Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Grandpa!!

Yesterday was my favorite Dad's 72nd birthday! I couldn't have been blessed with a better Dad. Hardworking, consistent, loving, Christian, gentle, goofy, loves-to-rock-my-babies, loves-my-Mom, loves-my-husband (sometimes I question his loyalties, though--I think he likes Harold better than me!!!!) --what more could a girl ask for?

Whatever you wished for, I hope it comes true! Love you Dad!

Your Favorite Daughter,
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Jonas!!!

J is for Joyful
O is for Obedient
N is for Never-ending Energy!
A is for Affectionate
S is for Smart
Today is Jonas' birthday! He turns 10 today. Double digits. We celebrated his birthday last night because he and the other big boys were leaving early this morning to head to Mammaw's house.He wanted a football cake this year. That puzzles me. There must just be something innately "manly" about football. It's not like he's played real football before. I'm pretty sure he's never even been to a real football game. He HAS watched it on TV, but that's about it, except for playing it on the GameCube. Maybe that's close enough? I dunno. Anyway, he likes football and I like him! He's awfully cool and he's really cute! I'm glad I'm his Momma! There're lots of perks to the job. He gives great backrubs and he's always ready with a hug, which I'm often in need of.

For his birthday dinner, he chose chili cheese noodles and chili cheese hotdogs (Cincinnati/SkyLine type chili), green beans, and fruit salad. I think he'd eat that meal everyday if he could. Grandpa & Grandma came over to eat with us and we had a nice time stuffing ourselves.
Matthew enjoyed the cake. He likes it when folks have birthdays! We get to eat cake & ice cream plenty around here, so he's a happy boy! I should've taken a picture of Lena's teeth and tongue when she was done eating! They were the color of the blue icing. I've never seen anything like it.

John Wesley's dog, Brownie, had a puppy--a really cute puppy. That brings our total dog population to 4. UGH! How DID that happen?

Another addition to our family, well to Lena's family.... This past Sunday, Liz, a lady at our church, gave Lena this baby doll. Liz MADE it. It is so pretty, and her little smile is contagious. You HAVE to smile when you look at her! She came all dressed in a pretty lavender dress, which Liz had also made, and she had a little PJ outfit, too. Lena decided it was time for PJ's when we got home. You should see the stitching on this baby's body. She did a great job!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

If anyone is still reading this...

I've decided to continue the blog as a way to preserve memories. Resigning myself, not regretfully, to the fact that regular scrapbooking isn't part of this reality that Harold and I have joyfully chosen; I think that blogging is a suitable alternative to scrapbooking in many ways.

Blogging facilitates preservation of memories (allowing for extended journaling--which makes my wordy self happy) combined with pictures--and it's quicker. It is an undeniable benefit that blogging can be done between math problems or while I wait for the water to boil. Granted, it's not as pretty and I don't get to catch up on the "news" with fellow scrappers while we work; but that's a trade that I am willing to make for this season of my life. There's also the added benefit that grandparents, aunts & uncles, and friends we don't get to see very often can keep up with what's going on, if they want, even though my main goal is to preserve our days for my own sadly deficient memory.

I was going through some old photos and found this picture of Jonas wearing this shirt (taken about a year & a half ago). I had bought it for John Wesley about 7 years ago. Faded and nearly threadbare in some places, it finally made it's way down from John Wesley, to Cody, to William, and finally a couple years ago, to Jonas. A couple weeks ago, right after we got back from vacation, Jonas and I were doing our twice-a-year clothing perusal, and he held up this shirt. He said, "Mom, I've outgrown my favorite shirt." I asked him which shirt he meant, and he thrust it at me. For some reason, that made me feel so good.

Never a truer shirt sentiment was writ. Indeed, I *DO* have the best job in the whole wide world!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

School doesn't get any better than this...

Here's Lena, busily working away on her school work early this morning. I don't think any teacher has cuter students; and I don't think any students have a better dress code. You just can't beat schooling in your PJ's--for the teacher OR the student :) !

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Some Random Thoughts and Pictures...

We made it! We're home. I say that with a definite mixture of sadness and happiness. I love home and I love our family life routine. But, I have also enjoyed our vacationing lifestyle. Unfortunately, real life beckons and we must heed the call. This month has been one of the most jam-packed-with-fun times we've ever had. I will always treasure the closeness we shared as a family, and I will never forget watching our children experience, up-close-and-personal, all God's creatures and creations. We had the experience of a lifetime.

