Thursday, December 21, 2017

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

Last week I was so excited when it started snowing on Sunday night!  Many New Yorkers think I am crazy for enjoying the snow, but really, I've been deprived of snow for a few years now.  In Maryland, any snow we got wasn't even worth mentioning, and in California, there was practically no such thing as snow.  So I have been without a white Christmas now for almost eight years! 
It continued to snow throughout Monday, all day pretty much. 

Dan used his plow to plow out the church and our driveway, as well as a few neighbors.  I took this photo when one of our neighbors came over with his tractor to talk to Dan. 

Chula was absolutely LOVING the snow too!  This is the first snow she has really seen since being born. 

I took this short video of her playing in the snow.  We were both commenting on how our white dog looks incredibly yellow compared to the whiteness of the snow!
While it was snowing and Dan was plowing, I was baking Christmas cookies!  We made up these plates of cookies and delivered them to our neighbors in the snow. 

This really IS the most wonderful time of the year!  I love Christmas time! 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Thoughts on Christmas traditions

Since it is December 20th, I thought I would write a short post about Christmas and some thoughts I've had regarding it lately. 

    I began teaching our children's class at church a few months ago.  I very much enjoy it, and have been able to teach the children about missionaries, and we had a series on Elijah the prophet as well.  Several weeks ago, December hit and I knew that I would begin a short series on the Christmas story and those events leading up to and following the birth of Jesus.
    I began this series by asking the children about some things they think of when they think of Christmas.  Of course, I got the usual answers of "Getting presents!" and "Decorating the Tree."  I was expecting that after getting through the list of material things and such, that some child would remember the birth of Jesus and say that, but no.  Not a single child (there were nine children present from ages 7-13) mentioned the real reason for Christmas. 
    I thought that it was sad, and appalling really!  So many things have taken the place of the real meaning of Christmas today and it made me think long and hard about how I will someday raise my children around Christmas time. 

    That same Sunday in class, I proceeded to tell the children that while Santa, presents, trees, elves, (and everything else) are nice things, they are not the reason we should be celebrating Christmas.  I began telling them the story of Jesus' birth, and reinforcing that His birth is the reason we celebrate Christmas. 
    After that Sunday, two children came to me and told me about traditions their families observe.  One is the typical idea that Santa brings them their gifts if they have been good all year.  The other was something I had not heard of before.  Apparently, each home has an "elf on the shelf" who watches the children at home, and reports back to Santa about whether they are good or bad. 

    To address Santa first....
    I fully understand the history of Santa Claus (or Saint Nicholas).  I understand that he was a real man (a monk in fact) who would give out kind gifts and do generous things to help poor children.  However, the story that he knows all and sees all and climbs down chimneys and travels by means of a sleigh pulled by reindeer is not historical in the least.  This all stemmed from a poem written by a man in the 1800's for his young daughters.  The santa we think of today was the imaginings of this man, put in ink by a cartoonist. 
    Of course, the story became more and more far-fetched as time went on.  Now, there is a ninth reindeer named Rudolph, elves who work for santa, a Mrs. Claus...the list goes on. 

    I have heard for years that santa only gives good boys and girls presents, and he gives a lump of coal to bad children.  How many children do you know who receive coal though?  I know for a fact that the number of children who are perfect all year is zero.  One lady told me the story of how Christmas came at her house when she was young and her sister was very rude and mean and threw fits in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Christmas morning, this girl opened her present and it was a lump of coal.  She ran to her room and threw a temper tantrum.  After letting her cry for awhile, the parents went to her, told her "See, this is why you shouldn't be naughty..." and then gave her all of her presents. 

I can't be the only awful person who thinks "If I can be bad, and still get my presents, what's the point of being good?"
 Clearly Santa is a joke!  He is certainly inconsistent. 
Secondly, this "elf on the shelf"...
I had never heard of such a thing until my student told me about hers.  When I asked what the significance of this elf was, she told me that the elf watches her day and night and sees if she is good or bad, then reports back to santa. 
I did some research on this.  No wonder I had never heard of it!  Apparently, it only became a "fad" a few years ago when a woman and her daughter wrote a book about this elf.  Today, lots of people have bought the book, bought the elf (money-making scheme!) and are now teaching their children about this magic elf. 

