Glad To Be Home

Wow – the last four days went fast and boy am I glad for a day to chill at home. Subbing at the school on Thursday and Friday took a lot out of me. I enjoyed the first day but the second was exhausting. Nothing much different between the two days – just takes a lot out of me subbing as an Associate. I never know what classroom I’ll be in or what I’ll be doing and it’s different every time. This time I was with a child new to the school with a behavior disorder so it was a learning experience for me, for the child and for the teacher. And I get to go back this Thursday and Friday for the same child. The school is looking for a full time Associate but in the meantime they are taking turns with different Associates subbing. I had volunteered with the Color Run this Friday but agreed to work instead. I’m hoping I can still spend some time with Drew during the Color Run. Last Friday was Homecoming and I got to see Drew during the parade and the pep rally which was nice. Eric came home too for the weekend and for Homecoming. He requested meatloaf, potatoes and corn for supper for Friday night so that’s what we had. He’s a tad spoiled!

Saturday was spent with Abby and Braxton at the Kalona Fall Festival. It was lots of fun. We walked through the festival and the boys spent quite a bit of time playing in the corn area. That area is a favorite – kids love playing in shelled corn with buckets and shovels! After eating a lunch of homemade tacos and pie made by a Mennonite group we took the boys to the park and let them play. And then back to Abby’s house and more play time for the boys! It was a great day.

I had thought Sunday we would be staying home but Dad called and Joe went over there to help Dad start one of his tractors. Then Mom called and asked if Drew and I would want to come over for lunch so off we went. After that we headed home and spent the afternoon outside building a run for the chickens. I love having them free range but between them destroying my flower beds and the last few days deciding to cross the gravel road and wander in the neighbor’s pasture we decided we needed to pen them in. The neighbors don’t care if they wander over there but we don’t want them getting hit on the road. By the time we quit working on that it was getting late so we ran to town for supper at the Pizza Ranch. It had been months since we’d eaten there and it was a nice change of pace.

Today Drew and I aren’t feeling the best. I think I probably caught something from being at the school. That usually happens. And Drew has been fighting a cold. Today was a teacher in service day so no school so Drew got to sleep in and now he’s crashed on the couch watching cartoons. And I’m glad to have a day at home. No running anywhere, no plans. I’ll spend the day getting the house in order, working on laundry which hasn’t been touched for the past four days and chilling with Drew.  A great way to start the week!

Something To Celebrate

Saturday we had the privilege of celebrating my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie’s 50th wedding anniversary with them at their home. It was a small celebration – just family – and our family is small! It was such a fun day. The weather was beautiful so we spent the day outside under a shade tree. We wander around the farm and did a lot of chatting. It was wonderful to see my cousin Terri Jo and her kids as they live in Indiana and we rarely see them anymore. Fifty years is definitely something to celebrate and I hope we get to celebrate many more with these two wonderful people.

Too Much Camping?

These two – they went on hikes with Grandpa and Grandma and had so much fun. It fun to watch them together. Uncle and nephew and best buddies!

Is it possible to do too much camping? I’m beginning to wonder! After our nice long Labor Day trip and trying to get laundry caught up and the house put back together Abby asked us to go camping last weekend. So, we got home on Monday, ran errands out of town on Tuesday, spent Wednesday evening out at Belva Deer with dad and mom as they were camping and asked us out for supper and then loading the camper up Thursday and back out to Belva Deer we went. After all, when your daughter asks you to spend the weekend with them camping – you just can’t say no!

It turned out Jeremy’s family (Jeremy is our son-in-law) was having their annual family reunion at Belva Deer and the kids were debating whether to camp or not. So Abby asked us if we wanted to camp too and of course we said yes.  Jeremy works until 6:30 most evenings and works every Saturday and they can’t have their camper at their house because of the rules there so they keep their camper at Jeremy’s folk’s house, so that makes it hard for them to get it ready. I told Abby not to worry about food – we took care of that for them and we tagged their spot so they didn’t have to worry about what time they pulled in and not being able to find a spot. We had a great time. Dad and Mom stayed for the weekend too and we just enjoyed spending time with everyone.

Now that the weather is cooler – I get to enjoy the morning campfire again. I love a campfire in the morning before the kids are up, before the campground wakes up. Perfect way to start the day.

