Bliss in a Bag

We made a quick stop at the store tonight, and as we perused the cookie aisle, I was sort of ambivalent. I wanted something dessertish and sweet, but didn't know exactly what that something was. As I checked out the Pepperidge Farm cookies, I wasn't really in the mood for my usual Chessmen, so I kept looking. Who knows, there might be some yummy, new cookie goodness that I'd previously missed?

Well, I found something alright. Something so good that they're exceedingly dangerous. I present you with Amaretto Milano cookies.

Oh my goodness! They are incredibly delish! Dark chocolate and amaretto sandwiched between two delicate, buttery cookies. Heaven in a cookie. These could be the source of my demise, they are so amazing.

And they're mine, all mine. Muwahahahahaha.


Adventures in House Buying

I'd have provided an update sooner, but there's been just about nothing to report. It has been two weeks since we were last at the house, while the water heater was checked out along with the plumbing. So we requested the roof be replaced (that's been part of it all along), and now we asked for the water heater to be repaired/replaced. In addition, we've requested that a water softener be removed and the pipes be reconnected, closed off, or whatever needs to happen. Otherwise, we'll have a swimming pool in the crawl space. Not really an amenity we were looking for.

The seller/bank required two bids on each repair - the roof and the plumbing, so they've had those in their hands for the past six days (business days, that is). Apparently they were asking for some clarification earlier in the week, but that's all we've heard.

Our interest rate is locked in, but the lock ends in a couple of weeks. So we signed another amend/extend a couple of days ago, bumping our closing date out to coincide with the expiration date of our interest rate.

Now here we are in a holiday weekend (meaning one less day for the bank to sign off), with no further information. The listing broker thinks that this will all go through, but until it's in black and white, we just wait.

That being said, however, I don't have any reason to believe that God isn't going to put this together. He's already done some amazing things (see here and here). He hasn't given us anything else to look at or even consider. Even when we did try and look at a couple of houses awhile back, we knew that wasn't the direction we were supposed to take. He has us waiting on this house. Period. Even when I want to become frustrated or impatient, I really can't. Because I know that He is still sovereign, still in control, and still loves us beyond measure. So why would I flip out? Why would I try and figure something else out? This is the place He has us. Here and now. As before, all I can do is press in, pray, abide in and trust Him. And that's enough.


Happy Birthday, Jacque

I just wanted to wish a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to dear, sweet Jacque of Walking Therein. If ever there was someone who's a wonerful inspiration to homeschoolers, moms, and Christian women, this is the lady. She is the loving wife of Matt and mom to eight lovely children.

If you want to find out more about Jacque and the incredible impact she's having for the Lord, you can check not only her blog Walking Therein, but also see what her daughters, Miss Amanda and Miss Jocelyn have to say about their Momma. She, and her husband, has raised these young ladies well, to the glory of God.

I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Jacque. We've had some very late-night chats, or should I say early morning chats? We've been teammates at the HSBA for some time now. And of course, I visit her blog and the blogs of her daughters.

I pray that you have a wonderfully blessed birthday, my friend!

What a beautiful family!


Behind Schedule

I began to grade papers and fill in today's assignments last night, but was stopped for an online meeting with my friends over at the Homeschool Blog Awards. Right at the beginning, we found out that another friend's 3 year old son was missing. He had been missing for three hours by this time. Needless to say, our meeting took a different turn, as each woman stopped to pray. While I wish there'd been a different outcome, Marsha's son was pulled from the pond (very large pond) later last night. Marsha is a team member at Heart of the Matter and there's a tribute to Christian (her son) posted there today. Please drop by and please pray for this family - David, Marsha, and Christian's two older brothers (ages 9 and 7).

Somehow I could never get back to grading and assigning last night. Some things just don't seem so important in light of such tragedy. So we'll be a little behind schedule this morning. It's hard to wrap my brain around all this. Sweet little Christian is safe and happy in the arms of Jesus. His family knows this. They know they'll see him again. Yet I can't fathom how incredibly devastating to have this loss in their lives. My heart just breaks for them. Praying for peace, for comfort, for everything they need right now.

Heather has a very lovely post here and she will be updating with all tribute links, as well as donation information. Be sure to stop by.

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26


Wordless Wednesday - Smells Good

These garlic chives made me want to eat Italian or something.

See my other WW.


High Altitude Academy

Today was the first day of school. And I am PLEASED to say that it went well. Given that the last year was spent floundering at Slacker Middle School, it was a joy to head back to HAA.

The first year I homeschooled ClayGuy, I noticed that many homeschool families had a name for their school and thought that I should get on board with that. After some time, I arrived at High Altitude Academy. Colossians 3:2 is our theme verse.

"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

The fact that the acronym is HAA was kind of humorous, too. The Comedian came up with an alternate interpretation of HAA - Happy Attitude Academy. We like happy attitudes.

