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Friday, January 30, 2009

TGIF

We went to the Children's Museum today because our membership expires at the end of the month. There were many reasons we should have stayed home...save gas money, spend time job searching, I could get some design work done... but getting in free (except for $9 for parking and $5 at McDonald's) was too hard to pass up when it costs $40 (with parking, admission, and a snack) for our family to go without a membership.

We made the most of it by arriving at 10am and not leaving until 5:30pm. Now to make up for it, I'm saving time by posting a couple pictures from our visit the day Stellan was born instead of taking the time to upload todays images. The kids enjoyed the same things today as last time so not much has changed.





Now if you'll excuse me while I take some cold medicine, get to work on editing portraits of these cuties, send off some sample book layouts, upload 500 photos from a client's Picasa Web album, and continue the final edits of a 235 page Blurb book...


Have a great weekend everyone and if you haven't weighed in on my last post, feel free! It's great to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What do these things have in common - ANSWERED

stickers
Marble Works pieces
Legos
cardboard packaging
vacuum cleaner hose
Bristle Blocks
flashlight
toy boats
books

Leave your guesses in the comment section. I'll post the answer tonight.

****If you haven't read the other guesses, I highly recommend it**** There are some new faces and funny guesses - more creative than I could ever be!

I almost labeled this post 'brotherbear' right away as a clue, but thought that might give it away. You see, our son, our sweet, gentle boy, has at some point turned each of these items into a gun.
These benign items found around the house have been turned into weapons.
stickers
Marble Works pieces
Legos
cardboard packaging
vacuum cleaner hose
Bristle Blocks
flashlight
toy boats
books

For the most part we don't let him pretend play in that way, but he is so imaginative that a simple activity of putting stickers on a paper becomes a full fledged war between stenciled boats and the flower stickers I gave him.

Anyone have some suggestions on how to handle this type of behavior? I know it's normal, but I'm interested in how other Christian families discourage gun play without it becoming an issue.
At Thanksgiving I had Sam come inside while his older cousins played with BB guns. You can't see his face, but believe me, he was really, really interested in what was going on out there!

Wordless Wednesday - Photographer for hire



I swear I had this picture picked out before PapaBear called me a few minutes ago to tell me that he lost his job. Tomorrow is his last day. Even if they hadn't laid off all the temps, the plant is going to three days a week which wouldn't be enough hours to support our family.

I'm pretty shell shocked at the moment, but when the reality sinks in, we'll be clinging to these verses from Philippians 4:6-7, 11-13:

Don't worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus....Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strenght I need.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On my mind

Thoughts are swirling in my head tonight....

Tuesdays are very busy days for us and this one didn't start off very well. I couldn't find Sam's x-rays for his dentist appointment after school. I made some calls, talked with some not very helpful people, and finally jumped in the shower 3 minutes before we were suppose to walk out the door. Miraculously we weren't late for either school. I even managed to squeeze in an important phone call.

I can't tell you how much I'm loving Julia's class and the parent education portion, especially. This group of women and welcomed me into their circle, are so encouraging, uplifting, and insightful.

We have to hustle back to pick up Sam by 11. It's stressful, but worth it. He was the snack leader today and so exuberant as he led his class down the ramp. We drove an hour to where Sam's dentist appointment was. We grabbed lunch at Target and then went to our 1 o'clock appointment. By this point we've spent over an hour and a half in the car, it's nap time, and Sam's x-ray's STILL haven't been emailed over. The other clinic put me on hold for 5 minutes. We don't have any extra phone minutes for that kind of thing. We only have 750 minutes for both phones and no land line. They never did pick up.

I put Julia in the Kozy but it didn't help. Sam was VERY nervous about laying down the the chair, but the Dr. was really good. Firm, but kind. He looked in Sam's mouth and told us that he wasn't comfortable treating him. We're going to have to put him under at Children's.

I spent the whole ride home feeling guilty that we didn't brush his teeth well enough/often enough and thinking of the families of children who have cronic issues and have multiple surguries while 'all' that Sam needs is some dental work.

When PapaBear got home I buckled down and got some blog book design work done. I'm on a tight deadline with a project and needed to make significant progress. In three short hours I covered 100 pages. I'd call that progress. PapaBear spent some quality time with the kids while I worked and then we did bedtime together. It was hard not to feel bad that I wasn't available to play with the kids, but tomorrow is a quiet day and I can make up for it then. I won't be distracted by work and can focus on playing with the kids.

