Category: Photos

On the Road Again: part 3

Finally, the rest of the post so I can move on to all the stuff that has been happening since August.

After spending several hours at the Maryland Science Center (and $15 poorer due to the cost of parking), we were off again, this time to spend the night a bloggy friend’s house for the night before heading to another bloggy friend’s house on the way home the next day. I have known Deb for several years now (initially through the web and later through a previous stop on the way home from our semiannual trip to visit another friend.) Her kids are in a similar age range to my own and they all thoroughly enjoy each other. ¬†Also Deb is full of awesome ideas and I love to absorb as much as I can while visiting. ūüôā

There was a lot of mommy talk (poor Deb barely got any quiet I am afraid), dress-up and costumes (mostly the girls though they have plenty of awesome boy costumes and the boys got in on it),

quite a few practical jokes, light-saber and Nerf gun battles galore with some Lego’s thrown in the mix, and of course lots of swimming.

We had a lovely time and the kids had a hard time leaving.

Visiting friends

Though I suspect poor Deb, who keeps a gorgeous, amazingly decorated, (and CLEAN) house despite having 4 kids and has an awful lot on her plate, was ready for a break. ¬†And isn’t this a beautiful picture ¬†of her and her youngest (okay, not a great picture but I love the mommy love going on in it.) ¬†So thank you again, Deb, for opening your home to us and your wonderful hospitality. ¬†You were such a blessing to us (and my house loves you– you are such an inspiration and it is much better organized and all those little things that I put off have happened since our last visit. ¬†I swear, one of these days I am going to kidnap you so you can help me make my house look nice.)

Visiting friends

We then hopped in the car (it melting out and the one downside of our lovely, wonderful, blessing of a Toyota Sienna is that the air conditioning is meh if anything so 100 degrees was a bit much.)  We headed north, back to PA, were we spent several wonderful hours visiting this wonderful family (I have known Beth online for as long as I have known Deb but as they only just moved to PA from Tennessee and I have never been to Tennessee  this was our first time meeting. )

We spent so much time busy and talking and talking and talking, well, we forgot to take pictures. ¬†Where Deb is an inspiration (I always come home full of awesome ideas and my house spends the next month getting much more organized :)), Beth is a kindred spirit. ¬†So mostly we talked books, books, art, books, books, kids, books, books, Christianity, books, cooking, books, unschooling, books, and possibly, books. ¬†Her oldest gave his Lego collection over to Issac for the day (who relished some much needed alone time playing), the girls hit it off like that (and are bugging and bugging for another visit), and all the kids headed down to the creek for a long wade and some crayfish catching. ¬†I came home with several amazing books to read (Nourishing Traditions I bought myself having seen it at Beth’s and discussed it with her), Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus she gave me (it has changed our lives and our relationship with God– heartily recommend it), plus a creation dinosaur book (Dinosaurs by Design) that we didn’t have for Essie to read due to her sudden fascination with all¬†things¬†dinosaur (we had this one and¬†this one. ¬†Oh, and she sent me home with some raw milk, which we tried, love, (can DRINK!!!), and which immediately spawned a search for a raw milk producer in the area (52 minutes away is the closest but what a blessing!) ¬†I can’t wait to go back and pick her brain about a multitude of things (and as I mentioned my oldest especially reminds me daily that we need to go back for a visit.. ¬†Of course now that both families have weekly¬†activities¬†it has been tricky to find the time but¬†God’s¬†timing is perfect and I am looking forward to the next visit (and can’t wait till they can get here to visit us!)

I’m that Mom

Joining in on an awesome, impromptu blog carnival over here.

(I am deliberately not reading everyone else’s until I have finished writing mine, except for the 2 I saw that made me realize that this is a cool thing that I actually want to join in on because I suspect a lot of us overlap and I want to share who I am without worrying about that it may be a “YEAH, ME TOO.”)

I am that mom who, when the kids ask if we can please go visit our friends 5 hours away tomorrow, says yes, starts packing, and goes.
Rachel and Kayla

I am that mom who upon finding out the the oldest’s best friend (who lives 2 days away) might be able to come stay for a week says YES.

I am that mom who on 4th of July goes fireworks chasing with the kids, driving all over¬†tarnation¬†looking at everyone’s awesome displays, ¬†instead of taking them to sit in a huge crowd and watching one display.


