Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Double Dog Dare You...

So... my friend dared me to blog again after the little upset formally known as my last post. Then her husband double dog dared me. I have always had a terrible time turning down a dare (hazard of a competitive spirit) and so... here we go again folks!

I am going to take the easy way out this first time and post our Christmas letter from this year. If you didn't receive a card from us... and most of you didn't... then here is the year in a nutshell. Our economy (money to bill ratio) has not been so hot as of late and so if you didn't get a card in the mail... it most likely wasn't because I don't like you anymore (there is that chance I suppose but for most of you this is not the case) it is just because I am poor (or as one of my friends puts it... I chose to spend my money another way... LOL)

~ Merry Christmas 2009 ~

If you remember, we last left off (nearing Christmas 2008) with the announcement we had moved to the community of Elk Washington. We moved up just in time for the hardest winter in a half century. It wasn't long before we realized that they make four wheel drive vehicles for a reason! After the first , of what would become many rescues by our wonderful neighbor, (Ryan, we could not have done it without you) we traded in our trendy city cars for something a little more country friendly. Christmas morning we awoke to a river of snow sliding off our roof, that literally wiped out the deck railing... that is when we learned what a roof rake is... oops! The sledding on our driveway was amazing! We parked the cars at the top with the brights on and went all night! Funny thing though... it makes it really hard to drive up after you smooth it down with sleds like that... whole different kind of sledding for Ben trying to go to work and back in the morning!

After the snow melted it was time to get to work... with the help of well, just about anyone we could con into coming up here, we made some major progress. We have cleared the area around the house fairly well now and are deciding what to do with it all. The hen house is now full and producing about ten eggs a day, (now I know why there is a whole section for eggs in the Better Homes and Gardens cook book! ) although we lost poor rooster George to the coyotes. We were going to build one of those super cute chicken coops that look like an old Victorian house... but did you know that chickens absolutely reek? Yup, not putting that sort of work into something that smells that bad. Funny there wasn't a scratch and sniff sticker in the Country Living Magazine article! The eggs are great though, so they're here to stay!

We tried our hand at gardening and got just enough to really know what grows well and how to plant better this year. Amy joined the Elk Homemakers Club and one of the ladies (thanks Miss Evelyn) taught her how to can... AMAZING!!! It's not as hard as we had heard and so, so, so much fun! The greenhouse is in and so with an early start, well planned garden and the new found love of canning... it's official... Amy has her eye on the country fair! The kids are hoping to get a goat for 4H this spring (which ought to go well with the hens, bunny, dog and cat that already call this home... don't get too scared, they are all outdoors except for the dog and that's only at night, no matter how much the kids beg)... oye!

Let's see, that takes us to fall... hunting season! BJ got his first deer this year and Ben has major venison envy! With the help of some good seasoned hunters we all learned the art of skinning (thank you Bert) and butchering (the "Frailey Way" thanks to Richard). We have started to make friends and the folks at Peaceful Valley Church sure have been good to us. The pace of life is much slower here and the people are so kind and full of love for their families and ours. We are so glad we made the leap of faith and followed our dream.

So, just so we're clear... log cabin, hens a laying, homeschooled children, bunny, stray cat (that we feed, so I guess she's ours), guard dog, four wheel drive, cowboy hats, belt buckles and mamma's good shoes are her boots, it's official... The Kaeding Family has GONE COUNTRY!

Yee Haw and a Very Merry Christmas to y'all Love, Ben, Amy, BJ, Raven, Trinity and Jedidiah

(said with deep southern drawl)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Due to a series of very unfortunate events I will no longer be accepting anonymous comments on my blog. If you are unwilling to own your words... you may keep them to yourself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It doesn't grow in celephane packages...

My oldest son BJ (13)got his first deer this year. He shot it from his bedroom window on our property in Elk! I am proud to say (although I had to have it explained to me why I should be proud) that he shot it clean, with one shot and less than two inches from the heart. Then things got complicated...
By complicated I mean that gutting a deer in the dark (for the first time) and then hauling it up to the house to hang for 3 days is not as easy as one might think... if one thinks these things through beforehand... which clearly, we didn't! LOL
After 3 days hanging skinless from the tree outside my bedroom window (I spared you these shots... you can thank me later) our friend Rich came over and taught us all a fabulous class on butchering a deer... the "Frailey Way"... which we have been assured is the best way!

