Monday, December 29, 2008

More done than we've ever been

With the completion and installation of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, we are looking like we are nearing the end of our kitchen remodel journey. We just lack a few pieces of trim, which the boys worked on while we ate breakfast. Didn't bother to clean up before these shots...

As I have pointed out plenty of times, the sink is a demo model. It is so nice, but just has a small finished area of counter. So we raised that, as its supposed to be better for your back. I believe it is much better on the back. It would be nice to have a bit more counter by the sink, but we do have an "island" counter right behind it. Zak built these drawers on either side of the sink. Well, I guess he built it all, but building drawers seemed like such a mystery to me...

Solomon attaching trim to the corner display shelves. Looked much more "finished" after that was on.

Here you can see the new floor they put in, just hours before Joshie was born. More drawers...

We decided to leave this section doorless, more of a display, as it is kinda higher. Zak did put trim on the edges of the shelves, so it looks really good now.

The microwave/hood required some extra electrical work, which Ben was able to do sucessfully. We figured that would be a eye-catching feature for potential buyers when they enter, since the kitchen is the first room you see.

We have learned alot through this whole project, LOTS of mistakes and do-overs and changes mid-stream. Now when we look at odd features of the house, we are a little more understanding and sympathetic! We still are dealing with a leak under the sink, which was what we started with. That is not to complain, but just to make it clear, they are still learning lots. We are really excited about what they were able to do, and ESPECIALLY for God's protection while they did it!

Everyone is more appreciative of what goes into such a project.

We'll post better pictures later, as we need to do them for our realtor.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Joshie hits the big 0-4!

When he's not gumming his fists or drooling, he enjoys playing with his toes and rolling over. Giggling, cooing and chatting takes up a good part of his day. Most any attention generates a smile. There has probably never been a baby who has been kissed this much by four months of age. We are so thankful for this little boy!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Heat wave!

Today, we are having something new: above freezing temps! For the next 48 hours, we will be doing some major thawing around here. So, in addition to playing, we need to groom our walks and clean up the duck pen. Dave helped transport some fresh hay to the duck pen.

Susanna made this baby snow man for Joshie. It has a baby carrot nose. Giddy was determined to tell us all that he kissed this snow-baby, just as he kisses Joshie every day. Up until now, efforts for snowmanship have been in vain, as it was dry and stuck together like salt crystals. But today, you could create the traditional snow man, or in our case, the traditional Ramahuma...

This fall, we decided it would be smart to run electricity out to the driveway so we could plug in the bus without needing a bunch of extension cords connecting to the shop. So we dug and laid cable and then Dave, who is a genius in his spare time, said "Hey, what about putting in a lamp post?" Wow. Did we need a lamp post! So, we did so, and have been so thankful for this much needed light in our otherwise dark driveway! It had really been difficult and even dangerous without it.

Ben wired the light and it has a sensor so it automatically goes on at night.

We played into twilight, and Hannah and I chipped away at the compacted snow on our path, which is turning to slush. We are expecting freezing temps Saturday night, so any standing water will turn to sheet ice.

Joshua was out surveying the snowy backyard. This was his first leisure time in the snow. At 4 months tomorrow, he felt it was brisk. We suited him up in one of his two snow suits. Wish they made something this cozy for parents!

He was really fascinated by all the frosty scenery! He's so sweet! Thank you Lord Jesus for this new blessing!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hand-me-downs & new blankie

Here is Joshua (3.5 mos) wearing an outfit that we received when our oldest was still in the tummy! It was a baby shower gift from Auntie Dawnel - 1988 or 89, I believe!

Here's the tail -- so cute!

Here's Joshie kicking back on his custom-made, baby blankie from Grandma Penny! All of our 13 have been blessed with their own, handmade baby blankies!

Can't think of a caption for this one....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seek first the kingdom!

Here are the little guys with their notebooks in our master bedroom/school room.

It has been another day of learning as we teach....praise the Lord!

Today, I had to pay our phone bill and renew AAA, so I did speaker phone and had Sammy and Gideon listen in. If they aren't occupied and supervised when I'm on the phone, they usually get into trouble or at least make a mess. So I included them and explained what I was doing beforehand. I showed them my bank card and explained the "address" (account number) and how they all communicated and stuff, whatever seemed to include the needed details.

