About Me

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Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. Living each day to the fullest. I know God has a plan for me, if I could just see it all through His eyes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Check It Out!

Come on over to my newest blog Pick up the Pace: Lifestyle 2009 to find out what my goals are for 2009. I'll be starting daily logs for exercise and eating habits starting January 1. Well, probably on the 2nd since I'll be at my in-laws on the 1st. I'm gonna try to get my BFF to come over and add her wisdom occasionally. Gonna do some old fashioned research as well. So if you need some tips and tricks you may find them here, as well as a links to other fitness, nutrition and wellness blogs. Hope this new blog helps you AND me! Happy New Year to y'all!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Program

Our Christmas program came off as a success. The little kids stole the spot light and it was commented that we had the richest looking wise men in history. I'm not quite sure about that but the robes I found at St. Vinnies did work wonderfully!

My boys made very handsome wisemen.

Joey was adorable. They all did very well. They only had to walk through the song "We Three Kings" as it was sung by Joey's Umma, Mom and Uncle Ian. The complication was that they had to walk from different sides of the sanctuary, meet in the middle and walk very slowly to the back, together. That went without a hitch.

Natalie was tucked away in the stable, patiently awaiting the arrival of the wisemen. She was so nervous about dropping the baby. She started to cry when we went to get ready but all was well; she safely held onto the baby until it was time to leave it on the chair.

The wisemen worship the newborn savior and present their gifts to Him.

Then we got all modern-like and sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas....and we even used instruments. Well, I sang and they used instruments.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand is a monthly meme on the fourth Tuesday of every month.
This month I've completed my Anything Agatha Challenge.
Three Blind Mice
The Moving Finger
Pocket Full of Rye
Evil Under the Sun
The Body in the Library
I also checked out a book from the Finlandia University Library when I picked up some books for Riley:
The Journal of William Thomas Emerson - Barry Denenberg
I've also read to my children all the stories of Christ's birth that I could get my hands on.
Come and See, A Christmas Story - Monica Mayper
The Light of the World - Katherine Paterson
The Birth of Jesus and other Bible Stories - P3 Publishing
Christmas in the Stable - Astrid Lindgren and Harald Wiberg
The First Night - B. G. Hennessey
Donkey Daniel in Bethlehem - Janice Kramer
The Legend of the Christmas Rose - William H. Hooks
Busy, Busy Innkeeper - Katrina Cassell
I have a whole pile of books next to my bed awaiting my attention. I may finish 2 or 3 more before the end of the month but I'm trying to wait for January and the beginning of the 100+ Reading Challenge for 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Playing with Pictures

I was playing with Picasa and touched up this picture. What do you think? I just downloaded the program to fix a picture of my boys and then got to playing so I this is still new to me but I think I like it. Really like it.

Kinda boring.
See how the horizon line is almost dead center....guess that's a no-no.

But, I was taking these pictures on the fly. So to speak.

I cropped it to put the horizon just north of the middle.
Then I brightened and "warmified" it.
I also put a soft focus on it, making the barn stand out as the focal point.
I like it.
What's your opinion?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Living in Thanksgiving

At first I wasn't going to participate in this today. But then I remembered the horrible dream I had last night.

I woke from a deep sleep at 3:54am just overwhelmed with grief. Usually I can just pray awhile and then go back to sleep but my dream had disturbed me so much that I had to get up. I did keep myself from going into the boys' room to make sure all was well but oh, what a dream!

I dreamt that my kids and I were walking along a bridge from my home town and it was under construction. There were huge gaps in the concrete and wierd scaffolding along the sides without rails. Eli fell from the bridge but was okay. He'd meet me on the other side. But then Samuel began to jump from ledge to ledge around the holes. He then jumped unto the scaffolding and I begged him to come back, carefully. Instead, with this huge cheeky grin that usually means he's going to do something that will test my patience, he jumped right off into the air. He was not okay. But in my dream I waited until the next day to call 911. As I recounted to my husband, in the dream, what Samuel had done, I recalled the huge cheeky grin and began to sob in anguish at the thought of never seeing it again.

That's when I woke up.

So, today, I am VERY, VERY thankful for my children and God's protective and merciful hand on us.

I'm also thankful for the huge cheeky grin though it exasperates me so on some occasions.

I'm thankful that when I can't protect my children, God can and does.

I'm also thankful that I can trust God in every situation, good and bad.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's in a Name 2 Reading Challenge

Hi all! I'm excited about the What's in a Name 2 Challenge. I did not participate in the first one this past year but since I'm also doing a 100+ reading challenge I figure I should be able to fit in books that fit these requirements somewhere along the line.

