Wednesday, September 28, 2011

my messy life

When people say, "my life's a mess" they usually don't mean that they are constantly picking up messes in their home. Well, that's what I mean when I say that my life is one big mess...after another....and another...and another....and another...and another.....

This was a lil mess left by a peanut loving, football watching daddy....

When not making messes, they are.....

How much do I love this pup (who's not so much a pup at 12 years old....),
let me count the ways.....

Since harvest has been in full swing, I have also been busy harvesting, cooking, freezing and canning....

This was a HUGE gourd -- and I'm not sure this picture emphasizes how big the gourd is, or how big these two have grown this summer....

It was very difficult for Soren to pick. It took him a while to get it off.

Our first lil punkin.

I canned 14 jars of yellow and red tomatoes.

Our very first fruit from our orchard!! And oooohhhh were they yummy.

My girl's first professional haircut...her school pics are this week....

Which reminds me of another first haircut from Nana this past summer...not so professional...but still darn cute!

There goes the baby mullet....

Bye bye white trash mullet boy, hello handsome!!!!

This picture captures a bit of a glimpse into my world: the CONSTANT love and playfulness a big sis has with her lil bros and one of the four joyful faces I have the privilege of seeing every day -- completely blurring out the messes in the background.

Ok, enough "me time"...I'm off to clean up another mess........

Thursday, September 1, 2011

firsts and last

It is proven again and again... "time flies when you're having fun." My last post was the first post of the summer -- and this will be my second...and last post of the summer. And that is just how fast my summer flew by. And there will never be enough words to describe how much fun I had this summer. I will try to at least give you an idea of what went down...but there is no possible way it will give you any idea how much dang fun I had.

Soon after my last post, I drove to my parents' home in Hilton Head, SC. A few days after arriving, my two older kiddos and I boarded a plane to Brussels. Yes, Brussels. As in Belgium. We spent a day casually touring that beautiful city with my parents and some of my siblings, and the next day Mr. Incredible and a few others from my family joined us and we boarded our barge. Yep. A barge. A pretty fancy barge, but a barge. That barge took us through the countryside of the Netherlands for 7 days -- but we mostly rode bikes. Yup. Bikes. All 20 (yes, 20) of us rode bikes through the ~ G O R G E O U S ~ European countryside. Mostly the Netherlands/Holland, but some of Belgium and we ended in Amsterdam. It was absolutely as incredible a trip as you think it was...but probably even better. My parents planned and organized the entire trip with all of their five children and 16 grandchildren. However, one sister and her family didn't come and my boys and one nephew didn't come because they were too young to appreciate it.

Here are some pics:

our barge -- "The Iris"

Anna Clara pedaled behind her daddy with a big smile on her face the entire 163 miles (well...there were a few whiny moments when it rained and the dirt and water from the tire splattered onto her face - but a little candy from her Big Pa and all was well.). I was in awe of her. My girl grew up so much this summer.

Our barge moved ahead to our evening docking.

We were all in awe of the absolutely pristine landscaping EVERYWHERE. My farm boy had serious yard envy. The yards were small and perfectly immaculate. ALL of them.

We toured a wind mill and learned all sorts of interesting things about them.

We had a picnic lunch every day. The weather could not have been better. It was not too hot and not too cold, but more cool than hot (thank heavens! I'm not a fan of heat!). It rained only two days the entire bike trip!! And even then it didn't rain very long.

I saw this sign and ordered all the men to get under it. Who could pass it up?

These two were so dang good the entire trip I was truly amazed at them. Not one single complaint on one single day about being too tired to ride, or sick of riding, or tired of being dragged around everywhere in Europe.... My parents and I could not stop remarking at how good they were.

We rode by some beaches and stopped for a bit. My boy and his cousin checked out some shells.

The three girl cousins in their pjs.

Our chef making an announcement. Man, that man knows how to cook! The meals were deeeeLISH!!!!

We arrived in our final city - Amsterdam.

My boy riding through the streets of Amsterdam.

The sign behind us -- that is way too small to read -- says, "Perfect Group". And we were...if we do say so ourselves....

The barges in their final docking...or the beginning of a new journey for a new crew....

It was SOOOO SAD to say goodbye to the Iris...and our daily bike trips. *sigh* I hate goodbyes.

Then it was off to some museums...and hangin' out.

My mom bought the younger grandchildren matching clothes...just cuz they're so dang cute.

Our guide on the trip said she wanted to be our guide because she was looking forward to being with an entire family of 3 generations. The ages ranged from 5 years old to 76. There were two 5 year olds and they were the only ones who didn't ride their own bike -- they rode tandem. The 7 and 9 year olds were INCREDIBLE troopers and rode almost the entire 163 miles. We rode an average of 20 miles per day. The route was entirely flat, so they were easy rides, but for little legs, that's a lot!! We had picnics in the countryside every day and divine food prepared by our chef every morning and night. Now does that sound heavenly or what?? Well, it was. My mom knows how to plan a trip like nobody's business.

Oh yes, and I can't forget our four days in Normandy. My dad is a WWII buff...well, actually he is a history buff with a hard-core passion for our amazing country. There are few people more proud of our country - and the men who have fought for our freedom - than my dad. And he has passed that on to his chilluns...and wants to pass it on to his grandchilluns (I know I will certainly do my best with my brood!). There are few places in the world that can instill as deeply moving an experience as Normandy and seeing first-hand what occurred on D-Day. Unfortunately, not enough people understand the magnitude of what happened on that day. If you don't know, you better at least try to learn. Here are some pics from our time in France:

I did a lot of knitting on this trip -- it felt so good to have time to do it!! Here we are on the train to Paris from Amsterdam.

Ahhh...Pareeeeee.... C'est magnifique!!

Eating dinner on the Champs Elysée. (But of COURSE!)

Such a great picture of my bro, I just had to include it. He is one good guy.

We had perfect weather our entire bike trip and not so great weather while we toured Normandy. But that sure didn't stop us!!

Those are holes left from bombs.

The cliffs the American Rangers had to climb while the Germans shot at them.

They then reached this barbed wire at the top of the cliffs. Many made it through...can you believe that? But most didn't.

Inside a German bunker. That's my girl still being so good.

You can't go to Normandy without visiting the American cemetery. It is breathtaking.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. After 13 days away, we flew back to Hilton Head and I was reunited with my boys. I missed them so much! But they sure didn't miss me...they didn't even recognize me when I returned. Ah much for those sleepless nights of nursing - "bonding" - for 11 months...thank you very much...... Motherhood is truly a thankless job. *sigh*

HOWEVER...they made up for it the rest of the summer because they are so much dang fun to be around they should be illegal. Seriously. I almost don't like admitting that because I know I should complain about how much work they are (which.......they are...), but man, they fill every day with so much joy, I had no idea anyone could have so much fun being around two 1 year olds.

But yes, I am as busy as everyone thinks I am when they see me with four kiddos (and who NEVER FAIL to comment on how busy I must be...and that I've "got my hands full".....). Which is why this is only my second...and last... post this summer. It has definitely been busy. Like, reeeeally busy. But did I mention how much fun I had? it is Labor Day weekend and the official (in my eyes) end of summer...even though two of my kiddos have already had their first day of school. 2nd grade and kindergarten. Yes, time sure flies when you're having fun. And I've been having one heckuva lotta fun.

My second grader!!

My kindergartner!!