Something So Big

Friday, July 31, 2009

Good Teams

Odds & ends, end-of-the-month "camera house cleaning"!

I finally figured out how to transfer a picture from the internal memory of my camera to the memory card. (Thank you, Walmart Photo Lady!) The night of our anniversary date, Mark and I had the waiter from Fried Green Tomatoes take a picture of us to mark the occasion. I think the last time we had a picture taken, just the two of us, was before kids! So about eleven years ago.

Ally's 3rd & 4th grade coach pitch team finished up their season this week. She had a great game, hit a triple and turned a double play from first to third! There were 3-4 players missing, but they did fine. Here's the obligatory team silly shot:

Mark had his middle school and high school football camps this week. That means, time to measure and paint the practice fields! Paige is her daddy's little buddy; she spent over 3 hours running errands and holding the measuring line for him. We all came over to help, but Paige stuck it out with Dad the longest. Here she is, following him on his return trip around a field, hanging on by the Promise of Powerade.

Here are the boys who played in the middle school camp this week, along with their high school player coaches. (Can you see the weather we were getting ??)

All in all, some pretty good teams there.

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!--Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Picnics, Then & Now

Remember your Sunday School picnics growing up? I remember going to the Belmont Park, just a few blocks up from our church, and having a good ol' time with my friends and family. We played on the swingset (nothing like the wonderful playgrounds of today, mind you--think metal, chains, and potential health hazards, all that good stuff). We did gunny sack races and won tickets for -- wonder of all wonders! -- bottles of soda pop. Orange! Grape! Cherry! Lime! Oh, heavenly day! I still like bottled pop, but when do you get it? (I mean, a cold GLASS bottle?) We ate desserts from the potluck line first, and our parents let us go and have fun. I don't remember my mom or dad hovering over us. Ever.

But then again, we didn't go as many places as our children do today. We didn't have water parks, playlands, and all the kid-friendly places that abound today. ToysRUs was nonexistent; heck, Walmart wasn't around yet. We had one department store in the town seven miles away, but I don't remember getting any toys or clothes there. My mom made most of our clothes. (The rest were from garage sales or hand-me-downs.) And who cared? I sure didn't!

So when I think of the Sunday School family cook-out that we had at our house the other night, I wonder if the kids had the same feelings that I used to feel at such gatherings. Was it fun? Was the food yummy? Did you just eat one dessert and maybe a smidgeon of your Mom's food (because you didn't trust anybody else's cooking?)

Were you experiencing the time of your life, only to have your merriment dashed by a bonk to the head?

(Oh, I forgot about the bounce houses & water slides we-- We sure didn't have that kind of inflatable fun back when I was a kid!)

Did you have fun chasing after and catching the chickens? (I was very, very afraid of our chickens growing up. Has that fear gone away due to my "bigness" or the fact that we don't have a psychotic rooster in the coop?)

Was the lawn mower ride as much fun as they used to be? (I'm thinking so.)

Was the campfire as much smoky fun as they used to be? (Oh yeah!!)

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."--Matthew 18:3

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rain, Trains, & Automobiles

Last week we wandered our way over to west of Argyle to the Toy Train Barn.
Train engineer Buck Guthrie and his wife Jan are some of the friendliest, most creative people you'll ever meet. Eight years ago they turned their working dairy barn into a museum for Buck's ever-growing model train collection. But this is not your average model train collection. Buck has added PERSONALITY to it...PIZAZZ! I don't know how else to describe it. You just have to go see it for yourselves!
Jan greeted us at the barn door with a smile and an "I Spy" game for the kids. Could they find Santa Claus (climbing up the spray foam insulation Mount Rushmore)? Can you see the working fire truck, complete with running water to put out the burning building?

How about the guy waxing his car, or the couple fooling around at the drive-in movie? (Nope, that part wasn't on the I Spy game ;)

Since Mark and I both grew up milking cows, it was especially fascinating for us to see how a retired farmer transformed his barn into this wonderland of joy for all ages.

Trust me, I get bored watching trains go round and round...but this was not boring at all. The kids loved pushing the buttons to see what would light up or move, and Jan's clay people were fabulous. Fishing, working, going to the zoo, riding the subway, whatever -- the scenes weren't to "perfect scale", as she noted, but what fun and imagination they inspired in us!

The rain kept us from riding the 12" railroad that meanders a mile over their farm (and is still, like the barn, a work-in-progress), but we still enjoyed feeding the rabbits and checking out their souped-up 1954 Ford.
Buck and Jan travel to classic car shows, model railroad shows, and even set up one of their huge displays for nursing homes and schools. I was so impressed with their enthusiasm (they went out of their way to talk with every separate tour group who was visiting at the time) and resourcefulness (Buck uses old computer printer cartridges, plastic containers, working car defrosters, microwave parts, and vacuum cleaner motors in his displays). Like a little kid, his eyes light up as he tells of his next projects. The joy truly is in the process, not in the final product.
I think you can tell - we had a great time at the Toy Train Barn!

