Attempts at a self portrait

Oh well, at least we are all in it.

Last Fall Festival (for October)

Picture taking lesson: We need to back up and include more of our surroundings in our pictures so you get a better sense of where we are and what we are doing. Though you can't tell from the following pictures, we are at Purina Farms. They have a "Haunted Hayloft" (not so haunted I was pleased to find out) every year. It is an evening affair - tractor pulled hayrides, lots of farm animals, duck hearding (that has Olivia's attention in the picture below), dog agility shows. It slowly gets dark and chilly as you roam around the fall decorations and farm sounds and smells.
A "corn box."
Isn't that a funny looking chicken?! (Not Olivia, the gray chicken to the right.) Even cuter were the three little pigs in the pen in front of Olivia and the chickens. O. kept trying to climb in to touch them. One kid went head first into the pen - it was pretty funny.
It was a beautiful night.

Pondering the Porch

I wanted to post this picture for several reasons:
1. Proof that I wasn't lying about squirrels eating pumpkins! Can you see that? Dumb squirrel!
2. Because I know there are at least three people out there (Amy, Alice, and my mom) who will appreciate my fall display.
3. Because it is a display of what I love (fall and orange and mums) in front of something that I am growing to love - this house. The past year and a half has probably presented some of the biggest challenges I have experienced - spiritually, emotionally, relationally, mentally. Rehabbing this house has challenged my patience, my lack of forgiveness, our parenting, our marriage, my contentment (where I find it), the list could go on. I have wanted it faster. I have wanted it cleaner. I have wanted it homey-er. I have wanted a bedroom with a door on it. I have wanted out. But here we lived for this very long year plus so that "steadfastness could have its full effect." (James 1:4) James says that the "full effect" is that we would be "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." That is nearly impossible for me to grasp since I have spent the last year lacking in so many ways. And I'm not talking about lacking things like a bedroom with a door on it - though that has surely been inconvenient. No, I have lacked grace toward my husband, patience with my children, faithfulness in my friendships, humility, repentance. But I look at this porch and I know the neighbors who live just to the right. The ones who delight in watching our children grow and bring them presents and share our cupcakes. I look at this porch and I know there are 12 tulip bulbs hidden deep beneath the weeds that we call a front yard that will silently appear next spring as reminder that our God manages the seasons - the ones in our lives and the ones in creation. I look at this porch and I remember two cold Januarys ago when it was covered in the nasty, smelly carpet Mike and Mark laboriously ripped from this house to make way for the restoration that would soon begin. I look at this porch and I remember that HE has been steadfast toward ME and THAT is how steadfastness (perseverance) can complete its work in me so that I may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

"I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, to the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love." Isaiah 63:7

This porch reminds me of a lot of things and that is why I wanted to post it.

Trike two!

"Come on, Uncle Doug! Faster!"
Can you see the Elvis belt buckle? It's a "futterfly" (butterfly) - very sharp. And of course she insisted on the boots.

The Trike

Olivia has gone behind the wheel - watch your toes!
Can you tell she is hunched down and leaning forward? The faster the better for her!
Mastering the mount.

One, two, four!

As Olivia counts, her next birthday should be her fourth. But this year it is two and we have had fun spreading it across several days. My first attempt at "puckcakes" from scratch above. (Sage, I hoped to make you proud.)
Sorry, amateur photographer - got Grandma's arm in the shot.
I think Grandma and Grandpa McBride enjoyed it as much as Olivia.
Forgot to tell you...she reads now.

The "Punkin" Patch

It was a beautiful, blustery day as you can see. The pictures speak for themselves.
(Except maybe the last one of Mike peeling himself out of the Mine Shaft slide.)

Just a bit of life

What has to happen for dinner to get on the table - Diversion.
(Sorry about the red eye - I am having trouble with that on our camera right now.)
My brother says Olivia's clothes never match. That is due in part to her creative personality that requests the "froggies" (new, used rain boots) no matter what the temperature, weather, or current assemble. But truth be told, sometimes (usually after a meal) at least half of her outfit merits a change and we just don't have anything that matches the half remaining. Hence the peach corduroys and red shirt above.

(See above comments about Olivia's clothing choices.) It is 85 degrees outside. What can I say, she likes to wear hats. (The long sleeves and pants are my fault - I thought it was going to be cooler.)


The Pollacks. Everyone but Annika snoozed during most of this hike. You can see Olivia asleep on my back in the next picture.

Adios camp site! I'm takin' my rocks and goin' home!

'Round the (smoldering) campfire

Well, first of all our wood was wet - which is why we had to eat spaghetti in the dark the night before this shot was taken. But Olivia didn't care - she didn't need a fire for her "fruit nacks."
She had just tripped (for about the 20th time) and conked her head on the pinic table, so we were singing to make it better. Joseph was empathizing in his sleep.
The String Cheese Incident
Taking a load off after a long weekend of being carried around everywhere.

Life back at camp

Supervising the set up.
Snug little bugs. Wish the night had gone as cute as they look. Olivia actually slept like a rock - once she was out. Joseph was a little creeped out by the tent I think. I always knew it was quiet at night in the woods, but I never realized how quiet until my kid was screaming into the silence. Poor camp ground etiquette, I know.
Early morning frolicing. (Nothing but rocks and leaves in the stroller, by the way.)
Breakfast chefs

Four on Four

And I don't mean a little pick up basketball. This is what camping (or any family activity for that matter) is for us these days - man to man. We went on our first family of four camping trip with our friends, the Pollacks, this past weekend at Hawn State Park. This was the pre-set up camp hike.
I think Karen was doing her impression of River Dance here, but I don't quite remember...
Joe's camping trick: Peeing on my foot, while strapped to my front in a pack, without getting his pants wet!
"Boys are so moody."

One season to the next

Probably our last arrangement of zinnias from the garden. Sad to see them go - even as pitiful as they were this year. But the pumpkin ginger muffins make the change in season worth the loss. Seems like there is always something to look forward to and usually something to learn from what has passed (like don't plant your zinnia seeds before the last freeze).

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1