"Enjoy the little things in life ~ one day you'll wake up and realize they were the big things"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

11 years ago . . . Happy Birthday Daniel!

11 years old already?!! Our 'Daniel bug' continues to 'wow' us with his charm, his athleticism and most often his ability to master things like Rubik's Cubes, brain teasers, math problems and magic tricks - I STILL can't figure out how he does some of those things!!

We love you Daniel, and are so thankful for you!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shampoo musings . . .

I threw out three shampoo bottles today.

Maybe it's just me, but I find it strangely satisfying to throw out an empty bottle.

Three of them at once got me thinking. (I ought to pay more attention to the bottles in the shower!)

In the bigger scheme of life, I want to be the empty bottle ~

used up




~ rather than forgotten, wasted . . . never really utilized, never fully enjoyed.

Things to think on.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ice Cream Intentions

Three words.  Homemade ice cream! (or is that really only two words?!).  I'll get to that in a minute :-)

We have this really cool thing on a shelf at our house called a "lycra tube".  It's a huge piece of fabric . . . a bright, "busy" floral pattern ~ one I probably wouldn't have chosen personally (but it belongs to the campground).   Either way, the thing is a blast!  A wee bit dangerous, but super fun!.   The kids put four of them in it at once and run really fast, catapulting themselves off of it's 'walls', turning around and doing it again, laughing the whole way, and finally collapsing into a heap on the floor in the middle of it.  It's impossible to photograph, it's even a little hard to watch, for fear that their rapid criss-crossing will result in a head on collision (amazingly it hasn't yet).

A few nights ago, we made homemade ice cream.  One batch in our little nifty Cuisinart automatic ice cream maker and another batch in our very fun "ice cream ball".  We haven't used the ice cream ball in quite a while (probably not since Anna's 5th birthday party when we still had a trampoline for the kids to roll it around on -- well over 2 years ago).  We keep talking about using it.  But, you know how that goes. Talk. "Yes, we should do that sometime". Sincere talk.  But busy days turn into busy weeks and (for me) unless I'm really determined and intentional those things remain just that - talk. Empty words.

So, I went ahead and scheduled it. I wrote it down - right with our weekly menu on the fridge.  Now I was committed.  Several sets of eyes read the words up there and start to anticipate and plan on what's written there.  Suddenly my options for backing out diminish.  My chances of following through grow stronger.  Now there needs to be a better reason than "I'm too tired" to bag the idea altogether.

So we pulled out the ice cream maker and the ice cream ball and made ice cream. Turns out we got a little crazy and decided to try using the ice cream ball AND the lycra tube together!  The kids rolled it around and around inside the lycra tube!   (and at some point in there, I ended up with the ice cream ball while they went crazy in the lycra tube!) Fun time, lots of laughter . . . and very yummy ice cream was enjoyed by all!

(Yes, that handsome young man DOES indeed need a hair cut!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Technical Difficulties . . .

I can't seem to get Picasa Web Albums or Blogger to cooperate with me to update some of the photos in the sidebar . . . I guess we'll call it a work in progress :-)   Grrrr!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I couldn't do it!

I'm still fighting against the notion of leaving so much undone.  Fighting against choosing to be okay with leaving nearly a year and a half of moments, celebrations, victories & struggles OUT of this blog altogether. It appears I have a choice to make.  I can either: A) leave those weeks and months out ~ maybe indefinitely or B) decide there is just no way to catch up and abandon this poor blog project altogether.

I can't seem to be okay with the latter . . . an important piece of our lives has been missing this past year and a half. Truth be told a LOT of important pieces of our lives have been missing during this past year and a half, pushed aside by the all consuming nature of our strange place and position in life right now. I'm trying, daily, to figure out how to pick up the pieces and make sure the most important ones don't fall away altogether - not an easy task.

As far as our little blog goes. I'm just not willing to abandon the task altogether.  I am so dreadfully far behind on photo albums that this blog is really our only consistent family record ~ and I can't just close the doors on it.  So, in the spirit of Philippians 3:13 (forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead . . . ), I'm going to try to keep things at least a tiny little bit up to date from this point forward.  On your mark, get set, GO!


For those of you who are confused, here's an attempt at the "back story" of the past year and a half.

