Field Trip: RV Museum


Elkhart, Indiana is known as the RV capital of the world. One day this week the kids and I went on a field trip to the 

I can't explain it, but my kids have always been fascinated with RVs, motor homes, trailers and what they call "house on wheels." So once I learned about the RV Museum, I knew we'd end up there for a visit soon.

Having never seen the inside of an RV, my kids LOVED the museum. First stop, visit the hot-off-the-assembly-line top-of-the-line 2012 Winnebago Vista! 
Talk about luxury!  There were no other visitors to the museum while we were there, so we pretended to be living in the motor home for a while. Both kids took turns driving. And we closed all the curtains to pretend it was nighttime, figuring out where each family member would sleep. Both kids were convinced we should sell our house to buy the motor home. 

There was also a new pull-behind trailer to look at. Here are the kids on the bed of that trailer.

We did enjoy the walk through RV history, as the museum houses dozens of old style RVs from the 1930s on up. Some of these are roped off and can't be entered, but most were accessible. How fun to see the way things have changed in the RV world, from layouts to decor to size and styles. 

The museum is in a beautiful building. Outside the grounds are also gorgeous, so we stopped by one of the fountains on our way out.   

Overall, a good trip. If nothing else it satisfied my kids' curiosity and allowed us to dream. And sometimes it's good to visit those places that are "in your own backyard" just because they are in your own backyard! But I'd like to think we learned a little along the way as we walked and talked through history.

If you're headed to northern Indiana, stop by for a visit. My kids' only suggestion to make it better: have a few more of those brand new motor homes for us to check out! 

Happy Anniversary!


Such beautiful memories of my wedding day. 
Smiling so much my mouth hurt. 
Gorgeous flowers. Beautiful balloons. 
Surrounded by loved ones.
Pledging my life to the man I love. 

How I treasure the memories of that special day! 
This Sunday marks 12 years since that day.

Some years are full of greatness and mountain peaks. 
Other years are marked with suffering and journeying through valleys. The past year has been a valley kind of year for us. Suffering. Pain. Grief. Heartache. 

And yet, we are together. 
And although we wouldn't have chosen this difficult path for ourselves, we are stronger for having walked it together. 

This is what we pledged to one another. 
Faithfulness. In good times and bad. 
Love. In joy and in sorrow.
Sharing hopes and dreams, even when they are dashed.

How very thankful I am for you, dear husband of mine! 
Happy Anniversary!

Abuse and Foster Care


It's been many months since I've written a post on fostering. Recently some things have brought it back to the front of my mind.   

There's been a high profile abuse case in northern Indiana lately. It involved a father who just today was found guilty of abusing 3 of his children and of killing one of them, a 10-year-old boy. The abuse involved a big stick, a hot iron, duct tape used to tie them up... just sickening to even hear about this type of abuse and even worse to know it was the children's own father who was the abuser. 

While it seems that justice has been served, with the abuser being found guilty and likely spending the rest of his life in prison, so many questions remain unanswered. 

Teachers saw the scars on the children and reported the abuse to CPS (Child Protective Services). CPS investigated and visited the home at least twice, according to the news reports. And yet, the children remained in the home with their abusive father. Why? 

What did the father say and do that convinced the social workers that he was safe, that the home was safe? How could such abuse go on for months or years without someone speaking up? A grandmother lived in the house. There is a case against her, since she did nothing to report or stop the abuse (which was presume she was aware of). How does she live with herself?

As a former foster mom and someone who has been a part of "the system" that is in place to protect children, I have other questions too. How overworked were the social workers involved in this case? I heard from almost every case worker we had about how busy they were, how little time they had to return calls or make home visits. "I'm sorry. I'll get back with you when I can. I'll get to it, I promise."

In some terrible way, I saw this coming. When we became foster parents, our state of Indiana was in a transition and trying to achieve a balanced budget. Many services were cut. One area that was cut was CPS / foster care. I don't want to argue the pros and cons of budget cuts. I know that tough decisions have to be made some times in order to reign in out-of-control spending. And I'm not making a political statement. I'm simply pointing out that since becoming involved with foster care two years ago, we learned that in Indiana case workers are strongly encouraged to keep children in the home. While in many states in America, having a foster parenting license is a practical guarantee of having foster children in your home whenever you want them, Indiana is the opposite. There are an abundance of foster parents in Indiana and they are not being utilized because it is less expensive to keep children in their homes and provide "wrap around services" (like counseling, etc) than to pay for foster care. 

