April Fun

Otherwise known as random pictures! One Sunday in April, our nephew went to church with us, and we took him north of Kaikoura to see the baby seals. Little Miss loved them, too!



Everyone has been enjoying our new kittens. They love to sleep on people! Unfortunately, the black-and-white one was accidentally killed this week when she got in someone’s way. We miss her, but are glad to still have the other.


I liked this sight, as Mr. Inventor took a turkey to a neighbor who wanted to buy him to live with her turkey hens.


A favorite activity has been building towers with the base 10 blocks.


Just a funny picture of Mr. Imagination!


Mr. Imagination loves his “robot pajamas”, which were in a bag of clothes that was given to us.


Impromptu math lesson one evening! I can’t remember any more what we were discussing, but that white board sure comes in handy!


Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence got the idea to bob for apples one evening. They soon caught on to pushing the apples to the bottom of the dishpan to get hold of them!



Mr. Intellectual is my kitchen helper. He learned how to make tortillas recently.


The two little boys built this. We brought very few toys with us when we moved here from America, but this was a set we didn’t want to be without.


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April Garden

One morning in early April, it was already getting frosty when I went out to check on the garden at 12:30. No, I don’t normally go outside at that hour, but it was so cold that I was checking for frost to try to protect the tomatoes. I turned the pump on to try to keep the frost off them. When I went out at 6:30 to look, the entire garden was encased in ice! By 8:00, when I turned the water off as the sun came up, the ice was about 1/8 inch (2-3 mm) thick on all the tomato and pumpkin leaves! The little boys had fun going out and carefully taking the ice off a big leaf and bringing it in to show me. They put several of those crystal leaves in the freezer to show Daddy when he got home. I figured that was the end of the tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkins.



That afternoon, I went out to the garden again. I was very surprised at what I saw! The next two pictures are the garden that I watered, which was encased in ice. The plants had not been hurt at all!




This picture shows the pumpkins in the next garden, across a narrow walkway. They were not protected with water, and were killed! I knew there was some sort of science behind that, so I looked it up. Apparently, as the water freezes into ice, it releases a tiny amount of heat, which keeps the plant above freezing temperature as long as the ice stays wet. If it gets dry, for example if a breeze springs up, the plant will be damaged badly. You have to keep the water running till the sun comes up, to prevent damage. It was very interesting to see this in action!


I harvested about half our pumpkins that afternoon. My three littlest had fun helping me haul them around and wash them. Then, they ran across them!



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Little Miss in April

We sure are enjoying this little girl! She is pure fun most of the time.

She loves her pink gumboots!

She loves her pink gumboots!

She loves to help with jobs. Here, she's helping Mr. Handyman vacuum the floor.

She loves to help with jobs. Here, she’s helping Mr. Handyman vacuum the floor.

Mr. Handyman was mowing lawn, and outfitted Little Miss and Mr. Sweetie with ear protection.

Mr. Handyman was mowing lawn, and outfitted Little Miss and Mr. Sweetie with ear protection.


A table just the right size! She was hungry, so I gave her a snack.

A table just the right size! She was hungry, so I gave her a snack.

All dressed up, on the way to church.

All dressed up, on the way to church. That’s Mr. Inventor behind her.

Helping with dishes.

Helping with dishes.

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What We’re Reading Aloud Right Now

Just for fun, I’m going to write a quick post about what we’re reading aloud right now. As usual, there are a lot of books on the go in our house!11-IMG_3381

We start the day by reading a lesson from a CLE Bible Lightunit. We’re currently using their Elementary Elective Bible course, and are in Lightunit 5, which is the last of this series of an overview of the New Testament. It took us through the book of Acts, and now we’re studying the epistles. I forgot about that one when I took the picture!

For the past year and a half, we’ve been reading about world history. We’ve made it as far as the beginning of the Rennaisance/Reformation era! We’re reading The World of Columbus and Sons; Esther and I think it’s fascinating but the boys are bored. Following that, which is our main history for the day, we’re reading If All the Swords in England, about Henry II (I think) and Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered in his church because he supported the Church above the king. This is a very well-written, factually based story, told from the point of view of a pair of twins, boys who worked for the king and the archbishop. This book actually takes place 300 years before Columbus, but we’ve only recently acquired it, so I stuck it in here. And that takes care of the morning round of reading!

