Birthday Celebrations

We celebrated Molly’s birthday today (2 days early) with something that she loves: shopping.  She and I took a nearly 6 hour venture to the mall so she could spend her birthday and back-to-school clothes shopping money.  I haven’t taken a shopping trip like that in a very long time and it was so much fun.  Molly is growing into such a good young woman and I have so much fun spending time with her.

For all that Molly enjoys shopping, she does not enjoy having her picture taken.  Can you tell?  She is such a beautiful girl, even when she is scowling.

After shopping, I picked up Molly’s dinner request (a salad from Wendy’s) and then she got ready for soccer practice.  When she got home we lit the candles on her pink lemonade confetti cake.  I realized after the fact that it could also be a Seahawks cake.

I hope all of Molly’s birthday wishes come true.  I can’t believe that she is turning twelve!  On Sunday, she gave her last talk in Primary and it made both Ben and I tear up and we weren’t the only ones.  She graduates to Young Women’s (our church youth group for girls age 12-18) this week and she is so excited.  The Young Women already welcomed her in with a swimming/ice cream party at the lake.  They really are a great group of girls.

Molly is such a good girl and such an important part of our family.  I really feel lost when she’s not home.  She worked so hard at school this last year (all on her own accord) and I know she will do great at Junior High.  She joined a new select soccer team and has been working her tush off.  Her conditioning and training at practices is no  joke.  Her first tournament is coming up and she is so excited.

Molly is sensitive, kind and loving.  I catch her doing little thoughtful acts of kindness all the time, always without being asked and always without wanting recognition for them.  She is still a voracious reader and reads all kinds of books.  I love that if she finds something she thinks I’ll like, she passes it along to me to read next.  Molly is also still a lover of animals.  She loves anything and everything with fur.  Toby and little Pixie are in good hands.

I love that Molly thinks through decisions really well and tries to always follow the rules.   She is responsible, dependable, a great big sister, and a loyal friend.  I am so lucky to have her as a daughter and as a friend.

Molly we love you!


This has been a great year for our plum trees.  I’ve never seen a tree this overloaded with fruit.

The branches are so heavy that several of them have split right in half.  I’m not sure if we’ll have to chop all the broken branches off at the end of the season.  It seems to me like the split branches would be a magnet for disease.  I guess I need a book on fruit trees.

The plums are small and sweet.  We picked a whole box full and we barely made a dent in the tree.  The kids have been eating them, but I’m not sure what to do with the rest.  I feel awful wasting any of the fruit, but we also have a family reunion coming up in two days and we are hosting so it’s not like I have a lot of time to be canning jam.  I tried to make dried plums in the oven last night, but it didn’t go so well.

I was supposed to turn the oven on for a few hours and then shut it off and let the plums sit in the warm oven overnight.  Instead I forgot about them and never turned the oven off so they burned to a complete crisp.  I woke up to the beeping of the oven shutting itself off because it had been on too long.  I’m lucky it was such a low temperature that it didn’t start a fire.

I decided to skip the oven drying and use the food dehydrator for the next batch.  It takes longer, but it’s also safer considering my forgetfulness.

Meet Pixie

This is Pixie.  She is a Winter White Dwarf hamster.  Molly’s 12th birthday falls in the middle of our family reunion and so we are celebrating early.  Last night we took our family birthday outing to the pet store so Molly could pick out her new friend.  It was a decision that we didn’t make lightly and that took a lot of time to think over.  Molly has been asking for a hamster for at least the last year and she stepped up the intensity of her pleas recently.

Molly has worked hard and proven herself responsible enough to handle the care of a hamster.  Grandma and Grandpa Johnson gave Molly the cage and necessary hamster accessories for her birthday which was such a blessing and Molly was so appreciative.  Little Pixie has settled in nicely.

All of the kids are completely infatuated with Pixie and Molly patiently gives each of them their turn saying hello/goodnight/good afternoon to little Pixie.  I never thought I’d allow a pet rodent in my house, but I’ll admit she is rather sweet.


Scout Camp

At the opening ceremony for Cub Scout day camp, William turned to me and said, “It’s like they made this camp just for me.”  What followed was a fantastic 3 days filled with more fun than William could have hoped for.  I helped out on the last day and was able to tag along and snap a few pictures of camp life.  The seven large groups of boys moved through seven different activity stations each day, including BB gun shooting, archery, wood working, experience, games, music/den life and cooking.

We don’t own any kind of guns (mostly light sabers around here) so it took William a couple of days to get a hang of the BB guns, but by the end he was able to hit the target with many of his shots.  I think I can see a BB gun in our future.

