Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 A Year in Review in pictures

We had a blessed and totally unexpected year this year.  If you had asked us in January if we would move this year, we would have said, "Absolutely not!"  We were happy and content with the old place.  But God has his way of moving one along at the right time. We have been so blessed!!

JoAn spent the year working as a mother's helper for a family.  They have a delightful set of twins and four young girls.  Michelle works part time for them doing house cleaning.  

This year the Boss and I attained a half century of living.  We have arrived relatively intact and healthy for which we praise God.  

The children arranged a surprise birthday party for us, halfway between our two birthdays.  They managed to pull off a true surprise!  

They made a superlative meal and dressed up as the servers.  It was such a lovely time.  Michelle was the driving force and definitely has a future as a party planner if she wanted to.

To further celebrate, my DH and I went to AZ and NM to visit relatives and do some sightseeing.  We were really glad to see my DH's parents and his sister's family whom they live with.  It  was a wonderful trip and the first time we had been away without the kids for more than an overnight in about 23 years.  IT definitely was time!

Our family continued in Speech and Debate.  It was a great year!  In the final tournament, Thomas and his partner won the debate competition.  He also came in second place in Prose interpretation.  He is becoming an accomplished speaker.  T-Bob won first place in the JV Great Speeches in the last tournament as well.   We are looking forward to another year in speech and debate.

We were delighted to have my niece visit the family from Boston.  We did the annual cousin line-up while she was there.  There are 2 missing from the picture.  One has grown up and moved away and the other (Sadie) was sick.  It is neat to see the children growing up together.

This year T-Bob turned 13.  He was happy to be able to share his birthday with his cousin Katrina.  They are close in age and close friends They had a great time celebrating together.  

Paul with the C3 team
This summer Paul went with an evangelistic team  up to Canada.  They worked with different churches doing outreach into the community.  He had a wonderful time and really grew up a lot.  It has been so nice to have him back home though.  He is a hardworking young man!  He is planning to go to a local community college this spring. 

In June it was with sadness and rejoicing that we sent off my sister's family back to the Philippines.  Sadness because we miss them a lot, but rejoicing that they are where God wants them.  There were a lot of tears as they left.  We sure do miss them.  Especially at the holidays!

We had the fun experience of having the National Senior Games in Cleveland.  My husband's cousin's in-laws were participating and came and stayed with us.  We had a great time getting to know them!  They competed in horseshoes, tennis and table tennis in the 80-84 division.  They won several awards and medals.  It was fun to learn that Mr. Stadem had actually been in the same graduating class at the same school as my mother-in-law. Small world!

In August, we bought the farm.  What a great way to celebrate our 25th anniversary!  It has meant a huge amount of work for my DH!  He had to get the farm ready to be moved into and he then has to get the old house ready to sell.  This has been a huge project and has involved him working 70-80 hours per week!  He can't wait to be done and able to stay home and enjoy the farm!

We did manage to get away for a short week for a Family Bible conference. This is something that we have done for the last 5 years for a family vacation.  The downside was that it was not as restful as it usually is.  We spent the time on the phone and texting and faxing in the process of negotiating and finalizing the farm purchase.  We actually had to come home a day early so that we could get a loan in process before the weekend was over.  It was very rushed as the seller was in a hurry to be done with the selling process.  It was the  estate of his step-mother-in-law.  We were just blessed to have it all work out.  It was definitely a God thing.

In September, Elizabeth and I got to spend a day together at the Detroit Zoo.  We had such a nice time.  I really enjoy her a lot.  She is very sweet and is growing up so well.

We moved to the farm at the end of October.  It has been so peaceful!  I know we are still in the 'honeymoon' stage, but it feels like  we are living on vacation.  The children have room to run.  There are things to do outside and they are definitely spending less time on the computer.  It is a nice change from the city farmhouse!

