Category Archives: The Boys

a SabreCat bat

We had a wooden bat made for Michael’s 15th birthday this weekend. How can he be 15??? 🙂

One of the teams Michael plays on (Canton Terriers-16U team) recommended SabreCat Bats  for a good, quality, wooden bat.



We really enjoy supporting small, local businesses when we can. It was cool to be able to watch them make the bat from beginning to end. 🙂

Michael’s bat is made from ash wood, 33″ long, and 30 oz. weight.







Cutting the end off…






Michael with the two owners, Rob Roberts and Eric Thorne.


We went out to lunch while they painted the barrel red…


Came back in time to watch it get laser engraved…







“Cupping” the end of the bat…



A boy and his bat… 🙂



Thanks to Ohio HB-59, he’s able to try out for Sandy Valley’s team, too. Here he is, trying out his new bat that’s just a couple hours old!


bitterness vs. disappointment

It’s a choice I have. One or the other.

“Bitterness” reveals where my hope came from. If I remain bitter, I’m holding a grudge, having a tantrum, bathing in self-pity. It reveals my hope was in a circumstance – some concept I dreamt up. It is full-of-pride, U-G-L-Y.

But today I learned there is a difference between “bitterness” and “disappointment”.  It is truly possible to be disappointed, and yet NOT become bitter!  Probably seems pretty elementary, but I do believe I lumped them both into the same category for far too long.

It has to do with Whom I am lamenting to… When I cry to man (which includes myself), I become bitter and self-righteous.  When I cry to my Father, light is shed onto the narrow path of “accepting change” because He knows a better way.  And I don’t need to know why, I just need to trust and obey. <Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 3:5-6>

Change is hard.  Unexpected change is even harder.     

Here are just a few things His light has made visible to me today:

Just because I have the vehicle, it doesn’t mean I can make the trip.  If the vehicle malfunctions, the trip isn’t possible. If my hope is in the vehicle, I will be bitter…

Just because I have the funds to participate in an activity, it doesn’t mean they’ll get spent on that activity. If my hope is in the activity, I will be bitter if the funds are spent on something else…

Just because I’ve prepared to be absent, it doesn’t mean I won’t still be here.  If my hope is in being away, I will be bitter if I cannot go.

Just because I’ve done my homework, it doesn’t mean there won’t be hiccups.  If my hope is in my efforts, I will be bitter with anything less than perfect.

Just because help is offered, it doesn’t mean it can be accepted.  If my hope is in an alternate plan, I will be bitter if that plan doesn’t work either.

Just because I can’t go where I want, it doesn’t mean I’m not where He wants me.  If my hope is in the journey, I will be bitter about my life.  IF MY HOPE IS IN THE LORD, MY JOURNEY IS WHERE HE IS, AND SINCE I AM NOW HIS CHILD, HE RESIDES INSIDE ME. SO WHERE I AM, SO IS HE.  BITTERNESS G-O-N-E!!!  <1 Corinthians 3:11, Galatians 2:20>

Just because I feel disappointed, it doesn’t mean I can’t mourn the loss of whatever it was.  It just means I must learn how to mourn in a way that reveals Who my TRUE HOPE is in.  <2 Corinthians 4:15-18> And herein lies the lesson for me:  If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. <James 4:13-15>

I think I need to say that again:  If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. <sigh>


Not a fun revelation, but a necessary lesson.

Lord, I come before You with tears of both disappointment and joy.  My heart aches for the trip we couldn’t make today, but I am so thankful we arrived back home safely and weren’t stranded in this bitter cold.  I’m grateful we have those funds now to put toward fixing our vehicle.  Lord, You know the efforts that were put into preparing to be gone from here – You will use that “fruit” to sustain us a future day, just not the one I thought it was for!  You are teaching me how to find joy in each moment, instead of “what’s next”.  I’m now one step closer to living contentedly – the way You want me to live.  These growing pains hurt, Lord, but I find comfort in You, and You alone.  You have surrounded us with so many who love us – just their willingness to help has been so encouraging, and we thank You for their support.  And Father, there are not sufficient words to explain the beauty of watching our sons handle today’s disappointment.  Their compassion and lack of resentment has revealed a maturity in them that we haven’t seen before.  And witnessing that growth is pulling us all closer together.  Together we mourned the loss of “our plan”, and now the conversion of our will to Yours, begins.  May this serve to motivate me to persevere in “living and doing this or that”.  May my faith be unshaken.

