Spring at Camp Lake
It's been a beautiful Spring at Camp Lake.
I'm blown away at how all the kiddos are so much older looking than last year! Benjamin is a year and a half, now, and such a fun filled little person, watching his brothers and sisters, and still prettymuch the center of adoration around here!
Charity is growing into a very inquisitive little girl who loves science, microscopes, new projects, and popsicles. :)
Anders is full fledged little boy this year, definitely out of the toddler era! He likes to take care of his sisters, follow Dad around whenever possible, and still has the happy hearted robust little personality he was born with. :)
At our favorite park in Mountain, the Town Hall park.
I'm so thankful to be expecting, and I'll be extra thankful when the nausea subsides soon! In the midst of the sickness, I have ben able to enjoy life in little bits and pieces! The time is passing, and all of us can't wait to meet him or her! This is bound to be the tie breaker.
I've started the vigils to Antigo where I go for the baby checkups. I'm really thankful for a good and kind doctor and for a hospital that reminds me of the goodness of the Lord.
Snickers is another new addition to the resort this year. He sure loves snacks!
John and Esther have been busy this Spring patching many rowboats around the grounds, hauling them up and down from lakes, welding, sanding, painting. The pretty red chairs to the right they rescued from the Dump one day and sanded and repainted a beautiful color for us. Esther has been helping me very much with the kiddos during the sick days.
For Father's Day weekend, my Dad, far right, just ahead of Steve, visited with my Mom and we had a wonderful weekend together. Folks at church were surprised how young they looked! This picture is of a prayer that Pastor Ben made for all the fathers in the congregation. What a special morning.
Dad and Mom always insist on helping in many ways when they come. Somehow Dad whipped together the complete installation of new doors to both Pine Hideaway and Pine Haven. They also managed to give our kids the time of their life with much attention, presents, and swimming down at the lake.
The new door at Pine Hideaway lets in so much more light and has built in blinds. I'm just thrilled.
Steve has been busy, busy, busy, getting the cabins up and ready this year. here is raising the dock at the Green Cottage.
It is a little hard to see the rope, but the tractor is pulling a rope around a tree I believe and providing leverage for the dock raising. Steve successfully completed the task and then stained the dock a pretty green.
The boys love riding the pickup truck, or occasionally getting to sit in the mower (not while moving). If Anders gets a ride in the pickup, and Benjamin sees through the window or outside, Ben will start fussing! So much they don't want to miss out on.
The resort is full of guests and a busy summer lies ahead. Looking forward to watching the kids enjoy it all!
Summertime Memories and Family Fun -- Cousins drop in from Africa, Kansas, Georgia, and Green Bay
What a summer! So much fun to see all the resort families returning, and new friends made. In the midst of the beautiful season, cousins visited from all over the world, literally. The picture below features my sister Kim and Jamie's crew, on furlough from seminary work in Kenya. They have four under five, and we just had a blast with them. Earlier in the summer Gayle, my twin sister, visited with her adorables, and we also so enjoyed Steve's sister here and her four boys from Georgia. And how can I leave out two wonderful visits from Paula's kiddos in Green Bay, and the many lovely visits from Aunt Becky and Uncle Tim and Rebeca? And my folks?.....Well, it has been fun.
Kim's little Daniel.
We all went out to an open house nearby to a new youth ranch starting up that is committed to working with teen girls and horses. What a neat ministry and work going on there! Their web site is here: http://promisedlandyouthranch.org/
We really enjoyed the open house! The kiddos loved the horse park. :)
Kim's Eliya, and my Charity, got to ride "Texas".
Left, Rick Delise, heading up the ranch, and right, a new "wrangler" volunteer, Audrey. :) Steve and his brother and sister in law are all enjoying involvement in the ranch.
Well, the night was September 17 and with most of the busier season behind us, Steve and I got away to Green Bay for a night to see the Annie Moses Band perform at the Meyer's Theatre. With fiddle and strings deep in my blood, I was in tears of joy just about the whole time. Our niece Jessica watched our kiddos for the evening.
As school season started September first, a new member joined the family, our first family "Kindle". It has been a big hit. Still have hardly any idea how to use it, but I'm getting there. The kids, of course, figured out the games right away.
A dream of Steve's came true this month as well. His search for a good riding horse to join the Camp Lake family came to fruition with the arrival of "Snickers", a gentle brown quarter horse. We look forward to giving rides next season!
