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Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Minute Homemade

Cutting out the holes
I challenged David with a project this year for my dad for Christmas.  We had some extra stuff left over from our garage sale this past summer. Sy and Betsy didn't recognize it and Mom and Dad didn't recognize it and so Dad wanted to throw it away. I went through and took out a valuable part of the extra large "space bag" that the stuff was packaged in. Still, none of us know where it came from.

Inside, a treasure to me...a set of mini billiard balls. I saw in my head first thing "clock for Mom and Dad's basement for Christmas". Truth of the matter is, they sat in our garage all fall and a couple weeks before Christmas I mentioned it to David. He said it was totally doable. (I had already picked up the 12x12 shadow box and felt to make the face so I am glad he was on board!)

Finished in the nick of time!
The busy-ness of Christmas and the end of the year gave us very little time for homemade presents. So, on Christmas afternoon, after the opening of the presents at our house, David and I started work on Dad's present for the December 26th Grand Central Christmas celebration. I hate when we wait til the last minute and I hate that we do it all of the time. But, when all was said and done? The clock turned out AWESOME! David rocked all of the woodworking part of it and enjoyed his tools and space to work in the garage.

Happiness is homemade!
I glued on the felt with wood glue and a hot glue gun holds the balls in place from the back. David figured out a great way to hang it with all of the information he has gleaned from watching his favorite woodworking shows. It was pretty heavy with the weight of the wood and balls so it needed to be supported well.

It is now hanging downstairs in the basement by the pool table at Mom and Dad's and looks right at home. I loved this project because it was perfect for Dad and I got to work with David to make something functional and fun!

Monday, December 22, 2014

An Eighth Grade Education?

I found an old email I received a few years back that I thought I would share.  It is a sample of an Eighth Grade Exam in 1895. Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? 

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS, and reprinted by the Salina Journal. Maybe while you are sitting around enjoying extra time off with the family you can quiz some of your relatives!  How many would be able to pass the Eighth grade.  Personally, I think I would have some studying to do!  Good luck!
(Time, one hour)

  1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters. 
  2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications. 
  3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph. 
  4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of"lie," "play," and "run." 
  5. Define case; Illustrate each case. 
  6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation. 
  7. (7 - 10) Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar. 
(Time, 1.25 hours)  

  1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic. 
  2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold? 
  3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare? 
  4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals? 
  5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton. 
  6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent. 
  7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre? 
  8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent. 
  9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods? 
  10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt. 
U. S. History 
(Time, 45 minutes) 
  1. Give the epochs into which U. S. History is divided. 
  2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus. 
  3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War. 
  4. Show the territorial growth of the United States. 
  5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas. 
  6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion. 
  7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe? 
  8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865 .. 
(Time, one hour) Do we even know what this is?? 
  1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication? 
  2. What are elementary sounds? How classified? 
  3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals 
  4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?) 
  5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule. 
  6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each. 
  7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup 
  8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last. 
  9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays. 
  10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication. 
(Time, one hour) 
  1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend? 
  2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas? 
  3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean? 
  4. Describe the mountains of North America. 
  5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco. 
  6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U. S. 
  7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each. 
  8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude? 
  9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers. 
  10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Whirlwind Baking Night

Thursday night Ryan came home and said "Mom...I only have TONIGHT to bake the Christmas scones I wanted to make for my class tomorrow." Oh yes...the Christmas scones! Ryan had come home earlier in the week and got it in his head that he wanted to bake Christmas scones for his class for Friday, their last day of school before the Christmas break.  I have to admit, I put him off for awhile...four days to be exact!

Ryan loves my scone recipe.  He has actually made it a few times himself.  His idea was to crush up some candy canes and instead of putting dried cranberries in, (which is how I make them...he makes them with chocolate chips!) He chose crushed up candy canes and white chocolate chips and they turned out GREAT! He over planned and so there were as many left over as he made for his class! (Lucky us!)

After about ten minutes of bumping around in the kitchen I realized he had it under control and although, he never said "get out", I knew he was taking pride in his recipe and I found things to do out of his way!  He did use the help of his sisters along the way when he got into the middle of everything!

