Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ornaments, memories, and letting go

I've mentioned it before - I. AM. A. CONTROL. FREAK!!!

So, letting the kids decorate the tree has been a HUGE challenge for me over the years.

When our older three children were young, I'd let them 'help' me decorate the tree.  Code for:  "Here, let's hang THIS ornament HERE on the tree."  As I guided their little hands to place the ornaments where I thought they should go.  Minimizing breakage and clumping on the tree.

As the years passed, I began to let go.  When the three littles arrived on the scene, the older kids met much more freedom when it came to putting up all those pretty little trinkets.

Still, I sat in the background giving running commentary on 'the blank and/or crowded spots' on the tree.

Then, secretly, after all the kids had left the room or gone to bed, I'd rearrange the ornaments in a much more aesthetically pleasing manner.  No clumps.  No multiple ornaments on one branch.  No bare spots.  Nice, evenly spaced decorations all around the tree.  Placing the 'less than attractive' gems in the back facing the wall.

Not. exactly. letting. go.

Finally, several years ago, I decided the kids could have 'full reign' with putting up of the ornaments.  I put up the lights, strung my bead garland, hung the ribbon, and 'WALKED AWAY'.

The only thing I allowed myself to do was take pictures.

I admit, I still often moved ornaments the littles put up - only because they'd hang 12 items on one branch.  Go figure.

Last year, I began to release even that.  I think I moved items only if they were really weighing down the branch.
That would be 5 on one branch!

Yep, 3 ornaments in one general spot.

This year?  Every ornament stayed RIGHT. WHERE. THEY. PUT. THEM!! (Unless the dog or cat knocked them off, then..... well.... they were fair game to be 'relocated'.  I surely couldn't be held responsible for memorizing where EVERY ornament was on that tree, right?)

It was so much fun decorating the tree with the kiddos (and Techno) this year.

Another 6 rather large ornaments clumped in one general area.
Proof that I LEFT them 'clumped'.
I even left the 'not so pretty' ones in full view.  After all, each and every one
holds a story.  In this clump alone - a computer the kids picked for daddy, a dog
Jacob decorated when he was tiny, a squirrel Techno's grandma made, a bell
from Techno's aunt, a ball Trinity made just recently, and elk antlers to
commemorate some of our adventures here in Wyoming thus far.

Christmas music was playing on the CD player.  All the girls dressed up in their 'old' Christmas dresses.  Everyone wore a santa hat.  The smell of fresh baked cookies wafted through the air.  Memory making bursted at the seams.

I was glad I had 'let go' a bit more.

Then..... the questions.  "Who's is this ornament?  Where did it come from?  What does it mean?  Why is it a train, a horse, a princess?  Who made it?"  On and on it went.

Memories were not only made, but recalled; shared:  From Techno's childhood as the kids asked about ornaments his grandmother made him each year when he was a child.  Still others that my grandmother made through the years.  A bulk that Grandmom and Grandad had given the kids each year as Christmas gifts.  Hand crocheted ones my mom made for Techno and I when we were first married - some that were favors for our wedding reception.  Others that we had given the kids year after year that signified stages they went through or vacations we took.

It's always a touching time.

This year even more so.

This was our first official year in our mountain home ON CHRISTMAS.  Techno had many memories of his mom who passed away over 3 years ago now.  She always loved this time of year.  She always loved the Wyoming mountains.  We got to enjoy both - together.  For the first time - in the home she loved so dearly.

Memories - somewhat sad, but at the same time joyful.

It's also the first time we're so far away from my parents.  It's hard.  We miss them.  Yet, we can share our family events here, on facebook, over the phone.

Memories - joyful, but sorrowful to not be able to share in person.

It's also the last year before Jacob heads off to college.  Potentially the last year he helps us decorate the tree.  Tears were shed.  Hugs were given.  "I'll miss you", was spoken.  OFTEN!

Memories - precious, I'll cherish forever in my heart.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Snow Squalls

Who knew you could have a 'white out' when it wasn't even snowing?

My guess?  Most Wyomians.

Being a transplant resident, I was not privvy to such information.

Yet, recently, that is EXACTLY what we experienced.

Driving to Cheyenne and Fort Collins for a day of furniture shopping and doctor's visits, I found myself on I80 with zero visibility as the winds swirled the existing snow on the mountains up, down, and all around.

We literally could. not. see!

I was fortunate to have landed a spot behind a semi-truck.  Those tail lights were about all my vision could decipher. They were my guiding lights as I traversed the perilous snow squall.

I say perilous - others may scoff at such a term given the situation.  The roads were dry so driving wasn't treacherous, but to me - an Ohioan until just under a year ago - THIS. WAS. UNBELIEVABLE!

The event was made more traumatic as I was actually the one DRIVING!  Techno usually drives ALL the time... EVERYWHERE we go.  I can count on one hand the number of times in over 19+ years of marriage when I have been the primary driver when he's on board.

A bleed in his right eye resulted in temporary (prayerfully) loss of vision so I had taken on the driving task until his vision improved.  (which is happening little by little, daily.)

