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Sing Unto the Lord – Thankful Thursday

It was a day, just like any other day, normal, nondescript.  We were traveling, somewhere, the girls and I.  The weather was peaceful.  We were listening to music, not an uncommon occurrence while driving in the van.  The next thing I hear is some loud singing from the back of the van.  It was not like typical singing, it was more immature than that.  I asked the girl sitting in the shotgun position if that was Elianna singing and sure enough, it was.  Here Elianna is singing, with all of her heart, unto the Lord, praises to Him.  The other girls were singing, too, but her voice was the one that caught my attention.  It blessed my heart.  She did not care who was listening or whether the notes were perfect, she was just singing.  Thank you Lord for the little blessing of the day given to me through my child.



Now the comical part, because it was so cute, I had my shot gunner try to get a video of it, but Elianna would have nothing to do with it, even with the encouragement of her sisters, she was not going to sing again for the camera.  Oh well, I have the memory in my heart forever.



Violins – (Somewhat) Wordless Wednesday

Miriam has wanted to learn violin for years.  Every year we try to “invest” in some bigger things with out tax return.  This year it was a group of violins and a couple of mandolins.  We had great success at a second hand music store.  We were able to purchase a 1/4, 1/2 and 2 full size violins.





Here the girls are learning how to hold the bow and the violins. Miriam definitely has the best bow hold.  It is very natural and relaxed in her hand.  I think part of it is the pure joy of doing it and not worrying about being perfect.




Yes, there is joy.



At this point and time, we only had one full size, so the big girls had to share one.  That was fun.



I wish I had video, but I don’t.  We are learning very slowly, using the “Online Piano Tutor” who is from England and has some great violin lessons on YouTube.


Until Next time,



Wordless Wednesday – Snow in February

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Congress and The Library of Congress – DC – Tuesday – Pt. 1

February 11, 2014


Today you will see those inexpensive shirts we bought outside the Smithsonian modeled by some of the kidlets.   Tuesday morning, Sean and Ted took 6 of the kidlets to see Congress in “action”.  I say “action” because they were seriously debating and discussing such trivial things.  One would think with the economy the way it is and the unrest across the world there would be more important things to discuss.  But alas, politicians don’t live in the real world, they live in their own little bubbles with little real life experience day to day what it means to be a normal person in the United States.


Any who, back to the topic at hand.  Bethany was sick, so I stayed home with her and Levi and Elianna and we packed up the house while they went to Congress and the Library of Congress.


Olivia and Miriam.



Abigail, not wanting her picture taken, but look at those beautiful marble walls.



Sean, Thomas and Caleb waiting patiently to be able to head in and see the action.  They were unable to take pictures in the House and Senate chambers.  Caleb, only 5, was not allowed in the Senate, only the House.  Funny because Sean said he would have been more respectful than some of the other adults that were in there observing the proceedings.



They said the Senate chamber was much smaller than they thought it would be.



Then they walked to the Library of Congress, which is actually just across the street from the Capitol Building and connected via an underground passage.


Nathan and Caleb with Ted photo bombing.



Thomas, Sean and Olivia looking at something important.




I love this pictures.




Posed?  Maybe.




Dome above the reading room.




Reading room.  It looks so formal and cold, that does not mean I would not enjoy spending some time in there.



View of the Capitol.




View of the Washington Monument to the left of the Capitol.




Detailed walls.




Gutenberg Bible.




Map, of course.




Sean said he was going to try to sneak it out, but he was concerned that he might get caught.  Ya think.  (You know he would never seriously consider stealing it.




Sean was in heaven with all the maps.




One of the Founding Father’s book.




It is in great shape for it’s age, at least I think so.




Boys tired after a long morning of a lot of walking.


It was a nice wrap up for our last morning in DC.




Date Night in DC – Sunday – Pt. 3

February 9, 2014


Sunday, Sean and I went on a date together alone.  We wanted to see what it was like to be young and without kidlets in DC.  We walked  to eat at Las Placitas Restaurant.  It was nice that we could walk to a bunch of different restaurants.  There must have been at least 15 places to eat on those 2 blocks. Here we are waiting for our food.



It was a nice, small, family owned place.  It was interesting listening to the conversations around us.  They were much different than we are used to.




Sean’s food. Steak with onions and peppers in a red sauce, plantains and rice.




My food.  Chimichanga and beans and rice.  Yes, I picked off the tomatoes.



