Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Family 2015 Christmas Letter

Family 2015 Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

We truly hope this letter finds you well and happy. As for our family, wow, what a year of BIG changes! Big changes come in small packages sometimes. Shortly after celebrating my 40th birthday, we welcomed our “surprise” baby into the world. Rina Grace was our biggest baby, weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz and 20 in long. Even though it has been over 7 months since she joined our family, amidst the crying, teething and baby-proofing, Josiah and Hailey are thrilled to have the baby sister they never stopped praying for. Even though she broke the mold by having brown hair instead of red, she is proving to be quite a feisty little thing that will help her keep up with her red-headed siblings. She is already speed-crawling and pulling herself up on things. Michael and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in June and were able to go on a weekend camping trip to the Mt. Hood National Forest with just Rina. It was lovely to explore our old stomping grounds.

Michael had a busy year full of changes and adventure. He went to White Sands, NM for Annual Training, then Hawaii for special training mission. He just got back from working on equipment in the Balkans for three weeks. In July he became a Warrant Officer. We are so proud of him! Because of his increase in rank, his job station changed bur praise the Lord, we didn't have to move even though his commute has changed. He got his T-Bucket up and running and is saving for new tires. He has a blast taking the kids for “dates” in it. He also enjoyed his first year as a novice beekeeper.

I’m still homeschooling both Hailey and Josiah. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 7 years already. Time sure flies! I feel so privileged to be able teach my kids and see the fruits of my labor start to take place. Josiah and Hailey are happy to be homeschooled and as long as we feel the Lord is calling us, we will continue to do so. Life is definitely busier now that the kids are older and I’m running them around to all their activities. Rina is just along for the ride! We’re especially grateful to have found a few families in the Pendleton area to do the unit study called “The Prairie Primer” with us this year. It is based around the “Little House on the Prairie” books. It is the second time we’ve done this study and the kids continue to enjoy it.

Josiah is 12 years old and in 6th grade and is an avid reader. He joined Boy Scouts this year and is now working towards his “Tenderfoot” rank. Boy Scouts is a good fit for him and he loves the campouts and activities. He picked up a bugle at a yard sale last year and is teaching himself how to play the role call, “Taps”, etc. He is both the “Scribe” and “Bugler” for his troop. He also participates in our local homeschool group’s sports program once a week. He thoroughly enjoyed his first year of beekeeping and sold a lot of honey this year. He can’t wait to gain more hives. He is an entrepreneur in the making!

Hailey is 8 years old and in 3rd grade. Our main focus is getting her to read on her own this year. She has shown great improvement since we started the school year. She joined gymnastics this year and is enjoying both the challenge and the freedom of movement that comes with it. She is working hard on paying attention and listening to her coach so she can get on a team. She also loves beekeeping and had a thriving hive this year. Unfortunately her hive died in the first cold snap we had, so Michael will be looking to capture some swarms next spring to replace her hive and gain two others. Hailey is thrilled to be a big sister and both kids have been a huge help to me with Rina. Rina is like having a live doll in the house.

We slowly keep making improvements on the homestead and our vintage double-wide trailer. Michael re-painted both sheds, built a lean-to to cover the wood and continues to work on insulating and wiring his shop. We are working on painting the inside of our trailer to brighten it up and we are slowing replacing the old carpet with laminate flooring. We’ve really focused on getting the noxious weeds under control on our property and have slowly started fencing. No garden this year as I was having a baby during planting time. We tried chickens but a local fox got every last one of them. Maybe next year we’ll try again.  Despite catastrophic engine problems on both our older vehicles within two weeks of each other, God got us through this year as a result of us following Dave Ramsey’s suggested emergency fund plan. He provided absolutely everything we needed for Rina’s arrival thanks to the generosity of family and friends. We continue to see His faithfulness in our lives year after year, even when things don’t go the way we planned. May you recognize His faithfulness to you and your family this coming New Year. May we all stop, ponder and count our blessings from 2015, knowing that God is for us so who can be against us?!!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Love in Christ,
Michael, Jackie, Josiah, Hailey and Rina

 Working together to check the hives.
 Michael getting sworn in as a Warrant Officer.
 Family picture taken after Rina's baby dedications ceremony. 
 Family picture taken by a WWII display on Veterans Day.
 I snapped this pic at the airport just before Michael flew out for his mission in the Balkans. So glad he's home in time for Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Plum Creek - Prairie Primer 2015

The Prairie Primer continues on this fall as we just finished up "On the Banks of Plum Creek". One student, Alli, was missing form this photo. 

