Saturday, August 29, 2009

" 52 Weeks" 7/52 ~ The Birthday Girl!


This week at Forever in Blue Jeans, "52 Weeks" challenge, I wanted to share about my birthday.

Yep, on the 43rd, I celebrated my 27th birthday, I mean... ahem... reverse that. It was a truly special day. My family, all 6 of them, made such a big deal out of it. They are wonderful and I love them with all of my heart.

By the way, the "52 Weeks" challenge is all about finally getting in front of the camera. As moms we tend to be the ones taking the pictures, so I decided to accept the challenge. Stop by Carin's blog to see more of these posts.

This picture was not taken on my birthday, but I thought I'd share it anyway. It was taken at the Chatsworth House, where "The Duchess" and "Pride and Prejudice" were both filmed. I haven't seen either of those films, but hear they were great.


Shawn was busy making my birthday cake: Yellow Duncan Hines with chocolate frosting. It was delicious!

When I left the house to take my friend, Mayra, to the grocery store, Shawn and the kids decorated the house for me. It was lovely to come home to.

We went to my favorite Italian restaurant in Manchester called Don Giovanni's. Yum! Italian food is my all time, absolute favorite!

Shawn and I

We had my niece, Allie, my friend, Mayra, and her daughter, Ava, here with us. It made the occasion even more special.

The kids were bursting with excitement, when we got home, to open all of my presents.

I received special teas, and shortbread from Braaten, some Costa coffee from Austin, Melanie bought me bubble bath and strawberry soap, Allie gave me a wallet and change purse, Mayra was kind enough to give me a gift card from a store called "Fat Face", funny I know, but the clothes are really nice, and my sweet husband bought me some chocolates from Dublin and let me get an iPod Touch while we were in Michigan. Whew! So thankful...

They were ready to sing "Happy Birthday" here.

And I had to humble myself and show this funny picture. I purposely, in order to be silly, inhaled a huge breath to blow out all 7 of my candles! I wanted to be successful, ya know, so I did that and it was caught on film.

One last shot of us at the table.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday!

English Riding Lessons

My daughters (1st and 3rd from the left) have been taking riding lessons for the past year or so.

My friend's daughter, Ava (2nd from left), and my niece, Allie (4th from left) had the opportunity to join them and take a half hour lesson yesterday. I think they really enjoyed themselves.

Braaten and Melanie


Ava with her instructor

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, go to Five Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On top of the world

It seems like we've either been traveling or have had friends and family visiting us since about April of this year. That makes for inconsistent blogging and/or scads of pictures being posted to try communicate to you all of the great places we have been able to see.

Most recently my cousin, Cherie, was here for a mere 3 days. But in that time did we ever see some beautiful places filled with history. I'll try to post a few pictures of her time here.

And currently, my girlfriend, Mayra, her daughter, Ava, and my niece, Allie, are here with us getting a taste of the U.K. That means there are even more pictures to show you. Have I mentioned that we have traveled back to Michigan and haven't posted those pics yet? I never finished up my cruise pictures or a trip to Mallorca, Spain that we took in May either.

Now I'm not whining or complaining here. I'm just sayin' I can't document all of this in good time. Everything we have been doing has been a blessing from God and we are truly thankful for it.

My handsome hubby and "his best friend" posed for me at Beeston Castle. Once you get to the top of the hill, you can see as far as 8 different counties. This particular castle is a part of the "English Heritage" that has a yearly membership and hundreds of places you can visit for free.

Shawn thought it was a great find and we didn't have to travel far to go and see it.

Thanks for stopping by and for leaving comments recently. I've been trying my best to stop by and read yours, too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"52 Weeks" ~~~~~6/52 Photos of Me

Forever In Blue Jeans

I joined "52 Weeks" not too long ago. It's a blog carnival where Moms finally get from behind the camera, where we usually find ourselves, and into the picture. If you'd like to join, visit Carin over here.

When I was a little girl growing up in New Jersey, my mom would talk about her family in Indiana with such fondness. She loved them very much. Her brother was in the service and met a woman from near where I grew up, fell in love, and married her. Through moves in the service, he ended up in Indiana. That's about all of that part of the story that I know.

So as I was growing up, we would here about their children: Ward, David, Becky, Sarah, Jill, Theo, and Marcus. The older of the children would come to New Jersey to see us and visit the big city. They loved sightseeing in New York, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and just getting a taste of the city. I remember them talking about how they loved to visit, but wouldn't want to live there. They were country folk.

So one year when I was about 8 or 9 years old, a couple of cousins came that were 4 or 5 years older than me rather than the ones that were 9 or 10 years older than me. One of them was Jill (pictured next to me). I can remember her long, straight, blondish hair and thinking how pretty she was. She also had this very distinctive fragnance that I loved. It turned out to be "Shower to Shower" powder. And I also remember being intrigued by her wearing contacts. Not sure why, I just was.

She was really loving and caring; a very gentle spirit. She enjoyed spending time with us younger ones, but she spent lots of time with my older siblings that were her age. My younger brother, Jimmy, and older sister, Tracey, would be at home with Mom while they went sightseeing. My mom used to call us the "little ones" and my four older sisters and brother (Denise, April, Cindy, and Bobby) were the "big ones". So it seemed that the big ones had all the fun. We just played with our friends and would enjoy meals when we were all back together again.

Fast forward 15 or 20 years and what was established during those years when my cousins would visit has now become a relationship that is so much more. My relationship with Jill that is.

When I was in college, our families started to have planned "reunions". All of us Jersey folk got on a plane to head to Fort Wayne for our first official family reunion. It was great! God continued to weave our hearts together.

