I love hobbies, and I love seeing how each of my children have different hobbies that they enjoy.

We do a lot of different things around here. Work pays the bills and can be very satisfying, but there’s something about a hobby that inspires people. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a hobby that becomes your work, but even if you don’t, you still need a good hobby.

Hobbies are the spice of life. We have a wide variety, and I’ve noticed everyone has been very active with their hobbies around here lately.


3 hobbies in one pic: badminton, hanging out with friends, and RVing. I love it all.

Okay, no, actually, I think I’d be incredibly nervous on an RV. They look fun, but I don’t know. I’ve never done it.

He dressed up as a Star Wars character. I told him, “You might want to change because you have to go inside with me to pick up John David, and there will be lots of kids there. But you can wear that if you want to.”

“Yes! Yes! I want to wear this!”

….And then we pulled into the parking lot, and he chickened out. I had to stand and wait for him to pull the costume off. He had his regular clothes on underneath.

This is the same kid that went to a basketball game in full Batman costume, so I didn’t put it past him to wear the storm trooper outfit.

There’s something special about baking cookies with your mom. This was an activity my brother and I did a lot when we were growing up, and I’m so thankful we did because I was well prepared to spend my life in the kitchen feeding all these boys!

I found this shirt at the local farmer’s market. Does shopping count as a hobby? Well, supporting my favorite baseball player does, and I don’t mean Bryce Harper. I do mean my Daniel.

This is a hobby I was completely unfamiliar with until Caleb came along. I don’t even care to learn really, though I’m sure eventually I will, for Caleb and Daniel’s sakes. Amy was a good sport and played with the kids.

Reading has always been one of my personal favorite hobbies.

Testing phase of his parachute. No, he didn’t jump with it. He didn’t make it for a person, he made it to send down small things.

Caleb is my inventor. Does your family have an inventor in your ranks? He never ceases to amuse me with the things he creates with paper, tape, and staples.

When they put a suction cup on a toothbrush, this is obviously what that’s for.

When I see this, I know that my inventor is busy at work, and I’m also thankful that he hasn’t lost my tape yet. I can never find my tape. You see why.

My stapler was also missing for like 2 months.


They are so different from me. I have never invented a single thing in my life. When Joshua came home with that diorama book report assignment, I wanted to cry. April doesn’t make things, at least not inedible things.

50 worms. All made by him

We had an agreement. He can play Playdoh as much as he wants as long as I don’t have to make things. He makes the things.

Chalking Woody

Drawing on his toys is his passion in life. I kid you not.

Now this is a hobby I WILL be joining them on this summer. Yes, I can’t wait. Totally serious.

a Caleb creation. This wasn’t even a set. He designed this himself. He is a Lego and video game genius, in my humble, motherly opinion. Haha!!  

And oh, how I love to sit or walk and marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. Stand in awe of God. Creation restores my faith when I am down. 

That photo was taken at Yosemite. Every nature lover needs to eventually make it to California.

What about you? What are your hobbies? Any other slip-and-sliders out there? 



The Great Toy Overhaul

This spot right here is where I’d love to share a giant photo of all the other moms and me. And to make it even worse, I actually have the perfect picture!! However, I try really hard to not tick people off by posting their smiling face on my blog, so I’m refraining. I want you to know that sometimes it is incredibly hard!!! I want to show you my super cute friends, but I also want them to stay my friends.

Every article is better WITH pictures, so if you ever mention to me that you are not blog-shy, it will make my day, and I promise to not abuse the privilege.

My successful Mom’s Night was made possible due to the Great Toy Overhaul.

What’s that, you ask? Prepare to be shocked:

The Great Toy Overhaul

Every single toy they OWNED.

This has been bothering me for about 8 years. Five different rooms with toys in them, all reachable by children, all mixed in. Cars in the blocks box, dinosaurs in with the Little People, and basically not a single fun set because what makes sets fun is having the whole set together.

But how???? I’ve re-sorted toys a billion times, and it never stays that way.

So I devised a plan, a brilliant idea in my brain. I did this five days before Mom’s Night, and the toys managed to stay fixed the whole five days!!

While Nonna and DaddyO were still here, I announced, “As you put kids to bed, I’m snatching all the toys out of their rooms and dumping them all in the living room. THEN we are going to give away HALF of them, sort the rest, and store all toys where the boys can’t reach them. From now on, I will set out two sets of toys to play with in the living room each day, and we can rotate them.”

Alan was giddy. “Can we give away all of them!? Let’s just scrap it ALL! Then they will have to do puzzles and read, and that’s it!”

Well, now, let’s not get carried away.

DaddyO put his face in his hands. Was he pretending to be sick to get out of this insane project??  No, but I did allow him to sneak upstairs rather than participate in all the sorting fun. After all, the man did clean my microwave, and he’d spent so much time with JD during this visit that we began to think that JD had stamped DaddyO with his dirt and hypnotized him into being his personal servant. We let JD’s servant go on up to bed.


Dirt boy misses DaddyO.

