Saturday, July 30, 2011

French - Video

Of course, the proper way to learn french is up on a table, inside a box. Naturally. Is there any other way?
They know some words!

Fire & Update

Today we ran to Walmart to pickup a few food items for Brian's friends. They eat a lot of food while playing Catan:-) Driving into the parking lot I said "Is that a fire?" Sure enough, it was a fire on the median! What on earth?! It looked like maybe someone dumped a dark substance on the mulch stuff, and the heat of the sun literally fired it up. Brian tried to extinguish it by piling more mulch on over the top, but it didn't stop it, in fact, he was stomping out about 8" flames! Kenna and I ran into the store to have them tell their security, and they came out with water to put it out and monitor it. Random happenings!
Burning through the mulch we piled up on top. Janessa said we smelled like a campfire when we got home!

Today, also,our neighbour Larry (the tree incident) passed away from his injuries. There is a hope that he accepted Christ as Saviour back in May, when another neighbour was sharing with him. There will be no funeral, but we will attend a small gathering next Saturday in his honour. We pray for his family and hope we see him in heaven someday!

Oh that Smile!!!

Reading a book at Kenna's desk

there it is!

Goofy grin - still adorable

Handsome & Shaggy
Baby Blues

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3D Fail

Brian and I had a date this week, thanks to our in-house babysitter, Janessa!! We decided to go see Captain America, but the only showing at the times we could go was in 3D. We decided to give it try...but we weren't impressed. Perhaps we are too old for things like this:-)

I kept thinking of the mosquito in Bee Movie (Chris Rock's voice) "HOW MUCH DO YOU PEOPLE NEED TO SEE?". Isn't it enough that its a ginormous screen? We were pessimistically optimistic that we'd like it.

Not so much. It made the perspectives all "off", and kept on making us go cross eyed. It was very strange, and we wished at the end we could have seen it in the regular way. The "bonus" was the ultra cool glasses you get to wear. Brian informed me that I looked like the old man from Disney's Up.

cute little bug!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Memorial

A night to remember. It started out memorable enough too...we went out to dinner some friends, and had a great time! They picked 4 restaurants we had never been to, and we "appetizer hopped". Super fun! We hit up 4 totally different and amazing places and ate ate ATE! It was such a fun idea and we had such a good time! We were talking and laughing, and had already paid at the last place (hence, almost ready to go), when my phone rang.

Janessa: uhhhh, there is a truck on your lawn
Me: What? What do you mean?
Janessa: There is a truck on your lawn! And all your neighbours are out!
Me: Ok! We're leaving now!...(lots more questions and my instructing her to stay in the house and lock the doors)

We called a few more times to touch base with her...police are here, firetrucks, paramedics...that's just means the neighbours called 911. We were all the way at the "popular beach", so about 20-30 mins from home.

When we reached home, we knew something was drastically wrong. Our house was completely taped off with yellow tape. We talked to the police man guarding the tape line (there were no less than 7 police cars or suv's there!), and he would not let us through. He said everything was fine and we didn't need to worry...and we couldn't go home for another hour at least. GREAT. I'm worried, mister!!

If you know where we live, you know it's a pretty quiet cul de sac neighbourhood. We don't have to worry about cars racing through the streets. There is no thru-traffic, just our little circle. So envisioning how on earth a truck could get onto our lawn was a little disturbing.

We drove to a friends a mile away for a potty break (too much eating!), and then tried back home, this time going around the far side of the cul de sac. We found that they hadn't taped off through to the back of our yard (we have a weird shaped lot), so we parked on the street and went in through the back door.

It was then that we got a look at this huge truck (a big Dodge Ram) backwards completely wrapped around our large oak tree. The kids swing was up in the bed of the truck. Their toys, that they played with just hours before, were laying all around, some under the truck.

We waited until it seemed to slow down out there, and we went outside to get a closer look at the situation and talk to the police. We stepped into the front yard.

Me: Do you see that?
Brian: no what
Me: look at all that blood, oh my goodness

...there was blood pouring out of the passenger side (door was open). The police officers had been searching around the yard with flashlights. As we stand there by the truck staring in awe at all the blood, an officer picks up a gun from our lawn, and puts it in a bag.


