Saturday, August 30, 2008

Homeward bound

At 7 a.m. this morning, we climbed out of bed to pack up the van, stuff ourselves in like sardines, and set out for home. Summer is over; it's time to get back to the grind. First, though, we have to make a stop at "Camp Grandmom" to pick up Nannie. She's been enjoying these past 8 days with Grandmom, Pops, & Beau-- daily walks in the woods, treats after everytrip outdoors, her very own bed... what more could a 12 year old pup ask for? As for us, we are t.i.r.e.d. Once again, we need vacation after our vacation. Instead of returning home rested and renewed, we're all exhausted and desperate for sleep.

As this moment, we still have 4 hours to go, but hey, due to modern technology, I can blog while we're driving! It's a great way to pass the time while Lolli sleeps, the boys play tic tac toe in the back, and Hubby drives (he's in the zone-- a conquer-the-highway mentality, if you know what I mean). Here are a few pics to prove that we're all still sane and even smiling at the moment, though I can't promise the same by the time we finally reach our destination :o) Brace yourself-- these are exciting!

Here's Hubby. And that's me behind him; well, my hand, at least.

Ever-sweet Lollipop~

And our wild & crazy boys~

There's just nothing like a good road trip to test the bonds of family togetherness!

Friday, August 29, 2008

A whole new ball game

As varied as my interests are, politics doesn't usually top the list. Hubby, on the other hand, loves to stay up-to-date on all of the current happenings, both in and out of Washington, and he's very good about passing along all the important news. After today's developments, however, I think I'll be paying closer attention...

For the past several months, as the race for President has limped along, I've not been thrilled with the developments. I've just never been crazy about John McCain (given the alternative, however, he'd certainly be my choice). As of today, however, with the official introduction of Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, I'm sold. A long-time citizen of the state of Alaska, this socially conservative mother of five seems to have taken the political world by storm. I'm extremely impressed with what I've seen of her thus far, but there's one issue in particular that has emphatically tipped the scales in her direction. Palin values life, plain and simple. After the birth of her fifth child this past April, a son born with Down's Syndrome, she released this statement:

"Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through
early testing he would face special challenges,
and we feel privileged that God would entrust us
with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy
as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby
is created for good purpose and has potential to make
this world a better place. We are truly blessed."

Well said, Mrs. Palin... you have my vote.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The simple life

Life is so simple at the beach. Think about it... there's no need for television to entertain; you have the pounding surf. There's no need for treadmills and gym memberships; you have the soft white sand. There's no need for fancy clothing; t-shirts and sloppy shorts are enough. There's no need for gourmet dinners; pbj and fresh melon do just fine. How I love this lifestyle! Can you just imagine living this way for the entire summer?? How fabulous would that be?! I think I'll make this addition to my ever-changing wish list: a charming summer cottage, nestled in the dunes, decorated in shades of white with soft blue accents, not too big, not too small-- just right for our summer holiday... a gal can dream, can't she??

Anyhoo, for seven years now we've been venturing south with hubby's side of the family for a fun-filled week on the coast, and each year our party grows. When we started coming here, Bub was 3, Noh-man was one, and their blue-eyed cousin was only 3 months old. Now we're up to 7 kidlets and 6 adults (we're so glad you came this year, Poppa!), and my, how neat it's been to see our number increase! Each year we need a little more space and each time we consume a little more food, but oh, is it fun!

As they do every summer, the little ones are having a ball... they've been tossed about by the waves like lettuce in a salad bowl, and still they go back for more. They've scoured the beaches in search of new and exciting treasures and have come back with goodies we've never seen here before. They'd sleep in the surf if they could; as it is, they only return to the sand when their bodies are practically screaming for a rest. It's such a treat to see them all laughing and playing together, thriving on one another's company and delighting in the wonder of God's beautiful creation. Family truly is a blessing!

Well, I'd best be on my way for now... it's hard to believe that today is Thursday. Like with most things, I find myself wondering-- where does the time go? We have one more full day on the beach before we pack up our things, load up the van, and head home. Ready for a new school year, a fresh start... and more exciting adventures to come our way!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Aahhh... the beach!

I just love the beach... the sun, the fresh air, the sand (well, not so much the sand), the roar of the ocean, the striped sky at sunset, the sea birds soaring overhead... children laughing and playing and surfing and swimming and shelling and jumping and digging and sculpting and running and sleeping well!