I later went on to graduate school in Davenport, Iowa to study chiropractic. Since Iowa is a tad closer to Indiana, I drove there several times to visit. It was especially memorable to me when Jill had met Tim and I was able to go to their wedding back in 1989 I think it was. I had looked forward to seeing all of my cousins and my Aunt Perina. I also met Tim's family, but could not remember all of them. Tim had a younger brother, also younger than me, whom I don't think I met at the time probably because he was just a young'n. The really interesting thing is that I would later end up marrying that same fellow.

In 1993, Jill saw fit to introduce me to Tim's brother, Shawn, at an Independence Day gathering. All of my cousins were getting together for a barbecue. They had a volleyball net up, too, which is always fun. On a whim, Jill thought it would be fun for us to meet. So it was on that day that I had met the man I would marry. To make a long story short (but not really), we were engaged after four months and married during our 11th month together. We have been married for 15 years now and all the glory goes to God Whom we keep at the center of our lives and family.

The other very important thing that Jill and I have in common is our faith in Christ. God has interwoven the two of us in different ways and this way has to be the most wonderful. We did not share that faith when we were younger, because at the time we didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus. God drew each of us to Him at different times.

Now when we get together, the bonds we share are:



Sisters-in-law, and

Sisters in Christ.

Does it get any better than that?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday!

Sweet Cousins!
Natalie (13), Rachel (12), and Braaten (11)

These girls just love to be together whenever we are in Indiana. They were up in my father-in-laws' hay mow just shootin' the breeze and making silly faces.

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop~ Meet my students

Since we are a homeschooling family, we fit right into this blog hop. Darcy over at "My 3 Boybarians" is hosting it and has been since the beginning of August. Each week she covers something a little different. I just happened to catch it this week and thought it would be fun to introduce my students.

I don't talk about homeschooling much on my blog possibly because it is, at times, THE hardest thing I have ever been called to do. It challenges me daily because of the immense responsibility of educating each child. If I am being completely honest, I just need some me time and that isn't always possible. I say all of this in the same breath that I say what a tremendous blessing and privilege it is to be at home with these precious gifts from God.


Introducing, and a lot of you have already "met" them...

One of my 3rd graders... Cooper Nathaniel

His twin, and the older of the two by a mere 12 minutes is Grant Matthew, also entering 3rd grade.

Melanie Grace is going into the 4th grade.

Braaten Noelle is 11 and will be starting the 6th grade.

And finally, Austin Robert~ my 8th grader.

Here are my precious five. I took this picture today with the inspiration of this blog hop. Aren't they the cutest bunch? Well, next to yours, I mean. Ahem...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

5/52 Photos of Me

Forever In Blue Jeans

"52 Weeks" is a meme that was created by Carin over at Forever in Blue Jeans. It's where moms finally get from behind the camera and into the spotlight. Since we are usually the ones snapping the photos, we tend to not be in as many. Join the challenge and post a picture or a few, as it were, of yourself with your family, or with some friends.

This week I have decided to put up some random pictures. I hope you decide to join because it doesn't matter which week you start in. Jump right in!

I met Debbie on our cruise in June. She's from Baltimore and has two daughters named Jaden and Kyla that became fast friends with my daughters, Braaten and Melanie. It was great getting to know her and her family and we may even one day go to visit them in Maryland once we move back.

This was a windy day at horse riding with Grant. We were watching the girls take their weekly lesson.

My friends, Jane and Leah, went to the annual Independence Day celebration with us that is held by the American Expats of Northwest England.

And lastly... how cute is this puppy? He is my friend, Liesl's, dog and his name is Marty. He looks like a stuffed animal, doesn't he? My kids love him!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday! A Day Trip

Taking the dog with us on a day out adds a little more work, but it's worth it! Fletch loves being with us anywhere we go.

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, visit here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back and on track

My father-in-law was playing frisbee with Austin.

I think Leona was checking her man out playing frisbee.

It's good to be back!

We had so many great times while we were home. But let me back up.

Right before we took the 8 hour flight to Michigan a couple of weeks ago, my in-laws, Paul and Leona, came to visit us in England. Our niece Chyenne, her husband, Zach, and our niece Natalie were also here. We took them to different places during that week like Wales, Liverpool, London, Stonehenge, and Chester, England. It was great to have them here.

Towards the end of that week, I had to pack us all up to get on the very same plane as them and head to the good ole' U.S. of A. In Chicago we parted ways. They went to Indiana and we ended up driving to Michigan. Long story. No need to go there.

We enjoyed spending time with our friends in Michigan. Visiting the church we moved from is always great because it's our family away from family. Our friends, Mike and Liz, hosted us in their home and our time together was great. I have no pictures downloaded yet, but will post them next time.

After Michigan, we drove down to Indiana where we stayed at my in-laws' home. We just relaxed, and enjoyed her home cooking, and also went to Pine Lake for the day.

We have been back here since Saturday and the jetlag is not gone yet. Last night, 4 out of 5 children were up until midnight and, needless to say, we are both tired. I informed the kids that if they don't stay in their beds tonight, there will be no sweets or "screens" of any kind tomorrow. Call me mean, but this mom needs her sleep.

Remember I mentioned taking my U.K. driving test a few weeks ago? Well, I didn't pass it. What a bummer! I actually cried. The minimum amount of time that has to pass before you take it again is 10 days. I ended up rescheduling it for today... not really great timing considering the jetlag I just mentioned, but the good news is...

I passed! Praise the Lord.

So glad to be back my friends, and I look forward to catching up on your blogs.