Orris Family Christmas Recap

How many times can you say that you got EXACTLY what you wanted for Christmas?  Well, I can say that this year!  In fact, the Kasch family has the power to give that gift to me every year... no pressure... better buy a lottery ticket or two :)

Even though my mom and I live on adjoing properties, when the Kasch family comes to visit, it isn't close enough!  We are each constantly bundling up, hiking the short path between houses, hosting each other, separating into evolving groups, etc.  So, for Christmas my mom had the most brilliant idea...she rented a large condo at Peek N Peak so that we could all spend a few days under the same roof!

My mom's brother, Mark, and his wife Charlene and son Kaelen also joined us at the condo.  They live in Miami and so we rarely see them and never spend much quality time together (when they visit, there are usually a dozen other relatives around and conversations are short...but LOUD!).  Kaelen was a great sport to spend a week surrounded by 3 pint-sized adoring 2nd cousins.  As per usual, Heidi velcroed herself to the boy (she has had this habit since she could first walk and assert attention from male species!).  She renamed him "My Best Boy" and I'm afraid that name has stuck.  In fact, it is taking me much longer than normal to finish this post because Heidi keeps coming in to beg me to pull up the pictures of her Best Boy so that she can stare at them each for a few minutes before returning to play.  We are in trouble with this girl!

The condo was perfect because each family had their own bedroom, but could also comfortably fit in the main living areas.  Mom and I enjoyed planning this and spent hours pouring over the options, choosing the most allergy friendly condo.  There was a game room in the basement and a living room/ dining room that provided ample space.  We went on walks, talked, laughed, ATE, played games, and headed to the main lodge for swimming, hot tub, sauna and the indoor playground!  Such a great way to spend quality time together.

clockwise from the top:  Uncle Mark being a goofball entertaining the girls, of our our intense game nights (photo taken from balcony), trio of happy girls at indoor playground, Aunt Charlene reading to the girls, fancy table for raclette dinner, coordinating cousins at the breakfast bar.

Since Peek N Peak is near Chautauqua where our good friends, the Lindemans live, we also got to spend a little time with them!  The adults (minus my mom who stayed back with the girls) drove over to their house for a blacksmithing demo (Christoph walked away 100% convinced that this is going to be his new hobby and Jake is hoping to take lessons at Family Camp) and one evening we coerced the Lindemans over to the condo to join us for more games!
clockwise from top:  Game night...LOVING the expressions...especially whatever mischief was occurring between Marianne and Lee!; Lee pounding the iron; hot coals (duh); Heidi refused to stay in bed when TWO OF HER FAVORITE BOYS were in the house so her Aunt Marianne took pity on her and made her a nest on the balcony overlooking the living room...worked like a charm and she fell right asleep!; Mary and Luke enjoying the basement games (notice Heidi's proximity to the boy); another group shot of the games from above.

Next up, more CHRISTMAS :)  All these memories are making me itch for another game night...What is your favorite group game?  


Teamwork always works!

Last week's blog post made at least 2 people very happy :)  Aunt Lou enjoyed feasting her eyes on her grand nieces and my sister felt less alone in the blogging world (most of the bloggers we've read over the years have stopped blogging).  

I got my replacement charger for my camera and it was soooo fun to finally upload pics and look at them.  Almost like the "good ole days" when you would find a roll of film, not remembering when you took the photos, drop it in the box at the store and then eagerly await 5 days until you could pick it up and see the pictures!  

Pictures are truly worth a thousand words.  While I ebb and flow with taking the pictures, I'm thankful for each shot.  Each picture brings back the sounds, smells and memories of the moments.

This is my favorite picture from Christmas:

Can't you almost feel the crisp December air and hear their sweet, high-pitched voices (one of whom has an adorable German accent!)?

My niece, Annie, was visiting from Germany and the three girls immediately loved each other (it had been 1.5 years since they had physically seen each other- that's quite a lot in kid time!).  Cousins share such a precious bond, so much stronger than friendship. Annie is as tall as Hazel, but is actually 14 months younger while she only 6 months older than Heidi.  Having them together is pure perfection.

They play all together or break apart, forming and reforming.  This Christmas, Annie and Hazel were more often found playing together, but the love and affection they have for each other helps to smooth over those moments when Heidi felt left out or one of them needed alone time.

