Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving... Counting your blessings!

Food, Family, and Fun. What every Thanksgiving should be about. This year we made the 3 hr road trip to Gail's sister's house. It was a blessing to spend the day with a four generation span of family. I was reminded of the excitement of firsts having a new baby in the family, the excitement of wedding planning with two new fiances in the family, and the blessing of having grandparents there to share it with.
Thanksgiving is always a good time to stop and reflect just how lucky we are, so catching up on my Thankful 30 list this month...
  • Day 20 - My babysitter. She is a blessing, a saint, an angel, and every other wonderful description you can think of. We are blessed to have such a great family looking after our kids when we can't. They are like an extension of our family and we love them for it!
  • Day 21 - Wildlife. It is abundant around here and sometimes we forget how lucky we are to see it so routinely. I took this photo of a buck when I was driving to work the other day.

  • Day 22 - Texting. With the race we all live in everyday, it's nice to be able to take 3 seconds to send a message that just says hi but really means "You are in my thoughts and I luv ya!"
  • Day23 - Digital Cameras. I've been working on a big Christmas project at work and I have a zillion old pictures to scan into the system. Made me realize how great digital cameras are and how easy they make sharing special moments in life!
  • Day 24 -My mother-in-law. Sounds funny to call her that. I just think of her as a second mom I've been blessed with. Here she is with her great grandson Caden. It was so much fun watching them interact.

  • Day 25 - Turkey Day Food. We had enough to feed an Army and still have leftovers yesterday. We are so blessed to have so much. Not to mention we are blessed to have some pretty darn good cooks in the family!
  • Day 26 - Kids. Right now they are trying to use the self-timer on the digital camera to take a photo of the two of them. It's hilarious to watch them try to beat the timer and then race back to see how it turned out. They have also lined up all the baby dolls, tractors, and stuffed animals to take a "family portrait" of them. I think Lori took too many pictures yesterday and now they are addicted!

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and find yourselves as blessed as we feel that we are!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Poppy anyone?

Last Saturday, the kids and I had the opportunity to take a 2 hour shift at a local fundraiser on behalf of their 4-H club. The local VFW post was selling poppies in honor of Veteran's Day and they were taking donations to raise money for our Veterans. It was fun to see the kids interact with strangers and to see how grown up they have become. It was also a great way to teach them about community service and giving back. The thing that stuck with me most, however, was the wide array of customers and their stories. Here are just a few that touched me the most...
  • An elderly lady stopped to speak to us and we discussed how the weather drastically changed that day for the worse. Rather than complain, she said "I thank God every day that I live in Nebraska and get to enjoy all the different weather we have. I would hate living in the South where it was just sunny all the time!"
  • Since we were stationed in front of the grocery store, we got to see all types come in the door. One lady had her hands so full of reusable water jugs and grocery bags that she could hardly walk. I commented that being environmentally conscience takes a lot of effort and she said "Yeah, but it's soooo worth it for my grandkids to have a better place to live!" Sidenote: there was only one other person in the two hours we were there that had reusable bags to get their groceries. That should be our next project!
  • After one gentleman donated money, the kids and I thanked him for his generosity and he said"No, thank YOU for spending your Saturday afternoon contributing to such a good cause!"
  • A lady came in who was obviously pregnant and had two little kids in tow. She appeared to be disabled because she had a handicapped parking permit and could hardly walk. You could see the struggle with every step and she seemed overwhelmed with the little ones and the task at hand. But instead of grumbling, she had a smile on her face the entire time. She even brought her cart back into the store when she finished loading her car, while 90% of the capable individuals just left them all over the parking lot! Clearly, positive attitude goes a long way.
  • The most touching interaction was with a gentleman who asked what the donations were for. When we told him it would go to the veterans, he said that was a good cause because he was a veteran. He proceeded to completely empty his wallet which happened to be a rather large sum of money. When I asked what branch he was in, he told me he served in the Army in Vietnam and that when he came home his brother was sent over. His brother didn't make it back.

And suddenly I realized it wasn't so much about the money we raised, but the act of showing respect and honoring our veterans. It is beyond comprehension what sacrifices they make for us. Veteran's Day should be celebrated every day in this country!

