Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, on a camping trip we go.....

Look at this picture of me..... Do I look slightly STRESSED? And poor Jacob- does he look rather unhappy? Well, guess what.......this picture was taken while I was on vacation in Montana!! Yep, and so was this one........
Is this the face of a person who's supposed to be enjoying the clean mountain air?!?! I THINK NOT!!! You see, even on our 2wk trip to Montana, I could not escape the lure of technology. And if I keep this up, I'm gonna need some serious Botox- just LOOK at those wrinkles in my forehead!!!

I have to admit, sometimes I feel like I have a full-time job trying to keep up my blog, tweet on twitter, and learn all the technology that goes along with those two things. And on top of that, I'm trying to learn how to use my camera (in MANUAL that is!) and work with my photos in Lightroom. You might say I have a lot on my plate- ya know, the plate that is already loaded down with the care and keeping of 7 children and one puppy dog! And I'm not gonna lie- sometimes I want to throw my computer out the window rather than try to conquer a post at 10:30pm. But I've decided that, in light of all of the medical issues that have plagued my family in the last few weeks,and rather than destroying a very expensive and helpless piece of technology, I need to take a break. I love my blog- I love the blogs I follow- I love the blog community- I love Twitter- and I really love my new Tweetdeck, but I know that my world will not fall apart if I'm away from these things for a few days.

So, The Gang and I, along with Zack and our wonderful friends that live down the street and that we adore and that are kids all hang out with 24/7 and that have a son who is dating our oldest daughter (yeah, them!), are all headed out to the lake this weekend for some downtime! (BTW-don't you love my sentence structure? Do you know that my dad got his master's degree at Duke University in English and then taught U.S. Army cadets at West Point for 3 years?!?! HI DAD!!!) Yep, we're going to the lake on Thursday and won't be back 'til Sunday, and as tempting as it is to beg my husband to take his computer with his satellite access card so that I can keep up with all that I think I'm going to miss out on- well, I won't be doing that ;-) Nope, not me!

Instead I will be relaxing. I will be eating s'mores and playing cards and swimming in the lake and going on the jetski and soaking up the sun and jumping off a boat and laughing and not caring if my kids are covered in dirt and not making any beds and not worrying about proper nutrition! Unfortunately, before I can get to all of the above, I will have to complete my packing- packing for a camping trip for four days for 9 people! Yep, it all started yesterday and will continue through Thursday morning. Before I can relax, I first need to take the dog to the vet to get a shot so that he can be boarded while we're gone, buy tons of food, pack up all the tents and camping equipment that will be needed, pack up clothes and towels and lifejackets and sunscreen-- well, you get the idea! Can someone please check to see if I'VE LOST MY MIND?!?! Actually, I'm kidding. It is a lot of work to get ready to go, but the end result will be worth all the effort! And as much as I will miss the blogosphere, I will return happy and refreshed and ready to contribute my daily tidbits- and without putting additional wrinkles in my forehead!

So, there you have it! I will greatly look forward to my return and to discovering what everyone has been up to while I'm gone, but I will enjoy my break! In fact, why don't we ALL take a break! Then I wouldn't have to worry about missing out on anything!!! Just kidding, of course- well, not really but.........! I will still have my cell phone so there will be access to Twitter- with all the stuff going on in my family and with Stellan , I am not going to cut things off completely;-) And speaking of my family........

Family Update: my mom had her angiogram today and they found NOTHING! No sign of a heart-attack and no damage, so they are thinking that she probably experienced something having to do with her SVT- PRAISE GOD! We will HOPEFULLY know more in the morning, and I will update when I hear (I know I have friends and family reading my blog for updates)- the doctors will decide how to proceed from there. My dad is healing and hanging in there. He is due to have more x-rays of his lung in the next couple of days. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers! We truly appreciate them!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mcklinky Blog Hop!

