Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Thoughts on the Heels of the Election 2014

   For the past few months we've had our candidates under the microscope.  Trying to figure out who is the better person for the job.  Yesterday, Nov. 4, we spoke.  Many people are complaining slinging comments back and forth today.  Today is a new day and now instead of looking at the candidates, it's time to look at ourselves.

 "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."~ John F. Kennedy.  

   Today, look in the mirror and ask what am "I" going to do today?  How do you live your life to make the country better?  Is your money spent on American made?  Do you recycle or re-purpose?    Ask your boss what you can do to get a higher wage.  Don't just ask him/her about a raise....ask what YOU can do.  Have you been to Church to thank God for what you do have and not ask him for what you want?  Many times we confuse want and need.

     Watch how you're acting today...your kids are watching you.  Mark heard on the radio comparing mud slinging campaigns to kids bullying.  When you think about it, where do these kids learn it from?  Indirectly I've been called stupid and uneducated on recent facebook posts because of how I voted. Hmmm...something to ponder.

   As a business owner I know if I slack at my work the orders slip.  But if I'm working hard, the orders come in.  So I know sitting around waiting for things to happen doesn't work.

   We have 12-15 months before this all starts over again.  Today is ours and decide what YOU are going to do today.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Adolescent Eye Syndrome, A Saturday Morning Funny

     Let's talk mom to mom or mom to dad about a situation that I'm sure you've all had to deal with or maybe you're on the brink.  Adolescent Eye Syndrome.  I came up with the name because I've seen it so frequently in kids.  From little on they watch you work around the house/yard/farm and as they age they'll start to help.  Then they get to the age that they are finally able to work on their own doing certain tasks...that's when it strikes... adolescent eye syndrome.

     You've had these conversations...

Mom: Please clean your room.
Child: I did.
Meanwhile you're looking around, knowing you've seen this child work next to you...they know how it's done.
Mom: Are you blind?
The child seems perfectly happy that they now have created a path to safely walk through their room.
That night during your evening prayers you thank God for bedroom doors and the ability to close them.  

Mom: Please wash the kitchen counter.
Child: I did
Meanwhile, again, you look around as see flour pushed under the mixer, scraps pushed from the counter onto the floor.
Mom: I need to make an appointment to have your eyes checked.
This child again seems perfectly happy that they now have created a space for them to immediately make a snack, there for leaving the counter a mess once again.   

     Only parent with children will know what I'm talking about BUT there is good news.  Your child should outgrow this within 10 years.  I've seen rare occasions taking 20 years or more but that's rare.

     There are a few things that you can do as a parent to help your child through this stage in life.  Don't do their work for them.  This is very important and the ONLY way the child will see the errors of their way.  Do it when they aren't looking.  If they see you doing their work they will slowly start leaving you more and more to do.  As hard as it may be...give them praise.  I really struggle with this one.  It's hard to overlook a messy area especially when the rest of the house is clean.  And most of all pray for your kids.  Because some day they may own their own home or have an apartment.  

     So the next time you come to my house, remember I have kids that are struggling with Adolescent Eye Syndrome.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Canning Barbecue Sauce

   Many times people ask me about how to can this or that, why do I do what I do, etc.  This post is about barbecue sauce.  I can give you 11 very good reasons I can many things myself...they are our children.  My canned goods are no salt, no preservatives, no red #40, no sugar or very little and canned in glass not plastic.  You know as well as I do when the big companies take all of that out the price of the product goes through the roof.  So you can't compare my canning to the cheap things in the store.

     This sauce comes from The Complete Ball Book of canning...not the blue book.  I multiplied it by 10 to fit in the nesko roaster.  You'll need additional pans to keep cooking down the tomatoes.  I started off with 2 bushels of roma tomatoes from our garden.  The kids and I ran all the tomatoes through our sauce master and poured the sauce into the waiting pans/nesko.

     Sometimes things can get a little messy as you can see Karlie got a face full of tomato.  :D  Good times in the kitchen.  Cooking down the tomatoes could take 24 hours.  Please turn off burners and unplug the nesko if you are leaving the house or going to bed.  You'll be amazed as to how much will "cook off" even when it's not cooking.  Tomatoes stay HOT a long time.

     I add the spices when cooking is getting closer to completion.  I'll grind up the onions and garlic in a blender with the vinegar...makes life so much easier.  Add any sugar at the very end.  The sugar will make your tomato products burn easier so I wait until the end.  With this recipe I only added 2 c. of brown sugar...not all 20 c.!!!  Our family loves liquid smoke so I added some while cooking.  The aroma that filled the house had all of us drooling.

