Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Everyday Moments

It is the last day of February, and I can't believe we have just about completed two months of 2013. Yesterday's snow fall was welcomed at our house - we didn't have any driving we had to do, and a friend who plows the church parking lot and our drive way was willing to build a snow hill between the church and the parsonage. After being nervous about the boys playing on the hill in the ditch right next to the road, I thought I should request a hill in a safer location, and it worked great.

We went outside to play three times, and had only one bloody nose from sledding (zach wrecked). Zach and I went to visit Brian in his office at church and I took a few pictures for the family archives. I know it is easy to forget the routine activities of a certain period of time, and rather than take only pictures of the big things (birthdays, vacations) I want to at least take a few of the everyday life things. So Brian's office was one this week, and the boys drawing/stickers in their toy room was another.

Then I wanted a picture of Brian outside with the boys, talking to a church member who stopped at church. This is something that happens a lot and is a part of our family routine too. Being an introvert (though I'm wondering if that is changing) he works hard to connect with whoever is around "the yard," and we have a lot of people around "the yard," at this point of life. It reminds me of seed corn customers or custom farming customers that would stop on my parent's farm yard when I was a child.

These "everyday life" moments are a part of our family, and will be fun to add to our family year book at the end of the year, and good for our kids to remember.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

North Eastern Iowa Camping

The last time our family went camping, Ezra was 6 months old, and we went to the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds on Lake Michigan.  This week we drove through towns like Elkader, Decorah, McGregor, and Prairie DuChein, WI.

On the way there we stopped at Dyersville to buy Christmas gifts at the Ertl toy store.  We were pretty tricky about that.

Each town along the River was very old.  The historical buildings were so much older than the small towns here in the middle of the state.  The boys soon learned that everything followed the Mississippi River - Highways, train tracks, and campgrounds.

My personal favorite was Effigy Mounds.  We hiked to Firepoint lookout over the Mississippi River.  The land reminded me of Cedar Bluffs over the DesMoines river near Eveland Access - south of Oskaloosa, only much larger.  Several of the burial mounds were in circles, or in the shapes of animals, and were on the tops of the bluffs.  Zachary desperately wanted to run up and down them, but part of the National Park rules were to follow the path, and not walk on the burial mounds.

Brian's favorite was probably trout fishing.  Those pictures are on his phone, and I haven't gotten them yet.  Each youth is able to catch two fish, so we cleaned and took home six fish.  It was a little cold.

We had two rainy days.  We went to Cabella's in Prairie du Chein, made a camper out of a cardboard box and tacky glue, drove around to look at old buildings, and spent an afternoon at Culver's eating french fries, ice cream, and playing GoFish and War.We also had good nap times in the camper on those days.

Our camground overlooked the M. River, and Tue through Thur we were practically the only ones in the campground.  Friday things filled up.

Our food schedule included bacon, sausage, eggs, Peanut Butter sandwhiches, dear bologne, tonka pies, chilli soup and cheesy brocolli soup, oatmeal cream pies, fudge from the Cannery in PdC, and homemade bread.  The boys ate so well at every meal.  I figured they'd run out of space, but they didn't.  We even stopped at Dyersville McDonalds on the way home, and they ate even more.

Thank you Aunt Julie for letting us borrow the camper!  We definitely need to buy one of our own someday.  We had such a good time, and will be making this trip again.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

To make you Smile - Pastor Story

Pastor O ‘Riley woke up Sunday morning and realizing it was an exceptionally beautiful, sunny day, decided he just had to play golf.

After all, there was already a nip of fall in the air and how many more gorgeous days like this would there be before the cold weather came?

So... he told the Associate Pastor that he wasn’t feeling well, and persuaded him to deliver the sermon that day.

As soon as the Associate Pastor left the room, Pastor O’Riley headed out of town to a golf course about forty miles away.

This way he knew he wouldn't run into anyone he knew from his church.

Setting up on the first tee, he was alone. After all, it was Sunday morning and everyone else was in church!

