Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Photography Practice

I am in love with the buttercups in the field behind our house. I desperately wanted to get some pictures of Sarah in those buttercups before whoever chops that grass has a chance. Sunday night was a beautiful evening, so I took Sarah outside for a little experiment.

I was having some trouble with focusing. I was intentionally shooting into the sun for a different light effect, but the focusing was giving me trouble. These are by far my two best shots.


The effect I wanted was there, but her face is not as sharp as I want it to be.


With some help from a great photography friend and a bit of research, I discovered that I should have probably switched to manual focus, which was my instinct, but I didn’t quite dare. So, we will try again on the next beautiful evening we can…before those buttercups become cow feed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

_MG_6326 perfectportrait

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home

God bless America, My home sweet home.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Last Soccer Game

On the way to her last soccer game, Becca said, “I sure hope we don’t play the blue team. They’re really good.”

She was right.

It was a blow-out, even with the White Snow Leopards scoring 4 goals. Oh well, the girls had a great time and Becca played her little heart out!





Looks at all those sweet first & second graders! Thanks for a great season, Coach Amy & Coach Niki!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Brown Eyes!


This little boy has stolen my heart. He is such a sweet, smiley, and cuddly little guy. I absolutely adore it when we Skype and he plays peek-a-boo by ducking below the level of the web camera and popping back up again. He loves to make us all laugh! Happy 2nd Birthday, Carter! We love you and can’t wait to see you in just a couple months!

Happy birthday also to Katie-bug who is 3 today! Get ready, girl - I’m coming over with my camera!

Friday, May 27, 2011

First Grade Field Trip

My first grader went on a field trip to Hovander Park this past week. I couldn’t make it for the entire field trip, and so missed out on the infamous bus ride, but Elise & I stopped by to have lunch and play with her for a while. Thankfully, it didn’t rain AT ALL, even though the forecast called for 50% chance of rain all day!


Climbing in and out of the window at the bottom of the tower.



Always the drama queen, even on the monkey bars.



I like to call this picture, “Becca & the Blondies.” Isn’t that funny? Her 3 best friends are such towheads! Not only that, but two of those friends’ moms are also named Julie. And the other mom is named Amy. Boy, we were all born in the same decade or what?

Thanks to all the other moms and teachers and helpers who made it a great day!

League Meet

This past Tuesday was Sarah’s last track meet – the all-league meet! She qualified in both the 800m and the 1600m, and her relay qualified also. First up was the 800m. She had a great race, matched her PR at 2:45, and came in 5th!

Next she ran her favorite race, the 1600m. We knew she was about 7th in the Conference, but weren’t sure how many of those girls would be at this meet – some of the schools listed in our “conference” aren’t in our “league” – I don’t really understand it all. At the very least, we knew she wouldn’t place first, so we were just hoping for a PR, and BOY did we get it!


She was really pushed by having such great competition and she cut 15 seconds off her best time and ran a 6:12! She came in 5th once again and she was so excited by her great race. It’s so much fun to watch her enjoy herself being part of a school team. She comes over after the race to see us every time, but then she’s off immediately to go cheer on her teammates. LOVE that! Her coaches have been great and we are thankful for a good season with minimal injuries and at least a few meets with beautiful weather!

Oh, and her relay team came in 3rd at the league meet and took 2 seconds off their best time. They were pretty excited about that, too!!

Athletic.net is an interesting website where all the data from all the meets can be found. You can see all of Sarah’s personal stats here and you can see the Northwest Conference Results here. Note that some of the schools listed there we have not competed against and are bigger schools than we are. For example, she’s listed as 7th in the Conference in both the 800m and the 1600m, but two girls who are above her in the 1600m are from Burlington-Edison. We have never competed against them and they are a bigger school. But, it’s a really fun website to explore!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Long overdue project

About a year ago, I started a project – painting my old, moldy wicker front porch chairs black. I started with washing and priming. Remember this?


I posted that picture back in August, 2010. This was before I started priming…see how faded those chairs were? And the little table had been painted with the old trim color. I used a borrowed paint-sprayer to get them primed, but the sprayer kept clogging on me. The sprayer-owner paid us a visit and fixed it. I finished priming. But I still was struggling with the sprayer. I just couldn’t get it to work the way I thought it should. I am sure it was operator-error, but then I got busy and the weather didn’t cooperate and suddenly, it was winter and the chairs got stored in the garage. I returned the borrowed sprayer.

