Monday, September 20, 2010

Anybody else feel like this sometimes?

Plate spinning - anyone?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Matched Set!

Jesse got his braces off last week, and as soon as I saw him smile, I realized that I had seen that smile before; it is part of a "Matched Set!"

Look at these smiles - worth every penny and all those trips to Milwaukee! Dang, we got ourselves some good lookin' boys! Josh gets his braces off in two weeks. Grandma, you'll have to remind me to upload those photos for you too. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010


Today I sent Jacob to pick up Joshua from his Driver's Ed driving lesson while I watched HGTV. Change is in the wind... :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Gosh, how I love to watch my boys run at the track meets. Who knew that I would become such a fan, but I love every minute of it. I understand track. It's easier than soccer. Participants run until they cross the finish line. There is no one to thwart your efforts like there is in soccer. It's just the runner and his determination to run. I regularly get "misty" watching a meet; it typifies the strength of the human spirit. I'm a cheering mom; that's my role. I jump up and down and yell for them to keep pushing every time they pass by. I celebrate with them when the race is over and encourage them even if they don't get first or don't get a better time than they did at the last meet. I learn who the other runners are on the team, and I cheer for them too. I love the determination that I see on their faces and the guts that they show as they press on in spite of the fact that every muscle in their bodies are crying out for them to stop. I never see my boys break their stride even though quitting would be easier. They push themselves to their physical limits and then push further, and it makes me so proud of them - so in awe of them.
This week has been a banner week for the Harp runners.

Josh ran his personal best 800-meters at today's relay meet. He ran the 800-meter leg of the 1600-meter medley relay. He had a strategy for how to beat BJ (a runner from a neighboring town that he's been running against for years), and he went out there and did it. He ran his persoanl best time at 2:05 and beat BJ by one second. Oh, how fun it was to see that unfold - to watch him push himself beyond what he thought he was capable of - and succeed. He hugged me; I hugged him and kissed him on the forehead and told him how proud I was of him.

On Thursday, Jesse ran his personal best in both the 1600-meter (5:28) and 800-meter (2:31) runs. He was hoping to skip the 1600-meter run at this meet so that he could see what kind of time he'd get in the 800-meter run if he was fresh (the 1600-meter run always comes before the 800-meter run). But, his coach wanted him to run both anyway, and even though he was disappointed, he pushed through the disappointment and ran both. He ended up running his best times yet in both races. I hugged him and kissed him on the forehead and told him how proud I was of him.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My life in four words...

I COOK A LOT! Quite literally, much of my time is spent feeding my boys. Between planning for meals, shopping for food, preparing food, cleaning up food, and occasionally re-purposing food, I cook a lot! For this one all-consuming task, all of my boys (big and small) depend on me. Jesse now considers it an especially good day if he knows that he's NOT "on his own for dinner." In fact, he no longer cares what we are having as long as he doesn't have to prepare his own meal. And NO, he doesn't have to fend for himself often, but even having to warm up his own leftovers or make himself a sandwich constitutes being on his own for dinner to Jesse. You can hear the "Yes!" under his breath when I answer his almost daily question with, "Yes, I'm fixing something for supper."

All of the boys - including Chris - just generally feel loved and cared for and well, happier, when I prepare their food for them. I make their lunches and they feel spoiled. I cook a pot roast and they're grateful. I bake a dessert and I'm the best mom on the planet. I do these things fairly regularly, and yet they continue to be happy and grateful with almost every new feeding opportunity. Shoot, I can make grilled cheese sandwiches, and as long as I make them and serve them up to them on a plate, they're thrilled!

Just knowing I have a plan for their dinner quite literally makes them feel more secure. If someone asks me, "What's for dinner? and I reply with "I have no idea," I can actually see them deflate right before my eyes. Their shoulders drop and they start to look sad and confused and sort of betrayed. It kind of cracks me up - how easy it is to make a man (of any age, apparently) feel loved and relatively content - just feed him. I am going to try to embrace this role of "cook" for the blessings that it allows me to bring to my boys instead of resenting the endless time and effort it takes.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Jesse's Frame-by-Frame Lego Rubik's Cube Video

I have to share Jesse's latest frame-by-frame Lego video. Of course, it took him a few days to complete all of the filming. He figured out how to edit it all together and post it to youtube. I don't know how to do any of that. Josh figured out how to add the music, which makes the video even more fun. :)

Okay, I'll admit that my favorite part is toward the end when the Lego men finally solve one puzzle only to find another puzzle and the one little lego guy shoots himself in the head as a result. Haven't we all felt like that from time to time? :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I discovered a wonderful little-turned-big blog on the internet a year or so ago. Maybe you've heard of The Pioneer Woman. :) I got hooked on her chapter-by-chapter retelling of the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband (Marlboro Man). She aptly titled the story, "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels." I found her writing to be interesting and funny, and I was a little bit sad when the story ended with their wedding ceremony.

