Thursday, November 29, 2012

I hear wedding bells!

Yes, you read that right! There is going to be a wedding in the family!! My oldest brother Erik is going to married to Patty, a lovely girl who lives just down the road from him in Kentucky. Over the past two years since Erik moved, they have become very good friends, and Erik has found her family to be a "second family" to him long before he pursued Patty. Her older brother is his best friend, and he has a close relationship with the whole family. For a long time, however, there were a lot of reasons why the two of them being together didn't seem like it could ever be a possibility. God, in his sovereignty, held off the relationship until they were ready, and now it has flourished into something beautiful. They truly have become best friends.
Erik Ryan and Patricia Machell
I knew he was planning on proposing and I've been waiting eagerly to write this post, but the proposal itself caught all of us off guard! He was planning something closer to Christmas, but then changed his mind as Thanksgiving approached, since we were having her whole family in our home for Thanksgiving. Our family likes to go around the table and say what we're thankful for after the dinner, and so he confided only in our mom and they "conspired" to have him sit with Patty in a little bench, last in the line-up giving thanks.

"Beloved, I must know: will you marry me??"
When his turn came, he told us that God has brought a lot of change to his life the past year and that he'd like to read a poem he wrote for this occasion. At this moment her sister and I looked at each other with wide eyes and jaws dropped! As he began the poem, he spoke of God's work in his life and other things, so we lost our suspicion. But then the poem changed direction and spoke of her. At the end he got down on one knee, lifted up the ring, and ended with the final line, "Beloved, I must know: will you marry me?"

These are courtship pictures - they courted for just five weeks before engagement!
Well, she said yes of course. And now we're all talking of weddings and such! Soon I will have a sister (in-law). How amazing! I am so thankful that God has given me such a brother and such a sister-to-be.

They can't seem to get enough of looking at each other!

And here are some pictures of just the bride-to-be.

And some cute faces!

Congratulations Erik and Patty! :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

54 hours

In about 54 hours my amazing friends the Neffs will be here! Yup, that means around 2:00 AM Thursday :) My grandparents will also be arriving later that day for the big dinner and an evening together, and I am totally psyched. Today we did a lot of preparation and cleaning that's been needing to be done anyway.

So here are some things making me smile today:
~A clean house
~Cute name tags I made today for each place at the Thanksgiving table
~The expectation of lots of cooking the next few days
~Our table extended by seven - yes, seven! - leaves
~Anticipating our big house being filled with fourteen people - instead of four, which has become the norm
~Warm, sunny weather - an uncommon surprise in late November
~A whole week off of school
~Hoping for a sister-in-law sometime.... soon? Hehehe :)
~New (but second-hand) clothes that are perfect - modest, pretty, and so me
~Friends coming home from college that I miss a lot
~Good music - played loud, with the windows open, or soft by candlelight.
~Chores, especially when mom and I do them together

Yes, life is a wonderful thing. Hope you all have a lovely thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


On September first I started keeping a new journal for "little things." You know, things that make up my everyday life but aren't the things I'd write about in my long, heart-pouring-out journal. I wanted to be able to record this stage in life for my own memory's sake and for the sake of my future children.

One thing I started doing was writing five things I'm thankful for every day, and trying not to repeat myself. (I definitely have accidentally repeated a few things, but that's okay =]) Then one of my friends on facebook suggested each of us posting something we're thankful for every day on facebook, and it has been so amazing to see all of my blessings and other people's, too. Today I couldn't write just one thing though - so I decided it would be a good blog post instead. :)

Today I'm thankful for...

Being homeschooled, and all that I'm studying this year.

I love my books!
My cozy couch, with the wood stove nearby and my dog sleeping next to me - perfect place to peacefully do school.

My brothers and all my friends who are soon coming home for Thanksgiving, and for texting that allows me to keep connected with them regularly.

This was 5 years ago! I miss those days!
Morning and evening devotions - a chance to start and end my day by setting my mind straight.

Our yard at sunrise
My birthstone ring dad got me four years ago

The most beautiful ring ever, I think :)
The holidays that are coming soon - Thanksgiving and then soon Christmas!!

The biggest Christmas tree we've ever gotten :)
I am blessed, and I am grateful :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Babysitting 101

Babysitting - a word commonly understood to mean a girl coming over to watch children while their parents are away for a time. If you're anything like me, you love this word, because it means an opportunity to play with kids and make money at the same time. :) I have babysat various kids since I was 14, and as I've gained experience, I've learned a few things that make a big difference in how well these adventures go. So, my fellow babysitting friends, I hope these tips help you!

