We’ve been camping! Two years ago, we met my mom and stepdad in middle ground in Indiana and went camping; our first summer of camping:) We had such a good time, despite the beyond freezing nights (we learned some things that time!) that we decided to do it again the next fall. Only to be waylaid by knee replacements and broken knees and things like that on my parents’ end. Bummer! We were all disappointed it didn’t work out but were determined to make it work this year if we could ever get settled somewhere. Well, we did (yea!) and so we planned (yea again!) and we went!

This time we went camping in Waynesville, Oh, just under 1 1/2 hours away. We were all so excited all week for the chance to get away for a couple of days and roast s’mores, among other things:) My mom and stepdad were able to get there a couple of hours earlier than us and set up camp. We got there at dinner time, set up Thomas camp on the ajoining campsite and sat down to thoroughly enjoy some Southwestern Chili that my mom made and some cornbread that I made. Mmm!

One chair waiting for Ben. He must’ve been putting some final touches on our lovely dwelling.

Our home away from home! It has been a good tent for us, comfortably housing a queen-sized air mattress for Ben, Eliana and I (she will move up to her own sleeping bag next year!), two sleeping bags on either side for the boys and all of our bags.

After dinner, we found the perfect little dishwasher!

She spent at least 15 minutes soaping up everything and washing and getting herself all wet:)

Ben enjoying the fire; his favorite part of camping he says!

Mugga and Papa!

We had a horrific first night’s sleep, unfortunately. Between some drunk carousing neighbors who showed up when it was dark out, decided to serenade the campsite with their ukulele and guitar duets (which weren’t any good) until 11pm when I decided to call and complain,  a girl from their camp with a high-pitched screaming cackle of a laugh that wouldn’t put a sock in it until around 1am, our air mattress having a hole in it which left us sleeping on the ground basically and me up most of the night with a very upset stomach, it was awful! Ben actually slept in the car, no joke. So we were cold, a little grouchy and exhausted yesterday morning but we quickly turned the night’s events into some jokes and were happy to see our neighbors pack up and leave mid-morning.

We spent the morning in Waynesville, browsing their cute little shops and finding a local Wal-Mart to hunt down a new air mattress and some replacement ice. My stepdad also found a radio to tune into the Buckeye game:) We attempted naps and soaked in the peaceful quiet afternoon. It was really nice!

There was a pond down by the bathrooms so I walked down with the kiddos to throw rocks in the water and take pictures. Here’s Samuel getting read to attempt some rock-skipping:)

Love Mr. Z’s face! He does everything with his whole heart:) He had SUCH a good time this weekend. He was just enthralled with everything: the flashlights, helping feed the fire, making s’mores, and a million other things.

Just looking:)

Always ready to give me such big smiles! She loved throwing rocks in the pond!

It was a beautiful day! Sunny and 80. Perfect!

We turned on the Buckeye game, roasted some hotdogs and s’mores and had a really nice evening. We got all 3 munchkins tucked in bed earlier, which was good, since they were worn out! (Especially Eliana!) We slept SO much better last night on our new air mattress and with no wild college kids nearby.

We relaxed for a little bit this morning by our last fire and ate breakfast and then we slowly started packing up all of our gear. We had a really good time and have decided this will be an annual weekend each fall! We get better at camping each time and are so thankful for the fun memories it gives our kids:)

Ballerinas and Weekend Fun!

 We actually had a really pleasant weekend, for once! On Friday night, some friends of ours from church, an older couple, called and asked if they could take the boys to have some fun on Saturday afternoon and to spend the night! The boys thought about it overnight (they were a little nervous!) and decided they really wanted to go. So our friends, who have been like surrogate grandparents to us over this past year or so, picked up the boys and took them to a movie, followed by Chuck-E-Cheeses and then to their house. They called twice to say hello to me and to say goodnight. They were having the time of their lives!

Meanwhile, Eliana was invited to her very first birthday party for a friend we met at MOPS and it was at a dance studio. Talk about CUTE!

