The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


A Random, Brilliant, Homeschool Suggestion

July 31, 2008 - 10:11 AM

I am in the process of finalizing all our plans for our upcoming homeschool year.  It is so exciting ordering books and workbooks and planning schedules.  The kids are giddy with anticipation!  (As am I!)

One of the things I did not realize ages ago when we decided to homeschool was the full cost financially.  One of those, "Oh yeah," kind of things.  No matter what the cost, we know that homeschooling is what is best for our children and are willing to make it work to meet the needs BUT I just had a brilliant idea for anyone else who wants to do this in the future that have little ones not ready for "school" yet. 

My advice... Start saving now for your school books.  It could be something little, $5-10/mo but put it in a specical "savings" place marked for school.  Or, you could start thinking now how much you will budget in the future for homeschooling and use that amount.  Whatever the size, it is worth it.

We budget for our books every year and for each homeschooling family this budget varies depending on what curriculum you are using, how many kids you have, formalized curriculums are more expensive than do-it-yourself curriculums, workbooks have to be bought new each year, if you can find books used or only brand new, etc.  The variables are endless but the result is the same, it will cost some $.

If you were to start saving just a bit now, while you cutie(s) are 1 or 2 or 3, when it does come time to start your first year of homeschooling, you will be ever so blessed and prepared.

My definition of a pet.

July 29, 2008 - 1:17 AM

If you know anything about me, you know two things:

1. I do NOT like bugs
2. I am not a pet person

Our children are another story and I am convinced that they will become zoologist / entomologist / veterinarian geniuses.

I realized lately, that my fear of animals was having a strange reaction on the kids.  All summer Zeke has been reading books on various animals as pets and how to care for them.  Max has been trying to capture any animal he can have within arms reach and immediately bring them home.  Miriam is, well, a little Elmyra, "I'm gonna hug you and kiss you and love you forever!"

Watching Miriam's interactions with a friend's cat made me realize something... even though she is still excited around cats, she is not as over exhuberant as she first was and she is learning to be more gentle.  (Baby steps mind you, she still wants to carry them around like a doll, but she is slowly learning.)  Then, the boys had a rough run in with a friend's frogs.  Then, they had a fair but bit crazy interaction with someone's dog.  Then, I actually let them catch a tadpole and it died within the half hour.  Something had to be done.. and it had to be done by this mama.

What's a non-pet appreciating mama to do?  Go to Grandpa & Grandma's house in the country and bring home some "pets."  Enter Jack, a dark green tree frog, Joe & Joe, twin light green tree frogs, and Toady, a toad.  No bigger than a dime apiece, we made them a home out of a gallon water bottle and duct tape and some holes and wa-la - pets!*

However, after one night, the non-pet appreciating mama was worried the "pets" would escape so they went to the *gasp* pet store to *gasp* get a home and moss and a log and food for these creatures under their care.  Once in their new home, the kids were enjoying watching them jump and play up close, they were learning about animals and animal care and to be gentle and the non-pet appreciating mama was doing ok.

The next morning... 1, 2, 3... where's Jack?

Looking closely at the pets' new home, I spied moss particles on the sides of one thin slit as if a tiny tree frog squeezed his little body to slide right through and wiped off some moss along the way. 

I cleaned the house like mad - no Jack.

Then Max (& Josh) brought home a snail and a slug.  However, non-pet appreciating mama had no isses with these guys since she knew they could not escape.  Before too long, the kids had forgotten about Jack (or was it a Joe?) and were completley enjoying their cornucopia of animals.

Ten days have passed now and the snail and slug met an early demise, as we found out too late how to care for them.  The tree frogs are both dark green now and no longer jump and play and have fun... it's as if they feel like caged animals.  The toad just sits under the log which seems like something a toad would do.  Needless to say, they are going to all be released into the wild soon.

Today, I found Jack.

