Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Mother's Prayer and the Protection of Angels

These Things I Know, President Boyd K. Packer, April 2013 General Conference
Isaac was supposed to arrive in New York City at around 10 PM.  He had to take public transit to a friend's place, where he would stay for the night before checking into the dorms the next day.  That meant he had to haul two suitcases around on the subway, then drag them along behind him the four or so blocks to the friend's apartment.  Four blocks doesn't sound like far, but in Manhattan, a lot goes on in four blocks.  We were nervous about the late arrival, but 10 o'clock isn't terribly late on a Saturday in the city.  The streets would be filled with ordinary people doing ordinary things.

Through a series of delayed planes and switched flights, Isaac didn't end up arriving until 2 AM.  Now we had gone from an uncomfortable situation to a genuinely treacherous one.  I was a wreck.  I don't know precisely how Isaac felt, but I know he was worried as well.  From the moment I knew he had arrived in town, I was praying.  It was late at night for me, too, and the worst-case scenario scenes began playing in my mind.  My fear and worries began crippling me.  Clutching the phone in my hand (waiting for updates), my prayer became fervent.

I was praying, not a general, Bless him, but a very specific request;
Heavenly Father, send angels to surround my son and have them very literally escort him to the safety of the friend's apartment.

The Ministry of Angels, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, October 2008 General Conference
He arrived safely and all was well.  I offered up a sincere prayer of gratitude, then shared my testimony with my son.  Isaac, in return, shared his testimony with me.  He had received a dog tag type necklace from a pioneer trek reenactment he had participated in just last week.  On the dog tag is printed the simple scripture,
Fear not, I am with thee.
"I am so glad I wore that necklace, Mom."

I testify with President Packer, that a mother's prayer holds a special weight with our Father.  I also testify with Elder Holland, that angels will come to our aid--they are actual beings, not mythical in any way, and they respond to the call to protect and guard.  Finally, I testify with Isaac, that we need not fear, for God is with us.

Field Trip Summer: Alpaca Ranch

Last week's field trip was a trip to a local alpaca ranch.

Have you ever seen alpacas?  I'm sure I had at some point, but never really close up like this.  I have seen llamas many times (and don't care much for them), though the ranchers did have two llamas in the herd to protect the much smaller alpacas. If you look closely, you may notice some yuppy goats in there as well. (Unlike the redneck goats we had grazing down our weeds.)

They were actually kind of adorable little animals.  I was surprised by their small size and cute little faces.
I have a few alpaca converts in my family; the girls WANT some.

 Along with lots of educational information, the kids were able to feed the animals (through the fence so they weren't mobbed), then went inside the pasture to pet and play with them.  Yes, they were spit at!

In addition to the alpacas and llamas, the ranchers had miniature horses--declared by one daughter to be her new favorite animal. These beautiful animals are not ponies.  They are just like horses physically and in temperament, just on a micro scale.  They were originally bred to pull ore carts in mines! I had no idea.

The boy was interested in the animals, but much preferred running around the wide open spaces.

Every good ranch needs to have horses to love on as well.  Camilla especially loved feeding and petting the horses.  The farrier was there, so we got to watch that process, too. Super cool bonus for this field trip.

I had to snap a picture of our new one to show that she and I graced the alpacas with our presence, though we weren't in any other pictures.
Nice photo bomb, Camilla!  haha

 There you go, a day meeting alpacas.
And chasing a three year old.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


I've paid a 10% tithe for as long as I can remember. From my earliest paid chores for Mom, to babysitting in my teenage years, to adult-wage jobs, tithing is always the first check written, without much thought.  (Admittedly, every once in a while, I do think, "Wow. That is a lot of money."  But I don't allow myself to go much further down that path.  I just pay it.)

This week, because of wonky summer schedules, Justin's paycheck was a full 25% less than a normal paycheck.  In the course of the month, that discrepancy will be corrected, but for this two-week block, it meant we were in a bit of trouble.  (This is where an emergency fund comes in handy, but on the heels of paying for a baby delivery and the removal of wisdom teeth in the last few weeks, it was nonexistent.)
It happens that our mortgage, student loan payments, and insurance premiums all come out of this paycheck.
Oh, and property taxes are due.
If I paid the tithing, there would not be enough money for our bills, much less gas or food.

I paid the tithing.
Within two days, we received $200 worth of "surplus" chicken breast . . .
from two different sources.
And when I went to pay the property tax, it was discovered that our mortgage company had already paid it!
Because of the end-of-year timing of the completion of the house, they weren't going to start tax payments until next year.
I guess they changed their minds.

