Six mile loop

IMG_20170506_192022647Long family bike rides! These long, cool spring evenings have been so great for bike riding! We get the whole gang on board and off we go! We’ve visited friends that live 11 miles away. The kids have ridden with Jeremie over 13 miles. Today we just did the 6 mile loop. This takes us along a back country road. Over a deep culvert, up some steep hills and through bendy twists and turns. IMG_20170506_193347167_HDRTime spent with family is so important. This is the time of relationship building. This is the time of showing what’s really important, what our priorities are. This is the time of enjoying God’s creation and reveling in his blessings and goodness in allowing us to live in the country. We are literally living our dream. HIs goodness knows no bounds!

Think of me

Do you love introducing your children to things that are special to you? I certainly do! I have very few vivid memories from my childhood, but what I do remember I love to share with my kids. Whether it’s stories of my late grandma hoarding spices in the pantry and always having a “wrinkled, but clean” kleenex in her purse or taking them to the campground in South Haven, Mi where I camped every summer as a child and picked blueberries and met their father, I delight in sharing these experiences with my kids. So I was beyond excited when Jeremie surprised me and the girls with tickets to see the Phantom of the Opera! I have seen this twice in Chicago. Once, as a girl, and once, with him. We couldn’t orchestrate a trip up north, but it was being put on at a concert hall in Birmingham, Al. IMG_20170406_121358999The girls had never been to Alabama before, either, so that was a fun adventure as well. I tell you, the sky is just bigger and more gorgeous in Alabama! So this performance of the “Phantom” was awesome! The music, the scenery, the music, the costumes, the music!!! We belted out the show tunes on the way home and have been singing them ever since. It’s really fun that I have the piano music so we can play and sing at the same time. I used to do that for hours with my cousins and friends when I was young. It was a long day, but it was filled with great music, lots of loud laughter, sister stories, mom memories, good food and lots of love! IMG_20170406_153123552

$1 well spent

IMG_5177I love looking for fun outside play ideas at the dollar store! Who knew a roll of tin foil could be so much fun? And it was such a thrill for the kids to get to use the entire roll! Little boats made out of bottle caps and corks. They used balloons to push their boats along faster. This was such a fun way to enjoy the beautiful spring weather!IMG_5183

Tenn-iversary

IMG_50677 years! We’ve learned so much these last 7 years that we’ve lived in Tennessee. We’ve laughed so much, and cried just as much. We’ve grown in so many ways. Children have been born here. Asian hillbillies, I call them. When I remember what life was like during this life transition, I can see how God is faithful and GOOD all. the. time. I remember calling my parents from my first trip to Tn to tell them that we bought land. I remember crying, because life would be so different, living in another state from them. No more walks to see the grandparents. No more quick ice cream visits. No more built in babysitters. No more homeschooling help. But this land, this was something Jeremie and I both wanted so much for our family. It has been such an adventure!  Raising animals and planting gardens and an orchard. Whew! What a learning curve. We could live here 100 years and still be learning and trying new things. Processing our own meat, rabbits, chickens, deer and pork.. Canning our garden bounty. When we lived in Illinois, we didn’t even have a pet. Our garden was a 4X8 box. Jeremie used to travel into the city for work everyday. The kids have grown and changed as well as Jeremie and I. Confidently herding animals. Showing sheep. Riding horses. Planting trees. This life has been so enriching for the kids, just like we prayed it would. When we first moved here, our oldest was only 11. She was a big helper, but I wouldn’t qualify her as a “big”, as she is now. These days I can breeze in and out of the grocery store, while she holds down the fort at home. Or better yet, drop her off to do the shopping, while I have coffee and visit with a friend. She knows all the brands and quantities I usually buy. I have 4 or 5 children that can babysit for me, if needed. Date nights have never been so fun! How did my life change so much in 7 years? Time flies too fast. IMG_5073

Baby boo-boos

IMG_4829I don’t know why, but my kids always have these weird skin reactions. Many of them are highly allergic to poison ivy, so most of the summer we battle that. But I don’t know what Charlotte got into lately. She has had a swollen face, itchy patches on her arms and legs for a couple days. She doesn’t have a fever or sore throat, so I can rule out scarlet fever, praise the Lord. We have been applying colloidal silver topically and internally, Noni cream and a salve I made out of goldenseal, frankincense, myrrh and beeswax.  I finally resorted to giving her Benadryl today. She just couldn’t get any rest because of the itching. After two doses the swelling has gone down and the itching has subsided. Not totally gone, but much better. We always avoid Benadryl because we were told years ago, that if we used it for an allergic reaction, the next time it was triggered, the reaction would be much worse. So even though I had reservations about giving it to her, I’m glad she has been able to rest a bit today. IMG_4803And I came home one day to this!  Boys + bikes + tow ropes + gravel driveway = sad Roo. She was quite traumatized by the ordeal, but is healing nicely.

Let’s get muddy!

IMG_4691One of my favorite things that Jeremie has made for me is the kids’ mud kitchen. I firmly believe in the necessity of outdoor, messy, creative play. According to this article, I’m not the only one who thinks that is important. IMG_4685

According to the Council for Learning, much greater importance and value should be placed on outside learning in the preschool years. They strongly support the hypothesis that outside learning fosters healthy and active lifestyle development. They believe it promotes a strong sense of well-being, freedom and independence; while simultaneously encourages respect of nature, the environment and animals.

On the menu...spring onion salad and last-of-the-winter-cabbage soup!

On the menu…spring onion salad and last-of-the-winter-cabbage soup!

Although It’s not only my preschool children who delight to concoct in the mud kitchen. We all, from Momma to baby, have been known to be mixing and simmering and cutting and dicing in this fabulous outdoor playspace! IMG_4677

The windy city

img_9181This last week we were visiting my parents in Northern Illinois and we decided to take the kids downtown. It turned out to be a beautiful fall day in the city. We visited the Shedd aquarium and saw dolphins, whales, penguins, sharks, rays, and more. img_9308I love how everyone was totally into it. I didn’t spot one rolled eye, bored expression or sigh the entire day. This is where real learning happens. Watching. Witnessing. Observing. Questioning. Feeling. Listening.img_9236 The kids got to pet a 40-year-old sturgeon. We saw huge white whales swim by gracefully.img_7511 And the manta rays and sting rays! How cool are they??!! We saw the aquatic equivalent to the big city. A coral reef, teeming with life and activity. A hustling, bustling traffic jam of living things right in the middle of a huge “countryside” of virtually empty ocean space.img_9486 One of my favorites was seeing little eels poking their heads out of the sand. It looked almost cartoonish.img_9413 After the aquarium, we took advantage of the beautiful warm weather and walked to Millenium park.img_9630 Pictures at the “bean” are always fun. img_9640The kids got to see Buckingham Fountain for the first time, although it was not filled with water so late in the year. img_9639Then we walked across the highway to the Maggie Daly park. img_20161116_103256573 What a treasure! This beautiful park, filled with fun slides, swings, towers, and bridges, right in the middle of the city! img_20161116_115224797My kids can never get enough of climbing, jumping, running, racing, yes, falling. Many of the cautious city-dwellers cast an anxious eye as my kids climbed up the bridge supports and scaled the tower walls.img_20161116_102513113 Many of my kids had never been to Chicago before and it was a fantastic day filled with new experiences! img_20161116_103908935

Find sweet rest

The key to being relaxed and at peace is acknowledging  and embracing our insufficiencies. I cannot do it all. I am not expected to do it all. I am only called to be faithful. Day by day. I cannot create faith in my children. I cannot guarantee their success or happiness. I can only do what I am called to do. Love them. Discipline them. Teach them. Nurture their wonder. Delight in them. Faithfully. Day by day. Whew! I’m glad the future does not rest on my shoulders. 2 Corinthians 12:9  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.img_9587