Monday, January 31, 2011


We had homemade waffles yesterday. Everyone loves them. We usually have a few left after everyone stuffs themselves.  Like I mentioned, everyone loves them.
Some family members really, really, really love them. And some family members were really bored.

Friday, January 28, 2011

So how's your Bible reading going?

Somehow I got behind 10 days on my Bible reading plan. There's really only one way it could have happened--I haven't been reading my Bible every day. And somedays, when I read my Bible, I read a different Bible and read Phillipians (which we are going through at our church), rather than this Bible that will get me through the entire Bible in one year. It is a disgrace that I could get 10 days behind--IN JANUARY.

I am happy to report that, as of right this minute, I am caught up! I love reading the Old Testament again. The story of Joseph is the most amazing thing ever. If you haven't read it in a while, you MUST go read it again --start in Genesis 37.

I hope your Bible reading plan is right on track. If you are behind, keep plugging away. It is so worth the investment of our time. I am so grateful for His word. I am determined to keep going, even when I get behind.

"For the word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
 it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
 Hebrews 4:12

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ice Candle Holders

We had some really cold weather last week, so my youngest daughter and I made some ice candle holders. We've made something like these before, but had never tried a candle holder. They are really fun and pretty, but be sure to put them in the freezer if the weather gets warm.

These are super easy to make. Fill a container with water to form the base and then a smaller container (weighted with water) to create the cavity for the candle.  Adjust the amount of water in the small container as needed to make the cavity for the candle the right size. The cranberries stabilize the small container and keep it centered. We put them on the porch to freeze, and then ran hot water over the bottom of the bucket to release them the next day.

A few years ago we made these:
Notice the twine at the bottom of the picture? It was used to hang the pretty block of ice over a post on our porch. You have to have the twine in before the water freezes.

So...go take advantage of the cold weather and make some winter beauty!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mini Meatball Sandwiches

This recipe has become a favorite of mine recently.
 It is easy and delicious and everyone likes it.
DING DING DING! It's a winner!
 I got it from Pioneer Woman--you can read it for yourself here, with pictures and a printable copy.

Or read my short version:
(double this recipe to serve approx. 8)

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 t. salt
1 clove garlic

2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 jar marinara sauce
12 dinner rolls
provolone cheese

Mix the first six ingredients.
Heat oil in skillet and add onion, cook for 1 minute.
Add meatballs--I use a cookie scoop and plop them straight from the bowl into the skillet as fast as I can scoop.
Cook for a couple of minutes, turning to brown both sides.
Pour marinara sauce over, cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until centers are done.
(Perfect amount of time to make a salad and set the table!)
Spoon meatballs and sauce onto rolls and a slice of provolone cheese.
Keep your napkin handy!

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm so glad it's Friday

This has seemed like a long week. My family is glad it's Friday.

It felt like a long week on Monday when...
We headed out of the mountains for home, at the end of our wonderful Colorado ski trip. The snow started Sunday afternoon and was expected to drop 2-3 ft. of snow in the mountains by end of the day Tuesday. We watched the weather carefully, and knew that we would drive out of the snow in the first hour or so. We got up early so that we had some cushion in our schedule. We knew it would be slow going through the mountains--and it was veeeery slooooow going through the mountains.  These are pictures as we travelled east on I-70 (west of Denver).  We left at 7am and drove about 40mph. The snow added about 45 minutes to our trip. At one point we almost stopped all the traffic on east I-70 when our van couldn't make it up a hill. We were very relieved to get this part of the trip behind us.
We heard that later in the day on Monday, a 2 hr. trip took 5 hours, and that the interstate closed at one point. We were glad we headed out early that morning. When we reached Denver it was 50 degrees and sunny. Then we made tracks for home--and we weren't driving 40mph anymore. We got home by 9 pm.

It felt like a long week on Tuesday when...
I realized what my calendar looked like for that day.  We had our normal life to jump back into, with school, band lessons, piano lessons, dog-walking, a vet appointment for our dog, etc.
Byron had hurt his thumb pretty badly on the first day of skiing, so he went to the doctor for an x-ray and found out that it was broken. We got punched it the gut with real life on our first day back!

It felt like a long week on Wednesday when...
Byron went to an orthopedic surgeon and learned that he would be having surgery on his hand the next morning. It was a bit easier day than normal for us at home, and I'm very thankful for that.

It felt like a long week on Thursday when...
we got to the clinic in Des Moines for Byron's surgery at 9:30 and the power went off 15 minutes later.
I was his driver, so I had rearranged my day until approx. 2:00, when we expected to get back home. Instead, we sat and waited for the power to come back on for 90 minutes. (They didn't want anyone to leave, because they would rush their patients into surgery the minute the power came on...whenever that would be.)  He eventually had his surgery and all went well, but it was a looooong day. We got home at 5:00 instead of 2:00. I was really glad for supper in the crock pot.

