Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Walk on Memory Farm

You've heard of 'memory lane', well I was on my 'memory farm' today and I got to take my children to experience a place from my youth. My girls aren't yet old enough to appreciate the magic of the place they visited today, but I do. I remember all the details of that small little farm and most of it was the same after 20 years. Even the smell of the person's home was the same and it was so comforting to me I just kept breathing it in and remembering.
To share a bit of the experience, imagine driving up a little back road and turning off onto a hidden side road back into a neighborhood that can barely be seen for all the grassy fields and trees. You drive to the end of a small street and to your right is a half  circle drive with wildflower gardens nearly hiding the front of the house. As you climb out of the car, you are surrounded by flowers and shrubs and behind the garden nearest the house you can see parts of the cluttered front porch. As you go toward the porch, there is a bubbling little pond to your right with bright orange gold fish surfacing and lily pads spotting the dark water. Poking out from under and around every corner are clay animal figures and sculptures.
A chicken sculpture.
She sculpts little whimsical animals and castles and people out of clay and fires and glazes them herself when she visits her parents in Arkansas, and over the year her collection of clay critters has grown considerably. It was so fun to see them all again!
So now you are on the big covered porch where old wicker furniture sits and more clay animals and you are hidden behind the green screen of the garden plants. In the house are new hardwood floors to replace the carpet I remember, but it matches the rest of the rustic homey feel, and the fireplace in the living room is decorated in an eclectic country theme. Lots of stained wood furniture, and comfy well worn couches and chairs and rugs, lots of rugs, most of them handmade.
The back windows look out over the back garden and down into the donkey and sheep pasture and that is where most of my memories begin. In that pasture I rode my first donkey bare back, had my first rotten egg fight, and my first rotten tomato fight. To the left of the pasture is where I butchered my first chicken and helped collect eggs in the hen house. In the very back of the property is where a small lake is hidden where me and the woman's boys use to swim and farther is a creek where we use to build small dams out of rocks and sticks. But back to the house.
Around the back of the hen house use to be the pigeons and rabbits, but now the only rabbits that remain are a couple of holland rabbits that continue to copulate like....well rabbits. Their offspring have then been released and live in the surrounding wood line. They appear on sunny days out in the pasture munching grass and are mostly wild now. They are the cutest little brown and white rabbits I've ever seen and are probably continuing to multiply with the locals.
Today when we arrived, the male rabbit who was responsible for all the wild babies running around had recently been thrown out of his abode with his 'wife' so she could have a break from having babies. He was not very happy and was waiting by the door to her pen. He would only hop away from his station if you tried to touch him. We passed him on our way to the hen house to see the new baby chicks. The main hen house is too rough so the babies and their mother were in the greenhouse. Wow, baby chicks are cute. Just a day old, they were fluffy fun.
Kinsey was even brave enough to hold one, but I had to catch them because the mother was a good mother and kept hiding them under her wings and body. I had to reach up under her butt and grab a squirming little ball of fluff. It was good to realize I still got some mad chicken handling skills even after all these years.
Momma chicken hiding her chicks under herself. Such a good momma.

Kinsey with her chick.
Then we went to the pigeon pen and saw their new babies. I gotta say, baby pigeons, called squabs, are about the ugliest baby creature you've ever seen. Kinsey wouldn't pet one of these probably because it was so ugly and not very fuzzy.
Then we went to gaze in the back pond as I reminisced about the time me and the woman's oldest son  helped her by cleaning out the back pond. We spent a whole day digging and chopping out water lilies that had overgrown the whole surface of the water. In the end we were barely able to lug the bulk of wet roots out and by then we were covered in mud and pond muck (which is something like silty fish poop and smells like poop). It was fun though and we caught lots of the goldfish in the mean time and lots of frogs too.
Ahhhhh, sweet memories.
The back garden pond.

