Inventure Monday

Sadie Piper has practice at Bates Dance Studio every Monday evening. When she goes to that Beckham, Berkley and I go on what they call Inventures (“Adventures” pronounced wrongly). Usually we go to places I found while on a bike ride or driving around. This past Monday we went Fruiting.

We found a house with apple & pear trees all over the backyard and knocked on the door to see if we could pick some (still using the Eric Tippins “just ask” philosophy).

The house is in south manhattan and was built 150 years ago. The river used to back up to it before changing routes after a flood. It was where the ferry would bring people across and thus the original entrance to Manhattan. It was interesting to think that many of the names on streets in town likely ate fruit from the same trees we were now picking from.

You can see below they had a picker for high fruit which was a blast to use.

Inventure Monday included watermelon, apple & pear pickin' #mhk

Berkley loved that she could reach some fruit.


Got one! Did you pick it up off the ground? No, off that little apple tree.


We also picked a few leftover watermelons from a field.


Got caught in a spider web, where is Sting when you need it?


Here is our collection of fruit.

Beckham loves watermelon and this was the perfect little bowl for his own serving. Like a zombie the way he cracked this melon open and devoured the insides.

We may have jumped the gun on Halloween as well.


25 Better Ways to Ask Your Child: “How was school?”

“How was your day?” just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes I get frustrated that the only response I can pull from our kids when they get home is “Fine.” But then I realize if someone asked me the the same question, I’d have a hard time remembering and summing up 8 full hours too.

We found these questions and in the weeks we’ve been using them in the evenings with our kids, we know the Crazies so much better. I feel like we know more about their lives, what makes them tick, their classroom dynamics, their friends. Our kids even beg us to ask questions “from the sheet.” We also make sure we aren’t using this question time as “preaching” time. We listen and ask follow up questions only. Most of the time this isn’t the time for correction, that can be worked in later.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

#1.  What was the best thing that happened at school today?  (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)

#2.  Tell me something that made you laugh today.

#3.  If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class?  (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class?  Why?)

#4.  Where is the coolest place at the school?

#5.  Tell me a weird word that you heard today.  (Or something weird that someone said.)

#6.  If I called your teacher tonight what would she tell me about you?

#7.  How did you help somebody today?

#8.  How did somebody help you today?

#9.  Tell me one thing that you learned today.

#10.  When were you the happiest today?

#11.  When were you bored today?

#12.  If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?

#13.  Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

#14.  Tell me something good that happened today.

#15.  What word did your teacher say most today?

#16.  What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?

#17.  What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?

#18.  Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

#19.  Where do you play the most at recess?

#20.  Who is the funniest person in your class?  Why is he/she so funny?

#21.  What was your favorite part of lunch?

#22.  If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?

#23.  Is there anyone in your class that needs a time out?

#24.  If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with?  Why?

#25.  Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.

Aggieville’s 125th Birthday Celebration!

This weekend was Aggieville’s 125th celebration and as with most things Manhattan, it was done up right! They had a street fair with a “mini makers fair” (showcasing people around town who make cool things) and a kids carnival!

Here’s an amazing video that captures the event. (And Brian and SP made the cut! Then you can see all of the kids when they are blowing out the candles too!)

They closed the streets to cars and booths lined the streets of Aggieville a

This is BioShock. Is that a video game? I was just told to take a picture! This is from the booth of the people who make cool things like this!!

If there is a costume within two miles he'll find it. #bioshock #aggieville #mhk

This one had sand that was coated in something that kept it dry in the water. It was mind blowing! a

There was a booth for the makers of real working R2D2s!

Then we hit the kids carnival. The sororities and fraternities set up kids games, face painting, fun stuff like that!


Oh, and a bounce house!


This was Sadie Piper during the bounce house fun. She got an ice cream cone as consolation prize for not being able to bounce…

Poor girl. Just wants to play! a

Also, we live in the 1960s!!



A local brewery, Tall Grass, made a blackberry beer for the occasion! (No, we didn’t let him drink it, just posing!)


Bates Dance and Cheer Excel performed again and were awesome! 


This picture cracks us up. What is Berkley doing? And why don’t the rest of us care? Poor youngest child.

No wonder youngest grow up feeling not quite part of the family. Pictures like this confirm that insecurity. #Aggieville #mhk

Then we left, took a break, and then came back for the street dance and Varsity donut birthday cake! The street dance was the BEST!!



Birthday Cake!!


They let the kids come up and blow out the candles! 

We are obnoxious, but we really, really love our little town!!

