Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Don't Step on a Crack..."

When I was little I went to "Grandma Pre-School" (and before and after school care). I treasure those days and all that time with that precious lady

Grandma would often take us on nature walks around the neighborhood and I remember always being really careful as I walked on the often very cracked sidewalks because of that little rhyme, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back." I knew that it wasn't true but, just for fun, I would giggle with my brother and cousin and always be very careful not to step on cracks because I valued the well-being of my mom.

Now, as we go on walks, I often think of that little rhyme and sometimes I take delight in stepping on cracks on purpose as I giggle with God because I know that stepping on a crack can't hurt my mom. She is in a glorified body no longer wracked by lupus and I am so thankful that, though I miss her, her pain on earth is over.

Thinking of that made me think of 2 Corinthians 5. I read it in a few different versions but I liked how The Message put it:

1-5For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less.
 6-8That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
 9-10But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that's what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we'll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what's coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
 11-14That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It's no light thing to know that we'll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That's why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We're not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we're on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ's love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
  Thanks God for giving my parents resurrection bodies. I long for mine but until I get it may I cheerfully please You here on earth with what You have entrusted to me and may Your love have the first and last word in everything I do.

AWANA Grand Prix

Last week the church that the kids have been going to AWANA at had their AWANA Grand Prix. The kids had had a lot of fun decorating their cars and it was fun to watch them race down the track as well. They didn't win for fastest cars of the night but they all made it down the track every time, usually faster than the last car.
Abigail's "Tie Dye," Lydia's "Mercy's Taxi," Hannah's "Flower Bed," and Caleb's "Beetle Scorcher"
Dad helping get the cars to their maximum weight
Abigail, ready to race
Caleb and Hannah - head to head
Lydia's taxi ready to head down the track
Here's a bunch of the other cars lined up for design judging
Hannah's car won for "Most Exotic" or something like that
The girls' friend whose car we made the night before came in 3rd fastest in the Sparks' competition
I'm thankful that the kids had the opportunity to participate in AWANA for these last few weeks and for a fun night at the Grand Prix :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's Working Wednesday: Theme Day Menu Plan

I've decided to start a new weekly feature on my blog to showcase some things that are working for our family at the moment that may or may not be a help to others. With the alliteration in the title I am sure that I am not the first to use it so hopefully it isn't trademarked or anything - sorry if someone came up with this idea before me. I'm not trying to hijack your idea!

The first topic is one that has been a lifesaver for me! I homeschool so during the school year by the time dinner time rolls around without a sound menu plan I was often scrambling to throw something together and we would often eat really late! I have tried many different menu planning ideas but never found anything that really stuck.

Starting during the 2010-2011 school year (I think) I started a basic menu plan during the school week that gave me some flexibility that has really helped me with the "What's for dinner?" question. It goes like this:

Meatless Monday -  We don't eat a lot of meat as a family (usually treating it as a condiment) but on this night we go completely meat-free and usually have dahl, baked mac and cheese or another meatless recipe that I want to try.

Taco Tuesday - We usually have tacos but sometimes some other kind of Mexican themed food is on the menu.

Wednesday Soup Night - Wednesday is often a busy day so soup is often thrown in the crockpot or made quickly with cooked meat and veggies from the freezer - I am always looking for good soup recipes so please feel free to send some my way!

Thursday Stir Fry - This night is a family favorite. My usual stir fry is a mix between a recipe that I got out of my Betty Crocker cookbook and one that I learned from a guy who lived downstairs when we lived in Houghton served over rice using whatever meat and veggies we have on hand.

Friday Homemade Pizza - We love homemade pizza. I always have large quantities of yeast, flour, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni for these nights.

Saturdays and Sundays aren't quite so set in stone. Saturdays we often have curry, fried rice (if we have a lot of leftover rice), or breakfast for supper. On Sundays lunch is often leftovers or something in the crockpot when we get home from church and Sunday supper is always POPCORN!! Yum!

This menu plan has given us the chance to try a lot of new and interesting recipes but always know what the theme for the meal is. When the time to make dinner rolls around I already know, based on what day it is, basically what we're having and just have to throw it together. It has really been helpful for me as a busy homeschooling mama.

I know that other people (that don't eat meat as a condiment) have used similar menus with a meat chosen for each day, for example: chicken on Mondays, ground beef on Tuesdays, pork on Wednesdays, etc. Come up with your own theme days to make answering that dreaded "What's for dinner?" question a little less dreaded!

