Fun Facts Friday!!

It’s FRIDAY!!!

So cliche to say it, but it seems like three months ago that we were at Family Camp, and this week has gone SO fast!

My prayer at the end of my quiet and prayer time every morning is that I would use the day that the Lord has blessed me with wisely, and redeem the time He has given me with the burdens that He has placed upon my heart!

It is crazy, crazy busy here most days….so I hope and pray that I am doing just that in the midst of this busy season! I know He hears my prayers and knows the desire of my heart!

When we were planning our packing for Family Camp, I got this idea to use a cleaning caddy to carry things back and forth from the RV to the sessions.

It really worked well! So I thought I would share that idea with you all! Just in case you are ever living in an RV for a week! Just kidding, because you really could use a caddy in a lot of other scenarios too!

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I learned some AMAZING laundry hacks at camp this year! Laundry is just one of those things you never finish right? Please tell me you all never finish your laundry either! Since Eliza and Tate have been home, I really struggle to get to the laundry room and to get anywhere on what is suppose to be going on in there!

Since Addie Mae is working part-time now, she has blessed me beyond measure and offered to be my full-time laundry gal. I KNOW!! You can’t have her! I am going to still keep Chad and Lane doing their laundry chores of washing towels and cleaning rags though, because it is a skill I want them to have.

During a women’s session at camp, the dot system was shared. I have heard of this system before, but did not need it last time I did. You mark your boys/girls clothes with a black dot with a permanent marker based on their birth order. I just need this for Grant and Chad’s clothes. They are in the same size and it is difficult to remember whose clothes are whose. Since Grant is the oldest his clothes get one dot, and since Chad is next his clothes get two dots. If I had more boys clothes I wanted to mark, I would just add a dot for each child down the line in birth order.

This works well for hand-me-downs too, because if Grant hands something down to Chad, I would just add a dot to the one that was there to make it have two dots for Chad. Hope this is making sense!! I don’t think I will be handing anything of Grant’s down to Chad, but I still like how easy it would be to use this system to do so.

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Another laundry tip that was shared was about socks.

I DREAD white laundry. It usually sits clean in a basket way too many days.

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Someone mentioned using laundry bags for socks – which would mean no more matching socks. I was all in!! And bought all the laundry bags I could find on our date last Saturday night! I still need more, and plan to get them tonight.

So, we have one bag for each boy, with their initial written on it. Their socks are all SO similar, but are not the same. Everyone brings their dirty clothes to the laundry room before bed each night. Now, when the boys bring their dirty laundry to the laundry room, they put their dirty socks in their laundry bag. The bag will get zipped and washed with the whites, dried in the dryer, and then taken to the right boys drawer and dumped in. Can you see me dancing?!?

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Do you all make your own salad dressings? We do. I just don’t like all the extras that are in pre-made salad dressings. We have been in a salad dressing rut around here. I make ranch dressing weekly. It is the kid’s favorite. We needed to get out of this rut though! So I found some recipes. This apricot sweet and sour dressing was SO good! I have to be honest, the ingredients did not sound like they would be good together. But it will be a favorite one to make now too!

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Recipe:

1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano

I blended this with an stick immersion blender, but you could use a regular blender too. Add water to thin to desired consistency. Pour into a mason jar and store for up to one week in the fridge. I need to double this next time!

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I put this photo on IG the other day and got a lot of requests for a recipe! In 2012 we grew squash on our farm for Organic Valley and got to keep the seconds. We ate squash in every way possible! I will share some recipes here on the blog soon.

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I also shared some photos of Tate on IG this week when he got stung by a bee. My poor boy! I used Young Living’s essential oil owie blend and the swelling went out of his eye in just a few hours! Gotta love those oils.

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Last, but not least, let’s talk the weather. We are SO blessed. There has been some serious rain around these parts, flooding everywhere, and even mud slides that included a house that slid into the highway and killed the person inside. It was the highway we took to get to Family Camp just last week. Our farm is wet, like really wet with standing water everywhere. Our basement has a drainage tile system and a sump pump that has not been able to keep up as well. But we are safe. And made it to Madison and back yesterday for Tate’s appointment, even though we had to take a different way to get there and back. So much to be thankful for on another dreary, wet, rainy day!

This photo is of a small thin creek that runs through our town. It was almost to the road!

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I can’t wait to share Tate’s awesome report from the surgeon yesterday! But first I need to help my crew finish cleaning this big ole house and make a grocery list! And go and check the basement again! And drink some coffee, just to be honest!!

Hope you all are having a great week and will enjoy your weekend!!

HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!!

Family Camp Traditions

There are many things we can count on when we go to Family Camp each year!

I have already mentioned the amazing fellowship, the teaching, the blessing of others sharing their talents….

but there are a few other things that the kiddos look forward to the most.

One of them is called “The Mighty Mighty Scoop Noodle Challenge.”

And it is a HOOT.

Imagine a hundred or more children and some of their Moms and Dads on a football field playing a game like Capture the Flag on steroids. Really!

