Friday, November 1, 2013


I have a tip.

My sisters and I recently did some candeling. That reminds me a bit of cow tipping - but it isn't quite the same.

We have done this candeling twice. Both time I really haven't had much evidence of wax. I do believe I am a wax producer. Some of my kids sure are. My tip?  I put a bit o'soap in my ear.  Just use my big fat fingers and rub it in a bit - then I turn my head to the side and let a hard stream of water shoot right into my ear canal. I even put my wooden clompen on I get it so far down the canal.

I think that is helping keep my ears free from wax build up.

When is the last time you candelled,  or cow tipped?

2013 Sister Visit

This year we are all gathering at my sister Genell's house.

Who is we all?  My mom, sisters and I. There are 5 of us girls.

I really love my sisters.  We laugh a lot together. Until we get tired of each other, then we don't. :)  So week-end visits are nice. Short and sweet.

We started this thing at Becky's house - back when she lived in Olathe, KS. Then next year we had a family reunion, so the folowing year was in Iowa at my house. It fell over the 4th of July. Hot! Then to Claudia's in TX.  Right after she bought a new house.  That was so fun to see where she lived.

That brings us to now.  October 2013. Tucson, AZ. A place I have never been, I'm pretty sure. She has a lovey house. I get to sleep in Tyler's room. A room to myself. Ahhhhh. . .  Bliss.

SATURDAY, 2013 Colorado Trip - Home!!

We made it. 

Oh it is nice to be home.  Some what.  When I found out my husband turned the t.v. on. . .  That was a little depressing.  With only $40 a month left over after paying bills., I am not sure how he is going to afford a $68 t.v. bill each month.  I said, "no way!"  He asked me if I had prayed about that.  LOL. Math is math, whether you pray about it or not. 

Anyway - the kids love Iowa - no matter what people say about it while we were in Colorado.  Wayne kissed the ground after we crossed the state line.  Funny!! 

I really really had a great time buying that E85 fuel.  Getting it as low as $2.49/gallon sometimes.  Yeah!!!  I love a good deal. 

It was so refreshing to get away.  So refreshing.  I am so blessed to have a family that loves me and is willing to help me stay sane.  Ha!  :)  Much needed respite was had by all.  Praise God. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dollars & Uncommon Sense

I have tried to follow the Dave Ramsey plan while dragging my better half along kicking and screaming. He says he doesn't actually hate Dave Ramsey, but "he acts like he has the answer to every situation and he doesn't."  Interesting.

In the beginning, when my husband asked me to be in control of the finances, I said no way. I have walked that path before and I just end up acting like a mother.  Some one asks for money, I say we don't have any, then they pout.  I am not doing that again.  He said, it will be.different.  :sigh:  I agreed only if we picked a plan other then mine and we both followed it.  So DR it was. Now Dave is an idiot.  LOL. Poor guy - he isn't even here to defend himself.

I happened to get a book about money which I read but didn't finish.  My son Mansel finished it first actually. So after talking to him about it, I decided to read it. Good stuff manerd.  Mr. Steve Repak, CFP wrote this book to the common man.  (  He too agrees that one should build an emergency savings, then start to pay off any debt. His secret amount is $1500.  We are at $1000 because until recently we were DR fans.

I underlined this statement.  "I am just telling you that the only way that you will ever have more money is by spending less. You will never learn how to spend less unless you learn how to give first."  I wonder if he has read the Bible.  Because that sentence sounds very Biblical.

Unlike DR he doesn't think it is very realistic to ask you to pay 100% cash for a new car.  Yet he does have a good suggestion, in my opinion. Find a car you like, figure out what the payments will be.  Practice making car paymemts for a year by placing them into a car savings account. After you have made monthly payments for one year, go back and find the same model, which will now be one year old, so it will cost less, and you will have a nice down payment. And you will know you can make the payments, because you have been for the last year. I think I will tell my kids to make double payments to themselves for the first year, because not only will they have a payment, but gas, and insurance + a car payment.  So an even nicer down payment and they will be used to the extra expense as well as the payment.

