Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School - Take 2

Happy to announce......

I DID learn my lesson.

Our back to school day 2 was a success!!! {as was day 3}

A little tweaking of lesson arrangements for the littles; less computer glitches over all; fewer on-line sessions throughout the day; simply being a tad bit more familiar with the scope of the curriculum and on-line school; and it was 'smooth sailing' for the day.

Everyone was happy.

No frazzled mama running helter skelter.  Just seamless teaching, learning, having fun.


I was nervous that first day.  I wasn't so sure I could do this -- teaching three littles; in 3 consecutive grades; while providing support to three bigs on their day to day lessons.  Nor was I sure I WANTED to  continue.

After today, however, I'm back in my homeschool happy place.

I am actually enjoying all the prep, teaching, and grading that accompanies our crazy homeschool lifestyle.

Granted, right now I feel like my days consist of preparing meals, teaching lessons, preparing more meals, tossing in some laundry, teaching lessons, grading lessons, preparing yet another meal, then prepping for teaching the next day, following by a little more laundry.

Not sure when the house is going to get cleaned, but.... I'll figure it out.  Only took me ONE day to get back on track with this whole teaching thing.  I'm sure I'll manage to figure out how to get the vacuuming, dusting, and mopping done as well.  :-)

Senior!!!  Wait, that can't be.  So proud of Jacob.
Things went so well today, I even managed to get 1st day of school pictures -- a day late.


8th grade already!  Such a beautiful young lady!

Also in 8th grade.  Time is flying TOOOO fast.

Charity in her seat, ready to go.

Selah in her 'assigned' seat.

Trinity in 2nd grade.  Just look at that pile of books.

Ok, cuteness award!
Selah in Kindergarten and Charity in 1st grade.
They wanted a picture together.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School - Joy or Woe?

Excitement abounded as the 'first day of school' arrived.

The littles were especially thrilled to begin their day.

I had just warmed up my cup o' joe, when they all bounded around requesting to start their lessons.

Who was I to negate their happiness?

With that, before 8 am we began another year of school -- at home.

The older kids, although not quite clamoring to begin lessons, also got an early start following breakfast and the dog walk.

We've done this for quite a few years.  This was NOT our first rodeo.

But..... I think it ranks up there as one of the most challenging and frazzling.

Homeschooling began for our family when Jacob entered school.  I've been the formal teacher now for 11 years.  Seems this should all be old hat by now, right?

Not.  This.  Year.

Moving to a new state.  Starting a new on-line charter school.  A new curriculum.  Having all 6 children doing school.  (First time ever!)   The kicker......... having a Kindergartener, a 1st grader, and a 2nd grader all. at. the. same. time.  Not to mention 2 - 8th graders and a SENIOR! made for a less than smooth morning, er, eh, day.

Jump back!!!  How can that be?  This is our LAST year with Jacob.  He graduates after this year.  Nope.  I want to continue in my denial.

Maybe that contributed to my stress this day?  Yeah, that's it.  I was just distraught thinking of our oldest child being a senior.

Oh how I wish it were that simple.

Nope, instead it was the myriad of computer glitches that plagued the start of our day and seemed to continue throughout the duration of our lessons.

We did discover that many were the fault of the on-line school and not user error.  Phew! Those were ironed out - mostly - by the end of the day.

Techno-genius to the rescue on the couple issues we DID have on our end. Internet connections hooked up incorrectly, or some such thing.  So glad I have my Techno-genius to handle those tasks.

In addition to the 'technical' difficulties, we encountered some 'logistical' difficulties.  Specifically, MOM LOGISTICS!

I just couldn't be WITH all three girls at one time.  Never mind should the older kids need something. They are learning at different levels and I had a poor plan in place for teaching math, language arts, and phonics.  In my infinite wisdom, I had those 3 subjects being taught to all the littles at the same time. Despite them having VERY different skills and lessons to cover. Ha.  Figure THAT one out.  One teacher, 3 girls, 3 grades, 3 different lessons for each subject.  Hmmmmmmmm......

I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off.  Boy do I feel it now.  LOL!

Rookie mistake!  Not sure how this 'seasoned homeschool mom' managed that, but.....

Tomorrow - lets just say we're starting with music and art.  While onc completes their project, another one will work on math. When that one is ready to do some independent work, another young lady will have some phonics lessons. As she is prepped to trace letters and practice handwriting, I'll work with the 3rd little princess on Language Arts.