This is something I never thought I would see!  My husband in a field of crops on property that we own!  He was raised a total city boy!  He was never open to thinking about moving anywhere but closer to the city,  I am still not sure what changed, but whatever it was, I am really grateful for it.  He is really enjoying it also.  He has a  great time driving the ATV through the fields and doing things with the kids.  We are looking forward to having the other house sold.

In November, we brought the chickens home to roost.  They are loving farm life as well.  I get real joy in seeing them wandering around the back yard.

A first for our family, is having someone play on a sports team.  T-Bob is playing on a local junior high basketball team.  Thomas goes along and participates in practices also.  T-Bob has been a starter and is becoming a good defensive player.  Both boys have been spending a lot of time practicing at home.

This year Michelle started a bow making business.  It has been off to a slow start but as more people learn of it, she anticipates it growing.

Reagan and Car

We have enjoyed living closer to my brother and his family.  They are country neighbors.  He is the one who found this farm for us.  It is really nice to spend more time with them and their family!

From our family to yours, Have a wonderful and Blessed New Year!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day on the Farm

(Please remember that this blog is written for my family that lives far away.  This is a post that is full of pictures of my family and probably won't be real interesting to the rest of you.  LOL) .


 I'm dreaming of a White Christmas.... cause  there was only a skiff of snow on the grass.  Can you see the faint trace of white on the grass?  There is some settled on the ice.  The entire pond was frozen over.

We set the kids table up in the living room.  We served buffet style off the peninsula.  This worked well after we shifted the dining room table over.  It worked so well that we did the same thing for dinner.  The cousins seemed to enjoy their table. Everyone is growing up and they are becoming friends, not just relatives. I appreciate that.

These two gals proclaim themselves 'best friends'!  They really enjoy playing together.

T-Bob spent his afternoon shooting his bow and arrows.  He really is enjoying them.

Elizabeth loves being outside.  She really prefers that to hanging out in the house.  She and Levi spent most of the afternoon  playing outside.  They were tormenting the hens.  They had a hen on the end of the pitchfork.  Not impaled, but riding up and down like she was on a teeter-totter.  They were very happy when I got the ATV out and gave them rides out back over our bumpy fields and through the streams.  Things were frozen so at least we didn't get wet, as sometimes happens.

Joel loves his hoodie.  It has changed his image.  He spent the day playing Risk on the ipad with Uncle Nathan and Paul.  I think they spent 8+ hours playing.  And after eight hours I don't think they were any closer to determining a winner than when they started. It was totally equal.  All three had strong positions.  But they had fun doing it!

Michelle and Car had breakfast together.  Car was excited to get to sit at the big kids table.  He spent most of the time during the present opening time sitting in a box, turning his new flashlight off and on.  He showed it off to everyone.  It made noise too, if you pushed a button.  He loved it!

This is my brother and his wife, the other Michelle.  They were late for breakfast this year again, even though they only live five minutes away.  Guess it isn't the distance that makes a difference. Haha! They brought a long an amazing baked blueberry french toast recipe.  It was yummy.  It was the only non-GF thing on the breakfast menu.

Michelle made some amazing GF nut rolls and cinnamon rolls and monkey bread.  Everybody enjoyed them!

Isaac loves to be read too.  He has learned where we keep the board books and gets them right away when he comes.

Mary and Joseph (from the nativity skit) also enjoy time together as friends and cousins.  Ian got his Lego set put together before he left.  He liked his Christmas gift!

Guess what Grandma got for Christmas?!!!  A camera!  She was learning how to use it.  She practiced a lot during the gift opening.

Car kept posing so nicely to have his picture taken.  He is such a cutie.  A very happy boy!

This was the 'hoodie' Christmas.  All the guys, except my DH and Nathan, got a hoodie for Christmas.  This was the industrial model that my brother got.  The metal tips on the strings were like lead weights and could almost take an eye out.  This is a serious hoodie!

My Dad got a T-shirt with a picture of our farm on it.  I got the same thing for my DH and Paul.  I really like them!

Here is T-Bob in his new hoodie.  He has worn it almost non-stop since he opened it. He says it is super warm.  He has been wearing it outside as his jacket and seems to stay warm even though he is outside for a long time.

