Thursday, December 24, 2020

2020 Family Christmas Letter

2020 Family Christmas Letter: Greetings Family and Friends! We’ve never been so pleased to finish out a year as we have 2020. We are hoping and praying things will look up for 2021. While it has been a struggle, we see God’s will and provision in all circumstances. We’ve also gained a whole new appreciation for our family and friends. I’ll start off our letter with updates on each of us. Michael took the Shop Manager position at Camp Umatilla and is enjoying his much less intense commute. He has been experiencing some aches and pains that come with mechanicing and getting older, and is enjoying being off the shop floor and learning new managerial skills. He is now a Chief Warrant Officer 2 and has been with the Oregon National Guard for nearly 25 years. I (Jackie) continue to traditionally homeschool all three children. So thankful we chose this route years ago as the COVID-19 crisis has not affected my kids’ education. In fact with less extra curricular activities going on, we’re getting to some subjects we hadn’t previously had time to learn. One of our goals for this year (for both me and the older children) is to write out the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights in cursive. I also enjoy giving tours part-time at the Pendleton Underground when it is allowed to be open, which unfortunately hasn’t been much this year. I kept very busy this summer with two big gardens and tried out some new canning recipes. I started teaching a women’s Bible study again this fall, which I thoroughly enjoy. Josiah is 17 and currently in 11th grade and has almost earned his Eagle rank. COVID has definitely made it more difficult, but he is determined to finish. He completed his Eagle project this summer by installing a “game bird guzzler” on a local farmer’s property with the help of his troop. Towards the end of the summer he was hired part-time working with a local internet company. He loves getting out of the house everyday and working to pay for his many hunting activities. Hailey is 13 and in 7th grade. She is definitely the artist in the family, spending hours drawing and coloring. Her obsession with mermaids and all things having to do with the sea has not waned. She recently discovered 3-D puzzles. She is still in gymnastics (when open) and enjoys being on the pre-team. She’s made some new friends there this year. She had her first regular babysitting job this summer and learned a lot. She’s saving up for her own scuba equipment and wants to learn how to scuba dive. Rina is 5 and in Kindergarten. She is a joy and delight to homeschool. I think I finally got one kid who likes academics! She loves her special time with me in the afternoons when we homeschool. She also enjoys being part of a Kindergarten co-op we host in our home. Rina is my garden/food processing-buddy. She’s super observant and sometimes can spot a new veggie coming on before I do! She adores animals and is learning to ride our two miniature horses. As with everyone, many of our plans were thwarted because of COVID, but we were able to go camping quite a bit this year with family. Our toy hauler has been such a blessing! Michael and I also traveled to Wallowa Lake for a weekend to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We were also able to visit the Oregon Coast for a few days, staying at Camp Rilea with family. This has been a heartbreaking, confusing, and frankly sometimes depressing year. However, these trials have afforded huge opportunities to get to know other people better and to serve others who have been affected much greater than we have by all these changes. It has encouraged us to cling to God in a whole new way. I’m thankful our family’s hope is not in what is going on in this world but in the salvation of Jesus Christ who was born both fully man and fully God, who lived, died and rose again, ascended and is now seated at the right hand of His Father, waiting for His Father to tell Him when to return to Earth again. Who knows if we shall see His return in our lifetime, but we shall seek to be ready for it. We’re just so thankful He made a way for us because “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. May the Light of all Truth shine brilliantly on each of us this coming New Year! God Bless, Jackie and Family

Sunday, December 22, 2019

2019 Family Christmas

2019 Family Christmas Letter

Season's greetings, friends and family! What a wonderful year on Mission Rd Homestead as we embraced our “new normal". This year was a time of catching up rather than crisis. We not only caught up around our home, but we were able to intentionally connect with family and friends. We camped at Indian Lake (twice), Heppner Ranch, Jubilee Lake, Ft. Rilea (on the Oregon coast) and twice during various hunting seasons. We all enjoyed the opportunity to disconnect from work and smart phones to just play games, visit, read aloud, hike, kayak, hunt, etc. It's been great to have the time to do these “normal activities” as a family again.

Michael is starting his 5th year of commuting to La Grande to work as a heavy-wheeled track mechanic for the Oregon National Guard. Hee was able to go to Canada for Annual Training this year. He is now a W2 Chief Warrant Officer in the OR Nat. Guard. April, 2020 will be his 24th anniversary being in the Guard. He keeps himself busy working on the homestead, being an Assist. Scoutmaster for Josiah's BSA troop, hunting, working on the T-bucket and taking us all camping. He installed our flooring and got a lot of trim work done on the house. Only one more room to go, and we'll be done with the flooring!

