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Saturday, December 29, 2007

I need to learn how to.....

overstrike words in my blog posts. Any of my readers that know how to do this, or can direct me to a spot on the web that explains it.

I posted my scrapbooking goals and would like to refer back to that post and mark things off as they are completed. I also plan to post goals for other areas of my life so it would handy to know how to do.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Scrapbooking Goals for 2008

I ran across this thread on a scrapbook forum and decided that if I wanted to get lots done this next year, that I should write down my goals and put them where I can see them. I realize this is an ambitious list, but I have various categories of goals within the list: one time things, ongoing things, decorating ideas. Some of them are various subgoals that need to be completed to complete larger goals. I will be printing these out as well and posting them in a prominent place. Disclaimer: these aren't in any type of order, just my random thoughts at the keyboard when we got home at 11:00 p.m. last night (plus a few I added this morning).

  1. Complete 1 page per day (so annual goal of 365 pages completed)
  2. Set aside part of each day/each week to work on scrapbooking/projects
  3. Print pictures monthly
  4. Print kids own pictures monthly
  5. Pull out cards and memorabilia to finish baby books and finally complete them
  6. Journal weekly, even if on laptop to be printed
  7. Get backlog of digital pictures printed
  8. Buy flash drive to back up photos
  9. Store back up CDs offsite
  10. Pull out college photos, memorabilia and sort chronologically
  11. Power layout DH's college album (now that I finally bought the album)
  12. Complete several altering projects
  13. Post layouts on blog
  14. Post altered items on blog
  15. Migrate email folder with craft ideas to laptop
  16. Install Memory Manager on laptop
  17. Buy new laptop battery
  18. Paint office to turn into scrapbook studio
  19. Repurpose entertainment center for scrapbook storage
  20. Rearrange/repurpose office furniture
  21. Hang framed photos
  22. Move small bookshelves to girls' bedrooms
  23. Purge large bookshelves so they can hold all books
  24. Finish various vacation albums in process
  25. Work on albums from 1990-1994 when we met
  26. Finish kids albums that are in progress (2000-2006)
  27. Work on family albums from 1999-present
  28. Go to Okoboji Overnight retreat in February
  29. Possibly attend St. Ansgar retreat in April
  30. Host Scrapapalooza here (or nearby)
  31. Do more things with photos/papers - photo cubs, tags, etc. from blog posts I have saved
  32. Buy proofs and negative from wedding photographer
  33. Complete wedding album at a retreat
  34. Take a couple scrapbook classes (locally and online)
  35. Teach a scrapbook class
  36. Read a couple scrapbooking books
  37. Get supplies out of totes and into furniture for storage
  38. Work on and complete house building album
  39. Add to house album as it get redecorated
  40. Get more of DH's photo from when he was growing up
  41. Scrapbook DH growing up
  42. Make album with Christmas photos and cards we receive.

There it is! And it is BIG! But I need a plan if I am going to make it happen!

My challenge to you is to do the same for what you want to do!

National Treasure 2 Book of Secrets


Hubby and I did something we've never done before: went to a movie on opening night. We secured a babysitter yesterday (about 24 hours before we needed her) and went out to eat at Luciano's (italian) Restaurant. This is the same restaurant where hubby and my family and his folks surprised me for my 40th birthday back in April.

The food was wonderful. Hubby had Lasagna and I had Amaretto Chicken Penne with Almonds. It was exquisite: penne pasta, mushrooms, toasted almonds and grilled chicken in an Amaretto cream sauce. I brought home the leftovers and will enjoy them tomorrow. We also had Roasted Stuffed Mushrooms with an herb cheese stuffing.

The movie was full of action, no blood (shown) and lots of snippets of humor. I was happy to see that they kept all the same actors as the first movie, other than the villain (and he wasn't quite as bad a villain as they had in the first). I would highly recommend it. The clues in this one weren't quite as good as the first I thought, but still fun and suspenseful.

Will be taking the kids soon. Hopefully it will come to our smalltown theater soon, as I spent $17.50 for our two tickets. I don't want to do the math to take the three kids, hubby and self. Ouch. I am thankful for the $4.00 admission at our theatre and cheap night on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Scrapbooking Set ups and Rooms

While I don't have nearly as much as many scrapbookers out there, I have plenty of supplies, so storage and organization can be an issue. I went surfing the web tonight to look for ideas to set up a more permanent spot for my supplies, than in the bags that I take to crops. I found this link and it is full of great ideas for storage of specific kinds of tools, supplies, albums, etc. Also if you are lucky enough to be able to devote a corner, closet or even a room to your scrapbooking obsession, there are more ideas than you will be able to shake a stick at, but it is fun to DREAM!

Check it out:


I am hoping to convert our small office which is housing two large bookshelves, two small bookshelves, 2 desks and a 4 drawer filing cabinet into a scrapbooking area. There is quite a bit of wall space and I can convert several of my office organization aids for use with scrapbooking. I actually found some gorgeous paint in the oops area at Walmart that I plan to put on the walls. I will post some pictures when I get it completed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Place to Declutter Toys

I read about a unique way to swap toys on one of the blogs that I frequent. I must preface the rest of this post, with the fact in our house, we celebrate all our three children's birthdays in a span of 5 weeks, with Christmas smack dab in the middle. About November, I start sorting through the toys, etc. trying to purge down a number that we can live with, knowing that there will be more things coming into the house. As they are getting older, there aren't as many toys coming into our home and gifts are more useful, or part of a collection (not toy collection).

At any rate, I have used a similar site for books called Paperback Swap http://www.paperbackswap.com, which recently introduced Swap a DVD and also has Swap a CD.

