Category Archives: family togetherness

Sunshine, S’mores, Rednecks and the Gospel

The sun is shining in Seattle.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The sun is shining.

It is not raining.

I am not going to sit at my computer.

The sun is shining.

But, I’d love to share some of my fun ideas to make your

summer weekend a little more

tasty and relaxing.



Check out my S’more Recipe!

Tired of people dropping all the marshmallows in the dirt

or eating all the chocolate before everyone gets a S’more?

Plan ahead.


City-Slickin’ Redneck Vacation

Traffic horrible?

Too tired to pack up camping gear?

Camp in your backyard this summer.

Urban Vacation.

We love coming up with new foods and new ways

to cook in the firepit.

Candy Gospel 058

Need ideas for Vacation Bible School? 
Check out my
Sweet Gospel Message.

It’s a great way to share the Gospel.

Iffin’ ya’ want some more recipes or fun ideas,
use that cool search button on my blog.

C’mon, I double-dog dare ya’.

Don’t make five years of back posts go to waste.

As for me and my house,

we’re heading outside.

‘Cuz ya’ know what?

The sun is shining in Seattle.

It’s the Little Things that Count

Several times a year, my husband takes me to a writing conference
to learn the craft and meet published and aspiring writers.
He makes arrangements at a nice hotel,
we eat at restaurants,
and enjoy a weekend get-away.
This past weekend we were in Portland
to hear Clint Kelly keynote for the Oregon Christian Writers.
Sometimes, I still get this
“pinch me, it can’t be real” sensation
when I’m in a fancy, grown-up situation.
Ya’ know, we’re still pretty much
Red Necks
at heart.
Despite the presence of the Concierge in the foyer,
(that’s FOY-AY, if you’ve watched Princess Diaries)
the Valet at the door to park your car and open your door,
(I’m not a feminist, I let them open the door for me)
and the fanciness all around,
that’s not what makes my heart go pitter-patter.
It’s those little things that make me happy.
Believe it or not,
this was really thrilling to me.
It was like an extra special welcome to my hotel room.
I had to pull it out and see how it was done.
I worried,  wondering if it was considered
“wasting toilet paper”
if I threw away the accordion piece instead of using it.
Don’t tell my parents, k?
Raising six kids on a teacher’s and a secretary’s schedule,
they had to have financial guidelines for the house,
including strict rules about how much tp we could use.

The pattern was repeated with a washcloth and hand towel on the tub.
Yea, I’m pretty simple to be enthralled with these details.
My muse on these little things began taking a shape
of its own, when I began thinking about my life.
It’s also
The Little Things 
 that thrill our families.
It’s easy to think life is about the big moments,
the extensive family vacations,
the expensive presents,
planned holiday celebrations and
bigger homes and newer cars.
When I listen to my older kids talk,
their favorite memories are usually mundane
occurrences that didn’t even register in my memory bank.
A quick survey made this list.
The kids love ~
*Mom or Dad acting out of character
*playing Spoons
*family dinners
*building snow forts
*family roller-blading adventures
*trips to Tastee Freeze
They didn’t mention anything related to money,
getting what they wanted for birthdays and Christmases,
big purchases or any of the trips we’ve taken.
The two main ingredients in all their favorite memories?
1. The whole family participated.
2. Everyone was happy.
My husband doesn’t collect anything,
doesn’t want anything,
never needs anything.
Coming up with gifts for this man is hard,
but living with him on a daily basis is easy.
For him,
it’s always
The Little Things That Count.
He loves ~
*his scalp scratched, nothing relaxes him more
than having my fingers run through his hair
*when I call him at work just to say “I love you”
 “dwanna’ know whatcher’ naughty kids just did?”
*being complimented
*when I repeat things I’ve learned from him
After 25 years of marriage
and 24 years of parenting,
I still remind myself what’s important.
When life gets faster and busier,
it’s easy to say NO to  little things.
Sometimes I think I’m too busy to
go for walks,
sit around the table after dinner to talk,
play games or
watch a movie.
But, that little thing 
 might become one of their favorite memories.
I want my kids to look back on these moments
we’ve shared as a family with the same I awe I had
when I beheld the accordion folded toilet paper.
It’s The Little Things That Count.

