Saturday, August 27, 2005

new baseball fan

I have never been an especially devoted fan of any sport, though I can still sing my high school fight song and remember every single word.
If I had to choose one sport I enjoy watching it would have to be basketball....I understand it, you can see what the players are doing, it moves quickly, all the important elements for me and my miniscule athletic attention span.

I did love watching little league baseball when my two older boys played but hadn't thought much about baseball until last winter when our son, Sam, went through the school that trains professional umpires. But that is for another blog entry.

I think I may have become a real baseball fan. Today I had my own Jerry MacQuire moment, or at least I have come to realize that there are some professional athletes who have a conscience, who are living a life that makes one a worthy role model.

Our son, Clayton, directed me to a website that has given me hope and encouragement and also a new interest in the St. Louis Cardinals because of Albert Pujols and his very public and very moving personal testimony of his faith in Jesus Christ. Pujols is not only a Christian but unquestionably the best player in major league baseball today.

Beyond that, he has done something else that is very politically incorrect. Pujols has started a foundation that, among other things, aids children who have Down's Syndrome. Their mission statement reads as follows:

Mission Statement:
To live and share our commitment to faith, family and others.

The Pujols Family Foundation was founded in 2005 with the sole purpose of reflecting the love and compassion for children in the hearts of Albert and Deidre Pujols. We are committed to a calling of love and service, dedicating our lives to seeing every child as God’s creation - more precious and important to Him than anyone could ever imagine.

At the core of the Pujols Family Foundation is the belief that every person is special in the sight of God. Albert, Deidre and Todd all have a heart for faith, family, and others. Each have been blessed with different talents and abilities that come together to create a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.

In a day when one rarely sees a child with Down's because of the nasty search-and-destroy procedure called amniocentesis which leads to abortion, Pujols has set a fine example for those who do not see all children as made in God's image. Check out his site. You, too, will be impressed and possibly also become a Cardinal's fan!

Friday, August 26, 2005

TaDa, TaDa, TaDa...

Finally arriving in our home and ready for unlimited hilarity, the complete 5th season of I Love Lucy is availabe on DVD. This series includes the end of and return home from their trip to Hollywood, including the infamous John Wayne's bootprint and the Lucy Stops the Train episodes. The rest of the set features their trip to, through, and home from Europe. Amazingly, I have met people who have never seen a single minute of Lucy. How can this be? Now we will wait ever so patiently for season 6 and our collection, not to mention our lives, will be complete!

friday's quotes of the week

Heard, read, or spoken by me this week:

"I don't worry about dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde."

Dolly Parton

"Teenagers in Canton don't need more activities or places to hang out. Teenagers in Canton need parents who are willing to spend time with them."

Mom to Toastmasters Club

"You can't wear a pink sweater on your legs to church."

Daughter to grandson

"Does Turbo-man carry a hotdog bun?"

"Yes, he does."

Exchange between daughter and grandson

"An art work has value as a creation because man is made in the image of God, and therefore man not only can love and think and feel emotion, but also has the capacity to create. Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity. We never find an animal, non-man, making a work of art. On the other hand, we never find men anywhere in the world or in any culture in the world who do not produce art. Creativity is a part of the distinction between man and non-man. All people are to some degree creative. Creativity is intrinsic to our mannishness. "

Francis Schaeffer

"The truth is that everything that a Christian involves himself in should become sacred. After all, God created all things and He calls us to bring glory to Him in all that we do. If there were no God then we wouldn’t have reason to do anything. It’s the rest of the world that is living the lie and trying to find meaning without God. We know we have meaning in our lives so we should express that in all that we do, thus all our efforts become sacred acts, including our use and creation of the arts."

Ben Campbell

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the church potluck

Every once in a while a blog comes along that serves a real purpose. This morning I came across just such a blog and am delighfully passing it along. Not only are the recipes truly midwestern, but there are fun entries such as this poem.

Hopelessly Midwestern
By Joel Mabus

If you live life in the middle and not on the edge -
You're hopelessly midwestern.
If a big Saturday means clipping the hedge -
You're hopelessly midwestern.
If you shop at Sears, drink a lot of iced tea,
You like to dance the polka and watch TV,
Then the jury is in and the critics agree -
You're hopelessly midwestern.

