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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

nativity_scene

Fortunately 2013 was not nearly as exciting as 2012, nobody can take that kind of a year twice in a row. This year our Christmas letter will be almost completely child-centric. It was a year of firsts for Elly.

January: Elly sat up for the first time this month and we began ordering seeds for this year’s garden.

February: Elly started eating solid foods, her first taste being cherry mash given to her by her father. We started the garden seeds indoors, hoping to hurry spring along.

March: Megan took Elly for her first ride on a horse and she got her first taste of garden dirt. We took her on her first vacation to see Aunt Doris and Megan’s entire family in Lincoln and Omaha, after which we all got VERY sick with the stomach flu.

April: Larel took Elly for her first four wheeler ride and we planted potatoes just in time for the big spring blizzard. A few calves were lost but we faired better than many.

May: We had the first hail storm of the year but it got the rain started and it didn’t shut off all summer. We stayed busy planting the garden, taking cows to pasture, and planting corn in the fields.

June: We got many more hail storms the worst of which missed us. The garden thrived and we feasted on produce from the greenhouse.

July: Elly enjoyed a busy first Fourth of July. We watched the parade in Crawford and took our yearly pilgrimage to Hot Springs, SD to purchase fire works and partake of homemade ice cream. Elly liked the fireworks although her bed time interfered with her enjoyment of the night. To celebrate Elly’s birthday we took a trip to Omaha to visit her grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin. Also, we stayed at the Lied Lodge and explored the arboretum in Nebraska City.

August: This was an extremely busy month for us. It didn’t help that school started on the 7th this year. Larel didn’t feel like he had enough time to get all the work done he needed to before the kids and teachers started showing up at school. Elly celebrated her first birthday with family and friends, and lots of food and cupcakes. Larel saved a small kitten from the middle of a road and thus, Elly gained her first pet cat. Unfortunately for the kitten, Elly also took her first steps and started walking during this month. By attending his class reunion, Larel was forced to recognize that it was over 20 years ago that he graduated high school.

September: Elly’s Aunt Shannon graciously agreed to watch her while Larel and Megan drove to Scottsbluff to see the Marty Stuart concert. It was totally awesome by the way! It’s too bad music on the radio today isn’t as good as that was. There was a terrible storm that went through Hay Springs, bringing large hail and strong winds. During the storm, the roof was ripped off the high school auditorium. Repairs are still being made to the inside of the building.

October: This month started off with a full-on blizzard. We all agreed that it was way too early for that much snow, but it didn’t stop the storm from dumping on us. Elly’s grandma and great-grandma were here to see her dress up as a cow and take part in Moonlight Madness in Chadron. Several days later, Elly dressed up as a Nebraska cheerleader for her first Halloween.

November: Corn harvest came and went but not before Elly had her first combine ride. Our church provides care for children while parents attend service. We had been contemplating leaving Elly with the other children in the nursery and finally got the courage up to do so. We needn’t have worried…in fact, Elly actually cried when we came to pick her up because she was enjoying her new friends so much! Megan has started a DSC02657store on etsy.com selling child’s dresses and antiques, it has been quite an adventure.

December: Since we didn’t travel back to visit Megan’s family last Christmas because of young Elly, this year we will be making the trip. Because of the nightmares associated with flying and driving, we are planning on taking a train to Illinois. It remains to be seen if it’s less of a nightmare, but it sounds fun at this point. It will be a first for both Larel and Elly! And last but not least Megan got Elly a horse for Christmas. It is a little early, but you have to start out the child on the path they shall follow.

Megan, Larel and Elly

Togo

I have never heard of it. Apparently it’s a country in Africa. On the western coast to be exact neighboring Ghana and Benin. That was as long as I was able to concentrate while reading about it on Wiki.