As is tradition (slightly modified this year), here are the first day of school photos:

The Comedian


I used to take a shot of the boys standing on our front porch in their new school clothes, with their backpacks and usually a Target bag with Kleenex, just before we walked to school. We don't have a porch, just a stoop. They don't have new school clothes and backpacks. And I don't make them bring a bag of Kleenex boxes to homeschool. Instead of a two block walk to the local school, we went down the road to the xeriscape exhibition garden. There are still some great flowers blooming, and of course, I had my camera.

A bright, happy sunflower to greet us on the way.

The road less taken.

I learned that Black Eyed Susans are a coneflower.

We saw this sweet little baby bunny all over the garden.

I'm amazed that this turned out at all - my battery was very nearly dead and the butterfly was far away. Zoomed in and shot anyway.

We accomplished the hours and subjects according to plan, the boys cooperated, and my kitchen counter got cleaned. All to God's glory! I know it won't always be that way, but I will sure appreciate these days when they come.


PhotoStory Friday: Destruco-Cat

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

We often leave a paper bag out for the cat to hide in, play in, or just hang out in. Apparently on this particular day, she was suffering from a lack of fiber. Or had some repressed aggression to deal with.

What?! Get your own bag!

Don't. Like. Paper. On. Tongue! Ptooey!

What are you looking at?!? You want I should chew on you too?

Who's going to vacuum up this mess?!?


Homeschool Memoirs - All About Me

Homeschool MemoirsIn keeping with the motto of "Encouraging, informing, and connecting the homeschool community," the HSBA has a fun new meme starting today ~ Homeschool Memoirs. Many of us blog as a way to record our memories already. With the weekly themes, you'll continue to have an ongoing record of your homeschooling adventures, plus you'll have the opportunity to learn from and share with other homeschoolers. Each Wednesday the theme is posted and you have the next week to get a post up. Then go back to the HSBA, sign the linky, and see what others had to say about that week's theme. This should be a lot of fun! If you want to find out more, click either icon and check it out.

The first theme? Tell a bit about yourself. Who's the mom behind the blog? What's your homeschooling story?

I looked into homeschooling when ClayGuy was getting ready to start kindergarten. Things never quite came together, though. A friend made a comment (I can't even remember the specifics now) that ended up leading to public school. We lived just a couple of blocks from the local elementary school. It was a small, very community-oriented school. Having a high number of homeless students, the staff was very attentive to the needs of the kids and worked hard to ensure that they were all on a level playing field, at least while in school. It was a nice school and seemed a good place to be.

Both boys attended this school from kindergarten through 5th grade. We never had any intention of sending either one to the public middle school. Our assumption was that when 6th grade began, they'd be heading to a Christian school. As we started doing the math, we quickly realized that our budget and the school’s tuition were never going to become friends, not even acquaintances. That started us down a somewhat convoluted path (bunny trail) towards homeschool.

So we brought ClayGuy home for 6th grade and left the Comedian to finish out 5th grade at the public school. I was grateful because it gave me just ONE kid to work with while trying to get my feet wet that first year. The next year, the Comedian stayed home with us, causing me to get wet all the way to my hips.

We're just about to start our fourth year; ClayGuy's heading into 9th grade and the Comedian will be in 8th (well, if you utilize the public school system grade levels). Last year wasn't a great year. We floundered much of the time and it seemed that I never could get my footing. My running joke was that we attended Slacker Middle School. I'm happy to say that we left that place behind. With God's help (I can't do any of this in my own strength), we won't be going there any more. Nor will we visit Slacker High.

I suppose that really wasn't much about me, now was it? Okay, briefly then (she says with a maniacal laugh):
  • I'm a crazy and scattered woman, bouncing from one thing to the next and back to something else in practically the same moment. I tend towards an all-or-nothing mentality, which makes balance a very elusive goal. There is no middle ground. Or if there is, it's forever lost to me.

  • I love Jesus and have been walking with Him since March of 1990. I got off to a slow start, but He's a patient God, for which I am ever grateful.

  • I have a wonky sense of humor. I love to laugh. Until it hurts. And then laugh some more. Until I can't breathe.

  • I enjoy creativity, but don't fit it into my life as often as I'd like. I love photography and would like to learn so much more. I've been scrapbooking for about 12 years. I'm an avid reader and usually read multiple books at once.

  • I love games and puzzles and words. Am a Scrabble junkie. Mostly with my mom. Also Boggle with her and/or my sister. Lately we've been playing some Yahtzee.

  • I fly by the seat of my pants, yet love the idea of a tidy and structured life. But feel confined and restrained at the thought. I'm very contrary to myself. I make myself nuts with all sorts of strange little self-talk. Back and forth I go. One little me on each shoulder (not devil and angel - more like OCD me and whimsical, carefree me).

