Since They've Been Gone

we've been closer - all three of us - we've been us again in the same way but with a little bit new

we've been cuddling - how i missed all this cuddling 

we've been reading - The Ship's Cat Doris, to be specific - it's better than the movies

we've been talking again - there's nothing like really Knowing you

we've been laughing - last night we laughed so hard, about what i don't remember... biting and chewing maybe?

we've been playing - playmobil mostly 

we've been going out together again - every outing is like a special date - lunches - parks - playdates- even shopping is so much fun with just you

we've been getting ready - for third grade - for fall - for whatever God is bringing us to next

you've been different - you laugh more and move easier, you breathe like water flows and there's nothing trapped inside about you now - it all comes out

you've been a kid

you've been showing more and more signs of eight - i can't believe you're almost eight

your wrists are almost as thick as mine - your face is growing up - you are so beautiful - i love to watch you grow and smile - smiling and growing... two best things on earth

since they've been gone


Door County - August '13

These photos are in crazy random order... but it's no matter. 

The point is, a couple of days after Jada, Kaila, Leo and their Mom headed home from our place,
you, your dad, and I headed north for a little vacation alone together, away from it all.

It was one of the best times we've ever had. Period.

We discovered the fun that is Geocaching.
And we pretty much filled in all the gaps between swimming, eating, and playing
with GPS coordinated treasure hunting.

It was SO much awesome. 

Each Geocaching adventure led us to a new place we had never been before.
We climbed, hiked, scaled rock walls, trekked through woods, walked docks and beaches...

We registered and chose the family name 

We took our pictures at ever site we found. 

We uploaded one from each place to the Geocaching site.

We also shopped for our own box of swag for trading.

Seriously, ridiculous fun.

We ate at Al's every morning. And the Wild Tomato a couple of times too, of course.
We also tried Casey's for the first time.
You had ice cream from Not Licked Yet, and I from The Creamery.
And we visited Bea's (Geocaching) where we got some delicious jams and baking mixes.

You and your Dad swam ALOT.

Even At night. It was very sweet.

And, as usual, we got crazy at the Confectioners.

We finally wrote on that big Anderson barn/warehouse.

We barely watched any TV the entire four days... 
although, we did watch Jurassic Park for your first time.

We played Playmobile and took hot whirlpool tub baths at night.

Your Dad and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on our last day of vacation.

It was a time away, apart from the dogs, jobs, home and our lives
that your Dad and I will never forget. 

Brown County Fair

It was perfect timing to squeeze in the fair right between the kids leaving and our 
escape to the condo in Door County for a family vacation.

We went with the O family, and you all had a blast! 

We got you the wrist bands so you could ride the rides endlessly, 
and you did.

I was grateful to get in some good friend time and our traditional fair fun just in the nick of time. 

Summer Memories of our Days with Kaila, Jada and Leo

Four Weeks!

I can't believe it's getting so near. We have known for months, but now the countdown is really on! I am planning and dreaming and pinning like a crazy lady. I can't wait to have Kaila, Jada and Leo with us for six weeks! Zeek is talking about all the fun he will have when he gets to wake up to three full time play pals everyday. Even our friends are getting excited about these three joining our playdates and get-togethers. I can hardly wait! :)

The Count Down

"Do you know how many days are left until the kids come?" 
I peek at him across the kitchen, playing alone with his play mobil toys. 

"Uh... 14?" he guesses without looking up.

"Only six more days" I promise.

His eyes widen and fists pump as he shouts out his infamous "booyah!".

I'm pretty sure his excitement matches mine. 

I heard him initiate himself into the cool club of big families as he informed his buddy Logan, "Pretty soon I'm going to have three siblings for six weeks."

The days are winding down, and the anticipation is building high. 

We can hardly wait! :)

Bring It!

Today we got the news that my cousin Robin and kids (and extra road trip buddy, Alex) might be here a day earlier than planned!! We're so excited!!! 

I've got all my little pinterest boards stuffed full of summer fun, foods, deserts, arts and crafts, baby stuff, etc... for the six of us. 

I was finally able to find the mac daddy of all highchairs, used, for just $30. I love it entirely. It's big and cushioned, easy to fold up and change height, has locking wheels, easy wipe fabric, huge tray with attachments, cup holder, ... it doesn't get better.

Weeks ago Robin told me that Leo was fast growing out of his 12 mo. clothes and she would be glad to let me do the honors of hitting up some rummage sales and second hand shops for little clothes. I LOVE to shop for baby clothes. Especially when my favorite second hand shop just happened to be having a HALF OFF CLOTHING sale, today!!!

