Letters From Home, Volume 1

Letters from Home is my new format to stay personally connected with my readers even as I endeavor to fulfill my vision of maturing my blog into a resource for a growing audience. So, whenever I have home news to share, I’ll do it under that heading, kind of like the letters I wrote my brother while he was in boot camp.

The kiddos with Uncle Jordan

Speaking of Jordan…
My Marine brother graduated right up near the top of his class and went on to get into just the specialized military he had his sights on  (something to do with bombs and tanks and such). He is now continuing his training and half the time I don’t know what state he’s in. But he did get a chance to visit over Labor Day. He adores the kids and the feeling is mutual.

Claire helped drop (clean, decorative) rocks into the water

We started school this month – even before I’d done the laundry from our trip!! I was determined to get a good start with our first official year of school, and new that if I stuck to my routine I’d make steady progress on all the other things we had to do. Sure enough, we now have 3 weeks of school under our belt, and the house is beginning to feel organized again. (The photos are from hands-on learning about Aesop’s Fable, the Crow and the Pitcher)

Jesse uses a straw ‘beak’ to reach the water

I wanted to use 31 Days To Clean for the month of September, but found I was going to be stressed try to match the exact pattern of the book, so I’m gleaning from the wonderful perspective and advice throughout the book, but doing my own list of daily tasks. Jesse, Claire and I do an hour of chores each morning after breakfast and before school, and that is helping me make steady progress – even to organizing long-jumbled shelves and cupboards. No, the kids don’t work a whole hour – they have specific chores to do along side me, then they get some play time in before school. I took a bunch of photos during chore time the other day so I could make them picture chore cards like Lindsay – I know they’ll enjoy the clear, visual reminder of their responsibilities, and the satisfaction of transfering the cards to the ‘done’ envelope.

Seth climbs to see what’s going on!

In blog news, we’ve had constant computer issues since the spring. We had carbonite keep our data safe, but I was having to do all my writing and internet stuff on this tiny little netbook we have, and had no access to my archives of photos and my beloved bookmarks. At last, this week, we have a new desktop up and running, which means I will be able to resume work on formatting my book for kindle and nook, and finally including photos in my posts with more regularity. (remember the days of show-and-tell blogging? They’re coming back, friends!) Also, I’m really looking forward to getting into vlogging more!

While the computer was out of commission, I got in the habit of taking photos on my phone and emailing them to All That Is Good’s Facebook page just so I felt like I was staying current. My new thing is to take a quick photo of dinner each night and send it to the Real Fast Food page – this helps keep me motivated to create real, nutritious meals for my family, and also hopefully inspire you to do the same! (I just have to mention, that was my first ever screen shot – and I did it by myself using this easy tutorial and just one phonecall to my husband! LOL)

Jesse’s drawing is really starting to develop! He loves art time.

The apple harvest from our orchard was dissapointingly small – we usually have to press 3 or 4 times to use all the apples and make 80-100 gallons of cider. This year we only pressed once and got 17 gallons, which didn’t go very far, considering we love to bless all our friends and neighbors with a gallon or two when it’s fresh. But we have a busy fall and don’t really have time for more pressing and our large freezer in which we would have stored the bounty is broken – the Lord knew! I did make more of an effort toward applesauce this year, and ended up canning about 30 jars (mostly quarts!) so we have sweet, pink applesauce for the whole winter!

Claire had help with her Crow :)

The Lord has been faithfully working in my life and heart, despite my own unfaithfulness in letting so many other things take priority over time with Him. He is showing me how it IS possible to cultivate and grow my relationship with Him in this season of motherhood IF I will make the effort. I have taken to staying off the computer completely on Tuesdays – it’s amazing how much those little moments add up and usually by bedtime I have been able to spend some good time in the Word and have been able to hear from Him because the other voices are quieted. I’d encourage you to try this yourself!

Seth joins in the fun (and poses for the camera)

I’m very inspired and encouraged by these books – if you’re in the same season as me – a busy mother of little ones, sobered by the tremendous responsibility of training and teaching them, these titles will bring hope to your heart…

Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids.

These are affiliate links – if you click through and make a purchase from the links in this post, you support All That Is Good – thank you!

Picnic In the Orchard

Whenever I pack them a picnic lunch, Jesse makes a beeline for the pear tree, calling his sister to keep up with him, all the way out back to the orchard.

He spreads the blanket, then the napkin, and carefully dolls out the cheese tortillas to him and his sister. He even keeps an eye on Little Brother when mommy runs back to the house for her camera.

Then he picks me a flower.

I love him.

It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good…

Many people were affected by the tornadoes through the southern states in the past month. We even had some wind damage up here – the Pergola my husband made me for our 4th anniversary collapsed. When I came home and saw it I almost cried – accept that that very afternoon we had heard news that friends in NC had lost their home in the storms. What’s a little pergola when you have gone through the trauma of a tornado totaling your house??? It kinda put things in perspective for me. But that was just part of the story…

You see, the friends who lost their home are a military family. This man – we’ll call him Jay – Jay’s younger sister is a friend of mine and is engaged to be married. The problem was, between her dad and her brother’s current and upcoming deployments, they didn’t have a date and didn’t really know when the the whole family would be together to celebrate a wedding.

