The world is but a canvas to the imagination...
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where does the time go?

Good to be back blogging again! It has been so crazy lately. I am a little loopy while writing this post, just stayed up all night to finish some wooden advent calendars that a friend ordered for Christmas gifts. I love these, I designed them for a class a while back and everytime someone sees mine, I end up making more. Good thing for me, because they are fun to make and how many do I need anyway! There is something about crafting all night long that is just fun! I got in some comfy pj's, brought down a treat or two and some DVD's. Lit a candle and just sat for a little while. It was so quiet. I surveyed my little domain. LOVE IT! That was the calm before the crafting storm! The night flew by, I watched all of my old favorites, then threw in some Monk. Watched it for a couple of episodes, decided that the whole OCD thing was a little to close to home. :-) I am proud to say that unlike Monk, I can carry my own antibacterial wipes, no Sharona for me. All in all, it was a great night, one that was badly needed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I know that we are supposed to be here for a reason and we really love Montana. However sometimes with choices come growing pains and one of those for us is the distance we are from our families. People still love each other, but you start to grow apart. Pretty soon, you become a little more like strangers, instead of the intimate friends you once were. I have seen it happen in our family and it makes me sad. I guess that it is the natural way that life goes, when you aren't hanging out together with those people anymore. It is life, and you deal with it, but it does make you feel isolated.
I am so glad that it hasn't happened with my sister. We can pick up right where we left off. She and I have been such close friends all of our lives, even including the times that I convinced her she was adopted because we found her in the alley behind our apartment building. I know it is a trite phrase, but we have been though a lot together, and just come out of it closer than ever. She has her birthday this week, and I can't believe that she is all grown up. I am glad that at least she has stayed close to us. Happy Birthday Sis!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good Bye

Photo courtesy of smartkids

Good bye old friends...

This almost killed me. I had no inkling of how difficult it would be to go through our children's books. We are firm believers in "pay it forward" and decided to go through our books and donate the ones that the kids had outgrown to our school. We have several teachers barely out of college and thought it might help them build their classroom libraries. They were excited, the kids were excited and I was...until we started. It was hard. Every book we picked up, seemed to have memories attached to it. Of course we kept the favorites, and most of the hardback books. We definitely were not left with a dearth of books, given that we have so many that we have broken more than one bookshelf. :-) But still, slow death by papercuts....

We are readers. My kids love to curl up together and read. We like to pick quirky books to read together as a family,and we all have our own favorites. We try to keep one night a week in the winter put aside when all we do is read our books, the kids and I in the same room, everyone sharing a bowl of popcorn and excerpts from our current reads.

I know all of that will continue. But still...It killed a little part of me.

I know that we kept the kid's favorite books.

I know it was a good thing to do, and hopefully teaches my kids the principle of giving to others.

I know that other little children will enjoy those books and hopefully catch the love of reading.

But still...somehow, super-imposed over that humble little box of books were visions of my chubby babies sitting in my lap learning to read those books. Time moves so quickly. Good bye old friends....


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Really!?! Can you say OCD?

Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself. We are getting our house ready for sell and thus painting out some of the stronger colors. I am very picky about how I paint and edge. The previous owner had painted the master bathroom indigo blue. I like color, but it was too much for me. We had painted it out a light oceany (yes that is a least in my world!) grey but you could still see where some of the indigo paint had barely splashed up onto the ceiling. Let's just say, it bugged me. Shon came home to find me painting the blue out with this teeny-tiny make-up brush. The look he gave me was so funny!

