Sunday, June 29, 2014

Come to Me....

  "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

 This year especially I have experienced many times of physical weariness and I am so thankful for the strength that God provides in each of those situations. But harder to deal with than physical weariness is the spiritual weariness that comes from sin. Jesus is the one that can remove that burden from us and give us rest. His way is so much better than the way of the world. If you haven't all ready - won't you give it a try?

 He truly does give rest!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Home Sweet Home {Progress!}

 Things are happening around here in the home situation and we are rather excited! First we got an offer on our house yesterday and after some back and forth we have come to an agreement. So if everything goes according to plan we will close near the end of August. Praise the Lord! I hope the new owner will be as happy here as we have been!

    Progress has really been made out at the land this week too but I guess I didn't get very many good pictures of it. The excavators were able to come this week to put the lane in, pull up stumps and get things ready for the detached garage. The frame is all ready for the cement slab to be poured for the garage but we have been having a lot of rain so they haven't poured yet - they will on Monday hopefully.

  Things are looking kind of messy out there- especially when it rains but the kids think the dirt piles are pretty fun!

  My brother (who works at a lumber yard) dropped of the supplies to make the garden fence, chicken coop and garage. So we are ready to start doing some building. Today when we were working out there the girls weren't feeling the best so they used the piles of wood for taking naps.
 Today (Megan and I only helped in the afternoon as I was taking care of wedding flowers and dealing with a plumber her at our house) the project was to get all the fence poles cemented in for the garden fence and the chicken run. Ken used an auger that he rented to make the holes and then the boys and I got the poles cemented in place. It will be a nice big garden and a bigger coop and run so we are excited about that. Our neighbor was very kind to let us hook up to his hose to get easy water and then he also offered some extra space in his shed for storing our tools.

  It rained really hard for a big this afternoon. We all ran to the van at first but that started feeling like a sauna and so some of them decided to hang out underneath the porch on our neighbors shed (which is right next to our garden spot). Meanwhile I had brought a book along and was able to read peacefully all by myself in the van.

  It is so fun to have things happening!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Singing and Flying!

    Yesterday was a fun day. In the morning we headed out to go see a new baby boy born to a couple from church and also to go sing at the nursing home. Jonathan decided he had better not go with us as he was sneezing a fair amount and seemed to be catching a cold and that would not be a good thing to share with either a new baby or the elderly so he went and mowed a neighbor's lawn instead which made them happy. When we went to see the baby they were in a class and we ended up having to leave for the nursing home before they returned. That was disappointing but we are looking forward to seeing them on Sunday.

    When we were at the nursing home I was once again so thankful that we are able to go there each month. God is so good to give us opportunities to serve in ways that bless us just as much as it blesses others. When we arrived one older lady wanted to visit a little and when I asked how she was doing she said she was just so lonely. That just breaks my heart. Being lonely is not any fun. My hope and prayer is that we can provide a little light in their day and most of all introduce them too or remind them of the one that is always there.

  Others of the residents there greeted us and thanked us for coming. It was fun to watch them tap their hands or sing along with us. One lady ended up crying quite a bit - it seemed like the music touched her and I felt a little bad that it made her cry but at the same time was glad that it touched her in some way. So many wanted to visit a little as we left - we felt so blessed and like we were truly where God wanted us to be. We love music but we do not put on any sort of polished concert. We simply sing songs that we know (we try to choose quite a few old ones) . Sometimes we manage a little bit of harmony with our singing but mostly it is just melody and it doesn't seem to matter what we do - the people enjoy it. If you have ever thought about going to the nursing home to share with the people there I sure would recommend it. I think many would be blessed - you included. They generally love seeing children so if you can bring kids along that is great.

 After lunch and naps and a little cleaning (to get ready for a house showing) at home we headed out to another exciting event of the day.....

Have you ever heard of Young Eagles? We had before but didn't know much about it nor had  we ever experienced the program. Yesterday that changed and the kids are very happy about that!

 We had heard that there were free airplane rides being offered to kids (age 8-17) at the airport and knowing how much the boys would enjoy that we made a point to go.

