Sunday, March 31, 2013

You Made My Day

As a Christian, I've learned that having moral values that line up with Scripture - viewing things as having an absolute right or wrong - often results in others considering you to be hateful.  The ironic twist to this is my personal strong convictions are because I'm trying to love others as Jesus loves me.  I want NO ONE to perish.  Just as Jesus didn't want me to stay lost.

I tend to keep my views to myself (mostly) unless someone asks or I'm in a situation that would result in me compromising my beliefs by remaining silent.  I've learned, although it's taken time - to keep my opinions to myself - unless asked for advice or my stance on a particular issue.

With that in mind, as I signed into the dentist office and awaited my appointment, I overheard the receptionist sharing with one of the young hygienist some Scriptural truths about which the young woman had asked.  I didn't want to eaves drop, but in such a small space it's very hard NOT to overhear conversations.  They were speaking in low, hushed tones, but with no competing noise, I could hear most everything they said to one another.

I was impressed with the receptionists gentle words but also with her courage and zeal for speaking the truth.

They finished their brief, but deep conversation mere minutes before I was called back.  As I walked to the dental chair I pondered saying something to the receptionist to applaud her for her bravery in being so bold.

My procedure complete, mouth numb, I stood in front of her desk as she greeted me, telling me my total for services rendered.  Handing her my credit card, I softly uttered, "I just wanted to tell you I was impressed with your conversation earlier."

A bit bug-eyed, she stopped short as she prepared to run my card, hand in mid-air. Finally she gave a nervous chuckle, a sigh of relief, and said, "Thank you. Thank you so much. You just made my day."  We continued to have a short conversation regarding sharing our faith; answering hard questions; and I commended her for being courageous.  Again she thanked me for 'making her day'.

I left knowing God had worked in both our lives that day.

I gave her encouragement to keep sharing, keep standing on the truth, and to continue talking with this young woman about 'tough worldly stuff'.  I also gained a little more courage myself to share my faith; to speak up and give kuddos to someone else for sharing their faith.

Upon arriving home, my son told me the dentist office called and wanted me to call them back.  Assuming it was to see how my still-numb mouth and new filling was doing, I called right after lunch.  The receptionist - as expected - answered the phone. When she heard who was calling, she sighed a deep breath and exclaimed, "Thank you again.  You have no idea how much you encouraged me today."

Wow - who knew eaves dropping and telling someone you were impressed with their conversation would have had such a profound impact.

With all the political 'unrest' in our nation today, it's difficult to know when to share one's faith and when to stay in the shadows. If you speak, you will likely offend men. If you stay silent you will most definitely offend the Lord Jesus.

The amazing thing to me is: my reason in sharing -- the receptionist's reason for being in dialogue with her co-worder -- is so all can be saved.  It's because we care.  But... those against Christianity assume it's out of hatred.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It's LOVE that brought Jesus to earth;  it's LOVE that put Him on the cross;  it's LOVE for which He rose from the dead;  it's LOVE as to why HE took our sins upon himself.  Therefore, it's LOVE that spurs me to have convictions, stand up for truth, for right, for Scripture.  That's why I'm obligated to share my faith and the truth of Jesus with others.


He Is Risen - hence my hope springs eternal

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Eggs Away

Graciously, the Centennial Valley Community School invited our family to participate in their Easter egg hunt and egg drop experiment.  The school is K-6th grade so it was mostly for our younger set.

However, our older kids REALLY wanted to take part in the egg drop competition.  Bethany and Elijah had recently done a similar project in our homeschool lessons.  Elijah took initiative and called to find out the 'specifications' for the event - seeing as how he is technically 6th grade age.

Excitedly they began putting their plans into action.  It took 3 eggs to find a model that kept their egg from cracking as it hit the ground.  The only 'rules' they were given was their package had to be 18 in or less and they had to use a raw egg.

Their Final Model
A quart size bag filled w/ packing peanuts placed inside a tupperware container - also filled w/peanuts; 
a bag closed around the top with rubber bands; another box to hold the tupperware
container - also filled with packing peanuts; all taped shut.

Testing their various contraptions, they stood at the top of a ladder and threw their packaged egg into the air; watching it slam to the ground.  Their first attempt resulted in a cracked egg.   Their second egg didn't even make it to the package - it was accidentally dropped as they gathered their materials.  Finally, their third egg endured the fall.

Getting ready to launch Elijah's egg
Next.... the actual competition at the school.  The eggs were dropped from the roof of the building to see which ones persevered.

Eggs away!
Standing in line, we watched egg package after egg package being dropped from the top of the small school building.  Finally Bethany and Elijah's egg was lifted to the top of the building.   3....2.....1.... bombs away..... smack.  To the ground it fell.  Moments later......... after unwrapping the package............their egg........... S-U-R-V-I-V-E-D!!!  Go team Williams.  A total of 12 eggs 'lived' through the fall.  Approximately 23 students took part in the egg drop experiment.  We represented homeschooling well.

The egg - in it's entirety - after the drop
The kindness of the students was paramount. Trinity and Charity found only ONE egg between them during the egg hunt.  Ninety percent of the students came and shared at least one egg with both our girls.  Wow! What wonderful hospitality.
Getting directions for the egg race
And their off - Charity didn't make it too far,
but had a fun time







Big kids had to do their second lap w/the egg in their mouth
Trinity made 2 full laps and never broke her egg
Egg in mouth was a bit more difficult








The egg toss resulted in Bethany and Elijah being one of the farthest apart to toss and catch their egg without it dropping and breaking.  Trinity, Bethany, and Elijah all made two whole laps around the playground without dropping their egg during the egg race. 


Charity made it until she hit the rocky hill; being a bit unbalanced, her egg plummeted to the ground.



All in all, it was a fun-filled morning.  Meeting new friends and taking part in cleaver activities was a nice change to our typical routine.

Friday, March 29, 2013

WANTED - Dead or Alive

Ok, so maybe that's a bit exaggerated but....

Techno-genius, loving a good driving adventure, had planned a journey around a nearby mountain to precede our date at the Vee Bar Ranch.  He had pain-stakingly mapped out a route using a custom mapping program in addition to our GPS to ensure we'd not get lost and in fact make it -- on time -- to our dining reservation.

Out the door and on our way, first we headed down a cut-a-cross road not far from our sub-division.  Beautiful, peaceful country road.  A few houses spattered along the way, but mostly just ranch land and prairie with beautiful mountains cascading in the background.  What a dream.

Our first destination was to view the areas that had been struck by fire in the summer of 2012 while we were here for vacation.  The burn patters were astounding.  Fortunately most homes/buildings were spared, but much of the foilage, shrubbery, and forest of the mountain side were torched.  Blackened nubs of what was once sage brush; tree trunks, blackened and lifeless; whole sides of mountains practically bare describe the scene that awaited us.

Just one of the mountain sides with burned trees lining it
Suddenly, a patch of brush and trees apparently untouched by the once raging fire, would splash across our view.  It was truly an amazing site to see.
A fallen, burned trunk

After snapping a few pictures of the devastation and new life already erupting, we travelled on toward our destination of the Vee Bar guest ranch for dinner.  Plans of a 'scenic route' danced in Techno-genius' head.

