Saturday, September 25, 2010


I know I have posted on Freedom Farm before, but we just love it so much, that it never gets old. Freedom Farm has provided Melissa and so many other kids the opportunity to reach their potentials and soar. With a wholistic effect in all areas of social, physical, and mental skill, it just can not be beat.
Due to some extraneous circumstances for the owner, the annual riding celebration was held without any actual riding going on. But, no matter....there were so many other fun things to do, that all these kids still had a wildly special day. And with Uncle Neddy's famous pork chops on a stick, what else do you really need?

The kids got to brush their horses in the arena and introduce them to their family members.

As you can see, Melissa had quite a fan club of her own.

There were adorable bunnies, baby pigs, llamas, and goats to pet.

Crafts such as make your own mugs and bracelets.


Horse Bingo.

Oh. And cow roping. Can't forget the cow roping! This kind comboy had the patience of a saint and spent all day helping kids try over and over again until they made a successful hitch. And once they did, they were so very ecstatic! I think the cowboy was, too!

And of course, awards......

....this year with name engraved trophies and certificates.

We ended our lovely day with a horse drawn wagon ride around the farm. It was such a perfectly beautiful fall day. Celebrating Freedom Farm and all of the volunteers, family members, and kiddos who make this place so special was a wonderful way to spend the day.

This evening, we had the honor to celebrate our favorite young man who is dedicating his life to ensure that we all continue the freedoms that we are blessed with in this country. During his one week break, we celebrated with Bob's nephew, Daniel, who just graduated from the Marines!! An extensive, difficult, and gruelling program, now completed successfully. Handsomely dressed in his Marine apparell, he looked like a completely different young man. We wish him well as he returns for combat training, then moving on to special ops. God bless Daniel, and all the members of our military who give themselves selflessly day in and day out so that we may live out our own days in relative comfort and security.

Friday, September 24, 2010


As one of our favorite Veggietales songs goes, "and I've never been to Boston in the Fall!", such is true for our family as well. In fact, we have not much gone anywhere in the fall(wow, is that a grammatically poor sentence, or what?). We have been to Duluth perhaps once when the big boys were babies. And one year I brought the kids up to Vining to visit our beloved friends over the October MEA snowed on our last day, and the kids had a blast sledding down the hill despite not having any winter wear to speak of. It was a good decision to take that extra vacation day to spontaneously play, as that was one of our drier winters, and the kids did not get to play in any amount of measurable snow again until almost February!

But, Boston? No, not in the fall. On this rainy first day of fall, I am thinking about our sunny trip out to Boston this past summer. It was filled with many long driving hours, record high temperatures and humidity, beautiful landscapes, amazing wonders, tons of American history, and lots of fun!

We (Bob, Jonny, Tubby, Bethany, and I) drove to Boston to follow the Marching Band over the 4th of July holiday. Alex would also be attending a Youth Ministry Conference in Kentucky. The start date of the conference conflicted with the end date of the band tour. We drove out to bridge the two together for him, by driving like crazy people for more than 15 hours from Rhode Island to Kentucky on that last/first day. It was also Michael's first year with the marching band, and we were so excited to see him in the parades...just like Alex's first year when I felt compelled to follow him out to Colorado.

Here are just some highlights of our great trip:
We drove a lot. A LOT. Usually between 10-13 hours in a day. Our first big day comprised of driving across this entire map....from Madison WI, to Buffalo NY. We had sunny weather each day with which to view the gorgeous scenery. Bob, bless his heart, drove all but 2 hours of the countless hours we travelled in 7 days. The DVD players in the back for the kids, VBS songs to calm Bethany, and listening to James MacDonald's multi-part study series on the book of Hebrews kept us sane.

Simply beautiful and wondrous. The day was glorious and perfect, making everything about this sight-seeing stop picturesque. We walked close to the falls,

rode the Maid of the Mist under the falls,

Tubby cried like crazy during the voyage, as he was scared for his life, certain we were sailing towards his imminent death by drowning under the falls. He was led to that conclusion due to a question he had asked the day before, inquiring if we could ride over the falls. We were unable to console him on the boat because sometimes Tubby's conversational English is not so, how say I say, decipherable? Especially when he is crying uncontrollably! Poor kid!

and observed from every cool vantage point we could find.


The kids were in two parades on the 4th of July. The first took place in historic downtown Boston. It was exciting to be in the birthplace of America on America's birthday! We felt so, well, patriotic!

That afternoon, the kids participated in the longest parade in Massachusetts.

Finally, the country's oldest parade was held in Bristol, Rhode Island the next day. This parade has been held for 225 years! Continuing with the blistering heat that day, several of our marchers had to bow out along the route due to heat sickness. By the middle of the afternoon, the ambulances were coming in a consistent stream as parade goers and parade members continued to fall victim to the extreme heat. Thankfully, all of our band members recovered well, and no one required a side trip to the local ER.


Not a history buff to be sure, but Boston was very cool. The whole city was like a museum, dating back to the very first days of our history as Americans. We followed the red line, marking the Freedom Trail, leading us to many magnificent, old buildings, and learned a few things about the earliest settlers.

Charming cobblestone streets

a beautiful garden -across from Boston Commons- in the middle of this huge city

Dunkin' Donuts on every corner.
Everywhere you look, history is staring right back at you.


We spent one quick and very hot afternoon dipping our toes in the ocean, eating ice cream, and viewing Plymouth Rock and a replica of the Mayflower. This is where the pilgrims landed, kids!


Breathtaking. I could sit it the mountains peacefully forever. Bob and I were both most surprised with how beautiful it was to drive through New York (not the city, but the state). We drove the entire length of it through rolling hills and smaller mountains, farms tucked neatly away inside the hills. So green, lush, and beautiful! It reminded me much of Minnesota with the added benefit of mountainside.

Once given the free, uncluttered space in the expanse of our Massachusetts hotel room, Bethany was busy practicing her new walking moves. It wasn't long after this trip that she became a walking pro.


Perhaps it is just me, but I just think these things are so neat!

So that is our extremely condensed version of our Boston goal is to have Jonny write some more details with more pictures about it in future posts this fall!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Photography Homework

At the end of our photo shoot on Sunday, Alison gave me a little bit of homework for portrait taking to work on. Last night was another gorgeous evening, so I recruited a few willing volunteers for a very quick session. The pictures turned out a bit dark and most of the ones I took of Tubby were way out of focus. Man, it was tons easier the other night when Ali walked me through it step by step. Tonight, the new lens my husband bought for me arrived. Doesn't it make a beautiful difference?
(for the life of me I can't remember what red stuff she had on her face...we had chicken and rice for dinner, nothing requiring ketchup....hmmmmm...)

I am excited for more lessons soon!