A Chilly Day at the Pumpkin Patch

We have had a beautiful fall. It has been the perfect combination of warm days mixed with cool nights and mornings.  In.cred.ible!  We have only had one weekend where the weather decided to give us a taste of winter.  The cool streak started on the Friday our homeschool group had scheduled a trip to the pumpkin patch.  (Since that weekend, we have had beautiful warm sunny days.)

We were supposed to spend the morning at the pumpkin patch but it was far too chilly.  The temperature was in the 40's, the sky was overcast and it was very windy.  Thankfully, the kids really didn't seemed bothered by the cold. They were so excited to pick the pumpkins, go on the hayride, and see the new animals in the petting zoo (zebra and camel). 

Even though it was a short and very chilly trip, it was an adventure and one the kids will remember for a long time.  


He Did It!

A little chart. (he marked each day with a sticker when he didn't suck his thumb and every week he got to watch a movie, or he could play the wii, or pick one thing at the dollar store)

A boy who is no longer sucking his thumb.

A happy mama! 

The completed chart - 6 weeks of no thumb sucking
The grand prize: a skateboard ($7 thank you very much)
so proud

(showin' some skills)

Interview with Landon:
Do you miss sucking your thumb: No
Do you miss your blanket: Yes
What would happen if I gave you your blanket: I would suck my thumb

At least he is honest. 

Italian Dinner

In September, our neighbor Joanie went on a two week tour of Italy with her daughters.  During their trip they spent four days at a cooking school, learning new cooking techniques and eating wonderful food.

Last Saturday evening, Joanie invited our family along with three other families over to have an Italian dining experience.

The great thing about Joanie is she is all about the kids. She invited all the kids over early to help set tables, prepare food, set out water cups, and practice their jobs for the dinner.  She also wanted the kids to try her Italian cuisine but knowing that it wasn't all kid friendly she also prepared a kid friendly dinner and dessert.  

The adults were treated to a five course Italian dinner.  The food was fantastic!  Thank you Joanie for treating us to such a special dinner. Thank you Pat and Lance for doing all the dishes for Joanie!

The Meal:
1. First course: peaches with honey, two different cheeses, and jam
2. Second course: Squash stuffed ravioli (so so yummy and I am not even a fan of squash)
3. Fifth course: Cooked cream with berries 

I was too excited about the third and fourth course to get photos! The third course was bread salad and the fourth course was roasted pork loin and roasted garlic potatoes.

The Workers:
4. Morgan: setting tables, serving, and clearing dishes
5. Joanie: our wonderful, gracious hostess
6. Landon: the butler "Welcome to Italy may I take your coat or purse"
7. Mauryn: just because she is so stinkin' cute!

(The picture missing is of me rolling across the street to get home because I ate way too much food)


All In A Days Work

In the past week Landon has taken an interest in sounding out words, figuring out rhyming words and words that start with the same letter. He has become very interested in starting to write letters and words.  He is constantly asking how to spell things and writing them in his notebook or making things with letters on them for his friends.

Over the weekend, Lance took Landon with him on some farm calls.  As my boys were driving along, Landon was asking Lance how to write "work pants" and how to form the letters he didn't know how to write yet.  

When they returned from working this is what I found on Landon's pants:

self portrait

this is how you write work pants - twice since the first one wasn't good enough

So next time Landon is wanting to write, we need to be sure he is writing on PAPER!

I really tried hard not to laugh. Seriously, the boy was so proud of his work and coming from a kid who had zero, i mean z.e.r.o interest in any type of school just a few short months ago this is progress. I complemented him on his writing and sounding out letters but then gently reminded him that we don't write on our clothing. 

And then as any good blogger would do, I had to get some pictures to remember this moment.

My boy showing off his skills.

Thanks to Melaleuca prespot, there is no more ink on his jeans. YES!


Fall Fun

 My friend Stephanie had this posted on her blog and I thought it looked like fun.