He LOVES roadtrips - especially of the unchartered variety.  Unlike me, he is NOT directionally challenged.  This difference in our abilities used to cause a lot of contention.  I'd panic because we were lost; Techno would simply keep moving in the general direction we were supposed to be heading and be calm as a cucumber; ultimately finding his way to wherever we were headed.

Over the last 18+ years of marriage, I've learned to trust his directional abilities and have realized that the journey may take longer but we'll still arrive.  I now generally only panic when I'm lost by myself or with just the kiddos.

Anyway - our journey commenced.

Coming upon another small 'country road', not unlike the one we took across the prairie, we turned left. As we approached the "gate" of this road, we noted the Private Road markings.  After a slight hesitation; some discussion of what 'private' might entail; we came to the conclusion together that it was in fact "permissible" for us to travel down this road. Surely, private road simply means it's not taken care of by the city, but similar to our own road is privately tended to by the residents of that subdivision.

Logical.

After a short jaunt down this road, Techno made the decision to turn back.  We were not finding the junction to the route we had hoped to take.

This scenario played itself out a couple more times - a small 'country road' off to the side; more private road signs; we'd venture down a ways; only to return - not finding our desired connecting passage.

Finally, we came upon a paved road.  The name of which Techno-genius remembered from his mapping out our journey and KNEW it sounded familiar.  <Besides, if it didn't join the path we expected, we could just drive into Laramie on it and return using the main highway to our dinner plans at the Vee Bar.>

Driving along, we passed a small Alpaca ranch and soon found another road Techno 'recognized'.  Once again, NO private road signs were evident. We felt more confident taking this turn, despite the lack of pavement.

As we traversed down this path, it was often difficult to determine where driveways started and road ended. They were all just 'dirt' paths carved in by a plow of some sort.  At one point we did note the identification of 'open range' and marveled at the horses we passed along the way.  Most just free range along the ranch lands.

Just a few of the horses we saw on our journey.  Personally my favorite due to the foal.
Passing by a large field, we spotted a bald eagle perched upon a tall tree in the distance. What a fun find.  About this time in our journey, Techno had to make a decision of continuing straight or making a curve left.  As mentioned, the road and driveways were hard to differentiate.  Straight appeared to go into someone's home, so left we ventured.

It wasn't long, that Techno started wondering why we were headed the complete opposite direction he WANTED to be headed.  That's the thing about Old West, country, mountain roads. They twist, turn, zig and zag all over the place.  Soon enough, we were heading back in the right direction again.

We did in fact make it to dinner - even early. But... we never found the original route Techno-genius wanted to take.  In asking at the ranch about the coveted road, the manager replied, "I've never heard of anyone using that road."  Hmmmm....

The Vee Bar Ranch restaurant - our final destination.
Sunday at church, we decided to ask a native Wyomian about the 'rules' of Private Roads and the like.

Come to find out, we were probably trespassing like crazy.  Could have been shot, arrested, and/or fined for being on half the roads we meandered onto.

In the future, we know to avoid 'private roads', as well as lots of other tidbits of 'rancher's laws' that will help us avoid being WANTED:  Dead or Alive.




Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Get Organized

Moving from 3500 square ft. to a little over 1700 square ft. we discovered we a) needed to purge much of our belongings and b) find good organizational ideas for the stuff we chose to keep.

We have a fair amount of shelving space in our guest bathroom closet as well as our laundry room.  Initially I just lined everything up on these shelves with 'like' items.  It was cluttered and bursting at the seams.  Stuff would fall whenever we tried to get a bandaid or cleaning spray.  It wasn't working.

I decided these were the two areas to tackle -- pronto like.

I used a lot of baskets in our old house and many of the storage ideas I found on Pinterest included some form of container.  Why not implement that here?  Made sense.

I wasn't convinced ALL the items I hoped to store would fit in small bins like I saw on Pinterest, but... much to my surprise a lot more fits inside a container than just loose on a shelf.  Crazy stuff I tell ya.

So, how I organized our bathroom linen closet and our laundry shelves:

  • First - categorize things according to their use - like items 
  • Second - find 'containers' to hold these items; place items in containers; label; organize on shelves
The laundry room:
This is where I keep the bulk of our cleaning products, extra paper products, as well as laundry supplies (obviously)
The skeletal framework of this room is as follows:  I've yet to paint and 'decorate' this space.
Cleaning supplies easily accessible
  • For daily cleaning supplies I purchased an over the door shoe organizer and placed bottles of cleaning spray, carpet cleaner, etc in the pouches. This frees up my baskets on the shelves.
  • In the baskets on the shelves I placed bigger items - bottles of bleach and amonia, tubs of cleaning wipes, etc.  The things that won't fit in the small shoe pouches.
  • The extra paper products are neatly 'stacked' on the shelves -- not sure this is the 'final state' for this portion, but it's functional and still a work in progress.
  • The laundry supplies are in two places - on the shelf just above the washing machine or just above the dryer (dryer sheets) - I may add baskets here, but I use them so often, free standing is working well.
    • Everything is within reach and tidy
    • Everything has a place
Laundry room shelves - tidy and organized






The bathroom linen closet:
This closet houses the kids towels/wash cloths; all our medicines; wound care; light bulbs; and multiples in body wash/lotion/spray etc.
Initially everything was just "loose" on the shelves with similar items. This was disastrous.  I spent a great deal of time picking up 'knocked over' bottles and boxes whenever we needed something from this closet.  
My solution?  Plastic baskets.
Towels and 'first aid' supplies
  • I kept all 'like' items together, but put them in small plastic baskets and labeled them.  If we have a child who has a 'boo boo' - all we have to do is grab the 'wound care' basket - this houses bandaids, antibacterial ointment, hydrogen peroxide, even gauze for those "bad" cuts.  Headache?  Just pull out the pain reliever basket.  So much nicer. Things aren't falling over and it's all in one place.
    • labels allow for quick access to the contents of each basket.  Simply grab the one that fits your ailment.
  • I added crates beside the water heater on the floor. Stacked them three high. This is where the kids towels are rolled and stacked.  Easy for them to reach.
  • I still haven't found a good solution for our light bulbs.  I think I need to purchase a couple bins that are stackable. Currently all the packages are on the top shelf which has LOTS of space above it.  They are just piled in stacks. Which is ok, until.... you actually NEED a light bulb. Then it becomes a jumbled mess of falling boxes of bulbs.  I don't currently have stackable containers so this will have to suffice.
  • The extra body washes and lotions are also just lined up. But, they aren't used often and it works for now.  I may get a bin for them as well, eventually.
  • Medicines, lotions, and light bulbs, oh my!
    • It's not "pretty" and painted, but it's functional and keeps things at our fingertips more readily.  
Although a work in progress - it's helped a lot.  I'm finding that using containers of some kind to sort 'like items' is key in our new surroundings.  We have much less space to spread out.  Combining like items in containers not only saves space, but makes retrieval of those items much simpler.

Isn't that was organization is all about? Simplicity?  That's the key for me.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Anger


Anger! It's been a part of my life for a long time. It served me well for many-a-years. Many-a-circumstance.

