We managed to get the painting all done upstairs. We moved up the furniture for two of the bedrooms on Saturday. The floor was laid in daughter Susan and Verena’s bedroom, and Elizabeth’s room is all redone. Susan and Verena’s bedroom still needs more shelves put up in the closest. Their room also needs closet doors and trim, but for now we will call it good enough. Joe wants to get the floors laid in the other two bedrooms and then they can move up as well.

Jacob and Emma and family and the girls’ special friends have been assisting us with our work. The children made a lot of trips up and down carrying smaller things while the men handled furniture. I need to find a few more dressers for the boys as they need more room for their clothes. We are gradually getting these things replaced. Also we appreciate all the things that were donated to us. And a big thank-you for the help from readers. There are some things the boys had that we don’t think about until we need them. Benjamin and Joseph just remembered yesterday their luggage bags on wheels were also burned in the fire. We gave those to them for their birthdays last year. We gave them before their birthdays in July so we could take them on our trip to Florida. So much easier for everyone to have their luggage separate. We are very fortunate, though, to still have a house. Before moving some of the things upstairs, we are starting to clean items that were in the girls’ closets before them moving back upstairs. Our hands really get black from cleaning the smoke off of some things. Every box, etc., has to be cleaned.

Next week Joe will have a week off from the factory. It will be nice to have a week without a schedule. Joe would like to camp and do a lot of fishing on his week off. He said that if he stays home he just thinks he has to stay busy working on the house. This past weekend a friend offered us to use her cabin by the lake, and we decided we would go. We all will be glad to get away for a while. The children are most excited about being able to go swim every day. We will probably also set up a tent for whoever wants to sleep outside. Family times are so important. Too often we get so busy with our work that we don’t take the time to relax and be together as a family. It has been a hard, stressful past year, so I think getting away will be good for all of us.

I want to thank readers for all the prayers, encouragement and donations to Verena and Loretta and all of us. It helps knowing that others care. One reader wrote to us from experience because she has a son with muscular dystrophy. She said it will take acceptance over and over again but always let God be your guide. Letters like that mean so much. The children are pitching in extra hard to get the garden cleaned and the other work caught up before next week. Kevin is counting the days and says he is going to catch a really big fish. He has such a big imagination. He can be outside for hours entertaining himself. He always has the dogs Buddy and Rover with him. I was telling a friend one day that our baby will be in first grade this fall. After my friend left, Kevin asked, “Mom, why do you keep telling everyone I’m your baby when I’m almost 7 years old already?” He said, “I am too tall to be a baby.” Needless to say he keeps us smiling with the stuff he comes up with.

The 63 baby chicks we got a few weeks ago are really doing well. Twelve will be for butchering and the rest are laying hens.

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