Then, once we got the camper home Sunday, Dad and Mom, Joe, Drew and I took a road trip to Pella. The only place Mom and Dad have ever camped is Belva Deer and they have wanted to try full hook up and have wanted to camp at Lake Red Rock in Pella. So, off we went to check out campgrounds and see which one they wanted to try. We have this weekend free but off we’ll be going the following weekend to Pella. I love camping in Pella. Joe and I were just there in August for our anniversary weekend. I’m looking forward to camping there with Dad and Mom. And fall camping is my absolute favorite. But, we have camped so much – it’s time for a break! Just to get caught up at home and to get the camper reorganized and just to simply be home! I’m hoping we can then have a couple weekends off and then maybe get in a weekend or two in in October. There’s nothing better than chilly mornings, crisp, comfortable days, then nice chilly evenings around the campground with the leaves turning and the smell of autumn. My all time favorite time of the year and my favorite time to spend outdoors. There’s nothing better!

And here it is, Wednesday already this week. The days are just flying by. Monday was spent getting caught up from the weekend. Yesterday I got caught up on watching Outlander. I’m addicted to the books and to the show and since the new season started Sunday I couldn’t watch the new episode until I had re-watched the first two seasons to get caught up. Joe doesn’t care for the show so I’ve been watching episodes during the day when I can but we’ve been so busy I wasn’t able to get them in until yesterday. Then I watched the first episode of the new season last night while Joe and Drew were out changing the oil in my van. I never thought I could get caught up in a series that’s based on time travel but oh my. The books have been a favorite of mine for years. I’ve read the series twice now and it takes me almost a year to get through them. Then when they decided to make the series I was skeptical. Usually if I love a book, I don’t care for it on the screen but not this time. I love the actors and the accents and the scenery and just everything about the show. I look forward to Sunday nights now for the next few weeks!

I got a lot of stitching in over the weekend too – sitting by the campfire!

And today I started walking with a friend. I dropped Drew off at school and drove over to Mary’s and off we went. We walked four miles and boy was I hurting by the time we were done! I so need this. I need the exercise and I need the socialization. It’s just so easy for me to not be around people. I’m perfectly happy spending my days here at home. I’ve always been a homebody but when I was working I had to socialize. Now, I have to make myself go out and do things. Unless it’s family related I tend to isolate and just be home. And walking in town, it’s like being in a whole new world! I’m used to going outside and it just being me and my chickens! We walked and talked and I saw parts of town I haven’t seen for awhile and we stopped and chatted with a couple of Mary’s neighbors and petted their dogs and waved at all the cars that drove by. It was fun! I’m glad I don’t live in town. I wouldn’t want to have neighbors around me all the time. The noise and the cars and all that goes with living in town, it’s just not for me. But, I’m looking forward to walking in the mornings with Mary and maybe even socializing a little with the people we meet. It will be an adventure!

Weekend, Progress and Another Start

One of my favorite things – enjoying a good campfire!

Wow, the weekend went fast. Saturday was spent at home just getting stuff done. Joe serviced Eric’s car and cleaned out the shop. I worked in the house. Drew spent the day helping his dad – I was told I wasn’t allowed outside! I love that he wants to spend so much time with his daddy! Then we ran out to Belva Deer for the evening and sat around the campfire with Dad and Mom as they had been camping most of the week. It was beautiful evening for sitting around the fire!

Between having all night Friday night to stitch and then stitching Saturday night while sitting by the fire – I’ve put a good dent in this. It’s a fun stitch!

Sunday was a fun filled day. We had a picnic at Belva Deer with Dad and Mom and my sister and Abby and Jeremy and Braxton came too! (I forgot to take my camera and so didn’t get any pictures.) It rained, which we still need the rain badly, so nobody complained. We just ate our lunch under the awning and sat crowded together and chatted. It was fun! When the rain stopped Braxton, Drew and I went for a walk and left some painted rocks for others to find. It worked too – Dad walked up the bathroom and came back with one of our rocks. He didn’t realize what we were doing and thought Drew had dropped it! After everybody had left except us and Dad and Mom, Eric texted asking where we were. He and his friend Ally had decided to come home to do their laundry! So, he came out and spent some time with Grandpa and Grandma. It was great to see him! He seems to be adjusting well to college life. I asked Abby if she had been hearing from him and she said yes and that she thought he was doing great. I love that my kids keep in contact with each other like that. If only Aaron could have been there, the day would have been perfect.

Since Abby was around I couldn’t stitch on the stocking so I got started on a little bit of fall stitching while sitting under the awning during the rain. Any idea what this is going to be? It’s by Jenny Hoffman, Country Rustic Primitives.

Today it’s nice and quiet around here. Joe is gone to work and Drew is gone to school. I plan to work in Drew’s room a little bit. Go through some clothes and organize his drawers. Tomorrow will be spent with a friend. Then it will be time to work on getting the camper ready for our big Labor Day Weekend camping trip. I have lists to make, food to prepare and a camper to organize. We’re looking forward to the weekend and spending it with good friends we hardly ever get to see. It’s always a fun time!



