Monday, August 13, 2018


July 5, 2018
Starting point: Defiance, Ohio
Destination: Tomah, Wisconsin
Song of the Day: "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" by the Muppets

We listened to our song of the day as we pulled out of the driveway at Grandma's house. This day was to be my biggest adventure; my first overnight solo travel with many children. Day 5 was all about the driving. We needed to cover the miles to bridge the gap between us and Daddy. The Big Trip Out West proper wouldn't really begin until we reunited with our family at the close of the Higher Things conference.

My navigator in this adventure was my 2nd oldest son, the 12-year-old. He was in charge of maps and GPS. He was the supplier of toll money. He handed me food and drink. And, most importantly, he was in charge of the tunage.

He also kept me amused. We have an essential oil diffuser clipped to a vent on the dashboard to help the carsick-prone folks not vomit. At one point, my son looks at it and asks, "Can we put Hoppe's #9 in this thing?" Can you guess I live in a house of hunters?

The navigator also had to take some pictures.

You can see we drove through Chicago. We also enjoyed cool rock formations in Wisconsin. 

When we arrived at Cranberry Country Lodge in Tomah, the kids couldn't wait to play in the swimming pool area (it had slides!). However, it was too close to suppertime, and we would be eating out. Denny's was across the street, and somehow I made it through a sit-down dinner at a restaurant with little ones who had mostly been confined to carseats all day. 

When we returned to the hotel, we changed clothes and headed to the pool. Folks, it was not fun to take several non-swimming children to a pool without Daddy. It doesn't help that without glasses I can't see very far to supervise the children who can swim (though not super-strongly). Yet I managed. It might not have been pretty, but I survived. I'm thankful I had a couple of bigger kids to help.

We settled in for the night with some over-tired children who missed Daddy and home. During the chaos of getting ready for bed, however, I called to reassure my mother that we made it to our destination safely and learned that Uncle Jim had died that morning. In all the excitement surrounding bedtime, I decided to wait to tell the children until we were with Daddy again. 

To be honest, at the end of the day and when all the children were finally asleep, I was proud of myself for managing, but I was terribly sad.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

TBTOW- Days 2-4

I'm afraid this will be a boring post because I don't have any pictures (at least none without my children) of the time spent at Grandma's house. That doesn't mean we didn't have fun.

Day 2- Sadly, we parted ways with part of our family. My husband, son, youngest brother-in-law, and oldest sister-in-law headed off to Northfield, Minnesota, for the Higher Things conference. Left at Grandma's house, the rest of us decided we needed to party for an uncle's 20th birthday.

Early in the day, Grandpa took the two youngest to the farm store (and I tagged along to buy dog food for Calvin since he'd be staying at their house while we were off gallivanting). The two oldest went with the birthday boy to Walmart.

Evening brought on the party with many of Uncle J.'s friends attending. There were hot dogs over a fire, Kool-Aid, Jell-O cake, and all sorts of other treats. Lots of fun.

Less fun was talking to my mother and hearing that my Uncle Jim (at home on hospice due to pancreatic cancer) was in pain and not eating.

More fun was that at bedtime, Daddy was able to face-time with us. The kids missed him, but they liked the fishy-faces he made.

Day 3- Tuesday was another fun-filled day at Grandma's. The older kids went to the dairy where several uncles work/have worked. My daughter was so excited to see a cow in labor with the calf partially out. She said, "It was both the coolest and grossest thing ever!" In the evening, the girls returned and saw the new calf.

Cousins (and their parents) arrived from Tennessee, and lots of playing commenced. It was another late night.

News from the Higher Things conference trickled in. My dear eldest took full advantage of the cafeteria's offerings and ate cake before his supper AND drank lots of Dr. Pepper. Gee, I thought I taught him about the importance of nutrition. There was also a petting zoo with snakes.

Day 4- Day 4 coincided with the 4th of July. Our day at Grandma's saw the older kids playing cool made-up games with older uncles. All kids enjoyed 101 Dalmations movie in the afternoon. The evening was all about the 4th of July with lots of family over for lots of good food (smoked meat! Aunt Kimmy cupcakes! homemade ice cream!) and fireworks. My littlest was scared of the fireworks, so I missed about half of them.

