Category Archives: Family

Happy Halloween

Since Halloween falls mid-week this year we decided to celebrate early. Saturday we held our second (annual) Halloween party at the farm. Some readers might remember last year we ended up holding the party in our barn as the weather was not conducive to an outdoor party.

This year although we planned and were ready for outdoor activities we again had the barn ready as a back-up plan. The weather is just too unpredictable. Guests were instructed that costumes were optional, but they should dress for the weather (which should always be the case when you visit our farm).

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By Saturday morning we were certain that rain would be coming later that day. Our party was to start at 2:00 P.M. and we were hoping to get some outdoor activities in before the rain came.

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We spent very little money on decorations. We mostly used materials we had on hand. A few things, like this skeleton (below), we picked up at the dollar store. Looks like he’s been waiting to use the porta potty for a long time. LOL!

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After my husband and I put the finishing touches on our Trick-or-Treat Trail I took some photos so I could take you all on the walk with me. Don’t worry. The trail was designed to be fun for children so there is no blood and gore, no Freddie Krueger, and no one chasing us with chainsaws.

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At the entrance of the trail was a graveyard.

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It was also the first trick-or-treat station. The hanging basket to the left is where the kids could pick a few pieces of candy from the basket (even the big kids got some). The headstones were made out of Styrofoam sheets my husband had collected at the greenhouse job he worked this spring. They were some type of packaging material and were dumpster bound had he not brought them home thinking we might have a use for them.

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I had to edit the photo in order to see the writing and some are still not clear enough to make out the words. Buried in this graveyard (starting in the back row left side) are Ben Better, the double headstone is Ima Gonner and L.L.Beback, the third one in the back row reads Here Lies Mozart, Decomposing. In the front row it appears that Ben was not buried very deep as a skull has emerged from the ground. The headstone to the right is Barry M. Deep and as you can see the last grave is vacant (notice the shovel waiting by the grave). LOL!

While the kids might have been too young to pay attention to the headstones I think the adults who accompanied them enjoyed the humor. This candy basket contained reeses peanut butter cups, Hershey’s chocolate bars, kit kats and almond joys. If you have a favorite help yourself.

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Just beyond the graveyard this guy was hanging out. He seemed to be the gatekeeper (minus the gate). Although he is by no means frightening, when we first hung him up, several night before the party, he looked pretty creepy from a distance, and several times in the days that followed I would be working in various areas around the farm a catch a glimpse of what seemed to be someone standing there, again very creepy. LOL!

 

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A little farther down the trail is our next treat station. I had discovered these two logs laying in the woods and decided to give them some personalities (faces). This basket contained peppermint patties. They seemed to be a favorite of the adults.

 

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As we come to the fork in the road we will veer to the right to find our next trick-or-treat station. This time it is both a trick and a treat.

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My husband designed this basket with the glove secured in it and a fishing line attached to it. The fishing line was then run through a pulley that was attached to the tree behind it. He tied a small handle on the line and then ran the line to a stake that was placed along the path. When he pulled on the handle the glove (hand) would rise up out of the basket of candy. Very clever! This basket contained Smarties.

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We continue to follow the winding path through the woods.

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Our next trick and treat station is just ahead. This “haunted” rocking chair held a basket of ghost lollipops made from tootsie pops. The chair was also rigged with a fishing line/pulley system that allowed us to make the chair appear to be rocking on it’s own (or was it the ghosts?).

IMG_5878 (2)Another treat basket hung from a shepherds hook as we were exiting the woods. This one also held reeses, Hershey bars, kit kats and almond joys.

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Upon exiting the woods we turn to the right and head north along our west property line. Another treat station lies ahead under an oak tree that appears to be inhabited by bats.

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This basket contains white chocolate kit kat bars. As we venture up the slight hill and circle to the right we find our last trick-or-treat station.

