Saturday, January 29, 2011

Going to the Zoo...

We've been talking about going to the zoo for several weeks now (if not months) as it was recommended by Marion's brother Marvin to go during the 'off' season!  With that in mind, Marion put it on his list to get to the zoo this winter sometime!  However, finding a day when it is nice enough to go but yet not have a long list of things to get done is rather hard at times.  Nevertheless, we managed to get a good day in this last Saturday before the frigid sub-zero weather hit!  So here are the pics and a few fun stories from our Zoo trip:

Our arriving picture...first stop...the LIONS!
 PS...we went to the Zoo/Museum in Salina...Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure...it was very nice!

Mr. Lion taking it easy.
As we were leaving the lions decided to put on a show and were really roaring...scared the kids to death!  lol

First spotted Kangaroo!

Marion thought for SURE kangaroos were bigger then this....hehehe!

GIRAFFES!  Wow...are they tall!

checking out the rhinos from a distance

back to the giraffes as they came closer

oh...here's a bigger kangaroo..still small in Marion's mind!

the kids with an elephant...lol...or a statue of one....
we thought about having Ethan ride on it...but changed our minds...lol

Here is Mr. E...enjoying the sun and the ride!
(notice his shirt...it has a lion, giraffe and bear I think! Perfect zoo attire.)

NOW THIS is a RHINO...OMGoodness...we could NOT believe how HUGE these guys were!

The picture just does not do it justice....they are HUGE!

monkey thing....oh shoot...what was it called....a Lemur????

Happy Boy...he really LOVED the zoo!

The kids said this was their favorite animal....who woulda thunk!

I tried to catch a picture of his tongue...it was MASSIVE...have you ever seen their tongues?

Mr. Orangutan peering out from beneath his blanky.

Chimpanzee...I kept it nice...no female pictures!

I can't remember what this guy was called...a Mandrill or something...VERY colorful!

Okay...now these next pictures have a story behind them so I have got to take a break and share!  As we were walking around we got to the CAT section...we saw the snow leopard and started walking over to see what was next...the kids ran ahead of us and into the observation area...as soon as this COUGAR/mountain lion/whatever you want to call it saw the kids...BOUNDED for the glass...stopping just short of smacking itself right into it!  Then it began pacing the the observation area staring directly at the kids...especially ETHAN!  At one point...the picture of him really close up...he was chewing on the wood trying to get through!  And notice...the only thing between us was a metal frame and what appeared to be 2x4 planks...there were even holes between the planks and frame that Jonny could have gotten a finger through!  SCARY!  Anyway...at one point...Jonny lost interest and decided to chase leaves blowing in the wind and as he went running after a leaf...this COUGAR made a MAD dash after him!  Seriously...the only thing that stopped this cat was the fence which I think he would have tried to climb!  His 'prey' running was just too much to resist!

After that...we high tailed it out of there!

pacing

My camera is directly above Ethan's head...I wish I would have thought of putting it right behind E so you could see...How scary is that!

VERY interested in Jonny!

A side shot of how BIG he was!

In the corner of the cage...watching Jonny...whom at this time we had STOPPED from running...
Ummm...that is quite a TRUE sign!

Here are the tigers...they weren't nearly as interested in the kids.

Can you see this next one...look hard?!

Even without the trees...its hard to see him...right in the corner..only 50 of these leopards left in the wild.

flamingos...the kids loved these!  "mom...where is his other leg?"

But I think they were getting cold...they were bunkered down and shivering!

For some reason...Abi really wanted to see the wolves...she said 'that would be SO scary to be in a covered wagon next to them' referring to the Little House on the Prairie books Daddy has read her!
 After the zoo, we went into the museum for a little bit...my cell phone battery was dying so I only got a few shots:

they had real animal sounds to go with many of the displays...very nice

I thought this was kinda cool how it was all black and then lit...just artsy...lol

This was MY favorite display...very close...very real...and fun!
Overall, we had a great trip...the kids were exhausted and got lots of good fresh air and exercise.  Though we won't easily forget the cougar experience and I will probably be more diligent at keeping them closer to home, we had alot of fun.

