Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Summer List and Eclipse x2

We finally spent some time on the boat with my parents.  How have we gone all summer with no fishing fun?  As a kid I always loved going to Tom's Donuts by Lake James and walking up to the window to get my fresh donut.  It's become a fun thing for my children now too.  Throw donuts in with boat fun and you've got a great day!

Alegra did a blog post here about the fun on the boat but here are a few of my favorite pictures.

 Josiah got brave and jumped in.  This wouldn't have happened in previous years.

August 21 we planned to spend the day at Pokagon State Park to watch the eclipse take place.  We had invited many friends to join us for a hike, picnic lunch, and viewing party.  Our day went much different than I had planned.  I was thinking we wouldn't have very many people join us, but I was wrong on that.  I also thought we'd leave at a certain time, but we got left late.  I also thought our hike would be a long one, but that got changed as well.  Keep reading to hear about our exciting day filled with fun and what life seems to be about lately- fellowship amongst the adventure.

We had one more cow getting close to having a baby.  She's a late one, but was pregnant, so we roll with it.  We've been keeping an eye on her, and this morning, she was by herself behind the barn when Jonathon left for work around 7:45am.  He came in and reported, and I asked him if he wanted me to cancel my plans and stay home.  Nope, just go.  I was busy trying to get lunches packed but noticed out the window that Rosie (our pregnant girl) was up on the hill with the rest of the cows.  I didn't notice any discharge, so figured she would be later in the day.  But I also noticed that she walked out in the pasture further behind the barn.  I sent Josiah out to check on her, but since he couldn't see her behind the barn, he assumed she was in the lane with the rest of the girls.  I finished making sandwiches and at 9:00am when we were supposed to be leaving, I ran out to check on her after everyone was loaded up.  Ran to the lane- no Rosie.  Ran around the house to the back of the barn- no Rosie.  Wait, I see her head in the field.  Walked up the hill just enough to see she had discharge now. My mama/cow midwife self prayed for her while watching her behaviour.   She was still contracting but wasn't lifting her head like the others had done during labor, and she started mooing sweet sounds.  Wait, is she licking off a baby?  I quickly walked up the hill to see a beautiful little calf on the ground being licked and nudged to get up.  I had just missed the whole thing.  Josiah probably would've seen it happen if he would've looked to find her.  

  I ran back and told everyone they could get out to see the new baby and we stood in awe of new life on the farm once again.  It's so special and feels like blessing raining down each time it happens.  Rosie didn't seem the least bit worried about us standing there watching, but we didn't get too close either.  We have one mean mama, so we keep our distance until we know for sure how they'll be.  Everyone loaded back up, and we headed out the driveway, 30 minutes late, but we have a new baby, and I wasn't worrying about her all day.  

We arrived at Pokagon and after everyone took a potty break, we hit the trail.  I decided with Hadassah needing the potty sooner than the rest of us, we'd change what trail we were hiking, so we had better access to the bathroom for her.  We hiked down by the tobbogan and to the nature center.  

My mom came along and so did Jonathon's sister, Miranda.  We had a good hike, then took a break at the nature center.  Did puzzles, coloring, watched birds including a molting blue jay that looked quite funny, and Josiah showed my mom the bee observatory.

Back to the trail.  We were going to do Trail 1 loop, then head to the Inn, but halfway through the loop, Miranda spotted a snake going across the trail and exclaimed that it was eating a toad.  The snake sat just off the trail, so with a stick we moved some branches and greenery out of the way so we could watch this amazing act of nature.  That snake cooperated and stayed right there for us to watch.  Amazing!  The children enjoyed that very much.

Since we took a long time watching the snake, we decided to turn around and head back towards the inn.  We had friends coming to meet up for lunch, and I didn't want them to wait on us.

We had our lunch then enjoyed lots of play time with friends, playing football, viewing the eclipse, and sitting around visiting.

For me, the biggest thing that made my day feel full and complete was that I was there surrounded with so many friends.  I sat down to count the families and there was a total of 44 people that came out to view the eclipse with us.  I'm so thankful for all the people in my life from different walks, areas, and times of my life.  I would've loved to get a group photo, but with so many children that would've been near impossible.  :)  Thank you to all of you who came out to party with us!

