Archive for A Day in the Life

I Love a Good Snow Day

It has been snowing all day and I love it!! Everything is so beautiful. We had nothing but fun planned for this morning so we’ve been doing just that.

Great day for a bike ride:

Biking in the snow

Perfect little angels:

My little angels

Actually, while I was shoveling the front part of the driveway, they weren’t being angels. I turned around to see one of them {whom shall remain nameless} helpfully “brushing” off Daddy’s truck…with a big metal digging shovel. It was in innocence, but yikes! I was quick to inform them that you only use soft brushes on the painted part of a vehicle as to not scrape it up and induce rust. Daddy will be less than thrilled when he hears this story, but I didn’t see any obvious damage except for maybe a scratch in the side driver’s mirror. I’m sure it will be further inspected later.

A silly game of Slippery Swing ensued:

slippery swings

slippery swings

They’re pretty good actors, I have to admit. I think my son might be the next Jerry Lewis with his many prattfalls, and as you can see here, my daughter will not be far behind.

Couldn’t resist this shot:

birdhouse in the snow

Snow siblings:

Snow siblings

And now hot chocolate has been drunk and warm baths have been taken. Next on the kids’ schedule is an evening with grandparents and cousins–the yearly tradition of dinner and seeing Christmas lights…and Mom and Dad get to have a date night!

This Week’s Projects

FallGathering

I’ve mentioned that I’ve had some projects keeping me extra busy this week, so I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve been up to.

First, it’s Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week! If you’re not familiar with Operation Christmas Child, please head over to the Samaritan’s Purse websiteand check it out.  Like many others, I have been involved with Operation Christmas Child for many, many years. I don’t remember the first time I packed a shoe box full of items for kids, but I do remember the first time I was able to help deliver boxes to children in Russia and Belarus and saw the smiles on their faces. That experience has motivated me to get more involved with OCC over the years.

Here is a picture of the boxes that our church family put together this year {and of course my cute kids}:

kids with Operation Christmas Child boxes

Secondly, I have been working on decorations and centerpieces for this Sunday’s Thanksgiving service at our church. I created these mason jars with acorns and candles last year and was able to incorporate them into this year’s table centerpieces as well.

AcornJars

FallCenterpieces

We will have straw bales and pumpkins and various other decor, but this is an example of how the individual centerpieces will look:

FallCenterpiece

Also, I belong to a blogging community called Blogging Your Passion. Jonathan and Bob from BYP have helped me out so much with setting up my blog on WordPress and being there to answer any questions I have. They have started an online university which keeps me motivated and consistently offers help and insight into this blogging thing. With November being known to many as National Novel Writing Month, BYPU issued a challenge to write at least 10 new blog posts before month’s end {with the incentive of winning a nice little prize}. I had a bit of a delayed start, but I am doing my best to complete the challenge and be eligible for the prize drawing.

And finally, this is what has been slowing me down {quite} a bit this week.

bandaged wrist

I have developed what seems to be tendonitis in both my wrists, but my right wrist has been pretty painful this week, putting me completely out of commission for 1 day so far. I’ve had a bit of a reprieve from the pain today, so hopefully it doesn’t get worse as I try to make up for lost time now that it’s feeling a tiny bit better. We’ll see what tomorrow holds!

The Corners of My House

I thought it might be fun {and perhaps a bit therapeutic} to document the condition of my house these days. I honestly think I will look back at these pictures fondly when my kids are teenagers and my heart is begging for them to stay home and mess up my living room again. I tear up just thinking about that. Some days I can be seen with my hands on my head exclaiming how the clutter is driving me absolutely crazy, and how I cannot bear to live in the chaos any longer. But I also recognize that it’s a season of my life, and frankly, I LOVE this season, so I don’t want to wish it away any time soon.

So here are a few snapshots of the corners of my house that I took yesterday morning, after my parents left. First, the four corners of my living room:

Toy corner of living room

Cluttered shelves

toy car clutter

punching bag corner

That last corner looks kind of neat compared to the others, but yes, that is a punching bag and there are currently close to 40 Operation Christmas Child boxes stacked next to it.

Here’s another corner of my dining room that I didn’t share yesterday:

dining room cluttered corner

A corner of my son’s room:

cluttered boy's room

A corner of my daughter’s room:

daughter's cluttered room

The corner of our loft, formerly known as our guitar room–we ran out of room for the guitars so those had to go elsewhere:

cluttered loft

Pictures of a cluttered house are generally not blog worthy these days, but I am thankful that these pictures make me smile. They really do. Sometimes the odd things that I find in a pile or lying around crack me up and reflect my kids’ incredible imagination–and I love that! I’ll get around to straightening things up sometime soon {probably}, but in the meantime, I’ll keep busy with other things and my kids will keep playing hard…and I think we’ll all remember these days as the best of times, clutter and all!!