Unfortunately, the Higher Things crew missed fireworks due to weather. Other less than fun things for me: washing clothes and re-packing. Also, more sad news about Uncle Jim; he continued to go downhill.

Thus ended our stay at Grandma's house; you might say it went out with a bang!

(Day 5's post will have pictures.)

Friday, August 10, 2018

"The Big Trip Out West" Begins

For months we prepared for what became known as "The Big Trip Out West." Even the littlest referred to it always as "The Big Trip Out West." However, "The Big Trip Out West" is a long thing to type over and over, so from here on out, it will be abbreviated as TBTOW.

Anyway, TBTOW was to accomplish three things: 1) visit family, 2) see beautiful sights, and 3) include a Higher Things conference for my oldest son and my husband. We thoroughly accomplished each goal.

The trip began after church on July 1st. We'd packed everything the day before, so after church we ate lunch, cleaned up, and left. Our destination for Day 1 was Ohio. Grandma's house. Truly a worthy destination. The kids were so excited; in fact, this was the spot many of them were looking forward to most.

Once we were on the road and said a prayer for safe and fun travel, we listened to the (pre-selected by me) song of the day: "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson-- always a fun song for a road trip.

Stops along the way were for gas, food (at Walmart), and Cabela's in Wheeling, West Virginia. Energy was high even as the sun went down because we were getting ever closer to Grandma's house.* It was just before midnight when we arrived to a warm welcome. We carried in some luggage, figured out sleeping arrangements, and went to bed.

Day One safely ended.

*You should know that Grandpa lives here, too, and really the children don't prefer Grandma over Grandpa (or vice versa), but for whatever reason, the children call it "Grandma's house."

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Thanks, Johnny Cash

Even if you can't tell by my blog, I'm still alive. We took a long vacation in July. I want to chronicle it here, but I'm still processing it and we haven't even loaded onto the computer all of the pictures from the four cameras. 

We had a song for each of our traveling days. The one that sums up our trip best is probably the one by Johnny Cash*: 

I've Been Everywhere

I was totin' my pack along the dusty Winnemucca road,
When along came a semi with a high and canvas-covered load.
"If you're goin' to Winnemucca, Mack, with me you can ride."
And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside.
He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand.
And I said, "Listen, I've traveled every road in this here land!"

I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've a-had my share, man.
I've been everywhere.

I've been to
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota,
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota,
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma,
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma,
Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo,
Tocopilla, Barranquilla, and Padilla, I'm a killer.

I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've a-had my share, man.

I've been everywhere.

I've been to
Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana,
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana,
Monterey, Faraday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa,
Glen Rock**, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa,
Tennessee to Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake,
Grand Lake, Devil's Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete's sake.

I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've a-had my share, man.
I've been everywhere.

I've been to
Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika,
Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica,
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport,
Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport,
Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina,
Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean-a.

I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've a-had my share, man.
I've been everywhere.

I've been to
Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado,
Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado,
Larimore, Admore, Haverstraw, Chatanika,
Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika,
Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City,
Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity.

I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've a-had my share, man.
I've been everywhere.

I've been everywhere.***

The highlighted places are the places I know we were in July-- to the best of my memory. We especially enjoyed singing the chorus together as we neared our house at the end of the journey. In the upcoming weeks, I hope to share some of our adventures with you. 

*Although we listened to the Johnny Cash version on our iPod, I learned this morning while searching for the lyrics that Hank Snow originally sang this version. BUT this song has a more universal appeal; you should do a quick internet search about it if you're into that sort of thing.

**Glen Rock: I just learned there are many Glen Rock/Glenrock places in the U. S. The one we went through was Glenrock, Wyoming.

***It occurs to me this song might make a fun homeschool geography unit. Hmmm....

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sweet Things in May

May is such a sweet month with all the flowers and birds and sunshine (or rain, if you're us). We also had some notable desserts in May.