Sometimes, the benefit of tithing looks like tires that live beyond their expected lifespan.
Sometimes, it looks like a steady job.

But sometimes, it is literal food in the fridge and unexpected money in the wallet.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 
~Malachi 3:10

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Baby and Her People

She is seven weeks old and has gained over four pounds!
Her smiles are here and are still a treat, though are beginning to come with more regularity.
She is adored.


Uncle Levi

Oldest brother


Oldest sister

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Field Trip Summer: The Fish Hatchery

This week's field trip got a rocky start.  As I was planning the day before I went to bed, I knew I needed to leave at 9:30 in the morning.  It takes a full hour to get there from my house and since I am the one organizing the trips, I wanted to be there early enough to welcome others in the group.  
Getting out the door at 9:30, with an hour's drive would get me there half an hour early. . .
if it were starting at 11.  But it wasn't.  It was starting at 10,
a fact I knew the night before, but still got 9:30 stuck in my brain.
You don't need much of an education to see the error in my math!

So, we got started late.
I was relying on the phone to give me directions, since it is in an unfamiliar area, and the phone died in route.
And there were multiple construction detours on the prescribed streets.

But, we made it.

And we saw a bunch of fish in various stages of maturation.

More importantly, we saw friends

and climbed trees.

After our picnic lunch, we zipped over to a small area titled Indian Painted Rocks and took a quick peek.

I mean, it wasn't a wasted day, but it wasn't a flagship day either.
Oh, well. You can't win them all.

At least they liked the sack lunches.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Field Trip Summer: The Spokane House

Not the Christmas Card I was hoping for, but good enough. ;)
Our field trip last week was to the site of the first white settlement in the area.  It had been the site of many traditional gatherings of the Spokane Tribe, especially during the time of the salmon run.  On this particular day, the Spokane House was having a Fur Encampment, which was basically a bunch of history buffs doing a pretty darn good job of recreating some of the setting of the area in 1812. After visiting the small museum and viewing the artifacts, we moved on to the encampment.

Our first stop was a tipi booth with a guy from the Spokane Tribe.  He gave excellent information about the diet and lifestyle of the local natives.  There were lots of things to touch and taste, including camas root which we eventually decided tasted like a carrot with no sugar.

Muskrat, squirrel, and beaver tail.
Reading the instructions....
Most of the characters made their own costumes, props, tools, weaponry and shelter.  They were all open to questions and enjoyed talking about their passion.

A few years ago, I started building a tipi.  I built the skeleton and intended to cover it with a living vine of some kind, rather than canvas.  Other things got in the way and I never followed through.  Throughout the event, each of the kids requested we try again with the tipi.  
It was a great idea. I'll have to give it another go!

Each trader showcased a skill or craft from bullet making (melting down the lead rod and pouring it into a mold, etc), candle dipping, rope making, stretching beaver pelts, cooking apparatus and so on.  Most of the people were men, but there was one woman representing the necessary contribution of the women of the time.  She addressed herbal medicines, working of the skins, sewing the leather (which men did also, to some degree), tending the children and preparing much of the food. I appreciated her showcasing the female contribution.  Team work was the name of the game for the early traders, trappers and pioneers.

I am a serious lover of history and could have talked to these guys for hours.  Some of the children were more interested than others, though, to their credit, there was no complaining and everyone had good attitudes.

 Even from this guy.  It was a cool day and there was an on again off again drizzle of rain during our visit. 
 Isaac kept saying he was cold.  I offered a jacket or a blanket from the car.  
"I need the TV to get me warm!" 
Pfft. City boy.

The second field trip was informative and fun.  I'm asking the children to write papers about each of our field trips during the summer.  I'll be interested to see what jumped out at them enough to want to write about it.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Respite from the World

The rapists, the conspirators, the thieves, the abusers, the cheaters, the killers, the greedy, and the just plain mean people of the world
dominate headlines.
Our world is in a state of crisis.
Satan certainly has gotten a tight grip on more than his share of mankind.
It is so disheartening, especially as I watch my children grow and face the blatant evil of the world that surrounds us.  
It is easy for me to become hopeless and to become filled with that blackening spirit of the evil one.
Despair isn't too strong of a word.

My husband said something on Sunday that struck the Truth Cord.
When we become immersed in genealogy, we get lost in it.
So much so, that we forget about the world.
That, as much as the desire to find our kindred dead, 
is the Spirit of Elijah!
*Malachi 4:6
Daguerreotype of the great-great grandfather after whom we named a son.

