Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas! Joy to the World -- the LORD has come!

Monday, December 20, 2010


I guess I have been on quite a long blog break here. I am not thrilled with the setup and some hang-ups of Homeschoolblogger and so it is not as enjoyable to blog. I am playing around with setting up a new blog on another site but that won't happen until sometime in the new year.

We have been busy as I am sure all of you are as well in preparations for Christmas.  We started off with walking with our 4H group in the Christmas parade the day after Thanksgiving. It went well but not sure if it is worth the time put into planning (I was in charge with another Mom) to walk down one street on a cold night! We were thankful to spend a bit of that week with John's parents before they headed south for the winter.

We have had the "fever sickness" moving through our house in various forms and various lengths of time for each. Unfortunately we did not all get it at once as I so hoped for. No, it lingered and passed on every 4 or 5 days beginning two weeks before Thanksgiving and the last person to get it (me) was last weekend.

We had a Nature Club field trip to a tree farm the first weekend in Dec. and learned all about evergreen trees. John met us there to cut down our Christmas tree. I think he enjoyed having us pick it out before-hand. Last year it took awhile for someone to find the perfect tree.  (me) It reaches our peaked ceiling and is quite beautiful and I absolutely LOVE the smell of a fresh cut tree in our home.

[caption id="attachment_782564" align="aligncenter" width="228" caption="I had to put this one in as it is so typical of the boys. I didn't use the most dramatic one so it doesn't look as bad. :)"][/caption]

We celebrated my Mom's birthday, and enjoyed having college students over.

I kept waiting for the snow to fall as I always want to try and get our Christmas card picture taken with a snowy background. We finally got snow and so we took our picture outside on the day the sky was heavy with an impending blizzard. Unfortunately the temps were also dipping low so we had to be quick. The last child I would think didn't feel like cooperating but it worked out in the end. I am finally getting our cards printed (after too much thought in designing it in Photoshop) so hopefully in the mail before Christmas Eve.

Our blizzard did arrive and we had a nice relaxing Sunday snowed in. We apparently got 7 inches but after all of the blowing it drifted in most places to 1 1/2 feet. It is SO beautiful and I debated trying to get another family picture with the snow piled on our pine trees but I thought better of that. Maybe next year.

[caption id="attachment_782565" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="This is the location of our Christmas card picture. So, when you see our card, just imagine the snowy covering."][/caption]

Friday the children and I dressed up with friends and went caroling at a nursing home and will go again this week. That was a real joy and a lesson in being a servant as one of my children initially didn't think it to be something he wanted to do. Afterward he realized how much joy it brings to others.

Last night we had our church Christmas Program and the children and John were all involved. I love to watch how the children change from year to year and gain confidence. Missy Blue was most dramatic in that the last few years when they would sing she would move in time to the music but had her fingers in her mouth or looked uncertain. This year she stood tall and sang out her best. She is growing up too fast! My boys are too but it seems more obvious in a girl. The program was a simple one with scripture recitations and songs from the children and then a play with a clear gospel message reminding us that Christmas is for sinners -- not good people as the hype of Santa and such leads us to believe.

And so we come to the final week and countdown excitedly to the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Here is a clip with Seppy and Missy singing "Gentle Jesus" with their group. I can't get it to embed here so click on the link instead. Watch as Seppy has to stop and swallow quite a few times. John and I thought he might throw-up he did it the whole time he was in front but he is still sweet as can be. Missy sings out her best although she said when she didn't remember the words her "mouth stopped moving".
Gentle Jesus

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent - Preparing Our Hearts

We are now in the Advent season and I am always looking for something to make it more meaningful for our family. A time to reflect and prepare our hearts rather than get caught up in all the craziness that seems to come with the Christmas season. I want our children to truely know what we are celebrating at Christmas. And so I was thrilled to find two books that we will use this year. We have gone through the Jotham's Journey series in the past and I highly recommend them but being that we finished the third book last year it was time for something new.

The first book I found was written by a homeschooler. It is called Countdown to Christmas by Amy Puetz which has family friendly classic stories and activities for each day of December until Christmas Day. Being that I procrastinated, I haven't received the book yet but hopefully tomorrow. You can view a sample chapter online.