We've been going through photos and there were a few that didn't make it to the blog, but that I wanted to share, so I'm adding them here.

We came across this paw-print in Yellowstone and were surprised by its clarity. We aren't sure what made it. Do you know?
This photo is for Dan Nichols and all you other perfectionists out there (DAD!!!). I know you'll enjoy seeing our professional bodywork, right, Dan? But if this isn't extensive enough for you, don't worry, there's more on the other side of the RV. The good news is that Duct Tape was one of the only "parts" we had to buy during the whole trip. For being 20 years old, this old rig did pretty well. Nothing really broke down until the last night before we got home.
Pretty scenery. We will have no shortage of wallpaper photos for our computer screens to choose from for quite some time.

The kids for sure had a blast on this trip. I'm happy, though, that they were all counting down the time till we were home. Very glad that home is a place they look forward to being. Hope they feel that way when they grow up.

Just because...
I'll continue to go through my photos and add more here for the next week or two. Getting back into the routine of being home has been slow. The laundry is done and the RV is unpacked, but getting our heads back into "non-vacation" mode will take some time. We are all dreading Harold's return to work tomorrow. It's been so nice to be together, we'll miss him during the workday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wall Drug and The Badlands...

Wall Drug was a lot of fun! Every souvenir you can imagine is available there. But it’s more than a souvenir shop, it’s an experience, all its own. No trip out West is complete without a trip to Wall Drug, in my opinion. The kids got to “mine” for gems and fossils, walk through the sprinklers, take goofy pictures, see a dinosaur who was very hungry and ready to eat them (this scared Jared horribly), and generally just goof off. After we left Wall Drug, we drove through the Badlands National Park. While it is beautiful, it wasn’t quite as breathtaking after having seen Zion and Bryce Canyons. I think the Badlands are probably best experienced as a “gateway” to the West, rather than as a “goodbye” to the West, as it was for us. Wall Drug and the Badlands were our final destinations. Our trip is winding down to a close. We’ll be traveling a little more intentionally toward home, now. All of the kids, at one time or other, over the past few days, have begun to ask about home. They are beginning to miss their familiar surroundings, their grandma & grandpa and their pets. I, myself, have mixed feelings about our trip coming to an end. Wherever Harold and the kids are is home for me. We have had an unforgettable time, and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to see and do all that we have!

It’s been fun to document parts of our trip in this format. Having them here will definitely preserve some of our memories until I can find the opportunity to immortalize them in the pages of our scrapbooks. I will most likely be adding a couple more posts before we are home, because there were so many pictures that I’d like to add that didn’t really pertain to the subject of the other posts. Some just of scenery, and some of the kids.

Crazy Horse & Crazy Dogs...

After packing up camp, we hit the road with our ultimate destination for the day being Wall Drug. The day started with a leisurely drive through the tourist-y towns of Custer and Keystone. Harold made the mistake (?) of saying something like, “Okay, you guys just tell me where you want to stop, and I’ll stop.” Of course the kids and I all figured he must’ve lost his mind or at least had given up any hope of ever staying on any kind of pre-determined course of travel.

Anyway, there were two or three “I wanna’ stop” hollers for different stores, mostly rock shops or trading posts (meaning, “You trade me your hard earned cash for my made-in-China junk.”) or souvenir stores. Then we passed this really pretty brown dog (she looks like she’s at least part chocolate lab) trotting down a busy road. All of a sudden everyone is hollering, “I wanna’ stop!!!” So we did. She was (is) a really pretty, clean and friendly dog and the kids fell in love practically before we ever even got a chance to look at her twice. Why, oh, why do we do things like this??????

Harold & I were relieved to find that the dog had a collar with tags, including owner’s name and phone number. The owner was fairly easy to get in touch with, and we figured we’d drop the dog off to her grateful owner and that would be that. Harold, in speaking to the owner, offhandedly made mention that he had eight kids who would love to take her off his hands. The man said, “Fine, they can keep her.” We figured he was joking, set up a place to meet him and loaded up the dog. As the man approached our camper, he re-iterated his offer. He was serious. In fact, he had a lady who was supposed to come to his house this evening to take a look at her. He wanted to do some extensive traveling and the dog wouldn’t be going. He said if the kids wanted her, he’d just tell the lady he’d found a taker (or 10).