Then this past spring I found a sprayer on sale at the local hardware store – a different style – hand-held with no hoses. I decided it was worth a try. But I still never got around to pulling out those chairs and spray painting them!

Until last week Friday!

It was Accountability Group day at my house. And it wasn’t your average Accountability Group, either. (By the way, Accountability Group is the new name for what used to be “scrapbooking”. Since we often do things other than scrapbooking, such as paying bills, quilting, writing cards, and/or drinking coffee and chatting about everything, one of the gals decided that Accountability Group was a better name. I’m in agreement. It sounds much more important to the husbands, too.)

Anyway, this wasn’t your average Accountability Group. First, it was sunny and warm! Second, everyone kind of had stuff going on. One friend couldn’t make it due to field trips, but we decided to go for it anyway, since we had already postponed from the week before due to illnesses. Another friend had a birthday party in the afternoon so could only stay through lunch, and another friend is getting her house ready to sell…therefore…it was a strange and short day.

I had declared it project day at my house. I was determined to finish those wicker chairs!

Thanks for the pics, Tam!

Everyone sat outside to watch me. No one got much done, except for me, but I ended up very pleased!


Now on to the many other things on my “to-be-painted” list…I love that new non-hosed sprayer!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I {{heart}} Lilacs!

Four years ago, my lilacs were incredible. Three years ago, they were awful. So I read all about lilacs. I decided I must have given them too much nitrogen and cut off some blooms accidentally. So I started leaving my lilac completely alone. Two years ago, my lilac was AMAZING. I left it completely alone again. Last year, my lilac was TERRIBLE. Frustrated, I decided I would leave it alone again because that approach had worked in the past.

This year, my lilac is BEAUTIFUL!






I ended up asking a nursery worker about it, wondering if it’s an “every-other-year” lilac or something. Her thought was that possibly in the years it was bad, we had an early thaw and it set out buds, and then it froze hard again and the buds froze off, leaving me very few flowers. Seems plausible. At any rate, my leaving it completely alone (as in, no fertilizer and no pruning) seems to be the right course of action for lots of blooms.

I {{heart}} lilacs. The scent. The color. The fullness of the bush. The delicateness of the tiny flowers all in a spire. I am thankful for a creative God who thought up a lilac for me to enjoy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Concert Season

‘Tis the season for school concerts! Tuesday night was Bethany’s orchestra concert and Thursday night was Sarah’s band concert. On Tuesday night, I brought my camera, but forgot to video-tape anything. On Thursday night, I video-taped the song Sarah requested me to video-tape, but forgot my camera. Go figure.


Bethany plays the cello in the 5th grade orchestra and is really enjoying it! She loves her orchestra teacher (who also happens to be her private violin teacher) and she loves performing music!

Sarah plays the flute in band and she has really enjoyed that, too. Her band teacher is getting married and moving to Canada, though, so she’s bummed about that. You can watch one of their 7th/8th grade band songs by clicking here: Sarah’s Band Concert. Enjoy!

Coming up: Choir Concert this Tuesday and piano/violin recital the first week of June!

In addition, Bethany’s class made a YouTube video about dividing fractions, which can be found here: Do the Math. She wants you all to see it and make sure you watch to the end because there are bloopers!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Track and soccer and softball, Oh My!

Who would have thought that Ed & I, two completely non-athletic people, would have at least 3 sporty daughters?!?! This spring has been a scheduling nightmare, trying to get from soccer to softball to track and back again, not to mention fitting in school concerts, homework, and music practicing! We have had FUN, though!

Sarah’s almost done with track. The League meet is on Tuesday. In the last two meets, Sarah has run remarkably well. The 800m is not her favorite, yet she’s placed third at the last two meets.


The above picture is from the May 10 meet, 800m race, near the end.

The picture below is from the May 17 qualifying meet, 800m race, starting line.



Above: May 17 qualifying meet, 800m, 3rd place, 2:55.

In the last two meets, including the qualifying meet this past Tuesday, the mile has been her stand-out race. Two weeks ago she placed first with a PR of 6:29. I almost missed the race because I was picking Bethany up from softball practice, but we saw the finish, which was very exciting! Obviously, there was no chance to take pictures. I DO however, have pictures of the 1600m race this past Tuesday, May 17, which was the qualifying meet.



Leading the pack, which she did for the entire race!



First place again! PR of 6:27! So proud of that girl!

Switching to soccer: Becca is having a ton of fun being on a team of all girls (previous years was co-ed) and with a gaggle of girls that she knows from school and church.



This was her reaction when time was called and she had to stop being goalie! LOL!


