalls and crept into the door closing it behind me.
     The stall door gives about the same amount of privacy as a hospital gown. I didn't have any scotch tape in my purse to fasten some toilet paper over the gaping crack at the right side of the door so I tried my best to simply ignore it.
     A little later the door opened and I could hear the sound of little feet approaching. They entered the stall right next to me and after some considerable grunting I heard the lock on the door slide shut. A little later the toilet flushed and some more grunting ensued, and finally the little girl simply scooted out under the door leaving it locked.
     Vigorous hand washing followed and then it was time for primping in front of the mirror that was hanging on the wall directly outside my door. I had full view of the goings on from where I was sitting.
     I was surprised that this little girl was in here by herself. She appeared to be around three years old. I watched in consternation as she grabbed both sides of the mirror and yanked at it. I was sure the whole thing would come crashing down on top of her.
    A few seconds later the door opened. "Barbara Grace!" said a no nonsense voice that belonged to a man. "Get over here right now!"
     Little Miss Barbara Grace ignored him and yanked at the mirror again.
     He marched in swiftly and grabbed her up in his arms, but not before our eyes met through that awful crack at the side of the door.
     I think I may need therapy.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Currently

Reading ... the book of Isaiah in the Bible.

I have several fiction books here to read, but every time I sit down to read I become overwhelmingly sleepy. That means I have two choices. Take a nap or find something more active to do. I always feel awful when I wake up from a nap, which makes my choice to find something more active to do an easy one. But it also means my stack of books to be read is not dwindling at a steady rate.

In non-fiction I'm enjoying several cookbooks, and a book on natural cleaning.

Writing ... sitting down to write is about as successful as sitting down to read. Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.

Watching ... giant snowflakes drift lazily from the sky. I have nowhere I need to go today so I'm enjoying seeing everything get coated in a fresh layer of white.

Listening ... to a little sparrow chirping away in the tree in front of the house. The clock in our school room tick loudly as it counts off the minutes of another day. The steady hum of the furnace blower as it pushes a comforting heat through the floor registers and keeps the house cozy.

Eating ... avocado toast for breakfast. It's one of my favorite things to eat.

Cooking ... steak for supper tonight, as well as baked potatoes, and a salad. I have yet to learn to like steak, so I'll simply enjoy a lovely salad instead.

Wearing ... a green dress with white polka dots. I don't like wearing green, but guess what? When you order a lovely teal dress online and it arrives as green instead of teal you simply wear it anyway. Not out and about as I had planned, but it's okay for here at home.

Loving ... the houseplants on top of our roll top desk. I'm not sure how I'm doing it, but I'm actually keeping them alive and well. Up until a few months ago any houseplants we had always survived thanks to LV, but these new ones are thriving without his help.

Disliking ... when I waste card stock and ink. I had to print out several invoices this morning and forgot I still had the printer loaded with card stock from Friday when I had printed out some things for a class I'm teaching at our homeschool group. That meant I had to reprint everything on proper paper.

Thinking ... that words really matter. (It's a topic for another blog post ... someday)

Playing ... Steven received a box filled with special paper and instructions for making over 300 different styles of origami airplanes. We are folding one per day, and then trying it out. The flying of the airplanes is much more enjoyable than the folding. Some of them are quite difficult to make, but I'm happy to say my origami skills have grown by leaps and bounds since we started doing this.

Crafting ... other than those origami airplanes, nothing. We started our spring house cleaning which doesn't leave much time for things such as crafts.

Later today ... we will be spring cleaning the laundry corner which will complete the main floor of our house. That feels good, and almost cause for celebration before we head upstairs to do the bedrooms and storage room.