Something So Big

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Robin Hood's Band, the 2011 Edition

 Ever since the archery unit at Outdoor Ed, Mark has been anxious to teach our own children the sport. 
This little girl knows her way around a bow & arrow!
 Paige does pretty well, too, considering she's a lefty using a right-handed bow!
Ally hit the apple at Wyalusing, and she hasn't let up since.

 Not to be outdone by his sisters, Cy finally gets to use a weapon without getting yelled at;)
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.--Psalm 127: 4-5

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's Goin On

When we're not at summer classes, camps, practices, ball games.... we find time for fun in the sun :)
 This is how happy we look when we drive to Ally and Cy's ball games.  (yeah right!)  You should have heard this kid when she found out that Ally was playing a FOURTH game the other day at a tournament ;0)
 Cy gets to play catcher this year.  That's a very good choice for this young man.  It keeps him involved in every play!
 Ally has had several games.  She and her sixth grade classmates have to play up with the seventh and eighth grade girls, and there is a big size disparity.  I am proud of how strong she plays, even at short or third, and especially when she gets in to pitch!  At the Cuba City Tournament on Saturday in our 3rd game (vs. Kieler), she pitched one inning, striking out 2 while the 3rd batter hit out.  Our girls got second place in the tournament!  Yay Potosi!!
There's been a lot more......campfires, babysitting, yard work, teaching, and now this week it's Vacation Bible School.  Our 7th annual event has grown to 105 kids registered this year.  I have 2 hours to get the music ready so I'm signing off but ask for your prayers for those little souls to be ignited for the Lord!!!!!!!

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Psalm 118:24

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just Like the Olden Days

Our last stop in the Amana Colonies was the High Amana General Store.  It is a fabulous blend of old and new, fully operational, a living piece of history!

 There are many items made right in the Colonies from must about every category that comes to mind.
 You can even stop and play a game of checkers!  Our kids were carrying the treasures we had purchased for them at a morning garage sale in Middle Amana that day, but they were in for a real treat...
 Ice cold bottles of soda pop!  Something our children had never had before.  They thought it was so neat when the clerk popped the caps for them! The Millstream Brewery in Amana is home to several flavors of beer and soda.  Mark had cream soda, the kids sampled the root beer, while I ordered black cherry.  We drank it at our picnic lunch on the way home.  It was really good!
So many places weren't open on our visit....if we had gone a week later, they would have been.........the church, the Communal Kitchen & Cooper Shop, the Blacksmith Shop, Hahn's Hearth Oven definitely warrants another trip south.  Our family loved the Amanas and encourages you to check it out for yourself!
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.--Psalm 25: 4-5

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rockin' in West Amana!

Hey kids, why don't you set & rock a spell??
Welcome to West Amana amd the home of Iowa's largest walnut rocker!  This was built in 1983 by Schanz Furniture in South Amana, stands 11 feet tall and weighs 670 pounds. 
The rocker can be found in West Amana at the Broom & Basket Shop.  The shop carries--what else? brooms, baskets, and handcrafted wood items for all ages.
 Norman & Joanna Schanz re-opened this shop in 1972 and revived the crafts of broom-making and basket-weaving.  Many of the materials are grown right in the Colonies.  Here's where the brooms are made.
And here's Joanna taking a break from basket-weaving to show the kids how a little wooden trinket works.  It was the one hand-crafted memento I purchased on the trip.  Joanna was very kind!
 There were all kinds of marble runs, decorations, kitchen items, furniture pieces, and toys such as these.  The store has something for everyone, truly.
I can't resist the beauty of different kinds of wood put together.  Wouldn't these evergreens look glorious in a Christmas display?
 As soon as we returned home, Mark made one of these copper faucet rain gauges.  Now to find the crystal water drop!

 The lazy susans were smooth and beautiful.  I was captivated by this one, and if anyone feels the need to give us an early anniversary present, here it is ;)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.--Ecclesiastes 9:10

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Opa's Tractor Museum

West Amana is a tiny little burg right off of "220th Trail", the main drag that runs through 5 of the Amana Colonies.  It's also one of the stops you get with a Heritage Museum family pass.  Since most of the Heritage sites were still closed, we were happy to see that Opa's Tractor Museum was open that Friday we were visiting!  It's an 1883 barn with hand-pegged chestnut beams and a whole lot of memories for farmers young and old.

Can you guess what these little tractors were made out of? *answer below!

The barn is filled with (of course) tractors and other old farm implements.  Mark showed the kids how folks like mine used to pick up & transport hay.  See the tines up top right?  There's also a pulley up at the peak...we have a lot of this kind of stuff in our living room!  
Those tines would come in handy for picking up unruly kids, too

Opa must have had an affinity for Minnie Mo's  (Minneapolis Molines) because there were a bunch of 'em!

We saw all kinds of marble runs in the Amana Colonies, but nothing as big as this bowling ball run in the barn!

There was also a room sectioned off with more miniature replicas of farm life.  This one reminded me of the times that I would ride up to the fields with Mom to deliver lunch for my dad and brothers.  Nothing as elaborate as this, but some similarities remain.  A farmer has to keep working when the conditions are just right, no matter what time of the day it is!
You couldn't help but notice all of the gallon ziploc bags of water hanging from the tractors.  The boy working at the museum that day told me that the sun's reflection in the bags kept away the flies!  It did seem to work, actually!
'See that sign about the "Largest Solid Walnut Rocker" in the back?  That was our next stop in West Amana...stay tuned for tomorrow's post!

