The Final Year

One of the only extracurricular activities my children do – besides our normal routine which happens to be extremely varied and busy – is 4-H. We have been involved in 4-H since my oldest was 9. This year Serenity, Justus & Audrey raised lambs.   Since it was Serenity’s last year they all decided to raise the same animal. We had them for about 5 months and then it was time to take them to EXPO where they show for 2 days and then they sell them at an auction where business owners/leaders are the main supporters. Lambs had to be sheared… Loaded….   And taken to EXPO where all the different animals (steers, lambs, goats & pigs) all have pens under this red and…

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What the KonMari Method of Folding Looks Like

As I mentioned in my last post, Marie Kondo suggests a particular way to fold your clothing. At first I thought that it was maybe a little over the top but I’m willing to give anything a try at least once because sometimes the very idea you scorn is the one that really delivers the best results. So I tried it and I was impressed. It may seem like extra steps to fold but really it goes just as fast as normal folding once you’ve learned how to do it. I didn’t get a chance to put a video together but here is one that is quite thorough. The idea is to have a small rectangular package when you are finished that can stand on…

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Decluttering Clothing the KonMari Way

I’m still going strong on decluttering my closet the KonMari way; but things had to get worse before they got better. Seriously, I had such a mess going on. A few years back I got rid of my dresser and decided to just use the shelves in my closet. I have a large bookcase in my room and that combined with the dresser was just too much. My husband was not using the dresser at all and all that it was being used for was some miscellany along with my underclothes. A huge dresser for only a little bit of stuff. I was tired of the room it took up so we removed it and I haven’t missed it since! But over time my closet…

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The KonMari Method of Decluttering and Tidying Your Life

  Several months back I heard about a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Since I love anything to do with organizing, I had to take a look at it. This book is different than any book you will have read on the subject, bringing new thoughts to the table on how to finally say goodbye to things you’ve had for a very long time and are reluctant to give away or discard. The author, Marie Kondo, says that the KonMari Method isn’t just a set of rules for organizing your home but a “guide to acquiring the right mind-set for creating order and becoming a tidy person.” Some of the basic thoughts in the book…

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The CK Girls Visit Horseshoe Bend & Lake Powell

I had heard of Horseshoe Bend a few years ago and have had it on my bucket list to visit ever since then and so after touring Lower Antelope Canyon and a dinner at El Tapatio, we drove to Horseshoe Bend which is only a few miles from the town of Page.   It was not what we expected. We are really not into crowds out in nature and this place had plenty. I felt like we on a pilgrimage with the trail of people going to this scenic spot stretching out for quite a ways.   Everyone wants to be there at sunset and especially photographers. Unfortunately, there were so many clouds that there wasn’t much of a sunset. There are no barriers so…

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Visiting One of the Most Famous Slot Canyons in the World

Seven girls met the requirements this year to go on our Castle Keeper end-of-year outing. The requirements were they could only miss one meeting and they had to complete all monthly challenges as well as all the culinary challenges which made a total of 18 challenges for the year. Just in time we received our Castle Keeper t-shirts, so all the girls were able to wear them on the first day. Our end-of-year outing is 2 two days to some place here in Arizona that I choose. This year I decided to take the girls to Lower Antelope Canyon (one of the most famous slot canyons in the world), Horseshoe Bend (neither of which I had ever been to) and Lake Powell. Lower Antelope Canyon…

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Celebrating! – A Homeschool Graduation Party

Apologies for the delay in posting this. We took the Castle Keeper girls on an outing – which you will hear all about at some point! 🙂 The evening of Serenity’s graduation was perfect. No rain, not too hot and not breezy – all things we’ve had to contend with this year. (We’re getting an amazing amount of rain this year – at least for Arizona – and it’s getting so green around here that it’s starting to look like Scotland!) My amazing sister was once again here to help me with everything. She did so much work the day before and with her and a few others in the kitchen the day of, I was able to totally relax and just enjoy the party….

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Preparing for My Daughter’s Homeschool Graduation

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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