It was after the dust settled when I realized the extent of his baking project.  Actually, it was after everyone had gone to bed and the aftermath stared me in the face! Next lesson will be "clean as you go"! I just couldn't tackle the mess before bed and as always, I knew that it would be there for me in the morning and I would be better able to deal with it.  So, my morning is planned...I am cleaning my kitchen so we can bake more tonight!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 - A Year in Review

Merry Christmas to all we love far and near!
I love that the Christmas season starts with Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for what God has blessed us with that I can't even put it into words.  Life isn't at all easy, but I can't look at anything in our life and not see God's hand in it.  He is good, He is sovereign and He is divine.  To know that His fingers craft the story of our lives leaves me speechless.

So, what have we been up to in 2014? Catching up is probably the best way to describe it around here this year. Trying not to be too wordy, let me condense:

Healing: Jody is healing from surgeries and will be having the last reconstructive surgery that should close the door on this journey in January. Zachary has been healing from the broken arm he got on Labor Day when he fell from the monkey bars.  We were blessed with the best doctor who did everything he could to keep Zach from surgery successfully! Stacey has been healing from tendonitis in her right knee. Doctor tells us that when a very active kid has a growth spurt sometimes the tendons in knees stage a revolt. Back on two feet again feels good! No basketball for her this winter but just watch out in seventh grade!

Growing: Speaking of growing, Stacey and Ryan are competing for fastest growers in the house this year.  Ryan grew 3 inches since May and Stacey can chalk up 2 inches.  Zachary and Matt are both getting taller and are growing in many other ways too. The triplets are doing well in middle school and have become quite used to the new schedules and activities. Zach is doing well in third grade and Matt?  Well he is ROCKING kindergarten!

Competing: This year Zachary and Dawn both reached competition level in gymnastics and were able to attend many meets.  They constantly improved their scores as their seasons progressed and it was fun to watch and learn how it all works in the world of gymnastics.  Ryan and Stacey played many soccer games this year and we are seeing great confidence and improvement in their seasons as well. Zachary and Matthew also had a great soccer season.

Achieving: Dawn was chosen for the 2014 Opus choir in Ames and we were proud to be able to travel to the ISU campus and hear the beautiful music made by many talented singers.  Ryan was chosen to play his baritone in the Marion Honor Band, which will perform in January.  He is doing very well in band and also plays the drums in the show choir band this year. Ryan, Stacey and Zachary all got high scores in their piano competitions this fall too. I love the music we hear everyday around here!

Improving: We have continued to make our house a home this past year and started some improvements with the hall bathroom where we stripped off the wall paper and painted this fall. We have enough sun in our backyard now that we got to enjoy a garden in the backyard, which helped in improving our diets and helping David and I to shed some pounds.  Once the boxes got unpacked in the garage David was able to try out the oil pit in the garage and changing oil in the vehicles is kind of a cool experience!

Beginning: Matthew has begun school.  It is quiet during the day in the house now without my little tag-a-long but his teacher says that we made the right choice to send him this year.  He is doing well and making lots of friends like we knew he would. He also had his first year of soccer, which he LOVED and has recently started wrestling club.

Adjusting: This mom is adjusting!  What a different life this year than I have been leading the past twelve!  No one is running around my ankles and dropping things behind me faster than I can pick them up.  I have been able to do more volunteering at the school and with a few other organizations locally. I can’t say I don’t miss little people in my house all day, but I can say I am proud to watch the children move through their life stages and be available to guide and cheer them on.  It really is my dream job.

Providing: David has gone through a big transition at work this year. Honeywell bought out his company Intermec and so there are a lot of things that have changed for him as he continues to take care and provide for our family.  We are hoping that there will be a little more down time for him in the coming year so we can take a few trips. We are hoping Georgia this summer!

Preparing: We are embarking on the next stage very quickly times three because you realize the next time I write we will have three teenagers under our roof.  Don’t think I am not pondering that with God on a daily basis.  I do have to say in my experience, the things I dread the most when I look at them ahead of time are the things that surprised me as the easiest or best.  Teenagers?  God is good…bring it on!

Rejoicing: So many good things have been reported to us this year! Friends and loved ones cancer free, healing, births of healthy babies, negative results on medical tests, all the way down to things like good report cards and watching our Zachary grow and rise to challenges that we wouldn’t have expected him to take on.  There is something good in each day, some days we have to look pretty hard, and some days we have to take the bull by the horns and make something good, but He is faithful to lead the way.

