Friday, September 25, 2015

A Little Debbie Moment

I looked across the room and saw this box of “Little Debbie” snack cakes, purchased for Cookie#2’s scout camp out. But something was different about Little Debbie; she was wearing a mustache.  “Wow, Little Debbie Company, you’re really going out on a limb with a marketing stunt like that. That’s a very interesting strategy,” I thought. I honestly didn’t think too much about it (which is weird in and of itself.)
It wasn’t until hours later that I got up close to the box and realized that this facial hair was the creative addition of one of my kids (no doubt for even a moment who it was; the same one who draws faces on all of the eggs in the carton and defaces most of my magazines). What a turkey! I won’t show the other box that made sweet, Little Debbie into more of a devil child.
So, my lesson for the day is: Enjoy the Little Debbie Moments. Pretty soon the moments will be gone and life won’t be nearly so entertaining. Gotta love those kids!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bon Voyage or NOT!

Will life ever calm down? Well, I kinda sorta thought this would be my weekend. I'm on a plane headed for LA to set sail on a weekend cruise with my husband and the adults in his family. Such fun, right? I had grand plans to get my hair done and toes painted but that didn't happen on accounting of fighting a cold (and my nerves, which always get in the way when leaving my children). Of course I had a few other things to catch up on before leaving: laundry, grocery shopping, church assignments, school know, all of that busy work.


So all that's done...will I be able to find the calm I'm desperately seeking? Apparently NOT. Aside from still fighting my nerves (darn nerves), I just heard somebody talking about a Tsunami advisory off the coast of California! Okay, that has to be a joke! Nope, sure enough; there was an 8.3 earthquake somewhere in the ocean and now a threat of a tsunami on the California coast. Can this really be happening? That is so NOT calming!


Is it coincidence, you tell me, that as I sit here in the smooth air over Oklahoma (I think), and read this timely quote in a book about one of my favorite females ever, Abigail Adams. This quote is in reference to Abigail's sea voyage from America to Europe to see her husband after four long years of separation, "Far worse than the storm was the dead calm they encountered several days later, during which the ship idled motionless with not a breath of wind to fill the sails. The enforced stillness made Abigail philosophical. 'I begin to think that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. Every object is most beautiful in motion, a ship under sail, trees gently agitated with the wind,  and a fine woman was made for action.'" 


What a profound statement and I believe it's true. When do I feel most beautiful? When do I feel of greatest worth? When do I feel the most satisfied and contented? When I am doing! When I am serving; whether in my home, at church, or otherwise. Abigail is right, the calm is not desirable. It actually seems pretty boring, now that I think about it. "In motion" is where I want to be. 


A cruise would have been nice. And maybe a few days of peace, quiet, and adult-time would have been enjoyable. But I am convinced that the storms of life are what keeps life interesting and reveal true beauty. Who wants to read a book (uninterrupted), poolside on the Lido deck, sipping frozen lemonade anyway? Not me...well, on second thought, DARN!




Friday, September 11, 2015

Think of the Masterpieces!

It's probably been 20+ years since I've done nested fractions. Well, I did it today. Just for fun?, not really. It was to help a child, but it was actually pretty fun. I was thinking hard; using a part of my brain that I haven't used in a long time. I had a friend say the other day that she was jealous that I have the opportunity to learn alongside my kids. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes I feel stressed, but I do totally love it and it is a marvelous reward.  

This week, as required by our literature curriculum, my son and I finished a book called Freckles. It’s a beautiful story about a boy who knows almost nothing about who he is and where he comes from. It’s Freckles’ journey to find himself and to find love, of all kinds. Along the way his strength of character is revealed in both brave and tender ways. Freckles earns the trust and love of all those around him, most importantly that of his special “Swamp Angel.” The story takes place in the Limberlost Swamp of IndianaGene Stratton-Porter made the Limberlost come to life for me. She described the outdoor "study" that Freckles created for himself using Wild Rose, Dogwood TreesWillow, St. John’s Wort, Goldenrod, and Ferns. Her impeccable description of the various flowers and shrubbery made it almost life like. Ilonged to step foot into that outdoor sanctuary. I could image the cool, moist air and the earthy smells. I could almost hear the chirps of the birds and the murmuring of the insects. I want a space like that of my own.

It was no surprise to later learn that Stratton-Porter was in actuality a naturalist and a bird photographer. This was her first passion. In fact, she only ever wrote her fictional work in order to compensate her publishers for the money lost on the non-fictional records, which she loved best. She weaved her life's passion into her work. And, wow, is it inspiring!  

Do we weave our passion into our lives’ work? It may not be possible to walk away from the full time job when we have a family to support and a house payment to make, but how can we make our lives’ work reflect our passion? Is that possible? I wonder if we were to encourage our children to pursue their God given interests and talents when they are young, would they be able to spend their lives realizing their dreams and passions? I wonder. What a happy, inspired place this world would be? Think of the masterpieces!