I really wonder if something bad happened to Harold the other day. Remember, I said he wasn’t feeling well? Maybe it was an alien abduction or something? What are we going to do with three dogs? And this dog will be in the camper for a week and she’s not little. Really, I’m just kidding. I was actually in favor of bringing her home, too. So far, she’s been amazingly sweet with the kids and she seems relatively intelligent.

Anyway, after we picked up “Chip” (she was already named) we drove past the Crazy Horse monument. I’m going to have to go online and read some more about that. So far, all I know is I agree about the “crazy” part. I realize it’s unfinished, but it’s evidently been unfinished for a loooooong time. Laundry was piling up so we found a laundry mat and I did laundry while Harold took the kids to find a play ground and some pizza. It’s official…I could’ve bought a washer/dryer set for what we’ve spent on laundry on this trip! It cost $2.50 per load just to wash today not including drying! With 8-10 loads, that adds up! I don’t know how people afford it who HAVE to go to the laundry mat.

Wall Drug will have to wait until tomorrow. The day got away from us a bit. We found a little gas station that has RV hookups for $5.00/night where we’ll be staying tonight. I really like being so self-contained. It’s different than the pull-behind camper because there’s less work to setting up and packing up each time. We roll in, make out our beds, sleep, get up, take showers, eat and then roll out. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but for this trip, this has worked perfectly. Since we don’t have another vehicle, we have to shop very intentionally to make sure we have everything we need before we settle in for the night, but that’s worked out fine, too.

Here are a few pictures of how we travel in here. Sometimes it feels like one of those puzzles where you have all the little, square, moveable pieces in a plastic frame and you have to slide one piece out of the way before you can move another piece into place, then you have to slide a few more pieces before you can get the other pieces where they belong. The difference is that in our case, the frame is the motor home, and the pieces are us. No denying it’s been tight, but as the old saying goes, love grows best in small spaces.One day when I was doing laundry, a fellow lady launderer and I were exchanging information about our travels. Pretty soon, she asked me how many children I have. When I told her eight, she said, “Boy, you all must really like each other to be able to travel all this way in such close quarters!” Her comment caught me by surprise, and I thought about it a minute, then replied, “Yeah, we do!” What a pleasure to be able to say that! I don’t just love these people I spend my days with—I really LIKE them, too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Matthew!!!

June 1, 2009—Matthew’s sixth birthday and approximately 3 years since he became a part of our family. It’s hard to believe that Matthew’s been part of our family for 3 years already. Well, that’s not completely true, in many ways it seems that he’s been here forever. He has fit so seamlessly into our lives and is now an inseparable part of the triplets—my littles—Jared, MaKenzie and Matthew.
This year has brought many milestones for Matthew. Eating solid foods, as in table foods—like the rest of us eat—has been his most exciting accomplishment for him and for us! He can finally eat pretty much whatever we’re having for dinner—I may have to cut it smaller or mash it up a bit—but he isn’t having to have a completely separate meal of his own. And he LOVES it!
Matthew and John Wesley have a special relationship. All the kids are great with him; they all love on him and include him in stuff when they can. But John Wesley really makes an effort to go out of his way to help Matthew do things he otherwise probably wouldn’t be able to do.
Other milestones Matthew has achieved this year include the loss of his first tooth a month or so ago, and being able to feed himself finger foods. Matthew has also figured out how to drink out of a straw. Last night he drank a whole Pediasure using a straw!
This year has brought challenges as well. Matthew’s physical abilities far exceed his cognitive understanding. For example, he can open the door and go outside, but he doesn’t have any clue where he’s going.
Matthew can also get out of his bed.--Although that is a great physical skill, it's definitely NOT a positive thing. :)
It’s a fact that he keeps us on our toes. But I can’t imagine a better reason to stay on my toes than the reward of his gorgeous smile! Even better than his “happy” smile is his “mischievous grin” that gives us all a small peek into his little mind. Make no mistake; this little boy does understand some of what’s happening around him. He knows who butters his bread, too, evidenced by the fact that Grandma & Grandpa are his favorite folks. He gets so excited when they come over, or when he figures out that he’s headed to their house—that’s when he REALLY gets to get spoiled! He sucks & slurps a little louder & faster! He's a smart boy!