Happy Birthday, Poppa

It’s hard to believe that Jan’s dad will turn 87 next week.

16142784_1232329153523504_8453402464626224770_nWe decided to celebrate a week early – since they have plans to drive Florida and will be gone on the actual day.

Yes – he is driving to Florida at age 87.

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All of our kids were there to feast on Poppa’s favorite oyster soup (and a cheesy potato soup for those poor souls who don’t yet appreciate the warm milk and fishiness of oyster soup.)

Then we played games –

15977573_1232332460189840_3939402318156689418_nA mild game of Ticket to Ride that included lipstick and selfies and lots of belly laughter.

Steven and Laura won – again.

Yes – they beat Poppa on his birthday.

But he and Matt took second place.

And then – after German chocolate cake and ice cream and presents – we had a wild round of Pie In the Face.

16003168_1232333073523112_1770078695099218374_nA crazy game of Russian roulette that involves a giant hand covered with whipped cream and lots of laughter!

Anything to entertain Poppa on his birthday.

16114599_1232333066856446_5722873145077238127_nAnd boy was he entertained!

That was a birthday party to remember!

Here’s to many, many more!

Happy birthday, Poppa!

Lessons from Christmas

Christmas is over. The tree is down. The lights are packed away and we’ve finally found a normal schedule again. I think.

But as I reflect on the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve decided that this Christmas season has taught me a few lessons.

1. When you give your brother-in-law an elf hat for Christmas and he puts it on with his new safety glasses and then he grabs a tape measure and pretends to be one of Santa’s elves making toys – you immediately take a picture and put it on your blog.

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Because you can.

And it’s hilarious and he will never see it anyway.

I hope.

2.  Changing all the light bulbs in the house on Christmas Eve day to LED might make sense economically – but will create bad lighting for selfies and other photo ops and drive your camera loving daughter crazy.

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And certainly don’t help my photography skills. Or lack thereof.

But aren’t those kids cute! (just missing a son-in-law who was on duty Christmas Eve!)

3. After 26 years of attempting a beautiful ice cream log for Christmas – I have finally accepted the fact that it will never look good and will quite possibly always look like something less than attractive.

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And well – less than appetizing.

Which is why we shall always eat by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

3. The stomach flu is always nasty – but it’s extremely unwelcome when it attacks on Christmas Day.

No pictures. You’re welcome.

4. Having a house full of family can wipe out a stocked refrigerator quickly. I took three grocery runs the week between Christmas and New Years – mostly for coffee and vegetables.

The coffee I expected but the veggies were a new and surprising development.

5. Speaking of surprising developments – I have lots of Christmas goodies now hidden in the freezer. While my children pigged out over Christmas weekend, by New Year’s they had decided to eat healthy.

Go figure.

At their current rate of consumption, Jan and Buddy should have them gone by Easter. I hope.

6. I love playing games with the family at Christmas. Really, really love it.

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Especially new games like this one – Ticket to Ride.  Which is my new obsession.

I even won a few times – at least until my new son-in-law arrived. Hmmm…somebody should tell that guy it’s not good manners to beat your Mother-in-law at her favorite new game, at her house on Christmas. Good thing I like the guy.

7. Actually – I love them all – the whole crazy bunch! And carving out time together with crazy schedules to be together is the best Christmas memory of all!

Hope your holidays were special!

 

Heirloom Project

Laura had a couple of small projects she wanted done for her wedding.

Both turned out very cute, but one ended up being something even more.

It started out as an idea from Pinterest – their initials on weathered barn boards.

She found the wooden initials and hoped that a search through our pole barn would yield some neat barn boards that could be used to create the background.
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But it didn’t.

So we talked to Papa Jim – hoping he had something in his stash.

He, however, had a better idea.

Remember my Grandpa’s barn that was going to be taken down? It was still standing and had a lot of barn boards.

A quick call to my Uncle Delbert and we had access to all the wood we needed!

But wait – there’s more.

As the guys were cutting away at the boards in the barn – Uncle Delbert told me to run to his Ranger and grab the saw in the back.  I carried the old rusty tool back, wondering why in the world they needed it since the nice new saw seemed to be working just fine.

But Uncle Delbert took it, handed it my dad and said, “This was my grandpa’s saw.”

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Then the reality of the situation hit me and I grabbed Jan’s phone to record it.

Laura’s grandpa was cutting wood from her great-grandpa’s barn using her great-great-grandpa’s saw to make an original piece to decorate for her wedding and later on her home.

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How cool is that.

She doesn’t just have a one-of-a-kind piece, she has a bit of history.

It’s a heritage piece that goes back three generations and is anchored deep in the farm soil of north central Iowa.

Now that’s a pretty neat story to share.

 

Wedding Shower

The wonderful ladies at church put on a Bridal Shower for my Laura on Saturday.

I still can’t believe that she’s actually the bride!

There was a whole room full of people loving on my girl.

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Laura’s family – grandmas, aunts, cousins – traveling many miles to share the joy.

Steven’s family – wonderful people! So ready to welcome and accept and love her.

And our church family – dear friends who have watched Laura grow up and are so excited for her wedding!

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We shared laughter, played games and ate amazing food!

Oh the food! Seriously people can we just talk about the food?!

We had brunch. Isn’t brunch a happy word? We’re talking caramel sticky buns and every kind of coffee cake with all manor of yummy toppings and egg casseroles in all their gooey, cheesy goodness.

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I love brunch.

And I love these people.

Precious friends who prayed over my baby girl and shared words of wisdom.

Dear people who gave up a beautiful Saturday morning to shower my girl with love and gifts.

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Gifts that Including not one, not two, but three identical vacuums.

She prayed specifically for a vacuum.

And God answered – “Exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think”!

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And I love this girl!

Who will – in just a few short weeks  – walk down the aisle and marry the man who has completely won her heart.

And ours.

So blessed. So very , very blessed.

 

The North Shore Reunion

We made some sweet family memories last weekend.

All of Jan’s family (except for our Matt) gathered at his brother’s cabins in northern Minnesota.

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Grandpa, Grandma, uncles, aunts, and lots and lots of cousins.

Traveling from four different states for a few days of fun in the north woods.

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Cousins that seldom see each other wasted no time in having epic adventures.

Climbing waterfalls.

Swimming.

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Hiking.

Rock Climbing.

 

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Wild blue berry picking.

And wild blue berry eating.

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And a one-of-a-kind Purple Lupine Olympics that included a Grand Prix, pine cone toss, target shooting, and a fire starting contest.

The camp fire was always burning.

There were s’mores every night.

Singing.

Laughter.

Conversations.

Too many marshmallows.

And sweet, sweet fellowship.

Perfect.