The Real Reason I Take the Kids to the Park

Almost everyday, weather permitting, I take the kids to the park in the morning. They have a blast and work on running out some of that bundled up energy AND it makes me look like the coolest mom ever- Rock Star Mom.

July 2013 Stroll in the Park 024

But truthfully, there are “alternative reasons” why we are at the park.

1. It gives me space from the kids. They are not right under my feet whining or complaining about something to do or being bored.

The bonus for me: I sit in the sun and relax. I read, write, or plan out my week. I take time to just RELAX a little.

kids at park

2. My main goal is to wear them out so when nap time/quiet times rolls around they are actually asleep or quiet.

The bonus for me: I get time to fold laundry, do the dishes, sweep the floors. But seriously, who am I kidding. I catch up on my new show, Pretty Little Liars, or I take a nap also. I spend that peaceful time doing what I want to do.

End of July 2013 001

There are so many things I SHOULD be doing…and I will get to them. Right now it is important I do things with the kids, like taking them to the park.

You know, it kind of sounds like I really don’t do anything with them. But we do all kinds of stuff. I’m with them every day and all day. These are just some of the ways I find time for myself amidst all of the chaos.

A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

How do you squeeze in time for you?

Wake Up! Let’s Go to the Park.

Before I was even all the way awake this morning I was thinking of a way to get out of the house and procrastinate some chores.

Who else might possibly be awake this early with kids? So I texted Brandi, my partner in crime with things to do with the kids.

Me: Wake up! What are u doing today? I got a shit load of laundry and haven’t showered yet, but I think I’m gonna throw my hair in a pony tail and put on some clothes and take the kids to the park. Wanna go? Supposed to rain later. So we gotta hurry.

Brandi: Ur text just woke me up.

Me: Haha! Wake up. It’s nice out and prob not for long!

Me: I’m just jealous I can’t ever sleep in past 8.

Brandi: I don’t have any kids here. lol.

Me: How that happen?! Lucky!!

Brandi: I made it happen. lol.

Me: Can I borrow your magic wand for next weekend?

Brandi: My magic wand was a birthday party and my dad. lol.

Me: 😀

Me: So does that mean u don’t want to go to the park? haha

Brandi: Yes!

I would have loved some other adult company, but the kids and I made it anyway. It wasn’t too cold, considering that it is November in the midwest. But it was windy. We had a great time. I let them run loose and wild. AND I knew that they would take a good nap when we got home and I could probably get some “chores” done.


Sometimes you just gotta get up and go. Forget the weather forecast.  Forget the makeup. I can wash my hair later. With all these kids, if we don’t just go….we will never make it out the door. And I just wanted to get out before it rained on us. What a great morning! Love the spontaneity of it all. Those are usually the best times. 


My Sledding Experience: I Don’t Bounce Like I Used To

They say that as you get older you get wiser. I learned a lot today when we went sledding. I don’t know if I am any wiser, but I did learn that I don’t bounce like I used to.

When I was younger I had no fear. I would start at the top of the tallest hill, take a running leap and belly flop on the sled and go flying down the hill face first. We would weave in and out of trees. We even had double ramps and we always got plenty of air. And going back up the hill to do it again…no problem. And if we crashed, it wasn’t bad. We just shook it off and was ready to do it again.

But something happens to our bodies when we get older, at least mine anyway. When I crash, it hurts. I don’t know if it is because of age and I’m not as flexible as I used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m not as physically fit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy. I chase after four kids all the time. That is plenty of physical activity to keep me fit and trim. But when I crash now, it really does hurt. I go limping back up the hill, if I make it at all, trying not to think about how it looked to everybody else. And also knowing I’m going to be feeling this all week long. Dang, I’m just not as young as I used to be.  

Maybe it is also because we’re more cautious now that we are older. We take into consideration all of the variables that could happen before we go sledding down that hill or doing some other stupid daring trick. I mean, I don’t have time to have a broken leg or arm. I have too many other people to take care of to be down like that.