Summer Road Trip: Rock City, KS

So, one of the places on our Bucket List for our Summer of Road Trips 2014 was Cawker City, KS, home to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

Kansas, y’all, we’ve got it all.

So we were ready to head out one day this summer. Then we bailed. It’s a 2 hour drive. To see this:


We are all about cool things (such as huge balls of twine obviously) but that was too far, even for us! So plan B was Rock City, KS. It was only an hour and 15 min away from Manhattan. So Rock City it was!

Stopped to listen to the wheat in the wind. It’s one of my favorite things about the summer. The sound of wheat. Who knew?

Rock City in Kansas

Rock City in Kansas

Rock City in Kansas

So, Rock City is about two football fields of land where there are these weird rocks in the ground. Of course the literature about it is all about the “millions” of years…which was ironic to us cause people carved their names in them. I’m not convinced rock that scratches with a stick could hold up that long! 🙂

Rock City in Kansas

We picnicked on the rocks, then played on them!

Rock City in Kansas

Rock City in Kansas

I was gonna get a picture of Brian jumping off this rock…Rock City in Kansas

Then I told him he didn’t jump high enough. He told me it wasn’t high enough to get a good picture, but I wasn’t convinced. So I took a stab at jumping higher: Rock City in Kansas

“How did I do?!?”

Take 2.

Rock City in Kansas

Rock City in Kansas

We had a great time climbing and playing on the rocks! 
Rock City in Kansas

And playing Wiffle. Of course.
Rock City in Kansas

Rock City in Kansas

More jumping!

Rock City in Kansas

A little Lion King fun! 

Rock City in Kansas

They are the “littlests,” but they are strong…

Rock City in Kansas

One of the rocks has a hole in it!

Rock City in Kansas

Rock City in Kansas

It really wasn’t big enough for me. But that didn’t stop me. Nothing like a little hole in a rock to make a girl feel big. 
Rock City in Kansas

Rock City in Kansas
They didn’t advertise this one…but it’s unmistakable, right??

Rock City in Kansas

All in all, a really fun place to check out!!

Thomas Farm Summer Fun!

While the Thomas’ were on vacation, we got to vacation at their house! (Although when we told the kids the Thomases wouldn’t be there, they said, “How are we gonna have any fun without them?!)

We managed, but we still missed them! b


Jennifer painted these super cool spools!



Thomas Farm Vacation

Thomas Farm Vacation

Thomas Farm Vacation

This is such an awkward picture! I love it!

Thomas Farm Vacation

Kids LOVED riding the 4 and 6 wheelers!c

Thomas Farm Vacation

Thomas Farm Vacation


Oh, their swimming hole. It’s our fav.



Thomas Farm Vacation

Thomas Farm Vacation

Thomas Farm Vacation

This was really funny to us for some reason:

Before we left town, we hit up Deanna Rose Farmstead for old time sake!

We found Sadie the horse still there!

Thomas Farm Vacation

Thomas Farm Vacation

One of the baby goats sucked on one of Brian’s fingers, and SP tried to get one to do it to her too. But it bit her.

Thomas Farm Vacation

And then she wanted to show us…. (hahah!!)


We found  an abandoned fishing pole, and put a little thing of fish food on it (the hard kind you get from that machine behind him in this pic) and HE CAUGHT A FISH!

Thomas Farm Vacation

Berkley has a lot of fears, but animals isn’t one of them! Thomas Farm Vacation

Such a relaxing and really fun time! THANK YOU Thomas’!!!



RiverRanch 2014

A highlight of our summer every year is RiverRanch. This year, it was even sweeter cause we got to see so many students whom we miss dearly and spend a whole week with them!!

We found this mechanical Big Foot on the side of the road on our way there!

This was the FIRST year in SEVEN that it has rained on our canoeing day. Sam was less than thrilled it looks like…

RiverRanch 2014

Beckham wasn’t pumped either!

RiverRanch 2014

Rain didn’t put a damper on playing wiffle ball. On the river. Off a bridge. This is Brian pitching and Sam hitting, both while jumping!

RiverRanch 2014

Hannah and Annie, canoe buds. It stopped raining too! RiverRanch 2014

There was, as always, turtle catching. This is the mean kind of turtle, softshell. RiverRanch 2014

RiverRanch 2014

Turtle hunting discipleship:

RiverRanch 2014

Beckham caught a quarter-sized turtle all by himself! This little guy was adorable!

RiverRanch 2014Lunch break! It’s always sandwiches, chips and Famous Amos cookies. It’s the best lunch ever cause you are famished. RiverRanch 2014RiverRanch 2014

Brian and Sam sinking a canoe. On accident. RiverRanch 2014 RiverRanch 2014

Trying to win back their “man cards”RiverRanch 2014

Sharpie tattoos are always fun! 

