Monday, January 31, 2011

Say That Again???

This past weekend Todd went kayaking again.  He has been trying to get out at least once a week.  Usually he takes with him one of the elders from our church - Dirk.

Todd got a kick out of Saturday's trip.  Both Todd and Dirk are pretty blind without their glasses, but neither one of them wants to risk losing them on the trip so they have opted to paddle "blind" down the Wenatchee River.

On this particular trip a giant bird flew over their heads.  Squinting as hard as he could Todd called out to Dirk, " Hey, I think that is a bald eagle."  At which point, Dirk squinting as hard as he could confirmed that Todd might be right.  He thought he saw some white on its head.

After their float was over, Todd and Dirk were heading down the Tumwater Canyon when they decided to check out the water to see if they were up to some Class 5 rapids.  They are not, by the way.  With their glasses on and able to see a whole lot better, Todd looked up and this time saw two bald eagles overhead.  They were pretty excited that this time they could actually see the birds and enjoy them.

Yesterday, in Sunday School, Todd was telling this story to the class when Walt, who is 98 years old and very unpredictable, pipes up, "Those weren't eagles.  They were Siberian Seagulls."  ( I need some sound effects here.  You know, like, budump bump! With maybe a cymbal crashing.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ski Hill and more

It's Wednesday and that means time to go skiing. 
The kids can't wait for time to load up and head up the hill behind the house to put on ski boots and skis.  We are generally the first ones there and that means the first ones on the hill. 

Ski hill uses tow ropes to get you to the top.  There are two hills here to ski on.  Bryce is still on the small hill, but it won't be long before you can head up to the big hill nearby.  The tow rope can be a challenge in itself to learn how to grab on and let it pull you up the hill, but Bryce got up on his first try.

His next lesson to learn was how to stop and better yet, how to get up when you fall down.  Last week, he mastered those two skills. 

Today, he was skiing like a pro, turning, stopping on target, and have a lot of fun.

Brian and Bonnie moved across the field to the big hill today.  Bonnie said it kind of "freaked" her out, and Brian fell the first time getting off the tow.  However, he stayed on the big hill the whole time. 

It has been two weeks since our last snow fall and the temps have been in the mid 40s ever since.  I don't know how much longer we will get to ski but we will be on the hill every Wednesday as long as they let us.


In other news, Todd and I had a great date.  The hotel we stayed at is evidently brand new.  I  highly recommend the Comfort Suites if you ever need a place to stay in Wenatchee.  We took time to swim in the pool and hang out in the hot tub.  Dinner and lunch at the Olive Garden and just had fun hanging out together.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Date Night

Todd and I are going on a overnight date!  Woo Hoo!!

For Christmas, Todd gave me a night out in Wenatchee.  We will be staying at a hotel that has all the perks and dinner out.  I know this sounds cheap, but for me, the thing that makes it really relaxing is that there is no money involved.  Evidently, Comfort Suites sent out gift certificates to all the churches in the area.  Todd held on to his until Christmas.  He also racked up a couple of gift cards to the Olive Garden which will pay for dinner and lunch.  Ok... I admit it...I am cheap. : )  Frugal is my word of choice.  Regardless, we get an evening to ourselves with no phones, no interruptions, good food, a hot tub, and more.

Todd's mom is taking the kids for the evening and tomorrow.  That means I need to set up their lessons for tomorrow so that they have plenty to do when she goes to church to work in the office.  My only qualm is that tonight the boys start wrestling practice and I won't be there to get them started and meet the coach.  I have half a mind to talk Todd into coming back here for the start of practice and then leave after it gets going.  hmmmm...I will have to think on that one some more....

So time to get this day rolling, set up lessons, pack the bags, and get this day started.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January Birthday Celebration

In Todd's family there are a lot of birthdays in January.

Todd's mom and dad; his brother, Joe; Joe's wife, Betty; and Todd's niece, Ashley.  Yep, five Ells birthdays. 

 To celebrate, Susan has everyone over to her house and she makes homemade donuts.

Once the dough has been fried in hot oil, the granddaughters grab bags of sugar, cinnamon, or powdered sugar, drop the donuts in, shake , and deliver a confectionery donut. 