 The first week of "Plum Creek", Hailey did her presentation on Monarch Butterflies and metamorphosis.
 Gracia taught us all about badgers, complete with her own hand-drawn visual aids.
 Not many can fit into this dress. It is an authentic dress from the turn of the century that someone gave me. Gracia looks gorgeous in it!
 Naomi taught us about different kinds of wells and the water table.
 Alli did her presentation on grasshoppers.
Josiah did his presentation on food chains and what happens when they get disrupted.

Hailey did her report on tumble weeds or Russian Thistle. So glad I kept my Weeds of the West book from college. Hailey is learning to type on her own, too.
Rina was a prairie baby who was all dressed up and ready to go to town.
We had a feast of elk meat and veggies, bread and butter, potatoes, cottage cheese and mashed and raw turnips with apple pie for dessert.
Hailey sewing the brim into her bonnet.
Bonnet sewing party! The girls get a little further each week. They are starting to see progress.
 The second week Hailey gave us five facts about beavers.
Josiah taught us about the common mammal orders and gave us an example of each. 

 For dinner we had ham, cheese biscuits, cornbread, stuffed pumpkin and mashed potatoes.
 We had my niece, Lily, and nephew, Jacob, join us as guests. They all made button strings and bracelets. Some of these are going on our Christmas tree this year.
Button bracelet! So pretty.

Well, we've wrapped up "Plum Creek" and we are into our second week of "Silver Lake". Can't believe we've already read three and a half of these books! Can't tell you how much I love this curriculum. We are having too much fun! See you soon on "The Shores of Silver Lake".

God Bless,

Monday, November 23, 2015

Homestead Happenings - Oct 2015

 October was a whirlwind. Rina went on her first homeschool field trip at 5 months old. We were able to go to Fort Henrietta Park in Echo, OR. We are standing in front of the first Umatilla County jail.

 My friend, Leanne, took this pic of Rina and I in front of the jail. My sister and I used to joke about being in "baby jail" when we were nursing. I now find that nursing forces me to take a moments of much needed downtime all throughout the day. I've learned to embrace it. It is so fleeting.
We were also able to visit the "Chinese House" where Chinese railroad workers once stayed. It was so interesting. Lots of local artifacts donated or dug up from privies and other historical sites were stored in this museum.
We had the great privilege of dedicating Rina back to the Lord. What a blessing to have such a supportive family and church to help Rina on her spiritual journey. Pastor Paul Parker presided.
Stacie sang "That's your Mother's Prayer" to Rina for me, since I knew I would be too emotional to get through the song. She did a great job!
Decon Tom Burton prayed for us.
Playing with Papa when we got home.
Josiah and Hailey
First family photo (finally!), Rina 5 mos, Josiah 12, Hailey 8
Rina is blessed with supportive family and friends who are committed to help her on her spiritual journey as she grows.
Awww, the life of a homeschooled kid when Daddy has the day off.
Josiah is officially a Boy Scout now and loving it. He's already learning so much. I think we found his niche!
Josiah took this picture of Rina sleeping, I thought it was rather good. Love the natural lighting in this photo. Those sweet eyelashes stand out beautifully.
Josiah is old enough to pack Rina around in the front pack! She loves it whenever she gets to hang with her big bro .

We continued our tradition of trick or treating the elderly at a local assisted living center. We remembered this couple and their cute little dog that can do tricks from last year. Our friend, Mindy, made this "Tangled" costume for her daughter and then passed it on to Hailey. She loved wearing it!
Friends from church and our homeschool co-op joined us at home for the elderly. We all love trick or treating for a purpose, to bring joy to the residents. They just light up around these kids and of course seeing the babies always makes their day.
Of course we had to stop by Grandma Kricket's house to trick or treat her. Mom got a kick out of Rina's onesie which reads, "I'm so cute it's scary".

Whew, if feels good to be making some headway on all our projects. We finally got rid of the nasty yellow carpet in the living room. Yes, I'm doing the happy dance! We still have to get rid of it in the homeschool room and the bedrooms, but at least the living area is done and not a moment too soon as Rina is starting to roll and scoot all over the place. I've been learning how to spray paint furniture and make a distressed look, and I've been having fun brightening up the place with some pops of color. If I can make a place look cute and homey to me, then I can live and be content anywhere.  Yep, even in a 1975 double wide trailer. I'm hoping to do a post soon showing you all the legal fun I've been having with spray paint.

God Bless,

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sausage and Rice Stuffed Pumpkin Recipe

 A friend of mine, Jenny. had posted a picture of this recipe on FB and it looked and sounded so good, I asked for the recipe. The ingredients looked a little strange, so I didn't get brave enough to try it for awhile. Well here we are a year later and I finally tried and loved it. I had some odd shaped pumpkins I didn't know what to do with and it worked.  This is a fun potluck dish!

