Something So Big

Friday, September 30, 2011

Precious Gems

The girls spent a "sick day" a few weeks ago getting some fresh air and designing their own garden stones!  Paige received a kit from her godmother Aunt Deb a while back, and she was kind enough to let her sisters "share" some of the concrete.
Paige's mold (green) was full of pretty butterflies and flowers.  It came in a kit with the concrete and some shiny colorful stones.
We made the other girls' molds by cutting the bottoms off of some flimsy plastic flower pots.
Ally took hers one step further and lined the pot (which had holes in it) with paper, to make an even surface for the top of the eventual garden stone.

 The finished products are delightful!  Thank you Aunt Debby!  (The girls are pretty precious, too;)


She is worth far more than rubies.--Proverbs 31:10

Monday, September 26, 2011

For the Love of the Game

He has four sisters and is especially good to the littlest one...when he's not teasing her.
His dad's coaching ability is rubbing off on him!
Turn off the TV.  Why watch college ball when you can get this good stuff LIVE?
The running back picks up a lot of sideline yardage...and a lot of giggles, too!
When the TP is picked up and the grass is cut, the yard beckons for some play time.
It's cold enough for hats, but apparently warm enough for short sleeves and shorts. ?
Somebody just learned how to throw a spiral.  I hope she can teach her mother!
They talked their mom and dad into playing kickball later that evening.  It was the most fun I've had in a long time.  We need more of that.  Kid-constructed, outdoor play time.  It doesn't get any better than this!

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.--Mark 10:15

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Can't Get Enough of Living Waters!

This weekend our Sunday School families took a bus up to Westby to visit Living Waters Bible Camp for Animal Kingdom Day.  It was an excellent way to cement the lesson we're learning this month about God's creation being "Very good"!  Don't you just love this Bucket Brigade?
Shae in car 2, Wynne in car 5

Every single staffer at Living Waters is friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and devoted to sharing God's Word and His love.  Tim led the session on birds and reptiles, where we met a friendly parrot and Ziggy, the box turtle.  He's 12 years old, about 25 pounds, and still growing!    It was fun watching him eat colorful food off of the ground with his tongue.
 Wynne was terrified of the snakes, even this little milk snake.  Can't say as I blame her; I don't appreciate snakes either!!  But Brie was very good about touching the snakes.
 When Tim brought out Veronica, Wynne ran outside and watched through the window!!
 Andrew led the session on brown trout raising.  After showing us the part of the camp where the spring literally bubbles up out of the ground, we walked a bit to see a larger stream where they raise these trout from eggs (in the picture) to sac flies (in the jar) to little baby trout (I can't remember their technical name) to trout!
 Here we see the trout being fed as naturally (with a electronically-timed shaker) as possible.  Andrew emphasized that they are trying to get the trout used to not being fed at one spot, but through many spots sprinkled throughout the water.  This will help the trout to survive in their natural environment (the river) at maturity.  Andrew did an excellent job of pointing out all of the features that God designed into the trout to enable them to survive.
 Joy led the session on mammals in the science center.  Ally is a bit apprehensive about petting the skunk, but don't worry--she's been "de-scented".  She still scared me when I held her and she held up that big furry tail....there was a smell there, but Joy assured us it was just the rest of her natural scents and hormones.  !!
 This little monkey is on loan from a zoo, and he's still a baby (and was wearing a preemie diaper).  He didn't stay still very long... you can tell!
 Just like human babies, he likes to put everything in his mouth;)
 The executive director is my friend Dennis.  The nature center/Creation Museum wasn't supposed to be open that day, but Dennis did us a personal favor and took us on a quick tour through it anyway.  I wanted the kids to walk through the 6 Days of Creation that they have masterfully crafted into exhibits in this building.  Dennis is a pro at fielding all kinds of questions, scientific, doubting, engineer in his former life, he is extremely intelligent and welcomes our questions.  He's also on FIRE for Jesus!!  I could listen and talk with him all day. 
 On the 6th day, God capped his Creation by making US--male and female--in His image.  Isn't it awesome and humbling ??
 There was a bit of rain, but we managed to dodge most of it and had a great day at camp.  Several kids and parents asked, "When are we going back?" as soon as we boarded the bus again.  Hopefully soon!  Thanks Living Waters!
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight… Ephesians 1:4

