Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bible Study Group at the Lake: Take Eight

For the past eight years, my sister in law and I have hosted our Ladies Bible Study group and their children for a day at the lake each summer.  While the core group might have changed a little, the fun has only grown through the years.  Traditions like sand baseball, jumping off the dock, and even races across the cove have made for some fabulous memories.  For my kids and theirs.

In fact, I might have heard from more than one family that their kids hardly slept the night before they were "that" excited.  Mr C and his cousin A even took on the task of chicken fighting and football tossing.  Love those teenage boys and their endless energy and strength!

Sadly, the extreme heat led to a short game of baseball on the sand, but the boys recovered with a longer game of football in the water and lots of fancy dock jumping!  Who says only basketball players get "air." I saw a bit under most of these boys feet.

I love watching my kids/ niece and nephew take on the role as host and they do such a good job of including the younger kids in the games. Even Mr J who is not a fan of getting very wet, but loved his orange inter tube had his share of attention. Last year, the lake was all about all the girls and this year, it was all boy.  Even in the water, they worked up quite a sweat with all that splashing. 

Good thing most of the girls found a floating device to use as their vehicle of choice.  Miss A had her own little vessel going on and she and Mr C even found some time to just veg out and enjoy the water and sunshine.  Oh, the joys of summer; when hanging out is all the work you have to do.

All in all it was the perfect day and a great summer tradition. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hatmaker: Who Knew? In Over My Head!

Once in awhile, I get in over my head.  Literally.  Like recommending that Mr C's youth group dress up as Smurfs at camp and how it would be no problem for me to make a few Smurf hats out of fleece.  There is a big costume contest among the cabins and in the past the group has scoured the Goodwill for ideas. Mr C and I thought it would be so easy to wear blue shirts and white hats. Easy peas!

I figured how hard could it be to make a few hats. Me, the non-sewing mama.  I don't even own a sewing machine and my last sewing project was nearly 14 years ago was just a hem on a shower curtain.  My normal mode is to suggest to either my mother or mother in law that they help with any sewing we have.  Really, I just pawn it off on them and then thank them profusely afterwards.

Of course, the youth director did not say yes to my idea until a week before my son was to leave. At the time, my mother was out of town for a few days, my in laws live eight hours away, and I was on a time crunch.  Leaving me responsible for making the hats!

I found a great pattern for the smurf hats on a blog; went to Hobby Lobby and begged the fabric lady to help me with the details, and then went home and started cutting out 24 smurf hats and hand stitching all of them.  I told my husband I must have sounded a tad desperate as an older women at the fabric cutting table volunteered to have me come to her house and use her sewing machine for an afternoon.  A kind offer, but when she said it was a Bernina and could do "everything" I knew it was over my head.

Let's just say that making 24 hats out of fleece is no easy task.  Especially with my sewing skills.  I think I spent maybe three or four hours a day for three days and still had a stack to complete.  Hand sewing might have made me rethink the whole Amish thing.  It's tough!

After about three days of making hats, my friend D came to the rescue and sewed the final 10 hats on her little sewing machine.   Can't even tell you how much faster it was.  Wow, technology!  Plus I got to spend a little time chatting with a friend while she worked away.  It's fabulous to have good friends who know how to do things!

You might say that I know what's on my Christmas list this year; a sewing machine.  That, and maybe the ability to say no to projects! 

By the way, the Smurf Boys won the contest. Is it any wonder?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Brain Mush: Not Here

I'll admit it; my brain can sometimes suffer from the motherhood brain mush.  You know the one where you call your daughter by your son's name or you go to grocery store and can't remember where you've parked the car or you can't remember how old you are until you go to the Dr and he reminds you.

In an effort to keep our brain active this summer, we have reading time, math time, goofing off time, and jumping in the pool time.  We also made plans as part of our summer bucket list to go to a museum hosting a Mind Game Exhibit; Mindbender Mansion. The girls first went with Nana a few weeks earlier and had all kinds of great suggestions on what to do and how best to master the games.

Can you really beat an exhibit with a bumper car type puzzle or a jumping spelling game?  It was fun to watch my math genius kids work out the puzzles so quickly. Mr C's brain was in overdrive and often he had a posse of little boys following him around watching him figure out the puzzles and games.  His mother might have relied on his help too, but that will be our secret.

I'll admit I'm not a mind game person. I hate sudoku, but love to play solitaire and scrabble.  However, I really enjoyed my time at the museum.  Not only did I enjoy just experiencing it with the kids, I tried my hand a few games and even conquered a few.  Who knows, maybe this winter I'll take up crossword puzzles? 