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. --Philippians 1:6

Freaky Friday

Last Friday was a weird one. All over the emotional Richter scale. I cut the grass for about an hour and a half, then I found out that my dad went into the hospital early in the morning because of some bleeding (trying to avoid TMI here). We had planned a "family day outing" because it was a free afternoon for Mark before football camps hit. My sister told me that Dad was resting and couldn't take visitors, we decided to go on our outing as planned. So we traveled over to Argyle to a little railroad museum for a few hours. It was a whimsical, joyful place to be--I'll save it for another blog post!

Okay, we knew there were some storms forecasted for the afternoon, but we had no idea they were going to be so severe, sporadic, and recurring. On our drive home around 5:00 p.m., they hit. Just west of Darlington we were forced to pull over because the hail came fast and HARD. The kids were pretty good about it, but Mark was thinking, "Oh great - we just bought this Suburban and now we're getting hail damage." There was nothing we could do.

After a few minutes, the hail let up, and we proceeded to make our way home. We couldn't see any hail damage on the vehicle, thank God, but acres upon acres of corn were shredded to pieces as we drove through Lafayette County. We received a phone call from Mark's brother Joey--he had driven 14 hours back from Georgia for the weekend!--so we made our way over to my father-in-law's farm to visit a bit. After watching the weather forecast for more storms, we quickly decided that it wasn't the best time to "visit"--it was time to get home before the next one hit! So we raced through the pouring rain, back into the Burb, and headed west through Platteville to get home.

Bad idea. There were power lines down in some city streets, and the curbs were full of gushing water. Flash flood time! Having a good memory of being stranded last year, Mark knew that our road would most likely be impassable, so we drove over to my sister's house to wait out the storm. The kids loved it, running around their large basement with their six cousins (most the same age as our kids). My sister Julie and I talked about my Dad's health situation. The cause of the bleeding was not known yet, and there was some kidney failure. Dad was very weak and resting, and we called over to find out that he and Mom had been herded into his hospital room bathroom (tubes, machines and all) to ride out the brunt of the storm. Dad is 79, a lifelong farmer, and NOT a fan of the medical profession (whom he has called "The Skin Factory" in reference to the exorbitant costs of health care). Can you imagine how happy he was to be left in the bathroom in his condition, forgotten about until Mom finally peeked her head into the hall 30 minutes later to ask, "Can we come out now??" Ah, it makes me laugh actually. Sorry Daddy!

Okay, back to waiting out the storm at my sister and brother-in-law's house. Two hours passed, and I called one of our neighbors to see what the road conditions were. When we learned that the road was fine, we headed home around 8:00 p.m. This is what we saw upon our arrival home:

Here's a better shot, the next morning:

It had to be the GOOD apple tree. Not the half-dead one standing right next to it. >WAHH!!!<
Oh well. At least the wind damage was limited to two tree casualties and a ton of debris. Nobody was hurt; the animals were fine, and there were no power lines taken out. It was a lot worse in other places.
The kids made us proud. They got to work right away, gathering up branches and cleaning the yard. They kept saying things like, "The sky looks so beautiful right now" and "At least we are all safe." Amen to that!

The next day was a beautiful day. We worked in the yard from sun-up to 4:00 p.m. The chainsaw blade broke, so we didn't get the big tree cleaned up, but the whole yard was raked and cleaned. Given that our yard is about five acres, you can maybe appreciate that it was a tad bit of work. But we had motivation because we were hosting our Sunday School family cook-out that evening at 4:30!!

Heck, Uncle Joey even came to help with the clean-up. All the way from Georgia, right Joe?

The best part of the day was learning that my dad has a stomach ulcer (a small one which is treatable) and his kidneys were stabilizing. He still has lots of other issues including his emphysema, asthma, and high blood pressure, but he has a new doctor who is more vigilant, thorough and progressive with his health care--and for that, my family is very grateful.
And the cook-out was pretty fun, too!

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.--Lamentations 3:22-23

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Comes After T-ball...U-Ball?**

My life slowed down a lot this week. T-ball is over. What do I do with my free time on Monday and Wednesday mornings now? (I know! Post on the blog! LOL)

Actually, I kind of miss it. Lugging a box of crackers and 4 bottles of water across the football field to see one child play at the baseball field, while 2 others battle it out on the softball field. Hoping that Wynne doesn't have to "go potty" while we are over on the baseball field because the choices are: A) Smelly portapotty, or B) walk half a mile over to the school and use the closest restroom. Moms know that neither choice is appealing.