After lunch, we start in reading again, while the dishes are being washed. I focus more on the younger boys here, and the older ones are free to leave if they don’t have a job. They all love Wedding Bells Ahead, though! Even Esther wants to hear this one, the 7th in the Grandma’s Attic series. We can’t wait to find out what happens next in this true story of life in Michigan in the 1880s. I just started reading All on a Mountain Day to Mr. Sweetie a few days ago. It is a series of stories about the animals who live on a mountain side in the Rocky Mountains, and what each was doing one afternoon as they interacted with each other. I’m also reading him a few pages each day from Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, which is great, and a chapter of I Heard Good News Today, missionary stories from around the world.

Several evenings a week, we have time for a family story time after supper while the dishes are being washed again. I look for a book that everyone, including Daddy, will enjoy. Sometimes that’s not easy, but they are all loving Ten P’s in a Pod, and we are finding it quite challenging. It is the story, told by one of the 8 Pent children, of a family who traveled the United States and Canada sharing the Gospel and encouraging people to read the Bible. And here’s a little funny about this book. One evening I started reading, and Mr. Imagination came over and raised his hand for permission to ask a question. His observation? “That was a big pod!”

Besides all these, I have three–no, four–books going for myself at the moment! I try to write several book reviews for Esther each week, so have to read to be able to do that!

Would anyone be interested in a post like this occasionally? I know I like to read about what other people are reading, sometimes.

Disclaimer: The links in this post are affiliate links. They aren’t actually mine; I asked Esther to supply them, so if you buy a book through these links you’re helping to support her website.


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March 2016 Photos

Time to share the rest of the pictures from March. I think they’ve aged long enough now. More to the point, life is starting to slow down just a bit for the winter. Not that it ever slows down much, but anyway…. I think all I have left to process is apples for apple butter, and tomatoes. I need to pick tomatoes tomorrow, and see what the chickens who won’t stay out of the garden have left for us.

Little Miss loved corn--at first. She got tired of it after awhile.

Little Miss loved corn–at first. She got tired of it after awhile.

Feeling like a big person, with a pear in front of her at the table!

Feeling like a big person, with a pear in front of her at the table!

Mr. Imagination using his "smart phone" to find the right motorbike to buy.

Mr. Imagination using his “smart phone” to find the right motorbike to buy. This “smart phone” was a piece of cardboard, but he was enthralled with it. It was hilarious to watch him swiping with his thumbs!

Puzzling over something on his "smart phone".

Puzzling over something on his “smart phone”.

Looking sideways at the rest of us, who were trying not to crack up about him using his "smart phone".

Looking sideways at the rest of us, who were trying not to crack up about him using his “smart phone”.

Baby hedgehog.

Baby hedgehog.

We saw four baby hedgehogs one afternoon in the yard. Unfortunately, they've been found stealing eggs from us.

We saw four baby hedgehogs one afternoon in the yard. Unfortunately, they’ve been found stealing eggs from us.

Lego creations

Lego creations

My three youngest, all diligently doing school together!

My three youngest, all diligently doing school together! Little Miss loves to write in books. I try to make sure there is a book handy during school that she can write in like everyone else.

This is one of the biggest bumblebees we've ever seen.

This is one of the biggest bumblebees we’ve ever seen.

Little Miss posing in front of someone's geometric design.

Little Miss posing in front of someone’s geometric design. That whiteboard gets a lot of use!

Yummy corn!

Yummy corn!


Playing a game on Esther's new smart phone. No, this doesn't happen very often at all.

Playing a game on Esther’s new smart phone. No, this doesn’t happen very often at all.

Mr. Imagination wants to dictate a story for Grandma.

