Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Three Models

I think that my kids get their photos taken more than the kids whose job it is to be models. Gabe especially is old enough and has had his photo taken so many times that he's trained to smile on cue. There have been several times where I've called Gabe's name and he mistakenly thinks I'm trying to get his attention to take a picture, and he'll turn to me, smile and say, 'cheese!' So is it trained, or brainwashed?!? Cooper is becoming quite the little model too, but I'm still working on Chloe!
I took the kids outside to take some photos after I finished some work this morning. It was a good overcast day when we started, then the sun came out before our photo shoot was concluded, so I did some black & white and some color. {Warning: Photo Overload Ahead!}
This first one made me laugh...not a great start to the photo shoot. Chloe is getting so adventurous outside that it was about impossible to keep her sitting for a photo. She wanted nothing to do with what we were doing, she just wanted to explore.

Since Chloe wasn't cooperating, I decided to get some shots of the boys. Aren't they cute!

It doesn't take long for those two to get silly.

I love this one...this is after they fell down. They're so goofy!

I got of couple of Gabe by himself. Every time I look at him, I can't believe how much he's grown up!

And my little Cooper...what a sweetie!

{Gabe & Chloe}

Then she wanted down...look at that upset face!

So, the boys took her for a little walk.

After that, she was ready to pose for a quick photo all by herself!

I happened to take this shot just as the dandelion caught her attention. Talk about luck!

I guess she thought it was funny! She was laughing and talking to it!

We finished the photo session with a little pat-a-cake.

God in Action

I know this is a super long post, but it took a lot of words to explain all I've experienced the past few days!

So as most of you know, Jason and I leave in a few days, along with one other adult and six teens, to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua. I haven't been on a mission trip since Guyana in 2004, and that was when Gabe was about 16 months old. It was a 16 day trip, and it was so hard for me to be away from my baby! I knew he was well taken care of by family, but it was still hard to leave a child that I am with 24/7 as a stay-at-home mom. And although I knew it was a trip that God had led me to take, it was so incredibly emotionally draining towards the end of those 16 days that I told myself, 'I will never leave my child that long again!' And I haven't since. The last three years, I've either been pregnant or had a very young infant when the mission trip has occurred over the summers and haven't been able to even think about the possibility of going along.

Until this year. Gabe almost takes care of himself most days at the ripe ol' age of 5. And Cooper, 3, and Chloe, 1, are pretty easy children to take care of. But still, this past spring when Jason asked me to start thinking about the possibility of going on the mission trip, I immediately thought, 'No way!' If it weren't for the kids, I'd be all for it! I love an adventure, and of course love the idea of traveling into the depths of a foreign country and being able to share what the Lord has done in my life with people who may never have even heard of God! How awesome is that! But still, the doubts were waying heavily on me. As I prayed I felt convicted that I was letting my own feelings and weaknesses get in the way of the Lord's plan for me, but those concerns about leaving my children kept towering over my thoughts. It came time to give my answer as to whether I would go or not, and I still was so conflicted. But Jason, knowing strongly in his heart and mind that this was a trip that the Lord wanted me to take, went ahead and bought my plane ticket. Well, needless to say, the decision was made.

But to tell the truth, the fact that the ticket was bought for me didn't end the doubts I had. And then this past Sunday came. I started having some pain in my stomach and didn't think anything of it at first. But as the pain persisted, I thought I'd feel my stomach and immediately felt a mass, a lump next to my belly button. Of course thoughts of tumors, etc., raced through my mind, but I tried not to think about it and made an appointment with my doctor the next day. She immediately felt the lump and told me she suspected it may be a hernia. She then scheduled an appointment with a surgeon....yes, a surgeon, meaning she thought this was going to require surgery! Surgery kind of foils the plans for leaving on a mission trip! But this appointment wasn't scheduled until Wednesday, so I had two days to think about, and worry about, what may happen.

As I was talking it over with Jason, I made the choice to pray and give it up to God. I told God, "If I'm suppose to go on the trip, I'll go to this appointment on Wednesday and there will be no lump. Otherwise, I'm taking this as a sign from You that I was never suppose to go on this trip in the first place." Although this may sound like I was giving God an ultimatum, I really didn't mean it to be. I was just desperately in need of some assurance, and ultimately, in need of an answer.

At my appointment with the surgeon yesterday, God gave me my answer. The surgeon felt my stomach, and the pain is still there, but the lump is gone! I didn't believe him at first, so I felt my stomach, and no lump! I had felt the lump on Sunday, Jason felt the lump of Sunday, my doctor felt the lump on Monday, I felt the lump on Tuesday, but on Wednesday, there was no lump. How else do I explain it but an answer to prayer! So, I am no longer in question. We leave in two days, and although I will miss my children immensely, I know that they will be taken care of and that I will be taken care of, because I am in God's will. What a feeling of peace!