Think we are adding the item "take Dad to the Mindbender Musuem" to our summer bucket list.  It's good to flexible. It encourages brain function I've heard.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I Survived Girl Scout Camping in 100 Degree Heat

I'm not really an "outdoorsy" person.  Shocking I know.  How I've survived seven years as a Girl Scout leader with my disdain for camping, tents and bugs is rather amazing. Honestly, I think it's all because I've been able to convince my troops and their parents that Cabin Camping is just as good as Tent Camping.

Even better.  Air Conditioning, indoor toilets and the ability to sleep in a bunk house on a small thin mattress makes this outdoor activity much more tolerable.  I am a wimp and I own it!  However since the temperature was 104 degrees when we left town, I'm not sure we would have gone camping at all had we not had the deluxe accommodations. 

As the co-leader of Miss A's troop, I was able to strong arm my friend into going camping this summer at my favorite cabin camp along with its outdoor pool. We even convinced our friend, the 2nd grade leader, to bring her troop along. Miss M and her friend M came along as the seasoned "campers" and were invaluable with their ability to play, teach songs, and just flat out entertain 22 young girls. I'm not sure I'll go camping again without some older girl Tagalogs!  Thank you "M's"

Miss A had an absolutely fabulous time on her first ever Girl Scout camping trip. She loved the crafts (water bottle flowers and t-shirt autographs), had a blast swimming with all her friends at the pool, and the hikes at night and early in the morning were just the perfect amount of challenge and fun.  It's hard to beat walking along the shore, climbing over rocks, and singing camp songs with all your buddies.

Miss A and I shared a bunk bed.  She took the top so she could chat with her friends while I read my book on the bottom in between the giggling of an room full of excited first and second girls sleeping in bunk beds at a camp. 

I'll admit that I can't imagine going to camp without some of the amazing moms who came along.  I might be able to wrangle a group of girls to get going along a trail or come up with crafts for a group, but I can't make pancakes on a griddle to save my life or handle all the clean up or keep a bunch of girls happy and safe without their help.

Well worth all the effort involved!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Family Hike and Bucket List Promises

Having out of town family in for the weekend was a perfect excuse to spend the weekend at the Lake and cross a few items off our Summer Bucket List.  

An early morning walk to the Railroad Bridge and around the river bed made for great fun. No pictures this time from the Railroad Graffiti; lets just say my photography skills are not that good to blur out all the inappropriate words and gestures!  What's that saying my mother always said "foolish names and foolish faces will always be found in foolish places."  Guess momma was right!

I think Miss M was thrilled that she had worn her old tennis shoes when she took a big step in the mud!

Miss A and Uncle S took off on their own adventure and found a few trail for us to take.

Our afternoon in the sun and sand of course had to include a trip to Sandy Bottoms where we attempted a round of Beach Volleyball.  Sadly to sides were not even and Mr C might be a little too competitive to loose to a seven year old!  Just saying.

No trip to Sandy Bottoms would be complete however without some chicken fighting.  Hopefully, Uncle S's shoulders recovered before he arrived in Sunny California.  We might have to call this the summer of "Chicken Fighting."  Just don't tell the PETA people, they might get the wrong idea.

I think Uncle S and Aunt C and Cousin L were impressed with our family quarterback.  What can I say, Mr P missed his calling in the NFL when he choose Insurance as his profession.  At least that's what we tell him each time he tosses that Nerf football towards the end of the dock and into the hands of the waiting child!

 Let's face it; you can't throw the football the same way to a 5 foot eleven inch boy and an almost eight year old girl!  It's all about technique. The perfect dip in the water first, the arch of the arm and the perfect speed of the ball.  P would say it's a skill that's its taken him years to perfect. 

Finally, to finish off our weekend, we took the boat to the Marina and had Pizza on the Patio.  This item has been on our bucket list for a few years, and before we've always settled for ice cream or a snack, but we finally had the perfect weekend, the perfect guests to share it with and the perfect excuse to celebrate.  Why we waited so long for Marinated Pork and Beef Pizza is something we'll always wonder! 

Then for a last hurrah on the night Mr C got out his Remote Control Speedboat and showed off a little bit.  At one point he was even racing a real speed boat!  I won't say who won.  As Mr C pointed out, there really is nothing better than sitting on the dock and just driving your boat around and hearing the sound of the water splash. 

Sometimes just savoring the moment and doing the bucket list item is enough!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm not a fan of the Paper Latern

We finished our celebration of the 4th of July at a party at a friend's house.  I love the role reversal when we attend parties with Miss A's little friends and my bigger kids do a great job of not only fitting in with the crowd, but being such good role models for the others.  They used to be the little kids.  Now, they are good sports and as a parent I couldn't be prouder.

It was at this party that I saw our son's love of fireworks has evolved.  That little boy who used to be afraid of the noise each July is now the master of lighting the punks, fountains, and other fireworks.  He's smart enough to move quickly out of the way once the baby is light, which makes his momma proud.  I seriously believe it was only a few weeks ago that we had to play the night time CD loud and get him in bed a little early in hopes of not having the fireworks pop and crackle outside our windows.