In this shot, they were doing their favorite cheer:  "Teamwork always works, teamwork always works, teamwork always works, TEAMWORK ALWAYS WORKS!".  I believe they saw it on a TV show, but I don't know which one.  We would hear them doing this cheer ALL.THE.TIME!  In the bath, when playing, when cleaning up toys, etc.  Soooo cute...and true :)

Scrolling through the photos reminds me of how important teamwork is to raising a family.  Weekly, no DAILY, I rely on my mother, my church friends and so many others to help me with the girls!  While I have the ultimate teammate in Jake, as I shared last week, he's a tad busy these days with work, school and running.  I'm thankful for the moments he chisels out in his days to be with us, but I also spend a lot of time dreaming about our future time together!

Whether it's babysitting, venting, consulting, laughing, crying, etc.  It truly takes a village to raise these sweet sweet girls!  Thank you for being a part of my village!


Hello out there! Quick update from this quartet.

Hi friends!  I've been itching to visit my blog and share with you.  Literally, my fingers twitch and my brain comes up with witty, delightful things to say.  Then I sigh and realize that my husband is doing school work on the computer and my camera charger is missing which means I can't share photos (or actually TAKE photos).

However, I desperately want to check in, especially for our Aunt Lou and Grandma Baird who only get updates through this blog :)

ME:  I'm good!  In general, I am feeling more happy and joyful than I have in years.  A long time ago, I asked you to pray for that for me and so now I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I completed the Advocare 24-day challenge and now continue to maintain the eating plan 50-75% of the time.  I've lost over 15 pounds and feel overall healthier!  Unfortunately, I've had to come to terms with the fact that dairy is not my friend.  Doing a whole cleanse really got me in tune with how different foods affect my body!  Odd how I never noticed before, but I am the same person who didn't realize that I have SEVERE allergies until the Doctor told me  (for example, intense headaches every time I visited a house with an indoor dog and NEVER picked up on the correlation!).

As you can see in this snapshot I took of myself with my phone yesterday, I'm GOING GRAY!  That patch at my part is the most gray and I'm hoping it turns bright white or sparkling silver SOON!  While I am always aghast at the saloon when I see all the GLITTER falling from my head on to my black cape, I also LOVE it!  I think perhaps it's because I grew up in an age where Grandmas had unnatural hair colors and my father told women, straight to their adoring faces, that they "were too old to have hair that color".  I also know some BEAUTIFUL women that went grey at a young age and my admiration of them must have spilled over to include their grace in ageing (shout outs to Leslie Boehmer and Aunt Amy Krumich!).  I simply am not ashamed of my age or hair color!  I think it's easier for a dirty blond to go gradually grey because it just blends right in.  Slowly, I'm just loosing the saturation of color.  

Recently I checked in with a few 2nd grade girls to see what my actual hair color is (if you ever need to hear the truth, ask a kid!).  They replied that I'm a dirty blond... HA... if they only knew ;)  So, I'm not quite grey yet, but well on my way and loving it!

JAKE:  He is in his LAST semester of his Bachelor of Nursing program!  This will be his second Bachelors degree and we are SO proud of him!  He balances full-time work, difficult classes, keeping this house warm, being a father and literally running in every snow storm.  

Recently he was sick for quite awhile and I began to wonder if mono was back.  Turns out, the cold medicine he was taking was making him GOOFY and exhausted.  So glad we figured that one out!  

Now he is back to running, playing with the kids and being a sweet husband.  

(I just discovered that I have not taken any pics of Jake with my phone for a LONG time!)

GIRLS:  I have so much to say and plan to write a post on each of them later in the week. 

Suffice to say that these two are GROWING like weeds and BLOSSOMING like flowers.  My heart literally bursts with love multiple times a day!  

Hazel is now nicknamed, our "little theologian".  She attends a christian Preschool and it's been an amazing year for her!  Her compassion and empathy are her strongest personality traits.  But it's the theology discussions and questions that I never expected from a 5 1/2 year old.  Granted, she's told me that I'm wrong once or twice, but the black & white teachings of her school are age appropriate and lead to some awesome discussions about faith.  Perhaps one day she'll turn into a Lutheran theologian and snuggle deep into the grey...

