Monday, August 30, 2010

Today

Today was our first day of trying to build back a routine.

All things considered it went fairly well.  Two kids did math and made good progress, we got some things reorganized and cleaned out, hauled goodies for our goats, got two kids to work, got one kid to soccer practice and even got going on watermelon rind pickles!  And one kid rode her pony.  And I even read a little!  We also watched a neat video on Martin Luther - "Martin, God loves you!".  I learned a lot and it gave us lots to talk about.  A very good start, laid back and non-stressful, and a very good step back onto our path!

Do you ever wish God would just send you a little view into what is going to come?  I am in place of just wanting a slight vision to see that everything will work out.  And by "everything" I actually have no idea exactly what I mean.

Finances, yes.

Remodeling, yes.

Childrearing, yes.

Professional life - yes, though I think that is basically done for now, just doing a little to supplement the income, but primarily being a professional mom.  (Love that job by the way!)

We are in a season of transition (aren't we always?) and I am just taking it a day at a time.  And perhaps that is the answer.  God provides enough for each day.  Maybe I have been trying to see too much.  Trying to have too many things laid out.  Maybe the everyday miracles are huge, but missed when we look too far ahead.

So, here is to a day of everyday miracles - clean laundry, loving kids (and squabbling kids - you always get both sooner or later), house cleaning one corner at a time, kittens rolling on the floor, the scent of a horse, kids learning new things, simple pleasures.  Thanks God, though could you turn the heat down a little?

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11



Trying to get our routine back - again!

Well, it has been an amazing bit of time on our homestead!

I have finished out the last contract for work - which means I should be down to a much lighter schedule, which is much needed by everyone!  The kids have been fabulous with helping out and pitching in, but it has been a long stretch.  I think we have totally paid for the new bathroom.  Whew.  As soon as that last paycheck comes in.  Yay!  It was a long, hard stretch and we were all showing the strain.

So, I feel like I have gone to heaven, thinking of being home most of the time now!

Tomorrow we start getting our regular routine back - starting schooling again for all eight, continuing working on our homestead, training horses, riding, and on and on.

I have promised my husband that I will do more writing now, and this is the beginning of my efforts to do so.  I am hoping to set aside an hour a day, one way or the other to write.  I have several things in the works, and will be working on those as well as blogging more.

So,  the big events are typical for this time of year in the Frozen Tundra - at least for those of us who try to somewhat farm.  We are preparing for winter.

Sigh.

We all know that it is coming.  It is inevitable.

It will be cold, it will be long, and at times it will be hard on us and the animals we care for.

So, each year, we prepare.

We do whatever we can to improve things, and each year it gets better.

This year there is a lot, but I guess every year there is.
This year, we are have a lot of things we are trying to get done.  Sigh.

The rabbits moved out of the old rabbitry in our old garage (loosely called that).  We built all new rabbit hutches with nesting boxes along one side of the house and moved the kids' rabbits over to that.  It is really nice.  I call it the 'rabbit taj mahal'.  The rabbits are very happy, to say the least.  And they will be wonderfully set for winter!

The garage is being converted into goat housing. Problem is that the 'garage' has slipped from some of the foundation and dropped into the the ground by about six inches at one entire end of the building.

Yep that is a problem.  All sorts of things kitty whampus.

Well, we read about how to restore old buildings, to renovate and make them strong again.  Books make sense, but I always worry.  You know, when you go to do a home renovation project, it always takes three times as long as you think it will, and costs at least double if not more.  So, lifting a garage and putting in new sill plates and supporting the foundation seems like quite a challenge, regardless of how relatively simple it sounds in a book!

Hah!

For once, the book was right, and even better, while it took a while to do it, it wasn't terrible to do!  The garage went up, the bent siding straightened, and we were able to dig out the foundation.  And get the building supported!  Imagine chains holding a building together, three car jacks lifting, and a lot of amazed looks!  It worked!

The best way then to hold it all together (outside of the chains on the outside of the building), is to then support the inside as it is all straight.  So, insulation goes in, plywood interior walls go up, and the building is held together firmly.

Amazing!

So, we are still putting up the insulation and interior sheeting (plywood), so the chains are still around the building, but it is all coming together!  Can we all say "whoo-hoo"?

With a three day weekend coming up, I expect we just might get it done....  And maybe even get some goat stalls assembled in there.

So, I will be calling an electrician to help us run electrical to the barn!!!!!  Because that is what it will be!  A real goat barn!!!!  With heat lamps, heated water buckets and all.  Ready for winter babies!