[Chorus] Hopelessly Midwestern - cornfed boys and girls
Hopelessly Midwestern - square pegs in this
big round world.
Now, you can go from sea to shining sea,
But right in the middle - that's the place to be,
And if you like it like that, you're a lot like me -
You're hopelessly midwestern.

If you wish every highway could be flat and straight -
You're hopelessly midwestern.
If you still think sushi looks a lot like bait -
You're hopelessly midwestern.
You like your potatoes mashed, your chicken fried,
Your green beans boiled and your apples pied,
And you ain't trusted nothing since Rock Hudson died,
You're hopelessly midwestern.

If annual rainfall is a real hot topic -
You're hopelessly midwestern.
And if the Pocono Mountains sound kind of exotic -
You're hopelessly midwestern.
If you like Gerald Ford almost as much as you like Betty,
And a big corn field looks mighty pretty,
And you'd rather go to hell than to New York City,
You're hopelessly midwestern.


Hopelessly... Impossibly... Irreparably Midwestern.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

the saga continues

Phase Two of the Great Deck Building Experience will commence this week.

Today we will order the next round of lumber for the upper deck that will attach the kitchen and living rooms to the outdoor living space.

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 19, 2005

friday's quotes of the week from Mr. Perfect

Lucky for anyone who reads here, I didn't post my friday's quotes of the week until after Mollie and I went sailing, garage-sailing that is. And for a mere $4.00 I found the man of your dreams. So, all my quotes are from this amazing little guy.

"I'll be driving to to work today because I'm taking your car in for service."

"Baby, I've arranged a spa day for you next Saturday at your favorite salon."

"Sweetheart, your hot bubble bath is ready."

"Do you like the new aroma therapy candles I bought for you yesterday?"

"I'll pay for that honey, don't you worry about it."

"Honey, I hope we can spend the holidays with your family again this year."

"When I saw these roses, I had to get them for you."

"Let's go see that chick flick again."

"Good morning, I made you breakfast in bed again."

"Sweetie, you don't need make-up, you're always beautiful."

"I've got an idea, let's invite your parents over for dinner."

"Long day hun? Let me give you a backrub."

"Honey, I love doing the dishes for you."

"I've been thinking about you all day long."

"Schnookums, I left you with some extra cash to go shopping with the girls today."

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world when I'm with you."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

racial reconciliation

A number of years ago, my husband decided that we ought to see Malcolm X on one of our date night outings. We were the only apparently white people in the theater, I say apparently since I am convinced that perhaps I really carry African-American genes in my adoption background.

However, we were uncomfortable as the opening credits rolled and all white people were lumped into one ugly pile of those who discriminated against blacks. "That's right" and "Amen" were spoken throughout the film, causing me to want to crawl under my seat and leaving the room that night, I could feel many eyes on me.

It is not a situation I care to repeat. But it did make me do alot of thinking and soul-searching. And I may have the chance to repeat that experience if this Spike Lee movie comes to central Illinois.

Time has gone on and I have since studied both the southern sympatheziers' views as well as have read writings by historians who have challenged and debunked those views. I have repeatedly heard people say "The Civil War wasn't about slavery, it was about state's rights" but the only conclusion I can come to is that it was about the confederate states wanting to maintain their lifestyles which necessitated the right to own slaves. These same people tell me that had the south won the war, we would have a truly Christian nation. But how can any nation be "truly Christian" when the abominable practice of slavery was at front and center of their way of life?

Since most of those who would like to take us back to the pre-civil war days of the old south are also pro-life, I would like to pose this question: "What if the issue was abortion rather than slavery?" This is an apt analogy I believe given the Dred Scott decision. Would those of us who understand and loathe the institution of abortion in this country stand for one minute for the idea that each state can decide what is right in its own eyes and allow abortion? I think not. We want a national law, a supreme court justice who will overturn Roe v Wade.

Two years ago I attended a PCA Mercy Ministries conference in Atlanta and the highlight of the weekend was the emphasis on racial reconciliation. The presentations were awesome and I ate lunch with a pastor and one of the elders from their church which was in the deep south. I asked them about the wedding of what is called the "truly reformed" or "historical reformed" movement within the PCA with the romanticizing of the days of the old south. They both told me that this enchantment with the Dabney/Hodge days was a huge stumbling block to the racial reconciliation they so desperately wanted to work towards in their own community and within their denomination.