What menu plan works for you?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

God's Multiplying Groups

Last night we went to a small group reunion Memorial Day BBQ / surprise birthday party for a friend in Rochester. We went because we hadn't been to Rochester for a while and we aren't sure when we are going to get back there. Two of our friends from there are finishing their residencies with U of R and we really wanted to see them and their families before they skipped the country. One of our friends has taken a position working in a hospital in Tanzania and the other is doing a two year Samaratin's Purse post residency fellowship in Napal.

It was fun to catch up with some old friends and meet some of the new people that are now part of our old small group. One of the neatest things was to hear news of how the small group ministry at Northridge Church and the small group that we started was doing.

Our first year in Rochester we were part of a neat small group from church that really helped us to grow spiritually and provided much needed friends and connections in our new town but at the end of the year it had grown to the point that it needed to multiply. We felt led (with another couple from the group) to break off and start a small group in the city that met on Monday nights (most of the other small groups met on Wednesdays and none were in the city). It was neat remembering with Brad how, on the first night, God brought two additional couples that we weren't really expecting and they were quickly followed by another couple. Brad told us that now, 3 years later, that group that we started has multiplied into 3 small groups. We  are humbled to see what He is doing. God is amazing. We have encouraged two other couples that we knew that were moving to Rochester to be involved in that small group (regardless of whether they decided to go to Northridge or not) which gave them immediate friends and God has used it to grow and develop believers for His glory. I am so thankful for what He has continued to do and how He at work in the small group ministry there. I am humbled that He used us to be a small part of it for a season.

From what I understand there are now 50 small groups meeting weekly and 80% of adult attenders are a part of one of them. To God be the glory great things He has done and is continuing to do through Northridge Church. I am so thankful that God allowed us to attend there for 2 years!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hard Lessons

It's been a rough day at Maas Academy. One of my students in particular is having a difficult day and has been screaming at me, taking it out on siblings, and hurting that student's own body. My main thought this morning was, "I hope I don't die soon because Glenn will need to re-marry and I would hate to have any other woman ever treated the way that I have been treated today."

I have been praying a lot and trying to respond with grace and love and not react sinfully as I am sinned against but it has not been easy.

Which brings me to the other thought that I have been pondering today: "How do I make God feel? How often do I treat Him like I've been treated today? How does He respond?"

I fail, I am disappointed, I get frustrated, I want to give up often and, often, I get angry. I flail. I guess, to my sorrow, my beloved student in question has learned from my example.

Lord, do You often wonder about me, Your student:
- Why won't Sonja listen to me?
- I love her so much and just want to help her.
- I am trying to help her, why won't she accept My help?
- How can I passify her anger?
- How can I help her in a way that will be received?
- Why isn't she more teachable?
- Haven't we gone over this many, many times before?
- Will I ever get through to her?
- When will she ever learn from her mistakes?
- Should I just give up on her?
Dear Teacher, I am sorry for not always being a receptive student in the lessons that You have for me. Thank You, Lord, that You don't give up on me. Thank You for Your mercy and Your grace. Please give me wisdom. Help me to keep my eyes on You and learn from You and Your example how to teach these students that You have entrusted to me. I love You and I long to represent You well in our home.

Five Minute Friday: Opportunity

It's Friday again. Time to write for 5 minutes on....



"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations." - Chuck Swindoll

This is the quote that first came to mind when I read the word "opportunity." It is so true. We have had so many opportunities over our lives that really didn't look like opportunities when we were in the midst of them.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been reading Peace Child at lunch time. The Richardsons were in a situation living among headhunters that valued tretchery above all other virtues. The situation to us, reading it, and to them looked hopeless. How on earth can you work among to a people who "fatten people with friendship for the slaughter," who see Judas Iscariot as the ultimate hero?? They decided taht they needed to leave that area so that the people they were living among wouldn'g kill each other which lead the people, in order to keep the Richardsons there. to offer a peace child. Finally a link into their culture, an opportunity, where they could be shown the ultimate Peace Child in Jesus Christ.