He thinks I am getting too OCD about painting the house....OCD...I just think that those are nice letters in the alphabet. Nice letters that are out of order, maybe I should put it on my list of things to organize...then I will highlight it so that I know that it has higher priority...Should I color code them so that they are easier to find, or maybe just file them under alphabet...hmm, maybe, I should do that right after this post instead of sleep...What am I doing still posting? I have to fix the letters! Shon, me OCD? I have know idea what you mean. :-)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Sometimes life hands us simple pleasures unexpectedly. Like little gifts we open them and with childlike unabashed happiness...and just plain enjoy them. With Shon-O's new job, he travels the Eastern Montana district weekly. Every couple of weeks, he needs to spend the night up there. We went into the job knowing that. What we didn't know is that his boss encourages him to take me with him sometimes. GIFT! How fun is that? Even better, since it it a work trip, lodging and food is covered. GIFT! We are close enough that we don't have to worry about the kiddos, GIFT! We have great friends and relatives in town who think it is fun to have them for the night, GIFT! Recently, I went with my cute guy to Glendive and Sydney. Guess what? There were several more gifts! I have a handsome man, with arms long enough to take this photo, GIFT!
Beautiful scenery, with that huge Montana blue sky. The building on the right was a really cool old church with weathered boards. I wonder what life stories happened inside? Hmm...firmly placed under, GIFT!

Quirky things you see at gas stations. Glendive had tonnes of things about dinosaurs and a huge dinosaur museum. Apparently someone had a sick (but funny) sense of humor and altered this statue. Laughter, GIFT!

We went to the first annual Tomato festival. It was held in the community center. There was a band, and tables set up with taste tests for all things tomato. (Surprise!) Salsa, sauces, juice and desserts. Who knew? There were also lots of homemade treats and crafts for sale. Sweet and simple fun, GIFT!

Why the key? First off, who sees this kind of key in a motel anymore? It was a clean, simple motel with the most comfortable bed. While Shon-O saw his people, I stayed in the room and....did NOTHING! I worked on some cards, watched mindless TV, and took a long shower. While I wouldn't want it to be my life, sometimes it is just nice to know that your family is happy, your hubby is doing what he loves, and I was just able to sit and relax, GIFT! I will probably go with him every other month, unless he needs me to teach at one of his trainings. Look around you, and it is amazing how many gifts pop out at you.

Monday, August 17, 2009


What to do in the car during those long hot rides? On a recent trip to Cowley Wyoming we played a rousing round of a little game mama likes to call "Paparazzi!" I think that they won this round. I have to be a little bit quicker with my picture takin' finger. Next time my pretties...I will win! :-) Toby impersonating the headless horseman
Alex as a rock head

Shon~O couldn't move since his hands needed to be on the wheel. I love a sitting duck target.

Joey is too quick for me....

Lissie impersonates a human pretzel in order to avoid her picture.
Let's see, practice now, 1...2...3..CLICK! Gotcha!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Scout is...

A while back in my "Back to Blogland post, I had mentioned the following item with the promise of more information to follow.

4) Many hours of prayer, and discussions, leading to my sweet hubbie following a dream, which means a location change for us ~ More to follow.

It has been a crazy couple of months, after 15 years in the heavy haul trucking industry as a sales broker, thanks to the recession my husband had the opportunity to change his job.

Security is never easy to give up. Never. However, sometimes we take a leap of faith and sometimes we are pushed into it. Regardless of the way we move into it, change can be brilliant.

I hated to be obscure in the blogland post, but we had applied for a job and were waiting to see whether or not Shon was chosen for the post. It was hard to do, because at the time we thought it might entail us moving. We decided to go for it though and were blessed in a way that we didn't expect. The original job was in Missoula, and midway through the process, they asked if we would be willing to stay in Billings. After deep consideration that took all of 2 seconds, our answer was YES! So the process went on, paperwork, background checks, verbal interviews, written tests and finally....(although to give them credit it all moved pretty fast) we found out.....

Drum roll please......Ta da! Shon is the newest District Executive for the Billings Montana Office. What does that mean? I have no idea! Loll! I don't know his exact duties at the moment, but I do know that my husband embodies all that is good about scouting and I am so proud of him. It isn't often we get to live our dream and get paid to do so! Congratulations Honey!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art rocks!

