Summer Bucket List! Tornado. CHECK.

Summer Bucket List! Tornado. CHECK.

Tornado. I can now check that off my bucket list. Not that it was ever on it, but I can now say that I am a true Kansas girl. Just like Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ, I too, have experienced a twister. My family, and our little dogs too, rode it out in our basement. Instead of being transported to the magical and mystical Oz we seemed to have passed through the Bajoran Wormhole and propelled forward in time. I am looking at the date in disbelief, June 2. Really? How is it that an entire five weeks have passed since the event and I have accomplished so much and at the same time so little, and yet so much is still to be done and apparently I am missing a huge block of time. The whoas of time travel never cease to amaze me.  FYI, I’m not sure that our insurance would cover damage from an ion storm during time travel, so we will continue to place the blame on the actual weather event than the whole Trekker wormhole theory.

There are so many things that must be done that at times it is, frankly, it’s a little overwhelming. I think I am doing pretty well at keeping my head together, but I am tired of shopping. We love to have fun and shopping is not on the top of our fun list. We enjoy being outdoors, creating, and doing new and interesting things together as a family. That has been a little derailed this first leg of summer. Not that we aren’t enjoying each other, because that can be done anywhere, but it is hard to make shopping for sheets fun.  I said hard, not impossible.

Ways to make had-a-tornado-gotta-replace-most-of-your-furniture-and-clothing shopping fun in 10 easy steps:

1. Sing in the Car. Loud. You have dance also. This must be done to songs that most everyone knows the words to or at least a familiar tune that everyone can make up their own words.

2. You must laugh. If this means that, I, the wacky mom must talk to strangers to keep the mood light it has to be done. I suppose I should feel bad for that poor young department store employee that I almost ran into and than said, “oops, I’m sorry I won’t hit with my cart.” As I allowed him to pass in front of me, “or will I?” He looks over his shoulder half smiling and I smile back and speed up. “Better walk faster!” I call after him. We all got a laugh out of this one, well except that poor boy who may, or may not have called security. I certainly hope he knew I only joking. Or was I?

3. Never underestimate the power of an ABBA dance party in the middle of a parking lot. Try it. No regrets.

4. Take a break! There is nothing we enjoy more than kicking back on the patio furniture and relaxing. Since that was damaged and we haven’t had time to replace it, just have seat in the store. Enjoy it and relax. When the store associates ask you if you they can help you, order a pink umbrella drink and Tip BIG if they pull it off.

5. Eat fried chicken and Twinkies in the car. Absolutely, positively, breaking ALL the rules at once.

6. Go for bike ride! I don’t care if it has been 34 years since you have been on a bike (ahem…. ME!) You get that adorable lime-green bike with the big-booty mama-seat off the display rack and take it for a spin through the toy department. All I needed was Toto in the basket! Bam!

7. Try to get the young and inexperienced clerk to lick the debit card of the young men in line ahead of you. Yes, that happened. “I heard if you lick that magnetic strip it will work like a charm every time!” I smiled politely as they wondered if she would actually try it.

8. Create a bond with anyone and everyone. Everyone wants to feel like they are part of a whole, camaraderie makes us feel good. This can be achieved by pointing out a trait or obvious hobby and adding “_____ on, my friend” directly after. For instance, we saw a gentleman with a trailer full of kayaks and I pumped my fist out the window and yelled, “Kayak on, my friend!” He thought I was crazy and so did my kids. Other examples include, to a fisher-person “Fish on, my friend!” To a cook, “Cook on, my friend!” You get the picture, but the fist pump is important for the overall feeling of emotion.

9. Compliment and talk to your cashiers and servers! You will meet the neatest, and sometimes the oddest, people. I know that sounds funny coming from the queen of odd, the princess of peculiar, but it is so fun to take the time to get to know the people that you are around. We all come from such different places, but are all so much the same. Listening to another persons struggles and triumphs really puts our own into perspective and most people are so hungry for human interaction they will eagerly share themselves.