Let's see. . .  What else did I underline? Oh - I like the idea of giving ourselves 10% in savings each month.  Right now - we do nothing.  Ack!!  I hate that. I am working evenings right now to pay off debt. After this payment, that money will go into savings. I would like to not have 2 jobs. Home educating the kiddos is nearly a full time job. Tonight we were still doing school at 8:00.

I have asked Dan to read this book. It is good. (Very similar to DR - but don't tell Dan that, He wouldn't actually know, since he didn't read the DR plan book).  LOL

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dave's Plan

I made a $600 credit card payment today. 

May I suggest, that if you use a credit card, it should only be used as a debit card - and paid off in its entirety each month.  I am working for $8 an hour, 20-30 hours a week, just so I can have the priviledge of paying this thing off.  Annoying. . .

I believe one more payment and I am done with this one.  I found out this week someone has 2 more cards tbat need cancelling. 

That means in September - I will be working for a savings.  That shouldn't be as annoying.  One would hope. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday - our last day here, 2013 Colorado trip

Today we set off towards Trap Lake.  When we head up into the mountians, I ride in the back cargo area of the suburban.  If we were in a car, would I end up in the trunk?  I don't know.  I don't like to get car sick.  If I sleep through the trip, tha seems to help.  So I missed seeing where the mud had recently been scrapped off of the road, due to a mud slide.  Mud slides are often a result after a fire.  Nothing holding that dirt in place.

So - we arrived at Trap lake and had to walk a long way to the fishing spot.  I wish I could show you photos of this amazing place.  One side of rhe lake buts riggt up to the side of a mountian, and the side of the mountian is full of stones.  Large, small and everything in between.  I believe it is the end result of a glacier.  Pushing southward, then stopping to rest on the side of this mountian, melting, leaving a hole, filling with water and leaving all these stones behind.  I may be wrong., but it makes for a good story.  It also makes for a difficult trip to ones fishing spot.  I had charged the batteries for the good camera.  They were still in Lovelamd, plugged into the wall.  I had left the tablet home to lighten the load.

Well the rocks were Tough travel. You will just have to believe me.   BUT worth it if you are doing the fishing.  6 fishers - getting their limit in around 3 hours.  Tori got the biggest.  A 2 pound trout.  Mansel caught the first.  Grandpa caught the last.  Milo caught the most at one time. . . Reeling in two fish at one time. 

Watch facebook for photos.  I have a few on my phone. 

We had a picnic lunch.  We headed to the vehicle a few at a time.  The speedy ones leave the others to straggle along.  Once again the slow ones got to see the fun stuff.  I heard a sound, turned to see if it were Grandpa - or a cow - LOL.  It was a moose.  Big as a horse, no antlers.  So don't ask for any more specifics.  I've got nothing for you.  Wayne was right behind me so I whispered, "Wayne. There is a moose."  We stood and watched it amble out of the woods, towards Aunt Karen.  Ha!!  We both pointed at it - so she kept on walking until she was no longer in it's path. And she stood by us and we watched it walk across the clearing into the woods on the other side. How exciting.  Wayne was thrilled.  It was neat to see. 

On the way home, we once again stopped at a shop.  Picked up some trinkets.  Utilized their clean flush toilets.  Oh happy day!!

Of course we ate trout for supper.  Tori cooked hers over an open fire and ate it all.  What fun.  The reat of us ate ours grilled. 

After supper Aunt Karen took us to a super neat ice cream place.  Chill, in Loveland, CO.  They use liquid nitro to freeze the ice cream - made to order. Delicious.

Then we packed our gear - getting ready for an early departure tomorrow.

I am refreshed. 

