Category: Family Life

Where has the summer gone?

This summer has flown by faster than I even imagined it would. I spent the first half of the summer getting ready for camp, so I will talk about that first.

If you have known me for any length of time, you know that the Episcopal Church Camp of Illinois (ECC) has been a HUGE part of my life. I spent 11 years as a camper and 16 years as a counselor (and was there in my mom’s belly one year!). This year I started my tenure as the Senior Session Director. I haven’t missed a summer since 1987. As a child I looked forward to camp all year but now I’m even more involved. In addition to being the Senior Session Director, I am the the camp Registrar and sit on the Camp Board. All of that means that camp is more like a job. But my camp friends are definitely more like family and I truly believe in the ministry. We get to interact with kids in a Christian camp setting for a whole week. We worship with them. We pray with them. We laugh with them. We talk to them. For some of these kids, camp is the only good week they have all year. For all of them it is a chance to experience Jesus in ways they may not get to at home. I could devote an entire blog to my thoughts and feelings about this camp, but that will have to wait. For now, here are some photos from camp this year.

We had a great week. In Seniors we had very little drama and LOTS of spiritual growth. Our healing and commissioning services were awesome. We added archery to our activity list and were able to have a few more activities with other sessions. My first year as a session director was exhausting. Like, more exhausting than the year I was seven months pregnant! And I came home and immediately jumped in to some intense potty training (more on that later!).

I am planning a lot of upcoming posts. Rest assured that The Great Purge is ongoing. We have tackled about 75% of the list. Stay tuned as I catch you up on the rest of our summer adventures! In the meantime, I want to know about YOUR camp experiences. Did you go to sleep-away camp as a kid? Did you love it or hate it? Favorite memories?

Dream Craft Room (Phase III)

You can read about the progress on the craft room here and here. Today I’m going to show you how I’m corralling the toys that share the room. Here are the large toys I am dealing with:

  • A Little Tykes play kitchen that is big. I scored it for $60 at a garage sale last summer and it came with all the food and utensils.
  • A Melissa & Doug easel that Mike picked out of a neighbor’s trash pile when John was a baby. It has some marker marks on the wood frame but is in great shape otherwise.
  • A bunch of Little People buildings, people, and accessories that we inherited from my nieces. They end up everywhere but John plays with them constantly and it’s fun to watch him use his imagination.

WD_0040[1]That’s the art corner. I set it up a while back and still love it.


Before I started the room makeover I was stashing toys in those blue recycling bins. We used to sort our recyclables and drive them to a center rather than pay extra for curbside pickup, but when our city finally started offering free pickup we repurposed them. But John has trouble reaching things in them with his little arms (and I think they’re ugly!). So of course I looked to IKEA for a solution.

IMG_5879These are STUVA storage benches. The actual benches are white and the drawers come in blue, green, pink, or white. The drawers are actually on wheels so they are easy for John to open and close on his own. And can I just tell you how much they hold? TONS.


That is Noah’s Ark, a pirate ship, a zoo and a bunch of other accessories. There is still room to throw in more.


This one has the farm, the train tracks, part of the carnival, and a Fisher-Price bowling set among other things.


The room is still a work in progress, but the toy storage is a huge improvement. What about you? How do you store toys? I’m always looking for creative ideas!

Dream Craft Room (Phase II)

Sorry for taking so long to get this post finished. If you’re just joining us you can read about the “before” setup here.  After carrying the IKEA boxes downstairs (the tabletops were still in the garage), this is what I was facing:


I should let you know that I actually love assembling furniture. I’m weird like that. So I just jumped in. Here are the first two pieces I tackled:


The one on the left is the Alex Drawer unit and the one on the right is the Alex Storage unit. I was on a roll. Then I decided I needed to move my old tables out so I could put these in place as I assembled them. This is when a magic wand would have come in handy. Or at least another adult. But I didn’t want to wait so I forged ahead.


Once I put the Linnmon tabletop on, I got another burst of energy so I tackled the Alex Drawer unit on casters. A few things to note:

1. I knew right away that I wanted a deeper-than-usual desk surface. I pictured putting things on the desk up against the wall while still leaving plenty of space to work.

2. Yes, I got white cabinets and a birch tabletop. I went to the store planning on buying everything in white but I really liked the slight contrast when I saw it in person.

3. I tried rolling the drawer unit on casters under the table in the store display area to make sure it fit. This is why the IKEA showrooms are so helpful.


Awesome, right? Are you starting to see the plan? (Please excuse the horrible glow from the tv. John was watching Clifford and I didn’t want to move the tv until I was pretty sure where it would live).

There was one snag in the assembly process when I realized the second Alex cabinet had some damage. I don’t remember seeing this when I was at the store, and I actually waited a few days before assembling it. I finally decided that it wouldn’t show and IKEA is three hours away…


So remember to inspect your boxes before you leave the store and be careful with them when you load/unload/carry them. I’m glad I decided to just go with it. And I should also mention that I did most of this assembly without power tools. Not such a good idea. The next day I could barely open my hand because it was so sore. Use a power screwdriver if you have one!

Anyway, after assembling the Alex furniture this was the result:


If you spotted the Ekby Stilig brackets and Ekby Tryggve shelves, good eye! I figured I should get as many crafting supplies within arms reach as possible. As you can see, the Alex units on casters roll out so I can pull up a chair to work. The area on the left is for stamping and the right side is for sewing. There is still a lot of organizing to do, but it was fun to “unpack” my things into the pretty new drawers and cabinets.

Still to come:

1. How can I make this area even better?

2. What about all the toys that share this room?

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