Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watercolor Wednesday

Summertime always seems a perfect time to do more art projects for us and yesterday I pulled out a nice thick pad of watercolor paper and a new paint set (don't you love the pristine look of new paints?). ;o)
The plan was to create rainbow snails, inspired by this blog--which happens to be my latest "blog crush"--oh the colors, ruffles, and craftiness I find there!
Owen really took to painting.  After finishing his snail he went on to do two very textured pieces (yay for extra thick paper that could withstand the "scrubbing").
And here's our end result.  The girls drew their own, but the boys insisted I make theirs.  We traced over the lines with Sharpie to make it "pop" more.  It was a cute, and for the most part colorful little project to have fun with (we had a few monochromatic snails as you can see).  And apparently it inspired Jackson, because he has yet to quit painting (he keeps making me draw him different bird species which he then paints the appropriate colors).

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hello Monday!

(The unofficial summer kick-off version)
Hello patriotic outfit I acquired at Wal-mart . . . shirt and shoes for right around $7 total!
(Wal-mart tanks are my go-to "mom uniform" for the summer--they're great for around the house, fabulous running attire, and only $3.88 a pop--what's not to love?) ;o)
Hello summer-fy-ing (a word, yes?) the hutch! 
I was looking for some patriotic colors to pull in and remembered these items I had tucked away:
 A hatbox (that hold all of our wedding cards) and a framed wedding invitation that were shower gifts from the very sweet Natalie Becker.  Seeing as we have a June anniversary it seemed fitting to work those into the summer decor.
Hello boys' room makeover! 
 There was a lot of painting going on last week, the dresser went navy, the walls from brick red to gray.  There was also some major organizing that happened, striving for "a place for everything and everything in its place."  So far so good, the boys are inspired and keeping it tidy (which is nothing short of miraculous!). ;o)
Hello jar of simple syrup in my fridge!
Definitely a summer-time necessity--tonight we used it for some Sweet Peach Tea.  Yummy!
Hello summer plans!
I've still got a bit of space left just in case some more inspiration strikes.  We have lots of "tour Nebraska" plans.  Living out here we're closer to a myriad of fun historical sites.  Technically fourth grade should have been Marissa's Nebraska history year, and that is kind of the plan over the summer--to do a lot of hands-on Nebraska history. 
And hello little paper pennant banner because everything is more fun with a banner! ;o)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 20-26

One more picture from our fishing expedition . . . this one's kind of special to me.
Our Cecropia Moth friend that Josh caught and Emmett managed to set free in Grandpa and Grandma's house, but was subsequently caught again (and then freed again while Emmett was sleeping . . . ).

Some happy bowls that I found at the TJ Maxx in Lincoln!  I adore that color and I needed some new mixing bowls (really, I did!!). ;o)
While we don't have the prettiest of yards here the wheat field in the back has more than made up for it!  I'm amazed at how "blonde" it has gotten just a few days after snapping this picture (hitting 100 degrees today will do that!). Harvest is just around the corner. And I think I foresee some more wheat pictures with the kids in the very near future (a full month ahead of schedule!).
I heard the air compressor running and running--upon investigation I discovered it was Owen "filling" up his trike tires.  Now technically, these tires do not go flat, but he happened to find a bolt in the vicinity of the tire that looked enough like a tire stem and was giving it his best effort.  That boy does not fail to entertain us!
Working on the summer activity list--we were able to cross off the root beer floats last night (although I'm quite certain that activity will be revisited). ;o)
The first watermelon of the season.  The seven of us managed to polish this baby off in one meal--a first for us!  And Emmett is a goofball. ;o)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Book Recommendation

I recently read a book that was good in a quiet and thoughtful sort of way, and just wanted to share a few quotes that really resonated with me.  The book is this:
It is based on the author's grandparents' experiences as missionaries in China.  My only complaint would be I wish I knew what was real and what was added for the story--because it is a good story.  If it had all been true it would have made for an even better story.
But the quotes that really gave me pause were these:

"We often wait for God with hope.  But sometimes we must wait for hope.  We may feel nothing, but we do not rely on our feelings.  When we don't feel hope, we wait for it, and it always comes."

