Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some Things Get Better With Age

Friday, December 21st was Shannon's 38th birthday. We made Shannon a pink champagne cake for his birthday. He wasn't wild about having a pink cake, but he liked the way it tasted.

I have included a picture of Shannon and I from October 1988, taken at my grandparent's 50th Anniversary party.

Twenty years have brought a multitude of changes to our lives. Gone are those carefree college days. I am at the point in my life where I can say I am truly thankful for all of the trials and tribulations we have gone through, simply because we traveled the road together. God has lead us and taught us many lessons, most importantly to trust completely in Him. He took two stubborn, strong-willed people and brought us to our knees before Him.

Shannon, Happy Birthday. I could not ask for a better husband. You are a strong leader in our family, and an excellent father. I admire you and love you more and more as time goes by. Thank you for all you do for me and our children.

"The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him." Proverbs 23:24

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

School Daze

I think we are all in a funk around here about school. I was just whining to a friend and fellow homeschooler (Hi Mary!) about the shortcomings and supposed failures of subjecting ourselves and our children to this lifestyle. She emailed me back an encouraging note reminding me just why we have chosen this path. We may not do everything "by the book", the same way the public school does things, but that is part of WHY we homeschool. God likes our children home with us, and has entrusted them to Shannon and I to raise to the best of our ability--with an abundance of His help, guidance, and stamina.

Because we were all inclined to not open too many text books today (we did our Bible time this morning), I have determined to make the "non school" things we do "schoolish". For example, Chase decided to bake a cake this afternoon. It was a plain old French Vanilla box mix. We decided to spice it up a little with some food coloring. He applied the drops of color, then mixed them up to make a rainbow. Just think of all the school we did, just in baking a cake. We did Math (measuring), Home Ec (cooking), Art, Graphic Design, Science, Photography, Language Arts, Reading. Boy, that sounds like a lot of school work. I'm exhausted. I think we'll be done for today!

"Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth." Proverbs 4:5

The Bruiser

Hudson is learning to walk. Along with that comes a myriad of bumps and bruises as he crashes to the floor. Saturday morning he fell into the computer table, giving himself a beauty of a black eye. It's at the stage where it has almost every color of the rainbow. It was quite swollen the first day, but the puffiness has gone away now.

It hasn't slowed him down, though. All of the kids are anxious for him to start walking everywhere. They are constantly working with him. Yesterday he walked all the way across the living room without assistance. The big kids clap for him, and then he starts clapping too, and loses his balance. Too funny.

"He who walks with integrity walks securely..." Proverbs 10:9

Go Out For the Pass

For years Shannon has been known for carrying his babies around under his arm like a football. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Hudson adores Alex, and his whole face lights up when Alex walks in the room. This picture shows Alex holding Hudson when he was only one day old.

This one shows Alex playing football with Hudson after church on Sunday.
They're best buddies.

"A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Tree 2007

The search for our annual Christmas tree began on Saturday. We loaded up the kids in two vehicles (we still had Papa Joe's truck) and headed north to Holly Berry Farms. Upon arrival, we all piled into the truck and headed up the snow covered path to pick out a tree. With a little slipping and sliding, we were reluctant to veer too far from the beaten path. We cruised around a bit scoping out some trees, and finally decided on a nice, full Scotch pine.

This particular tree was smaller than those we normally pick out, but I was able to convince everyone that once it was inside it would look much bigger. I am notorious for being a bit of a Scrooge, and lobby every year to keep the tree out on the front deck rather than in the house. So far I have been vetoed. The tree wasn't much of a challenge to saw down, and each of the boys got a turn helping.

We decorated the tree in record time, and it was quite beautiful, until Colton decided to add some more of their homemade ornaments. The girls have been busily redecorating ever since we put the tree up. Amazingly, Hudson has left the tree alone.

"But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil." Proverbs 1:33

Super Chase!

Out of eight children, we were bound to have at least of them turn out to be a super hero--especially with Shannon's gene's! Here are some pics of Chase after recycling the foil we used for our Christmas baking last week.

"He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoeer trusts in the Lord, happy is he." Proverbs 16: 20

Miscellaneous Pictures

This is a picture of Naomi's pretty curls.

This is an example of why I don't like to feed the children Oreos or Cheetos.

This is just a picture of Katie being pretty.

"Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding." Proverbs 3:13

Lemon Face

Papa Joe took us out to eat the night before he flew out to Virginia to visit Shannon's brother John. This picture shows Hudson's first experience tasting a lemon. The funny part was, he would stick it in his mouth, get the classic "lemon face", then smile and do it all over again.

