Clean Your House Before Christmas Challenge – Day 1

Christmas Clean

Even though we moved 7 months ago – and did a lot of stuff purging before and after the move – it needs done again!

It is amazing how fast new clutter can build up!

I took the challenge from Crystal over at and hope to get my house clean for Christmas in 5 days  (I need some room for all the new little present that will be taking up space :) ).

Today I had hoped to clean all 3 of our bedrooms, but wound up getting a substitute teaching job, so I didn’t get too much done.

I started with the cleanest room – my daughter’s – and helped her get rid of some old toys she didn’t want. We reorganized her desk and dresser so that she could play more easily. Best of all – I checked off 2 things on my “to do someday” list – things I had procrastinated about. I cleaned the carpet and changed water in the fish tank. Those tasks took less than 10 minutes, but the thought of doing them had been bothering me for weeks.


Tomorrow I hope to clean out my room and my son’s!

Are you planning to do any big cleanups before Christmas?




My 500 Words Challenge


I have a lot of big dreams and big ideas. I’ve written thousands of blog posts and articles in my head, but very few of them have actually made it into my computer and even less have been published.

Sometimes I feel frustrated about my lack of follow through, but I am committed to learning more discipline! Over on his blog, Jeff Goins offers loads of encouragement for writers (and really, for people in all walks of life). I’m joining his 31-day challenge to write everyday. I hope you will check back in all month to see if I follow through with my commitment! I have so much to share about my life! I hope that I can get some of those articles I’ve written in my head onto this column this month!

The 3 Greatest Gifts My Parents Gave Me


3 Greatest Gifts

My husband, daughter, brother and mom all celebrate birthdays in September .

I really enjoy buying gifts for them, and I try to spend a lot of time coming up with presents that each one of them will really love. However, this month I was really stumped. I couldn’t figure out what to get any of the adults on my list (my daughter is easy – if it is a horse or a doll she is thrilled.)

As I tried to think of ideas, I began to recall some of the best gifts that I had been given. Some material things came to mind, but (maybe because I was working with some lazy teenagers that day) I realized some of the greatest things that my parents had given me during my lifetime were character traits. A hard work ethic, generous spirit, and hope for the future are all things that are a core part of who I am. I am so thankful that they instilled these traits in me (even though I didn’t enjoy it at the time)!

Hard Work Ethic

Whether we were at a 4-H meeting, church event, or family gathering, my brothers and sisters and I were always taught to pitch in and help. We set up tables, folded chairs and cleaned up before and after dozens of events. Though we weren’t happy at the time, my brothers and sister and I always cleaned out our own calf stalls at the fair too.

Laziness is an epidemic among teenagers and I can’t help but be thankful that my parents made me work hard and look for opportunities to help others.

Generous Spirit

My mom was always willing to bake something for an event or bring a dinner to someone in need. She never counted the cost of the ingredients or time. My folks are probably some of the most generous people on the planet.

I am not nearly as generous as they are, but I always feel compelled to increase how much time and money I give to others.

Hope For the Future

My parents are big dreamers. When I was growing up my dad was always thinking up a new invention or idea to make owning a few cows and farming a reality. To this day my dad is always helping me come up with new book ideas or ways to start an at home business.

Hope can go a long way to help a person during hard times. I am so glad my parents inspired me to hope big for the future.

Though giving my kids material blessings is a great thing, I also hope to instill in them some great character qualities – gifts that will last them far longer than a new doll, horse or tractor.

Embracing a New Season of Life

First Day of School

For years I knew that the day was coming, but somehow it still  kind of snuck up on me too.  My youngest child just started kindergarten.

I have been a stay at home mom for over 9 years, so this is a major life change for me. I feel pressure to get a job, to keep the house perfectly clean and to make great dinners with all of this newfound time that I have.  (Yikes!)

Getting a job (one that doesn’t require putting my kids in daycare during school breaks) is a lot harder than I excepted. I tried to get a teaching job, but didn’t get one.

So, I am stepping out and trying to be a writer. It is a big step for this type B personality – being disciplined to work at home full time – but I am excited to see where it leads! Change is hard, but can be exciting too!

What new season in life are you trying to embrace?


Our Big Move to Texas

Rental House

Our new rental house in Texas

Wow, it has been a busy last few months. Life has been a whirlwind of life-changing decisions since back in November 2013 when I last posted. We never thought that we would move out of Kansas, but we are now living in Granbury, Texas – about 12 hours from family and friends.

It’s been a wild ride! It has definitely stretched my faith in God and caused me to lean into him during all the uncertainty of life in 2014. I’ve learned a lot of the last few months and can’t wait to share more about moving, lizards, floods and armadillos ….

Halloween Creativity Gone Wrong (A.K.A. The 3 Halloween Costumes)

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Costume #1 (AKA: your last minute costume hasn’t come in the mail so you are forced to wear your buffalo hat  to the library)

I had a great Halloween costume idea for my son this year – a puppy! How cute is that? I know it is one of only a few years that my 4-year-old will let me pick an outfit for him, so I thought this would be adorable. Plus, his sister was going to a cat. Cheap costumes – hooray! I knew I could do Halloween for under $10.