Then a tornado came through – blew out all the windows in Jay’s house, and actually lifted the house off it’s foundation slightly – no one was hurt, but it was declared a complete loss. Jay was allowed to come back to the US to care for his wife and son and their household. They thought he was only going to be state side for a few weeks, then found out he’d be here for a few months – suddenly allowing them to go forward with wedding plans!

We are praising God for His protection of Jay’s wife and son, who were in the house when the tornado came through their neighborhood. They recieved a phonecall from from a relative out of town who was watching the weather channel and warned them. If they had not moved to the bathroom from where they had been sitting in the livingroom under the picture window, who knows what would have happened.

A personal blessing came to me out of the storm, as well. As Jay’s family sorted through their belongings, cataloging for the insurance company, they set aside the homeschool curriculum they’d used for their son last year, and sent it north – to me. An entire set of Sonlight’s Kindergarten curriculum. I’m so excited, I can hardly wait till fall when I will start with Jesse!!!

So, whenever I look out back and see the pergola, I find myself thanking God for silver linings. And look forward to a very special wedding next month.

Up in a Tree

 On the last, lovely, Indian Summer day, Jesse and I climbed a tree. (After I made him a leaf crown)

 The Maple standing beyond the orchard was our goal.

 I always wanted to be a mommy who climbed trees with her kids. Thankfully, I climbed lots of trees as I was growing up, so this was a natural progression. I have to admit, it was just a little bit trickier to haul my body up into the lower branches of the maple, and I was a lot more careful, thinking of my babies taking their naps back at the house, who would want their mommy when they woke up.

 This may be my favorite picture of my first born from the whole year.

 See? I made it.

 The view of our property – house, barn, pergola and boat from the tree.

 The Boy didn’t want to go as high as his mamma.

When I tried to capture the moment with a self portrait, my boy suddenly turned uncharacteristically silly, and purposely looked off camera for every shot. At least it was a genuine smile!

Apple Season…

…has come and gone. We picked the trees clean and pressed the final batch of cider on Labor Day. Jeremy saved out a few boxes of the best apples for me to turn into sauce, so that is what I’ve been doing today. Here’s a few photos and videos of the apple doings if you were unable to join us…

Jesse and Julia (the kitchen aid) straining applesauce. 

Jess is a great help with the applesauce. As long as he gets paid afterward – with a spoon and a fresh bowlful!

Apples under pressure.

Remember – Pressure and Trials produce beautiful things, by God’s grace.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite!

Last week our friend, Christine, was visiting and the wind inspired an impromptu kite flying session after lunch.

Christine’s kites are stunt kites, with two strings so you can make it swoop and dive and all kinds of cool stuff (if you know what you’re doing)

 She let Jesse have a go, as well as letting Claire play with the other stunt kite.

(We are honestly not sure why the Princess was dressed so frumpily that day. We suspect her mother wanted her in purple, and this was all that was left in the dresser that was the right color. We think her mother should get the laundry done more often)

My favorite part of the afternoon was realizing the fact that we had a yard big enough to fly kites in!!!

Full Bloom

Finally, our orchard bloomed. It seemed like everywhere else the fruit trees were blooming, but not ours. But I was glad ’cause I didn’t have to worry about them when we had snow last week. (Yes, can you believe? That big green maple tree in the background was dusted with snow!

Just like our magnolia tree, I didn’t realized how good apple blossoms smelled. Why did I not know this? Maybe they smell better ’cause they’re ours…

Promises of Harvest…and a little boy who loves going barefoot! :)

On Falling, Getting Up, and Continuing to Smile

The warm weather and the need for me to slow down (yes, even more) in this season of the pregnancy is what enabled me to capture these lovely photos, all from my spot on a quilt in the grass last Thursday evening…

The kids absolutely love the warm weather

There are all kinds of adventures to be had with outside toys

and the wide open spaces of the back yard.

Running through the grass together

The princess is starting to keep pace with Brother

She knows what to do when she falls down

Just get back up and keep smiling

The Princess surveying her domain…

The Year’s First Visit to the Orchard

The excuse for the cake was the company that came to help us prune our orchard. My dear friend (whom Claire is named after), her husband who’s family owns an orchard, and their two little girls. We all put boots on and tramped out to the orchard to take stock.

It was the first time Claire has walked outside.

She did so well in a pair of brother’s old snow boots, two sizes too big.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her little self, standing so confidently, watching Daddy and the tractor so intently.

Our 4 apple trees are big, old, standards – requiring the use of the tractor bucket to get to the upper branches.

I was glad we had an expert do the job – I never would have known where to start. And he said our old trees were well worth the effort.

Jesse and his friend were very busy, raking snow, stomping on old apples, and, well, we admit…throwing mud. At least The Boy was. Oops. That’s no way to treat a lady!

A Home for my Wisteria

Our new place came with a big old wisteria plant that was totally dominating a little decrepit arbor. This is the bush AFTER Jeremy trimmed it. He asked me what we could do with it, as it is an eye sore currently. I told him it needed something big to climb on that wouldn’t mind Wisteria’s take-over nature.

So, that’s what he did – for our anniversary Jeremy (and they guys) built a pergola. It’s huge. The Wisteria will LOVE it.
Thanks, Honey – it’s beautiful.
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