And so it'll go.  An intricate dance. Weaving in and out with the various subjects allowing time for mom to teach, kids to learn, yet avoiding the conflict of needing to be in 3 places at once.  More if the older three need any guidance.

Prayerfully, the computer issues will be minimal and THANKFULLY some of the 'first day' orientations are out of the way.  Now, we can get on with learning!!!

We do love homeschooling -- or schooling at home.  Days like today, however, sure made that tiny little school in our new hometown look slightly appealing.

Blessed to have Techno in my corner; cheering me on; reminding me of how each year the first week is a bit challenging; how as the days progress we get into a groove; we fall in sync; and things smooth out.

Mama relaxes.  Kids recall information previously learned.  We get back to ENJOYING homeschooling!

I'm banking on that day arriving.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to School Shopping

As Aug careened toward it's end, bringing summer 2013 to a halt, everyone started posting their back to school shopping woes.

Seems schools are asking parents to shell out more and more funds for back to school supplies. Long gone are the days of "whatever box of crayons you could afford" and here to stay are the days of "everyone must be equal and have the same brand/size/color."

This seems to add to the overall total dramatically.  Everyone has to buy the name brand to keep it all 'fair'.

Apparently now you also may not even get the box of pencils and markers you picked out with your mom while shopping.  It all goes into a 'collective box' to be dolled out by the teacher the first week of school.

What's the fun in that?

I remember the excitement of getting my own box of 24 crayons -- it was even more special when mom splurged and bought me the 64 or better yet the 124 box of colorful wonder.  (I also remember when that was 'outlawed' b/c not everyone had a BIG BOX of crayons.  Yep, even way back then we were starting our political correctness.  It just didn't yet have a label attached.

As I read post after post of the exuberant amount of money being spent on supplies for kids to head back to school, I began my own mental list of what we needed to start OUR homeschool year.

Yes, we still need school supplies, but before I head to the store, I head to our shelves and desks to see what we still have from LAST year.

Armed with knowledge of what we could re-use from the previous school year, what I had already purchased over the year on clearance, I sat down to write out our L-I-S-T!

Heading to town for other supplies and groceries I decided to roll school supply shopping into my errands.

When all was said and done, I spent about $30 for 'supplies' for all 6 kiddos to successfully start their lessons.  In addition I purchased another $30 in 'storage containers' to finish off our schoolroom make-over.  If I add in the paint and materials I purchased for our re-organization, my total was at approximately $145.00.

I believe that's LESS than many posts I saw that had purchased JUST paper/pencil type supplies (maybe a calculator as well) for 2 kids.

I'm stoked!

It makes me happy to be able to save that money.

Our kids are thrilled with the few 'new' supplies they received -- paper, ear buds, a few notebooks, and new mechanical erasers for the big kids; a notebook, crayons, markers, colored pencils, and an eraser for the littles and a few pencil sharpeners to share.

Just one more perk to homeschooling, I guess.

In addition to fewer and cheaper school supplies - we didn't need to go buy a new wardrobe either. We're still wearing our shorts/T-shirt/skirts from the summer.  I saw another homeschoolers post about getting new PJ's for the start of the school year.  What a FUN idea.

What are ways you save on back to school shopping?  We re-use what we had from previous years, buy on clearance throughout the year, hit the big back to school sales and purchase 'off brand' on many items.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Decorating for everyday life

I like to read blogs and articles about home decorating.

If you peruse my Pinterest account you'll find a plethora of decorating ideas and styles that I find appealing.

I even wrote a blog post about my own decorating desires and 'less than exemplary' decorating sense.

Today, however, as I was reading a blog and looking at pictures of houses this writer loved for their decorating success, it struck me.  Where do you put 'everyday items' when you decorate?

As I viewed these pictures and then glanced around my own living room I pondered, "Where are the bottles of lotion, the tissue boxes, the laptops and phones, printers, purses, bags, etc?"

Not only that, but.....

Displayed on tables, dressers, mantels were beautiful 'trinkets'; vases, picture frames, mirrors and the like.  My minds eye immediately caught a glimpse of our own little girls rolling around on the half deflated exercise ball in our living room.  Hmmmmm..... wonder how long those pretties would last around here?

Where are the 'decorating' blogs for us 'everyday' sorts?  For those of us with 'real life' objects cluttering our space?  For those with little people who would inadvertently break or mar those beautiful decorative items?  For people like....... well....... ME?

Hmmmmm.... maybe there's an audience there.  Maybe someone I know could start such a blog.  Blaze the path for the rest of us so we too could have aesthetically pleasing homes without such a 'don't touch', impractical feel.