So on day 19 of thankful 30 month and a week after the official Veteran's Day celebration, I hope you join me in continuing to be thankful for our Veterans!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Scenic Views

I think the photos in this post will speak for themselves. These were taken in 4 consecutive days, some in the morning, and some in the evening. The sunrise and sunset have been spectacular EVERY. SINGLE. DAY lately! I carry my digital camera in my purse and I'm forever pulling over to take pictures because they are just beautiful. So today, I am thankful for God's beauty in the everyday occurences of our world!

Speaking of being thankful, I need to get caught up on my Thankful 30! I jot them down when I can't get to my computer so here's what I have since my last post:

13 - Selling poppies with the kids to raise money for the VFW (post coming soon about this!)

14 - Gail taking the kids for a few hours so I could finish some projects and get a 4 mile run in!

15 - Having lunch with an old friend that I hardly ever see these days

16 - Talking to my brother and his kids and being able to tell my niece Abby happy birthday!

17 - A nice compliment from a customer... it made my day to be appreciated!

18 - The SUNRISE that you see in the first photo above... it was amazing!

Have a great day!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The state of contentment

I was lying in bed the other night and thought outloud, "I've never been so content in life as I am right now." I smiled in the dark when G paused for a moment and said "me too". It got me thinking about the true definition of contentment. Out of curiosity, I googled it and wasn't really too surprised at what came up.

Lots of quotes from famous people...

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” - Cicero

“Happiness is self-contentedness.” - Aristotle

"Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” - Socrates

And numerous discussions on the effects of finances, relationships, jobs, kids, and social situations and how they are all intertwined with happiness and contentment with life.

I also found an interesting article I thought I would share from here. You can read the entire article by clicking on the link. Here are some highlights that hit home for me personally.

"Count your blessings. When you find yourself unhappy with something, or with what you don’t have, take a moment to count all the good things in your life. And I would bet there are many. It puts the focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t.

Stop, and remind yourself. When you find yourself unhappy with someone, or trying to change them, stop yourself. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you should try to be happy with that person for who he/she is. Take a moment to think about the good things about that person, the reasons you love that person. Then accept their faults as part of their entire package.

Stop, and consider why you want something. When you feel the urge to buy something, think about whether it’s a need or a want. If it’s a want, take a pause. It’s good to wait 30 days — keep a 30-day list … when you want something, put it on the list with the date, and if you still want it in 30 days, you can buy it). Consider why you want something. Are you not content with what you already have? Why not?

Take time to appreciate your life! I like to reflect on my life, and all the good things in it, on a regular basis. I do this when I run, or when I watch the sunset or sunrise, or when I’m out in nature. Another great method is a morning gratitude session — think of all the things and people you’re thankful for, and thank them silently.

Show people you appreciate them. It’s good to appreciate people, but it’s even better to show them. Give them a hug, smile, spend time with them, thank them out loud, thank them publicly.

Breathe, and smile. Once again, advice from one of my favorite monks, but it works in this context. Sometimes when we take the time to breathe, and smile, it can change our outlook on life.

Learn to enjoy the simple things. Instead of wanting to buy expensive things, and spend money on doing things like eating out or entertainment, learn to enjoy stuff that’s free. Conversations and walks with other people. Spending time outdoors. Watching a DVD or playing board games. Going to the beach. Playing sports. Running. These things don’t cost much, and they are awesome. "
You know what I notice the most about the above listing? They all include an action... Count, Remind, Stop, Consider, Take Time, Appreciate, Breathe, Smile, Enjoy, Learn. And the action is on the individual. Others can't do it for you... it's up to you.

So catching up on my Thankful 30... I am thankful for
  • 10 - Being content in life
  • 11 - The power of Google!
  • 12 - Being able to stay home and take care of my sick little girl (again!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kelley Creek Walking Trail

My Thankful 30: Day 9

This kids and I have been spending some fun time at the walking trail in town before the snow chases us away for the winter. Since I've been reflecting on things to be thankful for this month, the trail certainly comes to mind. It is so nice to go for a run or a bike ride without worrying about traffic or uneven pavement, especially when I have the kids with me. The trail also features specialized outdoor exercise equipment along the way so you can stop and do all sorts of exercises and workouts.

