We have had lots of struggles and challenges in our lives, but we've had even more blessings!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall 'stuff' ~

    Well hello there :-D  How ya been? How ya gonna be?  Us? Oh, our ever eventful life continues on. As usual, I have many things to share with you. And now that I have the all clear to go ahead, or is that back to?, I will again be sharing things with you. (Don't ask.)
    Seeings how I just finished down loading a slew of pictures off our camera, I decided I should start right up with the blogging. But instead of immediately going back and playing catch-up, I want to share a couple of more recent things with you first.

    First off - our front door on Halloween
     Pict. #519

    I get ever so tired of hearing the doorbell, or pounding on the door, so I put up this type of a sign every year. "Don't Knock.  Don't ring doorbell.  HOLLAR 'Trick or Treat'!"  It is amazing to me how many kids do not 'get' why they are suppose to hollar that! [Come on parents!] Some kids enjoy proving just how loud they can hollar and I'm okay with that. It's all part of their fun on Halloween!

    If you look close, you will see that there is no window or screen in the top part of our screen door. We do that on purpose! That way, it is real easy to just lean out and put treats in kids bags, without missing any kids, or bumping any of them with the door, etc.. The next day, the screen that had been in there, gets replaced with the storm window. After all, the heat is already on in the house anyways.

   We had decided to do Kayla's B-day dinner one Sunday afternoon and chose to do so at the lodge. Yes, it costs a little bit of money. But seeings how we belong to the church, it's really not that much. Besides, we just love the place. The dogs can run around (so can the grand kids when they are here). We can build a fire in the fire place. The adult kids set video games up on the big screen. And yet the place is cozy and nice.
   Seeings how our Kayla is a girlie girl who likes 'special touches', I wanted to decorate the place just a little for fall. But I ran into a challenge, seeings how I had just loaned her most all of my fall stuff, for her brother to use at his wedding. Hummm... I thought and I thought, and I walked around the house thinking, and I scrolled through my fall boards on Pinterest, and came up with 'a plan'.
    I had Amy (remember my 'chauffeur/neighbor' Amy?) take me to the store, where I tried to buy dried beans, etc.. The problem became, they were out of some of the ones I wanted, as was the second store we stopped at. Amy checked a different store a couple of days later and hit the jack pot. THANKS Amy! :->
    The lodge has a old 'side board' that you see the minute you enter the front door. So I wanted to put decoration on there. This is what it looked like -
    pict. # 183
   close up's -     #189 + 190

    For the record, the brown 'cloth' is actually one of Elliot's baby blankets and the multi colored cloths are linen napkins. I had picked up the tall red 'flowers' to use on a wreath, but they just didn't fit. Sure glad they didn't!

    We put two of the white 8 ft. tables side by side to create one large square dining table. The burgundy 'cloth'  bottom layer, is actually a twin size sheet. The top cloth I picked up at Goodwill while I was out with Amy.
       Pict. #184
     close up - #186
    The lodge has neat old plates, which I used for colorful place settings -
    I had carried all of the beans and some of the other stuff to the lodge, in a picnic basket. I then used that in an arrangement on a small side table.

    While the red flowers didn't work on the wreath, the rest of the stuff I had picked up for it did! I ended up taking a picture of it out on Benson's car, because the house just had too many shadows that day!  The wreath was the wedding present Brent and Kayla gave her brother and wife as a wedding present. They in turn are doing a certain task for me, that is driving me crazy, but still to much for this 'Ms. Vertigo' to tackle. Double win right there!