On doctor's orders, Techno is trying to relax to keep his blood pressure down.  Ummmm... driving with me..... in a snow squall.....  not exactly part of the prescription.

White knuckled I grasped the steering wheel tightly.  After all, holding on tight will make driving MUCH better, easier.

Once out of the squall, I finally relaxed.

But..... we had to do it all over again coming home.  Sigh.

This time we took a different route that didn't have QUITE the snow squalls.

 Non-stop wind gusts of over 60+ miles per hour were common both ways.

Driving in the dark to return to our mountain abode; amidst bursts of snow clouds that would impede vision for stretches of road; wind gusts that would push the Tacoma off course; all made for a slow trip simply because...... I'M. A. WIMP...... when it comes to driving in bad weather.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Handling stress

While in Ohio this past November we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family.  

Since we stayed at my parents home, I was 'in charge' of much of the cooking and preparing for the Thanksgiving festivities.  I was happy to help and honestly it wasn't very taxing.......  For me.

Mom and I were doing the ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and deserts while the rest of the family brought the remainder of the side dishes.  

Despite me doing much of the culinary work, the dinner was still 'mom's gig' as it were.  It was intriguing to watch how the ownership of such an event amplified the stress for her.

What an eye opener.

As we began the process of getting the turkey and ham ready to cook on Wed night - making sure they were thawed enough; getting the ham in the crockpot; removing the giblits and neck from Tom Turkey - I witnessed the difference in 'owning' the event and just 'being in charge' of getting stuff ready.  

The ham and turkey were sitting there, wrapped, in the sink.  I eyeballed the ham; glanced at the crockpot mom had set out; then made this statement, "I'm not thinking the ham is going to fit inside that crockpot, Mom."

That's when I noticed the stress level rise.  NOT for me - the one responsible for getting the ham INTO the pot in question, but for my mother - the one who owned said ham and crockpot. 

It was at that moment I saw myself and how I often react to similar situations in my own home -- when I OWN the situation.

She got frazzled.  

I, on the other hand.  Grabbed the ham, plopped it on the cutting board and began cuttin' it down to size.  We had an extra crockpot, why not use BOTH.  Easy solution.

Mom was still stressed. Fretting over the fact she had requested a smaller ham in the first place.  Worrying it wasn't going to turn out right.

As Thanksgiving day progressed, I observed similar situations.  Nothing seriously went wrong, but it was a stressful day for my mom.  I, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber.

'Why?', I wondered on more than one occasion.  Why was SHE stressing when I was doing the work? More curious to me was why was I not not stressing since I was the one doing the work?

The epiphany was ------ 'OWNERSHIP'.  

Even though I was cooking, prepping, getting stuff ready.  It. Wasn't.  My.  Party!  

It was MOM'S.

She felt responsible. She felt obligated.  It had to be 'just so' because...... it was hers.  Her husband.  Her kids.  Her grandkids.  Her home.  Her dinner.


(See where I get my control freakness?)  LOL!

I realized I (and I'd guess many of of us) do. the. very. same. thing.

If the scenario were flipped.  We're now at MY house.  She's helping me and doing much of the work.  Something goes wrong when she's cooking; she'd simply roll with the punches (I've seen her do it before when she stayed with us when our older kids were infants); I on the other hand would stress, get frazzled, FREAK OUT!

My goal, now that I have this ownership knowledge and what it can do to me?  

In essence? 


Acknowledge that I don't HAVE to get stressed, frazzled, grumpy when things go wonky. 

Just go with it.  


Make adjustments.


Have I succeeded since returning home from Thanksgiving?

Let's just say knowing the problem is half the battle and leave it at that.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dodging Tumbleweeds

As we drove home from Ohio, passing through Nebraska, the winds starting whipping.

We're used to wind - we live in Wyoming.  Not to mention we drove through the tornadoes that hit Illinois on our way TOO Ohio.

What was comical about these winds?  The...   TUMBLEWEEDS!

Those not familiar with tumbleweeds - they are plants that grow out west that eventually dry up and simply begin blowing around when the winds pick up. Their roots are so shallow they just pull right up.

Once they are 'blowing around', they become a hazard to vehicles that might encounter them.

Semi trucks have been brought to their knees by the likes of a tumble weed.

They are THAT prickly.

I was shocked the first time I picked one up ---- OUCH!

So..... there we were..... driving down I-80 when the winds starting blowing the tumbleweeds about. First a couple along the side of the road.  Next a few drifted across the highway.  Finally, multiple plants were wafting across and down the road heading directly at us.

It felt like a video game as Techno maneuvered lane to lane to avoid coming in contact with these potentially crippling little vegetations.

(Yes, he was VERY aware of our surroundings and other vehicles on the road.  Remember - we were heading west where there's a WHOLE LOT LESS PEOPLE!!!)  :-)

A couple times there was nothing we could do. Those pesky little brambles of branches would zig when we zagged and....... swoooooosh, right under the SUV they'd go.

Thankfully, no damage was done.  None were quite big enough to cause any trouble.

