Saturday, June 30, 2012

Leapin Lighnin Bolts, Batman!

The power is out!

A brief but powerful thunderstorm with 70+ mph winds swept through our area late yesterday afternoon, leaving trees and branches down, shingles strewn in all directions, all sorts of messes and hazards...including widespread power outages.

We faired pretty well, with only a small cherry tree lost, and a couple other branches to clean up.  It became an adventure of sorts as neighbors pulled together with chainsaws to help with clean up, and all the kids drug branches back to the alley.  There they burrowed little tunnels and made forts from the wreckage.  Our neighbors to the north (New Bremen) lost power completely, and around 9pm then, our community was dark too.  (Wondering if they had to turn ours off, to work on restoring power in New Bremen?).  Anyways.  It made for an interesting bedtime.  After shuffling all the dirty-yard-working-kids through dark showers, we finally settled in the family room with candlelight, sleeping bags and a good book.  We made our way through book #4 in the Junie B. Jones chapter book series.  The kids are in love with the little kindergardener and her shananingans.  It was a perfect, settling end to an unsettled evening.  They drifted off to sleep by chapter 5.   Ahh...God is good...all is well in our home.

And then I remembered that the swim towels I'd thrown in the washer for Saturday morning's meet weren't going to dry on their out to the clothesline I went with them, in the dark.  Shucks.  Hope they're dry by 7am.

End note:  Woke up to my cell phone alarm at 6:30 am, it's thunderstorming.  Towels aren't dry, but the meet's cancelled.  Power is back on.  Back to bed for just a little longer...all is okay in our little world.

Hoping the same can be said for yours.


Friday, June 29, 2012

back to the books

We were much too busy (with vacation bible school, out-of-town guests, etc) to check in at the library last week.  So on Wednesday of this week, we had some catching up to do there.  Fortunately we had our books read, and documented, even started a chapter book series that I'm reading to the younger kids (more on that later.)  So with paperwork in order, we headed out.

Becky wasn't in...the kids all wondered if something was terribly wrong..."Did she quit mom?!"  No, we hadn't driven her to that just yet, I assured them.  Even library ladies need a day off, I explained.  (Thinking in my head "Especially library ladies need a day off!"  Wow.

Anyhow, to make things easier on the lady at the Reading Club table, I sent the little kids off to "check out new books."  (Code for: play with the toys/trains, look for the craft, or do a puzzle.)
I handed her each of the kids booklets, and we moved through them smoothly with no arguments about change-of-names or anything.  At last we were finished, and it occurred to me, I hadn't seen Anne doing her usual book sort lately.  Shoot.  "Anyone seen Anne?" I whispered to the kids...nope. 

Just then, the little booger came sashaying her way out of Ms. Becky's office.  Quite oblivious to the fact (or proud of, maybe) that she was covered head to toe in yesterday's cold coffee, and still toting Becky's coffee mug.  I followed her soggy tracks back to her desk chair, which was also covered in the wonderful-smelling brew.  Darnit!  (thank you Lord that it was not a hot cup-o-joe.)
She climbed right back up on the chair, and pointed proudly, even mumbled "hot!  no, no, no."  And then grinned like the Cheshire Cat.  Darnit...she's too dang cute. 

So I spent the next 10 minutes scrubbing Ms. Becky's office chair with papertowels, and damp sponges graciously provided by one of the other librarians.  I have to say, the chair looked very new...and they seemed happy for me to take the heat on this one.  The fabric was nice, and must have been scotch-guarded at some point.  Thank you God.  The coffee seemed to come out nicely.

I'll have to send Ms. Becky an apology note, and perhaps a travel mug with a lid:)

And so continues our Summer Reading club drama. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

WWJD? (not this time.)

Someone commented to me at the swim meet last evening about how I "must have it all together."
If I had been drinking something at the time, it surely would have come out my nose.

Not got it all together.

Today I busted my two youngest boys for peeing in the garage trash-can.

Since this is a first for me, I'm wondering (A.) do other people's kids do this stuff?  and (B.) how do you begin to respond?  I'd like to say I had a WWJD? moment.  But seriously, it was more like WTF?  (as in What the *beep*?!)  Yes, I sensor words in my head too, 'been livin with kids that long.
Seriously though, where did I go wrong here?

