Category Archives: summer fun

Railroad ties. Add sand, kids will come!


Apparently, we now live in a beach house.  Not really, but apparently sand boxes can create a very realistic simulation.

(Apparently, my kids have been using that word too much.  Mom’s started copying.)

I’ve always wanted a sand box for the kids.  Whenever we visit somebody that has a sandbox, Megan especially will sit for hours and just dig in the sand.

Derek finally agreed to build one!  And when he builds something, he BUILDS something.  If you get my drift.  But here — pictures are worth a thousand words:

First, he made a box from a bundle of railroad ties.

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Next he added 4 tons of sands:

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He finished it by tractor light, and Mercy was the first child to set foot in the sand.  She promptly scooped up and ate fistfuls of sand.  I’m not exactly sure what deficiency that suggests.

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(Yes, I realize there is a tree buried in sand in this picture.  My husband boxed it in, after his mom told him it wouldn’t hurt the tree.  Somebody else told us that the tree would die because the roots couldn’t get oxygen.  An actual tree expert told us that the problem would be rot around the trunk that the sand would create.  Rot would bring bugs, and bugs would kill the tree.

So.  Derek cut out the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and put it around the tree.  Sand not-so-mysteriously keeps finding its way to the bottom of the bucket, so we’ll have to keep scooping it out, but maybe the tree will survive.  If not, it was a filler tree anyway!  I have a Sugar Maple growing 5 feet away from it, and the Redbud is getting very close to interference.)

The kids LOVE the sandbox!  The morning after it was finished, Cameron was up and outside before I was even awake, and had dug all the way to the bottom of the sandbox.  I love that all 6 of my kids can sit and play together!  We’ve even had cousins in there too.  The kids have played in the sandbox every day since Daddy built it.  Tons of fun.  Quite literally. =)

Yes, I do have the kids rinse off and brush down before they come inside my house, but you’ve been to the beach, right?  Sand wins.  Every time.

So I’ll just keep sweeping sand into piles and wishing I had some saltwater and dolphins to go with it!


The best donuts happen at night!


Of course we would pick National Donut Day to go to Krumpe’s.  Derek was practicing his fun-dad-creating-memories routine.  He told the kids to get their jammies on, and then loaded them up in the car.

Oh, summer nights! We rode into town at dusk, with windows down and warm wind making the back seat kids shriek that they were cold.  As if!  They just don’t like wind in their face, silly kids.

Krumpe’s was PACKED!  I wish I’d thought to get a picture.  Krumpe’s is this hole-in-the-wall local joint, in a back alley, and it opens for business at 7:00pm.  They close up shop in the wee hours of morning, so they can deliver donuts to all the local stores that carry Krumpe’s.

We got there around 8:30pm, and cars and people were lined up all over the place.  Derek dropped me off instead of trying to fit the Suburban down a packed alley.  I found the back of the line, and mentioned to someone that I’d never seen Krumpe’s this crowded, and was it just a Friday night thing?  I assumed the lady I was addressing was a local gal.  (You can just spot them somehow, you know?)

She shook her head.  “It’s National Donut Day!”

Ohhhh!  I forgot about Facebook.  All day, people had been posting about free donuts at Krispy Kreme, and I was lamenting that fact that we don’t have one close to us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love packed out places — like sold-out out movie theaters!  It heightens the experience for me.  Community, and all that.  I love Christmas shopping at the mall!  My husband is the opposite.  He hates lines, and restaurants full of people.  (I love waiting for 30 minutes at Olive Garden, so I can people watch, and chat with my date for that much longer!)  He’d rather sit in the middle of an empty movie theater.

I chatted with the people around me in line, and soaked in the warm summer darkness.  I probably stood in line for 30 minutes.  People took turns holding the shop door open, passing it on to the next person when it was their turn to order donuts.  Maybe some people like holding doors, but I couldn’t take it any longer!  I walked over to a planter full of dirt and flowers, picked it up, and walked over to the elderly gentleman currently holding the door.

“Here.  Let me put this down right there.”

Startled smile.  “Oh!  Thank you!  You should work here!”

I wanted to raise my hand and be like, “HOME SCHOOLER!”