Back to the game. Paige played 3rd baseman for her last game of the season. One of those rare times we remembered to take our ball gloves to the field! (Usually, the water bottles took precedence over ball gloves. Go figure.)

Roosie running to second. Check out that form!

My children have imposed the EIO (similar to, but not to be confused with, the QEO of my husband's teacher contract language). The EIO is "Equal Inning Opportunity", which in all essence means, "Mom you have to watch as much of my game as you watched of my sister's game!!" So in light of the EIO, we watched two innings of Paige's game, then mosied on over to Shae & Cy's game. For some reason, this year the siblings were all placed on different teams. (So I had 3 kids on 3 different teams, 2 always playing against each other. Made for some interesting pre- and post-game conversations in the Suburban.)
Hurry up, Wynnie! We have to get over to the softball field before Shae gets to bat! Because in addition to the EIO, there is also the WMB obligation. Watch me bat!!

Before I forget, these little girls had to play with 3rd and 4th graders last week when Ally's team was short on players. Paige and Shae graduated from t-ball to coach pitch in less than 8 hours last week. It was kind of stressful for them, but I think they had fun. Shae ("Team Green") actually had two decent hits!
So here she is, running the bases and leaving her big brother wondering, "How did she get to be so good?"

I love watching Cy in the field. Ever the social butterfly, he is more interested in talking with his best buddy Will than in the action of the game. T-ball? Phht...I'm way past this. Boring.

Of course, when it is time for the Big Slugger to bat, he has to wear his batting gloves. You just can't get a good grip on the bat without your gloves, right Cyrus?

After every game, Cy would announce, "We creamed them." Even though there are no outs, everybody bats each inning, and they don't keep score. We creamed them.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.--Ecclesiastes 1:9

**This entire post is written tongue-in-cheek. I love my kids and I love sports ! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wynne's World, Wynne's World... time...excellent!!
Ah, takes me back to my college years of watching Saturday Night Live. (Back when there was time, sleep wasn't a sacred commodity, and I actually watched TV once in a while.)
Not that our daughter reminds me anything of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, although I suppose her hair DOES resemble Garth sometimes !!

As I uploaded pictures last night, I realized we had a very busy week that was all over the place (in terms of location, events, and company). I thought I would try to sum it up with my own take on how Wynne might tell it...
So here is "Wynne's World July 12-18, 2009."
Sunday: Church day! I like putting on a pretty dress and playing with my felt friends on the church pew. For about 2 minutes, anyway. Then we go to Tashners' house where Daddy is doing some yard work. Garrison (my cousin 2 months older than me) doesn't like sharing his toys, especially his jeep!

Garrison tries to get me to take the Cozy Coupe, but I like this one with the motor in it. (Who wants to use their feet when they can ride in style??) (Mom's note: Typical man. Backseat driver!!)

As you see, I get my way. (After all, I am the guest, aren't I?)

We go to some "Moving Wall" thing at the college. It is huge and people are very quiet and sad. Daddy tells us that these names are of all the people who died for us during a war. The flags are so pretty and the whole thing is huge. Bigger than I can understand!

Monday: Mom didn't take any pictures today. We went to t-ball and played "Pally" Pockets. I like to put lots of water in the playsets, but Mom doesn't like that!
Tuesday: Play date with Annika and Ava!! I love my Ava. She comes over to my house and we play dress up. I like being twins with her. We have lots of fun!!

More t-ball. I like talking with my friends. I make new friends everytime we go, especially babies. Go Chieftains!!

Thursday: We go to (Aunt)Debby's house. It takes a long, long time to get there but it is fun. They have lots of hills and Eli (Deb's grandson) plays with us. I like to help in the kitchen, and Debby has a neat can opener. She lets me open a can of beans. (Mom's note: We're in Norwegian country where baked beans are a required food at every meal. Right, Arlie??)

I LOVE babies. I get to meet my newest second cousin, Lilly. My cousin John and (his wife) Andrea had her. Andrea used to have a big belly, last time I saw her. Baby Lilly is a lot smaller than me, and she is very soft!

Uncle Arlie has a Ranger. It's a lot of fun! We go riding in the hills. They call them coulees. I have to sit down when it's running, dang it!

Friday: On our way back home, we drive through a really big town (LaCrosse) and stop at this wonderful park. (Myron-Hixon Eco-Park) The zoo is closed until next year when it will be bigger. But the playground is still open!! YAY!!!!

There are even rings just for me! I can reach them all by myself!

After we get home, I take a nap. I'm really tired from all this driving! Then we go to my Aunt Julie's birthday party. It's a surprise! I skip all of the good food and eat cake. Then I eat some more cake. Rheann holds me sometimes. I have lots of cousins.

