Thursday, September 21, 2017

blue skies on a Wednesday

So yesterday was just gorgeous.  My weekly walking date with a friend got cancelled and while I enjoy waking with friends, I like walking by myself too :) Ahhhh, so quiet, so beautiful, so much time to myself.

And there is no homework on Wednesday so I picked up the kids and drove straight to a park because it was the kind of afternoon where no one wants to be inside.

Swings!  These are a rarity in Asia and Luke learned how to pump our first week in America and now he is a steady swinger!

And then? AWANA!  My kiddos have been looking forward to this for three years :) We've got two in Sparks, two in T&T and one in youth group!

Lydia and Isaac both worked hard to pass their Start Zones and earn their t-shirts (Lydia needed 9 verses, and she did them all in one week!).  John Paul and Luke earned their vests the first week because they only needed one verse and it was one they already knew.... they are so proud to wear them and maybe next week I'll get their picture.

Matt helps with older elementary boys and I teach in the Puggles class so it's a big night for our family and lots of children to disciple.  Thankful for this program and these months to enjoy it!

Tomorrow Julianna comes home (!!!!) and then Saturday it's soccer games in the morning and a UND football game in the afternoon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

pre-dinner hoops

Basketballs bouncing on concrete is the sound outside our window as I'm finishing getting dinner on the table.

and this is the view from our front stoop :)

just missing one big sister away at camp!

Mexican dinner crowds

We invited friends over for dinner and S'mores - and then it rained and rained and rained and we amended the plans and just had the dinner, postponed the S'mores (to a crowd of disappointed kids who were hoping to roast marshmallows in a chilly downpour?!?!) 

So fun to have a crowd in the house and it still amazes me that we get to have good friends on both sides of the globe.

We improvised and set up extra tables in the garage!

Which is reason #692 why I love having garage space - even when my car isn't parked in it!

Friday night was the start to a busy weekend - soccer and then an overnight trip to Fargo to see family.  We got home about 3:30 Sunday afternoon and Julianna was super excited to pack for her middle school retreat!  The 6th, 7th and 8th grades left this morning on a trip to a Bible camp in Wisconsin!

I don't expect to hear from her until Friday late afternoon.  Life already feels different without the biggest sister around, but I'm thrilled for her to have this opportunity.

freezing on the soccer field

Well our first full week with all three boys playing soccer Saturday morning and the weather was cruddy.  ugh.

John Paul started us out with a 10:00am game.  In his age group they play 25 minute halves and it's a big field for little guys!  John Paul's team had no-one on the bench (I'm thinking some other moms weren't interested in watching soccer in 50 degree mist?!?) and he played the entire game.

With lots of sideline encouragement :)

and he has neat coaches who are super encouraging even when the other team scores more goals! 

While John Paul was just getting started Luke was lining up on an nearby field for his 10:15 game!

The five year olds play 20 minute halves on smaller fields with smaller nets, and the main strategy seems to be "chase the ball". 

The kid who gets to the ball first gets to kick it ;)

Game-ending huddle and some encouraged little guys as they had a lot of balls go into the net! 

And then we had a short break before Isaac started at 11:30.  His team is my favorite to watch.  No offense to my other guys ... but I have lots of friends with boys on Isaac's team, and my favorite coach in the complex to admire :) 

Also, Isaac's team is just fun - they pass and really play as a team, and they are good too :) 

Isaac is #2, in the black hoodie.  And I know this is from early in the game because those boys warmed up and started stripping off the layers well before halftime.  

Those of us on the sidelines never got quite as warm :). But we had a great time and we'll be back again next Saturday!  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

morning views

This is new for us - out the door and off to school in the morning - but it's starting to feel normal.  And good.

It's been so warm this week, no one needs early morning sweatshirts and the morning's have lost their crisp ND feel.  But I checked the weather forecast and today's high of 93 is going to drop to a brisk high of 60 on Sunday.  Fall is coming :)

In what feels like crazy lavish blessing God provided a way for our kids to eat both breakfast and lunch at school!  I still can't believe it!

So our mornings are low key and easy peasy - wake the kiddos by 7:15, a few things to get ready for the day, Bible as a family, and we are out the door by 7:45 (ideally!)

The drive to and from school is one of my favorite parts of the day.  Car rides are so much less stressful here than in Asia and we talk and laugh and I love hearing them talk to one another and to me.  Today John Paul was reading his library book to Isaac and Julianna was spouting off lists of be/helping/linking verbs for her grammar test.

And now I'm off to pick up them all up.  This is when the energy level kicks up a few notches!  woohoo!

potato bowl fun

Potato Bowl weekend is a pretty big deal and we had a pretty great time!  First up, Thursday evening's French Fry Feed.

Trays full of piping hot *free* French fries and a grassy field full of bouncy houses.

Then Saturday morning we were off to the parade - and the kids were in it!  Riverside had a float and everyone had been talking parade all week long!

Small town perfection right here!

good times, and we came home that afternoon to watch the Hawks win their football game.  Isaac is the area's newest, biggest fan and it's such fun to watch him enjoy cheering for UND!  We are hoping to get tickets to a football game and go ourselves!

soccer evenings

We are getting into the swing of soccer season and now that I've wrapped my head around the "we really truly must sit down to dinner by 5:05pm at the latest" mantra, it's pretty smooth sailing around here!