Stretched out flat, the dried up, shell of a tree frog, was laying on the basement floor by the drain.  My only guess is he was hiding in the drain for a while but with no food source, he finally leaped out of the drain, took his last breath, stretched out and died.

Moral of the story?

We do have this "pet" home and so I figure we can continue to collect random creatures here and there and keep for 1 week and then release.  They are then happy to not be held for too long, the kids are happy they got to watch and learn to care for the animal for a while, and the non-pet appreciating mama is happy when the pets leave.

*As for the whole ethical, catching a wild creature debate?  Um... we'll save that for another day... we'll let good kids be good kids today.

I am not a coffee snob, honest.

July 17, 2008 - 9:01 AM

I spent a good part of one of the legs of our vacation trying to convince my better half of this fact.  He was not convinced while I continued to maintain that I am an addict not a snob.  He told me I needed to try and convince others, so... what do you think?

Let's get down to brass tacks shall we...

I do not like the taste of coffee... addict or snob?

I never have liked the taste of coffee and don't think I ever will.  It has always smelled delicious to me, but the taste is something I have never actually "enjoyed."  Even flavored coffees, which smell even yummier, the taste simply masks the inevitable bitterness that is coffee that I don't like.  So when I drink coffee it is not for taste... addict or snob?

For me, feeding my addiction is more important than what I feed it with.  It does not matter to me where the coffee came from, cheap or expensive, caff or decaff, dark, cream, black, sugar, flavored, or whatever, I will happily drink any coffee served me... addict or snob? 

There is one place that we have been served by far, the world's worst coffee, which was basically water not coffee, and someone I know won't drink their coffee, while I still do without problems... addict or snob?

I don't always drink coffee with cream.  Sometimes I will get a nasty cup of gas station coffee and drink it black or a really expensive cup and drink it filled with cream.  It simply depends on my mood that day, how I want my addiction to comfort me, etc, etc, etc... addict or snob?

Finally, look at the facts... I own a $5 coffee maker and I only buy cheap coffee beans or what's on sale and I honestly don't know how to make a good pot of coffee and I "wing it" every time... addict or snob?


I am a total espresso snob.

I will call any bean junk that makes a cruddy espresso because seriously, if you are going to drink/make espresso, it helps to be a snob. 

I can say that because I honestly used to not be a snob in this area.  With our old espresso maker, I would use whatever and not care.  With our new one I have used whatever and then, we found an amazing source for fresh roasted beans that create delicious espressos and I have been ruined for all other beans, nothing compares.

Mike, owner of Capanna Coffee Company, roasts amazing beans and after using those in our wonderful Gaggia Espresso Machine (that the Cramer Dev employees got us for a gift, so nice!), I am a firm believer on the value of a good roast and good grind in order to get perfect crema.  I am a total espresso snob.

It is not that I won't use other beans now and then when in a pinch but unlike bad coffees, I will care and can totally tell the difference.  I will still drink it (thanks to my addiction) but will really be grossed out the whole time.  Bad coffee I will drink and still not care... addict or snob?

Am I a coffee snob?  There is 1 vote for yes and 1 vote for no.  Every vote counts and no offense taken! 


Update:  Josh will be writing up a side on this debate.  Unfortunately for me, he makes some good points, :)!

I can totally relate to Mr. McGregor*

July 14, 2008 - 9:21 PM

Oh, how I wish I could scold those bunnies.  Or catch them by their jackets... sigh.

In reality, our garden (and lots of those arounds ours) has been ravaged by bunnies.  They, the bunnies, have had no qualms about eating our edamame (soybeans), beans, peas, broccoli, and the occassional cherry tomatoes.  However, even with this sna-fu, I am still hopeful and still enjoying the fruits of our labors.

Let me show you where we've been...

before weeding   after weeding

The above left is our garden upon returning from vacation.  The whole thing looked like a big grass field.  It took 3 days of continual weeding to unearth...

