This is what happens when .....

Lance's small group (he is a teen leader at church) has their party at our house.

A teen gets stuck in the kids' Little Tikes climber After taking the climber apart he was still stuck, so Lance had to use a saw to cut him out

Lance cutting him out

This shows where they had to cut on the climber to get the teen out

It sure made for an interesting evening~! Lance thinks he can glue the climber and it will be still be safe for the kids to use - that is his next project! Before the teens left, Landon was in the garage shooting baskets and the boy who got stuck in the climber was going outside with him and Landon said, you better watch out so you don't get stuck in the basketball hoop. Too funny!



FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY - Morgan landed her back handspring. About a month ago, Morgan came home from gymnastics and told us she nailed her back handspring. She proceeded to do a round off into a back handspring in our front yard. Then a few days later she just couldn't do it. Lance and I could not figure it out. At dinner last week, she finally told us why she was afraid. She had gone out to the front yard to practice her back handspring and fell on her head and never told anyone. Today she was able to conquer her fear- YEAH! When she got home from gymnastics, she moved the furniture in the bonus room and showed Lance her round off back handspring. It was so exciting! I think she was just as excited to surprise us as to have landed her back handspring. In the clip, she was on her tenth or eleventh back handspring, she was starting to get a bit tired! Just wanted to share~!

Unwrapping the Gift

My three little gifts!

Imagine getting a gift - neatly wrapped and tied up with a pretty bow. There is anticipation, excitement and curiosity about this gift. Something in such a pretty package has got to be good! Today I had an "aha" moment. I felt like God was telling me this is how I should view each day. Each day is a gift and I should approach each day with anticipation, excitement and even curiosity about what the day will hold. I know that I have days (more than I should) where I feel like if I can get through this day then tomorrow will be better - the to do list will be smaller, etc.. The to do list never gets smaller, it seems to just continually grow. I know part of it is this stage of life with home schooling and little kids at home. I feel like I need to be focusing more on my kids and less on the to do's. All those things will be there later but my kids are growing up so fast I can hardly believe it. I think I need to work on finding the balance between being a good mommy to my kiddos, being a good homemaker, being a good home school mom, etc... They each are important. For a time, I have been more focused on doing the laundry, housework, errands, bill paying, etc... that I am missing out on precious moments with my kids. I am here with them but am I really here with them? Am I truly focusing on who they are? I think my "aha" moment was a bit of a wake up call. The dust can pile up, the toilets might not be cleaned as often as they should (so much easier said than done) but my kids will feel loved, valued and appreciated. I want to look back on my time at home with my kids and be able to know I gave them all of the time and attention they deserved. I want to be able to have fun memories to treasure in my heart of my time with my kids. I want to approach each day as a precious gift and unwrap it with anticipation and excitement!



Mauryn's maiden voyage in the backpack - helping daddy to mow the lawn. She loved it!

I have chosen the word Embrace to be "my word" for 2008. There is a give away on another post that mentions choosing a word for the year - a word to reflect on throughout the year. I took some time to pick a word for this coming year. I started out with words such as priorities, focus, and selflessness. All my thoughts revloved around the same ideas: family, friends, time, and being healthy in mind and in body. As I was thinking about all those things, the word embrace came to me. It sounded so much softer and gentler than some of the other words. When it came to me, I thought yes this is exactly the word I want for 2008. What do I want to embrace for next year? I want to embrace relationships with my husband, children, friends, family, and most importantly God. I want to embrace this stage of life I am in right now. I am a stay at home mom who also home schools her children. Life is full and busy and I want to cherish this time and not look too far in the future because before I know it, this will be over and my kids will be grown. I want to embrace the stage each of my children are at right now. I want to enjoy each of their ages and stages and treasure this time up in my heart and mind. I want to embrace the deicisons I make and be happy with them and not look back with regrets or what ifs. I want to embrace who I am as a person. I want to embrace my "new body" at age 34 and three kids later. I want to live a healthy lifestyle and be a good role model to my kids but not be so focused on "dieting" and losing weight but eating right and exercising. I am ready to embrace all that 2008 has to offer!


