Thursday, June 30, 2011

Flashback Friday

I wanted to share this again.

Counting the Cost

It’s a beautiful place with steep hills, valleys, waterfalls and hiking trails nestled on the banks of the Ohio River.  We took our first family camping trip there when Mary was barely walking, and have returned to celebrate our fifth and tenth wedding anniversaries.  We love Clifty Falls State Park.

clifty falls waterfall

We took time for a visit just a few weeks ago to celebrate our tenth.  Since we rarely get away for an evening without the kiddos, we lived it up and stayed at the very nice state park inn.  It’s beautiful!  The inn is set on the top of the ridge, overlooking the Ohio River and the cute little town of Madison, Indiana.  Looking from the ridge to the east, the view is simply gorgeous. 

Looking to the west, it’s another story altogether.  This doesn’t diminish our love of the inn or the park, it’s just a reality that most of us don’t see every day.  To the west of this God created beauty, sit three very large towers of a coal powered electric plant.  A reality that we can pretend away, if it isn’t located near our home or a place we love.

On every previous visit to Clifty Falls, I have found the contrast between the beauty of nature and the reality of electricity production to be unsettling but easily dismissed as the power plant is not visible from most of the places we enjoy in the park.  On this visit, the many signs that lined the highways protesting a planned biomass incinerator kept me pondering the placement of the power plant near my beloved state park.

My first reaction is indignation.  Why!  Who would be so dumb as to put that ugly thing near one of my favorite nature spots.  The inn was built in the 1920’s, so I’m pretty sure it pre-dates the power plant.  Surely there were folks who protested!  Perhaps they had signs in their yards, begging that the monstrosity be placed elsewhere. 

Further thought on the subject makes me question my first assumption.  You know, life before electricity was very different.  Perhaps folks were not so opposed to having the plant there if it meant they could have a radio, a few light bulbs and a refrigerator.  Somehow, I am not so angry at the folks who let the plant be built when I consider the pull of rural electric and the improvements it meant for their lives.  Maybe I shouldn’t judge their decision so harshly.  (By the way, I have no idea when the plant was built or under what circumstances.  Stay with me folks, and I’ll attempt to share my line of thinking.)

So these thoughts nagged at me until we were driving home.  Again, I saw sign after sign protesting the planned biomass incinerator.  Then, it struck me with force.  Regardless of their reasons for not wanting the biomass incinerator in their neighborhood (who could blame them), protesting the placement will make little or no difference in the long run.  The demand is high and the electricity must come from somewhere.  Someone is going to have a biomass incinerator or a coal fired electric plant or a nuclear reactor or a bunch of wind turbines in their back yard.  Plain and simple.

What makes me angry isn’t the fact that folks don’t want those things, but the fact that so many of us take the electricity for granted.  We see our bill, but never see the true cost.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Turn on the switch, crank up the air conditioning.  Leave that TV on all night long.  Who cares!?!  It won’t make that much difference on the bill.

Thing is, it does make a difference.  Our usage and our wasting of electricity means that there will be more power plants.  Whether they end up in your back yard or next to your favorite state park, more plants will be built to keep up with demand.  All the yard signs in the world won’t change that.

How selfish I am.  I was so angry that someone was so thoughtless as to put a power plant next to my favorite place to camp.  Now I realize that I am as much to blame as anyone.  Dang.  It’s so much easier being mad at some unknown, pompous, rich old man.  Turn off the LIGHTS, people! 

So that leads me to even further thinking.  How many other things do we take for granted?  How many other things do we purchase for the sale price without ever seeing the real price that goes into producing the item?  Who made that cheap shirt I bought the other day?  Who produced the cotton?  What were the conditions they worked under?  Who took care of their kids while they made my shirt?  Was my shirt made by a child?  Yikes.