Can you see the difference on the right?  You are looking at cauliflower in the foreground, peppers, broccoli, behind broccoli are beans that I have yet to weed as a possible way to keep the bunnies from finding all the beans.  The broccoli and cauliflower are the final ones left.  Our freezer is full of these two veggies and they look sparce due to the bunnies' tummies.

entry  growing bruss

(Left) L to R, carrots (with chives in between), kohlrabi in front with brussel sprouts behind.  (Right) Ignore the weed, but this is how brussel sprouts grow... who knew!


Pretty Kohlrabi, tastes like a hard cabbage.

happy squash  peppers, garlic, onions

(Left) It's not zucchini, but winter squash.  They aren't dead yet and there is one tiny veg. growing.   (Right) Close to far, squash leaves, pepper plants, garlic (the yellowing ones), onions (the tall green ones).

big happy onions lots of happy onions

About 4" across, a yellow onion, very happy.  Yup, onions grow out of the ground.  Crazy but true!  Garlic looks similar but grows under the ground.  The garlic's green stems go to yellowish brown when they are done and the onions go to brown when done.  Again, crazy!

hidden cant  oldest plants

(Left) Hiding in the tall grass is my cantaloupe on the left.  For some reason, I have convinced myself that the tall grass will help defend from squash bugs.  Stranger things have happened. 

(Right) All these tomato plants and eggplants and pepper plants are ones I planted wayyyy to early but they are all doing fair.  Smaller than normal, but fair.

grrrrrr   more eggplants

(Left) Foreground are my 3 purple cabbages that have finally started to make heads.  The weeds on the top left are hiding what is left of my pepper plants.  Eaten almost entirely by bunnies.  On the upper right are completely demolished edamame/soybean plants.  They have been systematically chopped off at the exact height all the way down the planted line.  The dirt behind them are where there were more plants that got eaten and we dug up to attempt to replant.  *Sigh*

(Right) To the left are more bean plants half eaten by bunnies that I am attempting to hide in grassy weeds.  On the right are happy eggplants.

big happy toms  the whole sha-bang

(Left) Here is the tomato patch I planted later.  It is big and beautiful and doing great!  They are very dense and have much foliage.  I kept picking out the sucker stems and the plants really liked that.  Now, if they would only turn red, :)!

(Right) This is it... the whole lot.  I do indeed believe that this year has been much more difficult than last year.  I am learning a lot, which I will post later.  But in case you were wondering how things were going... there you go.  ;)!

*In the story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

My one and only fish story

July 12, 2008 - 11:13 AM

Fishing stories, hunting stories, war stories, birth stories... they all are about the same.  They each involve you personally and you could tell them again and again and never feel guilty.

Here is my fish story...

After having the one and only restful morning of our vacation (ie all the boys out doing restful fishing on the boat while Miriam and I drank coffee, read the Word, watched birds, and swung on the air chair), when the boys came back my father-in-law (aka Grandpa, aka Mark) was itching to go do it again, this time with just Miriam and I. 

We were walleye fishing, which I hear, means a lot of waiting.  We had been out for a while and Grandpa kept saying, 10 more minutes.  Miriam had caught some sunnies and was d-o-n-e, done.  She sat on my lap facing me and was hugging me while I continued to sit and hold my 6lb test line with a big ole night crawler on the end.

Since we were fishing for walleyes, Grandpa had coached me how to notice their bite vs. another fish's bite.  Finally, I thought I had something and responded accordingly and Grandpa was quickly telling Miriam to stand up because Mom had a bite.  It took a lot of coaxing since Miriam was d-o-n-e, done.

Standing up, I had to jam the pole into my hip to keep from losing it into the water as I was pulled all around the boat.  Mark coached me through the whole event, which I could not have done without him.  It was a northern (pike) and they have sharp teeth.  They like to bite through lines but since I had him on the side of his mouth, there was no biting my line off, I merely had to hope my 6 lb line would hold with the drag it was previously set on for walleye fishing.  The fish made 5 runs on me, to the left and right, left and right, and finally under the boat, the battle seemed to last forever.  Miriam was bouncing around me, still d-o-n-e, done, and trying to hold my leg.  The fish was not going to give up but neither was I.

