Peonies and T-Ball

It’s always nice to get back into our routine after a long weekend. Although holiday weekends are lots and lots of fun, there’s something to be said for the regular day to day routine of living.

My peony bush has finally bloomed and it is beautiful! I’ve never seen so many blooms on this bush. I have four other bushes I planted last year. They came up this year but are small and aren’t blooming. I hope they do better next year. Five bushes blooming would be so pretty!

Waiting patiently for his first time at bat.

Drew had his first t-ball game. It was held in Parnell. The game was to start at 5:30 but after some kind of mix up they ended up not playing until 6:30. At least they didn’t just send us home. We were willing to wait an hour and get the game in and not have to come back some other time. They don’t keep score, everyone gets to bat and everyone goes out on the field. It was pretty comical to watch and the boys all had fun. We stopped in North English on the way home for ice cream. Next game is Friday in Williamsburg. We just might have to stop in North English again on our way home – they have great ice cream!

He had no idea what he was doing behind the plate. He never got off his knees! He said it was fun though!

The Rest Of Our Memorial Day Weekend


I had two things I planned to get done over the long weekend – help Joe finish the lean to and hang some lights I had made on the pergola. What did get done? The dog kennel and lots of fun! Sunday we spent the day in Des Moines with my sister. They have neighbors who own a “lake” where they get to camp for free and they are the only ones who camp there. It’s 10 minutes from their home in Norwalk so they go out often. Lots of fishing, playing in the sand and yummy food was had by all! We were there all day and didn’t get home until after 9:00 p.m. and we were wore out!

The lake was an old quarry and back in the 90’s it was known as Clearwater Lake. They held concerts there and the lake was used for swimming. The Beach Boys played there at one time. I remember hearing about it but Joe and I were busy starting a family in the 90’s and never went. The old stage is still there and the old lifeguard stand. It’s a neat place for Beth to get to camp.

Monday saw us up and revamping the kennel. We made it out of hog panels and steel posts. The dog house is in one corner and it’s very roomy. Izzy had spent the past few years living in a horse stall so we thought she would enjoy the freedom of this kennel. And she seemed to be okay with it. As long as we were outside. As soon as we went in the house she would get out. We discovered she was climbing up the hog panels and then jumping out! So, we put a chain link cover over the top. And we covered one end with a tarp for shade. I know – it sounds very redneck. But it doesn’t look too bad and she is nice and safe. Plus – it didn’t cost us anything as we used what we had. She can’t get out, she has a nice insulated dog house, plenty of shade, grass to lie in, food and water. She seems happy and we can relax knowing she is comfortable and safe.

I never tire of the beautiful views at Belva Deer!

After finishing up the kennel and eating lunch Joe mowed the yard while I finished planting flowers and swept the deck. Then we took Izzy to Belva Deer where we met Dad and Mom for a picnic. Eric met us out there too. Izzy loved it. She is such a people person and she loved on everyone and she loved going for a walk. She was wore out after so much excitement and fell asleep on the way home. Then when we got home she went straight to her dog house and laid down. I think she’s liking her new family and home!

For a weekend with no plans except working around the house we sure did a lot of running but it was also a relaxing and fun weekend. Lots of family fun!

Change Of Plans


Our Saturday plans – build a kennel for Izzy then go to Des Moines to visit my sister. Sounds simple. We got up and started on the kennel. Then my dad called. He had his Mule stuck in a ditch on the side of the road and was afraid it was going to tip. So we ran over there and helped pull him out. That was a close one. Back home and I get a phone call. Abby had ordered a sign to be made by a friend, could I pick it up for her? Drew and I headed over to pick up the sign. Abby’s friend is the daughter of a good friend of mine and I had worked with her when I worked for the city so of course I had to stay and have a chat. And Drew had to see their chickens, goats and bottle calf. That took about an hour. On the way home Mom texted and said the greenhouse had fresh strawberries. So, off to the greenhouse for strawberries we went.