Happy Birthday Ells clan!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ice Fest

To begin, I am sorry that it has been a while since I have been on. 
I picked up a computer bug the other day while trying to snag a coupon off of facebook.  The coupon had been hacked and a bug was attached, or least it appears that a bug was attached because I have had computer issues ever since.  My wonderful husband has promised to sit down at the computer and remedy the problem but has not yet.   Nothing is working as smoothly as before and my time is too limited to work with all of its kinks, but I decided to take the time this afternoon and fill you in on the latest.

 I was sharing with my friend, Teri, in Michigan that our little town has festivals every month sometimes even more than once a month. Last weekend was Ice Fest.

Bonnie, Autumn, and I walked downtown to see what this festival was all about.  Everyone was worried that the festival would be rained out.  The temperatures stayed above freezing but the rain didn't come until evening. 

During Ice Fest, the town has all kinds of competitions for individuals and teams to compete in.  For  just a few dollars, you can sign up you and your family or friends to compete in the most unusal events. 

For example, smooshing....

Smooshing is a race that involves two 2 X 4s with shoe straps on each board.  Four people line up, strap their shoes in, and with synchronized movements smoosh their way down the road.

Behind the town on Black Bird Island, a few dog sled teams lined and up gave tourists rides on their sleds. 

It looked like a lot of fun to go for a ride.  Later in the day, the dog sled teams headed for Front Street to compete in different races.

If you walked farther down the highway to the Lion's Club Park you would find the snow sculpture competition.  One of our friends, Cheryl, and her family compete in this every year.  They made a snow sculpture of Stuart Little in his row boat.  It was really cute.

The river rock fireplace was the most intricate of the snow sculptures and obviously the crowd favorite.

Of course, the kids all loved the igloo, mainly because they could all climb inside.  Bonnie said she could stand up inside of it.

Did you know you could spray paint snow?  I didn't, but obviously you can.  I thought this was a good one of Frog and Toad.

We saw all kinds of sculptures.   Some tried to depict Leavenworth, some came from story books,  there was one of superman standing up, and a boat on the river.  The weather was perfect for the snow sculpture.  With the warmer weather the snow was wet and easy to pack.  I am already thinking of plans for what I would like to do next year.  Bonnie is game so we might just have to sign up for this one.

The next day it rained all day. I thought the Ice Fest might be rained out but around five we saw that the snowboarders had come out to do some tricks on the hill next to the gazebo.  The family put on their snow/rain gear and walked downtown to watch the show.  The city had built a couple of snow ramps and put up a rail for the snowboarders to do some tricks on. 

Later in the evening the city put on a spectacular firework show.  I am sure it wasn't the best Ice Fest ever with all the rain but it still was fun.  I am hoping next year the weather will be cooperative.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two New Additions

We have a piano!!
Not just any piano, either.

This is MY piano.
The piano of my youth.

Sixteen years ago, when we lived up in Plain and worked at Alpine Boys Ranch, Todd and I brought my family piano over from Tennessee. 
Unfortunately, when we moved to Michigan, I couldn't take the piano with me so we donated it to the boys ranch.

When we moved back this summer, I asked the secretary at the ranch if my piano was still there.  When she informed me that it was, I asked her that if ever there was a day that the ranch decided to get rid of the piano, I wanted to be the first on the list to take it. 
Well, last week the secretary called me up and said they really weren't using it and I could have it back now.

Today, instead of doing school, we spent the day getting a trailer and loading up the piano.  We also got to take the opportunity to take the kids through our group home where we once worked and were Todd once lived as a boy.  Even Bonnie spent the first few months of her life there in our group home.

Now Bonnie can take piano lessons, in fact, she is down there now playing on it.  Oh, one other thing....all of my piano books were still in the bench so Bonnie has some beginner books to work through until we get a teacher lined up.

The piano wasn't the only new addition to our home this week.

We are also the proud owners of a new van.

Some of you know we once had a mini van but gave it to some friends when we left North Carolina.  We still had our Chevy Blazer which fit our family perfect but it fit only our family.  Since we have been at the church, we are often asked to give rides to people within the church.  Also, with me babysitting, we often have an extra child in the house.  This causes a problem with our five passenger vehicle.  If the roads aren't bad, Todd can drive the truck or his mom gives some of our kids a ride so that we can fit everyone in.

