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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Elephant and Piggie are Invited to the Party!

Zachary absolutely LOVE's Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie books.  So when it was time to get a birthday cake planned, I immediately thought Zach would love them on his cake.  I Googled to see if anyone had made one and documented it online and there weren't too many things to choose from.  Most were just a cake with a little fondant Elephant and Pig on top.  So, for the first time I started from scratch and here is how it went:

I took two of the pictures in "We Are In a Book" because I liked Piggie in one and Gerald in the other and after tracing it, blew it up so that Gerald's head was the size of a 9 inch round pan.

Next, I copied my pattern and cut out all the "extra" pieces I would need to build Piggie into Gerald and Gerald's ears and trunk that extended past his round face.

I lined up the pieces to make sure that they were right and cut them out of the non-egg or milk cake so my nephew with allergies can eat Gerald's ear.  Meanwhile, Stacey mixed up the gray and the pink so we had the frosting ready to go.

It was tricky keeping the pink and the gray separate where the two met, but after some intricate spreading, I was pleased.  I outlined Piggie's nose and prepared for faces - little bit nervous about that!

Notice, Piggie's face is blank again?  Well, I got all of it lined in with a toothpick and stood back and felt it wasn't quite right.  A little overwhelmed, I moved to Gerald's face which went much better.  Built up a little confidence and kept on with the frosting.  I only had about 3/4 of a tube of black detail frosting which I had decided to use instead of trying to mix black which never quite gets black for me.  I was starting to get worried I would run out.  I hate having to go to the store when I am in the middle of a project!

Regaining my confidence, I charged through and rather than trying to mix a lighter pink for Piggie's snout I decided to use white and call it good.  Pulls it together with Gerald's eyes too.  Phew!

TA - DA!

I am so excited with the results!  I know that Zachary will love it.  It turned out exactly like I saw it in my head.  I have to thank Mo Willems for such great characters.  We love them!  Maybe his next book could be called "We Are On a Cake!"

Where's My Camera?

Sometimes my camera gets misplaced and no one seems to be able to tell me where it is.  That was the case again this week.  The two big boys are away at camp til tomorrow night and so Matthew, Stacey and Dawn are here and we are eating a lot of gluten since Zach is eating all his non-gluten at camp.

Funny that when I located the camera in order to take some pictures, I found some of these pictures that mysteriously were not taken by me!  Finding things I didn't take a picture of, I am sure SOMEONE knew where the camera was, or at least had it and misplaced it themselves.

Life around here this week went something like this:

A little bit of toe-nail painting (Dawn is getting really good at her nail art)!

A little bit of hamming it up (or to be honest, A LOT of hamming it up like every other day) by this cutie pie!

Some down time after 14 hours of gymnastics practice this week.

And some lounging around watching Murder She Wrote!

It will be wonderful when I can get in the water again and I can join them swimming.  Next week we plan to hang out at the pool and actually feel like this summer is getting started!  June has been extremely busy!

I am sure I will have more to share about the preparations for Zach's birthday celebration at Mom and Dad's on Sunday.  That is, when I start having something to show for all the preparing!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Am Eight...Let's Celebrate!

Today as I was running around getting the boys ready to head off to camp until Saturday, Zachary asked me when we were going to get his invitations done.  I asked him what he meant and he answered "Remember?  You said yesterday that we could make invitations for the party at Grandpa and Grandma's on Sunday".

Each time there is a child's birthday we pick the Sunday night gathering closest to the birthday when everyone will be there and honor that child with a little birthday party from his family.  I did tell Zach yesterday that we would be celebrating his birthday this coming Sunday night.

I also vaguely remember him wanting to make invitations for everyone.  That is not a typical thing we do, but Zach has really thrown me some surprises lately so when he said he wanted to send everyone an invitation, I told him that was a nice idea.  I just wasn't planning to take time out of our day today while I was also trying to get his food and things together for camp.

I found a cute picture of him and threw on a little rhyme and he thought it was pretty cool.  I printed it out on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, folded it in half and let him write his personal note on each one.  Five were printed, one for each of my sibling's families and one for Grandpa and Grandma.  He has become quite a thoughtful little boy (or should I say BIG boy) now that he is eight!

He told me tonight when I dropped him off for camp.  "Mom, I am going to miss you when I am gone."  He is the only one who does!  Even Matt will say when he will be sleeping over somewhere else.  "I am not even going to miss you Mom!"  I appreciate how God makes each child individual and different.  I will miss my boys Zach and Ryan until they come back Saturday night.  I know they are having a fun time and meanwhile we are going to have gluten for supper EVERY NIGHT!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Day In the Garden

All are hard at work on this beautiful day!
Friday at Mom and Dad's, Adonis was in the garden with Dad looking things over and Dad told me that he wanted to see how my garden was coming.  Adonis nodded and I paused for a moment feeling a little embarrassed because my garden was a MESS with weeds me not being able to get out and work this past week after surgery.  Audi said he didn't care and so I hesitantly brought him over to see.