So, here I am, encouraging you to put a little extra thought into what you consume, be it electricity, food, clothing or anything else.  I can’t go without electricity, but I can use less and help my neighbor’s cause.  I need clothes, but I can make do with what I have a little longer or pick things up at yard sales out of respect for the true cost that went into making those items.  I can shop for food at local farm stands and seek to purchase meat from folks who give their animals a decent life (or I can grow my own cheeseburgers ;)).  I can’t change overnight, but I can take steps towards consuming with the real cost in mind. 

Turn out the light, y’all!

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful for…

A camper set up in the front yard.

Kids playing in it, oh so happily!


Slip’n’slide fun.



Count your blessings…

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adventures in Homeschooling

This is the time of year when I ask myself why I chose to home school my children. It’s the middle of summer. It’s time for swimming, hiking, attending the fair, and playing in the yard. And here I am, sitting at my desk ordering our supplies for next year’s schooling. Although I love teaching and cherish being able to give this gift to my children, I must admit that I’m a bit worn out. I don’t really want to jump back in yet.

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I love the freedom of summer. I love watching the kids experience the world by catching fireflies, chasing grasshoppers, and admiring butterflies. I cherish the time we spend reading, just for fun, while we sit on the porch swing eating popsicles. I’m so glad the kids get to go camping, hiking, and maybe even fishing. Nothing in the world beats watching them play on the tire swing under the great big tree in their grandma’s front yard. Summer is a time for getting dirty, staying up a bit late, eating good food, and visiting family and friends.

Is it any wonder that I wouldn’t want this to end?

When people ask why we home-school, I can’t give an easy answer. Obviously, we want to do our best for our children. For us, home-schooling provided some very compelling benefits. Though the choice was not easy, it was clear that we were ready, willing, and able to shoulder the responsibility of educating our own children. We knew that we could provide a rich and inspiring learning environment. Our children were already thriving here at home.  We felt certain that we were doing what was best for our family.

And so, we jumped in.


It was strange, new territory at first. I was nervous about schooling my little girl and keeping up with her three younger siblings. I worried about what other people would think about our decision. Eventually, all the questions were answered and our family fell into a happy routine that year. We survived our first year and began to prepare for our second year and our second student.

It was in this second year that I began to love homeschooling our children. With the kids a bit older and a year of learning already accomplished, we jumped into that second year joyfully. Of course, there was the regular seat-work kind of learning, handwriting, math practice sheets, and the like. But, there was something more. We found such delight in exploring the world that year! We went to our local park, where the many of the trees have identifying signs. We spent the morning exploring those trees. We drew pictures of them, traced their leaves, looked for bugs and animals that might be using them for a home, found their seeds, and felt their bark. We even ate their fruit when we found a tree with ripe persimmons.


I knew then, that there was something more beautiful about homeschooling than I had realized. So, we took every opportunity presented to us to continue this kind of learning. We dissected the shell-less egg our chickens laid and then researched it on the computer. We went for a hike at a state park. We explored nature centers, the zoo, Old Settler’s Days, and our own garden and back yard. We decided to learn about our bones, so we felt our bones and painted a picture to show where they were, then we did a little research and labeled them. One night, we just sat around the livingroom, listening to the stories of great-grandpa Tuck. The learning has been rich, rewarding, and beautiful.

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And so, with summer coming to an end, I won’t be too sad. There’s a freedom that will be gone, no doubt. But, there is another kind of freedom that comes with homeschooling. I know that we’ll be learning together, exploring the world around us, reading great books, doing math games in the car, and going on learning adventures. With the chore of ordering supplies completed, I might just be getting a bit excited about beginning a new year of learning with my little ones!

Dem Bones 008

To the other homeschoolers out there… Are you getting excited, too?
I’d like to offer a way to share your experiences this year. Would you be interested in a Saturday Link-up to highlight the best part of your home-school week? We did it once last year, a Saturday School Show and Tell. It was so inspiring to see how other homeschoolers are learning. Keep your eyes open this fall… We’ll start sharing in late August/Early September. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Egg-cellent Idea

Remember those really cool building blocks in kindergarten? You know… The great big cardboard blocks that look like bricks… I loved those. I really did.