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The mummy hanging on this basket is giving out cans of silly string. When the kids took their can of silly string from the basket they were instructed that they could not use the silly string inside the barn. While I didn’t see any adults take a can some how some of them ended up with it. Hmm, I wonder how that happened. 😉

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From this point we could now head back to the barn area where most of the other activities took place, but first I thought maybe you would like to see how the kids enjoyed their trick-or-treat trail.

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Our Granddaughter, Addy, picking some candy out of the basket.

 

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Our Grandson, Jackson, was fascinated with the hand rising out of the basket. He was more interested in how it worked than getting the candy. He did high-five the hand when I suggested it to him. 🙂

 

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Before approaching the haunted chair our 5 year old, great nephew, Landon turned and informed us “I’m not falling for your tricks.” LOL!

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My biggest surprise was how much the kids enjoyed the bats, reaching or jumping up to touch them or giving them a smack to see them fly. They spent a little bit of time playing with the bats before finishing their walk through the trick-or-treat trail.

After trick-or-treating  it was time to play on/in the straw bales.

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The rain held off for at least another hour while the kids played on the straw bales and silly string wars took place.

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No one was exempt from getting “stringed”, so grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, some armed with a can and some not, joined in the fun.

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Just before the rains came my husband and son-in-law moved the straw bales to the barn porch. The straw stayed dry as did the kids as they continued to play.

The kids all looked so cute decked out in their costumes. Don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize their characters because I didn’t. I had to get the scoop from those in the know (their parents). I’ll clue you in – Landon, Jackson and Addy are characters from a cartoon called PJ Masks where three children become superheroes at night. Landon is Catboy, Jackson is Gekko, and Addy is Owlette. Kenzie is wearing a Queen Bee costume (appropriate for a visit to the farm). Queen Bee is part of a collection of doll called L.O.L. dolls.

You may remember Peanut, the cat, from the day we harvested garlic, well peanut has become a regular visitor, showing up at the farm almost daily. I had concerns about peanut being at the party because I thought he might jump on the food table.

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It seems that my fears were unwarranted as once the guests arrived Peanut found many a welcoming lap to sit on. Several times I spotted Addy giving Peanut kisses. It was so precious.

While all of our guests followed our instructions to dress for the weather a few came in costume as well. Jinkies! That’s Shaggy, Velma and Scooby Doo in the lower righthand photo.

In case your wondering what was on the menu we decided to keep it simple. We bought fried chicken from our local Meijer deli and I have to it admit not only did that make it easy it was also good and priced right. I made a pasta salad, we had a veggie tray with dip and cheese tray with crackers and apple slices with caramel dip. For dessert Aunt Donna made monster cookies and I made rice crispy treats. I dare say no one should have went away hungry.

It was a great day filled with food, family, friends, and fun. We couldn’t ask for anything more.

Thanks for visiting. Did you get some of your favorite candy? Would you have showed up in costume? If so who/what would you come as?

Wrapping Up Summer

It’s hard to believe that autumn is here. I just wanted to hold on to summer – perhaps indefinitely. Since it is humanly impossible to stop time, the best I can do is hold onto and treasure the memories that Summer 2019 gifted me.  I have decided to place some of these precious memories in this post where, like keepsakes in a trinket box, they will be safely stored and I can return to them whenever I like.  I will also share them with you.

At The Farm 

In early August I used my hours at the farm for picking blueberries, watering plants, and mostly weeding the prayer garden (this is the time of year that weeds really start to take over if they are not kept in check). IMG_5686 (2)

I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts that the prayer garden was in full bloom. My husband said he wanted to correct that statement but didn’t. He is right of course – by design the prayer garden is in continuous bloom, from early spring, when the daffodils appear, until late fall, or at least until we get the first frost of the season there is always something blossoming.

By mid August my chore list had changed. We had some decent rain so we didn’t have to do much watering. We began picking tomatoes and peppers and I began cleaning our 2019 garlic crop.