Before we left I looked out her kitchen window too, where she has an extensive bird feeder station. I remember loving to watch all the beautiful birds who would come to eat in her yard. Today was much the same, with quite an array of different birds feeding and waiting in the trees for their turn at the feeders. Next I used her 'sheep' bathroom which had even more sheep figurines and stuff animals than I remembered. The whole thing is nothing but a bunch of sheep memorabilia, sheep pez dispensers, sheep Christmas ornaments, you name it, if it has a sheep on it, it will probably find its way to that bathroom. It was fun while I washed my hands to pick out the items I remember from my youth.
Then it was time to go, but I think I shall try to go again while I am in town. There was something so incredibly satisfying about finding a place I had loved so dearly as a child so much the same as I remembered it. Even the small additions didn't seem out of place. Her gardens had grown and changed, but the flower cutting garden was in the same place, the veggie garden was the same, the pasture area had grown and there was a horse where there had never been one, but it was so much the same. I could have cried, but I don't know why except that that house is the closest thing to what I've always wanted in a house. The house itself is spacious, the yard is part barn yard, part veggie garden, part pasture and part flower garden. She's had so many dogs over the years that the deer no longer bother with her beds, and the results are beautiful.
It was certainly a very special day. I think I shall visit next when it is sunny and not raining. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Puppies and Bunnies

When we first had Kinsey we had a dog named Lucy. She was the sweetest little Jack Russell/Rat Terrier I had ever seen and just the right size for living in our small apartment. Kinsey really liked Lucy too, even as a little baby, and I loved Lucy (haha, no pun intended)!
I still miss having a dog, but by the time I had Kalei I learned to appreciate not having a dog. Dogs need to be let out all the time, they have to be fed, bathed, taken to the vet, and Lucy was particularly hard on our rental carpets and furniture. She was also fond of barking at squirrels and strange noises and waking Kinsey up. My life without a dog has been a lot easier in some ways.
Now though, the girls are a bit older, and I'm beginning to think they may need a furry little pet.
Right now we are visiting my parents house and they have two dogs. My Kalei is in love! She comes over and encourages 'Miss Belle' to kiss her by sticking her face toward the dog. Belle is almost always obliging. "Puppy" is one of her favorite words right now, and she only has a few at 18 months. I'm not as in love as I thought I'd be though. The first time the dogs barked at a noise in the night and barked and woke up my girls I was ready to strangle them. So I think a dog is not the answer for our family.
Kinsey on the other hand is in love with bunnies. We are very fond of the Beatrix Potter books. So every bunny we have seen as we walk my parents street is 'pizza rabbit' (roughly translated as Peter Rabbit, the Potter movies are British and so the way they said peter sounds like pizza to Kinsey, I haven't been able to persuade her otherwise).
She has already asked her Dad for a bunny, and he said maybe once we move to our new house.I'm hoping he was saying that in honesty and not just to put her off the topic. I would love a bunny too. They eat grass & hay & clover. If you hold them a lot they are very gentle, and their poop doesn't stink as bad as dogs or cats. No barking or noise in general. Super fluffy and laid back, happy with a salt lick to keep them occupied.
So I'm sorry to say miss Kalei, but bunnies are just way less maintenance than puppies and I think you will learn to love a bunny.
What kind of bunny do I want for my girls you ask?
A Flemish Giant, about like a small dog, they weigh on average 20 lbs (that is more than my Kalei), and are usually like big floppy lazy cats. What could be better with two toddlers! And don't say fish, fish are boring...
Grey is the color I use to mostly raise, look how big and beautiful!

So bunnies. I raised Flemish Giants when I was a teen and they were my favorite breed.
Looking into getting your children a pet, think about a Flemish Giant.
Into organic gardening? Keep their poo and let it over winter in a pile and spread it on your veggie garden as compost, great stuff as long as it is not fresh.
Ah, the joys of pet bunnies. I'm so excited to think about it.
Fuzzy picture, but you get the size idea. Fun!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Transplant

Today, now that the going away party is over and most of my life is almost all packed up I'm feeling a lot better. Our dear friends came over and blessed us with their company and prayers and now I feel as though I am mostly ready to go. Thank you to all the friends that were able to come last night and for all the daddies and husbands who went inside to pray and visit with my sick husband (he had a raging migraine all day yesterday but is much better now, PTL)!

Now on to a topic that the Lord has been developing over a couple months now with me. Transplanting, as in the transplanting of flowers and plants, and how it related to the season we are in.

It was such a confirmation last night when one of my sweetest bestest friends told me she felt like the Lord was transplanting us like flowers (not an exact quote, when I'm emotional, I don't recall things exactly as they are said). I just laughed and cried a little bit more because I know about transplanting and how it is healthy, but it is also a tough process sometimes.