As a kid it pushed me to be better, be what others said I couldn't be. As a teen it helped me graduate with honors in the top portion of my class, despite skepticism from others. It catapulted me to succeed in college when a guidance counselor hinted at the fact I didn't “have what it took” to make it at Miami University.  When a relative told others, “I give her 6 months and she'll be home and pregnant.”

I'm grateful that through that, I did have parents that believed in me and encouraged me. Friends that supported me and helped temper the 'mad' in me.

However, I still had a lot of anger. Learning early on to use it to my advantage. I was bold, brash at times – anger. I was confident and overly assertive – anger. I was confrontational and belligerent – anger.

Granted, this anger 'helped' me.

Proving others wrong. Showing that I could do what they said I couldn't. Being more than anyone thought I could be. I relied on and relished the power such anger afforded me. I was a force to be reckoned with. I am woman, hear me roar. Sometimes quite literally.

Upon meeting Techno-genius, I saw something different. He's gentle. A meek-spirt. Now, don't read that to mean mousy doormat. That does not define the man I married. He is just kind and loving, slow to anger. Quite the opposite of what I tended to be. He used to joke that I was going to cause him to get into fights b/c someone was going to hit me from my 'angry' outbursts; thrusting my shoulder into the 6 ft 5in man who bumped me while pressing through a crowd or other similar antics.

Once we were married and I grew to know Jesus in my life, I realized anger wasn't an asset. Sure, it had served it's purpose. It had helped me succeed in many areas of life. But now? God's Word tells me in Proverbs that anger isn't a good thing. Wrath brings sorrow, pain. Yep. I can attest to that. When you are angry all the time, you tend to rub people the wrong way. You burn bridges. You tear down relationships. You build walls.

Like a raging fire, anger burning within destroys
As we began having children, I noticed my anger would flair toward them. That was scary. I began crying out to God. I read books of other moms dealing with anger. I talked to Techno-genius. I prayed – a lot.

Over the years, my anger has tempered. I can't say I've overcome it. I still lose my temper. I still yell at my kids. In fits of impatience I still mentally or verbally assault the driver that cut me off. I still vent to Techno-genius or God. But... I'm not so much an 'angry person' anymore as much as a person who struggles with 'getting angry' on occasion.

Through God's grace I'm learning my anger is really just a symptom of a bigger problem. PRIDE. MY PRIDE!!! Hmmmmm.... how did I not see that before? When I'm angry what is the root? Usually my pride being hurt. My feelings of entitlement being thwarted or undermined. Feeling like I was wronged.

I've learned to say “I'm sorry” to my kids and hubby when I do 'lose it'. Asking for their forgiveness. Giving them permission to alert me when they see the signs of 'mama's gonna blow'. Granted, when they see those signs, they are a bit fearful to bring it up. They've been on the other end of my verbal tirades before.

But, each day God gives me grace. Thankfully my kids and Techno-genius do the same. I'm learning – though slowly – to give myself grace too; because I still fall short.

I'm making progress. I yell a bit less. I don't slam doors too very often. I no longer slam the dish washer door breaking dishes. I haven't thrown anything in a while. I purposely try NOT to give the silent treatment. I haven't punched any walls since college.

When I do slip up – usually by yelling or slamming things down a bit zealously – I first ask for forgiveness from God, then also from the one who was on the receiving end of my wrath.

My goal is to ask God for strength BEFORE I allow the 'outburst' to occur. To remind myself of the pride that's behind my feelings. To show my children that anger is not the first, best, easiest reaction to frustrating situations.

Through God's grace and faith I've learned it's not me – my anger – that helps me succeed and be 'all I can be'. It's GOD! His mercy. His grace. His gift. I also know he'll help me – as I'm willing – to overcome this detriment in my life; this anger.





Monday, March 25, 2013

Pumpkin Smoothies

Smoothies are a special breakfast or lunch treat in our house.  That... and fruit and yogurt parfaits.  The kids love 'em!

I've had pumpkin smoothies on our menu plan for a couple weeks -- each time they were bumped by left-overs or a shift in the menu plan.

Today, I decided I'd bump them again because the fridge was overflowing with leftovers.  The kids revolted.

"Pumpkin smoothies are SOOOOO good and such a treat," bemoaned Elijah.

Thinking about it, I decided we could do both. Clean out the refrigerator and have a small helping of pumpkin smoothie.

I've made various pumpkin smoothie recipes in the past.  From canned pumpkin and yogurt only to the addition of ice, cinnamon, and other odd and end ingredients.

Finding a recipe on Pinterest that looked better than average, I decided to go with it.

Pumpkin, whole milk, yogurt and cinnamon were the required ingredients.

In typical Six Shootin' Mama fashion - I did NOT re-read the recipe very well.  All I had was skim milk.  Hmmmm.....

Plus it called for 3 cups of milk to 1 small can of pumpkin -- that wasn't going to be a smoothie, that was gonna be pumpkin flavored milk.

So... I altered the recipe - quite a bit.
Yum!  Light yet filling and fairly healthy.

Here's the roster of players:

30 oz can of prepared pumpkin - not pie filling, but pure pumpkin 
1 C +/- heavy whipping cream
1/2 C skim milk (maybe a little less)
1 C vanilla low fat yogurt
dash or so of Cinnamon and Nutmeg
Serves 8 - 6 smaller cups and 2 moderate sized cups (kids and parent servings)

Pour pumpkin into blender
Next add 1 C. of yogurt
Top with the heavy whipping cream and skim milk along with the spices.

Blend till smooth.

Pour into cups, top with granola if desired.

Super yummy.  Quite healthy.  A nice treat to top off our 'left over' lunch.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

16 Tidbits from my Day Out with Our 16 Year Old

The Olympiad Chemistry Exam took Jacob and I to Cheyenne, Wyoming for an overnight stay and a day trip of shopping.

It was a fun filled and educational trip.  Here's what I learned spending the day with our boy.

Smiling as usual.  

  • He's witty and clever yet deep and introspective - not sure I necessarily learned this as much as was reminded of it.
  • Driving on unfamiliar mountain roads at night in the wind is a bit nerve wracking.
  • Sharing tortilla chips and watching Lord of the Rings before bed is actually relaxing.
  • Listening to your child squirm in bed trying to get comfortable will keep you awake -a long time.
  • Hotel breakfasts are best when eaten leisurely while chatting over news items with your oldest child.  
  • One must be careful not to be SOOO leisurely that you are almost late for said child's chemistry exam.
  • Burger King's coffee is not less than tasty compared to McDonald's and home.
  • Jacob is frugal with his money and enjoys tempering mom's spending - this is cute.... when it's not annoying.
  • Thrift store shopping with a teenager is fun.  It's neat to see him light up over a new-to-him suit.
  • Target it Target no matter the city.
  • Big Lots still rocks.  
  • It's wise to pay attention to the looming headache - taking ibuprofen and eating - to avoid turning an otherwise pleasant day trip into a grumpy mommy moment.
  • Eating Cold Stone Creamery for lunch may not be 'heart healthy', but it is good for the heart when on a date with your son.
  • Long car trips yield good conversations with your children.  There's no escape.
  • Listening to him tell of how much he enjoys Wyoming, likes our 'slower pace', and his honesty in sharing was medicine to a mama's heart.
  • My 'dates' with Jacob are precious - especially in light of the fact he'll be heading off to college in just a short year and a half.  The clock's tickin'.  You better bet I'm going to relish these special times whenever I can muster them. 
Here's praying he did well enough to take the National Exam in April and we can 'do it all again'!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Why I suddenly love cooking

Upon moving to Wyoming, Techno-genius and I had some distinct ideas of improvements we planned to implement in our lives.  Spending more 'fun time' as a family, improving our overall work ethic - completing home projects, getting more exercise (when taking a walk includes the mountain views we now call home, surely it would be easier), and leading a more simplified life overall.

