June 30, 2010


Our family really has a good time playing games together... board games, word games, card games... whatever.

One of our favorite games was Scrabble.  For Christmas we gave Bananagrams to the girls.  We got rid of our scrabble board shortly thereafter.  This game is the same idea but everyone builds their own board so there is no long boring waiting around for everyone else to come up with a word.  Everyone plays at their own vocabulary and spelling level so even the youngest child can join in.  Furthermore, because there are no points counted even the youngest kids feel like winners.  I am sure Allen and I have enjoyed it just as much.  I was surprised that the boys play it quite proficiently, as well.  It truly is a game for the entire family.

Usually we limit our game playing to winter evenings when we are stuck indoors, but because the tiles are plastic, we've enjoyed it poolside this summer.  It is small enough to take along just about anywhere you go.

You can read more about the game and the rules at the Bananagrams website so I am not going to waste time telling you all about it.

I will tell you this.  We ended up buying a second set because there are so many of us.  I will also tell you it is available at Target and Amazon.com.  I am sure lots of other places, but that's where we have bought our sets.

I will tell you one more thing.  It is an excellent tool for home schoolers.  Our young readers have noticeably improved their spelling by playing with the tiles.  I read words aloud and they spell them out with their tiles.  Of course, they can do this on any old paper but it is a lot more fun this way.

June 29, 2010

Zip, Zip...

For Christmas we gave the kids a zip line.  The last six months there has been much discussion about how to hang it for maximum fun while avoiding the telephone pole, play ground, train and other trees scattered about our yard.  Finally, Friday evening, we threw all caution to the wind and installed it between two trees. 

The boys brought me a chair and I sat back to watch the show.  It was hysterical watching them climb around in the tree trying to figure out what to do. When Ellie and the little boys got tired of waiting for the fun to begin, they found another way to pass the time.
Pa took the first ride, lest it should collapse.

Which, it didn't.  So everyone lined up for their turn.  

Of course, Elisabeth refuses to ever be left out of anything that looks remotely fun or dangerous.

Like daughter, like mother?

The only catch is that to make it safe enough for the youngest kids, us big kids had to learn how to pull ourselves up.  
 But once they got it down,  I bet you can guess where the weekend was spent.
Despite 100 degree temperatures
And an ongoing stomach bug
Yes, it was under the trees, swinging from a cable.  Saturday morning, as Allen and I sat under the umbrella and watched, they zipped until they had blisters.  Four hours that morning alone.  We laughed.  They laughed.  What fun!  I can't wait to see what fun they have when we have a few feet of snow on the ground!

Moms, are you tired and down in the dumps?  Overwhelmed by the many responsibilities running a home and guiding the children can bring?  Be discouraged no more!  Leave your work and go outside with your kids.  Watch them play for a while.  It will lift your spirits immeasurably.  Better yet, get out there and join in the fun.  You will be amazed at how energized you feel.

June 28, 2010

Outside Kids

Once my mother-in-law was telling my husband about the week two of their other grand kids came to stay with them during the summer.  She said they just watched television and played video games.  Allen asked why they weren't out in the garden with Pappy or helping to mow the grass.  His mom's response was, "Oh, Allen, they're not outside kids like you all were!"

Ever since then, we always laughingly comment about our outside kids.  There really is no better way to describe them.  Even if they have an inside activity they want to do, like reading, they find a nice outside location under a tree, in the woods, beside the pool, in the garden and do it.

The other day, it was HOT.  99 was the official temperature.  We started the morning collecting bugs and the next thing I knew, the kids were all up a tree.

What's a mother to do?  I got the camera and took lots of pictures.
Handed them water and a box of crackers when they needed a snack
Read aloud when they requested
And the rest of the day?  (Yes, they stayed up there almost the entire day) I got my own book and sat below.  After all it was much cooler.  If I have learned anything in the years I've been at this parenting business it would be this... "if you can't beat them, join them.  They are probably having more fun than you would anyway."

June 27, 2010

I Really Love...

... the way my kids play.  When I was a kid we played dolls, rode bikes, kicked around the creek and played the occasional game of kickball, football, basketball or whatever sport was in season.  However, I have never had a good imagination.  Play that required such bored me to tears.  I had a friend who had little horses and always wanted to "play horses".  Only, I never got the point of pretending to act out a story with little plastic horses.  Oh, so very boring. 

Somewhere down the line, my kids managed to get some great imagination.  As their mother, sitting in on their games is like reliving my child hood all over again.  But more fun. 