The two sites that I just found out about are:
Toy Swap www.toyswap.com
Toys to Trade www.toystotrade.com

Of course, a simpler alternative would be to organize a toy swap in your area. No one has to pay shipping and you can check out the condition of the toy before you buy it. I think I might try to do that next year.

In the same vein, our homeschool group organized a clothing swap prior to one of our meetings earlier this year. It was highly successful and what was left was donated to charity. With the price of everything going through the roof these days, it's great to see so many resourceful people come up with ideas like these.

I have heard of people having good luck with Freecycle and Craig's List, but given the rural area we live in, it doesn't work well for us.


Cute Things Kids Say

Tonight as we finished our supper of ham, my son said, " I love ham and turkey and hamburgers and steak!" I responded , "you wouldn't make a very good vegetarian." To which he responded, "I am a meatetarian!" Given that we raise beef, lamb, chicken and turkey to sell, I am glad that he is!

Moments later, I was sitting on DH's lap. My son says, "That is so cute!" My husband asked, "What is cute?" My son replied, "All that love stuff!"

Something I Hadn't Thought Of

I just saw an ad on TV for www.familysecure.com

While I haven't yet checked out the site, it has never occured to me that there is identity theft going on affecting our children. If you think about it, kids are a perfect target. It will be years before they realize that someone has ruined their credit and the theives will have long moved on to someone else.

The commercial had various examples: He doesn't even have his license yet, but he just defaulted on a $10,000 car loan; He's not in school yet, but he has creditors calling him; She has a .331 batting average and $23,000 in credit card debt (9 year old girl).

Evidently, the company monitors your entire families credit and if something comes up on your children, they alert you. If you suffer a loss, they have a $2,000,000 (policy -? I don't remember what they called it.

I am guessing this is on the rise, because with the internet connected to nearly every computer anymore, our kids social security numbers are in hospital databases, school databases, etc and are easier for the theives to find.

Another thing to keep track of.... all this technology is giving me a headache.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Happy National Chocolate Brownie Day - One Day Late

I guess I have been slacking on the job here, but I don't know how I missed this. Anyway, yesterday (December 8th) was National Chocolate Brownie Day. So in honor of that, some time this week, make yourself a batch of your favorite brownies and wash them down with your favorite beverage (or some ice cream!).

A New Look for my Blog....

Whaddya think?

I like the combinations of pink and brown that are so popular in clothing, scrapbooking and decorations. So I decided I would try it on for size. Makes me think of candy for some reason....maybe because I have a big sweet tooth. Looking forward to the assortments of candy that we are usually gifted with. My chance to try out lots of chocolates.

Speaking of chocolate, I ran across this blog and for all you Loopers out there that love chocolate as much as I do, now we have a place where there are CHOCOLATE REVIEWS!!!! It is very descriptive and has pictures too! In the words of Rachel Ray "YUM-OH!"


Digital Cameras Make Some Things Easier

I was just thinking that in many ways, digital cameras make a lot of things much easier. Here is a brief list:

1. Deleting bad pictures instead of paying to print them.
2. Sharing via email (otherwise they would have to be scanned, attached, etc.)
3. Being able to make all kinds of cool things, like photocards, calendars, etc from the comfort of your home, then sending them online to be printed and shipped to your door. (And not having to drag the kids out to do that errand.)
4. Instantly documenting something (ie. car accident - take pictures immediately for the accident report and insurance filings)
5. Sharing something from the event via camera phones with others that can't be there.
6. Printing pictures at home directly from your computer.

I am sure there are many others, but these came to mind for me. I was able to compose and send off for my Christmas cards. I was able to make up photo calendars. If I wanted to, I could have poster prints, mouse pads, mugs, coasters, etc made. You can also upload your photos to online storage and then share with family across the country and around the world. You can share the picture of your newborn within hours of the birth.

I realize that everything doesn't need to be instantaneous, but it is nice to see the results right away, especially if the picture didn't turn out. You can still take another one before you leave the location you took it at.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Remembering Our Troops

My sister just sent me a link to the most moving YouTube video. She had warned me to have a box of Kleenexes handy and boy was she right. Please share this with your circle of influence that people don't forget our loved ones serving abroad.

Here is the link:


This was put together by a 15 year old girl named Lizzie Palmer and it has been getting huge amounts of hits.

It would be nice if my readers would post in the comments and list those they love and others they know that we might be able to remember them specifically in our prayers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mall Shooting in Omaha

As I stopped by the church office on my way to music practice tonight, the church secretary showed me a news story that had popped up on her computer. A 19 year old man wrote a suicide note to his family, tell them he was going out in style. He went to the Westroads Mall, the largest mall in the state of Nebraska and began shooting. There are 8 others dead, plus 4 or 5 who were wounded, beside the shooter, who turned the gun on himself.

We were just in Omaha yesterday. We were across the street at another store, but you can see the mall once you step outside. We have customers that live just a couple blocks from the mall where this happened. What a tragedy! I am saddened for many reasons:

1. That this young man felt that he had nothing to live for, that life wasn't worth continuing. It reminds us that there is a lot of witnessing that we should be doing. That we might share the words of life with those that are hurting.

2. That so many innocent victims were killed or injured. My heart goes out to their loved ones left behind. The advent of our Lord is such a time of joyful anticipation, and each year this memory will be strong in their minds as they look forward to the coming of our Lord.

3. That our culture glorifies violence and sensationalism so much, that a person would feel that this is how he needed to end his life, to become famous for something...a sad commentary on what our culture has come to indeed.