Living in the Chaos

Dinner with Grandma and Grandpa PrattMy parents were just here for a 4-day weekend.  My father still farms with my brother, so it’s not always easy for them to get away, but it’s always nice to have them visit.

Generally I prepare for their visit a little more than I did this time. I’m in the middle of a few projects right now that are cluttering up various parts of the house, and I didn’t have the time or energy to organize or clean very well before their arrival. This probably would have bothered me terribly in the past, but I have to admit, I’ve become a lot more laid back about my house the last couple of years. I still feel and function best when things are clean and neatly in their place, but I honestly haven’t been able to keep up with it lately and have just been living in the chaos instead.

If my kitchen is cluttered or my laundry is piling up, it becomes too much and I get overwhelmed. I notice that I tend to spin my wheels and be less productive everywhere if those two things are out of control. So I try to tackle them first {and continuously} and work on the rest of the house as I can. But, as I mentioned, other projects have become my current priority and I am taking a deep breath and admitting that I’m okay with that…for now.

This is what my dining room looked like moments before my parents arrived:

Cluttered dining room

And this is what’s going on behind the scenes {and behind the table} in the top picture, where it looks like all has been cleaned up. At least we were able to use the dining room for its main purpose while our company was here.

Dining room clutterThis is how my coffee table has looked all weekend, plus or minus a random tchotchke or two.

cluttered coffee tableAnd this is what’s going on under that same coffee table:

Legos under coffee table

Gotta love kids and their version of “putting the Legos away.”

Come back tomorrow for more telling photos of how we really live  🙂

 

Pomegranate 101

The other day I noticed that pomegranates were on sale. So I picked one up, just for fun. Thought the kids might get a kick out of it. I have only purchased one other pomegranate in my life and it was when I was in my 20’s. For some reason I thought I’d try one. Little did I know that I should have put on some old clothes or worn an apron or bib or something. I had pomegranate juice everywhere!! Splattered on my clothes, the table, my face, the wall! It was insane!

So after dinner last night I announced that I would be cutting the pomegranate and told the kids to make sure they were wearing “play clothes” and then called them over to the counter. They were actually very excited about it and it held their interest for a long time.

Kids and pomegranateAfter my initial cuts, I let them dig at the pieces for a while and eat what they wanted. It was like their own little science experiment. They couldn’t get over how juicy it was and how each little seed burst in their mouths.

eating pomegranate

The kids really want me to buy another one. We talked about how you can use the seeds to sprinkle on a salad or dessert. I think I want to try making some juice next time. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

pomegranate kernels

So if you need to entertain your kids for a while, and maybe even yourself, plan a pomegranate event. You won’t be disappointed–unless, that is, you forget to put on an old shirt.

pomegranate stained shirt

 

 

Stade’s Farm Over the Years

As promised, here are some shots of the Grohs through the years, on our annual fall trek to Stade’s Farm and Market.

Fall 2007–our first trip with our son:

Petting zoo at Stade's Farm

Nickolas with his big cousin Brennan:

Picking pumpkins at Stade's Farm

And with his cousin Anna–how CUTE are these guys??

Sitting on pumpkins at Stade's Farm

My boys–Ken has this one framed and in his office at work:

My boys at Stade's Farm

Oh, my sweet boy! Love those cheeks!

My boy at Stade's Farm

Fall 2008–So much cuteness!

Stade's Farm 2008

Fall 2009–The Cousins

Kids at Stade's Farm 2009

Fall 2010–My boys again  🙂

My boys at Stade's Farm 2010

Cousins again–The year of the princess.

Cousins at Stade's Farm

Fall 2011–A new addition to our family! Heading to Stade’s with Grandma and Grandpa Groh.

Family at Stade's Farm 2011

My kids–playing in the corn. One of the yearly highlights.

Playing in the corn at Stade's Farm 2011

Our family of four!

Family of 4 at Stade's Farm

Fall 2012–The Family. Extra chilly day, but beautiful, nonetheless.

Family at Stade's Farm 2012

Fall 2013–The cousins together again this year.