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For the past four weeks or so the focus has been on harvesting our garden and either cooking and eating or preserving the harvest. While most of the tomatoes have been frozen so far, I did manage to get 15 quarts of tomato sauce canned. We have been enjoying fresh red skin potatoes (boiled or made into potato salad), Swiss chard (sautéed with garlic, cooked into an omelet or added to a cream cheese stuffed chicken breast), baked butter nut squash, tomatoes (fresh on the side, on a sandwich, or cooked into homemade pasta sauce) and stuffed green peppers. I also cut up three small cabbages and started the process of turning them into sauerkraut. This is the time of year that all of the work pays off.

The Bees

Busy, busy, busy.

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We have eight healthy hives right now and our son-in-laws hive is thriving as well.

 

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We have harvested honey three times this summer from three different hives. Each harvest yielded approximately 30 lbs. of honey. After we harvest the honey and wax from the frames my husband sets the frames back out for the bees to finish cleaning them up. The picture above shows the bees completing this task.

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A few weeks ago one of the hives swarmed. My husband captured the swarm and put it in an empty hive. He then placed a feeder with honey in it on top. The next day the bees had left that hive. We are not sure why they weren’t happy there but they did fill up on the honey before leaving.

The Chickens

The eight Jersey Giants that were cute little chicks this spring are now full grown hens. They began laying in eggs in August and will hopefully keep us in fresh eggs through the winter months.IMG_5650

Soap Making

Normally I don’t make a lot of soap during the summer months but I found I was out of a few varieties. I decided to have some fun with it.

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My sister had given me some silicone mini molds so I made a few small bars using them. I can see making holiday themed sample soaps or using teddy bears or duckies as favors for a baby shower. They would however need to be clearly labeled  “Don’t Eat It!” as I would want someone thinking they were white chocolate.

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I have also been practicing using my soap stamp and getting better at it. It’s really a matter of stamping the soap when it is still just a little soft.

Family and Fun

In early August we planned a family picnic at the farm. Not all of the girls could make it but Tina and Ken brought our grandkids and Kara also came out. After we ate, our three year old grandson, Jackson, went fishing with his dad and grandpa and caught his first fish. I didn’t get any pictures of this because Tina and Kara and I had taken (granddaughter) Addy to pick blueberries.

Not only did Addy enjoy picking the berries she enjoyed eating them as well. The cutest part was that each time Addy, who is learning to talk, picked a berry she would say appo (apple). The first time she said it we thought it was so cute we laughed before telling her “berry”.  So after that each time she picked a berry she would say “appo” and laugh then when we told her berry she would say “ber-ry”. Her laugh was so contagious that we were all laughing each time she said “appo”.

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In August my husband and I went plant shopping. Normally I don’t like shopping. The exceptions are going to a greenhouse or nursey and shopping for yarn or other craft supplies. Each spring we usually go to a local green house and pick up a least a few plants for the year but it’s quite easy for me to get carried away and buy way more plants than I need.

You may remember from this post that my husband was working at a greenhouse this spring and was able to bring home many plants that would have otherwise ended up in the dumpster. With all the free flowers we had there was no need to go plant shopping…until August. While working the landscaping job that he started in July my husband had to make a trip to a nursery where they purchased anise hyssop plants that would be planted at one of the jobsites. “They had pretty purple flowers and the bees were all over them,” he said as he told me about the plants. I knew this herb had some medicinal  properties and if the bees like it then we should definitely plants some.

I did a little homework and found that anise hyssop is generally a plant the deer avoid because of it’s strong fragrance. This sounded like the perfect addition to our prayer garden.