And on another topic - we had a great "gotcha day" for Tsion, Aman and Ben last week.  Nothing fancy, just a nice dinner out to celebrate.  And on Wednesday we will celebrate Zeri and Ben's third "gotcha day" with dinner at the Pizza Hut buffet - that is their request.  Sounds good to me!  I don't know if it is harder to believe that it has only been one year and three years, or that it has been one year and three years.  I cannot imagine life without a single one of our kids, and they are all doing so well overall.  We have the general struggles that all parents have, but really nothing unusual, and our kids know how much we love them, through the good times and the bad.  We are so blessed, and we know it.

I am in total denial that my first baby is going to be 16 very, very soon.  Ugh.  I was just remembering him as a baby the other night as I drove home with him.  This big, gangly boy, taller than me by several inches at least, turning into a man right before my eyes.  How does this happen?  Wow.

I remember my trip cross country, pregnant with him, a single mom, hoping I was going to be good for him, that I could do everything he needed, going home to be by family.  We needed more than just I could give him.  The moment I saw that positive pregnancy test, I knew that I had made the last mistake that I would do carelessly and that from then on, what I did was not about me, it was about that innocent child I carried.  He came first, before I ever saw his little face.  He turned my life around, away from selfishness, back to my faith and God, and into reality.  It was no longer a game.  And it turned into the best thing ever.

We were so very blessed.  God gave me the best husband ever, and he wasted no time in doing that.  I am so lucky.  God sure is something else!

Well, time to sleep! I will be cleaning and reorganizing and getting us back into our groove.

Oh, by the way, I took the first digger in a while - silly me.  The three year old mule that has only been sat on a couple times was out in the pasture.  Well, I decided to climb on.  Got on too fast, too hard, and she took off at a trot and me grabbing onto her mane to stay on bareback didn't help things any.  I wisely decided to disembark before her freaked out trot became a full fledged panicked gallop across the pasture.  By the way, she is tall.  The ground is hard, and I had my hands so tightly wound into her mane that in order to get my fingers free, I took a big hunk of her beautiful black mane with me.  Oh, well!  Thankfully, I didn't give myself anything more than an ache or two (mostly from my fingers) - oh and to make it worse - I lasted right in a fresh pile of manure!  Several acres of pasture, most of it very free of odoriferous material, and I landed right in a fresh pile, and managed to coat one whole leg.  It was very funny, once I convinced hubby and kids that I really was just fine.  So, I can scratch that off my list for the year!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Please help bless this family!!!!!!

Please go to this blog post and see how God might move your heart!  An amazing family and true miracles happening!


http://forevernevernalways1.blogspot.com/2010/08/are-you-all-ready.html


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pantry renovation!!!

So, I am working on figuring out this thing about putting photos on my blog.  We shall see if I can get it!  Bear with me please as I work on it!

We have lots of projects in the works - since Extreme Makeover Home Edition did not show up here, we are continuing getting our stuff done!  (Imagine that said very tongue in cheek!)

There are many, many outside projects going on, getting ready for winter, but there are also some inside.

Well this weekend the saw was working hot and heavy and while for a bit there wasn't a ton that I could do, all that wood was calling my name.  So, I went to work on "Extreme Makeover Pantry Edition"!!! 

We had gotten some wood from my folks that had been planed from trees cut down for the building of their new house when Alex was a baby.  And we had never quite designated what exactly it was for, but knew we would come up with something neat.  Well, this was the day!

The wood had bark on the edges and a very clean rustic look.  So, I made off with it, commandeered a tape measure and went to work. 

My pantry had never quite fit right, we always jammed so much stuff in it, and my huge cooking pots fit absolutely NOWHERE in our house.  But we use them constantly!  So, knowing what I wanted to use my pantry for, I designed my own.  Alex was primarily my helper (or better read that as the "one I grabbed to help me with this").  We got the measurements and went to work!  And what do you know, the first shelf worked beautifully and looked exactly like I dreamed.  I tried putting some things on it to determine where I wanted the next shelf down.  And we went on from there! 

I have never built shelves before and was very proud of myself.  Now you have to understand, they are very simple, boards on support frames basically, but they work great for what I needed and added SOOOOO much room to our pantry - and I left the perfect spot for my big pots, right no the floor, easily fit under the lowest shelf designed exactly for that purpose!!!!  Alex says that it was spooky - though I eyeballed how far down I wanted each shelf, he measured and each shelf is 11 inches below the other!!!

So, with  no further ado, here is my new pantry!!!  I think it is beautiful, but then I am biased!
Hey, I think the photo worked!!!!!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, August 13, 2010

The sock monster

I don't know if you experience this at your house, but I just cannot believe that we are the only ones who deal with socks magically disappearing, never to find a mate again.

