Friday, January 31, 2014

Yes, I took our littles' toys away.... again!

Before Christmas, I wrote a blog post about how I put all the toys in 'toy jail' as a result of the littles not keeping their room clean and not putting their toys away.

A happy side effect of this drastic measure was..... the girls didn't bicker and fight nearly as much.  Plus.... their room WAS clean.

As Christmas approached and they received NEW toys, we allowed them to keep those gifts out AND bring their bucket of ponies back from toy jail.

All was well for a while.




The snapping, yelling, crying, whining.



You'd think they'd be thrilled to have toys to play with again.

You'd think having their 'own' new toys would enable peace to prevail.

But... NO!

"I want, she has, she took, it's mine, I had it first......" was what greeted my ears most days.

So..... I did it again!

All. Toys. Went. To. Toy. Jail!!!!

Yes, almost immediately the bickering decreased.

They pulled out their crayons, paper, puzzles, and books.

They blew up balloons and drew faces on them. They bapped them in the air back and forth.  They pretended they were a family and sat them at the table for 'dinner'.

They used their imaginations.

Granted, the occasional squabbles still broke out, but it was no longer the CONSTANT battle over toys. Toys that are so similar it boggles my mind they COULD fight over them.  If one toy was BASICALLY the same as the other toy, what was the big deal?  Why fight?  Why get upset?

I couldn't begin to claim to understand what their little minds thought, so...... for now..... the toys went away.

The plan for getting toys back in the future will look much different than it ever has in the past.

No more 'free for all' with the toys.  They will be up, out of reach.  A request will need to be made for a particular type of toy.  THAT object/set of objects will be brought down.  When they are done with THAT set, clean up will occur, it will be put back away BEFORE anything new can join the fun.

Yes, this is going to be a lot more labor intensive on my and the older kids part, yet, the lack of complaining, the joy of hearing our girls get along will be WELL worth it.

What tips do you have for preventing sibling rivalry and disputes?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nuggets of Wisdom

Continuing to work toward more joy and less grump, I've come across quite a few nuggets of wisdom to aid in my endeavors.

One simple idea - gleaned from a blog I just read yesterday (unfortunately I can already not recall WHICH blog)was to change your thought patterns.  Seems easy enough and something we've probably all heard before, but her manner of explaining it was novel to me.

As a mom, there are tasks I complete each day only to have that task 'undone' almost immediately.  Admittedly, these are situations in which 'Mrs. Grumpy Pants' often emerges in our home.

The author's suggestions dealt with this very scenario.

How often do we complete a project with a thought that goes something like this:  "The kitchen is clean.  Everyone BETTER stay out of it so it STAYS that way AT LEAST until the next meal."  I know I'm guilty of such thought patterns.  Instead, this writer suggested our thoughts should be more along the lines of, "The kitchen is clean.  Now it's ready to be used again."

That way, when one of the kidlets comes in and gets cracker crumbs on the table and leaves their water cup on the island AGAIN or Techno brings his lunch plate in and deposits it beside the clean sink, it doesn't bother me.  I can smile because the kitchen is being used for it's intended purpose and my thoughts and heart are in line WITH that purpose.

On the heals of reading that blog, I had a message from my good friend Jaimie this morning. In her message she mentioned dealing with situations by thinking in terms of 'I choose not to' instead of 'I can't'.

This too made me think of the previous days post I had read.  It's so similar. It's. All.  In.  How.  We.  THINK!

When our thinking is right, our actions and attitudes tend to follow.

This is a new approach for me.  I tend to be of the pessimistic persuasion.  Viewing situations in an all or nothing fashion.  This new manner of pondering - PLANNING for messes and being ok with them; accepting that some things are my 'choice' and not out of my control; both are outside my norm, my comfort zone.

They also lean toward the concept of being a servant.  (Another area in which I could use some improvement - but that'll be another post, for another time.)

I have found this journey to be thrilling -- both exciting and terrifying.

I'm growing.

Hopefully I'm changing.

God is working good things in and through me.

How's your thought process these days?   Sometimes a simple change in how we think about a situation can save us and our family from enduring 'the wrath of mom!'

Monday, January 27, 2014

Finished Product

This weekend I endeavored to make Apollos' new dog bed.

It wasn't easy.  It's wasn't the most fun.   But......

I.  DID.  IT!!!

The difficult part was the cutting up of, then sewing together old couch cushions. You know me, Ms. Frugle.  It was only $5 to make this bed by re-using the cushions upon which he already loved to sleep.


However, my fingers were S-O-R-E after hand stitching through the thick upholstery to join them all together.

Here's the final product.
Apollos actually ON his new bed!

Not too shabby.

Could be better.

I didn't spend much time on the 'pillow case' covering.  By that time.... I simply. wanted. this. project. complete!!!

While the project was in progress, Apollos would climb on the cushions and lay down.  Even before they were sewn together, he'd squeeze his 80 lb self onto one little section as the other one would simply slide away.

Once complete...... he slept everywhere EXCEPT on the silly new bed.

He'd lay down on his new bed, only to get up and move to his old bed or the floor.

THIS is what his 'old bed' consisted of; don't you think the new one is SO. MUCH. BETTER?
In the evening, as Techno and I watched a movie, Apollos meandered down the hall.  I assumed he was going to the girls room.  That tends to be where he ends up on cold nights b/c they have a gas stove in their room that runs more than the others at night.