Hazel is also an artist to the nth degree.  Currently she is digging through our recycling bin, building a present for my mom who just returned from HAWAII and is coming for dinner (which I haven't cooked because I'm blogging).  She spends HOURS every day at the table with paper, scissors, tape and colors.  She's very mixed media and abstract.  Clearly taking after her Uncle Josh (who has gained national attention during his Master of Fine Arts program)!  We are so proud of her creativity and thankful her teacher and babysitter encourage this free form art play.

Heidi continues to be my snuggle bunny.  However, she can be one huge ball of energy too!  She is quick to love, especially if you are a teen or male.  She simply adores her "big kid friends" and I am thankful for a church community that provides these relationships.  She is also very into technology and this COLD winter has granted her an abundance of indoor time to play in her OWN Kindle which she simply loves (summer will be severely technology limited!).

Heidi has this adorable grin and double chin that I can't keep my lips off of!  At swimming lessons, she grins the whole time while her eyes show faint signs of fear and her arms paddle at mach speeds.  

We've been having many snow and cold temperature school cancellations and I try to make them more like VACATION days.  Here's a pic from Monday's trip to Chuck E. Cheese!  (They are in the roller coaster simulator).

That's my 30-minute update!  I'll be back soon with tales from the ER, tooth fairy and more :)  What's new with you?


Oh Holy Night

                                       Glowing view of our family crèche.

I cannot believe that I haven't written since September!  I miss journaling and I will definitely regret not having so many wonderful memories shared here....cause if something is not written down, I most likely will forget!

Recently I had an ephinany!  My lack of blogging has many roots, but the main culprit is having a husband who is both working full time and taking online classes.  That means I am pulling extra duty with the kiddos and I never have access to the real computer.

It's an exhausting phase of life, but a good and exciting phase.  Jake is creeping closer and closer to our dream of both working in schools and with kids.  It is going to be a great change for our family and all the trials of today are completely worth it!

Today I am at a work conference and for the next 24 hours, I am alone and soooo happy about it!  I checked into my room and when I return to it, it will be just as I left it!  At lunch, I made a conscious effort to put my fork down between bites, breathe deeply and really taste my food.  Yes, I am enjoying my alone time!  Soon I will check out the pool (hoping it's big enough for laps) and then enjoy a quiet, slow dinner before tucking into my quiet room and reading a novel....while looking out over the ski slopes (super proud of myself for asking for a view upgrade!).

Tomorrow night, we are tentatively planning for Jake and the girls to join me at the conference. They will enjoy the resort amenities while I am at my conference.  By tomorrow, I'll be ready to interrupt my zen and welcome the noise, clutter and busyness of my family :)


Swim tastic

Well, this is a quick post since our computer is broken and it's a beautiful Saturday and I'm anxious to put away my work and head out!  However, I'm going to try to increase my blogging by taking advantage of the convenience of iPad pictures and quick blog posts.  It won't be pretty, but it's better than nuttin!

Today, I want to capture a bit of this:

Granted, it doesn't look like much because I didn't pull out my iPad to take these pics until the last 5 minutes of the girls swim lessons when they have free time.  But if you look closely, you'll notice a few key things:

- it's a rather small pool!!!  That's because it's the HEATED AND SHALLOW therapy pool!  The girls can touch the ground in half of it, but it's only 4 feet at the deep end.
- there are only two kids in the pool....and TWO ADULTS!  In the past, the girls had swimming lessons at a different YMCA and the classes were filled to the brim with toddlers and they had a few teens for instructors.  This Y only allows five kids per class, but we lucked out with just our two in this session!  The instructors are experienced swimmers and teachers and the girls progress visibly during each 45 minute lesson!  (The previous lessons were 30 min, but the girls had blue lips by the time they were done!)

Needless to say, we are extremely happy with their current swimming lessons!  Just look at these happy babes


A wonderfully Frozen 5th Birthday

It's the end of the summer and at the top of my "MUST FINISH BEFORE I GO BACK TO WORK" is writing Hazel's birthday post!  This was our first "invite friends" party and it was a BLAST!

It started with an invitation:

Before someone calls me out for being a crook and a cheat, let me admit...that I AM!  I used someone else's card design and edited it myself.  Not the right thing to do, but I did it.  I get so much pleasure out of all the party prep work, so I justified it.  However, if you want to use the design, I highly recommend paying the actual artist (link), plus mine didn't look as nice when it printed...quite pixilated and grainy.

