Lake Macbride Hiking & Camping Day 2

The day started nice and early.  I was already awake, but the kids started stirring shortly after 6.  It’s rough to keep them asleep with the sun pouring into our tent.  Brief picture of “morning” in a tent with four little kids.

A “hello morning” selfie because, why not?!  We all experienced it a little differently.

I had to send the girls over to wake up the hammock sleepers, because in spite of Jake’s 5:30 a.m. claims the previous night, he was sawing logs like no tomorrow.  Maybe it was his late night conversations….  If only he hadn’t been interrupted with a flashlight beaming in his face from our tent. (I may have been the one to do it, but it was Caleb’s idea, not mine!)

Hammocks are really fun.  We need to buy one before next time!

The girls were ecstatic, chowing down on their choice sugar cereals from our stash!  The big girls both went the cocoa krispie route.  “We want the chocolate one!!!”  You can’t go wrong with chocolate, right?

We decided to do one longer hiking trail in the morning, and call it good.  It’s amazing how much more difficult hiking is with one year olds strapped to you.  We were searching for Field Campus Trail, but ended up doing Angler’s Point Trail first, which led to Field Campus.  Angler’s was probably a half mile or so long.  When we got to the end, it took a few minutes to find the start to Field Campus.  While the others were looking, some of the kids and I walked out on a mini trail to the lake.  The water was so beautiful!  I am constantly amazed at the work of God!

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.  Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.” Psalm 104:24-25

Hiking on Field Campus Trail, we found this giant tree tipped over.  Jake was feeling extra ambitious for his audience and decided to walk it.  He most definitely regretted this decision about halfway out, but he made it happen.  It was a whole lot higher than it looks.  He’s a lanky thing, but Caleb was even telling him it was a poor choice and he should give it up.  According to Jake, he would “fall like a cat” if he went over.  Hmmm…

We hiked at least 2 miles out and back on Field Campus, along with the half mileish of Angler’s Point, making a morning hike close to 4.5 miles!  The end of this would have made it to the opposite side of the dam we had found yesterday, which would have been cool, but we knew we had the hike back and didn’t want to stretch the kids too thin.

The kids were overall significantly less whiny than yesterday and did some good walking!  Abby hiked almost the entire time all of the adults did, so we let her have a few piggy back rides towards the end of this hike.  She was being a stubborn smiler for most of the trip’s pictures, but she didn’t hold back here! haha!  Also, Abby is such a tense little tot.  This is how she opted to piggy back ride. hahaha!!

It was on the way back that Abby finally had the urge to poop.  She had been too hyper with all the excitement, but eventually nature takes over and she couldn’t wait until we got back.  Luckily, there happened to be this nice handy log laying alongside the trail at this point.  Pants down, butt hanging over, clutching onto the log, getting her business done.  Of course, seeing Abby going gave Evelyn the instant urge to join her.  Thankfully she just needed to pee.  Poor Marci got to experience what hiking with kids really looks like. hahaha  Although Abby took about ten minutes to wrap it up (this was like two days’ worth, from the kid who goes at least 3 times on a normal day), we weren’t caught by any other hikers.  Phew!  Don’t worry, I’m not posting a picture of this moment.  I probably would if I had thought to get one, butt….. (ha. ha. ha.) I was too distracted.

We finished our hike, drove to a nearby park, scarfed up lunch in the parking lot under a tree, let the kids play on the park for a bit and then headed for home!  It was definitely a fun trip!! ❤



Lake Macbride Hiking & Camping Day 1

A camping trip has been on the radar for a while, but we finally made it happen.  We traveled just over an hour from our house and opted for a one night stay.  I was a little skeptical it would be worth it, since the first night is notoriously the worst, but it went better than anticipated!

We did quite a bit of hiking, but the best hike was probably the first one we went on – the beach to dam trail.  It was a mile one way and we went out and back.  This was the trail we were the most excited about because near the beginning is the bench swing Caleb and I got engaged at 7 years ago.  Abby understood the concept a little better than Evie, but they were both excitedly talking about “our swing” afterwards. haha

Here’s a “then and now” that makes me smile.  The first picture is from seven years ago.  It was taken right before Caleb asked me to be his wife (I said yes, in case you wondered).  The next picture is seven years later on the same bench. ❤

We’ve added a few (plus Baby Boy, not pictured) to the pile since then…

The view from the bench.

We found a hilly little side trail we had to try out!

We made it to the dam, but before trekking over it we had to do some rock skipping (and throwing).  Jake of course, thought he was a professional.

Elly thought it was funny when Daddy tried skipping some rocks.

