Category Archives: family

Lemon Grove Loop Trail

I’ve always loved lemons, and ever since I named my blog after lemons, I’ve loved them even more. Sour tastes can be so good, and then being able to take something that is sour and making it sweet seems like a miracle. It’s like the soft version of making water into wine. Lemonade, lemon drops, lemon meringue pie; all delicious things coming from something so sour! Lemons suit me and my story of becoming a mother after cancer.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been visiting my sister in California, and she has her very own lemon tree growing on her patio! We spent the first full day of our visit picking lemons, hiking on the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo, and making fresh lemonade. I was in lemon heaven!

Lily picking lemons

Lily picking lemons from the lemon tree

Emmy picking lemons

Emmy concentrating on picking a lemon

Only the first selfie of my sister and me in a series of selfies.

Only the first selfie of my sister and me in a series of selfies.


Emmy and Lily on the Lemon Grove Trail

lemon grove

Lemon tree on the Lemon Grove Loop Trail



Growing Up Together {Spin Cycle}

I like to tell people that I grew up with my cousins, but that’s not necessarily true. The ministry had scattered the family on my dad’s side all over the country; from Alaska to Ohio. I never knew my dad’s parents, in person anyway. They died before I was born, but they live on in stories told frequently by my dad and his brothers and sisters. Despite death and distance, the sisters and brothers remained close. Our families met, when we could, twice a year, at Thanksgiving and at The Lake.

Our family took  a week-long vacation at a lake every the summer. The Lake changed from time to time; we started renting cottages at Lake Huron, then one summer rented at Duck Lake (yucky, only lasted one year), Lake Hemlock (a camp, which was cool because the cousins stayed in our own “chalets”), and now, a large house on Lake Michigan. I’m using the term “growing up together” loosely because we didn’t live around the block from each other, much less the same town. As cousins, we loosely grouped ourselves into age groups. We had an older group that all of us younger cousins loved hanging out with, but as you can imagine, the older cousins did their own things away from the younger cousins. Occasionally we would do things together, such as act out plays for our parents or walk to the gas station to buy candy. And cards. We loved to play cards. Our cousin Mark taught us the finer points of the game 500, such as going in the hole just to keep the other pair from getting the bid. (His brother plays the same way.) Mark drove us to the movies. (Spaceballs one summer.) He played the game of Risk with his brother and teased his little sister unmercifully.


Playing 500 (Mark is on the left.)

As we became adults, the age groups dissipated. Jobs and families scattered us apart, from California to the United Kingdom, but we still kept up with each other. Out of all the cousins, we probably prayed for Mark the most. He was a West Point graduate, and the Army sent him all over the world. We prayed for Mark to safely come back home, and he always did. But then Mark was attacked by an enemy that we didn’t expect. Cancer.  We all prayed even harder for Mark and his wife Kathy, and it looked like he was winning the war.

When the email came from my cousin that Mark had died, I didn’t quite believe it. I had to call my dad just to confirm the news. It was a quite a shock to us all.

The last time I saw Mark was at my mother’s funeral. He was in uniform; probably the only time I’d ever seen him in uniform. We usually saw Mark on vacation; out of uniform. My cousins and I were so lucky to grow up with Mark. He was well loved, and he will be missed. Especially when there’s a good card game going on.

Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)

Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)


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Ice Cream Top 10

Ice cream and me. We go way back together. My love affair with ice cream started way back when I was a little girl and our church would have ice cream socials. The men of the church would be out back, churning ice cream by hand, using cream straight from the dairy farm down the road. We would be in the parish hall eating it by the bowlfuls. I can still taste the fresh peach ice cream! Best of all, our family would get to take home some leftovers! There was something crispy and icy and creamy about that homemade ice cream that is hard for any ice cream store to replicate.

Even though we don’t churn our own ice cream any more, my girls love ice cream just as much as I do. They would eat it any time of day, and sometimes I say no. No ice cream. And then look what happens!

The disadvantage of having a lower freezer.

The disadvantage of having a lower freezer.

July is National Ice Cream month (I know! Ice cream should have its own month!) so today’s Tuesday Ten is all about ice cream! I always start with vanilla, my favorite flavor. Emmy loves vanilla, just like me. My husband is partial to chocolate along with my older daughter, Lily.

I’m not a big fan of chocolate ice cream, so here is a list of my favorite ice cream flavors and toppings for this week’s:

The Golden Spoons

1. Vanilla, topped with:
2. Crushed pretzels – salty sweet!
3. Caramel – Mmmmm!
4. Chocolate chips – never wrong!
5. Cinnamon – Mix it in!
6. Roasted peanuts – crunchy!