Little did I know,  as part of those enhancements, I would suddenly start enjoying cooking A LOT.  That's not an entirely true statement. I've always liked the act of cooking, but found it a cumbersome task that just caused another dreaded chore - cleaning up the mess.

As I pondered why, when living in suburbia, I disliked cooking, why I didn't relish the opportunity to be creative in the meals I prepared, I came to a couple conclusions.

First and foremost, I baulked at using a pre-planned menu and grocery list.  I wanted spontaneity.  I guess.  However, it was such spontaneousness that caused me to cringe as the dreaded "dinner hour" approached.  What could I make, fast, that didn't require thawing anything out because..... since I was being spontaneous... nothing was thawed.

Night in, night out, this was a scenario that often played out in my head and actions.  Come 4 pm, or worse yet 5 pm - I'd have NO idea what to make for dinner.  Hence, I'd fall into my comfort zone and make the easy "go to" dishes that were on hand - soup and grilled cheese, spaghetti, tacos, stir fried rice.  Worse yet, we'd grab pizza, head out to eat, or (don't think I'm a bad mom), I'd give the kids cereal and pop tarts and Doug and I would grab something after the kids went to bed - sometimes just a bowl of popcorn.

The other cause of my lack luster cooking efforts was our schedule. We were running - often.  Church activities, homeschool co-op, kids music lessons, Doug's work schedule, 4H, Girls Gone Wise, and any other activity that happened to look interesting that week.  IF we were home, I was often quite exhausted, unprepared, and didn't want to cook. Other days, I just didn't have a plan, so making an early meal to fit our hectic schedule wasn't feasible.

The simple life in the mountains changed much of that.  Not only are we much less busy, not having a grocery store or fast food restaurant within 30 miles, causes one to plan ahead.  Yep, my excuse of being spontaneous was out the door.

Cooking takes time.  I found I had more of that here.  So, with my planned menu and grocery list, a lot more time to cook, I began scouring the internet for recipes (most of my cookbooks are still in storage somewhere in Illinois).  I also discovered Pinterest - that evil addiction - and it's plethora of food ideas.  I was hooked.

First I tried a few new recipes along side some of my more elaborate "known" dishes.  I was cooking every night. Much to my surprise, I was also willing and even looking forward to cooking and preparing more elaborate lunches - even breakfasts some days.

Just one of the new, tasty meals I've prepared.  This lemon broccoli dish is now Doug's favorite veggie preparation.
One week, in my zeal, I planned out our menu with all new and fairly elaborate recipes for almost every lunch and dinner.  Techno-genius about had a heart attack when the grocery bill was double what it had been since arriving in Wyoming.  I toned down my excitement after that.

I still attempt new, fun recipes, but I try to sprinkle them in along with some less elaborate staples that our family enjoys.  This has kept our budget in check and kept me from living in the kitchen 24/7.

Do you have a favorite new recipe or a good 'ole standby that you your family loves?  Please share. I'm on the hunt for 'new to us' meals all the time now.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Crock Pot French Toast

The kids love to wake up to a hot, yummy breakfast. I mean L.O.V.E it.

I tend to prefer to sleep till they all start stirring.

The two preferences don't mix.  Either they do NOT get a hot breakfast, I get up EARLY, or breakfast doesn't happen till 9am - which doesn't jive w/our 'schedule'.

Sooooooo......

I've started attempting more crock pot breakfasts.

A recent attempt..... french toast - taken from recipes found on Pinterest.

Player Line-up:  This shows the recipe already doubled

Bread - any type - stale is often better for french toast.  I used a whole loaf of rather stale french bread and a half bag of odd end pieces, a combination of white/wheat/even buns, leftovers from other meals and recipes etc.
12 eggs
4 C milk
4 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp brown sugar
4 tsp vanilla
(if I make this again, I think I'll put more of the spices/flavorings, as it was a little bland -- although, the kids loved it as is)

Tear bread into pieces (especially if using slate french bread) or in half (if using slices of bread), toss into bottom of crock pot.  I filled our crock pot to the top with the bread.  Not packed in, but tossed fairly loosely.

Whisk eggs with milk and remaining ingredients.  Add more here if you want a bolder flavor or leave as is if you prefer a mild hint.  I might even add a little nutmeg and cloves next time. It might also be fun to add apples or raisins or pumpkin depending on the season.

Pour egg mixture over the bread. At this point, I smooshed the bread down into the egg mixture to be sure it was all covered.  (I might have been able to add another 1/2 loaf of bread and 1/2 mixture of eggs if I wanted.)  I guess I should mention I have a huge crock pot. I think it's 7 qts or so.  It holds a lot.

Cook on low overnight or at least 6 hours.

Wake to the wonderful fragrance of french toast wafting through the air.

Scoop and serve warm with butter and syrup.

This was a yummy, easy, ready in the morning meal that I will most likely do again.  The kids really liked it, it was quick to throw together, and fits the bill of a hardy breakfast to start the day.  The eggs in the recipe give it some protein factor, the cinnamon and brown sugar add that sweet taste the kids love, and I don't have to get up super early to have a hot breakfast on the table as the kids arise.

Warning!  The consistency of this dish was closer to bread pudding than french toast, so if that's not your cup of tea, you just might want to skip this dish.  If, however, you like bread pudding - for breakfast - this recipe will be right up your alley.

I didn't get any pictures of this meal in progress or when it was completed.  It was late when I started it and I hadn't had my coffee when it was finished.  My brain wasn't quite fully engaged - hence the reason I like this recipe so much.  Not much brain power needed.

Hope you enjoy it too.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Do't get discouraged

As I began my blog, I had high hopes of gaining a huge following - fast. After all, who wouldn't like to read about our life and see it through my eyes? ;-)

Now, I'm not saying I expected to get famous.  However, thoughts of friends and family readily reading to hear about happenings and life at the Williams Homestead - especially now that we live so very far away from what most call "civilization" - filled my wee brain.

It was hard not to get discouraged when I saw, after a couple weeks up and running, that I had a whopping 5 followers - 2 who were yet to actually activate their subscription and 2 who lived in my house.  "Guess I didn't have as many friends as I thought," I mused.  My own Mom wasn't even following.  Granted - she confessed she simply clicked on my FB page and read it from there. Which I've convinced myself is what many must choose to do.  No one wants their e-mail in-box flooded with stories of our life - as fun as it may be.