It will also help that I booked a wedding last night. (Thanks for the referral Karen!!!) Which reminds me...Karen's son, Henry, turns one today. Here he is at two weeks old...




Other random thoughts/questions floating around my mind include why someone insists on leaving rude comments on MckMama's blog, when will it ever get above freezing around here, how will we handle the crowds at our candlelight ski event this weekend....

I think it comes down to the fact that I'm tired. Overtired.

At least my thoughts have swirled themselves out of my head now and I'll be able to sleep.

Goodnight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not Me Monday - 19th Edition

Not Me Monday's host, MckMama, might be off on a much deserved cruise, but Not Me Monday lives on thanks to Blogger's cool little scheduling trick.
Returning visitors will probably remember my historic Not Me Post from last week.

Spoiler alert: This was not one of those weeks.

You can't tell from the TV screen but the kids are watching a movie with PapaBear. This is not a daily occurrence. Nope. Not in this house! We play with our kids, we encourage creativity....we do not let our two and four year olds watch bits and pieces of Jurassic Park, especially not the part where the T-Rex is trying to eat the children in the jeep. PapaBear and I agree 100% on this topic.


You might be wondering who's sitting to PapaBear's left since that certainly doesn't look like my curly-locks, but it IS Julia. It was a one time occurrance. I would never let her hair get that messy every single day. Not me!
See? I keep it neatly combed, conditioned, detangled, defrizzed, and accessorized properly.

It does not look like this every day except on Tuesdays and Sundays.

I do not let my child out of the house looking like this or take advantage of winter and hide this rat's nest under a hat. Not me!

I'm always on the ball. I'm not lazy. I always stay on top of things. (Like keeping the cat alive. )

Except when I'm not and get my camera instead of getting Houston out of the dog food.

I turned 32 yesterday. At my age I know better!

What haven't you done this week?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Party Hardy

I celebrated my 32nd birthday with a Big Sledding Bash at our park. It felt like -29 when we woke up but we were too busy preparing food to notice.
Here's the china cabinet that we used to chill some of the beverages. The rest fit in the refrigerator (once we moved all our condiments across the street to the park refrigerator)


The first round of guests that arrived included this cutie...

His mom, MckMama, his aunt, Hilary, and blogging In Real Life friends, Esther and her sweet daughter, Emma.


Because it was so cold we didn't have to rent skis. That meant PapaBear could join the fun. He took me for a couple rides on our vintage toboggan.


Tanner went down the hill at least 20 times.


Sam preferred keeping watch over the fire with Grandpa, but I did get him to go down once with Isaac and I. Thanks Gene for keeping the fire going for so long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Bill and Trudy took a spin around the park on their skis. Talk about brave!


Seventeen of our guests, yes SEVENTEEN went sledding or skiing in sub zero temps. I was very, very impressed.

Back inside, the kids played games (This one is a relay where the kids wore big boots and mittens and retrieved a marshmallow from a bowl before handing their gear off to their teammate.)




Thanks Linda for giving Julia a hand!


Pin the nose on the snowman was a tad tamer, but still fun.



For the adults I made up a couple of games. One, we had people guess the amount of water (in ounces) that a big jar of snow would melt into. Turns out a packed full gallon jar turns into over 6 1/2 cups of water.


The other game was a family affair. Each family was given a cup with an ice cube in it and a washcloth. Their task: to melt the ice cube first. The only rule: no putting it in your mouth

I had a few more games and activities up my sleeve, but we never needed them. People spread all over the house, visiting, eating, playing.... I turned the master bedroom into a movie theater and put the train table in there to make more room in the playroom. Sam's room became the reading room, the playroom was a popular place, filled with 'new' toys...

One of the activities we didn't get to (until today) was using shaving cream as snow to drive cars around in. Judging by how messy Julia got, this was probably a good thing.



It was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday! THANK YOU EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU WHO CAME OUT TO THE WOODS TO CELEBRATE WITH ME AND FOR BRINGING SO MUCH YUMMY FOOD!

(like these tasty meringue mushrooms Kitty brought)

Friday, January 23, 2009

A second helping dipping

"The branches were dipped in frosting this morn"



and the sun cast a fairyland spell;



Each fragile twig looked feathered and white
and beckoned a heart to swell.

A winter treasure - a sight to behold -


while silence augmented the scene;


I wanted to walk through an open gate
to find the artist, supreme.


