Camping and a Confession

May and June were just plumb busy ya’ll.  We had something every weekend and pretty much every day.  So, when we realized the girls may not get to go to an AHG camp planned for June, Mark and I decided to give up our only free weekend (which also happened to be our anniversary weekend) for the girls and our whole family to participate in an AHG family camp.  And then a week before, I got an email asking me to plan and grocery shop for the meals for camp.  I agreed because I felt the Lord was telling me to do it.  But I didn’t agree with a joyful heart.  I grumbled and complained the whole week.  Got my ducks in a row, got the groceries for around 50 people and we loaded up and went.

We got to camp and were about a 1/4 of a mile from bathrooms (don’t forget I’m pregnant ya’ll).  There was no running water on the site. And we thought that we were missing a pole to a brand new tent.   I about had a two year old temper tantrum at the campsite.  Mark made the sleeping arrangements work with our small four person tent and other large tent. After calming myself and chatting with God and friends, I decided the self-pity needed to end and I had to just enjoy it.  We found out later that the camp coordinator was told there were bathrooms right near the site and that running water would be onsite.  And as we loaded up the following evening to beat the rain, we realized the missing tent pole wasn’t missing.  We had just misread the directions. God blessed us with an amazing sunset!  Just seeing this made it all worth all the headache. Watching the kids get filthy….trekking in pitch black dark to the bathroom and making new friends.  Once my attitude adjusted, it was a wonderfully fun trip!

A Night at the Symphony

Last year, we planned our beach trip the same weekend as the local symphony’s annual free performance, Pops!  Under the Stars.  We made sure not to miss it this year though.  We were blessed to be able to meet up with several of our church families…which meant our kids stayed entertained, we enjoyed music and there was enough food to feed a small army.  Church people don’t starve.
It was pretty sunny and some of our friends needed to protect their delicate skin from the sun! Emmie and selfiies…yes thank you! Of course, we had to get one in.   Tot wanted one too!  He loved all the pets but the fireworks were not his friends.  He made it through though.

Plotting, planning and playing.

Our littles were super glad that some church members were home from college and literally, attached to their backs!

And Ace really got into the music.


We love where we live.  Not only are we three hours from the beach or mountains, but there is always something to do.  Especially in the spring and fall, before and after the humidity.  There are swamps to explore, rivers to walk on.  We can go to baseball games or kayak the canal.  Or, in this one date night, take a beautiful open air cruise…with music…on the canal.

It was probably one of the most memorable and beautiful date nights we have had.   There was a great interpretive museum before we went on the two hour or so cruise.  We had no idea what to expect with the music and all we knew was that it was bluegrass.  The music did not disappoint.

Another treat was we were able to watch the sunset.

This is Butt Bridge.  I know what you are thinking and you can snicker all you want.  But (no pun…okay, yeah it was), Sir Archibald Butt was a hero of the Titanic sinking and an ambassador for the United States.  He is credited with saying “Women and children first.”  So, this bridge may be called Butt Bridge but there is a reason for it…besides the obvious.

Bonus treat was watching the sunset.

Mark and I agreed that this would definitely not be our last canal cruise!

My advice:  Don’t just sit around complaining there is nothing to do…go out and explore!  You may very well be missing out on a true hidden treasure.

Close (Ark) Encounter

The Ark Encounter is not anything that I can really post and share a few family pictures and expect you to really experience it.  It is a true personal experience that you really can grasp the enormity of unless you are actually there.  Ya’ll, there are just no words to describe how amazing it is.

I’ll do my best to share some highlights from our trip to the Ark.  We got there before just before it opened and our achy feet and tired kiddos were ready to head home by around 4.  But, in the time, we managed to see and read as much as we could.

The woodwork and craftsmanship was just astounding.  I believe over 200 Amish craftsman had a part in this and their amazing art and talent definitely shown through.

This was a great infographic that laid out the plausible way the ark could have held “all” the animals and 8 people.  I can’t imagine the amount of research that went in to this.

Taking a quick break on a wooden beam!

The door to the ark.  Just one example of how Christ is the only door to Heaven.

After exploring all day, ya gotta take a break.   Ya’ll Bryant just went and sprawled out like this.

There is a small petting zoo on sight and the highlight for our whole family were the goats.  They were so sweet and we all enjoyed petting them all.

This girl was a trooper through the whole trip and by the end of it, I realized I could turn the back seat of our double stroller around and she could easily climb in and out.  This saved my back from a thousand pick up and put downs and she loved talking to mommy when she wasn’t knocked out cold.


