Category Archives: fun outings

Wassup Wednesday – 7

So here it is Wednesday again . . .

Pictures: From our church’s harvest party

News: Tonight, Mark and I surgically removed a red plastic peg from Charis’s ear.  It took bribery to get her to remain still enough to put the tweezers far enough into her ear to get a decent grip on the thing, but hurray, no trip to the ER was necessary!  The whole shenanigan happened just when I was about to head out the door to take Calvin to football practice, so we managed to get a night off from practice because at that point we weren’t sure whether we would be home or at the ER.  So the incident did have a silver lining. 🙂  The peg game was thrown away after the procedure was complete!

Kids: Football is over in 2 – 3 weeks (playoffs make the schedule a bit uncertain).  Calvin has started practice with a homeschool basketball team, so there will be some crossover.  We are committed to the idea of having him be playing a sport all the time to keep him occupied.  You know, idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right?  Nevin opted out of basketball because it would prevent him from playing indoor soccer that starts later in the year.  Charis also hopes to play indoor soccer this year.

Evangeline’s first concert with Kirkwood Children’s Chorale is the second Sunday in November.  Then her choir will perform with the Nutcracker at the Fabulous Fox Theater the first weekend in December and with the St Louis Brass at Catherdral Basilica the third week in December.  It is really exciting that she’ll have exposure to such great cultural events.

Inside Cathedral Basilica

Little ol’ Me:  I am on book 3 of the Harry Potter books.  I think I’ll finish soon.  I have also started reading Simply Christian by NT Wright.  I’ll let you know what I think as I read more.

I am mostly feeling torn or unfocused.  Homeschooling is going fine in the sense that the kids are learning what they need to know.  However, I need to be better at focusing on them and less focused on how I might solve all our family’s problems somehow through endless internet searches.  So if you are ever praying for me, pray that God would keep me on the task at hand with less worry about the future.  He is in control–thankfully, I’m am not responsible for everything.

We also have some house projects that must be completed.  I am not sure how this will happen, but we need to make some real plans and “get ‘er done.”

Day is Done: Hump Day is over.  Enjoy your Thursday and your weekend!

Wassup Wednesday – 6

News: I got a new-to-me ipod nano.  It arrived in today’s mail.  I have been playing around with it, but it will take me a while to figure it all out.  Already Nevin showed me how the volume control works.  I think of myself as technologically savvy, and here I am one of those parents who needs to have her kid show how something works.

Fun: Homeschool field trip to the Magic House this past Monday.  The Magic House is one of St Louis’s great family-friendly attractions, and it was a lot of fun to visit again.  We had enough homeschool families from our church present to divide the kids up into age groups, making it a manageable visit for everyone.  Here are couple shots of Evangeline enjoying her time there.  Her friend’s older sister took the pics.


 Books: Reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  It is as fun as the others, and I am anxioius to move on so I can finish the whole series.

I picked up a Barbara Kingsolver book, Prodigal Summer, at Goodwill, this time for 35 cents!  I am looking forward to reading it because I really liked her book The Poisonwood Bible.  I’ll let you know what I think of this one.

Something cool: My friend, Lindy, uses the Grocery Game website to save money on groceries.  I have never been a coupon person, but Lindy’s family eats for practically nothing!  I am not sure if I am going to be able to work this system or not, but I am going to give it some serious consideration.  I do think that St Louis grocery stores are not as prone to doubling coupons, so maybe coupons won’t be as effective here.  Plus, I usually shop at Aldi where the prices are low to begin with and they don’t take coupons.  But if I can save more by using coupons at the regular stores, I’ll give it a try.  Anyone else have thoughts re: pros and cons of couponing.

That’s all for now . . .

Wasup Wednesdays? – 2

First, A Photo

We spent Labor Day weekend at a campground/rv park in the Ozarks.  It was fun for everyone.  We had a little taste of camping with a campfire where we roasted hotdogs and marshmallows.  We went to a swimming hole in a natural spring in the Ozark National Riverways Park, and we visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, MO.  We checked out of the camp on Monday at lunch time and then spent the afternoon at a local swimming pool.  It was nice to have some family time away from the regular routine, and the kids enjoyed the time outdoors.  We’re hoping to make little trips like this more often.


