## Tuesday, August 31, 2010

### All the numbers round II

I posted one like this last summer and with one longggg week left before school starts, I oddly find myself in the same boat.

Round two, here goes...

36 =  the number of times I had to remind the boys we do not eat in the living room. Yes, thats ONE day.

488 =  the number of fights I break up in a day.  (Okay this may be a slight exaggeration, more like 483.)

4 = the number of minutes I get to work on something without interruption, cough, NOLAN.

8 = the number of stinkin days left till school starts. ( I lasted 5 more days than last August)

88 =  the number of degrees above zero forecast for today.

0 =  the number of pools left open in which to enjoy sweltering temps.

5 = the number of minutes out of the day that hubby is around.

1572 =  the number of things I'd like to do right now, minus kids.

1572 = is also the number of times I consider shipping the kids off to boot camp :)  Hm... coincidence
perhaps?

< 3 =  the number of intact nerves I have right now.

8  =  the number of people who have said they are in the same boat as me.

Infinite  = the number of times I count my blessings that I have this time with the boys.  A few
days after they start school, I will miss them all over again.

## Monday, August 30, 2010

### Westra Family reunion or Grandpa saves the day

Its true.  Grandpa Jim had to rescue me because I didn't take any pictures at the family reunion last weekend. So he promptly made a cd for me and I not so promptly am finally blogging them.

Because Rick and I dated a few *cough* (10-12) years before we actually married (13 years ago),  forgive me when I tell you I can't remember the first Westra reunion I attended.  But when Rick's sister Missy said to a relative that I've been around these reunions forever, I can see where she is coming from.

Plus, lucky for me, I've had all of those years to straighten out the names and faces of the 8 brothers and sisters in the Westra clan.  6 out of the 8 brothers and sisters were in attendance last weekend, although there were several cousin's families unable to attend.

Seated in the photo below my father-in-law, Jim is in the orange, his sister Grace, the birthday girl on this day is next, their brother John who worked with my mother at Concordia College for many years is next to her.  In the front row (L to R) their sister Dorothy, who is sitting next to their sister Helen, who is sitting next to their sister Margie.  A brother Jack, (who our Colton Jack is named after), has passed away, and a brother Jerry was ill and unable to attend.

To help identify each other, we color coded our shirts by families.  I've abbreviated the names of the families a bit, but I also didn't want to leave anyone out... okay, crossed fingers I got them all right.

The family of Jack

The family of Margie

The family of Grace

The family of Dorothy

The family of Jim

The family of John

Here we ALL are... should I name them for you? Ha, I'm better at the names, but that may just be a stretch even for me.

The only downside to our day was how unbearably hot it was outside.  We even skipped going to the zoo this time around, but who needs the zoo when you can have... minnow races :)  Who knew a couple of gutters with some water and a bucket of minnows could be so much fun?

There were lots of laughs, stories told, and memories shared.   Thanks to our cousin Brenda for her spectacular job of organizing everything and all of us too.  Believe me when I tell you its no small feat to get all of us in one place at the same time.

I know this much is true, I have no doubt our kids know where they came from.  Our family roots run deep on both sides of the family.  And this summer?  We've been so blessed to have spent so much time with all of our family.  It doesn't get any better than that.  Amen

PS, Donna, how did I do?

## Thursday, August 26, 2010

### Cobber corn feed

With scurrying feet-

we wove our way thru the canopy of trees and the sea of people

and skipped past the kiddie ride-sniff sniff-

past Prexy's pond-

straight to the blow up games galore for this kid-

and this kid-

while mom and dad feasted on free corn at the annual cobber corn feed.

YUM

## Monday, August 23, 2010

Hard to imagine:

-It was too hot to take many pics this weekend.  Nolan's football team played in their jamboree and I was too, too busy wiping sweat away and trying to hydrate everyone to take photos.