10. Don’t forget to dream. Yesterday alone we were in three different Wal-Mart stores and a Sam’s Club trying to buy sheets and mattress pads to fit our beds. There comes a point where you have to take a break from the “have-to’s” and focus for a bit on the “Wow, I would like to try THAT!” Check out the sporting goods and the electronics and DREAM. Can you imagine the ABBA dance party we could have with this speaker? Check out this giant paddle board! Where would you take it first? DREAM. Have conversations about where you would go and what you would do. I know that right now we are stuck in a department store buying new sheets, but next month we may be living out the dreams we build TODAY.

I’ve joined a group called the Smokin’ Hot Mama Club that encourages making a bucket list and setting goals, so I thought that I would share my bucket list here. I kept it pretty simple, because we are still living in some chaos here at the casa, and yes my printer is still tornado broken and I couldn’t print off the “official” bucket list (but I think mine is super awesome anyway!). Hopefully we won’t have any additional wormhole or significant weather events to derail our fun, but I know that if we do we will hold our heads high and laugh our way through it like we always do or be detained by security. Either way, good memories.



Read Across America 2014


I take my job as a mom pretty seriously, just as most of us do, so I am constantly seeking activities that enrich our learning. Several people have asked me how I locate activities and, honestly, I just look. I subscribe to newsletters. Many. Many. Too Many, Newsletters. There are a few who still send out newsletters through the mail, but most of flood my email inbox weekly. I also follow many different organizations on social media, but I always have one ear to the ground awaiting the next great opportunity to come barreling down the tracks. We have been fortunate to hear many great speakers this year from experts on area immigrant settlements and the civil war to most recently, a holocaust survivor who shared her experiences within a Nazi concentration camp and a message of spreading kindness to others. Sometimes we still find some small holes where there is just that little something missing, so we work together to figure out what is missing and what would make it feel more complete. Participating in Events such as Read Across America Week is a great way to use our public speaking and performance is a great way for us to fill the void we have in that area.

In April the kids began memorized Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout by Shel Silverstein for Read Across America Week. They did a great job and created props to go with the story line and a few actions. The first week of March they were able to visit Little Lites Early Learning Center, Lincoln Elementary School’s 2nd Grade classroom, and Autumn Place Residential Care (Retirement Home) to perform their selection. Check out two of the performances in the videos below.

Read Across America: A Look Back at our Wacky Wednesday


March 2013

**If you are reading this, please take a moment to leave me a comment on my blog.**

Today my kids are working on a performance piece for Read Across America Week .  As I reminisce on the last year and how much we have grown as learners and as a family it brings a smile to my face.  Last year, in March of 2013,  we went to the 2nd Grade classrooms in our local elementary school and Sarah and Logan read aloud and made posters for “Wacky Wednesday.”  This Dr. Seuss classic has always been a favorite in our house.   The students enjoyed the presentation and Sarah and Logan received a certificate from their former second grade teacher, Vicki O’Neal. We really enjoy our local school district and they quality of education that they offer to their students.  Home education is something we chose to do based on our personal goals and philosophies, and not at all because of the school or even public education in general. We are blessed to live in a country with an education system that allows all students the opportunity to gain knowledge.

This year Logan and Sarah decided to go a different direction and have memorized and are working on props for a fun Shel Silverstein poem. I will post the video of their 2014 performance later this week.

Please excuse the shaky video, because I was holding a very inquisitive baby who REALLY wanted to grab my camera. 🙂

This Game Called Life

This Game Called Life

004     My 12 year old daughter proudly announced this morning at breakfast that we were invited to the ribbon cutting of her new board game. She grabbed a pair of scissors and a twelve inch length of ribbon. The red chamber coats were not present, but it was a very wonderful affair filled with excitement.

I must admit that I was more than a little confused. Board game? I went to bed a little early, but was it really early enough for my child to create an entire game. I was very surprised at the professionalism in her prototype. The name of her game is “Happy Go Lucky.” It is complete with a box, game board, game pieces, dice, and instructions. The basic premise of the game is to roll the miniature dice and move your game piece (which includes an alien, butterfly, penguin, cat, and dog) and move it the specified number of places. Oh, no! Don’t land on a negative number or you will have to subtract from your accumulating score.  The highest score wins!

