Monday, December 30, 2019

New Year's Goals

     We enjoy creating fun goals for our family every year, and this year is no different. Our list has been tweaked and polished and we're ready to roll into 2020.
     First up is one that the entire family is looking forward to, but I'm the one they're depending on to be able to reach this goal.
    52 Weeks of Pie ... Every week I'll choose a different pie to bake. If we like it I'll share the recipe here on my blog.
    Next up is another one we're once again looking forward to, but the girls will be helping me see this one through.
    52 Weeks of Sunday Morning Breakfasts ... our week day breakfasts have become quite discombobulated. With three members of the family having to leave for work at three different times, they get up at different times and have their own breakfasts. And then Sharon and Steven get up even later and eat. Having four different breakfast times is not ideal for family togetherness. So with Pinterest and cookbooks for inspiration we are looking forward to a different breakfast every Sunday morning that we'll get to enjoy together.
    52 Weeks of Crafts ... This one is geared more toward only Sharon, Steven and I where once a week we'll hop on Pinterest to choose a craft to make.
    52 Weeks of Games ... we have quite an assortment of games, and decided we want to play a different one every week in addition to playing our favorites.
    We have some other goals as well, but we haven't made them into weekly events. These include sewing, hiking, learning a new skill, and more.
    I'm already looking forward to meeting all these goals. It should be an interesting and delicious 2020.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Picture my December

Our area got coated in a thick layer of ice that stuck around for a week. Trees looked beautiful coated like this, but there were many branches lost, including the one where we had our bird feeder hanging. We have yet to find the perfect place to hang it since losing that branch.

Steven loved spending time outside, dressing a little differently almost every time he ventured out.

The sun made the ice sparkle, which my camera did a terrible job in trying to catch that beauty. Going to town and seeing entire tree covered mountainsides glisten in the sun nearly took my breath away in the beauty of it all.

Cold mornings meant Rosie Mae had to scrape ice and frost off her car before leaving for work. She seems to enjoy it.

Our annual Christmas box from my parents arrived. The small package on the lower left hand side of the picture had a piece of paper wrapped around it, and Mom had written a few sweet words on it. I decided to wait to open it, sure that what ever was inside couldn't be as special as what she wrote on the outside. After opening it I discovered a lovely letter opener my brother Mahlon had made, and immediately burst into tears. I'll treasure it for always!

After wiping my tears I noticed this rainbow on the floor in the laundry room and had to smile. I have no way of explaining how it can appear there. It really makes no sense logically. It never did before Mahlon died, but now on days when I'm really missing him, little rainbows appear. They always make me smile, and always turn my thoughts to God in praise for His love and care.

Sharon was offered the job of being one of the chefs on the train. She accepted it, and absolutely loved it. Running her to and from the train yard kept our weekends extra full, but I was happy she got to experience this.

Christmas Day rolled around and we did our traditional 'children in front of the tree' picture. We had a lovely day even though I took an accidental nap most of the afternoon. While I was sleeping the guys decided to wash their vehicles. Not very festive, I know.

 Of the gifts the children gave each other my favorite was a beaded bracelet that Steven gave to Sharon. He spent a lot of time painstakingly making sure each little bead was in the proper place to create the pattern he wanted. All the gifts were all thoughtful, heartfelt, and meaningful.

I don't know if I'll be making another blog post before the new year rolls around, so I'll take a minute now to wish everyone a happy and blessed New Year! 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Listening to Music - Then vs. Now

     Growing up, singing was our only acceptable form of music. Even though we sang, a LOT, there was something in me that craved music.
     Visiting stores in town was great since they always had music playing. Getting to town, most of the time involved having to hire a driver to take you there. They always had Country music playing, and I soaked it up, thankful for every red light we had to stop at, or slow school bus we had to follow home. Anything to prolong the opportunity to listen to music.
      I still love music, but I can happily drive without the radio turned on. My taste in music has changed as well, and unless it's one of my favorite songs from my teen years, I can't make myself listen to Country music.
      Yesterday we were out and about, and when it was time to go home one of Sharon's friends decided to come with us.
      We got in our vehicle and as I turned the key to start it, the radio started playing. I turned the volume down a bit (so I can better listen to the girl's fun conversation). For some reason that took me back to when I was eighteen years old.
     My parents had sent me to do some errands. The driver had his radio tuned to the local Country station. He chatted as he drove along, and I tried my best to keep up with his conversation while at the same time soaking up the music.
     When we got to town he announced he has an errand to run as well, and pulled in to a store. Before going in he showed me how to adjust the volume on the radio. He exited the vehicle with the radio turned up loud.
      Being the good little Amish girl I was, there was no way I was going to touch the knob to adjust the volume, but I sat there reveling in the music that enveloped me.
      Song after song played as the driver took his time in completing his errand.
      When he finally exited the building and made his way across the parking lot I could see his agitation build as he marched faster and faster toward his truck. He yanked the drivers door open, reached in, and turned down the music so that you could barely hear it. The remainder of the way home he was quiet as well. I was sad I couldn't listen to the music on the way home, but that time of uninterrupted listening had made this silent trip worth it.
     Those thirty some minutes of listening to music at that volume earned me a visit from the bishop. I told him I hadn't touched the radio, and left it at the volume the driver had it when he adjusted it to show me how to operate it. My explanation seemed to satisfy him and I was relieved to not have to make a confession in church.
     Now since I no longer fear visits from the bishop, if you'll excuse me, I'll go turn on some Christmas music to listen to as I do the morning chores.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Missing Keys