When I am lost in the puzzle of seeking out my ancestors, I am NOT lost in the pit of worldly doom.  
I feel compelled to continue searching, finding connections, documents, and trace bits of evidence of those who have gone before.  During that time of study, it is my whole focus.

A daughter is this grandmother's namesake.
I have a firm testimony of angelic assistance.  They are my grandparents!  I have but one grandmother still living and she loves me.  Why on earth would she stop loving me after she has gone to the other side?  It makes no sense.  Just as it makes no sense to think my other grandparents stopped loving me when they stepped beyond the threshold of physical death.

Another daughter bears the name of this great-great grandmother.
My parents give me good gifts, gifts to help me be happy, to have knowledge, to understand truth, and to bring protection.  Sometimes that might look like a bobcat in a mess of a yard and other times it may look like an intriguing philosophical conversation.

My grandparents cannot buy matching 4th of July outfits for the children or sit by my side and explain a difficult scriptural passage, but they can give gifts.

There is no denying the protection they have given our family--I think we've been allotted a disproportionate number of guardian angels!!  This I have known for years.
But I never really thought about the gift of escape that they offer;
escape from the worries of the world, not the cares of the world such as laundry and bills, but the deep-in-the-bones worry that plagues a mother's heart.  

This time, a daughter named after the great-grandfather!
While I am giving those on the other side the gifts I can (finding them, their children, cousins, aunts, and uncles), they are giving me gifts as well. 
My mind is directed toward eternity.

Just one more selfish reason to do my Family History Work.

A grandmother I never knew, but the stories reveal she is a strong person who will do what she can by her family.
She is watching out for us.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Yoga Challenge

A couple of nights ago, the girls had friends over.  One of the planned activities was something I'd never heard of before.  It is called a Yoga Challenge.  Now, I've done Yoga for years and it never looked like this before!  
(Wow, Emily, sound like an old lady much?!) 

The girls looked up poses online for ideas.  The internet is full of super fit people doing things like this:

and this:

Undaunted, the girls got busy.  Some of the poses they actually performed fairly well.
Others . . . well others were much more entertaining!

After trying quite a few of the poses invented by other people, the girls started making up their own. 
One friend is especially imaginative and she quickly began directing.
Behold, the pyramid, complete with dead Pharaoh and a mourner.
Because, obviously.

So, if you're looking for some riotous laughter, try the Yoga Challenge in your family or the next time a bunch of friends come to hang out.

It may not be recognizable Yoga to me, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a work out!
There were some sore muscles the next day.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Grocery Shoppers

Apparently my price checking was taking too long.
They couldn't stand for one more minute.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Piglets

Two of our girls are raising 4-H pigs this year.  The third is an alternate and is being raised by the seven year old (not old enough to join 4-H officially).  Justin and I built the pig pen out of scrap wood leftover from the house build.  Even the nails were leftover, making the whole enclosure free.  Wait, I did buy hinges for the gate.  Other than that, though, it is made from recycled materials.  It is probably silly because it is a pig pen, but I love it. It looks old fashioned, which fits our design aesthetic.  I'm a dork.

It is a long uninteresting story, but we got three pigs, each born weeks apart.  They are drastically different sizes.

You do not need to see the owners of the pigs to know they are being raised by girls.  Their names are, I am not kidding, Bibbity, Bobbity, and Boo.  Kinda cute.

A few days ago, after they dumped out their water bucket yet again, I installed a nipple into a water barrel. It took the pigs no time at all to find the water and this barrel isn't likely to get dumped over!

We invested in mucking boots (which are cheap rain boots) for the kids, trying to avoid bringing pig poo into the house.  So far, so good! The girls have to tend to the pigs every day.  This is a HUGE reason we decided to get pigs.  I am way outside of my comfort zone here. I really don't know anything about raising animals--especially livestock--but we have one daughter in particular who needs to learn consistency and how to work.  Tending animals is a good way to develop those attributes.

Plus, the manure stinks and if we want the neighbors to be neighborly, the girls have to pick it up every day!

This is Bibbity, the smallest.  It will be a miracle if she makes weight in time for the fair in August.  If she doesn't, we'll use the alternate at the fair, then fatten this one up for awhile longer before we butcher her for our freezer.

Bobbity, the other white pig, is our fatty.  She is the oldest and should make weight if we do this right.

Finally, the alternate and middle-sized black pig, is Boo.

They've been around for a few weeks already and we are off to a great start.  The kids are loving this and the animals are fairly low maintenance.  It may or may not be the cheapest way to get meat, but it will be good meat and better experience. We will let you know when the meat is for sale! Stay tuned.