That's right folks... on a Costco table... on the deck... LOL
We learned a lot and honestly... it really wasn't that gross... it was kinda fun!

There's my fearless husband (aka Farmer Ben) and Rich... Student and teacher!
The end result?... Ta Da... Meat the way we are all used to seeing it... double wrapped and ready to BBQ!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fading Family...

These are the McCoy kids. My four brothers and me... I'm the baby. These photos are fading and yellow with years but they have fared better than our relationships. What happened?

At some point all the things that were supposed to hold us together... tore us apart. I look at this photo taken in front of the house I lived in until I married and moved out. Their faces are fading out of the photo but are crisp and clear in my mind. I miss them so much. I miss what could have been and what could still be but... it would take a miracle. Oddly enough the one who lives the farthest away is the one I have the closest relationship with, while the one physically the closest has chosen to no longer speak to me or my parents.

My mother's birthday is this week as well as my daughter's. My father turns 70 this year. So much missed time together. So many memories not made. I wonder how much time they think they have. I wonder what they will do when they realize they can't get it back. How many people will they loose and not think of the ones still here... longing for them. Loving them... I do not understand.

I know so many who no longer have that choice. They can do nothing to have one more Christmas, birthday, day or moment. We have the chance for all... and they slip through the hands like the tears falling from my mothers eyes as she touches their pictures and tries not to let the memories fade.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What if it wasn't true...

I woke up feeling like this (see picture on left) this morning. I met someone yesterday. I say met and yet, what I really mean is... my regular counselor was in over her head with me on some things and recommended that I go see another therapist with more experience with my level of crazy... and I spilled my guts all over the poor women for just shy of three hours. Result?... life change. For the first time I got the chance to be completely honest with someone about what has been going on in my heart and head for all my life, who really got it. She has been there and really, really got it. We dug deep, hashed hard and I came out the other side with truth. I have believed some pretty serious lies for a very long time and they were literally crippling me. In my defence I never checked to see if they were true. I just believed them. How can so many people be wrong?... but they were. I know that now and I am floored. I haven't felt this free... well, EVER! I slept last night. The kind of sleep that perhaps you take for granted. No nightmares. No muscles clenched so tight I feel like I'm made of metal. No fear... did you hear me NO FEAR! A prison with no bars is a prison still and I have been in one for a long time. I am afraid to feel this way. Who am I without all the fear and anxiety? Who am I without all the labels and questions? I don't know. I don't know... but I am going to find out!

If you feel like I am being perhaps a bit vague... I am. A lifetime of lies, pain, secrets, and fear are a bit much to explain in a blog post... go figure... but know this... Jesus is enough, did enough, paid enough... even for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Change of season...

Fall is far and away my favorite season of the year. I love to watch the change of color and it always brings a bit of change of heart for me with it. My favorite thing about fall is seeing that even as the leaves are dying, they are filled with new beauty. Even as the plants and the soil prepare to lay barren until spring they are not going silently.
Did you know that the color of the leaves in the fall is their true color? The green we see the rest of the time is the photosynthesis required for growth. It is not until they have reached their full potential and yet before they fly from the life giving tree that their true beauty, that has been there all the while can truly be seen. I know what others see as they look at me on the days when I must do and be all the things I need to, for my family to be successful, and I know that is not all there is to me. God has filled me with passion and joy that can at times be hidden or harder to see... but it is never really gone. In my transparent moments with those close to my heart all that color shines through.

I want my children to understand that they may look just like so many other people on the outside, that at times they may feel plain and unimportant, but they have already been painted by the master into a beautiful vibrant person. Someday that will be obvious to everyone who looks at them... but you have to do a lot of growing to get there and you have to stay connected to the source of all life while you do it. I never thought I would learn such a valuable lesson from Cindy Lauper and yet... if only we can see our true colors shining through.

She's our dog now!...

