Thursday, December 29, 2011


Caleb Joseph Gammons has been a part of our lives for 8 years.  He has been his own unique person right from the very start.  I'm not sure if it is just that he is the second born, but he is so much like my brother Joe.  Regularly, after Caleb has said something or done something Amanda and I look at each other and just say, "Joe."  I love my brother (whose birthday was two days ago), so it is fun to have a miniature version of him around.

Caleb and I went for our normal breakfast this morning.  He is so sweet and special to be with one on one.  I asked him a number of questions.  He said that the job that he would like to have some day would be a scientist or a veterinarian.  One of Caleb's favorite presents from Christmas was a book about frogs, toads and salamanders.  He would make a great vet or wildlife biologist.  He's our frogman in the summer, spending hours down at the pond.

We love you CalJo.  Happy Birthday!  May God bless you and grow the fruits of his spirit in your life this year as you seek to know him more. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little Lucy Ruth

Lucy Ruth turns 2 years old today.  Like a fine wine she has improved with age.  She is talking a mile a minute and loves to be able to communicate her many ideas.  She is so sweet and makes our life even more of an adventure.  She is Mommy's helper ("no Daddy's helper").  She loves to be outside and doesn't have a lot of sit still in her.  We pray that God will continue to lead her along the straight path as she seeks his kingdom.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

 Benjamin (9), Lucy (almost 2), Andy, Matthew (6), Burley, Amanda, Molly (4) and Caleb (almost 8)

It's been a very busy fall and winter at the Gammons home.  Shirley is almost moved in next door.  The kids have been busy at church and with schooling.  Amanda is keeping the house together, schooling the three boys, working with the girls and welcoming a new puppy.  I have loved the new adventures that the farm has brought.  We have experienced so many of God's blessings this year: a new home, closeness with friends, continued joy at church and always marveling at God's goodness to us in our family.  These are only the gifts.  More than anything this year I am thankful for my God.  In him is true, eternal and everlasting joy.  May your family be grateful for the blessings and truly treasure the one from whom all blessing flow.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 ESV)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wintery Night

I flooded the pond last night.  It was so pretty out, I wanted to take these pictures.  We finally got the lights on our fence working.  Next step is mending the fence.  That may have to wait for Spring.

First Skate at Providence Pond

The boys tried out the pond for the first time last weekend.  We are excited for what the winter will bring.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wet Dog

It's raining in Minnesota.  After he got all dirty the other night, Burley got a bath.  I had to share these two photos.

Gammons Christmas Party

When Amanda and I were first married and we lived in Grand Rapids, we had a number of very memorable Christmas parties.  My brother and his wife and my sister all lived in town and it was great fun.  We haven't had a Christmas party since then.  Last weekend though, we renewed the tradition with some friends from church.  We had a blast.  As usual the kids outnumber the adults two to one.

Highlights for me were the scavenger hunt, singing carols and watching the kids make memories.  We are already looking forward to next year's party.  You can see all the pictures at the link below.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Motley Crew

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my mom and Tricia's family in Northern Michigan.  It was a good time had by all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New skis

When my mom was here this fall, she got cross country skis for all the boys.  Today was our first day out.  It was great.  We are so thankful to live in a place where we can do this just outside our door.  The boys started on the driveway and once they got that down they headed into the back to break some trail.  When I watch the boys in situations like this, their personalities all stand out so prominently.  Matthew is our natural athlete.  He looked as if he had been skiing all his life, very fluid and effortless.  Caleb is quiet and determined.  He put his nose to the grindstone and got to work.  Ben started out complaining about the cold until he made it into a race with the other two.  Then his competitive side came out and he was off.  Molly, our sweet little girl, came out and stuck right next to Matthew.  They are best friends and it's fun to see how much she loves him.

We look forward to many more days of skiing at Providence Farm.  Thanks, Mom, for the skis.

The race is on.
And Ben is the winner.

See all the skiing photos here.

Burley update

Burley is doing really well.  As long as we are minding him, he stays out of trouble.  Just like a puppy though, as soon as we turn out backs, he's either chewing or using the bathroom inside.  We've figured out that we can't turn our backs.  Like anything that has long term payoffs, the front end work is a bit daunting.  We're already beginning to see the results though.  When I have liver treats in my pockets, he'll do whatever I want him to do.  He loves to sit on our laps in the evening and be close.  We are sure thankful for this new adventure.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas tears and joy

Have you ever hurt around Christmas time?  It seems that especially in this time of joy, tears are only just behind.  Our pastor had a tradition for a long time of writing advent poems.  They were often fictional narratives with Biblical figures and situations.  I read and listened to this one today.  I highly recommend you do the same.  It is an amazing picture of the compassion of our savior.