Boy was I wrong.

As I entered our master bedroom, what did I see?  You guessed it.  Apollos sprawled out in OUR bed with his head on MY pillow!!  (I wish I had gotten a picture, but in my flabergasted, semi-shocked state, the thought didn't even enter my mind.)

He wasn't too inclined to get off either.  Despite KNOWING this was NOT an acceptable sleeping local.

He's still not convinced his new bed is better or even 'as good as' the couch was, but at least he's sleeping on it for longer periods of time.

Here's hoping it becomes his 'predominate' choice for a sleeping spot soon.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend (and beyond) Projects

As part of my Christmas gift (and my upcoming Valentine's, Easter, Sweetest Day, some of our anniversary, and probably even my next birthday) Techno gave me new furniture for our living room.

A walnut brown leather couch and matching oversized chair and ottoman.


They are rustic, yet classic.  Not to mention pretty comfy as well.

Unfortunately, they haven't arrived yet.

However, that's sort of a good thing as we've yet to get rid of our existing 'old' couch and chair AND I've yet to make the dog's new bed from the cushions of the old couch.

Part of the reason we are getting new furniture now and not later is b/c he ripped the cushions when we were last in Ohio.  
Not totally his fault as the kids had left a bag of candy on the couch that had fallen back under the cushions. 
He. just. wanted. that. candy!!!

Still, I do NOT want to risk a repeat on our new LEATHER sofa.  I don't think I could convince Techno to buy me new furniture every time the dog scratched or ripped the existing stuff.  :-)

Hence, my mission, should I choose to accept it, is........
 to. complete. his. bed. this. weekend.

Techno and the boys are taking the couch and chair away this afternoon.  That means nowhere for the dog to sleep.

It's all part of our master plan. 

Get him USED to sleeping on his new bed ON THE FLOOR so he's accustomed to NOT getting on the couch when the new one arrives.  Shouldn't be too difficult as he wasn't allowed on the furniture BEFORE we moved. The ground is just harder here (no carpet) and he had a big cushy oversized beanbag chair in Ohio -- that did NOT make the move.  Not to mention, mommy CAN be a big softy.)

Sneaky huh?

Not sure it's gonna work, but... worth a shot.  

If that doesn't work, I've threatened to buy a nerf gun whose sole purpose will be to shoot the dog if/when he gets on the new sofa.  LOL!

For the dog's sake, Elijah is hoping plan A works.

In addition to the new furniture, we have decided to get rid of our big entertainment center and build hanging shelves as a replacement.  Gotta love Pinterest for such fun ideas.

(When I say 'get rid of the entertainment center' that is code for 'turn it into a kitchen set for the girls!')
Yes, ANOTHER Pinterest idea.
THAT'S a DIFFERENT weekend project for a DIFFERENT weekend - in the distant future.

Rustic could easily describe this wall unit I'm envisioning as well.  The shelves will have brackets (for stability), but they will also be held up with chains intertwined with - what I'm going to call - 'cattle rope'.  Pretty rustic, huh?

The TV will be mounted on the wall; the DVD player will be in a rustic looking basket; as will the Wii and media receiver;  the remainder of the entertainment paraphilia will be aesthetically placed upon the other shelves along with some 'decorative' pieces.  This will free up a lot of floor space, opening up our living room area.

This is a WONDERFUL thing as our  new furniture is quite a bit bulkier than our current stuff.

Since we're preparing to make all these changes, I've also gotten the itch to do some rustic decorating.  I'm sure that makes Techno just shudder thinking about it. :-)

Speaking of rustic decor, do you have any wonderful ideas to share?  What could I hang on the walls?  What colors should I paint?  I'm leaning toward a sage green.  I have material to make 'rustic/mountain/fishing/bear/elk' throw pillows.  Thinking my theme will follow the pillows.  

Can't wait to share my projects as they progress.  Albeit, they may drag on throughout the year.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Being Grateful and Admitting Our Mistakes

As I'm working on being more intentional and on controlling my grumpy tendencies, God has brought a lot of material across my path.

A book I recently started reading, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to your Husband, mentioned being grateful.  When we express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives on a regular, consistent basis, it's harder to be discontent and therefore grouchy.  When we view our spouse, our kids, our home, our friends from an attitude of thankfulness - as the gifts from God they truly are - plus LITERALLY thanking God for them - we get much more "JOY" in them - even in the midst of irritating circumstances.  However, if we neglect such gratefulness we can easily become quite the opposite and the grumblies surface all the more.

Another aspect that I just read today on the blog 'The Better Mom' presented something that I think all us moms need to hear. Not only hear, but believe and accept.

In a nutshell:  we. are. not. perfect.

We all fall short.

We all 'blow it' - literally - when it comes to angry outbursts with our families.

However, it's what we do with this information; with these shortcomings that make or break us.

The blog post, 'Three Ways to Conquer the Inner Ugly' mentioned something that I have found to be SO useful; SO productive.

It's a concept Techno and I had learned from a parenting class when we were pregnant with our oldest child.

It's genius.

It's logical.

It's practical.

It's humbling.

When you 'explode' or are wrong in your words and actions....................................................................

Admit it!

Say "I'm sorry!"

What a lesson for our kids.  I think it's hard sometime for us moms - parents really - to ALLOW our kids to see us as 'imperfect'; not always all together.  To. Admit. We. Mess. Up!