Any takers? Anyone out there have a nicely decorated, yet functional home?  Someone with kids and kids' stuff for which to find homes amidst that decorating style?

I'd follow such a blog in a heartbeat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Projects - our week in review!

With Techno away for work, I found myself up to my elbows in projects.

Seems whenever he travels and is away for more than a day or so, I get myself into these predicaments. Guess that's how I cope with missing him.

Just. keep. busy.

Before he left, I mentioned I might try to hang the insulation in the shed.  Off we went to the hardware stores to purchase said insulation so we knew we were getting the right size, type, etc.

He left Sun after lunch.  I snuggled with a sick Selah that day.  Made for a good day of rest before my whirlwind week of 'hard labor'!

Monday was spent measuring, cutting, putting up, stapling in insulation between the rafters of the shed frame.  Phew - hot and itchy work.

Tue was dental appointments all morning. By the time we returned home well after lunch, I just didn't have the 'oomph' to work in the shed.  Geesh - getting older causes one to need to rest.  LOL!

Wed morning I was determined to finish up that shed.  After all, I now had grandiose plans of re-organizing the school room.  {School does start in two weeks, ya' know.  One now that I'm finally getting around to writing this post}

And........ I......... DID!!
What I was tackling!

Clearing out and putting up first panel.

One wall done!!!  Yeah, may not be pretty, but hopefully it's functional!

Another wall complete.

Slightly  more challenging working around electrical wires and the propane furnace. Yikes!
ALL walls complete!  Phew!

As I finished up the shed, I instructed the kiddos to clear off their desks and move them to the shed for painting.  

Phase I of project school room make-over was about to begin!

Unfortunately, I didn't take ANY pictures of this step.  Silly me.   

What I did:   I painted the two long boards that make up all 4 girls desks. These boards sit atop filing cabinets to make a long close to 18 in 'desk'.  I also painted Elijah's smaller board that makes his desk. Finally, simply because it was there, I had paint, and it needed to be 'freshened up' I also painted Doug's desk that will one day move into the shed when we get it completed.

This became quite the fiasco as one of my two cans of chalkboard paint had clumped and was left unusable.  A trip to town for more paint ensued.  But.... I finished my project!

As those dried, I began sorting/organizing all that was left in the school room.  It was at this point that I had my 'ah ha' moment. 

 IF I'm going through all this trouble; cleaning, sorting, organizing, painting desks, hanging shelves; I might as well...... PAINT THE WHOLE ROOM!

Besides, I justified, I have 5 gallons of grey paint from our old house to use up.  Voila!  I was off and running.

Phase II began.

Everything came out of the school room. Walls were washed.  Ladders were erupted.  Paint was carried in.

Opening the monster container of paint, I saw it had separated.  Grabbing one of my kids wooden swords (as I had apparently gotten rid of my large paint stirrers in the move), I thrust it into the vat of liquid only to come to an abrupt halt.  The paint had solidified.  Hmmmmm....   A call to the hardware store indicated it had probably frozen (well, yeah, it was -21 degrees many days this past winter) and now that certain chemicals are banned from use, paint is relegated ruined once it freezes.


Disappointment welled within.

Techno-genius approved the purchase of more paint so I could finish what I'd started. So much for the element of surprise.

Off to town, AGAIN, for supplies.

Seal Point grey was my color of choice.  

"How much paint do I need?"  I ask.  Which was met with, "How big is your room."

Oh yeah. I knew there was something I wanted to do before I came in.   MEASURE the room.

Pondering...... I came up with "about 8ft by 4 or so feet."

One gallon should be plenty.

Home, half the day gone, I was determined to get the first coat of paint on -- maybe even the second -- all before bedtime Thursday night.  

Ha!  Vaulted ceilings, lots of hard wood beams to paint around, trim.  It took much longer than anticipated.  I did get the first coat finished by 11pm or so.  Dropping at that point into my recliner to send yet another message to Techno-genius.  

I was going to need more paint.  Seems I misjudged the size of the room by....... about...... HALF!  UUGH!

Fortunately we had an appointment in town so we were heading to Laramie anyway Fri morning.  

Another stop at Ace was in our future.

FINALLY, with paint in hand, we arrived home and I FINISHED the school room painting.  PHEW!  This made hanging insulation look like a piece of cake.

Next up...  Phase III.... Putting it all together!

In came the file cabinets.  Next the desk top boards.  Finally all the books, supplies, computers, etc.

