Water Bottles Runneth Over

The declutter challenge a few days ago was to declutter plastic cups and water bottles.


We have water bottles coming out the wazoo!


You get them at the fair.

You get them at the game.

You get them everywhere.

All labeled with a name.



This is the worst area for them.  They are just randomly thrown on this shelf with lightbulbs.  In fact that diaper box is full of plastic cups and sippy cups and water bottles.


They are also on another shelf with some Tupperware.


I sorted both areas and removed a large box (bigger than that diaper box) to be sold/given away.  I removed a small box (1/2 that size) of sippy cups and plastic Wanake mugs that I’ve labelled and will store in the garage for when there are small children in my house again.


I also sorted and semi-organized the lightbulbs.  Put loose ones and single packed ones in the tote and basket.


There is room on that third shelf for some other things besides the outdoor chair pads.  When I sort the trays/party cups/plates, I will probably move a box to that shelf.

All water bottles and plastic hot cups have been moved to the under-the-stairs pantry area for easy access.



I know that still seems like a lot, but we are a family of 6 and this is a 1/3 of what we did have, so that is pretty good.


Next up the calendar says Frig.  We did clean that not too long ago, but I’ll have a go again.  It also says top of the frig…. ummm… that would be Wayne’s territory.   🙂



May is Over!!!!



For the last 10-12 years, May has been the worst month for me to get through.  It shouldn’t be because there are great things that happen in May…

Abi’s Birthday

End of the year concerts

End of the school year banquets and recognitions

Mother’s day

Memorial Day (camping or at Linwood)

End of the scouting year awards evening



GS camping


But for some reason, May almost always whips my emotional butt.  I used to think it was the GS camping.  When I had 3 troops, I would take them camping together in the fall and/or winter.  But in May, I would take each troop separately so I could spend quality time with them alone.    I have cut back on that.  I only have 2 troops now and we went camping together AND in April….


All the end of the school year stuff, isn’t too stressful, I’m not in charge of it…


GS Awards evening… yes that adds stress…


Graduation… not a big deal and only happens to me every 3 years… the party isn’t till August…


Memorial Day events… yes, that can be stressful.  We struggled for years to blend 2 different family traditions.  One family that camped at Wanake every Memorial Day and one family that spent the weekend at Linwood.  We finally settled on alternating years.  This year we were to be at Wanake but because of Graduation (and other extenuating circumstances that I really don’t want to go into and are probably adding to the malaise this year) we didn’t go anywhere.  It isn’t overly stressful on a “normal” year to be at Wanake for Memorial Day.  It is an unprogrammed weekend and we get to REALLY camp and cook out our meals and just be.  That is nice.  When we are at Linwood, yes it is stressful.  We are in a house that is over full and the food is sometimes iffy and some of the family members …. well… we do generally have a good time though… if the weather is warm, the kids get to get in Lake Erie for the first time of the season, and walking on the beach is nice and usually there is a good sunset, and some fun games of Oh Blimey! with family.


Mother’s Day… eh… could always be better… I think that no one knows what to do or how to show love in this household…and I suppose that deficiency falls on the mom for not teaching/modeling it … so I guess that it is my fault that I feel “eh” on Mother’s day.


Anniversary… it has been 27 years… I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had a wonderful anniversary… there have been good ones but they seem few and far between.  Again, it is probably my fault because I’m not good at the demonstrative stuff and all… but I also have other theories on this that are … well… very personal… and my own demons that I am still wrestling with and probably not good fodder for a public blog.


Once again, however, I feel like May has kicked my emotional butt and I am drained because of it.  June begins tomorrow!!  Summer is here!  My list of things to accomplish this summer is huge.  Hopefully I will get most of it done for a change.  If I can kick the lethargy that May leaves me with maybe I can motivate myself to August and the grad party.

Grateful Gifts

You have seen the posts on facebook about making a jar and putting in notes all during the year of things you are thankful/grateful for.  Well…. we did that this last year:


We read the notes on our way to our New Year’s Eve Celebration.  Here is what was in the jar:

(in no particular order)

– Esther sorted 6 totes of shoes

-Liz got a 1 at Solo and Ensemble

-Liz took 2nd in the 400 free (Jan. 8, 2013)

-Thankful for Esther’s kind and generous heart!