Nonna and I did the bulk of the toy sorting work. I know many of you have never met Nonna, so I should explain. She’s like the grand slam hitter of any home improvement task. Want to make sure a job gets done? Who do you send in when the bases are loaded, with only 1 out to spare??? Nonna! She has more energy than Caleb, and that’s saying a lot.

I was rather proud of us.

We gave away the equivalent of 5 diaper boxes full of play things!

We’ve made it through a solid WEEK, and I’m here to tell you that it can be done. The toys are still SORTED! This brought me so much peace!!

Watch out drawers and closets!!! You are next!!!

……..So yes, Mom’s Night was largely a success because we did not need to clean up any children’s rooms. I was able to give them a full house tour. Plus, I taught all 11 of my friends how to play Four on the Couch. Never played? Oh, we must! Next time there are at least 8 of us together, we will be happy to teach you!

Here’s a little of what else has been going on around these parts:

Joshua is gradually learning how to write essays this year in school.

Therefore, I created a “Whining and Complaining” Chart. Every time a child obeys WITHOUT whining, complaining, or arguing, they get a check mark by their name. Once everyone gets 17 check marks, we are going to have a Friday Fun Day, and I’m going to take them to see a movie.

Every time they DO whine, argue, or complain, I erase a check mark.

Why 17? Because that’s where I reached the end of the poster board.

No, I didn’t put myself on the chart. Let’s not get overly ambitious. 😉 I’m kidding. Now that I think about it, perhaps I will put myself on the chart.

Caleb made a perfect 100 on his math test this week. We’re talking problems like 86 x3 and 112+130+95. I have not been this excited since Alabama won the National Championship. Forget about Caleb; let’s focus on his brilliant math teacher!!!  🙂 🙂 :)hehehe Just kidding. This victory was Caleb’s. 😉

Daniel MASTERED bicycle riding, which has created attention overload everywhere Daniel goes.


I think he looks like such a big boy!!

“Look at that. A baby riding a bicycle. Well, I never!” a woman muttered as she passed him.

“Hey, did you see that little bitty kid riding a two-wheeler!?” a bigger girl shouted to her friend as they whizzed by him on their bikes.

Back in our day, a kid would have bragged, “I learned how to ride a bike with no training wheels.”

Thanks to the new glider bike movement, children now say, “I learned to ride a bike with pedals!!”

I pass pre-schoolers on glider bikes everyday, but seeing a four-year-old, and a small one at that, riding a real bike with pedals, is apparently still impressive.  I’ve never heard so many comments.

I wish you could’ve seen him teach himself to ride it. He used the bicycle with no pedals for all of three days. By the fourth day, he was sailing by us, feet in the air, all without a wobble, so we bought him his own brand new bicycle. He would not let any of us help him. He stubbornly worked on it until it was mastered, all in a day. We were so proud.

I love having four totally different children. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that I can’t truly take credit for any of their struggles, successes, or failures. Not one boy is the same as another.


JD is still happy to ride his tricycle.

JD is still happy to ride his tricycle.

Last but not least, I have a surprise! Alan is going to take charge of the tribe this weekend while I head off to a women’s retreat! I can barely believe it myself! Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Alan?

Image 9-25-15 at 2.22 PM

Oh! This is an image I will remember for the rest of my life.

How much difference does there appear to be between Caleb and Dan? It looks like 5 years, but it’s only 3!! It almost looks like I have 2 sets of twins.

Image 9-25-15 at 9.13 PM (1)

teaching moments


Alan and our boys at Yosemite

Colossians 3:14-15


14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Wishing you all a wonderful week!!


“You no eat the baby. Me eat the baby.” What I will and will not miss about babies.

Before the “mommy brain” kicks in and I forget, I must share this quote that I am still smiling about:
This morning I put JD in his high chair and began prepping his breakfast.  (He is much easier to feed now than he used to be.  It turns out that he will eat ANYTHING if you mix it with applesauce.)
Daniel LOVES to feed the baby, so Daniel went right to work, sliding his chair over to the high chair.  Then he proceeded to stand in the chair and lean his little self across the high chair tray to tell his daddy, on the opposite side of the tray:
 “You no eat the baby.
   Me eat the baby.”
…which of course, when translated from Daniel-glish to English means, “Don’t feed the baby.  I want to feed the baby.”
He did a good job of feeding the baby, for about three spoonfuls, and then he proclaimed, “Done!” and I finished the job.
Yesterday was the famous annual cub scout Pine Wood Derby race.  We all went as a family.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to go in time, so Alan and boys 1-3 went ahead, and the baby and I went 20 minutes later.

The bad thing about this is that by the time I got there the parking lot was full.


Now that wasn’t really that big of deal, except that it was about 15 degrees outside, there was still snow all over the place, and the wind was blowing me in the face and trying to throw JD’s blanket off of him.


There I was, pushing the stroller with one hand, holding the blanket over the stroller so it wouldn’t blow away and expose JD to the elements, with the other hand and of course carrying my 20 pound diaper bag on one shoulder, only it wouldn’t stay on my shoulder.


I looked like a limping hunchback, pushing a stroller.


Plus it was about 11am, and I hadn’t had breakfast yet.