I ordered 3 dozen donuts, and by the time I found Derek parked out on the street, he’d killed his phone playing Free Fall, and some of the kids were asleep.

We pigged out on donuts on the drive home, and tucked our sticky, sleeping children in bed with un-brushed teeth.

Mmm… sweet memories!

Summer in a nutshell


Here’s the skinny:  …I have absolutely no idea why I haven’t written anything for three months!

I’ll be sad not to have our summer stories written down anywhere.  Except on my heart — my kids are always scribbling memories down on my heart.  And while I don’t have our recent lives typed up all neat and orderly, we have definitely been living out stories together, in real life.  Neat and orderly though?  *Phfft* — Hardly!

Humor me?  I’m going totally random for just a few minutes.  For memories sake.

Since I last set foot in bloggy land, I broke my real foot.  Yeah, not kidding.  It was ouch!  I broke it falling off the toilet.  Mm-hmm!  All the nurses laughed too.  My foot is just now, six weeks later, feeling strong enough to walk on.  I have to do some mental rehab!  I keep limping, flat-footed, until I remember that my foot is healed — ish.

My husband and I got a few dates out of the deal!  I wasn’t allowed to drive, obviously, so Dee took me to all my medical appointments.  (“Date night” is all about your view of it, right?)  Dee, master prankster that he is, set the atomic fart phone app off every time a nurse walked by our curtain at the ER.

My garden went to pot.  The green beans and tomatoes were just coming when I broke my foot, but I was barely hobbling at that point.  No way could I harvest a garden!  The kids had fun picking what they wanted to eat, and everything else just rotted.  I had to trash whole packs of flowers too.  So sad!

My baby boy learned to crawl, stand, and take steps since I last recorded anything.  He is too BIG!  He’s also bad.  So, so bad!  I don’t remember any of my other kids laughing in my face when I flicked their fingers.  Zach seems to think that “No-No” is just a game Mommy loves to play!

When I first broke my foot, I felt like I’d ruined summer for the kids since I couldn’t drive them anywhere.  Looking back though, it seems like a magical summer of kids and sunshine and long, lazy days.  My boys discovered bow and arrow making, with branches, sticks, and rubber bands.  They spent hours and hours in the fields and woods.  “We’re going hunting,” they’d tell me, and made me promise a trip to the butcher shop with any kills they made.  The poor groundhogs, rabbits, and turkeys hid well this summer!  I have cemented in my head a picture, of Cory in full archer’s pose, aiming down a groundhog hole.  The boys baited the animal with elderberries stolen from Grammy’s berry patch, but that groundhog never showed his face.

My brave, strong boys made weed whackers and machetes too, and wandered all over tarnation chopping stuff up this summer.  I have to admit that I lost my cool and yelled at them the day they decided that pulling poison oak off of a tree and swinging on the vines would be fun!  Not fun for mama, who had to scrub them down from had to toe instead of napping.  But they didn’t know.

Cookouts, fireflies, swimming, reading, painting, jammie parties, zoo animals at the library, “Lord of the Rings” movie-watching marathons… lots of warm fuzzies!  There have also been crazy, insane messes.  (Maybe more messes than fuzzies?  It’s a toss-up.)  Days when I want to throw in the towel after a long night of wet beds, potty trips, and nursing sessions.  Days when I sit down and cry because it appears that the kids have forgotten once again to love each other and their poor, frazzled mother.  Days when words hurt, from my girl, “Me and Cory were talking about how it seems like we do all the work and you and Daddy do nothing!”  Right after I stay up until 12:00am washing dishes and starting laundry.  Just to do it all over again the next day.

Days like that can make me forget the beauty and delight of motherhood.

It comes rushing back in single moments.

Like when my scared-of-the-water child is the last one out of the pool.  It’s twilight, and the other kids have been obedient and started walking to the car with wet towels.  My one child though, has finally figured out the thrill of letting go!  He refuses to leave the water.  He’s all alone in the shallow end, and an enourmous grin lights up his face as he demands, “Watch me, Mom!”  His nose and chin and eyes dip into the water, and his feet kick up just a wee tiny bit.

It is so. totally. swimming!

My heart squeezes tight with fierce pride and love for that boy.

