Tuesday, July 31, 2007


We hit a few milestones recently in our family. One of the newest ones was acknowledged tonight during supper. The older boys, Fred and I were talking about Stephen's swimming lesson that morning when I glanced over and looked at Christopher. He had stopped eating his zucchini and was intently watching his hands as he clapped them together over and over. I gushed, of course, and started praising him for his newest accomplishment and then it became a game for him. We all started clapping with him and he was just laughing and laughing at himself ... or maybe it was at us?? He had a hard time finishing his meal after that because he was so enthralled with his new skill of clapping. For the rest of the evening we were all kept entertained by him. He'd be playing with his blocks or the trains and he'd just stop mid-play and watch his hands clap. And then he'd crack himself up all over again. That caused us to laugh and the cycle went on and on. He was so cute!!

His second milestone hit when I picked him up to carry him upstairs. I told him to tell Daddy goodnight and to say bye-bye. I couldn't believe it when I saw him lift his hand and squeeze his fingers together in that initial baby-like wave! We all oooooed and aaaahhhhed all over again and he was in his glory! Two new skills in one day! He's growing up so fast.

Stephen hit a little milestone this past week as well. He learned how to play Uno. He's been into games lately anyway, but to watch him play a card game, and even use a little strategy tonight to keep Daddy drawing more cards, was a joy to watch. It was interesting listening to him try to explain it to Timothy, too, who caught on quickly that he needed to match colors and numbers. Timothy doesn't quite get the strategies. Actually, Timothy couldn't care less about strategies. He's just concerned about putting cards on the piles. Stephen is really catching on and I'm sure he'd love to challenge Grandpa or Grandma to a game! Watch out!

His next milestone comes in a little over a month when he will start Junior Kindergarten at Brigadoon Public School. Here in Canada, children who turn four years old are able to attend Junior Kindergarten and in our local school, it is a combined class with Senior Kindergarteners so they will be getting the same exposure as the older kids. Stephen is so social and so academically ready for school that we are excited that he is able to go this year. I still have a hard time believing that my baby is going to getting on that big, yellow bus and will be driven away from me, but hey! We all experienced it and we turned out ok, didn't we? :) It will be an adjustment for all of us, but it will be so good for him!

Milestones are exciting to watch in your children's lives, but at the same time I do wonder if we are completely training our children in the way they should go so that when they are old, they won't depart from it. We pray that God would give us the wisdom and knowledge to train them and that living a life for Him will be a given for them.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Baking Bravery??

So, Darlene thought that I was brave on Wednesday to bake with three little boys around. I needed to make some cookies and figured that I could whip them up pretty easily. I did, too. I used a great oatmeal cookie recipe that could also be turned into bars and it was quick, easy and everyone loved them.

Since my baking experience went so well on Wednesday, I decided yesterday to attempt a great cinnamon roll recipe from Mom for a shower I was going to today. Yesterday I was not brave. I was nuts! The boys both decided that they wanted to help me so after I made the dough and rolled it out on the counter, I gave Timothy a bowl of cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top. He was doing great! He was singing away and jabbering about all the roads he was making with the sugar, etc. etc. I turned my back for ONE moment (you know what's coming! :) and then I heard a thump and a weak, "Uh oh. Sorry, Mommy." I turned around to see almost the whole bowl of cinnamon sugar dumped upside down on the kitchen floor.

Thinking that I would teach a lesson on being responsible for your own actions (blah, blah, blah), I told him to go get the vacuum cleaner and clean up his mess. Why did I think that an almost-three-year-old would think to walk around a pile of spilled cinnamon sugar instead of stepping right through it?! Sigh. Note to self: ALWAYS put yourself in a two year old's mind PRIOR to giving instructions to save everyone a lot of grief! I tried to snatch him up quickly, but I was too late. He had already marched right through it and now had powdery cinnamon and sticky sugar everywhere! I could see his little cinnamon footprints part way across the floor before I could get to him. I still made him vacuum his mess, but I was right behind him with a wet cloth getting everything he missed.

I'm not brave for baking with these guys around. I'm a little crazy for doing it, but at the same time, they love it so how can I deny them?! I want to teach my sons like my mom taught my brother. I want them to be comfortable in the kitchen and to be able to fend for themselves some day. Whenever I start working in the kitchen, Stephen brings his stool up to the counter and asks what "we're" making today.

I'm nuts. I'm crazy. I'm a mom who loves having little helpers get in my way while I'm cooking! The cinnamon rolls turned out great, by the way! Try them ... if you're brave or crazy! :)


1 pkg yeast

1/2 c. warm water

2 c. warm water

2 c. flour

1 Tbsp. sugar

3 c. flour

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. baking soda

6 tsp. baking powder

3/4 c. oil

6 Tbsp. sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1 c. + 2 Tbsp water

3/4 c. butter

1/3 c. chopped nuts

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 c. warm water. Mix 2 c. water, 2 c. flour and 1 Tbsp sugar into yeast and let set. Mix flour, salt, baking soda and powder, oil and 1 1/2 c. of above mix. Knead well. Roll into rectangle. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll into jelly roll ready to slice.

