"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Heart of Gratitude

After breakfast this morning, Zoe came up to me and said, "Thank you for letting me eat breakfast, Mom."  Now it's not like I have ever NOT let her eat breakfast.  It kind of comes with the being a mom - I feed my kids...day in and day out.  I don't wake up in the morning and think, "Now will I let them eat this morning or not?  Hmm, let me think on that for a moment..."  No.  I feed them because I love them.

What struck me was her grateful heart for something so mundane and habitual as eating breakfast.  It got me thinking about how I don't appreciate, or stop to appreciate, the many ways that God "mundanely" and habitually blesses me each day.

In case I didn't get the lesson the first time (I'm a slow learner, and God knows it!), after I drove Emily to her orthodontist appointment, she said to me, "Thanks for driving me to my orthodontist appointment, Mom."  Hmm, now I have a daughter who is thanking me for taking her to see a doctor who causes her pain and suffering (albeit temporary).  It's not like she loves the ortho or anything like that.  She actually HATES going because she knows she will be in pain afterwards, but nonetheless she thanked me for taking her.

This gave me more to think about.  Do I take the time to thank God for things in the midst of my pain and suffering?  Do I see the good amidst all the "bad" each day?

So, now I am working on cultivating my own heart of gratitude, that sees the things to be thankful for and expresses that thanks daily :-)

Look Who's 11

The Best Dog EVER

Happy birthday, Snickers!  I know you don't get on the internet (you can't teach old dogs new tricks, and all), but Mumford will have to pass along the birthday greetings.

We couldn't ask for a sweeter dog!  We love you tons!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Random Cabin Photos

In case you're wondering what those wonderful young people look like...

Just hanging out

Mitchell, taking a little nap

Austin loves his guitar <3

Tracy gave haircuts to those with enough hair to cut

Jason invented a new sport - paddle canoeing


Friday, July 27, 2012

Young People These Days

If you are frustrated by the state of young people these days.....you're hanging around the wrong young people!  I'm spending the weekend at our cabin with 14 teens and young adults, and they are some of the finest people I know!

Seriously, the cabin neighbors came over and thanked the kids for singing songs around the campfire because it reminded them of going to church camp as kids.

They worshipped, prayed, shared, talked, laughed, played...

I love these kids!

Good To Know

$15/hour  - chauffeur's hourly wages

Just thought this would be good information to know, considering the amount of time I've spent in the car this week shuttling children hither and thither! Just on the off-chance that I begin charging for my services......

Actually, I HAVE instituted a new policy around here to "pay" for my chauffeur time.  Here's how it works: If I spend an hour of my time driving Social Child to go see a movie, then Social Child "owes" me an hour of their time, say to watch their younger siblings or make dinner or some such service.  These rates only apply when the driving serves no other purpose than to satisfy the recreational desires of Social Child.  So, if I drive SC to, say, work; no charge.  If I drive SC to flute lessons, no charge.  If I drive SC to go swimming with friend, full-charge!

I'm thinking this system will work out quite well :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Am Not Alone

While I was away, Chris met a man who lives around the block from us.  While chatting with this neighbor, Chris mentioned that our dog's name was Mumford, and the man said, "There's a great band by that name!"  :-)

After chatting for awhile, Chris found out that this gentleman is traveling to Kentucky in August to go to a Mumford & Sons concert.  :-)  This made me smile!  It also made me say, "You see!  I'm not the only one!!"

Now, for those of you that are not joining me in Dixon (or going to any of the other concerts), I present to you a sample of WHY people travel across the continent to go to a M & S concert.  You don't have to watch the whole thing, but at least listen to two songs.

Our experience will be similar - only in English!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In Hindsight

Letting the girls play the Hunger Games on a remote island covered in rocks and tree roots sounded like a good idea at the time.  I mean, running through the woods and throwing mud balls at each other would be a great way to spend a Friday afternoon in the wilderness.

The whistle blew and they were off to get their mud...

Well, maybe we didn't give those rocks and tree roots enough thought, because about 10 seconds into the game....notice Molly, feet up in the air, as she trips and ends up quite scratched....

and about 2 seconds after that is when Kallie sprained her ankle

In hindsight, maybe we should have brought along some crocheting...

Cliff Notes of My Trip

Day 1:
Set up camp.

Days 2-4

Day 5
Reverse of Day 1

More info and pictures to come after a lovely night's sleep in a real bed, inside real walls.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Call Me Maybe

Or maybe not.

Or wait until Monday night.

Same goes for e-mails, Facebook, etc.

I will be out of touch - more so than usual - until we arrive back from the great wilderness on Monday night.  I hope nothing exciting happens while I am away!

One year, the US went to war while my mom was in the Boundary Waters.  She didn't know anything about it until she got out.  Hope nothing like that happens while we are gone!

I'll miss you all.  I'll make up for the five day absence of blog posts by posting amazing pictures and fun stories when I get back.

