Best Friends Q&A + Pictures

Hello, dears!

Did you have a good Thanksgiving? I did! So far we’ve had one out of four celebrations, and for the rest we’re going to our old farm for the weekend for fun times and delicious food with friends and family. 🙂

Anyway, back to the post. About a month ago I got the chance to visit my dear friend, Aria, and see her family’s lovely farm. We had a wonderful time together, and this time we made sure to take PLENTY of pictures. XD Aria suggested doing a BFF Q&A to go along with them, and I agreed it sounded fun. And here we are! Get ready for some pretty fall photography and answers to a selection of you guys’ questions. 😉 After you’re done here, make sure and hop over to Aria’s blog to check out fifteen more questions and answers!

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Thoughts On… {Adversity}

 

Imagine there were once two small stones who lay near one another in the streambed of a rushing river. As the years went by, dashing water and larger rocks both tumbled over them, and eventually the relentless conditions ground the first into smaller and smaller pieces until it was an unrecognizable heap of sand. But something different happened to the second stone.

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Instead of getting worn down by the surging flood, it simply stood fast and let the water polish it into a smooth, gleaming pebble. Instead of getting crushed by the grinding force of the other rocks, it simply rolled past, moving slowly down the river. One day, it arrived at the sea, and all was gloriously calm.

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Now, dears, you can probably see where I’m going with this, but let me ask you a question: as the river of life passes by, do you let the hardships polish you or shatter you?

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It’s so much easier to shatter, isn’t it? It feels like the constant trials and pressures of life cannot help but grind us into sand. It’s not hard to just give up and give in to self-pity. In fact, it’s far too easy, for me at least. And sometimes it almost feels good, in a miserable way.

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But we’re missing the point – or rather becoming bristling full of points instead of allowing them to be smoothed away. How we react to adversity profoundly influences how others perceive us, and this is especially important for Christians. Since we put our identity in Christ, it influences how others perceive Him. If we act like God’s not strong enough to carry us through everyday life, it begs the question, how in the world could He carry us through death? We’ve got to show the world that trials don’t define us – God does.

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Here’s another way to look at it. The other week in small group, one of the men was talking about how problems can come between us and God, and he compared it to an eclipse. I thought that was a really good analogy. Our worries are like the moon orbiting the earth, until one day they eclipse everything else. Did you guys watch the last eclipse? Do you remember how the moon hid the sun? Its dark circle looked just as big as the light, even though you knew it was really many times smaller. 

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So when it’s dusk in daytime and everything slips sideways and you are falling off the edge of the world, don’t forget, dear, the sun will come out again. It’s still there, shining and shining, and however big and dark the moon’s shadow seems, the sun is infinitely bigger and infinitely brighter, and in its blazing light, all shadows fade away.

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So when hardships surround us and we do not break, when people wonder why we’re still fighting, we tell them, we persevere because we have a hope beyond this world. We tell them, because when we hit rock bottom, the Lord is polishing this rough stone into a diamond of such brilliance that it will reflect his glory far brighter than before. And we tell them, it takes harsh sand to grow a pearl.

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Grow a pearl, dear. Be a diamond. Shine, don’t shatter. And when adversity threatens to eclipse all, hold fast to the Son.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4

***Allison***

Moving On {Part 2}

It has been way too long since my last “Moving On” post, and we’ve had quite a few adventures since Part 1! So, shall I catch you guys up on the news? Alrighty then. 🙂

Let’s see, where did I leave off? Oh yes, right before our cousins came to help us paint. Well… they actually didn’t paint much, but my aunt did. XD The kids played Dutch Blitz when we weren’t needed. We’ve all been playing Dutch Blitz a TON lately, and it’s so much fun! Have you played? Not many people have that I know, of but sadly it’s pretty hard to explain without showing you… :/ Trust me, though, it’s great. XD

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So now the Cedar House is all painted and furnished and it looks GREAT! We still have a few things to fix up before it debuts as an Airbnb, but it’s come a long way. (For instance, we replaced that carpet in the picture above after I took the photo.) Would you guys like to see a tour of the house once it’s finished?

