Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving.

So many things to be thankful for today! Wishing you all a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving!

I was hostess this year (as I have been for quite a few years), and I wanted to share a quick craft/idea to go along with your Thanksgiving table. A few years ago I made a plain table runner from a piece of muslin (cut to desired length, stitched one inch from each edge, then frayed the edges for a finished edge...a hem would have worked too). Anyway, I then traced each of our kids' handprints and wrote whatever they said they were thankful for. I also included their name and the year. The first year was rather sparse, but after 4 years it is filling in nicely! The runner is impossible to get completely wrinkle-free, but I love it. This year one kid was thankful for "love," one for "life," and one for "God and my family." Yep, they covered it all!



Again, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sky.




November sky in Nebraska...the only thing that makes it more perfect is when there are geese honking and flying low overhead.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Knitting, the next generation.




I have been trying to spend more time unplugged lately, so the knitting needles were pulled out this week after a long hiatus. I started working on a chunky gray lace patterned scarf for myself, and while doing so I heard, "Mo-o-o-o-m??? Can you teach me to knit?" This from Grace...how could I say no? We sat down and I taught her the basics of a knit stitch. Poor yarn choice and skinny needles equaled quick frustration for both of us! So, today we tried again with thick needles and chunky yarn and she has been going like gangbusters all day. I'm so proud of her! Less than 24 hours and she is well on her way to a knitted scarf. Of course, Lauren decided to get in on the action too so needles are flashing and clicking all over the place. It
pleases me to know that my girls are learning at the same age I did, and my mom before me.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Good tunes, good times.


Good, good stuff!  Thoroughly enjoying browsing through my favorites on this album tonight.  Browsing through memories, too.  Dancing to "The Longest Time" with my favorite guy in my dorm room, singing along to "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" with friends, sleeping at a total strangers' house in Ames after a Billy Joel/Elton John concert, and singing along at the top of our lungs to virtually every song the last time we saw him in concert here in Omaha.  Truly, if you want an amazing concert experience then Billy Joel is one not to miss.  Just wait til the encore when he sings "Piano Man,"  or rather 10,000+ concertgoers sing it to him.  Awesome.

Monday, October 17, 2011

1820.

Best. Coffee. Ever.



And yes, it is from Costa Rica. We finally used up the stash we brought home from vacation, so it was Amazon to the rescue. It has become our "weekend" coffee, otherwise we'd get through the entire kilo much faster!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

And...back to crafting.

I guess this blog is titled iCraft and not iSunrise, so I thought I'd share a recent craft project completed.  Thanks to Nicole, (with props to Martha), we made some of these lanterns the other night.  So cute!  I decided to make a few more at home, since I have more jars than I know what to do with!  And we had a double sleepover last night so this made a great craft to do with all of the girls.  They painted the insides of their jars, transferred the faces onto tape, and helped peel the tape as I worked the xacto knife.  After it was dry I did the wire also.  Total supply cost was less than $10 for wire, paint, a few brushes and masking tape.  Go to the project link for complete instructions.  Ours will be out on our porch on Halloween!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Progression.

Or obsession?









It makes my heart happy that my girls have learned, quite on their own, to watch the sunrise through bleary eyes at the breakfast table. This morning: "Look Mom, it's gonna be a good one today!" As for the boys in this family, well, they are up and out before the sun even tries to bound up into the sky. Missing out, I tell you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sunrise, again.

Today I was ready with my camera, when I first saw the pre-dawn clouds stretching across the sky. Unfortunately, the clouds and the timing of the sun just never quite became spectacular. Ah, well. Upon looking through my camera roll I see that I captured another one a few weeks ago that was remarkable. Agreed?


Friday, September 23, 2011




for all of my friends who enjoy a good sunrise...

Monday, September 5, 2011

9.5.11




there is something deeply satisfying with picking berries in the golden light of September, when the sky stretches forever and the ones you love more than anything are close within your sight. life is so fragile; cherish it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More retro love.

Ah, the wonders of the internet...