Saturday: We go over to Grandma Jan's house for her birthday. I like baby Kierta. She is crawling and almost walking. I like to crawl with her!
Aunt Marin teaches me how to jump rope. (It's harder than it looks!)

That night we go to Uncle Dan and Aunt Tammie's house. Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper! There are some big fireworks. Claire and Catherine (more cousins!) watch them with us. They are the biggest, brightest, loudest fireworks I've ever seen!

I go night-night. Love, Wynne

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. --2 Peter 3:18

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Independence Revisited

In the midst of planning for VBS and a speaking engagement for my business, I let the 4th of July slip by without posting on it. I think Independence Day is my favorite holiday of the whole year because it's fairly inexpensive, we're not bogged down with gift-giving and figuring out where we're going to fit all of the new stuff, it's usually pretty nice out, I love the colors and all things Americana, and I'm proud to live in a country that was founded on certain values and opportunities. (Notice I said "founded on"; some days I am not sure if we haven't strayed from those values a bit...) Oh, and Mark proposed to me on the 4th of July fifteen years ago! Very cool memories.

We celebrated the 4th with Mark's side of the family, traveling over to the Darlington/Shullsburg countryside to visit at his sister's new home. It's a beautifully renovated farmhouse with a grand view of the gentle hills of southwest Wisconsin. Corn fields, pastures, and red barns. Scenery that we take for granted. The kids enjoyed playing with their cats next to the cornfield.

A 4th of July picnic is not complete without at least one red, white, and blue food. I made my first attempt at fruit pizza this year. I was so proud of myself!

We got to see our little niece Mady Boots. (It's actually Madyson Ruth, but Great-Grandma Ruth was called Boots long before any of us can remember.) Isn't she adorable?

Ally talks her dad into catching her pitches at every family get-together. She is practicing her softball pitch. ALL. THE. TIME. I tell you, the kid's got an arm on her.

Here's a rare shot of her batting. She loves to hit the ball hard, but usually she prefers to play catch or pitch. Definitely takes after her dad and her godmother Aunt Marla in this area. Growing up, my sister Julie and I would irritate Marla because she would beg us to play ball with her. We would both hit off her pitches in a game of 500, but then when it was Marla's turn to bat, we would be too tired/bored to play anymore and abandon her! Poor thing. I just had no desire to play softball very much. I have a black eye story to prove it. But AllyGirl...well, she just never stops playing sports. She's amazing. Uncle Ryan calls her a "freak" -- in a good way.

Wynne and her cousin Trevin (a year older than her) spent some time reading and drawing in the upstairs hallway. How cool is this "reading nook" area? Give me a sunlight, soft carpeting, and a cozy space and I'll read anyday. Or sleep.

Did you catch Wynne's Oreo mustache-beard? She inhaled those things. We don't have Oreos at our house, so she was all over them!

Gotta have the sparklers. The magic of Independence Day is that for one day a year, we let kids independently play with fire. I'm sure that's what our founding fathers were hoping for in 1776, right?

Uncle Glenn bought some major home fireworks for our own personal light show. And I mean MAJOR. They were really big and quite impressive! Let me just sum it up by saying that every family has at least one family member who has a bit of a crazy, reckless side to them, someone who will risk life and limb (and many times, significant dollars) to provide quality entertainment for the whole family. On my side, it's my brother Brian. On Mark's side, it's Glenn.

During the fireworks, he kept saying, "Keep an eye out for the cops!" Nuff said.

The next evening, my husband had his own daredevil scene when we were trying to find the "perfect" spot for our new barn star. Back up the story: We went out for our anniversary and saw this gigantic barn star in a Galena shop. Well, it wasn't this exact star. The first one we saw didn't have a circle around it. We didn't buy anything the night of our "date", but we thought about it, researched (ebay price checked) it and decided to get one as an anniversary gift to ourselves. We found a much cheaper one (even though it has a circle, I can live with that)on the morning of the 4th at Red's Auction House. Mark's favorite gift shop now! (Not that he had a favorite before; okay it was probably Hobby Lobby, but overall Mark is not a "gift shop" kind of guy.) Anyway, we bought this ginormous barn star and put it up in a big blank space on the back of our house, overlooking the patio. I wanted it up near the top of the roof (What do you call that part where the two roofs join, the top of the triangle? I'm illiterate), but that was about 10 feet higher than Mark's comfort zone. Since I am not physically able to hoist a large tin star and drill it into the siding 20 feet above a stone patio, I agreed that the spot above the patio doors was perfect. Looks great, honey!

Because you see, kids, Independence Day is really all about freedom. The freedom to choose life!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.--Galatians 5:1