hershey park


After we left Grace at college, we drove a couple of hours to Hershey, PA.  Rich and I had both visited the park when we were kids and Rich especially was excited to go back to the place of such fabulous childhood memories.  We went two days in a row so we could do everything.  The weather was gorgeous and there were crowds and crowds of people, but the park was big enough that it didn’t seem too bad.  It was fun to people-watch.  It was fun to eat chocolate.


I thought the flowers behind Rich and Caleb were so pretty.  (I took all the photos with my iPhone.)

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(P.S.  Our anniversary is on Saturday.  )

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We went on rides all morning and then went to the water park.  I changed into my suit, but stayed on the side lines in a chair and read a book, which was really the only thing I wanted to do at that point.  The kids were able to stay together as there was only one entrance and one exit out of this section of the water park.  Rich took a nap next to me (he can sleep anywhere) and then he took the boys on the bigger water rides.


This was when then came to the fence to complain about something.  LOL

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The water was so cold.  Seth had trouble staying warm, but Sarah was like a fish and stayed in the water the entire time….over 3 hours of swimming and enjoying all the neat fountains, slides, and so on.  She LOVED it.

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I was glad she had a bright bathing suit on….she was easy to spot.


There is a magic to amusement parks, don’t you think?


Cotton candy was on their bucket-list.


That night we went to a pizza place, it was much later than we usually eat (around 9pm). The kids were good and hungry and a little sunburned.  I was absolutely enthralled with the very old man I could see working.  This pizza shop was obviously a family affair.  So I slyly took his picture and felt like a sneak doing so, but I wanted to remember that someday when I’m 90-something years old, I can still work.  🙂

(He was busy putting new sodas in the cooler).


Never did a pizza taste THIS GOOD.  We ordered two and left with only one piece left.  It was thin crust, cheesy, hot, and perfect.


The next day at the park, we began our visit at the chocolate tour.



My mom has a little cookbook with this picture on the cover.  I used to love looking through it when I was little, just like a picture book for children, I would study each photo and recipe.  Years later, when I was a grown up, I was happy to find a copy of my own at a garage sale.

Of course I texted her this picture, too.


“eight wholesome roasted almonds”


chocolate, chocolate, everywhere


chocolate of all sizes



KISSES !!!!!


And then, back into the park for another day of riding on all the rides.  One of which was such a scary roller coaster that Rich went on it alone.  I let the kids get their face painted as we waited.


It was a huge mistake for Seth, because by the end of the day nothing was left of his Panda-face but the black around his eyes.  He looked like a zombie.


I think the zoo was one of our family-favorite parts.  We studied every single animal…snakes, owls, everything.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.


On a train ride together while the boys rode “the claw”.


She was soooooooo cute!  She had no fear whatsoever.  The kids were good sports.  It truly was a wonderful experience for us.


Merry-Go-Round with my girlie.


She was full of encouragement for this one last ride of the night; the Scrambler.  (I get nauseous on the spinning rides).

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That night we ate at a diner next door to the hotel.  And I finally got a good picture of my darling handsome Seth.  He really is a mama’s boy and the adoration is mutual.


Tasted so good after a day in the park, especially the juicy fruit.


Caleb’s burger.


We went back for breakfast the next day and this is how they served my raspberry muffin–queen style.


so handsome.


On the highway we found ourselves behind a tractor trailer which was shedding feathers…white feathers…we were curious so Rich sped up.  It was FULL of chickens.


When we got home, David wanted a pizza right away.  I think he missed me pizza.

i’ll triple the recipe for you


My dear little children,

I love you so much.
I’ll give you all the hugs you want.
I will wash your dirty clothes every day.
I will drive you all over the place.
I will bring your forgotten stuff to school for you.
I will watch your plays and games.
I will laugh at you, and with you.
I will take many pictures of you, because I think you are cute.
I will let you stay up late sometimes.
I will read you books.
I will nurture you.
I will triple the cookie recipe for you.


That’s a lot of cookies.



EVERYONE say HI to RACHEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night at the winter sports awards Dave had my camera and she squealed, “Take my picture so I can be on your Mom’s blog!”

She’s adorable.  Grace tells me that Rachel is a devoted reader of this blog and for that I say, “I’m so very glad you enjoy it and yes you may save any photo you want!”  xoxo


I had to run over to get in a picture, too, (along with goofy wrestling boys in the background).  Gosh, I look tired almost like I had spent half the day saving my flock of hens from a fox.  (true story)

Rachel is the fabulous Mary Poppins in our upcoming school play so she’ll make another appearance here soon…..stay tuned!