Way, way, way...(add a few dozen here) back in time, I went to school to become an elementary teacher. My specialty was to be reading readiness and learning challenges. Life changes our plans sometimes though and although I did my student teaching I did not end up in the classroom as an educator. Now, looking back, I am not sure what kind of teacher I would have made. I have been thinking a lot about this because as Toby gets older, Shon and I have talked about me possibly going back to work. Sooooo, 20 years after graduation, the question comes up, what do I want to be when I grow up? :-)
Many thoughts spring to mind, most of them involving either artwork or museum research. One other job appeals, but unfortunately I think that they are a dying breed. Art teacher. I love art. I love kids, I love to see kids get excited about art.
No matter the size of our houses that we have lived in over the years, we have always had a dedicated art space for our kids. I think that is why I can always leave my art supplies out without fear of them being touched.
In this house there is an odd closet type space at the bottom of the
basement stairs. We finally decided to make that the kids art space. There are all kinds of fun things in there. I don't care how messy it gets while in the middle of a project, after all, everyone should get a little messy when they are in a creative frenzy! Afterwards, the kids know that if they clean up, I will constantly restock it.

Here is the cute paper project that Lissie made the other day. Her cousin Natalie was over and they recreated themselves in paper. I know it sounds sappy, but it made my heart happy to see them so content and busy for HOURS making clothes, their dolls and houses. I loved how creative they were with layering paper, and using different textures for the hair, door, rooms etc. It brought back memories of when I used to play with paper dolls. Check it out.

Paper Lissie is going for the smoky eyes and bee stung lips this summer...
Livin' the life in a paper world.
Everything a paper preteen could want! I think that some of these items are not so subtle hints, like the paper laptop, cell phone and i-pod. :-)
Paper Lissie, I think she can only walk in one direction though....she has a huge wardrobe now, and although you can't see them, stylish undies and even a belly button.
A fabulous door.
Time to sleep....zzzzzzzzz....
Time to wake up!

Glue, paper, pipe cleaner, sequins, beads, glitter...doesn't it make you want to come over and play!?! ART ROCKS!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Worth Dying For...

A wise lady named Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

"Lest I keep my complacent way I must remember somewhere out there a person died for me today. As long as there must be war, I ask and I must answer was I worth dying for?"

A young Sgt. named Terry Lynch was buried yesterday. Only 22, he freely gave his life on June 29 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan when an "improvised explosive device" exploded near his vehicle. Do I know him personally? No. Although I was impressed by the number of medals he had earned in his young (and short life) None of those things moved me to blog. No, when I read about his death, the thought that struck me, was, here was this young hero, who by all accounts was very loved by both his friends and the men that followed him. A hero described by terms such as
"young man who was as serious about serving his country as he was playful and fun-loving in spirit."

"All-American boy"

"Hardworking. Playful. Trustworthy. Sincere. Outgoing. Dedicated."

"loved cars, grease, dirt, firecrackers, paint ball and mischief"

"I wanted to give back to my country," he said in explaining his decision join the Army."

"determination" and "dedication to his country"

Wow, that is pretty humbling. He had already served two tours of duty. He was only 7 years older than my Alex when he died.

After his funeral, the community was invited to be part of a flag processional that would line the streets all the way from the church the funeral was held at to the cemetery. My three younger kids and I went down with some of our big flags to participate. Alex unfortunately wasn't able to go do to health.

I was so proud of my kids, standing tall, my boys wearing their scout uniforms straight backs saluting the cars in the funeral procession. I saw the faces of his honor guard. I saw them salute my boys back. And I saw those men with tears rolling down their faces while smiling to see my children. I took this picture before it started, somehow, it didn't seem right to cheapen the moment and take them during.

Why am I blogging this? I am not really sure except that the poignancy of seeing my children standing there holding the flags so proudly touched me very deeply. I truly hope that I can be someone worth Sgt Terry Lynch's sacrifice.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dreams of Daring Do....

Remember when you were a child and your imagination was so vivid that daily life paled in comparison? With distant vision, you left behind the myriad mundane chores that filled your day and created a world, indeed many worlds, peopled with adventure, boldness, color and EXCITEMENT!
*Your bed became a covered wagon with the help of a sheet..(really, who needs them under blankets when they have so much potential!)
*Crackers became the manna that explorers live on...
*A closet was not a place to store clothing and other sundry items, but instead it was a time capsule, a hide out, a rocket into outer space...
*Outdated clothing, carelessly discarded by the older (unimaginative) set, became anything you needed, evening dress clothes, tawdry threads weakly glimmering, shine once again as ballgowns, pirate plunder and medieval finery...
*Cardboard, not a earthly and humble carrier of objects, but instead, the material of castles and playhouses, walls and sleds...

