Things I Learned on Vacation

Vacation [vāˈkāSH(ə)n] noun: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.

  • There is no such thing as the word ‘rest’ for the Mom while on vacation.

Everyone still needs all the things they needed before. Everyone still says “mom” and many more times than need be. All we did was leave the house and drive many hours to keep doing most of the things we did here.

  • While on vacation the father of the tribe does more than he is given credit for.

When he gets sick and spends a day in bed and another day recovering, you quickly realize how much weight he pulls.

  • Watching your kids learn about history is fun.

I am not a big history lover like their Father. He could stand in a museum and read for hours. I, on the other hand, get all twitching and itchy after 10 minutes of reading. The kids were highly intrigued with the Titanic and came away with lots of new information.
They were especially interested in this Captian and his story.

  • Cell phone addiction is a serious problem and some people are in need of rehab.

We spent a few days at an indoor water park and the kids loved it. I mainly spent my time people watching and standing in the shallow water keeping an eye on Kennedy.
I knew that people are addicted to their phones, but this took it to a whole new level. Seriously, people could not put their phones away to swim! They had them around their necks in a waterproof case or just carried them in their hand while they swam. (or tried to swim) Some of the parents carried theirs but for the most part, it was the teenagers and a few younger kids.
I overheard a conversation and I assumed it was a mom and her son. She was trying to get him to put his phone in her bag while he went into the water. He had all the attitude in the world as stated that he would not be putting his phone down for anything, not even swimming. As I said, rehab!

  • One little boy can do a lot of damage to some wings.
  • It takes a lotta, lotta food to feed this tribe when you eat out!
  • Little things can create great arguments.
    Like pushing the elevator buttons.
  • When the youngest of the clan calls from the backseat of the van and says she doesn’t feel good … you better MOVE! Now! Enough said on that subject.

  • Although it might not bother me in the least,
    fear of heights is a very real thing for some people.

This fear was much to the amusement of the other person on the lift with her.
We took the tram and then the lift to the top of the mountain. One of the girls had a much harder time than the other one. I’m all like, “Just close your eyes and don’t look around.” I was informed that doesn’t work because your mind is still working.

  • You know Spring has arrived when little flowers appear in little hands.
    (and you can’t resist those eyes.)
  • TN has some wicked pollen and northern people get attacked quite viciously.
  • I should probably not move to an area with a high tourist count. I would have to forever and always be repenting for swearing in traffic.

  • You take yourself (and your brain) along on vacation.

There is nothing like leaving it all behind, forgetting and not thinking about stuff. I sat in the big rocking chair on the back porch of the cabin with a coffee cup and contemplated life for a long time. The good, the bad and the ugly that has come my way.

Life keeps moving, changing, the words of my story keep flowing, page after page. There are pages written that bring laughter, when I can smile and say, “God is good!”

But when the paragraphs of fiery trials are written, what is my response? Do I want to rip that page out of my story and scream “No! Why?” Do I constantly want to grab the pen and reword it to suit me?

I can ask “Why?” all day long, but generally, there is no answer to that question. Instead, I often hear three quiet words from Him, “For My glory!” When the pages with trials are being written, am I looking for ways to bring glory to God in the midst of it or am I fighting, kicking and still asking why?

Am I allowing Him to write my story for His glory?
I cannot change what happened, but I can control my response.
It’s ugly, I don’t like this part of the story, but am I willing to say,
“Use me, for your glory!”

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Of School Things and more

If I were writing a Budget letter, I would start with the weather.
I would talk about how warm it was in February and how cold it is in March.

I would talk about the snow we had on Friday and how blue the sky was.
I would talk about how much snow we had this week and the fact that there was no school yesterday and the fact that it was in the 20’s and the fact that my three youngest stayed out for hours and the fact that I have no desire to leave the house.

