Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reflections of a Fading Year and Great Expectations for the New Year

We are already looking forward to another exciting year and we still haven't yet finished unwinding from the excitement of 2009!

We've been reflecting on some of last years favorites, and so many come mind. I love it when the weather finally starts to warm up after what seems a never ending, icy cold winter. This was one of those teaser days when winter begins to release its tight hold it has upon us. The day was absolutely beautiful. We were enticed out of the little old farmhouse and enjoyed a late afternoon of exploration!

The majority of our reflections on our passing year are full of family that we live so far away from. We had such wonderful time visiting my brother Doug and his family! Even Dad was there! The short amount of time we had was packed full of memories in the making. The boys still talk about the snow forts they carved out in the snow with Preston! Christine's visit was such a treat. Aunt Shelly's visit wasn't long enough and Grammie and Poppa's visit was short, but oh so sweet! Of course there are bunches more of sweet memories, but I can't forget that hot and lazy summer day we filled the big metal tub with water and stuck the ducks in it!

Time seems to fly more quickly as our family grows older! At least having her Royal Highness around keeps us young! She is in constant motion. Even in her sleep! Thank goodness she is now sleeping in her own bed most of the time! When she isn't scaling something, she is usually jumping from something else. We haven't located the volume control on her particular model and so it is quite often that she is running through the room and screaming at the same time. She loves to be my big helper and when I'm not looking she will punch down my rising loaves of bread or grab a handful of brown sugar before I get a chance to put it away. She loves her baby dolls and is often packing one on her hip or bouncing through the living room giving her baby a horsey ride on her shoulders.

The President of our family orchard has accomplished a whole lot this year. He is now reading chapter books, loves telling time and making sure we all are aware of what time it is, and he loves doing his math. He is quite the little artist. He got to be a shepherd with his best friend Jakob in the Christmas Pageant at church. What he is looking forward to in 2010 is his 8th birthday, getting baptized and getting a pocket knife. He also looks forward to making a double layer cake and eating it.

The Attorney has also had an eventful year. He's learned a lot about cars. He has enjoyed raising and caring for his ducks and chickens and his gold fish. He is a great writer and enjoys to draw and eat pizza. In 2010 he hopes to become better at drawing cars. He is also looking forward to becoming an 11 year old scout and would like to become more involved with 4H and some ag projects.

Human Resources has had an eventful year. His Poppa taught him to drive the Blazer and he has been brushing up on his driving skills. He has been working hard through his Pre-Algebra Math and also has enjoyed drawing. After turning 12 he has enjoyed the responsibilities that come with being a deacon in the church. For 2010, he desparately hopes his parents buy him a machete, he has plans of advancing with scouts and he really wants to be able to do a back handspring before 2010 is over.

As for me, I'm really curious to find what kind of adventures await the Apple Farmer and I in 2010! It seems that each year here has always held amazing and new experiences! I'm in awe at how quickly my children grow. It's been so exciting to see my baby girl grow into an independent little person and yet I can't help but grieve a little as her babyhood slowly fades away leaving behind only pictures of chunky cheeks and slobbery kisses and memories of scented baby soap while kissing the velvet fuzz on her bald little head!

I'm enjoying the challenges of my callings at church. I've learned so much as a seminary teacher and am still learning to become a better teacher as I teach in Relief Society. I'm excited to also serve as our girls camp director again this year and can't wait to attend our meeting in January to find out what great experiences await the awesome young women of our branch!

We are still homeschooling - an adventure that I didn't expect to ever be mine. It has been a tremendously rich experience and an incredibly overwhelming experience all at the same time! I don't know how long this road will continue to weave throughout our family adventures or where this journey ends, but for 2010 I hope I can feel more confident as a teacher and remember to have fun!

(Geology with Sarah and Anabelle)

Other plans for 2010 include running a 5K race in Nauvoo, Ill. in Sept. Anyone want to join me?!?

The Apple Farmer has had a tremendous year as well! He has had great successes with work and in October was unexpectedly offered a position by his employer prior to our leap of faith into our Orchard venture. It was a difficult thing for him to say goodbye to the people he's been working with since finding work off of the farm, but he feels like he has "come back home" as he settles back into the work flow he was so familiar with back in CA. He also has company vehicle benefits and after much consideration, we opted for the benefits that come with using our own vehicle and have finally been able to replace my van that died a year and a half ago! With our new mini van we can all accompany the Apple Farmer on his business trips and we are anxious to be able to finally explore the state of Missouri in 2010!

Apple Season comes and goes and we never really know what hit us until we see it coming at us again! We had a smaller crop this year and as a result, anticipate a rather large one again next year. Managing a smaller crop, we are finding, is much smarter and we will likely be thinning our apples fairly heavily for our 2010 crop. With the amount of rain we got this last season we had a difficult time staying on our spray cycles and we are seeing a flare up of some nasty diseases, scab being the worst. We are hoping to have that under better control for our next crop. We are excited that we did not see any blight again this season!! We are hoping that with a planned smaller crop for next season, that we will also have a lot fewer cull apples to deal with!

As Branch President, the Apple Farmer has been very busy, especially when a boundary change of a nearby ward brought us several new families! We've been averaging attendance near 150 every week. As heavy as the responsibilites feel, we've seen countless miracles and there is no doubt that he has divine strength added upon him to accomplish all that is needed and required of him!

Our family and friends all hold warm places in our hearts and we think of you all so dearly during this festive season as we also celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ! We know that he lives! And we wish the warmest of Christmas wishes for you! May your Christmas be filled with Christlike love for all mankind and may your heart be especially tender to the love He has for you!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Joy to the Chocolate World!

