Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Meanderings

I think "Junuary" is finally over and summer has begun. Everything is a month behind. I'm trying so hard to be patient with my garden. I've had to replant cukes and beans. Because not all my potatoes have come up, I decided to plant kale and perpetual spinach (leafy green chard) where the other potatoes were supposed to come up. We're managing to sneak in some family fun in the evenings. We got to fishing at our local lake one Sunday. The fish were biting like crazy and we had an awesome fish fry that night with friends. 

Here is the handmade adorable apron I bought for $6 while on vacation. I love it. Red, white and blue just in time for the 4th!

Hailey up at the lake. That kids knows how to make dirt look good, LOL!

Our elderly neighbor is teaching Josiah how to braid rugs with 4 strands of wool. He goes over nearly everyday while she teaches him how to do it perfectly. Every time he comes home, the rug looks better and better. What an awesome skill to learn and he's having fun learning. Sheila is a great teacher. She taught me how to quilt and she's a perfectionist, so you learn to do it right! 

Last Friday, Michael wanted to go camping, but we didn't have time to actually go anywhere, so he set up our tents in the backyard and built a fire on an old stump. We had fun roasting marshmallows around the campfire. Michael even made me get out the fiddle and play a few scratchy tunes. Kids had an absolute ball. I made it till 1:30AM before I went into the house and crawled into my bed ;)

Saturday morning Josiah was up bright and early. He set up a toy/book sale and made signs to put up. He priced everything himself. At the last minute, I baked some chocolate chip cookies for him. Good thing I did because he didn't sell very many toys or books, but every last cookie was gone by the end of the day. Business was slow, so he went door to door and invited all the neighbors to his sale. He lasted till noon. He had a few cookies left and so he sold every last one of them around the neighborhood, too. He even sold one to the mail man! He ended up making $18. Not too shabby! He definitely has an entrepreneurial bent. Gonna encourage that :)

Sunday afternoon we headed to Hermiston where my brother was getting his fire certification.  We met my dad there, too, and he gave us a ride from their hotel to the fire station in the '69 Chevelle. Yep, he peeled some rubber!

Jerry is in the light colored shirt to the right. He is a volunteer firefighter in a small community. The chief who helped train him couldn't say enough good things about him. Jerry and his friend came from the farthest distance, made every single training and were the first and the last to leave. We are very proud of him and also his wife, Sonya, for supporting his dream.

Hailey just loves her cousin, Noah, Jerry and Sonya's son. He's a cutie alright! 

My sister convinced me to take a summer break from homeschooling. I usually homeschool all year round, but I can see her point about both of us needing a break. I'm going to keep him reading everyday, and really focus on character instead of academics. I'm excited and a huge load is now off me, Praise God! The kids are having fun in Aikido twice a week and also are doing a bible study at the park on Wednesdays. I think that is plenty. Between chores, helping out with the garden and just good old fashioned playing, I have no doubt the kids will keep plenty occupied. 

Hope you are all enjoying the summer. We've now had 4 days without rain. It has been wonderful! I'm thinking summer might actually be here. I've got a yummy German Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe to share in my next post...

God Bless,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Parents Vow Renewal/25th Wedding Anniversary Party

This is my dad and step-mom, Diana. They were married when I was 11 years old. Can't believe that was 25 years ago! My sister, brother and his wife, Sonya, and I all worked together to coordinate their 25th Wedding Anniversary party last weekend. Thanks to the help of lots of friends and family, we were able to put on a really beautiful vow renewal ceremony as well as a nice reception afterwards. We wanted to do something special for them, but none of us kids have a lot of money right now. Well, let me tell you, God worked every detail out and none of us kids broke our budget. He is so good! 

It was probably the least stressful party I've ever helped put together. the only freak out moment I had was when I bought these flowers and started putting a bouquet together (something I've never done before), the stems and leaves were all moldy. Diana talked me down and helped me strip the leaves and it made a beautiful bouquet for her to hold for the vow renewal ceremony. 