But I’m not a Budget writer so I won’t start with all that. Instead, I will ramble on and on and tell you all the things that have been happening that one would not write in the Budget if one were a Budget writer.

~~~

Last week was simply full of running to and fro. Every day felt like a marathon. Marathon, funny I should compare anything to a marathon since I do not know the first thing about running one and would most assuredly pass out after running a simple half mile in this unconditioned body. Speaking of run-on, that would include the previous quite a few sentences today.

We made cut-out cookies one day for the Ohio State Open house at school.
What an affair of floured fun that was. Cut-out cookies and I do not get on well at all, in fact, I think they dislike me very much.

Every year our school does an open house and the kids are in charge. This year they studied the state of Ohio. Each group was in charge of a different set of years and had displays set up with information. It was very informative if you enjoy history.

There were people of all eras represented.

Each group was supposed to make a diorama to display. Obviously, this group’s era included the Wright Brothers.

Reagan was in her glory that night. She was so, so happy that she didn’t end up in a ‘boring modern day group!’ 🙂 Her time frame was 1786-1800 and let me tell ya, there is quite a lot I know about that time period due to helping with research!

Dakota’s research involved listening to us explain things while he spun in circles and picked on the sisters. He did watch some videos on the French and Indian war that brought things to life for him.

This group’s diorama was the Erie canal.
There is a canal full of water complete with boats and all behind the greenery.

Ohio supplied seven presidents for the United States. In a clashing of time line, we have President Grant and from the table next door, our very own governor, Mr. John Kasich.

If there is anything you would like to know about Ohio right now, stop by the school. I’m sure they could answer some questions.

And this one. She would have liked to be in the group that studied the 1950’s by the looks of things but instead she kept her Mother busy running marathons.

~~~

Other random things…

Do yourself a favor, make some scones.
Drizzle a coffee icing over them!

