Every year the majority of the girls at our gym attend gymnastics camp together in Pa.  In fact, even some of our coaches go.  Our oldest daughter has been wanting to go for years.  Last year anytime I would say, “Guess what?”  or “I have a surprise for you,”  she would always respond with, “I get to go to camp?”  Seriously, every little guess what and surprise suddenly seemed like a let down.  Finally I had to sit her down and say, “Sweetie, I know you want to go to camp, and I’d love to send you, but it is a lot of money and it isn’t going to happen.” 

She took it very well. 

And then she started saving her own money for camp.  This was well before the girls went to camp in 2014.  She knew when she was saving in the spring of 2014 that she wouldn’t be going to camp that June.  She never whined or complained when the girls all went to camp last June and she didn’t. She saved all spring, all summer, all fall.  Every tooth fairy dollar…. every cent of allowance.  Each month she’d take her spending money for allowance and deposit it into her savings. 

Last Christmas Scott and I decided instead of giving her a gift for Christmas, we would pay for the remainder of what she hadn’t saved for her to go to camp.  Her one Christmas gift from us (besides her stocking) was a letter saying, she would be able to go to camp this summer. She was elated.  Still she saved.  When time came in January to register, she turned in all she had saved and we paid for the rest.  When her birthday came in February, she set aside a huge chunk of her birthday money for spending money at camp. 

And last week, she finally go to go to camp.

I was so excited for her.  I knew how long she had waited.  My biggest fear was that it wouldn’t be as good as she had thought.  “What if she built it up to be too wonderful in her head and she was let down?”

She was not let down.

She had the time of her life.


It’s been so fun to hear all about her week.  She got to practice gymnastics 3 times a day, all week.  She learned some new skills. She met and was even coached by Olympians.  She got their autographs.  She went on a high ropes course and even saw a mountain lion!   Her day basically consisted of eating, gymnastics, the pool, and friends.  Pretty much her ideal day…. all week long.

It was hard to say goodbye to her for a week.  But, I strongly suspected that I would miss her way more than she missed me.  And I was right. (see her down there in the front row?)


I am so proud of her for saving so diligently for something she wanted so badly.  And I am so thankful we were able to help make her dream come true and send her to camp.  I am thankful that she had an amazing time while she was there.  And I am super, duper thankful to have her back home again.


The reoccurring anthem playing in my head lately seems to be, “Oh my!  How did that happen already? They are growing up before my eyes!” Whether it’s taking my oldest to a middle school youth group event, packing my oldest two for their first week away from home at camp, or watching my youngest learn to ride a bike with no training wheels, over and over I find myself asking, WHERE DID MY BABY GO?

But, here he is… my big 5 year old…. riding without training wheels!

After 3 lessons with his dad, he is now completely independent on his biking!  And he is off, pedaling fast doing his best to hold his own with the big kids.

Meanwhile I am left marveling…. wondering what happened to this??

I snapped this picture pretty much 3 years ago this week….

Truth be told I don’t homeschool b/c I love teaching.  I am not that mom who stays up late looking up cool lesson plans to do with her kids.  I don’t spend my summer reading books for the next school year.  I wish I was that mom.  I often feel guilty that I am not that homeschooling mom.

Truthfully, the homeschool days are tough.  I mean we have our good moments each day, and those precious moments are what carry me through the L.I.T.E.R.A.L weeping and gnashing of teeth (both theirs and mine) as we fight through the lessons we don’t enjoy.  And as we work on heart issues and character and respect… all which truly add on to an already full day of work.  Latin with a side of Respect is often a huge pill to swallow.

But, we fight through, we persevere and I THINK we are ALL growing and learning through it all and despite our many, many flaws. 

And the reason why is right here….

June 11

We have long, long days from Sept-May…. but then we get out of school a whole month before the rest of the world.  And we play hard. This was the first year that I made us push through and work till June.  I of course was told I was “ruining their summer.”  When in actuality they still had at least a half day of free time to play Legos each day.  Normally when our tutorial is done, we are done.  This year we were done with a majority of our subjects, but still had to spend a few hours a day on math and health for the following month.  We also spent a few weeks DEEP, DEEP cleaning our house.  Because during those longs days of school from Sept-May, I can tell you there is VERY VERY little cleaning that takes place.  Just the bare minimum to keep us closed, fed, and somewhat sanitary.  But, Tuesday we met with the county and showed them our work and then it was SUMMERTIME!!!


Even the dog got in on the summer fun… whether she wanted to or not…

The extra time with my kids, most especially over summer and Christmas is the #1 reason I can make it through the homeschool year.

Sprinklers and worms…. such a fun combo!

My oldest will start middle school this fall.  The plan is to continue on with homeschooling him next year.  I don’t know how much longer we will continue, I take it one year at a time.  And so, I intend to do my best to embrace this long summer.

We celebrated my youngest son’s 5th birthday with a Panda Party. 


When I was prepping goody bags earlier in the week, my 9 year old came up with a suggestion for the party.  She suggested I make bamboo sticks by dipping pretzel sticks in green chocolate.  I loved the fact that she wanted to contribute to the party and was eager to celebrate her creativity.  So, I went to the store and got the supplies for her bamboo sticks.  She asked if I saw that idea anywhere on Pinterest and I told her I hadn’t.  So, she said, “Great, Mom you have to Pin my idea then!”  hahaha… soooo the #1 purpose of this blog post is getting her idea on the internet so it can be pinned on Pinterest.  Smile FullSizeRender (1)

While talking about the Panda Party on Sat, my 8 year nice suggested we hang green streamers in the hallway so it looked like we were walking through bamboo trees.  I loved her idea too!!  And even though I had already bought black and white streamers to hang on the back deck, I went and got the green ones to hang as well.  Because, I love LOVED the fact that the girls were getting into the party and wanting to contribute their own ideas.  And I wanted to celebrate their creativity and encourage them to participate. 


