Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

If you haven't received my Christmas card....check your mail again.
Now if you still haven't received it....check below. :)

Here's a copy of my Christmas Letter!

Warmest greetings to one and all!

Here’s our 2012 highlights!
January- The year started out with a family vacation to the Wisconsin Dells.  One of our top spots to visit again and again.  
February, we took in a 3 year old foster boy, who ended up staying until November.  He felt and still feels like part of the family.  We still get to visit him time and again.  In fact he is spending the weekend with us as I write this letter and we are overjoyed to see him again.  
March was big news for Bear as he lost his first tooth, 2 in a row in fact!  March was also big news for Stephanie as she turned the corner into 30 this year. 
April- Monkey turned 8 years old. My how they change!
May- Bear started soccer for the first time, he was excited to play, but it was chilly for most of the games. TJ an I celebrated our 10 year anniversary on May 25th.
June- We visited the zoo with some wonderful friends, and spent lots of time outdoors!
July was action packed.  We had a great annual trip to family camp over the 4th of July.  A week at Grandma Shirley’s to attend her churches VBS.  Friends from Wisconsin came to visit. And a family reunion in northeastern Iowa. Plus lots of great weather for us to swim in our pool.
August- Monkey started 3rd grade, and Bear started 1st grade.  We took our first field trip, to the Iowa State Fair, and the Omaha Zoo.  Great time away for a long weekend.  We attended many nights at the Steele County Fair.
September always starts with our Friesen family campout.  This year was very beautiful weather.  The boys and I got to take a neat field trip to the Fire Station.  TJ and I went to the GVB concert in Des Moines.  Somewhere around our 18th or more concert?  We tried counting but can’t quite remember them all.
October- My little Shaniac turned 6 years old!  We went on another field trip to the Reptile Zoo in town.  We love our field trips! 
November- We saw the GVB in Rochester, this time going with TJ’s folks, and Aunt and Uncle.  Always an uplifting time of music.  We spent Thanksgiving in Iowa, and the weather was gorgeous.  The kids went to the park to play.  Before heading home we spent an evening with the “quartet” at the Vance residence in Ames.  It was great to be all together again, and to see all the additions to the families since we last were all together.
December- We went on vacation with Brian & Lois Niehoff.  We went on a Cruise to celebrate both of our anniversaries.  Some unfortunate circumstances came our way, but with sunshine and great friends to spend the time, we made the most of it and had a relaxing time away anyway.  This year for Christmas instead of giving gifts we are making memories with all of the Wolf gang at the Wisconsin Dells.  Like I said our favorite vacation spot.  We are all looking forward to those great memories to be made.  They will last longer than any gift we could give each other.  I hope you have made some great memories this year, and may many more come your way next year!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Tree Craft

It's a Christmas Tree! :)

Check out the variation from 4 different children.

This was done by Monkey....I love how he put baby Jesus on the top of the tree instead of a star.

This one was done by bear.  He put baby Jesus on the tree too. :)  Love it.

 These two were made by foster kids....I find it interesting that my children did not put presents under their trees, as these ones did.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Well, have you heard the saying before?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder?
Well I wasn't really testing you all.  It just seems that way. :)  Life's been pretty hectic.

We've had an awesome foster boy almost all year.  He's 3....goes to preschool, is busy, loud, funny, and comes with other schedules and meetings during the day.  So that adds to the daily schedule.
We homeschool, and this year is two different lesson plans for 1st and 3rd grade.  I originally thought it would be the hardest year of all so far.  Maybe isn't the hardest year, but takes much more time, and a different schedule than we are used to.  On top of a busy 3 year old foster boy who was full time, with a schedule of his own.  In otherwords, life's been pretty hectic.
And when the schedule gets hectic the thing that has to fall out is the blog.  As much as I love to write on here.....I don't really get many comments from you all.  I mean, all the blogs I check have oodles of comments tagged to each and every post.  Don't get me wrong, I do it because I love sharing my things, not because I need comments.  But, hey comments are nice.  It's nice to know someone is actually looking at your blog, enjoying, reading it, learning something from it, using some resources from it, or something.  So after awhile I didn't feel bad about not posting for long periods of time.
But in the last month, people have verbally been asking me about the blog.  Super nice to hear from you!  Thanks for letting me know you read it, and that you are looking forward to me posting more frequently again.  It's does a heart good. :)

Look for some Christmas posts, my Christmas card and letter, details on our trips and much more coming your way soon!


Friday, November 30, 2012


Do you have Road blocks?  Caution Signs?  Stop Signs?
Are there any other kinds of signs, that you might feel are labeling you?

Some days I feel as though my "labels", without intention.....put up signs to others.  Maybe saying, "stay away" or "stop trying"....or maybe even something worse.

But what they are really meaning is;
"I'm bombarded."
"I feel alone."
"Why don't you understand?"
"I need someone to listen."
"I want someone to care."
"Is anyone out there?"
"Do you really understand?"
"Even if you can't understand completely, can you care enough anyway?"