The second one is a free downloadable printable book from Ann Voskamp, a gifted writer who always points the way to the cross through her words. This is so easy to go through and we began last night. I went walking through our fields in search of red dogwood branches to use for our Jesse tree and there are printable ornaments at the back of the book. I love the symbolism and the visual of the tree for the children to see our family history -- God's family. I am so excited to have this resource!

[caption id="attachment_782556" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Seppy put our first ornament on our Jesse Tree"][/caption]

What will you do to prepare your heart?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ministering in the nursing home

Last week the children and I along with a few other homeschool families from church dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians and had a Thanksgiving hymn sing at a nursing home.

[caption id="attachment_782547" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="You can see George and Tank here."][/caption]

When I was growing up my Grandma would frequently take my sister and me to visit her sister in a nursing home so I came to enjoy visiting and bringing joy to other residents as well. I have wanted my children to have that same experience and this has been the perfect opportunity singing every few months.

[caption id="attachment_782548" align="aligncenter" width="414" caption="Seppy sings along but always with a serious expression."][/caption]

Our first visit was a little intimidating for the children, especially as a sweet lady in the front row was missing an eye, something you don't see every day. She made them comfortable though by being very engaging in her conversation with them. Tank was too nervous to sing in front the first time but this time he was happy to sing for the residents. In the beginning Seppy hung behind during greeting time, our summer visit he simply waved, this time he went right up to those folks and happily shook their hands. Oh the joy on peoples faces when they greet the children. That is my absolute favorite thing about being at the nursing home.

[caption id="attachment_782546" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Wish it wasn't blurry but I love this picture!"][/caption]

What a wonderful way for each of us to learn to give of ourselves and serve others, as it doesn't come naturally.

Next month -- Caroling!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hungry Caterpillar and Butterfly Cakes

This year for Missy and Seppy's birthday cakes I suggested ideas of what I wanted to make. Missy had originally wanted a little cottage with a Strawberry Shortcake doll next to it that we saw online but I was going for something a little faster being that I needed to make two. I was going to make Seppy a firetruck but decided I'd rather not make loads of red frosting as it takes so much coloring to make it a nice color. In the end I found a cute idea for the Hungry Caterpillar cake out of cupcakes and thought that would be super easy and what child doesn't love that book? I convinced Missy that she needed a beautiful butterfly to go with it.

I don't really like how either cake turned out. I am not as good at frosting a cake and putting decorations on as I am at piping frosting on. Piping stars or whatnot on a cake covers imperfections much easier and looks more pulled together. Missy said hers was the most beautiful cake and I guess she is the only one I really needed to please.

[caption id="attachment_782539" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Wish I would have taken the picture during the day so the colors wouldn't be so off. "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_782540" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="More like the very sloppy caterpillar. Not at all what I envisioned but I didn't plan it out, I just went with it. :)"][/caption]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Baby Boy turns 3!

[caption id="attachment_782534" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Seppy at 1 year"][/caption]

So my  baby boy is really no longer a baby, although I try to keep him one as long as possible. :) While we celebrated Friday night, today is officially Seppy's birthday. He enjoyed a pancake breakfast and was happy to see the pink ribbons in his doorway from Missy's birthday had been replaced with blue ribbons today. He also had a few phone calls from Grandparents and Daddy this morning and was so proud that people wanted to talk to him! Tonight we watched his new "pwesent" -- "Toy Story 3"!

Seppy is a sweet easy-going little boy. He loves to give hugs and cuddle and I adore that! His favorite place to be is where the "kids" are and he does most everything they do if possible. He spends quite a bit of his time with his big sister who is a bit bossy with him but he really enjoys her in spite of that. They typically play really well together.

Seppy has been my longest sleeper and will often put himself down for an afternoon nap when he is worn out (keeping up with the big kids is hard work!) sleeping for 2 - 3 hours. Seppy still sucks his thumb when he sleeps and loves his blue blanket and if he does't have that then cuddling with me and holding onto my hair will do. :)  He is potty trained now but has yet to be consistent on the other end but we're getting there anyway.

Seppy's favorite color is blue and his favorite song is "Deep & Wide", although he also likes to run around the house singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" over and over.

I have enjoyed my little boy so much watching him grow and develop and I know I have said it before but this "break" so to speak without having another baby has been so nice for both him and me. I am so thankful for Seppy. He is a joy and a delight to each of us!

Happy Birthday to my little boy!

