Wednesday, February 29, 2012

View From the Couch

 Last night I felt like I had been hit by a truck and was in bed by 7:30 p.m..  Apparently I caught the nasty virus that has been going around.l  I taught Monday morning at the school and had a student who was ill in class and a para pro who also was not feeling so well there also.  They must have shared this with me.
 Bradley is due this Friday and Grammie does not want to miss out on meeting him at the hospital so I am spending my day on the couch trying to rest.  At least I have a pretty snowy view outside.
 I'm cuddled up under the warm flannel blanket my mom made and there is a fire going in the pellet stove.
 My faithful Sasha is curled up in her quilt on the floor right next to me.  She loves laying under the coffee table.  I think she feels safe there.

Daisy is keeping a watch out for anything or anyone that might stop by.

Mollie is curled up in her favorite spot.  She has claimed my grandmother's antique rocking chair as her own, thus the soft blankets on it to protect it from her claws.

Now I just have to kick this virus in record time!  I don't have time to be sick.

Sunday and Sasha the Snow Dog

When we left the house Sunday morning to go down to Lewiston to do some shopping it was clear and beautiful with no snow...this is what greeted us upon our return.  The ironic thing was that we were down buying seeds for the garden this Spring.

Jeff out shoveling once again so we could get groceries and purchases unloaded.

Poor Sasha had been locked up in her big dog run/kennel all day and needed some play time.

She loves fluffy snow and trying to find her bright yellow ball in it! 

Playing keep away from Daddy.

Just try and come and get it from me Dad!

Snow in the eyeballs does not feel good.

Hey, that's not fair, where did it go?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Very Blustery Day!

 Roo: Look, mama, look! A kite!
Kanga: Oh, my goodness! It's Piglet!
Winnie the Pooh: [Being dragged behind Piglet] Happy Windsday, Kanga. Happy Windsday, Roo.
Roo: Can I fly Piglet next, Pooh?

It's a very blustery day outside and I felt like Winnie the Pooh when I ventured out to check and see how our trees were faring in this wind.  Luckily, this wind storm has hit when the trees are not budded out yet so it should not affect our apple or cherry trees.  The gust have been strong enough to rattle our house and I have seen things blowing by my window.  The neighbors across the street have a poor tree that is taking a beating and there are broken branches all over it.  

Before this storm hit, Jeff and I spent part of last evening moving all the lumber, gardening supplies, patio furniture and anything else that could go become a flying missal if picked up by the wind, into the garage.  Jeff also secured the hot tub cover by locking it down tight with a tow strap and some very heavy cement blocks.  I, not thinking, moved a heavy cast iron bird bath and ended up paying for it with a strain to my neck and hurting my back once again.  You would think I would learn NOT to do these things but sometimes I forget that I need to be careful with my neck and back.  Unfortunately I had to cancel out on subbing today...sore necks and sciatic nerve pain are not a good combination when working with kids and having to be up and down with them all day. :(   I'm really missing those kids  because I had been looking forward to spending the day with them...they keep me young! :)

Jeff and I have our volunteer work later today delivering food commodities to our friends that are shut ins.  Since I cannot lift anything, Jeff will do that and I will help pick out the items for our friends since I know their dietary restrictions.  These are all wonderful people who have given so much to others all their lives and are just in need of a little help at this point in theirs.  I treasure my friendships with them, even more so now that they are getting older and we have lost many of them to illness and old age.

Praying that the winds calm down before Jeff and I are off to do our deliveries and also for the safety of our wonderful volunteer driver and helper who went up to Spokane in these bad winds to get most of the food for our distribution.  God be with them as the winds blow them around on the roads and keep them safe.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Politics and Boxes

I realize that I may step on some toes here but hey, this is my blog.  It is a safe place for me to express my opinions.  I welcome other viewpoints, as long as people remain polite and do not go on the attack. :)  I think we can all learn from each other. :)

Lately, with all the political ads, attacks, town hall meetings and media coverage I have grown tired of people trying to put other people in neat little "Boxes" based on their political affiliation.  If a candidate or representative from one party says or does something someone else does not agree with then guess what...all of a sudden every member of that party (the one who belongs to the party they disagree with) is "Bad" and must agree with whatever it was that was said. I'm here to disagree with that!

