Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Menagerie- an unusual and varied group of people.

I don't think we are that unusual, but here is a blog about a little this and a little that.

Rebecca was able to join up with a soccer team headed up by Mr. Marshall for kids from the academy. Hobe Sound Christian Academy is very nice about letting some of the local homeschoolers join in certain activities. They played twice a week after school. We live close enough that Rebecca rode her bike there and back some of the time. The last game was a couple weeks ago and it was a very hot day, but Rebecca's team won! Rebecca is wearing the blue vest with the number 2 on it. She's standing next to Mr. Marshall. She really enjoyed this event and hopes they have it again next year.

A rare picture of James falling asleep on the couch. He usually only naps in his crib. He looks like an angel! A little sweaty, but sweet. You have heard the little reading about growing old and living with your kids. All the things you will do to enact revenge on your grown up kids, like coloring on the walls, spitting out chewed up meat and gagging on your okra. Well, I would like to add another thing to that list. I'm going to eat lots of corn. We have had lots of corn on the cob lately, and boy o boy has the corn ever gone straight through James. Yup! One day I'll have my revenge! I have NO idea why there are lines under these words, but it's bugging me!

Rob, Nate and I posing with Rob's cake homemade by Rebecca.

Rebecca asked me if she could make the cake for her daddy's 40th birthday and I said OK. I really didn't know what she wanted to do, but I thought I would just let her have at it and see what she comes up with. The cake and icing are all homemade. The tombstone says over the hill, too old to count. The twinkie is a casket. There is a hole in front of the stone for the casket and the dug up "dirt" is piled up on the other side. Rob was highly amused by her concoction and so was I. :-)

I have always wondered two things. How do you scare little martians and how do martians wash their feet? Well, here is the answer.

They wash their feet in a washing machine, of course!

And to scare them, let them sit there until the washer starts agitating!

One last piece of useless Martian trivia; meet Stubbs, Zack's snake. Zack has been asking me and asking (aka begging) me to take a picture of the snake. So, I set the controls on my camera just so to get the best shot and really took my time trying to get a good picture of Stubbs. I thought this one turned out fairly good! (shiver) Zack has a 10 gallon terrarium set up with air plants and flowers. He takes good care of this little guy!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Whirlwind Day

I'm a little confused! Was yesterday Mother's Day?

Or was it our 17th anniversary?

Or was it Zack's 12th birthday?

Actually, it was all of the above! Which made for a not-so-typical Mother's Day. I didn't get breakfast in bed. (I was up and at 'em to make sure the day went smoothly) I didn't get to lay around while everyone waited on me hand and foot. (I had a birthday/anniversary meal to prepare, a birthday cake to decorate and a husband to make feel special, too) I didn't get to escape the dirty dishes. (the day wasn't about just me) But, it WAS a great day! Sunday morning service was lovely. Lunch was scrumptious. Zack loved his birthday cake and presents. (about his cake he said, "My taste buds are having a party in my mouth.") My husband was loving and sweet (to the tune of beautiful flowers and cards) Clean-up was a breeze with everyone pitching in and I did squeak in a nap.

Oh, and who in the world can resist a pudgy little boy who wants to give his mommy a kiss, too?

Saturday evening I was able to attend a Mother/Daughter banquet with Rebecca. It was a lovely dinner with a sweet program. They had mothers in all stages of life sing a song. Beginning with a mommy of a newborn singing a lullaby to her baby girl and ending with a grandmother (Ann Baldwin) singing a few songs including one that powerfully reminds us that "I've got too much to gain to loose." I love to hear Ann sing. Ever since I was a little girl sitting in camp meeting and my mom leaned over and whispered in my ear that "That lady singing is my friend." I have loved to hear her voice ever since.

Saturday evening was a whirlwind of cake making. I made a red velvet cake for my mother-in-law and a wheat-free chocolate cake for Zack. (decorated with colorful Nerds for the rocks, gummy fish and fruit roll ups for the sea weed. I thought it turned out so cute!) Rebecca made me this beautiful chocolate hat cake for us to have on Mother's Day. You can't really see it in the picture, but she did a basket weave with the icing.

Zack loved his aquarium cake and his remote control helicopter that his dad gave him. Hence this bear hug!

