I’m kinda-sorta kid free this week!

Luke’s church camp and Gabe’s VBS both fell on the same week. VBS is from 9-4 so it’s a good chunk of the day that I have to myself.

I love to be with the boys. I’m so grateful that I get to be home with them and I genuinely enjoy their company. But I relish this alone time because it’s hard to get anything “extra” done when they are around all of the time.

So this week I’m:

  • Planning my sister’s baby shower
  • Catching up on scrapbooking
  • Planning our next family vacation
  • Going out to eat and ziplining with Ben
  • Catching up on an online e-learning course
  • Binge-watching movies with Ben

I’m also working all day on Friday so that day will be sort of a bust, but that’s okay because Ben is super busy with work and can only hang out so much.

Gabe is home in the evenings, but he’s been so worn out that he’s happy to just read and maybe watch a couple videos. I might drag him and Ben out to see the glass exhibit one of these evenings if he can stay awake.

The ladies at camp have been posting pictures throughout the day so we can see what the kids are up to. Luke already has a nasty scrape on his arm, but otherwise seems to be doing well.

Gabe has been LOVING VBS. He comes home excited every day. Today he was chosen to go up on stage and play a game. He did so willingly and won and was so excited and proud of himself. I love to see him stepping out of his comfort zone.

I’m sure this week will fly by quickly, but I’m going to stretch it as much as I can and make the most of it while it lasts!

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Don Robinson State Park – Blue Trail

A much-welcome cool front has come through Missouri which means we were able to get out and about this weekend.

A new state park opened up just 20 minutes from us. We’ve been meaning to visit for a while, but it just never worked out. Until now.

The park was so well done! I can’t believe we have this gem so close to home!

There are two trails at the top. We chose the blue trail because it’s just 2.4 miles vs the red trail that comes in at almost exactly 4 miles. It still took us a good two hours!

The trail was beautiful! 

Old Stone Wall

The Nolen Men out on the wall

We fount a tall tree with railroad spikes driven into the side so that it could be climbed. The spikes went wayyyy further than any of us were comfortable with but all 4 of us climbed at least part of the way.

Luke up a tree

Gabe up a tree


Some trails are just trails through the woods. And that’s fine because it’s still exercise outdoors, but this trail had lots of lovely things to look at which held our interest. I’m really excited to go back and see what the other trails have to offer. Who knew such beauty could be found so close to home?

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Gabe’s Room Finished

Gabe’s room is finished! Or at least finished enough.

We found this at Goodwill one day and my penguin-obsessed boy had to have it.

Here’s the bedroom from the doorway. He chose the colors – blue and black. I was hesitant, but he loves it and it does seem like it will carry him through the teen years. I so don’t want to paint again.

We found the bedding at IKEA, on clearance, for $10. The picture ledges had been in the room, on the other wall, we just repainted them black and moved them over here.

Removing the top bunk sure makes the room seem more open! This room feels huge now!

Oh, and he’s the one who chose the “G-O-D” letters. Cracks me up. I’m hoping to find some artwork for the ledges and maybe a poster or a big “G” for the head of the bed.

Here’s the closet. Gabe didn’t want the doors on his closet anymore and I couldn’t argue too much because they were cheap, flimsy doors anyway. We ended up having plenty of paint left over so I went ahead and painted the closet. I have some blue bins coming that I’ll use on that top shelf to disguise all the schtuff.

When he gets older (and bigger) we’ll probably take out the lower shelf and put a real dresser in there.

The hanging chair is from IKEA and it’s actually something we’ve had for years. It was boxed up and sitting in the basement. But now it’s up and it’s a fun little nook.

The posters are from Good Mythical Morning, one of the boy’s favorite Youtube shows.

Getting some reading in.

Gabe’s favorite part of the room are the shelves. He wanted his room to be more like a library. We found this configuration at IKEA and it fits perfectly. He loves it. We just need to get him a step stool so he can reach things better.