Chase was being photographer for the evening, and Katie gave him the classic "LOSER" sign while he snapped this one. Where do they learn these things?

"A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance..." Proverbs 15:13

The old shall be made new

This chair once belonged to my grandparents. Much like the majority of the furniture in our home, it is older than I am. The reality is that having eight children is not conducive to new furniture. Besides, they don't make 'em like they used to. I have recovered this chair several times. Since the chair is going to be in Colton and Bryce's room now, we decided to do something a bit unconventional with it.

It is now very soft and cuddly, and the kids love snuggling in it. I think Colton has spent more nights sleeping in it than in his bed since it has been finished. I can only imagine what Grandma would think of it now!

"In the house of the righteous there is much treasure..." Proverbs 15:6

It was bound to happen eventually...

Naomi has added her name to the list of those in our family who have gotten stitches. She fell and bonked her head on the fireplace, splitting her forehead open near the hair line. Now, if she had been a boy, we would have pulled out the super glue and fixed her right up. But as it were, we felt the need to take her to the ER. In all of our experience with children and stitches, we have yet to have a child hurt him/herself during office hours. Naomi was a brave little girl (really, she was just clueless about what was going to happen) while the doctor stitched her, and only shed a tear when she was wrapped up on the papoose board. She received two little stitches, and is now as good as new.
For the record, we still have three children who have not required stitches.

"Ponder the path of your feet, and let your ways be established." Proverbs 4:26

Thanksgiving 2007

This year we hosted Thanksgiving at our home. Our guests included my parents and my Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Jerry. Katie and I started our preparations early in the week by chopping onions, celery and carrots. This was Katie's first experience with onions making her cry. The tears are kind of hard to find in the picture, but they're there. Colton came in the room while we were chopping and found both of us "crying". He was very concerned about what had made both of us cry.

This is a picture of the first turkey I have ever attempted to make. Shannon has always handled that chore in the past. He did help me out at times this year. For example, it was his job to take the bag of innards out of the bird and dispose of it. My recipe stated I had to add the turkey neck to a pot of water with celery, onions and carrots to make some turkey broth for the dressing. After taking a look at the turkey neck, I decided it could be Shannon's job to put it in the pot. ICK! After the broth had been simmering for several hours, Alex walked into the kitchen to find out what smelled so good and see if could have some. I told him to help himself. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw that big ol' turkey neck floating in the pot. Priceless! Shannon also was assigned the job of rubbing the butter up under the turkey's skin, because I certainly didn't want turkey slime under MY fingernails. I put the 20 pound bird in the oven way before sunrise on Thursday morning, expecting it to be done around 11:00. It was done at 10:00, instead. Shannon took it out of the oven. I guess overall, Shannon did a lot more to prepare this turkey than I did, but I was the one telling him what to do, so I should get SOME credit. All of the food made it to the table on time, and the only casualties were the yeast rolls I attempted to make. I had made them 4 times in the past two weeks with no problems, but this time they did not rise. I guess it really does matter what temperature the water is when dissolving the yeast.

We had a nice day of family and fellowship, reflecting on all of the blessings God has given us. We truly do have an abundance of blessings to be thankful for.

"She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household..." Proverbs 31:15

Fun and Games

One of the neatest things about living in a big family is that there is never a lack of playmates. This is a picture of the boys playing a game of Risk. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon on a Fall day.

"A friend loves at all times, but a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17

Pancake Day

Chase's favorite meal is pancakes. When we make pancakes, we make A LOT of pancakes. I usually mix up about 4-6 batches of Betty Crocker's recipe at a time, and freeze or refrigerate the leftovers for breakfast the rest of the week. Rarely do we make pancakes in the morning. We usually do them for lunch. I'm able to cook 8 of them at a time on my griddle, which is barely fast enough to keep up with the demand. We buy syrup by the gallon.

This is a picture of the leftovers from one of our pancake days. The kids LOVE it when I agree to make them chocolate chip pancakes. We also made some Harvest pancakes recently, which they enjoyed.

"A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth..." Proverbs 13:2

Alex's 15th Birthday

Alex turned 15 on November 17th. He celebrated by inviting some of his friends from church over for cake, ice cream, and fun.

What more can we say about Alex. This picture says it all.


"Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many." Proverbs 4:10

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Day in the Park

Several weeks ago we spent some time at the park in Hudson. I've included some pictures of our time there. It was a beautiful fall day!

Chase driving with his eyes closed

Who will be the last one standing?

Not Chase or Katie!

Hudson loved the swings

Hudson's Funny Face

How to do the Monkey bars

How NOT to do the Monkey bars

Girls on the tire swing

Who will be the last one standing (again)?