I have tons of pictures to share of our adventures thus far; unfortunately, hubby's computer is not cooperating right now. Or perhaps Blogger isn't cooperating-- somebody's not cooperating and, as a result, I can't get my photos to upload. So... you'll have to wait until next week when I get back to my trusty Mac. Until then... know that we're having a blast. The sun is shining (though this morning a brief shower passed overhead... oh, how I pray it's raining at home! Mom, keep up the rain dance!!), the kiddos are flying high, and the adults are still sane, even if barely. Hope you all are having a great Monday (hopefully a rainy one for you, Ma); I'll post more soon! Love from us all...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Simply the best

Exactly one year ago today I said goodbye to my very best friend, Jackson, as he lost his battle with a nasty, incurable disease.  I never saw it coming... one day he was here, seemingly strong and healthy, and then 6 days later, he was gone.  Gone.  How was it possible?  I knew that, without a doubt, the days and weeks ahead would be terribly difficult to endure; I never would have guessed, however, that one year later the pain would still be so fresh.

I miss Jack terribly; eleven years together was simply not enough. Oh, what I would give to have him back...

Heavenly Father, please know that even though I don't understand, I trust You and I know that You had a reason for calling Jack home.  One day, I hope to see him again!  In the meantime,  thank you for the gift You gave our family when You gave us Jack... he truly was the best! 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time for a make-over

In two days we leave for vacation. The day after we return, we start school. That very same week, swimming and soccer resume, and between those 2 sports alone, we have a practice or a game every day of the week. On top of that, Big Man starts preschool and all 3 boys start AWANA and co-op. The perfect time to undertake a new project? Why not?!

It's time for a make-over, and no, not for me (though it does sound like tons of fun!)... for the kitchen. It's time to finally rid this house of the 1980's floral that's been adorning the kitchen walls and the busy blue vine in the adjoining hallway. Mom and I took the plunge yesterday and started peeling like crazy, and hubby even joined in the "fun" last night after work. We started off on a high note as the border strip and the striped kitchen paper came down very easily. The vine in the hallway, however... not so much. Progress there has been painfully slow, but we're making progress nonetheless. (Sorry, G, that I wasn't able to save any for you-- I know you've had your eye on this stuff for a while!)

In this little hallway, we're only taking the top portion off as beadboard will cover the rest. It's amazing just what a difference a little bit makes-- I can actually see white walls! Oh, I can't wait 'til it's done!
Here's Mom, always the hardest worker in the bunch. Thanks, Ma, for all your help-- I wouldn't be getting this project done without you!

Nannie is completely unphased by the work in progress. Wallpaper is coming down all around her and still she sleeps.
So, there you have it. Lots still to do, but that's ok; we're getting there. Wallpaper-be-gone will surely be the theme of these next two days. Well, that and packing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

A view of the Bird's Nest in Beijing... don't you just love the Olympics?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My reality check

Here's a quote that's got me thinking (and let me warn you, it's a tough one):

"My children, my precious darling children!
What I want you to become, I must become myself."
-- Elizabeth Prentiss

Yikes.  Did you catch that??  "What I want [my children] to become, I must become myself."  I think Ms. Prentiss hit the nail on the head.

I'm embarrassed to say that my reality is far from this ideal.  What my children see in me on a fairly regular basis in not what I want for them.  Instead of showering them with the love of Christ, I too frequently model for them a life overcome with the distractions of this world.  All too often I get so caught up in correcting their speech and their motives and their behavior that I fail to see the areas in my own life-- the real heart issues-- that are in such desperate need of repair.  That's a big, big problem.

If I want the very best for my children, then they need to see the very best in me.  And that's what I want: souls set free by the power of the Cross, hearts fully surrendered to the Lord, and minds renewed by His Spirit... Lives, ready and willing to be used by God for His greater purpose and glory.  My children need to see these things in me.  Every day.  In the good and in the bad... a mom whose love for her Lord motivates everything she does.  It's time to set aside the cares of this world and focus on the eternal... there's just nothing that matters more.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in [me] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6  

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sweet dreams, Big Man

Even firefighters need sleep, and evidently this little one hasn't been getting enough of it.  When his favorite tv program can't keep him awake, you know he's pooped.
On the agenda for tomorrow... a nap!

A Sunday Gathering

A pool party with family, delicious food, and absolutely perfect weather... what more can you ask for on a Sunday afternoon in August??  The day was a real treat-- I don't think anyone departed with an ounce of energy to spare or with any room left in their belly for more.  We feasted all day long and then went home tired!  So... when can we do it again? 

