Thursday, June 30, 2011

Prayer cups

One of the favorite parts of my job is to work with my group of high schoolers called Federation. I have so many wonderful memories of my Federation members. We have gone on a lot of adventures together and created a lot of great memories.

We have also created a lot of interesting traditions.
Roll call question - The Vice President comes up with a question that everyone answers for roll call.
Tell Me A Story - This is a great tradition for our many road trips. Someone picks a topic and everyone in the car has to tell a story about that topic.
Speaking of... - This is a spin off of Tell Me a Story. The next person has to pick something out of the previous story as a topic for their story.
The Book - This is a Federation journal that gets written in anytime there is a funny or interesting happens. Some of the things written in there are quotes from Federation members or facts about a meeting or event. I love to see them go back through the book and remember when...or ask about something they missed.
Federation Cups - This is what I really wanted to tell you about. This is a unique tradition that I started about 10 years ago.
The picture on the right is the first time we ever had assigned cups. It was a weekend trip to a lake house. Rather than going thru a zillion paper cups, I took a bunch of random cups from my cupboard. Everyone had a different one and it was theirs for the weekend.

And that started the tradition. Every time those Federation members were at my house, they still wanted to use "their" cup. So we started writing it down. The lists below those two pictures are the written notes with their names and then a description of their cup.

Eventually I started a new tradition of taking their picture with their cup.
It is fun to look through all of the photos. It is also easier this way when a Federation member comes to my house for the first time and has to pick out their own cup. They can see which ones are already taken. 

When my family and friends come over, I explain the tradition to them and tell them whose cup they are using. I ask them to pray for that person.

My nieces and nephew have their favorite cups they like to use each time they visit.
J picks Chrissy's Clover glass.
C especially likes Katharine's star glass.
Little J would like to use Steph's sheep glass or Sam's Muppets glass or Katie's Snoopy glass. But he usually gets to pick between Grant's green plastic cup or Ashley's plastic cup.

The hard part about this tradition is when I accidently break someone's glass. They happened yesterday to Max's glass. I think I have another one just like his in storage. But usually they have to pick out another one. 

Since the tradition has been going on for many years. There are many Federation members who are now alumni. I've often wondered if I should give them their glasses and ask them to reverse the praying tradition. They can pray for me when they use their own Federation cup. I haven't done that yet. It may have to be the next phase of the tradition, because my cupboard is very full.

Happy Thursday

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Signs that company is coming...

Laundry is all put away...

The dining room table is cleared...

The blanket is removed from the chair...

Flowers are picked....
Gifts are waiting....

My CFA is out of town this weekend. She is visiting my other CFAs (her sisters). Her friend Kim was passing through town and was going to stay at my CFA's apartment by herself. I invited her to stay with me instead. It gave me great motivation to really clean my house. :)

I love having company.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

I had a couple of other blog posts planned out in my head, but then I remembered today is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to my dad!
Back in April I did a little feature on my mom and posted 10 random facts about her. I'm going to test my creativity and see if I can do the same thing for dad. (It's harder than it looks. You should try it.)

1. He was in Iran and Iraq in the army.
2. He has been engaged twice and married once.
3. He was born prematurely.
4. He worked very very hard in a blue collar job for 35 years to support his family.
5. He sacrificed a lot while his kids were growing up so that he could pay for all of our college educations. He (and mom) gave us the wonderful gift of graduating debt free and they did it debt free also.

6. Up until a year ago, he farmed 20 acres. He called it his expensive hobby. For about 30 years of farming, he used an old two head Oliver combine. He would spend weeks repairing it every fall and then usually harvested in a night or two, after work.
7. Someday he is going to build me a sand volleyball court at their house.

8. He build their house. It was a "group" project that took ..... hmm how long did it take?.... I'm going to guess 25 years. My mom may correct me on this one.
9. He gave up drinking soda in a effort to start feeling better. Right dad? You gave it up, didn't you?
10. He loves to go target shooting with his friends.

And I want to give a shout out to another great father I know, my BIL.
Mr. Banker.

Our family birthday party is always together.

When we get together at my parents, he has to suffer through allergies. He's allergic to cats. And I don't hear him complain.
He played football in college.
He also wrestled in high school.
He loves to golf and watch cars race around in circles and go hunting.
He planned out a really cool marriage proposal to my sister. She was working at a radio station at the time and he surprised her at the studio while she was on the air. They have a recording of it.
He does not like beets. I think that is about the only thing he does not like to eat. 
Happy Father's Day!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Super Adventure

As promised here are  a few photos from our excellent adventure.

I think the highlight of the weekend was the picnic on top of the tower. 
I took the kids to an observation tower that is right along the lake, that is along the river. The area is a reclaimed wildlife refuge. For 100 years, the area was drained using pumps that ran constantly, in order to farm the land. About 10 years ago the pumps were turned off and within two weeks wildlife began returning to the area. If you are ever in my neck of the woods, please remind me to take you to the tower. It is really beautiful.