Cousins at Stade's Farm 2013

As you can see, the weather has really varied over the years, with this year being one of the warmer ones. And Stade’s has changed soooooooo much. The first time we went with little Brennan there wasn’t much more than a small petting zoo and a ton of pumpkins and gourds. Now there are so many activities for the kids and and the location has completely shifted from their original farmyard to a huge area with an enormous shed and store with a separate covered eating area. We are surprised with something new each year. Glad it’s been our yearly go-to place.

Stade’s Farm and Market

Fall has arrived! I often feel reluctant to let go of summer, but then fall rushes in with all its beauty and I quickly get caught up in it, which makes moving on from the previous season much easier.

Ever since our nephew was 1 year old, the Groh side of the family has annually headed to Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry, Illinois, for their Shades of Autumn weekends. Our nephew is now 11, so it has become quite a tradition. Through the years, we have had hot weather, cold weather, windy weather and as of this past weekend, rainy weather. But it really only sprinkled on us a couple of times and the day was otherwise quite perfect. The threat of rain seemed to keep the crowds away. We arrived early and felt like we had the place to ourselves for the first few hours–just the way I like it! That spoils my kids though. They haven’t learned how to patiently wait in lines.

Grohs at Stade's Farm and Market

Groh kids at Stade's Farm and Market

DSCN5341

king of the tire mountain at Stade's Farm

Tire swing at Stade's FarmMy favorite kind of spider web.

Spider web at Stade's FarmTrying out the new zipline ride.

Zipline at Stade's Farm

Thumbs up at Stade's FarmPicking the perfect pumpkin.

The perfect pumpkin at Stade's FarmThis year’s top choices.

Pumpkins at Stade's Farm

Perfect pumpkin at Stade's Farm

Hauling our pumpkins to the car, with a little help from Grandpa Groh.

Hauling pumpkins at Stade's Farm

Since we’ve made so many trips to Stade’s Farm, tomorrow I will post some pictures from over the years, just for fun. Come on back and check them out!

Scenes I’ve Just Happened Upon

One of my absolute favorite things about being a parent is being surprised by my funny kids. So many times I catch them doing something that just cracks me up. Here are some pictures from this summer–where I caught them doing things they thought up on their own–scenes I’ve just happened upon. Hope they make you smile too!

Ken mowing grass with a storm trooper aboard:

DSCN4301Yes, this is how I found him on his bike on a hot summer day–living out his imagination regardless of the heat factor:

DSCN4308Warming themselves in the sun, face-to-face, after a swim at Grandma and Grandpa Groh’s:

DSCN4348Caught mid-air:

DSCN4460She was working on some math worksheets and I had no idea she had those teeth in her mouth until she tried talking to me:

DSCN4505Looks like they’re up to some sort of crime-fighting–notice Nickolas has a cape over his winter coat:

DSCN4693Um, I’ll let Ken explain this one sometime if you want to ask him about it:

DSCN4700Pulled into the driveway and found them sitting here like this:

DSCN4737I love my readers!! While we were in Ohio, we parents were getting things ready for a day out and I found the kids waiting for us outside doing this:

DSCN4739Nickolas had a clever idea to switch some tires around on his various-sized bikes. Ken went along with it and this is what I found him riding:

DSCN5136They called themselves Two-Headed Daddy:

DSCN5138Two peas in a pod:

DSCN5187

 

 

A Positive Twist on My Spider Phobia {sort of}

spider webs in the grassI hate spiders. If you know me, you know this. I don’t mind bugs. I’ll even pet a snake. But don’t get me anywhere near a spider. I have tried to talk myself out of my spider phobia for most of my life, but it hasn’t worked yet. Why, I ask myself, do 8 legs bother me so much, when 6 are no big deal?! I have no idea! I would love to overcome my fear, but believe me, purchasing a pet tarantula is not going to do it. {I will admit that even typing that word made me cringe a bit. I have a serious problem, I know!}

Thankfully, my children do not have this fear. Yeah!! In first grade, my son found special joy in checking out books from the school library about such creatures. As I picked the kids up from the bus stop, he would excitedly tell me about the library book that he brought home that showed pictures of the bird-eating tarantula {eegghh, that word again!} and I would feel my skin start to crawl. I had an urge to ask him to throw his backpack with said book in it out the window {really!!}. Once in the house, I found it hard to pick up his backpack and move it. I told him on a number of occasions upon hearing of his latest book choice, that it was fine if he chose to check out such books, but he needed to take the book up to his room and make sure it made its way back to his backpack on next week’s library day, and not to leave it lying around the house because I DID NOT want to see it ANYWHERE!! At first he did not follow my commands and I was caught off guard with the gruesome book covers more than once, but now he is better at keeping it out of Mommy’s sight.

