Life or Something Like It, Vacation Days

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

This was written 8 years ago.  This year (2022), we celebrated 28 years of marriage together.  He is my favorite human ever. Here is our trip to Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

Living Out God’s Story 20 Years Strong

Living Out God’s Story 20 Years Strong. Today is the day I married the man God intended for me to marry.

I met him during a horrible time in my life. Sadly, I was in an abusive relationship and very beaten down. I had just transferred to our local university. Also, I had moved out of my home. My family was in turmoil, and it wasn’t easy.

I remember walking into the game room. Amazingly, I had gotten a job on campus, and this was it. I was late because I had driven from my parent’s home, an hour away. By the time I got there, the other employees had already lined up at the front desk and heard the “speech” given by the head guy.

I noticed a boy, about the third or fourth in line. He had whitewashed jeans, a light green shirt, a cub’s hat, and a lip full of tobacco (yuck). I only saw his profile.

My first thought was, “I’m gonna marry him.”

I had no idea his name as if he were single. Honestly, all I knew was his butt looked AMAZING in those jeans. Also, he had a kind expression on his face.

I walked to the end of the line and heard the speech. Then, I got my schedule. I remember looking at it in detail. Sadly, I knew no one. I was paired on the weekends with two guys. One of the guy’s name was Shawn, and the second guy, I remember looking at his name and thinking, “who would name their kid Bart?” Seriously, I had no idea who “Bart” was. Honestly, I just got tickled with his name. I even called my sister, snickering.

Then, as I went for my first shift, I met Shawn. He was a nice guy who loved to pick his nose on yards upon yards of toilet paper. As I sat there, I looked up, and here he came, Bart. He was the guy with the whitewashed jeans. I remember thinking, “OH MY GOODNESS!”

My heart Flipped.

His eyes were sky blue. He had a bitty mustache. He was quiet and reserved. His hands were HUGE….my thumbs put together would equal one of his thumbs. He was smart. Soft. Encouraging.

My “relationship” with the guy I had been with was very controlling. He did not allow me to talk to ANY male person. Also, he would come and watch me. It did not go well when I had to speak to a guy. He would stand there and watch. I walked behind him. I had no opinion on any subject. He told me what to think and do, how to act, and who to associate with, and it was sad. Even sadder, though, as I yielded to that mindset and treatment.

We had bowling alleys in our game room, and they occasionally broke down. Bart and I would have to go back to where my “boyfriend” couldn’t go so we could work on the lanes. He would talk to me and tell me what he thought I deserved and how I should be treated, that I should be treated like a princess and without abandon. I deserved better.

He loved me, and he showed me love. Also, he taught me how to love.

From meeting to marriage was about a year, and today, we celebrate 20 years of marriage. I’m so thankful my first reaction was spot on and that through the years of love, laughter, pain, and loss. He has never left my side.

Happy Anniversary to my FAVORITE person (you’ve still got a great butt)

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

On our 20th Anniversary Trip, we spent time in Canada, Buffalo, NY, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and more. We booked a reservation at the Skylon Tower. Then, we went for a walk through Toronto and Ontario. Well, we got lost in Toronto.

It was breathtaking. All of it was just breathtaking. This is a place I would go back to year after year. I have never seen anything so gorgeous in all my days. It is a close second to Dhera, Ethiopia.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory


We saw many nations represented.

In addition to the Falls, we saw Tibetan Monks, Rabbis, a sweet Jewish family, and many Amish and Mennonites.

We looked up and ran into old acquaintances among the many, many people. We have not seen these people in years. They were as shocked as we were. We attended church for years and taught each other’s kids during AWANA. It has probably been ten years since we had seen them. Then, we ran into them in Canada.

Tonight we had dinner at Fuji Grill. It was a hibachi grill, and it was wonderful.

 We were blessed enough to share our table with a traveling couple from Indiana.

We laughed, shared, and talked the whole time.


Part of my Bucket List

Part of my bucket list is Kissing Big Daddy under a waterfall (at Niagara Falls). Well, I successfully did that. There was a quick moment of Kissing Big Daddy Under the American Falls at Niagara.