Again, I'm appalled...
    If santa "sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake" and "knows if you've been bad or good", WHY does he need an elf to do spy work for him?  I can see parents using this elf as a means of threatening their children into being good, at least for the month of December.  What in the world?!

    Often when I meet people out door-knocking, they will tell me that the story of Jesus' birth (and the Bible in general) is too unbelievable to be true.  People refer to the Bible as a book of fairy tales, yet they teach their children to believe in nonsense like elves and santa.  And the crazy thing is, THEY BELIEVE IT!

You may ask "Why the rant, Virginia?"

    Because I am teaching children who have never been taught about Jesus, or about His birth, but they know every intricate detail about Santa and his elves.  Why is this? 

Parents aren't teaching their children the right thing. 

    Someday when I have children, we will have Christmas traditions.  We will enjoy the Christmas season.  We may decorate the tree and Christmas cookies and give each other gifts.  But my children will know WHY we celebrate Christmas.  I want them to know Who Christmas is about. 

    When I was a child, I was never taught much about santa, other than the fact that he was made up and unreal.  I knew that my presents came from my parents, not from some fat man in red who spies on me while I sleep (creepy!).  And I'll be perfectly honest: knowing that the presents came from my parents who had to work very hard to be able to give us nice gifts, helped me to behave more and be more thankful.

    If you are a parent, and reading this, please teach your child what is important and what isn't.  Jesus is important.  Santa is not. 


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Present!


We are parents!! (not just "going to be") 
As you can probably tell, Dan thinks boy, I think girl.  We're terribly excited about it!!

Perhaps you can see now what keeps prompting me to write contemplative posts about how I will someday raise my children!  :)  By the way, the next post will be about raising children at Christmas time. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Oh Deer!!!!

As you recall, I mentioned in my last post that several unplanned events kept us busy two weeks ago.  I should really say that they kept Dan busy, not so much me.  But I helped. 
On Monday morning, Dan left early to go hunting and on his way, hit a buck.  I was surprised to see him pull up so soon after leaving. 
The swing set in the backyard came in handy for hanging the deer. 
The truck suffered some damage to the bumper, headlights and grill, but still runs fine.  I look a little less happy about this than Dan does... 

On Wednesday morning, Dan began cutting the meat off of the buck and our neighbor came over to see it.  Our neighbor left to go somewhere at about 8AM and then came right back and told Dan that he saw a dead deer laying beside the road!  So Dan drove there, picked up the roadkill, and came back with it and hung her up too! When he called the local police to come and give him a tag for it, the officer said that the deer had been hit just that morning and that one of his deputies had been there. 

So that day, Wednesday, we spent the entire day processing two deer.  We don't have a meat grinder, so we cut it all up by hand.  As a result, both of us had cuts all over our hands!
I was sorry that the truck got damaged, but happy that Dan got TWO deer this year.  He had been a little discouraged because the hunting here wasn't as good as it was in Maryland (surprisingly). 
We ate our first venison steaks the following day, and they were good, albeit a bit tough (because Dan likes to cook them). :D 
EDIT: *************************************************EDIT
Dan JUST came home with ANOTHER deer!!!! 
I know what I'll be eating for the next year!  Venison steaks, venison burgers, venison roasts, venison kabobs, venison...

Monday, December 4, 2017


Yes, I realize that it is no longer Thanksgiving, and that Christmas is right around the corner now.  Last week, all week, I wanted to post this, but "things" kept coming up!  I'll be posting about those things in my next post, so keep your eyes open for the next post! 
I had an amazing Thanksgiving.  I was thankful to be able to drive with Dan down to Pennsylvania for two days and spend the day with my entire family.  I was able to see my 11 nieces and nephews and chat with my sisters and brother-in-laws. 
I took pictures while I was there, but my phone continued to die rapidly, so most were taken with my Ipad (resulting in blurriness) or I borrowed from my sister. 
I enjoyed spending time with my niece, Ella.  I regret having to live far away from my nieces and nephews often because when I come back to visit for short visits, they are shy and nervous around me.  Ella is one of the few who warms up extra quickly, and likes to spend time with me because I sometimes wear earrings and nail polish. 
I sometimes think of her as a mini-me, because I was EXACTLY like that when I was a little girl.  I loved anything pretty and shiny. 
So please, pardon all of the photos, but I couldn't help taking so many of Ella's little adorable expressions. 