I know, I know–I need to be tough for my kids and not show them my fear, but frankly, I’ve just decided to be honest with them and let them know that Mommy has issues too. I think they get a bit of a kick out of it. Plus, it allows them to be brave and kill spiders for me when they are found around the house.

I will also admit that I do kill them when necessary. I would certainly rather have them dead than lurking around the house ready to surprise me with their disgusting presence whenever they have an opportunity. Eeerrgghhhhh!! I HATE spiders!

I actually found and attempted to kill two ginormous spiders on our front porch last week, on two different days. I know it’s not environmentally prudent, but we keep a can of bug spray in the garage and I sprayed the daylights out of those things and they kept moving, leaping and doing sickening little spider cartwheels. Uugh, the image of them is still burned in my mind and I’m wriggling in my chair as I type this. {Again, if you know me, you know what “the spider fit” is and I’m feeling one coming on right now.} Anyhoo, I called in my husband as back-up and asked him to be my hero. I even handed him the fly swatter. As he approached the scene he stated each time, “Ew, that IS a big one” and I felt a little justified in my inability to conquer the thing. Thankfully that was soon followed by, “Got ’em.” The first one was right outside our front door and Ken felt bad killing it because he said it had probably been guarding the entrance to our house. Just the thought of that sickens me. Good riddance!

So where am I going with this? All of this to say, that in spite of my sheer revulsion of their mere existence {I am sure there will not be spiders in heaven}, I found myself out on my front lawn this morning taking pictures of the beautiful spider webs that covered our yard in clusters. I don’t know if this happens all the time and I just noticed them today because of the way the sun was hitting them as I backed out of the driveway, but it really was remarkable. I knew that I wanted to come back home after dropping the kids off at school and spend some time taking pictures of them. I prayed that they would still be there when I returned. And they were.spider webs in the grassI grabbed my camera and focused on their intricate designs. Some were more perfect than others–so tiny and detailed. I stepped carefully, as to not disturb what might be the perfect web that I wanted to photograph. I continuously put out of my mind the fact that for every one of the hundreds of webs I saw, there was a lurking SPIDER! Seriously, my yard was full of spiders!! What was I doing in the midst of all this?! It is probably a fact that my yard is crawling with spiders every day. A fact that I think I would have been perfectly fine not realizing! But, for a few minutes this morning, I appreciated the beauty of their perfect little creations and thanked God for instilling such talent into these {in my opinion} otherwise disgusting arachnids. I’m thankful that I could witness their handiwork. But if one of them crosses my path…I’m CRUSHING it!

Glimpses of Summer 2013

The kids are back in school and summer vacation 2013 is a thing of the past. *sigh* Makes me kind of sad. So as I grow nostalgic, I thought I’d post some of my favorite pictures to recap the summer and bring a smile to my face, and hopefully yours too.

We kicked the summer off by helping our friend with a garage sale. The kids tried to sell baked goods and lemonade, but we just didn’t draw in the dessert eating/lemonade drinking crowd, so it was a total bust. I was, however, proud of how my kids patiently sat and waited for customers and their friendly demeanor and willingness to serve, whenever someone thirsty did stop by.

DSCN4239In June, the kids also attended Bible School for a week and over the course of that time, they took 4 of their friends along with them. That was quite a fun week, but we didn’t get any pictures. They’re already talking about going again next year.

Then there was the painting of the deck of the pirate ship in our backyard:

DSCN4262And the kids’ first ride in a canoe–on Pistakee Lake:

DSCN4312Good times with special friends whom we don’t get to see often:

DSCN4314Fourth of July parade:

DSCN4336The kids had swimming lessons throughout the summer and got to practice their swimming in Grandma and Grandpa Groh’s pool:

DSCN4346Some of the entertainment during the Groh Cousins sleepover:

DSCN4357The kids joined friends for a neighborhood Olympics in July. Here Nickolas is relaxing with his buddy after the medal ceremony.

DSCN4478Nickolas attended a Challenger Soccer Camp for a week. Ella was enrolled in a dance camp for that same week, but it was cancelled because not enough kids signed up. That was very disappointing, but we received a credit toward a fall ballet class which will commence soon.

DSCN4514A Pratt hayride with cousin Brian and his family while they were in the area:

DSCN4599

DSCN4687I was also able to take the kids to Six Flags Great America with the free admission tickets they earned with their school reading program. And of course, our family road trip, so all in all, it was an incredibly fun and full summer!

As I perused my pictures for this post, I found some other fun ones that I can’t wait to post soon!! Be sure to come back and check those out!