Here is what I can tell you about transplanting flowers in the natural and you can probably easily draw some parellels that would apply to us.

  • When you transplant a flower, when you secure it in its new home its best if you cut off all the flowers and cut back 1/3 of the growth, it helps the plant to stop wasting time feeding all those blooms and growth and focus on putting down strong new roots - you cut off all the pretties and let it grow into its new home.
  • When transplanting a flower from a greenhouse environment to an outdoor setting, it is considered normal to have a season of stunted growth as the plant adjusts to the new environment.
  • Newly transplanted flowers need extra water and fertilizer and attention for their whole first year in their new home to help them stay healthy (especially trees and shrubs).
  • If you leave a plant that is ready to be transplanted in its old small pot in the greenhouse it will eventually become root bound and no amount of water will keep it from drying out and eventually dying. If left in the pot in the greenhouse, the growth will become spindly, weak, and unsightly, very few things are ever planted in a greenhouse with the intention of letting it live its whole life in the greenhouse.
  • After a year of acclimation and a season of putting down good roots, the following year is usually a year of exponential growth because of that new and bigger and stronger root system.
  • In a greenhouse all the elements of growth are pretty much controlled, disease and insect problems are very common place the longer a plant stays in that greenhouse, but plants really thrive in an outdoor environment where there is an element of risk and storms and the wind blows freely around them, so they become strong.
So all of that to say, I am ready to be transplanted. My life may not look real pretty for a while and the process of pruning is always a little painful, but I know we will thrive once we have begun to put down our new root system. 
The Lord talked a lot about vineyards and growing grapes
click here to learn about how to prune a real grapevine.

"The Father is the vine dresser, and [Jesus] is the vine, if I remain in Him, 
I will stay alive...and bear much fruit!" 
- paraphrase from John 15

Thank you Lord! and Amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's Just a Bunch of Stuff

Today I cried. What a surprise, not!
We leave Kansas City in two days, and although we are not going straight to SC (me and the girls will stay in Peoria with my momma for three weeks), it will be the last time I'm in Kansas City for a long time.
That is not why I was crying though.
I was crying because we may not be able to fit all our 'stuff' in the truck and so I have to go thru things and get rid of my 'stuff'.
Boxes of stuff we are keeping

I was a stressed out momma, crying and yelling at my kids as I tried to decide what to keep and what to toss, and looking at the pile of stuff to toss and feeling like it was such a waste.
It is a waste! A waste of money, a waste of space in a landfill, a waste of my time to even possess at this point.
So I called my momma, and cried some more, and sniffled and whined. She showed so much compassion and her voice nearly dripped with sympathy.
Then after all her soothing words she said, "focus on what is important and of real value right now and the rest is just 'stuff' (this is not an exact quote, but its the jist of what she was saying).
That calmed me right down. My girls, my husband, my few things that are necessary for life, those are the things of value and the rest is just 'stuff'.
I recently read a prophecy about a coming disaster to America and the person giving the prophecy said that the Christians were crying out to the Lord, but not for mercy but with grumbling because all their 'stuff' had been destroyed and they were angry.
They had food, water and their lives, but their stuff was gone and they were mad because their comforts were lost.
I don't want to be like that, I want be willing to live with less and appreciate all that I do have.
So today I am going to say goodbye to a bunch of my 'stuff' and wish it well where ever it ends up. Probably the junk man will thinking he has hit the mother load today and scoop it all up before dark, or something like that, but oh well, it's not my problem any more.
Thank you Lord for reminding me today what really matters during the stress of this move, help me not to cry over my lost 'stuff' and to love and cherish the real treasures You've placed in my life. Amen.