How do you build a dream? A few recovered boards, a few brand new boards, a plan and the imagination of a little boy....

Toby turned nine in June (gasp, my heart just skipped a baby NINE!) We mulled over many things that we could give him. He is a sweet but quirky child. (Go quirks! They add strength to your character!) Although he gets along with everyone I know and plays well in many different forums, other than basketball, he just doesn't care about many of the things that other little boys do. He already has a we were stumped until we thought about how much he loves pirates...and since every little boy needs a place to build imaginary empires, sail through the seas and have adventures beyond measure, that made us think...put them together and you have our birthday hide out designed just for Toby!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back to Blogland....

Whew, I am not sure about everyone else, but in our house, summer does not gently creep into our lives. It smacks us upside the head and says triumphantly "Baby, I'm Back!!!!"

Don't get me wrong, we love summer. May and June are just psycho months. Here is our life in a nutshell,
1)We went to Utah for Mother's day~more to follow
2)Cub Scout Day Camp preparations including, paperwork, set up, painting a 20 foot long pirate ship, day camp itself, take down, more paperwork ~ more to follow
3) Some fun and cool crafts squeezed in here and there including, cards, jewelery, canvases, and a fun mannequin that my s-i-l Colett gave me. (No C, it didn't end up with Lissie lol) ~more to follow
4) Many hours of prayer, and discussions, leading to my sweet hubbie following a dream, which means a location change for us ~ More to follow.
5)Challenges and fun with my church calling.
6)Building a pirate fort for my 9yr old's birthday ~ more to follow.
7)Looking up the meaning of sleep, since we aren't getting any! :-)

One of the projects I have been working on was sparked by one of my best friends Wendi. She showed me a site where words are spelled out by architectural elements. I am trying to spell out Ostler. Here are the letters I have so far. Not loving the T, any ideas?...Everything else my friends will have to follow in further posts. Happy Summer!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sometimes life doesn't go the way that we plan it. Usually when we look at the big picture, there is a rhyme and a reason to it. The hard part is looking at the big picture. There are many ways to deal with this. Prayer, scripture study, talking things out with someone you trust. I also firmly believe that you need a sanctuary. Just a little spot that you create that is totally you. My craft room is that place. When we moved into our house, the laundry room was designated as mine. Not just for the massive amounts of laundry that my family produces. (Really, I thought I had just 4 kids....) No, I picked it because it has a built in wall to wall desk, linoleum floors that were already a bit trashed (now I feel less guilty about paint) and lots of cupboards. It was cream and kind of a tomato soup red. It was cute and totally suited the personality of the friend who lived here before. Not my style though, so I have been working to transform it to my taste. I knew I would have to compensate for it being in the basement and not having a big window and having to get ALOT of craft stuff in a small space. I also wanted items that inspire me. Oh yeah, and it has to be done without spending any money. Hmm...tall order.
Here is what I ended up with. Starting with the walls, mixed some paint I had left over and came up with a grey/blue that is the perfect foil for any other color. Painted the cupboards white as well as the shelves for the wall. Hung some funky indigo blue curtains that I have had kicking around for years across the back wall to deaden the sound of the washer and dryer. Now comes the quirky fun factor...These pictures were taken standing in the middle of the room turning counter clockwise (skipping the door ~ boring!)

This shelf used to be in a florist shop as part of a hutch. They were throwing it away and a friend claimed it and gave it to me. I love the bird picture painted by my sister in law Colett, she is an amazing artist. Her blog is linked to should check out her art. :-) The rest are items that inspire me, either things I have made or found. Check out the sweet vintage table runner that I put on top of the dryer.

