Thursday, July 31, 2008

INSIDE the Biltmore!

When a person goes through the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, that person is NOT allowed to take pictures inside the house. The Biltmore Estate photographer will take each person's picture and allow for online viewing free of charge; but of course to purchase this picture, a minimum of $10.99 is charged. But, if the person who has their picture taken inside the Biltmore knows a computer geek with elite hacking skills...well, then...that person can put the picture on his or her blog for free!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GEMS Leadership Conference 2008

I just returned Tuesday afternoon from a wonderful and tiring weekend! I left last week Thursday for the annual GEMS Leadership Conference which was held at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, North Carolina. It was a great conference and I am very excited to get this GEMS year started! If you'd like to see pictures and read more about the trip and the conference, please use this link to view the web album:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


We've been having really nice weather lately, sunny and warm, but not anywhere close to hot. My hydrangeas are beginning to look gorgeous, so I couldn't resist taking a couple pictures. I had a little problem that the sun was coming in from the side, so maybe I'll try again today since it's a bit overcast. Anyway, I love my hydrangeas; they're one of my favorite perennials. Supposedly you can change the color by adjusting the acidity of the soil, but I can never remember which way makes them blue and which way makes them pink. Whatever I did this year, though, (which was ignore them until they had buds and then feed them with Miracle Gro) apparently worked because they are very close to my favorite hydrangea color, which is purple. Love them!

Sarah spent much of her outside time yesterday watching the horses in the pasture beyond the field behind our house. We even got out the binoculars so she could see them better. Too bad the zoom on my camera isn't as good as the binoculars, though. Someday maybe I'll be brave enough to let her go to a horse camp or something.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summertime Swimming Lessons

Last week we started swimming lessons at the aquatic center in Bellingham. All 4 girls are in class at the same time, and either Ed or I go in with Elise to a parent/child class. The only reason she's in a class too is because it'd be impossible to keep her out of the water for a half hour while her sisters had lessons. She's too old for the class she's in, really, even though technically it's for kids up to 3 years old. She's fearless, though, so it's good for her to be learning to kick and blow bubbles and all that stuff. Here are some pictures:

Elise is already testing the water as Ed & Becca wait for her teacher to call her name.

Sarah practices a special leg kick with the kick board. She does A LOT Of lap swimming in her class.

Bethany is doing a front float. She has also been learning to tread water for long periods of time.

Becca's working on her back float.

This is a two-for-one photo: Becca doing another back float and Elise & her daddy during circle time!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Raspberry Jamboree

We've had lots of yummy Washington raspberries at our house in the last couple of weeks. The girls have picked A LOT with my mom and I have made 7 batches of yummy raspberry jam! The girls helped with the first batch, but then it wasn't as much fun after that, so I was left on my own to finish up. We've had great raspberries this year - so delicious and the price is up, so the farmers are happy. :) Did you know that Whatcom County is the top producer of raspberries in the WORLD? It's true!

Mashing the berries was definitely the most fun task on jam day!

Becca thought stirring in the sugar was a close second, however.

Even Elise had to get in on the action with the apron and herown chair and everything.

Sarah is now old enough to cook and stir the pectin on the stove top!

Elise loved her turn mashing the berries as well.

These are my two "artsy" pictures of raspberry jam. Doesn't it look so yummy? I'm having fun with the settings on my new camera. I was pretty happy with the true red color of the jam. You could almost blow these photos up and hang them as art in your laundry room or something, don't you think? Or, maybe you have to love raspberry jam a whole lot more than the average person to do that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A day at the park

Last week my friends from church and all their kids, and the girls & I went to Lynden City Park for a playdate. It was gorgeous weather and a few of us ended up staying for lunch and then letting the kids play in the creek there together.

The boy in the foreground is Sam, Becca's good friend. Elise is very excited to wade in the creek - she is fishing!

This is totally Sarah's love - exploring outdoors!

Becca & Sam like wandering off together...We all wonder if they'll be together forever... ? :)
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A myraid of things...

