Tag Archives: daughters

Father and Son Campout is just the beginning!


Whew, what a week!

I really didn’t think we would pull it together, but miraculously we did.

This was the final week of school and everyone was pushing to finish strong.

In the midst of final exams, appointments, work, and picnics, we had to prepare for the week ahead.

The result: piles and piles of packing.

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We are headed to the ocean for some much-needed beach therapy. When we scheduled this trip, we had no idea it would follow on the heels of such a traumatic week. But now it is all the more appreciated and eagerly anticipated. This Momma needs nothing more than the crash of waves on my feet and the sun on my face to do a little healing.

But as of Tuesday morning, I had no idea if this trip was going to happen. At that point Ozzie was still hospitalized and we weren’t sure when he’d be cleared as safe to come home by Saturday. By the end of the week we received news that he’d be released Friday afternoon, just in time for all the graduation festivities/vacation plans to begin.

In the meantime, I kept making piles, hoping it would all would work out.

The packing for this trip was especially laborious as it is multiple vacations crammed into one.

We had to pack for the beach with all the clothes, towels, sand toys, food for the week, board games, fishing supplies, balls, kites and day to day living gear that would be needed.

We are piggy backing this trip to the shore on top of our real reason for heading east: Gracie’s graduation ceremony…

Which meant another pile with church outfits, dress shoes, jewelry and Gracie’s speech for graduation.

Then we had our pile of school books and supplies for four kids to return to the school since it is the end of the year.

On the Friday prior to graduation Grace will be attending prom, which meant a prom pile of dress, shoes, make-up, hair supplies, and her masquerade mask.

The kids will also be spending a day at their school painting a wall mural with the other mural club students, which meant yet another pile filled with paintbrushes, painting clothes, paints and a gift for their mural club teacher.

Then we had lists and piles of animal supplies to leave for our house sitter, and Olive’s packed bag for her stay at the kennel.

I just kept creating piles as I thought of things, hoping and praying we didn’t forget anything important (i.e.: the boys’ pills!)

Once we were done packing for next week’s excursions then we began packing for Friday night’s adventures.

Friday night was the annual “Father and Sons” campout with the other men at church. This is an event that my boys eagerly anticipate each spring. The girls also look forward to it as it means a girls’ night out with no boys!

By Friday evening all our packing was done, the van was loaded for the next morning. Camping gear was loaded into Toby’s truck. Tyler’s soccer treat bags were packed (Yes, we also had treat duty for Tyler’s last soccer game on Saturday morning) and we were finally ready to relax and enjoy a fun boys’ night/ girls’ night out.

Toby and the little boys headed out around 5:30pm to drive to Camp Agawam, where the campout was being held. All three boys were excited. Toby was, well…a good sport. 😉

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Their evening was spent hanging out around the fire. Playing Navy and Pirates at the epic wooden pirate ship at the camp, and sleeping (or not sleeping) in a tent.


In the morning, they woke early (Tyler was up at 5:30 am) and had a pancake breakfast with the other campers before heading home.

The girls and I had an extra special evening planned. For Mother’s Day the girls gifted me with a gift certificate to get a manicure with them. We decided to wait until the “Father and Son” campout to schedule our nail appointment so that we could make it an entire mother/daughter evening. I was so excited. It’s been probably a decade since I had my nails done professionally. I was looking forward to some pampering and spoiling, but most of all I was just excited to get an evening with my two girls.

What a blessing my daughters are to me. I don’t know how I would manage without them. Not only do the constantly and unselfishly try to lighten my burdens through selfless service, but they fill my parenting love tank when it is empty and dry. They see my weariness without me having to express a thing and work tirelessly to make sure I know I am loved and appreciated…particularly during those long stretches when little brother is solely focused on hurting and tearing down.

I desperately needed loving care and my girls provided it in a way only daughters can.

We left for our nail appointment as the boys were leaving for camping. Grace had arranged everything.

We arrived and had fun choosing from the hundreds of nail polish shades. I found myself drawn to the beautiful fall shades of orange and rust, but forced myself to pick something fun and summery. So, I went with a hot pink instead.

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We were called back one at a time. The experience was decadent. I would pay for the experience again just for the hand massage. It was lovely!

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Grace ended up with beautiful periwinkle blue nails, to coordinate with her prom gown and graduation dress. Molly picked her favorite color of salmon pink, and I did a funky, textured, hot pink polish that felt very fun and sassy…two traits that have been noticeably absent from my life these last few months. 😊

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Following our appointments, we went shopping for craft supplies. We were planning on crafting while watching shows in our PJs later, and needed some supplies for the projects we were working on.

