27 August 2009

afternoons with Walker.

this week has been somewhat busy, Walker and I have been running around in the mornings. And hanging around at home in the afternoon. Today was the kick-off of PWOC after helping a bit with clean-up we came home. Walker busily got to work trying to tear open some stickers that belonged to Wilson...I kindly re-directed him to his own puppy-dog stickers. He was quick to show me that he "put a sticker on here so we know what kind of picture it is." I hadn't realized it before, but having that puppy sticker on Muskoka really helps identify that she is a dog, indeed. Of course, I thought I should get a picture of him showing y'all his clever labeling skills... while I was messing with the settings on the camera, he was messing with the picture frame...

He is an explorer for sure.

And so fun to hang out with!
Brad had his own adventure with Walker last night involving a Petoskey-stone-polishing-kit. Maybe he'll share it with you one day - Brad is at paintball today. Its a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

21 August 2009

first grade.

seriously. how can it be? Here's a picture from the open house last night. We were the first ones in the classroom and I think Wilson was a little apprehensive and perhaps overwhelmed. He hadn't seen any of his friends from last year and he was just ready to go... he did oblige me and smile for the camera... but he wasn't too excited about it. After a good dinner last night and some pep talks from Mom and from Dad, he seemed to be more eager about starting school today. (For what its worth, I had lots of warm fuzzies about his teacher and I am quite certain he's going to adore her within a few days...) Here is a before-we-left-the-house-on-the-first-day-of-school picture. He was ready. I think he said he wasn't excited, but he was ready.

With Daddy home, we got to school early enough to have to wait outside this morning! Wilson is holding some cookies for his teacher ... with a little card that says, "Because teachers cannot live by apples alone!" (I got the idea from Barbie)
And here he is greeting his teacher.

I made Brad wait so I could get one more picture... and make sure Wilson was OK. Brad said, "You're turning into one of those moms..." (I know he means a helicopter mom because that was a question on Millionaire the other night. ) I snapped my picture and said, "No I am not, because I am letting him ride the bus home." I can hover if I want to right???

It was so great having Brad here this morning. I have to admit I wasn't quite as strong as I was last year when I had to do it all by myself. But Wilson kept his brave face on, and both of us walked out of the school full of pride. I can't wait to hear about his day!

19 August 2009

a summer to savor.

Here are a couple pictures of the watermelon festival we went to a couple weekends ago...
they pass out these huge chunks of watermelon! I adore this picture =)


Without hesitation, I can say the time that Brad was deployed was the hardest time of my life. No question. But I can also say, that this has been the most joyous summer of my life. Without a doubt. And through the hardest time and the most joyous time, God has continued to reveal His goodness to us; His faithfulness, and His never-ending love.


As summer comes to a close - Wilson starts first grade tomorrow! - I have been hesitant to let it slip by. Part of me wants to grasp it tightly because it has been so wonderfully sweet. But even this week God has been telling me to let it go... so my hands and my heart will be open to receive the future blessings He has in store for us. I thought of a song by Bebo Norman today that sums up how I hope to leave this summer behind. Its called "Walk down this Mountain." If you click the title you'll go to a link so you can hear the song. Here are some of the lyrics from the chorus...
So walk down this mountain
With your heart held high
Follow in the footsteps of your Maker
With this Love that's gone before you
And these people at your side

17 August 2009

accomplishments.

I took some pictures of Brad helping Wilson master this bike-riding-without-training-wheels-thing. First they went up and down the sidewalk... ...then they headed around the block...

...and to the parking lot across the street. I wish you could've heard Wilson screaming, "Why can't we just STOP???" He still has some work to do on the bike.

I had to throw in a picture of Walker on his two-wheeler for good measure. He LOVES riding his bike...but isn't convinced that he could try it without training wheels... I am guessing that would motivate Wilson though ;)

Lunch break at Miss Barbie's last week... one last hurrah in the Clements' pool before moving day...