This morning I went to town and went to town:

All of this for just $32.

I also fell in love with the dollar store this week. I got SO MUCH FUN STUFF! Arts and crafts supplies, reusable lunch containers, manicure fun, and these adorable dishes for my new baby! 

I can just imagine packing up these cute little bumblebees for Leo to use on our picnics at the park!!!
(I'm just a little excited)

Today, the family set off for their trip from Alabama to Oklahoma and then Wisconsin. They will be here before we know it. Then it's baby diapers and sippy cups, nail polish and hair bows, squealing and chasing, inside and outside playing and laughing, crying and whining, coloring and reading, eating and cuddling all around! 

I can only say one thing to all of that:


As Ready as We'll Ever Be

I know that this list may seem incredibly anal, but please remember that we have one child, we are on summer break from homeschooling, I have not taken any photography work in preparation for this time, and we've been showing our house for a couple months now- so it was already freakishly clean.   

I guess you can say I've been "nesting":

As of today, every nook and cranny of our home is cleared out, taken inventory of what remains, and ridiculously organized. 

I have created six weeks of menu planning, each with their own board of Pinterest, including grocery lists, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and fun food creations to make with the kids. 

Our Pilot is clean, stocked with sunscreens, bug spray, wet wipes, travel snack packs, reading books, etc... and it has been converted to it's optional seating for up to eight. 

I have put together about 40 arts and crafts projects, each pre-packaged with instructions and materials in their own gallon ziplock bags. 

Our public library is currently retrieving 68 books that I ordered for pick up to match the ages of our kids as well as the activities, themes, crafts and snacks for all six weeks. 

Pinterest and my GPS system are stocked full of hours, fees, and addresses to all the hot summer fun spots we will be hitting up.

And last, but most importantly, the girls princess room is all ready and waiting for their stay. :)

My cousin, her neighbor/manny Alex, are on the road and about 8 hours away 

And I can hardly breath I'm so excited. 

But relaxing and breathing is exactly what we are going to work on today. We've earned it! 

Zeek and I already enjoyed a good game of Pay Day this morning. He's reading while I write this. 

We are going to meet with our friends for some fun early this afternoon. Then we will return home to homemade, crockpot, chicken cordon blue. I will make mashed potatoes and veggies for a late dinner with my cousin's brother Jason, who is driving up from Iron Mountain to see her and the kids tonight. :) 

I thank God we are still in this big house, which is quite perfect for this adventure as a family of six. Also, that we have had the freedom of time to get so much of the busy work for our summer out of the way. And most of all, that we're just hours away from kicking this thing off with a bang! 

Happy Fourth of July everyone!!!

May your celebration be full of fireworks and awe.

Much Love,

One Seriously Contented Nester

It's On!

There's no possible way for me to say it all. Everyone is here. They arrived days ago??? about 10 seconds after we returned home from picking strawberries up the street. 

Everyone was in a surprisingly good mood for having just traveled for 4 days (perhaps it was the fresh berries?). From there, everything is pretty much a blur. :) 

I remember that we shared a delicious crockpot chicken cordon blue dinner here with with my cousin Jason. It was great to see him and spend a little time catching up. 

I know that we dragged in a few travel chests of kids clothes, shoes, diapers, and other miscellaneous items and attempted to unpack them... hardly. 

I will never forget that our three oldest children asked to have a "cousin camping" night in the basement and then didn't go to sleep until after 2:30am when we woke to a mini rave. 

I know that won't happen again. :)

I know that all three dogs are SMITTEN.

I know that Robin and I have enjoyed being side by side for days, including tons of baby snuggling, mama talk, girl talk, food talk, and Jesus talk, eating, and did I mention baby snuggling? 

I know that Zeek, Kaila and Jada have been inseparable and pretty much scarce. They've been playing outside, creating a band and practicing their set list, running around in the woods, biking the street, building forts in the basement, playing in the toy room upstairs. I hope I get to see them someday soon! 

I fondly recall my brother visiting a couple of days, bringing good burgers, chips and dips, and getting in some good guy time with my husband. There were guns involved at some point. I think they were just air soft, but I'm sure they would never get past security. :)

There was a baby-in-the-sink bath, 

some HGTV ruining, some creepy breakfast muffins that everyone loved, and some very fun Fourth of July foods. 


Our fireworks were a blast, bedtime came too late again, and now it is 8am, Friday morning, and everyone but Greg and I are fast asleep. 

It's been fantastic, fun, and super fast! Greg is cleaning up behind us all like a magician - not sure how this will go when he's working all day during the weeks to come. However, there won't be house guests or holiday. However, tomorrow morning Robin will be leaving us to fend for ourselves... 