Well, you know what they say... a picture is worth a thousand words.  So here are a few photos of the afternoon-- they can sum up the spirit of the day better than I can!  

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rejoice, the Lord is King!

I awoke this morning with this hymn in my head and thought I'd share it with you~
 I pray you have a glorious morning in the house of the Lord!

Rejoice, the Lord is King!

Rejoice, the Lord is King!  Your Lord and King adore;
Rejoice, give thanks and sing, and triumph ever more;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o'er earth and Heav'n,
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv'n; 
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God's right hand till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He all His foes shall quell, shall all our sins destroy,
And every bosom swell with pure seraphic joy;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope!  Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th'archangel's voice
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!

-- Charles Wesley, 1744

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The King of the Cube

Over the past 8 days, we've cheered more, we've screamed more, we've danced more than ever, and it's.  been.  fun.   The events unfolding in the Beijing Water Cube have been nothing short of amazing... awe-inspiring... and oh, such a joy to witness.  The Phelps phenomenon has captivated us all.  Eight gold medals and 7 world records.... the skeptics said it couldn't be done; Phelps proved them wrong. 

Thank you, Michael Phelps, for setting the bar so high and for persevering to the bitter end.  You're in a class all by yourself...  

Friday, August 15, 2008

He's magical~

... there's just no better way to say it.  Congratulations, Michael Phelps!

"Mom, she's not falling!"

That's what I heard from across the room as Big Man watched in fascination.  For several days now, I've been very intentional about working with Lollipop in this area-- as her 6 month birthday came and went, I realized that I had not been giving her enough floor time (translate== too much in-Mommy's-arms time), so I determined to help her "practice" every day until she was able to sit on her own.  Well, yesterday, Lolli was playing contentedly on her mat when Big Man decided to work with her himself.  I watched as he tenderly raised her to a sitting position and then... let go! (I wasn't expecting that!) Fortunately, her "practicing" had paid off... she was sitting up all by herself!  I managed to grab my camera in the nick of time~  
  Well... she's almost topple-free.  Every once in a while she'll reach too far for a toy and, oops...
wind up horizontal!
But Big Man is always ready to set her upright again :o).  He's a wondeful big brother and a super helper... most of the time!
Now that Lolli can check "learning to sit" off her to-do list, I'm sure she'll be moving on to bigger and better things... I just don't think I'm ready for a crawler!!  Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy a few months of stationary-Lolli, but with 3 active brothers around, she just might surprise us and launch forth sooner.  You know what they say-- ready or not...!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dollar Night at the Fair

Last night was Dollar Night at the County Fair.  We were there.. along with everyone else in the world!  Last year we went on a Thursday night (we were very careful to avoid the weekends when the crowds would certainly be the worst) and the timing was perfect!  This year, however, when we made plans with our good friends from church, none of us thought to check the fair schedule.  We never thought to consider Dollar Night and just assumed we were "safe."  We were not, however, and through the course of the few hours we were there, a very firm idea grabbed hold, took root, and rattled through my head all night long... we will never go to the fair on Dollar Night again!  It's just now worth it.  It took us almost an hour to park, the lines were a mile long, and the crowds were gy-normous.   

All my grumblings aside, we still managed to have a great evening.  Good fellowship makes for a delightful time, regardless the circumstances, and the kiddos were still able to ride all their favorites-- the Hurricane, the Hi-Roller (according to Noh-man, his "worst nightmare come true"), the ferris wheel, the carousel.  We ate our $5 funnel cake (did you catch that?  5 bucks!) and drank our $2 coke (the size of a church communion cup); we smelled the smells (and boy, were there some strong odors present) and gawked at the colorful folks walking past.  If you've never been to a county fair, you must go if only for the people-watching.  It really is a very educational experience! 

I wish I had a few photos to share-- unfortunately, when I turned on my camera to take my first picture, it immediately shut down due to a dead battery.  And, of course, I had no replacement battery on hand, much to my dear husband's dismany.  He keeps reminding me that he bought an extra battery for that very reason, but have I even taken it out of the package?  Um, no.  (Note to self... charge extra battery today and put it in my camera case.)  So... no photos of the bright lights or the gorgeous almost-full moon or the boys laughing at near-hysteria heights.  It's so fun to watch them let go and enjoy the delights of childhood... 