Miss M, as always the baby and little kid magnet, was the pied piper and busy entertaining Miss A's little friends.  She's a little more of a nervous nell however and was a little more concerned about the safety of the fireworks show.  Not that I blame the child, it did seem like we were reliving the Revolutionary War with the amount of firepower in the air.

Guess you might have figured out I'm not really a fireworks gal. In fact I'm the parent who offers to give my children a $20 bill to light on fire for the same amount of fun as a firework.  I'm really fun at a party obviously.

Miss A was having a blast, drinking pop, running around with her friends and watching the adults (and Cameron) start fires in the street. I mean fireworks!  Here is when I'll admit I have a love hate relationship with Paper Lanterns.  I was in awe of how cool they were from a distance.  Up close, they were scary.  Something about the open flame floating around low to the ground.

I think that Miss A's friend who thought it was possible the house might burn down; wasnt' too far off.  I'm glad glad we made it out of there alive!  All in all it was a great way to finish off the Independence Day celebrating and now I know what it's like to live in a warzone.

4th of July Festivities

With Independence Day in the middle of the week, we decided to make it a stay-cation week at the lake and essentially celebrated our "Freedom" for about five days! We love America.

The weather was perfect for days on the beach, afternoon games of "chicken," boat rides to the Marina, and jumping off the dock to catch the football.  It doesn't get anymore American than that, does it? 

Add a few trips around the lake with cousins on the tube, a trip to sand mountain (or two) and a game of king of the mountain on the raft and you can't ask for a better week.  I think Miss A and Miss M were actually catching some real air when they jumped the dock, and Mr C was rethinking his decision not to play football this fall.  That boy can catch a football when he wants too! 

By the "real" fourth of July, we had water logged bodies, sunburned noses (under the eyes is so hard to get the right amount of sunscreen!) and I had nearly 400 pictures on my camera card to capture the moments.

Of course before we could call this holiday over, we had to take the customary photo with the 4th of July doll.  Too bad Mr C is now to old to twist his arm into submission.  Guess the fact that he's almost six feet tall means might have something to do with it.  I still remember when the doll was bigger than him though.  It was only yesterday.

We had a great long week, and stored up so many memories.  Not the least of which is how soundly I beat everyone in Scatagories! I'm just saying. 

I'm thinking America's birthday 2012 was among one of the best ever!

Happy Birthday USA, we love our country. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Keep Calm and Pray On: My Favorite Spot

Do you have that special place in your home?  You know, that place where you go to sit and be still.  The place you meet God in daily prayer, Bible study and just feel His presence.  In the winter, my "place" is a big red comfy chair in my study that literally swallows you up while you devour the Word.  I love this chair. God and I have had many long talks there.

The thing about having a spot is that it serves as a visible reminder to be keeping up with my Bible study, my prayer time and my relationship with God. That is whether I'm sitting out in there in the moments before dinner enjoying a glass of wine with my husband, chatting and going over dreams. Or I'm sitting on the deck with my favorite Summer Bible Study Group discussing Nehemiah and life, My spot is a reminder that all these "things" in my life go so much better when I sit there regularly having my quiet time!

As a Christian living in the world today, I think it's so valuable to surround yourself, your home and your life with little moments of encouragement, with words of wisdom from the Bible, and decor that uplifts your spirit.  Maybe that's why there is a cross in my kitchen, a Bible verse on my fireplace mantel, and a few chosen pieces of Christian art pieces in the house.  Living in today's world means I need to make sure my haven, my home, is a place of refuge and calm for myself and my family.

This summer, my place has changed. We are in the process of redoing our deck including staining, furniture, and decor. It's a place in progress, but we do have a new loveseat and big comfy chair that are slowly becoming my new "God place."  That does not apply this week since it has been 100 degrees for weeks meaning my time has to be late at night or early in the morning! Honestly, sometimes I've just had to use my winter spot.  Guess if it's this hot in the summer, maybe the outdoors will become my winter spot!

I was thrilled when Dayspring offered me a chance to review some Redeemed Outdoor Decor.  They must have read my mind that I needed a big comfy pillow for my spot!  I love my "Keep Calm, Pray On" pillow.  Not only does it fit the bill for soft and perfect for snuggling, it is just like a warm hug from God telling me to keep on keeping on.  Some days I need that little nudge. Don't you?

Maybe in the summer I realize my need to refresh and rebuild my spirit even more because I'm surrounded all day by noise and activity.  Those few moments alone are a little bit of heaven!  They uplift my spirit, refresh my soul and build my faith.  Guess they are kinda like a lifesaver.  I can hardly wait until this fall when the deck is freshly stained and the heat is a long ago memory and I sit out on the deck wrapped up in a blanket, talk to God, and focus on keeping calm and praying on.

