Musings from the Threshold

Category Archives: Alongside

Still here!

I’ve been a bit distracted from blogging lately…

We’re on our second round of chicken pox currently. Unless Andrew ends up getting them in a third round, we will have lifetime immunity for seven out of eight Blessings. It’s been a doozey, and we were gifted with a stomach bug in the midst of it, but I think we’re going to pull through. Do please pray for Katie, though. She’s just getting started on her case, and I’m thinking there was some basis to the article I read that said that kids with eczema and other skin problems are likely to have thousands of pox as opposed to hundreds. She’s not up yet today, but from the way she looked last night, my mama-heart is very concerned for her.

I started dreaming last year of making available an Advent Wreath resource that folks could download for free, and that project is almost done! I hope to have it available in the next few days. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, so I’m a bit down to the wire. If you would like to try using an Advent Wreath as a tool for worship this year, consider going ahead and picking up the needed candles while you’re out this week. You’ll need a white candle for the center (I like to use a pillar for this), and four candles for the outer ring (I usually use tapers) – three purple or blue, and one pink or red. What a solemn and estatic joy it is to celebrate His coming!

Our dearly loved dog Juilin died last week. He ran out in the road one too many times, and he did not make it. It was an honor to have him breathe his last with his head resting on my leg. We will miss him. I enjoyed going through our family pictures and picking out some of Juilin. If you like pictures of sweet adorable dogs, you might enjoy looking at them.

Our apples are all canned. I don’t have a final count yet, but hope to post more on our appling with some numbers and pictures. We did six bushels this year and tried some new stuff. I think we all enjoyed it.

And now, I must work on finishing that Advent Wreath book!

Apple day

We’ve been busy today taking care of various projects around the house. It’s the first weekday the Blessings have had off school since mid-September, and they’ve been a big help.

We worked on getting the venison we were given earlier this week in the freezer at last. We were given one rear haunch and two front haunches, mostly clean. Jonathan boned and cleaned it up some more, then we roasted it. The boys and I got a good bit of it trimmed and pulled/shredded this morning, and when I realized I was wearing out with quite a bit of meat left and other projects still to do, we went ahead and got it all in the freezer… some ready to pull and some still in need of trimming. Whew.

The Blessings put the winter squash we gathered last night onto a shelf in the basement, and did some cleaning around the house in preparation for the arrival of our apples. Because today is apple pickup! I headed out at lunchtime to pick up the six bushels we’d ordered, and threw in an extra 1/4 bushel of a type we hadn’t tried before while I was there. We will get serious about putting them up next week, as we have chiropractic appointments this afternoon and a busy day tomorrow. I’m so excited about canned apples, applesauce, and applebutter, and I think we’ll try dehydrating some as well. Any favorite recipes you’d like to share??

We listened to the Statler brothers through a good bit of the day as we worked (that 30 years 3 CD collection lasts through a lot of projects!). Love the Statlers! My friends the Youngs introduced me to them when I was in high school, and I was thrilled that I got the bonus of marrying into a family that appreciated them as well.

I love to listen to the Statlers sing How Great Thou Art. I got all thrilled and throat-catchy today thinking on
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
and there proclaim (for eternity!!), my God, how great Thou art!

So, here’s a treat for you (you’ll have to follow the links because WP is not letting me embed them, for some reason)…
The Statlers singing How Great Thou Art in 1971 on a Johnny Cash special
And a more recent version (looks like it’s from The Statler Brothers Show)

October 27, 2011

The garden is almost done for the year. Last week we gathered a large harvest before the first freeze of the year.

The Blessings and I also spent about an hour covering tomato and pepper plants with sheets before that first freeze to try to protect them and give them a bit more time to mature the fruit they’ve been working so hard to produce since the intense heat cooled. What you see on that plate was the extent of our tomato harvest to the date of the picture, less three tomatoes. Impressive for the almost 50 tomato plants we planted in the spring, eh? Hot hot summer makes gardening interesting, anyway!

The long skinny peppers are Holy Moles (holey moleys). This is the second year we’ve grown them. They are prolific producers with varying degrees of heat. The first year, they were quite mild, while this year they packed a bit of a punch. I found this out after I’d taken them to fellowship lunch along with miscellaneus bell/banana peppers and assured everyone that I had only brought sweet peppers. Or not…
I canned five pints of Holy Moles (sliced) and a couple pints of banana peppers (a portion of this batch), but I haven’t gotten a picture of their loveliness yet.

Tonight after we got home from town, we did another pre-frost harvest, as it’s supposed to get down to 31. Here’s what Jonathan and the older Blessings gathered while I got Andrew ready for bed:

The tomatoes made a bit of progress in the mild week+ after the first freeze; hopefully these will ripen nicely inside.
The pitiful watermelons didn’t have time to mature, yet this is the best success we’ve had yet with watermelons. Maybe next year we’ll grow some that we, instead of the chickens, eat.

A couple of the little butternuts broke off at the stem and were cooked tonight… gorgeous, aren’t they?

What a Weekend!