Just as there are many variations in shapes, sizes, colors, etc. in flowers, there are also various opinions and personal beliefs within each party because it is made up of individual people.  Just because I belong to one party does not mean that I agree with everything they stand for or say in the same way that I am not going to disagree with everything the other parties say either.  I think there is good in each and there is also some bad in each.  If Joe, from party C says something that offends me, I am not going to hold that against everyone else in party C, maybe Joe is just being ignorant and/or has not researched his facts.  Likewise, if Tim, from party Z, says something that I find well informed and that I agree with, even if I am registered with party S, then I give him credit.  Maybe someone from party S (which I belong to) says something that I do not agree with...well guess what, I am not going to agree with him just because I belong to party S.  I base my beliefs on what makes sense to me and what my core values are.  I try to take in the information, sort through it, research it and then I vote for the candidate that most lines up with my beliefs and values...I don't care what party he or she belongs to and vote across party lines all the time.

Do I think our country is in trouble?  Yes...just look at what is happening all around us with people losing their jobs and homes.  Do I think we can add trillions of new debt to our already burdened system without it collapsing like it did in Greece?  No...and I sure don't want my grandchildren and great grandchildren paying for our unwillingness to buckle down and stop spending money we do not have.  Do I think we need to make some major changes in the way our government is currently run with all kinds of Pork Barrel  (Pork barrel is the appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's district) spending riders attached to bills?  Yes!  Do I think Congress should be able to exempt themselves from "laws" put on the rest of Americans when it comes to health care?  No way...if it was so good then why are they exempting themselves?  Do I think any of the political parties have all the answers?  No!  And that is exactly why we have to try to work together as Americans to solve these problems and stop attacking one another.  

We ask children, with all different belief systems and opinions in our schools to get along, to be respectful of one another, not fight and expect them to rise to the occasion and yet here we are watching adult men and women tear each other apart and make sweeping generalizations of each other based on political party affiliation.  It is shameful!  I think people need to start paying more attention to what people do and look at each individuals track record.  Let's be honest here...people in both parties have "talked" a lot but what have they really done?  Are they being honest and transparent?  When they have made a mistake, have they owned up to it?  These are important issues to me at least because it comes down to Character.  I want someone honest, open and with common sense holding the various offices and someone who is not afraid to to make tough decisions, even if they are not popular, in order to get our country back on track.  And one more thing...and this is just my opinion, but I feel like the Commander in Chief should have served in the military at some point, so that he/she knows what our men and women in uniform went through/are going through/will continue to go through.  I really think it would help them in seeing our soldiers as individual people and not just "the forces at their command".  And yes, that is spoken as the proud mother of an airman along with being the daughter, sister, DIL, SIL, granddaughter and great.....granddaughter of many generations of brave military men and women.  So please, don't put me in a "political box" and assume that you know how I or any other person feels about every issue in each political party.  Thank you and have a great day! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Heart For God

My oldest son Jaysn after getting a 5 year award at work.
My oldest son, Jaysn, is an amazing man with a heart of gold and one that is on fire for God.  Jaysn, from the time he was just a tiny little guy, had a love for the Lord like I have never seen in another child at so young an age.  He wanted to please and serve God in any way that he could.  Through the years, I have watched my kind, loving and tenderhearted son reach out to others whom were feeling down or left out of things.  If someone needs something, Jaysn tries to find a way to help them.  He has given people some of his own things and helped them financially when he is able.   He just wants to help people and it does not matter what their age, religion, race or anything else. Jaysn sponsors a child overseas so that child can go to school, have clean clothing and good food to eat.  He has helped teach Sunday School, helped with Summer Bible Programs, been in a praise and worship band, and currently helps with the International Student Ministries on a college campus near us.  Jaysn truly reaches out with God's love to others and I am so honored to be his mom.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Frankenfood and Other Nastiness in the Foods We Eat.