[caption id="attachment_782535" align="aligncenter" width="328" caption="This is his cheesy smile but still adorable. I'm working for my "perfect" photo of him. "][/caption]

Monday, October 25, 2010

One less job for Daddy

Missy Blue and Seppy's  birthday present arrived in the mail today. We ordered a KidKraft wooden (kind of) kitchen set. I have wanted to get one for her for awhile but we were waiting until she really showed an interest. While at a wonderful toy store on our vacation, Missy would not leave the kitchen area and played to her hearts content with the kitchen set, baking cookies and making other culinary delights. And more often lately she has been playing with my old Holly Hobby set at my parents house.

I really like the wooden sets and it would be ideal to make one ourselves out of real wood but who has the time for that? I like all the fun gadgets like ice coming out of the fridge door on some of the plastic models but I really wanted wood and after looking at many reviews found this one for a reasonable price. Being that it is also for Seppy we got primary colors rather than the pastels.

George was excited to see it arrive and immediately wanted to assemble it. I thought this was a job that Daddy needed to tackle and they could help but John said to see what they could do. And so, George, with the help of his brothers, mainly Pete, have been reading through the directions and have almost completed the kitchen set.  I guess there is one less job for Daddy! And I think he is a little relieved not to have to worry about getting that done before the party this week.

On another note -- Missy Blue also knows it arrived and has been little Miss Nosy all day. We keep moving the project to keep her guessing but now that it is in the basement she knows it. At this point she thinks she is getting a shelf for her bedroom after she saw a portion in the garage but she is actually quite happy about that seeing as she thinks it would be nice to put her toys on. When it is complete we thought of a new hiding spot and will have it covered until the big reveal Friday night. Poor little girl has to wait 4 more days! Seppy on the other hand just goes with the flow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birthday Girl turns 5!

My little girl turned 5 years old! Where does the time go? We were watching videos of her growing up when she learned to walk (at 18 mos!), of her first words, dancing around while the boys wrestled, etc. and how fun to watch but yet how much more it makes me realize how much she has grown in such a short time.

[caption id="attachment_782515" align="aligncenter" width="180" caption="2 years old"][/caption]

This year Missy Blue has become more of a little mother. She is more often found carrying her babies around wanting them to be in a makeshift blanket sling around her, singing and reading to them. But she also likes to mother little children. When we were visiting our friends she always wanted to be near their little boy with down syndrome. He is close to the same age but she would watch out for him, showing him how to create pies with playdough, read books with him, sit next to  him in church, etc. Not in the way a friend plays with a friend but in a mothering way. More recently we were watching a friend's little boy who ended up having a fever. Missy Blue didn't leave his side. She made sure he had toys to play with, didn't crawl out of the living room, and lovingly held him close. She is a natural Mommy and I love watching her!

Missy is a sing-songy little girl and many of her sentences come out in song. Often she sings in cheek music and we can't understand a word but the melody is pretty. She loves to sing and has started to be more vocal in the children's choir rather than just shyly standing with her fingers in her mouth as in years past.

She is very much interested in clothes and is more particular about what she wears than I would like her to be. I have decided that it is easier to shop without her. My sister and I took her to try on dresses for Easter and that was a chore. I had one I liked but of course she had one she liked better. I am hoping that down the road her tastes become more similar to my own or we may have some problems.

I was encouraged to hear a story of Missy Blue showing consideration to others this summer. A man from church mentioned that while we are at a picnic Missy was in line for a dessert ahead of him. There was one cookie left but she looked behind her at the man and said, "Oh, did you want that one?" He thanked her but told her to enjoy the cookie. Does that ever make a Mama's heart glad, especially seeing as evidence of kindness is not always present at home.

Missy does enjoy her brothers and it is fun to watch my girl in pink trying to keep up with the guys. From time to time I think how much she would enjoy having a sister as I so enjoyed my own. But then I realize that she knows nothing else and has a great time with her brothers.

I have repeatedly told Missy Blue she is growing up too fast and it brings tears to my eyes to think about. Today as she obviously tires of hearing me say that she responds with "Jesus did it!" :)

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Little Boy Haircut

My Baby boy is growing up so I finally gave in and gave him a real haircut. He had such sweet curls and during the summer they would spring up nicely but being that the humidity has ended and cool temperatures are the norm his hair now looks more straggly. I was looking at pictures of the other boys at his age and they looked so much older which is because their hair was shorter. To me Seppy still has a baby look and his curly hair helped with that. But alas, he will turn 3 in two weeks and since I could put his hair in a ponytail I figure it is about time. It sure was hard to make the first cut and while it gives him a completely different look  he is still cute as can be!

