Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Garage Sale You Won’t Want To Miss

Bargain shopper alert!!!

There is going to be a seriously huge garage sale you do not want to miss. One day. One bulging garage. One cause. Adoption!


The Leland’s are adopting two little boys from Africa and this garage sale is a fundraiser for them. Lisa has a blog all about the race God has marked out for them. You will want to read up on this fantastic family when you can. But get to the sale! Oh, and don’t forget to bring your cash! Generous donations are encouraged!! Smile

I’ve even heard there will be scones there to purchase. Yummy scones. Scones so good families fight over them.

You know, you don’t even have to take anything home with you. You could just leave a big wad of cash, that would be fine.  

I’m also thinking if you want to contribute to their adoption but can’t come because, say, you live out of state but God is moving in your heart to give to them anyway, you could send a check to the address in the flier above (zip 50124) and make it out to Kurt and Lisa Leland. No one would mind. Red heart

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Final Recital (for a while)

My students’ Spring studio recital is this weekend, Saturday, April 30 at 10:00 AM at Fjeldberg Lutheran Church in Huxley.

I’m telling you this because you are invited to come. All 16 students will be playing. They are going to sound fantastic. It will be my best recital ever!! In fact, it will probably be so good, it will be very hard to have it be my last.

Last, as in, I’m not going to be teaching any more, for a while. I’m taking a break.

As I looked over what I am involved in, where my time is spent and where and how I should be spending my time, this was the next thing on the list to fall below the line. Dave Ramsey uses that term ‘below the line’ when he described how when he was getting back on his financial feet and he only had so much money to pay off debts, that some debts didn’t get paid that month because they were ‘below the line’. I’ve adapted it for my life, especially this year. Two kids in junior high, one brand new to our family and taking a lot of time meant that lots of things fell below the line. I was simply out of time and energy.

A newly employed friend asked via Facebook how does a person do it? How does one work, have a family, eat healthy, spend time with friends, etc. The answer is that you can’t. Well, you can, sort of, but, almost always, something has to give. It is always a balancing act and you must continually look at your life, the direction it is headed and question if the path you are on now is going to get you to the destination you want to be later on. Sometimes the destination changes or you just simply don’t know. For me, the destination became clearer. I needed to make changes to get to that destination. I needed to clear some space in my life.

It’s not to say that I don’t think piano or music isn’t important. It is! It always will be! (If you want me to get started, I can, but it will have to wait.) I love teaching piano. I ‘geek’ music! I’d love it if you still wanted to ask me questions regarding music and music study. I know a lot! I’ve spend 16 + years doing that and almost 30 years actually playing music. I won’t suddenly forget everything I’ve learned. I won’t mind sharing with you.

I will miss my students. Period.

But what I REALLY don’t want to miss are my kids!! I’ve only got one time with them! Audrey has 5 years left before she graduates. Ben needs me after school to decompress. Luke will need me after Kindergarten next year. I’ve not regretted the time I spent teaching, so don’t misunderstand me. I don’t wish to go back and not have taught when the kids were younger. However, junior high is altogether different. The activities are right after school versus at 5:00 or later when they are younger. I want to spend time being there and being ready for them.

Other things are up my sleeve, too. I won’t sit around suddenly and eat bon-bons and watch soap operas (though I’ll have to watch my blog-reading carefully.) Oh, no!

The Rosebud Exchange Program that our family participated in this last year by having Victoria live with us is expanding. This coming year we hope to have 20 kids be hosted!! That’s a tremendous amount and what is needed are some detail management and more support. That’s what our family is going to do. I’m so excited!

Also, I want to be available. When I was a young mom, with just little ones, I looked up to older moms for advice and encouragement. What I found was that so many stopped coming to Bible study because their kids were all in school and they could get a job. I missed them. Instead of them leading Bible studies, I was! Not that I couldn’t, but my hands were pretty full and I really could have used the wise council of them. I didn’t want that to be me. I’ve spent the last two years in a great women’s Bible study and I’m practically the oldest one there. I realized I am now the older mom! When looking at my time and energies, it came down to teaching was taking up the most time and that needed to fall below the line for now. I want to be there for those moms, for friends, for my sister when she has baby, for my family, for the other things God has in store for me to do.

I may sound all strong to you. Hah! I cry about every other day! In fact, I often have to pull Bill aside and ask him why I chose to stop teaching, what the big picture is again. I’m a little concerned that once next fall hits, I’ll kind of wander around the house, lost and wondering where I am, who I am, etc.