-mom lost weight, dad is trying

-One Direction

-Lydia got a 1 at Solo and Ensemble for her flute trio, and her choral ensemble also got a 1 (the only 1 in the school)

– Liz had a personal best on her 500/400 as sectionals

-House of Anubis is now on 4 days a week

– we got another cat (hopefully) – NO WE DID NOT!!!

-Tricia set up Wayne’s smartphone, a BIG help

-One Direction (yes, again…. I think someone is really thankful for them!  LOL!)

– Thankful for Lydia’s hard work at swimming



-Kevin gave Abi a car

– Esther won a penguin poster (sadly the cat ate that poster a few weeks later)

-a car from Kevin and Cousin Jim to repair it

– Wattpad

– Mom got a GS award in spring 2013

– Liz worked hard pulling weeds

-Jim fixed Abi’s minivan

– orthodontics, so our teeth will look good!

– Abi goes back to school

– we can almost get a car in the garage (and then brother Pete filled up the space when he moved, but now it is almost empty again and we DID fit a car in – but just grandma’s little Kia Soul)

– Thankful for the wise choices Liz is making during High School

-Lydia’s band and choir got a 1 at contest

-Thankful for Abi’s stick-to-it-iveness in college

-toys and games

– Esther spent almost 24 hours with Mia

– youtube

– Wayne got a full time job

-new phones

– Panic! at the Disco (I’m told it is music?)

– a nice hike at Wanake

-$3 fuse fixes the microwave

-I had one of the best years at camp. ❤   – Lydia

– Danisnotonfire and Amazing Phil (I’m told they are people on Youtube)

-Patricia for thinking of this great idea  (but really it was on facebook first,  😉    )

– spending 2 days at Auntie Lois’

-Abi home on break to run “mom” errands


-food, shelter, etc.

– House of Anubis started again.   🙂    (Well maybe not “good” for the family though?)

-Abi did a lot to help drive her sisters around during her Xmas break

– a working microwave and food to cook in it

-Liz hasn’t crashed the car yet!

– Liz band 3-peat at OMEA state finals – and they got a 1 this year!!!

– good weather for the spring campouts

-thankful for Tricia’s care of her mother during this time of need (her broken shoulder)

-Liz got her driver’s license

– I love my slippers and was very surprised!

-Fair winners (everyone won ribbons at the fair!!)

Yes, we will continue this for 2014!  Hopefully there will be at least the same amount of things to be thankful for next year!!

Expounding on it…

I started to write a long comment on Facebook (well, actually I did) and then had more thoughts so brought it back here.


We are not searching for a new church to attend. I just wanted to share something that was on my heart (in response to the door slamming shut comment a couple days ago). It seems that some people just don’t understand how this process has affected me and how it has changed our lives completely without hope of reconciliation. How everything I had imagined and dreamed and planned for has been destroyed because Wayne has been removed from pulpit ministry. Yes, of course, dreams change over time and you have to “roll with the punches” (I don’t do that well) but when the cause was needless, it is harder to overcome. Everything is based on 2 people’s statements and then lies and no grace extended nor even rebuttal allowed. I don’t think the “average Joe” really comprehends how much of a pastor’s life and his family’s life is wrapped up in church ministry. How everything you do is based on the church and when that is forcibly removed how you have a hard time even figuring out how to go on and you have no clue what you are to do with yourself. It has been 3 years (since the removal), 4 years since the mess began. We are making it through most days just fine. The impact damage on our lives and our children’s lives will never be overcome. It is NOT the same as a secular job loss, was my main point. Unless you have been involuntarily removed from your ministry position and thrown out like the garbage and not given a chance to restore yourself and no longer permitted to continue in the ministry roles you have held for decades, then you can never truly understand.


I do have a grasp on the loss of dreams based on a secular/non-religious loss.  My father.  My father became ill when I was in college.  By the time I got married he was either no longer working or only working very part time (I cannot remember).  His health continued to decline until he lost the battle with Multiple Sclerosis in 1993 just 6 short weeks before his first grandchild was to be born.


Of course, that threw my mother’s life into tailspin.  Did she ever imagine that she would be a widow at 51?  Of course not.  Did she ever imagine that she would be the sole grandparent (on one side) to her children’s children?  Certainly not.  She imagined (I can only assume) the same things I imagined.  2 loving grandparents, camping, boating, playing, loving, showering with time and gifts, someone to travel with, sit with and watch TV with, someone to keep you warm on a cold night (OK, I didn’t imagine that one, but I assume she did).    Is it right?  Not even slightly.  Should such a great tragedy happen to our family (any family)?  Never.  But it did.  Her life was turned upside down.  She could do nothing to stop it.  My life was turned upside down.  My daddy is gone.


