Friday, May 29, 2009


Today we woke up, opened the windows, and saw cattle grazing on the front lawn of the Marriott. Yep--it's Texas! Pictures tomorrow; I neglected to get them today.

We hit WalMart. We always hit the hot spots on vacation. I had my nails done; toes and fingers! Mary did, too. She got flowers on hers. I did not. We also picked up things for breakfast. $9.95 for breakfast buffet is way overpriced when you're a cereal and fruit family!

Lunch was at Johnny Carino's. 25 of us ate lunch! It was a fun reunion.

Tonight was fajita buffet at an outdoor restaurant, swimming for the kids and the hotel bar for the moms and dads. The buffet was the rehearsal dinner. Across the patio John saw a face and said, "That looks a lot like Scott," a guy we know from our church. I said, "That's because it is Scott." He'd been invited by the groom. So we said hi and confused a few people who couldn't figure out how we knew each other.

Don't worry about us. We're eating and drinking more than we should!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Leaving, On a Jet Plane

I will be heading out tomorrow night, to be belted into a thin, metal tube and flung through the air. A friend's son (who is also a friend)(as is his intended)(what do we say when they ask, "Friend of the bride, or the groom?")(I digress) is getting married in Dallas or Fort Worth (I can never tell the difference) and we are tickled to have been invited. Their wedding gift is on the way, and so are we.

I don't know if I'll be blogging. I probably will, but the laptop may stay home this time. Ethan watched far too many movies on my battery, and it really needs to be plugged in now, in order to work.

Who am I kidding? Laptop will be coming along.

Have a good weekend! I intend to!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Changeless Warriors

This weekend, our synod put an emphasis on those who serve in the military. Because our congregation's associate pastor is a military chaplain with the Reserves, some information was shared that I am passing along to you.

**The LCMS has 71 active duty military chaplains. Another 96 chaplains serve Reserve and National Guard units. Currently, 8 chaplains are in Iraq or Afghanistan, including 4 Reserve chaplains mobilized from their parishes. We also endorse 23 Veterans Administration chaplains, 25 Civil Air Patrol and 5 chaplains for Federal Bureau of Prison ministry. In addition, we have 12 Reserve/Guard chaplains mobilized and serving in the United States.

**In addition to recruiting, training and endorsing chaplains, the Ministry to the Armed Forces (MAF) office orders Ministry-By-mail support to 6,000 Lutheran military personnel and their families stationed throughout the world. Please send military contact information to

**A special endowment exists to enable our chaplains to complete the Doctor on Ministry degree with Military Concentration and sharpen their Gospel proclamation skills.

**Designated funds support Operation Barnabas, which provides assistance to returning chaplains and military personnel in re-adjusting to their life after military deployment.

**You can find helpful information and materials on the LCMS World Mission site at

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Our small town has an annual observance of Memorial Day that we habitually attend. The American Legion post, the Boy Scouts and the high school marching band lead a short parade from the fire station to the town cemetery, where a wreath is laid on a monument to Abraham Lincoln and the soldiers who fell during the Civil War.

This year, our two older boys marched with the American Legion, of which Jay was recently elected Sergeant-At-Arms. Matthew helped with the laying of the wreath, (I wish I could figure out why the video of that would not download) and Jay was in the honor guard/rifle salute. It's always a touching morning, but, this year...well, I really enjoyed seeing my boys be thanked for what they've done for this country.

This is what always chokes me up. Not the American flag, although that's a close second. It's the hay wagon with the "old soldiers," those who can't walk the parade route anymore. -sniff-

There they are; on the left, in their ACUs.

I wish I had a dollar for every person who looked at their nametapes and said, "Uh...are you two brothers?"

Our chaplain-pastor was in "dad uniform" today.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"As many as an estimated nine out of ten children with Down Syndrome are aborted in the womb, sought out by increasingly sophisticated prenatal tests and eliminated as too flawed, too burdensome, too different to live. This is the ugly eugenic underbelly of American life, even as we congratulate ourselves on our tolerance and diversity."

Rich Lowry, columnist

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Report

Another Saturday. Pretty pathetic. I talked to a few people this morning, and it seems everyone has Memorial Day plans except us. We'll smoke a brisket tomorrow, and head over to the Memorial Day observance on Monday. Otherwise, it's fencing and farm things. Maybe I'll get the garden in...