After a brief moment of staring confused and in disbelief, I followed the girls out to the garage to investigate.  It didn't take a rocket-scientist to notice that the garage-turned-classroom wastebasket was filled with damp papers.  Clearly the class clowns had marked their territory...and they were nowhere to be found.  Though it didn't take long for them to turn up with all their sisters scouring the house and yard, eager to bust 'em.   I'd like to say I handled things calmly, but it was nowhere near calm...or cool...definitely not collected.  I ranted briefly about them acting like wild dogs, and asked if they wanted to live in cages in the yard.  (Not my finest moment.)  But I think they got the picture, or at least know now not to pee in front of their sisters. 

I led them out to the back yard to help them empty, and clean out the wastebasket with the garden hose and soap.  All the while, flashbacks in my head of my brothers doing this same crazy stuff when we were this age.  And how we laugh about this stuff maybe I should lighten up a little. Grateful in hindsight that I didn't make them clean it out with their toothbrushes...nonsense thoughts like that actually go through my head sometime.  Thank you Holy Spirit for the strength to ignore that insanity.

Does anyone else have moments like these?  Maybe not exactly like these...but the moments that have you scratching your head wondering if their dad's dropped them when you weren't looking? 

This is just another one of those crazy so-not-got-it-all together days.

 Livin' the dream, baby.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

loop holes

I have a no-snacks-in-front-of-the-tv policy here.  This rule can only be overlooked for popcorn and a good movie.  It was put in place for obvious reasons, like carpet and upholstery to name two.  But also includes more idealistic notions like...when you're eating in front of the tv, you're not thinking about what you're eating which leads to issues with weight that I don't want my kids to go through.  Anywho...
My kids test this all the time!  I probably hollar out a dozen or more times per day..."no snacks in front of the tv!"

Charlie found a loop hole...still off the carpet/furniture...still watching his favorite cartoon. 

I spotted him out back through my kitchen window, as he was peering through to the kids tv/toy room area; tiny bowl of chips within reach.

Ah, bugger!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

time traveling

A road trip earlier this week led us over to Berne, Indiana for a step back in time...a couple hundred learn a bit about how early swiss settlers spent their days.  The kids and some of their cousins, a few of my sisters-in-law, and grandpa and me loaded into two vans for a day's adventure.

We toured the Swiss Heritage Museum, where we most enjoyed visiting the old school house and our storyteller-tour guide's animated portrayal of our school teacher.  She had us saying The Pledge, singing My Country Tis of Thee, even practicing our vowel sounds.  Several of the kids were called out for their shananigans and given proper discipline, including poor Mary who was stuck in the corner wearing a dunce cap.  She gave each of the kids a name suitable to the time period...and you can imagine the grief Frank gave her when she called him "Peter."  Oh Lord, help us.
The kids tried various pioneer games including walking on stilts, feed sack races, and "jumping the Wabash."  We also toured a home/garden, cheesemaker's home/workshop, apple cider press, a doctor's office and church. 

After the tour we drove into the center of town to see the beautiful Swiss Clock Tower and Glockenspiel (love that word.)  The clock rings beautiful chimes every hour, but at certain hours (noon, 3 and 6) it plays music and doors open high up on the tower for statues to revolve/peek out.  Very sweet.  (the kids loved laying on their backs at the tower's foot to watch the statues go round.)

From there we traveled a few blocks over to the Palmer House for pie and ice cream.  YUMM!

Our drive home was a scenic tour past Amishville Campground (where we had initially planned to visit...but it's restaurant/Amish home tour is only open on the weekends).  It was eye-opening for us all to realize how many people in that area choose to live a life without the many ammenities we've come to rely electricity, and running water, and cars, and OMG nearly every modern "convenience."  Can you imagine a life with no I-anythings (pods, pads, phones.)  Simpler, more difficult, humbling.

here are a few shots from the day...

 Sixteen of the grandkids/great-grandkids that joined in the adventure...

Our picnic lunch in a beautiful old barn.

 Poor Mary...she just didn't grasp the math lesson for the day, so this will surely help her understand.

 Before we can sit, we must all say the Pledge, and sing...

 Kids and adults trying their hand at stilt-walking.

 (above) Girls in church, and (below) boys in jail.   Hmmmm....

 The clock tower in Berne...

 Grandpa and all the kiddos...

 Waiting patiently for the show to begin...

And there it is...way up high...5foot tall statues revolving through those clock-tower doors. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Reading Club

It behooves me to be polite, and politically correct...

So I'll start by saying...yes. I love summer, and reading (reading's a good thing), and of course who doesn't love a fun club?!
Oh, when I think of the start of another summer reading club at our local library, I think games and crafts and children chillin' with a good book under the shade tree out back...ahhh, breezy, fluffy clouds, sweet's a wonderful thing.