Monday, November 28, 2011


We welcomed Burley into our home this weekend. He is a goldendoodle--half golden retriever, half poodle. We named him after Burley Coulter one of our favorite characters in Wendell Berry's Port William novels. The breeder said that he was the best puppy she'd ever had. So far we would agree. He is doing the potty thing very well. No accidents in the first twenty-four hours. He's sleeping well and has been great to have around.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Farm Adventures

Sorry I don't have pictures of these adventures.  You'll have to use your imagination.

Cutting wood, I got my saw blade wedged in a log. Pried so hard I loosened the nuts on the saw. I tightened one, but while I was cutting the whole saw crumbled to pieces. After hunting all over we finally found the nuts and got the saw going again.

On the way back from the woods, I decided to drive through the dried up pond. It wasn't dry enough. The Rhino got stuck in the mud. I went and got the neighbor. Itch another neighbor's come-along, and after I put it in neutral, I pulled the Rhino out.

The boys went out to feed the cats and Ben said he saw something furry behind the door. I got the .22 and headed out. A few minutes later I was disposing of a dead possum. It brought to my mind the following Tom Waits quote that hangs at trout farm in Alpena.

"There's always some killin' you got to do around the farm."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Road Trip

We just got back from an amazing road trip through 5 states. I had a conference in Colorado Springs, so the whole family decided to come along. We had a great time. The weather was great and the sights were better. I was amazed by the vastness of the western landscape. The kids did well in the car. Breaking the trip up into 8 hour days really helped. The first day we drove up Pike's Peak. It was bitter cold and windy, so we didn't stay long. While I was conferencing, the kids went to the Garden of the Gods, Focus on the Family and of course Chic-fil-a. On the way home we hit the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Wall Drug. We're already planning our next road trip. It was a great time.  You can see all the photos here.

Bad parent

I've been very negligent in my posting of family photos.  Here are a bunch from the boys birthdays and Mom's trip here last month.  Enjoy.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lucy and the mule deer

Check out the mule deer.  Lucy loved it.  She wanted to get a little too close.

Snowy Colorado

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"The Assassination of Lincoln" by the Gammons Players

This is the kind of stuff you do when you're educated at home.  The boys were studying Lincoln's assassination.  Amanda sent me these photos of the kids' subsequent production.  I especially love the performance of the actress portraying Mary Todd Lincoln.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A great weekend camping

Aside from the heater running out of propane at 1:30 in the morning and my having to drive to get a new tank, we had an amazing weekend.  What could be better than fall camping with friends in beautiful southern Minnesota?  Thanks to Teresa for the photos.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tender Hearts

There have been tender hearts lately at our house.  The tender hearts are mostly in the men of our home.  When Ben had his birthday, I took him out for breakfast and when I was telling him all of the things that I loved about him and my hopes for who he would become, out came his tender heart.  Red eyes.  Little tears.

His tender heart came out later when we gave him his gifts.  He loved the little camera we gave him.  He said to me, "Dad, thanks for my camera.  It was my best gift."  Then red eyes, little tears, "Actually, my best gift . . . was you."  I hugged him hard, real hard.

Matthew's tender heart comes out all the time lately: when we were at breakfast together, when he told Gigi thank you for his 6 trip, when I thanked God for him at the dinner table, and many other times.

Caleb's heart is different.  His tender heart is out more when he's happy.  It looks like kissing me, telling me he loves me, and sitting close on the couch.  He longs for control, so it usually doesn't get too far down the tears road.

I just read Molly Piper's post about still missing her dead daughter Felicity four years after she was stillborn.  Tears welled.  I am glad when my tender heart peaks out.  It helps me know I'm still struggling.  When my heart becomes hard and there's no emotion, I know I need to get back in the fight for my soul.  I pray that each of my kid's heart remains tender.  It is a tilled soil that is ready for the gospel of Christ.  God promises to remove our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh.  A friend used to ask "When was the last time you cried?"  He used it as a measuring stick for how we were living.  I know tears come easier for some of us than others.  My grandma used to cry over Hallmark commercials.  I'm not sure I ever remember my dad crying.  More than the tears, I hope for the tender heart.  There are things in our world that should hurt us and things that should overcome us with gratitude.  I'm thankful for both and the tender heart that responds to each.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Matt's 6 Trip

My mom has made a special tradition of taking each of her grandkids on a special trip when they turn 6-years-old.  For Matt's 6 Trip, they went to the local water park hotel and then to the Vikings game.  They had a great time and memories were made . . . even if the Vikings lost. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Celebration!

