Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Family Christmas Letter

2013 Family Christmas Newsletter

Hello, all! As I write this, I'm looking out our 1976 vintage-retro double-wide's window to the most glorious view of snow-covered rolling hills, big whitetail bucks and Canadian geese grazing by the river. Our family's homesteading dream finally came true this year. We are back in the country and loving it! We now live on a 3.32 acre parcel of land. Our goal is to build the shop of Michael's dreams and eventually replace this trailer with a stick-built house that Michael wants to build himself. We also want to raise more of our food via a larger garden, chickens, butcher animals, etc, and provide ways for the kids to flex their entrepreneurial muscles.

How did we get to our new place? 18 mos ago, Michael was hired as a tank mechanic at an Army Depot and hour and half away from where we were living. It took the National Guard awhile to get their shop built and then to get us our orders, but it all finally came together in the fall of this year. God's timing is always best! He is very happy to have a shorter commute that does not involve driving over a treacherous mountain pass and he seems to like working at the Depot.

While moving to our new town meant we would be leaving deeply established friendships and our homeschool support group, we knew God was calling us to do His will here. I'm not going to lie, there have been a lot of tears shed, but it is always a comfort knowing you are in God's will even if it is uncomfortable, painful or even lonely. The kids and I are quickly getting involved in the homeschool support group here in Pendleton and are meeting some wonderful families. We are still in the process of looking for a home church and are sincerely praying for the Lord's guidance in this area. The kids have joined the AWANA group here, and are loving it. We're praying for some good friendships to develop with other kids in the area. We are now in our 5th year of homeschooling and going strong.

It has been wonderful being so close to my mom and Larry Pop. We've never lived near family before but are now enjoying the benefits of helping each other out. It is nice getting more breaks and just having family there to celebrate the milestones of life. We are enjoying having more company as well, now that we are on this side of the mountain. We are now an hour closer to the rest of our family as well.

We look forward to what this new year holds as we get our “homesteading legs” under us. I'm sure we'll make many mistakes, but we will learn from them and continue on. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014!

God Bless,
Michael, Jackie, Josiah (10) and Hailey (6)
 Our 2013 Fall Family Photo
 Josiah (10) and Champ's 4th Grade School Picture
Hailey's 1st Grade School Picture
Josiah read somewhere that dogs like to work, so he tried to turn Champ into a mushing dog when we got our tree. He'll have to work on a harness for him next year. Champ was lovin' it!

The kids did a great job helping me decorate our blue, white and silver snowflake tree.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"He Led Them By a Straight Way..." - Our Little Homestead

God gave me this verse 18 months ago the day we decided to move. It is a little faded and worse for wear, but it made it through the move. Even though it took us longer than I thought for this verse to be fulfilled - God DID lead us by a straight way. All the hard work of moving has been worth it as we are beginning to settle into our little 3.32 acre homestead and 1970s vintage-retro double-wide. Praising God the truck decided to break down AFTER our move instead of during. Michael has since fixed it, despite the super cold weather and no shop/garage to work in yet. A huge thank you to all the people who helped us in one way or another during our transition time. We are missing everyone in our old town, but are truly enjoying being nearer to my mom and step-dad and looking forward to reconnecting with the old friends we have in this town.
 This is from the far corner of our property which goes all the way to the road. Josiah has been having a blast 4-wheeling around the property. The stakes marks out where Michael is going to have the 30x40 shop of his dreams built.

Lower pasture. Perfect for a few meat animals.
From the beginning of our driveway looking up the gently sloping hill. The Oregon Trail used to run on the shelf right behind our property. For a history buff, that is a definite plus!
For the first time, I decided to let the kids do most of the decorating. One thing about living in an old trailer is that it is very kid-friendly. I think the carpet says it all.
We decided not to replace the carpets, but had it professionally cleaned instead because there isn't any reason to put any money into this old trailer. It is in pretty good shape and should last us until we can build a house. We plan on putting a wood stove back in where the old hearth is. 
We got our Jesse/Waiting Trees up. The kitchen isn't too bad in size, just a lot less storage and counter space than I had in my old house. Still trying to squeeze it all in.
 Love the old entertainment center we turned into a bookshelf and the hanging light I found for the homeschool room this weekend. It is so awesome having a separate room for homeschooling! I put on kid in here and one kid at the dining room table. I'm getting a lot more exercise, but it is worth it to have them not distracting each other.
So much for homeschooling on this day! Champ loves to chase snowballs. Like many of you, we've been getting very cold weather and some snow. We're learning the quirks of the place in extreme cold weather.
As my step-mom says, the best thing to fill your house with is "Love". My bible study ladies gave me this as a parting gift. They are also giving me "Faith, Hope and Courage" signs, all the letters were photographed in nature by my friend's SIL. I will treasure these signs always. Miss my bible study gals so much!
Parting Shot: The best way to study your McGuffy Reader. Another reason we love homeschooling - you can take your dog to school and not get in trouble.

