Baby Celebrations

IMG_4031 Opening Gifts

Sometimes things in life do not go quite as planned. We had this experience this past Sunday. We had planned for a beautiful sunny day to hold a Baby Celebration for my son and daughter-in-law and our soon to come grandson. What we got was a day that started out drizzly.

We had planned to set up tables and chairs outside and have everything ready to go by 11:00, so we could get started on the grilling of burgers and hot dogs.  What we got was drizzling till about 10:45, waiting till 11:00 to make sure it really was done dripping all over, and then scrambling to get things set up outdoors so we would be ready for the guests. We had planned to have this be a casual event; and it was a casual event so that went according to plan!

Lots of prayers were sent up, on my part, for there to be a couple hour break in the drippiness.  (I struggled with that prayer as we really need the rain in this area.) We did get a break and it was long enough to fit in everything we needed to.

The day, while not warm and sunny, was a wonderful day of celebration. Lots of laughter, joking, playing games (Corn Hole and Badminton) and opening gifts. It was a wonderful day to celebrate life, family, friends, and the celebration of a new life on the way.

 

There was plenty of food for everyone….(though the frozen fruit cup was a little bit chilly for the day). Grilled burgers and hot dogs, salads and a S’more table, more than made up for the slightly damp atmosphere.

 

We decided that we would still have our homemade root beer and floats. (It was National Root Beer Float Day on Sunday so we needed those floats!) They were great with the S’mores and no one seemed to mind having a chilly dessert.

 

I had bought the duck a few years back at a garage sale. At the time I purchased it I thought it was a floaty for a pool. I found out later it was a blow up baby bathtub! I am really glad I found a great use for it at the party. It made a great root beer and water bottle holder. (I must thank the mom-to-be for taking pictures of the set up…..I had totally forgotten!)

There was lots of mingling and catching up with family and friends during the afternoon. It was a time to retell old family stories and make new ones. I may be the mom of sons…but I am blessed by the women they have brought into our family! They were the drive behind the planning, food and decorations.

We did have a really good laugh when my daughter-in-law shared that my grandson had been quizzing them on their way here about what happens at a baby shower. He was firmly convinced that this was the day the baby would arrive and we were all going to be together to witness the birth and have a huge celebration! He wanted to know all the whens, whys, and whats on how that was going to happen. I am not sure what they actually told him…but it still makes me grin.

In the end….the day was perfect in it’s weather imperfection. It was a celebration that did not hinge on circumstances like foggy damp rain. It did not hinge on “if everything went according to plan”. In the end…the day did go as planned….people had fun, we celebrated and we enjoyed being together.

It was a day that celebrated family, life, new beginnings and love.  It was a day that celebrated blessings and what they really are. When it all comes down to it I guess that is what really matters…..and it was good.

 

The best times are always found
when friends and family gather round.
Unknown

If you so choose,
even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities.
If you so choose,
you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.
Ralph Marston

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphmarst564358.html?src=t_unexpected

More Than Fishing

IMG_3977 Fishing the Little Rock

Little Rock River

The weather was really nice a couple days ago so my husband and I decided we should try fishing on our bit of the river that night.  There is a sandbar that is a great place to sit and fish…..or contemplate life.

To get to the sandbar; we had to slither our way down the bank through head high weeds, saplings, and fallen tree branches. It was kind of a trick getting down there while holding a fishing pole, bucket (to sit on), and having my camera slung around my shoulders.

We did make it, and it was great once we were down there. It was quiet, except for the birds singing, a beaver crawling around behind a tree on the opposite bank and the sound of water rippling over rocks….a perfect evening to sit with a line in the water.

IMG_3972 Beaver Hideout

We were kind of worried that we would get eaten alive by mosquitoes, so we each took our choice of spray. I whipped up an essential oils spray that I wanted to try. I will share the recipe because I really like it and it worked for me.