Take for example this tent they built out of a discarded patio umbrella and some old sheets.  On Monday it housed the sons of Jacob as the Israelites camped in the dessert.  Tuesday it was the Creation Response Team on a new adventure to dispel evil and defend the name of Creation Science.  Friday, the Boxcar Children resided there.
Who knows maybe tomorrow a band of gypsies will make their home their or Robin Hood and his merry men.  Whatever the fun, I'm glad I'm along for the ride. 

June 26, 2010

When You Are The Mother of Boys...

...Who have their father's romantic spirit and giving heart... you might find something like this on your bedside table when you retire for the night.  A pail from the sand box with this sweetly written note.  

And you might lift the bucket and find nothing underneath and wonder why your thoughtful son left you an empty bucket. 

If you happened to be really sleepy, you would probably go to kiss him goodnight and say thank you for the surprise on my night table and then go to bed yourself.  If he was really sleepy (and by the time you get them still enough to get into their beds, aren't all little boys sleepy?)  he might forget that you came to tell him thank you. 

Sometime during the night, you might wake up with something crawling up your arm and for a brief moment jump before grabbing it, handing it to your hubby to toss out the door and then rolling over and go back to sleep. 

Over breakfast the next day, your precious benefactor might just ask you, "How did you like your surprise, Mama?"  Perhaps you'd say, "Don't you remember that I came in to kiss you goodnight and told you thank you?" 

But he was sleepy so he didn't remember much and so he asks you again.  "Did you like the lightening bug I left under the bucket for you?" 

Family Photo Shoot 2010

She had so much fun doing the 2011 photo video, that Brianna decided to put together one with our 2010 photo shoot.  Now, I am going to have to put her to work with all those old VHS tapes of family home videos.  You know what I mean.  The ones with hours of recording and 5 minutes worth watching.  Oh, come on, you can not tell me yours are all interesting and put together and in focus, too?  I feel so inadequate!

Anyway, here it is, if you have nothing better to do.  Have fun!

Photo Shoot 2010 from Näna on Vimeo.

June 25, 2010

So Many Questions...

... So little time

Just teasing.  It did seem like people sent me a lot of questions this week.  So I thought in lieu of a post, I would actually answer a few of them today, for a change.

Kat:  Cheeseburger Cookies... see this post... and recipe coming soon.

We did not get the exact same machine because that model is no longer available.  As we always do when making a major purchase, we just got the consumer reports recommended machine, which happened to be an LG... and yes, so far, I am happy with it.  It works for one thing, and you can't beat that!

Rachel:  Here you are!

Jen T., Renee, and others who asked about my new blog look...Isn't it fabulous???  I was hijacked by my HTML loving daughter, Brianna.  She writes code for kicks, go figure.  So whenever you see a new look here, that's because she has been playing around and wanted to try something out.  She designs blogs for fun... but has a waiting list.  Those who are interested or need help could leave a note and I'll have her contact you. 

Heather:  That is Kaitlin, not Brianna, (don't feel bad, everyone mixes them up) wearing my skirt.  And I LOVE that skirt.! I let Kaitlin borrow it for the pictures, but I wear it at least once a week.  It is so feminine and comfortable and airy. 

Laura:  Billy Joel, what else can one say?

Heidi:  Oh, dear Canuck... we miss you, too, friend.  Even those kids who've not met you ask about their Aunt Heidi... We need to do something about that one of these day.

Thanks for your well wishes to the sick kids... the 24 hour virus has last 10 days now... just when I think they feel better they start complaining of terrible stomach cramps again... weird thing, especially because only some of them got it... which is a blessing for sure.

Mocha Momma:  Good to see you girl...

Amy:  Can't wait to check out your hubby's blog when I have a moment to breathe...

Lorus:  How is your Bible reading going?

All those who commented about gifts:  I am glad to see I am not alone!  Love the coupon idea... maybe we should boycott or something?☺

Jess:  I am doubly with you... 9 of us in 1800 square feet that we've been renovating for 8 years... no room for STUFF!  If it doesn't serve a purpose it goes to good will or eBay.

Notorious J.O.E.  I am with you!  People take far too lightly the Bible that they choose to read.

To all those who read You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover:  I do hope you didn't think I was complaining... in fact I thought it was so amusing that our family talked about it much over the last four days.  I just thought it was a neat story and was very pleased with the way both companies handled it.

Gabby:  I like they way you referred to our washing machines as our dear servants.  If you look at it like that $1000 for 6 years of service isn't bad at all!!!  Imagine if I'd washed all that by hand or with a ringer like my mother in law?  What a bargain, I got!  You know and when I think of it like that, I think well all proper servants have great names... any suggestions ladies... I think at least the washer and dryer should get a name of their very own.  On that thought, the dishwasher runs at least three times a day around here... perhaps she deserves a name, too.  I will entertain suggestions... leave them in the comment and I'll let you all know what we choose!