This kiddo loves books so much. He specifically requested some “really big dictionaries.” One of the schools Ben services was selling off a bunch of books and he noticed a big dictionary. They ended up giving it to him and then they dug up two more and gave him those as well. They are HEAVY and they are a dream come true to my little logophile.


Dictionary collection

His room doesn’t have a theme, it’s just a “boy room.” There are all kinds of boy things and Gabe things. Penguins, Minecraft, Star Wars, Harry Potter, weapons cache, books and stuffed animals.

Minecraft section

So, that’s that. We’ll probably add a few things here and there and I’m sure the book collection will only grow, but I’m okay with that.

I’m glad to finally be done with this project. I’ve worked on it all month long and am ready to move on to the next project: Luke’s room. There’s always something to work on and look forward to!

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Sandy Creek Covered Bridge

We haven’t been here since last Fall!

The heatwave broke and the days have become much more tolerable. We met up with some friends and enjoyed a few hours wading, swimming, exploring, and catching.

Black-eyed Susan


Trying to catch fish

Here fishy, fishy

These were blooming on the banks.

We stayed until about lunch time and then, tired and hungry, headed home. It was a perfect summer day!

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King Tut Exhibit

The heat is obscene here this week. Every day is over 100 degrees!

We made plans to meet up with Gabe’s friend at the Science Center so that we could stay indoors. I figured the kiddos would just play for a while, but there was a traveling exhibit on King Tut so, on a whim, we decided to buy tickets.

It was $46 for myself and the boys, BUT, it was really well done. You start off looking at a few exhibits and reading a lot of plaques. Then comes a movie. The movie tells the story of the man who found Tut’s tomb. After the movie, you move through a series of huge props (some replicating entire sections of the tomb).  I read a book about Egypt this year and the boys and I learned about ancient Egypt in school so it was neat to do something that helped solidify all of that info.

The exhibit ended up taking most of our time there and could have easily taken more. It was information overload. The kids did really well, but they could only read/listen to so much. Nothing like 2 hours of history in one day!

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Geocaching Class

In trying to make the most of our MOBOT membership, I signed us up for a geocashing class at Shaw Nature Reserve.

It was a class for beginners. Or should I say, Beginners. My boys were the oldest boys there.

The class itself was fine. The instructor was nice and very informative and the GPS units were provided, even though you can use your phone, so it was nice to get some experience with those. My only complaint was that they need to do a better job staggering people because the caches are found along a loop. There were 3 parties. One went one way, the second went the other. It was awkward so I said that we’d hang out at the playground for a bit (though it was really too hot for that). Even with holding back, we still caught up to the group ahead of us and continued to do so with each stop.

At any rate, Shaw Nature Reserve is beautiful and it’s impossible to have a bad time there.

They’ve had their outdoor classroom for a while, which is really neat. There’s a large net that the kids can climb on, huge hollowed tree trunks for the kids to climb through and so much more.

What I don’t remember is the Woodland Trail. It’s a trail that winds around the pond and features all kinds of neat things like an elf house, a critter house, a cool fallen tree bridge and a lot more. This is the trail we followed to find the caches so the experience itself was neat.

Queen Anne’s Lace




Compass Flowers


Fun bridge


We decided we want to do more geocaching so I created an account at I was surprised to learn that caches really are hidden everywhere, not just remote locations and hiking trails. It will be a neat way to kill a few minutes here and there when we’re out and about and have some time to kill.



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Gabe’s Room

After we added onto our house, two years ago now, we moved Luke into our old bedroom and Gabe was left with the old bedroom. It was the only room in the house that still hadn’t been painted since moving in.

Ben built some bunk beds which you can see in this post. Eventually I put a few shelves on the wall and Gabe added a couple posters to the wall, but not much else has really happened in there.

We’ve been promising to paint for well over a year now and it’s just never happened. I was determined not to put it off any longer. I dug up the can of paint we bought just for this purpose and we all decided that it was too baby-ish now.

So off we went to Lowe’s where Gabe picked out a bright blue. It was not my first choice and I tried to talk him out of such a bright blue and into more of a muted tone. He would have none of it and then decided that his accent color should be black. Ooookay.