So, yes.  I’ve had that experience too (loss of dreams/future based on a non-religious event).  However, my point remains, there was no loss of a church family.  I had the churches we were part of at the time to encourage and support us.  I had people to minister with and to.  I’m not a public griever so I can’t really say that I had people to comfort me in the churches but I’m sure they would have.  My mother had her church family as well.  She had to continue on and finish raising “the boys” without a father.  I’m certain that was tough (they turned out fine).  She had a church family to worship with.  They supported her and encouraged her and prayed for her.  And she has her ministry there and always did.  It was never taken away from her.  She is not a public griever either (guess I learned it?) but I’m sure they offered her comfort in the ways they could as she got through that time – and still does.  It helped alot, I think that we had Abi so soon after dad’s death.  It gave us something good to hold on to, to look forward to.  In fact we had a baby shower just a week after the funeral.  They wanted to cancel it but we wanted to move on, life didn’t come to an end just because our world was upturned.


Can you imagine if during that time of great grief we had been told that we could no longer attend church.  That we were no longer allowed to worship with the people we had been with.  The ones who had been supporting us?  That would be unheard of.  You would not send  a grieving family away from a community of faith just because someone died.

Yes, we have a church we are attending.  I’ve said that.  The people there are and would be supportive of us.  But it is not an active congregation for us to get involved in the types of ministry that we enjoy.  No we are not looking to change.  As I said before.  We are there because of family.  We will stay because of family.  The family aspect, right now, is more important to us.  We are sitting, we are trying to heal, it is hard – especially this week when all the atrocities of the politics of the church are thrown back at us in hurtful ways.    We will get through it.  We are definitely scathed.   (auto-correct tells me scathed is not a word that it is only unscathed – what is the opposite then?)    At this point it is too painful to try and re-imagine our future without the church and activities that I believed were always going to be there.  Someday I will be able to do that.


One dream I always had was that our children would get married in whatever church we were serving, surrounded by that community of faith and Wayne would help with the service.  Of course, I don’t have any child preparing to marry right now, but that is one of those long held dreams. I have started to re-imagine that one.   🙂     Now that dreams includes children getting married at Wanake.  I wanted to but because of the age and health concerns of relatives and my father, I did not.  If my daughters were to choose that, I will do everything in my power to make that happen.    See… I’m trying to re-imagine.  I’ll get there… eventually.

Nature Hike

I had the pleasure of leading a nature hike at Camp Wanake this morning for a 6th grade camp (I get to do it again tomorrow).  I had 17 kids, 2 teen counselors, and 1 adult with the group.  I was told that yesterday, the leader of the nature trail hike completed the hike and 2 other activities in 1.5 hours and had to kill time for half an hour.   Well… I wasn’t going to do the one activity (micro habitats – or something like that) because I didn’t want to.  I thought it sounded boring and not something my 6th grade scouts would enjoy, so 6th grade students at camp probably wouldn’t either.    I knew that just walking the nature trail took me an hour and 15 minutes over the weekend, so I wasn’t worried about filling the time because there would be plenty to talk about on the way.

I did the hike like I generally do a hike with my scouts.   Point out interesting things, trees, plants, etc.  and then further down the trail when we see it again, quiz them to see if they remember what it was called.

We started the hike at the big Catalpa tree – checking out the the huge leaves, the funny finger-like seed pods, and the fabulous nest of bees that have been living in that tree for decades. catalpa20speciosa20fruits

From there we started on the trail up towards Vesper Hill.  I pointed out the pokeberries that are right by the God is Nigh sign.  Talked about how it is poisonous… how the native americans and pioneers used it for a clothing dye… how they even cooked the berries into pies but that isn’t recommended because they are toxic.  pokeberry

Further up the trail past the scotch pines, I point out the fuzzy vines (my scouts know exactly what those are!!!) pivine

WhiteSnakeroot_04094and then some white flowering plants.  The white flowering plants are white snakeroot, also a poisonous plant!!  Mainly poisonous when eaten by livestock (cows) and then it makes their milk toxic and humans can get “milk sickness” from drinking the milk.  Not so much a problem these days but still shouldn’t eat that plant.  At this point, the kids are certain that anything and everything they touch will be poisonous.  LOL!  I told them, just don’t eat anything you find in the woods!!