As you can imagine, I was in a pretty bad mood by the time I got into the gym.
But I told myself, “It’ll be okay because they’re serving Chick fil a.”


I was right in time to see Jeff entering the gym carrying the yummy chicken goodness.  Yes!  I chatted to a few friends and then got in line.  It didn’t seem like that long of a line, and yet when I got to the table…..the woman in front of me……got the last. chicken. sandwich.


I don’t care how good a person you are or how much you try to say, “Hey, I have it good compared to a lot of people, I should just be thankful,” this sort of morning will put you in a seriously bad mood. Despair. I was in despair.


After that I just kind of gave up on happiness.  A few things happened:

–People occasionally brought Dan over to me when he couldn’t find me, and he was pouting.  (Don’t worry.  It was a small gym.  He was fine.)


–I spotted Dan with a bag of chips, was just sure he’d swiped them, so I went to the snack stand and paid for the chips…..only to find out later that Alan actually had bought those for him.  I could’ve saved myself that embarrassment.


–A big kid knocked Caleb over, which hit him right in his fever blister, which caused about 5 good minutes of Caleb tears.


–I decided to settle for the pizza, once I got over the Chick-fil-a disappointment.  I waited in line again, put in my order, opened my wallet, and WHAAAT…. discovered that my wallet had been completely emptied (accidentally) by Dan when I had him fetch my wallet out of the bottom of the stroller.


Only my stroller was on the other side of the gym.


Yes, I panicked.  I mean, of course I panicked. Some of us are cool, and some of us just aren’t. I ran back to the stroller, leaving my snack table friends standing there waiting, and there was my cash.


So that provided yet another moment of snack table humiliation.


–After the wallet incident, Alan and Joshua left for Joshua’s basketball game. I stood in the middle of the gym, struggling to eat my pizza without getting any on JD (who I was wearing in an Ergo carrier), while Dan was not eating the pizza he’d asked for– but instead was playing at my feet, and Caleb was standing there crying from his fall.
I was standing there thinking, “I must look like a sight,” and there had reached that level of embarrassment at which it is not even possible to be embarrassed any further. At this point, it was just “whatever…” when a grandfatherly gentleman passed by and pointed out to me that Dan was running over his pizza over and over again with the stroller wheel.


I was so annoyed, but I just handed Caleb the pizza and told him to go throw it away, which he did.


–Then Dan kept pushing that stroller, and nearly running into people, and a part of me really just wanted to cry, but of course I decided against it.


–Then a woman I’d never met came up, introduced herself, and thanked me for all the work I’ve done as room mom for Caleb’s class, so that was nice.


You know, good things do happen.  God bless all the people who take the time to say thank you and spread words of encouragement.  You can imagine how much WE ALL need it.


–Right before I left, I was having a good conversation with a group of friends, and the boys were all playing nicely, so I was feeling much better.
Then it was time to go, and I got all the boys’ jackets on them, and happily headed home…..until I actually walked out the gym door, the arctic wind hit us in the face again, and I remembered the long walk to the remote parking space that I’d found.
Caleb said, “You know, Mom, Dad parked a whole lot closer.”



Dan kept whimpering when the wind would blow his hat off.
You’re picturing the misery?


—Oh, and the back van door sticks in the cold, so then there was that.


Once I got home and all of this was over, I didn’t leave the house again.  I remember nothing about yesterday after that point. I don’t think I will ever leave my house again, come to think of it.


No, no, I will not ever miss days like THIS.


I will miss my children being children.  I will miss cuddling babies, and reading to sweet little ones.  I will miss kissing their soft cheeks and crossing the street holding tiny little hands.  I WILL miss those things.
I will not miss that feeling of hopelessness, when you’re out in public, and it just feels like there are more babies than you have hands, and your arms just ache.
And other people don’t miss it like they think they do.
  They just don’t remember.


Right before I had Daniel, things had started to get really good.  Joshua was 5, and Caleb was 3, and I remember being at the playground and being able to sit on a bench feeling fairly carefree.  Meanwhile, my friend Olivia would be following her 1-year-old all over the playground, and I remember thinking, “Oh, wow, I’m so thankful to be past that.”


Ha!  Oh, how things do come back around.


 Caleb’s car is the green one.
Sometimes you just gotta smile through the pain.  ; )
It’s important to at least try, I really believe it is.


God made them so adorable on purpose.
 Apparently, Joshua thought it important to label his car.  : )
 They are creative boys.
 Caleb’s creation
He called it, “the stinky car.”
because to Caleb, all things are better stinky
Meanwhile, John David has been working on his rolling skills.  Sometimes he requires help, and sometimes he doesn’t.  He’s definitely not a highly motivated mover.
  We love you just the way you are JD.  My prayer for JD is that he will be a wonderful, godly man, and also I pray that he will have a more subdued, calm personality.


He LOVED the pizza crust, but I had to take it away because he kept gagging on it.  Oh well, we’ll try again soon, JD.

This post was written a few months after JD’s birth. JD is now 3. For a more current post, see my year end Christmas card letter here.

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