This guy wanted 2 eat our children today

You have GOT to check out this site....

...if you have kids that is...lol!

http://www.familydaysoutusa.com/

Marion and I have been looking for a long time for a site or SOMETHING that would help us find activities to do with the kids...activities we could do within a certain mile range or time limit...or even on a longer trip!  Anyway, today I stumbled upon this site...I WAS AMAZED!

I'm sure it doesn't have EVERYTHING (some of those larger cities have to have more to do) but it was still the start to a great source!  AND...on the home page, you can customize your search so that it fits ages or seasons (indoors or out). AND you can search by zip code or town so if you are visiting some place you can find out what is going on in that area!

Maybe others of you already have ways of finding activities to do with your kids...and I'd love to hear how you do it...please leave a comment sharing that with me...for us..this is probably one of our main go to sites from now on!

Cheers!

:0)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

SUCH a great Idea!

My cousin Elizabeth came to visit us today! 

What an AMAZING day we had too!  She is going to school in Kearney and though she’s been there all year…this was the FIRST time we’d gotten together!  (um…why did we wait so long…lol)  Anyway, we had a GREAT day visiting and sharing and ‘awing’ over how GOD is amazing and how we have strange parallels in our lives!  (we are of course very different but God is amazing at drawing people together in times when they can reach out to each other and love on each other!)

ANYWAY…as Abi was doing her MATH lessons, I was telling Elizabeth that she often gets overwhelmed with all the math facts that are set before her and though she knows them right off in the flash cards she freezes.  I asked Elizabeth (who is working at an elementary school and is studying to be a teacher) if she had any great ideas.  She said, “Well, you could put a paper over the page so she only sees one fact at a time.”  So, when it came to that page, I cut out a little square on the paper so she could only see one fact at a time and lo and behold…MATH WENT VERY FAST AND VERY WELL!

THANK YOU ELIZABETH! 

Seriously…it was AMAZING…I think we are keeping that as a GREAT tool!  (who knew a piece of paper with a whole could do so much…lol)

And Elizabeth…you are welcome ANYTIME…can’t wait to see you again!

:0)



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Joy, Love & Peace

I just typed this in an e-mail and was so amazed by it:

Now I want JOY, LOVE, PEACE…fortunately for me…the AUTHOR of JOY, the very ESSENCE OF LOVE, and the SOURCE OF PEACE…is passionately pursuing me!

Think about that...the AUTHOR of JOY!  Who better knows how to bring JOY into our lives.  Who better knows what JOY we need.  Who better knows WHEN we need a moment of JOY!  Who better to bring JOYFULNESS into our lives than the AUTHOR! And that AUTHOR wants ME...wants me to be showered with His JOY!

Only recently have I discovered what JOY is...how the AUTHOR uses it in our lives...or WHAT it really is.  JOY is not a feeling...it is a choice!  A CHOICE to open your eyes and embrace the BLESSING you are being given! JOY is seeing through the eyes of THE AUTHOR and appreciating His creation!

Now...can you even wrap your mind around the profoundness in the ESSENCE of LOVE!  I read over that and thought "WHOA...did I write that...man!"  But I know in reality...it wasn't me...I can't even wrap MY mind around the depth of that statement!!  

Dictionary.com defines 'essence' like this:  

es·sence

  –noun 1. the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature 

So...the basic, real, and INVARIABLE nature of LOVE is passionately pursuing ME!  The very significant individual feature of LOVE...true and pure...the ONE thing that makes love...LOVE...how AMAZING is that!  

I am blown away at even the smallest understanding that we can 'tap' into LOVE...that LOVE wants to envelope us...wants us to be filled with His ESSENCE.  Can you even grasp that?  I know I am having a hard time of it!

Then there is the SOURCE of PEACE!  No diversions...no substitutes...only the authentic, true, and real SOURCE can bring the PEACE beyond understanding...PEACE beyond imagination...PEACE that is inexplicably good!  PEACE that is not earned, that is not 'rightfully' given...PEACE that is abundantly FREE!  

