We arrived home from our winter tour in the wee hours of Monday, April 4th. We were so excited to be back that some of us set our alarms for the estimated arrival time (3am) and got up at that hour and never went back to bed (well, one or two of us may have been so excited that we woke up without alarms.:). 

No titles needed. It happens always. =)

It was so good to walk our good old dirt roads again…there’s nothing like it! 

We can still do most of our office work on the road but there are certain things we can only do at home and inevitably the office work piles up. Yummy coffee drinks from our very own personal barista help us get through the mountains of emails and projects! =)

Company time! One of the best things about being back home!

Practice, practice, practice…working up new music.

The youngest four loved taking history lessons from Miss Carolyn. This dear friend did a history class with us oldest five back when Hudson was a baby! Now it’s the younger ones turn to learn from her. She is an amazing teacher and makes learning so fun.
(pardon the messy room; this must have been one of those mornings right after company, in which sleeping bags and such were still piled up from the extra people of the previous night)

Our first week at home was spring cleaning at the hotel! Allison organized all the details and hired her willing siblings. Our crew varies from year to year but we always have a riot doing this-working hard and blasting our music throughout the hotel with the stereo cranked to 10 as we work.

It took several days and several different siblings crews but we got it all done! What a great feeling!

There were several babies born at our church while we were gone. It was such fun to get home and meet them!

More company! People ask us sometimes what we do when we have company visit; well, there’s never a dull moment, and the activities vary quite a bit!
This particular morning (pictured above) we all got a free group vocal lesson from the mother of the family visiting us from Ohio.

Carson, our grill master…cooking us up some Mexican goodness on our disk that we got last year in Mexico. We LOVE this grill. And the amazing things we can make with it. And we love our grill master. =)
Sweet friends from Arkansas came for a weekend visit. The older ones all went out for coffee one night.
Lots of cleaning is required when you have twelve people living in one house, and company coming + going almost constantly! Here we have Rebs vacuming the living room.

Allison + I made a much-anticpated visit up to Manitoba to visit our cousin + her husband and meet their most charming little son who was born while we were on tour. We had a lovely time and capped it off with stopping in MN on our way home to surprise/meet with several dear friends for a birthday celebration. Of course the sister bonding time of the trip was wonderful as well.

Later on in April, Allison organized a surprise birthday celebration at HuHot for an Iowa friend!

April means…spring planting starts! One of the most wonderful times of the year! We were blessed with lots of rain and sun and a good planting season this spring.

Well what do you know…it’s company again. =) We love these sweet friends..they are currently living full-time in their bus and we are thrilled when they can stop by the farm and visit.

We celebrated Josh’s 19th birthday! (His birthday was actually in March but he opted to wait for his party til we got home)
We give unique gifts, as you can see from several of the ones he is holding above. =)

Some days the kitchen looks like this and it is quite discouraging….

But with a little elbow grease and lightening speed things can get whipped into shape and we can get the second picture twenty minutes later! =)

We enjoyed a short weekend visit from this dear girl!

A beautiful Sunday lunch at the home of this dear legendary friend. What a treat.

Banana cream pie by our very own, Allison.

Sunday dinner + afternoon relaxing with a dear friend from our church.

Sunday afternoon hymns around our friend’s grand piano. Sadly we didn’t have very many “just sit and play music together” moments in April. The littles did lots of individual practice and music lessons, but us older ones honestly didn’t get our instruments out hardly at all.

All the babies. Allllll the babies. =)

We hosted a drivers ed class for a group of community students. Denver + Taylor participated. We older ones all took the class from the same instructor as well and we loved it. The great thing about doing a private class is that the whole thing (classes and driving time) all gets done in two weeks. 
The downside is that for two weeks just about all that you do is take classes and drive! =)
Our house has a constant supply of babies and little ones coming and going. We absolutely love it!

April also means time to get in the gardens and get things growing! =) Mom + her trusty crew of the six youngest spent many hours planting and getting things in shape.

Rebecca loved visiting with this little guy…only one week old! We had him and his family over for Sunday dinner after church one Sunday.

Story time with Liz!
Our church hosted their annual youth conference. Due to prior commitments and conflicting schedules we weren’t all able to be involved, but mom + her crew cooked for the speakers one day, and Mitchell + I were involved in some of the special music.
Singing in a young people’s ensemble at the conference…
Getting home means seeing all of our dear “Iowa people” again. We always love the opportunities to get together and reconnect with friends! (Above, Allison and I enjoyed lunch with one of our friends and her precious little son)
Mom hosted a weekly Bible study for a group of the young moms at our church. It was specifically geared towards moms with 4+ little children. Our three youngest (Liz, Hudson, + Rebs) loved playing 

with the group of children while the moms had their study together.

Allison + Rebs, getting the flower beds whipped into shape!
Did I mention spring planting? A huge part of that is keeping the tractors and planter in good shape, running smoothly! Dad and Carson both ran the planter this year and between the two of them they got all of our crops planted in record time! The whole family gets in on the action some way or another during planting season-there are always lunches to pack, another load of seed to deliver to the field, parts to pick up, and of course rides to take! 
It is so hard to catch our farmers on the camera these days, with everyone coming and going so much! During this season of life I am especially thankful for the blessing of phone cameras, which makes getting candid shots like this one much easier! 
And that’s a bit of our month of April in review! Stay tuned for May coming right up, along with updates from our current status of “back on tour”!
“Home…the spot of earth supremely blest,  a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.”
-Robert Montgomery


family, farm, home

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  1. Wow-I still can't believe y'all had us over after only being home 2 days! We loved it-thanks so much! Your hospitality is such a blessing to so many! I love seeing all your happy pictures=)

    and btw…could y'all possibly teach our family the "do you love your neighbor" game when y'all come in September?(!!!) Allison was telling me about it at the retreat I think, but I forgot most of it=)

  2. Tell Allison that I am glad she did not put coconut in the banana cream pie. I am have had to ask to get adopted. I got me a nice surprise for my birthday. It was a week late but I didn't mind. No physical gift though. I was voted by the church to train & become a Deacon of the church. Ooops maybe I shouldn't have wrote that here for I like my low profile to much. I can't wait for the celebration to see everyone again & keep the posts going as I love to read them.

  3. i reckon ya'll were glad to be back home! looks like ya'll were busy and had fun! and those babies looked soo cute!
    Clo, Is. 53:5, #UNASHAMED, heresclo.blogspot.com, YouTube channel-Clo Hale

  4. Recognize some special memories in here, aww! And, amen, the word "legendary" sums up Mr. Christmas' hospitality so well. What a gent. These recaps are so great! ❤️

  5. Rachael-absolutely; we would love to teach y'all! =)
    Ash-haha, all over the place!! =) We are blessed with a fabulous consignment chain in Iowa (they have five locations across the state) and we get the majority of our clothes there. Also we love garage sales + thrift stores that we go to all across the USA. =) And Canada for that matter-if you ever visit Canada, be sure to go to a Value Village thrift store! =)
    Other than that…we like Ross, TJMaxx, + Maurices (us girls), and Kohls + JCPenny (guys dress clothes) to name a few. Probably our favorite store for the whole family that is very dependable (as in that we can usually find what we are looking for there!) is Burlington Coat Factory.
    I'm hoping to do a full post about this over on my personal blog sometime (www.daughterwithavision.blogspot.com) so stay tuned!=)

    -Chelsy, for the Bontragers

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