Monday, July 30, 2007

A Whole Year of Nathan

Adora baked the cake. Chocolate, of course, with vanilla icing and chocolate sprinkles (nope, not ants). Following family tradition, he got his own little cake to devour at will.
Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuuuuuu!
Yum!...And wearing his Birthday Suit for the occasion!
It's bound to end up everywhere...
On to the presents. He already has everything a one year old could ask for except a movie of real singing babies.
He was truly captivated by this bizarre display of absolutely no artistic merit. (That's real babies with computer animated mouths singing a vast array of "children's" songs.)
Happy Birthday Nate and may there be many more to come!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Daddy's very proud of his little Geek In Training. He even took the photos!

Remember This?.....

My how it's grown! Zucchini, cukes and peppers galore. Tomatoes are almost ready and the pumpkin and watermelon vines are spreading everywhere! Way to go Philip!

The Boy Who Might Never Walk

'Nuff Said.....

Monday, July 16, 2007

I love this Neighborhood!

Our neighbors returned on Thursday two days early from a 3 week excursion to the Grand Canyon. Their four children are constant companions to ours all year round but particularly in the Summer months. We missed them terribly. Thursday evening our kids swam at their pool and then their three boys returned here for the night. In the morning we loaded 2 of them into the van and they accompanied us to riding lessons and cousins day at Beth's house. That night all the boys slept in their pop-up camper which they've left open and airing out in their driveway. Yesterday only one of them came with us to the VBS picnic...that felt a little lonely...Today the boys went there to swim and this evening we had a two family game of Capture the Flag - kids against the adults. It was a close game but the adults won out in the end (really the game was called for darkness so we settled the game by seeing who could find the opposite team's flag first - I found theirs).

I never had a neighborhood really with kids to play with and streets in which to ride my bike safely. I'm so glad my kids have all this. We are so blessed. I love running across the street to my neighbor to see if she wants to go to Curves with me (and I love even more when she comes back across the street with armloads of food she's cooked too much of again). She is Pooka's "Auntee Renee" and whenever the dog escapes out of the house I can pretty much guarantee she's over there getting fed and loved on. Next door to us we have Helen and Fletch who are a dear elderly couple. They've been there since my husband was little (well, actually Mr. Gill died when he was older and my father-in-law stood in as the father of the bride when Helen married Fletch - how cute is that?!). On the other side is Frank who has also been there since my husband was small. He's a widower now but keeps quite busy and really doesn't seem to mind when our tribe is running around all crazy like. I often find my girls on the swingset belonging to the neighbors behind us, playing with their friends and dear Jack directly behind us has been known to load up our brush and run it to the dump from time to time. His wife crocheted blankets for every one of the kids after the fire. They all still sleep with them (the blankets not the neighbors)- even the older boys.

Across the court in the back are our friends who also have 3 adopted children and followed us here to this neighborhood (at least that's how the joke goes). We've been known to swap kids when their disfunctions get to be more than we can handle from time to time. She's truly a life-saver. I could go on and on. There are neighbors we met after the fire who have prayed for us and cared for us in many ways. There are neighbors who have been walking through the neighborhood every day since my in-laws owned the house. I don't know of many other neighborhoods like this and I'd be so sad should God ever call us to relocate.

That's my musing for this evening...just lovin' my neighborhood that's all! (And might I add that Capture the Flag is *really* good excercise!)

Friday, July 13, 2007


Well, today it was Betsy's turn with the classic line to go down in history. We had cousin's day at Beth's place. She is currently living on an estate owned by the father of my college roommate (who happens to be a Lutheran bishop) whom I hadn't seen in a very long time. I had a nice chat with him and he met many of the children for the first time. Betsy introduced him to Nathan to which Bp. Jerry replied, "Oh I have a Nathan too except mine isn't a baby, he's a grown man." This piqued Betsy's interest so she decided to explore the subject further by asking, "So, what color is your Nathan?"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just in case you're wondering...

...what I've been doing with my time lately I thought I'd share these little gems. Somehow I got myself committed to leading the middle school leadership team through some skits for VBS. After scouring the internet I realized there is very little material out there in the 3-5 minute range geared toward children and simple enough to be performed by children so I endeavored to write my own. The first couple of attempts were a bomb at meeting the criteria so I've put them here so maybe the world will get some use out of them (or just shake your heads and wonder why I've been entrusted with the care of impressionable young children).