Thanks to Annie for hosting this interesting challenge.

*This is a challenge that anyone can join, no matter what types of books they like to read. You should be able to find books from any genre that will work.

*Dates: January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009

*The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.

1. A book with a "profession" in its title. Examples might include: The Book Thief, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Historian

2. A book with a "time of day" in its title. Examples might include: Twilight, Four Past Midnight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

3. A book with a "relative" in its title. Examples might include: Eight Cousins, My Father's Dragon, The Daughter of Time

4. A book with a "body part" in its title. Examples might include: The Bluest Eye, Bag of Bones, The Heart of Darkness

5. A book with a "building" in its title. Examples might include: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Little House on the Prairie, The Looming Tower

6. A book with a "medical condition" in its title. Examples might include: Insomnia, Coma, The Plague

*You may overlap books with other challenges, but please don't use the same book for more than one category.

*Again, there will be some small prizes scattered throughout. No set schedule, so just be sure to check in once a while. There will also be a prize awarded at the conclusion to one participant who completes the challenge.

Here's my list:

#1. More Than a Carpenter - Josh McDowell

#3. A Father's Law - Richard Wright

#5. The Shack - William P. Young

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 12 - Blog Advent Tour

Day 12. Already? Wow. This month is just flying past and I'm running hard to keep up. I have really enjoyed reading about the ways you all celebrate Christmas and the old and new traditions involved in those celebrations.

But it seems that time is getting away from me this year and I'm already into the thick of my oldest Christmas tradition: trying to get homemade cards and newsletters out BEFORE Christmas. I'm doing really well this year. I have the pictures but other than that, nothing. Hahaha. *eye twitches, choke--really* What am I going to do???

Actually, to be quite honest, I have it SO very easy. First of all, my decorating is the bare minimun. I hang lights and pine garland around the livingroom and usually the kids homemade ornaments hang from suction cups on the windows. That's about it. We don't do a tree for various reasons. The first of which is we don't want one. Yes, they are pretty and all that but the mess isn't worth the hassle when we are hardly ever home for the holidays. I think we have woke up on Christmas morning, in our own bed maybe twice in our 14 year relationship.

Our Christmas traditions are quite simple. I love that we go to my in-laws for Christmas eve. I hate to miss it. We used to go with them to Mike's great gr'ma's house for snacks and the aunts and uncles exchanged gifts then. After she went to the nursing home, we brought our Christmas eve celebration there. It was still a lot of fun. Our kids even enjoyed it. Mike didn't really care for it as he has a decided dislike for nursing homes. After she passed away we just stayed at my in-laws since my MIL is the oldest in her family. Now the aunts, uncles, and cousins in the area all go there and it's a blast.
My favorite uncle (Gene!) always has a great big bear hug for me and it's just fun to sit around and shoot the breeze. After the crowd leaves, Mike and I exchange gifts with his parents. Christmas morning is all about the kids.

I am also a Sunday School teacher so I get the honor of putting together a presentation each year with my class of 3-8 year olds.
It has always been a challenge but even more so this year since our numbers are down to 2-4yr olds, an 8 yr old and a 3 yr old. In past years they have dressed as the "Friendly Beasts", the principal characters involved in the birth of Jesus, and of course angels.
This year I will have 3 kings and Mary. That fits my 3 boy/1 girl ratio quite well. Since most can't or won't recite anything, they just walk through a song. It's quite a hit with the parents and older folks.

The new tradition that I'm trying to implement this year is a advent type thing. I wanted to do something that would definitely put the emphasis on Jesus' birth. I found coloring pages of the Christmas story online, one for each day of Dec up to to Christmas. Each day one of the boys get to color the picture and read the scripture to us. Then we pick a Christmas story book from our vast collection to share that night. We've read The Christmas Rose by William H. Hooks, Come and See by Monica Mayper, Donkey Daniel in Bethlehem by Janice Kramer, The Light of the World by Katherine Paterson, The Story of Baby Jesus- Alice in Bibleland by Alice Joyce Davidson, and The First Night by BG Hennessy just to name a few. I really didn't know how the boys would like it. Mikey and Eli especially seem to be growing out of this sort of thing...stories and coloring pages. But actually, they look forward to it. And we are going to make the coloring pages into a book that we can read next year. Perhaps next year the boys can draw their own pictures to go along with the scripture for the day.

Well, I have Christmas concerts today plus 2 different Christmas parties to attend tonight so I'd better get some much needed sleep. Merry Christmas to you all!

