Sunday, November 30, 2008

When It Rains It Pours... er I Mean...

So, you can probably guess, if 10 chickens, or for that matter 30 chickens, weren't enough then surely one horse was not enough. Today we welcomed Stormy the miniature Appaloosa gelding to our farm.

He is only 2 years old, silvery gray and he and Sugar have quickly become the best of friends. When they first met through the fence, Sugar came running up, whinnied a loud hello and stamped her foot as any independent, spirited woman would. This was the most movement we've seen from Sugar since we got her. Then she sprinted over to the gate where we were leading Stormy in, they both whinnied a lot, danced around some, and then that was it. They were friends. I expected some bickering as they adjusted to each other but there wasn't any. Both are mild mannered and they don't wander more than 5 feet from each other now. I'll have to post another picture later, it was getting dark and that's the best I can do.

Now the work begins. We need to train them to our voice commands, the saddle, and eventually to a cart. Sugar has some experience with the saddle and riders and she's working on obeying voice commands but Stormy has very little experience with any of it. By the way, when I say "we" need to start training, you know of course I mean Andrew. After all this is his venture, I just get the joy of blogging about it.

And that's not all...

We also opened the front pasture up to 6 male alpacas. It's a win-win situation as we've been wondering how we were going to maintain the field and the owners of the alpacas needed extra grazing room for the herd. It's also another opportunity to bring in a little income and get familiar with the animals without the investment of actually buying some.

Josiah and Mia got to hold the lead on two of them but both dropped the ropes when they pulled too hard. Alpacas are stronger than they look and of course they were nervous in the new environment. Unfortunately they could only catch one right away and the other ran off with his lead dragging behind him. They were all in the field, but we didn't want the lead to get him caught up in anything. So, if you're wondering, catching an alpaca isn't easy. Especially when it's their first time in a new field and they've just gotten out of a trailer. Thankfully for me, Sierra needed to go down for a nap at the same time, so I got to watch the comedy unfold from the warmth and vantage point of the house. The couple that brought them over, Andrew, Josiah and Mia were all waving their hands, arms outstretched, forming a semi circle trying to corner them on one end of the field. Those wiley alpacas though, they managed to bob and weave and work their way out of the little trap.
Pacas 1, humans 0.

They tried again, this time with all the leads they had removed from the other alpacas tied into one long rope. The alpacas saw that coming and ran all the way around to the other side of the field.

Pacas 2, humans 0.

Finally, with the extra leverage of a tree in the corner and the extension of a long branch cutting off the get away angle, they got them cornered and were able to grab the lead. Phew!

Game over. Humans win 3-2 with that last second 3 point play! It was great fun to watch!! I was thinking that I actually should have joined in, perhaps that would have sent me into labor. Oh, there's still plenty of time to chase them around.

To top it all off. Josiah found another garter snake, only this one is a lot smaller. He named him Carter. We're keeping him outside in the same little tub we used before. Hopefully he'll last longer than the other one. I'm wondering if a raccoon or some other predator got the last one. Poor thing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

As we have entered into a season of greater peace and less stress, I can't help but reflect on how the last 4 years or so of struggling have molded us. I am eager to see how God intends to use us and those lessons to encourage other people and advance His kingdom. I read an encouraging quote by Ted Engstrom, who headed Youth for Christ and World Vision:

Cripple a man, and you have Sir Walter Scott. Lock him in a prison cell, and you have John Bunyan. Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have George Washington. Raise him in abject poverty, and you have Abraham Lincoln. Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Burn him so severely in a schoolhouse fire that doctors say he'll never walk again, and you have Glenn Cunningham, who set the world record in 1934 by running a mile in four minutes and six seconds. Call him a slow learner, retarded, write him off as unable to be educated, and you have Albert Einstein. Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver, and Martin Luther King.

The strongest world changers did not live comfortable, easy lives. They were strengthen by their adversities and therefore prepared to conquer many other challenges.

So I praise God for leading me through some rough terrain and for giving me times of respite, too. One stage breaks me down and creates a greater dependence on God, allowing me to grow as He intends. The other is an opportunity to put that growth into action.

