Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Our Non-Electronic Adventure

So we did it once again.  Went a Month without entertaining electronics.  Kind of...  It started out like this...
...of the Non-Electronics Kind.
Every February we attempt to purge from our routine our need to watch anything on TV, surf the internet, play video games on x-box, phone, tablet.  We try to avoid getting sucked into Facebook, Pinterest, Wattpad, etc.  The only exceptions were viewing email, which, could be checked only one time per day, computer use for school-assigned homework, church work, and skyping with family.
It's a family tradition that we've attempted to respect nearly every year for the past six years. It arose from trying in vain to keep our kids, and who-am-I-kidding - MYSELF, from becoming electronic zombies.  With our wet winters it seems like we turn on the ever-addicting devises more and more throughout the dark months until Jan. It's a fight to turn them off at all. 
Homework done - plug in.
Just got home - plug in.
Can't figure what to treat a stain with - plug in and then browse the internet for hours. 
I get distracted really easily and so do my kids. 
Our success in February is dependent on how much effort we put into it. 
So we started... on February 1st, I mean February 2nd.  Only because our Seahawks were playing in the Superbowl on the 1st.  So, let me rephrase, we started on February 2nd.  Why February?  It's the shortest month of the year.
I invited our three boys, who have left the nest, to join in too.  Don't know whether or not they did, but, I do know they repeatedly reminded me that it was our non-electronic month.
How did we do?
Well on day two of our experiment, Hope and Princess were pulling out their My Little Pony Characters and they decided that they wanted to paint them and individualize some to represent characters of their own creation.  They politely asked if they could use my craft paint. 
'Of course', I said happily sitting in the next room, feeling smug and content about how quickly they were finding ways to keep themselves occupied without whining about how bored they were.  What a fine way to start off the experiment.
Not more than ten minutes later Hope let me know she had cut her finger.
'Yeah, yeah, well go wash it off in the bathroom,'  I replied, now totally engrossed in my re-reading of J.R.R.Tolkein's LOTR trilogy.
Hope then asked me to come help. So I sighed heavily, slowly putting the book down and made my way to the bathroom. 
Apparently in addition to borrowing my paints, she also borrowed my exacto knife.  Her finger was the first Opp-sie of our month of trying to entertain ourselves.  Princess offered to clean up the blood sprayed all over the bathroom walls and sink and I stuffed a paper towel in Hope's hand and we hopped in the car and made our way to Urgent care.  Three stitches later she was pretty proud of her craft wound and thrilled that she had a blood story to share with the kids at school.
Now, if I'd just let them plug in like normal this $700 plus Medical visit wouldn't have happened.  Yes, that's what our insurance paid for three stitches, the clinic charged over $1,000, but that's a different rant story.
So you would think I'd give up and let them plug in again.  NO WAY!
What I love about this month.  We play board games often, we talk more, visit more, cook from scratch more, we are more physically active, the kids really improve in their schooling, etc.  You name it, we are a much better family at the end of the month.
This year we did cheat a few times. 
Pompa and Grandma came to visit and three of our numbers were down with a nasty cold/cough bug which kept us from dining out,  or going out for entertainment.  So we introduced them to 'How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2'.  We also took our girls to Prince Erik's work on the last Saturday of February to play video games.  Oh, and I did cheat and snuck onto facebook a few times to see what was going on.  Saw pictures my beautiful new niece, with her four big brothers. I stole this picture from my Sis-in-laws facebook page.  It has three of baby angel's big brothers, herself, her mom, my mom and my grandma in it.  What really cool is this was taken in the home I was raised in.  So excited for yet another new member of the family to make memories in a wonderful home.
That was a necessary cheat.  Other times, not so much.
 Here's what really stuck out to me this year.  I did notice that I really needed a break from Facebook and Pinterest.  I would get too wrapped up and invested in what everyone else was doing.  I think it's the modern equivalent of spying on the neighbors over the fence, while your outside, pretending to do laundry or yard work.  Granted, sometimes, like seeing new family, it can be really comforting, or inspirational.  But it really is an emotional drainer too.  I used to get worked up about causes, events, unfairness, politics, negative religious rants, etc.  I didn't realize how much negative energy I spent on Facebook.   Or how that energy would stick with me and affect how I was feeling are reacting to my family who knew nothing about what I was fuming about.
As for Pinterest, wow, what great ideas.  I'll sit on the computer and dream of the fantastic things I can do instead of getting off my hind end and actually doing something. 
Thank you February,  I think our Non-Electronic Tradition will continue on next year, and the year after.  And instead of reading about everyone's else's business, I'll write about my own.
It's good to be blogging again.  Oh, so much has happened, but I'll save that adventure for another time.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