First up was the Mother's Day delightful banana pudding. My son checked out a Good Eats cookbook (by Alton Brown) at the library. I told both him and his brother that they could pick out something to make from it. The eldest wanted to make banana pudding (the hot kind) for Mother's Day. This dish even had homemade vanilla wafers made with homemade vanilla sugar. It was yummy with a mountain of meringue.

My son's first (and perfect) meringue 

Other than the tornado warning, it was a delightful Mother's Day!

And what could be sweeter than a daughter's birthday? I suppose it was a daughter helping make her birthday cake. My oldest daughter wanted a sand castle birthday cake. She wanted it to have graham cracker crumb sand. The idea for this came from a Food Network show (Kids Baking Championship, I think). 

So we made a sand castle cake. This was an easy peasy one.

Sea stars

I made these stars by putting a little sugar on the counter and using a rolling pin to flatten some gummy candies. Then I cut out a star shape with a knife. It wasn't hard at all.

We used two circle cakes on top of a sheet cake. The sheet cake was frosted blue, and the layer cake was frosted in white. We then covered the blue with paper towels and went crazy with making a graham cracker crumb mess. I carefully removed the paper towels covered in crumbs, and the blue frosting was still sans crumbs.

Real seashells and making "waves"

Stars from the top

The flag was just a paper glued to a paper straw I had on hand
The birthday girl was very happy with her self-designed cake, and I was very happy to have had lots of help. Plus, it was an easy cake that needed no special equipment at all.

Coming soon: The June birthday cake (Don't miss this one! It has a tragic story.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Kids These Days

Last year we bought a digital camera at a flea market for $5. It was to be for the kids to take pictures, and take pictures they do!

Some pictures need explanation. Some do not, but I'll explain them anyway.

This is the curb outside the local elementary school. In the top of the picture you can see some feet. Some of those feet belong to some of my children who won the American Legion Auxiliary's Americanism essay contest. We were invited to the school for the presentation of the awards. I called it a field trip because the kids were able to see what a school is like.

I guess this next one is somebody's head or the ceiling.

A bird in the gravel outside our back door (before the patio was poured). Can you see it?

A Thanksgiving turkey that still hangs on our bedroom door.

Maybe they took this one because they want to travel here or maybe because a certain state has a capital with a similar name to a certain daughter? I just don't know.

I'm fairly certain this picture was taken to show the whole world how I let my clean laundry sit in baskets to get nice and wrinkly.

This picture was supposed to be irises ready to bloom, but the bricks are in focus instead.

The overwhelming majority of kid pictures are Lego creations. This one is/was (not sure if it still exists) a creative model of a city, complete with airplay runway and all sorts of cool details.

And this last picture was taken by my daughter. It is showcased at her new blog, A Nature Girl's World. If you want an explanation of this picture, you should click on over and read about it.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Five on Friday

1. First Egg. We didn't think we'd get any eggs this year since April 15 came and went (that's been when the guineas started laying in years past). But on Tuesday my son found the first egg.

First guinea egg 2018

Since then we've only found 3 eggs, so I still think the hens are slowing down. I still love watching those crazy birds making their rounds about the yard.

2.  Boys' Room.  I asked the boys if I could show pictures of their new bedroom in the addition. They agreed.

Calvin made it in this shot, too.

The green walls and brown carpet make me think of mint-chocolate chip ice cream every time I walk into their room. The room is quite cozy.

3.  Walk Across Maryland.  I've been spending some time this last week organizing an event for homeschoolers to walk across Maryland in Hancock where the distance is only 1.8 miles. If you happen to be a local homeschooler and are interested in taking part, send me a note.

4.  May Listing Challenge.  My oldest son challenged me to list one new item on Etsy for each day of the month of May. Since I am busy with other crafting/mending projects, it looks like all new items will be either craft supply or vintage. So far this month, I've met the challenge.

My favorite I've listed so far this month is this vintage postcard.

Saucy little postcard!

5. More Construction.  I know I posted just on Sunday about the completion of the project, but look what showed up in our backyard this week.

Yesterday the masons showed up to prepare the site for a new concrete pad for the back patio. This morning the concrete truck came and delivered. The masons are now waiting for it to set up to put on the finishing touches. I'm not sure how the rain clouds coming in will help.

Have a lovely weekend.