  All that we needed to do was fill out a form, sign a waiver and they were ready to head out with the pilot and owner of a small plane.

  Jonathan got to go first, riding with John. The picture above shows them looking over John's plane. He told Jonathan all about it and how it works before they ever got in. Jonathan who loves planes and other things that fly just ate it up. Jonathan has been working to make a remote control airplane at home so being able to see how things work up close and personal was wonderful for him.
 Then it was Aaron's turn to go. Would they really fit in that tiny plane? They did.

 Then Megan. The pilot that she was with was thoughtful and figured out something for her to sit up higher on so that she would be able to see good. He also asked about where we lived and other landmarks that she might enjoy seeing.

Those were the three pilots giving rides so Mara had to wait until they got back to take her turn. They each got around 1/2 hour of time with the pilot and plane with at least 20 minutes in the air. Jonathan and his pilot were able to see our house, our land, Ken's office, and several other landmarks. They had fun following the Mississippi river for a while. Jonathan came back grinning from ear to ear.

 The pilot that Aaron went with allowed him to use the controls some of the time which made Aaron super excited and happy. He has plans of  being pilot now (Jonathan already planned on that).

 Then Jonathan got back and Mara was able to go. She took my camera with her so we have more pictures of her flight.
 In the cockpit.

A view of town.

 Mara wasn't as excited about the flying going into it but she came back pretty excited too. All the kids have flown before when we have gone on trips but flying in the cockpit of a little plane over all the places that we know well was pretty cool and exciting. They can't wait to go again!

 The Young Eagles is a pretty neat thing as they will also help you to get started towards getting your pilots license.

 That was our fun day!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

So Many Pictures!

I really enjoy pictures. You may have noticed that I rarely post without one or more and we take pictures all the time. I like to have a camera always handy. Pictures can bring back so many fun memories and they also can explain many things much easier, instead of just telling you - I can show you.

 Pictures can be overwhelming however - especially when we take so many of them. Lately I have been having to deal with an abundance of pictures. One of the drives one our computer was nearly full (Thanks mostly to pictures!) and Ken had warned me about it and mentioned that I should move some files to an the empty drive but I wasn't sure how that all worked and was busy and didn't get it done, at that time I just went through a bunch of pictures and deleted doubles and bad/fuzzy ones and so I had freed up quite a lot of space and I basically forgot about the issue. Then came my sister's wedding and a daughter that took around 500 pictures there. I had also taken a bunch of pictures of other weddings' flowers and things that had been going on and then I went to upload them all and guess what? They didn't fit!

  I had a post planned for Monday but I couldn't get the pictures uploaded and so I was busy going through files again and moving files and working to get things in order so that I could access all my pictures. They are finally all uploaded and so I thought I would share some pictures with you! I have a lot of different ones that I want to share but this post will be a few random ones of the kids and their antics lately....

 The other day I came upstairs to find Megan on the couch reading this - "A Tale of Two Cities". She did enjoy it when I read it aloud this winter but I didn't expect her at 8 to want to read it on her own. She seemed quite engrossed but later I asked her if she had finished it and she looked at me with surprise and said "No"- like "Did you think that I would?"
 Sunday afternoon we decided to go on a family bike ride around the lake (a 23 mile trip when we start at home). It ended up being rather interesting. Around 4 or 5 miles into it Aaron said that his stomach was cramping and he didn't think he could go any farther. It was in a neighborhood where we didn't know anybody and not really a place where we could just hand out so I encouraged him on a bit but he soon gave out. Then we tried having him ride on the tag-along and Megan riding his bike but he was miserable. We made it maybe another mile that way but decided we would have to do something else. Thankfully we had made it close to some friends' (from church) house so we called them and asked if Aaron and I could come hang out there while the rest went on and then they would come pick us up later. I wasn't sure if Aaron was just hot and needed rest or if he was sick. Our friends offered to take us home as he was pretty miserable (Megan had also decided to stay with us while Ken and the older two continued the ride) and when walking out to their vehicle Aaron did vomit and did so more throughout the evening. Something really hit him hard. I put a poultice (Flax, Activated charcoal and Castor oil with heat) on his stomach and he rested and he was better the next day.