In the back left corner in front of Arlen is all weeds!  They
cleaned all of those out too!
This is Adonis who has studied agriculture here for two years and has been working in Van Horne on a farm during the week since graduation.  He was very nice and claimed to have seen every actual plant I pointed out even though a few places were entirely taken over by the weeks.  Crabgrass is everywhere!  Tomatoes were in cages and looking pretty good so we focused on them.

Sweet as he is, he told me it looks good and that after he did a few things in the morning he was going to take the bus to our house and help me get those weeds out of there.  He didn't have anything else planned so on the way back to Mom and Dad's he told me he would be over sometime in the afternoon.  After telling Arlen we were going to be weeding the garden he told me he would join us for awhile since he would be home and Mom and Dad would be heading north for a day trip.

Love these guys!

We got started around 2ish and worked most of the afternoon.  I took the "sit down" jobs where I could rescue carrots that were almost choked out by the grass and weeding around the peppers.  The guys took the tools and tackled the weediest areas where absolutely nothing came up but weeds.  David joined us soon after and the kids were in the yard for awhile, Dawn cleaned up the radishes and harvested a few more and the boys played a game of kickball and climbed the tree.

Looking MUCH better!

The work went quickly, at least a lot more quickly than when it is just me out there and we talked and listened to music too which made for entertainment and memory making.  David treated us to his famous jambalaya and the kids even cleaned up the dishes as Adonis explained how his trip will go on Thursday and we pulled up Nicaragua on the computer and he shared more about what it is like where he lives.  We will certainly miss him but what fun to have another day to remember and smile.

Not to mention I can look out my windows on the back of the house and sit on my patio and see a beautifully manicured garden.  Adonis told me while I was driving him home "I just looked at the garden yesterday and thought 'My sister needs my help!'"  I love him - he was absolutely right!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My First T-Shirt Quilt

With Adonis on his way back home this coming week, I started a little over a month ago thinking of what I could do for a send off gift.  I love quilting and have quite a few projects going right now actually.  Truth is, I have too many projects.  One I had never done though, is a T-Shirt quilt.

So, what if I were able to go to Goodwill and find some t-shirts?  That would be affordable enough without buying everything brand new.  As I was developing my idea, I thought out loud to a couple of family members and seemed to get a positive bit of feedback with the exception of Dawn who responded with "why would you make Adonis a quilt Mom, he lives in Nicaragua which is on the EQUATOR!"  You have to admit, she had a good point until I explained that this wouldn't be something he would sleep under, but something that he could have to remember Iowa and his time here.

With that, I went in search for t-shirts.  He lived with Mom and Dad in Marion for the first year, so I quickly located the Marion Indians and Linn Mar Lions shirts since he has been supportive of different family activities.  Next, Kirkwood, which is where he attended school for two years and graduated from last month.  I found two that would work.  

Next, I had in the back of my mind Washington DC and St. Louis because he went to both places during his time here.  I could not believe that I found a t-shirt for both the very first day out looking!  I was pumped at that point.  He has collected some Hawkeye items during his time here so I found a couple of Iowa Hawkeye t-shirts to include.  The only thing I didn't have was a John Deere shirt.  He had toured the plant and liked that.  Johnse pointed out that Theisen's has John Deere shirts and boy do they ever!  I purchased that one new and another new one I got at Family Christian to represent the faith that we live by.  The surprise of all surprises was when I found a Nicaragua shirt at the Council Street Goodwill...no better luck than that, if luck is what it really was.  I have to admit, I prayed to find the shirts that I needed.  I don't ever believe there are things that are too little to ask God about!

I filled in the rest of the squares with random sized leftover pieces and a picture from each family with space for each of the families to write a note with fabric marker.  I also included a couple other pictures that I was able to iron on.

The quilt turned out great.  I was a little scared at first because I had heard stories but with stabilizer it worked out just like any other quilt.  I did tie it because I didn't want to quilt over the writing or the words, the quilt went together pretty random.  He loved it and I loved doing it and even better, giving it!

Adios, My Little Brother

In the fall of 2012 God brought a wonderful new addition to the Bushlack family.  We had no idea at the time how blessed we would be when Mom and Dad opened their home and hearts to Adonis, a student from Nicaragua who was part of Kirkwood's SEED program.  From the very beginning Adonis was a natural part of our lives, enjoying our children, hugging with no hesitation and jumping into conversations to practice his English as much as he could.  I remember none of us were really sure how it would be hosting someone from a different country who spoke a different language.