Martha and I

My mother planned out the whole meal, which turned out delicious.  She decided to use all root crops as the vegetables in the meal, which Dan thought was different.  He had never tried sugar beets, white sweet potatoes or celeriac.  😀

Mark always has the funniest poses for pictures.  He is holding my newest niece, Charlotte. 

Sarah, little Willy, and Billy.

Martha, Ella, Sawyer and I.

The family dinner.  Oliver, Lizzie and Isabelle were the only people missing since they went to Lizzie's parents for Thanksgiving. 

Lydia and Charlotte.

My parents and Charlotte

Toward the end of the evening, after wearing out the games hide-and-seek, "I spy", and hide-the-object-and-find-it, I read a few stories to the older nieces and nephews. 

I have so many things to be thankful for.  But the thing that most comes to my mind when I think of the many blessings in my life is my family. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Weekly happenings in Granville

Some exciting things have happened in Granville lately.  Let me first say that the Thanksgiving season came SO QUICKLY this year!  I had been hearing all about how gorgeous the autumn leaves would be up here, so I had my eyes open, on the lookout for those colors!
One day, the leaves were starting to turn a rusty brown color, and then we got this huge rain and wind storm in the night.  When we awoke, the leaves that were still on the trees were completely dark brown.  So we missed the beautiful colors this fall. 
But the crisp, fall (and winter) air is here to stay! 
On October 27th, our church held a family and friends night.  We had a bonfire, and hotdogs and hamburgers as well as s'mores. 

We were so excited to have quite a few visitors there!

I think everyone had a nice time. 

I celebrated my 26th birthday last week.  Dan bought me some candles (I had been out of candles for a long time and missed them!) and took me to dinner.  It was a nice birthday. 
On Saturday, it snowed here!  That was the second time it snowed.  Of course it blew around more than anything. 

People up here think I'm crazy, but I love snow and winter!  The worst thing about the snowy weather will be having to cancel church services. 
I absolutely love church, and I'll miss it when we can't have it.

On Fridays, we always go to the local nursing home and sing songs and Dan preaches a short message.  This past week, we finished our service, and the staff started gathering together all of the residents into the dining hall.  They were going to have a small ceremony to honor all of the resident veterans!  So we stayed for that.  I really enjoyed it.  We DID sing the Star Spangled Banner (accompanied by a cd track) and it was arranged for an orchestra, not a choir.  As a result, I was jumping octaves the whole time, and Dan was the only brave soul to sing a G above middle C.  haha!
 This is the picture Dan took of all of the veterans. 
I was going to post a few videos of our little dog, doing some tricks, but they wont upload for some reason, so I'll post them next time. 
Until later!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bad Music Teachers

Lest my readers begin to believe that my blog is only comprised of rants and raves, I promise that my next post is going to be an update on regular life, with pictures and all. 

However, the subject I am about to address has been on my mind for years.  I have attempted to put into words my thoughts concerning poor music teachers before, but never finished the posts.  I decided that the time has come for me to speak up though, and address these concerns. 

Let me first say that while I have been teaching music lessons for seven years, I am by no means an expert on the matter.  I do not claim to know everything there is to know about teaching music.  But if I have learned anything in my seven years of teaching, it has been that there are horrible teachers out there who ought not be teaching at all. 

I grew up being taught piano by my mother.  I can tell you all that there are many things for which I am thankful to my mother for, but one of the biggest things is that she taught me all she knew about piano.  My mother took lessons for only a few years herself as a teenager, but was primarily self-taught; especially in the area of playing by ear. 

My mother has a strong gift of teaching in general.  She taught many piano students when I was younger.  I struggled very much as a child and teenager with understanding music theory.  Being taught theory out of a book just didn't work for me.  When I arrived at college, I could sight-read nearly any piece of piano music, but I didn't know my chords, how to play by ear or how to improvise.  Those three things were what I had to learn at college.  And I worked hard to learn them. 