Chocolate-Cranberry-Walnut Oat Cookies

These cookies are the bomb!

I got this great cook book last winter that has over 500 5-ingredient desserts. I like oatmeal cookies but not particularly Raisin Oatmeal Cookies. So in this book was a recipe for Cranberry Oatmeal cookies. Great! I love cranberries!

I need to triple the recipe but I didn't have enough cranberries so decided to throw in some nuts and chips.

Here you go....try 'em. They are really good!

3 cups butter, softened
3 cups packed brown sugar
6 eggs
6 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups oats
1 cup cranberries
1 cup semi sweet chips
1 cup walnut pieces

Preheat over 350*F. Lightly grease cookie sheets.

Mix butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in flour and salt til thoroughly incorporated. Add oats, cranberries, chips and nuts. Mix and drop by tablespoonfuls unto cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and set but still soft. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 9 dozen

Nasty Things! Blech!

I volunteered to make some cookies for the CTS cookie sale going on Saturday the 13th. The other day I made 9 dozen Chocolate-Cranberry-Walnut-Oat cookies. They were scrumptious!

Today I decided to make another new recipe. Lemonade Cookies. First off, I thought the batter was pretty good. I love lemonade and tart things so it hit the spot for me. But as I was putting the second pan of cookies into the oven I noticed the first pan was already burning and they still had almost 8 minutes to go. So I took them out and turned the temp down a bit. Also, the cookies did the not spread the way I pictured they would. So I used a glass dipped in sugar to flatten them. Not so bad. They were coming out better. But then I tasted them.

Let's just say they are not a favorite. I took the rest of the dough, pressed it in a pan and made bars. I just couldn't put that much time into a cookie that I didn't like.

So after dinner is all cleaned up tonight I'm gonna make another 9 dozen of my DDWO cookies.

PS. Don't dbl or triple a recipe you've never tried before. What a waste! Ugh.

High School Christmas Concert

One of my most favorite things to do this time of year is to go to the local school concert(s). Last week I went to our district's band and choir concert. It was so-so. The band is small and the kids did a fine job. The choir was excellent. It is made up of 7 or 8 girls that did a fantastic job of singing all the traditional Christmas songs...no Rudolph or Jolly Old St. Nicholas. You know, O Holy Night and the like, the ones that require some real talent. They did it and I was so very pleased to be there to hear it.

Last night was the High School Band Concert for my sons' school. In past years they have had the elementary and high school bands play on the same night with the elementary choral concert during the day. This year, because of all the changes, they had the high school play last night and the elementary band and choral concerts will be during the day on Friday. So, really I wouldn't have bothered doing an extra trip to school in this blasted weather but for one reason....

Michael debuted with the high school band last night. What's that all about? He's not in high school. He is only in 6th grade but he was invited to practice with the high school band this year to challenge him and keep him interested. But it was with the understanding that he would not be performing with them. That all changed 2 weeks ago when the director, Mr. G., called and asked Michael to perform with them on the last number, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.

When we arrived he went off to get his instrument and we found front row seats with a clear view of his chair. He came in and sat with the band. I was surprised as Mr. G. had said he'd be called up for the last number. Well, that song finally came and Mr. G. started off by explaining how Michael had been practicing with them and had asked to sit with the band for the whole concert. How cool! Mike, not being able to come, asked if it was odd to see him sitting there not playing all that time. Not at all. It seemed right somehow.

I really want to put the video up here for your enjoyment but I've had nothing but problems all day with this computer. So check back later. I may get it up here yet.

The whole band, all 24 members, worked really hard and had lots of fun and pulled off a great show! The other thing is they played the most difficult arrangement of Greensleeves and did a spectacular job! The students pick the music they want to play for the most part and this group has never shied away from challenges. I'm so proud to be a parent of a CHS band member!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Patience is a Virtue....I'm missing

I have been waiting all day for that darned sequel from Pioneer Woman! I must confess, I've been bitten by that competitive bug and I want to be in the top 10 comments on her page. Ugh. I can't believe this has happened. Me....the one with NO addictions. Ok, not many, anyway.

Gotta go check!

6 Below, $1.40 and 9 Dozen

Here's a recap of my week thus far...


Riley woke with growing pains. Mike forgot to apply the Bengay. Negative point for dad. Me, driving to the bus in -6*F weather only to turn around and come back for the Bengay.
Point for me cuz I'm a 'good' mom!

