Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday Night, Family Night

Tree climbing (Ehren)

And some more

Waiting for some good coals in the bonfire {Don't you just love the pink roasting stick?}


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Silver Bullet

Here she is! My new-to-me Grand Caravan.

For about a year, Dan's been dreaming of a built-in DVD player, and I've been dreaming of swivel-n-go seating, where the two captain's chairs in the middle row swivel around to face the the third row bench, and a table pops up out of the floor in the middle -- kind of like driving a little RV, but with a lot better gas mileage.

But guess what? We got a lovely stripped-down model instead for two reasons.  First, since the boys are reading now, I'd like to encourage reading, not movie-watching on road trips.  Second, let's face it, the price tag was very appealing.  But hey, the back seat flips down for tailgate seating {the kids think this is so cool}, and the middle bench has two integrated child safety seats, which will be so convenient when the younger cousins visit.

Stay tuned for more about the used car lot that my driveway has become ...  Anybody looking for a car or van with 150,000 miles?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Omaha Easter Extravaganza: Day 3

We visited the cousins' church for Easter service, and then headed to Great Aunt's house for a traditional Easter egg hunt.

After a lovely dinner and a lot of chocolate, we got in the van and headed for home.  Thanks Aunt, Uncle and cousins for your hospitality.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Omaha Easter Extravaganza: Day 2

Saturday was zoo and shopping day.  Shopping for me,

and the zoo for everyone else.

It seems that some of the zoo animals...

might have been better posers than some of the kids.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Omaha Easter Extravaganza: Day 1

We packed up and rolled out of the house a little after 10:00 am, bound for Omaha in our new set of wheels {That' right. It's Caravan number three for a girl who said she'd never own a minivan.}. Auntie T rode with us in the "nanny seat" between the kids and me, or more accurately, between the kids and all the books/movies/snacks I had in the front seat. She was a good sport about her role as the human conveyor belt.

After five hours of trying to spot an Iowa barn quilt from the Interstate, but seeing only wind farms, we arrived in Omaha. We checked into our hotel and hurried over to Dan's cousin's house to get in position for a surprise party -- we were celebrating Dan's aunt and uncle's 40th wedding anniversary as well as their 60th birthdays, all happening this year.  Here's a fabulous picture of the birthday girl (center) and her siblings.

While the adults ate a lot of amazing food {did I mention there are professional cooks in the family?}, our kids had a great time getting to know their cousins... 

and their cousins' toys.

In total, there were eight kids age eight and under,

and a great time was had by all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A New First

The medical doctor on the team that diagnosed Ehren's PDD-NOS told us, "He's lucky to have a sister. She'll be there organizing make-believe tea parties and teaching him manners and correcting his behaviors...". Maybe it was because it was the only time I heard the word "lucky" that day, but for some reason, I always liked this thought, and it has stuck with me.

In real life, I have been worried that Anna has been mimicking some of the boys' bad behaviors because she adores her older brothers. But this week it happened: Not the tea party, but the redirection. The kids went up to listen to the children's sermon at church. During the prayer, Ehren was turning around trying to talk to a girl sitting by him. Anna (who is four) was grabbing his shoulders, turning him around, and generally trying to get Ehren (who is seven) to behave appropriately. It's the first time I've seen her correcting either brother publicly. Afterwards, she of course reported to me that, "Ehren was not being good up there" {you know, in case I hadn't noticed}.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

So Thankful For This School

... where the first grade class is unusually small, and the kids are unusually nice (and the teacher is patient, dedicated, gifted, and needs to be nominated for an award).

 ... where the preschool class is unusually large, and the kids are unusually engaging.

... where the teachers' work is a calling, not a job.

... where God is lighting the way {Psalm 119:105} for my kids to discover their gifts.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It Survived!

Remember how I was worried that the garlic in my garden might not make it?  It was looking pretty brown a couple of weeks ago.  Look at it now.  What a comeback!  It's a plant built to survive.

And here are the spring onions.  It won't be long until we can eat these.

The kids have been growing some Early Girl Tomatoes, bell peppers and Zinnias in very small pots in our kitchen window.  Anna and I transplanted the seedlings into individual pots.  We also planted some seeds we saved from last year's garden (dill, cilantro, basil, and Corno Di Toro peppers).  We ran out of potting soil, so we'll have to finish planting our other seeds later.  It was definitely a day to get excited about gardening!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How Many Tennis Balls?

Today's beautiful fifty-nine degree weather spurred on an impromptu pond cleanup in our backyard.  Just how many tennis balls do you think I found when I strapped on a pair of waders and stepped in?  I lost count, but there were at least fifteen (plus baseballs, Wiffle balls, toy basketballs, and others I couldn't identify).  The previous owners of our house had several dogs and they must not have been retrievers.

And there was plastic.  Plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic juice pouches, plastic jugs, plastic caps, and a plastic hockey stick just to start the list.  There were chunks and chunks of slimy green Styrofoam (did several Styrofoam coolers explode out there at one point?). 

There's a girl behind this plastic curtain.

Um, teenage date night in the cattails? A bottle of Proactive and a bottle of rum were found together.

Two hefty bags of trash later, we headed back to the house for a different kind of cleanup...

Much needed baths!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Forecast

Ehren on the possibility of snow showers tomorrow:  "I'm sure the weatherman's wrong.  Because it's totally warm this time.  Maybe it will be raining."  I like his confident optimism.

I checked the forecast again tonight, and it looks like he might be right {I hope so}.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Do you hear what I hear?

Spring is the best!  I love seeing the sun longer and longer each day.  I love hearing the birds singing in my backyard.  And I love the spring ephemerals {that will soon be} emerging in the woods.

When it comes to the outdoors, I'm more of a flower person than a bird person, but the birds are all I've got right now.  If you are an avid bird enthusiast, here's a tip.  Check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site.  It has pictures, video, audio and identification information for each species of bird.  My husband once worked on their data storage network, which boasts the largest collection of natural sounds in the world.  If you want to hear what I've been hearing in my backyard this week, click on any of these links:  American Robin; Northern Cardinal; Mourning Dove; Red-winged Blackbird.