Our dog beautiful has one of those dishes that you can use a two liter bottle to keep "ever full". We had several friends over this weekend with their dogs and since we rarely have two liter bottles around, one of our friends tried something a little more common around these parts... and it worked! LOL

Well Beautiful... you're our dog now!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where did that come from...?

The kids are getting ready to start this new partnership school (like the one from before just closer to home) and they have two campuses... so we drove up to check out the second one this morning. Here we are driving by old dilapidated houses and "ghost town" is all I could call the string of three store fronts on the main street and out of NOWHERE... we see this!
Apparently, at some point the state completely refurbished this turn of the century schoolhouse to it's original glory and then like all good government officials... decided they didn't need it so... our school took it!
Above is the mother's room (both campuses have these) where all the moms can hang out with smaller kids. There is a small kitchen and comfy furniture. The woodwork in this building is amazing! You can see how the center of the room is lower because they added lighting. The windows go all the way to the ceiling all around every classroom and the sills are over 6" deep!

Everything is original and as BJ so aptly put it, "It feels like a big warm welcoming house" and it does! This is part of the Library. The walls of the school are filled with framed copies of famous US documents and oil paintings of the presidents.

Not EVERYTHING is original.... as you can see here in the computer lab. LOL
All the doors are really thick solid wood and they are gorgeous!

Around the back they have a fully fenced park for the children. Complete with wrought iron benches and an "old school" slide and swings.

Yes, as you can tell, I loved it.... but the children did too. They are looking forward to meeting new friends and trying out some new classes. All good things...since they start tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Congratulations are in order...

That's right, you are in the cyber presence of the newest member of The Elk Homemakers Club!!! It is official and these are some of the coolest ladies ever! We talked of canning, planning, the medicinal benefits of local honey and chickens all in one sitting. We exchanged ideas, stories and memories all for the low low price of $4 per year for membership. They started the meeting with prayer and we even said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag!!! I LOVE IT HERE!!!

The big surprise of the day was that the first lady I really got to talking to turned out to be the mother of one of my dearest friends of my heart. She and her family are living in Germany now and it was hilarious to me that I had to go the basement of the local VFW on a random Tuesday to meet her mother for the first time but hey, considering my socially checkered past... not all that strange or unusual LOL! I love you Sharon and I adore your mom! I told her I am the Amy you wished you could have taken to Ireland with you! She wanted me to tell you that she is having trouble with her connection (Ben gave her some tips that will hopefully fix it) and she loves you (yes, even after spending an afternoon with me LOL).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The sun sets on summer...

The fog hung in the valley trees this morning and we had a light frost in the garden... summer alas is drawing to a close. I finished registering the kids in their enrichment classes this morning and had to write a "what we did this summer that was educational" summery and it made me realize that it was time to get back to blogging.
So... what DID we do this summer? Well, our chickens are on a steady laying pattern of a dozen per day. I think it is safe to say that I am now fairly familiar with the egg section of my better homes and gardens cookbook! LOL I don't know what the deal with roosters crowing at dawn is, because I have news for you... they crow all the bloody time (or at least George does)!
These pics are for Miss Linda who said "didn't see any pictures of the living room" so here is the living room and dinning room. They are separated by the wood burning stove in the center.
I absolutely love my dinning room table. It is actually two put together and they both have leaves that tuck down into it. It is Mango wood (really heavy) and has a vintage finish that is fire engine red underneath the black so as it wears it will show red through... very cool.
I am getting better at the greenhouse thing... kind of! LOL We now have an orange, lemon and lime tree (one of each) and two different kind of grapes. I am optimistic that it will be a huge help come spring getting starters up and running early.

The re stain went well and we have temporarily painted the lower half until we can afford to do the faux (I think the spellcheck doesn't recognize this because it's French... I can't spell however so... not really sure...)rock.
It really helped everything look more uniform and although a little darker than I thought it would be... I'm still happy with the overall progress.
This is the product of Ben and the kids chopping for all their worth the last couple weekends. The pile goes four stacks back and we are hoping to have 6-8 more before the first snow. These are from the trees we fell our first weekend in the house
(you can look back if you want to... Nov. 08)
And so, the sun sets on our first summer here. We have had company nearly all summer long and every visitor has plotted out where they want to build their cabin. I think that means they like it here! We are learning more every day and as scary as it can be (don't even get me started on the bats... oye) it is so well worth it and we wouldn't change a thing! (yup, this was taken from our back deck this week... yeah, I know....)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sou Chef in the house!