Family Togetherness

When the kids were younger,
it was easy to find an activity the whole family enjoyed.
 Hours were spent playing board games,
building forts, playing restaurant, raft,
legos, duplos……
We played family games of kickball,
a game that requires more enthusiasm than skill.
We would inline skate,
the kids following Scott and I like ducklings on wheels.
As they aged,
and a few ventured into their teens,
it was more challenging to choose group activities
that would nuture
Family Togetherness.
Suddenly, instead of a bunch of “little kids”
we had a group that included
elementary kids,
and one toddler.
During these years we started camping and enjoying water activities.
Educational activities and museums become part of the routine.
We started soliciting opinions
and allowing the older kids to help plan the family outings.
Through the years,
we’ve discovered there’s one thing we all love.
A good fire and good conversation.
I guess that’s two things.
We enjoy those quiet moments of sitting together around fire,
warmed not just by the fire,
but by the loving relationships.
OK, the kids probably don’t think that,
but I do.
When the family trampoline was bounced into the trash pile,
we knew exactly what we wanted to fill in the spot~
a place to gather,
a place to visit,
a place to just be together.
OK, the kids may be there just for the S’Mores,
but I know someday,
they won’t be thinking about the sugary treat,
they’ll be thinking about the sweetness
of growing up in a loving family that greatly enjoyed
 Family Togetherness.

Flashback – Ocean Shores

Until I learn to faithfully blog as I go, I will “flashback” special times and photos I want to post. While granddaughter, Brookelyn, was testing the waters, the rest of the family was also enjoying a special day at Ocean Shores, a beach on the Pacific Ocean.
I love all the patterns in the sand, the water and the clouds. The sights, smells and sounds of the ocean are so addicting, so calming, so alluring, especially for those of us who grew up landlocked in the upper Midwest.
Jon tried, and failed, to outrace the waves. Between the baby spitting up, Brookie having accidents and Jon swimming in his clothes, we ended up doing a load of laundry that night at the hotel.
Baseball, America’s favorite pastime, is so much better when the hot sand is silking between your toes as you lunge, toss and roll in an imaginary game in which you are always the hero.

Horses on the beach are always an intriguing site. The piles of horse poop on the beach are not an intriguing site. Since we refuse to pay $25 a person for a horseback walk down the beach, I took pictures of unsuspecting strangers.

The early morning wooed us to the beach so we could stroll and pick up shells almost alone. Beka and I had fun filling our bags with sand dollars, some plain white shells and occasionally crab pieces. These beaches aren’t Floridan, the water isn’t warm, they don’t have a stunning variety of shells, but, hey, it’s an ocean and you can drive on the beach.

Speaking of driving on the beach, this is Scott picking up shells in his own style. Man style. The “I’d hate to break out in a sweat” style.
Our perfect day at the beach ended with a stop to McDonald’s. This is what happens when your son-in-law throws his so-dry-it-cracked bun from his burger on your windshield.
This is from our first visit to the ocean in 2005. Scott and I sat in lawn chairs, the camera on a tripod, and snapped the sun’s burning descent, enjoying our first, and very romantic, Pacific Ocean sunset.
At first, I was very annoyed that this person would walk in front of our camera. There were miles of beach to walk on. But, it soon became my favorite pictures and I have learned to let the picture happen.

And each day ends with the glorious knowledge that the sun will return the next morning, in another show of color, warmth and hope of a “new day with no mistakes in it.”

Telephone – You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

In 1973 I began my addiction with the telephone.


We had just moved across town and I had to learn to dial the rotary phone, a wall-mounted beast we rented from Mountain Bell, all by myself so I could call my friends from the old neighborhood.

It was a chore to dial this phone, with my teensy-tiny 9 year old fingers. You stuck your finger in the hole of the number you wanted and had to rotate it all the way around the circle until it touched the metal stopping bar. If you were careless and didn’t dial all the way to the end, you had to start all over. To hang up, you pulled down on the bracket that held the hand receiver. (I know, I am really dating myself!)



