york swirls

Thursday, May 31, 2012

This is vacation?!?!?!

We finished school on Monday & went straight into overdrive.  On Tuesday, Meagan & I took the 6 youngest girls shopping.  We did the usual grocery shopping at Sam's Club & Walmart, along with Dress Barn, Hobby Lobby, Bennett's Nursery, Goodwill, & Catos.  We shopped until Mom dropped!!

On Wednesday, we worked in the yard all day.  The above picture is of the spot where we are putting Lainey's Garden.  The three trees were gifts for Lainey...a weeping cherry, a crabapple, and a magnolia...that we planted last summer.  I spent most of the day digging the irises that are in that long, light-colored strip on the left of the picture.  Meagan planted 4 new plants in Lainey's Garden that we bought the day before.  Then we planted a flat of petunias in pots on the deck & front porch.  I was so tired & so burnt by the end of the day!!

Today, Meagan & I started on the attic!  What a job!!!!  We sorted out 19 garbage bags full of trash and several garbage bags for our church's yardmart next week.  Where does all the stuff come from?  The house looks like a disaster right now with all the piles everywhere, but once we're done it will be so nice.
Erin & Heather have been on kitchen duty the past two days since I've been so busy.  They've made supper two nights in a row.  That has been such a big help!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A poem...

This is a poem I came across tonight in my reading.  I purchased an e-book by Elizabeth George, A Mom After God's Own Heart.  It was on special for $1.99 on Mother's Day!  I couldn't pass up that deal!  I've been trying to read a little in it each night before I go to bed.  I really enjoy Elizabeth's devotional books.  You can visit her website, www.elizabethgeorge.com.  I decided to put the poem on the blog because I thought someone might enjoy it and because I'll be able to find it again!!

Whatever you write on the heart of a child
No water can wash away.
The sand  may be shifted when billows are wild
And the efforts of time may decay.
Some stories may perish,
Some songs be forgot
But this graven record--time changes it not.
Whatever you write on the heart of a child....
Will linger unchangeably there.

I think that poem goes hand-in-hand with Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go:  and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Oh, boy!  Is that ever convicting!  What are we training into our children?  I won't start a list here, but are they negative things or positive things?

Time to Celebrate!!

Our last day of school is scheduled for June 1st.  We have been working a little ahead over these past couple of weeks to try to finish early.  We all spent the day today working hard, pencils & erasers flying.  We have worked all the way through Friday's assignments & are finished with school for the year!!!  I'm ready for a party!!

This has been a hard school year.  It took me a while to get started at the beginning of the year because I wasn't physically or emotionally ready to start school.  Then we ended up planning & having a wedding in 2 1/2 months.  Then we had a new grandbaby & spent 10 days in the hospital.  It just seemed like one challenge after another, but we have fought the fight & finished our course.  School's out....or, at least, we're done with books.

This summer, we plan to do Indiana history "hands-on".  We are planning trips to Battle Ground, Vincennes, Limberlost, and other historical and interesting places in our state.  We'll also keep up on our math flashcards so we don't get too rusty over the summer.

We have some cool flashcards for right-brained learners that incorporate the numbers into pictures along with a story.  They are fun and make learning much easier.  Even Nanna (just turned 5) knows many of her multiplication facts.  Her favorite is "Anything times zero is NOTHING (said in a deep voice)!!!"

I was just talking with my pastor & pastor's wife last night about homeschooling.  During the school year, I never feel like I am getting anything totally done.  It's either school or housework.  If I feel like I've had a great day of schooling, my laundry's piled to the ceiling & we eat peanut butter sandwiches for supper.  If my house is clean, my laundry is caught up, and we have a delicious supper, we didn't get schoolwork finished!  It's hard to find a balance, but it all works out in the end.  Now I have the summer to sort all the piles that grew during the school year.  My house is just a big pile of clutter, my carpets need shampooed, and the windows are filthy!  Sigh...I thought I was on vacation starting this afternoon!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A beautiful evening

It was a beautiful evening to sit around the fire outside.  I slid the grate over both rims with a fire in each and cooked hamburgers & brats & two foil packets of potatoes for supper.  Some of the girls cooked hotdogs on the weiner roasting sticks.  Afterwards, Laura filled the tea kettle with water for hot cocoa.  While the girls played baseball, rollerskated, teeter tottered, & played in the sandpile, Gary & I sat together and watched the fire.  So relaxing!