Friday night was yet another 'late night' cram session of sorts.  Even Jacob stayed up late.  He's a lot like his techno-savvy daddy and wanted to help put up the computers.  I let him unpack them, but nixed hooking them all up.  It. Was. His. Bedtime.  Past, really. But, it was still summer and the help was beneficial.  :-)

Sat morning arrived earlier than I preferred.  My body was wiped.  But, I mused, "today is Techno's day of returning.  I MUST GET MOVING."

With the kids help, we managed to not only finish up the schoolroom, but also cleaned the rest of the house as well.  Straightening, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping.  Plus laundry was kept up to date.

Here's the final reveal of the schoolroom make-over.

From the back door looking in toward Elijah's desk.  Alphabet chart and reward chart on wall.  
Buckets for supplies bordering walkthrough.

Looking from front sliding doors to back door.  Selah, Charity, Bethany and my areas.

Elijah's desk area - new painted shelf and desk.  All his stuff within easy reach.

Trinity's desk area.  New shelves and painted desk.  So proud of myself.  Never knew I could hang shelves so proficiently.  LOL!  All her new supplies are ready to go.

Selah's desk area.  Her books are underneath the desk to give her more room on top for 'work'.  Even has her reward chart on her filing cabinet drawer.
Charity's area.  She's so excited to use her new supplies.  Notice her books neatly in crates underneath as well.
All her manipulatives and art supplies easily accessible.
The 'blank' space between Selah and Charity is where your's truly will reside during teaching time.

Finally, Bethany's work space.  New shelf (she'll be so excited) and a painted desk.  All her books at her finger tips. Still deciding if crates UNDER the desk would be better. 

Our library books in my new Thrity-one tote.  Easy to grab to return and pick up.  Not to mention...... IT MATCHES!

That was our week without Techno-genius home.  I accomplished lots and LOVE the results.  Kids are excited to start school.  We're excited to get the shed converted to an office.  YIPPEE!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Green Eyed Monster

I've been struggling with jealousy this week.  I guess that's what one might call it.  The Green Eyed Monster.

Hubby is in Ohio for work and I'm here with all the kiddos -- which has actually been good, overall.  Yes, we miss daddy, but it hasn't been overly stressful.  Praise God.

However, I've read a couple blogs and facebook posts lately of others buying bigger, better houses.  Their old house selling quickly (unlike ours) resulting in them needing to move before they even had a place for which TO move.

As I read these accounts, although happy for those involved, I felt a twinge.  That monster was rearing his ugly head.

What's wrong with me?

I love our new home in the mountains.

So why am I coveting these nice, modern, spacious homes?

Maybe because I'm in the midst of 2 major home projects?  {I'll be blogging about those in the days to come} While Techno-genius is out of town?  Because our old house has yet to actually sell?

It's comical, really.  Part of our reasoning for moving here was to simplify, to downsize, to be more financially prudent.

Hence, it caught me off guard to be envious of those upsizing.

God reminded me of HIS plan.  For ME.  Our family.

It's not the same as the plan he has for others - those buying newer, bigger, fancier houses - that may be the plan He has for them.

But for us...... it's a smaller home ..... in the mountains.  A simpler way of life.  Homesteading -- {prayerfully}.

After my mini-pity-party, I was comforted to know God continues to be in control.  His plans for us are good.

It's not easy to wait on our house to sell.   To NOT have funds to purchase our chickens and goats, to start our homesteading endeavors; but....  God continues to provide our needs. Daily.

Although I may admire the shiny newness of others homes; the 3rd bathroom;  the basement;  the storage; as we transform our new house into our home, I'm truly in love with our uncomplicated lifestyle and existence.

Having less space means less junk.... which means less to clean up, put up, and deal with.  I'm a huge fan of that.

For now, I've moved on.  Thrilled for those in my circle who are getting their dream homes but also content and joyful for MY dream home.

The 'what will be' Williams' Homestead.

The mountainous views that greet us every morning.  The herds of elk, antelope, and deer I see as I drive to town.  The bears trying to break into our house. The skunks and raccoons we continue to trap.

Ahhhhh..... I feel better.  Thanks for letting me hash things out.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Got milk?

One of the adventures we hope to partake in, sooner than later, is owning our own chickens and dairy goats.

In preparation for that, we thought it prudent to be sure everyone likes goat's milk or at the very least tolerates it enough to have it 'grow on them'.

I've searched on-line for places to purchase goat's milk to 'taste' to no avail.

Finally, searching craigslist for dairy goats to price how much we're looking at when we do take the plunge, I found it.  Someone selling goat's milk.

