Category Archives: Nature

Winton Woods

There are some beautiful and fun parks in our county with walking tails, lakes for fishing and canoeing (we can’t wait to take our canoe out when it warms up a bit more), and playgrounds.  A couple Saturdays ago we took the kids (all but Em, she was on a little trip to Tennessee with one of her friends) to Winton Woods. The highlight of the trip was definitely feeding the ducks and geese. While we had tons of fun, we sure missed our Em.






Filed under Bobert, Dot, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature

A Most Fabulous Zoo!

The Cincinnati Zoo is AMAZING!!! And we were there in 25 degree weather and couldn’t see most animals. They have the most amazing exhibits – from vampire bats to these HUGE bats, to birds of all color and variety (Dot was thrilled to see a bright purple bird), manatees, komodo dragons, a large variety of nocturnal animals and so, so much more. We are looking forward to going again when it’s a little warmer to see all the animals that were either hiding or off display for the winter.

Zoo 1

Zoo 2

Zoo 3

Zoo 4

Zoo 5

Emily was especially thrilled with the polar bear out enjoying the cold weather. Polar Bears are her favorite animal, so she HAD to have her picture taken, I thought the bear posed very nicely.

Zoo 6

The highlight for me, and most of the rest of the family were the tigers. I have only ever seen a tiger lay about or pace – these two were playing! It was delightful to watch, and we had a hard time tearing ourselves away.

Zoo 7

Zoo 8

This was James’ first zoo trip and he was delighted by the different animals, but the aardvarks seem to really capture his attention. Lizzy loved the Lizards, and Jacob the tigers. We can’t wait to go back!


Filed under Bobert, Dot, Em, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature

Hello, Blog. My name is GoofyJ. Remember me?

Wow. That is really all I can say. Just wow. Time has flown and dragged by at the same time. And now, here I sit in a home, my home, in Cinci, Ohio. Weird. Oh and I only have two months until baby comes? How did that happen? Double weird.

Where do I start?

Maybe I’ll just fling up some photo collages of our journey since right before Paul left – some of you might have seen the pics on Facebook, simply scroll faster if you want to get through them quicker. Though if you go too fast you might miss any witty reparte in between them… well, no promises. 😀

We’ll start with the loading the truck collage. We loaded the truck the day before Mother’s Day. That is my awesome bro with the ductaped pants – they kept splitting further… and further… and we just kept adding to the tape so he wouldn’t be indecent. 😀

Moving Collage

After the truck was loaded, we realized there was a lot of stuff we wanted to take that didn’t fit. Then when the car behind it was pulling heavy we had to empty it – so that meant all of our musical instruments had to stay behind. It was the deciding factor on driving out a second truck.

Sunday, Paul tried to leave me a Mother’s Day present…

Saram Wrap 1 Collage

Saram wrapped kids. Unfortunately, they escaped.. and then they revolted and tried to keep dad from leaving.

Saram Wrap 2 Collage

He escaped too, and left the next day.

Then came the fun. And all the hard work. I worked on packing odds and ends, painting the inside of the house, mowing lawns with grass up to my chest in some places, chasing five kids, growing a baby, going on last ditch outing with friends, and keeping from going completely insane. The worst part of it all was how much I missed having my hubby with me. I love that man!

We had fun too in the midst of all the work. I would have like to do more, but we at least made it to the beach one last time, and to Mt. St. Helens.

Goodbye Northwest Beach

My brother and his family came with us on the beach trip, the Mt. St. Helens trip I did solo.


I was proud of myself with two things on the St. Helens trip- 1. I didn’t go completely insane and 2. I managed to stay awake on the way home (though I had to chug a giant Dr. Pepper in order to do so – yuck. At least it tastes a little better than the other colas, and without the caffeine we wouldn’t have made it.)

In the midst of everything else we also threw an early b-day party for Em…
Em B-day Party

We had to have the cake on the floor because our table was already with hubby in Ohio.

