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

Monday, December 27, 2021

Merry Christmas!


2021.   This was the year that

~ A little pumpkinhead named Moses crawled into bed every morning at 5:15am sharp, put his chubby little arm around my neck and woke me up with a snuggle. That is, unless 4:30am suited him better.

~ Ineke became obsessed with and terrified of germs for two months or so, eventually rubbing her arms and hands raw from washing them every few minutes.  “But Mama, I just touched my face (pants/ mouth/ dog/fillintheblank) so I HAVE to wash my hands!”   We had intensive dirt therapy to fix that problem. 

~ Adele’ is no longer ‘a dress a day’ kind of girl, but has added pants into her fashion arsenal.  It has aged her considerably. Or maybe it is because she is now officially a TEENAGER.

~ The piano has been tuned, plunked and played nearly every day by Judah, Adele’ and even Ineke.  We used some “Uncle Joe” money to pay for Judah and Adele’ to take piano lessons this fall, which they are enjoying.  Judah learns on the sly some of our church songs from friends at church because learning to read music is less fun to him than actually making it.

~ Corynn graduated from (homeschool) high school, got her driver’s license and, with the help of her first ‘real’ job, experienced the great sorrow of taxes being taken out of a paycheck. She works at a little country store down the road where her ‘people person’ personality thrives.  She knows everyone by name, doodles on the pizza boxes and always comes home with entertaining anecdotes.

~ Corynn had her first road trip, ocean experience and church retreat to Outer Banks, NC.  She went with friends from church and had SO much fun and met so many wonderful people that even the memory of it gets her glowing. As does the plan of going again this February!

~ Adele’ picked up some of Corynn’s slack in the Helping Mama Dept., often taking care of the children when Corynn was practicing driving with me or being my righthand girl when Corynn was at work or off galivanting with friends.   

~ Andrew broke his record of getting a deer on the 2nd day of hunting by getting an 11 point buck (14 points, if you count the nibs) on the first  day of hunting season.  He had been salivating over that deer on his game-cam for over a year and was practically dancing in his boots when he came in from the hunt.

~ Both boys became hot commodities for neighbors, friends and family who needed some extra hands for lawn care/tree pruning/firewood splitting/ stacking/fieldwork/ and/or building and construction.  Added to that, Andrew worked for a mowing business several times a week throughout the summer and fall.  Matt now has to schedule ahead to make sure the boys have time to help their ‘old man’ out occasionally too.  The boys, of course, love it.

~ The girls and I kept records of how many books we read so far this year. Final Score (not including the Bible):

Corynn: 89   Adele’: 75   Mama:  27   Clearly, I lost big time but that isn’t counting the hundreds of storybooks I read throughout the year.  Shouldn’t they count for something?

~ Our beautiful garden turned into a swamp garden just a few weeks after planting and grew more frogs than zucchini.  I did almost zero canning this year, just at the very point when groceries nearly doubled in price and halved in quantity. 

~ We had another broken bone.  Are any of us surprised at this point?  Moses broke his foot when he rode our huge and beautiful wooden stump letter “N” like a bucking bronco right off the porch, the naughty steed landing right on his foot.  Of course, it happened mere moments after I said “Get off of there Moses or you will fall down the steps and get hurt!”  Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner. (Proverbs13:6)  He was overthroweth, alright.  Right off the porch.

~ I was intending to buy candy recently and Moses saw the candy aisle and shouted “YEAH BABY!”  It is his new phrase. (That was Andrew’s doing, by the way.)

~ Matt began a new timber frame project.  (Are any of us surprised here either?)  This one is to house our wood supply.  (I thought that was what the last one was for. )  What can I say- he relieves stress with a chisel and hammer.  I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship…(Exodus 31:3)

~ Fickle Covid, who steals the taste and sense of smell of some, or makes others sick for a day or two, visited my parents’ household and left devastation in its’ wake. Mom was hospitalized, put on a vent and in a coma for about six weeks then woke up just in time for us all to rejoice about it around the Thanksgiving table.   She has made great strides since then and each milestone is an accomplishment and a celebration.  She isn’t home yet…she’ll have to do a stint in rehab but she’ll get there.  God has been merciful to us in this. 

