Saturday, October 30, 2010

What I've been up to

So, I know, I know. It's been forever. I'm sorry.

Here's a few of the things I've been busy with in my absence.

Sewing a wedding dress for my sister-in-law.

The hem was a little wavy. Wish I knew how to prevent that. But overall, I was happy with it. I learned a lot in the process.

I also made a Mondrian dress.

I love this dress, and am really proud of the way it turned out, even though the lines are pretty wavy. I made it for a contest that I didn't even come close to winning.

Here's the before shot. I fused wool sweaters onto this foundation dress. It was fun.

Tommy got his first major injury by pulling a bowl of hot soup off of the table onto himself.

We had our major User's Group conference at work, which meant a few really long workdays for me. Our annual party for our customers was a cowboy theme. I had a lot of fun dressing up in cowboy boots, a western shirt, chaps and a hat. Of course I didn't get any pictures of me. You can see that Tommy was already mostly healed up (this was less than a week after the burn), and doesn't he look cute in the hat? (The one I wore was black, but they gave out these straw hats at the party).

A few hours after the User's Group conference was over, we drove up to a wedding rehearsal. We contributed a big batch of Maghani Muktar (Indian Butter Chicken -- better known as Chicken Curry) to the dinner. It was yummy.

The next day they got married. It was one of my favorite weddings of all time. So spunky, authentic and pure. The bride had never been kissed. Congratulations, you two!

Lisel was the flower girl.

I made my own dress to wear to the wedding -- my first time making a dress for ME.

It was also a learning experience, but I'm okay with how it turned out. I'll probably make it again. This one was out of a navy blue sheet.

Now I'm just catching my breath. All these events took place in a three-week time frame. Also during that time, just unpictured, was a trip to the Omaha Zoo, a few days camping in a cabin (so much fun!), and our family's big annual Fall Fest.

I have dreams of starting a new blog -- really a replacement for this one, with a different name. We'll see if I do it. If so, I'll let you know...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Jesus Song

holy experience

I like family rituals. And we have many of them.

One of my favorites is the bedtime ritual. Each day, at bedtime, after the kids are theoretically ready for bed, we gather together in the living room. Then each child in turn says the verse for the week and picks a song that we as a family sing. Finally, we pray and the kids are off to bed.

The other night, Josephine was the first to say the verse and pick the song. She said the verse perfectly (as usual). It was Psalm 112:1 "Praise the Lord. How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his command". She decided to sing make up her own song to sing, so the rest of us just listened.

"Jesus, Jesus, I know you, and you know me and I love you and you love me. You're my savior and you save us, Jesus, Jesus". It was very sweet and pretty.

Next was Matt. He, too, said the verse almost flawlessly, then requested to make up his own song. He started off singing sweetly.

"Jesus, Jesus"

Then his whole body flailed, and his song turned to a series of gun and bomb and smoke and fight noises as his feet kicked and his arms swung wildly.

Then it was over. The entire "song" about three seconds. I about died laughing.

81. Family rituals
82. Songs to Jesus
83. Ripe raspberries - so sweet off the bushes

84. Our first chicken egg!
85. Two jars of wild grape jelly, from a small bag of wild grapes that God allowed us to find, even though we were tardy by nearly a month from their normal season.
86. A more-rapidly-healing-than-usual bout with poison ivy, after hunting said wild grapes
87. Neighbors with apple and pear trees, who don't want their fruit
88. A juicer, given to me years ago, that makes such quick work out of apples and such
89. Fresh apple juice
90. New recipe: candy apple jelly

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thousand Gifts, part 6

holy experience

61. A gentle father, teaching his son to mow the yard
62. A son, eager to learn and contribute to the household
63. Men teaching boys to love hard work

64. Sweet Sunday, once again sweet
65. (and the namesake meets again, little Tommy)
66. wide smiles
67. curly tops
68. guitar lessons
69. pleasant, filling fellowship
70. Calm tummies, even after eating too many sweet rolls and sweet corn

71. Young love
72. The eagerness and anticipation of two upcoming weddings
73. Family, serving together in preparation
74. A dress-cutting party
75. Wedding shower reminders on making marriage last long

76. Garden produce, so abundant I can't keep up
77. Boss at work, sweating with eyes dripping after biting into a cayenne pepper that I claimed was hot
78. Gallons of spaghetti sauce, ready for canning
79. Cases of bananas (no, not from our garden), made up into yummy bread and shared among friends

80. A new home for two chickens that turned out to be roosters (which are illegal to have in our city)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thousand gifts, Part 5