I am that mom who would rather take the kids to the pond to swim or sit and watch hours upon hours of anime, Dr. Who, favorite movies, or As Time Goes By with the crazy, wonderful kids than worry about what the neighbors think of her children’s nearly dead flower/veggie garden and too tall grass.
I am that mom who when the kids decide to build a tent/tree house/whatever in the back yard says nothing or helps them find the needed materials, knowing that again the neighbors will wonder about the people next door ruining the view from their perfect yards.

I am that mom who runs outside with the kids in the pouring rain to look for rainbows.

I am that mom who, when the kids find their long lost roller blades and ask if they can go somewhere to roller blade, suggests they roller blade in the house on our fake hard wood floors and allow them to continue to wear them for everything for the next week.

I am that mom who lets her kids turn her entire kitchen into a restaurant for days at a time and play with their food.
Larry the Cucumber

I am that mom who, when her son asks to take all the blankets from all over the house and use them to jump on, says yes.

I am that mom who takes a camera wherever her kids go and takes pictures of all the awesome things they do.

Super straw

I am that mom who, when her kids want to mow the grass says yes and then says nothing about the stripes of extra tall grass left behind and the odd, rather like a maze, style of cutting grass her oldest prefers.

I am that mom who, when a kid says “come see this cool thing” stops what she is doing to go see (and it always IS really cool!)


I am that mom who realizes that her middle child loves the stage and when she asks signs her up and takes her to a performing arts camp the very next week.

I am that mom who still loses her cool, who still gets frustrated when the kids have totally trashed the place (not a problem) and then don’t clean it up (a problem), who has bad days and does not cope so well when the kids are fighting, again.
Issac room

I am that mom who still has a long way to go but loves where her kids are exactly where they are regardless of the stage they are in, loves being with them, and thinks they are totally awesome and fun.
Alameda Park 2010
Yes, this is an extended version, I got started and kept going (which anyone who knows me in person knows this is VERY typical.)

Rhythm to our days

Our family does not live by a schedule in any way shape or form.  None of us like themРour whole family gets horribly stressed with a schedule.  I know there are people out there who NEED a list or schedule, who thrive if they know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, next week. We are not those people. Knowing I have to do something at a specific time next week stresses me out for the whole time preceding that activity and I find it impossible to focus on the other things I need to get done in that time.

However, we do seek patterns, rhythms that help us discern what comes next depending on the season we are in. ¬†The times change as does the order but there is a general idea in everyone’s head as to what is likely to happen on any given day.

A lot of our rhythm focuses on my husband and where he is in his odd 26 hour day wake/sleep cycle.  When he is sleeping from 4am to 12pm our rhythm as a family is different than when he is sleeping from 4pm to 12am.  It also focuses on how many hours he is working.  When he is working 40 hr weeks (almost never) our family rhythm is different than when he is working 60 or 80 hr weeks (as he has been for the last 12 months.)
There are also certain elements that are always included in our family rhythm while others are seasonal. ¬†Always included of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. ¬†Always included is a daily reading of the Bible as a family. ¬†Those are givens though sometimes breakfast is the big meal while in other seasons snack is and in some seasons we read just 1 chapter of the Bible quickly with little discussion and others we read many and discuss every few seconds of reading. ¬†Of course one other given is sleep. ¬†We all need a lot of sleep (with the RA I need about 10 hrs) so sleep is always a given. ¬†On a weekly basis our rhythm nearly always includes a trip to the library, a trip to my grandmother’s (1/2 hr drive away and takes most of the afternoon evening), a trip to the thrift shop (or three), an hour of everyone cleaning up the house so that we can all move without stumbling on things left behind, and a trip to the grocery store.

Right now we are in a season and look to be shifting to a new one because of changes in weather and hubby’s sleep and changes in which days he has “off” (from his programming job so he can work on his writing which is his other job–he only takes 1 day off completely a week– Saturday which he jealously guards). ¬†It is also changing because I am working about 20+ hours a week on various projects.
For the past week our rhythm has included me making all meals (because of re-instituting the Candida diet), driving to the pond to swim twice a day (because the afternoons are way too hot and one hour swimming in the morning and one in the evening have been working well for the kids), a quiet time in the afternoon so I can work and run errands because the kids are worn out after all that swimming, and  an evening reading of the Bible before we head back to the pond.