-We went to the Westra family reunion yesterday and I never took my camera out of the car.  There were tons of photo opps, but I didn't jump in like I normally do.  Grandpa Jim, if you share some jpegs with me I'll post away, but I have nothing to use otherwise.

Soooo, what I am going to share is lonnnggg overdue.  Surrounding the passing of my father over the 4th of July weekend, was a visit from my brother, his wife, and his two girls.  As much as we  treasure our time with them, our attention and focus was obviously diverted away from them this time.

Plus, some of these are photos we printed and placed in the casket with my Dad.  I suppose I've stayed away from them for awhile to distance some of the emotion around them.

Today however, I see them for what they are, 4 lucky cousins who always enjoy spending time with each other.

July 7th, 2010

What do you get when you take 4 giggling cousins.  Fill them full of ice cream.  And traipse all over trying to take their photos?

Besides a headache?  If you're talented like my hubby, you get shots like these of my beautiful nieces.

Alex is 8, going into 3rd grade and the boys will tell you she smacks the ball in baseball like nobodies business.

Madison is 10, going into 5th grade, and just discovered the Babysitter's Club series of books.  She is a sweet young girl after her auntie Vicky's heart in her love of reading.

My favorite photo.  Rick knew Nolan would probably dump Colton off his back to be funny, so he did opposite cousins.  See that glint in Nolan's eye?  He is still thinking of dumping Alex, but he didn't quite dare, whew.

Just so you know where the "headache" part for Rick comes in... clearly the boys were their usual antic-prone selves, even around their cousins.  Alex summed up the experience for everyone well.  Its a wonder those girls seem to want to come back every year to see us... *wink*

## Thursday, August 19, 2010

### How Favre can you go?

If you are a Minnesota Vikings fan the big news yesterday was the return of #4 Brett Favre.

How cool he debuted the start of his twentieth season last night in our front yard?

I know... can you believe it?
Hey, its really me.

That ankle he had surgery on appears to be healthy, although a bit scrawny.

Hand it off like this...

Coach Childress, is that you?

Some sources say the team is looking a little "young" this season.

But with the likes of veterans Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen returning, most think the team will contend for a spot in the Super Bowl again.

AP with 6 trying to take him down and he hangs on to the ball... hope returns.

All the way this year guys, what do you say?

 Brett aka Nolan

The smell of football is in the air.   You'll notice he even got a haircut so his helmet wouldn't feel so tight.  He plays his first football game with pads, on Saturday.  We'll see how FAVRE this QB can go :)

## Tuesday, August 17, 2010

### Part II: do you know how long it takes?

Part two of our weekend with Rick's brother's family began after a huge breakfast at the logging camp.  Our little man Ethan fell asleep on the way home in the car. So rather than wake him, we decided to go on a spur of the moment road trip up to Itasca State Park. Our boys have never been to it, and I haven't been back since the 6th grade.

While there are several historical sights in the park, one of the most famous ones is the Mississippi Headwaters.  Here is how the monument reads:

Here 1475 FT
Above
The Ocean
The Mighty
Mississippi
Begins
To Flow
On Its
Winding Way
2,552 Miles
To The
Gulf Of
Mexico

It was a humid and hot day, and the water was clean, clear and inviting. Do you know how long it takes for a drop of water to travel from the Mississippi headwaters to the gulf of Mexico?

About 90 days, or as long as it takes to cross these rocks without falling into the water.  Ha.

As inviting as it looks to simply walk across the rocks... they are extremely slippery.  Most of them are covered in a bit of a mossy, slippery substance that makes them nearly impossible not to slide right off.

Much easier to use the newer log bridge to cross the Mississippi, and pose the kids for a quick photo too.

Ethan, refreshed from his nap.  How killer are those big baby blues?

A few miles from the headwaters, through the trees and around the bend you come to...

the swimming beach.  You all know how I feel about the beach and water, its nirvana to me.

All of the kids hopped right into the lake while most of the adults rested under the shade of the tree.