There has been a lot of talk in the news lately of genetically altered food.  There is currently a new type of sweet corn that was developed by Monsanto that has pesticides engineered into it.  It should be hitting the grocery stores by this Summer.  There will be no signs letting you know that it has pesticides engineered into it and there is currently a petition asking Walmart not to sell this stuff.

  1. Whether you shop at Walmart or not, they are the largest U.S. food retailer, and if they won't sell genetically engineered sweet corn, it's likely that farmers won't plant it.
  2. Genetically engineered sweet corn will not be labeled, so you won't know what you're buying.
  3. Monsanto's GE sweet corn hasn't been tested for human safety, and it contains three different genetically engineered traits that have never been used in food eaten directly by people.
Honestly, this scares me!

There was also a news story on Yahoo about The 5 Grossest Things You're Eating .
Here is just 1 of the things mentioned (go read the article yourself and see what the others are).  I am quoting it here:

Gross Food #5: Grain products

Why it’s gross: Many packaged breads and baked goods contain L-cysteine—a non-essential amino acid made from dissolved human hair (often from China) or duck feathers (mmmm). Food manufacturers use the ingredient as a commercial dough conditioner, meant to improve the texture of breads and baked goods.
Why it’s bad: Eating something derived from the human body violates the religious and ethical beliefs of Muslims and vegans. Plus, eew! If you want to avoid ingesting hair and feathers—and really, who doesn’t?—try eating unprocessed whole grains like oats and brown rice, and make your own baked goods whenever possible.

I don't know about you but I sure do not want to be eating someones hair or feathers.  Yet another reason I make most of our breads here at home...I know what goes in them!

My husband and I sat down and talked about it and have decided to be more selective and try to learn more about what is in our food.  We also have decided that we are only going to be buying either organic non engineered or heirloom seeds to plant in our garden this year.  I realize that we cannot escape all the chemicals and things put in foods that we buy but we can cut down on buying certain foods that we do know have these problems and we can grow some of our own food.  We are blessed that our son Chris and DIL Heather both hunt and provide us with wild venison so we don't eat much beef bought from the grocery store.  With our little Bradley coming, I am even more concerned with our whole family eating healthier...I want us all to have long and healthy lives. :) 

There is so much information out there and I only shared 2 articles.  Do a google search and you will find tons of good information...I warn you though, it can be overwhelming and downright scary when you realize what we have been putting into our bodies.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Waiting for Bradley and Wondering...

I was looking at this little outfit I bought for Bradley as I wait to meet him and started wondering about what he will be like.

Will he have his Mommy's sparkling eyes?

His Daddy's cute fat baby cheeks?

That cute little smile that could melt butter?

A love for music like both his Mommy, Daddy and many others in his family do?

Will he grow up riding horses like his Mommy did?

Will baseball be one of his favorite sports just like Daddy?

Will he grow up hunting like both his parents?

Will he have someone special like Uncle Bob in his life where true friendship has no age limits?

Will he have a little sister one day?

Or will he have brothers?

The one thing I do know for sure though is that Bradley has two parents who love each other and are going to be a great Mommy and Daddy to him!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day is Every Day

I don't know about you but I am getting tired of being bombarded by all the hype and commercials about Valentine's Day.  Why is it that people think they need to shell out tons of money on this one day every year on candy, flowers and jewelry just to show their love for someone?  And why is it that there is a mentality that only on holidays and birthdays that we do something special for those we love (or as the commercials would have you believe)?  Now before you think that I am anti-Valentine's Day or worse yet, anti-love, let me just tell you that I love being "romanced", getting flowers, chocolates and both getting and giving gifts.  However, I feel that one should show their love year round for those they care about and love. 

I am blessed to be married to a wonderful man whom I have been with since I was 20 years old.  My husband, being the romantic that he is, asked me to marry him on my 21st birthday.  There was no big hoopla about the proposal but let me tell you what he did do.  I woke up with  migraine that day and just needed to relax and take it easy.  My Jeff, knowing that this landlocked girl from Hawaii needed to be near water to relax, took me down to the river for the day and let me lay my head on his chest as I dozed off under the shade of a tree.  Later that day, as we snuggled watching TV at his place, he asked me to be his wife.  This same man shows up with flowers, Snickers candy bars, donuts for breakfast and other little surprises for me year round.  He also really listens to what I have to say and what I truly want and tries to make a way for it to happen.  He remodeled our guest bathroom and put in a big soaking tub for me, he remodeled our kitchen and got rid of the hideous wallpaper and put up beadboard that is painted a soft seafoam green.  It is so much more relaxing in both those rooms for me now.