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We purchased two large plants that were in full bloom and two smaller (less expensive) plants that should continue to grow each year until they are about a foot wide. I understand that these plants also drop seeds each year that will readily sprout into new plants. These plants are still blooming more than a month after we planted them and I saw bees foraging in them yesterday. 🙂

As we were walking through the green house I noticed a table full of flowers that I was not familiar with. They had bright orange and yellow flowers. They were marked $5 each. After asking an employee if the deer would eat them and being assured that it was not likely, I picked out two yellow and one orange. (There I go getting carried away.) The plant is called lantana. It wasn’t until we got them home that we realized that they are an annual so will not be coming back next year. 😦

We took a Sunday off in August to visit the Armada Fair and watch the tractor pulls.

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My husband and I wore our matching tractor pull t-shirts so my daughter snapped a photo of us. We were joined by daughters Kara and Lindell and Lindell’s boyfriend Brysen.  We arrived early enough to walk through the animal barns and view the exhibits before the tractor pulls began. I’m not sure which is cuter baby goats or baby cows. I love seeing them both.

We also filled up on lots of expensive fair food. I wonder which was higher the calorie count or the price.

For those of you who, like Brysen, have never seen a tractor pull, let me sum it up. Basically tractor pulling is a competition to see who’s tractor can pull a weighted sled the farthest. If you would like a little more information see this article.

IMG_5576This tractor, named Cruel Intentions, is owned by the Capozzo family. They also own and operate the excavating company that dug our pond. This is the tractor we were rooting for that day and they did take first place in their class.

 

After the tractors were finished they brought in a couple of semi’s that did an exhibition pull.

In the photo below I was trying to get a shot of the score board that electronically records each tractor’s speed and the distance they pull but my aim was a little high.

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After viewing this photo I did spot something I hadn’t noticed before. The street signs to the right of the score board mark the intersection that leads to the adult beverage tent. If you can’t make out the signs they say “Good RD” and ” Beers LN”. That made me chuckle.

The beverage tent was the other place we visited at the fair and while I mostly stuck with non alcoholic beverages that day I did end up drinking a glass of hard cider when Lindell ended up with an extra one.

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Lindell, Me, Kara

Even though autumn has arrived, and the temperatures have been slowly cooling, we are forecast to have at least one more of summer-like day today and I will happily take all that we can get.

Have you ever seen tractor pulls?

What is your favorite memory of this summer?

So Much To Say – So Little Time

In case you are wondering – tilling, feeding, watering, weeding, mowing, growing, picking, preserving, and even time for a little fun- that’s what we’ve been up too.

We are truly blessed – let me show you.

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The blueberries are coming on strong. We have picked and frozen about 5 quarts so far.

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I picked elder flowers to make tincture, but I haven’t got to the stinging nettle yet.

 

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The hot summer temperatures have done wonders for the garden. Weeding has been minimal but we have needed to water every few days.

 

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The prayer garden is in full bloom. It has also requiring watering and much weeding.

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The kids and grandkids came for a picnic. Berry picking (eating) was a hit with Addy. She loved strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

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Jackson had been eating a chocolate cookie. The evidence is still on his face. Aunt Kara is amused by her little buddy.

 

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Hail! Hail! The gang’s all here! It happens so infrequently now days, that all four of my daughters are together, I always like to get a photo of them. ♥

 

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We are not the only busy ones. Check out this hive.

 

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I have spotted bees in the tickseed,

 

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on this marigold,

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and on the sweet clover. They are also foraging in the birds foot trefoil, the white clover,  Canadian thistle, oregano, lavender, and thyme.

We hope to harvest some honey soon. ☺

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Bonus Photo: Since this dragon fly posed so nicely for me how could I not include it?

If I seem to be MIA over the next week or two check for me in the garlic field. It’s time to start the harvest. Until next time – be well.

 

 

Sharing Christmas With You

Christmas 2019 was filled with blessings. Let me share some our Christmas with you.

Gifts

Gift giving,  especially buying lots of commercially made gifts, is not the focus of our Christmas.  If you read my previous post about homemade gifts you know that I have been working on making gifts since just after Thanksgiving. That certainly wasn’t too soon to start because I didn’t actually finish up until the afternoon of December 24th. Whew! That was cutting it close! and I didn’t even have time to bake any Christmas cookies this year.

