Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Edition Random Questions

1. When it comes to Halloween, which are you? 1) All about it. 2) Don't really care. 3) Avoid it.

We like Halloween at this house - not really just Halloween, fall in general I guess. The kids love to dress up and go to the church and play and do all the fun activities on Halloween night. Avery's birthday is the day after Halloween and Isaiah's is on the 5th so they really have a week of celebrating and getting stuff and having fun and its a good time all around. So we might categorize ourselves as "all about it" but we avoid the evil stuff and stick with the pumpkin patches and the costumes and candy - what else could a kid want?

2. What's your favorite element of the Halloween season? Candy, pumpkins, costumes, or kids knocking on your door?

We love the pumpkins and the costumes the most - the kids all like the idea of candy of course, but really we end up throwing so much of it away because they forget about it (that is after mom picks out all the really good chocolate!)

I used to love trick or treating when I was a kid - we lived in the perfect small town for it - so many people you could trust and safely walk around with your friends and even TP a few houses when you got into upper elementary school. So growing up with that I always looked forward to being able to hand out candy when became an adult and got my own house - but it's just not the same around here - it's mostly older kids that come around, older kids that are too old to trick-or-treat and they're in not-so-cute costumes (or no costumes at all, just a pillow case to hold the candy!) we don't hand out candy, we go to the church fall festivals instead....and that's a new fun tradition.

3. Which candy is the one you always hoped you'd get lots of when you did your trick-or-treating?

Snickers bars!!!! What's not to love about that chewy goodness of caramel, chocolate and peanuts! Although I will settle for a Reese's peanut butter cup too.

4. What's your favorite costume that you had, either long ago or recently?

My favorite costume.....hmmmm.....I remember being Chewbacca one year for Halloween, you know those plastic painted smocks and masks with the eye holes cut out that would make your face sweat. I don't know why I remember that one, but I do. I think I was Smurfette one year too. As an adult, I would just like to say that there are very few decent adult women's costumes....a lot of them a quite risque! This year I took an old yellow shirt I had and a yellow head band and hot glued fake sunflowers all over them and I was a field of sunflowers.

5. If you've got kids who are dressing up, what are they gonna be this year?

Now here are the pictures of my kids in their costumes for Halloween this year - our first theme year. Isaiah was a farmer, Huston was a scarecrow (thanks Jen for the idea) and Avery and Lillie were ears of corn (thanks Tammy for that idea). I took Tammy's suggestions, plus a few ideas I had on the internet, plus a few of my own and mixed them all together and I got it all done....and it was relatively inexpensive all in all.

The farmer...

The scarecrow - notice the hay coming out of his cuffs...I tried to convince him to let me stuff his shirt with polyfil but he wouldn't do it...or wear the gardening gloves....oh well....

The harvest of corn....

The cute little baby corn...

The candy corn....ha!

I like this shot because Avery is trying to be a scarecrow too...

The farmer and the scarecrow....

So that was this year's Halloween fun. It's exhausting, but worth it. Working and planning the church event kind of takes away the mama and kids enjoying it all together, but I get to enjoy helping them put the costumes together so it's all good.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ok, Ok, I Give In

I am going to finally "talk politics" - but only in a quote by a very neutral party from a very long time ago. I'm not going to tell you the radio show that I heard this quote on, it might spin it and shade it in a certain light - and I don't want to do that - I just want the quote to speak for itself.

(Disclaimer: This show that I got the quote from, is not even a show that I listen to with regularity, the host of this show drives me crazy with his "chicken little, the sky is falling" approach - so if you have recognized this quote, just know that I don't always agree with that guy...) Your curiosity is killing you now isn't it.

"A democracy is always temporary in nature. It cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time the voter discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years civilizations have always progressed through the following sequence, from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage."

- Lord Alexander Tytler, 1770s

This quote totally sums up what my head has been thinking for quite awhile now and from my view it is the road we are heading down now....I'm not quite sure where I think we are at on that progression (or digression, depending on your perspective) but probably somewhere in the complacency/apathy/bordering on dependence area.