During that same conference, I heard an incredibly moving and convicting example of humility and service to others that should be an example to us all. An elderly woman from an old Presbyterian church, one that has members whose families date back to the early 1800's, shared how she and other ladies in their congregation were stirred into ministry when they heard that a small PCA church plant in the black neighborhoods of their town had recently started a woman's ministries group. They planned a luncheon and invited the women from the church plant to attend. She told of their sense of apprehension, their fear of rejection, but their desire to minister in truly Titus Two fashion.

Then a 30-something black woman came to the platform and talked about the same experience. She said that they were nervous when they received the invitation, but they went anyway, eating strange luncheon foods they had never tasted, chatting with old white women who had little in common with them. But both groups broke through those barriers and addressed their fears and the issues of bitterness that were still under the surface. That day began a friendship and a sisterhood between those two women's groups that extended to both church families.

I have often wondered about that day and how the story could have been different had those Christians who defend the days of the old south been members of that church.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

st. francis of assisi - 13th century

Sunday, August 14, 2005

prison becomes you, my dear

This is a photo of Martha on her way to prison.

Now check out a homecoming photo.

Assuming you are not a subscriber to Martha Stewart Living, check out the cover of the September issue of her magazine and tell me that her prison life wasn't really time at a spa. She looks terrific and appears to be more like 29 rather than the 63 years of age that she really is. It is amazing. Unless her staff photoshopped her into those size 4 jeans, we should all try her diet and exercise plan.

Prison. It's a good thing.

Doug Giles continues his advice on becoming a loser

If you have read this blog during the past couple of months, you know that I have linked to a series of articles by Doug Giles where he gives advice on how to become a loser. They are great and I would encourage you to check out his archives and read them all.

Today he ponders the idea of becoming a self-obsessed monkey. Check it out.

This week’s ditty for the deft inept person is to engraft into your psyche the habit of being a self obsessed me-monkey. If you’re serious about living a life that will historically frame you out as a flop then you must get this into your craw: Nobody and nothing matters but you and your little world.

Got it?

Matter of fact; try saying the above, out loud and with passion.

Do it now.

C’mon say with me… “Nobody and nothing matters but me and my little world."

Friday, August 12, 2005

friday's quotes of the week

These were heard, read, or said by me this week:

"I miss my daddy. I have the best daddy in the whole world. He is just the daddy I always wanted."

Grandson to table full of amused family members

"I am really going to miss this place."

Same grandson when being told he was going back home to South Carolina.

"Ernie is cool, a cool cat hater."
Son to Mother in reference to s-i-l

"Only the soul that knows the mighty grief can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come to stretch out spaces in the heart for joy."
anonymous quote from a blog reading

"It's important to consider these passages in the full light of Scripture, through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

from a blog comment written by Tulip Girl

"The Bible is sufficient, I agree. But do we use it, therefore, for toilet paper and mulch and packing peanuts and seat cushions and wallpaper?"

received in e-mail

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wildlife Prairie Park

Tomorrow,Janell, Samuel, and Ethen will return to South Carolina after spending the past three weeks with us. It has been such a treat to enjoy my little east coast grandboys and their mama for such a nice long visit. It has been terribly hot, too hot to do much trapsing about but we spent the better part of today at Wildlife Prairie Park. We came home, grilled hot dogs, and collapsed in heaps of various sizes in the delicious cool of the air conditioning.

Samuel and Will ssssslither into the sssssnake house.

Terrifying the bison.

Grandmama explaining to Samuel how a beaver communicates with his big, flat tail.

"These boys smell delicious," said the goat.

Just country boys.


All aboard with Uncle Will.

Shiney Time Station here we come!

why either or

I came across the following quote from an article by Dr. Brian Abshire which expresses the reasoning behind why many people do not agree with sending young ladies to college.

Finally, some criticize the “patriarchs” for not wanting to invest in an expensive college education for their daughters because we “we need more young ladies in law, school, medicine, the arts and so on.” Again, this criticism assumes a modern cultural value and established it as the norm despite the fact that it has no biblical warrant and constitutes social suicide. Even the radical feminists today admit that women cannot adequately function as both a “career” woman and mother. A simple examination of the birth rates for professional women shows that the more highly educated a women becomes, the LESS likely she is to get married and the LESS likely to have children. Thus, this writer is actually encouraging brilliant Christian women to take a course of action that will mean cutting off their genetic inheritance for future generations! We do not need MORE female Christian lawyers, doctors or artists, but MORE godly women raising MORE godly children who will fill the earth and subdue it to the glory of God. And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother? Thus, this “reformer” is actually encouraging a sociological system that impoverishes the family and reduces its ability to exercise godly dominion.