  • I am consistently inconsistent. That's the only place I have a solid habit built into my life. Well, that and drinking Dr Pepper.

  • I drive a white mini van. It's practical. One day that will change, but it works for now.

That's enough for now. If you're even still with me. I can get a little quite wordy at times.

So I'm wrapping up plans for a new, unslacking sort of year. Because my boys grow and change almost daily, homeschooling (and parenting) is a constantly moving project. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m blessed and honored to have this opportunity.


22 Years

We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary over the weekend. Many thanks to Carrie for the anniversary game. We played at dinner at a favorite local Mexican restaurant. Then we wandered around Lowe's, creating a dream list of appliances for our new home. Nothing a few thousand dollar gift card wouldn't take care of. LOL!

edited to add: btw, I made my dress and veil :D

The Anniversary Game (our version anyway) - We each had to come up with something from each year we've been married. I don't think we put any real rules or parameters on ourselves.

1986 - We got married!
Hubs - Went to work for the RV Department at the Ford dealership
Me - Went to Paxton, NE with my sister & cousin in the Toyota

1987 - We moved to California
Hubs - Got his first Jeep
Me - Got my first profit sharing check and bought a nice 18 speed bike

Hubs - Went to work for Fred & Jack
Me - Took a Vivarin trip to Colorado with hubs & cousin

Hubs - Moved to San Jose
Me - Experienced 7.1 earthquake (Loma Prieta - opening day of World Series)

Hubs - Moved to Roseville
Me - Got impetigo after spending an evening in hubby's boss's hot tub (5 of 6 of us got it, not just me)

Hubs - Made a crazy, 3-day trip to Colorado with my dad
Me - Went to work at the Biomedical Engineering Center

Hubs - Moved back to Colorado
Me - Bought our first house (from my sister and brother-in-law)

Hubs - Trip to California in November with a 5-week old baby that took FOREVER. Especially since we got stuck in Rawlins, WY
Me - Got Cody (our dog) and bought a camper (before having ClayGuy)

Hubs - Traded his pickup and shell for his second Jeep (aka Speedy)
Me - Lost our minds while buying our second house

Hubs - The Comedian was born
Me - Our house began to crumble

Hubs - Oops, couldn't come up with one
Me - Left corporate position to stay home with the boys

Hubs - Traded the Accord for a mini van
Me - Became a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator

Hubs - First trip to Easter Jeep Safari in Moab
Me - Went to San Diego for SU convention

Hubs - Weekend to Empire and rode the Georgetown Loop
Me - Family's first trip to Easter Jeep Safari in Moab

Hubs - Employer moved south
Me - Took the train to California

Hubs - 9/11
Me - Helped move Mom & Dad back to Colorado

Hubs - Employer moved yet again (much closer to home!)
Me - Tried to sell our house (114 showings, 4 failed contracts, no sale)

Hubs - Stepped down from being service manager
Me - Got Canon Rebel SLR camera

Hubs - Kevin went to be with the Lord
Me - Stopped being a SU demonstrator

Hubs - House began to sink, bought the Scrambler
Me - Moved to our current home

Hubs - Sold the Scrambler, got the van
Me - Threw a big surprise party for my dad's 70th birthday

Hubs - Went to a fly fishing clinic with the Comedian
Me - Threw a surprise party for my sister's 40th birthday

Hubs - Bought the Avalanche
Me - Went to see TobyMac, Jeremy Camp, and Matthew West.

And hopefully buying a house . . . very soon!

Looking forward to many, many more wonderful years.


Sunday Meanderings

I realize now that my plastic post likely had the appearance that I was giving away stuff. Which would totally be in line with my stuff diet. Isn't if funny how you can write something in one way and not see how it can be taken differently? Perspective is a funny thing.

Nothing new regarding the house yet. The next step is to find out if the bank which is selling the house will replace the roof, repair/replace the water heater, and remove the water softener. If they will, and we have it in writing, we can move on to the appraisal. In the meantime, it's more sorting and packing. I've gotten many of the non-essentials packed in the kitchen so far. Next up will be books.

I had planned on having a yard sale last weekend, but then decided to bypass that. The excess stuff will get listed on Craig's List, be offered to friends/family, or go to a thrift store. Now I have to resort the yard sale items into one of the three categories.

In the midst of the packing and (hopefully) moving soon, I need to get our school plans together, as I intend to start this week. I've been working on it, but had to stop and clean off my desk in the family room. It's so much more difficult to work on plans at the dining room table, because I am continually having to pick it all up and then get it all back out. It's not a very efficient process. Last year, it was so nice to have it spread out on a desk where it could stay out. Problem was, the desk was buried in . . . yep, STUFF! It's pretty much cleared off now, so I'll be able to spread it all out in there.