PS. If you live close to me in KC, come on over and dig thru my 'stuff' if you want. Call first.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Life Packed into Boxes

Wow, I thought there was more stuff in this house, but so far we are mostly packed up and there are just a few big piles of boxes. It is a good thing I think in the end, and I'm grateful that we live as simply as we do. After this move I think we will live even more simply since we don't want to haul all of our many things over 400 miles to our new abode (which we still don't have secured yet).
The saddest thing I am getting rid of is my little sewing desk. It is this cute little beat up desk that I hide all my creative crafty treasures in. It has character, it has history with me, it currently serves as my bedside table, quilting table, and clothing catch all. It will be missed. Yet it is not perfect, only a folding chair will fit under it, and the top is not sturdy enough so when I get my sewing machine really pounding it actually causes the whole machine to bounce. Time to say goodbye and wait for the Lord to provide a replacement in SC, if we have room for a sewing desk at all. I'm hopeful.
With all of our things mostly packed up and unusable and my last official day at Shiloh being two days ago, I have a growing anticipation for my stay in Peoria. When we leave next Monday it will not be for SC yet, but for me and the girls to visit Peoria and the Grandmas and family and friends.
I wish I could say I was more excited about all the visiting I need to do, but what I am mostly excited about is just getting to be in my parents home for three weeks. After all the chaos of packing and trying to manage my two increasingly stressed out toddlers, I look forward to the safe haven my parents house represents in my heart.
Don't get me wrong, I do look forward to seeing a lot of people, especially my grandpa Kenny, who has only been able to come to Kansas City once while we've lived here. Coffee with him is a must when I come to Peoria. It just that I love visiting my old home; my parent's home.
I spent 20+ years living in that house, I've only been away from it for 8 years, and so it still holds a safe and familiar feel to it. When I arrive I expect to relax (as much as you can with two toddlers and two jack russell terriers running around) and do some of my favorite things from my past.

  • Staying up late playing scrabble with my mom
  • Going for long walks up and down the woodsy alley way with my dad
  • Sitting with my mom talking about the Lord as we drink coffee by the pond in the back yard early in the morning (I built that pond myself when I was a teen and they still maintain it and the fish in it)
  • Sitting at the table talking with my parents as my dad makes eggs and toast on the weekends
  • Helping weed the gardens I helped plant around the house
  • Shooting guns and hiking in the woods with my dad
  • Seeing old neighbors and playmates who still live in my old neighborhood
  • Walking next to the river and watching the waves and the gulls
  • Sleeping in my old room and hearing all the old sounds of my old house.
  • Taking a shower with almost no water pressure (oh wait, not looking forward to that one with my long hair)
  • Just being with my mom and dad for three weeks uninterrupted.
I"m an only child, so they were my whole world for a long, long time. It will be good to be back, it will be a nice break in the midst of this big transition in our lives, a time to breath and sigh and enjoy.
My girls love their mema and papa, but this visit is as much for me as it is for them. Just talking about it makes me wish it was tomorrow that we were leaving.
Strangely the Lord has been detaching my heart from Shiloh, the mission bases (all except the prayer room, I'm going to miss the prayer room more than I can even guess at this point), our rental house. It is a good thing, but it makes me also feel like I am somehow in limbo because my heart is not truly knit with Morning Star yet or any of the people down there. 
So to be 'home' to Peoria will fill a need and fill up my heart a bit before I go far from it. Three weeks is going to be such a blessing, if me and my mom don't kill each other before its over, hahaha. I mean to say that we are both creatures of routine and it might drive us a bit nutty not to have much of a routine for three weeks, but I shall try to lay down some of my control issues and just enjoy it, really mom, I'm gonna try. :-)
My mom holding Kalei in her kitchen.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

House Hunting

Ken is off house hunting for our new abode this weekend. I am a mixture of excitement and anxiety to see what he finds for his family. He did really well the last time we were faced with this scenario of moving from one state to another. The Lord has also been so faithful with everything else concerning this move, so I'm pretty confident He'll pull it off and Ken will come home in triumph.
Then again, now we have kiddos and that changes what we can settle for. Kids need space and for that matter, me at home with kids requires a lot of space as well. I am a girl who enjoys having her sanity, and after living in a studio apartment for six months with two babies that equaled less than 600 sq.ft. I know what insanity looks like a little bit.
Another thing that is a bit against us this time is my total love for the house we are in right now. It is the nicest house I have ever lived in my whole life and it is perfect in so many ways. Will another house even be able to compare? Will my heart be able to openly welcome the new house without always comparing them? I know the new house doesn't have feelings, but I do and I don't want to go into a new one with a bad attitude at the start. That would end up making things miserable. I've been praying for the Lord to make my heart ready to say goodbye in so many settings, even in letting our current rental go to others. (haha, that sounds so pathetic, I know.)
So while I haven't been blogging much over the past few weeks, thoughts and more thoughts have been spinning in my mind. Now that the weekend has finally come for us to find our new house and find it in a matter of 2.5 days, I must let out some of the pent up thoughts and emotions or I might have a melt down.
It helps that my momma is in town while my hubby is away. I've been able to distract myself a bit and the girls just adore her. Makes for an easier weekend in general.
However, today is day one of house hunting and I can't ignore it any longer. It is time to pray and not to panic I keep telling myself.
To lighten things up though, Ken sent me this one last night.