  When the others made it home (after going the whole way) I looked up at Mara to see her with a scratched up face and and elbow dripping blood. Then she showed me a leg, foot and back that were also scratched up. On their ride during a narrow, hilly part of the trail she hit a rough spot (and probably was a little distracted with the scenery - knowing her) and she crashed. Ken said she and the bike were completely tangled up together. They tried to wash her wounds at the state park (that they were going through at the time) but they still looked pretty yucky. She gamely finished the bike ride (16 miles or so still) and then I doctored her up when she got home. She also broke her glasses but they were able to fix that with a band-aid. We soaked her elbow in Epsom salt water and then put honey on it. We also treated wounds with calendula oil.

  Just to make sure that the bike ride was plenty exciting Jonathan finished the ride by having a flat tire. :-)
We still love bike riding - even if it can get a little "exciting" sometimes.
 One of Jonathan's favorite activities while I read aloud - drawing maps. This one is a big city.
 Aaron got to design his own area on the map.
 Enjoying homemade pudding pops. Jonathan made homemade chocolate pudding and then we froze them in some lovely molds that our friend Shelly gave us. What a fun treat!
 Jonathan also likes to carve while I read. Today I looked up to see him using one of our chairs as a sawhorse and he was standing on top to hold his stick in place. Boys!
Mara has been enjoying drawing again lately. I love watching her skill improve.

What has been going on in your life lately?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Home Sweet Home - Choosing Windows

There are so very many decisions when building a house. The latest one that we have been working on is windows. We are needing to make some choices now as we are getting ready to build the garage and want to get windows for it that will match what we will put in the house.
 I love windows! I like light and prefer natural light and so windows are essential for me. I very rarely close a blind or curtain as I love to be able to see out. I also love opening them to get in some fresh air. I have really appreciated the large windows we have here and in our next house we are planning on having even bigger/more windows.

But what type of window?

  Currently we have wood framed windows upstairs and vinyl downstairs. Of the two I like the vinyl ones better. We are looking at other options too.

Pros and Cons of Wood Framed Windows:

~They can look very nice (until they rot, mold or discolor)
~They are an efficient insulator - I guess much better than vinyl or aluminum.
~They can rot, mold, discolor and have moisture problems.
~They can be painted or stained different colors according to your taste.
~They require some maintenance.

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Windows:
~They are generally less expensive.
~They are low maintenance.
~You cannot paint to change the color later.
~They are less efficient for sealing up your house.
~The cheap ones can fall apart rather easily.

Pros and Cons of Fiberglass Windows:
~It is good at insulating.
~It does not warp, shrink, swell, rot or corrode.
~They are strong.
~They have not been testing for as long.
~They can be expensive.

We are leaning towards buying Marvin's Fiberglass Infinity windows but I would love to hear from you what sort of windows you have and what you do or don't like about them.

 We also have decisions to make concerning double hung, single hung, sliders or crank outs. My favorite is the double hung because of the ease of washing inside and out. They are more expensive though so I think maybe we could got ahead and get single hung on the ground floor where it wouldn't be that hard to wash the windows from the outside. I have had bad experiences with crank out windows not working well but I guess that isn't always so. Again I would love to hear about your experiences.

 Another thing that we are trying to decide about is the grid in the windows. We think it looks cool but I wonder how practical it is, whether you find it bothers the view or if it is hard to clean windows with it.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our Life Lately

 After not blogging for a while it is always challenging for me know how to jump in a get started again. So much has gone on and I have been thinking about so many things that I would love to write about but there is only so much time....

 Anyway I thought I would give you some brief updates of what has been going on in our life lately. Hopefully I will be able to give more details on some of the subjects soon.