41. round green blooms on the onions
42. twinkling stars on a clear night

43. Tommy's first birthday
44. that he lived through those first few preemie weeks, through the H1N1 flu, and on to today, his Birthday
45. how he learned to sign "please" when we fed him Birthday ice cream
46. The other kids, insisting that they, too, get to give him a birthday present
47. Tommy learning to drink through a straw on his special birthday cup from church

48. the Washington county fair
49. cows in the shoe barn
50. feather-footed chickens (how funny they look!)
51. crowned chickens (Mom! they look like a dog with those feathers on top)
52. Lisel noticing that this bird must be a duck, because it has webbed toes
53. long-haired bunnies
54. no one stepping in cow pies
55. free ice cream at the fair
56. first place jam and flower bouquets from my sister-in-law
57. watching our first horse-race
58. playing with toy tractors in piles of sawdust
59. climbing hay bales

60. chickens, sleeping soundly in their new dogloo that we found on the curb

holy experience

Monday, August 2, 2010

holy experience

31. So many shades of green in the summer tree tops
32. Hazy water, evaporating from sprinklers
33. One more chicken than last week (we mis-counted last week, I guess!)
34. Ladies and families that serve our church every week by cooking breakfast for all who come
35. Three different people that were kind enough to jump our van
36. Stores open late on a Sunday evening, that carry new batteries for cars and the necessary tools to change one
37. A new battery that fixed all the evening's problems with the van
38. Grass along the parking lot to play in and squish our toes into while Chester fixed the van
39. A husband that knows how to fix a van!
40. A safe arrival home, late on a Sunday evening

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thousand Gifts, part 3

holy experience

21. Partial fencing around a yard that keeps an escaped chicken from really escaping.
22. Bennet isn't afraid to catch such a chicken.
23. Neighbors all use their air conditioning and haven't noticed the crowing of that particular chicken, who is almost certainly a rooter, not a hen like we thought.

24. Husband's coming home after a bit away for work.
25. Restaurants to celebrate such a return.
26. The financial gift to do such a thing.
27. Brainwashing that's so effective the kids had no concept of a restaurant!
28. Picnics, which would have been our normal special outing. ("Mommy, you forgot to bring the food!")
29. After a couple of weeks without a husband, a day with only dishes, laundry, chicken care, cooking, cleaning and a two-hour appointment felt really low-key. It's all about perspective.
30. The rhythm of my husband's snoring. So calm and relaxing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thousand gifts part 2

holy experience

11. A hard-working husband
12. The funny colors that peppers turn in the garden (yellow, white, purple, orange, red)
13. Friends who understand
14. The colors of the brown and black chicken
15. Instant water
16. A kind and gentle dentist for the kids
17. A book on gratitude
18. Purple-red beets (and that most of the kids liked them)
19. The fun of sharing our produce with others
20. A big cicada in the kitchen (instant insect study)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thousand Gifts part 1

holy experience

1. The sound of cicadas at night
2. The breeze of a fan in the window
3. Cool evenings
4. The sound of canning jars, popping to seal
5. A baby who's a good nurser
6. Chickens eating table scraps
7. The color of fresh peaches
8. The flavor of fresh peaches
9. The fact that fresh peaches have only about 37 calories each
10. Chester's homemade bread, extra crunchy after being forgotten in the toaster oven, and even yummier for it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thanksgiving 6-18-2010

I am thankful today for my husband who is so hardworking that he got up this morning, and, like every other morning, made breakfast for the family. Then drove us all an hour and a piece to go kill chickens. He killed the chickens himself, then also helped to skin and gut and quarter them. Afterward, he drove us all home, made supper for us, and took off again to mow the lawn of our other house. He didn't get home until about 10:00 from nothing but work today. What a work ethic.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The doll bed

Random happenings at the Davis household:

Matt builds a bed for his doll, whom he named "Jesus".

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eating Free

March 1
Cereal for breakfast. We would never buy cold cereal, it's free on WIC. So is the milk.

Oranges and grapes for snacks. Those were free.

Pasta and sauce for lunch. Both the pasta and the sauce were from Food Net.

Tomato soup for supper. Made with soup from Food Net, and milk from WIC. We ate it with crackers that weren't free.

March 2

Breakfast was spiced apple-nut bread. It wasn't free (but the apples were).

For lunch we had alphabet soup combined with tomato soup. That was entirely free too.