Your continued prayers for us and the others going on the trip would be greatly appreciated! Also, please pray for Gabe, Cooper & Chloe and for their grandparents and others who will have the joy, and tiring task, of taking care of them while we're gone on our 8 day adventure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fruity Cheerios

My kids have a new love: Fruity Cheerios! Chloe carries the box around with her, and the boys are constantly asking if they can eat the 'colored cheerios,' as they call them.
Their favorite cereal has always been Kix, the cereal that claims the slogan, 'Kid Tested, Mother Approved." And it's true, it's a healthy cereal that my kids have always enjoyed. But every time we'd go to the store, Gabe would ask for the cereals that looked fun, like Captain Crunch, Cookie Crisp, and of course, Fruit Loops. I decided that I'd give Fruity Cheerios a try, because it looked like Fruit Loops but it's ingredients were healthier.
Well, the results are in: Fruity Cheerios is a winner!
(Who knew you could blog about cereal. Leave it to me to blog about anything and everything!)
Gabe just finishing a bowl. Look at that smile!

Cooper with his bowl full.

Chloe likes her fruity cheerios dry.

Here she stopped for a silly grin. See the cheerio hanging out of her mouth. She's too funny!

Ok, so are you thinking what I'm thinking? I should totally send these photos to the people at Cheerios and I'm sure the kids would be the subject of the next Fruity Cheerios advertising campaign!

Voting is Still On!

I've had many people asking me if they can still vote for Chloe and I in the White Cloud Photo Contest explained here. The answer is YES! I'm not sure how long the voting goes, but as of today you can still vote for us!
Thanks so much to everyone who has already voted and spread the word. And wow, has the word spread! There's barely an outing around town where someone doesn't mention it to me. Too funny...that's small town life for ya!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I like to document routines that the kids have because I think they are memories we'll look back on and reminisce about. One routine that the kids have always had is their wake-up routine. Upon waking up, whether it's in the morning, or just from a nap, you can see my boys opening their bedroom door and come out dragging with them practically every blanket and stuffed animal that was once on their beds. They bring them out to the couch or chair, sit down and cover up. It doesn't matter if it's hot or cold, middle of summer or middle of winter, they still have to sit all wrapped up in their blankets for awhile after nap. Jason and I have gotten so used to it that we don't even give it a second thought most of the time. But once and a while, there will be someone over when this daily event occurs and they always think it's the funniest thing, one after another, those two boys trailing out of their room with all their blankets. Ahhh, the memories of childhood...

But that's not all...Chloe is starting to do it too! When she wakes up, she starts talking really loud to let you know it's time to come into her room and get her up from her crib. The last week or so, I get her out of her crib, change her diaper, and as soon as she gets a chance to walk, she walks right over to her crib and pulls the blankets out through the side slats. Guess she wants to be just like her big brothers! (Notice that in all the photos of the boys and Chloe, one more item that is present every time is a sippy cup. Gotta have the cup too!)

County Fair

There's not a year that goes by that we don't go to the county fair in July. It's a sort of tradition for us, and definitely a tradition for Jason. He was in 4-H and FFA and showed chickens and rabbits at the fair for years growing up. He even went to the state fair in 1996 and won Grand Champion for his Derby Broiler Chickens. Pretty exciting for a farm boy! So, it's always fun to take the kids and take in all that the fair has to offer: animals, exhibits, rides, food, etc. This year, since detassling fell right at the same time, we almost didn't make it to fair. But we got a break from detassling today, so went right after church & sunday school. Here's the highlights:
The boys thought it was great that this hen had laid eggs.

Gabe watching a baby pig. The pig was so cute...he reminded us of Wilbur from 'Charlotte's Web.'

The boys & Jason petting the cows.

Chloe was sitting in her stroller and keeping a close watch on all the animals. She looked so serious, and kept jibber jabbering away in her own language, like she knew those animals would understand what she was saying.

The boys got to choose two rides. They first chose to ride the airplane. This was a ride Gabe was afraid of last year because he said it went 'too high & too fast.' But he wanted to go on it this time.

The second ride the boys chose was the always popular giant slide. Gabe was happy he beat Dad & Cooper down. I think it was just because Gabe got a head start, because Coop & Jason were flying down that slide. They actually got airborne on that last bump!

They had tractors on display, which Gabe quickly found and pretended to be Grandpa.

Here Cooper with a bit of a dirty face after we ate some fair food: hamburgers, walking tacos, chocolate shakes & ice cream cones. Does it get any better than that?!?