I hope you all had a blessed Mother's Day! And remember: "We have too much to gain to loose!"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Visiting Grandpa and Grandma

Saturday afternoon, Mom, Dad and I piled into Austin's truck and headed off to Lebanon, Pennsylvania. It had been a year since I last saw my Dad's parents and his sister, Shirley and her husband John. It had been NINE years since I last saw my Dad's brother, Stanley and his wife Elise. When we got there Saturday evening, we all headed over to a fire hall for a fundraiser dinner of chicken pot pie. (Grandpas' treat!) Can I say "Yummmm?" They had us all sit down and we were served bowl after bowl of food until we were stuffed. Then they served coffee and ice cream. It was an easy way to feed a group fairly affordably. Best of all, we left without having to clean up!

On the right side of the table we have Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Shirley and Uncle John.

On the left, we have my Dad, Mom, Aunt Elise, Uncle Stanley and Austin.

Sunday dinner was held at my Uncle Stanley and Aunt Elise's house. After dinner was a mini photo shoot of everyone. :-) Here are the three siblings. Stanley, Shirley and my Dad, Carl.

Three generations!

Pa and Ma.

Grandpa and Grandma with their three children and their spouses.

Austin, Uncle Stanley and Dad admiring the back yard...

While inside the house, we have a clean up in process...

And one sleeper on the couch. Grandpa turned really pale while he was sleeping and we were worried about his blood pressure. I checked his BP and pulse and he was OK. His color came back after he awoke. He doesn't look pale here in the photo, but he really was. I had a call from my dad late last night (Saturday) Grandpa fainted and fell and is in the hospital. He is ok, but I'm wondering if his BP meds (if he takes any) need to be adjusted.

Since my dad wasn't going to see his mother on Mother's Day, he gave her a card and roses that Sunday while we were there. I love the expression on her face when she saw the flowers.

And this photo says it all! She was SO thrilled to have all her children together that day.

Sunday evening before church, we detoured over to the farm where my daddy grew up. It's 90 acres and they farmed a lot of it. You can see the house nestled in the trees. The farm was owned by my Great Grandpa.

Here is some of the land my dad plowed many, many times.

Here is another farm house (with about 50 acres) that I remember my great grandparents living out their last days. After Great-Grandpa died, the farm was actioned off. I remember being there for the auction and running around with my cousin, Janelle. After that, Great-Grandma went to a nursing home where she lived to the age of 98. She died just after Zack was born and I was able to go up to her funeral.

OK. Sunday evening at Lebanon, Bro. Arnold's church. Penn View choir was there and my old classmate, Michele (Mason) Durkee and her family were there. It was nice to see them again, and Austin, in particular, enjoyed seeing them. We were also able to chat with another old classmate, Dwight Rine. We went to school with Michele and Dwight when we were kids at Penn View. I was looking forward to seeing Candy Hannold, too, and she was there! Her and Austin were in school together here at Hobe Sound. It was nice to catch up with all of them.

The choir and small groups did a fantastic job. I was very blessed! I didn't get any pictures of all my cousins or their children. There are MANY of them! Aunt Shirley has five children whose children range in age of pre-school to just married. We all stood around a talked for a while after Sunday morning services. Everyone was busy and the group too large to all get together on a Sunday afternoon. I totally adored Pastor Arnold's church. I told him that if I lived in the area, we would attend his church. He said "And we would treat you right, too!" I do believe he would. The services were wonderful.

Sunday evening we gathered at Grandma's apartment for super. I can't tell you what a great time we had. Dad ended up not feeling very well and we stayed an extra night instead of driving back to Austin's. We hung out in the living room having a great time teasing my dad and grandma. In order to NOT embarrass my dad, I won't tell you the content of the evening, but suffice it to say we laughed and laughed. It had a lot to do with his being sick and lots of little bars of soap including two in his socks. You REALLY don't want to know. :-)

Dad knew I would blog about the evening and was giving me a "look". See dad? I didn't betray you!!! (Note the bar of soap in dad's hand.)

Grandpa finally had enough of the hilarity and left to get his PJ's on. He came back out, though, so I guess he didn't want to miss out on the fun.

And so concludes my trip north! I'm so GRATEFUL to my LOVING husband who allowed me to go. I couldn't have gone without him holding the home front together during my absence. Poor thing. He had a daughter sick with strep throat, a baby throwing up, a toddler who WANTED to throw up and 'till I got home, another pre-teen with strep. I'm glad that I prepared meals ahead of time for him to make things easier. It helped me to not feel as guilty. I wanted to take James with me because under the age of two they can fly for free. But the silly boy turned 2, two days before I left. I probably could have gotten away with it, but I didn't feel it would have been honest. If you see my husband, give him a pat on the back. He deserves it!!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

More West Virginia!