-There was a good-time brunch here on Friday.
-I made so much food on Saturday one would think I was feeding the five thousand.
-Sunday was too short.
-Time changed whipped me. How old does that make me considering it seemed to effect no one else living here?
-Confession: Snow days are not my favorite. If you are not a Mom, I will just leave you to wonder on this one.
-I was so hungry for donuts and cinnamon rolls after browsing facebook on a snow day. What’s up with everyone acting all Pioneer Woman and making me feel bad?
-The people living here will want food again tonight. What are you cooking up?
-Does my entire world revolve around food? It would seem so.
-My mental stability is entirely too unstable right now to listen to chewing children munching something crunchy.
-Speaking of food, what is your quick, last resort meal?

~~~

 Good day all!

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Of Taking Photos

Do you take photos?
What kind of photos do you take?
Do you use a camera? Do you use a phone?
Do you make your kids pose and smile?
Do you take photos when they are playing and doing normal things?
Does your house need to be clean for a photo?
Do you move the junk in the background to make it look like Pinterest?

However, whatever way, please, just pick up your phone or camera and use it.
Take photos!

Make them smile and say cheese.
And then take some of your everyday life!
I can’t say it enough. Just take photos.

You think you have the memory of an elephant, but I guarantee you won’t always remember what your 4th child looked like jumping on the sofa pillows that were spread all over the living room floor. Or for that matter, how the 11-year-old sits when she reads.

I would like to tell you to pick up a camera and use it, but if you won’t, that’s fine. At least use your phone to take photos. After you do that, save them somewhere and then print them. Two days from now when your two-year-old gives the phone a bath, you’ll want the photos you took today.

Don’t make them look and smile every time. The inner me wants to do that. I want to fix and primp and say, “Smile nicely. Look at me. Behave. Look normal.” All the while what I am really doing is creating an unnatural look because what child stands still, smiles nicely and is cleaned up 100% of the time? None. And while you’re at it, let the mess in the background. No one has a house straight from a magazine.
(well most of us don’t anyway)

Take photos of the kid covered in chocolate pudding.
(and print them, like the one on my fridge)
Take photos when you stop for ice cream in the summer or go to the park.


Take photos of them wrestling on the floor after supper.
(I would post that one, but one of them probably wouldn’t approve) 🙂
Take photos when they fall asleep on your lap with their rattiest clothes on.
Take common, ordinary, everyday photos!

Now let’s talk about you, the primary photo snapper. Are there any photos of you? Hand your camera or phone to your husband or kids and tell them to take pictures. They will love it and who cares if you think you look fat, your hair aren’t combed or whatever. In 20 years, you’ll think you look great!

Be intentional about photographing and videoing your family. Eric’s aunt texted me one day and asked if we owned a video camera? No, we don’t, we used to but we just use our phones now. “Buy one!” she said. They had just watched their home videos from when her kids were young and she couldn’t believe all the things she had forgotten.

Someday you will be glad for every single photo you have taken of your people and wish for even more. I love every photo we have of Tristan. I wish we had more. The other day I came across some more that I didn’t know we had and they are a treasure. We don’t care how he looks, we are just so glad for a few more visual memories of him.


Take a photo of the after school mess, the projects, the crafts and the one million things they can drag out to create one little thing.

All that to say, pull out your phone or camera, take some pictures, hand it off to have some taken of you and smile!

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Of the Deep Issues of Life (or not)

How is it that you can arrive home from town with a trunk full of groceries, walk in the house and immediately put something on your grocery list?

Why is it that a Mom just can.not.wait to go to bed, while the kids have to be herded, prodded and pushed there? But as soon as their lights go out, Mom doesn’t go to bed. Instead, she props open her eyelids and stays up much longer then she should. Why?

Why is on nights when you put the kids to bed and then go to bed shortly thereafter, they all stay in bed? And then on nights when you stay up until half past the moon, every other kid and their brother gets up in need of something or other and you have to quickly hide your snack? Every single time!

How can it be so that when the child of the household with the least amount of hair is told to take a shower, he will ask every.single.night. “Do I have to wash my hair?”

Whyyyyy do they always want supper?

And why do I wait until an hour before our evening meal and then go into panic mode over what to make? Where is the structured, organized woman inside me that plans everything to a T? She seems to have gone missing.

feb-17-11

Why are Monday mornings so dreadful? Is it because I didn’t keep up with the housework on Sunday and have a mound of dishes? Or maybe it’s Mt. Laundry down the hall waiting on me? Or maybe it’s a stigma of my brain just saying, “It’s Monday again. Let it be blue!”

Why did the creators of children’s toothpaste choose the color of brightest blue?

Why is it when we study memory verses for school that there is absolutely no retaining memory whatsoever. none. But the next day the teacher texts and says, “Word perfect!” How?

Why is it that after so many years of battling small children during church that when you find yourself sitting with only your 10-year-old at your side, you don’t even know how to concentrate anymore?

Why do I bother cleaning up around here? It takes less than 2.5 seconds after they hit the door for the fur to hit the ceiling and what a mess it is!

How is it that my children were born with such a marvelous knowledge of everything? No matter what advice, direction or command I give them, the reply is always the same, “I KNOW!” (now to ensure the proper understanding of this, one must draw out that last word long on the accent and the octaves rising over the syllables of the O‘s.
“I K-N-O-O-O-W!“ They know everything. It truly is amazing.
But thee most unbelievable part of it is this, 2 minutes after they K-N-O-O-O-W, they don’t know. When you ask them a question as to why they did or did not do a certain thing, the reply is always the same, “ I didn’t K-N-O-O-O-W!”
Tell me, how can this be? They K-N-O-O-O-W, but yet they didn’t K-N-O-O-O-W.

feb-17-13

Why is it that my clutter doesn’t bother me that much at all, but when the kids fill the entire desk with their stuff, I like to lose my mind with it all?

Why is it after I have just swept and mopped the floor that the sudden urge to eat crackers hits them all?

Why can my children not find their library book straight up in their backpack but they can see my candy wrapper at the bottom of the trash bag from 5 days ago?

Why do we wait until the last minute to do the nasty jobs? Why not do them immediately and get it over with?

With the amount of tangled, gross hair I extracted from the innards of my sweeper, someone in this house should be bald!

Does it seem to you that Praise and Worship songwriters these days must wear out their copy and paste method?

Why is everything I love to eat bad for me?

feb-17-12

Why do little people feel the need to snip around on their hair?

Yet the same three-year-old these days, when did she become so grown up? Like sitting and sipping cold coffee and when I go to take the cup she says, “Hey! I’m drinking that!” And when she saw her name in the church bulletin announcing her upcoming birthday and she says, “Hey! We need to get home and get started on my cake!”

How is it that a kid can rip, run, jump, and tear around the house for an hour but when asked to go downstairs and get something from the freezer … my word, they almost pass out from sheer exhaustion. It is as if their Mother had forced them to climb Mt Rushmore without oxygen!

Why do we wait until someone is gone to tell everyone about their strengths? Why don’t we tell them while we still have them with us?

feb-17-14

How is it that I was able to keep this plant alive for almost 5 months?
It loves dry and unattended soil.

And where is my urge to go to the basement and sew costumes for the school play?
MIA.

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Winter Days

News from around the farm…
Well, not really because we have no animals other than our fat cat named Jack, who is always free to a good home since he’s not technically ours but rather the neighbor’s, but I would give him away anyway!  Now wasn’t that a great run on sentence to start out with?! As far as news, I don’t know… January was fairly relaxed and rolled into the next month that has the weirdest spelling. This month has been crazy. All kinds of things happening at the same time. Too many things.

feb-17-8

Monday was butchering day… does that interest any of you? 🙂
I know some people just perish at the thought of butchering, but it really doesn’t bother me. It was something we did every winter when I was a kid so it has good memories.

