Monday, July 30, 2007

Dolls From Around the World

When we were little girls, my Dad's brother Dave and his wife Lynn travelled all over the world for my uncle's job, to all of these exotic locations. They sent us dolls from many of the places that they lived. They were the most treasured things I possessed. I viewed them with awe and reverance. They were not to play with and handle, they were to stay in their original boxes, (which is how I found them packed on Friday when we were doing our sorting.) Every once in awhile when we begged our mother, she'd help us get them out, and we would look at them, marvel at how different they were than anything we'd ever seen, and then pack them away. When I came across them on Friday, lots of memories came back, and although I don't know what I'm ever going to do with them, I could not get rid of them! So, just as I did as a girl, I got them out, marvelled and oohed and aahed over them, (laughed a bit, since I now saw them through grown-up eyes) and then lovingly packed them away again. I wanted to share the excitement I felt with my boys, so I called them downstairs to see, but I must have been interrupting something more important, because they were not in the least bit interested in my stories. Later that night, Will asked me, 'hey where is that doll that fits inside another doll, inside another doll, can I see it?' I huffed, 'it's all packed away again now!' But I promised we'd get them out again someday and look at them. That satisfied him. We'll get them out again in another 10 years, the next time we clean out under the stairs! (I wish I'd paid closer attention to the boxes and such, because now I can't remember which countries they're all from.)

New Zealand

Russian Nesting Doll



Sunday, July 29, 2007

Memories...Of the Way we Were

We've been taking some nostalgic strolls down memory lane lately. In preparation for baby's arrival, we've been doing a lot of sorting and getting rid of stuff. (Once we started in with the painting and organizing, one thing led to another, and there was no stopping.) On Friday we found ourselves surrounded by boxes since Damon decided to take everything out from the closet underneath the stairs. He took the afternoon off just to deal with the massive undertaking. We knew that deep within there were some baby things that we needed to sort through. Even though baby items were our main objective, we found ourselves sorting through almost every box because we were in purging mode. We knew that we HAD to get rid of stuff to make way for the baby stuff that we were bringing home from the McCarragher house. You can not imagine the crap that we have hung on to! Once upon a time it was very important stuff, but now looking at it MANY, MANY years later, I wondered why I had ever hung on to it. In order to make myself feel a little bit better about throwing away (or goodwilling) items that once meant so much, I took some pictures:

An ice cream cone pillow my mom made for my bed when I was a kid:
"I'm a Blue Light Special" t-shirt, made into a pillow:
Holly Hobby (missing an arm):
Scary doll:
I also had a FULL box of old t-shirts that I foolishly thought I (or more accurately, I would have my Mom) make into a quilt someday. Now I'm like, 'and then do what with it? Where would I want this hideous quilt displayed?!' So all the t-shirts went bye-bye with the exception of this first one:

Second above is a handpainted (by my mom) beauty, of all of my favorite things - clarinet, music, art supplies, poetry journals. I think it was a birthday gift. Even back then, when I wore alot of strange things, I never wore this shirt! 3rd, an Aquinas school sweatshirt. Below, my Fort Madison Aquinas school friends made me a going away present by signing all their names to a t-shirt in bubble paint. I was bitter about the move to Iowa City for years, and had this shirt hanging on my wall for awhile in my IC bedroom. Next, a braces t-shirt, as if it's not already obvious that you have them, you need a shirt announcing it to everyone?! I don't remember being particularly proud of my braces, in fact they were the bain of my existance for 4 long years, although it is a good way to lose weight. Lastly, my coveted NKOTB shirt. Although these teen idols will always hold a special place in my heart, as witnessed by my rooting for Joey McIntyre when he was on Dancing with the Stars, (see everything DOES always come back to DWTS!) I no longer feel the need to hang onto this shirt. I have been set (somewhat) free!

Above, well... self-explanatory. I remember I was definitely more ways than one. I was not responsible for the production of this shirt, but I think I probably did wear it, unfortunately!Below, my high school graduation party dress, made my mom.
Next, a culottes outfit I wore to a homecoming dance. Both Damon and I wore ties that year! shudder. And last but not least: vests! One made by my mom, with jean pieces sewn on, the other made my me, with men's ties sewn on. Both have lots of extra pins and bits of jewelry added!