I now know why You led me to meditate on these three passages yesterday – You were preparing me for re-aligning my Hope today so that there is no room for bitterness in me:  The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (1 Peter 4:7)  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)  Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, FIX YOUR THOUGHTS ON JESUS… (Hebrews 3:1a) 


Personalized Cooperstown ornaments

John and Linda at the Cooperstown Bed & Breakfast sent our boys home with snacks for the 9 hour drive & some fun little gifts. I was excited about these two cross-stitched ornaments. I thought it would be fun to stitch dates on the backs as a keepsake of their trip. 🙂

Downloaded a free alphabet pattern & mapped it first on graph paper. My knots had to show since the pillow was already completed, but I think it kinda adds to their charm… 🙂

Now, each boy will have their own to take with them someday. LOVE gifts like that! 🙂





Cooperstown 2013

Mike’s dad has been wanting to take the boys to Cooperstown, NY, to see the Baseball Hall of Fame for several years. Earlier this month, that trip came to fruition. Since it’s not a secret I’m pretty good at breaking things at the worst possible time, Mike made arrangements with a farmer friend to take care of feeding hay & thawing water troughs so he could be gone for 3 days. And thankfully, everything went smoothly! 🙂

The day they left was a bit hairy because of a snowstorm, but once they got to I-80 to go through Pennsylvania & into New York, the roads were kept pretty clear. It didn’t take them too much longer than the anticipated 9 hours. 🙂

They said Cooperstown was “postcard perfect”, and they were about the only ones at the Hall of Fame. They had one-on-one special attention so they got to see everything they wanted…almost. Top on their list was to see the Hall of Fame’s card display. But sadly, due to some of the cards showing deterioration, it had been taken down. Once the employees learned my boys were a little disappointed, they made it a special point to take them to see all the cards they still had out throughout the museum. 🙂

They enjoyed touring the tiny shops in the town and searching card shops for treasures… And of course, some fun meals, too… 🙂




Here are the two pics Paul picked for the post: Mike Schmidt’s jersey & a picture of Troy Tulowitzski. 🙂



Michael picked these two pics for the post: life-sized, painted wood carvings of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.



They enjoyed a wonderful stay at the Cooperstown Bed & Breakfast. I’d say they were a bit spoiled… Their ONLY guests, so they were definitely doted on! 🙂 I LOVE that they got to experience the warmth of a home on their get-away. I truly enjoyed getting to know John & Linda via email communications, and all the Roberts boys had the pleasure of receiving their hospitality in-person. 🙂 Thank You, Lord, for keeping my boys safe on their journey to Cooperstown, and for all the memories they have from this trip. May all those who make the same trek see Your hand behind it all – from gifted athletes, to helpful workers, to friendly caregivers… Amen



So what did I do with my alone time?? Oh, about 10 loads of laundry (actually FOLDED & PUT AWAY, lol…), made 12 loaves of sourdough bread & several batches of crackers, enjoyed hours of catching up on my Bible study notes, and completed a Christmas gift craft for the boys. While I truly enjoyed my “retreat”, it was music to my ears to hear the sounds of an active home again! 🙂


Pillowcases from old jerseys

While Mike & the boys were in Cooperstown, I worked on this Christmas gift for the boys: making pillowcases out of their old baseball jerseys.  As I look back, sometimes I wish I would have saved ALL their old baseball shirts from coach-pitch, up. I’ve seen some pretty neat patchwork quilts that have been made from items like that. But truth-be-told, I never even thought about it. Most likely, they got turned into rags...

But as the boys got older, they became more sentimental about their seasons & asked me to save their shirts.  It’s hard for me to store away boxes of “stuff” these-days, so I’ve been brainstorming about a “function” for these jerseys that would preserve them and yet still be useful. Guess that’s how this idea came about. 🙂

I know I’ve said before in my craft posts that I’m not fond of “machine sewing”. (I know, I know, what was I thinking about making a QUILT, lol…) That being said, this was a perfect project for me – mainly because it was pretty forgiving – whatever size the pillowcase turned out, it would inevitably fit at least one of our old throw pillows! (Which was actually a pretty cool revelation.  As I was contemplating how to make these, I had originally thought I’d need to buy pillow forms to put these pillowcases on, which would limit how many I could actually make. And as I began to get grumpy about what I figured a pillow form would cost to buy, suddenly the Lord inspired me with the thought of just covering all the old “throw pillows” we’ve collected over the years that don’t match with anything anyway! :))

When I first started making them, I thought I’d have to make measurements so a shirt would fit the pillow.  Super cool that wasn’t the case, because I’m challenged at calculating those kind of sewing details, lol…  Turned out the size of their shirts made for a pretty universal throw pillow size. 🙂

I had these done in two days & wrapped and under the tree when the boys came home.  I wondered if they’d notice all our throw pillow were missing, but they didn’t, lol… Further proof that I take too much stock in the small details of life sometimes! 🙂