However........ the event sure made for lots of laughter and jocularity as we drove along...... living out our very own live action video game of Tumbleweed Dodging.

Memories of the weirder kind.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Play dates, coffee, museums oh my

As we planned our visit to Cincinnati, we had requests to get together via play dates, visiting co-op, meetings for coffee, grabbing a quick breakfast, sleep overs for Bethany, hanging out at friends houses for big kids, a visit to the Creation Museum, pizza and wings with friends, and dinners with Dad.

It was so wonderful to see old friends and spend quality time with Techno's dad.

Despite trying to keep a relaxing pace - our schedule filled up before we even announced we were coming to town.

We felt so loved.

It was wonderful to see so many people and humbling to think so many WANTED to see us.  Reminding us how much we miss the people we grew to know and love despite loving where we are now.

It saddened us to realize we wouldn't be able to see EVERYONE during our short stay in Cincinnati.

There. Just. Wasn't. Enough. Time.

People often ask us if we miss Cincinnati.  My almost immediate response is 'no'.  We don't miss the 'place' very much, but we DO so miss the people.

Granted, we now miss the people in Wyoming when we are away from there as well.  Guess that's part of making a home wherever you are planted.

Next we headed to Ashtabula - the place of my birth - to visit family and friends there.

Upon arrival we were greeted by my parents who always 'stay up late' waiting to give us hugs.

Saturday brought the whole family - both brothers, their significant others, all my nieces, their spouses and children - to my parents' home.  Let's just say....... a house full!!!  27 family members smooshed into my mom and dad's living room to celebrate Christmas together.  Yep, a little backwards, seeing as how we'd yet to celebrate Thanksgiving, but.... 'ya do whatcha gotta do' once you live 1000's of miles away.

On Sunday I slipped away for a late lunch with old school friends.  Many from my elementary days, some from Jr High and High School.  It's amazing how social media has made such 'mini' reunions possible and even easy.


It used to be you only managed such gatherings on reunion years - 5, 10, 20, and coming up on 25.  Now???  Anytime several people are available, let the fun begin.

The rest of the week leading up to Thanksgiving was low key.  Wonderful time spent with my mom and dad. The kids did their school, we did some thrift store shopping, and we had plenty of meals with Mammaw and Pappaw.

Thanksgiving Day brought most of the family back together for one more gathering.

Friday was a 'special day' for the big kids - with Pappaw. The littles and and I went with Mammaw to ...... wait for it..... McDonald's.  With a playland.  Their choice.  Ha.

Finally we packed up and headed homeward to the wild west.  We missed our new home while we were gone, but loved the opportunity to see loved ones who are now so far away.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We. Are. Homeless!

Well, that's not entirely true. We are just technically no longer homeowners.

WHOOOHOOO!  YEEEHAWWWW!  (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

It may have taken 10 months, but the day finally arrived.

We sold our house.

In case you haven't figured it out, the closing went off 'without a hitch'.

I wondered how I'd feel to NOT own that home anymore.

In a word?


We loved that house.  It was great for a season of our lives. But... this past 10 months.... it caused stress. The memories we created while living there are just that.... memories.... that we carry in our hearts and minds.  We no longer NEEDED the house.  We had moved into a new phase - a new home - a new season - that didn't include THAT house.

So.... as the closing took place without our presence, I had no sad feelings.  No nostalgic thoughts and daydreams.  It. just. happened.

Now, we're here.  We're in Cincinnati.  Just minutes from our 'old' house.

On Friday, we're going over to 'meet' the new owners and drop off keys and some instruction manuals that go WITH that house, but managed to get packed and moved to Wyoming with us.

I wonder what THAT will be like?  Will knocking on the door, seeing someone else ANSWER the door, viewing someone else's belongings in what was once 'our' house, cause a different emotion?  A more sad reaction?

Or..... will we simply rejoice - yet again - that the house now belongs to someone else?  Someone who will love it as we did, for this season of THEIR lives.

Even if we do get a bit 'emotional'; if tears threaten; if memories come flooding back; I know one thing.....  I'm THRILLED to be 'house free' - homeless, if you will, at this point in time.

We'll miss the 'old neighborhood':  the caring neighbors, the 4th of July parade and picnics, the fall bonfires in the driveway, and the outdoor movie nights.  But, we're thrilled the new owners will now have an opportunity to connect with those very same folks; build similar and new 'traditions' in that community.

We're also looking forward to all the new adventures we'll have in our new rustic neighborhood.  Horses, deer, moose, maybe some goats and chickens.  It sure will look different, but the memories will once again be created.  Bonds will be made.

Home is where we are---- as a family ---- together!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

House Closing

I haven't posted much about our house sale lately.

I guess it's just been 'moving along' so I've not thought of it. Well, that's not true.  I've thought about the house and it's sale OFTEN - daily really - but there's not been much 'new' to write about.

This Fri - the 15th of Nov - we will close on our house in Cincinnati.  At 4 PM, our realtor, the buyers, and their realtor, will meet in an office;  paperwork will be filed; the house will be sold.  Our signatures will be all that's representative of our presence. 