Two Christmas', lots of hugs and time spent together, and we find ourselves at Mom and Dad's again tonight, only this time looking back over the last couple of years and being happy for Adonis but sad for us because he is going back to Nicaragua on Thursday.  He is excited to get back home so as he said tonight 50/50 happy to go back but sad to leave.  Well, it is 100% sad for me...there will be an empty place at Grand Central without him here.

Our kids have talked about how much it would cost for all of us to fly to Nicaragua and visit him.  Then they have looked at a map and told me that since there isn't an ocean between us, we could maybe drive.  Hmmm, not so much.  It will be sad to miss a part of our family, and how amazing it is to open our hearts and be blessed with a true family member in Nicaragua.  It's a small world after all.

There will now be a young man going back to Nicaragua who fits the description of "brother" right along with the ones who were born into my family and the one who married into my family.  He joins them as the brother who grew into my heart.  Adonis, best blessings to you and the future ahead.  I am so thankful for the internet and the fact that we can all still feel close.  I am proud of how you have mastered the English language and all of the things that you have learned and will share when you return home.  Adonis has a huge heart and a desire make a difference in the world.  I am certain that he will.  He sure has in this little corner of Iowa!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Survivor Files: Post Op Report

Mom brought me over some flowers on Sunday.  Just what
I needed to brighten up the room!
I took it easier this past weekend recovering from Friday's surgery.  The year has been a frustrating up and down year and I am glad that we may be seeing the end of the road.

I am fine.  That is what everyone wants to hear at this point.  Surgery did what it was supposed to do and now I go through the routine of healing and getting to the point where we can have the next (and expected to be) last surgery.

The hardest thing about this surgery has been the fact that I was doing great, pretty much back to 100% after the speed bump last April.  I was driving kids around, doing housework, gardening and mowing the lawn.  I was also starting to get back to feeling somewhat social again.

Not so much today, or probably not tomorrow or the next day.  Feeling like hanging out at home sitting/laying around is my preference.  I don't like this me very well.  I like last week's me but patience is the key again.  It is Thursday and I don't feel like I want to feel.

That said it is time to count my blessings:

  1. By Tuesday, I was only on ibuprofen during the day which has allowed me to get back in the car and do some of the taxi duties as I feel able.
  2. At my post op appointment yesterday, the fat grafting site stitches were removed and there were no open wounds! (and doc said that the compression shorts that the nurse at the hospital said I would have to wear 4-6 weeks could accompany me home in my bag and I when I got home I could lose them!
  3. My girls have been a great help around the house.  Still working on what it means for the kitchen to be "clean", but two loads of laundry have actually been FOLDED!
  4. TMI Warning...doc says I am now the proud owner of "perky breasts"!
  5. We are still laughing and smiling around here even though this week has been full of rain and storms.
  6. Dawn and I have been able to continue our "Anne of Green Gables" time together.
  7. I have been able to sit at two basketball games watching Stacey now that summer league has started.  She tears up that court!
  8. In all of this excitement, Zachary has turned eight and he has read his new Elephant and Piggie books over and over and over out loud and I NEVER tire of hearing them.  I especially like when Matt and Zach "put on a show" for me and act one of the stories out!
  9. Ryan gets back from Boy Scout camp on Saturday and I can't wait for him to sit down and tell me all about it!  I have missed him!
  10. I slowly pinned binding on a quilt I am working on today and will be able to sit and sew it up tomorrow.  More on that next blog...there is "mixed" blessing with that one.
  11. And on and on and on and on!
I am looking forward to comfortable sleeping at night but other than that and the fact that the surgical vest sticks out of every single summer shirt I own, I am doing quite well.  Still taking it easy just like the doctor ordered.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Laying a Cement Road

We were going to get going down the road to the farm about eleven a.m. yesterday to get the kids to the farm before today's surgery.  I hadn't checked with the city before making those plans because while Stacey, Matt and Zach were cleaning out the back of the van, we had the cement trucks start lining up in the road in front of the house.

That was the interesting distraction that we needed to keep us from moving on down the road.  We had cousins and siblings lined up on the porch for a front row seat to watch the beginning of the pouring.
 It is pretty amazing how they can line it all up and orchestrate a project like laying a cement road.  The first twelve feet or so was fun to watch and a though there are a few people who look like they are standing around and watching.  Once the cement trucks show up, they get to their stations and each of them have an important job to make it all come together.

