The Two Littlest

Mr. Imagination woke up early one morning, but by 7:00 he was asleep again on my chair!IMG_2671

She did it! Little Miss figured out how to get a cloth over her head. She worked on that trick for a long time.


One morning after a rain, Little Miss found a puddle just her size and had fun stepping in it.


She also thought it was fun washing her hands and feet in the milk in the cat dish. Mom was not impressed (and neither was the cat!).


Little Miss is a Daddy’s girl! She wants to be with Daddy whenever she can be. Just before I took this picture, I saw her standing there with her hand on his back, watching intently.


Mr. Sweetie took this one.


Everyone likes to play with Little Miss. One evening, she was “throwing” a ball and chasing it, to the great delight of everyone. Another time, Mr. Handyman brought her into the house in a bucket. She frequently gets bucket rides. This picture with a ball was taken on her birthday.


Mr. Imagination didn’t finish his breakfast, a pancake with applesauce, cut up into bite-sized pieces. Little Miss found it and ate about half, then scattered the rest across the floor.


Mr. Imagination found this dress in the closet one day and badly wanted Little Miss to wear it. The boys love seeing her dressed in really girly clothes.


While I was shelling peas one day, Mr. Sweetie got the camera and took some pictures of the two little ones. This is what I was enjoying watching while I shelled the peas.


That turkey is as big as she is! Mr. Inventor thought it was pretty cute to see her investigating the turkeys. He said she walked right up to them.


While we were eating outside where it was cooler one evening, she stuck her foot in Daddy’s plate. That wasn’t what she wanted to do!


One day, she spent half an hour or more sitting on this box, playing with her empty pill bottle and one or two other things.


After I emptied a jar of yogurt, she took it and the spoon and cleaned out more!


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January Garden

The garden is doing splendidly! My boys have been a great help again this year. We’ve picked cabbage twice; this is the first harvest—30 heads! We made 110 pounds of sourkraut that day, more than we need for the year. It took only about 4 hours from picking the cabbage to finishing the cleanup.


Another day I picked a bushel and a half of peas. It was a lovely day to sit under a tree to shell them.


Little Miss loves to eat peas!


Mr. Intellectual has his own beautiful garden at the edge of the big garden. Here is Mr. Imagination showing the size of his brother’s sunflowers and corn.


This is our corn and pumpkins, with cabbage just beyond, and potatoes on the other side of that.


Little Miss likes zucchini, too!


Mr. Intellectual has been harvesting dandelion roots as well, and making them into “coffee”. He looked up directions and figured out how to roast them. Yum!


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Breakfast on the Go, and links

We went to town a couple of days ago. Going to town, meaning the nearest city to us, is an all-day affair. We have nearly an hour and a half drive to get there, so we try to leave early in order to get everything done that we have to do and get home before too late in the evening. We usually eat breakfast on the road on those days, and the current favorite breakfast-on-the-go is egg sandwiches.

We start by scrambling eggs; we ask each person how many eggs he wants and scramble the total, with salt and pepper. Then, take a piece of bread for each egg and spread it with mayonnaise (we make our own). Put about one scrambled egg on the bread, and top with a thin slice of cheese. Put it under the broiler or in a hot oven for a few minutes, just long enough to melt the cheese.

We usually do all that the night before, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, we pull them out and put them on baking trays again, then reheat just a little while. For my share, because I feel better if I eat Trim Healthy Mama-style, I make my own bread substitute. I grind 2 Tablespoons dried coconut and 1 Tablespoon flax seeds in the coffee grinder, add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt, and stir in one egg. I put a piece of baking paper on a small tray and bake in the toaster oven for 6-7 minutes. You can also cook in a microwave for 1-2 minutes, but I like it better baked. IMG_2917

Esther has posted on her blog several days this week, and I love the pictures she has posted. For some really great pictures of our boys, please go here and here and here and here and here and here.

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Book Review–Jack

I discovered Chautona Havig’s books about a year ago, when I read Ready or Not for the second time. After reading the next two books in that series a few months later, I was hooked. When she asked for people to help her launch new books, last September, I immediately volunteered. Jack is the second one I’ve been able to read before publication. Today is the release date! If, after reading my review, you think you might ever want to read the book, buy it within the next few days and you can get a bonus story, which I’m looking forward to reading myself. Buy it here; to get the bonus story go here.


