Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Letter


Greetings from the farm! Yes, we are still in the country, and loving it. The peace, quiet, and natural surroundings agree with us!

We’ve had a good year. Oh, there are always new things going on, new challenges and changes, but it’s been a great year. We just keep our plans in pencil and wait to see how God leads! We continue to study, learn and grow, and we love that He is faithful.

We sold the Driving School this spring. Robb had been thinking (threatening is more like it!) of selling it for a while, so when someone was interested in buying it, he gladly gave it up. We enjoyed our first summer uninterrupted by classes!

Our .com business took a turn as well. We sold the sales website to a competitor and branched out into a different business through our contacts at Wagner. Now we have a “clearinghouse” for rebates and promotional mail-in orders. This business is a little less demanding, and as a result, Robb was able to obtain a job in the corporate scene. Robb now works in Eden Prairie (40 minute drive) for Trean Corp, a malpractice insurance company. Robb is the underwriting data technician…a fancy name for making sure all the data is accurate as the company merges everything into a new database. The company is great, and his boss is not only a believer, but also a home school dad who used the same program my family used for 7 years! What a surprise and blessing it is for Robb to have so much in common with his boss! We are also enjoying the perks of working for someone else: benefits! Another blessing is a new road that will be done this spring, which will shorten his drive to work by ten minutes.

In July, my cousins came from New York and Hong Kong to join the rest of our extended family at Northern Pines Family Camp for a family reunion. As kids, we went every year together. The family gathering was particularly special considering the cousins live so far away, and we expect Laura and Andrea to scatter to the ends of the earth once they graduate! We stayed in a big house on the campus of Green Lake Conference Center in WI and celebrated Grandpa’s 90th birthday and Grandma and Grandpa’s 65th anniversary.

On September 22nd, my twin sister married Thad at Northwestern College. We were all in the wedding, so I was worried how the day would go with the kids. Madison’s meltdown happened in the dressing room (I DON’T WANT MY HAIR CURLED), but she was fine when the time came for her to walk down the aisle with Megan. The pictures did not go as well… (you may notice on our Christmas picture)…in every picture she is sucking her fingers with her index finger planted up her nose! Thankfully, the rest of the festivities went without a hitch. The day was lovely. The happy couple is now living in Sara’s house. Thad fits into the family great and we like him a lot. I, for one, am glad to have my sister married off!

I keep busy doing the same ole stuff. I’m still home schooling and trying to stay sane. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t! Mitchell took his first Achievement test this year, and I am happy to report that, (contrary to his own belief), he is not stupid! Megan and Madison are two peas in a pod and love to help me in the kitchen. All three are busy, busy, busy and keep me sending up what I like to call flare prayers of “HELP!”
Merry Christmas!
Robb, Kristina, Mitchell, Megan and Madison

Frosty Farm



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A mere cup of coffee

In the beginning, this story will seem to be about getting a cup of coffee. It is. But read on.

On Sunday we had a family gathering at a couple's home. They shall remain nameless to protect the guilty. We had a lovely dinner of taco soup (provided by us), conversation, and the kids played outside. After dinner Mr. X made coffee. It was unusually strong, but I can't hack regular coffee, so I went to the fridge for some milk. There were two full jugs, and I didn't want to open a new one, so I took out the third, almost empty jug. I poured a little into my mug until I noticed it was not milk. It appeared to be water. Robb joked, "Watch out! It's probably bleach water!" But, knowing that Mrs. X often drinks water out of large jugs, I assumed it was water. I opened a new jug of milk, poured some into my coffee and added sugar. My coffee tasted just right.

We continued the enjoyable afternoon until Miss x (10) interrupted, held out the nearly empty milk jug, and said, "What is in this? It smells like bleach and I drank some." I now realized I had consumed bleach water as well." She and I pondered our fate. I didn't want to take any chances (would you?) so I made a call to poison control.

Did you know that you could drink a whole gulp of bleach straight from the bottle and all you would get is a stomach ache? I learned that from poison control. Thankfully, the only stomach ache I got was from the beans in the taco soup.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Chickens


I have recently entered a new phase of self sufficiency. I now know how to butcher chickens. Yep, I helped a friend kill and clean a few of her birds. It's really not that bad. I expected the chickens to fight a bit more, but they were quite subdued. Maybe they were half frozen! Maybe they figured dead was better than being cooped up in a tiny shed with 16 other birds. Anyway, they didn't protest their end much.

Call me twisted or whatever you wish, but I have harbored a secret wish for many years to see a chicken running around without a head. Yesterday their feet were tied, so they only flopped. The kids watched from a distance and laughed. Debbie thanked Jesus for dinner. I was just satisfied the job was done. For that day, anyway. There are 12 birds left. Maybe we'll leave their feet untied.

Monday, November 26, 2007

O Christmas Tree
















I have wonderful childhood memories of setting up the Christmas tree. The stereo would be on playing all our favorites and we would have hot cider or hot cocoa or cookies. Sara and I would excitedly unpack all the ornaments while Dad sat on the floor painstakingly testing each bulb to see which had caused the string to fail. It seemed like forever until the lights were on and we could decorate the tree. We looked for the walnut shell ornament with the miniature nativity scene carved out of a miniscule piece of wood, and carefully examined the tree for the best place to nestle it where a light would shine on it like the star of Bethlehem. We carefully unwrapped the glass candy canes and angels. We gingerly handled the curled paper ornaments. And when we were done, we turned off the lights and just sat in the dark stillness and admired our work.

My kids look forward to this tradition as much as I did. They anticipate the event for days. A few things have changed though. I set up the tree and I do the lights.

Usually I unpack the tree, get ready to put the lights on, and the strings don't work. I have tried to do as Dad did, and sit for an hour replacing blubs while the kids jump around asking me how long before they can put ornaments on. But this year I had the novel idea of buying lights ahead of time in anticipation of their failure. So I did. I bought five boxes. I wouldn't run out of lights this year! Well, I didn't. All last year's light strings worked!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fishers of Men



A couple of years ago I was on a walk around the block with the kids and a rattling, maroon mini van pulled up along side me, a man with third day wiskers leaned out and asked, "Do you live around here?" I was a little skeptical of this man and his vehicle, but I told him, yes, we lived around the corner. He said he had just moved into the house two doors down from us and his son would love to play with my kids.
So began a friendship with Todd and Erin. I found out that Erin was a Christian, and that Todd had never been to church. We hung out. Our kids played. We trekked a path between our houses. We invited them to our church. They came. Even Todd.
I guess we planted a seed of truth. We didn't mean to, really. We were just ourselves, living next to our friends. Talking, eating and laughing. Somehow, Todd saw God in us.
I prayed for Todd. Maybe Robb did too. We saw small changes in him. He started to listen to Christian radio. He came to church. And this fall, a relative invited he and his brother to go on a Christian fishing retreat. They went, and even though Todd was a bit skeptical of the retreat element, at least he was going fishing on Lake Vermillion!
As it turns out, he not only got to go fishing with a famous guide, he and his brother got caught: by the love and grace of a good God. And you know what's funny? The fishing stunk, and they didn't even care!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I like Megan...


...especially when she helps me do the housework! On Wednesday I decided to give myself a birthday present: a clean house. While I cleaned, Megan decided to do the laundry - ALL of it! Can you believe it? I can't. But there to prove it is the empty, clean space where the dirty laundry used to be. My daughter made my day, maybe even my week. Now that's a great birthday present.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Say Hello to the newest blogger


Since my communication with all my favorite people is erratic, I am hoping that entering the blogging world will help me post family news and pictures, and then anyone can access it at any time. Wish me luck!