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Building happy childhood memories…

19 Jun


Camping on Madeline Island, picnics with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles and cousins, sunny afternoons at the beach… I am thankful Momma and Daddy planned fun traditions for our young summers days.

It doesn’t have to be expensive or take all day to create fun memories. We happened to notice that Baskin Robbins has $1.00 kids cones on Tuesday nights. Since they are only about 5 minutes from our house, we have become summer time regulars.

I would love to hear from you – What are some of the favorite simple summer pleasures your family enjoys?


almost locked in the dungeon

7 Jun

Thinking of my conversation with the nice plumber man a couple of days ago,  I still find myself hoping he will not delay too long.  Might he come today?  If not, I sure hope he comes tomorrow! When I brought him into the cellar to get a good look at the pipes, I was a bit ashamed!  Cleaning the basement was on my to do list, but still undone.  So, today was the day.  By the time I had finished hanging the laundry, the kids had the space completely emptied!

Overhearing the children’s conversations from the clothes line, it became evident that things were not running smoothly.  My little five year old princess was crying in search of someone who would sympathize with her.  Apparently she was under threat of being locked into the inner dark pit of the dungeon by a particular older (but still young) brother.

It didn’t take us much time to bring the  small space back to order.  Half of the things that had piled up over the last year just needed to be thrown out, the other – reorganized.     It was the landscape area right outside the door that really took some tough work.  As we began to prune back the abundant growth, we found evidence of a garden that had once been.  The vines had become so thick, nothing else was visible.  The voracious root system was dense throughout the soil, overpowering any other plants that may have thrived. It’s not that the vines are bad, in fact I love how abundant they are, but they sure are prone to take over everything they have access to.

While digging and pulling out roots from the vines, I thought about all of the things that creep in and can easily overtake our lives.  Many of the worst culprits can truly be good or look beautiful as do my vines, yet they become too strong and begin to strangle what is most important.

I thought about my little young man, so ready to exert his authority and be treated as one of the “older” kids.  At this point in his life, the authority is usually exercised on his younger siblings and not always in appropriate ways.  Gently, prayerfully, and deliberately my job (our job as parents) is to mold his growing independence – helping him to gain a wisdom that is from a pure heart; becoming considerate, submissive, full of mercy, productive, and sincere.  As he grows in these traits, he will be well on his way to becoming a well respected man wisely using his authority.

I am thankful to my husband for his desire for me to be a stay at home mom.  As a result, I have the pleasure of tackling projects with our kids –

from cleaning the dungeon to molding the character of the young knights and princesses – together we work to keep those overpowering roots at bay.

btw: Dear plumber man, the basement is clean; come back soon!

taking time for simple pleasures

4 Jun


I could hear the gentle pounding of nails as we stood in the kitchen. The eyes of his proud parents sparkled when they described the bed their five year old son was creating in the garage. Remembering various attempts of my own children to create tables, chairs, and shelves, I regretted the fact that I hadn’t taken the time to see the fruit of this young little man’s labor.

I love the summer time and the freedom to let the kids be kids – run, climb, dig, build, fish, throw stones, swim, catch butterflies, breath deeply, live fully… and sleep deeply.


kids can do incredible things

21 May


Having turned seven years old around six months ago, I decided it was time our youngest son became one of the proficient bread-makers in our household. We have a number of random traditions that happen at various ages and learning to make bread after you turn seven is one of them. There isn’t any deep meaningful reason behind this practice. It’s just how it turned out and the kids are always pretty excited to learn! Maybe one of the keys is to catch them while they are still young enough to find it exciting and old enough to be able to follow directions well.

At any rate, from grinding the wheat to baking, it was all done on his own. The picture shows our basic recipe, although we seem to do it a little different every time. Eventually our seven year old will know the ingredients like the back of his hand and be able to experiment as he pleases. Fortunately the flops usually work well for French Toast in the mornings! Mmmm…

Given the opportunity, kids can do incredible things!

Hats off to my growing young man! The bread tasted great!

one hundred things to learn…

16 May

I couldn’t help noticing the large piece of paper taped to my daughter’s wall.  At the top it said, “One Hundred Things”.  She is determined to learn how to do 100 new things!  It seems a bit aggressive to me, but she has my full support.  Already she tried a new method for icing a cake, gave her first haircut to a reluctant younger brother, started teaching her younger siblings how to play the piano, and today went fishing!  She is off to a great start!

The academics of school has its place, but I love the freedom of summer learning!  The very day we finished up several classes, the kids were pulling out nature guides, tuning up fishing poles, playing tennis, digging a pond…  It is fun to take more of a back seat to their learning for a time and simply provide the support to let them explore.

A Late Night Run to the Coffee Shop

31 Jan

We just completed the last week of our 21 day habit forming project: keeping  bedrooms clean and neat.  It was fun to watch the kids work together to gain points.  I thought it might turn in to more of a competition, but instead the children ended up helping each other out.  Yay!

The bait on the end of the hook was a trip to Starbucks with Dad and Mom.

As the final week went on, three of the kids had an even amount of points, but my littlest princess was lagging behind a bit.

    “Hmmm… maybe I should mess their areas up a bit! ” she schemed.

Fortunately, her siblings had a more gracious approach and encouraged her to find some extra areas in the house to straighten, in hopes of gaining a few more points.

I love the fact that they all wanted to go together!

So… last night at 8:00 we all left the house to have a late night run to the coffee shop and had hot chocolates for everyone!

A special thank you to Uncle Mark and Aunt Merry for the Starbucks gift cards!

Will the rooms be forever clean now???

I think not, but no doubt, we have raised the standard for what is acceptable.

Talia’s Crafts

18 Nov

Hi my name is Talia Olmstead, I am the tenth in our family of fourteen children.

I like to bake, do fun crafts, hike, and a lot more outside activities.  Recently

I did both of these crafts with my younger siblings.


Pilgrim Hat or a Turkey for a Thanksgiving Craft

Necessities for pilgrim hat:  Hard stock paper both yellow and black, skewer sticks, tape, and glue.

Necessities for turkey: Hard stock paper many colors, skewer, tape, and glue.

Pilgrim Hat

Step 1.  Cut out a hat with black paper.

Step 2.  With yellow paper cut out gold buckle.

Step 3.  Take gold buckle and glue it snug onto the hat.

Step 4.  Last of all, grab the skewer and tape it onto the back right side of the hat.

The turkeys is quite simple as well.  First, with your many colors, cut out approximately a dozen feathers and tape them to a round piece of paper.  Add the finishing touches like the neck and the head then follow up with step 4.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!