But most of the time, I do it anyway. I’m just not quite as a daredevil as I used to be. This time there were no trees to steer between.

It all began when I was at the bottom of the hill watching the kids sled down. I was cheering for them and making sure they didn’t go too far and hit any obstacles. It looked like so much fun and eventually I was at the top of the hill sending the kids down to Brad. The extra sled was laying there, tempting me. Childhood sledding memories flew in like snowflakes and the reasoning part of my brain was frost-bitten and not working at that moment, I guess. I’m going down, I decided.

Now, I am smart enough that I didn’t start at the top of the hill. I started half way down. I don’t think it would have mattered where I started, crashing is always hard. I flew down the snowy hill and felt the rush of adrenaline. The next thing I knew, my face was in the snow and my hat flew off. I don’t know if I did a backwards somersault or just flopped over like a beached whale. Whatever it looked like I know it wasn’t graceful. But it did hurt. I just don’t bounce like I used to.

You know, I have always wanted to be the mom who participates in activities with their kids. I want to sled down the hill with them. I would probably even have a lapse of forgetfulness and try that ramp at the skatepark. But I try to remember to take it easy. There are some things I just can’t do like I used to. I can still play baseball, though!  

I took it easy the rest of the day with our winter play. I was cautious. I didn’t do any more sledding. Instead I flung my kids down the hill as fast as I could so I could relive those childhood memories somehow. Hearing their giggles and laughter, seeing their rosy cheeks, and watching them crash was more than enough enjoyment for me.

We had a great time. We even made a baby snowman.

Do you still go sledding with your kids? Or do you cheer from the sidelines? I would love to hear your sledding adventures.


My Trip to Sherlon Alpaca Farm

September 5, 2011  Monday

I was so lazy this morning. I didn’t want to get off the couch. I just wanted to snuggle my afghan and watch the kids crawl around on the floor like ants.

I planned on not answering the phone and zoning out to the Pickers marathon on the History Channel. But I am one of those people who can’t ignore the phone, so when it started ringing I answered it. I’m glad I did.

It was Aunt Terrry, “Can you get out for a while? We are going to go on a road trip. I need to get this Alpaca yarn and you can see the butts of the Alpacas that the yarn came from,” and on and on she went. “It’s amazing out there. You will have so much fun and Sheri is so nice.”  

“I don’t really feel good,” I said. I just didn’t want to do anything. But the more she went on the more interested I became.

“She makes her own yarn from the Alpacas?” I asked. I read about this once. I tried to talk Brad’s mom into getting Alpacas so I could learn to spin my own yarn, sell it, and make lots of hats and scarves with it. This is when I had time on my hands last year. Complete bedrest gave me all kinds of crazy ideas, with the help of Google, of course. “Okay. I will probably feel better if I get my butt up and around. When do you want to pick me up?”

We pulled up into the driveway. Moss roses covered a corner of rocky landscaping along with other beautiful flowers and shrubs. There was a cool country breeze blowing the long grass and wild flowers in the fields. It reminded that fall is soon on its way. I was glad I brought a sweater.

I didn’t think I was going to fall in love with these crazy looking creatures. The more time you spend with them you realize how sweet and special each one is. They were a little timid at first. Once I started to feed them they warmed right up.

This sign is so true!

I mean seriously, who can not love faces like these?

Sheri, the owner, was a wealth of information. She told me so much about Alpacas. Watch the video below, it is my favorite piece of information. Ladies, you will know what I mean.

Skeins of Alpaca yarn, gloves, and socks lay on her kitchen table. I ran my fingers through the soft yarn, thinking of all the things I could crochet, if only I had the time. I really want to buy one of her bags and a pair of the super soft socks and I might as well add a pair of gloves in there, too. Oh, and a hat! All of her items are so soft and beautiful. They are well made, also. And if you met these sweet Alpacas you would not be able to say no. You would just be thanking each of them for their super soft coat that goes into making all of these goodies.

I had such a wonderful time. I am so glad I got to meet Sheri and her Alpacas. You can contact her at for information or to buy her Alpaca goods.