It really was a fun, fun time; we look forward to going back again next summer-- it's become a tradition now and who am I to break tradition??  If any of you have any interest in going with us, we'd love to share the experience with you.  And no worries... we won't be going on Dollar Night!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mancakes & Menstown

This is a Mancake.  The very last one, in fact... the latest and greatest creation to come out of "Menstown."  (What's "Menstown," you ask?  Well, let me see if I can offer a fair definition, seeing as how I am not a man!  To my understanding, Menstown is any gathering of the guys, both large and small, and its primary goal is to enjoy great time together with 1) good--often hot & spicy-- food, 2) quality programming on tv-- generally sports or war movies!, and/or 3) any other manly thing they can conjure up.)   This past weekend, while the ladies were away, Pops, Daddy, Bub, Noh-man and Big Man spent 50 hours in Menstown and had a fabulous time! 
As for the "mancakes"-- the  guys decided to try something new for breakfast on Saturday morning.  Pops made pancakes the usual way but then decided, with Bub's help, to add a secret ingredient.  Now for any of you who know my dad, you know that he is a hot sauce fanatic-- hot sauce usually tops most any meal he eats.  So naturally, I assumed it would be the secret ingredient.  Well I was close, but no cigar.  It was... are you ready for this?... crushed red peppers!  Have you ever heard of such a thing?? No, I hadn't either, but evidently, the experiment worked and the "Mancakes" received rave reviews from all.  Who'd a thunk it?!

Fortunately the men's weekend together was a huge success.  Of course, their time together is always great, but this weekend was an extra fun treat.  They did all sorts of neat things-- they spent an afternoon at an awesome children's museum, they watched the Olympics, they stayed up very late, and they dined on who-knows-what.  Curious as I was about what my children had consumed in my absence, I decided to ask about their meals... had they eaten any fruit while we were away?  Nope.  Any vegetables?? Bub: "Does macaroni and cheese count?"  How about beverages-- did you drink anything other than soda?  Bub again: "Um yeah-- I had a glass of orange juice yesterday."  Hmmm.  I'm not sure what they lived off of for 2 days and nights, but I did find an empty box of these on the counter:

Notice the weight on the box-- 3 lbs, 6 oz.  I'm sure that box was at least half full when we left.  Not anymore!  They also left us a few of these... evidence that they did eat something requiring utensils~
Anyhow, the guys apparently had a great time on their own, so who am I to complain?  As an added bonus, they all looked great when we returned and didn't have any horror stories to report. One never knows!  They even ran to greet us when we pulled up the drive.  Big Man offered Corrine a squeeze but refused to smile for the camera~
Noh-man and Pops were a bit more cooperative.

I'm very proud of my main men-- they did a super job while we were gone!  Now, does this mean the ladies will get to take more girls' weekends away??

Monday, August 11, 2008

Go USA!!

I'm still trying to find a photo of the entire men's relay team, but for now, I think Phelps's reaction to the men's record-breaking victory says it all.  Truly awesome!
Photo credits go to

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Truly amazing!

Oh. My. Goodness.  If you went to bed early... if you turned off your tv too soon... if you were doing anything other than watching the United States Men's relay team compete tonight, let me just tell you that you you missed THE race of the entire Olympic games.  As mom would say, it was Pha-nomenal!  Phelps, Jones, Weber-Gale, and Lezak smashed the world record, smoked the French, and walked away with the gold medal-- it was truly unbelievable, possibly the best relay race of all times!!  And yes, if you're keeping track, that's 2 for 2 for Phelps!   

Lollipop's New Friend

This is Cosmo, a spunky little wild man of a pup... and Lolli's newest friend.  He's a two year old golden doodle-- the constant companion of my brother, Dave and his wife, Wilma-- and a truly delightful dog.  This past weekend  he was the perfect host to my mom and my cousin, Corrine, Lolli and me after we traveled south to visit them all and attend a baby shower for Wilma (she and Dave are expecting twins in October!).  

We have all enjoyed Cosmo's company on several previous occasions, but this was Lolli's first encounter w/ the little guy.   She gladly shared her toys and her play mat, too, but when she started tugging on his paws and whiskers, Cosmo had to draw the line.  Fur-tugging was off limits; he simply would not tolerate it!  That was ok with her, though; eventually he came back and she, of course, loved every second of his attentions.  She even stole a few seconds of play time with Uncle Dave.  We certainly appreciate their patience and hospitality, especially that of Cosmo-- the arrival of a little screech owl could have severely disturbed his otherwise peaceful home, but he proved that he could hang... and he also showed us all that he will most certainly make a wonderful companion for his newest siblings this fall-- they'll be very privileged to have such a faithful, and very furry, friend.

Thanks, Dave, Wilma, & Cosmo, for your opening your home to us... we had a great time!