boys and haircuts 025 Hey everyone! I had such a hard time choosing pictures for this blog hop! As a mom of 7, I have so many favorite pictures that it's hard to pick even a few (never mind trying to choose just one!)! If you like these pictures, be sure to check out our slideshow at the top of my sidebar titled "Get to know us"- there you will find lots more pictures of the kids from years ago!! Enjoy hopping!!! BTW- this first picture is Noah & Matthew and the second is of Josh & Noah!
boys and haircuts 029
scan0001 And here we have Emily on the BIG toilet and Sophie on the LITTLE potty!
scan0013 Emily & Sophie again- guess they wore themselves out going to the bathroom!
scan0014 Gee, Emily & Sophie must like eachother a lot- here they are again!
scan0021 And now we have just Emily Rose on her beautiful rose quilt made for her by my mom!
scan0022 Allie is our trouble-maker-- and she likes to bring others down with her!! This is Allie & Emily (ages 3 & 2) in the bath. Too bad it wasn't bath time!
scan0031 I told you Allie is a trouble-maker! Here she is poking her 3wk-old sister in the face!
scan0086 This one is a little more recent- this is me and our youngest baby (Jacob).
scan0138 And Matthew was always know for his incredibly WILD hair!!
scan0097 This final one is of the gang before we added Matthew and Jacob to the mix!
Thanks for stopping by ;-)

MckLinky Blog Hop

Praying for Stellan....

Prayers for Stellan

I'm not sure where Stellan is right now. The last tweet from Mckmama was about 4 hours ago, and they were in the process of preparing to transport Stellan via air to Boston. Things have gone downhill rapidly, and my prayer is that, although we have not heard anything for a little while, things are moving along and progressing as they need to and Stellan is stable. Mckmama has sounded completely heart-broken over the last 24 hours, and it scares me. Of course I am praying for a miracle, but sometimes what we think of as a miracle is not what is in God's plan. Only time will tell, but there are MANY things we can do to show our love and support for Sweet Stellan in the meantime!

First of all- you can visit Mckmama's blog and leave a comment of support. You can also wear orange to show Stellan some love (it's his most favorite color!). You can follow Mckmama on Twitter- just click on the link on her blog. And if you are a Twitter user, you can add a Stellan banner on your profile picture for all to see (go to www.twibbon.com/join/Stellan). You can also join the prayer vigil that has been started and visit #prayforstellan on twitter.

Most importantly, you can get on your knees and pray.

Update on my mom-- she is in very stable condition at a hospital in Billings, MT. She will undergo a procedure tomorrow to give us more info on her situation. My dad is with her and is doing well. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

God's Timing...

About a week ago, we were visiting my parents' 40acre property high in the mountains of southwestern Montana. The kids had a blast as they explored and enjoyed all that the great outdoors has to offer. The most favorite activity was the four-wheeling, and the kids just couldn't get enough! My dad hopped on several times and rode around with some of them..... ....and so did my mom......
A lot of things can change in one week. A lot of things can change in a very short period of time. Last Sunday, my mom and I drove back to my house in Kansas, and my mom planned to return to Montana on Wednesday after she rested up a bit. On Tuesday, as my mom and I were finishing up lunch, we got a phone call from my dad telling us that he had been injured when he jumped off his out-of-control horse. As soon as my mom knew that my dad was safe in the hospital, she hit the road and headed home.......and I thought that things would return to normal.

My dad suffered severe injuries from his fall, to include 9 broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade and a punctured lung. He spent several days in the hospital, with my mom at his side, and was finally released on Saturday after they removed the tube from his lung. He was feeling pretty good, as you can see here......

My parents were able to get a hospital bed delivered out to their house to use for a few days so my dad could rest comfortably, and I thought, with a sigh of relief, that things would return to normal.......

But that wasn't meant to be. Today, my mom planned to leave my dad at home to rest while she made the 5-hour trip to Billings (MT) to meet with a cardiology specialist. You see, my mom has a health issue of her own, and it's one that will not be put aside to wait for my dad to recover. My mom has been diagnosed recently with SVT- the same thing that baby Stellan is currently suffering from- and she was scheduled to meet with a doctor on Monday morning to talk about having an ablation (again, the same procedure that Stellan had several months ago in Boston). Incredibly, my dad decided that he would join my mom on the trip, and so they packed up the car and the dog and headed out on Sunday afternoon so that they could be in Billings for the morning appointment. My biggest concern up until that point was that my mom was going to go off and leave my dad at home alone for 24 hours- I had no idea that he had planned to go with her.

