Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Today we celebrated this guy...

This year's birthday theme was Buzz Lightyear/Star Wars/Pinata. It was a blast!
(Hey, I had to think of something to entertain 11 children for 2 hours! It required some creativity)

Here is the birthday boy going to town on his #6 pinata. Max was the strong one who finally brought the thing down...check this out...

Yeah, it was a candy free-for-all. :) Sorry, Moms. You're probably not going to want your kid to come back to Charlie's for another birthday party. Cavities. Lots of cavities. But it was FUN! And in my meager defense, I put sunglasses, a bouncy ball and a couple other non-candy things in their goody bags. But yeah, I'm pretty much all about the candy on birthdays.

After he made his wish and blew out his candles. My sweet boy...he is always up for a love for his Mommy. Is it too much to ask that it will never change?


Quite possibly, the nicest, funnest, coolest group of kids any 6-year-old could ask to be friends with. An awesome night with some super duper kids. Happy Birthday to my Charlie-Man! What fun...Much love~

p.s. Edited to Add: I had a moment of "Aha! That would make sense!" and had to share about kids' b-day parties. I have had too many times when I forgot what friend brought what present (and yes, I totally wish I could be one of those moms who says "no presents", but the kids look forward to the presents. I try to keep my presents for friends under $10, and ask that people do the same for us...what to do?? that's a whole 'nother post right there!!). Anyhooo...when Charlie opened up a present, I had the friend that brought it come over, so Charlie could give him/her a hug and a thank you, then I took a picture of Charlie with the friend AND the present. I'm planning on sending the picture along with the thank-you note--no more writing down who brought what, then losing the list, etc. And there are some super cute pictures of Chars with his friends. Just had to share that little tip--and if y'all have any tips for the whole present issue in general, I am all ears! :)

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And on Monday of last week...


We ate ice cream!!! One of our favorite places to frequent in Longville, Minnesota is Frosty's. It is one of those places where if you ask for a single scoop, they give you at least 3 scoops, and when you ask for a kids' cone, this is what it looks like! Max was enjoying the "Super Man" flavor, whatever that is.


This is called pure joy...the girl eating Bubble Gum ice cream. And yes, she swallowed every last piece of bubble gum. :)


Tate getting his first taste of Peanut Butter Ripple. YUM. Thankfully his siblings are very generous, so he pretty much got a sample of everyone's ice cream. He didn't even need his own dish!


This is called pure cuteness. :) My second "big guy" turns 6 tomorrow. Oh, how I love this kid. We can't wait to celebrate with an eclectic party--a Star Wars theme, with a bounce house and a pinata! Fun is sure to be had by all! Happy Tuesday, everyone...Much love~

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to the beginning of our week

The Dance Recital!


Zoe and her friend Aili at the big dance recital. Zoe was a bunny and Aili was a kitten. They were "animal crackers"...I'll explain more later...


Yep, we have a budding Gene Kelly in the family ("Singin' in the Rain" is one of my all-time favorite movies...I can't help myself...). Here's a very handsome Charlie and his buddy Kade backstage. His favorite part of the costume was the tie. Can you blame him?


Zoe, Charlie, and Zoe's BFF Jenna--in a different class but the same recital. So precious!


There's my guy! He knew ALL the steps--even pointed his classmates where to go onstage. :)


OK, so here's the explanation. The girls' song was "Animal Crackers in My Soup" so they came out on stage in "soup bowls" that their daddies carried them out in. It was adorable. There's my strong handsome husband carrying his little bunny rabbit out on stage. All in all, a very successful recital! More about our vacation week to come...this was only Saturday! :) Hope your week has started out well...Much love~

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quick update...we are home!

We are thrilled to be home in our own beds tonight after a wonderful week at the Lake. Loads of pictures to share but wanted to get one quick update emotional update...

