Thursday, July 24, 2014

Garden updates

It's been a while since I've made any posts about our garden.  We've had ALOT of produce from our garden.  More then we've known what to do with actually.  We've canned about 12 quarts of pickles, frozen 6 cups of tomato sauce, made 6 cups of strawberry freezer jam, made fruit flavored yogurt from our blueberries and strawberries, grape juice from muscadines and zucchini bread. We've also eaten tons of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, strawberries, and potatoes.  We also have several herbs and onion we've used in cooking.  We haven't harvested anything from the neighborhood garden yet.  We should get tons of potatoes in the fall as well as, pumpkins, tomatoes and hopefully peanuts.  Here's some pics of the the garden and our produce.

Our Garden!

Snap Peas


The corn grew almost as tall as Dan!  It was our best year for corn yet.

The girl's with our first zuchini

The first zucchini was a big as Faith!

First corn harvest.

Our pickles.  We gave several away before this picture.  We've had SO many cucumbers.  Enough to double the amount of pickles we canned.  Plus plenty to just eat and snack on.

1st harvest of tomatoes for sauce.
Second harvest for sauce.

Blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins.

Seasonings for the sauce.

Almost done!

1st muscadine harvest.

Chopping them up.

Pulp and water.  Then we boiled the mixture.

Straining the juice from the pulp and seeds.  Each muscadine has 2-3 seeds in it.

We then squeezed the remaining juice from the pulp.

1st batch of grape juice!

Faith turns 2 months old

I can't believe Faith is 2 months old!  I feel like the last two months have been a blur.  Faith weighed 10 lbs 13 oz and 21 inches.  So she's gained 4 lbs 6oz and grew 2 inches is 2 months!  She received 3 shots and one by mouth.  We went camping that night and she had a slight fever and had a rougher night. Overall she did better than I expected. She's turning more into a baby everyday and less of a newborn.  Let me tell you a little bit about this little girl!
- She is such a sweetheart.  She always has a smile for just me and has started cooing to me.
- She loves to snuggle.  She will fall asleep snuggled on your chest.
- She has a sleeping schedule already down.  She will fall asleep between 9-10pm and then wake up between 5-6am and then sleep for 3 more hours.  She is a great sleeper so far and I feel very blessed and am very grateful.
- She has red hair that has a natural curl to it.  The roots are coming in as a white blonde but we'll see. I'm also curious to see if the curl stays.
- She loves to suck on her binky, on her hands, on anything she can get near her mouth.
-She is fairly easy going. She does get fussy right before bedtime and use to cry for hours before she would pass out at night but it is getting better and mostly she just gets fussy 30 min before passing out.

We really love her so much.  She is loved SO much in fact that sometimes all the hugs and kisses get to be too much and make her quite sad!  Charlie will lay on top of her and smoother her with kisses.  We've tried to explain to him that he can't do that because it hurts her but he just gets resentful and has started pinching or pulling on her.  The jealousy is usually pretty short lived but still is there.

Double chin!

She's getting good at lifting her head up.

Emily was helping me to get her to smile for the camera.

Here's a video for the grandmas!  Especially Dan's mom who hasn't had a chance to meet her yet.

Hannah's 1st Day of Kindergarten

Hannah is on the traditional track, not year round but our county started a new program called Early Start.  Early Start's purpose is to prepare rising Kindergartener's that did not attend preschool.  They want to get them use to a classroom setting and make the transition easier. The classroom size is only 8 students. The program lasts for 4 weeks and then there is a 3 week break and then they start Kindergarten with their peers.  Breakfast and lunch in included and Hannah attends a full day of Kindergarten 9am-3pm.  Hannah chose to ride the bus which picks her up a half a block from our house at 8:30am and then returns her home at 3:45pm.
Hannah started on July 7th (the day after Faith's blessing.)  After we cleaned up after the open house we sat down as a family and Dan talked to Hannah about starting school. Then Dan gave a Father's blessing to Hannah.
Hannah has been loving school!  She enjoys making friends.  She has two friends that she tells me about, Eva Marie and Miranda.  She loves to come home and tell me all about her day.  Overall it has been a great experience but I can't believe next Thursday is her last day of Early Start!! We did have to have a talk about boyfriends and girlfriends because a boy who rides her bus told her he liked her and that she was his girlfriend.  I might have gotten some momma bear in when I heard this :). It will have been 4 weeks since she started.  Here are some pictures from her first day:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Faith's Blessing

We blessed our sweet baby girl on July 6th. She has been our oldest baby, 7 weeks old.  In the past our babies have been between 1-2 1/2 weeks old.  As you can probably imagine, it's been pretty overwhelming every time and I'm beyond exhausted when the day ends.  We usually try to bless the baby so soon after because we have family in town.  This time my mom told me to enjoy this time and to not worry about trying to bless the baby so soon.  I was glad for her advice but sad she wasn't here for the blessing.  But it was a great gift she gave!  Thank you Mom!