I think we will do just fine. :)

My favorite part so far is that my son is so happily playing with his new "temporary siblings".

Taking a close second in my heart is sweet little Leo... Greg and I are both in love with him. He's so cute and fun.

I especially love that I finally get to have an adorable little one who I want. When ever I ask his Mom to just consider leaving him here for me to keep for a couple months, the answer is always "yes"!

I really thought I would have posted two or three times by now (what was I thinking?)
I pray I'm ever free in the next six weeks to steal away a few minutes here and there to write again. 

If not, there will be pics and videos on Facebook.

Have a nice summer. I have some lovin' to get to.

Patriotic Oreo Pops

Thanks to Pinerest we made these. 

All the big kids participated.

They were fun, easy, adorable, and yummy! 

We Have Liftoff

Well, the mama left yesterday. The kids handled it well. It was most sad for Robin and I, knowing she will be without her babies. 

Jada worked it for all she could. After Zeek and Kaila came to me to tattle that Jada was driving them crazy, I talked to her to see how she was really doing. I concluded quickly that she was milking it and told her to come to me if she needed to talk or get some loving. She put her red hands up, laughed, and went back to playing. About 20 minutes later I snuck her away to take her and her stuffed giraffe underwing for some snuggling to check on her heartbeat - She's the most tender of them in the absence of their mom. 

Leo, on the other hand, is doing what most kids do when their parents aren't there... being a complete ANGEL!!! Of course. 

I was thinking the crying and neediness would only get worse for a time. I was sure it would be tough on him that he doesn't really know us very well compared to his Auntie Jenny, who usually watches him at home. Did I mention that he hasn't been fully weaned of nursing yet?

To our surprise and delight though, he hasn't cried once. Not even when he woke up from his nap. He hasn't searched, been frantic, or worried. He's hasn't grunted commands or tried to fly off of anything. He's cuddled right down into our lifestyle and been smilie, sweet, giggly, and wonderful. Whew!
Hopefully, this keeps up.  

Jada and I went for a walk in the afternoon. We took Leo in his stroller and Yuki on her leash. It was nice. We got to talk, pick flowers, see horses and soak up some good vitamin D. 
When we returned, I put a few of our wild daisies in the kitchen window, and a couple in the girls' room. 

Speaking of their room, after much debate the girls decided to stay in the same room rather than each having their own. I'm glad for this, because now they won't be alone at night.

After dinner, I let the kids go play while I cleaned up the house with Leo. Then, I called the kids in to do a stick-people art project at the dinning room table while I gave Leo a sink bath and put his clean reusable diapers together. 

It was a great way to wind things down for the evening.
Except that afterward I let the big kids go back outside to play some more. :) 

I brought Leo out of his bath and into my room where I had a little instrumental sleepy baby music playing (one of many Spotify playlists I prepared for the kids' stay). I put his baby lotion on with a little baby massage. Then I put his monkey pajamas on him. I picked him up and he cuddled in. 

I held him and gave him a little of his milk bottle so he would have something in his tummy for the night. He only drank about 3 oz. and then I laid him in his pack-and-play sound to sleep. He slept, unstirred, until about 5am. I was already awake and out of the room when I heard him talking. I gave him a bottle, changed him and he was back to sleep by 6am. He is currently laying at my side on the living room couch, dreaming. 

I forget all the fantasticness of having a little one like this. I miss it. 

The kids will surely sleep in again. They were up later than I'd planned, because I got caught up chatting on the phone with their mom... as if we didn't just spend four days together. :) 

Today is Greg's last day of the long holiday weekend and I hope to make the most of our time with him. I'm pretty sure I will usually have this morning free time with this houseful of great sleepers. Therefore a little daily posting shouldn't be a problem at all.  

Happy Sunday! :)

Play Date Splugunga

Splugunga: a made up word by Zeek referring to anything there is a lot of ~ best used when things are or could get a little messy or sticky. 

Although Leo seemed to be feeling all better yesterday morning, I knew it was going to be best to stay home so he could get his naps in without any trouble. We were supposed to go out to meet my friend Linsey and her four kids at the park, and the kids were looking forward to our first outing, but we called it off and invited their family to play at our place. 

Shortly after, our other good friends Nina and her three kids were added to the roster and we knew we were in for one full day of FUN! :)

The kids had a blast. They played all day long. They played so well that the mamas decided to extend our playdate through dinner. Nina and Linsey cleaned up the kitchen while I took Leo, Jada, and Linsey's Lily with me to The Pig for some grillin' goods. 