  My sister's wedding (last Saturday) was the cause of many of the things that filled our days. What fun days they were. Here are some of the things that happened because of the wedding:

  • We spent a lot of time with family and friends. We had guests at our house and also spent time over at my parents house to have more time with our family members from out-of-town. Today I had a niece and nephew at my house (meanwhile Megan was at my parents playing with other nieces) enjoying some final cousin time before they head out of town tomorrow.
  • I sewed a new dress for the wedding. I shopped and shopped both online and in stores but could not find one the color I like plus the style and modesty that I felt necessary and some that could have been okay (not perfect, but okay) were too expensive. So I sewed instead. I was able to use stuff I had so I didn't spend anything on the dress.
  • I did a lot of extra practicing on the cello as when Keren had asked me to play for the wedding I suggested cello instead of violin (we didn't think piano was on option as the plan was to have it outside) as we had other friends that could play violin and guitar really nicely and I thought the cello would sound good with it. However cello is not my best instrument by any means and I really needed to put some practice in. 

  •  Then of course there was decorating and flowers to do. I had such fun with that!
Wedding season has truly begun! I have weddings every weekend this month and seem to be getting phone calls about flowers all the time. I am grateful to have something that I love to do that I can get paid at as well. 

  Work on our land continues. The excavators who will be putting in the driveway, taking out stumps and preparing a place for the garage right now and due to come in the next day or so. We have been stacking wood and clearing more brush to prepare for that. This weekend Ken hopes to get up the garden fence and build the chicken coop/garden shed (it will have a divider in it). The plan sounds pretty ambitious especially since my Saturday is mostly taken up with wedding stuff. It will be fun to get it done though.

 Monday afternoon and evening we went out and worked and my sister and her kids came and joined us. We had fun working, playing, cooking over a fire and then eating.
 The garden continues to beckon as I work to finish up the planting. We are really late this year but I think it will still do fine. Whether we are here to reap everything or not remains to be seen. Lord willing we won't be but I know that God knows best. Soon I will be planting a few things over at the other place. I have seedlings set aside for that purpose.

  We have been trying to eat foods that we gather (either from the wild or the garden) just as much as we can. Fresh food is very yummy!

  I recently read a book about some people that got lost in the wilderness (they did eventually get found but it was pretty trying). As we like adventures in the wild that book really sort of hit home to me and I feel more strongly than ever that I want my family to be prepared to deal with the need to survive in the wild. So we have various fun ideas to help us to become more knowledgeable and practice some skills that we might need. I am now reading a good book on wilderness survival - It is quite fun.

  Well, I had better get to bed - sleep is pretty sweet and needed right now. :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Many Uses for Mulch

 In this post I thought I would tell you about some of the progress we are making on our property (the post that I am trying to do on Saturdays - but haven't managed to do lately) and also share with you some thoughts on using mulch (a Homesteading post that I try to do on Mondays - but you are getting the combined post on Tuesday this week - that is just how things are going around here just now).

After we did the clearing that we needed to do on our property to make room for a house, garage, garden, septic drain field and driveway we have many piles of firewood and a bunch of piles of brush too. There were either 10 or 11 piles of brush and some of them were pretty large.

   The brush was in the way and we tried to figure out what we should do about it. We did think about burning it but that was a rather scary prospect as we don't have running water over there yet and we are just at the end of fire season anyway and I don't even know if fires like that are allowed yet (They allow them in the winter- with snow around and generally in the summer when everything is really green and not dry and so forest fires aren't such a big concern) and even if they were allowed it just made us nervous in our heavily forested property. Then we thought about somehow getting a chipper and turning it into mulch. This did sound like a great idea as we like to have mulch to use and that way the brush would actually be used not just wasted. However when we called to check on renting a chipper we were a little surprised at how much that cost ($175 for a day) and wondered if it was truly worth it as you could buy a lot of mulch for that price. However we wanted to get rid of those piles so we went ahead with it.
 Knowing how MUCH brush we had we were really wondering if we could ever get it done in one day. We were so happy to see how fast the chipper would work and as long as we could keep up with feeding it the brush piles quickly disappeared.
 Saturday was one long day (we got up at 6:30 in order to have a good start) but we got it all done and we were so happy about that. We were also incredibly exhausted but have been able to rest since then so we were ready for another busy Saturday this week - this time a wedding. We rented the chipper from ACME and this chipper definitely worked well. It did get clogged up once but we figured out how to unclog it and then it just worked really nice. Ken's only complaint that you couldn't direct the place of the piles real precisely.