That brings me to our new van.  Sunday, Todd's mom came over and told us about this van her mechanical wanted to sell.  It is a 1998 GMC Safari eight passenger van.  It has less milage than our current vehicle and has been completely overhauled.  The cost wasn't bad either.  So with much thought, we decided it was an offer we couldn't refuse and purchased it.

Now we have a seat for everyone. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Day to Sleep In

Finally a day to sleep in.

I know that we had a two week break just a week ago, but every day was so full that there were not any opporturnities to just relax.  Finally, that day is here.  Of course, if I was a really good wife, I would have gotten up at 6 to make my husband a good breakfast before he headed out to go kayaking. However, I asked to sleep in, and he opted for McDonalds instead.

The boys have their friend Dante over this weekend.  They stayed up late playing games and slept in as well in the living room.  With a teen now in the house, you know Bonnie will grab as much sleep as possible. : ) So she slept in late as possible.

Our agenda for today is pretty simple.  Todd is off kayaking in Plain on the Wenatchee River.  The boys are playing with Dante.  Around noon, Bonnie's friend, MacKenzie, will be coming over to hang out while her mom goes skate skiing.  Around 2, Mackenzie and Bonnie are heading to MacKenzie's house for the rest of the day.  By that time, Todd should be home, and I am hoping to run into Wenatchee to get a few more supplies to finish my present for my sister-in-law, Betty.

Bonnie is pretty excited about going to MacKenzie's.  MacKenzie's family lives in an area here in Leavenworth that is only accessible by snowmobiles in the winter time.  Snow plows do not venture up their roads, so they park at the bottom and ride snowmobiles for 3 miles to their house.  So today, Bonnie gets her first snowmobile trip.  (As you can imagine, the boys are jealous.).  I know she is going to have an amazing time today.

Other than the basic house hold duties, I plan to take it easy and enjoy the day.  The sky is bright blue, the sun is shining, and a few cumulus clouds are in the sky.  You couldn't ask for a more beautiful day.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Snow Fort

In earlier posts I have talked about the kid's snow fort.  When I saw the boys playing in it this afternoon I figured I better get out there and take a picture of it while I can.  As you can see, it is higher than the stop sign which is in the background. 

This is actually fort #3. The first snow fort was next to the driveway where all the snow had built up from shoveling off the driveway and from the neighbor plowing off his parking area.  However, the kids abandoned it when it collapsed on them. 

Fort #2 was built when we got over 14 inches one day and all the snow build-up slid off our neighbor's roof creating a large pile between our two houses.

But  this is the favorite of the forts.  The city piled up the snow here when they cleared off all the snow build up that was blocking the street parking.  The kids used a couple of old butter knives to dip out tunnels and such to make it what it is today.

Right now the fort is rock hard due to several days of  warm weather followed by a week of single digit weather.  I think they will have it for a while to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Get Ready to Ski

Today I am excited and nervous.

 Excited because the kids get fitted for skiing for the after school ski program.

 Nervous because I get nervous over new, unknown things.  I hate walking into unfamiliar buildings or jumping into unfamiliar routines.  Jump I must.

I found out last night that all of my old, boy's ranch, homeschool friends participate in the program and that I should know about 90% of the people in the program so that makes me feel better.

So today after school, the kids and I will head over to the middle school where they will get assigned ski boots, skis, poles, and whatever else they might need. Next week, they will then head up ski hill which is a mile behind our house and learn how to ski.  This is going to be a real, fun adventure.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Have you seen the show Hoarders?

This is not Clean House or Clean Sweep this is hoarding to the max. degree. 

Now that we have tv again, I have found a fascination with this show.  Unlike Clean House where the people sort through the stuff, sell it all at a yard sale to make money for home improvements, get a fresh coat of paint, new furniture, and a beautiful, clean house at the end, in Hoarders these people are psychologically sick.  They can't see the mess.  Smell the rot and decay. Worst yet, their homes are so filled with stuff, mainly trash, that they have no room to live in their own homes.  The majority do not have functioning kitchens or bathrooms.  Many sleep in a space that could barely fit a child.  The level of filth is unheard of and yet they can't figure out why they are sick all the time.

