Monday, November 30, 2009


I really haven't been putting off sharing my "thanks" during this past Thanksgiving season. I've simply been too involved in all that I am thankful for to stop and write it down. Now the Thanksgiving season is past and we have welcomed in the Christ-Centered season. But are the two season's so much different? I think not.

Oh, I love this time of year. Last year I swore that I would not get too busy to feel of the Christmas spirit. I think I have accomplished that goal (so far.) Leif gave me my first gift of the season this past weekend, his time, which for me equals Love. He shares a lot of his time with us daily. But lately he has been booked solid with school work and we have all felt of his absence. By Friday we had decided that we would face the crowds on Saturday and do some early gift shopping. However, by Friday night Leif and I were at our whits end with Jakob. He was nothing but naughty and we were nothing but weary. Well, that night after our evening prayer together Leif came to a wise conclusion. He realized that Jakob had been without his two most valued playmates for the last while and it had taken it's toll on his mood, Grandma and Papa. At this realization Leif made a change in our Saturday plans. He decided that Saturday he would spend the whole day doing nothing but playing with Jakob and Caleb. So, we woke up the next day and guess who got a day off? ME!! Ahhh, it was so nice! And Jakob was SOOO thrilled! In fact he was so thrilled to have Papa's full attention that he got a bit over zealous for a time and decided that he no longer liked me, he only liked Papa. And he let me know it. Well, eventually this did hurt my feelings and when Papa found out what was happening he jumped right on it. He sat Jakob down and began listing all of the things that I have done and continue to do for Jakob and helped him understand that I care for him because I love him. It was a sweet moment that I will treasure. The whole day ended up wonderful.

I have just shared an experience that pretty much gives a clear picture of all that I am grateful for. I am grateful for the power of prayer and the connection that our Heavenly Father has with us. He knows us personally and will guide us if we seek His direction. I am thankful for my precious family and all that they mean to me. They are EVERYTHING to me, All of them! I am thankful for moments of peace. I am thankful for my cozy home where some of my choicest memories are made. I am thankful for my husband who is my soul mate in every sense of the word. I am forever grateful...

And what did we do to celebrate all that we are thankful for on Thanksgiving Day? We ATE! I found the Country Women's Christmas cook books by Taste of Home at the library and they are filled with amazing recipes. I cooked more for this Thanksgiving then I have ever cooked for one thing in my life. Carrot Cake Doughnuts, Butterscotch Pull apart Bread... So much I can't even list them all. Leif made an amazing ham and gravy from the cookbook and a delicious turkey. We had Leif's grandpa Dixon over and his sweet wife Dee. It was a treat spending time with them. We all stuffed ourselves and had leftovers for the whole weekend and into this week. I have concluded that Thanksgiving Feasts are symbolic for some people. For me, the food is symbolic of all that I am grateful for. This year our feast symbolized much gratitude!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Raising Chickens:Photos, Stories, and Updates

We share a good bit of land (that is owned by Leif's parents) with Leif's parents. Half of the land is developed into a nice backyard with green grass, trees, benches, and a trampoline. Behind the developed yard is a miniature fruit tree orchard and a homemade log jungle gym for the grandkids. That is the portion of land that sets behind Leif's parents house. To the east of their home they built what is called, The Barn. The barn looks like a well built, pretty, yellow barn. In reality it is a two level building with a two room garage on the bottom and (up until three years ago) the upstairs was 800 square feet of open space with an enclosed bathroom. Now, the upstairs is our cozy two bedroom cottage. Before Leif's parents graciously allowed us to gradually make ourselves at home, the land surrounding the barn consisted of wild alfalfa and fox tail fields with a large greenhouse (turned storage unit) at the back of the property.

Why am I beginning a post titled "Raising Chickens" with a description of the layout of our land? Well, because now the land surrounding the barn could be classified as a growing little homestead filled with a large dog house and a puppy, a small plot of grass for the family, a good sized garden, a pile of enough wood to burn for a winter, and two large chicken coups filled with almost 30 chickens. It seems that all we need are a couple of goats and maybe a miniature horse or cow. But I'm getting away from the subject at hand: Chickens.