But she managed to enjoy playing forward also. These pictures were from a couple weeks ago.

Last week she had an AWESOME save as goalie (no pictures because it was pouring down rain) and two goal assists! THEN, this past week, when I wasn’t at her game because I had to bring Sarah to her band concert, SHE SCORED A GOAL!!!! Way to go, Becca!

And switching on over to softball: the season is now over and despite the rainouts and confusing schedules and very bizarre rules of 5th/6th grade girls fast-pitch, I think it turned out to be a good season and a good experience for Bethany.


Last week Saturday, in the pouring down rain, she had an amazing HIT! (There are a lot of walks in this game). There were two outs, the bases were loaded, the count was full. The pitch came in, it was good, she swung hard and hit it between the third baseman and shortstop! No one could get to it in time and everyone was safe and she had an honest-to-goodness RBI!

This past Thursday was her last game and she said, “I want a picture of me stealing home.” Stealing home happens a lot in this game also. Sliding is required when you steal home. As in, if you don’t slide, you’re out. She was walked, so I headed over to attempt to take her picture, should she make it home.


Taking her base…


And STEALING HOME!! She was safe! She slid right around that tag and scored a run! (This, from my girl who wouldn’t walk on sand when she was a toddler because she didn’t like to get dirty!)

(I apologize to the neon-shirted pitcher for this photo. I don’t know who you are, but hopefully your mom doesn’t stalk my blog.)

All in all, it has been a VeRy BuSy spring, but oh-so-fun to watch the girls compete in team sports! I am one proud mama.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Cackleberry Pictures

So my friend, owner of Cackleberry Farm, needed more pictures. We had a sunny day, so I headed over. I am sure I was quite a sight, chasing roosters around the field. I got quite a few good ones, but there was one particular rooster who was apparently having a bad hair day and wouldn’t cooperate. I have to go back and take more pictures of him when he’s not feeling so vain, I guess. Anyway, if you want to see the final product, check out my web album!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Last Fire Station Field Trip

A couple weeks ago I went on my last preschool fire station field trip. I can’t believe my baby is going to Kindergarten.

I told her the other day that I didn’t want her to go to Kindergarten because I would miss her too much. You know what she said?

“Don’t worry, Mommy. I will come back. I will ALWAYS come back.”

And there you have it. She’ll be going to Kindergarten next year.

Anyway, we went to the fire station with her preschool class a couple weeks ago. It was quite possibly the funniest fire station field trip I have ever been on! One little boy was SO into everything, asking TONS of questions. I’m pretty sure he’ll be a fire fighter someday. Anyway, his exuberance made most of the rest of the class forget about all their shyness and they were just totally comfortable and into everything. It was great.


She told me, “Mom, these don’t fit.”



Washing the trucks for the fire fighters.



Her whole class!



And with her special teacher at the end of the trip with a helmet that fits!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My sweet girls

My GEMS girls, that is:


May 1 was GEMS Sunday! I hear they did great! I, the Club Coordinator, decided to skip church.


No, not really.

I woke up that Sunday morning with a crick in my neck. I know, it sounds lame, but I was in excruciating pain. And I am not a wimp about pain. I have given birth without drugs. Twice. And the only way to describe the pain in my neck is to say that it was like giving birth in my neck.

Sorry. That’s not a good image. But that was the degree of the pain.

If I tried to take a bite of cereal, I screamed in pain. If I went from standing to sitting, or vice versa, I screamed in pain. It was awful.

So, I missed GEMS Sunday. Our amazing counselors stepped up and made it all happen and the girls did marvelously. How do I know this, if I wasn’t there, you ask?

Because my cool husband texted, emailed pictures, and sent me video during the service! I sat in pain on my couch, with a heating pad on my neck, crying, and watching those girls sing their theme song. I was wishing we had live streaming on the web of our church services, but what I had was almost as good.

It took about a week before I could move normally, though I had stopped screaming by Sunday afternoon. I still have some pain if I move too far in one direction, but it’s improving and I’m so grateful to not be living in constant pain anymore.

GEMS is over for the year now, except for our final counselor party Monday night. I’ve still got to track down at least 2, possibly 3 more counselors for next year, so we’re praying about that. I am glad to have a bit of a break from GEMS, but I’ll be so excited to see those sweet girls again in September!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Two of the many projects that fifth graders have to complete are a musical instrument and an invention. Let me be the first to say that it would be nice if we could spread these projects out throughout the year…we’ve also done a life scrapbook (known as “The Penny Book”), a biographical report, and a research project/poster in the last month, and all the while, never slowing down on the regular homework, ie. math.