But..... we do.  It's good for them to know that. To know that when you do blow it, you can make amends.  You can say "I'M SORRY!  I messed up.  I shouldn't have done that.  Please forgive me."

That way, WHEN they mess up in their own lives; with their own spouses; with their own kids; with their friends; they have a model -- a good model -- of how. to. make. it. better.

In addition, they realize WE (their mom and dad) are not perfect (which they really already know), but they also realize we don't THINK we're perfect. That we too need grace and forgiveness.  How much easier it will be for them to realize they too can have such wonderful gifts bestowed on them when they mess up.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Groggy Morning

Waking around 4am, I just. couldn't. sleep.

Around 4:40 am I tried to sneak out of the room without waking Techno, but it was to no avail.

He graciously rolled over and offered to chat and rub my back - in the hopes I'd get back to sleep.

Since he was going into town today to work from his sister's house, he had to get up early anyway.

(Have I ever mentioned what a great guy he is?  If not, well, he IS!)

Chatting did not result in me falling asleep, but once he got up to shower, my eyelids finally began to droop. By the time he left our bedroom I was mostly asleep.

As he closed the door, his footsteps leading to the kitchen, I heard MORE footsteps.  Hmmmm... the middles were getting up to fold laundry.

Humph.  That will make sleeping a bit more difficult. Yet, my eyelids drifted shut again.

A short time later, my mind was re-awakened by the thumpa, thumpa of the littles feet followed by a bit of giggling.

Grabbing my little pillow, I rolled over and plopped it atop my head, hoping to get a little more sleep.  The sun still wasn't up, it couldn't be THAT late yet.

Gauging by my ever so weird and discombobulated dreams, I did in fact manage to get back to sleep until......

I felt this little 'thump' upon my rump.

Did I imagine it?  I slowly opened my eyes, but didn't move.

The pressure near my backside moved a bit, but felt like it got bigger, stronger.

Hmmmmmm.... that's usually indicative of a little climbing into bed.

I rolled ever so slightly over and pulled the pillow from my head.

Smiling at me was a cute little Charity.

She informed me it was after 7:00 (meaning they were allowed to be rousing about) and then proceeded to tell me, quite concernedly, about a 'red something' next to her chair.

Foggy and a bit disoriented from just waking; realizing I had in fact been asleep and in the midst of a spy like dream; I blinked at her; thought through her monologue; then responded, "Maybe you should go take a look at it and see what it is."

Away she bounded.   Seems she just needed the directive from me to do the obvious.

From my hazy perch in my bed I could hear her announce to her sisters, "It's jelly!"

Glad THAT mystery was solved.

Guess that's my cue to re-enter the 'real world' and pack away my 'detective's badge' or whatever spy like world my dreams had taken me.

Granted my groggy brain and slow moving body might disagree and revolt as the day unfolds.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


As the New Year approached, I thought of the 'resolutions' I would set.

The typical ones popped into mind.  Lose weight; work on my grumpiness; get projects done; etc; etc; etc.

Pondering the myriad of areas in my life I could work on, I realized it's not so much 'resolutions' I need to make, but goals.  Techno was talking about this and it made perfect sense.

Our pastor also preached on the idea.  It's not that resolutions are BAD, but in reality we should simply be resolute in living our lives in a manner that is honoring to God.

Hmmmm.... so simple yet really quite profound.

Thinking along these lines, God brought several things to mind.

Yes, I do need to get healthy and lose weight.  But not so much from the mindset of 'how much can I lose FAST', but rather, 'how can I change our lifestyle habits in order to be healthy for life?'

Another big one was my anger and grouchiness.  You may have noticed I've been working on that.  Lots to glean and change in that area.

Finally God pressed upon my heart the idea of being intentional.

THAT can take on SO many forms.

Pretty sure that's his point.

Rethinking my first 2 'goals', they both could easily fall under being I-N-T-E-N-T-I-O-N-A-L!

Mapping out my goals I included being intentional:  with our children, with Techno, with my Bible study, with eating and meal preparation, with exercising.

Today I received a message from a friend that really struck at the core of this.  It touched on my 'grouchiness' as well as this whole idea of intentionality.  At least that's how God used it to speak to my heart.

The premise of the devotion was to view the 'ordinary' as 'extraordinary'. Sometimes the mundaneness of life leaves us feeling like we aren't doing anything 'big' for God; for our family; for this life we live.

Yet, it's HOW we respond to the 'regular' stuff of life - the spilled milk, the never ending laundry, the constant meal prep for our families, the continuous straightening up of toys and messes - that show our character.  It's in these times that God can see what's really IN our hearts.  It's at this point in the game where he can tell if we are going to 'go for the goal' or if we're gonna 'fumble the ball'.

Controlling our reactions.  Being intentional with our words and actions.  Being grace-filled and not resent-filled.

These are the things toward which God is calling me.

A HIGHER calling.  Not necessarily GRAND in the eyes of the world.  Yet, pivotal in the eyes of God and my family.

I set the stage in our home.  If I'm intentional; if I handle the pitfalls and stumbles with grace; if I serve with joy; if I ACT and not REACT; I'm doing a good work.  A work that only I can do IN. MY. HOME!

I'm being intentional.

That's a noble resolution/goal for my life.  Not just for 2014, but for every year God gives me on this earth.