7. Moose Tracks – vanilla with mini peanut butter cups and a fudge ripple
8. Marion Blackberry – from Sherman’s Ice Cream in South Haven, Michigan. A once a year treat!
9. Sea Salt Caramel Cashew Ice Cream from the Schwan’s man – as delicious as it sounds!
10. Soft serve vanilla from Dairy Queen, dipped in a chocolate shell – a summer must!

We don’t have an ice cream maker at home, but we do have a recipe to make our own ice cream! This is a fun project to do with your kids, and the results are delicious!

Ziploc Bag Ice Cream

In a pint size ziploc bag add: 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 cup half and half. (I like to double bag this.)

In a gallon ziplock freezer bag add ice and 6 tablespoons of coarse kosher salt. Place the small bag inside the large bag and seal. Shake it up!

In about five minutes, you’ll have your own, homemade soft serve ice cream! Enjoy!


Kicking Off!

It’s the first full week of summer! Lily and Emmy have been out of school for almost three weeks now, and we’re slowly adjust to summer’s routine. I should write “lack of routine,” which is both freeing and horrible at the same time. We can sleep late, there’s no homework, and we can watch TV in the middle of the day. And we can also lie on the floor moaning about how bored we are and how no one will play with me, watch TV until we’re zombies and then not want to go to sleep at night because we’re not tired, and whine at the grocery store even though the cupboard are completely bare at home.

Yes, summer’s wonderful!

Our summer routine includes:

1. Swim Team for Lily. She has two hour practices every day, which wore her out at first. She’s becoming a stronger swimmer and has been working on diving off the block and flip turns. She was really looking forward to her first swim meet last week. Unfortunately, dark clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped into the 50′s, so it was cancelled. We were looking forward to her second swim meet on Wednesday…and then dark clouds rolled in and the Thor guard went off, and it was postponed. Ah, summer in the Midwest! Finally yesterday, Lily was able to swim in her first swim meet!

Lily swimming with her team during warm-ups.

Lily swimming with her team during warm-ups.

She was so nervous, but she did fine! It was a home meet, and the coaches asked for parent volunteers to time the swimmers. I’ve never done it before…but I volunteered anyway. I figured if Lily was brave enough to do something new that made her nervous, I’d go ahead and do the same thing! It turned out to be an easy job, and I was able to meet one of the other swim team moms.

2. Vacation Bible School was this week! This was the first year I was not the VBS director, and I have to admit it was a welcome change. I can’t stay away from VBS, though, and I was the Bible Story Teller. When I started helping with VBS, I was pregnant with Emmy. Now both my girls are in the oldest groups for VBS! How did that happen?

Emmy VBS

Emmy came down with “leprosy” during VBS.

3. Daily Visits to a Playground: This was one of my goals for the summer, and while weather and schedules have interfered somewhat, we’ve gone to the park a lot! We’ve also been trying to eat plenty of ice cream to make sure we have energy to go to the park.

How are you kicking off your summer? Link up your summer posts here or tell us in the comments!

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Ten Things I Love About My Dad

Back in May, the Tuesday Ten crew wrote Ten Things we love about our moms. It’s time to write about our fathers now that it’s June! Here are ten things I love about my Dad, although I’m sure I could write many more!

The Golden Spoons

10. Whenever we go to Grandpa’s house for a visit, he makes big pancakes for Lily and Emmy. I, however, love eating them just as much if not more than the girls!

9. His love of books. Growing up, we were constantly surrounded by books, magazines and the newspaper. When I was in training to become a teacher, I learned that this was a “literature-rich environment” which we were supposed to encourage parents to have at home.

8. When Dad picks up a book, he always opens it up to the end and starts reading. Is this something I love, or something that drives me crazy? Hmm.

Skipping to the end of the book!

Skipping to the end of the book!

7. He is a wonderful storyteller. Whether he’s telling about someone he once knew or his latest joke, Dad knows how to tell a good story.

6. When my sister and I were young, Dad took us on bike rides around the country. Once we stopped by a creek and saw some hedge apples as we walked around. I don’t know why I remember this; maybe because hedge apples look so interesting and aren’t really apples at all.

5. Dad finds beauty in nature, even in strange things like hedge apples. He loves the twists and turns of his corkscrew willow tree and the way grapes grow on his trellis.

4. Dad loves thinking of things for his grandchildren to do. We’ve searched for bison in the middle of a prairie restoration area, went to see the dam by his house many times, and he even took the girls to a train museum. On our last trip to visit, we went on a paddle boat for the first time!



3. He sends out regular emails to the extended family, telling us what he is remembering that day or where he’s traveling. Dad loves to travel!

2. He throws the best quotes into those emails, and I usually know which book he’s referring to. Chalk that up to our literature-rich environment!

1. Dad is so proud of all his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments, and he lets us know!

I’m so pleased to be co-hosting Tuesday Ten for the month of June with Lisa of The Golden Spoons and Rabia from The Liebers!

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Image Map


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