(screeeeching brakes)

Now, my reality.

My 5 youngest can't yet read, and yet 4 of them want to win the fabulous prizes. They'll check out as many books as required...but by God, Lucy wants to win that fluffy puppy!!!!

By the grace of our Lord, we survived week one...the sign up process, and checking out our first round of books. We bring them home to read. And everyone is excited, and there are back packs and picture books scattered as far as the eye can see. Older siblings reading to younger ones, and life is lovely.

Week two comes along and it's time to have our papers checked in at the library desk. For every 10 books, we earn a "chance" ticket. Chance. Not guarantee. Chance. For all sorts of fabulous, amazing prizes. All four of the youngest along with three of the older ones are lined up with me at the desk. Except, not lined...they're clustered. Everyone anxious to get their books counted and prize "chances" in hand. Becky (the library lady) is used to crowds like us, and she's amazing. But Frank gives her a run for her money when she compliments him on his hard work. "Nice job Frank, you earned 2 tickets this week." You see, he changed his name again (to Jay) and argued with her vehemently about this. She's a professional though, and walked right through it with a brief explanation about having to use his "legal" name for now...just until he changes it with the courts. He seeemd okay with that. But she encouraged Jay to keep up the good work...and wiped the sweat from her brow as he walked away.
After we made it through that scurrying to fill out names and phone numbers on 8 or so prize tickets, kids choosing from the box of mystery prizes, and Becky reminding them to put sticky stars on their was off to check out new books (3 each), and complete the weekly puzzle page, and scope out the craft table, all the while Anne is running like a wild rooster rearranging all the books on the lower shelves. (I'm sorry Becky.) She paused only for a brief time to shimmy up into the window sill to watch construction crews out front...and then to toss a few train pieces behind the puppet show. It's a free-for-all. And I feel lucky to come out alive.

After convincing Charlie that he doesn't need to check out a 300 page book on World War 2, and promising a crying Lucy that her 2 tickets might just win her that daggon fluffy puppy, scooping Anne out of the bucket of puppets, and reminding kids that we can't just shove all the books in our packs...there's a check-out process...we indeed check out, and are on our way home.

And backpacks are tossed, forgotten into the coat closet until next week (most likely) when I speed read my way through a dozen stories about happy meadows and sweet dollies, kids lined up on the couch so "I only have to do this one time." The sad truth realized that snuggly bedtime reading or daydreaming thru a good book in a lounge chair outside just ain't gonna happen. Not in our crazy world.

But we're reading, and it's summer, and clubs are fun...and I don't know whether to pray that Lucy wins that God-forsaken fluffy puppy, or pray instead that we're in court that day with the name-changing process so that she doesn't realize some other little girl's "chance" won out.

Whoop-whoop! IT's SUMMER!

Friday, June 8, 2012

read this driving by a local church the other day...sort of touched a nerve for some reason:

"Nobody ever choked to death by swallowing their pride."


can't say enough

When I was a kid, my mom would take my brothers and me just a few miles away to "the Lake" for a day.  We would meet her sisters and their kids for an afternoon of summer fun.  Moms would lay out in bikinis they wouldn't be caught dead in anywhere else, and kids would spend hours (without sunscreen) splashing in the lake, and building sandcastles till our hearts content.  I can still smell the water in my nose, and remember the brown green color when I'd open my eyes under water...expecting I might actually find some treasure, or be able to see anything at all.
Back then (30 or more years ago) I wouldn't tell a soul that we were spending a day at Lake Loramie.  It seemed dirty, and smelly, and the beach was full of goose poop.  Seriously gross.  But it was a summer day we loved and lived for, and the moms were thrilled that us kids were entertained nearby as they chatted and sunbathed their cares away.  Of course we'd always pack a picnic lunch, and plan for an ice cream stop at the Tastee treat as we headed back into town.  Some of my favorite childhood memories.

Now, though.  My goodness.  This place is so nice and clean.  And I hate to keep the fact that we've been going there forever a secret.  Thanks to the amazing volunteers and employees at the state park campground...this place is immaculate.  The beach appears to be combed daily, the grass neatly mowed, trashcans always lined with fresh bags and not overflowing, shelters and restrooms are clean.  Its a place to be very proud of, and at a time when many other lakes in the state are battling the blue-green algae, Lake Loramie remains safe for swimming.