F (favorite fall food recipe)
Ohh this is a hard one... there are baked apple doughnuts, pumpkin bars, chocolate chip pumpkin cookies, candy corn with peanuts and M&M's (not really a recipe but a yummy snack)
A (favorite fall activity)
When we lived in MN, we had an apple orchard about five miles from our house. I loved going their for lunch, taking the hayride, and picking apples. I haven't found any place near our house now that offers those type of opportunities. We do go to the pumpkin patch, feed the ducks on the greenbelt, and just enjoy being outside biking or going on walks.
L (favorite fall liquid drink)
Hot chocolate or hot caramel apple cider
L (what you look forward to when fall comes)
Curling up with a blanket by the fireplace with a book or a movie, hot chocolate, football games, my girls' birthdays, wearing sweaters, scarves, and jeans, bonfires, macintosh apples, making soup, all the yummy fall baked good with pumpkin, and the list could go on and on...

What are your fall favorites??

Ode To Decorah

The fall always makes me long for the place I called home for my four years of college.  The memories of football games, dinners at Mabe's (still my all time favorite pizza. if only they delivered to Idaho), walks on tree lined streets, and hikes at the parks.  

This quiet little town in northeast Iowa is a diamond in the rough in the fall. It is one of the most beautiful places when summer turns to fall. The rolling hills, the bluffs, the trees turning magnificent shades of red, orange, and yellow. Amazing.  

Most people have never heard of Decorah, Iowa or Luther College

Since we no longer have cable, I have been trying to find some new shows to record on TiVo to watch while I workout. (I am open to any suggestions for shows not on cable to record)

Earlier this week, I was watching an episode of Life on Mars.  One of the characters was talking about how hard it was to live in NY and she missed home. Where was home? DECORAH, IOWA.

When the character, Windy, said she was from Decorah Iowa. I about fell off my elliptical machine.  I wanted to make sure I heard her correctly so I replayed the scene about ten times. By now I was fairly certain she had said Decorah, Iowa but I wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining it.

So I called to Lance in my loudest whisper yell, you know the one where you want to get his attention but not wake the children.  I didn't tell him anything about what was playing just that I wanted him to watch it. And I knew when a look of surprise came across his face, the Windy in fact had said Decorah Iowa.

So our fair Decorah, Iowa you are now famous. Although most people will probably have missed the fine city where Windy hailed from but to us it brought smiles and memories of a place we hold so dear to our hearts.


His First 10 K

Last spring, Lance and I increased our life insurance. In order to get our rates we had to have a "mini" physical.  When our results came back in, it showed that Lance had high cholesterol.  

From that moment on, Lance became determined to get in better physical shape, drop a few pounds, and lower his cholesterol.  

He started to run 3 or 4 days a week. He has done this before, gotten on a health kick, but then after a few weeks he would stop running. I was supporting him in his efforts but I honestly didn't think he would stick with it. 

So I bought him the jumbo size box of Cheerios at Cost.co. I thought it would be a better method of lowering his cholesterol.

He has been determined and has continued on his running regimen since May. So for his birthday gift, our neighbors signed him up for a 10k race last weekend.  

His first official race. 

He did awesome.  The kids were so excited to be there to cheer him on as he came into the finish.  Our neighbor Val ran in the race as well, she did a great.  We are so proud of both of them for sticking with running and finishing their race.

Way to go Lance and Val!

What She Said

Last week, I checked my face.book account and had an important (i know it was important because it was all in capitals) message from my bloggy friend Denise to check out her blog.  I popped on over and this is what I found.  

I did in fact get to meet Denise via skype last week. In fact, she videotaped part of our meeting. I did too but somehow my video was deleted. GRR!  Anyway, it was so much fun.  Thanks Denise for the invitation to skype with you.  Just like when I met Lynn on skype, it was like talking to an old friend even though we had never met in real life.  It is just part of the craziness of this blogging community that I enjoy so much.
check out Sarah's post here on the fellowship found through blogging, she describes it so well.


The BIg Reveal

Pictures courtesy of Morgan, aspiring photographer.




The results are in....

 not officially since my poll doesn't close for 3 more days but today is haircut day.

According to my poll, 70% of those who voted think I should go for the pixie cut.  

So in a few hours I will be sitting in the chair at the salon and ......

You will see for yourself this afternoon when I post a picture!