The drawers are actually the plastic ones you find at Target that I added paper to. They are sitting on a shelf that had five spaces on it with vertical dividers that Shon's Grandpa Howard used to have in his shop. He made it, which makes me love it even more. I added the wood medallions on the bottom and painted it. The items below are sitting on a narrow table that is desk height which is ~ not white! But it will be when the weather gets better. :-)
I added some peg board to hang the things that I use a lot. My scrapbook paper is kept close at hand, sorted to my own whimsical filing style. Easy access for those spur of the moment decoupage or crafting urges! The fun little wooden statue of the African woman is something that my Nana brought back from one of her trips before I was even born. I love the clean lines of it.
A few changes since this picture was taken, I was in the middle of a project so it was messy. I have rearranged the top, and put stuff away. I like things to be handy, but you also need room to work. BTW, is that not the cutest desk chair ever? Thanks to Aunt Betty, several years ago, she was getting rid of it and wondered if I wanted it. She told me I could recover it if I wanted to...don't want to. I love it just the way it is. (plus it is so comfy!)
Lots going on in this picture. I know that visually it is busy, but I have found that if things are not out and labelled, I forget to use them. I found these cute wooden shelves at the Robert's outlet for a $1 each. Sweet! I want to paint them white. They hold lots of little things in clear paint cans.

Wayne-O made that wonderful orange shelf for my 30th b-day. Yay way cool father in law! It didn't start out orange, but in it's current life, orange it is! I love the pop of color! The big white shelf is one that Shon hates, but I won't let him touch. When we were first married, someone gave us a gigantic water bed. We had a different bed that we liked. We didn't have money for wood to make shelves, so my sweet hubby cut up the waterbed and made me a bookcase. He did this with barely any tools. Just a saw and a drill. He looks at it and sees it's imperfections, but I look at it is and see his love. :-) Sigh. I like that boy!

I love this cupboard! Seriously someone threw it out! The kids and I found it on the side of the road. Made a few changes, there were country duck curtains instead of the metal and I changed out the knobs...Believe it or not, it was the same color as the indigo curtains I already had!

Little bits to spark creativity....The bottles are vintage food coloring. Some of the food coloring has dried into powder and is still in there. The little porcelain girl statue is one that my Nan and Papa gave me when I was 4. The owls just crack me up. They look so satisfied with life. The cute little shelf that they are in is actually an old cardboard box that was filled with mini-jam jars. Repeat after me...spray paint is your friend!

Sadly necessary, but not cute...maybe I should spray paint them orange? ;-) I don't usually want everything to match, I just like things to look like they are "friends" with each other, but in this case the room is so small that I have chosen some things as basics, like the white, grey and indigo. Then it was fun to branch out with pops of color. Welcome to my sanctuary.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

I just finished this book and absolutely loved it! I am fascinated by that time period in history anyway, but this book really brought out the simple dignity of the Japanese people during WWII in the US while the internment camps were being filled. There was such a fear of the unknown, and it is so sad to think of these hardworking citizens being judged by who their ancestors were. The racism was heightened by the negative feeling between many of the Chinese and Japanese immigrants. That being said, there is the "sweet" to the "bitter" and that is the way that children can see through the color of our skin, shape of our eyes and weight of our ancestry to what is truly important. Dignity, honesty, music, love and laughter. I almost never read books more than once, but this is one that I will read many times over. The joy outweighed the sorrow in it. The characters had many layers, so that you were able to understand the "why" of certain behaviors even if you don't agree with them. This would make a wonderful book group book. If anyone reads it, let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Disturbing signs....

In my head, I am not turning 38. When I think about age (which is rarely) I still feel like a young adult. However, reality can be cruel and truth can be brutal as I am reminded in small ways of getting older...wrinkles around my eyes, being "creaky" from arthritis when our weather changes, having a son old enough to drive and being called Ma'am. Sometimes, these reminders can be funny as well as brutal. I walked into my bedroom the other day and found these two items sitting side by side on the table under my window. (Thanks again for those cute curtains as a housewarming Colett...Love them!)

Hmm...sometimes looking good needs a little more help than just foundation! Made me laugh. We are fixing up our bedroom and I hadn't put everything back in the garage yet.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gettin' it done...Joey style!

I wonder what it is about 12 year old boys that makes their rooms so incredibly toxic?
*I know that my sweet child bathes...and when forced to he even uses soap!
*I know he wears clean clothes, I have learned from having an older son, to make sure to inspect his feet, and to reiterate that clean clothing means clean socks too. Socks were not designed to be worn until they can stand alone and aloof from the world~driving the rest of us away from their previously white cotton goodness by the rank scent emanating from them. *Bedding is changed and washed often ~ probably even more often than most bedding because of his asthma.