    Speaking of Brent and Kayla, this is a picture of them taken at the lodge that day -

    It's been good to chat at you again :->

Thursday, October 4, 2012

So-o pinteresting

   I had mentioned in Tuesday's posting, how browsing pinterest was a good thing to do while being on hold. Turns out it's also a lot of fun to do late at night, while waiting out hot flashes. I have had ever so much fun stumbling across things to pin to my boards.
   The other night I had decided to pursue pins for one particular board. I typed that name into the 'search' bar, then once pic's came up, I clicked on 'boards', meaning that I wanted to see boards other people have for that subject matter. I usually look at the main picture as well as the four little pictures underneath, then decide if I think that board might have materials I too might like. Sometimes that methodology works. Other times, not so much. The other night I knew I was going to be up for awhile anyways, so I pretty much just went board by board down the wall.
    Things I found both amused and befuddled me. I'd be scrolling down through some peoples boards and start thinking things such as, "really, you like THAT?!?", or, "why in the world would you even pin that?!?". But then on other boards, I'd be smiling my way through and repinning this or that thing I really liked. The big irony that hit me, was that I started noticing that most of the time the boards I didn't like the most, were also the boards that had the highest number of followers. 'Nothing new there I guess, never have been one to follow fads, or be part of the 'in crowd'. I tried to shrug it off and just do that particular board the way I had the others in that 'category' - my way/style. After all, they are 'my' boards. I do so enjoy looking through them over and over again.
   But I didn't succeed in fully shaking that felling of disappointment. I'd like to be the owner of boards that has high number of followers. Why is it that I'm always so different?  Same 'ole human feelings that I've struggled with for years. I know that God made me me for a reason. I know that wanting to have high number of followers is a pride issue. I prayed about all of it. I determined with in my mind, to let go and just enjoy pinterest for what it is, a world wide collection of styles and ides, out of which I can set aside the ones that I really like, on what ever board I choose to do so.
   The next morning God had an awesome surprise waiting for me. I usually check my emails, then Facebook, before venturing forth into pinterest. The surprise awaited me on Facebook. Abby A. M. had posted this to my wall - "I could seriously look at your pinterest for hours. It's like this huge collection of awesomeness."  And Laurie M. had 'liked' it. My reply back was, "WOW! Thank you ever so much!!! just wow!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

it's been a year...

   It was one year ago this week, that Byron and Elliot moved in. What a year it's been! Sigh. Having your children go through a separation, that's headed to a divorce, is hard! You never want anything to hurt any of your children. No matter their age. No matter if they were born into your little family, or married into it, or arrived as grand children. Sometimes that means that you want to wrap them up in plastic wrap and protect them from 'life'. Other times, the mother bear in you needs reigned in. Oh how you want to hurt those who are hurting yours. Yet you know that's not the right way to feel, let alone act. So you vent to your husband and dear friends. Asking for comfort. Asking to be held accountable. And you pray constantly for strength. And wisdom.
    And you proceed forward. Striving ever so hard, to make sure you dot all your 'i's' and cross all your 't's'. You really don't want to be responsible for adding any fuel to any fire.
    And apologize when you keep going on about something, when you need to 'drop it'. After all, they are adults. While yes, you do have the right (so to speak) to add input and insight,  they  are  adults.  And must make their own decisions. Just like you wanted to be allowed to make your own.
   And you strive ever so diligently (and hard), to let all involved know they ARE loved! Period.
   So it's been quite the year. Man has it. In many ways, a very l-o-n-g year. And this coming year shall be too.
   And of course, that's not the only struggles we've had this past year. And I know this coming year shall hold struggles else where in our lives as well. That is after all, 'life'.
   'Lord, thank-you for your never wavering love for us! Thank-you for being my strength. Sure couldn't keep going on my own! Thank-you for being in charge of all of the 'details'. Help me to remember it really is 'your will not mine' that I want. I really do! It's just hard to keep in focus at times. And thank-you for these kids. All of them. I am so-o blessed!'