This has been quite an interesting day! We found out that the warranty on the laptop was still good because we paid for it with our American Express! So, a claim has been filed and we might be able to get it fixed for free! Hooray! That was pretty exciting. Lately, the dryer has been acting up...sometimes taking 3 cycles before things are dry. We checked the vent and that was fine. Somebody told me that it might be the heating element. Didn't check that yet. Then yesterday a load worked fine. The dryer was definitely making me nervous with its inconsistency. It's over 8 years old, and they just don't make things like they used to, you know? We had talked about buying this gas dryer that someone at Logos was selling, but it had already sold. So, we weren't sure what to do. We went into Lynden today (more about that later) and decided to stop at two garage sales. The first one was a fund raiser for a Uganda orphanage and we found some antique Bible commentaries from the 1800's - a whole set about the Pentateuch for $7! Cool. Anyway, the second garage sale we went to because it was in a nice neighborhood and it was supposed to be a "neighborhood sale". We went to the ONE garage sale we saw and only stopped because they had nice baby stuff and generally, people with nice baby stuff have nice other just can't see that from the street. Anyhoo...sitting there next to the nice baby stuff was a nice six-month-old Whirlpool gas dryer! They were selling it only because they had gotten a front loading washing machine and had bought the dryer to match, so they had this practically brand new dryer sitting there. He had $200 on it and told me to make him an offer and that he would deliver it. I said, "Well, I live way out in Everson." He & his wife, in stereo, say "We live in Nooksack!" (Which, for those of you who don't know, is basically connected to Everson. The garage sale was at his mother-in-law's house.) So, I call Ed from the van and we offer the guy $150, which he takes of course, and he delivers it to our house and even helps Ed haul it into the laundry room! Cool. Except, does anyone know how to install a gas dryer?

We were in Lynden for a few reasons...1: to fill our bbq propane tank. We didn't know where, but we needed it filled because we have 43 people coming for a bbq tomorrow. Yikes. Drove up to Cenex, saw a propane tank outside, got it filled, paid $12. Cool. Reason #2: to look for an umbrella stand. We've been wanting an umbrella for our patio so we can eat out there in the shade (because you know Ed hates the sun). We ended up settling for one at Walmart that was on clearance (hideous color) because it was large and tilts, which is important. Only problem was that it didn't have an umbrella stand with it. So today we went to look in Lynden, with our backup being to borrow the stand from Mom & Dad's patio table umbrella. We went to True Value, there was a REALLY heavy stand (also important in the windy city of Whatcom County) that was ON SALE! Boy, were we on a roll today!

So, long story short...all good things! Except then Becca jumped on the couch and ripped the fabric...and Elise bumped her head about a hundred times today...and it's almost 10:00 and we're still watering the lawn (I'm watering a lot these days because I killed a bunch of it when my fertilizer spreader malfunctioned and dumped weed killer on too fast in a few spots).

Have a blessed Sunday! We ourselves are looking forward to church and lots of fellowship!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The new camera

The new camera arrived a few days ago and we've been having fun messing around with the modes and setting. It's really the same camera as the one we lost, just their newer model. We loved our old camera! But this new one is a Canon Power Shot SD870 with Image Stabilitzation, wide angle lens, and 8 mega pixels. What do you think?

This picture was taken on the "kids & pets" setting, which is supposed to be really fast to capture moving objects. I love how the snapshot caught the water coming off Elise's feet!

Here's another one on the "kids & pets" setting. See how that basketball has only the slightest blur going up to the hoop? Sarah is improving a lot at basketball. She recently beat both her dad and her Grandpa DJ at "HORSE" - and she did it quite quickly and easily! I, her mother, beat her in a game of "PIG", but it took a long time and was not easy!

This picture was taken using macro mode on the foliage setting. I think I'm pretty impressed. I took some pictures of the pink shrub roses on the north side of the house as well that I will post eventually. I want to get a good picture of the red shrub roses to go with it, but I've always had trouble getting red to photograph as a true red. Anyone else have that trouble or know how I can fix the problem?
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July!