Today Mary is again taking Wakiya to the "beach." This time my horse, Hope, tagged along. Now Hope, in general, dislikes water. She hates getting her little feeties wet, and taking her through any wet ground Today is warm, though, and that may have made a difference. She went into the pond. Mary led her, but she went in. We were a little nervous because Wakiya followed her of her own accord. That left Mary in the water with two 1100+ pound animals. She handled it well, though.

For her part, Wakiya was very accommodating. She gave Hope lessons in water fun!

Hope responded by swimming further in and then getting up on shore. No video for that; Mary was concerned, and I put down the camera, just. In. Case. Which means I missed a cute shot of Wakiya rolling in the pond. But that's OK; just as she finished, Hope, um, well, what she did would have closed down a public swimming pool, if you get my drift. You didn't want to see that, did you?

But she stayed in and practiced the lesson Wakiya had taught her, adding some of her own water fun, too.

But enough was enough for her, as you saw. She headed out and Mary and Wakiya returned. Here are the bathing beauties;

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Fun, including Furlough and Farm and Fleet!

John is home today. This is one of those furlough days; he doesn't go to work, and doesn't get paid, either. We're doing farm stuff today.

We began our day with a walk and a talk with our neighbors. Marty and Nicole are both Air Force Reservists, and both just returned from separate deployments. It's good to see them up on the hill, and to see their For Sale sign come down! No, they didn't sell! That's the good part. We would miss them.

UPS pulled in shortly before we headed out to Farm and Fleet. A package arrived from Lodge. It had no packing slip or any other identification, so I called Lodge to see if they could tell me who had sent it. Mary said it was one of my stalkers; she was right! As I waited, I checked the mailing label again. Seeing that the sender had used my legal name, and since I knew only one person in the world (besides the IRS) calls me by my name, I realized my dad had sent me the deep skillet that has been on my wish list for some time now. Thanks, Papa!

And since I picked up Four Season Harvest this afternoon, it seems that all my wishes have been fulfilled! Oh, wait. There's that "touch of sanity" thing.

We've moved the pigs to new digs today; they'll be excavating the cowshed for a couple of weeks. John and Matthew have started on the fencing for the horse pasture. Mary did some dishes. I have been mowing the lawn. It's time for a coffee break!

Oh, before she did the dishes, Mary played with Wakiya for a bit. The following video is of her longing the horse into our pond. Horse people; both the horse and Mary survived. Mary had fun. The horse looked like she did, too. Should we do this again? And are we reading the body language correctly; did the horse have fun?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cats 101

Having decided this year to share our home with a cat, I was looking online for more information about care, training, (ha!) and breeds. Ours was a stray, but recently, we found some online information that leads us to believe she is at least part Maine Coon Cat. As she matures, we'll keep an eye on her and see if our hunch is correct.

As a homeschooling family, we are always learning, and try to share that knowledge whenever we can. We found the following video during our online search. I'm including it in today's blog post for educational purposes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Mowing the lawn around here of those things. It can be a joy for a mom. Sitting on the riding mower for a couple of hours may be the only quiet, uninterrupted time I get. (That, and because I'm the one who worries most about the details, like trim mowing, is why I prefer to do it rather than to hand it off to a minion!) It can also be a necessary evil. Especially at the beginning of the mowing season.

Getting started on mowing season can be a challenge. At the beginning of the season, the mower is in storage. Often it's in the hay tent. This year, the hay tent was, well, full of hay, so it spent the winter on a pallet, covered with a tarp. Some of you would consider that abusive, but it started on the first try. Our John Deere is usually very dependable. Even when, most years, the gas lines are clogged with ladybugs. Those little buggers will get in anywhere to spend a sheltered winter. Getting it out of storage this year was complicated by the amount of water we had. See, the pallet was on one of the edges of those "creeks" I shared pictures of with you earlier in the spring. It was surrounded by water for much of the time. When things began drying, it was surrounded by mud. Finally, last weekend, it could come out and play.

The first mowing is also a challenge because of the length of the grass. Spring rains cause lush growth. This year, with so much water, we had upwards of 18" of growth in some areas! It was quite the jungle experience! I felt like a machete would have been useful sometimes. While our mower is dependable, it is also aging. Long grass wreaks havoc on the mower deck, and several of my breaks were more for the mower than the operator.

And the long grass hides many WMDs; Weapons of Mower Destruction. Most of the ones I encountered were invisible to me until they had had a chance to seek out and destroy. For example, this rock

went unseen until the blades flung it about six feet. Fortunately, the mower continued on like nothing had happened. (The rock looks deceptively small in the picture; it's about 8"x6".)

