4th of July Memories

This may go down as the our most memorable 4th of July weekend in recent history.

It was by far the most emotional.

We started the day with my nephew’s wedding.

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JOY!

It was a precious celebration of answered prayers and God’s faithfulness. And yes, I cried – but they were happy tears!

While the newlyweds took off on their honeymoon, the rest of us shed our wedding attire and moved on to my sister’s for a family cook-out.  You know the kind – an All-American baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet kind of day.

Except that instead of baseball – we had contests on the trampoline to see who could catch a leaf with their teeth while jumping.DSC_0014
And instead of a Chevrolet we had go-cart races.

But we did have hot dogs and pie and lots of laughter.

And cotton candy.

And a strange dog that looked remarkably like Lassie.

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And while the rest of the country lit sparklers and fire works – we fired a Civil War cannon.  Bet that made the neighbors jump! (And no – we did not use Jan’s cannon ball!)

It was a little bittersweet as we said our goodbyes that evening. We knew that we would all be together the next night at my Grandpa’s visitation and again on Saturday for Grandpa’s funeral.

From wedding to funeral.

Tears of joy and tears of sorrow.

Making new memories and remembering old ones.

An emotional roller coaster.

But it was all good.

And God is faithful through it all. The joy and the pain. The happy and the sad.

The circle of life.

 

Meeting of the Clan

It was a “meeting of the clan” this weekend for my husband’s family. We met up with his siblings and their families at his parents house for a weekend of  fun and sweet fellowship.

cousinsAll the cousins were there – except for my Matt – which made for 7 teenage boys, 4 almost teenage boys and 2 pint-sized fellas who ate like teenage boys!  You should have seen the food they inhaled!

And we can’t forget the 6 girl cousins (including my three special nieces with the extra chromosome!) While definitely outnumbered – they added a much needed feminine touch!

It rained all weekend which ruined many of our outside plans and left us with 2 soggy tents and a basement full of boys that smelled strongly of locker room. But that didn’t stop us!

Family Fun Run

The rain slowed down enough on Saturday morning to hold our first ever Shervheim Family 5K and Fun Run.

It was wet – but boy did we make some memories! Especially when some of the 5K runners got lost on the course. Thankfully they were found before they made it to the next town.  They got a bit of teasing all week-end and Poppa and Nana awarded them all ribbons for running the half marathon!

rock climbing

Then – to get them good and tired – Poppa and Nana took the whole crew to do some indoor rock climbing. Since I tend to hyperventilate when I see my kids strapped on ropes and hanging on the sides of really high walls while holding on to little plastic supports – I volunteered to stay home with my three special nieces who needed a bath and some Aunt Melinda cuddles.

So while my husband calmly watched our babies hang in mid-air, I got to bubble 3 girls and play hair dresser. Well – actually – the girls did the hair styling and I was the “stylee”. When they were finally done,  my hair was teased out to almost horizontal with two “clicks clicks” (barrettes) in odd angles and at least one comb stuck somewhere in the back. Oh it was fun!

fish pond

Poppa and Nana had a fish pond for the littles, letting them take turns fishing for gifts.  The teens were on the other side of the curtain hooking their gifts to the poles and sometimes adding a special surprise – like a stuffed skunk or a smelly shoe!

We had a birthday party for sweet Annie-kins, a Mancala tournament (I actually made it through two rounds – but lost to Buddy in the quarter finals), lots of carpet ball, swimming and a real old-fashioned slide show!

The kids even got in one game of Ultimate Frisbee in the rain. (And to answer the question as to when kids are old enough to know not to put wet clothes in their duffle bags – it would be sometime older then ours!)

But the best part of the weekend – and of any weekend when we get together – is the time spent just hanging out.

cousins

Just being together. Laughing. Talking. Wrestling. Burping loudly. (Well – all right – not all of us did the wrestling and the burping!)

But we all enjoyed the weekend!

Sweet times.

Buddy’s Birthday: 12th Edition

We did it again.

Child’s birthday party number 79 is now history.

This one was Buddy’s – his 12th.

Some of you may remember his last year’s cake – a masterpiece of Lego engineering complete with a M & M cannon and his favorite Pika.

This year was just as spectacular!

He had not one – but two royal Pika’s – complete with crowns, guards, a court jester, and a royal food tester – all made out of Lego’s and designed by Buddy himself.

It was truly a site to behold – especially when all the candles were lit and started to lean dangerously over.