A good family friend, Jeff, did the ceremony. He really played up the school teacher meets cowboy thing. So cute! He had us laughing and  crying. Very meaningful ceremony! One really cool touch, was that we played their old wedding video silently in the background while the guests were waiting for the ceremony to start and then afterwards during the reception. It was fun to see how much everyone had changed :)

The ceremony was wrapped up with some cowboy poetry written and performed by one of their friends, Dwayne. He wrote a poem especially for them. He had us all laughing and nodding. I've got to get a copy of it! 

My nephew, Noah, also provided some comic relief during the ceremony as he snored very loudly through the entire thing. I feel sorry for his wife someday, LOL! What a cutie pie.

My SIL, Sonya (in the above picture), made this beautiful wedding cake. It is only her second cake! It was awesome! Three different flavors (of course German chocolate in the middle for Dad) and edible roses with fresh raspberries and mint leaves on top. My favorite part was the round cake dividers with various photos and their wedding announcement on them. Sonya also used the cake topper from their wedding 25 years ago. Watch out, Sonya! We now know what you're capable of , LOL! You might be getting a lot busier.
My dad is joking about the last time he cut the cake and look what happened to his finger, ha ha ha. He lost his finger on an aluminum saw long before he met Diana ;)

Delicious, simple Cucumber punch. Recipe: 2 liters of lemon lime soda to 1 can frozen limeade and a sliced up cucumber. Everyone seems to like this recipe, even people who hate cucumbers! Very elegant looking.

Of course we made them do the traditional wedding toast. What a fun day we all had. Lots of family and friends brought beautiful finger foods so nobody went away hungry. What a blessing to have so many people helping. They have touched a lot of lives over the years and it was neat to see so many people come out to support them. Happy Anniversary, Dad and Diana! Here's to many more! 

Love you guys so much, 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I thought I'd pull out some pictures out of the archives of the Dads in my life. I'm so very blessed to have so many! This first picture is of Dad and I riding on Glavey Ranch with Mount Hood in the background. The best thing about my dad is that he has always made me feel so secure. I can't ever remember I time when I didn't feel loved by him. He is so proud (sometimes embarrassingly so) of his children and grandchildren. He taught me work ethic and that I could do anything if I worked hard enough at it. Love you, Dad! This year, we get to celebrate not only Father's Day, but his 25th Wedding Anniversary to my stepmom, Diana. They are going to renew their vows today. I'm so excited for them!
This is one of my favorite pictures of my stepdad, Larry, holding Hailey while we were camping at the desert when she was only a year old. Even though he came into my life when I was only 16, we've really gotten to know each other as I lived with them for a couple years while I was going to college, plus we've vacationed a lot together. He is an amazing man, with an amazing testimony! He struggled with drugs and alcohol addiction for years, and he is now a nationally renown drug and alcohol counselor. They always say that the best counselors were former addicts and I believe it is true. Larry not only treats my mom like a queen, but he extraordinarily loves my twin sister and I and all our children. Blood isn't everything. It is about relationship! 

This is my husband's father, whom I never had a chance to meet, because he died when Michael was 10 years old. However, everyone I talk to says how wonderful he was and how much he would have enjoyed teasing me. So wish I could have met this hero of the Korean War. I just wanted to pay tribute to him as well today.
This is Michael's step-dad and my current FIL, Ernie. Ernie is one of the hardest working men I know. He has been very sweet to our children as well. He loves to tease me with his dry sense of humor. We always have fun camping together. 

Of course, I couldn't forget this dad in my life, the wonderful father to my children. I love this picture of he and Josiah just before he deployed to Iraq in 2004. Those desert uniforms look funny now. The kids adore their dad and miss him so much when he is gone for work or the Guards. He loves them, too, and wants the best for them. I love seeing him training them up to love the Lord. It is precious!

Once again, thanks to all the dads in my life who have loved me unconditionally. I praise God for each of you and hope I get to say Happy Father's Day for many years to come.

God Bless,

Friday, June 17, 2011

16th Anniversary - A Tribute to My Husband

This picture was taken at the Agate Mines overlooking the Alvord Desert Floor a few years ago.  We love to vacation there and ride dirt bikes.
I thank God for giving you to me. He knew I would need a rock like you to help keep me grounded. He knew I would need your common sense when my brain gets so cluttered that I can't think straight. You are patient when I'm not. You help me see things in the kids that I don't necessarily pick up because I'm with them all the time. You're frugality keeps my loose spending in check. Even though we are so different in temperament, personality and needs, we really compliment each other in the important things. Thank you for supporting me 100% with homeschooling the kids. You're the most handsome Principle ever!

