Saturday, October 31, 2009

boo . . . I mean moo (a repeat)

A repeat of a blog post from a year ago. It's one of my favorites! If you read it last year, you can either skip it all together or look again, it's a fun one if you ask me. AND, I rearranged the pictures so they aren't in the same order. You can make a guess as to who's who if you want, otherwise just enjoy! No fair cheating and if you won last year, you can't win again . . . or maybe you can. Sometimes I'm generous!

Happy Halloween. I'm not a huge fan of the "holiday" in general, but what little kid doesn't like to dress up? Plus there is candy involved, so it's all the more fun! Enjoy your day, whatever you're doing::

it all started in the summer of 1999 when we got a bag of hand-me-downs with a cow suit in it . . . since the beginning of time (ok, not quite that long ago, but a long time nonetheless) our kids have been a cow on their first halloween. we're not big halloween enthusiasts, but who can resist a cute little calf? . . . i daresay, not too many.

so, here are 5 cows. can you identify them correctly? there are pictures of 5 little calves in radom order (or are they? maybe they're in chronological order, i've been known to be kinda tricky on occasion. maybe some psychological knowledge of how i think could come in handy for this one!). our family calves: model year '99, model year '01, model year '02, model year '05 and most recently model year '08. each model year had some slight changes from the previous model, but most features remain quite similar.

if you can correctly identify all 5 calves (by model year or name!) you will win a prize. i don't know what it will be yet, but more than likely it will be something i made. more than 1 person can win . . . but hopefully not too many!! (i just don't have time to make millions of prizes). leave your guesses in the comments and no fair cheating by looking at other people answers . . . you're on your honor here, don't let me down!! (i'm pretty sure i figured out how to hide the comments until the contest is over, so i took away the temptation to cheat all together!!) i'll announce the winners (if there are any!!) in a few days. hopefully the waiting won't be too painful for anyone!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I'm so thankful for my new "little" job this year. It is such a blessing in so many ways . . . not the least of which is the financial help that it brings our family. It couldn't be a better fit for our family right now and I'm so thankful!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

9 Things

9 things that I love right now: {in case you didn't know, I've always loved multiples of 3 . . . thus 9 things, rather than 10 or whatever "rounder" number might seem more logical}
  1. this song {especially if my fabulously talented husband is singing it!}
  2. beautiful fall weather {like we have today! Pull out a sweater and take a stroll through the leaves}
  3. my family
  4. my new Sara Groves album
  5. reading a good book: I'm almost always reading something. Right now it's this as a little break from the Twilight series which I'm halfway through.
  6. almond lattes
  7. the Bible study that I'm doing this fall: great stuff! {I'm a big fan of Beth Moore's wonderful way of teaching}
  8. the fact that I have such wonderful, wonderful friends!
  9. playing Monopoly at McDonalds {now, if only I'd win something!}

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flasback Friday

just look at that face::
those lips, those cheeks, those eyes

october 2005

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday

With all the yuck that's going around, not to mention the fact that we have 3 kids in elementary school and 1 in preschool {which is equal to germ-sharing with about 150 people}, I am so thankful that we have been healthy thus far this fall. Chances are good that we won't avoid it for the whole winter -- since there are 7 of us and all -- but I'm glad that we've made it nearly through October without getting anything major. I'll just pray that it stays that way . . . and keep praying for all those we know who haven't been able to avoid it and are feeling pretty rough.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

fall break

The kids had a couple days off from school for Fall Break and so we piled in the van and headed up north to the in-laws.
  • about 375 miles.
  • 7 people.
  • 1 stop.
  • 2.5 movies. {Cars -- the 2nd half, High School Musical 3, Princess Bride}
  • 6.5 hours in the van.
  • 60 hours in Warroad.
  • 10 hours in the van.
  • 1 movie. {Toy Story 2}
  • 5 stops.
  • still 7 people. {amazingly, we all survived the ride!}
  • over 400 miles {a couple slightly off-course stops made for a different route on the way home}.
"There's no place like home!"