Respite - that is what this trip was all about.  Good conversation.  Helped me solidify some of my opinions.  Helped me see more clearly how our actions are shaping the children.  I have a tough job ahead of me, and appreciate all prayers said for me!! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Thursday, 2013 Colorado Trip

Oops - I forgot to blog before I went to bed. Now I am awake at 2:30 a.m.  I'll blog now. 

We hiked up to Alberta Falls in Estes Park.

God's creation is beautiful.  It was a short hike.  We could do it in just a few hours.  We hiked up to the falls - one mile, which included some down hill hiking.  Then we hiked back, taking a different route, which included more down hill places.  I hope I don't lose my toe nails.  How long does that take to happen? 

Karen and I got to see a ptormiga.  It is a bird, about the size of a free range chicken.  We saw several, actually.  One mom with a few chicks.  We would spot these when we would see people photographing them.  I doubt I would have found any of them on my own, as they are not easy to spot.  They blend right in with the background. 

On the way back down from the falls, Aunt Karen pointed out to the kiddos where the youth group from her church used to stop and wade in the river and climb on rocks.  Wading in a river in Colorado  is similar to wading in a creek in Iowa.  Except it is much, much colder.  Tori mentioned it was like an ice bath after running in track. 

When we got to the vehicle - we saw lightening and decided to try to find a sheltered place for lunch.  We didn't really find one.  We stopped at two stores for the kids to shop at.  An Indian store.  The Indians happen to be manaquins who set on a bench on the porch.  The other was a Dam Store.  Not a typo.  One t-shirt for sale said, the store that allows children to cuss and not get in trouble.  I never saw the dam - but I bought 2 shirts there.  My mom mentioned to the kids that I sure wear a lot of Knoxcille Panther gear.  LOL So I added 2 Colorado shirts to the mix. 

While we were shopping it dropped 15 degrees, I bet.  I made sandwiches in the back of the suburban.  We ate in the vehicle in shifts while some were still shopping.

It was nap time for me when we arrived back to home base in Loveland.

Tori wanted to shop more, so she and Milo took off armed with the GPS.

After nap time, THEN I was ready for a Ticket To Ride game!!  I love that game.  Mansel, Danielle and I played.  (I won) 

Supper of hot dogs was delicious! 

The boys got haircuts or trims - then we retired.  What a fun filled day!!  :)

Fishing on Friday. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday, 2013 Colorado Trip

Today was a biking day. 

Grandma and Grandpa borrowed two more bikes, thus ending up with enough bikes for all the kids and grandpa to ride bikes today.  They took a 6 mile trip to a park. Grandpa rode a bycicle built for two with Wayne.   Grandma and I then met them at the park and we had a picnic lunch. 

While at the park we played a little catch with a baseball.  Mansel, Wayne and Grandpa took turns hitting the ball and some of us chased and chased the ball around. 

They rode back toward home, and on the way stopped to swim in the Big Thompson river. 

I headed home and read some more.  What a relaxing day for me. 

We went to church tonight and ate supper with them at church.  Shepherd's pie.  I wonder which shepherd it belongs to?  It was delicious.

Church was good for me.  I plan to memorize James with my kid at home and in my Sunday School class this school year.  Well - my teacher talked about James tonight.  That was a blessing.

Church was good for the three youngest as well.  I had asked the kids this morning to serve someone today, but not tell anyone about it.  Tonight in their class, they learned about serving others using their individual talents.  In their class they made encouragement cards. 

After church was popcicle time.  Yum. . .

Tomorrow - hiking.  :)

Tuesday, 2013 CO Trip

This day started out early.  One and 1/2 hour drive to the fishing spot.  So we leave at 7:00. 

Found e85 fuel on the way up there.  $2.50/gallon.  Boy howdy!!  I figured up the gas mileage, and I think it is 21mpg.  That's fair.  Pretty good for an old Suburban.  I am going to stick with e85. 

We fished - I say we liberally, as I actually did no fishing - we fished for 9 hours. 