Elaine has gone home to Heaven. We are so grateful for her life, her legacy and the imprint that she made on so many lives around her. Thank you for praying for her family. Her passing was peaceful, at home with her boys and her beloved friends surrounding her. I just saw her at Target last is surreal to think that she is now with her Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. Please continue to keep this family in your prayers. We didn't make it back in time to attend her funeral today, but I have no doubt there were many there celebrating her beautiful life, and remembering her with love.

We did have a great week as a family together. We are so thankful that we have this retreat, that we can hang out together, and just BE. Busy week in front of us, but we have nothing to complain about. Love to you all~

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our week...whew!

Wow, our week has been awesome and I seriously can't believe that it is Thursday night already. I am worried that the rest of the summer is going to go this fast!! Nooooo! Slow down, summer.

Max had pretty much the highlight of his summer this week with Drake basketball camp. This kid was in heaven. All week at the Knapp Center, shooting hoops with Drake players, playing games...awesome. He got a "hustler of the day" on Tuesday, and today his team, the Celtics, won the championship!! Too bad for the real Celtics...I think they need Mr. Max on their team, he seems to be good luck!! Words can't describe how proud I am of him...honestly more for his enthusiasm and attitude than his abilities on the court...he has a gift of making everyone around him as excited about basketball as he is. :)

Every day after camp, we would pick up Max and head out to Nama and Papa's house for a quick dinner on our way to Vacation Bible School at our church. Buck and I were both teaching this year which made for a very full week!! But it was so much fun, and us grown-ups had just as much fun as the kids (especially those root beer floats tonight, right?) We learned how Jesus gives us the power to be thankful, the power to be brave, the power to live forever and the power to tell others about God. Can you tell our theme was God's Power Lab? :) It was awesome. Zoe's quote of the night:
Me: "Zoe, tell Mama what you learned about in Bible school."
Zoe: "Well, I learned that God gives us the power to tell our mom and dad to do the right things and that God is with us when we hug our stuffed animals!" All of this said with a huge smile and great confidence! Fantastic! Not sure what Bible school she was at, but I am glad there was some God stuff in there somewhere. That's a 4- year-old for you.

Zoe and Charlie finally have their dance recital this weekend...yippeee! And then it is off to the Lake we go for our first trip north of 2010. Can't wait to be back on the water...I downloaded 2 books onto my iPad and can't wait to read them. And is anyone else out there totally pumped for Toy Story 3? I am so glad I have a couple of kids fo drag with me, otherwise I would feel a little silly...but can't wait for that one. Hope your week has been as full and blessed as mine has. Love to you all ~

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm done!

Now if that picture's not enough to make you smile just a little, something is wrong with you! No that's not one of my patients, it's a stock photo from Google Image (just so y'all know I'm not violating HIPPA or anything!)...but I love this picture. And it's sort of how I feel. Yep, our last patient delivered. All is well. All is done, baby is here and healthy, and mom is overjoyed.

As I enter this new adventure of stay-at-home-motherhood, I thought back to how I felt as a brand-new mom. Overjoyed, just like my patient, of course. There were so many unknowns, though. Along with the excitement comes some anxiety. Just like there is with any really good thing in life. There has to be some risk, otherwise what's the point? So in the same way I felt as though I was jumping off a cliff into motherhood the first time I walked through my front door with my new baby Max--I'm feeling that way now. Exhilirated, yes. Happy, yes. A tad bit nervous about what's ahead? You bet. But really, really ready to throw my pager in the Lake. :)

And only take care of these babies for the time being:




My life is good, and I am thankful and blessed. Love to you all~

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Triathlon That Wasn't...

To be honest I'm glad I am not writing that one of my children started the local Hy-Vee Kids' Triathlon, freaked out, and didn't finish...or worse...that they collided with one of their fellow bikers and had an accident or something. NO...the lovely Iowa weather rained out the kids' triathlon that they had been preparing for. BUMMER! But they were pumped and ready to go...and even got their medals to show for it...even though they weren't able to compete! There's always next year, and I am so, so proud of them just for being willing and excited to do it! Heaven knows their Mama never would! :) Enjoy...