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As I was thinking of opportunity and that quote from Chuck Swindoll I thought of a book that we have on our shelf that I read in 6th grade called i love the word impossible by Ann Kiemel. I remember it challenging me back then and being intrigued by the way she wrote. I want to re-read it and read the preface again this morning and I wanted to post it here:

"i love the word impossible....

it's like joy after sorrow.
     people being friends after being enemies.
     rainbows after drenching rain.
     a would healed.
     sunsets on quiet evenings after
                                                      hot, noisy days.
     paralyzed, injured limbs learning to grow
                                             strong and useful again.
     forgiveness after wrong.
     truth after fog.
     new love-made babies.
     birds learning to fly and own the sky.
     bitterness turned to mellowness.
     fresh, genuine hope ... once abandoned.
     people finding each other at right moments,
                                     in unexpected, obscure places...
                                     for God-ordained reasons.

i love that word impossible because my God believes in
           and extraordinary mountains, and He dares
to be alive in a world crawling with terrible

He promises to be bigger than any impossiblity
                 because He is love...
     and love always finds a way though,
                  in time.
love isn't scared.
it builds bridges instead of walls.
it never gives up.
it always hangs on.
it waits with stubborn, strong hope.
                 sometimes even for years.

love makes God alive in far more than human souls.
     like sun and clear sky and drooping branches
               and dark birds and color and design and music...
          and the sound of water on a shore.

IMPOSSIBLE means that i,
          an ordinary young woman,
can be something special and significant
                 in an enormous, hurting world.
i can be love where i live,
                 and that is Christ...

and He really does make ALL
                                                 the difference!"

I, too, love the word impossible because God has used so many impossible situations in my life- times of moving, times of homelessness, times of not getting into school, times of loss of loved ones, and so much more and has turned them into amazing opportunities. When an impossible situation comes up I get excited because I know that my God is going to turn it into an opportunity and it is going to be painful but, in the future,  looking back, it is going to be amazing!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Adventuring

 There was beautiful weather and Glenn was off this weekend so we all got to get out and enjoy it.

Friday night was a toss up for us. We had 2 fun options to decide between: (1) go to the drive-in to watch The Pirates Band of Misfits and Avengers or (2) go to Whittaker Falls Park where a man from the Sci-Tech Center in Watertown was bringing telescopes to look at the planets and learn us about the stars. We opted to do the Astronomy thing because looking through telescopes isn't something that we do often and we wanted to make sure that someone was there for the event since he was traveling so far. We all had a good time and, as it turns out, there was a pretty good showing of people there. The kids spent most of their time running around and playing on the playground in the dark with a bunch of other kids. There were 2 telescopes set up and we were able to see Venus (I didn't know what we often see of it is just a crescent), then I missed out on seeing Mars through the telescope but got to see Saturn and it's rings which was really neat.

On Saturday morning I took a walk around the block before the others got up and stopped at Tops on the way home. They had chicken breast (bone in) on sale for .99 /# and I had a coupon for $4 off a $20 meat purchase. I bought just over 20# of chicken and used my coupon. That should last us a while! I threw some in the crock pot as soon as I got home then Glenn and I made a quick trip to the Farmer's Market at the fairgrounds for it's opening day and bought 4 six packs of plants- Florida 47 tomatoes, Rose tomatoes (which are heirloom and my sister in law tells me will grow to be huge), bell peppers and cayenne peppers. We then all went back to Whetstone Gulf to do the loop again. We did it in just shy of 3 hours this time but skipped the extra up and down hike to the lookout. We decided to count the danger signs and starting at around sign 8 we came up with the idea to have one or more of the kids pose with each of the signs holding fingers up to indicate which number danger sign it was. We counted 32 signs but we may have missed a couple. No one can say that they weren't warned of the potential danger on that trail!

Cuties posing between two trees.
Abigail petting a root that looked like a critter of some kind.

The girls posing with sign #18

Sign #25

Glenn, my 32 year old, posed with sign 32 - the last one ;)

A bit better stats than our first time
After getting home from our hike we walked to a friends house to paint our Grand Prix cars with them and play for a while before heading home for supper, showers, and bed. 

Sunday we went to church early because Hannah's class was having a man come in to talk about bullying. I think that he gave helpful information. After church there was a pot luck dinner so we stayed for that and helped clean up before walking home. We drove over to tractor supply to buy some potting soil to plant the plants that we planted yesterday. We put some of our plants in the Topsy Turveys that we bought last fall on clearance. We'll see how that goes. Then we put the rest of them in other random containers. We also started some lettuce, basil, cilantro, spinach, and scallions. Looking forward to some fresh veggies in a couple of months :)

While we were busy planting the kids played in the sprinkler with some of the neighbor kids then played kickball. Later we took our walk. Instead of going around the block the kids wanted to "just go to WalMart and back" so that is what we did. There are no hills on that trip. We wandered WalMart a bit because I recently found a gift card in my wallet from who knows when with about $50 on it but I wasn't impressed with the prices or quality of anything there so, for the 3rd time since moving to Lowville, we went to WalMart and did not buy anything. I'm not sure that many people do that but we have, many times.

