Happiest Place on Earth

So for months I had been planning our surprise Spring Break trip. All the kids knew was we were going to Florida. We do it often so they didn’t question things. When Ryan and I discussed this trip I wanted it to be THE BIG ONE. I wanted to do everything and anything we could and make it a magical time. We surprised the kids the night before with their magic bands. They were shocked. It was perfect!

We flew out, arrived and acclimated. We started our first day off with Breakfast with Mickey and the rest, well you’ll see. For the record we’ve drunk the kool-aid. We loved Disney. I knew we’d like it, I knew we’d have fun. But we LOVED it. EVERY SINGLE BIT. We cried when we left. We didn’t want to leave. We want to go back. So much for our one trip, eh? The kids were thrilled. The week was every bit of what I had hoped, dreamed, planned and schemed. It was perfect. The weather was perfect. It was exactly what we needed.

After four days at Disney we headed over to Universal. It was fun, but we were losing steam and it wasn’t Disney. Harry Potter’s Hogwarts and Diagon Alley were awesome and well worth it. There were some fun rides and shows in the other areas, but we’d go early each day, finish up by lunch and then lounge by the pool to enjoy the last few days of our vacation. It was actually a perfect way to end our trip. I could go on and on, but here are some pictures to share our experience.

Here’s some of my absolute favs:

Drew makes THE BEST rollercoster faces!

Another gem!

Yes, she’d do pageants if I’d let her.

Meeting Elsa and Anna we awesome – it’s amazing how these gals perfectly play the princesses, down to the way they stand.

Wish we had met the real Phineas and Ferb, these guys will have to do.

Harry Potter at Universal is just as amazing as you would imagine. It’s like walking not the set of the movie. Just incredible!

They even laughed together – only Disney can do this magic.

One of my absolute favorites of the three of them – it’s not a perfect photograph by quality standards, but I couldn’t love those smiles more.

The Gringott’s dragon was awesome – when he breathed fire, you felt it all through Diagon Alley.

Until we meet again, Mickey!


Betsy King - April 28, 2015 - 8:32 pm

I LOVED watching your posts and have been waiting for this blog post! I’m SOOOOO glad you guys went! Yes, yes, yes, it’s so great! Disney is just MAGIC! Did you cry when you saw Elsa? Or the BB Boutique? (Ok, I might just need to adjust my meds…) I got teary eyed when we did the Pirate’s League. It’s just so damn magical!!!!

Much love to you guys!!!

Next up….a DISNEY CRUISE. I’m not shitting you, your family is freaking PERFECT for one of those things!!! And it’s just as magical…. 😉

Betsy King - April 28, 2015 - 8:33 pm

PS So you are saying there were no meltdowns? I’m in awe of you! I always have a meltdown at least once at Disney, embarrassingly. ugh. I’m the most immature person in our family, I think.

Erni Slater - May 10, 2015 - 5:02 pm

You all look wonderful – the trip was a great idea. We haven’t been to Disney World in soon long, I’m jealous! Thanks for sharing the pics; glad you all had such a wonderful time.

A plague amongst us…

I realize it’s been a significant amount of time and this blog has all but died. So much going on, so much to say. Apparently it only takes a virus to to take down our whole house for us to slow down. and think. and realize. There has been much that has happened, another anniversary of mom’s passing, Penny turned 8, Jon turned 13. There has been much snow, cold and ice. We are counting the days until spring. If for nothing else to consistently keep the windows open so we can flood our home with fresh air.

There is that phrase it takes a village to raise a child. There are days where I feel alone, I think in some ways we all do. The only one wrestling with certain issues, problems or thoughts. In those moments I often retreat into my mind and think what life would be like if we picked up, moved to some smallish town far, far away. The idea of starting over can be refreshing, if not overwhelming. Eventually I’m brought back to the present and realize I am not alone. I am not an island. That I love where I live.

Last week it began with a cough and a fever, which spread to other coughs and fevers and ultimately into me being the sickest I have ever been. I really can’t remember a time I was this sick, this long. This house did it’s best to function. Ryan gave it a really good go, until he toppled. We are slowly, ever so slowly recovering. What this undesirable time has showed me though is that I have an amazing village. Sunday a mystery dinner showed up, another friend picked up groceries. Friends have been carting my children to and fro to their extra curricular activities. More meals, dessert, magazines, treats and messages. It has made our time to heal so much easier. I am so utterly blessed. Our family is so utterly blessed. For my children to see the kindness and love coming from those around us, well it is an education on God’s love first and foremost. It’s the kind of love I want to live for each of my friends every. single. day.