In 9 X 13 pan, mix brown sugar, water, butter and nuts. Put in oven to melt butter while pre-heating oven to 375. Cut dough into 16 pieces and place on top of butter mixture.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Turn over on waxed paper and remove pan.

NOTE: I am able to make two batches of dough to add to the liquid ingredients, but found that making two separate batches instead of doubling it all at once works best. Also great without nuts, or with raisins.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Highlights From Camp

What a great week we had in Virginia at Eastern Camp! The boys were thrilled to be there, as were Fred and I. I could write stories and stories about our week, but I just want to share a few highlights here from all of us.

For Stephen, the trip down to Breezewood and the night at the hotel will be memorable. He couldn't wait to get into the pool after supper and again in the morning before we left. He even encouraged Timothy to get in and play with him! Stephen also really enjoyed being in his Sunday School classes, choir and Story Hour. The teachers in Story Hour must have been fantastic because he has been telling us the lessons they learned all week! He has told us so much about Moses that I believe Moses has become his new hero (sorry, Noah). Each afternoon we tried out a different activity for recreation. The jump and slide was definitely a favorite, as was the sprinkler and the indoor track (wow, can that kid run!) and the "bing bong" tables. On Friday night when we were discussing that this was the last night of Camp, he asked if we could come again next year. When I told him that we probably could, he got all excited, but then quickly sobered and said, "But then I'll be five. It's going to take a long, long time for me to get to be five!" He's already looking forward to next year's ice cream cones for dessert.

Timothy loved pushing all the buttons he could find at Camp, not only on the elevator or the codes for the dorms, but also his parents'. He had to take in everything that his little mind could take in this year, so he was running on limited sleep. He lived up to his name quite well: Whine Heart. I guess that's to be expected when everything is on a different schedule and out of routine for a little boy. I had to laugh at him early in the week, though. He was in his babysitting Sunday School class playing happily and when I walked in (I was the babysitting coordinator so I was in to check on things), he said, "Mommy, I want to go back to Camp now." I tried to explain that we WERE at Camp, but he insisted that Camp was in the main auditorium and we weren't there! Overall, he was a good boy and talked about coming back next year as well.

Christopher loved the attention that he got last week ... as long as Mommy was still within arm's reach! By the end of the week he was very, very clingy. He was also a little scared of Edson who was thrilled to have a playmate around! Poor Christopher. He'd be playing so contentedly by himself and Edson would see that as the perfect opportunity to join him with all his might. Maybe someday they'll be able to play together, but for all of our sakes, we tried to keep them separated this week at Camp.

Fred's highlights were the times he got to spend one-on-one counselling and praying with others. This will always be a highlight for him, and it was no different this week. Unfortunately, with small children, those opportunities aren't as easy or as frequent as in the past, but he still managed to squeeze them in. His responsibilities were much lighter this year as well, so he had the opportunity to sit back and appreciate more of the classes and forums.

For me, the biggest highlight was getting the news that Karen, Oscar and Edson were going to make it after all! On Sunday night, Karen and I had a nice long cry when we thought that only a miracle would get them to Camp because of Edson's chicken pox. When I gave my borrowed phone back to Jeannie and told her what Karen said, she told me not to worry because Karen would be there. She was going to pray for that miracle! That miracle did come because the Caballeros showed up on Tuesday (Brandon and Gaby) and Wednesday! God provided people to pick them up and bring them and we had a wonderful SHORT day and a half to be together!

Of course, my other highlights also involved people and the time I got to spend with them. I enjoyed visiting with Miriam and Scott, Evelyn and Rod in their suite and then some time with Miriam alone. I appreciated visiting with my friend who lives near Harrisonburg one night for our annual visit. We see each other only once a year when I come to Camp, but we just pick up right where we left off each time! I caught up with my North Phoenix friends, Deb and Linda. I also had a wonderful time visiting with Renee, although we vowed not to eat meals together any more. Whenever we talk, we get to the nitty gritty right away and we both end up too emotional. Eating while that emotional is not good, so next year we'll visit outside the dining room. :) What a blessing it was to sit with Dolores and Laura and Jeannie at supper! Those ladies loved helping with the boys and they were my lifesavers on a night when I had had my fill of the whining and crying and misbehaviour! I couldn't thank Jeannie enough for all her help with Timothy! As a mom of demanding-aged children I didn't get to spend LOTS of time visiting with others, but I made it a point to make the moments worthwhile when I did. Yes, I enjoyed Camp very much this year!