And, without further ado, here is my review, which, as with other reviews I post her will be taken down when it publishes on Esther’s website.

For the past year, I’ve been enjoying Chautona Havig’s books. When I had the chance a few months ago to sign up to help her launch new books, I took it—it means I get to read them for free before they are published! I probably would never have read Jack otherwise; I’m really not into cowboy stories. However, I found myself enjoying this one, as I have her other books that I’ve read.

Jack is based on a cowboy ballad that Chautona’s father sang when she was a young girl. In the ballad, a lonely cowboy fell in love with a girl, and then they had a quarrel. He rode off in a huff, but eventually forgave her and came back—to find her dead and buried. Chautona took that story, and added in elements from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. I have neither read nor watched that, so don’t know what inspirations came from it, but I do know this—there was much ado in Jack over what proved to be virtually nothing!

As the story opens, Jack rides into town with a herd of cattle, and catches the attention of the banker’s daughter, Hazel. They meet again that evening at a dance, and over the course of the next few months keep finding themselves together. As they, and a few other people, conspire to slyly convince Hazel’s sharp-tongued cousin Deborah and Jack’s friend and fellow cowboy Dirk that each is loved by the other, they find themselves in love. There is an enemy, however, doing his best to cause trouble.

I had a bit of trouble getting into the story at first. I’m really not sure if it was the story itself or the fact that I was so busy when I first got it, but once I got nearly halfway through I couldn’t put it down. I really loved a few chapters around the halfway mark about the bumbling sheriff. I was kind of glad no one else happened to be in the house at the time, because I was laughing so hard I nearly cried—and I didn’t want to slow down reading in order to explain what was so funny!

I won’t give away the ending, but it took me by surprise. All the way through, I expected one ending, and when it turned out quite differently I was left reeling for a bit.

One thing I always appreciate about Chautona’s books is the cleanness. There is never any language I’m not comfortable with—not even a hint of bad language. The romance is also extremely clean. Occasionally there will be a mention of a kiss, but she does not describe it in detail, and never goes into a bedroom with her characters. I love knowing that I don’t have to be on guard with these books! The bits of wisdom sprinkled throughout the story are great, as well. You will be left with a lot to consider about forgiveness after reading the story of Jack and Hazel. One of my favorite passages is where Hazel’s father is talking to her about Jack courting her. He says, “I just want you to walk into a marriage with any man with open eyes free of starry blindness. Every man has his flaws. You need to make certain that you can live with the flaws in the man you give your heart to.” Another passage I especially appreciated was Hazel’s father speaking to his wife, who did not appreciate Jack. He said, “But is what you want for her more important than what she wants for herself—what the Lord wants for her? Are our dreams for our children to supersede their hopes and dreams?”

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

WARNING: Jack’s employer has a brother who hates him and plots against him; at one point a man is shot dead in the saloon.

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Videos of Little Miss

Little Miss has some brothers that love her. She is also becoming quite a chatterbox. It’s really hard to record her talking, because when she sees the camera she quits. I did manage to get this clip from behind. Looks like Mr. Imagination wanted in on the video, as well! In the second one, we had leftover whipped cream from a special treat one evening (waffles served with cherry pie filling and whipped cream), so Mr. Diligence fed some of it to her while he cleaned out the cup.


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For a number of years, from 1986 when I was 11, until 1990, when I was 16, I wrote and printed a small family newspaper, called The Starr-Hill Gazette. Actually, I wrote the news items, and begged family and friends for other stories. I got the folder of those papers out one evening last week so I could find one I especially remembered, and we had fun reading bits from them. Here is the one I was looking for, written by my mother:


Neighbor Mike makes his living moving and setting up mobile homes. Apparently he had a rough day recently….

Mike’s brother-in-law Dan was moving, home and all, and Mike was helping with the move. The mobile home had an addition which needed to be removed, so Mike used Dan’s saw to cut it away. The saw burnt out. “Cheap saw,” said Dan. “Oh, well.”