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.--Ecclesiastes 11:6

*sewing machines!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Sampling of Amana Shops and Factories

Our family really enjoyed the Amana Colonies and could easily go back for another visit.  We didn't get to see everything on our "daycation", and some of the museums weren't open yet in early June.  However, the shops in today's post are open nearly every day of the year and you can find them in Amana, the main village of the Colonies.  (The other towns include West Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, East Amana, South Amana, and Homestead.)  One such stop was the Amana Woolen Mill, still in operation today.

Take a look at the size of that loom!  Now that's a LOOMING loom!!

One of the first electric-powered looms looked like this.  Notice the classic plaid woolen blanket being made.  The mill is known all over the country (and world) for its well-constructed woolen and cotton blankets, including being used by the U.S. Army.  Ernest Borgnine also was pictured with some of the workers and was a big promoter of Amana blankets ;)

This little Fraulein likes the Amana scarves!

Our next stop that day was the Amana Furniture Shop.  Every piece of furniture in there is gorgeous and is handcrafted by ONE man working in their shop, like this guy.
In addition to their own clocks, there is a whole wall of cuckoos imported from the Black Forest of Germany.  A saleslady was kind enough to set most of the cuckoos off for us.  It was a treat!

Goldilocks couldn't decide which chair was "just right" !  They were all so darling.
The tourist brochures say that "no trip to the Colonies is complete without a visit to the Amana Meat Shop & Smokehouse."  I agree wholeheartedly!  If you love that meat locker smell and samples of everything from cheese to pretzel dip to beef jerky, this is the place for you.  We purchased some cheese curds for lunch here and give this place 14 thumbs up!
There are several whimsical shops in the Amanas, including Grapevine Antiques.  Shae met a new friend there :)
There are oodles of more shops in just the village of Amana alone.  We tried to hit most of them, but some have to be left for another day.  (And 6 other villages to visit!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dad's Day

Handmade wishes  from Daddy's four girls
I really wanted to get a picture of Mark and the kids for Father's Day...but somehow it never happened! 
A rainy morning worked itself into a sunny afternoon.  After church we headed over to Grandpa Donny's house for a cook-out.  Mark took the younger kids on a ride with his dad's Ranger.  They had a great time riding over to see the animals at the college farm!
Mark, Wynne & Sara's daughter Brooke

Uncle Joe gave Cy some pointers for playing catcher.  Cy hadn't played any games yet (they were all rained out), so it was a good time to practice!
Uncle Joe, Cy, & Uncle Ryan

Grandpa is letting Mark and Cy fix up this old "hog".  I forget how many miles this thing gets to the gallon, but I've heard many tales of adventure from my husband's boyhood days.  Looks like more fun adventures are to come!

We went over to see my dad and mom in the early evening.  Mom had the quintessential Sunday dinner, roast beef and baked potatoes.  (We ate too much that day!)  Mark showed the kids around the farm, in particular the barn where their mother used to help milk cows.  Lots of memories flood over me whenever I return to the farm.

Mom, niece Kaycie, & Dad

My sister Marla and brother-in-law Paul had us up to their house for an evening campfire.  Their back yard patio is such a beautiful place! 

Brother Dan and sister-in-law Tammie came over with their girls after a softball game.  Tammie's had a challenging spring, with two surgeries to repair a broken elbow she incurred the day after Valentine's Day.  We pray for her therapy and recovery to work this time around!

Paul, Mark, Dan & Tammie

Just another great summer dayof worship and family time!  We are so lucky!

Paige, Wynne & Aunt Marla

Specially designed Dad & Truck from a Lego-lovin' son

Happy Father's Day to all dads! including my own dad and the father of my children!  Love you lots!!

And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Whoopin' it up at the Wasserbahn!

Since we arrived in the Amana Colonies on Thursday afternoon and didn't have to be home again till Friday afternoon, what better place to stay than the Clarion Inn & Wasserbahn Waterpark Resort in "Little Amana"?
We booked a large room that could accommodate our entire family, and the best part was their mid-sized waterpark.  I say mid-sized because it was smaller than most Dells attractions, but larger than the little water attractions like at Country Inn of Prairie du Chien.  It's hard to believe that my kids are almost "too big" for the watering holes like this one now!
My baby climbed up the 4-story "silo" to ride down both the "slow" and the "fast" waterslides.  Here she is coming down the "slow" barrel!
The green slide was slower, just the way I like it.  Wootsie got bored with it and graduated up to the fast, twisty red slide!
The waterpark, along with the hotel, is all Amana-themed.  Note the millrace behind the water tower.  The real Amana Millrace was a 7-mile-long canal that the colonists built to harness water power for their two textile mills and one flour mill.

Besides the whirlpool (which literally is a large circular swirl of water) and the hot springs (sauna), there is a sizeable swimming pool with basketball hoop.  On Thursday evening, we had the whole place to ourselves until a few other families came.  Still, it was wonderfully relaxing, as there were only about fifteen people in the waterpark total.  It was great!!
The hotel lobby has a high ceiling and resembles a fancy barn.  There are convention rooms and a restaurant in this area, as well.
Ally and Cy checking out the lobby...Ally has her new contacts in!
The Wasserbahn is about 10 minutes south of Amana, right along Interstate 80.  There are a few shops, restaurants and gas station clustered with the hotel at this intersection which the locals call "Little Amana".
After driving back from our fantastic supper at the Ox Yoke Inn, we all retired to our hotel room for a "good" night's sleep.  I say that with quotation marks because our family doesn't like sharing beds very well. ;)
We hit the waterpark in the morning, then went on our way back to Amana for more touring.  Our stay at the Wasserbahn was very enjoyable...except for the part where we left a bag of laundry in the room on our check-out!  (A case of he-thought/she-thought the other person had it...) Dang.  Anyone going to Amana in the next 90 days?!