     I don't function the best when I get only a little over four hours of sleep in a night.
     The latest reason for my loss of sleep started when we were getting ready for bed, at a reasonable hour, but first had to run out to the vehicle to retrieve something. It was at that moment when the discovery was made that the car keys were not in the purse where they should be.
     No need to panic though, they should be nearby. But after a few minutes of searching with no keys being found, it was time for the rest of the family to step in and help search.

     The purse was emptied of all its contents: a wallet, coin purse, receipts, a small bag of Butterfinger bites, and various other things that seem to end up in a big purse. The keys weren't there.
     The trash can was carefully emptied, piece by piece, into Walmart bags, but no keys.
     The ground under the porch steps was searched. The big beautiful rhododendron bush that grows around the porch steps seemed a lot less beautiful in the freezing cold darkness, It made it quite difficult to get under the stairs to see if the keys accidentally fell there on the way inside earlier in the day.
     The couches were moved forward, the cushions removed, and then relieved of the pens and other things that had been hiding underneath.
     Drawers were rummaged through and put back in order, but the keys remained missing.
     Time kept ticking by, the good will of all involved was starting to become less good, and the owner of said keys was beginning to panic.
     The purse was searched again and for some reason we looked inside the bag of Butterfinger bites, and there they were. They had been in that purse the entire two plus hours we spent looking for them.
     We went to bed in a mix of disgruntled relief. Morning came long before I was ready. That is the story behind the sleepy fog I'm wading through now.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Carolers / Singing

     "Have you ever gone caroling?" Sharon wanted to know this morning.
     "No, I haven't," I told her, "but we've had carolers come to our house. All of which happened at extremely inconvenient times. Providing memories I don't cherish."
     "I may never have gone caroling, but I had been part of a group that goes singing for 'shut-ins' when I was a teenager," I told her, "and also had roles reversed when I was the 'shut-in'."
     She wanted to hear all about it
     It was the spring before we got married, and I was recovering from a broken ankle.
     My days were spent reading, which helped time fly by quite swiftly. I had other options to occupy my time, but I had always despised hand sewing and needlework projects, so I didn't do much of that at all.
     One afternoon I was yanked back to reality from the book I had been engrossed in when I heard voices outside the window. I craned my neck to see what was happening, and saw to my dismay Teacher Sadie and all the students from our little school.
      They marched single file up unto our porch and then stood there waiting as Sadie knocked on the door. Mom went to welcome them in. They came and stood around me where I was sitting and belted out three songs, presented me with a 'get well' scrapbook they had made, and then turned and marched out the door, continuing single file over our hayfield back towards the school.
     It took me a minute to recover from that. I had felt intensely awkward being sung to. Not knowing where to look or what to do.
    It was a sweet gesture, but I still suppress a shudder when ever I relive it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bits and Pieces

    For some reason birds have begun flying into one of our windows semi regularly.
    They're not simply attacking their reflection, but instead flying full speed into the window with a sickening thump, falling on the porch seriously dazed, and sometimes injured.
    I feel so sorry for them.
    Last week there was another thump, bump, followed by silence.
    Not long afterwards Sharon went out to get the mail and came dashing back inside. "There's a bird's heart laying on the porch!" she exclaimed.
     Everyone else had to go see this, and mourn over the poor bird who had been found by our cats before it had been able to gather its wits together and fly off to safety.
     This morning there was another thump, bump, a scared squeak, and then silence. I peered out the window to see if there was a bird in need of protection. I couldn't see anything, so I opened the window to stick my head out to take a better look and promptly thrust it through a spider web. I spluttered and tried wiping it off my face and then there it was. One of our cats having another bird.
    Maybe I'm too sensitive, but I find that it's a horrible feeling seeing this side of nature do its thing.
     Steven organized his drawer of "treasures" and discovered he still has a few coupons he hadn't redeemed.
     One of them was an 'anything' coupon from Sharon. He sat pondering what he could redeem it for when he had an aha moment. "I'll get her to buy me a hotwheel car," he said.
     It was time for Mama to intervene. "Those are meant only for things that don't cost money," I told him. Would you like her to fix your bed, do one of your chores, or play a game with you?"
     He settled on a game, and they're happily playing as I write this.
     For years winter has been my favorite season. The beauty of snow. The coziness of the house as the cold winds blow outside. All the fun winter projects we got to enjoy; sewing, crafts, and things along that line. The long happy evenings of reading, puzzles, and board games. The cooking and baking ... ah, I loved it all.
     It's snowing right now. The house is cozy, the projects are there, and everything I've always loved about winter. But having three family members in three different vehicles, at work saps some of the joy out of winter until they're all back home safely.
    I think fall is now officially my favorite season.
     Homemade bread and taco soup is on the menu for supper tonight. It seems appropriate given the weather.

