What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


There is just too many totally unrelated pictures in this post to follow my usual blogging protocol of pictures then words.   Halfway through January and I am just as scatterbrained as ever.

  I'll just chime in as I get the urge, if you don't mind.  Because... it's raining outside, dreary and gray,  school is done for the day and blogging these ever-growing outdated photographs just seemed right.

As you can see, I have already taken some goals to heart.  Curtains hung, check.  Beautiful pictures, check.  Rainbow, just a bonus.

garlic dill cheese. 

The week before hosting our Christmas party I decided I needed to make some applesauce from our stored apple supply.  Incidentally, it was the very day that Matt tackled his own big project (further down in the post) making the house very....messy.

Though somehow miraculously these photos make is seem as though applesauce canning can be tidy and clean.   Ha.  This just proves that pictures LIE.

I need to have another applesauce making day because.... this:

feedbags full of apples

We've been under the weather here a bit...

Ineke's favorite spot is on the grate right above our woodstove.  It blows warm air up and she toddles over and plops down- then thinks things through and grabs herself a blanket, a bottle and something to look at and then plops down again.

Poor sick-eyed baby.  (She is on the mend now.)

venison stew

The "Papa Project" a few days before company.

Sure, saw the walls out in the dining room!  Yeah.  Awesome.  

This is the doorway.  The doorway that broke part of Ineke's jaw and two lower teeth.  (It was too wide for a babygate, even the extra long ones.)  The doorway that draws all the cold winter air right into our house.  We hang a quilt over it in winter (very fashionable, I assure you.  Not.) and when the south wind blows, the blanket waves along on the air current, making it not only freezing cold but pretty darn depressing to see a blanket waving like a flag inside a building.

The best solution to both problems was to put in doors.  Awesome idea.

Doing it the week of a Christmas shin-dig?  Less so.

(never a good sign.)

Matt polyurethaned the molding one evening, but I totally get credit for doing the doors.  Every last little grid of it.  BOTH sides.  All by myself.  UGH.

The finished product?  LOVE IT.


Brought to you by the letter "B":
Broccoli, chicken and cheese bread braid in bad light.
Broccoli, chicken and cheese bread braid baked.  In bad light.

We've been trying to really buckle down on home-learning and we've been succeeding somehow...

I'd be almost proud of myself if I didn't know that we had just as many "little boys putting pencil curlers in his sisters' hair" moments.

Corynn after a very traumatic hair cut.

Thank you, Locks of Love, for making it easier somehow.  (For the both of us.)

breakfast.  WHY do I take these pictures?!?!

She loves her Papa's shoes.

A baby hat I made for a Christmas Day baby.  If you wanna see the hat with baby inside, go here.

Another baby hat made for a friend...

Did I already blog this?

a heavy load
The boys went hunting for the first time this year.  Judah needed a hunting vest.  I went to Walmart and got a $2.97 shirt and made one for him.

(The boys strategizing, morning of...)

After Christmas, the next big job is thank you notes.  The children draw their own and then I print copies for them.  This way, they don't get tired of drawing pictures but instead can do a really great job on one.  (And then get tired of writing the messages.)

Here are this years', for posterity.

(Corynn drew the one of Matt and I and gave it to me as a Christmas present.) Corynn drew the horse, Andrew~ the bunny, Adele~ the snowpeople and Judah~ the lion.  In case you couldn't guess.

If each of these thank-you notes represented ONE present for one child (and indeed, some of them were much more! ), think of all the extra things we now own!  No wonder January often seems cluttered to me!  I have a bit of purging of old, broken, unloved or just plain excess things to do in order to make room.  We are very rich, indeed.

Who is that cutie?  That, my friends, is a little Mattie.  

I'm reading a gift-wish that Matt granted me this Christmas, Bandersnatch.  And I love it.