I'm so grateful for your sense of adventure. I LOVE that you like to window shop and go to festivals and events as a family. I also appreciate all the things we like to do together, like fishing, riding dirt bikes, camping and sharing your motorcycle (someday we'll get your Springer). I'm so grateful that you love history as much as I do and are willing to go to any and every museum we can find.

Most of all, my love, I'm thankful that your relationship with the Lord has taken off in the last 6 months. It is exciting to see you claiming it for your own and truly becoming the spiritual leader of our home. I love watching you teach our kids the things of God. I love that WE can discuss the Word of God together in a whole new way. There is nothing sexier than a man reading his bible!

Even though the last couple of years have been the hardest of our marriage as we've learned to accept our differences and disappointments with each other, I feel stronger as a couple. I feel like we have been through the "Refiner's fire" and have come out the other side with more faith than ever, confident we will finish the race as we stand firm on the promises of God. I appreciate every year God gives us together. Happy 16th Anniversary to my husband, friend, lover and life partner. Love you more than you'll ever know!  

Your Loving, Blessed Wife,

Sweet Pea

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garden Fervor

Once again, the weather has not been very cooperative, regarding gardening so far this year. We finally got everything planted by the 1st weekend of June. Whew! It was do or die. It feels like April right now, can't believe it is going to be summer this month! 

This is only our second garden, but after growing a successful organic, mostly heirloom garden last year, we definitely had different ideas about how we wanted to do it this year. Between rain storms, we would frantically try to get out and get the garden ready, which was a big job because we decided to increase the size by a third as well as make permanent raised beds with the idea of lasagna gardening in mind. We also want to try some square foot gardening techniques to get the most out of our beds. This year we were able to sew all heirloom varieties or open-pollination seeds.

We were blessed to have been lent a really nice walk-behind tiller to use for free. We are hoping this will be the last time we need to till since we are going to be doing lasagna gardening from now on. While we will be doing a lot of weeding this year, in the fall, we plan on layering our beds with cardboard, then composted horse manure mixed with straw and our kitchen compost. Then we'll layer the beds with leaves from the trees and grass clippings. My sister (she learned this method from her friend Catherine) has been doing this for several years with wonderful results. No tilling and very little weeding are required with this method. As soon as we can afford it, we want to put in a drip irrigation system with a timer on it.

We've have one more bed to build and then we're done. The unfinished bed is the children's garden space. They were thrilled to have a spot of ground all their own to work with.  They can do anything they want with it. We used untreated cheap wood, which I know will eventually rot, but that is OK because the beds ought to be well established by that time. Each bed is 30 feet long and two feet wide. We have 11 beds total with a foot and half space between them.

This is half of the unfinished bed we are turning into a strawberry bed. A friend gave me a variety of ever-bearing strawberries to transplant. Some have made it, some haven't. We figure we'll pull the varieties we don't like and leave the ones we do. 

I have one bed for salad stuff, salad bowl lettuce, spinach (shown here), radishes, turnips and kohl rabi. I scatter-seeded this bed. I made the BIG mistake of allowing pumpkin seeds in my compost pile. I have hundreds of pumpkin plants coming up throughout my beds. Yikes! I'll never do that again. As you can see, things are just started to germinate.

We started our own pepper plants in the house this spring. The looked big in the house, but tiny when we planted them in the garden. Same with the tomatoes. Praying we'll get some despite the late planting. 

To help cut down on the weeding, we put landscape mat in between the beds. I'm hoping this will really help. We have a huge field-bindweed problem that can only be cured with Round-up, since their root system is 4 to 6 feet underground. Pulling doesn't work. As much as I hate to because I want to stay all organic, I'm going to have a squirt bottle of Round-up handy and squirt it directly onto the field bindweed when it comes up. I don't know what else to do. . I gotta get a handle on it!

We babied the tomatoes the first week by covering them up at night. We've only lost 4 out of the 18 plants, so far. I'm seeing some new growth on them, so that is a good sign. Thought we were going to lose them all for awhile there. They looked pretty unhappy when we first planted them.