Guess that's something new to write about!!!

{Of course it's all contingent upon some documents that are SUPPOSED to be appearing in my e-mail to print, sign, and be notarized.  Yet, said mythical documents have yet to materialize.  Sigh!}

It's been a L-O-N-G journey.

We had our belongings moved and put into storage on Dec. 10, 2012.  At that time we moved into Techno's dad's house for the remainder of the month prior to moving out west.

We spent a week with my folks in Ashtabula to celebrate Christmas, then... we packed up the remainder of our possessions and 'headed west'.

Once we removed the last our our belongings, a painter came through and 'neutralized' the entire house -- top to bottom. Beige.  It no longer looked anything like the home we had developed over the years.

The red chalkboard paint kitchen with the black and red breakfast nook -- gone.  The tan chalkboard paint and magnet school room wall - departed. The teal-ish and brown basement playroom - nothing but a memory.  The boys black chalkboard wall and 'library' shelves - removed.  The girls pretty purple chalkboard wall and fairy wall hangings - erased.  The 'Sitting Ducks' and clouds painted on the bathroom wall - nonexistent.

It's a shell of what it once was -- at least in terms of OUR memories.

All in an attempt to 'sell quickly'.

Guess that didn't happen.  LOL!

The house was finally on the market by mid to end of Jan 2013.

{Here it is Nov. 2013 and we are FINALLY closing.} 


Admittedly, I never thought it would take THAT long to sell.  I expected a few months, but 10?  Not so much.  After all, we LOVED that house.  Why would't everyone else that walked through it?  I was convinced that once families gazed upon that wonderful great room in the back, stepped out on the expansive deck, not to mention the grandiose size of the house...... they'd....... be ....... S-O-L-D!

What I didn't take into account?  Most people ALSO noticed the outdatedness of the house.  Those things we just 'overlooked' b/c they weren't all that important to us.  With new houses sprouting up ALL OVER THE PLACE, who wanted a house with dark wood paneling in one room, a blue tiled/tubbed/toileted bathroom, as well as a yellow tiled and tubbed bathroom?  Not to mention an antiquated intercom system installed in several of the rooms.  Plus, people found the 'bigness' of the house a turnoff.  Guess we're among a minority with such a LARGE family.  Sigh!

But, God had a plan.  All along we'd been praying not only for the house to sell, but for the house to sell to the RIGHT family.

That's exactly what happened.  God had a specific family in mind and it just took a while for them to a) know the house was for sale, b) see the house, and c) sell their house.  They weren't even REALLY looking to buy a house when they came through.

YET..... they also LOVED the space -- just as we had.  Plus, God nudged them to purchase our home. He made it clear to them that this was HIS plan.  They.  Were.  Moving.

Therefore, here we are.  TEN MONTHS later.  Closing on our house.  The family GOD intended to live there moving in this Friday.  All because God called us to 'mosey' on along to the wild west.

Our 'old' house.  It was a great  home!  So happy for the new owners.  Pray they love it as much as we did.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Teaching by Example

How often do we teach by example?

100% of the time - whether we realize it or not; whether we admit it or not; whether we LIKE it or not.

Granted not ALL that teaching is what we'd WANT our kids to learn, but yet, they still learn and tend to mimic our actions and words.

Recently, I was struck by how often we encourage our children to 'take responsibility' for their actions.  A good and noble trait.  Yet..... I also noticed just how often, as adults, we do the exact opposite.

Not maliciously, not purposefully, but..... we do it all the time.... we. make. excuses.

When the veggies get a little 'over crispy' while preparing dinner, instead of taking responsibility and owning up to the fact I wasn't watching carefully enough, I make an excuse.  "Well, the oven cooks hotter than I'm used to.  I was so busy getting this or that done, I didn't get back to it on time."  The list could go on.

When doing a task, we get angry because no one offered to help, yet we never really asked.  Rather than accepting the fact we should have asked, we get irritated that no one volunteered.  I know I tend to be bad at this with Techno.  I assume he'll notice the messes in the same way I do and WANT to act and do something because he knows it'll be helpful to me.  In reality, he needs ME to ASK.

When we trip over a pillow, toy, shoe, or some other odd/end left in the floor we lash out because of the object being left there.  Granted, all should 'pick up' after themselves, but..... we too should be watching where we walk.  Instead of acknowledging we weren't paying attention, we yell at the individual who's item 'tripped' us.

All EXCUSES; NONE taking responsibility.  Hmmmm......

Wow - I guess those 'simple' things are spreading the wrong message.  It's NOT ok to make excuses for my own mishaps and mistakes.  It's also NOT ok for me to expect our kids to be better at this than I am.

Training in this area for myself and our children may be in order.  However, even more important would probably be my doling out of forgiveness when our children learn from my example and DON'T take responsibility for their actions.

I know I need that forgiveness too.