And then, while looking through my Aunt Paula’s old photo albums on a recent visit, I saw the best building block idea!

Egg cartons.

And it just happened, my mom had been saving egg cartons for me to keep our fresh eggs in when we give them away. I had a stack about 2 feet tall!

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The kids were a bit skeptical about my idea for “big fun.” Um, mom… These are egg cartons…

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And then, I showed them this.

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And the fun began.

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A great pyramid.

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A doll bed.

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A tower.
Also, serious motor skill development for my two year old…

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Cooperative play, brothers are the best friends!

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Some realistic play. A fully stocked kid-fridge!

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Demolition time was fun, with this amazing wrecking ball!

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Have fun…. Every day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Most Romantic Weekend…

purple flowers

A beautiful weekend get-away to a scenic state park, camping, hiking, fixing steak on a charcoal grill for a candle-lit picnic… That’s what I had in mind for our anniversary weekend. Getting away is awfully nice. Finishing sentences, relaxing, and enjoying time together is something we rarely get to do. So when our sitter couldn’t make it and the forecast called for rain, I was disappointed. I really wanted that romantic weekend.

Instead, we spent our anniversary at the kids’ Vacation Bible School Closing Program. I can’t say I was excited to give up spending the evening with my honey for this, but the entertainment was pretty good (wouldn’t have missed seeing the kids on stage) and the refreshments after the program were delightful. Then on the way home, the sun set through the clouds in a way that left sunlight streaming across the sky and the fields. My handsome honey took us all on a bit of a country ramble on the back-roads so that I could enjoy the sunset a little longer. Wish I had a picture of the sunlight streaming through the clouds behind that old grain silo… But there is a picture in my mind that I hope I’ll always remember.

We spent the rest of the weekend catching up around home and enjoying summer.  Eric was able to fix my washing machine, amazing the damage one little finish nail left in a pocket can do… My pocket, by the way! We went to the town square to listen to a great bluegrass band.We enjoyed an evening bonfire, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows.

Then, when I woke this morning with allergies so severe I could hardly breathe, Eric sent me on my way to the doctor instead of taking the kids hiking as we were hoping to do. I’ve struggled for months, as the severe flooding in our area has caused mold and mildew levels to be extremely high. One dark, dank room in our basement has been hit hard by the moisture and the mildew levels, too. In fact, cleaning that room is what triggered this last round of trouble.

And so, Eric spent this afternoon ripping the carpet from that musty room. For me. He gave up the things he had hoped for to do something important for me.

The weekend wasn’t what I wanted. He didn’t give me flowers or jewelry (probably a good thing since I’m not a roses or jewelry kind of gal). We didn’t get to have a romantic meal. We didn’t get away on our own for even an hour. I suppose I could be really bitter right now if I wanted.

But I look back and I see romance everywhere. He loves me. He takes me on silly sunlight chasing adventures. He loves me. He fixed my washer without a single cross word. He loves me. He braved the rain showers and the traffic to take all of us to a great local concert. He loves me. He cared for me when I was sick. He loves me. He ripped carpet from the room that has caused my severe allergies. There is no doubt, he loves me.

I’m still hoping to get some time away, just me and my handsome husband. It will be so nice when we do.

But for now, I know that romance doesn’t always include candlelight and fancy meals. Sometimes, romance is spending time roasting marshmallows with the man you love. I am thankful to be loved in such simple and amazing ways.

Thanks honey, for all that you do. Thanks for caring for me. Thanks for fixing my mistakes happily, cleaning up my messes, and hugging me when I’m down. And thanks for ripping up perfectly lovely but mildew filled carpet just to make me feel better. I love you, honey. It was a truly memorable and lovely weekend. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Eleven Years Ago


Eleven years ago, I married the most wonderful man in the world.

Eric and Tima

And eleven years later, I love him more than words can say.

Thanks, Eric, for being the one.