The girls could dress in any princess or dance-ish outfit they wanted. They were all adorable! Eliana wanted to wear her ballet costume that I found on clearance last month at Kohls. Gosh, she’s cute!

The parents weren’t allowed to stay for the party since the studio doesn’t have a lot of room. Eliana was a little nervous but was okay when we left. We got to spend about an hour and 15 minutes walking around our cute little downtown area! Just the two of us; like a mini date! We haven’t been on a date in an embarrassingly long time so we get a lot of pleasure out of even an hour to ourselves! It was really relaxing and the weather was gorgeous on Saturday.

They asked all the parents to come back 10 minutes early for a little “recital” that the girls put on for us. How cute are all these munchkins?

Each little girl was handed a sparkly star wand when they came in and somewhere in the dancing confusion, Eliana set hers down and someone quickly claimed it since it was purple:) All that were left were the white ones but she seemed happy with the substitute!

There wasn’t room to stand to the side of E so I had to video her from behind. Still, SO precious! We loved every second of it:)


Then since we were down to only one child (how easy is that??) we decided to use a gift card we had and go out to eat! What a rare treat for this little ducky! She had such a good time.

It was a really nice day!

Looking so pretty on Mother’s Day in her sundress:)

 After church, we were invited back to our friends’ house for a late lunch/early dinner. The boys were so at home with them and really didn’t want to leave! They had had such a good time over the weekend and were totally spoiled rotten:)

Mr. Chuck, Ms. Sally and our trio! They will always hold special places in our hearts for taking us in the way they have over this past year. They made our weekend so special and blessed us tremendously!

That’s it in a nutshell!


 We are trying to be a little more intentional about filling our family time on the weekends with special moments; not just hanging around doing nothing. Although that is fun sometimes, too! Today we took a trip to Hobby Lobby and picked out a few little accessories for Eliana’s dollhouse and a couple small paint by numbers for the boys for a few dollars. They have been working on them all afternoon!

Ben and I were sitting on the couch reading and having a moment of laziness (see, I said it was good sometimes!) and we were listening to the boys talk and giggle over their time playing Mario Kart. They were describing all their races in detail and just having the most fun being downright silly.

All of the sudden, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I thought to myself, “What a perfect moment to capture between my sweet boys. Friends. Buddies.” And so I did!

I love these two! In the kitchen a little bit ago Zakkai said to Ben, “It’s weird how I look like both of you.” Ben said, “How do you think you look like both of us?” Zakkai said, “Well, my face and my neck look like mommy,” and then he waved his arm from his mid-chest down and said, “And from here down, I look like you!” haha!

As you may know, we are huge readers in our family, a gift Ben and I are thrilled to pass on to our kids. My sister and I were talking the other day about how we were so thankful that the love for reading was passed onto all of us growing up. All 5 of us love to read!

A series that I just love that captures my heart for a few reasons are the “Sisterchicks” books by Robin Jones Gunn. From the first one I read, I was enthralled and recently I requested all of them from the library. They just came in yesterday and I am finished with two already! (I may not have mentioned that we all also have the gift of reading ridiculously fast!)

There are three things I love about these books. (Be prepared for a little heart-share here or quit reading if you’d like to avoid vulnerability. My specialty!)

One, the women in these books have a friendship that I crave and long for. Her definition of a Sisterchick: “A friend who laughs with you till you cry and cries with you till you laugh; a gift from God.” I have noticed especially lately that I really stink at friendship. I used to be so much better about giving of myself and pouring into friendship but over these last barren years of survival, I kind of folded up inside myself and became comfortably uncomfortable in my isolation and insecure in what I have to offer in a friendship. I find myself very unsure of what people think of me and assume that once they get to know me, they will see what a mess I can be and not want to waste their time. To have a friend that would love me for who I am and encourage me to grow and become a better person and who would open up enough for me to love with the same depth would be an honor. An incredible gift.