Glad each second we can start anew.  Thankful our God is a forgiving and longsuffering God.  'Cause I sure don't get it right all the time.  Prayerful that I'll learn by example and mimic how God reacts to me - with forgiveness, love, patience - and show the same to those in my life.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pantry Reveal

It's been a while since I last posted on my blog.  What can I say - life. is. B-U-S-Y!!!

Homeschooling 6 kids; house projects; the warm weather/cold weather clothing swap; gift making for the Holidays; clubs starting up; church; appointments --- time slipped away.

All good things and I'm blessed by each and every item on my 'to-do' list, but.... it does make writing more difficult.

This will be short(er than some), but wanted to share our Pantry Reveal.

It took A LOT longer than I could have ever expected, but....... it's finally D-O-N-E!!!!!

Happy Happy Happy Dance.

As you might recall it all started after we quickly finished off my craft/sewing nook.  I decided the pantry might as well get a make-over too.

It started out simple enough.  Remove everything from the space, hang shelves, put everything back.  That.  Was.  The.  Plan.  A weekend event - tops.

Well.... if you know me.... you know I rarely manage to keep things too simple. Especially when it comes to cleaning/organizing a space.  ;-)

Once emptied - as I mentioned before - I had to clean it --- REALLY SCRUB IT, top to bottom.  Then... I mused.... might as well paint it.

THAT is where the trouble began.  I don't dislike painting. I LOVE the results.  But..... TRIM?  Well, Id rather NOT mess with it. So..... my project lingered on and on and on and on.

Finally I mustered up the energy and cracked out the trim.

Then..... hanging the shelves.  Simple, easy, no problem.  Right?

Techno found the studs, measured, leveled, and put up the strips. We eyeballed spacing and began hanging the brackets for the shelves.

Dum, da da da da, dummmmm......  This is where things fell apart - again.

The brackets in two of the strips wouldn't stay. We'd put them in, secure them, put a shelf on and as we were putting the next shelf up, the one above would crash down onto our heads.  Ouch!  

After various alterations and attempts, we were off to the hardware store for more strips.  Took 2 hardware stores and and a less than helpful salesperson, but we got what we needed.

Techno took down the original strips, hung the new ones and slipped in the brackets.  Hmmmmm.... still wanted to slip out.  A little fenangilling and a mallet and all was good.

Now that the shelves were secure, I began re-shelving all our food and pantry items.  (After a day of procrastinating by folding all the summer clothes for storage.)

Baskets were put on a small wire shelving unit, tin buckets were hung on the wall and ...... VOILA!!!!

The. pantry. is. finished!  Can't you just hear the the sounds of rejoicing in the background?
The red chalkboard 'message' wall.
Painted and shelves installed. PHEW!

Only about a month after we started the whole shebang.  LOL!

The black trim was what tripped me up so much.

All three walls now house shelving to hold all our pantry items.

All the food in it's place.
My 'chalkboard' wall that's now
my 'bucket' wall.

Techno's favorite aspect?  We can now welcome people to our home through our FRONT door.  No longer do we have to rush to the front and motion for them to 'go around'. Plus, WE can use the front door.  YEAH!
Our front door with a 'clear' path to come in/out!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Harvest Farm Fun

Our first 'official' field trip in Wyoming was initially cancelled due to icy roads closing the highway that would take us to the Harvest Farm.

An impromptu visit to the Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming was our substitute -- although not an equivalent one in the minds of the children.  (Mine either, really.)

Excitement filled the air when we discovered the field trip to the farm was rescheduled!!!

Fri morning we packed a lunch, grabbed our directions, loaded into the car, and away we went.
The corn was short so I guess it became a minnie maze.

The corn maze was our first adventure.

We're heading in.

From above - finding their way.

Next we took a few 'fun pics'.

The giant rocking chair.

Even the mom's got in on the fun.

Then the kids jumped on/off hay bales.

Decisions, decisions.  Do we jump or not?
Definitely better than jumping.
Maybe sliding down is better.

Wait for me!!!!

Up, up..... and.....


Petting the goats and feeding them leaves and grass were high on the favorites list.

Awww... he's so cute!

Petting a goat is so much fun - whether they
want to be pet or not. 

These guys were happy to be pet.

The rabbit town was a big hit, although all the kids REALLY wanted to pet and hold those furry little critters. {Not to mention bring one home!}

Look how cute!  And the little houses?

Such a fun idea.  I want a bunny town.  Wait, did I just say that?  Shhhh..... don't tell the kids.
The petting zoo filled with goats and calves brought tons of smiles.

I'm pretty sure he wanted to eat her map.

Who knew a calfs fur was so soft.

I'm sensing a theme in which children like
the critters most.

Popcorn and pigs.....

Feeding pigs popcorn, going on a barrel train ride, catapulting corn, and smashing pumpkins were also a huge hit with all involved.

....apparently quite the combination.

A barrel train ride - what fun!

Ready, aim, FIRE!

Ladies first!  She did a smashing job.

Look at that determination. That pumpkin didn't stand a chance.
Playing on the playground, in the 'corn'box, 'roping' pretend cattle, climbing the rock wall were all fun activities to burn off some energy.