Dowdy lake has a pretty cool path around it.  We walked and walked and walked.  I would stop and rest, wait, I mean I would stop and take pictures along the way.  I took the old SLR with me, instead of the tablet.  So the photos are on the SD card.  Use your imagination today.  LOL. The kids climbed on some really big rocks today. 

On the drive home we saw where we had passed the fire the year before.  So here is a 2012 picture of smoke from that fire.  Now the grass has grown back, but the trees are still standing and burned black up around Red Feather Lakes. 

Grandma took us out for supper on the way home. 

The men cleaned the fish, I started a load of laundry and am now flirting with sleep.

Oh - I really had a good time.  I got to read a children's book called the Old Iron Horse.   Can you guess what it was about? 


That's right - the original steam engines.  It mention crossing the Chariton River.  I wonder if there is more then one Chariton river? 

I worked on my tan today. More crazy tan lines to add to my collection. 

Tomorrow - a bike ride. 

Monday, July 15, 2013


Today I started the day by reading my bible outside.  They are having great weather here.
The grands took us to Chilson something or other.  It is like our Recreation Center in Knoxville, only 50 times bigger.   I played Pig in the water with Grandpa and the kids.  Grandpa lost.  Surprisingly enough - I kept getting lucky.  I bet he kept getting water in his eyes.   ;)  My mother can swim like a fish b.t.w.  I swam laps - only they were like 1/2 of what she was swimming, for 30 minutes.  If even that.  She swam for over an hour. 

Then we went to Kohls.  Dani couldn't find one shoe before we left.  So we thought we would buy her some new tennis shoes.  When I looked down at her feet - her current flip flops were too small.  Good thing she left her tennis shoes behind.  We got her size 3 shoes.  That would have been uncomfortable hiking in too small shoes. 

Then to Walmart. 

Then home for lunch.

Then Karen took some of us to a thrift store.  I got 3 books.  Surprise.  LOL. But - one of the most fun things of the day?  We went to Esh's.  Oh my goodness.  They sell groceries that are expired or damaged.  I bought the same exact brand of grapes before we left for $.99/ lb at Walmart.  They were on sale.  But at Esh's.  $.59/lb.  WOW!  I got a fun sort of k-cup.  The kids bought gum!!  :)  What a hilarious store.  My parents bought 4,751 boxes of cereal for this week.  CHEAP at Esh's.  (only a slight exageration). 

What a fun day.  While out and about - we found some statues to pose by. 

Home for grilled chicken for supper.  Once again outside.  It is beautiful here.  Did I mention that yet?  Absolutely beautiful. 

They kids are playing with Grandma's fiddle that we got her for Christmas from the Cracker Barrell.  That thing is hilarious.

Mansel has started rading Mr. Phill Robertson's book.  I hope he hurries up with it.  I want to read it too. 

And last, but not least, when ever we get a chance - someone is squeezing in a few hits of ping pong. 

Comparisons 2012 vs. 2013

I found the photo I took of the kids last year at the same spot.  WOW what a difference. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013 Colorado Visit, Day 1

The kids and I are going to visot my parents, and siater Karen in Colorado this week.

We left home this morning.  Early. :)  I am so proud of the kids.  A lot of them helped me around the house -getting reasy to go.  I plan on having the carpets cleaned while we are gone, so the carpets needed vacuumed, and some furniture moved. 

It seems to be a tradition to stop at the windmill rest stop on our way out of Iowa, on interstate 80W. So just a short time of being on the road - we stopped to see the big windmill blade.  It extends the length of a fotball field.  Huge.

Around lunch time - we stopped to fill up with gas and ate a picnic lunch.  We had yummy York Peppermint Patty pieces.  Yummy.  I think trips are fun, because we take along fun snack food. 

While I was napping we took a detour.  But that's ok.  It didn't delay us much.  My confused tone sounded like yelling to the driver - so I apologized.  We came into Loveland from a new direction, and that turned out ok.  We saw new stuff. 