It seems that we spend a great deal of laundry time (or at least post laundry time) with our sock basket trying to match up all the socks.  When we are folding laundry, clean socks get tossed into the sock basket (basically because no one wants to do socks).  And somehow, then getting pairs to members of the family seems to be a hopeless task.

At least once a week (I hope) I dump out the basket, and start sorting.  It is a huge pile (since there are ten of us).  So I sort it into long and short socks and colored socks.  From there it is broken down into other distinctions to help narrow down the possibilities.  And I still end up using most of the living room floor to spread things out so I can see all the socks so I can find the mates.  Needless to say this is a process, and to make it endurable, I put on something I like to watch/listen to, like History Detectives or Naked Archeologist or something like that.  I actually consider it bribery, to myself.

And then after socks are matched up, then you have to match them with the owner.  Yet another circus.

So many of the kids wear the same sizes and similar socks.  And take mine too!

Not a fine tuned system but limping along.

It used to be that we put dots on the toe of each sock to designate the owner - one dot for the oldest child, two for the next and on down. 

Yeah, well, putting eight dots on a sock is ridiculous.  And time consuming.  And ridiculous.

We stopped that after we had more than five children.  It worked with five, but even five dots got cumbersome.

And now sock sorting/obtaining is just a pain in the patotie (is that really a word?).

The newest plan was to get all new socks for each member of the family - a different style for each person.

Yeah, but there are ten of us. 

That's a lot of distinctive styles to find and then remember who has which one.

Ugh.  And costly.

Well, I found socks on sale today.  And today was payday. 

So, I talked to each kid, got a vote on the kind of sock he/she likes,  and got the best deal I could.  Even on sale, that is a pricey trip!

Well, when I got home, we matched up each kid with their chosen socks, and then put their initials on each sock that belongs to them. 

Now, the hope is that this will make matching a lot easier and accurate, as well as everyone needed new socks anyway.

I will let you know how it goes.  Though I do forsee my kids having to explain why there are letters on their socks.  I hope they come up with something more creative than "Mom is trying to beat the sock monster"!

LOL!  Just another interesting day to day challenge of raising a large family.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crazy Love Challenge!!!

A very nice reader of my blog recommended that I visit "A Place Called Simplicity" and take a look at their Crazy Love challenge, that it might be something for us.

I have followed this blog for a while, but actually am way behind on following blogs.  It is summer on the farm and very busy as always!  I keep thinking that one season is busier than another, but in reality they are just different kinds of busy!  Summer is planting and tending and harvesting, soccer and fair, work and building.  And warm weather fun in there too!  Fall is preparing for winter, storing up produce, hay and making sure our buildings for people and houses are ready for winter, as well as fall soccer season, plays beginning again, and all the usual (including school, but we aim to do that year round).  Winter is projects inside - that is the time to strip and redo the floors - but the hard work of caring for animals and ourselves in cold weather, making sure that the animals do well in the harder season, lots of school and inside projects.  Spring is baby animals, mud, preparing for planting and planting, lots of building and reorganizing as we transition back to outside spaces. 

It is all different kinds of busy.

So, anyway, I haven't been really active on following blogs because I tend to not sit down too much!!  LOL!

But this wonderful reader had seen what another blogger was doing to challenge folks to support adoption!
A Place Called Simplicity: Crazy Love Challenge

Honestly there is so much we all can do, by just doing a little to support adoption, whether we are adopting, thinking about it, wanting to help families who do, are impacted by adoption or have a heart for orphans. 

I hate to post a need, but that is part of the request from the blogger.

We are in the midst of a hopeful adoption.  Our homestudy is done and we are awaiting a very special referral.  It is our heart that so many families want to adopt babies, healthy babies.  We have a huge heart for special needs children, and after all the years of God working on us, taking us places we never thought we would go in our lives, He has brought us to a place where we know that we can offer so much to a child with special needs.  And with the support system of a large loving family, we have the resources to lay out a lifelong support for a child who will have lifelong challenges. 

We have turned it back over to God - years ago we had said "yes we could do 'this', but not 'that'", and now we have come to realize that that "that" is exactly what we are to do, and to do with joy.  How God arranges that, I am forever in awe.  But it is a road we so want to walk.

So, here we are, waiting.  We have been told that for a domestic special needs adoption, we will need around $7000 all total, maybe a bit more with attorney fees.  Our homestudy is done, but if the phone rings, we need to have those funds available.  We have seen God provide every step of the way in each adoption.  We can provide all the care, all the day to day, cover all those expenses, but the fees we don't have right now. 

