Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adelyn's First Birthday

It is hard to believe that our little sunbeam is one year old now! How the past year has flown by . . . and what a joy it has been to have Adelyn as a part of our lives!

Adelyn enjoying her first birthday cake

We had all wondered what she would think of her first birthday . . . the presents, wrapping paper, cake . . . she was fascinated! 

Opening a gift from her Grandpa and Grandma


It was so fun watching her open her presents and especially seeing her Daddy helping her. (I love watching my brother as a Dad!) 

Not quite sure what to think of the hat I made for her!

Ashley meanwhile captured all of the priceless moments on their camera . . .


Opening up the gift from Leah . . . a little collection of adorable crocheted hair barrettes

 Playing with the blocks from her Grandpa and Grandma while sporting one of the barrettes that Leah had made for her.

 Leah photographing during the gift opening

Everyone all together 
(except for me the photographer and Gracen who was sleeping)

Adelyn wanted to see the photos that her Mommy had taken . . . it was cute to watch this!

Mom holding Gracen after she woke up

Look at those chubby cheeks! It's hard to believe that she is already well over a month old!

Daddy and Ryan enjoying one of many conversations that they had together this evening.

Adelyn and I playing together

Before the gift opening, delicious dinner, and evening of visiting, we all went outdoors to see Ryan and Ashley's new additions to their farm . . .

Sheep! Three ewes and one ram. One of the ewes lambed shortly after they got her, and the baby lambs are so cute!

You can see the two little ones underneath of their mama in this photo

  Daddy and his little buddy . . . I love watching these two together! Adelyn sure loves her grandpa. :)

How thankful we are for the precious gift of little Adelyn . . . what a blessing she has been!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Wonders of His Creation

My Dad recently discovered this rather unique caterpillar on one of our 
apple trees and brought it over to show me . . .

Isn't it incredible with the many different brilliant colors and with the different features it has (such as its many spines and its 'sucker feet')? It was really neat to see and to watch it as it moved!

Quite curious as to what species it was, I brought it inside, pulled out our insect identification book, and began the search . . . meanwhile, trying to keep little caterpillar from crawling away. It turned out that my Dad was correct in his guess that it was the caterpillar to a moth . . . and a Cecropia moth to be exact.

Cecropia moths are beautiful ones and a bit uncommon as well (I have yet to see one that is alive.) Not wanting this little guy to perish, and not exactly wanting him consuming our apple tree leaves either, I looked in the book to see what different tree leaves they eat of which walnut was one. So I transported the little fellow to one of our walnut trees so that it could continue its work of eating, eating, eating until it is ready for the amazing transformation of metamorphosis.

What amazing design . . . such a little creature with such incredible detail . . . from the largest to the tiniest, all of creation does indeed bring praise and glory to its Almighty Creator's name! 

"Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." (Psalm 139:14)

Just a little note . . . I do hope to have a post up soon about Adelyn's 1st birthday! I have been wanting to share about it for the past week, but amidst tomato processing (which is finally winding down) I haven't yet had the time to process and re-size the photos. I hope to do that soon, though!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

3:42 pm . . .

. . . and this is what was captured on my camera . . .

 32 jars of tomato sauce that were canned yesterday (the jars still need to be wiped off and labeled), and 8 jars of barbecue sauce that were the result of Monday's canning

 Lots of ketchup simmering on the stove for its first cook down (Mom, Leah and I had a busy morning as we worked to get it to this point!)

Delicious granola that Leah made in the midst of all of our work with the canning

Two loaves of bread rising on the counter (and that are now in the oven baking as I type)

A sewing order that I have been working on between canning steps and stirring the simmering ketchup . . . it is a pioneer costume which has been fun to work on!

A book that I have been enjoying reading during a few spare moments. . . it is one of my favorites!

Monday, July 16, 2012

What a Week!

The heat and dryness are continuing here and the signs of it are certainly showing . . . other than our near two inches of rain that we received a month ago and then 2/10ths of an inch that we got last week, we have had nary a drop since around the beginning of April. 

