Monday, June 29, 2009

A Song to Celebrate Vacation

Okay, everybody all together now, to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Ready?

As I pack for vacation these thoughts go through my mind...
Twelve chores to finish
'leven kinds of snack food
Ten tons of crayons
Nine Disney movies
Eight kid sized sandals
Seven loads of laundry
Six eager people
Five states to see
Four bags of clothes
Three days left
Two boogie boards
And one jumbo pack of car sickness pills.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Laundry, Summer Style

Dude, I'm so gonna try this!

For those who may want to read Baby Blues every day, you can find it at

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sky is Falling!

We had hail tonight -- big hail!

These doozies left a few marks on our vehicles (thankfully nothing major and no broken windows), and also further shredded my poor hosta plants that were already tattered by the quarter-sized hail last night! Amazingly the garden is still fairly intact. If you click on the picture of Wade you can see more of the big white stuff on the ground outside in the gravel area.

T-ball time!

Our awesome little town t-ballers played their first game on Tuesday against Scranton. I'd like a show of hands here: how many of you would drive 30 miles to watch a bunch of 5 to 7-year-olds play t-ball? I could now introduce you to over a dozen.

I must admit all of us parents were pretty impressed by the Scranton team. They wore cleats. Our players mostly wore light-up shoes. We sported a lot of Buzz Lightyear, Thomas the Tank Engine and Transformers footwear.

Our team has been practicing for about three weeks, and they really have improved a lot since the beginning of the month. They can now run the bases in the correct order. Our coach is a great, kid-friendly guy who has worked very hard and patiently to educate the children on the basics of t-ball. However, we've only covered the very basics.

One of the things we haven't practiced is what to do if you get out. Nobody ever gets out during our practices, so of course everybody runs all the bases, one at a time, and eventually they make it home. Things were a little different on Tuesday. The other team knew how to catch. This is a key element in being able to get people out, and get us out they did. Our players found this very confusing. They'd run to first, like they always do, and expect to wait there until the next batter hit. They didn't really understand why, when an opposing player beat them to the base with the ball, they had to go back to the dugout. Thankfully the agreed-upon t-ball rules allowed each team to go through their entire batter list each inning regardless of the number of outs.

Another much-relieving t-ball rule is that the game always ends in a tie. Doesn't matter how many runs were actually scored, the game is always a tie. However, Wade ran into the coach in town this afternoon and he confided that, although nobody kept an official score, he thought it really was a pretty close game. He also confided that the team we played was Scranton's 7 and 8-year-olds, which may explain a little bit about their impressive athletic ability.

All in all, the kids had a great time, which was enhanced even more by a picnic at a nearby park afterward. And they are eager to play Scranton's "big kids" again on Friday here at home. Wish us luck!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Country Music Inspiration

"The Truck Got Stuck" is our kids' favorite song of the day and has inspired Isaac.

"When I grow up, I want to have a friend and a truck and a muddy field."

What aspirations!

p.s. -- Dad or Kenner, if you have any muddy fields about in a few weeks you could make these guys' week by taking them out and getting stuck in it!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thoughts for Father's Day

This week I had the pleasure of having face-to-face adult conversations with four women around my age who also have at least three children. It has been great. Although we've been in North Dakota for over a year and a half now, there aren't many people here who I call friends, other than our church family who we generally only see on Sundays. So meeting new people and getting to know some others better is a big deal for me.

But beyond the blessing of developing friendships, spending time with these ladies has also helped me realize how amazingly blessed I already am. You see, three of these women are single mothers. Two are divorced (their ex-husbands are either off the radar or a thousand miles away) and the other is a widow (she's my age with three daughters under the age of six).

Now don't get me wrong, I thank God daily for Wade and I tell him I love him several times each day. I realize I am blessed to have the best job in the world -- staying home to raise our kids. I know that it is God's provision and Wade's willingness to work hard that allow me this privilege, and I am so thankful. But seeing the challenges these women come up against every day makes me realize how much I still take my husband for granted.

It's the little things that I fail to appreciate, because they're really no big deal... until you have to do them alone.

For example, the widowed lady commented that one of her daughters recently graduated to a "big girl" bed. And I thought how strange I would feel making that decision alone. When our kids changed beds, I asked Wade, "do you think it's time? Do you think he's ready yet?" And together we decided, yes it's time. Together we put away the cribs and assembled the bunk beds. And together we sat, with fingers crossed, hoping that our boys would sleep soundly through the night in their new beds. It's not a big deal, but in my mind it's a two-person deal.

When Wade first began his job in North Dakota and moved out here a few weeks ahead of the boys and me, I got a little taste of what single parenting is like. I realized how much I depend on Wade to be there to help tuck the kids in at bedtime, how much I count on him to take care of the "manly" parts of home and auto maintenance, how much I need him to listen to my ramblings and offer advice and encouragement. The song "Lean on Me" comes to mind, particularly the line, "we all need someone to lean on." Wade is definitely my "leaning post," and without him I very well may just tip right on over!

Spending time with these single women also made me realize what a blessing it is to have a dad in my life. What if my parents hadn't lived together, loved each other and worked together to raise me and my siblings? What would my life and my brother and sister's lives be like if Dad hadn't been there? There would have been no tickle monster, no fishing, no after-dinner games of hide-and-seek and kick-the-can, no fort in our backyard. Once again, it's little things that suddenly seem very important when I think about the possibility of them not being there.