Here's a quick picture re-cap of our trip::

Silly Joe::
October birthday "kids": Kirbs, Annie {Kirby's older sister}, David {Kirb's younger sister's husband} & Steph {Kirb's older brother's wife} -- {all their birthdays are in 1 week and Kirb's & Steph's are even on the same day!}::
Cousins. All 13 of them: {top to bottom: Evan, Joe, Katie, Rebekah, Andrea, Jacob, Tommy, Jillian, Lydia, Anna, Katrina, Caleb & Bethany}::
The "Stoll kids": Kirb, Annie, Kristy & Tracey::
what a silly bunch::

We stopped at Trout to see my dad on the way home. He's been working there most of the summer and will be there another 2 weeks or so before coming home again for a while. He has laid every single cement block in this really big building. Every. Single. Block. That's a lot of work! He's doing stonework now. He was working on this chimney when we pulled up, then he'll work on the 4 or so fireplaces inside next, and I think a little stone on the front of the building too after that. This building is going to be the dining hall for Trout's new Timber Ridge camp. It's on the highest point in Crow Wing county and has a spectacular view {especially from the top of the chimney . . . or so says my dad. I haven't been up there myself. I try to stay closer to the ground.}
We got a tour of the building from it's main builder guy himself. It was a little muddy, but we made it without getting too dirty. The skinny, dusty guy in the denim is my dad, in case you were wondering.
It was a fun weekend! We ended it with a "hayride" at the Apple Orchard on Sunday night . . . there wasn't actually any hay, so I guess it was just a wagon ride. We got pulled in a cool tractor by a great guy named Chad who gave us a tour of the orchard and taught us lots of stuff about apples that I never knew before. It was a beautiful day and the orchard was PACKED, but we had reservations for a group tour {a group from church} and followed the wagon ride up with a bonfire complete with hot dogs and s'mores, all after the orchard was closed to the public so the crowds were gone. It was a fun night and the kids loved it. We got to pick and eat an apple and go out to the pumpkin patch too. The ride around the orchard was beautiful with some wonderful views of terrific fall colors. The highest point in Washington county is on the orchard's land and the view was spectacular from that point -- overlooking a small lake and beautiful fall-changing trees for as far as the eye could see. Chad said that in the winter you can even see the Minneapolis skyline from there. So, yup, we were at the highest point in 2 different counties 2 days in a row. How cool is that?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

verse 20

20 of 24 already. Yikes! I got the new Sara Groves album {in case you didn't already know, I am one of Sara's biggest fans. I LOVE her. Really love her! She's completely adorable, she named her firstborn Kirby, writes amazing music, sings beautifully, has lyrics that resonate with me like nothing else I've ever heard. I could go on, but this is about my verse -- really, it is -- and not about how wonderful Sara Groves is}. Anyway, one of my favorite songs on the new album, "Fireflies and Songs", is "Setting up the Pins" {let's be honest, I love them all, but this one has gotten me thinkin'}. This song makes me think of Ecclesiastes and so I was looking there and this verse stuck out to me. {I mean, who wants to memorize scripture about the meaningless, repetitiveness of life, right? But it's not ALL like that, you just gotta keep reading.} Anyway, Ecclesiastes 5.2 stuck out to me as a verse that would be a good one to have in my mind to refer to from time to time when I need it. So, verse #20: Ecclesiastes 5.2::
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. {Ecclesiastes 5.2 NIV}
I would venture to guess that I might not be the only one who could benefit from just reading that one over a couple times and thinking about it for a while. Maybe even try to memorize yourself, if you want to.

If you don't know about my "resolution" to memorize 24 scriptures in 2009 and you want to know what in the world I'm talkin' about, you can check it out here.

If you want to listen to a little clip of "Setting up the Pins", you can do it here but I'll warn you that the 27-second clip that they give you does not do justice to the song at all and doesn't give you much of a feel for the theme of the lyrics and how the resonate with Ecclesiastes. Anyway, you can listen to clips of all the songs if you want. Just be warned that you might become a Sara Groves fan too and need to buy all her albums . . . just don't say I didn't warn you!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flashback Friday

I was looking through some old pictures the other day and think this one has got to be one of my favorites! I must have been about 4. That ball pit looks like a blast. Deep and pretty big. How much better could it get? You know, since it was 1978 and all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thankful Thursday

{Psalm 108.1-5}

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and let your glory be over all the earth.