Visit with my Dad – September 2013

My Dad moved to Arizona back in 1999. Over the years, he has made several trips back to Ohio, but we think it’s been about 3 years since he’s been here last. It was nice to spend time with him last week as he was in town for his 50th high school class reunion. 🙂

Limo tour – farm style… 🙂


The boys have been creating shooting ranges throughout the farm with Uncle Ben this summer. They were excited to show Grandpa – and I enjoyed watching them all take a turn. Also learned that my Dad shoots “lefty”! Which led to a conversation that he also used to bat left-handed, as well… I never knew that. Perhaps that’s where some of my leftiness comes from? Though he did say the reason he batted lefty was because it was easier to see the ball since the vision in his left eye is so poor… Grandpa did well at hitting the different targets as well. 🙂





We had such beautiful weather! 🙂


My Dad spoiled us with treasures while he was here. He gave the boys his autograph book from when he was a boy. Got to hear the story about when his Little League team won their division (in the 50’s), they had a father/son banquet where the Indians’ announcer was their emcee. He held a raffle for the team for one boy to sit in the Indians dugout for a game, and my dad won that raffle! My Dad shared his memories of his experience & some of the names we were able to decipher right off-the-bat (pun intended, lol) in his book were Tris Speaker, Rocky Colavito, and Larry Doby. It will be fun to try to figure out who the other names are. He was also given a baseball signed by the team that day, but while he went away one summer to work on a farm as a teenager, he said his younger brothers used the ball to play with, lol… It was funny hearing him tell the story to my boys. 🙂

The autograph book also contains signatures of Cleveland Browns players from when my Dad used to visit spring training camps. We aren’t football fans, so figuring out those names will be a little more of a challenge. 🙂

My Dad also brought the boys a bunch of my brother, Mark’s, old baseball cards. (Mark lives in AZ, too.) So my boys have been enjoying reading/sorting/analyzing a lot of baseball stats lately!! I see it as a sneaky way to keep their minds workin’ – I am continually amazed at the data they can spit out about players’ stats/histories. And I love hearing them talk strategy based on stats. Makes reading & math more fun around here! 🙂

A “must-stop” for my Dad is always the Minerva Dairy. Since he says cheese out in AZ is $9 a pound, he stocks up when he visits. He bought us some, too, which was an extra special treat. Unless it’s for homemade pizza, cheese is a luxury around here. We all LOVE IT, so we’ve chosen to not buy hard cheeses until we can make it ourselves or are out of debt – whichever comes first, lol… Until that day, you can catch us browsing through Heini’s in Amish Country once in awhile to get our cheese-fixes satisfied! 🙂

And then came the biggest surprise… My Dad announced he wanted to buy us a four-wheeler for the farm!! Mike & my Dad spent time searching Craigslist & making phonecalls, but there really weren’t many used ones (close) for us to look at. Finally, right before bed one night, Mike decided to check Craig’s list for a neighboring county and low & behold there was ONE listed. We went to bed praying that it might be “the one”. The next day when Mike called the number listed, it ended up being someone WE KNEW!! 🙂 Oh, what a comfort that was. And yes, it was “the one” for us. 🙂

So now it will be understood why the rest of these pics are centered around an ATV. 🙂









ATV training 101… 🙂




Grandpa has his own ATV in Arizona that he enjoys exploring on with his friends. So when he had his turn to drive ours, he drove in a way that made us laugh… I think Paul’s comment was, “Grandpa looks like an old James Bond!” 🙂



Much time has been spent in discussions with our boys on the difference between “joy riding” and “enjoying while riding”. For the most part, this vehicle will serve as a very valuable “tool” on our farm (for hopefully a really long time). Which means, it should never go above 20 m.p.h., no stunts are to be practiced, & no trails will be blazed through the woods that aren’t created first. That being said, there is nothing wrong with “enjoying” oneself as it’s being used! 🙂

It came with a snow plow, too, so it will have many functions. Mike and the boys are already scoping out our scraps to create various “toolboxes” they can easily add to the front or back racks, depending on what they are doing: fence work, transporting milk from the milkhouse to our place, moving calves next year, workin’ in firewood, etc. This will also be a huge timesaver/kneesaver for Mike, as much of his day is spent on-foot. 🙂


It was really nice to spend time with my Dad. The older I get, and the more I grow with the Lord, I see how important relationships are. Too often I’ve allowed disappointments from the past, to keep me from growing in the present. It was fun to see attributes our boys have inherited from my Dad…and I say “inherited” because they’ve only been with him a handful of times – not nearly long enough to have learned it from him by observation. Like the way they clear their throat or the expressions they use as they describe something or the way they stand or move their legs… And it was fun to all cook together in the kitchen, and watch my boys prepare creative dishes that he enjoyed both eating & watching them prepare. By far, though, the highlight of the visit for me, was the morning my Dad joined hands with Mike & I as we began our day in spoken prayer. I have never prayed like that before with my Dad. It was beautiful, and I am grateful. Thank You, Lord.