When I called the phone company, it was all automated, pressing numbers. They loved that. I told them how I was talking to their computer, etc. AAA was a little trickier, as they have a menu system where you can "say or press 1". Background noise, such as little voices, really messes that up. But they were completely silent, very interested, so it was a breeze!

So, rather than having them idle while I was making phone calls, I included them....duh! That is much better. It's like God makes it so that the more you INCLUDE your children in real life, the less they get into trouble AND you teach them at the SAME TIME.

This morning, we did more reading in the book of Joshua, because Joshie is named Joshua. We did a quick review of how Joshua took over when Moses died.

Yesterday, we talked about when God tells Joshua, regarding the laws He gave to Moses, "...turn not from it to the right hand or to the left..." (Josh 1:7) So we talked about right and left hand, and what that expression meant (stay straight on God's marked out path). In their notebooks, we traced their right and left hands and I wrote that part of the verse out for Sammy to trace.

Today, we talked about the next half of that verse, but first, got into right and left versus north and south and east and west. For example, if you tell someone to turn left, it depends on which way they are headed. Kind of a complicated concept. We drew a map of our house (in which our table could be seen, so he could really orient himself!), including Walmart (of course). Then we took that map, drew the compass points, and oriented it on a map of Wisconsin!

(We also talked about words that sound the same but may be spelled different. To illustrate, we made the sentence "Orville Wright can write with his right hand.")

The discerning reader will notice that my map drawing is "upside down". Our house faces south, so its easier to make a map understandable as we sit at the table (which I drew!). However, to make it fit with the Wisconsin map, we had to flip the map. So we did that. So he is learning that right and left isn't always the best way to give directions.

Anyway, he is still soaking it in, and I keep looking for things he can grasp to explain it. He knows, for example, that the sun goes down in the west. He also knows, from our summer of eating supper outside, which side of our property on which the sun sets, which is west. Also, he knows that most people eat with their right hand (if you look at above picture, the drivers are both holding a fork in their RIGHT hands, to illustrate that we drive on the RIGHT side of the road!). Boy, kids can LEARN so much!

So, after that, we talked about the second part of that verse, "...that thou mayest prosper whiterhsoever thou goest" (Joshua 1:7). Combined with "...turn not from it to the right hand or to the left...", it makes a good illustration of a familiar verse, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6:33) Joshua's success in the promised land was really a result of him staying true to God's Word! That is so backwards from the world's way of thinking!

It's out of what is in our hearts, not what skills we have, that bring about what we need. What we do and say comes as a result of what is in our hearts. And God tells us what that should be,
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way properous, and then thou shalt have good success." (Joshua 1:8, which we got to today)

We have been working with the older kids over the years, trying to get them to take opportunities to teach their siblings as they work with them. Bekah got the bug the other day, and made up this chart for her little brothers. She was waiting for her turn for a bath. She is now copying the Bible in Exodus 17 (and she has started over plenty of times!). She says she found a geneology from Levi to Moses earlier, and her mind just started working....

If you click on the picture, you can make out more details. (Her notes in the far left margin are the Seven C's of history which she got from a Buddy Davis song.)

What is so encouraging to us is that she is sometimes one of the kids most likely to get distracted during Bible copy time! Yet, this method is so effective, that she is not mindlessly copying, but getting valuable information.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Snow storm!

We bring you this update from the National Weather Service. It is snowing and very cold. Please do not travel or go outside, unless your ducklings are hungry. Carry lots of corn in case of emergency. Thank you.

We are in the midst of our first big snow storm of the winter. We already had snow on the ground, and have had no temps above freezing (during the day) for about a week. Winter has really set in, and all the rivers are freezing up earlier than normal. That can change, as there is often mid-winter thaws here and there. But just to be on the safe side, we are shoveling a littler further off the driveway to make room for more snow.

Susanna battles the drudgery and makes the best of a chilling situation.

Check out that layer of snow on the duck house roof!