Some days, I feel as though the more people I'm around, the more alone I become.
Does this even make sense?  Well maybe not in the scheme of logistics.  But definitely in the reality of life.

Do you have labels?  Either that were put upon you by others, by yourself, or your circumstances of life?

Do you feel like you're all alone out there?  Like no one else really gets what you are going through because no one else knows what you are going through?  Or no one else gets what you are going through because no one else is going through the same things as you?

Well, you don't understand because you didn't birth your kids.

Well, you don't understand because you don't work an extra job.

Well, you don't understand because you get to stay at home.

Well, you don't understand because you've never lost a child, or parent, or grandparent.

Well, you don't understand because.... the list could be numerous.

You're not alone.
Someone does understand.
God has put others in this world, so that we can share with one another our trials and struggles, and so that we can help one another when we go through these trials and struggles.  We just need to talk about it, invest time with someone.  Because there IS someone out there who's going through the same thing as you.  More than one even.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. (NLT)

I think what we need to be more willing to do, is share.

Not things.


Take TIME to call up that person and ask them how they are REALLY doing.
Find out the tried and true details of their life and pray for them.  Right there, on the phone.

Take TIME to stop by that friends house, if even for 10 minutes.  To show that you thought of them, took the time out of your day, and stopped by to say hi, and that you care about them.

Take TIME to be a blessing to someone.


It's not something you have.  It's something you make.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Multiplication Cards

A while back I made addition cards.

If you didn't already know, I try to be frugal in many areas.  So printing my own flash cards was an easy thing to type up quick when I needed them.

Click here to print them out for yourself.

Dimensions are written on the file to know how to cut them apart.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Pesto Chicken Pasta

4-5 chicken breasts
1/2 C flour
1/8 t salt
dash pepper
3 T olive oil

1 (6.25 ounce) jar pesto (just a bit less than 1 cup)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 C milk
1 C chicken broth
1/2 t sugar
1 T butter

1/2 (16 ounce) box bowtie, penne or corkscrew pasta

1. Cut your chicken breasts into 3 inch chunks and set them aside. 
2. Toss 1/2 cup flour, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper into a loaf pan. 
3. Heat a large skillet up over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and let it get hot. 
4. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour and then carefully place them in the hot pan. Turn the heat down to medium low.  Let the chicken get nice and golden brown on the bottom. Then turn them over and let them get golden brown on the other side. When the chicken has cooked through remove from the pan and onto a clean plate. Cover the plate with tin foil and set it aside.
5. While your chicken is cooking, boil some water and cook the pasta according to package instructions.  
6. Pour 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of milk (I used 1 %) into the hot pan you used to cook the chicken. Use a whisk to break up the crispy chicken leftovers in the bottom of your pan. 
7. Add just a bit less than 1 cup of pesto, and one block of softened cream cheese. Give it a nice stir. The cream cheese will start to melt down and incorporate into the sauce. Don't worry if it is chunky at first. 
8. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, whisking it occasionally. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, or until it thickens up a bit. 
9. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 T butter. If your sauce is too thick, add a bit more milk to thin it out. 
10. Serve immediately over hot pasta. The sauce with continue to thicken as it cools, so it's best to eat it soon after you make it. 

TJ really enjoyed this.  I just keep finding more and more things to make with this amazing pesto sauce!  Yumm...

recipe from Jamie Cooks it up.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SnickerDoodle Bars

2/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Add the flour and baking powder to the egg mixture and beat until well blended.  Spread the batter evenly in the pan.  In a small bowl, combine the white sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed.

These are like a mixture of cookie and coffee cake.  Not as light as a piece of coffee cake, thick enough to eat like a cookie, and soft and very enjoyable!  Try them. :)


Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like....


Yes, it's October.  And Yes, we've decorated for Christmas. :)

Check it out!

 Our nine foot tree....Oh How I love it so!
And there's even 2 presents under there already! :)

 The boys each had one of those little trees....then we bought the 2 foot tree last year on clearance.  Pretty soon we will have trees everywhere. :)

 Garland and lights on the railing.  The lights on the garland are a new addition this year. :)

My pencil tree in the foyer.  And as you can see I still have yet to hang the wreath on the front door.

Oh what a wonderful time of the year!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kitchen Tip v22

There are some things I make and don't cook the noodles before hand and they cook themselves while in the oven.  But I had never done that before with my manicotti.

Well, then I found this little trick.


Yup!  You heard right. ;)

I did not think you could put cellophane in the oven.  Well, I wouldn't recommend that by itself. :)  But if you cover the pan with cellophane and then top that with tinfoil,  you have a great way to lock in that moisture and use that moisture to cook the noodles for you.  This is a HUGE time saver!  I hope you enjoy this tip!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Randomness v41

We are all sitting around the dinner table having a nice conversation.
Bear yells out, "TOM & JERRY"
TJ and I just look at each other wondering what that was about....then he says,
"I just had to let that out"

Me- What happened to my yellow cloth for the chalk board?
Bear- maybe a chipmunk came in the house and stole it.