Then it was time for a late dinner. As is our annual tradition when the boys go to Father/Son campout, we go out for a sit-down dinner. By the time we were done shopping it was 9:30 pm so we decided to keep it close and easy and go to Applebee’s. Little did we know it was graduation evening for a few local high schools and the place was packed with graduates and their celebrating families. Despite the crowds and slower than normal service, we had a blast. It was so much fun to sit and visit and enjoy a leisurely dinner with my girls.

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We were home at 11:00 pm, put on our PJs, got out our craft supplies and put on the new Netflix remake of Anne of Green Gables, “Anne with an ‘E’”.

We crafted, did face masks, talked, and walked with Anne through episode #1`, finally crashing at 1:30 am.

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It was a practically perfect evening.

The next morning the boys arrived home by 8:30 am. We ran Olive to the kennel, prepared things for the house sitter, packed last-minute items and filled the cooler, changed Tyler into his soccer uniform and headed to his game.

It was a good final game. Tyler played well and had fun, which is what really matters.

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By noon they had won the game, Tyler handed out his snacks, and we were on the road!

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Sand, Surf, and Sun…Here we come!

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Father/Son Campout and Girls’ Night Out


Friday evening, after a fun day in Punxsutawney, it was the boys’ annual Father/Son Campout with the other men from church. The boys look forward to this every year and Toby has been going with his sons since Rusty was two years old. There was some debate as to whether it was worth going since there was rain in the forecast.

Last year they went and the rain made for a less than ideal camping experience.

But the boys begged, and Toby gave in…

although he did take the trailer rather than the tent just in case they were in for another rainy night


But lo and behold the sun came out, along with a beautiful rainbow, and they had a wonderful time!

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Meanwhile the girls and I had a few fun things of our own planned. Since the first year Toby took Rusty to the annual Father/Son campout, the girls eagerly look forward to our annual “no boys at home” night. When they were little this meant happy meals and watching movies in Mommy’s bed. As they have grown older “Girl’s Night” has evolved into dinner out and makeovers.

For the last few years we have taken advantage of the Father/Son Campout occurring a week or two prior to Spring Formal and have used the night to go dress shopping.

When the boys left we left as well

to go shopping!

For the past few years our first stop has always been the thrift store to see if we can find a used semi-formal dress that meets the modesty standards we expect. The last few years we lucked out. This year, however, we had to shop new and we ended up at the mall.


We began by hitting the four major department stores but quickly found their selection to be unsuitable. We were looking for dresses that were at least knee length and covered their shoulders. We were shocked by how few met that criteria. We were quickly becoming discouraged when we stumbled across a hidden gem in J.C Penny. In the far corner of the women’s department we found a treasure trove of suitable dresses to pick from. The girls loaded up their arms with possible choices and headed to the dressing room to try them on.

We didn’t have a lot of time. The store was closing in 20 minutes so they had to try things on quickly.

But we found a dress for each of them that they both loved. The perk was that they both were perfect fits and already modest, so we didn’t have to worry about alterations or extras.

And the cherry on top…

They were 50% off! Yea!!


After we were done shopping we headed over to Panera Bread for a late dinner. We got there just before closing so we had the place to ourselves.

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Then we drove home to enjoy a night of snack foods, face masks, and pedicures while we watched the movie, Unbroken. It was a great movie with a great message, which led to a great discussion with my girls. It was a perfect night and so nice to have that special one on one time with my sweet girls. How blessed I feel to have daughters!

The next day the boys arrived home early. Tyler had a soccer game and Toby had a metal detecting hunt. Toby is a member of the Beaver County Metal Detecting Club. They get together monthly for meetings and to hunt together, but twice a year they have a formal hunt. The club purchases silver coins and prizes to win, in addition to all the coins that are buried to be found. The hunt lasts for hours, as the club members search a roped off area where the coins are buried. Toby looks forward to these hunts.

This past Saturday he had a particularly successful hunt. Here are his findings for the day and some of the prizes he won.


While Toby was “hunting,” and I was at soccer with the boys, Gracie had a job of her own. She was hired by a family at church to be the photographer for their sons’ birthday party. They wanted to be able to enjoy their special day with their sons and their guests and not worry about pictures, so they offered Grace the job of coming and taking pictures at the party. Grace was thrilled! She has been wanting to open the door to this sort of experience, and I thought it was a brilliant idea on the mom’s part. I wish I would have thought of it when my kids were little! 🙂

Grace had a blast and hopes for more opportunities like it in the future!


“Say Cheese!”

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”


It has been said that:

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” – Uchtdorf

Others would argue that they are NOT creative, that there is not a creative bone in their body, or that the talent of creativity was not one that they were born or blessed with.

But I disagree.