Around 3pm this afternoon, I received a phone call from my mom's cell phone, and I answered it, expecting to hear her voice on the other end- but it wasn't her. It was my dad, and he said Jenny, something's happened to your mom...... then silence. What dad, what happened? Still silence. Now, I knew that she was supposed to be driving to Billings, so I immediately assumed she had been in a car accident, and I yelled was she in an accident? Dad recovered and said no, it's okay, she's in the hospital......she was feeling bad and we think she's had a heart-attack. WHAT?! WHAT?! No, I did NOT see that one coming.

I regained my composure and began to fill in the blanks as I questioned my dad. Apparently, as my parents were nearing town (that is 50 miles away but is the closest to their house in the middle of nowhere) my mom began to feel as if something were wrong. She instinctivly knew that she needed to get to the hospital, and incredibly they were right there. She drove herself straight to the emergency entrance, jumped out and ran in the hospital, leaving my dad to shut off the car and slowly make his way in. By the time he found her, she was already hooked up to an EKG, so he left to go move the car out of the ER entrance! (And remember, this is the man with 9 broken ribs and a punctured lung- oh yeah, and a broken shoulder bone) By the time he returned, the EKG was complete and the doctor determined that she had indeed had a heart-attack. She was given drugs to break up the blood clot and her EKG returned to normal within a few hours. PHEW. Amazingly, she got on top of the situation so quickly, that there was probably NO DAMAGE done to the heart- amazingly- but only to us. God knew where she needed to be, and he let her in on it!

As I sit here tonight, I am at peace. I called my sister in Germany earlier and woke her up- she was worried.....and scared. It's hard to be so far away and feel like there's nothing you can do. But we don't need to worry. God has had HIS hand in this situation from the day my dad jumped off that horse. I didn't feel so calm earlier. I kept feeling like I had 500lbs of pressure on my chest, and it was hard to catch my breath. I had a really hard time calling Allie (who was out with a friend) and then calling Emily and Sophie (who are in Chicago). And I just kept on doing what I was doing when my dad first called me- dusting my house. Yeah, stress and fear do strange things to you. I was determined to finish what I had started- make things feel normal- and dust my house. How is it possible that one week ago, we were all having a great time riding 4-wheelers, and now I have one parent that is severly injured and one parent that is about to be air-lifted to a hospital? And how is it that my mom was going to meet with a cardiologist tomorrow about her SVT and suddenly has a heart-attack out-of-the-blue? TIMING- you know, if my mom hadn't been headed into town at the exact time that she was, and if my dad hadn't decided to go along with her , and if she hadn't had an appointment scheduled to get to in the first place....... not to mention the fact that she and baby Stellan are in such a similar boat right now, and they both mean so much to me....... it's all just a little weird to me- the timing I mean. And it makes me wonder not only what's next, but what am I going to take away from all of this? These things are all happening at the same time, and they're not part of my plan........

My mom was supposed to fly to the hospital in Billings tonight, but the weather was bad, so they decided to wait until morning to get the helicopter. The plan is for her to meet with the cardiologist there (the same one she was supposed to see tomorrow anyway) and probably have a catheter put in. It is possible this is all related to her SVT, and it is possible that she simply had a heart-attack. She may or may not still need an ablation, and it may or may not happen soon- we will see....... My dad, who thought she would be headed out tonight, got a headstart and began the 4-hour trip before he knew she wouldn't be going until morning. I talked to him as he neared his destination, and he sounded good. It takes a lot more than a punctured lung and 9 broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade to keep a United States Army officer and Vietnam War vet down! I don't know very many people that would be doing what he is doing, but now I think I know why I was able to give birth 7 times with NO epidural!!!

So, tonight I am at peace with my parents' situation- thanks for all your prayers, and a special thanks to my dearest friend Kay whom I have not seen in 9 years but have stayed in contact with (mostly through email)! She was so sweet to call and check on me- I can't remember the last time I actually talked to her in person, and it was great to hear her voice. She truly lifted my spirits!!!

My concern tonight actually lies more with Stellan- it has been a complete roller-coaster ride for that sweet baby, and I pray that things will turn around quickly. We've witnessed several miracles with this little guy before, and I am praying for another one now!

I will post more as I know- tomorrow is another day.