It was a fun night honoring the winter sports.  We had pizza in the cafeteria, awards in the auditorium, and then broke into groups in order to honor individual sports.


Rich was this year’s head coach for wrestling.  He presented each of his boys a certificate and told everyone in the room his favorite memory of the season for each of the boys.

Doesn’t Ethan look handsome? As soon as the night was over, Jacob walked up to him and said good naturally but emphatic, “Now get my brand new tie off, E!”  I laughed and laughed because Ethan doesn’t ask to wear his brother’s clothes, he simply takes them.


Rich was told by another coach that his wrestlers were the best dressed team of the night.  I would have to agree.  🙂


Caleb, Seth, and Sarah Joy wanted to be in a  picture, too.  I simply must mention that Sarah is amusing us lately by trying to be stylish.  She puts thought into her attire and dresses herself in certain outfits every day.  Today she carefully chose a dress to wear.  Last night it was all purple: pants, shirt, and sparkly headband.  She wanted to wear her earrings again after months of refusing to wear them.  Personally, I think she’s being influenced by a friend at school to dress up more fancy.  IT’S SO SO CUTE!!!


Ethan proudly wearing his brother’s tie.


I had my camera around my neck down low, shooting “blindly”, and this was the shocked expression I got from David when I said, “I’m shooting you, Dave.”  (with my camera, of course)

Caleb and Seth were busy fooling around in the hallways.  At one point, Seth was hanging upside down behind Caleb as Caleb held his legs.


Grace and Caleb


Me and my handsome, handsome husband who has a BIRTHDAY TODAY!!

Happy Birthday, love.  ❤

all the details

Yesterday I enjoyed a gift of a day with my three youngest children.  Caleb was given a free pass to Six Flags for reading at school and I thought it would be nice to take him, Seth, and Sarah while their older brothers and sister were away at camp.

As I sit here on my couch, cross legged, in my pajamas, I’m filled with gratitude for this lovely life, through Christ alone, that I am experiencing.  Each day is a gift.

Yes, there are tough days, yes there are lots of things I could complain about, yes I do complain and resort to survival sarcasm (sarcasm makes me laugh)…..for example….

The other night the boys had football practice and both of them needed help at the same time with their cleats, I was down on the floor in front of Seth, working on a stiff knot, while Caleb was saying Mom…Mom…Mom….I need some help here….Mom….

He could totally SEE what I was doing!  The frustration welled within me and I cried, “I’ll help you when I’m done with your brother!  Do you boys think I have four arms??”

Then I laughed all the way out the door because Caleb said in all seriousness.  “Mom.  You already said that.  Years ago.”

I laughed because I didn’t remember saying it, and I laughed because he remembered everything.  He said I wanted four arms:  “One to hold Sarah, one to hold Seth, one to hold your cup of coffee, and one to hold your book.”

On the way to Six Flags Caleb wanted to listen to music.  We like 93.1 (mix) but if it’s a song Caleb doesn’t approve of he switches it to 106.9 (K-LOVE, christian radio).  In all that switching, his favorite song came on, “Best day of my Life” by American Authors.  We sang loud.

On the way to Six Flags we passed Planned Parenthood and in the joy of taking a day off with my children, I imagined the souls of babies going up to heaven, my heart wept, I honked the horn encouragingly at the peaceful protestors who are typically there- this time it was two old ladies–simply standing on the sidewalk outside the office.  I said my own words to Jesus–I don’t want to say judgmental things, I don’t want to get upset or angry.  I’m sad, sad that our beloved women come to place where they believe abortion is the answer to a hard situation.  And when they are at their lowest, saddest times, their babies are being “harvested”.  It’s just incredibly wrong, a sadness deep down in my heart that will not go away that drives me to Jesus.   And I believe He is listening and answering.

On the way to Six Flags we stopped to say a quick hello to Aunt Amanda, who was looking sharp at work, who hugged her niece and nephews and talked with them.  As we left, I told the children, “Your Aunt Amanda is so sweet to you, she loves you so much and is always happy to see you.”  I want them to know, she is always there for them.

On the way to Six Flags (can you tell we were running a little early?) we stopped at Barnes and Nobles ONLY because *I wanted an iced Caramel Macchiato* and figured they could look at books as I ordered.  It was fun.  My kids are being raised on coffee that I drink, and books for all.

THEN we were on our way to the gates.  25 dollars to park!  161 for tickets!

At these prices we going to stay all day long to get our money’s worth.


First up was the Merry-Go-Round and Sarah with her pigtails.


