Christmas Eve at Our House

Chelsy's and Hudson's appetizer pizza concoction was a wonderful blend of cheese, garlic, red onions, and cream cheese.

Carson made some incredibly yummy onion rings.

Does anyone notice a problem with this picture?:)

Mitchell made these lovely cups using broccoli, salami, pastry dough, homemade mayonnaise, and other yummy ingredients.

Denver had fun making breaded, grilled shrimp with a delicious sauce for dipping.

Other delectable appetizers were:
~Layered Nacho Dip with chips (made by Joshua)
~Stuffed Mushrooms (Mom and Liz)
~Sweet Pepper Dip (Taylor)
Of course, we had to serve some fresh veggies, too!  (Somehow, most of the recipes we made seemed to consist more of cream cheese, cheese, and other such yummies than veggies.)

This year we had pound cake, pretzels, and fruit dipped in chocolate fondue for dessert.

Christmas eve traditions:
- the day is spent (mostly) cooking
- each of the older children prepare (or help to prepare) an appetizer for the evening meal
- everyone wears formal clothes to dinner
- the table is set with linens and goblets
-dinner is eaten by candlelight


"Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:11

:: the children recite their verses for the family ::

For the past several months, Mother has been helping the younger children memorize 26 verses- one verse for each letter of the alphabet.  The promised reward (when they completed memorization) was an ice-cream party for the whole family.  (Of course, everyone was delighted with that arrangement!)  Finally, Denver, Taylor, Liz, Hudson, and Rebecca individually quoted the required 26 verses.  We celebrated with Breyer's ice-cream topped with peanuts and chocolate sauce.  (recipe below) 

Bontrager's Chocolate Ice-cream Sauce:
8 oz. Hershey's dark chocolate chips
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil on very low heat.  Serve over ice-cream.  What we love about this recipe is that the chocolate sauce hardens when you put it on ice-cream!  The little children (and the big) think that is so cool!  


Life continues......

{even when you don't update your blog.}

I have several excuses to offer before I give you a glimpse of the past few weeks at the Bontrager house!  
#1: We have been ohh.....so busy.  Ok, you didn't like that one?  Try.......
#2: We have had two computers crash in the last month, and, as a result,  many of our pictures from the past few months are still floating around somewhere in cyberspace.  

And now, I would like to share pictures (the few that we do have) with you:

 Hudson and I had a special time together making "Little Mexican Quiches" for Sunday evening supper.
 In the midst of all the hustle and bustle around here, my dear mother still makes time to love her "little ones" and teach them about Jesus.
Denver accomplished his goal of milking the cows "by himself" before his 11th birthday.  He did a great job!

 Well..........the cows are a big part of our life, so why not show you a picture of them, too?;)
Rebecca is growing up so much, and I just love her sweet and willing heart.  She truly delights in helping and serving others.

 And this is our incredible gift from God (more about that later.)

 Denver's birthday party was a fun evening of celebration and family time.  Our current birthday traditions:
-the birthday person's meal of choice
-a special dessert, usually cake and ice-cream
-a time of everyone sharing what we appreciate about the birthday person
-opening gifts....of course!
-a game chosen by the birthday person and played by the whole family

Taylor and Denver have been "pigeon hunting" on our farm recently.  One night we were privileged to have a taste of the meat.  ::grins::  Let's just say, it was received with various degrees of enjoyment.  One family member declared it "the best meat he has ever had!".  Others were not so sure.......


Upcoming 2011 Travels

We're preparing to head out in just a little over a month, and are posting this to let all of our blog readers know where we are going! If you live in any of the below listed states and would like to host our family in concert at your church/area, please contact us as soon as possible to get on our schedule for 2011! We hope to see many of you in the next year as we travel across the miles!
January&February&March 2011......Southeast US
June&July 2011.......Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota/Dakotas/Manitoba/Ontario
April 2011.......Missouri/Arkansas


Happy birthday 15th birthday, Carson!

This post is a little belated, but, "Better late than never!"

Things I love about Carson:
-He has a wonderful, dry sense of humor.  
-He takes time for his little siblings; just this evening, he sat down to play a game of "memory" with Rebecca.
-He loves the Lord and seeks Him.  
-He is a man of honor.
-He witnesses and speaks to others about the Lord.

"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called." (I Timothy 6:11-12a)


A New Violinist

Several weeks ago, Elizabeth started playing violin.  Her little 1/2 size violin is beautiful! 


"Praise Him with stringed instruments.  Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.  Praise ye the Lord." (Psalm 150:4b&6)


For those in Iowa......

Vote NO on the Activist Supreme Court Justices

   In April 2009, we witnessed the Supreme Court of Iowa blatantly take 
and use power that did not belong to them.  The Court legislated from 
the bench and in effect changed our constitution as they invented what 
they called a “previously unimagined” right and declared Iowa a “same- 
sex” marriage state.  Even if the current law had been legitimately found 
to be unconstitutional, we then would be legally bound to revert to prior 
established law, which was one-man/one-woman common-law marriage. 
The court clearly overstepped its bounds, because it is the Legislature 
that makes the law, the Governor that executes the law, and only “we 
the people” can amend the constitution. 
   Our law allows for a check and balance of the Supreme Court through 
a retention vote by we, the citizens.  These justices were wrong to 
effectively amend the constitution without the consent of  “we the 
people.” Do you want justices in office who clearly do not regard the 
opinion of the people of their state and who have no desire to uphold 
160 years of Iowa law and preserve our constitution?  If it is not your 
desire to have officials such as these running our state, then please 
vote NO for the retention of these justices on Nov.  2. 
   This election is crucial to the future of our state.  If  courts can  redefine 
marriage as they have done in Iowa, ignore constitutional amendments 
as they did in California, and strike down illegal immigration law as they 
did in Arizona, then they can redefine who should pay taxes and how 
much, how we educate our children, who can own and carry a gun and 
whose private property rights get protected – or do not. 
   If you vote NO on all three Supreme Court justices who are on the ballot 
Nov. 2, not only will you be saying that you do not want the current 
justices to retain their power, but you will be sending the message to 
other elected officials that “we the people” will hold them responsible 
for their actions. 
This election will greatly impact the future of the citizens of Iowa.  
Please remember this and consider what principles you are standing 
for as you vote on Nov. 2. 


Fellowship with friends

Hudson, Elizabeth, and Jullianne

While in Indiana, we were blessed to visit the Brubacher family for a short time.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch and the few hours of fellowship.  Thank you, Brubacher family, for your sweet hospitality! 


Happy Birthday, Hudson!

Our sweet Hudson turned 5 years old today!  He has grown up so fast.  Since day #1, Hudson has been a sweet and cuddly little {big} guy.  We have seen Hudson grow up incredibly these past few months as he has taken on the responsibility of helping with the calf chores.  What a blessing he has been to us!
At his birthday party this evening, we all said something we like about Hudson (or "Huds", as he is often called.)  Here are some of the things that were mentioned:

- Hudson's sweet smile
-His diligence with his chores
-His love for snuggles and cuddles
-His cheerfulness
-How he plays with his sisters 
-His helpfulness

Hudson, we love you and are so thankful that God placed you in our family!


Daily Life on the Farm

This gives all of you, our dear blog readers, a peek into a normal, typical day on the farm.
People wonder what we do that makes us SO busy?
(I know, I shouldn't be laughing at that often-asked question....but if you all lived on our farm, you would laugh, too!)


Our dearest mother......

had a birthday today!


I wish I could describe just how lovely my mother is.  She has taught me so much.  Her loving example and words of wisdom have oftentimes guided me towards the truth, and I am forever grateful for her selfless servanthood and Godly example.

These are some of the things I love most about my mother:
~The way she gets up early in the morning and spends time with the Lord.
~Her smile and laugh: when Mom gets a "laughing fit"........well, let's just say she "takes her medicine in big doses";).  (referring to "Laughter is good medicine.")
~Her w o n d e r f u l cooking!  Some my favorites that she makes: garlic and butter green beans, apple salad, and apple danish dessert.
~The way she teaches so naturally: while working in the garden, driving down the road, or cooking in the kitchen.
~Her spontaneous personality.  Just this morning, she decided to play Scrabble with some of the boys as part of their school- "just because it was her birthday and she wanted to"!
~The emphasis she places on relationships.  Awhile ago, she started taking us children out for lunch individually every once in awhile.  One of her favorite parts of the day is "Bible time", when she and the younger children sing, memorize Scripture, and learn character qualities.  Her relationships with Jesus and with her family are her priorities.
Proverbs 31 says that "Her children will rise up and call her blessed."  We rise up and call you blessed, Mother.  Thank you for your sacrificial investment into our lives.  We l o v e you!

PS.  And, yes, I know she looks MUCH too young to be "forty-something"!  Several weeks ago Mother and I (Allison) were at the checkout line at WalMart and the cashier asked if we were sisters!  It was too fun to smile and say, "No, she's my mother!"  I love it.:)

~posted by Allison


Indiana Memories

Last week we spent several days singing in Shipshewanna, Indiana.  While there, we sang twice per day, and somehow, managed to come away without any pictures that capture the craziness that was sandwhiched in between it all.  What Chelsy did manage to photograph were some of the special memories we made.  So, as you look at these, try to imaging us getting ready for two concerts per day, going to bed at midnight (our evening concert was at 9:30), setting up and tearing down instruments and other equipment, and driving back and forth from town and the cabin we stayed at.

 Liz and Rebecca posed for some pictures with their friend, the bear.

 Denver and Hudson are HUGE fans of anything and everything f o o d related!

 =It was so special to spend some time with "Aunt Dee", our officially adopted aunt and most wonderful "Super-Nanny" at the Bluegate!

 This is one of our newly discovered "favorite spots on earth".  Pictured is the view from the back porch of the cabin.

Glorious fall colors!


Lovely Little Ladies

Chelsy snapped these pictures several Sundays ago when Rebecca and her friend, Bria, happened to be matching for church.  

Rebecca (3 yrs) & Bria (4 yrs) 


How thankful I am for little girls.......their happy giggles and sweet smiles are such a joy! 

Doughnut Recipe

As requested, we are posting the recipe we love for doughnuts!

Turn on some music, pull out the aprons, get the family together, and have fun!  Don't worry if there's powdered sugar all over the kitchen, or if you burn a few doughnuts in the process of finding the correct oil temperature!  This is such a fun activity and a great way to involve family members who don't normally "cook". Because the oil is very hot, frying the doughnuts is best done by Mom, Dad, or the older children.  But even your toddlers can help roll out the doughnuts or dust them with powdered sugar.
Without farther ado, here is the recipe.

~Bontrager's favorite Doughnuts~

Soak for 12-20 hours:
3 cups yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
10 cups flour (We used mostly hard flour wheat flour and a little spelt)

After soaking add:
1/2 cup warm water mixed with 2 tbs. yeast
2 tsp. salt
4 eggs, beaten
enough flour to make a nice dough-at least 4-8 cups (We used unbleached white flour.)

Knead dough and then let it set until double in size.  Roll out on floured surface and cut into doughnuts.  Put on trays and let set until double in size.  And don't forget the holes!  We think they are the best!  Fry doughnuts (and holes!) in safflower oil (at 365 degrees) until golden on top, then flip and fry the other side until golden.  (Another kind of oil could be used, as well.)  Once fried, we like to roll the doughnuts in powdered sugar.  They are wonderful eaten fresh with milk or apple cider.  

This recipe makes approximately 70 doughnuts.  We enjoy making plenty to share with neighbors and friends.  Left-overs are also great for breakfast the next morning!
If you make these, we'd love to hear about it! 

posted by Allison



~ d o u g h n u t s !~

Each fall, we have this tradition.  When the weather starts getting chillier and the leaves begin to fall from the trees, we mix up some dough, pull out the oil, kettle, and pans, and make some doughnuts!  
Here are some pictures of "doughnut-making day."  It was such fun........that "hissing and bubbling" when you drop the doughnuts into the scalding hot oil, the powdered sugar all over the kitchen, the discussions about why the doughnuts are too dark and if the oil is too hot or not hot enough, the reminders from Mother to "not lick your fingers" while you roll the doughnuts in powdered sugar, the delicious taste of a fresh and hot doughnut with a cup of milk, the fun of sharing the finished products with others, the utterly "fried" (like MacDonalds?) smell you are left with.................it all combines for wonderful memories! 

Elizabeth helped to cut the doughnuts out.

-working together-

Don't those look "scrummy"? (scrumptious/yummy= a word that I heard from a dear friend.  It seems to be a wonderful description!)  Needless to say, we ate plenty of these delicious treats before the end of the day!  

~posted by Allison


4th Annual Homeschool Family Camp

The 4th Annual Homeschool Family Camp has come and gone, leaving us with new friends, renewed vision for family, and a host of wonderful memories!
The theme verses for camp this year were 1 Corinthians 16:13-15, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the household of Stephenas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.)"
Throughout the evening sessions & mother/daughter & father/son time, we discussed "how to watch and stand fast in the faith", the meaning of true, unselfish love, and what it means to be "addicted to ministry". 
 We were so blessed as we watched the Lord bring these 17 households together to camp.
What a rich, spirit-filled week it was!
::Mother/Daughter Sessions::
::Father/Son Sessions::
This year the father/son activity was building potato guns
::Evening Sessions::
::Family Music::
::The Halarious "True or False" family game::
The little girls had all just gotten their hair done, and it was so cute to watch them pulling and their curls bouncing! :)
::Hair Salon::
(we figured since the guys got to do potato guns....the girls should get something special, too!:))
The youngest camp attendee this year was just 2 weeks old. Lillian was so precious, and I held her every chance I got!
::Yummy Food::
Village Creek Camp has an amazing cook who has cooked for our group all 4 years we've done the camp there. Everyone was VERY well-fed and the meals were, as always, a huge hit, especially for all those teenage guys!
::Bungee Trampoline::
::Mighty Mighty Scoop Noodle Challenge~the camp favorite!::
::Family Hike::