We have had rain here like crazy for the past three days. Other than parts of town having some flash floods and such, it's been wonderful! July was the driest month on record since something like 1927! We desperately needed the moisture. It's actually been so chilly here that we had coats on, added a blanket to the bed, have been wearing long-sleeved shirts, and I even wore boots last night. In August. Crazy.


Plastic Anyone?

Maybe a few napkins?

Not so many cups

Free in a cereal box

And it glows!

Let's not forget the kiwi spoon

It sure is fun sorting and cleaning out cupboards for packing.


PhotoStory Friday: Lawn Mower

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I came home yesterday afternoon, only to find a young, new lawn mower at our house. Not only was he there, he was mowing my lawn weeds quite nicely. Chomp.

Usually our boys mow (occasionally, hubs still does), but they missed out on this one. Although their technique is a little different. They really haven't developed a taste for lawn, er, weeds.

This guy? He loves it. And we don't pay him. Although he leaves little tips for us on occasion.


I'm Packing

I suspected that I may still have been sleeping. Surely this phone call came in a dream, right? Our realtor called to say we are . . .

C O N T R A C T!!

Then I realized that I was actually awake. And had been for a number few hours. This was the real deal.

Wow! How exciting is that? Of course, there are still a few more things to get past, but God's brought us this far. In fact, He's done some pretty amazing things in regards to this house.

If you haven't been along for the ride, let me back up just a bit, so you can grasp how totally cool this is.

Our utilities became WAY too expensive last winter. And we were freezing very cold. Since I homeschool the boys, we're at home most of the time. Freezing did not make for a very pleasant learning environment. We already kept the thermostat fairly low and tried to dress warmly, but apparently that wasn't enough. After the annoyingly large bill, we dropped the thermostat to 59-60 degrees. Only when we just couldn't stand it, or company was coming over, did we turn it up. Well, then, and for a short time in the morning so that we could actually warm up enough to get moving out of a sound sleep.

So we made the monumental decision that ought to move before the next winter rolled around. After a couple of conversations here and there, we ended up getting approved to buy a house - January 22nd to be exact.

Since that time, we've looked at house, and looked at houses, and looked at houses. We even made offers on some houses - six, to be specific. We actually looked at the house we currently have under contract 2-3 months ago. But the day we wanted to take a look, it went under contract (with someone else, obviously). We continued with our looking process. The middle of last month, this one came up again. I called our realtor and found out that the previous potential buyers found another place and backed out of the deal. So we went to look.

Other than this house not being in our first choice of area to live (it's our second. And it's just over a mile from my sister and her family), it fit everything else we wanted. The right amount of rooms, size of garage and yard, and a good, works-for-us floor plan. So we made on offer. Number seven. The number of completion, Biblically speaking. On July l6th. Well, this house is owned by a bank, having already gone through the foreclosure procedure. It's been vacant for at least a year. There's some cleaning and minor things to be done, but it definitely has some good things going on, like newer vinyl windows, newer furnace, and a/c. Ceiling fans in the three upstairs bedrooms and in the dining room. Newer pergo in the living room/dining room.

Making an offer to a bank is very different from trying to buy from a private party. First of all, they don't respond within the somewhat standard 24-hour period. More like 3-5 days, business days, that is. So factor in weekends. The week after we offered, they agreed (verbally), but wanted to add a couple of things on an addendum. We decided we could live with those things, so we signed an addendum. And waited.

Then they wanted something else changed. So we did. And then we waited. Then it was one more thing. Because we did this so many time, I'm not sure if that was the last "one more thing" or if there was one more. Regardless, we signed one last addendum last week and decided that this would be the last-ditch effort. This was just getting silly.

Yesterday I got the call from our realtor that we've been waiting and waiting to hear - "You are under contract." Amazing, but true. That's not to say we're home-free (actually, that'd be opposite of what we want to be - we want to be home-ful, or something like that). There are still a couple of hurdles to get over, but with offer #7 and almost seven months later, we've gotten further than the rest. And honestly, this house fits better than the other six.

The other cool thing? We were going to pay to have the furnace serviced, but the way it worked out, the bank paid for it. How sweet is that? God's provision is so awesome. So the furnace was serviced today and it's in great shape. The A/C is good. The water heater needs a valve or else the entire thing needs to be replaced. There's a water softener that needs to be removed (leaking terribly and the water here isn't at all hard). The house also needs a new roof (we already knew that). So if they'll take care of those things, we're good to go.

If this had been a quick and easy answer from the selling party, our closing date was originally slated for tomorrow. But that's okay. God's timing is perfect. Better than what we think might be good. So we'll trust Him to continue to put this together.

In the meantime? I'm packing.

Disclaimer: That's not our house up there. I wish that were the setting, but the house is teeny tiny.
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