We had pizza for supper.  I realy like eating fod I don't cook.  It was delicious.  After supper we sat outdoors and enjoyed this beautiful Colorado weather!! 

Now I am pooped. 

I am going to try to continue our electronic free entertainment kick I am on, dragging along the kiddos kicking and screaming.  And Grandpa is setting up our schedule.  I don't think we have any free time while we are here.  So if I don't call you, or message you, or reply to texts right away - I might be out and about and electronic free.  :) 

Mansel's Treasures

Mansel is starting the process of getting braces put on his teeth.  He has his dad's big teeth in my little mouth.  Most of our kids do.  All of them are going to need braces, if they want their teeth to line up normally, and not sideways, which they are doing now. 

First - select a plan.  We selected to have adult teeth pulled, and other teeth moved into place.  Should take about 2 years, from beginning to end.

Second - put plan into action.  We have begun.  He got 4 teeth pulled today.  He says it didn't hurt.  His mind said, "fight or flight" and tried to faint dead away.  So we interceeded and had him lie down a bit. 

Third - spacers.

Fourth - then braces.  Here we go!!  I can't wait to see the finished product.  :)

P.s.  I noticed this didn«t publish.  Oops - his hwppened in January.  His teeth are looking great. 

Monday, July 8, 2013



eMeals is saving me a TON of time and energy!!

I use it to Aldi!  Classic meals.  My kids are eating most of the meals they recommend.  We are trying new things even.

They really are easy and delicious.

I have taken a part time job in the evenings - to help pay off Dan's credit card.  Tori has helped me a LOT with the dinner meals -- and she can follow the directions.  She can pick which meals she wants to cook and always knows the ingredients will be available because I used the eMeals list to do the shopping!

It's a great thing... call me at 641.820.1168, if you want to hear me rave about it!!

I used a coupon code to get 20% off a 1 year subscription - be sure to google eMeals coupon before you buy!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

I have this red, rubber, bracelet...

I have a friend, Heather, who has a sister-in-law, that is sick.  So sick she needs prayer.  Lots of prayer. They have a FB group.

They had these rubber bracelets made up as prayer reminders.  They are giving them out willy nilly - asking for LOTS of prayer.

I'm telling you - these things really work - at the oddest time, I'll notice my red rubber bracelet, and I'll shoot up a prayer for Ahna Pollock.

May God bless Ahna, and her family!

p.s.  If you would like a bracelet - go ask Heather...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's coming up

Last year - the few days after Valentines Day - the cards were CHEAP!

HA!  Snagged some....

So - 02/14 is coming up here soon... I wonder where I put those cards?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Interesting Reading...

I have been doing some reading.  Someone pointed me to Randi Kreger's blog.  
She said this - and boy... do I agree.   Sometimes the people who love us the most know the triggers that hurt us the most. What does it say about someone who pushes your most painful buttons, yet claims to love you? It says much more about them than you. So not only can you not control their thoughts, you don't need to control their thoughts. Only yours. Strangely, it is only when you give up control that you obtain it.

 It says more about them then me.  

I wonder why they don't see that?  Some one said to me once, "You are all about being nice."  LOL  As if that were a bad thing.  I guess that's a good way to be known.  It's all about being nice...

I have prayed and asked God to give me wisdom to live my life - and I just really and cherishing the things he has brought into my life.  Books, blogs, people, and more books...  I'm so thankful.

I'm so glad God answers prayers.  Give me wisdom!

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Favorite

I know I've shared this on FaceBook already - but this is my new favorite family photo!  Taken November 2012 for our next Church Directory.  I think I like it so much because in the midst of my family - I have peace, and joy, and can smile!  I hope you print this off and use it as a prayer card for 2013.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Did you know?

I learned something new in 2012.

I have a TIMER on my clothes washing machine.