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping on the Job


Catching Up with Technology

Last week, I sent my first text message.  (gasp)

All you text savvy people can pick yourselves up off the floor now.

My old phone was a dinosaur. A dinosaur I'm telling you.  It didn't have capabilities to take pictures or video and it didn't have a nice little keyboard for text messaging.  

When I switched cell phone companies, I got a new phone.  I am no texting fool but boy have I found that feature convenient.  I need to ask a friend a question who doesn't check their email as obsessively frequently often as I do, I can send a text.   A real time saver during our school day since a quick question could turn into a 30 minute phone conversation.  

Not only am I now a using text messaging, but I am a  skyper.  We are making technological gains in this house people!

My sister in law had emailed me about skype.   Since it is FREE, we signed up.  The kids and I had some fun last week playing with skype and getting to "see" our family.  

Over the weekend, I got a real treat when I was able to "meet" a bloggy friend on skype.  It was so much fun! It is the next best thing to meeting in real life.  We met kids, spouses (hers mine was hunting), and visited like old friends.  I can't wait to do it again.

I am still not very tech savvy, but for a time I am catching up with technology.  


Hair Dilemma

I have very little patience when it comes to my hair.  I have tried to grow it out, unsuccessfully, many times over the years.  I get impatient with the process and having the same style for long periods of time.

I am currently in the "growing my hair out" stage.  I haven't felt the need to cut my hair or change things up until a few weeks ago when I saw the pictures of Victoria Beckham's new pixie hair cut.  

Once I saw the pictures of her new do, I found myself wanting to cut my hair.  I have an appointment this week, so my hair dilemma is: stick with the grow it out plan or just chop my hair and do something fun??  

This is where you all come in -  you can vote on my poll, leave a comment (I want your honest thoughts, feelings, opinions), or both.  I will post pictures on Thursday with my new, same, or modified haircut!


Cutting Back

The desire to live debt free has been growing in my heart for some time.  It is something that seemed like a dream, not truly an attainable goal. 

At least that is how it seemed until we were introduced to Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University.  

After our first session, we were definitely motivated to get rid of our student loan debt and be debt free.  Then we left class and started to second guess our decision to work on becoming debt free.  Should we tighten our budget to pay off loans that are at 3% and 4% or just continue to live as we are today?  As days went by and we prayed about the direction we needed to take with our budget, it became clear to us that we need to be good stewards with our finances. By maintaining the student loans, we were not being good stewards. 

In order to free up money in our budget to go towards paying off our student loans, we had to prioritize and make some decisions about our spending and our future goals.  It wasn't easy and there were many discussions (and there continue to be many discussions) about what we are willing to live without.  The signature FPU quote: "If you will live like no one else, later you can LIVE like no one else!"  is something we repeat daily. Multiple times each day.  It will take a change of mindset and a change of spending habits in order to meet our goal of becoming debt free.  Without a daily reminder of where we are headed, it could be easy to fall into old habits.

What are we doing to get on the road to financial freedom?

1. Cut up credit cards.  Two weeks ago, I cut up all our credit cards except one.  For the past six years we have paid our balance on our credit cards each month but having the credit card makes it easy to over spend. Good bye Gap card, good bye Old Navy, and the most painful good bye Target. I almost shed a tear or two over that one.  I have a major credit card but I am wavering about cutting it up as well. Statistics say that you spend 12-18% more by using a credit card than by paying with cash or a debt card (even if you pay the balance each month).  I am struggling a bit with not having a credit card but I will say I am leaning towards cutting this last one up too.

2. Canceled cable.  Right in the middle of football season, no more ESPN! OUCH!  

3. Canceled Netflix.  The convenience of having the movies delivered to home was wonderful but we just weren't using it enough to justify the payment. Now with Red Boxes everywhere, we can get a movie for $1 when we know we have time to watch one.

4. Canceled Vibe.  For about five years, we have been taking this liquid vitamin.  It is a great product but it is a cost which we felt we needed to give up until we are debt free. 

5. Use cash envelopes.  Even though we use the mvelopes online system, I felt that there were areas where we would overspend if we didn't use cash.  We use cash for dining out, entertainment, personal care, and part of our food/household (Target, Winco, Schwan's man). I can already see a decrease in spending in those areas. Spending cash hurts. It is really really painful.  I can see that I think more about purchases and stick to my list.   