The girls were SO cute in the grocery store. They were singing and dancing and chatting away. I could tell they were so happy to have found each other, with both of their eyes lit up and their smiles a mile wide each. Adorable. As always, Leo was perfect. 

Greg was home from work when we got back, and Linsey's husband joined us within minutes. 

Don't get me wrong, the day was crazy. Anyone who didn't know us would have run screaming from the scene upon entry. In fact I'm not even sure the mailman stopped to give us our mail. With 11 kids, including babies, toddlers, bikes, scooters, side walk chalk, drinks, snacks, flip flops everywhere, crying, screaming, scheming, laughing, tattling, skinned knees, bandaids, more crying, singing, yelling, racing, DIRT, bloody noses... I heard a hand full of times at random, "this is the best day ever!", I watched new friendships form- from the rocky to the roses, I tried to get photos but couldn't find time. All I'm sure of is that three moms spent the day in their own little makeshift form of heaven on earth... 

Yeah, maybe not for the faint of heart, but I couldn't have asked for more.  

Oh, and Leo, once again - the perfect baby

Reading Reading Reading

It's interesting how many things I'm seeing differently now that we have four kids in the house. It's a small thing to see one kid do or not do something. It's much more impactful to watch the effect things have on a small group. 

For instance, it's been easy to let Zeek "check his farm" on his iPad for 10 minutes (or an hour) first thing in the mornings. But it made a whole different impact on me to see three kids with their faces in their electronics 10 seconds into the day - to watch them walk away from their games having their direction impaired, imaginations shut down, and even connections with each other difficult to attain for awhile. Like a bunch of tiny drunks. :) 

This led to a new rule in the house: 

NO MORNING MEDIA - which surprisingly led to them having no interest in media once they get going.   

I think they've replaced this down time activity with reading. Zeek has loved reading for about a year now, and I know from Robin that Kaila likes to read a lot, too. Now Jada is joining right in! 

I love to walk in and find them all together in one room enthralled in their books smack the middle of the day.

Yesterday, we met friends at the park for lunch. It rained on us, but we stayed anyway. The kids played in the park through the rain. It was so cute and fun. Until it was over, and we were all soaked, and the temperature started to drop. 

We took the party to Miss Linsey's house. The kids played board games. Then they wanted to read! So they raided the bags of books I had just picked up at the library for my kids, and they sprawled out in the living room and got to it. It was awesome! 

I wish I would have  signed my girls up for the summer reading program when I got Zeek in. They would have crushed it. 

At night, I tuck the girls in and Greg tucks Zeek in. The guys read and talk and pray. The girls and I evaluate our day a little, talk about the good and bad, discuss the plans for the next day, do a circle prayer (one of my favorite parts of the day), and then I tell them how long they can read for. They always beg for a little longer and celebrate when I agree. This is funny since they pass out 15 minutes into their books, either way. :)

Today, we are going to stay home and veg. The kids are looking forward to hanging out at the house so they can get back to their own little projects and plans they have going all around the house as well as outdoors. 

I'm glad we're staying home too. It feels like Thursday to Greg and I. 

We joke that when the kids leave it will feel like stepping off a tread mill. We will have SO much time on our hands.

Until then, I'm soaking it up! :) 

Home Day

Not much to say this morning. Yesterday we did exactly as planned. Relaxed. 
Well, we didn't host or attend a playdate anyway. :) 

The big kids played like crazy. I cleaned, changed diapers, fed, cleaned more, set up art projects, tried to do laundry, took everyone grocery shopping (which went surprisingly well) finally got in a shower around 4:30... then Greg came home, we did our devotion while I finished making dinner, then baby to sleep, then I finally ate, then tucked in the girls with prayers while Greg read and prayed with Zeek, then bed for Greg and I.

Today, we will stay home again, I think. But we would all like to go up the street and pick strawberries at some point. Sounds good to me. 

Maybe I'll get that laundry done... 

"Just Make Your Own Baked Goods" ???

Yesterday was another home day. We tried to leave to go strawberry picking, but someone (no one knows who) turned both of the lights on in the back of the Pilot and drained the battery to zero... so we decided to save strawberry picking for another time. We could have taken the Jeep, but moving the car seats back and forth for a four mile round trip seemed a little extensive... 
Yes, I'm learning to cut things out, say no, change course, and get over my usual fervor for cleanliness, order and followthrough. Heck, I've been cutting out and saying no to the laundry for days! :) 

I made a gluten free angel food cake, and just as I was about to dive into making one with wheat for everyone else, I recognized that our life would be a lot easier and more fun if I got out of the kitchen- so I decided to just buy one at the store. 