SNEAK PEAK: You all should be eagerly awaiting my next post: Dolls From Around the World!

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's a Beautiful Thing

This is my newest and greatest Hobby Lobby purchase: a paint carousel (I don't know what it's really called, but that sounded good, right?) Now I'm all organized (in the paint department, anyway.) No more digging around in my rubbermaid tub. Will had fun helping me sort by color. Not sure if it'll stay this way! It makes me so happy everytime I look at it. Now if I were only this neat and organized in the rest of my house....

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Guess the Shadow

Scary isn't it? Keep in mind that shadows are generally ELONGATED, but still. Maybe I'll get up the nerve to post the real thing soon.

Kinze Day

Riding to the fun on the wagons, pulled by big tractors.

Once again it was that time of year: time for Kinze Family Fun Day! Every year it seems to get better and better, and the kids have come to really look forward to it. We were keeping it all on the down low around here until we were sure that the weather would cooperate. I was not about to go out in the hot humid sun! It couldn't have been a nicer day though: no humidity, a beautiful breeze, highs in the low 80's. I can do that!

It's all about the kids on Kinze Day:

Family Fun Area

Sam thought the object of the tossing games was to match like colors: the red rings go in the red row, the red horshoe goes on the red peg. There was no "tossing" involved, no matter what I tried to tell him. The workers (all Kinze volunteers) didn't seem to mind and gave him tickets anyway. They redeemed their tickets for way too much junk. Besides the carnival games and inflatables, the kids (and Dads) raced cars on a remote control track, did the batting cage and the putt-putt golf. I don't think anyone made it to the water balloon sling shot targets, or the basketball shoot-out. They also had a mini-tractor pull event for kids, and a mini-wagon train ride. New this year was a real-live mechanical bull! (is that an oxymoron? Well, you know what I mean.) I tried to entice the guys into trying it, with the unresistable offer that I'd take a video of them, but for some unfathomable reason, I had no takers. Jack briefly went fishing, but his line broke (if you catch a tagged fish, you win a prize.) They also do canoe races in this pond.
While Jack was fishing, Will, Sam and Noah were doing this:

Wow, I just realized there's quite a glare coming off of Sam's fair skin! Good thing we kept him lathered in sunscreen! In the background you can see the larger slide. Will said he wanted to try it, but the water was pretty deep at the bottom, and although he doesn't mind going under, we told him no. Maybe next year!

While the kids and Dads were doing some of the outdoor stuff, us girls played some very exciting Bingo. There were two major events that made this year's Bingo playing so memorable. The first event was that I actually won! My goodies consisted of a men's denim shirt XL, a black baseball hat, a Hummer magnet and pen, and a $20 Target gift card! But was that enough for me?! Noooo! Once up there to claim my prize, I sweetly asked if I could trade any of my winnings for the coveted Kinze cookbook. (Last year we desperately wanted to win one, and when no one won anything, my sister and I strongly hinted to our mother that we knew what she should get us for Xmas. Well, it's a long way between July and December and that never happened. Now was my chance!) I was even willing to trade in my Target card, ok, well maybe not. Anyway, the lady told me to go ahead and take one, they had too many and were just trying to get rid of them! Can you believe it?! So I made out like a bandit! Shortly thereafter, major event number two happened: my mother's folding chair broke and she dropped flat to the ground, with her chair flat underneath her! We were all shocked! She just kind of laid there for a moment, too stunned to move!! We all helped her up, got her a new chair, and resumed our Bingo playing. A few minutes later Laura leaned over and whispered to me, "Is it too soon to laugh?!" which got us snickering. Even my mom was laughing about it, although when we got up to leave, she realized that her back and legs felt stiff. A good amount of time had passed and we had left the Bingo building before a member of Kinze managament tracked her down and insisted that he take her to be checked out by the EMT's to make sure she was alright. Here she is being taken away, while we took pictures, and (of course) laughed: They lamely prodded her back and told her to take some Ibuprofen. She's fine today.