It was a fun and beautiful weekend and I am so glad we could have so much fun as a family :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Perspective

It's Friday again and time to write for 5 minutes on...



This morning in our devos we were reading from Psalm 78. It rehearses the story of the Old Testament. It tells of how God chose Israel and how Israel chose to sin and how God punished Israel and they repented then sinned again and started over again. Caleb was wondering, as I often have: "Why didn't God just start over with someone else instead of keep working with the Israelites who were just going to disobey Him again?"

From my perspective I am SO thankful that God didn't just throw out the nation of Israel because they disobeyed. It gives me hope that when I mess up, when I sin, when I disobey that He is not going to give up on me. He loves me and has chosen me and I am so unworthy. God's perspective of things is so much different than mine and I am so thankful that it is. I am thankful that He doesn't give up on me.

It makes me want to change my perspective as a parent. I want to be to my children a parent like God is - ever forgiving, ever blessing, ever striving to restore right relationships no matter how my kids mess up because that is what God has done for me.


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Monday, May 14, 2012

Morning After Reflections

This morning as I was reading the Proverb of the day a few of the verses stuck out to me:

v1. A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.

How often, because of discontentment do I tear down in this home and the lives that God has entrusted to me rather than build it up and steward all I have for His glory? 

v4. Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.

I don't own any oxen but I do have four children who are good at making messes and this verse always prompts me to thank God for them rather than complain about the messes they make. 

v10. Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.

God has entrusted every life with it's own amount of joy and bitterness. I can't walk in the pain of my childless friend or even my friend who has lost her mother because there are so many details that I'll never know and I am not in her skin. Neither can I walk in the joy of my friend who got to experience her first Mother's Day after years of barrenness. I am so thankful that God can walk with each one and comfort them and rejoice with them in ways that I never could.

Yesterday, before church, "How Great the Father's Love for Us" by Stuart Townsend was on my heart so I looked up the words and was awed at God's love for me so I wanted to post them here.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
~Stuart Townend

The part that stuck out to me this morning as I re-read it is the second part of the second verse: "As wounds which mar the chosen One bring many sons to glory." God has chosen to allow pain in each of our lives. It is my prayer that He will use those "wounds" in my life to bring many people to Him.Thank You, Jesus, for being wounded. Thank You, Father, for giving up Your Son. How unworthy and grateful I am that the price for my sin has been paid. May I boast in You alone.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Struggle with Mother's Day

I'm somewhat embarrassed to post this but this is my year to be open and maybe part of this will strike a cord with someone. Posted here is a raw prayer that I prayed this morning as I struggled to come to terms with this holiday and a brief update on it's answer.

Another Mother's Day is here, Lord, and I always struggle with this day. If I'm honest, it's probably one of my least favorite days of the year. On this day I am reminded once again that my mom is with You, not here on earth. Oh, how I miss her and I'm so jealous of people who have a mom to talk to, to give a wise understanding ear, to love their kids. Then I feel guilty for being jealous because isn't coveting a sin? Wanting something that someone else has? #10 on the list, isn't it? I'm sorry, Lord, I am called to be content and to trust You that You are in control and know what is best. You are good and do what is good, even when I think it looks bad. Most of the time I am content. Most of the time I do trust You. I have seen some of the things You have done as a result of my motherlessness. I have been able to care for and pray for others who suffer only because I have felt pain. I had a pretty cushy life growing up and I never really realize what I have until it's gone. I don't know if I really ever thanked her. I was still, in so many ways, a kid when mom died. Yes, I was legally an adult, married, and mom to a ten month old the last time we had a conversation but I didn't really know what being an adult daughter was like. When I hear of others talking to or doing stuff with their moms it's hard and I have to fight the urge to wallow in self-pity for my motherless state. I'm thankful for that blog post from Lisa-Jo that I read the other day.