Someone got a haircut yesterday, and it was someone's first haircut, and someone didn't like it...... nope, didn't like it ONE BIT!!! Poor tortured Jacob! Actually, we took all 4 boys in yesterday to Great Clips for haircuts- and it was a good thing they didn't see us coming or they would have closed up shop!! When we first arrived, there was a 25 minute wait. The boys started out playing quietly with the small bucket of nasty, dirty, disqusting, hair-covered toys they found stashed in the corner, but it didn't last long! By the time they finally called Josh, we had already had several incidents (grabbing and throwing of display shampoo, hitting, throwing of toys, etc). When they called Jacob, he had no idea what was in store. Although Zack held him the entire time, Jacob was MISERABLE!! He cried so hard that he had tears rolling down his little face :-( It was hard to watch, but it needed to be done- he couldn't see through those long bangs anymore!
And Jacob isn't the first one of our boys to have this type of reaction. Josh used to have incredible screaming fits EVERY TIME we took him to get his haircut, and he was 2 at the time! Noah wasn't much better, but at least we didn't need earplugs! Matthew still gets a little nervous and likes to have someone stand right beside him and hold his hand, but he does pretty well. Let's just hope Jacob will take after Matthew!!!

And you know how they always give the kids lollies after their haircuts? Well, Matthew has decided that if the lollies are small, then he should have two of them- always! He started this last year, and he's been doing it ever since. Now, if it's me giving out the lollies then it's not a problem, but when it's someone else's lollies, it's a little more challenging! How do you tell him no, you can only have one this time when he's always used to getting two?! It didn't really matter this time anyway, because he had the wrappers off of two lollies and had shoved them both in his mouth before I even noticed he had been offered any! Luckily, I had my camera on hand to capture the sticky smile ;-)

We made it out alive and then headed out to do some shopping- we are going camping next weekend at the lake with our friends and can't wait! We haven't done any real camping in years, so we have some stuff to stock up on. After a stop at the sports store, we headed over to eat dinner at a fun little place where we could sit outside and enjoy the beautiful evening. There were some fun little fountains and bright-colored chairs for the kids to enjoy- they had a blast!
I took a bunch of pictures of them, and I think I got some good ones! If you want to see more, head over to my new photo blog and check them out! I've also posted on Matthew's Madness if you haven't been over there for awhile! And finally, if you're wondering about my dad, he's home and you can check out his progress on my mom's blog!
Well, we have lots of work to do around the house today, but my prayers will certainly be with Stellan! He is not doing well, and my heart goes out to Mckmama and her family as they go through this struggle yet again. I hope you all will add them to your prayer list- you can visit them here. Hope you all have a great Sunday!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pardon me please!

Yes, I feel the need to apologize after my last post- it was slightly OUT THERE! Of course, I'm better today- in fact, I'm feeling back to (dare I say it?) normal. Actually, I was fine yesterday- after my rant that is- and got through the day with no more issues. And I now know, my dear blogging friends, why I love blogging so much. Where else can you vent like that and have so many people ready to support you?! And not only that, but sometimes it just helps to put it all down in words. It allows you to collect your thoughts and see them all in one place- that seems to make them more manageable. In fact, most of my problems didn't go away yesterday, they simply were put into perspective. And that is why I was able to get up this morning and focus on something other than my "to-do" list. Oh yes, we haves miles of things to do today, but I'm choosing to enjoy my beautiful flowers instead of worrying about chores! When I bought this small plant, you could hardly see it in the big pot. It was so small in fact, that I kept thinking I needed to add something else to fill up the pot- good thing I didn't! Now it's spilling way out of the pot and invading the stairway leading to the deck....
I'll be sad when summer's over and this plant is gone, but then I have my fall mums to look forward to! AHHHHH, the seasons of life- always something new and exciting on the horizon.
I spent about an hour last night photographing Allie and her friend Shannon. I made a lot of mistakes, but I think I learned from them- it's gonna be a long road! Anyway, feel free to check out the results over at Jenny's Joy!