Who can turn down free food?! (You know me, I'm all about the food!) There was something for everyone: kettlecorn, sno-cones, nachos, ice cream, big cookies, pop, lemonade, iced tea, and of course Kinze water:

That's not to mention the fabulous BBQ dinner they fed everyone: pork, beef, or hotdogs, raw veggies, fruit salad, baked new potatoes, potato salad, coleslaw, beans, snicker apple salad (my favorite!) green salad, etc. If you went away hungry, it was your own fault! It's hard to fathom the organization and planning it takes to feed that many people. But they do it! Here is Miss Lily with her grandma, and behind them is the huge open air pavilion where everyone eats dinner.

Wearing Grandpa's hat.

Above: Kinze recycled the waste from cut out parts to make fences and gates in the parking area. They are very geometric, and quite artistic.

Overall, the day was a success! Thanks to Grandpa Don for sharing it with us!

Friday, July 20, 2007



I am in love with baby's new "Baby-Love" blankie. My mom gave it to me last night. She used all the same fabrics that are in the rest of the baby bedding she made for me, (see previous post from July 10) plus she added some felted polka-dots that are very nice. Thanks Mom! You Rock!

Swimming Lessons Done

Will finished his swimming lessons this morning and passed Red Cross Level II. (For the 2nd time!) He took this same course last summer, and passed then too, but there's a big jump in skills for what you need to do to pass Level III, a lot of work in the deep end, and he and I both decided he wasn't ready for that. Lots of kids take Level II several times, for that very reason. He's gotten so much better over the last two weeks - he's like a little frog, or fish or something. It's fun to watch. It's just hard to maintain those skills, when we don't get to the pool often on our own. The thought of putting on a bathing suit right now is very unpleasant, and just too much work! Damon wants to take them more, so I'll let those boys go do that by themselves in the upcoming evenings/weekends. There's only so much time in a day, and just so much to do around here, it seems. I'm feeling like we need to get this house in order, pronto, before this baby comes, yet everywhere I go there's a mess, and I physically can't deal with it. (I thought I was supposed to get this burst of energy where my nesting instincts would kick in. Mentally I'm there, but physically? Not so much.) It's a lot of pressure for my hubby, and bless his heart he never complains. Even when he comes home to find Sam running around naked from the waist down, like he did last night, toys everwhere, and no one is ready to go to T-Ball.

Anyway, while Will was at his swimming lessons, I took Sam into the gym the last few days, where Tot Time was going on. (I don't like that name - I don't consider Sam to be a "tot," but it's designed for kids up to age 6 - I think.) He had so much fun. I felt a little guilty for not taking him sooner, but I really wanted to watch Will at his lesson, and Sam was content to hang out in the lobby with me, reading books from the carts that the library had provided as a summer outreach thing. That was a neat idea, so glad that they did that this summer, it kept Sam occupied. He was none the wiser that so much fun was going on right down the hall! I decided to save Tot Time for the last few days of lessons, because I knew that once he discovered it, there would be no going back. Boy was I right. He was so excited to go! The first day we walked in and he said, "Mom, I don't know what's going on in here!" I said "It's for kids to play." and off he went! He called it 'his class.' And why not?! On Fridays they get out the inflatables - an added bonus! The big hit though were the red pedal cars.
As you can tell, it was a little tricky getting out of this one. There was a lot of uncontrollable rolling going on, until he got the hang of it, which resulted in a banged elbow, and a bruised forehead first. The slide was not as filled with air as one would think, and you'd sink and your body would hit the hard floor underneath.

Everywhere he goes he makes a friend. He's so friendly! As you can see by the video, he spent the whole time following a girl named Reece around. Although the inflatables were not that far apart from each other, it was essential to hop in the car to get from one to the other. (He takes after his mom: 'Why walk, when you can ride?!')

Monday, July 16, 2007

Don't Over React (Mom) Part 2

This morning at Will's swimming lesson Sam and I were sitting in the lobby chairs, watching Will through the windows and Sam was doing one of the things he likes to do all the time: kiss my tummy - over and over and OVER again, until I just about can't stand it anymore, and have to tell him to stop. A lady came up to us and said to him, "Do you know what's in there?" (It's pretty obvious!)

Sam: It's a baby.

Lady: Do you know if it's a boy baby or a girl baby?

Sam: I think it's a sister.

