"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Monday, November 29, 2010

Got the Pouring Done Today

The weather didn't cooperate enough for us to pour concrete Sunday, so we did it today instead.

It took 34 yards to do all we had formed up. My husband is driving the mixer, which our youngest called a "mincer." The man with the rake is our wonderful helper - a friend of my husband's from work.

I loaded up all of our kids and the daycare kids and we went for a field trip to watch the mixer pour concrete. These two are mine.

It took all afternoon, and they didn't finish until well after dark. They worked until around 7 to get it all finished and covered. But now it's done. I would have taken a picture but you wouldn't have been able to see anything in the dark :)

The next project will be to remove the forms and back fill the empty spaces with dirt so our mover can drive straight onto the pad. There will be a little more work to do with the track hoe, leveling the ground entering and exiting the pull through for the mover. We should get all that done this week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Almost Ready to Pour Concrete

The guys got most of the forms put up for the concrete today. When they quit it was too dark for good pictures - okay, it was very dark - they only had the end two to finish, and those were half done, so it shouldn't take long to get ready to pour.

Looks like a lot of raised beds for a garden, don't you think?

The concrete will go around the outside and through the narrow sections. The box where my husband is standing is the space in between where we will be pouring concrete. There were a lot of stakes to drive into the frozen ground.

You probably can't tell from this picture, but the man in the picture is using a pick axe to dig down in the ground - because it is frozen. That is the end that needs a little more work. If you can tell the forms are done in two sections of long boards. All the forming is done except for the right side of two of those rectangular sections. Pretty good progress in a day, especially for just the two of them. And it was COLD today. Actually it's been really cold for a week.

Maybe you can get a better idea of where the concrete is going with this picture. Just look at the narrow spaces. That's where we'll be pouring - hopefully tomorrow.

Sorry to everyone looking for sewing and crafts. We're a bit distracted with the big move. I'll get back to that soon though. I've got a lot of projects on my to-do list, and my college classes will be done for the semester in a couple of weeks. On a side note, I hope this doesn't turn into a fiasco. The mover originally told me he would be on the road with the house by the day after Thanksgiving. I talked to him today and it turns out that he hasn't even been to the house in NC yet to even begin preparing it. I'm not real thrilled with the fact that he didn't mention that to me before.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Getting the Land Ready

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our house from NC, but in the mean time we have quite a bit more work to do. My husband's friend from work has done all the dirt work for us and the two of them are working on putting up forms for the concrete. We plan to pour Sunday. Not the ideal day, but we don't have a lot of leeway and need to get it done as soon as possible and while the weather is cooperating. So tomorrow they will work to finish putting up the forms and then pour concrete Sunday.

I don't know how well you can tell it from the photos, but the forms around the outside are up as well as the first pad on the end. After they get this all done, they will still have to back fill and then level everything out so that the movers can just pull through with the trailer sections. We're getting closer anyway.

See the little dirt pile on the left? Some of that will be used for back fill but the rest will have to be hauled off.

Here's what it looked like this morning. You can see the dirt pile a lot better here. Thankfully all the equipment we need is provided free by my husband's employer - including this track hoe. My husband drives a cement mixer so they will be able to pour concrete Sunday even though they are never open on Sundays normally. We also get a considerable discount on the cost of the concrete. It's all starting to come together nicely and we are very appreciative of all the help we've had. The trailer should be out here in a week or so, depending on weather across the states.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From All Of Us Turkeys!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

This is a craft I learned ages ago back in elementary school. When I came home with my turkey, my little sister, who was too little to go to school - maybe about 3? - wanted to make one too, so Mom bought all the stuff and I got to "teach" them how to make the turkeys.

Since I've had my own family this has become an annual tradition for us to make to decorate the table.

It's really very simple - just a few gum drops, toothpicks, marshmallows and raisins, and one apple for each turkey.

The head is the trickiest part - you have to use a toothpick to drill a hole where the raisin goes or else the marshmallow just pushes it back out. We've used chocolate chips for the eyes in years past when we forgot to get raisins. There is half a red gumdrop rolled long for the gobbler.

The two year old was a whole lot more interested in eating the parts than in creating a turkey. I handed him a gum drop and showed him how to put it on. He put the first one on and I thought we were going to do well with it. The next one went straight into his mouth and from there on he was a sticky mess. This is the kids who doesn't even like candy. Must have been hungry...

He was being a little ham though, and kept leaning over and kissing my arm - which would have been great except for how sticky he was. Oh well. I love all my sweet, sticky little goodness!!

The six year old had a great time and was very ambitious with how many tail feathers he put on his turkey. He ended up with more feathers than anyone else.

We were nearly finished when my almost-18-year-old decided she wanted to make one too. She is making a lot of the food we're having for dinner, but she took the time to make a turkey. Hers is the one that has all the tail feathers exactly alike and balanced. She's a little obsessive about color order :)

So here they all are. My son's is on the left, mine (which was supposed to be the 2 year old's) is in the middle, and my daughter's is on the right. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birthday Number 2!

Our little cowboy is two. Where has the time gone?

Actually, this turned into a cowboy themed party without us even planning it that way. His dress shirt just happened to be a cowboy shirt, and for the first time he was able to wear his little boots. The boots used to be his Dad's first boots back when Dad was a little guy. Then there were the cookies. This child for some unknown reason doesn't like cake, usually won't eat ice cream and will spit candy out if you give it to him. He loves salty foods - chips, crackers and such, but he also loves cookies. So instead of a birthday cake, he got birthday cookies.

Our 17 year old daughter made the cookies and did all the decorating. We had sheriff stars, cowboy boots and hats, bears, little "T" cookies and one big one with his name on it.

This was my personal favorite in the decoration department. Cute boot! She did a great job.

There was a little confusion about what all the camera flashes were for, (his six year old brother was the camera man and took almost 100 pictures), but once he figured out there were toys inside the wrapping, he did pretty well. The biggest problem was that he tore off tiny little shards of paper at a time - sometimes about the size of a quarter. So the unwrapping took quite awhile.

But it was worth it. He loved everything. Papa and Bugga got him some little horses and a new blankie with moose on it.

He is very into tractors and "cycles" right now (motorcycles mostly). This book is about tractors and has a steering wheel so you are the driver.

See the tractor in the background? That was from Aunt Staci and Uncle Jason. It plays the chicken dance, which he is dancing to in this picture. This is probably his favorite or next to favorite gift.

We had to take a break for a little ice cream and a cookie. He used both his fingers and a spoon to sample the ice cream. He seemed to do pretty well with the orange cream sherbet, but didn't eat more than a bite of the peppermint ice cream. As for the cookie, he took a couple bites and licked some of the frosting off, but mostly just made a big mess. That's okay - maybe he'll be my healthy kid :)

Here we were trying to get a picture with him and all his loot. He's driving the motorcycle on the tractor steering wheel. His favorite place to drive it is on people - up your leg or arm or over your head. There is a rider in his right hand which is made to pose like x-games motorcycle guys. At one point he called him a cowboy and put him on one of the little horses. He's very creative.

Playing with horses here.

His 6 year old brother was trying to get everything set up for the group photo. He had a little too much "help."

The tricycle was the other toy that rivaled the tractor for the top spot. He's going to be quite the acrobat on it, I think. When he opened it, he squealed, "Trikle!"

Finally, a decent, orderly picture of the birthday boy and the loot. Happy Birthday, T!

I've got to say the past two years have been the funnest years I've ever had as a parent. He's so cheerful and goofy and snuggly and sweet. What a joy! We were surprised and thrilled to learn he was on his way to us and I truly believe he was a special gift from God. He is such a joy to us. I can't even begin to explain it. I will never question God's timing or wisdom when He decides to send a child to us. What an honor to be this little guy's Mama ...

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's Shoebox Time!

Each year, our family likes to participate in Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child by packing shoe boxes full of gifts for children around the world. It's fun because we get to shop, pack and pray for the children without knowing where they will go. Then we purchase our labels online so we will have a tracking code and find out what countries our boxes went to.

Last year we only did a couple of boxes, but this year we got ambitious. We decided last Christmas that for every pair of shoes any of us bought, we would pack the shoebox full of gifts for a child, and whoever got the shoes would get to do the shopping and packing. Well at the end of the year we had 10 boxes to fill. Not all of them were from our shoes - we had a few boxes donated. We decided to do all the shopping together. That day was extremely fun. We all went to the dollar store and everyone picked whatever they wanted. We overflowed our cart - it was a blast.

When we got home, we sorted everything into piles. There were certain things every box got - a bag of hard candy, regular pencils, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, notebooks and coloring books (the oldest age group didn't get coloring books), socks, tooth brushes and toothpaste, soap, and a brush or comb. Everyone also got toys and fun things that differed by age.

We had a wide assortment of things to choose from for each box. This was only about 1/4 of the stuff.

Here is a full box. I think this was for a 2-4 year old girl.

My 6 year old son put together a box for a 5-9 year old boy. He kept referring to him as, "my boy." He picked some pretty awesome toys for a boy his age. He really enjoyed doing the boxes. Likewise, my 17 year old daughter put together two boxes for 10-14 year old girls. They had some really good stuff in them.

My husband worked specifically on a box for a 10-14 year old boy. He is a teen leader in our church and enjoys that age group. He's just a kid at heart anyway. His biggest problem was that his box wasn't big enough - or maybe it was that he couldn't stop putting stuff in it :) He eventually switched to a boot box that was considerably bigger. I think he was happy with that in the end.

Here are the boxes my daughter did for the 10-14 year old girls. Lots of fun, girly, pre-teen goodies in here, even if you can't see them all.

Here's another pile of the stuff we had to choose from.

When we were done filling our 10 boxes, we had quite a bit of stuff left. So rather than wait another year, we decided to get a few more of the necessities - toothbrushes, soap, etc. - to finish a few more boxes. The problem was that when we went to another store, we ended up with a LOT more stuff. We filled an additional 5 boxes, and then had more leftover stuff than we had to begin with. (Just to be clear, there's candy in this picture, but we will not be saving that for next year. They get fresh candy next year! I'm pretty sure my 6 year old has already claimed this loot.)

Here are some of the things we will save for next year.

You can see the two giant diaper boxes. The one that is open is larger than the one in the forefront. They are both crammed full of toys for next year's boxes.

So in the end we had 15 boxes.

That makes a pretty good pile! We are praying for each of the children who will receive one of our boxes. We included a family picture, postcard of the Teton mountains, which are within 100 miles of us, and a note from our family. We also included our address, and hope to get some letters. That would be awesome. If we get any, we are going to start a notebook with plastic page protectors to keep them in. Over a lifetime, I hope we can make a difference for hundreds of kids. We look at this as a double mission - meeting both practical needs as well as spiritual. We choose to give through Samaritan's Purse because they use this as an opportunity to teach children the Love of Christ. What better gift could we give a child for Christmas? The best part was that we got to do this as a family. Through these pictures you see everyone in my family who is still living at home. We have a 19 year old off playing with the Air Force, so he missed the fun here. It was so much fun for everyone in the family! We're hoping to do even more boxes next year!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Well, the reality of the season struck today. We had one of the worst storms I can remember - not in snow accumulation, but in snowing conditions. I think we got somewhere between 4-8 inches of snow, but it's hard to tell exactly because the wind was crazy. At one point we were driving home from running some errands and I literally got lost in our subdivision because I couldn't see anything - houses, cars, streets or anything. I really understood why old timers used to tie ropes between the house and the barn. I couldn't have safely walked across the street in this storm.

We are really hoping this weather clears up quickly because we are supposed to have our house moved from North Carolina out to Wyoming the week after Thanksgiving. I can't believe it's finally going to be here. We love that house and it will double our space. Not to mention, it will allow us to have our daycare separate from our house because we are keeping the house we currently live in for the daycare. So, for obvious reason, I hope the weather cooperates.

In the mean time, I've been working on some Christmas ornaments. Or rather, I've started them and set them aside. But I'll get to that in a minute.

A couple months ago I ordered this book. It is a wonderful craft book full of ideas for felt Christmas ornaments.

Here are a few of my favorite projects - pictures are taken from the book. Hope that's okay.

Love the owls!

These felt "animal cookies" have feathers and seed beads decorating them. How cute is that? I think they would be perfect for my daycare tree. I was hoping we would be all moved in to our other house by Christmas, but things have been so delayed that I'm sure that won't happen. Originally I was hoping to get a metallic tree for the daycare - or a white one - something fun and different. I wanted to decorate it with pom pom garland and bright colored, fun ornaments - you know, candy and toys, gum drops and candy canes with horse toppers, little felt ice skates and all sorts of fun stuff. I thought these would just be the perfect thing. And next year, they will. But they may just sneak their way onto my family tree this year :)

The book has so many good ideas that it is difficult to choose which one is my favorite, and which one I want to do first. I guess that's a good problem. It means I got my money's worth.

So I went right to work cutting out ornament pieces thinking I could just stitch on these during my free time. Sorry for the crummy pictures. I need new batteries in my camera :(

This will be a matroyska doll when it's done, and these colors are completely off from the real ones. But notice in both of these pictures the size of the felt pieces in comparison to the pin. These are normal quilting pins - not huge ones. This is going to be some fine stitching on tiny pieces.

There are tons of little pieces to cut out, and I've tried to keep them all labeled so I know what each one is.

I'm even keeping my scraps. I read in a book once about someone using their scrap embroidery floss to fill one of those clear glass ornaments and thought it might be a cute idea. I don't know whether I'll actually do that or not, but I hate to waste anything, so if not, maybe I can use this for stuffing a little stuffed animal or something.

I'm trying to stay as organized as possible - the three sandwich bags hold ornament pieces, pattern pieces and scraps. I have to say I thought I would be a lot farther on this project (and many other projects) by this point. The problem I'm having is two-fold. First, we are trying to bring the house out here and that has taken an enormous chunk of my time. I've had to organize everything from finding someone to move it, to getting the permits, switching over deeds for the land it's going on, arranging for a well to be drilled, septic to be installed, foundation to be built, etc., etc. Then there has been all the planning for paint colors and flooring. We're giving the place a complete overhaul.

The second challenge has been the fact that I have gone back to college - online, part-time. It turns out that since I am a licensed daycare provider, I qualify for a grant in the amount of $1,000 per semester, three semesters per year. So I can get my bachelor's degree for free. It seems irresponsible not to take that offer. But, I do find that all the reading, homework and online posting is eating up all the time I used to use for sewing and crafts. Hence, the long blog absence. I'm going to try to do better. This is my first semester and things are going very well, so maybe I'll be able to settle into a better routine, where I can get back to creating. I sure hope so, because at this rate, it will be Christmas 2012 before I'm done with anything!