Another thing we’ve been doing is learning to use the rebaling machinery. Part of what we do at the new farm is sell hay and straw, as well as make people’s large, unmanageable bales into smaller ones. Dad runs the machinery, the boys usually get the haybales prepared, and the girls usually stack them on a trailer. It’s hard work, lifting hundreds of 40-pound bales, but it’s good for us. 😉

The hay pictures are all in black and white because the light and surroundings usually weren’t the prettiest. XD I think they look really neat in B&W, though!

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I guess Logan did help stack that time… maybe because I was taking pictures. XD

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A few weeks ago we semi-officially moved down to our new place. We still have to go back to our old farm to pack up stuff and work once in a while, but we’re mainly down here now. 🙂

Since we’re mostly going to be down here, we brought all the live things we have to care for: namely, pets and plants. 😛 I really loved how the plants looked in the back of my car for some reason. XD Does it looks Pinterest-y to you?

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They looked so pretty against the cedar siding. 🙂

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We also brought the bunnies up! Most of the bunnies stayed huddled together at the back of the truck, but Basil was hilarious – she hopped up on a cat crate (with no cat inside) we put there and stayed on top almost the whole time. What made it funny was it was really windy up there, and her fur got blown about every which way, like she was under one of those super strong hand dryers that ripple your skin. XD She didn’t seem to mind, though. Maybe she liked the fresh air.

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We also brought the cats down, but that was a little more… um, interesting. They were RATHER scared, and once Jinx decided he simply couldn’t wait to use the litter box till we arrived, so… yeah. He didn’t wait. IT WAS BAD. XD XD Ah well, we survived, and the cats are safely in the Cedar House now. 🙂 Maggie, our yellow lab, is quite enjoying the new space too, I think!

Dad had to stop to check on a vehicle at one point and I got some more lovely pictures of mountains at the overlook. ❤ You could see everything SO clearly!

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Finally we arrived at the pineapple gates. I don’t know why there are pineapples at the farm entrance, but it’s pretty funny. Especially because one of the pineapples is literally yellow and green with lichen, and in exactly the right places! XD

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In case you’re wondering if we have animals at our new farm, we don’t. Except for pets, of course. 😉 We’ll probably get chickens later (just not 24,000 like we used to have!), but for now the only livestock are the cows in the leased pastures. They’re not ours, but they are pretty cute. 😉 They also look lovely in the golden hour! Then again, what doesn’t?

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When we first started staying in the Cedar House we didn’t have many forms of entertainment, so Mom thought of Four Square! We laid out the pattern in masking tape on the basement floor, and we’ve been having a lot of fun playing it as a family. 🙂

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Another fun thing to do here is go fishing! We haven’t caught fish every time, but once we caught nearly a dozen in one day! That was fun. I’ll have more pictures from fishing in a later post.

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Ooh, and one super fun surprise we found was a box of really old letters! Part of the big farmhouse was built in the 1850s, and I believe the farm itself is even older. We found some letters from the 1880s! Isn’t that amazing? This letter is one of my favorites, although it’s from 1922, so not quite as old. But LOOK AT THE HANDWRITING. (I blocked out part of the address.)

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Isn’t that amazing?! We haven’t read it yet because it’s in German, but we should really translate it sometime. 🙂

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Now I shall end this post with a sunset over the pond. ❤ I love sunsets in general, and reflected sunsets are twice the beauty!

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Phew, that was a lot to cover in one post. I hope I didn’t leave anything important out… XD Oh well, I can always tuck it in later if need be. I hope you enjoyed the update and the pictures, and tell me…

Have you had interesting experiences traveling with pets? Have you played Dutch Blitz or Four Square? And would you be interested in a post with more about the Cedar House when it’s finished, or about more old letters and other interesting artifacts we’ve found?

Stay tuned for more posts like this in the future, because we still have the big house to finish fixing up. Man, it’s taking a while. There’s just soooo much to paint and work on. Ah well, it’s going to be incredible when it’s finished, and I can’t wait to move in!

Well, thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely day, dears!