Shannon will win at all costs!

"But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18

Football is Over

Our G-R Rebels football season is officially over, although Alex started his off-season training schedule today. Alex was able to dress for the varsity football game vs. Dike-New Hartford Friday evening. He didn't see any playing time, but not all of the Freshman were asked to dress, so there is some honor in just being able to stand on the sidelines. The Rebels played a great game against the Wolverines and beat their long-time rival 13-6 to end their season.

Bryce had his final flag football game yesterday. He won 2 out of 4 games this season.

Chase's final game was rained out on Oct. 14th, and they chose not to schedule a make up date, although Chase begged for one more chance to smash someone. Alas, he'll have to wait until next year.

Jackson's team had a pretty dismal season, although he had some impressive individual stats. He, too, would have liked more opportunities to play.

We hardly know what to do with ourselves now that we aren't going to three games per week.

Basketball practice starts November 12th.


"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9

New Babies

Last weekend we were doing some shopping in Marshalltown, and stopped at Theisen's. Outside their door were three boys playing with four little puppies. We had Colton, Katie, Naomi and Hudson along with us, so we all went to pet the puppies. The boys told us they were selling them for $50.00. Just the week before Jackson had told us he wanted a puppy for his birthday, and since we hadn't gotten him anything yet, we decided to bring one home. About that time, the boys' dad came over and talked to us. He told us we could pick whichever one we wanted, and could take it for free. EVEN BETTER! We called Jack and gave him the choice of a black or white one. He chose black, so we finished our shopping, including some Puppy Chow, and loaded up and went home. The little guy snuggled in my lap the whole way home.

We had a youth group activity that evening, and the pup came along, too, just because we couldn't bear to leave him home his first evening. Sadie didn't react too badly to him, although she did seem a bit jealous.

Alex got a notion in his head that he should have a dog, too, so Sunday on our way home from Ben's birthday party we contacted the owners and got a white pup. This time they wanted their $50.00. It was still two for the price of one, so who could resist?

We named the black pup Domino and the white one Checkers, in memory of "the best dog ever", Yahtzee. They really seem to enjoy being together, and have been much more content. Domino spent quite a bit of time yipping during that first lonely night with us. Apparently Sadie didn't snuggle up against him. Although Sadie was a little less excited to see another puppy appear on Sunday, she has since taken care of them, and they all snuggle together when sleeping, now.

"A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor..." Proverbs 17:8a

Geography Cooking

In school this year we are combining geography with a cooking class. Each week we study a different state, and cook some recipes native to that state. We're working on the eastern states now, and have covered Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut. The recipes we've made include Vermont Apple Stuffed Pork Chops and Maple Cream Pie, New Hampshire Frankfurters, New Hampshire Maple Syrup Pie, Connecticut Bread Pudding, Massachusetts Corn Bread, and Maine Molasses Cookies. The kids enjoy cooking, and it's one less meal (or snack) I have to prepare!

This is the Maple Cream Pie

"When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you;" Proverbs 23:1

Jackson Turns 13

On October 14th Jackson turned 13. We celebrated on the Friday prior to his birthday by inviting his 7th grade football team over to our house after school. What's 16 more boys running around the yard?!?

They were all very well behaved, and pretty much stayed outside as long as there was food available. We had spent the morning baking cookies, cakes and brownies. Grandma Shirley even brought a batch of chocolate chip cookies out for us, just in case we ran out. I made made-rites and had chips and juice for them, as well. After 8 gallons of juice, I had to cut them off and serve them water.

They held a football tournament before dinner, and continued to the championship after we ate. Once it turned dark, they moved on to Ghosts in the Graveyard. There were a few tense moments around 9:00pm. Shannon had been outside playing with the kids, when a group of them ran up to him and told him there were a couple big things out in the field behind the house, and they were coming toward them. All of the guys ran to the garage and grabbed weapons such as tiki torches, skateboards, fishing poles, and even 2X4's. Shannon started heading out to the field to check it out, with his fearless (fearful?) companions anxiously hanging onto his arms. In the meantime, a couple other guys and Jackson headed back to the house to get me. I had been inside with the little ones watching TV. Jack told me he had been calling for Shannon and he wouldn't answer. The other boys wanted me to get the gun. Knowing that last fall there had been cougar tracks spotted less than a mile from our home, all I could think of was, "What am I going to tell their parents?!?". Jack and I headed out into the field (without any weapons) to check out what was going on while the other two boys decided they would stay inside to watch the little kids. Sure enough, off in the distance there were two large black objects with a light shining behind them. If one looked hard enough, it did look like they were moving closer. All of a sudden we heard screaming. Jack and I took off running toward the noise, and soon came upon the band of boys with Shannon. It ended up that the two big black things were silos in the distance, with a combine light shining and moving behind them, making them appear as if they were moving closer. Of course, at that point, all of the boys admitted that they were never even scared, just trying to scare Shannon.