Unstuffed pepper skillet

3/4 lb. brown rice
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil (oops, that wasn't free)
1 lb. sausage (8 patties, broken up)
1 can spaghetti sauce
1 can corn

Cook brown rice in rice cooker. Fry onions and garlic in oil until soft and clear. Then add green pepper. When it's done, add in the meat and the rice. Pour spaghetti sauce over. Add corn. Warm through and season to taste.

This tastes like stuffed peppers, but is less of a pain to make. And it's our supper tonight. Very nearly completely free.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Selfish Sewing

I've become addicted lately to the Selfish Seamstress blog. For years I've wanted, even intended to sew for myself. But I was too scared to start -- knowing that what I made probably wouldn't fit me right, or wouldn't be made well, or wouldn't look good on me.....

But reading Selfish Seamstress's snarky blog has inspired me, and given me the guts to give it a go. I figure if she can tear out a seam a dozen times to redo it until it's right, why can't I?

First up was sewing knits. I love to wear knits, but they're supposed to be nigh impossible to sew. My machine, though, is an excellent old Bernina, and I was convinced that if I did it right, knits would work great in the machine.

I was right. After three attempts, I have a t-shirt that fits the way I want it to. (It's made out of an old, faded jersey-knit sheet that I love). The red ribbing is some red ribbed-knit that I have in my stash too. And it works great for ringers.

Even better, I have a t-shirt pattern that works! That way, I can modify it to make pretty much any sort of t-shirt I wish, and it'll fit, right? Tonight I tried a cowl neck, and it's okay. I'll probably wear it, in spite of the armhole-finishing being a bit off.

Sorry for the blurry pictures. I'm still fiddling with getting my timer and my camera set up in a way that works....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Roadkill Cafe

Last year, about this time, my workplace had a chili contest.

Not being one to shy away from some friendly competition, I entered. The requirement was a pot of chili and a table.

I didn't get good pictures of the final table, with the chili and all, but here's the best I got. Chester really did the decorating. We had a live-animal trap (with a stuffed kitten in it), a deer skull (with antlers intact), a couple of rust ol' bear-type traps, a rattlesnake on a stick, and all sorts of really gross stuff.

In addition to this, I had a old, dented spare tire sitting in front of the table. In the huge rusty bowl, I placed the crockpot of chili, to which I had added a few really large turkey bones so that they stuck out everywhere, and I wore greasy mechanic overalls to serve the chili.

While my chili wasn't anything special, I won for best decorated table.

Next week is the same contest for this year. I'm having troubles coming up with an idea for a cheap (i.e. free) table decor that has potential to top last year.

Friday, January 8, 2010

God's provision posts are moving

I've decided to move the "God's provision" posts to a sidebar via twitter. That way, it's not cluttered with posts that you probably don't really want to read, but I can still publicly express my appreciation to God for His providing for us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My $40 Christmas

Christmas 2009 was an especially lean season for us, in the financial sense. And not terribly fattening in the physical sense either, since we had the stomach flu.

Because of the lean funds, though, and because I wanted to, I made most of our Christmas presents. I was really proud of how almost everything turned out. I wish I had gotten pictures of them all.

But I thought I'd share what I made:

For the grandparents, photo rubik's cubes and marble magnets made from the kids art (I just cut circles for the backs of the marbles, and then let them draw tiny pictures on them). Both turned out really cute, but didn't get photographed. I got the cubes and the marbles for the magnets at the dollar store, printed my own photos for the cubes, and ordered 100 magnets for the back of the marbles from ebay, for about $4.60. Total was $7.60, which I'll round up to $8.00

For my side of the family the adults drew names and have a suggestion that we spend $15 on each other. (Which, in my opinion, is a LOT). For one sister,

I drew and framed a picture of her dog

made her sesame street characters out of yarn pom-poms

I think Oscar is my favorite.

and gave her a cute vintage mug and a large jar of homemade instant chai mix.

For the other, I painted a stencil portrait of my brother and his wife. It was my first time painting, and I wasn't very happy with my skills, so Chester fixed it for me, and it looks much better. (I got the canvas and paints on amazing sales at Michaels, so the painting cost under $5).

She also got a jar of chai mix, and a half-dozen marble magnets, printed with star-trek icons.

Total cost for my side was about $8. I felt guilty spending so little, especially when my sister spent $30 on me. I'm not sure how to deal with that. I stopped feeling guilty when I realized that the sister who spent $30 on me makes about double what I do, and supports one, not seven, person on that wage. Still, I hope they didn't find my gifts cheap. I worked pretty hard on them. Not everyone considers time expensive.

