Thursday, December 11, 2008

Miss Briella -- in her tap class
Emily's first jazz class

Typical evening in our home.
Lighting of the candles -- a group effort!

Emily is now 14, which means Grandpa is 65! Wow, Grandpa! (In case you don't know, Grandpa got the best birthday gift ever when he turned 51 --- his first grandbaby!) Since we spread Emily's celebration out over several days, tonight was just the cake part. And, I had to scurry to get it frosted so that we could get to town for Bible study & babysitting. Craziness. I'm glad today was a SNOW DAY!

Grandma INSISTED I take photo of Emily in her new warm-up suit for dance! Looks awesome! Thank you, Grandma! I guess I forgot to take her photo in her new outfit from the other Grandma --- I will! It is so flattering :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Beans & BaconIn his attempt at keeping the usual tradition of hauling the kids to the tree, Dan pulls the kids successfully... until Marci & Emily joined the load!

Here's the choice scotch pine! More photos of it all decorated in our living room ... coming soon!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving ... part of my test in cultivating a grateful heart! I've been reminded once again that it's really a decision to be thankful. I am reminded of the picture that came to mind when I was praying at the retreat a few weeks ago. Here it is ---- Playpen Time.
The playpen is green, pink and purple... fab colors of 14 years ago. In each corner is a stack: books, toys, sipper cup, and more toys. The baby is well-rested and has just been fed. Yet, as soon as she takes in her surroundings she begins to wail screams of discontent. She wants freedom from this playpen! And, yet, she is safe and has plenty at her disposal to contentedly occupy herself over the next half hour. My father consistently prayed for a hedge of protection around me as I grew up. When I compared notes mentally to the stories of the other ladies at the retreat, I was overcome with all that I have been taking for granted. I have been protected and now I’m free from many of the battle scars others must overcome. I’m grateful. I’m going to sit down in my playpen and be busy with what surrounds me ... contentedly. It’s playpen time!
And, so, the Roses stayed home this Thanksgiving. We had the option of traveling to Georgia to celebrate. But, we are home. My heart is right there in the heat of the battle again. Will I be cheerfully content or will I mope around and merely “get through” the holidays? Will I dwell on the many families I know who have the privilege of celebrating together? No! I’m going to look at the precious little (and not-so-little!) faces around my table and be grateful! And, I am.
Yesterday we cooked our meal – turkey, sweet potatoes, fresh bread, green beans, cranberry jello, pies – pretty much the works! We ate, took naps/read/watched movies, and played a LONG game of Catan. BTW, I won the Catan game :). So, it was really a good day of being home as a family. Briella had Titus dressed up in some outrageous outfits. It was nice to observe their tents, games of pretend and generally kind behavior towards one another! It was really wonderful to be free of our routine. We all agreed beforehand to “be free” of our computers. So, it took a conscious effort ... but we all did it!!! No phone calls to others, no e-mail, news, etc. We just focused on who we were with today.
But, here I am again sitting in front of the computer. I’d best get going!