Below are lots and lots of pictures of our day. Thanks again Aunt Terry for getting my butt of the couch and getting me out of the house. You just never know where a road trip will take you.

Alpaca love

Are We There Yet?

Day 1:  July 8, 2011

The bachelor buttons dotted the edge of the highway and the Queen Anne’s Lace lazily swayed in the wind, waving her good byes as we sped past on Highway 67. I followed the boys in the Intrepid and the girls and I were in my car, the back-end piled to the ceiling with camping gear, baby bouncers, and walkers, and just about everything else. The twins were fast asleep and the morning’s fresh air and solitude engulfed me as I pushed play to listen to Neil Gaiman tell me a story (I love audio books). The day couldn’t be more perfect, sunshine and clovers on an old highway and my favorite author reading to me.

The peacefulness only lasted about half way there. Mallie started crying, Elsie started screaming. There was nowhere to pull over. I called the boys on the cell phone, “Pull over when we get a chance. The babies are hungry.” It seemed to be an eternity before there was a spot to pull over. And just to let you know, it feels like torture having to hear my babies cry and there is nothing I can do about it for the moment. I talked and tried to soothe them, “Don’t worry baby girls. We’re almost there. Mommy make you a nice big bottle. It’s alright. Shhh…” and so on. It didn’t phase them, but it made me feel a little better. And man, I am one of the fastest bottle makers in the midwest. Brad said, “Hurry up, the train is coming,” and I mixed those bottles so fast and we beat the train. After 20 minutes of baby tears, I just wanted to get there. The scenery changed from farms to forests and we sped along the highway at 55 mph leaving a screaming wake behind us.

The trees seemed to be getting greener and the forest thicker, I could tell we were almost there. “Eight miles left,” I called back to the twins. “We’re going over Panther Creek,” and “I think we are almost there. I bet you it’s around this corner. I know I said that about the last curve, but I have a feeling about this one.” It was only a three-hour drive, but I like to talk. Soon enough they will start answering me.

As we pulled away from the park office a tall statue of Yogi Bear greeted us with sun gleaming off of him in every direction, he is the star of the park. Pansies, petunias, and geraniums lay at his feet and the shady green trees swayed their welcoming arms. Ferns and moss lined the little white bridge and ornamental rocks were tucked in by the hostas and Impatients. We finally made it and I couldn’t wait to get the crying babies out of the car. The first couple of hours weren’t bad for them, they slept and played. But that last hour was hell for me and them.

We followed the wooden signs along the dusty road looking for campsite 420, number 3. It was like stepping into another world after we entered the gate; RV’s, tents, cute wooden cabins that look like they should be on the front of a syrup bottle, a fish weighing station, and lots of playgrounds. I could tell we were going to have a great time.

“Amanda! Hey guys! Come here. You got to check this out,” Brad and Taigyn yelled from the cabin window. I was already impressed with the quaint cabin and nice little porch and cement patio, but the boys absolutely loved the bunk beds stacked three high. They were up the ladders like monkeys and claiming their sleeping spots, even though the older boys were sleeping in the tent part of the time.

The boys unloaded the cars in assembly line fashion and I organized the cabin as quick as they were bringing the bags and boxes to me. The girls were much happier to be in their bouncer and walker. They even welcomed the playpen, anything to get out of the car seats. I think Collin was in disbelief over all of the space and new wondering places to explore. He was off and running toward the lake first thing. “Get back here. You can’t go in without us!”

It took no time at all to get unloaded, organized, and the tent up. The older boys rented a paddle boat and checked out the lake. They already looked sun burnt as the peddled by me on the lake, waving and yelling.

Yogi even visited us at our cabin.

So much to do…I couldn’t wait to get to the beach and swim.

More to come. Bye for now.


***Note: not all the pictures are in order. They are just some of my favorites.***

Packing for Vacation: The Beginning

Oh, vacation…how I love thee. Oh, vacation…you can exhaust me. It was fun, but I’m trying to get the house back together now. Laundry and blankets and sheets and clothes and everything else for 8 people…the laundry pile looks like Mt. Everest trying to eat my washer and dryer.