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Smiles amongst 'details'

   Some of you might remember way back HERE, when I told you about getting our new trash and recycling carts. Recently, we had received notification that the city was 'upgrading' their cart program. They were completely doing away with the city garbage bags. EVERY body is suppose to call and request a rolling bin. Yes, each sized bin still has a different cost to it, but instead of paying for service a year in advance, you 'pay as you dump'. Which is kind of false, seeings how you have to go on line and put money on your account, before they will start dumping your cart.  Any-ways, if you don't put your cart out to get dumped one week, you won't be charged for service that week. So in the winter, when smells will be frozen, if the cart's only half full, we won't bother wrestling it through the piles of white precipitation stuff, to get it out that week.
    When we were notified about the coming of this change, it said that those who already have carts, will be receiving a letter containing their new account number and pass word. I kept an eye out for it, but it never arrived. Then last week, our emptied trash bin had an orange 'flyer' sticking out of it, stating that if we did not activate our account, they would no longer be dumping our cart. The 'flyer' gave both an on line address and a phone number.
    I tried the online address first. Couldn't activate anything. Bother! So I dialed the phone number. The recording asked me to please hold, and let me know that I was "position number 24 in cue". Then the music started. Then the recording came back with an update on my position. Sometimes it seemed I was moving forwards. Other times, nothing had changed. "But if I hang up, it will be this way the next time I try too" I told myself.
   Deep breath. 'I can be on hold and still browse pinterest...'  O:-D
   Once I was connected to a human, he answered my comment about how busy they must be, by telling me they had moved 9 people into the phone bank. Thankfully, he was a very nice, even humerus man. And he tried ever so hard, but he couldn't access our account either! He tried via our address. He tried via our name. He had me walk outside and read the code off of our cart to him. That didn't help at all. He said that he couldn't find any history of cart pick up at that address of that street. I suggested that maybe it's under this other street name. "Which street do you live on?!?" he asked. 'The first one, but our trash is picked up in the alley, which runs next to our house and the alley has a street name'. "Oh". "Nope, not finding it listed on there either". "This is most befuddling". I agreed!
    He let me go, reassuring me that he would make sure this was looked into, that he would call back if they had any further questions, and they would let me know when it was all sorted out so I could again try accessing my account. "Thank-you". "No, thank-you for being patient and even fun to talk to" he replied. I smiled.
    That day I felt like one of my sons. I never left a room with out taking the phone with me. But they never called. They didn't call the next day either, which was a Friday. 'Okay then... we'll see if this gets straightened out before next trash day' I told myself.
    I found this message in my email inbox when I got on line Sat. evening -

I just wanted to let you know that we will be sending you a new refuse cart in the next 3 business days because the cart that you currently have is not ready for the new Pay as You Throw Program.  We will be picking up your old cart on a service day sometime after that.  If you could please have your old cart empty and out on the curb on your service days that would help us a lot.  Thanks so much and let us know if you have any questions."  It had been sent by a lady. Well, he did pass the information on and it did get handled', 'Thank-you' I mentally said.
    Then I got to thinking about it. 'I really should send them a thank-you reply'. So I did. This is what I sent -
"Hi        :->
   Thank-you for looking into and rectifying our situation! We shall be watching for the arrival of our new cart, then transfer our trash into it and put the old cart out on trash days to be picked up. Kind of sad, I found that old cart to be such an aid(!).. I so enjoyed being able to just fill it up when I went on one of my cleaning sprees. It's almost like letting go of a beloved toy of my adulthood...
    Thanks again!!!
Cheryl B.

      At 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, she sent this back -
"Too funny! Have a great week!"

'Lord, thank-you for prompting me to start her week with a smile'.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Analyse's 3rd Birthday - Part 2 - Decorations at the party

   In Part 1, I shared how-to's and pictures of the decorations we (Analyse and I) had made ahead of time for her 3rd  birthday. I thought you might enjoy seeing how they looked at the party.
    We 'strung' balloons. I used fishing line off of a big spool and a large eyed needle.
I had gotten the idea off of pinterst (surprised? o:->) (this pin). The pin had originated off of the blog 'A Girl and A Boy' (THIS particular posting).
                                               June 2012 #309

   I strung the balloons. Byron and Brandon hung them from the little metal hooks already in the walls (they hang Christmas lights from there during that season). And then I held Analyse up to help spread the balloons out.