And had Jacob’s preschool Graduation

Jacob Preschool Grad Collage

Is he just stinkin’ cute or what? 😀 Then we were on the road. My bro from Oregon helped us drive – he drove the truck while hubby and I enjoyed the un-air conditioned van. Our first stop was Utah to visit my big sis. Heidi and Paul’s big bro. Mark. Of course we were exhausted and dead in the brain when we stopped by Mark’s place so I didn’t get the camera out. SHOOT. At least I remembered at Heidi’s – it was a close call though – it didn’t come out until right before we left. (My feet were looking slightly pudgy)

Utah Collage

Then on to Colorado to visit my next big sis. Lisa. We went to the most amazing park while we were there. We got to see my parents too. I am shooting myself in the foot for not taking more pics. Grrrr. (My ankles were feeling left out and decided to join my feet in pudgyness)

Colorado Collage

Then we crashed at my big bro. Kimball’s place in Arkansas. By now, my ankles resembled tree trunks and I began to hang out in the truck with my bro. I’d like to say it was sibling bonding, but it really was the AC – just kidding. 😀 It was definitely both.

Arkansas Collage

Finally in Ohio – I don’t have more pics yet – but they will be coming…

Ohio Backyard Collage

for now enjoy our back yard and a really cool park. The deer in the pics is in our neighbor’s yard. We saw it three days in a row this week. The first day it was two yards down (when I took the pics) the second it was in our next door neighbor’s yard, and the third it was in our yard. If we see it again, I think I will name it. 😀 We have millions of lightning bugs – my absolute favorite – there’s just something magical about them. And I have been able to see and catch a photo of the Red Cardinal – my favorite childhood bird, which I completely forgot lived out here. Also in our back yard and neighbor’s back yards we frequently sight bunnies hopping around. 😀

Cool Ohio Park Collage

A wonderful end to a long and fun few months! I am hoping to have lots of adventures to tell. For now – I am off to bed. Because even if I don’t post this until later – it is 1:00 in the AM right now.


Filed under Cakes, Children, Dot, Em, Every Day Life, Family, Humor, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature, Photography

January Spring

Ok – I know it’s February already, but this photo was taken on January 31st. I couldn’t find the card reader until a few days ago to get the photo off the memory stick.

We came home from church Sunday afternoon and noticed our first blooms in our garden – we had early flowers before, but I don’t recall ever having blooms in January.



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Filed under Nature

Silver Lake Writer’s Retreat 2009

Last Thursday I woke in a panic as the doorbell sounded at 6:00 in the morning. I cursed my alarm (which I checked twice the night before to make sure it was set right – evil thing) and dove into the shower while my husband answered the door to let my friend, Christine, know that I would by ready in a few minutes. While they loaded my stuff, I sped through the shower, dressed and jammed a hat on my head. Not exactly the way I wanted to make my first impression on the writing retreat – I was just praying I didn’t have to do my presentation until Friday or Saturday. 😀 (At least I remembered my camera, unlike last year)

After an enjoyable 6-7 (with stops) hour drive (it really was enjoyable – there were no screaming kids, we didn’t have to stop every hour for the nearest bathroom, and I didn’t have to dodge missiles even once – I just enjoyed adult conversation for the whole time – woot!) we arrived at beautiful Silver Lake rec area in Whatcom County, Washington (practically in Canada). With relief I found out I didn’t have to present until Friday (yay – no hat head) and I was able to relax for a while, do some exploring, and settle into our cabin (we had the one with the bathroom – so no showering in the freezing cold bath house with quarter fed hot water – woot!)

Oh! And true to my name, I had my one goofy moment. Luckily, no one was around to witness it :-D. (I just have the painful bruises on my knees and left leg as evidence.)