My sister in law is a happy lady.  She is a good mom and wife.  I am glad she is in our family!

Dad and Sadie looking at the calendar he got from my sister in the Philippines.  We did get to chat with them on facetime before breakfast.  It was good to see and hear from them.  So nice to see family even if it is only on the computer.  They had to sign off and head to bed as we sat down for breakfast.  There is a 13 hour time difference currently.

Miss Sadie and Isaac spent a long time playing with our plastic nativity set.  They kept fighting over baby Jesus.  Something is just wrong about that!  We got this set about 20 years ago when our oldest two kids were little from my Aunt Vernice.  It is neat to have toys that have  long term play value.

In the evening, some people played pinochle, and others played Big Boggle, and of course the Risk people kept going right up until they had to leave.  It was a lovely day!

We had a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve

The boys taking a break and playing Risk on their iPad

Christmas Eve is traditionally a very busy day for the Mangos.  We have all the last minute gift wrapping and house cleaning.  There is also a tremendous amount of food preparation.  We always have a big dinner on Christmas Eve with just the Mangos, and we put on the Christmas brunch for the whole family on Christmas morning.  Everybody comes to our house for Christmas Day.  With my sister and her family in the Philippines, that meant there would 'only' be 20 people here.

Our Christmas snack

Instead of our usual super big meal for Christmas Eve we decided to simplify.  We had a later lunch which was just some appetizer type stuff.  Different cheeses, sausage, olives, rosemary almonds, and crackers (regular and GF) were a tasty treat.  We also had some soup.  We nibbled as we worked.  One thing I like about holiday cooking is that the whole family becomes involved.  Everybody pitches in and helps.  The kids select which dishes they want to make.  We all help with the prep work.  We put some Christmas music on ( The CelticWomen's Christmas music got a lot of play here as well as Andrea Boccelli) and worked away.

Christmas Tree right before we opened gifts

We had hoped to have an early supper, but as usual, that didn't exactly happened.  We sat down to eat around 6.
Christmas dinner- filet mignon with boursin cheese, scallops in cream sauce, mini baked potatoes, blackberry jello with fresh berry sauce, and yummy carrots.  There was also shrimp.
We set the table with our china and have a leisurely meal.  Filet Mignon and some type of seafood is our traditional meal.  We get our filet mignon when we buy our whole steer in the fall.  We save it for Christmas.  It is looked forward to by everyone.  So yummy and tasty.  I think it is the children's favorite meal of the year.

Paul certainly enjoyed it.  He ate two steaks!  He is a growing boy!

Thomas was super excited to get basketball shoes.  He has been playing at all of T-Bob's team's practices.  He has been working on his basketball skills and conditioning.  

This was my gift from Michelle.  She used crayon art to make it.  You mask off an area, and use a heat source to melt the crayon on the picture.  It takes a while to do it.  I think she did a great job.

T-Bob was very excited to get new basketball shoes and arrows.  He found a bow in his cousin's garage after they moved out. He needed the arrows though.  He was so happy to be able to go out back and shoot them yesterday. He spent hours doing it in the cold.

Thomas also got an outdoor, cold-weather running shirt.  He was excited!

Elizabeth was super happy to get the two things on the top of her list, a pocket knife and walkie-talkies.  Just what every girl dreams of, who lives on a farm and has brothers!  (But do note, she has her doll there beside her.)


Michelle was happy to get pants that weren't jeans that actually were long enough!  That is a real challenge for this girl.  I was happy to find them at Eddie Bauer's.  Finally, pants that weren't floods!

JoAn having a good laugh!
Everybody had a wonderful Christmas Eve.  When it was done we cleaned up and went back to cooking.  We needed to finish up the food for Christmas breakfast and put it all away as well as set up for Christmas company.

It was a wonderful day!  It really was peaceful and only minimally stressful with all we needed to accomplish.  We got it done and were in bed before midnight.  And that my dear friends, was our Christmas Eve.