Last nights episode was one of the worst.  Mainly because it dealt with animal hoarding on top of hoarding stuff.  One man had gotten rabbits which multiplied to at least 25 rabbits living freely in the house.  The rabbits had eaten their way through the walls and destroyed everything.  Worst yet, the couple who were hoarding these rabbits and junk were renters.  As a landlord now, that really freaked me out. 

That is one realm of psychology that I don't think I could ever be involved in. 

So now you know my sick obsession.  I still don't know why I am intrigued by the show.  You don't always end up with a clean house at the end.  If they do manage to clean it up, there is no new paint or new furniture.  Half of the people still don't get what they did wrong.  Just another example of the power of sin in this world and our need for a Savior.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Break is over and time to get going again.  To be honest, I seriously contemplated taking today off but decided just to ease into it instead.

The alarm went off at 5am to get up and exercise but Todd informed me that he wanted to exercise at noon so I reprogrammed the alarm and went back to sleep for an extra hour. Up at six with breakfast on the table by 7 and everyone except for Todd and I were still in bed.  I think that fact settled it in my head that I should let the kids sleep, get some prep done for the school day, and start an hour later than usual.  I think that was the best decision.

Finally prepped with Latin worksheets and Science study guides, the boys began to emerge and I felt an hour and a half of extra sleep was sufficient enough so that I could wake up Bonnie.  In all reality we weren't too far behind schedule and the kids were in a better frame of mind with the slow start.

After a heart to heart chat with the kids, a couple of chapters in Judges, and a new list of Latin words to learn ( I think I am finally understanding how to conjugate verbs and noun declensions.) the kids broke off to their individual math and language workbooks.  Brian is learning how to figure annual premiums for insurance.  He hates it by the way.  Not that he can't do the math, but he can't figure out why he needs to know what the insurance premium is for a 40 year old male who wants to take out standard life insurance for a $400,000 policy.  I understand his pain, but start tell him to start figuring it out.  Who knows he might just be an insurance salesman. NOT!  Bonnie is in the midst of Algebra 1 and finding it easy to handle.   Bryce is working with equivalent fractions, reducing fractions, changing mixed numbers to fraction....OK how about I just say fractions.  Oh and by the way, I love fractions.  Why I didn't get it as a kid I don't know, but I get them now and thank goodness, so do my kids.

I don't know if it was due to our slow start or not, but the day seemed to drag by.  Bryce finished all of his studies but Bonnie and Brian didn't make it to science.  Time ran out.  I still had to run errands, fix dinner, put together a snack, and host a Bible study at the house.

The day is just about over.  Everyone is in the rooms, supposedly winding down for the night, but the war yelps I hear coming from the boys' room means they are still wound up not down.  Shortly, the lights will go out, I'll watch my new favorite Monday night show on A&E - Hoarders and then tuck in.

The ice has been broken.  The school week has officially started and we all survived.  So why don't I feel ready for tomorrow?  Oh well!  Such is life.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

This New Year blew in with an Artic Cold Front.  Burr!  It is cold outside.

Our good friends, the Harpers, arrived on Thursday to say good bye to 2010 and Hello to 2010.  I had a lot of great plans for this weekend.  Mainly a lot of sledding in the snow and playing outdoors but with temperatures ranging from 2 to 25 it was a bit too cold to be out for long. 

We did manage to venture out Thursday afternoon to the downtown sledding hill.  I wouldn't say that we were sledding on snow though.  More like ice.  It was very slick and treacherous but the kids still had fun.

Even though we couldn't spend our time outdoors that didn't stop us from having fun.  The kids enjoyed having Risk tournaments and playing on the Wii Fit, while the adults played cards.  Mike and Sue are our favorite Rook players.  We have yet to find a couple that we enjoy playing Rook with more.  The guys usually beat us girls but we don't mind.  We still have lots of fun.

We didn't quite make it to New Years on Friday night.  The adults were plum worn out and sent everyone to bed at 11pm.  Of course, the boys stayed up in their room til midnight and watched fireworks out their window.  We figured it was New Years back in Michigan and Tennessee so it was good enough for us to go to bed. 

Now everyone is gone.  The food is all put away, the house is cleaned and the decorations have been taken down and boxed up.  Time to get back into a normal routine, but it sure was a fun break.