Are you being intentional?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Expectations VS. Reality

As I worked with Trinity and Charity today in their writing and literature classes, I was struck with the knowledge that I continue to have 'expectations' that may or may not be realistic.

I walked Trinity through the 'steps' of revising her descriptive paper.  We talked about a good 'topic sentence'; we discussed the use of sensory language; we touched on using transition words to depict level of importance; and we covered including a decent sentence of conclusion.  (All of which have been dealt with individually in lessons leading up to today.)

I stepped away to work with Charity. Fully EXPECTING Trinity to continue working - diligently and independently - on her writing assignment.

How hard could it be?  She had her 'rough draft' to work from. The draft had my 'scribbled' corrections. We talked about ideas for improving her draft.  I even gave her suggestions for an actual topic sentence and conclusion.

Why oh why, then, did she come to me -- almost immediately -- asking WHAT to write?  (Maybe because she's 7!)

Similarly, working with Charity, we discussed the main idea and the use of past tense verbs to tell  whether a reading excerpt was about past or present events.

We went over the concept. We discussed examples of past tense.  We talked about the main idea of a paragraph.  We went through some 'sample' paragraphs.  All appeared copacetic.

Thinking she had grasped the concept, we began moving forward. Reading more paragraphs to determine whether it was discussing past or present and finding out what the main ideas were of each.  As she responded "They," when I asked, "What word tells you this happened in the past?", I wanted to scream.


I began to get frustrated as I dealt with both situations simultaneously throughout our lessons.

Why couldn't they get it?  (Maybe due to their ages - 7 and 6 respectively?)  It was SO obvious.  Why were they struggling when they SEEMED to get it just seconds before?

Finally it hit me.  E-X-P-E-C-T-A-T-I-O-N-S!!!

My expectation was that this should have made as much sense to them as it did to me -- an adult, who has learned and has taught, in depth, similar material at least 3-4 times prior to this moment in time.

Logical?  Not.  So.  Much.

Hmmmmm.... maybe taking a step back was warranted.

That's what we did.  We worked on another subject.  Coming back to the 'difficult' concepts after a short break.

No, Trinity's revised paragraph wasn't perfect.  It still needed some serious work to have a 'good' topic and concluding sentence.  Yet, she finished the work. Without tears. Without a mommy snarling at her.

No, Charity didn't identify EVERY past tense verb correctly nor did she choose the main idea appropriately the first time for each paragraph.  Still, we completed the story. We covered lots of past and present tense verbs, and she successfully identified the main idea of SOME of the paragraphs also without an irritated mama.

It wasn't pretty the whole day, but I realized I needed to alter MY expectations.  I walked away.  I came back later.  We finished our work.

Another successful day.

How do you help kids with writing?  How do you prepare them to identify the main idea of a paragraph?  Any tried and true tricks up your sleeves?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Soup's On

I did it.

I made soup from that spaghetti squash.

I found a recipe on Pinterest that I adapted quite a bit.

It was straight forward, I liked the ingredients listed, and it allowed me to utilize the leftover sweet potatoes I had made for lunch the other day.

Here's what it entailed:

2.5 large sweet potatoes - cooked
2 fairly large spaghetti squash (one was REALLY big, the other moderately big)
       (I decided big was good since we ARE a family of 8)
64 oz of chicken broth
15 oz evaporated milk
1 C or so of water (just to aid in pureeing)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp (or so) cinnamon
2 tsp (or so) ground nutmeg
1 Tbs (or so) ground ginger

Slice spaghetti squash in half and spoon out seeds and goop.
****Warning -- spaghetti squash are difficult to cut.  Quite the pickle really.
Place in baking dish with olive oil, flesh or cut side down (I covered bottom of baking dish w/olive oil) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour.  (Until squash is tender).
Bake sweet potatoes till soft as well.  (could peel and cut up in chunks to bake in dish or bake whole and peel when cooled -- whatever your preference.  I had some precooked from another meal, so I just peeled them.)
Remove from oven when done - add generous amount of butter to both.
Once cooled a little, remove skin from sweet potatoes and put half in blender.
Scrape spaghetti squash from skin and put half in blender.   (I had to do 3-4 batches since I made so much)
Add some of evaporated milk and chicken broth to blender.  Blend till smooth.
Add to cooking pot.
Continue till all squash and sweet potatoes are blended.
Add remainder of chicken broth to pot.
Stir in spices.  Heat through and let simmer as long as you want.
Serve with homemade bread.

This was tasty.

Resembled the flavor of a pumpkin type soup with a bit more of a sweet n'savory flare rather than a  hearty n' savory note.

The original recipe had much less liquid and added American cheese while cooking.   I used almost triple the liquid (broth, evaporated milk, and water) and omitted the cheese all together.  I also substituted evaporated milk instead of half-n-half - which I didn't have on hand.

Techno's reaction was quite positive.  I quote, "This is the best preparation of spaghetti squash I've ever eaten."

Not sure that's saying much as he absolutely detests spaghetti squash made in it's 'typical' fashion, but.. still he liked it, ate it, and would eat it again.

I call that a win.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Soup

In our Bountiful Baskets recently I chose to order an extra box of squash.  Not sure WHY I did that as squash is NOT a favorite with most members of our household.