 I was knitting a bright orange hat for Matt to take on a hunting drive that he went on last weekend.  I cast on three days before Saturday and that is how far I got.  I should have known that finishing something three days after beginning it is WAY over-ambitious for me.   I am both slow AND busy- not a good combination for a knitter.  Now, with the hunting drive over, I don't feel like finishing it.  But I will.  And then I will tuck it away for a next hunting season surprise.

And now I leave you with a marshmellow baby.  Because I am pretty much in love with rompers and tights.  And pointy little heads.

Have you noticed?


Thursday, January 12, 2017

FOCUSED: Goals for 2017

It's already practically halfway through the first month of this new year!  How can it be?

In the beginning of January, I always spend a fair amount of time thinking of specific goals I have for the new year and I look through the previous years' goals to see how I stacked up.  I dreaded looking back to see how miserably I had failed when to my utter amazement and delight, I found that I hadn't made any!  I was drowning in milk at the time (my own and our cows'), had a brand spankin' new baby and apparently, enough sense to know my limits.  Survive the day was my goal and it totally worked!  Here I am!

But the fact is, survival mode is great when necessary but it can't last forever.

I continued to tread water throughout the year even as my legs were rested and I had gotten my breath back and could have made some actual strides.  Contentment with what I could sanely accomplish given all the balls in the air (a good thing!) turned into complacency...not bothering to add any new (and important) balls once I had found my rhythm. The result over an entire year became poor stewardship of time, person and finances and a year behind me where I didn't make any real strides.   That, coupled with several unforeseeable circumstances, has left me feeling pretty blue.  And kinda like a failure.

And the best thing for me when those feelings hit is the next thing.  I need some goals in my life.   I need to stop thinking and start doing.  A plan.  A schedule.  A goal.  A list.  One foot in front of the other, moving on to the one next thing.  The key is focus.  And focus was what I was lacking in 2016.

So here is a list of goals to help me get back on track this year.  Some will be pretty typical of New Years' resolutions, some not so much.  As usual, the more specific the goal, the more easily I can see if progress was made...so I am all about SPECIFICS.


 * Memorize 12 key portions of scripture important for an apologist.  (I still need to come up with this list.)

* make daily personal Bible reading a habit

* Put a few pieces of art around the house to make it more gezzellig.  I recently added curtains to the living room and that helped substantially.

* write at least three letters per month

* buy NO YARN in all of 2017- use only from the stash

* make a baby album for Judah

* Read aloud a chapter book to children before bed at least 3 nights a week

* Plan/organize homeschooling at the beginning of each month

* Personal Learning- free online Shakespeare course and C.S.Lewis course from Hillsdale College and Wes Callihans' The Histories (devote at least two times per week)

And since I gained another 10 pounds just in Nov/Dec.- there have to be a few wellness goals too...

* lose 17 pounds in 2017 (I could lose 25-30 but let's make it attainable, shall we?)  Method: no Coke.  Less carbs/sugar and more protein/veggies.

* kettlebells or cardio at least three times a week

Financial ~

* Pay off hospital debt and save the necessary fundage for Andrews' dental work this year.

* Remember to give Matt a portion of his paycheck for his own spending/saving so he doesn't feel stifled and broke all the time.

* Grocery shop ONCE A MONTH all year long.  I anticipate this being a big money saver, but a huge time saver as well.  Every grocery day was a day off of school- sometimes I even used it as an excuse when I didn't feel like doing school.  And it isn't all that fun shopping with five children anyway.  I'll go on Saturday mornings, early. (And by myself or with Ineke.)  It will be a fruitful change- but it will require much more planning and organization on my part.

* Restart the envelope system and budgeting that I slacked off on in 2016  There is a big difference in what money can accomplish when it is allocated to specific places and not just slipping through the cracks.

* Save money for the upcoming bedrooms re-do that Matt is already talking about this summer so we can pay for it in cash. ACK!  Another home project...will they ever end?!?