And thanks to everyone else, for all the love and encouragement shared through the years.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taking Time

take time

I sat in the porch swing the other day, relaxing while the kids played in the yard. It was nice. Until I saw that weed in the flower bed. It was just close enough to reach, so I pulled it. And then, I pulled the one next to it. Before I knew it, I was down on my hands and knees pulling every weed in sight. So much for taking time for a break.

And now, I’m disturbed by what happened. It’s like a conviction to me. It screams, “You don’t know how to relax!” And it’s true. When I do sit down, I’m usually editing pictures, typing up a new blog entry, or sewing something. I’m never still.

I think that I’ve forgotten how to relax.

Or perhaps, I’m just on the verge of learning how…

Back in college I’d think to myself, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead, so I better push on and get one more thing done.” I pushed so hard that I got sick. I couldn’t eat without feeling miserable. My fingernails stopped growing.

I was so glad to quit my full-time job to student teach. For the first time in over four years, I was able to go home and eat supper. I had weekends free to visit, relax, or clean the house. My fingernails became visibly stronger, with a ridge that marked the end of my time working a full time schedule and going to school full time. I was amazed. I didn’t realize just how much I needed to slow down or the toll my crazy-hectic lifestyle was taking on my health. I decided that I didn’t ever want to be so busy again.

And try as I might, that crazy-hectic life keeps creeping back in. It returned a bit when I was teaching my first class. It slowed briefly after Mary was born, but was quick to return. There are projects to do, church events to attend, countless birthday parties, a garden to keep, kids to teach, supper to make, and weeds to pull. And just as you get caught up, someone gets sick. It’s life.

So where do you draw the line?

What gets done and what gets left out?

I sat on a blanket under a tree today while Sam played. My older kids were attending Vacation Bible School at our church. Normally I’d be in there teaching a class or helping in some way, but I’ve sat out for a few years now. A girl can only do so much.

I’ve struggled all week with my guilt over not “doing my part.” It just feels wrong. I keep thinking that I should be able to just pull myself together and push myself to do what should be done. If I were a better woman…

And then my mom called last night. She wanted to help me get a strawberry patch set up for next year. It’s something I want to pursue. It’s a great idea. But I’m not ready to jump in to that right now.

The summer is just beginning, but it seems to be passing all too quickly. It will soon be time for the kids to start school again. And life is that way, too. Seems that the kids were born just a short time ago, and suddenly I look at my oldest and see a half grown little lady. Life is going too fast.

This is a busy season. Summer… Raising my little ones… It’s all going by too fast.

And I find myself in that old hectic schedule, missing all the good stuff. Missing the things that make life worth living. And I know I have a choice to make.

Is it more important to do one more thing, or should I sit in the porch swing and watch my babies play?

Maybe that paint in the hallway isn’t in as bad shape as I thought. Maybe they can get by without me at VBS this year. Perhaps the strawberries I put off last year will finally get planted in a year or two.

But for now, I’ll go camping with the kids. I’ll sit under a tree and listen to my two year old talk about the puppy dog that is running through the grass.  I’ll take time to make cookies with my girls, and then go visit their great-grandpa. I’ll help my boy find his missing bicycle. I’ll sit on the porch with my handsome honey and a glass of wine listening to the frogs sing and looking at the stars.

And if you come over to visit, try not to see the scrapes in the hallway paint or the messes on the floor. I’m too busy taking time…

 taking time 013

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Little Cowboy Turns Six

Have you ever seen such a cute little cowboy?

cowboy dan

He had the best birthday party ever.

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It was a great cowboy cookout, In The BARN! Do you understand the excitement that comes from partying in the barn?!

cake table

His momma kind of enjoyed this year’s theme, too! I love decorating with red, white and blue, lots of bandannas, and straw bales. My kind of party…

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The meandering path got some use by our little cowboys and cowgirls.

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And Sarah did a little fashion design with the left over tissue paper from the gifts.

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My mom contributed these cool candle holders for the tables. She used old glass jars, cut out cowboys, modge podge, and some old electric fence wire. Very cute. Ummm…. Mom…. You aren’t getting these back, you know?!

