Saturday, December 27, 2014

Camping and a Birthday

All EG wanted to do for her birthday was go camping.  She did want to go to the beach where we went last year.  But, by the time I got around to looking for reservations, our favorite sites at our favorite beach were booked.  So, I had a plan B.  And it turned our really great!

Small campground about an hour from the house.  It was on a beautiful lake and our site was lakeside.  It did ended up being one of the coldest weekends of the year but we can tolerate almost anything if we can cuddle up in our warm camper at the end of the day!

Two other family joined us which made it extra special.

View from the camper.

The dock right in "our backyard."

The kids.

Tons of deer.  We about ran 2 over as we entered the park.  Trails to walk and bike and run.

EG's birthday party.

Sweet friends.

Sweet siblings.

Walking over a stream.

Family birthday at home.

It is wonderful when we can celebrate and birthday and go camping all in one.  What a great way to celebrate all kinds of blessings . . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Yup.  That's right.  Dodgeball.  Co-ed dodgeball no less!  In the early part of fall, our church youth group decided to participate in an area Dodgeball Competition.  At first I was like "no way."  We don't have time for this and it was dodgeball for goodness sake.

But, both girls were recruited along with all of the girlfriends (mostly because the boys needed at least two girls on a team) and the excitement started to grow.  After Sunday night youth they would get together and practice.  We would all go just to watch.  But, the next thing you know daddy was playing along with a handful of other men and it turned out to be a really great time!

It was so fun to watch the grown up men get really competitive.  They even let Boop practice with them and any other siblings who happened to be there.  The little girls would be ball getters and cheerleaders.

For all the practicing they did, unfortunately, they did not fair very well in the tournament.  I think we had the most teams present but didn't win a single trophy.  It was fun to watch, though, and the kids had a blast!

Just a great group of fun loving kids . . .

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pointe Pictures

A year ago, Nature Girl accomplished a pretty awesome feat in her ballet "career."  She was evaluated in her dance class for progressing to "going on pointe."  Huge step for ballerinas.  Unfortunately, at the time of her getting her pointe shoes, I didn't not have my camera so was unable to get pictures of her.

This year, when we had our annual Christmas pictures done, I asked if our photographer/friend/babysitter would take her pointe pictures.  And I couldn't have been more pleased.  She definitely has a gift and even after almost 10 years of ballet, I still love to watch her dance. . . . 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankful for Health

On Thanksgiving Thursday, the big girls and I ran in our local Turkey Trot.  Us and about 7000 others!  We met friends out there and had a great time.  Not to mention all, of us had great runs.  

The big girls completed a 5K.  The picture below is Nature Girl's back.  She is in the yellow.

These two are of Little Mama.  If you look close at the picture above, you will see a super sweet smile!

The three runners.  I had just completed my first 10K.

The three older kids have all been training with me as I prepare for my half marathon.  The girls run and walk.  Usually by themselves.  And Boop will go with me when I walk for an hour.  

I am super proud of them and their desires to be active.  I will continue to train and they will continue to be encouraging.

It really was a great way to start our day of thanksgiving.  Thankful for health and beautiful weather, family and friends . . . 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful for Hope

This past Tuesday I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life so far.  A deputy on my husband's shift was shot to death by a man who hated government and law enforcement and first responders.  My husband was on scene but not part of the ambush.  I went with my husband to the funeral.

Because the deputy was on my husband's shift, his shift was treated as part of the family.  All of the deputies on the shift met in a parking lot before heading, together, in their patrol cars, to the church.  It was rainy and gloomy.  I sat in his patrol car as I watched grown men, weighted down with bullet proof vests and 20 pound gun belts, with red rimmed eyes hug each other, asking "Are you OK?", "How are you doing?" Grief so visible.  It was surreal.  Almost like a movie.

The phone calls from my husband the day of the shooting provoked so many emotions in me, I can't even begin to describe them.  I confess, most days, I don't think about what he does.  I think if I dwell on it for too long, I would probably go slightly crazy.  There have been times when my mind has gone there.  The times when I try to call him and hours go by and I don't hear from him.  The time I answered the phone only to hear that he had been in a shoot out but was unharmed.  The time when there was a knock on the door and all I could see was a green law enforcement uniform on the other side.

Our life is different.  I get phone calls from him when he hears a gray van has been in an accident.  We are super protective of our kids.  There are places we are just are not able to go.  It is OK.  It is a small sacrifice to give him, me, peace of mind.