Retreat 2009-001

In this collage (going from left to right, top to bottom):

1. This is the view of the lake from our cabin.
2. The Main lodge. Down below you can see some canoes and boats – Upstairs you can see the glass windows – that was the day lodge where all our presentations took place.
3. Row Boats – we had one canoe and one rowboat rented. I took the rowboat out with Wendy, and we had a blast rowing about the lake. 😀
4. I LOVE Cattails and I haven’t seen one in a really long time – I was positively giddy to see so many around this lake – it made me happy 🙂
5. Silver Lake
6. This is the beautiful little bridge we walked over every morning and evening to get back and forth from our cabin to the main lodge. I think I took a zillion pictures of it.

Retreat 2009-002

1. I made friends with this Canadian Goose. Really. I did. Well, I suppose if you ask Christine, SHE will say I was chasing it, but really I wasn’t – I was just following it around with a camera. It did hiss at me though, I thinking it was having relationship issues 😉
2. My Bridge, my bridge, I love my bridge
3. While the leaves were just starting to turn (it had been warmer than last year, so we didn’t have as much color), the reflection in the lake was astounding.
4. My in front of the cabin – cabin 7
5. The complaint department – I just died laughing when I saw this. 🙂
6. There was this beautiful leave floating on top of the water right by the bridge. We also were spying on several crawdads, but I couldn’t get very good pictures of them.

Aside from exploring and soaking up the gorgeous scenery around us, we had plenty of time to write, visit, and write some more. There were some great presentations. We learned everything from time management with Marsha Ward, to Internet savyness with Liz Adair, and Writing Humor with Kersten Campbell. It was so fun chatting with all the other ladies and hearing about their projects and making new friends.

Retreat 2009-003

Everyone was so wonderful and amazing – and talented – it was a pleasure to hang out with them for a weekend.

Now, I know I haven’t said much about my presentation as I was preparing it, but now the time has come. I did Ninja Writing: Enhancing your writing through using your environment (including the 5 senses in your writing), the element of surprise (humor), and setting traps (foreshadowing – what it is and how to do it). I felt really good about how the whole thing went and, after much encouragement, I think I might send in a book proposal for it. I even had cool ninja masks for everyone! (and I wore my goofy slippers)

Retreat 2009-004
(Thanks to Wendy who took the awesome Ninja Photos!)

Saturday almost came too quickly and I can’t wait for next year. I arrived home to find everyone not only alive, but happy – and the house was even clean! I have the most amazing husband ever. Oh, and 911 was only called once! (more on that in the next post…)

P.S – This morning I got my first rejection for The Heart of the Castle – Woot! 😀


Filed under Nature, Photography, Writing

Fall (the season, silly – what were you thinking?)


Trees don their burnt orange frocks
Before midnight winter   stealthily   steels   in.
Leaves dance
A crisp crinkly crunch                 my feet.

Apples polished to a shiny rosy red.
Enameled teeth
into white flesh
With an audible cool crunch and juice,
my chin.

pencils scrape paper;
Inhale the scent of wooded lead
And the dusky pulpy
Pages of books barely opened.

The wind, now bold and brisk,
Bites my cheeks and teases my hair
Into a frenzied flurry of chaos, chasing clouds across the sky.

-J.H. Schmidt

I love fall. I love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and wet earth as the rain sets in. I love the grins on kids faces as they return to school, and the feeling of slightly more time to get things done.

Back to School-001

Back to School-002

I love the sound of laughter as leaves are raked and piles jumped into. I love pumpkins bright and orange and bouncing behind the tractor on a hay ride. I love the cheering and flushed faces as the kids kick the soccer ball down the field.





This time of year is SO much fun! I can’t wait to go to the pumpkin patch with the kids and rake the leaves. I feel positively giddy! 😀


Filed under Children, Dot, Em, Jacob, Lizy, Nature, Poetry, Sports, Writing


Wow! The summer has just been flying by! One of the highlights of the summer so far was our trip to Eastern Idaho for a family reunion. It was great to see all of Paul’s family and we even had a chance to visit Yellowstone. The trip was too short (four days – two of which were spent driving – without air conditioning I might add). But the kids had a blast and while our trip through Yellowstone was a quick one day visit it was wonderful and we can’t wait until we get to go again.