We have to move now. That was seriously my first thought. Brian and I just looked at each other, almost expressionless. That was a gun!

As more and more of the police left and everything, some of the neighbours came out, so we asked them what they knew. We were more than a little freaked out that there had been a shooting on our property!

As it turns out, it was our neighbour Larry, he lives directly across the cul de sac from us. His driveway about exactly lines up with our tree. The police said they were searching for a suicide note, but could not find one.

He either purposefully or accidentally shot himself, and it would appear that he tried to perhaps get to the hospital...getting in the truck, throwing it in reverse and perhaps loosing consciousness with the foot on the gas he ran hard and fast into the first thing that stopped him. Our tree.

Initial reports are that he is not dead, but was in surgery. He apparently suffered a gun shot wound to the head, according to witnesses. How the gun ended up on our lawn is perhaps a mystery...but maybe not. We speculate, based on witnesses stories...Our neighbour was allowed in the home, as she knew him a little, to help look for a suicide note. There was no blood in the house. There was blood on the driveway by the passengers side. Brian and I speculate that he accidentally shot himself while loading or unloading the gun from perhaps his glovebox. Panicked. Tried to get help/a hospital. There is no blood on his drivers side of the driveway, so he likely climbed in the truck from where he stood. When the doors were opened on our lawn, the gun probably fell out of the truck (it was on the ground near the passengers side).

I should also mention that this is not an official report from the police, but just the story from the witnesses (neighbours). The police told us that all they could say was that a man did something which resulted in him crashing into our tree.

There is also blood on our lawn, which the police volunteered that the fire dept could clean for us in the daylight, but we said we could handle it. He gave us instructions for bleaching and burying it.

Sorry it's kind of a long story!!! A few things to be grateful for - God's hand of protection. Being a mom, I am pretty much acutely aware of this everyday. Like how they didn't choke on the penny they found, or how they didn't break their arm falling, etc.

But let me tell you, there is nothing like a completely out of the box dramatic situation to REALLY remind you of His loving kindness and tender mercies.

If this happened during the day, I could be planning 3 little funerals right now.

If we didn't have that huge tree there, his truck would have smashed right into our home...right into Brooks' room on the wall his bed is against

There are countless ways that this situation could have turned badly for us, the "innocent ones" in the situation. How do you prepare to protect yourself from a car careening out of control? Not that we should ever live in fear of the many what-ifs in life. But we can be grateful when we notice the hand of God's protection at work.

There are things like this all through life, and we need to remember them. Reference Joshua 4. The Lord told the people to make a memorial, out of stones. So that when their children ask "what do these stones mean?", they will tell the story, and remember the lessons learned/the situation they were in etc. We should endeavour to set up memorials for our children, always. So that they can look back over their lives and see the hand of God. Actually see his faithfulness. They will have little room to doubt, because they can look back and tangibly see the times that God has brought them through. This is the kind of thing that bolsters faith and increases it. I have many such memorials, and I hope that one day, my children will be telling their children. Showing them. That they serve a powerful, risen Saviour. And He is able. End of story. He is able.

We now have a tree that bears a pretty hefty scar to remind us that God is in control. We live and breathe to do His will, and so we strive.

The back end of the truck was wrapped around our tree.
There is glass and debris everywhere.
The tail light. Made quite a flight after impact.
That is bark, debris, and a Dodge Ram tailgate ornament.
Part of his back window is in the crook of the tree
The path he took

After he hit the tree, the tires were still spinning, gouging out deep rivets in the dirt

After all the drama, lets remember our neighbour, whose night probably did not end as he expected. We are all safe and none the worse for wear, but he is not so blessed right now. I have no idea if he is still alive, hopefully we'll find out news on that soon. If he lives, I am sure his life will never be the same. Larry is 67, recently retired, and could use our prayers.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Brooks has the honour of being the most photogenic member of the family. Perhaps tied for first with Brian, but Brooks is just cuter:-)
He looks like his Mommy! Only Mommy is much less photogenic!
...and he has super stretchy skin!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Favourite Things

One of my favourite things to do is to find ways to make my own version of popular products or food I would normally buy. I really just love the challenge, seeing if it works out, and saving money, generally, as opposed to buying the real thing. I really find it fun! Here are a few highlights of some of my faves!

