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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope that everyone had a good Christmas. We have one more party to go on Thursday, and then we have made our rounds. We have enjoyed seeing family and friends as we have had opportunities to get away for a bit.

As you can see underneath our tree, we were able to do a little more shopping. Ethan's mom was going to be around to watch the kids on Monday, but since the weather was bad we took them with us and were sneaky with picking up the gifts. We can still do that with them being younger. So Monday night, after driving home in a snow storm, we finished our Christmas shopping.

There were two things that I just didn't get done this Christmas that I was hoping to. (There was a lot I didn't do that doesn't bother me - all the decorations up and stuff like that.) One was to take a cookie plate to our neighbors. It would have been a good way to get to meet them, but a fresh loaf of homemade bread will probably do just as well. (I'm going to wait until I get real bread pans though - coming soon. Meat loaf pans just don't bake pretty loaves.)

The other was finishing Isaac's stocking. I know he will never care, but I had really wanted to finish it by Christmas. I at least got his name on though, and I will finish it up soon. (If you click on the picture you can see a close up of our stockings. I made Ethan and mine when we first were married and have been adding the shepherd stockings as needed.)

So now Christmas is over. It has been quite a different Christmas for our family (and even more so for our pastor), but it has been a good Christmas. I have had the opportunity to reflect even more on why we celebrate since the "how" we celebrate was changed a bit this year. It was a good change too - less focus on stuff and more on others. It is my prayer that the "how" of this Christmas will continue for us throughout the year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Under Our Tree

As I watch the kids' paper chain count down, now to 3 days until Christmas, I keep glancing under our tree.

It is pretty bare. Usually by this time it is overflowing with presents. Not this year. There are 2 presents the kids made for us at their activity day, 1 board game for the family, and 2 stocking stuffers for each of them - both totaling less than 5 dollars.

It's not that we aren't going to get gifts this year. We just haven't gotten gifts this year. (Ethan and I are actually not doing more than a few stocking stuffers for the two of us. We were going to get a chain saw for us, but someone from church just lent us his for the winter while he recovers from a surgery.)

In the fall, we weren't really thinking of Christmas gifts. Plus we were building and moving. In early November we were waiting for Isaac to come. The end of November held Thanksgiving and Hannah's birthday, along with our cows arriving.

Then December hit, along with our Pastor's strokes.

Ethan has spent much of the last two weeks at the hospital. When he isn't there, he is at the office preparing church services or holding youth group. When he is home, it is just long enough to do the chores and catch some sleep.

I mention all of this, that we don't have presents bought and Ethan hasn't been around this Christmas season, to say that this has actually been the most meaningful Christmas for me in a long time, maybe ever.

I obviously haven't gotten caught up in the materialism of the season, but more importantly, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the season.

Jesus came as a baby to our Earth to live, love, and eventually die on a cross to take the punishment for our sins - rising to new life to offer new life to us. What he gave wasn't wrapped up in pretty paper with a shiny bow. He gave of his time, his love, and himself to those with the greatest need ever.

I feel like this Christmas we have had an opportunity, although one we would never ask for, to give of ourselves to a family in need.

So although this year might not look like a traditional Christmas - shopping, presents piled under the tree, sitting as a family doing "Christmas" things - I believe it has looked a bit more like the reason we, as Christians, celebrate Christmas.

Although it has been hard and tiring at times, especially for Ethan, I feel I have celebrated the season as much - if not more - this year as any other year.

p.s. We still are planning on going shopping, weather permitted. Also, if you can't tell by the picture, we still have a bit more settling in to do. January will be unpacking/organize the house month for me.

p.p.s Our pastor (who's just 38 by the way) is doing well. His grim chance for surviving and at least a year of rehabilitation if he pulled through - according to the doctors - has turned into him talking, walking, making jokes, and possibly just 3 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation that will hopefully start soon. Everyone who looks at his charts says it's a miracle he's even alive.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update on our Farm Hands

Today Isaac is 1 month old. How time flies! He is growing well and doing great. He is pretty low maintenance as far as newborn babies go. He is sleeping well and has only been getting me up once a night the last two weeks.

Caleb and Hannah are continuing to love their new little brother, as well as loving life on our farm. They both enjoy helping out outside, especially Caleb. He loves to follow Ethan around during chore time and help as he can.

And of course, they both love playing outside. I didn't let them go outside by themselves in the neighborhood we were in while living in town. Here, however, they can go out and play, and I can even keep a close eye on them with our big picture windows.

Thank you for the thoughts and prayers for our pastor. He is encouraging everyone with how he is recovering and was just taken out of critical care and put into a regular room yesterday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayers for our Pastor

If we happen to pop into your mind for any reason today, we would appreciate prayers for our pastor. (Just in case you don't know, my husband is the associate/youth pastor.) He went into the emergency room on Tuesday morning with meningitis like symptoms after a 2 week long cold. They ruled out meningitis, but weren't sure what was going on. Yesterday, after seeing a neurologist, it was determined that his brain was swelling and that he needed immediate surgery due to multiple strokes that were affecting both sides of his brain. Yesterday evening they removed a portion of his skull and put a drain in to relieve pressure. They also removed the stroke affected part of his brain. Today he is still in critical condition, but we are encouraged that he is responsive. He has squeezed his wife's hand to answer some questions and has opened his eyes once.