***Allison***

~ goodbye ~

goodbye…

hiding in the hollow tree that somehow still lives on, half-destroyed;

green truck rides through buzzing goldenrod and tangled berry brambles;

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skipping up to Gram’s to get flour because we ran out… again;

sunsets leaking burning lava over the mountain ridges;

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creaming corn days, warm cardboard boxes dripping with the smell of pizza for lunch;

treasure hunts for crystals by the side of the thorn-ringed pond;

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building forts and holes and towers in a barn full of fuzzy cotton seeds;

climbing the hill to get fresh eggs, crossing the road to get fresh milk;

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family gathered around a crackling bonfire by the creek overhung with mint;

the farm rolling out from under you at the top of the tallest hill;

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art parties, tables laden with shared supplies and traded ideas;

walking under the majestic, white-boned sycamores under a clear blue sky;

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church potlucks that are feasts, where we know each face at the tables;

the succulent sound of cows tearing off mouthfuls of grass in the pasture;

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selling rusty metal parts and cow bones and broken bottles for pinecones at the island;

playing with friends in the grain bins, jumping off the ladder into the yellow corn;

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capture-the-flag games and ATC trades after church;

finding litters of soft, tumbling barn kittens and watching them grow;

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sledding down Gram’s hill with cousins and sipping hot chocolate afterward;

firefly-catching contests; flashing bits of flying gold captured in hands and jars;

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club meetings: crooked stairs, dusty seats, shouts and laughter pounding the low rafters;

rambling nature walks all over the farm with friends;

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eating picnic suppers on the flat roof outside our bedroom on a calm summer evening;

everyone gathered at the last chicken house, talking and laughing, relieved to be done…

goodbye.

_

new is a crackly word, an uncomfortable word –

 

 

it takes breaking in, like a fresh pair of shoes.

the old is familiar. it may be torn and falling to pieces, but it is love that made it so.

you know, don’t you?

when what we’re used to becomes what used to be,

the touch of change is sharp, its hold is slippery,

but oh, how can I bear to let go?

I know.

so,

goodbye, old farm, goodbye, old friends. goodbye, old life.

I’ll miss you.

I already do.

***Allison***

The Art Lab, Episode 38: Spaghetti Mountains

Hey, guys! How’s life? Mine’s good, and currently smells like pizza baking in the oven. (It’s movie night with homemade pizza. 😉 ) Wait, that was the timer… HOLD ON.

Okay, we’re good. Ha, that was an interesting coincidence. ANYWAY, less food and more art now, eh?

Oh wait, I forgot about the title. XD Maybe we’re not done with food yet… Today I want to show you how to draw “spaghetti mountains,” what I decided to call this certain doodling technique. 😛 I think it looks so neat in the end, and it’s quite fun and relaxing to draw.

Art Inspiration:

Pointillist Line Drawings of Mountains by Christa Rijneveld

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Isn’t this gorgeous? I love it! I made a similar piece using this as inspiration, and also made you guys a little tutorial if you’d like to try it yourself. 🙂

Materials Needed:

  • Paper, an ATC, canvas, etc.
  • Black pens or markers (I used varying sizes of Micron pens + a black brush pen)
  • A white gel pen (optional)
  • Some time

1. Draw some jagged lines for mountain ridges with your thickest pen (I made the lines thicker later). Make some ridges in the background and foreground.

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2. Take your second thickest pen and start filling the first mountain with “spaghetti.” XD Draw some curvy lines that all start and end at the same point, and follow each other closely. Like so.

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3. Add more spaghetti in a different direction, and connecting to the noodles you already drew.

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4. Keep adding more spaghetti in all different directions until you fill the whole mountain ridge.

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5. Now for the ridge behind it. Use a slightly thinner pen to show perspective, because things (like spaghetti) look smaller when farther away.

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6. Keep it up! After you finish that ridge, move onto the one behind, using a thinner pen each time and making the lines close together. Doesn’t it look so neat thus far?

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7. Add a sun behind the last ridge. I left a white space, but you wouldn’t have to. 😉

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8. Next we’re going to make the “rays” of the sun. Using your thickest pen, fill in the space above the sun with rows of dots or ovals.

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9. Make the dots in each new row bigger than the last…

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10. Ta-daa! You’ve filled the whole page!

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11. You can definitely leave it like that, but I added a bit more embellishment with a white gel pen. First I colored in the sun black, (weird, I’ve never seen a black sun before, have you? XD), and then rimmed it with dainty white dots.

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12. And lastly, I added some white circles to the black dots, just to break things up a bit.

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13. Ta-daa! You’re finished!

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What do you think? I think… strange but neat. 🙂 I hope you get a chance to try this, because it’s quite fun and I love the end result.

