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Spring is really here.

IMG_8211Spring is here.  The final bit of snow is almost all gone so the kids thought it was time to go barefoot.IMG_8219I heard a lot of comments like …this grass feels weird ….everything is all squishy.  Their poor feet just are not used to being barefoot any more.IMG_8213But along with barefeet, it was time to have our first bonfire and have our first s’mores of the season.  I am so happy spring is finally here.IMG_8227

Playing catch-up

I finally have a minute to sit down, Ted has the kids at the park so the house is quiet.  Two weeks ago while we were busy trying to install a water softener, we got a call that Ted’s grandfather passed away.  It was not a complete surprise because his health had been failing for the last few years.  I had only met Grandpa Floyd 2 times in my 10 years of being with Ted.  I can’t say that I really knew him or had that many memories of him so I was indifferent whether I went to the funeral or not.  Ted on the other hand wanted to go but he didn’t know if he wanted to drag 4 small children on a 12 hour one way car ride.  There were a few options that we had but in the end Ted decided that he really wanted me and the kids to go to Michigan so he could show us a few places in his memories.  He made the decision on Monday at 10 am.  I spent the rest of the day canceling schools, speech therapy, church things…..and Tuesday morning packing and getting the van ready.  We picked Luke up after school and off we went.

For the most part our children traveled really well….(there might have been the rule that if you are traveling you can have a movie and yes that means my kids watched about 24 hours of TV in 5 days for the total of 25 hours of driving time…and I don’t care because I wanted to keep my sanity.)

We stopped at a few hotels along the way which my children always look forward too because they get to swim.  They are fish with Luke and Quinn leading the way.

IMG_8125IMG_8122I was a little nervous about the funeral because Ted’s dad’s side of the family is very conservative.  Conservative enough that Ted’s mom had once voiced her concern about me being too liberal to met that side of the family.  I know I do come off pretty liberal but I think through time Doris has come to respect me and my ways.  Anyways, I spend part of Monday calling up friends to find dresses to wear while I was out there.  Yes I don’t really own any dresses or skirts.  Thankfully I had a friend who could loan me a few so I was set.  I did find it surprising that I had to defend my choices to show respect by wearing a dress with my family.  My family thought I was changing myself too much and not being true to myself by wearing a dress.  I felt it was a sign of respect to a culture.  IMG_8136Here is a picture of all the cousins or at least the ones that made it to the funeral.  I do find it comical that Ted and his brother are about 6 inches taller then anyone else.  Even though I was dressed in navy, it just wasn’t the right look.  I definitely felt out of place.  My first time meeting everyone and of coarse my mouth got me into trouble a few times, not because I wanted to offend them but because I just didn’t understand their culture, their traditions, their way of life.   For the most part they were very forgiving and accepting.  I was worried that I was going to be judged and not accepted in their circle but that was not what I experienced.  Sure there were a few women who didn’t talk to me (they also didn’t know me at all) but most of them were so loving and fun to talk to.  They laughed a friendly laugh when Ted hung up his coat on the women’s side of the church, they quickly invited us to their homes so our children would have a place to play.  Our children were a little shy at first but as soon as the Amish horses and buggies showed up, it gave all the little children something to talk about and they started to interact with each other.  My children still had the brightest colored clothing on but they were just part of the group of second cousins playing with each other.  (Ok, it was really hard to get a picture of all the children looking and smiling without some other parent walking in front.  Because I was one of the taller people there, I went to the back but I still kept on getting adult heads in the picture. Oh well.)IMG_8150 On our drive home, Ted and I talked about may things like,

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:2

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.   1 John 2:15-17

A woman must not put on men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the LORD your God.  Deuteronomy 22:5

Had we become to much part of this world with all of it’s technological conveniences that we lose sight of what is important.  I let my children watch 24 hours of TV while we drove.  A few of Ted’s cousins live just as far away as we do.  Since they take the radios out of their cars and clearly do not approve of TV, they read and talked to their children for 24 hours.  To our credit, we were talking to our children during their movies and we made them stop the movies when something interesting was coming up but otherwise it was peaceful and easy to just turn on the movies for them.

Now I don’t think I will be buying any dresses soon, I figured my stretchy jeans are not really man cut anyways but it did make Ted and I check to see if we had our priorities correct and that our actions in our daily life match what we want to pass on to our children.

As the funeral activities continued, we got a phone call from my mom…our basement is flooded.  Water is just pouring into the stairwell in our garaged, pooling there and then running through the doorway into our finished basement.  Just great.  I ended up calling 2 youth group members to stay at our house overnight to run the shop-vac every 20 minutes.  My mom took the next day shift and then the youth came back to our house until we got home.