So, I sell on Amazon, on craigslist, and wherever I can.  We are working on downsizing as much as we can, there is so much that we don't use on a regular basis - you just never think about it.  In other words, we are being fiscally responsible!  In the last two weeks, I have saved $88 at the grocery store using coupons on double coupon day - a great friend has been teaching me this!  I still take extra hours, but am very looking forward to that being done soon.  I sock away every little bit! 

I know that God continues to provide.  The money we need now is such a small fraction compared to what we raised for our other children, it almost seems irrelevant, except it isn't.

So, anyway, go to the link, see her challenge.  Pray for families and children.  If there is any little bit you can do, know that it helps and really adds up!  Remember the loaves and the fishes!  I have seen God take our "little" and make it so much more!

We choose to live simply, raise our kids, work hard and love everyone we can!  Anyway, go to A Place Called Simplicity and browse her blog - it is wonderful.

And, for those of you who wonder what I look like, I will post a photo.  There are very few that I actually like, so you are unlikely to see too many, but I will give it a try here!  Steve took portraits of everyone one day this spring after a guitar recital and they turned out really nice!

Want to see some more?  I will try to get them on here tomorrow!!!!!

God bless you all, and get some sleep!  I am headed to bed!!!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gideon and the fleece.

I don't know if you are familiar with the story of Gideon and the fleeces in the book of Judges in the Bible.  But basically, Gideon was a chicken of a man whom God called to be a "mighty warrior".  Needless to say, Gideon was a bit skeptical.  (I am totally paraphrasing by the way, any errors are entirely mine.)

Well, Gideon prayed to God and said "If this is from you, then the sheep fleece that I put out on the ground will not be covered with dew in the morning though all around it will be."  And so it was.  And then he put out a fleece again, saying "God, if this is from you, then the fleece will be wet with dew in the morning, and all around it will be dry.".  Again, I may have my paraphrasing wrong, but it is basically the same.  I am tired, I know I have the gist of it right, and it is too late and there is too much to tell you to go look it up.

Basically, Gideon challenged God to show that the message that Gideon got was of God, not of Gideon's own imagination.

So, today, I have spent a lot of time driving in order to work.  We live in WI and I today worked in MI.  So I spent lots of time on the road - hence lots of time to think and to listen to tapes and music and what not. 

I was listening to a great series by Joyce Meyer.  Included in there was about hearing from God.

In the last few weeks, it has become apparent that although it makes perfect sense in the world's economy for me to work outside the home, that it makes no sense for our family and is actually costing us more than we are gaining.  Again, makes no sense in the world's economy - stands to reason that working outside the home should help us - right? 

Today, while listening to lots of teachings, I "threw out the fleece".  I know that we are not to challenge God, but once again, we are considering stepping outside of what makes sense to "the world".  And it is scary! 

So, I told God (as I was driving) that I really needed to hear from Him.  That He needed to provide for our family, to lay the way if we are to adopt this baby that the birthmom is considering us for.  In the world's economy, it makes no sense.  We would need about $7000 in about six to eight weeks.  Needless to say, we don't have it, are still paying off the bathroom and half of beef, and hay.  And my job is coming to an end after nine months at the end of this month. 

So, in the world's economy, we should be up a creek without a paddle.

And in God's economy, this is nothing.

I am trying not to stress as I really like to be in control (big surprise there!).  And I want to be self sufficient, to do it all myself.

But my kids need me at home, to guide them as they are teenagers and approaching, and we really have so much to offer!!!! 

Well, to try to cut to the chase:
I threw out the fleece, asking God directly to send some provision, what we need, not only on a daily basis, but for these huge things.

I have a hard time with this, because I don't want to "challenge" God or "put him to the test", but I also know that I REALLY want to know that I am hearing Him and not imagining things.

So, I threw out the fleece in my prayers today.

At 9:45 PM the phone rang at our house.  That is unusual.

Thankfully, it wasn't bad news.

It was a neighbor we have never met before, though we know his place because we drive by his house regularly and "he has the beagles".  Everything we all remember seems to be centered around animals!

Well, he was at a graduation party (or had one, I was never really clear on that), and they had LOTS of booyah left over. 

The fellow that we pick gourds for in the fall mentioned us to him.  Again, not really sure how this all happened.  How they were all together, or how our name came up - or even how he got our number!!!

But he was calling us to see if we would accept booyah for our family, and that he ran charters for fishing on Lake Michigan, and would like to take us out fishing!!!!

WE HAVE NEVER MET THIS MAN BEFORE!!!!!

