Monday, 26 March 2012

Testimony time

Well, I missed my chance to testify at church tonight, but I do want to publicly give thanks to God for keeping me.

At church there is a gas meter in the parking lot, which has been surrounded by railroad ties and landscape timbers to keep people from running into it. We usually park next to this enclosure. This morning we were a little close, and when I put Elijah in the van after church and went to get into my seat, I stepped on top of a railroad tie. It rolled out from underneath my foot; I grasped at air and fell on my bad hip, hitting my head against the gas line. I suppose it would have been easy for me to have suffered a concussion; at least I could have sprained my ankle. But I got up and walked away with only a bruise on the top of my foot. So I am thankful for my well-being.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

March (Right?)

I am very tired. My first thought for the date was February,but that can't be right because we've already planted some garden. hmmm.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that we finally got a price on our 1/2 beef that we are buying from a guy at church, so we went ahead and bought a vanity for our master bathroom. Remember that project? We opted for a small vanity, so we still have room to turn around, and got a medicine cabinet mirror to put our stuff instead of the drawers in the larger vanity. Bob set it up today, but hasn't hooked up the water yet. Looks nice. I am excited about having my own space to wash up and brush my teeth.

The beef? Should come to something like $1.50 per pound, and that includes T-bones, ribs, and Ribeye steak. For Grass-fed beef, which demands a premium in certain markets, when 80% lean ground beef at the store costs at least $2.79 per pound. I'm pretty excited about that. With the cheap chicken from the Tyson store ($28 for 20 lbs), we should be able to eat even more meat than before. It's easier to fix meat without sugar than it is bread. ;-)

Though I must say, that tart the other morning.... Rolled out a pie crust, topped with a mix of cream cheese, egg, vanilla, and just a touch of honey, then topped that with peaches canned in 100% juice, and a few slices of pie crust on top... It was VERY nice.

Our sweet tooth has been declining, and I'm so glad. I've even been able to say that a dessert (on a magazine cover, or store shelf) looks good, but I don't want it. We ate at Western Sizzlin (a buffet) the day we shopped for the vanity, and I had one 2" square of no-bake cheesecake, and was perfectly satisfied. Oh, and I shared it with Elijah.

So now I've come back to the vanity it all goes together and makes sense, right? Good night.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I have to blog AND think of a title?

We did buy a freezer last week. We got the 21 cubic foot Frigidaire from Lowe's. They had 10% off major appliances, plus they always give 10% off to military/veterans. They were offering free delivery, which we tried to turn into a cash discount but they wouldn't (it has happened before), but we still felt like we got a good price. I used the new shelf space to organize my frozen goods and make room for ice trays. Then there was the 20lbs of chicken we'd just bought. Yesterday I made a triple recipe of fresh tomato soup, divvied it up and put it in the freezer. Our cow will be butchered this Thursday.

Saturday we went for a drive and ended up in Eureka Springs just in time for the St. Patrick's Day parade. The children enjoyed the parade and caught several strings of Mardi Gras beads. Bob got some pictures for his class. Elijah got scared of the noisy motorcycles and wanted to "sleep" on my "shoulder". Overall it was a good day.

We have worked further in the garden, and have planted broccoli, leeks, and strawberries.

Bob's new college class is somewhat of a breather for him, though frustrating at the same time. The instructions are rather vague, and the instructor only comes into the class once per week to give copy-and-paste responses to all the students (with few variations), and grades half-way through the following week (though she indicated she grades the day of the assignment). I realize that she's a person and has other things in her life, but the instructor post is obviously a part-time job and it is difficult to work with.

Ella's appetite has finally picked up, and she's starting to look healthier. Today Bob bought a pair of jeans that are a few inches smaller that what he had been wearing. So I guess the diet is working, in spite of our frequent lapses.

It's been warm, but it's raining now, and I need to go close the windows.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

good times

Today we actually did something interesting. :-D

Last Sunday's paper had an article about upcoming events at Pea Ridge National Battlefield, and by much deductive reasoning and searching of websites I was able to discover the times and locations for the events. (I'm so proud of me!)

This morning, in downtown Bentonville, there was a reenactment of a skirmish that occurred on this day 150 years ago, very close to the spot on which it occurred. The days following saw larger battles fought in Pea Ridge (but the national park service doesn't allow reenactments in the parks).

So this morning we quickly did the chores, had toast for breakfast, and took off to Bentonville. (It's about an hour's drive.) Of course, the main street to the town square was under construction, so we had to take a detour, but that led us to a parking lot from whence we walked to the square. The side we first approached had a podium set up (you know that means the platform, right? I looked it up) and a small band of men in Union uniforms were playing and singing. The street was roped off, so we found a spot just behind the rope and waited for things to start.