By fall I'll have the flag pole on the back deck too, and will be able to proudly display my Keep Calm and Pray On Flag. For now, it's greeting visitors to our home.  If nothing else, it's distracts them from the dead flowers and dying grass!

You should check out the other Redeemed Outdoor Items at Dayspring. I think I've already found my new doormat for the back deck.  Gotta love a place that reads my mind, I was just thinking I needed a new one!

* I was given the Dayspring Redeemed Outdoor Pillow and Flag to review, but all the thoughts about the products are my own. Thank you Dayspring for consistently having great products with a message available to purchase. Love them! 


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Loving Summer: No time to Blog

We are loving summer. Really. Maybe not this heat or the dry weather or the fact that it's slipping by so fast; but the fun and relaxation and the joy we've gotten out of being together and having fun. We've loved that.  At the end of each day, I think I really should blog, but then my brain is so full of mush and my heart is full that I just can't get it all down on paper.

It's been a great summer, but there have been changes too and they have been hard.

When I'm thinking deeply or feeling deeply, I don't talk as much or write as much. That's not true, I do talk to my husband and to God, but the rest I just ponder. Just call me Mary. Out of the overflow of my heart, I tend to circle the horses and demand time with my peeps, fun times with lots of laughs and memories.

Just ask my camera card how this summer has been.  It's filled with about 2000 photos from the last two months. No kidding. I think I took 800 pictures over the 4th of July alone.  Gotta captures these moments and pictures sometimes are the only way I know to hold onto them.  In some ways, it seems like just yesterday my kids were taking naps and I was fitting in trips to the pool around those naps and swim diapers. Now we fill each day to the brim and Mr C is still going at 11:00 p.m.  Often, we are not.

I love it.  We've spent so much time in the sand and lake water this summer that our toes will never loose the wrinkle. I've driven Mr C to the driving range and golf lessons so much that I don't even think to put groceries in the trunk anymore; it is filled with three bags of clubs. Miss M and Miss A have had so many sisters sleepovers I don't remember whose room is whose anymore. Well, the Barbies might give me a clue!  Miss M has been busy babysitting, dancing, twirling in the pool, and learning to cook.  Miss A had an early birthday party with her girlfriends and has spent hours each week with her Barbies and created entire cities in her room. 

I've read 22 books this summer. Call me crazy, but I love the escape of a good book and love to just dwell in other worlds for a little each day.  In my mind, I'm learning Pennsylvania Dutch.  Either that or I've read a lot of Amish Fiction lately.   A friend the other day mentioned a "book" that I won't name on this blog, but she said she didn't think my Amish sensibilities could handle the topic.  She was right! 

Summer is slipping away and I'm trying to grab it by the horns and slow it down.  There is still a lot on our Summer Bucket list to do this summer, but we need a few cooler days to get them done. Not even the animals want us to visit the Zoo when it's 105 degrees.  We've got plans to take the next few weeks a little slower so maybe I'll have a chance to "catch" my blog up.  Summer is for dreaming, right!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Plenty of Amusement: Part Two

Our afternoon at the Amusement Park was spent part drying off and part thrill rides.  The boys were busy checking out the wave pool again while the girls were busy on helicopters, boats, spinning things and fast log rides.  I was busy taking photos, watching bags, and catching giggles and smiles.  I'm committed to keeping my feet on the ground at all costs.

I was happy when one of our stops was a magic glow show; I'm still trying to figure out how he did some of the tricks. Too bad we didn't find the theater during the storm, it would have been a nice place to ride it out.  Next time.

We loved our day at the Amusement Park. Everyone left exhausted, but filled with great memories. Of course to make the boys day even better, we stopped off for some BBQ at a little place in Des Moines with an award winning brisket and ribs.  I kid you not; when I told the boys we were ready to leave so that we could stop for dinner at Smokey D's, I think they both jumped a mile high.  Mr C might have even hugged me and kissed me. 

Guess the way to a teenage boys heart really is with food!  I'm not exaggerating when I say that the Brisket, the sauce and the atmosphere were out of the world. Mr A's pork tenderloin was bigger than the plate, and C's hand, and was scrumptious.  It was according to Mr. A the first time in a long time that he's asked for a doggy bag. 

As thanks to Dad for working so hard so we could go on a trip like this, we brought him home a brisket sandwich.  Two hours later (stored in my cold box in the car) he said it was still "to die for" good.  Maybe BBQ is always the way to a "boys" heart!

Top Ten Day trips; wish we had thought to put this day our Summer Bucket list, it would have been given a huge star next to it for being such a stellar event.