Anyways, I took the kids out last Sunday...John was covering some hours for a coworker who wanted to be at his daughters dance recital.  Typically we always pack a picnic lunch, but this time we only went for a couple hours in the afternoon.  It was simpler not to have to pack a cooler.  We just grabbed some towels and a bag of sandtoys and off we went.  I parked my beach chair right on the water's edge in the sand, and only sat for a few minutes before I was pulled into the castle building/moat digging/child burying in the sand extravaganza.  We all had a ball!

Little Annie scooted happily around in the sand...cheesing it up nicely.

Frank and his cup of "treasures;"  a few shells and other oddly interesting items.

Mary posing with our sand castle/moat.  There's a lot of engineering/water flow education involved in getting the water to stay where you want it, or reverse flow even.  Awesome.
Rosie posey.

It's been nice knowing you Emma...don't mind if we head out now, do ya?

Sandy bottoms...makes for a sandy bathtub when we get home. 
What goes up, must come down.  And Charlie's the king of the castle...for the moment.  Lucy has plans for an uprising.
Sandy tootsies.


Aw mom!  Do we have to go?  We were just starting to rebuild...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

for the record.

Immunizations today:

three little girls
tear drops
tender arms and thighs

Ice cream= all better.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

living the gospel

I never cease to be amazed, and humbled at the persistence and patience of the Holy Spirit.  Despite my failings, my forgetfulness, my hard-headedness, he continues to nudge me to a closer relationship with our Lord.  Always in His perfect timing. 
This evening I'm scheduled to share stories of our chaos, and faith to a group of women in Celina.  It's been a few months since I've had the opportunity to share/reflect, and as I pulled another late-nighter praying for the words to come together, I realized how much this process is necessary for me to grow in faith and awareness of His constancy in my life.

When the going gets tough...God tells me to get going. 

It's almost like cramming for a test back in college.  Except I already have the answers provided...I just need some nudging to open my eyes and heart to them.  To remember, to realize, to trust.

These last months have been nutty...scheduling, budget, all of the typical earthly stuff that weighs us down...the balls we try to keep juggling.  And just when I start to really worry, God sits me down with a pot of coffee and we talk.  Well...actually...I listen (and HE doesn't actually drink much coffee.  Maybe if I stocked up on fancy creamer?)  For a change, I lay out my worries, and then I just listen.  And my heart is filled with hope, and His love, and encouragement.  And He reminds me to trust.  And I do.  And then I start to fill the blank pages with what I know to be true...that we are not alone, ever, in our storms.  That thru God’s grace and providence we are given the tools and perspective we need to not only get thru, but to grow in his love and find a sense of lasting peace that comes from a Christ-centered life.

And I understand that I have to work to do.  It involves practice, and patience, and prayer, (and not waiting so long to invite Him in for coffee) and sharing what I have come to understand with my family, and with you; to help you to also trust.  To allow you to look beyond the chaos and see the face of the One we want to truly please.  The One who's joy is our strength (Neh.)

And I am grateful.  And I am humbled.  And I am His.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

pony rides and putt putt...

Thank you Wally Wagner for the frrrreeeeeee pony rides last week!  We love "Kids Week" at our local grocery store.  I'm not sure how long he's been offering this, but for as long as I've had kids we've been enjoying it (well at least a handful of times anyways...most years it seemed like more hassle than it was worth...but this year I took the younger half of our herd up for their first pony rides.  Everyone loved it, for sure.  (and did I mention a free hot dog and pop to wash it all down?!)  Yippee Cayaaaaah!

Oh and PUTT, PUTT.
Hope you don't mind me sharing fun new things we're finding to do this summer...along those same lines of freeeeee, or at least cheap.  That's how we roll. 
I'd heard rumors of a new miniature golf course over in St. Marys that was just built last year.  I googled it, and sure enough it's completed and was built thanks to their wonderful taxpayers (and I'm guessing some generous donations) smack dab in the middle of their K.C. Geiger park.  I'm not's beautiful.  And it's only $1 for kids 12 and under to golf 18 holes.  ($2 for adults).  It's open daily 2-9 pm and weekends noon-9p (I think) and has an attendant on duty.  ("Like" it on Facebook for more accurate details/directions...St. Marys Miniature Golf).   It's super-gorgeously landscaped with water features, and a rock mountain in the center...just amazing!  And it's in the heart of their park full of ball diamonds, a playground, basketball courts, volleyball and tennis, even a picnic shelter.  Something for everyone!  We will definitely be revisiting this park.