Humble Pie

Customer: Good Morning, I'd like to buy some Humble Pie.
Cashier: Well, we have several varieties. Which do you think you'd like to try? This one has been spiced with cinnamon, allspice and a dollop of Embarrassing Myself.
Customer: Hmm, well that one looks good but doesn't sound very appetizing...
Cashier: Well, this one here has freshly whipped cream and Serving The Homeless sprinkles.
Customer: Yes, I see. Do you have any others?
Cashier: Oh, this is a popular choice – and my personal favorite. It's a make-it-yourself pie kit.
Customer: Now that sounds good. I bet I could really wow my dinner guests with that!
Cashier: Mm, no probably not, our pastry chef here gets all the credit for making it. Our customers are always telling him what a great job he's done with this one! No one seems to notice the person who actually bakes it. It's guaranteed to be delicious, though!
Customer: Thanks for the recommendation. I think I may as well get all three. Do you have change for a 50 dollar bill?
Cashier: Actually, sir. They'll cost you more than that. Humble Pie is an expensive delicacy. It costs a lot but it sure is worth it.
Customer: Oh, well I'd really like to buy all three Humble Pies. What will it will cost me?
Cashier: I'll take the shirt off your back and they're all yours!
Customer: Ok, I guess I can give you that if you say they are worth it. (takes off his shirt, hands it to the cashier. She gives him the pies.)
Cashier: Thank you sir! We'll be giving this shirt to someone who needs it.
Customer: Thank you for the pies.
Cashier: Sure thing. Come back tomorrow. We're having a special on Patience Pastries! They're worth the wait!
(Customer begins to leave with his pies)
Cashier: Sir, you forgot your wallet!

A Satisfying Story

Narrator 1: Having gone to the store to buy ice cream, Bill found himself without any money in his wallet. Thinking through his day, he realized that he had left his wallet out when he ate lunch at a restaurant and the money had most likely been stolen. Not easily angered, he returned the ice cream to the store freezer and walked calmly to his car, whistling a happy tune.
Narrator 2: On his way to his car he considered who may have stolen his money. He hoped that it had been someone with more need of it than he. In fact, he sincerely prayed that the person who stole his money would be blessed.
Narrator 3: He soon forgot about the stolen money and began to consider how he could get the ice cream for which he gone to the store in the first place. He considered trying to trade ice cream for one of his own possessions but the only thing he could think of was his hermit crab. He wasn't sure the store owner would be willing to trade him some Chocolate Cyclone Whippee for Hermie the Wonder Crab but he was willing to try.
Narrator 3: He was eager to buy the ice cream because he had promised it to the neighbor boy who loved Chocolate Cyclone Whippee Ice Cream more than anything else in the world and he, Bill, loved to make people happy. When he arrived home to get his hermit crab, he found the neighbor boy sitting on his front porch looking for the promised ice cream.
Narrator 4: Not wanting to be rude to the young man but not having the ice cream to give him, Bill decided to enlist the neighbor boy's help. He explained his problem to the boy and asked if the boy himself had anything worth trading to the store owner in exchange for the Chocolate Cyclone Whippee Ice Cream. The boy thought for a moment then reached into his pocket. He was grateful to Bill for trying to get him the ice cream and, not wanting to seem greedy or rude, he very much wanted to help pay for it.
Narrator 5: However, when he pulled his hand from his pocket it was empty. He had thought he had several marbles, a piece of string and his special sea-polished rock in there but all must have been lost in his pant's last trip through the washing machine. He sadly realized he had nothing to offer.
Narrator 5: Bill quickly realized his little friend's predicament and ran into the house, coming out shortly carrying Hermie in his cage. The two walked hand-in-hand to the store, Bill carrying Hermie in one hand and holding the boy's hand in his other. They had a lovely chat on the way there about all things squirmy and squishy and presently arrived back at the store.
Narrator 6: The store owner, surprised to see Bill returning to his store so soon after his departure, inquired to Bill about his day. Seizing the opportunity to discuss the matter of the Chocolate Cyclone Whippee and the Hermit Crab with the store owner, Bill quickly recounted all of the days' events to him, ending with his offer to exchange the crustacean for the dairy confection.
Narrator 7: The store owner was initially taken aback by such a generous offer on Bill's part but, once giving it some good thought, decided that Hermie would make a wonderful store mascot. And so, at the end of it all Hermie found a delightful new home, Bill's neighbor enjoyed his most favorite Chocolate Cyclone Whippee Ice Cream and Bill felt the satisfaction of having made all things right in his world.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Great Time at Grammy's

We had a great time visiting Grammy and Tata in Ohio. Thanks for all of you who prayed for our safe trip. I was very worried about doing all the driving but it worked out just fine, especially with Adora as our recreational director and a handful of new CD's to listen to - Narnia, Odyssey and Your Story Hour kept the crew enthralled. Who needs a DVD player in the car when the world of story can thrill and entertain?! We only had 3 kids throw up (2 of them hit their cups!), no one wet their pants and the babies only screamed for a combined total of about 1 1/2 hours out of the whole 16 hours of driving we did there and back. Once we got there we had a great time - all in all, a wonderful trip. Thanks for putting up with all of us Grammy and Tata! We love you! Here's the pics:
The kids spent quite a bit of time in the stream. They learned how to skip rocks and catch lots of these critters. Ruth learned how to take off her shoes and get mud between her toes. Meanwhile, JT and Philip helped Tata chop and haul wood. JT had the best seat in the house.