     So at the end of the day we just had to try our new sauce over meatballs.  It is spicy as I dumped in 1/2 c. of red pepper flakes but the recipe called for more when multiplied by 10.  It wasn't too bad and the taste was great.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

3 College Girls in 3 Different Schools....What's a mom to do?

     This year we have 3 girls in college and they are at different schools.  Each college does things a little different with "thinking of you" type boxes.  One school does finals boxes which can get expensive but the girls say they are loaded with lots of goodies.  That is twice a year.  Another school does "occasion" boxes which are cheaper but we like to treat all of our kids the same.  Last year to make things even this student got numerous boxes to even everything out.  The final school is grad school...something new to us and we don't think they will do anything.

     The younger kids and I thought about this and decided to do our own "thinking of you" box.  We plan on doing it once a month and sending it out around the 10th.  Last night the kids were writing letters to their big sisters and  helping me shop for goodies.  Using the USPS Priority Regional Rate A box makes shipping very economical.  Each of the 3 boxes cost me under $6 to send.  I added a link to where you can get these boxes because not all post offices carry them.

     This is our September box...2 packages of microwave popcorn, a package of cheesy broccoli soup, a can of instant flavored cappuccino and letters from home.  We are already planning out the box to send in October.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hannah's Graduation from St. Norbert's

Ah, graduation day only happens once unless you decide to go back to school.  A special day that is celebrated with family and friends.  Little did Hannah know was that I talked to her Auntie Heidi 3 days before only to find out they had a few days off and relaxing in WI.  Through our talk she explained how they would go home right past St. Norbert's.  So I brought up about surprising Hannah with a visit from them.  Wasn't sure how things were going to unravel until that morning.  Little did I know my mom and step dad were there too.  I had brought up our Sunday dinner to have in Hannah's apartment so we had plenty of food for everyone.  When they stopped in it surprised everyone and then it got loud.  Meanwhile we were waiting for Jacque to come and bring her boyfriend, which we still needed to meet.  When we saw them walking up to the apartment Mark and I hid.  BIL Ed and Heidi introduced themselves as Jacque's mom and dad.  I think Jacque was a little blown away because she had no idea that they were stopping by.  Yeah, that poor boyfriend got a intro into the family he'll never forget.  Ed, Heidi, Mom and Jeff all had to leave before the actual ceremony as they had a long drive across the state to get home.  I think it's safe to say that was one of the best 30 minute parties ever.  

The rest of this post is a pictorial of the day.  
Everyone before Jacque and Rusty arrived.

Christopher Ayers gave the commencement address.  He is a graduate of St. Norbert's and works as a freelance character designer in LA.  He's worked on films like Star Trek, Austin Powers just to name a couple.  Through his whole speech he had some of his artwork displayed on the big screen that correlated to everything he was great.

Poor Preston couldn't make it through graduation so the girls laid him down in the bleachers for a nap.  

Hannah receiving her "cover" from the President of St. Norbert's.  This is when 12 Grahn's let loose with cow bells, whistles and voices...she heard us.  :)  

The final blessing on the graduating class (524 students).  I thought this looked rather impressive as 4000 guests all had a hand up.  

Myself, Hannah and Mark

The 4 middle girls, Heather, Emily, Hannah and Angela

Our St. Norbert Alumni, Heather and Hannah

Preston trying on the cap.

Olivia giving it a whirl.

Karlie trying it on for size.

And Ethan who will probably spend the rest of his life in school...he loves learning.

In the end looking back, it turned out to be a great day.  The weather was very comfortable and traffic wasn't bad.  Hannah received that day her BS in Biology and is on 2 waiting lists for Vet school.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

It's My Opinion

    Recently I was called "opinionated" and at first it really bothered me but after thinking about it and about my life journey I have a right to my opinions.  I'm 48 years old, have 11 kids and 1 grandchild, live on a farm, homeschool our kids, divorced parents and now step parents, own my own business so yes, I may have a few opinions.  I don't know everything and keep trying to learn.

  One thing I've learned on our 17 year homeschooling journey is to READ.  Read multiple books, articles on subjects.  Many schools give you a textbook per subject.  The problem there is you are reading one person's opinion and not allowed to form your own opinion.  You are being taught to believe what the author wants you to believe.  Our way of learning is more classical where you learn reading various book from various authors to form your own opinion.  I'm not telling my kids how to think but teaching them to think.  To form opinions on multiple things they've read pro and con.  