There was the incident of the dog's duck.

Again, no trouble for the tractor. But the dog has less duck to play with now. The boys built this gun some years ago, and it was left in the yard by a grandchild, I'm guessing. It has played it's last Guns Game.

I don't even know where this metal rod came from.

I was glad for our middle soldier, though. He uncomplainingly dragged me out when I got the tractor buried in mud; again, invisible until I was too far in it to back out. And he rescued me, again uncomplainingly, when these boards

made their appearance about midday. They were buried in long grass, and one ended up wedged in the mower blades. Getting it out was quite the process, but it was done quickly. Thanks, Matthew. (Notice the pile of unsplit wood? No comment. Just notice it.)

I don't even know where they came from. I know Mary put them away when I asked her to, last month, after she worked with Wakiya on "not being afraid of wood in the lawn." Because wood is always in the lawn around here! Isn't it that way at your house?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Remind Me

Why was I glad to have our middle soldier home?


He tells me the car isn't empty yet...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

When crushed by life's problems--an un-planned pregnancy in our family or caring for elderly parents--we trust in God's promises knowing that He is the God of life and life is in His hands, not ours.

Diane E. Schroeder

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

Today's big news is that our middle soldier, Matthew, has "cleared" Ft. Hood and will be home tonight! He'll be here for about a month, and will report to Ft. Sill in the early part of June. He'll be with us at Ethan's Basic training graduation, and will spend some time getting things organized here for his wedding. Miss Keri has to stay in California until the week before the wedding, hence the groom doing the groundwork! How fun is that, because, like his dad, he'll need help, which is where I come in!

He'll be driving through OK, KS, MO and IL today, so, if you see a Dodge Stratus needing help, please stop. Prayers for safe travel will be greatly appreciated!

On the home front, we'll be installing electric fence for a portable pasture for Jr. It's time for him to be eating and getting fat, so we'll keep him separated so he has less competition for the groceries. He'll still be close enough to feel "part of the herd," though! We'll also be having a riding lesson here today, and doing more and more general outside cleanup. As constant as Mount Washmore...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Country/Suburban Collision

Been busy this week. Grandpa is here, building shelters for sheep and horses. There have been meetings, and a field trip to a dairy farm. We took advantage of a pre-school tour of the dairy farm where we buy milk, bringing Justice and the Seanster along. They'd been there before, so they "didn't learn anything," but the ice cream afterwards was good!

Mary and I have also been fighting a cold. Or...have we? This week we have visitors; Mr. Bun and the Pigs. A petsitting client has left us his rabbit and three guinea pigs this week. Is the cold an odd coincidence? I think not. My money is on allergies.

Our sometimes-neighbors are here. The farm next door is owned by a couple from the suburbs who come out on the weekends to garden and enjoy their place. We don't talk much... He likes to crow at our roosters. They crow, and he crows back. He also shares bird calls with other birds in his woods. The not-so-nice thing about this is that the roosters crow back. They go back and forth for hours, sometimes all day. It. Makes. Me. Tense. Rooster calls are bad enough, because they can mean, "I'm loud and obnoxious," or they can mean, "AACK! Hawk!" I don't know which it is, and I get tired of trying to figure it out. And I'm sure it takes some time off of the roosters' lives as well. Mentioning it to the neighbor isn't gong to help much; I suspect he does it because he knows it irritates us and he doesn't want us having our "obnoxious, smelly birds," anyway.

Part of the joy of living in our part of the country is dealing with suburban people. I have nothing against the suburbs; I grew up there. But there is a mindset we've noticed. Oh, we love the country, say the suburbanites. We go visit there, we pick apples, strawberries, it's so wonderful to have space and fresh air. That's fine, as far as it goes. But, occasionally, one of them decides to move here; we did. Half the time, they're not prepared for the distances to conveniences, and spend ample time trying to convince local government to change and bring in some of the "better things" about suburban life. Pretty soon the country becomes yet another suburb; that's what happened to the area where I grew up.

Sometimes people move out and expect that space and fresh air to be consistent, always theirs. They love moving into a subdivision that shares frontage on a country highway with a produce stand. Until that produce stand has to expand to meet the growing demand for fresh vegetables. One near us increased it's sweet corn fields, and began using a "cannon" to scare off the crows and raccoons. People in that local subdivision began complaining about the noise (we're talking a couple booms a day) and the "message it was sending to the kids about animals being a problem." (?) In the end, Farmer won out, but remarked that his next move would be further west. They're gonna lose their farmstand in the foreseeable future, because they didn't like the methods he used to protect their dinner vegetables!