While feelings can be so real and insurmountable at times they are not always an accurate gauge of where I'm at.  Sometimes the best thing to do is wait.  I've been talking about this a lot with Marissa lately as we've begun to deal with the woes of adolescence.  I keep telling her "don't let feelings drive the car" meaning don't let your feelings be what guide your actions, they can't be in charge.

And this one:

"Lastly I pray that throughout the day God's will, not mine, be done, whatever that may mean.  When I was younger, I thought it meant traveling a road that was straight and confining and predictable, something to be done correctly, like finding my way though a maze where only one path is right.  I thought following that path would always feel true and safe and virtuous and that it would give me a surefooted, foolproof sense about life.  This narrow thinking was mine, not His; I no longer believe it.  When I am in God's will, sometimes I do feel comfortable and at ease, but I just as often feel anxious and unsettled, for He often leads me into unfamiliar waters.  I do not let these feelings guide me.  Nor do I heed what the world must think of me, for I know that in its view my life would seem a failure.  Some would look at me and see a childless widower, living alone, his life's work in question.  But I think of myself as extraordinarily blessed, rich beyond measure, the unlikely recipient of the great honor of serving my Lord in a faraway land, and I am amazed at my great good fortune."

This is/was so me.  Thinking that by following all the rules and determining to do things the right way I could somehow control my destiny and my life would turn out just as I had planned, perfect and comfortable and easy.  Living out here, while I'm certain is God's will for us right now has not been comfortable, it has left me unsettled, and put me in unfamiliar places.  Truly that whole quote could be mine (aside from the childless widower and faraway land part, well, maybe Arapahoe does count for a faraway land?). ;o)

So, anyway, looking for a summer read?  You might enjoy this one. ;o)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

At the Pond

Unbeknownst to us, my parents had been putting together a little surprise.  On one of my dad's farms is a really cool pond.  It's way back from the road and private, surrounded by lots of trees.
He moved on an old camper, set up a picnic table and grill, and then purchased a paddle boat.
And voila!!!
Our own private camping and picnicking spot!
The kids were absolutely delighted!
They toured the pond and its little islands . . .
went fishing . . .
and caught a whole bunch!!!
(This picture is "classic Papa Roy"--assisting the fish in telling the kids a story, I'm certain a "fish tale" of some sort.) ;o)
Owen's first catch!
I got out on the paddle boat too.  It just so happens my dad added a small boat motor to the back (of course!) so if you feel like a leg work-out you can get one, or you can just kick back and cruise the pond at your leisure.  He thinks of everything, no? ;o)
Emmett's wiggly catch--love the cute face expression from the fishie splashing so much water in his face.
In an hour or two we had probably caught 15-20 bass!  That's my kind of fishing--pretty much every time you threw out the line you had a bite.  We threw them all back but kept a few smaller ones in a bucket.  As we were preparing to throw those back too Emmett got a hold of one of them, and took off running, the fish laying across his outstretched hands.  Josh called to him, "Emmett where are you going with him?"  And Emmett yelled back in stern voice, "I'm taking him home with me!!"
He was quite distraught when Daddy caught up to him and relieved him of his new pet.  That boy and his creatures!!!
We're looking forward to much more summer fun down there--I believe the Mahoney State Park paddle boats have seen the last of us . . . ;o)

Monday, May 21, 2012

For Josh--

It was December of 2008 that Josh had a sudden revelation when sitting inside an elementary school, dropping off Isabella for speech.  He wanted to be a teacher.
And amazingly, I didn't tell him that was crazy or that it was too late for that.
I thought, yes, that makes sense.
I thought he would be a good teacher.
In a month's time he got himself registered and began taking under-grad science classes.
He balanced full loads of classes while trying to piece together enough income from two different jobs to get us by.  He worked furiously to get himself through school in the fastest method possible. He and I were ships passing in the night, I often in bed before he got home from work, him often leaving before the sun came up to get some extra studying in.  It was not easy.
Last year he was able to get his teacher certification and a paying teaching job.
And yesterday he officially completed his masters degree in education.
I am heart-bursting proud of what he accomplished!
He loves teaching.
Sometimes there is this wistfulness, "Oh, if only he had started out on this teaching path from the get-go . . ."  If only he hadn't gotten a major in business finance and done all those sales jobs we could have avoided all the searching and heart ache.  We would be further along.
But we both know how those experiences shaped him.  If he hadn't been given those experiences and the failures, if God hadn't stripped away our income . . . The hunger for a job in education would have never been there.
The door-to-door sales he did made him someone completely at home in front of a group of people--someone who never gets nervous.  He deals well with people from all walks of life.  The overgrown kid in him and his passion for science draw in even the most uninterested students, getting them excited to learn (I know this because they write him letters telling him how much they love his class!). He is so happy in his job--finally he is just not bringing in an income, he actually has a career.  Josh started this job with a wealth of life experiences that he wouldn't have had if he had become a teacher at 22.  It reminds me how God's ways are so much better than our own.