Let me tell you about the day.  We had a church at 9 am so we were up at 7 am (we usually don't get up until 7:30 am.)  Dan's aunt, Victoria, was visiting and helped with getting the kids ready.  As I was getting Faith ready for church, she gave me her first smile! She looked me in my eyes and gave me the greatest gift she could have given me!  As you can imagine it started the day off with some extra sunshine!

We arrived at church early to save seats and so the Bishop could approve all those for the circle.  The circle compromised of, Ben and Vaughn (Dan's brothers), Mark McKeon and Todd Estes (our home teachers), Rick Baker, Bob Dixon, Dan Gump (all family friends) and The Bishop (who I consider to be like family.)  Faith was given a name, Faith McKenzie Clayton and a blessing.  She was awake for the blessing.  Some highlights from the blessing are:
- Blessed to watched over by a loving Heavenly Father her whole life
- When life is difficult or prosperous she will recognize and remember her Heavenly Father
- She will never need to be compelled to be humble
- She will have a strong testimony during her life and live righteously
-She will be an example to those around her so much that those around her will come to know the Savior just through knowing her
-She will be blessed to kneel at the alter of the temple and be sealed to a righteous young man.  And as children come she will know celestial happiness here on Earth.
- She was blessed to know she is loved and will be close to the Savior.

It was a wonderful blessing and I am so grateful for her.  It made me think back to a blessing I received the night before I had her in which I was told Heavenly Father was pleased with me for providing a loving home and bodies for His special spirits.  It made me so thankful that I've been given the chance to be a mother to these 4 children.
I bore my testimony during Sacrament meeting.  I mentioned how I've seen The Lord's hand in my life and know He lives and is real.  I've seen him in my life from the beginning.  As I pondered my life up to this point I saw how it was all perfectly orchestrated by His hand as I followed Him and chose to be obedient. I know it is by His hand I was blessed to have these 4 children and I know we are not done yet.  And what's amazing is that when I was pregnant with Hannah I received a blessing in which I was told that someday it would be made clear to me why things happened the way they did and that was fulfilled that weekend we blessed Faith.  I saw that I was blessed with stuttering so I could graduate early from High school, leading to me meeting my husband when I was very young and everything leading to us being sealed in the temple, to me having the desire and longing to have children a week after we were married. It took time to convince Dan that we needed to start right away.  At the time I didn't understand how important it was for us to start so early so we could have the children that needed to come to us.  And the way I found out how difficult it should be for us to have children ( my egg count is at the level of someone who receives egg donations) through the prompting to donate eggs myself.  We've only been able to have children because we started when I was so young. At the time of the blessing while I was pregnant with her I was questioning  not finishing my Bachelors was the right thing and the fact there was so many complications if we had jumped in too soon. He IS real, I can not deny it.  Our Savior lives and he loves us. His hand is in our lives.

Dan's two brothers and their families stayed for all 3 hours. It was fun getting to spend that time with them.  We then came back our house to have a lunch of pulled pork, jello, chips, corn, potato and pasta salad, and a fruit salad.  Becca and Shalyse helped so much by making and bringing most of it.  Becca helped to made decorations for the open house we had in the evening.  They helped SO much to make it as less stressful as possible which I am so thankful for!

After the lunch everyone went home and we got ready for the open house.  We invited pretty much the whole ward and friends who we knew from other wards.  It was so fun to see everyone and we had a great turn out.  It was our first time having an open house with a blessing but I felt like it would be the easiest way to include all of our friends.  We did a dessert potluck so all we had to do was provide the locations, seats, drinks and paper products.  Everyone could come and go as they pleased.  I really enjoyed getting to chat with everyone.  After being released and having a new baby I hadn't had a chance to see several of them for a while. It was a great day.  We ended the day with getting ready for Hannah's first day of school.  That I'll make into another post! Here are pictures from the blessing day:

We tried getting pictures of all the cousins.........I had to add all of them because it was pretty much a lost cause and it makes me chuckle just going through them!

This is the dress she was blessed in as well as Hannah and Bella.  The dress in the pictures above is the one I bought in case I couldn't fix this dress (it was torn by a 3 year old trying wear it as a dress up ) and wanted to use it for after the blessing.

Dan called the flower a 'spiritual satellite" it was so big on her!