Since I worked my whole childhood to become proficient at sight-reading, and my whole college life learning to be proficient in improvisation and theory, it truly bothers me to see music teachers in life who are barely proficient at all, attempting to teach children. 

When I was living in Maryland, I was offered an accompanying job for a public elementary school, accompanying their Christmas and spring programs.  I was just fine with doing this.  After the Christmas program, one of the music teachers in the school asked me if I would consider accompanying her private student voice recital the following week.  I agreed and we exchanged numbers. 
The thing that bothered me most was not that she gave me to the music for her students the night of the recital (though that was EXTREMELY unprofessional).  No, the thing that bothered me most was realizing that her voice recital was actually her voice students combined with her piano students.  This allowed me to see her teaching method in action and it absolutely appalled me.  Each child had to be told where to place their hands before beginning, and many of those were told to start in the completely wrong place!  As a result, you can imagine that the songs were all unrecognizable.

I was expecting that the vocal solos would be somewhat challenging, based on the fact that this teacher admitted to me that she was unable to accompany them herself due to a lack of ability.  However, most of the music I was given looked like this:

(free music from online)

I left that recital grieved in my spirit, even though I had made money.  Those poor students! 

In that woman's partial defense, she was an amazing, operatic singer.  She had a beautiful voice!  But simply because one can sing well does NOT follow that they ought to teach- voice OR piano! 

I know how to sing fairly well.  I can sight-sing, and sing any part.  But I will not open up a voice studio because my heart wouldn't be in teaching voice.  I wouldn't be able to help students to have the amazing overtones they could have, because I struggle finding my own!  I have come to realize that my musical abilities stop somewhere. 

My sincere and humble advice to all music teachers is to PLEASE examine your musical desire.  If it isn't voice, PLEASE don't teach voice.  If it isn't piano, PLEASE don't teach piano.  I have seen all too many teachers who obviously are teaching whatever they can in order to make another $20/lesson.  So if they sort of know how to play the piano, they try teaching it. 

I saw this happening so much in both Maryland and California. 

Why am I so passionate about this? 

I have had many students come to me from other teachers.  In order to understand where the student is coming from, I ask questions about their understanding of theory, sight-reading, and musicality in general.  VERY few of them know much of anything, sadly. 

Recently, I had two young girls begin taking lessons with me regularly.  I came to find out that their previous teacher would teach them one song at a time out of the Alfred 1a book.  They would continue on that song for one month, until they could play it from memory.  I know that they do not exaggerate this because the teacher wrote the dates at the top of each song.  Not only that, but this teacher wrote in every note of each song. 
They have been in the same Alfred book for 2 years. 

On our first lesson, I simply said that they were never going to see the notes written in again.  And today (6 weeks later), I had a lesson with both girls.  They are both in three books each now, with 1-2 songs in each book.  I was so proud of them today!  They each passed the song that I gave them last week to practice, and I had them sight-read their new songs for the first time.  They weren't perfect, but very close!  The older of the two girls knows her C and G scales, and has memorized her chords in both keys. 

I say again, I am learning myself!  I haven't arrived.  I don't know everything there is to know about teaching music.  But I am constantly working to get better.  Refreshing my memory of chords and scales on Chord Dr (a program created by my piano teacher from college) and reading Friedrich Wieck's Piano and Song keeps me on the right track pedagogically.  Constantly sight-reading through Haydn, Beethoven and Bach (not to mention playing for church) keeps me sharp in my proficiency.  

If you teach music, I beg of you, keep yourself sharp! Practice! Read! Learn!

If you are thinking of teaching an instrument that you couldn't sit down and play at an instant's notice, please re-consider.  If you aren't proficient, it is unlikely that your students ever will be.
Don't be a bad music teacher.    

Parents who are paying good money for your child to learn, do your research before signing on with a teacher.  Have you ever heard the teacher play proficiently? Is your child progressing?

As always, if you have any thoughts to share about this, please comment below!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Reflections on Halloween


There are so many differing opinions about Halloween and whether or not to celebrate it, especially amongst evangelical Christians.  I understand how it must be harder to make this decision when one has young children.  Today's culture emphasizes the family fun in dressing your child up in a cute costume and going to family and neighbors homes to get candy. 
I do not have children, but I know how I feel about Halloween. 

