Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Mugs - Minimalism

Heather has tried some new things the last few weeks, forcing us to be more creative. This week's assignment is a "Minimalist" picture which as I understand it means a little bit of something with a whole lot of nothing. Whether these qualify as Minimalist pictures, I have no idea, but Heather is polite and won't vote me off the island. 

These pictures were taken by my daughter Erica.

Leif Erickson Park, Duluth, MN
Cornucopia, Wisconsin
On the walking trail in Ashland, WI
Lake Pajoha, Inwood, IA
Visit Oswald Cuties to check out more Monday Mugs

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Erica's Photo Album Pt. 2

I have deadline issues and a lifelong habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. I had a free 20 page photo album offer from Shutterfly that expired yesterday. Due to a headache, procrastination, and the logistics of running a household of 8, I only got 62 pages done when I wanted to get 100. 

I stayed up until 2:00 am this morning finishing it. One of the perks of living in Central Time is that we're 2 hours ahead of Pacific Time where Shutterfly is located. So while it was Jan. 26 here, it was still Jan. 25 there for two hours.

So for lack of anything more intelligent to post, I'm sharing my latest album. The pages start getting better about pg. 18 when Erica got a better camera.


Friday, January 21, 2011

A Quiet Place

Keith took a day off last week for prayer and reflection and went to a wonderful Bed and Breakfast run by good friends and members of our church, Brian and Tina Miller.

The Inn at Timber Cove keeps the Millers hopping from May through October. During their slow season they graciously share their peace and quiet with us.

Guests stay in one of their four charming cottages. Breakfast is brought to the cottages in the morning.
Keith so thoroughly enjoyed his day of rest that he wanted me to take a day off this week. 

I didn't blink, I didn't argue. I agreed before he had a chance to change his mind.

I had a blissful 23 hours away from home.

The most peaceful place in Ashland
Oh wait, wrong season. 
Picture it with a foot of snow
and no leaves on the trees, like this

My favorite cottage is the summer kitchen.

I was greeted by the porch light on, white Christmas lights in the green bush by the left front window, and a fire in the cute little gas fireplace. 

The picture's angle makes this room look bigger than it is.  The colors are soft and muted, the decor simple and uncluttered, and the overall effect is warm and welcoming. 

Since the buildings are over 100 years old, the Millers have embraced the oldness. This is a close-up of the eating nook.

A little peek out at the peaceful woods

Tina stenciled Psalms 4:8 on the rustic headboard - I will lie down and sleep in peace for God makes me dwell in safety.

I appreciated the big blanket of quiet. Quiet calms and levels my soul. I don’t get much quiet at my house. Between family, pet, neighborhood, and traffic noise, peaceful is hard to come by. 

Late at night I sat by the big picture window and looked out over a white meadow, the luminous full moon lighting ice-covered branches that cast dramatic shadows onto the glistening snow. 

I soaked up the soothing silence. I relaxed in the solitude and let down my guard. In this calm place of refuge no one needs me for anything. Nothing here is my responsibility.

I retreat.

Thanks Brian and Tina for your generosity and gift of hospitality. Thanks Keith for arranging this. And thanks girls for not killing each other while I was gone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Might Be Too Old For This

2010 was the year I rediscovered

I tried out for the volleyball team my freshman year in high school and didn't make it.

I tried out my sophomore year and didn't make it.

But my junior year when the regular coach took a year sabbatical. I tried out again and wonder of wonders, made the team. The Junior Varsity team, mind you, but I was still ecstatic. 

The interim coach was sweet, kind, fun, pretty, feminine, encouraging and it was a great experience. I hoped the snippy drill sergeant unfeminine regular coach never came back. 

Sigh! Miss Stomp-On-My-Dreams returned the next year and elected not to have me on her team.

 Ha! We didn't have to try out in college. I played three years at our small college and we lost more often than won but I loved every minute. 

(Comments from the Peanut Gallery - insert a chorus of loud laughter - "Oh my goodness, Mom, those shorts are SHORT.- Snicker, snicker - and they're pulled up -snort- past your belly button. It's a wonder - chuckle - you didn't give yourself a wedgie. And your legs aren't white like they are now. Hee Hee)
Then I graduated, got married, started teaching, had a baby, then kept having babies, ruptured a disc, had back surgery, got old and out of shape and didn't play volleyball for almost three decades.