Not unlike the Kleins, the parent-ducks hang out in their cozy house...

...while the offspring go and frolic in the flakes!

The ducks are doing fine. The cold doesn't seem to ruffle any feathers. Ha ha.

The big kids report that they are shoveling this homogenized mixture of snow, sand, salt, and ice to form a replica of the real Mount Sinai!

Behind every good bus, there's a young lady who clears the snow so you can load through the back door. Here's Sarah!

Sammy is enjoying his new hat, 98c at the thrift store, ear flaps, fuzzy interior, sturdy snap.

Hannah, Solomon, Zak and Ben. Ben has finished shoveling off the perimeter of the roof (for now) and is joining the driveway clearing team.

Bekah is a hard working girl! We had to pry the shovel out of her hands and persuade her to come inside for eggs and pumpkin bread and cocoa!

Giddy happily moves a lot of snow, but he is not very strategic about it.

The Amish still hang their clothes on the line in the freezing temperatures. It freezes on the line and then they bring it in and dry it the rest of the way inside. Really would cut our electric bill, but I don't know if we'll do that. But we did get these wonderful clothes driers at the Amish store; they are our chandeliers this time of year.

These re-vamped former wall shelves fill a big need in our front porch! I finally broke down and bought a boot dryer -- it seems to work great!

Ben sets up another pot of coffee for the shoveling team.

Solomon sits down for a good breakfast! Abi scrambled a few dozen eggs, and Hannah made us pumpkin bread last night.

As I type, all the work we did has been covered in a couple more inches of snow! Time to suit up again!!

Joshie is 3 months old!

...and then some! He is looking to be a thumbsucker, like eleven of his older siblings. He chuckles and smiles and tries to sit up. Last night during our family prayer time, I peeked and saw him turn his head to see whoever was praying out loud!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A little fellowship in Little Chute

Last weekend, we enjoyed a few days near Appleton, where our dear friends at the Fox Valley Bible Chapel hosted Mike Attwood. Dave has enjoyed listening to Mike's teaching on Voices for Christ, and last year, learned he was going to be speaking here in Wisconsin. So our first visit was last winter, in that cold, old bus!

Mike is originally from England, but that's not the only reason we enjoy listening to him, honest!

Here's Mike with Dave and some of the young men. On Friday, Mike gave a message to the youth, to which Dave took our top six.

Once again we were hosted by our friends, the Morells.

We first met the Morells last year, when we stayed with them for Mike's visit last November. We all hit it off right from the start, which seemed to set them at ease, since we outnumber them. They have six sweet children.

Here are all the Klein girls and Morell girls...

And here are the young men, sans Gideon, who was busy defying gravity or something...

We all enjoy meeting with the folks at the assembly here, especially Joshie, as he is currently the only baby there!

There was a thought-provoking meeting on Friday meeting for the youth on the meaning of holiness. The rest of the weekend was dealing with the Levitical offerings and how they illustrate or foreshadow the life and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. Wish we could have stayed for Sunday, but they are good at posting audio of meetings. So we can listen later.

Here are Zak and Joel Morell (also 19) , enjoying the visit with Mike. Mike has 5 children, and the oldest is about 23. It looks like Zak and Joel are smiling about his accent, but I'm sure they really aren't.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Joshie flies!

Here we are at the airport in Madison, waiting for our flight to Denver! I asked a fellow passenger to snap this on our cell phone.

Only had to run 40 gates at Denver to make our connection...with two carry-ons, plus Joshie. He did so good on all the flights there and back.

This is Linn and me, with Puget Sound behind us at sunset.

Joshie and I took a trip to Seattle to see our dear friend, Linn Dappen. I was very thankful for the special time and for Dave twisting my arm to set a date and go for it. Somehow, everyone survived in my absence -- with only two black eyes (out of a possible 24 eyes, that is not too bad!).

Linn and her family have been working in Mexico as missionaries for over 30 years. This is Linn's first visit with her dear mom since Linn's husband, Art, went to be with the Lord two years ago, and she had not seen her mom for five years. We met her mom, Grandma B, when we traveled to Washington for Art's memorial service in 2006.

