Category Archives: Everyday Life

The Boat Race

Two years ago, I shared about a boat race that the kids and their cousins participated in. Unfortunately, we missed it last year, as we weren’t on the East Coast yet, but we were excited to do it again this year.

The kids start off with decorating a boat.


Reed’s was “Reed’s Revenge” since he didn’t win last time.


Gus decided that he didn’t really want to drawn on it himself, but he wanted to tell me what to draw. A rainbow, clouds, his name, and then… everything. That’s what he wanted, “everything”. I did my best.

My super talented nephew working on his boat.

That actual boat race was a tiny bit chaotic, especially for my oldest nephew, who volunteered to be the one catching the boats at the end. But, it was a fun experience overall and the kids loved playing with their boats in the water.


Over the past couple of months, Gus got obsessed with fireworks. Two years ago, he was terrified, desperately clinging to me while I got him away from them as quickly as possible. Last year, he seemed to enjoy them. This year, he anxiously anticipated and counted down.

We enjoyed a 4th of July dinner with my family. My 16yo nephew made a festive dessert.

“You should take my picture.”

All four of them had matching shirts.

These two wanted a picture, with Reed batting his eye lashes.

We also had to light some fireworks off ourselves. Because we’re proud Americans. Only the little stuff, though. My favorite part about this picture is Reed and his cousin on the left side of the frame.

Gus finally got what he had waited so (im)patiently for. He jumped and danced around, delighting in each explosion.

It was a rainy day, and most of us huddled under a tarp, while Gus jumped around, loving the rain and the fireworks.

My mom and several of her grandkids. That’s my nephew with Lyuda in the back– she loves to be cuddling with anyone.

Gus loved them so, so much.

So much that when we were done with the city fireworks, we drove around to find a spot to see the fireworks of the amusement park nearby that sets them off. We ended up at the end of someone’s driveway.

Another night we did sparklers. It was my nephew’s birthday.

Lyuda was an awesome helper, who made sure the little ones could hold their own sparklers safely.

Not quite as great as fireworks, but still pretty awesome.


Saturdays have been my favorite day of the week this July. We’ve developed a routine. Where we live in the Midwest, we are surrounded by country. Gorgeous, wide-open spaces. If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that while I’m a hesitant Pennsylvanian-turned-Midwesterner, I adore wide open spaces.

On one of our first Saturdays here, we wondered what we should do with all of this free time. Monday-Friday, the kids go to the pool with my mom in the afternoon while I work. Saturday seemed like a long day without plans.

I suggested the mini-golf place about 25 minutes away. We’d give it a try. We brought a picnic along, and stopped at a park to play and eat first.

Before we could get to the mini-golf place, we saw signs for the steam train, so we had to go and check that out. Loud, messy, but interesting.

Then, mini-golf. Oh dear. With Gus? Just no.

18 holes turned out to be a terribly long game with kids who didn’t really have the patience for it. Plus, 6 people playing mini golf is too many. I don’t think we’ll attempt this again anytime soon.

We finished up mini-golf with ice cream, because we all needed a little pick-me-up after that.


This place does soft-serve in 24 flavors. I got mint chocolate chip with chocolate sprinkles. Yes, please.

The last thing that we wanted to do was stop and pick up some produce from the country stands. In this area, there are a ton of Mennonites who have produce stands Monday-Saturday.

This was one of our favorites. We sampled corn from all of the stands and theirs is the best.

So this became our Saturday routine. Ice cream and “Mennonite Land”, as I called it.

One of my dad’s favorites is this goat farm. He gets eggs and goat milk, kefir and cheese here.

A creative chicken coop.

One of my favorites for the aesthetics. Lots of flowers… and their whoopie pies were delicious too.

Unfortunately, we said goodbye to all of our favorite stops last week, as today we’re heading further west, to our big family reunion and then home to Kansas.


Until next year.

Summer, Summer

We officially have a new house. Aaron and the dogs are all moved in and the kids and I will be back in a few days to join them. Can’t wait.

At the end of June, we pretty much packed up our whole house with the help of my mom. We filled up this portable storage container with our stuff.