I suppose this is a Sunday morning lesson in creating joy and being content with whatever life brings you.  She found her happiness in an empty box of Girl Scout cookies, some pieces to a jewelry kit that just never quite worked right, and the cardboard packaging backing from a pair of tights.  I wonder what kinds of things my life has given to me that I simply ignored because I was so fixated on the empty box of cookies rather than the possibilities and joy that it could bring given a new and improved purpose.  So distraught by the mismatched pieces in my “life kit” that I underestimated the value and purpose they would serve elsewhere. Very soon I will grumble about those tights that will be covered with runs and snags and probably even holes, but that piece of cardboard will be around a long time and serve an entirely different purpose.  I will walk by faith and not by sight.

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5: 4-6 (NIV)


Empty box of Thin Mints


Wow, that is tiny! Roll it!


This is the backing from a pair of tights. Pretty creative 🙂


As with Life– it comes with instructions


These were part of a bottle cap jewelry kit she got for Christmas a couple years ago. She could never get them to stay put, probably because they were meant for something greater.


We Are Not Alone


Yesterday I posted a sentiment that I have found out was not unique to me at all. I received messages from working moms, stay at home moms, and homeschool moms saying that they feel this same lack of community.  So I am making the month of March the official month of encouragement! Encourage your family, your friends, single parents, elderly, SAHMS, working moms, and pretty much anyone breathing.  Be an extension of Christ. Allow him to be your hands, feet, thoughts, and actions.  Encourage as he would.  Build a community based on this simple message of love and service to others.  Please send me a message and tell me how you are serving the people in your life just as Christ would serve them?


Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Caution: Unsocialized Homeschooler Ahead


Life After Christmas Break


Dear December: I. Miss. You. With the new year came some new responsibilities for this wanna-be-super-mom. During our home education adventure we were enrolled in an online public school here in Kansas. We chose this avenue for many reasons, and a quality education and seamless re-entry into the public brick and mortar school (should the kids want to) were among the top two. As we re-evaluated our needs last summer we thought we may like to venture out on our own, but decided we wanted to learn more about what we needed to do make our experience successful.

Earlier this fall we made an informed decision and finally took the big leap! In the state of Kansas home educators are required to register their “private” school with the state and we chose a fantastically pretentious name: Compass Academy of Excellence. I. Love. it. In addition to academics a focus of our education is HUMOR. Have fun. Smile. Life is too serious, so why be twisted up when it simply isn’t necessary. Yes, we had some fun with our official name, but I assure you that there is some serious learning happening on East 9th street.

Our previous “virtual” school allowed for only core subjects and one elective per year, and while we had freedom to explore whatever we wanted much of our “free” learning time this winter and fall was already allocated to high stakes common core testing. Learning should be a balance of what we need to learn and what we want to learn. I believe that our new schedule is a perfect fit for us! We still have our core subjects of History, Pre-Algebra, Language Arts (reading, grammar, literature, vocabulary, and writing), and Life Science. Our electives were difficult to choose, but we finally decided on Computer Science: Coding, Spanish, keyboarding, Art, Health, and physical education.

The following is one of our latest challenges to welcome in the new year (and the end of Christmas break) the kids were asked to pick an interesting person from the early part of the twentieth century and make a 2-3 minute iMovie about them.

Self defeat in 5…4…3…2…1: “I am not creative!”


Thinking of beginning a new creative hobby? 2014 is YOUR year! I have friends who have great creative hobbies, and they have perfected their craft and some have even turned those into small businesses. I don’t really have a hobby. Sure, you read my blog or see my facebook posts and think “Obviously, sewing is your hobby.” I can agree with that to an extent, but I also have boxes full of other hobbies that I have dove head first into that will contradict that. I think my hobby is actually exploring creative hobbies. I want to do it all.