After all of that excitement, we headed inside for cake and ice cream and a rousing game of Bingo. We took all of the boys home around 11:00pm, thankful that none of them had been mangled by wild animals. We'll be sure to remind them of this night in about 5 years.

"Do not be afraid if sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught." Proverbs 3:25, 26

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jack's Arm

Jackson called home during football practice this evening saying he had hurt his arm. Shannon drove to Gladbrook, picked him up, took him to the office in Reinbeck, and x-rayed him. There doesn't appear to be any fracture, but it is quite swollen and painful. We've been electrical stimming it and icing it down alternately tonight. He's hoping to be able to play in his game on Thursday. Participation in tomorrow's practice is yet to be determined. We're very thankful it wasn't broken. Jackson would have been crushed. I don't think we've had a broken bone for over three years!

Oh, and just for the record, Jack didn't cry. We've told the boys they're not allowed to cry on the football field unless a bone is sticking out of their arm or leg.

As you can see, Shannon still has his remote! We've owned it for almost 12 hours now and it hasn't gotten lost.

Jack's not so sure he's going to be well enough tomorrow to do school...

"They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it." Proverbs 25:35

Problem Solved

One of Shannon's biggest irritants is coming home from a long day at the office, sitting down to watch a football game, and not being able to locate the remote control to the television. Nearly every day we have to go on a fervent search under couch cushions for the missing remote. We have finally solved this problem. We bought a new remote at Dollar General today. He's confident that this one won't get lost. I'm not so sure...

"...and those who seek me diligently will find me." Proverbs 8:17

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sectional Sofa

I finished recovering the sectional last week. Mary reminded me today that I need to post some pictures.

I still have TONS of fabric left, so I'll need to decide what to work on next...

"Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls." Proverbs 25:28

Biker Baby

Here's a cute picture of Hudson with the motorcycle helmet on. It will be awhile before he gets his first ride!

"My son, fear the Lord..." Proverbs 24:21

Monday, September 17, 2007


Alex's Freshman team played Dike-New Hartford last Thursday. They lost 44-0. There's not much else to say.

Jackson's 7th Grade team played Grundy Center the same evening. They lost 40-0. There's not much else to say.

Tonight Jackson's team played Union (LaPorte City/Dysart). They played MUCH better than they did last week. Jackson had tons of tackles and ran the ball well. He was instrumental in the Rebel's score, as he threw a halfback pass to connect with his receiver and score a touchdown. He had lots of hard hits, and is feeling them now. He's ready to take a tylenol and go to bed (after Monday Night Football).

Alex's JV team played Grundy Center. He played defensive tackle, offensive line, and special teams. He had a good, solid game as well. His team won 30-0. Several of his friends from church played on the GC team.

Chase played BCLUW yesterday in Union. He played a tough game and had a lot of tackles. The team struggles offensively, and ended up with a loss of 13-6.

Chase played his first soccer game of the season on Saturday, and won 5-2. He scored one goal.

"The glory of young men is their strength..." Proverbs 20:29

100 Things I Love...

I've had several jobs throughout my life, but none so all-encompassing as mothering my children. I've resolved to compile a list of 100 things I love about mothering. I challenge you to do the same. Time me....we'll see how long this takes!