But it seems that we bought some little girl there a Christmas present. Our church participates in Operation Christmas Child a project run by Samaritans Purse. They have people fill a shoe box with gifts, what ever will fit but they offer some suggestions such as soap, a toothbrush and writing supplies. These things seem so rudimentary to me, it is hard to believe that there are children out there who don’t have the most basic of their needs met. It almost felt insulting to be giving a bar of soap, I mean really, I would be horrified to receive such a well meaning gift. We are so privileged.

We got to choose boy or girl, we went with girl because we have one and I thought we kind of got what they are like. And age we chose two to four again we have one, almost. The other option was whether or not you wanted to know where your box ended up, of course. Although now I want to know so much more. Who is she, what is she like, did she like any of the stuff? I understand it is a largely agricultural society, does her family farm like ours does? Did she really need soap and a toothbrush? I included a little horse statue, do they farm with horses? Should we have sent a toy tractor instead? Click here to read about Togo, and the Christmas presents

Samaritans Purse offers some really cool charities my favorite of which is their agriculture program. They will give a pregnant animal, goat, cow, what ever or even baby chickens to a family. The family then gives the offspring to another needy family and still has the animal to continue breeding for food, milk, eggs or fiber. They supply seeds and training in farming practices. Live stock to farm with such as oxen and donkeys. Agriculture is awesome.

Christmas Programs

We are headed to Illinois to spend Christmas with my family this year. We didn’t go last year because the prospect of that much traveling with the small Goblin Child was more than we could handle. It still is, she does not travel well, but we decided to persevere. Flying is fast once we get to the airport, only a two or three hour drive. Carrying a crying child on a plane for two hours then trying to walk the mile from our backwoods terminal at O’Hare, seriously we unload onto the runway, they roll out the little steps and everything, while dragging suitcases a child and car seat  was to much.

We thought about driving, two days with the Goblin Child in a car seat. Have I mentioned that she doesn’t hold still? Ever. We were trying to decide wich sounded least awful when a friend asked if we had thought about taking the train. We had not but it sounded like a good idea, so we got tickets.

I am excited and terrified at the same time. The station we chose is four and a half hours according to google. We get on the train around midnight at a stop that has no services no anything but a parking lot. The number of things I can think of that could go wrong are astounding, the ones that haven’t occurred to me yet boggle the mind.

Other than that it sounds great, we splurged for a room. Folding bunk beds, ah the luxury. I am hopping the child will fall back asleep after we find our room carrying a screaming child through a train full of people trying to sleep at midnight. She really is a good kid traveling just has not worked well so far.

Have I mentioned that on the return trip we get off the train around the same time? Later I think. Our car will have been sitting there by its self probably in below zero weather for a week. I’m sure nothing could go wrong there.

Christmas in Illinois though. I am looking forward to it, seeing family and all that but mostly we get to go to the Christmas program at Willow Creek church. It is awesome. Sorry mom, Justin, glad to see you guys too. We also get to see the Christmas program at the church school where my brother works, also awesome. They are huge beautiful productions very grand and well done with great music and gorgeous decorations. They are a highlight of the trip every time we get to go.

But last Sunday we went to a much smaller Christmas program. It starred some tiny children and some medium sized children. Most lines were remembered, the lambs wandered a bit. One spent the whole time facing the back of the stage. It was great. It was sweet and funny and very well produced. Really I loved it just as much as the big fancy one I am looking forward to seeing so much.

Christmas Music

It occurs to me that Christmas is almost here and I haven’t done any Christmas music.

It doesn’t get any more beautiful than this.

Warmer Weather

I carefully turned the wheels of the feed truck into the bank of snow, no parking break here. Pulling the handle I lay my shoulder into the door to open it. Stepping onto the running board I brace against the brisk breeze and nearly fall on my face as my foot doesn’t lift back up off of the running board. Regrouping I yank harder breaking the ice seal that froze my boot to the metal and repeat the process with the other foot before trudging off through the snow to break ice in the tanks for the cattle.

I’m so glad the weather has finally warmed up.

LE & OD

OD

OD

We bought LE

a pony

his name is OD.