Something Grandma Esther taught the girls was how to "pop" these delightful flowering orange pods. I don't remember what this is called, but if you find a tender bulging pod and squeeze it, it bursts into tendrils going a few different directions. This patch of beautiful delicate orange flowers has become a must stop for my girls. It is hard to pull them away!
The pretty flowers....
And...to finish off the summer, school has started with a flourish for us. A lovely young gal helps me out to homeschool my girls and keep things trucking. The girls are doing gymnastics for the first time this year and loving it. I hope to settle into a routine and write more, but this motherhood journey is keeping me hopping. My heart is full, and thankful.
What is a typical day like for kids at a resort? Well, in the spring, they would probably describe it as hanging on tight as Mom and Dad fly around from project to project and head on long trips several times a week for supplies. In the midst of these incredibly busy days I treasure the breaks we take together while Dad continues his work. We've gone to a lot of parks and have enjoyed things like scavenger hunts and treasure hunts there, trips to Subway when there isn't time to cook, planting a garden together, and reading late at night by flashlight The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. What a great author that man is! And I am in wonderment that I finally have children old enough to enjoy a bigger chapter book. They sit around me enraptured and beg for just a little more, mommy! Reminds me of someone!
In the midst of the beautiful Spring, we all got quite sick and I came down with a once in twenty years sinus infection. Between bouts of head pain and sickness, I had a vision inspired by my Mom and Dad, of making beautiful flower log beds. So the project began.
Anders has become a huge fan of following Steve around on projects. If there is a golden opportunity to be with Dad, he is quite happy.
Steve cut up two trees near our house that had fallen in a winter storm as I needed several logs to create the beds.
The kdis loved playing on these fallen trees.
Love watching Steve. He's as good as they come.
Steve suggested using chain and wide washers over screws to loop the log circles together for support.
Have to include that smile.
Taking a little break in picture order--wanted to share some of the early Spring sunniness under the apple tree.
A trip or two or three to Marilyn's Greenhouse in Lakewood to flower the resort to life in the next several weeks.
Steve and Marilyn suggest sand as the base since these beds are fairly deep. Kiddos get to help.
Another break in the order of pictures to go to the stream....just love these little blue flowers.
Charity sets a boat to sail.
And here....the beds are finished, with rocks placed to disperse rainwater from roof at some point. Flowers seem quite happy several weeks later, and I have little lettuces and a basil plant growing in the top bed.
And.....Benjamin......is doing well. Starting to be up on all fours, rocking, scooching....enjoying some baby food and sleeping through the night. His hair continues to captivate. :)
So what do you think of the rumblings and tumblings of Spring work at our little resort, Mr. Benjamin? Your mama and papa and grandparents are busy, busy, busy, and you are left wide eyed and soaking it all in. You will love summer coming. Things calm down a bit and Mama will be taking you on long sunny walks...and be putting you down for even longer sleepy afternoon naps. In the meantime, I hope you see through these crazy busy days how beautiful God's world is and how thankful I am you are a part of it!
Yep, this is your very first Spring. And these are your very first dandelions. Now, folks will tell you these are weeds, but don't believe it for a minute. They are just little pieces of sunshine, soft to the touch, and you can even eat them if you want.
Your sisters couldn't resist.
Now Mr. Benjamin, you can't contribute a lot to society just yet, but this is a pretty amazing hair thing you have going!
We could stay out here all day if it weren't for these pesky bugs!
On to other kiddos and happenings. Anders had his third birthday last week!
And.....Steve rented a skid steer to help move the ginormous manure pile from the winter's cattle feeding.
Someday, Mr. Anders, your turn will come.
Ellie is becoming a wonderful little happy fairy girl...loves her little projects, like the gifts she wraps in towels several times a week in preparation for cousins visiting in...let's see...84 more days...I often feel like I don't spend enough time with her but ask her once a day, in a big hug, "Do you know how much I love you?" to which she always responds...."You just like me a lot." :)
This was a 85 degree day and we had the sprinkler on and lots of fun. We also had muddy children walking in and out of the house for several hours. The day ended with several miscellaneous showers and baths, and a mother's commitment to keep the faucet outside turned off the next day. (this commitment didn't last long)
Charity, Ellie, and Anders have been helping me in a few bits and pieces with the garden readying up by Pine Haven.