I was a mess Tuesday morning.  But, as we approached the church I was encouraged by the outpouring of law enforcement and first responders.  They filled the church.  Two thousand strong including friends and family.  I was even more encouraged by the service it self.  The preacher was retired law enforcement so he got it.  He understood the sacrifices made by these men and women and their families.  And was able connect with the majority of people in attendance.  To share an eternal hope.

He said that the greatest gift that the fallen deputy could give his wife was the guarantee she would some day see him in Heaven.  A number of years ago he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  He acknowledge that Jesus lived a sinless life, He was sacrificed on the cross for our sins, died, was buried and rose again.  And is now sitting at the right hand of the Father.  So is the fallen deputy.  What a gift to his wife and kids!

She was the picture of this hope.  All. Day. Long.  I watched her.  Amazed by her peace.  She was gracious and loving and abundant with hugs for all.  I even saw her laugh!  She knew.  She knew.  She knew there will be hard days.  But, she knew this life was temporary.  She knew she would miss him terribly.  For as long as she is on this earth.  But she knew she would see him again some day.

It gave me such hope to watch her.  She was faith in action.  Her life, his life has affected thousands.  Affected thousands for the loving, saving, grace of Christ!

There are no guarantees in this life.  There will be great sorrow.  But there is also great joy.  And there is an abounding peace in those who have trusted Christ as their Savior.  I believe it with all my heart and soul.  And God has aloud me to see it with my very own eyes.

Thank you Chris and Erika Smith for sharing your love of Christ.  And a hope that is eternal.  At the most sorrowful time in your life . . .

(Pictures from the Law Enforcement Procession from the church to the gravesite.  I have heard there were 700 cars, 20 miles long and traffic was at a stand still for 45 minutes.  The streets and interstate overpasses had people saluting, holding flags, saying "thank you.")

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Are You Ready for Some Football??

What is a dad to do when he has two tickets to one of the biggest games of the season?  And four kids?  And one wife?  We agonized for over a week about which kid would be able to go.  Of course, I could have gone.  But, going to the games isn't for me anymore.  I like the comforts of my own house where I can scream and yell and cheer on the team with my family.

This was a great opportunity and it came down to reverse birth order.  Yup, that's right.  Reverse birth order.  Boop had been to a game with daddy the year before.  So, it only made sense for Little Mama to go.  Which worked out pretty well.  She was willing to pay her siblings money that she has been saving for a possible missions trip in order to go!  She wanted to go that bad.

Boop and Nature Girl were good sports.  They didn't whine or complain at all!  We spent the whole night watching the game on the TV trying to find them.  Sissy was at the game and able to find them and hang out a little bit at half time.  And, they saw a bunch of kids from our church Youth Group selling peanuts there.

It was one of the most exciting games.  Ever.  So glad my Little Mama and her daddy got to share it together. . . . 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book Club - Farmer Boy

The past few weeks we have been reading Farmer Boy.  Boop and EG are really enjoying it.  I try to read about a chapter a day and they usually ask for more.  There are so many interesting chores etc. in the book. Like making candy and ice cream and butter.  Or storing food.  Things, nowadays, we take for granted.

A few weeks ago, while we were reading the book, we ran across the chapter where the author describes how a farm family back in the 1800s would keep ice frozen throughout the summer.  They go to a frozen over lake, cut out chunks of ice and then place it in an ice house and pack it hard with sawdust.  And, supposedly, it would keep ice frozen throughout the summer.

So, I got this great idea for book club to give it a try.  The night before book club, hubby sawed some wood so we could get a bunch of sawdust.  The next morning we got a container, placed sawdust on the bottom of the container, placed some ice in the container and packed a bunch of sawdust around it.  We filled the container over the top so when the top was place on, it packed the sawdust down even more.

Then we took it to the park during lunch time and book club time.  After lunch and presentations, we unpacked the ice.  And it was still frozen.  Not the least bit melted.  The sawdust was not at all moist.  I really had been doubtful that it would work.  But it did!  I realize this was just a couple of hours but I was amazed but the outcome.  As were the kids.

We had another family rig up a plastic glove and a bucket and they demonstrated how a cow is milked.  The kids had a blast doing that!  The ended up with milk everywhere.  It was fun to recreate how some of the chores were done back then.  A new appreciation for a freeze and gallon of milk!

I am thinking we might try making butter next. . . .

Sawdust in the bottom of the container.

Ice in the container.

Container packed full of sawdust.