Now, I leave you with some Thanksgiving quotes to kick off your day:

"On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence." --William Jennings Bryan

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving." --H.U. Hestermayer

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude." --E.P. Powell

"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?" --Erma Bombeck

5 Things MeMe

My cousin Melanie tagged me with this list and I have to say, her list was more interesting than mine!

5 Things on My To-Do List:

- Grocery shopping

- Food & egg delivery

- Make pies

- Meet with midwife

- Make beds (ya! Grandma is spending the night to help out with Thanksgiving prep)

5 Things I Like to Snack On (remember I'm pregnant!):

- Popcorn & cheese

- Apples

- Starbucks!! oops, does that count as a snack?

- Ice cream

- Crackers & hummus

5 Things I Would Do if I Was a Millionaire:

- Pay off debt

- College Funds for the kids - maybe even wedding funds.

- Go to Mongolia, India and Ecuador to visit friends and see how we can help

- Buy the house

- Buy Andrew a tractor

5 Places I Have Lived:

- Oregon, Oregon, Oregon, Oregon, Oregon!

5 Jobs I have Held:

- Human Services Assistant

- Summer Sports Coordinator

- Receptionist

- Bookkeeper

- Mom!

So, I now I need to tag 5 more people...

Leslie, of What Goes Around

Beth, of Finding Joy in the Journey

Cheryl, of Davis Family Chronicles

Sherry, of Spice Mama

And finally, all you lurkers who I'd love to hear from! :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

My New Way To Grocery Shop

Well, we've had so much change lately I decided to try out a new way of grocery shopping: Azure Standard. Andrew's parents have used them for a couple of years. They are based out of Durfur, Oregon and deliver all over the Northwest. Often people set up a co-op, or some people operate as an independent drop point but either way you order your food online and it is delivered via semi-truck to the drop point.

This isn't just any food mind you. They carry the good stuff: organic, healthy, "Life Source" quality brands, etc. Once I decided to go for it I had to quickly place my order online as the deadline was that day! Then I looked for a close drop point, there are three co-ops in Salem but one is closed since it has too many people, and one was a little grouchy and said she'd only let me drop there if I joined her co-op. The other I couldn't reach. But, since I was so close to the minimum order to actually be a drop point myself, I decided to add a few things and became an official drop point myself. It's always nerve racking the first time you try something but you still gotta try it.
Less than a week later I got the call that the truck was on schedule (they have an order placement schedule and a delivery schedule so you can know when to expect your shipment). Then we set off to meet at our designated spot. I knew the semi couldn't make it up our hill to my front door so we arranged to just met out at the road. He loaded my car with all the boxes and the kids and I used the dolly to unload back at home. It was like a grocery shoppers Christmas opening up all those boxes of just what I wanted. There was no breakage or spoilage. I got wonderful sparkling juice, yummy bread, apples, potatoes, mixes for brownies and pizza dough, yogurt, cottage cheese, hummus, ice cream... The list goes on. They have such great variety and it's all the good stuff at reasonable prices! They even have sales.

By the way, if anyone is interested in ordering from Azure Standard and using us as a drop point let me know. The company will check with me to make sure I have approved it first. There is a minimum $50 order and your order will be packaged and labelled together for easy pick up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Of Course, Of Course

Well, we have a new member of the family and I didn't even have to go into labor! Today the kids got an early Christmas present. Her name is Sugar and she's a miniature pony. She's really the size of a large dog but "a horse is a horse, of course of course" and you should've seen the kids' faces when the horse trailer pulled up. I thought Mia might burst! We kept everything a surprise for them. She told me that at first she just thought that the lady was bringing the horse over to give them rides.
Sugar's former owner had rescued her from a woman who was diagnosed with Lupus and couldn't care for her horses or mini's anymore. Then the rescuer lost her job and couldn't afford to even feed the horses any more. She's been desperately selling off animals on Craig's List. So, we brought this hungry little girl home with us. She's extremely sweet and patient with the kids, not a great size for riding unless you're under 50lbs or so, but we're looking into a cart. Apparently miniature horses are very strong cart pullers. Andrew said he wants a "Chariots of Fire" style cart, I'm looking for a romantic little two seater or maybe one with room in the back for the kiddos.