Ta ta for now!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Table For Nine

Bright and early Thursday morning, Molly, Emily and I, along with six other lovely ladies are embarking on our wilderness adventure into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Just because we're leaving civilization behind doesn't mean we can't enjoy civilized meals.  Behold, food for nine people for four days...oh, except for the steak and chicken...and eggs...
And here are the same meals, sans the excess packaging, all protected in Ziploc baggies.
We don't believe in sacrificing flavor just because we have no electricity, electricity or running water.  Actually, there is a LOT of running water, but not of the tap variety.   No dehydrated food for us!  Oh, no! 

On the menu for this trip are such things as: steak, marinated chicken, pizza, breakfast burritos, Greek pita sandwiches, and other such delectable fare!  Oh, and let's not forget the cheesecake...topped with cherries, of course!  And the glory of it all, is that we will be burning so many calories paddling that we can eat all we want without even giving it a thought.

About the only thing I miss, food-wise, while I'm up there is ice cold Dr. Pepper...oh, and maybe ice cream :-)

The down-side to eating so well...all this food is HEAVY and the only way it's getting to our campsite is to carry it (over the portages).  Ahh, but it's a price we will gladly pay for our tasty meals!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Speaking of Fingers

We had another finger-related conversation around here recently. 

Evan was recounting that a man with six fingers on each hand had come into the store over the weekend.  I told him he should have said, "My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!"  But, thankfully, he didn't do that.  I wonder how often six fingered people hear that line, btw!

Anyway, that's not the point!  The point is, my son then tells me, "I did finally get the answer to something I've always wondered about." 

What's that, Evan? 

"I've always wondered if people with six fingers wear their wedding ring on their second finger in, or the third finger in (which would be the actual ring finger).  This man had it on the third finger."

Okay, so this is the type of thing that my eldest has always wondered about?!  I wonder what other strange questions are rolling through that boy's mind?  Maybe it's best not to ask!

Need A Laugh?

Zoe: "Raelea, guess how many fingers I'm holding up behind my back."

Raelea: "I'm guessing....eleven."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gourmet S'mores

Summer is in full swing, so now would be the perfect time to share some great gourmet s'more recipes.  We've been making these for years, and I can't believe I have never shared them with my blog buddies and Facebook friends before now.

So, without further ado, here are variations on the s'more theme -

First, I must assume that you are all familiar with the basic s'more: roasted marshmallow, piece of chocolate, all between two graham crackers.

Okay, now you need to try these:
  • Graham cracker/sliced bananas/peanut butter/roasted marshmallow
  • Cinnamon graham crackers/cream cheese/fresh blueberries/roasted marshmallow
  • Graham cracker/peppermint patty/roasted mint chocolate marshmallows
  • Chocolate chip cookies/roasted marshmallow
  • Chocolate Graham crackers/chocolate bar/fresh raspberries/roasted marshmallow
 I must say they are all EXCELLENT, but the last one is my personal favorite!  Completely delicious!

So, go out right now, build a bonfire and enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Face Lift

It's a work weekend at the cabin.  Our bunkhouse, which really isn't that old, needs a facelift.  It seems that when we made it, we made it a little TOO airtight, resulting in mildew growing on the inside walls :-(  So, today has been spent gutting the inside of the bunkhouse, and then putting in new stuff - as in, a beautiful new floor (it was just cement), new paneling and some new vents in the ceiling.

The taking apart...

then the putting back together.  How many people does it take to lay a floating floor anyway?

Not done yet, but looking mighty nice :-)
It's not quite done, but I think you'll agree that it looks quite lovely already!

No City Lights

One of the many wonderful things about being at the cabin is that there are no city lights to hide the stars.  So, last night my dear hubby was up at 2:30 am taking pictures of the Milky Way from the cabin yard...while I slept peacefully and blissfully unaware of any of this.
I got more sleep, but he got a better view :-)

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Official Picture

A few weeks ago I posted about our family reunion, and the difficulties of getting a family portrait.  Well, cousin Bill has now sent the official family reunion photo, and here I will share it with YOU!

A fine looking bunch, don't you think?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Never Heard That Before

Chris and I were at the park with Aidan, showing him how it's done on the basketball court when a gentleman walked by, looked at Aidan and said,

"They're eating you like a red-headed chipmunk!"

I can honestly say, there's an expression I have never heard in my 46 years of life!

All Grown Up

My little girl looking all grown up!

For The Bucket List

I found another thing to add to my Bucket List.

Ragbrai!  Never heard of it?  Neither had I until two days ago, when I was reading this article in Midwest Living.  Apparently, Ragbrai is a 500 mile, week long, non-competitive bike ride across....wait for it....Iowa.

Now, you might be thinking this interests me because I just got a new bike, but in actuality, it interests me because it involves FOOD! 

"And with food stands waiting at the end of every corn row, riders may actually finish heavier than they started."

Biking AND food!  what more could one want for a week of fun?  Okay, I probably won't ever do the whole week (after all, 500 miles is a LONG way!), but you can register to just a day or two (approx. 68 miles each day). That, I think, would be very fun.

The original Ragbrai was in 1973.  How is it that I, living just one state away, was not aware of this for the past 40 years??  Apparently, it is the best kept secret in Iowa; although, the bike salesman at REI knew all about it.  I guess I just don't hang out in the right crowds to hear about such things.