I can load that sucker up with filthy clothes right before I go to bed.  Fill it up with soap - then set the TIMER to start washing first thing in the morning... actually 45 minutes BEFORE I wake up - so when I hear the "chime" that it is done washing, I can hop out of bed, and put it in the dryer, before it starts to smell all moldy and musty... unlike before - if I were to start a load say... 45 minutes BEFORE I went to bed... then forgot about it as I walked by in my exhausted state that is normal for me at bedtime...  let's see... where was I?  

Anyway - I can even set the washing machine up BEFORE I hit that exhausted state... I can set it up for HOURS before my wake up time.  Normally I set it to start in 9 hours... and get 8 hours of sleep.  Perfect fit for me.

I love that trick... so here I set - coffee sipped, eggs and sausage consumed, and one load of clothes WASHED, and I'm going to go put it in the dryer... all before... 7:00 a.m.  (That's a lie actually - because I'm typing this in the middle of the day on the 2nd and am going to "schedule" it to post on the 9th at 7:00 a.m)  :)  That's another wonderful thing - I can also schedule blogs... then my posts don't get all moldy and musty from setting around getting unread due to OVERKILL!!  :)  I'll spread them out... why your welcome.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I just found something

On there are exercise videos.

Full length videos.

I can walk away the pounds in my house when it drops below 40 degrees outside.  I no longer have any excuses.  Oh MY.GOODNESS!!

How do you exercise when it's cold?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Home School Buyers Co-op

I've heard about this HomeSchool Co-op from a message board I frequent.  Several of my friends bought a "lego" buy.  They got a discounted price on Legos and got a BUNCH of them.  :)  So - I've joined... it's free to join... and I am looking forward to some bulk discounted buys... hoping to get some good birthday gifts that way.

One way to make this work is to spread the word to other home schoolers - increasing the buying power.  They say...

Home School Curriculum for Grades K-8 and High School
Howdy, homeschooler! You have just discovered what is probably the most important page on our website -- our summary of the many GroupBuys and special offers for home school curriculum, programs and material currently available through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Each and every discount is one of the Co-op's manyhomeschooling benefits. In every case, the discounts you get through the Co-op for your homeschool curriculum and materials come by virtue of the Co-op's purchasing power, which in turn depends on the size of our membership, so tell your homeschool friends and groups about the Co-op!

So - I am... spreading the word.  Go forth and conquer... or sign up.  What ever.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's TAX TIME!!!

I'm using to help me with my taxes.

I used to sell Scentsy - as most of you know.  Scentsy is a home based business - self employed.  So a LOT of things can be written off...

SO - how do I keep track of all that?

I LOVE that.

So - here I go - I'm going to click, click, click on - then copy and past that info into a spread sheet and hand it over to my tax preparer. (whom I happen to live with).  He loves how organized I am.   :snort:  Well - maybe he's just glad he doesn't have to do it alone.  Or he's glad for the write offs.  Or he's glad for the refund...  your guess is as good as mine.

So - Do you use Mint?  I love it...  let me count the ways.

I don't use a checkbook register any longer.
Debit card receipts don't get lost.
I can track EVERYONE'S credit card usage with this thing.  (well - everyone that has a card in this household... not everyone in the whole world).
If I have labeled things correctly, tax time is easy peasy.
It makes me look smart, and orderly.
It's free.
I can put my budget on there and it lets me know if I'm with in budget.
It's secure.
It helps me track my saving goals.
It's accurate.
It lets me know if I have extra funds to direct toward debt payoffs.
Did I mention it makes me look smart.

So - taxes done?  check...  Whew, what a good feeling that is.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Awww... wonderful

Library Thing - it's wonderful.  My own personal card catalog - right in the palm of my hand.

Several years ago - I started entering our books unto Library thing.  Then another time - I sorted all the books, and labeled them with the Dewey Decimal number.  Fiction separate from non-fiction.  Fiction in order by author's last name.