It gets to be about the first of May in 5th grade and most parents and students are SPENT. It doesn’t matter if you know all this stuff is coming if you’ve already had a fifth grader. The rules change. The requirements change. Any work you do ahead of time will probably be in vain. And as much as I TRY to be a laissez-faire parent in terms of homework, there are just some parts that parents HAVE to help with. It’s MEANT to be that way. Therefore, I am ready for 5th grade to be O.VER. I am tired of homework.

But, my 5th grader performed marvelously on her musical instrument and her invention, in spite of her mother’s doubts. She rose to the occasion, of course, and honestly and diligently set about completing her projects in fine fashion.

First off, the musical instrument. Last summer, we were drinking a lot of “Izze” juice. Bethany started blowing into one of the glass bottles. I said, “Hey, you want that to be your musical instrument next year?” She said, “YES!” So, we saved 6 glass bottles and then pulled them out this spring in order to create her instrument.


She actually figured out how much water had to be in the bottles in order to create certain notes. She used her tuner and adjusted until everything was just right. She decorated the bottles and we used my Silhouette to cut the vinyl letters to show which bottles played which notes. She could even play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the bottles.

Second, the invention. I wanted her to make a hand warmer for my “mouse hand”. It always gets cold when I’m editing pictures. But no, she had other ideas. Her teachers encouraged the students to think of some problem that they themselves have and invent something to fix that problem. Hence, you get things like “Doggie Does Work” mop pads that strap around your little dog’s belly and the “Miracle Tray” which has holes for glasses for waitresses to use so that they don’t spill drinks when they carry them out on a tray (this was actually pretty genius and was created by the daughter of a local restaurant-owner who is apparently applying for a patent!)

Bethany’s problems center around getting frustrated when things don’t come as easily as she thinks they should. So, she created “The Happy Box.” I’ll admit. I was dubious. I thought it would turn out silly. But she asked her teacher and her teacher said “Go for it.” So, who was I to stand in the way of genius?

Her Happy Box was great. She worked and worked to get a workable design, drew it out for grandpa to cut the wood, helped him assemble it, and worked very hard on her display board and on the items in the Happy Box. The essential idea is that it’s a box with a crank. When you are frustrated or sad, you turn the crank and look inside the box to see what would make you feel better. Then you reach in and grab it. She had stuffed animals, apple cider, a Bible, Scripture passages, hot tea, a journal, books, etc. All things that relieve stress and make one HAPPY!


Beautiful job, Bethany! I’m SO. Proud. of you!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grandparents’ Day

Wow, am I behind on this blog! Life has just been getting in the way! There’s so much to share and so little time. Oh well. It’ll all get posted. Eventually.

I hope.

A few weeks back was Grandparents’ Day at school. Every year our school has a Creative Arts Week where many fun things happen. There’s always a theme, there are special chapels and speakers, there’s an open house where all the classrooms are open and displays of many projects fill the halls and the windowsills and the gym. There’s also Grandparents’ Day. The afternoon begins with a program with special performances by various age groups. Usually the 5th graders do some square dancing and singing, so we went to the program to watch Bethany.


The kids all looked so cute in the western get-ups.


This child does love performing. She’s almost always got pure joy on her face!


And when she doesn’t have pure joy on her face, it’s probably because that boy she’s about to swing on her arm either isn’t doing something right or he’s just gross. Boys are still gross in 5th grade, in case you didn’t know. Whew.

And in case you didn’t know, if you’re a boy in 5th grade, most girls are still gross. One of the boys literally pulled down his sleeves over his hands so that he wouldn’t have to actually touch the skin of a girl! It was soooooo funny! We also noticed that most of the “hand-holding” was done with the girls grabbing the boys’ wrists. No actual hand-holding occurred during the square dancing.

Thank goodness.


Then the 5th graders sang a really fun worship song and this was completely Bethany’s cup of tea. She gets totally into the performing and worshipping during this kind of thing and it’s enough to make her momma shed a few tears.

The rest of the program was really good, complete with special songs from the high school chamber choir and a video of pictures from throughout the year. Very, very well done. See for yourself!

Elementary Montage YouTube Video

Friday, May 6, 2011

And then she turned 13…

But, amazingly, she’s still the same sweet girl.

She loves books.


And stuffed animals.


And horses.


She’s still a good big sister.


But she also loves teenage things…like music.


And cute flip flops.


And slumber parties with her friends.


We are blessed.