On Valentines day; February 14, 2018; five minutes before midnight; my brand new baby brother was born! He weighed 9 lbs. and 6 oz. He is the sixth boy, meaning that the boys outnumber the girls again! Will the girls ever get ahead? 🙂
His name is Keats Freeman. Keats is not only the name of an old English romantic poet, but the name itself means Shepherd. And Freeman means “free man”!
The moment I saw him, I fell in love with him, and now I can’t stop snuggling and kissing him! Here are a couple of pictures of the chubby little guy; 🙂
A little over a month ago, at around 5:00 AM, all twelve of us hopped into our mini-bus, which was hitched up to our camping trailer, and started driving to North Carolina. We were on an adventure!! Everyone was excited and ready! But then, somebody informed Mom and Dad that they had left their shoes at home… thankfully, we were still in our neighborhood, and only about a minute’s run away from our house. The ‘somebody’ ran back and got the shoes… and then we started again, on our adventure.
We drove for a while, uneventfully. When we got to West Virginia the mountains were so beautiful. Every now and then one or two people would exclaim and point out the window, then everyone would look out and the bus would fill with yells of; ‘Look over there!’ ‘Where’s my camera?’ ‘Wow, Mom, look at the mountains!’ ‘Cotton, we’re driving through a cloud!’ and other such comments, the view was awesome, once we passed over and beside a valley that the sun hadn’t reached yet, so we looked down at the clouds filling it, God is so amazing!
Another amazing cliff!
But having to go up and down the mountains made the bus start heating up, so Dad turned off the air conditioning to let it get cooler. It didn’t seem like too much of a problem then, so we continued driving slowly until we got to Charleston, WV, where we stopped at a ‘Days Inn’ for the night. It had a nice little pool, (which we were all very thankful for!) and we all jumped in as soon as possible because of the super humid heat. Then we enjoyed a nutritious meal of french fries and chicken nuggets.
After that, we all packed into a single hotel room to change back into our sweaty clothes, floss and brush our teeth, and go to bed.
The room had two double beds, so my mom and dad slept in one, two of my younger siblings, Tucker and Snowy, slept in the other bed, and I slept between the beds on a bunch of pillows arranged on the floor. Dad had the brilliant idea of putting Cotton in a dresser drawer, but we never ended up leaving her like that! Everyone else slept on the floor as well, one in a play-pen, three together on a blanket, one in a sleeping bag made out of a blanket, me on pillows, another in a sleeping bag, and the last rolled in a sheet! I personally, found it quite impressive that our whole family could fit into one room. (though it was a little scary imagining waking up to find someone jumping off the bed and onto me!)
I woke up the next day, to the sound of giggling younger children, mixed with the occasional yell. I lay in my ‘bed’, realizing that the pillows had all moved so that I was basically sleeping on a sheet on the floor! I lay there until I felt little Nova crawl onto me, thus giving me no excuse to sleep, so I got up.
I was expecting it to be 8:00 AM or so, but instead it was around 5:30 AM. We all put away our makeshift beds, and ate an early breakfast at the inn’s breakfast buffet.
Then we all jumped in our bus again and started off.
We started climbing up the mountains again, and our bus started getting hot. The more we climbed the hotter and hotter our bus got, and we couldn’t do anything about it! Dad kept driving, but he had to turn off the air conditioning again, because it made the engine heat up faster. So all us kids were in the back, reading, writing, lying down, and sweating like crazy!
Up and down we went, with every mountain we got slower, until we were just creeping up each rise. Finally we turned off the highway and came to an old Exxon gas station and a tiny, old, rusty campground, that looked like it hadn’t been used in fifty years!
We had a snack and bathroom-break, while Dad walked up to the gas station. Mom and Dad had been talking in the bus, and they both knew that we couldn’t keep going, but we couldn’t turn back either, so they had decided that we needed to leave the camper trailer somewhere, and that was why Dad was going to the gas station, to ask the owner if we could leave our trailer there for a week or so!
The man said it would be fine, but that he was going somewhere and could only watch our trailer for a certain amount of time. Dad thanked him for his kindness, and parked the trailer, then we unpacked all the things we thought we’d need, and you wouldn’t believe how much stuff was packed in there we had to cram it all into the bus. Though we did forget a couple of things!
Then we left, and we truly didn’t know if we would ever see that trailer again. We got on our way again, with a slightly more cool bus, and a considerably more cool crew!
Finally we made it to North Carolina. We all felt relieved that we had actually made it all the way there. But we didn’t have our camping trailer, so we needed to find a place to stay for the night, and by that time, we were so desperate we would have stayed anywhere! So we decided, to go check out the the camp that my older brothers Duke and Dorian were going to (the reason we went to North Carolina) and to ask them if they had any ideas.
