27 June 2012

Birthday Girl

Birthday #5 for a certain little princess.  Daddy had an overnight meeting in Davenport at the historic Hotel Blackhawk.  He wanted to make it a date night with his hot wife.  Then he realized it was his princess' birthday.  Guess who came along?  That's right, our birthday girl.

Some one-on-one time with Mom and Dad.  What could be better? Upon arrival at the Hotel, she told the woman at the front desk that her birthday was the next day.  Claudia, the clerk, let Bethany know that she'd send something to her.  As we were getting ready to head down to the pool, there was a knock at the door. The staff of Hotel Blackhawk made this little girl's day!  A plate arrived with a huge chocolate chip cookie with "happy birthday" written on it, a cake pop, a princess glow-in-the-dark wand, and a blinky ring.  She was even excited about the strawberry garnish and raspberry syrup.  Hardly able to sit still, here she is with her first birthday gift.

We spent a few hours in the pool.  Well, not the whole time.  We went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth a bazillion times from the hot tub to the pool.   She was loving it even though she can't swim and was a bit scared at moments.  We went back to the room in time for her to play in the big spacious shower before we got ready for supper out with Daddy.  When we got back to the room after supper, she was WIRED again as she played with glow sticks, pranced around in a "movie star" robe, and had 100% of our attention.

This morning we bored her with a bit of business on our way back home.  But we eventually had a little more fun with her in Dubuque where she got to ride a cable car to the top and overlook the city and the Mississippi River, stopped at an ice-cream shop and then finally headed home to get the boys.

Even though it wasn't all thankfulness overflowing from her heart and mouth, we thank God for blessing us with this sweet girl.  We love you Bethany!

23 June 2012

What kids, rotting stench, and food have in common

Often when I wake up, I lay there and plan out what I can accomplish with such an early morning.  This morning was no different.  And like most mornings, I snuggled in under a blanket long enough that my early was gone and it was just another normal morning.  Except that my kids slept in.  Which is awesome.  While planning my day, I had decided to spend a few hours in the garden.  With Ryan gone, I didn't exactly want to be out in the garden while my kids were in bed.  Mostly because I didn't want them scared nor did I want them too independent if they woke up and couldn't find me.  

I stayed in the house, quietly accomplishing life.  Then Scott came downstairs.  With the kids sharing a bed, they almost always come downstairs together.  This morning was different and I asked Scott if he wanted to have a little "date" with mom.  He was excited about the opportunity so long as I didn't call it a date.  Silly boy.  Over a bowl of cereal, we looked through his scrapbook from his first two years.  Yes, a scrapbook.  I had time to do that when I had just one kid.

After breakfast, I forced the kids outside to play even though my eldest gave me 3 reasons he should stay inside.  His words: #1 I'm allergic to grass, #2 I have no-one to play with, and #3 I seemed to have forgotten the third.  My peaceful time in the garden wasn't so peaceful as my 3 kids whined and bickered the entire time.  I would have required them to pull weeds with me but then I'd have to hear the whining up close and I didn't want that either.  

With tons of weeds left in the garden, I headed in to make lunch.  Our friends, JB and Blake, joined us for a Thai dish that was almost a big 'ol failure.  I came in the house 1/2 hour late, my chicken hadn't thawed, thawing in the microwave was taking way too long, I had a pregnant lady to feed and a husband who had plans for 1pm.  Finally I grabbed some leftover italian marinated chicken, cut it up, and hoped the marinade wouldn't ruin the thai peanut butter taste.  Finally at 1pm, I was ready to serve lunch.  It was fun to chat with friends, eat good food and just live life.

After our friends left, I headed back to the garden for a few more hours of pulling weeds.  The other day, I thinned some weeds and found my rows of garlic.  I had kind of forgotten about them.  While weeding that area, I found my rows of of bellpeppers.  I had totally forgotten about those.  I even found 5 or so volunteer tomatoes growing from last years crop.  Speaking of volunteer tomatoes, I have a very nice one growing out of the side of my compost bin.  It looks great but it's a sign that my compost didn't break down perfectly.  

I came in from the garden, cleaned up, and headed to Decorah to pick up my girl.  She left with her Grandpa when he stopped by mid-morning.  With a stop at the grocery store where I didn't stick perfectly to my list, and grabbed enough items to throw together a pizza for supper.  I left my in-laws with a bucket of iris's.  The stinky water was mostly dumped out but it still stunk in the van of nasty rotting vegetation in water.  The little ones entertained themselves by pinching their nose closed and talking to each other seemingly thinking pinching their nose meant they couldn't hear anything.  By this timef it was LATE, so I stopped by the golden arches to grab some junk food for my kids.

Once home, I put away groceries, started the sprinkler on the garden, and began preparing pizza - with the chicken that was finally cooked and moist as could be.  Finally at 945, Ryan and I sat down to eat supper.  I'm tired.  Writing this down makes me more tired.  I got a lot done today.  But at the same time, I still have folded laundry to put away, bed sheets that didn't get washed, and my house isn't looking as clean as I was hoping it would.  It was a good day though.  I made some much needed progress in the garden, the kids were loved on, my hubby was well fed while he worked hard on the garage, and I am joyful tonight.

