Archive for July, 2011

This has been a fun weekend with my younger three kids.  Dan took John and Brock to a Boy Scout Camp in Nebraska, so I had some special times with Luke, Cosette, and Kara.

On Friday evening, we went out to eat and then went bowling.  That bowling summer pass sure has been nice–we’ll be sad when it runs out!  😦 I think they have some special family plans that we’ll have to look into.

The kids like to go out for doughnuts, so we did that on Saturday morning. I had promised the kids that since the older boys were going to get to go to a water park at their camp, I would take them to a water park this weekend too. The one in our hometown is pretty expensive, so we drove to a smaller town nearby that has a pretty nice (and nicely priced!) pool with slides and such.  I think it cost a grand total of $4.50 for the swim, and they all agreed that they had a wonderful time.  (Oh, by the way, I didn’t have to pay to get in since I didn’t swim.  Believe it or not, at our town’s facility, it costs the same whether you swim or not!)

The kids were all pretty tired after their afternoon of swimming, so we spent Saturday evening at home with popcorn and movies.

Of course this morning I took the kids to Sunday School.  This week was our church’s turn to have the nursing home services, so the Pastor had asked me if I could come along to play the piano.  I told him I could if it was all right for the kids to come too.  He had no problem with that.  In fact, Cosette and I also added in a violin duet for the residents that was well received.  I love visiting this particular nursing home.  It is bright and cheery, and there is a wonderful lady from our church that lives there.  She is such a cheerful inspiration!  My own granddad lived there for several years before he went to his eternal home, and they were very good to him there. They have large bird aviaries in the hallways for people to enjoy, so I took the kids to see the pretty birds while we were there.

Dan, John, and Brock haven’t gotten home from their camp yet, but I expect them soon.  It should have been quite a fast, busy weekend. Brock was going to work on his Fishing, Rifle-Shooting, and First Aid merit badges while John was going to work on Environmental Science, Emergency Preparedness, and Nuclear Science. I am sure that they will be full of stories when they get home!

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This year’s county fair was a big hit with the Prairie Family.  We usually only go one evening, but this year it started to rain before we had a chance to see all of the exhibits, so we got to enjoy two nice evenings at the fair!

I had several random thoughts while I was editing the pictures for this post.  First of all, I have noticed that I have been getting significantly fewer pictures of John and Brock.  Yes, the teenage years have hit in full force, and they do everything they can to avoid being in pictures! Every now and then I sneak one in, but it is getting to be rarer and rarer….

Secondly, the kids really enjoyed seeing the animals this year.  They really liked the goats which pleased me a lot since we had goats when I was growing up. Goats really do make nice pets because they are smart and interesting.  Maybe someday we’ll live where we can have some.

The younger three kids gravitated towards the game area this year.  They still love carnival games and picking out prizes.  John and Brock, on the other hand, headed straight for the remote control car racing track that a local church sponsors each year.  They sure do have fun racing those crazy cars.  I looked them up on the internet, and unfortunately it is as I suspected:  getting one of those cars that are any quality at all can cost a pretty penny! I really don’t know much about this other than that the boys like it, but maybe I should do a little research for future reference.

Speaking of future reference, Cosette has mentioned several times that she would like to enter something in the fair next year.  I have explained to her that that would be ok as long as she would not be either proud or bothered by the ribbons she may receive.  I guess it would be good incentive to make some nice, quality things this year in American Heritage Girls.  She has mentioned maybe entering some of her origami.  We’ll have to see how things go, I guess.

One last fair comment:  Dan and I have been considering taking the kids to the State Fair in September.  We have thought about it before, but weren’t convinced that the kids were quite ready for it.  After all, it is quite a long trip across the state, and a lot of walking around the fairgrounds–when it can still be pretty hot.  We both agree, though, that since the kids had such a good time this year at the county fair, we may be ready to give the State Fair a try.

I have one favorite picture from this year’s fair that I am going to do some special editing on and will post it in my next entry.  In the mean time, here is a collage of some of the pictures that I got this year (with very few of John and Brock!)

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2011 County Fair Parade

2011 Fair Parade

This week was our county’s annual fair.  The opening event is the downtown parade.  Ever since Cosette could communicate her desires (LOL!), she has wanted to be in the fair parade.  The boys have all gotten to be in the Christmas parade on BSA floats, but the girls just never got to be on a float, much to their dismay!  Well, this year they finally got their opportunity!  While they were at the library this summer, the head librarian asked them if they would like to be on their float, and, of course, the girls quickly agreed!