Now that I am slowly on the mend and my mind can think of something other than the sheer uncomfortable nature of my situation, I have allowed myself to wander to the coming months. The spring, the summer, the time with my family when we can all talk without coughing. I look forward to our surprise spring break planned, I look forward to unearthing my garden and planting too many vegetables, I look forward to my hammock, fishing with the kids and camping. Mostly I look forward, because I’m tired of looking back.

I have all sorts of catch up posts to do – odes to both my birthday babies. Especially Jon, since he’s made the transition to teenager without much fanfare. They know they are loved, regardless of whether there is a blog post or not.

So in closing, thank you to those who have made this week easier. I love you, you are the very best villagers a girl could ask for!


Marina - March 19, 2015 - 2:58 pm

Spring is coming sister, hold on tight, it is coming. And so many rooting for you and your village. (hug).

Jennifer Dronet - March 23, 2015 - 10:28 pm

So sorry to hear you have all been sick! I gave up Facebook for Lent and miss seeing what’s going on with your family! Hope everyone is on the mend and will be enjoying your spring break!!! Much love from Kokomo!!!


Our church is beginning a series called Better. Much like this part of the year, a new sermon series is always hopeful, so much to learn and prayerfully hearing God’s voice along the way. Today’s sermon was about letting go of good to grab a hold of the better. We work so hard on achieving the good life that we sometimes lose focus on what could quiet possible be better. Better than what we can imagine. Now I will say that I often find myself doodling and losing myself in church, many because no one is saying, “Mom” over and over for my attention. Today I felt fully present and I felt an overwhelming urge to write the following words, which I felt were fitting after my fresh start post yesterday.

Better is simplicity – seeking simplicity and attempting to uncomplicate your life to truly feel the peace of the Lord. Simplicity allows for God’s voice to ring clearly in our hearts.me

Wishing you warmth on this cold, snowy night and for something better for all of us!


Jennifer - January 5, 2015 - 4:51 pm

So glad to “catch up” with your family virtually! You are such a creative and busy soul! Much love to you and the Pages! :)

Welcoming 2015

2015 came in quiet and easy. We have a tendency to prefer quiet nights in for our New Year’s celebration. We go out to dinner, come home, make a fire, play games and watch the ball drop, toasting what’s to come. This year wasn’t much different.

It’s been a restful break, no traveling, but I will admit our weeks have flown by with having Christmas and New Year’s right in the middle of both weeks. It doesn’t look like we’ll have that third week of cancelled school, like we did last year, much to my family’s chagrin. The season can’t decide what it wants to do, Mother Nature is a fickle, fickle gal.

We’ve of course made goals for our upcoming year, getting back to eating healthier, spending more quality time together when the time allows, focusing on being more organized and efficient with our time so that happens more often than not.

Part of the new year is a new look, name and domain for the blog. For seven years I’ve been writing and doing art as Penny Pickles. It’s been a wonderful run. What started as a emotional release while caring for my mother, ended up being a very fun journey with lots of opportunities to spread my creative wings and create some wonderful relationships. It isn’t to say that I won’t pick up a brush again, but for the first time in seven years I turned down work this Christmas just because I needed a break. School, work, family, business – it’s taken all of me and while it pained me to say I couldn’t, I knew better than to say yes.

So I am finding my way and trying to get my creativity out in other ways like minimizing and simplifying our lives and our home. We’d love to one day have our own property and as many of you know I have a secret obsession with owning chickens and goats, something I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. I love our current Page Ranch, but what I wouldn’t give to have an actual Ranch where I could care for my critters and allow them to give back to me for that care in the form of sustenance. One day perhaps.

I thought it fitting as we are embarking on so many new chapters in our family’s life to have a fresh start, something different. Penny Pickles will no longer be the domain for my blog, but it will get redirected to this site, Page Ranch. I’m keeping Penny Pickles, because you never know what the future may bring. So we begin 2015 with a new semester at school for both the kids and I (work and graduate studies), new exciting projects for Page Construction and a new blog to document it all as I can.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year with much optimism and hope.