The description stated they were hoping for butternut, acorn, and pumpkin. I have a great recipe for butternut squash risotto and I had visions of using the pumpkin in lots of fun things.  What I didn't anticipate was.......  THE. SPAGHETTI. SQUASH!

Techno really dislikes - greatly - said squash.

I managed to get 2 BIG spaghetti squashes in this box.

What to do, what to do?

So far.... they have just sat there. I used the butternut squash, there was NO pumpkins, and I used the acorn squash (albeit not many actually LIKED the finished product, but....)

Now, I'm determined to make the spaghetti squash into something the family will eat.

My thought?           S-O-U-P!!!

They all liked the butternut squash soup, my rationalization is they'll also like spaghetti squash soup.

Yes, I realize I may be deluded on this one.

Today I'm going to attempt to make this soup.  I'm winging it a bit.  I found some recipes on Pinterest for such a soup, but I think I'm going to go a bit rogue and make up my own final product.

I'll let you know how it goes. If it gets eaten or if our compost just gets bigger.  LOL!

Do you have a favorite recipe for squash?  Particularly spaghetti squash that does NOT include spaghetti sauce.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Proud Mama

Yesterday we spent the day at the University of Wyoming.

When I said 'the day', I meant it quite literally.  The. Whole. Day!

We arrived at 8:45am for Jacob's meeting with the university's admissions office.  Here we heard all about finances for college, dorm options, costs associated with attending, scholarship opportunities, etc. etc. etc.  Plus many of our questions were also answered.

Next, at 10:00 am, we ventured to the Student Union for a 'tour' of campus. We've done this before, but this time the focus was on the portion of campus Jacob would likely be frequenting as a student in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry.

A quick trip to the dorms to 'view' a sample room then lunch at 11:00 am in the dining hall.

An interesting experience to say the least.  College dining halls have come a long way since my days at Miami University.  Tons of options.  They even had Mongolian BBQ.  Whoa!

After finishing lunch we headed to meet with the Chemical Engineering department at noon.

We thought we were going to see his 'advisor', but instead we had a nice sit down with a senior female chemical engineering student. This was educational, but she didn't have ALL the answers to our questions. Fortunately a faculty member just happened to be in the room we met so she filled in some of the gaps. Nice.

Next stop was the chemistry department at 1:00 pm.  We still did not get an advisor, but at least this time we had a paid faculty member running the show. She was tremendously helpful.  From our meeting with her we determined that Jacob will enroll as a Chemical Engineer major with a concurrent Chemistry major. Allows him to complete 2 degrees without all the 'extra classes' required for a Chemistry degree that ARE NOT actually Chemistry related.  You know, classes like foreign language and fine arts. Those sorts of classes that would add up to an additional 12-15 more credit hours - expanding his schooling for at least another year.  Yeah!

At this particular portion of our day we also learned of a Chemistry scholarship for which he could apply as an incoming freshman.  A $6000 scholarship.  Not Too Shabby!  We also found out through the office in the Chemistry dept. that they have received NO applications for said scholarship to date.    NONE. ZIP.  ZERO!  Odd, since the deadline is FRIDAY!!!  This Friday.

I'd guess no competition for such a scholarship would make winning it a bit easier.  Ya think?

Finally, we made our way back to Chemical Engineering around 2:15 to get a form signed designating that Jacob was adding a Chemistry concurrent major with his Chemical Engineering.

At this point in the game, we discovered all we REALLY had to do was go to admissions to have them ADD it to his 'application'.  Humph.

It was worth it, however, as it was at this meeting that we received the distinct impression that he was strongly 'in the running' for the Trustee's Scholarship -- a full ride (tution/room and board) for 4 years scholarship.  Her comment of "Unfortunately you will not be eligible for any additional scholarships with the Trustee's.  Obviously you are in the running for that," left a VERY positive spin to the whole thing.

Our last stop for the day was back at Admissions, our starting point, at around 2:45.  Asking them to add Chemistry to his application so he'd be eligible for the Chemistry Scholarship was our main objective.  Only chemistry majors are considered for a chemistry department scholarship - imagine that.  When he applied he wasn't sure which avenue he was going to go and just picked one.  He then discovered he could choose.... BOTH!  So he has.

Once home, at around 3:30, Jacob checked his e-mail.

The craziest, yet most amazing message awaited him.  The head of the Chemistry Department - who happens to be one of our distant neighbors - had sent him a message stating, "I heard you were visiting campus today. So sorry I missed you.  I have some non-discretionary funds to award and would like to offer you a summer internship.  I'm very interested in doing research with you.  Are you interested?"


After a quick couple e-mails back and forth, it appears as though Jacob will be doing a summer fellowship, being awarded around $3000, doing research with the head of the Chemistry department, with the possibility of having his name included on any papers that get published as a result of said research.  WOW!!!  WOW!!!! and WOW!!!!!

We couldn't be any prouder of him.  His hard work and diligence have paid off.  He's worked hard all through his academic career to get to this point.

God works in mysterious ways. When you remain open to His leading - which Jacob has always appeared to do - He will guide and provide for you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


As I've been working on this whole grumpy thing, I have also evaluated WHAT sparks such 'episodes'.

I.  Have.  Learned.  A lot.

I've also been reminded of things I already knew, but, forgot.   (Maybe just pushed back to the recesses of my mind, would be more accurate.)

A friend recently started a 'challenge' on facebook to de-clutter 600 items from your home in the next year.