~ I learned that God meets people in the singing of psalms in the ICU and in the tortured cries of a dark, throbbing night.  I learned anew that my children are the most amazing people; dependable, trustworthy, responsible and kind.  I learned the great comfort a faithful husband can bring to a broken wife.   I learned what friendship really looks like…it walks alongside people in pain and says “I am here.”  I learned what kindness really means. When I have been at what seemed to be my breaking point these last few months, as I made day trips away from my own needy family to my parents’ home and to the hospital in Rochester (three hours away) each week, I had loved ones ease the burden by caring for children in my stead, loaning me cars so I wouldn’t have to drive the 12 passenger van; I had cards come in the mail, emails and check-ins, meals delivered, prayers uplifted on my families behalf; I had people willing to let me cry and meeting me in my pain, fear and frustration even though it is not pleasant or comfortable or fun.  I saw firsthand people coming together to bring meals to my Dad and siblings, to come each week and help clean and serve and love them in tangible ways.  It is overwhelming to see God’s goodness radiate right out of people.  What must heaven be like?!  There are no words to express the deep gratitude I feel to everyone who met me in the darkness and helped me to see light by being reflections of it themselves.

God spoke His word into this dark world so that we might have light.  God gave Himself to this world, to be the Light of the world.  A baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, illumined by light who is Light.  God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.  And so we celebrate!  This Christmas!  This year.  Our whole lives long.

May we all rejoice in the Light, walk in the Light and be a reflection of the Light to a dark world and to one another in the midst of their own dark nights.

A very  Merry Christmas to you all and with much love from 

The Newmans 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

This Moment

 Ineke comes in from taking cookies to a neighbor, very somber and serious.

"Mama!  This is SUPER DUPER sad..." 

(she says this twice to really prepare me for the worst.)

"What is, Ineke?"

She breathes in deep through her nose and says...

"Grandma and Grandpa AND the Martins have fake Christmas trees in their house!  FAKE!"

And then walks away muttering "FAKE Christmas trees!"

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Parks and Pools By Ineke

Hi, this is Ineke. One day we went to a play ground with our cousins this summer and after playing in the park we went to a pool!!!!!!!!! We had so much fun!!! We went on a carousel too! AND they spent the night!! There was also a kitty pool for me and Alice! It was a very nice pool!☺We had a VERY  wonderful day! We played at two parks!! I hope you all have enjoyed this blog post!😃    

(as dictated by Adele)





And now Ineke will type:

hello my name is Ineke rose newman!!!!!

how are you?

i am good!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Read This NOW- and Help a Girl Out

 One of my goals for 2021 was to spruce up the living room with a fresh coat of paint because eleven years of finger smudges and paint chips just isn't cute.  Even in a shabby chic sort of way.

I feel like I have pretty much failed miserably at accomplishing anything I had set out to do in 2021 (and possibly just everything) so it felt very, very necessary to do this one thing.  I couldn't let this one thing go.  I just couldn't.

The living room simply cannot be the straw that finally breaks this camel. 

Therefore, though we usually beckon Christmas in on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, I have banned any Christmas decorations going up until the living room is done.

Today is the day.  (And tomorrow too, most likely.)

Within the first half-hour of working, Moses had locked himself in the bathroom and smeared conditioner all over his head. 

This is going to be fun.

PS.  One of the reasons I have waited so long to paint this room is because I am having a TERRIBLE time deciding what to do about the color!  I love a bright, cheery and clean room but white can get so dirty with so many children and this lifestyle we live.  It also provides a clean palette for every mismatched, clearance, hand-me-down and side-of-the-road treasure that we own. But- finger smudges!

On the other hand, I am seriously tempted to paint it a lovely shade of red to draw in all the beautiful red bits of the living room like my stained glass lamps and my Oma's painting.  That just seems like such a cozy and elegant sort of room.  And no FINGER SMUDGES!  It wouldn't really 'work' with the rugs but does that matter?  On the other hand, as there is little natural light in ANY room in this house (I overexpose photos to get them looking lighter), I can only imagine how dark it will make the room to live in...especially in the winter.

I still don't know what to do.

Today is primer day... tomorrow is paint day.  I have white at the ready but... I am totally okay with a drive to town in the morning.  Weigh in everyone!  Tell me what I should do.

My Birthday by Judah

Hi, my name is Judah Newman. This year I turned 11 years of age. Here's some things about me, #1 I've  enjoy learning about wars in history.#2 I've found learning to play the piano is fun so I started to play #3 I LOVE camping, and dressing up in military clothes. And I love going to a store called Taylors military surplus.#4 last but not least I love history.

These are pictures from my birthday in September.

 That was a really good cake! It was an orange creamsicle ice cream cake and a type of pie crust under it, I can't really explain it, all that I can explain is that it was so good. Mama made it perfect. 😋 That was delicious!  Mama put lollipops on it... I had a good time sucking on the rest of those lollipops.

I got a book about World War II about great battles for boys. I'm still having a good time with that book. 

This was the best present ever! It was a keyboard!!!  Mama bought me that because my siblings always say ''stop playing the piano!" when I practice so Mama bought me that. I can practice in my room without bothering anyone else because I need to practice. 

Leftover cake the next day...

It wasn't long before Moses found me.

It was a good birthday.  

Monday, November 22, 2021

Joy of Joys

 It has been so touch and go with Mom in the ICU for these last four+ weeks that I haven't felt like I could breathe.  She has been in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator for over a month.  A week or so before that, she was still struggling in the hospital.  Six+ weeks of holding my breath.  Last week I was sucker-punched again when doctors and nurses were worried about brain function because while her body was 'ready' to be less sedated, when they lowered most of her sedation, Mom still wasn't "waking up".  Doctors were ordering cat scans and felt the need to test for brain activity.

Worrying about her lungs took so much of my time, it hadn't occurred to me that I might need to worry also for her brain.  

When I went to visit her on Saturday, I was just praying for a blink.  Eyes open.  SOMETHING.  And I admit, I was jealous when I passed other ICU rooms and saw people moving their legs and heads.  Each of my weekly visits had me singing and massaging a very still and unresponsive woman.

 When I got into Mom's room- what I saw made me bubble over with laughter and joy and tears and dancing!  She was not only blinking, she was watching every movement the nurse was making.  She turned her head to find me when she heard me laugh.  And through the tears and laughter, I confessed to her my thoughts of jealousy for the other patients' being able to move their legs and feet.  And do you know what she did?  She started shaking her feet!  Not only could she hear and understand, she could respond and was trying to encourage ME.  What a lady.

Words cannot express my elation in being able to talk to her and have her give the tiniest little nods of her head in response.  Words cannot express what those wagging feet mean to me.  I think I exhaled for the first time in a month last Saturday.

Knowing Mom could very well die these last few weeks, I have been actively practicing finding things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The most powerful thing I have been able to be thankful for is FRIENDSHIP.   I am quite certain I would have shattered entirely without the kindness of the people I love and who love me- who have been willing to walk alongside me in this horrible valley. 

 I've always known Matt would stand by me and support me and help me- because he has always been that wonderful. (And I am always so thankful for him and do not take him for granted.)

What I DIDN'T know was that my dear and sweet wonderful friends would rally around me and be so willing to sacrifice their already preciously-limited time and resources on my behalf.  So many wonderful friends willing to walk hard roads, willing to be uncomfortable and not know what to say, letting me cry and loving me even then.

From emails, cards and care packages, to comments here on the blog, to prayers and meals and jars of sunflowers...  several of my friends have even welcomed my own children into their folds to be mothered by them as I have been needed so often each week in other places.

Yes, it was and is my sweet and wonderful friends that I have been most thankful for this Thanksgiving.  

And Praise the Lord!  

Added to those marvelous gifts, this Thanksgiving I can also be thankful for faint nods, recognition, Moms' blue eyes staring back at me, an eyebrow raise and feet dancing at the end of the bed.  

My Mom has such a hard row to hoe and being conscious of her inabilities will be excruciating for her.  Her muscles have atrophied so much that she in unable to move almost anything (except feet, apparently!)  She went to sleep over a month ago and woke up in a place where she cannot speak, cannot use the bathroom, cannot eat or drink or even move her limbs.  And now she knows it.  

Doctors anticipate many, many more weeks of hospitalization and so we are entering into a new season of 'hard'.

Please continue praying for her and us all as we continue to navigate these deep waters... knowing that the Lord is in control of all things and gives us the strength to endure to the end the race that He has set before us.

Speaking of thanks: 

A friend of my Mom's set up a gofundme page for my parents, and I was floored to see so many giving money on their behalf...I even recognized some of the names on there as those dear and wonderful readers of my blog!  Thank you so, so much... you know who you are.  What you can't know is how much it means to me that you would do such a thing!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Woods Walk by Adele'

Hello, this is Adele' Newman. I'd like to show you all some of the many pictures I've taken this summer. Most of them are pictures I've taken while taking walks in the woods. I enjoy taking pictures very much. One of my favorite pictures I've posted is the second one down. Though sadly it's a little blurry. I'm not sure why I like it so much, it might be because it looks like the truck is going fast. It was also a very difficult picture to take. The school bus was also a very hard one. I kind of wanted the bus to be crisp and everything else be blurry like the truck picture.

This picture reminds me of a painting.

 Hope you enjoyed my first blog post. There might be more later....

Monday, November 15, 2021

Halloween: In the Backyard

Well, since the children haven't taken me up on the blogging yet, I guess since I have a minute or two to spare, I will post the Halloween pictures.

This Halloween was a bit of a bummer because the two oldest of my children decided they were too old to go trick or treating.  Ordinarily, I would agree...except our 'trick or treating' looks more like visiting five or six of our elderly neighbors (because they ask us to) and calling it a night.  And there is no age limit on making elderly neighbors happy.

Besides- costumes are FUN!

I didn't fight it too much with Andrew.  I knew the only way he would come was if I were to somehow make an awesomelt realistic but super cheap Sasquatch costume.  It was the only thing he wanted to be.  I had a perfect fur blanket that I could have used...but then I would have cut it up and ruined it.  And I didn't WANT to waste a nice fur blanket.  I just didn't have it in me to figure that whole costume out.  So he went camping with a pal in an old, abandoned and ramshackle cabin with dead carcasses around it and in the middle of the woods.  The stuff of Halloween nightmares.


Corynn was the one who put the 'too old' idea into Andrews' head in the first place.  But I begged and pleaded and guilt-tripped her so much that she eventually had mercy on me and gave in.  About 10 minutes before we left, she transformed into a tree.

All for ME.

She's a good girl, she is.  A good tree, too.

Total cost of costume: free.
Heart of Gold: worth untold millions.

Adele' was a moth.  

We totally forgot to have her carry the lantern and battery powered candle we have that decorates our porch.

 (Get it?  Moth attracted to a flame?)  Yeah- clever.  

Except we forgot...so...not clever after all.

Total cost of costume: less than $1.00 for the white fabric remnant.  
Muddy dog prints running down one wing: free.


Ineke asked to be a blue butterfly.  I had BIG plans to make a theme of weather-related costumes but noooooooo.... I love Ineke so much I put that aside so she could have her wish.  (Even though butterflies are SO cliche.)

What made it not cliche was making the wings ourselves instead of buying them at the store.  Ineke enjoyed doing the 'hard thing' and helped to paint and glitterfy a scrap of black remnant fabric.  Err... I mean, WINGS.  And they turned out really beautiful.

I think this was her favorite costume year ever- precisely because SHE helped make the costume.

I panicked when I realized the bag of paint I had bought for her costume was lost...but I scrounged around and found enough glitter and paint that we already had to make it happen anyway.

AFTER Halloween, I found the bag of untouched paints and glitter from the craft store under a pile of stuff and returned it all making her costume cost only the price of a pair of black tights (which she needed for colder weather anyway.)


Sweet Little Moses was the cutest snail ever.  

His costume consisted of packaging paper wrapped over shipping bubble wrap and cardboard.  Oh, and a remnant of leftover tulle from my fabric stash for the 'slime'. 

Total cost of costume: free.  Unless you count the amazon purchases that required bubble wrap and paper packaging. ;-)


In going with the 'backyard theme', Judah wanted to be a praying mantis.  

His costume was the most fun (and time consuming to make) and also the most expensive.  It consisted of a TON of cardboard, some fabric and felt remnants and padding and pipe cleaners- all of which I had already. 


I bought a can of neon green spray paint because I thought it would make painting the cardboard easier.

And I was very, very wrong.  

Turns out, when you ask a boy if he knows how to spray paint because you want HIM to do it because you are in the middle of doing WAY too many last minutes costume things, you should NOT believe him.

An entire can of (expensive!) spray paint was blotched and emptied all over ONE piece of cardboard.  

There was quite a bit of panic with that one- and maybe a bad 'tude from his mother- but we eventually found that we had *just enough* green acrylic paint laying around to hand-paint the cardboard.  And I mean, JUST ENOUGH.

Judah's costume required a neon green shirt, on sale at Michaels for $3.33, two half-dome Styrofoam pieces for .99c each and a can of worthless and wasted spray paint for $7.99.

But it made him happy so... 

I was a toadstool and used all supplies that I had on hand to make the hat.  

(It helps when your home is a fount of craft supplies.)

Total cost: free.  But also, I am not getting that sunhat back.  

Maybe people will see me gardening this spring in a toadstool hat.

Matt swooped in and transformed himself to a garden gnome seconds before we had to leave.

Apparently, "garden gnome" is his natural style because all he needed me to make him was a hat.

Felt piece: under $1.00


Funny story: at the last house we stopped at, which happened to be Grandma and Grandpa's house, our van totally DIED.  Garden gnomes aren't mechanics, especially in the dark, and after almost an hour of trouble-shooting, to no avail, we had to borrow a vehicle to get ourselves home and into bed.  I was so thankful that if it HAD to happen, it happened when and where it did!

After all the fun and costuming was said and done, I caught two little trolls spying and sorting their morning candy stash.