When the last test of finals week is taken, and I find extra time on my hands for the first time in months, there’s only one thing to do: bake! Long class days are always conductive to formulating long lists of recipes I’d like to try, and when I go on break there are plenty of helpers ready to assist. Waiting for the cookies to cool and a block of time to frost them was a major test of patience for the youngest ones, but we were able to manage the entire process with no melt downs. Alexander is growing into the role of family helper, and guiding the youngest hands in creating small white faces. Daniel and Dominic worked hard to decorate carefully, as picturesque cookies were promised a place on the blog. Sweet memories!
“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”
A friend’s wedding took the family to the west side of the state in late September. The beautiful fall scenery in the rolling hills and jagged rock formations brought a wonderful rest from schoolwork, as we fit our entire trip between my weekday school schedule. (Thanks, Dad, for driving till four in the morning to get me home for Monday classes!) We brought home a multitude of pictures, and here are a few teaser pictures until I have time to sort them all.
Benjamin in the Badlands.
At last, it all makes sense; Joseph is a wild hoofed animal at heart. His first instinct when he saw the pronghorn antlers on the kids table at Wind Cave:
Almost all the family-Landon stayed home to take care of schoolwork, and Maria is the photographer. This is at Wind Cave national park.
At my first clinical back at the hospital for the semester, I was worried that I would have lost some of my skills so rigorously practiced the year before. Instead, I watched myself spoke a new bag of saline fluids and hang it smoothly, finishing an IV setup after barely thinking about it. A year ago, I was all thumbs the moment you handed me a piece of medical equipment.
Senior status. Definitely ‘feelin’ it’. To use a very distinguished collegiate expression.
how we styled and posed a photo with ten kids
- We chose three colors when finding outfits, two neutrals and a standout color: blue, grey, and Mustard yellow.
- We gave the baby a photo friendly prop to play with (in this case it happened to be a yellow corncob)
- 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
- We placed the children in reverse order of behavability: shoes who could stand still longest went in first.
My brothers will inform you that I am not easy to startle or fool. I don’t blink at rubber tarantulas on my shoulder, or plastic cockroaches in my closet. I do usually double check plastic lego spiders, but I’m usually suspicious. So, I must give credit to some mischievous rascal who wound this through the leaves of the garden. I didn’t realize it was made of wood until I was taking a picture before it got away.
Daniel later confessed. When questioned for a motive, he replied, “I wanted to scare someone.”
The last day of the fair was marked by steamy, 95 degree temperatures, but Maria, Johnathan and I were invited to spend the day with some friends. In an amazing show of bravery, Mom faced the heat and ventured out with the younger kids as well.
There were rides:
An lots of animals, including my Mom’s dream pet, miniature horses:
But after all the sights had been seen, everyone was very, very worn out. The heat was sweltering, and it was hard for the little ones to stand in the sun for long. Cheeks all around were flushing, and Alexander went completely red.
But not too overheated for silliness, as soon as the camera’s presence was known:
Benjamin was much to interested in playing with straws in the slushy cup to notice the heat.
So many flushing faces called for rehabilitation by the ice cream method. A stop to the homemade ice cream booth did not disappoint, though in the heat we quickly were slurping milkshakes.
And then it was time to go home.
The sun’s bedtime is retreating rapidly. Cicada symphonies perform in the dusky evenings, and every once in a while I spot a tree with bronzing tips. Still, August managed to catch me by surprise. (Although I’m not sure it feels like it is time for any month-except perhaps March and April.)
My desk and all my schoolbooks are now arranged, and I’ve started reviewing last year’s notes. The darker evenings are perfect for studies along with a cup of tea. For much of the summer I have been hoping the break would not end too soon, but now I am impatient to get started. Just this one last year stands between me and graduation, and I’m excited to get my footing in the nursing field.
The weather is beautiful, and some of the younger brothers and I have been taking advantage of it by moving story time outside. Joseph has discovered the magic of Edith Nesbit’s Five Children and It series, and Daniel loves Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. Cooler evenings put me in a baking mood, so they have also been helping me taste test several new recipes. So far, carrot muffins have been the favorite.
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.
Teaching the first few dance classes of a term feels like stepping onto a tightrope on a blustery day. Much hangs in the balance, but it’s almost impossible to know ahead of time how to adjust for the environment. The first steps are rough. A few tries are required to get a feel for the needs of the students, and judge their abilities and personalities. I must work to earn their trust and find the balance between criticism and praise for each of them.
New faces line up towards me. Some eyes timid, others wander. One girl is focused, another restless. Sometimes a furrowed brow questions and and challenge. “I don’t understand. You are asking the too much of me!” I work with the dancer for a moment, with several explanations, but nothing works and frustration grows.
I step into another class, and a different group of students. These are much younger, and I find them squealing with glee as their skirts twirl. I smile, but we must train as well as spin. I line them up for exercises, but immediately they lose interest. Summer classes are especially difficult, full of first-time ballerinas.
I’m almost desperate, and we sit on the floor to stretch, always a useful activity for refocusing. I stretch tiny ankles, and something pops in my head I’ve never tried before. In a sing-song voice, I say “Banana feet!” as I stretch the child’s toes into an impressive point. A giggle is the response. “Banana feet!” I sing again
An empty patio at a local ice cream shop, ten empty minutes waiting for our order, and an overhead radio playing thirties swing music – ingredients, as anyone can see, for a spontaneous dance party.
The evening was calm and quiet, as it was only ten minutes till closing. Maria, John and I started the festivities with a Jitterbug step, and it didn’t take long to draw in the younger siblings. Landon, Maria, and I have been ballroom dancing for a years, taking lessons with our homeschool group. Johnathan is much more recent learner, but already is able to hold the rhythm and spin his partner like a pro. The younger children are good imitators and the resulting scene looked like an organized dance floor. We even caught the attention of a few of the other customers-and spied few a trying to imitate our moves.