When we continue to look to our government for a hand-out or a social program every time a need arises we basically are saying goodbye to the self-reliant, focused responsibility, and statehood of our forefathers. But that's just my who do you want your dictator to be? Yeah, I'd rather not think about it either.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

She Did It!!!!

Watch out big brothers - look who finally took her first crawling steps. She's been attempting for almost a month - the rocking, the scooting backwards, etc. Lately she would get on all fours be really steady - thinking about how to move forward, then just give up and sit herself up....but today after I changed her diaper this afternoon I put Lillie down on the floor while I went to get her sleeper. She found some baby powder that had spilled and that white powdery mess kept her interest long enough for her to move those hands forward and push with those knees and she took her first "steps" without even realizing what she was doing - so I moved her downstairs and grabbed some things to tempt her to move a toy, cherrios and a notebook (she loves paper - she's already eaten one of Isaiah's pages of homework!) and here is the won't be long before she's too quick to catch.

Catch Up Day

About every 4-6 weeks I have a day that I am too exhausted to do anything of any significance. I call it my catch-up day because I think its just all the running and all the stress of life catching up to me. Today has been one of those days - the morning came too quickly, too many children were up in the night, I have too much stuff on my agenda and not enough time to do it - and anytime I have that scenario - I was even this way all through college - the more that the stuff piles on my to-do list, that list doesn't make me motivated to get up and get working, it just makes me want to sleep. So I go to bed and take a nap and then I usually snap out if it all just in the nick of time to get motivated by the stresses of the deadlines and punch everything out in no time flat.

So that has been today. I am so sleepy. My body is screaming to just lay down and when I get up to do something I wander around with no purpose and can't think straight enough to accomplish anything at all (except making more messes).

Huston had that kind of day today too I guess. He was scheduled to go to his morning of preschool this morning - it starts at 9:00. He woke up at 8:30 grumpier than a bear and argued with me about what he was going to wear. I told him to go back to bed....then I made him get up so that we could take Avery to go spend the morning with G.G. (that plan had already been made - you see my intentions were to get lots of stuff done this morning, just Isaiah and Lillie and me, but nope - didn't work out that way at all). So after we dropped Avery off for the morning I brought everyone back home and sent Huston back to bed - he went without argument and what's more he even fell asleep and slept for almost 3 hours! Lillie went to bed too because she refused to nap yesterday and so she slept this morning too for almost 2 hours.

I smiled at my opportunity and I gave Isaiah some independent school work and also the permission to watch some Andy Griffith and I laid down on the couch and slept - which is what I wanted to do today anyway.

So right now, Avery is home from G.G.'s house and its his nap time....Lillie is ready for nap number 2 and the two older boys headed out into the fenced backyard to enjoy this warmer weather and try out Isaiah new rubber work boots....hmmm...that couch sure looks lonely. I don't think the reality of the stresses of those deadlines have quite penetrated my exhaustion...I might just have to take a second nap!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thank You Becky!

Steven brought home some yummy cookies for the boys from one of his clients at work....the boys sure enjoyed them....I'll let them speak for themselves.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My New Best Friends

So this past week has been kind of a whirlwind. I had been pretty much homebound for about a month for different reasons....husband out of town or had meetings, friends too busy to go and do anything, too tired to attempt to go anywhere, busy at work, etc. It was getting to the point of ridiculous, and I was beginning to think that this mom was never going to get a night out. Then the drought ended I received multiple phone calls from friends and outings were planned, days were reserved....opportunities just started to pour in.