Chloe was asleep in her car seat by the time we got home. She was so tired!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

All I See is Corn

We started detassling today as a fund-raiser to earn money for the youth's annual summer mission trip. (We leave for Nicaragua in a week, and I can't believe it's coming up that soon!) We've been detassling as a fund-raiser every year since our first mission trip to New York City back in 2001. That's 8 years of detassling! That's a lot of tassels pulled by our crew!
Call me crazy, but I actually kind of like to do it! I never detassled in high school because all I heard were the horror stories about how hard you have to work, how hot it is, how early you have to get up, etc. etc. etc. Actually, the part about getting up early is probably what scared me off the most. But now that I can call myself a detassling veteran, I can honestly say that it's really not that bad. At the least, it's good exercise!
So, if you're in for a good time, let me know. We're always eager to train newbies :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Zucchini, Zucchini Everywhere!

Our garden has produced so much zucchini that we could have zucchini for breakfast, lunch and supper! It's ok with me because I love zucchini!
The abundance of this wonderful summer treat has prompted me to search for different recipes utilizing zucchini. Last night we grilled it.
All we did was slice the zucchini lengthwise 1/2-inch thick. Butter and sprinkle each side with McCormick's garlic salt. Place directly on the grates, grill until brown, flip over and brown the other side. It was delicious! I have had it fried before, but never grilled until last night and I'm thinking it had to be much healthier, and in my opinion, was just as good.

I think the next recipe I'm going to try is one I found on this site: Angel Hair Pasta with Zucchini, Mushrooms & Beef. Yummm!
So what about any good zucchini recipes? If so, please e-mail them to me!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Photo Shoot didn't take long to get some more photos with my new lens. I started with Chloe. She is so tired this morning, but I thought I'd try. I love it when a photo series captures some sort of story or progression. You can see as the photos go that Chloe begins to 'warm up' and gets pretty silly in the fourth photo.

As always, it didn't take long for Gabe to join in. Here's one where he's 'snuck' into the background. I love their expressions in this one:

Gabe was just in a silly mood...

Then Cooper finally noticed what was happening and thought he'd better join the action!

And I told Cooper to move closer to Gabe & Chloe...silly!

Three silly kids...

By this time, Gabe & Coop were ready to move on to playing outside, so I thought I'd try to get a few more photos of Chloe.

After seeing me take the above picture, she literally started running from me. I caught up to her and she just sat down and started crying. Real tears and everything! Ahhh, I guess she'd had enough. Doesn't she look disgusted with me, lol.

After this one, I set the camera down, held Chloe for a bit and then laid her in her bed for her morning nap. She breathed a sigh, probably of relief that the photo shoot was over, put her thumb in her mouth and closed her eyes. I wonder if it's considered child abuse to bring your children to the point of tears when taking their picture?!? Poor Chloe!
Anyway, my next goal is to take some outdoor landscape shots to show the results of using the 12-24 wide angle lens vs. my 18-70 mm. But I do have actual work I am suppose to be doing! Stay tuned...

The lens has arrived!

Yesterday afternoon the UPS man brought my new lens! But with the busy afternoon I had, I didn't have much time to get out and take any photos. Well, I had a little time (I actually stopped my kick boxing workout short to try and take some photos.) But instead, Gabe monopolized the lens. He was seriously almost as excited as me to get that lens. 'Oooh, a new lens! Can I take some pictures mom?' It was hard to turn him down. Even with my eagerness to use it myself, Gabe's enthusiasm for taking photos trumped my desire to check out the lens.
So, he took some photos of Cooper and I outside yesterday. We didn't have much time because we had to go to town before the photo store closed to get a lens filter and pick up some prints I had made. But, of course, Gabe got a couple of cute shots.
It was too sunny, so we went under our tree.
I promise many more photos to come with my new wide angle lens! And now Gabe really has something to practice with.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Garden Update

I haven't given any updates since our garden was originally planted back in May. An update is long overdue. Although the garden is desperately in need of a good weeding, it is still growing very nicely.
Below, the boys standing by the giant sunflower plants. The plants are getting so tall, they'll be blooming any day now!

Cooper checking out the tomatoes.
Not quite ripe yet, but getting big!

Cooper next to 'his' flowers. Technically, they're my flowers, as Cooper originally gave them to me as a mother's day gift from his Sunday School class, but he calls them his flowers. (His teacher, Miss Rhonda, was so thoughtful and sent a flower home with each child to give to the moms to plant at home. Just a side note: Miss Rhonda has taught both Gabe & Cooper and they both LOVE her! She's the best Sunday School teacher ever!)

{Cherry Tomatoes}


We decided to cut some flowers and
make a few arrangements for the house.

{I love flowers!}