Funny story: A student’s younger sibling started Kindergarten one year and I asked her what her mom did all day now that the last child was in school. She told me that her mom went shopping a lot and had a big pretzel every day!! (I don’t think I’ll be doing that.)

He will lead me. I won’t be lost. 

So, if you’ve got time Saturday morning, come hear my students play. I’m immensely proud of them!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Weekend Part 2

The annual egg dying get more manageable. In part because the general age of the cousins is getting older, Chiara being the youngest at almost 3 and the rest on up. And in part because we’ve learned how to handle the crowd. A few years ago, this was not an event looked forward to in my book. Now, it’s not so bad.

I’m going to try to keep it short. There are lots of pictures to show. My mom wasn’t able to be with us because my grandma isn’t doing so well. You can send a little prayer up for my mom and grandma. But we still had a dozen eggs a piece. And the dad’s got in the action, too, which I believe they thought was boring since it went so well. Perhaps they even wondered what all the fuss was about all these years. Hmphh!


every one!


baby liked purple


chiara’s green hands from dunking


luke’s pattern: blue, green, blue, green


ariana’s eggs



So Jessica put the guys to work hiding over 100 plastic eggs. And she came up with a great system for the kids- Chiara and Ariana looked for pink and purple eggs; Luke and Athan looked for yellow and orange; Ben, Obi and Gavin looked for green and blue; and Cora, Audrey, Danny and Alex looked for camo eggs. They all looked for one golden egg which ended up being found way up in a tree and was retrieved by Alex so she could claim the $10 inside!




When we came home, we opened our last Resurrection Egg and Audrey and Luke reenacted the story of the tomb empty since Jesus rose from the dead. This year we either read the passages that go along with the eggs straight from the Bible, or the kids acted it out. It was a perfect way to involve all 3. Audrey is up for anything that she can be in charge of, but especially drama, Ben can be a good sport (sometimes) and Luke can be talked into anything. It was a good way for Luke to learn the story again. He would be all smiles and then Audrey would have to whisper something like “Your puppy died.” to help him have a sad face, which he instantly did. I tried not to laugh because they thought it all serious, but it was so cute. (Sorry, no pictures for the sake of the performance)

Happy Easter, everyone!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend, Part 1

I’m out of creative titles so this is just going to have to do.

Luke’s ball game Saturday morning was cancelled due to wet fields, so we got a “free” day at home. You know what that means (rubbing hands together)…

Time for some flower bed work. Jessica had a plant swap a couple weeks back and I hadn’t transplanted the plants yet. I needed some strong muscle to help lift the top layer of grass and weeds from the beds and help amend the soil. We bundled up and headed outside for the work. I didn’t take any pictures because I’m kind of ashamed of my flower beds and because I’m not sure they are really going to look any better once I get done tinkering with them. Oh, yeah, I was also working.

I figured out which beds I wanted overhauled and we set to work. It takes creative thinking to find work suitable for ages 5, 8, and 12, but we managed. 12 year olds are allowed to discover how hard the dirt actually is around the foundation of a house, working it up with a pitchfork. 8 year olds are allowed to stab open bags of composted manure and peat and build up a jump with the leftover weeds and sod. 5 year olds get a kick out of anything, including picking up and loading a wagon of said weeds and sod. Older men are get to flex their muscles removing said weeds and sod and lifting 40 pound bags of composted manure and peat. Older women get to boss everyone around and not make up their minds about which plants go where and decide more plants are needed, along with composted manure and peat.

We finished the two beds we started as far as clearing weeds, amending the soil and putting in what plants we had. I will have to go to the nursery to get more plants, but now the beds are ready.

Audrey made us lunch. Since our leftovers were scarce, she didn’t want to make hot dogs, and we’re kind of thin on other lunch options, she made us pb&j or variations of sandwiches. She took our orders: Ben- Nutella, Luke- honey, Me- pb&j, Bill- blech, but he went with pb&j as a good dad does. None of us like regular pb&j! I can stand it now, but it isn’t my favorite. She also made us a salad (only Ben objected- still hasn’t gotten that salad eater he requested for Christmas), and some mini-veggies. Very cute.


(cut out doggie shaped sandwich for Luke)


(I’m not exactly looking my finest here- no shower, windy day, etc.)