Monday, November 4, 2019

In Which I Trample Toes

     Saturday morning dawned with a heavy frost covering everything outside.
     Both girls and Steven were sick which meant I wouldn't have my usual helpers with the Saturday cleaning.
      I had to run in to the bank before it closed at noon. I decided to arrive just as it opened so my day would remain on a more comfortable schedule.
     I arrived a few minutes after 9:00, but they were still closed. And then I noticed their clock stated it was only 8:00 AM and 22 degrees. Somehow they decided to make the time change early.
      Several other disgruntled people stood there trying to decide what they were going to do.
     I didn't want to drive the twenty plus minutes home and then back, but what to do with an hour of time?
     I went to Sheetz to get a hot drink to help me stay warm during my wait. I paid for it and as I turned to leave the checkout I accidently trampled on the toes of the person who had been standing much closer to me than I had realized.
     I apologized, and scurried back out to my vehicle.
     It was late before I got home to all the work that had patiently waited my return. 
     And that's how my Saturday was not at all how I had planned, but a bit more interesting than anticipated.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Weekend Wanderings

    One of LV's cousins and his wife invited us to go on a little day trip with them. It was something they have been wanting to do for a while already, and finally on Saturday we ventured out.
    Our first stop was at a tiny church house. Proclaimed to be the smallest in 48 states. It was cute, and after spending a few minutes to look at everything, we were on our way again.

    Next we stopped at Black Water Falls. It was raining gently. We didn't have rain gear so we didn't dawdle, which meant by the time I had climbed back up the stairway of 200+ steps I was ready to collapse in a panting heap in our vehicle instead of browsing the gift shop.

    The final thing on our list for the day was driving through Dolly Sods. The narrow winding road with hairpin turns and steep drop offs was not my idea of a relaxing drive, even though the fall colors were spectacular. I spent a lot of that drive with my eyes squeezed shut trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach. I don't have pictures to share from there.
    I was glad to get back home, but I'm already looking forward to our next outing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Roll and Color

    Several years ago I found a little coloring game on Pinterest. I printed it out and Steven and I played it that evening. We both loved it. He won.
    It became a favorite of his, and we went through hundreds of them, and I'm guessing it would be safe to say he won at least 90% of the time.
    It has been a few months since the last time we played this, but with it being cold and rainy outside it seemed like the perfect time to sort through my bulging files of school related papers and decide what to keep and what to pass on to someone else.
    In the process I came across a folder containing eight of these gingerbread men. Steven saw them and ran to get crayons and a dice. We sat down at the school table and proceeded to play.
    Surprise, surprise ... he still has his winning touch.

    If you'd like to play this as well you can read the instructions for this simple roll and color game, and download the cute gingerbread man, by clicking here.

Monday, October 14, 2019


     Something I have discovered about myself, is that I follow through on my want to do's a lot better if I present myself with a challenge.
     For example, I challenged myself to post a photo every day for a year on Instagram. I'm at day 188 of posting daily. Before that I would tell myself I want to post more, but didn't follow through.
     Example 2: When ever I do the April A-Z challenge I am able to blog every day, except Sundays. We all know that doesn't happen without a challenge like that.
     There are quite a few other examples as well. Knowing this about myself I have been preparing some more challenges I want to do.
      Then last week I picked a book up from the library, called: The Big Book of 30-Day Challenges. A few of the challenges, I can see myself attempting. Others though, amused me, but will not be attempted. Such as the 'rejection challenge', where the rules are to be rejected by one person per day for thirty days. They gave a handful of ideas to get you started on this particular challenge. It included knocking on a stranger's door and asking to play in their backyard.  I can't even imagine trying that one. Other than the definite rejection, I can only guess what other reactions might accompany their response to a request like that. None of which I would care to experience.
     I'm on to other challenges that fit my life more. I'll leave others such as the rejection challenge to braver souls than me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Reading ... through the book of Acts in the Bible, as well as a few Psalms.

I don't have a fiction book going at the moment, but in nonfiction I'm really liking You Who: Why You Matter and How to Deal With It by Rachel Jankovic.  Besides it I have a stack of Taste of Home cookbooks that I'm looking at, choosing recipes, and creating menus and shopping lists. I love how every recipe I have ever tried from Taste of Home has always turned out well. They may not be the trendiest, but they're delicious!