No gate could I see, the artist unseen,

awe captured my soul;


The canvas would change, as nature intended,



but I'd witnessed her morning's goal.


(By Joan Adams Burchell)


If this poem sounds familiar it's because I used it last year with a different series of frost pictures that I took at our old house. You can see them here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A full house

In two days my house will be filled with 17 children and about 25 adults. I'm so excited! For the second time we are inviting our friends and family over for a big sledding bash. The weather doesn't look like it's going to cooperate (high on Saturday of zero), but I'm not letting that get me down. Instead, I'm coming up with indoor winter games and activities for adults and children. I've got a few things up my sleeve, but am putting out a request to all you creative types for more ideas.

Does anyone know of any games or activities with a snow, ice, or winter theme you'd be willing to share? (Most kids are 2-5 years old)

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lost in Translation


Except for one post at the end of 2007, I haven't kept up with recording the words SisterBear is learning. Her vocab is too big and constantly growing. She's one of the only kids who sings all the words to the songs at school. It's not obvious to everyone what she's saying all the time, but for the most part she can get her point across. When we can't understand what she's saying BrotherBear is our go-to guy for a translation. 90% of the time he can tell us right away what she's saying. 5% of the time she has to repeat herself a few times and then he gets it.

Her latest phrase is "don't worry" which comes out clear as whistle with a touch of toddler cuteness that always makes me smile.

"Don't worry Mama. I'll get that." or "Don't worry Mama. I kiss that."

A couple days ago she started answering with "sure" instead of yes. It comes out more like "show" or "shoe" but it's clear what her meaning is. The significance of this word is that it means she's learning to say the 's' and 'sh' sounds.
What does she call her brother then if she hadn't been saying 's'?
Here's a hint:
They are often mistaken for sweet potatoes.

I think our days of living with a 'Yam' (or Yammy) are almost over. I caught a hint of a 's' this morning when she called out to her brother who was playing on the snow "moutain" at the end of the school day.

The potatoes Yams were sweet while they lasted.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The pay off

I've been blogging about not blogging, and then blogging via Twitter about how not blogging is going for me. Did you follow that? It's ok if you didn't. The whole point of me logging on to post right now is to record the words BrotherBear just said to me out of the blue.

"You're a really nice mommy."

And that folks, is what makes it all worth it. Thanks to those who have continued to follow our story! I appreciate your friendship and understanding as I refocus my priorities.

Not Me Monday - 18th Edition

It's the start of a new work week, a clean slate so-to-speak. The things that happened this past week are ancient history (unless of course they were blogged about, and then someday when I'm not making blogs into books for other people, I'll forever memorialize my shortcomings in my own hardcover masterpiece book.

To join the Not Me fun head over to My Charming Kids. My friend MckMama has been hosting this carnival for about four months now.
Has it really been that long?
I cringe when I think about the things I could have accomplished if I had been as committed to losing weight, exercising, service projects, eating healthy, saving money, etc... as I have been to Not Me Monday. BUT that's the beauty of this carnival! I can let go of the guilt, wipe that grungy slate clean, and because I am a child of God, His forgiveness makes all things new.

A new week. Ah!!!! Almost makes me want to skip over the things I didn't do last week. Wait. That's NOT a bad idea, especially since I can't think of one single thing to put on my Not Me Monday list. That never happens. Ever! I have 17 other posts to prove it. Must have been a pretty good week. Pardon me while I let that soak in.

Ah...that feels good.

Can I go two weeks in a row?
You'll have to come back next Monday to find out!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

4 the love of seasons

The following was originally meant to be posted last week when it was still super cold out. We've made it to the 20's now and people are coming out in droves to ski now. I rented over 40 pairs of skis yesterday compared to the typical 15.

The mercury appears to be taking up permanent residence in the bottom of the thermometer so I thought it would be fun to remind myself why exactly I love living here even when we're stuck in an 80+ hour stretch of sub zero temps.

Winters are long here so even with the sun setting we have to take advantage of the 'warm' days that we get from time to time.


Eventually Spring will take hold and the fruit trees will distract us from any lingering memory of Winter.


Next comes my least favorite season of all - Summer. Why don't I like Summer? Because I melt whenever it gets above 70. Just ask my college roommate, Sarah, who had to huddle under her blankets while I had my window open to cool off (and that was in the Fall and Spring!)