Do you know what my husband did for me this year?  He wrote me a note from his heart.  It was short and sweet and it shared an "inside joke" that is special to us both.  I made him brownies and his favorite dinner.  We also hot tubbed before he had to get ready for work.  We both enjoyed our limited time together.  It was relaxing and there was no big pressure to go all out.  You see, we know each other really well and we know what is really important to each other.  We don't need to go "all out" on Valentine's Day or any other day for that matter to prove our love for each other.  We also do not fall into the trap that I see so many others fall into of trying to outdo whatever it is that they did last year in the coming year.  I have seen guys go into huge amounts of debt trying to impress their girlfriends or wives.  I hate the pressure this puts on them and their families.

I'm thankful that I am married to my Jeff, the man who knows me well and loves me for me with my strengths but also with my flaws and idiosyncrasies.  His every day actions show me his love.  He is there for me, really listens to me, is a wonderful father to our sons, sacrifices for all of us and does so many little things that just make my life so much easier and wonderful.  He makes me feel loved and secure because I know that he is there for me no matter what and always will be.  In our home, Valentine's Day truly is every day!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Doing What I Love...Teaching

I'm sure that everyone can think back on a teacher they had that had a huge impact on their lives, either good or bad.  I can count on one hand the bad teachers I had but it would take all my fingers and toes plus more to count the good ones! :)  I come from a long line of teachers, all of whom made a difference in people's lives.  I have seen first hand the sacrifices that they make time, money and emotion wise for their students.  When it came time for me to decide on a career, I chose to also become a teacher.

I have known that I wanted to teach since I was very young.  I am a nurturing person by nature and I love to encourage people and help them succeed in life.  I have also discovered, as an adult, that I had/have dyslexia and dyscalculia which explains why I struggled with spelling and math.  I had to teach myself to track while reading but find when I am tired that I start reading things backwards and mixing things up.  Numbers are a huge challenge for me because I transpose them so I have to double and triple check everything.  I remember being punished as a child because people thought I was just being lazy.  To be fair, not much was really known at the time about dyslexia and dyscalculia.   I carried that hurt with me for years and knew that I wanted to teach children who also struggled with some of the same things.  I was able to work hard and become a Special Education teacher.

I got my first teaching job right out of college and loved being a teacher.  Encouraging my students to succeed and letting them know that they were smart ,but just had to work harder because they learned differently, was something that most of them had never heard before.  I wanted them to know that the only limiting factors in their lives were ones that they put on themselves.  They could set goals and meet them if they were willing to work hard.  Sometimes I felt like a cheerleader.  I could relate to their frustrations but I also rejoiced with them and celebrated their successes!  I watched my students go on to nursing schools, become Social Workers, and do really well in life.
 Our own children came along and we decided to homeschool them for part of their schooling years.  It gave us and them the freedom to pursue things in depth that they were interested in and work at their own pace.  I loved watching my kids get excited about something and putting their whole hearts into it.  My husband and I sacrificed for years to have me home with our boys but it was so worth it and paid off.  We have sons who are now adults and who know that they can do anything they set their minds to.  They are all hard workers and we are very proud of them.

Now that the boys are grown and flown, I have gone back to teaching in the public schools.  I'm a substitute teacher and am blessed to work in a district that has a very supportive staff and some exceptional teachers that sacrifice much for their students.   I enjoy getting to know the students and since this is a small school district, I do know almost all of them.  I pour my heart and love into these kids and encourage them.  One of my greatest joys is seeing them master something and watching their eyes light up,  a smile spread across their face and sense of pride come to them.  Hugs are freely given, high fives, and lots of "I am so proud of you" and "You did it" are the norm for me.  Yes, I love these kids and I want to see them go far in life and do whatever it is that they want to do.  I love teaching and will continue to do this as long as I keeps me young and enriches my life in so may ways.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Our Family is Growing Again!