Hmmmm.... Intriguing..... as I KNEW clutter and messes CAUSED. ME. STRESS. and hence g-r-u-m-p-i-n-e-s-s!!!

I signed up.

Over the years I have become much tidier and less of a clutter-bug, but I still like variety; I like to give gifts to our children and Techno; I 'pick up' things or keep things I MIGHT use or need for a project, for decorations, for crafts.  Hence, my desire to be 'minimalistic' continues to elude me.

Hence, clutter. still. exists. in. my. world.

The first weekend of the challenge I began with a vengeance clearing out items that didn't fit, were not in great shape, were duplicates, or we simply didn't use/need anymore.  I hit 115 items in under 2 weeks.

It felt good to de-clutter.

It was freeing!




As I added things to the give away pile and put things in the trash, I saw improvements in how the house looked, felt.

I noted how much less stressed - LESS GRUMPY - I was when I went into rooms where things were in their place and HAD a place.  All because space was freed up by other things being released for someone else's use - someone else's house.

(The fact we had this much to get rid of was amazing given the fact we moved just over a year ago and gave away or sold - literally - over half of our belonging. Sigh!)

Yet, it felt good to de-grumpify as I de-cluttered.

How's your clutter?  Does it cause you stress?  Maybe you should join the 600 item challenge and free yourself from your stuff.

I have even considered bumping my total to 1000 items over the course of the year.  I'm hovering at around 115 thus far.  Time to dig in and get serious and move. things. out!

Friday, January 10, 2014


As I'm working on making changes in my 'grumpiness' I've realized sometimes my reactions are....... habit.


Yep!  Habit!

Wow, that was NOT a good realization.

This morning, with the decision to be more intentional in overcoming my 'angry spirit', I prayed that today I'd NOT speak in an unkind/irritable tone; that I'd not 'yell'; that my words and tone would be encouraging, edifying.

After Bible study and prayer time with Techno I came out to get more coffee. The kids were waking and stumbling out of their rooms.  Nothing had really happened to trigger my grouchiness, however......

My.... Tone..... Exuded.... Irritation!

I stopped.  I thought.

Wow - my tone with the kids in the morning has......

BECOME......  A........ HABIT!


I'm not saying I was angry or yelling at them, just that my tone was not the most loving or joy-filled.

I'm not proud of the fact I had to come to this discovery, but I am grateful God put it on my heart.

Since I was aware of my 'tone', I was able to make a decision.


I smiled.

I softened my voice.

I un-furrowed my brow.

These actions helped me un-grump-i-fy my tone and my words.

I have to admit that this process repeated itself a couple times this same morning.  But I am also thrilled to say I continued to alter my demeanor, my tone, my facial expressions.

Victories - even small ones - were priceless.

As the day progressed, I recognized I was able to give the children directives without as much scowling.  Without as much assumption on my part that they'd not follow through (which triggers grumbles).  With more grace.

This is just ONE day, but it's a day of improvements.  A day of successes.  A day of understanding more of my anger and how to overcome my 'habits'.

The reason for my desire to overcome this grumbly-ness that plagues me!
I want to see these smiles looking back at me, not fear or worry when 'mamma blows'!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stress and worry

Most of us know this, but may need a reminder....

Stress and worry have a very real impact on us.  
Emotionally, mentally, even physically.

Yesterday, Techno and I spent the day in Fort Collins.  Unfortunately NOT for fun.

He had a doctor's appointment as a follow up to his high blood pressure; as well as an eye appointment for the second half of the laser surgery following the eye bleed he had last month.  

I didn't feel overly stressed or worried at the time for either of these appointments.  Techno's blood pressure had been doing well; his eye had demonstrated great improvement.

Easy peasy, right?

Underlying stress and worry were there, whether I admitted/realized it or not.

Then... I. Had. To. Drive. Home!  After all, when one has a needle injected into one's eye - it's not a great idea to drive.  :-)

You may recall I very much dislike driving at night.  As I've aged, the lights from other cars, road lights etc. wreak havoc with my vision and my mind.

Hence I was a bit tense for the hour plus drive home.

More stress was building under the surface.

We gathered the girls and dog from Aunt Biff's house, picked up the big kids from their hunter's safety class, and began our drive back to Centennial.

Once home, I assumed I'd just relax.

The normal mundaneness of getting kids tucked in, stuff put away from a long day away from home, the release of tension from driving and the day of appointments - add it all up?

I WAS WIPED!!!  To say I was ready for bed that night was an understatement.

Today, as the stress of yesterday (that I hadn't fully acknowledged) boiled to the surface, the toll it took upon me became apparent.

I've tried to follow my own advice from yesterday's post and C-O-N-T-O-L my own anger, my own attitude, my own grumpiness.  However, it's. been. a. difficult. task.

The same things that always tripped me up didn't cease just b/c my body was recoiling from the recent onslaught of stress.  Plus my defenses against such triggers appeared to be even weaker.

The kids still bickered, the chores still needed to be completed, I was still tired, the little messes still got under my skin.

What was I going to doing about it?  When I finished typing this post?


I decided to spare my family grief; I planned to 'recycle' myself.

I've posted about this before.

It really does work.

If you KNOW you are tired.  If you KNOW you are coming down from an adrenalin rush (often caused by a stressful occasion).  If you KNOW a certain situation is going to 'push your buttons'.