I am homeschooling all three children (1 high schooler, 1 middle schooler and 1 pre-schooler), working as a part-time tour guide for the Pendleton Underground Tours, and am the Committee Secretary for Josiah's BSA troop. I enjoy bible study, gardening, working on the homestead, practicing my fiddle, writing, contra dancing, and have begun exercising regularly again. I've been learning to bake more and still enjoy cooking from scratch whenever I have the time. This past year, I've really tried to add margin to my life and given up a lot of things to keep from being excessively busy.

Josiah is 16 and driving (gasp!). He's enjoying more independence and we're enjoying having another driver in the family. He just attained the Life Rank in Scouts and is well on his way to achieving Eagle rank. He and Michael went to Melita Island on Flathead Lake in Montana for summer camp. He loves hunting, fishing and wants to start trapping this year. He enjoys camping and is always super creative when it comes to survival techniques. He also started doing a little boxing and is working to get in shape so he can join the military when he's older. He participated in his first Civil War reenactment and hopes to do more next year.

Hailey is 12 and turning into a beautiful young woman. She is thriving in our homeschool, even with the extra challenges dyslexia brings. She is learning to adapt and use tools to help her be successful. She is currently writing a book using “speech to text”. Her imagination and vocabulary continue flourish. She still loves participating in gymnastics and also enjoys art.

Rina is 4 and such a delight to our family. She keeps us all laughing at her cute antics. She insists on being homeschooled along with the other kids and knows all her letters and sounds and can count to 100. She's starting to read and write some very basic words. She's enjoying the “Little Learners” class through our local homeschool group and has her own library card now! Our little cowgirl adores horses and animals of all kinds and rides her miniature horse, Bakerman, whenever she gets a chance.

This is the year we learned to breathe again. The house fire and rapid re-build taught us many things. It made us take stock and re-prioritize. Our faith, family and friends are our number one priority. God has brought us so far. He has blessed us beyond our imaginings. It was undeserved, unmerited, but He did it anyway. We're thankful for His continued grace and peace as we go through this crazy life with it's joys and pains. We thank Him for the salvation He gives as a gift to us through His precious Son, Jesus, our Messiah. He was born in humble circumstances, lived a perfect life, died and rose again so that we may be saved from our sins. Oh how precious is His name! We pray blessings on our family and friends as we enter into 2020. May His face shine upon each one of you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, September 6, 2019

"Homeschool Hell Week"

Keepin’ it real over here. This is my 11th year of homeschooling. I have officially decided the first week of school will be called “Homeschool Hell Week” (sorry I am a military wife so using military terms.). The pattern I’ve experienced is the first day usually goes pretty well but then it slowly digresses through the rest of the week. All of a sudden they are not happy when I have stepped up the bar because they have gone up a grade, or my strong-willed children are freaking out because I changed something from what I did last year. For years I would get discouraged as I watched lesson plans go up in smoke and had to adjust fire as I figured out what reasonable expectations were versus the ideal homeschool year I had cooked up in my head. 

For all of you homeschool moms who are new to this or are simply feeling discouraged because you are in the middle of the battle, I want to encourage you and let you know that it will pass. The children will adjust their attitudes and both you and they will adjust expectations to the new realistic “normal” for that year. I urge you all to be patient with the process. Don’t feel like you did the wrong thing by homeschooling them because it’s hard. Sometimes my “hell week” of homeschooling turns into a “hell month”, but I’ve always hung in there knowing that I’m doing the right thing - the best thing for my kids, even though I might be getting a lot of flak back. 

Many parents immediately start worrying about damaging their relationships with their kids because of the conflict they are experiencing. I promise you, in the long run these relationships will be strengthened. I urge you to focus on character and help them to realize that you are not just the parent but the boss - the one who is in control of their schedule, chores and academics. The power struggle is real, especially in this day and age. Kids thrive with good boundaries and routine. By the grace of God, you can do this one day at a time. “Homeschool Hell Week” will end!

God Bless,

Friday, August 23, 2019

Resilient Homeschooling Article

I’m very honored to have been asked by OCEANetwork to write a story about how I managed to keep homeschooling after the house fire. It was published this week on their blog. I pray this encourages anyone who is feeling the call to homeschool or who has been feeling like they just can’t do it anymore due to life circumstances. Homeschooling our children is something we will never regret. We feel absolutely privileged to be able to do this. All the hard work, sacrifice (and tears) will be worth it in the end. Click on link below for article:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Museums, Family Paint Night, Shopping and More Beach Time! - August 2018 Family Vacation: Part 4

Towards the end of our vacation, we got up early to beat the crowds at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

Ice cream for breakfast, oh yeah!

