View from the big hill

View from the big hill

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas with Aunt Shelley and Mr. Dan!

Well, here it is Christmas Eve and I'm admitting I'm waaaaay behind on my blogs! Maybe I know my New Year's Resolution already? I plan to spend some "free" time over the holiday break catching up on some so there will be October posts in December or January but would you expect less of me? :)

My sister gets to spend a fun Christmas in Jamaica with her boyfriend and his family so we took a quick trip to Manhattan (The Little Apple) for some early Christmas fun with them.
My kids think it is great fun to go to Manhattan. As someone who bleeds purple, I love this! Even though the city is changing so much every time I go there, I always feel a little bit happier just driving down the hill into town.

First order of business when we got to town was of course lunch and where do you feed super hungry people? Why Pizza Ranch of course. Its a great place to feed hungry boys!
Right across the street is a K-State Superstore and Wyatt couldn't wait to get there so we had to shop a bit, hit Starbucks and drove by the renovations that just got started at the football stadium before heading back to relax at Shelley and Dan's. Shelley had to work so Dan got to entertain us for a while until she got home. He is an angel for putting up with all of us!
Our favorite part of the trip was ice skating! Right across from their apartment is an ice skating rink and you can see the skaters from their kitchen windows. As soon as Shelley got home from work, we set out. I couldn't skate since I'm pregnant, Mike had never skated before and neither had the kids so Dan and Shelley had their work cut out for them. My Dad even skated a bit and used his skates from when he was younger. It came back to him pretty quick!
Dan, Wyatt, Shelley and Dad

The kids were so excited to get on the ice....until they got on the ice. Lorelai made it about 30 very tough feet and and said she was done. Wyatt clung onto everything for dear life and just couldn't get his feet headed in the right direction. He just wouldn't give up and with tons of help from Aunt Shelley and Dan, he kept at it. We figured out that they had double blade skates in Lorelai's size and once I talked her into trying those out, she stepped on the ice and just took off! I have no idea how many times those 2 circled that little rink but I'm pretty sure we wore out Shelley and Dan! By the end of our skating, Mike had it figured out and so did both kids and we couldn't get the little people off the ice. They didn't want to leave!
Action Shot!!

It was so much fun and I know Dan woke up the next morning with a back ache from helping the kids out. He was by far the best skater out of all of us so he took the brunt of the work keeping the kids on their feet. Thanks so much Dan!

After skating we headed back to the apartment for some yummy chili and chicken noodle soup and opened presents. Dan and Shelley got Wyatt a very special gift (and my Dad too). It was a maple bat, just like Dan uses with his name engraved on it along with his birth year. It is beautiful and Wyatt just adored it. Something he will have forever.
After dinner Shelley forced us all to play a game and the boys won. This was a feat in itself because my Dad is great at disappearing when games come out. He has never liked playing them and even though he had to play to make the teams even I'm pretty sure he had a good time. By the way, the boys cheated.... more than once ;)
Thanks for hosting us Shell and Dan and we can't wait to visit again! Love you both!

Monday, October 13, 2014

5th Annual Kemper Family Farm Weekend!!!!

Six years ago I got a wild hair to try and put together a fun working farm weekend for my Dad's side of the family. There were some projects that my Dad and Uncle Marc had around the farm that had to take a back seat to the farm/ranch work so I thought it would be a good way to do something for my Grandma, celebrate her birthday, and get everyone together. Growing up I have such fond memories of holidays spent with my cousins and I really wanted my kiddos to experience the same. At the same time, I really felt we all had a pull back to the farm where it all began for this big beautiful family. We are literally scattered all over the world now and it takes great planning and effort for some to make it back for the event and I thank them. We missed our weekend last year but gathered for my Grandma's funeral and while she is no longer with us, I still think we all felt that familiar pull to the farm. I guess you really can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl.

