Posts Tagged ‘heritage’

We’re thinking about food.  A little unsure what may be confiscated at the Canadian border, we’re trying to not be too attached to what we bring, but also want to be well equipped for miles of wild.  Chris (aka referred to as “Mom Chris” from here out; I’ve been blessed by many Mama’s in my life!) has cooked, shred and frozen 5+ pounds each of beef and pork.  I’m doing chicken and corned beef, maybe some lamb as well.  We’ll take dried beans and rice, herbs and spices, and hope to find veggies and fruits along the way.  I suspect I’ll have a lot to say about food as we travel.  Stay tuned!

All different forest animals on them for easy i.d. – look! a moose!

I’ll tell you something we did invest in: stainless 8-ounce stackable cups and silicone sippy lids!  We were blessed by a particularly ridiculously awesome sale that was irresistible.  Let me back up: With all of the other kids, we started them off on a My First Years plastic sippy lid.  They were interchangeable with Tupperware cups and were perfect.  We preferred the simple construction and ease of cleaning.  But apparently, now they’re “vintage” (insert rolling eyes here).  They’re a fortune on Etsy, and rarity on Ebay.  Realizing it’s time to branch out, yet resisting the modern sippy’s (I hate them), I went online shopping.  I wanted something that’s functional, multi-age-usable, organic’esque, and flexible.  Not just another container to play hair-pulling find-the-lid for.  These silicone lids fit the bill: They can slip onto just about any cup, including restaurant cups, etc… They’re BPA-free.  Frankly, they feel a little bit breast-esque, and I think Aury will love them.  The stainless cups stacked nice and tight, taking little space, and were slightly reminiscent of another childhood favorite: aluminum cups at Grandma’s — also expensive and hard to replicate at home.  And, well, aluminum.  No thanks.

Speaking of my Grandma… Several weeks ago my Grandpa had both a stroke and a heart attack, landing himself in a hospital then rehab.  Never having really spent time in the hospital, it sounds like it was quite the experience.  We were all glad to hear he was able to go home almost two weeks ago.  He built his house in the 1950’s with his own bare hands “in the middle of nowhere” (now five-ish blocks from the state university and smack dab in the center of a metropolis), and has raised all four of his daughters there from babe to now grandparents themselves.  Ever since I’ve known them, their house had an open door policy.  Every Sunday they made more food than they’d ever need, inviting any and all to partake.  I believe their influence in my life at an early age impacted a lot of who I am today, for which I’m thankful for.

Each summer when my mom and aunts were youth and still living at home, my Grandpa would load up a van and take the family and a group of students to Alaska, traveling the Alcan Highway, camping and living wild along the way and at their destination.  Being a teacher himself, he was able to spend quite a lot of the summertime exploring and teaching wild-living in a hands-on way.  I’ve heard many stories about these adventures (and many more!).  I know the memories made have been quite lasting on their girls.  It gets me excited knowing that several of our kids are at an age that experiences such as this hold and mold.  As much as I may resist the thought, it is likely one of our last big adventures with the olders.  Their lives are quickly advancing to independent interests and potential careers.  We cherish these times more than ever.  We also are incredibly proud of who they have become, and where they are heading: They have consistently made personal decisions to keep Christ their focus in all of it.  What they do beyond that is in His Hands.  We have no desire to shape that around what we would choose, be it keeping them at home forever (trust me, we’ve threatened it), etc…  I’ll share bits here of a rather convicting writing that our very dear friend Kurt Settles, now a pastor, penned:

Here’s what we don’t want: …we don’t want a son/daughter who is so dependent upon external support and validation that they can’t function independently, know right from wrong, be able to overcome obstacles and challenges, and be a generally useful member of their society.

treating them like they are the center of my world and this universe is a terrible tragedy.

…I am angry at parents who continue to raise generation after generation of immature, dependent, and fragile children.