There is NOTHING like the PEACE that comes from the SOURCE.  I can't even begin to explain that PEACE....contentment doesn't even seem adequate...there is NO stress...NO up-tightness...NO pressure!  That does not mean there are no PROBLEMS...but when the problems come...the SOURCE overshadows it and makes it bearable...doable...PEACEful!

So...let's look at that statement again:

Now I want to CHOOSE to EMBRACE the BLESSINGs I am given and APPRECIATE the creation of the AUTHOR, I want the INVARIABLE and ONE thing that makes love LOVE, I want the authentic, true and abundantly FREE overshadowing that makes my life on this fallen earth bearable...fortunately for me…the AUTHOR, the very ESSENCE, and the SOURCE…is passionately pursuing me!  


:0)

The New Crib

Well...Here it is...Amazingly...it is very light...but very sturdy...I like it ALOT!  We'll see what Ethan thinks of it for afternoon naps...I haven't decided if I will be putting the meshing around the edges like I did with the other crib or if we'll leave it open.  (The meshing was purchased to protect the baby from the 'painted' crib...as they all liked to chew on it.)

The overview

Nice and Roomy but with a snug fit!
(I will be having to buy a new matress cover as my others were far to small...
and I might have to ask Grandma to make us some more sheets!)

No room for Ethan to get stuck between crib and mattress!  YEAY!

:0)

Ethan is CRAWLING>>>

I'll try to get a picture or even a video of it...but today he 'officially' made his move forward!

For days he has 'army crawled' or scooted or rolled or whatever he did to be mobile and he even would get up on all 4 but today was the first day that he was up on all fours, and in some form of unison moved hands and knees to make the trek forward.

Our family has now moved into a new stage...the everyone is mobile stage and NOW the other kids will have to take heed...cuz Ethan...is gonna be in EVERYTHING!  lol

:0)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Good Day...

Today was a good day....

I was able to go and visit a friend of mine who has moved to a small town in Nebraska just a few hours away.  We had a GREAT time visiting and sharing what God is doing in our lives.  I so value and treasure the friends that God has given me.  Each one of you is priceless.  Each one has a special place.  And God uses each one of you in unique ways.  I am truly a very blessed child of God!

While I was away visiting my friend, the kids enjoyed a day at Grandma's house.  They actually had not been over there for quite some time and so it was a refreshing change for them.  I think Grandma enjoyed it too (or at least I hope she did).  Again, we are so very blessed to have Grandma and Grandpa so close.  What a blessing they are!

It is so refreshing to realize that not all friends are created equal and not all family is either.  In fact, isn't it amazing how we each have strengths and weaknesses that can compliment each other, and strengthen each other, and meet the needs of this life we are called to live.  If I am learning anything, I am learning that God has a plan in who He brings into your life, from friends, to family, to siblings, to children.  Every facet of our lives is within HIS plan.  The question comes as to if we will embrace and accept those facets or if we will complain, reject, and find fault in them.  No facet is perfect...we live in a fallen and sinful world...but God can take every single part and work it to HIS glory in us!

Marion said he had a good day as well, hauling grain to town.  He didn't see any more Emu/Rheas (one of the neighbors apparently raises them and yesterday one had gotten away and ran out in front of him while he was trucking).  I am so very thankful for every day that the Lord gives me with my husband.  Again, I am a blessed woman!

Once everyone was home for the evening, Abi asked if we could picnic in the living room while we watched our new Netflix movie Nancy Drew.  So I made hamburgers, green beans, and apple slices for everyone to enjoy and we picnicked!  (the menu was actually requested by Abi because she wanted a 'healthy' meal.  lol)  While we were watching the movie, Brad - our UPS man - delivered the crib!  So now I know what I am going to do tomorrow!  (E is already sleeping so we won't wake him for tonight.)

Wishing you all a great night...and a new adventure tomorrow!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Moment by Moment with God

This is a new type of post that I'd like to start regularly doing.  Over the last several months there has been ALOT going on in my life...especially spiritually!  As a reminder to myself, a witness to my children, and possible encouragement to anyone else who happens to see it, I'm going to try to post the lessons I'm learning here under this Title.