Who wouldn't be thrilled finding a daddy-
long-leg spider?  Ummm.. Me!
Spiral slides.
Little, but mighty!

Not so challenging for the
big kids.

Getting ready to rope.

Buddies.... stick together.
Doesn't he look like a natural cowboy?
All he's missin' is his hat.

Nice form.... just needs a horse.

Finally, to end our fun-filled day, a hayless hayride allowed us to see the expanse of the farm and all it's workings. The kids thought that was 'pretty cool'.  One little girl on our ride asked if she could be hired so she could live there.  Lots of laughter ensued.

The transfer of the wooly caterpillar for our hayride.  Maybe Trinity is going to be our entomologist?
Spiders, caterpillars -- that's where the excitement lies -- who cares about cows, pigs, goats, and chickens?
A fabulous time was had by all.

Trinity decided we need to get goats "NOW!" {guess they are still pretty exciting - just not as easily accessible as creepy crawly critters}; Selah was convinced she would just 'stay and feed the goats' while the rest of our party enjoyed the hayride {Yeah, NO!}; Charity would be happy to take any and all of the farm animals home.
She'd happily sit with these cute little kids all. day. long.
One day soon little ones, one day soon!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kitchen Chaos....

With the completion of many house projects, I had the grand idea of hanging shelves in our pantry to replace the large, deep shelving unit we currently have housed there.

This really was a LOGICAL decision.

The current unit is very deep resulting in items getting 'lost' or forgotten; disheveled placement of dried goods; boxes and bags just 'tossed in' rather than 'neatly placed'; ie: IT'S A MESS!!!

My goal:  hang shelves on the 3 main walls allowing for just as much, if not more, shelf space - just less depth to each shelf.  {Techno is certain I'm losing space, but with the current set up being the disaster it's been, I'm ok with that.  Neatness and organization trump space size.}

Having just completed the craft nook reveal, I decided this pantry re-org would be a snap.

I attacked the task with gusto.

EVERYTHING came out of the space.

This, as you could imagine, resulted in the kitchen table, chairs, floor surrounding the table to overflow with boxes and bags of food.

That was ok. It would be temporary.  Just a couple of days.

Once emptied, I decided it REALLY needed to be thoroughly cleaned. Vacuumed. Walls scrubbed.  Windows washed.

Check.  Check. And check.

It looked nice.

But..... I knew I eventually wanted to PAINT this room.  What better time to paint then when it's freshly washed and EMPTY!

Grand plan.

Found the paint, brushes, containers for paint and voila - I was on my way.

The walls were finished in no time.  One evening and one morning - D-O-N-E!!!

What I neglected to factor in, however, was the time it would take to complete the TRIM!  The dreadful trim.

It's now been almost two weeks and the trim has the first coat of paint.  I'm procrastinating putting on the second coat.  I kinda forgot just how much I despise painting trim.  It didn't help that I chose to paint the trim BLACK so every little mistake SCREAMS at me.

The worst part?

That old adage that the kitchen is the center of the home?  That if the kitchen is clean, the rest of the house will follow suit?  Well...... IT'S...... ALL....... TRUE!  Especially if you reverse it -- if the kitchen is a mess, the remaining rooms will be a disaster too.

The whole house is falling apart.  The kids have begun leaving their desks a mess after school. The living room is strewn about with papers, shoes, even boxes of food that have meandered into that room from the kitchen.  Vacuuming?  I think the kids have forgotten what that word means.  Dusting?  What's that?

I guess since mom was preoccupied with painting and the kitchen was a wreck, the family decided there was no reason cleaning the rest of the house.  Might as well let it match the chaos in the kitchen.

At least we're consistent.  LOL!

The difficult part for me?  The constant mess causes me physical stress.

To counter that, I keep reminding myself..... this is for a time.  It'll all be worth it when the pantry is complete.

Rome wasn't built in a day - neither will my pantry be painted in a day.  :-/

Thursday, October 24, 2013

College Visit

Yesterday we took Jacob for his second college tour.  It sorta felt like the first 'official' one as he has now actually applied to colleges.  Plus it's the first school we've visited that we had no prior knowledge or experience.

He's actually taken classes at Miami University (Hamilton branch) and we visited the University of Wyoming 2 summers ago.

This was different.  New.   REAL!    He's A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y going to be going away to college next year.  He COULD go to THIS school.  Needless to say, it caused a bit of a lump in my throat more than once.  {However, I didn't cry AND I completely forgot to take any pictures. Doh!  Jacob is probably thankful - less embarrassing than having your mom pose you all over the place! :-)}

We drove the 3 hours to Golden, Colorado to visit the Colorado School of Mines.  Three hours away isn't TOO bad.  :-)

At first I was unimpressed with the campus.  "Very industrial looking," I stated, as we climbed out of the truck in this half-under construction parking lot.

I can't deny the views were still beautiful as we looked out away from campus at the mountains, but... my first impressions were less than grand.

We then headed toward the student center where we were to start our tour.

Things improved dramatically as we walked to the center of campus away from the parking areas.