In May, 2012 we began work camping at Jellystone Park Larkspur.  For the kids and me, it had been our "happy place" throughout the spring, while Kevin applied for jobs all over the country. With each application - our future seemed to teeter a little more on the edge of the great unknown (would a job offer have us moving across town, out of state, out of the country or staying put?)  My little world was feeling the strain of uncertainty.  When we drove down the highway and crossed the railroad tracks onto the campground property, we breathed a collective sigh of relief.  We enjoyed the wide open spaces, the serenity, the goats (who we helped out with when we were able to), and our visits with the staff.  It felt stable and hopeful.

In August (2012), after two months as 'workcampers', God opened the doors for us to assume a long term role at Jellystone.  We moved out of our house and into a small house on the campground property (while juggling new and additional responsibilities at the campground - the combination of the two made for a bit of a crazy time).  During the final week of cleaning out our Castle Rock house, we came home utterly exhausted to find our new (but actually quite old!) house flooded. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the only time we came home to find water welcoming us =/

Throughout the winter, things settled into a little bit of a routine and we enjoyed living in such a peaceful spot, enjoying our cozy little house, seeing deer out the window, stars above, the kids sledding right out back and being part of planning and dreaming about future plans for the campground.  We've enjoyed a taste of what it would be like to run a family business - that the kids can have an active role in. We are far enough "away" to feel like we live in the country, but close enough that the kids are still involved in the same activities that they were previously.  In many ways, it's a perfect place for this season of life.

In April, roles got shifted around again and both of us ended up working FAR more hours than we had been expecting. Our school year limped to a finish as the camping season ramped up and utter insanity set in. April through August have been quite literally a BLUR. I, personally, worked 55+ hrs/wk for most of the summer as the Activities Director . . . and Kevin worked far more, sometimes only coming home to sleep and eat. Our "summer break" was definitely not much of one.

On the positive side, there were parts that were a fun and memorable adventure for all of us. On the negative side, this has been without question one of the most trying seasons of our entire 20 years together. Schedules have been unpredictable at best (difficult for the 'planner' in me), family time was nearly non-existent from April to August, communication strained, expectations muddy, the demands constant, finances and energy stretched far too thin.  Outside relationships & church involvement have been squeezed out of our schedule almost entirely, adding to a great sense of isolation and sadness (especially for me).  A difficult season no doubt . . . and one we don't want to remain in.

Things have shifted again in recent weeks, school has begun again (ready or not!), my work hours have decreased . . . hope is slowly returning.  Our task at this point is to find ways to better manage the demands that lie ahead of us - in a way that restores order and allows us to prioritize and guard family time once again. Right now we don't have a clear sense of our long term plans, but we think they will involve remaining here for a while.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It occurs to me . . .

It occurs to me - that I might not finish . . . updating old posts that is =( I seem to always have this nagging hope that I will have time to go back and finish all the posts that I've begun over the past several months, ending up with a chronologically current and happy blog. Much to my chagrin, I'm discovering that this time perhaps it just isn't going to happen. In the midst of our whirlwind summer and fall (when I've dropped the proverbial ball in nearly every area of life), I have allowed this poor, neglected blog to get so far behind that I didn't feel like there was any chance of ever catching up (and to throw more dirt on my grave, blogspot changed their format a few months ago - which was greatly discouraging!). Either way, being so woefully far behind has kept me from hopping on here regularly (or even semi-regularly) to update it. And I have noticed a part of me is missing. So, maybe, just maybe I will need to come to terms with the reality that a huge chunk of time is going to remain undone for now. I am going to make a concerted effort to quiet all of the little screaming voices inside my head, and allow myself the freedom to start from here . . . without trying to catch up. We'll see if I can really do it or not!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas

A slightly crowded Christmas in our cozy new house.  We had a fairly unexciting Christmas break.  We had been looking forward to sledding and sleepovers with friends, but ended up with several kids sick for much of the break. However, right on the heels of the Sandy Hook tragedy - we were content to snuggle up with our sick, miserable kids and just thank God they were with us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Completely and totally exhausted.

Welcome to yet another "thank you for your patience post" (if you've been around a while, you've seen quite a few of these!). One of these days there will be an inundation of updates as I finish all the posts that I've started over the summer. Since I don't know how soon that day will happen, I thought I should offer some sort of update now.

