Graduation

Graduation 007Graduation is tomorrow.

Everybody’s been asking me if I’m ready for the big day.

Ready?

Well – the house is clean, the food is prepped, the invitations are sent, the cap and gown are pressed and we have several house projects completed in anticipation of the after-graduation party.

But am I ready?

Hmmm…good question.

Is it ever possible to be ready for major life changes? Was I ready when Matt was born? When we sat down at the kitchen table and started school? When he started driving?

Yet – at this point – after all the planning and preparations – I think I’m ready to just get it done and get back to normal.

But wait – that’s the problem isn’t it.

After tomorrow our “normal” will be different.

At the end of the summer there will be only be four students sitting around our table doing school.

My first-born will be out of the nest.

And it’s that thought – dear friends – that leaves me in a puddle.

When my sister Teresa graduated her oldest – she would burst into tears whenever anyone even said the word graduation.

I used to tease her about it.

Silly me.

I guess it’s my turn now.

Somebody please pass me the tissues – ready or not – here we go!

Our Christmas Tree

TreeI love the Christmas season!

Normally – Christmas music will start playing just as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is picked over and in the fridge.

But this year the girls caved early and started listening the week of Thanksgiving!

And the Christmas tree goes up – by the first of December – if not before.

I will admit that our Christmas tree will never grace the cover of a home and garden magazine, nor would a passing stranger admire it’s beauty.

But that doesn’t matter to me.

Why? Because our tree is decorated with memories. Each and every ornament has a story. Each one is an old friend.

There are ornaments from college friends, former students, and coworkers. There is one “First Christmas Together” ornament along with five “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments.

Then there are the handmade ones, the art projects created by my children, the heirloom ornaments designed by our parents and Jan’s Grandma Moen’s tatted snowflakes and bells.

It’s not just a part of the Christmas decor – it is a document of our family history.

Just like everything else in our Christmas – it’s not about being picture perfect – it’s about making memories that tie us together as a family.

And that makes it a thing of beauty to me.

Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be quite a busy one – so busy that it’s taken us all a few days to recover!

We started out on Thanksgiving Day at church where we helped to serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal to anyone in the community who didn’t have a place to go or family to spend the day with.

LL

It was the second year the church opened its door for a Thanksgiving meal and we were thrilled with the attendance and support.

My responsibility was to cook and bring the turkeys and make the gravy. I fretted over that gravy.

I prayed over that gravy.

I’m happy to report that it was well received! 🙂

The kids loved hanging out after they helped served drinks and cut pie.

Then as soon as we had the clean-up under control we loaded up our crew and left straight from church to head up to Jan’s brother’s place in the Twin Cities.

It was a 6+ hour trip and as we headed north the cold increased – as did the snow.

TWISTER

But it was worth it! The kids filled every minute with cousin time! I think they slept at some point- but I can’t verify that statement. 🙂

They watched movies, played in the snow, and even had a push-up competition.

Meanwhile I had some sweet time with 3 special nieces (you can read more about them here, here, here, and here), and did some major “thrifting” with my sister-in-law. Ahh – the bargains we found! 🙂

Grama

Jan and I had also chance to slip away and drive the extra 45 minutes north to the nursing home where my Grandpa and Grandma are now staying.

It was another bittersweet visit. Grandma knew exactly who I was and we had a lovely time together.  She held my hand as if – when she let go I would disappear.

She cried when I left.

I cried too.

Grandpa’s in the Alzheimer’s unit and he didn’t know me, but he seemed glad to see me anyway. He looked tired and a little lost.

I cried when I said good-bye to him too. I always wonder if it was our last visit.

The rest of the weekend went by in a blur of laughter and food!

We packed the gang up on Sunday morning and left for the return trip home – this time with some very tired and sick kiddos.

It was one of those weekends that we filled to the brim!

But I’m so glad we did – the memories we made were priceless!

The Amazing Butter Buns

I wish you all could meet my niece Butter Buns.

And no – Butter Buns is not her real name – it’s her nickname and she came by it quite honestly. A few years ago her daddy was calling her his little “honey buns” until one day at lunch her mommy served her honey on her biscuits.

She took one bite and declared that she didn’t like honey, she liked butter on her buns. And what’s more – she didn’t want to be called “honey buns” anymore – from then on she wanted to be called “Butter Buns”!