* Look into changing car/home insurance suppliers

* Re-do a budget for the year and re-evaluate every month.  Have a booze/budget meeting with Matt to keep him on board with our financial situation several times throughout the year.

Hopestead ~

* said bedroom re-do (adding insulation to walls, re-wiring, etc.)  This is a cosmetic change only by accident.  The main reason is very practical- safety and warmth.

* repaint the living room

* look into all that is involved with (and possibly start) dog breeding as a side business

* fix/replant/move the strawberry patch.

* add grapes (this is like the fourth year that I have had this goal and it hasn't happened.  I hope this is the year!)

What about you?  Do you make goals for the New Year?  If so- spill 'em!  

Friday, January 06, 2017

Comfort and Joy


Was your Christmas a happy one?  I hope so!

Ours was lovely.  I loved having Christmas on a Sunday and was utterly flummoxed to hear that church was cancelled for some people.  ???  Andrew woke up at 5 am to give his gift to Papa (we've properly indoctrinated him with this book through the years), doing morning chores in the barn for him.  Afterward, we all gathered for present giving.  Church.  Feasting.  Neighbors came in the evening and all was quiet and calm and peaceful with an undertone of joy and gladness.

Bigger gift exchanges followed over New Years, including us hosting my side of the family which fills the house to the brim with mostly children.  The "cousins" all draw names for a gift exchange.  Adele' stitched up a backpack which was downright adorable (I stitched around the mouse and she did all the other sewing) to go along with an Angelina Ballerina book.  Judah painted a canvas and I painted a silhouette overtop.  There was jewelry made, stationary, headbands, a cowl, some hats, canned goods, woodburned spoons and ornaments and (my personal favorites) two peg doll nativity sets.  One for my niece and nephew and one for Ineke (though Adele' enjoys playing with it as much or more.)  Matt made the mangers and I painted the dolls.  (I really love painting peg people!)  My favorites were the three kings and the camels.  I used gold nailpolish in those super skinny brushes to add gold accents which just made them, in my opinion.  The stars on the manger were made from sculpey clay.

The neighbors all got freshly made cinnamon rolls and peppermint ornaments and our church folk all got homemade cheeses.  A few gifts were scrapped at about 1 am because of too little fabric, too many failed attempts and too little gumption and a few gifts never made it from idea to reality.  Christmas seems such a wonderful time to make and do the things I wish I could do all year long that I inevitably keep adding to the list until it becomes a virtual impossibility.  My favorite gift of all the childrens' was a wooden castle cast-off that my Mom passed along to us.  I've wanted one of those for the children for a very long time but they are too costly.  I am so grateful she shared it with us! Painted castle peg people were one of those gifts that never made it to fruition.  Thankfully, we have playmobil people that work quite nicely.  We also have an Ineke who loves the castle for her very own.  She must be part princess.

Many of the children at our church took part in a little production at church and recited memory poems on Sunday.  Ours did the advent poems from here. (I, II, III, IV).  They all worked very hard on them and did very well in reciting them every day.  It was their first time performing for an audience, which is always a bit nerve-wracking and Adele' withered a bit...but she persevered until the end, even through some tears.  I was very proud of all of them.  Not just my own children but all the children who stood up there nervously and did their recitations and sang.  There is nothing sweeter.

I spent yesterday and today cleaning up all the Christmas things.  Christmas is officially packed up in boxes once again, with the exception of a few strands of Christmas lights here and there to keep some sparkle around for these dark and cold winter days ahead.  The living room is sparse and bare.  It always takes some getting used to- the plainness following Christmas.

But plainness is a good thing too.   It provides opportunity for quiet and slow and undistracted, clean and clear and uncluttered.  Space.  Focus.   All these things are things I could really, really, really use right now.  There are many plans, many hopes, many goals for this New Year all swirling about my brain right now.  Focus is definitely a good thing.

There is nothing quite so exciting as a new year stretched before you, and all the wonder of what it might hold.   Happy New Year!