    FOR  WHAT  IT'S  WORTH - we also did this method for hanging balloons, at the graduation open house we did for Erin. Both times the balloons had this thing for tangling themselves around one another on the fishing line. THEREFORE, from now on, I intend to connect one end of a length of the wire where we want them hung, then start stringing the balloons to it, connect the opposite end, then spread them out. Betting it will ease the process tremendously!

    At the far end of the room, we hung the birthday banner cards I had made last year. You can find the 'how - to' HERE.
   And closer up's of the three words -
    An overview of the side of the room where the Balloon Wreath was hung. (The ceiling fan kept the thing spinning a lot.  Next time I'd string each side to the balloon strings)
    An overview of the Ribbon Wreath side of the room.

   And a close up of the Food Buffet.
   We served make your own chili dogs (1/4 pound hot dogs, buns, chili sauce, shredded cheese, ketchup, mustard, chopped onions), A couple of types of veggies and dip, potato chips, pink lemonade and chocolate cupcakes.

    { As always, you can see any of the pictures larger by clicking on them }

     This concludes Part 2 of Analyse's 3rd Birthday - Decorations at the party.

     Part 1 was - Preparations for the Party

     Part 3 - Fun at the party, will be coming soon in a posting on this site.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


    Benson and I got to discussing words last evening. We both love them. He has a far better grasp on how to properly use them than I do, but that doesn't stop my continuing attempts.
    We love how putting certain words together, can create all types of sensations. Sometimes the combination is made up of words that suddenly make you hungry. Sometimes they make you feel all nostalgic. Other times they cause you to feel totally frustrated. Occasionally they create the sensation of great excitement. I could go on and on with the examples, but my guess is that the words I chose to use, helped you get the idea I am trying to convey. ;->
     We talked about how slippery of things words have a tendency to be. You can have your thoughts all organized, start talking, then suddenly a word or two just totally disappears out of your line up. And of course the now missing word is always one of the majorly important words to getting across what your trying to say. Or it's a person's name. Often the name of the person your talking to! We both agreed that that is the most frustrating disappearing word scenario! Your mind starts racing trying to come up with the now missing name. It reminds you of their kids and or spouses name, or how many kids they have. You remember what foods they do or don't like. Or types of books. Or movies. Etc. Sometimes you remember something you did together, or some time you were both at the same place. Often all kinds of other information about them will suddenly pop to the forefront of your brain. Everything except their name that is! It can be so frustrating. And embarrassing.
     We talked about how some people seem to have a real gift / knack for using words, while other people seem to have no real flair for it what-so-ever. And why was it that during our school days, too often teachers assigned reading written by people that lacked greatly in the flair department? Did they feel sorry for the authors and thus want to give they sales a boost or what?!?
     That then lead us to talking about poems. I shared that I swear I had to memorize a couple thousand poems over the course of my schooling, yet only a couple still easily come to mind. My favorite being one of Robert Frost's.
     "Who's woods these are I do not know
      His house is in the village low
      He will not see me stopping here
      To watch his woods fill up with snow..."
     Benson's voice had joined mine by the second line.
    He then went on to share what he pictured every time he heard it. He always envisioned a man with a sleigh, all decked out in Christmas greenery and laden down with packages. He thinks it is due to how we always seemed to have to travel through lots of snow, to get to Christmas. Sometimes so much snow, that we would have stayed home if it had been any other day of the winter.
     I, on the other hand, always envisioned an adult male, stopping along the road at dusk. He was trudging up the road/hill on his way home from his shop in town. The town where the man who owned the woods lived. He knew the man and knew that he was of a high enough good character, to not begrudge somebody else the pleasures of observing nature in his beloved-ed woods.
     The man who had stopped, was enjoying the rest from his daily hike up the all too familiar road. He had always enjoyed the woods along the road. But there was just something special on this particular night. Maybe it was the first real snow of the season. Perhaps it was the way the star light was being reflected in the falling flakes. Or maybe it was just simply that his weary soul needed refreshed by the beauty in front of him.  After all, the poem did end,
     "and miles to go before I sleep,
      and miles to go before I sleep."
    Was he referring to actual miles yet to travel, or the seemingly miles of tasks awaiting him?
     I told Benson that I think my rendition has to do with my love of being at summer camp. The camp I attended was literally in the middle of the woods. And I LOVED it! I loved the long paths leading through the woods to the various sections and camp fire. Even at night. I wasn't scared of the 'unknown' in the woods. My fear was always that somebody I knew would be hiding to scare me. And I hate being scared. To tell you the truth, I have no idea if it ever happened. That part is irrelevant to today's topic anyways. I LOVED those woods and I had often wondered what they were like in the middle of winter. I bet they were/are beautiful!
     I'm curious. Do you too like that poem? If so, why? What have you always envisioned when hearing or reading it? If not, why not?
     For the record, no, we were not discussing said poem due to missing winter, seeings how we've been experiencing multiple days in the high nineties with high humidities. That part was totally consequential. Honest!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Analyse's 3rd Birthday - Part 1 - Preparations for the party