Suffice it to say that the past few months have been a "whirlwind of crazy" for us. We are on the tail end of moving out of our house in Castle Rock and into a house in Larkspur (which if you aren't a local - is only about 15 minutes away). The house is smaller than our other one and doesn't have a garage (or a washer/dryer or working phone/internet service yet) . . . so moving has proven to be a bit of a challenge. 

It does, however, give us a 100 acre backyard that we don't have to mow! (we are living and working at a Jellystone Park Campground). There is an abundance of wildlife right outside our door. Black bears, deer, rabbits, coyotes, squirrels, snakes, hummingbirds, lizards and chipmunks (along with the goats and our sweet little dog!) are an everyday sight.

Our weekends (especially) have been completely consumed with planning and running activities at the campground and we are still trying to sort out how to manage family life, homeschool, church, extended family and other relationships, sanity and sleep with any semblance of order or intentionality . . . thus far, we haven't managed well =(

We are convinced, however, in the midst of the chaos, that God has provided for us (and will continue to ~ as the days unfold here). We are exhausted, but excited!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Emily's week at Camp Id-ra-ha-Je!

One of Emily's big Christmas gifts this past year was to go to camp Id-ra-ha-Je this summer.  Id-ra-ha-Je is a Christian camp in the mountains of Colorado that is tons of fun.  It is expensive, so Emily actually worked hard to raise her part of the money needed to go.  She LOVED it!  It was an action packed, spiritually enriching, fun-filled, friendship rich week that she has been savoring ever since.

We sent little fun surprises along for her to open each day, but weren't really able to contact her.  It was strange to be "un-plugged" from our girl for a whole week (and definitely not the same at the campground without her), but we knew she was having a great time!  Everyone was thrilled to see her again on Saturday (and didn't even mind being drug out of bed super early in order to get to the mountains in time for breakfast with her!) The kids all had fun eating snow cones and playing on the playground together before we started the trek back home.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dance camp / family holiday

The end of June is traditionally very busy in our family.  The last week of June is one of Emily's most anticipated weeks of the year!  It is the week when she gets to indulge herself in LOTS of worship dance - at CMA's annual dance camp.  The week culminates with an outreach to a nursing home and a dance performance on Friday night.  Emily was able to choreograph a dance with her dear friend Abby this year and they did a great job on it!

Right on the heels of dance camp is our family holiday "St Ogden Valsinkidane Day" . . . one of those goofy creations of yours truly that commemorates the moment (6:42 pm) when Kevin and Lisa first met.  This particular year was the 20th anniversary of that occasion.  We normally try to do something fun as a family.  This year, we were working at the campground in the evening, so we commemorated "the exact moment" on a Yogi hay ride! . . . and enjoyed our family outing earlier in the day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thank you for your patience . . . again!!

Thanks for your patience while I finish the many posts that have been started over the past few months and post them (chronologically) So, if you see a post that says that we celebrated Levi's birthday recently, you haven't lost your mind - it WAS in March (not "recently") =( It's so much easier to not get behind on these things!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anna is a 6 year old!

We can't believe our baby girl is already a big 6 year old. We celebrated the occasion about a week early. Anna is completely smitten with horses of late and got a dream come true party which involved sharing horse rides with a bunch of her friends. She was also delighted to discover that one of her gifts was a living, squeaking, super cute creature! Our dear friends Madison and Sydney presented Anna with a guinea pig of her very own!

Anna had the distinction of being the first in our family to celebrate her actual birthday while living in our travel trailer for the summer. We enjoyed our traditional birthday morning donuts and then headed off to the pool (which happened to open for the season on her birthday!)

We continue to be amazed with what a wonderful young lady our sweet Anna is becoming!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Grandpa Sid

We returned home a few days ago from a bittersweet but treasured visit with lots of extended family. The occasion was the funeral service for our beloved "Grandpa Sid".

Re-wind to 1967 when Kevin lost his father (to leukemia) at the age of six. Kevin's mom wisely sought out a "big brother" for him (through the "Big Brothers" program) ~ this is when Sid Smock entered Kevin's life. Sid (and his wonderful wife Ann), however, went above and beyond the typical big brother role, requesting that they be placed with both Kevin and his older brother, KC. Sid and Ann had 2 daughters (Kevin's age and a little younger). Long story short, the following decades found Kevin and KC enveloped in the love of a family; sharing laughter, making memories, enjoying long days by the lake, fishing trips, motorcycle rides, great conversations, trips to the mountains, holiday celebrations ~ life ~ together. Return to present day, where 45 years later, Kevin and his brother are still welcomed, esteemed and included as family by the Smocks.

