Mr. Sweetie and Mr. Imagination

These two little boys are a lot of fun! Mr. Sweetie just turned six, and Mr. Imagination is three and a half, and they add a lot of enjoyment to our lives. We are so thankful to have them. Mr. Diligent was already nearly four when Mr. Sweetie was born, our biggest gap between children, and we were wondering if there would be anymore babies. Here are a few glimpses into what the two of them have been up to lately.

I got a package in the mail one day, and Mr. Sweetie turned the packaging into a hat!IMG_2062

When Mr. Sweetie was done with it, Mr. Imagination took it over.


Mr. Inventor made a robot mask out of a piece of cardboard packaging from another parcel, and Mr. Sweetie dressed up!


Mr. Sweetie helped Esther make the pavlova for his birthday a week or so ago.


Mr. Imagination made a bed for himself and his baby, and I tucked Little Miss in with him. She loved it! She adores her big brothers.


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September Pictures of Little Miss

This little girl is getting very very busy. Now that she can get around, she is a very happy little girl, and loving being able to investigate all the interesting things that are at her eye level.IMG_1815

One day, a big brother took her outside. She found a mud puddle, and had lots of fun!


After I got her cleaned up, she fell asleep almost immediately.


One day during school, she tipped a book box over and ended up on top of it! She was not happy, but not hurt so I grabbed a picture quickly before rescuing her.


The big thing right now is going under things.


One day, Esther took Little Miss outside and put her on a sheet to play. Mr. Imagination played with her.


“Why can’t I go outside like everyone else?” Look at that sad face!


Mr. Handyman loves to hold his sister; here he was singing after church.


Happily banging away on top of a trash can.


“Yes, I’m cleaning out the cupboard for you. You mean I shouldn’t be tasting all the containers while I do it?”


She was so pleased with herself the day she discovered the pantry shelves and that she could pull containers off! The next step was the discovery that the lid of the brown sugar container was loose. I have now moved that one up higher.


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School Pictures

I’ve gotten a few fun pictures recently of boys doing school. This first one was in the evening, but it shows all the males in this household engrossed in watching a YouTube video of (I think) how a methane digester can be made and how it works. IMG_1827

Mr. Diligence being diligent.


Mr. Inventor busily doing math.


Mr. Diligence kept doing this stunt during his lesson, for a couple of days. I finally told him that if he did it again he would have to let me take a picture. He stayed down for a few minutes—and then forgot!


When it was warm for a few days, Little Miss entertained herself during school in this way.


One morning when I went out to milk, this was the scene in the living room:  Mr. Diligence, Mr. Handyman, and Mr. Inventor, all busily  working on their math lessons (before breakfast), and Little Miss entertaining herself.


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Jello, From Scratch

We rarely have jello salad, because I don’t like the idea of eating artificial color and flavor, and sugar. I could use plain gelatin and fruit, but several years ago I learned how to make it from scratch, and we love it! Therefore, every time we butcher chickens we skin the feet and freeze them. About once a year we have enough accumulated that I decide I need to clean out the freezer and make gelatin. This time, I took a few pictures of the process so I could show how I do it. This is my big 20-quart stock pot. There are a couple of turkey feet, but mostly chicken. And by the way, everything that has ever touched the ground or the air was peeled off.IMG_1634

Cover the feet with a lot of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for a day…or two…or three, depending on how life is going. I keep the lid on most of the time.


When you finally decide you have time to drain the broth, pour the whole lot into a colander. Discard the bones. I think I usually add some vinegar at the beginning of cooking, but I forgot this time. The vinegar helps pull the good stuff out of the bones.


Chill the broth thoroughly, then scrape off all the fat you can from the top. The broth should be very firm. I remember one time it was so jelled that when I pulled a spoonful out it escaped and bounced across the kitchen!


Next, clarify it. This is what I do; these instructions are from The Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery:


I clarified this particular batch twice, and I wish I would have taken a picture of the second time. I did it right, for once, and was able to scoop out the egg white, with most of the solids in it. Fun! Next, add juice concentrate. I have never found frozen juice concentrate here, like I got when we lived in Michigan. I make my own, though, following some other of Carla Emery’s instructions. I cook plums in a little water till they are falling apart, then drain them in the colander and freeze the juice in a plastic milk bottle. I thaw the milk bottles of juice upside down so the juice drips out as it thaws. When the ice that’s left in the bottle is looking kind of clear, I refreeze what thawed and discard the ice that’s left. It is mostly water, as the sugary part of the juice is what thaws first. I repeat the process two more times and end up with a very thick, syrupy juice. It’s great for flavoring, and much sweeter than the sour plums I start with. Just add enough juice, and some sugar/honey/maple syrup/stevia, till it tastes right.