I mentioned we are scattered all over the place and my cousin Karen and her family get the award for traveling the farthest, from Russia!!!!! Karen had been in the States for a couple of months while her husband stayed in Russia to work. It was so adorable to see the reunion when he finally, after flight delays, made it to the farm. Those were the happiest boys on the planet!
Our project this year was spending time together and I personally enjoyed every minute of it. We painted and hung a barn quilt on the side of the barn and it turned out great. My mom had seen these in photos and got the craft together and I love how it looks. You can see the completed quilt on the picture above with everyone in it.
There are a bunch of kiddos in our family about the same age, most of them being boys, so you can imagine the fun being had by the littles. Didn't matter if they were in town or out at the farm, there was something happening. They went swimming, played baseball, practiced their roping and spent a lot of time just enjoying the fresh air. There were so many great pictures but these are some of my favorites!
The adults weren't left out of the fun, although our fun seems to involve a slower pace and food :) We always try and divide up the cooking responsibilities a bit. The aunts and uncles take a meal (or a couple) and the grandkids have the other. The grandkids usually have the bbq which my husband loves to play grill master for. I think his "supervisor" did an excellent job of making sure the burgers were cooked to perfection too!
We also got to celebrate Aunt Coleen and Mike's birthdays. They were good sports for the surprise and I thank them for giving us another reason for some cake ;)
Uncle Marc hooked the Ranger up to his wagon to take the kids for a ride through the alfalfa field and they had a blast. They even saw deer on their little jaunt! Yes that's my Aunt Tam in the back. We had to send someone with them to keep them all sitting still! The bandit just so happens to be my son!
Here are a few of the adults hanging out over the weekend. My sister is going to love me for posting the one of her but I love it and can't stop cracking up every time I see it! And I'm not sure what the guys are doing by the flag pole. Are they trying to figure out how the darn thing is in the ground or why the flag seems to have enough wind to fly but the kites won't? :)
We always try our best to get some pictures of the aunts and uncles together. In the past this included Grandpa and Grandma Kemper but even though they are now absent from the photos, they are a very special snapshot of what makes this family go round. Where it started and why it continues. We are missing Uncle Larry who had to leave early for work but he is there in spirit!
We have quite the musical family and sharing music is such a wonderful gift that brings everyone together. My Grandpa Kemper was a very good saxophone player. He played in a band when he was young and I can remember one day we got his sax out and he tried to play it. Of course the reeds were a million years old and he was suffering from emphysema at the time but that toe was tapping and he got some notes belted out. There has always been a piano in the middle of the room and there are several that play and there seems to often be someone walking by and randomly playing a tune. My cousin Ed got out some old sheet music and started in on the Tennessee Waltz which got my dad wanting to sing and well, here they are. This was a song my Grandpa would play on his sax!

By far one of my favorite moments of the weekend was when my Aunt Tam and my Dad walked out of the back room with their guitars. I had wanted to do a campfire with some music but time ran out and I thought it wasn't going to happen. I can't tell you how happy I was to have them play and it just made my day! Here is a little clip of some John Denver!
As always, we end the weekend with Mass and lunch at Aunt Tam and Uncle Marc's and everyone is off headed in their own direction. Having so many here this year just made the weekend extra special and I felt so blessed that all the great grandkids had so much time together just getting to know each other and playing. It always leaves me looking forward to next year! One last picture.... sunset on the farm!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kohake Girls Weekend 2014 - Manhattan, KS!

If there is one place that my Mom's family identifies with it is Manhattan, KS.  All four sisters graduated from KSU and of their daughters, 3 of the 5 of us also hold the blessed certificates. But regardless of our degree status, every darn one of us bleeds purple!!! It was only fitting that we meet there for our fun weekend and with all the changes going on in Manhattan, I really looked forward to the trip.

Rather than choosing a hotel, my Mom found a great little house called Houston Street Cottage ( that was a wonderful place to stay. The house was literally a block from Poyntz Ave. so we were within easy walking distance of restaurants, the mall, the farmer's market and Poyntz shopping. One of the restaurants I really wanted to try was Bourbon and Baker. First of all, the name just speaks to me. Two yummy things wrapped into one, bourbon and baked goods. Gotta love it! The decor was eclectic and simple and I wanted the table we sat at in my house. That, and I loved the trim/wainscot pieces they used around their bar.
From the outside looking in
So simple and yet so functional
Love the rustic face of the bar
And then came the food! Everything was very unique and oh so yummy. It is the type of place they bring the entire table a stack of plates and you can either choose to eat what you ordered yourself, or share with your friends. Our waitress was very good and even helped me order for my daughter who is not into gourmet food. Lolo cleaned her plate so the chicken and waffles were a hit. Not to mention the duck fat fries, strawberry bruschetta, corn on the cob covered with yummy goodness and more. Lorelai and I had a great time hanging out for a special dinner with the ladies and the cookie we got from the bakery in back was to die for! Shhhhh, we snuck it home for a late night snack. ;)
The 3 year old taking selfies after dinner. Oh boy!