There was a moment when we were attempting to get under the falls. The pressure, the wind, and the force of the water made it hard to stand. So, I got under, and he tried to get a picture. Then, Bart got under it, and I tried to get a picture.

As He Was Walking Out From Under the Falls

I remembered my bucket list and made him run back under the falls. Then, I tucked my camera under my poncho and ran under there.

Then, I did it. Success.

It was windy and wet.

However, there was no picture until after the fact.

Check it off my list 🙂

Now, for 1001 more items to check off my list. One by one, Big Daddy and I were doing what we love to do. He is my favorite travel buddy!

One day, I want to sell everything when the kids are gone. Then, I want to buy an RV and travel all over the place. The thought thrills me to my toes.

On 20th Anniversary Trip Day 6, we slept in, which was lovely.

We went to the mall, and I had my first experience in the Coach store.

Big Daddy let me in the store alone. Big, big, BIG mistake.

The colors and the smells dazzled my senses.

Big Daddy tried to whisk me away, and he did so in vain. I was helpless in the clearance section. I also had a 50% off coupon. This was such an exciting moment. I remember when I would cry in the drive-thru at McDonald’s because I had $1.00 to get a sandwich.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

It was too much.

I succumbed to the powers of the store and bought a bag. It was fabulous. However, since I bought a bag, I told Big Daddy that I would see a movie of his choice.

It was X Men.

Say a prayer.

In my opinion, these movies are stupid.

It was a good movie, shockingly enough. Since I went into it knowing nothing, Big Daddy had a lot of explaining to do. He didn’t seem to mind. It is lovely spending time doing something that he enjoys doing. I mean, I did get a new purse and all!

On our 20th Anniversary Trip Day 8, we went to the Mansfield Reformatory.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

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It was WOW and WOW.

I have lots of pictures.

The thought of how many young men died in this prison was mindboggling. Bart’s dad played baseball with the inmates on this front lawn. How cool is that? Oh, how I wish he were alive so we could share this with him. I would love to hear all of his stories.

The new prison is beside the old one. We accidentally got into the parking lot of the wrong prison. I guess the no trespassing sign should have been a cue. Honestly, we looked up and saw the line of prisoners walking from the yard back to their cells. We left quickly.

Heading to Cardington, OH

We also headed into Big Daddy’s parent’s hometown of Cardington, OH.

There, we met up with his aunt and uncle. They were gracious enough to let us stay with them overnight. They took us out to a great little diner.

We left the diner and headed to the campground, where I met another aunt and uncle (after 20 years of marriage).

We stayed and chatted for a while and then headed back to sleep.

On our 20th Anniversary Trip Day 9, we headed into Amish Country.

The place we chose, which we remember when we were 20 years ago, is in Holmes County, OH.

We ate at Boyd and Wurthman’s Diner. It was locally owned and operated. The food was delicious.

I got a few pictures, not many because the Amish do not want their picture taken. I took a picture of one little boy. Respecting their beliefs is important to me because it was important to my father-in-law. I chose to respect that.

Sad Fact

It was not as we remembered. There were so many more businesses, English businesses. It has become very commercial. We only shopped at locally owned stores and no “English-run” businesses. The scenery, however, was just as we remembered. It was gorgeous.

We went to Heini’s, and we sampled about 20 different cheeses. It was wonderful. Heini’s is a cheese factory. Let me tell you; it will be in heaven when I get there. A place dedicated to cheese. Yes, please.

Excellent food.

We also got to see a covered bridge and a castle 🙂

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

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Cracking the Hermit Crab Death Secret

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Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, Vacation Days

Make A Wish Foundation

Make A Wish Foundation

Make A Wish Foundation

Yesterday, my cell phone rang, and I didn’t answer it. I do not answer numbers I do not recognize, as I know it is probably a telemarketer, and I do not want to deal with that. If someone needs me that is not a telemarketer, I know they will leave me a message. Little did I know it was the coordinator for the Make A Wish Foundation.

Well, this time, this person left a message.

I checked my message and realized that I genuinely needed to speak to this person. Hesitantly, I called back because, on one side, I didn’t want to hear what she had to say. On the other hand, I did want to hear what she had to say. I’m sure I’m not the only person ever to think/feel that.