She was wearing one earring backwards because for some reason one of the holes is constantly shutting…I couldn’t get the earring in but from the back.  I switched it around later (when she was getting dressed and her shirt pulled her earring out of her ear).  If I could go back in time, I would never have gotten her ears pierced until she was much older, like I did with Grace.

By the way, selfie sticks are not allowed at Six Flags.  I don’t have one, but thought the rule was interesting.  So you can see my arm holding out the phone in my sunglasses.  😉




Caleb went on the bigger rides with Seth, who was mainly too small to go on them unless he was with an adult.  It was a little hard to let them go off, just the two of them, these are my youngest children and in my mind not old enough.  But they are.  And they did great.


This is my favorite picture of the day.  The two of them returning from an exciting ride.




We did some swimming, too.  They swim almost every day so we didn’t stay long.  They wanted to ride on the rides!


Seth was exploding with crazy-JOY.  He expends twice as much energy as we do, I swear.  One time he was dancing and did a happy twirl as we walked along and fell down right on the pavement.  He showed me later his small scrape on his knee.  “It wasn’t funny, Mom.”


The rides were shut down twice for weather issues.  There were dark clouds in the sky.  This ride opened and rain fell for about 10 minutes.  It was nice, actually, to have the park cleared out of some of the people who gave up and went home…..we stayed…getting our money’s worth, don’t you know.


She was taking me to Frances.  (FRANCE!LOL)  “Mom, is Frances another planet?”

“No, but it is another country.”

“I’m going to take you to Frances!”


I was lucky to take the picture in the split second that Seth looked normal!


I bought them each a necklace that had their name on it.


Adorable kids who have to check all day long to see if they are big enough.


Caleb is my #5 child and feels more comfortable as a younger sibling.  But I have to say, and brag a little, that this boy of mine was a huge help to me all day long.  He led the way for us, knew the layout of the park quite naturally, and kept an eye on Seth and Sarah.  He took Seth along on the rides that Sarah could not go on….and did it all with a great attitude.





Caleb was even brave enough to go on several rides alone.  Like the Thunderbolt!  He truly did miss his old siblings, though, and saved some of the scariest rides to go on with them someday.


Toward the evening, Sarah began getting blisters and carrying her sandals, which is why they are on her arms in this “muscle” picture of my little superheroes.  🙂



By the way, Seth lost his shorts when he changed into his swimming trunks, they got left behind someplace.  He wore his trunks the rest of the time.

I had to buy myself flip flops because my sneakers were soaked on the water-raft ride.


What’s kind of sad is he has no clue who these creatures are.

“A Bunny and a Skunk” is what he said when I asked him.


Sarah went on a few challenging, faster rides and I had to bribe her once.  I hated to do it, but she was crying and saying “I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM” just as we were at the front of the line.  And by that time I knew it was her coping mechanism and not true.  She had already survived the ride once and wanted to go on it again, but just at the last second she panicked.  I wasn’t going to let her.  So I told her I would get her “a big lollipop” when it was over.   She cried and had to go to the bathroom again at the Scrambler but we didn’t bribe her.  We just said she would be fine and she was.  She would cry until the ride started and then laugh the entire time.  Silly Brave Sarah.  She’s living life her way.


The boys rode the Pandemonium.  “This is where I lost my hat last year” ~Caleb


My gentle-souled son.



Seth was leaping through this photo-attempt but we got it!

We left the park at 8:45 and headed home.  My little kids have proved to me that they are strong— and capable of having an entire day of nonstop fun without melt downs from exhaustion!  This is a milestone for my family.

I had to stop and get gas on the way home.  It was 9:30 by the time we pulled in the driveway and as soon as I got out of the car I ran to the chicken coop using the flashlight on my phone.  Thankfully, the chickens were all safe inside with no raccoons eating them, so I shut the windows and doors tightly and walked back to the house with two eggs in my pocket…..we had peanut butter sandwiches before bed, with promises of nice warm baths…tomorrow.

This morning I had a text message from my husband, telling me that our son David was saved at camp yesterday.  “my heart gives grateful praise”

Today should be a quieter day.  We’re going to have those baths, and watch a couple of movies.

Caleb is snuggling with the dog and I’m petting a rabbit.  Seth is still asleep!  And it’s after 8!  Now I know what to do to make his sleep extra–take him to Six flags for the day!

Happy Wednesday, friends!

these days

phone dump post ahead!

dedicated to the ones I love…….


This was about a month ago at a little league game.  Rich brought one chair and eventually we realized we had both decided on the ground so we could sit really close together.