~~~

Food wise around the farm….

feb-17-3

Madison continues to bake.
Not everything turns out perfect and this was one of those times. 🙂
The macaroons were not growing feet! ??
Don’t ask me.

feb-17-1-honey-dutch-blend

This stuff.
Oh, my word. Make it. Eat it.

It’s called Honey Dutch Blend. It’s not my recipe, it comes from my friend Anna and I think it came her way from someone in our big Miller family, never the less, make and eat. If you are a health nut, just skip over this recipe and keep reading. If you appreciate all things sticky, ooey, gooey and good, just turn a blind eye to the ingredients and enjoy it. 🙂

Honey Dutch Blend

1 box Honey Combs – 1 box Rice Chex -1 box Corn Chex – 1 bag of Pretzels
Mix together in a large bowl.

1 c. Honey
1 c. Karo
2 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
4 sticks of Butter
Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes
Add 1/2 tsp baking soda
Stir and quickly pour over cereal mixture.
Spread on wax paper until dry.

It makes a huge batch and it can be cut in half if you wish.

We also made Mocha Brownie dessert the other night.

feb-17-2-mocha-brownie

This has got to stop, though!
When there is all this good food in the house I have no self-control. none.
Thankfully, we took this to a family gathering and only had half of it left to tempt me. With a crew like mine, that was only enough for one round of dessert.

~~~~~

Do your kids like to listen to stories?
Go HERE and listen to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
Reagan loves them! I think she was born in the wrong era.

~~~

School Days for the kids…
Our teachers do a great job keeping the winter months exciting. Every week there is one or two days with something happening.

They had “clash day” in January but those pictures make me shudder!
One day was “Missionary Day.” The top activity for that day was when the kids smuggled Bibles into the school and hid them. The teachers spent quite a lot of time searching and declared that next year they will bring in reinforcements because the kids are getting better at it every year.
There is cozy-day, popcorn day, exchanging lunches, snack day and more. One day every family is supposed to bring a gallon of milk… hot chocolate day?