After we checked if it had melted, we took the sawdust covered piece of ice out and let it melt in the sun.

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Training" So Far

So, I am in about the fourth month of training for my half marathon in February.  I know they have a couch to 1/2 in like 12 weeks or something.  But, I have learned, for me, it is important to go super slow.  I am still working on a 10K.  But, that is OK.  The one week I did four miles pretty fast, under a 10 minute mile and I couldn't walk for about 3 days.  The only thing I can think of, is that I just went way too fast.  I took it really slow for the rest of the week.  Ran the 4 miles again the next Saturday and didn't hurt at all.

Somethings I have learned or just want to share:

-Mondays are hard.  I am sluggish.

-When the sun is coming up among the clouds I can't help but picture Jesus, coming back, riding on those     clouds. (I have seen some spectacular sunrises.)

-I am a firm believer that the days I walk for strength and endurance really help in being able to run much better for longer distances.

-Apparently muscles take up more space than flab.  I put on a pair of jeans the other day only to find them    tight.  Not what I was expecting.

-I have a deathly fear of stray/loose dogs.  I see one at least once a week.  And I have called hubby more than once to come and scare the dogs away.  I carry this ridiculous stick with me when I run.  Hubby says it won't do a thing to protect me.  I say it will buy me time and it is kind of like a security blanket.

-Just like everything else in life, we make time for what we think is important.  And right now, running kind of is important for me.  I get up crazy early, have my quiet time and off I go.  There are many days where it is super, super hard.  And the last thing I want to do before the sun comes up is lace up my shoes.  But, I am serious about this for a bunch of good/different reasons.

-My kids have been phenomenal.  If they wake up before I get home, they either get started on their stuff for the day or just lay peacefully on the couch.  I have my running schedule worked out so that my long days are at the end of the week and have less interference with school.

-I never thought a 2 mile run would be a short day.

-I didn't realize that I would have to do additional/different types of exercises to tone different parts of my lower body.  That will have to be next year's project.

-Hubby sometimes shows up part way through my exercising.  He likes to talk.  I can barely breathe.

-Heart muscles develop faster than leg muscles.  So, even though I feel like I can run more because I can breathe, I really need to stop because my leg muscles don't start screaming until I am done.  And then it is too late.

-This past Saturday I ran 5 miles.  Tomorrow I am to run 5.5.

-I have met a neighbor who also runs the same time I do.  We ask each other how far we are running for the day.  It is kind of encouraging.

-My first and probably only race before the 1/2 will be a Turkey Trot with me and my big girls.

I think that is it for now.  I am so glad I started this.  So thankful for friends and family who encourage and grateful to God for a body that can still run at this age. . .

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Start 'Em Young

Every month we try to go shooting.  The three bigger kids have been doing it for over a year now.  When I mentioned to EG that we were going shooting again, she had a fit.  She did not want to go.  It is hard for her.  There usually is no one out there her age.  And we are there for a couple of hours.  She has to be so careful where she goes.  And she has to wear eye and ear protection.  Sometimes it is hot and buggy.  Well, you get the picture.

So, when she voiced the fact that she didn't want to go, I mentioned that maybe, just maybe she could shoot this time.  It would depend on daddy and on the rules of the range.  I had asked once before and the gentlemen that run the range said usually around 6.  Just because of the ability to concentrate and the ability to follow directions etc.

As much of a handful as EG is sometimes, I knew if shooting was something she wanted to do, she would do what she needed to do to make it happen.  And I was right!  She wanted to shoot.  Hubby said fine.  As did the men at the range.

She did awesome!  It took a little bit for her to actually hit the target but ya gotta start some where.  She was patient and attentive.  She listened and didn't argue.  By the time we were done, I think she had hit about four targets.

(EG listening intently to all of the safety rules.)

I don't know if she will be interested in shooting.  Or any good at it.  But, she definitely got the best start possible.  And she has the very best teacher . . . 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Boop's Birthday Continued

It isn't unusual in our house to celebrate a birthday for over a week.  

About a week before Boop's birthday, daddy arranged with his brother to take Boop and his two friends (and one other dad) out to fish.  The boys spent the night and had to get up at 6AM.  I went to wake them and they were already up!  Think they were just a little bit excited to go fishing!

They had a blast and stayed out most of the day.  Each boy caught at least one fish.  And one of Boop's friends actually caught a keeper!  They had big fun but were super exhausted when they got home.

We then had a family birthday on the actual night of his birthday.  Everyone was here.  Even a great aunt from Wisconsin!  Sissy bought him some football gear and we got him a football.  Isn't he adorable?!?!  I just love his smile.