I searched and searched but could not find a picture of the stockings I made for Abby. These are my family stockings. As you can see – the first four match. Then Eric came along and I stitched him a Shepherd’s Bush stocking. Then Andrew – he loves that his is the biggest one of them all!

No – I am not ready for Christmas yet! I am ready for fall. We’re having such beautiful fall like weather and it’s my favorite time of the year but as I was searching through some of my favorite cross stitch designer’s patterns this morning looking for patterns to make my annual Christmas ornaments for Drew and Braxton I was not having much luck. Then I decided to check out the Shepherd’s Bush site and see what they had. I found a free snowman pattern that is so cute and I can customize it with different colors and add their names. Perfect! But searching the Shepherd’s Bush site led to panic mode! Oh my goodness – here I’ve been stuck in a rut not having anything really to work on crafty wise in the evenings, just yesterday I was thinking about how I’ve not been in a rut like this in years, when all of a sudden it hit me. I have to stitch a Christmas stocking for baby girl. Maybe that explains the rut – I knew there was something I needed to be working on. How could I have not remembered this before now? When Braxton was born I made Shepherd’s Bush stockings for Jeremy, Abby, and Braxton. I picked Shepherd’s Bush for many reasons – they are beautiful, they all match, they come in a kit and specifically, there are so many of them that I knew if/as Jeremy and Abby added to their family, I could easily find a pattern to fit in with what I had already made for them. The panic part is due to the fact that these stockings are big and intricate and take time – lots and lots of time! So, this morning Drew and  I picked a stocking, ordered it and now I will wait impatiently for everything to arrive – and I’ll have to break the news to Mom. She did all the sewing into stockings after I finished the cross stitch part last time. Hopefully she’ll feel up to the task again! In the meantime I should probably get started on the ornaments. With baby girl coming I’ll be making three this year instead of two!


After spending the day in Ottumwa shopping with Eric for college we made a spur of the moment decision to pick up supper in town and head out to Belva Deer and go for a hike. Drew had a free pizza from Casey’s he earned at school and we decided to use it tonight. It was a beautiful evening – cool and calm – perfect hiking weather!

There’s No Place Like Home – Except The Camper!


And again, we had an unplanned camping weekend out to Belva Deer! Dad and Mom pulled out last Monday and Eric and Drew and I ran out there for supper on Tuesday night. They mentioned they would like to have us come out and join them so when Joe got home Thursday off we went!  Eric came out Friday night for supper and a game or two of Bocce ball. It ended up being a little bit of a reunion of sorts then on Saturday as Mom’s two brothers and their wives and Dad’s twin sister and her husband came out for lunch and to visit through the afternoon. It’s always fun to visit with my wonderful and fun aunts and uncles and we don’t get to see them often enough. Drew made friends with the neighbor kids and had the best time. The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend. Beautiful temps all day and perfect cool campfire weather at night. The only thing that could have made it better would have been rain. Fun times camping – again!

When we got the camper home today I spent the afternoon cleaning it, with a little “help” from Drew! We scrubbed down counters and sinks and toilet, dusted every surface, vacuumed the carpets and scrubbed the floors. I still have to wash the bedding and make the bed back up and we’ll be all ready for next weekend as we’re off on our annual Clear Lake trip. Fun times with friends and a car show to beat all car shows. 1,000 cars or more in a parade around beautiful Clear Lake on Friday night and then the show on Saturday in the middle of the town of Clear Lake which sits right on the water. We look forward to this every year – the car show is fun but camping with great friends we see rarely is such a treat! And this year Joe’s sister and brother-in-law are going to visit us and check out the car show on Saturday. We are really excited for the weekend!

Recipe Wall

I finished a project today that I have been working on for awhile. I gathered up recipe cards handwritten by family members and framed them in little vintage frames. After getting my cupboards painted I decided it was time to put everything together and hang them. So far I have a card from my mom, my mother-in-law, my Grandma Houseal and my Step-Grandma Houseal. My aunt is looking to see if she has one from Grandma Ward and I’ve asked her if I could get one with her handwriting too. I love decorating with anything family and what’s more family than handwritten recipe cards from your loved ones. I’m afraid recipe cards are becoming a thing of the past. The same with cookbooks. It’s so much easier to get on Pinterest, find a recipe and print it off. I find myself doing this all the time. But they just aren’t the same as a handwritten card. Now I have something to look at when I’m doing dishes that reminds me of the many wonderful meals I’ve had, cooked by the wonderful women that have been and/or still are in my life. Cherished memories for sure!