Right now we are in a state of flux. ¬†Hubby’s sleep has shifted again, I have work to get done, the weather has cooled a bit so that an afternoon swim is probably the best choice, we would like to fit a trip to one of the Pittsburgh museums in on a weekly or at least biweekly basis, Rachel is going to be working on piano with a friends daughter, and Essie wants to go to a performing arts camp next week (I am praying they have an opening–have to call today and find out), and the kids are settling into the Candida diet and getting comfortable so I don’t have to fix their every meal. ¬†It will be interesting to find the next pattern, to see the next rhythm.
Already the kids are staying up later and sleeping in longer so they have more time with Daddy while he is awake but I happen to know there is a game on his computer that ONLY works on his computer that we are all aching to play and that some of the time he is asleep is going to be spent playing it.  Already they are asking less to go to the pond for a swim and instead are spending lots and lots of time drawing or playing with Legos (Issac is trying to design a robot that utilizes water in its designРinspired by Falling Waters and a water works plant that has a huge built in waterfall on the side on the way to the Science Center.)  The girls are spending a lot of time playing with friends on Build-a-bear and Skype and reading.

And so we will see where it leads and what God has planned for us next. ¬†Regardless, it won’t be boring which is great because I hate too much repetition and adore change and the good Lord knew that when He gave me this wonderful, ever changing family.

Oddly Exciting Day

Odd as in what an odd day. Exciting as in what an exciting day.

It started with gluten-free crepes, goats cheese, and berries for the kids and a trip to the pond where I read, cleaned out the car, and took a paddle boat ride. ¬†I also tested out the new digital camera I got yesterday which is a whole other blog post but its a cheap one (under $100) but I needed something that didn’t have dust on the lens so I could get decent photos of my work for several upcoming projects.

When we returned home Issac and I vacuumed out the car. While doing so Issac spotted the UPS man and insisted on bringing in the box himself. (He is such a funny kid.) Shamus’ new hard drive had come but didn’t come with the SATA cable he needed so Issac and I trekked out, yet again, and got it for him. ¬†On the way home I got gas (in order to redeem my extra trip out) and at his request we did one of his favorite things: got the car washed. ¬†(I only get the car washed once or twice a year and apparently the other kids were devastated that they didn’t get to go so next time it will be a family affair.) ¬† You can’t see it in the picture because he kept moving too fast but he is grinning ear to ear and telling me all about how it works.

Isac and the car wash

I spent most of the afternoon reorganizing my blog feeds and setting everything up so I could switch from Opera (which I love but I am having some issues with and more and more sites won’t open in it) to Google Chrome. (Firefox was great until they started adding bells and whistles and it started slowing my computer down.) The kids have reinstated quiet time and were lying down waiting for me to read to them. I was just about to do so when the mail came and I ran out to check it. Inside the mailbox was a huge package, which I assumed was a test set f the card game I am starting work on. It wasn’t. When I pulled it out I found this; which if course you can’t read. ¬†It says: Gift for you on the sticker, and down below it says Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. ¬†And inside was this: but with OUR name on it. ¬†Really! The family I am working with on the game sent us a premium membership for Carnegie Museums. We haven’t had even a regular one since the last time we were on the Candida diet–which I just realized and which is very odd since we just started the Candida diet again, after 5 years, last week. ¬†And this time around we have an awesome, doesn’t break down every time you leave the driveway, vehicle. ¬†Anyway, since tomorrow is supposed to be the first cooler, stormy day in over a week, I just filled the car with gas and cleaned it, I don’t currently have any work I NEED to complete right away, Friday is the day we usually visit my grandmother and she is on the way, we are heading to the Science Center tomorrow.

And I suspect that throughout the summer you are going to be seeing less photos like this:

and more photos like this:
At the Science Center
And this:
At the Science Center

We are looking forward to being able to beat the crowds, visit other science centers when we go visit friends, go to the art and natural history museums when we take a trip to Trader Joes, and best of all, with the premium membership we get to take 5 friends along. ¬†As the kids keep saying, “we just can’t sop smiling!”

What we are doing

Monica asked What are you doing this week? in her All I want to say that won’t fit on Twitter post and since I have some new photos, am trying to share more often, and since I have to open her site in Google to comment because for some reason I can’t comment on her site in Opera, I thought I would share my answer here and then link to her post so you too can answer her question.

This morning we decided to head to the pond early since it is supposed to get up to 90-something (which it did and it is HOT here). Plus I needed borrow my dad’s camera to take some quality photos of a commission for a client. My camera is stupid and slightly broken (dust or some-such on the lens causing all sorts of trouble which is sad because I LOVED that camera) though it still works it doesn’t work for high end photos for digital commissions.