All of us enjoyed the chance for re-connection and the kids, especially, enjoyed getting to know their cousins better. Kevin spoke at the service and did an excellent job. He and the others who shared were each able to represent the many facets of an incredible man in a way that (I believe) brought him much honor.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Easter, and the weeks immediately following it, were eventful at our house this year. We had the great joy of serving as foster parents to a few baby (Nubian) goats. Our first pair (Ginger and Pappy - both girls) were 2 weeks old and only at our house for a few days. Since one of those days happened to be Easter, they had an Easter basket of their very own!

The girls were immediately followed by a sweet set of brothers (Copper and Liefie) who were born on Easter and came to our house when they were just 2 days old. Liefie had been the runt of the litter and had a rough start. He was born folded up and not breathing right away - he was tiny and a little wobbly, but made up for lost time quickly! We all took turns helping to bottle feed them and clean up after them. We kept them primarily in our basement bathroom, but they enjoyed lots of snuggles as well as frolicking and roaming about in the backyard.

Monday, April 30, 2012

AWANAs wraps up for another year . . .

The kids have just wrapped up another AWANAs season. Since September, they've indulged themselves in great teaching, games, fellowship and fun on a weekly basis. They showed an awesome level of commitment in their memory work, too.

In the fall, we enjoyed participating in the AWANA fun fair. In Feb, Levi and Daniel paired up as a team in the Bible Quiz competition - and got 2nd place!. In March, all of the kids enjoyed designing their pinewood derby cars and competing in the "AWANA Grand Prix" . . . several new trophies entered our house that day! Just a few weeks ago, Emily had the unique opportunity to prepare and teach the weekly lesson for her class. She did an excellent job!

Anna was sick the night of the awards banquet, so she didn't make it into any of the pictures - but she zoomed through her book(s) and received several awards as well. We are thankful for the blessing that AWANAs continues to be to all of our kids.

Allow me to brag on Emily (even more!) for a moment and share this excerpt from the e-mail that her leader sent me just after she taught the lesson:

"I wanted to let you know that Emily did a phenomenal job of teaching the AWANA Trek lesson tonight. Due to the fact that she completed the requirements for the year well ahead of schedule, her demonstrated grasp of Scripture, and clear enthusiasm for the topic (spiritual gifts and service in the Church), I challenged her a couple of weeks ago to prepare a lesson for tonight. Last week, we reviewed her plan for the lesson to verify that she was on target, and tonight she delivered a practical, challenging lesson that was very well-rooted in Scripture with an exercise that encouraged the entire class to look at their own strengths from the perspective of how they could be used to further the Kingdom. I was impressed with the depth of understanding and level of preparation that Emily demonstrated, along with her willingness to stretch herself beyond what she would usually be comfortable with.
I am not aware of another instance of a Trek student leading an entire lesson, let alone doing so with the aplomb that Emily did tonight"

(kudos to our Emily girl!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012


One of Anna's best friends lives right across the street from us. Maggie and her little sister, Rebecca, play at our house regularly . . . they play dress up, watch movies, play with Lincoln Logs, jump on the trampoline, swing on the swings, build things in the sand, eat fruit roll-ups, play in the sprinkler and sometimes even get permission to play in their favorite spot of all - on top of our minivan! Anna and Maggie were both thrilled to have their first sleepover together this spring. What a blessing neighbors can be!

Daniel's half birthday

Daniel, in keeping with tradition, made sure that Arby's curly fries were part of his half birthday celebration this year . . . that boy LOVES those things! He has also had a great desire to go bowling lately, so we were sure to knock some pins down with him too. We had a good time (even if mom did win every game!!). We also had to sneak in a free Krispy Kreme donut (or two) and a quick trip to Chuck-E-Cheese to use up a few tokens (and thanks to a few mishaps with the games and generous employees, Daniel landed a lot of tickets!). Super, fun boy, growing up before our eyes ~ we enjoyed our special time with him.