A highlight for all of us was the weather! God really blessed us with cool and low-humidity weather this year! This was unheard of in past years, so we soaked it all up!

On our way home, we stopped in Syracuse for the night so that we didn't have to drive all that way home in one day. We stayed with Scott and Miriam and the boys really enjoyed playing with their kids at the park in the evening while we visited some more. Sunday morning in Syracuse was a blessing as well. They really made us feel welcome and we enjoyed one last church service with our Camp friends!

Now we're home and still trying to put a few things away and get back to our schedules and routines. Tonight after supper we were looking at pictures from Camp and Stephen asked Daddy if we could go back to Camp again. Daddy said that we could go again next year and when I came back downstairs from putting Christopher to bed, Stephen ran right over to me to tell me the good news! Unfortunately, he misunderstood Fred because when I was tucking him in tonight he asked if tomorrow was the day that we get to go back to Camp. Oh dear. Did I ever have a time trying to explain that we had to wait another whole year to go back! He's not satisfied with any of my explanations, but at least he eventually went to sleep! I guess we'll start counting down the days now and pray that God will really let us be able to go next year!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All That Work!

Our family has been anticipating the harvesting of our beloved peas this summer. We planted the seeds with the utmost care very early in the spring because we couldn't wait to have fresh peas from our garden. We watered those pea plants whether they needed it or not (Thanks, boys!). They were checked daily after the first few leaves popped out of the ground. They were even weeded around almost every day!

Then the excitement died off. There was no reward for all the work, so the boys quit checking the plants on a daily basis to see if there were any peas yet.... until today!

Today we decided that the pea pods were big enough and we were going to have a feast tonight on our fresh peas! Well, we picked every pea pod that we could find, took them into the house and Stephen and I started shelling them. When our tiny little basket was emptied of pea pods, we took a closer look at our prized bowl of peas.

WHAT?! All that work all summer long for this?! I think we have a total of about 80 little peas or half a cup. That's it! All that work amounted to enough for one serving that was supposed to provide the whole family with our fresh produce enjoyment for supper, and hopefully with some left over for Christohper's lunch tomorrow! Needless to say, we are quite disappointed with our meager handful of peas that we have harvested! Stephen's only comment to me was, "That's all?!" Thankfully our rows of beans had a much higher volume of produce so we picked those plants clean and had a wonderful little bowl of green beans for supper.

I guess the Apostle Paul was correct in his analogy that he planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase. We did all we knew how to plant and grow our precious peas. We planted. We watered. We weeded. We observed. We also poked and prodded. We accidentally pulled some plants out in our excitement. (I'm using the plural form here so that I don't incriminate any one person. :) Even after all we had done, God was the One to determine the increase and this time He chose to give us beans instead of peas.

No problem. The beans were graciously consumed and we'll try the peas again next year anyway. :)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Packing for Camp

I think that next year I'm going to put Stephen in charge of packing the entire family for Camp. After today's activity, he has proved to me that he is almost capable of packing his suitcase and Timothy's without supervision.

We leave for Camp this coming Saturday, but today Stephen informed us that he could not come eat supper because he wasn't done packing yet. He came down a few moments later carrying his suitcase. He set it down in the kitchen and went upstairs to get Timothy's suitcase. He told us that they were now both ready to go to Camp, so no one should touch their suitcases! I told him that as his mother, I had the right to just make sure that he had everything that he needed in there and that I would be checking it out later.

So, I stuck to my word and I checked out his suitcase. I must admit that I am very impressed with what I found! He has 12 pairs of socks packed (half of them don't even fit him anymore!), seven pairs of underwear, two pairs of sweatpants, two sets of pajamas, one lone pajama bottom, a pair of long pants, his favorite shorts and a t-shirt. He also put in about 12 pairs of pull-ups "for emergencies." I was quite impressed! Then I opened Timothy's. He did pretty good on his brother's as well! Timothy has five pairs of underwear, six t-shirts, two Sunday shirts, one long sleeved shirt, one pair of long pants and one pair of shorts. And most of these items were still folded in those suitcases!

Now that Stephen packed two suitcases, he wanted to know how much longer it would be before we could pack them in the van. I had to mark the calendar with a big, red "C" for Camp on Saturday and then numbered our days until we go. He decided that it's too long to wait and we should just leave early. It's so obvious that he is excited about Camp! He's been reminding Timothy of all the activities there are that are waiting for them. He's been describing what's in the cafeteria for breakfast and has also planned out what he's going to have on that first morning that we go to the "afeteria."

Yes, my little planner is ready to go! I think I really will have him help me organize the packing for next year! We might actually get everything done well ahead of time for a change!