How the Grinch Saved Christmas!

I was convinced that Christmas was going to be ruined.  We found out with one week to go that our two oldest children couldn’t make it home.  Their new jobs, and starving college student budgets led them to the decision to stay put and earn all the $ holiday hours working that they could get.  So for the first time in 23 years I didn’t have my whole family at home with me.  My heart was heavy and tight.  I felt like the Grinch.

My inspiration for Christmas I found in a magazine.  It made me nervous, yet I was eager to try.  My husband and I have long felt that experiences are what you remember and not gifts.  So every year our Christmas has a different theme…  Disney, Danish, Pioneer, Give-Away, etc.  This year’s theme was,  ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas!’  So I became the Grinch.

We forced our children to set through the classic cartoon version a few days before and both my husband and I read the story to our younger girls a couple of times during the month of December.  Christmas Eve came with the accustomed Pajama’s and Ornaments. 

 Would have loved Grinch PJ’s, but the stores were all out.  We were able to get the kids different Grinch Character Ornaments.

Christmas Eve was fantastically traditional as we sat through readings of the Nativity and ‘The Cremation of Sam Magee?’  And why that poem is traditional is an entirely different post.

The kids helped put out their stockings, label their chairs, and leave a treat for Santa and his reindeer.

Our Home felt Magical.

Then the kids when to bed and the Grinch came to visit.

So when the kids arose Christmas morning they found everything Christmas gone.  EVERYTHING!  Including our outdoor lights.

They were not too happy.

They let us know they were not liking this experience.

But Hope was Not Entirely Lost!  They found 7 bags and this note by the fireplace.

To:  The Who’s named FawnDear’s Herd

He stuffed Christmas in bags.  Oh, that Grinch, very nimbly, stuffed all the bags, one by one, up your chimbley!   He took every present you wrapped up with glee.  And yes, he himself, took your Christmas tree!   You must help him to realize that Christmas means more,      than presents, and wrappings and things from a store.  Let’s help his small heart to not be so darn tight,    by giving some cheer to some homeless in plight.    So off to Seattle, you must travel right now.   I know you are asking, what, who, when, and HOW?   Find seven poor people whose budgets are tight,   and give them a bag full of goodies they’ll like.    That ought to do it, his heart will grow quick.  Scurry back home, and you may meet St. Nick.

Sincerely,  The Grinch's Dog Max

In the bags we found chap stick, gloves, McDonalds gift cards, A Candy Cane, Chocolate Santa, tissue and a Picture of Christ.  To the bags we added hand warmers, bottled water and a fresh orange.  Then we left for Seattle. 

Here is where nerves kicked in.  I was nervous,  I’m a lousy judge of people, and my thoughts drifted to all the horrible new stories you seldom hear on the news.  What would we find, how would people react?

I was shocked by how many homeless there were.  Bundled up in Sleeping bags, blankets and tarps.  Within minutes our bags were gone.  And even those we didn’t have enough for wished us a Merry Christmas and God’s blessing.  They were so grateful for our meager little bags.  Our hearts all grew!  Little 8 year old Hope said, “We should do this every year and not because of the Grinch.  We should just do it because.”  I agreed with her. 

All too soon our trip was done as we headed back to our empty home.  And you know if that was the end of my day I felt richly blessed, but it wasn’t.

Back at home we found our Christmas Activity Elves on the couch with another letter that read.’