Jack Pot at the local Vinny's...14 books, 6 of which are
Agatha Christie's. Total: $1.40 plus tax. Cha-ching. I think that deserves, like, 5 points!

I got home in time to whip out 9 dozen Chocolate-Cranberry-Walnut-Oat Cookies. Point for me--I did it ahead of time...no procrastinating! Because of the cookies I left late to get the boys from the after-school program which caused me to be late to my parent meeting. Ugh. What a day! Minus 2 points, mom.


Got the boys off to school without a hitch. Point for mom! Left an hour late for Marquette due to a blistering headache and an upset tummy. Minus a point for mom. Boo.

Roads were fine. Took mother-in-love shopping and found a Christmas gift for my Secret Sister. Point, mom! MIL took me out to lunch at
Coco's. Awesome place. Go try it out!

Didn't leave there until 4pm because of the laundry. Minus one point, mom. I can't wash our whites at home because of the iron in our water....I've tried all the fixes....they don't work for us. So, by the time I left it was snowing and blowing and my windshield washer didn't work. It was frozen. So I was blinded most of way through Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming. It was ok the rest of the way and I made good time. Point!

Mike had dinner waiting for me when I got home. Point for dad--ok...I'll give him a few cuz he's the best! He made his special fried chicken with rice. It was so good that I ate too much and went to bed with an upset tummy. Minus a point for mom. Ugh.


So far, so good. Boys are at school, Mike is taking his last exam of the semester (3 down, only 7 semesters to go! oh, yeah...and one summer. er). Point for dad. The house is quiet....I AM AT HOME! That deserves a point. =) Hallelujah! Hallelujah! If only I could stay here. But no. I have to pick up Riley, pick up the other 3 hooligans, get dinner thrown on the table and be off to get Michael back to the school for the high school concert that he gets to play one song for. Whew! I'm tired already.

Let's see: Mike-3, Samara-6
I guess it's a bit unfair cuz I don't keep track of everything Mike does. Eh...oh well. I'm still winning! hahahahaha

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Hubby did not get his wish to stay home from school today but I got my wish for the boys to be in school. Yeah! Riley took a few moments, as I was getting ready to go out the door, to walk to the end of the driveway and make some tracks in the fresh snow. He's really into tracks lately. It's really endearing, except when I'm running late to the bus or church and he won't go straight to the van. Instead he is out in the yard....making TRACKS. *sigh* He's just too sweet.

We went up to school to have lunch with Mike today (shrimp, clams and some seasoned fries that are to die for! yum-O!) and crash in the library for an hour or so. It was so cold! 8* F before the wind chill! I still have to go out in it tonight. It wouldn't be so bad but it's at least a 45 minute drive. Er--Brrrrr!

Here's another pic of "the tree". I don't like pine trees. I don't know what kind this is....but it's the only one on our property that I do like. So I take lots of pictures of it. So Pretty!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snow, snow and more snow!

I was thinking earlier today that I probably should have put a counter up on my site for how many days it snows around here. I think we had about 3 days last week that it didn't snow and I actually thought it would all be gone before Kim and the girls could play in it over Thanksgiving weekend.

Well, I needn't worry about a green Christmas anyway. It snowed all day today and yesterday and the day before and...well, you get the drift. Haha. That was punny! Maybe not. =I

So today I almost got stuck at the sportsmen's club after Riley got off the bus. The state has cut back hours for the plow truck drivers so they are only doing what's absolutely necessary. Which means main highways, not parking lots. And not little back roads, even if the principal of the local school IS my neighbor.

Tonight Mikey and I drove into Baraga for the Baraga Schools Christmas Concert. It was slow going as the visibility was pretty near nil and the roads are SLICK! On the way home it was blowing pretty bad and very COLD. Brrrrr. Glad I don't have to bring the kids to the bus tomorrow. Thank you, Lord, for a husband that goes to school! Although--- Mike is hoping for a snow day tomorrow. I think, if we get one, I will have to bug out of here for a few. I just need the quiet....I really don't need for the kids to have a 3-day weekend. Eh. I love 'em but Oh. My. Goodness. They have not been getting along lately. Not. At. All.

So anyway. We have lots of snow. Too much snow. And here's a warning to you all....Don't you dare complain about your snow til you've shoveled mine! hoohoohoo!! I will be whining and waiting for spring right bout mid-February. Just wait and see!

