Monday, July 26, 2010

Mid-Summer Signs

Ann-Marie's tomato plant, Ms. Juliette, is taking over the deck and has produced her first tomato (which I ate and it was GOOD!)
Below, Evan has had a huge growth spurt in his feet - two sizes since the beginning of summer. Look at the shrinking size difference between my foot size and his - my foot is on the left.
And the last summer camp of 2010 for our kids - Skybacker's soccer camp. Evan had a blast!
Now we plan to slow down and enjoy late-July and early- August with a lighter schedule and some special visits from friends. What are some signs at your house that it is the middle of summer?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ArtReach camp and Kennywood day

Last week was a busy, busy week for us. Ann-Marie had Art Reach camp in Wexford every day in the mornings (2nd week of a two week camp.) The boys and I had Vacation Bible School in the morning and we had Kennywood day on Friday (New York Life day). So it took some coordination, patience and energy since all activities landed on that week. Friday was a fun cap to our activities....above, Ann-Marie is performing songs she worked on in her voice class.
Onto Kennywood.....Alec enjoyed Kiddieland again this year, and Ann-Marie was delighted to find out she could do two more rollercoasters this year (Exterminator and Racer!) but she also informed me she could still enjoy Kiddieland with Alec.
Evan is now tall enough to ride all of the rides (over 52") and his new favorite rollercoaster is the one Darrell rode when he was a child - Thunderbolt.

It was hot and humid with one rain shower mixed in - which wasn't bad because we had a pavilion to hang out in and it made the lines shorter. My family really enjoyed the water rides!

We were glad to be able enjoy all of the activities this past week, but we are looking forward to a couple weeks of less activities.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Visiting childhood places

Two farms, one mile apart from one another, hold most of my childhood memories. One farm, my Dad's farm on which I lived; the other farm belonged to my grandparents, the farm on which I spent helping my parents with milking and chores. Both farms now belong to other families...I have been back to our farm once, but have not been back to my grandparents' farm...until this visit, almost 23 years later. Above and below, the double 6 milking parlor, where I spent a lot of time helping my Dad milk cows....very little has changed.....
The old hay barn.....lots of work and play occurred in that building.....
This is the photo that I had to work for....this barn is falling down so I had to climb through a hole in the side to get through the barn to the other side to get my picture. This farm had been in our family for over a century when Grandpa sold it in 1987....ironically the same year my mother died. The date "1887" is on the brick on the side of the barn....Grandpa told me that was the year that the barn was built by his great-great-uncle, but it was not the year the farm was established....I think the farm was established about 20 years before the barn was built.

In between the two farms is a cemetery, where my mother is buried. This might be the first picture I've had taken at my mom's grave. It was time.
My dad's farm has changed a lot since the new owners have turned it into a dairy farm....Dad had livestock and pigs when I was growing up, but the dairy operation was at my grandparents' farm. Below is a not very good picture looking out from the edge of the acreage....I used to go out and just stare at the lonely trees in the middle of the field.
Ann-Marie loved the farm and all the animals!
Below is our old house, and the apple tree that my mom loved still producing apples!
And a nice surprise to see that our last farm dog, Buck, was still living at the farm and he remembered us! "Buck" and "dog" were Evan's first words so this dog made an impression on Evan.
Each visit back to Iowa as I get older brings more healing to my life. I really felt as if I could let go of some painful memories this trip by visiting some of the special places I remembered and capturing them on photos. I find as I do this, I am remembering more positive memories than negative, and that is good.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Special Days in Iowa

We had two special last days in Iowa, when my family played "tourists". The first, my grandparents and my Aunt Pat took us on a journey through northeast Iowa. I love that my grandparents, my mother's parents, are still healthy and energetic in their late 80s to be able to make these type of memories with my family. They first took us to Osbourne nature center to see animals and look at exhibits in the building. Then onto Gunder, Iowa for the famous Gunder Burger.....
which I think Evan could have finished the 1 lb. burger, but we didn't allow it this trip!
The onto Gilbertson Nature Center in which the highlights were the potbellied pigs!
The next day, my dad and step-mother took the day off from work to take us to Bur Oak, Iowa to tour the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. This was interesting to my kids for two reasons: we are reading through the series right now and Iowa is not included in the series because the Ingalls family only lived there for a little over two years.

The last stop on our "Iowa tourist" trip actually took us into Minnesota and memories from my childhood. Dunromin' Park Campground was where I spent a week each summer camping. I have wonderful memories of the campground and it was nice to walk around the campground again with Dad reminiscing. Although the campground is a little different now, 20 years later, and it was recently flooded, most of it looked the same.

We all enjoyed the zip-line at the playground.

And the old barn with video games is still standing....spent lots of time in there! The pool is still open and looks exactly the same also.

I am so thankful that we could enjoy these two days, experiencing northeast Iowa with my family. I will have fond memories of this trip for many years!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Top Ten Iowa Trip Memories

Before my memory fades, here are my top ten memories from our Iowa trip (in no particular order):

1. Darrell and Evan tipping the four-wheeler over - no permanent damage done.
2. Crawling through a dilapidated barn to get the photo I wanted of a brick with the date 1887 on it....more about that in another post.
3. Baby Grant pulling on Baby Abigail's "baby bling" during family photos.
4. Racko which lasted until almost midnight.
5. Huge potbelly pigs at the Gilbertson Nature Center...and the sound they make when one gets a "hairball".
6. Evan's ability to eat half of a Gunder burger.
7. Almost all of the cousins playing all afternoon with a hose, a bucket, some cups, and a sprinkler.
8. Catching up with friends from high school at the class reunion.
9. Meeting a unique and interesting family while touring the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Bur Oak, Iowa.
10. Experiencing the zip-line through my kids' eyes at the campground that held many of my childhood memories in Minnesota.

There are more memories and pictures to come, but those are the ones that stick out for me right now.

Time with cousins

Our annual trip to Iowa to see my side of the family is always a special time, and this year was no exception. Both of my younger sisters and their families were able to come also - one from Colorado and one from Belle Plaine, Iowa. All of the cousins enjoyed each other, and we were able to meet two new cousins, both just born this year!

We enjoyed Great-Grandma's waffle ice cream cookies together - a classic treat!

The closest in age cousins especially bonded - Alec (4) and Silas (3) as well as Ann-Marie (7) and Isabelle (5).

Meeting Abigail (note the "Baby Bling" she wore for family pictures) and Grant - and attempting family pictures was priceless!

Other pictures are my sisters and I (we don't look anything alike!) first cousin Tyler with his second cousins on the Merry-Go-Round.....Ann-Marie loving Abigail.....and the Grandparents will all of the grandkids (it's getting to be quite a group!) More pictures and memories will follow in days to come.....