Honestly, this is Andrew's endeavor (once again) but I do like her and I even think she needs a little friend. Wouldn't two little mini's look so cute pulling our family around in a cart in a parade or something? We could give rides at Christmas time, Harvest and for the 4th of July. Oh, the possibilities.
Screamer, the neighbor's donkey, certainly did give her a warm welcome when she first arrived but he settled down quickly. At first I was worried that the old timer might have some romantic thoughts toward our young pony but he seems to have gotten over the idea.
Andrew made a little video of some of the kids' first moments with Sugar. Unfortunately it's sideways again, but it's not too long so just tip your head.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Following the Shepherd

Tonight we had a prayer service to lift up our senior pastor. He's not in good shape. This is the latest update:

They have discovered that John has a rare blood infection. In order to
monitor his heart, his blood and his vitals more closely they took him to
surgery to place a pulmonary artery catheter. That pulmonary artery catheter was
successfully placed and they are now trying to calibrate it. They are treating
the blood infection with antibiotics.The most urgent prayer request is that John
is dehydrated and his sodium levels are low. While they have been pumping him
full of fluids, his blood has not been absorbing those fluids. Instead the
fluids have been filling other places in his body making him swollen (think
Michelin man) and even seeping fluid. So, he is full of fluids but he is
dehydrated. They are now switching to a different type of fluid to work on that

As we ended the prayer service pastor Steve Fowler mentioned that God is our Shepherd. That image stuck with me as I remembered that He walks before us in this trial. He knows what lies ahead and is leading us along the best path. He's not sitting back somewhere watching us try our best to find our way. If we look, we can see him leading not just giving us direction, and we have the choice to follow or to venture off on our own. I crave safety, so for me, at least initially, it's an easy choice. Following when things don't look so great makes me question all I believe about my Leader. Each time though, I've found him to be faithful and worthy of my following. I guess that part gets easier with time and experience. The path doesn't get easier but the response time when questions arise gets shorter.

During worship I had a vision of powerful thunder surrounding me. I felt that I was in the presence of the Lord God Almighty. I was humbled to the core. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, I was prostrate before God, acknowledging him for who he is. Physically I was still in my seat as I didn't want to cause a distraction but had I been at home I would have allowed that vision to consume me completely. It was powerful. The only other time in my life where I had a vision like this was in high school while I was attending a retreat. It was a very real and vulnerable time, we were witnessing to people at the mall and learning about stepping out in our faith not just giving lip service to it. I clearly heard satan weeping, all alone in a pit below us and as I looked up I heard the angels in heaven rejoicing louder than any crowd at an arena. Again, it was very powerful and my simple words just can't do it justice.

It's not just pastor John that I'm dependent on the Lord for. It seems like so many people I know are getting hit with major stuff these days: breast cancer, stroke, major marriage issues, infertility, a baby the doctors say won't live, undiagnosed illnesses, chronic pain, major financial issues... It is a privilege and responsibility to be in prayer for all these critical situations. Right now, in this moment, I feel overwhelmed with the needs. I'm reminded and encouraged that God's shoulders are big enough to bear all these burdens. He doesn't need my perfectly phrased prayers to bless and heal these needs. He does want my heart dependent on him for the answers to them though.

I'm also struck by the stage I'm in right now. After years of struggle and some painful experiences I feel like we're in a respite time. I want to truly and fully enjoy this time of blessing. I don't know what tomorrow holds but I know that right now my burden is lighter. I can praise him for that, I can also praise him for all that those trials taught me. I love the song "Gratitude" by Nicole Nordeman, it's on the playlist if you want to listen. That's where I want my heart to be.

Urgent Prayer Request

Please pray for our head pastor at Salem Alliance Church, John Stumbo. He is normally a healthy person, a marathoner (in fact training for an ultra marathon!). He's been battling an unknown virus for the past 3 weeks or so. He was in Salem Hospital for about a week, then released. When he got sicker, just a few days later, Salem Hospital said there was nothing else they could do. He's been up at OHSU in Portland for about a week now. I just received an urgent prayer request saying he's taken a turn for the worse. He's currently in serious condition. At Church we've been studying the names of God. The week he got sick we were studying God as our healer (Jehovah Rapha). This battle is against the flesh and the spiritual attacks. I'm praying to Jehovah Rapha for the complete healing of our pastor. May God be glorified in this. I know many people doubt God's healing power and attribute it to just a Bible times thing. God hasn't changed. He hasn't dropped some of his power or become uncaring. Because of Jesus we can approach the throne of grace with confidence. That's what we're doing on behalf of our pastor and friend.

