Referral-versary #4

Four years ago today we saw the face of our little Moonbeam for the first time. It was on the computer screen, but that didn’t bother us. After SIX years of waiting, we finally got a glimpse our little girl. What a great day that was!!!

I remember the details pretty clearly. The phone call came as we were eating breakfast. Then we waited, somewhat impatiently, for the pictures to come via email. The social worker sent the paperwork in the attachments but no picture. What???? She tried again. There was our Moonbeam!

We spent the remainder of the morning on the telephone with our family members. Some were at home. Another was at a meeting. One was at school, and another was out shopping. Those are special moments to share with loved ones.

We also shared the news with some of our church family that day. They cried. They laughed. All sorts of emotions were experienced.

Throughout the long years of waiting, so many people had waited along with us. I know that I could not have endured it except for the love and care of my family and friends.

And, now, we get to share every day with our Moonbeam. She is loved by so many, and she brings such joy to us. We still have a lot to learn about each other. (Will that ever end?) Best of all, OUR Moonbeam is a baptized child of God and knows Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

As is our yearly tradition, we shall celebrate properly tonight with root beer floats.

Clothing Transition

The cooler fall temperatures are upon us. It’s the time of year where you start off with long pants and a jacket in the morning. By mid-day you take off the jacket and might even switch to shorts. By late afternoon, the sun is disappearing, and you put the warmer clothes on once again.

This all means that I need to cull clothes. The spring/summer pieces that won’t fit next year get boxed up. The next sizes are brought into the house and fitted on the kids. The process takes a few days.

While I like the changing of the seasons, I don’t particularly enjoy sifting through all of the clothing. This year, I’m hoping to downsize some of the clothes and open up some space for other things (or nothing).

Soon the heavy jackets will be out. After that come the snow boots and snow gear. I can wait a while for that to happen.

So, for now, I return to the bedroom and continue to sort clothing.

Keeping On

After a fun weekend in my college town and hanging out with my brother, this past week was back to our regular routine. We’re still figuring that out. Moonbeam (just turned 5) wants to read, so we’re working on that in small doses. Rocket (almost 3 1/2) wants to do school, so we get out the crayons and work on proper grip of the utensil. He has also taken an interest in cutting, so I decided to be pro-active and help the boy before disaster befalls his sisters. Sweetpea plows ahead with her studies; more of them can be done independently. However, there are still subjects that bring us together, and I am enjoying that. I’ve also made time to read aloud to the munchkins; now I need to figure out when I can still do that with Sweetpea.

The tomatoes have FINALLY slowed down. Can you hear the sighs of relief? The garden is basically done. The raspberries, though, decided to yield abundant fruit! We made raspberry muffins and are going to try a raspberry coffeecake next. I suppose raspberry jam will fall into the mix eventually.

So, for now, we’ll just keep going.

Play Is Natural

One last post on my weekend adventures…  Deborah took me to see Lloyd and Lauren as they were working big-time to move everything from one child development center to the new child development center. We saw Lauren on Friday night, and she was working like a mad woman — all with a smile on her face. Sweetpea took my picture with my two favorite altos from choir.img_7316On Saturday morning we ventured back to see the playground in the daylight. There’s Lloyd in the background, scurrying from place to place. Sweetpea is standing by the sandbox. Is this not cool????img_7318This is the long-shot of the playground. Lots of tree stumps and even more mulch were brought in for the kids. On the far left you can see a huge hill for the kids to climb.img_7319These stumps were piled together to resemble steps. With open-ended apparatus like this, the opportunities for imaginary play are numerous.img_7320I can hear you asking: What’s inside those plastic things? Behold, more open-ended play things. The kids can use these however they wish.img_7321The biggest item to this playground is the tunnel. It’s actually several huge planters that have been turned on their sides. The children will be able to walk and run through it and climb on the top, which has been covered in dirt. It’s genius, I say! The toddler playground also has a little hill, just for them. (In case you were wondering, this is fashioned after the Emilio Reggio approach to early childhood education. You can look it up, if you wish.)img_7322And then our tour was over. I’m so glad we stopped to check it out.img_7324Thanks, Lloyd and Lauren! (Deborah, our itinerary was perfect. Thank you!)img_7323

Brotchen with DAD

Whilst I was in college, I was blessed to be part of the A Cappella Choir. DAD Martens was the director, and on Saturday mornings he made brotchen. Brotchen is a hard roll, and it usually accompanies meals. While on choir tour in Germany, we would be served brotchen in the middle of the afternoon.