She said “Yippee!”

“Is he for me?”

I said “Yes siree.”

From then on LE

loved OD

they ran free

across the prairie

as far as we could see.

If you look behind you will see Daisy

following along loyally.

We let them be

because we knew that OD

would take good care of LE.

If only Coyotee

liked OD

we could all be happy

but I’m afraid it is not to be.

(He’s only here on trial technically

but we are rather fond of little OD

if only because he rhymes so whimsically)

It’s a God Thing, By Tammie

2013-10-25 10.16.15

Enjoying our visit, The Goblin Child loved seeing her grandmas

I was fortunate to have my mom and grandmother come out for a visit last fall. It was great to see them both but mom had this little bit of excitement on the way home. Here is her telling of it:

 

Zipping down the interstate through the russet and gold Missouri hills, doing about 80, the speed limit there is much higher, and passing the semis which go slower and slower up those big hills. Suddenly there was a loud continuous  noise. I was not sure what it was, the semi I was passing? Instantly took my foot off the gas, semi passed but the noise stayed. It was the Subaru.

 

Pulled to the right and, right there, there was an exit. Went up it wondering what was wrong. Wasn’t the engine, cause the car would go, but something very bad.

 

Found myself on a short country road that came to a t  at a large parking lot with a big old building housing a beauty shop. It seemed pretty quiet right then, no one around. Stopped as soon as I hit the lot and jumped out, phone in hand, calling Monte (husband). Saw immediately the rear tire had blown out.  I made a frantic lap around the car wondering how, and where, and what exactly I was going to do. As I got back around to the blown out tire, I glanced up and saw a man standing at the front of the Subaru. Was kind of surprised to see him, hadn’t noticed him before. But I was pretty caught up in what was happening and telling Monte. The man said he thought I might need some help, so I hung up and and asked him how he had known. He said he saw me looking at the car and could tell some thing was wrong, had daughters who he would not want to see left with out help beside the road and came over. Turns out he had been walking down the road collecting cans. 

 

This man was certainly doing the job of an angel  that day! He stood by while I unloaded nearly three weeks of vacation out of the back to get to the spare. He spent a very long time helping to find the many pieces for the jack. I should say at this time, there would have been no way I could have done this with out him! He changed the tire, put all the jack pieces back where he found them, told me where a gas station with air was and then walked there (not very far,just around the corner) and, borrowing my reading glasses to read the amount needed checked all my tires and filled the donut.

 

That in itself is enough of a God thing, but then Monte found a dealer who had the tire I needed just off the interstate in Saint Louis! Not hard to get to and only an hour on down the road.

 

God is good!

Computer Renovation

My husband is a computer genius, in my opinion at least. He is a geek, geek is the new cool you know. His home computer is his baby all hopped up for gaming and such. He built it five years ago and since that is ancient in computer years he decided that it needed a rebuild this winter. He spent what little spare time he has pouring over computer component web sights trying to find the perfect combination of price verses performance. He’s as bad as I am when looking for horses.

His old computer had a floppy drive, not that he used it but the mother board had a plug in for one so he felt the need to install one, just ’cause. It was a good machine, it withstood a lightning hit that killed one of the two ethernet ports. He spent many an hour playing World of Warcraft and Lotro with the old girl before he developed a family that demanded all of his time. The much loved all aluminum case is not going anywhere, it is light weight, good for heat transfer and quite stylish.

This miserable and cold winter day with temps reaching a high of near zero was the perfect day to tackle the project. So spreading pieces across a card table he started to work while the child napped.

Unschooling

I have been reading, off and on, Penelope Trunks blog. Mostly the ones on homeschooling. The subject comes up more often then one would think. I would consider it if I were not so happy with our local school. I am friends with many of the teachers and know that the science teacher doesn’t believe in the theory of evolution. Got to love that.