For some families, the chickens they raise are intentionally given names such as "Sunday Dinner," "Frozen Dinner," or "Barbecue." When it comes to our chickens, they have been affectionately given names such as Frank, Marty, Bessy, Sue, Sally, Hershey's Kiss, Silky, and Tiny. We have 30 pet chickens. Some of them we naturally know and value more then others. For example, we had a Silky named Princess who unfortunately ended up with some brain damage and had to be put down. This is No Fun! We tried to help her live a decent life. But she got to the point where she couldn't figure out which way was up or down. She would twist her head around and end up on her back in a corner. That has been one of the more troublesome experiences with our chickens. But then again, there have been other times. Like the morning that Leif rushed in after checking on our chicks we had just moved outside the night before. He carried a tiny half frozen chick in a towel and hesitantly handed it to me to try to revive as he had to run out to work. I worked with the chick wrapping it in a heating pad and such. But it took a final breath after a while and was gone.

But raising chickens isn't all down and dreary. We had a hen go broody for the first time last month. That means she was ready to sit on any eggs we were willing to put under her and she'd hatch them out. We gathered 10 eggs for her and set them in front of her one at a time. She took the egg with her little beak and gently rolled the egg underneath her. She took 8 eggs and squawked when we suggested she take more. She then incubated the eggs for 21 days straight, only getting off of her nest twice that we know of the whole time. The mother hen's natural instincts are astounding. We were thrilled to find Sally, (our mother hen) with five baby chicks exactly 21 days to the hour that we set the eggs at her beak. Three of the eggs didn't develop. But the five that did are still alive and well. It has been so fun to watch all of them grow. It is also Very Nice for us not to be the mother hen. Jakob tries every day to make sure they know who he is. He'll climb in their coop and visit with them, which also helps Sally to accept our presence.

Before this current batch of chicks we actually purchased several fertile eggs online of a chicken breed that is very rare in the US (Light Sussex with Lavender/Coronation Gene) We did order some of the pure Coronation Sussex but none of them hatched. Leif is planning on raising them and selling their eggs and chicks. It was fun to get the eggs in the mail and take them to a friend who has a nice incubating machine. Again, 21 days later (actually, some were 23 days) we had a batch of skittish little chicks. I don't mind having them in the house. They actually don't smell and the little peeping sound is soothing in a way. These are the chicks who were spared from the smoke that I wrote about in a previous post. We will be securing our heat lamp much better in the future. However, we hope to always use a broody hen to raise future chicks.

As you can see, there is much that can be said about raising chickens. It has become a family endeavor. We now let the chickens free range throughout the yard for the afternoon and they are mighty grateful for the chance. The boys love to walk among them and try to pick them up. So far the easiest to catch are Sally and Sue, our Buff Orpingtons. Our roosters are very tame as well. We actually have three. Frank is the head rooster, Marty and Silky are the two underdogs. Which chicken am I most attached to? I would have to say Bessy. Bessy is the very first chick that we bought. She is a Black Australorp. When she was a chick she was very curious. So much so that we had to put an oven rack over the brooding box to keep her inside. However, it wasn't at all uncommon to look over and see Bessy's little head poking up through the bars turning every which way. She is still a leader. But very calm and patient.

This isn't even the half of what I could write about our "Raising Chicken's" experience. Until next time, I hope the picture I've tried to draw for you flows through.

Early Thanksgiving Gathering: Hunt Grandparents

Last weekend (or was it two weekends ago?) My parents made a spontaneous weekend trip out to visit. Leif had loads of homework. So the kids and I played with grandma and grandpa while Leif hit the books (poor guy!) One of the days we even met up with my aunt JoAnn and played with her in SG for a day. Saturday we stayed close to home and spent the day together and had a mini Thanksgiving Feast. My mother (who is an excellent cook) prepared some AMAZING pork chops, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, salad, and a delicious Cranberry ice cream pie. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. We were happy to be able to spend a couple of days with them before their next big run of Hunt Mystery shows in November and December.