The weeds are even wilting, the grass is turning brown (except where our septic system is . . . I guess there is one advantage to having your septic system underneath your front yard!), and we've also lost three large trees so far (other than these ones, though, the trees are all still fairly green.) And . . . there isn't much for expected rain in the forecast. 

It's beginning to look a bit like fall

I know there are many being affected as this drought is so widespread - covering 61% of the United States last time I checked - yet there are many things that we continue to be thankful for . . . most of all, that we have a Father who knows, sees and cares and that we need not worry, but can trust Him fully and completely.

"Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places." (Habbakuk 3:17-19 - these are some of my favorite verses! And they came to mind when I was thinking about the drought.)

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? . . . Do not worry then . . . But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:26, 31, 33) Such comforting words!

Other blessings that have been coming to my mind over the past few weeks are . . . .

~ that at the beginning of spring, we were able to purchase all of the hay that we should need for the next year. Considering that there is already a hay shortage, that is something that we are thankful for!

~ that despite the week and a half stretch of temperatures in the triple digits, all of our animals managed to survive save for two litters of rabbits that we lost. Yes, chores were much more intensive with needing to water everything several times a day, needing to move pregnant rabbits into our air conditioned shop to try to save them and their babies (two of them are still in our shop as well as their happy and healthy babies), and giving ice bottles to the rabbits every day, but we are thankful for how well everything did overall!

~ that despite the heat, our dairy does' milk production has stayed high and steady giving us plenty of milk for fresh drinking, baking, and for a lot of cheese making as well - both mozzarella and ricotta.

~ that we are able to water our vegetable garden and fruit trees so that they continue to grow and thrive. The garden has been doing much better than we could have hoped with the dryness and heat, though we have lost some crops. We are so thankful for the amount produce that we have been able to harvest!

And speaking of harvesting, and the consequent processing, that is what has predominately been filling our days lately and has provided quite a few memorable moments . . .

Last Tuesday was Ryan and Ashley's anniversary so they went on a much enjoyed day trip together with Gracen while we watched Adelyn (which is always a treat!) That same day we had a friend of ours and her four children over for the afternoon. You can imagine how much fun that was for all of the children to be able to play together and all four of us ladies to be able to visit and work together! This day was salsa canning day for us, and by the time that everyone had arrived, I had the onions and peppers chopped and was ready to begin on the tomatoes. Lori and her oldest daughter (11) helped us with those and then when it came time for filling the jars, the two oldest daughters (11 and 7) helped with that process.

I really enjoyed teaching them how to do this! And they enjoyed it too. I filled a few jars and prepared them for the canner while the girls watched, and then it was their turn . . . carefully ladle the hot salsa into the jar, remove air bubbles, wipe the jar rim, get the lid out of the hot water and place it on the jar, screw on the ring, carefully place the jar in the canner, and you're done! The younger one's comment after doing her jar was "Canning is a lot harder than I thought!" [smile] Leah and I are hoping to have them both over again soon for a day to do some more canning together . . . we are looking forward to that!

So that is one canning memory . . . the other involved Leah and I staying up until 1 o'clock in the morning on Wednesday (or I should say Thursday . . . we started on Wed. and finished Thurs.) waiting on a batch of ketchup to finish cooking down so we could can it. It felt like "the song that never ends" . . . it kept going and going and going. :)

As a little precursor to our midnight canning adventure . . . last week was also Dad and Mom's anniversary so Dad surprised her with a trip to Pioneer Village in Nebraska (and did they ever have a good time! Judging by their descriptions and the photos they took, it is an amazing place!) They left on Wednesday morning with the plan to come back Friday evening, so it was just Leah and I here to 'hold down the fort'. We were looking forward to our days together just the two of us, and we had them pretty well planned out . . . and it included a whole counter covered with tomatoes that we were going to process.

Right after Dad and Mom left, we got started on making ketchup . . . and did that all day, finishing up the last batch at 1 o'clock in the morning. We had doubled the second batch little considering that it would also take double the time to cook down! That was one memorable batch of ketchup. :) Leah and I had a lot of fun making it even though we were rather tired by the time we finally made it to bed!

