Friday, August 29, 2014

Rainy Day Hike

We're not afraid of a little rain!
We explored a couple of new-to-us trails, and we loved this one near a windy river!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Gift of Remembering

God wants us to remember things.

He promised that whenever He sees a rainbow in the clouds, He'll remember the covenant that He made with Noah.(Genesis 9:14-16)

He wants us to remember the slavery from which He bought and saved us... and to recount it to our children and grandchildren.  (Deut. 6: 20-23)

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would help the disciples to remember the things that He had taught them.  (John 14:26)

In their distress, many psalmists remembered the Lord--His name, His works, His character--and were helped. (42, 103, 111, 119, 143, and others!)

I think it's so sad when a person--usually elderly--begins to lose his memory.  What do you have if you are unable to remember things?

And so I take lots of pictures of my children so I can remember this season when they are grown.

Sometimes, though, when they look a certain way or do something exceptionally sweet, I am compelled to pick up the camera and capture it.  Like the way her lips pucker when she sleeps.

Or how proud they are when they cut lovely bouquets of flowers for me.

I certainly don't want to forget their vivid imaginations!  
"Mommy, I'm pretending I'm running away.  Don't worry--I won't go far."

I want to remember that sometimes, I was a fun mom who served them strawberry shortcake for breakfast.

I want to remember how much they LOVE playing with their cousins.

I want to remember that they were so easily delighted.
(Free lunch program at the local high school, anyone?)

I'm quite certain that God wants me to remember the preciousness of these fleeting years.  The girls, and the memories we make together... they're a kindness of God for just a brief time.  I want to remember!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Maizey is 1!

Our pup turned one!

Olivia was certain that Maizey would appreciate a festive banner and a party hat.

WE all did, even if Maizey didn't.

(She has already torn apart the new squeak ball we bought for her.)
((And she has eaten up her whole bone.))
(((We had to buy her a new brush, since she ate all the bristles off of her old one.)))

((((BUT WE LOVE HER.))))

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Home from Wisconsin... with a stowaway!

Since Mom is as free as a bird these days, we talked her into coming back with us!
It was still hard to tell Dad/Grandpa goodbye, but the pain was a bit lessened since we had Mom/Grandma with us.

We did all sorts of fun stuff with her!  We went raspberry picking...

...did some sightseeing along the Sleeping Bear Lakeshore...

...and processed many, MANY quarts of cherries (and mulberries!).

We also took a stroll through a cherry orchard...

...and just did a lot of general relaxing together!

We loved having you here, Mom/Grandma!  What a treat.  We'll take you anytime!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Fun

In July the girls and I took a spontaneous trip to Wisconsin to spend some time with my parents.   
My mom retired in July (YAY, MOM!)...

...and we also enjoyed a special anniversary celebration at the church where my dad pastors.  135 years!  (Dad has been there only a hundred of them.)

A major highlight of the trip was the trip itself!  We took the S.S. Badger Carferry over Lake Michigan!  We thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful break from driving and being cooped up in the car.  It was cool and breezy, but a great voyage.  We wish the ferry sailed year-round.

We spent some time with my grandma and her husband Jerry.  It's fun to watch the girls play with toys that I played with as a child... and my dad played with them, too!  

We also swung over to the nursing home to visit my Granny.  This is my Gram's stepmom.  She was looking well and is quite happy there.  Below, with Granny and 2 other cousins:  Sophie (my cousin's girl), and Natty (my cousin).

My folks spoiled the girls and took them to the fair, where they rode this mini-coaster approximately forty-three times.  SUCH a treat for them!  They also ate traditional fair food, and they LOVED the animal barn!

They're into doing spa treatments.  ("Train up a child...")
This is lovely!
Here, Brienna treats my mom to a foot rub and toenail polish, hand lotion and fingernail polish, as well as "freshments."  So sweet!

We had an absolutely lovely time visiting friends and family in Wisconsin!  And we had an extra surprise when it was all over, too!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A sunrise, a note, and a happy girl

Just a few things that made me happy recently.
Maybe they'll make you smile, too.

I will sorely miss my early morning runs over the next several months!  With Nate starting earlier and the sun rising later, I'm afraid I'll have to get creative with my running schedule.  This gorgeous sight stopped me right in my tracks a couple weeks ago:

Olivia wrote me this sweet note.  I wish she'd written it on paper, so I could save it forever.  

These girls are turning into serious beach bums!  Here, Brienna soaks up the sun and sand at a local beach.  We're gonna miss this, too, pretty shortly!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

DIY Taco Seasoning

Sometimes eating healthfully can be so overwhelming, ya know?