(Riah had to go to the bathroom, so I took him inside the courthouse for relief.) We weren't there long when a group of children, led by a multi-pierced middle aged woman, squeezed in front of us and sat on the curb. When Bob went to the end of the street in search of a better view, the children got pushed a bit and ended up not in a good position. We were also in the shade, and it was pretty chilly. So we moved across the street to the sun, and the children mostly sat on the curb like all the other children there. (According to one of the speakers, there were 2000 children from the Bentonville school district. There weren't a lot of non-school people there at all.)

Some people stood up on the podium and gave speeches that we couldn't hear much of, and then the lectern (which appeared to be a substantial piece of furniture) rolled off the podium and fell on the legs of a little girl who was sitting there. (Yes, the lectern had castors!.) She appeared to be 8-10 years old. Several adults rushed over to her and the speaker asked for paramedics. Some men in uniform showed up, but we couldn't tell if they were police, firefighters, or EMTs. After several minutes they got the girl to her feet and she limped away.

Then the show started, on the other side of the square. We heard gunshots, saw smoke, and some soldiers on our side ran over there. The speaker gave a narration, but we couldn't hear him. We stood there and tried to pretend we were civilians at the time - we wouldn't have had any idea what was going on, just hearing the shots and distant yells. Eventually the fighting came to our side of the square, but as we were at the end of the street we mostly saw the backs of the soldiers. Anyway, we enjoyed the performance. From what I have gathered, the Union had taken the town prior to this fight, and the Confederates were trying to liberate it, but were unsuccessful. The later battles at Pea Ridge are considered the greatest turning-points of the war West of the Mississippi.

When the show was over we walked across the square to the Sam Walton/WalMart museum. It was pretty nice, if a lot of propaganda for WalMart. They had some neat looking toys and candy in the cafe and gift shop, but we didn't stay to look.

Then we drove to a nearby city park, where we had our picnic lunch. One school group (ages about 12-14) was occupying the playground, so we just played in the grassy area by our picnic table.

Then we turned toward home, stopping at a Tyson outlet store that I'd just heard about. Mostly they offered breaded, flavored, or pre-cooked meat, but at the end of the freezer there was boneless skinless chicken breasts - 20 pounds for $28. So we got a box of that.

Then we passed the home appliance store, so Bob did a sort of U-turn into a gravel area on the far side of the road. As he was waiting for traffic to pass, a policeman pulled into the turn lane and gave him a dirty look. Sure enough, he turned around, too, and followed us to the appliance store. He stopped Bob for "improper use of a lane" - he said we were blocking traffic (but we weren't - a semi went past us). Anyway, he saw that Bob had a clean record and let him go without a ticket.

We went into the store and looked at freezers, and then we came home to put the chicken in our freezer and decide where to put the new deep freeze we will buy.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tax return

Most of you have heard by now that our tax return was rather disappointing this year. Bob always has very little held out of his paycheck, and always gets it back with quite a bit of "interest," especially since the Bush tax cuts which included the "additional child tax credit" that counted as if you had paid in that amount. This year we got back about 25% as much as we had the last few years. The reason being that retirement income, while taxable, doesn't count as "earned" income, and for some reason that I have NEVER understood, the more one makes the more one gets for free (up to a point) in ACTC and Earned Income Credit.

Anyway, we did get our money this week, and Bob was able to get a new tripod. He's been working with a tripod made for a video camera, which doesn't allow for vertical shots. B&H has better prices than our local store, but they also have so many choices that it was really hard to narrow it down, and of course there's the lack of touching and trying it out. So we went to the store in Fayetteville and Bob was able to narrow the choices down pretty quickly. He ended up with a Manfrotto aluminum tripod and a Manfrotto ball head. They had a carbon fiber model which was about half the weight and twice the price, but Bob didn't think the weight would be a problem in studio, and the cheaper one had all the same features.

We will soon be going to get an upright deep freezer, and soon after that we will buy a half of a cow which will probably fill the freezer. That will use the rest of the IRS deposit, and possibly more. But we will have healthful meat for quite some time, so that's a plus.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Assembling together

We once heard a sermon on
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

where our Pastor focused on "assembling." He compared church people to Legos by saying that if you dump a box of Legos on the floor, they are not "assembled" - you have to actually snap them together in order to create what you intend. Similarly, just showing up at the meeting house once a week doesn't mean you have assembled together with believers; you have to form bonds with them that enable the work of the Church.