And later, my heart warms from words spoken by my mother-in-law.  “You know, I was thinking about how perfect it is that YOU are Cameron’s mother.  Anybody else would have killed him by now!  God knew you’re the only mother that could handle him.”

Thank you, God, for grace.  For endless wisdom.  For Your beauty and majesty that automatically transfers to us because of Jesus.

Waiting busily! (Is that an oxymoron?)


No baby yet!  But I do have permission, from Dee’s boss, to go into labor any time now.  Dee had a big commercial job to unload today, with multiple truckloads of roofing material arriving every 45 minutes.  He’s the only driver that could do it from our branch, so his boss really wanted him to be available today!

Now that job is done, and I can tell it’s a load off of Dee’s mind.  He kept calling me today, after he was done, asking, “Sooo… How are you feeling?”  I’m thinking, “No, Dear, I have NOT gone into labor yet!”  But I was just polite and said, “I’m fine.”  Because I am.  No contractions, nothing.  Which is fine, because I haven’t even reached my due date yet!  I’m happy to have Baby stay in until he’s strong and healthy and ready to face the world.

Dee’s been super sweet recently, helping me get stuff done before Baby comes.  Monday night he put new cabinets in our bedroom closet, which now looks amazing!  I’ve been throwing stuff out like CRAZY!  All over the house.  This afternoon I finally dropped off the whole Suburban load of junk things at a thrift store.  It felt good to get everything not just out of the house, but off the property!  The nice people at the thrift store were very grateful.  I don’t know if it was genuine.

(Side note:  You know how little boys usually want to be like their Daddy when they grow up?  It’s hilarious in our family.  EVERY. single. time we pass a dumpster, all the kids shout, “Mommy!  Mommy!  A dumpster!  Can we dive into it like Daddy?  PLEEEASE?!!”  I mean, who dreams of dumpster-diving?  Maybe I should say “yes” one of these days.  At least we’d get free food from the Taco Bell dumpster!   Annnyyyyhoo….  At the thrift store today, Cboy decided he WAS going dumpster-diving, and proceeded to bloody his toe all up trying to jump from the hood of the Suburban into the thrift store dumpster.  Dangerous work, I tell you!)

Dee’s also been letting me get out to shop and run last-minute, before-Baby errands.  He had the day off work on Monday, and instead of working on his projects, he sent me and Anna shopping while he watched the kids.  AND did school with Kbug and Cboy!  While watching a two-year-old and a three-year-old!  I was properly impressed and appreciative.  And, I was properly appreciated when I returned home Monday afternoon.  I asked how school went, and Dee said, “Good… But next year, they’re going to PUBLIC school!!!”  Oh yeah.  I’m thinking he’ll be bringing home lots of compliments and Starbucks home to me this school year!

Tuesday evening we hung out with friends, and tonight we took the kids swimming.  It’s been nice to take a break from projects, and just kick back with our kids.  This morning, my three youngest kids piled in bed with me for half an hour, and I soaked up every precious minute!  I can’t wait until they have a baby brother or sister to come and cuddle with in the mornings.  This little baby is entering the world with a ready-made fan club!

So come on, little one, we’re all anxious to meet you!

Blessings heaped high


Okay, so I’m a little spoiled right now.  Again.  Maybe a lot spoiled!  My brother Andrew left on Monday, after three weeks of working like a HORSE on our basement.  BUT, my sister Anna is here in his place!  For up to six weeks!  Wahoo!  See?  Spoiled.  I feel kinda bad.  I don’t want her to come just because I have crazy nesting instincts!  But even if we just visit for the next couple of weeks until Baby’s born, that’s fine with me!  I’ll really miss Anna once she gets married.  Hey, that’s an idea… secretly scare away any prospective suitors…

(Um, Anna?  Don’t read this post.)

Maybe “blessed” is a better word.  I am extremely blessed!  I’m surrounded by love and grace, and I’m trying to notice.

My mom washed my windows and helped me clean and organize my new basement kitchen while she was here over the weekend.

Anna and Andrew scrubbed out my fridge from top to bottom.  And speaking of Andrew again, there is NO WAY we’d be ready for carpet TODAY if he hadn’t come down to help Dee for three weeks!