More trips down memory lane with the help of Google images!

My first grade lunch box:

A random toy I loved, yet another example of the rarest of occasions when my mom relented and purchased something for me spur-of-the-moment; and they are selling these again! I am totally getting one:


Another favorite item, I just loved this little set.

Of course Cabbage Patch Kids were the ultimate toy.

And no, my parents wouldn't dream of standing in line or paying an exorbitant amount to secure one for me just because I wanted one so badly. Instead, they gave me $1 and let me purchase a raffle ticket for one being sold at our neighborhood bazaar. Guess who won? ME! I cried literal tears of joy! Mine looks just like this only his jumpsuit is orange. (Yes I still have him, are you kidding me?) The name on his birth certificate was "Amery Delmar." Blech. I changed it to "Ricky," after this guy:

(I would like to point out that I must have had a good eye, because 25 years later he is still hot.)

Of course my husband still has all of these toys (our kids have all played with them and we will hang onto them indefinitely). My brother had a lot of those too, and we had these...I think I liked them not only for the characters but also because they had different color groupings (am I hardwired for the rainbow thing?)

My 90 year-old grandma still calls me "her little Strawberry Shortcake" when she saw this toy of mine and declared it was very cute:

And, I used to pretend that these guys lived in my backyard. The recent movie creeps me out...I like the 80's version better.

So what were your favorites? I know I have probably only just scratched the surface and could probably come up with pages and pages of retro loves. Though as fun as it is to search for these things, there is a sad little part of me that cringes when I typically have to type the word "vintage" before my search item. Hmph.

Retro rainbows.

You know how Google sometimes takes you to curious places?

Well, a little while ago I found myself Googling "vintage Trapper Keeper." Say wha..? I know, weird right? I was initially searching for a cool birthday present for my awesome cousin (who has a, ahem, rather significant birthday coming up), and the other day we were discussing the awesomeness of the Trapper Keeper from our youth. Hence my Google search.

Did you have a Trapper Keeper? They were the ultimate in back-to-school NON-necessities! I'm sure teachers hated them, with the velcro rrriiiippp every time they opened. I think I was heading into fourth grade when my mom, out of the blue, said my brother and I could pick one out. So unlike my mom, the kind of gal that would never buy us anything "just because!" Obviously we didn't give her the chance to change her mind and probably ran full tilt to Osco Drug to make our selections.

Mine was a no-brainer:

Awesome, right? Now I'm just waiting for the day that they bring back the retro Trapper designs and sell them! Except my fourth grader would undoubtedly tell me, "uh, Mom? Yeah, that's totally NOT cool." Sigh.

So my Google search didn't stop there, because I had another set of rainbows in my past that I remember fondly as well. I had an entire wall in my teeny tiny Ohio bedroom that was papered in rainbows. Google didn't let me down when I tried to find it:


Yep, that's the exact wallpaper I had! Can you imagine a whole room in that stuff? I think that's why my parents only did one wall, so I wouldn't fall down dizzy every time I entered the room. I found this photo as a listing on Etsy, where someone had sold an entire roll of the stuff. I would love a swatch of it, but an entire roll? Thanks, but, no thanks. I think I'll stick with my rainbow Trapper.

Friday, August 26, 2011

8.26.11




i realized tonight i am not a carnival person; rather, a sit next to a sleepy dog, book-in-lap kind of person.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bistro chair.


In love with this chair! (And thinking how nice it would look as an alternative to our current awful folding chairs, especially at holidays and big family meals). Justifiable, right?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just like old times.




19+ years ago I fell for this guy while working in a landscape nursery. His shirts were expertly rolled for maximum tanning, his hair was bleached from the sun, he was frequently found either carting heavy objects around or else driving a forklift, and he usually carried a walkie talkie while answering to the call "5-car." Honest to goodness, I love the smell of fertilizer because it brings back fond memories! It was with great humor a few weeks ago that we found ourselves back there. I just couldn't resist the photo op, complete with rolled sleeves. Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to conjure up the hair...:) But oh, we both had to inhale deeply when we walked through the fertilizer aisle!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

8.13.11




i told them the water would be cold, they didn't believe me. one step in revealed that yes, it was indeed cold. but they didn't care and had a grand time anyway.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beach road.

