Friday, June 26, 2009

My All-Star

With the craziness that April and May brought, I didn't get to post much about baseball, or anything else for that matter. I keep thinking I will get it all caught up, but that isn't working out so well.

That didn't stop the baseball machine from going forward, though. We were on the ballfield all the time, because if Kyle wasn't playing then Todd was. And many times they were playing at the same time, which is more manageable if they are playing in the same town.

And they played hard. Baseball is Kyle's big passion. With three ballplayers, we will be spending every spring living part time at a ballfield somewhere, and that is okay with us.

Kyle was accepted on the All-Star team again this year. For the last couple of weeks he has been practicing for 12-15 hours a week; batting, catching, pitching, outfielding, infielding, running, sliding.. essentially living and breathing ball. Yesterday they suited up for their team pictures.

Next week he and this fine looking group of boys will be traveling to Bentonville to compete in the All-Star tournament. They are excited, nervous, and ready to play. If they win there, they will be moving on to compete in state. Either way, it is going to be awesome. Good luck, guys!

Free Paint

I love free. I am always keeping my eye out for free events and activities the kids can do, and most of our family outings are to things that don't cost anything.

I also love paint. I am always browsing the mismatched paints at the stores, and have found all the colors I wanted to repaint the house.

Right now Glidden is giving away free quarts of paint. Just click here and pick a color and they will send it to you. I just picked a lovely shade of green that I am going to junque up a cabinet with. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

It has been a quiet day. After church I made fluffy pancakes with homemade blackberry syrup, then we all hung around together and watched movies. Later in the afternoon, Jack, Matt, and the girls took Kyle to baseball practice. When they got home, I rounded Jack and the kids up for an impromptu picture... messy heads, dirty baseball shirts, holey-kneed jeans and all.

Seeing seven of my favorite people in the world together brings to mind many of the reasons I love watching Jack in action as a dad. With nearly eighteen years under our belts, there are so many daddy moments I can look back on and smile about.

- Watching him feed a smiley baby Matt as he played with him.

- His rocking Jessica to sleep every night when she was little and didn't want to go to bed.

- Deciding to name our baby, if it was a boy, "Chet" when I asked him if he wanted some clam chowder.

- Him teaching our babies to walk and giving them all special nicknames.

- Seeing him get down on his knees as he came home from work while the kids flung themselves into his arms.

- Watching him work with the kids in their different sports.

- Remembering him sitting by my bedside for nearly 12 hours with a newborn Beth as I faded in and out of consciousness trying to recover from her delivery.

-Watching him continue to rock Beth to sleep every night for the next two years because she was the last baby.

Those, of course, are just the tip of the iceburg. Jack is, and always has been, a very involved dad. There have been lots of happy moments, lots of emotionally difficult moments, lots of mistakes, and lots of rewards.

And there have been lots and lots of funny moments. Times where he teases one of the kids and they all end up squealing and giggling. Times where he does things like this....

just because it makes Matt do things like this. And then we all end up laughing hysterically...

and things like messy heads and holey jeans don't matter at all because we are a family where he is the dad and we are all together, and while life isn't perfect by any means, it is good.

Happy Father's Day, Jack. We love you very much.

Teach a kid to fish...

and they will ask to go every weekend!

Last weekend was the Berryville Ice Cream Social, and one of the annual events is the fishing tournament at George's Pond. We got up early to meet some friends there and get the kids' fishing spots staked out before the crowds arrived. We were greeted by a swan who spent most of the day perched on the log on the island in the middle of the pond.

This tournament is just for kids, and the city makes sure the pond is well stocked with catfish and bass just for these events. Our friend John and his family were all there, and they brought poles for our kids to use.
I had to be at work at 9 that morning, but I did get to see everybody get all set up and ready for the tournament to begin before I had to leave.

Then I headed off to work and left my camera with Jack. He ended up putting it in the truck for most of the time, but he was really good about making sure he took some photos while I was gone.

Beth loved playing with the worms before they were strapped to a hook and tossed into the water, but she wanted nothing to do with actually touching the fish as they were reeled in.

The turtles in the pond were enjoying the tournament. It is a good day when food is flung right to you if you are a turtle. Or a hungry boy. This turtle came pretty close to the shore, but he and his fellow reptiles spent the morning eagerly eating the worms off the hooks.

After everybody had caught at least one fish, Jack lined them up for a picture.

There were all sorts of prizes given out. Kyle won this tackle box in a drawing. Now we just have to get him set up with a pole. Beth can provide the worms.

I did get off and get back in time to see some of the final fishing moments. I got a kick out of watching Chet fishing barefooted. Here he is reeling his catch in and getting it on the ground.

Todd preferred to sit as he waited for a bite. He got this one to the shore line, and then John helped him get it on the ground and off the hook.

Beth was perfectly content sitting in her daddy's lap and letting him catch fish after the tournament. Of the five kids there that day (Matt was on a mission trip to Texas), she is the only one not thrilled with the whole process of fishing.

This was the funniest moment, though. Faith caught her final fish, and with her stance and struggle to bring it in you would have thought it weighed twenty pounds or so. She loved fishing. My gramma would have loved that about her.

