Our summer was as crazy as ever. We had 2 birthdays in June, 1 in July and 4 more in August; there was a wedding in June; 4th of July in Clear Lake was awesome (AGAIN); Caitlin and Grace spent much of the summer at camp, either camping or working; we went camping a couple of times; we spent a great weekend at the Omaha zoo; we renovated our kitchen; we went to Family Camp at IRBC and weathered a scare when Jeremy fractured his skull!
Autumn hasn't been any slower so far. Mary is home-schooling six children; John is working a (temporary) new schedule which has him doing 7 over-nights in a row once every 4 weeks--the benefit is that he has 7 days off every 4 weeks too. In early October, we used those 7 days off to haul the camper out to eastern Iowa and spent time hiking along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River and enjoying the scenery; we went out last weekend and picked out/tagged a Christmas tree. We'll go back to the tree farm in early December to cut it down; we've been raking a ton of leaves, and the yard is full again!
May: John bowled in the Iowa State tournament in Council Bluffs in May, which is right across the Missouri River from Omaha. The whole family went out and we spent 2 days exploring the Omaha Zoo.
The zoo was actually very hilly, and there was a LOT of walking!
June: We celebrated Jeremy's 8th and Caitlin's 16th BD's. Caitlin got her license and has been doing a great job driving. She'll only drive the Suburban however since John's Honda has a manual transmission and Caitlin is not too fond of a clutch. Jeriah and Shawna got married on June 21. Caitlin and Grace were the guestbook attendants and Juliana was the beautiful flower girl. The newlyweds honeymooned in Ocean City, MD and had a second reception in Havre de Grace, MD hosted by Jeriah's grandparents for those family members who couldn't travel all the way to Iowa for the wedding. Mary spent a week nursing at Special Camp at IRBC. She's been doing this for many years now and loves it. We took the camper out to Clear Lake State Park for several days at the end of the month and the kids had a blast. We began our kitchen project by ripping out the island and moving the dishwasher over next to the sink. New cabinets and countertop gradually made their appearance!
Jeremy's first BD with his forever family
Caitlin loves her new IPod!
Caitlin was giving all the kids rides on the scooter
We were camped on a circle and the little ones just loved riding around and around
John's favorite position when camping
July: we went home from our little camping trip on July 3 and then headed downtown to the annual July 4 carnival by the lake. On July 4, we watched the parade in the morning and a spectacular fireworks display over the lake at night. Nathan celebrated his 5th birthday later in the month and we spent a weekend in Colfax at Jeriah and Shawna's.
Sarabeth blazing down the giant slide
What a MESS!
But it sure is gooood-e-licious!
Emma Nichols and Grace carried our church's banner in the July 4 parade
Caitlin was walking alongside handing out Vacation Bible School invitations
Sarabeth enjoyed the ride and all the waving
Nathan got a remote controlled Cars car!
It says January 3. Trust me......it was July.
August: is a VERY busy month at our house. Birthdays for Juliana, Jeriah, Shawna and John. Family Camp is usually in August. School starts at the end of the month. We were kept hopping. We went to Mary's sister's house in Ames on the 5th and celebrated all 4 August BD's that evening. Family Camp started on the 9th and we had a great time again. On the last night of the camp, they opened the pool for an evening swim. Jeremy was up the ladder, down the slide, up the ladder, down the slide....over and over. Until....he went up the ladder and lost his balance, falling back head first onto the concrete. We took him over to Mercy in Mason City where they diagnosed a fractured skull and admitted him to the pediatric unit. The next morning, they decided to transfer him to Iowa City, as there was a very small bleed in his head and they wanted surgical backup just in case it got worse. Jeremy and Mary spent 2 days in Iowa City as Jeremy dealt with a major headache. A few days after getting home, he was his old rambunctious self again. Praise the Lord!
Mama and her littlest girl cutting the BD cake
Another BD cake, this time for 4!
Jeremy and Dad heading off to the zip line. Jeremy jumped off that building 8 times this week!
We all enjoyed splashing each other on the bumper boats
Jet Ski rides are always a highlight of Family Camp
"Faster daddy, faster"!
Jeremy enjoyed his first JetSki ride
Caitlin climbing the wall
Sarabeth beginning her climb...
...and reaching the top. Congratulations Sarabeth!
Caitlin taking aim
She wouldn't shoot Bambi, would she?
No she wouldn't, but HE would!
Jeremy did EVERYTHING this week, except climb the wall
Caitlin and her good friend Julie
Grace, Nathan and Jeremy spent a lot of time on the Slip 'n Slide
September/October: School's in full swing. Jeriah has started into the Master of Divinity program at Faith's Seminary. Caitlin is a junior and Grace a freshman. Sarabeth and Jeremy are doing mostly a 3rd grade program, although Jeremy is still behind in reading. That will catch up as his vocabulary continues to grow and as he has more time to practice. He has only been in the US since March and he's doing great. Nathan and Juliana are doing pre-K work and both are reading! Juliana is especially proud of this feat.
As I mentioned earlier, we were able to spend a few days camping out near the Mississippi River. We spent one day at Iowa's Pike's Peak State Park and another day hiking/exploring through the Effigy Mounds National Monument area. There are several Native American burial mounds and animal shaped mounds located throughout this park. We took about a 1.5 mile hike that had some pretty good climbs. When we got to the top, the views of the river were spectacular. We saw some wildlife (deer; turkey; hawks; giant millipedes etc.) on this trip and also heard the coyotes howling at night. It was a very nice getaway for the family.
Hiking up a hill at the Effigy Mounds National Monument
It's hard to see at ground level, but this mound is called "Little Bear" and is in the shape of a bear.
At the "Fire Point" overlook, which was the 1/2 way point of our hike
All the kids at the Pike's Peak overlook. The Wisconsin River empties into the Mississippi here.
What a beautiful view of the Big River. Prairie du Chien, WI is on the other side of the river.