In other news, we got back into the swing of homeschooling today.  Yesterday was a super light day as I recovered from being out of town.  All the children had reading assignments yesterday, but that was it in terms of academic pursuits. We did have a couple extra-curricular activities later in the day–Evangeline’s choir began rehearsals yesterday for the new season, and, of course, there was football practice for the boys in the evening.   The laundry is still waiting to be done from our travels, but most of the unpacking is complete.  The laundry is always here, so we can’t stress over that! 🙂


I am encouraged that today Evangeline finished reading her first reading assignment of the year, Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson.  I am hopeful that at the end of the year when she sees the list of books she has completed, she will gain more confidence in independent reading of longer books.  Today’s accomplishment is a start toward that end.


Mark is in the swing of another writing project.  We’re grateful for the work, but the schedule is somewhat tight, so he needs a lot of diligence to get through to the deadline.  He has finally finished up loose ends on what was affectionately known as the “July book,” and he is also in the middle of a shorter research project.  We’re looking for ways to add more projects to the schedule for after the ones on deck are done, but for now, we praise God for His provision.


Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

Well, not really,  but the weather sure is great.  After a whirlwind trip to my sister’s funeral last weekend and attending a performance of my sweet Evangeline in the children’s chorus of the Sound of Music, this week has been busy but good.

Here’s Evangeline during dress rehearsal week with all her “stage make-up” on.

Mark’s parents are here visiting, and it has been nice to have them around.  We have done none of the St Louis tourist things, but they are ok with that.  The 3 younger kids are in VBS, Mark has a big writing project, and I have work projects to complete.  So they have graciously hung around our house as we go about our normal schedules, and they have helped with meals, laundry, grocery shopping, and kids when needed.  And, we have caught little snatches of conversations between shuttling kids to VBS, boys to football practice, and fitting playmates into the mix in the afternoons.   Mom made my birthday cake and a nice meal for us on Tuesday, and Wednesday night she went to the thrift store with Evangeline and me for the entire 2 hours the boys were at football.  We found all sorts of fun stuff.

Thursday was a playdate day.  Both girls had friends over.  Here’s a shot of Evangeline and her friend playing dress up:

We’ve also been enjoying some fresh veggies and fruit.  A very few have come from my pathetic garden from the cucumber plant that took over the world (or at least my little garden patch).

This is a shot of the first cucumber from the garden.

So it has been a nice week of activity, but the frenzy level has been low.  Perhaps I should have “frenzied” a bit more, but I have enjoyed just doing what has to be done with little pressure to do more.

Visiting Mom in PA

I’ve been home from visiting my mom in PA for nearly a week, and I wanted to post something before I forget some of what went through my mind as a part of this visit. I didn’t take any photos on this visit, and that is my only regret.  I took my camera, but I forgot about it until it was too late on every occasion.  I will do better the next time.  However, I am including a few photos Mom passed on to me from her collection.

Mom with my sister, Kathy and her husband Randy in 1991 at my apartment in Florida.

Me, Mom, and Kathy in 1991 at my apartment in Florida.  Can’t miss the big hair, eh?

Mark and I decided that I needed to make this trip because my mom is getting older and we don’t want our kids to grow up without really knowing their maternal grandma. It had been over 18 months since our last trip, and I don’t want time to continue passing without spending more time with Mom before the Lord takes her home.  The timing for the trip ended up happening at the same time my eldest sister was in surgery as a part of treatment for bone cancer.  My two other sisters were able to make the trip to Florida, where Kathy lives, to be with her and her husband Randy during the surgery.  It ended up being good for my mom to have us there at a time she might have otherwise spent worrying about my sister.