Praying: There are so many people who we are lifting in prayer right now in the struggles they are facing.  We are first hand witnesses of the power of prayer, not just the healing prayers but also the sustaining prayers.  Those are the ones we pray each day that uplift the ones we love and are invaluable in those times of need. Again, thank you all for your continued prayers for our family this past year.

Living: One thing that we can say this year is that we are living life…all of us.  Things have been a little topsy-turvy here in the past year and a half. We are plugging away on the medical bills and getting back into a full schedule of activities.  I still get tired faster than I used to and if given a choice between a sitting task or one that requires me to be on my feet, I still seem to like to pick the less active thing.  My oncologist graduated me from her office to the “survivor team” who I will be seeing now instead of her to report any problems or concerns.  Life is good. Now, if we can just find a way to burn some calories while I taxi all of these people around town each day to their various activities! It is much better sitting behind the steering wheel than it is stuck in the recliner!

Our wish for all of you this Christmas season is that this coming year be full of glimpses of heaven because on the first Christmas so long ago, heaven came to earth and left His mark. 

Love you all!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday From My Heart: Classic Sermons...the Birth of Christ

A few years ago my son (with the help of his dad) got me a special gift for Christmas.  A book collection of Classic Sermons.  Each book in the series has a focus and quickly that very year my fast favorite became "On the Birth of Christ".  I love the month of December with tea and this book to bring reminders to me as I read through the Christmas passages of scripture. I thought I would share some excerpts because sometimes as I read I feel like the wisdom of the ages presents some thoughts that are so worth pondering. I also love the reminder that even though these men preached in different time periods of life on earth, God's Word is proven true again when He says there is nothing new under the sun.
In "The Secret of Peace and Good Will" by John Henry Jowett: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among men. And that is all an illusion, is it? Yes, where is the promised peace? Where is the goodwill among men? Look around and see the irony of reality in the happenings of the whole world! And one is obliged to admit that peace seems to have been scared into hiding, and goodwill does not appear to have woven many strands in the intimate web of human fraternity. But is there any explanation of the apparent illusion? The peace was promised; the goodwill was proclaimed. Is it possible that we may have overlooked something which is altogether imperative if the gracious issues are to be realized? I ask these questions with all the more urgency because I know how prone we are, in other matters than those which are distinctly religious, to fasten our attention on effects, and to be strangely negligent of the causes...Where is the glory to God in the highest? We have fixed our eyes upon the third phrase of the angels' song - goodwill among men; or upon the second phrase - peace on earth! And we have overlooked the first phrase, the phrase which is casual and causative - 'glory to God in the highest' That is to say, we have been concerned about fruits, but we have been careless about roots...We have been wanting the corn before we had got the field. We have been expecting man to be right with man before man was right with God...Vital peace among men is to be brought about by the individual man being at peace with God - rectified and justified and sanctified in the power of God's redeeming love and grace. We simply cannot save the world in masses...Salvation and peace are to be found only in the surrender of the personal life to the Saviorhood and comradeship of Christ...It must begin with me".

In "The Mother of Our Lord" by George H. Morrison: "That public throne is not a mother's throne. That glittering crown is not a mother's crown...For the truest humility is not humiliation, nor any abject disparagement of self. It is never to think about oneself at all...Clearly she was a woman who had the gift of silence as truly as she had the gift of song; a woman who knew that there are things you tarnish the moment you begin to speak of them; a woman who set a guard upon her lips...Mary had a heart so full of all that was written in the Word of God, that in that hour it came welling to her lips. Upon the Word she had fed her heart."

In "The Christ of Christmas" by Walter A. Maier: "Above all the hatred of a war-torn world the Christmas anthem 'Peace on Earth' goes out into the world tonight to tell men that the only way to establish peace with our God and peace with our conscience is to come to Christ and to believe that He has effectually and forever removed the discord that exists between the holiness of God and the unholiness of men' that He by His incarnation, by the poverty and suffering to which He as the Lord of lords and the King of kings subjected Himself, satisfied the claims of divine justice and offers to all the benefits of that momentous peace treaty between heaven and earth that has been signed and sealed by His very blood."