   The past few years I pick a subject and buy myself books to keep learning.  One year it was homesteading, then onto various farm animals.  Then that lead to herbs.  I've gone so far as to read cookbooks.  This past winter was religion and theology.  Yeah, I kind of got deep this past winter.   I even have a Protestant Bible and a Catholic Bible to be able to compare. I went so far as to visit with our Priest for a couple of hours to confirm what I was reading.   Recently I saw on facebook an interesting quote...If you stop asking questions you stop learning.
My thinking chair
   Opinions are not only formed by what you read but personal experience.  My FIL would say "Experience is the best teacher."  One winter we read a bunch of books on poultry, we read everything we could find.  Then we bought chickens thinking we knew what we were doing.  Then came time to butcher...we quickly discovered we knew nothing.  So then we found a couple of neighbors that were able to teach us.  That is a day our family will never forget.  

    Being a mom for 30 years with 11 kids I have seen changes all over the spectrum.  Styles of cloth diapers have drastically changed then throw in the different fabrics.   From a few vaccines to multiple vaccines within a short amount of time.  When our oldest was born we read Dr. Spock and asked lots of questions.  There was no internet.  Our youngest is 5 and I find myself reading so much more.  You'd think with my experience I wouldn't need to but things are changing and you get one shot at doing the right thing for your child.  I asked my MIL advice all the time and she'd chuckle and say "you married my baby so it's been a long time since I had a baby"...LOL  Never hurt to ask though.  

     Having seen divorce upfront at 17 years old is much different than 7 or not at all.  So that has made some of my views on marriage probably different than yours.  I actually thought that when you're married you need to fight.  So I was always trying to fight with Mark and he'd never give in to me, which then made me madder...LOL  I think back at that time and I'm very blessed that Mark taught me a new way of marriage.  Since then we don't fight we talk things out.  It was a very rough beginning that lasted about 10 years.  Mark came from a strong marriage family and I grew up seeing things and hearing things that I probably shouldn't have, but that is what makes me who I am today.  I put my energy now into fighting for our marriage and family and not against it.  

    Starting my own soap business began way back and I noticed all of our kids had sensitive skin.  Plus, when our 2 and 3 year old fed our nine month old a half a bottle of shampoo and I called the poison control center and they didn't know if there was anything harmful in that shampoo...that doesn't sit too well with this mama.  That's when I began my search with the ingredients in products.  Which then lead to me making soap for the family.  

     So next time you hear someone's opinion or see it posted on facebook before you speak...think.  Read the article that they posted.  You need to gain information on both sides before you can make an educated comment.  Think about how this affects you, future generations and all of mankind in general.  Think about the morals you grew up with and if this goes with your upbringing.  Finally, think about if this pleases God.  When you're standing at the pearly gates will you be confident with how you lived your life or will you be the one shaking in your boots?  

   With so many "hot topics" in the world today and so many opinions I'd like to conclude with the poem The Dash  The first time I heard it was during a homily at our church last fall and it's still in my mind.  Just because you have a diploma or degree doesn't mean you are done are just beginning.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Sister Makes me Laugh, Cry

There are 3 years between my sister, with myself being the oldest.  As with many relationships we'd grow apart from time to time.  Funny thing is as we get older our relationship has grown stronger.  We both own our own businesses, me with a big family and her with a step child.  She lives in the big city and I'm on a farm.  So our worlds at times seem so different from each other but yet we never forget our bond.  
Heidi on the right and myself on the left this past Christmas

Today I received in the mail the most amazing gift from Heidi.  It was so great that I decided to dust off this blog and share it with everyone.  In the box were seeds and a poem she wrote for me.  I asked her permission to share it.  It would make the most amazing gift for any mom at any time of year.  

A Woman's Garden by Heidi 
A woman's garden bed has all her flowers in it
Each planted with only the highest of hopes of what will be
She smiles...
All are tended to, nurtured and cared for
Growing strong, they can weather any storm
Each beautiful and special in their own unique way
She loves them all...
A Mother's bed has all her children in it
Each born with only her highest of hopes of what will be
She smiles...
All are tended to, nurtured and cared for
Growing strong, they can weather any storm
Each beautiful and special in their own unique way
She loves them all...

She included flower seeds/bulbs that correspond with each of our children's birthdays.   I already have a plan going on in my head what I plan on doing...that will be another post.   

Thanks so much Heidi, you made me cry today and it wasn't because I had more flowers to plant.

I Love You!