It started last Friday, I invited my co-worker gal from work and her husband over to come eat dinner with all of us crazy kids. It was a fun evening, then we kept busy over that following weekend. On Monday I went out with some friends (still cooked the family some dinner), Tuesday we had our small group from church to our house (I cooked the main dish), Wednesday I went out with my friend Tammy (I still cooked the family dinner), Thursday we had one of Steven's friends from high school over (made him a home cooked meal), on Friday Papa stopped by to take the older boys away from us cause they were heading up to Iowa this weekend to see Grandma's side of the family, so Steven brought some take out home for dinner and finally Saturday night I went to dinner and a movie with another couple of friends (this time my folks helped Steven and had him and the two younger kiddos over for dinner). In between all of this company and outings I had a babysitter come and stay with some of the kids while a select child went to work with me at the church - this happened 3 different times during the daytime hours. So guess who my new best friend is?

The dishwasher!!! I have always had a love/hate relationship with my dishwasher. I love the fact that I do not have to continually wash, rinse and dry every piece of dinnerware that is dirtied in our house....believe me.....but to load and unload the stupid thing is a feat that I usually need to preface with a good motivational pep talk. But this past week with all of its happenings and all of its cooking and entertaining and trying to make my house presentable-ing I completely fell in love with the appliance. Now I don't mind emptying or filling it one bit - in fact its kind of become a game to see how very little time I can spend at straightening up the kitchen. I think I must have had between 10 and 15 loads of dishes this past week alone. Yep, me and my dishwasher have become pretty tight. And the great thing is when the dishwasher is allowed to do its job, Lillie can have a bath in the sink cause its all empty and clean and available to bathe in....

The other friend(s) I have reconnected with recently are my crochet hooks. I used to crochet quite a bit....but my time has not been as free as it used to and I haven't had a project in mind for quite sometime, then I spotted a book in my local arts and crafts store and I bought it on an impulse buy (part of my birthday money I was saving for such an impulsive occasion). Then a project fell into my lap and I grabbed the new book and Voilà....

Isn't he kinda cute? And it really took me no time at all to accomplish. Our church has a craft auction every year to help raise money for missions and this little guy along with some other baby essentials will go on the auction block in about a week - if I can get the Halloween costumes out of the way in sufficient time I may try to make a pal to go with him.

So at this point in time all this gal needs to live a fulfilled life is her crochet hook and a dishwasher....and some yarn, but that's all I need.....and some scissors, but that's it.....and some dishwashing detergent....oh and ok, my family too - alright, alright - I'm a very needy person, Ok!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's the Great Pumpkin....Patch

Yesterday was a very busy day. Wednesday morning is Huston's preschool day and yesterday's morning of school was a field trip to the pumpkin patch outside of town. Since his "school" is a mom's morning out program at a local church they don't have a van or a bus to take the class themselves so they needed the moms to help transport the children. I don't have any of my other kiddos in the program, so everyone in our family went along for the ride and adventure - except for dad (had to work) so I took them all by myself.

So after being stared at for quite a long time by everyone else because I was the only mom with so many kids in tow we slowly all started to feel a bit more comfortable in our surroundings and enjoy the morning. First up was the hay ride. This was while we were still a side show and so we had the back portion of the wagon pretty much to ourselves. Here are the kids waiting for the tractor to take off - Lillie is actually looking forward in this picture - she was constantly putting her head down to explore the hay, grass, dirt, leaves, pumpkins and whatever else was around her.

Avery giving me a "cheese"

Here is the rest of the class with their moms, dads, grandparents, etc.

The hay ride took us around their property and showed us all that was in store for the morning. Animals, pumpkin patches, photo opportunities, and a hay bale maze were a few of the many things that could be enjoyed. When the tour was over the driver dropped us off at the pumpkin patch...

They each got to pick a small pumpkin and then we fed animals. I tried desperately to get a group shot of the kids smiling and looking at the camera - too much to ask I guess, I just plain gave up. Later, after our novelty had warn off, one of the moms really was a great help to us and volunteered to take a shot with me in the picture. She also helped me with Lillie quite a bit - so very nice to have the extra pair of hands at times.