Last night we celebrated Mom's birthday with an amazing dinner out at the Corner Table restaurant in Minneapolis.  It is a small room in a very simple neighborhood, but the food and service were exceptional.  We arrived and Dan our server seated us a table right near the window.  We looked at the very small one page menu and decided to do a tasting menu.  This is where you leave the food up to the whims of the chef.  Each course was delicious, paired wonderfully with a wine taste as well.  We don't get to do fun things like this very often so it was a great treat.  Mom, thanks for getting older and giving us this chance to treat you.  Shube, thanks for coming along.  D&J, thanks for watching the kids.

If you're looking for a place for fresh, local food in Minneapolis, definitely give the Corner Table a try.  Here's a pic of our main course, lamb ragu.  MMMmmmmm.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Girls

I posted about what I have been thinking about the boys and their futures last week.  Last night we were reading our latest read aloud "Caddie Woodlawn" by Carol R. Brink.  It is the story of a pioneer girl in Wisconsin.  She is allowed, mostly by her father, to run and play and romp with her brothers.  Her mother would like her to be more of a "lady."  As she gets a little older she begins to struggle with the tension of who she is and who she wants to be and who others want her to be.

In the passage we read last night, she gets in big trouble with her mother because she and her brothers play a practical joke on their cousin from Boston.  She is sent to her room without any supper.  After everyone else is asleep, her father comes up to her room and sits on her bed.  He puts her warm hand in his cool hand and says to her the following.

It’s a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys. It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful. What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way! A woman’s task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness. It’s a big task, too, Caddie—harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things. They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness. A woman’s work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man’s. But no man could ever do it so well.  I don’t want  you to be the silly, affected person with fine clothes and manners whom folks sometimes call a lady.  No, that is not what I want for you, my little girl.  I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind.
I love this quote.  The spirit of it is what I want for my girls.  I want them to do the work that God has for them in a strong way like their mother and their grandmothers and their great-grandmothers before them.

Country Living: The Rhino

It's no problem for the Rhino!  In one of his first trips out to the farm Amanda's dad said, "We've got to get the Rhino out here."  So last weekend they went to their place in Michigan and brought it back.  It has since been endless fun for the Gammons family.  We have raced around our property and broken new trails.  Last night Lucy, Ben and Matthew and I spent the evening clearing a few remaining trails.  In my mind you just can't beat and evening that includes a chainsaw, the Rhino, work and my kids. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fun with friends

What do you get when you add nine kids, a picnic, a great playground, water, conversation with friends and a beautiful night?  Good times.

Country Living: Grant Tractor Parade

This weekend we attended the Grant Tractor Parade near our house.  It was so much fun.  Anyone who wanted to be in it could just show up and many did.  Most of them drove antique tractors but there were old cars and even some riding lawn mowers that joined in.  It last about twenty minutes.  The kids got a ton of candy and we all left happy.  My best parade in a long time.  We already are looking forward to next year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Hope For My Boys

I have been very limited over the last year or more in my times of uninterrupted thought, times when I have energy to vision for myself and my family, to hope and ponder what God has for our future.  With life beginning to settle down, I am once again finding this gift.

Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking about my boys and what I hope for their growing up years to be.  Ben is about to turn 9-years-old.  There's no turning back.  We're about to get in the thick of it.  Ben will remember everything from here on out.  Amanda is reading a book that my mom sent entitled Boys Should Be Boys by Meg Meeker.  I pulled the following from Amazon which said it was on the back cover.

* Why the most important factor in shaping your son's behavior isn't "peer pressure" (it's you)
* How to preserve your son's innocence (and why it's essential to help him grow up)
* Why boys need less, not more--whether it's computer games, organized sports, or lessons
* How to talk to your son--the pitfalls that moms and dads face
* Why it's not normal for teenage boys to be moody and rebellious
* Why teaching your son about virtue isn't an option, it's a necessity

Pretty much the gist of it is (from what Amanda has told me) that what boys need most is their fathers and to be pushed to be adventurous and given the time and freedom to take those risks.