    As I had shared in THIS posting, the party for Analyse's 3rd birthday was to be in Michigan this year. At first I was going to go with this 'theme', then that one. I had come across lots of wonderful ideas on pinterest. The final decision was made, after we had taken the kids to have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny. Immediately afterwords, we went to Red Robin(R) ("yummm" ;-p) for lunch. As we were departing, the hostess gave Analyse a helium filled balloon.
   To say she was thrilled to have said balloon, wouldn't be a strong enough expression of her enthusiasm. Seriously. She dubbed it "her friend". It became her constant companion until she left for mommy's house a couple of days later. 'Okay then' I thought, 'a balloon themed party it shall be!'  
    This posting then, is about the preparations we did, the things we made, ahead of time, for her Balloon Themed 3rd Birthday Party.

   Part #1 - the invites
    Here is a picture of the supplies used -
                                               June 2012 - #119

    This picture is of how the supplies were used, to make the covers of the invites -

    The inside of the invite, listed details about the party. Directions to the party, were printed on the back. I had used the computer and printer for both of those steps, before doing the fronts.

   Part #2 - the Ribbon Wreath
     I had found the idea for it on pinterest (this pin). The pin had originated off of the blog 'Everyday Celebrating' (THIS particular posting).
    When we got to the 'Dollar Store' they didn't have very many curling ribbon packs in stock. 'Okay then, instead of doing it only in the primary color ribbons like I had seen, we'll change it up a bit. Let's see... it is for Analyse, and she does love the color pink...'. I was also able to pick up the swimming noodle to use as the base, at the Dollar Store. However, they didn't carry the metal pins to hold the ribbons in place, but we were able to get them at Hobby Lobby(R)
     One of the reasons I wanted to make the wreath, was because I felt it was a project Analyse and I could do together. We did.
     Step #1, was to measure the wreath to the size I wanted. See, Brian and I had recently stopped at Kingma's Market(R). While there, I had spotted the wooden cheese crates they had for sale. 'Those would be perfect for storing wreaths in.' We bought one, for under $2.00!  I need to go back and get another 'one', at least o:-D
     The idea to use a swimming noodle as the base, came from this pin. Which had originated from the blog, 'The Art of Doing Stuff' (THIS particular posting).

    Step #2, was to tape the noodle to form a wreath.

    While I was getting the ribbons free of the cardboard they came on (something I highly recommend doing ahead of time, like when the kids are napping), Analyse decided to try the wreath on for size.
     Silly girl.
     A look at the various ribbons used.
     I put the pins in, she pushed them down.


    The finished wreath.