I didn't get any pictures of the animals or the hay bale maze because I just didn't have time to get out the camera - children running everywhere - in a good way though. Here are a few other shots of the morning.

Hello.....Lillie....please look at the camera, just once....please....

Thank you...close enough, I'll take it.

So after that was done we stopped over for Ms. Phyl's 102nd birthday party reception. She looked so pretty and it was nice to share this event with her. Here is my grandma talking to Ms. Phyl while she held Lillie - Ms. Phyl is old enough to be my grandma's mother - in fact if my great-grandma was still alive today she would be a smidgen younger than Ms. Phyl....

Here is Ms. Phyl with Lillie - the boys wouldn't pose - too much posing at the pumpkin patch I guess - I am amazed how long she can hold on to Lillie...she is so strong for 102! We love Ms. Phyl....she is such a neat lady and such a cute older lady at that.

There is more to show....but it will have to be for another post....I'm tired!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Post for Braska and Her Cool Friends

This month is Down Syndrome awareness month. I know this because in this past year I have reconnected with a long time family friend RK, and her oldest daughter (she's pregnant with daughter number 2, yay!) has Down Syndrome. RK started a blog for sweet Braska when Braska was just a teeny tiny baby with a great big heart problem - it kept everyone posted as to what trials were ahead and also informed us of the countless successes that tough little Nebraska fought her way through. And I'm still keeping up with Braska, and in doing so, it has also flung open a door allowing me to get to know (as much as you can through blogs) countless sweet, adorable, funny, feisty, strong-willed, babies, toddlers and preschoolers that also happen to have Down Syndrome and their lives are too awesome to miss. So now I am a baby junky and love watching these cute kiddos grow up in front of my eyes....on my computer screen.

So check out Braska and her blog, and then go to the right hand side of her blog and click on some links to meet some more neat families...and while your at it click here and check out Parenting Magazines galleries of pictures of these babies....Braska is #13 in the 3rd gallery of photos and she is sooooo cute!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


It's just around the corner - our church usually does a fall festival type party on Halloween night and this year is no exception. As a part-time children's director I help plan the stuff and find wonderful volunteers to help man the stations, it's a bit stressful this year cause I totally put it off and it has sneaked up behind me terribly. We are going to attempt to do a lot of stuff outside for the party this year so we're praying for good weather!

I am not one to poo-poo Halloween, the history of it may be a bit sketchy, but we don't focus on the evil and we make it a fun time of dressing up and spending time at church. I figure that dressing up on Halloween doesn't point you toward following Satan anymore than going to church only on Easter/Christmas makes you a Christ-follower.

It is so fun to see the folks go all out on the costumes. I love the costumes, I love to see the kiddos dressed up, but I am so cheap - it pains me to shell out the cash it takes to have a really fun costume. I tried to hit some of the day after sale racks last year, but I kind of struck out with that - nothing cute in the sizes we would need.

I would love the kids to be coordinated, like a theme-type deal, and this year would really lend itself to doing that because none of the kids are totally determined to be something specific. Last year Isaiah had to be Darth Vader....but this year he really has no clue what he wants to be.

I thought about having them be the trick-or-treat gang from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" but I would still have to buy the white sheets and then no one would recognize who they were supposed to be and I really doubt that the kids (Avery especially) would keep their sheet on.

So, I'm in a quandary. So in exchange for a few pictures of my cute kids (sorry, I know I'm biased) in past Halloween costumes you all can give me any suggestions as to what to do for this year - I am all ears!

(I wish I had a scanner - I would show you a very young Isaiah as Charlie Brown and Mr. Rogers - too cute)

This one is another one of my favorites - Huston as Underdog...

This is the gang last year - a farmer, a pirate and Darth Vader...grandma bought the Darth Vader wear and I found the Pirate costume on clearance at Cracker Barrel and couldn't resist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tragedy and Politics

I know those two things often go hand in hand, but in today's post they are actually two different subjects. Which should we tackle first....hmmm....we'll start with the tragedy.