Here is a brief description of the party with TONS OF LINKS for further inspiration and tutorials:
  • We used white streamers with styrafoam balls to make icicles throughout the house.  
  • I printed these signs to hang around (the one over the present opening chair says "some people are worth melting for", the one on the woodstove says "the cold never bothered me anyway".  cracks me up!). 
  • I ordered the Elsa and Anna dolls online.  Elsa was holding a card for Hazel letting her know that she was sending Hazel a matching dress, but it didn't arrive in time for the party (sigh).
  • My husband made a Pin the Nose on Olaf game (coincidentally on the back of the "cow jumped over the moon" picture he made for the Goodnight Moon Party).  
  • I made two types of fake snow (this one  and this one.  I don't have a preference over which recipe...and of course the kids quickly mixed them.  But they were a lot of fun to play with!).  
  • We used pom pom streamers and sticks to make icicle wands.  Perhaps my only original idea :)
  • We made crowns (here.  didn't print on cardstock and let the kids use way too much glitter glue, so they weren't wearable). 
  • We did the epsom salt painting (here.  note: the thicker the mixture, the more obvious the crystals will be). 
  • The night before, Hazel and I made these snowflake barrettes.  I intended this to be one of the crafts we made during the party, but intricate cutting and hot glue just aren't toddler friendly activities, so we made them all ahead of time!  Glad we did a trial run :)
  • In addition to princess puzzles and Frozen storybooks, I had a coloring quiet station to help the kids keep from getting overstimulated (GREAT in theory, in reality, they wanted to be at every station all at the same time).  I printed these coloring pages and mazes.
  • We played a "hot potato" type game to disperse the snow barrettes and frozen charm bracelets that were our guest gifts.  We listened to "Let It Go" and grabbed a charm/barrette each time we heard the refrain.  (Again, great in theory... a little too tricky for 5 year olds).
  • I should mention that I follow the rule of "as many friends as your age" when it comes to parties.  So, she was allowed to invite 4 friends plus her sister (aka her BFF for life).
  • After the food, the girls changed out of their Princess dresses and we played ice games!  Inspiration here.  I had one bajillion ideas of activites to do with the ice, but by this time, the girls were really wanting just to PLAY and frolic together.  It's always better to have too much planned, than too little!

Now onto my favorite part... THE FOOD!
  • I used these labels and styrafoam balls cut in half to hold the signs.
  • True Love Sandwiches (aka PBJ with a heart imprint)
  • Frozen Grapes (next time I'll cut them in half before freezing)
  • Snowballs (powdered donuts)
  • Snowman eyes (black beans)
  • Snowman noses (carrots)
  • Snowman arms (pretzel sticks)
  • Edible Icicles (snow cones)
  • La piece de resistence:  Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Snowflake cookies!  A local woman makes these delicious sugar cookies and when I saw her Frozen cookies, I knew that this party would NOT have cake!  These were a really fun way to celebrate Hazel's favorite movie!  Before the party, I prepared a special Celebrate plate and tea light to bring the cookie to Hazel while we sang "Happy Birthday".  But in the spirit of the moment, I completely forgot... so Heidi and I sang to her after everyone went home when I realized my mistake :)

aaaannnnddd... one last collage (because I can't resist and there are a few more gems I want to share).

  • Princess Hazel with her icicle wand... I LOVE this picture!  
  • Hazel opening her presents...wish I could bottle that joy!  Also her feet... she's still so tiny and her toes are adorable.
  • Sending all the princesses down our zipline!
  • Pin the nose on Olaf was a highlight of the party!  For the record, Heidi rarely wears pants...she's 3...and stubborn.
  • Hazel's new helmet.  Granted, I accidentally bought a snowboarding helmet, so this one just got returned and it was replaced by a similar, but less insulated unicorn helmet :)


My clown 3.0

This girl fills my heart with more joy than I ever thought possible.  Granted, she's NUTS-O, but being brave and adventurous are traits we admire in this household!  From the get-go, she has loved to make us laugh and she does it SO well!  She's also my calm girl, always keen for a cuddle and face snuzzle.

She is beginning to surprise me with her insights, memory and imagination.  The other night as I carried her from my bed (where we often have her fall to sleep because otherwise she TALKS AND TALKS and keeps her sister awake), she woke up and gazed into my eyes in that adoring, pure way that only a small child can achieve and I said "You are so beautiful.".  Then, as I often do, I added the question, "Is it more important to be kind or beautiful?".  (My fear is that my kids hear praises on their looks so often that they will become vein and misguided.)  She wisely answered "Kind" and then added "but I'm both!".  True, true my sweet clown.