Night all!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Added Pictures

Hi. Did you read about my Thanksgiving Dinner? If not, check it out here . If you did already, you may want to go back and check out Kim's photos from the day--I finally got them up. Thank you, Kim, for cooking and taking pictures!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Handmade Christmas Coaster Giveaway

Are you decorating for Christmas yet? Heh heh. Not me. Soon though...the boys keep asking when the lights are going up. =) I love lights. I also love poinsettias and homemade crafts. If you love them too, check out Nikki's Notes for a beautiful handmade poinsettia Christmas coaster giveaway.

Happy Decorating! I'm gonna go clean my room now. =D

Thanksgiving at Home

This is coming a bit late but after my last blog, I'm sure you can understand. =)

I loved, LOVED, LOVED having my family here for Thanksgiving. It's the first time we've had T-day dinner at home since we married in 1995.

My LILsis,
Kim, came up Wednesday with her daughters from Illinois. We made a late night trip to Walmart Wednesday night and stayed up chatting til 3am.

Thursday morning we brought Michael over to the KC Hall to work the free dinner our church puts on every year. I missed working it this year but Kim said she'd like to come help, so maybe next year???

When we got home we got right to cooking. I was very pleased to find that Kim and I work well in the kitchen together. She just went right to work on anything that had to be done and quickly adapted to the quirks of my oven.

I didn't have time to fold the laundry that had yet to be done but we did have time to set the tables and even made crafty little turkey place cards.

My mom and Jason and his family arrived around 4pm and we sat down to eat just after 5pm. Even with all 8 children sitting around a separate table in the living room it was very calm and we were able to enjoy our dinner.

We partook of a gorgeous turkey stuffed with whole cloves of garlic and rosemary.

(all pictures courtesy of Kimberli Nelson)

Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (sorry, I don't put brown sugar or marshmallows on mine...just butter, thank you), sausage stuffing that turned out excellent but we'll cut the amount of sausage next time, a corn casserole that everyone LOVED, bacon green beans that could've been skipped, homemade cranberry sauce that didn't last long at all rounded out the meal and added color.....

or not!

And of course we had to have our relish tray (all the olives were gobbled up, wah!).

We left a bit of room for our choice of fresh blueberry or pumpkin pie (ty, Kim!), or apple pecan cheesecake.

The older kids did the dishes, leaving the pots and pans for us adults...but we had the kitchen spic and span in no time!

We ended the night with a game of Last Word. No, it wasn't an argument between Michael and me...we actually played the game. Kim won both rounds, if I remember correctly, which didn't surprise any of us. LOL

Overall it was a very exciting and wonderful Thanksgiving. I really have so much to be thankful for!

1/2 Dozen

Wow. It is SO quiet here in my home right now. Not that anything is different from the ordinary this morning. But it was a few short hours ago.
I was a brave, very brave woman this weekend.
After a hectic two weeks trying to get my kitchen painted and the house ready for Thanksgiving with my family, we had 14 people jammed into it all day Thursday--the majority of them children all under 15. My 4 nieces stayed the night Thursday and left Friday afternoon. I enjoyed their stay immensely and hope they all come again REALLY soon. So we had Friday evening to ourselves. My husband and I celebrated our 13th anniversary without the boys. =D
Now comes the brave part.....
Saturday morning I was scheduled to babysit for a family in Houghton. When I got there, I was informed that the dad had got the day off so I wasn't needed. I didn't see any reason to waste the 1/2 hour trip so called over to the Griffins to see if they wanted company for the morning. Turned out that they were a bit busy (that is a supreme understatement) so I instead offered to take their 8yo son, Malachi, off their hands for the weekend. Eli has been wanting him to stay over for some time now but it has not worked out for either of us. But Kelly was more than willing to have him out of her hair for a little while. When I got to the house, her 12 yo son, TJ, asked if he could come along. I figured it would be nice for Michael to have company too so I said sure if it was ok with his mom. She was fine with it and sent him to pack. "I'm already packed," he said. "I started packing as soon as you told Malachi he was going." Woo-eee! Now there is some faith in action! LOL That is how I ended up with a 1/2 dozen boys in my home this weekend. But that's not all. Oh, no....that's not all! Michael's friend, Steven, also called and invited him over but since TJ was here it wasn't going to work so I let Michael invite Steven over for the day instead.
So here we had 7 boys...ranging in age from 4 to 12. Wow.
I think Mike is crabby right now. He was really short with me and the boys all weekend. Luckily it was his weekend on call, he didn't have to put up with it too long.
Well, I'm still sane. I think. And guess what? I want to do it again. Except Mike has put his foot down that it can't be on school nights anymore. Oh well. We'll do Friday to Sunday afternoon next time! hahahahahohoheehee