My prayers go out the victims/families and of course the young man's family. They must be feeling a tremendous amount of grief (and even guilt - though they are not guilty of anything, I am sure this tragedy will make them feel guilty with the suffering and loss of life that accompanied it). I pray that God will comfort all those involved in their time of need. I pray for all the healing that will need to come in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

New Coach at Nebraska

In case you weren't following it (and I am guessing many of you weren't), today at 4:00 p.m. there was a press conference announcing the hiring of Bo Pellini as head football coach at Nebraska. He and Turner Gill (former Husker quarterback) were in the running. Either man would make a fine choice. Here's hoping that the team's winning ways will return after a very disappointing season this year!

Go Big Red!!!

Favorite Christmas Memories Meme

Paula tagged me so I have given it some thought and I came up with a few special memories:

One memory that is not attached to a particular year, was the first thing that popped into my head. I grew up on a farm and my dad would always give the animals extra hay and feed on Christmas Eve. Nothing particularly symbolic about it, just that as we were celebrating Jesus' birth, it was my dad's way of sharing the celebration so to speak.

Another memory is something that we do on my side of the family. Every year for quite some time now, we exchange names and set a dollar limit for gifts. Then as soon as we had eaten, Christmas Eve, we would all gather in my grandparent's livingroom and open our presents one at a time. Rather than a free for all, we take turns starting with the youngest first and going all the way to the oldest. Sure it takes longer, but everyone gets to share what a thoughtful or perfect gift it was. It has generally been pretty easy to figure out who is next in age, that was until all my sisters married within a 5 year period. My 3 brother-in-laws and one of my sisters have birthdays pretty close to one another so we always have to stop and figure it out. Of course with all these marriages, there are now more children being added, which is always such a blessing.

Another memory was the night we were sitting in our livingroom and there was a knock at the door. I went to answer it and was surprised to see that Santa was at our door. Our kids were 2-4 years of age I think and boy were they ever surprised. He came in and talked to them and gave them a candy cane while we took some pictures for their scrapbooks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Coaching Change at Nebraska

I wondered when this would come. When Steve Pederson (sp?) took over as Athletic Director at Nebraska and then railroaded out long-time assistant, turned head football coach Frank Solich, I knew something was amiss. Things in Nebraska football, which is almost like a religion in Nebraska (where I grew up), have been spiralling downward as of late. Massive blowouts by teams that were unexpected, materialized.

Steve Pederson was fired earlier this year and former coach Tom Osborne was appointed Interim Athletic Director. According to his press conference this morning, he met with the coaching staff mid-season and laid out benchmarks with them. The coaches knew finishing the season where things stood.

Gotta run, but wanted to give a link to this ESPN article on the subject.

I think there are those in Nebraska and those who follow Cornhusker football, who are probably happy with the outcome (my sisters and BILs included)

Would You Like to Write in Elvish?

Below is a link to an alphabet where you can write your name (and other things) in Elvish. It give a little flair to your everyday signature.

With so many Lord of the Rings fans out there, I thought you might enjoy the link.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Christmas with a Capital C

Here is a YouTube video by the group Go Fish. A reminder to call Christmas, Christmas and not fall into the politically correct "Happy Holidays" trap.

A new rock Christmas song: "It’s Christmas with a capital “C”. Since Christmas "Sales" began the week before Halloween, just a little reminder what it's about!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAckfn8yiAQ If it is not active, please cut and paste it into your browser.

A Quote that says it all......

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991

I think I know quite a few people who can agree with this quote. We have 10 bookshelves in our house, plus several boxes of books that we plan to sell or pass along to someone else via www.half.com or www.paperbackswap.com , etc. There is always a book or 10 in the reading pile on a variety of subjects. I am thankful that our children have inherited our love of books. Now, if I could just find time to finish some of those books I started............

Monday, November 19, 2007

Organic Ag Yields Higher Than Conventional in Recent Study

While promoters of conventional agriculture spread information that Organic Agriculture will not produce enough food to feed the world, a new 9 year study by Kathleen Delate of Iowa State University, dispells the notion that organic production doesn't yield as much.


In fact, the studies findings are similar to those done by other universities.

After all, it is how agriculture survived for thousands of years until the last 50 years or so.

Alternative to Lead-Tainted Imported Toys

It seems that every day I receive a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recall in my inbox listing another 5-10 children's toys, necklaces, etc. A few weeks ago someone on my email list shared a link to 10 American made non-toxic toys. I can't find the link right now, but if someone still has it, feel free to add it in the comments section and I will insert it into the post.

I am pleased to find that there some wonderful alternative toys sources out there with natural/organic materials and non-toxic finishes. If you are looking to support small family cottage style producers of great toys, you might want to shop here:


Here is a link to the article describing their business:


Enjoy your shopping, from the comfort of your own computer and avoid the lines on Black Friday! I do !!!!

More Info about Vaccination Requirements

These are links to a couple of newsletters I receive. They address the threatened fines and jail time for parents in Maryland whose children did not have all their vaccinations.

There are links for both newsletters, but the information may be the same or similar.

Holistic Pediatric Association Newsletter


Family Wellness First Newsletter


People need to start standing up for their rights, instead of being walked over, or pretty soon we won't have any rights left.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Interesting article on vaccination requirements

With so much going on with our nation's health these days (obesity epidemics, hypertension, high cholestrol and diabetes in kids, etc.), informed parents are questioning blanket recommendations for vaccinations. The jury is still out on their safety at least in what I have read.

Many believe the huge amount of vaccinations young children get have ties to the huge increase in autism and autism spectrum disorders (Aspergers, ADD, etc). The incidence of autism is now 1 in 166, which should alarm everyone. The new book by Jenny McCarthy, I believe, speaks to this as well. I heard her interview on Larry King Live a while back. Her book is linked here:


The Crunchy Con blog has a post written today on the subject which is worth reading. Regular columnist Rod Dreher is taking a little vacation and has Erin Manning as his guest columnist/blogger. You can read a little about her from a post earlier today called Welcome Erin Manning at his blog.