Kathy’s surgery was successful as far as it went.  The doctors replaced two bones in her legs with steel rods. When they were operating, they discovered that a large cancerous mass on her hip was bigger than they had anticipated from x-rays.  She will be receiving radiation treatment for the cancer and physical therapy to help her possibly walk again.  I heard from my brother-in-law today.  An MRI revealed the cancer has spread to her liver.   She was released from the hospital today, and a local hospice will be helping to care for her.  Your continued prayers are appreciated.

Back to the trip–this was the first time I made the 12+hour drive to PA with only the kids.  It really went well. I think they are finally old enough to make this doable in the future.  I hope to make this trip more often now that I know it is doable.  My mom was so happy to have us visit.  She had a broken wrist, so I was able to do a few little things around the house, but mostly, we just visited, looked at old photos, and enjoyed each other.

She and my brothers doted on my girls, and the boys were thrilled to explore Uncle Dave’s extensive DS game collection. Evangeline celebrated her 10th birthday there with Grandma, Uncle Dave, Uncle Bob, Aunty Patty, Uncle Larry, and several cousins.  She also ended up getting birthday money from her uncles, and she sure loved that!

We visited the local mall–one story and small–according to my suburban children.  It was too cold to swim, but we were able to spend a couple hours at a local state park that we all decided would be a great place for a family vacation in the future.  Now we hope to come up with a way to make that happen while Grandma is still living less than 15 miles from there.  Grandma bought everyone ice cream cones at the beach concession at Parker Dam, and I enjoyed a cone with teaberry flavored ice cream, which is something I have only ever had in Pennsylvania.

I took mom on an errand to pick up some planting flowers from a local family-run greenhouse one afternoon.  The man who owns the place was so respectful of Mom. He asked about her family, and he listened with great interest to her answers about all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as they walked around his greenhouse choosing what she would buy.  When it came time to pay, she pulled out $30, and he only let her pay $10.  He said, “I’ve had a good year, and I’ve learned that giving a little comes back 10,000 times.”  So we left with $30 worth of flowers for $10 and a feeling of God’s blessing.  The greenhouse man also kept telling Mom how glad he was she would plant and enjoy the flowers.  It turns out this same man had once come to visit mom last year when she was sick and the furnace was broken.  He spent several hours there working on the furnace, and wouldn’t let her pay him.  So it made me glad to see that God had placed such a generous person in Mom’s path who understands what it means to love your neighbor or to care for the widows among you.

My brother David, whose single and has a neurological disorder, lives with my mom.  He is on a disability pension from the army, so he doesn’t work and is home with Mom all the time.  He has also had some health problem lately,and I had the opportunity to take him to the a medical appointment while we were there.  David can’t drive, and Mom often cannot drive, so my sister-in-law Patty often takes them to their appointments.  Being there to help this one time made me very thankful for Patty taking on the repsonsibility of getting Mom and David where they need to be.  David, by the way, will have hernia repair and his gall bladder removed on June 29.  Again, prayers for a safe and successful surgery are appreciated.

While I was at Mom’s, I realized how thankful I am for all that she has taught me.  She gave of herself over and over again for her 9 children, and by the time I, number 9 came along, life was relatively easy.  I reaped the benefits of all the experience she had from raising my 8 siblings.  My dad was always an interesting character, and she loved him and stood by him until his death at the young age of 66. They had been married 43 years when he died.

Mom and Dad on their wedding day, October 7, 1943

Dad, sometime in fall 1943 after returning from WWII serving with the Merchant Marines

I am so grateful I was able to make this trip.  My stream of consciousness blog post shows just a glimmer of how blessed I felt to make this visit and to be reminded of how God has blessed me through my family.

We’ll See

My friend from our Seattle days, Lindy, is a runner.  She does marathons, etc.  A few years back, my then seminary-wife friend, young  Jessie, ran a half-marathon here in St Louis.  Now I see that my friend from Atlanta, Jennifer, is running in 5ks and 10ks.  I am always impressed when I learn about their achievements, and I always encourage them.   I have lots of other friends who run for exercise, too.  But at my size and with all the failed exercise attempts of my life, it seems running is not for me.