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The fireflies were not cooperative during the party, but the kids did find quite a few potato bugs to put in their jars. And that made me very happy.

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Who needs party games when you have big piles of gravel? I bet the bath water turned brown that night, but the kids had a great time!

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The saw-horse rides were pretty popular, too.

It was simple. It was fun. And it was very good. Thanks everyone, for helping us celebrate Danny’s sixth birthday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Flashback Friday

Today’s flashback takes you to my all time favorite, never-fail (except for that one time I went into labor making them and was in the hospital on Father’s day so I couldn’t  pass them out), crowd pleasing, Father’s Day Gift ever! Ever!

I give you…..

Cinnamon Rolls.

You heard me.


No dad can resist.

And yes, I truly did go into labor while making a double batch for Father’s day. And that year, Eric and the grand-dads got a bouncing baby boy named Daniel. Okay, so maybe that was the best Dad’s Day gift ever…


Sharing today at:

Thirty Hand Made Days

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful for…

Party ~ Scones ~ Skunk 006

Friends at play…

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Homemade scones…


Watching my honey be a great daddy…

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**(picture to be added later of a skunk in a bucket)** ;)

And a skunk in a bucket, that has since been released into a wilder space!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Stinky Day

My flower bed is looking nice….

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This little guy thought so, too!

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Just how old do skunks need to be before they can spray?

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And just how do you go about asking his age?

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And what would I do if I didn’t have a fearless husband to chase him away?

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And what will I do if the skunk comes back? Does it think my flower bed is a cozy home sweet home? What if my honey isn’t here to rescue me?!

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Yes, little skunk… Stay in the woods. And tell all your friends to stay there, too.

Ummm…. And just so you know….
Photos were taken with a zoom lens as I squealed and hid on top of the kids’ swing set.
And wondered if skunks can climb….

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Four is Enough?

The Scotts, Route 66

If you had asked me years ago about my family plans, I would have said I hoped for two and just maybe three children. I never dreamed of or desired a large family.

And then, Mary was born. It was one of those horror story/happy ending labor stories that should only be shared with those who enjoy such things and never with anyone expecting their first child. After all that, I wasn’t sure I wanted more children.

When I found that our second was on the way, my joy was somewhat overshadowed by fear. I went doctor hunting with a list of questions just like I was interviewing a job candidate. I was thorough... I was tough as nails… And I cried when I met Dr. Dunn. She was an amazing Ob/Gyn. I knew that with her on my side, I would somehow make it through the ordeal ahead.

A few weeks before due date, my amazing doc was thrown from a horse and shattered her wrist. Her office staff called me that day. I was paralyzed with fear. As soon as she was out of surgery, Dr Dunn called me to reassure me that a back-up doc was already found and that I could meet him before birth.

And then, Danny came early, unexpectedly, and with complications. They had to take him fast and by C-section. I met the new doc in head spinning fashion a few minutes before they wheeled me into the operating room. He did a beautiful job delivering my little one with the assistance of my bandaged up Dr. Dunn. She scrubbed in. Less than one week after a terrible fall, she scrubbed in. Just for me. Because she cared. It restored my hope that doctors care about patients.

When we found number three was on the way, I went back to the doctor’s office like I was going to see old friends. When Dr. Dunn said that I should plan on this third c-section being my last, I was okay with it. A family of five. I worked for me. I signed the papers. It’s was a done deal.

And then, after Sarah had cried for the first time and I had kissed her sweet little head, Dr. Dunn told us the good news that things looked good enough for a fourth c-section. We opted to leave everything in working order and make the decision later.

A few shopping trips, a few family functions, and a few birthday parties later… I was sure I was done. Plenty outnumbered and certainly done. I pushed Eric to make the decision permanent.

