Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Employing Zummies!

The ingenuity and creativity of curious children is simply astounding! I wish I possessed half the creativity of my children. So, just what do children plagued with curiosity do?
Well, I had put the gifts out of reach, but with the help of their Zummies they had a lot of fun. In all honesty, however, they were not being naughty. They were not really getting into the packages just having fun seeing Mama's response at their innovative endeavors. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More on the Amish and Lancaster PA

It is amazing to see the Amish buggies out and about rain or shine, night or day. It was really fun to see the Amish children walking along in groups on school days or with their families on the weekend.
Cooking and sewing are an important part of the Amish life, so I have posted pictures of an Amish kitchen and sewing area as well.

More on the Amish and Lancaster PA

Here is some more rambling about my fascination with Amish country......I guess you have to be somewhat like me if you are still with me on all of this Amish talk. :) Anyway, the buggies are amazing! They build them to last for around twenty years. Compare that with how quickly we turn in our cars for new ones. They also seat a large group. I am guessing maybe eight to ten people. I was surprised with how many people they can fit. We have to buy a cargo van to fit our crew and yet they efficiently seat a large family in one buggy.
They do use very old fashioned washers and then hang their clothes out to dry on long clotheslines. Some of the lines were on a cable system so that the clothes would go up quite high in the air. It is a pretty sight to see all their black and jewel toned attire hanging out to dry. In the community we visited Monday was the wash day, so everywhere you looked you saw clothes adorning the beautiful farmlands.
The one room school houses are incredibly sweet! School is usually taught by a young, unmarried girl, and the grades are first through eighth grade. They stop formal education after eighth grade and then move into farming, homemaking, and cottage industries. Some work at local stores and businesses as well. The children are taught German, which they speak in church services, PA Dutch, and English. They do not use calculators or computers in school so the children have to learn to THINK. :)
I LOVED visiting Reihler's Quilt Shop. It had a huge array of assorted handiwork. Everything from quilts, quillows, pot holders, dolls, baby blankets, clocks, bird houses........etc. I could have spent hours but had to hurry as we were on a tour. We did make a second stop there but again we were in a hurry. We purchased some pot holders, quillows, and little Amish dolls along with some locally made jellies. AWWWW, I wish I could go back!

A Dream Come True

For a long time I have been fascinated with the simple life of the Amish community. It all started when I began reading novels about the Amish many years ago. I found many elements of life that I relate to in the stories. I love the fact that men are trained to be men and women are trained to be ladies. I love the simplicity of their lifestyle. I love the focus and priority of family. I also love the beautiful handiwork they produce whether it be skillfully crafted furniture or lovely quilt pieces. There is a quaintness and peacefulness that our fast paced world has lost. So, over time I have grown in my fascination of this group of people and dreamed of one day visiting and seeing it all for myself. This is where my wonderful husband comes into the story. He knows I have always dreamed of taking a vacation to Amish country and suggested we go in celebration of our twelfth anniversary. We began planning the trip and anticipating some time away together. We first attended our second Family Life Weekend to Remember conference in King of Prussia, PA. By the way, if you have not been to a Family Life Weekend to Remember conference I highly recommend it. It is an edifying time away to focus on God and your marriage. After the conference we went to a bed and breakfast near Amish country. We stayed there for three nights and toured as much as we could of Lancaster County. I have to say I was totally in love with this beautiful, quaint little world and was saddened to have to leave. We enjoyed trying some of their foods such as shoofly pie and whoopee pies. They are big on good home cooking although they do use lots of lard and starches. It is good but not so healthy. We enjoyed a tour of a typical one room Amish school house and Amish house. We also had a 20 minute buggy ride driven by a real Amish man. We enjoyed talking to him about his life, faith and family. The rolling farmlands were picturesque. These people are hard workers and keep their beautiful farms in very tidy order. They are industrious, creative, and successful people. We saw many different sects of the "plain" people living and working amongst each other. For example we saw Old Order Amish, the strictest group, alongside of Mennonite people. Then you have the Beachy Amish who drive cars and are not as strict. It did seem that there was a lot of unity amongst the different groups within the "plain" people. I truly loved the community and hope to visit again one day. One thing I learned that disappoints me is that the Old Order Amish do not allow any musical instruments. They like music, but they do not allow their people to use instruments. Nonetheless they have a very peaceful and special way of life. It was so fun to go and experience a dream come true with my dear husband.

Monday is washday, and you can see clotheslines at every farm.

We saw several of these one room schoolhouses, and the children will usually wave to people passing by.