HAPPY THANSKGIVING to all! Missing you all in Georgia... enjoy one another and take lots of photos for Aunt Lara.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I’m writing from such a grateful heart. A formerly discontent heart which has been transformed into a grateful heart by an extended period of time in prayer and worship of our great God. What a mighty Savior we have! I want to extol and praise God. Psalm 107 repeats this many times, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he....” I want to fill in the reasons why I can give thanks to God. I can see how the Lord wanted me there (at the 5LQ retreat) for so many reasons.
During our first meal, we were introduced to several team members. Stephanie impacted me most as she challenged us to “Just give Him what He wants.” I knew then what God wanted of me that weekend, but it took a while for me to get to that point of giving it to Him.
After supper we took a van down, down the hill to the chapel. It was nestled amidst trees near the creek bed, the site of the original farmhouse. In this quaint setting, we were asked to stand and declare, “Satan wants me to believe ____, but I’m alive and well!” That was Thursday night. I just couldn’t do that. I wasn’t alive and well. I was wallowing around in my pity party regarding my circumstances. Friday morning we looked at our personalities and our spiritual gifts. It was mostly a fun time and a good review of how God created us each uniquely. Friday afternoon we had three hours of “alone time” for looking up Scriptures and praying. Late Friday afternoon we looked again at the life of Joash. Dannah challenged us to define our WHAT and our WHY. (i.e. What are you? a wife & home-schooling mom. Why? Because ...) Afterwards she looked at how Joash forgot his WHY and was focusing on his WHAT (being king). Her point was that loving the WHAT more than the WHY risks the loss of the WHAT. I don’t want to lose the privilege of being home with my kids, yet I have entertained the idea of returning to work to ease our financial situation. I’ve allowed various stresses to take my focus off my WHY. So, this time of teaching was very convicting for me. Let me give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he brought me alongside four other homeschooling moms to encourage me and he reminded me of my purpose and worth in staying home.
Friday night’s teaching was all about the question, “Am I enjoying God?” Stephanie Powers was powerfully transparent as she shared about Seeds, Psalms, and Songs. Our challenge was to sow into our area of “sorrow.” Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him.” We physically “sowed” little glass stones in one area of the room. Me? I am committing to The Love Dare from the movie “Fireproof.” It’s a really great book so far! (Jen – keep on keeping me accountable here!!) Then we ... you know what? I think I’m getting to caught up in the details. Here it is a week later and my notes are scarce on the next two points. She picked Isaiah 54:1, “Sing, O barren woman...” First, I prayed – for the first time I was on my face publicly. I obeyed the prompting of the Spirit and it was so rewarding. I asked God to rename my “naming” – my description – of my life. Just like the father changed Ben Oni (son of my trouble) to Benjamin (son of my right hand) – I asked God to change my description of my life. God spoke into my heart, “Lara, this is life of drawing you close to Me.” It’s true. Would I have been so desperate for the Lord if life was easy and without struggle? And, then we sang. Oh, we sang to the Lord with GRATEFUL hearts! Isaiah 54:1 continues “ ‘... you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the LORD.” How powerful it was for me to realize I needed to make this worship authentic --- just between me & God. I needed to stop worrying about what others might think about me and enjoy God. I’m learning! Let me give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he renamed my description of my past and gave me joy in worshiping Him.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I participated in an Inner Healing Prayer session. It was phenomenal! What power and might is availed to us when we simply bow before the throne. I have been struggling with a discontent heart for some time. So, they prayed that the stronghold of discontentment might be demolished in my life. The Lord brought to my mind Hebrews 13:5 (Be content with such things as ye have) as well as King Solomon. I realize that I can bathe my mind in God’s truth and not allow Satan to get a foothold in this area again. Deb – they challenged me to keep a contentment journal – just like you challenged us to do! Please pray for me to cultivate a grateful heart. Let me give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he freed me from the stronghold of discontentment fed by envy and put in me a heart of joy and gratefulness to Him.
I realized that retreats are not really “escaping reality.” That’s what I thought as I left. You know, it’s a lot of work just to get out of the house! I figured that I’d come back home having lost a weekend’s worth of work around the house. And, I was right. But, my perspective was permanently altered by having had the extended period of quiet to nurture my communion with God. It was a privilege for me. Although I returned home to all of the same challenges I left behind, I know God more intimately. I can walk this road with Him with renewed hope because I know His power more fully – firsthand.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Well, we eagerly waited for Grandpa and Grandma to arrive after their retreat to a cabin in Maine. We were thrilled to have them just in time to celebrate Briella's 7th birthday.
The first day we spent the afternoon watching Emily and Marci play soccer. They wanted to stay for the 2nd game. It was chilly, so we opted for a warm meal at McDonald's. Grandma treated the kids to Happy Meals -- so here they sport their toys :).
I'll have to save the rest of the story for another evening...

Okay -- here's going back to September. Gardening took up the bulk of our "spare time."

We also had hot dogs & s'mores with our friends the Kesslers one evening.

We attended SEVERAL soccer games.

Jared celebrated his 9th birthday. There you have it -- the short & sweet version because I was too busy to blog about the details.

Family photo in the tree house, built by Grandpa Nelson, Daddy & kids.
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Whew, I'm finally catching up on my blog. I won't finish everything, but this is a start! Mom & Dad left this morning. We had such a good visit. Here's a family photo Grandma took for us. More details coming soon!
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Friday, September 05, 2008

Labor Day

Briella wanted "roller head" Saturday night --- so she had curly hair for church. She was beautiful!
We had a very awesome Labor Day weekend weather-wise.

