Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Programs

Since TJ's been gone, going to any kind of musical anything is really hard.  Music or any kind of performance (acting, singing, whatever) was where TJ would shine.  His passion for those things was evident.  So now that his presence is gone - all I can do is imagine what he would have been like and to enjoy Anthony, Will and Charlie shine in their performances.  I tell you what - Anthony would have made his big brother so proud this year.  Fourth grade is when the kids get their recorders!  Anthony played TJ's recorder and did it well (I think - how do you really know when there are 40 of them playing at once)!  But then they sang a song - where Anthony got to be one of the four soloists.  I was so shocked when he came home one day from school telling me he had tried out for this and was really hoping he would get it.  And the song they sang was so fitting - I was left with tears running down my face.  Will and Charlie did great also - I always enjoy watching these two.  Charlie is eager to wave - and Will - he sees you, but he is going to pretend that he doesn't!  The band always ends the program but the last song the kids from kindergarten to fourth grade join in.  I don't know what it is about this song- but it makes me emotional every year!

The church program was nice as well.  Will had a couple speaking parts - 3 letters from the ABC Christmas and Charlie got to hold up one of the letters.  They are in the same department so they sang together.  It was nice this year - they were on the same side - Charlie just a couple rows in front of Will and on the same side I was sitting on!  Anthony was Joseph this year in the play - Just A Little Christmas.  Anthony and TJ would have been in the same department this year - so when it was time for them to sing one of their more lively songs - Anthony once again reminded me of his big brother and made me cry but he did great! 

I could share so much more about each program - but my heart just isn't in it  - so I'll just share a few pictures from both programs.

Will at the school program - back row middle!
Anthony at the school program - back row (one with glasses).

This was when the four soloists came out to sing - Anthony is on the right hand side, but the left boy in front (the one in all black).
Charlie at the school program - dressed as a tree (right behind the microphone).

Anthony playing Joseph at the church Christmas program.
Charlie and Will singing in the church Christmas program.  Charlie is in the front with the khaki sweater.  Will is two rows back in the black sweater.

Anthony's 4-H Project

Anthony is now old enough or I should say in the right grade to participate in 4-H.  I think between the two of us we were anxiously awaiting this time to come.  I was the same way when TJ was old enough - however, he never got to participate more than just five short months.  I must confess that I have long awaited this time - when my children were old enough to be in 4-H.  I was in it when I was younger and enjoyed every bit of it - ok, not record books!  I had tried to convince TJ to show a steer or heifer - but had no luck.  He did agree to having livestock - just none to show.  So, now that it is Anthony's turn I thought I might get a second chance!  To my surprise he WANTED to show a steer - there was no convincing on my part - seriously!  Weigh in was quickly approaching and we still had nothing.  I began to think about choring in the cold winter months and had tried to convince him to show a heifer instead (those don't have to be "checked in" until May.  No such luck - the kid wants a steer so he can sell it and get money - pretty smart!  Thankfully my Dad had kept one back just incase!  So the day before weigh in we headed over with my Dad to check out this steer.  Now, let me rewind....even though I grew up on a purebred Angus farm and have been around livestock almost my whole life - my kids not so much.  Therefore, there is A LOT of learning going on with this project for all the kiddos - not just Anthony!  My Dad and I were able to sort him off from the bulls and into the barn where there is a headgate.  We got him caught and all of us (the boys, Dad and I) were able to scratch him, brush him, blow him with the blower (this is like an industrial strength hair dryer for cattle) and get his halter on!  I was proud of the boys for not being to scared and listening carefully to what Grandpa had to say!  We let him go and decided to just keep him there for the night - one less time to load him up before weigh in the next day.

The next day was a story all and in itself - but I won't share that with you.  We were able to get him loaded and as soon as school was out I picked up the boys and we were off to weigh in.  Thankfully Jon went with us.  I was not ready to show off my backing up skills with a trailer at our first weigh in (I can't back up anything hooked up very well).  The steer got a new ear tag, implanted and weighed and we were off!  My Dad thought that he might need some company since he was not used to being by himself - so after weigh in we went back to Dad's and loaded up Herky - Hawkeye's calf (Hawkeye was the bucket bottle calf TJ had the summer before he got sick). I don't think that we will show Herky, but I love having both of them here and I believe Anthony would agree!  I've been so proud of him.  He sets his alarm to wake up and feed them before school and is ready to back out in the afternoon.  I haven't heard one complaint - yet!  We haven't done a whole lot with the steer yet - it's been so darn cold.  I was able to grab his halter - wrap it around the gate and scratch him a little bit.  However, he found a way to get his halter off - so on a nice day we will have to see if we can't get it back on him.  I asked Anthony if he was going to name him - he's still thinking about it, but in the meantime Jon has nicknamed him Rocky!  Showing livestock was one of my absolute favorite things - I'm hoping Anthony enjoys it as much as I did!  Time will tell!

Here he is at weigh in.  This is where they put in his new ear tag and gave him an implant.  Then they took him out to go to the scale!
Anthony doing chores - weighing out the feed. 

