Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One Last Time

We have visited Santa for almost two decades. 

We gathered all four kids for a trip to the mall last week.
Santa was still there, faithfully listening to children's wishes and dreams.

David showed Santa pictures of all four kids from years past.

 It's hard to imagine that soon there will be no one 
at the zoo to hear the bells of Christmas.

 “At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”
Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express

I hope your hearts are full this Christmas season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Life Lessons and New Diseases

Back in October we learned a neighbor suddenly passed away.
Having recently dealt with loss in his own life,
Grant wanted to let our neighbor's wife know how sad he was for her loss.

So all on his own, Grant found a sympathy card, wrote a note and rode his bicycle to her house to deliver his well wishes.  I snapped a picture when Grant was getting ready to deliver his card.

Sometimes life hands us sadness.
But sadness mixed with resilience 
creates a beautiful thing called empathy. 

Grant is learning to make beauty from ashes.

Isaiah 61.3
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

 Grant is also learning to skip school.

Although Thanksgiving gives us a reason to count our blessings, Grant was simply thankful that Thanksgiving falls on Thursday.  He hates Thursday because he has elective class every Thursday with his least favorite teacher, Ms. KAISER.  She's a sweet person, but Mrs. Kaiser stresses Grant out.

One Thursday early in November I told Grant he could miss school and we would do something fun instead.  He was thrilled to miss school on a Thursday but was also concerned about lying to the attendance office.  

I told him I was diagnosing him with a severe case of KAISERITIS....a general feeling of unwellness caused by the stress of sitting in Ms. Kaiser's class.  He thought that was a satisfactory diagnosis and happily began planning our day's adventures.

We ended up in Cincinnati at a model train museum.  
We have visited the museum before and always have a great time.

This time was no different.  The day was a lot of fun.

We were surprised to find the museum added a fun zone to the list of things to do.  Grant spent an hour playing in some amazing areas of the fun zone.  Since he didn't have his sister along, he wasn't brave enough to travel the mazes alone. I tagged along for moral support.

This particular maze was strange.  
Every wall in the maze was a curtain made of red and white vinyl strips.
To move through the maze, it was necessary to find the way from one tiny striped room to the next.  Sometimes there would be dead ends.  Then you would have to retrace your steps to find another route.

  There were moments I was certain we were walking in circles, but eventually we found our way out.

The tilt maze was one of Grant's favorite.
The only thing I got from the tilt maze was a 
whopping big headache!

I think our aggressive treatment of Grant's medical condition was successful.

By Friday morning,
all symptoms of KAISERITIS were gone.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pumpkin patch and Farm fun


 I went to have lunch with Grant a couple weeks ago.

I was just in time to enjoy a walk through the school's 
storybook pumpkin patch.

 And look what my husband gave me
for our 25th anniversary
 Wasn't that nice of him?

Now that Grace and Grant are getting older, 
they join the rest of us occasionally at the farm table 
in the evening for a game of cards.
 We've regressed to spending evenings playing Skipbo and GoFish.
I'll exercise some restraint and 
give them a year or two 
before we start playing to win at all costs!

When picking up rocks in the fields, the kids and I do NOT make neat stacks like some people did years ago.  

We did throw our rocks behind their nicely stacked rock wall.  
I find it funny that someone went to the trouble of stacking rocks in the middle of the field.
 What is even funnier is seeing how trees then sprout between and around the rocks.
So now we have rock piles underneath patches of trees
sitting in the middle of our twelve acre pastures.

Over the past many years
Emily has perfected her marshmallow toasting skills.
 She can now with precision toast a marshmallow beautifully.

Grace and Grant have a serious lack of toys at the farm.
So David found something they could play with.

In case you are wondering,
they are playing with bullets.
Because that's really safe.

Parenting points awarded to David Shupe!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Some Things Never Change

 Seeing this picture reminded me of another time Grant was in need of a good face scrubbing.

There was a day in 2011 I can remember Grant received a good face scrubbing.
 This is the AFTER picture.

 His face needed scrubbed because my four year old son found a spider marker and could think of no better place to use it than his face. 

This picture shows his artwork the first time I caught him using the marker on his face.
I cleaned him up and explained why marker should be used on paper.

I'm guessing my lecture fell on deaf ears.

Because later, I found the pint sized Picasso back at it again!

And this is why moms should always assume the worst when the playroom has been suspiciously quiet for too long...

But then again, how could you get mad at that face?!

He loved drawing on himself...constantly...even in the tub!
Okay, enough reminiscing.  I've gotta get back to work now.

Oh, and from the way back files.....

I found a picture of the men going hunting the first time Grant was ever allowed to join them.
This was also 2011.  Markers were traded in for a gun that particular day.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

ROTC and Guns

John's uniform displaying recognition for some of his hard work the past three years

We are proud of his accomplishments in JROTC.

We are proud of Emily too.

Except when she acts like this.... 

 Just for fun I thought I'd post a picture from freshman year JROTC

John has definitely grown up since his freshman picture was taken in 2013.

Someone else has done a lot of growing up too.

This picture always makes me smile.
I can still remember how unhappy she was with her uniform.

Can't remember if I posted these or not....

Grant sighting in his new gun with David.

 Grant has developed a serious love of all things related to guns.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Catching Up

Pictures from this summer from David's camera...

A very slow water balloon fight

Camping in Manchester, Tennessee

Grant did not fall down.....


 They were playing at the splash pad.

They were lying on the ground in order to block the water fountains.


Emily and I enjoyed the afternoon watching kids, reading and visiting.
I cannot believe how grown up she is getting! 

Grant's back-to-school project in August was to color an All-About-Me Super Student poster.
Here's his finished work.

And here is Grant's super amazing face after he did an amazing job eating an amazing cupcake.

Amazing.  Isn't it? 

I have no idea how he managed to get icing from his forehead clear down to his neck.