I contacted them and within days, had set up a meeting place to get a gallon of milk!


Bringing 4 quarts of milk home, Trinity was chomping at the bit to try it.

Dinner rolled around.  I poured everyone a half cup of the beverage.

Bravely, Elijah took the first sip.


"Mmmm, it's good.  It tastes...... like..... regular milk.  Just creamier."


Everyone else emboldened by his comments began taking sips.

The consensus -- WE. LIKE. GOAT'S. MILK!!!

Elijah then commented, "We should buy goats next month."

The thought of such milk each and every meal must be appealing.

Here's praying we can move forward with our plans ASAP -- just need our house in Ohio to officially sell.  Sigh!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

We caught a bear --- of sorts

You've read about our 'bear intruder'. That was quite the adventure.

The game warden mentioned smelling a skunk when he came to our rescue the night of the bear break-in.

We assumed said skunk had just been passing through and the two 'squabbled'.

Well.... seems we may have been wrong.

Having our propane pipes checked for leaks, our friend opened our crawl space door in the kids' bathroom only to get a face full of 'skunk spray smell'.  A STRONG scent of it.

He looked at me with a grimace and stated, "You have skunks living under your house!"


He didn't see them, but he could sure smell them.

We called the county trapper who came out later that week and set up traps.

Instructions were given on how to check to see if we caught a skunk.  Walk WAY around so as not to scare the skunk else you get sprayed.  Fun Times!!!

Peering out the window the next day both traps appeared to be tripped.

Tiptoeing around the garage to come at the traps from the front, from a distance Techno and I squinted to see WHAT was in the traps.

One appeared empty, the other had a critter. Fortunately I brought my camera with my telephoto lens so we didn't have to get too close to see WHAT type critter was there.

It..... was...... a....... raccoon.

Hmmmmm.....  we managed to catch our bear after all -- sorta.  Raccoons ARE related to the bear family.  LOL!

Taking away the raccoon the country trapper left another trap along with the empty one to see what we'd catch next.

Again, we found both traps tripped.

A bit braver, I ventured out to see what we'd caught THIS time.

Much to my surprise, we had another raccoon and..... a little skunk.

Lots of instructions to the kids to 'stay clear' of the traps lest they get sprayed cascaded from Techno and myself.

The kids were out playing and I suddenly smelled..... skunk!

Certain they had gotten too close or the neighbor dog had come over and pestered the critters, I walked outside.

The traps were gone with a new 'set one' taking their place.  I guess the trapper arrived unannounced and took the critters away.  He warned us that moving the trap would result in the skunk 'defending' itself.

Phewey!  Glad I don't have THAT job!!!

The next morning the trap was empty. Guess we'll see if we catch anything else.

Maybe a fox?  A badger?  A jackrabbit?

........and the winner is........... A............ SKUNK!!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Solo Parenting for a Week

With Doug heading to Ohio for a week of work, it was going to be 'just the kids and I'!

Sunday we were supposed to head into church, then lunch with daddy before he drove off to the Denver airport.

Plans changed when Selah came into our bedroom before 7 acting a bit 'less than herself'.  Eventually she said, "I don't feel well."

When pressed, she admitted her tummy was feeling squirrelly.

We decided to give her some crackers and see how the morning progressed.

Well -- just as she indicated, she ended up throwing up while waiting for her breakfast to appear.

She and I would stay home.  No sense sharing our germs with the world.

Techno and the older kids went on to church, bringing back lunch after.  {Gave us a little more time with daddy at home before he left for his trip to Ohio.}

Finishing our subway sandwiches, Techno loaded up the truck and headed out.  Tears fell as the girls hugged him and watched him walk outside.  (The big kids will miss him too, but they don't usually cry when mom and dad leave anymore.)  LOL!! More tears as his truck drove away.  Admittedly, I almost cried myself. This will be the first time the kids and I have been 'on our own' in the mountains.  Ha!  Wonder what the girls would have done had mama burst into tears and chased after daddy's truck. :-/

It was a low key day with Selah not feeling well.  We watched movies, she ate crackers and applesauce and an occasional piece of toast, Wii games were played.  Anything that enabled her to 'just sit'.  Energy was low.

The big kids were a great help with household chores while I sat holding the youngest precious bundle in our family.

By bedtime, she seemed MUCH improved.

Techno arrived in Ohio safe and sound -- just late.

Monday arrived bright and early.  At 6:20 am, Selah appeared stating, "Charity doesn't feel well."

And so the week began......