“One time, me and J goed up in a tree. Then we goed up in another tree. Then I got stuck. Then I climbed up some more. Then I got stuck again. And then I climbed up some more and then I got up to the top. I climbed down. There were these strange marching sounds and here came Ja, marching, and here came S, and E, and M, walking. And everyone came and didn’t see N. And then, J came down and then all the people was gone. And then I climbed down the rest. And then I heard some more marching sounds. And then I climbed up to the top and then there was these bad marching sounds and here came a blackbird, marching. I came forward and caught it and I ate it for my supper. The end.” (I’ve changed the names to just initials.)

And, he has another story:”One time, J and Ja goed up the tall tree, which I could touch the top of. And then, I goed up the top of the tree and then I fell down and I broke my neckbone and I climbed up again and I tried not to break my neckbone and then I broke it again. And then I goed down to the creek and then I saw a frog jump up. It was big and I ate it for my supper. The end.”

And another: “One time, me and J goed up to the top of the big tree, which I could touch the top of. I climbed up and I hit my climber bone and then I fell down and I broke my knucklebone and then J came down and then I just went and touched the top of the tree. And then a snake came and then I killed it. And a squirrel came after the snake and the squirrel ate the snake all up. Then another snake came as I was going to the house and I killed it by stepping on it. I speared it. Then I chopped its head off and it wiggled and I chopped another piece of it off and then it wiggled again and I picked it up and I chopped it again and I set it down and ran off to the house. The end.”

By the way, all three stories are purely imaginary. This four-year-old has never broken a bone, or seen a snake or a squirrel, and he rarely climbs a tree. He’s awfully cute, though!

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I started this post over a week ago. All I had to do was add a little more text with the pictures. I didn’t have time to finish that night, so saved it in the program I like to write blog posts in. The next evening, my computer…crashed. Esther spent most of the next day trying to fix it and finally gave up. Thankfully, I paid for an extended warranty when I bought the computer, so it was picked up here at home and taken to Auckland, where, hopefully, it will be repaired and sent back! And I’m also thankful that I had done a complete backup in February. Hopefully, I remembered all the things I had added since then that I needed! Esther was able to start the computer in safe mode long enough to save some essential folders that I use every week. However, the draft I started for this post got lost.

You may be wondering how I’m able to still be online? Well, God provided long ago already. Back in October, Mr. Inventor, whose favorite place to go is the dump at the end of the road, brought an old laptop home from there. It wouldn’t start up, but Esther figured out how to reset it to factory settings and it worked! He mostly uses it for listening to audiobooks, but when my computer crashed I asked if I can borrow it for a little while. He was willing to loan it to me, so I’m still able to write. It took me a couple of days to install the programs I really needed (most were built for Windows 7, 8, or 10 and not for Vista!), but I’m back in business for now.

So, here are pictures from our trip to Timaru about five weeks ago. We thoroughly enjoyed the Easter conference again. I didn’t get a lot out of the messages, because I was constantly dealing with a wiggly little girl who does not like church AT ALL, but came away feeling very refreshed from being with God’s people for an entire weekend. Thank you to those who made the weekend possible, if you read this!

Inside the hall.

Inside the hall.

The outside of Andrew Street Chapel, where the conference was held.

The outside of Andrew Street Chapel, where the conference was held.

On Saturday, there was only one meeting, at 3:30 in the afternoon, so in the morning we went to a nearby beach and walked to a lighthouse. What a beautiful walk!

I was intrigued by the waves coming from both directions and swirling together at this point.

I was intrigued by the waves coming from both directions and swirling together at this point.

2-IMG_3187 3-IMG_3190On our way home on Easter Monday after the conference, we stopped to visit a friend in Geraldine. He raises carnivorous plants in two greenhouses in his backyard. I was not prepared for the sight that met us when we stepped inside! I had never imagined such a variety in pitcher plants–these photos don’t do justice to his collection.

Here are some Venus Fly Traps and Sundews.

Here are some Venus Fly Traps and Sundews.

These are just a few of the many varieties of pitcher plants he has.

These are just a few of the many varieties of pitcher plants he has.