Chester's side drew names too, and the kids were included in that gift draw -- so it was seven gifts total. On that side, it's okay (even cool) to give gifts that you got an a garage sale or thrift store, and the limit is $5. Most of what I gave were indeed garage sale finds from last summer: A cereal dispenser, filled with cereal from food net was $5, a gumball machine, filled with cereal from food net, was $2.50. A brand new swiffer mop was from food net (yeah, they give away amazing stuff that doesn't sell), a set of walkie-talkies that had been given to us a few years ago, a set of doll paraphernalia from garage sales totalling about $3, a set of exacto knives in various shapes, that we bought from a going-out-of-business sale for $3, and a home-made apron (which was a lot of work and turned out really cute, and I wish I'd gotten a picture of) that the recipient had requested. And family gifts of home-made Keva blocks (Chester cut them from some maple wood flooring pieces that were too short to be used well, and they turned out really neat), and a game of Bongo from a garage sale for $2. Total $20.50.

We gave each of the kids gifts that we'd gotten from garage sales, or that were re-gifts. Bennet got some books of paper airplanes to make (free), Matt got a set of car props (buildings and roads and such for cars to drive on, free) Josephine got a set of wooden dolls with "clothes" to dress them ($1 at a garage sale), and Lisel got a tea set in a wicker basket (free).

In the kids stockings were the "useful" gifts - tights and belts, and a pair of homemade mittens. As well as apples and oranges that had been given to us. The total there was under $2.

I used swagbucks to get Chester a book that he requested. It was $20 on Amazon, so I also ordered a book for homeschooling next year to bring the total over $25 and take advantage of the free shipping.

At church, we gave away about 40 jars of home-made jam and jellies. Those cost about $.65 each to make (most of which is the jar. Not many people return them when they're finished).

So, about $39 on gifts and $26 on jams and jellies. Chester got me a gift too (a nice vegetable peeler). I haven't looked to see what he spent. This post is about what I spent. I really was hoping to spend under $50 total, but when I consider what I spent on jelly, I'm pretty happy with under seventy.

I felt like it was a really special Christmas to give people things that I had put a lot of heart and effort into, and I was pleased to also not go broke in the process. Handmade is really great! (So are garage sales!)

God's Provision, January 6

Today was Clothing Exchange. It's a local ministry that is open once a month with free clothes and stuff for anyone who cares to come and get it. The usually have 10-15 conference tables full of stuff for the taking.

I went looking for a green shirt and some pants, since mine aren't fitting as well as I'd like these days. I came back with:
seven shirts (not the green I was hoping for, but amazingly, all fit)
two skirts
one pair of pants that's nice and warm
two pair of mittens for the kids (YES!)
a few pairs of pants for Chester
two dresses and a swimsuit for the girls
two pairs of shoes for Bennet, and one pair for Matt
a high-quality, padded laptop case
and, just for fun, a genuine vintage little pair of shorts and shirt, that date back to when I was a kid. They're so cute.

Each of the kids pick out a few things for themselves, so they got new shirts, pajamas and a couple of toys too.

Thanks Lord, for ministries such as this!

Chester and the kids also all cleaned out their closets and dressers today, so we'll have lots of stuff to donate to clothing exchange next month!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

God's provision, January 5

A quick one today, it's after bedtime:

God provided today, fun in the snow, good times with friends, and

$12.85 from selling clothing my kids outgrew. None of which I actually bought.

Love how God does that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The New Year

It's resolution time, or at least reflection time. I'm not really so into resolutions - they seem to spawn anger in me (I fail, then blame someone else for my lack of success, and get angry). And I'm usually very much into reflection, but even that lately doesn't really float my boat. (I end up reflecting on the way I wish that things were, and blame someone else that my life isn't the way I wish it was, and get angry).

But I have noticed lately that some things in life just aren't working like they should. And there is, in every case, an easy solution.

I'm tired and crabby, I feel overwhelmed at all that I need to do and get nothing done. The solution I would like is to do less - just quit all these pesky duties like feeding my family and training up my children. The better, less convenient solution comes with the recognition my body needs exercise. It's too cold outside for that to be a nice walk, but I can tell that my body is screaming for it. So I'm starting to stretch and do a few sit-ups every morning. Every little bit helps, right?

I always fail at my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. And when I do read regularly, it seems to go in one ear and out the other -- ten minutes later, I have no idea what I read. The solution is to take is slower -- instead of the Bible in a year, just a chapter a day, and force myself to pay attention and write about it. That keeps me accountable to a greater measure.

