Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 13-20

The stomach flu hit our family this last week, and I promise you don't want to see pictures of that, so in lieu of a picture each day, I'm posting some of the best shots from my family Christmas, celebrated yesterday. Enjoy!
Alli started off the gift opening and was quite excited about a new tea set.
I love this picture. It's my dad's "you shouldn't have, but I'm glad you did" face. My brothers and I went in on an ice-fishing tent for him. That should give him something to do now that he lives in the frozen tundra of WI.
Mom was equally shocked and excited about her Kindle. I am a bit jealous. It's really cool.
Elijah wanted equal billing with my Dad for the pearl earrings he picked out. He referred to them as "marble" earrings, and was quite proud of choosing them for Grandpa to get Grandma.
Cool kid.
Alli made and decorated a cupcake.
My niece, KaraJo, got her graduation present early. I made this quilt for her and couldn't wait until May to give it to her. I reminded KJ that she had to graduate, or I come and take it back!
Another pic of the quilt. I loved making this.

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 9

This photo is from Thanksgiving, but I had to share it. Like uncle like niece!? :)
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

December 7 - Gift Idea

My day was made the other night when we were at The Machine Shed and I came across this product: Beer BandsA few years ago, my mother-in-law received a gift of small colored plastic tabs that fit on your drinking glasses to differentiate between otherwise identical glasses. It was perfect for the weekends the whole family descends on the homestead and we have drinking glasses scattered throughout the house. It also cuts down on dishes, since we could drink out of the same glass all day.

My sister-in-law, Noelle, found these ingenious markers at Crate and Barrel, and a couple of years later, when I finally decided to get myself some, the workers at C&B had no idea what I was talking about. I've been looking for something similar ever since.

Fast forward to last week when I spotted these in the gift shop of a restaurant. Intended for beer bottles, because they stretch and give like a strong rubber band, they are perfect for drinking glasses, also. I snatched them up immediately.
Each package comes with 12 bands (2 were missing for this photo) all stamped "mine". Of course, after coming home and checking Amazon, I found them for a dollar or so cheaper than what I paid, but I'm supporting local business, right?! Here's the Amazon link if you think this would make a great gift, or perfect for a stocking stuffer!

December 6

Watching the snow (albeit flurries that didn't stick around too long).
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

December 5

Pink cheeks mean she's too cold to play outside anymore . . .
while this one's pink cheeks shows the fun is just getting started.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December 1st

Inspired by my friend, I'm going to **attempt** to post a picture each day this month to remember our Christmas traditions. Here's December 1st - the Advent calendar is loaded and ready for the countdown to begin.

Monday, November 08, 2010

My "Crazy" Diet, part 2

I previously wrote about my nutrition plan, detailing what I have to eat every day. Besides the "do eat" list, there is also a "don't eat" list, much tougher to handle, I'll admit.

The #1 thing I thought I would struggle with the most? I cannot eat sugar. Well, it's not that I can't eat any sugar, just that I can't eat any sweets. You know what I mean: cakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, candy, sweetened breads, etc . . . I also stay away from natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup and all artificial sweeteners.

The main reason that my nutritionist is against sugar is that it is addictive. Like cocaine-quality addictive. I think most people know this. The more sugar you eat, the more your body craves it and the more damage you do to your endocrine system. Your body is forced to churn out insulin to keep you from going into a diabetic coma and it causes your blood sugar to fluctuate like a speeding car on a roller coaster. Besides the fact that sugar has a direct effect on triglycerides, part of what makes up cholesterol, and I'm trying to get those numbers down!

So no sweets includes sweetened drinks and fruit. Now granted, fruit is healthy, and this is just a partial ban since there will be a time I'll be allowed to eat a small amount of fruit, but since I am eating so many vegetables, she assures me that my body is getting all those anti-oxidants that fruit growers crow about.

I can't have milk, but I can eat cheese.

Probably harder than the sweets thing was the fact that I would have to give up caffeine and even de-caf drinks. Now I hadn't been addicted to caffeine for almost a year when I started this diet, but I do enjoy an occasional coffee and a trip to Starbucks is one of my favorite treats. But I'm committed, so I gave it all up.

The strangest thing on the list? Perfume and perfumed products. There are many sites on the Internet talking about how dangerous the chemicals are in our modern cleaning and bathing supplies, but Karen's issue is more about our adrenal glands constantly being stimulated by smells. Fragrance Free shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant and soap have been easy - it's the hand soap and hair products that are hard, and I must admit I've not given up my Aveda Be Sleek hair straightener. I feel like a *little* fragrance doesn't hurt, right?!