"Well," he says "I don't quite know what all the fuss and business is about. There's still plenty of milk from Mama to keep me going, and really, that's all that is important at this stage in the game. But, I will say, you'll do, folks, you'll do. Keep going!"
Ice Swimming and Sunshine Soaking
Winter is over and we are all feeling it!
April 14th. 75-80 degrees. Bass Lake is thawing!
Ellie insisted we bring the floaty toys. I warned that it would more of a play in the sand day, but they all went in the water!
And there is the ice slowly receding and melting away, giving us back our summer season and some of the funnest times of our summer.
Anders seems to have leaped from one and a half years old to about four years old in the space of one winter. It is all packaged in a three year old little boy who is very tall, talkative, and ready for any and all worker-boy projects.
Charity built a sand moat stream that Anders is enjoying.
So, Mom, this is the beach? Okay. Very nice. When can I nurse again?
This was one of those blissful Spring sunny nap afternoons where the house was quiet and happy, many of the windows open, and where soft spring breezes were drifting over sleeping toes.
A week later I took the three older kiddos on an adventure hike on Deer Path Trail. Our mission was to eat many snacks to keep our energy up, and to mark the trail.
Even without the green of lush mid summer, the forest halted me in my tracks with its sparkling beauty.
A boy in a forest. And this is just the beginning, Anders!
Other highlights of life! I hosted a young mom's night at Pine Haven last night. My sister in law Becky came and inspired us with a wonderful meditation on our amazing and loving Creator. We ate chocolate éclair cake, special dishes people brought, and had a campfire to the tune of a thousand cheeping frogs on surrounding lakes in the light of a rising full moon.
Paul Revere's--er--Benjamin's--midnight ride home again after Mommy and Daddy finished touching up the cabin for guests who would arrive in the early morning hours. On the stroller ride home I enjoyed hearing Benjamin's cousin and her friend who were camping out in the hayloft of the barn. We look forward to seeing this place fill up with people again! Fun times ahead, Mr. Benjamin. You will sleep well today!
Well, a lot has happened since January! Winter is waning and Spring, we hear, hope, and believe, is soon coming. Loons and cranes and robins have returned. Snow only stays for short spurts, and grass hesitantly puts forth a green hue as it embraces the new slant to the sunshine. This woodpile is now gone, below, also a sign that Spring better hurry up and come!
..My little knitted baby puff manling has never seen a Spring. Isn't he in for a treat!
We've had many travels and adventures this Spring. We visited my Grandma in Morenci, Michigan, went to a lady's Pioneer Woman retreat in Amhurst, and enjoyed fellowship with a dear cousin out near Eau Claire, and new friends in Athens. We've had many mishaps and adventures closer to home as well. Sometimes I thank the Lord that we are all alive, healthy and ready for each new day!
We enjoyed a children's area in an art museum in Wausau.
Everything about it was wonderful. I loved these magnetic puzzles among other things.
And here.....we challenge Winter to a dual of wills....as the roar echoed for (perhaps miles) around of nine big wheel tires hitting rock and dirt covered pavement!
Another highlight for us: Auntie Louise came to visit, laden with fresh berries, boxes of diapers, conditioner, and many other little doo dads I requested. Louise made my kids feel abundantly loved as she played with them, let them take Hurrican on walks, and just showered them with love and attention. After the kiddos went to bed, Louise, Steve, and I were able to laugh together as we watched old episodes of "The Waltons" and just enjoyed chatting late into the night over Steve's deep dish DiGiorno pizza. Fun times. :)
Louise, the older three, and I enjoyed an invigorating Sunday afternoon hike up to the Upper Field.
Anders called Hurrican his "other brother".
Louise and I aren't sure what this is....but it is everywhere, and so pretty.
Speaking of Mr.Anders....he is so funny, and robust, and just changing all the time.
We all made it across except Ellie, who got quite wet. :) (coming home)
Ellie turns five! (She looks so much like her papa here!)
And...one last photo of my little blue eyed pea and Mama.
Deep quiet night surrounds us as I rest back in our living room easy chair. I have just nursed Benjamin and he is plastered to my chest in a nearly unconscious milk doze. His little back arches as his tiny bottom sticks up over my tummy, knees tucked under. Arms fall straight out and down over the sides of my chest and his face, now fast asleep, leans in to me, ear pressed just near the irresistible lull of my heart beat.