In "No Room for the Christ in the Inn" by Charles Haddon Spurgeon: "Were there not in Bethlehem some people who were very respectable, who kept themselves aloof from the common multitude; persons of reputation and standing - could they not find room for Christ? Ah! dear friends, it is too much the case that there is no room for him in what is called good society. There is room for all silly little forms by which men choose to trammel themselves; room for the vain niceties of etiquette; room for frivolous conversation; room for the adoration of the body; there is room for the setting up of this and that as the idol of the hour, but there is too little room for Christ, and it is far from fashionable to follow the Lord fully...How often learning helps men to raise objections to Christ! Too often learning is the forge where the nails are made for Christ's crucifixion...Too often in the priestly church, when once it becomes recognized and mounts to dignity, there is no room for Christ...In this free land, men speak of what they like, and there is a public opinion upon every subject; and you know there is free toleration in this country to everything - permit me to say, toleration to everything but Christ...There was no room for THEM - no room for Joseph, nor for Mary, any more than for the babe. Who are his father, and mother, and sister, and brother but those who receive his word and keep it? So, as there was no room for the blessed Virgin, nor for the reputed father, remember henceforth there is no room in this world for any true follower of Christ...Will you give room for Christ when there is to be henceforth no room for you?"

In "O Come, O Come, Immanuel" by James S. Stewart "But the true comfort of Christ is a strong, bracing, reinforcing thing. It is like a wind to a boat that has been becalmed. It is like the gift of a job to a man who has been for years out of work. It is like the clasp of a friend's hand in time of need. This is certainly the root idea of the word "comfort" in the New Testament; and when Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as the 'Comforter,' He is really giving a promise that God will stand by a man in the day of his need, and brace his heart and nerve his arm, and make him more than a conqueror."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mystery Hooks

I can't believe that I didn't post pictures in November of the before and after shots in our hallway bathroom. I will have to dig those out and do a "home improvement" post.  There is now one room in the house where I can walk into and feel like we have updated something!

Don't get me wrong, we are very comfortable in our house, there is just a lot of mauve and emerald green and way too much wallpaper.

Over Thanksgiving when Michelle was here we finished up the room. Truth be told, David, Michelle and Dawn finished it up. I had gotten tired of that room and someone had to get the groceries and cook the turkey!

One of the main goals in getting the paint up and the fixtures up was to be able to mount the hooks behind the door so that the kids could hang their towels up nicely and not leave them in a big pile on the floor.

I would like to report that these are before and after pictures, but no, these were both taken just a few short minutes ago. Notice the beautiful hooks that David mounted on the wall with a place for everyone's towel plus a guest even!

No, this is how I found the bathroom this evening after we tucked the kids in bed. I even asked Zach "Did you hang up your towel after your shower". "Yeah, I think so" was his answer. Looks like he forgot that he actually didn't hang it up.

We will have a little pep talk tomorrow as a reminder of what goes on the mysterious hooks that Dad put up behind the door. In the meantime, I will pass by that bathroom and remember the miracle that we are living each day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yep, It Looks Broken!

Stacey was in the Orthopedic office again yesterday to check on her knee which is working wonderfully and doing great!  It just so happens that she has had a very sore and swollen finger as a result of some shenanigans with friends.

We just happened to mention it to the doctor.  I mean, we are at the office already, might as well.  He did an examination and told us it looked broken and that he would have it splinted for a couple of weeks if it was.  He gave us a roll of tape and told us to keep it taped to her pinkie for two weeks and if it still hurt or got worse any time between now and then, to give him a call.  Go in with tendinitis in the knee and come out with a broken finger.  That just seems to be the the way we roll!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Survivor Files: Surgery in January

I have to say that I have been enjoying life without thinking about the visits to the doctor and whether or not I am healing properly.  The fall has been fancy free in that department mainly because I am feeling better and I put off the last reconstructive surgery until January and didn't have to think about it.

Today was my pre-op and lab work so I guess you could say I am back at it and remembering how much I don't like this life.  The doctor hasn't seen me since the end of July which was my post op from surgery in June.

Surgery is scheduled for January 9th and I was told it would be a couple of hours to finish up the things that need doing.  I guess my jeans were a little lower cut today than they were the last time because the doc caught a glimpse of my stomach and said "Oh, you have a pouch!" Yes...I was well aware of how my stomach has turned out after the tram flap surgery and that it didn't look like the "after" pictures I had seen.  But lets face it, back in July doc had seen me so many times with the healing issues in the last 10-11 months that I knew he was sick of me.  I was sick of seeing him!