Then Becks drew Brian a mustache too!

Me and Hannah’s selfie!RiverRanch 2014

On Wednesday we have land day. No canoeing, just games at camp. We have a super (non) competitive 2v2 basketball tourney. There’s always lots of cheating. That’s what makes it fun for those of us who don’t know how to play. Once the cheater teams get knocked out, the players who really know how to play get to enjoy the real game!

RiverRanch 2014 RiverRanch 2014

Is this not the coolest picture of the coolest of girls??

Celebrating victory through collision. #basketball @hailstorrrrm @_maryhershberger @radical_riley

Watching the games!

RiverRanch 2014

Beckham spends a lot of the week making things with duct tape. Such as this back pack…

RiverRanch 2014

RiverRanch 2014

Another great picture. It’s Rico doing the most epic belly flop ever!

RiverRanch 2014

The belly flop was the ending to the “Intern’s Relay Race” which is always so fun! It culminates with a huge shaving cream war!

RiverRanch 2014

Brookie representing MPC!

Kids enjoying the turtles that made it back! 

Morgan and Chris’s interpretive dance! 

We’ve acquired quite the hodge podge of supplies over the years. We get out our “camp bins” twice a year (once for each camp, HS and Jr High), and then load them up again for 11 months. Somehow little boy undies made it into a bin…

RiverRanch 2014

Annual traditional RiverRanch group picture! RiverRanch 2014

Our last night there is a dance party! Here’s the boys ready to dance and sing!     

The rest of the 500 photos are here 🙂

Fast From Feast On


William Arthur Ward was an American Army Soldier, Author, Teacher and Pastor who lived from 1921-1994. I wouldn’t agree with most of his theology, but I came across this poem of his a few weeks back and it’s a beautifully written challenge to my life. It was originally written for Lent which is when catholics and some others give up something they enjoy from Ash Wednesday until Easter, roughly six weeks.

In reading this poem you’ll find real quick there are things to object to. Christ does not dwell in all people as line one seems in imply. In verse 3 it denies that darkness exist, that can’t be true since Christ has sent us into the darkness to be lights (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Despite all that, the basic concept of this poem is worth our consideration. Give it a read it and I’ll tell you why I say that.

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ within them.
Fast from emphasis on difference; feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from worry; feast on trust in God’s Care.
Fast from unrelenting pressure; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.

What is it you need to fast from? Not in the sense of chocolate or TV or cokes [soda pop], but in terms of what God has called us to fast from in His Word? The other side of that is what helps with that fast, what do we need to feast on that will give us real fulfilment in Christ? That’s the devotional aspect here, ask yourself what do I need to fast from or even write your own poem using this model. Fast from…Feast on…

Page CXVI put together a song based on this poem as well, give it a listen.

Never Too Broken


It always surprises me when I find beautiful phrases in secular literature that point me to the Gospel, to what Jesus has done for me on the cross. I recently read “Looking for Alaska” by John Green.

It’s a story written from the perspective of an outcast boy who goes to boarding school in the south in the pursuit of the “Great Perhaps.” He wants friends, and life experience. What we learn along the way is that so many people are broken for so many reasons. I don’t want to ruin the story in case you ever read it, but after much tragedy the main character Miles comes this conclusion.

“We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken.” – Miles Halter

That’s an empty message when proclaimed by a secular humanist. That’s an opiate for the masses because who are you hoping will fix you? Self? Not even the most skilled surgeons can operate on themselves and no created device repairs itself, another most do so. Preferably the one who created it to begin with, for who knows the creation better than the creator?

When the above quote is understood with the truth of the Gospel behind it there is weight that gives real hope.

It’s always encouraging to know that we are not hopeless, but why? Why are we not hopeless? We are not hopeless because no matter how screwed up and broken we are, we are never so broken that Jesus can’t repair us.

We break easy. We break when our parents fail to love us or to love each other. We break when we give our hearts to boys or girls and they stomp them to dust. We break when we pursue a dream only to find they are severely out of our reach. We break when we pursue the longing and lust of our hearts that lead us down dark alleys and out into dry deserts.

But this is the hope of the Gospel. No amount of sexual failure on your part or sexual abuse against you can break you so much that Jesus can’t repair you. No amount of lying or unfaithfulness can break you beyond the skilled hands of Jesus the master builder and repairer. So come to Jesus and be healed, be repaired by His loving, nail pierced hands.