Misc- Christmas

“In twenty years, we’re going to need to rent the events center to hold a tree to fit everything underneath”-Landon (The Christmas spoils included many sibling gifts to each other, so the stack formed a small mountain this year).

“The wine glass is for you Mom, because I broke your other one”


Large Family Photography

how we styled and posed a photo with ten kids

  1. We chose three colors when finding outfits, two neutrals and a standout color: blue, grey, and Mustard yellow.
  2. We gave the baby a photo friendly prop to play with (in this case it happened to be a yellow corncob)
  3. We looked for natural staging for added height difference. As the older kids have gotten taller, spacing is not as easy as when everyone was clearly different heights according to age. A picnic table worked well in this scene, giving us three layers.  if everyone had been standing, it would have looked more like this picture, which gets the job done but doesn’t look as natural
  4. We placed the children in reverse order of behavability: shoes who could stand still longest went in first.

Our Favorite Underrated Educational Activities in the Midwest

The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, IA. In an unknown Iowa town, this beautiful work of art is built of semi-precious rocks.

Railroad Museum, Council, Bluffs, IA . The Henry Doorly Zoo gets all the credit in nearby Omaha, which is not surprising since it ranks one of the top zoos nation wide. However, my family also enjoyed this lesser known museum in Council Bluffs, IA. It was free and child friendly, and perfect for all the young boys in the family.

University of Nebraska Museum of Natural History– Lincoln, NE. This amazing museum featured three floors of animal exhibits, science displays, and fossils. The enormous woolly mammoth fossils were exceptional. Far from boring, even the youngest kids were riveted throughout the exhibits.

Ashfall Fossil Beds is one destination I haven’t seen myself, but reports from friends place this high on my to-do list.

Steamboat Arabia in Kansas City, MO. shows a slice of life in the post war pioneer frontier. Perfectly preserved artifacts from this sunken supply ship were fascinating, and on the job archeologists are at work and available for questions.

Summer Days

Sweltering heat and humidity set in at the beginning of the week, setting the mood for the transition into late summer. Another month and I’ll be making final preparations for the school year, a fact I’m trying not to think about longer than needed. For now, I’m relishing every minute of watermelon, campfires and summer sun-when I’m not occupied by waiting tables.

I started as a waitress all the way back in January, but I’m only just beginning to be really good at it. I am learning that most things are harder than they look, and I’ve been amazed by the amount of multitasking skills required. Balancing a thousand tasks at once is definitely not one of my strengths, but I have been slowly improving in ways to remember and organize multiple areas.

Interacting with so many people has also presented new challenges. I have had to  focusing on ways to make quick connections and conversations with total strangers from every background imaginable. Now I am starting to build a stockpile of topics (Are you from town? Busy day?) and tricks (I will stare directly at you until you finally make eye contact with me, and then I will smile so cheerfully to find out if you are friendly, so I can chat with you, or if you want me to leave you alone, and I will go away as soon as possible).

The family is bustling with even more activity than usual, between ongoing construction projects and trying to keep up with the baby and two puppies (a seven month old collie and a three month old Golden Retriever) who seem to spend most of the day trying to outdo each other in their escapades. Benjamin is also on his way to setting the record for earliest talker in the family, even thwarting attempts to teach him sign language. I once demonstrated the the word ‘outside’ when he was waiting by the door, and after a few moments of thought, said “out-ite” with a twinkle in his eyes.