On the day of the parade, it was very, very hot on the Prairie, but the girls did not mind a bit!  It took us awhile to find where we were to meet the others on the float, but once we did, the girls took off like crazy and left me in the dust! They got to hold giant “library cards” and do actions to a poem about what the library offers that was playing over a speaker.  By the end of the parade, they were both red-faced and tired, but extremely happy!  A day or two later, they got all excited again when they saw the picture of their float in the newspaper and read in the caption that the library’s float had won a prize in the parade.  It was a perfect ending for a long-anticipated experience!  🙂

The rest of the parade was good.  Dan and I took the boys to watch with my sister-in-law and my two nephews.  Of course, they hauled off a lot of candy despite the fact that the parade organizers changed the rules this year to prohibit throwing candy from the floats. Instead, many entries had people walking along handing out candy to the crowd, and that worked just fine–and was probably safer than having the kids all scramble in the street to grab the sweetness!

We had a lot of fun at the fair this week.  I will post more about the actual fair in my next entry.

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This past week, the Prairie Family had the blessing of babysitting two special sets of kids.  On Monday, we took care of two precious girls that go to our church, and on Friday, we had my two sweet nephews join us for the day.  We had a lot of fun both days, but I will tell you this: having seven kids around sure does make for a full, busy house!  🙂

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Well, praise God!  I mentioned in my last post that we were getting ready to help with the kids portion of a Village Missions conference and that I was sure that God would provide for us even though it was supposed to be over 100 degrees and we were supposed to be outside. Shortly after I finished that post, I heard back from the director of the conference, and was told that we had access to a couple of rooms at the conference center so we wouldn’t have to suffer in the heat.  What a blessing that was! The rooms were actually kind of cold–which was wonderful when the kids came inside from playing games!

The first day of the conference was a bit of a challenge.  I don’t know what it is, but it seems like it is always easy to be discouraged after the first day of an event like this.  Maybe it’s the kids getting used to us and us getting used to them, I don’t know.  But I sure have noticed that over the past few years.  The first day seems to be discouraging, and then it picks up and it is almost sad when it is over!  🙂  Such was the case this week.

We had 33 kids under 12 years of age, and about 15 teenagers.  It was a handful in our little rooms, but I was thankful that the teens were so helpful today.  They jumped right in there and were a real blessing to our ministry.  And I was pleased with the Prairie Family kids as well.  They ministered with thankful, joyful hearts, and that was neat.  My main goal for the summer was to encourage the kids to minister to others, and I think God has been showing them the joy that serving Him brings.

We did all of the usual Prairie Family kid ministry activities–puppets, singing, Bible stories, games, crafts, water rockets, etc.  We used the same lava lamp craft that we had used at the Cub Scout Day Camp earlier this summer, and that was a hit.  Kids just love those silly things.  The oohs and aahs that result when the lamps are finished are worth all of the mess and trouble.  I wanted to capture that, and actually remembered to get a video of one of the classes today as they saw their bottles work for the first time.  Note all of the excited kid sounds in the background:

So we praise God for His work at this conference and are thankful that He guided every step.  This was our last major event for the summer, so now it is time to start focusing on getting ready to start school again.

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This entry is going to be a bunch of smaller topics combined into one, thus the title “Summer Snippets.”

First of all, can you believe how fast the summer is going by?  I looked at the calendar this morning only to notice that our goal for starting school is only 3 weeks away.  Wow! I have a lot to get organized and prepared in that time frame!

Second topic:  this entry’s picture. This picture is of the 2011 Reader’s Theater performance that was held this last week.  This was Brock’s second year of participation, and he really loves it.  This year they did several folk tales from around the world.  Brock got several neat parts simply because his voice has deepened so much over the past year.  His “mature” voice came in handy for several characters!  Next year, Cosette will be able to participate, and she can’t wait.

Jumping to my next topic, American Heritage Girls has been very interesting lately!  I have made several great contacts during the past few weeks, and it looks like we will have a great year.  I have made contact with another homeschooling family from our state that lives in a nearby town and has an AHG Trailblazer that is the same age as Cosette.  I have also been in touch with a new troop that is about 80 miles away from us.  The coordinator of that troop is very interested in having our family and other area Trailblazers join in on some of their special activities.  I think this is going to be a good working relationship that will be mutually supportive.  We love the opportunity to meet with other girls, and the leaders of the troop are new not only to AHG, but to scouting in general.  So, we can provide some help in that area.  I have even gotten in touch with troop leaders throughout my state and the next state over, and even though there are many hours of travel between us, they are still open to including us in their activities. They are really hoping to have a regional camp next summer, so that would be really cool.  Another great idea that has been tossed around is having a Rope Runner Derby.  This would be a new project for us, but it would be fun to learn! I have also been discussing with Dan ways that our girls and the girls from the nearby troop might be able to participate in some of our Cub Scout activities throughout the year.