It was a really nice place, though. It wasn’t a sunny beach or a tropical island, although I could really use a tropical drink with some vodka right about now. We went camping at Pine Lakes Resort. Five fun-filled days of the great outdoors. It was a good time. No TV, no Internet, and I only checked my cell phone in the morning and evening for emergencies. It was nice, minus the flies and mosquitos. I didn’t miss television, but I did miss blogging. I did a lot of writing, so my next posts about vacation were actually written sometime between July 7-12. And of course, there will be lots of pics soon. 🙂

July 7, 2011  Packing for Vacation: The Beginning 

Our camping reservations were made months ago. I just started thinking about everything we would need a couple of days before we left.  I wanted to start packing a week ago, but that is kind of hard when you use the items daily. So I knew it was going to be an all nighter/marathon packing event.

I started a list of necessities on a small notebook that sat next to my purse. Whenever I would think of something I wanted to remember to bring I would add it to the list (as long as I could find the list, things get lost in that area with all the clutter, honestly). The short reminder list turned into a long list (picture a scroll unwinding down an endless staircase) to basically the whole house needing to be shoved, crammed, rolled, squeezed, and folded into bags and boxes. Who knew you needed so much for camping! 😉 We needed laundry soap for the babies clothes because they can get gross pretty quick with spit up, baseball hats to keep the sun off my boys’ shaved heads, cereal bowls, plastic silverware, sheets, blankets, bottles, baby food, among many many other things. The items were scribbled and printed and written in every which direction and in many colors of ink and even crayon. And when I ran out of room I wrote sideways, upside down, and every which way in the margins. It was a cluttered mess, but I found what I needed and crossed the items off one by one as I packed them away the night before we were to leave.

“Is this going to be enough towels for 8 people?” I wondered out loud. “Did I overpack?” It did start to feel like I was packing everything except the kitchen sink. But there was nothing there, so I knew we needed these things. But when is enough enough? How many blankets do you really need? But I don’t want to be cold. We are gonna pack the electric griddle so I can make pancakes, better grab the mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc… And maybe I might make bacon, better grab the tongs. Maybe I should grab an extra spatula. I think I will throw in the pizza cutter too, why not? You never know! This kind of self questioning went into every item I threw into the bags or boxes. I always had an excuse why I really needed it.

In the meantime…

The kids tore through the house with a toddler and two dogs trailing right behind them. The babies giggled in their seats as I talked to them. I also talked to myself… and I love talking into thin air. “I wonder how many pots and pans should I bring?” and “Better grab some seasonings for the burgers…and  pot holders.”

Obviously, I didn’t need all of this and a lot of it stayed packed up most of the trip. There were a few things I forgot though, like a can opener, foil, and baggies.  Oh, well. We managed. It  was fun…and a ton of work, especially with all the babies. We made lots of memories, though. They wont remember, but I will.

Stay tuned…the rest of the vacation will eventually find itself on here. I’m still in tired vacation mode.


Sunday at the Farm

Packing up to go anywhere can be difficult. I feel like I am packing for a week’s vacation just to go out for the day; diapers for both babies and Collin (can’t wait till he’s potty trained), wipes, formula, bottles, extra clothes just in case, burp rags, blankets, bibs, etc…and then I do a head count to make sure I have everyone. Then one last head count before I back out of the driveway…and I run the list through my head…hmmmm….what am I forgetting? “Bradley, did we let the dog inside?”  But once we are on the way I am not turning around, unless it’s for the dog.

We had a great time Sunday at the farm and all of the packing was well worth it. Spending time with Grandma Chris and Grandpa John, goat, horse, chickens, four wheeling, catching tadpoles and frogs, and the list goes on.

I will let the pictures and videos tell the story.

Twisted Sister (chicken) & Jasper (pony)


Collin needs no toys…he can entertain himself with just a cup. lol

And last….all the frogs the kids caught.

