06-30-16 The Garden

When we were kids, my mother used to plant a huge garden. I remember in late spring when she would get her tiller out and start tilling the plot of land she had dedicated to her garden. It was huge. I would follow her as she pushed the tiller up and down the yard, and I would hop from one footprint to the next. If I was barefoot, which I usually was, I would venture out of the indentions her own feet had made and let my feet sink into the freshly unearthed, dark brown soil. It was warm on the surface, but as you dug your toes in further, it would get cooler, a welcome respite from the mid-atlantic humidity.

Inevitably, my mother would turn around and see me dancing and playing in the dirt behind her and she would chide me for flattening the soil she had work so hard to dig up.

When it was time to plant she would measure the distance between her rows. She would get small sticks and tie string to them and stretch them across her garden to guide the rows of seeds she would be planting. With a hoe, she would go along the soil beneath the sting to create a shallow crevice in which to place her seeds. When it was time, she would walk along, dropping seeds in the small ditch, while my sister and I would follow behind her, covering the seeds with the soil and gently patting down the ground.

My mother grew pretty much everything- corn, carrots, sunflowers, lettuce, green beans, yellow beans, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelons, and more.

When it was time to harvest, my mother would gather all of the produce and start canning. It would take her days, but when she was done, we would have veggies to last us for quite some time.

One of the special things she used to do when it was time to harvest the zucchini was to make zucchini crisp. I’m not sure where she got the recipe or what every happened to it, but it was one of our favorite desserts growing up. I know it’s strange, a dessert made from zucchini, but stick with me- for the most part, it actually tasted like apple crisp.

A few years ago, when we lived in the farm house and had a garden, I decided to make it myself. It wasn’t the same recipe, but it turned out pretty good.

Well, the other day, my kind neighbor gave me a huge amount of zucchini and yellow squash.


My first thought was, let’s make some crisp!


I chose this one because it was huge and my recipe called for 8 cups of diced, peeled zucchini.


After chopping it up and adding all the good stuff- the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc- it was time to add it to the cake pan.


Next was to add the topping (which is sugar, oats, flour, and butter) and pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes!


And voila! There it is! It smells amazing, and I’m really, really hoping it tastes as good as I remember!

06-29-16 A Bad Dream


Big E wandered into my room yesterday morning with a sad look in his eyes. When I asked him what was the matter, he said he had a bad dream. When I prompted him for more information he told me that he had a dream that we had given Baby E away to another family. Apparently he was heartbroken and went on and on about how much he loves his baby brother.

Don’t worry, buddy. Baby E is a keeper!

06-28-16 Goddesses of Olympus


Do you see that girl in the center? That’s my grandmother. This photo was taken in 1936 and published in a newspaper. The girls were being named “Goddesses of Olympus” by the students in their high school. The award acknowledged their outstanding character, sportsmanship and athletic ability. 

I recently decided to research my family history. I thought it would make a nice gift for my parents, so I went and created an account at ancestry.com and started digging. I didn’t know very much about either side of my parents’ families, just the scattered details I had picked up over the years. So I started with the few details I knew I could nail down- the names of my grandparents and the cities I knew they lived in at some point. I found census documents, draft registration cards, death certificates, grave sites, photos, etc. I poured over the original documents, comparing dates and names and little by little, my family history began to open in front of me. From the census documents I was able to pull addresses, and I entered many of them in Google Maps Street View, and instantly I was standing in front of the very houses that housed so much of my heritage. From the draft registration cards, I was able to learn that my great grandfather had the same handwriting as my father. I learned that my 5th great grandfather on my father’s side was actually born in the same county that I grew up and now live in.

I followed rabbit trails that took me to grave yards. I put out a request for my grandfather’s  grave and within 24 hours a complete stranger had gone to the cemetery he was buried in in California, took a photo, and uploaded it.

I learned that one of my great uncles was in the army during WWII and had been captured in Tunisia and sent to a Nazi prisoner of war camp where he stayed in captivity for 827 days before being liberated. I tracked down the battle he was in and the camp he stayed in. I found first person accounts of both, which detailed the same experiences he would have had.

I traveled over to newspapers.com and found articles detailing my mother being accepted into college, my grandmother leading a lesson at her church, and my grandfather writing a letter to the editor extolling the virtues of owning a dog. I found want ads, birth announcements, and obituaries that all linked to my family. I found the photo from above- the earliest image I have ever seen of my grandmother, but the moment I saw it, I knew it was her!

I traced my mother’s side to the mid 1800’s and my father’s to the 1680’s. I learned I’m a good deal Slovakian, with a healthy combination of British, Irish, and German.

It was such an amazing experience to finally have a better understanding of where I come from and I loved that I could share that with my own family!

If you have ever thought about doing it, you should definitely give it a try and if you have researched your lineage- what’s the most interesting thing you uncovered about your family?

06-26-16 I’m glad I have you back.

“I’m glad I have you back,” he whispers as he climbs into my lap, his four year old arms and legs contorting to snuggle in close. His brownish-blonde hair brushes against my cheek and I can smell the sand and water he was playing in less than an hour before. He has grown in the ten days since I have seen him, or perhaps his absence aged him in my mind. As he cuddles even closer I can feel his breath against my skin and his torso rising and falling as his breathing steadies. “I thought about you all the time,” he adds, glancing up to meet my gaze, a smile creeping across his face. And as I stare into his perfect blue eyes I realize he can never grasp the depth at which I missed him too.