#1 Unconcsious as of this morning, being termed life or death at this point... undiagnosed illness has left him with no muscle power and is thought that enzymes are somehow attacking his immune system.

#2 Stablized but in critical condition. Spitting up blood, may have a blood clot in his lungs. Legs are blue, may have a blood clot in his legs. Seems to be a blood infection so now doctors have a direction to go in treating him. Again, pray for healing, but also pray for satan to be bound. There is so much to these circumstances that drives me to pray in this way. May God's power be unleashed and his people rejoice!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

From Ahh! to Aghhh!!! in just 5 Minutes!

This past weekend I had the privilege of joining three wonderful women on a weekend getaway to the coast! It was refreshing. We left Friday afternoon, enjoyed dinner out and catching up, spent all day Saturday at the spa...

...dined in (thank you Jennie!!), and watched all of Pride and Prejudice (yes, the 6 hour awesome version).

I was so blessed by our time together, body and soul breathed "Ahhh" as I headed home.

Then I got home.

The van was gone so I knew everyone was out on some adventure. After all, isn't that what weekends with dad are all about? I knew that while I was gone, Andrew was going to pick up 5 more hens and might consider the rooster that the seller wanted to include in the sale. I also knew this would bring our chicken count up to around 30 and I knew that 30 chickens would look like a lot more than our original 8. But, as I looked around the property something just didn't look right. We had some chickens in the front yard, usually they stay in the back. I thought maybe this was what was throwing me off. But, no, there was something else. I could see some chickens in the backyard, too, and somehow it all just looked like... more.

I called Andrew to let him know several chickens were out in the front yard. You see I'm just not in a state to be running around rounding up chickens and we want them to stay in one central area so we can contain their laying areas and keep them all accounted for. He sounded strange on the phone, like he was waiting for something. He said he was sorry he wasn't home because he wanted to be there when I met the new chickens. What an odd comment I thought.

So, I decided I needed to investigate. I made my way through the barn and saw a couple of baskets hanging on the stall door. "Why would Andrew be decorating with my baskets?" I thought. Oh, maybe it was the girls who did that. I decided to dismiss that. Then I noticed that there was an entire horse stall filled with perches and straw. To my delight there were two eggs in the trough so I grabbed them and continued outside. This is when my, "Ahh!" changed to an "Aghhh!!!!" As far as the eye can see there were chickens... everywhere. I took a little video of my discovery. Please excuse the spacey sounding commentary. I was in shock.

So needless to say, when I left for my weekend getaway we had just finished collecting our first dozen large eggs and a half dozen bantam eggs which we plan to incubate. When I got out of the barn that afternoon I already had 8 eggs in my basket and we found more that night. Our flock is now up to 81 chickens!
I guess we're officially in the egg business. Thankfully that last big purchase included tons of egg cartons so we really are all set. Another thing I'm thankful for... Andrew found an article that said that a chicken community shouldn't be more than 80 as they can't remember more than that many fellow feathered friends and it will cause disruption in the flock. So, phew, I guess we're set.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Knowing God

We've been studying the names of God at Church. This has been very insightful and overwhelming. You see as I look at the names of God I'm wholly humbled by who God is. My brain, my soul, shrinks back from him, overwhelmed by the consciousness of just a glimmer of understanding. It's breathtaking and yet here I am compelled to try to express my experience with words that fall too short. For my own convenience I have made God more manageable. Through these services I've been reminded how incontainable God is. Elohim, God you are powerful and mighty. I've also been amazed by God and challenged to truly trust him for myself, my family , and my loved ones. Jehovah-Rapha, you are the healer.

I remember the song by Amy Grant, El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty) that my parents would play on weekend mornings. I was a little irritated at the time because it seemed like my dad would BLARE it and that was a little "uncool", but now I'm thankful for those times because I can recall a lot of the words and definitely the tune...