[caption id="attachment_782500" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="I wet it a bit to show the curl but usually it looks longer and a bit straighter."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_782501" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="I am still keeping it long on top."][/caption]

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Vacation Part 3 -- Visiting Friends

[caption id="attachment_782478" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Still at our campground -- riding the pedal carts for FREE! There are advantages to being the only family at the campground. :)"][/caption]

The last portion of our vacation was spent visiting friends of ours in lower Michigan. Their family stayed with us in May when they came for a wedding and we had so much fun together. John and I started wondering why we never had visited in the 5 years they have been away and so it was time.

Our friends live in the country and we were able to park our motorhome on their land, connect to power and we were set. Although the boys slept in the house with their friends for the most part. We had a wonderful weekend just living life with them -- visiting the local Amish stores (my favorite was a bent and dent with amazing deals! -- pull-ups for $3!!!), canning salsa that ended up super spicy, spending a rainy day at a boys football game followed by a horse show that we watched from the van while eating chili to warm up.  The kids rode horses and played to their hearts content while  John and I stayed up longer than we can remember just talking with K & L.

[caption id="attachment_782480" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Tank LOVED riding horses!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_782482" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Even Seppy had a turn"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_782479" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Playdough time"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_782477" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="John and "K" listening to the football game"][/caption]

While it is always hard to say "goodbye", after a week of being on the road we were all ready to get home. I think Lincoln was especially ready. We had him along and he was couped up more than he had ever been and was ready to be inside a house again but he did travel really well.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mmmm Monday - Roasted Kale

I haven't posted a recipe for awhile and this may not appeal to all of you but it is my new favorite healthy snack. I went out to eat with a friend to a local Italian pizzeria and in the small grocery store attached to it they were selling roasted kale. I tried a sample and it was so crisp and tasty and I knew I could make it myself so I went home and found out how . There is a mixed reaction to it in my family with a couple enjoying it and the rest tried but will pass call it "green paper".  Being that we can get it in abundance down on the farm I am making it quite often.


Rip Kale into pieces. I do a few large leaves per batch. Keep the pieces a little larger as they shrink down. Coat lightly with olive oil (or melted butter) and spread out on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt (needs quite a bit in my opinion) and this last time I tried grating Parmesan cheese over the top which made it even tastier. Bake in a 350 oven until kale is crisp as a potato chip without any sogginess -- maybe about 10 minutes at the most. Now you have "green paper" :) or rather Kale Chips.

[caption id="attachment_782468" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Looks like just a plate of lettuce but it is actually crispy kale."][/caption]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Vacation -- Part 2 Jayco Tour

Being that we were near the RV Capital of the World we thought it would be fun to take a tour of an RV factory. There were quite a few to choose from but we chose a larger family-owned company -- Jayco in Middlebury IN. We had our very own field trip and it was a very well done tour that we all enjoyed. We were in a group with all retired couples looking to buy their next rig so it wasn't geared for children but it still kept their attention since we moved quite quickly to see everything.

We began by looking through the most recent models of motor homes and trailers dreaming of the one that would fit our family perfectly. (We'd love 4 bunks in the back and a bump out up front for more space). We then watched a video on the origins of the company which isn't necessarily fun for kids but John and I found it interesting. Our tour began with everyone getting their own transmitter radio and ear piece to hear the tour guide and picking up saftey glasses. The kids were thrilled to each get a pair in their size and favorite color. I am sure that was the highlight! We hopped on a trolley and started off in the building where everything is sewn. We saw the bedding and pillows being covered, sofa cushions being assembled, etc.  With all of the brown fabrics I saw it was obvious that it is the "in" color compared to all the blue in our motor home.

Our next stop was the plant where they assemble the large 5th Wheels. We started at the beginning of the line and worked our way to the end and it was fascinating!  All of the woodworking of cabinets and trim is done here and on the picture to the right you can see it would slide from there down a level to be installed.  It moves from station to station and takes 4 or 5 days to complete one trailer. It is quite interesting to see it without any sides. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend the Jayco tour!