School Update

We are finishing our unit on Explorers. We have probably a week left and then we will be done. Morgan has enjoyed this unit and learned so much. It has been pretty intense and fast paced so we are looking forward to our next unit on weather which should be a little more low key. Our focus last week was on the Spanish Conquistadors. We spent most of the week learning about the Aztec Indians and Hernando Cortez. It was so interesting! I really had to weed out some of the "gory" details about how they sacrificed their own people (who thought it was an honor) as well as their prisoners, but I also wanted her to have a picture of this culture. I think we found a good balance where she is aware of what an advanced culture the Aztecs were as well as being very pagan and having no respect for human life. I know if she would have wanted/needed to know more she would have asked questions and then I would have answered them appropriately.

Morgan making her Aztec eagle hat and then modeling her finished project!

Morgan's Aztec Codex - a book where they wrote down things about their culture. There was one more picture but it somehow got deleted.

This is the beginning of Morgan's Lapbook on Explorers. This is our first attempt at doing a lap book but I wanted something that would be a good review of what we learned. I have heard quite a bit about lapbooks and thought we would try it. So far it is going pretty well and Morgan enjoys the project. I did talk to a mom who does notebooking. It is the same concept but she puts the projects on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and then puts them in the page protectors and keeps everything in a three ring binder. With an intense unit like Explorers and with so much information I think that would have been a better option. Since we started the lapbook we will finish it. I will post more photos when it is done. I love the concept of having some type of end of the unit book to show what we have learned. I want something easy to store and kid friendly assembly and use.


Fall is Here

The weather is turning cooler, the leaves are starting to turn color, the days are shorter - fall has finally arrived!! We have had such a hot hot summer, it is so nice to have these cooler days.

I just noticed this tree outside our house last night. The leaves are starting to turn. It may have been like this for a few days but I don't always stop to notice the little details of nature. I need to do that more often, I love the trees in the fall. We live by the mountains and I don't even notice them - sad isn't it. Lance notices them every day but he loves the moutains. I am more of a beach girl and not so big on the mountains. It's not that I do not think they are a beautiful and wonderful creation by God, just not my thing. Anyway (sorry for the little rabbit trail), we woke up Saturday to a very cloudy day. It looked like it had rained some earlier in the morning. I was so thankful for a rainy day. I had been wanting to organize closets and clean out summer clothes but just hadn't had the opportunity. I knew if the sun was shining we would be spending time outside with neighbors and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. I was able to get my closet and all three kids' closets cleaned out and organized. I could take stock and see what items were needed for the fall/winter season. I feel better having a focus now if we get out to do some shopping, at least I know what each child needs to be ready for this next season. (As I was cleaning out, Morgan tells me to look out the window. There was the most beautiful double rainbow. It was so awesome! We all just looked at it for a long time - but I didn't think to take a picture of it.) The weather has definitely cooled off and it feels so much like fall. I love this season - except for the shorter days. I love the sweatshirt weather. The perfect days for visits to the park, long walks, and sipping cider and cocoa. I am looking forward to the visits to the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch. For some reason fall seems so refreshing to me - the cooler weather, back to having schedules/routines, all the church and community activities start up- I am so excited fall has finally come!


It Has Been One Of Those Days ...

Today has been one of those days - a day filled with a busy schedule and some roadblocks that could detour us from our schedule. Even though our day didn't go as smoothly as planned, we were able to accomplish the important things for today. On a day like today, when the focus could be on the negative it is freeing to focus on the positive and be so thankful for all the things that did go right. I wasn't in control of the situations today and for today I took that in stride. I wasn't frazzled, feeling panicked or "stressed out" which easily could have happened. We could see God clearing the path for us even though the roadblocks had been placed in our path. Here are a few examples:

  • my neighbor had a later start to work today so he was home to help me get my car stared when the battery was dead
  • the car dealership had a battery in stock and we were in and out of their in one hour and made it to the field trip (that I had organized) on time
  • a friend stepped in to take Landon to a birthday party (Lance came home sick from work) which was at the same time as I needed to get Morgan from gymnastics

I like to have my plan, my schedule and stick to it and these little things today could have made my day seem horrible. It was not by my doing that I remained positive - God gave me peace, the sense of calm tokeep me focused and work through the situations instead of getting worked up about them. I know the things that happened today are little and insignificant but it definitely is a lesson to be learned and remember for when something big happens.