Not sure I would be happy to have to make those substitutions forever... but what's six weeks of high fructose, GMOs, ethoxylated monoglycerides, diglicerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate and 1000 more synthetic and chemically processed ingredients pouring into our babies' bodies??? :(

Okay, so the transition might hurt a little. But I'm making headway. And I'm seeing first hand why my favorite mamas of three and four kids laugh and scorn me with envy over my clean house and frivolous suggestions that they just make their own baked goods. I could slap myself just typing it now. 

I give! I give! I'm not sure how all our children are accounted for much less alive - and if you're making your own bread you either have a plural marriage or you're not watching your kids grow up. I got it. :)

So, today this Mom is going to engage in some more personal chill therapy... thankfully, my sweet husband made the time to put the Pilot back on it's feet last night so we can use it to hit a park with a picnic and then get to that strawberry patch on the way home. I'd love to make some cookies, and maybe squeeze in another load of laundry. We'll see how high my super mom stats can register on the richter today. 

I'm off - like a dirty shirt! God knows there are a few of those piling up around here.


We went. We had fun. We defied all bedtimes imaginable and stayed out way too late. It was awesome.

We saw Jimmy Needham three times. Of course, I loved every second of every show. It was my first time seeing him, AND I got to meet him and chat with him a little after one of his shows. 

 (testing camera settings)

Zeek took our picture for me. Love it! ;)

We went through the Compassion Experience, which was a 20 minute personal family tour through the life of a Compassion Student. We wore headsets and used iPods as we moved through rooms where the student's home, city, school, etc... were recreated for us to see for ourselves. It was really cool and moving. It really inspired me to keep writing to and encouraging our sponsored student. The kids asked a lot of questions and we all learned a lot.

We spent some time under a tree in a field talking, relaxing, and playing rock games. Some people stopped us to tell me what an adorable family I have. I had to explain that they are my family, just not all my children. :) I couldn't agree more though, they are all quite adorable. 

We saw an improve comedy show, ate an entire Papa Murphy's family sized cheese pizza, waited in line, no lie, for about an hour and a half for the best french fries on the planet (not all that), and then, FINALLY, when the sun went down and the temperatures dropped into a tolerable range, we got to see Skillet! 

There were flames and fireworks and even the ground shook from the music (as Jada excitedly pointed out to me). The kids loved it. Kaila was rocking out. It was so cute to see them pumping their fists in the air, jumping up and down, screaming the lyrics when the band told the crowd what to sing. So fun and adorable. 

Then we went back the car and got our hoodies, and decided to go back to the party for the worship time with Jimmy. Jada fell asleep in her chair, Zeek laid on my lap most of the time, and Kaila listened to the songs and watched all the people worship... it was very sweet and special. 

We got home around 1:15a, and we were all in bed asleep by 2.

Although, we took the day off to rest and recuperate, I'm hoping we don't still have little zombies tomorrow when we start FIne Arts/VBS. 

Tonight will be an early bedtime, for sure. For ALL of us. :)

"Say Cheese!"

"Give me weird!"



Looking cute!

Holding on for dear life!



The kids started VBS yesterday. Jada and Kaila did well waking up earlier than usual. Zeek, as usual, was already awake. We were in the car and on our way right on schedule giving me plenty of time to tour the kids through the large building and locate each of their classes with them. I stayed with them through the morning celebration time, and then Leo and I left for our alone time. 

We went to Barnes and Noble and poked around... I was looking for some new sketching materials and some activity books for Jada- she isn't into the same stuff Zeek and Kaila are, so sometimes she's my little wanderer with "nothing to do" :)

I let Leo walk around in the store. He was really well behaved. With all that was at his tiny fingertips I was amazed that he only took a few books (with puppies) off the shelves. Even in the kids section he did well. It was nice to have him all to myself. It reminded me of the days of Zeek and I out when he was that age. As much as I enjoy the productivity level of having more, there's just something about having one child. It feels so special and different. Anyway, we were pals. We went to Noodles for lunch and then back to pick up the big kids. 

The kids told me all about their classes, and even what they learned about God and serving. They had memorized their scripture for the week, "He (Jesus) came to serve and not to be served" I believe it was. 

I'm glad they enjoyed it.

We stopped for our groceries on the way home. It's so nice grocery shopping with them. They can find food like nobodies business, so I just put them on missions in each isle. It takes me about half the time to shop with them that it does when I'm alone. Leo must love grocery shopping because he was perfect again. 