Friday, July 6, 2007

I'm Worried

I'm worried because I'm starting to see "Roger" tendancies in Stephen. This afternoon I walked outside to a boy-made web of my new ball of string! I wish that I could have captured it on film so that you could all appreciate what I saw, but trust me, if you come here, you'll still be able to see it for yourself. It'll take days to get this web untangled and removed!

Stephen started immediately out the deck door with his web. He walked around the deck, winding the string around any and all objects that were there. He walked down the stairs to the backyard, but he didn't just go straight down the stairs with that string. No. He had to weave it in and out and up and down each and every step! He would drop the ball down to the ground, run down, wrap it around the deck post or the garden hose or the drain pipe or whatever was near, run back up the stairs and go to the next one and do it all over again. By the time I had gone outside to see what he was up to for so long, I saw the string stretched over to the other side of the house, around the rain barrel and disappeared up the hill. I didn't even really want to know where all he had taken it from there! I just hoped it wasn't wrapped around the neighbor's tree or his little water fountain in the front yard or something.

I must admit, he was quite creative in his endeavors. I'm sure he had a lot of fun using up my ball of string, too. When I asked him to wind it back up for me, he must have misunderstood (ha ha), because he brought it into the house to continue to unwind it around the kitchen. Unbelievable!

What I CAN be thankful for is that he did NOT manage to tie himself to the deck, like a certain brother of mine managed to tie himself to a tree one Sunday night. I didn't have the heart to really let him have it for using up my string. There was no damage done. There's just a LOT of string still hanging around the deck and the yard.

I'm worried, though. What's he going to get into next? I'm thankful we don't have any timing belts hanging around our house! I just don't want to deal with a little boy who has the urge to slip one over his head ... twice! (Sorry, Rog. Couldn't resist the jab. :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Why Is It?!

Why is it that I can be home all day long for days on end and no one calls? Then the one day that I leave for the morning Roger gets his Skype account working and calls me from Indonesia?! Grrrrr. What a bummer. Don't give up on me, Rog! We'll connect one of these days! In the meantime, I'll listen to your voice message over and over again and pretend I'm having a conversation with you. Ha. Ha. We love you!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


What a fun day we had yesterday! It was the observed day for Canada Day which meant a holiday, so we decided to go to Marineland in Niagara Falls. Stephen and Timothy have been watching a video from the library (The Big Aquarium from The Big Adventure Series by Little Mammoth Media) which has really captured their attention and we knew they'd love it. Besides, children four and under are free, so we decided that this was the year to go!

Bianca and Andy came with us and we had a blast! Even Christopher was getting into it! He'd get so excited when we'd be in the aquarium exhibits and the fish would swim by. He loved watching the dolfins jump out of the water in the show ... until he fell asleep ... but that was quite alright with me! Stephen especially loved the show because the humor of the initial entertainer was simple enough that he could follow what was going on. He was laughing at all the attempts the guy was making at getting his ball back out of the water and when he finally fell in trying, Stephen was thoroughly enjoying it!

We were hoping that the kids could go on some rides, but there were only a few that were age appropriate for them. We went on the ferris wheel and a little boat ride together. Bianca and Andy gave us a little treat of taking the boys to see the buffalo, bison and elk exhibit and Fred and I got to ride a roller coaster together! What a lot of fun! I haven't been on a roller coaster for YEARS, but this was great! Stephen was fascinated by the fact that we went up side down on the ride and he kept telling us about it over and over. We all decided that the Sky Screamer (similar to the Demon Drop at Cedar Point) was not age appropriate for any of us. The four of us adults were too old for it and the three little boys were too young for it! Even though Fred and I enjoyed our ride, we realized that we are pretty much beyond roller coaster age anymore. I could handle one, but a whole day of rides would probably do me in.

We had a pizza supper at the Zimmerman's on our way home and got home pretty late. The boys conked out pretty quickly and I was really hoping they'd sleep in today. No such luck. Even with staying up late Sunday night watching fireworks, getting up early to go to Marineland, no naps in the afternoon, and getting to bed late, they still got up at 7:00 ready to go! All is quiet now as they are napping today, and I'm thankful for that.

As Fred and I were recapping the day last night, we were commenting on how thankful we are for these boys! We got so much joy out of watching their excitement and fascination! I'm sure God feels the same when He watches us enjoying His gifts to us! I'm so thankful that my parents modeled activities like this for us because I have such wonderful memories of going to Sea World or The Blue Hole (Remember that one, Mom?!), The Dover Train Museum, the Glass Museum in southern Ohio (Remember that one, Liz? You really weren't thrilled about that one!), the canal boat ride, Ohio and Zane Caverns, etc, etc. Mom and Dad always had some new place for us to try out and we loved it! I want to pass that excitement along to our kids. I kind of think we already have because every day when Timothy wakes us he asks, "Where are we going today, Mommy?" Every day is an adventure for them!