So, at about 10:30 PM a wonderful gentleman named Paul pulled up with EIGHT GALLONS of wonderful booyah, and a container of baked beans and a container of a pasta salad.

Literally, as he pulled up, Steve and I were working on menus for the week!!!  I try to lay things out so it is in order for the week and good use of our resources! 

I was so numb as we thanked him over and over and visited with him.  Paul was truly an angel, a messenger of God when we needed some encouragement.  I am totally numb still, in awe and wondering what God has in store for us yet?????  I am so thankful for wonderful food to feed our growing crew!  What a huge blessing, but generally, what a HUGE hug from God!!!!

And honestly, the thought of taking the kids fishing on Lake Michigan is something we never dreamed of being able to afford to do, though it was one of those things on the "bucket list"!!!!!

I have spent most of the last hour or so generally trying NOT to cry, and trying not to be frightened of what else God might do!!!  Talk about our kids seeing God's hand in their lives!!!

I wrote a thank you note that we will drop by Paul's house (mailbox) as we go by tomorrow morning on our way to church - don't want to get him up that early!!!  I know that he has no way of knowing where we were at in our lives today, but what a direct message from God his actions were!!! 

I want to encourage you, if you feel God calling to you, no matter how little sense it may seem to make to you, please respond - you never know what your actions may mean to someone else, what message you are taking to someone else.  God may use you in ways you can never imagine, and the ripples you may never see, but they are there. 

Thank you God, for delivering meals to my family, for showing us how you care for our littlest needs, as well as our largest!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This is what 'Family' means...


We got a lot of flack for taking this photo at the tournament today, but what I want you to know is that on the ground is Ben.  And surrounding him are Faith, the first to her slightly older brother, and Tsion and Solomon who came from far sides of the field.  What you have to understand is that in soccer, at least here, the rules are that when a player is down, all the other players "take a knee" - so they kneel or sit down, not to move until the referees call a kind of "all clear".

Well, the four youngest kids are on the same team.  They were playing in a tournament and made it to the championship game!!!!  So, Tsion, Solomon, Ben and Faith were all on the field, playing (often one or the other is sitting out for a quarter - they try to rest the kids if they can).  Well, Ben went down.  Usually he just bounces right up!  He went down and did not get up.

I try very hard not to embarrass my kids by running out on the filed - but I was caught calling Ben "Benny-boo" which is my pet name for him that I generally just use in my head, certainly NOT in public - poor child!  I did not go out.

I stayed my ground but held my breath.

Faith was a forward with Ben and ran right to him as soon as she saw him down - alerted the referee so she called a stop in play.  Faithie knelt by him and was checking him over as the coaches ran over.

Well, someone said something to me - another mom who knows us and knows Ben - that we have never seen him NOT get up right away.   I looked to her, and when I turned around, what you see in the photos is what I saw.

All of Ben's siblings who are on the team gathered around him.

You have to understand that according to league rules they all should have been sitting on their butts wherever their positions were, which was all over the field.

Certainly, not anywhere near their down brother.

And yet, here were all our our "littles", taking care of their brother, who was hurt.

Enough to make a mom and dad cry.

Another mom saw Steve taking the pictures - he already was, but I told him also to make sure and capture that.

She was horrified that he was taking pictures of a kid down.

He WASN'T taking pictures of a kid down.  He was taking pictures of the love of siblings that has transcended birth origins, time, continents, and languages.  He was taking a picture of family love, no matter what.  He was taking a picture of siblings who may not look alike, who may not have always been siblings, but whom God has knit together.  Siblings who care more for each other than any rule in a stupid game.  Caring more for each other than any game.

Remember, Ben and Tsion came to America, to our family two weeks less than a year ago - to the day.  They came as kids who had only met each other a couple times before joining our family.   Faith is the child who suddenly had more siblings very close in age to her - a total of three more to be exact.  Our "littles" are all within six to eight months of age of each other, and spend about half the year with all four the same age.  These kids came from many life experiences, many things, many tragedies, and lots of things.  And now they are brothers and sisters.

And when the chips were down, that is what mattered - they are siblings and they love each other and look out for each other.

That photo is not a photo of a child hurt, it is a photo of  love, of family.  It is a photo of what is really important.

It is the photo and sight that made me cry on the field.  Less than a year ago, two of these kids weren't even here.  And look at them caring for each other, regardless of rules.

I will take it.  Any day, any time.

By the way, Ben was checked over on the field, helped up, and the coaches began to escort him off the field. 

Well, after walking a short way, he insisted on staying in.  Tough kid.

They lost the championship game by one point, but in my book, they won.  I certainly won.  Thanking God for our kids and God's hand in knitting our family together.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11