We were in a hurry to get home but we couldn’t just drive 12 hours after we promised our children a few fun things to do so we quickly stopped at the Air Zoo in Michigan.  I really liked it.  It was a museum with lots of information on aircraft, the air force, even the role of women pilots in WWII.  IMG_8185So our little children were not bored they had lots of aircraft to look at and rides…yes rides.  We had a blast.IMG_8163   After a few hours there, we quickly loaded up and drove 10 hours to get home.  We took all Sunday to clean up our wet basement.  My children went out to my moms to run and walk through the woods for about 4 hours (no TV).  Monday seemed to be settling down until 8:05 am when Ted called me and told me to do his laundry because he was leaving at noon to fly to San Diego for the week.  So my past week I was a single mom with 4 children who was still cleaning up from the trip to Michigan and dealing with a wet leaking basement which by the way….is still leaking.  But at least the carpet is dry now.  We are able to keep the water in the stairwell as long as we use the shop-vac.  Hopefully this week will be less crazy, wishful thinking right?

A busy crazy week….

The past week took a few crazy turns.  We started off last week with Jax’s, my nephew, first sleep over on Saturday night.  We don’t have a Sunday school program for 2 year olds so Jax and I waited at home until services started.  I figured what better to do but to take some pictures.  IMG_8006Let’s just say that taking pictures by yourself with a 2 year old model was interesting….he would not hold still for a second.  Oh well.  I left everything set up in my house to go to church so when we came back Luke decided he wanted his pictures taken too.  IMG_8032 But then as the week unfolded, craziness entered the picture.  It led to this…IMG_8093Where Ted and I kept awake on our 12 hour drive one way by counting deer…we were at 28 and 1 raccoon until we came upon this field….

IMG_8100You see the little specks way on the horizon on the left..yeah those are deer too.  I wish I had a wide-angled lens to take a proper picture of all the deer because this picture does not do it justice.  And the scary thing is this was not the only field like this.  There were multiple fields in a row with 50 to 100+ deer.  Anyways, I have more pictures to share and a few good stories but I am tired and this week is turning out to be just as crazy as last week…And it is only Monday.

First days of Spring

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The days leading up to the first day of spring was promising… all of this snow might actually melt.

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But as we got closer, we remembered we live in MN and it’s going to take a lot longer then a few days of 40 degrees to melt all the snow….Especially if we get more snow.

IMG_7882 So the best we can do is make some soup…..IMG_7872

And enjoy the first day of spring (Just so you know I was playing the professional photography by sitting on the couch and shooting through the window while my family was outside playing ball.)  IMG_7961

 

A Guardian Angel on Jenna

I know this happened about a month ago but I am just getting around to telling the story.  When Luke was in Seattle, Ted and I decided to take the three little ones to MOA (Mall of America) for a day of fun.  Someone had giving us a few unlimited wristbands so we thought it would be a pretty fun but cheap day.  Everything started out great.  We met up with an old youth group member for lunch (has since left our small rural town, moved to the cities, and now works there on the weekends when she doesn’t have classes).  It was ridiculously busy, we had a hard time finding a place to sit and by the time we were almost done eating, there were people waiting for our table. We said good-bye to our friend and took our kids to the bathrooms right next to the food court where we ate.  When we got out of the bathrooms, Ryan asked if he could have some cookies for dessert.  We stopped at a cookie store that was right at a + intersection between the stores down 2 hallways, the food court one way and the hall to the bathroom another way to see if we could buy some cookies without spending a fortune.  The whole time I was trying to concentrate on the menu, Ryan kept on tugging on my legs.  I ignored him like I usually do because I figured it was about wanting a cookie.  Finally he started yelling, “Mom, we are missing a girl.”  I asked him what he meant and he said it again, “We are missing a girl.”  What?  “Mom, Quinn is here but Jenna is not, we are missing a girl.”  IMG_7844 Enter in Ted’s and my panic mode.  Jenna was indeed gone with hundreds of people swarming around us so we couldn’t see anything.  I quickly grabbed Ryan by the hand and ran to the bathroom to see if we left her in that hall way by chance.  Ted picked up Quinn and went flying to the opposite side of the hallway to scan the food court thinking that Jenna might have just walked right past us and went to where we had sat down.  But no Jenna.  Ryan and Quinn were a bit scared by now too.  IMG_7859Just as Ted and I were getting back together to try and figure out what to do next a crying little Jenna in some random mom’s arms come parting through the crowds towards us.  The lady said she saw Jenna darting through the crowds, running like she was trying to find someone so the lady decided to follow her to make sure Jenna found who she was looking for.  The lady said it just didn’t seem right so she caught up to Jenna and picked her up.  The lady then backtracked across about 4-5 different store fronts to the food area to see if there was anyone looking for Jenna.  Had that lady not noticed Jenna or just let her go, we would not have found Jenna on our own.  But before we had time to call security and get the mall shut down, Jenna was returned to us safe and sound….a bit shaken up but safe.  I don’t know who that lady was, she never said her name but she protected Jenna when we needed someone and for that I am thankful.  IMG_7863I know these picture have nothing to do with the story but I was still working on window-lighting so I decided to throw them in.  Jenna is in the first one and the other two are Quinn (in case you can’t tell them apart yet).