Max is showing off the stroke he was going to use for the swim...this was Friday night before the rain started! He was super excited.


The little Miss was ready to cheer on her brothers. She wanted goggles too! She can't wait for next year too--when she is 5 and able to compete. Watch out, other 5-year-olds, out there, this girl will be hard to beat!


Chars was such a good sport about it. He was bummed about not being able to ride his bike in the race, but overall, he was just pretty darn excited to get that medal! ha!


"Mom, this is what I would have looked like if I would have finished the race. How do I look?" Awesome, look awesome.


Quite possibly one of the sweetest recent pics I have of them. When it was just the 2 of them, there were "brother pictures" all the it's all 4 of them! So cute to see them supporting each other, cheering each other on. But there's more cuteness...wait for it...wait for it...


UH-HUH!! See...such cuteness I can't stand it. We LOVE summer around here. Great job, training, Max and Charlie! There is always next year...they will always be my superstar medal-winners no matter whether the race was run or not. Love these guys!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yummy Summer Recipes

I love to have easy summer things done and ready to eat. Here are a couple of our favorites. I try to post things that all the kids like, so in case you have picky eaters, these might be things they might like as well. Charlie is our only really picky one--he would probably gladly have a peanut butter (hold the jelly, please, Mom!) sandwich every single night. But here you go. And enjoy!

BBQ Meatballs (Kind of a weird recipe, makes a BIG advice is to make 2- 9x13 pans of them and freeze one, then you are ready to go for another night! Freeze without the sauce, then just make a new batch of sauce when you pull the 2nd pan out of the freezer).

13 oz. can of evaporated milk
3 lbs hamburger
2 cups oatmeal (quick cook kind)
2 eggs
good sprinkle of dry minced onion (about 3-4 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (to taste--I don't use this much)
2 tsp. chili powder

Mix all together--I just mash with my hands (will be sticky!)--and shape into balls (so that about 12 balls fit into a 9 x 13 pan). Should make enough to make about 24 meatballs.

2 cups ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dry minced onion (optional)
The recipe also calls for 2 Tbsp liquid smoke but I have never ventured to try that--I don't know if the kiddos would go for it, but if yours would, have at it! :)

Mix sauce ingredients together until sugar dissolves and spread over meatballs. Bake at 325 for 1 hour. If you are only making 1 pan of meatballs at a time then halve the sauce recipe. YUM!

Another easy refreshing summer snack is an Orange Smoothie. My kids love helping with these! I have also used frozen lemonade concentrate before, and it was just as good.

6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2-2 cups ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink on a hot summer day!

Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts and prayers for Elaine. I will keep you posted, and I know how much her family appreciates the prayers of people that they have never even met. Blessings to each of you!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Meet Elaine


I wanted you all to meet Elaine. She is a brave heart. She has been fighting cancer since 2004...and REALLY fighting cancer since 2007. Just last week, she decided to stop fighting. She is going to spend her time enjoying her 3 beautiful sons, the rest of her family and her friends. And basking in the love of her heavenly Father. She is an amazing display of courage and grace, humility and human-ness, and humor in the face of tragedy. Here's a bit of her story and why I wanted to share it with you.

Elaine and her husband Jim started out their life together much like many of us have--Jim had a great career, and Elaine stayed home to raise their 3 sons. While I don't know what their thoughts were, I wonder if Elaine's thoughts were sometimes like what mine are: while I love these crazy, challenging growing-up years, won't things be a little easier when the kids get older? Won't it be nice when Buck and I can sit down and have a nice long uninterrupted conversation? Elaine and Jim never got the chance to see all of their boys graduate from high school together since Jim was diagnosed and later passed away from cancer in 2002. Not even 2 years later, while Elaine was still putting the pieces back together, figuring out how to mother these children on her own, figuring out how she was going to live the rest of her life without her life's partner, she too was diagnosed with a different, but still very rare form of cancer. At first doctors diagnosed it as low-grade and slow-growing. In 2007 however, it showed up with a vengance in her lungs and other smooth muscle tissue. She fought it like a warrior--traveling to Boston for treatments, clinical trials, you name it, she did it...for more time with her boys, and more time on this earth. Her prayer was that of Hezekiah in the Bible--that God would grant her 15 more years--years that she may see her boys graduate, that she may even be able to hold their children in her arms.