By the time we got home it was noon. Joe finished up on the kennel while I made lunch. Beth texted and said it was raining in Des Moines. Mom texts and asks if we want to go out for supper with them. So change of plans. We’ll go to Des Moines on Sunday and go out for supper with Dad and Mom. As we are in town getting gas with Dad and Mom our phones go off – tornado warning for our area. The sky looked really scary. But we were heading out of the storm area so off we went. It ended up being a beautiful evening in Mt. Pleasant. The restaurant was an experience. It was very busy and very small. There was seating outside but no empty tables so we went inside. A very small space, not much seating but we lucked out and found a table. The décor was fun, rustic, and the menu was big. They are known for their tenderloins so Mom and I got those. Joe and Dad got pineapple burgers and loved them. Joe and I definitely want to go back. After eating we spent some time walking by the Skunk River and through the campground on the other side of the river from the restaurant. It was a fun spur of the moment adventure. It’s good to be flexible sometimes!

A Visitor, Izzy and a Visit With Dr. Anderson

This beautiful guy was a visitor by our backdoor yesterday. Isn’t he pretty? He was all spread out on the patio then later I saw he was sitting on my birdhouse by the backdoor. And then he was gone. I think he just wanted to show off his colors for us to enjoy!

Wednesday was Drew’s last day of school. He got out at 10:40. We came home, ate some lunch then headed to Ottumwa for his hearing check up to see if getting his tonsils and adenoids out and tubes in his ears helped with his hearing and the fluid build up. He was so worried. He thought if he didn’t pass the hearing test he’d have the surgery again. We explained it all to him but he still worried. He got so excited during the test we he realized he really could hear. You could see what a relief it was for him!

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Drew and I spent most of the day outside working in the yard, transplanting flowers and playing with Izzy. I didn’t get everything done I was wanting to but it was nice to get as much done as I did! Later in the early evening Drew had a t-ball scrimmage then we took him over to Grandpa and Grandma’s to spend the night and then visit Braxton today. Joe and I drove out to Belva Deer to see if the campground was full for Memorial Day and it was. I was kind of hoping he’d suggest we pull the camper out but he didn’t and it’s just as well as we wouldn’t have found a spot anyway.

Dr. Anderson has the neatest fish aquarium in his waiting room. It is huge and is full of all kinds of fish. This is only a small portion of the whole thing. We see something different every time we visit and it makes waiting to much more enjoyable. We sometimes wish we would get to wait longer as Dr. Anderson is good about getting people in quickly although I’m not complaining. Short waits at the doctor’s office is a good thing!

Today it’s raining. I’m hoping the rain moves on so I can finish with my flowers although I might have to mud them in! I’m hoping to get it all finished today so I can help Joe make a kennel for Izzy tomorrow and hopefully finish up the lean to. I have projects I need his help with but want his lean to done first. Why is it that our lives get so busy that we can’t finish a simple project in a decent time? Oh well. Hopefully this long weekend ahead we can get a few things done, a few things started and maybe take some time to run up to Des Moines and visit my sister where they are camping. That can be Drew’s adventure! I’m going to stay away from the computer too as much as I can. I want to enjoy these next few days with my guys!


Meet Izzy

This is Izzy, the newest member of our family. She’s a five year old Vizsla and we brought her home last night. We lost our Black Lab Elly about a year and a half ago and knew we would get another dog eventually but hadn’t found the right fit for our family yet. Then Mom heard from a friend that she had two Vizslas that she was trying to find homes for. Her husband had passed away and she was needing to find homes for all of their animals as she wasn’t able to care for them all herself.

We headed over to her house after supper and fell in love with Izzy. We weren’t looking for a puppy. We were looking for a dog that was out of the puppy stage and had been worked with a little bit. We thought eventually we would go to a shelter and look for one but we are so happy with Izzy. She’s a little older than we were thinking we wanted but she’s such a gentle and calm dog. She loves Drew and she just seemed like the perfect fit. I tried to get a good picture of her but she was way more interested in checking out her surroundings than posing for a picture!