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Upcycled Fashions

Last month the girls and I went shopping for wedding outfits.  We were working around a pretty black dress that Shae wore, and we built the other girls' outfits around that.  Ally had a dress closely resembling Shae's, but she chose to wear a different black top and skirt that were given to her by another friend.  Yes, we are the House of Hand-me-downs and proud of it!!  When we saw the white dress on e-bay, I just knew we had to get it for Paige.  It was a few sizes too big, but all I had to do was shorten the shoulder straps.  So the black dress was free and the white dress was $12.00 total (including shipping).  Plus the ribbon which I picked up at Goodwill for 69 cents a spool, so add $1.38 to that. 

Wynne wanted to wear something of similar fabric and design, so we set about looking for the perfect dress.  I wasn't willing to go online and spend $40-50 for a brand new dress (the designer is Amy Byer), so we were limited in that regard.  One day we were at the Platteville Thrift Shop and my eyes fell upon this tube top in the juniors department.  Could I make it work, with my limited sewing skills?
I gave it a shot, and I think it turned out pretty sweet!  I cut it at the side seam, took it in, and added some black ribbon shoulder straps.  Total cost = $1.25.
The triangular hem was a cut off on one side, so her skirt went down on just one side, but the lacy overlay gave it a Bohemian feel.  Go with it, friends.  Just go with it!
I scored three black t-shirts at the Bargain Nook in Platteville for 25 cents each, so I wore one under a top I bought at the thrift shop, while I turned the other 2 into shrugs for the twins.  (You didn't think I was going to let them go bare-shouldered in September, did you!!)  I found an easy pattern somewhere online (look up t-shirt shrugs) and threaded ribbon through them.  Finding a black t-shirt for Wynne was a little tougher (smaller size), as I scoured 4 different thrift shops and finally caved and bought a new shirt at Target...however, it was on clearance for $2.25 so I guess I can live with that.  (It's just hard to justify cutting up a brand new shirt!  But the shrugs turned out so cute, I think!!)  Total cost of 3 girls' shrugs = $2.75.  I found a wonderful swingy black skirt at the thrift shop, my outfit total was $2.75 as well. 

I was proud of the fact that Cy wore his pink shirt to "go" with my colors...I was hoping we'd all fit in the silver/black/pink/burgundy color scheme, but Mark and Ally had other ideas.  Everyone looked really snazzy and I couldn't be more pleased with the results.   If I had a decent head of hair this could be our Christmas family picture!! (Actually, we are hoping to put black long-sleeved shirts under the girls' dresses...or throw on black or white cardigan sweaters...for Christmas.)
How To Dress Four Girls for $20.13, the new e-book coming your way from AJS Publishing;)

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” --Revelation 21:5

Monday, September 19, 2011

Truly a Badger Wedding

Saturday we attended my nephew's wedding in Madison.  Kyle and Mary met as students at UW-Madison, so the festivities were held in our capitol city.  Aside from the parking, Madison is a fun town to visit.  The whole affair was gorgeous and it all started at this exquisite church, Luther Memorial on campus.
 Kyle is in his second year of law school, and Mary works for an insurance company (but don't be bored--she is an art history major!).  They have dated for several years and are a very sweet couple.  Mary is just a nice, nice girl and--thank the Lord--she chose to NOT wear the usual strapless gown.  Thank you Mary for choosing a beautiful, flattering, modest yet elegant gown!!  (Have I told you lately how much I hate the strapless dresses?)  Okay, back to the wedding.  There was a choir in the balcony singing as the bride walked down the aisle, her own pastor read Scripture, and this pastor pictured (the resident pastor) gave a very special message on how Kyle and Mary can commit to each other like Ruth committed to Naomi, relying on their loved ones for help through the trials that inevitably come our way.
 Mary loves books (I may have mentioned in the shower post last month), so everything was book-themed, with a vintage feel.  Instead of signing a guest book, the couple requested their guests to bring an old book/favorite story and sign our names on the inside cover.  How unique and thoughtful!  The cocktail hour was held in the Hall of Ideas at the Monona Terrace, where young ladies welcomed you and escorted you to the library area (where you could either drop off your book or sign the guest book they had just-in-case), then over to a board of keys.  Each key had a tag on it with your name, and on the back was written your table number for the reception.  Again, quite unique and charming.
The young ladies working at the cocktail hour reminded me of the Price is Right Girls....all dressed similarly, with big friendly smiles, eager to help :) I should have taken a picture of the Price is Right Girls.
Okay, back to the wedding.  Show me the cake!! Love me some cake.  Here is the cake, I guess, although I didn't see the bride and groom cut into it.  And there was no stuffing-into-each-other's-faces part.  This wedding was a bit more sophisticated than that;)  (Actually, now that I think of it, Mark and I never stuffed cake into each other's faces, either.  Gee, I guess that makes us sophisticated, too!)

The panda cake was for the groom.  Kyle and his dad (my brother Ken) went to Australia last year, and somebody told me that Kyle's nickname is Panda.  ?

Ah, the food.  Here are my little lovelies (and big hunk-a-love in blue in the back) ready to be served their chicken tenders or sirloin.  I didn't know I missed Cy's face, but you can see it in the cork container if you really squint!;)

Six years ago, we attended Uncle Jamey & Aunt Elle's reception is this same room.  The view of Lake Monona is breathtaking!

I will have to write a separate post on how we prepared the girls for this wedding.  The excitement of dressing up for a wedding and dance built up for over a year.  Paige looks a lot taller than Shae in this picture, but there isn't that much difference in reality.  She was just wearing heels, while Shae wore flats.  See the yellow wristbands?  They are for their cousin Crystal (who we visited in the hospital between the wedding and the reception).  Love you Crystal!!
 I found out last week that my son's current favorite color is pink.  I didn't know that, but I don't dispute it...I think he looks fantastic in pink!  (It happens to be a favorite of mine, as well;)   As you can see, the dance was super-fun.  The DJ did a great job of involving everyone, and there weren't awkward moments.  For example, the wedding party dance included everyone, not forcing groomsmen to dance individually with bridesmaids who may or may not be interested in them. ;) There were a lot of group dances to avoid those awkward moments.

 The bride and groom are a lovely couple.  I especially enjoyed how they asked every married couple to join them on the dance floor, then you had to leave if you were married "5 years or less", 10 years or less, 15, 25, 40, .... The last couple on the floor should have been my mom and dad (61 years), but they had just left.  So Kyle's maternal grandparents took the crown with 55 years. 
 Aren't they the cutest thing??  And let's talk about this dress again.  I mean, how delightful is this bride in her gown??!
 The cousins get's been a few years since a family wedding!!  Always a BLAST!!
 And look who crashed the party!! BUCKY BADGER!!!! 
 The garter removal...(Bucky's covering his eyes)......
 ...and the Engelke Outlaw skit.  I can't remember when this started, but whenever you marry into the Engelke family, the in-laws have an initiation at the wedding dance.  For Mark, it was the Packer Polka (because he's a Bear fan).  They took it easy on Mary, going with a Cinderella theme where everyone tried a shoe on her until Kyle came out with her shoe and proved to be her true love.  My girls gladly gave up their shoes for the skit ;)
 Cy has dreams of playing football for the Badgers some day.  Even if that dream doesn't come true, it's good to have goals and it sure doesn't hurt to dream a little bit!
Best Wishes, Kyle and Mary!  Thanks to you and your parents for throwing a great party!