The next morning was primarily spent spraying in the garden . . . has anyone ever experienced blister beetles in your garden? If so, I feel for you. They are the nastiest, most disgusting garden pest I have ever encountered, and we had them in the thousands if not the tens of thousands. Some places there were so many that when I was spraying, you could literally hear the sound of thousands of little feet hitting the ground as they ran away.

The damage done in the Mangel beets by the blister beetles . . . almost entirely skeletonized leaves

Thankfully, with consistent spraying, the numbers of these voracious beetles are greatly reducing. 

After the spraying was finished, and also watering of Dad's tomatoes and peppers, we spent the day cheesemaking . . . two batches of mozzarella and two of ricotta. Only the first batch of ricotta was a flop since I mixed up a step so this batch ended up being used to water the plants instead.

Diced tomatoes with whole tomatoes behind them

Friday was spent sewing and then more canning of tomatoes . . . and then the evening brought Mom and Dad safely home. It was a very fun three days for all of us! The only thing that Leah and I didn't get done that we had planned on doing was getting to bed at a decent time. [smile]

Saturday was a much enjoyed day as it was the day we celebrated Adelyn's first birthday! And there will be more about that (along with photos) in a future post.

And that about summarizes our week . . . and I think the canning theme is going to continue, for as I type, there is a 6 foot table set up in our entry way that is completely covered in tomatoes and there are a great many more ripening on the vine, too. It is exciting to finally have a good tomato crop even despite the blister beetles and the drought! Ketchup, barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes . . . all of our tomatoes will be turned into these things soon!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Little Sunbeam

Three whole days and nights with Adelyn . . . could it get much better than that?

Those days with her (during the time that Gracen was born, and Ryan and Ashley were at the hospital) are ones that I will never forget! (I don't think any of us will . . . they were just so special!) They were full of hugs and kisses, laughter, squeals of delight, little feet and knees crawling across the floor in hurried anticipation to follow us around, little arms reaching to be picked up, an inquisitive face always interested in seeing what we were doing, enjoyable (and sometimes entertaining!) meal times, doing new things such as letting go of my hands and standing all on her own for several seconds, chubby little hands clapping and waving (two of her favorite things to do), a baby's version of piano solos, and so much more! Even middle of the night diaper blowout clean-ups were a joy when this sunshiny face is what greets you . . .

Yes, those three days certainly were memorable!

So happy after her naptime!

Helping her Grandpa measure out grain for the goat kids . . . she was so enthralled!

Daddy showing Adelyn what was in the cup (grain) and explaining to her what he was doing.

She makes quite the faces whenever we would go get her after her naps! She would get so excited and scrunch her face all up like this.
(As a little note of interest, two generations have used this crib now . . . first Ryan, Leah and I and now Adelyn. The crib even bears Leah's teethmarks!)

Bathtime was a definite highlight for this little sweetheart! I don't know who enjoyed it more, though - Mom or Adelyn! It was so sweet and so funny watching and listening to the goings on in there. Adelyn definitely loves water!

Snuggletime after a nap

Out for a walk 
(using the baby carrier that Leah had made for Ashley - Adelyn loved being in it!)

Grandma's lap . . . a wonderful place to be

Oh, the things that provide entertainment! Here it was the label off of a goat feed sack.

More snuggletime

 Leah and Adelyn during our walk together . . . and shortly before it was time for her to go home.

Me, Adelyn and Leah

Expanding her world . . . with an immature wild plum! She was fascinated by it.

"Aunt Leah and Aunt Sarah keep giving me all these things to look at and touch . . . but they won't let me put them in my favorite place - my mouth!" Yes, Adelyn likes to put everything in her mouth! Even Black-eyed Susans. :)

Love this little sweetheart!

She kept turning away from the camera and giving me kisses . . . wide, open-mouth, slobbery baby kisses. :)

Getting kisses from Grandma

"That was fun!" 
She kept getting the giggles and had us laughing!

Adelyn is growing up so fast, and her personality certainly is developing. And what a joy it was to be able to spend these days with her!