This is what a teenage girl's room might look like. The amish cover their windows with the green shades, but teenagers get a little more liberty during their rumspringa years before they officially join the church. That is why this room has curtains and not just the green shades. Also, the white aprons would be worn by the girls to church and the black for everyday. That would be the case at least in this particular community. My understanding is that different communities have differing distinguishing marks in style of dress, color of buggies, etc.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thoughts on Christmas

Merry Christmas, All! I thought I would share a few links that really grabbed my attention. This first one distresses me so much. What ever happened to good old fashioned baby dolls? When did girls start wanting to be divas instead of ladies?

The next link has some profound things to say about preparing our hearts for Christmas. This blog is written by Ann Voskamp, author of "One Thousand Gifts" By the way, if you have not read that book you need to! Her book has REALLLY challenged me; it is so good I am reading it through a second time. Anyway, I think you will be touched by this post.

(Well, the link is not coming up so just go to this address and read Ann's post on how to prepare for Christmas)

We are having a sick week at our home. Our three youngest girls have been EXTREMELY ill. Abbie Joy ended up in the emergency room late Sunday night. It was the croup, and she is breathing better now. There has been a lot of fussing, crying, coughing and gagging going on. We are praying that all will be well by Christmas. Annagrace told me this morning that she hopes she is well by Christmas or she won't get to eat our traditional cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. I love it that she is thinking ahead to our traditions. I love family traditions! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Someone Just Turned Three!

It is hard to believe, but my Abigail Joy just turned three! Where has the time gone? I can so remember the misery I was in during my last trimester with her. She was my hardest pregnancy at the end, but she was worth it!!! Lauren and I enjoyed shopping and putting together a cupcake theme for Abbie Joy's birthday. After Annagrace's purple themed party last month Abbie Joy really wanted a PINK party. Thankfully the cupcake theme was very accommodating to her wishes. :) Lauren made the cupcakes and decorated the dining room for me. I cannot tell you how nice it is to have a daughter who likes to bake and decorate. With all I have going on it is nice to be able to hand some of that over to her. You can see in one of the pictures where Lauren was leading Abbie Joy into the party room; so sweet! We are very thankful for Abbie Joy and all the life she brings to our family. :)

Fall Table

I hear so many speakers/authors talking about the importance of the family table these days. My understanding is that with our crazy busy culture many families rarely even sit and eat together anymore. Because of this many speakers on family issues are encouraging people to rethink their commitments so that they can prioritize the family meal time. Meal time is a time for sharing and fellowship. Now I will be the FIRST to say that meal time is not a relaxing time at our house. With lots of little people it is more chaotic than anything. Even so it is my desire to work toward that goal of meal time being a haven; a time where the family gathers and gives thanks and shares about our lives and about the Lord's faithfulness. Author/speaker Sally Clarkson talks a lot about creating atmosphere in our homes. She encourages small steps such as lighting a candle or playing classical music. Sometimes little efforts can go a long ways in communicating that meal time is special and important. When our children are grown I hope that they always look forward to coming back to the family table and sharing times of togetherness. As I said, we have a long ways to go in this but I do think it is important enough to work at. These pictures show a recent attempt I made in this area. I just used our glass dishes instead of paper plates and added little pumpkin cut outs from the dollar store. I also lit a fall scented candle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall Activities

We have been busy at home this fall. These pictures reflect some of the sorts of activities especially my little ladies have been busy with. Abbie Joy is a busy little girl, and so I try to keep her engaged with hands on activities as much as possible. It helps keep her out of trouble, and she likes to work on things. We sort most of our manipulatives in plastic shoe boxes. Often times she will ask for an activity box, and we will set up something for her to work on at our little preschool table. Lilly Faith is even aware of where we keep the boxes and is showing lots of interest as well. One fun thing we recently did was make homemade holiday scented play dough. It was messy, but it did smell good. It had all the holiday spices, and the children used pumpkin cookie cutters to cut out pumpkins. My little girls love to make things, do crafts and do learning activities. The more I can keep their hands busy the smoother things seem to go. Thankfully my older two are learning to branch out some on their own with some of their studies. It is helping that I do not have to sit with them for every subject. All of it is a juggling act and I am always tweaking, but I do feel good about giving the little girls fun things to do with their hands.

Happy Birthday Tea Party

Today Abbie Joy turned three years old. Her Daddy was gone and she was sick. Lilly Faith is sick too. I thought some herb tea would be good for the girls, so we had an unplanned for birthday tea. Abbie Joy thought it was fun that Mama joined the party at the little table, and then we decided to bring over our singing tea pot that the girls have had so much fun with. It was one of those special moments that happen with no planning involved. Just for the record Abbie Joy enjoyed her first peppermint tea tonight, and Lilly Faith had chamomile tea. Mama added in a little honey for their coughs. Hopefully tomorrow Miss Abbie Joy will have a really fun birthday party as we celebrate with Daddy. The other special thing we did today was purchase the Bambi movie and let her watch it for the first time. It was cute to see her watching it with a smile on her face.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seven Quick Takes

It has been a while since I last did a Seven Quick Takes so here goes........