Friday, July 24, 2009


Last night, sometime around 10:30pm, I decided to scrap my plans for the evening and enjoy my still-awake boys. My original plan was to type up a post, research endometriosis, and work on some photo editing- but that was not what happened. The boys were giggling and playing and were not about to fall asleep- they had both managed to squeeze in a nap after dinner and were not the least bit tired. Most people would just put them in their beds and let them get themselves to sleep, but not me. Nope, I gave that option up several years ago when I started letting the boys fall asleep on my lap or in my bed before carting them off to their own beds- ahhhh hindsight, it's truly 20/20!! But that's not the point of this story...... As I looked at my 2 little monkeys, I realized that the only way they were going to settle down was for me to lie down in the middle of the two of them.....
So, that's what I did! And then we took a picture....
And that got them more riled up!!
Needless to say, it wasn't until I shut off all the lights and got a little more serious about bedtime that I was finally able to accomplish the task and get my little night-owls where they belonged- in their own beds!!

By that time, I was exhausted and decided to scrap my post, along with all my other plans. I even decided to put all my errands for the following day on hold and take the kids to the pool instead. But as I started to put my computer away, I realized that there was one thing I needed to do for my own peace of mind. Yesterday, Allie's pediatrician told me something that I hadn't been expecting. I thought that Allie's current medical issues (migraines, irregular bleeding, severe cramping, acne, nausea, etc.) were all due to out-of-control hormones, and we've been working with an OBG to try to get things under control. But when Allie went in for her well-visit yesterday, her pediatrician seemed to think that there might be something more to Allie's problems- something called endometriosis. We did originally check for this condition before we started hormone therapy (a.k.a. birth control pills- I just hate to call it that for a 16yr-old!) by doing an ultrasound, but everything looked good at the time. So, about 11:30 last night, I started researching this new possible diagnosis, and what I found was not encouraging. One more thing on my worry list! We have an appointment on August 11th with Allie's OBG, so I guess I have to wait until then to start the process of determining what is wrong with my oldest child.

This year has been so hard for me as we have had so many medical issues come to light. I have always felt so incredibly blessed to have so many healthy children, and that was always my main concern! Take away all our money, our house, whatever possessions we have, but leave me with healthy children- PLEASE!! And for whatever reason, things have just snowballed with all the kids this year. I visit the pharmacy several times a week now, and I consider our pharmacist to be family at this point! We have had CT scans, MRI's, X-rays, ultrasounds, and procedures done this year that we have never had before- 3 of us have had CT scans in the last 6 months alone, and Allie has had several ultrasounds and an MRI! Noah has also had an ultrasound, and Zack had his first CT scan! Then there's Emily, who is scheduled to see a bone and joint specialist for severe pain in her knees, hips and wrists- she also has a severe case of hammer toes that will eventually require surgery! I know, I know, all of this doesn't seem like much- I mean, no one has cancer and we can deal with all of this. I don't mean to sound like a complainer, but it sure does weigh on my heart and causes me lots of additional stress, no matter how much I try to not worry!

And honestly, I didn't really put it all together until my dad had his accident- that really brought it all home for me. You begin to realize just how fragile your health is...... And speaking of my dad, he is still in the hospital, and if you're interested in his recovery, please check out my mom's blog here for an update!

So, I went to bed last night feeling upset, but determined to get up this morning and take some time to decompress..... that didn't happen. Nope. It just didn't happen.

I slept in- that was my first mistake. I probably needed the sleep, but that put me completely behind in my day. BTW- sleeping in for me means 8am! As soon as I got up, I got busy stripping the beds- today is laundry day for all sheets and towels (not to mention the other 3 "normal" loads!). I then called my mom, desperate to try to figure out how to download my pictures onto my computer without having them go through Lightroom first. I was ready to get this post typed up, but didn't want to deal with the uploading nightmare that has become my life!! After 3o minutes on the phone, the task was complete, but chaos was reigning in my house. Babies were screaming and toys were being thrown. The kitchen was a disaster, and the t.v. was WAY TOO LOUD!! Jacob needed down from his highchair and then needed a major diaper change- darn it, I should have changed him before I put him in his chair because his overloaded diaper burst and the gel inside spilled out all over the place when I laid him down on the living room floor to change him!!!

