After their wedding in March, Caleb and Jordan settled into our travel trailer on our farm to await their tenants' departure from their home. Poor Jordan, our dear and sweet southern belle, ended up living in what can really only be described as a tin can, insulation-wise, during our Canadian not-so-warm month of April, our ever-so-slightly warmer month of May, and our much nicer month of June. They'd have been in their home sooner, but as Jordan conceived wee Victoria shortly after they were wed, and as we wanted to re-paint prior to them taking possession, everyone felt it best that she avoid the fumes while Mom and I painted the entire house. You read that, didn't you? Their *ENTIRE* house. Every - single - nook - and - cranny, including the entire almost finished basement and the interior of the two car garage! And yes, we did deserve mother and sister-in-love of the year awards for that!! But we didn't mind, it was a labour of love for the dearest son/brother in the world and the most precious daughter/sister-in-love a family could ever ask for. Below are just a few pictures of our handiwork. Caleb and Jordan happily moved into their home in July and have settled in nicely. It's so wonderful having them live just around the corner, almost adjacent the farm.
In the midst of all that painting, we also packed up and moved my Mom's mom, Grandma Barb, after she sold her condo and moved into a retirement living building - from which she's about to depart, moving into another apartment after having decided retirement living is not for her...but that's another story altogether. We're moving her in a few weeks! All I can say is that, despite having lived here in our old farmhouse my entire life, it seems I surely have moved a lot of folk. Or is that a few folk a lot of times?!
Immediately after finishing up painting Caleb's and Jordan's house, we had a nice bit of company. Dear cousin Kellie-Anne and her precious kidlets came from Edmonton for a week's visit, and immediately after she left, Jordan's Gram and Pop came up from South Carolina for a two week stay. It was wonderful spending time with such dear and much loved folk.
During Kellie-Anne's visit, my lovely quarter horse mare, bred to a magnificent andalusian stallion, gave birth to a little colt I've named Valour. I hope he lives up to his name, but I must admit that at nine months old he's still somewhat of a brat! Actually, more than somewhat!! His birth was very exciting for us all, most of all for me, of course. Some of you might remember that the same mare had thrown a lovely filly from the same stallion the year before, but my sweet little "Gria" died after a freak accident when she was only seven months old. Valour's arrival was a precious gift from the Lord.
As soon as Gram and Pop left, we gals moved out to the trailer to make room for more painting... our entire upstairs, with the exception of my room (which we're going to tackle this summer). I'm not sure why we began that project, it wasn't on the schedule, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. :o) One would rightly think we'd had enough painting for one year, and in the midst of this second project Mom and I certainly would have agreed, but we plodded along and got the job done...almost...we just have another coat to apply to a couple of bedroom doors and it'll be finished. We plan to do that shortly too.
Mom and Dad gave up their master bedroom in order to put the four wee girls together. Here's the girls' new room, with two double beds, their desks, and knick-knacks.
In the midst of all that, we experienced the worst drought in our farming history. It was really quite distressing to look outside and watch our crops wither and die over the course of the summer. As difficult as it was, our hope was in the Lord, knowing that He would provide for us, that He'd never failed us, and never would. While we ended up with a dismal crop and suffered a significant financial loss, the Lord indeed has been our all in all and has kept our confidence in Him alone. Man plants, God gives the increase, or chooses to test and try us to show us our hearts. He is good all the time, regardless of our circumstances, and we're so thankful for His many, many blessings to us.
During all this time we were thrilled to watch Jordan's belly expanding with new life and greatly anticipated meeting wee Victoria in December.
Oh, and in addition to all of the painting I've already mentioned, Mom and I also helped Caleb paint his butcher shop. It was much needed so we were happy to bless him in this way, though must admit we felt we'd quite had our fill of painting for a time!
Then, of course, September rolled around and school resumed, with me helping Mom teach the girls and embark upon my seventh year of teaching piano to a group of terrific students. Also in September, wild game began to arrive for butchering, lots of moose and a few bears.