Unfortunately, I didn't get very many pictures throughout each of the days. But here are a few from the day in SG.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Motivation For This Mama!

ADDED LATER: My dear cousin in law wrote this comment on this post and I wanted to share it with everyone. She drew an even better picture for me of what my life's work is then I did. I originally had a photo of an apple orchard on this post. Now, a temple. Thanks Sandra!!
"Your post reminded me of a poem of Grandma Stanger we inherited. It's called Two Temples. It talks about one builder who built with grace and skill. Wonderful pillars and arches. His fame would not be forgotten. Then a mother who built a temple with loving and infinite care. Laying each arch with prayer. None praised her efforts, they were unseen by the eyes of man. The builder who's temple is now crumpled to the earth is forgotten. But the temple the mother built will live on. For that beautiful unseen temple was a child's soul. Your building temples Lena :)"

ORIGINAL POST: My life is very full at the moment. I wish that I was able to take the time that I used to, to return emails, visit everyone's blogs, comment, and write every day about life and it's happenings and my studies. However, there are seasons in life. Right now, it is planting time in my world. I am working sun up to sun set sowing seeds that I pray will one day flourish and grow into beautiful trees who will in turn bare good fruit to share with those around them.

I pray for this constantly through the joys of my day as well as the weary times. Today I was blessed with one of those priceless moments in time when as a mother I felt a tiny glimmer of success. We were at a restaurant for lunch. I had dished Jakob up a plate and set it in front of him and began eating my food and trying to keep Caleb from dumping his own plate of food as well as mine. Suddenly an elderly lady tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear and said, "your son has the most beautiful table manners. I've been watching him..." Now, she may have thought the compliment was meant for my son. I think not.;) This Mama felt a Mission Accomplished!

Jakob said something very cute tonight. We were reading book #15 in the Magic Tree House series titled Viking Ships at Sunrise. There was a paragraph where one of the characters in the book says that the word civilization is "when people have books and art and good manners." After reading this Jakob stopped me and said, "hey! That's us, we should put a sign on our door to let everyone know!" The book then goes on to explain that monks are "religious people who spend their time praying and reading and helping people." Jakob's eyes lit up at this and said we needed to add that to our sign. I thought this comment was one of those priceless moments in time and wanted to share.

I miss my time building my friendships and writing my thoughts and feelings. But I do cherish this time with my family that I have recommitted myself to. Life is not always perfectly peaceful at our home. I have one boy who loves to reenact war battles and watch military documentaries on a daily basis (if we would allow it.) And a toddler who loves to throw a fit when he doesn't get his way. But it is nice to go to sleep at night and know that I am making some sacrifices to raise them the very best that we know how.

This post s in no way meant to be a bragging post. In the end, I think it came out of my head as a motivation booster to help me smile throughout my day tomorrow.

Gnight' All!

A Release: Young Women Presidency

Ahhh, Saturday Mornings.... This morning has been the wonderfully classic Saturday morning. We slept in, able to stay cozy in our warm beds until the kids insisted that our day begin. It's cold and rainy outside. So none of us are anxious to get outside and work in the yard or with the animals. So we sat down for breakfast together. Now we're just doing what we WANT to do. No school, no appointments. I am going to blog! To make this more fun, I need to add photos.

Well. I was released from the Young Women's Presidency in our ward two weeks ago. The women that I served with have become my dear friends. I hope that we will continue our friendships. Being with the girls on a weekly basis gave me the chance to see all of them at their best as well as at their not so best. And they saw me in the same light. They taught me a lot and I pray that I was able to teach them something. All in all, it was a valuable experience that I will treasure.

Well, I guess blogging isn't going to be an option right now. So, I'll leave me update at this and try to give more when I don't have little ones demanding my attention.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Answers: Christmas Scriptures, Did the Chicks Survive?

I wish that I had more energy at the end of the day to write. So much happens in one day here at our little homestead. Maybe this short post will spur me on to write more tonight. We'll see...

Anyway, A couple of friends have asked me questions that I want to answer before it's out of my mind.