Amy:  My brother Frank is 40, I am 38, my sister, Diann is 36 (37 July 6) and we in fact have a younger brother, Dan, who lives in New Jersey so wasn't with us this Sunday.  In fact the last time we were all together was in 2007 when my sister graduated and the time before that was 2000.  The times we do get all four of us together are pretty special and too few and far between.

June 24, 2010

Little Moments, Big Memories

Forever In Blue Jeans

I am joining Carin at Forever in Blue Jeans for her weekly challenge to get mom in the picture.  If you've not been in the picture this week, it's not too late!  Here's my four step plan to recovery.  1-Grab the camera 2- grab a kid 3- take a shot 4-post it!  You can't ask for easier than that.  I can't wait to see you in the picture.

This week we start with teaching Ellie how to make Cheeseburger Cookies.
Taking a minute to cuddle Elisabeth and Gabriel.
It was already past his bedtime the evening that Di and Gabriel arrived.  All of the cousins couldn't wait for his bath to be over to get a peak at their newest little buddy.  They all crowded in the tub and around to say hello.
Diann took this one Sunday morning before going to church.
My dad snapped this one Sunday at lunch.  You will see me, Diann and our oldest brother, Frank.
Relaxing Sunday afternoon when we got home from lunch.

Catching fireflies with the kids Monday night to celebrate the longest day of the year.
Brianna took this, but I am not sure why... but you know who it is.☺
Until Next Week,

June 23, 2010

So Long Old Friend

I still remember the day you came to me, all shiny and new, like one of our newborn babies.  How excited I was to wash all the piles of laundry that had accumulated with three babies as we awaited your arrival.  How efficiently and quietly you went about your work! 

Yes, we've had some good times, you and I.  Remember all the times you washed our newborn clothes and blankets in preparation for our latest arrival?  Or how about the curtains and linens you washed as we got ready for special guests?

You've seen me through some tough times, too.  All the sleepless nights you washed while I folded and ironed.  The longs days and weeks you kept things fresh while the family suffered through countless stomach bugs.  Don't forget the time coffee spilled all over the down comforter and pillows.  It looked like a dark moment but in an hours time, you had everything as good as new.

You've worked hard, indeed.  4,368 loads.  39,312 socks.  2,808 towels, give or take a few.  2,496 sets of sheets.  Countless pairs of jeans, skirts, dresses and pajamas. 

And yet, you are gentle enough to handle my hand wash only and dry clean items like a mother handling her newborn baby. 

There were times when it was touch and go.  But you got back up and fought the good fight for us with no regard for your own suffering.  Do you remember when you started leaking water on the floor?  But yet, you kept on going until the very end.  Tending to our families needs up until the very last moment when your replacement arrived. 

Well done my good and faithful servant.  It's been good knowing you. 

June 22, 2010

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover

I like to keep a small Bible for carrying in my purse and taking with us to worship.  With nine Bibles going back and forth and on outings, it can get quite cumbersome to take everyone's full size along for the ride.  I've had my little pocket Bible for quite a number of years now but all the back and forth and being tossed about in the family church bag has taken its toll.  A good bit of Genesis has disappeared along with most of the book of Revelation.

About a year ago, I started searching for a new one.  As the pages have disappeared, so my vision has faded in the last ten years or so.  I find it just about impossible to read the tiny print of my compact any longer.  I wanted one that was small enough to travel with me with big enough print that I could actually read it.  Not too much to ask, is it???

About a month ago, my dad came to Bible study with a new Bible he had found on a recent shopping expedition.  After a year of searching, here was exactly what I had been looking for.  Hooray for me!  Right then and there Allen pulled out his blackberry and searched Amazon.  He came up with the same edition with this beautiful cover.

Well, Allen liked mine so much, and his travel Bible was not in very good shape either, so for Father's Day, I ordered him this beautiful Men's version.

Now, let me put in a little plug for why I love Amazon.com.  I ordered this Bible last Monday around 4:00.  Tuesday morning, when I got up at 6 am, it was already in our front door!  Plus, we are members of Amazon Prime so we don't pay a penny extra for that super fast shipping.  And the customer service is superb.  When ever I need to return or exchange something, them email me a shipping label and the UPS man stops to pick it up.  Easy as that!  For a girl who hates shopping, that's a deal.  By the way, in case you were wondering, their prices are usually competitive or less than other online shopping sources, too.  But that's not the point of this post.