Me: He's been saying that all along, and he's pretty insistent upon it. But from our ultrasounds they've been guessing that it's a boy, although they haven't gotten 100% clear shots.

Lady: My daughter prayed to Jesus every night, "Jesus, please bring me a sister." And He did.

Me: It could happen! But I really think it's going to be a boy, so I hope Sam isn't too disappointed.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Baby Dream

After some discussion between Damon and I about whether he should go to Promise Keepers in Cincinnati, 2 weeks before I'm due, and coming to no conclusion, Damon had a dream that night in which I gave birth in the house while he was out mowing the lawn. In the dream he had to call 911, and asked me why I hadn't called him, and I said that it only took 3 pushes and the baby came out. When he told me of this dream I said, "And you want to go all the way to Cincinnati?!" He was like "I know, I know!" I think he's having second thoughts. I wouldn't mind him going if I knew he'd be reachable and be able to leave and get home in time if something happened. But the church is taking a bus, so I have all these "what if's." Maybe I just need to put the "what if's" in God's hands. Never been too good about that.

Don't Over React

I've been warned by my wise husband to "not make too big a deal of this," so I'm passing along this same disclaimer to everyone else before I mention that the other night Will asked Damon to take the training wheels off of his bike! The tootled at a slow pace up and down the sidewalk, (I know because I peeked - I was not allowed to be present for good reason) with Will doing a lot of leaning and Damon doing alot of the work, but it's a start! They're out there again tonight! The kicker is that Sam wants his training wheels off now too. Damon wisely said not til you're a little older, although he probably could do it! We'll let this be Will's time for awhile.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Damon says that he did not put the bungee cord on the slide, which means that Will must have done it. This is very puzzling, because Damon is very particular about his bungee cords. They reside in a special place of honor: a lidded plastic box, just for bungee cords. I find it hard to believe he just found a stray unaccounted one, just lying around. Highly unusual. Of course the other noteworthy thing about all of this, is that Will is evidently turning into his father.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


The other night Will came back inside as I was going out to meet him, just after I'd sent him and Sam out to play, saying, "It's creepy (a word I've never heard him use) out there. I'm coming inside."

Me: What? I was just coming out; what do you mean it's creepy out there?
Will: It feels like someone butcept (he meant 'besides') God is watching me.
Me: Well, if it's as creepy as you say it is out there, then don't leave your brother out there alone! (way to not play into his irrational fear, Jill)
Will: thinking for a minute, "Oh...okaay! (all exasperated.)

We go outside and I look around. Sam is totally not feeling the creepy feeling. I think to myself, what if there really is some creepy guy out here, watching my children? We've never felt anything but total security and safety in our neighborhood. There's very little traffic, and most of it are the neighbors we know. Everyone knows, or at least recognizes each other. I feel comfortable letting Will be outside by himself, and Sam too for short amounts of time, with me checking up, when he's with his brother. The wind was blowing a bit more than normal, it was getting on toward dusk, it was very quiet, no one else was outside, (usually there's kids, mowers, walkers, bikers, birds, something) so maybe that's what he was feeling and explained that to Will. To tell you the truth, it gave me the creeps too! We all seemed to shake it off and went back to playing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Does This Look like a Good Idea?!

I came outside yesterday to find this going on:

I don't know how they managed to get the small slide up to the top of the platform. My first reaction was "No way - It needs to come down, NOW." (I thought that they were riding the small slide down the big slide.) I was convinced that "Mom, it's OK, just watch." So I put aside my better judgement and waited for someone to get hurt. No one did. Damon came home and took over watching the kids outside, and the next day I discovered he had anchored the top slide to the fort with man's (or at least my husband's) best friend: the bungee cord, so he evidently put aside his better judgement as well!

Trouble! Sam, with neighbor Samantha. I kept waiting for her parents to appear in our yard and say, "What are you letting them do?!" Then I would have had some 'splainin' to do.There were some other strange additions as well, like this swimming noodle, used to hold a tennis racket. There was also a strategically placed, heavy, good-sized log balanced perpendicular on the beam up above the swing set. Eventually whoever (who was the target anyway?) swung on that swing would have been knocked out cold, so that had to come down immediately. I don't think that anything that devious was being hatched, my kids just don't think things like that through.