Last week we celebrated 100 days of school. They were supposed to dress like a 100-year-old person. I wasn’t home that morning but they needed very little help! One of them especially loved this day.
feb-17-7

I told Dakota to just wear sweatpants because if I were a 100-year-old, I would sit in my chair all day like that. 🙂
Reagan happily dug through a box of old lady dress up clothes I had for other occasions.
Madison didn’t know what to wear so I told her I would stop at Goodwill. I did, and there it was in all its glory for only $4. I took it up to check out and the two little old ladies working the register picked it up and started exclaiming. I opened my mouth to tell them why I was buying it when one says, “This is just beee-u-tiful!” I quickly closed my mouth without speaking and left grinning.

feb-17-9

Yesterday we spend 3 hours on the tubing slopes with the honor roll kids. It was a lovely, bright and sunny day and the kids quickly warmed up! To say they were hungry for lunch after 3 hours of this was an understatement.

~~~

The princess and I have been busy.
feb-17-4

Her room was always just leftover colors from Dakota and she dreamed of having a pink room. Well, her mother is not a lover of all things pink, but oh well, it shouldn’t be too hard to repaint when she is done with pink.

I did my usual painting thing. Started the day by planning to clean the room. Oh well, may as well paint a coat of pink, ah shoot, while it’s drying we’ll do a little gray. Hey, the pink is dry, let’s give it another coat, and by now I would hate to mess up another day, let’s just finish it all! And so by 4:30 we were done. She says, “I didn’t think we were going to do it all today!” Well, neither did I.

feb-17-5

She was happy, happy, happy that night!

~~~

feb-17-6

When you have a birthday and can almost not get to your gift because everyone else wants to see it too.

The princess has a birthday coming up too. She is all concerned about me going to town alone sometime or else she won’t have a gift for her birthday!
Unknown to her it’s already in hiding.

~~~

feb-17-10

Psalms 91:1-2
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I am trusting in Him.

What do we need in a storm?
shelter. rest. refuge. safety.
Where do we find that?
In Jesus.

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Kicking January Blues …

… along with other nonsense.

jan-17-2

The month of snow, when there is very little of the white fluff.
I am quite okay with that, though.

We are currently staying home a lot and I am happy with that. That is the one thing I love about winter time. There is a constant stream of projects and jobs to be done around here, most of which I seem to never even start.

But January is whipping my tail and I’m not sure what to do about it. Usually, the sunless days and endless clouds don’t bother me, but this year it is. At the risk of offending a winter lover, I will say that I am thankful for the bits of warmer weather we have been having. The cold and I do not get on well.

Maybe the answer to my problem would be to start listening like my Dad does. At 60 some odd years of age, he is a guru of the mp3 world. He has an iPod and ear buds that are ever present. At first glance, one might think he is a teenager that needs his constant music, but no, he listens to messages from God’s Word. I do the downloading for him and one of us loads the player and he is set for a few weeks. It doesn’t take him long to consume an inordinate amount of sermons.

This just might be the answer to my winter blues … start listening. Eric would probably tell me to start with, “Likewise ye wives, be in subjection” that is downloading as we speak.

On the listening note, if you are a Mom of littles, how do you do it? There is constant noise and needs around here. I’m pretty sure I could never concentrate on what was being said, or wear ear buds for that matter! Because, horrors, what if Mom couldn’t hear the many, many questions being asked of her?

~~~~

jan-17-6

In other news, we have recently introduced ourselves to a new food item, not that it’s new to anyone else, we had just never made it before. Crepes, we have come to find, are quite delicious.

jan-17-7

Not a new food item, but one that this boy loves.
Madison loves to bake but she sure wishes that her Dad and brother liked to eat something besides plain old, boring, chocolate chip cookies.

~~~~

jan-17-5

Anyone else out there with a first grader in the house? His teacher is keeping track of how many books they read. Oh, the stress of sounding out all those words just to get one more book on his list.

My big question of the day is this:
Why does listening to a first grader read make you so sleepy and in need of a nap?

jan-17-4

Others in our house have no such problem with sounding out the words and will willingly read all the time. Day or night, whether there are jobs to do or not, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or hiding in a closet, ever present is their book. If the youngest two take after the oldest two, in a few years we shall have a quiet and peaceful house. (but only after a trip to the library)

~~~~

jan-17-10

Mom made this for me when I was her size.
It may or may not have taken a hefty bribe to get her to put it on and take a picture.