Listening ... to the sound of an exuberantly happy bird singing in the tree here in front of the house. Sharon and Steven chattering away as they make the beds in the boys' room. The soft hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen. And the loud ticking of the clock on the wall next to me.

Watching ... not exactly watching, but I am glancing out the window every so often to see the progress that is being made on tearing out the fence around the cow pasture. A new one will replace it, but right now I'm liking how things look without a fence.

Cooking ... for supper tonight I'm planning to have Mexican rice and enchiladas. It's a family favorite that I like making several times a month, and today feels like the right time.

Cleaning ... other than the daily dozen, we're adding in a bigger task or two each day. Today that happens to be wiping the baseboards on the main level of the house and washing the windows.

Playing ... Lumberjack. It's Steven's favorite game and he requests it every day. We don't play it quite every day, but that doesn't keep him from suggesting it hopefully every evening.

Loving ... the weather we're having. We finally had a nice soaking rain, and now the skies are blue, the air is crisp, and the sun is shining brightly. Combining it with colorful red, orange, and yellow leaves, is it any wonder that I love fall so much?!

Disliking ... this cold virus thing we picked up somewhere. Sharon was determined she is not going to get it, and managed to avoid it for a week, but she has joined the rest of us now with all the coughing, sneezing, sore throat wonder that this virus provides.

Crafting ... Steven has been cutting up empty cardboard boxes to build himself a hot-wheel track for his cars. It's messy ... and totally fits my blog name.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Anniversary Memories

    Today marks the one year anniversary of when we said our final good-byes to Mahlon. I won't remember every little detail of his day, but some moments were so vivid that I'll carry them with me for always.
     It was a dreary day. The weather seemed to match our emotions. I asked God for a rainbow, but the sky remained gray.
     I'll always remember the shoes. Hundreds and hundreds of shoes. I couldn't make myself look up to see who the people were who were walking by to say their final farewell. The shoes kept marching by. Big shoes, little shoes, shiny new shoes, old cracked shoes, wide shoes, narrow shoes, dusty shoes, plain shoes, Sunday shoes with their embossed designs on their toes, ugly shoes, pretty shoes. Shoes, shoes, shoes marching by in a solemn line.
     I'll never forget the sight of my four remaining brothers taking a turn together to gently fill the grave. It was the final activity the five brothers would ever get to do together
     I'll cherish the memory of how David and I remained behind when the crowd left to go back to eat lunch. The Amish part of the funeral was now over. We played some music for him, and finally we too had to leave. It still doesn't feel right or real that the three of us ex-Amish are now only two.
     Everyone was almost done eating by the time we got back to Dad's house. The afternoon passed in a blur of people wanting to talk.
     We left early that evening for our long drive home. In the middle of the night we stopped at a rest area. I broke down crying again, asking God why this all had to happen, and why He didn't give me the rainbow I had so wanted. It wouldn't have had to be spectacular, any little rainbow would have been fine. I tried to pull myself together and went out to where the rest of the family was waiting for me. On our way out of the building Kenneth stopped by a vending machine. I didn't pay any attention to that until he turned and gave me a pack of Skittles. I looked at it and had to pause for a moment. There was my rainbow.
     These past few days over this four day anniversary I've had little rainbows pop up in unexpected places. On my lap as LV and I were driving down the road, on the floor in our laundry room, as well as other spots where I have never seen rainbows before. I'm finding them to be so comforting.
     Though I miss Mahlon so much, I can still say, "God is good all the time!"

Thursday, September 26, 2019


   If I were a turtle I would have tucked myself inside my shell. If I were a hermit I would have retreated further. If I were able to hibernate I would have started a little earlier this year. If I were a blogger (Oh wait ... I guess that is me.) I may have become silent for a while.
    September hit me hard this year. I wasn't quite expecting it for some reason, and so I've been retreating. I've been spending a lot of time outdoors hiking, enjoying nature, and simply soaking up the feeling of calmness, peace, and the presence of God. I know He is with me where ever I go, but being outdoors makes it feel even more real.
     On Sunday it will be the one year anniversary of my brother Mahlon's untimely death. These days leading up to it are feeling a bit overwhelming at times, and so I read the Psalms, listen to uplifting music, and retreat from the noise of life.
     I'll be back to regular blogging in October, but for right now I need a moment.

Friday, September 13, 2019


Reading ... I'm reading John in the Bible, and adding in a chapter or two of Psalms every morning as well. I find the Psalms so encouraging and soothing. They become more and more precious to me.

In fiction, the Anne of Green Gables series has still not been completed though I started a while ago already. I also have Garlic and Sapphires here waiting to be read again. I loved it the first time I read it, and am looking forward to enjoying it again.