We spent an hour looking at and learning about the plants–absolutely fascinating!

And now, I’ve spent over half an hour writing this post, including figuring out how to set up Picassa to resize pictures. I had it set up on my computer, but of course had to reset it on this one! And, when mine comes back I get to start all over again. The joys of technology.

Oh, and in between, I’ve rescued two kittens multiple times when a little girl brought them over to me, dangling them by a leg, or a bit of their back, or…. She adores them, but they haven’t yet learned to run from her.

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Book Review–Sweet On You by Chautona Havig

For the third time now, I’ve been invited to read one of Chautona Havig’s books before publication and help her to launch it! What fun. She is one of my favorite authors; I haven’t been disappointed with any of her books that I’ve read.13087624_1162523900465209_6338254437451990389_n

Here is my review, which will be here until it publishes on Esther’s website:

I discovered one of Chautona Havig’s books a couple of years ago, and loved it, but didn’t read any of her others till about a year ago. Once I got started, however, I was hooked. I love her books! Most of them are fairly light, easy reads, but they all make you think. She has a knack for showing how Christians should live in the form of a gripping story. Her books are not preachy, but very definitely portray people living out their faith in Jesus.

Sweet On You is a little different from a lot of this author’s books. The main character is Madeline Brown, a young lady in a midwestern city sometime around 1901. She knows what society demands of young ladies, and what her aunt’s expectations are. She also knows that if she oversteps conventions she’ll harm her father’s political career. Therefore, she will not join the suffragettes or the temperance movement. However, she can’t stand to just sit at home and do nothing!

One evening, when Madeline is at a party at her friend’s house, she notices that Edith is receiving special attention from a man new to the city. Then, she notices something strange. She starts wondering about Vernon—and ends up finding herself becoming a detective!

I loved reading Sweet On You and watching Madeline investigate clues around the city while trying not to shock her aunt too much. Of course, I was fairly sure what the outcome of the investigation would be long before Madeline arrived at a conclusion, but it was quite intriguing to watch her using the resources at her disposal to learn the truth. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and seeing Madeline’s growth, not only as a sleuth, but also as a Christian. Her faith seems to be very shallow in this book, not at all like most of the author’s characters. There are a couple of friends of Madeline’s who seem to have a very strong faith in God, and Madeline considers them to be fanatics—I will be very interested to see what Havig does with her in the sequel! I can’t wait to read the next book, especially with the cliff-hanger with which this one ended. There are supposed to be six books in the series eventually.

I enjoyed the vocabulary used in this story as well. Havig did a lot of research into the way people talked and wrote around 1900, and her characters consistently use appropriate language. Another thing I found interesting was the way people thought about new inventions that were just coming into use—their reactions seemed quite natural. I highly recommend Sweet On You if you are looking for light, inspiring reading.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. You can buy it, in  Kindle format, here. Edited to add: I forgot to mention this at first, but if you buy the book this first week, you can get a free bonus short story about one of the minor characters in the book. Find the details here.

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Book Review—Miriam by Mesu Andrews

I’ve seen mentions several times online, lately, about Miriam, a new novel by Mesu Andrews. The reviews I saw sounded pretty intriguing. They said that Andrews had done extensive research, both in the Bible and in history, to try to flesh out the story of Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses. I finally grew so interested that I looked on a few sites to try to find a copy of this book that I could get for review. It turned out to be every bit as interesting as had been promised.9781601426017

In this story, Miriam is 86 years old, a retired midwife but still a sough-for healer when her people are mistreated by the Egyptian overseers. She is also a prophetess, the only person to whom El Shaddai reveals Himself. When Pharoah has a pair of terrible dreams, and desperately needs someone to interpret, Miriam’s nephew Eleazar, bodyguard to one of Pharoah Ramesses’ firstborn sons, rashly mentions that Miriam can interpret dreams. When she goes to court to give the interpretation, she ends up putting the whole family in danger. This danger only gets worse as Moses returns from his 40 years of exile in Midian with unwelcome ultimatums for Pharoah.