…Christian parents need to stop worshipping their children and instead bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, raising them to be mature and able to function without the approval of man, seeking only the approval of God.

Though we value our time and understand our rather big responsibility of raising them (and adore them dearly, knowing that tho’ they are some of the most wonderful gifts this side of heaven), we realize that we serve a God who has a big picture.  We are simply a speck in it.  He has bigger plans than we ever could wish for our children (and ourselves!).  So as long as they follow Him, they will always be in the best place they could be.

Whoa, my entry about food sure took a different turn than planned!  I guess I just want to say that no matter how important all of these travel (life!) preparations are, and how well we try to execute them and retain their value, the every-moment-goal doesn’t change.  We intentionally sojourn as God followers with eternal-mindedness our goal for how we choose to use our today.  Our today is not a passing moment in anticipation of heavenly treasures but is an opportunity to intentionally share the gift we have been given to reflect Him instead of … well… anything else!

…magnificent though creation (everything we participate in) is, it is only a reflection of God’s glory.  It exists to reflect the ultimate declaration of glory, God Himself.  If we are blown away by the beauty of creation, how much more beautiful and awesome is God! – Andrew Scott

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Today is National Sibling Day.  True, every day is National Something-or-another Day, but this one was a great one, because I got to celebrate it with two of my siblings!

I so incredibly miss the ones I wasn’t with.  It’s been far too long since I got to hang out with them, and they’re gems to be treasured.  So this is for you, Charity, Robert, JR, Nicole, Marissa, Taylor, Emilee, Rachael, Bethanie, Tyler, Trevor, Toby, Tarence:



I can’t wait to see you again!  I love you so much, no matter the distance.

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gold rimmed mirror

Once upon a time when my mother in law (an avid bargain hunter) was here visiting, we happened upon an “estate sale” sign on our way up our long and winding road.  Unable to resist the urge, we turned down the lane, and landed ourselves on my most memorable sale ever, on Soaring Hawk Road.

Outside there was beautiful landscaping everywhere.  Clearly this lady was into her plants.  I already knew I liked her.

We picked up a set of 3 stacking shabby chic tables on our way in that was displayed for sale on the patio.  When we stepped into the house, a gold-trimmed mirror looked right back at us.  A few steps in, a half-round sage green table with flowers painted along the rim.  An awesome small golden table with glass top…  In the kitchen, an entire set of Le Creuset.  A Kitchen Aid.  A fabulous brand new black and red/orange tall lamp from Pier One Import.  Glass bottles with cork tops.  We scored the mother ship.  And for less than $100 for all of it.  My favorite furniture (and a lot of it!) in my home came from that sale.

table trio, gold rimmed green half moon table

stacking shabby chic tables, half round green table

I’ve always felt a close connection to that furniture.  Sure, it’s just sticks, glass, paint and fabric, but it’s warm to my heart still.  I remember the deceased woman had familiar and exotic herbs and spices, and her bookcases were full of familiar loves, many clearly dealing with fighting cancer sans Western medicine.  I loved this woman, and I never knew her.

It made me wonder what my estate sale will look like.  I’ve mentioned before that I fear it’ll be disastrous, as I’ve yet to label so many of my pantry’s jarred goods.  I know it’s just stuff, but I wonder if the ending of my life will impact someone as much as hers did me, a stranger.  I know it’s just stuff, but will it reflect my heart?

Fast forward 5+ years from that estate sale: Scott and I were dreaming about what a perfect place would look like to homestead: 5+ useable acres, timber & pasture, perimeter fencing, private but nearer to town, with a view worth never leaving, and with warm fuzzy feelings to the land.  I kid you not, the next weekened I went out – and with a slight addiction to hunting down houses for sale – I saw the sign.  It was for sale.  No way.

We couldn’t resist.  We called a friend of ours who happens to be a realtor, and checked it out that night.  The price was too high, the house too much work for us.  And we weren’t in the market at that point.  Slight hitch.

