We all like having picnics in the summer.  Especially me!

I enjoy the fact that we're outside enjoying the weather and each other, the food can be really simple (cheese, fruit, crackers, carrots, and nuts), and at the end of the meal I can shake off the blanket instead of wiping down the table.  It also cuts way down on dishes!

I've linked up to Raising Olives where everyone is sharing picnic recipe ideas.  
Although my recipe is surely not the most tasty or best looking, 
it definitely is the easiest.  :)


Chicken Scratch - Part 5 - New Beginnings

After I returned the chickens to Farmer John, I thought I was done raising chickens.  

I was wrong.

Spring came and I had thoughts of holding sweet, fuzzy, yellow chicks.  My own fuzzy, yellow chicks.

I didn't want full grown hens that already had problems.  I figured I needed cute little baby chicks (in a variety of breeds of course - just like the birds in The Book) so I could bond with them while they were small and help them grow into fine feathered poultry.

I took the kids to the local farm and pet store where we were greeted by a slobbery, large golden retriever and the delicate peeping that we had come for.

We picked out one white and one brown Araucana and one Barred Rock.  The Araucanas would lay light blue or green colored eggs, and the Barred Rock would lay brown eggs.  Both breeds were said to be hardy in colder climates and lay well.

The lady at the store packed them gently into a container that resembled a Happy Meal box and off we went!  

I'm sure I annoyed more than one driver on our way home as I turned my car and pressed on the gas ever. so. slowly to make sure I didn't tip the little ladies over.  I felt like a new mom all over again.  You know how it is when you drive for the first time with your first new baby?  You sit in the back with them gripping the car seat with both hands and praying your husband doesn't accelerate too fast.  You may even say things like, "Watch out for that car!"  "Why is everyone driving so fast?!"  "She really should be more careful!"  And really, it's just this little old granny going 30 mph, passing you on the right...on the highway.  

Okay, maybe it wasn't quite like bringing home your firstborn, but it was close.

After checking to make sure none of our new little friends had died during the nerve racking ride, we brought them to the basement where we had their new home all set with fresh bedding, warm light, refreshing water, and tasty morsels.  

It was perfect.  They were perfect.  

So much better than the first unfortunate set of birds.  This time things would go better...wouldn't they?  

To be continued...  Part 6 - The End of New Beginnings

Camping Vacation

Remember how I said we were a camping family?  Well, here are the pictures to prove it.  :)

We got home last Sunday from a 4 day camping trip to Petoskey State Park.  It was so good to get away and relax with my dear hubby and cute kids.  We took day (or morning) trips to different areas around Petoskey and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Harbor Springs

Emilia took this.  Didn't she do a great job?

We ate a lot of ice cream on this trip.  Yummy!

Our new favorite road.  I think we need a cool sticker that says M119 for our car.

The Mackinac Bridge

Our oldest turned 7 on the trip.  She asked for pancakes instead of cake.  :)

I rode on this same horse when I was a kid!

Cute Tommy

At a little park in Petoskey

We rode bikes from our campground into Petoskey, walked around town, got more ice cream, enjoyed the park, took this picture, and rode back.  :)

We did quite a bit of this.


Nate buried the kids.

Tommy loved the beach!  He loved eating the sand and throwing it in his eyes...

We enjoyed watching Daddy run into the freezing cold water.

Had a couple campfires and ate S'mores.  mmmm

Makes me want one right now.

They loved camping so much they had to give the trees a hug!  :)


From Nesting to The Empty Nest

Eastern Phoebes (for the second year in a row) built a nest under the eave of the little house in our backyard. Both the male and female were very involved in this whole process. We enjoyed watching them flit back and forth with grass and twigs, flicking their tales as they perched on the fence.  We also enjoyed peering into the nest to see the tiny baby birds. 

But those birds didn't stay small.  Before long we saw them sitting on the ledge next to the nest, still hesitant, but getting closer and closer to being ready to make their own way in the world.

The mommy bird at the end of this video made me think of myself someday.

So, today, with thoughts of the Eastern Phoebes and the mommy bird, I will revel in all the messy, unpredictable, wonderful, God-given responsibilities of our full nest.


9 Years!

Today I've been married for 9 years to my best friend.  

Nine years and four kids later, I thank the Lord for all that He's given us.
Happy Anniversary to the best husband and dad!!!



We're a camping family.

Beautiful sunset we saw on one of our camping trips.
When we first got married, we camped in a small tent - just the two of us.  It was a great tent.  It never leaked, which was wonderful since it seemed to rain EVERY TIME we went camping.  Everything was fairly nice and tidy and easy camping with just the two of us. 

Then we had Emilia and we still used that small tent.  She was 3 months old when she first went camping.  She slept in a Tupperware container next to our bed.  Don't worry, we poked holes in the lid.  (just kidding ;))  Things were still fairly nice and tidy and easy camping with the three of us in a small tent - especially when she wasn't moving. 

Then we had Jonny and we couldn't fit very well in that small tent anymore, so we bought a large tent (a.k.a. asked our parents for a tent for Christmas).  We felt like this was a portable house.  It was so BIG compared to our first tent.  This tent was tall enough for us to stand up and there were two rooms with dividers.  It was great!