Thanks for reading and watching. I will be posting more of the pics on facebook soon.


Ode to Morel Mushrooms: Mysterious Fungi

 There are many myths and old wife’s tales on how to find Morel Mushrooms. Some people say there is a science to finding them when the season comes. Some people say there is a special way to hunt for these tasty morsels. Some wont say a thing; it’s a secret on how to find them or where to look. These people keep their lips sealed in silence and slip through the weeds and thorns to find this mysterious fungi. 

I do not know the exact science of finding these mushrooms, nor do I claim to know all the tricks of the trade. I do know you need springy days of strolling through the woods and a sharp shooter’s eye.

You just never know where they may pop up.

When the sun is shining through bare branches and budding trees,

and blossoms burst through the forest,

 it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

After spring showers and muddy shoes,

and dogwoods and daffodils dance wildly in the breeze,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When you wade through Mayflowers and mossy ferns,

as you rifle through leafy litter of last fall,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When the weekly weather forecast climbs into the 70’s,

and you are counting the days after the last rainfall,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When you are scouring the woods for dead elms,

and checking around rotting stumps and decaying logs,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When you find yourself reciting instructions on how to find these camouflaged fungi and are lost in the woods with no compass…

and your eyes are popping out of your head and you have an empty sack blowing in the wind…

and your feet are soggy for not paying attention and stepping in that creek and cocker burrs are clinging to your sweatshirt…

It definitely is Morel Mushroom time!

Keep looking. You never know where they might pop up.

I only found two little baby ones last weekend. It was still a little chilly.

But I did find two cute boys.

I did have great company mushroom hunting, but we didn’t cover much ground, which is probably why we only found two. Oh well, next time. It was also hard carrying Collin through the woods on my hip and dodging thorny bushes.

I did find 6 four-leaf clovers though! As I walked out of the woods I set Collin down for a little rest…and just happened to set him down in the middle of a four-leaf clover path. What luck!

Can you share any of your secrets? Where is the strangest place you found mushrooms? What is the largest one you found?

Happy Hunting!


Easter: Part One

It has been very quiet on my lil’ blog lately, as well as home. So quiet that you could hear the robins chirp and the squirrels chatter through my dusty and dirty windows that are whining to be opened for a spring breeze. Except for Easter… that was a very busy day! That is why I will have several parts to my Easter posts, one for each place we went or event. That is also why it has taken me so long to get back to my blog, I had to recuperate.

It was the night before Easter, and all through the house,

many people were stirring, coloring, and dying

Easter bunny eggs.

It was crazy and chaotic,

It was a hustle and a bustle,

 to dye all these eggs.

A plop and a drizzle,

stir the orange and please pass the green…

The dinosaur egg.

I think I ate too many cupcakes and jellybeans.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday!
Below are more pics 🙂

My favorite way to color eggs is coloring crayons and food coloring. What is yours? Do you have a favorite method or kit?

Farm Pictures and Childhood Memories

I took these farm pics the weekend before last. It is just a pain to get them off of my phone. (I don’t have a smart phone).

These cuties follow each other around everywhere. It is so adorable.

The boys love it out on Grandma Chris and Grandpa John’s farm. All kinds of animals from feathers to fur. They feed, pet, and chase them, and occassionaly get chased.

Wide open space to run and big hills to roll down. The fresh air and dirt help wear them out and they are always sure to sleep well. Good ol’ days on the farm.

Here are some of my favorite pics.

Bradley found some eggs in the hen-house. But oops, he accidentally dropped one.

Bradley wishing he had more bread to feed the chickens. The red rooster kept trying to sneak up behind him and peck his legs. More food would help alleviate that problem.

There is that pesky red rooster again. He didn't really bother Collin too much. He was just around. But he tried to bully poor Bradley.

And we can’t wait to meet the newest addition to the farm.