In non fiction I read Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up last evening(Basically the graphic novel version of cleaning Konmari style) It was weird. If it had not been a super fast read I would not have finished the book. I won't be thanking inanimate objects, clapping at books to wake them up, or sprinkling salt in bags. I also won't be recommending the book to anyone else. Like I said ... weird!!!

Watching ... The gentle mizzle outside the window and the steady drip drip of water from the small leak in the gutter along the front porch roof.

Listening ... to the sweet chimes of the wind chimes outside my window as they sway to the movement of the gentle East wind this morning.

Cooking ... last evening I made barbeque pulled pork sandwiches, only I used the left over beef roast instead of pork to make it. It turned out quite tasty,which say something since I don't usually care for beef.

Cleaning ... nothing that exciting. I cleaned the refrigerator out yesterday. I try to do it every week to keep it from getting to be a big project. Something had spilled so it took a little more effort than usual to clean it.

Wearing ... a mint green dress. I look as if I'd be ready to celebrate Easter.

Playing ... we played Hoagie, In a Pickle, and Fruit Punch yesterday. Each happens to be fun, fast, and don't require a lot of strategy. Sometimes it's fun to simply play for fun!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Jumping to Conclusions

    When a child is hurt because of someone jumping to conclusions and judging them before hearing the entire story you hurt for them and then share your own experience of having been judged wrongfully.
    The child's story is not mine to share, but I can share a few of my own. I find having experienced these makes me want to hesitate before being so quick to jump to conclusions.

Story 1

    Every year Dad would get a huge pile of firewood from Grandpa's sawmill. We would unload it at home and then allow it to season for a year before moving it into our woodshed the following fall.
    One fall we had moved most of the previous year's firewood into the woodshed, but there were still quite a bit of pieces half way buried in dirt and fragments of decomposing bark.
    Dad had asked me to dig out those pieces yet and move them inside. My two youngest brothers followed me everywhere and naturally they accompanied me outside to help. I squatted down and dug out the pieces and they would stack them on the wagon and once it was filled we would take it to the woodshed to unload it.
     Dad had some errands to run and had called a driver to take him where he needed to go. The driver arrived and had to wait a few minutes until Dad was ready to leave. I kept on digging out stray pieces of firewood and Ivan and Raymond were still happily stacking any piece I unearthed onto the wagon.
     Dad left to take care of his errands, and when he came home he unloaded everything while the driver waited. I was still working on the firewood project. When the driver was ready to leave he stopped next to where I was digging out another piece of wood, and gave me a piece of his mind about how disgusted he was that I was so lazy that I would just sit there and have my little brothers do all the work.
     I simply gaped at him and before I could find words again he had driven off.

Story 2

    With Mom busy with customers most of the time, I was the main caretaker of my youngest siblings. I was sixteen when Raymond was born and he was by my side constantly. 
     One day I was working in the garden with Raymond toddling around near me trying to help or picking up little rocks to play with when an older "English" pastor stopped in.
     He saw me in the garden and came over to talk a little before heading to the woodworking shop where Dad was busy making chairs.
     Raymond wasn't too fond of strangers and clung to the skirt of my dress. I scooped him up and stood there holding him as we talked.
     The pastor proceeded to tell me how disappointed he was to see even the Amish have unwed mothers, but assured me God could forgive my sins and still use the little guy for His glory. He then marched off to find my Dad and then it dawned on me he thought my brother was my son.


These two examples serve as a good reminder why I think it's important to understand situations before being so fast to think the worst of someone.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Visiting Grandparents

    Our weekend was full.
    It started when my alarm clock jangled me awake at 3:00 AM on Saturday morning, and we got up and hurried to get ready to go visit LV's parents.
    The children were excited to get to see their grandparents once again, so instead of being sleepy and groggy that early in the morning there was an air of eager anticipation as we prepared to leave.
    The traveling was uneventful, and we arrived safely and were warmly welcomed into their home.
    Our time there was spent laughing, talking, eating Grandma's delicious food, playing games in their basement, and taking pictures of her beautiful flowers. All in all it was a wonderful time that we all enjoyed.