I remember Ellie's blanket made earlier that day. It is of yellow flannel, popsicle sticks and multi colored pom-pom balls. I have never seen a more beautiful gift from a more adoring heart. Ellie insists on laying it over Benjamin at every opportunity.
Now my mind slips back to shopping at Aldi's a few days before with Benjamin in front of me in the cart and Ellie traipsing along nearby, nearly bounding about the store in her efforts to be a good helper.
We slowly make our way through the many shoppers and I notice an Amish family come in. Incredibly cute little ones gaze shyly at Ellie with adorable kitten like brown eyes as we pass.
Their busy mother speaks a soft agitated word correcting a child. She sounds just like a mother I know on a busy day at the store. My heart wishes I could connect, yet know our cultures and ways of life are so far apart. I smile kindly and work around them to the next aisle.
Benjamin catches my eye as he is now awake. His still nearly newborn eyes sparkle with a deep piercing blue wetness. Right now they seem to see into my soul and suddenly he smiles up at me, as if to say I am his morning sun and it has just come out. The joy emanating from him stops me in my tracks and I lean over the cart to somehow give him back as much as he has just given me.
Some days it is hard to keep up with his joy. How can he know that the world is a fallen, horrible place, where spurts of peace and happiness are followed by seasons of grievous heartache, where one must fight hard to be thankful, happy, or to just function and keep all the wheels turning. I have noticed that when agitation overtakes me, my baby seems to get a furrowed brow and small whimpers start. Is it just my imagination?
I straighten my shoulders, ignore the pain at times in my heart, and smile and coo over him.
Back in Aldi's I check out with Ellie's almost uncontainable energetic helping hands. Benjamin has started wailing, his high pitched, insistent, everyone-in-the-store can hear it, cry. I have to ignore it and get this job done. I am used to having to do this, but the shoppers around me are not. I can't wait to hold my little boy, but Ellie and I focus on bagging up our groceries.
"Do you need some help?" A lady with long brown hair and a kind smile is at my side. I hesitate. In a former life of not wanting to be an imposition, I would have smiled back and said all was well.
Now I am touched at someone reaching out. Even if I don't need help, I will think of something. I ask her if she could hold Benjamin, and gently lay him in her arms. She coos over him and listens to Ellie's nonstop conversation good naturedly.
I finish bagging the last food items and look up to see the Amish mother smiling at me. I smile back.
A moment has been shared across busy lives and worlds of cultural differences. I take Benjamin tuck blankets around him, happy now, into his carseat for the ride home.
Back in my easy chair it is 3:30 in the morning. I soak in the baby-ness that is one with the rise and fall of my chest.
I cling to that joy, pray harder, and let the memory of Benjamin's smiles wash over me like a loving touch from the hand of God. Surely only He can be the author of such intense beauty, or be the creator of little girls who lovingly lay yellow popsicle blankets over their little brothers.
Thank you, Lord.
Below: More pictures of JOY.
Of Things Ice and Snow...
Snow has at last come! And what better way to celebrate than check out the ice hockey and skating at the nearby town hall?
And, in typical Walker fashion, being somewhere I wasn't sure was open yet.
Upon seeing a gentleman in the inside office, I did check with him to make sure we could use the rink, and he said it would be fine, as long as we didn't use ice skates. Apparently the ice has to be "groomed" a little more first. The kiddos, and myself, quickly remembered how slippery ice is. We found these handy walkers in the shed and put them to good use!
Charity realized that the taller you become, the harder your falls. I cheered her up telling her how it was even harder to fall when you were as tall as Mom. And....just think of Daddy falling! The whole rink might break apart as that would be like a tree falling! Her tearful countenance cheered a bit. :)
We had some great races, next. On your marks...
And in other news....earlier on a good homeschooling day...all fingers were on deck.
As we created a counting board of 10's.
This is from a few weeks ago, and has nothing to do with ice, or numbers, but I have to include a smiling Benjamin somewhere in my post!
And now back to the story.....We had a great time learning how to fall, and how to keep anyone from taking our pucks...
As dusk fell and the falling snow subsided, I took a few last pictures of some of my favorite things--my Charity girl and the beautiful wild snow laden forest behind.