There was a gas line to disconnect. Mike gave the fitting a turn. Easy! He pulled off the wrench and went for another turn. The jaws of the wrench fell off in his hand. A brand new wrench. “Cheap wrench,” said Dan. “Oh, well.”

Time to jack up the mobile home. “I’ll go close the door so it doesn’t get caught on the way up,” said Dan.

“Ready?” asked Mike.

“No,” came the reply. Sounded like “Go.” Mike started to jack.

Once. Twice. Moving nicely! Three, four…crunch. Five, creak, crunch, “Whoa!!” Sounded like, “Go!” Six, crunch. “Whoa, whoa! STOP!”

“What happened?” inquired Mike.

“You’ve got to come and see this!” was the reply.

Mike went. The door had been open. It had caught under the roof of the addition. It was, to put it mildly, warped. Oops. Mike let the jack down again. The door straightened out! “Cheap door,” said Dan.

Apparently the rest of the move went without mishap, but we were roaring too loudly to actually hear the conclusion. After awhile, everyone subsided. Mike picked up his cup of coffee. He leaped up from his chair. The handle of the cup was all that he had in his hand. The coffee was all over him.

“Cheap cup,” someone said.IMG_2843

(Names have been changed to protect privacy, but this is a true story. The picture shows how the cup broke.)

One of my sisters drew comics for several issues. This is the funniest one I came across the other evening:IMG_2719

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This Afternoon and Last Night

It’s pretty hot today, so I’m letting my little people cool off with water. They would love to go to a swimming pool, but the big boys are all at work so I’m giving them the next best: cold water in a bathtub, with a plastic tub for Little Miss. This is when I really like having a laptop, so I can watch them while still getting something done! This is what I see as I write this:



When I went outside last evening to take a few pictures for the post I did featuring the garden, I got to enjoy a brilliant double rainbow. It was much more beautiful than these pictures show.


This is one of this year’s experiments. Right after we planted the tomatoes, I had broccoli and cauliflower that also needed planted, but didn’t have any space for them. I put some between rows of tomatoes. A chicken ate most of them while they were tiny, but some of the broccoli survived. It’s getting taken over by tomatoes by now, but I noticed that some are starting to form heads!


The sunset was gorgeous, and I always enjoy seeing the Indian Runner ducks running in single file across the paddock. The geese were pretty active, too, but the turkeys were going to bed. It was dark enough that my camera flashed, and in this picture, the second one I took, they were getting nervous.


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Tonight’s Shopping Trip, and Frost Recovery

I had great fun cooking dinner tonight. My first step was to make a shopping trip. I walked through the garden collecting ingredients to put with some cooked lamb I had in the fridge, to make a delicious stew. This was what Mr. Diligent and I picked in a few minutes:IMG_2801

I love this time of year! We eat so well.

Our late frost was five weeks ago already. The zucchinis are completely recovered; within three weeks they were the size they had been before that frost. The tomatoes, on the other hand, while they are the same size again, have really been knocked back. They are finally blooming again now, but I’m afraid we won’t get much of a crop. Here are pictures of the same zucchini plant and the same tomato plant, the day of the frost, three weeks later, and tonight.IMG_2532






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One Year Old!

Little Miss turned one yesterday. She didn’t seem to care one way or the other, but we are having a hard time believing we’ve already had her that long. We don’t do much of anything for a first birthday, but some of her brothers wanted to give her gifts. Mr. Imagination was sadly wanting to know what he could give her, so I suggested he pick a few peas in the garden and shell them for her. He happily did so, and they shared a bowl of raw peas! Here are the pictures we’ve taken of our precious little girl over the past month.

One evening when everyone else was away, she checked out the lawn mower, then went to investigate the ducks.


This was when she had just learned to walk and was thrilled to be able to transport things. She must have decided I needed the nearly-empty jug of molasses for the cow in the house, so she threw it in the door.


Here she was absolutely thrilled to have figured out how to climb the stepstool. Don’t ask how many times she’s fallen off by now when we forgot to turn it over!


One rainy day, her daddy and brothers rigged up a swing in the living room for her. She loved that!


Thrilled again to find a way to the top of the stool!


A family with seven children spent a day with us right after Christmas. The two babies started playing together late in the afternoon. We loved watching them “working” together with this toy computer!