Creation Museum Adventures

This was our third trip to the Creation Museum and it was just as good.  T The last time we were there, we had a miscommunication with Ace and he missed out on ziplining.  We made sure to get him in to this trip.  He had a blast. The petting zoo…of course, was a big hit. Emmie loved the duck which they all named Cucumber.  She would squeal each time he gave her a little nibble on her hand.   And there were chickens!  She really wanted to give them hugs but they weren’t having any of it. Ceili Rain and Emmie each choose a fox for their souvenirs!

Quick picture before we head to our next great adventure…the Ark.

At the Convention

We sat through a lot of sessions and all of us learned a lot. And also got some silly pictures in. The treat was hearing Andrew Peterson sing on Thursday evening and hearing him speak on Friday morning. The most we saw of Cincinnati was the rooftops of several beautiful buildings near the parking deck.

The kids were thrilled to meet some new authors but also one that was familiar to us.  S. D. Smith wrote a book about rabbits with swords.  I grabbed it up for free on the kindle, read it to the kids aloud, and we were hooked.  We highly recommend The Green Ember and the whole series!  Seriously…rabbits…swords…who could lose.

The House on the Corner

After  looking at the cost of hotel rooms in and around Cincinnati for our larger than normal family, we decided to look in to renting a house.  We went through Deborah’s Guesthouses.  It was an absolute score!  The price was much less than two hotel rooms.  We were five minutes from the Creation Museum and the little area we were in was nice, quiet and near a park!

Little Ponderosa Zoo

I’ve mentioned before how we decided for Christmas this past year to give the kids an experience rather than a bunch of gifts…because ya’ll, our house is covered in stuff.

Well, the experience included a trip to a home school convention in Cincinnati to hear and hopefully meet our favorite author and singer, Andrew Peterson, a trip to the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.  We made our trek in April.

About a month before the trip, we had a family movie night and stumbled upon a cute little movie on Pureflix called Little Ponderosa Zoo.  We soon learned that the Little Ponderosa Zoo wasn’t just a movie but an actual place and it happened to be “pretty close” to our route to Cincinnati.  Since I needed to get out every two hours, we decided to include this little zoo in our trip.

Ya’ll, it was the best decision.  A perfect break during a long road trip and an opportunity to see some pretty neat animals up close and personal…and feed them! It’s a wildlife sanctuary and most of the exotic animals were “pets” before the owners realized they were actually real wild animals.

If you are ever in the middle of Nowhere Tennessee and want to get out of the car and rest for a couple of hours.  Little Ponderoas Zoo is THE place to go!

Rabbits!  Ready and willing to be loved on.

We walked out of the barn and Emmie saw all the goats.  She ran up to them and began proclaiming, “I wuv you!  And I wuv you!  And I wuv you!”  She was in heaven.

Liam and Silas were super excited to feed the ponies.

We fed kangaroos too!

My super excited treat was seeing a little rescued monkey as everyone was leaving.  He was very curious about all of us and played peek-a-boo with me, running away from me and then eventually getting a little closer as I continued to talk to him.  And then, oh my, then he looked at me and gave the biggest grin.  I flipped out.  And no one was there to witness it or get it on camera!    Most of the monkeys are generally from abusive or neglected situations.  This one, was just absolutely adorable!

See you in Seattle!

At the end of March and first of April, I had the great privilege to attend the NF Symposium in Seattle.  Not only that, but I also participated in the Children’s Tumor Foundation’s Volunteer Leadership Committee.  It was a great experience and, as it turned out, my roomie for the weekend was also newly pregnant.  We were able to commiserate together and I succeeded in getting us a little lost too!

We go there Thursday afternoon and were able to do a little touring before the training started the following day.

Of course we visited the Space Needle.  This was my second time there and just as neat as the first time.

We also hiked down to Pike Place.  This was a vat of fresh cheese.  I really wanted it but my pregnancy belly said, “nope…you don’t.” A scalpie for Facebook.  This is an ongoing joke about my parents who are also known as the self-proclaimed “Scalpie Pros.”

I don’t know what I was doing here.  Proof positive that I take the corniest pictures.

After walking endlessly, we finally found a place to eat…

We had pizza…and it was so good ya’ll!

The coolest thing was finding Benedict Cumberbatch’s doppleganger on the train.  Well, Cumberbatch as Sherlock.

Mark didn’t agree but from a distance, trust me, Random Train Guy looked like him.

Aside from the fun touring, I learned a lot about what exactly Children’s Tumor Foundation is doing and there is so much hope for treatments for Emmie in the future!  It is great to be raising funds for an organization who has a passion for research and integrity.  I told Mark that after learning all that CTF does to fund research, I am even more encouraged in supporting their efforts to end NF!


Speaking of CTF, join us on our next walk coming up in September OR donate to Team Super Ems’ Sidekicks!