April in Review

April has come and gone, and although there has been an absence of activity here on the blog, let me assure you that there has been no lack of activity on the Bontrager Farm! =) Twelve busy beavers have been loving the farm life and working hard these beautiful spring days! 
We started the month at home by celebrating our two March birthdays, Josh (who turned eighteen) and Dad (who turned forty-eight).
After one of the parties, we had smiles + laughter around the circle as dad read aloud from a new book we were given by some friends on our winter tour. Such a classic!
Upon arrival home, we jumped right back into one of our very favorite home things ever.....hospitality! The first group we hosted was dad's family, for our monthly family night get together. We cooked food just like we were taught in Mexico (thanks to all of our dear friends there who gave us your tips + recipes!) and the meal was a huge hit.
Some of our new friends from Mexico gave us this grill before we left the country. We used their meat recipe (hamburger, bacon, tomatoes, onions,peppers, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce among other things) and it tasted just like the meat we had in Mexico!
Tortilla soup on the right burner, sauted veggies on the left.
Cheese (straight from Mexico!) + Tortilla Chips to put in the soup.
Can anyone say "yummy?!"
Cousin time!
April was also time for spring house cleaning at the hotel! A trusty crew of six of us had a grand time working hard together and getting things cleaned from top to bottom. 
Some worked harder than others, maybe. =)
No matter what work may be on the agenda, there is always time for a good game of basketball!
Ryker, enjoying the summer sunshine. He has been so happy to have us home again!
One week after we arrived home, mom left for Florida for a retreat there with her sisters. Sadly her one sister, sister-in-law, and her mother weren't able to make it. But she had a wonderful time with her five sisters that also were there from PA, NY, + FL. 
Her brother and his wife and their son joined them for part of the time.
And mom's niece and her boys came to the beach with them one day, too. 
Amongst other things, it appeared that they ate quite well!
And had a wonderful time. =)
We were so happy that she was able to go and spend that time with her family. We are all anticipating the big reunion with everyone this summer in NY! 
One day while mom was gone, Alli + I took the little girls to town for a special "girls only" outing. We bought supplies to redo our room, did other fun shopping, + went out to eat together. 
There was our church's annual youth conference. Nearly everyone in our family was involved in some way, either with games, music, photography, or food.
Judging the music competitions with these sweet ladies, and others.
The highlight of the event was having Herschel "Woody" Williams come and speak the last evening. He is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima. He shared his testimony of how he came to know the Lord and also his life story. It was incredible-such an amazing experience to be able to listen to this man.
The littles enjoyed a game with a few friends after helping mom set out the food for the speakers lunch.
Allison once again worked her wonders and won the hearts of all participating eaters with her to DIE for cheesecakes.
The Sunday after the conference we got a picture with all the volunteers in front of the set.
More company!
Rousing games around the table on Sunday afternoon.
We've had a lot of dust lately, which means the vehicles get dirty very fast!
Enter the cleaning crew!
It has been spring cleaning time at the Bontrager house, too! 
One of the cats, being naughty + napping in the flower garden while Allison wasn't looking. =)
The last week of April was garden time, big time!
Mitchell helped out one morning by edging all around the garden in our front yard. It looked so good when he was finished!
Elizabeth has been anticipating her very own butterfly garden filled with flowers that will attract beautiful butterflies!
When you live on a farm, you have all sorts of unique options for study locations. I caught Taylor out on top of the gas tank one morning, pacing back and forth while practicing an oral report with the nearby cow as his audience.
Hudson + Taylor, hard at work wedding + hoeing the raspberry bushes. 
Hudson honing his skills. =)
                             Weeding + planting + re-laying all the brick for the herb garden.
Mitchell + Carson have had a couple of custom hauling jobs.
Company again! Our pastor's sister + her family are missionaries to Africa and they were home over the winter on furlough. We enjoyed having them over one evening in April.
(Note: She is the one responsible for all of our new design projects coming up, including website, cd jacket, and promotional materials!)
Taylor is becoming quite the accomplished chef + creator of all things yummy.
Rebecca learned how to ride bike! 
We took a very last minute five day trip down to Texas to attend a family conference there. Some dear friends of ours from Michigan drove down to Iowa and then drove the rest of the way with us in our bus. Made for some sweet + tight memories! It was the first time we've ever taken another whole family with us for a trip and it was quite a grand time. 
The conference was wonderful-lots of good sessions + reconnecting with some of our dearest friends from all across the US.
Mitchell, Carson, + Denver helped out in one of the childrens programs. They had their hands full taking care of lots of busy little kiddos!
(Mitchell, Denver, + Carson are all in the back row of leaders)
Taylor + Hudson once again loved their time in the boys program.
Josh sang in the choir that performed the last night of the conference.
We arrived back home in Iowa just in time for Dad + Mom + four of the boys to take off one hour later to attend a political rally. The highlight was finally meeting Senator Cruz and getting to spend some time in his green room discussing his campaign and getting to know him.
In the midst of everything else, our hunters still manage to find time for one of their favorite hobbies! It is turkey season, and Carson + Denver have enjoyed several early morning hunts. Unfortunately, the turkeys have eluded them thus far.
Our men have been busy in the fields-disking (above) and more recently, getting the crops planted.
Getting the planter ready to go.

And that's a little recap of a few of the activities we had in the month of April. Already May is flying by and each day is full + rich with home, farm, church, + family life. We are so blessed!
"Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name."
Psalm 86:11

{posted by chelsy}