This lady was from the MAKE A WISH foundation. I had, on a whim, filled out the info for this foundation to see if H qualified. Sadly, I thought that kids, who had cancer or were terminally ill, got to make a wish for a final trip for themselves and their families before Jesus called them home.

Times Have Changed

Times have changed. The Make A Wish foundation still does that for terminally ill kiddoes, but now (they may have always done this, but it is new to me), they extend this wish to kids with life-altering diseases. I had to check my pride and sanity and not admit that he has a life-altering illness to complete this paperwork. Sadly, I cried through the whole thing. Maybe he isn’t as bad as I think he is. Perhaps this is just an “it will pass” type thing.

Medically Fragile

Then I heard the words, “your son is medically fragile.” I listened to the words, “the longer he stays symptomatic, the more permanent brain damage is done.” Next was “we want to help him maintain and not lose any more abilities.” Then, my 3 yr old son looks at me and asks for his walker because it hurts to walk or he can’t do something. That gut punches me.

Mounds of Paperwork

I filled that paperwork out about a month ago. I didn’t forget about it, but I didn’t pursue it either. Then, I was facing it, and the phone rang. I did not answer it. There was a moment when I listened to my voicemail. Then, I felt the warmth of tears filling my eyes. I called. H was going to be granted a wish. I am humbled. I am sad. I’m excited for him to be allowed to be a kid without being surrounded by medical staff. I have all these emotions that I have a hard time processing.

Processing Emotions

I thanked them profusely. There was a point when I tried to explain to H that we would see Mickey Mouse. Also, I told my other kids, my husband, and my sister. I should have had a more exciting inflection in my voice. My kids should have been more excited. Yet, we all knew the magnitude of his condition and that his case was reviewed, and just by reading it on paper, he qualified.

We will get excited, eventually. I will plan things. We are SO grateful for the opportunity, and it will be nice to get away for a little bit without stressing about 5000 different things. I meet up with a couple of adoptive families I have come to love through Facebook. There are so many good things that will come out of this.

God is Still Good

God is good. I foresaw this ordeal before He created the Earth. He is showing us another bit of my rainbow, and I’m so thankful. But I’d rather see my son healthy than going on a vacation. Until then, we are heading to Disney.

Thank You, Make a Wish and Give Kids The World

Thank you, Make A Wish Foundation. Please know that you can donate your time, flight points, or volunteer your time for this excellent foundation. One day, when I get done raising kids, I foresee myself doing all I can to see other families in my situation have some joy during their hard times.

Vacation Days

Lessons Learned from Camping

These are the Lessons Learned from Camping.  Please, heed and enjoy!

Lessons Learned from Camping

  • Pee, it happens and not where it should.  It could happen on the bed or behind a utility shed.  If you can’t see people, while you are peeing, they can’t see you.
  • Spandex and fat people do not mix.  Please refrain or buy a larger-sized shirt.
  • Tattoos and hair are in inappropriate places on men and women :/
  • If you find monkey panties on the picnic table, do not assume that they are one of your children’s.  Do not touch.
  • Cotton can fall from the sky like manna…pretty cool.
  • Parades can consist of 2 people.
  • Kazoos are not edible.
  • If you don’t pay attention, your children will go and set on the steps of strange people’s camper’s steps and make conversation.
  • When the magician asks the CHILDREN if they know what a “shot glass” is and then proceeds to explain…take your children and walk away.
  • When you find a beer bottle, in the woods, it is not smart to put your mouth on it and make “tooting” sounds.
  • Poop, it can shoot up.  WARNING:  Keep your mouth closed! (Think of the movie RV with Robin Williams….totally happened).
  • If you lose your black water tank top down the dump station, please tell someone immediately, as it will most likely cause a flood-o-poop.
  • When asked if you want a $1000 fine for dumping said crap, always say no.
  • When someone looks like the Fonz, don’t mention it to him cause he thinks he is hot.
  • Bugs can make awesome necklaces.
  • Camper toilets are a necessity.
  • Not everyone gets goosebumps when they pee.
  • Kids will cry.
  • Scrapes will happen.
  • Food will be totally consumed.
  • When the little girl at the Golden Corral says “you have too many kids,” just smile and nod.
  • ALWAYS accompany your, almost 9 yr old, to the buffet.  He tends to pick up a sausage and then sling it back in the warmer with his hands.
  • If a random child gets hurt and you offer to cut off their leg to stop the pain, don’t be surprised if they do not return to your camper.
  • Bedtimes and Showers are not mandatory.
  • There is no shame in licking the cheese off the Doritos and then putting them back in the bag for your children (or husband) to eat.
  • It is always polite to leave the cream filling of the oreo, for your husband.
  • When your child says “be back in 10 minutes,” they really mean “I’ll be back in a few hours, gonna go.”
  • Tarp Man is scary.  Always carry your pistol when he is close.
  • Camping and baseball produce extra saliva in your son’s mouth.  They will spit any and everywhere.
  • Camping………. is fun 🙂