She has a delightful blog full of raw stories from her country life and her recipes are out-of-this-world yummy (full of real butter and ingredients that I might actually have in my kitchen). She had her first cookbook published this past fall, and I have just informed my husband that this is what I want for Mother's Day. I just discovered (although I'm sure this is old news) that her "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" story will be out in book-form next Valentine's Day, and I also just informed my husband that I would like to receive that book next Valentine's Day. (So, if he's paying attention, then he has TWO gift-giving occasions covered without having to think about it.)

But, the big news of the day - just announced on her blog - is that Sony Pictures has just acquired the rights to turn "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" into a movie. How fun is that! I also just informed my husband that we will be going to that when it comes out. He is beside himself with excitement. ;) You can read all of the details HERE, including the tidbit that Reese Witherspoon is being strongly considered as the one to play the Pioneer Woman.

Ah, I just love something fun to look forward to, don't you? :)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


While reading Matthew 19 & 20 this morning, I came across the parable of the workers in the vineyard. This one has always bothered me (surprise, surprise). In this parable, the vineyard owner hires workers in the morning and agrees to pay them a denarius for the day's work. They agree. Then again, at the 3rd hour and the 6th hour and the 9th hour and finally at the 11th hour, he hires more workers and agrees to pay them a denarius for their day's work (or in these cases - partial day's work). When the workers are lining up at the end of the day to get their pay, the owner pays those who only worked 1 hour the same amount as those who had worked all day long. He doesn't distinguish between those who have worked hard all day and those who only just got there. So, the all-day guys - they start complaining that the landowner was unfair by not giving them more because they had done more work.

(And, I'll admit, my dander is getting a little bit raised by this time too. Why on earth would the owner not have paid the ones who served longer more money - or better yet, why wouldn't the owner have negotiated a lower wage with the ones who came on later - like 1/12 of a denarius for those who only worked one hour? Surely they would have worked for less, and it wouldn't have had to cost the owner as much as it did. It's not fair to those who had been there all day that the owner pays those who just got there the same amount as those who had put in a full day's work.) Being a first-born, I'm kind of a justice-girl - and this whole scenario just does not play well for me.

And then the owner makes the kicker statement in verses 13-15 that makes me frustrated and convicted at the same time... "Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or, are you envious because I am generous?"

I guess I would have to be honest and answer, "Yes, I guess I must be envious of your generosity, Lord, when I feel like that generousity has caused me to be overlooked." When put that bluntly, the question and answer seem to demand that I make a shift in my thinking. Who am I to question or be envious of the generousity of God? After all, I am also a recipient of God's generousity. It is His alone to determine to what extent that He gives grace and abundance.

My first thought is that Jesus is referring to salvation in this parable (which I think He is), but I think the same principle applies to life here on earth as well. With regard to money, to talents, to faith, to ease, to health... some have more than I have and some have less than I have, but it is not mine to be envious of what God has been generous with. Good reminder...

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Library

I love the library. It's even better than a bookstore except that it doesn't have a Starbucks inside. Today was shipping day, so I was out running errands early this morning and found myself at the library 10 minutes before it even opened. I ended up sitting on the bench in front of the building while I waited for them to open up. It was just a wee bit embarressing - like who actually waits on the porch for the library doors to open? Well, me!

I went straight for the audio books section - another "loser-like" tell, I fear. But never mind... I chose two audio books to listen to while I work this week, and I was truly almost giddy with excitement as I checked them out. I planned to work in the basement while listening to one of my newly borrowed books today, but I ended up having to be on the computer all day long.

However, tomorrow is a new day, and I plan on working in my basement all day long while listening to a brand new story. What a wonderful way to spend a day - productivity while being entertained. :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Perspective

It's been a rough week - no, a rough month really. I have actually started to feel like we're being tested to see how many "one-more-things" can be loaded onto our lives during a one-month time period. Our breaking points have been a little closer to the surface the past few weeks. However, Chris came home from work last night with a new attitude. He was smiling and laughing and hugging and didn't look exhausted and frazzled, which I was kind of expecting because I knew he was going to have a hard day at work. He performed a funeral for a family that he didn't know, whose 25 year-old son had died. The circumstances were a little different here because this boy had been diagnosed with encephilitis when he was six months old and had hardly any brain function. He had never spoken a word or laughed or smiled or done anything at all. I think that he was basically in a vegetative state for 25 years. As Chris perfomed his funeral, he was reminded of how blessed we are with our 5 healthy and active boys.

Among many other things, we've been stressing out about what decision to make regarding club soccer for Jacob. The price tag to be involved is pretty high, both financially and with the time and effort required to get him to all of the practices and games - and Jake is just 1 of 5 kids who are involved in sports. We want to do what we can to help him pursue his dreams, but at some point the question always comes up, "Does the end justify the means?"

When Chris came home yesterday, it was like he had a burden lifted off of his shoulders. He told me that he had been thinking about how small our problems and decisions are in light of what is really important. He said, "We've been stressed about deciding if and where Jacob will play soccer this spring when what is really important is that he is healthy and able to play soccer at all." I thought that was very insightful, and I'm so grateful for a new perspective today. Lots to do today; I'd better get after it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My brand new cell phone fell in the toilet

Literally. I've been trying to dry it out for three days. Most of the buttons still work, but the Power Off/Send button does something wonky every time it is pressed. I have it in a sealed container of rice and under a lamp in an effort to dry up the moisture.