Friday afternoon found us at the home of some new friends, for an enjoyable visit and (hopefully) an intake of the chicken pox. Our older Blessings have been exposed multiple times and have not yet broken out in the pox, but I keep trying whenever the opportunity arises. That doesn’t seem to be very often; Stephen had not been exposed previously in his four+ years. We shall see what the next few weeks bring.

Saturday afternoon, we had a wind turbine raising, complete with chili supper. Dad and Mom Smith joined us, as did James, Wendy, and Shay. We’re thankful for family help! I took scads of pictures:

We were gifted with some venison on Sunday evening, so Jonathan left our weekly pancake night to go pick it up, then spent quite a while removing the meat from the bones. I roasted the bones and have had bone broth simmering all day, about which I’m excited. I’m not certain yet how we will be processing the meat, but we are thrilled to have about thirty-five pounds of venison to deal with!

Family Demolition Project

And no, I don’t mean demolishing families!

The first significant rain in our area for well over a month arrived on August 3, and with it came winds that were fiercer than I, in my rain-induced euphoria, realized. Two buildings at Jonathan’s work were destroyed by the winds, and the insurance assessor came out and ruled them a total loss, which meant that Sturdi-Bilt could not salvage any of the materials.

But guess who could??

So yesterday evening, the Blessings and I met Jonathan at work and J and the older boys proceeded to disassemble the buildings, which were three-sided shelters intended for animals. There were two large piles that had been gathered, and I unfortunately didn’t get a demonstrative “before” shot:

Jonathan, Davey, Barak, and Josiah did almost all the hard labor, with Stephen and I carrying the occasional board.

Most of the time, the rest of us sat around watching the piles of metal siding and boards get taller.

Tonight the fellas picked up the materials we were bringing home (we sold the metal siding last night to a guy who came to look at storage barns). We’re thankful for a nice pile of 2x4s, 2x6s, etc. Way to go, guys!

Oh, the Gifts!

Does anyone know who’s handing out the “bad blogger” awards this month?

If only you could read all the posts I’ve written in my head.

My main excuse is a pretty solid one – we’re moving in two weeks, back home to the Hutchinson area! I’m hoping to manage a catch-up/catch-all post sometime this week. We shall see.

In the meantime, my thanks overflow…
Gifts #302-339

Step by step direction
Faith challenges
Spring rain – cold, uncomfortable, but so beneficial
The inspiring determination of a friend to lose those pounds and get healthy
Shared tools for getting healthier
Three days in a row of Pilates (twice, now!)
Friends who care for us
Encouragement as we follow Him
Packed boxes
Bare walls
More and more to do
A husband and blessings who do so much of the work
Freedom to put school on “pause”
Green shoots of spring flowers and garlic

A contract on the Byrds’ Nest (hard thanks, this)
Laundry to do
A repaired-by-my-man dryer door
But God
Blue for the sky – from horizon to horizon
The color green (to fill these fields with praise)

Sunset over the Flint Hills
Tire replaced *before* blow out
Tire in stock
Full van and trailer
Road trip with my man
Happy baby in the next seat
A fun weekend for the other Blessings
Willing muscles – practical love!
Empty van and trailer
New house with pieces of us inside
Planning what goes where
Closets. Lots of closets. With lots of shelves.
A mud room
Sweet neighbors we will be leaving
Sweet neighbor we will be gaining
More boxes filling

A last hurrah for winter
Lovely white snow melting to show gorgeous green grass
Reminders to BE, not just do

a day late…

Another Sort of Garden Work

Today, we did a little work in the front “flower garden.” That gets quotation marks because, since we moved here, we have seen very few flowers in the raised bed out front. However, my assumption has always been that there were probably bulbs and such that were deep under the soil and needed to be dug up and replanted. That job has been on my “want to” list since we moved here, but it’s finally made it to the “to do” list.
We got started today on a very small section of the flower garden because I wanted to plant some mums. I pulled out the weeds (also known as all existing fauna/flora) from an area about 18″ x 5′, then Jonathan dug up the top 8 inches or so:

My helpers and I started working or way through the soil Jonathan had dug up, pulling out weed roots and searching for treasure. The definition of treasure varied according to the goals of the worker… Ellie and Stephen were mostly searching for worms for fishing bait (but willingly picked out bulbs as well); Katie and I were more focused on finding bulbs and such:

Once we had sifted through the soil, we replaced it and planted a few mums. Jonathan got a great deal on these and they haven’t even opened yet. I had always thought that mums were annuals, but they’re perennials. Neat!

And from that 18″ x 5′ area, we gathered all this treasure!

As you can see, we’ve only conquered a very small portion of the raised bed area, but the treasure we found makes me even more motivated to clear it out and replant!

A “school year” underway

While we have school going at some level all year, I appreciate the opportunity for evaluation and goal-setting that comes with the start of a “new” year.  In our family, this usually means evaluation and goal-setting for me as much or more than for the Blessings.  That is certainly true this year, perhaps to a greater degree than usual.

I thought I’d share some adjustments that I/we are making.  Perhaps they’ll encourage or challenge you, or bless you in the knowledge that you’re not alone in this or that.