Mackenzie, was so busy exploring the water she did not want to look up at me for a picture, which is why I had to sneak under her for this one.  She was looking down into the water, away from me, or so she thought.

The night before they all flew home to South Carolina, Aunt Missy came to spend some more time with all of us.  We all had to giggle this time because we knew what was coming as Mackenzie looked away...

But we waited a bit and as Miss sweet talked her... gotcha.  Sweet girl, your aunties from up north (who have only boys) have waited so long to love on you, looking at the camera or not, having you here was just good for the girly soul.

## Friday, August 13, 2010

### Do you know?

Do you know

how any times I forget you aren't here Dad?

like in the grocery store yesterday when I saw the red fall-smelling apples.  My first thought... Ohhh, I'll make an apple crisp with these and Dad will love it.

Do you know

nobody else will care whether I make an apple crisp, or I don't make an apple crisp?  Do you?

Who knew stupid apples would cause me to break down?

Do you know

when I walked into your old house last night,  I saw your shoes on the step, and your cap on the hook, and I hurried around the corner expecting to see you sitting?  I hate I have to remember time and again I won't... see you.

Do you know

with the whirlwind of company and commotion I felt like I was doing well?  Till they left... and now its quiet again and the familiar ache came sneaking back.

Do you know

I found you, anyways?  You were waiting for me in places I hadn't expected.  Under the stash of your old army photos, you were in your letters home to your parents.  Reading your words I could hear your voice in my head.  You wrote about guard duty in Germany, KP duty, inspections, and the weather.  You reminded me, my love for the small details in life, came from you.  I am my father's daughter.

Do you know

the last bit I read was the part about you breaking your watch?   I think you left that part just for me, so I would know you were there.  What was it with you and your watches that always seemed to get misplaced or broken all the time?

I know, you know.

Earlier mom told me she thought she'd donate your watch.  But I asked for it.  Not because of its inherent value, I mean its just an old timex.  But something urged me to keep it.

You know, I know.

For once, that watch of yours is completely intact, and despite numerous trips to the hospital and back, you still managed not to lose it.  I think you knew, I'd need it.  All along...

You knew.

## Thursday, August 12, 2010

### Meeting the newest Westra, part I

We've waited so long to meet this new little man of the Westra clan.  Cousin Ethan is already 9 months old and crawling and pulling up, so we were so thrilled to meet him finally.

Ethan with his mom Julie

Mackenzie, Ethan's older sister, watching a movie with Colton.

We spent a casual night hanging out and got up and left for Grandpa's and Grandma's at the lake.

I just knew when I first saw this field just a few miles from the lake, we'd be stopping.

Rick's brother Matt, and his daughter Mackenzie.  Out of 30 pictures I attempted to take of her, I maybe got her 3 times to look at me... but I am posting these anyways.  She has to hold her own being the only granddaughter in a group of boys and that spunk in her is just the ticket.

Uncle Matt tubing on the lake.  Despite Rick's attempt to dump him, he proved a worthy opponent and hung on the whole way.

Rick's sister's boy, Gunnar.  Bravely getting back on a second time after a massive wipeout.   Where is that zoom lens when you need it?

The crew preparing for a bonfire.  Even though there were tornado warnings sounding in the distance and unbelievably humid conditions, we wouldn't be denied our s'mores.

The next morning, with more hot and sticky weather due for the day, we started off with a trip to the logging camp for breakfast.

The logging camp is a summer tradition, nestled into a rustic setting that takes you back to the days that timber ruled the area.  The food is served family style and we actually polished off two of these huge platters.

Almost a smile from Ethan... he was firmly attached to mommy's hip, even though we all attempted to snatch some snuggles with him.   If he wasn't so darn cute...

Knowing we had maybe a minute before Ethan would realize he wasn't with mom or dad, we grabbed a quick photo of all 5 Westra grandchildren.

Left to Right: Colton, Mackenzie, Nolan with Ethan, and Gunnar.

part II coming soon...