{all images courtesy of the nice people at Dell . . . they were on my computer when I got it: samples or something. aren't they great?}

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Great Quote

I read this quote for the first time the other day and really, really liked it. I thought you might like it too {I know it's a little reminiscent of the theme for my Thankful Thursday post the other day, but you just can't get enough of this kind of stuff}:

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return. {Mary Jean Iron}
Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for reminders! Reminders to live. To relax and take it all in. Reminders that life is good and often I'm too busy to notice. I get those reminders from my friends, my kids, things I read, stories and many other places. Today I'm thankful for the reminder that this particular story brought to me. It's long, but I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it . . . it really is a good one. I first read it as a forwarded email from a friend and stumbled upon it again recently.

On Being Mom

by Anna Quindlen,
Newsweek Columnist and Author

If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the black button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief.

I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this evershifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing.

Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane?

Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, 'Remember- When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame.' The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1.

And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were....

. . . so thankful for these precious kiddos!
I know that soon enough they will "leave the nest" and I'll be sad.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, my love!

Happy Birthday Kirbs! I love you so much and so do all the kiddos. Have a wonderful, wonderful birthday today and one of these days we'll get away alone together for some overdue celebrating time {you know: anniversary, birthday . . . sorry we're a little behind!}. I'm so thankful that 37 years ago today things turned out ok, even with the rough start and potential scares, and that you entered the world; so VERY thankful! Happy 37th Birthday Babe, I love you!

Oh, How the Years Go By
{Amy Grant}

Oh how the years go by
And oh how the love brings tears to my eyes
All through the changes the soul never dies
We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by

There were times we stumbled
They thought they had us down
But we came around
How we rolled and rambled
We got lost and we got found
Now were back on solid ground

Oh how the years go by
And oh how the love brings tears to my eyes
All through the changes the soul never dies
We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by

And if we lose our way
Any night or day
Well we'll always be
Where we should be
I'm there for you
And I know you're there for me

Oh how the years go by
And oh how the love brings tears to my eyes
All through the changes the soul never dies
We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sunday afternoon family fun!

My aunt & uncle were in town, from Cape Cod, over the weekend and on Sunday afternoon we took a beautiful boat ride around Lake Minnetonka. It was a little rainy and chilly, but we all had a wonderful time anyway::

Waiting for the boat::
Here it comes::
Ama & Anna::
Looking up the stairs at Jacob & BopBop on the upper deck::
There she goes::

Each of the kids {well, not Anna} got a chance to have a turn actually driving the boat. Cool big ship wheel and all! {Joe was sure we were on a pirate ship} The captain was such a great guy: friendly and patient as can be. He probably answered 65 questions from Jacob alone!
Captain Joe::
Rebekah takes the wheel::
Lydia's turn::
What kept us movin' along::
Handsome boy::
Catching a little homework time. Very little, I might add. Who would want to waste their fun boat ride doing their homework?::

Anna & Denise watching for passing boats::
Back ashore. Ringpops for everyone. Thanks, Pete::
The whole big bunch of us::
On our walk around downtown Excelsior we saw some really cool little shops and I noticed this sign and LOVED it so I took a picture {plus, Grace is Anna's middle name}. Within about 2 minutes of noticing this one we saw signs with {pretty much} all of our kids middle names on them, except for Joe {no "Carl" stores in Excelsior, I guess!}. This place was called Grace. There was a "Joy" shop too {Lydia's middle name}. We walked by a Masonic Center {I counted that one, since Jacob's middle name is Mason}. And . . .
Check this out::

First and middle for Rebekah. The sign above was commemorating something {honestly, my dad noticed it and I didn't even read the whole thing} and was on the side of the building that housed "Cynthia Rae" {Rae being Rebekah's middle name}. How cool is that? Is it just me or do you find all that really cool too? Grace, Joe, Mason{ic} and Rae all on the same block! Too fun!

It was a wonderful day spent with some wonderful people. What a great weekend!