Once home, I told the kids they could play Minecraft, endlessly. Zeek got the full version on xbox this weekend and he and Kaila are loving it. Jada, of course, isn't into it as much. But they decided to each build her her own room per her specifications, and she decided that she will chose the best one and keep it. I'm glad they do their best to include her. 

She hung out with her new paperdoll sticker books while Leo and I made meals, cleaned up, did laundry, had a sink bath (well Leo did that part)... 

Tomorrow, it's VBS again, and I would love to do strawberry picking on the way home.

Can you believe we haven't done that yet!? 

I just never know what we're in store for these days. :)

In the Midst of it All

Today, something happened to me. Either having four kids is starting to grow on me, or someone slipped me some good drugs (in which case I want to know what it was so I can put in an order)

Today, nothing could discourage me. I was just grateful and happy all day long. 

Things started out pretty interestingly:

When I started the shower and went off in search of a towel (which I did not find, because every towel in my entire life was in the wash) Frank, the dog, decided it would be fun to jump in and get soaking wet - then, about five minutes before we had to leave for VBS, Jada asked me if I would like her to take a shower before she got dressed and did her hair (I was under the impression she was ready for the car) - and while I was doing a quick change of Leo's last minute poop diaper (20 minutes after we should have left) he took the new outfit I had selected for him to wear and wiped it on his parts, right through the poop. 

But instead of these surmounting road blocks causing me to lose my love for life, I had an unusually peaceful calming sensation wash over me at every obstacle. All I could do was smile. I kept finding reassurance in how precious all these kids are. I was determined to cherish our moments whether we were on time, drenched, poopy, dressed, or not, and I was certain that we were going to enjoy our drive to the church even if we got there late for chapel... 

I can only imagine such a perspective came from One Place. Thank You, God. :)

I also noticed today that I am so much less concerned with shoveling out and organizing the kind of "clutter" that is making its way around the perimeter of every room in my once minimalistic home. 

Sure there are drying bottles, rings, and nipples on my window sill - but I know right where they are, ready and waiting for me at the drop of a hat (which is the time frame in which I generally need most things these days). 

And yes, there has been a dueling set of playmobile vikings, horses and weapons on the top counter of my kitchen island for over a week - but every kid in my house, including the baby, plays with them right there every single day (usually while I'm cooking something and they are sharing their stories with me). 

I know I would have never had a continuous stream of piled art projects in the works, activity books, buckets of colors, scissors, glue, etc... laying out on the dining room table, always - but putting these things away just means more monotonous back and forth, in and out, bustle and shuffle through the kitchen and laundry areas, into the craft room... all FOR WHAT? 

There are books with little dog-earred pages stacked everywhere - but a summer full of reading kids makes my heart sing.

There's a Thomas the Train universe taking up the far left third of my living room -but I love seeking out a missing Leo only to find him sitting with his sister smack in the center of that train-land, reaching up with a content smile, the offering of a blue caboose, and the invitation to join in. 

There are reusable diapers, disposables, and boxes of wipes around every corner - because you just never know when you'll need to pop a squat and change a butt. :)

The line of shoes on the bench in the entry way is endless, the front of my sparkling white kitchen cabinets are, well... not white anymore,  and the fridge literally throws meals out at me when I open it now (kind of convenient I think). 

And I've only taken account of my main floor here. I'm not even going into my upstairs or my downstairs... 

no, I mean literally, I don't go to either floor. 
They belong to the kids. They are filled with forts and demolished kingdoms, dominoes and connect four game pieces, clothes and all those MIA towels??? Yep! They too are scattered from one end to the other. 
But these little areas are dear to the small people in my house. The only thing that upsets them is to disrupt those spaces where they meet with their imaginations to play and create until something else shiny catches their eye. :)

As messy, and busy, and at times chaotic as things can be - with the routines for everything, and the washing and straightening, planning and cooking, feeding and cleaning, diapering, and laundering, setting up and taking back down, taxing, and tucking in... I couldn't be happier. 

I've been looking around all day just beaming from the inside out. Don't get me wrong, I will enjoy when we return back to our own, simpler, quieter, less chaotic reality in a month, but I can say with absolute certainly that I'm pretty in love with our life right now. 

Who would have thought? :)

Weekend Walkthrough

Friday night we had our VBS performances. It was awesome. I've been saying this a lot in the past months, but I don't know if it was me or they changed things at the church, but it seemed to go so much better than past years. There didn't seem to be as many people, as much crowding, as much waiting time between things, and everything was just easy and fun. 

The kids did so well at their performances. 