Friday, August 9, 2013

Meal Snaffoos

This week has been the week of 'no menus'.  No plans for what we'd eat each meal of the day.

Admittedly, I prefer having a menu planned out for the week - now that it's become a habit.

Each day I found myself scrambling come lunch and dinner because I had NOT planned ahead.

Well - I decided Wed to 'make a plan' for the rest of the week.  Not as detailed as I usually do, but at least a mental picture of what I'd make each lunch and dinner for Wed - Sat night.

My agenda was set.  I had a 'rough draft' of what we'd be eating for the main two meals for each day of the week until we went to the store again on Sat afternoon.

Preparing to start dinner Thur night, I walked into the kitchen and grabbed the recipe I had printed off.

Cabbage roll casserole!  This would use up some of our MANY heads of cabbage left from Bountiful Baskets and be a healthy, filling meal to boot.

Gathering all my ingredients I first started with the frozen homemade tomato sauce in the freezer. Next the hamburger meat (also in the freezer -- had less than expected, but figured it would suffice).  Finally I headed to the pantry to grab the rice.  I ALWAYS have rice.  Well..... guess what...... I. WAS. OUT!!!

Once again, my mind raced frantically, knowing that if I'd PLANNED better, I would have realized I was out of rice and would have purchased it at the grocery last weekend.  UUGH!

What to do, what to do?

I searched all the shelves in hopes a small bag or box of rice was 'hiding'.  NO luck!

Finally, I conceded that my cabbage roll casserole was a flop.

Back to the fridge I went.  Scanning, thinking, slumping.

Techno was willing to take us all to the Bear Tree for dinner, but I'm REALLY trying NOT to go out to eat -- to save that money.

I opened the freezer.  What do I see?  A nice big bag of frozen BBQ pulled pork/chicken. When we had this last, we had plenty of leftovers, so I had frozen it for 'just a time as this'.


With some of that cabbage I whipped up some coleslaw; chopped up kale and mustard greens and made 'chips'; tossed 1.5 bags of frozen blueberries from pappaws garden into a pot of water with some sugar; while that came to a boil I mixed up some biscuit dough to make dumplings for that huge pot of blueberries.

Dinner was served.  Didn't end up taking me any more time than the cabbage roll casserole; still used up some of that cabbage; AND I made the kids OOOOBER THRILLED!  They LOVE blueberry dumplings.

Still - I AM returning to my meal planning ways.  I prefer knowing what's on deck for each meal -- makes my frustration levels much lower.  The kids also enjoy having a preview of meals to come; (not to mention, preferring mom's frustration levels to be lower.)  LOL!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

No Menu

Due to an overly full freezer; a wonderful array of fruits and veggies from Bountiful Baskets; and an amply stocked pantry we decided to not do an official menu this week but rather 'use up' what we had on hand.

We still needed a few items from the grocery.  Milk.  Cereal.  Toothpaste and the like, but... overall, we planned to simply 'wing it' with groceries we currently possessed.

This was all fine and good. Great really.


Without my menu - I. was. floundering.  Guess I've grown accustomed to 'planning out' our weekly meals.

Monday arrived.  No plan for breakfast - cereal and poptarts became the plan. :-)

VBS all morning for the little girls.

Home for lunch.

I went to the fridge to view my menu.


There wasn't one.

Oh yeah.  We are clearing out our fridge, pantry and freezer.

A quick scan of the fridge.  A moment of thought as I considered what might be in the freezer.

And...... blueberry smoothies, banana bread, and salad erupted as our lunch meal.

It was quite good.  Removed some leftovers from the refrigerator.  Used up some yogurt and frozen berries.  Was healthy to boot.

Ah, next... Dinner.

Yes, this meal too came together fairly easily (although, I cheated a bit:  We had originally thought we were having guests so I had 'pre-planned' this meal. They cancelled so we simply had the meal anyway.)

I will admit -- even though it's worked out fine; meals have been prepared; food has been used -- it adds a bit of stress as I 'ponder' what to make; spend time thawing b/c no plan was in place.

I guess that just means I need to make a weekly menu plan based on what we have NOW and move forward.

Better get on that seeing it's now Thur and I've continued this 'fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants' approach most of the week.  :-)  But... we've not gone hungry, we've continued to 'use up' some food, and it's all been good and healthy fare.

Can't complain - but I have to admit, I prefer having a plan of attack.  So... next week I'm going back to my menu planning before the week starts.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pie Iron 'Pies' and Kids Camp Out

Since we were 'rained out' on our last day of camping, we never managed to make our 'pie iron' pies.  We had intended to make chicken pot pies followed by fruit dessert pies for our Sunday lunch.