There are times when it's OK for the weather to be hot, like when we're at a friend's cabin for four days. Then I don't mind a bit.

My favorite season of all? Autumn.
Cool, crisp temperatures and colors like this.

Do you live where the seasons change? Which is your favorite?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

PapaBear, a puppy, and a pun

SisterBear and I had a tea party this morning.

We invited a lamb and puppy to join us.

We drank tea (with sprinkles) and ate cupcakes.

Then it was time to go grocery shopping (in the hallway).

I lined the walls with food and the kids put the items in their shopping cart.

I mentioned to PapaBear that I hadn't played like this for a long time. I havn't used my imagination or been creative.
I havn't engaged with the kids.
I have been a lump.
Existing.
"Why do you put up with me?" I asked.
"I've been a lump on a log."

He laughed and said, "No, you've been a lump on a blog."

Not any more!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A little bit more about me

I just did an About Me post a couple weeks back, but it's always fun to do the random things memes that come along from time to time. (This one came from Brittany.)

I had a fear of my house burning down when I was a kid. Not when I was in it, but that we'd come home one day and instead of seeing our house, there would only be ashes.

That house burned down 2 years after we moved out.

I am named after two of my great grandmothers. I consider myself lucky to not have an 'old' sounding name.

I was picked on my freshman year of high school by a group of boys who were friends before and after that year. I was thrown in the boys locker room shower, squirted with pickle juice, and made to sit all by myself in Advance Biology while the rest of the students moved their desks to the other side of the room. I could go on and on.....

Their nickname for me was "paja muchacha" loosely translated to "Prairie Girl"

I don't wear my wedding or engagement rings very often. Instead I wear a $15 silver band I picked up at Von Maur. I love my rings so much that I don't want the daily wear and tear to take a toll on them.

I am a photographer and also a potter (wheel thrown), but don't consider myself an artist. I looked at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Brooks, but didn't think they were 'me'.

I didn't buy my first CD until I was 18. I maybe own 15 CD that aren't kids or Christmas music.

I photographed my first wedding when I was a sophomore in college.

I have been disowned by my dad's family because my sisters and I wouldn't pay $40,000 (there were debts against his property after he died) in order to give away an $80,000 piece of property. (My grandparents didn't want us to have the property. They wanted us to sign it back to them after we paid for it.)

I lived on $40 a month for food my sophomore year of college, yet those were my heaviest days.

I asked my date to the junior prom the day court was announced. ALL our friends were on court and if I didn't ask Gary, I wouldn't have anyone to go with. He said yes. I wore a magenta dress and he wore a matching bow tie. We went to Chuck-E-Cheese for dinner. I beat him at Skee Ball. I remember a little girl asking me if I was Cinderella.

I have ridges in my fingernails from mineral deficiencies.

I haven't eaten a McDonald's french fry in 52 months.

I was in a sorority in college.

I haven't ridden a bike in over 5 years.


There. Sixteen things that most people don't already know. It was harder than I thought because, really, what haven't I blogged about? Maybe there's something that you'd like to know about me or our little life in the woods that you haven't already asked. Feel free to leave a question in the comments. I'm off to get ready for my date tonight (see recent tweet). Have a great weekened everyone!

Oh! I almost forgot!

I'm going to tag Jenney, Esther, Lori, Hilary, Debbie, Kelli, and Lisa to write 16 things about themselves that most people don't already know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Their story


I tweeted late last night about a new blog I'm reading. It's written by a mom and dad of twins. I have the privilege of reading each and every word they wrote about their children's first year because Jenny and Joel of Our Story have hired me to make their blog into a book for Sam and Amelia's birthday. I'm 60 pages into the project and wanted to share a couple of my favorite entries with you.

This one about a Daddy's First Kiss will make you feel like you were there to witness the special moments Joel had with his preemies a week after they were born. Then there's this one written by Jenny. Her children are in the NICU, her husband had a bike accident - yet she still finds the silver lining!

The twins are going to turn two in April, but I'm starting at the beginning of the story. If you can find the time, I suggest you do too!

Shine on me

Once we got past the "car vs. snow plow" scene on Tuesday it was smooth sailing to SisterBear's new school. "My YOU-to-to" she calls it. I have no idea why. Most everything else she says is understandable, but "new school" always comes out with a few extra syllables.


It's a huge class - 14 kids. We're used to 6. 10 max.
There were familiar faces (BrotherBear's old teacher and an aide SisterBear knows from last year) and toys she loves, so the separation was a cinch.