[caption id="attachment_782452" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="A slide out ready to be installed"]A slide out ready to be installed[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_782453" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="All lined up"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_782454" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Furniture goes in last. You can see the chairs waiting on the left side."][/caption]

To end the day we ate at a large Amish restaurant called Essenhaus. While the atmosphere was nice, unfortunately the food wasn't worth the price. We had family style and they brought all we could eat. The chicken and mashed potatoes were good but canned green beans are not anyone's favorite here. The noodles were mushy as was the dressing. The kids really enjoyed the Amish peanut butter** and Apple butter on bread though. George was the only one who really enjoyed the meal and ate to his hearts content. Note to selves -- just because it is a very advertised restaurant doesn't mean the food is great. We picked the right day to go as there was a car show on the grounds and of course that was right up John's alley! There are also cute little shops to browse through.

** The secret to Amish peanut butter I found is that they add marshmallow creme to it. In fact I found they also add it so jams and jellies to make a dip. Not exactly good for you, but quite tasty. At the bulk foods store I saw gallons of marshmallow creme but alas, I did bypass that, tempting as it was. :)

[caption id="attachment_782461" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Seppy and his "pod-nuh" (partner) :)"][/caption]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our Vacation Part 1 - Amish Country

We left for our vacation on Labor Day and have decided that we are going to go that week every year. I don't know about you but I am not as good with crowds as I used to be. Maybe people have gotten crabbier or something but I don't enjoy that so it is nice to avoid the summer crowds.

Initially we had planned on going to Tennessee and rent a cabin using John's frequent flyer miles to cover the cost but that idea fell through as it didn't seem very sure of a deal. We could have camped in our motorhome but when we go I want it to be as I envisioned being in the mountains and not all packed into a small space. I guess we'll have to save up for that one otherwise I need to lower my expectations.

Instead we decided to make a trip around visiting our friends in Michigan and I thought it would be fun to visit Amish Country in Indiana as I once did with my family. We stayed at a Jellystone campground for 4 nights as it had many swimming pools which was a requirement the boys had. Unfortunately, only one of the days was warm enough to swim. It did have an indoor pool, although we thought it smelled too bad to swim in.

I don't know about you but I like to keep busy on my vacation. Why travel somewhere if you aren't going to see what is there? We did spend the entire first day at the campground swimming and playing which was nice seeing as we were practically the only people there so it felt as if we had the place to ourselves.

The next day we met up with our friends in Shipshewana IN. We walked through the enormous flea market but didn't buy anything as most of it just isn't worth it. Our (or was it just me?) favorite part was Ben's Soft Pretzels made right in front of you. I could have eaten them all day they were so delectable. I wanted more but decided maybe I should work on finding the recipe and making them at home instead. I did ask a few questions of the Amish bakers.

We then headed into the town which was fun as we drove right alongside the horse and buggies which were aplenty. I kept the windows rolled down so I could hear the constant clip clop of the horses hooves imaging I was in a different time and place.  The kids favorite part of the town was the toy stores which had so many quality and imaginative toys. My favorite part of town was the bulk foods store -- oh what good deals. I hadn't imagined I'd be stocking up on any food while on vacation but prices were too good to beat!

More on our vacation to come...

Monday, September 20, 2010

I am still here...

**Updated with pictures 9/22 --Are you shocked Heidi? :)-

Wow, it has been almost a month since my last post! Yes, I am still here just busy. I should post without waiting to download, edit, upload pictures and then maybe you'd know what is going on in our lives. And so I will start from where I left off.

My last post was getting projects ready for the County Fair. That included me. I have been entering my photography for more years than I can remember, always trying for that elusive first place ribbon. I suppose I should be happy to place at all as I do each year out of many entries. This year I was very picky in my selections. I have learned a few things after talking with judges in the past and going with George to his 4H photography class have learned what they are picky about. My favorite photo of all that I thought might have a chance came in the mail and I was disappointed in the printing but had no time to have it reprinted. I debated entering it at all but I didn't have anything else ready. I also entered one of Tank outside in the snow but I thought his face was a bit blurry. My favorite was a grouping of 4 shots of Missy blue jumping in the lake and then falling down. That ended up getting a second place and when I walked into the building where the photos are kept I saw that I had gotten a 1st place on not one but both of the photos I thought wouldn't make the cut. I was thrilled! After all these years of trying  -- I met my goal. :)