All of these pics remind me of my childhood. My Grandma Jean lived on a farm. I loved tossing a handful of chicken feed around the pen and watching it scatter in the dirt. The hens would kick up plenty of dust to get to that one kernel first, even though there were hundreds of little kernels splayed across the yard. Feeding the chickens made me feel just like Dorothy on Wizard of Oz, minus the apron and cool shoes. Sharp beaks would peck at the ground and follow me around, bawking for more. I loved ducking into the old hen house, looking for eggs in the big comfy hay nests.  Some days you could fill a basket full. I never could eat those fresh brown eggs though. Yuck.

And of course, with every chicken coop there is a mean rooster. My grandma’s rooster was  mean as hell, but regal. He was dark brown, almost black, and when the sun hit just right his chest was a majestic emerald and he would perch on that fence post like he was a king. He would also chase us. Man, he was as fast as the road runner. My sister,Jessica, and my cousin, Ryan, and I would run away from that rooster as fast as our legs would take us. And then we would giggle so hard out of terror and fear and  collapse from exhaustion. It was also a relief we made it away from the pointy beak and razor talons because he got us a couple good ones now and then, and it hurt like you wouldn’t believe. It never helped that we teased the ol’ king, either.

And you had to be alert on that farm, because that damn rooster would wait until you were alone and hide around a corner to bombard you. It would also hide in the corner of the barn for a sneak attack. Man, he scared the crap out of us more times than I can count. We would just about pee our pants and pitch a roller coaster scream as we would go running wildly to grandma. “The rooster,” we would pant, “is after us,” we would say between gasping breaths. Grandma, such a good grandma, knew that it was never our fault. Always the damn roosters fault. hee hee!

My grandma’s farm also had sheep that would try to ram you off the tire swing, which we knew would seriously hurt, severely injure us, cause death, or possibly land us on the moon. The herd of sheep would sneak up on us also, just like the ol’ king rooster. Either we were really unobservant children or just didn’t care, I don’t quite remember. But it was always a pain when you wanted to play on the tire swing. You had to wait and wait until the sheep were way out in the fields. You could try to shoo them away, they ignored us. Try to pet them, they ignored us. They were not very entertaining.

One day they must have come in early. We didn’t see them. The only thing I do remember is screaming and scrambling up the wooden fence as a large male came running at us full force, head first. It was never this bad, with the whole herd right behind him, and we knew it was serious. We practically flew over the fence in extreme fear and panic, except my sister was still on the swing. Why was she still on the swing? Why didn’t she jump off? I had no clue how to save her. Ryan and I held on the fence, screaming for help. Jessica was holding onto that splintery rope so tight her hands could have turned into porcupines with all the splinters sticking out. And when you have a ram bearing down at you full speed, I’m sure your life flashes before your eyes.

 Before anything could be done the ram head butted the tire swing and my sister went flying. She hung on for dear life, almost turning upside down with the force of the blow. Then the one right after it rammed the tire swing again. By this time she was half way up the rope and would pull her bony knees to her chest for each blow. I wanted to cry. I wished I could save her. No matter how much she annoyed me, I didn’t want to see her sent to the moon. 

The whole herd seemed to be lined up, some coming towards us on the fence. It was like some sort of animal vs. kids standoff. We screamed and  prayed that Grandma would hear all the screaming to come save us. I should rephrase that. She always hears us, but I can hear her now as she loops her yarn around her crochet hook, “Ed, do you hear those kids? What do you suppose they are doing? There is an awful lot of screaming.” And Grandpa would say, “Well I don’t know, Jeanie baby,” as he reaches for the salt shaker out of his breast pocket to sprinkle on his beer. If we screamed and hollered long enough someone would save us…and there were no neighbors, so sometimes it took my grandparents awhile. Don’t worry, she made it out alive. We were all a little shaken, but for the most part I was just glad to have my sister in one piece, no matter how much I played it off that I didn’t like her.

We laugh about it now… and she always points out that we did nothing to help her, but left her for the rams. It always brings a good laugh.

Winding country roads, wagon rides, dirty toes, tornadoes, and ice cream cones…oh, the memories. Makes me smile.

My kids will be creating some of their own, hopefully with dirty toes too.