Sunday morning we went to our regular meeting at Hilltop, and it was nice. But we had been invited to a "singing" at the Mennonite Church on Sunday night, and thought that would be nice, too. Bob forgot what time the singing started, so we assumed 6pm. No one was there, so we guessed that it was at 7, or maybe even 6:30. To kill time we went to WalMart and bought some onion starts. Then back out to the church, where people finally began to arrive just before 6:30.

We filed in with some others, recognizing a couple of youth in the parking lot, and stood around feeling a little bit awkward. The men were setting up chairs in the fellowship hall, and the ladies were sitting on a bench outside the door to the sanctuary. But it wasn't long until someone opened the doors to the sanctuary and everyone headed in. A man stood up and said we would do "chain" singing, and he called out a number to start with and selected a person to choose the next song. We flipped through the 1000+ songs in the hymnbook, somebody started, and everyone joined in with 4-part harmony. Our family didn't recognize most of the songs, but we tried to mumble along with the crowd. At the end of each song, one person would call out a number and a name. The number was for their song selection, and at first we thought the name was of the person who was to start the song, but we finally figured out that it was the person to pick the next song. I'm not sure how they knew who was to begin the song. Even though we didn't know most of the selections, we enjoyed listening, reading the words, and trying to find the right notes. Taryn discovered what a "dotted" note means.

After an hour of singing, we were dismissed to the fellowship hall (that's what the A/G calls it; I don't know if the Mennonites have another name for the area) for soda and popcorn. Before we could leave our pew, Bob was met by a couple of men who stood and talked for a while. I couldn't get out that way, and didn't really want to walk around by myself, so I stayed put. The boys found themselves part of a group, and ran off to get acquainted. Taryn chased Elijah. Naysha stuck close to me. A girl about Naysha's size, who is 16, came over and introduced herself and chatted with me for a while. Then a lady came by and talked with me until the men were ready to go find the popcorn.

I shan't give you a play-by-play of the rest of the evening, because we were there talking for 2 hours. The children had already settled at 2 different tables, so Bob and I split up to supervise them. Two ladies spent most of the evening with me, and Bob was part of a group of 5 or 6 men. We just TALKED the whole time. The men focused on spiritual topics, while we ladies talked about farming and diets and school and everything in between. When we finally left, we felt like we had really been "assembled together" with these folks. It was a really beautiful feeling to have had in-depth fellowship with other believers. I didn't get the phone number of my friend for the night, but she indicated they might come to Hilltop on Wednesday night, as they live closer to us than to their own church. I really hope so; I'd like to get even better acquainted, and Bob wants to go see their Bald Eagles. ;-)

I was so refreshed by the experience that I didn't get any REM sleep until after 5am. Oops.

I just realized I don't have a closing statement. Oh, well, I need to help Bob write his final for school. Have a blessed night.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Lazy post

Last week Bob went down to our friendly neighborhood dairy farm and bought a trailer load of manure. We all worked together to more than double the size of the garden, adding 2 - 3 wheelbarrow loads of manure to each bed. Today I sent Taryn out to take pictures, and this is a sample of what she came back with.

Also, she got the flowers we planted last Fall, down by the road, Elijah, etc.

I'm being lazy and not putting them in order with cute little captions. Forgive me; I'm pregnant and just finished making dinner.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Doctor visit

I finally made it to the doctor today. I was told to arrive 30 minutes early to fill out "paperwork", but that only took 5-10 minutes as it was the consent form and billing info rather than my medical history. So I got to wait for a while before seeing the doctor. I was pleased to find the building has free, unsecured wi-fi, so I played some games on my iPad.

The nurse was friendly and made sure I knew what to do and where to go since it was my first visit. She took down my medical history, entering it into the computer (which I've become used to in the military hospitals). She has 5 children, so wasn't too put out by my having 7. When the doctor came in, she had already reviewed my chart and was able to figure out that I wasn't going to be a high-needs sort of patient. She brought up the labor options, mentioning that I would be allowed drinks in labor since she would be really shocked if I needed a C-section. I mentioned that I was drawn to their practice by the newspaper article and it's mention of low-intervention. She knew I'd had a home birth, mentioned that things are different here than in the UK, and said they like to give women the option of laboring unhindered so that we won't mind being in the hospital. Anyway, I have a feeling this paragraph doesn't make much sense, but it sounds like we will be able to openly talk about what I want to happen, and probably do it. (Unlike my last hospital delivery where I just had to tell the nurse to leave me alone until it was time to deliver, and she was all put out with me about it.)

We did not have a sonogram this time, as I already had to do the background, the pelvic, and have blood drawn. Next month I will have the sonogram and then a short office visit. (Of course I don't have results from the tests today, but my blood pressure was good, and we got a strong steady heartbeat on the doppler.)