The Pretty Princess and the Frog Legs

Look who came to visit Auntie Melinda!

DSC_0340 Our very special Anniekins! (and her four brothers!)

And since Anniekins is totally a girlie girl who loves high heels and sparkles, we spent a lot of time wearing princess dresses, reading princess stories, listening to Disney songs for hours, and playing with dolls.

At least we girls did. The guys did their own “man-stuff” (well, other than one little incident with some dress-up clothes that we got pictures of that I won’t post on line if they send me more chocolate but will totally be a part of some graduation videos someday soon! I prefer my chocolate really dark, boys!)

They spent their time jumping off roofs, having water gun wars, playing Zombie tag, and perfecting their survival skills.

Which of course, involved frog hunting. Thank you , Bear Grylls.

Their first attempt yielded one pathetic little frog.


Which  Andrew very carefully butchered and they cooked both bites of meat from the frog legs on my stove and ate them.

Then they ate massive amounts of pulled pork sandwiches and chips and finished off the cookies. So much for living off the land!

But they were determined and a later exhibition – that including sneaking over to borrow Grandpa’s fishing net in the middle of the night – yielded one nice big bullfrog.

Which they also cooked up and shared bites with any who wished to try it.


And – in a surprising twist of fate – Anniekins – who is definitely more of an ice cream and sprinkles kind of girl (heavy on the sprinkles please!) – took a taste and loved it! She grabbed the rest of one of the legs and picked it clean! But Grandpa – who grew up eating lutefisk and pickled herring – politely refused to try it.

And yes – I ate some! It tasted like fishy chicken in case you wondered.

And yes, I would eat it again – especially if it meant the guys didn’t try for bigger game. I’m not sure Auntie Melinda is ready for coon, or ‘possom, or even wood chuck!

And remember my darling nephews, I like my chocolate dark! 🙂

Hugs and Giggles

It has been such a busy week!

So much laughter and silliness – so many special moments.


Several days we “went to town” to run errands and pick up Pedro from Driver’s Ed. Each girl had their purse, their baby, and their snack bag. They even got lollipops at the grocery store.

Play GroundWe stopped to play at the park – because Aunt ‘linna and Aunt “Juwe” think that time spent in a park is priceless.
SweetsWe think the girls agreed.
One afternoon we even took the whole crew (all 13 kids) to the beach – because we’re either crazy or up for Aunts of the Year. 🙂

We all loved it and have the sunburns to prove it!
EmieWe played dress-up clothes, read stories, played with water balloons and spent hours in the swings.
KateWe feed the moo cows, chased the chickens, threw rocks in the ponds, and ate mulberries right off the trees.

We discovered fresh garden peas, read a ka-gillian stories, painted our finger nails and toe nails, and dipped all our food in ranch dressing.

We hugged and kissed and giggled and laughed.

We tickled and prayed and sang and splashed.

It was a good week.

Annie and the Thrift Store

SandLast weekend at our family reunion – I was able to slip away with my 3 sisters-in-law and Jan’s mom to hit a couple garage sales and my favorite thrift store.

We left our very brave husbands home with all the kids – except one – Annie.

Annie to go because there was just one seat left in the van – and she was the only little one who wasn’ t muddy yet.

I’m not sure how excited she was to go an adventure with her aunts – but she was a good sport and soon learned that Auntie Melinda’s thrift stores are quite a bit different then the ones in the big city where she lives!

As soon as we walked into the Mission Possible Thrift Store Annie spotted the row of baby dolls perched right at her level on the shelves. She made a beeline for them exclaiming, “BABIES!”

Every lady in the shop stopped what they doing and said “Ohhh…how precious!”

From that moment on she had the run of the store.

She hugged baby dolls for awhile, then moved on to scarves. After she found a silky pink one and wrapped it around her neck, she moved on with Nana to the other side of the store where she discovered shoes.

Annie loves shoes. Really loves shoes.  Especially shoes that are too big.

She was in her element!

She would try on a pair of shoes and parade around the clothes rack carrying a dolly and wearing her pretty pink scarf.

The other shoppers smiled.

Her favorite pairs were a pair of fuzzy red slippers and a metallic silver heel.

At one point I overheard her say to Nana,” I think you should buy these pretty shoes Nana.”

Nana replied, “Oh my, those are very pretty Annie, but I just don’t have any metallic silver dresses to wear them with.” 🙂

Nana did however buy the fuzzy red slippers and Auntie Melinda bought her the pretty pink scarf.

So she left the store with a few treasures of her own and several new admirers.

She and I sat on the courthouse steps across the street eating pretzels while the other gals finished up.

When they joined us in a few minutes they were exclaiming about the great prices and their sweet finds.