Here's the recipe for the potatoes (courtesy of Autumn & Taste of Home):

3 large potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes 
(Don't tell, but I didn't peel mine!)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  Transfer to a double thickness of greased heavy-duty foil (about 18-inches square).  Dot with butter.

Fold foil around potato mixture and seal tightly.  Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-18 minutes on each side or until potatoes are tender.

Carefully open foil.  Sprinkle the bacon & cheeses over potato mixture.  Grill 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.  Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A farm hand's supper

This is what I fed the crew when they came in from baling hay tonight...cheddar burgers.  I planned to fix them on the fire, but it was a little tough to get a fire started with 25 m.p.h. winds today.  I ended up cooking them in the oven for about 45 minutes.  We also had peaches we froze last summer mixed with blueberries Erin & Heather picked last summer and bananas.  I made a half sheet cake pan of mint brownies for dessert.

These cheddar burgers are a great meal to fix on the grill, so I thought I'd share the recipe in case someone wanted a simple meal for this holiday weekend.  Of course, I'm sure you'll have to cut the recipe down a little!  I made 16 packets out of 4 lbs. of ground beef.

Cheddar Burgers and Veggies

4 lbs. ground beef
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Lawry's seasoning salt
12-14 potatoes, thinly sliced
Baby carrots

Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.  Spray one side of aluminum foil with cooking spray.

Mix beef, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onions, and seasoning salt.  Shape mixture into patties about an inch thick.

Place sliced potatoes on sprayed side of foil sheets.  Top with beef patty, carrots, and sliced onions (optional); sprinkle with seasoning salt.  Fold foil over patties and vegetables so edges meet.  Seal edges making a tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again.  Allow space on sides for circulation and expansion.

Grill packets 4-6 inches from medium heat 17-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and meat is thoroughly cooked.  Place packets on plates or cookie sheet.  Cut a large X across the top of packet; fold back foil.

First cutting of hay

 Meagan unloading the rack
 Waiting for a bale
 Nathan & Heather
Erin carrying a bale
(Stephen Howard in the background)
 Heather stacking hay
 Leah throwing hay to the calves
Leah & Nanna in the haymow

Today was a busy day on the farm.  They baled 342 square bales and 42 big round bales, plus 8 more round bales for a neighbor.  Gary cut the hay on Tuesday.  This morning Gary & Meagan raked the hay (turning it over to dry & raking it into long rows called windrows), chasing each other around the field.  

With the heat and wind today, it was ready to be baled by early afternoon.  Autumn had the day off of work because their plant was going to be without electricity, so she was able to be home for the "big event".  Autumn drove the square baler (her very first time!) and Gary drove the round baler.

Nathan and Stephen Howard rode the rack behind the baler.  Meagan unloaded the rack while Nathan, Stephen, Erin, and Heather were in the haymow stacking.  When she wasn't needed to unload the rack, Meagan was using our little Kubota tractor to gather the round bales in central locations in the field to be loaded on the rack later to be transported to the barn.  

By 8:00 tonight, all the hay was under roof, and we were all gathered around the table for supper.  It was a good day on the farm!


I tend to talk myself out of posting or tell myself I need to cut it short and not include so many details on our blog.  I figure I will bore people silly or that people will think I'm crazy if I post something that pops into my head.  It struck me this afternoon as I was looking at someone's blog that I hadn't checked for quite a while that maybe that isn't the case.  I look forward to checking our friends' blogs, and even some people's blogs that I've never met before.  I enjoy reading their posts, no matter what they're about.  I always find them interesting.  Maybe people feel the same way about our blog...maybe.  It's not often that people leave comments, so it's hard to judge.  I can't complain about that too much though because I never leave comments on the blogs I check daily.  At any rate, I'm going to try to post a little more whether you like it or not!  :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sending birthday cards to Lainey

We went to the cemetery this afternoon and released a dozen pink balloons for Lainey.  The little girls had attached notes & birthday cards to their balloons.  We watched them until they were miles and miles away and went up into the clouds.

Happy Birthday, Lainey...