Last night we had our small group from church come to our house. I was in charge of side dish and dessert. No problem, we had a full tub of neopolitan ice cream and so I made a cake to go with it and that took care of dessert. I know (because I had more than one adult around to spot me) that I put that gallon tub of ice cream into the freezer. In fact, I believe the last one to scoop their helping out put the lid on it and took it to the freezer. But I also think that my ice cream cone addicted husband went back after our guests had left and got the ice cream out to make himself a cone - I know he did this because I remember hearing him do so and thinking - he just had ice cream!

So I believe he is responsible for the scene of tragedy I found this morning....

Yep, that's 3/4 of a gallon of ice cream left out all night and gone to waste. And here is what Isaiah thinks of that....

Just to further substantiate my claim that it was not I who is guilty of this terrible atrocity.... a reminder that Steven has had a history of leaving out ice cream....

Now on to the politics. Yesterday afternoon my oldest two, Isaiah and Huston, were outside playing in the front yard. They were rather quiet so I went to peek at what they were up to and found them doing this....

They found one of Steven's extra political signs in the garage and decided to do a little campaigning on behalf of the prospective MO governor. They had a lot of fun watching the reactions of the people going by...but I must say that I was quite ruffled by the account of one driver's reaction. Huston came in and excitedly informed me that "one guy stuck his tongue out at us!" I'm thinking how very mature that is for a grown-up to stick their tongue out at a 4 year old holding and political sign. I guess politics brings out the best in kind of goes right along with how I feel about this year's election in general!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Last Week

We said Adiós to Steven's brother and his wife - Daniel and Carol - they are on their way back to Carol's home country of Honduras to live for at least the winter months - hard telling how long really. They have built a house down their on Carol's family property and Daniel is trying his hand at coffee and pepper farming, but it will take a few planting seasons for that to really start producing.

We met at Cracker Barrel, our family hang-out, for dinner on their last evening with us...

Lillie is getting so big - she now can sit in a high chair at the table and loves to eat table food. It can't be shoveled in fast enough for her most of the time....she fusses between each bite if it's too long in coming. At the restaurant she chowed down on pancake, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce and whatever else would come her way. I finally just had to remove her from the table cause there was no possible way her belly was big enough to contain all of the food she kept requesting.

The brothers are really so sweet with her. Isaiah now carries her around everywhere and they love to take her into their room (we'll see how long this lasts!). The other day they built a fort for her to sit in and she is usually very content to sit there and watch them play....and chew on a toy or two. Huston and Isaiah almost get to the point of arguing who is going to sit by her - well, ok, they do argue.

Isaiah also likes to share his snacks with her - he is always sure to break them into tiny pieces so she won't they are watching a movie and enjoying some dry cereal.

I think she expected this bite to go into her mouth, what do you think?

Don't worry Lillie, your turn will come soon...

Avery came down with a fever last night and terrible night terrors. Isaiah experiences these from time to time - but I don't think ever with the intensity Avery was having them last night. He was physically shaking he was so scared and a couple times there was absolutely nothing that I could do to snap him out of the looking awake but sound asleep trance. Yikes, those things creep me out. Finally at one point Isaiah came down to check on him he was yelling so loud...and once Avery saw him he calmed right down and woke up...just so strange. Part of the problem was probably the fever.

Steven has been away A LOT the last month it feels like - I just can't wait until we are back into some sort of normal routine again...I hate to say it, but as soon as we get into that routine the holidays will be here and it will fly right out the window again!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

About Steven....

My sister-in-law answered this list of questions on her blog concerning my brother (her hubby) and I thought that it was a good way to highlight our husbands - they are sometimes the forgotten member of the family when we get busy caring for children....and that's sad.

1. He's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
Well, he threw out our TV quite a few years ago - but if he had control of the remote at one of our parents houses he would be watching Lawrence Welk.....I kid you not. He likes to watch it to make fun of it, sort of. Or he would be watching something documentary like - history channel, travel channel, discovery channel, etc.