We have never sung “Happy Birthday” so quickly.

I have never been so glad to see 12 candles blown out!

And I still can’t believe that 12 years could go by so quickly!

Happy birthday Buddy! We love you!

A First Ever Family Tractor Ride

My family has some pretty deep rural roots and we were able to tap into those roots last weekend with a first ever Family Tractor Ride.

My Uncle Delbert furnished the tractors – a whole yard full of vintage ones in orange, and red and green.

And we furnished the drivers – 3 van loads full!tractor ride 1

It took a few minutes for everyone to find a tractor, for the experienced drivers to give a few basic instructions to the rookies and for everyone to take a practice lap around the outbuildings.

tractor ride 2Then we headed them down the driveway! We had a quite a line up of tractors of all ages with drivers of all ages heading down the blacktop! A little slow at first – until the rookies discovered “road gear”.

Of course my mom got in on the action! She drove “Grandma’s Tractor” – the one my grandma used when she worked in the fields with Grandpa.

Pedro on tractorPedro took to driving that tractor like a natural! He got himself a shiny red one and spent the morning grinning from ear to ear!

Dagmar on tractorDagmar wasn’t going to be left out of the action either! She got to drive a shiny red Farmall that matched her sunglasses – and loved every minute!

hay rackThose of us who were too young to drive – or to scared to try – rode on a hay rack complete with our very own sound system! And yes – I was on the hay rack with all three of my sisters – who were also too scared to try. (But then – somebody had to chaperone those kids and take the pictures!)

tractor line upWe drove our parade of tractors seven miles from my uncle’s farm to my folk’s place where we parked them and took a break for lunch.

Then we fired them up again – and headed off down the road.

tractor ride home stretchYoung. Old.

Aunts. Uncles. Cousins.

Family.

Remembering a simpler time. Honoring our past.  Connecting with our rural heritage. Making memories.

And having a great time!

So much fun that when we finally got back to my uncle’s farm, most of the drivers hopped off the tractor they had been on and hopped on another to test it out!

Buddy on tractorDad’s let the younger ones have a turn at the wheel in the safety of the barn yard.

And even I got up enough courage to get behind the wheel!

behind the wheel

Thanks to my brother Tim – who made me do it and then did all the shifting so all I had to do is steer and clutch and brake. 🙂

It was an incredibly fun day!

Thank you Delbert – for helping us make a memory that we will never forget!

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th of July!

It’s 101 degrees here today. That’s actual air temperature. I don’t want to know what the heat index is.

We brought our picnic inside and pitied the poor soul who had to stand by the grill and cook it for us.
Juicy Burger, Chips, and Greens
We opted out of the parade later this afternoon – although there’s some talk amongst the kiddos about fireworks just over the border tonight.

But not me.

After celebrating all weekend with my family at the hottest family camp-out in recent history – I plan on enjoying this mid-week holiday in the comfort of my AC.

I’m going to lay on my couch sipping my ice tea fondly remembering the sweat dripping down my back.

Yes – I do mean fondly.
Water
It was a wonderful weekend – despite the heat.

We just had to be more creative to stay cool.

Like spending the afternoon sitting in the creek with my sisters, enjoying all 3 inches of water and talking.

Or sitting around with our feet in the wading pools watching the kids have water balloon fights.

Or – for the more desperate ones – sitting in the walk-in cooler drinking raspberry lemonade.
Hike
Nope. A little heat didn’t stop us from making memories. We just drank more water, threw more water and played with more water.

But now I’m played out.

My couch is waiting, my tea is icing, and I am smiling.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Iron Chef 2012

This past weekend my entire family gathered at my parent’s house for our yearly “Remix”.  This unique family celebration came about because we were all in need of a weekend full of laughter, lots of sugar, and little sleep somewhere between our Christmas celebration at Labor Day and our annual camp-out over the 4th of July.

Since we invented the holiday, we decided to invent our own traditions too – and thus our annual Iron Chef competition was born.

The secret ingredient is announced in advance and everyone is welcome to bring as many entries as they wish.

This year’s secret ingredient was cereal.

As always, there were many amazing entries –

Iron Chef entriesBut I had a favorite.

My sister Sandy’s kids went above and beyond to create a masterpiece. Surely you remember the Rice Krispie sculpture of William Tell from three years ago?

This year they made a giant cereal bowl out of cereal complete with a cereal spoon!

rice krispie cereal bowlBut that’s not all!