     Fast forward to this morning, my alarm clock jangles me awake, and I get up to go about my morning routine. Once I took care of that I headed to the kitchen to start the coffee and blinked in confusion when I saw the clock on the stove had only 3:12. I checked the other clocks and they all agreed with it, and then it dawned on me that I had forgotten to reset my alarm clock to the proper time after we got home.
      I decided 45 minutes isn't enough to make it worthwhile going back to bed, so my day has been off to an early start.
      We'll have to see how it goes. Yawn.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Fairs, Funerals, and Life In-between

    It would have been a challenge to pack anything more into this past week.
    The long awaited, and much anticipated fair week rolled around. We had plans to go on Monday evening as soon as LV came home from work, but half way through the day he called, telling us to go ahead without him, that he has to go to an emergency thing in Pittsburgh.
     We were all disappointed, but went ahead determined we'd have a great time.
     Steven grew a lot since last year, which meant a whole new assortment of rides were available to him.  I wandered the midway with him, standing in line, then watching him ride, before hurrying off to the next ride to repeat the process.
     While waiting next to the little roller coaster I felt my purse shiver oddly. I opened it to see my phone vibrating away. The caller ID showed it was one of my brothers, so I answered. "Uncle Eli passed away," he informed me, and he'd call back later once he knew what the arrangements were.
     That put a damper on my standing and watching Steven ride, but we stayed until LV called to say what time he'd be home.
     We got a whole mess of sweetcorn from the nearby Hutterite colony. It was quite the chore getting it all ready for the freezer, but what a good feeling once it was done, to know I have food put up for winter.
     On Friday afternoon the funeral for Uncle Eli was held. I was thinking family would probably stop in to see us in the morning, so we whipped up some fun treats, and did a quick visitor ready sweep of the house, but it was all in vain. No one ventured by.
     I didn't attend the funeral. I could have, but another emergency popped up when an accident occurred that kept LV on the scene for eight hours. We have an agreement that I won't have to venture to Amish things alone. (Somehow they are much less harsh when he is by my side.) And so I stayed at home.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Life with Steven

    I share little happenings on my Facebook, and decided I'd share a few of the most recent ones here as well.
We hardly ever have juice on hand unless we need it for a recipe. Yesterday a bottle of unsweetened cranberry juice appeared on the refrigerator shelf after a grocery run.
Steven eyed its sparkling beauty in eager anticipation of being allowed to drink the leftover once we used what we needed.
Steven: Can I have a little if I save enough for your recipe?
Me: I don't think you'll like it.
Steven doubtfully: Really? Short pause and then asks hopefully. Can I have a tiny taste?
I agreed and poured a small amount for him to try.
He slurped it down happily and then his eyes got big, he shuddered, and said solemnly: My tastebuds just had a horrible adventure!
Steven looks up from his schoolwork and says: Mom, you know how I make that writing in cursive is fun?
Me: How?
Steven: I pretend the letters are a roller coaster.
Me thinking: Oh! That explains all the squeals that were accompanying his writing this morning.
It started raining on the way home and I didn't turn on my windshield wipers immediately.
From the back seat comes Steven's voice: Um, Mom ... shouldn't you turn on your swishy whooshies?
I have a feeling the Kinsinger family has just found a new name for windshield wipers.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Currently ...

Reading ... I started on the book of Luke in the Bible this morning.

In fiction I'm reading my way through the Anne of Green Gables series for the first time this year, and somewhere over the 20th time since the first time I read them. It's still my all time favorite series, and it's feeling lovely spending time with Anne again.

In nonfiction I have several books going at the moment. The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker is somewhat of a heavy read, but the information it provides is valuable, and so I'm slowly making my way through it. Me, Myself, and Pie by Sherry Gore is a delightful cookbook about pie. Not only do I want to bake almost all of them, I have also been enjoying the little stories she has scattered throughout the book.

On Steven's and my pile of bedtime books we are gradually transitioning from the fun picture books to chapter books. Nathan T. Riggins has been a hit so far, and we have also been enjoying the Life with Lily series. I've been surprised how much I've been enjoying reading something I wrote, to him. It helps that he loves the books.

Listening ... to Rabbi Schneider on Youtube. His messages are a short 20 minutes, and I've been really encouraged by listening to them. I haven't listened to nearly all of them yet, but so far everything I have listened to I have come away inspired, encouraged, and ready to tackle life.

Cooking ... I have chicken in the slow cooker that I have plans to use to make a Mexican themed supper.

Cleaning ... windows. I don't know what it is about our old farmhouse, but during the summer months spiders absolutely love building their webs at the windows. They get swept away daily, but they get rebuilt fast ... and what ever they do they manage to get "dirt" on the windows which means that they have to be washed at least once a week, sometimes more if I can't stand seeing the dirt any longer before Saturday rolls around.

And speaking of cleaning windows I have discovered, thanks to a Facebook friend, the best window cleaner. I'll plop down a link to it here if you want to check it out. Which reminds me, I have to place an order for some later this week.

Later today ... we'll be doing a variety of things. Including but not limited to working on the chairs we're refinishing, baking some kind of dessert ... I'm thinking pie, doing our school work, tending the flowerbed, taking care of the daily dozen, and going on a short walk.

Yesterday ... we attended church where a young man delivered a good message. It made me feel old seeing him in front of the church calmly and confidently delivering a well spoken message. He was only a little boy the first time I met him!

After church LV and Steven went to the lake for a few hours to fish. They didn't catch anything other than the happy memories they made.

