Cousins Visit

After we finished up in Kentucky, we headed back to the headquarters, also known as Papa and Grandmere's house.

The kids enjoyed the time to just run around and visit with each other except these two.

 They had more fun whacking each other in the face.  Our girls are such cuties.

 Grandmere had her pick of babies to cuddle.  A got some good snuggles in.

 Of course, all cousins utilized the zip line.

 Cousin O loved carrying Emmie around.

 Papa and  his boys

 Before breakfast, the chess board had to come out.

 And after breakfast the chess board had to come out.   The two players had some consultants this go round.
Ceili Rain got lots of Uncle B cuddles.  

God's Creation

Despite all the rain, while we were at the Creation Museum it was almost all beautiful.  We decided to tackle the gardens and petting zoo first.  It was absolutely beautiful.  
Somehow we got a picture of Mark with his parents and brother...pretty cool!

The rest of these were taken from someone in our bunch.

 Cousin J taking a picture of Ace or Liam or Zoe.

 All 17 grandchildren with Papa & Grandmere.

Zoe and her cousins G and O decided to do the ziplines on day two.  Despite a bit of drizzle, they managed to fly fast and have fun.

Brothers with babies during devotional time.

 That's a bunch of characters!

Malachi thought the lecture on the origin of the races was very intriguing.  Um, sort of.

We didn't get many pictures on day two because of these adventures:

We walked out to the van to load up that morning and discovered a tire going flat.  We deposited half of the kids to Grandmere and Papa and took the other half with us.  I grabbed a giant load of clothes and Mark dropped Emmie, Ceili Rain, Malachi and me off at the laundry mat.  Mark took off to find a tire repair place.  I did laundry.  He fixed cars.  We eventually met up and made it back to the museum in time to see Zoe fly down the zip line.  It was quite an adventurous day.  We thank God that we did not have to get a new tire.  Just a nice quick fix.

On the Road Again...

We took to the road the first part of October but not for another doctor visit.  We met up with Mark's family in Kentucky to take advantage of the free kids admission to the Creation Museum and celebrate the wedding of one of Mark's cousins.

Traveling was tough but not because of the kids.  It rained.  A lot.  Both on the way to Kentucky and on the way Papa & Grandmere's house.

Emmie took it mostly in stride.

I spent a lot of time on the phone chatting with a friend or staring at my crochet project.  I was doing all I can to avoid looking at the rain and the mountainous roads.  We're pretty certain we came close to a tornado or what was trying to be one.  We've never seen rain go that sideways or more ominous looking clouds (except when we have seen tornado clouds).  Thankfully we never saw a funnel.

There was a break in the rain on the way to Papa & Grandmere's though.  We took advantage of a billboard advertising a dairy farm near by.  There was plenty of space for the kids to run and rock and stretch their legs.

 And a cattle dog that thought she needed to herd kids.  

This was on the way home from the wedding.  A misty fog...or at least we thought it was a misty fog.  It actually was a fire pit near the lake.  Oh well.  It was really cool.

October Projects

Our patio is a small square concrete slab.  We've been wanting to extend it out a bit to give us some room for our table and grill.  We started out with large pavers but found a really good deal on the smaller 12x12 pavers on our neighborhoods yard sale site so we snatched those up and when the temps cooled off got to work.

Every one got to work.

Even Miss Emmie
We've got a ways to go, so we'll do a little each month and eventually have the whole back side of the house paved out (and hopefully a water feature too).  I can't wait to see it finished.

I also got brave and decided to try my hand at applesauce and apple butter.

It made our kitchen a sticky mess but we got through it. We purchased a KitchenAid attachment that strained out the peel and the core and seeds and made instant applesauce.  It worked very well.  Zoe and Ace made the applesauce while I put it in jars.  It was a definite team effort and only took one day per bushel.

Getting Fit

I've harbored a secret these past few months.   Well, not really a secret.  I just haven't updated the blog about it.  You see, since July I have been working hard to lose weight.  Really hard.  I joined Weight Watchers Online and started exercising about every 5 to 6 days a week.  Lots of sweat.  Lots of counting and it's all resulted in this:

 At the start.  I was 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight before I got pregnant with Emmie.  Fifty-five pounds from an ultimate goal that Mark and I both agreed was healthy.
 This was my weight for two years and my weight before Malachi.  I totally understand now why people asked if I was pregnant.
 Ten pounds down and my first goal!  I felt so much better and had so much more energy.  I continued to work and shortly after this picture, I said goodbye to my size 14 pants and now...
I'm in size 12 pants and can "squeeze" into my 10s (but those pair are probably about seven or eight  years old and need to be updated). My top, ya'll.  It's a medium. I haven't worn a medium in a loooong time.  I can wear my wedding band now.  My real one that Mark slipped on my finger over 14 years ago.  It fits after over six years.  This is a total of 30 pounds lost since July.  I still have 25 more pounds to my end goal.  For once, it seems obtainable.