Daddy even let Eliana try her hand at throwing a few rocks. haha

Our big girls looked so tiny running across the dam!  They enjoyed yelling at the turkey buzzards perching on the rocks.

We did a little climbing on all the rocks lining the dam.

Elly smuggin’ at Jake.

There was a really tall, steep hill at the end of the dam that we all climbed up.  It had some decently sized drop offs at the top, but pretty, open views as well.

Finding a waterfall at the end of the dam was hands down my favorite part of the camping trip!  I had seen that there was one somewhere at the park and was hoping we would be able to find it!

There was a huge area of running water and rocks that made the best play area for the kids!  I wished they had worn their suits and had their water shoes (it was pretty rocky and slick) so they could have splashed around easier, but it was still a blast!  Of course, Evie splatted on her buns at one point and had to trek back sopped from the waist down.  I’d love to go back for a day trip and just play here longer!  The trail here was easily navigable for strollers too, so I could even make it happen on my own.

We made Jake haul at least one kid the entire time.  It was good for him and of course I am all about being hands free for a minute. haha!

The kids did really well on the walk out to the dam.  However, on the way back our wet little Miss Evelyn was overtired and extremely whiny to say the least.  We did what we could to keep her spirits up and keep moving forward.

Our poor “starving” children finally got food in front of them.  We had taco in a bowls for lunch.  I had a moment of panic when I thought I had remembered everything BUT the taco meat.  Thankfully, it was in the very bottom of the cooler so we didn’t have to live off of cheesy lettuce and cool ranch doritos after all. ha

After lunch, we sent Jake and Marci off on a hike to put the babies to sleep while Cabz and I took the big girls for a paddle boat ride!  I missed a great opportunity for a picture – Marci pushing Baby Boy in the stroller and Jake nestling Elly to sleep in the carrier. haha

I had to snap a picture of “our bench” from the water too!  7 years ago, I saw the same bench from our paddle boat and told Cabz we had to figure out how to walk to it later because it looked perfect!!  He helped me find it afterwards and the rest is history…. ❤

This smiley tot almost gave in and passed out on our paddle boat ride, but right at the last second she changed her mind.  Boo.

The girls were thrilled to spot some real wildlife (a deer *yawn*) from our paddle boat. haha


When we got back from paddle boating, we took the big girls down to the beach to swim in the lake for a bit.  They didn’t do much swimming, but they did enjoy sitting their hineys on the blow up raft we brought while we pushed them all around.  Hmmm…

The babies found ways to keep entertained back on shore….

After some swimming, we decided to get one more hike in before heading to the campsite.  We ended up doing the White Pine Trail back and forth.  It was 1.38 miles one way.  Abby was excited about the cool feather she found on this trail.

Altogether we hiked a little over 2 miles of trails in the morning and just shy of 3 miles in the early afternoon.  Elly and I were pretty excited about that!

Following the 2nd hike, everyone was ready to be done and it was time to set up camp.  We found the campsite pretty easily and it was really nice!  We had picked a “walk-to” for the first time and expected to have to haul stuff a long ways from where we parked.  Instead, we were nicely secluded and yet had a parking lot quite close to our site!  One downside is that a highway was very close by, so we had a little noise from that during the night.  There was also a camper whose occupants decided to sit out talking the actual whole night.  I kept hoping they would go to bed, but instead they got louder as the morning came in. haha  Oh well!  Jake, Marci, and Cabz set the tent up quick while I was corralling children.

Elly raced all over directing and pointing and acting like she knew all about everything ever.  Little twerp. ❤

Oh!  And Evie carried her camp chair around looking official…

The girls couldn’t think about anything else until I finally had time to set the babies down and get their chairs out.  CAMP CHAIRS are pretty much the reason everyone goes camping, right?!?!  I mean, COME ON!

Once the tent was set up, the kids obviously needed to check things out!

We were excited to finally meet this mysterious Marci we had been hearing about. haha  We were very glad to spend some time with her and get to know her a little bit.  We’re looking forward to next time!  Marci and Jake got the fire going and cooked us supper.  Isn’t that just the cutest?  We have to take advantage of Jake’s out of the ordinary helpfulness while we can. hahahaha

The girls anticipating their s’mores.

After all the excitement, the girls each handed over their s’mores a few bites in.  Our kids don’t get sugar much and they can’t always handle it. haha  I think that’s a good thing!

Trying to get our super overtired kids settled down for sleeping.

A little Bible time before sleeping.