So, bright blue it is.

I warned him that we would *just* be painting. He wasn’t crazy about the red accents and he didn’t really want the upper bunk anymore, but I told him we just didn’t have the time or money to do a full overhaul. Paint and nothing else, mister!

But then Ben went in to repair the hole in the wall where the doorknob had broken through the drywall and he said it only made sense to go ahead and take down whatever shelves Gabe didn’t want so he could repair those holes at the same time. Fine, whatever.

Before pictures. Before we decided to even take anything down. Gabe was not sad to see that taupe color go. You know, taupe, every child’s dream bedroom color.

As he worked, I guess he got inspired because he then said he wanted to go ahead and do something fun or cool in the room. Since he’d just been given a raise we could afford it. I told him that, out of all of Gabe’s ideas, the one that sounded best to me was a whole wall of bookshelves. We measured it out, looked on IKEA, and then found a solution that would work.

So off to IKEA we went. The shelves were big and heavy and the two of us just managed to get them on the truck. Thankfully, Luke is just as strong as I am, so he was able to help us unload when we got home.

We got back to work on the room when Ben stopped again and said that, really, it only made sense to go ahead and take down the top bunk now so that he could go ahead and patch those holes and I could paint it all at once. Sigh.

So we pulled down the top bunk and then he had to cut a 2×4 down to use as a leg since the ladder was no longer there to act as the 4th leg of the bottom bunk.

By this point, it was the 4th of July. We’d already committed to attending a party hosted by friends at church. I was so tempted to call it off and just keep working. I hate to shift gears when I’m in the middle of things. But we went, had a blast, and then resumed working on the room the next evening.

Ben put together on of the shelves and dragged it into the room. Oh no! It was way too short! We’d grabbed the wrong shelves. Dang it. So we packed everything back up and headed back to IKEA. We returned everything including the shelf we’d built and then made our way down the the warehouse.

Oh what dorks we are. It turns out we’d had the right shelves all along. We just needed shelve extenders. Basically, little shelves that you add to the top of the existing shelves to expand their height. Soooo, we had to REBUY and RELOAD and RE-UNLOAD all of those shelves and the shelf extenders, to boot. Egg on face.

We spent all evening Thursday on that bedroom since Luke’s friends would be over on Friday. Not that they care what Gabe’s bedroom looks like, but because all of Gabe’s stuff was strewn about the house; Luke’s room, the hallway, the computer room. It was a wreck.

The paint was dry, the shelves were up and loaded, and I was able to start taking the old shelves and things that he no longer wanted down to the basement to get them out of our hair.

We worked late into the night, but it came together really well and the house was actually presentable the next morning before Luke’s friends showed up.

There are just a couple more tweaks to be added and then I’ll do an update post. It came together really well and he’s so excited about it. The blue has really grown on me. I wouldn’t want to see that color every day, but Gabe loves color and it makes him so happy.

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The Dog Days of Summer

We’ve been busy but it’s been a good busy. There’s nothing like piling on a bunch of projects to make the days fly by!

I signed Gabe up for swimming lessons and we agreed to pet sit for some friends while they are on (a three week) vacation. This means that for the entire month, up until now, we’ve been driving into Eureka It’s not far, but it is in the opposite direction from where everything else (chiro, music, shopping) is located. So that’s added an extra element of busy.

The pet sitting was good, though. The boys have been begging for guinea pigs for a while now and they got to take care of three of them for 3 weeks. I’ve not had another request since. Yes!

Swim lessons have plodded along. Gabe is afraid of the water and he is very hesitant, in general, to try new things. It’s made for a very frustrating experience. His attitude has improved, though. He no longer dreads lessons. I did get to work with him a bit, using our friend’s pool pass and even that little bit of extra time in the water did him some good and showed improvement. So that’s something. I’m hoping he’ll actually be able to swim by the time the pool closes.

A lot of progress was made on our outside project, but the the heat started in earnest and we abandoned the project. I covered the remaining grass with hideous blue tarps and am just ignoring it for now. I just cant.