‘Thank you for thinking of other poor folks.  See it wasn’t that hard, and you didn’t  choke.    You shared your hearts, found some Christmas Love… brought Holiday cheer and blessings from above.   The Grinch’s heart grew and your holiday’s back.  But the Sneak, hid those goodies he stuffed in his sack.   In the back yard, look by the gate,  for he left part of his load there, for Goodness Sake!   Your gifts to each other that were covered with bows, are hidden in baskets under some clothes.   The presents from Santa are somewhere quite warm,  near the furnace, don’t worry – They came to no harm.  Under the porch three items are near,  a Manger of Straw, and two white reindeer.   Someone strong like the Grinch should be able to shift,    two bookcases near the window to find some more gifts.         Merry Christmas.

So Christmas came back.  The kids loved searching for all the places that the Grinch hid their presents.  We were finding them well into the evening. 

And when the neighbor boy stopped by to play in the afternoon.  Guess what?  My girls didn’t regale him with what Santa brought for Christmas.  Instead they told him about their amazing experience with The Grinch.

And to make it a near perfect Christmas we Skyped with my boys!  I love the Grinch.



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In Review… Last Year

I must start this post with one of the  blessing of being an early riser. You get to see humdingers like this.

IMG_5934 o

What a breathtaking sunrise to close out 2012.  As I pulled the camera down from my eyes and looked at the view screen this was one instance where the colors of the pictures accurately reflected the brilliance of the sky.  I even had to wake up the kids so they could see it too – and it was so good they didn’t even complain about being roused early.

So for those near and dear to our herd hearts, here’s a brief recap and a picture.

IMG_5775 (2)

Our oldest, Abner, finally flew the nest.  He’s going to school full time, working full time and with that schedule we are lucky to see him for a few hours every weekend.  Lucky for us he is only 1/2 hour away.

T-rev graduated from High School and after months of pounding the pavement found a job pounding open freight boxes at Sears.  We are now waiting to see where he will be going to school.

Evo-man continues to be our rollercoaster wildcard. Ups and Downs rule his life.  The best thing is that his Crones is under control.  He has treatment every 8 weeks and get’s to set in a comfy chair for a few hours, while getting his remicade infusion at a local hospital.  I have to mention a huge thank you to my husbands insurance that covers this cost.  There would be no way we could afford the treatment without it, as they bill us over $20,000 per treatment..  $20,000 for 4 hours of treatment every 8 weeks.  I think there’s something fishy going on with that???

Lea is going through officially being a teenager with all the hormonal chaos that accompanies such ventures in life.  She did get a break from her stress inducing family while visiting with  family in CA last summer and going to girls camp.  She is also looking forward to Track and Field, where she hopes to continue her dominance of Discus.  She was the unofficial district champ for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade last year.  Unofficial, because she missed the district meet, but she won the event at every other meet.  My sweet little powerhouse is growing up.

Princess is still princess, and loves being in 5th Grade during the day and the world of imagination at home.  She is an aspiring writer and loves the make believe like only her mom.

Hope is still our beacon of happiness.  I can’t believe my baby is seven.  She loves everyone and is one of our happiest biggest helpers around.  She is also the major handler of our hyper kitten Meap.  Scratches everywhere don’t deter her from snuggling and might I add, manhandling that furball.

Prince Erik finally received the promotion at work that he’s been working so hard to get.  He is once again Cub Master in our ward and it’s fun to see the enthusiasm of working with 8-11 year olds has not waned.  He loves it.  He continues to love cooking – thank heavens for all of us.  And he’s the best Honey-Do Dude I know.

I finally finished De-Hoarding my home last spring.  Yes, you heard me right. It only took 2 1/2 years, over 30 loads to the dump in the truck, and another 6 loads to the thrift store.  It is something I’m so grateful for.  My mentor Mrs. Passion moved to Texas and I cried buckets when she left, but she gave me all the tools I needed to finish. 

Am I done?  Heavens no.  I’ve still got projects to do, more curtains to make, furniture to refinish and then we get to start on the jungle we call the back yard. 

