Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Harvest Farm Fun

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

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

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

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

The corn maze was our first adventure.

We're heading in.

From above - finding their way.

Next we took a few 'fun pics'.

The giant rocking chair.

Even the mom's got in on the fun.

Then the kids jumped on/off hay bales.

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

Wait for me!!!!

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


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

Awww... he's so cute!

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

These guys were happy to be pet.

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

Look how cute!  And the little houses?

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

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

Who knew a calfs fur was so soft.

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

Popcorn and pigs.....

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

....apparently quite the combination.

A barrel train ride - what fun!

Ready, aim, FIRE!

Ladies first!  She did a smashing job.

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

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

Not so challenging for the
big kids.

Getting ready to rope.

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

Nice form.... just needs a horse.

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

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

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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kitchen Chaos....

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

This really was a LOGICAL decision.

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

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

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

I attacked the task with gusto.

EVERYTHING came out of the space.

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

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

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

Check.  Check. And check.

It looked nice.

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

Grand plan.

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

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

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

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

The worst part?

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

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

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

At least we're consistent.  LOL!

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

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

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

College Visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob was sold.

An engineering school!

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

He was invigorated.

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

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

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

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

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

So.     We.      Thought!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

God's Amazing Timing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Amazing. God in action, yet again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Button Memories

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

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


Oh the memories that came flooding back.

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

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

Buttons. were. fun!!!

Such fond memories.

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

Yet...... the memories remained.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who wouldn't think these are 'treasures'?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Craft Room Nook


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

Let the craft/sewing nook organization begin!

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

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

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

I thought I had done a decent job.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our Latest Adventure! Caution: graphic for some

Good friends of ours recently went hunting and shot an elk.

They asked if we'd like to give our kiddos the opportunity to help 'butcher' it.

Well, why not?  When we go hunting next year, we'll save a whole boatload of money if we learn to cut it up into steaks ourselves rather than paying a butcher to do it.

So.........  Off we went.

I 'supervised' and took pictures.
The elk, hanging, waiting to be 'cut up'.

Translation:  I came out once in a while to watch what they were doing, ask a couple questions, and snap a few photos.  Otherwise.... I sat in the house enjoying tremendous relationship building fellowship with my friend while the hubbies and older kids hacked at the elk meat.  ;-)

Doug getting in on the action.
Working on a front leg.

We were skeptical at best as to how the kids would do.  Some of our children have 'weak' stomachs and turn a bit green at just the discussion of such things.  {Yeah, no big dreams of one-day-surgeons in our house.  ~LOL~}

Jacob jumped right in and got to work.

Pleasantly shocked - THEY. ALL. TOOK. PART!!!  And did fabulously, I might add.

Bethany and Elijah working on 'fajita' style meat and 'elkburger' pieces to be ground.
Now THAT'S determination on his face.
Well, the younger three watched for a short time then went about their business of playing.  LOL!

Quite a rack on this elk.
I've informed Doug he needs to seek out such an animal when we hunt b/c I WANT the antlers.

Our friend teaching how to make various 'cuts' of meat.

Jacob wanted a picture
of the rib cage cavity.  Here it is.

By the time they were done, they had cleaned the whole top half of this
wonderful creature.  All that was left was his hind quarters.  Which apparently
hold LOTS of meat, yet.  AMAZING!!!

Thank you to our friends for giving us this opportunity and for a wonderful day filled with precious fellowship, shared meals, playing, laughter, and learning.