Annnnd, this is what “bed” time looked like for an hour or so.  Elly and Baby Boy cried/whined off and on.  Then Baby Boy did a big poop and we had to deal with that.  Meanwhile, Abby and Evie kept goofing and getting in trouble.  Finally the younger three crashed and Abby was the lone wakeful child.  This was a huge shock since she is usually our best, fastest sleeper.  She managed to keep herself awake until about 11 that night (usually she is out by 8 p.m.!), but finally joined the others in sleep.  Once asleep, we didn’t hear from her until the others woke her up bright and early.  Baby Boy was just awake rustling a lot of the night.  Elly and Evie both woke and cried/whined briefly a few times, but overall the kids did better than anticipated.  I slept for a couple hours near the beginning of the night and then I was up the rest.  I’m always a struggling sleeper though, especially in new places.  Temperature wise, it was pretty humid, but cooler than it could be this time of year for sure!  We needed a blanket sometime in the morning.  It drizzled rain a couple different times during the night.  It didn’t wake the kids, but I did put Elly’s blanket over her pack ‘n play at one point since she was getting kind of wet.  We opted not to put our rain cover on, since we wanted the fresh air flow.  It gets pretty stifling with the rain cover on, since it’s intended for cooler camping weather.

While the kids were trying to get to sleep, what better activity to enjoy then some euchre?  It just completes an evening.




Sunderbrunch Park for Hiking and a Picnic!

We knew we needed to do something outdoors today.  The weather was way too gorgeous for this time of year!!  We decided to head over to Sunderbrunch for some hiking after Caleb got done with Bible study.  While he was there, some friends from church sent a text asking if anyone was interested in a hike/picnic at Sunderbrunch…. haha!  How fun!

We hiked some really fun trails and Tyler’s phone said we did about 3.5 miles in a little over an hour.  Pretty good when you consider 4 adults were hauling at least one kid in a carrier, one stroller made it part of the way, and we had a total of 10 kids with us!

Just two little troublemakers on a dinosaur! haha

Say cheese!

Our poor little bug collecting, bug loving, daughter Abby with her moth.  “It’s the first one I ever caught!!”  After this I had to explain to her that when you hold a moth too long, the dust on its wings can all brush off and then it won’t be able to fly and might not make it in life.  She set it in a nice weed patch and we cheerfully hiked on, optimistically hoping for the best.

Evie dreaming wild dreams of crazy mountain bike riding.

Some of the group.  I missed getting Darah in any of these pictures I see!  We’ll have to fix that next time.

Hiker girls!  The kids were all such troopers!

We found a cool wooden table with tall chairs!  Girls, girls, girls!  We love them! ❤  Of course, mine were the obstinate ones with me behind the camera….. *sigh*

More girls….

Abby enjoyed the fast hike a few of us did.  Her and Lily were the kid walkers that went for it.  At one point she said, “My stomach is kind of hurting, but that’s good!  Because it means it’s getting stronger!”  (We’ve used this line on her quite a bit….haha!!)  Elly was cracking up while we jogged.  Apparently it’s pretty fun to bounce around in the carrier.

The end of the hike!  We made it!  Time for lunch!

My Running Farewell…

I put my best foot forward and ran a mile almost every day this past summer.  Depending who you are, that may sound pathetic or extreme (probably, mostly pathetic).  For me, it was what I had time for.  Could I have ran more/further?  Yes, if I wanted to prioritize it over other things on my massive to-do list, but I didn’t.  I ran to lose baby weight and I did not like it. ha

Initially, I intended to keep running until I hit the goal weight I had created for myself, which meant losing 22 pounds.  However, running and I apparently have a hate/hate relationship.  Most people don’t deal with a ton of injuries when they’re running such short distances, buuuut me on the other hand…..  I found out my body isn’t what you’d call a “runner’s body.”  I took up running shortly after pregnancy and dealt with a couple unpleasant ingrown toenails.  Off and on in the earlier running days I had shin splints and some knee pain.  Things seemed to stabilize for a while, until I had my final injury sometime in September – runner’s knee.

I wrote a little about my runner’s knee in a previous post, so I’ll just give a quick update.  I have continued seeing a physical therapist off and on.  Although I have had some definite improvement, it has been very slow and both knees (particularly the left) are still bothering me to the extent that I can’t sit cross-legged, put weight on my left knee, go up and down stairs normal, or run.  I have a brace and a knee strap and I always have one of them on the left leg during the day.  Watching the kids with the knee issues has been…. well, as I have taught the girls to say when they’re served something they don’t like, “not my favorite.”  It definitely has gotten old and I am definitely more than ready to have my knees back to normal.  I have decided I will never run again if my knees will only get back to normal.  I’m still hoping they will and my therapist is starting to wonder why it is taking this long – it has been almost three months now!!  I have been faithfully doing all the nightly exercises and stretches I’m assigned, trying my best to rest them when I can, and they are just not getting back to normal.  It’s been a little disheartening.

