Friday, July 26, 2013

Learning chess

I have wanted to learn how to play chess for a long time but just assumed that it was too hard for me, or that I wouldn't have the time to learn. 

Meredith is always the first one up and she asked if I wanted her to teach me how to play chess one morning.  I hesitated, thinking that there was no way she would be able to teach me.  I've seen her play with her siblings but didn't think she would be able to teach someone else.  I decided to say yes and see where it took us.  I shouldn't have questioned her abilities!  She not only taught me how to play in a way that I could understand (what does that tell you?!) but then we played a few games and I only won once because I'm pretty sure she let me :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tuesday Drive

Eric has been busy working some electrical side jobs and he was planning on being gone most of the evening Tuesday so Lyndsay, Grace, Meredith and I went for a drive. 

We sometimes go to Fuller's Resort in Buchanan, MI and one time last summer the owner came and sat with me on the beach and, after hearing that we are homeschoolers, stayed for a while.  After learning that I enjoy taking nature photographs, she went and got a map and marked out some cool places to visit.  I didn't actually label any of the places; they were just marked with x's or circles. 

So, we took off for one of the x's that I thought she said was a horse farm.  It was such a beautiful drive on a winding, hilly road I wouldn't have cared if we didn't find the farm, but we did.  There were three Belgian Quarter horses out in the field so we pulled over, shut the van off and watched them for a while.  They were curious about us, but didn't want to get too close.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Beutter & Merrifield Parks, Mishawaka

The view from Beutter Park of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Mishawaka.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Heat wave

As I write this, we finally have a little bit of relief from the recent heat wave.  Yesterday the temperature was 94 and the heat index was 104.  Today it is only 84 and much easier to go outside without melting.  It seems that even the animals can only take so much heat. 

This bunny doesn't seem bothered, but he's just so photogenic.  

We keep finding these guys like this.  Usually we just find their empty skins.  It may or may not be from the heat, but they are interesting creatures.  Their song is beautiful :)

Denial of self

Always in search of obtaining a closer, more fruitful relationship with God, I try to read spiritual books.  There is always a book on the bedside table that has something to do with spirituality - whether it's a biography of a saint or other religious person, a book on prayer or a bible study...something along those lines.  I have been reading "The Lamb's Supper" by Scott Hahn.  It's a great book and you should definitely read it!  He mentions a book called "The Spiritual Combat" by Rev. Scupoli (and others apparently) so I looked it up on Amazon and the Kindle version was $.99! 

I am only to chapter 2 on this one, but something really struck me.  I can read all I want hoping that this act alone will bring me closer to God, but if I don't ever act on those hopes then nothing will ever change.  Just reading isn't going to cut it for me.  I've had these thoughts before and have always decided I would work on how I treat others especially those in my own home, but I also realize that I have to work on self.  Meaning, stop concerning myself with myself :) 

At this same time, I am participating in a 33 day consecration to the Blessed Mother.  The first week has been concentrating on the idea of separating yourself from the material world and I think these prayers and reflections every day have helped me get to this point. 

This morning, I decided that as a challenge to myself today, I would not speak the word "I".  Usually when I use this word, it's because I'm complaining about something I don't like:  "I can't believe how much laundry I have to do today." (used twice in that sentence)... or something I want:  "I wish we had a basement."  I think that both of these sentences are may disagree, but I think the constant use of the word "I" in these types of scenarios are spiritually destructive.  Another example I can think of is giving my opinion: "That newscaster is obnoxious."  I am going to really try and live out this challenge every day - my opinions really don't matter (unless I'm asked I guess), nor does it really matter what I don't like or what I want. 

Ok, not trying to get too deep on ya here, but I want you all to know that even adults struggle with spiritual relationships with God and with others.  We all need to work on it.  I hope that the links I include in posts like this will work 10-20 years from now when I know you'll be reading this blog every day!     heehee

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Great day for a picnic

We finally have a welcome break in the heat/rain/humidity/lack of sun and Lyndsay wanted to go on a picnic.  I agreed with the stipulation that they had to pack all the food ;) which they willingly did.  We chose Clay Park after getting our free Slurpees at 7-11 since it was 7/11. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Jazzin' at the Shedd

Since we bought a membership for the Shedd Aquarium, we have been getting all kinds of emails for different events going on over there.  Every Wednesday from June through September they have a thing called 'Jazzin' at the Shedd' which is free for members.  There's a jazz band inside (a little lame) and a bigger live band outside on the two story terrace that overlooks Lake Michigan with a great view of Navy Pier and the beautiful skyline decked out with red, white and blue lights. 

It rained for a while, but stopped right about when the band started playing.  We found two tables together which seemed like a stroke of good luck because it was pretty crowded.  We sat there for almost three hours taking turns walking around with the kids so we wouldn't lose our seats. 

We all brought sweatshirts, but it was really cold!  We're so wimpy (mostly me and Sarah) so we walked back to the van, which meant giving up our great seats, just so we could all warm up for a bit and raid the coolers that we brought.  We walked back around 9:00 and, surprisingly, it was warmer where we were standing then versus sitting on the terrace.  We had a great view of the fireworks and it turned out to be a fun evening.

I think my favorite part of the trip had to be the ride home.  The kids were a little punchy and started singing a bunch of songs like, the wheels on the bus, some pop song that is out right now where they sing really fast and Sarah and Josh were killing that one,'s the best...100 little ducks.  Every single last one of them.  I thought they would give up around 50, but no..... and not just normal singing, as if that wouldn't have been good enough, but in Irish, English, Australian, opera, rap, southern drawl, and I can't even remember the other forms of singing that this song was done in.  One of those memories that will make me smile forever.  Fun!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

8th grade graduation

Congratulations to Josh for surviving grade school and graduating 8th grade!!  To celebrate, he chose a steak dinner with baked potatoes and asparagus, topped off with ice cream cake for dessert.  The grandparents joined us and we had a nice evening.  We made a card for him and I think he was especially touched...

Way to go, Josh!!

Glorious quiet time!

All of the girls were invited to a friend's house on Monday, and Josh was mowing at Grandma C's house so we actually had some time to ourselves!  It was quiet and peaceful and amazing...

We went to the pool with our beverages, books and magazines in hand, and there was only one other small group of people there so it was the best afternoon ever.  (See all those empty chairs?!)