Thanks for reading, dears! Now go make some art. 😉 Oh, and if you DO make art inspired by this post, we’d love to see it! Check out this page to see how you can help us fill our gallery.

Have a great day, guys! I hope I haven’t made you too hungry… XD

***Allison***

Moving On {Part 1}

Heyyy there, guys!

Wow, I haven’t had this long of a post gap for a long time. Okay, a week really isn’t “a long post gap.” XD But like I said, posting is going to be somewhat irregular because we’re moving! Before we do, there’s a good bit of work to be done in both the houses and the new farm in general, and that’s what we’re doing right now. Going down there for a couple of days a week keeps us pretty busy, phew!

Anyway, I thought I’d make a series of posts showing our process, with pictures that we can look back on as a sort of “before-and-after” of the whole project. Today I’ll be sharing our work on this house so far, which we call the Cedar House:Isn’t it cute? This is the second house on the farm, and the one we will use as a guest house (and possibly an Airbnb later!). We’re fixing it up first so we can stay there while we fix up the main house, which will need more big-picture repair, like the roof and ceilings.

But before we get to the renovations, I wanted to show you these pretty pictures from the drive there. I love mountains. ♥

This one is probably over-edited, but I like it. 🙂

The walls were marked up pretty badly and in definite need of a fresh coat of paint. Heh heh.It looks so much better now! We painted it “Intense White” from Benjamin Moore, but the name is rather misleading because it’s more like a nice, light gray. My grandmother (in the picture below) is super good at painting and she comes up and helps us often. 🙂 I rather like this picture. ♥Oh, and speaking of painting, we painted this popcorn ceiling (you can kind of see it in that picture) in an upstairs bedroom, and the next day, it was coming down. The popcorn texture was just peeling off the ceiling, so we had to scrape it all off and sand it down. AND THEN IT HAPPENED AGAIN in the living room. It was awful, especially the fact that plaster dust gets seriously everywhere. The house was coated in it after we were done, and we had to clean hard and long to get rid of it. Woohoo.

The dust doesn’t just get on the house, it gets on YOU. See? Poor Megan. XDMoral of the story: NEVER PUT UP POPCORN CEILINGS.

I, thankfully, didn’t have to sand because I was… um, very busily employed in doing other things. XD But don’t worry, I was working. My little sister Carmen and I cleaned out the kitchen and arranged and organized the few utensils and glasses and such that we had.

It’s so funny, but we both love organizing – and cleaning too, when we’re in the mood. That day we were so much in the mood that we went on to other parts of the house and cleaned windows and swept the deck and all sorts of things. It was quite satisfying. 😛We got creative and decided to decorate a jar and tin can with painter’s tape. XDIsn’t this next picture so cute? I just find it amusing that my seven-year-old sister would do this in her free time. :’)Strangely enough, there are ladybugs all over the house, especially in the corners of the walls. But hey, I’m not complaining – I’d much rather have ladybugs than flies or spiders or stinkbugs. *shrugs*One evening when we were getting a bedroom ready to be painted, we found these strange round stickers on the wall. We all wondered what they were there for, because they were scattered all over the room and kind of blended in with the paint – they didn’t really seem to serve a purpose. But then one of the kids (I think it was me 😛 ) thought to turn off the lights and it was beautiful! The stickers were glow-in-the-dark, and it felt like standing in space because there were so many “stars” on the walls.

It was REALLY hard to get a good picture of, which is probably why I didn’t. Heh. It was much more impressive in real life, believe me. 😉Since we (the kids) thought they were so neat, we peeled off all the stickers and put them on a basement wall in the main house. 🙂

Speaking of stars, you can see so many here! Even though we live out in the country at our current farm (well obviously XD), you can see seriously like five times more stars here! It’s less like individual pinpricks and more like a whole pot of silver glitter spilled across the sky. I love it. 🙂 And yes, I did take a picture, but it’s even worse than the one of the fake stars, so I’ll save it for… uh, never. XD

How ’bout a picture of frost crystals instead to end the post? Guys, it is SO cold at both farms. How’s the weather where you live?Well, that’s about it for this part. I have several more pictures and adventures for later, so stay tuned! 😉

Has you or your family ever renovated a house? Or maybe repainted a room or bedroom? I’m excited to decorate our new bedroom in the main house – and don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll post about that when we do. XD

Well, see you later, dears, and thanks for reading! Have a lovely day, and stay warm. 😉

***Allison***

Return of the Random Photos

My extra photos are piling up again, so I guess that means it’s time for another random photography post! 🙂 YAY! I hope you enjoy!