Spray
10 drops Geranium EO
15 drops Lavender EO
5 drops Patchouli EO
10 drops Lemongrass EO
10 drops Citronella EO
2 oz. Witch Hazel
2 oz. water
Put Witch Hazel in 4 ounce spray bottle
Add EO’s (Essential Oils)
Add water 

I found it worked wonderfully for me. I have yet to convince my husband it would work so he continues to use his chemical-laden spray. Someday I will convince him!

Anyway…..back to fishing…….

IMG_3974 My Zebco 33

We stayed out there for a couple hours. I regret to report that all I caught was a corn stalk, two sticks and a bush on the bank. I am so glad I don’t have to survive off my catch!  My husband did have a few nibbles but nothing that really grabbed the bait and latched on.

I have a feeling it might be due to the really low water levels in the river. The water is so shallow you could see to the bottom most places. We were hoping that would enable us to see the fish swimming along….no go on that one.

I did find some pretty weeds flowers along the bank. They were such a beautiful shade of purple that I could not resist taking a picture of them. I must admit, I find it hard not to take pictures of most flowers.

IMG_3975 Pretty

I have no idea what kind of plant that is but the blooms were really delicate and so pretty.

There is something so peaceful about sitting by the river’s edge. It might be the way the wind blows through the tree tops and sets the leaves to rustling. It might be the birds twittering in the trees and settling in for the night. Maybe it is the fact you can watch a young beaver swim silently along the bank, leaving a wake in the water behind him. It might be the sound of the water rippling over the rocks and sparkling in the last of the evening light.

I do know that it is a great place to be. It is a great place to reflect and slow down the pace of life. As we came up the bank and out of the trees we were greeted with a beautiful sunset. It was the most perfect way to cap off the day.

IMG_3979 End of Day

This weekend may you find a place, hidden away from the world, that you can stop, reflect and slow down just a bit and feel the blessing.

“Many men go fishing all their lives
without knowing 
it’s not the fish they are after.”
Henry David Thoreau

Celebrations and Community

IMG_3928 Golden Anniversary Cake

Last week was a week that was extremely busy with a variety of things to do. My husband and I walked beans, I washed a lot (did I say a lot?) of old pop bottles, we brewed a batch of homemade root beer and I had to make 7 sheet cakes for an anniversary.

The sheet cakes take time and by the end of the day I am tired…but they are kind of fun to make.  There is a lot of satisfaction in seeing them all lined up when they have been baked, frosted and decorated.

These cakes were for a couple in our church who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. They had decided to celebrate by serving cake to the congregation after the morning service. The last couple years, people in our church are starting to do more of this rather than the traditional open house.

I think it is a really neat idea when someone decides to celebrate their major life events by sharing that special time with the church community. In our area that always includes food of some type. I am not sure if it is a Dutch heritage type of thing or just something we do in the Midwest.

Sharing with the church family creates such an atmosphere of community and fellowship. It is a blessing to watch people in our church basement, eating cake, drinking coffee and juice, and visiting together. The laughter and hugs of people reconnecting is something to see and even better to be a part of.

Watching Psalm 133:1 (How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!) play out before your eyes is truly a wondrous thing. People talking and children running around their parents and grandparents is a beautiful sight.

I think that often we don’t realize how much a smile or hug can impact someone else.  We don’t always see that there are lots of lonely people in the middle of a crowd. It is good to draw others in and encourage them…it is good to make sure everyone feels like they have a part to play in community. Relationships can be messy….but so rewarding.

I have a friend, Jackie, who once told us, “Be the pebble.” I would encourage you to all be the pebble. Toss yourself into the pond of someone’s life. Create some ripples in the lives of those around you. When you do…..watch for the blessing.

 

“I alone cannot change the world,
but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 

― Mother Teresa

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” 
― Dorothy DayThe Long Loneliness:
The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reliving My Youth

IMG_3929 Root Beer Making Supplies.JPG

This past weekend my husband and I did something that brought back memories of my youth, and also memories of us being young parents with three little boys.  What we did was decide it was time to brew some homemade root beer!