El shaddai, el shaddai, El-elyon na adonia (we will love you, Lord),
Age to age you're still the same,
By the power of the name.
El shaddai, el shaddai, Erkamka na adonai,
We will praise and lift you high, El shaddai.

Through your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land.

To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees,
And by your might,
You set your children free.

El shaddai, el shaddai, El-elyon na adonia, (God most high, oh Lord)
Age to age you're still the same,
By the power of the name.
El shaddai, el shaddai, Erkamka na adonai,
We will praise and lift you high, El shaddai.

Through the years you've made it clear,
That the time of Christ was near,
Though the people couldn't see
What Messiah ought to be.

Though your word contained the plan,
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of your son.

El shaddai, el shaddai, El-elyon na adonai,
Age to age you're still the same,
By the power of the name.
El shaddai, el shaddai, Erkamka na adonai,
I will praise you till I die, El shaddai.

El shaddai, el shaddai, El-elyon na adonai,
Age to age you're still the same,
By the power of the name.
El shaddai, el shaddai, Erkamka na adonai,
I will praise you till I die.
El shaddai.

Thank you God that you are the same yesterday, today and forever; the same healer, the same powerful creator, the same sanctifier, Adonai, my master, El Elyon, most high God, Jehovah Shammah, you are there, Jehovah Jireh, you will provide. Teach me more about who you are and may that knowledge change my life. For the things that I do not understand, I will trust you Lord God Almighty.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Chili Night/A Stinky Day

Since the weather has turned a bit more dreary, chili has seemed like such a great dinner option. I already had the Costco size corn bread mix so it seemed like a good option for last night's meal. Unfortunately I had failed to restock my chili supply so I tried a new method for obtaining the desired product; I called and asked Andrew to pick it up on his way home. You see, where we lived before and where the business is in relationship to the grocery store, it just made more sense for me to make a quick run out and pick up whatever I needed. Now, though, he's the only option if we run out. It makes no sense for me to drive into town just for chili. So, we tried it. Despite working a long day, Andrew agreed to pick up some chili. I forget what a creative shopper he is sometimes. When I say, "chili" I don't mean any fancy flavors, or random brands, I mean Stagg's vegetarian. I love the large beans and corn, peppers and tomatoes. Mmmm! Well, by some random blessing he did manage to bring home Stagg's. So, I quickly heated it through, mixed it up and took a little taste test to make sure it was warmed enough. AAaaaaggghhhh!!! FIRE!! My mouth ignited with heat and I quickly ran for some milk. The vegetarian chili is actually pretty spicy for me but this seemed oddly hot. I thought maybe pregnancy had made my mouth more sensitive. After all, I haven't actually had chili in quite some time. Cooling down a bit, I went back to the cans of chili I had opened. Two were actually my familiar vegetarian flavor but I had failed to notice that one was labeled Dynamite Hot! Here's the description on the website:

You're looking hot! Explosive habaneros - the world's hottest chilies - and
fiery Chile de Arbol flavour ignite braised beef, red tomatoes, chopped
onions, seasoned with flame throwing spices. No wonder it's catching fire
with chili lovers everywhere!

Yes, I was ignited and I experienced the flame throwing spices. It was so hot that it didn't even mellow with the two other milder cans I had mixed in already. So, I served Andrew the red hot death and cooked up some more for the rest of us. I also made sure we had plenty of cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and sour cream to add and of course we had milk to drink. The kids still didn't make it through and it was hard for me, too.

Needless to say, there have been some exciting "chili repercussions" last night and today (PEEYOU!) and then I get this silly little email today. Here it is in it's entirety. Enjoy!

P.S. I think this is funny and appropriate enough that I'll risk posting it but it might be mildly offensive to those people who don't appreciate jokes about bodily functions. Hey, sometimes I'm in that camp, too. The timing of it was just too perfect and so I had to share.

NOTE: Please take time to read this slowly. IF you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better. For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park.

Judge 3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Hartford, Connecticut.

Frank: ‘Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table, asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy; and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge 3.’