I've too often taken for granted that every year I and my children have a reason to celebrate -- really rejoice and be glad! -- that it's Father's Day. So Wade and Dad, I want you to know how very much I love, appreciate and cherish you and all the little things you do that I don't think to say thank-you for. Thank-you for always being there and for being the wonderful dads that you are!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A New Toy

After doing some work for a gentleman in town, Wade spied a peddle boat in his yard and inquired whether he used it often. Turns out he'd only taken it out a couple times and didn't really want it around anymore. "Would you take $100 for it?" Wade asked. "Make it $125," he replied. And that is the somewhat abridged story of how we recently became the owners of a gently used peddle boat!

While it technically has seats for only five, four of ours have very little behinds and we were able to fairly comfortably navigate Mirror Lake. Of course there was a lot of shifting of seats -- "can I peddle now?" "It's my turn to steer!" -- but thankfully no one went overboard.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Sound the jubilee trumpets, the floor is mopped!

This may not sound like a reason to celebrate to you, but in this house it truly is. I somewhat embarrassedly admit that it's been six months since I last mopped (I know this because the last time I did it was just before a Christmas open house we had in mid-December). It was getting bad enough that the five-second rule no longer applied. "That fell on the floor? Yeah, don't eat it."

Now, I'm not trying to sound cocky here, but I consider myself a fairly adept, industrious and capable woman (okay, so I consider myself more of a girl than a woman, but that's another topic). I cook, sew, homeschool my kids, garden, take all our own family portraits, scrapbook and even blog -- and enjoy most of it! But cleaning is one area that I have no passion for. Oh, I'm alright at keeping up with the clutter, and I sweep regularly (though not quite as often as I should) and I'm really good about doing laundry, but the deep-down cleaning -- the mopping, scrubbing bathrooms, washing windows, vacuuming -- I really slack off on those.

Perhaps it's the futility of trying to maintain cleanliness in a house full of boys that deters me. Inevitably within 24 hours of mopping the floor, someone will spill a large cup of grape juice or chocolate milk on the floor, sending spatters everywhere, some of which I'll definitely miss in the clean-up, and there they'll sit, never really drying completely, just absorbing more and more dust and debris with their tacky stickiness... forever, or until the next time I mop, which may be even longer.

And windows! There's no point! We have a sliding glass door leading from the dining room to the deck, which is our primary mode of exiting and entering the house. I have concluded that it is physically impossible for boys under the age of 8 (and possibly quite a bit older) to open this type of door using only the handle. Nooooo, it's a full hands-on kind of job, and all-too-often those little hands are covered in peanut butter or freshly applied marker or whatever that mysterious greasy stuff is that is ALWAYS on their hands, even just after washing.

Now don't get me wrong, I love those little dirty boys passionately. I wouldn't trade them and their accompanying filthiness for anything, especially not a boringly spic-and-span house, but I do look forward to the day when perhaps they will be able to scrub their own bathroom and open glass doors by grasping the handle. In the meantime though, I will continue to procrastinate those nasty chores that won't stay done for more than five minutes, and on the rare occasion that I do mop the floor I will sound the jubilee trumpets for all to hear... and wait for the cup of juice to hit the floor.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Camping at Medicine Rocks

After 10 months (the last several spent in withdrawal), we finally went camping again! We spent the past weekend at Medicine Rocks State Park about half an hour south of Baker, Montana. The amazing sandstone sculptures, carved by years of wind and rain and one massive earth-covering flood, are a paradise for eager explorers. The Lakota Indian Charging Bear said it's a place where "the spirits stayed and the medicine men played," ~ thus its name. This is one of those places where a line from the song "The Trees of the Field" comes to mind ~ "the mountains and the hills will break forth before you; there'll be shouts of joy and all the trees of the fields will clap, will clap their hands." Indeed, many of the rocks actually look like they are lifted up in praise.

As a campground, this place rocks (haha - pun intended!), even though it is the kind of setting that gives mothers of boys (and wives of daredevils) high blood pressure. There are so many stunningly beautiful cliffs... that suddenly look like agents of death when you see your young (and adult) family members standing on top of them, precariously close to the edges! There were two caves in particular that we enjoyed, both of which were large enough for all of us to sit inside and savor the cool air. Another highlight was playing hide-and-seek and sardines around a rock "castle" adjacent to our camp site.

A couple years ago I devised a campground rating system, which I'm resurrecting now.

• Bathrooms - maximum of 10 points possible
• Camp Sites (condition of table, fire pits, tent area, privacy) - max of 10 points possible
• Interest (trails, swimming, park, stuff to do) - max of 10 points possible
• Cost - max of 10 points possible
• Overall enjoyability - max of 10 points possible

Here is the score card I'd give Medicine Rocks:
45 points of out a possible 50
• Bathrooms - 8 points (nice outhouses, minimal stink, but spaced so far apart that when someone had to go, we had to call for a bathroom run for everyone cuz we didn't want to have to walk it again in half an hour!)
• Camp Sites - 8 points (nice sites, well spaced, plenty of room even for our 8-man tent; the only issue here was that there was only one water pump to service the whole camp ground, so we had to drive about a mile to the camp enterance to fill up our water buckets)
• Interest - 10 points (a BIG ten points -- this place is awesome!)
• Cost - 10 points (it's free; donations welcome)
• Overall enjoyablility - 9 points (the only thing that could make this spot better would be water. It got pretty hot on Saturday and it would have been nice to have a stream or lake to cool off in, but we did specifically choose to go here, a waterless place, early in the year because it's a lot cooler now that it will be in another monnth or two!)

And now, what you're really looking for here anyway... the pictures.

The boys picked this beautiful bouquet of wildflowers for me. I thought they made a stunning centerpiece for our picnic table.