That is the meat of what I've done without over the past 6 months, although there have been a few occasions that some sweet was too hard to resist. But for the most part, I have found that giving up sweets has been easier than I thought. Partly because there is so much I have to eat already, I don't have a lot of room for more and also because once I got the massive amounts of sugar out of my diet, I found I didn't crave it like before.

Next post I'll tell you about some of the benefits of this diet.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I found this blog, Practical Theology for Women a while back, and have always walked away from her posts blessed, and too often convicted. Today is no different.

She writes about wanting to see fruit in the lives of other believers too soon. She admits that too often we walk away from struggling friends because we give up on loving them the way Christ loves us.

"We Christians are an impatient lot. We insist on gathering grain before it grows. We want to see flowers before spring and fruit before fall. When a brother or sister is going through a tough time, we insist that the Spirit’s work be obvious. Unless they speak of their trials from a spiritual perspective, we tend to apply pressure more than we dispense grace. We rarely believe that life is hidden in the barren tree. Let a friend express his exasperation with a four-letter word, and immediately we’re more concerned with his language than with his agony."

Ouch. If you identify with that statement, let me encourage you to read the whole post and then glory in the great Gospel message of forgiveness without a timeline.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My "Crazy" Diet

Last May, I embarked on quite the dietary adventure. Burdened with the fear of heart problems creeping up on me in my 30's since that had happened to both of my brothers, and knowing that my cholesterol was already on the high side, I decided to consult a nutritionist. Not the same as a dietician, a nutritionist seeks to heal the body through food.

My in-laws introduced me to a nutritionist that they had been seeing for about a year, to much success. Her name is Karen Hurd. She is from North-Western Wisconsin, but many of her clients are from around the world. She is willing to do consultations over the phone, which was extremely helpful for me, being a busy, homeschooling mom.

I'll admit, I knew what I was getting myself in to. My mother and father-in-law had discussed their diet with me enough for me know what radical steps I was going to take if I embarked on this plan - and a nutritional plan is what this is. I called it a diet, but really it isn't a short-term fix, it is a lifelong decision to improve and maintain my health through my food choices.

So here is the bones of my nutritional plan:
I have to eat 7 vegetables a day
I must eat a palm size serving of an efficient protein at every meal (efficient proteins come from animals - beef, chicken, fish, seafood and eggs)
I drink 96 oz. of water a day
I eat a half-cup serving of beans at every meal (Karen is big on soluble fiber)

Here is my typical breakfast. I cook up an egg (this is an egg, tomato and goat cheese frittata), saute half of a bell pepper and onion with mushrooms and eat a half cup of refried beans. Does it look like a lot of food? It is! But it fills and satisfies me for hours, keeping my blood sugar level and giving my brain cells, as well as other cells, plenty of good protein to keep working.

I'm 5 months in, and even though it hasn't always been a bed of roses, I remain committed to this plan. Tomorrow (or soon, at least) I'll write about what I'm NOT allowed to eat.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - Choosing a College

This post is part 15 in a 15 week series sponsored byMommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


I have really enjoyed linking up with Mommy's Piggy Tales to help motivate me to write down some of my childhood memories. Although the initial 15 posts are completed, I plan on sticking with this theme and revisiting some old photos and the memories that accompany them. Stay tuned for that!

My senior year was winding down and I knew that I had to make a decision about which college I was going to attend. It was a tradition at our school's graduation to announce where each graduate was attending college and their proclaimed major, and I had decided on neither. But one thing was for sure: I was NOT going to go to a strict Baptist college that would impose on my new found freedom.

My oldest brother had attended Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Watertown, WI and though I knew a fair amount of people there, it was the last place I wanted to go. My parents were big proponents of this particular school, because our old pastor was the president and many friends from my home town had moved up there to work for the school. It was only a 3 1/2 hour drive away, which made for easy weekends at home and it was so familiar it didn't feel like moving away at all.

Even though I could be described by most people as a "good girl," my heart was not interested in continuing in the legalism I felt I was reared in at my home church. I wasn't overtly rebellious, but I thought I knew what was best for me and I was confident in my own relationship with the Lord that I could handle attending a less strict school. My first pick was a Southern Baptist university in Missouri, a comfortable 8 hour drive away. I knew I would be rid of dress codes and rules about movies and the like at this school, all the while still attending a "safe" Christian school. My parents weren't crazy about the idea, but agreed to take me to a prospective student weekend.