6. Meal Planning.  I have done meal planning in some form over the years.  Now, I am sitting down at the beginning of the month, planning meals, and posting the menu in the kitchen.  When I make our menu I make a list of needed items and add them to my grocery list.   By sticking to the list and purchasing only what I truly need and not what I think I need or I might need in the future, we are saving on our grocery bill.  

7. College funding on hold.  While we are trying to get rid of debt, we have put funding our kids' college accounts on hold.  Once the debt is paid off we will begin contributing again and we will be able to contribute at a higher rate because our debt will be gone.

What we didn't give up:

1. TiVo.  If I don't run outside, I run on my elliptical machine. When I am on my elliptical machine I watch TV. There is only so much of the local news a girl can watch. The TiVo allows me to mindlessly watch a few shows while working out.  It also allows Lance and I to watch a show after the kids go to bed in record time -without commercials. We heart TiVo and were willing to give up something in another area in order to keep it.

2.  Schwan's Man.  I know this was an emotional decision. I have had the Schwan's man coming to my house since I was born.  I really don't remember a time without the Schwan's man. I have cut back significantly what I purchase from him but there are some things that are so good and not just the ice cream.

3. Internet.  No explanation needed!

4. Home phone.  We have discussed getting rid of our home phone numerous times.  But with young children in the house, I just don't feel comfortable not having a land line. I also don't like talking on a cell phone, I prefer a regular old phone.  For now, the land line stays.

I am interested to know if any of you have tips on saving money or things you have cut back on in order to save money.  


On Our Way to Financial Peace

When I was a junior in high school I got my first "real" job, where I earned a paycheck. The first thing I did when I got my first paycheck was to open a checking account.   I wasn't an athlete so I was able to work quite a few hours each week and was making good money.

By the time I went off to college, I should have had a nice fat savings account. Instead, I had a nice fat suitcase with clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc..  If I had money, I spent it. I had not been taught about saving or even creating a budget.

I had some hard lessons to learn about money over the next few years.  Like many young people, I was lured into applying for a credit card.  I thought that credit card would offer me freedom and security (in case of an emergency) but instead it brought shame, guilt, and years of rethinking and relearning how I dealt with money.

Early on in our marriage, we sold the mobile home we lived in while Lance was in vet school. We made enough money on that sale to make a clean break.  We paid off credit card debt and put a little money in savings.  Without a budget in place, we easily fell into our old habits and started to accrue some credit card debit.

Again we were blessed, this time with a tax refund which allowed us to pay off the credit card debt. We were committed to not getting into credit card debt again.  Although we didn't cut up our credit cards (still feeling like we needed them in case of an emergency), we did create a budget and started to live within the confines of the budget.

I won't say it was easy, or that we were very good at it but we didn't accrue any credit card debt.  I took a financial course through our church which helped us to see where our money was going each month and create a more realistic budget.

About two years ago, a friend told me about a program called Mvelopes.  It is an online version of the old "envelopes system".  You assign your budgeted amount to each envelope for the month. Everyday, the mvelopes program downloads transactions from your bank and/or credit cards so that you can assign them to the proper envelope.  I can daily check where we are with our budget for the month. I know if we can take a trip to Target or if we have to stay away for the rest of the month.  Since I am a visual learner, this system has been a great tool for me.   This is when I finally started to really get our budget because I could physically see where our money went each month.  

In September, Lance and I started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church.  We had heard about FPU from our neighbors who had taken the class two years ago.  It has truly been life changing for them.  I must say, I heart Dave Ramsey. He is smart, honest, and very entertaining.  I listen to his podcast. every. single day. Even though we have been budgeting and out of credit card debit for six years, there is still so much to learn. We have created a new budget, I carry actual envelopes with cash for certain areas that might cause overspending (this has been so hard - it is painful people oh so painful to spend cash), we are teaching our kids about saving, spending, and giving, and we are working our way to being debt free. 

Tomorrow, I am going to share what we have cut out in order to work on paying off our debt (student loans, Lance's business, and our home) and what things we weren't willing to live without.