So, of course, we started an indoor project. Gabe’s bedroom. We tore his room apart and then had to hustle to get it back together, somewhat, prior to Luke’s party. An in-depth post is in the works.

We spent the 4th with some new friends at church. They are the best hosts. The kids love their swimming pool. The husband worked at a fireworks stand and was paid in fireworks so it was an amazing show. We met another couple from church there who are new to the area and are also homeschoolers. A big group of us spent most of the night (after dinner and before fireworks) playing a new card game and we had so much fun.

On the 7th, we threw another birthday party for Luke and his friends. They all have passes to Six Flags so Ben took them there for a few hours and then they came back here for lunch, cake, ice cream and hanging out. Several of them stayed the night. They had a blast.

We played board games with Paul and Amanda on the 9th. I feel like we just don’t have time to hang out with them like we used to and I miss that. We’ve been on a good streak, though, with the games we play. Scythe is the big one we played that night and we all really liked it.

On Tuesday I did some office work at my chiro’s office. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that before, but I helped out a bit while the main receptionist was on vacation and I’ve picked up a few hours here and there since then. Now, the receptionist is going to be scaling way back and another helper is on maternity leave so it looks like I may fill in on a more regular basis which will be good for me.

I took the boys swimming on Wed. the 12th. It was a subdivision pool so there were only a handful of people there. Luke brought a friend so they entertained each other while Gabe and I practiced jumping in the pool, floating, and putting our heads under. Gabe made huge progress and really enjoyed his time. It was blazing hot and I ended up burning a bit, but it was such a good time.

The next day, Thursday, the boys and I went out to Shaw Nature Reserve for a geocaching class. I’ll do a separate post on that.

This past weekend was fairly chill. I wasn’t feeling great. I volunteered, as usual, at the thrift store. Then I settled in for a movie while Ben took the boys to see Despicable Me 3 and then to dinner at Red Robin’s.

Sunday, after church, Ben and I made another trip to IKEA to grab the right curtain rod. Then we installed the curtains in Gabe’s room and Ben patched up the holes in the closet where the junky doors used to be. Now we just need to get his shelves back on the wall and figure out a light fixture. Maybe paint the closet. Then we’ll be done in there!

So, that’s what we’ve been up to, in a nutshell. I feel like it’s been a little bit of everything these past 2 weeks, but things should slow down now. Our friends are back from their vacation, for one. I’m hoping for a more relaxed summer from here on out!

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Luke’s 13th Birthday Party *Friends Edition

Several of Luke’s friends weren’t able to make it to his birthday party last month so we decided to do 2 parties. I know it seems like a lot, and it isn’t something I’d like to do every year, but you only become a teenager once, right?

This time, everyone was available and Luke was thrilled. Ben took the morning off of work and hauled them all to the water park at Six Flags. They stayed there for a few hours and then they came back home for lunch.


They recouped in the house for a bit and then, armed with cans of shaving cream and the hose, they headed outdoors to play on the slip and slide and the trampoline.

From the sounds of it, they had a blast!

A couple of the boys had to head home, but the others were able to stay the night. They ate and played games and ate and played more games and ate and watched YouTube videos and ate and compared fidget spinners. It was a raging success.

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Happy Birthday, Grant!

My sweet little nephew is 1!

My sister hosted a party out at my grandparent’s place in De Soto on Sunday. It was a bit on the warm side, but really not bad for July.

Banner and treats

Smash cake

They went all out. Everything was so cute and the food was delicious.

My dad and Grant

Great Grandpa, Cody and Grant, Great-great Aunt Helen, and Grandma

My dad and the boys.

Cake smash! Or….cake poke, actually.

He did so well for all the heat and people and hooplah that goes along with a big birthday party. So sweet and cheerful. It’s so nice having a little one in the family again! Gabe told me he has a lot to teach Grant. Lol, I can only imagine!

So Happy Birthday to Grant and many, many more. Now if only you can talk mommy and daddy into having juuuuuuust one more. <3

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