Back to our neighbor, who enjoyed free eggs and free chickens for a couple of years. One year, he began complaining about the "obnoxious smell." I will grant him that, that year, the birds didn't smell good. We had found an organic feed that was locally produced. Since we are very close to DeKalb ag, and, in fact, the feed producer shared frontage with them, he used sorghum instead of corn in his feed. He was worried about pollen drift from GMO corn in the area, and substituted sorghum so he could continue to use the organic label. Chickens, apparently, become more odoriferous as they digest sorghum. We learned this in spades. After we quit using that feed, our neighbor continued to complain, telling us we hadn't "asked him for permission to grow chickens in the first place." (?) He took his complaints to the county health department and zoning board, both of which told him we weren't doing anything we weren't legally allowed to do. So, since we continue to raise chickens,(maybe 20 laying hens and 2 or 3 batches of 50 broiler birds each per year) he doesn't talk to us anymore.

We're devastated.

And now the phone is starting to ring, and I must begin my day. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hippo Birdy Two Ewes

Our youngest soldier, Ethan, turns 19 today. His brothers turned 20 and 23 in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. He turns 19 at Ft. Knox, with less than a month to go in his Basic Training. We don't dare send him a birthday card, or anything else that would draw undue attention to him! But a discreet letter with all our love and best wishes went out and should get there...sometime. You never know with the mail on a military post...

This is the kid whose labor started on a Wednesday...quit that night...restarted on Saturday...and made his appearance, amid prayers and concerns over the cord wrapped around his neck, on Mothers' Day. He's been making it up ever since!

Happy Birthday, Ethan!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Boldly Go...

On Sunday, Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake had a fun quote about the new Star Trek film. If it weren't a family tradition, it would have made me more determined to see the film.

We did that last night. Oh. My. Word. I thought previous Star Trek films had been fun and witty; this not only accomplished that, but sealed the deal for 20 more years of Star Trek. Now, some of you may not find that all that interesting, but for this family, whose lexicon will always include a seriously-intoned "Pace..," it was very satisfying.

(Pace? Not just salsa here. When our youngest soldier was just 3 or 4, and Star Trek: Next Generation was airing, all he needed was to hear those first notes of the musical intro. He would come running from wherever he was in the house to stand before the Glowing Screen and intone, along with Patrick Stewart, "Space. The Final Frontier..." Except his little preschool lisp left out the "S.")

The casting was...scary. How did they find people who looked so much like the originals, but younger? Makes me think cloning is happening...

Some favorite quotes;

"I have been, and always will be, your friend."

"I'm a doctor, Jim, not a physicist."

"Can I have a towel?"

"Her first name is?" "Never mind!"

"Wiktor" "Password not recognized."

And now I know how he got the nickname Bones.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Manic Monday

Having spent last week in a muscle-relaxer-induced fog, I intend to get this week underway so that we accomplish some things! Since our first "thing" should start in, oh, 5 minutes, and I'm about 30 away from starting...Well, I think it'll be a day of playing catch-up all over the place!

Thoughts about putting out one's back;

1) Avoid doing it again. Easier said than done, when the activity that caused it (riding a horse) brings one such joy. How do you avoid the feeling of warm sun on the face, warm, horsey smell hitting the nose along with various spring scents, the sight of myriad blooming things and deep blue sky, the touch of a velvety nose or the flex of a neck, the creak of saddle leather? Well, maybe avoid the parting of seat and saddle...yeah, that would do it!

2) Nurse it yourself. This was the first time I did. In the past, I headed to the doc too early. This time, I just called, confirmed I was doing sensible things, and told the nurse, "Yes, I promise to come in under those conditions." Well, those conditions didn't happen. Judicious use of pain meds and relaxers, rest, ice, heat, exercises and time, and this is clearing up much faster than it has in the past. Gee. I can take care of the house I live in!

3) Keep daughter at home. I know, I can't. But it has been nice to have a minion I can send to feed animals, lift milk into the car, etc. What'll I do when she leaves? The time is closer by the minute...

4) Make more quick, easy meals. I need to get back to once-a-month cooking. We did it for a while when we first came out here 11 years ago. When we started buying or growing our food in bulk, it seemed silly to thaw the meat to cook the meat to freeze the meat. But it would have made it that much easier when I napped away the afternoon to just pop something frozen into the oven. And we're busy enough that it would help going forward. Maybe I'll do some of that this week; cook, as they did in times gone by, two meals at a time, and freeze one.

