Another year of Awana is over …

Good closing program and very proud of the munchkins.

The 6yo received his 1st Sparks book award for his HangGlider book.

The 8yo receive her Sparky Award for doing all three Sparks books.

And the 10yo received her Excellence Award for completing her second T&T book – and she completed her silver sections. (And for those of you fluent in Awana – she also got one of the coveted Gold Streamwood Cards this year.)

As an added feature of this blog post, here is a picture of their mom on her Sparks award night.  I think this was the year she received her Sparky Award, but I’m not positive. And, yes, they did have colored photography when Kelli was a Sparkie, but Ken had an in with the newspaper editor and we always had pictures of our church kids in the newspaper  (we would take up an entire page with award night pictures) – so we took church pictures in black and white. Kelli is the cute one in the braids.


1. We heard some information about what the new health care reform would mean to us financially – scary.

2. I talked to many leader-people and answered many leader-people questions because for some reason, I received many leader-people phone calls today.

3. I talked to the first group of Awana miss. from West Virginia, Ohio, Nebraska, Georgia, Minnesota, North Dakota, Kentucky, Iowa and … I’m sure I forgot someone! They’re in for their annual HQ training.

4. I turned down free Chipolte for bland macaroni salad.

5. The Wednesday Word Jumble was more difficult than usual today. I think a lot of it had to do with the word typhus. Although it’s  word we know, it’s not a word you expect in a word jumble anymore than bronchoscopy or something.

6. I experienced a FIRST!  I received my very, first ever e-mail from a grandchild. Well, I’ve received e-mail from her before, but not from her personal e-mail address.

7. I worked out a solution to a situation which helped at least three people in a rather ingenious problem-solving way.

8. I’m done listing things about my day.


A replication of Chester Arthur’s birthplace is in Vermont and the church where his father was pastor is the original. I have not been there.

Grover Cleveland’s house is in Caldwell, New Jersey. I have not been there either, but I cannot even tell you how close I actually LIVED to this house at one time in my life – but I was quite young (two), so I have forgiven myself for not pursuing a visit to this presidential home.  And I have visited that area countless times because it’s where my Grandma lived.  I even have a vague memory of this house being pointed out to me at one time, but don’t know for sure.

Anyhow, I’ve missed these two.


I thought about posting about sump pumps and how the sump pump alarm went off last night.  Smoke was everywhere. I unplugged everything I could reach. But hey, nothing burned down. Steve put in a new sump pump and someone took the old one where we dumped it on the curb.  Wait a minute, I can feel a Dr. Suess book coming on  …   we dumped the sump pump that went bump, we dumped it in a lumpy clump. (Why anyone would want a 20- year-old, corroded sump pump, is beyond me).

But I have no enthusiasm for sump pump editorials.

So …

Backtracking to Rutherford B. Hayes.

I forgot to write about the wonderful experience we had visiting his birthplace.

This is the before and after – what the site looked like when he was born and what the site looks like now. Truly an exciting excursion.

But check out the gas prices.  This wasn’t all THAT long ago!



DSC_0317LAWNFIELD is maybe my second favorite president house.  Like Spiegel Grove, Lawnfield has a home/family feel. Kelli, kids and I visited last October on the way home from Ken’s parents. (You might remember this post.)

On the way home from Pennsylvania we decided to go north instead of south. This had something to do with soup and Max and Erma, but I’m not sure what.

North meant the tollroad. My growing-up family used to go back and forth from Illinois and Pennsylvania on the tollroad three or four times a year, but it had been awhile and I hadn’t driven it the entire way across before. However, the tollroad had a lot less traffic than 70 and with my iPass, I didn’t have to stop at any tollbooths – so it was actually an easy drive, much better than the rain-drenched ride east.

Anyhow, as we were traveling, Kelli was reading the map and I mentioned that one of the few president houses I hadn’t been to was Garfield’s, tucked away in the northeast corner of Ohio. Kelli found the location and then Kelli said, “So, let’s go to today.”


“Sure, it’s not that far out of our way.” Then to help the munchkins get excited about a visit to an old house, she said, “Hey, guys. If we visit the president’s house, it will count as school and you won’t have to do your math.”

That clinched the deal.


So we visited Lawnfield.

Actually, I put it right up there with Hayes as one of my favorite houses – big, but not huge and with a “cozy, family” atmosphere.


Here are some Garfield/Lawnfield facts.

*Garfield was the last of the presidents who was born in a log cabin.

*Garfield was president for approximately 200 days before being assassinated by Charles Guiteau.

*Garfield was the only ordained preacher to hold the presidency.

*Garfield married Lucretia Rudolph, the daughter of a prominent family.

*All five Garfield children were successful.

*Lawnfield was lived in by Garfields until 1930 when it was turned over to the Western Reserve Historical Society as a museum.

*The second floor library (one of the coolest rooms I’ve ever seen) was the first presidential library constructed for the purpose of storing a president’s papers.

When we walked into the visitor’s center, the lady at the desk asked if the kids wanted to be Junior Rangers. Of course they did. They each received an activity book with many things to do – and a list of objects they were supposed to find as we toured. The older the child, the more activities he/she has to do to earn the junior ranger badge.  Our tour guide, Lisa, was very patient  explaining things to the kids and since we were the only ones in her tour group, we didn’t have to worry about other people.

DSC_0320The kids take the Junior Ranger Pledge – helped along by Lisa

The 9yo looks for clues.

DSC_03225yo proudly holds his junior ranger certificate.

All in all, everyone decided it was a fun trip and the 9yo even said it the second-favorite thing she did on the trip. (Number 1 was playing with her cousins.)

DSC_0324Yep! That was fun.


My dad raised my brother and me with an appreciation of birds. Roger took it to heart and as anyone who knows him knows – he knows more about birds than 95% of the people you’ll ever know.

I know far less, but I can hold my own against the average person. For instance, last week a semi-bird lover was telling me about the robin-sized (but not robin) coal-black birds with the red breasts (but much brighter than a robin’s breast) that were hanging around her yard. She said they had beautiful coloring and would need to get help identifying them. As I listened to her description and thought about it, I was able to identify them sight unseen as rose-breasted grosbeaks which are indeed robin-sized, with a bright red splash of color on their breasts and are beautiful and would be prevalent in the area of her out-of-state home.

So I don’t have an over-abundance of knowledge about birds, but I know some and when I have a question, I do have a brother.

All that to say that I like birds. I have already posted about living in Michigan and taming the chickadees and gold finches to sit on our hands and this past winter I had a small, but welcomed variety of birds at my backyard birdfeeder. (Juncos, chickadees, cardinals, house finches, nuthatches, etc.) Oh, by the way, I also know to fill my birdfeeder with sunflower seed and not commercial bird seed if I want “good” birds.

Because I don’t like junk birds. At all.  Junk birds are birds like crows, starlings and grackles …

Ahhhh … grackles.

If ever I felt like I was part of Daphne du Maurier’s classic “The Birds” (later made into a Hitchcock movie) it is when the grackles come to nest in the tree right outside my home office window. This is the fourth year they’ve been here.  Last year on the week the babies hatched, I literally wanted to jump out the window, grab the tree and shake. But alas, the nest is too high and I can’t reach it. Their “noise” sounds like fingernails scraping on a blackboard and they continuously chatter … just goes on and on. When I go outside, the adults birds flit around me yakking, telling me that its their yard, not mine.  Not true. (Unless, THEY want to mow the lawn – then I’ll reconsider.)

Well, they’re back and this year they’ve sunk to a new low. First, they immediately shoved out last year’s nest and began building their new nest.

My tree, blemished by used kleenex

And, I kid you not, they are doing so with junk from the trash can across the street. I first noticed this one day as I watched the mother grackle fly over and perch on the rim of the can, grab a discarded ice cream wrapper in her beak, fly back across the street and stuff the garbage in MY tree.

Today it is someone’s used kleenex. (I am not making this up, I watched them do this.)

So, not only do I have annoying, chattering junk birds seven feet from my desk, but I literally have junk in my otherwise, perfectly well-shaped and beautiful tree.

I have nothing more to say about this, but can you hear me scream?

Ok, I am perfectly aware that this is not the hugest problem in the entire world, but IT IS A VERY ANNOYING DISTRACTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


OK, let’s see if I can add these pictures without running our of space 🙂  I think it will be close.


Well, I guess I have too many pictures on my blog – I need to pay to get more space. I’ll work on that and figure out how to do it, I guess.

Anyhow, after CFC and I went to see the sheep being sheared we headed toward Cantigny. CFC lives in the Central Valley of California between Yosemite and San Fran. This is where most of the world’s almonds are grown and a lot of other good things, too, but the landscape there is a lot different than here.  That’s why I thought a walk in a Midwest park on a beautiful spring Saturday might be made to order.

The cool thing about Cantigny is there are three very different things to do: the war museum, McCormick’s house and the gardens. War is not on the top of my priority list, but I have always been impressed with the First Division Museum that Robert McCormick established on his property. (His Division)

Basically, the Museum walks the First Division through World War I and II, the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. Exhibits from additional wars are also include.


Kline Creek Farm raises southdown sheep – a sheep that is bred mostly for its meat. The other unusual aspect of a southdown sheep is that it has wool all over its body, so when it is sheared – she is sheared everywhere including her legs..  Many breeds have wool only on specific parts of their body.  (Worldwide – there are more than 1,000 distinct breeds of sheep.) Right now, the going price of southdown sheep wool is 25 cents which is the same as it was in 1900. Synthetics have made wool not so desireable.

The sheepshearer was very personable and kept up a running commentary. In fact, when he saw me taking pictures, he asked his assistant (Faith) to come over and provide a photo op for me.  The photo op picture is the one with the shearer, Faith and the sheep all smiling – well, the sheep isn’t really smiling, but he doesn’t look all that unhappy.  After all, being sheared is better than being made into lambchops.

Someone asked why the sheep wasn’t struggling and baaing.  Once they turned her over, the sheep just “sat.” She allowed the shearer to shear her with unbelievable compliance. The shearer explained that once a sheep is in an unusual position where she’s not sure if she can get out – she simply stops and allows the shearer to move her anyway he wants.

As the shearer was explaining all this, my mind immediately went to the verse (as did CFC who was across the pen from me).

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open his mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)