Vacation Days

Cracking the Hermit Crab Death Secret

Cracking the Hermit Crab Death Secret

Cracking the Hermit Crab Death Secret

Cracking the Hermit Crab Death Secret. Well, our frisky little Earl, whom we bought for Peach on vacation, bit the dust yesterday. RIP Earl.

He was an active little sucker till the end. He was our own Houdini and will be missed (cough, wink).

I knew something was amiss when I let him and Bob out of their cage for their afternoon exercise. I found Earl’s leg but not attached to his body.

He was still moving around, so I just assumed that was normal (a stupid thing to do).

What Exactly IS Normal?

While the kids were at Martha’s house, I grabbed the cage to feed/water Earl and Bob. Well, I picked Earl up, and his other leg fell off.

Once again, I thought this was normal (I had never had crabs before).

I turned the shell over, and out came Earl, dead, smelly Earl.

In my sadness (insanity), I insisted that Big Daddy and I go to the ‘big’ town and get Peach another crab.

We did, his name is Ed, and he is still alive.

I’m redoing their terrarium and had them sitting on the kitchen table, and before I knew it, Bob fell off the table. Those little suckers can book it.

All in all, they are both alive for the time being.


We got both of these crabs while in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Which is not far from Gatlinburg.

Never will I ever assume anything about crabs or their body parts.



Vacation Days

Top 18 Lessons Learned About Camping in Gatlinburg

Top 18 Lessons Learned About Camping in Gatlinburg


Top 18 Lessons Learned About Camping in Gatlinburg

Here are the Top 18 Lessons Learned About Camping in Gatlinburg. I hope it helps you if you decide to head that way.

  • If you stand under a tree after a thunderstorm, and you shake said tree for effect, you will get wet.
  • There are 31 Cracker Barrels between Benton and Gatlinburg.
  • Bug said 5,985,375,956 words ON THE TRIP DOWN THERE!
  • Rats on the sidewalk do not constitute wildlife.
  • When you see boxer briefs lying outside your camper, please don’t assume it is your husband’s and pick them up.
  • When your awning isn’t tied down, it will blow over your camper during a thunderstorm.
  • Pirates DO NOT live in Pittsburgh.
  • Teen girls will cry randomly and without warning.
  • BEWARE: twitterpated animals are everywhere (the ducks beside your camper, the chickadees in the KFC parking lot, and even the skunks on exhibit). Be prepared to body slam your teenager when she is arguing with the younger four children over the fact that the animals are not fighting. They are ____________.

Camping in Gatlinburg

Having your first vacation with your whole family can be exhausting. Yet, having children experience the Gatlinburg attractions and Pigeon Forge is the most fun. It was a learning curve on these vacation days!

Part 2

  • Camper upholstery is very ugly, but the fact that it is durable and can stand up to copious amounts of ketchup makes up for that fact.
  • Yes, there are real Indians in the world.
  • If you run out of room in the trunk of your vehicle, feel free to duct tape the remainder of your items on the hood of your car.
  • When searching for a “free” hermit crab, prepare to hear “want crabs?”. It is an innocent question.
  • You will never meet a stranger while camping.
  • Urine. It happens in the camper (sans toilet) or off the mountain.
  • Campers will always tell you which rope, knot, and tree to use when tying up your children.
  • Opening the gate to the swimming pool and moving out of the way can cause black eyes.
  • Ducks quack at 3:30 in the morning.