The tour was well organized; our guide very knowledgable and personable; the campus pleasing; the presentation following - thorough.

Jacob was sold.

An engineering school!

EVERYONE there would have similar interests, be at a similar academic level.  They'd all be hunkered down to study because ALL the classes would be rigorous.

He was invigorated.

Then we met one-on-one with the recruiter.

Looking at his scores, "Wow, impressive!  Great GPA, wonderful ACT scores.  You should be getting your acceptance letter in December."  That was encouraging.

"What type of scholarships are available?",  we questioned.

"Oh with these scores and your grades," she gestured to Jacob, "you'll be eligible for the $12,000 scholarship that will allow you to have in-state tuition costs."

Wow, an 'automatic' $12,000 scholarship. That's awesome.

So.     We.      Thought!

Once accepted, an out-of-state student is welcome to attend the Colorado School of Mines for the mere price tag of.............. $47,000!!!!  


Granted, this does include room/board, tuition, fees, etc....... but.... still........

Even with a $12,000 scholarship, we're still looking at over $30,000 a year to attend.  OUCH!

Disappointment can't even begin to describe how I'm sure Jacob felt.

He even entertained the notion of going into debt because of the quality job he'd be 'highly likely' to obtain upon graduation.

Brainstorming about all the 'external scholarships' he could apply for filled his thoughts.

On the way back home, he checked his e-mail.  His acceptance letter to the University of Wyoming was waiting in his in-box.  He'll be contacted regarding scholarships as early as Dec or as late as Feb.


The <very high> potential of a full-ride at UW vs. major debt at the Colorado School of Mines - which offers very limited scholarship opportunities - especially to freshman.

A little research shows other universities in our area also have good engineering programs.

The recruiter at CSM indicated other colleges/universities have 'deeper pockets' and would most likely offer great incentives to a student of Jacob's caliber.

I guess this is.........   JUST.   THE.   BEGINNING!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

God's Amazing Timing

As many who've read my blog know, we moved to Wyoming in Dec of 2012 and put our house in Ohio on the market in Jan 2013.

We knew the timing was 'rough'.  Most houses DON'T sell the best in the dead of winter.

However, we also felt God had 'paved the path' for us to move to Wyoming in that specific timeframe.

Much prayer, thought, discussion, counsel, shock, tears, laughter, planning, packing, and sweat went into our decision to move when we did.

So.... month after month, I'd find myself waffling between doubting our decision and trusting God that we'd done what he had called us to do.

At one point, just as I hit rock bottom in my weariness in thinking our house would NEVER sell, we got on offer and accepted it.  The only problem was it was contingent on the buyers house selling.

Still.... I was G-R-E-A-L-T-Y encouraged. God knew I needed a little lift, a little sign, to renew my 'active' faith; my trust; my leaning on Him.

Then....... More months of waiting..... Waiting.... Waiting.

It took some time for the buyers to get their house ready to sell.

Then it took some more time for their house to be 'visible' and get some showings.

Finally, just a few weeks ago, we got the message.  They.  Had.  An.  Offer.   An offer they'd consider.  "In the ballpark", the e-mail read.

It's here I have to admit, once again, God came through despite my fickle faith.  It had wavered time and time again.  He knew in my heart I trusted he'd sell our house, but he also knew how fretful I could become as bills came in, checks went out and still..... our house in Ohio..... sat..... empty.  Us still paying the full mortgage and utilities.  All the while 'living life' here;  paying for new propane tanks; the septic system to be flushed; the office to be transformed.

I had begun praying, feeling God would answer, before we knew our buyers house had sold.  I prayed the house would sell and be finalized before or during our trip to Ohio in Nov. I prayed we could be 'done with it' so as not to have to go back to the house on our next visit - at least not as owners of that home;  to not feel the sting of the 'should of's/could of's' as we walked through the still empty house;  to not have to continue paying the neighbor boys to mow; to not have to continue paying to run electricity to a house not in use; to be able to close the book on that chapter of our lives in that house.

After getting the e-mail that the buyers 'might' take the offer.  I THANKED God. I PRAISED God.  I MARVELED at his grace.

Then.... another message. They ACCEPTED the offer.  Their buyers would like to aim for a closing on or before Nov. 15.


Amazing. God in action, yet again.

Our travel dates we have tentatively set???  We would leave Wyoming on the 16th of Nov. (following Jacob's college tour of UW), arriving in Ohio on the 17th..... late.

Who else could arrange such timing?  Yep, only GOD!!

This journey is not yet over. We have just completed the inspection. Work needs to be done.  Fortunately the buyers house inspection went marvelously.  Closing needs to be finalized on both houses.  Yet, I'm confident in God's power.  In His grace and mercy.

How couldn't I be?  He's shown himself every. step. of. the. way!!

He holds us in His hand.  He's had a plan all along. We prayed the right family would be brought to our home in Ohio. We have no doubt this is what God wanted to happen.