Sean’s black beans.  Seriously, they were the best black beans I have ever had and my favorite part of the meal.



Instead of having dessert there, we walked down to Ted’s Bulletin for dessert.  I had read about it before we went, but did not know how great it was going to be.  Had we had a larger budget, we would have gone there for breakfast on Saturday or Sunday.  They apparently have the best cinnamon rolls that are as big as my head.



Anywho, here is Sean with his shake.



We ordered a few different desserts but our waiter  made sure we had a great selection of just about all their desserts.  Let’s see if I can remember their names.


Chocolate chip cookie, be still my heart, I like a good cookie, but this cookie, it is hard to describe.  Just enough crunch, but even more chewy, but not doughy.  The melted chocolate melts in your mouths.

The $1,000,000 bar, or I think that is what it is called.  It has a cookie crust, caramel middle and a dark chocolate top with a dash of sea salt on top.  The waiter said it was like a Twix bar and it was, but it was better.


The peanut butter  bacon pop tart.  It is not like those disgusting pop tarts that you can buy in the store.  It was so delicate and balanced in flavor, yes, sweet and salty.  The crust was flaky and fresh and full of flavor.  Oh I wish I could have bought a dozen and brought them home to freeze, but it likely would not have been the same.  I suggest if you cannot get to Ted’s for a meal, at least stop by and watch the pastry chef make the lovely desserts through the nice bay window and pick up a six pack of pop tarts to go.




Here is a better look at the $1,000,000 bar.




If you know me well, you know that I am not the chocolate’s biggest fan, but I will tell you, this brownie with chocolate sauce might just convert me.  The brownie, oh, the brownie,  I am a sucker for brownies anyway, but this one was spectacular.  Perfect combination of crusty top and moist and dense inside.  My mouth is watering all over again.




Apple pop tart with ice cream.  I could not tell you much about this as I do not eat fruit desserts. I did try the crust and it was excellent.  Sean enjoyed this one all by himself, well, that is not true, we did take some home for the kidlets.



If we make it back to DC, we will definitely head back to Ted’s, this time, we’ll bring the kidlets with us.  I know they will enjoy it.



American History Museum – Sunday – Pt. 2

February 9, 2014


After lunch in the van, we walked to the Museum of American History.  It was not a long walk, or at least is did not look long, but I will be honest, walking on concrete all those days is hard on the feet, even with good, solid shoes.  By the time we got there, I just wanted to sit for a few days, I mean minutes.  One of the great things about the museum is the free lockers that lock.  Because it was off season we had not problem getting 2 lockers to put all of our winter stuff in.  It was nice that we did not have to pile it in the stroller like we did in the Capitol.



We were not sure what would all be in the museum.  To be honest, I was disappointed with it.  Just being real.  It was a great museum to visit, but it was not as amazing as I expected the Smithsonian to be.  I think we have been to a lot of museums that were just as nice, if not nicer than this museum.  It was neat to be able to “walk through history” of the United States.


I believe this is George Washington’s army uniform.  We were surprised at just how petite a man he was.  Miriam, Olivia, and Bethany.



Nathan loved the large and varied display of military weapons.




Hahaha, Sean did not realize I took this pictures, but Levi sure did.




The displays were interactive so the children enjoyed learning through activity.   Here Caleb, Olivia, Bethany, Abigail and Miriam learned about the food in the early colonies.  I thought they would never complain about a meal I cooked again, I was wrong.




A map, of course we had to stop and take a look and our resident cartographer explained what we saw and why it was important.




Another map.  We found this interesting as the map does not look quite right.  See, the UP really should be part of Wisconsin.




A sign we found very interesting, especially in light of the present political name calling.




I loved the posters in the World War 2 area.  It reminds me that nothing is new under the sun.  Canning used to be something that used to be  normal.  It is great to see growing our own food and preserving it is becoming popular again.


Don’t worry, Mr. President, I never ride alone (well, almost never).




This is our family motto in so many ways, I just never wrote it down.  I may need to do that.  “Use it up – Wear it out – Make it Do!  Sounds good to me.  That is why you will often see our children play in stained clothing and clothes that have holes in the knees.  I don’t care if they do not always look polished.  We think it is better to make things stretch than to go out and buy new things.




Whenever I see pictures of the Berlin Wall, I think of the ’80′s and all that it stood for, big hair, florescent colors, great music, political change.  It was neat to see and touch part of the Berlin Wall.  Every time I see this picture, I sing, “I love the “80′s!”