As I was lugging the carpet cleaner up the stairs from the basement to clean up the diaper mess, I began to feel sick to my stomach. It was now 9:30, I had errands to run, Matthew had just run out the door into the garage and let both the baby and the dog outside, the kitchen was still a mess, I had phone calls to make for doctor appointments, everyone was still in their jammies (including me), the boys were fighting over the t.v. (please don't judge me here people!), I was determined to get this darned post typed up, I have things to learn about my camera, I have 3 blogs I now have to try to keep up with, I 'm trying to stay on top of all my tweets ( did I metion that I have been asked to be a Community Leader for the Blog Frog- such an honor!), and I now had the nasty job of cleaning the carpet. Oh, there's more..... but I'll spare you the details and move along with my post, which I now forgot the point of...............!

Oh yeah, decompression! Whatever happened to THAT plan?!?! I was gonna go to the pool today and forget about everything else. I guess that sort of went out the window when I had to drag out the carpet cleaner. It just made me realize how much further behind I'll be if I don't keep trudging along today. I don't know why exactly, but somehow our trip to Montana kicked my butt. Maybe it was all the driving, or maybe it was the fact that I was without my Zack for a good part of the time, or maybe it was just the fact that I couldn't really get anything done while I was there and things piled up at home. Oh, I know, maybe it's the 2 bedrooms that are still waiting to be painted and decorated that are driving me NUTS!!! That's another thing I forgot to mention- Emily decided that her new room just wasn't right (that's my fault- I should have known better!) and so now, we will be completely redecorating for a more rustic and western theme- which also means repainting that room- here we go AGAIN!!

Whatever the reason, I am overwhelmed, exhausted and I have PMS- gee, maybe THAT'S the reason!!! But I am feeling better now that I have vented a little and finally got a post typed up! About the only thing left to put in this ridiculous post is that I am desperately trying to get you all to go over to my BLOG FROG widget on my sidebar and visit MY COMMUNITY! I have a discussion going on over there about photography and would love some feedback, or you can start your own discussion!! It's really a great tool and resource once it gets going. If you have a question or need some advice, simply post it over there and then others can visit and reply to your question! At least go over there and look around- just click on the VISIT MY COMMUNITY at the bottom of the widget and that's it! As I mentioned above, I have been asked to be a Community Leader for the Blog Frog, and I am so excited about the opportunity. My main goal is to get everyone to head over to the Blog Frog homepage, look around and maybe even sign up- they have some amazing widgets over there! And not only are the widgets very user friendly, but if you have a question, the staff at THE BLOG FROG is amazing! So, I hope you all will brighten my day and check them out! And I also hope you will ignore ALL my typos in this post because I am so done that there is NO WAY I'm going back through to check it all over!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My new journey....

Ok, I finally decided to make the leap, jump off the cliff into the great abyss, run with my eyes closed, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, fall without a net, journey to the center of the earth- well, that may be a BIT much! But, in all seriousness, I really am embarking on a journey that I have been avoiding for some time now, and I decided that I really would like for all of you to come along-why? I don't know! Now the pressure is really on!! Actually, I'm hoping that I will gain great knowledge from all of you out there that are willing to help me become successful in my new quest ;-) And so, without further ado, I will tell you exactly what this is all about!

I have always loved photography. I'm one of those people that takes 5 different pictures of the same thing from 5 different angles, and I have more than 5o photo albums to prove it! About 3 years ago, just before the birth of my 6th child, my husband gave me a brand new Canon Rebel XT. Since I've had it, I've gotten great pictures, but they've all been taken using the automatic setting! I can't help but to feel guilty about having this wonderful camera that I have no idea how to use. But honestly, I didn't really care until about a year ago. That was when I realized that there is so much more to photography than simply taking a picture- things like framing the subject and lighting and focus. It was also then that I realized that I was spending hundreds of dollars for family portraits that weren't very good.

And then there was my mom, who has been encouraging me for years to do more with photography, and who decided to start taking workshops to really learn about her own camera- she had the same one as me, but I got mine first. She has since moved on to a "bigger and better" Cannon that I got to use on our trip- I'm HOOKED!!

Anyway, long story short, after watching my mom learn her camera and seeing what she is able to do with her pictures, I am finally ready to try to learn a little more about the bigger picture-- pun intended ;-) I was fortunate to get Lightroom 2 from my parents while we were in Montana, and I am anxious to really learn how to use the program to touch up my pictures. And I can tell it's going to be quite a process as I've already hit my first roadblock- when I upload my photos now, they go straight into Lightroom, whether I want them to or not, and then I can't figure out how to upload the "fixed" images to Blogger- HELP!