Today, with fresh eyes and 4 1/2 months off he noticed the "pouch" above the abdominal incision and said right away "that has to be fixed".  Yes!  I agree.  Then he started listing all the things that will be a part of the January surgery and turned to me and said "you are going to have to stay overnight we will be doing a lot and we will want to keep a close eye on you."

Huge sigh in my heart!  Ugh! So much for a quick surgery to end the saga.  The thing that gets me is that I am not even fighting cancer!  I haven't been fighting cancer since a year ago August (thankfully), but this is all just after junk...stuff that was supposed to be done a year ago!  This is annoying stuff that drains my energy and makes me have to spend my time recovering. I didn't even ask how long another abdominal recovery will take.  Don't really want to think about it today. Maybe tomorrow, today there is too much to be thankful for!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Our Little Reader

Matthew is slower at showing off his reading to us than the other four were.  They loved to come home from school and show me what they could read.  Matthew was never a kid that sat still long enough to read too long at one sitting and I see that now too.

He likes to be able to guess although he is good at sounding out words if I make him sit there and do it. He loves the Jesus tree this year.  There is something about going and getting out his Bible and looking up the verses and reading them out loud to the whole family.

He is very excited to do that. It makes my heart warm to listen to his little voice read God's word. Just another of those moments to cherish!

He especially liked last night when he got to show off to Daddy his reading skills. Dawn said "I didn't know Matthew could read so good!" Matt always likes to have an audience!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Family Time Together

Dawn loves her new book from Auntie Chelle

Ryan builds Legos

Stacey plays "Frozen" songs from her new songbook

Watching movies

And there should always be an adorable ninja present...at least we like to have him around!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Merry Thanksmas!

I love that the Christmas season starts with Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful for what God has blessed us with that I can't even put it into words.  Life isn't at all easy, but I can't look at anything in our life and not see God's hand in it.  He is good, He is sovereign and He is divine.  To know that His fingers craft the story of our lives just leaves me speechless.

We were able to share a great day with Michelle today.  I love that she still takes time out to come and hang out in probably one of the coldest places she has ever been!  It goes to show what people will do when they really love you! It is a big deal around here.  Where is she going to sleep, what are we going to do...Stacey usually has it all planned.

There will be no ice skating this year.  With Stacey's knee causing her grief (update on that in a few days), Stacey decided that a day of baking would be better and they did that yesterday.  Today, it was giving and opening presents and spending the day hanging out together enjoying them and each other.  What a blessing to not have to go anywhere or do anything.  Time can stand still.  We like that around here!

Stacey has also planned out our viewing schedule since the kids like to catch Auntie Chelle up with all of the kid movies that have come out over the last year.  On Monday they started with Frozen.  Michelle loved Olaf (who doesn't).  Stacey wanted to go find a stuffed Olaf to give to Michelle and I told her I could do one better...there was a singing/dancing Olaf at Walgreens I had seen earlier in the week.  She was so excited to give that to her Aunt.  Michelle was surprised too when she opened it!

These are the priceless moments that we share with our family that warm our hearts and make the memories that last.  Years from now we will say "hey, remember that Thanksgiving when I gave you that dancing Olaf?" Priceless!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ready for Wrapping

There is one finished area in our basement.  It is the vault (yes, the same vault I got locked in last year at about this time before I figured out how it worked!)  It is a 25x6 room that has worked very well for present storing a wrapping when we want to keep secrets.

I spent some time in the vault this week getting ready for Michelle's arrival and our exchanging of gifts.  There used to be serious ammunition making and gun storing done in the vault with the former occupant but for us, it is the secret room of gifts and wrapping, combination known only by Mom and Dad.  

Over the last couple of days, one by one the kids came down and wrapped their present for Auntie Chelle.  On Wednesday we will be having our "Thanksmas" celebration with our Sloan family.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Opus 2014

We are so proud of Dawn!  She was able to be a part of the Opus choir this year and we were able to go to Ames for an afternoon and enjoy a very good concert given by the best of the best around the state.  The 5th-6th grade choir was wonderful but we also got to enjoy music from the 7th-8th grade boys, 7th-8th grade girls and the 9th grade choir too.

Dawn is in the second row from the top right about the middle of the screen.  I thought sitting there how grown up she looks with her contact lenses and concentration as she sang.