A friend wrote to let me know she read some of the early posts.  Her words helped me immensely; put the whole thing in perspective; reminded me of WHY I started the blog in the first place.  She said, "What a blessing and legacy to leave for your children and their children; for generations to come, your story will be passed along."

She was right.  My blog began because a few friends suggested I journal our adventures and how God worked in and through our lives with our move out west.  My husband has always thought blogging was a better outlet for my desire to write and share the happenings of our lives.

And so, no matter the number of followers and "hits" on my blog; no matter how many other blogs surpass mine; I will continue to post.  I will share the fun, the struggles, the delights, the antics of littles, the triumphs of bigs, the ups and downs in marriage, recipes, homeschool ideas, crafts, repurpose sewing projects, God sightings, our journey into homesteading w/chickens and goats <God willing>, and whatever else God brings across our path.

Yes, I hope others enjoy reading my blog, but my internal focus will no longer be on what others think, but more on what I want to leave for my children's children, for future generations of this 'Williams Homestead' we are developing.

God provided salve to a discouraged soul through another friend who said, "I think your grandchildren will simply treasure reading about their parents through the eyes of their Grandma.  What a blessing."

So - I'll blog on.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Big City? It's all perspective

When we would vacation in Wyoming, Laramie seemed like such a 'small town'.  The slow pace, the limited array of shopping locations, the scant variety of dining - small town living for sure.  The fact you could drive from one end of town to the other in under 15 minutes - quite literally - was also a clue.

Especially compared to Cincinnati, Ohio where we could find just about any chain restaurant imaginable, shopping galore, gas stations and drug stores on every corner.  It took a good hour to 'cross town'.

Of course, Cincinnati had nothin' on New York City. When we traveled there for a job interview for Techno-genius, I was aghast as the difference in pace. There were no cookie cutter dining establishments, but WOW, talk about diversity.  Stores, food establishments, hotels, taxis EVERYWHERE.  Now THAT was 'big city living'.

The biggest difference noted was the proximity of everything.  In New York, buildings were practically on top of each other - edge to edge of the geographical space it embodies.  Cincinnati had a bit more space between things, but still you could practically reach out and touch someone from your front porch. Laramie had a bit more space.  Houses and other buildings were close knit - in town - but the outskirts were much more spacious, with ranchlands and prairies.

Now that we live in Centennial, Wyoming, our perspective has changed yet again.

Laramie now feels much bigger.  We know it's not a 'big city' by definition, but living in a true small town where the population barely pushes 270; where we have 1 convenient store w/two gas pumps; 3 restaurants - 2 of which are only open on weekends; 3 hotel like establishments; and NO drug stores, grocery stores, or even a doctor's office makes Laramie feel like a metropolis.

If you want to get across town in Centennial, it might take you 5 minutes by car. That's if you are coming from outside the city limits - in one of the 'suburbs'.  You have to take a 10 minute walk to ask your neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar.  That's country living at it's best.

A friend commented on missing the slower pace of Cody, Wyoming and how he disliked the 'big city' feel of Laramie.  When he first proclaimed this, Techno-genius and I laughed.  Laramie, big city? Did the two words coincide?

Now, a couple months later, living in the more secluded mountains of Centennial, we get it.  We too are starting to view Laramie as a metropolitan hot spot.

'Downtown' Centennial.  The whole town in one shot.
Ok, so maybe that's a bit exaggerated, but the point is, it's all perspective.  When you live in a big city, most everything else seems 'small town' to you.  Conversely, when you live in podunkville (yeah, I know that's not a real word), even a 'small town' seems like large livin' in your eyes.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why I'll never have my own cooking show

As I was making enchiladas for lunch today, I was struck by the concept of why I'd never have my own cooking show.  Now I'm not saying I've ever had any notion that I COULD, but I can tell ya, after today, I'm darn tootin' sure I WON'T.

First off, I'm no chef.  I can follow a recipe with the best of 'em.  Maybe even change it up a bit. I'd consider myself a decent - possibly even good - cook; but come up with a recipe off the cuff, on my own?  Nope, not happenin'.  My go to spices are garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.  Not exactly Iron Chef material.

Beyond that, however, was the insight by which I was clobbered today.

I'm a messy cook.  I guess I've known that.  I really dislike clean up when I'm finished - so does everyone else that ends up with that job. There's got to be a reason for that.  :-)

As I was preparing the enchiladas - which I've never made before - I was reminded, quite vividly of just how messy I'm inclined to be.  While making the rue for the enchilada sauce, which needed to be stirred frequently between chopping onion and zucchini, this tendency was more than obvious.  I'm not sure if I had one too many cups 'o joe this morning resulting in jerky, terse movements; or if I was just overzealous in general; but practically every time I grabbed that wooden handle to stir the concoction, I sloshed it out and over the side of the skillet, usually into the well of the burner in front of the one I was actually using.  I can't even tell you how many times that happened.  It seemed and looked like EVERY time.

I tempered my fervent grasp on the spoon as I stirred in the tomato sauce.  All went well, until.... I finished pouring in the sauce and went to put the can into the sink - you know, to keep my work station tidy.  It was at this point that my well intended efforts resulted in yet more disarray.  With a slight flick of the wrist, a stream of red cascaded from the mostly empty container.  As if in slow motion, the tomato sauce splattered, with a flourish, quite artistically, onto the front of the dishwasher door.  If I were an abstract painter, this might have been quite grand.  But, alas, I'm not and my dishwasher door was no artist's canvas.

Cleaning up the mess, I noted reason three I'm not cut out for the Food Network or any other 'food' show.  Not only was I messy, I was a mess.  I wasn't smiling cheerily at the camera.  I wasn't calm and pulled together deftly moving from one task to the next. I was whirling around the kitchen like a chicken with it's head cut off. I was sweating, wincing, making several trips to the same cupboard to retrieve items I had missed or forgotten the many trips before.  It was NOT a pretty sight.

I console myself with the fact this was a new recipe. I hadn't rehearsed making it. It wasn't an 'old standyby' that I knew like the back of my hand.  However,  I'm still quite certain, if I were to ever have the opportunity to display my cooking talent to the world, I'd be just as messy; just as frazzled.  I wouldn't remember to smile and talk about each step as I did it.  I'd have ingredients on the floor, on my face, and most likely all over the place.

In conclusion, I'll simply continue preparing meals for my family, making a mess as I go, enjoying the time to explore new avenues with my cooking abilities.  I'll bring my kids in on the fun, allowing them to make messes too.  Although, I find it even harder to stay calm when THAT happens. :-)

Are you a messy cook?  Do you gather everything together before you even start?  I am hit or miss on this point. I often do, which makes things run quite smoothly, but other times - like enchilada day - I don't and it makes for a much more lively escapade.



Friday, March 15, 2013

I Can See

We get our children's eyes checked annually. This year, timing was off a bit with our travels and moving.

The last time we'd gone, both boys still needed glasses but all the girls were fine. Bethany showed slight signs of near sightedness, but "that's normal for her age", the eye doctor assured.