2. You're out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
He used to be a no dressing man, he graduated to lemon wedges to squirt on the salad, now he will have Italian or house dressings.

3. What's one food he doesn't like?
Nothing goopy please - to him mayonnaise really should be very, very rarely used.

4. You go out to the bar. What does he order?
We don't do bars - but mostly in his past he has drank a beer or two with friends.

5. Where did he go to high school?
Hickman High School here in the town we currently live

6. What size shoe does he wear?
Ooo, this one is really testing me...I think a 10.

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be?
papers - he must save articles he finds interesting and other information....or kitschy junk or souvenirs...he's got too much of his grandfather in him! :o)

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?
I have no idea really, he doesn't usually have favorites, if we are in a sandwich shop he orders a club more often than not.

9. What would he eat every day if he could?
rice or pasta

10. What is his favorite cereal?
some type of granola cereal probably...he's not much of a cereal eater.

11. What would he never wear?
trendy clothing

12. What is his favorite sports team?
oh my, again he is more of a specific player follower than a team and he really enjoys foreign soccer teams more than anything, or bike races like the Tour de France or Giro de Italia

13. Who will he vote for?
he is voting Constitution party this election - Chuck Baldwin....I don't think I am taking away his right to secret ballet by telling you - he wants to post his sign in our yard anyway.

14. Who is his best friend?
the guy he has kept up with most consistently since high school is Matt.

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do?
spend money is probably the biggest one - he thankfully is the saver of the family for sure.

16. How many states has he lived in?
one - a life long Missourian

17. What is his heritage?
mostly German

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake?
one of the few cakes he cares for is a butter pecan cake mix poked and soaked with sweetened condensed milk, topped with cool whip and sprinkled with crushed Score/Heath bar - serve chilled....he will have a piece of other cakes but they don't thrill him usually.

19. Did he play sports in high school?
he was on the golf team in high school believe it or not - hasn't played much since.

20. What could he spend hours doing?
reading....its amazing how much reading the guy does - or biking he loves to bike (as in bicycle not motorcycle).

21. Does he belong to any men's organizations?
He belongs to some community organizations, not strictly for men's groups though - he is active in PedNet which is a group that looks to educate and promote others to use more of a pedestrian lifestyle. He also is on our town's visioning committee helping to solve future dilemmas and plan for the general health of our town, and he is involved in our local community radio station - broadcasting an interview news show every Tuesday evening at 5:00pm.

So there is a little look into the life of my crazy husband. He's a hoot.

Fall '08 Round 3

Blogging is the ironic topic of the day....blogging about blogging - here we go.

1. Why did you start to blog (either your own or reading mine!)?

I started to blog in a way because of RK! We were keeping up with her little one Braska through Braska's blog. Nebraska had a major heart surgery at a very young we (my family) would check in to see how that little fighter was progressing. As she grew and strengthened and developed, it was fun to watch her grow up in front of our eyes. I thought what a neat way to keep long-distance friends and family informed and also what a great way to keep track of all the milestones kiddos accomplish. So that's why I started this blog - to document our family adventures.

2. How many hits do you get in a day, if you have a blog and a SiteMeter or something like that?

I really don't keep track - I used to, and at that time it was around 20 per day - I was kind of getting too wrapped up in it though and it was taking away from the purpose of my blog....which is to simply document what my kids and the family is I took down the site meter and now I just have a counter and I don't pay attention to the number consistently enough to keep track of how many visitors I get in a day.

3. If you lost your ability to read blogs or post on you blog today, what would you miss most?

I would miss gaining perspective. I at times will think I am the only one experiencing something, then I will hop on another blog and read about their struggles with the same thing and it helps me to realize my kids and my family are normal! It also helps in an opposite manner....I can be having a pity party about some insignificant thing and then see what other people are struggling with and that will snap me back to reality pretty quickly! I would also miss keeping up with the families I have connected with.

