Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brave cowgirl

Saturday was our County 4H Horse Show.  Camille's horse was hurt, so she wasn't going to compete this year- she didn't seem too upset about it, and so she was preparing to spend the day watching and learning.

Bri, however, was hoping that Mesa would behave and that the day would be a success. 

Stock Seat Pattern- waiting to be cued to start

Jemima, Bri, and Hannah

Working the gate for Trail class

The bridge in Trail class

Well, true to Mesa form, she was a stinker and if I had had a gun with me.... 

Anyway, she made Bri really work hard for every little bit that day, and Mesa acted as if she didn't have a clue as to what to do.  I felt so bad for Bri, as she is so dedicated and she tries so VERY HARD, and I know how much she wanted to succeed today.  Because that's the kind of kid she is.

So, when she left the ring after Trail class with a few tears rolling down her cheeks, Loren and I followed her to the trailer and told her how very proud we were of her for sticking with it and giving it her all.

The real prize isn't the ribbon, but it's the lesson learned that even when things go wrong, giving up is not the solution. 

After several hugs and words of affirmation, she had her smile back on her face, and all was right with the world again!

At the end of the day, she told me she had a great time and she was very pleased with her day. 

We are just so proud of how she handles adversity with such tenacity, courage, and resilence, and she never lets things get her down for long.  She is an incredible young lady, and she has an inner strength that never fails to amaze me.

However....next year's County Horse Show- this mama is packing her gun.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


That's right- we are LID! 

Logged in Dossier means that China has documented that they received our dossier and it's now in a stack waiting to be reviewed.  Once it is reviewed and approved, we will receive our LOA- Letter of Acceptance, telling us that they approve of this adoption.  Then we can begin making plans to travel to China.

This is a major milestone.  Everything is in their court, so now we wait.

Word on the Waiting Child Advocates list is that LOA's are taking around 60 days to receive- we are on day 13.

tick tock...tick tock...


On a brighter note, once we receive our LOA, we can post pictures of Quinn and send her packages to her orphanage. 

It's not fair that we get months to gaze at her face and fall in love with her, and she will see us for the first time when we come to get her.  If she was older, we would send her a family picture, but I'm sure at her age she would just chew on it!

I can't wait to get her home- she needs alot of hugging and cuddling and encouraging and playing and love.  She needs a family and a feeling of where she belongs. 

Here's hoping that the summer flies by!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Time to Jam!

 It's that time of year again- time to make jam.

Once you start making your own jam, your kids won't want you to go back to the store bought varieties because you can not only customize the jam to how you like it, but because it just tastes better.

Because fruit is usually expensive, I try to make it go further by mixing rhubbarb in our jam recipes.  (Who doesn't have a bed of rhubbarb in the midwest??)      It also gives it a kick.

One of the easiest recipes I have calls for these items:

7 cups of cut up rhubbarb
4 cups sugar (that sugar is organic and unbleached)
6 oz of gelatin
3 cups fresh fruit or 1-21 oz jar of pie filling (if you don't have access to fresh fruit)

Bring the rhubbarb, sugar, and fruit to boiling in a pan until the fruit and rhubbarb becomes "saucy" (losing form) and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. 

Fruit just added- not yet "saucy"
 Remove from the heat and stir in the jello packets. (I usually use raspberry or strawberry because the flavors blend well)

Pour the jam into jars, seal, and put in a waterbath for about 20 minutes.
Remove and let cool.

Making your own jam is a great way to package fruit that is in-season, it's less expensive than purchasing it in the store, and it's just one more way for you to be self sufficient using items that you grow yourself. 

They also make great gifts :-)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day~

I'm so lucky to be married to a man who's not just a wonderful husband, but an awesome dad. 

He is our rock, our protector, our cheerleader, our stronghold, our moral compass, our teller of family history, our politeness police :-)

He raises our children with lots of love and compassion, leads them with integrity and teaches them by example. 

We couldn't ask for anything more.