Here is the link to her post:


I would love to hear your thoughts on it. It reminds me of the myriad of other public programs/mandates that have very private consequences. Please share your other examples.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Online Wish List

I just found a link to a neat idea. The website is a free online wish list. You can add items to it throughout the year. Think of the applications. You can make note of that item that your mom mentioned she would like. The next time you are giving her a gift, you have already got an idea that you know she'll love. Perhaps your teenage daughter mentioned a CD she would like, but she hadn't bought it yet, or you didn't buy it for her.

My children's birthdays are all within 5 weeks, with Christmas smack dab in the middle of them. So basically I collect ideas all year long and then need them within a month's time. It would be nice to have those ideas available so I could shop throughout the year. It would help the pocketbook too!

The website is www.baggle.com

Friday, October 19, 2007

Political Candidate Game

A friend posted this political candidate match game and I thought you might like to try it. It shows the top 3 candidates and how they match your views on such things as the Iraq war, illegal immigration, health care, taxes, etc.


I can't seem to make the link live, so I guess that is something that I will have to learn how to do. I thought I did it in another post the other day, but I must have missed something.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Did You Hear Glenn Beck tonight?

Glenn Beck was on a roll tonight. He was talking about all the insane things that are going on right now. He said "Our capital is moving to Mexico City and we've got Stalin in a pantsuit running for President!" The more I listen to him, the more I like him.

His website is www.Glennbeck.com

I am not sure if there is a transcript, but I think there will be. At least I read one from September 11, 2007 regarding terrorists casing American schools to learn the disaster preparedness response so that they can kill more people when the parents show up to get their children after an attack on a school. It went on to talk about how they would target the heartland, where no one expects it and feels safe, because the emergency response would take longer. Really scary stuff.

Seems I've been tagged

So I finally get blogging again after a long hiatus, I post fast and furious last night (way too late) and I wake up this morning to find that I have tagged by Cheryl. I guess I am supposed to share 8 things others may not know about me, so here goes.

1. I graduated from a class of 10, way back in 1985.

2. My absolute passion in a hobby is scrapbooking, which there is never enough time for in my book (but I am going for 2 days this weekend).

3. I am an unorganized, organization fanatic (in other words, I want to be uber-organized and try everything, but don't have the persistance to keep following the system).

4. I love to travel.

5. I love to snow-ski in Steamboat Springs, but haven't been back to ski since 1996 (pre-kids).

6. I have never bought a brand new piece of furniture, but I have made a cedar chest and walnut desk (way back in high school shop class).

7. I have never spent $100 on a pair of shoes (or $50 for that matter).

8. We designed our own house and had it built.

Hope this helps you to know me a little better. Not sure who I will tag, or how many people, but I am sure someone will let me know what I am supposed to do.

Rainbow Pictures

Someone sent me over to see the beautiful rainbow pictures at the Pioneer Woman website.
http://thepioneerwoman.com/2007/10/after_the_rain.html I planned to send this one last night, but it got too late. Here it is.

You can just faintly see the second rainbow to the left of the main one. If you go to the peak of the barn, it begins there. Hope you like it. My hubby took this picture earlier this summer. I thought I had included this tidbit, but it got deleted. That should clarify this next comment. I am not the Pioneer Woman, and neither is my husband.

Beef Curry

While it may not be a traditional curry (FIL just gave me a Curries cookbook), for hubby's birthday this past weekend, I got adventurous and made something totally new (hoping everyone would like it). I don't even know what real curries are. I guess that is why he gave me the cookbook.

I cut up several pieces of chuck steak (really it was small pieces of what would have been chuck roast and threw it in the crockpot with with a chopped green pepper and chopped onion, plus a little water and 3 teaspoons of curry powder. I cooked it on high for about 3.5 hours and when I returned from the skincare party my friend hosted that afternoon, I made rice and Ciabbatta rolls that I had in the freezer.

Hubby loved it (yeah - good birthday meal!)! Kids loved it (yeah - that means I can make it again!). I loved it (yeah- means I will make it again....that just doesn't happen if I don't like it, dontcha' know?). I'll even make it when you visit, if you want me to........

BTW, even FIL loved it. He came out to give the kids an entire set of (almost new) Encyclopedia Britannicas that the library was getting rid of. They are now occupying the entire bottom shelf of one of our large bookshelves. Hopefully they will get more use here, than they did at the library.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ice Cream Factory Tour (sort of)

Wells Dairy Tour
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This summer we had an opportunity to take a field trip to the Wells Blue Bunny factory (well kind of). Due to OSHA regulations we didn't get to go the actual factory, but they have a visitor center where they set up a working model of what goes on in the factory, as well as historical items, etc. related the company, which is still family owned since 1913. When I find the statistics about the amount of milk they use and how much ice cream they produce, I will add it to this.

I hope you enjoy my first attempt at putting a slideshow into my blog. If you have any questions about it, I plan to write a post about it later (not tonight, it's already late enough!!!), but I would happy to answer any questions. (Best of all, it is completely free, you just have to put up with a few ads.)

The Rest of the Pets

This is Buzz, meeting our kids for the first time, last year. In his prime, Buzz was a Little Britches Roping Champion. He is now 25 years old and as my son says "He's old and slow...." He is just what we needed to get our riding ability honed before moving on to younger, more spirited horses.

Below on the left is Sharka, our bottle lamb. She follows my oldest daughter everywhere. On the right is Roy, one of our border collies. He is sweet, hard-working and oh-so-lovable. He is always excited to see us. Please forgive the white corner in that picture. The kids took these two and I didn't take time to try and crop it out.