At about this time, Saint Peter leaned over to the Lord while looking down from the heavens and exclaimed, "You're not going to let him get away with this, are you?" The Lord sighed, and said, "No, of course not."

Just then Pastor O’Riley hit the ball and it shot straight towards the hole, dropping just short of it, when it began to roll and fell right into the hole.


St. Peter was astonished. He looked at the Lord and asked, "Why did you let him do that?"

The Lord smiled and replied, "Who's he going to tell?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Aroma of "Living Things"

A few advent reflections since this cold weather has me feeling like the holidays are just around the corner.

Our sermon Sunday night was based on the book of Second Corinthians, in particular, chapter 2.  We studied the aroma of Christ in this world - smells of life to those being saved, and the smells of death to those who are perishing.  It made me think of hog farmers - the smell of money to the farmer, not a feeling shared always by the neighbors. Just kidding.  A quote from Charlotte's Web and the Jesus Storybook Bible came to mind.

I don't know why I thought this after the sermon Sunday night, but maybe the aroma of Christ is quite similar to the smell of "living things," likely the first aromas Christ smelled the first hours of his life.

From 2 Corinthians 2
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

From Charlotte's Web, E.B. White, Chapter 3 
"The Barn was very large.  It was very old.  It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure.  It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows.  It often had a sort of peaceful smell - as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world.  It smelled of grain and of harness dressing and of axle grease and of rubber boots and of new rope.  And whenever the cat was given a fish-head to eat, the barn would smell of fish.  But mostly it smelled of hay, for there was always hay in the great loft up overhead.  And there was always hay being pitched down to the cows and the horses and the sheep."

From the Jesus Storybook Bible, The Nativity, from Luke 2 - "He's Here"
"Mountains would have bowed down.  Seas would have roared.  Trees would have clapped their hands.  But the earth held its breath.  As silent as snow falling, he came in.  And when no one was looking, in the darkness, he came...[Mary and Joseph] couldn't find anywhere except an old, tumbledown stable.  So they stayed where the cows and the donkeys and the horses stayed.  And there, in the stable, amongst the chickens and the donkeys and the cows, in the quiet of the night, God gave the world his wonderful gift.  The baby that would change the world was born.  His baby Son.  

Mary and Joseph wrapped him up to keep him warm.  They made a soft bed of straw and used the animals' feeding trough as his cradle.  And they gazed in wonder at God's Great Gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.  

Mary and Joseph names him Jesus, "Emmanuel" - which means "God has come to live with us."

Because, of course, he had."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ezra, Sonshine Preschool and Explaination

Ezra's preschool orientation was this week. He was more than excited to go to school.  There were a few moments of concern, but after his orientation visit, he asked why he couldn't go every day.  We too are very excited for him to learn and meet new friends.  One of his teachers was actually Grandma Barb's college room mate!  We took pictures of this day, and after uploading them to the blog, I noticed that this crazy corn plant happened to make it in almost every one!  I felt there needed to be some explaination.

Some have assumed that I've planted these corn plants in the parsonage landscape on purpose, to make a statement about myself, something about not being able to take the country out of the girl.  Although this might have been an ingenious idea, this is not what happened.  Actually, I'm thinking these corn plants have been placed there by critters from our bird feeder.  They happened to grow quite nicely in the landscape.  Have you ever seen corn plants used in landscape?  They are quite beautiful.  This year I was fortunate enough to chose not to do much for floral decoration in the church landscape.  The dry summer would have proved to be too much for me to keep up with them. 

So I was grateful for the funny corn plants that have grown.  I'm surprised they survived six little hands and twelve little four wheeler tires.  Most everything has been pulled out our made into a dirt track for things with wheels. 

Ezra has had a fun summer driving in dirt and playing with his brothers.  He is going to love preschool too.

When I asked Ezra to stand on the front step, he instinctively grabbed the plant to pose. 

He has turned out to be quite handsome.

He chose camo shorts and his new Merrel shoes we found out the cowboy store in Wyoming on vacation.

Zach copying his brother.

Elliot joining in.

Always trying to figure out the pecking order.

Everyone is happy.

Picture with dad.

Picture with mom.