And so it goes on the Bucket List.  I'm thinking I better do it sooner rather than later, since biking 68 miles in a day probably won't be something I'll want to do when I'm 86.  Maybe next year though.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nikola!!

I know I reminded you several weeks ago, that July 10th was Nikola Tesla Day.  Yet now that it is July 10, I had completely forgotten the event myself!  Thanks to Josh for reminding me of this noteworthy event.

So, let's see....today, I used a blow dryer, a radio, lights...I drove the car around a lot...I'm always using the wi-fi...All fitting ways to celebrate this genius of a man.

How have you celebrated Tesla Day????

Happy birthday, Mr. Tesla.
Thanks for being super smart!

You know, I don't think he had anything to do with ice cream, but I'm thinking that I will go out for some ice cream to celebrate anyway!

My New Toy

Looky, looky what I got yesterday!
A new bike!!  And it cost all of $28 (thanks to our REI dividend - have I told you lately how much I LOVE REI?).

Can't wait to go on a ride later today!!!

Thanks, Chris, for using all that dividend money on me.  You are so sweet!!

Around or Through

I'm a pretty lazy person.  I like to be comfortable, I like things to be easy, and I like to know where my next step is going to land.  No drama, no stress - that would suit me just fine.  If I see a puddle in my path, I invariably go around it, not through it.  No sense getting my shoes dirty if I don't have to, you know?  I mean, who knows what sort of yuck lurks in the bottom of that puddle!

As I was reading my Bible this morning it struck me that God frequently likes us to go through, not around.

Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.       Psalm 77:19-20

 God could have led his people around the sea.  It would have been a more known, and probably more comfortable, way to go.  But He didn't.  He led them through it.  Removing the water from their path, but not from their sight.  Taking them on a path straight into the unknown where absolute trust and faith were required.

And so he leads us, through the unknown territory where the dangers and difficulties are well within our sight, and absolute trust and faith are required.  A bit scary, isn't it?  Until you read this -

In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.  To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.    Psalm 22:4-5

Monday, July 9, 2012

Look What Came In The Mail

Not quite as exciting as tickets, but it will do the trick for a Monday!

I've never given Dixon, Illinois, any thought until about six weeks ago, and now I am enamored by it :-)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Why I Live In Minnesota

Not Time For A Countdown

It is 40 days until I leave for Dixon.  It's a little early to start my countdown posts, but not too early to listen to this :-)
A Little Bit of Everything by Dawes

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Little Bit of Paradise

Every year at this time I write essentially the same blog post, telling anyone within two hours drive of Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, that they should REALLY go pick blueberries at Rush River Produce!  This year will be no different.

You really, really, REALLy should go pick blueberries at Rush River Produce!

I kid you not, they have the best tasting blueberries there, EVER.  Not only are the blueberries outstanding, the owners are super friendly and encourage you to eat while you pick, and the setting is positively pastoral!  If I could pass a blueberry through the internet for you to taste, you would quickly see that I am telling the truth.  They're amazing!

Since you can't taste the blueberries, you'll have to just look at the pictures and imagine what they taste like.

Don't they look amazing?!

Here I am directing the kids to prime blueberries :-)

Raelea's a pro at this!  She's been coming her since she was a baby.

Marcus picked several pounds by himself.

Zoe ate several pounds by herself.  Literally, she spent the entire time we were there doing this...

Not only do Terry & John grow spectacular blueberries, they have amazing gardens, as well.
 Okay, now you've seen it with your own eyes, do you believe me?  There are a lot of blueberries just waiting to be picked :-)

As a bonus to this year's post, we will also recommend an ice cream place to go to after you've picked your berries!  Flat Pennies Ice Cream in Bay City, Wisconsin, has extremely tasty ice cream to top off your stomach after eating all those blueberries.  A special thanks to my friend Wendy for recommending Flat Pennies to us!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

That Makes Sense

I woke up this morning with a bumpy, itchy rash on my left arm.

Apparently my left forearm is allergic to July 5.

Food, Fun & Festivities

The Fourth was full of all the usual fare!  Our dear friends Dan & Erica graciously invited us over to their house watch to local parade - an especially kind offer since they live on the parade route.  Our local parade is really bizarre in that people start "saving" their viewing spots at about 6 AM on July 3!  Well before the parade starts (at 1 PM on the 4th), the whole parade route is lined with tarps reserving a viewing spot.  Erica & her kids sat out for hours on the 3rd to save them and us a prime viewing spot (translate, in the shade).

Anyway, we enjoyed some nummy picnic food.  The little kids splashed around in a little pool and the big girls enjoyed the air-conditioned house :-)  Of course, the evening brought fireworks and then it was off to bed for my exhausted crew :-)

Emily & Molly being...Emily and Molly

Not really sure what's going on here!  I'm sure everything is fine though.....

Mandatory food picture  

Waiting for the parade to start!

How many bodies can they fit in this pool?

Nina & Emily enjoying air-conditioned comfort