Happy Birthday Lance!

A few weeks ago, y'all were introduced to my husband in this post.  Today, in honor of his birthday, you'll get to know him a little better through this husband quiz.  I saw this on a few blogs over the past few weeks. On Tara's blog, she put in her husbands answers as well. I took her idea and asked Lance his answers as well as Morgan and Landon. Enjoy getting to know Lance a little bit better!

1. He's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
Kristen : any sporting event, amazing race, american idol, so you think you can dance, and some of the fix up the house type shows
Morgan: football
Landon: football
Lance: sports

2.  You're out to eat, what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
Kristen: ranch
Morgan: ranch
Landon: I don't know
Lance: ranch

3.  What's one food he doesn't like?
Kristen: mushrooms
Morgan: tater tot hotdish
Landon: macaroni and cheese
Lance: venison

4. You go to the bar.(When I asked the kids I asked what he got to drink when we went out to dinner) What does he order?
Kristen: it depends, usually iced tea, pop, or beer
Morgan: it depends: lemonade, beer, water, pop - he normally gets anything
Landon: pop
Lance: beer or iced tea

5.  Where did he go to high school?
Kristen: Rocky Ford, CO home of the Meloneers (his high school mascot was a watermelon)
Morgan: in Iowa
Landon: college
Lance: Rocky Ford, CO

6. What size shoe does he wear?
Kristen: 10 1/2 or 11
Morgan: 11 in mens
Landon: 25
Lance: 10 1/2

7.  If he were to collect anything, what would it be?
Kristen: he is not a collector,  i am so thankful for that!
Morgan: he is a trash can, he throws stuff away
Landon: cows
Lance: nothing

8.  What is his favorite type of sandwich?
Kristen: he isn't much of a sandwich guy but if he had to have one it would be peanut butter and jelly
Morgan: pb & j
Landon: peanut butter and jelly
Lance: i don't have a favorite type of sandwich

9. What would he eat every day if he could?
Kristen: any type of Mexican food
Morgan: a taco from one of the road side stands
Landon: peanut butter and jelly
Lance: Mexican food

10. What is his favorite cereal?
Kristen: Frosted Mini Wheats
Morgan: shredded wheat
Landon: shredded wheat
Lance: I like them all

11. What would he never wear? 
Kristen: anything in a shade of pink
Morgan: a tie
Landon: church clothes
Lance: a dress

12.  What is his favorite sports team?
Kristen: Denver Broncos
Morgan: Denver Broncos
Landon: Denver Broncos
Lance: Denver Broncos

13. Who will he vote for?
Kristen: John McCain and Sarah Palin
Morgan: John McCain
Landon: I don't know
Lance:  not that either is a great choice but John McCain 

14. Who is his best friend?
Kristen: His dad
Morgan: Brett Monson
Landon: Dr. Jason
Lance: Landon

15.  What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't?
Kristen: oh, i think that list would be too long. probably biggest is not taking the garbage out when it is full
Morgan: lean over him when he is on the computer
Landon: play soccer
Lance: vacuum every day

16.  How many states has he lived in?
Kristen: four - Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Idaho
Morgan: four - Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado
Landon: two - Minnesota and Idaho
Lance: four

17.  What is his heritage?
Kristen: He is a mix: Scottish, Irish, English, Norwegien
Morgan: he is from USA and was born in Colorado
Landon: Minnesota
Lance: Norsk

18.  You bake him a cake for his birthday. What kind of cake?
Kristen: He would eat whatever I made as long as it didn't have very much frosting - and he would probably prefer it wasn't chocolate.  
Morgan: he wouldn't care, he would just want cake
Landon: chocolate
Lance: angel food (and that is exactly what he is getting today)

19.  Did he play sports in high school?
Kristen: yes, football, basketball, baseball
Morgan: yes
Landon: yes
Lance: yes

20. What could he spend hours doing?
Kristen: I am not sure his ADD personality could have him doing anything for hours...
Morgan: working or driving
Landon: watching the Broncos
Lance: lots of stuff

21. Does he belong to any men's organizations?
Kristen: no
Morgan: no
Landon: no
Lance: no

Happy Birthday Lance!