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.--Ruth 1:16

Thursday, September 15, 2011

See You on the Flip Side!

Our niece Crystal turned 27 on Tuesday and spent 14 hours in surgery on Wednesday (yesterday).  Having neck and back pain for years, she went in for an MRI last week when she noticed her fingers on both hands getting numb.  Doctors found a pinkie-sized tumor growing between cervical vertebrae 3 and 4 on her neck.  Is it cancer?  They don't know for sure, but they are thinking not because of its slow rate of growth and isolation. 

Crystal (or "Trystal" as her big brother Jared used to call her) is a sweetheart, always ready with a bright smile and a hug.  She is a lot like her daddy (my brother Brian), very passionate, and I cried when I read her blog post last week that spoke about "one of the hardest things I could ever do...tell my dad".  As a parent, I cannot imagine the shock, the anger, the confusion, the fear that my brother and sister-in-law have been feeling for their daughter. 

When you become an aunt at a young age and grow up playing with your little nieces and nephews, you think it's the best thing in the world.  For me, these kids gave me a chance to play mommy, play teacher, and play game organizer.  I had willing and eager students!  These two little ladies, Crystal and her sister Lacey, grew up in my middle school summer theater program.  It was a joy to work with them and see their talents flourish!
Fast forward a dozen years and we see college graduates in successful careers, beautiful young women who take the time to return the favor.  Now they play with MY kids!

That same smile and twinkling eyes.  Some things never change!  We are praying so fervently for you, sweetie!!  We know that God has a plan and will carry you through surgery and recovery!

 In the wee hours of this morning, my cell phone chimed.  It was a text from my sister, telling us that Crystal was awake, the tumor had been removed, and there looked to be no signs of paralysis.  PRAISE GOD!!

Megan and Crystal are cousins and pretty big buddies.  Megan had a great idea for us to chip in and get Crystal an I-pod Touch for her birthday.  When she is able to use her hands, this will be a great way for her to listen to music and keep in touch with everyone.  She has a huge network of friends and family who are pulling for her, and she likes to keep in touch with her clients, too (as an interior designer in Madison). 
We love you, Crystal!! As you like to say, we'll see you on the flip side....hopefully Saturday when we come to Madtown!

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." --Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Boys of Fall

It felt so weird not being there Friday night to see all of this.  But alas, some of  the girls of fall have strep throat!
Thanks to Dave and Tab for taking the pictures.  They make me feel like I was there.  And thanks to Mark's Aunt Linda for the phone updates!

It's good to see that Spencer is back after a pre-season injury!

Hunter makes catches that you wouldn't believe.  Such a wingspan!
 This is one of my favorites of the defense.  Mark is not only the head coach, but the defensive coordinator.  I am biased, but I think the defense has done a pretty darn good job of keeping their opponents out of the endzone this year.  So far in 4 games, they've allowed 25 points.  Not perfect, but working on being stingy!

 Tom is the heart and soul of this team.  Dave got a great shot of him right after recovering a fumble.
 I love it when you can see teammates encouraging each other.
 The next morning while the girls were sleeping (and Ally was in charge), I managed to sneak out to take Cy to his first football game.  Touch (not tackle, much to Cy's discouragement) but still very fun to watch.  Mark joined us  after making a film exhange with another coach.  Uncle Greg was there, too!  Cy is red #89.
 The coaches make sure that each kid gets to try each position on the field.  Here we are on 10 reps of offense.  Looks like Cy gets a shot at running back!
 More action with the Cobras and the Blue-heads (I didn't catch the other team's name yet)...
 We have 4 boys from Potosi playing over in Lancaster this fall.  Here are two of them, Cy and Brady.  Aren't they just the cutest thing?? (Sorry Cy; I am a mom and can't resist)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. --Ephesians 6:10-11