No-Internet Days
I think I have neglected to share my new habit of considering the internet, for the most part, turned “off” during the day.  I do take a little online time during Siesta,  and there are other reasons for exceptions, but for the most part, I’ve made the internet off limits for me while Jonathan is gone to work.  Why?  Because I need to be with my children.  That sounds cliché’ when I look at the words in type.  But I had gotten to the point where I hid in my room from my children most of the day, considering them intrusions rather than Blessings, being irritated with them for bothering me, and just not BEing with them.  That is not the mom that I want to be, the mom God wants me to be, the mom my Blessings need.  The internet was not the culprit, I was.  But the internet was my enabler and the Father convicted me that I needed to change my habits. So, since mid-summer, I’ve been having a lot more face-to-face time with our Blessings!

A Developing Routine
I’ve realized that with six children officially doing school, we are in need of more structure to our days. Several years ago, I tried using a very structured program for scheduling our days, and it didn’t for me. Great program; I just had a hard time hanging on to the fact that it was my tool, not my master… and I turned into Monster Mom. It wasn’t pretty. So we’re working on figuring out a schedule/routine that will be flexible, yet give us some needed structure.

Breakfast and Lunch
During Andrew’s (very physically challenging) pregnancy, the Blessings generally got their own (cold) breakfast and (not necessarily healthy) lunch. Keepin’ it real. It was physically needed for them to do the preparation, but I fell out of the habit of making sure that they had what they needed on hand for healthy, varied meals. Part of our new routine is eating breakfast together as a family, which makes it natural to work toward the goal of providing more nutritious breakfasts. Since I’m more mindful of breakfast planning, it’s relatively easy to remember to plan better for lunches. Not being “stuck” at the computer all day lends itself to actually fixing these meals for my children more often instead of them needing to do it every time. And you know what? I’m enjoying it!

Memory Work
My friend Hope inspired me this summer with her system for Bible memory with her children. In short, after prayerful choosing of a passage, the mom “(reads) the passage three times every day and the children (chime) in as it becomes familiar. … By the end of the month, they have got it!” We’ve been incorporating this into our morning after-breakfast routine, and are loving it. We started in mid-August with Psalm 1 and all the Blessings who can talk have it memorized. We’re working on Ephesians 1 this month (and maybe next), and we need to put some prayer into choosing passages for the rest of the year. Check out Hope’s helpful and inspiring post for more fleshed-out ideas.

There are other adjustments we’re working on making, but this post has gotten long enough.  Have a blessed week!

Day camp at Dayspring

We spent June 30 and July 1 at Dayspring Bible Camp, helping with the Fredericktown Day Camp with other folks from Bible Truth Fellowship. We actually arrived the evening of the 29, just in time to get settled and get some sleep, so we enjoyed breakfast with everyone Wednesday morning and enjoyed greeting the campers as they arrived.

That first morning, I woke up plenty early and nursed Andrew in the peaceful coolness while listening to the birds sing their morning songs. It made me wish we could turn off the A/C at home so we could hear God’s creation better. It also made me very thankful for our wonderful Creator.

It was interesting helping at camp as the mother of a two month old. Much different from counselling as a teen and in my early 20s, and also different from when I’ve had the opportunity to serve at camp as a mom with no tiny babies. There are times when the season preventing me from being “helpful” is frustrating and discouraging to me. I was blessed with a sense of peace about it this time, though, and found myself glad for the opportunities I had to interact with the campers. And when I needed to tend to our young ones, I found myself flooded with thankfulness for the now, this season, these precious moments with our Blessings – each of them.

And so, with a thankful heart, here are some pictures from our two days at camp:

Saturday Garden Work

Saturday found us back out in the garden, and once again Jonathan and the Blessings acomplished a great deal (pictures below). We have also revised our garden plans for this year a bit.

Midway through Friday’s garden labors, Jonathan remarked that he was realizing that a gardening method like we are implementing this year is really best if it’s built a bit at a time. I smiled and agreed. Then we went back into planning mode.

Our garden plot is 50′ x 40′, or about 2000 square feet. In our original plan, we actually underestimated the size at 50′ x 30′ (1500 sq ft). We had planned 14′ long beds with a 2′ walking path down the middle, as well as 18″ paths between the beds. Like so:

We haven’t finished our revisions to the garden plan, but we have pretty much decided that we’re not going to lay out all the beds in the second half of the garden this year. We extended the beds on the house side of the garden to about 18 1/2′, and plan to do at least two beds on the chicken coop side (for our corn). We still need to decide how we’ll handle our winter squash (pie pumpkins, butternut, and spaghetti squash), potatoes, and melons, which will all also be on the coop side. So, stay tuned!

And now, pictures of Saturday’s progress:
Kate, Ellie, and Barak on their way back for more mulch
Davey and Grace bringing over a wheelbarrow, while Jonathan lines up the next path
Josiah and Davey loading mulch
This poor pestered hen was again seeking shelter in the garden… this time, she jumped up behind me on my chair
The garden after Saturday’s work
The mulch pile after Saturday’s work
And a seedling update:
The two rows on the left are peppers, which hadn’t sprouted yet. The four on the right are tomatoes.