The past few months have shown that was not God's plan. A few short weeks ago, it looked like Elaine might not even be able to see her youngest son Nate's high school graduation. But the prayers of the faithful lifted Elaine and her family up--Elaine saw that day, and was able to celebrate with a great graduation party for Nate. She also saw her son Steven graduate from college the same weekend, via live-streaming online. She was so humbled and blessed by those events. She was thrilled. The following Wednesday she had her next CT scan and all of her tumors had grown, despite continuing chemo. She surrendered. She thanked her Lord Jesus Christ and surrendered. She is now living joyfully, in the moment, with her children and loved ones surrounding her at home. She is ready to meet her Father, her Creator, and to have that certainty...ahhh...what peace. The peace that passes understanding.

Now, why am I writing this? Is Elaine a dear friend? No. While I call her a sister in Christ, she is not a close friend of mine. She is a friend of a dear friend, and her story has touched my heart deeply. I think because I lost a parent at a young age, younger than Nate, I know the tough road that is. I know how it feels to feel "orphaned" in a sense. And it is hard, hard, hard. But I know Elaine's boys will be OK. I am OK. Elaine has prepared them well. Jim prepared them well. But not only this, I think back to the time when Elaine had young children, probably the ages mine are now. My recurring thought is "this is not the life she imagined for them...or for herself." We don't know what God has on the road ahead of us. But if our eyes are fixed on Him, it doesn't matter. The reward...the ending to the's already taken care of.

Also, I write this because I want Elaine to be KNOWN. To be known by you all...the 5 people who read my blog! :) I want you to know of her courage and her dignity and her tenacity and her FAITH. Her legacy is evident through her sons, but I want you to know of it as well. I love the words to this Nichole Nordeman song "Legacy":

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things?
Want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace, who blessed Your name, unapologetically
To leave that kind of legacy

Thank you all for reading about Elaine. I know her family would appreciate your prayers as well. And now a final Scripture that will always make me think of Elaine.

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress. I will never be shaken. " Psalm 62: 1-2 Blessings to you all~

An interesting thought on caffeine

As I am nearing the end of my caffeine-fueled days (yes, that was one of the neurologist's recommendations), I heard a timely study being discussed on the radio yesterday. While I don't have references or anything, which as a nurse I often want, I still found it thought-provoking enough to throw it out there to you all! The researchers found that for people who regularly consume caffeine, it actually doesn't give you that morning "boost" like we may think it does. All it does is take away the withdrawal symptoms we are having, making us feel normal, rather than more alert than normal. For people who are not regular caffeine connoseiurs, however, caffeine will probably have that eye-opening effect that the rest of us are hoping for. So becoming addicted to caffeine and having a big cup of joe every day is really doing nothing for us...making us dependent on something that is expensive, causing us to have withdrawal headaches and crabbiness, and overall probably isn't that good for us. A good cup of coffee every once in a while or a delicious ice-cold Coke on an occasional summer day? Drink up. Interesting, huh?

Also, I finished Jodi Picoult's "Handle With Care" and will write my thoughts here shortly. Have a couple new summer reads to get going on as well! I'm always open to good books, so if anyone has any suggestions, send them my way. Happy summer everyone~

Saturday, June 5, 2010

10 Crazy Years!

Wow, 10 years of marriage! Where does the time go? Buck and I both said repeatedly over the past few days how fast 10 years has gone by. Which is crazy considering we've been pretty darn busy over the past 10 years. We wonder what the next 10 years will bring. Hopefully more fun times, more learning times, more joyful times of watching our children grow and develop. Oh, how God has blessed us! While we had a ton of fun on our California weekend trip, we are going on a weeklong trip in November to celebrate. We didn't want to go somewhere too warm in June--what's the fun of leaving Iowa in June??