Here my favorite children are singing my little ditty and dancing to it. ;)

Abigail, Elianna, Olivia, Nathan, Caleb, Miriam, Levi, Bethany, Thomas.




A girder from the World trade Center.




After that exhibit, the boys and girls separated for a bit.  The boys, minus Levi, went to see a Revolutionary War boat. The girls, plus Levi, went to see an exhibit of the First Lady’s dresses and china.  It was a wonderful exhibit.  It was interesting to see how styles changed and how sizes changed, too.




It was fun to pick out our favorites and our least favorite.

Olivia, Bethany, Elianna, Abigail, Miriam and Levi.




We were able to see the red dress Michelle Obama wore to the second inauguration.  I was surprised at how short her dress was.  I always thought of her as much taller than the dress indicated.  The texture of the dress was amazing and the picture does not do it justice.  I would have loved to be able to feel the fabric.




We met up with the boys again, but this time they went ahead to the transportation section while we went to the kitchen section.  In this area Julia child’s kitchen is recreated.  I was surprised at how normal her kitchen looked.  I was still a tad envious.  Here is the table we decided we need in our home.  The disks in the circle ask questions and give politically correct ;) answers.   I would love a table this size and a kitchen or dining room of the same size to put it in.  As we were chit chatting about the table people were giving us strange looks like, “Who would want such a big table?”  <<Waves hands wildly>>



Transportation section with a map.  I was going to remember what this map stood for, but I forgot already.  There were a lot of neat things in this section, I just cannot show all the pictures.  There were many interactive areas here also.  My favorite part may have been the area where we could watch a short video and sit in some nice chairs.  That is until we got into the discussion about whether we could get lice from the headrest.  Honestly, at that point, that was not even enough to get me off the chair for a bit.

After we were done with the American History Museum, we saw some trucks selling t-shirts.  We stopped to check out the prices.  We were surprised to hear they were reasonably prices, so we bought each child a t-shirt.  They ranged in price from $5 – 11.  We let the kids pick out their shirts.  I took them in 3 at a time and they picked out their shirt, I paid and then they waited back outside of the tent area around the truck.  I think we spent less than $50 for all 9 kids shirts plus my shirt and head band.  Sean bought a sweatshirt that was a bit more.  I assume they prices rise in the summer, but maybe not.  It was a nice selection and only one of the shirts I felt was a bit thin.  Great buys.


While we were buying shirts it started to snow.  We walked back to our van and went back to the house.  The day was almost over, almost.



































More Monuments and Walking – DC – Sunday – Pt. 1

February 9, 2014


Sunday started out just as cold as Saturday, so we bundled up and headed out the the Jefferson Memorial.  This memorial is set apart from most of the others and because it was the middle of February, there were not a lot of crowds and we were able to drive over there, park and walk to the memorial.   It was not a long walk, but it was a walk.  It was fun that everyone wanted to push a stroller.


The back of the Memorial as we walked around the trail to get there.




The front of the Memorial.  See, there really were not a lot of people around to deal with.




Can you tell we had done a lot of walking the previous 2 days.  This did not seem to lend to having a lot of energy to walk the rest of the day.




Waiting at the bottom with the two stroller bound children.




Not actual size. ;)   The 7 oldest kidlets with Thomas Jefferson.



Important words.




Walking around the outside.




It was quite a walk, in more ways than one.



The view across the little body of water toward the Washington Monument.




Some important statesman.  As I was walking back with the little ones, I joked that it would be fun to take a pictures with him, but none of the kids wanted to walk down there, they just wanted to get back into the warm van.




So, it was funny when I was going through the pictures and I saw this picture of Thomas and Ted with their new best friend.




We then drove around to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  Parking there was terrible and the little ones were cold, so I dropped half the group off and they went for a small tour while I drove the van around the circle a couple of times.


The monument is hard to see from the parking area, so I am glad they took quite a few pictures.  From the entrance.



Quotes from various people surround the monument.




Abigail loves Norway, so she had to point it out.




I am glad we were able to go after it was open to the public.



No, they do not compare to the man.




Then we went towards the other war memorials and the Lincoln Memorial.  We parked on the street that separates the White House and the Washington Memorial and walked towards the Vietnam Memorial the back way as was suggested to us.   It was a great way to approach the memorial.   Parking was not an issue because of where we parked and the lack of people, because we were there in February.  Yet another reason we like to go to these things in the off season.