The mom's had an hour with a parent educator and while I'm normally an active participant, I for the most part, settled back in my seat and soaked up the experience of being surrounded by other moms. I'm very isolated out here in the country and really missed my ECFE moms. I don't even know this new group yet, but already they are bringing sunshine to my life and when schools are closing left and right the night before, we could all use a little sunshine like the kids are using in this photo to melt the snowmen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No news is good news

If you scroll down to the "Breaking Bear Country New's sign on my blog you'll see that I started twittering recently. It's a great way to update my blog without spending too much time online. If you'd like to follow along I'm 4MamaBear. If not, that's ok too. Nothing that exciting happens around here anyway unless you consider $10,000 worth of camping reservations taken in less than four hours newsworthy. Yes folks, that's right. Almost 400 nights of camping were reserved this morning before I had time to eat a decent meal.

Makes me appreciate the long, cold winter months a little more.

Wordless Wednesday

The fruit snack test

I've always been very cautious about what I let the kids watch on TV. Now that they are exclusively watching movies, I don't have to worry about commercials, but simply the content. Violence, guns, bad language, etc... are found in just about everything these days. One of the reasons I don't like kids TV shows and movies is all the products that are associated with them. We avoid the whining and begging for clothes, shoes, food, and more toys that always come along with the latest movie or cartoon.

Until very recently we only had two Disney movies in the house. Sam was 4 before he watched Finding Nemo. Of course this means, Julia is watching stuff at 2, that Sam never, ever did. The perk of being the second child I suppose.

Tonight, (I mean yesterday...I'm scheduling this to post in the morning so I can stick to my new routine), Sharon brought us 15 movies that she didn't need anymore. Don't tell the kids, but she also shared a bunch of brownies too. Most of them are Disney movies. Why the sudden change of heart? I realized that once the hype is over the chances of stores pushing slippers, pajamas, t-shirts, action figures, or fruit sacks plastered with the characters in the movies is pretty slim.

So as long as there isn't a princess involved (we don't do princesses) and there isn't a fruit snack on the shelf with the characters faces - we're good to go. Obviously this doesn't mean they'll be watching R rated movies anytime soon, but we're loosening the reins a bit on the rest.

Sam is sleeping with Treasure Planet and Dinosaur tonight. I think he's excited about our new entertainment options. THANK YOU SHARON!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not Me Monday - 17th Edition

It's time for my free therapy session, otherwise known as Not Me Monday. My friend, MckMama hosts this blog carnival over at My Charming Kids.

We get things off our chests and in the process remind each other that we are only one person, we're human, and our kids will forgive us (if not now - in their own future therapy sessions).


This might be the second week of the new year, but I've made more changes this week than last. My new layout for example - Emily, at her design site, The Blog Necessities, designed it for me. I did not bug her with over 20 emails filled with questions about what was and wasn't possible in my layout. I'm not html and digital scrap booking illiterate and therefore a clueless in that area. She was kind and considerate of my shortcomings and in less than four days had my new blog up and running. Thanks Emily!


My other change will be in the frequency of my posts. It is not because I've become a blogging fool - a fool who's taken too much time away from her family to post twice a day, every day. I have more self control than that. Please know that I love hearing from all of you and thanks to my trusty 'dashboard' I will continue to follow your blogs in a limited capacity, but I need to make a shift in my priorities. This is not going to be very hard. I'm not that addicted to my computer!


There were other things that happened this week that I wish I could have changed. Let me give a run down, starting with Sunday:


We went to church despite blowing snow and icy roads. We gave ourselves plenty of time to make it on time.

It worked.

We were 30 minutes early.

I used that time to let the kids run around like wild Indians to wear them out.

It didn't matter.

SisterBear was a pill by the time the sermon started. I couldn't get her to calm down enough to see that I was trying to give her M&M so she'd be quiet. I tossed the bag out of the sanctuary in hopes that she would go after it. That didn't fail miserably because BrotherBear snatched the bag of treats right up. *sigh*


It felt like a complete waste of time to go to church that day. Did I just 'say' that out loud? Nope. Not Me. That had to be someone else! We all had to bail on the service almost twenty minutes before the end so we weren't late getting home to rent skis at our park. I am not completely frustrated by our inability to have at least one meaningful time of worship a month.

Not one bit.