We’ve been more than happy to oblige! 🙂

She’s still keeping us in stitches with her creativity!

While we were there over the weekend, she proudly displayed some recent inventions and I just had to get a picture to share them.

Introducing the original Butter Buns Cold Belt

During a rather nasty cold – complete with a very runny nose – she designed this one-of-a-kind belt. Made out of cardboard, this unique accessory offers a full box of Kleenex on one side with a handy empty box to hold used tissues on the other.

The loop between the two is to hold the Vaseline to put on her very sore nose after blowing.

Who would have thought?

Then there’s the Butter Buns Personal Fan

When a family friend gave her a used hand held mixer with just one beater, she immediately saw potential.

A little cardboard and duct tape later – she had her very own personal fan! She even discovered  that she needed to bend the blades to better create a breeze.

Let me tell you – this is one kid who is going far in this world!

Just wait – someday you’ll see the Butter Buns brand in a store near you!

Oh – and did I tell you she’s only seven?! 🙂

Golden Memories!

It was an amazing weekend!

As you know, my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year – and my siblings and I wanted to honor them.

But what do you do with a Mom who hates Open Houses, and a fun-loving crazy bunch of kids and grand-kids?

You create a Golden Event!

So all 34 of us met here – at my house – last weekend for a unique celebration full of food, laughter and memories.

Unique describes it well!

Family started coming in on Thursday – with Saturday being the day of the Event (which we kept a surprise from Mom and Dad.)

Okay – a word here about trying to surprise my mom – she has been known to open presents early and re-wrap them because she can’t stand the suspense! Mom quizzed one of my sisters so much that my sister finally had to say, “Mom – I am not a present for you to shake for information! And no fair shaking my children either!”  🙂

It may be hard to surprise Mom – but we pulled it off in a really big way!

After lunch the grand kids decorated the car before we all got “dressed up” in our fancy attire for the big Event which we dubbed “The Golden”.  Since playing with dress-up clothes has always been a favorite activity – we had a lot of fun with this.

We had everything from the glamorous to the outrageous! One of my nieces came as a cowgirl, one nephew wore a bright plaid suit coat with a pink tie and holey jeans while my brother wore plaid shorts, a striped t-shirt and a Hawaiian shirt!

My costume? I actually found an ecru (almost golden) lace dress at the thrift store for 10 cents. Score!

Why the fancy attire? We were heading to a “Red Carpet Premiere”!

That’s right! My brother – in his eye-numbing ensemble – led our caravan of vehicles to the newly renovated Princess Theater in town – which we rented for a few hours to show 3 amazing homemade videos.

My youngest sister made two of them.

The first showed Mom and Dad’s courtship, marriage and our growing up years. The second covered everything since then – including all the grandchildren.

Together they covered 50 years of memories.

Let’s just say that we went through a lot of Kleenex.

The third video was made by all the grandchildren – it was a crazy documentary full of family humor and inside jokes. We laughed so hard we cried!

Mom and Dad loved it!

Everybody loved it! I can’t tell you how amazing it was to sit in that darkened theater holding Jan’s hand and watching Mom and Dad’s love story play out on the big screen. Tears flowed as picture after picture reminded me of the rich heritage I have – a heritage of love and laughter.

The kids just thought it was pretty cool to see themselves on the screen in a real movie theater.  🙂

From the theater we went to the local REC where we had rented the community room for the evening. We sat the entire family around one extra – extra long table and served a nice meal (nothing fancy – just good home cooking!).

The rest of the evening was spent dancing, singing, playing games, eating, and reading mom and dad’s love letters (Dad will never win awards for his poetry – but  gets lots of points for being very romantical!)

It was such a special time – and so much fun!

I feel so blessed to be a part of this crazy bunch – to have grown up surrounded by all this love and support – to be able to call my siblings my best friends – to have parents who are still crazy about each other after being married for 50 years.

It was an amazing week-end.

Teenagers in the House

Birthday cake with the letter 'P'

With Pedro’s 13th birthday last week, I now have three teenagers in the house.

No wonder my grocery bills have been climbing – really climbing.  (By the way, I now believe in the “hollow legs” theory.)

My computer is always in use with someone else’s email logged in and weird music playing.

My laundry piles are bigger and the clothes in the piles are bigger. My son is taller than my husband and I can almost share clothes with my daughter.

The shower is always in use and the remote control is a hot commodity.