My teenagers have had a long week too, making up school work they missed while they had fun skiing. It was fun, but always a shock to jump back in to reality.

 So today my family is very glad it's Friday. 

Hope you all enjoy the weekend!

Monday, January 17, 2011

He's been quoted...

My husband reached a career milestone! He was quoted twice in an article in the Wall Street Journal on January 3.
We are so proud of him!

Here is a link to the article: click here

His quotes:
"From what I hear in the market, pension funds and life-insurance companies are a bit short of duration, and any significant rate rise from here will likely be met with real-money buying," said Byron Carson, a rates strategist and trader at Principal Global Investors.
"It won't be a big challenge to soak up all that Treasury issuance," said Mr. Carson of Principal Global Investors.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My High Altitude Adventure

Every year when we come to Beaver Creek, my family talks about the awesome views from the top of the mountains. I've sent my point/shoot camera up for them to take pictures, but we always wish I could go up to see for myself.

Today, we looked into options a little further and found out that I could buy a "scenic ride" lift ticket. I bundled up and grabbed my camera! Byron met me at the bottom and left the kids skiing around up on those mountains somewhere. As we got higher the temp dropped lower--just like they told me it would. Good thing I was bundled up! It was great to see the family and share the beautiful view with them.
I could hardly catch my breath, the views were so amazing. (wait... maybe it was because I was freezing and the air was so thin!)

Later in the afternoon (when I was back home with Ryan and Meggan) Byron, Brandon and Ellyn called me from a spot we can see from our living room window. I grabbed the camera and zoomed in on them from the living room and took their picture.  Then I got to watch them ski down the mountain.

Photo Organization--Part 1

I am going to spend some time this month organizing my digital pictures.(I need to delete a lot of pictures.) January is a great time to organize our homes, and our photos could probably use a little tidy as well.

If you take many pictures, it doesn't take long to have them in a mess. Some basic organizing practices can keep things in order. People ask me about this topic often, so I'll pass on some of the things that work for me.

If your photos are a mess, I would recommend working on them a little at a time. It can be too overwhelming to spend long periods of time at the computer. Set a timer and leave the computer when your time is up--you will get them tackled eventually!

First, if you are behind on printing, choose a store that is convenient and set up an account to upload from home. It will make your photo-life sooo much easier. I use Walmart for most of my printing, because I am there frequently and can pick up the prints without making a special trip somewhere else.

my best tip for managing the printing:
When I load pictures onto my computer, I have them all go into a file/folder called "digital camera photos". When you hook up your camera or insert your memory card into your computer, you should see a way to choose where your pictures are going to be stored. Until I made a folder called "digital camera photos" my computer automatically put them into a folder with the date. Every time I loaded pictures on my computer they went into a new folder. I could not keep them organized with this system. Now they load into the same folder everytime I download. They stay in that folder until they are printed, then I move them out. If I decide not to print them, I go ahead and move them to their permanent folder as soon as I can. This plan helps me tremendously, because when I need to place an order for prints, I am not searching through different folders trying to remember what pictures I've taken that have not been printed yet. I try to keep the "digital camera photos" folder from getting too full. When it starts getting a lot of pictures in it, I know it's time to print. If you have another person in your home loading pictures, you have to teach them to follow the same plan in order to keep your process flowing. (Or make them their own folder(s) to keep their pictures separate.)

Next, decide how you want to organize--chronologically or by family members, maybe even by events.
I organize by family member for the most part, since this is how I organize them in photo albums. Remember, the date is part of the permanent file/properties that go with each photo, so you won't lose track of when the pictures were taken.

Go into "pictures" on your computer and make folders to begin sorting photos in to. If you have alot and they are disorganized, start with folders for the years representing your pictures, or possibly start with a folder for each family member. The folder system needs to work for you. Start with general organizing first, then later, within each "big" folder, you can add more folders that are more specific. You can change your system anytime, so don't worry if it's not perfect. If you have a lot of printing to catch up on, make folders for each year and within each year, make another folder that is called "to print"--move them out when they are printed.
-->Use your new system with all the new photos you load, then gradually work on getting the older ones in order.