Walker now confidently swims all over without anyone touching him... and Wilson swims without any floaties!!! All it took was one time swimming with Daddy in the pool!

And here's a shot of Wilson jumping in from the diving board. He is such a dare-devil in the pool. He wanted Brad to teach him how to dive the first time he swam without floaties!

It is such a joy to watch the boys accomplish things, even sweeter to be watching Daddy help them!
"How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?" Psalm 116:12

13 August 2009

six. (past due post)

So, during our trip our firstborn turned six. For the first time in his life, I can honestly say this year did not fly by. Mainly because his daddy was gone. Time moves differently during a deployment. Nonetheless, the year did pass. And for this guy, this year was monumental. He grew in so many ways. Most of which are hard to put into words.

On the morning of his birthday we gave him his new "big man bike." No training wheels...


Later we had a get-together with family and friends at Clearwater Campground. He looks so grown-up in this picture, I can hardly stand it! (The remaining pictures are courtesy of Brad's mom... we didn't get our camera out at the party! I did take some pics with my mom's camera, but I don't have the pics on my computer...)

He had such a great day, there was so much to do at the campground, including these horse-drawn carriage rides!

It was great to have Daddy helping with the gift-opening-part.

I had to throw in this picture of Brad with his baby sister, Victoria...too cute!


Wilson and his Uncle Colson were pretty much inseparable at the party.

We had a wonderful day celebrating Wilson. He is an extraordinary little man and I know this coming year is full of milestones too... already since turning six he has begun swimming without floaties and riding his bike (with a bit of assistance still.) He is an amazingly courageous little guy and has a servant's heart through and through.
When we got in the car after the party, Wilson said, "Can I have my party here again next year?"

12 August 2009

swimming at LETRA...

(Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area) So, we went back to the lake to swim after camping... (Brad told me we camped on Thursday night, not Friday...one of these days, I might know what day it is...maybe.) Anyway, we had to go back because we got to the campground after the store closed and left before it opened and we had to pay our $6 camping fee. Here are the guys on the beach... They made a moat of some sort...

...then they went down the water slide
...I didn't get a very good picture of Wilson...

Walker wasn't very impressed with it.


For some reason, they no longer charge an admittance fee for the beach or water slides, so we plan to go back sometime. The boys really liked the beach and Walker actually loved 'swimming' in the lake... not even the school of fish that surrounded our legs phased him!

11 August 2009

camping!

So, last week was Brad's first week back to work...which turned out to have a four-day weekend! We had planned to camp, so when I did the weekly grocery shopping I included food for the overnight trip. But, Friday the forecast didn't look so good so we thought we wouldn't go. After checking the weather again, and a phone call to make sure there were sites available we decided to risk the rain chance... and off we went. Here's Walker at our campsite... Walker was intrigued by the campstove. This boy loves fire... (yikes!)
Wilson smiles for the camera while Walker continues to check out the campstove...

Of course, what is a camping trip without S'mores? Wilson begged for them immediately following dinner...

Walker approved of them as well...
We were the only ones camping in the tent section so it was kind of nice having the area to ourselves. We walked over to the playground after the smores. Everyone got in on the fun, including the big girl...


After the playground we cooked up some Jiffypop before bedtime...

It was over 100 degrees on Friday, but it started to cool down a bit after the sun went down... however, with the rain fly on the tent, the hot air wouldn't dissipate. After sweating it out awhile, we decided to take the rain fly off and really take a risk. You can kind of see the sweat glistening on Walker's face... and I don't have any idea what Wilson was looking at!!

The boys slept great. Brad, Muskoka, and I did not. Mostly because Mussy had to freak out about every sound - or pant like she had just run a marathon. The sunrise was lovely though.

The combination of not sleeping well and the sinus pressure made Brad and I decide to pack up first thing in the morning. Good thing too, because shortly after we had started tearing-down, a unit rolled up to the group site to prepare for a "Fun Day" (or some such); Koka would've been growling her fool-head off at the soldiers all morning, so we were thankful to be almost done.