So somehow this situation didn't seem severe enough to the case workers involved to pull the children from that home. Did they see the scars? Did they ask the kids? If only they had probed deeper, had time to investigate further.

I just wonder how many foster parents would've gladly taken in this 10-year-old boy and provided him with a safe, loving home while his abusive father got the help he needed. Instead the foster homes stood empty and the boy remained with his father. He died.

It's a sad, sad story all around. One child dead. Two young boys testifying in court of their father's abuse. A grandmother who stood by and did nothing. CPS workers who tried but failed in this case. The system failed this boy.

I don't have the answers. I only have lots of questions... and some guilt, as one who was part of "the system" in place to prevent situations like these. A system meant to save children. 

I know, though, that no human system can save us from our evil selves. Yet somehow we hope in the system to do some good. In this case, the good will be for the two surviving children.

I welcome your thoughts. How could we fix the system? What could've been done in this situation to save the boy's life?

Lastly, let me encourage you to make a call to the Abuse Hotline if you EVER suspect abuse or neglect is happening. In Indiana, that number is 1-800-800-5556. 

Summer Hair


Summer and its 90-degree temps have arrived. 
That means time for summer hair, at least for my boy. 



Much cooler for the little man. And I think he looks wonderful with a buzz!

Happy Summer!

Family Photo Friday


Friday has arrived once again. The month of May is half past and summer seems to have arrived! 

Here are a few photos from our week. 

My son is quite the helper around the house. How thankful I am for him! My kids enjoy the swingset in the backyard. 

Here they are both standing up and swinging as high as they can go! Hold on tight! 

My son (yes, he's wearing an awesome shirt that says COOL LIKE DAD), showing off some of his toys.

My daughter and husband and pet bird Weezy.

The kids have enjoyed having their bikes out more now that the weather has turned beautiful. My daughter loves the new "adult" bike she got for Christmas.

My son is riding the bike with training-wheels like a pro.

Lots of hours were spent outside this week, playing, planting and watering our garden, going for bike rides in their neighborhood, playing with neighbor kids, etc. We're all glad it's summer! 

Happy Friday to you!

Review of 3rd grade


It's the end of 3rd grade for my daughter! We school year-round and started 3rd grade late last May. And as of this week, we've completed 180 days of school and all of the coursework for our curriculum!

Just like so many things, it seems like it both flew by and crawled by at the same time!

  Here are a few pictures from our school year. 

Mable painting.
A field trip to a local county park to study edible plants.

 Lots of coloring and drawing, especially with all of those American Girl lapbooks she completed this year!

 A first: trip to Chicago to the American Girl store

 Lots of reading. Here it's a science book for school. 

 Another first: roller-skating

 Our grow-some-germs experiment. 
Still a bit grossed out by that one!

 A science project, weighing bean sprouts.

Trip to the beach last summer - yes, even this can be educational! 

 A craft project at Easter time.


 Visiting Clifford at the local library.

I can't believe this was only a year ago - she looks so much younger! Playing outside with sand and dirt.

Field trip to House on the Rock in Wisconsin last summer.


With a frog in our yard. 

A favorite place to read - on the swing.

More reading. She is a bookworm! 

My, how she's grown in just one year! It's so fun to look back and see the ways she's growing up physically but also to know all that she's learned this year - learning about the Revolutionary War and understanding both sides of that conflict, learning multiplication facts and how to make change with money, studying how plants grow, learning to write in cursive. What a privilege to learn right alongside of her and be the one to introduce her to new people, places and ideas!

Congratulations, young lady, on finishing up our best homeschool year yet! I can't wait to see what 4th grade has in store!

A New View of Mother's Day


Mother's Day 2012 was a bit of a blur for me. 

My daughter and I were camping from Friday night until early Sunday morning. My husband and son arrived at camp to pick us up at 8:00 am. We packed up and said good bye, heading out of camp by 8:30. Then we were home for about 1 hour - to shower and clean up for church. Then off to church and back home for a quick lunch. Nap time was a must for all of us! So it was mid-afternoon before I was in any state to really enjoy Mother's Day :-)

My husband had a bouquet of spring flowers welcoming me back from camping. 
My daughter had made a few crafty gifts for me. 

And my son had a huge hug and a heart-felt "You're the best Mom I ever had!" to share with me.  