Closing a chapter. - bittersweet.   This house was such a blessing for a certain season of our lives.
One day, it'll be amazing to see WHY. WHY it took so long. WHY other potential buyers fell through, dropped out.  WHY we had to go through 10 months of paying a mortgage on a house we weren't living in.

But, I'm reminded of Job -- who am I to ask WHY of my God?  He.  Knows.  Best!!!

His best is so much better than anything I could ever imagine.  His timeframe is always right.  Never late, never early.  Just Perfect!

God brought us TO this house in 2006 and he moved us AWAY from this house in 2012!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Button Memories

Unpacking all my sewing and craft supplies, I came across a basket of sewing accessories that belonged to one of Doug's grandmas.  When we moved here, we inherited some items Mom and Dad had left. Some of that was crocheting, knitting, and sewing supplies.  I had packed them away to be dealt with once my craft nook was prepared.

As I sorted and organized the various trinkets, I found a basket of buttons.


Oh the memories that came flooding back.

Initially I considered just 'tossing' the whole basket, but as I sifted through the multitude of shapes housed in that round wicker container, the memories changed my mind.

I recalled how I used to play with my mom's jar of buttons.  Sorting, sifting, organizing; pretending they were jewels; picking out my favorites; just dumping them out and putting them back.

Buttons. were. fun!!!

Such fond memories.

Over the years, that jar of buttons disappeared.  I stopped playing with those little round treasures.

Yet...... the memories remained.

{Maybe that explains my fascination with buttons at the fabric and craft stores.  I LOVE those bags of buttons they sell.  I'm so tempted to buy them each and every time I see them.}

As I rummaged through the button basket, discarding broken pieces, shreds of thread, and other unwanted items, I found myself reminiscing about my mom's 'button jar'.  At that moment, I made the decision to start my own such jar.

While placing the multi-faceted little prizes in what will now be my jar o' buttons, adding to them the buttons I have of my moms, I thought of all the fun my kids, most likely the littles, will have sorting, counting, matching, dumping, and filling these gems.

Maybe Bethany and I will use them in sewing projects.  Maybe Trinity, Charity, and Selah will choose some for eyes on their sock monkeys.  Maybe they'll be used in costumes we make.  Maybe the girls will pretend they're money or jewels from a lost treasure.  Maybe they'll just like doling them out - making sure each has their fair share.  Maybe some of those buttons will be the very ones I played with as a youngster.

Whatever it is...... I hope their memories of the 'button jar' will be as wonderful as mine.

Thanks, Mom, for letting me play with YOUR button jar those many, many years ago.

Who wouldn't think these are 'treasures'?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Craft Room Nook


Shelves are up; boxes and bags filled with craft and sewing supplies are lugged in; 'matching' bins are purchased.

Let the craft/sewing nook organization begin!

When we first moved to Wyoming, I knew 'where' my craft nook would reside. Unfortunately, it had to be put on hold as that space was also the perfect local for Doug's 'office' until the shed remodel was accomplished.

So.... for months, my sewing and craft supplies just sat dormant in boxes in the garage; waiting to be unpacked, re-shelved, and put to use.

In preparation for moving, I had to downsize -- DRAMATICALLY -- the quantity of my craft and sewing inventory.  I knew I couldn't fit it ALL in our new domicile.

I thought I had done a decent job.

However, upon viewing the number of boxes we brought in compared to the space I had to store it, my heart sank.

Was I going to need to do ANOTHER big purge?  How do I decide?  I only kept the stuff 'I'm most likely to use'.  

Here's what I had to unpack and organize, in the space I had to utilize for my nook.  I was certain it would NEVER fit.

All the boxes/bins/bags of sewing/craft supplies I needed to organize and fit in this small 'nook' - plus a small closet.
As I unpacked, I tossed obvious 'trash'.  That made me wonder "Why did I pack it if it's now trash?"  Ha.  Most of what I was tossing was packaging - boxes, bags - that held the various craft supplies which were now finding new homes in cute matching storage containers.

To my GREAT amazement.......... IT. ALL.  FIT!!!!!  With room to spare.  Crazy right?

The overall 'view' of the craft/sewing nook!
Amazing --- ALL that stuff fit here.  (and in the closet on the other side of this space)
I can't wait to get crafty.

Fabric and sewing projects
 under the table.
The 'craft side' of the table.
Nice and open for various projects.

The girls can't wait to make sock monkeys.  LOL!  Last years Christmas gift.  Hmmmmm......

Sewing machine storage and scissors.
The 'sewing side' of the table.

I  just printed off labels for the various bins (instead of 'popcorn' they will tell what's ACTUALLY in each of them); I plan to put some fun 'decorative' wording on the walls, soon; eventually we'll paint the walls which may require some painting of the bins as well to be sure the 'reds' match.  But..... that's another project, for another day!

One half of the closet - filled.
The other half.  Half full.
Love my  new ribbon storage system.

For now...... this is my sewing and craft space.  I could't be happier.  Once I get the school closet/toy closet organized.......... it'll be 'craft time'.

Which is good.  Just in time for making costumes, sock monkeys, turning T-shirts into dresses, and making Christmas gifts.