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There are two teams, red and blue, and it really just looks like complete chaos, but I guarantee that there is strategy, team work, running, sweating, and in the end one team is the winner!

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Right after I snapped this photo, my hubby said to me, “I am not going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow morning.” No sympathy here, honey, sorry!!

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Another much anticipated event are the boat races!

The whole week the guys were building their boats to get ready for the races.

And yes, the boats are made out of cardboard.

It is hilarious!

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We all headed to the lake on Wednesday afternoon to watch 30 some boats race across to the other side, a couple at a time.

Grant, Chad and Lane were on a team with some dear friends of ours, so Chad rode across with Sam, and Grant took Sam’s place on the way back across the lake.

They did not win, but were one of about ten boats to make it across and back! Good job, boys!!

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Here is Chad loading while Grant holds their boat!

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Go boys, go!!!!

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Here they are on their way back!!

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Wednesday was GORGEOUS! And summer like!

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Kayla visited again that afternoon, and I really enjoyed watching the littles all play together in the sand and water.

Tate and Eliza just LOVED being at the lake!!

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I love when Tate sits in his little Chinese squat!

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If you are a homeschooling family and have not considered a camp like this one, I would encourage you to look into it! It is such a blessing for the kiddos to be surrounded by other kiddos that are homeschooled too, and the fellowship and encouragement I received as a Mom of those kiddos was priceless! I love how Family Camp falls right at the start of a “new” school year, even though we really school year round for the most part. I come home fired up and ready to jump back into reality!!

Speaking of reality – can I just say camp laundry is the yuckiest biggest job?! I did sixteen loads when we got home!!

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We are counting down the days until next year’s Family Camp as we cannot wait to go back, Lord willing!

A couple of years ago when we were just home from Family Camp Lane asked Kayla, “Kawa, how many days do we have to stay in this place until we can go back to Family Camp?” My sentiments exactly, Lane Stevan!

Family Camp 2016, you were SO good to us!!

My Heart

When it comes to our two littles, Tate and Eliza, Family Camp was such a great opportunity for them in so many ways. We have been in a state of cocooning – in some way or another – for over two years now, and our world has been pretty small for their sakes. I was so excited to see how they would do away from home, with different sleeping arrangements, and so many people around us all day long!

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I am not surprised, really, at how AMAZING things went! The Lord has really, really blessed our efforts with Tate and Eliza!!

There were two beautiful afternoons at camp where I took Tate, Eliza, and the first afternoon Lane, over to the playground after nap time. I sat on a bench in the shade the first day, chatting with another Mom, while keeping a close eye on the kiddos.

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My heart was SO full watching Tate just go after everything his brother and sister did, with a huge grin on his face, and no question in his mind that he would not be able! This boy has taught me so much.

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It was when Eliza came over and told me she wanted to go barefoot like Lane and Tate that I thought my heart might burst. I was telling her “No, sweetie, you really don’t want to do that! Do you see you are standing on grass right now?” (what in the world is wrong with me?!?) But she insisted – took off her shoes and socks, walked back to the playground like she was walking on sharp nails, stepped into the soft sand like she was walking on broken glass…….but kept pushing and pushing herself…..and in about one minute she was running all over that sand with a huge smile on her face!

I kid you not. I am embarrassed to say I did not think she could do it. The Lord is truly blessing our efforts in ways that are so humbling.

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Pretty soon Lane was off with his big brothers, and Tate and Eliza had settled on a slide that they just kept going up and down and up and down. I moved into the shade where I could see them, and enjoyed watching them SO much. So, so much!

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Tate could not keep up with his sister, at all. It never discouraged him, and Eliza always stopped to not only check on him, but to encourage him to keep climbing. “You can do it, Tate! Just follow me!” Oh my heart. I just love thinking of the Lord’s plan for these two precious cherubs. How He knew they would need each other. And they do.

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My view from my chair, besides watching my littles, was this. Yes, it was a great afternoon – one to remember.

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We played on the playground again another afternoon, and there were LOTS of other kiddos there that day. It was SO sweet to watch Tate and Eliza interact with them!

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Tate did come to me that day crying and told me that he was told by another child that he could not possibly be five because he is way too small. Sweet boy. Mind you, he was standing next to a three year old who was much bigger than him! I asked him “What does Mommy always tell you?” and he knew the answer right away, “I was made by God just the way He wanted me.” Yep. I told Tate just to say that truth when another child questions the way he looks!

We came home from camp late on Friday afternoon, and have not had any behavioral “aftermath” from our time away. This is amazing in itself as well!

The last two years have been all about a new way of parenting, a different level of protection than we have had with our older children, and constant purpose to try to help Tate and Eliza overcome all that they must…..but I am here to tell you, it has been so, so worth it.

Our precious cherubs deserve nothing less.

And it is an honor and a privilege to be called their Mama.

Family Camp 2016

A week ago Sunday we pulled away from the farm in a 31 foot RV (with our mini van following behind) and headed to Lansing, Iowa to attend Family Camp at Village Creek Bible Camp!