Mary Ann is such a dear, dear lady! If you ever meet her, you'll call her Grandma B too! She is full of 87 years of life! While I was there, we learned her doctor found an aneurysm in her aorta. The specialist said he cannot operate. Grandma B is a very vital part of the family, very much a support for everyone. She has such contagious hope and frequently claims Romans 8:28 for everything that comes up in life, good or bad. She continues to plow ahead with projects she would like to complete...but heaven is definately her aspiration. She is very loved by all who know her.

Linn's daughter, Sarah, and her family of 8 children, also live in Washington. They are a very sweet and fun family. Our family instantly clicked with them during our visit in 2006.

Jim and Sarah's children filled in as temporary siblings for Joshie. Joshie got a little stressed out by the peace and quiet of Grandma B's house, so our visit at the Colemans brought back a sense of "normalcy"!

We continue to pray for Linn and her family as they face many decisions and seek to minister. God has used them tremendously, and they have been an incredible encouragement to us! Joshua Arthur is named for Art.

We are not ducks

Well, today, the little boys (Sammy, Gideon, and Joshie) were having our morning school time, and we were reading Proverbs 4. Our older kids, for many years, have tried reading a chapter of Proverbs a day (as it has 31 chapters). We haven't done that with our little guys, but today, that is what we read.

Anyway, in introducing Proverbs to the boys, I pointed out how Proverbs was really written to children (especially sons), and how children need so much teaching from their parents.

Our ducklings, when they hatched, needed NO instruction. They are wired to stick near their mommy, with no need for reminders. But children (at least once they become conscious of themselves and have some mobility) do need instruction. Especially when they are young.

God did not give ducks the Bible. They don't have need for it. But God gave us the Bible, because we need it.


For our Bible timeline reading, we have gotten through the Tabernacle, the layout of the camp of Israel (around the Tabernacle), the Levites' "chore packs", and the rules for Nazarites. We have a notebook for this time, and we write down things that seem good to remember out of our lesson. We mapped the camp layouts, learning about north, south, east and west, the compass, and discussing which directions various friends live in (north is Rhinelander, south is Mexico and Texas, west is California and the Hansen family, east is the Amish community where we do a lot of shopping).

Since Sammy is learning to read, we pick out certain words and learn about letter sounds. We did ox and oxen, and then fox, lox, pox, etc. Sammy is not reading through the text, but I read it and pause to define things. So, he is always learning and he is learning to LISTEN to what I read. Gideon is too. He really got into the laws for the Nazarites. What an awesome "early childhood education" the Bible is!

Anyway, the subject of oxen came up, because the princes of the twelve tribes all brought gifts of covered wagons and oxen. There were twelve princes, and one ox given by each prince, and two princes gave a wagon each. So this was a good math lesson for the boys.

We also had to explain how you have "one ox and two oxen". But then you have foxes and boxes. English is such a mess! So, we discussed how it was the result of the Tower of Babel!

We are seeing how we cannot "teach it all", but we can "always be teaching". There is just so much to teach our children, and we really can do it all day long. A classroom is one method, but it is so artificial. Ben even showed me an ad in a (Christian) magazine that said "Where life and the classroom meet." (College!)

Anyway, we have learned that we don't really have to make the Bible exciting and entertaining. Kids will learn to love what we love. The little boys always ask to have "school" and they know it's the Bible and they are ready to hear what it's got for them for the day. They never ask for pictures or puppets or videos. (I don't have to use any of the techniques I needed when teaching children's church classes for 10 years.)

Sammy has a large print Bible, and I took post it notes and made printed titles and icons for different stories, so he can find the page for "Time line" or "Jonah" or "Noah" or the story of "Samuel", etc. So he's learning his way around the Bible in more ways than one.

The notebook has simple pictures that jog his memory about things we have covered. Noah (7) and Susanna (almost 9) had been doing Bible copy during this time I work with the little boys, but they are now included in the Bible lesson with Sammy and Giddy, and they are starting their own notebook. Zak stuck up a scrap of white board in my bedroom, so I can make the illustration and they can all copy it in their notebooks.

Anyway, we are enjoying our time with teaching our little ones. We are always learning!