Look what happened this week!

IMG_7798That’s right….somebody got their training wheels off!  IMG_7816It was a bit wobbly at first but he is starting to catch on and for only 4 1/2 years old, I think he is doing great.

IMG_7805Ted has been getting a good work out.  The girls are doing better on their bikes too.  Last year Quinn had a hard time peddling but this year she is doing great.  They have gotten fast enough now that it is hard to go for a walk with all of the kids on bikes.  It’s going to be a fun summer.IMG_7830

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Fun in the Snow

It has finally been warm enough to enjoy the snow (although with warmer weather, it also means a mess in the house from wet cloths but it is worth having the kids outside playing).IMG_7635 Last Friday my dad came down to visit.  After the girls ECFE class we decided to pick up Jax and go sledding.  So at 11:00 we headed out with a total of 7 kids (7 and under) and 3 adults…not that bad of a ratio.  Besides bathroom brakes and a quick meal at McDonalds, a few of my kids never entered the house until 5:20 when I made them come in for supper.  What were they doing for most of the time?  I had made the kids a tunnel the day before and told them I would not make them another one…it’s a lot of hard work but they suckered someone else into making more.  IMG_7642 My dad said he never made a tunnel for us growing up so it was about time he made one….yeah that’s smart, wait until you are over 60 to make your first tunnel.  While we were busy making the tunnels, Jax, my two year old nephew, was very busying eating snow where he pleased.  A few times we looked up and couldn’t find him only to see him running after a dog on the street….maybe not the best babysitting moments.  IMG_7629Annabelle (step-sister’s daughter) also came to visit with my dad.  Don’t know if Holly would approve but we taught Annabelle how to climb trees.  At first she was a bit scared but after a while she got up her courage and was going up and down on her own. IMG_7638It was a full fun day outside and wonderful to finally start getting some nice days for a change.  Before my dad left, I quickly snapped a picture of most of the grandkids (only missing 3) for him.  IMG_7604

Saturday the kids were outside for just as long playing in snow banks at my moms.  We made it back in time to line the streets with some friends (and a lot of others from our hometown) to honor a 20 year old Marine who died last week in Afghanistan.  Now Luke has been asking a lot of questions about the war and who is winning, a lot of questions and I just don’t know the answers.  I think it was good for him to realize that there is more to the world then just our little home.  IMG_7651

Round 2 of the Shower Curtain

They said on the news today that we have had 50 days of below zero temps.  I don’t remember if that is the 5th or 6th highest number since they started keeping track of weather in the 1800′s.  Yeah, it is ridiculous.  The kids don’t really have fun playing outside… well they do but they get cold and then they want to come in.  It has made us creative in our game playing.  Like right now when I am writing this, they are launching plastic Easter eggs at a basket on the couch trying to see who can get the most in the basket.  It’s a bit dangerous but they are having fun.

Surprisingly we did make it downhill skiing twice last week.  Luke is really catching on to it although this momma thinks he goes a bit too fast down the black diamonds.  I kind of wish I could put him back on the leash to slow him down but then he would not learn (but he would be alive).

Yesterday I decided to work on my photography skills …. better focus.  Since it was cold out and my house is full of stuff, I got out the shower curtains again and moved the kitchen table.  I started with Jenna who was so happy to help.  IMG_7423-2I then moved on to Quinn who was also eager to help out.  We tried a few things including pictures with the cat because she loves Nala.  When I asked Quinn to grab the cat she gave me a look like…you want me to do what?  She loves Nala and is always carrying the cat around.  IMG_7465It ended in failure because Nala scratched her and Quinn ended up in tears.  We took a brake, had a bit of candy and went back to posing.  These girls are really starting to love getting their picture taken which really helps me practice.  IMG_7523-2 I then moved on to my boys.  They were tough.  They goofed off, wiggled like crazy. gave me really cheesy smiles. well you get the picture.  IMG_7495Eventually I got them to behave because if they didn’t they wouldn’t get their piece of candy.  Ryan turned into sugar at the thought of getting some real sugar.  I think Luke was still a little skeptical about the candy.  IMG_7490-2Luke is getting older but I assured him he would get a piece.  It worked and they did get their candy.  Still need a lot more practice on focusing and lighting and composition and….well you get it a lot of things but I am happy with these.  Hope you enjoy.IMG_7482

Letting your oldest grow up.