South Beach, this was not. Only a muddy, bumpy road, a few cinderblock homes, barbed wire fences, and farm animals. We drove to the beach in a golf cart, back and forth across the road to avoid the mud puddles. It was such a quiet little stretch and finally by the end of our week I hit the road on my own with cameras in tow. Were it not for the mosquitoes I would have spent more time framing shots.


Moo





I love the contrast between the delicate flowers and the fence

Cock-a-doodle-doo

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Photo editing.











I am thoroughly enjoying editing vacation photos! So many cool effects that take a decent shot to another level.
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Friday, July 8, 2011

After the boat.

Dramatic, right?

It was. But after an earnest talk with each other, and then with resort management, we sat down to dinner. And then we went to bed.

The next morning we woke up to jungle sounds and strong coffee, and had several more chats with management. We had some hard decisions to make - stay and try to make the best of it, or throw in the towel and go home?

We opted to stay.

I think we absolutely made the right decision. Had we gone straight home, we would have forever had entirely bitter feelings about the experience that is Costa Rica. We would have left in a state of fear and anxiety. Our kids might have learned that you never try to find healing and beauty after pain. They might have learned that it is always better to live in certain safety than to embrace life with all of it's twists and turn.

So we stayed, and the adventure continued. I do have more stories to tell. Would you believe me when I say that we even went on another boat ride? It was on a calm lake rather than the ocean, and the kids made certain there were life jackets for all... :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The boat.

Friends, I will admit this was a tough one to write. I have been telling this story in my head for about 10 days and honestly, it was not easy to put into words. I believe we endure trials not only because it strengthens our character, but also because we can share the story with others...

Imagine, you are in a foreign country. You don’t really speak the language but the people are friendly and you are overcome with how beautiful it is. Pictures don’t do it justice.

In this foreign country the ocean is near. The Pacific. You feel your vacation doesn’t really start until your feet are touching the salty water.

In the morning you play on the beach. It is deserted. There are butterflies flitting over your head, the waves are crashing against your legs, your suit is full of sand and you can’t believe you are finally, after all this time, here.

In the evening you get on a boat. Sightseeing, of course, at sunset. You have to walk through the water to climb on, because there is no dock. After all, this is a foreign country and they do things differently here.

As the boat takes off you notice the waves are choppy. The boat rocks back and forth and it’s not as comfortable as you thought it would be. It is small. And, there is no upper deck like you had been told. You know things can get lost in translation so instead you focus on the green hills in the distance. They are beautiful.

After awhile you see something in the water. Sea turtles. They are mating. You can’t believe you are actually witnessing this, a miracle of nature that you only read about in the encyclopedia.

The men driving the boat stopped the motor so you wouldn’t disturb the turtles. After the boat is past the turtles, the motor won’t restart. So the boat drifts along, past a sandy beach and closer to some rocks. It is quiet except for tink, tink, tink, tink, tink as they try to get the motor going. You try to focus on the green hills in the distance, although you notice that the wind has picked up and the clouds are building over your head.

Time goes by. They drop the anchor to keep your boat from drifting too close to the rocks. Sprinkles of rain hit your knees and you wonder how long you will have to sit here before the motor will be fixed. You are nervous and try not to show it, though if someone looked at your face closely they would see the concern building in your eyes.

Things get more frantic. The boat is getting closer to the rocks and you can hear the waves crashing against them. It is not a gentle sound. The men on the boat are acting more frantically, too. They are trying to get the anchor set along the ocean floor to keep the boat away from the rocks. One is pulling with all of his might against the anchor’s line, the other dons snorkel gear. And then dives in.

He dives down, moves the anchor. He surfaces, and catches his breath. Then the other man pulls the rope taut and the boat shifts a few inches in the water. The rain is coming down harder now and you are wet. But you don’t notice, because you are too busy watching the men perform this back-and-forth dance, dive-surface-breathe-pull. Dive-surface-breathe-pull.