Well, I have been thinking about it alot, and I finally asked Lindy what she would recommend for someone like me who is way overweight who would like to start running.  She recommended this book:

 I ordered the book used from an amazon seller, and last night when I was killing time at Borders, I read the first chapter.  It was inspiring. The author, John Bingham, was 43, a smoker, overweight, etc., when he started to run.  He advocates walking and interspersing short runs until you run out of breath throughout your walk to get started.  He writes a column in Runner’s World magazine, and I looked at that last night, too.  The starting program in it advocates just walking 30 minutes 3 days a week, and on the opposite days going out to walk and interspersing it with running.

I’ve read a lot of inspirational diet and exercise books before.  I have participated in a lot of diets and exercise programs before.  I have even lost lots of weight before.  But here I am years later with nothing to show for it.  It might be that I will start this and not keep with it.  It might be that I will start it, and I’ll be able to run, but I’ll lose no real weight.  However, if I don’t give it a go, I’ll never know.

So, here’s my goal–to be able to go on a hike with my 4 kids at a local state park by my birthday toward the end of July without being winded.   I don’t think it is too lofty, and it gives me a motivator.  We’ll see.

Halloween Pics

The gang on Halloween.  Calvin opted out of Trick or Treating this year.

The girls chose to be “good witches,” while Nevin was a soldier as he had been at the Harvest Party a few weeks earlier.

Here are the “good witches.”  Evangeline assembled both costumes.  She’s a great big sister!

Nevin misplaced his pit helmet, so his soldier outfit was a bit incomplete.  He managed to collect some candy nonetheless!

Before my Camera Broke

As promised, here are some more pics from the cruise:

View entering the LA Port

This is the view from the road as we entered the LA Port

Inside our stateroom on the ship.   Every night our stateroom attendant created a new towel character like Sebastian to welcome us to our room.

This was taken from our stateroom window near the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Inside Lumiere’s Restaurant, one of the 3 on board the Disney Magic.

Calvin in the Atrium on the Disney Magic

This is Calvin in the atrium area outside Lumiere’s.  Notice Mickey’s ears in the decor.  Notice how my son is wearing a tie.  Nice, huh?

This is on the night of “The Golden Mickeys.”  I include this picture mainly because I have very few photos with Nevin in them for some reason.

Evangeline with Mickey.  I have several of Evangeline with ______________.

The two who were left behind.  This was taken a week before the cruise on my birthday with some of my gifts on the dresser in the background.

Here’s one more of “the gang” on my birthday.

There are more pics from the cruise on my camera phone, but I haven’t figured out how to send them to my computer yet.  If I ever do, I’ll post them.

More later.

The One About the Cruise

Remember that post way back in March when I told you I won a Disney Cruise?  We finally went last week, and we had a great time.

The we included: me, Calvin, Nevin, and Evangeline.  Mark and Charis held down the fort at home for a few days and then took a quick trip to the big D to visit Grandmommy and Granddaddy.  They also got to see the cousins (with the aunt and uncle, of course J).

The Food, the Food, the Food, the Food, the Food (Sing to the tune of “Hi, Ho, Hi Ho” from Snow White.)

Everything you have ever heard about food on cruises is true!  There is a lot of it, and it is really good (for the most part).  Every night we ate at the same time in one of the more “formal” restaurants.  We had a server and an assistant server who followed our rotation with us from one place to the next, so by the time the week ended, we were all buds.  At these meals, we were offered 4 courses—appetizer, soup or salad, main course, and dessert.  Each restaurant had a theme and each night there was a theme.  This was a Disney Cruise, so the themes were Disneyesque—Lumiere’s, Evangeline’s favorite with a Beauty and the Beast décor; Parot Cay, it had a Carribean flare and was the perfect setting for our “Pirates In the Caribbean” meal before the on-deck Pirate party; and Animator’s Palate, a bit more casual and a great place for our “Till We Meet Again” farewell dinner on the last night, complete with an international parade of the dining room crew to a hip, upbeat version of “It’s a Small World.”