In October, with the exception of Caleb and Jordan, we all attended the National Center for Family Integrated Churches' annual conference in North Carolina, this particular one entitled, "White Unto Harvest". It was, as always, a deeply challenging and uplifting time for us as we were blessed to listen to wonderfully inspiring talks from some of the dearest and godliest men, and spend time fellowshipping with new and old friends. We especially enjoyed our time with Jordan's family, the Hammonds. It's always so wonderful to be with them and we constantly marvel at how good God was to all of us in uniting our families through marriage. Caleb and Jordan were sorry to miss not only the conference, but the opportunity to visit with her family, however it couldn't be helped. Jordan was awaiting her Permanent Resident status here in Canada and with her being visibly pregnant we didn't want to run the risk of a border agent turning her away at the border until her card arrived. She was here perfectly legally, but some border agents are known for being a little overly zealous and we just didn't think it worth the risk of them possibly being separated before Victoria's birth and until her PR was granted in early December. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, on our way to the conference we stopped in Virginia to meet some new friends, the Alexander family, who showed us much warmth and hospitality. They're a sweet family and we thoroughly enjoyed spending a day with them on their farm and getting to know them a little bit. We wish we'd gotten a picture of them, meant to in fact, but were so busy visiting we forgot.
October and November were, as always, particularly busy with butchering deer. Friend's sons came to intern for the month of November, learning how to butcher and run the shop. We were incredibly busy and in the midst of it all came down with oodles of illness which lingered for months. We got through the onslaught, snivelling, hacking, feverish and a'dragging, and were immensely relieved when things began to slow down! Somewhere in the midst of it we threw a baby shower for Jordan and Caleb. And also in the midst of butcher season, Dad and Mom managed to get the crop off and the fields plowed.
Trucks backed up, waiting to unload.
Hanging overflow deer in the stable...
...and goofing around just a tad.
Stacks of hides waiting for pick-up
to be turned into leather.
In the midst of butchering, our wood arrived.
Mom and the wee girls tossed it all into the basement.
Such terrific helpers!
Our baby shower and...
...us "attending" a cyber shower hosted by Jordan's family in South Carolina. We Skyped and projected it onto a bigger screen so we could see the guests in SC more clearly as they each brought their wrapped gifts up to the Hammond's computer and unwrapped it for Jordan to see. It was such a clever idea!
Oh, and how could I forget?? Immediately before the Hammonds arrived, we'd just finished up...you guessed it...MORE painting! The wee girls began taking art lessons this year and their art teacher was continually telling Mom how they should hang their art all over the house. Well, yes, that would be ideal we suppose...but four wee girls and all of that art!? So Mom came up with the brilliant idea of surprising them all with their very own art room/gallery for Christmas! I must admit, Dad and I were a tad skeptical at first, but once Mom explained how she wanted to convert one side of one room in our dingy old farmhouse basement into "Le Grande Gallery", we began to catch her vision. So after surreptitiously cleaning out all of the
Didn't it turn out just wonderfully?!
Dad and Mom took us out to a swanky dinner and the theater to see a live production of Pride & Prejudice as an early Christmas gift. The younger girls stayed with Caleb and Jordan that evening, but got to see a cute stage production of the Nutcracker Ballet with Mom a few days later.
Precious Victoria made her grand entrance on Sunday, December 23rd. Jordan's absolutely outstanding midwife, a dear and precious Christian sister, Leah Hackett, was a sight for sore eyes when she appeared, let me tell you! There'd been a mighty snowstorm the day before and the roads were atrocious, so trust me when I tell you that in addition to much praying, there was much rejoicing when Leah's car pulled in the laneway! Knowing Jordan was in labour the night before, we gals, Mom, Mrs. Hammond, Jordan's sisters, and I, watched birthing videos on Youtube just in case! The next morning, Mom and Mrs. Hammond were GREATLY relieved when the midwife arrived, as things were progressing so quickly they wondered (ok, feared!) they'd have to deliver the baby themselves! Everything went fantastically well and our precious wee girl arrived safe and sound, with her mommy doing a stellar job throughout. There was MUCH rejoicing when we all heard her first cries emanating from Caleb's and Jordan's bedroom! And a few tears as well...from Grandpa Kelly and Grandma Debbie. The Hammonds visited with us for three entire weeks, it was thrilling to share Victoria's birth with them, as well as Christmas and New Years. We are all so immensely blessed!