Wearing ... my favorite purple dress and a fluffy robe. It's a bit on the chilly side this morning so it was robe to the rescue until it warms up a bit.

Disliking ... our rose garden. I don't dislike roses, in fact I'm really quite fond of seeing them in full bloom. Right now though seeing our rose garden makes me feel sad. On Thursday the crew who is roaming the area and cutting trees close to power lines drove in here. First they trimmed our giant maple tree in front of the house. They actually did a good job of it, so I won't complain too much about that, but what they did next ... they drove their behemoth machine across the yard, smack dab in the middle of our rose garden smashing the bushes to where I can't see them ever recovering. They proceeded to cut down trees and then left, never mentioning the destruction they had caused to our roses.

Playing ... we've been having a daily game time. I won't go into detail today how it came about that we were blessed to acquire a LOT of board games, but we've really been enjoying playing them.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Things That Keep Me Awake at Night

     My parents gave LV and me some nice sturdy oak dining room furniture when we got married. It's still nice and solid, but the years of use have not been kind to the varnish, and we decided it's time to strip off the old varnish and redo them.
     I spent quite a bit of time researching the how-to's of furniture stripping and armed with the knowledge I found on the internet I went to buy the needed supplies. Steel wool, scrapers, sand paper, and a jug of orange stripping gel.
     I labored over that furniture, but was pleased with the results. It was soon clear that I would need to buy more of the stripping compound in order to finish the project. I quickly found my shopping list and scribbled "stripper gunk" at the top and when LV and I went shopping later that week I got some more.
     A few days later one of our friends called. Her husband was out of state on business and she was having some type of mechanical issue. Would LV come to her rescue?
     I joined LV as he went to see if he could help out. It didn't take him long to discover what the problem was. A certain part had to be ordered. "Do you have a piece of paper I can use to write the part number down?" he asked me.
     My purse is usually loaded with anything you can think of, but in all my rummaging through it all I came up with was my used shopping list with neat little checkmarks next to all the items.
      LV took it, scribbled the parts number down, and to my consternation handed it to our friend so she could order it.
      The words "stripper gunk" seemed to grow bigger and bolder at the top of that paper and I wanted to disappear.
      Last night I woke up with that memory going through my mind, and I shuddered in embarrassment again as I wondered what awful images went through our friend's mind when she read those words.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wednesday Medley

    Since today is National Cousins Day and Friday is National Aunts and Uncles Day, Terri from Your Friend in Florida has created a set of questions based on that, for us to answer.

1. What can you tell us about your cousins, please, or someone who is close like a cousin?

I had/have a lot of cousins. The oldest is twelve years older than me, and the youngest didn't come along until after I already had three children of my own. Given the age difference I don't even know most of my cousins, and certainly can't name them all. (And this is only first cousins ... forget about even thinking of branching out further than that.)

The cousin I was the closest to, was only a few months younger than I was. For a number of years we lived in the same community and attended the same school until her family moved to a different state. We still remained best of friends and wrote letters regularly between their twice a year visits.

2. Do you still see your cousins and will you contact them on National Cousins Day?

I hardly ever see any of my cousins, or have any contact with them. Our lives turned out so differently which keep the ones I was the closest to from being able to stay in contact. (The repercussions of leaving the Amish run deep.) Other than saying a few words to each other at my brother's funeral last fall, it has been years since we had seen or heard from each other.

I will not be contacting them on National Cousins Day.

3. Do you have a favorite aunt or uncle you can tell us about?

Uncle Eli and Aunt Mattie were very special to me. They never had children. Instead, they doted on their nieces and nephews. They were the happiest people, and simply being around them made me feel happy.

Aunt Vernie had Downs Syndrome. She was a favorite aunt. Her joy of life, her laughter, her compassion, and really everything about her made her a favorite!

I could write a lot about many of my aunts and uncles and what made them special to me. Each of them made an impact on my life and gave me memories I'll always treasure.

4. Did/does your family have reunions and can you tell us about them?

The community I grew up in didn't allow people to attend family reunions. However, one year we all traveled to Michigan to my Mom's oldest sister's house. All her siblings and their children were there as well as my grandparents. We simply called it a family gathering, which made it okay.

5. If you have children, are they enjoying relationships with their cousins, aunts, and uncles?

Sadly, our children don't get to see most of their cousins often enough to establish a relationship with them. They always enjoy getting to see them when they have the opportunity.