The people who ran the camp were really excited to meet us all, and it turned out that they had a friend who worked at a resort-like place nearby, so they called him and he had two rooms that were available for one night. We drove over and got situated in our rooms, then we went out for a delicious pizza and salad supper, and a visit to a playground nearby, where we all tried out some moves from a TV show we had seen at the restaurant called American Ninja, which was basically different men and women going through very challenging obstacle courses. It was actually quite fun!
When we got back to our rooms, everyone had showers or baths (although it was nice to freshen up, I was a little disappointed because the shampoo and conditioner were two of the thing left in the camper, which was in West Virginia! So I washed my hair with body-wash/bubble-bath stuff!). This time I got my own double bed, and it was quite comfy!
The next day we packed up and headed out, Mom and Dad had found a cottage to rent for the week, so we settled in at sweet little place on the side of a river-like lake (or maybe it was a lake-like river, I never found out!), then we dropped the boys off at their camp.
Snowy jumping off the boat
Poppy watching us swim
Me and Nova
Tobin and Cotton
For the next three days, we enjoyed swimming in the slimy water (the mud at the bottom actually stains your toenails a gross reddish-green colour!), having some great family time,
Cotton & Watermelon
Auden stuffing seeds through the deck
Watermelon in the sun
And, on one day, going to the NC Zoo!
It was a blisteringly hot day, and we drove for a while until we got to the zoo, when we got there, we were just going to buy a pass for each individual person for one day, but when we found out that a family year-pass was less expensive, that’s what we bought.
We have a couple elephant lovers in our family, Tucker is the original
Snowy, Auden, Cotton
Then after the few days were over, we picked up the boys, packed up the bus, and had our last sleep in North Carolina!
The next day we woke up early in the morning and left for an uneventful (truly this time!) trip back. On our way back we stopped to check if our trailer was still there, and it was.
We stopped in Sarnia for Mom to pick up the U-Haul truck Dad had ordered. We also stopped near there and got some pizza and root beer, and started driving again, until we got to out local community center, where we ate and played at the play ground, then we drove home.
We got home late that night, and everyone went to bed, happy to be home at last. But the adventure wasn’t over yet!
Early the next morning, at about 4:00 AM, me and Dad hopped into the U-Haul pick-up truck that Mom had driven home the night before, and drove all the way back to West Virginia, we stopped in Charleston and had a delicious Mexican lunch, (we also were joking that this was my birthday celebration, as it was was quite near my birthday, Dad thought it was a great idea, but me? mm… not so much! 😉 ) then we picked up our trailer and headed back.
We started thinking about supper, but neither of us were hungry, so we bought two juices and continued home.
When we got to Sarnia, we dropped off the U-Haul and Mom came to pick us up. When we finally got home, (again!) it was 2:00 AM, so I got ready for bed as quickly as I could and went to sleep (the next day I think I slept in until 10:00 AM).
Throughout the whole trip I kept thinking of one verse;
‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’
Thank you Jesus for the wonderful, exciting, ridiculously crazy trip! I love you!
About two weeks ago, at around eight o’clock in the morning, my whole family packed up our mini-bus and camper-trailer, and headed off to Tobermory!
We drove for about three hours until we got to Owen Sound, where we stopped and met the lovely couple who run a bed and breakfast, called The Highland Manor, where my dad stays when he works there. The bed and breakfast is a beautiful eighteenth century mansion, and it felt like I had stepped back in time a hundred years, it was amazing! Another thing that was interesting about it was that years before, a midwife had owned the building, and used it for a maternity hospital; a safe place for women to give birth. I found that especially interesting, as I want to be a midwife myself!
After about an hour, we said goodbye and got on our way again.
When we got to our campground, two families we knew were already there; five families (us and four other families) had planned to stay at the same campground. We said ‘hello’ and started setting up our site.
All the families got together that night for a campfire, and that was a great way to start out the camping trip!
Over the next three days, we got to enjoy some really fun experiences, including; swimming in the campground’s pool, playing ‘Capture the Flag’, playing frisbee, having campfires, walking everywhere barefoot, testing out some campfire snack ideas, going to ‘the Grotto’, going to the Singing Sands beach, and a lot of other things!
The Grotto is a beach on the Bruce Peninsula, it is all rocky with huge stone cliffs, and caves with water for their floor! It was beautiful there, a very worthwhile place to visit if you are ever in Tobermory!
The water looks tropical but it’s freezing!
I love this picture!
An underwater tunnel out!
A large cave from above
The same cave from the bottom
Beautiful wall of ‘the’ Grotto
Singing Sands beach is also very neat, when we were there the air was cold and the water was warm, which made the water actually steam!
There was a beautiful trail made out of wooden boards, and while walking on it, me and one of my friends noticed a strange kind of flower with rubbery petals, we wondered what it was. After walking for a bit longer, we realized it was the flower of a kind of Pitcher-Plant, then we ran back and told the rest of our families and friends.