We are settling in nicely and have even connected with the homeschool group here in Pendleton this week. The kids had a great time at their new AWANA club and we've been doing a bible study with some friends. We're are praying about the church we will attend and will begin our search this week. It is great to have a schedule again get back to a new kind of normal. 

I look forward to catching up on all your blogs for those who've left comments for me. Have a wonderful week!

God Bless,

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Fall Family Photos/On the Move/Blogging Break

My friend, Dorene (a fellow "homie"), and I agreed to take each other's family pics and then we would do the edits on them ourselves. It was really fun! Dorene did a great job and I hope she is just as happy with the pics I took of her family. I thought I'd share her pics with you here. She found the most fabulous location on a local ranch that made for an ideal setting for pictures. 
We even got Champ in one of the pictures.

 The kids loved throwing rocks in the creek. It was hard to keep them clean for the pics, LOL.
 Love this one.
 Dorene found that the secret to getting husbands who hate their picture taken is to get them kissing their wives. Then they become really smiley for the rest of the pics! I think she's on to something here.
 Josiah is starting to move out of the the little boy stage as he fast approaches the teenage years. Time, please slow down!
See, I told you the kissing worked! 
 This is my absolute favorite pic. The chairs and the quilt were my Grandpa's who recently passed away. Dorene had Josiah wear Michael's hat and me hold Michael's dog tags in my hand as I kissed him. The perfect patriotic pic, I think.
 I took these school pics of the kids. Josiah wanted Champ in the pic, too, since Champ has to endure Josiah homeschooling until recess when they can play together. Josiah is 10 years old this year and in 4th Grade.
 I took these pics by the beautiful peach tree in our yard. Hailey is 6 years old and in 1st Grade this year.
Of course I had to take one pic of them together - best buds. They have their moments, but they sure do love each other. We are having a good school year so far and have really got a lot accomplished. We will be taking a little break while we move. Last night was our last night of being in this house. The kids are starting to realize they are leaving the only home they've ever known and are getting a little sad. However, they are looking forward to living out our homestead dream, so they have a lot to look forward to.

I will be taking a blogging break until we are set up in our new place. Thanks to all of you for your prayers. I do appreciate them! God has protected us so far as it is not snowing this weekend on the pass, making our travel much easier.

Hope you all have a wonderful Veterans Day and make honoring our veterans a priority. They deserve it!

God Bless,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

October - Fall, Pumpkins, Field Trips and More - A Catch Up Post

 Is it really November? I thought I would do a quick catch up post. The above pic is of Hailey and Josiah trying to drum up business in our driveway as they sold decorative pumpkins. We don't live on a very busy road, so this requires a lot of patience and timing. They managed to sell most of them, though. This neighborhood is going to be really quite in a week when the two redheads are gone.
 We got to go to a homeschool event called "Pumpkin Day". It was so much fun. There were lots of different stations all centered around using pumpkins to teach different math, science and art concepts. I could lose Josiah in a pumpkin patch I think. The kid's hair is pretty darn close to the same color as those pumpkins.
I had one last fall Flamenco dance class. I'm really going to miss this! I finally got a fun skirt and shawl and now I have to move. I'm really hoping I can find someone who can keep teaching me in our new town.  I love any kind of folk dancing!
Hailey and Josiah have been having a great time playing in the leaves, although this week, they've been playing in the snow. It was all fun and games until I realized how difficult it was going to be to get the leaves out of Hailey's hair. We managed to get it all our by combing her hair with a ton of conditioner in it.