Last but not least, the two border collie pups, Bo and Max, that we got right before the big blizzard in February of this year. Unfortunately, there are no current pictures but they were so darn cute when they were puppies (living in our kitchen with baby gates).

There are tons of barn cats, bottle calves, etc. but no pictures for now. Hope you enjoy looking at our menagerie. Stop by and check them out for yourselves.

Newest Member of the Family

Got your attention, didn't I?

I've got tons of things that I want to blog about, but don't always find or make the time. Anyway, my youngest daughter bought her first horse (with a little help from Dad and Mom) this fall. She is intensely interested in horses and seems to have a natural ability. Here is the proud owner leading it off the stock trailer.

She is a 1 year old Palomino filly. She is a registered Quarter Horse, with a registered name of Gild Decanter. The previous owners named her Blondie, but she has now been named Lightning (might have something to do with our affection for the movie CARS).
Dad and daughter have been working with her whenever they can and next summer she will return to the trainers we bought her from to have her broke. Hopefully, daughter will learn the ropes and be able to produce foals to sell.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! Really!

Many of you probably gave up on coming by my blog to see if I had written anything. Life is incredibly busy around here. It is not that there hasn't been newsworthy (or rather blogworthy) happenings. It's just hard to keep up when life is moving at the speed of light.

I hope you will give me another chance and I promise to post something worth your time. We have a new horse, a new dog, we took a field trip to the Blue Bunny Ice Cream factory, a vacation to Colorado to visit friends, plus a bagillion other things we've been doing this summer.

Since we started school, we've been involved in a science coop (with a total of 30 kids!) that is going great! Will be posting some photos from that when we get our projects finished. I may blog about the entire unit we are doing and then when we finish the other unit, we can show you the rest of our projects, experiments, etc.

Right now, I've got a basil plant that I have had in water since Friday (and I MUST GO MAKE PESTO!!!!). I'll let you know how that turns out, okay?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sisters - A Blessing

I have been blessed with 3 sisters and as time goes on we have grown closer. Closer as sisters, closer as friends, closer as we grow in our new roles as wives and mothers. It has been wonderful to be able to offer parenting advice (when asked), or to be able to take the kids so one of them can have a date with their husband or just some time to go grocery shopping alone.

A few months ago one of my sisters hurt her back and was unable to lift her little ones at all (a 3 year old and a 19 month old). I was thankful that we homeschool and could pack up within a few hours and help take care of the kids so her husband could go back to work and not eat up all his vacation time. In 10 days, another sister is taking my 3 kids so my husband and I can attend a 2 day meeting near my hometown. The kids already brainstormed a huge list of activities and they are looking forward to what I call "Aunt Camp". Maybe this will become an annual event and we can all host each others kids, when they are a little older. There is a 5 year break from my youngest to the next cousin, so that will be a few years yet.

Here are two pictures of the 4 of us from my sisters wedding.

From left: Me (Kristi), Kay, Cheryl and Lori (front)

Bottom photo is just a close up of the top photo.

P.S. I just love the flowers from her wedding.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Finally Some Photos on my Blog

I let the digital pictures really pile up on my cameras digital card (like for 6 months). When I downloaded them, I wasn't able to send them online to be developed because the connections would time out (on their end evidently, because we have broadband), so I finally just took my card into Walmart and got them developed there. There were 376 photos (that was a chunk of developing cost all at once) in all!

When I got home I messed some more with things and got them download onto my ancient (but working wonderfully yet) computer that is getting old (for a computer), so I can back them up to a CD. Now that they are on the computer, it is much easier to access them to post with. So hopefully, in and around other committments this week, I can post some photos of the puppies, our field trips, etc.

Of course if you are a scrapbooker, you already realize that developing 376 photos presents another problem: that even if I was caught up with my scrapbooks (I am not), I would be instantly behind. Oh well, it will help me use up some of my huge stash of scrapbooking supplies (heaven knows that I have plenty!).

Do You Have A Vision Statement, Mission Statement or Goal?

This is a post from my previous blog.

We have been reassessing our goals and priorities again at the beginning of this year and I have been wondering if many others have set down and developed a goal for their personal/family life or for their homeschool.
We wrote a family goal, which included a few personal goals for my husband and I. We try to look at it each year and adjust parts of it to more closely reflect where we are and to address any shifting in priorities, that have come about over time. We took some training a few years ago which has really helped us to clarify our overall goals. Here are a few of the things we learned:

1. If you don’t have a goal, then how do you know if your are achieving that goal?

2. Writing down your goal helps to clarify it in your mind. It also keeps it visible, to remind you.

3. Everyone who is part of the family/group/organization needs to be involved in the development of the goal.

4. If everyone has ownership of the goal, they are more likely to be a part of the effort to achieve the goal.

5. Goals should be reviewed and reassessed regularly. Circumstances may change and the goal that you wrote last year, may not reflect your life/homeschool/etc. this year.

6. When you need to make a decision, walk through some questions to determine if the decision is leading your toward or away from your goal. How can you reach your goal, if your decisions all lead you away from your stated goal?

7. Remember that just because something seems to be leading your toward your goal, it may be leading you away from your overall goal in other areas. Strive to keep balance among all the facets of your overall goal.

8. Try to determine what indicators you may look for to determine if things are not going in the direction you want. Be aware of these indicators and monitor them to see if changes are necessary, so you don’t get off track.

To set your goal, brainstorm what you want your situation/life/homeschool/etc. to look like in the future. Write out the goal in sufficient detail to clarify your thoughts but not so detailed that you get bogged down in writing it. If it is too detailed, you will obsess over how to write the goal. Then determine the steps that you need to take to get to that goal being achieved. Once you have identified these steps, you can start implementing actions to lead to those goals being achieved.