[caption id="attachment_782427" align="aligncenter" width="324" caption="Me with one of my 1st place pictures"][/caption]

We were busy fair week. The boys and I helped setup displays in the 4H building twice that week which was fun as we get to see all the different projects. This is the first year we have been able to be at the fair more than one day as we would normally be racing on Labor day weekend so we enjoyed going most every day for a little while rather than spend an entire day and be worn out. John and George helped serve food at the 4H food stand for 3 hours one day and George loved it, although his Daddy was a bit tired out. It was a good learning experience though and I so enjoyed watching the two of them working together waiting on people.

[caption id="attachment_782426" align="aligncenter" width="324" caption="John and George serving "cold foods" to customers"][/caption]

So that is about all from that week. Labor Day we began our vacation and headed on a week long trip. I will talk about that in the next post. (Hope I didn't bore you with this one!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

County Fair -- Judging Day

The boys have been working on projects to enter in the county fair and yesterday was judging day. Pete, Re-Pete and Tank are all "Cloverbuds" which means they aren't officially in 4H but enter for the fun of it. Tank was excited as it was his first year and he wanted to enter a painting. We finished his project but then his nerves got the better of him and he wanted to back out. I convinced him to stick with it and he did make it through. He was worried about talking to the judge all by himself about his project but I stood next to him to give him moral support. The younger kids all get participation ribbons and it is all fun with helpful hints to get them ready for the "real" judging in future years. Pete and Re-Pete are old pros and enjoyed talking about their photo posters they made and their legos. They can't wait until next year when they can actually get a 1st or 2nd place ribbon.

George was excited about his projects this year. He entered photography and legos again but this time decided to try decorating cupcakes. We found the idea to make corn on the cob cupcakes and they turned out really nice. Although trying to make them hold up to transport was a little difficult. Thankfully it wasn't an entire cake! Noah got a 1st place on them but as it turned out the judge really liked the cupcakes too and held onto them for later judging for higher awards. We went back to see if he could possibly receive a  higher award and unfortunately he did not, but we are so proud of him for his hard work and creativity. We later found out that there were 600 some entries in the food category and out of that his was put aside for special consideration which is an honor in itself! He already is planning to decorate a cake for next year.

[caption id="attachment_782412" align="alignleft" width="221" caption="George and Corn On the Cob Cupcakes"][/caption]

For anyone in the area look for the boys projects in the 4H building when you are at the fair. (Cupcakes won't be there due to the fact that they would be a spoiled mess). They all entered photos -- George took his own and the other boys made posters with photos I took but most have people you recognize in them. Our club is Willing Workers so you can visit our booth too for more pictures of them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Holland Fest

I grew up going to Holland Fest in a nearby town and looked forward to it each summer. It is a wonderful family festival celebrating the Dutch heritage (I'm 1/4 Dutch) and it was always kind of a family get-together as my Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles come also, sitting in the traditional spot -- at the Windmill.

Each year I would watch the Klompen dancers and it looked liked so much fun. Later on I thought if I ever had a daughter I would have her dress in costume and join in the dance. This year I finally decided to do it, although it was too late to be a dancer but anyone is able to dress up and scrub the streets to prepare them for the dancing.  A lady in our church has had her children involved in Klompen dancing for a long time and so she was kind enough to help me out in getting some costumes and rented wooden shoes for us. My Mom made a beautiful little dress for Missy. I was delighted that three of my boys also wanted to join in the fun.

The Town Crier walked the street announcing it had been declared too dirty for Klompen. And so the boys and men poured the water and the girls swept one street at the opening of the festivities which was followed by the Klompen Dancers and then the kids joined in the Wooden Shoe races. George found out that running in wooden shoes without a lot of padding really hurts the feet! Ouch! As if they didn't hurt just from walking in.

The next day was the parade and the "real deal" so the streets again needed to be prepared all the way down the parade route and then the Burgermeister and Town Crier come down the streets again and declare them clean. This time we all wore more socks and my feet felt better. George now had blisters so he smiled in spite of the pain and kept right on hauling buckets of water. I was very proud of him for giving it his best!