It is amazing to me how such a small amount of practice time can produce such a great sound.  The harmonies were beautiful in each of the different type of song they were sharing with us.  What a great experience!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Our Little Wrestler

Matthew came home one afternoon with a sign up sheet for Little Indians Wrestling Club.  He wanted to be a wrestler!  It seems like his P.E. teacher had really talked up wrestling.  It was adorable when he told me "Mom, the girls don't get to do wrestling, they have to do cheer leading"!

We went the first night and he loved it.  As his dad said "Well, he is built like a wrestler"!  That he is.  We have since found him wrestling shoes and head gear.  With two big brothers who are quite aggressive and often forget that he is small, Matt has taken a few hits in his life.  It shows at wrestling club because he can take down some kids!  One of the kids in his little circle is about a head taller than he is and it doesn't seem to slow him down.

Wrestling is a new sport to our family and I have seen that this particular sport has its own kind of people.  I have learned the soccer bunch, and it seems like this is a whole new community.  Some parents are pretty passionate about their 5 year old wrestler's career already.  Not only is it entertaining to watch my son give wrestling a try, but it is entertaining to see how some of these parents are over the top.  In some cases, I feel bad for these little ones.  Not my little one.  He is having fun doing something he loves to do!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Good Night Little One

What a great time of bonding we had last night, the little boys and I.  We were reading our favorite bedtime story of all time.  "Good Night Little One".  Every one of my children have loved to have this book read at bedtime.  I love it too, such an awesome reminder to their little hearts that whatever is in the dark, whatever is going on in their lives, whatever age they are, their God is bigger and stronger and He is all that they need.

Matt, Zach and I got to talking in between pages like we sometimes do and the topics went all over the place. (which is secretly my favorite "little boy" conversations.)  The topic got to babies in mommy's tummy.  Matthew made a comment about how I had to go to the hospital five times to get babies out.  I explained that no, it was really only three times.  Then we talked a little and got on the subject of the baby that died in Mommy's tummy.  Somehow that came up because I was at the hospital when she was born too.  They wanted to know how old she would have been.  We talked about how Zach would be her big brother and Matthew would be her little brother.  I was surprised at the questions and although they caught me a little off guard, it was sweet to share with them.

Long after our normal bedtime, I found myself tucking them into their bed and the precious words of their bedtime prayers went up like sweet aroma, not just to God but to this mommy too.  Zachary likes to pray pretty much the same thing each night, so imagine my surprise when I heard his voice slowly and patiently articulating each thought through his words to God.  "And God, I know that there is a baby that died in Mommy's tummy.  That makes me sad.  Please take care of that little baby because I know she is with You."

And that was that.  Powerful moments for this mom tonight!  To read more about that time in our lives, click to read our Amy story:
Our Little Tiny

Thursday, October 30, 2014

We Are Piggie and Gerald!

Zachary and Matthew went over to Grandma's before we headed off to Fall Fest to show her their Gerald and Piggie costumes.  This is not my favorite time of the year.  The day of Fall Fest is always one of the craziest days of the year.

Forced creativity is what I call it.  There are so many different ideas everyone has and so many changes of mind before the evening of fall fest that I don't like to commit to anything before I know for sure.

Matt didn't want to be Piggie because of the pink and because Piggie is a girl in the stories, but I told him that most people don't even pay attention to that.  Zachary really wanted Matt to be Piggie with him and I was really proud of Matt for thinking of his brother and enjoying the night.

It is fun to dress up and as much as I dislike Halloween, I love that Fall fest is an option to let the kids wear costumes and have a fun time without the Halloween focus.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spooktacular Gymnastics Meet

Dawn's second gymnastics meet was in Cedar Falls.  She improved a good bit on her scores from the last meet and got through her beam routine looking very good!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Can They Give You a Ticket For That?

I was tootling back into town this afternoon from Cedar Falls where Dawn had a meet this morning and was thinking how much I have been relying on my phone.  I am trying not to text in the car anymore because I admit...I have been known to text at stop lights or on a straight stretch of interstate.

Now, whichever 12-year-old is in the passenger seat gets to be mom's texting secretary.  They read what the text says and type my response if it is something that I need to answer in a timely manner.  So, Dawn was my typer today and did a great job. 

