Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn Days

The mornings start cool, the days become warm.
The colors of gold and red cover the leaves, the wind causing them to dance.
The first frost has come and now the garden sits quiet.
Pumpkins decorate our home,  puzzles now sit on the table.  
Soups have found their way onto our menu again, our evening walks now done at dusk.
Candles light our nights, and maybe once or twice our fireplace has been found on already.
We dream of coming vacations and plan for coming holidays.
School has been going for two months, our days having fallen into a nice rhythm.  

Oh, Autumn Days, how we adore you...


We were able to spend a weekend in Wyoming digging for fossils with our friends from Church.  The morning started cool and rainy.  We all forgot to bring sweaters or jackets so on our way we stopped at the local Wally World.  Of course, by the time we made it to the fossil dig, the sun was peaking through and the day ended up being perfect.  Not too hot, not too cold.    We were there for six hours, the older kids and the Dads digging for and hammering apart rocks, looking for the fossils. The younger ones spent the day climbing the piles of limestone, looking for their own treasures.  


One beautiful weekend we made the drive up into the mountains just as the colors were beginning to change.  We drove around, got out and wandered through the trees, always our eyes watching for elk.  


We celebrated the new season with a party!  We played games and enjoyed a potluck together.  Our first game was an obstacle course.  The children were split into two teams.  They had to run and climb over four bales of hay, ride a tricycle across the patio, crawl through a cardboard tunnel, hop on one foot across the lawn twister board, roll a pumpkin through some cones,  climb up the rock wall on the playhouse and slide down the slide, dress up like a scarecrow, jump on the trampoline five times and then run back to their team.  We laughed and clapped and cheered the teams on!  We then had a donut eating contest.  The donuts were all on a string and they had be the first to complete the task of eating them without the aid of their hands and without them falling.  :)  Our third game was twister, which we had painted on to the grass.  We then enjoyed a potluck dinner and ended the evening around the fire pit.  My-oh-my, how fun it was!  

These are the beautiful days of Autumn.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

a summer project...

Brent called me into his office one afternoon and asked me to sit down.   His mind always has ideas swimming around and his eyes are always open, watching for a new opportunity.  He told me how he was driving down a major road in a local town and found a sea-doo that seamed to be a good price.  His thought was to call the owner, see if he could get it for a good price and then sell it.  We mulled over the questions and possibilities, the what-ifs, and finally he made the call. 

He talked to the owner that day and surprisingly got the sea-doo for about half of what he was originally asking.  The guy was just super anxious to sell it.  We had to enlist the help of my parents and were soon parking it in our shop.  Brent and the boys cleaned it up, took it in to be serviced and finally placed it up for sale.  Within 48 hours it was sold.  That afternoon we sat down with the boys and drew up the numbers.  Here's what we paid for it, here's what it cost to have it serviced, here's the amount of gas we used... our time...  and, here's what we sold it for.  They each made a little something helping Daddy with all of the cleaning.  That was three summers ago.

Last summer found Brent searching for a project, hopefully along the lines of the previous summer.   We just couldn't find another good deal on a sea-doo or jet-ski and so his searching seemed to broaden. He looked in Arizona and finally (ha!) found a deal in Denver.  He looked at the RV and found out the man's bottom line.  He thought about, did a ton of research and we thought about it some more.  Finally, we decided we were brave enough to jump in.  We had to decide though, that if it didn't sell, we'd be happy keeping it and using it.  

One evening we made the trip down to get it.  It was the first time I had seen the inside and my-oh-my was it a mess.  On our way home we dropped it off to be cleaned but that only helped a little.  In the coming weeks we would spend over 50 hours cleaning it, fixing miscellaneous items, and cleaning it a little more.  We were able to take it on our camping trip in the middle of summer and as the last items came in to be repaired, we finally put it up for sale.  We were so tired of this vehicle, so ready for it to just be gone, but we quietly questioned if it would sell.  After it taking so much more work then we could imagine, it was now nearing the end of the camping season.  Amazingly though, we got a call within the first 24 hours of the ad being posted and it was sold just like that.  Again, we sat down with the boys and went over the numbers and they were paid for the hours they put into cleaning.

After the RV was gone, we weren't sure we would look again.  Yes, it was worth it and we made money but it was just so much work.  It's funny though, time passes and you seem to forget the pain.  Summer came and  Brent started looking, although, I'm not sure he ever stops looking.  :)  This time the deal was out of state and would require over 24 hrs of driving.  Somehow he roped my Dad into the trip and off they went.

Thankfully the unit came clean.  It smelled good, just like it was new, and I didn't mind being in it.  ha!  The kids were anxious to use it and so we let it sit in the shop until we could take it out in July.  Finally, it went up for sale and sat on the market for a while.  We just figured that again, we were at the end of the camping season and planned that we'd sell it in the Spring / early Summer of next year.  In the midst of the planning, our neighbor stumbled upon it and decided that it was exactly what they were looking for and just like that it was sold.  We'll sit down with the boys and Faith, drawing out the numbers, and paying them for their time and help.  They'll be thrilled. 

I beginning to think this is becoming a tradition.  I guess next year we'll know for sure.  :)

Friday, August 17, 2012 bright blue eyed girl...

back to school...

 It's that time of year again.  Time to bring out the pencils, open new school books and time to add structure back into our days.  School is starting for the three oldest, the younger two are eager to join in and play school.   :)


Monday, July 30, 2012

A Day With Friends...

The day was starting early.  Everyone was up and ready for the hour long drive, some little ones were still sleepy, while the older ones were filled with excitement.   We got to their home up in the hills outside the city and were greeted by the sound of kids running out and the smell of breakfast cooking.  