It was about that time when Stacey got my attention and told me that Matt had put something in his mouth.  I went in to check on him and he showed me the box he found in the car.  It was a box of firecracker type worms that you buy around the fourth of July.  He had eaten one of them because it looked like it was a box of candy!

I got on the phone with the pediatrician and then with poison control and they assured me that since he only ate one, there shouldn't be any problems.  With that as another delay, I got everyone in the car and we started on our trip.  I am very glad that Matt was wise enough to stop at one when he found that the worm didn't taste very well!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Celebrating A Birthday

Excited to see what was in the box.
Auntie Chelle sent Zachary a birthday present and it made his day!  Zach has been reading Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books and so she sent him the plush Elephant and Piggie.  He loved it!

Zach and Matt already act out a lot of the books when they read them.  Matt has a lot of them memorized.   Now they can act out with the plush animals.

Zach already has told Matt he can be Piggie!  Matt really does make the perfect Piggie.

It didn't take long for Zach and Matt to get reading!
Elephant and Piggie

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Harvest Day

I was very excited to harvest our first veggies from the garden and serve them up for supper in a chicken salad.  I have been excited and discouraged both when I look at the garden at our new place.  It is a very nice size and we can grow everything we need here.  I wish that the placement was a little better but the previous owner didn't have kids running around in the yard.

We have already thought about moving the garden area over to the side corner where we could open up space in the immediate back yard off of the patio.  I love that things are growing but the weed to plant ratio is terribly uneven in favor of the weeds.

Crabgrass - YUCK!  I was able to go through the carrot rows and pull out weeds and search for the little growing carrot plants.  I had to put my fingers around the carrots and hold them steady in the ground because yanking out the crabgrass would bring the carrots with it!  I got about half way through with that today.  Now the carrots will have room to grow.

For today, we got to pick lettuce and radishes and eat them.  I have truly missed home grown vegetables.  I look forward to the rest of the summer!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday At the Gym

Zach practicing Double Mini
I love Tuesdays.  Three of the kids have gymnastics at the same time so I am able to see a little bit of all three practices and encourage and see how they are improving.  The only problem with being a gymnastics mom is that I can't seem to be able to get a good clear action shot of any of them doing a skill!  Their scrapbooks will be full of blurry blobs.  I am pretty proud of them.
Matthew on the Zip Line 

Dawn on Bars
Dawn taking a rest
Matt on zip line again

Dawn encouraging her teammates
Chalking up
On the Bars

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

RIP Eggplant the Glofish

Eggplant in March
It was a weekend back in March when I reported on the three new members of our family.  What started as a great afternoon with the last day of school and an early out turned turned south quickly when Dawn noticed a white bump on the side of her fish Eggplant.  It looked like she was loosing some of her strength to swim against the bubbles as well.

As the time went by we all started one by one facing the inevitable.  Something was wrong with Eggplant and she more than likely wouldn't be with us much longer.  It was a rough time for my sweet compassionate creature lover daughter.  It wasn't long before both girls were in tears and the news was bad.  Eggplant was floating.

As Dawn planned for the funeral flush, David and I joined her around the toilet (the one in the hall bathroom that has had a broken flusher for a couple of weeks).  Poor girl put Eggplant in and burst into tears "and the toilet doesn't even FLUSH!"  (Pause for another hug)  We got the flush to work manually and we had a sandwich hug.  I asked Dawn if she wanted to get out of the house for a bit and come on errands with me.  David said "and stop by the pet store?"  I didn't think that it was an appropriate time but to my surprise, Dawn perked up and said "could we really look at new fish?"  David reminded her that they had talked about actually being able to have four fish in the tank with the size of the tank and the fish.  I was surprised, Dawn usually doesn't bounce back like that so quickly.  But,
Left to Right: Shade, Sunshine, Tamale, and Olaf
she was up for some frozen yogurt and a trip to the fish aisle of PetSmart!

After a lot of walking back and forth down the fish aisle (and a little detour to take a peek at the fluffy cats that are there for adoption), she chose another glofish that they call green although she looks more yellow sometimes.  We went in thinking that she wanted two zebra type but all of them looked the same and she realized she wouldn't be able to tell them apart!  So, she picked one of those and the glofish.

There was a very big smile on her face as she carefully carried the bag out to the car.  I told her that it was nice to see her sun shine again.  We decided the yellow one looked like sunshine.  Then, with the darker not quite as flashy zebra fish we picked Shade for his name.  Within about 45 minutes they were all swimming around and getting used to their environment.  Fish have brought some great joy to our lives and as we found today, they will bring sadness too, but I have seen my kids grow in the experience and they all still think it is worth it!