I think my "Technology Queen" status in our home is in jeapordy. My subjects just don't respect my title as much now that I've dropped my new superior technology in the toilet. That seems to have tainted things...

Between the crashed computer, the iTunes fiasco, and now this, it's been a bad week...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another computer crashed...

Keeping our many technology devices all up and running has turned into another part-time job for me. I worked for over 4 hours trying to get iTunes operating correctly yesterday. (GRRRR...) And, today the laptop that I just bought for the boys in August seems to have crashed - black screen - nothing. Joe was just sitting there playing some game on it and then came the menacing black screen. I went to the acer website and typed in the problem, and I was directed to just send it in for repair - no attempt to troubleshoot. Thankfully, it is still under warranty, and we don't store photos or important stuff on that computer. I've been thrilled with that little machine until now. We've never had a problem with it until it just crashed out of nowhere. It reminds me of what my laptop did when the motherboard was fried a couple of years ago (shudder...).

That reminds me that it would probably be a good idea to back up my laptop tonight. I have a jazzy back-up drive that I employ fairly regularly - and the crash of the boys' laptop is a good motivator to take the time to go ahead and back up again.

So here's my public service reminder for the weekend: "Have you backed up lately?"

In closing, I leave you with a couple of recent 8"x8" pages. These will go into my Snapshots Albums from 2008/2009. Both pages were made using The ScrapRoom's February Kits. :)

Jacob and his buddies before their Freshman Homecoming (10/08)

Josiah is "one cool dude!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Momma's moving up!

I'm not particularly a big music gal. I like music, but with the constant chaos and noise that comes with living in a full house, I will often choose quiet over music when given the choice. However, I do love my ipod with all of my favorite songs organized into perfectly proportioned playlists just for me. Here is "Mom's Ipod," as we affectionately refer to her in iTunes and among her ipod friends.

Yes, Mom's ipod is an ancient version of the ipod mini. They don't even make em' like her anymore. She's a music-only player - no video, no phone, no extra cool features, but in her heyday, she could shuffle songs and play them with the best of them! I bought her used, but she has served me well for several years. We have good memories. However, lately "Mom's ipod" is just getting worn out. She's just not holding a charge like she used to, and even though I'll charge her for hours, she'll only give me just a few minutes of music. It's time to let her rest and bring on the next generation of ipod to carry on the music-playing torch.

I have three boys who are also ipod-lovers, and we have a few different members of the ipod family that have joined our family. Jeremiah has this cute little guy - the ipod nano; he plays videos.

And Jake and Josh have the larger ipod classics cause they're men and they needed more gigs for all of ther teenage music. These were the ipod of choice when they bought them a couple of years ago.

I considered all of these options. The nano would have been big enough for my rather narrow and no-longer-expanding music tastes. But, I've watched enough TV to know that "There's an app for everything," so I started asking questions about the iTouch. All I had to hear was that I could surf the internet and wouldn't have to purchase a monthly data package and I knew my search was over. I went out that very day and purchased this little beauty. We affectionately refer to her as "Mom's iTouch."

We got her all set up last night, and we even found some cool new "apps" to download. The boys are just as smitten with "Mom's iTouch" as I am. My teenage boys have even recognized me as the new "Queen of Technology" in our house, and since they won't be upgrading anytime soon, I expect to retain my throne for many years.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A little 8x8 layout

I'm getting ready for the website's February updates, and I felt like we needed one more layout in the Sketch Gallery. Julie Bonner designs an exclusive sketch for us each month, and she does such a fabulous job. I just love, love, love sketches as a starting point for my scrapbook pages - and Julie's sketches are so easy to work with. Here is Julie's February sketch:

Here is my interpretation of her sketch. It's pretty straightforward, but my page is 8x8 in size instead of the standard 12x12, so the photo takes up a lot more of the page. I love it!

I used the upcoming February kit - the Little Yellow Bicycle Generation Z line - so great for boys!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Evaluate - Sort - Purge

I've been spending some time this week reorganizing my scrapspace. A big purge was long overdue, and with CHA coming up next week, I have to make room for some new good stuff by getting rid of some old stuff. So, I forced myself to make some honest decisions about what was worth keeping and what I should let go of. (Evaluate - Sort - Purge) The whole process was energizing, and all of the sorting and purging made me think about how much of our lives are spent organizing and sorting and reorganizing and how occasionally choosing to throw out the junk instead of simply moving it to another shelf is good for the home and good for the soul.

When dealing with the material things of our lives like our kitchens and our closets and our garages, it is always a good thing to get rid of the stuff that we're not using so that we can access the good stuff that we need and love. This same rule applies to the immaterial things of our lives as well - things like our priorities and our attitudes. It is a good thing to take time to evaluate who we are and who we want to be - to sort the truth of our lives from the excuses that we hide behind - and to take steps to get rid of some of the junk so that we can access the good stuff. (Evaluate - Sort - Purge) Just a few thoughts I've been having as I wind the corner on another year...