I understand how texting is very distracting while driving, but I found myself thinking about all of the other things that I have done or seen done that could also be characterized as "dangerous while driving".  I had to chuckle then about 10 minutes down the road when Zach was fretting about his shoe having a knot in it from the back seat.  

Rather than listening to him carry on and stressed, I told him to pass the shoe on up to me.  We were on a straight stretch of road and I was able to get the big knot out.  I could just picture it "well officer, I was just trying to get the knot out of my son's shoe and must have lost control!"  Can they give a ticket for "untying while driving?"

Friday, October 24, 2014

Glorified Storage Unit No More!

We knew when we purchased our new home almost a year ago that the garage was more than ridiculously big.  It really is, and there is no reason it has to be that big for our family, but that is just the way it was built.  It has actually helped enable the clutter and mess for me because when we moved, the boxes all got put there and unpacked as needed.

About six months after being here, I realized that there aren't nearly as many trips to the garage to find that important thing and that told me we have too much stuff that we don't need.  Lately, that has been the project.  Getting through some of those boxes and moving the contents out or where we plan to store them.

The great part of all of the work out there by David and the kids was that we were able to "unbury" the oil pit.  As long as we have an oil pit in the garage, we might as well use it!

Last Saturday David did.  Zachary especially thought it was cool that Dad could climb down into the pit and change the oil.  There were a few things that David thought would need tweaking in the whole process, but to finally be able to see the garage being used for something it was supposed to be used for (instead of a glorified storage unit) was wonderful.

Both the car and the van got new oil and a few of the extended family may pay a visit to try out the pit as well!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We Are On A Pumpkin!

Gerald and Piggie are big favorites around our house.  Moe Willems is ingenious the way he writes these stories.  With his help, Gerald and Piggie have helped Zachary and Matthew learn how to get along in spite of their differences.  Gerald even seems a little autistic which is a big help to Zach because he relates so well to the stories!  Piggie, like Matt is full of energy and excitement, ready to take on any challenge with enthusiasm.

So, with that being said, it wasn't a difficult decision to pick Gerald and Piggie as our literary characters when it came time to decorate a pumpkin (or two) for the Starry school library.  During the month of October families could bring in a pumpkin that they decorated like a children's literature character to display.  We got ours in by the middle of the month but we were able to use our Friday off to paint and have fun with the decorating.

We like reading them, we like listening to their stories and even the older kids in the house LOVE to hear Zachary and Matt act out the books as they read them out loud.  We just love Gerald and Piggie.

Best news: New Elephant and Piggie book comes out in November "Waiting is Not Easy" and the boys can NOT wait!

But for now: We are on a pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Somethings I Will Not Understand...And That's Okay

Earlier in the summer, the boys were sent in to work on the mess in their room.  Since last December, there has been a piece of artwork that Ryan brought home from his old school laying on his dresser.  During the past months it had been crushed by books, toys and I even found a piece of ABC gum that someone had spit out onto the construction paper base.

I had a plan and I was in there to shovel through the mess and move on with our lives.  As it turned out, not everyone agreed.  I asked Ryan at the time if it would be okay if we threw the artwork away since it had seen better days.  He wasn't thrilled about it because it was a piece he had worked on with his friend from the old school.  Suggesting that I take a picture of it and THEN throw it away, Ryan was okay.  I brought the 3D construction paper piece of art to the kitchen table to dispose of later, not wanting to break the cleaning rhythm that I had begun.

Skip forward to bedtime and a teary eyed Zachary.  "What is wrong Honey?" I asked.  "I am kinda sad about Ryan's village" was Zach's reply. "Oh?  What about the village?"  I replied.  He answered with an "I don't really know, I am just sad".  Well, this isn't uncommon.  Zach gets a feeling and can't really express what it is that is bothering him.

"What happens to the village when it gets thrown away?" Zach asked me.  I didn't really know what happened to our garbage other than it gets picked up by the garbage man and goes to the dump.  So I told him I didn't really know.  "Does it get burned up?" he asked. "I don't think so" I answered trying to help put his mind at ease, although I really didn't know for sure.  "I think it just goes to the dump and disintegrates into the ground". That was my best guess.  He didn't not like that answer and it made him get a bit more agitated.  Not a place I like for him to be, especially after he has been tucked into bed for the night.