Holland Fest 2010 photo Haulingbuckets_zpsf8d3128e.jpg
Helping his brother get a pail of water

We are hoping that next year Pete and Re-Pete will join us as they saw how much fun we had. My sister and my nephew might join us also so my Mom is thinking she may start now on making costumes! :) I'm so thankful for a Mom who can sew so beautifully and quickly!

Holland Fest 2010 photo washingstreets_zpsd8f52f88.jpg
Washing the streets

Holland Fest 2010 photo Hollandfestgang_zps67af8a1b.jpg

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

George's 11th birthday!

Yesterday George turned 11. There is something about a firstborn as he hits those milestones first and brings more emotions to surface. As each birthday passes I look back and see how much more grown up he is and how much he has changed over the year. We had a good day yesterday.

George loves celebrations and tradition and has been counting down for so long and planning. He is my planner and while he hung streamers around the house he casually reminded me to put the traditional streamers in his door when he woke up, as if I could forget :). In my haste to try and accomplish things being that we had just returned from vacation, I was planning a quick breakfast of oatmeal when it dawned on me that I needed to make his favorite. So, I had a late night staying up to make the dough but it was worth it as I saw the happiness on his face as he awoke and realized that I hadn't forgotten.

John's family is visiting this week from Missouri so we had 25 people here for the party but I love a house full. I did try in vain to convince George to have an easier meal but again, he loves his traditional meal of kabobs, pasta salad, and fruit kabobs with a few extra things also.

This year George and his brothers are big into Daniel Boone. My Mom has the DVDs and they love to watch them and then role play. So, of course the cake he chose for this year was "Boone's Burrow" and while he had the picture in his mind of what it should look like it took a bit for me to get the mental picture. In the end, we figured it out together. The only downside was that I didn't order the figures I found in time and so the cake was just landscape but that didn't matter to George. He helped me put it together and decorate and it turned out cute, even without Daniel Boone (who of course arrived today).

Happy Birthday to my favorite 11 year old! :)

Boone's Burrow Cake
With Powder Kegs inside

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rainy Vacation

**Update -- Thank You Lord! The rain cleared and by early afternoon the sun was shining!

We are on vacation -- finally a real family vacation. Our last one was four years ago. Sure, we have traveled every summer but one since we were married but that was always to go racing. We tried to make those times restful and do a few fun things too but we always camped at the race track and it wasn't quite the same.  This time we are at a real campground with all the hookups and do not need to use a porta potty. Woo hoo!

So, we are in Wisconsin Dells a place I've been so many times since I was little that there is a lot to reminisce about when we return. We arrived on Wednesday and it was one of the most relaxing days John and I have had for awhile. We just sat at the pool soaking up the sun and watched the kids have a great time. George told us "this is the best vacation ever!". :)

But the next day the rain began and not just a little rain. We tried not to let it get us down and found one indoor thing to do and shopped a bit hoping for the rain to clear. It did for awhile in the afternoon so the kids could swim again but by that time our canopy on the motorhome had broken due to the weight of the rain. What a pricey thing to have break! Now, we are certainly thankful we don't do tent camping but not having the canopy stinks as we don't have enough space to keep things dry. Lincoln is with us and being that the rain won't stop he is sleeping in his crate in with us. As if our space wasn't cramped before. The kids look at all of the big motorhomes that have bump outs and only two people and wonder why they have more space than we do.  Maybe we could trade -- haha.

We woke up this morning to yet more rain and as I keep watching the doppler I see that it will be with us again most of the day. We are a bit discouraged as this is not the vacation we had planned. The kids are waiting to go on a boat tour and see a show - both outdoor activities and of course we all want to lounge by the pool again but we'll see what the day holds. John is ready to pack up and leave but more rain awaits at home so...

Hoping the rain will take a break!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boys and White Tile Floor

I am very casually starting to potty train Seppy. I have found the summer to work best for this task as I can let the child run around outside with a bare bottom and a long shirt. Seppy however has decided that he doesn't need a shirt to cover him and just runs around with nothing on. We live in the country where there is no one to see him so we're okay there.  His little body has quite a few mosquito bites in places I'd rather not have them but he doesn't notice.

Yesterday Seppy squatted down by the dog pen and left a little present there then excitedly ran into the house announcing it to us with evidence on his hand! Lovely. But it is a start at least and he was so happy to show us the spot. "I'll show you!" he kept repeating.