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was visiting my friend and his studio, Prairie School Farms ( or find him on FB) in Westmoreland. We all picked up some treasures and I got to visit a bit with him. He has such a talent and I just love that he has found his happy place.
One thing we did this weekend was take A LOT of pictures. We took pics all over town at some favorite spots and had some good laughs. Some of us are a little type A and have to color coordinate, height coordinate, age coordinate, whatever coordinate the pictures. I love to just stand back and watch them figure it all out. That's why I'm just the camera lady! :) 
Photo coordinating....... :)
And we are set! #gowiththeFlo
Jump around! Jump around!
What the heck is soooooo funny?????
A favorite... always having a great time!
Till next year ladies... I'm already dreaming of coconut moscato, Aunt Marcia's toffee and tons of laughs. Its always a trip and I love ya!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Abilene Kansas D-Day Visit

My parents are always finding great little outings and luckily they invite us along to many of them. They found out Abilene, KS has a Symphony at Sunset annually to commemorate D-Day on the Eisenhower Museum lawn, wanted to go and asked the kids and me to meet them there for the afternoon festivities on the museum grounds. They had a lot happening but most seemed for older kids and adults so we decided it was best with the kids to just meander around the grounds to see the static displays. I loved the old military jeeps driving around waving the red, white and blue in the breeze honking a hello at all the folks walking around.
Not sure who was getting a ride but it looked like fun!
The static displays were great. I wish my husband had been there but he was at drill. He would have loved it. Wyatt really enjoyed the re-enactors dressed in the military uniforms and carrying weapons of WWII. They did a great presentation about the uniforms and weapons and even fired some rounds so you could hear how they sound. Afterwards, they invited all the kids to look for spent shells on the ground. Wyatt found one, had it cleared by one of the volunteers and he brought it home to show dad. Lorelai wasn't too happy with the loud noises so Grandma took her on a walk to get a cookie :) We spent a lot of time visiting with those volunteers who were extremely knowledgeable. I believe they said they were out of El Dorado, KS and had been to events in all 50 states. Wyatt and Grandpa also took a turn at throwing mock grenades from WWII. They were both pretty good at hitting their targets!
Some dressed as American soldiers, others as German soldiers

This gun was VERY HEAVY. I have no idea how they were able to use them.
Trying to figure out who gets to sit in the side car.
Our next adventure was to ride the train! Abilene has a non-profit, check them out at, that is committed to giving you the experience of how our ancestors used to travel. Now, my daughter has avoided our back yard now for probably three months due to some fear she thinks she has of the train that passes right behind our house. I was a bit unsure of how I was going to get her on the thing when we got there but after a little bit of resistance, I got her on and she had a great time!

We rode behind their diesel engine in the dinner car going out. It was beautiful countryside scenery and I could have totally taken a nap with the motion of the train car. We just visited and took in the view. The kids loved the steel bridge you cross over the Smoky Hill River and I found a barn that I loved (I have a love of old barns and this one I would love to have out back one day!).
Love this little barn! 
On our journey
On the way back to Abilene we rode in the gondola car. Its more out in the open and has some picnic tables to sit at and you can move about more but my favorite ride was the dinner car. We pulled into the 1887 Rock Island Depot and headed out back for a good ol' gun fight. Well, most of us. Lorelai wasn't too interested in the guns going off again so I stayed with her in the depot playing with the toy trains they had set up. We did watch the very beginning and it was the first time I had ever heard the re-enactors lesson the kids in the audience about gun safety. Great idea and I wondered why more don't do it. 

I'm so glad we went as it was a great experience for all of us. D-Day is such an important day in history and I would encourage anyone to visit Abilene at their annual event. We headed home after the train ride but my parents stayed the night for the symphony and they said it was fantastic. As a side note, the train ride did NOT cure my daughter of any train related fears and she still won't go in our back yard! A big thanks to my folks for treating us for the day!