Throughout the story of the plagues of Egypt is woven a love story—actually, two of them. The main focus of the book is the Biblical account, but the love story helps to carry the whole story forward and adds a bit of tension. I was quite intrigued by the insights into Miriam’s life, and had to stop and think about a number of things—is this really supported by the Bible, or not? Amazingly, some of the most incredible things were. I could not find any details that contradicted Scripture.

I really liked the way Andrews described the plagues. She brought to life very vividly the absolute terror of the people of Egypt, both Egyptians and Hebrews. The sense of wonder and awe when God made a difference between His people and the Egyptians came through vividly, as well. I also enjoyed watching as the Hebrews learned to know and love the God they had totally lost track of during their time in Egypt as slaves.

If you enjoy historical novels as much as I do, you will enjoy Miriam. I appreciated that, even though it includes a romance, there are no explicit descriptions of kisses or other physical relationships. I expected to find scenes I didn’t like in the book, but was pleasantly surprised to find it clean. And, I was pleased that the romances were a secondary part of the book; the most of the book is about the conflict between Moses and the Hebrews on the one hand, and Pharoah and the Egyptians on the other hand. The romances are basically a vehicle to carry the story on. Another facet of the story which I found fascinating was the perception of God and the way He revealed Himself to His people.

WARNING: There is some killing and a few beatings are described.

You can buy the book here. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Yesterday we spent the day in the city, with a couple of appointments and shopping for Mr. Inventor’s next project: making a large trailer. He needed gas for his MIG welder, and steel for the frame of the trailer. I had told him I was not going to try to help him figure that out, so Gayle took the day off work (yay! We ought to come up with excuses like that more often!) and went with us. On the way home in the evening, we had been invited to a friend’s house for tea. After she extended the invitation, she realized that yesterday was Passover. Their family celebrates the Christian Passover, so she invited us to join them for that instead of just an ordinary meal. What an interesting experience! I was awed at the way the Jewish customs, which are not detailed in the Bible, point so directly to Jesus. It made for a late night getting home, but was very worthwhile.

Today, then, I was very tired, and after a short nap this afternoon I finally got to the kitchen again to try to get something done. I was feeling like I hadn’t done anything yet today—and then looked around and decided to take pictures of all the projects that were underway. Nice to know that I have done something, after all!

I’m making a batch of cheese—and seeing this picture reminds me that I need to check it!


I put chicken legs and a large pumpkin in the coal range oven this morning. This is my favorite version of a slow-cooker—nearly free, and the water is heated at the same time!


Bread is now baked; we were totally out.


We butchered a turkey, two roosters, and two ducks this morning, when I saw a couple of turkeys in the garden one-too-many times. The turkey was the size of the roosters, but will give us a meal (I plan to roast it in the coal range in a couple of days; if I put meat in early, then let the fire go out after about six hours, it’s just right for dinner.)


I finished the chicken broth that I started several days ago, after we butchered 13 chickens.


Mr. Imagination wanted juice, so I helped him make some apple/carrot juice.


We’re also enjoying two new babies! We brought these kittens home last night; the family who fed us the Passover supper had six to choose from. I chose the black one; her name is Linda. Mr. Inventor chose the tabby; his name is Leif. They are so much fun! 5-IMG_3305

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February Garden

The garden is now looking pretty sad, after drying out with six more weeks of no rain, a howling wind one day that sucked the moisture right out of the leaves, and then a frost, but it was gorgeous in February. For once, I got a few pictures of it near the peak. Mr. Intellectual grew this beautiful sunflower.03-IMG_2945

The pumpkins from two gardens grew toward each other. Just after they met, though, we decided we needed a path between them to the gate at the far end, so we redirected the vines to keep it open in the middle.17-IMG_2987

For a little while, it felt almost like a tsunami spilling out of the garden! The pumpkins and zucchini were trying their best to take over the world. The frost has nearly finished them off by now, though.


We left the onions lay out to dry for a little while. We have enough for a few months!


Mr. Imagination frequently checked on the pumpkins, looking for large ones. I scratched his initials into a few of them.


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