Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Fun Evening of Roasting

We had a fun evening of roasting marshmallows at our fire pit.  We make our own marshmallows and they are much stickier than the store-bought kind.  (You'd love them, Dad!)  They also don't catch fire when you roast them.  Do you every wonder what causes that?

James and Jonathan are getting very sticky.

Helena managed to keep her hair out of the goo.

One must concentrate to make sure you have no casualties.  (marshmallows that fall in the fire)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Birds and Blooms

I realized yesterday that I neglected to show any pictures of the bronze birds.  
They are so funny how they like to sleep in a pile.  
I was afraid they did this because they were cold, but soon found it is turkey preference.

This is the first time our lilacs and peonies bloomed at the same time!
The lilacs smell so good.  I should put a bouquet in the garage by the turkeys.  
That would take care of the one little problem we're having, if you can guess what that is...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Turkey Tales

We had an interesting early morning phone call this morning.  Our post office called at 6:30 A.M. to say that our turkey chicks had arrived. we went to pick up our brood.

In case you don't know much about poultry chicks, they're not exactly the most intelligent animals.  You have to show them their food and water and sometimes make them drink and eat.  Here Andrew and Emily are "helping" two of them get their first drinks.

Andrew is our turkey guy.  He spent a lot of time today regulating their temperature.

Two of his feathered friends.  He has a couple favorites. 
 These will be white when they get their feathers.  
Amazingly, they look bigger now, 12 hours later,
  than they did when we picked them up this morning.

Monday, June 24, 2013

James Turned 6 Today!

I can't believe it.  Our youngest is now 6!

It took three blows and we ended up with coconut and chocolate chips all over his end of the table, but he got the job done.

Okay, maybe that bite is a little too big.

He might be just a little excited.

Christopher took over in the "some assembly required" department.  Mom and Dad don't mind a bit!

It was a fun birthday!!

Jonathan's Senior Project: Part 1

This summer Jonathan is working on his senior project which is building a garden shed from scratch.  We were able to find a window...

...and a door at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for a whopping $7.00.

The door was a little taller than Jonathan had planned, but at that price it was worth changing his plans!

First step--footings

These are really fun to dig since our soil is almost completely clay.

The project attracted some "helpers".

Okay, almost level... add the rock base.

We have the beginnings of the floor.

Here come some stringers.

This is getting exciting!

Ah, the plywood top...

...last piece

Sweep it off and it's done.  Next step...trusses!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Getting Ready for Summer String Camps

Kristin and I are teaching two week-long string camps this summer.  The rental instruments arrived on Friday so James - the only one besides Bob who doesn't play a string- decided he was ready to try some instruments.

First a 1/8 size cello...

then a 1/10 size violin.  Okay, we're going to have to work on that bow hold.

Poor Kristin...they were out of the full size cellos.

Oh dear, now I'm really worried.  She's supposed to be helping me teach the camps.  
Someone help me explain to her the proper way to play a cello!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's Great to Have Old Friends Visit

Helena was so happy to have little girls to play with!

Both families minus one.  Aren't timers on cameras convenient!

Just the guys.  They managed to stop swatting mosquitoes for long enough to take the picture.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First Toad of the Season

One of the favorite summer pastimes is catching toads.  This little one was the first one this year--caught by Benjamin, of course.

These three were quite happy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vacation Reflections

Well, we've been back home for a week, and we have had many opportunities to talk about our favorite places, best times, and acclimate to our present temperatures of cool.

We first realized that we grossly underestimated our travel distance.  Our anticipated mileage had been 3000 miles.  Our actual mileage was 4500 miles!!!  Wow, did we blow the gas budget!  Our saving grace, however, was the vast difference in the southern gas prices.  We're talking about over a dollar less in places.  The lowest price was $3.09 in South Carolina, and the price when we got back home was $4.26!!

We all enjoyed the mountains and the beauty of creation.  We would like to go back and do more hiking next time.  (I will try to be in better shape.)

Some people had warned us that it was going to be awful being in the car with the children for that long of a trip.  That turned out not to be a problem at all.  Our biggest difficulty turned out to be keeping our noise level down to a dull roar at some of the campgrounds where most of the other campers were older and didn't necessarily appreciate our exuberance.

The temperature extremes were also quite amazing.  We left with the temperature in the upper 20's, enjoyed temperatures in the 90's while in the Carolinas, and returned home to the 60's.  "Brrr!!!", says Kristin who is the family cold person.

After returning, the laundry pile was truly amazing!!!  This is not because I didn't do laundry on the trip either.  Well, two days and 17 loads later I was done!  That was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.  Our other major hurdle was the lawn.  That took seven days and three workers to get that one done, but they managed.  Now, the only remaining problem is the ticks--yuck!!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Maiden Flight

Today was the day.  Today was the day for Matthew's first flight with his birthday plane.  He had to wait all week for the weather to cooperate and to get our place cleaned back up.

You'll notice the grass is no longer a foot tall.  Sooo...

It was a beautiful flight and lots of fun to watch!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Best Laid Plans...

I mentioned we came back to foot-high grass.  I didn't mention how large our "indoor garden" had gotten.  Today we were supposed to get lots of gardening done.  Our pumpkin plants are already blooming and our green bean plants already have beans!  Well, as you can see, our plans were changed!

We had to at least get the pumpkins planted so Emily, Kristin, and Christopher braved the downpour.

Christopher decided he was done.

And then there was one.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Home again, Home again...

We left Kalamazoo this morning at 8:45.  Our target had been 8:00, but well, we never got it right the entire time.  Our trip home was uneventful and the skies cleared as we approached the Mackinac Bridge.

It is good to be almost home!

You know all can't be perfect when we've been gone for as long as we have.  So...our minivan had a dead battery, and our grass was/is about a foot high.  We have plenty to do this week!

After a helpful jump-start from the big van, we were ready to go again.  Yippee!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Last Day of Vacation!

Today was the last day of our vacation.  After worshiping at a local church, we did a van picnic, (very messy indeed), and went to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.  We all enjoyed it very much.  The younger ones particularly enjoyed the first building showing the various stages of flight.

It's great to have older siblings to go with you on rides!

There were also flight simulators that gave you full range of motion.  This means if you put your plane in a barrel roll you will be going upside down!!  This was particularly fun for some!

Yes, during the simulation the hatch is closed and you are stuck in there!

We also got to see many restored planes and even sit in some...

a helicopter trainer...

...and a Vietnam era helicopter.

Finally, the highlight of the day for Matthew and probably the highlight of the vacation...he got to use a real simulator...

 and actually fly a Cessna!

What a day!!  It was so fun, and boy are we tired!

Tomorrow, homeward bound.