Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall Hayride Party = FUN!

My girls and friends having fun at the hayride

The girls beating the boys in the tug of war

Little girls gunny sack race - sweet!

The dangers of teenage boys and the egg toss...

The food tables groaning under the weight of much good food...

Hay wagon and tractor ready to go!

Did I mention that my brother-in-law collects tractors?

Jerry and the Boys entertaining us

We always set aside the fourth Saturday in September for the Fall Hayride Party at my brother-in-law's and sister-in-law's place in the country. Family and friends come from far and wide to join in the fun.

After days of rain, God smiled upon us today with a wonderful, sunny day. :)

There's always tons of yummy food, entertaining games, hayrides, live music, raffle drawings and all sorts of people to catch up with. I brought my usual dish: Brownie Mocha Trifle and someone told me as I set it on the table to serve that they had been waiting to eat their dessert until I arrived! It's my traditional dish.

Even though we were there for almost seven hours, the time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to go home.

Thanks Tony and Brenda for another great Fall Festival!

Looking Out My Window This Morning...

This is what I saw when I looked out my window this morning.

Isn't the world God created amazing? He surrounds us with so much beauty every single day. We only have to take the time to observe it.

What a gift.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cleaning Up & Clearing Out - Thanks to eBay!

I have discovered eBay and am really pleased with how well it has served me thus far. I actually began using (eBay's bookselling site) a couple years ago. Imagine my surprise when some textbooks that I could not give away were sold and I made a few hundred dollars! That should have been my first clue that I was on to something. Now I've decided it's time to unload homeschooling materials we are no longer using.

I'm not sure if you've picked up on this but I have an affection for books. Our home is full of them. My dear husband even included a library in the plans when we built our home and now I've got a lovely library FULL of books. Get that? After having shelf space to spare for five wonderful years, the shelves are full. I knew it would happen someday, but hoped it wouldn't be so soon.

If I'm going to be completely honest here I've got to confess that we have bookshelves in other places in our home as well and part of the deal for the library was that our home would not be littered with books in every nook and cranny. While the rest of us are readers, dear husband is not and he gets tired of being continually surrounded by books. What? You don't see the problem? Me either!

It's not as bad as it sounds. We have a lot of books up in the bonus room where we homeschool which is to be expected and then we also have three bookshelves along a wall in the family on our lower level that has the majority of our children's fiction. I love children's picture books but the sad fact is, as my children grow, I need to go through these books and part with some to make room for new reading interests. It isn't as if I'm selling first edition, signed copies. Most of our books have come from used book sales and I've usually paid a buck or less per book.

So, the culling begins. This is where and eBay come in. I've been listing books and homeschooling materials and selling them to families across the U.S. What a great tool to buy and sell items! While most of my inventory is homeschool related, I just listed a used Green Bay Packer football costume online tonight and have already gotten 20 views. No offers yet. I wasn't sure if anyone would even be willing to wear it because it's a #4 jersey. That's Brett Favre's old number for those of you who don't follow football. He used to be our star quarterback until he jumped ship for the Minnesota Vikings across the river. For those of us who reside close to the Minnesota border it was a painful season, seeing #4 on a purple jersey. Ugh! Anyway, we'll see if any Packer fans will even let their child wear a #4 Packer jersey. I mentioned that they might want to cover up #4 with first aid tape and make a different number or their child could be subject to verbal abuse!

So far I've managed to sell eight items in the last week or two and I've got another eight or nine items listed. I'm trying to plug at it bit by bit and list a few new items each week. My sister has been eBaying for a lot longer than I have and she's been showing me the ropes. If you're looking to clean house and get rid of some things that are no longer needed, consider selling them on eBay. You might not only declutter but get paid in the process!

Friday, September 17, 2010

IKEA and Mall of America

Don't ask me what happened but I got a wild hair today and took my children to IKEA and Mall of America for the afternoon and evening. Normally, I do not volunteer to go to MOA but in a moment of temporary insanity I offered to take them and I had two witnesses when I uttered the words so it was all but a done deal.

We live about 45 minutes from MOA and probably venture over there about two or three times a year. Enough to be somewhat familiar with it but not so often that it's not special. Everyone hustled up and finished most of their schoolwork early and we headed out on a gray, drizzly day. It was a good day to run errands and go to a place like MOA where you can't tell whether the sun is shining or not.

We went to IKEA first where I stocked up on candles and the little frother/whippers they have for only $1.99. You can't beat that price and it makes all the difference in the world when I'm drinking my protein mix mixed with milk. Without the little frother it's clumpy and tastes bad. With it it's creamy and yummy. I have a protein drink mix almost everyday - far too often for a clumpy, bad tasting meal so I "need" my little frother. They're great but they only last about a year, if that. I try to keep a spare on hand because at $1.99 apiece I can afford to and I like to share the love. I've already passed a few on to friends and family.

After IKEA we headed over to MOA and parked in the Arizona lot by Nordstroms. I am a creature of habit and when I used to go there when the children were younger I preferred to park at Nordstroms on the Arizona level because I could push my stroller right in through the skywalk, no stairs. We're long past the days of strollers to contend with but I park there just the same.