A knock-off Sonic drink - HERE - it's super yummy, and a pretty good replication. ADORE.

An Olive Garden soup - it's really really good...and even better if using a rotisserie chicken. Chicken & Gnocchi soup

And who doesn't love a hostess cupcake! Try these Fauxstess Cupcakes! Brian thought they were really good, so that is ultimately how I know if something has worked out. I am much less particular.

I "cheated" - I only used the recipe for the filling and the topping. I used a Double Fudge Duncan Hines Cake mix for the cake part. Delish!
The filling called for Marshmallow Fluff - and I didn't have any! Google to the rescue! Here's another do it yourself - Marshmallow Fluff - HOW EASY!

Gently heat 16 ounces of marshmallows plus 1/4 cup corn syrup in a double boiler, stirring constantly; 10 large marshmallows = 1 C miniature marshmallows.

I didn't even use a double boiler, I heated all in microwave for 1 min until puffy, and stirred until completely melted and smooth. A marvelous substitution and save me a trip to the store!
Oh yes, they taste AWESOME!
No recipe here...but we like to make our own Egg McMuffin sandwiches. For my last birthday Brian bought me a couple nice new pans, and one of them came with 2 silicone egg forms. So now we have perfectly round eggs for our yummy sandwiches:-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heart Songs

I just heard this song for the first time, and I really like it! I laughed at the "sing all the wrong words to my favourite songs" because that is SO Brian and I. Of course I am the one doing the singing, and have very little care or concern for the accuracy or nonsensical-ness of what I am saying. Just belt it out. Naturally, he is the one laughing..."no wonder the kids never sing anything right". :-D


Today I had my annual obgyn appointment, (I know, I know tmi!!, but I have to put the story in context!), so I met with one of the midwives (not one that has ever delivered any of my kids), since they are all apart of the same practice. I'm somewhat "famous" there...not that one really desires fame in the particular area of birthing babies (gross). But I suppose it's my lot in life, so hey, I'll take what I can get! Brooks still holds the record for the quickest birth at the birthing center, I believe! And Grey's complications were a midwives worst nightmare apparently. But they love me! Jennifer asked how the baby was doing, and of course I said fine, he's walking, talking, etc.

She said "you better kiss that little face everyday, because he was seconds away from heaven" and telling me again how incredibly rare his birth complications were.

We love our little boy so much! We don't take for granted that we are able to kiss that adorable little face and watch him grow! So I celebrated him by letting him sip on my ginormous Route 44 Sonic drink, he loved it, of course:-)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Crime and Punishment

{In our family, we have chosen to keep our kids out of the "jr church" program, until they turn 4 years old. This is for a variety of reasons, but the main one being, we desire our children to learn how to be quiet, attentive, and still...just generally exhibiting the quality of self control from a young age, and we seize this opportunity as a good chance to teach it. Once they are 4, and only if I feel they are able to handle themselves in a mature manner, they are allowed to go to the "big kids" church. So Brooks is new to the jr church experience. And he has someone to tell on him}

In our "how was church" conversations on the way home, Kenna reported that Brooks was made to sit on the quiet chair because he was not paying attention. Brooks explained that he couldn't pay attention because his friend was distracting him.

