IMG_7477The kids have a volleyball net set up in the front yard and boy, it’s seen some use this summer! It’s a great game for all the kids to play, no matter how good or short or aggressive or tall or fast or slow they are. IMG_7485It’s not to strenuous, and it’s especially fun in the cool of the evenings. I’ve captured some fun action shots of previous games.IMG_7474


It’s been many years since I got to spend a Mother’s Day with my mom. So what a special treat it was that she was able to visit us over Mother’s Day weekend! My mother has overlooked a plethora of my faults. She always takes a genuine interest in my life and loves her little grands to pieces. They love to write her and my dad letters and watch excitedly for a response in the mail. Every major event in our lives does not seem to be complete without writing or telling my parents about it. It was a beautiful, sunny weekend and my mom and I enjoyed cruising around the city-wide garage sales. My dad and the boys enjoyed kayaking down the river and got in some fishing time. We all enjoyed touring Fort Donelson. My dad has a way of bringing history to life and telling us interesting little tidbits about the events. We love Tennessee, but really miss these special people!7ECF7666-92F2-416A-8FC0-22381C99112B

Showered with love

IMG_2900A very dear friend of mine recently blessed me immensely by hosting a baby shower. Yes, a baby shower for my 10th baby! It was such a celebration of love and anticipation for this new life we’ve been gifted with.IMG_2846 It was technically a “baby sprinkle” complete with freshly made donuts and coffee. It was fabulous that both my sisters and my mom were able to come into town to enjoy this special event.IMG_2856 Most of the pictures were “action shots” but here’s a glimpse of the goodness of my friends and family!IMG_3243


IMG_9354How much fun can you fit in a day? Well we found out this weekend when my parents, sister and Aunt and Uncle came to visit! Pond swimming, critter visiting, horse riding, canoe paddling, animal castrating, monkey bridge crossing!

Keagan is a city boy. He had a great time doing all things "farm"!

Keagan is a city boy. He had a great time doing all things “farm”!

Wait, did I just say animal castrating?! Yes, definitely. How can you fully experience farm life if you don’t get to castrate at least one breed of animal? And, luckily for them (ha!) or not so luckily, we had 4 little calves that needed to be banded.IMG_9120 At least we didn’t ask them to help “snip and pull“! This was a relatively easy job of herding the little guys into the milking parlor, and holding them down while Jeremie put a tight band on them.IMG_9118 We have not seen my Aunt and Uncle in years and it was so good to catch up and hear their news. And my kids just absolutely soak up their time with Mitna and Bompa and Meg. Their visit was too short, but we will see them again soon!IMG_9386

Locked out, Lit up, and Lost


Charlotte made this dress herself without a pattern!

We hosted our third English Country Dance this last week. What a fabulous time! We had some wonderful friends help us set up decorations. The hall itself is beautiful, but they only have overhead lighting, so we like to add some twinkle lights and votives so we can keep the bright lights off. Jeremie bought a couple strands of LED lights to add as well. We hope to host dances for years to come, after all Ruthie is only 1, and I’m sure these lights will be put to good use.

All the kids love the Virginia Reel!

All the kids love the Virginia Reel!

Fresh mint and roadside wild roses and queen Anne’s lace in mason jars were beautiful in these huge gorgeous windows. Last time our dance was so crowded that it was somewhat hard to maneuver.

Carolina Promenade, switching partners and twirling to the inside.

Carolina Promenade, switching partners and twirling to the inside.

This time Jeremie put down tape to mark the dance lines so the hall was able to accommodate almost 90 dancers. There were over 100 people there, but some of the parents were doing more visiting than dancing. There was such a great mix of young children, parents, young adults. There were many different kids from different groups but they all seemed to mix and visit very well. After decorating, we came home for little kid and mommy naps before the late night looming ahead of us. IMG_8209When we got back to the hall, we had forgotten the key to get back in! Thankfully someone brought us a key, so Katie could start getting all trussed up in her dress. It takes a while to tie all her laces and put on the hoops and such. This dance we had a new sound system and microphone so it was easier to hear the “caller” and most of the kids were familiar with some of the dances so it want pretty smoothly. I hope that will each dance we hold there can be less instruction time and more dancing time.IMG_8225 We had some special friends come down from Wisconsin for our dance, but unfortunately they got lost on the way. I’m regretful they had to spend extra time in the car, but so grateful they got to come and be a part of our dance!IMG_8231 We finally had to shut down the dance around midnight. Didn’t want anyone turning into pumpkins on our watch. After a quick pick up and pack up, we were headed home where we lounged around and slept most of the next day. Thanks to everyone that helped and attended the dance! It wouldn’t have been as fabulous without y’all!IMG_8198