We headed out to see the Tillamook Air Museum where blimps were stationed during WWII. It was quite an interesting museum.
Rina was checking out the inside of a typical backyard bomb shelter used during WWII.
She also got to sit in the pilot seat of some old planes. It was nice that they had some hands-on stuff for kids to do. 

We used the left over steamer clams to make clam chowder. Delicious! It's the only seafood my sis will eat.

My stepmom brought supplies for us to each paint a beach scene. 

She convinced me to give it a try. I'm glad I did because it was actually a lot of fun and I did better than I thought I would. Art is not my gifting. My twin sis hogged those genes!

I'm going to hang our family's paintings in the toy hauler somewhere. I just love them!

Our family headed into Garibaldi for some fresh fish and chips right of a food truck. Best I've ever had!
 We stopped in at the Garibaldi Museum. It had been years since we'd been there. Such a great little museum.
Josiah was very interested in the typical food sailors would eat. Josiah has always loved making his own hardtack for Boy Scout hikes and such.

The weather finally broke and we enjoyed some sun on the beach. Good thing, because that afternoon, it started pouring down rain.

Jessica and Rina enjoyed playing on the beach together for hours. I love their special relationship.

We joined my sister's family on a jaunt to Rockaway Beach. The kids got a kick out of the International Police Museum in the middle of the small beach town.
Policewomen's  uniforms from around the world. 

It was cute to see the middles being littles. My nephew Jacob and our daughter Hailey each took a turn on the police motorcycle ride. Fun to see them play.

We walked around Rockaway to look at several shops. One of our favorites was the blacksmith shop. The girls took some time between rain showers to play a game of chess.

One final picture of Rina and Grandma thoroughly enjoying their Tillamook ice cream cones. The next day, we all packed up and went home. Even though it was a little soggy at times, we had a great time and it was a wonderful break from the 110 degrees F temps we were getting in Eastern Oregon. We really enjoyed have the large toy hauler as it became the hang out for Stacie's family when it was raining or chilly. Plus my mom and stepdad were able to stay in it with us part of the week. What a blessing to have it! How special that we were able to have both sets of parents camp with us. We had a few issues with the truck coming home but we made it back in one piece, and for that we were grateful. This was a family vacation that we will remember for a long time to come! 

God Bless,

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Perfect, Soft and Chewy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been trying to make the perfect, healthy whole wheat chocolate chip cookie for years. I find that they often fall apart and can dry out, especially by the next day. I finally figured it out thanks to the new bonMat I received at a bonCook party. The silicone mat actually crystallizes the sugar so that it doesn't fall apart. Amazing!

You would never know that these cookies are healthier than your average chocolate chip cookie. They are made with whole wheat pastry flour, purely butter for the fat and an unrefined sugar called "sucanat". Do not use regular whole wheat flour! I typically use organic dark chocolate or white chocolate chips and, being part squirrel, I always add nuts. After creaming the butter and sucanat together, I just turn on my Kitchen Aid onto the "Stir" setting and start dumping. Wet ingredients first, then dry. The cookies in these pictures are actually white chocolate macadamia nut. Same recipe!

Healthy, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (softened but not melted)
2 cups sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips (any kind you like)
1 cup nuts or seeds (any kind)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream softened (not melted) butter and sucanat together until somewhat light and fluffy. Set Kitchen Aid to "Stir" and add remaining ingredients in the order they are listed. Put about 2 Tbl of dough in rows on a silicone baking mat such as the bonMat that I used. I have two, so this goes really fast. I was able to get 3 cookie sheets filled with this recipe. Cook in middle rack of oven for 8 minutes or until just tops are just slightly done. Remove from oven and let sit on mat 5 minutes, then move cookies to cooling rack. 

Yields approx 60 small cookies.

My dear friend, Melinda, mailed me several bonCook pieces after our house fire to help replace what I had lost. If your interest has been piqued about this amazing product, check out her website at I absolutely love this bakeware!


God Bless,

Friday, January 4, 2019

2018 Family Newsletter

Hello, Friends and Family! We hope 2018 was good to you. We're pleased to have been able to host many of you in our new home. God has been so good to us. As the “after-shocks” of the fire keep happening, God continues to provide for our every need. We are learning to be totally reliant on Him rather than ourselves. Our biggest expense came this year when we learned we had to put in a new drain field. When all felt impossible, God provided! We lived without sewer for about 3 months, ”glamping” in our new home. Once again, we are VERY grateful for running water and a working septic!

