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Monday, June 29, 2009

A new cousin

Ain't she cute!?!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cleaning rust marks

{I've now received quite a few e-mails telling me that my blog has been hacked - the reality is that this really is me, Sheryl mom of 3 and wife to Pete, and I wrote this annoying product advertisement all by myself.  I'm the world's biggest goober.  But thanks to all of you who already read it - and a double thanks to those of you who were thoughtful enough to e-mail me.}

I'm not a huge fan of most cleaning products.  They usually do only part of what they claim to do.  **BUT** I have found the most amazing way to keep my toilets from getting those horrible red marks from our rusty well water.  (I know, I know . . . a whole post devoted to cleaning toilets - my life is SOOO thrilling.  Go ahead, laugh.)

I have been using Kaboom Scrub-Free for about a year now, and I have not had the nasty red marks return AT ALL.  Granted, I had to do a thorough cleaning to begin with - using pumice stone and lots of elbow grease, but it was worth it.  Seriously, every toilet in my house sparkles every day.  I'm loving this!  It is safe for my septic, only needs to be replaced a few times a year, and IT WORKS.  (I still  "swish" my toilets regularly, but I never have to scrub or use any chemicals, just the toilet brush)

On the box it says to replace it every three months.  I have found that it can go even longer in our house, but when I refill one toilet cleaner, I do them all.  It just makes it easier for me to remember.  I also don't use the stickers they provide the way they say to.  Instead of placing the sticker on my toilet tank (which is rather gaudy) I put it on my calendar on the day I think I will need to replace them as a reminder to check.  

Okay, so If you have made it this far you obviously have some toilets of your own that drive you crazy.  Go to the Kaboom website and they will send you one for FREE!  Do it!  I know you will thank me later.

~ End of Potty Talk you may return to your much more exciting life now.   

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Enjoying the Lake

I love the funny way that babies look when you scrunch them into a lifejacket - and holding them is even funnier.  It is like trying to hold a giant wiggly basketball on your lap.  Not the easiest of tasks.  

So far the fishing has been lousy - but we still don't have our licenses yet, so that's probably a good thing.  
Camp is a great place to rest - especially when there is a cozy warm newborn snuggling up with you.  I think all of us have taken a turn "helping" the baby to take her nap.

This is the greatest place to really get out and enjoy nature.  Since watching the dragonfly metamorphoses last year, we now seem to spot them everywhere.  We have discovered that you can easily hold them while they finish filling out and drying their wings.  It is so exciting to watch as they take flight for the first time.

That is our phoebe who decided to build her nest in the boat house.  Unfortunately, it usually gets too hot in there for the babies to survive, but with all of the rain and cold weather this year, they might have a chance.

We saw a juvenile bald eagle on blueberry island last year (my oldest has been using the eagle's feather as a part of her favorite costume) and this year we were excited to see that it had found a mate and was building a nest on the island.  We haven't seen either of them in a few weeks.  Hopefully they won't be too bothered by the boat traffic.  Oh, and if you can't picture just how large and high the nest is, here is a photo of the entire island.  The nest is on the top of the third tree in.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I love my Dad

I love my dad's sense of humor, especially when it comes to creative gift wrapping involving rolls of duct tape.

I love that my dad would often spend half of his lunch hour driving just so that he could spend the other half with me.

I love that my dad knows my heart so well that before my sweetheart could work up the courage to ask for my hand in marriage, my dad gave him a ladder for Christmas and told him to "take the hint."

I love that he calls me to make sure that my mom is okay even though he sees her every single day of his life.

I love my dad's deep desire to serve the Lord, his dedication to his mission, and his amazing ability to explain complicated Biblical lessons to me in a way that makes it easy for me to grasp the point.

I love my dad's sentimental side. That he still has the valentine that I made for him in 4th grade (or maybe 5th - I don't remember, but I'm sure he does) hanging in his closet, and that he carries our pictures in his wallet.

I love that he would often take our family for rides "to the Mountains" or "to the Beach" and he would barely even stop the car at the destination. His goal was to spend time together, not to get to a tourist site.

I love that my Dad has modeled for me by his faithful example, how to love my husband, parent my children, and live my faith. 

I love that when I was just learning to drive he took me to the mall parking lot and allowed me to drive around, and around, and around, and around . . . without once yelping or trying to put on the imaginary brakes, even though he wanted to. (the yelping and braking were Mom's department)

I love that he never thought of his girls as "just girls" and he happily brought us along to Star Wars movies, camping, or to the rock swap.

I love that my dad took the time to write me my very own paraphrase of Proverbs for my wedding day.

I love, love, LOVE that he would let my mom sleep in and would chat with us while he made his famous Saturday morning coffee cake.  YUM!  

I love that he loves my kids and has fun playing with them and giving them "huggles." 

I love that he still refers to me and my sisters as "my girls." It makes me feel as if I am part of something special.

I love that he has always made me feel safe, just by his presence.

I love you Daddy!  Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 19, 2009


"The one thing children wear out faster than shoes is parents."
John J. Plomp

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crying in the Rain

Stubbornness runs in our family. Honestly. There is an infamous story about my husband sitting on the porch as a child, n@ked, in below freezing weather. He was so intent on doing things his own way that he wrapped his clothing around him rather than put it on as his parents requested. This weekend my son had his turn to live out this story.