My 27 year hiatus ended last spring when I found a group of older ladies who have played volleyball every week for the last 20 years. I was nervous to go. Surely they would look down their nose at my extremely rusty volleyball skills. Surely I would look like an idiot.

They graciously welcomed me and my body screamed in protest. My wobbly sets hurt my fingers. Bumping bruised my arms, and I couldn't get a serve over the net to save my life. 

After three times of playing and being sore I started to wonder if I was too old for this any more. I have a weak back from the back surgery and I didn't want to risk more damage.

After the fourth week I wasn't sore and it felt wonderful to move. How fun to get exercise doing something I enjoyed. How fun to find other women who like to play volleyball as much as I do. Two of the ladies I play with are in their 60's. 

After back surgery years ago, doctors advised not to stress my back and to avoid falls whenever possible. I wear sensible shoes and am always very careful. Careful is my middle name.

Last spring I fell playing basketball with my kids in the driveway. Visions of broken limbs danced in my head. Thankfully I was okay but the fall was very freeing. For years I let the fear of falling keep me from doing things. Granted I still need to be careful, but perhaps I had been too careful. 

This winter I started another league. I'm by far the oldest person there. I'm old enough to be most of my team's mother. Oh wait, I am their mother.

If I can do it without hurting myself, on occasion, I'll dive for a ball. Trouble is if I go down it takes awhile to get back up. Last Sunday I dove and made a cool recovery, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately the other team hit it right back to me but I was still on the floor and couldn't get the ball. I uttered a contorted "Arrgghh!!!" and my teammates erupted in laughter. 

I used to have a wicked overhand serve back in the day, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that it might not come back. Only one-third of my overhand serves go over and they pull in my back so I'm thinking I'd better not press my luck. 

Rediscovering volleyball has been empowering. Yes, I have a bad back, but if I'm careful I can still do things. Yes, falling is risky so I wear knee pads and pick and choose which balls to dive for. Yes, it hurts to serve overhand, so I swallow my pride and serve underhand. Yes, I'm aging, but unless my body goes on strike, you'll find me playing with the young people on Sunday and with the other gray-haired ladies on Tuesday nights.

I'll never make the senior Olympic volleyball team, but I can now hold my own in a recreational volleyball game. I can bump, set, spike  hit it back over the net with the best of them. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Much Fun- Monday Mugs

So last February I took my four youngest daughters and five friends sledding near Bayfield, which is 20 miles north of here. Our friend said it was by Fish Hatchery Rd which wasn't far. 

The gas gauge on our big red gas-guzzling 14 mpg van was low but I figured there was enough gas to get there and back. Halfway there I reconsidered, thinking it was better to be safe than sorry. Oh, I am so, so glad that I stopped to put gas in the van.

At Fish Hatchery Rd, our friend said to turn left and then we kept going and going and going. Mind you, I'm a big chicken to drive on icy, snow packed roads. I had left the highway and was on less than desirable country roads. When she had me turn again on a snowy, slippery gravel road I bit my tongue to keep from grumping at my navigator. 

Finally we turned on to the highway again, drove a little more and then stopped on the side of a pretty decent sledding hill. Bless our friend's heart. We live on a peninsula and instead of going around the safe well-maintained snow-plowed highway perimeter she had directed me overland, not knowing that wimpy me would never consider driving those snowpacked roads in winter.

Since the damage was done and we'd survived, we stayed for the afternoon and the kids had a great time playing in the snow.

Lani and Erica

Making a snow angel

Making a jump (i.e. making me nervous)



Not my daughter, but I really like the picture

What a ham!


Crash landing

Bright eyes and Rosy cheeks

 I love watching my girls have fun. It's great for them to get fresh air and exercise and it helps to make winter not so long. 

We went home a different way. 
No more winter overland trips for me. 

Check out Oswald Cuties for more Monday Mugs

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Pin Striping is Best Left to Professionals

I am linking up with Rachel at Once Upon a Miracle for True Story Tuesday. I considered sharing this story last summer, but the trauma was still too fresh. Seven months later, no one's blood pressure elevates any more so the story is safe to tell.

I just wanted to give my family a good childhood memory. Swimming in cool Lake Superior on a hot afternoon sounded mighty good, although getting a big family ready is a daunting chore.