Finally we get to a plant that they can touch… Jewelweed/Touch-me-not!  The seed pods were in great popping mode and we had fun with that.jewelweed

We talked about the black walnuts and how they would stain your hands if they opened them up.  We talked about erosion.  We looked at the damage from the summer wind storm.  Talked about how a forest is a living, changing, growing organism.  Saw tree roots from a tree toppled by the wind.  Saw some fabulous cherry wood (again as a result of storm damage).   Looked at decaying logs and talked about how the forest needs the decomposition to provide nutrients for the next generation of trees/plants.  There was a quick hum of “circle of life” by the one counselor and a reminder that one could eat the bugs in the decaying log like Timon, Pumba, and Simba did.   🙂

We looked at tulip tree leaves (my favorite tree, just ask my scouts)tulip-poplar-leaves

and sassafras tree leaves (we found all the different shapes).sassafras We talked about the things you can make with sassafras – tea & root beer mainly.  We talked about the importance of sassafras to camp counselors for fire starting – especially for 1 match fires.

We looked at Knoll Pond and examined the cattails.  Noted that while there are plenty of poisonous plants, cattails aren’t one of them and they can be eaten like celery, or you could make cattail pancakes.

We were impressed by the naturalists who took the time to bring unusual plants to circle Knoll Pond to provide food and shelter for the winter for the animals.  Like the Autumn Olive bushes (the berries weren’t as ripe as this photo)autumnOlive

and the Bald Cypress trees.  Neither of those plants being native to Ohio makes them extra special to be seen at Wanake.  We also looked at Lycopocium (ground moss) which is one of my favorite plants too.  It is rare and getting close to being protected (may be protected in some areas) because of the encroachment of humans.


Our hike took us full circle, with me quizzing them and giving them “bonus points” along the way.  They aren’t sure what the bonus points are for….  LOL!  I told them to tell their science teacher something they learned about nature on the hike and maybe she would give them some.

We ended up back at the frog pond where they captured a few frogs to play with.  No one was willing to kiss any.   😦

Then we made frog cookies.frogcookie

When we arrived at the frog pond, there was only 15 minutes left of the 2 hours.  So they didn’t have too much time to play and make their cute snack.  I think they had a decent hike.  I kept them talking and learning and earning “bonus points” for almost 2 hours.  It was a nice hike and a nice group of kids.   Hopefully the ones on Friday will be as fun.   😉

Aren’t we glad that my biology degree and that wildflower college class come in handy occasionally??

****none of the photos are of the actual plants we looked at today, I didn’t want to drag my camera along while I was in “teacher” mode.  They are all thanks to the search-ability of the internet.****

Where Do You Go?

Do you know this song?

“Where do I go when I need a shelter?
Where do I go when I need a friend?
Where do I go when I need some helping?
Where do I go? Back on my knees again…”


Do you have a physical place that you go as well?  Is there someplace that you retreat to that is a special place, a comforting place?

For me that place is Camp Wanake.  It has been like a second home since I was 4 or 5.  We came here as a family every year for Memorial Day and Labor Day.  I came here as a camper every summer that I could.  I was on staff for 4 summers.  I volunteered for years after that.  Now that I have my own family, again I come for those family camp weekends.  Our children come to camp every summer.  2 have been on staff (so far).  It is part of my blood.

What makes it so special?  Besides it living up to the meaning of its name “beautiful spiritual place among the hills?”  It is one of those places that never changes.  Sure, physically, there have been changes over the years… new buildings built, old ones torn down, buildings that were bathrooms turned into craft houses… additions to buildings, slight changes to camping programs… new property purchased, property sold, other property purchased…

But what doesn’t change are the basics.  God is Nigh!  The sign leading to Vesper Hill declares this and it is true.  There is a peace that settles over this land.  The spirit is the same from 1946 to today.

The dining hall, while now linoleum (instead of cement floor with shuffleboard triangles and 4 square painted on it), air conditioned, painted and other improvements, is still the dining hall.  The ceiling still has “oatmeal” for insulation.  You still have to “hop” your tables.  The kitchen still cooks the same foods (mostly).  The wood beams, the brick fireplace, the sandstone walls… all the same for the last 60+ years.  A hub of camp and a meeting place for everyone!