On Monday we all went up to Cooper's Rock. I can't remember the last time I have seen a view so striking. Jennifer told me this place has been used for weddings. I can see why! It's gorgeous! Here is all of us. Me, Mom, Jeremy, Austin with Ben, Jennifer with Ashlynn and Dad.

Austin and his crew down by a creek.

Dad being funny. After we were done taking their family pictures, we were standing down by the creek just waiting for everyone to catch up as we headed back to our vehicles. I was standing behind Ben and my Dad was in front of him facing me. I heard Jen's mom yelling "Papa, move your foot! Papa, move your FOOT!" Dad jumped back just in the nick of time. Ben had to "go" really bad and decided where he was standing was the perfect spot. Let me tell you, that boy went and went! Good thing Dad heard Erma's yell!

Me and my older Bro.

The view to the left.

All the guys.

Papa and Ben.

As soon as we were finished taking pictures, Jennifer took Jeremy to the hospital for x-rays. We thought he had broken his hand at school. Turns out it was sprained in the same spot he had broken it last year. Because Jen was gone we went in to town and ate at Arby's. Here is Ashlynn enjoying her chicken. I wish I had gotten more pictures of her! She is quite the lovely niece. I could have brought her and Ben home with me. Love 'em!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Beautiful West Virginia!

A couple months ago, I was talking on the phone with my Dad and he started telling me of he and Mom's plans to fly to West Virginia and visit with my brother, Austin, and his family. From there, they planned on driving 4 hours into Pennsylvania to visit with my grandparents and aunts and uncles. I told Dad that I sure wished I could go, too. I had a $200 voucher to fly with Continental and decided to see if I could get a ticket for really cheap and make the schedules correspond with my parents as they had already purchased their tickets. Long story short... my ticket cost me $48. I flew into the same airport in Pittsburg arriving one hour before my parents. My flight home left one hour earlier than Dad's. Rob cringed at the thought of almost 6 days alone with the kiddos, but gave me permission to go.

This was my first time seeing Austin, Jen and their children in almost 3 years and my first visit to West Virginia. It is the most beautiful state! We had a super time there! The weather was incredible. I actually felt cold most of the time and had to wear a sweater. Austin lives out in the country on a farm that the owner developed.

My mom and Benjamin checking out Mr. Pretzel's horse. (The Pretzel family owns the farm.)

Austin's house and shed from the back. I'm not sure why I didn't get a photo of the front of their house! Stupid me! They have a lovely home!

We took Ben out for several walks around the neighborhood while we were there. He is only 3 years old, but endured the walk better than some adults I know! The dandelions were prolific. Made for a beautiful walk! Ashlynn (Austin's daughter) and I made daisy chains with them.

By Monday, about half of the dandelions had turned to seed. So the yards were dotted with yellow and white. (not in this photo.) Awww! How perty!

My Dad and Mom chillin' on the back porch. Nobody wanted to stay inside. Much too beautiful!

Ashlynn was in school during the days, so I ended up not getting as many pictures of her as I should have. But here is Ben again. We walked to the top of a steep hill to see the view.

The view was incredible!

Looking over the Pretzel farm. Austin's house is the 5th one down on the row to the right.

The Pretzel farm. They have an area set up for rodeos, including a little red concession stand.

Relaxing at the top.

Pretzel's had two of these beautiful belgian horses in the fields. I took a lot of pictures of them for Rebecca to see.

I'm not sure why this lady had her eyes closed!

There were two birds nests that Mom and I were keeping watch on. By the time we left, all these Robin's eggs were hatched and all four of the chickadee eggs in the other nest were hatched.

This is the view from the federal prison where Austin works. You can see for miles! I don't think inmates in Florida have a view this nice!

Giving Ben and Mack a ride on the 4 wheeler. Mack did NOT want to get off to make room for Mom.

Mom and Jen had to lift him down. He wasn't very happy about loosing his seat!

Mom taking ice tea to dad while he tilled up Austin's garden area.

Benjamin and his Papa. I love this picture!

Stay tuned for more pictures!