Josh might not be done with school yet . . . he has to wait another year, but then he can start a second masters in educational leadership--in the event some day down the road he wants to become a principal.  And he also laughingly told me that he wasn't going to get a doctorate but after seeing the cool robes they got to wear at graduation, he is reconsidering . . . ;o)
His mother and I laugh . . . Josh spent his fair share IN the principal's office during his growing-up years.  Who ever would have thought he'd become this life-long scholar?
And I remember that God knew, all along.

Mostly, though, I'm just thrilled at the example he is being for our kids. They got to see him work hard at something and achieve it.  You're never to old to get a do-over.  God is so gracious.

Way to go Joshie!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 13-19

A happy Mother's Day with my sweeties!
A Daddy/daughter date night to the movie theatre.  Titanic was showing . . . and before anybody wonders what we were thinking allowing our daughters at a PG-13 movie we did discuss this at length, and determined they would be able to handle the language and then there was a perfectly timed bathroom break for another scene . . . *wink* 
The cement arrives!! Free entertainment!!
What three boys left to themselves come up with.  This was "level one." "Level two" involved my bookcase against the wall with the slide bridging over to the couch--I quickly put a stop to the progression of anymore levels.
Cute little lettuce plants announcing their arrival--I'm always in awe when seeds actually come up!
Grandpa and Grandma's pool is open for business!  And I can't stop giggling at one of its overly accessorized first customers. ;o)
Marissa and her stick-on friend.  I wonder at what point frogs and toads will cease to delight her?  For now, I cherish this girl and her fun-loving spirit.

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 6-12

Half marathon . . . highlight of the week! ;o)
A roly-poly town that kept the kids busy all afternoon--and let me tell you, they had a LOT of roly-polies!
A bunch of bubble wands and a full container of bubble solution kept the boys occupied most of this day (they actually went through the whole container of solution, but I'm pretty sure there was some spillage . . .).
A stack of library holds just for me! I was quite happy to discover the Lincoln libraries had a bunch of books that had been on my Amazon wish list for awhile (and after reading a few I'm glad I didn't actually purchase them).
My sister and I met up at my mom's house for one last visit before we headed back home.  Granny dished up some ice cream sandwiches to all the cousins.  Jackson was there but ran back to the house to eat his because he feared the sun would melt it.  No amount of coercion could force him back for a picture.
Upon arrival back in Arapahoe we were delighted to discovered our half-circle drive way had been excavated with the promise of paving looming in the very near future.  Talk about a LOT of misplaced dirt!  The kids got right to work building a castle.
Saturday was spent putting a little garden in.  It doesn't look like much but I'm hoping it will supply us with a little bit of fresh food this summer.  We also put in a row of sunflowers on the south side of the house and a few hills of pumpkins, which (in the event they grow) should overtake the backyard.  I still have the cucumbers to plant.  How serendipitous to have piles of loose dirt at my disposal just in time to create a garden! ;o)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nature Pics

After a ten day stay in Lincoln I'm officially back home and attending to my mess of pictures from the last week and a half.  Tonight you get all the ones lacking people. ;o)
This windmill and barn set-up is on the way to my parents' home.  Every time I pass this spot I tell myself I need to take a picture and this time I finally pulled over.  I'd love to get it with a full sunset behind it.
My mother-in-law's roses are especially pretty right now and I liked this picture because of its "backside" view. ;o)
Cute little butterfly (a sulphur I think?) on Salvia.
My "baby" Endless Summer hydrangeas.  I discovered you can start hydrangeas from cuttings (read here) and seeing as it is my goal to some day own a house edged in blue hydrangeas I thought I would get a head start (with hopes of transplanting in the future).  I'll let you know how this venture turns out.  I have a dozen in the event I kill a few . . .
Another lovely rose.
And a bucket of peonies awaiting arranging.  Isabella commented on how peonies would be the perfect wedding flower with their enormous ruffly blooms--I couldn't agree more!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Running Wrap-Up