Finally, Mark got the fish in the net and set it in the boat and I screamed like a little girl.  I couldn't tell if my screams were from excitement, the size of the fish or (most likely) the fact that I was so afraid it was going to bite Miriam or I with its big teeth.

It took a while for me to calm down and begin fishing again.  Within 10 minutes I snagged my second fish, a 19" walleye.  Not as exciting (though rather unconventional) but still a good catch.  Grandpa could've fished all day after that excitement but like I said before Miriam was d-o-n-e, done.

So here it is, the fish and I with my father-in-law for extra encouragement.  These are slimy fish and again, the teeth.  3 noteable fish caught in my life, 2 attempts at fishing over 5 years, I figure it is ok to be proud this time.  I can't wait to see what I catch in another 5 years...

mark, fish & me

And though it is a little fuzzy, my truthful face while holding the fish...

the fish and I

Rollin' 220K in the Van! Phew!

July 11, 2008 - 8:52 AM

Our van, "God bless her, her ways, her mysterious ways," has just rolled 220,000 miles!  Phew!

So our van, in it's day of 1993, was the bomb and tripped out with all kinds of novelties, one of which is the gem that is it's gas mileage gauges*. 

It has...

1. A trip meter
2. An average miles per gallon (mpg) meter
3. A second by second mpg meter
4. An average miles left in tank meter

What does this mean? 

It means brilliance!  Josh and I have decided that if all cars made had these gems of features, people would save a ton of money and there would be a lot less speeding.  It means a challenge!  You can moment by moment tell how much gas you are using and work your speed to get more out of each gallon.  It means we love our van!  Didn't see that one coming did ya?  It means that east coast senator isn't smoking crack!  The one who said we need to research making the speed limit 55mph again... yea, that guy, he may be onto something.

Our favorite meter is the one that does the second by second mpg.  When you go up hills it goes way down, 18- mpg, when you go down hills it goes way up 44+ mpg.  Now for the averages...

If I travel 55-60 mph I get 35-40 mpg.  If I travel 65-70 mph I get 25-30 mpg.  If I travel 70-72 I get 22-23 mpg.  If I travel 75+ I get 18- mpg and a possible ticket.  AND If I travel behind a big truck at 70-72 mph (and as proven I hear on Myth Busters) I get 44-49 mpg.

I worked the system our whole 1815 mile trip.  Well... except this one point, after we drove from MN to IA and I was then driving back up to MN.  I started getting grumpy, and well, started driving a bit faster and ruined my average down to 22.8 mpg.  BUT I made up for it on our drive home and by the end of our trip we had a 23.0 mpg average on our cherry of a 1993, 6 cylinder minivan... amazing! 

We also decided that we needed to install an optional paddle boat type of pedal system that is installed into each seat's flooring so that when we are doing things like going up hills we can flip out the pedals for one and all to help out get some additional power going to stop the general decline in mpg that inevitably happens on hills.

We came up with a few other brilliant ideas but they are true brilliance and well, we're gonna save those for another day's business adventure.

All in all, this only truly proves one thing... we love our van!

Again, didn't see that one coming did you?

*Since we just replaced the battery before our trip we know they were all recently reset.  HOWEVER, this all assumes that gauges are accurate which really, who knows... but we're pretty sure they are.  AND, this is still low gas mileage compared to our Camry which got, no joke, 40 mpg on road trips!

In the Spirit of Lake Whoa-be-gone, Pt 1

July 10, 2008 - 10:33 PM

Not to be speaking in sweeping, gross generalizations, but if Iowans are known for their tendency to swing wide, then Minnesotans should be known for driving in the left lane when not passing.

Once we entered the great state of Minnesota, I was noticing this trend among interstate/highway drivers.  First, people were driving under the speed limit, in both right and left lanes.  Then, I noticed this continual habit to have a clump of cars and trucks all huddled in both lanes, for no road construction reason.  The amazing frequency of these two eventsmade me ever so curious.