I believe that within each of us there is a hidden desire to create, to build, to design or discover that hidden spark within ourselves. I believe when we pursue a creative outlet…

 Whether through painting, baking, photography, sewing, singing, interior design, drawing, gardening, writing, mothering, serving, loving…

we flame that small, quiet spark within and the flames of passion burst forth…

and our soul then whispers, “Yes, this is how I ought to feel!”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said:

“You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and don’t require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano.

Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before- colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of the critics paralyze you- whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”

On Monday we flamed those creative sparks and we created!

There is a group of girlfriends I get together with regularly to make cards with. On of the ladies in our group sells “Stampin’ Up” products and teaches our card making class. Another friend in our group is a minister’s wife and she opens the doors of her church to us monthly so that we can gather together. It is one of the highlights of my month. Everyone brings food and we enjoy a few hours of eating, laughing, sharing and creating together.

This month rather than make cards our project was a perpetual birthday calendar.


Earlier this month my girls came to me and asked if in lieu of birthday parties they could have a painting party with their friends. They thought it would be fun to get their co-op buddies together and do a Bob Ross painting class together. We embraced the idea and started planning…

Then the winter weather hit. Snow storms and deep freezes left our driveway impassable so it was suggested that we move the party to the same night as the card night and just set up the girls in another section of the church. Perfect!

The preparation for the party began weeks before hand as we scoured the internet looking for great deals on canvases, brushes and oil paint sets.


The girls wanted to make goody bags for their friends. In addition to the purchased painting items they decided to make all the girls painting swatch bookmarks,


and paintbrush treats, using rice krispie treats dipped in colored chocolate.


The day before the party we went shopping for food. The girls wanted “art gallery” food for their party so we bought sparkling grape juice, cheese and crackers, fruit, and chip and dip. This food was set up near their class so they could munch while they painted, although they also joined us downstairs and had soups and bread with us (moms) for dinner.


When we arrived I helped the girls get set up before joining my class downstairs. We covered everything in paint tarps and the Bob Ross video was projected on the wall.


The girls had a blast. We could hear them laughing from downstairs. The sound of their laughter and the smell of their paint thinner carried through the church. 🙂





At the end of the night, as we were finishing up our craft, the girls came down to show off their finished products. It was so neat to see how the same art instruction video could result in such different final paintings.


After cleaning up, and saying our goodbyes, we headed home. The girls enthusiastically shared about everything that had happened . When I asked Molly which final painting she liked best she answered,

“Well I don’t know. I like them all for such different reasons. Some I liked because of the colors used, others I liked how the trees turned out, and others I really liked because of the texture. I don’t think I could pick just one because they all had things about them that made them really good!”

I suppose like all creative pursuits there is no ONE right way.

As Bob Ross so often says, “Any way you want it to be, that’s just right.”

The night was about creating. We created useful, and pretty calendars. We created unique and beautiful paintings.

But we also created a lot more…

We strengthened friendships, we made memories, we encouraged creativity, and we taught our girls that the most magical days often end with the dirtiest clothes. 🙂

Spring Formal



“Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change a girl’s life.”

Friday was the Spring Formal church dance. Grace attended last year with her friend, Olivia, and had a blast. She was eagerly looking forward to attending again.  This year Molly was old enough to attend as well so on Friday the girls prepared for a fun night of friends, food, and dancing.

Gracie’s friend, Olivia,  came over early so that the girls could get ready together. Olivia’s sister also came over to play dress-up even though she wasn’t old enough to attend the dance this year.


Wanting to make it special, Olivia’s mom and I  prepared “spa food.” We had fruit, sparkling cider, cheese and crackers and cucumber sandwiches for the girls to enjoy while we did make-overs and curled hair.


Miss Lana also made each of the girls a “Dance Survival Kit” to take to Spring Formal.


After they were all ready to go we did a mini “photo shoot.” They girls all looked beautiful. The fun the girls had dolling up and getting their pictures taken proved that Kate Spade was right when she said:

“Playing dress-up begins at age five and never truly ends.”



Best Buddies



Whatever you do, don’t call Gracie “short!” 🙂


Sister giggles



Gracie’s flowing, floor length dress made her look like she stepped off the set of  Downton Abbey.


Miss Molly


It was time for the dance!

After we were done with photos it was time to drive to the dance. It was being held at the Twentieth Century Club in downtown Pittsburgh. The Twentieth Century Club is a beautiful, turn of the century building that made for a magical venue to hold Spring Formal. After parking we quickly met up with kids from church and made our way into the dance. The girls found a table to drop their purse and supplies at and headed onto the dance floor where they enjoyed three hours of dancing with old friends they knew and new friends they made.


Keeping their heels, heads and standards high!


A beautiful night!



Yes, Molly, I will be showing this photo to your father..



These beauties prove that…

“Being yourself is the prettiest thing you can be.”


The dance was fun but now is done.

It is midnight, Cinderella… time to go home. 🙂