How was your 4th of July? Ours was pretty fun...we had thought we would go pick berries, but since it had rained very hard for the entire day on the 3rd of July, we passed on taking the clan out to the mud. Instead I went to the stand in town and bought some fresh market berries. They were still decent, though not as good as the first u-pick trip. Anyway, we spent the rest of the day hanging around, cleaning, and getting ready for a barbeque. Some friends from Logos (Todd & Melissa White - Ed carpools with Todd) came over and we did brats and hot dogs, ate yummy fruit salad with fresh raspberries from Melissa's garden, had lots of chips and salsa and fresh strawberry daiquiris (non-alcoholic so the kids could have some too), and generally enjoyed ourselves out on the patio. Then we had a great chalk art contest, drawing fireworks on the patio, before going in to play a new Wii game and then heading back out after dark to do a few fireworks. Before yesterday, I had never bought fireworks at a stand, can you believe that? Anyway, we got some pretty tame things...pop-it's, flowers, and jumping jacks...though Becca & Elise were more scared of those than of the illegal bottle rockets the neighbors were sending into the air! We finally put the kids to bed around 10:30 and our friends left a bit later. It was a good celebration of our country's birthday!

This morning we woke up late, which was nice; but soon discovered that my laptop was completely dead. Nothing. It'll sort of turn on, but that's it. So, we spent a little time messing with it and making some phone calls. Ed finally decided that on our trip to B'ham we would just buy something to recover everything off the hard drive because just to get someone to look at it to try to fix it would cost half of what a new laptop would cost...and that's before we even know if it's even fixable! So, we accomplished that task and he has already recovered everything, pictures included. Thank goodness I have a computer nerd for a husband! Anyway, for now Ed & I have to share a computer...imagine that! ;) We'll watch for deals and take our time buying a new one. I have to get used to Ed's computer and figure out where everything is that he recovered, but I think I can handle it.

Anyway, here are the fourth of July pictures!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Just life...

Not much going on here this week...Bethany's at Lynden Blue Soccer Camp every day (and it's going well!) from 4-6 and so far it's been pretty hot. Yesterday it was super muggy, more so in Lynden & Everson than Bellingham, I'm told, (all those of you who actually live in humid climates would laugh at us, I'm sure, but we're not used to humidity and heat combined around here) and then last night the storms began! We heard some thunder and saw a bit of lightning around 9:30/10:00, but the big storm rolled over us around 3:00 a.m. Of the girls, only Becca heard any of it because she had woken up with a bad dream. I can't believe it! That storm was RIGHT on top of us! Simultaneous thunder and lightning and the house was shaking. It was pretty incredible. I can't remember the last time we had that kind of a storm around here. We got out of bed and watched out the windows for a while and this morning it is pouring down rain. I guess that's it for the's supposed to rain for the next 3 days now. I sure am glad we got one more delicious bunch yesterday!

Speaking of which, my siblings would be interested to know this story about our mother...So, yesterday she took Sarah, Bethany, & Rebecca to pick some strawberries out at Boxx's Berry Farm way on the Northwest Road. They were supposed to be home around 11:30. By about noon when they hadn't returned, I was getting a little worried, but figured they had just had some cookies and raspberry water before heading back and would be home any second. When Dad finally called around 12:20, I have to admit I was a bit worried. I was hoping that it was something simple that was making them late, like Mom locking her keys in the trunk, but I knew that couldn't be it because that is what she did last year when she took the girls to pick berries. So Dad calls and says there's a little problem with the berry pickers and I'm thinking oh dear. I knew his voice didn't sound like there was some terrible tragedy, so I wasn't terribly worried, but I wasn't expecting this: "Your Mom locked the keys in the trunk and I just left there after going out there to open it for them." WHAT?!?! AGAIN?!?! Not seriously. But she did. So, her name is now on the waiting list at the Lynden rest home, so no worries. ;)