And, just because a blog post without a photo is boring (words of wisdom from my friend, Chrissy), I leave you with a parting shot, our 2009 Christmas card photo, which many of you will be receiving later this spring. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Personal Day

I just added a new blog header and updated all of my favorite links on the sidebar, and I'm going to take a "Personal Day" tomorrow. I've been working non-stop for weeks, and I'm looking forward to a day of cleaning and organizing my scrapspace - completely non-work-related. Ah, the bliss...

On a work note (because I can't stop myself)... the sneak peeks of the new CHA-Winter product releases are starting to pop up, and so far I am not overly excited, which is a little unnerving. I'm hoping for some fun new products for our spring and summer kits, so I'm hanging on to hope that the manufacturers are saving their best stuff for the show. The one line that I'm jazzed about so far is this new line from Jillibean Soup. Can't wait for this one!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Josh's Sectional Mile Race

Josh's Sectional Mile Race

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Oo-La-La! I just finished another scrapbook page for the website gallery this month, and I photographed my little decorated cupcake box and cupcake decoration. Both photos are made with goodies from the April ScrapRoom Kit. I've been wanting to do some scrapbooking, and the website gallery deadline seemed like the best motivator. :)

Last year, Jeremiah wrote on my Mother's Day card, "You Shine My Day Up!" How precious is that! It is just the most perfect expression of love from my sweet 7 year old boy. It was what he felt in his heart, so he wrote it down in words that made sense to him. He knows how much I love that expression, so he uses it on his cards and projects again from time to time. Gosh, this is the stuff of parenting that I just love!

And, this is my newly decorated cupcake box and decorated cupcake topper! I wanted to use the April kit, but I don't have anyone to give it to. My sweet friends, Ryan and Jessica, are having a baby ANY DAY NOW, and if I lived closer, I'd give it to them. But, I don't think the cupcake would fare very well through the mail. So, we'll eat the cupcakes in honor of Baby Hill, and I'll save my little box for a local new delivery. :)

I am just loving these little cupcake boxes. Cupcakes are the perfect size - just enough - and how fun to get a yummy cupcake delivered in a fun decorated package. The box has an insert that holds the cupcake in place so the icing doesn't get all over the inside of the box. (Genious!) Anyway, I've made two batches of cupcakes in the past week. I'm on a search for the perfect cupcake recipe so that I can make some yummy cupcakes and give them as gifts whenever the need arises! I tried a new recipe for my Grandmother's 86th Birthday Party, and they were good, but I think I can do better. I made a different batch yesterday, and they were just alright.

So, if you've got a GREAT cupcake recipe, send it to me at :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I won!

Yea! I was one of the winners from Stacy Julian's Blog Party this past weekend. I will be getting a copy of her new book, "Photo Freedom." She also posted my picture on her blog, along with the layout that I made about Jesse being his friend, Bryan's, role model. That is so cool! She is such a big-whig in the scrapbooking industry, and it is super fun to have one of my layouts on her blog! I look so bad in the picture. I decided late in the day to enter the contest, so I threw on a sweater and had Josiah take my picture - no make-up, no nice hairstyle, just me looking all of my 37 years! I'm sure I'll be mortified in a few days, after the "new" has worn off, when I think about all of the people that might see my bad picture on Stacy's blog - but I don't care today. I'm just happy to have won. I can hardly wait for my new book! Yippeee!! :)


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Favorite Sweater

In honor of what would have been Mister Rogers' 80th birthday for Stacy Julian's Blog Party, I am wearing my favorite sweater, a zip-front red cardigan. :)We really did have a beautiful day here in Northern Illinois, which is always a welcome surprise in March. It's Easter, and I made the most of this day by taking the opportunity to explain in a little bit more detail to my growing boys why we celebrate Easter and what Jesus' death and resurrection means to us. I am always grateful to be there for those "magic moments" when they are able to understand and appreciate a little bit more truth.

And since I mentioned Stacy Julian's blog party above and I'm hoping that she might actually follow the link that will take her here and see this, I wanted to write just a brief note of thanks to Stacy for sharing her Library of Memories scrapbooking system with me. I have been a scrapbooker for years and years, and when I began to get serious about it, I always found myself a little bit frustrated. While I loved the opportunity to preserve my precious photos and family stories, I felt like I wasn't able to really tell those stories that I most wanted to remember - you know, the ones that you sit around the table and tell over and over. Those stories never seemed to make it into the scrapbooks. I had countless pages about the first day of school or our trip to the apple orchard, but those weren't the real stories that capture our family. Stacy's Big Picture Scrapbooking concept allowed me the freedom to use the photos I want and tell the stories I want and then be able to share these random layouts in my scrapbooks. I enjoy scrapbooking again because I can scrapbook the things and the moments that I think are important, regardless of when it happened in the chronology of our lives. It truly is Photo Freedom. Thank you Stacy. I am grateful for your creativity and your organizational thinking and your ability and willingness to share this with others. Because of the freedom that I found with your system, I was able to create the layout about my son, Jesse, below. This memory never would have found a voice in my choronological albums a few years ago. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

California Pics!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the sound of the surf and could sit there there hours listening to and watching the waves wash onto the shore - definitely a God thing! We found a great little tide pool and were able to see lots of little sea creatures hanging around and doing their little sea creature activities - too cool (and a little gross)! The boys would have LOVED it!