My folder system (remember I take ALOT of pictures):
one per family member--within those folders are folders for school, sports, friends, dance, birthdays, etc.
one folder called travel--within it is a folder for each trip/vacation we've taken
additional folders for siblings, our family, relatives, pets, friends, and one called all miscellaneous--each has more specific folders within

Spend a few minutes thinking about how you will want the folders arranged when it is time to find an old picture. Will you remember the month/year it was taken or who was in it? Let that help you decide how to organize. Get started! It will feel so great to have them organized!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A "Western" Response to the Superior Chinese Mother

Yesterday, I linked a Wall Street Journal article by Amy Chua on Chinese mothers. It was an excerpt from her new book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." Ms. Chua said her children were never allowed to attend a sleepover, have a play date with a friend, play any instrument other than piano or violin, get anything less than a straight A. Apparently the article generated 5700 comments--it stirred quite a lot of emotion among parents.

Today, the Wall Street Journal printed a response by Ayalet Waldman, a Jewish mother of four who lives in California. She wrote about the virtues of letting kids quit, have sleepovers, and the value of letting them find their own way. You can read it by clicking here: In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom
Amy Chua, i.e. Tiger Mother, also responded to a few of the questions prompted by her article, which was very interesting. She sounded much less extreme in her responses than in the original article.

After reading both articles and the responses by Amy Chua in today's paper, it seems that an extreme presentation of Chinese parenting got a lot of attention--exactly what the WSJ was going for. I bet it helps sales of her new book as well. Regardless, both authors seem genuinely interested in being involved and loving parents. These articles have made for some fun conversations in our house--hope you have a chance to enjoy them as well.

Enjoying one of our favorite places...

Beaver Creek Colorado
This is our fifth year--absolutely love this place!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Interesting perspective on parenting...

My husband emailed this article to me this week. He said we need to change our parenting ways so we can be more like Chinese mothers. Then he said he thought this approach was way over the top. Then he said he had no idea how we should parent. Then I agreed with him. Then we decided we better get some help for our four children.  Just kidding, but read this article. It will make you think about your parenting.

From the Wall Street Journal, click here to read: Why Chinese Mothers are Superior

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Retro Rooms

After Christmas, my daughter and I spent a couple of hours looking for treasures in my parent's basement. It was great fun to hear my mom's surprise at the things we would be interested in--especially the girls.

Both girls had been interested in adding an old phone to their room decor and I was pretty sure there was one at my parent's.

Ellyn redecorated her room as part of our remodel process. We pulled out her carpet to switch to wood floor and repainted, so she had a great opportunity to change things up a bit. She has added a lot of retro vintage items and wanted an old phone. My parent's basement did not disappoint.

She came home with an old record album to hang on the wall (you know...a giant CD, as my younger kids call them), a bit of my old bedroom wallpaper to put in a frame and an old dial phone. It is missing the cord, but maybe we'll come up with one at some point.

This phone once had a short cord, but I remember the day we switched to the long one. With the long cord I could stand inside the bathroom with the door shut for PRIVATE conversations. This phone has blood, sweat, and tears in it! Probably not my blood, but surely my sweat and tears. I spent hours chatting with friends, hours and hours. Until one of my parents would insist that I hung up.

It's pretty fun to see it hanging on the wall in my daughter's room.

Unfortunately for my younger daughter, the old green desk phone that I spent hours talking on must not have been saved. We don't really know where it ended up, but she would have loved to bring it home for her room. Instead she got the red heels that my mom used to wear dancing. They are so cute! She added them to her eclectic mix of dresser decorations.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Photo Organization

I am working on a couple of posts for this week to explain how I organize my pictures on the computer. People ask me about it a lot, and I will tell you what works for me. If you take many pictures, it is easy to have them in a mess in a very short amount of time.  Let me know if you have any specific issues that I should address.

January is a great time to get the pictures organized!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One Little Word 2011

Have you heard about "One Little Word"?

If not, you can read about it in this post by Ali Edwards.

For my 2011 one little word, I chose the word JOURNEY.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I want my life journey to look like. I want to be purposeful and on the right track. I've likely already lived the first half or more of my journey, so what will the second half of my journey look like?

I believe that this year will bring a new journey for me to experience--my oldest child is graduating from high school this year, and I will finish homeschooling my youngest two children in May. August is going to bring a new "journey" as I will have no kids home during the day for the first time in 18+ years. I'm not sure what I will do when everyone leaves the house at 8:00 am. I am determined to embrace this new adventure, but first I have to get through the rest of this school year!

So in celebration of all of life's journeys, and the new one for this year-- my word is JOURNEY. I am excited to see what God has in store for my family and me for this year.

If you choose one little word, please leave me a comment. I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Fresh Start

I love the feel of a new year. It is so fresh and new, daring me to make changes and re-order my life.

Making new plans feels great, because I'm not least not yet. : )
For example, my Bible reading plan.
The first time I read through the entire Bible was in 2007, and I used this version:
I read with an entirely new perspective, because it is written in chronological order. I learned so much about Old Testament history, because it was finally in the order it happened! I am planning to use it again this year and am excited to be starting!

So... what are your plans for the new year?