We arrived on campus a few hours before the official events started and as we were discussing what we should do in the meantime, the girl whose room I was scheduled to stay in happened upon us. She volunteered to show me around while my parents went back to the hotel. They reluctantly left me alone to experience college first hand.

The events that occurred over the next 3 hours were divinely inspired by my sovereign Savior to show me His will, I believe. In those short hours alone with my guide and her friend, I heard about a potential sexual assault case against a male dorm supervisor, saw flippant posters for a Bible study to talk about the what the "hype" was with Jesus and heard about how to get around most of the rules the college had.

By the time we went to eat dinner, the scheduled events still hadn't begun, but I knew I was finished. I was sick to my stomach, physically and emotionally battling with the Holy Spirit as he spoke to my heart. I knew I was not strong enough for an environment like this. I knew I would be too weak to battle these types of issues. I knew where I was supposed to go, but I had to eat a lot of crow to admit it.

I tearfully apologized to my hosts (if only they knew how their conversation turned me away from their school!) and called my parents to come pick me up. We returned to the hotel and I admitted my struggle. I submitted to attending good ole MBBC and although the atmosphere there would be difficult for me in the coming years and a trial in different ways, I knew at that moment it was where I was supposed to be. And by God's grace, I made it through 5 years of ankle length skirts in sub-zero weather, draconian dating rules, and a bit of legalism, and by God's grace, I am a stronger believer because of it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - Senior Year

This post is part 14 in a 15 week series sponsored byMommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


I couldn't figure out how to condense my senior year into one blog post, since it was such an exciting and busy year. So many changes! So I decided to relive my last year of high school through pictures.

One morning in early February, my mom took an inordinate amount of interest in my outfit for school. She kept urging me to wear "something nice." I'm not sure why I wasn't more curious, but I wore one of my "nicer" outfits, just to appease her. By mid morning, I had figured it out. I was being inducted in the American Christian Honor Society. I was surprised to see both of my parents at school for the ceremony.

Boy, am I glad I wore a nice outfit!
Still surprised by the honor.
Slightly a late bloomer, I was the only senior in the group being honored.

As the end of my senior year approached, the calendar filled up quickly with exciting events. My Junior/Senior banquet (the Christian School version of prom - sans dancing) was the first. I wasn't dating anyone, but went with a friend of a friend and had a fun time, despite my "single" status.
The 8 Senior Girls
On the Sunday after banquet, it was a tradition to wear your dress to church. What fun to dress up again! I felt like a princess in this dress.

Shortly after banquet, our class was off on our senior trip to San Diego, CA! It was the most fun and exciting time in my life. We visited a guided missile cruiser, an old lighthouse, Sea World, watched the Cardinals play the Padres (and beat them!), plus hung out on the beach and shopped. The highlight of the trip was a beach cookout. We watched the sun set over the water and laughed and chased one another around the incoming tide while we waxed eloquent about how much we would miss one another. It was the last great hurrah before graduation.

The last day of school. I thought it would be cool to post it next to my first day of school picture, but I couldn't find that one.

Graduation morning. It was fixing to be a hot day the end of May, 1996. As mom started to prep for the party after the ceremony, my dad was shooting arrows at the possum in our back yard.

Our friend and classmate, Stephanie, moved away the summer before our senior year. She came back to see her classmates, some of us together since 1st grade, graduate. A couple of us traveled up to Wisconsin a few weeks later to see her graduate.

We did have boys in our graduating class, I just don't seem to have any pictures of them!

Graduation was the climax to the amazing, dramatic, roller-coaster adventure of high school. I was really lucky. We had a good class, my friends were responsible (for the most part!) and well-behaved, which kept me out of a lot of trouble, I'm sure. Even though most of us have gone our separate ways, I will always remember those years with a smile on my face and in my heart.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - Junior Year

This post is part 13 in a 15 week series sponsored byMommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


My Junior year brought many new opportunities that I joyfully embraced. One stereotypical change was my ability to get a job. Although both my parents offered to get me a job with their companies, I, like most teenage girls, was more interested in working at . . . the MALL. So when I saw the local Sears was hiring, I applied and interviewed.

Dressed in one of my best church dresses (I knew how to make a good impression) I entered the store and asked to be directed to "Bob" the man who was going to interview me. I was led back into the storeroom, past all the pretty clothes and shoes and I sat down in front of a short, balding, skinny older man and he began to tell me about the job. No questions about why I would be a good fit for the company and such like I expected, just a short job description and an explanation of pay and when to start. And just like that, I was gainfully employed. Except I had to change out of my best Sunday dress into jeans and a tshirt because I was going to work in the storeroom. Definitely not as high-class of a job as I had imagined, but it was work, nonetheless.