The Jammies Get A New Look

At bedtime a few nights ago, Lance and I mentioned to Landon that we should cut his jammies (Morgan's old pajama bottoms that he uses for a blanket) in half. Landon is now 3 1/2 and at age 4 the jammies are going to be taken away. We talked to him about how we could keep cutting his jammies down until he had just a hanky left like Owen (from the Kevin Henkes book Owen). He thought about it but wasn't too sure. The next evening at bedtime we asked if he was ready to cut his jammies, and he was sure he didn't want them to be cut in half. He was crying and so sad. Okay, not a big deal keep the jammies the way they are and we will try it another time. This morning he gets up and says, mom I am ready to cut my jammies. Tonight was the big cutting ceremony. He was very excited about it. The funny thing is, I was totally sad and about to cry when the time came to cut the jammies. A phase of life is moving towards an end, my baby boy is growing up. I am not ready for him to get bigger. I want him to stay little a while longer. He is moving towards being a big kid- the time just goes by far too quickly!
The jammies!

I can cut them myself with my new scissors!

Umm, Dad I think I need some help here! (My boys went to the babershop today and came home with new haircuts - aren't they handsome!)

My new jammies - half the old!

I can still snuggle with them and suck my thumb!


Life Savers For This Homeschool Mom

A little over a year ago, we decided to embark on an adventure called Homeschooling. Morgan went to a private Christian school for Kindergarten. We enjoyed her teacher and classmates, but tuition was going up and really I wasn't feeling like it was the place for her. I was feeling very led to homeschool. I never ever thought it was something I would do, even though I am a teacher by trade. I remember living out here for about 2 months and someone at church asked if Morgan was homeschooled. I laughed out loud and said "Oh, I would NEVER homeschool." Both the ladies looked at me and said "We homeschool!" OOPS! Thankfully they were forgiving and we can just laugh about it now. As time went on that year, I was confronted with different situations where homeschooling was the focus of conversations. In June of 2006, I attended the local Christian Homeschool convention. I remember sitting in tears as the keynote spoke. I don't even remember exactly what he was saying but it touched my heart and I knew I needed to homeschool my children. I knew it wouldn't be easy and that there would be challenges for our family as the year went on. I was pregnant with Mauryn and adding a new baby to the mix would be something we would have to work around with our school day. Last year was a journey in getting to know my kids on a different level, trying to manage and balance life as a wife, mother, teacher, homemaker, and all the other many hats I can find myself wearing. I started the year thinking we would have a general idea of how our day went and go from there. I would have a list of what I wanted to accomplish each day. I was very resistent to having a set schedule. Once I finally gave in to a set schedule our lives changed dramatically. I was held accountable for my time and our day didn't slip by us without getting much done. I love homeschooling. It is such a blessing to be educating and raising my children. I have listed some of the things that have helped me to stay focused and be more organized with my time and energy during the day. Here are few things that make a HUGE difference that I do not have photos of: start dinner at breakfast time (I try to plan my meals ahead) I always say if I don't know what is for dinner by 9 am I am probably not making dinner (not for real but the afternoon will be stressful), I get up at 5 am to exercise, then I shower, get myself ready and get the kids up. Sometimes I get them up so they can get dressed etc while I shower, it depends on when Mauryn gets up. It will change a little bit when I am done with her morning nursing time.

My lesson plan book~It is a three ring binder where I keep my lesson plans for Morgan and Landon. I also keep notes or things from the internet I have printed off for our units. There is a section for the past and future plans for our online co op. Right now we are making our first lap book so I have all my notes in my binder for that as well. This is just an easy place for me to keep track of all those items.

This is our schedule. There is a page for morning, afternoon, and evening. It is based off of Steve and Teri Maxwell's book Managers of Their Homes. The general ideas in the book are great starting point for making schedules. The original schedule is large but I used it last year and our schedule changed and this works just as well as a reference for me.

Here are my planners. I have a large desk calendar so Lance and the kids can see what is going on each week or for the month. I have a small planner that I carry with me and can add things as needed. I am a long range planner for sure. These calendars definitely help me keep our life in order.

I have set up "office hours" I do not answer the phone during school time. I love having voice mail so whomever calls can leave a message. This year I also have posted a note on the door. It can seem a little extreme but just taking the time to answer the door for a neighbor, UPS delivery, salesperson, whomever disruptes the day. I posted the sign after I had a salesperson tell me they only needed 5 minutes of my time and they talked for over 30 minutes as I kept trying to politely get back to teaching. Now I have the sign! I find that by reducing these disruptions we gain so much time in our day.

Our new chore chart! It is working well so far. Landon was "balking" at the idea of daily chores but now he is so eager to get them done. The chore system idea came from Steve and Teri Maxwell's book Managers of Their Chores. I liked the book but they had the children wear their chore cards clipped to them all day. I had the kids carry them instead and they lost them so we moved on to the wall chart in the kitchen. It is in a central location and easy for the kids to visually see and move their cards. I did use the pre reader chore cards off the Maxwell's website to make Landon's cards and they work great. I schedule time in their day for chores to be done so it is just a natural part of our day.

What are some of your "life savers" for keeping your home, your kids, or yourself organized?

Mr. Fix It

Landon's bike helmet broke the other day. He was a bit upset. He loves the helmet because it has firefighters on it. Landon found a roll of tape and started working on putting his bike helmet back together. I must admit he did a pretty good job. When that guy gets an idea in his head he sticks with it. He was very sure he could tape it all back together. So far, so good!

Landon's tape job on his bike helmet!
Landon proudly sporting his fixed helmet!


The Competition - Week 1

The other morning as I was walking out of my bedroom, Landon says to me "Mommy, why is your tummy getting bigger and not smaller?" Okay, we will let that one pass but he has brought it up three different times! He has even applied some of his new knowledge of opposites to my stomach - mom your belly is bigger not smaller those are opposites. Oh good job you know your opposites son! UGH! I guess it is good Lance and I are doing this competition but going into our "biggest loser" race I was more focused on my hips, thighs, and bottom, now I guess I have to think about my stomach. YIKES! Then today in church our pastor was talking about heaven and how we will all have new bodies in heaven. Was this a sign? Should I not be so focused on my appearance because some day when I am in heaven I will have a new body, it will be wonderful and I won't care. I consistenly exercise, we eat healthy and maybe I need to just be content with where I am at right now, but it seems so hard. I am going to keep working harder at eating a bit less, especially now that I am almost done nursing. I don't really need those extra calories. Body image is an area where I really need to be setting a good example for my daughters - I know Morgan is watching and learning. It is about being healthy, eating the right foods, and getting proper exercise and learning to be content in the body God has given me. It is something that I really need to keep in the front of my mind all the time.

The competition isn't heating up yet because I know my competitor isn't sticking to his "diet" yet. I had to laugh last night when the kids were having zbops from the Schwan's man. This was the first time we have tried them. Landon loved it and was happily eating, Morgan didn't like them so Lance at hers. Landon couldn't eat it all so I told him we would cover them and put them in the freezer. Lance thought they would taste bad so he just finished Landon's off too while commenting on his "diet". Today our neighbor sent over some brownies. We sent them back since we are watching what we eat and they came back because they are "healthy" brownies made with whole wheat flour, splenda, and zucchini. Too funny! We have them and thankfully I am not a huge chocolate fan so they are not even a temptation for me, but I don't know if Lance can stay away from them. I think my neighbors are on my side and trying to help me win!


Naptime with Landon

I had big plans for nap time today! I was going to listen to the new Caedmon's call CD I won on Denise's giveaway, work on lesson plans for school, start dinner, do some cleaning, and even read for a little bit. Morgan left for gymnastics and I herded the two little ones up for nap. I asked Landon to go potty before we read stories and he said, if I go potty then can I sleep in my underwear. I said sure. He is not digging wearing pull ups but he needs them at night most of the time so for nap I let him sleep in his underwear (as he calls them his boxing underwear) and have for quite some time but every day he asks the same thing. He goes to the bathroom and comes back into his room. He proceeds to take off his cowboy boots put them in a corner, take off his socks and put them in his boots, the cowboy hat went on top of the boots, the belt next to the hat and boots, his jeans off and folded in another corner, shirt off and folded on top of the jeans and FINALLY he was ready for his nap -in his underwear - literally in his underwear. We read his stories and he loved on Mauryn before I put her down for her nap. As I went to my room to read for a short period of time, the phone rings at least 3 different times so I give up plans for reading and get ready to move on to the other tasks at hand. I can hear some banging around in Landon 's room. I open the door and he is on Morgan's bed. (Morgan and Landon are sharing a room until Mauryn is a bit older. They have bunk beds and Morgan has the top bunk) There is no ladder for the top bunk and no easy way for him (being he is so little) to climb up there. I ask him how he got up there - well he just jumped until he could get the bed rail and then pulled himself up until he could get over the top. Well he is off her bed now and in his own bed, I think his nap is not going to happen but at least he will stay in his room for a while and look at books or play quietly. Only on the days he is truly in dire need of a nap does he seem to find ways to keep himself awake instead of sleeping. I guess it will be off to bed early tonight for Landon. I have posted some photos below of how I have found Landon at nap time.

This is how I found Landon last night after putting him to bed. He wanted to listen to some music so he had on headphones with a CD player. I found him still asleep with the headphones on - it was so sweet. Oh do you love what he snuggles up with! Yes, they are Morgan's old pajama bottoms that are velour and have pink giraffes on them. Landon used to chase Morgan around the house when she would wear them but he wasn't particularly attached to them until we moved from MN to ID and now he sleeps with them every nap and every night.

This day at nap time Landon decided to wear his jammies for nap!

I found Landon wearing Morgan's tights one day when he was supposed to be napping. He was "reading" a book and singing a song and having a grand old time with those tights on~!


These are a few of my favorite things....

(besides by husband and kiddos - of course they top the list)

* a long nap on a rainy day or any day for that matter
* a fountain soda - Cherry Pepsi :)
* going to the movies
* reading a book
* sleeping with the windows open and curling up under my covers
* TiVo
* chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven
* reading a good book
* the peace and quiet of the early mornings
* a sandy beach - i would love to have some time in the sun and the sand - AHH!
* cuddle time with the kids
* Mabe's pizza (pizza joint in the town I went to college - my favorite pizza of all time)
* popcorn, especially at the movie theater
* getting real mail not bills or junk mail - I especially look forward to the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas when all the letters and cards arrive

What are some of your favorite things??


Mastering the Stairs

Today I hear Morgan calling, "Mom, Mauryn is going up the stairs." Up until today she has really just ignored the fact that we even had stairs. Now they are a great source of entertainment. Now we need to get another baby gate for the bottom of these stairs. It was fun to see Mauryn working so hard to get up those stairs. Morgan and Landon were by her side cheering her on, encouraging her to climb highger. Each day she is learning something new and just growing up way too fast!Here I go!

I am working hard to get to the top!

I started a new chore system for the kids today. We will see how it goes. Last year I purchased a book called Managers of Their Chores. It had some great ideas and concepts in it but their system just didn't work for our kids. They were to wear their chore cards clipped to their clothes and turn in the clips when finished. Today I made them new cards and a chart that we will keep in the kitchen. I am not crafty so for all you crafty/creative people out there - this is not crafty or creative. I just pulled what I had in our craft bin and put it together today. I am SO ready to have some type of system for the kids to keep track of their chores getting done. I will keep you posted on how this all works out. Tomorrow will be our trial run!
On a side note, today was the official first day of the biggest loser contest. Lance and I had the "official" weigh in this morning. The final day will be on Thanksgiving morning. I think instead of a weight loss number we are going to go by the largest percentage of weight lost. This should be interesting! I was proud of Lance today he packed a lunch instead of eating out. It was a good day one for him!


Another Milestone

This is how we have found Mauryn the last two mornings - standing up in her crib! I can't believe it! Look how happy and excited she is to be up on her own! Happy 10 month birthday baby! I love seeing your personality starting to show. You make the best funny faces! You are the girl of many expressions. You have just started getting attached to your blanket and a baby doll. You are so sweet when you love on the doll. I love that when I pick you up in the mornings or after naps and I love on you that you pat my back- so sweet! You are growing up much too fast but I am going to treasure all these little moments with you . We love you baby girl!

Look at that face! She thinks she is so funny!

You can view Mauryn's 9 month photos (a little late) at www.wilsoncreekphoto.com/proofs/Cheney/924/ It wasn't her best photo shoot but they definitely show the many faces of Mauryn Cheney. I remember those nine month photos with Morgan and Landon were difficult as well since they had started having some stranger anxiety. They are fun - enjoy!


The Biggest Loser

Lance announced to me this morning that he would like to lose 10 pounds. I commented that I wouldn't mind losing 10 -15 lbs myself and hopefully get back to pre Mauryn weight. So my loving husband turns to me and says "should we make it a competition?" I said "sure" Now we are having our own "biggest loser" competition in our house. Lance hasn't committed to a start date - either tomorrow or Monday but we did decide our end date would be Thanksgiving. Lance has picked out his "reward" if he is the winner and I am still thinking. I haven't come up with anything yet. Those of you who know Lance well know he is very competitive. I also have a bit of a competitive streak in me as well. This should be interesting. I think we both need the competition to help us get motivated. Now that the weather is cooling off during the day/evening we can do some family walks and bike rides. The competition is on.....

This weekend is our Ladies Retreat at church. The ladies from church are up in the mountains (smoke filled from all the fires) for the weekend doing a Beth Moore study on Loving Well. I decided not to go since I am still nursing Mauryn and I didn't want to deal with pumping (I don't really like leaving my kiddos for over night) and so I could be here to run the nursery at church. I had already decided not to go when I found out my friend Janna wasn't going either. We decided to have a girls afternoon today. It was wonderful! Our husbands (and another friend whose wife was gone) hung out with the kids and watched the BSU game. Janna and I enjoyed lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory - it was so yummy! Then we spent some time looking in downtown Boise at some of the fun little shops. It was the perfect day to just be outside walking around - temp in the mid 70's, sunny with a slight breeze. Today was a day that definitely rejuvenated me. The last few weeks have been so busy with getting school started and back into our routine. It was nice to do something that was just totally for me.



We have our first two weeks of school done already. The last two weeks have been crazy busy. It is so nice to have a routine again. I think we are all enjoying that part of school. We have been studying the Explorers, Navigation, and the Constellations in our on line co op. Morgan has learned so much (and me too!). We have studied Leif Erickson (Yeah for the Norseman), Marco Polo, Prince Henry the Navigator, Bartholomew Diaz, and Christopher Columbus. WHEW! We have been mapping out where the explorers started their trips and what places they have discovered. We (yes, we, I am learning as much as Morgan) are learning a great deal about geography as well. Morgan is keeping track of what she has learned about each explorer on a notecard and once we have finished this unit we are going to try and put it together in a lapbook. It will be a great way to keep all the information she has learned in something easy to store. I will keep you posted on this project and if I can figure out how I want to do it I will post photos of our work in progress and the final project. Some of the highlights of our explorer unit so far have been: making the Viking shield, making a spice chart and researching where spices came from, making a meat tray sailboat, eating a sailors lunch (Landon liked it, but Morgan wasn't too sure), and staying on watch like the sailors. Being part of the online co op is great. There are tons of moms out there doing the same activities I am and we can share websites or books found over the internet. We definitely all learn from each other and get ideas for the projects etc.. It is very fast paced and there are many activities and projects. I love how hands on the learning is for the kids. They will definitely remember many of these things for a long time. Right now it is about being flexible and picking what activities work for our family and our schedule. It is just so hard to pick. So far we have been able to fit most everything into our daily work. We are having so much fun with school and I am amazed at how much I am learning right along with Morgan.
My little explorers on watch - looking for land! The swingset fort made a perfect ship.

Landon is very excited about the explorer lunch. Morgan is hoping she can have some "real" food after she tastes what is on her plate.

Here is the explorer lunch: cheese, beef jerkey, rice, almonds, raisins, a day old biscuit, and water with lemon juice. Tasty!

Lance came home for lunch the other day and we roped him into helping us learn about vectors and making meat tray sailboats.

Morgan drawing a picture of a caravel - a type of sailboat invented by Prince Henry the Navigator.
Morgan is making her spice chart and her helper is right there smelling all the spices.


Misc House Stuff

This year we decided to try having a salsa garden. We had "garden envy" last year with our neighbors garden. In May, Lance dug out a spot next to the house, bought some great pavers and fencing material (to keep the dogs out) to make a garden. He brought 5 or 6 loads of compost from one of his clients dairy farms. The ground here is just clay so we definitely needed help. The garden has grown beyond our expectations. We have so many tomatoes. We (actually Lance and our neighbor Pat) have made 3 or4 big rounds of salsa. They are enoying experimenting with the recipes. It has been AWESOME! I am definitely not a salsa fan but it isn't chunky and they make some not so hot for the kids (and me too!). Lance had even pulled out our pepper plant thinking we wouldn't get any more peppers and as he pulled it out he noticed peppers. He then put it back in the ground and the peppers have flourished. We will probably do another round of salsa but we are going to use the rest of the tomatoes for spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, etc... Below is a photo of our little garden. After our trip to MN and seeing the cousins big garden, the kids have high hopes for next year. They want to plant beans, potatoes, pumpkins, etc..
For over a year now, Lance has wanted to do a Western theme in our living room. We purchased a picture of Lance's great grandfather, Kid Amby Cheney on a round up that would be the centerpiece of the Western theme. Little by little we have been thinking and planning but nothing was taking shape. In July we took a quick weekend trip to Montana. While at Lance's grandmother's ranch, we collected some items for our living room. While I was in MN, Lance took another quick trip to MT and collected a few more items. Below are some photos of what it looks like now. We still have some tweaking to do but Lance put everything up and organized while I was gone.
We need some opinions on this space. Lance would like to put a clock above the entertainment center. I would like to move the bar (not sure what it is called but it is above the two neck harnesses) above the entertainment center. I think a clock will make it too cluttered and I do not like clutter. Any thoughts??

Here is a wall shelf that Lance built out of barnwood displaying some of the treasures he collected in MT. He did an awesome job on the shelf. He was able to find brackets at Home Depot that fit perfectly with the color of the room and other items. The stars we found in Sun Valley at an antique store and the driftwood Landon collected at a reservior in Emmett. Otherwise all the other items are from the ranch.
Here is the print of Kid Amby. The frame is made from barn wood from the ranch. Landon cowboy boots and some other items from the ranch. The candle holders and candles were sent to us from my sister.

We have one glaring problem around our house right now and that is the puppy, Cait. She is very cute but she has caused lots of issues around the house. We moved her to the garage in March which has been a HUGE blessing. She no longer causes problems in the house. I thought it would be an issue because Teagen (our 9 year old golden retreiver) lives in the house but she doesn't mind living in her kennel.
The problem with Cait (and other female dogs) is the her urine has been causing burn spots in our grass. As Lance says we have a "cancer yard". Our backyard looks horrible. It is just killing Lance. He takes such pride in his yard and works really hard to have a nice looking yard. Our front yard looks great but it is the back yard which is on a path and since we have a rod iron fence everyone can see into our yard. Someone told us to give the dogs Vitamin C and it would help the acidity in their urine so it wouldn't cause burn spots. We will see if it helps. Lance bought some stuff to fix the grass but since we have had no rain and not much snow they cut off our irrigation water early this year. Now we can only water once a week. Hopefully we will get lots of snow this winter and by next spring we can fix the yard. Cait the wonder pup -NOT!

The burn spots


Shopping for jeans

Tonight, the girls and I braved the wind/rain storm to shop at Old Navy. The weather is supposed to cool off this week so it put me in the mood for some fall clothes. I am in dire need of a pair of jeans. Old Navy had their jeans on sale (YEAH!) so I was glad we had decided to brave the rain to go shopping. After trying on some jeans, I wasn't so happy with the decision to go shopping instead I was FRUSTRATED!!! UGH! I used to be able to walk into the Gap and grad jeans off the shelf - button fly, boot cut, loose fit. Now they make jeans for people without a butt and hips. After three kiddos, I now have a larger bottom and wider hips. Funny thing this only happened now with number 3, not sure why that is. I know I still have some weight to lose and now I am totally motivated to do it so I can get some jeans that fit. I usually do better with staying motivated if I have a goal but I don't have anything in the future so I figured if I write about it in my blog then I am accountable, right now I think I need accountability to get me back on track!

I can jump with one arm

Yesterday, Landon went with me to get Mauryn up from her nap. He was very proud of himself because he can now jump on one foot. He was hopping around her room just wearing himself out. We came downstairs and were playing with Mauryn and Landon looks at me very seriously and says "Mom, do you want to see me jump with one arm?" I said "Sure" Landon proceeds to put his arm in his shirt and then hop around - you know hopping with one arm. I had to contain myself from just busting out in laughter. He had been really thinking about this whole thing. Here is a photo of Landon showing me how he jumps with one arm.
Mauryn is really starting to show her personality. I had to include this photo of her below. She likes to make funny faces and funny noises. Here she is doing one of her "faces".


Trip to MN

Morgan, Landon, Mauryn and I flew to MN in July. I was a bit anxious about flying by myself with three children. What concerned me the most was getting through security when you have to fold down the stroller, take off everyone's shoes, get all the gear on the scanner, etc... it wasn't even getting all that done because it isn't a huge deal what is a big deal is all the other people in line who have looks of disgust on their faces when they see they are behind you in the line and you have all this stuff with you. Thankfully, we got through security without a hitch. The kids were all great and Morgan was a HUGE help! Our flight to MN went extremely well. Mauryn slept for about half of it - a little at the beginning and a little at the end. Of course Landon had to check out the bathroom so we got to get up and move around a bit.

While in MN, we were able to spend lots of quality time with our family. I hadn't been back to MN for 13 months. It was a LONG stretch. My parents came out in November when Mauryn was born but other than that we were on a family drought! It was the first time since we had moved here two years ago that I was feeling lonely for MN. I was so ready to get back for a visit. It was so relaxing. I have nieces and a nephew who adore kids and my kids adore them. They were all the entertainment my kids needed! It was so heartwarming to see those "older" kids with my kids. They just loved being with them. They are teenagers (and almost teenagers) and they gave up time with their friends to be with my little kids. They changed dirty diapers, gave baths, read stories, etc... It was great! My oldest niece is 17 years old. I was 17 years old when she was born. When they would come to MN to visit I would give them baths, change diapers, play with them - it is like it has all come full circle. Anyway, so fun to see the kids get some bonding time with the cousins. Since I only have 1 first cousin, this cousin relationship is so fun to watch!

Some of the highlights of the trip were: going to Walnut Grove, MN with my sister Karna and my niece Clea - we visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, visited the dugout, played in Plum Creek and went to the Pageant; having our former neighbors come spend the day; Landon's ride in the fire truck and he even got to turn on the siren; visiting with my college girlfriends and their families; taking a mini road trip to visit Lance's sister Tammy and my sister Katrina; being able to meet my new nephew Sawyer Brown (born 8/2); visiting with my bible thumping pals, old teaching friends, and club ladies; afternoon swims at the local pool; gardening with aunt Shari and grandpa; riding on the 4 wheeler; going to Vikings training camp; eating at Culvers (4 times I think) - YUMMMY!!!

Our trip went remarkably fast. I thought that being gone for two plus weeks would get really long. I am a total homebody so a week is stretching it usually for me to be gone. I think since MN is still "home" it didn't seem to get too long. We had plenty to do when we were there but also had some down time - it was a good balance. We did have a bit of excitement before we got on the airplane in MN. It had been a rough afternoon before our flight, all the good byes to the cousins. Morgan was so so sad and so so tired. When Morgan gets too tired, she tends to vomit. She usually throws up once and then she is fine once she rests. It is just her bodies way of handling being overtired. So we get to the Minneapolis airport and stop off at curbside check. It was crazy busy so my mom was in the 2nd lane. I start unloading and have Morgan stand next to the bags while I unload until my mom gets closer. I am making the second trip to the curb and I see Morgan with this look on her face, I look at the ground and she has just thrown up on the curb. YIKES! I ask her if she is okay, she says she is fine. She didn't get anything on her just the curb. I go back for another batch of bags and some kleenex and come back and she has vomited again. Now I am wondering if she has the flu or what. She continues to say she is fine. I think I am in shock at this point, thinking oh brother this is going to be an interesting flight and I am not sure what to do with this mess on the curb. Really, I can't believe this was happening. Morgan is so embarrassed - I feel so bad for her. She is the type of kid who from age 2 would make it to a bathroom when she got sick. By now, my mom has parked by us and she is standing with the kids while I am checking our bags. The guy at curbside check was so crabby! Thankfully we got our bags checked and got on our flight. The kids all slept almost the entire flight to ID. Morgan was fine the rest of the entire flight - Praise the Lord! She fell asleep as soon as she was seated on the plane. The poor thing! We go to baggage claim and get all our bags except one. Of course it is the bag with my frozen breast milk in it. UGH! So I lost about 6 frozen bags of milk. I still have over half a freezer full that probably won't get used but still its the thought of losing that liquid gold .... The airline did find my bag and delivered it the next day. YEAH!

Here are some photos from our trip- ENJOY!

Big sister Ayla(2) with new baby brother Sawyer

Morgan and Clea on the banks of Plum Creek, Walnut Grove, MN
Future Firefighter Landon

Mauryn, Morgan, Landon, Nelson Wodarz, Nolan Fuzzey, and Connor Fuzzey at our Luther BBQ at the Fuzzey's home.

The former neighbors: Marit Gueningsman, Madison Gueningsman, Morgan, Emily Monson, Mauryn, Eric Monson, and Landon.

Leaving the hospital after meeting Sawyer Brown. My niece Ingrid holding Mauryn, Morgan, my niece Kierstin, my niece Ayla, my nephew Ian, and Landon. I just love this photo!