My Prince let me fly away from the herd over the summer.  I went to Idaho and Utah to visit family and attend Education Week.  I loved seeing family, but I spent most of the vacation being taken care of by my mom as I hurt my back the day after I arrived.  Thank goodness she didn’t mind babying me.

When I got home my Prince had missed me so much he took me away on our first overnight vacation, without kids, I might add, in eight years..  We stayed at a bed and breakfast in beautiful Victoria, Canada.  It was romantic heaven!  He even let me bring home a crate of beach combed rocks for our future patio.  He spoiled me rotten and even replaced my wedding ring which had lost it’s diamond years ago.  I’m a lucky girl to be married to such an adoring Prince. 

My church calling has also kept me busy as a whirlwind.  I’m over the activities for all the sisters in our ward/congregation and there is always an activity in the planning or someone in need of service.

So there you have it, a long-winded recap of 2012.  The best part was last night at sunset we got to see this.


The two perfect bookends to the final day of the year. So when it’s not raining here in the Pacific Northwest we get amazing heavenly light shows.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wrapping Up Christmas

I think I found all of Christmas and boxed it up.  No doubt I’ll find a towel in the laundry or a jingle bell hidden in a couch cushion next week. For now though, Christmas is put away.  It’s always bitter-sweet putting away the trappings of the holiday season.  I love decorating everything.


I won’t miss Meap, the Claw Kitten ransacking the Christmas tree or leaving scratch marks on my reindeer.


I won’t miss her derailing the Christmas train either.


But I will miss her sleeping in the manger.


And I’m already planning for next year.  I’ve pulled out my Christmas Planner only to discover the web hosting site where I stored all the pages went down.  I’ll try and find a way to post them again.  I love what Organized Christmas does.  They have a Rudolf Club that works on Christmas on the 25th of every month of the year.  I’d love to do that this year.  So every 25th I’m hoping to get one step closer to a more relaxing season next year.  I’ll probably follow my own schedule.  So far I’m planning on May being my Power Tool Present Fest.

This Christmas was probably my most relaxing so far.  Mainly because I turned it all over to Prince Erik and my Angel Mom.  I’ve been recovering from surgery.  Nothing tramatic, my plumbing just needed upgrading after 6 kids.  So why not have it in the busiest month of the year?  I like doing things that defy reason.  But, it needed to be done and I’m sure blessed to have such a Knight in Shining Armor Guy for my husband.  Double Bonus is that he cooks and he’s good at it too.  I’m a lucky girl.


And special thanks to my Mom who braved a winter blizzard to come stay with me for a week and chase all my wild herd from one Christmas activity to another.  I owe her big time.


So I’m planning away for next year with all the excitement of a child on Christmas Eve.  I’m sure it will be here before I know it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Lights Bingo

Every year, usually the Sunday before Christmas, we take our family on a drive around town to view the beautiful Christmas lights.


Having a large herd of kids, there tends to always be one or two who just don’t have the patience the rest of us have.  So a couple of years ago my husband started rattling off Christmas objects for the kids to keep their eyes peeled for. That helped them enjoy the ride a bit more. 

This year we made them a little Christmas Lights Bingo Page.  I’ll try and link them soon.


I printed them out and glued them to a colored piece of cardstock, then laminated the sheets.

They loved them.  I let them use dry erase markers to cross off the Christmas objects that they did spy.   And the teenagers were just as engaged with our Christmas lights adventure as my little ones.


Viewing the Christmas lights was never more enjoyable.

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When we got home we used a little magic eraser and wiped our  bingo sheets clean.  That way we won’t have to create them again next year.  I’ll just slip them in my Christmas planner and they will be ready to go the next time we take a light adventure. 



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Every time a bell rings…

It took us two days to talk with our kids about Newport, Connecticut.  Two days of only watching TV when they were not. Two days of reading statements from the experts ranging from our local school district, from online new sources, and friends on Facebook.  But it wasn’t until I read what Kathryn at Daring Young Mom Posted Here, that we finally knew how we were going to talk to our kids about this. Thank you Kathryn.  You said what I needed to hear as well.