1. Yesterday I tried my hand at crocheting again. I am currently working on a black and white dish rag. So far so good. Although I like knitting I do think crochet is easier.

2. This is a conversation I had with Abbie Joy today.
Me: "We are going to eat lunch."
Abbie Joy: "I don't like lunch."
Me: "We are going to have good food."
Abbie Joy: "I not like spinach." Where in the world did she get the idea we were having spinach??? So silly!

3. I am currently reading the book of Job. It has been a long time since I read much in Job, and there are some really profound and also some humorous things in that book. One thing is for sure, the book of Job sure puts into perspective the magnitude of the Creator in comparison to the smallness of the created.

4. What's cooking tonight? Potato soup in the crock pot. I love this time of year when I can do a lot of my cooking in the crock pot. It works out so much better for me to cook in the day instead of in the craziness of the afternoons.

5. Surprises? Gabriel started throwing up yesterday morning and has continued into today. You just never know around here. I was up and ready for a blessed day at church and had no idea that was coming. So far there are no other victims. I hope it stays that way.

6. Bible Study: I am currently working through the Elizabeth George Bible Study, "Loving God with All Your Mind." I just started it. One take away so far is that the way to combat negative thoughts, emotions, etc. is by focusing on what is true.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Phil 4:8 ESV We need to USE the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" -Eph 6:17 to help us defeat anger, fear, and negative emotions. That has been a good reminder to me.

7. Blunders....well, I totally ruined a good soup last week by cooking it in the crock pot when it should have been prepared on the stove. I could have cried. It had ingredients like corn starch and tomato soup that just could not handle the simmering all day. I felt so disappointed but a lesson was learned. Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, November 4, 2011

One More Reformation Day Picture.........

I somehow missed this one and cannot leave it out. I love this precious picture of Anangrace, I mean Ms Patty Cake. I tell you, she is a very sweet spot in our family. She tries very hard to obey and be helpful and for the most part makes mature decisions. I am so thankful for the SWEETNESS she brings to our whole family. Earlier this week Annagrace had the excitement of going on a date with her Daddy. He explained to her that one day a young man will want to take her out, but he MUST go to her daddy and have a talk first. Her daddy plans to protect her and guide her through that process much later on down the road. :)

Reformation Day Continued..............

Here are some group shots including the silly face one with the cat! My children chose to dress up as a knight, reformation princesses, a cat, and Ms Patty Cake. We really did love the spiritual focus our church placed on the day by celebrating an incredible thing God did on that day in history.

Reformation Day Celebration!

This year we had the opportunity to attend our first Reformation Day Party ever! I have read about such parties but never knew of one anywhere near us. Can't you just imagine my delight when I found out that our very own church was going to host one? Reformation Day, when Martin Luther nailed the 99 thesis on the door of the church in Wittenberg, is on October 31st. Luther's work spurred on the work of the Protestant Reformation. What a wonderful thing to celebrate! So, my children put on some fun costumes, and we went and celebrated God's hand in history. What a fun and uplifting way to spend October 31st!


"And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds." Genesis 1:25

Living out here we have seen a lot of interesting nature. Some things we might rather not see, but there is never a lack of surprise or activity going on out here. One evening I was taking my younger girls on a wagon ride when I nearly ran right into this surprise.............BABY SKUNKS!!!

Summer Sea Quest

I am Still trying to catch up on months of activity here on this blog. I just wanted to share a few pics from our church VBS back in July. My children enjoyed going on a Summer Sea Quest and learning about Jonah. These photos are of the end of the week program. Lauren is in the group picture on the back row near the middle. In the other pics you can see us trying to keep little people busy during the show. :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just trying to get a quick picture...........

In yesterday's long post I mentioned how there is a lot of training going on with a certain two year old in our home right now. I think this series of pictures will shed some light on her passionate personality. We were on our way to VBS at our church last July, and all I wanted was one sweet picture with everyone SMILING (PLEASE!) Do you even know how hard it is to get a good picture of all five of them??? Look at what a ham Abbie Joy was. She could not be still for a second. You can see in the pics that she just kept moving. Yes, definitely a LOT of training going on with this precious girl right now. She is a very determined little thing and very strong. By God's grace I pray Matt and I can shape and mold her passion and strength to be a mighty warrior for God's kingdom. If she directs her energies into serving the Lord she could do so much for His glory. I don't think she will ever be one to sit still. She is a mover and a shaker.