1. I love baby belly laughs.
2. I love snuggles from Naomi when she first wakes up in the morning.
3. I love baking with Chase.
4. I love when the light comes on in a child's eyes after he finally "gets it" in math.
5. I love bouquets of flowers from Colton in the spring.
6. I love hearing "I found my missing shoe!".
7. I love gathering the family together, popping popcorn, and watching a movie.
8. I love cheering for my boys in football.
9. I love baking and decorating birthday cakes.
10. I love clean laundry (after it's been put away).
11. I love watching Shannon wrestle with the littles.
12. I love naptime.
13. I love holding hands with little children, just because we can.
14. I love when potty training is finally done.
15. I love painting little girl fingernails and toes.
16. I love dirty knees after the kids have been outside playing all afternoon.
17. I love the joy the children get out of making tents in the living room and dining room.
18. I love Easter morning when everyone is in their Sunday best and we take a picture together.
19. I love kindergarten.
20. I love watching the children's faces when they catch a fish.
21. I love playing bingo with the whole family.
22. I love mowing the grass with Jackson.
23. I love watching the big boys help out with the little girls.
24. I love watching Colton look up to Alex.
25. I love watching my girls play mommy with their baby dolls.
26. I love when my boys score goals in soccer.
27. I love Christmas morning.
28. I love when the the children dress up in Halloween costumes in March.
29. I love eating chocolate chip cookie dough with the kids for an afternoon snack.
30. I love working together to clean the house so we can have company over.
31. I love listening to bedtime prayers.
32. I love listening to little girls giggling for no apparent reason.
33. I love when school is all done for the week.
34. I love watching Shannon play football outside with the kids.
35. I love that the children think their dad is the greatest.
36. I love singing songs in the car.
37. I love watching the children swing.
38. I love listening to made up stories.
39. I love hearing a naughty child say "I'm sorry".
40. I love when Bryce writes me notes during evening church that say, "I love you Mom".
41. I love when my children sing along with the hymns in church.
42. I love watching my children race to the tree in the front yard and back.
43. I love it when my children play board games together.
44. I love sniping an Ebay auction with my boys.
45. I love hearing my son's name announced over the loud speakers at football games over and over again.
46. I love it when Katie and Naomi carry the little kittens around.
47. I love washing lots of dirty dishes on a cold day.
48. I love children in footie pajamas.
49. I love reading stories to little ones, all snuggled up under a blanket.
50. I love pink cheeks on a cold winter day.
51. I love putting pretties in the girls' hair.
52. I love when my children ask me to pray for them.
53. I love talking to Alex late at night when he forgets that it's not cool to talk to his mom.
54. I love when my children put money in the offering plate at church without me asking or reminding them to.
55. I love when we're reading the bible together and the boys have unbelievable insights.
56. I love watching Monday Night Football with Jackson and Chase.
57. I love when Katie and Naomi pretend to nurse their baby dolls.
58. I love when Hudson falls asleep in my arms.
59. I love Alex.
60. I love having healthy children.
61. I love trying to figure out what Naomi is saying to me in her little girl gibberish.
62. I love it when we take the kids to the Dollar Tree and tell them they can pick out any one thing in the whole store.
63. I love sharing french fries at Burger King.
64. I love hearing how many sections the children completed at Awana.
65. I love going to family camp at IRBC with my family.
66. I love watching four little children in the bathtub playing together.
67. I love watching the kids have water balloon fights on a hot summer day.
68. I love little girls in sun dresses.
69. I love playing cards with the kids.
70. I love Jackson.
71. I love giving haircuts.
72. I love moving the furniture around with Alex.
73. I love watching my boys make a basket during a basketball game.
74. I love sitting in a pew with my whole family on Sundays.
75. I love Chase.
76. I love it when Shannon bakes Dragon Cookies with the children and tells them the dragon story.
78. I love hugs.
79. I love it when Hudson's eyes light up and he smiles when I enter a room.
80. I love hearing the kids tell corny knock knock jokes.
81. I love leading my children to Christ.
82. I love Mother's Day.
83. I love listening to the kids talk to one another.
84. I love hearing "What else can I do for you, Mama?"
85. I love holding hands when we pray before meals.
86. I love seeing Chase and Naomi taking a nap together on the sofa.
87. I love fingerprints on my windows.
88. I love Bryce.
89. I love memorizing bible verses with the kids.
90. I love arm wrestling with the kids, and still being able to beat them (most of the time).
91. I love Colton.
92. I love watching Dora the Explorer and Blue's Clues over, and over, and over again.
93. I love Katie.
94. I love seeing my children succeed.
95. I love teaching children how to read.
96. I love Naomi.
97. I love looking for the Big Dipper with the children.
98. I love Hudson.
99. I love seeing a child show empathy.
100. I love my children's father.

That took 41 minutes, including bedtime for Hudson and a good dose of Monday Night Football watching. Will you accept the challenge and write down 100 reasons you love mothering your children? Send me a copy of your list!

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shannon's New Hobby

A few weeks ago Shannon decided to take a motorcycle safety/instruction course. He did extremely well in his class, earning a perfect score on his written test and on his driving test. Naturally, the purchase of a motorcycle followed. He bought a 2002 Suzuki Katana last weekend, and has been driving it back and forth to work since. The kids have enjoyed rides around the yard with him. We went for a ride to Grundy Center last weekend. He couldn't convince Papa Joe to go for a ride, though. Papa Joe says he's been on enough motorcycles in his life, he doesn't need any more rides.

Carrie and the boys came over on Tuesday and got rides around the yard.

"The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe." Proverbs 29: 25