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We have been attending this Family Camp since 2011, even though we only visited for one evening each in 2012 and 2015, because we were unable to attend the full week those two years. Family Camp is definitely the highlight of our year, and we signed up for next year already!

It took a small army to get ready to go, but I have a small army that was willing to work hard! We prepped all of our meals ahead of time, freezing what we could, so that we would only have to reheat things at meal time. Traveling with food allergies is a big job!

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The RV that Blake found for us to rent was a true blessing! It allowed our own “safe” space (thinking of Eliza mostly when I say that), and also our own kitchen. I had a blast keeping house in that little RV!

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One of my favorite parts of Family Camp is arrival time. I watched friends RUN when they spotted each other, and give big hugs as they saw each other after so long!

There were SO many friends we just could not wait to see. I am so glad Addie Mae got some great photos!

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Each morning at camp started with Chapel right after breakfast, and went from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. Chapel included announcements, singing, skits, families sharing music, Bible memory, testimonies, and a message. SO, SO, SO good!

There were over 40 families at camp this year, which was over 300 people, and 115 children under the age of eight!

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After morning Chapel we had a break. For our family, we spent this time in the RV sharing and talking about all we just heard/learned, and also had a snack. At 10:45 a.m., the guys headed to the men’s session while we girls headed to the women’s session. The women’s sessions were amazing. SO many practical things shared – like tips for doing big family laundry and how to teach scripture memory to your kiddos. Things were also shared that were aimed toward spiritual growth, and I have implemented several of them already! I came home with pages of notes and have looked at them over and over!

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After dinner was evening chapel at 7 p.m. It lasted until about 8:30 p.m. It was similar to morning chapel, but of course the messages, skits, singers, and singing were different! ALL of it was super good – even though there were certain messages that struck a chord with me, and I have been reflecting on them ever since. The Lord used SO many talented people to make Family Camp so special!

We also had some very, very special visitors two of the nights for chapel! My sunshine and his people!

David and Kayla were so gracious to stay on the farm while we were gone to take care of the horses, our pup Sadie, and our dog Zoe!

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After lunch each afternoon, there were dozens of activities to choose from! This was when Blake and I had to divide and conquer. I usually took the littles to the camper for a nap and some down time. This is also when I would do therapy with Eliza – either brushing her skin, or bouncing her on the ball we took. I also ran DVD’s a lot any time we were in the camper, as it worked well to help Eliza stay calm. I did have a class I wanted to attend after lunch one day, so Blake napped the littles while I did that. We made a great team!!

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Of course, there were perks to being the one to nap the littles!

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We went to the creature feature one afternoon. YUCK!

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The littles went for pony rides. I guess you can tell who LOVED this. My horse girl!! Her smile makes my heart sing!

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Lane built a rocket! They actually put an engine on it and shot it off the last day. I do not have photos of the launch, because it was pouring rain. But it was fun! And got stuck in a huge tree!

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There was volleyball and basketball any time of any day!

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There was archery and shooting as well. The trap shooting was right next to our camper and VERY loud!

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Tate and Eliza really liked the trampoline – even though they were harnessed, which made their Mama happy! Tate could flip and flip and flip! Tiny mighty thing that he is!

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Addie Mae took voice lessons!

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Late night activities included an arm wrestling match and some routy games of Dutch Blitz!

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Blake and I kept Tate and Eliza on a schedule as close to home as we could. They were in bed at night only a little bit later than they would have been at home. We knew this would be the key to success for them, and it truly was! They were great sleepers in that little RV, and had so much fun at camp! We couldn’t be happier with how well they handled a week away from home! They cannot wait to go back next year!

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I asked each of the kiddos what their favorite part of Family Camp was. Here are their answers:

Eliza: “Riding the ponies! I met the ponies. I love the trampoline.”

Tate: “The playground and meeting all the peoples. And I loved to flip!”

Lane: “The rocket launch, sports, fellowship, men’s sessions, chapel, and the arm wrestling tournament.”

Chad: “The men’s sessions (they were the best ones we’ve ever had), and meeting all the new families.”

Addie Mae: “The session How to do Things God’s Way in the Business World, and Dutch Blitz games after midnight.”

Grant: “The fellowship, meeting new people, the men’s session called Investing in Future Generations, the boat races, and Mighty Mighty Scoop Noodle Challenge.”

I will end with this quote from one of the sessions:

“I’d rather see a sermon,
Than hear one anyday.
I’d rather you walk with me,
Than merely point the way.
The eye is a more ready pupil,
Than ever was the ear.
Good advice is often confusing,
But example is always clear.”

Author Unknown

I think this may be the longest post I have ever done! And my scrapbook about Family Camp is not finished yet!

Blake and I feel SO blessed to have had an opportunity to get away – especially to a place where iron sharpens iron. Family Camp has left a lasting impression on each of us, and I truly am not the same person that left this farm last Sunday!

More about Family Camp to come – stay tuned!