I bought that last pregnancy test, full of shock and disbelief, wondering how I could possibly keep up with four little ones ages five and under, I dreaded telling anyone what I already knew. I cried. I really did. How on earth could I handle four little ones spaced so closely. What were people going to say? How many corny jokes would I have to put up with? How would I answer those who asked, “How in the world are you going to keep up?"

I was terrified. I felt inadequate. I felt strange to be a mother of so many. I felt conspicuous and odd.

So I kept it all a secret for awhile. Even when a good friend asked if we planned more children, I lied outright and told her that we certainly didn’t plan any more children. I laughed and cried a bit inside as I said that.

Somehow, as pregnancy settled in, I came to peace with my new, improved, ever-enlarging family. And it was okay. We finally told our family and friends. Though there were good natured jokes, it wasn’t nearly as terrible as I feared.

But we still had only three little ones to chase.

All my children had somehow been spaced an even 22 months apart. Baby number four had the kindness to follow the pattern in some crazy act of divine wisdom or coincidence… I’ll never know which.

But what that means in practical terms is that every time I had a two year old (ahem…. terrible two), I also had a newborn to care for. That’s a hard thing. I was so frightened that I wouldn’t be able to do it with four little ones. I was terrified.

I was so afraid to be a mom of many. I didn’t know what it would look like, or feel like, or be like.

But, I found that I could do the job just fine. The job description had just changed to better suit my family’s needs.

I could never do what a mother of one or two can do. I can never be a mom of three. I am a mom of many. Slowly but surely, I found that being this kind of mom means I can’t be the kind of mom some of my friends are. I can’t do all the things for my kids that a mother of two can. I can’t take them to the same kinds of places, because there is a baby to take into account. I can’t spend as much time with just one child. I can’t buy them as many things. I can’t always read their favorite book before bed. I must admit I have felt some guilt over such things.

Slowly and surely, I have seen that success being a mom of many just looks different.

Instead of mother/daughter nights, we have girls’ nights. Instead of having lots of great toys (though they have more than plenty), they have each other to play with. Instead of going to Chicago to see the city, we go camping down the road at a state park. Instead of signing the kids up for individual lessons somewhere, we find things to do together as a family. Instead of always getting our own way, we bend to the needs/desires of the others in our family. Instead of being everything to my little ones, we are everything to each other all at the same time. And my heart grew four sizes times infinity…

And the farther down the road I get in my full of car-seats vehicle, the more that I see the wonder of the gift of being a mom of many. And I thank God for planning to give me my sweet little Sam, just at the perfect time.

And sometimes (even though my body is done having babies), I wonder what it would be like if there were more little ones to love. And I wonder how I could have ever missed the amazing life God planned for me.

Loving life with a full house.
Thankful that God knew better.
I’m happy to be a momma of many.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Let ‘em Struggle


If my children don’t choose to go to college, that’s okay with me. If they aren’t sports stars, great ballerinas, or fantastic gymnasts, that’s fine too. Though I’d love to see my kids enjoy great success in life, there are other things I see as more important. I have bigger goals for them than being successful.

I want them to be good people. I want them to look at others with compassion and love, understanding and kindness. I want them to take care of their families and friends. I want them to love God.

I also want them to be able to do things. As they enter adulthood, I want them to go out into the world with great knowledge of the everyday stuff needed to live life.

We have some pretty lofty goals for raising our children. Besides the obvious goal for our children to be “good people,” I also want them to be capable.

By age 12, I hope our children will have a basic knowledge of cooking, cleaning, balancing a budget, filling out forms, home and car repair, and first aid (among others). By age 16, they should be fully prepared to be self sufficient. The years between 16 and whenever they leave our home will be years to practice caring for their own needs with us here for support and advice.

And all of this training starts now.

It’s telling the two year old, “You must try to put on your own shoe. Do your best.”

It’s watching a four year old struggle to pour her own milk, knowing a mess is likely in the process of learning.

It’s being the “mean momma” when the six year old wants to give up on finishing a job, reminding him to tough it out because the animals or the family is depending on his good work.