She spent a couple of weeks playing with towels and washcloths and Mr. Imagination’s neon-green shirt, trying to get them onto her head. It takes a lot of work and concentration to accomplish that goal! Once she figured out how, she quit doing it!IMG_2669IMG_2676

It rained! She found a puddle just her size.


Another puddle! She likes to “wash” her feet and hands in the cat dish. I have to push it way back under the grill if the cat is to get any milk.


The faces she makes!


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Memories of My Dad

I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He died of cancer 16 years ago, just before Christmas. While he wasn’t perfect, as none of us are, I feel very blessed to have had him for a father—and am very sad that my children haven’t had the opportunity to know him. I thought I’d share just a few of my memories of him here. This picture is of one of Dad’s favorite flowers, which he called a “pink”. (His other favorite flower was the black-eyed Susan.) When we stopped on our way home from church two weeks ago to pick cherries, there was a patch of these tiny pink flowers beside the van when I got out, and it made me think of Dad.IMG_2631

One thing I really remember about growing up is the sheer number of people who passed through our home. I’ve been reading my diaries from my teenage years lately, and one year I circled, on a pocket-size calendar, every day that we either went somewhere or someone came to see us. Some months had every day circled, and all had nearly every day circled!  A story I remember clearly illustrates the kind of life we led.

Our manure spreader had broken down one fall, and Dad really needed another one, quickly, but as always there was very little money available. He and Mom went up to their bedroom to pray about the problem. As they were praying, a semi pulled up at the side of the road by our driveway and the driver walked up to the house. It turned out that he was a friend of one of our friends and wanted to meet Dad. In the course of the conversation, our need of a manure spreader was mentioned, and he said he knew of one that was for sale. Within a day or two, we had exactly what we needed!

I also remember Dad’s five-minute vacations. Pardon the mention of more manure, but when you have cows you have to deal with the stuff. He cleaned the gutters by hand every day during the winter, scooping the waste from 18 cows into a wheelbarrow, then taking it out the back door of the barn and dumping it off the edge of the hill into a pit. In the spring he would spread it on the fields. I remember him standing out there on the edge, just taking time to admire the sun setting in the west. That was his vacation for the day.

Dad was raised in the city, and moved to the country when he was 25. He claimed that he retired at that age and never worked another day in his life! Of course, he worked harder physically than he had ever worked before, but it goes to show what a difference attitude makes.

One thing I inherited from Dad is my love of history. I used to love discussing history with him.

Dad used to read us bedtime stories. He liked to add in sound effects (and sometimes would even stop reading and ask for sound effects!), or sing, rather than reading, the songs that were quoted. One story we read said something like, “They heard the crunch of gravel outside. ‘Who’s eating our driveway?’ so-and-so asked.” Another story had a girl say, “By the way people were dressed at church yesterday (they had just moved to a new community) they are poor.” He read it as, “By the way, people were dressed at church yesterday!” We loved his reading.

What stands out the most from Dad’s life was his love of God. That love radiated out of him to others. We often marveled at how complete strangers would end up telling Dad their life stories within a few minutes of meeting him. He was a good listener and had a way of asking penetrating (and sometimes uncomfortable!) questions.

Dad was a slow reader, but what he read he remembered. He did a lot of writing, mostly articles for the church paper. He would write them by hand, and then Mom would type them for him. One of my treasured possessions is a collection of his writings that she typed and copied for each of us children.

Dad was more than head over heels in love with Mom. He had his own terms of endearment for her. She was the “Beauty Spot of West Michigan,” the “Mother of Multitudes” (there were eight of us), and “Pretty as a Peach Pit.” One morning on our way to church, he suddenly remembered he hadn’t had his morning kiss, so he pulled over on the side of the road for a kiss. I could still show you the spot!

We never had new vehicles. One station wagon was rusty enough that he would hand a piece to a visitor, casually offering him a souvenir of his visit! A truck had a handy apple-core disposal hole beside the driver’s seat. These vehicles got us around most of the time, though. A joke in our house was that if he saw someone stealing our truck he’d run over and tell the person he was welcome to it–but give a long list of things you had to know in order to make it work!

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