Sunday, May 31, 2009

may news

it seems that the cold grey days of winter have finally given way to warm sunny weather; winter did not want to let go this spring! the warm winds of may have also blown in some changes to our family... so much has been going on, life changing things, that i thought i would give an update.

*we have sold our house ...the house we built 9 years ago, the house i never thought i'd leave! but we are moving on to a new frontier just 2 miles down the road. we bought 60 acres of beautiful land, some of it wooded with a pretty little creek, and some farm land planted in corn and hay. it will be a lovely homestead after a crazy year of moving and building! we will be closing in a few weeks and moving to a rental house while our new house goes up. and i have seen God's hand in all of these details, from bringing the buyer in just the perfect timing (they flew from canada just to put an offer in on our house when they saw online that we had lowered the price) to providing a place for us to live through some special friends of ours...we will enjoy living as neighbors for the next several months and B is thrilled to be moving so close to her BFF!

*my dad has moved back from arizona! it has been so nice to have him with us. the kids have missed him the past few years while he was away. he made the long drive along with his brother ron. thankfully he was not alone when his jeep broke down outside of des moines. and i know it was God's hand that sent the two kind men to provide rides from the side of the road and then back and forth from the motel to the repair shop, strangers (angels?) doing His biding.

*after 4 years apart, mom and dad are talking. perhaps God is doing a healing work in their relationship. what once seemed impossible now seems possible! we continue to pray for God's will in their lives.

*what a blessing it has been to spend time with my uncle ron this past week. most of my life he has lived in arizona while we were in the midwest, so our contact has been very little. i enjoyed visiting with him. it was so good to remember my grandparents and share memories with him. God's hand was present as we strengthened our family ties.

*school is out and i have two straight A honor roll students! :o) C worked hard all year to reach his straight A goal after missing the award by one B last year! i am also really proud of S since this was his first year in a traditional classroom. he has always been homeschooled. B had a wonderful year of school at home. i really loved all the one-on-one time we had together. i think she made great progress in all of her subjects. it was a joy to see the way all three of them worked at their studies. Truly this great school year has been an answer to prayer, especially after such a rough time last year for C.

*S had a great time at his soccer tournaments this may. i am so thankful for young, healthy, and growing bodies. during one of the tournaments we got to stay with my cousins leslie and randy. it was real treat to visit with them. i am very blessed by my family!

*my boy scouts have advanced in rank! C is now a star scout and S is first class. i am so proud of all they have achieved in boy scouts. it is such a joy to watch my boys as they strive to "grow in wisdom, and stature, and favor with God and man." Praise God for His grace in my parenting...i feel so inadequate for the task at times, but i feel His presence and grace as He blesses my children ... sometimes inspite of me!

everyday gift: God's incredible presence in my life...such amazing grace!

Friday, May 29, 2009

acadian flycatcher

as dad had coffee by the patio door yesterday morning, a little bird flew into the window. he scooped up the dazed bird and held him for us to study. soon he perked up and perched on his finger, seemly unafraid of the humans surrounding him. although the picture may not show it, he was very olive green; two bars on the wing; underneath was slightly buff with a white throat. the beak was black and heavy looking for its size. after reading through our field guides and studying the many small olive colored birds, we believe it was an acadian flycatcher.

after a short visit, he recovered from his bump on the head, and flew away.

acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)

dad with our little friend.
everyday gift: an unexpected visitor

nestled in

as i peeked into this nest, i found 4 baby robins napping...oops, one woke up and looked up at me, too naive to be afraid. B gently held the branches aside so i could snap this picture. sadly, the nest i photographed earlier this spring was abandoned when the newly hatched chicks disappeared. i suspect a raccoon found the nest built too near the ground. but this nest is a bit more secure in a pine tree. i find this image so comforting and peaceful. what is mother bird's secret to having 4 siblings share a room without conflict?!

everyday gift: baby robins snug in their nest

Thursday, May 28, 2009

memorial day thoughts

this memorial day was special this year as we spent it with my dad and his brother, both veterans. we attended the ceremony at the Rock Island Arsenal to honor all the men and women who have served our country, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. where would our country be without them? certainly not enjoying the freedoms, prosperity, and abundance that we have now.


my dad served in navy from 1961 to 1969 on the nuclear submarines U.S.S. Trigger and the U.S.S. Simone Boulevard. the kids enjoyed hearing his stories of crossing under the arctic circle and observing the soviet navy while maintaining complete silence on board for days to avoid being detected.


uncle ron joined the marine corps. fresh out of high school in 1963. he served for 4 years; 13 months of that time spent in vietnam. his patrol was one of the first to deploy into actual combat. he shared some stories of his time there; a difficult time which stays with him even forty years later. he is still saddened by the loss of his high school friend who enlisted with him. i am thankful for his service and glad that we can give him the honor that is due him, even if he did not receive it from his country at the time.

dad and uncle ron at the memorial day ceremony at the rock island arsenal and national cemetery

flag at half mast on an overcast day

the national cemetary

the kids visiting the grave site of their grandma at arsenal island. mark's dad served in the army and is therefore given the privilege of burying his wife here.

everyday gift: our brave service men and women who are keeping our country safe

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


watch out! the girl's got spurs!

everyday gift: my cowgirl

Thursday, May 14, 2009

shooting stars

aren't these sweet little wild flowers? they are called shooting star or dodecatheon meadia. at the time of the settlers they were much more abundant. they called the flower "prairie pointers".