The kids ate on the back deck and watched the humming birds come to their feeder, completely unaware that they were there.  After breakfast, it was time for fishing and the older kids started off running through the fields to the pond while the younger ones and the adults jumped in the cars and drove to meet the amazingly fast kids down at the edge of their property.  It was time for fishing.    The sun was hot and intense, maybe not the best time to try and fish but still fun.  Benjamin had the first catch and then towards the end of our fishing Faith was able to catch one.  Oh Joy! 

A day spent with friends, a day spent exploring, a day spent running and laughing.  

A perfect day.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Surprise... it was a surprise!

After so many hours, days, weeks and months of planning, the day finally arrived and my sister and I were on pins and needles to say the least.  There were butterflies in our stomach and the question constantly floated around in our head...  Do they already know?  What if they notice all of the cars across the street?  What if they get here and just say, "so, what's going on?"

The hour came and all guests were waiting in the shop.  Dad and Mom walked up to the front door and we were quick to create distractions, quick to great them, and quick to start the walk to the shop.  

We told them the kids had been working on a surprise for them in the shop and they were anxious to show it to them.  And, because they were both turning 60 this year, it was going to be for both of them... and they needed to cover their eyes.  My sister and I helped them walk over and as we were going slow, she asked them if they had any idea what might be in the shop.

They said they had a couple of ideas but that they couldn't wait to see what it was.   Well, those ideas were not even close.  They were thinking Adirondack chairs.... 

It was a complete surprise.  

Even with the kids knowing... and not being aloud in the shop for weeks beforehand... even with family coming into town to "visit"...  and with their friend's cars parked across the street... 
they just had no idea.  And, we were thrilled!

I don't know if I can say the evening went fast.   We worked hard, running between the house and the shop, making sure everything was taken care of.  We tried to visit with the guests in those calm moments when the food did not need attention.  It seemed as if our feet were in constant motion. 
It was worth it though.

The air was filled with music that they grew up listening to and songs from their wedding. There was good food on the table and pictures around the room from their lives.  There were the friends and family that came to celebrate with us.   There were tears and laughter.  
Sweet memories were made.

We are so thankful for our parents.  We are so thankful for the way they raised us, for the way they love us, and they way they love our families.  We are so thankful that we were able to enjoy their 60th birthday's in such a fashion.  

We are thankful that the party is over...
that we can look back on that evening with such fondness...
and that now we can enjoy the summer days! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Surprise... all in the details

The plans began forming in January.  My parents were both turning 60 this year and that seemed to invite the need for a party.  My sister and I, along with our husbands, discussed all sorts of possibilities. Should we do a small party here in Colorado or should we all get back "home" to California so that we can enjoy this celebration with our life long friends...  the ideas would fly in and we'd play with each one.  We finally decided to email some close friends and family in California to see if they'd be able to make the trip out here to help us celebrate.  Almost all were able!  

We wanted to keep the party on the smaller side.  Close family and friends.  Friends who they enjoy together, friends they do dinners with, vacation with... friends who have celebrated life with them.  
Family, friends we've known for 25 plus years, and new friends here in Colorado...  

Timing.  Doing a party for two birthdays made it interesting.  Mom's birthday was at the end of March and Dad's is in the middle of July so we wanted to find some common ground... the month of May.  When we emailed our family and friends asking if they'd come out to Colorado, we also asked about timing.  When would it work best for everyone.  We finally decided on Memorial Day weekend, which ended up working out better than we could have imagined.  



Once we knew we were doing the party in Colorado, it was time to work on the location. Should we do it at a local restaurant?  Or, could we do it at our house?  If we did it here, should we rent a big tent? Brent then asked the question, "What if we did the party in the shop?" It made me pause... the shop.  It would take a lot of work, we'd have a lot to clean out, and a lot to do, but how fun it would be.  I asked my sister, and she immediately loved the idea.  The shop it was.  

With the date, location, and guest list taken care of, it was now time to have fun.  It was time to search for and gather ideas for the party.  Google searches would find the typical "over the hill" themes and the corny party ideas, which was not what we were looking for.  We dug a little deeper and quickly started to find the look we were going for...  a simple, rustic look, with hopefully a touch of classic.  And, all in a shop.  

Our husbands were amazing...  we'd come up with a project and they'd jump in.  We made fence sections to go in the shop to hopefully hide some of the shelving that could not be moved, we made chalkboards and signs, they hung lights, and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.  We planted flower pots, had older pictures developed, and used mason jars for candles...  it was starting to look like what we were picturing.  

Four out of the nine kiddos knew about the party, we were hoping family and friends from California would not slip up, and I still panicked about sending my parents an email chalk full of details that was really suppose to go to my sister.  Were they starting to wonder why they could not go in the shop and why we were so busy all of the sudden?

 The question was out there....  

Still we wondered...

Would it be a surprise?

(all pictures done by a dear friend, Brianne Totman)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

May Days...

The days have been full and beautiful.  
Our month started with a little trip up to Mt. Rushmore... 

and we were able to see Crazy Horse, which is an amazing story to see in progress.  
We also drove around Bear Country and spent hours swimming.

We discovered a Killdeer nest....

and got all dressed up for a costume party.
Let's see...  John and Benjamin Star Wars Jedi
Faith - a cowgirl
Olivia - "Princess Olivia, a flower girl"
Alaina - a monkey
and Brent and I with Alaina - Monkey Business

Thankfully, we were outside, just as the killdeer had hatched and were 
able to watch them run around for a minute.  Oh, such fun!

We finished our school days and started our garden.
Oh, and there was this one other big thing that happened in May...