Janna Lynas - January 4, 2015 - 9:22 am

Loved reading this – such a great family! We’ll dream of chickens and goats together sister:) One day…

All is not lost

So it’s been a while, eh? I guess it goes without saying that when you are working full time, have a self employed husband, three busy kids and you are going back to school, blogging sits on the back burner. Fortunately all of my kids are zombie watching YouTube at the moment, Ryan is at a client meeting and I’ve finished all my work for the semester so I’m celebrating by writing a post. It might be April before I get back at it, so enjoy this, k?

Let’s see. School is going well, for everyone. I love my kiddos in the class I work, I love coming to work each day and working with my teacher, Becky. I love the team of gals that I work with – they are the most fun and the very best. They make me smile everyday, even if it’s just an mischievious grin from down the hall. Jon, Drew and Penny are all doing wonderful this year and their teachers I talked about in my last post are fantastic. I am definitely celebrating this year of excellent teachers and high motivation for school because I know that it is all so fleeting. I’m grateful for this bone being thrown at us!

Ryan is insanely busy on some really awesome projects. I am so proud of him, juggling it all, taking on another employee and continuing the flow of word-of-mouth work, which to me speaks volumes about the quality of work and service he offers.

Yes, this is my brother and Ryan. Yes, they have matching shirts. Yes, I made them take this picture.

I am finishing up my semester, it’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. There are days when I wonder if it’s worth it to keep at it. It’s just not easy to be going back to school even if it’s online and only two classes. It can be challenging to find the time to read, do research and write when you have children that need your help reading, doing research and writing. I’m happy to say though that I am finishing this semester strong and have done really well. I’ve gotten compliments from fellow students and my professors which makes it all worth it and keeps me motivated to keep going. I’m excited about the prospect of having my own class one day, whenever that day comes.

We are busying ourselves for the upcoming holiday season. I’ve gotten everything nearly done, just a few odds and ends. I am looking forward to winter break with nothing, but days in my pajamas and hanging out with the family.

Speaking of family, my dad is moving from Northwest Indiana to here! He’s got a great little condo in Fishers and by years end he’ll be a permanent Hamilton County resident. I could not be more thrilled. I look forward to having him so close and getting a chance to spend more time with him when he isn’t splitting his time in Vegas.

Last, but not least is a small update on Miss. Her host family became her full time guardians in September, we readopted her in October and now we wait for a period of time so her new family can adopt her from us. (Not sure what I’m talking about – at the end of this post go to the category, Adoption and click on it, it will take you to all of our Adoption posts.) This should take place sometime late this summer. She is doing well, enjoying school, growing and healing and best of all thriving. Praise the Lord for this good news. While it still seems so surreal, this time last year we were learning to be a new family of 6, the challenges, the struggles, the unknown. I am grateful for the experience, but I am so very grateful for how very different things are for Miss this year. Our emotions ebb and flow with sadness, wonder, joy.

Not to be someone who wishes time away, but I can say that I am looking forward to 2015 and all that it has to offer! Thanks for all the love, support, friendship and laughs each and everyone of you has provided both me and my family over this year. I can not name you all, but I can tell you, each of those moments have made all the difference in making our darkest days light again.

Of course I’ll close with a ton of pictures as a recap of the last three months since we last talked – enjoy.

Yes, she not only tolerates it, she purrs. Seriously crazy patient cat, I hear Hollywood calling…

The girls

Family photos: Mary not so thrilled.

Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie

Halloween [Link, Start Lord and Elsa]

Drewski turned 10!

Thanksgiving, just a quiet day at home.

Many blessings and always thanks!


It's me, Betsy - December 1, 2014 - 8:36 pm

WOW! You guys are doing amazing!!! I mean, seriously, after all you went through and you guys are grabbing life by the balls. (Wish I could say that more eloquently, but seriously, you are!) I just realized your nieces name is Mary. How precious!!!

Erni Slater - December 19, 2014 - 6:13 am

It is so great to see a post from you. I couldn’t be more happier for you, the family and Miss. You all went through so much and it is great everything has all turned out in such a positive way. How wonderful that your dad is going to be living so close!! What great fun and great visits that are ahead for both sides. Love that everyone is doing so well and want more of the same for all of you in 2015. Love to you all.