Both my 7 year old and my birthday boy helped draw the panda faces on the goody bags.  I loved their contributions and thought their panda faces were even cuter than mine.  IMG_0794

The night before my son’s actual birthday, my 11 year old went on art for kids hub and saw how to draw a panda bear and a red panda bear.  He then drew panda pictures, made copies off them and hung them all over his room after his brother fell asleep.  I loved his sweet and creative idea for his brother.

There are a lot of posts out there on the pressure of being “Pinterest Perfect.”  And I know one can easily spiral out of control trying to make it all look just right.   I understand the sentiments behind just keeping it simple. At the same time, I really appreciate the fact that I, who am not really creative at all in my own right, can google panda party ideas and see tons of suggestions.  Some are way out of my league and I say to myself “no way” but others I thought were super cute and so I tried them out.  They didn’t look exactly like the pictures I saw online, but they looked like pandas so I went ahead and used them. And I embraced all the contributions my children made into making the party special.  It became their labor of love as well.  Because in my opinion, that is what a birthday party is…. a labor of love. 

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Hopefully my little man felt loved at his Panda Party.


This week my baby turned 5.  He was so excited.  He literally started counting down the days about 5 days out.  “Then it became after this day after that day is my birthday.”  The day before his birthday he told me he wanted to fall asleep early so his birthday would come sooner.  We kissed him goodnight for the last time as a 4 year old and sent him up to bed.  When I came up a little while later to peek in on them, he was sobbing in his bed.  He decided maybe he didn’t want to turn 5 after all.  He said, “4 is the best age I ever was, I think I should stay 4.”  It was so precious and cute and heart breaking all at the same time.

And I could totally relate to his desire to grow up and yet at the same time  hold on to life right where it is.

I brought him in to bed with me where we snuggled and talked about all the wonderful things he did when he was four.  Then I got out his baby book and we looked at pictures of him in my belly and during his first year of life.  We laughed and giggled.  And I told him about what he was like as a baby. 

Believe it or not there were things I had forgotten about him at that stage.  Things like the fact that he used to say hi to everyone with one hand in the air, or the fact that his older sister used to talk to him in my belly through my belly button ( a fact that was quite awkward when she decided to talk to the baby when we were out in public).

And so once again, in my desire to hold on to life right where it is, I felt compelled to blog about life right now.  The things he did and said at 4 that I am sure 5 years from now I will have forgotten. IMG_0745

IMG_9893Even at 4, he could still fall asleep anywhere.  Sitting awkwardly in a seat at the gymnastics awards or on the side of his brothers jit jitsu tournament, or in the waiting room at the gym while I worked out.  If he was tired, he had the ability to curl up and go to sleep anywhere.  He even climbed up in my lap in the big pool area of Great Wolf Lodge and took a nap. 

He has an obsessive personality.  This spring he became obsessed with coloring pictures of animals.  I would literally print 20-30 pages a day of free coloring pages of animals and he would spend hours HOURS day after day coloring in those animals.  He took these hundreds of sheets of paper with him in his backpack for weeks on end.   When this obsession ended he became obsessed with words.  Even when he didn’t know what each letter was called, he taught himself to write letters just by copying them.  He would write out IMG_0036strings of letters and ask what they spelled. He would literally write a page of gibberish letters and then his sister would go through and circle whatever words she could find. “Look you wrote Go”  or “Here is tap.”  His face would light up with glee.  “I wrote a word, a real word.”  Then he started copying words out of books, off of food containers, anywhere he could find them.  Real words written all over pages.  At night we’d go up to bed and find letters he left us on our pillows filled with random words like, “rat, acts, timothy, cat, hi….” and then his precious “signature” in which he’d write his name in all caps and a backwards 4 after it.  Every single time he wrote his name he would write a backwards 4 after it b/c of course he was 4.

He loved to drink coffee.  His favorite errand to run was Trader Joes where we would always stop by the coffee sample and I’d give him a little cup with half coffee, half cream and sugar.IMG_0081

His love language is gifts.  If I would buy food at the grocery store that he liked or even household goods like a new toothbrush he would be so excited, “Thank you Mommy for buying watermelon.  You really love me.  Thank you so much for these pickles.”

He doesn’t know he is little.  In his head he is just as big as his older siblings and often takes on life like that.   He’s not afraid to go hard and aggressive at jiu jitsu or soccer b/c he is used to competing with the older kids and because in his head he is the same size as the older kids. 

He is my snuggle bug.  He still loves to be carried or held and even though he is 40+ pounds and almost 5 I would still carry him from time to time b/c he is my baby and I know one day he will be too big.  Sometimes when I would complain that he was too heavy for me to keep carrying, he’d say, “But mom you exercise and do fight fit to get strong so you can carry me.”

He loves to make silly faces.  Silly poses are his most favorite whenever we have to take pictures. He loves to make people laugh and often does things just for the joke.  He is a performer. IMG_6595

He loves animals.  All animals.  Farm animals, zoo animals, dogs, cats….  He loves to greet them and kiss them and hug them.


He also loves his stuffed animals.  And he takes them with him, sleeps with them, and truly thinks of them like real animals.  He will miss them when we are out and about.  “I hope my stuffed animals are ok.  I think they are crying for me.”


4 was pretty awesome.  And I truly enjoyed life with my youngest at age 4.  Here’s to a new year… to turning five and enjoying life on the top bunk, learning to read, and ride a bike with no training wheels.  I hope and pray that in this next year he grows closer to the Lord.  I look forward to seeing him grow more and more into the boy God has made him to be.  IMG_0752