Two, they are always traveling to a different country in each book and I would give anything to be able to spend time in these countries! But most of all, to have the experiences they have traveling with a Sisterchick friend.

And three, the women in the book always have some eye-opening experience or quiet moment where God breathes new life into their hearts, that are, for different reasons, closed from pain or hurt or the neglect of time. The quiet beauty in which God speaks to them and renews their sense of belonging, purpose and feelings of being loved and cherished is something my heart cries out for. If I was able to fully cast off the lies of my earthly father who hammered into me that I was not good enough and truly accepted the love of my heavenly Father, it would probably help a lot with the whole insecurity/ friendship thing. Healing comes in stages and with every stage, the healing goes a little deeper. I wonder if I will be experiencing that for the rest of my life…

I will leave you with a recap of something one of the characters said to her friend in my most recent read. She said, “You were not meant to carry loss/grief/sadness as if it were your own heavy burden to bear. Give the burden back to God and keep giving it back until you have no more grief in your heart to hand over to Him. Then wait and see what gift He places in your empty hands.”

Yes. That is what I want. A Sisterchick friend. To travel. But most of all to be able to fully give my sadness and pain and even my insecurity to the Lord and have Him fill my empty hands with Him and to be fully surrounded with and loved by Him.

To feel wanted. To feel loved. To be known by our Creator. Isn’t that what we all really want?

Weekend Pics!

 #1. Baby Anna playing in Baby C’s exersaucer:) Eliana got her all situated so she could play!

#2. Eliana talking on her calculator phone to Mugga. She kept saying, “I need to ask you a question, Mugga.” 🙂

#3. I was Mystery Reader in Samuel’s class on Friday and the baby came with me. He was a HUGE hit with Samuel’s class! Samuel was so surprised and really happy! I read the first chapter of “Mrs Piggle Wiggle,” which is such a cute book.

#4. Eliana suckered her Daddy into doing his first ever toenail painting!

#5. Zakkai is crazy about the new rubber band bracelet making that is all the rage here! We don’t have a kit but he was trying to figure out a way to braid them himself!

#6. Showing off her “pretty red” toes!

#7. We took our last ever pictures of Eliana in her crib!

She was posing for us;)

Cheese! It was really sad to take down our crib after 8 years of using it! But we haven’t dwelled on it too much because Miss E is SOOO happy about her “new” big girl bed!

#8. The bed! I found it at a garage sale and a pair of sheets on clearance at Target. She is really hoping for Dora sheets so I’m keeping a lookout!

#9. We could hardly tear Eliana away from her bed to get her to eat dinner! We got a little rail to stop her from rolling out the way her big brother did so many times!

#10. Sleeping so peacefully last night! She did GREAT! She fell right to sleep and slept all night and didn’t even climb out this morning. We’ll see how long that lasts:) She has a little opening at the top to climb in/out and a little stool. She is crazy about being independent these days so she loves the idea of getting in and out of her bed herself!

When asked this morning how she liked sleeping in her “new” bed, she said, “It is so comfortable!” haha:)
This week was Fire Prevention Week and the boys had the fire department visit the school and tell them all about fire safety. Today they had an open house at the local fire station to raise money and teach the families about fire safety. We went for a bit this afternoon because the boys were so excited to go!

They had little fire hats to give out, coloring, face painting, demonstration and even fire truck rides. That was pretty cool! We had to wait in a long line but everyone loved it. I’m sure the neighbors were tired of hearing the sirens for 4 hours as they looped around the block over and over!

We met the nicest firemen, who gave us great tips “just in case” and it even possibly rekindled a bit of Zakkai’s desire to be a firefighter! He was going to sleep tonight dreaming of putting out a spark in a big building;)

Eliana just loved going and spent the rest of the afternoon wearing her fire hat, calling herself a “fire girl” and pulling around her fire truck, which was really Ben’s shoe attached to a string:)

Our weekend in a nutshell!