Seth was in the garage and dropped something (he said it was a hammer-thing) on his pinky toe.  He came in the house to show me his painful swollen and bloody toe.  “I saw my toenail fly off.  I couldn’t find it.” For some reason this struck me as hilarious…the thought of my six year old ignoring the pain and taking the time to search for his toenail, like maybe he thought it could be reattached.  This is a picture I took of it about a week later, when the nail started growing again.


Mitch and Ethan stylin’ at Jacob’s graduation.


The cake I made my Mama for her birthday.


Singing Happy Birthday to Grandma on June 19th.


At the end of the day…Jacob’s graduation party.


Caleb’s last little league game and his 4th place trophy.


Sarah and Seth with their new backpacks FOR SCHOOL!


A few weeks ago Rich and I snuck away for a night at a hotel together.  Alone.  This was part of the view from our room.  We had such a good time knowing that nobody was around who needed us….we could lock the door and never mind the world.


This is the summer of working toward driver’s licenses for the boys.


I am not very proud to say that I am scared to death in the passenger seat.  I feel that this is an indication of a control-problem on my part.  I eventually realized that going on my phone or reading a book helps to distract me from panic attack and/or  from distracting the driver.


Teenagers arguing over who has to sit in the backseat.  Ethan:  “I was here first”  Zac:  “I’m getting dropped off first.  Emily:  “I don’t want to sit in the back, it’s harder to get out and I want to jump right out when we get there.”  Jacob:  “I’m the firstborn.”

(they stayed put and rode just the way they were….squished)


Jacob and Emily at the coffee shop.  I thought it was so cute that they held hands like that.


The day I took these kids to the movies and Target.


A week later…another movie morning.


Grace and her book at the movies…..


This cat was sound asleep in/off my favorite chair on the porch.


Boys playing video games….Emily painting.



In the coop!


Seth microwaving!


Sarah learned a trick.


Our cat Samantha.


Pretty braid.



At church.


I’ve been making jars and jars of my Mama’s Raspberry Jelly!!!!

From berries on the side of the road!


The very first jar. 2 cups


picking more  berries a few days later


I held up one of the briars and it was covered!  These treasures like to hide and it truly is a feeling of treasure seeking and finding as I pick.  I just love it.  Some of the kids find it boring!  I don’t understand!





The next two jars!  3 cups


Yesterday’s batch!  4 cups!  I kept some of the seeds in this time…I’m going to use a jar for raspberry bars today and perhaps jam thumbprints soon, too. soooooo happy


This is heavenly!  Plain greek yogurt with a spoon of homemade jelly— nothing but pure berries and sugar.  The recipe is so easy and quick…instant gratification.


Seth does slow down at times.  And when he does I stand and stare at him.


R.C. —Jacob and Seth playing with their cars.


Grace laughing over Alyssa’s son’s instagram.


Boys wrestling party at our place this weekend!


I love it when I go in my room and shut the door for a little peace and quiet and this man of mine comes without knocking in to lean over the bed to tell me random things.  I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.


Sherlock helping me watch my chickens….we lost 5 last week to a raccoon so I’ve been keeping them locked up unless I am right there.


The list I left for the kids on Saturday morning when Rich and I left to get stuff for the wrestling party.


Sarah pretending she is a cat named “Hawaii”


Sarah swimming.  Now is the time to get those Land’s End suits on sale for next year!  This one is size 6, a little big on her…but so so cute.


Jacob and Emily napping on the couch.


Seth and I had to wait for Jacob at the college last week….





He was hitting mushrooms like they were golf balls.  Using a stick as a club.


We had a coffee/pastry treat as we waited, at a wonderful Italian bakery.


I made Caleb’s birthday cake myself…David in the red shirt took one bite of it and yelled “YES!”  As I jumped in my seat next to him he continued, “This cake is moist!  I love it when the cake is moist.”  LOL!!


Everyone was full of it.


sooooooo happy with these people of mine!


Micheal and his watermelon.  Parker was watching his Dad through the window.  One of my sunflowers got broken so I put it in a pitcher by the piano.


Yesterday Caleb got the last football cards I will ever buy him!  The complete set purchased with his birthday money and a loan from Mom.  “Mom, can I borrow 13 dollars?  It would make me really happy.”  Okay then.


We went to the movies and Subway for lunch.


I got my ears pierced! (2nd hole)


We went to the library last night for a magic show and then Seth got his first library card! I die.




“Why does it say Seth W on it?”  “That’s your middle initial”  “Oh, I remember!  William!”


I wrote this post with Parker at my feet.

Happy Summertime, my friends!