It’s letting the eight year old do something big, cooking a meal for the family. It’s standing aside as she struggles. Letting her make a few mistakes. Giving her time to figure it out, and offering advice only when there might be danger or she asks for it.

I have learned to step back from the initial impulse to jump in with help for them. I know that letting them struggle to do something on their own will help them more in the long run.

It’s hard to stand back when you could help. It’s tempting to do things for the kids to avoid messes. It’s not much fun being the bad guy who makes sure the job is complete. It’s not easy letting go of the reins.

But, it is very important.

And so, I let them struggle sometimes. In the struggle, they often find that they can, indeed, do the things that were so difficult. They gain skill, knowledge, and self-confidence.

Though I don’t want them to grow up and leave, I know they will. I don’t want that time to be a struggle, full of mistakes and hard-knocks. So, I let them struggle now in a world where there are hugs and folks who can catch them if they fall.

There’s a lot of love in letting them struggle….

Friday, June 10, 2011

Back in the Swing…

We’re settling back in to life here at home after our short vacation.

Kids have slept late, napped, and finally are finding their old routines.

It was so nice to be away, enjoying family,
swimming, spending time just being together.

And somehow… This is nice, too.

It’s nice hanging the clothes on the line to dry.

It’s rewarding to weed the beans and corn
as the sun slips quietly behind the trees.

It feels good to clean the bathroom.

The kitchen is happy to be re-stocked with good food,
serving my family.

Our hens, the cow and our cat are all happy
to see my little ones playing in the yard.

It’s good to be home. So very good….

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Road Trip, 2011

Did you miss us? I must admit, I missed my computer. I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time with a cup of coffee reading my favorite blogs, too!


We spent a long weekend on the road, traveling to Des Moines, Iowa, for my sweet cousin’s beautiful wedding.

Everything went perfectly. At the wedding.

Our trip, well…..  Not so much. ;)

We were scheduled to leave on Thursday. On Wednesday, I got a bad case of cold feet after my washing machine locked up and quit working, leaving me to hand wash two loads of laundry that day. I cried. Then, I went to my husband and asked to cancel the trip while I cried some more. Let’s be honest, here. I was feeling so inadequate that a trip with four littles across hundreds of miles seemed impossible. Crazy. Insane.

My husband talked logic to me. It didn’t work. Finally, he gave up and hugged me. Amazing how that works. I was all better and ready to conquer the world (or at least go shopping for that swimsuit I had been avoiding).

With the swimsuit purchased after trying on many, many suits in more stores than I care to count, I made it home Wednesday night around 10:30 with the supplies for the trip.

I’d like to say that everything was packed and ready to go on Thursday morning, but remember my little washing machine incident?! Thursday morning left me packing for myself and the kids. I rocked. I really did. We had everyone organized and ready to go, breakfast served and cleaned up, car loaded, and hit the road by 11:00 a.m. as was our goal. I was so very proud.

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We stopped at a state park for a break mid-afternoon. A picnic lunch/dinner and a hike really made a great break from travel.

The kids were happily loaded back in the car, and we were on our way. Some fun travel packs a friend (she’s pretty special) prepared for the kids made the rest of the ride easier. We were cruising along, having a pretty good time.

We were amazed at this wind farm. It was amazing to see the huge windmills that filled the landscape for as far as we could see!

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It was somewhere around this part of the trip, when we had been on the road for 6 hours or so, when Eric innocently asked me if I had remembered to load the garment bag with his suit and my dress for the wedding. And the tears came again! I forgot the bag. Truly. We had everything we needed to go to the wedding except clothes. I honestly felt like the biggest failure in the world. Of all things to forget! Why couldn’t it have been something easy to replace like toothbrushes?!

Too late to go back, we pressed on toward Des Moines and arrived in the middle of the night. Kids tucked into a hotel bed, I was so relieved to have made it safely with the only tears of the trip being my own!