A couple things combined to make us decide it was time to give it a try again. My son built us this awesome rack to hold our brewing bottles of pop. We also are helping host a baby celebration for the upcoming birth of our newest grandson. We decided it would be kind of fun to have homemade root beer as one of the beverages.

IMG_3942 New Pop Bottle Rack

 

Somehow during the years, since we last made root beer, we had managed to bury the bottles and equipment in a back corner of the garage. My husband dug out the crates and boxes of bottles from that back corner, and I spent an entire afternoon cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning those bottles. I was never so glad to own a bottle brush, as that afternoon!

The bottles, themselves, brought back lots of memories for me. As a kid, my Aunt Jean always brewed root beer. We begged and pleaded with my mom to give it a try also. My siblings and I spent countless hours going through ditches, looking for glass pop bottles. (This was in the days before the nickel deposit for bottles….and long before pop cans.)

Once we had amassed enough bottles, my dad purchased a bottle capper and we were set to go. That root beer was some of the best around on a hot summer day. When we were kids; pop was a luxury and our folks didn’t purchase pop very often, so we savored every sip we took. It always had a slightly yeasty taste but we thought it was wonderful.

When our sons were small we inherited the bottles and the capper. Through the years we also gathered more bottles to add to the collection. The bottles ranged from 7 ounce bottles to 32 ounce bottles. It is kind of fun to see where those bottles come from. Places like Fort Dodge, Ia, Spirit Lake, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, Mississippi, and who knows where! It is rather like a collage of old pop bottles.

IMG_3939 Bottle Hodgepodge.JPG

Our sons fondly remember drinking ice cold homemade root beer on steamy summer days. My husband and I remember, not quite as fondly, the sound of a bottle blowing up in the middle of the night during the brewing phase.

The sound of a bottle blowing is slightly like hearing a cannon go off. At that time we lived on a different acreage and had the bottles brewing on their sides, on the steps in the upstairs stairwell. It took a long time to get the sticky, sugary root beer scrubbed off those stairwell walls. I do remember it smelled wonderfully to root beer for a long time.

This time my husband and I decided we should fill bottles in the garage as we could hose off the floor if we spilled too much. It worked great and was kind of a fun thing to do again. We ended up with 70+ bottles of root beer.

The real test will be at the end of this week when we do the taste test on a bottle. Hopefully, it is as good as we remember!  I have a feeling this is an acquired taste as this root beer always tastes a little yeasty. I guess there is a great reason it tastes that way; as yeast is what is used to carbonate homemade root beer.

I am hoping that the first sip will bring back memories of years past. Memories of time spent drinking root beer with cousins, time spent making root beer with our sons and new memories to be made with family and friends.

When I was looking for quotes on homemade root beer (and not finding any!) I discovered that August 6, 2017 is National Root Beer Float Day in the United States!  How amazingly cool is it that? That is the day of our baby celebration complete with homemade root beer for root beer floats.

“Life has an odd way of making things work out in the end.”
Unknown

“…root beer floats are the stuff that toasts are made of.” 
― Sandra D. Bricker,
If the Shoe Fits

  I am editing this post to add the recipe I used.  I had a request to do that so here it is:

Homemade Root Beer
1- 2 ounce bottle Root Beer Extract (I used Schilling)
 5 gallons water
5 pounds white sugar
1 large teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Put the yeast in the cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon of sugar
Mix the extract with the rest of the sugar
Pour the rest of the water into a large bucket (not metal)
Add the sugar/extract mixture
Add the yeast mixture
Stir well
Bottle in clean sterilized glass pop bottles.
Cap with bottle caps (can get these from bottling companies).
Put bottles on their side in a warm place for 2-4 days.
Move to a cool place to store.
Chill well before serving.

 

 

 

Pictures of the Day

Old Glory

I had planned to get a post out much sooner that this! Sometimes, life just gets really busy….in a very good way. Family and special days like the 4th of July come along and blogging gets put on the back burner. Throw a wedding in the mix and the weekend gets very busy!