He was her biggest one of the day, which meant he was added to the rest of the day's fishy harvest. We are going to John's in the next couple of weeks to have a fish fry. Well, the kids and Jack will eat fish. I am bringing onion straws, because this isn't the kind of face I look at and think "mmm... you look good enough to eat!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


There is a thunderstorm out there tonight. There have been tornado warnings, severe weather warnings, and some mighty lightning shows. The kids have discovered that the blackout curtains I hung in our bedroom for Jack keep out all light, including lightning. So as I was up here editing photos, I slowly found myself surrounded by my five youngest. They dropped off to sleep one by one, filling every inch of my bed with their quickly-sprouting limbs, leaving me a small corner on Jack's side of the bed where Kyle curled around my legs as Beth tucked herself into my side.

I just want to savor this moment. Don't anybody remind me how all too soon they grow out of doing things like this. Especially those nearly-teenagers who let me know they aren't there because the thundering storm bothers them; they are just there to help keep the 3 sleeping little ones calm. As you can see, they are doing a good job keeping the little ones calm.

I am going to just sit here and smile at all of them until Jack gets home. Goodnight.

Frog World

"Mom, get your camera!! We built a Frog World!"
This was how Kyle summoned me outside Sunday afternoon. The torrential rain has finally repented enough that the kids get to play outside regularly again, and as you may recall, there isn't much in this world that Beth loves as much as trying to relocate frogs from the outside to the inside. She roped her two brothers into giving her their toy bucket and helping her build a home for the three baby frogs she caught that morning. (Their names are Rosie, GiGi, and Theo if you are wondering.)
Other than the fact that they really don't have a foodsource (some details aren't that important), they appear to have it made in their Frog World. (I am not randomly capitalizing. I was informed that this is indeed officially named Frog World.) With a dirt field on one side and a mini pond that is dammed with a piece of scrapwood propped on a stick and a little patch of plucked grass, what amphibian wouldn't want to live here??

Apparently Rosie doesn't. And unfortunately for her, she is smaller than a nickel and hasn't quite developed the hopping prowess she will need to get herself out of Frog World.Yet.

That evening Crystal (married to Nathan) called and asked me to go for a walk with her. She came over, and as we walked down the backroads I found a mud puddle full of tadpoles. The next night I took the kids on a walk with me and knew I needed to show Beth that puddle.

We found lots of other lovelies on that walk. There were wildflowers of all kinds blooming.

We found this awesome old barn we will have to return to for some photos.
We even found wild blackberries and plucked a couple of handfuls of the fully ripe ones.
But nothing was as perfectly perfect as that mud puddle full of tadpoles. Some had already morphed into little frogs and were hopping around the edges. Several of those were quickly scooped up for relocation to Frog World.
I don't really understand the attraction. What makes these things so irresistable to a little girl? I had to firmly tell Beth that she was not allowed to stuff her pockets and my blackberry bowl full of wiggly tadpoles to keep in her bedroom. (They aren't old enough to live in Frog World yet.)
That didn't stop her from trying, though. I have no idea where she gets such a stubborn streak. (I jest... she gets it completely from her father.)
If finding the tadpoles wasn't enough, discovering a close-by mud puddle full of frog eggs nearly on the verge of becoming tadpoles really made her day. She really begged me to let her scoop those out and cart them home. I had to make rule number 576 I never thought I would have to make. If you find eggs you didn't spawn yourself, you are not allowed to bring them home to live in your bedroom. Period.
Sometimes I worry that Beth is going to kiss a lot of boys to see if they turn into frogs.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sun-Dried Worms on a Sunday

We have had an over-abundant supply of rain this spring. For every inch of rain we get, our grass seems to grow a foot. As you can see, it is now taller than Todd, so we have been trying to work on it during the weekends. In between weekends it rains more, which undoes our efforts. The grass blowing in the wind sounds lovely, but the reality is that it is a playground for snakes and other unwelcome critters. As I saw Todd coming through the grass, I was calling to him to get out of it.

He felt he had contributed enough to our clean-up efforts, and was working his way towards the trampoline since it wasn't yet overrun by the towering grass.

Faith was also taking a break and entertaining herself by spinning on her swing in one of the areas where Jack had gotten quite a bit mowed down.

Beth found an entirely different sort of entertainment. To her utter delight, the wet ground was wielding up and abundant supply of earthworms. She happily collected them all into a 2 liter bottle, and thinking they would get thirsty she covered them in water. We told her that the water was drowning her worms, and then we went back to work. She didn't want her worm friends to drown, so at some point she spread them out on the benches to let them dry out a bit.

Later I stepped outside to talk to my mom on the phone, and Jack and I discovered the bench full of Beth's sun-dried worms. Her heart was in the right place, but her methods didn't work quite the way she planned.

I just want to point out the tube of lipgloss she left with her worms. She really is the girliest tomboy I know. And since I don't know if she decided to share that lipgloss with her wormy friends before she baked them, which is entirely likely in her world, I have decided I don't want to wear it anymore.