Take a break.  Walk away.  Get some much needed rest.

(Even if it does mean some things on your to-do list do NOT get accomplished RIGHT then.  
Saving your family from your unwarranted wrath is worth it, isn't it?)

That's what I plan to do today.  Now.

Good napping to all who might need it -- including ME!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I 'blew it' again

Unfortunately, my anger seems to continue to be a struggle.

As I walked into the kitchen, the mess greeted me.  It wasn't horrible: only a few dishes in the sink, a slight mess of spilled cereal on the island, papers from painting strewn about the table.

It. Could. Have. Been. Worse.

However, this minor mess apparently flipped my grumpy switch.  I didn't even realize it.  I didn't explode when I saw it; I just started making coffee and tea for Techno and myself.

Then..... the kids started waking.  THAT'S when the grumpiness unveiled itself.

I snipped and sniped about every little thing.

My voice was not raised, yet the dissatisfaction was clearly noted in my tone.  "The recycling is overflowing; the compost needs to be emptied; the garbage in our room was not taken out yesterday (on trash day); the cereal mess on the island NEEDS to be cleaned up."

WOW!  What a great way to wake up, huh?

Sorry kids.  I'm striving to do better.  I need your mercy and grace.  I need your prayers.  I need to give the same to you.  

For some reason this week and last week have been exceptionally hard in terms of me controlling my grumbly-ness.

Yes, I can make a million excuses.

        The house is a mess
        The kids haven't done as they were told
        The toys are strewn about the house - despite directives to 'clean up'
        Hubby says something to me in a tone I dislike
        I'm tired
        I step on a lego - again - causing great pain
        I remember all the items on my to-do list
        Etc., etc., etc.......

However, it's MY. OWN. SELF. CONTROL that I'm NOT controlling.  UUUGH!!!

What a struggle.

Seems I'm not the only mama fighting this demon.  Tons of blogs, facebook posts, even comments made in passing have focused on this very issue.

Coincidence?  I think not.

My prayers lately have focused on having a more meek and quiet spirit. An angry spirit cannot coincide with a meek spirit.  Who knew, right?  (Just kidding.)

I believe God is bringing all these other 'angry mama's' to my attention to a) remind me I'm not alone and b) show me there is help.

I CAN and SHOULD change.

I CAN and SHOULD control my anger.

I CAN and SHOULD intentionally work toward a more meek and quiet spirit.

In doing all these our home will be more peaceful; our children will learn a better way to handle stress and frustration; our children will learn lessons to help them grow NOT just that 'mom's angry again'; my marriage will be strengthened.

I'm thankful for all the blogs and articles I've been finding that give concrete ideas for 'doing better' in this area.

My plan is to read and glean from as many of these posts as I can.  To INTENTIONALLY put into practice the things I learn.  To CHANGE!  To CHOOSE to control my reactions. To ACT more than I REACT!

Easy?  NOT. ON. YOUR. LIFE!!!!

Doable?  UNEQUIVOCALLY YES!!!!  Philippians 4:13 promises: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

So that is my goal!  To intentionally work toward doing better; leaning on God through it all.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Goodbye Christmas Decorations

It's Jan 4 and I'm prepping myself to take down all the Christmas decorations.

Odd, as I get older, it's harder to put it all up and easier to take it all down -- mentally.

I'm not sure if it's due to memories of how physically and mentally draining it is to put it all UP so I have a difficult time getting started.  Maybe it's more the fact I enjoy the simplification of NOT having so much extra clutter around the house the decorations bring, that taking it down is refreshing.

Either way, today is a bittersweet day.

The decorations will be boxed up and put high in the garage for another year.

Must admit, it is beautiful.
Oh the memories!

As mentioned in a previous post, this may have been the last year Jacob takes part in our 'decorating day'.  The memories of this 'last' event will linger long in my mind.  The festive look of the twinkling lights, the whimsical ornaments, the cheerful red/silver balls placed strategically about, even the Nativity Scene reminding us of our Savior's birth will be tucked carefully away - taking with them the reminders of THIS Christmas along with all those we've accumulated over the years.


Just one of the sentimental ornaments on our tree -
reminding us why we choose to celebrate Christmas.
At the same time, I'm excited to have the full view out our front windows back. To have clear flat surfaces again.  Reducing clutter and preparing for our new furniture to arrive.  Vacuuming and dusting will once again be easier.  The trunk can resume it's rightful place in the living room rather than being a temporary piano bench taking up WAY. TOO. MUCH. SPACE!


My final decision of the day, as I complete this lofty task?   Do I leave my snowman decorations out for a couple more months?  Or...... do I put it ALL away, resulting in a 'clean slate'?

On the one hand, I like our snowman decorations. They're festive.  It's still winter.  They're neutral for the months following Christmas.  However, having them all put away relieves the necessity to 'pack them away' at a later date.  Leaving the room less cluttered, more simplified.  Clean.


For now, I'll get the Christmas decorations put away.  Once the bulk of the 'clutter' is packed in boxes, I'll see how I feel about leaving the snowman to grace us with their presence a bit longer.

Maybe the 'bareness' of the space will just cry for their continued stay.  At least for a short while longer.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


I sit here looking out the window at our majestic mountains we now call home.  Silence.

The only sound I hear is the furnace running and the keys on my laptop clicking.  Silence.