Jake and Hazel are endless balls of energy, more keen to literally run around than to be still.  Heidi is more like me, enjoying active time, but more keen to snuggle on the couch with a good book or tv show.  She still sucks those two fingers ALL THE TIME and her bunny is more and more a permanent companion.

Last night she was having trouble sleeping and as I climbed into her bed for the third round of snuggles, I wrote about her in my head, as I often do.  If only those words were kept somewhere so I can share them in their entirety. 

I climbed into her bed and she immediately whispered (in her whisper that is impossibly quiet):  "Will you scratch my back".  This is a request she gives many times a day.  Then she clarifies the request with, "use your lion paws".  Sometimes this means hard scratching and sometimes that means gentle scratching, but fortunately I've learned that she simultaneously gives her bunny a "lion paw back scratch" and I can mimic what technique she is using.

It also occurs to me that she hasn't completely lost her babyness.  She isn't a passive cuddler, oh no!  While I'm snuggling her, one hand has her fingers in her mouth while the other rubs my cheek/arm/wherever she can reach.  One of my favorite things about babies is how they don't yet realize that their feet are not hands.  When snuggling, Heidi's feet and toes revert to their babyness and join in on the snuggling.  The silky smooth pads bury their way into my skin and join in with the gentle touches.

Since I never shared the pics from her 3 year old shoot...here's a little recap of the past 3 years:

1st Birthday:  She's A Peach Party

2nd Birthday:  Goodnight Moon Party

3rd Birthday:  Penguin Party

This year will mark an exciting change for Heidi as she attends Toddler Time school 2 days a week and joins her sister in gymnastics and swimming lessons.  One thing is for sure, she will keep us laughing and snuggling all the year through!


Gracefully made

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there lived a mostly sweet 4-year old who dreamed of being a rock star and whose parents decided to defy genetics and enroll her in a dance class.

the perfect pose for the girl I call "my philosopher"

While I have videos of her dancing, I'm not able to transfer any of my videos onto the computer.  So, take my word for it that she is ADORABLE!  She is graceful and poised... and typically a tad silly.

Overall, she LOVED dancing, even though she often wanted to skip dance class.  However, once she arrived and entered the room of mirrors, she would jump, twirl, curtsy, smile and stare.

Her teacher was a friend of mine, so once again, Hazel had the benefit of knowing her teacher well and feeling comfortable.  What a gift!

If I looked like this, I would stare too!

I must admit, that by the time the recital came around, the DANCE MOM in me began to roar it's ugly head.  It really bothered me that she didn't know the routines (but neither did the rest of the girls).  Practicing once a week for 9 months just didn't cut it.  So, I learned the routines and began practicing them at home.  It helped a lot, but next time, I'll do that MUCH earlier so that her knowledge and confidence are ready.

During her shows, she literally sparkled!  The big stage, bright lights and full auditorium didn't phase her in the least!  I was super nervous, but she was merely excited.  She did a great job, sometimes even leading her class in the right steps!

Here are her professional group photos.  She had a really nice, small class and enjoyed these "friends" (though in true preschool form, never learned their names!)...and I enjoyed getting to know their parents as we watched each week through the 2-way mirror.

Until the girls have a strong opinion, I'm alternating them between dance and gymnastics.  This year Heidi is old enough to join in on the fun!  She has waited patiently (often by dancing in the hallway of the dance studio in her ballet shoes) and I can't wait to see what amazing things the girls will do this year!

Regardless, I know there will be no shortage of adoring fans :)


Summer Projects

We are at the tail end of one of those blissful summer weekends in which there are no steadfast plans, errands to run, reasons to do anything other than what you want to do.  In theory, all weekends are like this, but in reality, they are rare gems.

We watched a rocket launch and visited with friends, organized a few more small areas in the home, did a yard work, read a book in the hammock (THIS ONE WAS ME), watched a parade, shopped, cooked healthy dinners, laughed with our kids, etc.  In fact today I actually said "This is one of those days that seems to have extra hours!".  I've had time to worship, clean, play, read, do a craft project, visit, cook, and now blog!

