Beach Fun


 Over the weekend we made a trip to the nearest state park to enjoy the beach. I'm glad my husband asked this question earlier in the day: "If we made a list of 50 free fun things to do as a family, what would we put on our list?" Thinking that through reminded me that we already paid a few months ago for an annual pass to the state park... so why haven't we gone at all this summer?!

We took along a few water toys and a beach ball. Good idea!

I am not in a single photo, so you'll just have to take my word for it - I was there and I did get in the water!

Puddle Fun


A day or two ago we got a wonderful gift - RAIN! 
And lots of it! 

We have a ditch in our backyard and you can see how full of rain water it was.

After a very dry month, we are so thankful for a good soaking rain!

Rain = puddles. 

Puddles + kids = fun 

So I was a good mom this week. I said "yes" when they asked to go outside to play in the water. I said "sure" when they asked if they could run, jump and splash in the huge puddle. I said "no way" when they asked to come back into the house, covered with mud. I said "play longer" so they would get it all out of their system. The puddle fun lastly an hour before they were done (and before I was prepared to hose them off, strip them down and carry them to the bath tub). 

Total cost = nothing

My kids' memories of puddle fun = precious

Extended Family Get-Together


Last Friday night we had an extended family get-together that was a TON of fun. This was my husband's side of the family. Some cousins were visiting from New York state. Some local relatives own a bed-and-breakfast nearby so they hosted the big group. We all pitched in and enjoyed a potluck supper together. 

The weather was gorgeous, so we enjoyed time outside in the large yard. 

One local family brought some puppies and kittens for the kids to play with. These were more fun than any toy could ever be! All of the kids were ready to take a puppy or kitten home by the end of the evening.  

Here's my niece Jasmine with 3 kittens napping on her lap. 

A group shot of second cousins - Jasmine, Hannah and Lydia.

First cousins who rarely see each other, but love hanging out when they get the chance - Sheila and Heidi.

My daughter loves furry animals, but since I'm allergic she doesn't often get to handle them this much. She was adoring this puppy.

Another cousin that we love and need to get together with more often - Merry (believe it or not, her claim to fame is that she is married to Joseph).

And another cousin that we rarely see but really enjoy hanging out with - Suzy. Although she's my husband's cousin, she and I worked together one summer at camp, so I know her fairly well.

The best thing about this side of the family is the laughter. Nobody in this group takes themselves seriously. They all are hilarious and serve to remind me to cut loose more often and enjoy the lighter side of life. 

Family - what a gift! 

Foreign Exchange Student - Week 4 and Good-bye


Our time with our foreign exchange student Sebastian is over. 

During the past week, the group of students enjoyed a beach day with a picnic lunch, ice skating at a local indoor rink, and an all-day trip to an amusement park. Last Saturday all of the host families and students got together for a farewell picnic. 

One evening, my daughter played "soccer" with Sebastian in the street, using a big bouncy ball. He loves soccer!

For our last supper with Sebastian, we headed to a local pizza restaurant. 

You can see that we're a very serious, no-fun-at-all type of family. :-)

Our last family picture with Sebastian.
And this morning we said good-bye!

 The 4 weeks passed very quickly and we were all sad to see Sebastian go. My daughter really bonded with him, so she was especially sad and teary.

It's been almost a year since we had our last foster children. The year that we spent fostering was difficult on our biological children. I have often wondered how deeply it scarred them. Seeing my daughter bond in a good, healthy way with Sebastian is part of the answer to that question. She is healing. She is still capable of loving someone and she is learning that sometimes in life you have to let go. 

Adios, Sebas!

Hands On Science


This week we did 2 fun science-type experiments that I want to share.

We received a "Resurrection Plant" and decided to try it out. It came all dried up in a box. You take it out and put it in water and watch it come back to life. Supposedly it can live for 50 years without water or sunlight. 

Well... here's the picture of what it looked like at the start, right out of the box and into water. Very dry and curled up like a tumbleweed. 

And here's a picture about 1 hour later, as it uncurled, revealing green leaves. Ours stayed at this stage, never moving beyond it to the third stage that the box claims it enters - growing more green leaves and shooting them over the side of the bowl. It's been many days and it's stayed at this stage - looking alive, but not growing yet. We'll see what it does. I may plant it and let it live in my daughter's room - then if she forgets to water it, no problem! It can live 50 years without water! :-)

We had some tornado-tube fun this week. A tornado tube is a connector that links two 2-liter bottles. When you fill one bottle 2/3 of the way with water, connect the tornado tube and then tip them upside down... the water forms a tornado as it empties into the other bottle. 

We had a lot of fun with this and have a book with dozens of different activities to do with the tornado tube bottles. One suggestion was to time how long it takes the water to empty from one bottle to another depending on the method. First, time how long it takes when you let the water empty one bottle with the "glub glub" method, the way it naturally empties. Secondly, time how long it takes when you make a tornado and let it empty that way. 

Any guesses as to the results? 

It took 12-15 seconds for the water to empty using the tornado method. It took 58-62 seconds for the water to empty using the old-fashioned glub-glub method. Fascinating!

How we enjoy hands-on science we can do at home!

Garden Update

 Our garden continues to give us a harvest. 

This week we've been eating plenty of green beans and a handful of cucumbers. 

My kids really like cucumbers. I peel and slice them down the middle. Then the kids dip them in ranch dressing and gobble them up.  

My daughter picked some of the green beans. She came running inside to show me the "natural velcro" that she found. The green bean leaves stick to clothes, like velcro. See the two stuck on her shirt? 

Gardens are such great places to explore and discover. The kids enjoy helping weed and water and pick. It's fun to be the one to discover the longest bean or the biggest cuke... and then eat your discoveries! 

Happy gardening!

Foreign Exchange Student - Week 3


It's already been 3 weeks since our foreign exchange student Sebastian came to America. 

We haven't seen a lot of Sebastian this week. He got together with some other students and host families a few evenings last week. One family invited him over to spend the night on Friday, so he did. He was gone all day Saturday with them. On Sunday he spent the day with us - church, resting at home, then out to eat for my husband's birthday. But that evening he was sick and didn't sleep well. But Monday morning he felt better and was able to make it to the regularly scheduled activities - classes and excursions. 

The group has enjoyed a local waterpark, went bowling, played on go-karts, went to another beach and today is enjoying a sports/game day.  

Each evening we ask Sebastian how his class went that day. They have a theme or topic that they discuss, totally in English. One day it was technology, one day it was careers. On Friday, it was superstitions because it was the 13th. One day they debriefed their trip to Shipshewana, where they witnessed the Amish way of life. We had a good discussion that night about Amish, technology, the pace of life, work. Sebastian said, though, that if he couldn't have his cell phone, he'd rather die! In that way, I don't think 18-year-olds in Spain are any different from teenagers in America!

Now the countdown is on. 
Next Monday we say our good-byes to Sebastian. 

Happy Birthday to My Man!


Yesterday was my husband's birthday.

I thank God for my man. I thank Him for the way He has redeemed my husband's life. 

To hear stories of his childhood reminds me of the work God has done to make him into the man he is today. 

He has come a long way, truly by the grace of God. 

Happy Birthday, my dear. 
I am blessed to walk this life with you!

Family Photo Friday


I can't believe how quickly this week flew by.
Another week is over and the weekend awaits!

On Fridays I always share some photos from our week. 

This lovely bird is a decoration that lives in my garden. My son put that lovely walnut shell on him for a hat. 
Adorable, I say.

We bought a new shower curtain last weekend. So I took the old one down and let the kids have fun with it before we threw it away. First, they used crayons to color on it which was fun for a few minutes. Then I made chocolate pudding and let them paint on it, which was fun for 30 minutes! 

It started off simple enough, with letters and small pictures. It ended with my son ice-skating on it (yes, he was stripped down to his undies to avoid stains on his clothes), using it more like a slip and slide. And of course he would stop often to eat the pudding too. Fun, fun, fun!

My kids helped make supper one night. They had way too much energy and needed something to keep their hands busy. So I pulled out a favorite chicken roll-up recipe and put them to work together. They loved helping and we all enjoyed eating the supper they prepared!  

Here are my silly kids playing dress up. My son with that big nose and glasses... totally cracks me up! 

We pulled out a 1000 piece puzzle this week and tackled it in about 5 days. We don't do big puzzles often, but once or twice a year I get an itch to do a puzzle. Yup, I'm weird like that. 

That's a glimpse into my week. 
May yours be as joyous and filled with memories in the making!

Happy Friday to you!

All American Baseball


What is more all-American than baseball and apple pie? 

Last weekend we were able to introduce our foreign exchange student Sebastian to both!

Our nephew is playing on Wisconsin's All-Star youth baseball team. Last weekend his team was playing in our area so we were able to make it to a game.

On Sunday my father-in-law had a retirement party. One of the many delicious items my mother-in-law prepared was apple pie. After the party, some was left over and sent home with us. So we've been enjoying apple pie all week!

All-American summer favorites - apple pie and baseball!

Garden Update


Our garden is producing its harvest and what a delight that is to witness!

Here's a shot of the garden from an upstairs window of our house. Everything is growing well, so lush and green.

Our lettuce is done now. We've dug what was left out of the garden. 

Our sweet peas with edible pods grew well but we found that we didn't really enjoy eating them. We did eat some. We shared some. And those are done now and also dug out of the garden. 

Currently we are enjoying the green bean harvest. Every-other-day we pick enough to have with our evening meal. They are delicious. 

Our cantaloups are growing bigger day by day.  We also have very small peppers and cucumbers starting to grow. It'll be another week or so before they are ready to eat, but they are coming along nicely.

Our corn varies quite a bit, with some just knee-high and others much taller. Here my daughter is with one of the tallest stalks.

I had a few flowers given to me on Mother's Day. We planted those in the garden amongst the veggies. Love the splash of pink and purple in with all the green. 

 My purpose in posting these updates is two fold. You get to see the progress (and be a vicarious gardener, if you wish) and I have a record (including pictures) of how the garden did this year. That will come in handy next spring when I'm planning the garden and look back at my tips, tricks and suggestions from this year. 

That's my mid-summer garden update.

Foreign Exchange Student - Week 2

Another week with our foreign exchange student Sebastian has already passed. 

My daughter has enjoyed reading some books with him. He reads and she helps out with any words he doesn't know.  She has done really well with him, trying to communicate both in English and some in Spanish.

She's taught him how to play Cootie. He wasn't so impressed with that game.

And we worked on a puzzle of the 50 states. He was familiar with only 10-15 states. A few days later they talked about the states in his English class, so the puzzle would good preparation. 

He had two days off of classes last week, due to the 4th of July holiday. On one of his days off, I arranged for him to play tennis with my niece (the only person I know who plays tennis). Sebastian really likes tennis, so he was glad to have an opportunity to play. When classes resumed, they visited nearby Potato Creek State Park, went shopping at an outlet mall, and headed east to visit Amish country in Shipshewana.

Last weekend Sebastian went out for ice cream with another host family. One evening, we enjoyed swimming at the pool of some neighbors after the 100+ degree heat of the day. He also has gone with us to church, which is apparently quite different from anything he's known in Spain. My husband's father also had a retirement party last Sunday, so Sebastian was able to participate in that - both the party and the clean-up afterwards. 

Sebastian's visit is half over. 2 weeks down and 2 weeks to go before he returns to Spain.