Speaking of changing....I changed SisterBears diaper after we got home from church and realized that PapaBear thought I had changed her first thing in the morning while I thought he had changed her first thing in the morning. She did not go 17 hours without a diaper change and we most certainly did not take her to church in a soggy diaper. Not us!


*insert long work week of sleepless nights and tons and tons of coughing*


Phew! If only those five days went as fast as it did to type that! Which brings us to Saturday. This is the day we rent skis and snowshoes from 10am until 4pm. This takes a huge chunk of time out of our day and leaves me with two small windows of time to accomplish anything if I want PapaBear's help. There wasn't any food in the house, very little gas in the car, and two checks that needed to be deposited so I hustled my behind to town. I was back in less than 30 minutes. PapaBear's jaw didn't just about hit the floor when he saw how fast I was. I think I set the bar too high.


Before I left for the office I gave both kids albuteral nebs. This was prescribed by their doctor, not by their mother. aackhem...sorry, must have been a frog in my throat. Which reminds me - I got an email from the Blog Frog creator, Rustin Banks, earlier in the week. He asked me if I wanted to be one of the select blogs who uses a widget they've developed. Sure!!!! Sign me up!!

MckMama and Brittany have it on their blogs and it's a neat way for a community of readers to get to know each other. Brittany offered to let me use her words to bring people up to speed on the features of this new widget. I didn't take her up on it. Not me! I'm an original. I do things my own way. I would never copy link her stuff.


What didn't you do since your last visit to our neck of the woods?


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Under Construction

It's been a few months since I've changed up my template so I thought it would be fun to mix things up again. My Bear header was new right before Christmas so I didn't get to decorate my blog for the holidays. I 'met' a sweet gal last week named Emily who has a second blog where she posts FREE backgrounds. She has been working tirelessly to create my new look ever since. Didn't she do a terrific job? Valentine's Day is just around the corner so now is the perfect time to check out The Blog Necessities!


Thank you Emily!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm half way there! - the long version

Esther did this little meme which she got from Minnesota Mom and I couldn't help but join in. The things I have done in my life are in bold, the things in italics are things that I could have done in Europe, but because of long lines or cost, chose not to. Edited to add: I'm having trouble telling the difference between bold and not bold so I'm going to add an * to the ones I've done.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive! I share the stories behind my crazy life under each activity.

I have a tendency to get long winded so I'm holding back from telling the story of each item in bold, but maybe I'll go back and edit this sometime. My kids might get a laugh out of hearing how my friends and I almost drove right past the Grand Canyon because we didn't see it at first. Who misses a gigantic hole in the ground?! Or the time my friend Rhonda and I went to a drive-in movie and fell asleep (it was a double feature). We woke up at 2am in a deserted drive-in.


1. Started your own blog*

MckMama introduced me to blogging back in the Fall of 2006. I started my first blog on January 24th, 2007. I now have 5 of them.
2. Slept under the stars*
In 1995 I worked on a trail crew in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana. We were stationed 26 miles from the nearest road where we constructed a re-route of a damaged trail. On our way out of the wilderness we somehow missed our campsite so we had to keep hiking to the next one. We climbed an 8,000ft 'hill' and hiked 15 miles before we collapsed on top of our tents at our revised desination. I saw 5 shooting stars before I drifted off to sleep. Click here to read more about The Bob and see a picture of the Chinese Wall (part of the Continential Divide) we climbed one day.
3. Played in a band*
I started off playing the saxophone in sixth grade, but switched to the clarinet by seventh because it was too expensive to rent the sax and my mom still had her old clarinet that I could use. I tried the trumpet in high school, but soon learned I didn't have the lung capacity for it.

Our band director was a jerk, but by mid high school I'd already invested 5 years and didn't want to miss out on the first ever band trip that we finally took our senior year. I avoided much of our director's yelling and profuse sweating by only taking band second semester my jr and sr years. (I got out of marching during football games that way too.)


