Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 2013 Videos

6 years + 8 months

Emily is enjoying summer and the freedom to read and be creative.  Her braid shop is still in full swing.  Things improved after I showed her how to tie knots at the beginning and end of the braids instead of wrapping them with masking tape.  She has taken great joy going to Trinkets & Togs to pick out and purchase bags of yarn ball scraps with her own money to create new color combinations or replenish color supplies.  If only she could find someone to pay real money for the creations, she could actually have a real business!

When Emily grows tired of braiding, she reads her "Make & Do" book and dreams about learning how to sew and quilt.  I told her she needed to talk to Grandma Lorenzen about that one seeing as how I learned most of my limited sewing skills from her.  One of these days I'll pull out my old cross-stitch patterns.  I did a few 4-H projects with that.

As far as books go, Emily is flying through the A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy, as well as American Girl books.   She completed the summer reading program requirements at the library in about 48 hours.  She is also into learning about World War I.  The librarian helped us find some age appropriate books on that subject.

Emily enjoys riding bike but is still not interested in attempting to ride without training wheels.  Someday.  We also quickly discovered that she has strong reactions to insect bites just like her Aunt Courtney.  Everything turns into large, red welts.

A final note about the outfit she's wearing in her monthly picture.  Like her braid combinations, Emily has names for different outfit combinations.  Some examples are "White Snow," "Zebra Hula," "Gray Fog," and "Black Hula".  The one pictured is "Grandma Ladybug." :)

Sturgis Falls Half Marathon

Austin has been training to run the Sturgis Falls Half Marathon again in Cedar Falls.  This is his third year, and the first where he wasn't dealing with an injury.  It was perfect weather for running.  The course was altered this year due to flooding along the river, so the kids & I hung out at Pfeiffer Springs Park to see him run by a couple times before racing to meet him at the finish line. 

Austin finished with a new PR of 1:41:37, which was 12 minutes faster than in 2011 and 2012.  That's about a 7:45 pace.  His goal had been under 1:40 at a 7:30 pace, but the course was hillier than expected.  That's still amazing in my book!  It was good enough for 63rd overall and 10th in his age category.

I forgot both my camera and my phone, so I didn't get any pictures during the race.  I did get a few snapshots on Austin's phone afterwards until the battery died.  Here is Austin with the kids post-race:

I forgot about the Kids' Fun Run, but both Emily & Lincoln were eager to participate.  Three different age categories ran three different lengths of races.   This is Lincoln waiting patiently for his race to start and happily running with Daddy.  This picture brings back a lot of memories for Austin because he spent many, many Saturdays watching his dad run road races while growing up.

While Lincoln pretty much "wins" no matter what actually happens, Emily is competitive to the bone like her dad.    Look at that face of determination!  Her age group ran in heats of 7-8 kids.  She was quite aware that she finished 4th in her heat.

Here are the kids post-fun run with their goodie bags.  The bags contained some treats and a leftover half marathon finisher medal from a past year.  They were thrilled and so proud!  On the way home, Emily asked when she could start running marathons.  I thought, "Maybe when you stop huffing and puffing and complaining about being so tired after only three blocks."  I actually said, "Maybe when you're 12 or 13." ;o)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Last baking spree

Today was the perfect day for my last baking spree before packing up the kitchen.  I made apple bread, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I can't wait for my new double wall oven!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


This is a random summer post.  Here is a picture of one of my favorite flower pots this year.

I dumped out the cooler from the night before on the driveway.  The kids had fun playing with the ice as it melted.  Lincoln liked throwing pieces in the street and watching them smash.

We sort of celebrated the last Sluggers game being cancelled due to wet field conditions by walking to Dairy Queen for ice cream.  Emily was seriously going to wear those capris with her dark green uniform shirt.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Me!

Today was my 33rd birthday.  It was pretty much an ordinary day in my books.  The kids, however, were super excited.  They eagerly decorated the basement complete with balloons and streamers and hosted a birthday breakfast for me (although I was still in charge of making scrambled eggs, toast and handing out the vitamins).  Emily had a big wrapped gift full of art projects and a nice card.


At night we hosted some families for a spaghetti supper.  That was fun for me.  Thankfully, the rain quit just in time to be able to eat supper outside.  Plus, they helped me eat my birthday oatmeal chocolate chip cake and rhubarb crisp. :)

This is my 3-year portrait that my mom posted on Facebook.  It's my favorite from when I was little.  Have I changed much in 30 years?!?