She was worn out, wondering aloud how I did it every day for 3 meals!!! Oh, sister! Then I asked her to clean up lunch. Smile

While Bill and I finished the flower beds, Ben got to show me how he can ride his new motorcycle, the orange one. The 2-stroke one. The 65 cc one. (Why 65 cc? If 4-stroke is 50 cc, wouldn’t 2-stroke be half or double of that? Obviously, still lost.) We have about four empty lots next to us, which work well for riding for just a little bit. Ben got his riding gear on, and hopped on. His bike is still big on him and he can barely get it started, but really once he’s going, he rides very smoothly. He even can go over that little mound of dirt that we were adding to during the day.


I don’t know much, but I can tell you two things about this new bike: it is louder than the other one and it is faster.

Luke helped Bill finish screwing down the decking that we built last year. Really, this was bonus for me. It has been on my honey-do list for A YEAR, but one must be careful in managing the honey-do list. Bill would pre-drill holes, Luke would follow behind setting in the screws and Bill would finish by screwing them in. Luke chattered the entire time.

I’ll take a free day any Saturday. Maybe next one will mean I’ll get a raised garden bed for veggies! (hint, hint)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Parents vs Kids

Oh yeah! You read that right! Kids goin’ down! Talkin’ smack on the blog!

Hi! We just had a little friendly competition last night at Audrey’s youth group, called 180. The parents vs. the kids. It is a gross and great time! We are dealing with junior high kids and the weirder the food to stuff in your mouth, the better. Problem is, parents are challenged to do it also- billions of points are at stake!

It started off with a game of peanut butter sandwich, in which someone wear’s a t-shirt coated with peanut butter and another person tosses slices of bread to make them stick to the shirt. Of course, the most pieces of bread sticking wins. Thanks to my excellent parent partner, Julie, yours truly was able to stick 14!! slices to the shirt. Kids- 10. 1 billion points to the parents!!!!!

Other games included 80’s vs. current pop culture trivia, egg toss, gunny sack races, dodge ball (the Shepley’s? Who knew such a mild, homeschoolin’, peace-lovin’ family could kick 7th grade tush in dodgeball!!), and a relay race. The mother of all relay races!! Eating weird stuff, spelling, basketball, egg races, laying in the wet grass to spell words, wheelbarrow race, 3-legged race, etc. But it all comes down to the dizzy bat race. Seriously. Parents were far ahead of the kids to pull the relay off with no problem. Victory was ours. Nothing stood in our way… except for our age.

Spin around 10 times with your head bent over, stuck to a baseball bat, then run, circle around something and come back. I stayed far, far away from this one (last year, I took out a poor little girl- I just fell on her, smashed her to smithereens!). But when I get to the gym, who’s in line? Bill!!! I couldn’t watch. I held my friend’s hand. I prayed a prayer.

This race for kids is not a problem. Their inner ear adjusts very quickly to the spinning and they just fly through this game. Parents. Well, let’s just say, inner ear balance is not one of our strengths anymore. Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down? Well, they never did the dizzy bat race!

It comes down to literally the last two people. Screaming, clapping, cheering, crowding……


Parents win!!!! 5 billion points!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kids 1 billion Parents 10 billion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

not excited or nothin’Smile

I’ve got a picture here for ya of my sweet girl, Audrey, and her friend, Destany. They plotted, schemed and texted all afternoon long, planning their outfits. Aren’t they great. (I’d say cute, but that’s not cool.)

P vs K A & D 

Now the competition is tied Parents 2 wins, Kids 2 wins! Next year. Bring it!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Race

This has been edited because I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

While I was gone to Florida, Bill took the kids to another race in Illinois, Prophetstown, IL. It was about 6 3 hours away they drove part way there the night before, hung out at a hotel, swam, stayed up late, and partied before getting up early and heading to the race.

The next day proved to be cold again. Well, it was March.


Ben’s race is always first (until he moves up to the next class). There were 9 racers and Ben placed 4th overall. I guess they cut the time short, only letting them race for 20 minutes instead of 30, so Ben may have had a chance to catch another one. The hardest part is passing, which is also a hard thing to practice.


Around a Tree

I don’t have a picture of his trophy, but the 4th place one is bigger than his 1st place one!! How/where are we going to display all these trophies?

I’ve got pictures of Bill’s race, too, thanks to Audrey!

Starting Line

Up Hill

Bill said his course was really great and he was excited to ride on it. Unfortunately, after one lap, his bike broke and he had to push it a mile to a farmer’s house, so he didn’t finish. The good news was that he was going to get to see his buddy, Joe, so Joe could help him work on the bike. It’s currently in my garage, torn apart, with parts scattered everywhere!

There’s time before the next race to get it together. Also Ben has been practicing weaving around cones, throttle and brake control, etc. Bill watches riding videos in bed (so I end up watching them, too), then goes out and has Ben practice them. Both love it!