I am going to put a disclaimer right away.  All the pictures were taken with our point and shoot which doesn’t take the best pictures but it is easier to travel with and after all the pictures were up-loaded on to the computer, I realized that they all have the same smudge.  I looked at the lens and sure enough there was the fingerprint.  So all pictures in this post will have a smudge, I have taken care of it and any future pictures from the point and shoot will hopefully be a bit better.

Back to the real post…..These past two weekends have been a stretch for me, letting my oldest child grow up.  He is only 6 1/2 years old but wanting independence on everything.  The things we let him do these past two weekends has made him think he can handle a whole lot.  It makes me nervous.  For starter, we let Luke go on vacation without us.  He went on a trip with my mom to Seattle to see my brother.  It was not the first time he was on an airplane (that was when he was 17 months old) but it was the first time he remembers.  He thought he was pretty grown up taking care of his own stuff on the trip.  He was in charge of his suitcase and backpack for the whole trip.  I am not sure how he did but for the most part everything came back…. down to the last sock.  We even gave him our little camera to travel with hence the fingerprint (haze) on all of the pictures.DSCF2505I think my brother took quite a few pictures because Luke is posing with his cousin.  He had a blast in Seattle.  For this past week he liked to tell us what time it is here in the Midwest and in Seattle.  DSCF2515  As for this past weekend, I will let the picture speak for itself…..DSCF2518

Yeah…all by himself no dog leash, no hand, no in between someone’s legs……all by himself.  He did awesome but man did it make me nervous.  I should maybe do another disclaimer, this black diamond is at a very small ski hill close to home and would probably not be considered a black diamond at Lutsen, MN or any other bigger normal ski resort where they actually have mountains.   Give him another year or two and I think he will be ready for a trip to CO for a real ski trip (or maybe just to Lutsen because it is closer).  We should start fundraising because skiing is expensive.  As much as this one wants to grow up, my little baby Ryan is still content skiing with daddy.  He wants nothing to do with the dog leash or going by himself and I am ok with that.

DSCF2520Do you see the haze now….annoying isn’t it.  Oh well.  Can’t do anything about it now and I would rather have the pictures to remember it then not.

Window lighting and some randomness

My photography club has been working on window lighting this whole month.  I have found that there are some women that are really good at window lighting.  They get a very dramatic effect with the level of shading.  Most are B&W pictures but not all.  I have found that I am terrible at figuring out my window lighting for good pictures. I have been trying different times of the day, different windows, etc still not getting the effect that I want.  I think my kids are getting tired of me experimenting on them because I now get faces like this.  IMG_7282Or I get faces like this…  IMG_7270I decided I needed new kids so while the boys were away at kicking class with the neighbor, I watched all the girls at home.  I popped this little girl in front of the window to see if I could get the effect that I wanted.  IMG_7272Well, not the effect that I wanted but at least it was a decent picture with a kid willing to actually smile at me and attempt to look cute.  I need some more work on this, I have yet to try a north facing window which is next up if I can get my girls or boys to corporate.

And some randomness, we have been having a lot of snow days. Yesterday we dropped the boys off at my moms before the ice started, hoping that school would be canceled today so they could have a sleepover.  It worked out just fine.  Because the boys were gone, my house was a little quieter which was nice.  The girls and I cleaned up the house and then got to just hang out and play (well, I took pictures while they played.)  IMG_7306-2We didn’t get outside at all so today I decided to walk around the block with the girls to see all of the new snow.  They were not excited to go outside.  They whined, cried, and drug their feet one whole side of the block.  IMG_7334I wanted to actually enjoy my walk so I asked them if the walk would be better if they got a piece of candy when they got home.  And suddenly it was an all out sprint home.  IMG_7341Yes they ran 3 sides of the block, up the driveway and then screamed, “Mommy home, Mommy home.”  They went inside, took off their cloths and waited patiently by the candy jar.  And yes I gave them candy.  I had to follow through with what I said.  A few hours later, I dropped the girls off at Grandma’s house for a sleep over and brought the boys home.  It’s kind of nice just having 2 kids home at a time (although right now there are 2 neighbor kids here so I still have 4 but they are older so I don’t have to do much with them).

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