A lovely family started coming to our church shortly after, in the fall.  They lived outside of Portland, and were “buying a house in Woodland.”  You’ve got it: They have purchased the Soaring Hawk farm!  I was ecstatic!  It gets to “stay in the family” so to speak, and is in perfect hands.  Offering much lower than the asking price and being a contractor able to see through the work, they have moved onto the land and are working hard at getting the house on the up and up.  Isn’t that awesome?!

Just yesterday evening we got to spend the evening at their place with 2 other couples and all of our children.  20 kids twelve and under, no blood or broken bones, with abundant [loud] sounds of joy… That house has really filled back up, brimming with love!

glass topped side table

glass topped side table

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I started a blog entry sometime back about my Grandpa.  It’s been building and building as I’ve continued to learn so much about his past.  In a surprise turn of events, though, gears shifted and a spontaneous Ode to My Grandma is taking it’s place for now!

This came about because of a picture that was shared with me this week.  This one.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Tallis

Photo courtesy of Sarah Tallis – isn’t she lovely?!

Grandma just celebrated her 81st birthday.  Her and my grandfather have enjoyed pristine health up until just a few short years ago.  Now they battle some ailments, but have been blessed by a reasonably healthy life even now.  Who are we kidding, we are blessed by this!

I was born in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix.  My grandparents built their own home “in the middle of nowhere”, now blocks from ASU in Tempe.  I grew up seeing them as often as every day some weeks, living with them for short bouts along the way, until I was 8, when we moved to Washington State.

I watched my Grandma be the best hostess; every Sunday entertaining a big crowd for supper.  I watched her welcome her mother into her home when Alzheimer’s hit, carrying Mamaw’s through her final days.  I watched her stand beside my grandpa through the thick in thin.  I saw her carry burdens heavier than herself with a Christ-seeking and gentle heart.

A couple of years ago she wrote this song below, and I was lucky enough to catch it on the fly while she shared it.  Her and my grandfather used to sing duets often.  They have beautiful voices.  As they’ve aged and their bodies have tired, they use them less and less.  But their song carries on in their children and their children’s children.  Even their children!

remove all external distractions…  make me more like you…  may I be a blessing to others…  lead me to someone who needs your touch….  I am not on this earth just to serve myself…  

Happy birthday Grandma.  I selfishly hope you are here for years to come so I can glean from you, and so my kids can, too.  You are a beautiful woman, inside and out.  And, despite how often we call or visit, we’re watching you.  And your example in life has been noted.

By God’s grace, my grandparents have left a legacy bigger than money could ever provide.

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Last week I got a call from a girlfriend, Rachel, in Vancouver.  Her small backyard flock had a fellow amidst the hens who was starting to make some noise.  In Vancouver City Limits, you are not allowed to have a rooster, and so she put out the plea to re-home this fellow.  Not wanting to go on his ventures alone, she sent him along with a female friend.

We don’t usually adopt chickens at the farm, but Rachel was in a panic by Wednesday eve, and I was literally blocks from her home doing Locavore Deliveries.  So I went and picked them up.  And what a treat they have been ever since!  These sweet new birds are Icelandic chickens, a very old and very rare breed (only a few thousand live as conservancy efforts continue).

Our new roo'

Our new roo’

They have many survivor skills, and are very winter hardy.  They are very small birds, slightly larger than bantam chickens.  They lay white to light brown colored eggs.  They are docile in temperament, and will readily go broody.  We are excited to keep them separate in their own luxurious space so that we can incubate and expand our wee flock to continue the efforts of conserving this ancient bird.  Thanks Rachel – for the new adventure and sweet chickies!

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Early in February we drove down to Arizona.  The kids and I piled into the van and drove, taking it easy as we went.  We stopped a motel in Redding, then with cousins in Los Angeles the second night.  The short days made for an easy ride.  Flynn was fantastic the entire time, hardly complaining at all.  He seems to enjoy a good ride.