Aren’t these clouds lovely? ♥

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We found this rather odd-looking bird and figured out it was a chimney swift. I think he’s quite weird. XD

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I got these next few photos when we all went for a ride in Dad’s pickup to go check some fields and see how the soybeans were growing. (Sadly, they weren’t coming along very well, but Dad replanted them – twice – and now they’re doing fine, I think. 🙂 )

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I love the view of our farm from this hill. ♥ Sooooooo pretty!

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Aren’t mountains beautiful?

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My little sister Carmen, holding a barn kitten we named Truffle:

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This is a pretty edit I did of a huge, puffy pink cloud.

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One day we studied ladybugs in Nature Study and went out to search for them in an alfalfa field. It was kind of hard to get pictures, but I got a few neat ones. My friend got an amazing one of a ladybug eating an aphid! But sadly, I did not. 😦 😉

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I really like ladybugs, but I have to admit – they look a little creepy when you put dozens of them in a jar. XD

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These are the kind of bouquets I made to decorate tables for a church potluck in May. It was supposed to be a “Farmer’s Market” theme, so I used a bunch of different stuff from our farm and garden. I think they turned out pretty well, and I love how this picture turned out too!

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Hee hee, well this is random. XD We made the BEST playdough ever (seriously – it is!), just for fun one day when my friend came over. It hardly feels like playdough at all, it’s so soft and silky and stretchy. (Wow, alliteration skills. XD ) You can see the recipe here.

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Another VERY random photo. 😛 I was going to do a mystery picture of a clementine, but it didn’t turn out. I decided to keep the photo, though, because for some reason I like it.

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Lilies are gorgeous, and so photogenic, aren’t they?!

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Okay guys, you are going to LOVE this! We’ve been feeding our neighbors’ kittens while they’re on vacation, and they are the sweetest, prettiest little things!

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Look at those eyes! ♥♥

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XD

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Our neighbor has a wonderful in-ground pool that she so generously lets us use pretty much whenever we want! I thought the clouds looked really neat that day, so logically, I took pictures. XD

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Ahh, I LOVE this picture! The water looks so bright and clear and… almost plastic-y. XD

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Mimosa tree photography…

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It looks like someone climbed the tree and threw a rope into the clouds so they could climb up. 😀

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Hee hee, Megan jumping:

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We shall end with one hilarious picture. My cousin said this looked like a whale farting. XD XD XD

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Well, I hope you enjoyed scrolling through those pictures, my dears! Do you have a favorite?

Thanks for reading!

***Allison***

P. S. Guess what?! My sister Megan wrote the next part of WordCrafters, and it’s GREAT! You can read it on the WordCrafters 3 page here.

Mountain Hike {Photo Dump}

Yesterday we went on a beautiful hike in the mountains with our friends. It was tiring, but so fun! Plus there was a stream and a waterfall, so that automatically makes it a good trail. 🙂 I took quite a few absolutely TONS of pictures, so do some finger exercises, get comfortable, and start scrolling. 😛

Such a beautiful view, don’t you agree?

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Ahh, so sunny. ♥

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Beautiful ferns…

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We’ve seen these weird corncob-like fungi before, but I don’t know what they’re called. We probably looked it up but then I forgot. XD

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There were a bunch of mini cascades and waterfalls like this before we got to the big one.

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A few people pictures: 😀

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The kids were splashing rocks into a little pool and I got some really neat pictures with fast shutter speed. 🙂

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I love how clear the water was!

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Ahhh isn’t this waterfall GORGEOUS?!

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I love the next picture, even though it sort of looks like Megan’s holding up the fallen log with her head. XD

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Ha ha, my brother Jeff was climbing all over the place.

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The fallen log kind of got in the way of the pictures, although it looked neat, too.

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If you wade to the other end of the waterfall you find another, much steeper and narrower one. It’s basically just a shoot of white water.

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BOKEH!

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Aww, look at the cute little millipede. XD

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Trying out my new lens on some flowers here…

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Ohhh it was a gorgeous day, and the sun shining through the new leaves was just too pretty!