But I do want to be clear, while I hope to take great pictures of my friends' children for fun and practice, I have NO desire to try to start up any kind of business at this point. I just want to be able to take great pictures of kids and then enjoy them! And I want you all to enjoy them and be able to follow me on this great big journey (not to mention I need lots of criticism and help!!), so I decided to start yet another blog ;-) It is called Jenny's Joy and you can check it out here! My hope is to have a place where I can put huge pictures, as opposed to a blog with lots of writing. If you head over there, you will see that I haven't yet figured out how to make my pictures bigger than the standard "Blogger" size, but that is on the top of my "to-do" list- just as soon as I get 5 kids back in school!!!

So, all that said, here are some pictures I took at dinner tonight. I had fun playing with my camera, using manual settings and experimenting with aperture!! Unfortunately, although I fixed them in Lightroom, when I uploaded them to Blogger, I got the original image- oh well, I knew this wasn't going to be easy- that's why it took me so long to get started in the first place......! Please, please leave me a comment and feel free to give me lots of advice!! And now, here's Jacob...... well, his nasty hand anyway......

Somehow, I don't really think that Peek-a-boo and dinner should go hand in hand!

The same thing goes for dinner and nose-picking.....!
BTW- I spoke with my dad today, and he's doing well. My mom is there with him now, and he hopes to go home tomorrow with the goal of being back at work in 3 weeks!! Thanks again for your prayers- they make all the difference!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A very long day....

I can't thank you all enough for your prayers, support, comments and tweets! Never in my life have I felt such a great connection with so many wonderful people, and it's amazing to feel like there are people out there that I've never met that have my back no matter what ;-)

Here's the latest on the situation with my dad-- my mom was finally able to talk to him tonight, and he is in a ton of pain, but he's able to carry on a conversation and even make jokes!! The damage is pretty severe- he has 9 broken ribs (most of which are broken in several places), a punctured lung that now has a tube inserted in it to keep it inflated, and a broken shoulder bone- OUCH!

The story that my mom got from him was that he bailed off the horse (a young horse that has just completed training and has been "under saddle" for the first time ever) in an effort to avoid being thrown or run into something. Apparently, she bolted unexpectedly and was headed for a corral area, and that was my dad's best choice at the time. But here's the big part of the story-- after he landed, he got up and walked down to retrieve the horse, took the saddle off her, returned her to her stall and even refused a ride to town from the owner of the stable where the horse is boarded. He then drove himself home, went upstairs to his room, tried to take a shower and finally realized that he needed some help- that's when he called my cell phone and my mom was able to get an ambulance for him!

So, in short, it looks like it will be a rather long and painful recovery- no lawn-mowing, wood-chopping, 4-wheel-riding or horseback-riding for him for quite a while! And I'm not quite so sure I want Emily back on any horses any time soon!! She has been taking riding lessons here in Kansas, and she has been so excited about riding gramma and grampa's horses whenever she gets the chance. Here she is last week on one of their 3 horses- this one is named Dolly, and she is not the horse my dad was riding today ;-)

So, it has been a rather eventful day, but it has ended well and God is good- thanks again so much for keeping my family in your thoughts! My mom is in South Dakota for the night and will reach the hospital sometime tomorrow night. The girls (Emily and Sophie) leave for a 6-day trip to Chicago tomorrow, and we will miss them, but they are very excited about this opportunity to see the windy city!

On another note- we had some thunderstorms roll through last night, and the boys decided that their room was just not safe! So, instead, they parked themselves in the hallway outside their room for the night and set up camp.....

I'm not sure what difference sleeping in the hallway made, but I can tell you that by this morning, only one of them was still in the hallway!
I don't know about anyone else, but this is the reason I have children!!! They always remind me of the good things in life, and they're usually good for a laugh!!!!!!!!!

Need your prayers!

As most of you know, I just spent the last 2 weeks up in Montana visiting my parents. Because my husband wasn't able to be there the entire time, my mom and I drove up together after she returned from her trip to Paris with Allie (my oldest daughter). This past weekend, we all returned together to my house- my mom driving her car, and I drove mine. The plan was for her to go home today, but after weeks of travel and pure exhaustion, she had decided to stay with us until tomorrow to rest up a little more before she hit the road for a 20-hour return trip.

