Something So Big

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The New Addition

Nope, it's not a baby.....nor a house addition......but it IS Mark's baby and it IS pretty close to the house!
What started out in early May...

 where kids could roam and climb and play...
 became a place for tight rope acts...
and took shape quickly, just like that!
It's kinda BIG from the back ...

but from the front, it's sharp as a tack!
 Much hard work on hot, hot days ...

With a capstone that no one could ever replace!

Friday, July 27, 2012

American Girls, American Boys

Another summer school class teaching about American Girl dolls...
This year's study was on the Girl of the Year, McKenna.  She's a gymnast so we made our 18-inch dolls a leotard, gymnastics mat (notice the cute blue and purple-striped one made in the back row)...
...and personalized cinch bags/backpacks made from t-shirt sleeves!

We also made sandals, swimsuits out of socks, and rhythmic gymnastic sticks.  I am particularly fond of Selena's "I am happy to be me!" leotard (made out of a discarded t-shirt, courtesy of Shae).  I think Selena likes it, too:)
Meanwhile, the boys were busy with football camp....

...and finished their baseball season with a doubleheader last night.  (Cy's 2nd from the right in the back)
Good season, guys!  Although I think we're all kinda glad it's over....lots of games and lots of HEAT this summer!
1 Timothy 4:12 
Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.--1 Timothy 4:12

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Own Little History Trip

Two weeks ago in LeClaire, Iowa we made a stop at the Buffalo Bill Museum.  It turned out to be a pleasant surprise, exceeding our expectations. I wish I would have been able to take my 3rd graders down to visit when we were in our Pioneer Unit in February-March!  William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody was born in LeClaire in 1846, and spent some time there as a young boy before his family moved west to Kansas Territory.  
There's a picture of Annie Oakley on the right partition, among other artifacts from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
The kids were given an age-appropriate scavenger hunt which really kept their interest as we toured the museum.  Mark liked how things were totally hands-on; you could touch just about anything in the displays.  I liked how it was a large collection, but not TOO large as to overwhelm you--and the write-ups were concise and practical.  You could learn a lot from just spending an hour there.  
Wynne is pointing to what I call the "doggy treadmill".  Dogs would pedal it to churn butter!!
This picture didn't turn out well (and keep in mind, our regular camera was in the shop for over a month so I was using the still function on our video camera).  I was in awe of this authentic Civil War uniform and other relics.  It was so heavy and thick...I can't imagine wearing this in the hot summer! (let alone, fighting in battles the way they did)
Wynne was a little scared of these pictures.  In our Pioneer Unit this spring, we learned how Buffalo Bill became good friends with Sitting Bull.  
Other pieces of local history were spread throughout the museum, including a display about James Ryan, a LeClaire native who invented the seat belt, crash bumpers for cars and, and the flight recorder.  But the display that captured our most attention was the Lone Star Steamer.
The Lone Star was "the longest continuously operating wooden steamboat in the United States."  It ran from 1869 to 1967.  It is also the last remaining example of a steamboat built in the "Western Rivers" style of construction.  (I'm taking this from the museum write-up :) Basically, it is a type of steamboat with a shallow hull that could navigate through the shallow waters of the Mississippi River.
Wynne finished up her scavenger hunt by finding this big red wheel.  Guess what it does?  It pumps water from the river into the boat to be turned into steam (which powers the whole boat)!
I have a new internet diversion called Pic Monkey.  It's probably been around for a few years, but I stumbled upon it from a teacher website and guess what?  I heart Pic Monkey.  It lets you do really cool effects on your this one of the kids!  I love this picture of them!

Truly, some of our best family trips are within a few hours of home.  :)

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.--Psalm 121:8

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pickin' in Iowa

Can you guess where this is?

Just an ordinary antique store...

...that happens to have its own nationally-televised show on the History Channel.
I'll give you a couple of hints.  This is for "Kid Pickers"...
...and the store's name is Antique Archaeology.
If you guessed "American Pickers", give yourself a gold star!
Last week, we drove down to LeClaire, Iowa to check out the place, hoping to find a little history piece to adorn our house or garage.  We didn't have much luck (things were pretty expensive, and most of the items at their LeClaire store are automotive), but it was fun to see where Mike and Frank work.  
It was an unassuming place, kinda hard to find at first.  We drove up and down the main drag in town until we finally spotted this little garage up the hill behind the A & W.  

Of course we didn't see the actual Picker guys, but we did see about a hundred other "tourists" just like us ;)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From Formality to ...Da Bears??

My niece/goddaughter Megan got married last Friday.  Here is that precious moment of a wedding, right after the bride has walked down the aisle, and her father gives her to the groom.  The parents and grandparents watch and say a little prayer to themselves...hopefully a prayer of thanks!
 Megan and Jeff are a great couple, another one of those matches-made-in-heaven!
 The formality of the wedding continued on into the reception at a lovely establishment on the Mississippi River in LaCrosse.  Every last detail was Classy with a capital C !
 Megan had two of her cousins, another two of my nieces (daughters of 2 of my brothers) as attendants.  Korrine has her hands on her hips with her back to the camera, and Crystal is 2nd from the right.
 Megan and Jeff put a lot of little details into the reception and dance.  They hired a few babysitters to watch the children present (if need be), complete with a candy bar, movies and popcorn!  Oh, and Wedding Bingo and prizes.  But perhaps the coolest detail of all was the fun photo booth with these fashion accessories!  Everyone in attendance was encouraged to get their picture taken in the booth.  Out came 2 copies of a strip of 3 photos; the first copy was for you to keep and the second was glued into a photo book which was signed and became the couple's guest book.  It was really clever!
 When the wedding party was formally announced before dinner, I had to snap a shot of the bride's parents, my sister Deb and her husband Arlie.  They threw a great party and are probably sleeping this entire week :)
 The kids were placed at dinner tables with their cousins, mostly by gender and age.  Here's the girls' table enjoying their chicken tenders ...
 ...and the boys' table waiting for dessert.  Have you ever had Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream Cake at a wedding reception?  It was GLORIOUS :)
 Wynne and Garrison sat at the table with my sisters, brothers-in-law, Mark and me. We enjoyed salad, rolls, chicken or pork.  It was really delicious!  Marla, Julie, and I gave the "blessing" on the meal incorporating some lines from Chevy Chase's "Christmas Vacation" because it was shot in the same era as the groom's movie "Overboard".  Yes, Jeff was in "Overboard" with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell!
 Another fun (but unfortunate) fact about Jeff is that he is a Bears fan.  Growing up near Chicago will probably explain it, but still...Da Bears??  So my family's wedding tradition of initiating the newest "outlaw" into the gang had to run on the Packer-Bear theme.
Here's where it started to get ugly:  the other two Bears fans in the Outlaw gang tried to keep people from dancing with the Packer fans!
 I think this is the first time Mark found himself surrounded by other like-minded people singing "Bear down, Chicago Bears!"  The wedding party was all downhill from there;)
At any rate, Congratulations Jeff and Megan!  May you live a long happy life together, regardless of NFL affiliation!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.--Colossians 3:17-19

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ball Parks Near and Far

Guess who played at our hometown park vs. the twins' team?
Another cousin!  Brooke!
 Our girls wore their shorts last week because it has been HOT++.   We haven't had rain in over a month (okay a few drops, but not enough to wet the ground) and temps have flared into the high 90s and low 100s!!
 Paige, Brooke, and Shae after the big P-town/D-town Showdown :)
 A few weekends ago, Cy's godfather Uncle Brian and Aunt Mary Kay took Cy and cousin Gabe to see Kaleb's team play in Schaumburg, Illinois.  Cy (back right, in yellow shirt) and Gabe (far back left, in black shirt) were chosen to compete against another pair of boys in a 7th-inning-stretch contest!

 The object was to throw as many water balloons as possible into the helmet on your partner's head.  Cy threw and Gabe was the wet recipient.
 The boys actually won this contest!  The prize was 4 tickets to another Boomers game.  The best part was that the Boomers won, and Kaleb got into pitch that afternoon!

We hear it's a really nice stadium for an independent league team.  To think, my nephew is one step closer to his goal of playing in the major's pretty cool.  Grandpa is watching and smiling from up above ;)
Up this week: a mere 5 games plus one tournament.  I shan't complain, as we just had 6 whole days OFF from baseball and softball!!  I didn't know what to do with myself all those nights home.  Seriously, I had almost forgotten how to prepare a healthy supper where you actually sit down as a family and eat together at the same time.  It's really quite a lovely concept.  Maybe we can try it again sometime before Christmas.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


 I feel so lucky to live in a country where we are *FREE* to worship God like this!
Last week we had our 8th Annual Vacation Bible School.  Our theme was "The Lord's Army" with a study of Ephesians 6, putting on the full Armor of God.  Over 35 youth and adults like these guys helped us bring that study to life...

Do YOU have your Armor on?  Are you ready to face the trials of this world?
Helmet of Salvation...check!  Sword of the Spirit...check!  Belt of Truth...check!  Shield of Faith...check!  Chestplate of Righteousness...check!  Gospel Shoes...check!
We had 87 children from age 3 through 12 join us for VBS.  Here's Company Gray (the preschoolers)!
Company Brown! (Grades 3-4 ...Paige & Shae had a ball with their friends)
Company Green!  (Grades 1-2...the water-bottle-holder is our baby!!)
Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of Delta Company (Cy's group, grades 5-6) or Company Tan (Kindergarten).  Kinda busy running music, skits, and helping with everything else;)

Private "Ivan Issue" (2nd from the left, our funny man Joe K.) finally understood what it means to protect yourself and be ready for whatever the world throws at you.  It took him 4 nights, but he finally got it!

 This isn't a good picture of them singing, but the music staff and I had a great time singing all week.  Favorites were "The B-I-B-L-E" Go Fish Guys version, "Me Without You" by TobyMac, and "Gold" by Britt Nicole.

Sergeant Michael Parks from the Army National Guard 229# devoted a lot of time and attention to our Family Night.  He spoke with the kids on being prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually for battle.
 Each night's closing prayer is led by a different clergyman/woman from around town.  The Family Night worship was led by our own pastor, Pr. Mark!  In the foreground, Mandy W. (and her little boy Pierce!) are explaining that the kids took pledges and raised over $1000 for the Wounded Warrior Project!!  Great job Mandy and everybody!!
"Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above...with wisdom, power, & love..."

After worship it was time for the FUN STUFF!!
Check out what the SSG Parks brought for us to play with...courtesy of the National Guard!!

Lots of little legs needed help up into that obstacle course, including Little Bear's :)
I didn't get over to the Wounded Warrior Run/Walk in time, but Mandy had posters and Bible verses on every other post around the field.  The whole theme was selected in honor of our hometown boy SSG Adam Alexander, who was injured in Afghanistan on November 10, 2011.  He has had 2 head surgeries and is undergoing extensive rehab/p.t. right now...but he's doing really well and hopes to be married this fall!  We continue to pray for him and hope to present him with a big check from VBS for the Wounded Warrior Project in a few months!

President U.S. Grant said, "Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts on your hearts and practice them in your lives.  To the influence of this book we are indebted for the practice them in your lives.  To the influence of this book we are indebted for the progress made, and to this we must look as our guide in the future."

Well said! 
Happy Independence Day to America ...and to all believers!

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. --Psalm 119:45 (NIV)