Happy Father's Day, Sweetheart!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Frugal Friday~

“Frugality is founded on the principal that all riches have limits.”
--Edmund Burke
The largest increase in expenses we have seen in our budget this year are groceries and gas for the cars. 
There isn't much one can do for gas prices, as the gas stations in our area are fairly similar in price and services.  However, there is one location where we can get gas cheaper, and that's Hyvee.
When you purchase groceries at Hyvee, you can submit your grocery receipt to their gas station, and that entitles you to a discount on gas.  This discount is determined by the amount of groceries that you purchase, so the higher the grocery bill, the higher the discount on gas.
That helps take the sting out of your grocery bill. 
So, whenever I'm filling up at Hyvee on staples for my monthly grocery haul, I also fill up the car with gas.  This past week, I received $.16/gal discount.  That was a savings of $6.40.
Not too shabby :-) 
Now if I could just get the whole "grocery coupon" thing figured out.....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Faces

Wanna see the new faces around the farm?

3 new baby kitties!

Ted and Barney- new calves

Baby chicks and baby turkeys

New bunnies- Rose and Cool
One of the best parts of Spring- BABIES!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Busy week~

Another busy week-

Rodeo Bible Camp:

Bri attended camp this week, put on by the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, and she rode Mesa in the Patterns class.  Bri handled Mesa well, even when Mesa was a stinker during the performance, and we were proud to see how well Bri kept her composure in the arena.

  She also received 2nd place in the Christian Character Competition, which is voted on by the counselors as to character, attitude, helping others, and other value based traits.  Again, we were so proud of her! 
So glad to have her back home again- we really missed her!

Vacation Bible School-
While Bri was at camp, the rest of us were at Vacation Bible School at Our Saviors.  I was in charge of the crafts, Luke was one of the recreation leaders, and Camille was a "camper" learning about what it was like for Jesus when he was a boy.  Friday night we have their program, and the kids also did their Danish Dancing performance.

Throw in Luke's rock picking jobs, milk deliveries, chores and gardening, laundry and meals, vet calls for an injured horse, delivering kids and horses to their destinations.... it's been a busy week!

Foster Parenting....?

Noodles feeding our two new calves
We often have more milk from our Jerseys than we can use, so we buy new calves from the local dairies, and instead of bottle feeding them, they nurse right off of our cow, Noodles.

Apparently, Loren and I aren't the only foster parents on this farm :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random Farm Things...

Take a look at my new garden toy- it makes my garden look so professional!

It's a row cover for my cabbage- who would've thought I would get such a kick out of something like this?  I watched my cabbage get chewed down to nothing last year by cabbage moths and their little evil wormy young, so I'm almost giddy to see how nice they look so far under their protective cover.  Water and sunlight can get through the cover, but the evil cabbage moth CAN"T. 

Score one for me!


How's this for sisterly love?

Bri is leading Camille around on Mesa, so she can see what it's like trotting around on a big horse.  Aren't sisters sweet?


With all this nice weather, my "girls" are producing nicely.

There's something to incredibly satisfying about raising food, and going to pick eggs each day is like an Easter Egg Hunt :-) 

We're also eating lettuce, spinach,  and radishes out of the garden already-  It's the best time of year for salad eating. Did I mention that the strawberries are starting to turn red?

Just another day in this paradise I call Home.

Adoption Nostalgia

When I first began researching China adoption, many of the videos that I watched were accompanied by this song, done by Steven Curtis Chapman.  He wrote it after he and his wife adopted from China, and it's almost hauntingly beautiful. 

The other day, I heard it on the radio, and it brought back all of those feelings of excitement that I had when we began our adoption journey; how I couldn't wait to hop on a plane and go scoop up a little darling and love her up! 

So, I decided that I wanted to have it on my blog as well, since it takes me back to those first feelings of purpose for this mission of adoption.

Be honest....it makes you want to adopt, doesn't it?

(the second video includes Steven telling the audience how prayer brought his family to adoption)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Declaring the Word

Sunday's sermon focused on Jesus' command to the Apostles to go to many nations and declare the Word of God- not just hang around Israel, but to get out there and really SPREAD THE WORD.

We joke in the Lutheran Church that we often consider our religious experience a "private matter" and that getting one of us to pray out loud is like pulling teeth!  (Not completely true, but you get my drift) 

Our small midwest churches are not known for our evangelizing, our member recruitment efforts, or the like....most of us go to church because our parents went to that church, and it is part of the fabric of our lives, often unspoken or acknowledged.  We lean towards the conservative, not talking much about religion or politics, rarely swearing in public, and along with this trend, also not declaring our faith very loudly either.  We think that by living a good Christian life that our actions are doing the talking for us.

If we want our churches to continue, maybe we have to become more outspoken and share more often with others, even if it makes us uncomfortable talking about God when we are more comfortable talking about the weather, the crops, or football scores.