I would first of all point out that whether or not you celebrate Halloween, it is each persons decision.  If all of my family and each of my friends celebrated Halloween, I would respect their opinion and not hound them for the decision they made for their family. 

I recall as a child how we never celebrated Halloween.  We never went trick-or-treating or even carved a pumpkin.  As a young child, I didn't understand why, but I never questioned the decision my parents made.  Each Halloween, we would make up small bags of candy and put a chick tract in each one and then hand them out to the children who would come to our door.

The one thing that stands out to me most (even at my age!) in my memory was how very frightened I was to open that door and see the awful masks and costumes.  As I got older, I actually would refuse to open the door, because I was so frightened.  Now, I understand that today's generation of young children is used to seeing scary things on TV.  In fact, most video games and new movies have some underlying (or blatant!)gore, guts, violence, and superhuman creatures (werewolves, zombies, vampires ect.).  But I would ask, is that a good thing?

Someday, when I have children of my own, I want them to be innocent; how children should be.  Children learn about violence and the scary things in life too soon even without us showing them.  So why are we exposing children to these things?  For the sake of getting candy?

This past Tuesday, I drove to my community choir rehearsal at 6:30, right when the trick-or-treaters were coming out.  The majority of people I saw in costume were teenagers and adults, most of whom were dressed as something utterly terrifying or in some scantily-clad costume, made up with what looked like pounds of makeup. 

My general question when deciding which holidays I will celebrate is this: "Does this holiday serve a genuine purpose?  What does this holiday teach?"

Christmas serves as a time when we remember the birth of Christ, our Savior.
Thanksgiving serves as a time when were recall the historical day when the pilgrims and Indians helped each other.  It is a time to give thanks.
Easter (or Resurrection Sunday, as I prefer to call it) serves as the day when we remember that Christ arose from the dead. 
The 4th of July commemorates the time in history when America declared her independence from Great Britain.

The list could go on, but Halloween?
Historically, Halloween was a time of superstition, fearing that the souls of the dead would haunt or come back to life.  Costumes were worn to trick the spirits of the dead into thinking that they were also spirits.  Lanterns were carved and a candle placed inside to symbolize the soul which was forever in purgatory, or a "in between place" between heaven and hell. 
Even if I don't consider the history of the "holiday" (and I use that term loosely, because I do not believe that it can be considered a "holy day"), and look at the facts that it is a day designated to dressing up in costume and getting candy from people, I do not find that convincingly beneficial. 

There are ways to have fun as a family without doing what everyone else does. 

I don't feel that as a child, I was deprived of a good thing when my parents decided to keep us from celebrating Halloween.  I had my fill of dressing up as historical characters for National History Day (for school) and acting different parts in church dramas and cantatas. 
Oh, and I was never deprived of candy either.  We each were allowed to have two pieces of hard candy each Sunday morning, before church.  😊😊😊😊😊

So no, I won't be celebrating Halloween.  The darkness of the day, scariness of the history, and pointlessness in general were enough to convince me to make this decision in my life. 

Please, don't hate me if you disagree.  I merely explain why I have decided not to acknowledge Halloween as a holiday.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reminiscing- Part Two

Well, I'm returning to take a little bit of time to reminisce about my favorite childhood memories.  In my last post, I mentioned how we used to jump in the hay, play outside in the rain, and make war paint out of mulberries.  I promise, I won't hype on this diatribe much longer, but allow me this post. 

Growing up on a property of five acres was nice.  We would play hide-and-seek so much in the summer evenings.  Our outside rules were always that nobody could hide in buildings, trees or cars.  Eventually, we also had to create the rule that our property line couldn't be crossed (because a few times, some of my siblings ventured off the property and won the game).

I mostly remember always being horrible at choosing good hiding spots.  I usually hid in typical spots close enough to the home base: the wood pile, the log fence near the cow trough.  Home base was always our  glider swing, which sat outside the side door of our house, under the old pine tree.

There was ONE time I remember more clearly though.  That was because it was the one and only time I won hide-and-seek.  When "it" (Sarah was "it", as I recall) started counting to 100, I ran down toward the old apple orchard, looking for another typical place to hide.  I happened to notice our goose pen though.  This pen was made of metal fencing, and the structure was made of skid wood.  The last goose had recently died or been sold, so this pen was vacant.  There was a child's plastic pool still in this fenced area full of dirty, green water.  This pool used to be the goose's fake "pond". 