The coordinator of the nearby troop has talked with me about promoting AHG troop and Trailblazer growth in our area, and I think that is a wonderful idea. We are in the very beginning stages of figuring out the details of that, but I do believe that God is opening doors in that area.  So, we are praying for wisdom and direction for that.

Last “Snippet” for this entry:  this week is going to be interesting.  It will be good, I am sure, but busy.  Tomorrow we are going to baby-sit a 4-year-old and her baby sister for the day.  I have been out of the baby business for awhile, but I think it will be all right.  The baby doesn’t know me very well, but she adores Cosette and Kara, so I am hopeful that she’ll warm up to us pretty quickly.  Tuesday and Wednesday are the days that the Prairie Family is helping with the kids portion of a pastoral conference that is being held in a nearby Christian conference center.  We have had fun preparing, and I am sure that we will have a good, productive time.  My only concern is that we are scheduled to hold our sessions in the park, and the weather forecast predicts over 100 degree temperatures all week.  I have emailed some of the people in charge about a back-up plan if it is just too hot in the park, but haven’t heard anything back yet.  Regardless, I know God will provide for us–either a different location, strength in the park, or something that will get us through.  After this conference is over, I will definitely need to switch gears to school preparation. The summer has gone by so quickly, but I am ready to get back into school routine!

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The Prairie Family has driven the same 1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager Mini-Van since Brock was a baby.  It has been a great, reliable vehicle, but recently Dan has been considering getting a different vehicle because of its age and mileage.  John is our internet researcher, so Dan got him busy looking up vehicles that might fit our large family, and what a good price range might be.  He stumbled across a 2008 Toyota Sienna with only 18,000 miles on it for a very good price in a nearby town.  In fact, it was at the same dealership where we had bought our Plymouth Grand Voyager many years ago.  So, yesterday, Dan decided to take us to check it out, and after thought and prayer, we decided to bring it home.  So, there is a “new-to-us” Prairie Family Mobile that will soon be driving all over the place!  🙂

What about our old van?  Well, we had already decided that we would probably keep it unless they offered us a tremendous deal on it.  After all, it has been a good, reliable vehicle, and soon our kids will be driving.  I didn’t realize how attached I was to that silly old van until they started talking about trading it, though!  I was thinking, “No way!  That is OUR van!  We LOVE that van! Everyone knows that it is the Prairie Family van!”  I was a little worried that Dan might change his mind, but he felt like I did, and we are happy to say that we kept it.  I know it wouldn’t have been two days before we would’ve regretted it if we had traded it.  It is definitely worth more to us than they were offering us for it anyway.

So, now we have a good, reliable, practical vehicle that may or may not last for several more years, but we also have a very good family van that should serve us well as long as we need it.  Dan made the comment that by the time we are ready to get a different Prairie Family Vehicle (i.e. not one for the kids), we will very likely not need such a large vehicle.  Yep, the empty nest is getting closer every day!

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A Beautiful Evening on the Prairie

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Wow, we had a wonderful Fourth of July!  The weather was perfect and the day was fun–what more can you ask for??

The kids had a big water fight in the back yard to start off their holiday on July 3.  By the time they were done, they were all completely soaked and happy!

The girls did some July 4 crafts in the afternoon while I made the Prairie Family’s Fireworks-Watching-Traditional-Treat of “Pillow Cookies.”  (i.e. big chocolate chip cookies with brownies in the middle)  Later, my parents and my brother’s family joined us for grilled hamburgers for supper.

After supper, we took the kids to a nearby park where we launched some of our Estes model rockets.  We had made these rockets earlier this summer to use at the Cub Scout Day Camp, but we didn’t end up needing them all, so for most of these rockets, it was their maiden voyage!  The kids all had fun launching and retrieving the rockets, and they all agreed that they were as much fun as shooting off our own fireworks.  (Besides, these are much safer and can be used again!)

We went to our town’s fireworks display after dark, and it was nice.  We learned several years ago that the best place to view the fireworks is from the grounds of the office where Dan works.  So, it has become our tradition to go out there, eat cookies, drink pop, enjoy fellowship, and watch the display.

This truly was a great holiday, and I am thankful that God gave us such a special time!

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