Over that year, if I had been more astute, Bethany showed signs of her eyesight declining.  It wasn't until early fall - a month after what should have been our yearly check-up - that she really started complaining about 'not seeing' things from afar.  With all the plans of moving and getting our house ready to sell, I procrastinated setting up eye appointments.

As we stayed with Granddad before our move, he questioned whether she should see an eye doctor.  He had asked her to pick up a piece of paper on the floor and she literally could NOT see it.  UUGH!

Horrible mommy moment number 6,042 - realizing I had let her vision wane so dramatically that she couldn't even see a paper a little more than 5 ft from her face.  UUGH!

Once moved, it took us a little while to find an optometrist that would accept our insurance.

Oh the sights she missed during that time.  The deer we all admired on our neighbors front porch, the antelope along the prairie, the jack rabbits in the distance; she missed them all or at the very least just saw "brown blobs moving in the distance."

I felt bad, but at the same time I couldn't change the past.  All I could do was set up an appointment and wait.

Finally, we made arrangements to see an eye doctor in Laramie.

Sure enough, Bethany was in dire need of glasses.  Elijah needed a new prescription as did I, but Jacob's had gratefully remained the same and the littles were still perfectly fine. Phew, I didn't go to 6,043-6,045 bad mommy moments.

The first pair of frames she tried on were 'the ones'.  She tried on several more, but always returned to the initial ones she placed upon her face.  They were quite attractive on her and even a pinkish hue.  Fitting for our elegant young lady.

The call came in.  Her glasses were ready. I think she would have happily walked the 30 miles to town if we had let her to get them right then and there.

Following Jacob's surgery, we made a quick stop at the eye doctor's office to have her glasses fitted and bring them home.

Bethany sportin' her new glasses
Oh the smile on her face as she put them on that first time.  "He looks so big and close", she exclaimed of the technician helping her. As we walked out the door, a little skip in her walk, she giddily read all the signs that were so fuzzy just moments before.

I can't get back the sights she missed, but I can marvel as she sees some things as if for the first time since we arrived in our mountain home.  I'm thankful for that opportunity and will relish with her.

Have you ever been so distracted, preoccupied with life that you've had a 'bad mommy moment' you'd rather forget?  So glad God's grace is new every day and that children extend similar grace so readily.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Not so granola mom

Anyone who knows me well, would NOT describe me as an especially 'earthy/granola' mom.

I'm not into 'organic' foods.  I'm not necessarily what the masses would call 'green'.  I didn't nurse my children past 1 years old.  I don't avoid chemicals when I clean.  I ingest Splenda and caffein on a daily basis.  I allow my children to eat candy and pop-tarts.  I even use regular old store bought sunscreen as well as bug spray that contains Deet.  GASP!

I have nothing against those that do or avoid all of the above.  Kuddos to them for being hyper-diligent for a cause they hold dear.  I too have strong convictions and understand their desire to share their stance.

I DO try to feed my family healthy meals.  I keep our home tidy and clean (albeit sometimes with store bought chemicals).  I do my part to recycle and not harm this wonderful world God gave us.  I'm even hoping to venture into the world of 'homesteading' in the near future.  I also try to be informed - on both sides - of the many controversial facts that erupt concerning these issues I mentioned above.

However, many years ago, I heard a quote that greatly impacted my thought process.

This woman said, "If only people worried more about their children's spiritual well being as they do their physical well being. What a wonderful world we'd live in."

That quote changed my thinking forever.

When I first heard it, we had one child and I was.... well..... quite the over protective mommy.  I followed our eldest around with pillows when he first began sitting up and crawling. I  didn't want him to bump his head when he fell over, after all.  We followed all the recommended guidelines for solid food introduction.  My steely stare caused many a spoon to be taken from in front of his tiny mouth when unsuspecting relatives tried to offer him tastes of their unapproved morsels.

As he grew, my anxiety over the what if's, what could's began to mount.

After hearing this quote, my perspective changed.  Yes, I still try to do all I can to protect our children physically, but more important to me is protecting them spiritually.

Raising them to know God, His Word. Knowing the saving Grace of Jesus Christ in their lives. That is my primary objective.

Hence, I may not feed my children 'organic' carrots, but I do feed them daily from God's Word.

Even a little sand won't 'hurt'
As my chemist father-in-law has pointed out:  "Our world is made up of chemicals. Studies show there are far more 'naturally' occurring causes of diseases than those brought on by the use of 'chemicals' found in cleaning supplies and pesticides."   We do live in a fallen world. Not to mention, "All plants are 'organic'."  Just a little chemist humor there.

Choosing this stance may not make me popular; some  may even consider me seem less attentive; or it may just help others view things from a new perspective as well.

I too have my children's best interest at heart. I just approach it from a slightly different angle.

My focus isn't on what goes into their BODIES as much as it is what makes its way into their HEARTS.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feeding the multitudes

Getting ready to prepare dinner one night, I glanced out our back window to behold a large herd of deer standing upon our neighbor's front porch -- some pawing at the windows.

That's one large herd of deer knocking at our neighbor's door.
We've seen a bale of hay in the yard - apparently for the deer - and suspected they also put out a salt lick. The kids claimed they had seen a guy come out and hand feed a deer his own sandwich while petting the 4 legged critter.

All we knew was these deer were definitely fans of our neighbor's house and not afraid at all when someone walked outside.

With all this information in my arsenal of knowledge, I was still taken aback at what I saw that day as the deer stood on the porch, agitated, brushing at the windows.

I grabbed my camera - how often do you see deer "knocking" on someone's door?

Minutes later, the sliding door opened and out came an older individual with a pull cart.  Intrigued, I continued snapping pictures and watching what was to unfold.

The infamous pull cart of food
Walking across the porch, pulling the little crate behind, the individual stopped, bent over and began scooping what I can only assume to be grains/corn/seeds - whatever it is one feeds deer out of a box - and pouring it along the benches on the front of the porch.  Scoop after scoop.  Filling first one bench, then another, then a third.

Filling of the troughs - waiting patiently for their meal. Such polite deer.
The deer began nibbling up the tastiness left for them.  Some scrambling along to the next bench to acquire a better spot.

Since that day, it is common for me to observe deer on that porch in the morning as I make our coffee, at noon when I prepare our lunch, and then again in the evening when I start prepping for dinner.

Today was unique.  Before lunch, I had the privilege to watch a small herd of deer slowly meander up our driveway, to the side of our garage.  First a mama and two young does, then a couple young does on their own, next a cluster of 5 deer knowing where lunch would be served, followed by a lone young doe pulling up the rear.

I could only assume they were going to rap on our neighbor's front door.

As time drew near for our own lunch, I made my way to the kitchen. As I glanced out our back window, I took note as the deer from our driveway broke into a sprint.  Bounding their way to the infamous porch, the deer scrambled as the sliding door opened and the food cart made it's way, once again, out to fill the troughs.

A unique turn of events occurred as a second, large herd of deer appeared out of the wooded creek along the side of the house.  Single file, as if on cue,  deer after deer after deer, galloped up the slight slope to make their way to the house that feeds the multitudes -- of deer, that is.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Crying over lunch

As I read a guest author's post on Time Warp Wife's blog, I was humbled and brought to tears.