We also had an opportunity to visit the old mission at San Juan Capistrano. It was a gorgeous day, and the the mission was really beautiful.

Okay, and this final picture is a little bit funny to Chris and I. We were sitting there waiting to board the plane and Chris noticed that the airline would call the first class passengers and tell them that they could board by walking across the red carpet. They would undo that little barricade across the carpet square and route the first class passengers across that little patch of carpet. We thought it was so funny that the "Red Carpet Treatment" for the fancy first-class passengers involved a little red carpet square. I took a photo of the coveted Red Carpet on our way home - and I even had a bit of a rebellious spirit and actually wiped my foot on the carpet when the airline people weren't looking. :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Just For Fun!

Okay, I was reading down through the old blog posts tonight just before getting ready to post that Mother Theresa quote (see below). I saw that I already posted the quote last year, and I haven't even blogged enough since then to move it to another page. So, I won't post it again. But, it is a great quote and speaks volumes to me as I struggle with balance and my annual case of the "chuglies." Her final line sums it up, I think, "You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway."

On a lighter note, as I perused my old blog entries, I did come across a quiz I answered last year, so I thought it might be fun to run that baby again with today's answers and see how they compare. (Stacia, if you read this, I'd like to see this quiz appear on your blog with your answers, so as they say in "blogdom," "Tag! You're It!") Okay, here goes...

1. where is your cell phone? charging in the kitchen
2. your boyfriend/girlfriend? Chris, my handsome husband for 17-1/2 years
3. your hair? driving me crazy; I can't do anything with it. It seems to be fried... (hmmm... no change here!) (In honesty, I'm just really way overdue for a trim. My hair is getting really long, and I don't know if that is good or bad for a 37 year old woman! In our family, we jokingly refer to my hair as my crown. Sandy, my mother-in-law, asked me at Christmas time, how long I was going to let it get. I told her that I liked it long because it made me feel like a Princess, thus the crown.)
4. where is your father? probably asleep in his chair in front of the TV
5. your favorite thing to do? enjoy an unhurried breakfast with my husband, especially when he is in the mood to chat
6. your dream last night? I can't remember it, but it was long and a little odd.
7. your dream car? a convertible Beetle :)
8. the room you're in? my bedroom, sitting in bed under the electric blanket, which is turned up to a 9 and is quite toasty
9. who did you hang out with last night? nobody - Chris took the boys to church, and I stayed home and filled ScrapRoom boxes for shipment
10. your fears? failure
11. what aren't you good at? many more things than I'm good at
12. muffins? not when I can have a scone (YUM!)
13. one of your wish list items? for complete wisdom and clarity in all things that I am responsible for; for my house to be decorated; to not have to be concerned with weight management issues (okay, I know that's three things, but the first one was too big and the last two are constantly hanging over my head!)
14. the last thing you did? finally saw the "praying woman" in the floral pattern of my comforter cover. Joe has seen it repeating all over the comforter for a long time and he was asking me tonight if I saw it - finally did! (It really does look like the silhouette of a praying woman. She's everywhere!)
15. your computer? I LOVE my laptop and my high-speed wireless internet connection. When it's all working, it's a thing of beauty!
16. your pet? Still no.
17. you are wearing? a pink SEI t-shirt that says "Make Your Scrapbook Splendid" in little velvet letters (What kind of slogan is that... "Make Your Scrapbook Splendid"? Nobody talks like that!)
18. your life? blessed with an amazing husband, amazing children, and a God who loves me even when I can't see Him clearly.
19. your mood? slightly melancholy; a little blah
20. missing? warm sunny days
21. your car? sometimes starts; sometimes doesn't - we finally replaced the battery in the red van, and I'm starting to trust it again. Big Green, however... there's this finicky anti-theft device embedded in the guts of this van, and this anti-theft system sometimes engages of it's own free will, and we are unsure of the proper way to disengage. We think it might involve a rhyming chant, some burning incense, and a very elaborate yoga-type pose done while clicking a series of buttons, but we are still unsure whether the door has to be open or closed while doing this. When the anti-theft system engages, we cannot start the car until the system has been reassured in our most calming voice that we are not burglars and promising it all sorts of treats after it starts again. We have been stranded in numerous places because of said device, including Yellowstone National Park (twice). We now say altogether as a family, "Good Stop" when the van starts again after we have turned it off. It is a shame that the quality of our roadside stop is determined by whether or not the van will start up again. At any rate, our little anti-theft friend kicked in today, and the van wouldn't start at the post office (AGAIN!) after we unloaded our boxes this morning. Chris must have completed the required appeasement techniques to start her up again, but the problem is that he doesn't know what it was that actually did the trick...)
22. what are you thinking about now? that I should probably stop typing in answers to these stupid questions and get to bed
23. your work? raising my boys and
24. your summer? COMING!
25. your relationship status? Married with children
26. your favorite color(s)? to wear - black; just because I like it right now - aqua!
27. when is the last time you cried? I can't remember. I seem to be a little numb these days.
28. when was the last time you laughed? about an hour ago, when discovering the "praying woman" hidden in the pattern on my comforter
29. school? Thank God it's over for me. Thank God it's on for the kids!
30. favorite 90's group? I have no idea what any of the 90's groups were. I was in Bible College. Does Steven Curtis Chapman count?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Well, my last blog entry was a bit of a downer, as I was feeling a little overwhelmed, so I thought I should probably update it again on a bit more "balanced" note. While I'm sure I will always struggle with balance, especially during this season of life, most of the time I can keep it all in perspective. I just had a little meltdown - they're semi-regular. :)
Josh is with a buddy and his family this weekend playing at a water park in the Dells. I'm sure he's having a great time, but I wouldn't want to trade places with him - I'm too old for cold water parks. (Yes, I know they tell you that the water is warm, but I'm here to testify to the contrary. :))