Fun stories

  • Ben got a letter from his cousin, Jabin, saying he was thankful Ben got another motorcycle so the two of them could race! This, of course, delighted Ben, but made Jabin’s momma’s heart thump a little louder.
  • Luke said he was glad Ben got a 4 2 stroke so he could ride the 2 4 stroke! (Do you hear the language my babies are saying?! They completely understand each other, whereas, I have to ask if the 2 4 stroke means the blue bike and the 4 2 stroke means the orange bike. All to which Ben then comments, yes the 50cc. What?! What’s a 50 cc? I thought we were talking strokes!)

Clearly, I have no idea what I’m writing about. I’m sorry for any errors in communicating to you what happened. If this were about chords and scales and time signatures and such, there wouldn’t be these mistakes. However, I’m in foreign territory and my garage is filled with fumes and littered with bike parts. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Blog to Put Life in Perspective

Back when our family was in the throes of learning how to live with Victoria, my friend, Janel, gave me a little gift. Part of her gift was a few excerpts of a blog by an amazing woman named Katie.

Today, I want you to head over to Katie’s blog, The Journey, and read up on her. She is inspiring but mostly, she is doing as God leads her to do. She is walking that hard, narrow path, not looking to the left or right and sometimes that leads her to hard, hard things. But in all, she gives glory to God.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Can See a Sigh

I landed in Des Moines, late Thursday afternoon and called Bill to let him know I was finally on the ground, in Iowa! I retrieved my bag and headed to the main waiting area. As I turned the corner, I spied the kids, they spied me and broke out into a full run. Ben reached me first and hugged me tight. Audrey was next with a smothering hug and kisses. Luke hugged Ben, which was really meant for me, but I’ve only got so much hug room. And finally, Bill, remaining dignified and not running but I know he was rejoicing on the inside, leaned over and kissed me. My family running towards me was the best picture my mind has taken in a while. It wasn’t a “Hey, Mom.” kind of hug. It was a we missed you, needed you, now we are whole again kind of hug.

I wasn’t quite ready to go home and assess the kitchen, let alone tackle a meal, so I asked Bill to take us out. Funny thing, though. I could see we were hungry and tired but what they all really were was hungry and tired and needing me to make it right. I could actually see them all decompressing, sighs of relief! Our appetites weren’t like they usually are. They just really wanted to get me home and get me re-established as Mom. I could see it. They also really wanted a good home cooked meal. Dad is great but he’s not a cook, especially when he has to work and run kids around. They also really wanted some clean laundry! Bill got a few loads in, but not all of it. It wasn’t until this past Sunday that I considered this fully. I usually do laundry on Mondays and Tuesdays and I failed to mention this to Bill as I was gone. I promptly took care of that situation!

All this is to say, I know now that I am needed in our family. That might be a silly thing to say. Of course moms are needed! And families make it work with all kinds of arrangements. And sure there was appreciation from Bill for what I do, but there wasn’t any fanfare, no hoisting onto shoulders. More than anything, I could see I was wanted, needed and loved straight from the heart. I’ll take that any day!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Last Day in Daytona

Good news: The sun was shining on Wednesday.

Bad news: We were leaving and 4 of us wouldn’t get any beach time.

Good news: The 4 of us who wouldn’t get any beach time would get some sun anyway…



We drove past in late Saturday night and I was hoping to get to visit it while I was there. So, I kind of nicely, politely, pretty please, if that’s okay with every one else, we don’t have to but I’d really like to, asked to stop on our way to the airport. They said yes!!

Okay, I confess. I like NASCAR. I bet you didn’t know that about me. I’ve never been to a race and in fact, I haven’t even seen a race on t.v. yet this year. But I’d like to go to a race someday and even take a few laps with a driver.

We could go up into the stands at turn 4 and finally got a clue how to get to the top. From up there we could see all the way around! That is a serious amount of stands!!

DSC_0067More Stands

Pit row, the infield and lake…

InfieldPit Row

It is hard to tell the banking degree, even when you are there.

Turn 4

The beneath the stands.

MapUnder the Stands

Girls getting some sun. Notice the jeans and long sleeves. It is difficult to dress both to Florida and Minnesota/Iowa weather.

Sunny Stands

Thanks, Jacqui, for inviting me to celebrate your birthday and to Jennifer, your mom, who knocked it out of the park as far as birthday gifts go!

Jacqui in the stands

And then I checked in at the Orlando airport, got a delayed plane and ended up in Houston overnight. You read about it here.