But, somehow, things went wrong, and got expensive.

I really did have good intentions. I planned the costumes in August, but unfortunately I delayed getting the actually pieces to make the costumes until a couple of weeks before Halloween. My daughter’s costume was easy. A $1 tube of black face paint, a $3 pair of ears matched with her black shoes, shirt and paints and she was done.

My boy wanted to be a brown puppy, but the first problem started when I couldn’t find a brown sweat suit at Wal-Mart. I still had time though. I should have looked online because, of course, my small town didn’t have a brown sweat suit either. To make a long story short, I

Anyway, to make a long story short, my last minute puppy costume looked horrible and the whole town was out of non-scary costumes for his age. I had nothing. I ordered a last-minute football outfit from Amazon, but it didn’t get here in time for his first 2 Halloween events.

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Costume #2. My boy did not want to be a cowboy (since he is one of those everyday he said) but, hey you gotta do what ya gotta do.

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Costume #3 It arrived at 8 pm Halloween Eve. At least it was in time for school!

Needless to say, next year will not include a homemade Halloween costume. In fact, I think I will be first in line to buy a costume at the store when they come out (that’s around Easter, right?)!

The Third Bridge (Ghost Bridge) Mystery

There is nothing like the month of October (or November!) for a scary story. I usually don’t buy into all the ghosts and hauntings, but I am intrigued by one spooky place – Ghost Bridge.

Apparently, I grew up only about 7 miles from one of Colorado’s biggest haunts and I didn’t even know it until recently. Unlike me, nearly every high school student from the Denver Metro area has heard about Ghost Bridge. Many come out at night to have parties there and look for a thrill.

Third Bridge, also known as Ghost Bridge, is located east of Aurora, Colorado on Smoky Hill Road (also called Road 50). The bridge is over Kiowa Creek on the Arapahoe and Elbert County line. It’s a nondescript, common bridge for the area. It’s located at the bottom of a hill and it can sneak up on you when you are coming from the west. The bridge is flanked by dirt roads on both sides and is surrounded by trees – trees that could look awful spooky in the middle of the night. There are also a few pump jacks nearby. Their odd drum-like sound could be frightening if you have never heard something like that before.

I’ve been across that bridges dozens or perhaps even 100s of times and I never knew that people have heard Indian drums there, seen strange fog come rolling in and have witnessed a ghost rider galloping across the bridge at night. Some teens have even claimed that they have heard girls laughing and playing there and have felt unseen hands trying to push them over the bridge.

According to legend, on June 11, 1864 the Huntgate Massacre occurred in the area. Nathan Huntgate, his wife Ellen, and daughters Laura, 3-years-old, and Florence, 4-months old, were scalped and killed by Indians. Today spirits from the massacre supposedly haunt the bridge.

Ghost Bridge has been the sight of numerous accidents including the deadly teen car crash in the summer of 1997. Two cars packed with alcohol, teens, and preteens (15 in all) sped down Road 50 that June, looking for a scare on the Ghost Bridge. The raced down the dirt road at nearly 70 mph instead of the suggested 25 mph. Both cars crashed on the bridge, killing 2 young girls, critically injuring a boy, and paralyzing one of the drivers.

A few months after the accident, road crews took 12 feet off of the hill on the west side of the bridge in an effort to make the area a bit safer.

Another story often shared about the bridge is the unsolved murder of Randy Wilson. Wilson was returning home from Bennett in June of 2010, but he never made it home. About a mile from Ghost Bridge his suffocated body and car were found.

A few years ago another teen accident connected to the bridge happened near Byers, Colorado. Though the crash wasn’t at Ghost Bridge, the teens in the car were from Aurora, out looking for the bridge. Obviously they needed better directions. They went at least 20 miles too far.

Last year, my parents were affected by the Ghost Bridge too. Some teen girls wrecked their car and crashed through my parents’ pasture fence when – you guessed it – they were out looking for the bridge.

I’ll admit that the stories about Ghost Bridge freak me out, but not for the reason you might think. The Indian massacre, spooky fog and horse riders don’t bother me a bit – it’s the thrill-seeking, first-time-driving-on-a-dirt-road, Ghost-Bridge-hunting teens from the city that really scare me.

How to Put Out a Grease Fire


Ever had a day when you learned some things you didn’t really want to know? I had a day like that today….. Here are 6 things I learned today (all which you probably already knew). 

1. Never put your electric griddle too close to the burners on the stove.

2. Water makes a grease fire worse.

3. Baking soda puts out grease fire, but if you don’t know that, you will use a fire extinguisher.

4. Once you use a fire extinguisher (even just a little bit) you cannot use it again.

5. Fire extinguishers are expensive to replace.

6. Cleaning up after using a fire extinguisher is not fun. Fire extinguishers make a big mess. But then again, so do plastic grease fires. I may be scraping black plastic off the stove and sink for weeks….


In all seriousness, definitely do make sure you know how to put out kitchen fires. Until today I never had to put one and didn’t really think about it much. I am so glad my husband had an easy-to access fire extinguisher in the garage by the kitchen.

Also, in case you were wondering, my beloved griddle was the only victim in this fire. Smile My life (at least my menu plan) won’t be the same without it.