P.S. Here's last Sunday's picture:

18 June 2012

Place of Peace

It's amazing that this place is a place of peace:

I missed my Wednesday night in the garden last week.  I think.  When Saturday morning rolled around, I really, really needed a few hours in the garden.  After all, with the help of a sprinkler and the Rain Maker, it had been well watered.  With a house in disarray and 5 guests staying the night that night, there was no way I could take time for the garden.  You can imagine how weedy it was when I walked out there tonight.  My mouth dropped.  Even though my back hurt like mad, I was ready to bend/kneel down and start pulling all the nasty weeds.  Since Lori and I are having a thistle growing competition, I had to take special care of those bad boys when I pulled them out, without gloves, trying to remove the tap root along with it.  All the weeds drive me crazy but the quiet time in the garden was priceless.

While I was busy in the garden, my kids were busy in their "new pool":

Nothing says country bumkin like kids swimming in a livestock water tank!  In two hours, I pulled lots of deep rooted, well growing weeds.  I also managed to find my rows of garlic amongst the weeds, train the tomatoes back into their cages, thin the junk out of my nicely growing cilantro, encourage the peas to grow towards the wire fence, and start pulling the masses of growth from the patch of asparagus.

When 8pm rolled around, we headed in the house, heated up some left overs, ate a quick meal, slathered the kids with aloe vera lotion and headed for a COLD shower.  

P.S.  Here's a pic of Ryan's Father's Day gift:

Only, the print never did get printed.   When we headed to town yesterday, the bigger town with a wallyworld, we didn't stop by right away.  Then when I went back to town before supper, I forgot the camera card and by time Ryan got to town and I got back inside, the photo center was closed.  One-hour pics was an option except Ryan's family was all headed to supper so I couldn't wait around for an hour.  Not able to get the pic printed, Ryan got nothing for Father's Day.  A big fail for me on getting a gift for the man I love.  Children of mine, when are you going to think to do something on your own for your parents to celebrate them on Mother's Day and Father's Day?

16 June 2012

Taking Down the Barn

There's nothing a John Deere...

and two farm-boys (or should I say men)

can't accomplish.  In this case, it was taking down the old barn 

on Kim's school farm 

The first tug from the lower floor did move the floor and it's contents quite a bit.  You can't see it well in this photo but the floor is sunk in the center about 3-4 feet in a V shape.  Don't miss the details of the hand-cut 100+ year old beams.

Time to move the the upper floor and start doing some damage.  Here, Mark is about to wrap chains around the beams of the main floor from the bucket of their trusty tractor.

Then it's time to link the two chains togehter, hook them to the tractor, and give it another tug.

I was videoing as the barn fell but the result was dust, straw and lots of stuff floating on the breeze causing a few kids who'd been watching the whole thing to cover their faces.

I wasn't the only one videoing.  Ms. Lois was also recording it all with Kari's ipad.

 Here is Farmer Mark and Farmer Kim checking out the aftermath.

Sometimes things fall the wrong direction and you bump into something you were hoping to avoid:

Look at those big 'ol beams that were held together wooden pins/stakes.  

We also found square nails.  It was really neat to see the history.

While Daddy and son check out the cool pieces of wood...

 Grandpa puts the tractor away for the night.  

Thanks friends for including us so the kids experience just a little bit of farm life.

10 June 2012


While Ms. Priss joined her daddy this morning, the boys and I had a few minutes before leaving for church.  Since they were dressed, had clean faces, and weren't gumpy, I thought it would be a good opportunity for a few pictures.  Scott picked all but one of the locations where we snapped a few pictures.  

With a 16 gig card FULL, I guess I'll be cleaning the camera card this afternoon.  It has pics on it from the Sweet heart Supper in February :)

06 June 2012

racoons, garages, gardens and more...

It's been almost a month since I've posted but I think about posts regularly.  I even come up with a list of things to talk about in bullet point fashion but it's not when I'm free to write.  Let me get started on some random, fun things to share and see where we end up.  In bite sized fashion like SMF taught me:

Harley, our beloved pup
Working in the garden, I hear Harley's normal barking like he does when he's playing with the cats.  When Harley, the australian shepherd, wouldn't give in to barking at the cat, I finally looked up and saw that it was a small grayish dog.  Hmm, where did that come from?  No sooner than I finished that thought, I realized it was a racoon.  Yes, my sheep dog was having a stand off with a hissing racoon.  I couldn't call the dog off, nor could I scare the racoon off with my awful aim throwing twigs and empty ice-cream pale.  Harley must have thought he was a coon dog and was tree-ing the racoon.  Finally, the gentle doctor Ryan came out and kindly took care of the gray, hissing, creature.  Thanks love.