Then there's the flip side of the coin. Now I'm a mom. I never really planned on being a mom. Growing up I always assumed that when I grew up I would be single and teaching either missionary kids or local kids overseas somewhere. The idea that I would be living in the US homeschooling my own four was never even on my radar. Lord, You know how often I've wondered in the past how much easier life would be if my role was different but it wouldn't be easy, just different. I've talked to single friends and I've heard the pain and loneliness they bear in walking this life alone in a world so full of couples. I've heard the pain my childless friends bear as they long so much to be mothers. This role of "child of God, wife of a medical student and homeschooling mom to four kids" is the one that You have chosen for me, Lord, please help me to be faithful in it and content with it even when the days are crazy and an hour all by myself sounds like heaven on earth.

I remember growing up mother's day for me was a day to get up early, make mom breakfast in bed with flowers we'd picked from the flowerbed outside, and celebrate her. Now I'm the one being celebrated and I'm not comfortable with this part of Mother's Day either, Lord. I struggle because I battle between how unworthy of being acknowledged I feel and the desire to be acknowledged. I see my failures. I know the hundreds of times I mess up as a mom every moment of every day. I know how far I am from that perfect, ideal mom that I read about in books and blog posts. On the other hand, I do like to be acknowledged. I do do a lot around here but these Hallmark holidays that put the focus on one day a year frustrate me. I don't really want forced acknowledgement. Thinking about that though, do You feel it's "forced acknowledgement" when I go to church on Sundays? I go and worship, not just because it is a set time to acknowledge You but it's something that I've chosen to do because I love You. Maybe it's the same with these Hallmark holidays.

So today is another day, Lord, when I get to make choices. Please help me to make choices that glorify You. Please help me to be grateful for the years that You gave me with my mom and the example that she gave me. Please help me to be grateful for and content in the roles You've placed me in. I truly do have a very blessed, fun life that, though not what I planned for myself, I couldn't image any other way. Please help me not to allow all the stuff rolling around in my mind to draw away from or hinder the fun my family has planned today to celebrate me. Please help me to allow them to celebrate me, no matter how undeserving I feel. Thank You for blessing me with Glenn, Caleb, Hannah, Lydia, & Abigail.

Well, today turned out to be a good day. When Glenn asked me this morning what my ideal for Mother's Day was I told him that I just wanted to stay in bed all day with a blanket over my head. He asked me if that was what I really wanted to do. I told him I didn't know. Instead of letting me wallow under the covers he took me to church then brought me home, threw together lunch and then took me to Whetstone Gulf State Park for a long hike with my family. It was truly what I needed more than hours alone under the covers. I am so thankful for Glenn and that he took the initiative and didn't let me stay in the darkness that I thought I wanted to stay in. I'm thankful for the chance to talk on the phone or skype with my grandma and Glenn's mom, grandma and sister for Mother's Day. I'm also thankful for the yummy ice cream sundaes over freshly baked chocolate chip cookie bars that my crew concocted to conclude this day. I am one blessed woman. Thank You Lord!

Whetstone Gulf Hike

The above trillium picture was taken on our first annual Mother's day hike. This year we went to Whetstone Gulf State Park which is about 10 minutes south of where we live.  It has an almost 6 mile loop that runs along the ridge of the gorge.  Below are pictures that document this harrowing and fun day.

 It was a beautiful day and there is no better way to keep people interacting with each other and not have to fight screen time than to put them out in nature where a misstep could lead to the end of their lives. (That last part isn't an exaggeration)
Getting started on the North Trail
Here is most of the group heading up one of the not so steep and really wide part of the trail.
Oh yes, this post would not be complete without a picture of one of the very plentiful signs that warned that you were taking this hike at your own risk.