Trying to Simplify My Household (and Still Get School Done!)

This a post that I had on my previous blog.

Is it just me, or does it take a few weeks to find your groove when you start a new school year. Because I took the time to do more planning the week before we started, I felt that we got off to a good start and stayed on schedule the first couple of weeks. We had a few trips (1-2 days) planned over the next couple weeks, plus a playdate with another homeschooling family, so we have had to adapt our schedule to those, but they have worked out fine and we are keeping up with the basics and have a little catching up to do in some of our secondary subjects.

I don't have a good enough (read: rigid) schedule that my laundry is always caught up, that the house is always drop-in clean or that meals are planned well in advance and on the table in a timely manner. I am working on that. But first, I am trying to declutter my house some more so that cleaning it will be easier for myself and the children. Our lives have become increasingly busy in the last two years and I haven't quite adapted to this new level of activity.

This weekend my sister is coming to help with some long-put-off decorating projects that I promised my daughters and we are going to go through several totes of kids clothing that I had kept for her kids. If she doesn't want them then they are going to go to an outreach center that a friend's church has opened. It will be good to get them out of my storage area, as it doesn't appear that I will be having more kids (my youngest is approaching 8 this winter). Next project after that is to sell some of the books that are overtaking our house.

Perhaps when we are staying indoors more this winter, I will have more time to attack these projects with a vengeance. I have the makings of a menu planning system, but have not implemented it. My sister came up with the system and it works pretty well. She did say that she was getting tired of the recipes she originally put into her system and is looking to expand her choices. I have used the card system (SHE's) and Flylady, and I think that my daily routines are the thing I need to get back to using. Hopefully, I can get back into the routine of doing those things.

Our Homeschooling Journey

This is a post from my previous blog that I brought over.

We began homeschooling when our oldest (twins) were 2 years old. My husband had been hearing about homeschooling on Christian talk radio and provided me with information. I knew there was no way I could do that. After much prayer on his part, my heart was softened and I can't imagine not homeschooling and the freedom it affords us in educating our children. Rather than put them in a preschool program, we created one of our own. We added our third child shortly thereafter and continued on with early learning activities until it was time to begin Kindergarten.

We used Rod and Staff Preschool series workbooks with all the children the year prior to starting Kindergarten, which are inexpensive and give a solid and comprehensive skill set. We follow that up with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, combined with the Explode the Code series of workbooks for phonics. After recommendations from nearly everyone we knew who homeschooled, we introduced Saxon Math to our children and have been very happy with the results. We began handwriting instruction with A Reason for Handwriting, but have now switched all 3 children to Handwriting Without Tears.

I am very much the frugal homeschooling mom, so nearly everything we buy for school, I have been able to purchase used.

We follow the Classical Method (ala Well Trained Mind) for our history and science studies, but prefer to have something structured within that method. We use Story of the World as we study the 4 year history cycle and Living Learning Books for elementary science.

Some Old Posts from my Homeschool Blog

I was never very good at posting on a frequent basis with my Homeschool Blogger account. Probably because I wasn't sure that was the place to put most of my thoughts. After meeting several of my online friends (Loopers) in person who were using Blogspot and discussing it, I promptly arrived home and started a new blog here. The posts that follow are the ones I felt that I wanted to preserve so I will be adding them here individually....so if you used to read that blog, this half a dozen posts are old news for you.

The posts will be marked as such in the body of the message.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Photos from my Sisters Wedding

While my sister's wedding was last fall, I wanted to post a few photos that she sent me. If you've ever met me in person, you probably don't recognize me all dressed up with my hair done. That is my beloved husband next to me, with our 3 kids in front of us. The twins are on the outside and the youngest is in the middle.

My mom, sisters and I made all the floral arrangements and bouquets. My sister got 400 roses in various colors plus greenery from Sam's Club a couple of days before the wedding and the day before we spent about 6 hours putting the arrangements and bouquets together. They turned out beautiful. Someone commented that the large urn arrangements would retail for about $500-$600 had we purchased them. I dried my bouquet and am enjoying it at home now.

This is the entire family. Everyone is posed with their family. I am the oldest, the sister on the far right is next in age, then the bride, and my youngest sister is on the right between my mom and the sister closest in age. We are getting to be a quite a large group. In fact, there is another baby on the way as we speak (my sister).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nourishing Our Families

For several years now, our family has been on a journey to eat healthier, to use products that are less harmful to our bodies and our environment. Several months ago I ran across a website, run by a lady that was eating the way we are and it had several helpful tips and ideas.

More recently, she sent out a message that she had set up a forum to discuss these various aspects of nutrition, cooking, health and overall lifestyle. You may have heard of the cookbook called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. The name of the forum is Nourishing Our Families.

The link is http://www.nourishingourfamilies.org/community/

Many of the ideas are from the Weston A. Price Foundation. Hope you find something useful.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Case of the Missing Movie - Found!

Well my plan for the week was to purge the house and in the process find the movie.....My daughter was looking in the entertainment center for a movie and lo and behold, the CARS movie, missing since February turned up..

It seems that it got turned backwards so the spine was black instead of the movie name showing on the spine and it was at the end of the row of DVDs so we couldn't see it. I guess that we would have eventually found it this week, after pulling out all of the movies. I still need to purge the house, one room at a time, but I think tonight we'll pop some popcorn and watch CARS again!

I'm sure there is something else that I don't even know is lost will turn up. Wish me luck. The house needs to be pared down. I just wish I had the motivation to get going. Once I get something done, that will help me keep going. Last time I did this, we had taken 2 weeks off of school at Christmas, but we extended it another week because I was getting so much accomplished, I didn't want to stop.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I've Been Tagged

Glenda tagged me, so I will jump in...haven't been tagged before, so here goes, the seven things I have learned:

1. Bringing home two 8 week old puppies and you aren't prepared for them, takes a lot of paper towels (especially in a blizzard, when they can't be outside)!