I write about “living your passions” a lot. Perhaps I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not crazy for going after one of mine.  That I’m not crazy for selling my home, leaving my comfortable, traditional life style, and aspiring to create my own little magical, outdoor sanctuary for children to enjoy. Well, if I am, it’s too late. I’m already on the way.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Trailers or Hats, Anyone?

My adorable, dreamer of a mother
Have you ever known a dreamer? Not a daydreamer…but somebody who dreams about big ideas? My mom is a dreamer. She thinks up an idea and then goes for it. Who else’s mom do you know that goes around town, spying old, broken-down trailers in somebody else’s yard so she can approach them and ask to buy it off of them; just to take it home and rip out of the floor, replace the electrical, reupholster the seat, to either turn around and sell it or enjoy it herself? I would venture to say that you know very few people like that. Well, I live with another one of them. He happens to be a 13 years old boy, who is full of dreams and tenacity. He’s extraordinarily passionate. He will do nothing unless he absolutely believes in it. Everything must have meaning, answers, explanations, and purpose. He will not accept the answer, “just because.” He also doesn’t really accept a “no” answer unless there is a pretty great reason why. So, he is absolutely obsessed right now with the idea of creating hats. What?!? Hats? Yes, he wants to recreate hats from different eras and different countries. Hats that are no longer in production. Oh, and vintage camping gear like leather backpacks (no big deal). He has spent hours and hours sketching some really beautiful things. Doesn’t this sound like a great idea? Totally realistic, right? A perfect way for a 13 year old boy to pick up some extra cash. What do you do as a parent? He thinks that he is actually capable of building hats that people would actually want to buy. He has never sewed anything in his life yet he refuses to believe that he can’t make it happen! My husband and I have listened (Rand has been much more supportive than I have). We have talked through the finances, still no easing up. So, what to do next…

Anybody know a good seamstress???

Friday, August 28, 2015

I Am NOT A Public School Hater But...

I am NOT a public school hater. Totally not! But this week I present my:

 Top 5 Things I DO NOT Miss About the Start of a Public School Year:

1. Back to school night! This is especially a nightmare when you have more than one child, and a husband out of town. Total chaos! There's nothing like meeting your child's new teacher and saying (without saying a word), "I'm a mess! I cannot control my children. I'm sorry that they are making a mess of the classroom you worked so hard to make perfect. I'm trying to hold it together and I'm starting to sweat. I really don't even know what to say to you. I better get out of here. Good luck with my child this year! Bye."

2. All of those forms! I hated those! What a hassle! Especially for multiple children- insurance cards, social security #'s, emergency contacts...blah!

3. School Supply List. THE WORST! I swear every year I would spend $20 in gas running all around town scouring every Target, Staples, Office Max, and Walmart looking for a RED, 3-pronged, pocket folders with brass fasteners. And don't you dare think about getting blue! Oh, and don't buy your child anything special or super cute because it all goes into a community pot and she may not get that one back.

4. School lunches. Need I say more... The only thing worse than packing the same, monotonous lunch every day; is eating the same, monotonous lunch every day. Poor kids! No matter how hard you try at the beginning of the year to be creative and cute with it, it always ends up a sandwich, chips, and a piece of fruit. BORING!

5. The worry. Somehow it never got easy to send those kiddos off to school. For certain kids you would worry about whether or not they would fit in and make friends. You would worry about whether they would get picked on or sit alone in the lunch room. And for other kids, you just worried for the sanity of the teacher.

So, welcome back to school, everybody! I hope your first few weeks are going well : )

Oh, a few other things that happened this week in our family:

Cookie #4 Started Cub Scouts! Cookie #3 is so excited he can hardly wait to coach him through his Bobcat. Gotta love it! 

And Cookie #3 earned his Arrow of Light, the highest Cub Scout rank (I think that's how it's classified). I'm proud to say that he did most of it on his own, which is why I don't know the proper terminology.  So proud, of him...not me : ) 

And Cookie #2 had a monumental evening. Not only did he and his friend (mostly his friend) cook a delicious spicy, spaghetti dinner; he hosted his first "club" meeting. He wants to travel the world in the worst way. He and his friends are putting together an intense business plan in order to raise the money. It's killing me to stay out of it, but I am. I wish I could have recorded their first meeting. It was...intense. No other words. I have one passionate kid on my hands.

Friday, August 21, 2015

You Had One Job, Mom!

I burnt the cookies! It's been 10 weeks and today was the big day- CookieFriday was back! The "little" boys actually made the dough and I HAD ONE JOB. Isn't that a thing?...I only had one job (Yeah, it is. See the attached memes). I needed to take the cookies out on time, and I blew it! I hate burning cookies! The boys actually all got cookies from the first batch, it's my poor husband (who loves the cookies most of all) who gets the short end of the stick on this one. Well, you can't win them all.

Just for giggles

Other than burning the cookies, it's pretty great to be home. From one adventure to another; from the campfire to the schoolroom. And I love it! I have done a fair amount of stressing about the upcoming homeschool year but mostly because I needed to get organized. Now that I've had a week to get my books ordered and get the schoolroom back in order, I'm ready to go!