Getting the tree.
Cherish, Blessing, Honour, Liberty, Bethany,
Jordan, Caleb, and Victoria - Christmas Eve
Kelsey, Ethan, Mr. and Mrs. Hammond, Noah, Savannah,
Jordan, Caleb, and Victoria - Christmas Eve
Wee Victoria, our precious Christmas Eve
January found Mom facing surgery, having experienced three very severe gallbladder attacks. They started one week, she had one each successive week for two more weeks, and was found to have a very large stone blocking the duct, so surgery it was! Again, the Lord was exceedingly kind and gracious, surgery went well and after the first week post-surgery, recovery went well also.
And then it was February. Time for preparing everything necessary to leave the farm for our annual vacation to Florida. It's a rather daunting notion to leave one's business in someone else's hands for a month, but the man who fills in for us is very capable and trustworthy, so we know it's in good hands. Some have wondered how a dairy farmer can possibly leave for such an extended time, and the truth is most wouldn't even consider it. But long ago Dad turned to Mom and told her that there's more to life than farming, and that as it's about one of the most demanding professions there is, with having to milk twice a day, every day, in addition to all of the other heavy work like planting and harvesting, he felt it was imperative that we spend time away as a family, "tying heartstrings", and he's made every effort imaginable to see it happen each year. We realize it may not always be so, but to this point the Lord has provided a way and the fruit of my Dad's efforts have paid off in establishing very close family bonds. Now, I'm not suggesting a family has to go away to establish those bonds, but a family does have to sometimes take extraordinary measures to find or make the time to spend tying those heartstrings. I'll be ever grateful for a father and mother who've done exactly that, as will my siblings, I'm sure.
And so, we just returned from that wonderful time away, having enjoyed a bit of Disney, swimming in the ocean, the VERY COLD ocean I might add, playing lots of mini-golf or, as our American friends like to call it, putt-putt, and just spending time together. We were also so very pleased to get in a little visit with Mrs. Alexander (the new friend we met on our way to the conference in October) and her three youngest children, as they happened to be in Florida for a few days when we were, staying in a hotel very close to ours. In addition, old friends of my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Watters, came by our condo for pizza, as is becoming our annual custom. It's so funny, they live merely 20 minutes away from our farm and we rarely see them here, but we manage to get in a visit most years when we're all in Florida at the same time!
Caleb and Jordan stopped in South Carolina to visit with Jordan's family for about ten days before heading on to Florida and joining us there for two weeks. We were able to celebrate their 1st wedding anniversary while they were there too, and Mom and I took much delight in decorating their condo and short-sheeting their bed! After holidaying with us, they returned to the Hammonds for another five days or so.
On our way to Florida we were able to pull one over on Mr. Hammond, which has now become one of our most favorite pastimes - plotting and planning how to get him- by showing up on their doorstep unexpectedly, basically repaying them for their bit of fun on us in December. They didn't expect us at all and we had fun eating their food, messing up their house, and hope to do so again before too long! Actually, we managed to do a little bit of that again on our way home, but just for a night and a day.
And now we're home, back at milking and barn chores, teaching school (we did some of that in Florida too) and piano again, getting ready to begin planting, preparing to hand out 200 free packages of faith and family building materials at our local homeschooling conference next Saturday, planning what to pack up (just we girls) to attend a wedding near Niagara Falls in two weeks, participate in a music festival the last week of April, and move Grandma Barb on May 1st!
The summer will find us schooling, farming, painting some more and, hopefully, welcoming guests to the farm. So far only Gram and Pop are planning to come from South Carolina, so if you've nothing to do and have a bit of wanderlust nipping at your heels, pop us a line and head our way, we'd love to have you! Oh, and bring some painting clothes won't you?