1) Know the family. It really makes a difference if you know how the parents interact with the kids. What does mom do when there's a minor crisis? You know, the kid where someone bumps their head, scrapes their knee, calls their sibling a name, or drops their ice cream. Do they get a big "Awww, poor you, you sweet little suffering angel," or do they get a big, "You're fine, get over it"? Wat "fixes" it in the child's mind? A kiss for the boo-boo or a band-aid? What is typical restitution for conflict - an apology, time-out, no dessert? (By the way, spanking is NEVER a good idea unless the parents have specifically instructed you to do so.) Knowing how momma deals with these things will help you know what works best in these situations. Also, what's a big deal and what isn't? You may have your own views on parenting, but you're NOT the parent here. You do want to have a good influence when possible, but don't try to enforce your ideas. If it's not a big deal to the parent, don't make it a big deal to you.

2) Be the authority. It comes a surprise - especially to young babysitters - to find out that they are the authority in this situation. If the child misbehaves, you don't have to beg, plead, and coerce them to stop. You tell them to stop. Now, authority doesn't mean evil dictator - you don't get angry, raise your voice, show your power, or even count to three. You simply let them know their behavior is not okay and tell them to stop. If they don't, use small and peaceable means of enforcing it (like I said, know what mom does and it will help!).

3) Take time to NOT play with them. This sounds like a weird idea, I know. But the kids need to know that you aren't at their disposal 100% of the time. You may enjoy playing with them nonstop for a couple of hours, but if you ever have to babysit for a long time, it will be too much for you. So bring along a book, a craft/project, a journal, or something of that sort. At an appropriate time, let them know that you are going to go do ______ now, so they can play on their own/with each other until you're done. Even if it's just 15 minutes, it's good for them and good for you.

4) Be the leader. Often it helps if you decide what to do, instead of asking what they want to do. You don't always have to do this, but if they are fretful, indecisive, or you have several kids that all want to do something different, just cheerfully say, "We're going to do _______ now!" And lead them in it. More often than not, they'll jump right in and enjoy it.

5) Do something special. This is a great way to be a fun, favorite babysitter. Whether you're the babysitter who brings the crafts (that's me!) or bakes with them, or brings a treat, a movie, a book, play a certain game, or something different every time, it's super fun to be, well, fun! You'll love the way they look forward to you babysitting. :)

Happy babysitting! And happy Saturday :)

Monday, November 5, 2012


And now, finally, a post about CODY! With the other two brothers it was hard to find pictures of them, but with Cody it's hard to decide which picture of him to use!

A couple of awesome photos of Cody in the rain, in a cowboy outfit :)
Yes, that's my brother, not a movie star :)
Cody is 19 years old and is right above me in birth order. This past April he moved to Kentucky, to rent a room in my brother Erik's house while he works in the warehouse for the Creation Museum. It started as a seasonal job, but soon a full-time position opened up, so he moved there for good.

Cody and his good friend Verde (whose real name is Daniel but Cody never calls him that!)
Cody is very outgoing and friendly, and has the kind of charismatic personality that really draws people to him. He also has a great sense of humor and keeps people laughing with his anecdotes and witty lines.

Cody has become known as "Cody the turtle farmer" because of his hilarious facebook videos of him with turtles he has found...  he saves them from being run over in the road - haha :)
Another snapshot from one of his turtle videos - do you think that turtle looks real??
Along with his humor, he has a lot of seriousness and a heat that is burdened for reaching the lost and reviving the church. Over the past few years God has really developed his understanding and fervor for the things of God like never before.
Having devotions on the shed roof before he moved away.
 God has given him a real eye for art and an ear for music. He uses both these gifts to glorify God and bless other people, by writing songs for the Lord and giving very artistic, heartfelt gifts. If you'd like to check out his music, visit his facebook page here.

Down by the Ohio river (a couple blocks away from their house) playing music.
He loves kids, and his vision for his future is to become a husband and a father, living a simple, honest life as the hardworking leader of his home.

This past March at our Wednesday night prayer group, with all the kids flocking around him!
I'm so thankful for Cody and the influence he's had on my life, which continues to grow. I miss him a lot but it's exciting to see God directing his life as he grows into a godly man!

Brother-sister date on his last visit home in August.