This is my beautiful niece Alexys! She has decided to go to culinary school and is having so much fun learning to cook! She is up from SoCal to visit and is practicing on us and we are loving it!
This is her first "watermelon" salad and I think she did an awesome job... and she has decided that melon balls are not as easy as they look... LOL
Her first night here she insisted on cooking dinner for us and she was so much fun to watch! The food turned out great and she cleaned up after herself!

We went out for dinner...

We went outside for dinner that is... These are the first pickings from the garden!!! We were able to make our salad for dinner from the bounty of our very own garden last night and we are pretty excited about it!
Lettuce, green beans, purple green beans, red and white radishes, sugar snap peas...

Ben still insists that we all watch the sunset together every night (those of us who have come up and hung out with us... know that this is a true and accurate statement... LOL) and I love him for it! It is amazing to all of us that we get to live here and enjoy this everyday. It's like God paints a beautiful picture just for us every night!
Ben and Trinity snuggling and enjoying the view.

Ta Da!

The house is all one color! The stain was worn quite badly when we bought the house so we knew we would have to redo it this summer. Ta Da! It is re-caulked and stained and I am so glad!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hay... that's cute!

No, I can't spell but that is actually not the problem today. LOL We woke up to a field covered in hay bails this weekend. A neighbor asked if he could hay our field and since we have no tractor and it becomes a fire hazard if you don't harvest it we gladly accepted! They look so cute... like little packages all over the field!

My little farmer Ben could not have looked any cuter sitting on a hay bail in his Cartharts... adorable... absolutely adorable! As if living in a John Deere add weren't cool enough... he has to go be that cute. I am so blessed!

I know everyone (ok, not everyone... but a lot of you! LOL) thought that we would be miserable out here but we love it. I cannot tell you how nice it is to see the sunset over the mountains, sit out under the stars, make brownies with the eggs you just got out of the chicken coop 5 min. ago or having to close the window in the evening because the crickets are so loud instead of the neighbors next door fighting again. You just get to see so much more of God here. There is more of his handiwork than man's everywhere you look and I am so grateful everyday that we get to live here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

That's one crazy ex-girlfriend...

My friend Leslie and I saw Miranda Lambert out at the Coeur d'Alene Casino last night and it was fabulous. This was her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend tour and her new album drops next month. I am a HUGE fan and so this was seriously a lot of fun for me!
As you can see our seats were... pretty good! LOL We had to mosh it out a bit at times but it was super fun!

She sang almost all of my favorites but Desperation was the best one for me! Then we got a chance to meet her in person... yes, I know... fabulous! I got my ticket signed and she signed Leslie's Wildhorse T-shirt!

We got a chance to talk to her for a quick minute. I was shocked. I have heard of people getting to do that after the show but I have never been one of them. Maybe because it was a smaller venue? I don't know why I am just happy! The shot is not the best but we were outside... at night... what are you gonna do... well, besides know how to use your camera better... LOL!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stairway to heaven....

Just kidding... well, for us it's the stairway to heaven... does that count! In case you are thinking about buying one (as the song goes) it was about $60 (I know I always thought it would cost more too! LOL).
When we moved in this was the main entrance and we have decided to switch to using the door on the right and so...
Ben built an exact copy (not easy when the previous owners specialized in do it yourself) on the other side! It turned out so good!

The front is starting to shape up nicely and we are having the whole house re-stained this week so it will all look so much better and everything will match the way it should! I have four rose bushes now (my secret weakness) and lots of fun annuals!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Feeling opinionated...

It's been awhile since I took the time to really write something other than an update. My life has been like a box of chocolates lately. I have been neck deep in espionage, infidelity, financial difficulty, unexpected loss, and deep grief. All that, before we even start thinking about what has been going on in my personal life (LOL). I have learned some things lately about myself so as I usually do... I'm gonna share!