Jesse, Jer, and Joe spent last night with Grammy, who took them to see Alvin & the Chipmunks at the theatre. Fun for them! Chris and I went to Parent-Teacher Conferences for the younger three boys last night, and we took Jake to Pizza Ranch for dinner before the conferences. (Okay, while Pizza Ranch is overpriced, they make a really yummy Buffalo Chicken Pizza, and their dessert pizza if pretty rockin' as well.) The conferences were encouraging, which is always a good thing.

Hey, we sold out of the February Flavors of the Month and Bazzill kits this week. It's been several months since we sold out, since we increased our numbers this fall - but it happened in February. I am grateful to God for His providence. We'll see how He provides next month. Maybe we'll sell out and maybe we won't, but either way I trust Him with this. We updated our site with the March kits today - above is our March Flavors of the Month kit. I'm pretty jazzed about this month's kit; I love the blue in the Scenic Route Sumner and Making Memories Noteworthy lines (top two for those of you not familiar with the names of paper lines. :))

I'm going to turn off my computer tonight and go and work on some stuff I want to work on in my scrap space. And, maybe I'll even watch a rerun of The Office before I go to sleep. Ah, the bliss... :)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

So much for regular blogging...

Okay, this is a picture of Josiah enjoying Cowboy Day at school, courtesy of Patty. I didn't attend Cowboy Day, and thus I am a sucky mom.

My list of things to "Be Better At..." just keeps getting longer, and I get frustrated that I can't seem to ever be able to cross one thing off of it. (I am reminded here that I need to "Be a Better Volunteer Mom at School.") I guess I get most frustrated that there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day and I never seem to have enough energy to move beyond the two biggies in my life... being a business owner and meeting those bare-bone needs of my children - (feeding them, hugging them, navigating my way through the myriad of papers that cross my path from the 3 different schools they attend, keeping their schedules straight and taxiing them from practices to games to lessons to appointment and home again.) I do not, however, seem to have any time to do anything else - to be a friend, a neighbor, a volunteer, a sister, a daughter, or even a Christian like I feel I should. I can barely get my kids shuttled around to where they need to be and keep everyone fed in a timely manner during the same evening. I'm not taking very good care of my spirit these days, and it's showing up in the resurfacing of my undisciplined "stress" eating habits, my inability to walk away from my job, and the over-scheduling of my days to try to accommodate all of those relationships and things that I'm striving to "Be Better At." I do believe that I'm now overdue to re-evaluate my priorities and activities and pare back.

I just think that I should be able to do it all - to add this relationship and that group and this activity into my life to "be a better Christian." I should join the Saturday morning "Prayer Group" and pray for my kids because what kind of mom and Christian am I if I'm not praying for my kids with the Prayer Group from 8:00-9:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings? Isn't that the least that I can do if I say that I love God and love my kids? And, I should start a BUNCO group for the ladies in my neighborhood so that I can begin to form relationships with my neighbors and be "Christ" to them because God put me in this neighborhood to be a light to this corner of the world, right? And, I should volunteer to serve coffee to the Seniors before their Bible Study every Thursday morning because I'm not volunteering in very many other capacities within the church, and I do have some flexibility in my schedule to be available in the mornings. And then I should probably join this small scrapbooking group here in our community so that I can get to know some women in my town who aren't members of my church. After all, it is good to make relationships outside of the church. Isn't that what we're called to do? And, of course I should still make time in my schedule to exercise for an hour 3-4 days each week and then keep attending my weekly WW meetings so that I don't gain back all of the weight I've lost. And, I can't forget to take the time to track everything I eat so that I can stay within my points for the day (yeah, right...). And of course, from time to time, I need to schedule lunches and coffees with the few friends that I have left or I won't have any left at all. And last but not least, there is my job, which consumes most of my thoughts and my energy - what Chris and I don't do doesn't get done. We are the visionaries, the planners, the labor force, the problem-solvers, the techno-wizards, the investors, the marketers, the innovators, the customer service specialists, the decision-makers, the "buck stops here." It's a lot, and I just wish that I were "Better at it..."