I caught up to the front of one of these clumps and realized that they were caused by a single person, driving the exact speed limit in the left lane, and staying there.  And nothing, I mean, nothing, was going to get them out of that left lane.  Even without anyone in the right lane, they were staying put.  I then started noticing that it was generally the folks from other states that would finally pass the left lane driver. 

Now, in our household, one of our members, continually comments on midwestern behaviours... like, not taking the last piece of food, dessert, main dish, whatever... at least not without a lot of "no you take it's."  The tendency then to allow someone to drive in the left lane on the interstate when they are not passing must be another midwest trait.  However, I have only seen the intense appeal to do this happening in MN and since I have listened to way too many Prairie Home Companions, it could be truth.

Whenever I have listened to GK and his news from Lake Whoa-be-gone(sp), ignoring the obvious negative implications he adds, he paints MN (and a lot of times specifically MN Lutherans) in very considerate, sacrificing images.  I can only imagine how the act of allowing someone to drive in the left lane would be a not-wanting-to-hurt-feelings activity and those who do this random act of driving in the left lane being the why-keep-switching-lanes-and-confusing-people activity.  Both acts for the betterment/love of others.

Upon speaking of this phenomenom with my MN native husband, he confirmed it going way back to his youth and memories of his mother, driving slower on purpose to avoid the clumps, while his father would drive in the clumps and manuver his way in and out.  I surveyed MN relatives and they said it was because the right lane is more bumpy than the left, which I would agree with however, does that truly justify the act?

For all the kindness AND because I am not a MN native AND since I have recently been reformed on not (always) swinging wide, I can't help but think this is another inappropriate driving act that should be avoided and needs it's own driving law diagrahms to support.

I'll get right on that after I recover from this vacation.

(*Oh, and this is Dana, logged in as Josh, :)!)

Sometimes words can never express

July 1, 2008 - 9:46 AM

Many of us have been mourning the loss of our dear friend and sister, Brittney.

In the beautiful words of her father, she is home with Jesus.  In the sweet words of my son, she has her new body.  In the words of a good friend, she has received her reward.  In the words of our Lord, she has literally crossed over from death to life.

I know that she is in heaven kickin' it with the Lord.  I know that she is no longer in any pain, the cancer is gone and now she has her new body that can dance forever and never tire.  I know that God works all things for good for those who love God.  I know that heaven is like no place on earth.  I know that she would rather have us rejoicing and not experiencing the pain of mourning.  I know it is a time for celebration of her life but right now - it hurts.

I know that God weeps with us...

John 11:30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her [Mary] in the house, and consoling her [over the death of her brother Lazarus], when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept.  36 So the Jews were saying, "See how He loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?" 38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb.

Say all the jokes about the shortest verse in the Bible, but knowing that Jesus wept has comforted me as I continue to do so.  Jesus, who knew what He was going to do next, had compassion on Mary's loss of her brother.  He knows our sorrows and grieves with us.  It is good for us to weep and mourn.

I was also struck by something that JW said at church on Sunday that reminded me of the first part of the story when Jesus meets Martha, Mary & Lazarus's sister on the road...

John 11:17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four  days. 18 Now Bethany  was near Jerusalem, about two  miles off; 19 and many of the  Jews had come to Martha  and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." 28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister...

Led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus always knew how to appropriately respond to everyone.  He responded perfectly to meet Martha's needs.  He responded perfectly to meet Mary's needs.  He responds perfectly to meet our needs.  And oh, how we need the Holy Spirit to show us how to respond to the needs of those around us during this time of loss on this earth.

May you continually be being filled with the Holy Spirit as you mourn the loss of our friend.  May her legacy speak of the hope that we share.


Welcome! I am glad you're here! If you are new and would like to get caught up on what's going on, check out these quick links to get you started:

About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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