First, there are several scriptures that have been very significant over the last few months...the book of James has been very convicting and instructional...I could post the whole first chapter but I'd like to share just a few here:

James 1: (Amplified) 
     2Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
    3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
    4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
    
    12Blessed is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor's] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.
  
  26If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person's religious service is worthless.
  27External religious worship that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

Now, even that is ALOT of scripture I know...but each part of it has some great lesson and significance (as does all scripture) but God has been using these passages to totally re-haul my relationship with HIM!  


Take today's revelation: 


Let's say this is our life: 
We go through life putting in candles that represent what WE want to do and what WE think is best and what OUR selfish desires are.  But eventually, our life starts to look like this (the flame represents life or activity, the candle represents areas of our life - family, wealth, friends, etc):

Some of our candles burn bright and strong, some of our candles get burn unevenly, and some of our candles just go out!  No fire...no life...just deadness!  Some may even get to a point where almost ALL of their candles are burnt completely out!  Some candles may even be put in place but never lit - no life given to it!  And we find, that once we place a candle, it cannot be changed, moved, or altered...we are powerless to do anything but watch it burn or take up 'space' in our life.

When our candles get all disarrayed and uneven, we start to feel hopeless, discouraged, and maybe even depressed that we can't keep our lives in order.  We feel powerless to do anything and honestly get overwhelmed with even trying especially when we want our lives to look like this:
Isn't that pretty...all healthy and all alive...everything in balance and everything as it should be.  That is what we truly want right?  And when our lives look like the messy chaos above, at times, we don't know how to make our candles look this good! Or we realize we have blown it and CAN'T make our lives look this good anymore! Sometimes, we may KNOW God can help us, but we are ashamed or embarrassed to come to Him with such a messy life.  We might not even know HOW to ask God for help in the midst of such chaos.  We think once we get all the candles in order THEN we'll come.  BUT, we can't...we don't have the power to replace the burnt out candles...and even if we manage to get the candle re-lit it still looks worn down and shabby.  And so we are stuck in a hopeless cycle of wanting to be different, wanting to be changed, but feeling powerless to do anything.

What I realized this morning is this:  God wants us to come with our Messy Burnt-Out Candles so that HE can replace them....He can fix them...He can re-kindle the flame...He can overshadow us with His power and might which CAN!  When we let God do the work in us that HE has destined, our candles start looking like this:

Can you see it?  Compare the different pictures...God is 'overshadowing' several of the candles...He is fixing that burnt out blue one that was almost dissipated and was totally burnt-out...He is even bringing life to it...SEE?  Notice...everything doesn't look perfect...everything is not all lined up...but can you feel the difference of HOPE?  Changes ARE being made! 


AND...it is not happening IN MY CONTROL!  In fact, I have given up the control.  I've surrendered to God...asking Him to lead me Moment by Moment.  I let HIM carry the burdens that life brings my way, I lean on HIM to carry me when I can no longer walk the path before me.  I go to HIM when I am frustrated and ask HIM to meet my needs.  In these actions that I CAN DO...I find that HE OVERSHADOWS me.  He fills in the gaps where I fall short, He salves the wounds that I cannot heal. 


My Life becomes Him...not ME!  The HOW is HIM...surrender, control, and choice...each one I DO or GIVE...I surrender to Him, I give control to Him, I make the choice to yield to Him!


My life may never look all perfect again, but knowing that God is overshadowing me and in control, gives me a whole new level of peace...especially in those times of trials and temptations that James talks about.  Let the trial take full course "so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing."  Realize that when we have "stood the test and been approved, [we] will receive [the victor's] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him." And that it is God's will and desire that we "keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world" which can only be done through HIS power.


Our God is Good...All the Time...Let's Trust In Him!