He is such a joker. This one is around the corner from where he is staying and not even for rent I don't think, he just thought it would be funny, and it was, only because I knew it was a joke.
Then this morning he sent me this one.

Cute, but he said it was small. When asked how many bedrooms and price, he replied with "$650 2 br 800sqft". I wrote back, "ugh, too small". The end, so far.
Haven't heard anything since, but I'm sure he is hot on the trail of a great deal with lots of space and character. Although I've heard him equate the description 'character' to an 'ugly' reality. He's probably right, he's almost always right. For the right price though, and the right amount of space and a safe neighborhood, I can do ugly, I mean 'character'.
If you know us and know all the details of this move, please pray for us. He only has like one more day to look. Pray for favor with rental companies, etc. since we won't have jobs when we come down.
Thank you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Amish Cooking

Lately I have had an interest in looking at how the pioneers made it as families way back in the day of early America. Mostly my interest is in how they grew enough to feed themselves, how they made their own cleaning products, and how they cooked for a large crowd on a tight budget.
Well, since there are not too many pioneers lying around in Kansas City for me to watch, I'm a visual person, not one to absorb too much from a book, I've turned to the Amish community for visual lessons.
What have I come away with?
A few things that were a bit shocking to me at first.
The one I will discuss today is: Amish does not equal healthy. (at least not healthy the way I think Whole Foods tends to market the idea of healthy) Their kids grow up big and strong, but they are not opposed to using many forms of food that I feel are unhealthy.

I recently looked thru an Amish cook book to discover a recipe for Spam-loaf. I'm pretty sure there is something unhealthy about meat that will keep at room temperature for an indeterminate amount of time.
Then I had some Amish made beef sticks with an ingredient list that went like this: Beef, Beef Lips, Water, Beef Hearts, etc. Wow! Strangely enough I kept eating the beef sticks because they were actually good tasting.
They also have quite a gift for making sweet things, and baking in general. Yet as I walked thru their bulk grocery store recently in Windsor, MO I was shocked to see how many 'unhealthy' baking ingredients they carried, like in the fats and oils section, in the sweetener section, and the candy section. It had a better selection than most specialty grocery store in the category of odd and unusual.

So all that to say, they do not scrimp on fats and white refined sugar. As proof, I have provided one of my favorite Amish sugar cookie recipes of all time. It has been passed down from my mother to me, and they are nothing like the flavorless things you get in the grocery store. These sugar cookies are delicious even without frosting. (note: my mother is not amish, but she grew up in a community with a lot of mennonite, which are somehow related to the amish....don't ask me how it works, I'm not amish.)
Check it out: (the recipe is easily halved to make about 20 cookies.)

Amish Sugar Cookies
1 c. butter, soft
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. white sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix first four ingredients until smooth, then add eggs one at a time, then mix in flour, salt, and tartar, then add baking soda. Last mix in the vanilla extract.
Then take heaping teaspoons full of dough and form into balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place on un-greased cookie sheet. Smash each cookie ball with a sugared glass to flatten a bit.
Bake at 350 F for 8 minutes or until edges are just sort of colored.
Removed from cookie sheet and cool on a sheet of aluminum foil on your counter top.

I will also mention that they are fabulous eaten straight from the cookie sheet while they are still warm and falling apart. Milk is another good idea.

PS, I don't waste my expensive whole wheat flour on these babies, I go with my cheapy unbleached stuff. You can't make something that is meant to be unhealthy any better by adding whole wheat flour. In the words of my husband, 'you can't polish a turd...' , as in the finished product is not meant to be pretty, or in this case, healthy. :-)