Reading nutrition labels is equivalent to rocket science these days, what with all the food coloring, MSG, trans fats, allergens, GMO's, organics, glutens, and artificial everything.  

For most eating naturally has to be a gradual learning process.  One important step in this process: stop buying packets!  Ranch packets, seasoning packets, herb-y blend packets... they are all laden with preservatives.  

Taco seasoning packets used to be a staple in our pantry, but I was shocked when I found how much healthier, easier--and CHEAPER!--it is to make my own!  Here's how it's done:

Purchase equal parts chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Also get 1/4 to 1/2-part crushed red pepper.  More if you dig the I do.  Less if your kids are spice mine.  Aldi sells their spices for $0.99 each.  Makes for some pretty cheap seasoning mix!

Dump it all into a bowl.  Admire the pretty colors and the heady aroma.  Mix well.

After it's all thoroughly combined, store your DIY taco seasoning in a sealed container.  You'll want to taste-test the first time you use it, since I find the flavors to be stronger.  For one pound of meat, I usually use about 1/4 cup of seasoning.

Enjoy!  Taco night just got a little bit healthier!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Summer Fun--mid-June to early July

This summer is flying by!  It's been packed with travel and fun, and I don't want to forget! 

When we got back from PA, I braved the wisdom tooth extraction that I'd been needing for a year.  It took less than 5 minutes to pull and 6 weeks to heal.  I dealt with daily headaches that thankfully were just bothersome, not debilitating.  All is well now!
***3 days post-op

Ellia lost her first tooth!  She thinks she swallowed it when she bit into a hot dog.  She didn't mind, though!  

Shannon and her girls came up for the Fourth, much to our delight!  Nate's parents came as well, and we had a great time relaxing and enjoying one another.
***the girls at Frankfort Beach

I ran my first 5k!  Finally!  This is certainly a highlight of the summer, as I've wanted to do it for a couple years.  I can't say enough how thankful I am for the healing God has granted!  A year or so ago, I had serious doubts as to whether I'd ever be able to exercise strenuously again.  I completed the race in 28:48, with a 9:18 min./mi. average.  I hope to do a 10k race this fall.
***cutest cheering section

Shannon and I both brought last year's T-shirt... we got a rise out of being all matchy-matchy.  

On Nate's birthday he, Shannon, & I did the dune hike.  This is a strenuous 3.75-or-so mile hike over and through the sand dunes to Lake Michigan.  It was a gorgeous day!
***atop the 2nd big dune, overlooking Glen Lakes.

***birthday boy with his daughters & nieces

We SO enjoy having family here.  It does our souls good to reconnect.  We were pretty spoiled to have lived in the same town as many of them, for so long.  We look forward to the times when each of their families can come up and see us.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vacay to PA

We trekked out to Pennsylvania for a week, to visit Nate's sister Shannon and her clan. 
She has 3 girls, nearly stair-stepped with our own.  It is a mighty emotional time whenever those six girls are together, lemme tell ya.

Despite the rain, threatening clouds, and severe thunderstorms, we all had a wonderful time!  
We visited Chocolate World (above )and drooled over all the confectionery delights... and Monkey Joe's (below).

They aren't so good at settling down for campouts.  Two years ago when we let them attempt this, we finally called it quits just after midnight.  But after 4 nights of begging, we let them give it a try.  They did much better this time!

We got such a kick out of all the cups and plates all lined up in a row!  Those girls can PUT IT AWAY.  Sorta like their mommies...

Chloe Belle turned 4 while we were there.  Ellia's birthday is just a few days later (six, you guys.  SIX!  Can't go there.)  so we had a joint party.  They were such sweet birthday girls.

I mean, SO SWEET.

Our friends made a special dessert for Ellia's birthday.  We're so thankful whenever we can visit family and friends!  They're precious to us!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Easily Pleased

The girls are at such a great stage right now.  Sleeping through the night, but not too big to need hugs and snuggles. Learning at lightning-quick speed, and becoming great conversationalists!  Big enough to feed and toilet themselves (CAN I GET A WITNESS!??), but still little enough to be sweet and innocent and filled with wonder. 
***hiking the boardwalk along the Boardman River***

One thing I hope they never outgrow is their ability to be delighted easily.  It doesn't take much at all to please them--a sunny day, a picnic lunch, a living room campout...dessert.  I so want them to be women of contentment!

~~All we need is what God has given us.
And whatever that may be, it is more than we deserve!~~