He got a couple of gifts he really, really liked.  As evidenced on his face.  He got a great Lego toy and the Lego movie.

He is such a super sweet kid.  Thankful my little man . . . 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Digs

In the middle of summer, we finally got around to updating and refreshing Boop's room.  I am not sure how long it had been since his walls had a fresh coat of paint!

Awhile ago one of Boop's friend's dad made him a loft bed.  It actually hangs from the ceiling I think.  Anyway, Boop loved it and wanted one of his own.  It actually made sense for us to do it in his room because it would give him a ton more floor space.

So, while we were painting his room a nice taupe, daddy went ahead and made him a loft bed too.  It is super high and I was a little nervous at first about him being up so far up there.  But, it has been a couple of months now and it has worked like a charm.

We still have bookshelves to make and a little reading nook.  Not to mention a place to put all of his Legos.  Hopefully we will have it done by the time he graduates from high school.

An additional benefit is, EG got a real bed in the girls' room.  Which she loves.  It is a little tight in there but it looks nice and every one seems happy.

The big girls are talking about redoing their room.  We shall see.  First things first, we still need to make a ladder for Boop to get up in his bed . . .

(The bed on the bottom is now EG's.  And hubby built a nice looking wooden side so Boop won't roll out.  And right now he uses a utility ladder to get up and down.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Away She Goes

So, EG had been teasing her daddy for about 2 weeks to take the training wheels off of her bike.  She wanted to ride her bike without training wheels.  We knew once they came off, it would take a little work to get her to ride.  We told her when the wheels came off she could only ride with a helmet on, in the back yard, until she learned how to ride it without falling.

Finally, about a week ago, on a Saturday, daddy finally had time to take the training wheels off.  We had been gone most of the day.  When we got home I told her that the wheels were off.  She was super excited.  She went right into the backyard and picked up her bike and got on it.  I didn't have a chance, right at that moment, to help her out.

A few minutes later, Boop comes in and says EG is riding her bike.  And sure enough she was.  Apparently Boop held the bike for her so she could get on and get started and then gave her a little shove and off she went!  She was riding like a champ within a few minutes.  She was riding all over the backyard.  Boop took a video but I can't seem to load it on my computer to include it in the blog.

The next day, we took her out on the road and she did fabulous.  I would like to say that we had a part in it, but that would not be the truth.  Boop saved the day!  It was all him.

The both accomplished a lot that day . . .

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Beach, Besties and Bugs

Some time during the late spring, I had this idea to go camping during the beginning of the up coming school year.  Just me and the kids.  To kind of take our show on the road.  Do what we do.  Just some where else.

My goal was to have hubby drop us off at a beach campground about 2 hours away.  Leave us down there for a bunch of days and we would do school and life and then he would come pick us up on his next day off. 

I shared the idea with a couple of my friends and our "school fall camping trip" was born.  Our three families, 15 in all minus husbands, spent a few days at the beach, camping and doing school and life.  It was an experience to say the least.

My friends went down on a Wednesday.  The hubbies helped set up and then went home.  As it turns out, the bugs were super, super bad.  So, when I came down the following day, I had to buy 11 extra bottles of bug spray.  Bad, bad bugs!

It was decided, that to avoid the bug problem, we would have a plan of how our days would go.  And the plan went something like this:  breakfast inside, when the sun came out and the morning heated up which would make the mosquitoes go away, the kids would play.  Then about mid-morning we would go to the beach until early afternoon.  We would come back, eat lunch, do some school and then let the kids play. Dinner would be early to beat the bugs before dusk and then we would head to the beach for sunset.  We would play at the beach again until bath time.  And then we all come back, get cleaned and go to bed.  Or at least hang out in our campers.  The bugs were so bad that we couldn't really be out after sunset.

We went out to eat one night and had ice cream another day.  One day the waves were so big that the kids got to basically surf on their boogie boards.  The boys did a lot of bike riding and exploring.  

It wasn't exactly how I envisioned it.  But, I think it worked out well all the same.  The kids had fun.  We got to see lots of nature.  Crabs, snakes, a racoon that was not the least bit afraid of us.  And bugs.  Lots and lots of bugs.

I am glad we did the trip.  And we learned a lot about camping without husbands.  It was an experience and it definitely was a memory maker.  I think next time it will be in the mountains.  Maybe somewhere cooler and definitely a place not quite so buggy. . .