That’s right, my carpet is coming today!  I’m so excited, I have to laugh at myself.  I’ve never had carpet before.  The rest of my house is hardwood floors or ceramic tile, and I can’t wait to sink my bare feet into the shaggy rug me and Dee picked out!  If I wasn’t pregnant, I’d probably roll around and do somersaults, just to feel the softness.  I’ll just watch the kids do it for me, I guess!  Hurry up, carpet people, I’m sitting on pins and needles waiting for you!

And the biggest blessing?  My Cboy prayed with Anna last night, and asked Jesus into his heart.  There really is no greater joy as a parent than to know that your child has decided to follow Jesus!  Anna said they talked about God and heaven for a long time as she was tucking him in bed, and Cboy started out his prayer with, “God, can You take me to heaven with you?”  What a joy it will be to see him there!

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law made me a whole batch of pizza sauce yesterday.

My friend Heather invited us over for a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast this morning.

My grass is green again, because we’ve been blessed with rain again.  Lots and lots of beautiful rain!

The air is cooler, and my favorite time of year is creeping around the corner.  I wish we could live in September and October all year long!

My kids love me, and it’s hard to forget when all four of them pile on top of me and my big belly on the couch, and cover me and Baby with hugs and kisses.

When CJ strokes my arm and says, “You’re so beautiful!”  (Yes, this from my almost-four-year-old!)

When Moosies throws her arms around my neck and asks for another song, more rocking.

When the kids ask me to come watch their tricks on the trampoline (PLEASE don’t tell our insurance company!), or spread out a blanket and watch for shooting stars after the sun sets.  (Yes, Dad, I know it’s technically an “earth-turn.”)

Or when they bring me handfuls of weeds and wildflowers, maybe prettier than the flowers I plant by hand and then cry about when they die.

Most of the dirt is still there.  It won’t ever go away, will it?  Dee’s always saying he can’t wait until life slows down so he can relax more.  I always tell him, “Life will never slow down.  It’s how we deal with the busy moments, and the stress, and can we pull away and pause awhile?”  It’s a good thing my man tells me the same thing in his own words when I lose sight of peace and rest.

Me, the Barnyard


I have a new nickname.  It’s “Barnyard.”  Flattering, yes?  Dee and I were being silly after watching “Unknown” last night.  All the movie-watching options popped up, and I wanted to know why we couldn’t just say “deaf” instead of “hearing impaired.”  Dee says, “Well, we have to be politically correct.  Like, you’re not just pregnant, you’re an animal hauler.”  It was late (but I finally stayed away for a whole movie!), and this totally cracked me up.  I said, “Don’t you truckers call those animal trailers on the highway ‘farmyards?'”  I’m still learning my trucker lingo.   It’s actually “barnyard,” Dee corrected.  And there you have it.  Me, the animal-hauling “Barnyard.”

(As long as the kids don’t pick this nickname up…  I can just see us walking through Sam’s Club:  “Look, Mom!  There’s a barnyard!”  And then dirty looks from some poor pregnant lady.)

(Oh, and why do we call our kids animals?  Not sure.  Dee started it.  It has something to do with their wild, crazy ways.  But my animals sure are cuter than the lions and tigers at the zoo!)

So, my animal baby is growing just fine.  I saw Rosie on Thursday, and she said I’m measuring right on target for 36 weeks.  I’m not dilated at all, but I told her I’d be really surprised if I was!  I haven’t been having any contractions.  Baby is taking his sweet time, getting nice and fat in my tummy.

My blood pressure was acceptable: 90/59.  My new trick is to drink a whole liter of water on the way to my midwife appointment!  So I might be cheating, and my blood pressure might plummet once I leave the office, but at least my midwife is happy.  It’s not fun when your midwife yells at you.  In her nice, professional way of course.