5) Thank God for a husband who allows me to rest when necessary. Talking to other wives, there are some that just don't get it when their wife is down for the count. Poor guys would have a happier life if they had a happier wife, doncha think?

Well, enough of this by-the-seat-of-my-pants posting. I have to get the minion up and go visit my dairy farmer friend. We're out of milk!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

Lutherans for Life strives to connect moms to the promises of God's presence in Christ--the presence of His power and forgiveness to teenage moms, the presence of His love and comfort to moms who have miscarried, the presence of His love, comfort and forgiveness to those moms who have aborted, the presence of His hope for all the above, and His presence to help yet-to-be moms who see the importance of chastity and marriage. Obviously, helping moms is not all we do. But when you help moms you've gone a long way in promoting the sanctity of human life. Join LFL in thanking God for moms and celebrating motherhood! Join us in praying for moms so that more moms, like Mary and Elizabeth, will know of the presence of God in Christ no matter what their circumstances.

Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, executive director for Lutherans For Life

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quiet Day

About three hours after I took that peaceful picture yesterday, I got into a saddle atop the horse on the right. As soon as my feet left the ground, but before I was safely in the saddle, she headed swiftly to the southeast. I headed swiftly to the north. As a result, I have been spending today popping ibuprofen and applying ice to my back. I'm feeling better as the day goes on.

But it has made for a quiet day. We ventured out to buy hay, halibut and coffee. We discovered that the Woodstock Farmers' Market is open for the season. We tried to learn to factor polynomials; well, I tried to teach it. No one was trying to learn...We napped. Horses are again free-ranging.

Oh--major news. #2 son, Matthew, currently living in Texas, but soon to move to Oklahoma, announced this weekend his intention to marry Miss Keri Miller of California on the 4th of July. Here in Illinois, at our church. Reception to be held in our backyard. I'm thinking there won't be very many quiet days for a while!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Free-range Horses

We let the horses free-range today, so they could be fed and not make us pay for hay.

I think my junior high experience would have been much better had I been allowed to sit under a tree, reading, while my horses munched nearby.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pro Life Corner

Jesus alone has the power to heal what we have buried and tried to hide for so long. Remember that Jesus Christ defeated Satan with the cross. Because of that, we do not have to be held captive to shame at the hands of our enemy and longer. With Christ we are spotless, clean and pure without blemish. Let His grace be enough for you today as you trust Him to work all things for his good.

Grace Kern, director of Word-of Hope, LFL's post-abortion ministry

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Again!

This is going to be a busy Saturday. Thank God for sun at last! I've been waiting for weeks to see the view out our back window look like this;

Our 10-day forecast has been revised to only THREE days of rain expected in the next 10; sunshine and high 60s-low 70s expected! If it gets breezy, we might lose the water we've been collecting! If not, much of it should dry up. Please, God...

Tomorrow is Mary's Confirmation. It's hard to believe; isn't she only about 10, and this shouldn't be happening yet? I know from experience that the next thing she'll do is college; time is on the downslope of a roller coaster now! But I'll be hanging on for the fun ride!

So today is shopping for lunch items for tomorrow's party. Should have finished it yesterday, but we got sidetracked by a garage sale at a local therapy stable; picked up a decent English saddle for her for a decent price! It was worth having to go to Wally World on a Saturday...almost!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mommy Brag

On the homeschool webgroup to which I belong, every once in a while, one of the moms will break out of the I'm-a-mom-with-nothing-special mode that we're all supposed to adopt and post what we call a "Mommy Brag." This is when we announce something wonderful that one of our kids has done.

When Matthew was home on leave this winter, my boys went and did something nice. They stooped to having their pictures taken for me. Not something they usually enjoy, this time I really gave them little choice; I made and paid for the appointment, although I did not go along and remind them to smile. As you can see, though they did. I suspect the photographer was an attractive young woman, although I'm told one of the guys needed the stuffed animal and funny noises to crack a smile!

The result?

Don't they look great? The two standing, from left to right, are Ethan and Matthew. Jay is down in front. Jay and Matthew are all but taken; Ethan is available, as far as I know. A lucky young lady would have to wait for him to finish Basic Training and AIT, but I will be accepting applications to share with him when he's done! Just leave them in the comments section.