Then, my mom, the kids and I headed off the East Coast, like we usually do the month of July. We watched our house disappear in the rearview mirror.


So, on the East Coast… this month has been busy.  The bubble machine was a big hit.

Reed mastered the pogo stick in an afternoon.


Gus isn’t too interested in riding a bike, despite my attempts to interest him in a balance bike. He enjoys bringing me surprises, including this piece of corn he stored in his pocket.


Catching fireflies is a summer must.

The kids get to go to the pool every day with my mom while I work. They had two weeks of swimming lessons before we came out here and they just finished up two weeks more. I haven’t been to the pool with them recently, but I’ve heard that they made great progress.

Gus got two barbies to take to the pool with him, after playing with a little girl’s barbies every day. I drew tattoos on them as a way of marking them as his.

Gus has also progressed on getting his shoes on the right feet. But not before I took this photo.

The other thing standard about summer is spending time with my sister’s kids, their cousins. I joked to my mom recently that these 11 kids together seems like a gang, but they love being together.

Lyuda loves this little guy in particular.

I’ll share a few more posts soon with some photos and what we’ve been up to this summer, with an update on how Lyuda is doing!

The Next Chapter

We’ve been busy. I recently had someone comment on our Facebook page, checking in as I’d been quiet for so long. Oops!

Yes, we’re all fine. I’d say things are going a bit smoother than my previous post, but we’re also in this wild season called summer. It’s hard having four kids home all day and trying to work. On top of that, keeping up with the math and English lessons I have planned for Lyuda. Send coffee.


And… on top of that, we sold our house. And just last week, we found our new one. We’re under contract for both, moving in about 7 weeks.

We bought our current house when we’d been married for about 9 months. We chose our house and went under contract on it shortly before we committed to adopting Reed and Lena, and we moved in shortly after we started the adoption process.

Reed and Lena’s room, ready for them to come home

It’s been a good house to start… and grow our family in, but it’s time to move on. We tried to sell it unsuccessfully twice before. We even had family pictures taken at our house a few years ago, anticipating a move.

Almost 3 years later, we’re finally moving! Today was the inspection for our current house, and we’re awaiting to hear what they want us to fix. Wednesday will be the inspection for our new house.

We spent much of our afternoon at the dog park, waiting for the inspection to be done at our house.

3 kids. Big sister didn’t want to join the picture fun.

Big sister changed her mind and photobombed.26903177564_87c8678ef4

This was a funny moment. I looked up and counted my 4 dogs. Except I don’t have 4 dogs… I only have 3.

But my brain couldn’t quite process the 4 silver weimaraners in front of me… the kids didn’t even notice something was off. When I did point out the extra dog, they said “That’s Nina!” No guys, that’s not Nina… THAT’S Nina (the one furthest away from the camera).

We all had a good laugh and met this new weimaraner friend. I’ve met many other weimaraners, but I’ve never had one join our pack so seamlessly that I questioned how many dogs I own.

We also had fun playing in the mud.26903188194_ddee33813227512357575_a5272c4f8a

Back to the house talk– our new house will be a big change, but it should be a very positive one. We’re leaving our small, wonderful city, and moving to a tiny town about 45 minutes away. This will shorten Aaron’s commute by about 15 minutes every day. And while we’ll be living in a small, somewhat rural community, we’re on the edge of a city metro, taking just 30 minutes to get downtown. We’ll have a lot of museums, stores and other resources close by. We’ll be in a great school district that I’m confident can handle Lyuda’s English learning needs.

We’re also gaining more indoor and outdoor space– we’ll have a full acre for outdoor fun. And a finished basement for the kids to be loud, crazy and messy inside. And, we’re going from one bathroom to two and a half. We probably could benefit from 6 bathrooms, but I think having 2 more will help with our school mornings considerably!

The bittersweet part is leaving our friends, and the community which we know so well. Not that a 45 minute drive means we won’t see each other ever again, but it does mean fewer impromptu playdates and bumping into friendly faces at local events.

So, if I’m once again quiet, you can find me buried in boxes, wearing packing tape like a bracelet.