All of that being said, I want to let you in on a little truth.....

Boy's rooms are SCARY!

There are little bits of wire, string and tape. Creations line the dresser, items are stuck up on the board. Little collections, precious to the mind of a 12 year old, dot the room, roosting in odd places, an open drawer, on the desk, under the slips unheeded from hangers to puddle on the closet floor. When encouraged to hang these back up, it provokes a stare and an eyeroll when your son thinks you aren't looking. Written on his expression you can read his thoughts like a book...really mom! Only the mindless masses hang their clothes, I want to be an original!

It is amazing how many things there are, washers, crazy glue, clay, pencils that are worn to the nib...the silly eraser on the end is longer than the wood. Encouraging a 12 year old to throw these out provokes a wounded look and the timeless protest, "I have plans for that! It is part of a _______!" (fill in the blank)

I was unsure if I was making any progress convincing my son that he needed to clean his room before it was deemed unsafe for human habitation. Apparently he came around to my way of thinking. I sent him in to clean his room the other day. He called out that he needed to prepare first. Here is what he had in mind......A helmet, safety glasses, gloves and a mask....I think I agree!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Picture Challenge

A while back my mother in law challenged several of us to go to our 6th folder on our computer and pick out the 6th photo. I was wondering what kind of photo it would be and assumed it would be one of the kids.
I was pleased and surprised to see that it was one of one of my favorite men! I love this picture of Shon. I think that he is a hottie and even after almost 16 years of marriage, he can make my heart beat faster just by smiling at me like that. He has the most beautiful eyes (sorry honey if that isn't a manly enough word). His cheekbones would make any model green with envy and I love that his hands are in the picture.
They are the most perfect hands in the world. His hands are large, when I hold mine up against his, my fingers barely reach the end of his palm. His fingers are long and slender...but very strong. I love that they are the hands of a working man, calloused, scarred and tough, yet they have a gentle touch when needed. I have watched Shon use his hands to build things for our family, fix our cars, work in our garden to grow food, play ball with his sons, make crafts with his daughter, fashion costumes and props for Scout Camp, rest on a young man's shoulder while he was giving him counsel, play computer games with our children, bless others, fold reverently in prayer, cradle babies and tenderly touch my face when he kisses me.
I think that Shon is pretty amazing! He is my best friend and I couldn't ask for a better husband. Oh, there is one other thing in this picture that I love...You can't see it though because he is sitting on it! I think that Shon has the cutest little booty...but I didn't think you wanted to see a picture of it. :-)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Time for change

Whenever spring is around the corner, I get restless. I want it to be warm, I want to be able to go outside and not freeze, I want to be in my yard! Since I can't do any of those things, I start looking at things in my house that I can refresh and change out. I love the challenge of taking something old and reusing it to make it new, different and my style. Like everyone else, we also have to add cheap, cheap, cheap into the mix. Any changes I make right now, pretty much need to come from items I already have. I looked around, hmmm, I want to finish my mural, but thanks to Montana weather, it is way too cold to have my windows open and since I am using latex wall paint, that needs to wait....Let's see.....Mmmm....I know! Let's get rid of the off white carpet! Oops, guess not, that definitely wouldn't be free. :-) Looking around, my eyes came across the chandelier over my kitchen table. I actually like the shape, but someone in the 80's gave it a weird faux stucco, stone type finish, in beige, ivory and white. Now I know that taste is subjective, but I will file that one under E for Eeeewww! Besides, it has always driven me crazy because no matter how much I clean it, it always looks dirty. Upon closer inspection, I actually like the texture, it reminds me of wrought iron. That made me think of the 87 cent bottle of black craft paint I had in my craft room, so I got up on the table and it only took about an hour to paint it and change it completely! It probably would have been faster to spray it, but this way I didn't have to take it down. I love the results! Sometimes, change is good...especially when you can do it for under a buck!

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Toby loves to play basketball. Whenever the weather permits, he is out there. After school, I forget and start to pull into the driveway, he asks me to move the car so he can "shoot some hoops". He is really good too, easily sinking 7 out of 10 shots.