Yellow Stone-001

Yellow Stone-002

Yellow Stone-003

Yellow Stone-004

Yellow Stone-005


Filed under Dot, Em, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature, Photography

Our last two beach trips

Our last two beach trips have been solo flights for me. Me and 5 kids – alone. The task seemed daunting, but let me tell you, we had the MOST fun! And I didn’t get completely frazzled or tear my hair out, or worry to death about kids in the ocean. In fact, the kids in the ocean thing was my one major rule. Water was off limits because I was worried about keeping everyone safe.

Imagine how excited we were then to land on a beach with giant puddles the first time left behind as the tide went out.

June Beach Trips-001

Yes – they are really jumping off that bucket into the knee-deep water – knee deep for them that is. Full fledge belly flopping going on! But boy did they have a ton of fun! And what a gorgeous day to boot!

Then last week I took them to the beach and met up with some friends from Washington who stopped at the coast for a day while on their vacation. Our first stop was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse – they watched the baby so I could take the other four up. It was a bit nervewracking with the ambitious and energetic pre-schooler, but all went well and the kids loved seeing the light flash on and off (it is one of the few working lighthouses).

June Beach Trips-002

Then we drove a little further south and hit Seal Rock for lunch and beach time. It is a gorgeous beach with lots of tide pools and a stream for the kids to play in (so they still got their water time) in fact the rocks form a sort of barrier to the ocean so they could play in some of the deeper pools at the edge of the water without my having to worry too much.

June Beach Trips-003

They found an amazing variety of seaweed – I wish I had taken more photos of their seaweed finds.

June Beach Trips-004

Even thought the tide was going out we would get the occasional amazing wave crashing on the rocks and it was simply gorgeous! All in all the two solo beach trips were a great success and I am looking forward to taking the kids again!


Filed under Dot, Em, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature, Photography

Gurgle Gurgle Slosh

Traduccion al Espanol

Our snow has all melted and been washed away. It has been raining pretty steady for quite some time and we began to worry about water under the house again – what with 18 inches of snow melting and tons of rain since then.

As the rain continued through the  day yesterday Paul worked to make sure our ditch (or stream/river depending on the season) was cleaned out and cleaned out our problem gutters too.

Well last night it began to really rain. Not the light rain we have had all week but a steady downpour – it has been a LONG time since we have seen rain that heavy and steady.   It was midnight when Paul through on his coat and shuffled out to check under the house. What had been a measly two inches had risen shockingly to 18 inches of water.  We grabbed the sump pump and put it too work.  The street looked like a mini river.

After we had done all we could we headed inside to go to bed. It was 1:00 in the morning and we heard an odd dripping in the living room. It was raining so hard that we had water dripping down our chimney – not much at least.  We stuck a bucket under there, said a prayer and went to bed. Before we went we flipped the heat on as it was getting a bit chilly and the fire in our wood stove had gone out (we didn’t feel like trying to get it going again this late/early).

I think it took me at least half an hour to overcome my worries and fall asleep.  It was 2:00 in the morning when something woke me with a jolt.  In the dark I saw Paul’s shadow hunched over the heating vent as my sense zeroed in on a strange gurgling sound – like air trying to force itself through water.

There was water in our heating vents.  Paul shut off the heat and checked under the house.  It was up to two feet deep.  If it got much deeper we could have flooding and major damage.  We prayed and pled with the Lord to watch over my parent’s house as they were serving him on a mission. It took me a long time to fall asleep after that. Consequently I am exhausted today.

