Something So Big

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Heeeeeeeyyyy!! It's my favorite son's birthday today!

Paige, Ally, and Cy back in the day..must have watched Fonzie on Youtube or something?

Cy and Gabe are 2 months apart and both entering high school very, very soon.  Stop growing already!!

Here's how Cy spent most of his summer mornings with Dad.  He works so hard on his goals!

Last night was his first JV game.   He played linebacker and offensive tackle (I think ;) #99!
The game didn't go that well, but there were lots of learning opportunities for improvement.  (And is it just me, or aren't those kids in the yellow jerseys a heckuva lot bigger than our kids??)
Blocking is a thankless job, but somebody has to do it!! Go CYRUS!!  
Cy gets to be coached by his dad, uncle, and cousin !  Megan's hubby Jeff is one of the JV coaches (inside the huddle).  It's a family affair...
Even though that birthday wish didn't come true last night, there are still so many things to be thankful for and to look forward to this year!  Happy Birthday to our polite (except to his sisters) young man.  So proud of you, Cypie Jim!!

May my son be strong and courageous and not fear or be in dread, for it is You, Lord, our God, who goes with him. You will never leave him or forsake him.--Deuteronomy 31:6

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer Snapshots

A few parting shots as summer wanes and school approaches....trying new things that hopefully lead to more....
Painting the cemetery shed - June (this was the kids' first serious attempt at exterior painting...and a great service project)

Wynne tries catching - July

Paige & Shae go to a mission/work camp in Rockford - August

Wynne flips for gymnastics - August

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.--Isaiah 43:19

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Last Night, Last Day Up North, Day 4

Our last night in Black River Falls Forest was spent enjoying grilled burgers, hashbrowns, and a campfire.
 This picture shows you just how thick the forest was...see the moon and the fire?

 Day 4:  We woke up, ate breakfast, cleaned up, and said goodbye to our cozy cabin.  It was a great home away from home!
 We went stopped in Black River Falls to try and find souvenirs.  Shae wanted a t-shirt, but we didn't find any.  We did, however, find this quaint general store with antiques, old-time candy, and bottles of pop!
 Next up: Castle Mound in the state forest.  This was about a mile and a half hike.
 The camera is a bit blurry because it was humid and HOT!!
There is a lookout tower on top of this rock.
 How did they ever build these steps and put this cement at the top of this rock rising 180 feet above the ground??  I'm so grateful for those nice sturdy steps and railing!!
 We were way up there.  To fully appreciate just how high up we were, consider that we're overlooking tree tops here.  Very TALL tree tops!  180 acres of Black River Falls forest!  This used to be a lookout tower for fires.

Red pine, white pine, jack pine, oak, birch, maple, and aspen trees everywhere.
Huge columns of sandstone.

Another look at where we were just standing!
And now on to Wazee Lake!  The kids wanted to swim here because it  is clean, clear, and has a very large beach area.  Wazee Lake is the clearest, deepest inland lake in Wisconsin (355 feet deep in some areas).  It is manmade, formerly a quarry for taconite (steel) mining from the 1960s to 80s.  Once it closed in 1983, the quarry filled up with water and is now the most popular scuba diving site in the Midwest.  It's also a great fishing spot, but it is non-motorized to ensure protection of the "pristine water quality".  Jackson County has so many great parks, including this one!
This picture reminds me that our kids are getting too big. :(
There they are, all 5 of them!  As you can tell, the water isn't very deep in this portion of the lake.  It's a perfect beach for swimming!

Gotta build another sandcastle!
Ally - 16, Paige - 12, Cy - 14, Wynne - 9, Shae - 12...enjoying their last few hours of vacation!  It was a short reprieve from everyday work, but a good time to be together as a family.  We are so lucky!
"and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Blueberries & Ice Cream

After our eventful morning, we went back to the cabin to clean up, relax, and have some lunch.  Finally Mark was in the mood for the boring activity I had insisted we try since we were in the area...blueberry picking!
 A few miles north of our cabin on Hwy. 12/27 near Merrillan, we found Comstock's Berry Patch (Strawberries and Blueberries) open for business.  Only $1.50 a pound!
 Shae found the camera...
 Blueberries are sooooooooooo much easier to pick than any other thorns, no back-bending, no bugs either!

 We picked six pounds, which I planned to take home and freeze. (except for eating some right away, of course)
 Blueberries are a SUPERFOOD:  great for your heart, memory, anti-aging...they lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve brain function, and taste delicious!  What's not to like?