I explained that if he could not sit with his friends and have self control, then he would have to sit away from them in the future. And also that he would have to apologize to the childrens pastor for not being attentive during class. He agreed this was a good discipline, and we talked of ways of making next week better. Because we don't want to lose the privilege of going to "big kids church":-)

So in the evening, when we were back at church, Brooks tearfully apologized for not paying attention. It was actually super cute, and I could tell he didn't want to do it, but he did it! Time will tell if that is a lesson learned, or if further work on his little self-control will be needed:-)

Piano Lessons - Video

Kenna adores her piano lessons. She only started at the end of June, I think she'll be attending her 5th lesson on Wed, so this is her beginning progress, thus far. Like a good mom (pretending I know nothing of music myself), I sent her off to lessons with no knowledge of counting, notes, measures, etc. So she really has actually picked up quite a bit in a few weeks! These are her real practice pieces, but sometime when she's "in the mood" I'll have to capture the theatrics of her made up pieces;-)

Bedroom Sneak Peak

Kenna's bedroom is coming along. Brian has been extremely busy, so we haven't bothered him yet with hanging the rod system to suspend the curtains from, so that part is going slowly (also he needs to put one bunk bed up on top of the other!), BUT, we've got most of the wall decals in place...we still have a bunch left, and will wait for bunkbeds & curtains in place before we fill in any gaps!
They are very pretty!

It was time to get the dress and baby shoes out of the boys room, where they were still hanging as decor! The dress is so itty bitty, and yet, it used to be big on her!
In other news, we are also ready for school! All our books have been either ordered or purchased, and we are amassing crayons, pencils, composition books, etc! A new topic this year...FRENCH. We've already begun with our first of 100 words, Papa, Maman, la fille, le garcon, le bebe, le chien and le chat! (That's Dad, Mom, girl, boy, baby, dog, cat). I'm working on getting their accents accurate!
Here's some fun decor on our school caddy
And some cuteness on Kenna's desk too!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Waiting to load the carseats into another vehicle...perfect chance to snap a few pics!
Look, a leaf!

He's getting into the goofy smile stage

Chewing on grass

Such a cute, shaggy little head!

Another shaggy one!

"So this is what Farmers do when they're hungry, I guess. Right?"

Demo Day!

Today we had a unique opportunity (since we are in no way military), to go see a Seal team demonstration. So neat! I took lots of video, but I'm not sure if it's prudent to post things like that online, so erring on the side of caution, you'll have to believe me that it was cool! We saw bombs/explosives go off, shooting, a sniper, helicopter extractions, and lots more, it was neat for the kids to experience!

Since we needed to get on base, and didn't have enough room in our friends truck (with military tags) to all sit inside, I got to do something I've never done before...ride in the back of a truck. Like a total hillbilly! (It's not illegal here). And Brian was working, or he might have had the honour (or joined me, we still would have been short seats!) Anyhoo. It was really fun.
Driving away from the back of the truck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dance Moves - Video

I do realize I may be posting a nauseating amount of video footage of my hopefully adorable children:-D This one is simply too cute not to watch. Grey is getting into the groove! He loves to bop his shoulders, stomp his feet, and spin to the music! We've been loving laughing at his little bee-bops:-) Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tortoise and the Hare - Video

Brooks wanted me to videotape him "right now", doing his Tortoise and the Hare act. Similar to Kenna's Jack and the Beanstalk, only more indecipherable:-)


Nothing makes me happier than an organized pantry.
Actually...lots of things make me happier, but this makes me happy enough! It seems like it needs to be re-done (organized and sorted) on a weekly basis. But we settle for a monthly or semi-monthly basis around here:-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Swimming - Video

Preschool Aquatics Level 1 is half over now (5 of 8 lessons completed). I am hoping to get Preschool Aquatics Level 2 finished in August too! They both LOVE it. Kenna is completely fearless and does everything with gusto. Brooks does everything required, but cautiously. His body motions remind me of my brother Jared as a kid. Nervous, and not wanting to be pushed to do it, but will do it on his own time. He does love it though, and looks forward to lessons. As you can see in the video, we are working on his definition of "face in the water". Today he went under in the bathtub (on purpose!) for 5 seconds. So he's getting it! Let me tell you, for $30 per kid (for 8 lessons), it has to be about the best $60 I have ever spent - they talk about it constantly, love it, can't wait to go etc! Such a positive experience for my water babies:-)

Getting ready for lessons!

Popping up out of the water, her fave!