I thought I would share some of the photos that make up our annual 4th of July celebration. I come from a family that is very solid in their American values….God, Family and Country. Freedom is a concept that is firmly embraced and celebrated with everything from bubbles to fireworks.

Time to Blow a Few Bubbles for the Dog to Chase

My granddaughter found a great way to pass the time while the adults visited and caught up with each others’ lives. There is always lots of laughter, good-natured teasing and hugs when this bunch of people get together. This is a holiday that is a bridge that draws our groups of family and friends together….it is a meeting place that we can count on at least once a year.

Building Sand Castles on the Beach

We also found that spending time on the small beach was so much fun. The water was so cold, the day was hot; so it was a great mix.  Whenever you mingle sand, sunny days, water and kids you have a sure winner for a great morning.

Walking Past Arnold’s Park With Grandpa

Time To Imitate The Statues

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day is filled with eating, boat rides, swimming, eating some more, sharing recipes, laughing, eating again, walking to the Emporium for snacks, and of course the fireworks display at the end of the day. They have one of the best firework shows in our area and it has become a family ritual.

My grandkids thought the bottom photo looked like a firework rainbow. They were in awe of the loud booms that sounded like cannons echoing across the lake. The shore line was alive with people sending up bottle rockets and patriotic music was piped through local radio stations. The songs were synchronized with the fireworks.

We did have to sit through a drizzle type rain but it was well worth it and most people stayed for the entire show. I think it was because we knew when the Grand Finale was over…..so was our holiday with family and friends.

Arnold’s Park at Night

The day ended as it had begun…..hugs, smiles, and seeing our flag waving  in the breeze. It was an amazing day (as always) and was even better because of who we spent it with. I hope you enjoyed a day that was fulfilling and fun all rolled into one!

 

 

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle,
but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees,
the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.
You may think you have overeaten,
but it is patriotism.
~Erma Bombeck

 

 

The Wonder of Birds

IMG_3722 (2) Kestrel

Baby Kestrel

 

This morning brought a rare treat for me. For some reason, unknown even to me, I really like kestrels. I have no idea why I find these little hawks fascinating but I do.

My husband was outside for a bit, this morning, and suddenly came back to the house. He told me to follow him and bring my camera. He would not tell me why, he only assured me that I would not be sorry.

I found my shoes, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door after him. After being married to this man for nearly 37 years I have learned to trust him when he tells me to follow.

We went down to what used to be the hog house/lambing shed. Once we got there my husband looked really disappointed. He showed me a cinder block that a baby kestrel had been perched on just a few minutes before.

We stood there a bit and started to look around to see if the little bird had hopped somewhere else. (We weren’t sure if he even knew how to fly.) We found the little kestrel hiding under a roll of woven wire that stood next to the building.

I moved in to take a few pictures, which did not make the little kestrel happy at all!  It was pretty sunny and that also made it hard to get a good photo.

We disturbed him enough that he did fly to another outbuilding, which answered the question of his flying ability.  We stood and watched a bit, and heard him calling to his parents who were flying overhead.

I went back to work in the house and it didn’t take long before my husband came to the door again with the same request…..follow him and bring the camera. This time he had spotted a pair of Baltimore Orioles bringing food to their babies in the nest.

IMG_3735 (2) Papa Oriole

Baltimore Orioles

 

It is always amazing to me how they build those sac-like nests. It is also amazing to me that those baby birds don’t get motion sickness when those branches are swinging during the windstorms that we have.

Those nests are so hard to see when the leaves are full on the trees. My husband said the only way he spotted it was by watching to see where mom and dad Oriole landed each time. (If you look closely the nest is the brownish blob beneath the male Oriole.) You could also plainly hear the baby birds begging for food every time a parent landed with lunch.

It was an amazing way to break up the chores of the morning. To stand in the sun and watch the birds. It really was a treat to be so close to a small kestrel. I loved knowing that the kestrel pair had successfully hatched and raised at least this one baby.