Jake spent the day taming his gardens.  We took this year off from gardening since he was out of time between work and school and the yard has been a tad embarrassing.  Now, even though we aren't getting ready to harvest anything, at least it is tame and it is easy to imagine the gorgeous gardens that will be there again one day.

As I write, the girls are enjoying some parade candy and watching Aladdin.  I'm anxious to get back to my book, but wanted to squeeze in a little blogging time since there is so much that I want to post on here.  Jake is organizing his clothes (we've all had massive closet/dresser/etc reorganizations this summer) while waiting on friends to arrive and help lift the girls playhouse INTO A TREE.  Did I mention that it is POURING?  Thunder, lightening, torrential down pours, flood warnings, etc!

Yet, he thinks his comrades are still going to show up and lift the house into the platform he's built in the trees.  I'm a tad doubtful... and yet I've come to believe that most things are possible with Jake.


This antenna has been attached to the roof of our house for a LOOOONG time.  It isn't something we use, but was not a priority to remove.  That is until a storm this spring ripped 3/4 of it from our roof.  Somehow it didn't break the window beneath- which would have been quite the horrid wake up call that it was past time to tackle this problem.

I INSISTED we hire someone to do this because this part of the house is 3 stories from the ground.  In true martial harmony, Jake ignored me and one day I found him like this (above).

Luckily, rock climbers are versatile and he had quite the system to safe guard himself.  Using more rock climber knowledge, I was able to assist the antenna down using a friction belay and the problem was solved.  Well, the antenna problem was solved.  The "how to get Jake off the roof" problem was what he had been waiting for!  Sigh...

And that my friends is what happens when you marry a Kosker.  Another project tackled, another eye roll from a wife, another happy homesteader.


Lutherlyn Family Camp :: The Perfect Vacation!

I had to take a few weeks off before writing this post to fully reflect on why our week at Lutherlyn's Family Camp was the PERFECT vacation.  Spoiler Alert:  After reading this, you will be racing me to sign-up for Family Camp next year.  GO AHEAD... that's precisely what I want to happen.  I'll even offer to camp in a tent for the week if all the cabins get filled (I believe there were 5 empty cabins this summer... that's not very many!).

First a little background:  I was a camper at Lutherlyn for 5 years, summer camp counselor for 3 years and full-time staff for 2 years.  My husband was a camper there for probably 10 years and counselor there for 1 year.  We met there, we fell in love there, we've baptized our children there, we've made the majority of our "lifetime" friends there, my sister worked there, I met my brother-in-law there...  This place is HUGE for us.  It is the greatest place on the planet (though I might be a tad biased).

When I worked there, I could never understand why families would come there for vacation.  It's a place for KIDS, yet a huge amount of family campers are adults without kids.  WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?  Even for families with kids, I didn't get the appeal.  Hey, if you live in paradise, you become immune to it, right?

Despite my history of not understanding the allure of Family Camp, this past winter I had, what my husband has deemed "MY BEST IDEA EVER"!  "Jake, why don't we go to Family Camp this year?".  The subcontext that we both immediately understood was:

  • Let's go to an all-inclusive resort where 70+ highly trained college students (they have a rigorous 2 weeks of staff training, WAY more than any other camp I've ever heard of) will entertain, teach, engage our children for part of the day while we do ADULT THINGS.
  • Let's go on a vacation where we don't have to cook or wash dishes.
  • Let's go on a vacation where we never get into our car to go anywhere.
  • Let's go on a vacation where the day is packed with awesome activities that we can chose from, without ever shelling out money for these activities.
  • Let's go to a place that attracts interesting people so we can engage in meaningful conversations while our kids do whatever they want to do on this safe, beautiful 600 acre property.
  • Let's go on a vacation with some of our favorite people (granted, this was an advantage for us... but even if you don't know anyone there, you will quickly meet people who you "click" with... there's something in the water there that makes this happen!).
I tend to think anything that isn't free or less than $10 is expensive.  It blows Jake's mind that I can look at any restaurant menu and feel aghast at the prices.  It's a gift.  So, let's cover this part first because for this family, this is always the first obstacle discussed.  In fact, we hadn't gone on a week long vacation with our kids EVER!