Joe is hoping to hunt with her. She was pointing the chickens when we got her home! And Drew is looking forward to summer and playing with his new friend. I’m just glad to have a dog again. I think every little boy needs a dog and for some reason I always feel better knowing we have a dog outside keeping an eye on us. I think our family is complete now. I think we have enough pets now. Pierre Piddlepants the cat, Esther, Ethel, Beaky and Blacky the chickens and now Izzy the dog. Now to get Drew to do his chores!

Am I Just Getting Old?

Drew started t-ball a few days ago. Now, with four kids I’ve been through this before. Three times before in fact. I thought I knew the drill. I was sure I knew the ropes. Nope. I don’t. He had practice last Sunday. That was a new one. Practice on Sunday. But the coaches explained it was the only day they could get the field for the little kids. Otherwise the older teams get it. Okay. Then, it was also picture day so they were to show up in uniform. They provide uniform tops and we provide the ball pants. No problem. I dig out an old pair of Eric’s or Aaron’s (they could have been Abby’s originally, who knows) pants and throw them on. Put his plain black soccer socks on as they hardly show anyway so what does it matter and his tennis shoes and away we go. Wrong again. We get there and all the other kids (almost all the other kids) are there in name brand pants, name brand socks, name brand cleats, sporting bat bags and brand new bats and wearing batting gloves.  They look like miniature pro ball players. And then we get the schedule. The six/seven year old t-ball team travels in a league to other communities. Seriously? If I had known this was the way it was going to be, I don’t think I would have signed him up for t-ball. Things sure have changed in the past 12 years.

I was expecting his team to be playing other teams consisting of his classmates at our local field at the park. No pressure, just little boys learning the basics of baseball, playing in a relaxed environment on a field they were used to with kids they knew. And having fun. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about? I just can’t get over watching little boys decked out like pro ball players in all of their high dollar clothes, sporting their high dollar equipment, even wearing batting gloves, (Abby played high school ball and was on a special league a couple of summers in high school and never felt the need to wear a batting glove) walking up to the plate and standing with their back to the plate all ready to hit the ball. Or playing first base, the ball gets hit to left field and they take off running across the to field the ball. They have no idea what they are doing. As it should be at this point. But they sure are dressed nice.

I don’t know. I guess I’m just getting old. I think it’s sad that we can’t just let these little boys be kids. Throw their ball shirt on them, grab their glove and a bat if they have one and off to the field we go. Why do parents today think it’s necessary to spend all this money on stuff? At this point, Drew is thrilled to be using his big brother’s glove. He scrounged up an old helmet and cleaned it up and asked if he could take it and he’s been looking for a bat. I’m sure there’s an old baseball bat around here somewhere if we can only find it. I’m glad he’s six. He doesn’t know the difference between his big brother’s used equipment compared to his friend’s brand new stuff. He doesn’t pay any attention to the fact that his ball pants don’t have that little bright white emblem on them that everyone else’s does. And cleats? Brand new high dollar name brand cleats for a six year old who will be playing six or seven games tops and then will out grow them before next year comes around? Guess what parents – all the money and fancy outfits and equipment don’t make the player. They are little boys learning to play baseball. Just let them be kids and have fun.

Back To “Normal”

Wow – these last couple of weeks have seemed to just fly by. Starting with Eric’s Baccalaureate, Class Night, numerous graduation parties, including hosting Eric’s, then finally graduation. It’s been a lot of fun but I’m glad to see today and know that things will be slowing down now. I hope anyway!

These past few days were so cold, damp, windy and pretty much miserable. We sure didn’t feel we were missing out on not being able to be outside and getting things accomplished while were at all those grad parties! And we were thankful they were all held indoors! The flowers are persevering through the weather. It amazes me how they just keep growing and blooming!

And now, with Eric done with school and Drew soon to be done this coming Wednesday, we’ll have to get back into a new “normal”. Eric plans to put in a lot of hours at work to save up for college. Drew will be going to summer school in the mornings for three weeks in June and three weeks in July. We’ll have t-ball games in the evenings during the month of June. Other than that, I’m hoping for a nice quiet summer of working on projects around here and hopefully camping as much as possible and as much as the weather allows. No camping this coming weekend – looks like rain is scheduled. Maybe we can find some time to go on an adventure with Dad and Mom. We haven’t done that for so long and it’s something Drew just loves!