Jada loved self defense class, all the food she got to make in her cooking class each day, and she took first place in the pinewood derby races with the "glitter car" she constructed herself. She got a blue ribbon and a whole bunch of candy! ;) 

Zeek also made his own pinewood derby car. He did not win any races, and Jada lovingly reminded him of this about every 10 minutes... but she was "sweet enough" to share her candy with him. He said his woodworking class was his favorite. He made a decent sized wooden treasure chest and a piece of cross art. His performance was in sign language. He LOVES sign language. Like passionately, and wants to take a real sign language class (he does not want to take ANY CLASSES in ANYTHING EVER!) Each night he would show me all the sign language he learned that day. Pretty awesome. 

Kaila made a gorgeous piece of statement art. It is on a long plank of wood which she nailed the form of letters into, then strung with colored string to make the words, "Serve others to be great". It's awesome. She also got to be in the rocket class... something all the younger kids long for. She made her own rocket and got to launch it the night of the performances. This is a tradition of the church. All the VBS kids run out into the field as the sun is setting, and all the kids from the rocket classes launch their rockets. The kids chase them as they parachute back to the earth. It's an honor to catch and retrieve one of these great rocket treasures. :) 
Kaila's performance was in co-ed dance mob. It was SO cute. She is such a cute little hip-hopper. 

Saturday we had the Ottos over for a birthday celebration, lunch, and dinner. As always, it was the best. The dads grilled salmon, steak, burgers and potatoes. Greg made egg salad and homemade cornbread. It was all so scrumptious. 

The kids played endlessly, the moms talked, painted nails, and tried on clothes for our moms' night out. 
We had cake and opened presents. It was kind of the funnest day we've all had in a long time.  

Sunday was a down day. The kids did their church thing in the morning with another "What's in the Bible" video. So cute. Then they finished up their Mindcraft marathon. AMEN! :)

Today, they are back to having to make their own entertainment without a media source. I have a chalk scavenger hunt to draw out in the driveway for them in a minute. We're going to do some school, some baking, and a little art project. It's supposed to be hot with scattered thunderstorms, so we will stick around the house. 

We have some big plans for fun this week though!!! 
Hope you have a good week. 


 This is from our scavenger hunt the other day: 

It was fun, and had all the kids on a mission in the woods. 

Lee was called a "cute little girl" one too many times, 
so he got his hair cut at the barbershop.

He screamed most of the time, so it's not the best, but it works.

He's still super duper cute. 

He loves all the windows in the house that go the length of the walls.

He's always peering out at some wild animal, with a dog at his side.

He's a love.

We went to Bay Beach with our friends this week. 

We were there for longer than any of us thought. 
Leo loved the car ride, and when it was time to get off
he stood with one hand in mine and the other reaching for the car.
He looked at me as if to say, 
"why would we EVER leave this?" 
If we didn't have 8 kids with us, I would have gladly let him ride
them all afternoon. :)

Our days and routines are getting better and better. 
The girls love structure and purpose.
Although, I let them do pretty much whatever they want for most 
of our days home, they still come to me all proud
to tell me how they cleaned this, or set that up, or 
"you won't have to worry about THIS Auntie... we already did it for you!" :)
So sweet. 

They are all playing well, and loving their time together.
Today, we go to the grocery store (our home away from home),
the library, and the dog center for dog food.

Tomorrow, if the weather permits, we are FINALLY hitting the beach! ;)

Beach Day

We finally made it to the beach with the kids.

The weather was amazing. 

The kids loved playing in the sand.

They especially loved confiscating abandoned play sites.

We went with our good friends, the O Family.

We did a lot of cuddling with the littles...

And we got a lot of sand on and in everything!

Lucy got swimmers itch on her legs 
(the only case from the day)

And we took cute pictures of everyone.

The big kids got ice cream. 

And when we packed up to head home, 
of course, my three oldest stuck their noses right back
into there current favorite reads. :)

It was a great day with very little hassle or drama
and TONS of fun in the sun!!! :)

Two Weeks Left

I haven't written in a few days, and for that reason I should. 

We have enjoyed a nice weekend at home. We had a showing for the house on Friday, so I spent most of the day cleaning/cooking/feeding/taking care of Leo. It was kind of a lot messier than I thought. :) 

It feels good to have things closer to how they used to be, but at first it made me sad. I felt like I was getting a foretaste of what it will look like when the kids are gone. I know that we will ultimately be happy to get back to the way things were before... but for a time it will be strange and a little hard getting over them. 

I can't imagine how hard it will be for Zeek. To wake up everyday with no kids to play with. No kids at mealtimes, and no one in the back seats of the car with him. :( I feel bad for him for that. 