Since Sarah was getting close to 100, I quickly dumped out the disgusting, filthy water, and hunched down on the ground, pulling this pool over me just as Sarah shouted "100, READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!"

It was torture, hiding in that putrid pool for what felt like hours.  But I grew excited as I listened and heard my siblings running past several different times.  After a long time, I heard those amazing words "Okay Virginia, I give up!!!"

My first and only time, winning at Hide-and-seek.

 Some evenings, my dad would join in on the fun too.  It was always a little more fun when daddy played with us.  The rules changed.  We would play INDOOR, and only in the late evening, when it was dark outside. 
The best rule was that all lights must remain turned off, except for in the family room, which was where home base was.  It was a good thing that my mother loved using electric candles and had one at nearly every window, especially on the front of the house. 

Hide-and seek in the dark is 100 times more frightening as a child.  Again, I never hid in good spots because I was scared of the dark, so I would always hide in either the kitchen or living room- the closest rooms to home base.  Some of my siblings and daddy would find some amazingly creative spots.  One time, they even hid in the small crawl space under one of our bathrooms. 

Last year, Dan and I babysat four of our nieces and nephews for two days.  One evening, I suggested we try this, hide-and-seek in the dark at our house in Baltimore.  It was a real hit.  Dan went all out and hid under a pile of paint clothes in the basement. 

My second memory is that of Oregon Trail.  In our family homeschool, we were all required to read stories of pioneers and Indians and the Oregon Trail.  We would often re-enact the Oregon Trail when we were quite young. 

Our "conestoga wagons" were actually red wagons.  One year for our birthdays, Lydia and I got red wagons with nice, wooden removable gates like this one. 

We also had a smaller, metal wagon that we used.  I always felt a little bit bad for my older sisters, since they always had to be the ones pulling the wagons.  But it usually went that Katie would pull Lydia in her wagon in the front, Sarah would pull me in my wagon next, and then Martha would pull Oliver last.  Katie and Sarah always created amazing scenarios and obstacles for us to face.  Landslides, steep mountains, we even forded the river once.  We would usually bring along blankets to bundle up in. 
This particular game was amazing.  I'm fascinated when I look back on it, at how creative and imaginative (and also historically knowledgeable) my sisters were! 
Small things like this probably helped to instill in us a deep appreciation for history. 
I find that today, this imaginative, re-creation and re-enacting of historical events is missing.  Someday, I want my children to think outside of the box as well.  I want for my children to imagine how things were and how they will be, not to be shown (via movies and media) what to think or what they can aspire to be. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Reminiscing-- Part One

     I never thought that I would reach a day when I'd look back to when I was 8 years old, and feel a deep reminiscing come over me. 
However, lately I have been reminiscing about my childhood favorite activities SO MUCH. 
   As a child, I was a follower.  I rarely came up with games to play on my own.  I followed my siblings' ideas and plans.  And with four sisters and one brother to play with (my older brother was already involved in politics and debate teams when I was around this age, so he didn't play with us much), I had a great group of creative comrades.   
     Our barn was a decent size, with a large hay room, and loft as well as the pens and stalls inside.
I don't have a picture of the barn, but the loft looked something like this, with beams of different heights.
      In the late summer, my parents would purchase a lot of big, round hay bales.  I never actually counted them, but it filled up the whole room, and the bales went quite close to the ceiling.  From the very day that the hay arrived, Katie, Sarah, Martha, Lydia, Oliver and myself would spend all evening in the barn, playing in the hay.  I never kept track of time...but many days, we would all go outside after we were all finished with school, chores and piano practice, and we wouldn't come inside again until it was well after dark. 
     Each hay season, we would put on an original  "musical" or "play" written by Katie and Sarah.  These usually included many fancy somersaults and jumps, choreographed original songs, and a plot.  At least two of these plays I was privileged to play the part of a wicked person, or some such devious character.  I remember this because as we held auditions once in the hay loft, though I wasn't very talented as a solo singer (like Lydia), or brave enough to climb the highest beams (like Sarah), I had an ability to use my diaphragm and force out a truly evil-sounding laugh (or cackle). 
Call it a co-incidence, but none of us are allergic to hay that I know of to this day. 
     The property I grew up on was located at the bottom of a hill, right beside a cemetery.  Often, when it would rain for a length of time, the water would run down both sides of the road in the gutters and dump right into our cow pasture, past the barn.  Between the pasture and the cemetery was a large drain and a sort of little creek. 
     I always got so excited when I would go to bed and it was raining heavily.  I would wake up, hoping that it was still raining.  If it was, I would hope that it would continue until after we were all finished with school and free to play. 