The food in the restaurants was of great quality and really well prepared.  I only had one pasta dish where I think the pasta was a little dry on the edges, and Evangeline had a pastry dessert for lunch one day with a pretty flavorless outside shell.  Otherwise, it was all great.  I loved trying different things, and our servers were excellent, funny, and friendly.

In addition to the three main restaurants, you could order room service at any time, and it was included in the package.  There were also concession-type places with fast food on the deck with the pools.  I called this “kid heaven.”  Anyone could just walk up to any one of the counters at these places and order pizza, hot dogs, tacos, chicken strips, French fries, etc., and they didn’t even ask for your room number.  There was a 24-hour ice-cream and beverage station on that deck, too.  I tried to put some limits on these places for the kids, but it was pretty tough.  Lastly, there was a casual restaurant on the same deck as the pool that had a breakfast and lunch buffet, and it was open in the evenings for a full-course dinner if you didn’t want to or weren’t able to make your dinner assignment.  We ate several breakfasts there, one lunch, and one dinner.  The view from this place, Top Siders, was beautiful.  You could see the ocean going on forever from our table near the window.  We especially enjoyed our dinner there when the sun was setting over the water while we ate.

The Fun

There were activities scheduled from 8:00 – 1:00 am every day.  The kids were off doing something a lot of the time.  Calvin spent most of his time in the 11 – 13 year-old hangout called Ocean Quest.  It had a really cool simulator of the ship’s bridge where the kids could “steer the boat.”  It also had Wii and all the most popular Wii games, including the favorite, Guitar Hero.  He also played shuffle board, basketball, and a variety of other games with kids that hung out in this room.

Nevin and Evangeline were in another room called the Oceaneer’s Lab for 8 – 10 year-olds.  The programs for this age group were a lot more structured, so my kids didn’t choose to spend as much time there as Calvin spent with his group.  But they attended several craft and sports events, and they hung out there to watch movies on a big screen and play computer games from time to time.  Their big favorite activity of the week was the big on-deck pool with the giant projector screen.

There were lots of family events, too. There were short broadway-like productions 4 of the 7 nights.  They were really well-done, and we all enjoyed them. A popular activity was a game show called, “Who Wants to Be a Mouseketeer?” based on the Millionaire show.  Another game something like Jeopardy was Mickey Mania.  There were also several family dance parties, and family karaoke every night.  Evangeline was the karaoke queen.  I was the supportive mom, and now I will have the lyrics to every High School Musical (1 &2) floating around in my head for a very long time.

I only attended a few of the many adult events.  A memorable one was a martini tasting that was both educational and fun.  Mostly, I hung out with a book by the pool when the kids wanted to swim, and I hung out in our room or in some other comfortable spot on the ship with a book.  I finished only 2 books and half of a third, but  that’s pretty good for me.

The Ports

The ship sailed from LA to 3 ports in Mexico—Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.  At first I planned not to get off the ship at all, but we ended up exploring and shopping at Puerto Vallarta for about a half a day.  It was a fun outing and it was nice to get off the boat for a bit.

So, What Did I Think?

To quote a song from High School Musical 2— FABULOUS!

The ship was super clean, the crew of the ship was friendly and accommodating, and it was everything you would expect from Disney if you have ever been to Disney World or Disney Land.  I would never have been able to go on a cruise like this on my own, so I was really grateful for the experience.

Instead of blogging . . .

we’ve had a some birthdays:

We’ve been to the Magic House.


Doing things aroud the house:

And we went to visit boy scout camp:

We’ve also been to a Cardinals game, the science center, Grant’s Farm, the park, the pool, and the library (countless times).  I should have a photo of Nevin reading because he has read 18 Redwall books + many others since school let out just more than a month ago.  Finally, we had Mark’s parents here to visit last week after they spent a couple days with the girls in Branson.

In the middle of all this activity, I have been working at my 2 at-home part-time jobs, and Mark has been working on various work projects, sending out many job applications, and doing occasional pulpit supply.

So I interrupted this very busy summer to give you an update.  Hopefully, I’ll find time in the coming weeks to tell you about the books we’re reading and the other activities we get around to.