today, it is often cultivated for the here.

everyday gift: bringing wildflowers into the garden

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


about half way down the road between our present home and future homestead site is a hill which is shaded by trees on both sides. there is a steep bank along one side and hidden away between the roots of the trees is a fox den, surprisingly close to the road. i suppose most cars zip on by without taking notice, the nearest house is set back far from the road, and rarely does anyone scale the side of that hill, making it a safe, albeit exposed, location for a den. mark has noticed that a little after 8 o'clock each night, just before dusk, the fox pups poke their noses out of the den and play along the ridge of the hill.

as we came home from a scout meeting last night, mark took us to the place in hopes of spotting them. i had my camera ready. window down. up over the hill...and there! two little orange pups, ears perked up, watching us watching them. oh, are they cute. but, sadly, i choked on the picture taking. they were only there for a few seconds before they bounded into the den and out of sight.

i had another sighting yesterday. i thought i heard an unusual and melodious bird song yesterday afternoon. i watched the trees until i saw it flit from one tree to another. the brilliant orange and black of the baltimore oriole. so, like every spring, i cut a few oranges and put them out on the deck. the ants seem to enjoy them, but so far, the orioles won't come near. this is the best picture i could get from a distance:

(it is no wonder that i didn't get the job at animal planet as a wildlife photographer. )

everyday gift: fox pups and orioles

Monday, May 11, 2009

mother's day blessings

i have to confess. the last few months have been really hard on me. we have been so busy with all of the usual spring activities, plus the added stress of putting our house on the market and trying to keep it in a presentable condition. besides all of that, mark has been busy with additional projects at our new farm. in a nutshell, i have been maxed out. and i haven't always handled it that well. i have been impatient with the kids and mark. i have grumbled. i have even yelled...i know, hard to imagine, isn't it? ;o)

so this mother's day, i want to say that i am humbled and honored by the love that my family shows me, inspite of my shortcomings. such unconditional love reminds me WHY i am doing all that i do. i am so blessed with this family of mine. let me share a few highlights...

*sleepy-eyed girl with bed tousled hair finding me the moment she awoke to give me a hug and "happy mother's day" *the smell of a fresh bouquet of lilacs decorating the table *a hand painted "i love you" heart dish made in secret *B asking me to write out the "recipe" for baked potatoes *sitting on the couch while the kids bustle in the kitchen to cook my special dinner *an incredible fruit salad of strawberries, blueberries, mango, kiwi, watermelon, and banana! *new (much needed) garden tools *having 3 generations of mothers and daughters together! *a sunny afternoon at the art fair *a beautiful new piece of artwork, chosen with a future home in mind *chocolate strawberry shortcake for dessert *a sweet "top-secret" note of gratitude for all that i do *a bicker-free afternoon :o) *mark commenting after the dinner was planned, shopped for, prepared, eaten, and cleaned up after, "man, that's a lot of work!" (umm, right. i am aware of that, hon.)

mom with her gran'kids on mother's day

everyday gift: the privilege of being a mom

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

an acorn mystery

a while ago, we started having trouble with the blower on our heat/ac in my van. when you turned it past the medium speed it made this horrible clunking and grinding sound. so our remedy for the problem...don't it turn it up past medium, of course!

well, one day there was a terrible clunk, and then, voila! fixed! we thought.

recently, the noise came back and now, we don't get any air out of the vents at all. so with the prospect of a family road trip in the near future, mark decided we needed a new blower motor and took the van in. the shop called. we don't need a new motor, all we need to do is remove the 100 acorns that are stuffed in the blower! acorns?! it seems some critter thought that space inside our engine was a good pantry.

now here is the mystery? whodunnit??? the logical explanation is a mouse in the garage. the problem with that is we have no oak trees anywhere near the house. it seems unlikely that a mouse would trek across five acres to deposit 100 acorns in our vehicle!

mark thinks it is the thirteen lined ground squirrel that we are always taking pictures of and watching pop in and out of his little holes. mark is ready to eliminate the little villain. but i maintain that he is innocent until proven guilty. besides, they store their stash in their tunnels and hibernate all winter. and again, we have no oak trees!

i have another theory. in august of 2007 we took a camping trip to yellowstone. if i remember correctly, the first clunking noises occurred on our way home. i remember thinking, "what if we break down in the middle of nowhere!" i think our culprit is a yellowstone chipmunk!

in case anyone is wondering. acorn removal costs about $76.22.

Monday, May 4, 2009

rainbow colors of spring

the trillium with its brownish red bloom

the rain cleared out after a down pour in the early hours of the morning. as the sun came out through the clouds, i couldn't resist taking a little garden walk. the silvery drops on the bleeding heart were beautiful. unfortunately, my picture does not do it justice.

red rhubarb. look at how interesting the leaf is as it pushes up through the middle, before unfolding!

the orange of the lichen stands out against the contrasting green.

i love how delicate these little yellow violets are. so sweet!

we have got a fine crop of dandelions this year! ;o)

this pretty fern-like foliage belongs to dutchman's breeches.

bloodroot...this was blooming with a pretty little white tulip-shaped flower the week before, but i did not have my camera on that hike. i like the interesting shape of the leaf.

virginia bluebells

batik dwarf iris

blue violets...i know they are called blue, but to me, they are purple!

everyday gift: the colors of the rainbow in the garden