So, here's the deal.  It arrived looking like this.  Note that both the spine and the slip case are marked KJV/King James Version.  I wanted to get it wrapped and tucked away before Allen got home so I quickly flipped to the dedication page, wrote and inscription and wrapped it up for safe keeping.  

On Father's Day, he was thrilled to see his new Bible and put it with our bag we take to church. As we settled into the preaching, he turned to the first verse Pastor was reading.  Hebrews 11:8.  "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." 

Then to the second.  Genesis 12:1 " Now the LORD had said to Abram:  Get out of your country,  From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you."

By the time we got to Genesis 12:3 Allen started looking at me funny.  Then he picked up Samuel's Bible and looked up the verse we had just read.  It was different then what was in his Bible. 

And that's when he flipped to the title page and saw this. 

He tapped me and showed me what it said.  I instantly felt awful thinking I must have ordered the wrong one.  Then I picked it up and started looking at it and saw clearly that the the cover said King James Version.  I began to assume that it must have said something about it in the description and I was in a hurry and missed it.  After all that "new" is an awfully small word. 

It was driving me nuts, so as soon as we got in from lunch, I went to Amazon and checked it out.  Nothing about it being New King James.  In fact, it clearly stated all over the title and description that it was the King James Version. 

I sent an email to Amazon explaining the situation and asking for an exchange for the correct Bible.  That was four o'clock Sunday evening.  In the meantime, I figured they were going to tell me that it was only available in the New King James Version, so I popped over to the Thomas Nelson website to see if there was something similar available.

What I found was only one Bible that had that cover and it clearly was listed as a King James Bible.  I called Allen in to look, just to confirm that I wasn't losing my mind.  He suggested writing the company and asking them about it.  So I did.  I typed an email to Nelson and explained the whole thing, again.  And here's what happened.

Monday morning, UPS shows up to pick up the first Bible for return to Amazon.  The only catch is no one had emailed back to say if I could still exchange it since I had already inscribed it.  I explained the situation to my friendly UPS carrier, yes we are on a first name basis on account of the fact that I hate to shop.  ☺   He said, no big deal.  Hang on to the package and he would stop back on Tuesday when it was all straightened out.

A little while later, a carrier arrived with a new Bible from Amazon.  Now how do you like that?  Less than 24 hours later they have sent some one to pick up the old one and delivered me a new one!  A whole lot more pleasant than waiting in line at a return counter for some unfriendly sales person to handle the exchange for me.  I opened the package and it looked identical to the first one except for the title page.

 After comparing a number of verses, we were all convinced it was the correct edition.

Oh, and just so Amazon doesn't get a bad wrap.  I said they didn't email me back, but they had.  It went to Allen's email address since the account is in his name.  Which he didn't check until Monday evening.  Sure enough, if the reply didn't come in Sunday evening.  They said to send the first Bible back for a refund.

Monday afternoon, my telephone rings and who do you think it is calling?  A very friendly woman with a deep southern drawl calling from Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville, Tennessee.  Well, they were so interested in this Bible she said.  It sounded as if the wrong title page was put in it.  I explained that no, we had compared many verses with our King James Bible and indeed it was definitely not a King James Bible.  

Well, she said, they would like to have it so they could check it out and find out what happened.  Would I be kind enough to send it to them.  They would gladly send Allen another Bible for his trouble.  The only catch she said is that edition is on back order, as are all the other editions in that type of soft leather cover.  Would it be alright to send a plain genuine leather instead?

Now, note let's examine that for a minute.  Amazon had only 2 copies available when I placed that order.  As far as I can figure, we know had their last two remaining copies in our hands.  Thomas Nelson had none available as they had all been sold.  That means that a large number of these Bibles were in circulation and no one had noticed the error before now.  I will spare you the commentary on that, but think about it for a minute.

Anyway,  I was more than willing to send it to her, the only catch being that Amazon was waiting for the return in order to credit my account for the second copy.  Which brings me back to Amazon.  Allen had a pleasant phone call with a young gentleman at customer service, who after hearing the whole story, assured us that they trusted we were telling the truth and that we should return the Bible to the publisher.  Amazon would gladly refund our account.

All that is summed up like this... Amazon and Thomas Nelson are both delightful companies to do business with.  And there is truth in the old cliche we heard growing up:  You truly can not judge a book by its cover.

June 21, 2010

How Sad...

For his birthday, my folks gave Samuel this model to build. I wish I had taken a picture of the kit to show you what it looked like.  It was about the size of an 8X10 sheet of paper but made out of some very thin wood.  Their were a million little pieces  all attached to the wooden frame.  Ideally, you were supposed to punch the pieces out and then they would slide together to make this Ferrari you see in the picture. 