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If she isn’t plastered to my side, I might want to check around for her.
This day she bathed her cloth baby doll. A little time spent hanging by the wood stove solved the problem.

~~~~~

 dr-john-douglas-adam

This!
“Christ was the home of his thoughts.
Whenever his mind was free from other matters
it would turn to Christ.”

~~~

simply-encourage

Use your words. They are powerful.
Most often you have no idea how much your words are worth to someone.
To know that you care, that you are thinking about them, to know that you took the time to say something or write a note, even the smallest gesture holds worth.

jan-17-3

Use your words!
(even if you are just encouraging a cousin
who has been in the bathroom a really long time)

Be powerful with your words today and that might help kick your winter blues!

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Of October’s Days

oct-2016-9

October showed off in spectacular colors this year.
It was amazing to drive around and just fill your eyes with God’s finery.

October was also filled to the brim.
Birthdays, outings, parties, photo shoots, editing, school functions, a funeral, family get-togethers, traveling, and stress. And after all of that, add all the usual “mom things” to fill in the cracks and there were days when I just wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed.

But I made it, but here is hoping for a calm November.

~~~

oct-2016-1

A reason to celebrate in the Hostetler family is when someone turns 60. If it is a sibling, the siblings and spouses all spend a few days together. If it is a sister-in-law, just the ladies get together for a few days.

Now you can all play the Mennonite game and say,
“Oh my word, I didn’t know you were related to them!” 🙂

oct-2016-2

The one having the birthday is allowed to invite her daughters and in-laws, so we were privileged to spend a few grand days with them because it was our Mama Carol’s turn. We missed Melissa since she was unable to be with us.

Try this sometime.
Gather up your sisters and your Mom and spend a few days together doing a lot of nothing but eating and talking.
Or spend a few days with your Mom and her sisters.
Or even with your husband’s Mom and sister in laws. 🙂
It will be time well spent.

~~~

oct-2016-6

We were in IN one weekend.
They say pictures never lie, well I should beg to differ, but doesn’t this look like the most well behaved little gang of grandkids you’ve ever seen? 🙂

oct-2016-7

This little man is about as cute as they get!

oct-2016-3

One morning we had Grandma’s specialty, sugar donuts as we call them, on the back porch. They were for special occasions when we were kids and now the grandkids still get them sometimes. Deep fried biscuits rolled in cinnamon-sugar, if you wondered.

oct-2016-5

Tim, or rather Reagan, cooked a pot of ham and beans one night to go with our cornbread. She was in her element, as you can see.

oct-2016-4

Not all little boys are privileged to have a Grandpa like this guy does.
They have a special bond.

~~~

Our school children took a trip to an Amish farm last week.

oct-2016-11

When I walked in and saw this,
I sank into a deep, dark depression
at the thought of all that canning.
I will never let them see my canning shelves.

oct-2016-8

I don’t do a lot of selfies, but when you have a friend like this begging for one with you, you must simply oblige. And the light was bad and is making my hair much more colored than they actually are, just so you know.

oct-2016-12

We saw and fed a lot of animals that day and the kids loved it.
This is kind and gentle Sammy and he will always be remembered by me. To make a wild story short, he was a little over-eager to get to his food and he managed to get his curled horn around my leg at one point. 10 days later, I still have a rather significant bruise in memory of him.

~~~

oct-2016-13

This night was just what I needed in the middle of everything else.
These kind friends blessed us with a concert and dinner.
This song spoke to me that night.

~~~

oct-2016-10

Leaves, leaves and more leaves.
My neighbor man says to me, “I heard you blowing leaves more than once, you know that’s useless, right?” My reply to him, “If I wait until they are all down, we would never be able to get through them!”

oct-2016-15

If you live in a flat, open, tree-less property and are pining away for a leaf or two, come on over and we’ll fill your cup!

~~~

Get started writing your thankful list!
Good day to you!