One of my favorite hobbies is sharing new things with young people. I have served children for years through ministry and scouting, and only recently taken a break to spend more time exploring and having creative adventures with my own family. I hope that by introducing kids to different creative outlets that they will embrace their creativity and explore it even further.

The best thing about working with children is that they see the beauty in everything and creativity is so much more about the experience than it is about the finished work. Creative insecurity is a learned behavior and I think that we can erase these self-defeating thoughts by building our creative confidence. In 2014 I will embrace a childlike approach to creativity; I will strive for less doubt and more do. If you have ever uttered the phrase, “I am just not creative…” You need to make this your year of exploration, because every one of us was born to be creative. Repeat after me,
“In 2014 I will not be afraid to fail; I will simply create.”

december 044

Sarah had her friend Caitlynn over and we decided to do a Christmas Giving project~ Quilty Mug Rugs! I made four different patterns for the girls to choose from.

december 057

So many choices! We picked out a couple new “Creative Cuts” Fat Quarters and combined it with our stash of scraps to create a one of a kind look.

december 058

The girls traced the patterns and cut out their Quilty Mug Rug pieces.

december 060

Caitlynn was very excited to use the sewing machine and did a fantastic job piecing her mug rug.

december 062

This is what I live for. That moment of pride in a job well done. Triumph.

december 079

I spray basted the tops to a warm and natural batting and a pre-cut neutral backing.

december 081

I squared up each of the blocks.

december 045

Both girls decided on a quilted design to put on their Mug Rugs, and they got pretty creative.

december 046

This is the binding that we put on.

december 052

Sewing on the Binding.

december 095

These are Sarah’s finished Quilty Mug Rugs. (They also hand painted mugs to go with the rugs)

december 101

These are Caitlynn’s finished Quilty Mug Rugs. (They also hand painted mugs to go with the rugs)

Learning to Lean: Making a Handcrafted Cane

Learning to Lean: Making a Handcrafted Cane

Tim’s parents left on Christmas day for a short mission trip to take food, toys, and other supplies to an Orphanage in Mexico. Duncan is 81 and Rosa, who is just a few years shy of that mark, have been doing missionary work in Mexico and Central America for 42 years.

It’s difficult for those of us who do not have that same call on our lives to understand why they must take off and go into a very dangerous country several times a year. The journey to the United States border town is arduous enough at their ages, and because we follow the news we also understand the gravity of the decision to cross onto Mexican soil; Duncan and Rosa understand it too. Logan has also reached an age of understanding. He worries from the time they cross into Oklahoma until they return home.

When I sat down to write about the cane that Logan made for his Grandpa Duncan I was reminded of this scripture:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

We see their travels as more dangerous because of their age, but it has taken 80 years for God to mold them into the servants that they are. They are no longer stable on their feet and more dependent upon God and those around them than ever before, so it is not that much of a leap to see the symbolism between using a cane and gaining the wisdom we need to be less self-reliant and more symbiotic with the plan and the path God has directed for us. We pray that the this cane serves as a reminder for our family to lean on God and allow him to direct our paths.

photo(32)photo(30) In October we cleared some overgrowth at the back of our property and trimmed back some overhanging limbs.  Logan shaved off the bark and coated the exposed growth rings on either end with wood glue to keep them from splitting.  They were allowed to dry for six weeks.

lures and tree 064The cane was carved to the desired diameter tapering to 1.25 inches at the bottom and sanded until smooth.


lures and tree 062

An English Chestnut stain was applied to the raw cane.

december 006

Three coats of polyurethane was put on the stain. (This was done in a well ventilated area~ picture was recreated)


The end was cut off the cane and the leather was cut. Pilot holes were cut in the leather to hand sew the pieces together.

december 026

A shallow hole was drilled in the cane so the cross fit flush against the surface. The finished leather grip was sewn tightly to the top of the cane.

december 040

The backside of the sewing.

december 041

A rubber stopper was attached to the bottom of the cane.

december 038

This is the leather grip with the Cross.

december 037

The finished product!

december 073december 143december 144december 148