Did you used to lay out your school outfit the night before the first day? Of course, right? I would lay it out on the floor as if my body was inside. The new socks, the new shoes, the new ribbon- all laid out on the floor, in anatomical order. I remember one year I shopped all summer to find the perfect matching outfit. It was a complete set of pink and navy stripes with a matching skirt, shirt, cardigan, and scrunchy. I cute. I was sure to wear it again on picture day! Of course the new backpack was packed and ready to go with a new binder (denim cover, when I was at my coolest), equipped with neatly labeled dividers and finely sharpened pencils. I distinctly remember feeling the butterflies. I was excited! I loved the fresh new start. I loved the possibilities that a new year would bring. I can't remember if I was excited to learn but I think so. It was the whole package: new teacher, new friends, new books, new school supplies, and, of course, the new shoes.

With educating the kids at home, thing are obviously different. The new clothes, new school supplies, new teacher...not really a thing (although I do make sure we get hair cuts at the end of a shaggy summer). It's different, but no less special. For them, the excitement comes in checking the mail for the dozens of new books coming our way. It's exploring the supplies in the science experiment kit. It's brainstorming ideas for unstructured learning. It's not having to catch the 6:50 bus. It's planning field trips and other travel plans for the year. Just like public school, it's realizing the possibilities that a new year brings, just in a totally different way.

So, here's to the start of a new year and all of the butterflies, new shoes, and possibilities that come with it! Happy fall everybody!

Look who I caught waiting for the cookies : )

Mom is Back! Maybe next week she won't burn the cookies!

Friday, August 14, 2015

I Survived Summer Camp in the Adirondacks! Week 9

Top 4 lessons (because I'm too tired to write 5) I learned after spending 62 days at summer camp in the Adirondacks! (Thanks for the question, Trish)

1. Summer camp isn't a vacation

Owning a summer camp is a romantic idea; leaving home for the summer, owning a beautiful piece of land, and running a seasonal business. Don't be deceived, it's SO MUCH WORK! You have to satisfy the health department, the ACA (American Camp Association), staff, counselors, and parents...not to mention the campers! I've always been a people pleaser but that is a tall order! It takes a lot of work. Yes, you may have a more flexible schedule in the off season, but you're on 24/7 for 9 weeks! After working 9 weeks at summer camp, believe me, romance is the last things on my mind.

2. You don't always have to love it all to have a great experience

This seems pretty obvious, right? Think about's not always hugs and kisses. Sometimes it flat out stinks (figuratively and literally). There are dirty diapers and dirty dishes, tears and tantrums, accidents and mistakes; nonetheless, I would not trade it for all the money in the world. Why? Because the pay off is so great! The sweet moments are so wonderful, that they drown out the sour. This is 100% true of camp.

So, what makes camp worth it?...staying out late to sing campfire songs and catch a glimpse of a shooting star, girls that hang on to an embrace up until the very last moment because they can't stand the thought of being a part from their best friend for a whole entire year, earning a well deserved rank in an activity after working years to earn it. Totally sweet and well worth the sour!

3. Girls just want to be noticed, loved, and accepted

One of my favorite moments at camp was just a couple days ago when Randy was helping my aides move their heavy trunks out of their cabin to prepare for departure. The girls (ages 15-17) sat on the edge of their beds and wanted to chat. They started asking questions. They wanted to know how we met and about our family. They begged us to stay and tell more stories. Some of them expressed how they wished their parents would pay more attention. They said that they may not always act like they want it, but they do love the attention. Eureka! I guess I had always heard that but hearing it strait for a gaggle of teenagers really hit home for me. What a great reminder.

4.  Little things go a long way

The first week of camp I told the counselors that small and simple things can go a long way. It's so true! From the very start of camp I started leaving simple notes and treats on the pillows of my campers. You would have thought they had been given access to the internet! They absolutely loved it. They thanked me more than enough and before too long they were leaving notes and treats for me! My favorite was a bag of Sour Patch KIds with a hand written note saying, "We're so glad we're your... (Sour patch Kids). Isn't that cute!?! Better yet, the girls were rarely late for curfew, never neglected their assignments, and always treated me and each other with kindness. Now, I'm not saying all of that happened because of a bag of chips ("Thanks for chipping in around camp!") but it certainly didn't hurt. Small and simples goes a long way.

We are headed home now. It's a 14 hour car ride. The first hour I was just quiet. I would blurt out an idea, jot it down and then get tired and have to rest. I need a couple weeks to let it all process, that's for sure. But one thing I do know-we can do this! Sure, it'll be a lot of work; it won't be the vacation that some may think but we can do it. By small and simple ways we can create a environment of love and safety; one of acceptance and adventure. A special place that girls can look forward to with a yearning that nowhere else can satisfy.

And I survived my summer adventure!

Entrance into Banquet

End of summer Banquet was a grand event!