Just hours earlier, my heart raced as we drove closer to meet them. They were unaware of my first glimpse of them, and I watched them walk by, smiling and chatting. Baby E’s eyes zeroed in on them and he began to grin, which turned quickly into a full body wiggle in an attempt to escape daddy’s arms to pursue them. But then they rounded a corner, and Baby E realized he was surrounded by strangers. His frantic looks became tears as he ran back to us. As we turned the corner, Big E was also in tears, having just been accidentally bumped by his sister’s toy, and as he stood there crying, we called their names.

C noticed us first and bounded over to us, throwing her arms around each of us and jabbering away about her adventures. Sulkily, Big E made his way over as well, needing comfort more than greeting, so I picked him up and held him close, convinced that he has gotten heavier. After our initial meeting, we went to lunch with my parents, my sister, and our little family, during which they sought our undivided attention.

We brought them to the beach on the way home, letting them wade in the water in the clothes they were wearing. Digging in the sand, pretending to swim in the shallows, and building sand castles ushered in our evening and by the time we made it home, they were hungry, exhausted, and happy.

I am exceedingly grateful to have my family together once again. The recent quiet has been replaced with the welcome sound of giggles, and feet running up and down the stairs. My previously clean kitchen bears witness to our house full of children, with half eaten sandwiches and half empty cups littering the table. And the room that sat dormant for ten long days, now holds the snores and heavy breathing of my two sweet, dear children that will never fully understand how much they were missed!





06-25-16 Tim is home!

If you know us, or perhaps can read between the lines, you will know that Tim has been gone for the entire week. He left on Sunday for a mission trip to Toronto and returned this evening. Since this is a public blog, and I care very much about the safety of my children, I don’t like to shout it from the rooftops when he isn’t here. With him being away for the week, it seemed like a convenient time for the big kids to visit my parents, leaving just me and Baby E to hold down the fort. I must say that with only the two of us in the house all week, it was really, really quiet around here! I also realized that if I don’t have anyone else to cook for, I literally do not cook. We had scrambled eggs for every dinner that we were here at home. Blessedly, we were also invited to dinner for a few nights. 🙂

Baby E was very excited to see his daddy walk in the door this evening and I know the feeling was mutual. Tomorrow we pick up the big kids and our family will all be together again. I have missed them all so much and I really can’t wait for them to be back!

This evening we got to celebrate the birthday of a very special little boy who turned 5 this past week- our dear, sweet nephew Daniel. Happy Birthday, Daniel! We love you and we had a lot of fun at your party!

06-24-16 Day Eight

This is day eight of the big kids being away and this is what I have learned…


1- Baby E can eat a lot of waffles. He eats two in the morning and two at night every day. Before you jump to the conclusion that all he eats is waffles, he usually has eggs in the evening to go along with them, and usually in the morning the sitter feeds him again when I drop him off.


2- Just today he started using the word ‘paci’ for pacifier. Up until today, he just said “baba” for both paci and bottle, leading to much confusion.


3- He doesn’t like ranch dressing. I’m not sure how this happened… It’s possible he was switched at birth. 


4- He has learned to give honest to goodness kisses. He used to just ram his large head into your face when you asked for a kiss. Now he leans in gentle and puckers up his sloppy lips, and aims for your lips or cheek.

This has been an amazing week of getting to know this little fellow better. With three small kids in the house, it is hard sometimes to get one on one time with each of them, so I am so grateful for our time this week. While I miss C and Big E terribly, I have enjoyed watching Baby E come into his own. He is such a sweet, affection, strong willed, silly, fun little guy!

06-23-16 Sloppy Kisses

At long last, Baby E is really missing his siblings. This evening he called out Big E’s name when he saw a red jeep. I’m not exactly sure what the connection was, but he was quite insistent. I told him he’d see them in three more days. Of course, he is a baby, so he totally didn’t understand that, but it’s ok. We spent our evening eating scrambled eggs and waffles, reading books, and smothering each other in sloppy kisses!

06-22-16 Beach Time

Baby E and I spent our evening on the beach. He wanted to wade out into the water this evening, so I held his hand and he toddled around. The sun was behind the clouds and there were only a few people there, so for the most part it was very relaxing. He positioned himself on the edge of the shore, just within reach of the small breaking waves and he dug in the sand and water for what seemed like forever. He talked about the stones he found and the ducks that walked by. He smiled at the other kids and squished his toes in the wet sand. He has really come full circle in the few short weeks we have been going to the beach. Now I have to drag him away from the water kicking and screaming!

It is day six of the kids being at my parents’ house. They are still having fun and their days are filled with adventures. Four more days and they will be home! I can’t wait!

06-21-16 Quiet

It’s quiet in my house tonight, made quieter since it rained this evening and the ground is saturated and absorbing the sound the same way it soaked up the water. Tonight Baby E was sad. I think for the first time in days he missed his brother and sister. When I got him home this evening he cried unconsolably, but when he was done he asked for a waffle and then shortly thereafter he went to sleep.

And while he has barely thought of his siblings since they left, I have thought of them almost constantly, and I miss them terribly. I keep thinking I hear them, or see them in the corner of my eye. It’s hard to turn off years of mommy instincts for a few days!!

I had dinner with some friends this evening and it was delightful.

I got some more pics of the kids from the past few days. Again, it looks like they are having a blast! I’m glad to hear they aren’t homesick and enjoying their time away!