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:

Judge 1 – A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge 2 – Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge 3 (Frank) – Holy crap, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

Judge 1 – Smokey, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge 2 – Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge 3 – Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

Judge 1 – Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge 2 – A bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge 3 – Call the EPA. I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, and now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I’m getting @!&&-faced from all of the beer.

Judge 1 – Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge 2 – Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge 3 – I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 300 lb. woman is starting to look HOT… just like this nuclear waste I’m eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?

Judge 1 – Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers fresh ly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge 2 – Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge 3 – My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off. It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them.

Judge 1 – Thin, yet bold, vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge 2 – The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
Judge 3 – My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I carped on myself when I farted, and I’m worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can’t feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.

Judge 1 – A mediocre chili with to much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge 2 – Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge 3 – You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they’ll know what killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing. It’s too painful. Screw it. I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

Judge 1 – The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge 2 – This final entry is good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge 3 farter, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it. Poor feller, wonder how he’d have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge 3 – No Report

Bumper Sticker Education

Don't you hate people's stupid bumper stickers. Not yours, of course, yours is witty and appropriate. It's those other people's.

I was behind a lovely truck that bore this boldly across the top of it's back window:

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

I read it and thought, "What an ignorant fool" but quickly moved on. Unfortunately we have readers in the younger segment of our family now and they saw it to. "Mom... what does 'pimpin' ain't easy' mean?" Oh boy, how in depth do I go with this one? I've already made up my mind to be open and upfront with my kids about sex education and especially to take every opportunity to pronounce God's perfect plan for sex and our bodies. You know... I've talked about this before. But I didn't really anticipate talking about pimps and prostitutes this early on. It was hard to broach the subject with varying age groups in the van but, despite being unprepared for the question, I managed to tastefully navigate through the subject and I was so thankful that in the end we landed back on the truth. There is plenty of ugliness out there, things that hurt our bodies and souls, but God's plan is worth waiting for. Thank you bumper sticker for the opportunity, what you intended for evil we used for good.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We've Got Eggs!!

Yes, it's true. Not one, not two, but three eggs! Two big, beautiful brown eggs with light speckling and one little bantam white egg. We're leaving the bantam egg in the nest to see if we get a chick. With all these roosters running around there's no doubt it's been fertilized, probably multiple times. Another great homeschool learning opportunity.

Harvest and Halloween

I love October for all the Harvest activities. This year was a little harder to juggle with moving going on. We missed our first opportunity to go with a homeschool group to the pumpkin patch but were provided a second chance just a week later at EZ Orchards.

Here we are waiting for the rest of the group to arrive and enjoying the mum display.

Of course we enjoyed the traditional hay ride, petting area, corn maze, huge slides, the hay towers and our choice of apple from the orchard and pumpkin from the patch.

It was lots of fun, especially for Mia who's good friend from preschool last year is also being homeschooled this year and was there at the farm. After wards we were given fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts. YUM!

Halloween ended up being quite the even this year which really wiped mom out! We had a lots of opportunities to use our costumes including a Halloween party the week before, Awana "trunk or treat", and actual trick or treating with cousin Mackenzie. Unfortunately I was so out of it after all that activity that I think I managed to only save thumbnails of the pictures I took and not the actual pictures so I can't show you our scary Vampire, sweet Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz, and our silly Dora or Doggie depending on the day. I'm still trying to figure out if there is a way to restore them but so far no luck!!

UPDATE: I found them!!

Animal Farm

Well, the chicken population has grown. Not naturally unfortunately but through the purchase of more and different feathered friends. I'm sad to say that with our abundance of roosters we're finally dealing with the pecking order problem. One poor rooster has had his neck feathers almost completely removed and he looks a little worse for the wear. Poor guy. Andrew said the only solution was to thin the male population so there was less competition. So, how do you thin the flock? You have chicken dinner. Frankly I might not feel too bad eating the bully bird but I don't think I could bring myself to partake in the poor underdog. Oh the drama of it all! But one special moment was so touching as I saw a new side of my husband as he cared for the poor picked on rooster. He allowed him to stay up on the high perch, safe from the other aggressive birds, and he held chicken feed up for him, allowing him to eat his fill. If that wasn't enough, he got him his own water dish and held that up for him to drink. This wasn't a fast process either. It was very sweet and the rooster did seem to perk up after that.