The cute kick boards!
Learning how to float on their backs and kick! They both ended up jammed up against the wall:-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Frisbee - Video

We went to the beach as a family with our good friends the Simmons! Brian dunked all of us (argh!). I hate salt water in my mouth, big time! We had so much fun! Brian, Josh & Brooks played frisbee! Check out Brooks sweet skills!
The girls did not want to play frisbee:-)
Sarah, Morgan, Kenna & Hannah
As we were waiting for the Simmons to arrive for the beach day, we got a wonderful serenade duet of "Sweet Caroline". So cute!

Grey's Word Update

In May, Grey could only really say Dada and Cuh Cuh. And now he says so much! He doesn't put too many words together yet, other than Day Due Mommy, or ba ba Mommy. Or No No No No No:-) He doesn't say too much, but can definitely get his point across! We have a little family joke: Grey is perfect when he is doing exactly what he wants:-) Otherwise he can be a bit of a bear. Were working on lots of happy obedience and coming when called and things like that. Who tells toddlers it's "hilarious" to run away and laugh when they are called to come?
He fell asleep watching a show with Auntie Nessa
Day Due - Thank you
Dis Some - Want some
Wha dis? - What's this?
Nenna - Kenna
Beebee - Baby
Gwa Gwa - Grey Grey
Oh wow
My - Mine
Ba ba - Bottle
Cuh Cuh - Cookie
Go Go Go!
Boon - Balloon
Buh Bye
he barks for dogs, cats, squirrels, etc (he loves dogs!)
he says "caw caw" for birds

There could be a few more I'm not remembering. He's adding to his repertoire almost daily trying new words!
Running away from us at the beach...when he's supposed to be coming

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Short Story

This is a song that was written by my Uncle Greg. He was killed in an industrial accident at his summer job, when he was just 18 years old. I was seventeen months old, with a three week old baby brother. He died the morning of my mom's 22nd birthday. A tragedy for sure. He was a person full of life, and is dearly missed. My Grandma always had the printed lyrics, framed, hanging in her home.

What is Your Destiny?
Gregory Allan Shantz (Dec 20, 1961 - July 26, 1980)

What is your destiny?
Where are you bound?
Where are you going to?
What's there to be found?

But if you don't know where you're going
Or just where you've been
Jesus Christ is like a compass
He'll forgive you of your sin.

You say I can steer my own life
I don't need Christ as a friend.
I've got a job and security
But I say your life's a dead end.

I don't know what to think
I've had these lifetime goals
Wealth, a job, a house, a car.
But I know these don't save my soul.

Jesus I want to talk to You,
Thank You for everything.
Please forgive me of my sin,
I want You as my King.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Great Divide

The room divider for Kenna's room is coming along! This is the process I am doing. I will in no way claim this is the best way to accomplish this "dream". I am not a seamstress or artist. NEED: A way to divide a room. BUDGET: Almost nothing. HOW TO: Buy a huge canvas drop cloth from Home Depot for 29.99 (12x15), measure room and cut it down (there will be 3 panels). Wash it with some bleach. Trace the decals we bought for the walls on to transparencies and cut out.
Trace the shapes on to the canvas with a disappearing ink pen, then paint. It's a little time consuming, but it's going to be great!!
So, it looks pretty good right? We think so anyway (even Brian's impressed!). This is just one panel, and it still needs to be sewn/hemmed into a curtain. I don't want to do this until the curtain rod is hung, so I get the measurement just right. I figured with doing 3 panels, they will be easily moved out of the way to access the craft table or piano without moving the entire curtain aside. Can't wait to see how my vision for this thing will turn out! It can't possibly look worse than looking at all that "stuff" in Kenna's room! Little houses force all kinds of creativity on us, I suppose!
Side note - time for the semi annual raking of the pine needles. Have you ever heard me say how much I hate pine trees? I do. I do I do I do. Brian has been recently lamenting that he wishes gardening were my hobby. I say, excuse me, THAT is not gardening. It's raking leaves. No way. I'll never love it. In this case, I didn't even do it either:-), we had some Russian workers come over and knock it out. There are more than 60 huge bags. With astronomical numbers like that, I will echo Brian's lament back on him...why doesn't HE like "gardening"??