Sunday afternoon we went miniature golfing with the teens from church. Monday we worked at home for the morning. We picked a ton, well about 5 cookie sheets full, of tomatoes. Then, we treated ourselves to a few hours at Laurel Lake thanks to the gracious hospitality of the Benders. It was nice to canoe / paddle boat around the lake. We did half & half -- half our family in one & the other half in the other. Okay, so we didn't split a kid in half. The canoe held 4 of us. We traded halfway around the lake. Canoeing is MUCH easier, btw.

The kids had fun swimming & playing on the rope swing!

This week has been very busy with school, garden work & soccer. Thankfully Dan is home to help with chaeffeuring the kids around. That's huge! Tuesday evening we made salsa. Wednesday & tonight (Friday) we made tomato soup. Yum! Well, it will be once the days cool down & we need a quick lunch! My friend Patty brought over lots of pears, so I'm hoping to can some of those this week.

Well, I'm exhausted and my bath water is waiting! <<<>>>

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


All five together. That littlest one just would NOT cooperate ...

Emily -- always so thrilled with the suggestion of a photo session with Mom.

Marci -- my sparkly-eyed one! May be the last tin grin we see ... let's hope!
Jared -- A bit blurry -- I'll have to try again tomorrow.

Briella -- last Saturday for soccer with "crinkle hair." We had time to do little braids Friday night. Fun fun.
Briella today with her natural hair :) On the hammock -- a favorite spot.

Titus -- a photo just before we left Iowa -- at the pond near Chip's, Ankeny, Exit 90.

Well, today was the official beginning of our school year. It is also the most unorganized and therefore I feel horrible about how we're starting out. Please do not come over. Maybe that means we will only get better as the fall progresses! I blame it on a busy month of travel in August. I also confess to just not wanting to shuffle books around in my basement while the sun is shining and my garden is calling. So, there, I'm just not the enthusiastic homeschooling mom you thought I was, am I?!? Sigh. Structure and routine is good, once you are resigned to it. I am now becoming more resigned to it and all the growth it produces.

I am excited about our Sonlight books. We are reading our read-alouds and everybody loves them. Well, Titus isn't paying full attention, but that's okay. We've been reading on the sunny deck and snuggling the kitties at the same time. Titus has been riding his bike or playing with sticks or ... stepping in a fresh pile of you-know-what. Sidney doesn't go in the woods, in case you still don't know.

Jared and I picked blueberries this afternoon. There aren't many left, but I bet we have a quart sweetning on the dining room table this evening. We'll have fresh ones with breakfast before I bag them up. I made bread for the first time since June, I bet. We had mashed potatoes earlier this week, so I had some fresh sour dough to use up ... plus the incentive of being totally out of bread and too tired to run to the grocery! Marci had the fun task of kneading the dough for me. I think she enjoyed it and it turned out very yummy :). I timed it -- about 10 minutes to mix the "sponge." Marci kneaded & cleaned for at least 15 minutes. I punched the dough & loaded the pans in 2 minutes -- no kidding! Baking doesn't count, because I could multi-task. Taking the bread out of the oven, buttering it & washing bread pans took about 15 minutes. I think that's at least equal to the hassle of running to the grocery for bread! Well, the superior taste of warm bread makes it worth it! Now ... to have some fresh applebutter next month...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tuesday: Biking at Ada Hayden with the Czizeks

Tuesday morning it rained. It encouraged us to savor a restful morning at the hotel. We watched TV, ironed clothes, and did a load of laundry. I needed the down time! At noon we ventured out to meet our friends for some biking and a picnic. Sue, MaryAnn and Matthew joined us --- ahhh, what camaraderie! Marci and MaryAnn have loved each other since they were in strollers!

Here are the girls, posing for me!

And, the boys doing the same!

Sue and I enjoyed visiting while we walked Almond Bark. We kept an eye on the kids while they led the way around the 3+ miles of bike trails. (a big figure 8) Afterwards we stopped in at the hotel for a quick game of Uno. Then we had to go pick up Daddy and had dinner at the Beckett's. It was the best meal of the week!!! Roast beef, potatoes & carrots and fresh blackberry & cherry pies! YUM. A late night of thought-provoking discussion regarding public school vs. homeschool for the upper grades.