My mom happened to be with us when all of this happened and we were reminiscing about how in the olden days people hung mourning wreaths on their door when a loved one passed.  Now a dark and dreary wreath isn’t too helpful.  It might encapsulate the somber feelings and hopelessness that accompanies such tragedies, but I can’t live in that state of mind without sinking into depression.  Then this movie came to mind.

wondergful life bell

‘Every time a bell rings an angel gets their wings…’

And seeing how there are a couple dozen/plus new angels in heaven we thought we’d combine Kathryn’s thoughts with bells.

Kathryn mentioned that we can do something.  We can fight darkness and despair with light.  For every act of evil or frustration that threatens to pull us down we can counter this darkness with light and love.  The key word is ACT – Do Something.  Smile, lift those around you that are down, render service to those in need.  Might I add reach out with kindness to those who are alone or struggling.

Being Christmas time I happened to have enough bells laying around that I could make a little wreath.  I put a bell on a simple string representing each of the victims of this latest act of evil.  Sparkly silver for the kids and pink for the adult women.  I’m no great wreath maker.  I strung the bells on a string and then wrapped the string around a wire hoop.  Then, I wrapped the wire with ribbon to hide the string.  It’s simple, but now we can remember those newest angels.


Our family wrote down the names of all the victims and committed to do an act of service or reach out with love in honor of each of them.  And every time we do we will jingle our little bell wreath.  Yes, I know a bright jingle bell wreath can’t take away the hurt and heartbreak that comes with such tragedies.  But our family is choosing to make the world a better place in honor of those lives lost.  We are choosing to act with love and light.

Little Hope came home from her first day of school after the weekend and the first thing she did was reach up and ring the bells. 

“Mom, guess what, I choose to make the world better today.’ she told me as she jingled the bells.  ‘I was kind to a kid at school that was feeling bad.’  

Thank you Hope.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Up a tree but still moving

I’ve been meaning to pick up the blog pen again, for quite a while now.  There is, of course, so many wonderful, and not so wonderful things I could tell you about that happened over the course of my absence, but I feel it would be best to start with the here and now.  Sometimes the past can hold you back, and sadly all the things I’ve been meaning to tell you about have held me back from letting you into my wild and crazy life now.

So I’m back. Wild and Crazy as Ever.

Thought now would be as good a time as any to introduce you to the newest member of our herd.   Last year Pumpkin, our Ninja Kitty disappeared.  We’d like to think his stealthy moves led him on a secret adventure to someone else’s home and that he didn’t meet his demise at the jaws of a ferocious beast in the wild.  But none the less, Pumpkin is no longer with us.  And missing our mouser led to this wild and crazy fuzz ball joining our family.

Meet Meap.  The furriest pouncer on the planet.  Miss Meap, is such a wildly active little feline we’ve had to rework the whole ankle bitter definition. Yes, she really does bit ankles.


Nothing is safe from her curiosity.  This wild and crazy kitty has done more damage to breakables in my home than all my kids combined.  Within five minutes of putting up the Christmas tree here is what she did.  Then she proceeded to stay there for another two hours and would pounce on ornaments the second we hung them on the tree. 

So, in an effort to protect memorable family ornaments, we did something we never had to do with our toddlers.  We placed the tree in a alcove above our stairs.


The kids were digging the adventure of decorating the tree from the top of a ladder.

Our newest tradition this year is our 25 Days of Christ Advent Ornaments. The sweetest lady designed this and sold out this year but when she picks it up again next year I’m going to get more for family and friends.  Here’s her website.

I made some little bags to hold my 25 ornaments.  I used a scrap sheet and some leftover blue fabric that I had laying around in my craft room.  The numbers happened thanks to t-shirt printable that you can print on your printer.  Iron the numbers onto your fabric and your done. Then I hung them on twine with clothes pegs on my fireplace mantle. 


I thought of hanging little snowflakes on the bags.  Next year, maybe.  Love them.


It’s good to be back.