 I think this was our first time miniature-golfing like this...except for at the campground where they have just a couple holes...nothing like this group adventure though.
 We divided into groups of 4 or so, and moved through pretty smoothly.  Scorecards reflected the fact that we were novices...18 on a par 3...ummmm.  "We're trying for the lowest score guys...not the highest!"
 We went on Saturday afternoon while John had to work.  Myself, and the kids, plus cousin Beth who was sleeping over...  fun for all ages!
You MUST heck this place out...and take care of it while you're's really a treasure of a public park!

Monday, June 4, 2012

the trade off

It's the latest greeting these days..."So how's your summer?"  or "Glad it's summer?"
I always reply with a positive, "It's goin' great!"  or "Yes, LOVE having the kids home."
And it's true.  I love summer.

But, there's a trade-off.  With the good, comes some not-so-great.  That's life.
That trade-off revolves around the fact that all these kids are home.  They want to read, and play, and explore, and need help tying shoes, and want to go the pool, and eat (Lord, do they eat!), and snack some more, and then they want to do a craft, and help with something (anything), and dig in dirt, and turn on a sprinkler, and cut open a freeze-pop, and play a card game or do a puzzle, go to the park, and on and on.  All this stuff that I love to do with my kiddos.  LOVE it!  Love THEM!   And so...we do these things.  And we enjoy the fact that the days; our schedules allow it.  And it's wonderful (except for the grocery bill part), And we're all exhausted...and then they all fall into bed much later than on a school night, and it's a wonderful thing.  GOd is good! 
But then, I realize I've gotten absolutely NOTHING done that day.  The kind of things that I had all kinds of time to do when they were at school all day. The kind of things that dear husband notices didn't get done when he walks in from laundry, and clean-up and groceries.  When on earth will I find time to get groceries when my kids don't go to bed till 10?!  Haa! 
And so now I'm back to folding laundry at midnight, like the days when kids were littler and husband worked evening shift.  Oh, but I'm older now.  And my days are fuller, and oi.  Who wants to stay up this late anymore?  (and still get up at 7?)

I do.  Because it's summer.  And because I LOVE this tiny window of time.  This gift.  This opportunity to enjoy them entirely.  High school graduations are timed perfectly at the beginning of summer I think, as a subtle reminder that our babies grow all too fast.  (only coincidentally that it's the end of the school year too...whatever.)

Still.  It's summer.  And about the time I get used to this crazy nutty "laid-back" summer schedule, school will come around, stealing my babes away from my days once again.  And I'll be singing the praises of a schedule that allows me to fold underwear during daylight hours.  Perhaps until that time though, these glowing jars of fireflies will have to light my way through the summer laundry late-nighters.

Let the memory-making continue. 

Enjoy your summer!

Friday, June 1, 2012

monster garage

(and singing the praises of play-doh on a rainy day.)

One thing we're finally taking advantage of in our new home is the attached two-car garage in the back.   First Communion in May was the motivation we needed to finally get everything cleared out from the and other items we were holding onto but didn't really have a place for.  It needed cleared out/put away for John & Mary's party, so we either junked/donated/or put things to use.  Since the party, and the cleared out new space...we've been discovering all kinds of ways to enjoy it.  (Unfortunately, as much as we'd like to squeeze it...our 15 passenger van will never fit into a standard garage door-height opening.)  So we keep bikes lined on one side, and have this whole other area for things like school desks...and today, PLAY-DOH!  The carpeting around the edges of the garage (from the former owners) make it even more conducive to little feet padding around on cooler days.

The older 3 had things to do this morning...friends to visit, odd jobs for the grandparents, etc.  And little Anne was taking her morning nap.  It was so intensely quiet in the house as they all whoooped it up in the garage.  AWESOME!

And all this mess, swept up in a matter of scraping it off the kitchen floor.  Sweeet!
(This table was our kitchen table, many moons ago when there were just a few of us...later we cut the legs down low and can keep pull-out tubs of train pieces, or Legos, or blocks underneath.)

Anyone ever wanted to try out chalk-board paint?!  Well we tried it, and LOVE it.
For under $20 we were able to paint these two large storage doors in the garage/school play area.  Sidewalk chalkin' on rainy days...woooohoooo!

I almost feel guilty sipping on my coffee in my quiet kitchen (oh, and cleaning up after breakfast, starting chili for supper, tossing in a load of towels, and checking in with you here.)  Almost.

Peaceful, cooler day to you all.
God is good.