It was one year ago today that I saw the tiny little toes in the center of this picture for a few, short hours...held my baby in my arms so briefly.  The hardest thing I've ever done was to leave her there in a white basket at the hospital and get in the car and drive away.  I just wanted to scream, "No!  NO! I can't leave her there!!!!"  
The saying that the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep people put on this picture is so true....There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.  I just finished reading my journal on the Caring Bridge website.  I have a huge pile of kleenexes laying beside me.  I'm so glad I journaled all of that...so glad I have it recorded forever.  I still may write that book one of these days.
We are going to the cemetery this afternoon to release balloons.  Autumn had the girls write letters & make birthday cards to attach to the balloons.  I brought the stone home that we've had at the cemetery all this time because they were pouring the concrete to set her permanent stone on.  The permanent stone won't be ready for a few more weeks, so we are going to take the other stone back out there this afternoon since the concrete is poured and set-up.  We will leave it there until the permanent stone is set so there is something marking her grave.  There just needs to be something there.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Isn't he cute?

Ryan - 10 weeks
Ryan was sitting on Pop's lap talking to him.  The camera wouldn't cooperate to get his biggest smiles, but you can tell he's having a good time visiting with his Pop.

Happy Mother's Day!

I was the only mom at church today with a corsage.  And what a beautiful one!!  The girls (& Nathan) special ordered a corsage for me with 9 roses...one for Autumn, Meagan, Krissy, Erin, Heather, Laura, Kara, Leah, & Nanna...and an unopened bud for Lainey.  The little girl that sat beside me in Junior Church pointed at the unopened bud and said, "It didn't grow."  I had to blink the tears away.  How very true!  You can bet this corsage & card will be stashed away with my keepsakes.
Krissy made our favorite coffee cake last night for a special breakfast this morning.  Then for dinner, I had a ribeye steak done to perfection...well, perfect to me with a little black around the edges.  Gary said he could hardly stand to throw that good ribeye on the hottest flame to do that to it, but that's just the way I like it.  We had baked potatoes and peas to go with it and brownies with frosting for dessert.  Then I took a nap.
It was a great day all around.  It's amazing the changes in a year's time.  Lainey is no longer with us, but we have a son-in-law and a grandson and Baby Stratton on the way.  
God is good all the time, All the time God is good.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ouabache State Park

We loaded up the camper for our first camping trip of the season this past weekend.  We spent Saturday night through Monday afternoon at Ouabache (pronounced Wabash) State Park near Bluffton, Indiana.
 They have a herd of bison in the park.  The girls were pulling grass and feeding them.  They followed us all the way from the back of their pen to the front waiting for more grass.  They sure are awkward, nasty creatures.  We went to the library yesterday to get some books about bison/buffaloes...good subject for a school report.

 Meagan & I cooked pancakes and bacon on our portable gas grill.  We decided not to take firewood on this trip since we were going to be gone for such a short time.  I missed it though as soon as we got there and I smelled someone's fire.  It's just not the same to go camping without a fire and s'mores.  Next time!
 Laura & Kara enjoyed a game of checkers while we were cooking our breakfast supper.  We like to do breakfast food at supper time every once in a while.
 On Monday morning, we went bowling in Bluffton.  We used bumper guards so our balls would stay out of the gutters.  Ha!!  Laura managed to hit the end of the bumper so hard that she knocked it over.  Erin fell down after she let go of her ball and slid down the lane with it a little ways.  Heather sent her ball rolling backwards into the spectators.  Nanna has the slowest slow ball I've ever seen.  It seemed like it took 5 minutes for her ball to make it to the pins.  I did so well that Nanna was the only one with a score lower than mine.  Lowest score wins, right?  We were just glad we were the only ones in the bowling alley that morning!!  I'm sure that man that ran the bowling alley just shook his head when we left there!!  That's okay. We had a good time!

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

May 3rd was Grandpa Cooper's 82nd birthday.  We celebrated with a peanut butter dessert Erin made.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shop til you drop!

We did double school work yesterday so we could take today off and go to the outlet mall in Tuscola, Illinois.  We all had a great time & found quite a few great bargains.  Most of the girls bought flipflops at Old Navy, among many other purchases.  It never ceases to amaze me what people's reactions are to our girls.  When we checked out at Christopher & Banks, one of the two ladies behind the counter asked if those 4 girls were all mine. Ha!!!  Yes, they are, but that's not all of them.  I have 9.  Both of the ladies just stood there and looked at me.  Didn't say a word or blink an eye.  It was just slightly uncomfortable!  Then they just started going on and on about how they could never do it and how wonderful it was...  Then while we were eating our supper, a couple came in about 15 minutes before we were finished.  The woman sat there and stared at us the whole time!  Not subtly...just plain staring....like we were the freak show at the circus!  I should have bought that plaque I saw in Shipshewana a month ago......"Now remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family."