Sausage and Rice Stuffed Pumpkin Recipe:

4-6 lb sugar pie pumpkin (insides scraped, with tops sliced off)
1 lb bulk sausage
4 cups cooked rice (I used a mixture of jasmine and wild rice)
1 medium onion, diced
1 apple - peeled, cored and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
3 Tbl maple syrup
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

 1. Bake seeded and scraped pumpkin in oven with lid on for 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Put a little bit of water in the bottom of the dish when cooking.

2. While pumpkin is cooking, saute sausage, garlic and onion. Remove from heat.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir rice, apples, cheese, spices and maple syrup. Add the sausage mixture to the bowl and mix.

4. Add beaten egg to the rice and sausage mixture and stir until well coated.

5. Remove Pumpkin from oven and turn down to 350 degrees.

6. Stuff pumpkin(s) with the rice mixture and cook with the pumpkin lids on or off. for 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until egg is cooked. (Make sure there is a little water in the bottom of the casserole dish.).

Serve with a spoon that has a fairly sharp edge so you can scrap some pumpkin off the sides with every scoop.

It will stay hot for quite awhile with the lid on, making it ideal for potlucks.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Prairie Primer 2015 "Little House on the Prairie"

 The Prairie Primer co-op goes native for "Little House on the Prairie".
Amanda took this cute pic of Rina in a too big straw hat. I could get lost in my baby's eyes.
Josiah demonstrated on Gracia how to properly take care of a sprained ankle using the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate).
 Hailey taught us about the many uses the Plains Indians had for the buffalo.
The girls created tepees out of construction paper and decorated them.

Dinner consisted of pancakes, bacon, 1 week old aged cheese (that we made the week before), Stewed rabbit and dumplings and cornbread with molasses. Everything tasted great.

Washing clothes the old fashioned way.

Josiah is making sure no varmints come near the gals as they do their washing.
Can't imagine doing this with all my clothes. No wonder it took the pioneers all day.

Josiah even got in on the washboard action.

The tepee village the girls made. So cute! Love the little people that Gracia made. There are even so Lego people in among the village as well.
The next week, Hailey did her report on Indian dress. She drew a bunch of her own pictures to show us. — at Mission Road Homestead.
Josiah did his presentation on traditional Native American weapons.
First time making Indian fry bread.
Michael was home and helped all us women folk properly cut out our sunbonnets. Couldn't have done it without him as none of us women know how to sew!
 Learning to sew a sunbonnet by hand. Trust me, it isn't as easy as it looks or sounds!
The next week, Hailey taught us some traditional Native American games. Hailey is teaching everyone how to play Kainsish which is a Native American game. It is a game of chance that helps with counting. You toss the sticks into the air and depending on how they land, will determine if you get any points or not.

We also played a dart and hoop game that the Native Americans used to hone their throwing skills. You get more points for getting it through the smallest hoop. This was harder than it looked, too!
Learning about cougars.
Josiah taught us about trapping. He showed us different traps for different types of animals. He tanned the squirrel skin all by himself.
Delicious dinner of watermelon, blackberry cobbler, sweet potatoes and stewed prairie chicken with dumpling and gravy.
Just learning how to thread the needle, make the knot and then tie off was quite a challenge to the girls. They will have a lot more practice.
Josiah bought his own Native American drum so he could learn a song for his drumming presentation.
Rina with the moccasins my friend, Sarah, gave her. They stay on really well!
Hailey did her presentation on Madam Dorion who was the second woman to make the overland trip from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. After her husband was killed by Indians on a trapping expedition near Boise, ID, she escaped with her two young sons and survived the winter in the Blue Mountains. She is a little known, but true hero of the West.
We learned some Indian sign language. The kids each picked out a name and then learned to sign it, then everyone guessed what their name was. It was really fun. Josiah came up with the best though. He made the sign for star and then for buck. "Starbucks"! We all died laughing when we finally figured it out.
We had a typical prairie Christmas dinner with turkey and cornbread stuffy, bean porridge and sweet potatoes.
Sitting down to our prairie feast. Love all the smiles!
We got the brims mostly done on our sunbonnet project. The kids are getting better at sewing by hand. They will keep working on their bonnets as we move into reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek". We are determined to finish them even if it takes us all year! 

Hope you've enjoyed our "Little House on the Prairie" journey. It sure has been a fun ride!

We'll see you "On the Banks of Plum Creek" next month.

God Bless, 


Related Posts with Thumbnails