Oh no! These kids decided that a special bowl needed a special cereal – so they invented 2 kinds.

The first was Uncle Rod’s Adventure cereal. Uncle Rod loves cereal. Especially sugared cereal. Since his favorite part of the cereal is the toys inside – they decorated an empty cereal box and filled it with plastic baggies full of plastic adventure toys!

But the second kind of cereal was my all-time favorite. Why? Because they named it for me!

Auntie M's Organic O'sIt even had my picture on the front!

But the best part was what was inside!

I opened the recycled cereal box and pulled out a plastic bag that looked like it was full of Cheerios. But – as I kept pulling, I discovered the cereal was just a disguise.

The bottom of the bag was full of mini chocolate candy bars!

One of the kids called out, “Because Aunt Melinda is always hiding her chocolate!”

Those kids know we too well!

Not that I would ever dream of hiding my chocolate at the bottom of a box of organic cereal! 🙂

But I did keep the box – just in case!

It’s “Pi” Day

Happy National “Pi” day everyone!Pies

It’s March 14 – the third month and the fourteenth day – otherwise written as 3.14. Get it?

Remember the pi you used in math years ago? It’s that funny symbol that made all your answers end with decimal points. That pi stands for 3.14.

And since today’s date is 3.14 – today is “pi” day!

Does this make any sense at all?

It doesn’t matter – because as soon as I heard the word “pi” I didn’t think about mathematical symbols.

Nope. My mind immediately went to those yummy round shaped desserts with a crust and delectable fillings.

So Buddy and I went to work this afternoon and created not one – but 2 pies to celebrate!

You might be thinking that’s a mighty thin reason to make a pie.

Yep. I agree. Just as thin as the crust of that chocolate pie! But it’s enough for me!

I think you should find something to celebrate in every day!

That’s why we have shamrock shakes on St. Patrick’s Day.

Cherry pie on Washington’s birthday.

Snow cake to celebrate the first snow of winter.

And egg nest cookies on the day we spot the first robin of spring.

Life is a blessing – find something to celebrate today!

Slug Bug Yellow!

Slug Bug YellowWe did a little driving with the kids over the last few weeks – and I must say it’s a bit nerve-wracking to ride in a vehicle when they start playing the yellow car game.

We’ll be calmly and quietly driving down the road when all of a sudden kids will hit the roof of the car and yell “Yellow Car” (or truck or van or bus.)

I guess the idea is that you want to be the first to spot the yellow vehicle, slap the roof of the car and yell it out. Whoever has the most amount of hits at the end of the journey wins.

Now Jan and I play a similar game trying to spot Land Cruisers. It started on our honeymoon. The older the Land Cruiser, the more points you get. But we don’t hit the roof and yell – we just smugly point it out to each other and announce our new point total. 🙂

Even my folks make a game of spotting trains when they’re on the road delivering Winnebagos. Ten points for every train – another 10 for whoever spots the engine first and 50 points for a passenger train or caboose. Again – no hitting involved – just a little bragging!

These are both quiet, calm games with that don’t sound like we’ve just been hit by artillery fire.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. At least the kids are hitting the car and not each other. Remember the slug bug game we used to play? Whenever we saw a Volkswagon Beetle we would hit the person next to us and yell “Slug bug”.

It was a great game until somebody got hit too hard and Dad had to lay down the law.  🙂

I will have to admit the kids are good at spotting yellow vehicles.

Really good.

On a recent adventure with my sister-in-law Julie, the kids were totally dominating us in the yellow car game. They were slapping that roof before our brains could register the fact that a car was coming – let alone what color it was.

So we decided to make up our own rules. 🙂

Anything yellow was game.

We saw a yellow house and slapped the roof of the van – “yellow house”.

We saw a yellow mailbox. Slap – “yellow mailbox!”

Slap – “yellow swing set!”

Slap – “yellow curtains!”

Then we got a little silly! You know that broken yellow line that divides a two lane road?

Yep! We did it.

Slap – “Yellow line!”

Slap – “Yellow line!”

Slap – “Yellow line!”

Slap – “Yellow line!”

The kids were not impressed.

But we sure had fun!

Slap – “Yellow line!”

We decided if you can’t beat them – just change the rules! 🙂

24 Hours of Fun

We decided at the last minute to take advantage of the beautiful weather and drive the 3 hours to my sister’s house Friday night for a little pre-New Year’s fun.