Here is what it cost my family of four (click here to see your family scenario costs):
  • Cabin= $258.  Now when I say "cabin", I mean gorgeous wooden cabin with large porch, six beds, nice bathroom, carpet and plenty of plugs for the multitude of fans, clocks, etc I travel with.
  • Adult program and meals= $284 x 2 = $568
  • Kid program and meals= $125 x 2 = $250
  • TOTAL = $1076
Ok, that is a hard pill to swallow!  But, that works out to about $180 a day (Sunday dinner through Saturday breakfast)... or $60 per meal... or

$15 per person per meal!?!?!  WAIT ONE GOSH DARN MINUTE!  For $15 per person, I can feed my family GOURMET food without lifting a finger, stay in gorgeous clean cabins, have programming for all interests and ages, get perks like swimming lessons, high ropes course, pony rides, parade with candy, have s'more roasts and dessert buffets, etc FOR NO EXTRA CHARGE?!?

Speaking of meals, camp has come a LONG way from the 5 years I was on staff.  They have a head chef who specializes in delicious foods and fascinating flavors.  I wish I had more pics, but my saliva almost ruined my camera:
Salad bar at every meal and a delicious turkey dinner!

Here was a basic day for us:
Daily Schedule and coloring fun
8:30 breakfast
Kid Bible study music into, parachute games, Adult Bible Study
9:15-11:45 take the kids to their camp counselors for their age group activities and Bible study.  I don't seem to have saved their daily schedule, but they learned A TON of songs, had a simple Bible Study played games, etc.
9:30-11:45 Jake and I head to one of the Adult Bible studies and engage in meaningful dialogue about the state of our world, the climate, our responsibilities, etc.  Jake is not interested in the Bible, yet he loves having discussions with the Director, Pastor Randy because well, we talk about REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF!
11:45-12:15 Swimming lessons
12:30 LUNCH 
1:30 Head to the cabin for rest time.  This is when we often had a babysitter (counselors available FREE OF CHARGE) so that we could do adult things like crafts or the high ropes course (granted, a friend of ours asked to be in the adjoining cabin so that she could be my kids camp Grandma for the week.  Spoiled much?  THANKS LESLIE!)
3:00 pool, explore nature center, fish, craft cabin, pony rides, parachute games, etc
5:15 DINNER 
6:00 Group activity (one night this was a talent show, one night this was minute to win it games, one night was "Christmas in July" activities, one night was SQUARE DANCING, etc)
7:15 Preschool Campfire (only offered on select nights)
8:00 Camp style worship (if we could stay up that late!)
9:00 BED (for the kids)
9:30 PARTY ON OUR PORCH with old and new friends

Hello Joe Ice breaker song, Hazel on climbing net (note: this activity is for 7th grade and older, we brought special gear and made special arrangements.  This is not available for others (ie non-Koskers), Heidi lounging on the creek hike, Hazel at swimming lessons, posing in front of the sign for the first week of camp (this was taken on July 4th), Jake and Hazel at the square dance, the FACE DIP challenge on the creek hike, by the end of the week Heidi was EXHAUSTED :)

Phew, that was one busy day!  Notice how we NEVER got into our car?  It was awesome!  My kids actually smiled for the entire week!  Plus, since it's such a safe place, they could be FREE.  After each meal, Hazel's favorite thing was to leave our table and RUN OUTSIDE where she would play with other kids.  Can you imagine simply letting your children leave your table while on vacation and running free?  Yes, they had boundaries for how far they could go, but I didn't have to worry.... there were always staff and guests near and handfuls of other kids doing the same thing.  It was so awesome for her growing sense of autonomy and self confidence!

Lutherlyn has the uncanny ability of attracting interesting people.  Sit next to anyone and you will find yourself deep in a great conversation.  While the majority of people there are Lutheran, certainly not everyone is and diversity is the spice of life... so the more diverse, the better!  All worships and Bible Studies are optional, I know quite a few people who attend neither and that is ok.
The majority of people who attended all week.  In case you're playing "Where's Waldo Kosker":  We are at the bottom right.

Okay, I can't resist ONE MORE COLLAGE!  I call this one "Favorite moments":
clockwise:  Hazel sang "I'm A Little Tea Cup" for the talent show...she got a standing ovation, super cute kids at a camp worship, one of the "free play" times after dinner (they found our dear friends TyManda and were playing duck duck goose.  RUN Heidi RUUUN!), more parachute games, floating candles during Friday night worship (Amanda and Hazel got to do this together with our "family" cross), Hazel riding Susie- her FAVORITE horse!

So, who is joining us at Lutherlyn's Family Camp next year?