You look behind you and the rocks are so close. They are sharp and slick and would not be a forgiving surface, were the boat to come too close. You are scared but still try not to show it.

Now, imagine you are a child on this boat. You might be six, or nine, or eleven. You are so scared that you are crying. You hear one of the men ask your daddy to jump into the water, to help move the anchor. Dive-surface-breathe-pull. You are terrified that he will not surface if he helps. You cry out and say, no daddy, don’t help! Please stay in the boat!

Imagine you are the daddy. You have been asked to help save this boat from the rocks and you will do all you can to help your family. But when you hear the cries of your children, you stop and reconsider. You say no, please, the children are too afraid for me to go. You look back at the rocks and wonder how the boat is staying away in the wind, the rain, and the choppy darkening sea.

Imagine now you are the mother of this family in peril. Your grip tightens around your children. Fear can clearly be read in your eyes, in the furrows on your brow, in the thin tight line of your lips. You hear the cries of your children and you hear your husband be asked to jump into the water. You silently say, no, please, don’t get in the water. Stay in the boat with the rest of us because you are terrified that he might not surface.

As the mother, you have to say something and through it all you have tried to explain that the motor doesn’t work and the men are trying to pull the boat to safety. Your grip is a vice on their thin arms. You hear the men say, the radio no work. You understand they do not have a phone and you are acutely aware there are no houses, no boats nor people anywhere. You are desperately alone. Your children are crying in earnest and it is all you can do to keep from crying, too. They ask you, mommy, what can we do?

Good question.

You answer, pray.

Just pray.

Dear Jesus, save us.

Your stomach drops as one of the men begins to pull life jackets from a compartment on the boat. He pulls out one, two. No more. You are shaking as you pull it over one child’s head and have to tie the strap in a knot because there is no buckle. You put the second one over your smallest child’s head…that one has no strap at all. It is only foam hanging loosely around her neck. You hear the man say in broken words that there are no more life jackets. There are seven people on board, but only two jackets.

The motor is broken. The radio is dead. The boat is barely anchored only yards away from slippery, sharp rocks that would surely cause damage to the boat, to bodies. There are not enough life jackets, and then one of the men says something that causes you to say oh, dear God.

He says to your husband, I’m sorry sir, but we’re going to have to swim.

As in, swim the children one by one through the open water and onto the slippery, sharp rocks. Swim you onto the rocks next. Then, if he's not too tired, get himself onto the rocks too. Then what? You don’t believe your children could navigate those rocks on foot. And even if they could, where would you go?

Your children continue to cry. They say they don’t want to die. They don’t want you or their daddy to die. They want to go home. And you wonder what it might be like to have a child drown. You try desperately not to cry. So you tell them, just pray.

You have them bow their head and fold their hands. You pray to Jesus. Please send help. Please save us. Please keep daddy safe and help these men and keep the boat away from the rocks and let it stop raining.

Please save us.

Your husband takes off his hat and shoes and begins to don snorkel gear and flippers. He will save his family.

But the fear can be read in his eyes, too.

Then, in the rain and the wind and over the crashing of the waves the Lord begins to answer your prayer. He whispers in your husband’s ear, have them test it first.

So your husband tells the men to go test the waters. Swim to the rocks and see if it would be safe before any children get pulled into the darkening sea.

One of the men listens, and swims to the rocks. He looks so small in the water. He comes back, breathless, and talks to the other man in a language you can’t understand.

The Lord is still working. His hand is in the middle of this and you know that but it is so hard because you are so scared. He whispers again to your husband, ask them to go for help. In his broken language he tells the Lord’s message to the men, get help. You swim to shore and get help. We will stay safe on the boat and wait.

The man agrees. It is so hard to watch him swim to shore and know that he is safe and you are not. You see him skim across the rocks in his bare feet. He is so good at it and he goes so quickly. Your husband sees him running farther up the shoreline, then out of sight.