We stopped at the Olive Hut on the way down, after our nights stay in Redding.  We planned our whole drive down around this.  We’d stopped before a few years ago, having a picnic behind their shop, and really wanted to go back.  We picked up some garlic and jalapeno stuffed olives among other things, and snacked on them the entire trip.

On the last day of the drive, Colby started coughing and sniffing.  Uh oh.

We landed ourselves in Phoenix at my brother JR & Sarah’s apartment.  My bioDad, “Papa”, came down and picked up the three older kids and took them up to his place in Flagstaff so that Flynn and I could attend the AFBF Young Farmer Rancher Conference over the weekend.  Flynn ended up with a fever and cough for the majority of the conference, so we skipped out on any extra “fun” activities, getting him extra doses of rest when we could. He slept on me in his wrap most of the weekend.  We did, however, have a date at the Pita Jungle one afternoon, just the two of us.  It was lovely.

Come Monday, I was missing my bigger kids and drove up.  I left cooler (but still warm) Phoenix behind, and trudged through what was a huge snowstorm the day before in Flagstaff.  Funny the difference that 2 hours (and 4+ thousand feet in elevation) does to the roads.  By the time we reached Papa’s house, I switched from flips to tennis shoes and a snow coat, and headed in.  Flynn was about ready for bed, so Grandma Chris rocked him while we all piled into the jacuzzi.  The sky was clear, so we spent a good while contemplating the stars while bubbling away in the warm water.  The cold air was fantastic.  Even the icy walk back into the house wasn’t so bad!

The kids had all suffered a cold over the weekend, later passing it onto all of their Arizona cousins.  I feel so bad!  The good that came out of it was an electronic nose-sucker.  With no bulb syringes to be found at Walgreens, and having just heard from my step-sister how much she loved her battery-operated one for her babe, we got it.  And played for hours.  Yeah, we’re easily entertained like that.

Adyn moving the telescope.

Adyn moving the telescope.

The next day Papa took us to Lowell Observatory.  They were having a Mars and Pluto exhibit, starting with a video, then a tour of some of the telescopes – one particular being the one that Pluto was found through.  Pretty cool.

We shared meals with my brother Robert and his family, took a tour of Flagstaff Landscape Products (my brother owns and operates with lofty plans for future growth).  Heard all about the latest with his airplanes.  He’s a pilot now, and is hoping to fly my Grandpa Miller’s Bonanza soon.  All kinds of travel plans.  I told my kids that they could do anything that Papa said while in Flagstaff away from me except fly with Robert.  Ha!  In all reality, I’m so very proud of my older brothers.  They’re good men with sweet families.

Golfing with Sarah and the cousins

Golfing with Sarah and the cousins

When we got back to Phoenix, I finally took the kids on the long-promised Castles & Coasters.  I used to go there often when I was a kid, and by gum, there’s just no place like it here.  We mini golfed until the sun was going down.  It’s got some pretty rad nighttime lighting, but since it’s in a sketchy part of town, and it was just Sarah and I with 6 kids, we figured we’d mosey out.  It was Valentine’s Day, so us two single gals for the day figured we’d make the best of it.

My second childhood home, Grandma's house.

My second childhood home, Grandma’s house.

Over the next few days we went to my other grandparents’ house in Tempe a few times, explored my Grandpa’s shop, Bighorn Industrial.  He bought the place back in the day when there was little city.  Several years ago the city took a huge portion of it for a new freeway.  Imminent Domain gave my grandpa a lot of years fighting.  He still has a good amount of valuable land left there, as well as investments elsewhere.  The place didn’t even look recognizable.  I used to play at the “lot” all the time as a kid, and yet I can’t get my bearings on where it all was now.