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My little sister and her friend are so cute together. ♥

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As we were driving back, I got a few good shots out the window. (Surprisingly, it worked a lot better when I rolled the window down. 😛 XD )

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AHHH I absolutely LOVE this next photo! I love all the layers and shades. ♥

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*Gasp* Okay Allison, maybe you went a bit too far this time. O.o I applaud you if you persevered to the end and actually looked at most of the pictures. XD I hope it wasn’t too strenuous of a journey. But wasn’t the waterfall gorgeous? And the mountains? Ahhh, it makes my heart happy. ♥

Have a lovely day, lovely people!

***Allison***

Of Mother’s Day, Green Truck Rides, and Stampeding Cows

Hello, dearest readers, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! I hope you let your mom know how much you appreciate her hard work. I certainly do appreciate my mom’s hard work! She’s does so much for us – cooking food for seven people three times a day, cleaning the house, homeschooling five kids… so much work, with so much love and patience. ♥ Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! 😀

After supper today we went on a Green Truck Ride with the whole family for fun and kind of also to celebrate Mother’s Day. (In case you’re wondering, a “Green Truck Ride” is when the kids hop on the back of Dad’s old, restored, mint-green truck and Mom and Dad drive us around the farm. 🙂 It’s always quite fun.)

Of COURSE I brought my camera, and even got some neat pictures to show you guys. What a surprise, huh? XD (Note: I did edit most but not all of these pictures a bit, in case you were wondering.)

Oooooh isn’t this pretty with the mountain in the background? This isn’t the main part of our farm – it’s the back section which has its own barns and silos and such.

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This picture is of a neighboring farm:

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And now we’re back to ours. I thought the fields looked lovely in the golden sun!

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Maggie loves to ride on the truck bed with us. 🙂

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Isn’t this picture neat? You can see my Dad through the window and in both of the mirrors.

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We stopped to visit the cows and they all came running up to us. XD Hmm, this looks like a good opportunity for another “Rather Puzzled Cows” story… (See the first one here.)

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“Lookout to chief, over. It seems we have some strangers on the premises, do you copy?”

“Chief to lookout, over. Visitors you said? Hmm, we haven’t had any in a while. I’ll sound the alert. ALERT, ALERT, EVERYONE. VISITORS ARE APPROACHING. STAMPEDE AT WILL.”

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*Pant, pant*

*Snort, snort*

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“Eww, they’re only the strange looking two-legged things again.”

“*Gasp* Well! I’m shocked at your language, Bertha. How could you be so cruel? I think they’re kind of cute.”

“Hmph. They look suspicious to me. I shall give them my hard stare and see if that drives them off.”

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“Well that didn’t work – look.”

“WHOA STAND BACK! THEY’RE COMING FOR US!”

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“What d’ya think, girls? Don’t they look suspicious to you? Especially that one holding out the stick.”

“Hmm, I see what you mean.”

“Yeah… let’s take it slow here, ladies. You never know what could happen with these creatures. Just stand back and watch carefully. Close scrutiny is always the best choice in cases like these.”

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“OOH, OOH! Hey Bertha, should I run them through with my great and mighty horns? Huh, huh? Just let me at ’em, and I’ll-”

“Oh puh-leez. You’re horns aren’t big enough to butcher a groundhog.”

“B-but… *Sniff* Okay then.”

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“Wait. Guys. They’re moving again. HEEELP!”

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“Sheesh. What a bunch of scaredy-cows. Why did I get stuck with this herd? I mean, really!”

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XD Hee hee! That was fun.

So anyway, after the cows we went to the grain bins with Mom and Dad. It was so much fun! We took the speaker in to see if it would sound all echo-y like our voices did, but it didn’t echo as much as I thought it would. It just got dusty. 😛 The kids played catch with a sock filled with corn, everyone jumped from the ladder a few times, and we listened to music and sat amidst the corn kernels. 🙂

Here’s a couple of pretty cloud pictures to end on…

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So yep, there’s our Mother’s Day adventure of sorts. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed the pictures and my rather rambling commentary. Thanks for reading, my friends!

***Allison***

P. S. The next post will hopefully be the birthday haul post. 😀 Except I thought of a much better title. XD Hee hee!