I also found another series of articles, parts one and two, which discuss what I call the "hyper-patriarchy" views that have received a hearing in the past view years. As I have long known, there is a lack of understanding of the benefits that one gleans from a college education that is translated into success as a wife and mother.

Look at the women who have contributed to this blog. How many of us are homemakers who are using our education to be helpmeets, moms, fruitful citizens, and gifted members of the body of Christ? While I don't agree or disagree with everything in any of these three articles, I think they help to bring a greater understanding to the theological and recent historical perspectives of those who oppose formal higher education for women.

What saddens me the most is that, while I agree with so much that has been written about family life, I think it is sad that these men have such little confidence in the women in their lives that they think they will turn and run away from homemaking and motherhood and toward a careerist lifestyle if they are educated.There is also no mention of the seasons of a woman's life and the shifting of priorities that inevitably comes with those seasons.

My question, is “why does it have to be either or?”

Saturday, August 06, 2005


We live in the middle of possibly the most fertile part of the United States.

Typically, by this time every year, we have enjoyed several weeks of sweet corn and tomato suppers. We have eaten homegrown tomatoes once and no local sweet corn whatsoever. The little old man and woman who park their ancient pick-up out near the bowling alley have been no where in sight. Sometimes we have stopped their daily.

This year, our area is suffering from what has now been labeled as an extreme drought. We know farmers who have lost their entire crops. A couple weeks ago our governor visited a farm about 10 miles from us and declared the entire area a national disaster. Perhaps you didn't realize how vital our crops our to everyone so the next time you are in the grocery store, read labels and see how many products contain corn or soybean derivatives.

Please add our part of the country to your prayers. I hadn't realized until yesterday just how localized this drought is. Check it out.

Friday, August 05, 2005

never make any other baked beans again in your life after tasting these

This is my original baked beans recipe and is featured in the Campbell Women Cookbook Volume One. Enjoy!

1 really huge can pork and beans, drained, reserving 1 cup liquid
2 pounds hickory smoked bacon, fried, reserving grease
1 large onion, finely minced
2 TBS. garlic, minced in oil
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
½ to ¾ cup prepared mustard
1 ½ pound brown sugar

Place beans in large casserole dish. Fry bacon, reserving grease. Crumble when cool and add to beans. In grease, fry onions, garlic, and peppers until translucent. Over low heat, dissolve brown sugar and mustard in onion mixture, heating through. Pour over beans and mix well. If mixture is too dry, add some of the reserved liquid from the beans. Bake in slow oven, about 300 degrees, for 3 hours or until the top is slightly browned and the liquid is absorbed. (You may need to turn up the heat.) You can add brats if you want to make this an entire main dish meal.

friday's quotes of the week

I am sorry there were no quotes blogged last week. Life was a little more than hectic here. These were heard, read, or spoken by me this week.

"Ok, we have to put the gun down if we are going to nurse."

daughter to her son

"How do they make bubble gum anyway?"
son to mom

"Grab the yellow rope and meet me at the curb."
dad to son preparing to rescue Tigger from the spillway at Lakeland Park

"We have Johnny Depp to thank for elevating cheekbones to the level of the sublime."
Nancy Peske in Cinematheraphy, the Girl's Guide to Movies for Every Mood

"There are many who will try to create a Christian law of childhood discipline, and they will try to burden you with its yoke, but you don't have to wear it. The reality of the Holy Spirit working in your life is the promise of formula-free discipline. There is no law you have to follow, only the leading of the Holy Spirt and the Word of God. God is working in you and He is committed to helping you with your children."
Clay Clarkson in Heartfelt Discipline

"On their way home after church one Sunday, a family was discussing the service. Father said, “I thought the pastor was a little dry and long-winded today.” Mom chimed in, “And did you see the choir director's hair?” Daughter exclaimed, “I didn't like the cookies they served in the fellowship hall afterward.” Finally little Johnny added his opinion, “I thought it was a darn good show for a buck!”
Brian Thomas from the Kaleo Church

Thursday, August 04, 2005

the midnight special

The Midnight Special, playing blues, both original and covers. How can boys this age understand Credence, Willie Dixon, and B.B. King?

bestest grandpa ever

strangely hydrated generation

Every once in a while, I find myself feeling like I am old now. I say things I can imagine my mom saying if she understood the culture in which she finds herself living but not engaging. I hear myself thinking "How can those girls walk in those shoes?" or "that boy will be sorry one day when he no longer wears those things in his ears and he has big holes in earlobes that hang down to his shoulders."