 The kids were taking turns burying each other in the leaves and breathing through this pipe so they could be completely covered. Crazy kids! The stuff they come up with just amazes me.
 We had a fun visit with Michael's oldest brother, David, who came to pick up a snowmobile from us. It was fun getting him hooked on Duck Dynasty and just visiting and catching up. It was neat for the kids to get to know their crazy Uncle David better. Thanks so much for the visit, David!
Another visitor came to town (this one was a blast from the past). A Revolutionary War veteran stopped in to see our group of homeschoolers and tell them all about his role before, during and after the Revolutionary War. He brought a lot of equipment, Continental Script, etc for the kids to look at. He did a great job! The kids were fascinated as were the adults. I think stuff like this is the best way to learn history.  
Last week we got to go to two harvest parties. The first was at our friends, the Weigand's house. The kids had a great time carving their pumpkins and even dressed up for it. It started storming so our plan to roast brats and have s'mores was thwarted, but we still had a wonderful feast and enjoyed Cora's amazing meat pies. 
 On Halloween, the kids wanted to dress up, so we trick or treated our next door neighbor with the Weigand kids. Josiah made Champ into their "candy carrier". Hailey was a ballerina and chose to wear the very sophisticated striped, snowmen tights to go with it, complete with rain boots. LOL, I told her she looked like a homeschooler. She promptly says, "That's because I am!" Like me, my kids have no problem going against society's norms, and I'm glad for it.
 After we trick or treated our neighbor, we headed to our friends', the Carrolls, adult foster home and trick or treated each of the residents. This blessed them so much to have the kids there and see them all cute and dressed up. I'm not into celebrating Halloween, but I think this is a great way to redeem the season.
 You can tell how thrilled the residents were to see the kids.
 This gal is very unresponsive most of the time, but she brightened up and started moving. She new exactly what was going on, and told my friend as she was going to bed that having the kids there was the best part of her day.
 After stopping by the Carrolls, we went to our first "Trunk or Treat" at a local church, again with our friends, the Weigands.
 Each trunk had a bible scene in it. The kids really enjoyed guessing the scenes.
I thought the trunks were really creative. Again, it was a great way to redeem the season. The kids really love to dress up and they enjoyed having fun with their friends in positive environments. Hailey even won a pan of German Chocolate brownies in the cake walk.

We are speeding toward our moving date (this weekend). So far I haven't had a melt down, but we're only halfway through the week, LOL. Please pray for us to have a safe and happy move. It has already been snowing earlier this week and we have to make several trips over the mountain pass. It is very complicated how we are moving everything (all our stuff is going to be split between a moving truck, storage sheds, another friend property, and my mom's house) until we can actually close on our new place and get moved in. So please pray that Michael and I can stay on the same page and that conflict will be minimal. Pray that our communication will be good and that we will both keep the stress level to a down AND that we will have clear roads.

Thanks in advance!

God Bless,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sister Time at Cannon Beach

My sis and I were so blessed to be able to go to the women's retreat at Cannon Beach with her church. We had a wonderful time getting to know other women in her church as well as getting in some quality sister time. Being from Eastern Oregon, we don't have a lot of shopping options so it was fun to do some shopping on the way up.  
My sis and I took pics of each other at Rooster Rock, right after I made her play a round of tether ball with me. I'm the fun twin that gets her out of her comfort zone. She says I'm good for her ;o) Love these scarves, our Aunt Joy made for us. They are so fun!

Stacie took a pic of me, too. I told her it was a good thing she took the pic before the retreat because oh my word, did they feed us WELL.

We went to lunch with our "roomie", Karen, at "Bigfoot Restaurant" in Seaside. The most delicious prime rib I've ever had. It was really fun getting to know her.
 The weather was absolutely perfect. Not even any wind on the beach on Saturday. It just added to the blessing of the spiritual renewal we received that weekend.
 This is probably the most interesting lighthouse I've ever seen. It is called Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. It is way out there, too. I really zoomed in to get this pic and then did some fun editing with it.
Our friend, Karen, took this pic of Stacie and I by Haystack Rock. Absolutely love the clouds in the sky that day. Breathtaking!

 I had a chance to take some sunset pics. I was trying to get the sun right above the whale's spout, just for fun.
This was my favorite pic of the weekend. I didn't even have to do any editing to it. 

The next day was windier when we walked towards Haystack Rock. You can kind of see the sand blowing around Stacie. The weather was still wonderful even though it was breezy on the beach.

Love trying to capture the wave, just as it breaks. Like many, I find the ocean waves fascinatingly beautiful and powerful, yet it is something to fear and respect. It is how I view God. I was so encouraged in my walk. God knew I would need that time of renewal before I started the next phase of my life. I needed to be encouraged in flexing my "faith muscles" in preparation for our upcoming move. 

Two days after I got back from the retreat, we accepted a good offer on our house and put a bid on a small homestead over the mountain. By a miracle we got it for a really good price and we look forward to moving in less than two weeks. We will live with my mom for about a month as we close on both houses. So thankful for a place to live inbetween houses. It has certainly been a "nail biter" and continues to be so, but I know God is going to take care of us. In the meantime these "faith muscles" are getting bigger.

God Bless, 


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