Demonstrating a piece of exercise equipment...

And taking a break at the park...

It doesn't get much better than that!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thankful 30: Day 7&8 - the "list"

We have so many things to be thankful for... I don't know how to pick just one. So here is a random list of thoughts that popped into my head this weekend:

my sweet husband, pumkin pie, my new bike, Aunt Suzi, Lexi enjoying her new doggie bed, my best friend B, watching the kids make a big pen for the rabit so he can hop and play, a freezer full of food, children's church for my kids, Vanilla Spice Chai, running 3 miles, my sister-in-law, our neighbors, mashed potatoes and creamed corn, my washing machine, and the kids giggling together....

just to name a FEW!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thankful 30: Day 6 - My big brother

Today it's my brother's birthday so I was thinking about him and how much fun we used to have. Growing up, we were always great friends. It seems like we seldom fought (although my parents might have another version). I remember people sometimes mistaking us for a couple because "there is no way two siblings could get along as well as you two do!". He always drove me to school before I was old enough to drive and he was my biggest fan at many events. We played in the dirt, practiced basketbal for hours on end, did all our 4-H stuff together, rode motorbikes and snowmobiles, and of course chopped wood. Time, distance, and busy lives has allowed us to drift apart over the years but deep down I know that rare connection is still there. So today... I'm thankful for having the best big brother a little girl could ask for!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thankful 30: Day 5 - Bar stools!

Today I am thankful for my new bar stools, the tools to put them together, and my helper that made the job so fun! It has totally changed the atmosphere of the kitchen as I now have a little audience to chat with while I prepare meals. They like to pretend they are watching a cooking show and I like to take a lot of "commercial breaks!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful 30: days 1-4

I hate to be a copy cat but I've been seeing a lot of posts about November being a time to reflect on the things we have to be thankful for. I thought I would take up the challenge to both a) increase the frequency of posts on my blog and b) think of something to be thankful for each and every day. Even if you don't have a blog, I challenge you to do the same. It seems like it should be easy but we sometimes take for granted all that we have been blessed with on a daily basis. The first days are easy, but what about the end of the month? I find these exercises both reflective and inspirational, but most of all they are good at reminding me of what really matters. Why stress over dirty dishes and laundry? There are games to be played and memories to be made!

S0 today, I'm catching up....

Day 1 - I am thankful for my family. We have been so blessed with health and happiness both in our little family of four as well as our extended family of parents and siblings on both sides. As I hear of tragic accidents, illness, and broken families all around us, I am reminded just how lucky we are!

Day 2 - I am thankful for our jobs. We have been blessed with a great place to work, a kind and generous boss, the flexibility to work around our family's hectic schedule when necessary, and the financial stability to provide all the blessings we enjoy on a daily basis!

Day 3 - I am thankful for living in rural America. We may feel isolated from the rest of the world at times, but we enjoy the safety, security, and beauty of wide open spaces every day. Rural living provides an opportunity to teach our kids about ethics, an appreciation for hard work, an ability to be creative and experience nature daily, and the sometimes hard lessons about life and death. They are grounded in their roots and they will have the foundation to someday be successful and give back in their own way.

Day 4 - I am thankful that our house remodel project is nearly complete. Mainly because of reasons 1 thru 3 above, we have been able to withstand the last year or so of destruction, construction, and all out transformation. We are now living in a house that we will strive to make a home. I have learned in this long process that it's not the square footage or the ammenities that make a house a home. Rather, it's the little things like the piles of toys and games around the house, the mud on the floor after a hard day of working with the livestock, or the piles of dirty laundry we create that remind me that we are the luckiest people in the world!

And now... I'm off to play with the kids!

The Indian and the Hunter ride again...

As our adventures in the horse club continue, we had the opportunity to participate in the annual Halloween Horse Show at the fairgrounds this year. It's more of a fun day for the kids and the proceeds go toward a fundraising event that the kids choose.

Being our first year, we weren't sure what to expect, other than a fun day. Let's just say it exceeded our expectations. The kids had a great time, both sets of grandparents, one Aunt & Uncle, and a couple of neighbors all came to support our kids. I think we collectively made up about 40% of the audience but everybody had a good time.