Third, I've noticed that I'm ungrateful. God provides all these wonderful things for us, and I feel whiny and discontent. This doesn't please God, and it doesn't make for a happy home-life. The answer is kind of silly, but I think it'll work. I'm hoping to, for this entire year, keep a tally of the things God gives us free. Already, in the first four days of the year, I'm blown away.

Finally, I've noticed that I'm more centered, calmer, kinder and generally more sane when I take the time to write here. After a year of barely, if ever, writing, I'm hoping to be back. If you're unfortunate enough to read me here, then, well, you'll have more to put up with. (It probably won't be every day or anything). I'll be writing just to chronicle life and my thoughts, not putting tons of time into planning and editing posts like I once did. I don't have that kind of time or energy. I'm okay with that.

Welcome to the New Year of Our LORD!

God's provision, January 4

Today we received:

1 whole chicken
1 lb. package of chicken bratwurst
1 lb. pound beef
1 can orange juice
an entire case of bananas (what is that, 20 lbs or so? I feel a bunch of banana bread coming on)
a bag of Honey-nut Cheerios
a bag of strawberry flavored marshmallows
a bottle of gatorade
a box of macaroni and cheese (Kraft)
4 packs of strawberry flavored gummi fruit snacks
a can of hominy
a loaf of bread
two blueberry muffins

I had especially prayed for some chicken. It's been a while since we've had chicken and it really sounded good. Thanks God!

Oh, and banana bread for Sunday at church!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

God's provision, 1-3-2009

Gifts from God for today:

$20 gas money
160 diapers (yeah!)
snow pants, in the size I need for Matt right now
2 pairs of jeans, overalls and sweat pants in my size!
An Elmo costume (seriously? My kids will think this is SOOO cool!)
a tie
five hats
two wash cloths
a pair of slippers
a set of sheets, that I originally thought I'd cut up and make an apron for Bennet from, but now I'm thinking that may actually fit our bed.
60+ shirts
seven jackets
26 pairs of pants
seven pairs of shorts
and a few sets of pajamas

What's even better is that these clothes are for BOYS! My girls get handed down clothes all the time, but it's pretty rare to get boy hand-me-downs, and these are mostly in really excellent shape too! Thank you Lord!

The providence of God

Ive been thinking for a while now that it would be nice to keep some sort of a tally on the material things that God provides for us - without the use of money (i.e. at least somewhat free). So here is a start:

Yesterday, January 2, we received:
4 and a half gallons milk
6 yogurts
1 tomato
1 green pepper
1 doz eggs
2 - half pound blocks of cheese
cole slaw
4 lbs or so apples
half gallon chocolate milk
5 lbs red potatoes
2 - 64 oz juice
about 12 loaves of bread
2 pounds brown rice
2 boxes cereal

These all for just the price of the gas to go get them (a trip into town that we were making anyway, so it was a matter of a few blocks out of the way).

Now, should I just keep updating this post, or post every time God gives us something?

Thanks, God, for all the food yesterday!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Narrating Scripture

There's a common saying in Charlotte Mason circles that goes something like this:

"That which is not narrated is not remembered"

Narration is, in essence, summary of a text. When we read a story to a child as part of a lesson (in history, for example), they are required to pay close attention. The stories are short to allow this to take place. Afterwards, they repeat back as much as they can remember from the reading.

We've been doing this with our school-age kids for several months now, and I can verify that requiring a child to narrate after a story really does insure that they remember it. Not narrating doesn't guarantee that they don't remember, but not paying attention does. And if you're going to have to narrate after a story, well, you pay attention.

I've been having troubles lately with paying attention while I read my Bible. I always seem to be interrupted at least a dozen times, even if it only takes a few minutes. And if I'm not interrupted physically, I don't concentrate well.

So I decided that I needed to take scripture reading in small chunks, and narrate every single time I read.

Hence these updates recently. I read it once, paying careful attention because I know I have to write afterwards everything that I remember. It's definitely improved my reading and remembering already.

No, at this pace I won't get through the Bible in a year. I didn't last year either. But perhaps I'll retain a larger portion of what I read.

So that's the goal for here and now. Get in the habit of reading just one chapter a day. Write every day what I remember from the reading, so that I develop the habit of actually paying attention while I read. And grow from there.

In addition (because I can't really let anything just stay simple), I'm making a point to notice what God says about Himself in the Bible. What is His character?

These will be chronicled on Seeing God. Like I need another blog, I know. I so rarely write to this one.... (I have so many things started to post, I just need to actually do it).

You don't have to read it. It won't be especially interesting or anything. I'm just doing it to keep myself accountable.