  Ken was even able to bring it to our house quickly and he chipped up a pile of brush we had here. Since then we have been putting the mulch to use. This mulch is not treated which is nice on one hand as it is more natural and doesn't have chemicals that are going to go into your soil but it will also not have a "nice" color as long and it may decay faster. For living naturally this is a better mulch.

Here are some of the reasons and ways to use mulch:

  •  In your flower beds. It will help to keep the weeds down, release nutrients into the soil, keep the soil at a more even temperature and help keep moisture in - an important factor for those of us with sandy soil.

  •  Around your trees. Again it keeps the weeds down and moisture in and also it looks nice.
  • To designate pathways and keep the weeds at bay.
  • In your vegetable garden around the plants.

  • Mulch prevents soil compaction during downpours. Loose soil is better for healthy plants.
  • It slows rainwater runoff and helps reduce soil erosion.
  • It keeps dirt from splashing on flowers and veggies when it rains.

 There are some warnings when using mulch too as it can cause your soil to stay cool to long in the Spring and some other things as well. To see more information about mulching I found this site helpful.

 Do you use mulch? I would love to hear about your experiences and tips concerning mulch. Also what type of mulch do you like to use. Wood chips is only one of the many types.

I will be linking this to some of the parties on my sidebar.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

We Have a God Who Gives Rest and Peace

 As I mentioned another day we are going through a very busy time in our lives and sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming and we are at times very exhausted. During those sort of times I find such a peace and rest in remembering who God is and how He has everything under control.

  There are different ways that I am reminded of the greatness of God - By noticing His creation (some of that beauty you can see in the pictures in this post), reading His word and through music in which He is glorified. There are other ways too but those are the three that I have really been appreciating lately and that I thought I would share with you today.
 Here is a verse that tells of God's power that I was blessed by in my Bible reading this morning:

  "It is He who made the earth by His power,
Who established the world by His wisdom,
and by His understanding He stretched out the heavens."
Jeremiah 51:15

This morning I was also very blessed by a song that we sung at church. It is one I had heard before but not for a long time and I don't think I had ever played it or really sung it before. I really appreciated it's message though. Here is a link to the words and music and then you can see the video and hear it below.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Finding Rest in the Midst of Busy Days

 Hello Everyone!
I have missed writing lately but life has been busy and as much as I love blogging it has had to take a back seat just now.

  Getting stuff done on our property to get ready for building has been a fairly high priority lately which has left us very tired quite a few days. It is time to get the garden in. Wedding season has truly started and this year not only do I have the flowers to do for many clients weddings (and paperwork that goes with that) but my little sister is getting married next week. We are very excited about that but it has definitely made my life busier as well. Our homeschool baseball also got started tonight - fun times but it all takes time and energy.
Convention activity

   This past weekend Ken and I were down in Rochester, MN attending the MN Republican convention. After working very hard the weekend before Ken mentioned that it would be nice to have a relaxing weekend at the convention. Well we realized afterwards that relaxing wasn't quite the right word for it after attending 31 hours of meetings in one evening and 2 days. We came home completely exhausted and went to bed at 8 pm on Sunday night. I don't remember ever doing that before unless we were sick. The kids were able to spend the weekend with my sister in her family and had a great time but we had a good laugh because they spent much of their time hauling wood (just like we had been doing the weekend before) so their weekend wasn't super relaxing either. Oh well, relaxing can be over-rated. :-)
 The day after the convention a bunch of the endorsed candidates flew into our town for a press conference. I had fun taking our kids over to meet them. Above the kids are with Jeff Johnson who is running for governor and below we are with Mike McFadden who is running for US Senate.
Anyway - that is some of what I have been up to lately. I hope to blog more but am not making any promises until after Keren's wedding is over next weekend. We are working to get the things done that are a top priority and trying to get sufficient rest as well so we don't end up sick. Thinking of that - I had better head to bed!


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