   Part #3 - the Balloon Wreath
      This one too, was an idea I had found on pinterest (this pin). The pin had originated off of the blog 'The Creative Homemaker' (THIS particular posting). I had ended up needing to pick up the large packages of the balloons at both stores too, due to low supplies were at the first. I used less than half of the amount of balloons the original blogger had used, and about 3/4ths of the swimming noodle.
      Step #1, was to separate the balloons. Having learned my lesson while making the ribbon wreath, I did the first couple of steps during nap time! (:->)
    Step #2, was to set the balloons up in the order I wanted to use them. (in other words, making sure I'd get a good combination of the colors, without loosing track of what I'd used last, and without having to dig through the bag to look for the color I wanted.) Turned out to be a good plan! 

    This is a close up of the baggies of balloons.
                                                        #252    Step #3, was to prepare the swimming noodle.

     I had also thought that sitting the balloons up the way I had, would help teach Analsye working in patterns, working her way down the row, handing me one from each container in progression. Turned out that was still a bit too deep for her to grasp yet. No big deal! Just had to change where I sat.  
     Step #4, Analyse handing me a balloon.

     Step #5, Align the balloon and start the pin into the swimming noodle. Analyse would then push it the rest of the way in.

    One small section/area done.

     From the front -

    hanging on the front door, where she constantly admired her "pretty decoration!" :-D


  Part #4 - Jelly Bean Bracelet's
      While we didn't want to do large sized "goodie bags" or some such for our guests, I did want to do 'something'. I wanted to have a little something that Analyse couple personally give to her guests, as though she was giving them a present. I had a bag of Brach's(TM) Tiny Jelly Bird Eggs left from Easter, and the idea I had seen for making bracelets out of them kept coming to mind. I figured it would be a simple little project to tackle.
     I couldn't find my original pin for this idea, so I searched for and found said pin. You can see it here. The pin had originated off of the blog ''My Kids Make.. And Yours Can Too' (THIS particular posting).
     Here is a picture of the supplies I used.

    I had picked up a spool of stretchy thread at Wal-Mart(R). While it worked great in aiding the bracelets onto adult sized arms, it didn't like to stay tied in tight knots. A couple of drops of Super Glue(R) directly on the knot itself worked wonders! :->
    And getting the needle to actually go through the jelly beans, took a bit of trickery and effort! I used a wet wipe to clean the needle off between jelly beans. And I chose to only put a few jelly beans on each individual bracelet.
     Wrapped the finished bracelets in a small piece of tin foil. Taped them closed. At the party I walked Analyse around the group, having her hand them out. She seemed to really enjoy doing so!
     She had passed them out before opening her own gifts. Here she is still wearing hers while opening gifts.

   Part #5 - Balloon Paddle Ball
      I wanted some type of a game that EVERY-body could participate in. But what kind can you do, besides board games, that both great grand parents as well as three year old's will enjoy playing? I found just such an activity. Yup, yet another wonderful pinterest idea :->. (THIS pin). I can't give credit beyond that, because when I click on the picture itself, a warning comes up, saying that it's trying to redirect me to a site which might have inappropriate contents..... . I choose to go back to pinterest!      
    I used Elmer's(R) glue to attach the wooden paddles onto the cardboard backed paper plates. But it wasn't taking real good. So I pulled out my roll of pink duct tape and applied some of it to each paddle. The next morning, after being allowed to dry overnight, they were connected but good! :->

    The last "ahead of time preparation" which had to be done, was the cupcakes. I made the cupcakes themselves using the same Chocolate Cake Recipe that I had used for her birthday cupcakes the previous two years. You can find the recipe for both the cake and the chocolate frosting HERE. The 'Balloons' are M+M's(R), laying upside down. And I cheated and used gel tube frosting for their strings.
     This concludes part 1 of Analyse's 3rd Birthday - Preparations for the party.
     Coming soon in a posting on this site -
     part 2 - Decorations at the party
     part 3 - Fun at the party

   { As always, you can see any of the pictures larger by clicking on them }