Cousin Sarah’s Wedding

Congratulations Sarah & Jake! We are so thankful we could celebrate with them on August 3rd… 🙂


Since this blog is as close as I’ll get to “scrapbooking”, and I’m HORRIBLE at printing hard copies of pictures, I thought I’d blog some virtual pics to share with family & commemorate the day. 🙂

There are 6 first cousins on Mike’s mom’s side, and Sarah is the last one of the cousins to get married. It was such a blessing to fellowship with extended family we don’t see very often, and meet some new ones, too! 🙂

Here are the six cousins: 2 youngest are on the outsides, then the 2 oldest are next to them. So the middle two are truly the “middle two”, lol. 🙂

Ben, Carole, Rachel, Jenny, Mike, and Sarah (left to right)



Here are a few of Mike with his sister & brother. 🙂



This one cracks me up! Lots of teasing goes on when these three are together… Aunt Jenny’s pretty good at standing her own ground, though! 🙂


Now Aunt Betsy’s family gathers for their pics. I love watching “the stage” take shape, lol… 🙂





A rare, family pic… 🙂


Paul & Michael… 🙂


And add in THE most adorable nephew, Sawyer… 🙂



And “the handoff” to Grandma… 🙂



A new game – “see if cousin Michael can catch the pacifier”, lol! 🙂


Well, he IS a baseball player, lol… 🙂



And now one with Grandpa… 🙂


And Sawyer’s Mama… 🙂


See how well Aunt Kristin fits in with our family, lol?? 🙂




And now Ben, Kristin, & Sawyer… 🙂




And my favorite of the newlyweds… 🙂


Paul – 13 today!

Brushing the cobwebs off the blog & getting a quick post up in honor of Paul’s 13th birthday today. Wow – can’t believe our baby is officially a teenager now! 🙂




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Our pudgy, big-footed, cuddler has grown into a tall, lanky, huge-footed, independent, & handsome young man! 🙂

I’m still hoping to get a picture of us today, but if I wait on that to happen, there’s a really good likelihood this post will never get published, lol. So here’s a pic from cousin Sarah’s wedding reception on August 3rd… 🙂


Bull in – 2013

Finally getting around to getting this posted. Here are the pics from when our bull, Cleatus, joined our dairy girls on June 9th:

Instructions from the “head honcho”, lol…

Cleatus was with the yearling bulls in “The Shire” on the left. Mike & Michael are in the adjacent field, “Prancing Pony” on the right. They are getting the bulls to walk down towards the gate that connects the two fields. Then they sorted Cleatus by himself & kept the younger bulls in “The Shire”. A little bit stressful, but it all turned out well. 🙂

Here you can see Mike leading Cleatus towards me & Paul (in “Mordor”), with Michael behind Cleatus.

Paul’s job was to open the fence to let Cleatus through once he saw him getting close… Didn’t want the curious dairy girls to mess things up!

And here he goes… I think it’s cute how the girls are watching him, lol… 🙂



We’ll keep Cleatus with them for 8 weeks. In the past, we’ve done 12 weeks, but we’d really like to close our calving window a bit. We keep track of the girls’ heats on a big piece of glassboard in the milking barn. When the vet comes this fall to pregnancy check the herd, those dates help us determine their due dates. 🙂



We are prayerful all our girls will get bred. This is another difficult part of farming – praying & waiting. Although, come to think of it, isn’t that the challenge of daily life? 🙂

Father, prepare us for what is to come for our dairy herd this fall. We pray their bodies are healthy & fertile. May our grasses nourish and sustain them so they can continue to do the same for us. We thank You for the calves and milk they’ve blessed us with this season, and we look forward to seeing how You continue to lead us. Amen.

Dried Strawberries 2013

Paul picked 9 more quarts of strawberries last Wednesday. So that afternoon I spent 4 hours cutting & arranging the slices onto our Excalibur’s shelves. They dried for 12 hours at 135°. I think they taste like pieces of fruit roll-ups, but better because there’s no added sugar! Drying the fruit captures & accentuates the natural sweetness of the berry. And it only takes a pinch of slices to add to a bowl of granola or throw in a smoothie. 🙂

It’s certainly a “labor of love”, though – a yucky, sticky mess, but I’m ok with doing it ONCE-A-YEAR, lol. 🙂