Being a child of God isn't easy. There are so many challenges along the way that can make you feel like you are failing. A friend reminded me tonight of how easily we are led to believe that we are hopeless. How easy it is to invite into our lives a spirit of darkness. I have struggled personally with the pain that comes when you are a house divided against your own will. It may very well be a heavy topic for some of you but here it is, the good, the bad and the ugly. There is a spiritual battle for our hearts and our souls. Never overestimate the power of your enemy but never underestimate it either. Jesus died that we might have life to the fullest. Jesus died that we might have freedom. Let not that be in vain.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why do we buy toys?

Yesterday I sent my children outside in some old clothes armed with paint and brushes and told them to go paint rocks. Three hours later... no, three peaceful, quiet, relaxing hours later they proudly showed me the colorful collection that they have made to decorate my around my flowerbeds! I think it kept them busy longer than the last DS game they got! LOL Lesson learned... Don't over think it! They are so easily entertained and I think we over complicate things by trying to hard to engage them. Keep in mind this included age ranges 3-13 and they were all out there having a blast! It got me thinking. When we lived in the house on the south hill I used to send them out with a clean (large) paintbrush and a bucket of water and tell them to paint the house. When they spread water on it it looked darker so they felt like they were "painting". They would stay out there for hours and paint the whole back of the house!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ummm... Has anyone ever seen this before?!

Remember the "giant" egg from my last post? If you don't, go look now... I'll wait.... do do do do do do do do do do do do dododododo... Ok, we broke it open this morning and although we were not sure what we would find... we did not expect this!
There was another egg inside it!!!

The egg you see in the pan is the one from inside the giant egg and then the little one was in with it.

The second egg was perfect. Good solid shell and cute little egg white and yoke! Babies makin' babies people! What?, you had to know I was gonna say that! LOL

We didn't eat them because I wasn't sure how long the other one had been there and well, better safe than sorry with food folks! We are getting double yokers about every six eggs! I am just curious, has anyone ever heard of this before?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lessons from Sesame Street...

Do you remember the game on Sesame Street?
One of these things is doing it's own thing... one of these things just doesn't belong...

Well, we had a version of that in our kitchen on Father's day! We have started getting eggs daily now but not all of the chickens are laying. The egg on the far left is the first from one of them and it well... IT'S HUGE!!! Having been through childbirth four times I am feeling for this chicken! LOL
We were also able to get about a quarter of our garden in this weekend. I think I will revise my plan for next year but for now we have corn, snap peas, tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, lettuce, yellow squash, peppers, radishes, broccoli, carrots, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, raspberries and blueberries. By growing a small amount of each this year I hope to find the ones that will do well on a larger scale next year. The berries of course are perennial but on all the others I wanted to see before I go overboard on something that isn't going to grow well.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me....

My birthday present arrived today! I have a brand new fabulous greenhouse to play with! The process of getting it off the truck was not so easy but all of us pitched in to help the poor man (yes, one man... what were they thinking?) who came to deliver it. The important thing is that it is here and has made it safely to it's new residence next to my garden.
This will allow me to extend our growing season by at least four months if not all year round and also makes growing some things possible that might not otherwise work in our area. I am really excited about this new adventure.

We went with pre-built because all the comments on the "build it yourself" models were very frightening! It seems that they are very problematic and even though this was about 10% more... I think it will be a much smarter choice overall. It has built in shelves and is built from solid wood. 10 X 12ft. of planting playground!

Happy Birthday to me... Happy Birthday to me... Happy Birthday dear
completely spoiled and blessed beyond all understanding
Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Our first egg!

We found our very first egg in the hen house today! The shell was perfect and lightly speckled brown. After having been told that it might take up to a year for them to start laying this was an awesome surprise after only a few months.
We cracked it and it was a double yoker... how cool! The kids were totally in awe (ok, so were Ben and I)!

I drove home from Seattle today with my friends three girls and they will be staying with us for a bit. This is their first time here at our new house and it has been so cute watching them discover all the country life stuff!

Then they all sat down to watch their first sunset hear together (a big deal around here at the Kaeding's) and I could not pass up the photo op!

BJ, Raven, Alyx, Myka, Trinity, Tory and Jedidiah