The first question is: Did the chicks survive through the smoke incident? YES! And we are So thankful! They huddled in a far corner of the box and were spared.

Second: What are the scriptures that I will use for my Christmas Countdown Candle? I found a great resource online that has a page full of great scriptures HERE. It has scriptures in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I'm really excited to start our countdown. This particular list of scriptures starts on December 14th. It's a 12 day countdown. I will put 12 marks (with red wax, sequins, beads, etc.) on our candle. We will burn the candle to the next mark each night. We'll read and sing by candle light and of course the Christmas Tree lights. I Can't Wait!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Our House Was Protected

Our eyes were opened this afternoon to the blessings that come from a merciful Father in heaven. My parents came to visit this weekend from up north. We have had a wonderful time. But we have stayed up later then usual and were very tired this morning (Sunday.) We had to make a conscious decision to go to church today, rather than going "as usual."

Upon our arrival home from church we were greeted with the front door wide open and the smell of smoke overwhelmingly strong in the air. My first thought was, "good heavens mom, popcorn for breakfast!?" But my parents soon explained the true source of the smoke.

My dad has come up each morning that he's been here to take a shower. Apparently a shower wasn't in his plans this morning. He was going to sleep in late with my mom. Well, he said that he woke up a bit earlier then expected and he just felt like taking a nice shower. My mom tried to get him to stay in the trailer. But he just felt like going up (which is a big deal because it's a long flight of stairs which isn't easy for my dad who uses crutches.) So he made the trek up the stairs only to find that the house was thick with smoke. He immediately went to the baby chick brooding box that holds seven baby chicks warmed by a heat lamp. Sure enough, the heat lamp had fallen face first into the sawdust and was only a few minutes away from bursting into flames.

To think that Father in Heaven, He who holds the universe and it's inhabitants in His hands, is aware of our tiny little cottage in our tiny little town, and was willing to send the prompting to my earthly father to make the trek necessary to spare us, is profoundly humbling.

The rest of our day was filled with prayers of thanks for this precious gift and mercy.

Thank you to both of my Father's for their love and care!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This year for Halloween we were excited to get out in the community and enjoy the festivities. Unfortunately that wasn't a possibility due to Jakob being sick. But we didn't let that stop us too much when it comes to having fun.

I went to the video store (yes, I went to the store ALL BY MYSELF! Thanks Love!!) and rented a couple of little kids Halloween movies. Then I went to the grocery store and bought the fixins' for Chicken Enchiladas and Magic Cookie Bars. I topped it off with some sparkling Apple Juice and a Pumpkin Pie for Leif. MMM!

Earlier in the month we purchased two of the biggest pumpkins at the store. So we had a lot of fun Halloween afternoon carving them. Let me rephrase that, LEIF had a lot of fun. All I did was draw the basic Jack o' Lantern face on the pumpkin at Leif's insistence. Jakob drew a dinosaur on the other pumpkin and Leif carved it so we could see the light through it. Fun! Fun!

Since we had planned the kids costumes ahead of time we decided to dress them up anyway. They thought that was a great idea of course! Jakob changed his mind three times this year when it came to what he wanted to dress up as. First it was a spooky Halloween Cat. Second it was a Dinosaur. Finally, he chose a sailor. This followed right along with his obsession with the military. The costume is an antique made from my grandfather's official sailor uniform from WWII. My father wore it when he was Jakob's size, my brother Jason wore it, and now Jakob's worn it. So needless to say I am protective of the costume. But I'm grateful that Jakob thinks it's neat. Caleb wore a Tigger costume that Jakob wore when he was Caleb's size. I must say he was adorable!

So all in all, we had a Happy Halloween, as it should be!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Swine Flu Update

Well, Jakob and Caleb seem to be better. No fevers this morning. But all I want to do is lay around or sleep. My head hurts. No fever. Other then that, we're alright. I have A LOT I want to write about. But like I said, I'm tired. So hopefully after nap time... Let me list what I want to blog about so I can remember when I feel up to it:

Caleb's 18 month update
Jakob update
Raising Chicken stories
Halloween Night
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