4. What is something you've learned from another blog that you'll always remember?

I think the major lesson I have learned from following blogs is that really it's a terrible thing to judge and misunderstand other people. I can go into a blog and try to pigeon-hole them by what I read in their profile or what a the first few posts say, but I find that if I keep returning and reading and getting to know them and a bit of their background I can really start to see where their perspective is coming from - it doesn't mean that I totally abandon my convictions and agree with whatever ideology they align themselves with; it has just has allowed me to figure out that their is a story behind every path. And in following their path, it in some way strengthens my own.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Where Did That Week Go? Part 2

Ok, so where did I leave off.....after lots of morning fun at the park catching up with Vicki and her gang, we went on the squirrel search and then lunch. A great place Vicki suggested that served small town home cooking buffet style - can't get any better than that.

After lunch we drove around Edwards county a bit to let the younger ones sleep before we headed to West Salem. When we arrived we were able to tour my beloved Clifton and Frances' former house. Clifton and Frances were our neighbors growing up - we made many trips back to IL to see them. They have passed away, but we still talk about them a lot at our house. Isaiah and Lillie are named for them (their middle names) and Isaiah still talks about how he remembers their house and Frances' cookies (which she let us eat for breakfast)....anyway the house was gorgeous. The old gold shag carpeting had been ripped up and the beautiful hardwood floors underneath were re-stained and look beautiful. They added a bathroom to the main floor and their furnishings really show the house off. It was wonderful to see people take such good care of a place that was so special to so many. I wish Clifton and Frances would have made those same renovations - it would have made their life so much easier in so many ways!

Here's a picture of the kids on their front porch - we saw many a parade and spent many a summer evening visiting on this porch.

After we toured that house we went across the street to the parsonage which had been our house for close to 7 years. We toured it too, and while many changes have been made to it as well, it really still looks like the house I grew up in. I showed the kids where my old bedroom used to be and every room seemed so much smaller than I remembered it! I told myself I was going to take a lot of pictures, but I didn't - gives me a reason to have to go back someday...

From there we went into the church where we saw this mural a guy in the church made for the anniversary celebration....all the men in the mural are the ministers (that are still living) that the church has dad's likeness is on the far right.

That night the church served a chowder and chili supper. All the towns around that area are known for their chowder, which is like a thick vegetable soup (with all kinds of meat). They cook it in these big kettles for hours, stirring it with these wooden paddles. West Salem used to have a Chowder day in August and these pots would be seen steaming and stirring all along the town square. I think the chowder is yummy - none of my boys would try it though - and I didn't take a picture of it to show you what it looked like - bad photographer I am....

Sunday morning the church had a special presentation of its history among many other different specials. My dad sang a song - they always want him to sing for them when he comes to visit - he's got a small town church hymnal singing kind of voice. Here's a terrible shot of dad singing - I was holding Lillie with one hand, taking the picture with the other and leaning out into the isle - not the best photographer's stance.

At the end of the morning sermon, the current minister presented all of the attending former ministers and wives with a basket of goodies. Mom and Dad are the on the left...

We had another good meal after church - love small church pot luck dinners! - then we headed home. Not as many fun stops on the way home, but that meant we made pretty good time though. I failed in the photograph department - its hard to wrangle kids and take pictures. The church is so beautiful and the sun shining through those stained glass windows gives the sanctuary such a warm glow....and I didn't get a picture of any of it - but like I said, just gives me another reason to go back!

When we got back Steven was waiting for us....he had gifts for all of us from his trip - Avery got moose slippers and Isaiah and Huston got a frog boot scrapper (I think that is secretly kind of a mommy gift - he is trying to encourage the boys to scrape off the dirt and sand before they come in the house). He brought me a couple of shirts and yet another huge pencil for the boys to use....what's with the huge pencils?

Here is Isaiah with the boot scraper and Avery wearing his moose slippers....