It is dusk and the rain is now a downpour. You are soaked, and chilled, and trembling. You have not released your grip on your children who continue to cry. The other man, the one on the boat, finds a tarp and covers the children with it. Small mercies.

You all shift your positions a few times to shelter from the rain. You are thankful for hats that can shield your face. You pray silently in your head, please save us. Please save us. Please. Save. Us.

You look back and you see that the boat is farther away from the rocks. It’s like Jesus is in the water, guiding the boat with his hands. And He’s holding it steady, away from danger. You know Jesus is near you because you have no other hope but in Him.

Time goes by. The rain continues but you are used to it by now and you know it is one of your lesser concerns. You watch the horizon, where the sun is setting behind a haze of clouds, and wonder if a boat will come. You think you see something but you don’t. You shift around again and wonder when the nightmare will end.

Your prayer to Jesus is a mantra in your head. You know He is holding the boat away from the rocks and you know that he is the Savior not only of the dead, but of the living as well. Your hope in Him is the only light you can see by.

And then. A boat! The promise of safety! It is a small blur on the horizon that grows larger in the darkening night. Slowly, so slowly. But it is coming and you thank Jesus, thank you, for the man who went for help and sent a boat. Thank you for saving us.

You help your children climb into the new boat and help them stay safe among the knives and heavy anchors rattling on the floor and the dark men that all speak a language you don’t understand. You hope they know Jesus, too. You endure the ride back to shore while thinking this isn’t over until it’s over.

Finally, land. Your children are lifted onto shore by the dark men and you are helped, stumbling, through the water and onto the rocks where you climb, still trembling, to the van with blazing lights that is waiting to drive you away from this place.

In the van you weep. It is your turn now. Your hand clutches your husband’s hand. You can tell he wondered about the same things you did while on the boat. You are grateful that he was so willing to get in the water. You are grateful that his prayers echoed yours. You are grateful for your Savior, who heard your cries and came to your rescue.

Falling on my knees in worship
Giving all I am to seek your face
Lord all I am is yours
My whole life
I place in your hands
God of Mercy
Humbled I bow down
In your presence at your throne
I called you answered
And you came to my rescue and I
I want to be where you are
In my life be lifted high
In our world be lifted high
In our love be lifted high

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The muddy road.


I'm thinking it makes sense to tell my Costa Rica stories in chronological order...so here goes!

We were so excited to finally get to Costa Rica after months of planning - going in June we knew we would be there in the rainy season. We couldn't wait to get our first glimpses of the country from the air to see the green hills and volcanoes and blue coastline! Our plane descended through clouds, clouds, clouds...and we landed in the pouring rain. Pouring. The airport is not quite as "modern" as ones in the States, so even the big planes empty onto the tarmac and you walk around the building to go through customs - basically a big hangar that is open on either end. We slogged through ankle-deep water (with each of us toting our carry-on suitcases), went through customs, and finally found our driver to take us on the 1.5 hour drive to get to our resort.

Our kids quickly lost patience with the rain, because you couldn't see much along the drive. They nodded off and Kirk and I tried our best to see bits of the countryside - the city Liberia, cattle farms, hills in the distance, and once or twice thinking that maybe we saw a volcano or two. We hit the town La Cruz and ended up on a dirt road - one we had read about as being long, bumpy, and probably 45 minutes worth of our ultimate drive time.

It was at this point that we had a new perspective on the landscape, realizing we hadn't seen anything yet. We were looking out onto misty mountainsides and deep valleys that were absolutely breathtaking.

About 20 minutes into this part of the drive we came to a stop. There were a few cars parked ahead of us, with their occupants out in the rain looking over a ridge. Women and children were walking past us in the opposite direction, many wearing outfits that most definitely were not meant to be worn in the mud (white pants and heels? yeah, not so much). Our driver got out to see what was going on, and as we craned our necks we realized there was a bus that had gotten stuck in the mud further down on the steep hill. It was turned just enough that cars could not get past. Just our luck, right? We are 20 minutes away from our final destination and while we are not exactly stuck, we might as well be!