Bob was gruff and coarse and kinda intimidated me, and the fact that we were working in a darkish warehouse made me more nervous. I was glad there were other girls my age back there with me, specifically Jamie and Wanda. The three of us became fast friends and Bob turned out to be the most gentle, kind, almost fatherly boss. He watched out for us and generally made work a more fun place to be.

I made many friends at Sears, all of them teens from local public schools. I learned a lot those years (probably some stuff my parents wish I hadn't) and I tried to be a "good Christian example." Most of all I learned that I could be in the world and not necessarily of it. I worked at Sears until my junior year in college, moving from the warehouse into the junior department and finishing off in shoes. I still have very fond memories of my time there, and most of the friends I made there stayed friends for years.

My junior year also found me doing more at our school with plays and musicals,even singing my first (and only) solo. I competed in dramatic prose and poetry and found I was quite comfortable performing, which ignited a love of the theater that influenced my decision for my college major

Probably the most exciting adventure of that year was going to Mexico with a friend and her family for their vacation, but those stories and pictures deserve a separate post altogether. You'll have to stay tuned for that one at a later time!

Mommy's Good Old Days - 10th Grade

This post is part 12 in a 15 week series sponsored byMommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


I'm afraid the time to sit, ponder and reminisce has been woefully lacking these past two weeks with school starting, so I'm a week behind and short on memories. Here's the two best things I remember about my sophomore year . . .

1. Because I started school as an almost-6-year-old, I was always the oldest in my class. Never thought too much about it, until I was 15 and in driver's ed with the class above me and then when I turned 16 just 2 months into my sophomore year. My friends were all still taking driver's ed (my small Christian school offered it, which was amazingly helpful and easy on all our parents) and I got my license.

My mom took me early to the DMV on my 16th birthday and I nervously took the written portion of the test and waited to be called for the driving portion. I think my hands were visibly shaking! When my name was called and the instructor and I started driving, I made sure to go about 5 mph below the speed limit, just to show him was a careful driver I was. We made it back to the office and he proudly told me that I had a perfect score. I was ecstatic! The best part was being able to prance (a little late) into homeroom smiling from ear to ear as my classmates eagerly rushed around me to see the new license. I still have the picture, but of course I couldn't find it for this post!!

2. My niece, KaraJo was born the spring of my sophomore year. You think I was excited about my brother getting married? I was on top of the roof about my prospective niece. My sister-in-law and brother had moved out of town and lived a good way off in the country, so on nights before her doctor's appointment, she would stay at our house and sleep in my bed so she could be close to her appointment the next morning. I would bed on the floor beside her and we would spend the time before we fell asleep talking about parenting and how much fun a baby would be. That was the closest thing to having a sister I ever experienced.

KaraJo Ann was born just a few weeks after my last grandparent died. I remember quoting "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away" and resting in that promise. What a joy to our family to get to welcome a new baby at such a sad time! I was on cloud nine with my new niece and I loved her from the moment we met. So strange that she is a senior this year and almost 18 years old!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

For the past year, I have been using these letter cards to help teach Elijah to read. We use them to identify beginning and ending sounds, to form words, and for games. Each sheet contains 10 lowercase letters and 2 capital letters (this sheet already had a strip removed).

Perplexed on how best to arrange the cards after they had been torn apart at the perforations, I opted for bunching them together and securing them with a rubber band. Not unique and definitely not very user-friendly, you could usually find Elijah and me fumbling through the stack looking for the letter he needed to form each word.

While shopping at Target for school supplies almost a month ago, I stumbled across this blue, 5 row card holder in the $1 section that I thought would work perfectly for holding each letter as Elijah (and now Alli) learn to form words. So on school day #1, we pulled out those rubber-banded stacks of the alphabet and I eagerly grabbed my new card holder when it was time for Elijah to form vocabulary words. But we encountered a problem. The pockets were too deep to see the letter. I sighed, assuming it would be a worthless purchase until inspiration struck.

With the help of a black Sharpie, I turned the pocket holder into a place to store all the alphabet cards! Now we could separate all the letter cards, thus assuring that we would always have enough "T's" and "S's" for any word the kids had to form.
And since it is free standing, I can just set it up on the table or counter and both kids can pick out whichever letter they need, without my help! Then we fold it flat and it takes up almost no room on the bookshelf. Now you might call me simple, but this really made my day!
Alli had to help tear each letter apart, which resulted in a few misshapen cards, but she loved the responsibility and I loved having her help.

Not bad for a $1 Target find!