2. Papers and junk mail multiply like rabbits if you don't deal with them immediately.

3. There is always room for chocolate.

4. It's perfectly normal to keep a secret stash of chocolate! Just ask most of my friends!

5. Sometimes God brings you a new friend and you feel like you have known her forever and better than your own sisters.

6. Raising kids is a hard job. Pass the chocolate!

7. The older I get, the faster time moves.

Gotta tag somebody! How about Polly, Lora, and Barb? Ready to hear more about you!

Missing Movie Update

I called the lady whose house I thought we left the movie at. She doesn't have it and as I talked more with kids, we realized that we did have it here at the house the next month. So I am back to needing to look high and low in the unexpected places now, since it didn't turn up in the expected places. Bummer! I'll let you know if and when we find it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Case of the Missing Movie

If you have read my previous posts, you know that we like the CARS movie a lot. It is just cute! Every time we watch it we catch something else. We bought it and watched it a number of times prior to Christmas. We had Tom's parents over to watch it one night and then watched it again the day of the twins' birthday in January with my parents. They had been wanting to see it and what better to do on a cold January day? Four days later, my husband was to speak in Des Moines at a conference and all of our babysitting plans were falling through. Tom's mom suggested we ask her cousin who lived about 15 miles away (and on our way to the conference).

We thought she might enjoy the movie and so we took it along for she and the kids to watch. Several weeks later, my sister came to visit and her three year old son asked to watch the CARS movie and I couldn't find it anywhere. I thought perhaps it was in the vehicle. We travel a lot and the kids watch movies on the portable DVD players that Tom's folks got them for long car trips. Nope, not there either.

I have been wracking my brain as to where it might be. Tonight after we got the kids to bed, my youngest came out and said " I think I know where the cars movie is!" Then it dawned on me, that she is probably right. I will be calling her tomorrow and seeing if the lost is found. I'll give you an update. I really hated to buy another copy when I knew it had to be around somewhere. Keep your fingers crossed, okay?

Summer School

Anyone planning some summer school?

We will be doing a few things. Some are things that we didn't get finished up with this school year, some that we didn't get to and some that we would have liked to add in but didn't have time.

Since switching math curriculums at the beginning of last year from Saxon to Math U See, I feel the need to move a little further forward before this fall comes around. I backed up a little to make sure the kids understood how this curriculum was taught before heading into the higher levels. Two of the kids will be working to be close to starting the next level this fall. Shouldn't be too much of a problem, as long as we continue to work on it a little this summer.

We want to finish up Story of the World 2 this summer, so we can jump into Story of the World 3 this fall. I am excited to start SOTW 3 with all the explorers and frontiersmen/women. We live in an area where we can visit (literally) tons of Lewis and Clark sites and Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. We have already amassed quite a collection of Lewis and Clark books and related information as well as supplemental materials for the Little House books. We plan to loosely follow the Prairie Primer, which I recently purchased. One of my daughters is going to begin sewing this summer, so she plans to make frontier dresses, etc for she and her sister.

We plan to finish up the school year this coming Friday (May 25), and then take a break for 2 weeks. My husband and I will attend our state's two day homeschool conference and the kids will spend the weekend with their grandparents in Nebraska (a treat for them, as well as us - a weekend away alone). We always enjoy meeting other homeschooling parents and listening to inspiring speakers. We always come away renewed and ready to begin another year of homeschooling.

Our summer school session looks to be long on fun and short on formal lessons. I need a break of sorts during the summer to be ready to start into the school year. We may try to start school a little earlier and work in some week long breaks a few times. Last year, we started a week later than I had planned due to my grandmother's funeral and then worked straight through to Christmas. The plan was a 2 week Christmas break, but it turned into 3 weeks, as I went about decluttering the house (necessary after a December birthday, Christmas and 2 January birthdays in the span of 5 weeks). I hope to declutter again on our two week break. It seems to help me get things in balance (at least mentally).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day at my House

Hope all you Moms out there enjoyed your Mother's Day! I awoke to shouts of Happy Mothers Day from my three kids and 3 varieties of candy bars! They know how much I love chocolate. I got a York Peppermint Patty, a Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate bar and a Hershey's Cookies and Cream bar. I will be enjoying those this week. My son made me a card in Sunday school and my daughter gave me one before church. They'll be going into the scrapbook. My other daughter made me 16 coupons for hugs, kisses, love and help around the house. How neat is that?

My dear husband spoiled me and got me two pair of Rockies black jeans from the local western store and a dressy western shirt. After church today, my folks came out from Nebraska and we enjoyed dinner and later, after we looked around the farm, enjoyed spice cake and vanilla ice cream. None of my 3 sisters could come out today, but 2 of the 3 called to wish Mom a happy Mother's Day and I found out that the other sister called them at home, so it was nice for my folks to get to talk to all of us today.

My folks hadn't been to visit since January, so we spent time playing with the puppies, the bottle lambs, the rest of the sheep, the cattle and the horses (and don't forget the llamas... yes they are supposed to guard the sheep...we'll see how that works out). My mom brought along the local newspapers from back home and I got to read about all the tornado damage that happened last weekend near them and my sister who lives about 25 miles away. The pictures were incredible!