After school, chores and piano, we would all pull our rain boots on. 

     As I recall, we would play outside until we were soaked.  I don't remember a single time going to the creek and the drain, but I know that Sarah, Martha and Katie did.  I don't know if mommy had a rule about the younger children not being near the creek or whether I was just too scared to go near it.  But I mostly just remember the feeling of walking in sludge, mud, and even cow manure, and sometimes having your boot get stuck. 
     It was never a guarantee that your boot was without holes too.  Why was that so much fun?  I don't know...but it clearly impacted me a lot.  I'm still thinking about it. 
The last reminiscent activity I'll mention in this post can be explained in just this one picture. 

    In the cow pasture, near the road, we had a wild mulberry tree.  I ate so many mulberries each spring and early summer...
    But many times, we wouldn't eat the mulberries, but would use them as war-paint for our faces.  I can only imagine what our neighbors thought when they saw six children running around our property with faces completely painted with mulberry juice, in different designs.  We stopped eating them after so long in the mulberry season because we discovered that the berries carried tiny white worms.
     Bear with me as I reminisce about my favorite childhood activities.  When I ask many children today what their favorite things to do are, it is rare that the things they list are creative, healthy OR imaginative. 
     I think that could be part of the reason why I enjoy reminiscing about my own childhood.  It wasn't perfect, and times weren't always rosy and exciting, but I'm grateful to have these amazing, fond memories. 
What did you do for fun as a child?  Think about it sometime...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Granville News Updates

The town we have moved to, Granville New York, is so gorgeous.  It is an old town, and the houses in it are beauties!  I took a walk with our German Shepherd a few weeks ago and took a few pictures while I did so. 
This photo was taken on the main street, of the sight of the old quaker meeting house.  It is no longer standing today, but this Presbyterian church is there. 
This is one of the most beautiful home in the town, I think.

Behind the library and museum is this pretty bridge, crossing the mettowee river.

I think that this is the second most beautiful home in town.  I don't believe that anyone lives in it, but it is lovely!

We are very much enjoying living in upstate New York!  A few weeks ago, we visited the L.L.Bean outlet store near us in Lake George.  We had several gift cards from different friends, and we came out of the store with a whole bag of winter clothes and nice pants for Dan- and we only had to pay $4!  Pretty amazing. 
Turns out that because L.L.Bean is typically sized larger than average, anything that is Xsmall or XXSmall, goes straight to the 50-75% off clearance shelf!  I'm definitely not an XSmall, but at L.L.Bean, I we got some great deals!
Chula absolutely LOVES our new home here.  She sometimes helps Dan to paint at the church...

And although she is fully-grown, she likes to sit on Dan's lap.

And she is an awesome ball-catcher!  Catching and playing fetch are her favorite games.

A few days ago, we drove to pick up a window that a woman was selling, and we crossed the Hudson River.  Isn't this GORGEOUS? The leaves are just starting to turn beautiful!

And to end this post, I have to tell you a funny story.  Now that I have my own phone, I like to play pranks on Dan.  The other week, I called his number after plugging in *67...that causes my number to show up as a "no caller ID" caller on his phone.  Each time he answered, I hung up.  
A few times, I would whisper something unrecognizable, and THEN hang up.  I finally confessed that it was me, after Dan told me "This person is annoying me so much that I'm gonna go to the police and see if they can track the number."
This was the face he made when I came clean.    

Sometimes, it's just necessary to have a little fun. 
I know that this post was a hodge-podge of everything, but that's what has been happening in our lives here in New York. 
I hope that you all are doing well!