The boys were anxious to help set up camp, and we had a good time overall. They kept saying things like "awesome!" and "best ever..." Basically, Brad and I had garnered some high praise for our last minute decision. It was memorable for sure!
We went back later that day to swim at the lake... I'll post those pictures later. =)

10 August 2009

riches upon riches...

...here are the pictures I promised of our Michigan treasures... But first, Mom & George, somehow I missed out on getting your picture with the boys this trip... so, you'll have to plan a trip out here to make up for my oversight. Sorry about that.

Here are the boys with Aunt Rene, Uncle Bob, and cousin Jack. And with Grandpa Carl, Meme, and Uncle Nate.

And Grandma and Grandpa Lutz with (L to R) Aunt Victoria, Uncle Blake, Uncle Colson, Aunt Jacqueline, Uncle Brennan, Uncle Scottie and Uncle Brett. (Uncle Ben was in East Lansing, we should've got a picture with him too, when we stopped to say good-bye. Darn!)

And on to the GREATS!
Grandpa and Grandma G

Great Grandpa and Grandma Rose

Great Grandpa and Grandma K

Great Grandpa L


and Great Grandma L.

We are so grateful for our families, thankful that God has granted good health for the greats and the grands. He is good, all the time. You would think after being away for over three years that the good-byes would get easier each time... its not true. We are just a little better at presenting our good-byes in front of the boys. But even in the good-byes God is good to give us peace, and to remind us that we are exactly where He wants us to be. He is such a caring Father!

08 August 2009

yes, Michigan!

...the feeling's forever.

I know, that is the super old commercial campaign, but it is forever stuck in my heart. I do like the Pure Michigan ad campaign, but it just doesn't have the childhood memories attached to it to anchor it in me.

We had a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful two weeks in MI. We really didn't plan much prior to getting there, and more or less, let the days unfold without a lot of forethought. Which resulted in lots of fun times with family and very little stress. Here are a few snapshots from the trip... (I'll post about Wilson's birthday separately). Again, they are in a completely random order, I am going to have to be more thoughtful in how I upload my pictures I guess! Sorry about that!

Uncle Blake and Wilson driving the tractor at Grandpa and Grandma G's... Walker and Chance playing

Aunt Rene helping Walker out in Aunt Lori's pool... he was just chillin'


Uncle Brennan, Walker, Wilson and Uncle Colson down by the lake at the reunion...

Uncle Colson and Wilson had fun at a playdate at the park. They were Transformers. I love the great imaginative play!

This might be my favorite picture of the entire trip. Oh how I wish I knew what Wilson was saying to Aunt Rene! That face!!!!!!

Uncle Nate serving us up some ice cream at his new job!

Uncle Brad helping Jack out of the lake after an impromptu swim =) Jack loves the water as much as his momma does, I think!

Brad and Wilson fishin' up at Budd Lake.


Great Grandpa Fritz strolling with Walker and Victoria.

Brad and the boys going four-wheelin' at Grandpa and Grandma G's house.

Grandma hosted a lunch for all her granddaughters. We had a great time hanging out together, and I think Grandma was thrilled to have us all together. It was especially sweet because my cousin, Lindsay, and her husband just moved to the Dominican Republic this week for two years. So it will be awhile before all 6 of us are together again. It was really important to Grandma to get us there, so I am glad it worked out with everyone's schedule.

Brad, Wilson, Jack and Walker along the shore.

Great Aunt Lori read the boys and Jack a story, they were all hanging on every word.

We are so blessed by our extended families. Honestly, words cannot really express how good we have it. Everyone was so flexible with their time to accommodate our visit. Although we were ready to get back to our own house, space and our big puppy; it was hard to leave. We have a tremendous treasure of family in Michigan and its hard to drive away from that. The boys had a great time, and I am sure they will be looking forward to our next visit, whenever that may be... I plan to actually print some of our pictures this time to hang around their room... I have some pictures with their grandparents and great grandparents that I'll post this week... they are priceless!