Monkey- Mom, I'm finally reading little red robin hood.
Me- Well, is it robin hood or little red riding hood?

Monkey was reading a flier about pig.  After reading about products that come from a pig like leather and soap he says, "Are you kidding me? My soap comes from a pig?  I may as well just go rub my hands on a pig to wash them!"

Me- Isn't it amazing what God did for us?  It's not just amazing, it's amazing grace!
Monkey-You mean like amazing grace baptist church?  That should be the name of our church.

Monkey singing- "rowin', rowin', rowin' on a river."
Me- It's rolling on a river....but I guess rowing would make sense. Ha.

TJ- If you do that too much your eyes will stay that way.
Monkey- That's an old woman's tale.
Me- it's "old wives tale"
Monkey- most of the things parents don't want their children doing they tell the old wives about.

Bear- We are just teasing you around.

TJ sternly saying to 3 yr old child- "Do you say no to me?"
3 yr old child....Looks at him with a hilariously confused look on his face, like the answer to this question is no, but I'm not supposed to say no to what?

Bear- Mom, guess what I wrote?
Me- I love you mom
Bear- nope
Me- mom is the best mom ever
Bear- nope
Me- mom is the coolest person in history
Bear- nope
Me- I want to eat cookies
Bear- nope
Me- Just tell me already!
Bear- www dot com
Me- Bwahaahahahahaha.....I would have never guessed that!

I was preparing burritos with refried beans, and my 4 year old niece says, I don't want peanut butter on my taco.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Snack time

Have you ever noticed that there is a snack time for almost every "children's" event possible?

This is actually very annoying to me.  I know what you're before you tell me how I mean I am, please let me explain a little.

First our schedule...We have one snack time in our house at 3:30.  That's it.  We do not eat except for the designated meal times.  Which are 8am breakfast, 12:30 lunch, 3:30 Snack, and 5:30 supper.
No bed time snacks or drinks, no eating away from the lunch table, no extra snacking while walking around or anything like that.

Second, you may or may not know that our children came to us when they were a little older....not a baby.  So right away we had to establish a schedule or routine out of nothing.  
Now given that information....our children also had/have eating troubles in their past.  Like never thinking there was going to be more food or enough food or food at all, or wondering when the next time you're going to get a drink is.  So from the start they would eat, or drink until they would throw up.  So from that background we had to establish limitations and we had to be their judge on if they were full or not.

All this to say, we had to stick to the routine and not allow any extra food from anyone else or at any other times.  This is very frustrating when every single event you want to bring your children to has a snack time.  So I was kinda of annoyed when we'd go to MOPS for instance....we LOVED going to it, but it's from 9-11 in the morning... we get there right after eating breakfast and we eat lunch shortly after getting home so why do my kids need a "snack" in between?  I think they can make it 2 hours without eating.  Then Bible school at night....we just got done eating supper, why do my kids need a snack 30 minutes later?  How about Sunday School?  Again we just came from eating breakfast?  Why do my kids need a snack 30 minutes later?  This is just not helpful when you are trying to help your kids figure out that they don't need to eat until they throw up, or that they need to establish a full button and stop eating, and that the stop eating sign means for a couple hours....not a couple minutes later you eat more.

Do you see my point of view?  I just had to throw that out there.

Besides that, kids get great freedom and comfort out of knowing a routine/schedule, and not having to wonder when the next meal is, but knowing the set times for meals and snack.  See my blog on routine for more about that.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Cursive Lessons

Join us in learning cursive together.
Click the links to find the original post and download the files for yourself.

Lesson 1  (a t)
Lesson 2  (c) review a t, word cat
Lesson 3  (d e) words ace & date
Lesson 4  (g) review d e, words cage, eat & dad
Lesson 5  review letters from lessons 1-4, words gate & dead
Lesson 6 (o) review g, d, words goods & coat
Lesson 7 (h) review o, t, blends th, ch, word catch
Lesson 8 (n) review o, d words hand & note
Lesson 9 (i) review n, g, blends ing, th, word thing
Lesson 10 review letters from lessons 6-9, words ant, did, hog, ice
Lesson 11 (y) review n, th, words thy, any, coat, chin
Lesson 12 (r) review y, words are, car
Lesson 13 (s) review r, n, words rains, sting
Lesson 14 (m) review s, r, words man, smart
Lesson 15 review letters from lessons 10-14, words mister, many, scar, year.
Lesson 16 (b) review s, h, words bath, boy.
Lesson 17 (j) review b, i, words job, major.
Lesson 18 (x) review j, b, words, exit, taxi.
Lesson 19 (p) review x, s, words pint, cap.
Lesson 20 review letters from lessons 16-19, words, eject, bigger, pajama, excite.

Click below to download the whole file at one time.
All cursive lessons.

Enjoy learning cursive!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cursive 16-19 review

Lesson 20

Review letters, b, j, x, p, practice words eject, bigger, pajama, excite.

Click here to download this file for yourself.