The show steer is on the left (the one with the halter) and Herky is the one on the right!
This was the second day we had them at our place.  Anthony had to call them to come eat.  Now they are more than ready and waiting for Anthony.
Gotta love those black Angus cattle - it's so hard to take a good picture!  The green tag is the steer (left) and the white tag (right) is the heifer.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stay Tuned!

With trying to finish up the basement, Christmas activities and getting the flu I haven't had the time to update the blog. I'm hoping to do that this week. So stay tuned to hear about Christmas programs, finished basement pictures, Anthony's new 4-H project, Christmas and more!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

For the past four years (minus one year in there because of bad weather and no more boxes) our small group from church has traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota to help in the processing center for Operation Christmas Child.  For those of you who have not heard of this it is a ministry by Franklin Graham.  People pack a shoebox with items such as:  toys, clothing, personal hygiene items, candy, etc. to be sent somewhere around the world to bee given to those children who have nothing.  So, at the processing plant it is our job to go through all those boxes to make sure that there are no inappropriate items sent.  This is a lot of fun.  You get to inspect every box - so I am always finding new things to pack in our shoeboxes that we do at home.  They have quite the process to do all of this - there are over 750,000 boxes they inspect just at the Minnesota center.  The first person gets the shoebox out of the larger carton and their only job is to look for money.  Usually they are looking for the envelope of money to pay for shipping - but they are also to make sure there is not any other extra money in the box.  Then that person passes it down the line to the inspectors.  These are the people that actually go through the whole entire box.  They look for liquids, food items and other inappropriate items.  If there are any things that need to be taken out - there are filler items that can be added to the box.  Once they are done it goes to the taper.  This person tapes the box shut.  They make sure not to cover the label especially those that paid on line - there is a barcode that needs to be scanned - so taping over it could interfere with the scanning.  After the taper there are people who put the shoeboxes in bigger boxes - sorted by gender and age.  So, for example, they will have a large box for girl 2-4 and a large box for boy 2-4.  Once they fit 15 or more in a box they send it on down the line to be put in the truck.  The shoeboxes we were inspecting Saturday night were going to India.  They were trying to set a new record of doing 60,000 boxes.  Our shift ended before we found out if we accomplished the goal.  Our trip up to Minnesota usually consists of a stop at IKEA and the Mall of America.  And of course we usually eat pretty good too!  The time away really bonds the group - we tend to have a lot of fun and great conversation!!

Welcome to the processing center!

All the many boxes to go through!

Not sure how it worked this way - but the guys were at one table and the girls were at another one! 
Jon is looking for money.  Matt and Jeff are inspecting.  Dean is the taper!
The girl line - Sarah looking for money while Sonya and Kirsti are inspecting the boxes!
Lynette and Josh had the hard job of trying to fit the shoeboxes into the larger boxes - it's like a puzzle!
Jil inspecting the boxes while Sarah is searching for the money.

Our shift is over - what should we do with all of our name tags?  Jon will work!

front row: Josh, Sarah, Jon, me, Kirsti, and Jil
back row: Jeff, Lynette, Sonya, Dean and Matt

Friday, December 6, 2013

Small Peek

I'm going to wait until next week - once the carpet has been laid - to show you pictures of the basement.  But thought I'd share a few pictures that give you a little hint on what things sort of look like around here! 

My sister Jeana.  She was a HUGE help - she did almost all of the trim work!
Charlie painting his room - yellow!

Anthony painting his room - green! 

Dad helping in Will's room - he too was very helpful.  He helped with primer, ceilings and color!

Will painting his room - orange!

Jon painting the stairway - it looks green in this picture but it really isn't!

"Favorite Things"

A dear friend of mine invited me to her "favorite things" party!  We were to bring a $5 gift for everyone, of one of our favorite things.  You know - kind of like Oprah used to do at Christmas time - except we had a smaller budget!  I had so much fun.  We started the evening with some delicious food and great conversation!  There was hardly a moment without laughter and I learned a lot about a variety of topics!  I'll just leave it at that - you know how women can talk!!  Then it was time to exchange our gifts.  I was anxious to see what everyone else brought.  Here is the stash of stuff I got to bring home!

In case you can't tell what everything is....let me tell you!
1.  Jergens lotion and Blistex chapstick - from Courtney
2. Downy UnStoppables  (which by the way are AMAZING) - from Mallory
3. Bath & Body Works foaming hand soap - from Kelly
4. Puma running socks and "candle" melt scents - from Julie
5. Notepad (with magnet on back) and pen - from Missy
6. Fuzzy socks - this was my favorite thing that I gave everyone.

I really had an enjoyable night.  I'm so thankful for this dear friend.  Our friendship started out as acquaintances yet over the last year and a half she has turned into such a great support to me.  I'm so glad to call her friend.  Thank you again Kelly for all our chats and a listening ear!  Can't wait until next year's party!!

Ready for a new look!

I've been wearing these clothes for the past two and a half weeks!  If you look close enough you will probably see every paint color that we have painted in the house on this pair of pants or shirt!  Only have a little bit of trim left to do and then I can retire these clothes - hopefully for a VERY long time!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updates Coming!

So I've been REALLY busy painting that I haven't had time to post.  Well, I'm still not quite done and carpet is coming Monday.  SO, just wanted to let you all know that once I'm finished - I'll be back to blogging more regularly!!