Sunday, June 23, 2013


We finally made it to the end of Sluggers season!  Two practices plus 10 scheduled games spread over 7 weeks is just too much for this mama (and Emily as well).  I was totally over it after five games.  It didn't help that two games got rained out and rescheduled to extend the season (although the last one got rained out again and wasn't rescheduled).  I don't think I'd make a very good soccer mom! ;o)

Anyway, Emily did okay.  She seemed to get worse at batting as the season went along and ended up having to use the tee a lot, but it got better the last two games when the coach started pitching underhand to the girls.  Fielding and catching the ball, well...but she likes to run the bases!

Here are some picture highlights...

Playing catcher all dressed up in the gear (she only did it once)

Concentrating on swinging hard

Playing 1st base

Her highlight--receiving the participation trophy at the end of the season

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kitchen project: Before and The great window switch

We have been gearing up for our next big remodeling project for months now--the kitchen/dining/laundry.  We have always known we were going to gut the kitchen since we first saw the house.  After redoing every other room in the house, it's time for the last hurrah.

Instead of waiting until the project is "finished" and putting up one gigantic post (I still need to do one on the master bathroom that has been completed for 7 months now), I've decided to try and do progress posts for this one.  But no project would be complete without "before" pictures.  Below is a slide show of all the pictures I took before anything was touched.

Austin got a jump-start earlier this month by taking an old door he found in the basement, switching the hinges, and hanging it on the existing door frame for the new pantry (currently the back entrance & coat closet).  He also primed all the woodwork.

Today was the first really messy step.  Austin took out a double window from the current breakfast nook and replaced it with the single window we removed from the kids' bathroom upstairs almost two years ago.  We both hated the windows that were there because the they were left unfinished and were a huge pain to clean.  We also needed to make room for the washer/dryer that will eventually be stacked there for first floor laundry!

Clothes closet

Today I completed a task that has literally been haunting me for months--cleaning out my clothes closet.  I kept making the excuse that I couldn't do seasonal changeover because I just didn't know if it would snow one more time.  But that's probably not going to happen now. ;o) 

Anyway, through purging and seasonal adjustments, I think the closet lost at least 100 lbs.  I took two big boxes of clothes to the consignment shop in town (something I've been meaning to do for about 1.5 years now).  We'll see if anything comes of that.  I have another two boxes waiting to drop off when they start accepting fall/winter stuff.

I am notorious for having a rather dull color selection in my wardrobe--especially in the winter.  I pretty much settle on black, white, brown, red, purple and pink.  During the long non-spring, I tried to spiff things up by purposely purchasing some more brightly colored clothing.  Now it's finally warm enough to wear it!  I decided to be geeky and arrange my closet in rainbow order.

I also added a hanging shoe shelf for my flip-flops.  I have a larger collection this year (though still small by most standards).

Austin is pretty much in charge of his own wardrobe.  I may secretly purge a thing here or there or occasionally bring home something new for him to try on, but it's pretty simple.  He has business clothes for when he travels and wears t-shirts and jeans/shorts while working at home.  After arranging my side of the closet I laughed at the stark contrast to Austin's side.  (To his credit, there are a few red polo shirts hanging on hooks behind his dress clothes.)

Silly stilts

Friday, June 21, 2013

Soccer Camp

One thing Emily had been looking forward to doing this summer is attending the Pee Wee Soccer Camp for ages 5-6 at Wartburg.  She did it last year, too.  The weather was much better this year, but overall I was pretty disappointed.  It was in two different locations with pros and cons to both.  There were fewer kids but very little individual instruction.  Emily didn't learn anything new or even improve what she already knew.  The majority of the time it seemed like she was dragging around half participating (or chewing on her hair).  Maybe it was because it was at 2:00pm and I didn't feel like being there either. :op 

Here are a few action shots when I actually remembered to take a picture:

Lincoln loved soccer camp because it meant a delayed nap time (aka "quiet hour") and prime socialization.  We had some good friends who had one daughter participating in the camp.  They always brought plenty of fun things for their other two girls (and Lincoln) to play with. :o)


Thursday, June 20, 2013

George Wyth Beach

One thing on our summer bucket list was to return to George Wyth Beach in Cedar Falls.  We enjoyed going there several times last summer.  We had a free day, so I sent out an email and had a couple friends join us for a picnic lunch and an afternoon of swimming.