This morning, as I was unloading the dishwasher, I was thinking about the fact that I rarely see a person under 35 any more who isn't toting along something to drink, a bottle of "pure" water, Nalgenes in assorted colors, travel coffee mugs, or fountain drinks from Citgo. No one looks twice at someone carrying beverages into worship services, indeed, how many mega churches now boast food courts?

I am wondering why this is? Are we a particularly salted culture, the food we eat, especially the fast foods that experts report families eat 6 of 7 days a week, drizzled in fat and salt that demands liquid? Are we too busy to sit down and sip a cup of coffee with a friend, coffee actually made in someone's kitchen rather than behind Starbucks' counter? Is life's pace such that enjoying iced tea on the front porch with a neighbor is not an item on the Daytimer agenda?

I don't know the simple answer. I imagine it really has something to do with the casual approach to life, the same factor that sees people attending church, weddings, and funerals in shorts or bib overalls and flip flops as well as the sad truth that enjoying a meal as part of your family culture has been replaced by eating just to not be hungry and done on the way to the next activity. At any rate, I think I don't like it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

God's hall of fame

I first wrote this essay for the pregnancy center newsletter I edited a few years back. It was written in July of 1999 as I contemplated the wedding of our first son. Rereading it this week on the heels of our family reunion and in light of the current battle for Supreme Court justice, I thought it seemed appropriate to share again.

Something has come over me. Perhaps it is because I have reached middle age, assuming the median age of death is 90! Maybe it is the opportunity for quiet reflection that greets you in the early morning hours while you sip a cup of coffee and greet a glorious June morning. Or it could be my sense of how fleeting life really is as we look forward to the July wedding of our son, the first of our 6 children to marry. Whatever the reason, I am consumed with the idea of writing a family history, a document for posterity that shares with my future grandchildren and great-grandchildren the glories and blessings God has given to this branch of the Campbell clan.

In reading the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we are given a picture of the history we possess as elect believers in God’s family. We read of Abel’s more excellent sacrifice, of the condemnation Noah knew because he obeyed God and saved his own household. We read of Abraham’s faith when asked to offer his son, Isaac, on the altar. We read of the faith of Jacob and Joseph and of Moses, who “chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.”

The chapter goes on to list many people, not by name, but by the persecutions they received, including women who “received their dead raised to life again and others (who) were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Those events recorded in verses 35-38 led to the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, the festival of dedication, which is a part of our “family history” and needs to be remembered.

These descriptions took place during the 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testaments, a time when though there were no inspired writings, God was still dealing with His covenant people. You see, many Jews of that day were afraid to take a stand for truth and compromised their beliefs. Desiring to not be seen as too different than non-believers and wanting to be accepted by their culture, the men subjected themselves to a type of cosmetic surgery that reversed their circumcisions, which was the mark of ownership God had placed upon them beginning with Abraham.

During this period of war against the true religion of God, Antiochus Epiphanies, the imperial ruler of the Seleucid Empire, had commissioned the worship of Zeus in Palestine. This worship involved sacrificing and eating pork and the sprinkling of a pig’s blood on the Holy of Holies, an abomination before the Lord. One man named Mattathias, who was a priest, a community leader and father, was chosen to offer the sacrifice. He was told, “You are a leader here, a man of mark and influence in the village and firmly supported by your sons and brothers. Be the first to come forward and carry out the order of the king. All the other people have done so, as have the leading men in Judea and the people left in Jerusalem. Do this, and you and your sons will be counted among the Friends of the King; you will receive high honor, rich reward of silver and gold (literally, a tax-exempt status) and many further benefits.” Mattathias stood firmly and said “Though all nations within the king’s dominion obey him and forsake their faith, though they have chosen to submit to his command, yet I and my sons and my brothers will follow the covenant of our Father. Heaven forbid we should ever abandon the Law and its statutes. We will not obey the command of the king, nor will we deviate one step from our worship.” Rather than going along with this mockery of God, Mattathias not only refused to bow his knee, but, in his righteous anger, killed the Jew who came forward to lead the false worship. His actions began a time of terror for those who rejected the pagan worship, sending the Jews into a battle that lasted 3 years until the temple could be reclaimed.