Sunday afternoon found us at a family reunion for my mother-in-law's side of the family. The kids enjoyed some games that were planned for them and especially enjoyed being reunited with JOE who now has a very adorable brand new baby girl of his own - Congratulations Joe and Katie!

Monday we visited the zoo with our friends who have 8 children. Five of theirs were off to camp so we just took the girls and the youngers to the Columbus zoo while the three big boys trotted off to Kenyon with Tata to play in his physics lab. JT built a car with the lego Mindstorms he had there and Philip really enjoyed putting together some basic movies which were, apparently, a real hoot when played backwards. The flamingos and gorillas are my all-time favorite visits at any zoo but here we were treated to 2 baby flamingos.

JohnMichael, Betsy, Alana, Cordelia, Miriam and Fiona. Betsy and Fiona really enjoyed seeing each other again. We'll meet up with them again in September at the beach. I'm not sure what happened to David and Ruth in this picture...And this other pic is Nehemiah in the tiger's den. What a cootie!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Decade of Phlip

Happy Birthday, Philip!

This is the actual big day although we had his party on Sunday so there wasn't much splash and excitement today. Shortly after JT's 10th birthday I announced that for the next two years anyone turning an even age would get a party. This is a big deal since parties don't come 'round these parts very often. We usually figure by the time we pull off cake and ice cream with the other 12 family members, we've pretty much had a party. So this way it gets divided fairly evenly - 5 this year and 4 next. You might notice that JT sort of got shafted in the deal and now has to wait until he turns 12. In this world of instant gratification we're considering it a counter-cultural lesson. In the meantime Philip's tenth kicked off the party train. JM will get a party next month, then Betsy in September, Miriam in October, Ben in November and Jesus in December (although 2007 is an odd year, I'll let it slip this time.... ).

Our neighbors went out of town for three weeks so we thought it would be a great idea to host a pool party at their house (yes, Michelle, we did ask them...). So since we had a pool with water I thought Philip would enjoy a piratey theme and we ran with it. The whole shebang was m.c'd by Cap'n Daddy who did a bang up job of talking like a pirate for two hours straight as he directed the boys to "Walk the Plank" for a canonball contest, hunt for treasure Ben had hidden in the bushes, dive for gold coins in search of the ones bearing a black spot and beat him in the Talk Like a Pirate challenge. Ben's creativity was invaluable in creating a wonderful setting for the event and keeping things moving quickly with fun activities.We did arrest the theme long enough to kick a soccer ball around for a while to meet with Philip's dream of playing soccer with all his buddies at his very own party.

In lieu of gifts which are always confusing and disappointing to Philip, I risked a social faux pas and emailed all the moms ahead of time offering an opportunity for all the party participants to pitch in together and get him a lego crane he's been showing us in the lego catalogue for about the past 3 years. Normally way out of our price range, this turned out to be a real blessing for all - Phlip got what he really wanted, all the guests were united with a joint blessing for the party boy and nobody had to run to the store, wonder what to get and wrap in the car. Philip couldn't have been more thrilled with it!

I had found a great idea for a pirate ship cake and went at it starting at about 9:00 the night before. "Round about 10 an entire 1/4 of the ship simply fell off the side. I laughed a bit, decided to do without that bit and as I was re-icing the starboard side, the port side began to lurch and lunge but I knew the water beneath was made of nothing but butter and sugar. I was in trouble. We watched, then, as the entire middle of the cake imploded and within minutes I had a mangled mound of chocolate cake. It was an Ace of Cakes nightmare if ever I saw one. Undaunted, I grabbed the wooden skewers bearing skull-laden sails and burned them over the gas stovetop. I stuck them willy nilly into the whole mess, crammed a couple of playmobil pirates head over tin cups next to them and announced that I had finished what was of course my original plan all along - a Pirate Shipwreck. Fortunately, I was prepared with the desert island baked into a large pizza pan and arranged the remaining playmobil guys to look as if the ship had crashed upon the shores of the island. It all turned out quite cute and I was very fortunate to be planning for a boy party as Philip thought it was a hoot. Had it been Betsy, alongside the disaster of a cake, I would have had tears and dramatics with which to contend.

Notice the captain wading onto the shore while two others have already discovered treasure on the island.

This picture sums all the fun...


(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Curly Top

See, I told you there were curls up there!