I love apple picking with the kids.  It is one of my most favorite fall traditions.  IMG_6688

This year Scott was able to join us since we went in the late afternoon.  We actually closed up the joint… checking out literally at closing time. 


The weather was perfect and the event, like everything in life, was so much more enjoyable with Scott.apple picking

Almost every fall, I enjoy taking the kids to the county fair.  We’ve been going since my oldest was under a year old.  This year my youngest was so super excited.  He talked about it for months.  “When are we going to go to the fair and see the animals?”  We went on Friday morning for the preschool preview day.   Then my parents and I returned on Saturday for the girls to perform a gymnastics demo.  Saturday we brought our cousins back.   IMG_6450

It was so cute to watch all of the kids interacting with the animals. 


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My niece is quite the animal lover.  I loved, LOVED watching her interact with the animals.


The pig and duck races were a favorite event for everyone.


My heart was full as I watched my kids interact with their cousins.. making memories and building relationships… precious, precious times!


Because our homeschool tutorial meets on a Mon-Thurs schedule and the board doesn’t like to start the year on a partial week, we are THE LAST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD (or so it feels like) to start back to school.  But, today we finally had our turn for the morning poses on the front step.  IMG_6328

Another school year is upon us.  We had an EPIC summer.  One for the record books… and I while I didn’t tackle every project on my summer to do list, we are starting the year off a little more organized than last year.  So, even though I am not ready for the early mornings and the long afternoons… I am ready for a new year.

I can’t believe this is my 5th year of homeschooling!!  That’s right I have a fourth grader now. 


I also have a second grader… sporting the contacts she got this summer.  Definitely a new look for her (and her doll Molly).  She also lost a new tooth this weekend!


And last, but not least, my 1st grader!  She was almost literally bouncing off the walls with excitement this morning… ready to start another school year. IMG_6331

I hope and pray that it is a good year for all of us and that we grow closer to each other and to the Lord as we seek to do this school year well. 

Labor Day.  What does it really mean anyway?  I’m not fully sure of it’s tradition or reason for existing, but I do know it means a 3 day weekend at the end of the summer and so I’ve never really questioned it.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2002, that it took on a whole new meaning for me and my family.  That was the year we went to my friends family cabin with 5 other couples and just hung out.  For three days.  Stayed up late talking, played games, ate a lot of junk food.  It was glorious.  And we decided right then and there that we should do this every year.

And we have.

Many of you know about our Labor Day tradition.  You come to expect this blog post or the slew of pictures on face book. 

This year it took me awhile to recap on it.  I’m still not sure I can put it into words. 

The last few years I noticed a change in our Labor day gatherings.  It started subtle at first.  The original core of our group was the girls.  We were all friends in high school.  Though I realized this weekend, it wasn’t like the 6 of us all hung out all the time, by ourselves in high school.  But we were all friends in high school.  Good friends.  I don’t think it was until after high school, maybe even after college, that we really grew to what we are now.  I guess that is to say we aren’t friends b/c we were friends in high school.  When we get together it’s not about catching up or reliving those old times.  I think we are such good friends, b/c we are friends now.  Because our friendship has continued to grow since high school.  I do believe the fact we’ve known each other so long, makes our friendship all the sweeter, but its depth and richness come from the continual growth over the years since. 

Anyway, I remember after our first Labor Day gather how excited we were that the guys all got along.  We were thrilled that this wasn’t just something they tolerated for us, but that they enjoyed and looked forward to themselves.  This is a treasure!  And I think it is a large part of the cement that binds our friendship and our tradition.  There is a mutual love and respect among the 12 adults in our group.  This isn’t something just for the wives.  It is something for all of us. (and the guys are awesome sports about our Family Olympic tradition and the fact that this tradition is way harder on the dads than the moms).


Not long after the tradition began, a new tradition began.  It was Labor Day 2003, when Scott and I announced to the group that next Labor Day there would be 13 people attending!  Then it seemed the tradition for the next 10 years was either someone announcing a pregnancy or someone bringing a new baby or both…. in the 13 years since this tradition began, we have gone from a group of 12 to a group of 35! (with promise of a 36th to join us next Labor Day)

And here is where the tradition and the friendship grows even sweeter.  Because now the kids look forward to the trip just as much as the grown ups.  It’s not some weekend with their parents friends that we do every year… it’s a weekend with their friends too.  IMG_6134labor day 2013 320

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This year the bigger kids literally played outside ALL DAY… trampsing through the forests… fighting Indians.. making tee pees, enjoying each other.  It was beautiful to see.  Actually, it was beautiful to see the kids of ALL AGES… making memories and solidifying friendships.  even the tiny tots.


As I looked around at our group this weekend, I realized we have grown into something more.  They truly have become an extended family.  And it’s unlike anything I have been a part of before.  I can’t fully explain it.  But, I can say that I am forever grateful for it.  I am grateful for these friendships and our commitment to our friendships and our blessed 3 day weekend together each year.  It is a rare and priceless treasure beyond what I ever could have imagined back in high school.  And I am so thankful that our children get to grow up in this unique extended family.


It was a typical afternoon for me… rush the kids into the van, make a quick stop at Walgreens for cough drops and pictures… a quick glance at the clock tells me we should make it to practice in time as long as we don’t hit traffic.

And then…

the car just stops… it almost felt like I could feel it drop, the steering wheel locked and I did my best to coast and steer it to the side of the road… or the entrance of the bus circle at the high school.  I look over and see a van waiting for me to move.  I am completely blocking his exit.  I have no idea what to do.  I put my window down to say this and a man comes over and says, “Put it in neutral and I’ll push you to the side.”  We both did a double take.  He was the father of one of the girls on my daughter’s gymnastics team.  The same team I was taking the girls to practice for.  After pushing my van out of the way so cars could drive around me, he offered to drive the girls to practice for me. 

I couldn’t believe God’s goodness to me.

Truly, of all the places to break down, this was so providential.  Just the day before we had been driving home from Deep Creek, MD… a 3 hour drive from home.  We could have been stranded on the side of the interstate hours from home. 

Instead, I broke down literally in front of someone I knew who could help me.   I got the girls booster seats out of the van and sent them off to practice.  Then I tried to call Scott.  He wasn’t at his desk.  Didn’t have his cell on him.  I called a friend that works with him and couldn’t reach him either.  I scrolled through my contact list looking for a coworker of his I could call.  I found one , who was at his phone and was willing to track Scott down for me.  What a praise!  Even more amazingly, he was able to track Scott down for me and rather quickly.  Scott wasn’t in his normal work area.  Meanwhile one of our church elders drove by and checked on me.  There wasn’t anything he could do, but I just appreciated the familiar face checking in as I sorted the mess.  Once I talked to Scott and knew he was on his way, I called our road side assistance and our mechanic. 

The whole time I was at such peace.  We were safely off the road, Scott was on his way, and the car could be towed to our trusted mechanic.  I just couldn’t believe how fortunate we were.

Scott’s car can only hold 3 kids in the back seat.  If the girls hadn’t gotten a ride to practice, we would have been in more of a bind as we figured out how to get everyone home.  Instead the girls were taken care of and once Scott got to us and then the tow truck took our van, he drove the boys and I home.  I then immediately left to go to a meeting I had and I was able to pick the girls up afterwards.  WHAT A BLESSING!

I truly marvel at God’s hand of protection on us last evening.  It could have been such a bigger head ache.  But, he not only kept us safe, He cared for the little details like gymnastics practice and getting everyone home in one trip.  God would still be God and still be good, had this gone differently.  But, I am praising Him today for the blessings he bestowed on us yesterday afternoon.