Each morning when we are at camp our routine is to dress and then go next door for breakfast. So, when we asked my 4 year old to get dressed we certainly weren't asking anything unusual, BUT he decided that he was too cold to take his pajamas off. I warned him that if he wasn't ready by the time I fed the baby and got his sister's hair brushed that we would leave, and he would have to stay behind with Daddy.

His response? He wailed louder, and lay on the ground. Everyone got ready, we made beds brushed teeth, the whole routine - and he cried. As we were putting on our coats and shoes we gave him another reminder that he couldn't go unless he was dressed. He still wouldn't obey . . . so I left with the girls.

Later my husband walked into the lower camp giggling. Our son had finally agreed to dress himself, but when Dad put the child's raincoat on "wrong" (buttoning only one button rather than all of them) he lost it again. Did he button them himself? No. Did he run quickly between houses to keep from getting wet and cold? No

He followed his father just a few yards and then stood on the path crying, and crying, and crying. For a LONG time. Well over 5 minutes, maybe 10. I'm not sure exactly how long, but it was REALLY LONG. And in the pouring rain no less.

So while he cried in the rain we sat in the warm camp eating our breakfast and watching his giant tantrum. It's probably a sign that I'm some sort of warped person, but I think it was actually really funny - who, other than a stubborn kid, would intentionally stand in the rain complaining that he is cold when he could walk just a few more feet and come indoors?

It was hard for all of us not to giggle when he finally realized that he wanted to come in more than he wanted to prove his point.

Discipline isn't easy - sometimes it is downright confusing. Remember this stunt he pulled? This kid is going to keep me on my toes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Rainy Day

Remember last week when I was reminiscing about childhood fun with maple helicopters?  Well, they aren't fun as anymore.  

This morning I was walking from my kitchen to the dining room when I felt a large SPLAT on the top of my head.  Huh???  I immediately phoned my husband.  He drove home and began hurrying around the house trying to figure out where the leak was coming from.  He poked holes in the ceiling, checked any obvious plumbing joints, and then looked up at our roof.  Yup, you guessed it, the gutters had become blocked with thousands of helicopters.  So this is how he spent the morning:
Luckily his hard work seemed to solve the leak.  Hopefully this week's FIAR nature study won't be so dramatic.

This week Leanne suggested that we study birds.  Well, with rain forecasted for the next 4 days, we aren't going to be seeing too many birds today, so I asked my oldest if she wanted to write a story about something she has seen at our birdfeeder.  I expected a story about birds, but that isn't what I got.  Here is her funny handiwork:

The Lost Suet Feeder and the Naughty, Naughty Squirrel
by A (6)
It was a rainy day.  I went outside and saw no suet feeder, but then I found the feeder on the ground.  I went to get it.  My feet got clean because the water falled like rain.  Then I grabbed it and ran back home inside.  I was clean as a whistle.  I looked at the feeder and saw that it was chewed, and I didn't know who chewed it.  I thought.  It must have been a naughty squirrel.  

We have to have a new string.  A really really strong one . . . tough.  We could use a tough rope that squirrels and chipmunks can't chew it.  We could use the old chain!  The chain that held the swingset together.  The squirrel can chew it but the feeder will never fall again.  The birds will feel good.  They will like it when they see the suet feeder fixed, but the naughty squirrels will be angry.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

First Baby Smile

This little lady brightens up my day.  For a while now she has been smiling with her eyes only - she opens them wide when she makes eye contact with us and they seem to sparkle.  Her mouth was a bit harder for her coordinate, but she finally figured it out last weekend.  It is fun to think that she is beginning to want to connect and communicate with us.  She regularly copies our facial expressions, moving her tongue and widening her eyes to match what we do. 

Her daddy calls her his little "toothless wonder"

What is it about a baby's smile that is so heart-warming and addictive?  It sweeps away every care in the world.   

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Maple Tree "Helicopters"

Leanne over on the FIAR boards has just begun a weekly Nature Study challenge with the goal of getting all of us outdoors to focus on and enjoy God's creation all around us.  This week the topic is to choose a tree to follow as the seasons change.  
The kids had begun studying our Maple trees this past spring (before I dropped the ball when baby arrived).  We attended an Audubon Society class on maple sugaring in March and received a ton of great maple materials - so those all got pulled out again today.  I presented the kids with the pile of coloring pages before lunch and allowed them to flip through and color for as long as they wanted.  Later in the day I sent them out to study the trees on their own.  My oldest was excited to identify the trees herself and commented that it was much easier "when the trees are wearing their leaves."  After a while of poking, picking, climbing, kicking, hanging, and pulling on our poor Silver Maple trees, they became fascinated with the seeds - which we call "helicopters," and we had a great time throwing them up into the air and watching them spin and float on the breeze.     

Back inside we made these seed toys from another great handout at the Audubon Society:

I remember playing with maple seeds with my sisters when we were kids.  We loved them!  Each spring we would happily toss handfuls up into the air and watch them twist and turn their way back to the grass.  You know what - I did exactly the same thing today, and I loved it just as much.  It's funny how simple things can make you feel so happy.

And on a completely unrelated nature note:
We have a pair of bald eagles nesting on Blueberry Island directly across from our living-room window at camp.  We noticed them last weekend and could see the progress on the nest when we returned 4 days later.   It was too windy and cold for me and the baby to go in the boat to get a close-up view, but we'll try to go and take some photos next weekend.  How amazing is that?