Congratulations to my son Josh and his beautiful bride to be Jessica!  The time is drawing near to our family adding another daughter for Jeff and I! :)  Wishing the happy couple all the best!  We love you!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Combining Coupons, Sales and Points Programs

This month I challenged myself to a $200 grocery budget.  This includes all household goods as well as food for us, supplements for us and pet food and supplements for the dog.  Yesterday I did my big shopping trip for the month.  Above, you can see the receipts.  I am missing the receipt for the Dollar Store but that came out to a little over $6 with tax.  I also had a coupon for a free travel sized item at Bath and Body Works so I stopped in there and got a nice smelling lotion and added it to my gift stash. :)  So far, I have spent $77.02 and saved nearly 50% after using coupons combined with shopping the sales.  Some of the items that I got at Walmart actually made me money since they deduct the full value of the coupon even if it exceeds the product price.  Walmart will also price match competitors stores on the exact same item.  I do shop at different stores and "cherry pick" the best deals at each one.  Some weeks there is nothing on sale that I need to stock up on so I just don't shop.

If you look closely at my receipts, you may wonder if this is all that we eat.  The truth of the matter is that I stock up on things when they are at rock bottom prices and build up a stockpile of items in the freezer, fridge and pantry and build our menus around what we have in stock or if it is a seasonal item (like fresh produce) we will enjoy that as part of our meals.  We also have a garden during the growing months which further reduces our cost.  Right now our freezer is stocked with many items grown over the Summer and also venison from my son Chris, meats purchased on sale along with sale priced butter, juices, and other items.  This allows us to have lots of variety in our menu and to eat healthily.

As for our pets, our dog Sasha is on a special no grain diet due to allergies and must also take enzymes and another supplement.  Her food and supplements run us about $100 a month.  I cut costs here by buying some of her things through since I "earn" about $25 a month in gift cards through Swagbucks.  That credit is applied towards the purchase price of her supplements so I only pay around $6 a month out of pocket for one of them.  I order her food and enzymes through but go through their link at and get points for my purchases there that I can then cash in for gift cards.  I recently cashed in my points there for a $50 Home Depot that we are going to use to help offset the cost of new flooring for our kitchen.  We are waiting for the flooring to go on sale so that we can save even more money and my husband, who is a former carpenter and a very handy guy, will install it himself.  Getting back on track, our cats eat whatever is on sale and/or I can get at a discount with coupons.  Two of them are happy with whatever they get but our old cat, Gemma, is a bit more picky but will eat it when she is hungry enough. ;)  She is at least 17 years old now and still going strong.

I know that some people feel like combining coupons and sales is just too much work, but the pay off is huge!  There are also lots of websites out there now that will pair up the sales with the available coupons so that takes lots of the work and time out of it for me.  I have to admit though that I actually like doing this.  I get a thrill out of seeing how much I can save our family and being able to help our kids and others out also.  If I buy a product that I will not use (if it is free or only a few cents), I will pass it on to someone who needs it.  We have been able to put together bags of shampoo, conditioner, lotions, medications, razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste along with food items to give to families that are in crisis situations.  I am also able to get nice gift items for pennies on the dollar and have these in my gift closet for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, Christmas, etc..  It takes lots of stress off me knowing that I can just shop my gift closet year round.  

A friend asked me once if I would continue to live and shop this way if we had more disposable income and my answer was yes.  We, like so many other families, have had our share of ups and downs economically and I know that at any time illness, job loss, or some other emergency can come along and put a huge strain on our family.  We have been there with no income and it was scary!  I never want to have to worry about having enough food to feed my family for a month without being able to go shopping ever again.  By living the way we do now, we save so much money and are able to pay down our debts so that hopefully, in a few years, we will be totally debt free.  We can then bank some of the money we are now using to pay off our debt (including our mortgage) towards retirement.  Plus, I think it is just good stewardship to make the most of what you are blessed with. :)