One week ago today, Deborah, Sweetpea, and I ventured over to Dad’s house for brotchen (always at 10:00). Even though he has been retired for a number of years, there is a standing invitation on Saturday mornings. Dad got up at 3:45 to start this batch. His starter dough is 10 years old; that’s young, considering the starter batch before it was 40 years old.img_7326Cut the brotchen in half. Add whatever you like: cheese, sausage, honey, jam.img_7325My favorite topping: Nutella. I tasted it first in Germany and have loved it ever since. Can you spot the nutella in the picture below?img_7328Mom and Dad Martens have opened their hearts to so many college kids, and many of them return with their own families now. Mom and Dad taught ESL classes to many people, and those have become like family, too. In this picture, we were visiting with a family from Cameroon.
img_7329 It was finally time to go. Dad will be 88 in November, and he hopes to continue making and hosting brotchen until he’s 90.img_7330We love you, Dad Martens! Tschuss!img_7332P.S. Thanks for a great weekend, Deborah!!!!IMG_7333.JPG

When the Uncle Comes to Town

Since there was some serious volleyball to be watched, we invited my brother to spend the remainder of the weekend with us. He did!!! And we loved having him here. (I loved being able to cook for him.) He was able to see Moonbeam open some of her birthday presents.img_7336He was here to encourage Rocket as he went to Sunday School for the first time. (It was a pretty big moment for the little guy.)img_7337We played games. Duck, Duck, Goose quickly moved to Drop the Hankie. Sweetpea didn’t run quickly enough, so Uncle Kirk got her….while he was still seated!img_7342There were good-night hugs to give. I think wrestling is more the thought here.img_7338The time with the uncle passed all too quickly, and then he had to leave. Come again, Uncle Kirk!

Deal of the Day

My husband stopped at the big library today to pick up some books for Sweetpea’s writing project. He found this!!!

It’s 12 volumes of My First Brittanica. (The 13th volume is the reference guide and index.) Amazon listed it for $58.45. He paid just $5.38 for it. That is a purchase we can handle. Moonbeam (age 5) paged through one of the books and loved it. This set will be another welcome addition to our home library.

Score one for the principal. Or should I say 13?

Go Big Red

The Husker women were playing in a volleyball tournament at Lincoln last weekend, and a dear lady offered her tickets to us for both matches as she was unable to attend. Well, I jumped on that offer. Sweetpea was pretty excited to see the 4th national championship trophy. We got to see that team play in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the tournament last fall when they were on their way to the title.IMG_7313The game was great! Our seats were up in the nosebleed section, but we never sat there. We got bumped twice and finally settled into some vacant VIP seats for the remainder of the match. After the game, we saw the coach giving a post-match interview. A picture was quite necessary.IMG_7315The following day my brother made the trek up to Lincoln. He and Sweetpea took in the afternoon match. I love these two pictures that he captured. There truly is no place like Nebraska.20160903_134135My brother is also the Ace like Nebraska.20160903_134150

She’s 5 Now!

Last week our Moonbeam celebrated her 5th birthday. How is that even possible? We decided to celebrate with a trip to the zoo, and the day was a great one for her. She got to ride the carousel, not once but twice.IMG_7296For her birthday treat, she requested white cupcakes with chocolate ice cream. When asked what she wanted on the top of her cupcakes, Moonbeam replied, “A pumpkin.” Nothing more, simply a pumpkin. I can do that.IMG_7301We had our little birthday party in the back of the van and ate cupcakes and ice cream first, so that the ice cream didn’t get any softer. Everybody liked that idea. Then came time for presents. IMG_7304Moonbeam wanted her picture taken with the giraffes, and I’m quite pleased with the way this one turned out.IMG_7306However, we got even closer to one of the giraffes as there was a giraffe feeding station. For $3, you can purchase a huge lettuce leaf and feed a giraffe. For free, you can watch up close as other people pay $3 and watch them feed the giraffe. We chose FREE.IMG_7308Finally, we took a kid picture.IMG_7291Happy Birthday, Moonbeam! You are one of God’s very excellent gifts to our family!

Gone Fishin’

My husband’s family gets together for a few days every summer at a Lutheran camp, which is located on a lake. We took the kids fishing this year, and they loved it. The fish were really biting well. At one point, four of the kids had a fish on at the same time. That has never happened.

Moonbeam caught the first fish!IMG_7233Then Sweetpea caught a fish. Moonbeam noted, “That’s not a very big one.”IMG_7238Even Rocket got in on the action, although he could have done with more snacks than fishing. In time, he’ll catch on.IMG_7239

A Pie of Another Kind

The church’s 30th annual homemade pie and homemade ice cream social takes place tomorrow afternoon. Last night a group of about 20 of us made 30 gallons’ worth of homemade ice cream. (Shhh – don’t tell the health officials.)

I signed up to make two coconut cream pies. There will be about 50 pies available for your eating pleasure. Those include: peach, apple, rhubarb, pecan, raisin, raisin cream, lemon meringue, pumpkin, sugar-free apple, brownies, angel food cake, blueberry, and probably a few others as well.

IMG_7221Our dinner discussion today will involve the selection of pie for tomorrow. Maybe we’ll have to go twice as there are so many different pies from which to select.

I believe that my favorite is peach pie. Coconut cream is another winner in my book. What’s your favorite pie?