Quite literally.

As I was reading, Techno-genius walked in the room to thank me for his lunch.  He no more spoke the words with a big smile on his face, when I looked up at him and burst into tears.  Not soft little tears, weeping loud sobs.  I'm sure he wanted to flee, wondering what on earth could cause such a response.

The premise of the article was the unexpected death of a young woman's husband and how we wives need to be mindful of our attitude. We never know if we'll one day be wishing we had "one more time...." with our husbands.  That our time is limited and it's up to us to make each moment count.

So, when my husband thanked me for lunch, I looked at him and realized that could be the last time he does that - I wept.

Bringing to mind my own "poor attitude" I had recently displayed to my husband, I was  struck by how dishonoring I had been.  When I had to hang his pants and put his shirt in the laundry, instead of joyfully serving, I made certain I gave him "what for"; even if it was in jest - about the 2 steps to the closet he could have taken and the basket of dirty clothes around the corner in which he could have put his OWN shirt.

What if that had been the last thing I had the opportunity to say to him? Do for him?  Is that the memory I want to carry with me?  No, it certainly isn't.

Is this how God would have me act?  How He'd want me to respond and interact with my husband?  I don't think so.  As Doug's help meet - the one who completes him - it is my duty, my privilege to encourage him, love him, serve him, respect him, and even submit to and obey him.

As I recalled the words of the young woman who lost her husband, I'm convicted that not only do I want to do what God has commanded me to do, but I want to do it JOYFULLY.  I don't know the day or the hour when my husband will be called home. When he'll no longer be here to leave his pants and shirt on the floor. When I will no longer have the opportunity to make him coffee, cook him his favorite meal, watch the superbowl with  him, discuss my feelings with him, hug him, kiss him, love him here on earth.

In light of this knowledge, I am going to make a concerted effort day in and day out to serve my husband cheerfully; to enjoy the moments we have together now; to cherish his warm embrace, his loving kiss; to be the help meet God called me to be.

Next time I have to hang up his pants and put his shirt in the laundry, instead of sighing or griping over the chores added to my list of things to do, I'm going to smile - maybe even sing a song of praise - because having this task assures me my hubby is still here - for a time - with me on earth.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chicken n' Dumplin's

I love chicken and dumplings, yet, I rarely make them.  I occasionally order them if we eat out, but even then it's not on my "top ten" list.

Craving chicken and dumplings, I scoured Pinterest for recipes.  Undecided as to what form I wanted - flat, rolled out noodle type vs. puffy biscuit type - I printed a plethora of recipes.

In the end I opted for the nice fat, puffy pastry sort of dumplin's. I still had to narrow down my choices. In the end, I decided to combine two recipes and see what happened.

Here's the end result.  As usual, I doubled this.

The Roster:
Chicken and Sauce
3 strips bacon (I used turkey bacon)
4 boneless chicken breasts - diced
3/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper - course ground
1 stick butter
1 medium onion/chopped
1/2 tsp garlic - minced
1/4 C flour
3 C Chicken broth
2 C milk
1 C Heavy whipping cream (I didn't have half-n-half)

1 C whole kernel corn (I used frozen)
1 C mixed frozen vegetables (I had broccoli, squash, carrots, cauliflower blend)


The dumplin's
1 1/2 C biscuit mix
1 C milk
3/4 tsp parsley flakes

Begin by cooking bacon in bottom of large pot.
Remove bacon to plate - crumble when cooled a bit, retaining drippings. (since turkey bacon doesn't yield much drippings, I added a stick of butter while cooking the bacon -- yeah, I know, kinda defeated the health benefits of using turkey bacon, but...) - this was also part of the combining recipes.
Pour in onion, garlic, and chicken into drippings (and butter).
Cook for 15 minutes - cooking chicken through and softening onion.

Next add the chicken broth and all the spices. (I'd suggest more spices as it was a bit on the bland side)
Add the frozen corn and veggies.  Simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour in combination of heavy cream and milk - bring to a boil.
At this time, I added about 1/2 C flour to help thicken the sauce.
Add crumbled bacon.

While waiting for the chicken sauce to come to a boil - make the dumplings.
Combine the biscuit mix and milk along with the parsley in a bowl.  (I needed to add slightly more biscuit mix to my mixture to thicken it a bit -- in the future I may decrease the milk ratio here.  I'd probably add a touch of garlic and onion powder as well - maybe a bit of pepper too. You know, kick up the flavor a tiny.)

Add spoonfuls of dough into boiling chicken mixture.
Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes.
**Do not stir while simmering - dumplings will crumble.**

Serve hot.

The finished product - all puffy and bubbly in the pan
Verdict:  Tasty, especially the dumplings.  Probably needed to add more spices for our family.  We aren't huge fans of bland food. This was borderline.  Adding salt and pepper upon serving made it close to what we prefer.

It was creamy and filling.  Thumbs up.

The kids recommended MORE dumplin's. Not sure my pot could hold more.

Do you have a favorite chicken n' dumplins' recipe your family loves? What sort of pot do you use?  My pot just wasn't quite big enough to make the amount of dumplings my crew desired.




Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wisdom Teeth Removal

The trip to Ft. Collins was uneventful.

Weather was nice. Scenery beautiful.  Company first rate.

Arriving early we made a couple stops to the bigger grocery stores for items we can't find locally.  I must admit, whenever we do this, I covet the produce departments.  So expansive; full of the colors of the rainbow - in fruit and veggie form.

Once checked into the oral surgeon's office, the waiting began.  An emergency surgery was running a little behind.

I'm sure this made Jacob a bit more nervous, but he handled it well and didn't show it.

They called him back.

I was permitted to go with him until he was sedated.  Thrilled to go, but anxious about watching him go under.  I had done this before with him, I knew it would be hard on my mama's heart.

All went smoothly.  I left him, drowsing, in the hands of 3 dental professionals and made my way back to the waiting room with Techno-genius.

I browsed through a couple magazines and read an article or two.  Suddenly the surgeon was standing there stating, "Jacob did great.  We'll wake him up and then you can come on back."

That was fast.

What felt like moments later, we were sitting with our boy.  Still a bit loopy and droopy, but doing well.

The drive home was thankfully unremarkable.  A shamrock shake for the patient and pineapple/mango smoothies for his parents and off we went.

A little nausea kicked in as we drove, but resting his head and closing his eyes resolved it pretty quickly.

Once home, he napped along with the girls (and mom) for a good 2.5 hours.  We finally decided to wake him so he'd sleep that night.

A happy guy all around - a little pain won't keep him down for long.
A dinner of yogurt, pudding, and root beer floats while everyone else had pizza seemed just fine while we watched a movie together. Keeping everyone nice and calm.

Praising God for a successful surgery and praying for quick healing.  Daddy joked with him that he'd have to start Sunday school all over again.... since the surgeon took all his wisdom out.  Ba da dum.

Any suggestions for helping the healing process?  We have an oral rinse, antibiotics, and pain meds. Plan to hand him ice bags in the morning.  Any other wonderful tidbits to try?  What worked for you when you had your wisdom teeth pulled?