Until it rained.  This tent wasn't quite as waterproof as our first tent. 

One camping trip, it rained so hard that there was a river running under our tent.  I put my hand on the ground and felt the water flowing underneath.  Not only was it flowing underneath, it was flowing through the walls and dripping in through the top.  The next morning, we had to spend the first half of the day drying out.  The next night was the same as the first, but the river wasn't quite as flowing.

We ended up buying something to spray on the tent so it could be a little more waterproof, but it never stood up to our small tent.  And it always seemed to rain - at least a little bit - on each trip we went on.  

One day, as I was packing for a trip, I was thinking about the rain and our kids covered in sand and mud and just the general dirt of the trip (great thoughts, hey?!).

I told Nathan, "Camping is an exercise in being content in all circumstances."

He always tells people that this is when he realized something needed to change so that I could actually enjoy our vacations and not just think of them as a way to work on building character.  :) 

Since we both agreed that camping is something that we wanted to continue to do, we started shopping for a trailer.  We finally found an older trailer that was in our price range and took the plunge.

While others may not call it "true camping" anymore, I'm okay with that.  I don't have to practice being content so much (I get enough practice in other areas of my life!) and I do enjoy camping much more.  There's still rain, but it's not inside, and there's still dirt, but it's less inside.

This year, the sleeping arrangement will be a little more interesting since we now have 4 children (including a baby who needs a pack and play so he doesn't fall off of the bed), but we've come up with something that should work pretty well.  We'll see!

Over the years, I've tweaked a camping list that makes packing so much easier.  Although, I still forget things and get to hear, "don't you have that on the list?"  Like I've said, the list gets continually tweaked.  Anyway, I thought I'd share it here since I've been asked for it in the past.  It's pretty handy!

Touching a snake with the park ranger.


Chicken Scratch - Part 4 - Back to the Farmer

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

After the episode, I decided that raising chickens wasn't really my thing, but my husband thought that the $150 spent on the chicken tractor (not to mention the entire day spent building the thing) was sufficient reason enough to keep the chickens. 

Desperate to convince him that these chickens needed to GO, I decided to find out if having chickens where we lived was actually legal.  So, I spent a couple hours looking online at zoning ordinances and calling the township (probably should have done this before hand, but, in my defense, there were cows across the street...).  And much to my pleasant surprise, it was, in fact, illegal to have chickens where we lived.  Score!!!

Nate, being one to follow the letter of the law, couldn't argue.

Permission granted, I had to get these chickens back to Farmer John.  And quick.

My elderly neighbor lady came over one day.   

"I see you have chickens," said she. 

Not knowing if she was for or against, I quickly said, "Yes, but don't worry.  They are going back to the farmer...as soon as I can figure out how to get them into their cage."

Rolling up sleeves on her ample arms, she furrowed her brow.  "Grew up on a farm until I was 19.  I'll get 'em in for ya." 

My deliverer!  I ushered her over to the tractor. 

Now, remember how I mentioned that we never made a door on this tractor?  I knew this was going to be interesting as we started pulling off part of the fencing that was stapled (note to self: use nails next time - this is a story for another day) on the wood.

Once we got enough of the fencing pulled off, she lowered her large frame to sturdy knees and stuck the upper part of her body in the coop.  She reached out and grabbed at a chicken.  Missed.  Grabbed at another.  Missed.  Finally, with a force that I did not know she posessed, she grabbed a hen by its legs and slammed it to the ground.  She grunted, reached behind - right at me - with that flapping bird and said, "Push it in the cage!  Get its wing down!" 

WHAT?!!  Touch the thing?!  I thought she said she'd take care of this and now I have to TOUCH it?! 

I cringed and winced as I gingerly stuck out one finger and poked at the outstretched wing (this was the first time I touched a chicken - at least a living one).  I do believe she got a little impatient with my fear of (living) chickens and shoved that bird, outstretched wing and all, headfirst into the cage.  Huffing and puffing, she got back down and proceeded to level each bird in turn and stuff them into their prison. 

Singing her praises and thanking her profusely, I put the cage into my car (okay, I think she put it in my car...), loaded up the kids, and drove straight to Farmer John's house to return the defiled goods. 

He wasn't home, but I was not taking them back with me.  So, I grabbed the cage with cautious fingers (positioned as far away from their beaks as possible), placed it in his yard where I hoped he'd see it when he returned, and took off.   

I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.  My chicken adventures were over.  Or so I thought...
Part 5


Beating the Heat

It was a stifiling 90 something degree day yesterday, so this seemed most appropriate.  :)


Time at the Cabin

Birchwood Cabin's Living Room/Dining Room
My parents own Limberlost Cabins in Presque Isle (say: "preskeel"), MI. There are two side-by-side very spacious, family-friendly cabins on beautiful Grand Lake. (I happen to rent these cabins out - if you're interested in renting one...or both...see the website above for lots of pics and more information.  :) )

We spent Memorial weekend at Birchwood Cabin with my side of the family. 8 adults and 8 kids!

Along with spending some quality relaxing time at the cabin, we went to two lighthouses and an art fair. 

My dad and Tommy

Swinging at the Presque Isle Lighthouse

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