 So of course after all of that healthy berry picking, we had to go and ruin it at the Dairy Way in Black River Falls (highly recommended to my sister by ice cream experts).
This was a sweet treat for about an hour's worth of driving to find the elusive Wildcat trail.  The park attendant at Lake Arbutus gave me directions to a Wildcat ATV trail, not to the state park trail with rock climbing.  And let me tell you, driving gravel roads in the middle of 68,000 acres of forest with an ATV trail map, you tend to get a little lost.  And bored.  And hungry for ice cream!!

Shae and I ordered the slush/ice cream thing (sorry the name escapes me now).  Hers was green apple and very yummy.  Mine was cranberry and just delicious.  Had the right combination of cool & creamy with a tang.  5-stars!

A few days later (back home in SW Wisconsin), I found an easy, healthy recipe for some of those blueberries.  I adapted it a bit to suit our needs/tastes.  The younger kids are too fussy to try it, but hey - more for Mom, Dad, and Cy!  It's gluten-free for Ally and is a light, tangy/sweet dessert.  I will definitely make it again.  Great with ice cream, too :)
2-3 cups of fresh blueberries, washed
1/2 cup flour (I used rice flour to make it g-free)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oats +
3 T chopped nuts (I used sliced almonds)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, sliced up

Spray a 9X13 pan and cover the bottom of it with blueberries.  Mix the dry ingredients, cutting the butter in to form a powdery mixture.  Sprinkle mixture on top of berries and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  DeLISHus!!

Out on the Lake, Day 3

We wanted to go canoeing/kayaking on the Black River, but the river was too low.  Hatfield Sport Shop suggested we paddle on this beautiful lake!
Lake Arbutus is in Jackson County, northeast of Black River Falls, and just a few minutes from the cabin.  So Ally and Cy took kayaks, Mark, Shae & Wynne took a canoe, and Paige and I took another canoe out on a sunny Wednesday morning.

It was a bit breezy that day, and with me not having canoed for probably 15 years, it didn't take long for Paige and I go get way behind the others.  They rounded the bend on this huge lake, and I was so made because I wanted to all stick together and get some family pictures!!  As you can see, they were nowhere in sight. (although you can see my camera strap;)

I was in the front of the canoe (the bow), and I had to turn around carefully to snap this picture of my sternswoman, Paigey!

Cy beat us all like it was some sort of a race or something.
 Mark, Wynne, and Shae were way ahead of us on the way out  on the lake, but then they started to slow down on the way back.  I thought Mark was trying to be slow so he could sneak up & overtake us on the way back.  He smirked at me when we finally met up with them on the way out, so I figured he was going to tease us by letting us "think" we were beating his canoe on the way back to the beach.
 Ally loves to kayak and got lots of experience at her Uncle Greg & Aunt Marin's lake a few weeks ago.
 This is the last picture I took of these 3 in their canoe.  It's kind of scary to look at it now, because after we rounded the bend and headed back, the wind picked up and made things very difficult for all of us.  Ally, Cy, and I didn't see these guys tip their canoe and have to swim to shore!!
 On our way back to the beach, Paige and I saw Mark and the girls walking along the shoreline.  I knew something was wrong when I saw them all walking barefoot, Mark with no cap, Wynne holding one of his shoes, and Shae holding only one oar.  After a very scary encounter in the choppy water, they finally managed to swim to shore.  The rental shop received a call that someone saw one of their capsized canoes and a flipflop!  Thank God everyone was safe!!
A nice homeowner on the lake drove Mark and the girls to the park where we were waiting (with the beach).  Then Mark and Paige paddled in our canoe back to where we had put in to get our vehicle and pick the rest of us up.  You can't tell from Wynne and Shae's smiles that they had gone through something very traumatic and scary just minutes before.
  In the waiting time, I prayed and thanked God for my family and our safety.
 Ally got a hold of the camera and started snapping these candids.  Yuck...there's one of me!!!

I had a dream of what Mark might have gone through that night.  It was a scary, helpless feeling underwater for him, not knowing where Wynne was for a few seconds (when she was under the canoe).  Thank God we were all wearing lifejackets and that our girls have had some swimming lessons.  Thank God that He saw fit to spare us a tragedy that bright, blue, breezy day.  Who knows how many times we are spared throughout our lifetimes, when we don't even know it?  As we learned last month in VBS, the Lord is our strong tower where we can run and be safe!!

The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life.--Psalm 121:7