They did a pumpkin race, the hula hoop lead back race, a ribbon race, the keyhole race, and of course the costume contest. There are some pretty creative people out there and some VERY tolerant horses! Here's a kid who came as "spider man". Behind him is a "Southern Bride". Her "bridesmaid" came in an a pony right behind her!

We turned our bay horse into an Appaloosa "Cuz that's the kind of horse an Indian should ride!". And of course she had to ride bareback and barefoot because "the Indians didn't have fancy shoes and saddles way back then!"
The Hunter costume was pretty easy and since it just happened to be opening weekend of pheasant hunting, he got to tag along with the big boys and learn all about it. I think they spent more time snacking and driving then actually doing any hunting!

We completed the night with about 5 trick-or-treating stops and the kids were ready to crash... which is always a sign of the end to a GREAT day!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Since we've been under construction the past year or so, our living conditions have been less than ideal for the kids to have a friend or two over for a play date, much less for a full blown slumber party. So... after a year of "I promise when this is over you can do ______ (insert kid's wish here), I was more than happy to follow through on a few. The first and biggest was for Allison to have a group of friends over for a birthday/slumber party.

It all began Thursday after school. We decided to take advantage of no school on Friday and the 3 day weekend to recover! I offered to pick them up, but for some reason riding the bus is SOOOO much cooler when you have friends!

They played in the barn, chased the horses, rode the 4-wheeler, watched movies, played air hockey, painted pumkins, finger knitted, and much more. I didn't know those little bodies could pack so much energy!

We ended the second day with a Perfect Princess Tea Party at the historic Keystone Hotel. The girls had a wonderful time and the moms got to enjoy some down time with some pretty tasty food and a nice cup of tea!

Complete with tea and goodies, story time, craft, presents, and princess cake. What more could this group ask for?!?!

Happy Birthday to my little princess! We love you!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer Daze

As much as we complain about the hot days of summer, I'm always a little sad when the nights start to cool off. It's a tell-tale sign that fall is nearing and the beautiful colors that filled the flower beds won't be with us much longer. Enjoy it while it lasts. As my kids say, the trees will soon be "naked" again and we'll be wishing for those hot days! So today, I'm thankful for these:

Knockout Shrub Roses

Regrowth on Salvia Cardonna

Red and White Verbena

Purple Cone Flowers

Black Eyed Susans

Silky Gold Asclepias

Purple Morning Glories

Have a great day and don't forget to stop and admire your flowers!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's ALMOST over!

Some of you are probably wondering what happened to the "big" remodel we were doing. Well... we are STILL doing it! Slowly but surely, we are plugging away. It was a year ago this month that we were so excited to see the first concrete poured for the foundation of the addition. Now we are so excited to see them finally go away! It seems like they are getting down to the final details, but it is still agonzingly slow. I thought I might share the exterior before and after. It is 99% done and we can't be happier with the results! It won't be long and you will be coming over for a BBQ on that new porch of ours... unless of course it's snowing by the time we get it all done!
Before the addition and landscape...

The new addition to the west of the original structure...

Notice the old little windows in the front of the house before...

And the gorgeous new window that took their place! The views are beautiful (inside and out!)

Goodbye pine tree and more little windows...

Say hello to a room with a view!

Now you just have to come see it in person... so come on over!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Where is everybody?

I just noticed it's been nearly 2 months since my last post. Like you, I find myself wondering what I've been doing or where I've been lately that has kept me away. As I scanned my recent photo files for potential blog material, I discovered why I've been away. So here's a snapshot of our life the past two months...
Going Fishing...
Road Trip to Indiana / Swimming at the lake...
Playing with Cousins...
Playing Softball for Six Weeks...
Wheat Harvest...
Riding Horses with Friends...
Taking Roping Lessons...
Checking the Cows...
Nate's Birthday...
Swimming Lessons...
The 4-H Fair - cookies, posters, and showing a rabbit...
Quick trip to the Salina Zoo & Museum...

Meeting our cousin's first baby...

So what have you been you been up to?!?!