As you can imagine, the kids had no idea what I meant when I said we were going to a tower and have a picnic at the top. They thought it was going to be like a rock climbing wall. When we arrived, they were a little hesitant, but once they got to the top, they were very excited.
Two things were exciting to them.
A. The telescopes were free.
B. We had our picnic under the umbrellas.

Just as we got to the top, it started to sprinkle. Thankfully, the kids had asked if they could take my umbrellas with us to the top. They found some binder clips in my camera bag and (on their own) rigged up a little picnic pavilion by clipping the edge of the big umbrella to the wire fencing. It was great. We all fit underneath and had a cozy little lunch.
The sun came out a little later and we enjoyed a sunny adventure, searching for wildlife, climbing up and down the stairs and taking pictures. 

The rest of our time together was filled with bike rides, playing at several different parks, making craft projects, cooking and going to the computer lab. 

It was a very happy weekend together.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I love taking pictures

Sorry it's been a few days since I've posted. This weekend I was enjoying time with my nieces and nephew. We have a tradition of having "Birthday Weekends" and this weekend was little J and C (middle child) special weekend. All three of them actually come. I just try to plan things that are just for the birthday child(ren).

I don't have my photos uploaded yet, so I'll save the fun stories until then.

For now, I'll tell you about some recent photo shoots that I've been on.

I'm shooting my first wedding this summer! I'm very excited. I'm working with a wonderful bride and groom. I know the bride's family through 4-H and all of them are completely lovely people. 

I just met the groom last weekend when we met to take engagement pictures. My first impression is that he is just as lovely :). He was an awesome trooper in sticking with us through our many locations.

I didn't get to finish editing all of the photos yet, but here are a few that I sent to them for a sneak peek.

I am also working on a totally different kind of photo opportunity. I'm helping Farm Bureau get ready for their county fair display. They are going to have each of their board members photos on display along with a quote about why they are members of Farm Bureau. For these photos the Farm Bureau manager would like the photos taken out in their environment. 

I am so thankful that the FB manager is taking me to all of these locations. A. She knows where she's going. I would have gotten so lost out on these country roads. And B. She does a wonderful job chatting away with the guys and they are much more relaxed. 

Together we have been able to capture their personalities. So far, we've only made it to a handful of locations. Here are a few...

I really needed someone else to take a picture of me taking this picture. I was standing on a step stool in the middle of a feed lot, while another steer was romping around. Literally, romping. It would jump and kick and run and play. It also kept trying to sniff me. I was so scared I was going to end up on the ground in a pile of poo. Thankfully, I only ended up with poo on my shoe.
The steer that was romping around is a 4-H steer, so I guess I have to be understanding. 4-Her J has one month to get his steer a lot more calm.
For those of you keeping track of the European Doorways Cast of Characters. This is Insurance Boy (IB). He also happens to be a Farm Bureau Board member. We met up with him while he was out working in the field. (He might be upset that I edited his nice logo off the side of his truck, but it had his name and city. The real photo looks nice with it on there.)
We had just come from a lovely photo shoot with another board member who had iced tea waiting for us on the deck. An hour later, a corn field is not the place that I needed to be. 
IB kindly offered lovely facilities out behind a grain bin. Uhhh, no thanks. 
Needless to say, we didn't spend a lot of time at this location. The FB manager is not content with this one. I wonder what IB will say when he finds out she wants to do another set of photos?

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reading & Sleeping

In the Company of Others by Jan Karon is the second book in the Father Tim series. 
Jan is also the author of the Mitford series books. I have read all of them and I own all of them. And now thanks to my CFA, I also own both of the Father Tim books. She found the second book for me at a rummage sale for 50 cents. 

A great book for a great buy! That's a Win Win.

I'm about half way through the second book now. They are wonderful stories. If you are looking for a happy book with lots of thought provoking stories, I highly recommend any of Jan Karon's books.


My international J friend sent me an email yesterday proclaiming super news from her house. For the first time in 3 1/2 years, all three of her kids slept the entire night through. And so did she!

Even though they have grown tons since my last visit, I am sure they are still just as cute. And I hope sleeping well for a second and third and fourth night in a row.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The air conditioner is officially ON. And I have a feeling it is going to stay that way for awhile. 
Up until this week, the house has stayed pretty cool thanks to the shade trees surrounding my house. But now, the humidity has made it challenging to stay comfortable.

What is the worst part of the humidity is that it is playing havoc on my internet connection. I don't have a strong signal. So I'm typing fast and hoping to get this posted while I still can.

This weekend I got to enjoy a fancy dinner out with my co-workers and their spouses. We went to Biaggi's in the Quad Cities. It was so nice. It has been a really long time since I have been out to a nice restaurant. I even ordered dessert :).

No pictures of the food, but a few photos of the wonderful company I got to enjoy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Fun

I left work early yesterday.

Don't worry. I worked very late on Thursday night just so I could do that.

There are not many things that will get me to leave work early during June and July. Let me show you a few of those things....

My second camera man.

Little C.

Big Sis J.

A photo shoot with Mom and Dad.