Then, I add fruit. This is frozen plums, blackberries, and cherries, and fresh apples and bananas. I just put in whatever I have on hand. (No raw kiwifruit or pineapple, though; they contain enzymes that will prevent the gelatin from setting.) Put in the fridge and chill, then enjoy! It is softer than commercial gelatin, and has kind of a creamy texture. Delicious!


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Starting the Garden

Yes, it’s a little early, but we have the garden started. I wanted to make sure the pepper plants got big enough to produce some fruit before it gets cold in the fall, so I started them early. This is what they looked like in early September; now they are outside in our “greenhouse”, so I don’t see them every day.IMG_1808

I set out Bok Choi, kohlrabi, broccoli and cauliflower that I started, the other day when we had a warm spell. It’s turned cold and rainy now, but the little plants look great, at least what I can see of them from the kitchen window (the middle window you can see in this picture; the window on the left is a bedroom, and the one on the right is the laundry). Mr. Sweetie had fun with my camera while I was transplanting.


Little Miss had fun crawling around on the grass while I worked in the garden.


Mr. Imagination had fun running in the dirt, and Mr. Intellectual was working on a project.


Mr. Inventor’s ducks have been eating the lettuce and Swiss Chard that I had growing, so we informed him last week that his ducks would be locked out of the yard/garden, or eaten. He got busy putting up a duck-proof fence, and then herded them out.


Here is the beautiful tom turkey again. I know I’ve posted a lot of pictures of him—I love watching him display!


Mr. Imagination on the trampoline.


Mr. Imagination picked me a bouquet of daffodils!


These ducks wanted back in the yard!


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Classic Cars, Snow, and Spoonbills

Our trip to church Sunday was a little different from usual. Every year, this weekend, there is a classic car show in Kaikoura on Saturday, and the cars go back south on Sunday morning. There were around 600 cars at the show, we heard, and the boys counted 270 or so passing us! That sure adds interest to a one-hour trip we make nearly every week.IMG_2019IMG_2024IMG_2027IMG_2028

The other thing that made the trip unusual was snow. We drove through falling snow for about 10 minutes, and there was some slush on the road. That is the worst road conditions we’ve driven in in this country. It was sure pretty! This was the first and probably last snow for us this winter.IMG_2002

We especially noticed the wattle trees bending down with the weight of snow. On the way home in the afternoon, the snow was gone, but the wattle trees were still bowed down and a lot of limbs were broken off.


On our way home, as we crossed a bridge just as the highway reached the sea, I looked at the river mouth and noticed a flock of spoonbills! We pulled off and Gayle and Mr. Intellectual went over to get a picture. The rest of us preferred to stay in the warm dry van.IMG_2041IMG_2043IMG_2046

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Answered Prayer

Over a year ago, I started wishing for another refrigerator. The one we had in the kitchen was leaking out the bottom, and, though bigger than the one we had in the laundry room for milk, it was small for our family. For a number of years I had been wanting a fridge with the freezer on bottom. I looked at prices online and discovered that a new fridge the size I wanted would be about $2,000! No way could we afford that. Then, we were able to fix the problem and the fridge no longer leaked. Whew.

Next, we moved, a year ago, and needed to switch the doors on the laundry fridge from one side to the other. When we did that, the door no longer sealed shut. We had been having to tape the freezer shut on it, and now the fridge door didn’t seal, either. I prayed about it, and told the Lord that I was willing to keep using that fridge, but if He wanted us to have a better fridge, would He please let one become available locally. In November, I saw an ad in the local paper for a fridge! I called the number, and the fridge was exactly the same size as the one we had in the laundry, with the freezer on top. It was only 2 years old, and they were asking $500 for what would have been about $1,000 new. We took it (turned out the seller was a man Gayle works with), but when we plugged it in it didn’t run.  We put everything back into the old fridge and started trying to get an electrician to fix it. We were thankful that we hadn’t paid for it yet! After three or four months of messing around, the decision was finally made that it would cost more to fix the fridge than buy a new one so we gave it back to the owner.