The Pitcher-Plants’ leaves, which are the reason for its name, are shaped like little pitchers, inside the leaf; tiny hairs point downwards, the leaves are half-filled with some kind of liquid that helps digest bugs that fall into this amazing flytrap! I think it is amazing how God thinks of everything!
The back of a flower!
The front of a flower!
I read on a sign at the end of the trail, that even the smooth, tall stem of the flower helps bugs to slip down into the leaves, and the tiny hairs that point down make it almost impossible for insects to escape, then the plant digests them! The sign also said since sometimes soil is missing a certain kind of nutrient that plants need, not a lot of plants can live in those places, but since bugs are full of the nutrient, Pitcher-Plants are able to grow where not a lot of that kind of nutrient in the soil! Isn’t God amazing?
After four days and four nights, everyone packed up and headed home again, but since renovations were still going on at our new house, one family asked if we wanted to camp at their house for a night, we excepted, and had a fun night and half-day at their house, then we headed home, (though we did stop at a park for a picnic supper!).
Eating supper together!
Putting away supper together!
When we got home, everyone was tired, sticky, itchy, sandy, dirty, and sweaty, but everyone was glad to be home! (And I admit I’m glad to not be sleeping on the pull-out couch in the main room of our trailer, which also happened to be right in front of the front door!) After all that fun and excitement, I’m certainly glad to be home!
A few days ago, my mom and dad decided that we should go to the beach, and we all thought it was a great idea, because it was a warm day and all of us were sweating! We got into our swimsuits, put my four youngest siblings in two double-strollers, packed up some beach-toys, and started walking.
As we walked, we kept glancing over in the direction of the lake; dark, angry clouds were rolling towards us from over the lake. We walked quickly, hoping either that the storm would pass by us, or that we would at least get a few minutes at the beach, and a dry walk home. We got to the beach entrance, and ran down the sand to the water. Above the lake, dark grey clouds brooded; a long, caterpillar-like cloud seemed to be the leader of them; pulling them towards the shore, and towards us.
As I stood in awe, looking up at the approaching storm clouds, and listening to the thunder, I knew I had a choice between being afraid, or being amazed. I knew I could flee from the storm, or run into it.
I ran into it.
I ran into the water and stood in it; I was not afraid. I knew that God protected me, God protected my family, and nothing could hurt us.
Some of my brothers and my dad, ran out until the water reached their waists, and dove under, we were all laughing as me and my mom ran out into the water. As soon as everyone who wanted to get wet was wet, we turned around and started running home, we all started feeling little sprinkles of rain, so we packed the four youngest into the strollers again, threw some towels over them, and continued running. The rain started pounding down, and I ran as fast as I could. The rain stung my face and neck, so I covered my face with my arms and kept running, I smiled and laughed all the way home.
When my whole family got home, we all gathered in the garage; everyone was soaked and laughing. We all got changed and got cozy for a family movie-night, but when we looked outside again, it had stopped raining completely! So, we hung up our wet swimsuits and let them dry on the clothesline.
A few days earlier, my dad took six of my younger siblings for a bike-ride, to our local community center to play at the playground there, and two of my other brothers were out looking for edible wild-plants. That left me, my mom, and my older brother Dorian at home; we thought it would be nice if we could bike down to the park with a picnic lunch, and eat it there. So my mom packed up a delicious lunch, and sent it with Dorian, who unicycled to the park a little before be biked there. After Dorian left, we finished up a few things, strapped on our helmets, got on our bikes, and headed off!
When we got to the park, we found everyone playing happily on the playground, but we had just parked our bikes, when we started feeling little drops of rain. I took my one-year-old sister Nova out of the baby-swing, and ran to the nearby pavilion; it looked like it had only been made a year before, and had a bunch of nice, new, (and perfectly long) picnic-tables. We sat at one of the tables, and started eating lunch. Outside it started raining heavily, it rained the whole time we were eating lunch, but then the rain stopped, and the sun came out, just as we were finishing up!
I find it interesting that the first time God made it rain, He perfectly timed it so that we would be under a shelter the whole time it rained, and the rain didn’t hinder us in any way, and the second time, He perfectly timed it that we would be out during the rain, and have shelter after the rain was over!
I love rainstorms, and I love being in them, I love hearing the thunder, and seeing the lightning, and seeing the plants watered. When there is a thunderstorm, the grass and trees always seem more bright, green and alive! Every time I hear thunder, I think of how mighty, and powerful, and strong our God is! So strong that even storms are under His control!
About five days ago, my family hitched up our big camping-trailer to our mini-bus, packed them both up with blankets, pillows, food, books, clothes, and a few extra mattresses, and set off for four days of adventure!