I go see Rosie again next Thursday, and then every Thursday after that until this baby decides to come!  I can’t believe I’m already to the “see-my-midwife-every-week” stage.  Did I mention that I have a loooooong nesting list still?  And I have no baby clothes out?  Yeah, all the boxes are still in the attic.  Gotta love being Baby #5!  And I haven’t packed my suitcase for the hospital, or set up the cradle and made sure the sheets are clean.  We haven’t even finished reading through the “Name Your Baby” book!  I would say I should get busy, but it’s already super crazy with freezing/canning season underway.  Dee keeps telling me it’s okay, and that everything that needs to get done will get done.  And the stuff that doesn’t get done?  That’s okay too.  Because the baby will never know if my kitchen cabinets didn’t get scrubbed down.  Or if the windows on my 2nd floor still haven’t been washed in all the years we’ve lived here!  (Isn’t that horrible?!)  And you know what?  Dee’s right.  It’s nice to have a smart husband!  None of my issues are emergencies, and I would love to be able to relax and enjoy my already-born children as much as possible in these last few weeks of summer.

To the beach it is!

Of camping and collarbones


My dirty laundry pile from camping is just about gone.  Kind of sad!  I sniff all the clothes before I throw them in the wash, just to catch a last whiff of Indian Hollow.  Campfires, sunshine, water, sweat (I don’t miss that), bare feet, doughboys, glow sticks, flashlight tag, mosquitos (don’t miss them either), kids running wild, family, friends… I can’t wait until next year!

Dee totally surprised me by announcing that he’s planning on camping at Indian Hollow again.  My husband is not a camping man!  Of course Indian Hollow is special, but I thought maybe that was only because it’s my old stomping grounds.  My parents started camping there 31 years ago, when Mom was pregnant with me.  And every year since that long ago 1980, my family has spent a week every summer at Indian Hollow.  My childhood memory bank is full of Indian Hollow, but I wasn’t sure my husband and own children would fall in love quite as deeply with a campground as I did.  But no worries!  They’re in love too, falling quite nicely I’d say.  I’m super excited to be starting a whole new generation of Indian Hollow camping.

Maybe next year we can squeak by with no accidents though?  Moosies fell off a picnic table bench and broke her collarbone while we were there.  That was last Thursday afternoon, while we were celebrating my brother Andrew’s birthday.  We all felt SO bad for her!  Dee and I took her to the local ER, where an X-ray showed she had an “acute left clavicle fracture.”  We decided to stick out the rest of the week though, and Moosies did exceptionally well.  We kept her drugged up on Tylenol and Advil, and except for one night, she did extremely well sleeping!  Even naps, on the ground! And she played the days away like nothing ever happened.  Like she hadn’t just broken a bone.  Somebody suggested we mark an “X” on her neck so that WE would remember she was hurt.

Even now, just a week later, I have to yell at Moosies to stop running, and jumping, and climbing.  Will she just sit still and watch a movie?  No.  In some ways she’s an ideal patient, and then on the other hand she’s just awful!   I can’t make her be still!  But I’d rather have a cheerful, high-pain-tolerant child than a moaner and complainer.  Today she begged and begged to jump on the trampoline, so I let her climb up with Andrew, and told her to jump just a tiny bit, and be careful.  Andrew also told her to be careful, and jump close to him, and she said, “NO Andrew!  You go over there!”  See?  Bad patient.

Yep, we dragged Andrew home with us from Massachusetts!  No, actually, he volunteered.  (He’s so nice!)  Just to help out with the kids, canning/freezing season, and finishing off the basement with Dee.  Andrew’s been super busy painting, shucking/cleaning/cooking corn to freeze, taking the kids for walks, feeding them lunch, taking them swimming, bouncing them on the trampoline, telling them stories, helping with the dishes, unpacking, letting me nap, and babysitting the kids so I can run errands.  He even folds laundry and helps the kids put it away.  Isn’t he AWESOME?!


And… I’m back.  It’s 1:00am.  I would have posted this a while ago, but Moosies woke up coughing and threw up all over her bed, herself, and me.  So now we’ve both showered, clean sheets are on the bed, Vicks and cough syrup administered, several drinks and tucking-ins also, the grapes/cucumber/cheese chunky vomit washed down the sinks, sinks scrubbed, laundry started, Kbug tucked in next to me on the couch since she woke up with a bad dream… and I think I’ll just leave the unfinished vacuuming and dirty dishes in the sink.  After all, it is 1:00am.