This year since all of our daughters are living in their own homes or apartments I decided to crochet them each a doily. I have several doilies, that were made by my mother, grandmother and my husband’s grandmother, that I treasure. I have them on dressers, book cases, our entertainment center, and our dinning room table. I think they add a touch of class. I also think it is not something that my girls were going to buy for themselves.

As I mentioned I finished up the last one out of four on Christmas Eve and I only snapped a couple of quick photos as I was pressing them because I still had wrapping to do.

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The other thing I have been working on for at least as long is making candles. Actually making bees wax candles is something I have been trying to get right for quite a while now. Bees wax seems to be incredibly finicky and will not burn or melt properly if it does not have the right wick.

I spent the month doing candle trials with bees wax, bees wax blended with coconut oil, bees wax blended with tallow and some that were plain tallow and using different types and sizes of wicks that were recommended for bees wax candles. I was able to find a  few combinations that burned well, but in  no way have I mastered the art of making bees wax candles. (If I ever do I will blog about it.)

As gifts I gave votive candles in a candle holder with an inspirational message attached.

 

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The message was one of these two quotes:

Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

The Weather

Having a white Christmas here in Michigan is hit or miss. Last year on Christmas Eve we had a snow storm. We woke on Christmas morning to a world that was blanketed in the white fluffy stuff. It was picturesque. We had the “White Christmas” that everyone is said to “dream of”. The snow that fell made driving treacherous. I heard accounts from people who were out in it. They said driving took two to three times longer than normal to get where they were going. It also created a lot of work. My husband spent last Christmas morning plowing and shoveling snow – first at the farm, then bringing the tractor home to clear parking spots for our guests. He also did some plowing for (much grateful) neighbors along the way. As it drew closer to time for our guests to arrive I received phone calls from my aunt and one of my daughters who had started out and ran into blinding snow squalls. These hazardous driving conditions prompted their decisions to stay home and safe.

This year we celebrated Christmas without snow. It was a chilly day with temperatures hovering around the freezing point. The ground was brown, the trees barren, and the skies mostly gray, but we did not have the extra work involved in clearing snow and travel conditions were good for our guests. I was not at all disappointed that we did not have a white Christmas.

Food

I spent Christmas morning preparing our meal. The menu included a fresh fruit platter, cheeses and crackers, smoked salmon (my husband smoked it the night before) and olive mixtures for appetizers. The main meal was tossed salad, lasagna and garlic bread. For dessert we had pumpkin pie, (Aunt Donna’s) cheese cake and birthday cake (for Jesus). Not necessarily a traditional Christmas meal of turkey or ham but very much a hit with all of our guests.

Guests

On Christmas Eve we were extremely disappointed to learn that my Father-In-Law was not up to making the 2 1/2 hour trip to spend time with us on Christmas Day even though my husband was going to pick him up and bring him here. Thankfully everyone else we were expecting made it. Our guests included my Dad, Aunt Donna, all four of our girls and 2 sons-in-law and of course our two grandbabies 🙂

After we ate we gathered in the living room where we opened gifts, talked, laughed, played, shared memories and created special moments that have now become more precious memories.

One funny thing that sticks in my mind was Kara and Lindell shouting “CAMO CORN” in unison as they each realized at the exact same moment that the bucket of caramel covered popcorn that they had received as gifts was not called Caramel Corn. Nor was it Camel Corn as they thought they had heard someone else say. It was indeed called Camo Corn. LOL!!!

 

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There were precious moments spending time with our two little miracle grandbabies. Jackson who is now two and a half was born at just 26 weeks and spent his first 4 months of life outside the womb in a neonatal intensive care unit. He under went eye surgery before he ever came home from the hospital and when he came home he was still on oxygen and being tube fed. He had surgery to repair two hernia’s when he was about six months old and at this time the surgeon discovered that his appendix was tangled in the hernia, so he had his appendix removed at that time as well. It was only after that surgery that Jackson began eating better and gaining weight and was eventually weaned off the feeding tube.