::::I just Googled my Grandpa and have spent the last hour immersed in fascinating articles and information.  He is an amazing, amazing man with so many amazing stories — I’m going to have to put some of this together sometime to share!::::

Flynn and his great-grandma

Flynn and his great-grandma

My Grandma fixed us her famous Mexican Dinner one of the days, complete with tamales from their friend and chili relleno’s.  My godfather, Paul Boothe, joined us, as well as Mary Luth, a life-long family-friend, along with her husband.  We cherish the time we get to spend with all of them.

My godfather and sweet babe

My godfather Paul and my sweet babe

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We’ve spent the last week and a half with Eli, Zoey and their Mama and Daddy, Sarah & JR.  JR, my brother, was up here on business – the girls for pleasure.  The trip was extended to fit a bit of fun for everyone.  We hunkered down and hung around the farm mostly, tho’ did spend an evening at Big Al’s, and a day with us two Mama’s and all six kids shopping at Jantzen Beach.  That was a hoot.  Thank goodness for my Papa’s 8-passenger Suburban.  That, in fact, has come in handy more than once since we brought it home from Toppenish a few weeks ago.  We’ve had several snowy trips that 4-wheel-drive in a big rig has eased.  We’re sadly planning a February roadtrip to take it back to Arizona.  Sad because it’s been great to have, but happy because we get to spend a bit of time with all of our family down there!



Today the kids are back at their schoolwork.  Thursday we’re back to our weekly knitting circle.  It feels like such a long time since we’ve been!  I’ve knitted a few more hats since our last get together, and have been crocheting “mug warmers” for my Etsy shop.  I’m always pleasantly surprised how well they turn out using double-pointed needles.  A feat I thought impossible.

Speaking of making things at home to be proud of, I sewed a fantastic knitting needle case this past week — on my new Pfaff sewing machine!  My grandfather passed away earlier this year and left a bit of money to his children, who trickled a bit down to us.  Now, I don’t know if I’ve ever eluded to my opinion of inheritance, but since it was already in the bank, I wanted to use it in a special way.  So we opened savings accounts for our children, and invested in a quality sewing machine.  One that would be a workhorse, making special things, and reliable enough to pass along to our children if they choose to continue using it.  Now every time I sew I think about my grandparents, wondering what their life was like early on.  Thankful that despite the many negative things that Grandpa may have imparted to those around him, he is a part of what made me.  And he was always a fantastic grandpa.

Tri-fold interchangeable knitting needle case made by me.

Tri-fold interchangeable knitting needle case made by me.

I’ve got to take another moment to give kudos to my maternal grandparents.  They’re in Phoenix, and have spent the last few months moving my Aunt out of her 7000 square foot Victorian home.  She’s moving up to Forks, WA, and was unable to do the majority of the packing herself.  So my upper 70-something-year-old grandma took the task of going over to the old house daily, filling boxes and moving furniture.  They put the majority of the excess items that my Aunt couldn’t take into their warehouse in Tempe, awaiting Goodwill, a garage sale, and a trip to Washington.  I think it’d be a blast to do a garage sale while we’re down there in February!

It just blows me away how willing and able my grandparents have been to take on tasks that I think would be too big for me!  And they’re three times my age!  I’m really proud of them.  They set a great example for us.  I hope I’m never “too old” to help when needed, work hard when necessary, and bless others in a variety of ways.

“A blessing is when you receive what is not earned.  Otherwise it’s wages.” – Scott LaPierre

Yesterday morning at church our pastor said something to this effect (tho’ I know it’s misquoted – I lost my note that had it word for word), and it really gave me pause.  I think some people use the word “blessing” flippantly (pointing to self), sometimes not genuinely realizing the value it has.  A blessing is something I don’t deserve, nothing I earned in any way.  It’s not something that is owed to me, or some sort of payment.  I need to be more aware and thankful for the many special blessings – things I do not deserve! – that I receive.  I feel abundantly blessed.  What really (if I’m being honest) do I deserve?  Not this life.  I live so richly.  Even tho’ our wages are considered small.

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