I am so blessed to be married to a man who loves the outdoors and loves to share it with me. I have seen so many beautiful things because of him. It is a wonderful thing to be able to stand with him and just watch the birds…..and the next time he comes to the door and tells me to bring the camera and follow him….I will!

“Everywhere we look….
the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.”
Van Gogh

The Best Laid Plans…….

IMG_3712

 

Sometimes things don’t always turn out how you think they will when you make a plan. I am not sure if anyone else ever has this issue…..but I seem to run into that rule more often than I like.

Let me back up here a little. The next weekend/week are going to be busy for us over here. We have a wedding of a nephew that we need to attend this coming weekend. Family from four states will be coming this direction for the wedding and there is lots of planning to be done.

We want to gather as often as possible, so meals are being planned, there is housecleaning, baking, cleaning some more, bedding to be washed, lawn to be mowed, cleaning, field work to finish, weeding, and of course some more cleaning.

There probably wouldn’t be so much cleaning….but I would rather be outside than inside so now I am hitting crunch time to catch up on all the stuff I let go while I was outside. There are also some projects that I have been hinting I would like done. (I think I need to do more than hint…..) One of those projects involve a chair.

In a bedroom upstairs there is a chair that I have wanted to get rid of long ago. As of two days ago it was still there. Yesterday, I as I was putting clean sheets on the beds, I stood and looked at that chair. I looked again at the chair, I assessed the doorways, I pondered on the stairwell and decided I could get that chair out of there myself.

I put the chair on its side as it was too wide to make it through the doorway. That worked great! My confidence was boosted. Through one more doorway and I was at the top of the stairs. I found if I stayed on the step above the chair I could ease it down step by step to the landing.

Things were progressing wonderfully up to this point. The chair and I negotiated the 90 degree turn on the landing and started our way down step by careful step. I discovered that gravity is a wonderful thing when trying to get a chair down the steps. In looking back…I realize that might have just been an illusion!

I was incredibly impressed with myself….right up until the legs of the chair became firmly wedged in the doorframe at the bottom of the stairwell. No matter how much I tugged, pulled, pushed, coaxed, pleaded and sweat glistened, would that chair budge.  (It was kind of reminiscent of giving birth…..)

Another problem soon became evident.  I was stuck on the stairwell above the chair. My husband was outside and would never hear me holler for assistance as he was hooking up a cultivator to a running tractor. It was time to once again assess the situation.

I decided I could possibly stick my left leg over the chair and carefully feel for the steps below the chair. I started that maneuver and half way through it realized that there was really no way my legs were that long. I also realized that never in my life, have I ever been able to do the splits and this was not a good time to try them again.

I finally managed to get my left foot on a step, while firmly (or should I say frantically) hanging onto the doorframe. I still had one issue….my right foot was stuck, higher than my waist, up on the chair. It was so sad…..I actually had to use my hand to unhook my foot. In my defense….there is only so far a woman my age can stretch and only so long you can keep your foot at a level somewhere between your waist and head.

When looking at the chair from the bottom angle I realized I should have started with the other end of the chair. I briefly wondered if I could get it turned around and try again. I had an entire conversation with myself over that idea and decided against it as I did not want to get stuck on the steps above that chair again!

I wandered outside to find my husband. I told him the problem, told him there was no hurry as that chair wasn’t going anywhere on it’s own and then did some other things while I waited for his help.

I should have had the camera and got a picture of the look on his face when he saw the chair wedged on the stairs…..then again….maybe that wouldn’t have been a good idea. It was kind of a look that alternated between a cringe and wonderment at how his wife managed to get a chair stuck like that.

I am happy to report the chair is released from the stairwell and nothing (and no one) was damaged in the incident.

So…..now this has me wondering…..how has your week been going? Tell me I am not the only one to end up doing stuff like this!

(I just could not resist the first quote! I laughed out loud when I read it because, I should have read it before my journey down the steps with that chair!)

“That’s a horrible plan.”
“Yes, but I have chosen to ignore that.”
Christopher Moore, Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art   

 

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Winston S. Churchill