She let the rest of the family know that we were coming and before the  night was over my parents and all of my siblings had arrived for an impromptu party!

Not only was impromptu – it was short. We had just 24 hours together.

Do you have any idea how much fun a bunch of cousins can cram into 24 hours? Especially when they don’t sleep?

making moviesThey put Angel Girl behind the camera and  filmed an epic movie – complete with costumes and a rap.

They played hilarious games, did some wild singing, and laughed at all their inside jokes.

line dancingThere was a lot of dancing – both with Dance Central and then some line dancing in the basement, followed by some swing dancing and a little “Hunting the Fox”.

Then there was the great deer head adventure. One of the uncles had hit a deer with his van and it was still laying in the ditch. The kids decided to go and rescue the antlers for him. The only problem was – they couldn’t get the antlers off.

deer head adventureSo they brought him the whole head.

I know he appreciated it!

They had a midnight toast with homemade ice cream, ate cold pizza at 2 AM and consumed lots of Christmas goodies between times.

Dagmar and the wolfBut most of all – they just loved being together! (And yes – there is a cousin hidden in the wolf costume!)

Now that was 24 hours of fun and excitement!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Our Christmas story this week is one from my childhood. It’s the one story my own kids loved to hear – about the time that Aunt Sandy, Uncle Tim and their mom almost got into trouble on Christmas Eve.

1What child doesn’t love the excitement of Christmas Eve?!

Do you remember how hard it was to sleep after hanging your stockings?

Every year I would toss and turn in bed, trying to stay awake so that I could hear when those mysterious presents appeared under the tree.

I wasn’t the only one. My siblings were the same way.

One year in particular my brother, sister and I made an elaborate plan.

We would stay up until the presents appeared – and then we would sneak downstairs and check them out!

We lived in a big old farmhouse in rural Iowa. I was about 10 years old, which would make Sandy, 9 and Tim, 12.

We obediently went to bed when we were told and waited anxiously until all was quiet in the house. Then Sandy and I very quietly slipped out of bed and headed to Tim’s room at the top of the stairs.

He was waiting and ready with our secret stash of pilfered chocolate chips and dry Tang. We sat feasting in the light of our flashlights, trying not to giggle while we waited for the perfect time to make our foray downstairs.

When we were sure that everyone in the house was asleep – or maybe it was when we ran out of chocolate chips – we began our descent down the stairs.

Now remember – this is an older farm house and the stairs were pretty creaky. But my brother had been testing them for weeks. He knew exactly where each step creaked and had the pattern memorized so that we could sneak down those stairs without a sound.

Right side on the first step.

Middle on the second.

Back to the right on the third.

The fourth step is bad, skip it totally and go on to the left side of the fifth.

Step by step he silently led us down the stairs, my sister and I stepping exactly where he stepped.

We didn’t make a sound.

At the bottom of the stairs there were 2 doors. One opened into the living room with the tree and the stockings and all the gifts. The other opened into the newer addition which included a bathroom, utility room, and kitchen.

The door into the living room was closed and it creaked, but the bathroom door was open. The plan was to quietly go through the bathroom, out the other door to the utility room, circle around through the kitchen, and enter the living room where we would use our flashlights to scope out our presents.

The three of us were in line. Tim, in the lead, noiselessly slipped through the first bathroom door like a hunter stalking his prey. I was close behind, followed by Sandy.

Now that we were in the newer part of the house the floors didn’t creak. We were close now! Our excitement surged and Tim picked up speed. He took the next bathroom door at a semi-run with me right at his heels. We had just about rounded the utility room when we heard the loud crash!

We looked back in horror to see Sandy in a heap on the floor – she had gone too fast and tripped on the bathroom rug!

It took a second for the reality of the situation to hit – we were out of bed at midnight on Christmas Eve with flashlights and the smell of pilfered chocolate chips on our breath!

And we had just made enough noise in the quiet house to wake the dead!

We turned tail and took the stairs three at a time. We jumped into bed, pulling the covers up over our heads.

Then, despite our excitement and all that extra sugar, we fell sound asleep.

Before we knew it – it was Christmas morning and we hadn’t been caught!

We ran down the stairs with sheepish expressions and saw all the gifts that had eluded us the night before.

As far as I can remember, that was our last Christmas Eve mission. We soon grew too old for those midnight raids, but it sure makes a fun memory!

You know – I haven’t had dry Tang in years! 🙂