Archery turned out to be one of his favorites, though he said he wished the instructor used a softer voice.  The instructor was very nice, he was just making sure that boys armed with weapons didn’t cause any mortal wounds.

During the first two days, William worked on making a pinball machine at the wood working station.  He put a lot of effort into machine and ended up making a fun game that he could be very proud of.  On the day I came to camp, they were working on stamping leather with tools to make medallions and learning about different types of carpentry tools.  It was right up William’s alley.

At the experience station they build rain makers by pounding nails into cardboard tubes that they then filled with dry macaroni and capped with foil.  The previous day they learned about making knots.

At the game station they played all sorts of games involving water to try and cool the boys off a little bit.  It was incredibly hot all week at camp and they staff did their best to provide shade and lots of water to keep the boys cool.

I was surprised at how much the boys calmed down for music time.  Music has a wonderful way of influencing people.  Most of the boys happily sang along to all the corny songs and those that didn’t sat quietly and listened.  William was a non-singer and when I asked him why, he told me that Addy and Henry had ruined singing for him by singing, “Let it Go” from Frozen too many times.

At the cooking station the boys cooked over fires.  Over the course of camp, they made smores, popcorn, quesadillas, and camper cones.

At the end of the last day, the boys were all given water cannons and turned loose into the field for a gigantic water fight.  It was incredible and I watched the spectacle from the safety of the registration tent.

William had so much fun and was happy with all the things he got to make and bring home.  I was so happy that I was able to be there with him.  He is a great kid and his enthusiasm for doing things is one of my favorite things about him.  I’m so grateful that Grandma and Grandpa Johnson were able to watch the kids so that I could go.  By the end of camp, after all the chanting, yelling, singing, air horn blowing, excessive heat, and endless head counting, I had nothing left and felt like a walking zombie.  Some how I made dinner before we headed back to camp with the whole family to watch the closing camp ceremony.  All the boys performed little skits that they had worked on in camp during the week.  It was really fun.  We snuck out a few minutes early (after the skits were done) and hit the drive-through for ice cream on our way home.  It was a perfect end to a great camp week.

The 4th of July

Yesterday was the best 4th of July I’ve had since my Grandma passed away.  It was everything I’ve been missing all these years.  The kids and I started off the morning with a bike parade, patriotic program and pancake breakfast at our church.  Ben stayed behind to tend the brisket in the smoker and let Oliver sleep since we were up late the night before.  It was a great start to our day.

When I got home, we began prepping for our guests to come.  All of my siblings and my dad were able to join us for a family barbecue and fireworks in celebration of not only Independence Day, but also my dad’s 70th birthday.

Fireworks are legal in our neighborhood and we took full advantage of it this year.  The kids (and adults) had fun setting off the small day time fireworks while we waited for it to get dark.

Carey and her family had to leave before it got dark, but everyone else was able to stay until late.  I set out blankets on the lawn and Uncle Dan, Uncle Ian, Aunt Colleen and Ben put on quite a show for us.  So many good memories were made and it truly touched my heart in such a special way.  I believe a tradition has been born.

Summer Days

We know summer has officially started when we lose Molly for the first giant block of time.  She’s been gone this week and will be gone next week too.  We miss her.


We have been filling our days with laziness.  The kids have all been sleeping late in the mornings, Oliver included, and I feel like the luckiest mama in the world.  Around 9:00am the kids start waking up one by one, but honestly there have been a few mornings when we hit 10am and everyone is still asleep.  It is glorious and I am fully aware that it won’t last.  Just documenting it here probably doomed the streak entirely.

This morning we went to the library to refresh our book supply and then on to Target so the kids could spend their hard earned job money on a few new toys.  Addy chose princess bubbles and the boys chose Star Wars Lego sets.  I treated them to slurpees afterwards and we picked up supplies for rootbeer floats tonight because it’s been hot and ice cream just sounds good.

We have a family reunion in a few weeks and we are up to our eyeballs in planning.  We are in charge of it this year and are hosting people at our house.  I’m looking forward to putting this big old house of ours to some use.  I hope the weather cooperates and that everyone has a fun time.

It hit 90 degrees today which is about 10 degrees hotter than I approve of.  We tried to resurrect our blow-up pool from last year, but not even copious amounts of duct tape could salvage it from the neglect it experienced all year on the garage floor.  It took over an hour to get it patched enough to hold water and even then it only lasted a few hours before giving up the ghost.  The kids really want a bigger pool that they can swim a little more in but I’m really not wanting to spend any money.  We’ll see who wins.