Today he was headed for the toilet insisting that he stand and lean in the way his friend "No-nan" does. But he made a puddle on the floor instead. I am still wishing that when we installed our white tile flooring in the bathroom that we would have known then what we know now. White tile floor and boys do NOT go together! And to top it off we now have a dog who loves to get through the gate every chance he gets to drink from the ever refreshing toilet water shedding his black hair in the process. Oh well.

Anyway, if I am consistent maybe Sep will get the hang of it in the near future and we will be diaper free! I can't even imagine!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Still Racing -- a bit smaller!

If you have been visiting my blog for awhile you may recall that John raced off-road (click on off-road race category on the side to read more) and each summer was spent with him working on his race car and us traveling to the various races. John had decided that he would take off a year as he needed a break but ended up selling his car instead as he thought it better to get out when he could. The night his car and trailer were picked up was an emotional one for all of us as it was so final.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="432" caption="John's race car leaving for the final time. :("][/caption]

He would love to race again but the way things are going now you really need a major sponsor and those are hard to come by.  John's ideal would be to do as the pros do and have a crew to work on the vehicle and he basically just drive it. But that is most likely not going to happen. And so, he has gone back to the form of racing he started with when he was a boy -- Remote Control Racing! :)

Last year the off-road races were sponsored by a company who makes remote control vehicles and so when John would win a race he would also win an RC truck. Now, each of the boys have one and John has a truck to race. He built an off-road track for them in our fields to race on and that has been a lot of fun. Now though, he found that 20 minutes from here there is an off-road RC track to race on and that has become John's new way to get in his racing.  He is quite good and the guys at the track said if he continues to come they won't have a chance. This is a lot closer of a venue and much more economical!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="469" caption="John has the black & red truck. "][/caption]

This weekend would be an off-road racing weekend up north at my favorite track. (Partly because we really like the church we worship with there). Each time we come to these weekends it is with a bit of nostalgia and thinking of what we would be doing if... those were good times together. But we are enjoying our summer and John is relieved that he does not have to be spending so much time on his car.  We are finding many things to fill up our weekends -- not sure how we ever did race.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fun with Photography -- Eyes

I have been looking online for tutorials and lessons to learn how to better use my camera. One of the sites I have been on is called I Heart Faces and last week I entered their contest with photos all focusing on eyes. My favorite pictures that others take are often focused on the eyes that have a brilliant light or a "catch light" to them and they really "pop". This is not always possible but I found the best time to look for the light shining in the children's eyes when outdoors is early morning or at dusk.

I am starting to get the hang of it but it is all in the positioning. Indoors it only works next to a window using natural light.  When you start noticing it, you'll catch on. I have found of course that many photos have the eyes enhanced using photo editing and now that I have PhotoShop Elements 8 (John bought me for my birthday!) it is quite fun to play with. Here are my two favorite eye pictures. Too bad they aren't of my own children! Mine aren't sitting still enough lately to get crystal clear eye shots. And when trying, we all zoomed in and took pictures of each others eyes including my own and I discovered that close ups of my own eyes really show wrinkles and that I do NOT like to see! (Pete told me that it doesn't show when I have my glasses on) :)

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="See the sparkle in his eyes?"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="He isn't smiling here but I love his big blue eyes. The pilot cap he wears to keep his hearing aids in really brings out the blue."][/caption]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bye Bye Crib :(

We are at a point in our lives that we have not been since we had George. We have had a crib and at times have had two cribs setup in our "nursery" for almost 11 years. Typically when our baby turns 2 or not too long after they move into a big bed out of necessity as a new baby needs the crib. When Pete and Re-Pete moved it was to a full-size mattress on the floor. And then we got bunk beds with a full-size on bottom. When Tank moved it was to a twin size bed that my Grandpa had made for George. When Missy Blue moved we were fortunate to receive a new bed for free!

And now, Seppy is 2 1/2 and this is the first time we have not needed the crib at this moment. We tossed around keeping him in a crib but when a friend had a toddler bed she no longer needed we decided it was time to move him. And oh how Seppy loves "my new bed!" He still shares a room with Missy as she does not want to be alone. I think they both would like to move in with their big brothers but there isn't enough room for 6 in that room. And so, it was with a few sentimental tears that I took down the crib (or as Sep says -- Mommy broke it) and packed it away. (For only the time being I hope.)

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