I found this postcard in one of the frames. You never know what you’re going to find when you take apart an old frame. I always keep the things I find. I put this postcard back in the frame behind one of the recipes.
I love the different handwriting. Cursive is becoming obsolete and yet its so pretty and personal. My mom and her moms writing looks so similar. My mother-in-law hated her handwriting. She was left handed and when she was learning to write she said the nuns would tie her left hand behind her back and make her use her right.

Why Do We Camp?

We have been camping for years. At least 25 I would say. Our camping friends have changed throughout the years. Our campers have changed throughout the years. But still we camp. We got our first camper after Joe roofed a house for a friend. In payment, they gave him a camper. An old, dilapidated little camper actually. All the water lines were ruined and the refrigerator didn’t work. It was pretty much falling apart. But, we were young and thought we had hit the mother load! And we had so much fun in that little falling apart camper. We had friends who also had a little old camper, although it was in much better shape than ours, and we spent the weekends at one campground or another with them and their daughters. Their two girls and our two kids were so close in age and had so much fun together. They were from a neighboring community and the kids would never had gotten to be friends if we hadn’t spent so much time camping together.

That’s why we camp. We have made friends throughout the years with people we probably would have known as acquaintances but that would be it. Instead, when you spend weekends camping together you really get to know each other. In a whole different way! We have developed lifelong connections with these people and our kids have developed connections with others that they wouldn’t have in any other way.

It’s different now that we only have one little to take along. And times have changed too. At one time there would no less than four kids and usually many more and those kids would take off in a “pack” and hit the playground or go hiking or ride their bikes all over the campground. They had to check in so we knew they were okay but otherwise were free to roam. They would inevitably make new friends from around the campground. Friends they probably would never see again but they still touched each other’s lives for a day or two. They also spent most nights in a tent and not in the camper. They had way more fun together in the tent away from parents! Camping was a whole different world for them and they loved it. Even as they got older they would want to come with us and camp.

Today is not quite the same. All of our camping friends are our age and so their kids are either teenagers or are gone and so Drew doesn’t get the same experience as our older kids did. And times have changed. You don’t just let kids roam today and check in once in awhile. It Drew wants to play at the playground or ride his bike, an adult goes along. There is no letting him take off on his own and explore. But he still makes new friends. The last time we camped he met the little girl who was staying next door with her grandparents. They would ride their bikes and play with chalk and had a great time. Over the weekend we visited my sister who was camping and Drew spent the evening playing on the play equipment set up where we could sit and watch. He loved playing with a group of kids he’d never met before. Kids don’t get to do that much anymore. We have to be too much on guard at all times to let them make friends with strangers.

But the best part of camping is being together. When it’s just you and your kids at a campground for the weekend there is nothing else to do but spend time together. There is no house to clean or yard to mow or any other day to day chores. It’s just family and sitting around the campfire or playing a game of cards or riding bikes together or going on a hike. For us, camping has been the best activity we could have ever done together as a family. We didn’t go on big vacations, instead we spent our weekends together camping. And I wouldn’t change that for anything. I asked my daughter why her and her husband decided to buy a camper and she said some of her best memories of growing up are of us camping and she wants that for her children too. That’s why we camp.

Change In Plans

Ready for a road trip!

We didn’t go camping this past weekend like planned. We spent Saturday in Coon Rapids with Joe’s family instead. It was their county fair and they decided at the last minute to put a float in the parade and asked us to come up. Joe’s brother just bought a tractor that was identical to the first tractor their dad had owned and they thought it would be fun to put it in the parade. They pulled a hay rack and had family sit on the hayrack. Albert, who is 91, had a great time throwing candy out to the spectators and the kids had a blast squirting everyone with squirt guns! There wasn’t room for everyone to sit on the rack so a few of us watched the parade and took pictures instead.

Heading to the hay rack!

After the parade we went out for lunch at the local bowling alley then visited with Albert for a little while before heading home. It was great to see Albert enjoy the day!

On the way home we stopped at Bass Pro Shop for some cheap entertainment. Drew loves to see the fish and all the animals in the store. Someone had their Great Dane there and what a beautiful majestic dog to see! We all tried our hand at shooting targets. (I wasn’t very good at it!) Then onto Casey’s for gas and ice cream cone and a drive around Lake Red Rock and supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Pella before finally heading home. Drew couldn’t wait to get home, let Isee lose and then run and play outside. It was a long day but we had fun!