Today was a funny day - hubby came home from work - ranting and raving that nothing got done... I've failed to train the children, blah, blah, blah... but I felt at peace - because all 488 books in my home library are in order.  All shelved.  (not labeled, but I lost track of those right now - so that's for another day).  So - all is not right with the world - but boy, do I feel wonderful.

What makes you feel wonderful?

Some things that I think tell us the most about others are their photographs, and the books they read.  Are you on  Do you share your card catalog with friends?  I'd love to see your book shelves... even virtually.  I use my tablet - scan the little thingy on the back of the book - then library thing uses that ISBN code and looks the book up on and I say, "Yeah or Nay", if I say yes, it adds that information to my library.  Very coo.... most new books have a dewey decimal number assigned already, automatically.  Well - I'm a collector of old vintage books, or I really like using old books for school - so often times I'll have to research if I want a dewey decimal number assigned to a book.  But I'm willing to do that.

So - if you use Library Thing Friend me.  (please)  If you use something - please share...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I just learned a trick.  Some lady was talking about doing this on the radio - I'm going to steal her idea.  I'm going to keep the cards that people sent us this season.  I've got a cute little box I keep them in... I'm going to put that box in the dining room.  I received a few cards via e-mail and Facebook.. I think I'll print those pictures off and include them in the pile.

Each meal we usually start with prayer, thanking God for the food.

I'm going to grab a Christmas Card off of the top of the pile and pray for that family during prayer.

Thank you to all who thought of us this season - we hope to repay you by praying for you through out the year.

We love you - and cherish your friendship! 

May God bless you this year. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

THE JOHNSTONS: 2012 in Review

The Johnstons

We didn't send out a Christmas card this year. (I don't remember the last year we did, actually).  I seem to get overwhelmed BEFORE Christmas... but look - we got a good family snapshot - so I'll share it with your AFTER Christmas.  This is a New Years Day Letter.  Maybe I'll start a new tradition.

This photo was taken at Grace Baptist Church, in Chariton, IA, on December 23, 2012.  I LOVE this church and my church family.  It's a wonderful thing.  So - I'll start on the left of the photo and work my way over.

1. Me, Jennifer - 42 years old, and I feel every bit of that age.  I've had a life changing year this year.  I went to some counseling at Freedom Ministries, in Illinois, in April of 2012. That was amazing stuff.  I really learned a lot about myself.  Since then I have been praying differently - really trying to hear what God is saying specifically to me.  I've tried to teach my children how to pray this way.  I think it has clicked with a few.  I need to be diligent with my spiritual training with them.  Keep on keeping on.  I've read amazing books this year.  Wow - I just can not express enough how God is working in my life.

Since I've learned something about myself... I've made changes.  I have sold my Scentsy business.  I LOVE Scentsy, still use it, plan on having a party in January, but I don't sell it anymore.  One reason is time - I am a full time home educator.  5 students.  Some require more of my time then others... but 5 - I needed more time to devote to them.  This is my true full time job.  Speaking of students... let's move on.  That will change the subject from all the other areas in my life that I still struggle with like my weight, my hair,  and time management.

2. Victoria - 17 years old.  This past year she ran in track for Knoxville High School, in Knoxville IA.  Indoor season, then out door season.  She had an eventful summer with a missions trip.  Working R.A.G.B.R.A.I..  Then Cross Country season started directly after that.  Now she's concentrating on school work until Indoor Track season starts up again.  She is in her junior year of high school. She doesn't require much attention from me for school - although I review her work, and am a sounding board.

She goes in to Knoxville High School every day to sing with the Concert Choir.  I love that for her.  I wish I could do it.  I live vicariously through her... singing and learning in that wonderful choir, under the direction of Mrs. Duffy.  It's amazing.

She still loves to fix her hair.  She is considering becoming a cosmetologist in the future.  One more year of school to get through, then she'll begin that journey.