4. Visited Hawaii*
The girl that lived across the hall from me my freshman year of college had a great aunt that lived in Honolulu. Using her buddy passes from Northwest Airlines, four of us spent a week in the Aloha state for only $500.
5. Watched a meteor shower
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain.*
Besides the ones in Montana, I hiked a few on the 30+ mile Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo*
I sang the opening solo for church once.
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris*
While I was studying in Vienna (jr. year of college) we took a train around Europe on our 10 day vacation. Paris was on our list. You can see some of my Europe pictures in this post.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (It was a lake)*
Lake Kabetogama, MN to be exact. A huge wall cloud came through. I have the pictures to prove it.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch*
I'm a self taught photographer (except for the help from my mom when I was a kid). I also make wheel thrown pottery.
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables*
We tried our hand at container gardening once. What we did harvest tasted great, but it wasn't much.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
The line at the Louvre is LONG and the Musee de Orsay with all the Monets was more to our liking.
20. Slept on an overnight train*
We took a sleeper train from Santiago, Chile to the Lake District with 63 college students. All I remember is the velvet curtains. In Europe we saved money by traveling at night. We'd get to our destination without wasting daylight hours or having to pay for a hotel or hostel. The guy who punches the tickets messed up on the Vienna to Paris leg so we ended up getting a FREE ride to Paris.
21. Had a pillow fight*
I have two younger sisters and enjoyed many sleep-overs with my girlfriend. Enough said.
22. Hitch hiked*
I've done this twice. Once, when I was 16 and my truck's gas gauge was broken, I ran out of gas on the way to work. A couple of guys picked me up on the side of the road and drove me to McDonalds. Real safe huh?

The other time was in Puetro Madryn, Argentina. A taxi dropped us off out of town about 3 miles where we could watch the sea elephants, but when a storm rolled in we were either going to get soaked or needed to hitch a ride. We squeezed six people in a little hatch back.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill*
Our dog was sick once so I had to stay home so he didn't p**p all over the house.
24. Built a snow fort*
I loved doing this as a kid. One of my most fond memories of grade school is when we made forts during recess. We would use sheets of ice to make windows.
25. Held a lamb*
Our friends, the Watsons, had sheep. There was an ewe that wouldn't accept one of her twins. We got to keep in our house for a while and bottle feed it. Of course we named her Mary.
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
We took lots of pictures of them when Sarah and I spent the weekend there, but it's very pricy. We opted to ride the water taxi's around instead.
29 Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset*
I can't believe I'm admitting this, but when we were in San Sebastian, Spain I got up early to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic only to realize that isn't possible. My favorite sunrise ever was in Costa Rica - the tide was out and the pinks, reds, and oranges reflecting on the water and rocks was breathtaking.
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33 Seen Niagara Falls in person*
Our spring break band trip destination. Not as warm as Florida, but it was neat to go to Canada!
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
Again, the line was way too long. We saw a replica outside and spent our time shopping for leather and enjoying the rest of Florence.
41 Sung karaoke*
At a bar in Vienna.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight*
Except for when I was in Europe I spent all my Spring Break trips doing a Habitat For Humanity service project. Twice we drove from Illinois to Homestead, Florida and the other time we went to New Orleans. We walked along the beach in Biloxi, Mississippi in the moonlight. I made a sand angel.
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
A fellow crew member from my Montana stint was from Grenoble, France. Through letters we made plans to meet under the Eiffel tower at a specific time. When I got there, I had NO idea how BIG it is under there! She hadn't changed a bit in the three years since I saw her so eventually I spotted her. We were too busy catching up to bother spending the money to go to the top. PapaBear has been to the top before. I think he said he paid $5 for a hotdog at the cafe up there. He took one bite and then the wind blew it out of his hand.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling*
I will NEVER EVER go scuba diving. My heart rate is increasing as I type this - that's how anxious I get about it. I've been snorkling in Hanauma Bay in Oahu, off of Key Largo, and in Costa Rica. I will never do it again. I don't do well with things swimming around me in the water. I get panic attacks.
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud*
It was tradition to have water fights between the horse barn people and the cow barn people the last day of the Dane County Fair. They usually involved mud too...and maybe a little manure.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater*
See beginning of post. :)
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business*
I ran an in-home daycare for almost three years and my photography business is in it's second year.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60 Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching*
One of the neatest things I've ever done! Southern Wales can be 40 FEET LONG!
63. Gotten flowers for no reason*
PapaBear is good like that.
64 Donated blood, platelets, or plasma*
My small, liberal arts college was located a mile or two from a shady part of town where a place to sell plasma was located. You could donate twice a week if you passed the mini physical each time. The finger poke (to check iron levels) hurt more than the giant needle they used to draw blood. The blood was pumped into a machine where the plasma was removed. I have scars on my arm from the few times I went. I quit going when they spent 15 moving the needle around in my arm while trying to locate one of my tiny veins. Thankfully they had a "You get poked, you get paid" policy. I can't remember how much the checks were.