I only planted one yellow squash and one zucchini start. The other end of this bed will all be peas. I'm planting 3 different varieties and staggering them 3 weeks apart for continual harvest throughout the summer. We will add a partial trellis to this bed. 

Michael used wire stock panels to trellis our pickling cukes and pole beans. This is the pickling cucumber row. If they all come up, I'm going to have 60 plants growing on either side of the trellis. Michael still needs to put up the green bean trellis. No hurry there though, because they still haven't germinated.

Michael made this little garden/compost stand for me. We got the sink from a yard sale last year. I love having two compartments to my compost pile so that I can simple transfer it from one side to the other when I'm turning it. He made it out of scrap boards and free pallets. 

Two of the three trees we planted last year didn't make it, so we bought 2 more. We now have two peach trees and an apple tree. It'll be years before they produce fruit, but we are willing to wait.

Our lilacs are finally in full bloom! They are a month later than normal. Love my lilac trees!

Here is a picture of my herb bed. You can't see it, but there are a lot of little herb plants growing in here. I'm still waiting for some to germinate. The onions you see on the end are called "Egyptian Onions". They are a perennial. I'm going to let them grow and multiply this year and see what they are like next year. I love the idea of going out in the middle of the winter to pick fresh onions out of the ground!

This is my front flower bed. The more crowded the better in my opinion. Less weeding! My tulips and phlox are in their final stages.

I always have a few of my perennials not make it threw the winter, which leaves me a little room to try some different flowers. I found these purple dalpheniams (sp?) and I thought they were gorgeous. Hope they make it!
I love this perennial geranium. The orange color is so brilliant. I just wish the blooms would last longer. I also planted some daisies and snap dragons and black-eyed Susan and zinnias for some late summer color.

As soon as my garden really takes off, I'll post some pics on it. Sorry it wasn't more exciting :o( Trusting that despite the late start, God will bless us with an abundant harvest of peas, squash, zucchini, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peppers, carrots, lettuce, radishes, spinach, turnips, kohl rabi, onions, garlic, strawberries and herbs :o)

God Bless,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ford Slope Mine Hike

I think this was my favorite part of our Memorial Day Weekend mini-vacation. Michael doesn't get a lot of time off, so we have to take our vacations on long weekends. This is a good thing because they end up being a lot less expensive that way. On Sunday we packed a lunch and headed up to the trails surrounding the abandoned Ford Slope Coal Mine for another awesome homeschooling experience. I've always had a fascination with the subject of coal mining. I so admire those men who would do that kind of work. What a hard life coal mining was. In this picture, Josiah and Hailey are showing off a couple of pieces of coal they found along the trail.Hailey, Megyn, Josiah and Everest being silly in a coal car.

Josiah, ever the budding geologist, couldn't get enough of seeing the outcrops of coal. Of course, being the pyro he naturally is, he wants to see if it will burn :o/

Here is the sealed off mouth of the coal mine. They had dug 3500 feet, 200 feet below sea level by the time the mine was closed in the 30s. It opened right at the turn of the last century.

Here are pictures of the Ford Slope Mine. It was hard to believe there had a been a whole town in the forest where we were standing. It reminded me a lot of the Valsetz story. They had a band, Sunday school, baseball team, etc.

Ventilation pipe coming out of the mine. Would love to see where the end of this pipe is.

We did some geocaching along the way. 

These are the hoist footings where 5 cars of coal would be pulled up at one time out of the mine.

 The date here, reads "1920". This was part of a collapsed entrance into another part of the mine.  

You can see the rails sticking out all covered with moss.

 Same collapsed entrance. The kids are sitting in front of the "1920".

Josiah and his coal fascination. We were all surprised at how light coal is. Every hiker that went by us had to see his coal. That kid ;)

Here is what is left of the meadow where they played baseball. They are now working at restoring the meadow. We found a geocache here. 

So much history in this trip! On the way home, we stopped at an antique mall where I scored a red, white and blue vintage-looking apron for $6. I'll have to post a picture of it later.

So now we are back home and working hard to get our garden planted. We're doing raised beds this year and making the garden a lot bigger. Now that we have a year of experience under our belts, we're making some changes. Will do a garden post soon.



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