Picnic food, cake and ice cream, and 3 chocolate bars just for me! Does it get much better?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Favorite Movies

We aren't big into movies, but do enjoy action adventure movies mostly. Here are our favorites off the top of my head:

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
2. Chronicles of Narnia
3. Hunt for Red October
4. National Treasure
5. Diehard series
6. Steven Seagall movies
7. The Fugitive (and most Harrison Ford movies)
8. Midway
9. CARS of course
10. The Notebook

Would love to hear your favorites. Who knows, maybe someone will suggest a movie that we love. We are so far behind in watching new movies, we need some good suggestions, okay?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Gluten Free Recipes Blog

It seems as though I am meeting more and more people who have gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. Either that, or it is just being talked about more than it used to be. We try to buy as much organic food as we can, so much of our food (that we don't raise ourselves), comes from our buying club or natural food stores. There are significantly more gluten free products than when we changed our diet about 7 years ago.

I was surfing some blogs tonight and came across this one that has lots of great looking recipes that aren't too out there, with ingredients that I couldn't find.


The two bloggers are sister-in-laws and evidently both the brother and sister have Celiac disease, so the two are posting recipes that they use. Even though it may not be a need for you, perhaps you know someone who could benefit. And if nothing else, the recipes look scrumptious to me. I think we'll be trying some of these out soon.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Check Out the Safety of Your Personal Care Products


You can go to this website address and search through the products in the database. They are rated as low, moderate, or high concern. Since we use many organic and natural products I was curious to see if they were as good as I thought they were supposed to be. Most were pretty good, although some were higher than I thought they would be.

Go around your house and check out your shampoos, toothpastes, makeups, etc at this site. I learned a lot.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Protect Your Freedom By Speaking Out


April 30, 2007 is the deadline for comment on the FDA's proposed rule that would regulate herbs, vitamins, supplements, homeopathy and other alternative therapies. Basically it would include anything that can be used to treat illness.

Many, many people utilize these alternatives to avoid the sometimes nasty side effects of FDA-approved drugs by pharmaceutical companies. There have been a number of drugs taken off the market after it was determined that they caused terrible side effects, even death in some cases.

Please read the linked article and make your comments known. Please read the entire article. We really should be alarmed.

We still live in a society with free speech. Please let your voice be heard!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Rare Day....

Today was one of those rare days where I didn't have to go anywhere. Where I could just stay home. I didn't have to be on someone else's time schedule. That felt really good. It seems that these days everyone is so busy and being pushed by the clock, that it feels good to ignore it once in a while.

Tomorrow is another day and I've already got a list of things to do at specific times, meeting with people, being somewhere for a regularly scheduled meeting. These unscheduled days don't come by too often, but I must remember to savor each moment when I have them. I bet if we looked back 30 years, we weren't so busy from the moment we get up till the moment we go to bed. How life has changed and how quickly.

Do yourself a favor from time to time and try to enjoy an unscheduled day. You might find it a welcome respite from the sometimes frantic world we live in.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Enter to Win these Organic Earth Day Contests

The Organic Earth Day contests are listed at: http://organicearthday.org/go/ContestAndGiveaways

There are several contests to enter:
1. A trip for two to a wellness spa in Austin, TX
2. A free toy (stuffed animal)
3. Organic products

Contest rules are posted at the link above. Who wouldn't want to win a spa weekend for you and your spouse. Good luck!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Drowning in Paper!!

Is it just me, or does the paper just multiply anymore? I am drowning. There are several categories of paper of course:

Sale Flyers
Credit Card Offers
Junk Mail
Phone messages that need to be returned
Magazine subscriptions
Kids Artwork
Honey-Do lists ---LOL!
Letters that need responses
Papers to be filed for future reference (taxes, medical, etc)

While I realize that you can stop some of them from coming to your house, most can't. I have tried (and failed at) many different methods of corralling all this paper. I've tried the tickler file, the portable file box, the inbox-outbox, the file drawer, the filing cabinet.

I can't say that any of them have really worked. What I have come to realize is that no system is going to work, if you 1) don't make the time to process the paper and 2) stay on top of it...and there is my downfall. When you are so busy just trying to keep up with the dailyness of life, paperwork is not high on the list of priorities.....cooking, cleaning, schooling and running a business are.

Of course it wouldn't hurt to have the hubby and kids helping out either! But I digress! My plan is to really cut down on the stuff coming into our house and this summer, clear out the backlog of files. Then I need to schedule a block of time every week to deal with it all so it doesn't get out of hand again.

If you have any great ideas, I'm all ears!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Brownie Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

1 (19.8 or 21.5 oz.) pkg. fudge brownie mix (9 in. pan)
3 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle sweetened condensed milk
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 9 inch springform pan. Prepare brownie mix as package directs for chewy brownies. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes or until set. Meanwhile, in large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed milk. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in chips. Pour into prepared pan. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Bake 50 minutes or until center is set. Cool. Chill thoroughly. Remove side of springform pan. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours

I'm Jumping In Too!

I've been blogging for a little while now, but haven't been very consistent at it. Part of the reason, is that I didn't think it was very easy to do much, but add text to my blog. I could never seem to make it look like I wanted. After reading many friends blogs here and hearing that it was relatively easy, I decided to change over. I will probably bring those posts over at some time.

My other blog was primarily about homeschooling, but included my interests of scrapbooking as well. I hope to blog about a larger variety of topics. In case you can't tell from the title of my blog, I LOVE CHOCOLATE!!!! Pretty much any shape or form! I am an avowed coffee-hater, but my friends even convinced me to try a chocolate covered coffee bean this morning and it wasn't bad at all! So you will see posts on a number of topics here: scrapbooking, chocolate, homeschooling, an organic lifestyle, running your own business, family, pets, books I've read, living in the country, things I believe in, decorating, organization, cute kids and the things they say, my pet peeves and A Day in the Life......

How's that for a bit of everything? Please come back often and if I am not posting, don't hesitate to remind me, it's time to post something new!