3. Wayne - 7 years old.  He is a 1st grader.  He'd rather do anything but school.  He still says, "I can't read."  We are still working through that book "How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons."  Depends upon your child if it is easy or not.  Still plugging away.  He would rather do math.  He would really rather play outside.  Or wrestle.  He is going to wrestling practice once a week, and entering some wrestling tournaments and drags his dad along.  Wait... that may be the other way around.

4. Milo - 11 years old.  Milo is a collector.  One thing he collects is pocket knives.  He may expand.  He asked for a hatchet yesterday.  I said, "I'll let you buy that when you are with your dad."  Oh my... boys.  I didn't have any brothers - and I'm not a boy... so I do a lot of reading about them.  He is doing well with his piano lessons - THAT I know about.  I hope he never quits.  I love listening to him practice the piano.  He is in 5th grade this school year.  We are learning in history about the Romans right now.  From Rome to the Reformation is the time period we will cover this year, and we are using the My Father's World curriculum.  Interesting stuff.  I can't wait to get back to it... one more week of break, then back at it for a while.
5. Mansel - 13 years old.  He is my busiest child.  Always involved in something.  7th grade is the year I have them try every sport because it's free through the public school.  He went out for football for the first time this fall, and cross country as well.  He didn't run at every meet, but did make it to 3.  He improved in football a lot.  Going from "yard football" in knowledge to starting on the offensive line the last game to cover for a starter who got injured.  That was a fun experience.  Now he is wrestling for the Knoxville Middle School team, which he knows, as he has wrestled since he was in Kindergarten.  He needs to know more.  He is a big 7th grader, so he wrestles the more experienced 8th graders often times.  Next sport.  Track, then baseball... fun year.  He is going through the Further Up, Further In, Narnia unit study for school this year.  Reading is right up his alley... he has read these books over and over again. I need to have him help me organize the book shelves in the Den with me, so he can "discover" some new reading material. Avid reader - praise the Lord for that.

6. Danielle - 9 years old.  We call her Dani most times.  Which only gets confusing when we go home to Dan's house - and they still call him Danny.  He's a grown up at our house and at work and church, where he gets called Dan.  Anyway... Dani loves life.  And most of the time it loves her back.  She is a sensitive little girl... figuring her way around in this family.  As a 3rd grader she is in her 2nd year of Patch the Pirate Club at church.  She LOVES to get the drama parts which are offered each month... sometimes she will memorize a part ahead of time and ASK for it.  She likes that attention.  So she has a good mind, and is a hard worker.  She likes hanging out with her friends from the Heritage Home Educators (HHE) co-ops that we are a part of this year.   I can't wait for her to get into 7th grade.  She's going to be a runner as well...  that is my favorite type of sport to watch; cross country and track and field.

7. Dan - last but not least... the Patriarch of our family.  He still works at Pella Corporation - which has down sized quit a bit in the past few years, but he keeps having a job to go to.  For THAT I am grateful.  It pays the bills, and a few extras, like wrestling club.  He is taking Wayne and Mansel to wrestling practices once a week, then to as many tournaments as he can afford.  He is the manager of our yard, keeping the swimming pool clean for the kiddos in the summer, mowing the grass.  Cutting the wood that we burn for heat in the winter.  I sit here in a cozy home while it's in the single digits outside... not worrying about the heat bit one bit.  And our cars are usually purring like cats all the time.  One has a broken mirror right now - but that's due to icy roads and inexperienced drivers, not low maintenance.  He'll get that fixed before long - and all will be right with the world.

I appreciate you staying and reading about our family.  If you would - you could use this as a prayer list, and pray for us as often as the Holy Spirit brings us to your mind.  Ahead of us are times of great spiritual growth, and educational milestones that need to be met.  Character training is a constant thing around here.  Pray that I have the wisdom I need to keep these kids feet on the path of Holiness. That's my plea... you may need to call Dan, and see how he wants you to pray.

Thank you for all you do for our family.  Some donate time, money, most pray - and some I'll never know.  Thank You, Thank You, as I can't walk this journey alone!