We drove for about two hours, until we got to our destination; the Meyers’ house. The Meyers are great friends of ours, and they also have ten kids (and happen to own a mini-bus almost exactly the same as ours!). We set up the camper, unpacked a bit, and played for a few hours, then went to bed.
In the next three-and-a-half days, we had a great time; making dioramas (more about that later!), foraging for fiddle-heads, ‘garage-saling’, making dandelion jelly (that didn’t actually work very well), making apple-crisp and strawberry-banana ice-cream, playing uncountable games of ‘kick-the-can’ (kick the soccer-ball, actually 🙂 ), kayaking, canoeing, playing with Guinea Pigs, taking care of little children, swinging in hammocks, doing the horse’s hair, and playing one, epic, late-night game of ‘Capture-the-Flag’ with both the dads!
There were a few not-so-enjoyable parts as well, like burning myself multiple times on a hot glue-gun, or when I tripped and grabbed the nearest tree, which also happened to be covered in inch-long thorns, but I personally think that the god times utterly drown out the bad.
One day, me and my two friends, Piper Meyer, and Winter Meyer, walked for about a kilometer, in search of fiddle-heads – fiddle-heads are baby ferns, that are still rolled up. We sold them to a man who sold them to fancy restaurants. We found a really good place for picking them, and were probably gone for two or three hours, just picking and picking! In the end, we had about eight pounds altogether.
Also, Me, Piper, Winter, and my little sister Snowy, all went boating in the river in a kayak and a canoe; we paddled for a long time, probably and hour, until we came to a bridge, where we stopped and pulled the boats up on land, and the two dads picked us tired, black-fly covered girls up (I actually put a bag over my head, to keep black-flies out of my face!).
Me and Winter also put up the mini-horse’s tail, mane, and forelock, I braided her mane, Winter braided her forelock, and I did a fishtail-braid in her tail. That was fun, as none of my little sisters have hair that long or that thick!
Me and Clementine
Me and Clementine
We did a bunch of activities like those, but the one craft we were mainly working on, was making dioramas. A diorama is a mini-landscape – ours were made out of foam, glue, paint, glue, wire, tooth-picks, glue, hairspray, kitty-litter, glue, a few materials made especially for diorama-making, and some people used glitter. Oh, and lots of glue!
First, we cut out our platforms, and rocks out of foam, then, we glued the ‘rocks’ to our platforms with a glue-gun. The thing is, if you want it to look more realistic, you want to cut out tiny little pieces, to look like rises and hills. Next, we glued on burlap, with the glue-gun, and pushed it into all the cracks we wanted to see, then, with a paintbrush, we painted white glue all over it, to make the burlap hard.
Once the glue was dried we painted whatever color each person wanted. I painted one of mine white (for snow) and the other one dark-green, light-green and gold. We also painted our rocks grey, though I painted mine silver (most of us left our rocks alone, not covering them with burlap). Then the fun really began! We sprinkled this powder-dust that looks like moss when you put it on, and then we sprayed hairspray on it to make it stick!
We made trees from tooth-picks, wire, paint, and another kind of chunky moss-like stuff, that was for making trees and bushes. I made two rivers, out of glue-gun glue, white glue, and blue and glitter, and it turned out better than I thought it would! It was really fun to be so creative, and be able to make your own little world!
After four wonderful days and four tired nights, filled with the noise of two large families, we are back at home again. I personally, looking forward to my warm, cozy bed, because every time I woke up on the little pull-out couch in the trailer, I would feel really cold!
After four amazing, dirty, muddy, wet, happy, fun, slimy, cold, windy, sparkly, warm, sticky, dusty, cozy days, with twenty-three amazing other people, I’m glad to be home!
Today is my Dad’s 42nd birthday, and I wanted to make his birthday cake, so I doubled a gluten-free brownie recipe, you can find the recipe here, and then I made a doubled recipe of chocolate avocado icing, the recipe for it is here.
And then I made up a sort of raspberry sauce, with raspberries, maple-syrup, coconut oil, and some cashews soaked in water for a few minutes. I blended them all up together , then I spread some of it on the bottom layer of the cake, set the second layer on, and then covered the sides and top with chocolate icing.
For the raspberry sauce, I was originally going to use a toothpick, and make one of those pretty patterns using two kinds of slightly watery icing, but both the icing and the sauce were too thick, so I tried piping it, with supplies from a cake-decorating set I got for my birthday a few years ago. The piping worked out well, though I did need to put the bag in the freezer to thicken it up! Dad hasn’t seen the cake yet, so I am hoping it will be a surprise at suppertime… Happy Birthday Dad!!!
My brother, Dorian, also writes about his birthday cake, which is the same recipe minus the raspberry sauce, in his blog, Scouting From Home