The eclipse was really fascinating to watch.  Alegra took the picture below by putting protective glasses over her lens.  We all enjoyed taking turns with the glasses that were there, sharing with one another to get a glimpse of the rare happening, and getting to look at it through a telescope that the astronomical society brought in.  We saw crescent shadows on the ground and definitely felt a temperature change as it happened.  Since we weren't in a total eclipse area, we didn't notice other changes that happen when it gets really dark.  It did get darker but not a huge amount.  I believe our area saw 85% coverage.  The next one happening in 2024 should be much closer to being a total.  We look forward to that!

Back on the farm our new baby was doing well.  She's a beauty.  We artificially inseminated Rosie with a hereford, but I don't think it took looking at the baby.  She was also in contact with an angus bull, so I'm guessing that's where our baby got the black from.  We were anxious to see if this was a boy or girl, so we checked when we got home, and we have another girl to add to the herd.  Just what we were praying for!

Jonathon went out and gave them both a good spraying down with natural fly repellent and Rosie didn't mind him getting that close one bit.  Super happy about her demeanor with having a calf.

The farmer and I headed out after supper to get this little girl tagged as our 3rd calf on the farm.  Rosie came over and checked us out while we were doing it, but she was fine with it.  This little girl was properly named "Eclipse".  She seems strong and healthy and sweet as can be.  We're blessing Yahweh for another new calf and healthy delivery.

I'm still delighting in my day yesterday over the hugs, conversations, prayers, and fellowship with my sisters in Christ.  Some may only remember the amazing eclipse that happened in the sky, but I'll be remembering all the sweetness that surrounded me all day long.  Thank you, again, to all of you who were a part of my sweet day!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friend Time

Sometimes life throws curve balls, and God does some work that only He can do.  He separates people.  He brings people together.  He reunites people.  He changes perspectives.  

We've certainly enjoyed having our friends back in the "area" (lower Michigan), so we can hang out again.  It doesn't happen as much as we'd like, but it's better than nothing.  We are thankful for so many friends to live life with, even if it means we don't live day to day with them, but only in encouraging talks once a month or once every couple months.   

Josiah and his buddy, Quin

 We meet them at Pokagon as it seems to be a good meeting point.  This day we checked out the new bee observatory hive.  We found the queen and Josiah explained what each bee was doing, what they were called, and about the different cells.  This boy sure knows his bee stuff!

 There is always football involved in our get togethers.

 The girls and their friend, Gabi. 
We swapped kids for a couple nights, so we got Gabi and sent Josiah with Quin.  The girls had an absolute ball watching old musicals and riding the 4 wheeler.

 Diella stopped so Gabi would get wet in the sprinkler.

 Diella getting smacked for it.  :)

So much laughter.

Checking another thing off the list.  Get togethers with friends were at the top of our list.  Haven't accomplished all the friends, but I think they are all scheduled at least.  We got a room painted, garden harvest done, visits to parks, sleep overs, and some water fun.  More to come....

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Family on the Farm

This month was a pretty empty month when it first started.  With school just around the corner, we are trying to squeeze in everything that we've wanted to do all summer that we've just been too busy for.  We've gone kayaking, played family football with friends, got together with special friends, had sleepovers, and campfires.  We shared a campfire with family this day and always enjoy when they can come to the farm.  

Alyssa and her children don't get to the farm too often, but when they do, the children soak it all up.  We put Kyle to work helping pick up rocks out of the field, but they mostly just enjoy the animals and all the space to play.

Uncle Jonny sure is good for these children.  He treats them like his own, and they love him for it!  For supper we grilled chicken over the fire, so before they left we had to make some smores.

Saphira and Mallorie are good friends.

Some very serious roasting going on here.  Extreme concentration to get it just perfect!  :D

The summer is flying by, and for some school has already started.  We are thankful to be on a different schedule enjoying time together enjoying the warm weather still.  We are also glad when we can be hospitable to friends and family.  It's what we love most, to share time and life with those we love.  More memories to be had this summer.  We're checking things off our list and having fun doing it!  I hope you all are still soaking up some warm, enjoying the outside, and working in the fresh air.  It keeps the body alive and makes one feel full of life.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy 20 Year Anniversary to us!!

Twenty Years!!!  My, how the time does fly right by, whether you're having fun or not.  Thankfully, these days, we are having fun, but it hasn't always been that way.  God has brought us through rocky times in our marriage that almost caused us to separate and live our lives apart.  I praise HIM for doing a work in both of us that allowed us to live life to the fullest with each other.  He can change hearts and mend broken spirits.  HIS restoration is powerful and worth all the hard work of sticking it out to become better people together.  

We took a long weekend and headed to the Chicago area.  We could see the John Hancock from a distance (14 miles away) as we approached our hotel.  It was nice to know we were so close to Chicago, yet far enough away to not feel like we were in the craziness of it.  

After getting all the children situated , we headed west.  We made arrangements with some friends in Valpo to stop by for a visit.  They were kind enough to share a meal with us and lots and lots of visiting too.  Loved our peaceful, backyard visit with the Slagers!
From there, we headed to our destination, Countryside, IL.  And right next to it was LaGrange, IL.  We felt right at home.  :)

The first morning we woke up and found a wonderful cafe that was jammed pack with people and filled with good food.  It was located in a downtown area that was busy, yet quaint.  With all the people standing in line, we thought for sure our wait would be a long time, but they got us seated right away.  We forgot what it's like to travel and dine without 6 children.  Everything is easier.  :)

After breakfast we headed to Go Ape, a treetop experience with zip lines.  Let's just say that I loved it and Jonathon did not.  Apparently he would rather keep his feet on the ground.  There was one moment where I felt a little funny in my eyes from being so high up, but I made it to the next platform and all was fine after that.  He struggled with taking that step off the platform to do the zip line.  He might have looked a little scared.  :)  

 There were 5 different stations.  We moved our trolley, that was attached to a harness that we were in, from one cable to the next.  Lots of safety learning ahead of time.  Every station had a ladder that we climbed to the first platform.  Then from there there were boards to walk on in the air, wires to walk on, rope walls to climb across, all while being way up in the air.    Some of the areas gave you an option whether you wanted to do moderate or extreme or difficult or extreme.  They weren't kidding when they said "extreme".  I'm still sore from some of those extreme sections.
Every landing from the zip line was special.  Jonathon ripped his jeans on one of his landings and I always thought I would make it facing forward, but always ended up sideways then backwards.  Made for an awkward landing, but funny.

I wish these pictures could truly show how high up we were.  The height didn't bother me, but some of the more wobbly parts of the course were unnerving.  

 This was the very last section before the longest zip line.  Right before this we did the Tarzan jump.  Talk about a rush of some kind.  You walk off a platform into mid air.  You drop and drop until your cable catches, then you swing across the forest into this large rope wall.  You bounce off of that the first time, then grab it the second time and climb up to the next platform.  We did it at the same time and both screamed the whole time we dropped.  I've never done anything like that!  

After our fun activity, we went back to the hotel for showers because we were both sweaty and dirty.  What a workout all that climbing and balancing was.  After we were cleaned up, we headed back to the downtown area where we ate breakfast.  We went to an Olive Oil and Vinegar store where we could taste different flavored oils and vinegars.  That was interesting.  We looked around a chocolate shop.  Then we decided to get an early supper, and Jonathon chose a steakhouse.  We walked into the building and then had to go to the basement to the actual restaurant.  Below was the entrance.  

We shared a meal and it was everything we both hoped for.  The steak was delicious, the sides were full of flavor, and the atmosphere was fun too.

After a lovely supper out, we did some much needed shopping without children, grabbed some sweet treats and headed back to the hotel for the evening.  We brought along the time capsule that was given to us for a wedding gift.  We opened it on our 10 year anniversary and again for this anniversary.  We plan on putting some new information in it, along with updated letters from family and friends.  If you want to contribute something, feel free to mail us something to put in.  We really enjoy reading through the letters from grandparents and parents.  Made me tear up as most of the family that contributed letters have passed away.  Even Jonathon expressed how he missed some of my family that were gone.  Sweet moments for us in remembering back.

The handwriting and the thoughts....brings back such memories. 

The hotel gave us free vouchers for a full breakfast at their restaurant, so the next morning we got up and went for a free breakfast.  Jonathon had waffles with berries and I had a veggie omelet with potatoes.  All was very good but not quite as good as the Blueberry Hill Cafe we went to before our zip lining expedition.

This area in Illinois is full of parks, so we decided to check one out before leaving to go home.  Of course we would pick the one with a waterfall.  It was small but so beautiful.  I could've sat there all day.  I told Jonathon if we had a place like this near us, school would be done by the falls every week.  There's just something so enjoyable about moving water.  It was the perfect place for little ones to play and enjoy nature.
We enjoyed passing moms with little ones and commenting on the children.  We might have started missing ours by this point.  ;)  Little ones in the way on the trail....we made sure the moms knew it was no problem at all.
On our way home, we made a farm store stop and a Hobby Lobby stop.  Our trip was complete.  :)