The walk looks short, but it gets tall very quickly and it is full of names.




I think it is hard to appreciate the height without actually being there in person.




Ted and Thomas.




Caleb and Thomas.




I appreciate the shine on the memorial so that it reflect those who are looking at it.




Onward toward the Lincoln Memorial.  Here is view away from the Lincoln Memorial towards the WW2 Memorial and Washington Monument.  That is the reflecting pool in the foreground, but it has no water.




The Lincoln Memorial was definitely the most active memorial or monument we visited.




Of course we had to take a picture of the states that have our hearts and they are neither Texas or California. ;)



Beautiful building that sorts of stands by itself when we were looking at it.  We were able to take an elevator ride up to the second level which made it much easier with the strollers.  In the area under the monument, there is also a display that includes the monument’s history and restrooms.





Waiting patiently for our turn to take a group picture.



The family, minus Mom.



All of us, most of Lincoln’s head.







The view from just outside the covering on the top floor.



Looking backwards from the same spot.




Airplane flying in.



That is Mt. Vernon in the distance.




Next we walked toward the Korean War Memorial.   This was my favorite Memorial.  I don’t have a reason why, it just was.




Looking toward the men in the field.



Same spot, looking the other way.



This was my favorite thing that we saw in Washington DC.  Freedom is not free.

Then we walked along the reflection pool, around the World War 2 Memorial and then back to the van.  We ate a quick lunch in the van again and …. oh you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.





















The Supreme Court and The Capitol – DC -Saturday – Pt3

Saturday February 8, 2014



After seeing the White House and a few monuments, we got in the van and ate a quick lunch in the van while we warmed up.  We then made our way over to the Supreme Court and Capitol Building.  We were able to find free parking thanks to the parking pass that came free with the house we rented.
I expected it to be an amazing building, but considering it’s surroundings, it really was not that spectacular.  It sort of blended in with the buildings around it.  It is right on a corner across from the Capitol and Library of Congress.



Then we walked across the street to the Capitol building for our tour.



Waiting in line for the tour.




Waiting, waiting, waiting.



The first location where the Supreme Court used to meet.  It was dark and cozy and beautiful.



When I say cozy, you know that is just real estate speak for small.




The rotunda on the Capitol Dome.




Elianna and I (and everyone eles) looking up at the dome.  (There were at least 10 tours in this room.  We each had headphones on so we could hear what our tour guide said and not make a lot of noise.  It was a weird concept to get used to.



Our tour guide, Kara (I believe), was excellent.  She asks people no to take pictures of her because she is never sure where they will end up.  She did say I could take this picture because she was using Sean as an example.  She was truly amazing and answered all of our questions and made the tour interesting and educational.  She also took good care of us because we had to use the elevator due to the stroller.



There is a statue from every state in the Capitol Building.



Abraham Lincoln








LaFallette from Wisconsin, aka, the sitting (on the throne) senator. ;)



Kirkwood from Iowa.



On the way from the Capitol we walked under ground to the library of Congress so we could stay warmer a bit longer and that was closer to where our car was parked.  ON the way there, Sean found a collage of pictures to promote the Geography and Map Collection there.



It was a busy day and by the time we got home, we all just wanted to sit and watch the Olympics.





























DC, A Few More – Wordless Wednesday






Some Monuments – Washington DC – Saturday – Pt2

February 8, 2014


After our time at the White House, we walked to the World War II Memorial.  We walked past this old building.  I don’t remember all of it’s history, but we did decide it was likely the only house we could afford in DC.




Waiting just outside the Memorial.






We tried to recreate a picture the cousins took when they were here, but we decided there were just too many kidlets, so…




The adults did instead.




Very solemn moments.




Bethany observing the Wisconsin pillar.







Of course, since we were in DC, they needed a picture in front of DC.


Walking down and around.



Ted in front of the gold stars.  Each gold star represents 100 American lives lost.  There are 4,048 stars on the wall.






Bethany loves New Jersey



Miriam in front of Iowa.


The view to the Lincoln Memorial, zoomed in.



Olivia and Levi, Elianna, Susan, Bethany and Sean.



Elianna had enough and was ready to take a nap.



We then walked across the street and up the path to the Washington Monument.  It was still under reconstruction from the earthquake in 2011.



Our family pictures.



Crazy people.



One of 2 homeless men we saw while in DC.  The other was in front of an embassy.