During my running months, I was able to lose around sixteen pounds, which was great.  I was bummed when I had to give up running, since it meant giving up my goal weight for a while.  The good news is, I somehow managed to lose the last six pounds just with our two miles of walking each day and focusing on less sugar!!  I found that out tonight when I randomly decided to check my weight.  What a pleasant surprise! haha  Miracles do happen!  Now, if only one can happen on my knees……

In case you are interested, here are some tidbits I discovered while running over the summer:

  • If you run with your mouth wide open, gnats are no joke.  They’ll get in your eyes too!  And if you do get a gnat in your mouth, it isn’t a good idea to spit it out forwards while running….. hindsight is 20/20.
  • Don’t think about how tired you are, how limp your body is, or how much you hate running while you are running.  It makes it like a million times harder.
  • Low tree branches and obstacles over the sidewalk are hard.  You keep your body in a kind of forced, continue moving forward mode and you just kind of stare at the things in the way as you get closer and closer.  It’s almost like you expect some sort of mind trick to magically remove those things before you run into them, but they don’t go anywhere.  Instead, you slam into them and keep awkwardly stumble-running on.
  • It’s about a million times easier to run when there are bystanders.  They don’t even have to be watching you or care, but you instantly feel like they are and it gives you extra momentum and strength and you suddenly feel like the beastliest runner out there.  STRIDE. STRIDE. STRIDE.  Check this out!  See how fast I am??  Nothing can stop me now!!!!!!
  • Long hair can be really annoying and it has to be CENTERED on your head.  Oh my goodness.  The worst runs were ones where my ponytail was off-center.  It threw off my whole balance!  I had no idea how annoying that could be, but wow.  I would work so hard to get an evenly centered ponytail – the tighter, the better!
  • Thursday runs literally STUNK.  Garbage pick-up day was Friday morning, and everyone hauled their reeking trash bins out to the edge of the sidewalk (my running trail) on Thursday evening.  I couldn’t run until the kids were in bed, so I always “enjoyed” the full benefit of every stinking pile of trash the neighborhood had to offer.  PHEW!  You can’t hold your breath as easily when you’re running and you really can’t hold it when there’s a new garbage bin every few feet.  There was no stopping it.  Rancid.
  • The days I would run the fastest and the days my runs felt the quickest were the times I noticed the sky.  SO BIG.  So beautiful.  I could just breathe God’s work in those breathtaking sunsets, or the huge starry night skies.  It really made me want to simply praise Him!  The more I studied the sky, the faster I ran.  It was fun.

Running isn’t my thing.  We didn’t mesh well.  I loved the feeling after a run though.  It was great to exhaust myself and know I had gotten in a solid workout.  I’m grateful I made my goal weight in spite of having to give up running.  I hope my knees heal soon and completely.  I appreciate lifelong runners more.  Good for you, sister.  You do your thing.  I’m out. 😀

Down and Out for a While

Well, I continued my running all summer.  One mile a day.  Fridays off. It was going well for the most part.  I lost 16 pounds, meaning I still need to lose 6 to hit my goal weight.  The plan was to keep it up until I hit that weight.  Unfortunately, I have had a bit of a setback.  Yes…. I got a running injury.  It feels dumb to even say that out loud.  I was running one mile a day – and got a running injury!!  How does that even happen?!  I feel like I didn’t deserve to get injured with how little I was doing, but annoyingly enough, that is exactly what happened.

I noticed some pretty uncomfortable knee pain, especially in my left knee, a few weeks ago.  I ran through it, took my day off, ran through it again (much worse this time), and couldn’t do it the following day.  I tried a few times, but my body just wasn’t going to get it done.  It was hurting pretty solid.  I decided to quit running for a couple days to let it rest and hopefully get back to it asap.  That’s not what happened though.  It kept hurting, and had a lot of swelling as well.  My whole knee cap area was pretty rough pain-wise.  Going up and down stairs was super painful, I couldn’t sit cross-legged, or bend my left knee much at all without quite a lot of pain.  Even walking with the girls was no fun, although I still managed to get that done because… sitting in the house all day with my nutty bunch?  Not on your life.