Carol and Me

I just realized I didn't have a picture of Carol in my previous entry. So, here we are ... at the Des Moines River. Ledges State Park. Just so you know, she's ALREADY 40! :) Love ya Carol!!!

Monday we were in Ames, so we hung out with the Becketts at the Ledges ALL day! The kids were so enamored by the sand, mud and water. It was a very restful morning just visiting with Carol and soaking up the warm Iowa sunshine. Ahhhh, the best way to spend a day! I gleaned some helpful advice and wisdom from Carol on parenting, homeschooling and all that good stuff. I sure do miss my good friend Carol!

Emily pretty much became a Beckett from Sunday evening until Tuesday evening. She and Gracie slept in the treehouse, played games like Catan & Monopoly, ate only their favorite foods and enjoyed each other's company. Truly, I wouldn't mind if Emily wanted to live with the Beckett family ... even though I'd miss her tons! I know she had a great time enjoying the freedoms that come without younger siblings around.

Carol knows how to put on a good time for kids. She treated us to a fun lunch around the campfire. The kids got to gather wood, start the fire, and grill all of their own food. This included tasting grilled grapes and even a cucumber! (Jared!)
Jared wanted a picture of the dried mud still on the road from the floods last month. We couldn't believe that the waters were 20 feet higher than in '93 when we were there. WOW! They will have to erect a new post to mark the high water level. The flood left a TON of work to be done to restore the park to its prior condition.


While accompanying Dan on his business trip, the kids made the best of a simpler life with fewer toys. They did such a great job with their stuffed animals in making up games :) I just had to take this photo as a reminder of how grateful I am for my awesome children!

On the other hand, I took full advantage of the luxury of the television! We enjoyed "Curious George" for the third time. We also took in as much of the Olympics as we could without depriving ourselves of too much sleep. Well, I take that back. Dan was never in bed before 1am. Jared fought hard to keep up with him! At least they don't get grumpy when sleep-deprived like I do!

Briella and Anna, Jared & Titus drive the little fire engine!

Emma and Briella in the bumper car war!

Wow! What an exciting airplane ride :)

Benjamin & Titus, expert pilots.

Sunday after church we were very excited to visit Adventureland -- not so much for all of the rides, but because most of Dan's family drove over from Nebraska and met us there for the day! Wow! How exciting to see most of their cousins!! It was cool to hang out. I regret not taking a group photo!

Sunday morning we visited Christ Community Church which we attended while living in Bondurant. It was good to see familiar faces. My, how the children of grown for those other couples! We would not have recognized their kids at all! Here are some family photos from our visit to housechurch after the morning service:

The Masons hosted our study and lunch. It was soooo good to see them again. How I miss my good friend Kayla!

The Heggens welcomed us in their home and set us up with great accomodations in their basement. Beth is such an inspiring mentor for me in hospitality and how she fosters relationships, particularly with her daughters. She ALWAYS has company :). Stacy & Natalie are amazing young ladies -- so cool to catch up with them and what they are doing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Then we hit the Iowa State Fair Saturday late afternoon. It was hot & sunny!

We stopped by to see the baby pigs, cows, chicks, etc. That was a hit -- in a new, big air-conditioned building with clean bathrooms! It was cool seeing the chicks hatch out of the eggs. They didn't let the kids hold the piglets, but they still got to pet one. Oh, here we are after a really fast ride down the yellow slide. A fun memory from years ago when E & M were little!

Then we visited the butter cow. This year she also sculpted the gymnast from Des Moines who is starring in the Olympics, Shawn Johnson. We enjoyed lazy evenings watching Olympics in our hotel room.

Here are the Roses at the Iowa State Fair! Several peopled mentioned that they liked the cool Veggie Tale shirts. It sure made it easier to keep track of everyone by having them all in purple. Thanks Grandma Jody -- we love our t-shirts!

After we parted ways with all of Daddy's co-workers we got some special "fair" treats!

The biggest bull! We HAD to see both he and his counterpart, the biggest boar.
Here's The Why Company crew just before saying goodnight:
Thanks for a great evening at the fair, Mark!!! Some fun memories :)