Friday Night – Pizza Night

Here in our little home we eat pizza on Friday nights. It’s not the cardboard box kind, though. We make our own. My bread machine has a pizza dough recipe, and we’ve been using it for years. The recipe cranks out enough for two pie crusts. Up to now, one crust has been enough, but I suspect that we’ll be using both crusts in the not-too-distant future.

IMG_7207The tomatoes are ripe, and the basil smells lovely. Our summer favorite is tomato-basil pizza. Yummy!!IMG_7208Tomato – Basil Pizza

Roll out pizza dough. Drizzle olive oil on dough. Add sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Layer fresh basil leaves (lots of them as they shrink). Add garlic. Top it all with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

The Big Reveal

You’ve waited long enough. This spring the voters’ assembly approved some improvements to the parsonage. They decided to purchase new floors for the kitchen and dining areas, the laundry room, the front entryway, and the two bathrooms. They also approved new carpet for the master bedroom and the living room area. The only rooms in the house that did not get new flooring were the two kids’ bedrooms. The carpet wasn’t quite as worn.

Here are some pictures from the project. First came the preparatory work. I give a huge THANK YOU to the volunteers that came and helped move furniture, rip up carpet, pull staples, run the shop-vac, move furniture again, remove appliances, put furniture back in place, install toilets, and hook up appliances. The job was monstrous, and we could not have done this without them. Seriously. (I’m too delicate for some of that work.)

Members of our church brought their tools and muscles and went straight to work on Monday evening. They worked quickly, didn’t drop the piano, and finished in less than two hours. I served food, and tummies were happy. For the longest time, I could not figure out where my stove had gone. Turns out, it had been moved to the garage. What pictures don’t show you are the kids’ bedrooms. There was no walking space as we put everything possible in there and still had to move things into the garage.

[And, yes, during this time, the dryer still wasn’t working.]

The installer showed up on Tuesday morning and went straight to work. First he did the kitchen, dining room, laundry, and entryway floors. That was completed by the end of Wednesday. On Wednesday evening, we moved all of the furniture onto the hard floor so that he could lay the carpet pad and the carpet.IMG_7064 The bathrooms were tiled on Thursday. Then the carpeting was installed on Friday and finished on Saturday afternoon.

Where did we eat during that time? Thankfully we could use the church kitchen for our meals. We stored our cold food in the refrigerator and freezer over there. We could use the sinks and restrooms. (Showers were hard to come by as the water was disconnected. Remember… we removed the toilets.) We did, at the invitation of friends, shower at someone’s home. I think perhaps that the body odor was wafting their direction, and it was not so pleasant. Some friends kept the kids for us for a day so that we could paint and put some things back in place. That was a big sanity-saver, too.

Where did we sleep during that time? The kids’ rooms were packed with doors and drawers and chairs. Our bed was taken down. Kind members loaned us their camper for the week. We slept in it from Monday night through Friday night. The kids loved it as there were triple bunks, which were perfect for our three kids. Another super family brought a bag of “camper snacks.” This would include some yummies: puppy chow and ranch chex mix. That made camping much more fun.

Finally, late Saturday afternoon, we could start to put our house back in order. Help arrived again, and they did a superb job. We all slept in the house again and could walk on the floors and new carpet. We kept walking through the house saying, “It’s so big!”

One week later we hosted an open house so that the church members could see what they had purchased for the parsonage. Many were pleased at the improvements. The volunteers were especially impressed by the big changes.

[And, finally, the dryer was fixed.]

So, now, here are the BEFORE and AFTER pictures.


This house is 25 years old. We’ve lived here for sixteen sweet years, and it’s like a brand new home for us. We washed all of the trim work, painted the ceilings and the walls, de-cluttered, and reorganized so many different spaces. Rugs have been washed, and cabinets have been cleaned out. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve done spring and fall cleaning already. We are now trying to decide what REALLY needs to come back into the house and what can stay packed in a box or be gently disposed of elsewhere. We also know that we are going to remove our shoes before walking across the floor and carpets.

There you have it. (Now, Mom and Dad (and other family members), just in the case the house isn’t “picked up” when you come, you’ll know that…once upon a time…. it was.)

5 Gallons

Today I’m defrosting the deep-freeze. It had a fair amount of ice that had collected on the shelves, so it was time.

Little did I know that I would collect enough melted ice to fill a 5-gallon bucket!!!

Think of how much more I can store in my freezer now. Rabbit? Despite the fact that El Husbando has been successful in knocking them off, we will not be serving hasenpfeffer.


Today is our 18th wedding anniversary!

DSC_2176I searched the digital files for a picture of me with Mr. Wonderful and had to go all the way back to August of last year. (Don’t we look young?) Apparently we document the growth of our children over selfies of our graying hairs.

After eighteen years of life in Christ, I’d still choose this guy. He blesses me in numerous ways, and he is very forgiving of my many faults. God has indeed been gracious to us.