I still wanted a fridge that didn’t leak around the seal, so I kept watching the local paper. In August, I saw a garage sale advertising a fridge, so I went—and it hadn’t sold yet! It was large, and the kind I had been wanting, with the fridge on top. It was only $80! I took it right away, and have been so happy with this purchase. We moved the small kitchen fridge to the laundry room and the old, even smaller, laundry fridge is retired in the garage in case we need extra cooling space temporarily. God answers prayer.IMG_1813

A few weeks ago, I was walking down the street in Kaikoura one Sunday afternoon, and kept getting stones stuck in the soles of my shoes. I thought that was rather strange, so when I got to the van I looked. I was horrified to see that my shoes, which I have only had for about eight years, had both cracked all the way across the sole! I loath shoe shopping, and have a very hard time finding shoes that fit my short, wide feet. That night, I prayed for a pair of shoes. The next morning, the boy who got the mail brought in a large box. It was from some friends who had just moved quite a long ways away. There were clothes for Little Miss to grow into, and shoes and boots for the boys. One pair of the shoes fit me! They aren’t new and I’ll need to find some others before too long, but they will work well till I can find some others. What a quick answer to prayer!

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August 2015 Pictures

Here are the last few pictures I wanted to share from August. I’m getting close to caught up!

We’ve had rain a couple of times. We’re still desperately dry, but since the weather is cool the little bit of rain we’ve gotten has been able to soak in and make the grass grow a bit. The ducks were delighted this particular morning to have water to play in!IMG_1692

I started peppers the first week or so of August. I planted the seeds in potting soil in this ice cream container, and put it, with a tight lid on, above the hot water heater. The peppers came up incredibly fast—I think this picture was taken after only a week!


I liked this picture of Mr. Imagination peeking into Esther’s room (just before she moved back out to the sleepout).


Mr. Handyman and Mr. Inventor have been tilling the garden. The ducks love the freshly tilled soil—they must be finding worms.


Mr. Handyman brought this skink in to show us. I believe this is about lifesize on my computer screen.


A goose nest. I hear that there are now two geese sitting on it simultaneously. We’ll see if anything hatches!


Gayle frequently brings home a load of compost from work for the garden. This time, he took Little Miss out to supervise the unloading from her Bumbo. Mr. Handyman was helping unload, and Mr. Sweetie is watching.


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Dead Boring Bike Hike, 2015

Today was the annual bike hike for our homeschool group. We start in Waikari every year, and anyone who wants to rides to the home of one of the families, just outside of Scargill. It is a total of about 22 kilometers. Every year, we remind the children that the bike hike is NOT  a race. Every year, the boys make it into a race! This year, for the second time in a row, Mr. Inventor was the winner, finishing the ride in only 32 minutes. Mr. Handyman came in third. Mr. Sweetie rode for the first time; he rode nearly half the route. He was pretty happy about that. Mr. Imagination and Little Miss stayed in the van with me and were bored silly. I let Mr. Imagination eat his lunch and take a few pictures, and Little Miss chewed on a carrot stick most of the way—until she put it on her shoulder and couldn’t find it again!

Here are the boys, waiting to start out. IMG_1905

Mr. Sweetie, ready to go. I drove him to the end of the steeper hills before he started.


Mr. Imagination took these next two pictures.


Here, Mr. Sweetie was pedaling past a hedge that caught fire a year ago.


Another of Mr. Imagination’s pictures!


The welcoming committee at the end of the ride. I grabbed a picture quickly as I drove past to park on the roadside, so it turned out fuzzy.


After eating the lunches we took along, we spent the afternoon together enjoying each other’s company. We have such good friends!

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Eight Months

Little Miss is now eight months old, and I decided to post eight month pictures of the other children. People keep asking if she looks like the others—you judge! The first five are scanned copies of prints from photo albums—we didn’t have a digital camera then.

Esther tried to help with dishes in the rental house we lived in until she was about 10 months old.Esther005

Mr. Handyman


Mr. Inventor still loves babies—real ones now!


Mr. Intellectual


When Mr. Diligence was little, we made our living by raising, butchering, and selling chickens. We also butchered chickens for other people. We would spend two days a week in the butcher shed. One day, Mr. Intellectual (almost 3) was taking care of Mr. Diligence (around 8 months) while we butchered. They got hungry; it was usually 1:00-2:00 by the time we went in for lunch. When I went in the house to clean up and finish lunch, I found a brown trail leading from the door to the pantry. You can guess what my first thought was—yuck! Then, I found this baby, covered with the brown stuff, and then I saw the container beside him and smelled what he had. Peanut butter! Mr. Intellectual had gotten the peanut butter container off the shelf we kept it on, and the two of them had a feast. Funny, Mr. Diligence still loves peanut butter more than almost any other food! Oh, and I spent a good while cleaning up instead of finishing making lunch!


Mr. Sweetie was our first baby to experience a New Zealand winter. He discovered the woodbox built into the wall of the living room one day, and had a wonderful little playhouse!


When Mr. Imagination was about eight months old, he got to taste chocolate for the first time, when I made a birthday cake for Mr. Handyman. He apparently approved of the flavor!


And here is 8-month-old Little Miss!IMG_1876

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