A couple of hours ago, we received a call from my dad telling us that he had been thrown off his horse. He sounded like he was in severe pain and needed immediate help. My mom started calling a few people that they know in the area- remember, they live 5o miles from town and have very few neighbors- and told them to get an ambulance out there. My mom and I just called the hospital that my dad was taken to, and he was there and being taken in for a CT scan. My mom packed up her stuff and hit the road about an hour ago, and she plans to drive to Sioux Falls, SD, tonight- about a 12-hour drive from here!

I would just like to ask everyone to pray for my dad and for the best outcome, and also for his doctors- that they will make the right decisions and things will go smoothly. Also, please keep my mom in your prayers! It's hard enough to make that trip on a good day, and even harder when you're worried about your husband and just to get there!!! Thanks for your time- I will keep updating my blog with results, etc. And as long as we're praying, could you throw a quick one in there for Emily and Sophie (our 2nd and 3rd daughters) who leave tomorrow for a trip to Chicago with some friends of ours! With all this happening, I'm a little reluctant now to let them go- I will have to trust they will be safe in God's hands- ALL OF THEM!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mcklinky Blog Hop recipes!

I LOVE finding new recipes, and this latest one came just in time for the Mcklinky recipe blog hop! The best thing about this particular recipe is that it's not something I would normally even consider trying, but my mom happened to make it, and it turned out that it was excellent! And it's a great summer dish, so I hope you'll try it soon ;-)

Cornbread Salad


1 (16oz) package cornbread mix

10 slices bacon

1 (1oz) package ranch dressing mix

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1 1/2 cups mayo

2 (15oz) cans pinto beans, drained

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped green onion

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 (11oz) cans whole kernel corn, drained


1. Prepare cornbread according to pkg. directions. Cool, crumble, and set aside.

2. Cook bacon, and then drain, crumble, and set aside.

3. Whisk together the dressing mix, sour cream, and mayo.

4. Crumble half the cornbread in the bottom of a large serving dish. Top with half the beans. Layer the beans with half of the tomatoes, green bell pepper, and green onions. Sprinkle with half the cheese, corn, bacon, and the salad dressing mixture. Repeat the layers. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving. The longer it's refrigerated, the better it gets ;-)

Hint: you can also buy pre-crumbled bacon- it works perfectly!

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do! Remember, sometimes you just have to try something new!!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, July 16, 2009

treasure hunting and marshmallow roasting!

Today we spent the afternoon at a really cool place called Crystal Park. It's up the mountain about 10 miles from my parents' house, and it's a place where you can dig for crystals of all shapes and sizes. The first time I went to Crystal Park was back when Zack and I had been dating for about a year, and he came out to Montana with my family to help us build our first cabin! Here's how the area looks.... Matthew got right to work....
Poor Haley decided pretty quickly that this wasn't her thing, but she hung in there, and I think she ended up with some pretty good loot!
It was a steep climb up into the woods, but Matthew kept up with all the big kids!
Needless to say, he was in heaven.....
Emily brought the BIG shovel up with her, and got right to work digging a huge hole...
The kids have been digging in Crystal Park since they were tiny, and it's an activity that they can't miss when we visit in the summer. Another tradition is a stop for ice cream on the way home from the big dig! There's a small country store just down the road from my parents' house, and it's the perfect place to sit and eat a sweet treat after a hard day of digging!
Here's the store- it's the closest thing around for 50 miles, and it's the perfect place to get a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread if you don't want to make the 45-minute drive to town.
Tonight we had one final activity planned- smores!! Grampa got the fire going in the fire pit, and we feasted.....

There's nothing like a real fire pit, beautiful mountains, fresh air and running creek......
oh yeah, and the perfect sunset!
Well, that's it for now! Tomorrow we begin the long trek home-- we head to Billings tomorrow and will stay the night there, and then onto South Dakota on Saturday, where we plan to stop at a hotel with a huge waterpark. We will finish the final 10 hours of driving on Sunday, and then my mom gets to turn right around and drive all the way back here!! Good thing she likes to drive;-) This will probably be my last post for a few days- it will be nice to get back in the swing of things when I get home, but it has truly been a great vacation!!


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