Memorial Day in our Memory
Our local cemetary does a Memorial Day service.  On Saturday morning I took the kids down to put the flags on the crosses that were put out for Memorial Day.  On Monday, we attended a small country cemetary service.  Twenty-plus years ago, that little country cemetary held no service.  The men from the Legion would come out, pay their respects, shoot off the guns, and move on to the next cemetary.  That changed when a new bride wondered what the gun shots were about.  That new bride just graduated her youngest from high school and there was no longer young children to put poppies on the graves of the soldiers.  It was an honor to have my 3 little ones take on the task this year.  It was short and sweet and most certainly a good memory for the kids.  Later that morning we went to the one in town where they'd put the flags up on Saturday.  It was a very nice service, complete with sharing how "taps" came about, songs from the Keystone chorus, and once again putting poppies on the grave.  The most memorable part of the service came at the end.  Sadly, it's not a good memory, but one of a mean-spirited lady who thought it was better to yell at my children for grabbing at the waving flags than to be thankful they were there.  And if once wasn't enough, she chose to yell at them a second time AFTER I had just told her they were mine, I was watching them and kindly but firmly told her not to yell at them.  Grr.  It overshadowed the day and was the memory Bethany had.  I hope that I don't have such tunnel vision for perfect obedience of my children, that I fail miserably at letting them enjoy life so they continue to desire to participate in things like Memorial Day services and things like that.

Growing Things
Not sure what all is growing in my garden outside.  In the past few weeks it's been quite neglected.  One night a  week in the garden just isn't enough during this early growing stage.  While I do have things growing that I purposefully planted, I also have lots of volunteer weeds and pain in the hiney thistles.  I pull the thistles by hand and wonder each time why I didn't find my gloves first.  Last week we put down newspaper and grass clipping around 1/2 of the growing veggies as it threatened of rain.  This week, I found beans growing in my garden which I had planted but forgot all about.  Maybe tomorrow I can sneak out there and find something else growing amongst the weeds!  Other growing things include this little boy's hair.  It's long!

There are a few friends I'd love to get together with who live on the Eastern side of the country.  Indianapolis isn't really half way.  Nor is it that close to the Creation Museum that we want to go to.  Regardless, it might be a meeting spot for some really cool families to hang out.  The thought of seeing people like Megan, Jamey, Kaight, and others has me giddy!  I just remembered I have been to Indy before so I might be up for picking a different spot too...

Pinning Ideas
Why is it that I have a sewing project on my dining room table, no time to sew it, but time to pin more ideas on that addictive little website???  I've been putting some of those creative ideas, and a few of my own creative ideas into practice lately.  Yes, I'll admit that I might be a tad bit creative.  I used an old pepsi box for kids art supplies to go into.  I bought some index cards to put in a box with one card for every day and then you write something on a card each year and by year 3, have some cool memories to read back through.  I also bought the kids each a binder.  The idea is to gather all their "stuff" throughout the month.  Then, at the end of the month, they can choose one item to keep.  That one item will get put into the binder and all the rest of the prize-winning drawings can be recycled.

Monkeying Around
The kids have been busy hanging around, playing in the sprinklers, having water balloon fights, and venturing through the new "garage" to see it's progress each day.  It's been wonderful to be outside.  Not too hot, not too humid.  It's perfect outside.  That is, until I have to walk a half mile, through grass in full pollination that's taller than me and making me sicker than snot.  Oh, and those bumps on my arm, who knows if it was poison oak or poison ivy, both of which were growing like mad, kinda like the thistles in my garden.  Ryan has managed to mow lawn a lot so far this summer and it's looking amazing right this moment out there.

We've had several milestones in the last month.  The kids all received awards at the end of the AWANA year.  Scott memorized the 3rd most sections of any child.  While I'm thankful he did so, I'm hoping those verses get etched onto his heart as well.  Bethany graduated preschool and her teacher finished her 1st year of  teaching.  Judah continues to grow - in height as well as his hair.  The pictures of his picked out hair don't do justice.

That boy has Skills
Last night while fixing supper, the kids were working on a craft.  Any craft.  I didn't care as long as they weren't whining about being hungry.  It involved the basic stuff - glue, construction paper, and crayons.  Wanting Scott to work on his hand writing, I asked him to write a story before he did the craft.  So, he wrote down 5-6 sentences about great white sharks before he cut out the blue and white construction pieces, glued them together and drew in the gills, etc.  The googly eye he added at the end made it that much more fun to see.  I'm hoping to do more of this with Scott, while teaching Bethany not to glue things to the table and teaching Judah not to color one big blob, but to actually draw and have shapes/susbstance to the colored wax he puts on the paper.

I am blessed beyond measure.  When we put our June 1st Ethiopia trip on hold, I knew that God had the plans and I just needed to follow.  I didn't know how significant or involved that would all be.  In the past few weeks, we have witnessed lots and lots of suffering.  Considering it pure joy while facing those trials hasn't been easy.  But being right here in Northeast Iowa (and not across the globe) to be there for my friends who are suffering has given me joy.  While I don't pretend to be the one suffering, I do feel like there's a spiritual battle going on around me.  Having my character called into question, having allergy craziness, being emotionally and physically exhausted when I leave work, and life happening around me.  I thank God for sustaining me and I thank my husband for all that he does while acknowledging that I just need some time to myself.

 My kitchen is clean again tonight.  My kids are in bed.  There are piles of laundry in my living room, a shower that needs scrubbed, and seeds that need planted.  But at the end of the day, I'm able to give and receive a little more love today.