Nordstroms has a nice little Cafe that we always eat at when we venture to MOA. The food is delicious and the price is reasonable and the service is always great, a win, win, win! I had the chicken penne pesto pasta which my children so thoughtfully helped me enjoy. Aren't they sweet?

After we had our dinner and were ready to venture out into MOA we ran into a dilemma. Usually we divide and conquer with my husband taking our son to Legoland and me taking the girls to a few stores but alas, I was flying solo this trip. Since the girls are 17 and 14 years of age I thought they could shop and look together this time, sans Mom. Guess what? MOA has a parental escort policy on Friday and Saturday evenings, starting at 4:00 o'clock! If your child is younger than 16 they must be escorted by an adult 21 years of age or older. As a shopper I appreciate not having to deal with large groups of unruly teens but as the mother of two well-behaved teen daughters it was kind of a pain for them not to be able to walk around on their own. Believe it or not they did not want to go to Legoland and drool over the numerous Star Wars sets available.

They decided they would try their luck on their own and left Nordstroms ahead of Daniel and I but were turned back at the door. Apparently security is not so dumb and they have a guard at each potential entrance into the mall. So I walked the "contraband" past the guard and they opted to take their chances without me once they were "in". They had their cell phones so if need be they could join us at Williams Sonoma (my favorite store at MOA), the Lego store or Barnes and Noble.

We only stayed two hours which is about my limit at MOA. The girls had fun and managed to elude the security guards. I wandered and dreamed at Williams Sonoma and Daniel and I had a great time at the Lego store where he explained the rarity of certain minifigures from each set to me. As a parent I really am in the dark about these things. We sat and perused a few volumes at Barnes and Noble and by then I'd had my fill. We left early enough to be home by 9:00pm with everyone in good spirits. The dogs were glad to see us and we were glad to seem them. It was a good day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

So, Where Were YOU Last Night?!

Why do I ask? Well, because I had the joy of spending my late night and early morning hours in a local hospital emergency room! Ugh! Not that I'm bashing the ER mind you, it's a lifesaver if you need it. Get my little joke there, lifesaver? Pretty funny, huh?

I might have mentioned that my dad died of a cardiac arrest. If I talk about this too much it's because I was three and a half and I witnessed the event. It definitely made an impact on me. I haven't talked about my dad much but everyone tells me what a wonderful man he was. He used to be a grocery store manager in the same small town I live in and at lunch time he would help the kindergarten children cross a busy street in front of the store. What a guy! He also told his new son-in-law (as they were heading to California right after their wedding) that if he didn't take care of his new wife that he had my dad to deal with. I wasn't there but was informed that this was said in all seriousness with tears coming down my dad's face. Stories like that make me feel cheated, but I digress.

A side effect of early hysterectomies is an increased risk for heart issues later in life. Couple that with my dad's early death of a cardiac arrest and my high cholesterol and even with my healthy lifestyle, I'm at a higher risk for heart issues.

So, last night I had chest pain that lasted for hours on end. My middle daughter who took the CPR/AED class with me last summer insisted I call the doctor. I didn't want to because I knew, I KNEW it would mean a trip in to the ER. There isn't a doctor alive who would tell you to ignore chest pain. "Oh, that's nothing Mrs. _____, just ignore that chest pain, get a good night's sleep and I'm sure you'll be fine in the morning..." Yeah, right!

You know the rest. I was told to get myself to the doctor ASAP and like an obedient child I went, knowing that our HSA deductible would be met before I was through. I can think of a million other ways I'd rather spend that money, but what's done is done.

I had an EKG, drank some vile drink to take care of the problem if indeed it was GI related (it was not), had a CT scan which revealed my heart and the surrounding arteries look fine but showed a nodule growth in my right lung.

I learned a few things through all this: My blood pressure is great and I have a superb resting heart rate in the low 50's. The nurse commented that they typically see that in well-conditioned athletes, HAH! So, a 45 year old woman who walks everyday isn't in such bad shape after all, heh heh... I was also told by the man who operated the CT scan that I was his BEST PATIENT EVER. EVER! Well, I should have gotten a sticker or something for that but I plan to use this information randomly with my children just to drive them crazy. Turns out he works the night shift and usually has drunk people who throw up all over his machine so I guess my competition makes my new title an easy achievement. I don't care! Best CT scan patient in my community, that's me, got that people?

Oh, and if that wasn't enough, I have amazing veins as well. I already knew this from my earlier doctoring days. The nurses ooh and ahh over my veins with great regularity. They're large and right in the middle of the inside of my elbow crook, just right for sticking with large needles. Another title I will wear with pride: the lady with great veins!

All that poking and prodding left the doctor scratching his head and a diagnosis of Atypical Chest Pain. You know what that means? It means that they don't know what it is or what is causing it! So, for mucho $$$ I have earned myself two new titles, sacrificed a few hours of sleep and charmed the CT scan fellow with my sparkling conversation and wit.

Just so you know I'm no slacker, I was out walking with my mom and sister at 6:45 this morning. Dear husband thinks I'm crazy and he's probably right!