Kirk made a comment at this point, something to the effect that wouldn't it be great for our resort to send someone else to pick us up on the other side of the bus? I agreed but privately was glad that at least the kids were being quiet and were old enough to handle waiting in a parked car for awhile.

No sooner had Kirk made the comment, however, when from a distance we saw a young, blond guy walking up the hill - Kirk leaned over and said, "Oh, that guy just looks American. I bet he's coming for us,". Sure enough, he soon tapped on our window and leaning in said, "Hi, I'm Mike and if you're willing to get out and walk just a little way, we have a truck waiting on the other end of the bus." He even had 5 umbrellas in his hand. Saved!

We hauled out of our van, grabbed our luggage (so smart of us to pack lightly, thank you very much), and proceeded to navigate our way down the wet hillside. Grace stepped onto a piece of rusty barbed wire (oh-my-goodness-when-was-her-last-tetanus-shot? was running through my mind at this point) but onwards we slogged, out into the muddy road and finally down to the waiting truck. Also smart of us to be wearing our all-terrain wet/dry sandals rather than flip flops!

It took another 20 minutes or so before we were finally pulling into our resort, Recreo. Steep roads (but gravel, not mud!), pretty flowers, and a nice dry villa awaited us. We knew we were signing on for some adventure in planning a trip to Costa Rica - we chalked up our muddy, rainy roadside rescue as just one of the unexpected adventures that we would experience!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vacation.

After a week in the Costa Rican countryside we are home again. Costa Rica is stunning and pictures just don't do it justice! We are especially proud of our kids who were rock stars all week...from navigating a muddy roadside to facing fears on a zip line, from crossing the border into Nicaragua to enduring a terrifying rescue on the ocean. The majority of our trip was fun and relaxing and beautiful, so I will make sure to share many stories and experiences from that aspect. Only one story in particular (terrifying rescue) is hard to tell and I need to compose my thoughts before I put that one into words. Rest assured we are fine, with no more than a few scrapes, a little sunburn, lots of bug bites, and many memories!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Arizona, closeup.
































The roses above are in the church garden where my grandma's ashes will be interred. The church photos are San Xavier Mission, an old Spanish mission church dating back to the 1700's. The bright white church can be seen from the interstate, out in the middle of the desert like a mirage. And the car...well, for a minute there I thought that maybe Thelma and Louise didn't end up in the Grand Canyon, after all. :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Arizona.

I traveled to Arizona (Green Valley, south of Tucson) to be with family and to attend my grandma's memorial service. I went alone, which under normal circumstances I consider solo travel a luxury. However, this time it was a bit lonely. I missed Easter festivities and a big 5th grade band concert, and Kirk and the kids all missed the opportunity to memorialize a beloved grandma/great-grandma. We chose my solo travel plan purposefully, but really we all missed each other and I couldn't wait to get back home.

Since I was alone, I had lots of time to reflect on life, love, and what "home" means. I was away from my family. Yet, I was with my family of origin. A weird moment for sure when my brother and I found ourselves in the backseat of a car, with my parents in the front. They all agreed it was weird, too!

Once upon a time, "home" actually was Arizona for me. I was in third grade when we moved from Toledo, OH to the Phoenix area. We only lived there for a few years and I remember I loved it, I think in part because it was so different from anything I had ever known. By the end of 5th grade we moved from Phoenix to Omaha and that is where my home has been ever since.

Still, on this trip I was struck, as I always am, by how different the landscape is in Arizona. Desert. Rocks. Cacti, from prickly pears to Saguaros. Mountains. Blazing blue sky. Foreign and exotic. Beautiful and barren. Lush blooms and dust.

I had a window seat on my second flight yesterday, rising up out of Phoenix and it's red, rocky mountains. Over northern Arizona and it's forest of evergreens, over the Rockies still covered in snow, finally crossing into the plains with verdant fields and farms. Home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter weekend.




my grandma passed away last week. i'm thinking that holy week must have been a grand time to be welcomed into heaven.