Because of all the traveling I did in Central and South America I couldn't donate blood for three years. I don't have an excuse anymore.
65. Gone sky diving
66 Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp*
While we were in Poland we spent an afternoon at Auschwitz. We were more than an hour into our bus ride home before any spoke a word. It was a very powerful experience.
67 Bounced a check*
More than I care to admit.
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy*
Thanks to my mom for storing these for 2 decades so my kids can enjoy them as much as I did!
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
*
In high school I spent two weeks touring the monuments and museums in the Washington DC area with a 4-H group. I was maybe 15 at the time - too young to appreciate the history of it all.
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt*
My grandma helped me make a quilt for my dolls during a visit once.
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades*
A perk of a Habitat For Humanity trip to Florida
75. Been fired from a job*
"You are disruptive and talk too much." That's what my supervisor's supervisor said to me the day I went to see if I could be moved to a new location on the floor. I worked for a cell phone repair company. My job was to put the correct mailing labels on the boxes and then put them on the pallets for the mail trucks.
My numbers were high. I was good at my job. I was a temp though so MY hard work was paying for the profit sharing benefits for this moron that I couldn't take anymore. He spent at least half of his day away from his station, visiting other workers while I busted my behind. PapaBear warned me to just ignore him, but I didn't listen. I told moron guy off one day. The next day when he proceeded to make my life a living hell I went up the chain of command to ask for a transfer. Not once did I mention names, but the damage was done. They told me they no longer had a need for me.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone*
I broke a finger once, but it was mostly healed before I ever had it checked out. I was always jamming fingers playing basketball or volleyball so I figured that's what I'd done until it wasn't getting better as fast as it should have.
One of my front teeth is broken too - the root, to be exact, is broken in two places after an unfortunate basketball incident on February 2, 1998.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79 Seen the Grand Canyon in person*
See beginning of post.
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car*
Technically my grandparents bought it for me. A 1999 Chevy Malibu
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper*
I grew up in a town of 2000 people. Combine that with playing 3 sports a year and 10 years in 4-H and my picture was in the paper often. Nobody made a big deal out of being in the paper.
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House*
During that same DC trip in high school
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
We butchered chickens and rabbits when I was a kid. I did everything but swing the ax - including pulling the hides off of the rabbits while they hang from a rope in the barn. Did you know that if you take a dead chicken that still has it's larynx and dip it in water, you can hear a chicken sound? On a dead chicken, with no head.
88. Had chickenpox*
I had a very mild case when I was 2 years old.
89. Saved someone’s life*
Two friends and I were walking along a trail beside the Wisconsin River (at night) when all of a sudden one of the girls was gone. She had slipped on the pine needles and fallen into the river. The Wisconsin Dells are known for their sandstone cliffs which can be huge. The one she fell over looked more like this. My other friend and I called out to her and thankfully she answered. We made a human chain and pulled her out of the water. We never told our parents what happened.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one*
My Grandpas and my dad
94. Had a baby
*
Two of them - they are my pride and joy!
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone*
Got my first one my freshman year of college - 1995
99. Been stung by a bee
*
Once while I was driving and another time when I reached in the mailbox to retrieve the mail.
100. Become a child of God * - I was in first grade. It was during Monday morning chapel.
Esther added this last one and I couldn't agree more! Read her reason in her own words:

"It took me a long time to decide to take part in this. I know, I know, I love a meme. But this one sort of bothered me. Is my self-worth determined by all these things? When I die, and I haven't experienced all 99 of these, am I less of a person? Then I was reminded of something my husband is always saying to me, "Does your salvation depend on this?"

The answer is no. Nothing depends on my salvation, other than my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Acts 4:12 says, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
So I had to add my own item.
100. Become a child of God"

If inquiring minds want to know - I will go back in and add a little blurb about each bolded item, just say the word, if not, I'll wait until I make my blog book - that is if Blurb ever fixes their compatibility issues with Blogger. Grrrrr!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pink & Brown Day



It's Gwyneth Rose's 1st birthday today! SisterBear is wearing pink and brown in her honor. This incredible family has gone through so much in the past year and they continue to inspire me to stop and smell the roses.








Hats



off



to



















YOU, Gwyneth!

Happy First
Birthday!

Canoe camping with kids

I've been sharing highlights from our recent trip to the BWCA on Instagram . The spot we go is perfect for families with young kids beca...