On an unrelated (sort of!) note, I am STILL ON CALL! Can you believe that! Our sweet last patient is taking her sweet little time bringing her baby into this world. Being the patient midwives that we are--we are happy to give her the freedom to let the baby come on its own time, not that we are anxiously tapping our feet or anything. :) Wouldn't you know that our last patient would deliver two weeks past her due date. Figures.

Max has his last day of school on Monday and then we are summer-breakin' it! I am on the lookout for some good, easy summer curriculum ideas to keep a 7-5-and 4-year-old relatively engaged for a couple of hours a day on academic things, and am planning "field trips" a couple of times a week as well, where we can try to learn a little while still having a ton of fun, and doing things the kids want to do. I'm planning to head to one of my favorite kids' stores (although it does tend to overwhelm me, but in a good way!) The Learning Post, tomorrow, and hopefully get a little plan in place. anniversary present from Buck was an iPad! Bless his heart, I think he's trying to help me be more technologically "with it" and organized. :) I don't know what the heck I'm doing with it, but it's fun to play around with. I tried to figure out how to post a blog post from it, and couldn't quite get it done yet. But I got a calendar set up, some photos and iTunes downloaded and have been checking Facebook from there already. Fun fun! It's fancy, let me tell you. I can't wait to get some movies on there so I can watch them on car trips this summer. :) No more listening to Veggie Tales for 6 hours for me! Oh...and brag alert...Buck finished the Dam to Dam today in his personal best 1:35! WOWSERS!! He is a rock star! Hope you all are having a great weekend. Love to you all~

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Charlie's Turn!

Today was Charlie's official last day of preschool before he heads off into the big world of full-day school! Mercy me, somebody stop the passage of time! I am so, so thankful, however, that we found the choice for Charlie of "optional kindergarten" in a school district right next door to ours, where he could go to school for free, have 14 kids in his class and get totally prepared for kindergarten with other kids just like him--the right age for kindergarten but just not quite ready yet. It was an awesome year. Their "Beach Party" was the icing on the cake! Check out the dude in the green and yellow beach shirt!

Charlie with his good buddy A--they actually have had two full years of preschool together! A is going to stay at this school next year while Charlie comes back to our home district school (he was open-enrolled this year). We aren't sure what either boy is going to do without the other!

Chars with the fabulous Mrs. Young! We have been completely blessed to have such great teachers for our kiddos year after year. Believe it or not, her dad is the chaplain at the college where I did my first undergrad degree. Small world. :)

We love our Charlie-Man! Can't wait to see what God has in store for him in kindergarten! Oh me oh out world!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A little body image crisis

Let the record reflect: I am not pregnant. Nope.

Last Friday, a patient asked me when I was due. Want to know what my first thought was? It was "Shoot, my library books are overdue again." My second thought was "I think she thinks I'm pregnant."

Now, as women we all know that old rule: You don't ask a woman when she is due unless she is laying in a hospital bed with a fetal monitor around her belly. But ask she did. And let me just say as well--last Friday at the pool, my sweet Charlie looked at me in my swimsuit and said "Hey, Mom, it's funny you still have a big tummy from when you had Tate." OK, you have to love the BRUTAL honesty of a 5-year-old, but sometimes it's just brutal period.

To make me feel just a teeeeeeny tiny bit better, I do tend to wear clothes that are sometimes loose and flowy, and Buck told me that the shirt I was wearing on Friday could be mistaken for a maternity shirt (it's not a maternity shirt though, let me be clear!). Bummer. Guess I have to throw that shirt away!

So, here's to a couple of more new leaves being turned over. Let the journey begin!