As for this week we’ll just work on relaxing and getting into a summer routine. And hopefully we’ll see the sun – at least for a day or two!


Next Stop Everywhere

A lot of the kids decorated their caps. Eric did a great job on his!

Eric is now officially a high school graduate! His graduation ceremony was held last night at the high school. It was a short ceremony – only about a half an hour – but it was very nice. This class of 40 was one of the smartest classes to go through the system. They are also a group of extremely talented kids – sports, drama, music, art – they were all involved! I managed to not get too emotional last night but I’m sure going to miss these kids! Eric’s next step in his journey is to attend the University of Iowa this fall and study Psychology. He originally was going to Iowa State, then the University of Northern Iowa before finally deciding on Iowa. It’s a big decision – what college to go to and he was accepted at all three of his top choices. He weighed all his options and looked at his overall goals in getting a degree and decided Iowa was the best choice. His mama was glad – only 45 minutes from home. His brother-in-law is in Iowa City every day for work. Even closer to his older sister and brother than he is from us if they’re needed. A little piece of mind for a mamma who isn’t ready to let her baby go yet!

Dinosaurs always help pass the time.
The last time this band will play together.

Eric and Aunt Beth

Eric and Grandpa and Grandma Ward


Crazy Chicken Lady

A little chicken creamer holding cinnamon sticks – belonged to my Grandma Houseal.

Now that we have chickens – I’ve been collecting chicken stuff! Apparently my Grandma Houseal must have liked chickens too.  I know I have a set of chicken and rooster figurines put away somewhere too that belonged to Great Grandma Houseal. I think I’ll bring them back out. My kitchen is small so that’s probably all I’ll find room for. Unless I decid to stitch the another pinkeep!

I’ve had these displayed for a long long time. They also belonged to Grandma Houseal. Love the cute little chickens on the lids.
And I fell in love with this valance. Black chickens with a burgundy one thrown in here and there – perfect!
And I just had to stitch up this cute little pinkeep. Now to find a place for it! Aren’t the little chicks just darling??!!


This hangs in my camper and it embodies everything I love about camping – being outside, relaxing, and just experiencing joy. Hurrah!
I love all my windows!

The camper is ready to go! Hurrah! Some pictures of our home away from home. I love our camper. This is the fourth camper we’ve had over the past 26 years and if I have anything to say about it, it will be our last at least for a long long time! There’s very little I would change about this one. What do I not like about it? The carpet. Maybe someday we will be able to change it out but for now we just have a nice big area rug we throw down. Carpet, camping and kids really don’t mix if you can imagine! And the shower. It takes me at least a half a camping season before I finally remember how to position myself so I’m comfortable. Not something that can be changed but maybe I can work on figuring it out sooner??!! And that’s it. Except for the fabric, curtains, etc. I have yet to find an interior that I do like that isn’t a vintage camper but that’s just me. Joe on the other hand loves it and he won’t let me change any of it. Maybe someday I’ll just start in on changing things but I have to agree with him. It’s not like we live in it and it is just a camper so no sense in spending money on changing those things out. I just close my eyes and don’t look!

When you walk in the door and look to the right you see the kitchen at the front of the camper.

Love having a table and chairs!
Standing in the kitchen looking towards the living area.

We have a walk through bathroom and I love it. Lots of room and lots of storage.

Two linen closets – couldn’t ask for more!
And into the bedroom. Again, lots of storage and lots of room.
A second door – we hardly ever use it but its there if we need it.

Drew always leaves at least one stuffed animal or dinosaur on the bed.

One big slide in the main area, one slide in the bedroom. Lots and lots of lots of storage. We definitely needed all this when we had three or four kids at home but now that we’ll be down to one, we probably don’t. But I just love the camper so much, it’s roomy and comfortable and I have a place for everything. Of course it doesn’t look like this when we’re using it. It gets cluttered and full and looks lived in. That’s when I love it best!Now if we can just find a free weekend to go. We have a weekend scheduled the beginning of August and a weekend scheduled for Labor Day but that’s too far away!