The ingredients sat on our kitchen counters for the week following our camping trip.

Every night our plans were thwarted for making the pies in our fire pit in the front yard.


Too late after a trip to Colorado.

Errands and church in town.

More rain.

Finally, Friday we decided we'd call our 'planned fire' in so the fire department would not show up with hoses blazing and put out our little pie iron fire.

Bread buttered. Chicken concoction mixed and waiting.  Pie irons seasoned and 'fired'.  Fruit filling prepped. Paper plates ready.  Powdered sugar set.  Chairs assembled around the fire.

We. Were. Ready!

Techno and I tag-teamed and managed to get all 4 irons going - one after the other so all the girls had their meals ready in quick succession.  Littles decided 'cheese only' was what they desired.  Everyone else had 'chicken pot pie with cheese'.  (After tasting some 'leftover' cheese pie iron pies, Techno determined they were 'quite good'!)

Tasty little treats, albeit, some snafoos occurred with some sticking and slight burning.  We'll get the hang of it.  Apparently there's this magical line of done enough to not stick or burned so much it won't stick.  In between results in tasty, but messy fare.  Not exactly a 'pie' but more a 'mound' of ooey, gooey, goodness.

As everyone finished off their 'savory' pies, we began the fruit filled pies.  THOSE were a hit!!!

Gobbling 'em up, the girls asked if we were going to 'camp out'?  After all, the last time we cooked over the fire in the front yard we had our 'trial run' of camping without plugging in.

Gauking at each other, Techno and I both responded - "No, we weren't planning on it."  Pause.  "But you kids can sleep in the camper, if you want."

"YES!!!!"  Cheered the girls.  A bit of a pause from the older kids.

"I will if you are," went around the circle.  Eventually, all agreed to sleep out in the camper.

Ah, spontaneous fun! Gotta love it.

A quick shower for the girls -- remember those fruit pies? Well, let's just say they 'needed' a shower after finishing those. :-)

Everyone gathered their 'stuff'. Blankets. Pillows. Special stuffed animals.  Dream lights.

Finally they all made their way, after lots of hugs and kisses, out to the camper.

Tucked in. Doors locked. Safe and sound. Techno and I did some reading and surfing before turning in ourselves --- to our comfy king sized, pillow top, bed.  ;-)

All was quiet as we closed the windows. Put down the blinds.  Turned out the lights.

Even Apollos was in on the fun -- sleeping with Elijah in his camper bed. Just imagine, BIG dog, tiny bed, poor Elijah. :-)  I'm sure they both loved EVERY minute of it!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Is Pink Nanny Done

Our youngest's security blanket - better known as 'pink nanny' - was in the wash.  She wanted it to be done so she could have it back her in possession.  NOW!

Mind you, she was the one that wanted it washed, she just wanted it done instantaneously, which we all know is quite impossible when it comes to washing and drying fabric of any kind.

It seems after our 'bear' incident, she is a bit insecure.

I was sitting in our bedroom reading, when I heard her.  "Pink nanny done?  Pink nanny done?"  Repeatedly as she meandered around the house apparently looking for me to answer her mournful question.

Assuring her 'pink nanny' would be done soon, I smiled as I checked to see how much time remained on the dryer; giving her a little squeeze to help 'tide her over' till her precious 'nanny' was within her grasp.

Amazing that a little blanket, not even big enough to cover her entire body, brings such comfort to her tiny being.

This made me think of the things we 'adults' use for security.

  • money
  • health
  • loved ones
  • our home
  • our belongings
  • a job
  • weapons
  • friends
  • prestige
  • status
  • our intelligence
  • our talents
  • information
  • knowledge
  • education
  • church
  • faith
  • and hopefully, GOD/Jesus/The Holy Spirit
Yes, I have to admit, having a bear attempt to break into our kitchen was rattling.  That night especially.

The thought of potentially having a bear wandering around the house with us IN IT was nerve wracking to say the very least.

However, after it was all said and done; once we knew what precautions to take; when all the windows were shut; when the 'harm' was past; I didn't struggle to sleep much.  I wasn't shaking and quaking in my boots all night,  the next day, week.

I was....... calm.

Upon observing Selah needing her 'pink nanny' I further acknowledged my own security blanket --- Jesus Christ.  He's always with me.  I don't have to wait for the washer and dryer to complete their cycle to have him back in my hands to feel secure.  He's ALWAYS there.  HE'S the one that gave us a dog to alert us.  HE gave me the where-with-all to realize what was going on - even at 2am, to ACT.  HE had Doug wake from a dead sleep to a crazy yelling wife and instantaneously know to call 911.