So we went and the kids swam and I took photos of the painting. Then, because I already had it out with my sd card in I took some higher quality photos of the kids than I have been able to take for a while.


After an hour of the kids swimming (with me taking pictures) the girls decided it was time for lunch and Issac decided to hang out with Pappap for the rest of the day. Now they are having a Dr. Who marathon– the whole series from the beginning (new Dr. Who) up until they run out on Netflix download play.


Meanwhile I am waiting (stupid holiday weekend) for a new camera to come in the mail (need it for upcoming projects) and praying that it will suit (it was only $60 so I am nervous).


I edited the painting photos for website use and sent that out, uploaded all the pictures of my crazy big kids, and now am pondering a website design I am supposed to be working on.
Finished Simming and Heading Home

As far as the rest of the week goes?  Who knows.  I like living day to day and hate schedules of any sort.  Hopefully this week will include getting a new camera, getting the prototype of the game I am working on, working on the website that I am supposed to be doing,.  As far as the kids goРprobably lots of swimming, hopefully some cleaning up, most likely some camping out , and very likely lots of chatting on Skype with friends.

The Fireworks Chasers

So yesterday the kids heard firecrackers in the neighborhood and went outside to see if they could find them. A few minutes later I joined them.

Fireworks taken by Rachel

After a few minutes of attempting to watch them through the trees we decided to take a walk and see what we could see.

Fireworks taken by Rachel

And a few minutes after that, we were on the way to the car to see if we could find even better fireworks.

Fireworks taken by Rachel

*This is rural Western PA here. Lots of hills, mountains, trees, and LOTS of fireworks, even though they are illegal.

Fireworks taken by Rachel

Within 5 minutes we had tracked down a huge party with professional fireworks and a farmtrack where we could park to watch them.

Fireworks taken by Rachel

The kids had a great time and I decided that it isn’t that I don’t like fireworks, its that I hate sitting in a hot parking lot waiting for an hour (so you get a decent spot to watch) to watch an hours worth of fireworks and afterwards sit for an hour and a half in a hot car, in a huge line of cars, with hungry, needing to use the restroom kids in the back trying to LEAVE said parking lot.

Fireworks taken by Rachel

And so today, on the fourth of July, we went fireworks chasing again.

Fireworks taken by Rachel

This time a friend gave us a heads up and we headed towards the area she suggested. We found several great spots, especially a huge display of professionally done fireworks that was closer than we have ever seen them (safely so– when you are in a crowd it is hard to get close to the show.)

Fireworks taken by Rachel

I suspect, judging from how much fun the kids had, that THIS will be our new July 4th tradition.

Standing in the Darkness, Waiting for the Light

The following is ¬†Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest for February 14.

Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him.

At the pond

Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into “the shadow of His hand” until we learn to hear Him (Isaiah 49:2 ). “Whatever I tell you in the dark. . .”‚ÄĒ pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet.
Snow at Night
If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood‚ÄĒ darkness is the time to listen. Don‚Äôt talk to other people about it; don‚Äôt read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.
Snow! Issac building snow fort
After every time of darkness, we should experience a mixture of delight and humiliation. If there is only delight, I question whether we have really heard God at all. We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him! Then we will exclaim, “How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!” And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks. But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart‚ÄĒ a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now.Snow

Happy Valentine’s Day

This is a repost from last year.  With 3 sick kids and all the other stuff I have going on this is all the energy I have.

Honestly I am more likely celebrate it being Friday the 13th than Valentine’s Day–at least Friday the 13th is interesting and different.¬† But since I am not a pagan and not the least bit superstitious I don’t really celebrate either.¬† Once upon a time I did, I longed for someone, anyone, to give me a nice, romantic¬† Valentine’s Day gift and was always devastated when no one did (even if I got something it never lived up to my romantic aspirations.)

About 5 years ago, maybe more, God dealt with my heart on this issue.¬† Honestly, there is no way ANYONE or ANYTHING can live up to such romantic twaddle as the world would have us believe and get all caught up in.¬† And honestly, if it weren’t for the world telling you it was important, would you REALLY care?¬† We are loved and cherished beyond anything by our Lord and Saviour, and HE never runs out and buys us flowers, chocolates , and a romantic card.¬† Instead He blesses us with beautiful wildflowers, incredible sunsets, His wonderful Word, and all sorts of small daily blessings–so many that if we just open our eyes to see we are amazed at His love for us.