A couple weeks of no running, trying to baby it, keeping it straight as much as possible, and it wasn’t getting better.  We finally decided I should try a physical therapist, because taking care of kids all day with a bum knee you can’t bend without hurting?  It was wearing on me.  He said I had (I forget the long name and don’t want to google it) “Runner’s Knee,” which is what my P.A. brother-in-law, running fiend sister, and her runner hubby all thought too.  He told me not to run on it until it’s better (I tried multiple times…. it wasn’t happening anyway), that I need to rest it (ha), should ice it, and gave me some stretches to do.  Apparently this was brought on by putting too much strain on my knees while running, over striding, and having a weak “hip area” (aka butt).  Cool stuff.  Too bad I’m impatient, and don’t want to take off a bunch of time to get over this.  I am a little frustrated with this, but at this point I just want my knee back to normal.  You always appreciate your body more when it’s not working right.  You think about how nice it was to have two knees that didn’t hurt every time you had to hobble down the stairs with a giant load of laundry. haha Hoping to move past this soon!  For now, I am seeing the physical therapist once a week and trying to do my homework.

Slow Cooker Mexican Haystacks

My favorite kind of food…. healthy and delicious!!  This is a also a great meal for anyone with kids because they can pick what toppings they want and, I can attest, may eat impressive amounts afterwards.  This idea came from Six Sisters’ Stuff and couldn’t be much easier.


Slow Cooker Mexican Haystacks

  • 6 or more frozen boneless/skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 packet your favorite taco seasoning
  • 1 jar chunky red salsa (I used a 24oz jar, but less would be fine too!)
  • cooked rice (we like to use brown rice!)
  • Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • corn
  • red bell pepper diced
  • onion diced
  • other toppings of your choice!


Plunk your chicken in the crock pot and sprinkle taco seasoning on top.  Dump your salsa over the chicken, cover, and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.  Shred it up with a fork and keep warm while you cook your rice.  I cooked 2 cups dry brown rice in chicken broth (it really boosts the flavor!) and had to make one more batch for the amount of chicken we had.

Scoop some rice on your plate, add on the chicken, toppings of your choice, and enjoy!  We think all Mexican food needs cornbread on the side.  If you’re interested, this is one of our favorites: Buttery Corn Muffins.


Tug Fest Run

Around here there is a Tug Fest every year where two teams, the Iowa team and the Illinois team have a tug of war contest across the Mississippi.  There are a variety of activities surrounding this event.  The Tug Fest Run is one of those.  I’ve been trying to find more one mile races around, but most of them are kid centered because normal adults run 5K or longer. haha  Anyway, I decided to run this race along with a bunch of children just because, but our 3 year old really wanted to race with me.  Turns out, her excitement was too much for me and I decided to slow jog it with her instead.  She held my hand most of the time, but I did convince her to try running next to me for part of it.  She gets a little nervous in crowds and apparently didn’t trust me not to bolt and leave her in the dust.  Here we are before the race.


I was pretty proud of her as she ran the whole way, stopping for a very quick sip of water at the halfway point.  She beat her last mile time by a little over a minute!  She ran right around a 12:30 mile.  She got a bit tired about 4/5 of the way through, but pushed through it and did awesome!  It looked like she was the youngest one out there, but she certainly wasn’t last! 🙂  After the race….


All (children – boo) participants got a water bottle from Happy Joes filled with coupons, candy, a toy, and a running medal.  Abs was pretty excited about that, but gave me her goofy smirky prune face instead of a smile.  She’s been a twerp with pictures lately.  She wants to be in every one, but kind of forgot how to smile for the camera. ha!



Some people have been wondering how my running is going.  I think it’s been successful since, after all, it is still going.  I have been running a mile every night (Friday is my night off and I look forward to it allllllll week).  My (runner) sister and her hubby helped me do some roll it out thing to stretch something that was causing me some pretty rough knee pain.  I know I’m being very descriptive here, but I can’t remember what they called it.  Regardless, it has helped a lot and my knees very rarely give me pain anymore!  That is great, but I still don’t like to run. haha  I do it for the workout, the good feeling afterwards, and mostly the weight loss.  I’m down 13 lb since I started running a few months ago.  It feels like slow progress to me, but I am glad it’s happening!  I’ve been feeling better about myself and am excited to lose 9 more pounds and hit my goal weight!  If that happens, I will start cutting out running if possible. hahaha!  I’ve only had my beloved ice cream on three occasions, helped eat one batch of brownies, and am trying to overall snack on fruits and eat less at meal times.  I also still drink my keifer and enjoy my bedtime bowl of popcorn (popcorn popper style – microwave tastes nasty, and I’m liking the non oily popper vs. stove kind).  If the pounds get harder to lose, I will probably have to be even more careful foodwise, but since it’s working for me now, I’ll stick with the current routine.