He. Was. Present!

Just a prayer away.

Not even that far when you can't pray for yourself. The Holy Spirit is then there to intercede on our behalf.  I'm ashamed to say I don't know if I DID pray that night before I started heckling the bear, before I yelled to wake my slumbering hubby, before I 'broke down' in our boys' room.

None-the-less -- God knew.  He provided.  He WAS my security blanket.  He protected.

That's comforting.

That's awe inspiring.

I'm glad I have Jesus in my life.  My heart.  My mind.  My 'pink nanny' is NEVER out of reach.  I can FOREVER feel the warmth and comfort He provides.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mother/Daughter Day

Having been invited to a 'girls' luncheon' with some extended relatives on Doug's side, Bethany and I headed into Laramie.

We chatted most of the drive.

Is she excited about school starting?  Yes, but a bit nervous; new curriculum; the year before high school and all.  

Does she like living in Wyoming?  Yep, loves the beauty, her new friends, our new church.

Then the conversation turned to deeper topics.

Apparently at camp, our pastor's wife discussed 'gathering information' rather than 'picking a husband'. I found it intriguing that my girl brought this up as I was thinking about discussing 'what to look at when observing boys you may be interested in.'

Coinkidink?  I think not.

We discussed watching how a boy treats others - his siblings, his parents, his friends, the 'less popular' kids; how he talks to his parents, siblings, and friends; what his dad is like; how his parents interact; how he responds to different situations.

This was a fun, albeit, throat clenching talk.  I mean, this is my baby. She's only 13.  I'm no where NEAR ready to be thinking about her 'gathering information' regarding a future husband.  AACK!!!

On we went to the lunch.  A fun, but quiet time for Bethany.  She observed and listened, but looked vaguely like a deer caught in the headlights whenever anyone actually spoke to her.  She'd smile, nod or shake her head and quietly respond.  She was appropriate, cordial, sweet..... just timid.   I had to smile.

Sweet, innocent, a bit shy due to not knowing anyone but Mom, Aunt Biff, and Cousin Jean.  No other 'youngin's' were in the group.

Upon leaving, we made our way downtown to meander around.  Mom and daughter time.

We browsed through the thrift store - finding a belt for Elijah.  Bethany's late birthday gift for him.

Then we simply walked, held hands, window shopped, and gabbed our way through town.

Getting a bit warm, we decided to finally head home.  

A special treat of a strawberry banana smoothie for Bethany and a carmel frappe for mom seemed a fitting end to our little jaunt.

Our 'treats' as we headed back to the mountains!  What a fun day together.
I relish these little tidbits of opportunities to spend quality time with my kiddos.  Especially my older ones as time is running short.

As Bethany pointed out -- only 5 more years and she'll possibly be heading off to college.  UUGH!  That's really NOT.  THAT.  FAR.  OFF!!!

Until then, I'll steal away any precious moments like this that I can.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

'Breaking and Entering Bear' caught?

Yesterday we finally had a chance to contact the local game warden to find out about our 'bear intruder'.

As you may recall, we had a young cinnamon colored black bear attempt to 'help himself' to the food in our kitchen.

Ripping through the kitchen screen, knocking over chairs, clawing curtains yet..... he was just a bit to small to make it all the way in our window.  FORTUNATELY!!

Well, either that or....... me yelling and the dog barking startled him adequately that he meandered off - deciding the popcorn he smelled just wasn't substantial enough to make such an entry worth it.  LOL!

Anyhoo - they put the live bear trap in our front yard the day before we left on our camping trip. When we arrived back home Sunday the trap was gone.

Due to the traps disappearance, we assumed a) the bear had been trapped in it while we were gone and moved up in the mountains or b) he had been seen somewhere else - possibly breaking into another house - and the trap had been moved there.

Upon calling, we discovered the bear HAD in fact been trapped and relocated high into the mountains - where he'll prayerfully stay.  Away from homes, away from easy access food. Where he can learn to forage as he should - just like the rest of the bears.  No more 'box' dinners for him.

We were a bit disappointed to not SEE him trapped and get a fun picture, but glad he was trapped and didn't have to be harmed to be relocated.  Simply caught 'im in the live trap, hooked it up to a truck, and drove him up the mountain --- somewhere ---- to release.

Sounds easy right?  Maybe that should be my next job.  HAHAHAHAHA!!!