The three boys are only three years apart in age (3 years, 2 days from top to bottom, to be exact) but we still managed to land them in three different age categories. Sigh.  Luke plays on a kindergarten team, John Paul on a 1st/2nd grade team and Isaac on a 3rd/4th grade team.  I had to type a schedule to keep up with it all! ha!

Isaac and John Paul practice at the same time on Tuesdays, but two different parks!  Lucky for our one-car family, John Paul's practice is just a few blocks away, so we walk or ride bikes :)

Luke practices Mondays for a half hour :)

And then the older two boys have games Thursday evenings and everyone has Saturday morning games - but the games are all at the same park! Perfect!

Yesterday Matt dropped me and the kids off at the pool to swim while he took Luke to practice.  Then he brought Luke back to the pool and headed off to a meeting and we kept on swimming!

The little two guys changed out of swim suits and straight into pjs for the short drive home!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

an old-fashioned threshing bee

Sunday morning we were heading to an old fashioned threshing bee near Stump Lake.  But first, Grandpa recorded everyone's win-loss guesses for the boys basketball team season.  We'll know the winner in January :).

Then, a 50 mile drive to Stump Lake.  Stump Lake is in a large county full of North Dakota prairie and not so full of people (less than 3,000 in the entire county!).   The threshing bee was really cool, kinda like a small county fair.  There were horses and old steam engines and horse-drawn plows and an old grain mill and a one room schoolhouse and all kinds of things to look at and walk in and explore.

There might be more restored vintage tractors in Nelson County than people.

Notice the horizon.  Yep.  That's prairie farmland.

Grandma grew up on a farm with a truck just like this one!  And Grandpa grew up driving tractors just like the ones on display - and he was driving them early too... started when he was 7!  {It's stories like this that encourage me that my boys can be held responsible to remove their dirty clothes from the bathroom floor and put them in the laundry basket - if Grandpa was driving a tractor at their age?  Also, I have one son who would be a superb young tractor driver, one son who - propelled by sheer curiosity - would dismantle the entire tractor and one son who could charm a stranger into gifting him a tractor.  Any guesses?}

Parade time!  this was rural North Dakota awesome.

The kids even participated in a pedal tractor pull.  Based on Sunday's results I wouldn't counsel any of them towards a career in tractor pull (but their older cousin Carson did win one when he was younger!).  But they were so brave to try a new activity in a new environment and these people make me so thankful I'm their mama.

Back at the campground, time for another yummy meal and campfire.  Brothers learning to be strong together :)

What a sweet weekend!  And now back to the real world and a washing machine full of camping laundry - perfect start to the week!

Grahams Island State Park

Camping!  What a great weekend! I grew up camping (tents and a popup camper) in state parks and this weekend brought back so many great memories!  

Matt and Andy left late Thursday to go meet Jan and Luther at the campground.

By the time we pulled out of town on Friday after school there were already fish in the cooler for us to admire when we arrived.  And by "us" I mostly mean John Paul, who has decided that fishing is HIS THING.  He loves to eat fish, he loves to catch fish, he loves to talk about fishing, and he loves to follow his Uncle Andy around :) 

This is a sport fishing hotspot.  The boat launch was the largest I've ever seen - side by side ramps for four trucks to launch simultaneously.  The lake is huge!  And the parking lot was truck heaven.  After a three day weekend watching trucks launch boats and pull fifth wheels Isaac has changed his dream car to a Ford F350.  

So Saturday morning a boatload of cousins headed out to see what they could catch.  

Kristi and I went for a long walk around the campground while Lydia and Kaelynn explored the rocky shoreline.  And when the boat stayed out, and stayed out, and stayed out even longer we knew it must be a fruitful trip. 

Yep!  Everybody was catching walleye.

Connor and Isaac brought these in at the same time! 

and then.... 

John Paul caught this 32" northern.  Y'all.  That fish was huge!  Andy helped him keep his rod up while he reeled it in, and Matt got him into the boat with the net.  This might be the highlight of John Paul's fishing career!  

Back at the campground to show off their loot!  

that afternoon this gang wandered until they found the perfect spot to sit and make mudpies.  Must run in the family, because Grandma was a mudpie maker as a child, and she even made "dirt" (pudding, crushed Oreos and gummy worms served in a flower pot!!) for dessert one night!  

Sunset Saturday night - amazing!  This photo could be a camper advertisement!  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

backyard afternoons

Well I just got soccer schedules for our three boys - and our lazy backyard afternoons are getting ready for some big changes!  We knew it would be a little wild and wooly to put all three of them in soccer, but when opportunities like these are limited, well.... you go for it!  

For six weeks there is going to be a LOT of soccer around here, but that doesn't start till tomorrow, and this afternoon was lazy long (sweaty) summer perfection.

The garden continues to produce buckets of cherry tomatoes.  And we eat buckets of cherry tomatoes.  win-win

There are also some really big pumpkins out there, and one that grows in girth by at least an inch a day.  It's a giant, and it just keeps growing!


Luke (in borrowed shin guards that make his heart race with excitement!)... catching frisbee.

And Isaac, who is our most committed soccer player and on a team roster with 10 players he already knows 6 of them.  Add in a daddy for a coach and you've got yourself a happy 3rd grader!