And although the girls spend most of their time with Zeek, I will surely miss having girls! I'll miss Jada being my little helper in everything I do. And I'll miss keeping an eye on Kaila's heart to make sure she's okay inside, not just out. Our talks. The giggles and fun. 

And then there's Leo. I don't even want to think about it. I know that I will get over him the fastest, because it will be easier for me to appreciate losing the kind of work load he comes with. But the initial letting go of someone who has very much become like my own baby over the past month will be pretty rough. For so so so so many reasons. 

On Saturday the kids had our favorite sitter Alyssa come for the evening while Greg and I went out. They did well with her. We knew they would. 

And today, we just hung out. The kids watched their "What's in the Bible" series, played minecraft, and what other than, PLAYED PLAYMOBILES. It rained most of the day. 

The house is slowly but surely getting back to it's better state of messy. The big kids toggle between their playmobile and minecraft obsessions. I'm finally getting used to making and buying the right amount food the first time. And after a few days of Leo waking me 3 and 4 times a night, he is back to only once again. AMEN! 

Tomorrow, my best friend and I are getting together here to cook all of our dinners for the week at once. If nothing else, it will be a blast. All our kids are going to make a desert, do crafts, and play play play. 

I can't wait! 

The Way Things Are

There's something about the continuous kitchen rotation from sparkling to shambles and back again.

Something about a pile of shoes thrown to the bottom of the stairs, by a baby who loves shoes more than most kids love their blankies, while humming what I'm almost certain is the chorus line of a Beyonce song from three albums back.

There's something about original lego creations in stations set up in the most inconvenient and adorable places around the house.

Something about the living room lounge chairs always being rearranged for the ultimate video game comfort.

There's something about a pee diaper wrapped neatly and set on... the kitchen table!

That basement light that you have to walk way to the back to turn off ALWAYS being on.

Something about never having dry cuffs on my sleeves, or dogs in a state other than ravenous hunters in search of floor scraps, and car seats sprinkled with crumbs, books, and Mentos wrappers.

There's something about wearing a little girl's button bracelet and matching toe polish.

Something about that ring of milk in the bottom of the bottle that reminds you why people have those bottle scrubbers on a stick.

There's something about sink baths, and a line up of bikes, and huge stinky piles of tiny clothes.

The way he flirts and giggles when I sing, "he's Leo and he knows it"

Or the way the oldest asks a second time, right after I assure she can go and play, "are you sure you don't need me to do anything for you Auntie?"

The way my own son has stopped arguing with me and completely stopped complaining all together about anything.

The way the middle one can simultaneously light up my life while letting me know that I light up hers, just with her eyes.

Even though I NEED real sleep, I rarely shower until I can actually smell my own stank, and I'm far more easily persuaded to hand over an entire box of glutinous soy filled Cheezits than I'll ever be proud to admit...there's something about all of this that Greg and I are becoming more increasingly aware, as our days as a family of six draw closer to their end, we are going to miss very very much.

One More Week

So today we start the count down as we have just one week left with the kids.

When I look across the table at Leo's little cheeks and his sweet grin, I can't help but remember that next week none of that will be here. I'm trying to focus on the pros of no more diapers, high chair, dressing and buckling and especially being woken up two to three times a night... but it's been just long enough to remind me what and why all of those things are worth looking past when you have a little one.

When I walk through the living room on movie night and see six awkward long summer-stained legs lined up on the couch with toes pointed to the TV, I feel a twinge of hurt for my son who will not so long from now be the only kid left to kick around with.

Throughout the next week we will enjoy our "lasts" for the summer with Kaila, Jada and Leo. It has been so much fun to have them. They are really good, and I am proud of my cousin and her husband for making such wonderful, sweet, obedient, loving, fun kids. 

Our Last Week In Review

So, I didn't write much the last week of our days with the kids. I was trying to soak it all in. 
 I didn't want to miss one single thing we had left to enjoy of them.
But I did try to snap a photo here and there so I could remember...

Our Friday pizza and movie nights.

Leo, eating himself into a food coma.

Breakfast animals.

The day that three year old Lucy wanted to prove she's ready to be a mom...

and she put Leo down for his nap all by herself.

All the board games and laughter.

Bay Beach, again and again.

Not sure they could have ever gotten enough...

of the amusement park, 

OR Jaymee Glynn.

Making donuts

that were delicious.

And all those pre-packaged art projects.

Our last being the highly anticipated paper flowers.

And, of course, the beach. 

And that baby.

Missing him terribly is a little easier when I recall
the way Greg and I took in every last second we had with him.

Although it certainly won't ever be the same around here,

we're learning our way back to "just the three of us" again.