Here are the kiddos at one of the good openings down into the gorge.  Its about 75 or more feet down to the bottom right on the other side of that rock.
The mother we were celebrating and her date.
Some good pictures of the gorge and the loose rock walls that you don't want to fall down. (The trail runs right on the edge of that loose rock so you can see everything.
One of the small waterfalls that fed down into the gorge.  This one was quite spectacular about 20 feet from this point.
 The water is getting closer
Even closer!
The long awaited sign. This indicated we were about half way done.  We had given up and broken out lunch about 200 yards before the sign.  Oh, well.
 Making the turn to the south side.
Sonja crossing one of the foot bridges
Very calm and tranquil 
This is one of only a couple of purple trilliums that we saw
I see farm land out there - we must be getting close to the end!
We came to a crossroads and decided to head down the dead end to the look out spot.  The kids are sliding down the pine needle covered hill as it was safer and quicker.
Hannah, in the orange wasn't planning on coming but when she saw how much fun her siblings were having she decided she would come as well.
Sonja really wasn't coming but since all the rest of her family was going to the look out she decided to come as well and sliding seemed safer after Glenn wiped out on a loose branch.
It reminded Sonja of this page from Come Over to My House by Theo LeSieg (Dr Suess)
The first 2 made it to the look out.
Since we all made it to the look out we decided to take a family picture. It was fun but Sonja said if you are tired don't bother going up and down the two or three hills it takes to get there.
Heading back up one of the steep hills.  Abigail is close to the top.  Can you see her?
We like the open woods like this. This is leaving the gorge trail and heading back to the parking lot.
Playing pooh sticks after making it back to the car.
Our splits, which are not too great. We passed a guy heading in as we were almost done. I asked him how long it took for him to run around and he said 45 mins to 1 hour and 15 mins depending on the day. That is impressive!
Here is the picture of our loop.  That one little jut out part is when we went to the look out.
Did you notice the elevation changes during this hike?  We were really glad we have been walking or it would have been a tough hike and the kids would not have made it so well.
 Note from Sonja: A special thanks to Glenn for putting the comments on this pictures for me while I was doing tick checks on the girls and for stealing me away for our Mother's Day hike and all the work he did to make it possible. It was a fun day (though there were several times  today on our hike that I just had to close my eyes and bite my tongue so that I didn't scare the kids off the edge when they were scaring me by getting too close or walking too carelessly for my comfort!) 

A note of caution for future possible hikers of this trail: Things to know if you want to take this hike.  There are guard rails on this trail in 2 places: (1) on the sides of the initial bridge getting to the North Ridge trail and (2) around the look out spot on the dead end. The whole rest of the loop consists of very steep drop offs, loose ground cover, and very narrow trails. (It claims to be a cross country skiing trail but I could not imagine cross country skiing on it!) Our kids are pretty obedient and are used to hiking. I'm not sure that I would take kids not accustomed to hiking or those that you don't trust to obey you on this trail. I've never seen so many signs warning of the dangers of where I was hiking on any other trail I've been on in my life. (I'll have to count them next time we do this hike!) This hike, though lots of fun, is definitely not a leisurely stroll in the woods.

Bike Ride, Pit Crew Day, Wishy's, and the Drive-In

The weather has been nice this weekend and we have had a bit of a chance to get out and enjoy it.

Friday night we went for a family bike ride. There were 10 of us all together because 4 friends came with us (or we joined their family bike ride, not really sure). It was our first bike ride as a family this season. We hadn't really gone on a family bike ride this year because we didn't have a bike for Hannah. (Her sisters have grown and each moved up in bike sizes and the bike we have for her is still in Syracuse being fixed by a friend.) Thankfully our friends had one that she could borrow. (It was a little too big for her but she made it work.) We went for 7 miles and all the kids did pretty good.
Our Route
  On Saturday we went to "Pit Crew Day" which is something that the kids had really been looking forward to. Since moving here to Lowville the kids have started going to AWANA at a church about 15 minutes away. They are having the Grand Prix (a pinewood derby race) soon and they had the man who made their track come and bring some tools so that the kids (and parents!) could have help making their cars. It is amazing how much easier it is to shape the cars with a jig saw, power sander and a jeweler's tool.

Hannah and Abigail watching their cars being sawed
Glenn sanding a car
After Pit Crew day we took the kids to Wishy's since they hadn't been there yet. We each got baby cones in different flavors so we each got a chance to try 6 different flavors :)
After enjoying our ice cream we decided to take a walk on the tracks nearby and see who could make it the farthest. It was fun because two tracks intersected there near where there used to be a train station.
Saturday night we decided to go to the movies because The Avengers was still playing at Valley Brook Drive-In in Lyons Falls. We wanted to experience the drive-in and didn't really know of any other movie coming up this summer that we'd really want to see. It $5 for people over 12, $1 for 7-11 year olds and anyone under 7 is free so all of us got to watch the movie for $13 (I don't think that Glenn and I could have gone to the movies for that little at a normal theater). We could have stuck around to watch The Three Stooges too but chose not to because it was so late and we weren't really sure what it was like. When we got there we saw that next week they are showing The Pirates which is another movie that we were interested in seeing so we may go back on Friday night to watch it and watch The Avengers again.

Today (Sunday) we went out and had another adventure but there are too many pictures from it to add to this post so I'll have to give it it's own blog post :)