A few years ago, if I'd been gone camping with my daughter for the weekend, I would've had a long list of expectations when we arrived back home. I would've expected my husband to have done everything I would normally do - do dishes, clean up the kitchen, do a load or two of laundry, pick up toys, vacuum, etc. In reality, he had done very little of that. He had tried to make the weekend special for my son, as he enjoyed his time with just Dad. The house was a bit of a disaster zone. But you know what? I was ok with that. Do you know what that disaster zone said to me on this Mother's Day? It spoke volumes and said clearly: You are needed, Mom! 

My husband can do the best he can do (and he does!) 
but he can't replace Mom. 
I am needed at my house. 
I am needed in my family. 
Just like I tell each of my children, each of us has a unique place in our family's life. Without any one of us, things would be drastically different. We need each other. And this year on Mother's Day, I truly felt that. 

One more reflection on Mother's Day 2012. I have 2 more children this year than I did last Mother's Day. Since I'd been busy with camping all weekend, I hadn't really prepared myself or considered that Mother's Day might be emotional. It hit me at church as we were singing. 
This Mother's Day is different for me. 
In the last year, I've been pregnant twice. 
In the last year, I've buried two babies. 
Being a mom is a privilege. How I don't want to take even one day for granted! How I know that God wants to do a work in my heart to make me more like Him, which would make me a better mother. I've grown a lot in the last year - despite the circumstances, through the circumstances, maybe because of the circumstances. Although I have a long way to go, I have grown as a mom. Parenting is a sanctifying process. This Mother's Day, I'm thankful for the privilege.

Girl Scout Camporee 2012


Last weekend was Girl Scout Camporee. This is an annual event for the service unit (the bigger group that includes dozens of local troops). Over 130 girls took part in the weekend. Our troop had 13 girls take part in staying 1 night, 2 nights or just for the day on Saturday. I chaperoned the event along with our troop leader and co-leader. Camporee was held at a local camp where I worked for 4 years so I was well acquainted with the facilities. 

 Some troops learned archery. 

Other troops - like ours - learned canoeing. 
This was a highlight for my daughter. 
The girls spent 45 minutes on the lake in the canoes. 
I stayed on the shore and took pictures. 
I bet their arms were sore!  Mine weren't :-)

Our troop made a flag banner together. This is the only group shot I got and it doesn't include everybody, unfortunately.

Tire swings are fun.

Hiking on the trails, each girl hauled her own backpack and gear for the day.

One of our younger girls ready to set out for the day.

 We went for a few short hikes in the woods. 


  The girls enjoyed playing tetherball on the beach. 

There was a carnival theme for Camporee 2012. Each troop came up with a carnival type of game (ring toss, pin the tail on the donkey, tight rope walking on something like a balance beam, etc) for all the girls to play. We enjoyed a campfire, complete with smores. And of course the girls wanted to stay up late, telling jokes and talking. 

It was an exhausting weekend for me, as an adult. Yet, it is a joy to introduce a new generation to the camping experience. 

On Being a Lumberjack

My son, my son. 

Our next-door neighbors recently had some very big trees taken down in their backyard. My boy loves all things related to construction, demolition or "cutter downers" (as he refers to lumberjacks and tree work). For this project, they had to bring in a large bucket truck, to reach the tall trees.

Our power lines were cut prior to their work, so they could access the trees more easily. We spent almost the entire span of the next 10 hours watching them work (granted, without power our choices were limited, but...). My son was completely captivated and grabbed his toy chain saw to pretend that he was doing the same work on our trees.

What a fun way to spend a day, watching our the landscape change drastically and watching my boy's imagination run wild! 

Yes, that's my boy! 
The cutest cutter-downer lumberjack workerman I know!

The Zoo


It was time for a trip to the zoo. 

My friend Leah (my old college roommate) and her kids (Ada, age 5; Gunnar, age 3; Waylon, age 1) and my clan get together about once a month. Sometimes we head her direction and do fun things in her area. And sometimes vice versa. This time she headed my way and we went to the local zoo. 

So we enjoyed our trip to the zoo. We saw the usual lions, tigers, zebras and leopards. Even though we were surrounded by exotic and exciting animals, the favorite part of the zoo for the kids is... the zoo train! 

This zoo is perfect because you can take it all in within the 2 hour time limit of our children. Are your kids like that? After about 2 hours of anything, it's time to move on. 

My daughter is 8 now and is officially not a little kid any more. The zoo doesn't thrill her like it used to, though she is a great helper now as we corral the littler kids. She also helped to pull the wagon (with another child or two in it) most of the time. What a champ!

Just for fun, here is the link to last year's blog post about our annual zoo trip.  I think it's fun to see how the kids have grown from year to year.