I have officially survived my first half marathon!
Overall, it was a wonderful experience that really pushed me out of my comfort zones.  I ran cross country back in high school and enjoyed it and I've always had in the back of my mind that I would like to do a half marathon.  But in the midst of pregnancies, nursing, and babies it was never a time commitment I could justify.  This was the first year I really had the opportunity to go for it, and I almost decided not to.  But my good friend Kathy issued me a challenge one night back in December and within an hour I had signed up. ;o)  I realized at that point what was holding me back was I didn't want to work at something . . . and that didn't sit well with me.  For the most part I really enjoyed crossing a run off my little chart, and the challenge of the Saturday long runs.  I have a greater appreciation for my husband and the great support he is, always encouraging me, surprising me on some long runs by figuring out where I would be and meeting me with water, and escorting me by houses in the country where the dogs would chase me.  Not to mention keeping the kids intact when I was gone for those long runs!  I truly couldn't have accomplished this without him.
Me at about 5:45 a.m. on the morning of the race (which Josh claims is way to early to be this perky), flexing my awesome arm muscles for all the world to see.  (Yes, I realize there are no arm muscles, but you all just smile and nod, okay?)
I was rather nervous at the start of the race.  And I majorly would have liked to use some restroom facilities before starting but kind of got turned around as to where everything was located.  Let's just say I started a wee bit worried . . .  In spite of that the first half of the race felt awesome!  I loved the atmosphere and loved seeing people along the way that I knew.  It was truly a huge pick-me-up every time I recognized a familiar face in the crowd.
Favorite crowd sign?  "Worst Parade Ever"
I also loved all the live music--so much fun!
Somewhere in the 6-7 mile range I began to feel a bit of fatigue.  Part of this was do to the fact I was running some faster splits than I usually do--I thought I had gotten myself in a 9 minute a mile group, but in retrospect I should have found an actual pacer.
(Josh and the kids found me in three different areas along the route--it made me so happy to see my little cheering fan club!)
When we turned up the hill at mile 9 I was definitely starting to get fatigued, and it was there that the 1:55 pacer group passed me. I kept them in my sights for awhile, but at mile 10 I saw a port-a-potty door fling open and I quickly hopped in (FINALLY!!). I probably lost about a minute there, but I'm not going to regret that . . . ;o)
Those final three miles were a killer. I know my pace slowed dramatically (maybe I could have walked faster??).  I just kept praying for strength that last part, one foot in front of the other.  I was much less aware of the crowds and much more inwardly focused on "just keep running."  And I did, I ran that whole thing!  I was so very relieved to cross that finish line!
And I was utterly elated to know I had beat my ultimate goal of running it in two hours.
Just barely, but still. ;o)
Final thoughts . . .
~A half marathon is very, very, much like being in labor.  The first part you're all excited and think, "This isn't so bad!" The second part you're all, "This is starting to hurt." And then there's the third where you're like,"I can't do this anymore, make it stop!!!"  And when you cross that finish line (or deliver!) all that matters is that it's done, hallelujah! ;o)
~While in high school I was faster (not crazy fast, just faster) and in better shape, but I'm not sure I could have been successful at a half marathon.  I firmly believe that the mental toughness I needed to accomplish 13 miles was honed through the years I've spent being a mother.  I say that as an encouragement to anybody who has thought about doing something like this but hasn't gotten around to it yet--don't discount what you're doing right now as part of your training!  Some day you can add the running and you'll be all set. ;o)
~It's good to get out of your comfort zones.  I think for a long time I've kept my world kind of safe--there wasn't a whole lot I was doing that made me nervous.  It's good to get nervous every now and then . . . It's good to push yourself beyond what you think you can do.  And it really fun to chase a goal down and accomplish it!  If you keep your life safe you don't get to see what God can do!!
~And finally, yes, I'm sore.  Like every-muscle-between-my-knees-and-top-of-the-rear-sore. *ahem* I hobble up and down stairs.  When I drop something I stop and ponder if it is worth picking up.  I cringe sitting down. No, I've never, ever been this sore before.  But yes, I think it was worth it. ;o)