Except that... the pieces wouldn't come out of the frame.  They weren't cut all the way through and no matter how we tried to remove them with razor knife, fingers or butter knife they wouldn't come out except those that broke in the process.  As we were trying to get the pieces out, Brianna was trying to glue the broken pieces back together. 

And if that wasn't bad enough, read these instructions...

I don't know about a six year old, but this college educated grown woman and my two grown daughters couldn't figure it out.  I ended up so frustrated, that I THREW IT IN THE TRASH and told Samuel I would buy him any model he wanted if he didn't insist we spend one more minute on that.

How sad could it be for five year old Sam to be so excited about his birthday present and then have it so poorly and cheaply made it must go in the trash? 

I hate to sound ungrateful but I have seen this happen far too often in my 18 years of birthdays and Christmases as a parent.  When people ask what would the children like for such and such.  We tell them one of two things.  He'd really like to do this or that with you.  The girls have always wished to just spend some time with their grandmother's baking or sewing.  Yet, no matter how many times I've said that over the years, not once has anyone taken me seriously. 

Or we tell them something the child would really like or need.  For a year, when Nathaniel was about five he wanted a new pair of galoshes.  Both sets of grandparents asked me what he would like and I shared this request.  Do you think they got him galoshes????  No.  They are inexpensive and easy to come by.  Finally, his Aunt got him a pair for his birthday.  You would have thought he was a miner finding gold.  For the last three years he has happily crammed his too big feet into those rain boots every time a storm left some promising puddles.  Now that was a gift he enjoyed. Even when they finally fell apart from serious wear and we had to throw them away, he still remembered the giver and that birthday with fondness.

And yet, people seldom take my advice.  Instead the kids end up with piles of things that they don't care about or things like this that which quickly break and end up in the trash.  Note to those giving gifts to children.  Instead of giving them something they won't be able to enjoy, offer to help them with a hobby or teach them something new instead.  Take them out for ice cream or read a book with them.  It'll last much longer than these disappointing widgets imported from China and you will be investing in your relationship with someone who looks up to you.  Tying heart strings that will last a lifetime.

Yes, if you ask me, forget China and watch a video together instead.   

June 20, 2010

On My Windowsill

Nathaniel cut these in my garden yesterday and lined them up in the jelly glasses.  The kids love to add food coloring to watch the daisies change color.  When I came to the kitchen this morning, my eyes instantly settled on the light shining through the colored water.  But even without the color, I love the nostalgia of jelly glasses and flowers in the kitchen window. 

June 19, 2010

Just a Normal Week...

Wondering where I've been? First, I've been trying out new bread recipes. You know how much I love to bake. During the school year, I was too busy to bake as much as I normally do in the winter. I seldom bake in the summer because it gets too hot here to turn the oven on. But with the cool rainy days we've had, I've been baking up a storm. Don't worry, you'll be getting some great new recipes to try... like this Vermont Cheese Bread.

And these Cheeseburger Cookies...
Aren't they adorable?  Then there was the getaway with my hubby... 
That didn't happen after all... 
Because the kids came down with a stomach bug...  just in time for my sister and nephew to arrive from Italy...
Do you all remember them from my trip last fall?  And since then, we've just been visiting...
And catching up...
And getting the cousins acquainted... 
And that's where you will find us for the next 6 weeks.  Happily making this little one part of our family and enjoying the sweet fellowship with my sister and her hubby. 


June 18, 2010

Just For Fun

We have a friend who happens to be a very talented photographer. See the photos on my sidebar for a sampling. Last evening, we met at a local battlefield so she could do some family portraits and then moved to historic Harper's Ferry where she took lots of graduation photos of Kaitlin.

Neither Allen nor I could remember the last time we'd been to Harper's Ferry, even though it is just a short drive from our home, so we had fun walking around and looking at the historic buildings. It was hot and VERY humid but we were grateful that the storm didn't hit until we were about ten minutes into our ride home.

Anyway, we thought Susan looked so cute laying in the grass with the girls that Allen grabbed the camera.

And once I had it I snapped a few more. 
 The kids were so fascinate by the old barn and especially a little opening underneath of it.

Ellie and Sam thought the little chairs Susan had brought along were rather fun, also. 
 Can you see Aedan on the ground behind them peaking into that same hole?
It was just a fun little time of playing around together.  Our evening wrapped up with a wonderful rain storm which required a video and sandwiches cuddled on the couch in the family room... just being together. 

You can see the results of the shoot at Susan's blog, Just Photos.