Finally I was able to get out of him that thinking about the village going to the dump made him feel a lot like when he knows a ball or toy if left in the yard after it gets dark.  I told him that I wanted him to write about how the village made him feel and that is what we came up with.  Thinking that he would forget about it, a couple days later I tried to throw it away but he remembered and I had to fish it out of the trash, straighten it out and come up with a better idea that we could both agree on.

I found a shadow box frame and was able to reconfigure the village to fit into the frame and we hung it on the wall up by Zach's bed.  I am not sure how long it will be displayed in his room.  It could be there til he moves out and brings it with him, but for some reason he is very concerned about what happens to this artwork that Ryan made.  When all is said and done, it turned out to be a pretty good compromise.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Survivor Files: Still Living the Miracle

Today in the midst of everything else that I am doing, I paused and called the surgeons office.  I have another surgery to schedule.  It is supposed to be the last one in the long drawn out process of reconstructing my body after a mastectomy was needed to remove the cancer from my body.  I am thankful and grateful to all who have supported me through the last year and a half!  I look in the mirror and am still not thrilled about what I see, but I know that life isn't all about what we look like or what we think we should look like.  God knows what He is doing and I will continue on the journey.

We decided to wait with the last surgery, not because I want to, but because we ran out of flex spending money for the year.  With all the medical bills, and the limits the new healthcare bill puts on how much (or more accurately how LITTLE ) we can put aside for that fund, we are out of money.  Just in time for a broken arm for Zach and some tests on Stacey's knee (more about that in a future post when I know what we are dealing with).

Needless to say, I called the sweet nurse who I love at Dr. Andrew's office and asked if it is too soon to schedule my last surgery sometime in January.  No!  She was so happy to have that much time to work with.  She is hammering out the details this afternoon as I type and will let me know when arrangements are finalized.  At least this has given the tissue plenty of time to heal and the last few things are supposedly only going to take about 2 1/2 hours.  Scheduling this far ahead hopefully means I will get first dibs on time.  Looks like surgery will be January 9th, hopefully bright and early in the morning.

I pulled out all of the cards and notes of encouragement that I had stashed in my bedside table from a year ago over the weekend.  I really have some great people in my life.  I love you all!  I walked into the pediatricians office the other day with Dawn and looked around and saw all of the breast cancer awareness month decor and thought "man, I wish that everyone who had a life threatening experience in their lives could have a month dedicated to their disease or ailment".  How about "sufferers of scary life-threatening ailments awareness month"?

There are a lot of things I am still hammering out.  I talked briefly to a fellow breast cancer survivor on Friday night and was trying to explain how weird if felt that after treatment and starting to feel stronger and closer to normal how I don't even remember what I used to do before.  Who did I do things with?  How did I organize my time.  The urge to just continue spending the day on the couch is still quite overwhelming for me. She just nodded with that look like she knew exactly what I meant.  That felt good, to know someone who understands the struggle it is to clean and cook and wash and even socialize again.

With that, the dirty master bathroom is calling.  I got a couple new things in the cleaning isle at the grocery store last night.  I am looking forward to seeing if they make the job easier.  One foot in front of the other and I am one step closer to finding the normal of my life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Do You Suppose It Looks?

David has been home this week taking some much needed vacation time working on some things around the house.

The garage has made some great progress.  This afternoon we were talking out there and he pointed to the big box we have been hauling across the country and storing for 22 years that contains my wedding dress.

His question was "how do you think it looks after all this time?"  On a whim I said "I don't know, lets see!"  We were both surprised at how well it has held up in the box over the years.  Except for the grandma/grandpa house attic type smell, it looked great.  I do have to say, that smell on my wedding dress did make me feel kinda old!

The girls liked seeing it and Matthew said it was beautiful.  I would say, from the front it looks pretty good on me still!  You wouldn't want to see the back though.  Maybe if I lost 40 pounds I could get it zipped again.

 Dawn actually said "aww Mom, I think I really want to wear your dress when I get married!  I told her that I am sure she may today but she still has many years to come to her senses!

For now I will see what we can do to keep it in decent condition so at least she could use the fabric or remake it into something a little more modern for her when her big day

They thought it was neat that Grandma made my headpiece and they both tried it on.  It was fun to play dress up this afternoon!

I don't care what people say about styles and how they come and go.  I am glad I was married in 1992 and if I did it over, I would pick this dress again!