New Items Offered from the Blog

Okay...as I am getting more into this blogging thing and discovering what others do. I have added a few new things to the blog right hand column.  (I might have to convert to a three column format if I keep this up...lol)

The first new thing is right at the top.  For those of you who use RSS Feed Readers, here is a link you can click to easily subscribe to this blog!  If you don't use a Feed Reader, you might consider looking into them.  It is nice to have all your 'internet' interests in one place.  I use Google Reader - a free online service - that allows me to see all the sites I like to watch.  Whenever something is posted new, I see it on my reader so it reminds me to either go to the site or read it right there.  I'm gonna try to get Marion to use one...he spends alot of time going from site to site when he could simply see them all at one spot.

For those that DON'T use an RSS Feed, I have added a widget that will allow you to receive new posts via e-mail!  Simply enter your e-mail address and follow the confirmation process.  Then, when I post something new, it will be delivered directly to your e-mail address.  I am very excited about this new widget because I think it will greatly help those that want to know what is happening but forget to check the blog.  I am assured that you will NOT receive unwanted e-mails, and if I do not post anything, you will not receive any e-mails.  (if this is not the case, please let me know asap and I'll change that!)

I'll keep looking around for ways to make the blog more fun and more easily accessible.  Cheers!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Simple Birthday Celebration

Today has been a good and simple day...one in which I am thankful and blessed by!

We had a good morning getting ready for church (which can at times be stressful).  Then after church, we had a wonderful meal at El Puerto's - an authentic Mexican restaurant that I like in Beloit!

(Now...I have to tell you a little story about this...on our way to Beloit the kids were asking what we were doing.  I told them we were going out to eat for Mommy's birthday and that we'd be eating at a Mexican Restaurant.  To which Abi asked, "Do they speak English there?"  I informed her that actually most of the people that worked at the restaurant spoke Spanish as their first language.  She then said, "Well...how will I understand them then...I guess if they say hola I'll know they said hello." At which time Nathan started whining...but ignoring him, I explained that they also spoke English so we would be able to understand them.  By this time, Nathan was REALLY getting upset and muttering something about not wanting to leave Kansas.    When I inquired about this, he said, "I don't want to go to Mexico where I can't understand anyone...I want to stay in Kansas!"  We had a good laugh with that and tried to convince him that we weren't leaving Kansas at all!)

After a scrumptious lunch at El Puerto's, we headed home for a nap!  Around 4, we had a little celebration with cake and presents for Jonny!  He requested that we not have ice cream and have punch instead "because it is so cold outside".  So we did that!  He was also VERY excited about the 'Birthday Table'.  Here is a picture of that:


Once Grandma and Grandpa Schlatter arrived, we lit the candles (which by the way we had to have a detailed discussion about WHERE the candles would go...Jonny wanted one on each hay bale...I had to explain that he wasn't that old...he only got 3 candles...so then he wanted one on a hay bale, one on TOP of the tractor "so it could drive" and one by the smoke stack.  That was just too much so I finally talked him into have all three on the front with the smoke stack!).  Anyway, we lit the candles and sang Happy Birthday!

You can see he is VERY excited!

He has plenty of wind...but I wouldn't doubt if there was some spit that helped too!
lol...yuck!

He was so excited that he got all the candles that he literally jumped straight up...
the picture cut off his head...so then I got this one...:0)

Very Happy Birthday Boy...who CAN NOT SIT STILL!

Having Cake and Punch

Grandpa and Daddy!
 After the cake, Abigail played I've got the Joy! with Grandma Schlatter and the B-I-B-L-E on the piano as a treat for Mommy and Jonathan.  Then we opened presents.



A hay bale set with loader, truck, and stacker.



A 'Grandpa's Lil Helper' t-shirt'



And a Shake, Shake Bridge Thomas the Train

Mommy got a t-shirt that says "Home is where you park the tractor" which is perfect for us this year!  And a Taste of Home 2011 cookbook.  And a Willow Tree Angel of Harvest (which I'll get a picture of and post it).  And a gift certificate for a manicure.  And of course my duvet and dinner out!  WOW...do I feel spoiled!

It has the shocks of Wheat and is an angel of THANKFULNESS!

Well, that about sums up our Birthday DAY...lol!  Thank you to everyone who made it special...from cards, to calls, to e-mails...each one of you played a special part in making today priceless!