     Lunches packed. Check
     Friends called and picked up. Check
     Sunscreen packed. Check
     Swim suits. Check    
     Beach towels and Beach chairs. Check
     Volleyball and Floaties. Check
     Shovels for digging in the sand or burying people. Check 

When the small local beach parking lot was full last summer, I drove down a narrow overgrown bumpy side road that connected a mile farther down with another parking lot.  My big 8-seater, but could fit 11 if we had the back row in, maroon 1993 Ford passenger van barely fit on the trail. (The picture shows what the van looks but this is not the "road" I was on)

Normally our "takes a licking and keeps ticking" van holds lots of people and stuff, is great to take biking, hiking, camping, or on road trips, and works good for youth group outings.

circa 2005
Keith says we won't replace it until it dies, which if I keep this kind of stuff up won't be long. 

When the trail narrowed again, I debated whether to continue, but there was nowhere to turn around and I didn't want to drive in reverse the way I'd come. When it became apparent that taking this road was a really bad idea, my nephew recommended that I back up before I got stuck. I chose to be in denial  to go forward, optimistically deciding that the road couldn't get much worse.

Wrong. Oh so wrong. Oh so embarrassingly wrong. Oh so I'll never hear the end of it wrong.

Soon Isaac had to open the window and push branches away. Then the girls had to get out and hold branches back so I could pass. Despite our best efforts I could hear lots of creaking, scraping, and scratching and could only imagine what "kind" words my husband would have for me. The road narrowed still more and the overgrown branches did a number on my van.

That was the longest mile I've ever driven. I dreaded looking at the damage.

I turned to Isaac, "Why did you let me do that?"

He looked over incredulously, "But I told you to back up."

"But you weren't firm enough. You should have held your breath until I backed up or did something drastic so I knew you meant business." I generously offered to take three-fourths of the blame if he would take the other fourth.

Miraculously, the driver's side didn't look bad. Oh, but the poor passenger's side looked like a drunk, blindfolded grizzly with a shaky hand and a bad case of the hiccups had pinstriped the whole side. The side mirror was scraped and crooked, the running board was loose, and the wheel well flappy thing came off.

I told the kids that I don't advocate lying so if their Dad specifically asked if I went four-wheeling and damaged the van then they could tell him, but otherwise they didn't need to volunteer the information.

When we FINALLY got to the beach, Keith, who was to meet us there, asked, "Why did you come from that direction?"

A person who thinks well on their feet would have said, "because the parking lot was full." But, no, I stammered and stuttered and blurted out that I had a "little" problem. Thankfully we were with a group of people so he had to behave himself.

On the way home, Isaac suggested a car wash might help the van look better before Keith saw it. He also suggested the Deluxe wash with wax. Since I'd never spent $10 on a car wash in my life, I went for the cheaper option.

Back at home, Isaac looked at the van, shook his head and said matter-of-factly, "I told you we should have got the Deluxe wash."

In a cruel twist of fate, a friend later said I had been on a little-used ATV trail. Which certainly explained a few things. It wasn't big enough for a car, let alone a big red van. I probably looked like a huge red tomato bouncing through the forest. 

On the bright side, every little "improvement" is good theft prevention. Only desperate people would steal a one-sided crookedly striped, aging, gas guzzling, 200,000 mile van.

Thankfully the van is usually dirty so the stripes don't show. 


(P.S. A smart person would have taken a picture of the damage but I didn't and now, as I just mentioned, the van is dirty, so I still can't take a picture. Plus it's too cold to stand outside taking pictures of dirty vans anyway.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Mugs - Smiles

In the spirit of this week's
Monday Mug's theme of Smiles
I present:

Smiler #1 - Lani

Smiler #2
Amy five years ago

Smiler #3 - Anna
(taken by Erica)

Smiler #4 - Erica

Smiler #5 - Kiah
Christina took this three years ago

 Smiler #6 - Andrew
That's my boy!

Smiler - #7 - Christina

Smiler #8 - Jessie

"A smile is a language that
 even a baby understands."
(Source unknown)

To view more smiles, trot over to Oswald Cuties
Next week's theme is Winter Wonderland

Friday, January 7, 2011

Goofy Girls

  How did kids entertain themselves
before digital cameras?
 What is it with my family?
 Is it just my kids
 Or are they easily entertained?
 And what should I do
with so many
silly pictures?
 I mean seriously
 They go on
and on
and on
 If you need ideas for goofy pictures
give us a call. 
We've got a complete portfolio.