His biggest concern?  Not being able to eat "Burger X-Treme" for Sunday lunch.  :-)  Teenage boys.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Launch Day

The wind had calmed.  We were all home.

Could today be THE day?

Launch Day?

Finally?

Yes, today would be Launch Day!!!

After days of waiting, excitement filled the air.

Bethany and Elijah grasped their rocket as well as the alka seltzer tablet and ran outside, shoving feet in boots, arms in jackets along the way.

Siblings and parents trailed behind.

Before I even arrived on the scene with camera in hand, they had the launchpad  set up and daddy was taking group pictures with his phone.

Group photo before launching - everyone looking into the sun - nice.  (Yes, they are in their PJ's - don't judge)
Being well prepared, they had filled 1/3rd of the film canister with water.  As we all stood a safe distance away, the two scientists in training took the lid off the canister; added 1/2 tablet of alka seltzer; replaced the lid; righted the rocket; placed it on the launchpad; and moved themselves out of the launch zone to watch lift off.

10, 9, 8, 7.... would it work?  6, 5, 4.... would the gases produced by mixing the tablet with water be enough? 3, 2, 1!

Waiting w/baited breath...
Blast off!
I wasn't fast enough to get the rocket soaring, but I did snap this shot of the
lid and tablet that were left behind.

Science experiment success!  The rocket soared.  I'm sure it flew a whole...... 2 feet off the ground. :-)

Everyone cheered!

Much to our surprise, the rocket itself was unharmed by the flight.  I see many more rocket launches in our future.

Just one of the multitude of reasons we enjoy homeschooling!  A family event rolled into learning - life as we know it.





Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rocket Launch Away

Science - a favorite in our house -- ESPECIALLY when it's time to do experiments.

Building a rocket was tremendously exciting. Elijah made a list of all the materials necessary.  He even attempted to find "alternatives" when we weren't sure we'd be able to acquire a 35 mm film canister.  Who has film canisters anymore - the world's gone digital.

Fortunately, Aunt Biff had the goods.

The project could move forward..... with gusto... I might add.

Bethany and Elijah worked together since only ONE canister had a lid that fit down inside the cylinder.

They cut, they taped, the folded, they molded. Finally, their rocket was complete. Well, as far as Elijah was concerned.  Bethany had other ideas - it needed to be decorated.  With that, she took to coloring - in elaborate detail - a wonderful rainbow of hues.

As mom, I must say, it's the most beautiful 'rocket' I've ever laid eyes upon.
The ever so colorful "rocket"

Ready to launch, mom had to deter them.  I had to document this flight and I was heading into Fort Collins for Jacob's oral surgery consultation.

Next day -- they were ready, yet again, to launch.  With girls napping, daddy working, and mommy preparing dinner, I thwarted their plans once more.   Promising, however, that Sat would be the day.  Launch day.

Saturday arrived.

Elijah, as soon as everyone was awake, grabbed the rocket. Eyes filled with anticipation he asked if we could head out to launch.

This time, it was daddy who dropped the bad news.  It was too windy to launch. The rocket, if it even made it off the ground, would end up in another county due to the high winds.

Waiting!  Again.

Sunday is out.  We have church all day and the wind gusts are supposed to be even stronger.

Here's praying Monday is calm and we have no other interferences that cause our launch to be scrubbed.

Wind.  Wind.  WIND!  Monday and Tuesday we had wind.

Finally, on Wednesday, the wind subsided.  Will it be launch day?  Stay tuned to see if the rocket launch is finally a go; if it succeeds; how far it flies.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mom needs recycled

Have you ever had one of those days where you just needed to crawl back in bed?  You know, the type of day where you're just so grumpy you can hardly stand yourself?

It's on those days that I've learned to recycle.

Numerous culprits can be guilty for my temperament on such days.  Hormonal swings, too little sleep, haven't eaten, eaten too much of the wrong foods, reactions to someone else's words/actions, or not enough time in God's Word lately.

Unfortunately, I still haven't perfected controlling my moods.  I occasionally bark a little too much at the kids; snip a bit too often at my husband; get cranky more than I should with the annoying, uh hem, dutiful telemarketer.

It's those days - when my disposition is not quite 'sunny' - that I have needed to find a way to prevent myself from becoming too ugly to those I love the most.

I have been known to tell my kids when they are grumpy, irritable, and out of sorts that it's time to be recycled.  When I say that, it usually means they need to take a nap and get some rest.  For the littles this is quite literally SLEEP. For the big kids this is often just a break from whatever activity seems to be triggering the attitude along with some 'quiet time'.

Well rested babies make happy babies.... and apparently mommies too.
It almost always has a positive impact.

I discovered this tactic, similar to Tricks cereal, "Isn't just for kids".

When I find myself scowling too much, getting my panties in a bunch over the smallest matter, griping at the kids or techno-genius over the silliest of circumstances.... I go ahead and recycle myself.


I grab my Bible, put on some comfy clothes, and crawl into bed -- literally.  A little time in God's word, a short nap and my spirt is, more often than not, right as rain.  Or at the very least, improved.

Looks inviting - especially on those days





























What works for you when you need to be recycled?  This is by far the most effective solution I have found.  I'm learning to allow the tasks to be put aside, the excuse that I'll not sleep well that night, be banished.

The manner in which I react and act toward my family - the bonds that can be built or broken - are far more important than finishing the laundry or assuring (yeah right) a good's nights sleep.  A short break from my otherwise grouchy day, to take a little time to read Scripture and rest, is just what the Great Physician ordered.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Mending Broken Fences

Driving down Snowy Range Road, passing ranch lands along the roadside, I occasionally notice broken fences.  Cowboys are quick to mend these fences, else they may lose their livestock - their livelihood.

A typical split rail fence. Used widely out here in the west.
I was reminded of this need to "mend fences" in my relationships recently.  The fences of life.

Grateful for the opportunity to talk openly with a friend, we repaired a fence she didn't even realize was broken.

Some time ago a situation occurred that left me with the impression she was less than thrilled with me.  I discovered life in general had been stressful for her and what I mistook in her attitude toward me, was just her reaction to life as we know it.

Unlike the ranchers of Wyoming - I left the fence unattended.  First just tilting but gradually a split grew further and further into the post.  Wrecking the stability of the overall structure.

During the period of this un-mended fence, my friend and I were polite to one another, we were cordial and kind when we saw one another, but we lost precious opportunities to build a stronger friendship, a deeper bond.  I'd venture to add that some of the closeness we had built up till that fretful time was in fact, lost.

I blame myself for this.  I didn't take the time to rectify that tilting beam.  I withdrew and let time pass without saying anything, without asking any questions, without apologizing for my part in the "rift" I felt existed.

I discovered she was unaware of the break.  Mending?  What mending?

The "problem" I let grow in my mind and heart, assuming she was upset with me, didn't even cause a tip to her fencepost .  If I had said something those many months ago, the lean in our friendship fence would have been righted quickly.   No mending necessary.

As it stands, I'm thankful that fences CAN be mended. That friendships CAN be healed.

All it really needed was a little adjusting, but since I let it sit, sloping and unattended, it resulted in needing repair.

1 John 4:17
 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.