During these 3 years, Jewish women who gave birth to sons and had them circumcised had their newborns tied around their necks and both the mother and child would be hurled over a cliff to their deaths. One story is told of a mother who, after watching 6 of her 7 sons being roasted in pans at an altar to a false God, begged her 7th son to not forsake the faith. She pleaded with him, “You appeared in my womb, I know not how, it was not I who gave you life and birth and set in order your bodily frames. It is the creator of the universe that molds man at his birth and plans the origin of all things, therefore, He, in his mercy, will give you both life and breath again since now you put His laws above all thoughts of self. My son, take pity on me. I carried you 9 months in the womb, I suckled you 3 years, reared you, and brought you up to your present age. I beg you, child, look at the sky and the earth, see all that is is there and realize that God made them out of nothing and that man comes into being in the same way. Don’t be afraid of this butcher. Accept death and prove yourself worthy of your brothers so that by God’s mercy I may receive you back again along with them.”

God’s hall of fame, as recorded in the book of Hebrews, gives us a rich heritage upon which to build. Oh that we could have the courage to stand against the imperial rulers of our day who tell us that, as Christians, we cannot “impose our morality on others.” In a time when Christians are mocked, harassed, and painted as the enemy because of our stands, we must ever stand firmly upon God’s law and His word. What evidences do you have in your family history that tells your children of your obedience to God’s law? Have you explained to them how the very issues of life, abortion, infanticide, and doctor-assisted suicide are all a violation of His word? My prayer is that we can each have a heritage of righteousness to give to our children, rather than a “hall of shame” to pass along. Let us continue in zeal for God’s law as we stand for the truth in the area of human life.

massive cat

I HAD to share this photo, especially for those cat lovers who live with cat haters. Now, wouldn't you hate to clean that litter box?

Monday, August 01, 2005

flamingo fest

The First Ever Campbell Family Flamingo Fest was declared a rousing success on Friday night. Since there are lots of people who would like to see the kids when they come home for the family reunion, I try to have an open house of some sort each year. This time I decided it ought to be named a Flamingo Fest and so it was, complete with electric pink birds, Chinese lanterns and all. What a fun time to see friends and to enjoy the fellowship! The deck was a big hit, and I mean big. But not overly so, I mean, it was just right for family and friends. The best comment I heard came from my friend, Shirley, who said that it felt like we were in a tree house with the tree growing through the deck and more trees surrounding us on the east. I like being in a tree house. Someone else told me that the only word they could use to describe it was exotic and I like that, too. Here are some highlights of the night.

Joe and Clayton share a good time at the fest.

Cousins in a group hug!

Sam and Will try to out-silly each other!

How cute is this?

Ben, honored as our recent homeschooled high school grad, serenades us with his friend, Justin, who is behind the tree! Our neighbor didn't call the cops about the loud noise but did call me. She didn't like the music and she didn't like the sound of children playing on the deck the night before. I told her we could turn the music down but that she had better get used to the sounds of playing children since I anticipate more every summer. And I invited her to join us but she was a no show.

Isn't new baby Dowen hiding in Stacie's pink tummy the highlight of this picture?

The lanterns, canopies, and twinkle lights set the mood for a relaxing time!

More cousin fun!

Uncles Will and Joe try to wrestle the grandbabies into a pose and all but Jude cooperate. See that Penelope, the rose among thorns, as my mom would say?

Clay and I said goodnight to our guests and a good time was had by all!

Doug Giles on hanging out with morons

Doug Giles has written another great article in his series about the top ten ways to become a loser. He has written sage advice for youth and adults alike.

"Another great way to rocket your life into a complete scat laden existence is to Hang Out with Morons. It’s not enough to just Follow Others Mindlessly. You and I both know that you can trail others without befriending them. However, if you really want to win at losing you must go the extra mile and physically merge your life with losers. I’m talking about palling around with them, marrying them, and talking to them on a regular basis. You must intentionally and strategically establish, as much as you can, blithering idiots, whoever they are, as your closest confidants if serious about living la vida broka." Continue the article here.