And so, nowadays instead of moping about not getting a gift I don’t really care about on a designated day that I don’t really care about, I realize how blessed I am to have a husband who loves me every single day and shows it, and a God who loves me even more than my husband, and who goes out of the way to show me every single day.¬† And I challenge you to do the same.¬† Even if you don’t have a great relationship if you are a child of God then you are LOVED. ¬† I challenge you to find women in your life who have no one, who struggle, who need to know that they are loved, and go out of your way to show them your (and God’s) love for them.

And I offer you a Valentine’s Card just from me to each of you, and offer it to you to share with whom ever you feel needs to know that they too are loved.

My Valentine’s gift to you.¬† Have a blessed day regardless of your circumstances and relationships and know that you are loved with everlasting love that goes beyond that of any mortal (John 3:16).

Valentine back

Valentine front

close up front

close up back

Happy Birthday Rachel

Today my oldest baby turns 12.
The time went faster than I could imagine when she was my chatty little thing who wanted all the attention, all the time.
She is now a chatty big thing who wants all the attention all the time,
Iceskating 2010
but who also loves to give the perfect gift, be silly and creative, is determined to be herself regardless of what others think (and she REALLY doesn’t care what her peers or the world thinks about her or her style),
Rachel's birthday
who loves good books and movies, who totters on the edge between growing up and staying a little girl.
Rachel's birthday
She loves little girl (and boy) things still but not as much as she once did. There is a constant struggle within between the lure of grownup things and little girl things.
Rachel's birthday
We were going to take everyone to Chuck E. Cheese for her birthday– because she likes tradition and that is something we have done for a few years now but then migraine for Daddy meant that Daddy couldn’t go. Instead she chose to go out just with me to our favorite Chinese restaurant (where, unlike most places, she can easily eat) and then to T.J. Max to look at clothes, Claire’s Boutique to spend some birthday money on fake hair (she wore a pigtail that matched her hair but with purple shiny stuff running through to church this morning), then Michael’s for some watercolor paper. She had almost spent that money on a Fur Real kitty but after time and some thought went for the things she really wanted and enjoys.
Rachel's b-day cake
We are on the verge of adulthood here and the conflict within is a struggle for my childhood loving daughter. The cake she originally wanted was to be a cake decorated like the pond with a Cabbage Patch Kid ice skater on top. At the last minute she changed her mind to flowers and pink icing– a grown up cake, but she kept the sparkler candles instead of going for more sedate ones. It is interesting to see how she is developing, choosing deliberately each step of the way, when to go with her grown up urge and when to stick with her childlike one. At times we feel like we live with Katie Kaboom and yet the kabooms are getting less often as she settles into this new semi-grown up person she is becoming.

Appreciate a Dragon Day

Being that I adore dragons (always have, well since I gave up on unicorns in the 4th grade) and thoroughly enjoyed Donita K. Paul’s Dragons series I thought I would share some of my favorite dragons for Appreciate a Dragon Day. ¬†(My two very favorites are in the bedroom where my hubby is asleep so…. they are sleeping dragons and we let sleeping dragons lie.)

First is the one I did when Cat mentioned feeling like a dragon the other day (and which you have already seen):

Dragon doodle

Then there is the wonderful antique dragon coffee set my in-laws bought us last January for our anniversary (which is next weekend).

Dragon tea set

Also in our home is the Guardian of the Futon: the dragon I bought for Issac for his birthday last year at IKEA and which migrated downstairs so often that he eventually became our futon guardian.
IKEA dragon
Another favorite who often gets overlooked (because he sits like a gargoyle atop the shelf in the office is the Guardian of the Video Games.
Dragon guradian of the video game shelf
Below you will find my Bibliophile Dragon Horde painting (still unframed) above the awesome paper Chinese dragon Rachel made me.
Dragon horde + Rach's Chinese Dragon
And finally, because my favorite dragon shirt is in the summer clothes and because all my favorite dragon books (including The Enchanted Forest series, Here There Be Dragons, and “Max’s Dragon Shirt”, as well as the books mentioned above) are elsewhere, are two small dragons that keep me company at my desk:

Purple dragon

Rock dragon

And our favorite household dragon quote? ¬†“Dragon shirt” said Max.

Valerie Comer also has a post up for Appreciate a Dragon Day.