I had a cookie baking day earlier this week and made cookies for my seminary students. After having so much fun making these cookies earlier this year, I determined to try again during the Christmas season and in November I bought a cookie cutter that was in the shape of a Christmas gift. It was perfect for the occassion and would be loads of fun to make, but to my disappointment, my cookie cutter could not be found in my little box of gingerbread boy cookie cutters! Why I have multiple gingerboy cutters I don't know, but I did have a circle shape cutter that I decided would have to work for the project! After much deliberation, I figured that I could do "Joy to the World" cookies with a circle cutter! LOL When all was done, including adding chocolate to my favorite soft sugar cookie recipe, this is what I ended up with!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Selections from Handel's Messiah

We had the joy of attending a local performance of Handel's Messiah this past Saturday night. This was my dear friend Jessica's creation and it turned out to be a wonderful experience for all who got involved and saw it to the very end! And the very best news, is that it isn't over yet... I hear another concert is in the making!

Since I was the photographer, we ended up with fabulous reserved front row seating, which was perfect for snatching a couple more kodak moments after everything got underway! Sheesh! With the great many hours of service that people put into making this happen, I almost felt guilty claiming my seat after snapping a few pics! The choir and chamber orchestra consisted of many people we know! Hi Leslie and Angie! Angie - your solo - WOW!

Hey Seth!! Seth was the youngest performer at age 13! The boys thought it was so cool that you got to play!

Here's her Royal Highness, who about half way through decided she might try to compete with the soprano soloist, despite the gummy bears we kept trying to stick into her mouth!

Finally the real thing and the concert is underway! Hi Jessica - she's first chair violin!

Hey! its us warming up our front row bench! I think this might be our first family picture in years!! Yipes - we better get busy on a more current family portrait!

A Little House in Minnesota

I've been a slow poke about blogging our Thanksgiving Adventures! Keeping up on our school schedule has been a greater challenge now that the President of our Apple Venture has decided he wants to Read, Write, and do Arithmetic! There really is very little in the way of extra time when the day is done! So, finally, here is our exciting Thanksgiving! Our Thanksgiving started with a little house in Minnesota.

When The Apple Farmer took the job offer from Nationwide, he needed to be located in his territory. We began our search for a little place that he could call home while we continued through apple harvest, etc. in Missouri. We found this sweet little house and made an offer. The monthly payments are far less than he would spend on rent someplace and still around 1/2 the average car payment. Tim is no longer covering this territory, and as of October, he is now working for Argo Select, the company he worked for when we lived in California. So it is now time to finish our fixer upper projects on this sweet little house and put it up for sale. We chose Thanksgiving time to load up the family and take a trip to Minnesota and finish a plumbing job that only had about 2 hours of work left on it!

Well, two hours turned into four days! We've done enough home rennovation projects to not be suprised. But among the fix it projects we had some fun!

We visited the German town of New Ulm.

Even though we drove through Sleepy Eye, we didn't make it to Walnut Grove. The boys were anxious to eat our feast which was a twist on tradition - Turkey Sandwiches, Chips, Soup, Fruit and pumpkin pie for dessert! As we drove through Sleepy Eye I couldn't resist taking this video for my nieces who love the Little House on the Prairie books as much as I did when I was their age! So I dedicate this clip to Chickie-nana-girl and my Gummy Bear!

After some more plumbing and eating and plumbing, we dug up into the attic of our little old house and pulled out these scrapbooks. The dates range from early to mid 1930's to 40's.

Most of these are scrapbooks of movie star clippings, but one was of a more personal nature. It was so amazing to go through it and read some of the letters and clippings that this Margaret had placed inside of this book for safekeeping! It really got me thinking about the kind of paper trail I'm leaving behind for my Great Great Great Grandchildren to discover! Something like what we have found up in the attic would be a lot more fun to go through instead of a stack of -emails? I don't even print those off!! Makes me reconsider the fine art of letter writing and snail mail!

We also found this paint book up there along with a Photoplay magazine

from the 1930's!

The fun continued as we plumbed some more, went bowling and then visited the local park!

This little town, I'm certain, was printed on the front of an old christmas card! The town square is lined with old, snow-covered homes. It is peaceful, and except for the sound of the occasional automobile slowly driving by, one enjoys the sound of Christmas Music which is played through the speakers along the square. Sounds too good to be true, but it is real!

We still have more to do to finish the bathroom rennovation. We need to paint walls too. I'm relieved that we won't be doing much more than those items before putting the house up for sale. I'm not afraid of the work...I was just beginning to feel kind of torn about removing the old green carpeting and replacing it with something modern. The carpet just added that much more appeal to the days-gone-by feeling that we enjoy when we are there!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Birthday!

Earlier this week: "Mom! Everytime I think about my birthday I get an adrenaline rush!"

Due December 23, 2002....Surgically removed on December 11, 2002!
Estimated to weigh between 10 and 11 pounds,
He weighed in at 9 pounds 10 ounces and was 24 inches long.

His trademark hair do resembles a dandelion gone to seed...still!!!

Mac & Cheese, anytime, anywhere with anyone!

Is growing up too fast! Has almost worked himself through 2nd grade math. Loves to draw and design his own concept cars. Ford GT is the best.

Hates oatmeal and anything else that will help you grow up healthy!

Now that his birthday has FINALLY arrived, he's realized that there are ONLY 13 days until Christmas and that December is the BEST month ever!

Happy 7th Birthday and may all of your wishes come true!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009