We thought we were so special when our parents upgraded the technology with the extra long twisty cord for the phone. You could actually walk around while you were talking on the phone, as long as you were within twelve feet of that big black thing on the wall.

Meanwhile, while I was walking around the kitchen with my 12 foot cord talking about things 9 year old girls find important enough to talk about, this man, Dr. Martin Cooper, general manager of Motorola’s Communications Systems Division, was walking the streets of New York and making a call on this 30 ounce brick-like phone. Who did he call? His rival at AT&T Bell Labs.

By the time Motorola offered their phone to the public in 1983 it went from brick to butter at only 16 ounces, but cost $3,500. A new Dodge RAM 50 Truck was $5665.00 – a phone was over HALF the cost of a truck!!!!!! I wonder if any teenagers had cell phones in 1983?

Today, the technology in phones has blossomed to functions probably never imagined, even by Dr. Cooper. Did he imagine a camera that could take a message, a picture and a video clip? Did he imagine listening to music or playing a game? Did he imagine that teens would use the phone for almost everything BUT actually making a phone call?

 Special Achievement – Rebekah just memorized her home phone number. She is using Daddy’s cell phone to call the home phone. Proud moment in our household.


Special Achievement – Bethany gets her first cell phone! She is 18 and waited patiently, almost, for this special privilege. Expensive moment in our household. We aren’t typical Americans, we actually have two teenagers that DON’T have phones. No, it is NOT child abuse.

Texting already? It is considered a national pasttime for today’s teens, but considered a national waste of time for more mature adults. OK, that was a nice way of saying us really old people.

Special Achievement – Scott is learning to program his own cell phone. Stressful moment in our household. Actually, he made Grace do a lot of it, but he figured out how to make a call and answer a call. Good boy!


 Special Achievement – Brookelyn made it all the way down the hallway with the cordless phone before we noticed what she was doing. Typical moment in our household when Brookie is around.

Special Achievement – Brookelyn called Gramma and asked for a cell phone of her own.

Gramma said yes.


We Just Wanted To Go to McDonalds!

It was just an improptu trip to McDonalds with two buddies who wanted to eat some greasy fries and shoot some hoops in the new playland. It was our last day of Christmas vacation – yes CHRISTmas vacation, not Winter Break – and they wanted to celebrate a little. They even dressed in their basketball shorts to make a more memorable occasion.
Nice timing, boys!

Nice face!
I think he wants to be the new spokesperson for Jack in the Box.

Rare footage of the ball actually sticking in the net.
I wonder if the newspapers are interested in this photo?

We step outside to winter – again!
In one and a half hours, the ground,
foliage and cars were all covered with snow.

They’re too proud to admit their skinny, chicken legs are freezing.
So much for wearing shorts for a memorable experience!
I think they both had goose bumps – or would that be chicken bumps? – on their legs.

McDonalds may want this pic for next year’s calendar.

The yard was GREEN when we left for McDonalds.
Since we, midwest natives, left all our snow shovels on the curb when we left Minnesota five years ago, Scott is trying to sweep the snow off the stairs with a dollar-store broom with only half a handle. Apparently, it wasn’t too sturdy of a sword during one of summer’s battles. 

Home, Snowy, Home.

Since it is all white again, do we get to celebrate Christmas again?



Christmas Pics – BLOOPERS & OUT-TAKES

It takes a lot of effort to take a family Christmas picture.
First, we decide when we all can be together, a miracle in itself…
Next, we have to decide what to wear…
Then, we decide where to take the pics…
Finally, we when we are all together, all matching (‘cept for Dan),
just get everyone lookin’ good…
Baby is lookin a little TOO good.
Jon’s pretending to be a Venus fly trap, I think….

Making the baby happy, and making room for Daddy, who’s setting the timer.
Was I about to be brilliant…or was I just bossing everyone around?

What’s a photo shoot without the inevitable bunny ears?

OK, how should we stand?
Maybe a change of location will improve our chances.
Little Miss Brookie was watching Grandpa run into place after using the camera timer.
Little Miss Brookie is excited to see Grandpa making funny faces behind the tripod.
Celebrating a successful photo shoot.
You’re ‘posed to kiss with your eyes shut, Mr. P!