And my schedule is crazy!

I thought it was hard having babies and toddlers in the house! Hah! They were a piece of cake – at least they went down for a nap every afternoon, went to bed before midnight and didn’t use all the hot water!

But I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s exciting to see these kids growing up – maturing – becoming the adults that God meant them to be.

And I have a front row seat to cheer them on.

How blessed I am!

Truffles!

Truffle Weekend Truffles.

The very name makes me salivate!

To me truffles are the epitome of chocolate gratification.

My sister surprised us at a recent after Christmas family get- together with more truffles than I’ve seen in a lifetime!

They had a wonderful time at the clearance table at Sam’s Club picking out a large selection of various truffles at a greatly reduced price!

These amazing delicacies were the stars of the weekend.

I am almost ashamed to admit that we ate them morning, noon and night. We had a truffle with breakfast, again at 10:00, and then one just before lunch. Of course we needed some for dessert and on through the afternoon ending our day with a  truffle just before bed.

We began the weekend carefully checking the packages to make intelligent choices, but soon we were snarfing them down regardless. (But by then all the caramel ones were eaten anyway!)

At the end of the weekend we were all “truffle-a-tized”.

We divided the large amount of remaining truffles between us and headed home to face the reality of the bathroom scale.

I will confess that there are still truffles in my pantry luring me with their smooth decadent goodness. But there will not be a repeat of that wonderful weekend, at least not for awhile!;)

But it will remain in our memories as a chocolate highlight of the year!

Christmas in September?!

I have a unique family. A large, loving, fun, creative and very unique family.

A few years my mom realized that with the size of the family and the distance we have to travel, having Christmas in the winter was no longer feasible. We just didn’t fit in the house and often the weather kept some of us from attending.

So my parents decreed that we would have Christmas when everyone could travel and when it was warm enough so that we could spill out into the yard in tents.

So we now have Christmas over Labor Day weekend.

People look at you oddly when you tell them. But one gets used to odd looks when you’re a member of my family. We enjoy each other and like to keep our livers healthy by laughing.

Every year we act out the Christmas story on the lawn complete with animal costumes and a camp fire where the shepherds can hang out.

We exchange Christmas presents in the shade of the oak trees while swatting mosquitoes and nursing sunburns we acquired while tubing down the West Fork River with the kiddos.

And we eat! Everyone brings a meal and desserts to make it easy to feed this multitude. We have lots of chocolate and lots of fresh salsa! (Interesting combination?! Hey, I said we were unique!)

And the laughter! Meal times stretch out as we sit around swapping stories and sharing laughter.

(Did I tell you we eat in the garage? My parents set up a buffet line out of planks and saw horses to serve from and picnic tables to eat on. We are in the shade and away from the bugs!)

As you can tell, I can’t wait for our Christmas in September celebration to get started! I’ve learned long ago, it’s the people you want to share it with that makes Christmas, not the time of year.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Don’t Waste this Hour… Don’t Waste Today…

William Adolphe Bouguereau- The HaymakerSome wise words from one of my favorite authors, Edith Schaeffer:

“A balance that is important to consider…is the balance between the danger of wasting the “now” or of considering that everything is going to be static, with no future!

Don’t waste this hour, Don’t waste today…Think hard-what can you do now in this combination that you can’t do in ten years, in five years, even next year? Then do it!….

What does this summer have for you and what does today have that you can do, that won’t be possible five years from now, two years from now, next week?

Someday all that you can do today or this week will only be a memory. Let it be a memory of what you did do…

What if we have to move; what would you want to do first? What do you enjoy about this garden, this house, these books, that if it all were taken away, you’d wish you were here to do it for just one hour?…

Don’t waste the now…”

~Edith Schaeffer, from her book What is a Family.

Home School Conference Time Again

Library books
It’s time for our Annual State Home School Conference and I am packed and ready!

This has become a tradition for my husband and I, a time away to really focus on our home and children. It’s a time to set goals, choose curriculum and be encouraged. It’s a time to evaluate where we are as a family and decide where we are going and how we are going to get there.

Some sessions we attend together, some we split up and take good notes. Everyday for lunch we picnic at a nearby park and talk over the things we are hearing.

We never know in advance just what speaker it will be that bring tears to our eyes or conviction to our hearts. But every year we come away blessed and thankful that we invested the time in our family.

I wonder what God will have in store for us this year?