One of my favorite shows EVER was Joan of Arcadia, and in it this girl was always talking to God, who showed up in the forms of a few distinct characters in her life.  In one episode, she was talking to a counselor, and when the subject of God came up, she mentioned that "you only hear people talking about God in church........ or when someone famous wins an award."  That part made me smile :-)

Which made me so proud and excited for all of us "less than verbose" Christians when on 2 highly watched reality shows this year, members were very vocal about their Christianity and how important their faith is to them.  I actually applauded when I heard them!  

First, Matt on Survivor spoke openly about how his relationship with God helped him get through the ordeal, and he shared his faith with his tribe.  At least 2 of  his tribe members mentioned that they had a renewed interest in religion after spending time with Matt, and they soon were also talking Faith quite openly on the show!  WooHoo!  Mark one for our team!  One gal said she was going to start taking her daughters to church again- you think God wasn't smiling when he heard that one?!

The second one was on American Idol- the winner was just a young man with an incredible voice, and he also thanked God many times for his talent,  (and also his mother- bless him!) and he wasn't hesitant to say these things in front of millions of viewers.  Think of how many people he may have influenced!!  It gives me goosebumps. 

THIS is the kind of Declaring that Jesus was talking about.  I hope we continue to hear this kind of Faith Talk popping up everywhere in the media, in our communities, and of course, in our home.  I need to make a committment to talk more openly in front of my children so that they will feel comfortable to share their faith with others as well.

Wish me luck, but remember- I'm a little shy, and I'm still a Lutheran. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Frugal Friday

“A bargain ain't a bargain unless it's something you need.”
--Sidney Carroll

Yes, it's Saturday, but I had to put off the Frugal Friday until today because today was Rummage Sale Day!  Frugal lovers ultimate shopping trip. 

 The kids LOVE going rummaging with their Grandma Lee- it becomes a small town treasure hunt for them, and they all are just giddy with the excitement of "the hunt"! 

 I'm the unpaid chauffeur. :-)

To fund their hunting binge, they have been bagging up aluminum cans, and they had just cashed them in for over $75.00, so they were practically salivating this morning to go and spend it!

 I'm not a big shopper, but I love a good bargain, and the kids made me proud today.  They purchased some really good items, like new Nike basketball shoes for $15 and some very nice Aeropostale dress shirts for $.25 each for Luke, $.50 jeans and a sleeping bag for Bri, and some $.50 tshirts and some books for Camille.  They only spent $35 of their $75, so they have some left for their next rumage sale- good kids!!

We talked before the sale about the difference of buying things that they really need or want, and just buying things for the sake of buying things.  It was interesting to watch them weigh the decisions of what to buy, and I'm hoping that they will learn good buying habits when they are young.

I also got some great bargains today, and I wasn't even looking that hard.  We are down to 2 working burners on our stove, so my Mom found us this beauty for $60...

(The previous owners redecorated, and the black didn't match their kitchen....boo hoo!)

Well, I was looking for clothes for Quinn, so that I can get her clothing stash ready for her homecoming, and I hit the motherlode!!
I found a sale that had clothing in the size that she should be this fall, and I went a little crazy.  I got her 13 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, 5 sweaters, 2 dresses, 2 footie jammies, cowboy boots (aren't they the cutest?!) 2 winter coats with snowpants, and a handful of toys for the trip- all for $34.00.  Not bad.

 I can hardly wait to see these on her! (Hurry up, CCAA, so we can bring Quinn home!)

I did notice at this year's rummage sales that the prices are much higher than previous years- I think the economy is hitting everyone where it hurts, and it's going to be harder to find the steals that we've seen years past. 

However....it's still a much better option than buying all those items new. 

Happy Rummaging!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another Milestone in the Adoption Journey

Guess what we are????????

DTC Baby!!!   Dossier to China- Yah!!

This is starting to get exciting :-)  

What a relief that our dossier passed muster enough to get through the review at the national office!  I had these irrational fears that our dossier would forever be floating from one desk to another, always needing just one.....more....document! 

Our next milestone is to have our dossier logged into the CCAA- this is called our LID, or Logged in Date.  The yahoo groups have reported about a 4 week timeframe from DTC to LID, so we will see how we fare in the Adoption Timeline.

Such a relief.  Think we need to celebrate tonight- maybe some banana splits??!