I just smiled and said, “You just can’t beat a small town thrift store for great deals.”

And I’m sure Annie would add, “And lots of fun!” 🙂

Memorial Day Weekend

Oh my! What a weekend!

We hosted all of Jan’s family – his 2 parents, 1 sister, 2 brothers, 3 spouses, and their 15 children, plus, of course, the seven of us – for a big 80th Birthday Bash to honor his Mom.

It’s been 1-1/2 years since we were all together last – and the changes were amazing! Those cousins are sure growing up fast! At one point I was inside and heard the kids playing an intense game of Ultimate Frisbee on the lawn.

FrisbeeThose “kids” sounded more like men with their deep voices yelling and making war whoops.

And boy could those kids eat!  Seriously. Those guys could pack it in.  Bottomless pits.

But not all were forking it in hand over fist. My little ones were also here to provide a little humor and lots of hugs.
Just before this picture was shot, Annie had grabbed her straw and put it into a nearby mud puddle to get a drink! Thankfully Angel Girl got there just in time to stop her.

And of course – my youngest two nephews spent as much time as possible sitting on Uncle Jan’s “twactors” and begging for rides on the 4-wheeler.

K&MAnd then there’s Katie. She’s one of a kind – that girl. A perpetual motion machine. She was quite taken with my chickens. At one point she found 2 egg shaped rocks by the sand box. She quickly pushed them together and sat on them clucking like a hen.

She and her brother Davy and sister Emie chased those poor chickens the entire weekend. I’m not sure what they would have done if they had actually caught one! 🙂

The kids were outside from sun up to sun down. They climbed trees, took epic adventures, had a water balloon fight, and spent hours on the swings. If the amount of dirt and mud on their bodies and the amount of food they consumed was any indication – I’d say they all had a great time!

I think it’s safe to say that we all did! 🙂

Ready or Not…

Ready or not ….here they’ve come!

Remember my nieces Emie and Katie?!

They’re here – at my house – with their other five siblings.

Their momma asked me if the older boys could spend spring break here – I said sure – but knowing how much she needed a break – I asked her to send all seven kids.

She did.

They arrived this afternoon after a journey that was a logistical masterpiece involving 3 different legs, 3 different drivers, a stop at McDonald’s and a potty break at Wal- Mart with little girls crawling under stalls.

My sister-in-law Julie 0ffered her assistance for the week – bless her heart. She arrived yesterday with her 2 boys and lots of food.

Boy did I need her help!

Having three precious little gals with Down’s  Syndrome is a challenge.  Reality hit yesterday when their momma sent us an email with detailed instructions including an entire paragraph entitled Pee, Poop and other Potty stuff.

The big boys I’m not too worried about – we’ll feed them when they’re hungry (which is all the time!) and make sure they wearing clean underwear when they go home.

But those little girls need a constant eye and lots of loving.

So far today Annie ate only bread for supper, Katie drank bath water and Emie only made one attempt to escape.

But we had lots of giggles, played toys and watched the chickens. They were fed, went potty, bathed, and loved.

And – they were in bed within 10 minutes of bedtime!

Even though the big boys are all outside playing in the rain – I think I will still call day one a success.

Just seven days to go…

Good- bye Mary

Our December included a funeral this year.

We went to say good-bye to Mary, the special daughter of some old church friends.

Mary had born 58 years ago with Down’s Syndrome. That was back when it was acceptable – even encouraged – to institutionalize your special needs child. But Mary’s parent’s didn’t.

They took her home and loved her.

They made her a part of the family.

When she needed schooling, her mom helped start a special class for her and a few others in the area. They encouraged her and watched her grow to be a very special adult. She had a crazy sense of humor and loved to sing – especially the song Silent Night – no matter what time of year it was!

Mary loved life and lived it to the fullness.

Her siblings grew up and married, giving Mary new playmates – her nieces and nephews. They loved her dearly. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church on that cold Saturday afternoon at her funeral as one of her nieces told funny Mary stories.

Her death left a huge hole in that family.

A few years ago my niece Annie was born with Down’s Syndrome. I caught Mary’s mom after church one Sunday to tell her, knowing she – of all people – knew what our family was feeling.

Mary’s mom just gave me a hug and smiled. “Honey, it ain’t all bad. She’ll be a blessing, just you wait.”

Oh – how very right she was!

Little Annie is a blessing – a joy – a delight!

She makes our life – our family – richer because she is there.

Just like Mary did in her family for the least 58 years.

Good-bye sweet Mary. You have blessed us here for so long. Enjoy your first Christmas in glory singing Silent Night with the angels.

Thank you for showing us all that life is best lived with the joy and wonder of a little child.

You will be missed.