I have to ask myself if this is what God had in mind or if I'm missing it. I would really hate to find out too late that I missed the big picture while I spent my life managing the details. BUT, if I don't manage the details, then they are not going to get managed. So, how do I find that balance? Is it possible that this phase of my life honestly leave little room for anything except family and work? Is that okay? I am ever so grateful for my job, as I feel like it is a gift to me from the hand of God, so why do I feel like it is wearing me out? I find that I cannot be all things to all people, but I feel like I'm being selfish if I don't try...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Here I am, posting again!

Inspired by my brother-in-law, Mark, and my old friend, Chrissy King, Josiah and I have started a "PICTURE CLUB" for 2008. We are taking a photo a day with our cameras and I'll try to get them uploaded to the computer every week or so. So, after get them off of the camera, I will plan to share a few of them on our blog. I'll update this post with a "Picture Club" photos later today! (Josiah will be jazzed!)

The boys are out of school today, so it's a "Jammie Day" in our house. I was going to try to run errands later this afternoon, but it's really COLD outside today, and it's snowing again, so the chances that I will actually get dressed, bundle up, and venture out of the house is slim. I think I'll just have another cup of coffee instead. :)

One of my goals for 2008 is to cook more. We eat pizza and 99-cent double-cheeseburgers more often than I care to mention with our ultra-busy schedule, and well honestly, I'm not a big fan of cooking (and cleaning up the mess) that I'm always on the lookout for an opportunity to NOT cook. As a result, we're not eating as healthy as I'd like for us to, so I'm trying to cook more. Tonight, we'll be having taco salad. Coming up with the menu is the hardest part, so I'm feeling special-sporty since I already have a dinner plan before 10:00 a.m. :)

By the way, Mark, we tried the couscous on your recommendation, and we weren't big fans. Thanks for the idea, but I think we'll stick with rice, pasta and potatoes for now. :)

If anybody has any yummy and relatively easy recipes that I can add to my two-week rotation, please post them in the comments section. :) If they include couscous, then I'll know to substitute with rice. :)

More later!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

I read a great book this week about how to manage employees in a way that helps them find satisfaction in their jobs. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, by Patrick Lencioni, is written in story format, so it's a quick read, and I learned a lot. Basically, Lencioni's premise is that people are more likely to be miserable in their jobs if...
1.) they have no way to assess their own progress and success
2.) they do not know who their work impacts and how
3.) they do not feel like the people they work for/with really know them or care about them as people

It gave me some good insight into how to help motivate and encourage those that I work with. It made the idea of regular-old-work seem like something that truly can be done for God's glory. I'm starting to feel like there might be more that I can do honor Him through my work at The ScrapRoom and through my volunteer work at the church - by helping others find satisfaction in their work. At any rate, the book opened my ideas to some new ideas, and I'm grateful. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Christmas Vacation 2007

What a fantabulous Christmas vacation we had! Of course we've been home for two weeks now, and I'm just now updating my blog, but that's just the way it goes. :) We got to see my dad and Judy for a couple of days in Wichita. On our drive down, we hit that nasty blizzard that swept through the midwest during the week before Christmas. BAD driving weather: blowing snow on top of a layer of freezing rain and zero visibility. I praise God that He has grace when we make stupid decisions (like forging ahead in spite of the weather). It was great to see Dad and Judy and to share a little Christmas with them. :)

Arrived at Chris' parents house in Colorado on Christmas Eve and had Christmas with Chris' family that night. The boys got some fun new Denver Broncos pajama pants and Broncos hats. Our family Christmas exchange this year revolved around the theme "Growing Up In the 70s" (courtesy of my husband). Chuck and Llana gave us the first season of the A-Team on DVD! What a hoot! Christmas morning brought the Wii and Rock Band for PS2, so our boys had plenty to do for the rest of the vacation!

We got to spend lots of great time with Chris' sister and brother and their families! The boys LOVE getting to hang out with their cousins, and as much time as they were together, I still don't think the boys got their fill. Of course, Chris and I always enjoy chatting and laughing with his family, and it is always humbling when they take time out of their busy schedules and spend it with us. We missed having all of Chris' sisters and their families back this year, but it was much less hectic with fewer people. :) I did get to go to Archiver's and Barnes & Noble twice, and we made our annual pilgrimage to Chick-Fil-A to consume our standard fare Medium Party Platter of nuggets (80-100) and three large waffle fries (just the boys and I since Chris is allergic to poultry). (Yes, the boys and I are unapologetic pigs when it comes to Chick-Fil-A.) We did, however, help form the shoveling crew for the church parking lot, and I'm certain that we worked off all of those calories.

Anyway, we slept in until we woke up (no alarm clock), we stayed in our jammies until noon most days, we read, we talked, we played games, we were able to step away from work (mostly :)). It was a good trip.