As usual, Lincoln was mostly a shore dweller content to dig in the sand with a shovel or his excavator.  Emily spent most of the time floating around on the blow-up tube (and has the tan lines to prove it!).  That meant I got to spend most of the time sitting in a beach chair under an umbrella chatting with friends.  I only got my feet wet once or twice. :o)

This was my brilliant new idea.  After exasperating hikes from the parking lot to the water last year trying to carry an unbelievable load of stuff with little to no help from the kids, I packed almost everything up into our big wagon, set it in the back of the van and pulled it from the parking lot to the beach.  Each kid was also assigned one light item.  It definitely helped that the water is much higher this year (less sand to hike across), and the air tires on the wagon are a must-have.  We will definitely be doing this again next time!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

4 years + 1 month

It has already been a month since Lincoln's birthday!  I got really nervous at first because starting from the day her turned 4, he suddenly stopped napping again.  It was almost a week before he finally crashed one afternoon.  Thankfully, we're back to a pretty regular napping schedule.  When school got out I introduced "quiet hour" (a.k.a. nap time).  The number one rule is that no one is allowed to talk to each other.  Lincoln almost always falls asleep for a 1.5-2 hour nap.  Emily is pretty good about quietly entertaining herself, but knows exactly when the hour is up.  At least it gives me an auditory break. ;o)

Lincoln never uses the "b" word, but his constant question is, "What are we going to do today/tomorrow/next?"  We can go over the schedule ten times, and he'll still ask again.  I don't think he's necessary looking for me to continually entertain him, but he's not obsessed with scheduling either.  I think it's just a fun question to ask.

Another thing Lincoln is into is telling Knock Knock jokes.  Except it's always the same one that he heard from Emily.
Lincoln: Knock, Knock
Me/Austin: Who's there?
Lincoln: Boo
Me/Austin: Boo who?
He rarely finishes with the punch line, "Why are you crying?"

Lincoln loves wearing sleeveless shirts.  He always asks for "no sleebes."  He is wearing one of his favorites in his monthly picture.

Lastly, it is well known that Lincoln has quite the facial expressions and charming ways.  Whenever he suggests something (like playing Angry Birds or going outside or getting ice cream) he casually says, "Maybe I could play Angry Birds or somefing" accompanied by a nonchalant shoulder shrug.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


The kids have been asking to get out the sprinkler, so today I obliged.  Emily actually started running through it a bit.  Lincoln still prefers to skirt around the edges.  The main attraction is filling up buckets and cups, although they spent most of the time taking turns turning it on high (Emily) and low (Lincoln).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

OHC VBS: Kingdom Rock

After a rather negative experience two years ago, I decided to attempt VBS at our church again this year.  The VBS program itself at Orchard Hill is outstanding.  The problem came with it being late (6:15-8:15pm) in Cedar Falls (20 miles away) too many nights in a row (five).  This year both kids were old enough to attend and not just be in nursery waaay past normal bedtime (although like last time, Austin was out of town during the week). 

One positive change this year was the kickoff took place during the 10:45am worship service on Sunday followed by a family picnic.  The "picnic" was held inside because of rain, and all the fun activities (giant bounce house/slide, balloon swords, crafts, face painting, etc.) were crammed into the gym, but it was still fun.

The kids had fun the first two nights, but it still got late and bed time was a bit ugly.  The third night was cancelled because of all the bad weather.  We skipped the fourth night because I had a previously planned event.  Since Austin was out of town, a babysitter came to stay with the kids. 

The theme was Kingdom Rock: Where Kids Stand Strong for God.  The decorations were phenomenal.  Since we missed Wednesday night, we stopped at church Thursday morning to take pictures and deliver our mission offering (over $3,000 was raised to purchase Jesus Storybook Bibles translated into Creole for schools and families in Haiti).

I didn't take any pictures during the actual event, so here are a few courtesy of the OHC Facebook page:

I volunteered to be a floater this year, which means they put you where needed.  The first night I was an assistant group leader for the 6th grade boys.  The second night was 5th grade.  Shh, don't tell, but I was secretly planning to skip out on Wednesday night and hide out at Panera with high hopes of getting this blog caught up (enter severe storms, which were probably God's way of saying, "Nope!").  I wasn't sad to miss Thursday night.  After two attempts at volunteering, I just honestly decided that VBS is not my thing.  I would be willing to do just about anything that didn't necessarily involve the kids (crazy, I know).  Like hosting in the volunteer hospitality room.  Or baking cookies (which they didn't ask for this year).  It's just not my gifted area or sweet spot.  Our church really focuses on serving out of your strengths and passions, so I shouldn't feel guilty about not volunteering again next year.  I still will feel a bit guilty if I don't help out in any way, but maybe I can be more careful to choose something that energizes me rather than something that drains and discourages me.