He did.  The rain stopped shortly.  There is still a ton of water under there, and we might have to replace the heating ducts, but it could have been so much worse.  Of course, I have no idea how we’ll manage to rip out and replace all the heating ducts if it comes to that, but I am confident that somehow that Heavenly Father will prepare the way.  The danger is, is that if they are a certain kind of duct, then they won’t dry properly and we’ll get mold. We’ve kinda been wondering about that anyway, because it seems that on the rare occasion we do turn the heat on, everyone in the house gets sick.  So, maybe we’ve had water in the vents in the past and just not known it because the heat wasn’t on. 

So, how do we get all this water under our house?  A few different reasons:

#1 We are on the down side of a hill – so when the ground is saturated and it has no where else to go water runs under our house.

#2 There is an easeway behind us that slopes toward our property and is not properly drained – the water pools at the end of it at the edge of  our back yard and runs onto our property.

#3 We have a lovely back yard neighbor – the kind that Karen writes about.  He is pumping the water out  from under his house/yard into our back yard (at least it doesn’t have clorine in it – that we know of anyway).  Isn’t that nice of him to share?  (be sure to read that last bit with a heavy load of sarcasm). The end of his hose butts up right against our wire fence.  Such a nice guy – like we needed more water.  Oh, and to add the icing on the cake he chopped off the limbs of trees and things that were hanging unto his property (that part is fine) and dumped them in our yard! (that part is not fine).  So all the debris he dumped in our yard clogged our ditch that we use for water run off. (of course Paul cleaned it out again, but that was just RUDE).   Paul said he was going to go talk to him, but I seriously doubt it will do an ounce of good. Of course I haven’t really met the guy yet and I may be jumping to conclusions, maybe his is just a nice clueless guy, but I really don’t see that as a possibility.  Ok, someone tell me to be nice and not judge…

Maybe the kids can accidently jam the end of his drainage tube with mud and gunk or…. cement?

Well, I shall turn my mean nasty thoughts aside and enjoy the gorgeous sunny day that God has blessed us with while I continue to call and compare heating and airconditioning guys.

Happy New Year. lol.


Filed under Every Day Life, Nature, Opinion

A White Christmas

The first white Christmas for our little family! On Monday we awoke to another 6+ inches on top of what we already had. It continued to snow throughout the day and when Paul and I measured it later in the afternoon we had a whopping 18 inches! These are a few of the snow photos I took in the morning on Monday – it built up even more later on in the day. In the top picture – the snow is actually deeper than it looks, the girls are standing on a sheet of ice about an inch thick with more snow beneath it.

December 22 Snow Collage

Tuesday and Wednesday brought warmer temps and some snow melt, but we still have a good foot of snow out there today. So, our Christmas was plenty white!

Snow in Oregon brings its own challenges, such as no or little funding for plowing and gravel. As a result it was nigh impossible to get around, which meant an extra day or two home for Paul, which was a huge hit. They finally got things plowed on Christmas Eve day – well, some places anyway. And we were able to get my brother and his family to our home for Christmas Eve.

It was so wonderful having them with us – we actually had three Wisemen/shepherds! The cast of our Nativity play went as follows: My niece Laura was Mary, Elizabeth was Jospeh, Paul (my husband) was the donkey, my niece Emma was the Angel, Paul (my brother) was King Herod, and Dorothy, Emily, and Jacob were shepherds/wisemen. Oh, and James was a sheep, while my Sister-in-law and the new baby spectated and I narrated and played piano. It was a hoot!

Christmas Eve Nativity Collage

Later in the evening Santa came for a surprise visit with presents for all the children. James wasn’t too sure about Santa. We got a chance to see his first pouty face ever. Every time Santa even looked at him the lower lip would poke out and he would be on the verge of tears. He lost it when we sat him on Santa’s lap. It was SO cute.

James 1st Santa Collage

All the girls (except the little baby) recieved matching pajamas…

Santa Collage

Christmas was a wonderful relaxed day. Everyone had fun with their new treasures – especially the light sabers – each person (including mom and dad) recieved one for Christmas this year.

Christmas Collage

James sure figured out the present business fast –

James' 1st Christmas


Filed under Dot, Em, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature