The day that we had been working so hard to prepare our back yard for arrived and most everything that was to be accomplished was completed. What a nice feeling to know that after hours upon hours of work, you are finished (almost). There’s still the kitchen area to be built and some landscaping projects to finish but the bulk of it has been completed! Of course, there was much preparation with over 200 guests coming. So many willing hands were there to assist. Vases had to be filled with water Flowers picked up (Thanks, dad!) and arranged. And that waterfall! More flowers had to be planted. The framework for the big screen had to be made and the screen, which measures 10×12, had to…

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Preparing for My Guests

While much work has been going on outside, I’ve had my share of things I’ve been doing in the house in preparation for family members arriving this week.   14 loaves of whole wheat bread were baked and placed in the freezer 40 pounds of granola was made And I’ve been writing all these little tags to attach to our favors. The tags were purchased for $1.00/bag at Hobby Lobby at 50% off. The Sharpie is a gold metallic Extra Fine point pen. I really like the look the gold gives on the white tags.   So much to do still…. 🙂

The Effects of Rain in Arizona

Slowly we’re completing some of these backyard projects. This week, one area they focused on is where the swing set will be going. Two layers of weed fabric was put down in case of punctures from the gravel. This is the first layer. It was breezy so they used the shovels to hold the fabric down. Then a second and heavier duty weed fabric was put down. The gravel all placed. But then… we had the most torrential downpour that I ever remember having. We had over 3″ of rain in about 30 minutes! So many areas were flooded including the swing set area. Our basement (It’s a storage area.) had water pouring in through the brick walls. This picture is quite a while after…

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Backyard Update

There’s been such a flurry of activity around here between kids going to camps and working on our backyard. Yes, we still have a lot to accomplish in the backyard. Much of it are things that are more “behind the scenes” like electrical wiring. The deadline is August 13 when my daughter, Serenity, has her high school graduation party.  My fourth child to graduate. I can hardly believe I will have more than half of my children finished with their homeschooling journey! In the last post, which was over a week ago, I shared pictures of the sod being laid and how the yard was transformed in one day from dirt to grass. After working about 12 hours that day, the yard was leveled and…

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From Dirt to Grass in One Day (Almost)

Work has not stopped in the backyard. Something is always going on back there. After all, we have a deadline of August 13 which is when we’ll be having my daughter’s homeschool highschool graduation party. Trenches had to be dug for the sprinkler system. 350 tons of soil was brought in because where we live there are rocks, rocks, rocks!   The soil had to be leveled out.  So many tasks needed to be accomplished before the sod could be laid.       My hubby pulled a few all-nighters to get everything ready… but it still wasn’t when the sod arrived. But after feverishly working and running around trying to get 10 things done at once….     Our first piece of sod was…

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Finishing A Chapter and Starting a New One

Justus’s 8th grade graduation night couldn’t have been more special. Along with 50 other students, he received a certificate of completion for his junior high studies when he participated in our state’s homeschool graduation ceremony which is sponsored by Arizona Families for Home Education. There was some amazing musical talent that night on the piano as well as vocalists. Hal & Melanie Young gave the commencement address and talked to the graduates about “Stepping Up to the Plate” and how they are moving out of childhood and becoming young men and women and what this should look like.   Justus receiving his certificate of completion.   We all stood and gave him quite a cheer when his name was announced! The loudest one in the…

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A Time to Celebrate

Tonight’s the night. Justus will be graduating from 8th grade and his high school journey will be beginning.   (taken 2014) We’ve had small celebrations for each child when they complete the 8th grade and I’ve had 4 to plan for. Tonight will be the 5th. First there was Seth, then a few years later, Zachary, then Wesley, Serenity and now Justus. He’s worked hard and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Congratulations, Justus – my little man!

Camp Time! and a Westward Trek Back Home

And Part II of our eastward trek with a van load of kids. Part I is here. Camp was filled with a variety of activities. Things like hair clinics where girls will fix your hair all pretty. Art classes Choir practice for those so inclined… Lego fun with a contest at the end…. Which can be very difficult for the judges… Chess… (Justus’s dorm had a chess tournament. The final championship round was between him and another boy in which the other boy won.) Sports… Someone captured this “Bump, Set, Spike” video in which Wesley is the spiker.   And then there were crafts, bread baking classes, softball classes, advanced sewing classes, skits to participate in… There was something for everyone! And plenty of visiting…

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An Eastward Trek With 15 Others

This is going to be hard for me to recount all the events of the last 10 days, but here goes! We just arrived home last night after a trip to Indiana to a youth camp my kids have been attending for years. I think traditions are important and anything that makes an impact in my children’s spiritual life for the good is very high on my list of things we should do. I’m glad my husband shares that vision, too. We left the evening of June 29 and at various stops picked up our remaining passengers.   We drive through the night and in the morning hours stopped in the small town of Shamrock, Texas for some breakfast and devotions.     Awhile later, when…

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Last week my aunt, her son and granddaughter (my cousins) came for a visit. We had a really good time showing them around our state – even visiting the Grand Canyon which was the first time for all 3 generations. You can see that my cousin is just a wee bit taller than me. 6′ 5″ versus my diminutive stature of 5′ 3″.   So while my aunt was here I asked her if she would show us how to tie a quilt. You see, my grandmother who has been gone for 17 years, loved to quilt. She made patterned quilts and tied quilts. I have at least 9 quilts right now that she gave just to me and my children (they each have one…

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Standing in front of the grill with smoke billowing up around him, flames leaping high and a spray bottle of water held at the ready to save the choice meat that had been placed on the grill, described my husband oh, so many years ago. And then, if there were guests to visit with, things got worse. No longer did he stand ready to put out any fires but had his back to the grill while he had a nice chat and our meat was consumed by the hungry flames. Although I am exaggerating the situation, it was true enough that he eventually was retired from the grill and I became the one responsible. I wasn’t much better. When I finished, the meat would be…

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The Pergola Gets Put To Use

The pergola got its first big use this past Monday with about 240 people “dropping by” our place. We are affiliated with a church that hosts a youth camp each year in our area, and so each year, for many years now, we have had a tradition where all the youth campers come to our house when their camp ends. I prepare a lunch for everyone and the campers entertain themselves in various ways – or just relax and visit. The morning of… everything lay waiting in preparation for the deluge of guests that would show up about 11:30 a.m. We always shoot the cannon when new guests come to visit. My husband loves his “toy” and built it himself after ordering the barrel and…

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A Motto to Live By

Bloom where you are planted. Such a simple line but the meaning behind that thought can have so many applications. It doesn’t matter matter where you are in life; you have a choice to make on whether you will be happy or not, whether you will bloom or choose to be something far less than you could be. The Castle Keeper girls have been voting on a motto for our club and the winner was “Bloom where you are planted.” We are now going to have t-shirts made up with this saying printed on the back. I like it!     The CK girls are great examples of someone choosing to bloom where they are planted. They are wonderful girls and are great examples of…

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This year the preparation the day of the Castle Keepers party seemed rather harried but everything somehow got done and we had a good evening anyways! This is our 3rd end-of-the-year party and this year, after it was all over,  I made a note telling myself that my girls needed to make their pies the day before not the day of.  Trying to do it the day of the party is just too hectic when the party is being held at your own house! All the CK girls make 2 pies. One for dessert after the meal, so people can sample the different pies that will be auctioned and the second pie is for the auction. Audrey had finished her pies, chilled them and was…

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What a night the Castle Keeper girls had at their end-of-the-year party – celebrating their achievements this past year with the evening culminating in a pie auction to raise funds for our club. A Greek meal, chicken & beef gyros, was served along with falafel salad, Greek salad, hummus and the cutest little appetizers on a toothpick that had small bits of tomato, olives and cheese on it, drizzled with a little oil (I think). Whatever was on them, I think they were my favorite thing on the table. Serenity put together a slide show that showcased some of the girls’ meetings, monthly challenges and culinary challenges. I thought she did a really good job on it.  I’ll give you a more thorough update next…

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Meet One of Our Delightful Castle Keeper Girls

Sometimes your dreams really do become reality. That is how I feel about our girls club Castle Keepers. For years I had thought about starting a girls club based on the Keepers at Home book that Keepers of the Faith published. But I just couldn’t get into it. I guess I had my own ideas and my own way of doing things. To be sure though, I did thumb through the book many times and received inspiration. They’ve done a great job with their program. After thinking about it for many years, I decided to just do it. I knew I would have regrets if I let this period in my oldest daughters life slip by without ever attempting it. And thus, 3 years ago…

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A Pondless Water Feature for the Backyard

A big project for our backyard has been the addition of a pondless water feature. This was something we had considered doing but then almost didn’t bother with it but a friend of ours was here who works for a company that does these things and encouraged us to do it. With a few pointers from the boss and lots of help from our friend, it is now mostly completed. I was a little unsure about how it was going to look when it was still in progress because it looked like a big jumble of rocks but after switching out some rocks, adding others, it all started to come together. When the plants were added, that really helped. You first have to envision how…

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Backyard Progress

People! Progress is being made on the backyard! So very exciting. As you know we finished the pergola. We still have to install lights, serving counters and things but the structure is finished. We’ve enjoyed it a few times already in the mornings for breakfast. A traditional American breakfast of biscuits, gravy, eggs and sausage. And some of my workers that arrived this week to help out! On to what progress has been made! See all those boulders? We were contemplating making a stone wall using rocks from around our place, so the rocks were gathered and then they sat for a very long time. The rocks were so big that when they were collecting them it caused my husband to have a hernia and…

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Reaching the “Over the Hill” Mark

Have you ever heard someone talk about the “the golden years”? Well from what I’m hearing it’s not really true. Then you’ve probably heard the term, “over the hill”? I thought it was just a big joke, like who is over the hill at 40? Seriously! But I’m finding out by personal experience that this is pretty much the truth. Yikes! Tuesday morning I woke up and could barely walk (you could call it a shuffle) and all the discomfort was centered in my hip area. If I sat for any length of time I had the hardest time when I would go to stand. Then I started feeling it in my shoulder. Wednesday I called a lady in the area that has been trained…

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Why Everyone Needs a Daughter

Are you paralyzed by indecision? Decisions about paint colors, home decor and related things? If so, join the club of mothers over 40 who feel your pain. Me and a friend were talking about that very thing this past week. We want to change up our home decor… we need a change and we really should update… but where do we start? I can’t even make up my mind about a paint color or a small accessory. She has the same problem. We find we depend upon our daughters because we wonder if maybe we’re stuck in the rut of past fashions and are afraid to move on with the times. Just recently she purchased a ceramic bird for her kitchen and brought it home….

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