Each time I spend time with this little guy I am awed by how far he has come after having such a rough start to life. Although Jackson has not yet begun to speak he is learning sign language. When they were here on Thanksgiving his dad was holding Jackson and  I threw him a kiss from across the room. His dad showed Jackson how to throw a kiss back to me. We each repeated the action several times. As I stopped and began having a conversation with someone else Jackson signed “more”. When his dad asked “more what?” Jackson leaned in and kissed his dad. Precious moments!

Jackson seems to have an innate curiosity about the world and how things work. He notices little things and studies things as if trying to figure them out. On Christmas we spent time looking at the Christmas lights that hang from our mantle. He would touch one and I would say the color, then he would touch another and I would say the color –  then I would say a color and he would look for a light that was that color. He also took an interest in some of the tree ornaments that were hanging at his eye level. Together we looked at them but learned not to pull on them.

When it was time to open presents Jackson started with a gift from Aunt Donna. He took the paper off the box and I removed the gift from the brown card board box. It was a set of 4 wooden puzzles. They were bound together in a plastic wrapper. When Jackson saw them his face lit up. His Mom prompted he to say “thank you” and he signed “thank you”. Then quickly signed “please” indicating that he wanted to play with the puzzles. My husband sliced open the plastic so we could get out one of the puzzles. Jackson removed all of the pieces from the puzzle then began picking up each piece and studying it, then fitting it back into it’s proper place. Later he and he dad spent time playing with the farm set (tractor, cow, horse, corral) that my husband and I picked out for him.

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His little sister Addy is now almost 14 months old. It was not Ken and Tina’s plan to have another baby while Jackson still needed so much attention, but God often has plans that differ from we humans. Addy’s entry into the world was much smoother than Jackson’s but only with the aid of much medical intervention. The special prenatal care Tina received allowed her to carry Addy to the date that the doctors had planned her C-section. While it was not a full-term pregnancy she was only a few weeks premature and her development has been normal.

On Christmas day I heard Addy say both “mama” and “dada”.  We will be working on “grandma” soon. LOL! While Addy spent some time playing with toys, her activities more so involved being on the move. She busied herself by quickly crawling in whatever direction she was facing. I wanted to give her the freedom to explore but not allow her to get into trouble in our non-baby proof house, so when she took off crawling I would follow along behind her on all 4’s. When she noticed that I was there she would stop long enough to turn and give me a “what the heck are you doing?” look. Then she would quickly be on her way. When she reached  a point where I felt she was getting close to trouble I would lift her up and turn her around. Each time I would pick her up she would loudly voice her objection (scream), but once set down she would be happily on her way.

Tina had brought along the sweater and hat that I had made for Addy’s birthday so I could get pictures of her wearing them. When we put the sweater on I was delighted to see that it was a perfect fit. Tina sat Addy on the beanbag and so we could get pictures. I then placed the hat on her head, but before anyone had time to snap a picture Addy had removed the hat. I thought the hat looked very cute on her but I have no proof because each of the several times I put it on her she immediately removed it before we could get a photo. Oh well – I decided I would at least like a photo of her standing up wearing the sweater. She is still wobbly on her feet unless she is supported so I held her up. As soon as her feet touched the ground it was like her legs became springs. She began bouncing up and down as fast as she could and continued bouncing for a good couple of minutes while I held her trying to get her to stand. This little girl’s antics had everyone in the room laughing and I never did get the picture I wanted. (I think her mom got it on video though.) I really don’t see a career in modeling in her future. LOL!!!

Though our time together lasted only a few hours it was a lovely day packed with Christmas blessings. I hope you enjoyed reading about it. ♥