Creating a Need
Contemplating in the middle of
the night how it seems a great part of my life revolves around filling in the
holes that are constantly appearing in the household. Just when the TP runs low,
so do the diaper wipes and one of the three sizes of diapers on hand. Run to the
store and try to get everything needed, then in a week's time no more milk in
the house or the shampoo's about out. In addition to the needs there are a whole
host of nice things that would make life better and I have constant lists on
multitudinous sticky notes for more "things" next time we get out.
then of course, add in six summer cottages, you just have all kinds of
checklists of "needs" running, and other checklists of all the things you want
to do, or want your hubby to do (in addition to his own checklists etc.).
Add to this the whirlwind of keeping up with resort deposits,
reservations, emails, phone calls, printing of brochures, fliers, welcome signs,
runs to the bank, rewriting mistakes on lengthy deposit tickets, ordering
history books, taking children to lakes, streams for frog-catching, cooking
meals and keeping about 20 loads of laundry going a week (not counting resort
laundry, which Grandma helps with), it is a busy place around here!
then you throw in a little thing like rearranging the house due to moving
downstairs for the winter, and the carefully balanced set of needs becomes one
huge need for order in the midst of a mountain of responsibility that threatens
to be a crumbling mountain of mixed up paperwork and unhappy children and grumpy
parents, or maybe just grumpy Mama.
In light of LIFE, I have been
contemplating some re-evaulations, which I hope I will follow through with.
Brought to tears this week reading of my sister's work in Africa, I was struck
with sadness over the death of one of the babes she helps love at an orphanage
near her home in Kenya. I look at my own plump Anders, thriving and already
rolling and scooching all over the place at 4 months, who gets so much love, and
my heart lurches at the thought of these little ones far away with so many
I am hoping to save up some extra money to send over there.
Anyone want to help me? Kim is setting up a project fund for help. $50 a month
will buy them 890 bananas, or hire another person to work there full time 10
days a month (or did Kim say 20?)
So yesterday as we pulled into
Walmart I took out my checklists and looked at my needs and crossed a few items
off that I could do without. I've decided I want to work toward not having all
the holes filled in in my life. In addition to wanting to help out Kim and her
big heart and love for these little tykes, I see such a need to create a need in
my own life.
I don't want to have it all together. I don't want my
children to have everything they need. I want to live with a vacuum that can
only be filled by the Lord and hard work. If my girls don't have something, I
want them to grow up and remember their life as being FUN, filled with hard
work, and a little bit of stretching that last potato. I want them to remember
lean times, and times where they made their own fun and turned to the woods to
build forts and learned to be excited over a new dress or toy once in a
I'm sure not there yet. I love to make a good household that
functions and I love to make it perfect, but I also feel a great need to create
Ask me in a few years how I've done. I think this will be
something I'll be working on slowly. Lately I have felt so old and tired. By
midday my back hurts and I'm exhausted and often all three little ones seem to
need me at the same time. I need wisdom on how to juggle it all and how to know
how to deal with the constant nagging guilt of spending too much time on the
business end wondering how much time I should give my children. Yet the business
is our bread and Steve and I run it together. And I REALLY ENJOY the challenge
and creativity of helping run it.
These tight days are gloriously filled
with fun, hard work, but I need to accept that some needs I just won't be able
to fill. And somehow I need to remember that creating a need or just letting a
need continually exist in one department, might be the vacuum in my soul that
draws me closer to the Lord.
Enough rambling--back to bed. If you've
made it this far, thank you for listening to a mother's heart. Goodnight
Yesterday we drove out to Silt, Colorado to visit a wonderful new friend from my lady's Bible Study group, Dorothy Ann.
It was a very bright sort of day! Dorothy had invited us to come see all their new baby calves on their ranch.
We also passed a sheep farm.
We had a fun visit with Dorothy Ann and her husband.
In other news.....made one of my favorite desserts Saturday from Taste of Home. The rough idea is layers:
Angel Food Cake pieces
Banana slices in lemon juice
Jello with cut up fresh strawberries
I also finally made a pot of chicken and dumplings. I studied online and learned how to cut and prepare half moon leeks. Fun addition to the soup, although in my pregnant state, made the house smell too much like onions.
I use standard recipes--but like adding cornmeal to the dumplings. I use cornstarch broth base o thicken and fry veggies ahead of time (carrots, celery, leeks). It is a great winter comfort food.
That's it for now Hope everyone has a good start to the week. :)
Thank you for joining our family for a minute as we share with you glimpses of our life in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Steve and I run a small resort and have four children, Charity, Ellie, Anders and Benjamin. I enjoy writing, cooking, homeschooling, and watching old movies with Steve. :)