I was talking with a good friend last week about this topic and about how when I was younger I had many fun and memorable experiences. Many of them were us getting into trouble. For instance, we used to drive around town with one of us on the roof of my parents Olds 88. They would lay across the roof and hold on. Anyone of us could have fallen off there and died. Probably not the best idea, but it was a great story to tell afterwards. I told my friend last week that I hoped that my boys would live lives that would lead to great stories that would also honor and glorify God.

I think one thing that has happened in the last four or so decades is a shift from fathers being the primary early influences on boys to mothers be that influence. Mothers naturally are more worried about the personal safety of the boys. How many of us have heard mothers (and even fathers now) say to their kids at a playground, "Johnny, careful or you're going to get hurt."? I want my boys to be put into situations where the worst thing that could happen to them is that they might get hurt or die. I think that boys are put and putting themselves into situation where the worst thing that could happen is for them to lose their souls.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Mark 8:36
If your boy is downstairs on his computer all day, he's probably not going to get hurt.  But there's a good chance he could lose his soul.

One of my new favorite artists is Andrew Peterson.  The song below talks about boys living lives where there is a tale to tell.  This is the kind of life I hope for my boys.  This is why we moved to the farm.  This is why I push them to work.  This is why I push them to read amazing stories.  This is why I pray for them.  "The joy in the journey is enough to make a grown man cry."  Ben, Caleb, Matthew, I look forward to your telling the tales.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Live blog the Minnesota State Fair

Mark Seeley and Gary Eichten doing a live broadcast at the MPR booth.  It's fun to see the people who you listen to on the radio.

Matthew checking out a newborn calf at the Miracle of Birth center.  Matthew LOVES the animals.

This is my new tractor.  I WISH!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Over at Justin Taylor's blog, he had a couple of great posts about grace.  First, enjoy the Blind Boys of Alabama's version of "Amazing Grace" set to the tune of "The House of the Rising Sun."  I love the guttural tones and the idea that God has changed the song for those of us who have escaped the brothel (The House of the Rising Sun) to sing about his amazing grace.

Second, watch this scene from the 1998 film Les Miserables.  I love what the bishop says in the very last seconds.  I am Jean Valjean.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fighter Verse Songs Blog

Our church uses a program called Fighter Verses to memorize scripture.  One of our good friends is part of a group that writes songs to help facilitate the memorization of these verses.  They have a blog as well that talks about application of the week's verse.  I have been doing a little writing there for the past few weeks.  If you'd like, go on over and take a look.  You can also hear this weeks corresponding song.  Fight Verse Songs blog.

Weekend Project

Our pond had been looking pretty rough.  It was so full of algae that Gregg commented that it looked like you could walk across it.  We had wanted to get some sort of aeration system for a while.  We had someone out from Dulcet Fountains in Minneapolis.  They recommended a few products and we went with a floating aerating fountain.  After some pretty simple assembly on Friday night, Saturday morning I jumped in the pond, staked it out and we were in business.  It's already gotten rid of almost all the algae and it's pretty too.

Country Living: Overalls

When I posted about the kids selling our excess produce, my sales consultant suggested that they purchase some overalls.  What do you think?  Could you pass up buying some cukes from this sales team?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Waning of Summer

It seems as if summer is begin to give up the ghost.  Amanda has been daily trying to take advantage of the limited amount of free days with the kids.  Sooner than later they will begin school and their days will be packed with math, reading, history and handwriting.  We are still looking forward to the state fair which will officially end our summer.

Today Amanda took the kids up to one of the local state parks to climb the bluffs along the St. Croix River.  It's a great place and the kids love it.  I wish I could have been there.  Amanda sends me photos like this throughout the day to keep me involved.  Happy end of summer everyone.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Future Entrepreneurs

Fresh cucumbers, 25 cents.  That's what the sign said on Saturday morning in front of our house.  We've been getting a bumper crop of cukes out of our garden so we told the kids to set up shop at the end or our driveway. It was a ton of fun to watch them all out there.  At first they didn't do a great job of customer service.  After my brief lesson though, they were off and running.  They sold through their stock and made almost $8.00.  My favorite quotes from the morning were when Caleb said to a woman, "If you see us out here again, be sure to stop."  Then the next day Caleb asked Amanda, "Can we only sell cucumbers on Saturday?"  I think he may have the itch.