We still have no eggs though. The first round of new birds are coming out of molt (losing the old feathers and regrowing new ones) and they should start to lay their beautiful blue/green eggs soon. The newest birds, which Andrew picked up last night, should be laying nice brown eggs once they get over the shock of the move. Our sweet little bantam chickens still aren't laying so we'll see. They've all had a lot of change recently.

In the reptile world of Nordstrom's Animal Farm the lizard is still surviving despite our lack of know how. We went to the Humane Society to get more info and were given a phone number to call. We still need to do that. In the meantime, the kids found a very good size garter snake in the garden. It was big enough that there was some concern for the chickens eggs (if they were laying), especially the bantam chickens as theirs will be pretty small - just the right size for a hungry garter snake. Again, I don't know much about reptiles so I'm not sure if garter snakes eat anything besides garden bugs. But, alas, this conversation is all for naught as the snake got out of his homemade bucket house after only 3 days. Thankfully we had the foresight to keep him outside so I don't have to search the house for him. Although, if he ate mice he might actually be a benefit to the us. Actually, we haven't seen any sign of mice after Andrew caught 3 initially (by caught I mean killed with a mouse trap), no thanks to our lazy, "where's my cat food", indoor cat. Josiah got a rubber mouse while trick or treating this year so he tied it to a string and is trying to get Sadie into the swing of mousing. She has her moments but I think she's more interested in the string than the little mouse. I don't know, think a barn cat or two should be in our future.

Then there is our herd of deer. Unfortunately as I continued to see deer killed on the freeway I also noticed that our little herd of four was dwindling, too. In fact, at last sighting, we were down to only one. Deer are such frustrating creatures. Too timid for their own good. Don't they know I can help them?! They shouldn't run from me. We would let them bed down in our oak grove and they can munch all the apples they can reach. I did shake down some of the apples that were still attached at the top of the tree and have noticed that they're disappearing slowly. We've also seen the deer nibbling some different berried trees in the front field. Today though, while I was inspecting the back 2 (as opposed to the back 40) I saw three deer prancing their way through the wooded area. The back "neighbor", (if that's what you call the next closest person living somewhere out there), has been doing lots of work trimming trees, excavating, and putting up a very sturdy fence. I'm not sure what the plan is but I am sure it's doing a number on the deer's habitat. We plan to do an outdoor Christmas tree this year with treats and goodies for the creatures. I hope this helps the deer survive all this change.

The final animal update is on "our" donkey. We had a great time the other day when he broke through the fence and came wandering onto our property. The kids were beside themselves!! He came through and helped himself to some chicken feed and the old salt lick that was left here. Everything was great until he got a wild hare and started running down front driveway towards the lane which leads to the freeway. Andrew and Josiah bravely hopped on the 4-wheeler and chased after him, chicken feed in hand. Once they got his attention Andrew "pied pipered" him home by shaking the chicken feed in a bucket. I manned the gate so once they were in he had no escape - I'm talking about the donkey. This was unfortunate because it meant I didn't have time to run back up and get the camera. Once again, I was seeing a whole new side of my husband watching him patiently lead the mule back to the neighbors house. Andrew has a stubborn streak, too, so I couldn't help but enjoy the irony!!

Well, there you have it, an update on our little animal farm. It's been fun and it's been educational. Come visit us sometime!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Privilege of Voting

I know I've gotten behind and I have many things to update the blog with but for now I just wanted to make a quick note on this election day. It is such a privilege to live in a country where I can safely cast my vote. I was proud to get that done today. There was some question as to whether we would actually get our ballets because we were moving right when they went out so they didn't come in the mail. Andrew tracked them down though and we both got them in on time. We've already been praying for quite some time for our future leaders. Regardless of my voting opinion, ultimately, I want people who are sensitive to God's leading running our country. I've also prayed that if they don't respect God now that they will soon and that we can once again return to being a nation under God's authority.

I guess we'll know soon who our next fearless leader will be! I'm not watching the news at all yet. It's kind of like having a baby without having an ultrasound. You know the next president is coming you just don't know what kind.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff