Our Family

Our Family
Benaiah, Justin, Melinda, Abishai, Keturah, and Jared

Monday, July 31, 2017

Year 2, Day 211: Full Day

It's always interesting when the "day of rest" becomes the "day of go and do all kinds of things."  But when you are in a ministry family, it's just the way of life.  That's why for years Gary's days off have been Friday and Saturday.  Anyway, Jared went with Justin to church this morning, where Justin went to his Core class (Sunday School for us older folks) and Jared went to church service.  Then Justin joined Grandma in the 1st grade room as a helper.  He loves helping in there, because I think he does like actually helping, but getting a pop and chips from the helpers' room is also a plus.  We've encouraged our kids to help, but have never forced it or told them where to help.  They see us helping and just join in.  Justin can only help when Grandma is working (or I or Jared) because he's not quite 12 yet.  When he turns 12 in a little over a month (yes, 12!), and gets his child safe badge (I think), he can work in any room without us, and can get a Kidustrial Park shirt.  His friend Bryce, who is moving away soon, is already child safe certified, and in the system, so I think there's a draw there for him as well.  I was thinking a few weeks ago during the sermon on local missions that we don't do that much to help these local organizations.  And yet, here we are, serving at church on a regular basis.  I still want us to help more, but we aren't totally just receivers of help and services.  Not to toot my own horn, but, I do read the e-newsletter and glance at what the food pantry needs.  And it just so happened they need canned vegetables, and so I quickly though, oh, I have all those canned potatoes I don't know what to do with!  I can give those!  Yes, that's giving out of our abundance, and sometimes giving should be sacrificial, but we've been so blessed and we are so wealthy when it comes to the world population, it's hard to get to that sacrificial level.  We also do try to participate in every campaign that involves things like school supplies or soccer balls or Operation Christmas Child.  But what we need to do is give of our time.  We weren't in a life season where we could do that.  And I know that my physical health does prevent me from helping in that way on a regular basis.  So, I send Jared and Benaiah, or even Justin when there's a call to help someone load a truck.  Just as we have always had help when we've asked for it. 

And tonight, I had the ultimate privilege of sharing more of what I have learned about homeschooling with my new favorite group of people, the young(er) moms just starting out.  I think the other more experienced moms are enjoying mentoring these younger moms as well.  Just like Titus 2 says.  Just like MOPS does for mothers of preschoolers.  I have taken the lessons I have learned from my MOPS days on how to lead a group, added what I watched older than me moms run our PEI group, and now can apply and pass it on to these wonderful people.  It was all moms tonight, but dads are always, always welcome! We had to have it at Gary and Leah's house because Keturah has a head cold (and I think we are all coming down with it now), which was a little bit of a bummer, because I had to get Benaiah to load and unload the van with 6 boxes of books (5 of which I am ready to give away or sell, go me).  So, thank you, Parents, once again, for saving the day and allowing me to host our group!  In a way, I'm serving and helping, just within the church instead of outside it, directly to the lost.  But who knows, maybe by helping these parents, we are indirectly helping their children who might grow up and be more involved with bringing people to Christ and be missionaries around the world or in their neighborhoods or at their jobs, etc.  It's all part of the bigger picture right?  Anyway, I always get so pumped after talking about one of my favorite subjects!  And the other mentor mom has many of my same personality traits and opinions about homeschooling, that it's easy to bounce back and forth between us in conversation.  I'm sure it fills her up as well sharing her knowledge of raising a large family (she's teaching her 7th kid to read and has 2 more to go!)

I posted again today on Facebook about how I still get so choked up whenever I start to think about PEI or see a picture of a beach or a favorite spot on the Island.  But, more and more I'm realizing that it was a chapter of our life, and just because it's closed, doesn't mean I didn't take so many life (and homeschooling) lessons from there that I am applying here.  So much good came from that place.  So much, and I miss it so, so dearly.

Ok, enough of me talking (typing).  Church, then Jared came home during second hour because his headache was starting.  Lunch at the in laws, figuring out vacation driving plan, came home just in time to meet with the girls that will be taking care of Socks while we are away.  Oh my word those girls are awesome!  So talkative!  We've known them our whole married life because their parents were in our Couples for Christ small group way back when.  Then, (and I had forgotten this), I had taught them piano lessons!  One of them is now an accomplished musician!  And they are beautiful girls, too, and LOVE LOVE LOVE animals, AND they live just a couple of streets away near one of the houses we had put an offer on!  They went on and on about having playdates between Socks and their dog, and going for walks, and having Socks hang out with a special needs girl (I do know the girl and as long as her momma approves, I approve!)  Socks of course took to them right away as well.  They are both now in college, so pretty independent, but have been dog sitting and baby sitting since they were 12.  Super grateful that it's going to work out so well! Oh, and I think their mom and I were in MOPS together as well.

Then, naptime for Abishai after they left (we were just about to put him down when they came), then I worked on getting one of the older phones working for Justin as an iPod, then it was go time for m homeschooling meeting.  We had let Benaiah get an email address at age 9 (or we set it up for him, I can't remember), and then he got his iPod before we went to Canada at age 10.  Well, we've had issues with him and the iPod, so we've held off on giving Justin one until now.  But Justin has watched Benaiah get into trouble and we are much, much wiser about it all, and this phone is so old that he can't do much on it.  I set up his email address and his iCloud account so I have all the information to begin with.  But now he can Facetime Bryce.  He can text him, too.  He can listen to music when he wants to.  He's almost 12, it's time.  Both boys won't have an actual phone until they are driving on their own.  Justin is also suffering from a ton of growing pains!  This is the age that Benaiah grew like 6 inches, so I'm not surprised.  But Justin has to put on a blend of essential oils that help with pain every night.  It's in a roller bottle, so he can apply it himself.  I might get him a muscle cream only because it's cheaper and he's going through so much of it.

I came home to the dog, Keturah, and Abishai running out to greet me.  "You home!" Abishai said.  I had left when he was still asleep for his nap.  But it was close to bedtime, so it was a quick hug and 30 minutes of "How did you climb up there?" (onto Justin's bed over the baby gate by climbing up his bed and onto Justin's ladder, this kid is going to give us a heart attack!) and "Get down!" "Where's the paci?" "In the crack? What crack?" "Did you get your diaper changed recently?"   Then Daddy intervened and got him tucked in.  Like I said, I think we are all coming down with Keturah's cold, so I'll be running some more Thieves essential oil tomorrow and such.  It's a home day, but I'm not sure what all I will get up to.  I'm procrastinating on school planning, although I only have one more miscellaneous box to put away, at least until my other bookcase can be put in place.  But the books going on there are just chapter books or other adult books on health and gardening or Bible study, so it's not necessary for school prep.  I don't wanna go back to school!  I do this every year though, procrastinate, but once the plan is in place, I'm much happier.  I did do a retreat a few years ago where a bunch of moms took two days to work on their homeschool planning.  We ate meals together, but other than that, we just did our own thing.  I just have more prep this year because I'm trying new curriculum and methods.  Plus, I need to get my planner off my external hard drive that's not talking to my computer right now!  Eek! I'm sure I'll fill my day up again tomorrow.

Ok, here's a few pics from the day.

Talking about blessings! Within 24 hrs, we were blessed with a washer, dryer, and dishwasher for $150!!!  We weren't even really looking!  Now, it will take a bit before they are all set up, because we want to make sure plumbing and dryer venting is up to snuff, and Jared doesn't do that kind of stuff.  But that's ok, the appliances are here.  We can wait.

Big boy finally got his computer set up working!  Yes, we had talked about giving him a corner for his set up because he had accumulated many more things with wires over the last year or so.  The front room is called the game room for a reason!
If you don't know the inside joke about Gary and "circles" then you haven't been going to the Creek long enough.  It's a business concept that can apply to many things.  "Why" goes in the middle, then "How," then "What."  If you know your "Why" for doing something then you can figure out your "How" and "What" pretty easily.  In this case, we were talking about fasting, but I can easily apply to homeschooling.

First of all, I had forgotten that Gary had a selfie stick! Boy I could probably use that!  I'm putting it on my Christmas wishlist again.  Second, no, Parents, there were no lasting marks on the wall.  Third, Benaiah did that so I could I make a video of our meeting for those who couldn't make it.  But, he figured out how I could just get the talking captured without the video using a different app.  So, we ended up not doing this.  But, I'm glad I've got a helpful and smart kid!

Speaking of that smart kid, I let him pull the van into their garage tonight to make room for other cars.  He did it perfectly!  It was lined up pretty well to begin with, but still, he did it!

Ta da!  Then I backed it out of the garage while he was at our house during the meeting.  I then let him back it down the driveway and onto the road.  I did yell "culverts!" and "mailboxes!" but really didn't need to.  He did great!  I found myself wanting to teach him, "turn the wheel that way" "now straighten it out" etc.  Fun! It's exciting!  I think I'm ready for this!  And he did it barefoot, which is something Jared might do very occasionally. He says he thinks he has a lead foot and I told him he just has a big flapper of a foot, because, well, his feet are very wide and they amaze me.  Anyway, yes, he's 15 and working on driving!

Family, take note, only 1 of these boxes were given to me last week and I only kept a handful of things from it.  The rest are books I'm ready to give away or sell! See! Less books for the bookshelves I don't own yet ;-)  And yes, this is what came home (the boxes were very full to begin with).  I plan to sell some of it online soon.  Or put it aside for selling next year at the curriculum sales.  Normally I wouldn't try to save anything for a sale, but I know there's a good market for these type of books.  Anyway, I'm working on my decluttering, promise!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Year 2, Day 210: Wedding anniversary time!

It's that time of year! Double anniversary, plus bonus! Quick synopsis: Jared and I got married in NH on July 28th so that my parents and siblings could be there of course.  Our marriage license is from there.  Then we flew to Indianapolis that night, Jared staying at his parents, and I stayed our first apartment.  Then we went to church the next morning and did a modified ceremony (he walked me down the aisle) for all of his friends and family in the midwest.  THEN we went on our honeymoon.  My parents and siblings did not fly out to Indianapolis, and only his family and groomsmen flew to NH.  Both weddings were not super expensive because we borrowed decorations and picnic/potluck type themes for food. The weather was much like it was today.  Warm, but bearable.  Anyway, that was 16 years ago!  That's the "double" part.  The bonus is that today, July 29th, is Gary and Leah's 39th wedding anniversary!  So, yes, we share one of our anniversary days with them!  It just happened to fall on a Sunday that year (when we got married the 2nd time in Indiana), so it worked out.  I never, ever get tired of telling this story.  Why? Because it's so unique and I remember things like my parents' friends making food for it, and my mom making the bridesmaids dresses, as well as all the hand sewing on my dress.  I remember encouraging our guests in Indiana come to the reception, which was held in a park, in their picnic clothes and making sure I ate something because I hadn't during the reception the day before.  And I got to wear my dress twice and have my hair all curled twice and felt like a princess.

Fast forward 16 years to 4 kids, 1 dog, 5 homes, 2 countries, and all the going on's in between.  It feels like a lifetime ago!  But I wouldn't trade it for the world.  A few words to describe "us" are faithful and unique.  We simply don't give up easily and we lean into hard situations.  And we usually come at life with a unique, or unconventional, angle.  For example, we light birthday candles with big torches! Or, we have our child earning money to go to a private high school.  Or, we moved to a brand new country 1600 miles away and then moved back.  But that's us.

We had a great date night Friday night!  We ate dinner at home because it's actually less stress on me with my diet restrictions.  Then I "insisted" that we go see "Wonder Woman" together.  It was only at the most expensive theater and in the most expensive seats, but since we didn't spend money on dinner, that was ok.  It was worth seeing though!  And Jared later thanked me for insisting on going.  I won't drag him to all the comic book movies, but I had seen enough reviews and just a little bit of the plot that I knew this one had some deeper themes running through it.  And because the setting was in World War I, the morals were going to be a bit better.  It was well made.  Classic.  Fight for justice for the women and children and innocents.  And having the Greek mythology in there gave it a great spin, too.  Justin will like it someday because right now he is studying Greek mythology all on his own because he is reading a series of books based on them.  He reads some of his fiction book, and then reads part of one of the best books picture books on the subject by D'Aulaire.  And rereads the book, too!  Which is perfect because we will be studying that as soon as we start school after vacation.

Back to date night.  Gary and Leah took ALL 4 kids for the NIGHT to their house! Wow!  I don't think we've had a completely no kids in our house overnight type night since......well, since Benaiah starting sleeping over there house before Justin was born.  Yup, that's probably accurate.  We did sleep in a bit, but the sun is bright in our room, so we were up by 9:30 am.  Then the kids were dropped back off.  They also got to go see "Cars 3" with the folks and Abishai sat through the whole thing!  Granted, he was in different laps at different times, but he made it through!  Maybe taking him later in the day helped.  All 4 kids enjoyed it.  I know it's a pretty good movie based on the reviews.

The rest of the day today was your average Saturday.  Jared took Abishai with him to Lowe's for more supplies and also stopped to get diapers since we were completely out.  I even said to myself when I passed them the other day, "Ah, we don't need them this week."  Whoops!  Then Abishai wouldn't settle for naptime, so he napped with Jared.  Keturah developed a head cold over the course of the day, so she didn't make it to church tonight.  I went with the boys, and Jared will go tomorrow.  I was going to have a homeschool meeting at my house tomorrow night, but we had to move it so no one catches the bad germs.  I'm a little bummed, because we made the huge effort of moving boxes, but at the same time, I'm glad it's done because I can now use my space!  And work on more decorating!

Oh, and one more thing happened after church, but I'll share that at the end.

Keturah found the perfect seat for her doll! A lumberjack made it in a demonstration at the Indiana State Fair 7 years or so ago.  Gary bought it for Benaiah and the lumberjack signed it.

Someone got into the glitter again.  She is now banned from glitter forever!  Not forever, but it's now well hidden and she's not allowed to use it for awhile.

Fancy dinner at home!
I loved how I could buy the tickets on my phone and then saved the email confirmation.  I showed the email to the ticket checker, he scanned it, and away we went to our movie.  No waiting in line!

Boxes full of books make for great climbing.

Although we can't have our meeting here, I'm super grateful that it made me clear out this room.  My friend Alisha hit the nail on the head when she told me that it made her sad that this room was full of books and stuff and I couldn't use it as my peaceful place.  I think it was affecting me to have it full of boxes.  I do have a bookshelf for the books, but it's in the way of the bathroom remodel, so it has to wait just a little longer.  I can breathe again!

This corner came together pretty quickly! The top shelf is all about NH.  The middle shelf is all about Canada.  An the bottom shelf has mugs and cups from all over!  I'll probably add some Indiana elements as well, but the cityscape picture of Indianapolis is going in the TV room.  I still have to hang stuff on the walls, too.  But this little memory corner makes me so happy!

This is the result of the glitter mess.  She used the empty duct tape rolls to make Wonder Woman cuffs.

That's what I like to see!  A girl with a big pile of books!

Fancy dinner prepped! Bacon wrapped chicken with green onion for Jared and chicken with green onions for me.  As well as carrots, peppers, and squash roasted with dill and olive oil and salt.

Dinner is cooked!  I didn't make a salad like you find at a restaurant, but we didn't need it.  And I warmed up some already baked potatoes as well.  I dipped my potato in the dill/olive oil mixture from the roasted veggies and Jared dressed up his with butter, sour cream and parsley.

Unique: we don't seem to own any matches so Jared used the torch and a wood shim to light the candles.

It worked!  The candles were from our wedding, and the fake flowers were from the bouquet I used for the rehearsal.  It was a light blue and white themed wedding.

Fizzy water for me with my dinner.

And a different kind of fizzy water for him.  These are new to us plates that I haven't brought out yet, but will eventually replace our original set of dishes we have used for 16 years.  I also brought out the new, fancy silverware as well.  They aren't real silver, but they are very nice.

I said that since I cooked, you get to wash dishes, and he did!  Only it was just his dish.  Lol!  We also put our cell phones in the middle of the table on top of each other like some people do so they can concentrate on the conversation instead of looking at their phone.  I was the first one to pick it up because I did get an important message I needed to respond to.

Fast forward to today, Saturday, and this pair wore themselves out at the hardware store.  Can you tell they are related?  Yup!  So cute!  And they left the bedroom door open and didn't wake up when the dog barked or people used the bathroom, etc.  They were exhausted!

After church, we enjoyed some outdoor time in our backyard.  I took these pics when I was up on the platform after I undid the swing that had been wrapped around the crossbeam by Keturah.

Letting the dog get some exercise.  And the kids.  I'm so glad that Socks doesn't jump the fence when we are near him.

Playing fetch? Playing keep away? Not sure.

Abishai can climb up it well.  And Socks tried but I wouldn't let him.  I don't want him jumping off the other side and breaking a hip or something.

Yummy stick.

Gorgeous evening! Beautiful dog.

The moon in a clear blue sky!

Abishai wanted Mommy to push him but Babee Justin gave it a try instead.


While we played, Jared and Benaiah picked up some appliances from a friend.  A mutual friend told me that this friend had just posted these on Facebook.  So, we snatched them up! Woot! Woot!  Can you guess what they are?

Once this kid opened the latch of the truck, got in, and figured out how to make the horn work, he wouldn't stop beeping it!

And yes, he attempted to climb through the window to find the keys so he could turn the truck on.  Later, when we were trying to close it up, we put him in the truck bed and he scrambled to get back through the window and to the horn to beep it.  He threw a fit when we told him he was all done.

I'm so glad I have two strong men in the family now!

Then Justin came out and it was perfect timing to get a little brother wrestling match done. 

Ta-da! A washer and dryer!  For cheap!  We weren't really prepared for them, so the book boxes are in their spot on the other wall.  We'll have to move them and then determine if we need to fix anything on the plumbing and venting before we hook them up.  But they are here!

And even more DAddy time!  Watching airplanes, eating sausage, his favorite, and banana chip.  All on Daddy's lap.  Abishai is in heaven!
And that's it!  I am excited that my iPhone has a decent camera and plenty of space, but I need to take more with the big camera again.  There were 3 pictures to add to this from the DSLR and the rest were all taken with the iPhone.  It's awesome having equipment that works! Good night!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Year 2, Day 208: Gone All Day!

It was a busy, gone all day type day! Keturah had an appointment 30 minutes south of us.  Then Benaiah and I took the dog to get his annual shots and heartworm test done 30 minutes north west of us.  I drove 2 hours and spent 3 1/2 hrs in waiting rooms! So, supper was a quick taco type supper.  And I'm still buried in emails because my computer is unhappy and won't load more than 1 webpage at a time.  So, not much to do about that except take out the extra RAM again and that takes a bit of effort.  Grrrr.

We took Socks to the F.A.C.E Clinic as we always do because it's cheap.  Same vaccinations, but cheaper.  I was hoping to get a fuller vet exam this time because it's a newer service they offer, but we were put in the wrong line and the vet line was super long anyways.  They do have a vet check the animal's heart and check teeth, etc. because you don't want to give vaccinations to a sick animal.  That's fine.  I didn't have any concerns anyway.  It's a first come, first serve clinic but the waiting room wasn't too full.  They were just running behind or slow today for some reason.  They are also in the process of updating their facilities, so it's a mess in there right now, fyi!  Not a big deal to me, but some might get annoyed.  Now, what got me annoyed, which was no one's fault, was that there were several pit bulls in the waiting area and when they bark, it's LOUD.  Oh man!  And I thought Socks' bark was loud and annoying!  Now, none of them were vicious, the owners were kind and loving and doing their best to control their animals.  Some were still young dogs.  One poor very large one hasn't been socialized well, the young woman admitted, and so it was there to get a shot to calm it down so it can be taken out more and socialized.  The young woman seemed very embarrassed and did all she could to keep her dog in control.  And what did Socks do?  Absolutely nothing.  Not even a slight woof.  He barely resisted Benaiah's handhold on him.  At several points, he even laid down and looked like, "Mom, do I have to put up with this any longer?"  We even sat near a room that had cats that were allowed to freely roam, and one of them showed a paw under the door, and Socks didn't go after it for once.  He also showed a little interest in two loud cats, but didn't lounge for them either.  He was extremely well behaved.  I know he's now 7 year old and has started to slow down, but it was more than I expected.  He is a healthy dog, and even gained 6 pounds!  Probably because Grandma likes to spoil him with biscuits every day (we don't give him one every day like she does, but he expects it now!).  And that's fine.  He needed to fatten up a bit!  And I've changed the way I feed him by giving him less food more often so it doesn't go stale, so he eats more.  His heartworm test was negative, so I gave him his first dose of flea/heartworm medication tonight.  He gets that monthly as a liquid that goes along his spine as close to the skin as possible, which is hard on him since he has so much hair!

But that whole process took all afternoon, leaving little time for dinner.  I quickly defrosted/almost cooked hamburger in the microwave on 50% power because I didn't pull it out earlier.  In fact, I almost forget that I need to plan for dinner on a daily basis! I'm just not interested in being in the kitchen.  Thank goodness others in the family love it, like Grandma who made blueberry pancakes for brunch today when the boys went over while I took Keturah to her appt.  Those pancakes are a staple for our vacation menu!

I'm finally getting the hand of making smoothies!  Biggest tip is to NOT put too many different ingredients in it!  This one is almond butter, almond milk, banana, and collagen.  No sugar.  No honey. No dairy or protein powder with dairy.  And it was perfect!

Ugh, gotta start preparing!  Actually, I'm pretty stoked for this program!  It's so versatile and easy to adapt for all ages.  They go through the same material year after year and just go into more detail and/or use resources appropriate for each age.  Can't wait to watch the videos, too!  I'm going to do that on our way to Michigan on that long car ride!

We were the 27th customer on the 27th! And yet, it was already 2 pm and the clinic is from 10 am to 4 pm.

Calmest dog on the planet.  Ingenious teenager at it again.  He needed both hands for his rubix cube, so he stuck his arm through the dog's collar.  Goofball!

I asked Keturah to set up the table and she came up with this ingenious idea of putting magnetic letters on each plate to label them!  The magnets had been left on the table for Abishai to play with.  I thought it was a unique way to do it!

Actually, we were listening to a podcast on hospitality in the car today, and Keturah might have heard about the name tags.

We couldn't find a "B" so we choose an "N" for Banana, aka Benaiah.  He goes by banana on Instagram.


Ooooo, it's shiny!  I cleaned and buffed the stove top the best I could.  Still not my first choice, but I'm trying to take care of it the best I can.

Keturah went a little over board on decorating with duct tape lately.  She covered up this chair that was mine from childhood.  I was mad, but then realized it's just a chair and Grandma Howell would be happy that it's being used and that Keturah has such a creative streak in her!

Jared took this picture, but it pretty much sums up how these two relate to each other.  Abishai loves his doggie!  They are buddies!  In the morning, Abishai says, "Doggie in!" when I tell Keturah to put Socks out.  I think he may be concerned that Socks will run away again, because its the time of day that Socks got lost for an hour.  But yes, Socks is the gentlest beast you have ever met!  And he's still so cuddly!  Oh, and I heard Abishai say, "Miss you" when he was playing with that phone.