Large family hospitality

A facebook quote from a friend that has 7 living children, 1 in heaven…

.if anyone wants to have us over for dinner sometime….please don’t be scared to feed our large family…i will bring food and we can coordinate together…large families need fellowship too…jus’ sayin

How sad that she has to beg for an invite. We are blessed to be in a community of believers where we often share meals together at least once, more likely twice a week. Sometimes at my house, but very often we are invited out.  We make the effort to open our home, not only other like-minded homeschooling families, but also to the single mom, the elderly couple, the young family. It can be intimidating to invite a family of 11 over for dinner, but I tell you the truth… a few weekends ago we ate with friends on Friday, Saturday and Sunday . My mom tells me that we hardly got invited anywhere when we were little. I grew up in a family of 8. People just don’t feel comfortable having others over? Nights are too busy because of after-school activities? I don’t know what the reason, but I am never sorry when I make the effort to have people over for dinner. They enrich our conversations, share their stories, engage our children, and join our choir of after dinner hymn-singers.  Here are a few easy meal ideas for feeding a large crowd. Baked spaghetti, messy but it goes far. Chili, not a favorite of the kids, but cheap. Especially if you make your own beans. Chicken with sauce over rice. Not exactly cheap, but easy and quick. I make it in the crock pot, leaving more time for visiting, less time in the kitchen. Let the boys roast hot dogs over the fire for everyone. A few sides to round out the meal. I always keep a few hot dogs inside to cook on the stove to because sometimes the “fire-roasters” get a little out of hand. Call me crazy, but I don’t like grass and ashes on my hot dog. Your home doesn’t have to be perfect. We have eaten on card tables, coffee tables, standing up by the counter, outside on picnic tables. So, go ahead. Invite over that family from church you’d like to get to know better. Call up that family from school whose kids get along so well with your kids. Amazing things happen when you open your home in love. So, dear friend, come on over for dinner. It’ll be worth the 8 hour drive.IMG_4875

More family fun

IMG_20150224_135933650_HDRWhile my parents were here we also enjoyed a trip to the Discovery Museum in Union City Tn. There was a fantastic mix of history, kid activities, exhibits, hands on fun and information. IMG_2100The boys liked to see all the cars, war machines, and water play.

Do you see the silhouettes behind them?

Do you see the silhouettes behind them?

The girls really enjoyed the sticky sand and the Titanic exhibit. Mom really enjoyed the living histories playing on video of WWII veterans. We all really enjoyed the “tower” which was free that day! We travelled up 200 feet and looked down through the glass floor and stood outside on the balcony!IMG_2283 Well, ok, I didn’t really enjoy that part. And the titanic exhibit was fabulous. We all received an “identity card” that told us the personal information about an actual passenger. Then after the tour, we could look up our person and see if “we” survived. It had a way of making the tragedy more real, I think. The cost of the first class cabins was outrageous… over $100,000 in today’s money. The whole tour was fascinating, but just so unbelievably sad and tragic. IMG_20150224_151146264There was a great place for little kids to play, which was good because Ruthie did not like her stroller that day, or the Ergo. There was dress up, sticky sand, cars, mats and more. We visited there a couple times.IMG_2099 Another fun place at the museum was the water/building center. Using PVC pipe the kids could make fountains, arranging them however they conceived.

All the "kids" enjoyed the pvc fountain creations :)

All the “kids” enjoyed the pvc fountain creations :)

A water vortex, boat races, river tunnels kept us all entranced…and very wet. It was a fabulous day!IMG_2246