IMG_0687What else remains the same?  The smell of the cabins, the dilapidated pool shower house (really?  We were sure that wouldn’t withstand the 80’s and it is still here – it even survived the severe storms this summer that took down 100s of trees… none of which even came close to hitting it!), the smell of a campfire, the joy of children playing games in the yard in front of the barn, the frog pond, the trails, people singing, laughing, playing, making new friends, renewing old friendships, the views from inspiration points (though there are more trees now), the feeling of peace and rest and being home that comes over you when you drive down the dusty gravel driveway.

What memories are evoked as I drive down that driveway?  40 years ago… coming as a family and camping in our tent… my father teaching us about nature and loving nature… my dad singing, he loved to sing and he loved leading singing, especially at camp.  30 years ago… being on staff and meeting and loving some of the best people on earth and growing with them and being able to still call them friends after 30 years… people like Wayne, Kris, Tom, Billy, Russ… to name just  a handful.  There is something about the bond of working with each other 24/7 for 3 months that bonds you like no other.  10 (or so) years ago… bringing my children here as campers for their first time for a whole week (they had already been here as family campers) and then hearing their excitement and joy and chuckling at their tears and “re-entry issues” as we went home because camp is so wonderful no one ever wants to leave.  3 years ago… when my oldest was dropped off for her first year as a summer staff… so proud of her and her choice to be part of the ministry of serving God by leading and teaching children in God’s great outdoors and helping them come to know more about Jesus.  Of course there are all kinds of great memories in between, but those are the primary ones that come to mind first.

What has changed?  I could list so many things that have changed in my lifetime.  But none of them are significant enough to counter the feelings that being here evoke.  Some changes include:  the driveway, the “new/green” shower house, less apple trees, the loss of cabins 1, 2, 3, and 3A as well as the Porcelain Pagoda, turning the Cedar Chest into a craft cabin, building 2 new retreat centers, new pool system,  new caretaker’s house, new Ranch property, …. and so on… oh… and WIFI!   🙂   Some/Most of the changes in the last 30 years have been for the better.  Though, the WIFI could stand to have a booster since this post is now on day 2 of trying to get it to go.   🙂


I pray that this place remains basically unchanged in the next 60 years, so that my children’s children and grandchildren can also enjoy and grow and love in this special place.

This place has brought me peace through the years.  It has brought me love.  It has encouraged my children in closer walks with Christ.   What more can you want when you “..need a shelter… need a friend?”



Do you menu?  I don’t usually, but since I know that last year I seemed to not be able to cook many decent meals for my family because of my job and we always seemed to be scrounging, I decided to try something different.

So… I asked the kids for their 4 favorite meals and I would incorporate them in to a months worth of meals.  Some of the meals I will prepare, some (on days I’m not home early enough) others will have to prepare or finish.  September is done.  I have figured out what items I needed and went to the grocery store and got all necessary ingredients.  Only a few “fresh” items will need picked up at the beginning of some weeks to complete the meals.

There are some blank days for leftovers or for when we are at the football games/band shows.  Or maybe we’ll go out.

Best laid plans….  If September works, I’ll do it again in October.

The menu starts on September 3 after we get back from the weekend of camping at Wanake.

Sept. 3:  Parmesan chicken, mashed potatoes, corn

Sept. 4:  crockpot beef and noodles (someone else will make the noodles)

Sept. 5: pasta and meatballs (someone else will make)

Sept. 6:  football game

Sept. 7:  Italian Chicken, rice, and brocolli

Sept. 8:  blank

Sept. 9: Pancakes/Waffles and bacon (someone else will make)

Sept. 10:  Hotdog rollups & beans (someone else will make)

Sept. 11:  Crockpot

Sept. 12: Chicken Fries & Fries (someone else)

Sept. 13: football

Sept. 14: Cavalcade

It seems like a lot of “someone else will make” on there, but most of those days I’m not getting home till after 5pm.  So by telling everyone what is for supper, they can make it.  If they wait for me, it will be late and I will be crabby and tired and maybe not as likely to want to cook (oh, yeah, that is what happened most of last year).  The “someone else will make” meals are very simple and even the 11 year old could make them, so one should be able to assume that between the 17 year old, 14 year old, 11 year old, and 51 year old, “SOMEONE” will make dinner.  My money is on the 11 year old.   🙂