Thank you Grandpa & Grandma for keeping us and for feeding us and letting us move in and make ourselves at home for more than a week. And thank you Mark & Caren and Chuck & Llana for making us a part of your Christmas vacations. And, a special thanks to sweet Alicia for giving us our biggest laugh of the trip and a great story that no doubt will be retold for years to come. I now have an excellent snarky comment to make whenever the need for one arises... "Shut up, (insert name); nobody likes you!" LOL!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Popcorn Day!

We cranked out 36 batches of Kettle Corn (with a little cayenne pepper) for the neighbors. We packaged it up in gigantic ziploc bags with some cute toppers. It took (2) batches of Kettle Corn to fill up each ginormous ziploc bag, so we ended up with 17 bags to give to the neighbors. (Yes, if you did the math, you can safely assume that we ate the other two batches. :)) We all had jobs and worked together for (2+) hours to get everything made and assembled. Jeremiah said, "I like doing this much better since we're doing it for someone else."

It was snowing out - that super-beautiful kind of snow that you love to get in December. We bundled up, loaded up the popcorn onto the sled and tromped over to several of the neighbors' houses. We sang the chorus of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and little Jeremiah stood in the front holding the bag of popcorn out for them to see while we sang and then walked it up to the door while we all yelled "Merry Christmas." It was a great night.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The best kids in the world!

I'm pretty sure that I have just about the best kids in the world! Josiah wore his new ScrapRoom T-shirt to school! He was way-braver than his brothers, who told me they wouldn't wear a T-shirt that said ScrapRoom in purple to school (even though the shirt itself is a very masculine brown). But, Josiah proudly wore his shirt to school, so I took his picture!
Okay, more reasons why I have the best kids in the world... if any of you know my 5th-grader, Jesse, you know that he is just about the calmest, most easy-going, go-with-the-flow 5th grader that you could know. He's cut from the same mold as his dad, which makes him pretty even keel. Anyway, last Monday night was Jesse's 5th-Grade Christmas music program at his school. Jesse isn't a big fan of music class at school, so it was no surprise that he didn't want to go. However, we didn't have a good excuse to not go, and Jesse hasn't scored a lot of "participation points" with his music teacher this year, so we thought it best to go. The music teacher is a big fan of hand motions and lots of movement during every part of the songs. Dramatic presentation is not exactly up Jesse's alley. So, I told Jesse on Monday morning that I would give him $5.00 if he was "over-the-top-animated" during every song of his musical. I told him he had to do all of his movements really big and dramatic and to act like he was really "into it" during the whole program to get the cash. And, I couldn't believe it - but that is exactly what he did! All of his hand motions were big and his arm movements were big and his gestures and swaying - all big! We were sitting in the back row of this huge performance hall, and we could see him "getting into it" clear from the back row. Oh my gosh... we were all cracking up at him down there "acting" like he was Mr. Musical on stage. And he did it throughout the whole program - every song - Jesse was in the second row (center) of the choir risers and he was just down there going to town like this was the performance that he was living for! We just hope his teacher caught a glimpse of Jesse participating with enthusiasm! Now, for most of the audience looking on, Jesse wouldn't have looked out of place - just enthusiastic - but if you know Jesse, even a little bit - it was a riot! I've never enjoyed a program performance more! Fortunately, Jeremiah taped the whole thing with our video camera, and as soon as we can find the cords to watch it on the TV, we'll enjoy it again! (Maybe I'll even learn to upload it to the blog someday!)
And another reason why I have the best kids in the world... I'm sitting at the table playing another defeating game of Spider Solitaire yesterday afternoon, and I complain out loud that I can never beat that game. My oldest, Jacob, pipes up with, "Oh that game is easy. I could beat that game every time." I look at him and say, "This is Spider Solitaire, not regular Solitaire. It's harder." His reply, "Yeah, that's easy. I can beat that." I tell him that he must be a genius if he knows he can beat it easy when he's never played it - and then I challenge him. (I'm thinking to teach him a lesson here since he piped up with how easy something is that he hasn't even tried yet. I'm hoping to teach him a little humility here - when it comes to shooting off the mouth... yeah... you can probably see where this is going, can't you? :)) So anyway, I say, "Alright Genius, I'll bet you $1.00 that you can't beat Spider Solitaire (at medium difficulty) the first time you sit down to play it." He agrees to give it a go - and I was prepared to collect on that bet. So he sits down at the computer and I give him a quick crash course on how to play and he starts. He sat there for about an hour and it took him over 350 moves (he used the Undo button a lot), but he beat that game! With me smirking at him from the side and $1.00 and his respect on the line, he was pretty determined. So, everytime he got stuck, he would undo until he could find an alternate way to play - and he actually won. Maybe he is a Genius! :) I paid up, and I'm not sure who learned a lesson in humility yesterday... (I'm thinking maybe it was me.)
Tomorrow is Popcorn Day at our house. The boys and I are going to make a ton of kettle corn to bag up and give to the neighbors. We'll get some sort of assembly line going and Jacob has volunteered to do the cranking on the Whirly-pop. I'm thinking we'll put on some Christmas tunes and pop popcorn for a few hours before we're through. I'll try to remember to take some photos so that I can post them to the blog!