Here's how I'm doing it:

I'm still doing Weight Watchers although I know my points limit and don't track as religiously as I did when I first started.  I'm losing anywhere from one to three pounds a week.  I used 42 Days to Fit by Brandy Ferguson for three months.  I stuck with the Weight Watchers points system but followed the books exercise schedule.  In October, I kicked it up a notch using Beach Body Tony Horton's 10 Minute Trainer.  We purchased this after I watched the infomercial one to many times while nursing a newborn Ceili Rain.  So, no extra purchases were made.  I don't do just 10 minutes though.  Last month I did two ten minute work outs and now I'm trying to get in the 10 minute abs workout three times a week and then do two other ten minute workouts five to six days a week.  I'll try and post my ideal workout schedule soon.

I've got a good post coming.  I want to share a couple of myths and excuses I fell prey to and that people still comment on.  This isn't easy, people.  It's hard work to lose weight.  Especially weight I've been carrying and adding to for the past ten years.  I'm excited that not only I can see a difference but others can too.  I still get the occasional rude, "Oh, when are you due?"  But instead of being disappointed and drowning myself in ice cream I pipe up and tell people how much weight I've lost, how many kids I have and how their comment is just more motivation to keep going.  They are still embarrassed but at least it keeps me going.

I Moustache you a question...

Sorry, I couldn't resist the fad.  We had a crazy hair night at Awana in October.  Hands down, this has been the biggest hit for theme nights in two years.  They all had a blast.  I found these stick on moustaches at the dollar store and just had to get them.

She looks like the Godfather.  A cute version of the Godfather.

History comes to town

Hello, all.  This is Mark, your guest blogger, reporting in for duty.  I have been recruited to do this post due to my proximity to the event (I was there) and my interest in the subject (war history and the machines involved therein).

Niceties aside, it all started one fateful afternoon.  The kids and I were outside in the front yard enjoying a cool snap when all of a sudden I heard the throaty roar of a piston engine in the sky.  Now, you need to know that when the wind is right, air traffic into our local airport comes basically right over our house.  So I look up and see a large, 4-engine propeller-driven plane flying over us heading out of the area.  After a few moments, it hits me - that looks like a B-17 Flying Fortress!!  But that's nearly impossible - there are only a few that are airworthy and why would there be one flying over my house?  So I chalked it up to my imagination and wishful thinking......until the next morning when I hear on the local radio station that, indeed, a B-17 will be in town giving rides!  A few calls and website views later, we found out that the plane would be back in town Saturday giving rides (@ $450/person!) and then available for viewing as a static display that afternoon.  Thus the plan-making commenced.  It turned out that I was able to take a stowaway (James) along.  

But even before the big day, I got another unexpected treat.  Friday afternoon was another cool day, with lots of low clouds.  We were outside again and I heard that familiar throaty roar of piston engines.  Looking up, I saw what was definitely the distinctive outline of a B-17 flying under the clouds directly overhead.  The picture below does not do justice to how low the plane was flying.

Saturday arrived and we made it to the airport in time to see the Flying Fortress land.  After turning off the main runway, it taxied over to the crowd standing outside the terminal.  The pilot came so close that the wing actually swung over the first couple of rows of people standing behind the barrier.

After turning off the engines and re-arranging the barricade to include the plane, the folks in charge put up a ladder to the side of the plane and people started lining up to go inside.

Here is the nose of the plane, showing it's distinctive nose art and combat record.  This is the actual airplane that represented the Memphis Belle in the movie of the same name.  The actual Memphis Belle plane is in bad shape and last reported to be in storage.  This airframe was built in 1944 but only saw service around the States as a transport and was used until the 50's.  25 bombs indicate 25 successful sorties.  The other symbols above the bombs indicate when that plane was either a group or section leader, meaning there may be hundreds of other planes following it.

For scale, notice the adult standing under the engine nacelle.  One leg of the propeller is nearly as tall as me, and the tires are about 4 feet tall.

The device inside the clear plexiglass is the famous Norden bombsight.  It is a very sophisticated piece of equipment that was a super-secret during the war.  It allowed the bombardier to place the target in the crosshairs, then he would actually have control of the aircraft the last few moments before the bombs dropped so that everything lined up correctly and the bombs would fall to their target.  Abbie's grandfather was a bombardier on a different type of airplane during the Second World War and would have used this device.

We finally made it inside the plane after perusing the outside and waiting in line for about 30 minutes.  They view below is the perspective the pilot and co-pilot would have enjoyed for 8-10 hours as they flew into and out of Germany.

This is the converted bomb bay.  Jump seats accommodate passengers.  I think the yellow canister is a fire suppression system.  You can see the top of the ball turret in the bottom of the picture.

Josiah practiced with one of the waist guns.  These guys stood in the window and shot at German fighters as they attacked the formation.

This is the long, lonely corridor back to the rear guns.

And now from the outside.  The tiny window above the guns was about the only view the tail gunner had, and the guns themselves only had limited swivel capacity.

Here's the crew, posing outside one of the waist gunner positions.

This was truly a neat experience.  It really brought to mind the bravery and sacrifice of those who flew and fought in these planes, defending freedom.  Just one of these magnificent ships was loud and impressive enough - I can only begin to imagine what hundreds of them leaving a British airfield would be like, or seeing up to a thousand of them go overhead to a bombing run.