6. Tell us something random about your week so far.

We started our new year of school on Monday. It's nice getting back into books and learning. I had been expecting our schedule to feel a little bumpy at first until we get used to it, but it's been surprisingly smooth.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


     "Why?" I asked, "why, would anyone do this?"
     My stomach tied up in knots when I saw the damage that had been done at one of my favorite spots. (Check out the link to read more about it.)
     On Sunday after church we decided that it might be a good day to go spend some time at the swamp. since we've had a small break from all the rain, and the pathways had a chance to become less muddy.
     Since the last time I was there, someone went and cut down all the giant lilac bushes that had bordered the meadow and then dragged them over and heaped them on the section of old wooden fence that was still there.
      There is nothing we could do to save the lilac bushes, but we could save the old fence, so LV took some time and removed everything they had heaped on it.
      I'm still feeling sick to my stomach that someone would do this, and have a hard time understanding why, or what would possess anyone to be that destructive.
     I'm reminded once again that this world is not my home, and growing too attached to what is only temporary isn't good. But even so ... I keep asking "Why?" And I already know I won't want to return to the swamp anytime soon, because it will simply make me feel sad, in what used to be one of my favorite spots.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Picture our Summer

We've been having rain, rain, and more rain. A day can begin beautifully sunny, but at some point during the day it begins to grow dark, and rain and storms move in.

With all the rain keeping him indoors, Steven has been buried in books. He has always loved books, but has turned into a complete bookworm this summer.

One of our friends invited us to join her and her daughter on a day trip to visit a lavender farm. It was absolutely gorgeous there. We enjoyed sampling their lavender flavored lemonade, jams, chocolates, and ice cream. I was surprised by how much I liked it, and came home with a jar of the jam for the rest of the family to enjoy as well,

I would never have thought to do something like this, but they had windows with flowerboxes scattered all around the farm, and encouraged guests to take as many pictures as they liked.

A sign outside of the store on the lavender farm amused me.

 Wild flowers have been blooming in abundance this year. I'm particularly fond of black eyed susans.

The wildlife activity behind our house has also increased. It's no longer unusual to see deer there. Turkeys, raccoons, squirrels, and hundreds of birds keep us entertained.

Sharon, Steven, and I took advantage of a few hours between rain showers to go on a hike, Steven was sure he didn't want to wear shoes, but the gravel on the trail got to be a bit much after a while. He asked to share Sharon's pair of flip flops, and being the sweet, sharing sister she is, she gave them to him. In return he gave one back, and so they both hobbled up the trail with only one flip flop for a few minutes.

Rosie Mae has been making lots of macarons, in hopes of creating some with the perfect "feet". She had plans on sharing these with friends from Canada who were stopping in, but wasn't satisfied with how they turned out, so Sharon asked if she can have them. 

Rosie Mae plopped the entire tray full on her lap and said, "Have at them." Sharon was thrilled, but the rest of the family helped her eat them. These chocolate flavored ones are so, so good!

We attended the wedding of one of LV's nephews. The wedding cake my multi-talented sister-in-law made looked lovely.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

My Morning

     The grass was still wet with dew, and the morning sun had yet to rise above the horizon when I headed outside to take care of some work before it got too warm.  
      The girls were still upstairs doing their morning routine, so I didn't bother interrupting them to tell them what I'm doing.
     I finished up what I had set out to accomplish and was ready to head back inside, but first I had to wash all the grass off my feet.
    I went to fetch a pail to fill with water, only to discover I had accidently locked myself out. I checked our other doors. They were all firmly locked, as were the windows.
     No big deal, I'd simply ring the door bell and someone would let me in.     
     I rang the door bell. Nothing. I tried again, and again, and again. Still nothing. I made my rounds knocking on the doors, the windows, and then back to ringing the doorbell over and over.
         Finally after about an hour Rosie Mae lets me in, all apologetic. She and Sharon had been so busy praying for protection against this "crazed wannabe intruder" that it had taken them quite a while to come downstairs and discover that I was not in the house.
      I was glad to get inside, and the girls were relieved that the intruder turned out to be their somewhat exhausted mother.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


Winner of "No Empty Seal"

    I had so much fun reading all your delightful memories from when you were younger.
    And now it's time to choose the winner for the book, No Empty Seal. has chosen comment number ...


    Loretta said … Shared with a friend on fb.

    I think this is the first time a comment about sharing my giveaway was selected as the winner.

   Please send me an email with your address and I will get your book mailed to you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Attic Finds

     One of the interesting things about cleaning the attic this time, other than how long it's been taking us, is watching the girls go through their childhood treasures and deciding what to keep, toss, or donate.
    We only work in the attic in the mornings before it gets too hot up there, and since everything is getting touched, and read, and reminisced over it's taking much longer than originally anticipated.
     I'm keeping most of their school writing projects that they read, laughed over, and then were going to toss. I'll treasure them for years, and I'm assuming someday they will be glad I saved them.
     I also snagged a few of their hand stitched doll clothes from where they tossed them in the trash after they were done reminiscing about all the fun they had making them and laughing at the crooked stitches they used to make.

     I have discovered it's much harder parting with their childhood things, than it was parting with my own.

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


    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 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.
     Giveaway is now closed and winner chosen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


     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


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.