So, if we happen to pop into your mind, please pray for our pastor and his family. (They have 3 children from 2nd grade to a junior in high school.) Thank you!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Searching for the Perfect Tree (Farm)

Ethan and I have talked about different ways we can diversify our farm. One of the things that popped up in our brainstorming was Christmas trees. We don't have enough land to have a full blown tree farm, but we thought that maybe we could plant some to make available to our more loyal customers. It would also be a great way to show them appreciation - we talked about how we could just have them available one day but have winter activities and treats on that day.

I don't know if we will ever go that route with our farm, but I think we will at least plant some for us to cut in the future.

The first year we moved to this area Ethan and I went to a Ma and Pa tree farm to cut our Christmas tree. I don't know if there is a tree farm that could beat this one. Not only were the trees beautifully trimmed - it seemed like almost every tree was a perfect triangle, but the couple who owned the tree farm genuinely cared about their customers. Waiting in the store were hot drinks, treats, and "Ma" and "Pa" who were eager to visit with you while their train circled the track around the ceiling. It seemed as if you were a new neighbor that they were meeting, and they made sure that you signed and dated their guest book when you bought your tree since they had gifts that they handed out to customers who returned so many years in a row.

Unfortunately Ma and Pa decided to retire and must have not had anyone to take over the tree farm. They told us to come on back out the following year anyway, although they wouldn't be advertising. Of course we went back, but we could tell that pickings would be slim after that year.

The following Christmas we began the search for a new tree farm, and we have yet to find one we will return to. One of the farms we went to had squarish trees, but the deal breaker for Ethan was that you weren't allowed to saw them down yourself. This year we found the most expensive farm of them yet. We walked around for an hour and a half and didn't see one tree that was not overly lopsided or bare on one side.

We almost drove away without a tree. The Ma and Pa store had told me earlier in the day (I called with hopes that they reopened) that if we brought our own saw we could just go cut one for free, although the trees hadn't been trimmed for quite awhile. We decided, however, with an approaching storm that we should just get one at the farm we were at if we wanted one this week. We settled on one we had came across earlier in the evening - I figured that with some string I could cinch up some branches to close a large hole, which I did end up doing.

So our search for a tree farm will continue a bit longer, until we can hopefully grow our own. Even so, I was reminded that even if we don't ever find those Christmas card triangle trees again, that is okay. Tonight my four year old son pulled up a chair in front of our lopsided, branches tied up to the trunk, undecorated tree. As he sat there he was grinning and talking out loud to himself saying, "This is the best Christmas tree that I ever had." (And thankfully lights and ornaments can do wonders!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do You See Them?

Do you see them?

How about now?


This mower has been the chickens' house ever since their coop blew away. It has kept them out of the elements, but we couldn't let them stay there permanently. What if it drifted over? (By the way, Ethan has peeked under for eggs but never found any.)

So last week Ethan salvaged the materials out of the ditch from the old coop, and he is working on piecing together a new coop. Although we might want something different in the spring that will house more hens, this coop will be a bit more suitable for winter than the mower would be. Just a few more finishing touches (and a trip to Walmart to get some staples), and their new home should be done.

Maybe they will thank us with some eggs . . .

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Moo is the new sound on our farm. Although we have had our little red heifer here for a bit now, she has been pretty quiet. This week though, the rest of the herd started to show up, and they aren't quite as quiet.

Out of our herd of 2o something, 7 cows and our bull have made the trip up from Ethan's dad's. So I'm sure there is a lot more mooing to come. I don't mind a bit. It is nice to hear our farm come to life.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Elusive Egg

Ethan and I continue to be in search of our elusive chicken eggs. They show up just long enough to get us excited, and then they vanish again as suddenly as they showed up. It's almost like a game.

Saturday morning Ethan found the stolen nest, and we thought we would be getting some eggs again.

But then IT happened. We weren't counting on IT to happen for a while yet. I guess that's one thing that happens when you don't have a TV set up due to no reception and when you don't check the news on the computer because of slow internet. IT will take you by surprise, and IT did. IT has thrown a loop in a few things around our farm actually.

So Saturday morning Ethan located the nested out grass where the eggs were being laid, but Saturday afternoon that spot began ro slowly disappear. By Sunday morning it was covered with around 5 inches of snow.

We weren't the only ones surprised by this white blanket though. Here is our little red hen, named Henny Penny by Caleb - just like the other red hens are named, looking for that spot of grass as well. Obviously she didn't find it, and our search continues for the elusive eggs.

Click here to read the rest of the story.
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