Michael is still commuting to La Grande where he continues to work as a mechanic as a Federal Technician for the Oregon National Guard. On drill weekends he is commuting to Salem. He just received his Chief Warrant Officer (WO2) rank. Very proud of him! He has kept himself very busy this year volunteering as an Assistant Scoutmaster in Josiah's Boy Scout troop. We had to tear down our hay shed to accommodate the new drain field so he built a mini-barn. He wanted to add pigs to our homestead this year. It turns out he really likes pigs. Both pigs are in the freezer, but he looks forward to raising more in the future (me – not so much). He hopes to be able to work on his T-Bucket more next year.

Josiah is 15 years old and turning out to be quite the hunter. He absolutely loves it, even though he didn't have a lot of luck this year. He added duck hunting to the list this year and studied to get his trapper's license. He recently advanced to Star rank in Boy Scouts and is very involved, earning quite a few merit badges again this year. He is currently studying for his driver's permit. He is a freshman in our homeschool this year and is doing very well despite his increased academic workload.

Hailey is 11 years old and still enjoys gymnastics. She is currently on pre-team. She is homeschooled part of the time and then goes to a special reading class to help with her dyslexia. She loves her teacher and is gaining in confidence. Reading and writing will probably always be difficult for her but she is a hard worker and we are confident she will gain the tools she needs to be successful in whatever she chooses to do in the future. She loves all things mermaid and is becoming quite interested in art. She is in 5th grade now.

Rina is 3 years old and enjoys cooking and baking with me in the kitchen. She is truly the cherry on top of our family sunday. We all adore her and the biggest challenge we have is to try NOT to spoil her too much. She received a miniature horse from her Nana and Papa for her 3rd birthday. Bakerman has been a cute addition to our homestead. We just received another miniature horse from Michael's cousin, Carol Ann. Bakerman was lonely and needed a pal. Her name is Sugar. Rina enjoys helping, books, counting and playing outside when the weather is nice.

I'm well into my 10th year of homeschooling the kids and still love it. It gets better every year. I also did a lot more tours for the Pendleton Underground this past year. We are thoroughly enjoying our toy hauler and have taken it to Glacier National Park, the Oregon Coast and deer camp. I was also able to take Hailey and I on a mother/daughter trip to Tuscon, AZ with my sister and my niece, Lily, to visit friends. We were able to see the Biosphere 2, Fort Lowell (used during the Apache Wars) and visit Tombstone, AZ. We learned a lot of history in 3 days!

As we embrace 2019, we have no idea what it holds. This we do know. God is in control. He sees, He knows, He will sustain us when things feel out of our control. Over the Christmas season we enjoyed celebrating the birth of our Savior, our Messiah, our Redeemer who lives! May God bless each of you this New Year. We pray that when you look at our IMPERFECT family, you will see what the Lord has done – despite our mistakes and failures. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37.

Happy New Year from the our family to yours!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cheese, Beach, Crabbing and Seafood Feasting Fun! - August 2018 Family Vacation: Part 3

My kidlets at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company in Tillamook, OR. The first time we attempted to go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory there was a line out the door so we decided to keep traveling and landed at the Blue Heron instead. Glad we did! 

Michael particularly loved all the old logging and farm equipment displayed on the property.

I always said Michael was my mule!

The kids said I make a good milk cow. I'd say that's pretty accurate :)

The girls delighted this musician by dancing to his music.

Afterwards, we want back to play on the beach at Bar View Jetty. Hailey and her cousin, Lily, are always having a great time together.

There were sand castles and forts to be built all week long with the cousins.

The kids got a selfie-stick at a thrift store so I tried it out. Here is Larry, my step-dad, and I. It was great having both sets of my parents with us at the beach this year.

Clearly, I was having way too much fun with the selfie-stick! Here I am with both my moms.

Andrew and Josiah spent a great deal of time and energy building this amazing sand fortress. A lot of engineering and thought went into this. Kept them busy for hours.

We picked a picture perfect day to go crabbing at Kelly's Marina in Brighton, OR. We've been stopping by there to buy fresh seafood for years and always dreamed of going crabbing on a boat. We finally made it happen this year and I'm so glad we did. This will be a family tradition for years to come. We enjoyed it so much.

This ended up being Josiah's favorite activity of the entire vacation.

We got two keepers!

Michael and Rina were the pilots of the boat, Josiah was the puller, Hailey and I were spotters. 
We made a great team!

Awesome memories were made.

While our crabs were cooking, Mom met us down there and she and Larry bought enough seafood for our whole family to have huge seafood feast.

Rina is not a fan of the smells of fresh seafood.

Crab, Prawns, steamer clams and grilled oysters with garlic butter, Parmesan and bacon bits.

Josiah was a big help with grilling the oysters over the campfire. This kid adores seafood!

Eating treats like this is what this Eastern Oregon family loves. We live far enough away from the coast that we aren't able to go every year, so we make the most of it when we are able to vacation there. More to come!

God Bless,


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