Friday, we recovered from the trip. My brother and sis-in-love took their girls to an amusement park. We opted out, in favor of the hotel water-park and shopping for some clothes for the wedding. ;P Breakfast from McDonalds, and a trip to the pool wore the kids out enough that they all napped at the same time!  I took off for the nearest mall, leaving Eric with the sleeping beauties. I shopped desperately for a dress suitable for a wedding. And found nothing. Nothing. What few dresses I found were either cut so low my belly button would’ve showed or looked like something someone’s grandmother should have worn! Again, many tears and a helpful lady suggested a trip to a nearby mall where there were some better stores.

I called Eric, who quite frankly thought I had lost my mind.

Still, he loaded up the kids and drove us to that mall, where we found not one, but two dresses for me and pants, a shirt, and a tie for him in less than an hour! I know in the grand scheme, the clothes and the worries were pretty small potatoes. I know that, at least in my head. But in my travel wearied state, they sure didn’t seem like a little thing. They felt like a great big failure.

Eric and Tima

We clean up pretty nice…. :) Love this dress!
Makes me almost glad I forgot the clothes… But don’t tell my honey. ;)

Dinner with my Dad and Step-mom, my brother, sis-in-love, and nieces made for a very special evening for my family. We followed that up with a trip together to the water park. It was lovely. Simple, beautiful, and lovely.

The wedding was beautiful, as was the bride. I love a good wedding, and this one had me crying before all the friends and family were even seated! Kate included a poem written by our grandmother in the wedding program. It was such a beautiful tribute to a lady we both adored so much. I cried when her dad walked her down the aisle, and again when I realized that the song playing during the lighting of the candles was performed and pre-recorded by the couple! It was truly one of the most elegant and beautiful weddings I have been a part of.

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Daniel was not so taken by the wedding. He looked at me with silent tears streaming down his face and then whispered to me… “Mom, it’s just sooooo boooorriinnnnngggggg! Can we pleeeeaaaaassssse go home now?” Between some giggles, I whispered back, “No! We drove ten hours to this wedding and it’s very important to me to be here. You’re gonna have to deal with it and sit here quietly. Just watch for the kiss. That means it’s almost over.” And he did. You never did see such relief at a kiss in any little boy’s face!

The reception was a delight to all of us!

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Mary and her cousin did some serious visiting. Wish I knew what they were saying…

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Sarah watched and admired every move made by the bride, and has been playing dress-up bride ever since!

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Sam was happy to eat and visit with the other little ones.

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And Daniel… who hated the wedding so much it made him cry….
Well, he ruled the dance floor with his cousin! We all stood by and watched as they spun round, danced, and dipped for almost an hour. They were amazing! Truly. This boy of mine will make a catch for some girl some day… If she can get him to make it through the boring wedding. ;)

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We enjoyed more time with family on Sunday, and then began the journey home on Monday, stopping along the way for an amazing meal and visit with some good friends. They took us for a walk on a retired section of Route 66. It was a beautiful, and lovely end to our trip.

So now we are home, catching up on laundry (the washer is miraculously working… for now). My garden has grown, my house is a mess, and my kids slept late this morning. Life is good.

So here, for those who care to read them, are my tips for travel with littles.

  1. Stop along the way for active play. A lot.
  2. Pack healthy, whole-grain snacks and juices for a break from the fast food.
  3. Silly games really help make the car ride more tolerable. Bring along some ideas.
  4. Be ready for the trip to take much longer than it should. Get there when you get there so that there isn’t any stress along the way, pushing you to go farther between stops than the kids can handle.
  5. Be prepared for something to go wrong. It will. And it isn’t the end of the world, it just seems like it.
  6. Do stay at a hotel with a pool or water park. It’s amazing the stress relief that comes from splashing in the water with your littles.
  7. Make a stop at a local grocery for fruit to bring back to the hotel room. It’s such a lovely and welcome treat!
  8. Plan for at least one day of recuperating when you get home. You’ll need it and so will the kids!
  9. Be patient with each other. Don’t expect perfect behavior or perfect people.
  10. Have fun!

I missed you all. So good to be back home!