Penelope talks about doing not just homeschooling but unschooling. Apparently it is just what it sounds like, not forcing them to learn any thing but to allow them to explore and decide what they want to learn on their own. It goes so completely against everything in the modern school systems and seems so very extremist, I am not sure I can agree with her. Not completely at least. But, wow, it makes me think.

She proposes that if there is something that we really want the children to know that it should be important to us and prominent in our house. By the prominence of what ever it is the children will naturally pick it up and continue it further if they are at all interested. I know that our particular child even at her very young age, watches every move we make and mimics most of them. Reading her writings made me think about that and the importance of acting in the way we want her to learn to behave.

This was made all the more obvious when she began to pick up my napkin off the dinner table and place it in my lap for me from her position in her highchair. One time growing tired of helping her spoon feed herself, I ripped the spoon impatiently from her hand. When I offered her the next spoonful she wrested it impatiently from my hand. Everything I do now I try to think what it will look like to her. From going to church, almost, every week to speaking kindly to the dog and even that drat cat.

I think I will leave schooling to the schools, for the most part, but child rearing does seem to be much like horse training. Every time you are near a horse, or apparently a child, you are training it. For good or bad that is up to you.

Twenty Below

That was at eight this morning, by the time I sit to write this it has warmed up to fifteen or twelve below depending on the source. It was kind of fun at first, a bit of an adventure, but now I am sick and tired of it. When I went out to take care of the horses and chickens the air was to cold to breath, burning nose and lungs with each inhalation. Why was I taking care of the horses? They live happily outside with their round bale and heated waterer, it can’t get any lower maintenance than that. Well other than giving them some grain in this miserable weather they wouldn’t need anything except…… 2013-11-29 13.32.41 We are trying out a new horse. Yes, a new horse. After looking high and low and mostly just for the fun of it one was dropped into my lap. I always figure that is how horses should be found. One should put in the effort, or not sometimes, and God will surprise you with what you actually need, not what you think you want.

I had decided to buy a cow, still working on that but that’s a different story, and was looking through Craigslist comparing prices and seeing what was out there. Sale barns are so difficult with a large, energetic child, we are going to do it though once the big bred cow sales start, maybe.

Anyway I was looking for cows in the Rapid City Craigslist and came across an add for an old short Peruvian Paso gelding just the other side of Chadron. I always think the Pasos move so funny, the regular riding type less so than the show horses. They are incredibly smooth though. I called. We looked. He is definitely built like a Paso with the weird butt. His legs are much lighter boned than I would like, but they have carried him soundly to twenty. He seemed perfect, zippy and responsive we had brought the trailer along it was a done deal.

Until he crow-hopped with me when I asked him for a little speed. Not a trot he doesn’t trot, very cool and smooth. That was it I said no. I wanted a very quiet well behaved horse that a small child would be safe on. She swore up and down that he doesn’t do that, that he is a safe dependable horse, a confidence builder she said. Then she offered to let us take him home for a trial. My non-horse person husband liked him and wanted to try it, so we brought him home.

I got to ride him for a couple of days before the weather turned so miserable. He is very zippy, speeds all over the place in that wonderful Paso gait, and is very light in the face. He neck reins wonderfully which is lucky since he has no clue what legs mean. I guess most people ride that way, reins only no legs, but I tend to ignore the reins and use my legs to steer. This is a bit of an adjustment for me but could be good for a small child whose legs don’t reach. If we decide to keep him, which seems likely I’m rather fond of the little guy, I will have a good year at least to make positively sure that he is trust worthy  and teach him things like stepping over to the fence for mounting, can’t live without that one even if he is thirteen hands. Need to make sure that he ponies quietly too and knows how to get gates.

Until then, I turned him in with the other two and they don’t get along. Not a surprise, Coyote hates everybody. So I am taking him extra grain, more than the other two are getting, and locking the two meanies out of the hay to make sure he is getting enough. I hate for him to be short any hay at all in this terrible cold weather.  I worry so much because of his age, I know they can go into their thirties but I have never had one make it past twenty.