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.

Where in the world did summer go?

It is August 16th, this summer was a blur, partially for the roller coaster of emotions we rode, partially because it just went freaking fast. There is so much to cover and truthfully I could drag this out to about 4 or 5 posts, but my days aren’t getting any shorter or less busy so this will be a mega post. K? K!

This summer we celebrated my 20th High School reunion. Ryan and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary and Ryan celebrated his 39th birthday- 

Penny visited an actual hair salon, instead of my bathroom countertop – 

We had a fun time finally getting back to our old neighbor and dear friends, Mike and Gail’s Epic Fourth of July Party – 

I had a Girls Night In, complete with taking several of my friends TPing for the first time. Nothing like a bunch of 4o somethings out at 3 am toliet papering and leaving notes for your friends to find. That will be the last time you miss a party at my house, thank you very much (you know who you are…) I will close with saying we also text the next morning asking if they needed help cleaning up – we’re not total social deviants.

Next, we got kittens. Our beloved Aliza passed in April and after 15 years it just felt wrong to not have a cat in the house. So our local Humane Society was having “Are You Kitten Me?” event and it just seemed perfect. We decided that we couldn’t live with out these little farts:

Meet Rosie (Grey) and Charlotte (Black and White). They weren’t from the same litter, but they are thick as thieves and equally as naughty. I had forgotten how fun kittens are and Charlotte is the most patient cat in the world. She will let you do ANYTHING to her, thus the American Girl bathing suit below. Rosie has an affinity for the dogs and she’s bound and determined to use them as her bed. The dogs are cool with the newest additions, but they’re not so sure about the whole bed deal. Both cats have wowed us with their mad ladder climbing skills and their ability find trouble where ever they go.


Next up is Back to School – this will cover a variety of new things going on at the Page Ranch. This year Jon is in 7th grade with a great team of teachers. So great he has said how much he likes all of his teachers. This is HUGE people. 7th graders generally like nothing so I am enjoying this marvelous little victory. Drew is in 4th grade and has the marvelous Mr. VonIns, who Jon had in the same grade. He’s just about the best teacher and it’s a blessing to have such a calm, patient, fun fella be your son’s teacher right when he’s about to embark on a period of time that I like to call (pre-jerk-ager). Not quite a moody teen, not quite a little kid, it’s an ugly period of time. That being said in school it’s going to be a great year for Drewski. Penny is in 2nd grade and is in Mrs. Harger’s class. Mrs. Harger is an incredible teacher, been there, done that and seen it all – Penny will also be working on advanced math this year and plays school for fun, so needless to say I don’t worry one bit about her success in Lu’s class. Drew was a member of a few clubs Mrs. Harger lead when he was in second grade and she makes challenge and fun so easy and seamless. I can not tell you how I thank God every.single.night. for the blessings of such amazing teachers in my children’s lives.

Two days before school started I was hired as a Kindergarten Instructional Assistant. I work with an incredible gal, named Becky. She’s new to the school, but a seasoned veteran. I liked her immediately and we can laugh together. When you have 25 5-6 year olds at your charge, you need to laugh. It is exhausting, but I love it and we have some incredible kiddos that make me smile each and every day. Plus I get a ton of hugs, which I love because let’s be honest you just never get enough hugs as an adult. Working in this classroom is also an awesome opportunity for me not only because I get to work with amazing kids each day, but because I get to learn so much from my teacher, Mrs. Clark. This is all so important to me because (insert drum roll here) I’m going back to school to get my Masters in Education. Yep, this old girl is back in college. I’m pursuing my degree, online, through Ball State and if all goes well will be finished in May of 2016. Just in time for Jon to enter High School, Drew to enter Middle School and for me to finally find a real, live job. I’ve thought about it for a while, but it never seemed like a good time. I’ve realized that life will never present a “good” time to do much of anything. So this was as good as any. If you would have told me when I attended school the first time that I’d go into teaching I would have told you to shut up or I’ll punch your face. The reality is that I find myself in school, working with kids and loving every minute of it. I feel whole and happy and complete when I’m there. It fills places in me that I didn’t know I had holes. So starting Monday, I start my first two classes. Oy -

Last, but not least Football and Soccer have begun – Jon is playing for the 7th grade team, which is thrilling because he’s finally a MILLER! I can not tell you how that gives me goosebumps. Drewski is in fourth grade tackle for the NEFL and Penny is playing soccer as a U8 Miller. It keeps us busy and honest, that is for sure!

There will certainly be more to follow as mom gets her act together.

In the mean time I’m finishing up two paintings, finishing Drew’s room make over, trying to tend to our garden, designing a few t-shirts since my friend Kim and I have a joint venture on a heat press and I am getting us purged, organized and ready for our busy fall! Thanks for all of the kind comments, letters, cards and hugs we’ve received since my last post. We are well, everyone is well and for that I am grateful. Stay tuned, I’ll try to post before finals!

I had to throw this picture in, it’s me and our dear friends Gail and Mike’s newest, Alex. He’s a doll and I’m a baby hoarder, so it was a match made in heaven. I’m grateful for my baby fix. Congrats sweet friends, he’s perfect!


Jen Barney - August 18, 2014 - 8:54 pm

OH ANNIE! I am so very excited about your new adventure in education! I often tell people that teaching is who I am; not what I do! If you ever need any help, please let me know!