It's only a few days after Christmas.  Silence.

Techno and Jacob are off helping friends pull the three elk they just shot to their truck.  Silence.

Nap time for littles.  Silence.

Bethany and Elijah are playing at the neighbors house.  Silence.

This doesn't happen too often.  Silence.

I'm home - more or less alone.  Silence.

Time to think, to ponder, to pray, to reminisce, to plan.  Silence.

The new year is fast approaching. Silence.

So many things I could and should do.  Silence.

So many plans I could make.  Silence.


I'm going to make a cup of tea.
Sit quietly alone in my recliner, wearing my cozy slippers.
Sip said tea while gazing at our Christmas tree and the mountains out the window.
Thanking God for and enjoying this time of.......


Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's Day Bowling

As New Year's Eve approached, we had planned to simply hunker down and stay home.

The weather outside was frightful; the propane stoves were so delightful; sta-ay home, sta-ay home, sta-ay home!

That was going to be our mantra for the day!

So we thought.

The day before New Year's Eve, I received a text from a friend asking if we wanted to get together to do something the next day.


We were looking forward to our quiet, homebody day; yet we really enjoy hanging out with this family.  Plus I was the one who had originally suggested we try to get together before school started back up.

After checking with Techno-genius, I typed back, "Sure, what do you want to do?"

Initially swimming or ice skating were recommended.

Swimming?  On such a cold day?  Even thought it's indoors - it didn't sound appealing -- AT ALL!

Ice skating. That could be fun. Then I recalled.  I. Don't. Ice. Skate!  Neither does Techno.  That would leave our 3 little unattended out on a frozen block of ice almost the size of a basketball court.  OR it would require our 3 bigs to be attached to them the whole time.  Not exactly fair or their idea of a 'fun time'!  Not to mention, none of them are exactly 'pros' on ice skates.

Maybe not.

Finally -- bowling was suggested.

That sounded good.  All could take part.  No scary frozen tundras to traverse.  No wet swimsuits to deal with.


Here's our bowling adventure!  In pictures!  (Minus the adults who mostly requested their photos NOT be taken.)

Jacob trying to pick up a spare.  He had a good couple of games.

Charity!  Excited when her ball made contact with the pins.

Bethany - look at that form.  She was by far more competitive than I would have imagined.

Working together to get Selah's ball down the alley.

Watching, waiting!
Not sure where the hand on the hip came from.
Demonstration of a bit of her 'tude' she sometimes displays?

Lots of giggling, watching, and waiting occurred.

Elijah attempting a spare.

WOW!  What a 'split' Trinity had to try to 'pick up'.  No she didn't get them all.

Fun with friends.  Gotta love more big kids to pamper you!

Sitting on daddy's lap is fun no matter where you are.

All the kids at the completion of our games!  Nice so see so many smiles.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A new stage of parenting

Today the girls wanted to head outside to build a snowman.

All the big kids were gone so I was going to be the main 'bundle upper'.  When they are home it's a tag team effort.

Visions of stuffing little legs in snow pants, feet in snow boots, hands in little gloves darted through my mind.

I recalled from years of experience just how long such an endeavor took and then just how short of a time they actually would PLAY in the snow.  Sigh.

But, memories needed to be made.

So.... after a little stalling by giving them a snack of popcorn balls:  "Get your snow pants from the closet!" I announced.

While the girls gathered their warm snow clothes, I headed off to get myself changed and ready for snow play.

Much to my amazement the littles pushed their own little legs into the snow pants, plopped their own little feet into their boots, and even had shoved gloves upon those cute little fingers.  AMAZING!  The only thing I really had to do was zip coats and secure hats.

In all honesty, they were ready BEFORE I was.

Off we ventured into our wintery snow land.

Unfortunately, the snow was NOT packing snow.  Despite having gathered a hat, a carrot nose, and a scarf - building a snowman was o-u-t, OUT!

The girls quickly changed courses and began playing in the snow.  Running to our 'rock area' then to the stream to see if it had frozen.  Guess what?  It HAD!  (Imagine that?)

Once by the stream, we noted the wonderful drifts leading from the house down to the creak.  SLEDDING!!

Trinity grabbed 3 sleds and the fun began.
Charity heading down our little hill!
She was wise to have those legs out as she curved into a small tree at the bottom.

Trinity found a small - more open - sledding hill.  The main path was tree-free!

Selah LOVED sledding.
Ironic as last year we could barely keep her outside for more than 5 minutes.

When they had conquered all the hills, we headed back inside for homemade hot cocoa with marshmallows!

Once again, they removed their own gloves, hats, boots, and snow pants.  They even put everything away.  (Which made preparing the hot cocoa so much quicker and easier.)
Yummy hot cocoa with mini-marshmallows following a cold, snowy, sledding outing!

WOW!  This is a new era.  My help is no longer as necessary for some tasks.

I'm glad I didn't let my lack of motivation (could be translated laziness) get in the way of making memories.

Seeing those smiles on those darling little faces, well..... priceless.

I've entered a new stage of parenting.  It's bittersweet.  It's nice that the girls are more independent. It's fun all the 'new' things we can do as a family.  It's also sad to not have little ones dependent upon me.  Snuggling with me.  Even crying for me.

But, one thing I've learned through this journey of motherhood -- enjoy each and every stage.

They. All. Go. By. Too. Fast!!  Don't miss 'em.