Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Summer Spent the Right Way!


We spent our entire summer outside, the way all summers should be spent.  We unplugged from all but the most basic of technology and had an absolute ball with our family.


We did a LOT of roping. 
The kids are getting better every week.




The kids competed in rodeos,  horse shows,  ranch events, and trail classes.







They had a saddle on their horses nearly every day this summer...


except when they rode bareback.



We rode through the most gorgeous countryside around...our mountain backyard.





And when we could pry the kids off their horses, we hiked mountains.




And when we weren't hiking mountains, the kids were showing their steers.

And when they weren't showing steers, hiking mountains, riding trails, going to shows and rodeos, or learning to rope, they were checking cows, irrigating, and filling stock tanks.... you know.... the "mundane" stuff.


It's going to be hard to drag the kids back inside after an epic summer like this, but it's once again time to start another year of homeschooling.  We still have many things to look forward to including the county fair and a few more shows, but those things will have to be pushed to the weekends as we crack open our new school books and begin a different type of learning than what is offered to a kid on the back of a horse in summertime.  Instead of creating their own adventures, they will have to read about someone else's in the pages of books during the week days.


Soaking up the last few moments of summer,

Nell


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yes, we bought a car.



We finally did it.  For the first time in our marriage, we bought a car.  Yep, we sold my big beast with the 8" lift and bought a car that we could nearly drive under it.  We went from owning 2 diesel trucks to having 1 truck and 1 car.

We put some serious miles on our vehicles, and our fuel bill was larger than our mortgage.  To some people, the solution is a no-brainer, but we have a lifestyle that necessitates having trucks. We haul cattle, horses, feed, dogs, etc. and we live on a mountain with lots of snow, and have lots of dirt roads.

Reluctantly, we decided to try owning a car, purely for the fuel savings, and I'm happy to report that after a mere 3 weeks of ownership, we have saved $440.  At this rate, we'll be saving at least $550 a month in fuel.We juggle the car and truck between us and whoever needs to pull a trailer or get feed that day drives the truck, and the other person drives the car.

Here's what I'm loving so far:


  • We can park something in the garage for the first time ever.
  • I get rock-star parking at Walmart
  • I don't have to turn the engine off to give my order in the drive-thru.
  • I can fit in the drive-thru lane without running over curbs.
  • I can sync my phone to the car
  • My mother-in-law can hop into the passenger seat without needing a step stool
  • My groceries don't get hay on them or blow out the back anymore
  • I can take it through the automatic car wash
  • I can fill the tank for less than half the cost of filling the truck
  • I can go 3 times farther on a gallon of gas
Here's what I'm hating so far:

  • I have to take it to irrigate and check the cows and it seems too nice to drive down a 2 track road.
  • I feel too close to the ground.
  • I feel vulnerable and frail in this little thing.
I'm not sure if car ownership is going to work out for us or not, but a projected savings of nearly $7,000 a year in fuel makes me want to at least give it a shot.  Lots of our friends and family are skeptical that this is going to last, but for now, I'm pleased as pie about our savings.


Laughing all the way to the bank,

Nell

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3 Skincare Recipes for You

I am not a hippie.

That's what I tell myself every time I make these recipes.  I am the world's biggest skeptic of all home remedies, but I was desperate to find something that helped my family after years of dropping big bucks on products that weren't helping.

First up is a recipe for a body butter that has completely eliminated the dry, bumpy skin in our family, and subdued the eczema flair-ups that a few of our family members with sensitive skin are prone to having.  I love this stuff!!! A little goes a long way, and if you use too much, you might feel a bit greasy.



Whipped Peppermint Body Butter

1 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup almond oil
1/4 cup  pure 100% shea butter
2 tsp. Vitamin E oil
10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil *

Heat the coconut oil, almond oil and shea butter in a small pot until just melted.  Remove from heat and add the vitamin E oil and peppermint oil.  Cool in the refrigerator until it's starting to thicken to a pudding consistency and then whip it with a mixer. Place it in a jar, and keep it in the bathroom.  I have never had any problems with it melting, but if you live in a really hot place, you may have to refrigerate it.

* We use peppermint oil for its soothing qualities for eczema, but a few drops of lavender would be a nice substitute.



___________________________

Next up is a recipe for deodorant. I was a TOTAL skeptic on this one, but my husband begged me to try to make something for him.  He works so hard outside everyday, and sweats like crazy!  We have been buying him prescription strength deodorant for years, and it was really expensive...not to mention that it didn't work all that great.  After seeing a few recipes online, I decided that we really had nothing to lose by trying it, and....IT WORKS! It's really cheap to make, lasts a long time, and did I mention that IT WORKS?!? I can't believe it, but my husband has been using it for 5 months, and his sweating has decreased exponentially. Plus, he comes home from a long day of hard work, and does not smell bad.  This deodorant doesn't really smell like anything.  It has peppermint oil in it because of its anti-bacterial properties, but after an hour or so, you can't even smell that.  It just has a complete lack of smell. It doesn't take much, but should ideally be applied after showering, and once a day.  The beeswax in the recipe will stain the armpits of tight fitting shirts over time, so I'd use something else if you have a tight fitting shirt on.  My husband's old deodorant did the same thing, so he's used to wearing an undershirt under his nice shirts anyway.

I wear the deodorant, too, and after an hour long aerobics class, I had my best friends give me the sniff test. I passed with flying colors!!! It's a miracle.  I was really used to wearing deodorants that smelled girly, but after reading about the junk in them and how it could be bad for my body, I decided that it wouldn't hurt to switch over, myself. Plus, I always got a bumpy razor rash when applying them after my shower.  Not anymore. My underarms are smooth just in time for tank-top season.

Here's the recipe:


Deodorant
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup  pure 100% shea butter
2 Tablespoons beeswax pellets
2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 Tablespoons baking soda
5 drops of peppermint essential oil

heat coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax in a small pot. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cool until it starts to thicken and pour into empty deodorant containers. (It will harden quickly, so be sure that you are watching it carefully and don't walk away.)

1 recipe fills about 1.5 deodorant containers, if they are big, or 2 small containers.  I just kept our old containers when the deodorant was gone, and I wash and re-use them.  It makes application so much easier than making it into bars.








_____________________________

Here's a lovely sugar scrub recipe that I adore. I use it once a week to exfoliate in the shower, and always come out feeling like I've been to the spa.  It makes my skin soooo smooth.  I use a Doterra essential oil mix in it called "Serenity" and it's like having an aroma therapy session in the shower with the hot water.  It's very relaxing.




Serenity Sugar Scrub
1/2 cup of sugar
1 TBS olive oil
8 drops of Serenity essential oil, or any other oil that you enjoy the smell of.

Just mix and put into a small plastic container. Apply it to skin and scrub away, then rinse.  Beware, your shower floor may get a little slippery with the olive oil.




Hope you enjoy these recipes!  My skin has never felt so amazing!


Nell





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Top 10 Things That Kept Me From Blogging

Hello friends! After taking an un-planned 2 month blogging hiatus, I'm back at the keyboard.  Thank you all so much for your kind emails. We are all doing well, and I'm sorry to scare you with my abrupt pause in writing.  It seems like when I have all the time in the world, there's nothing to write about, and when my life is full of adventures, I don't have a free minute to write it all down.

I had to put my Super Woman cape on for a few months to help my family get through our busiest season, and I had to let some things slide so I could focus on the important stuff.

Here's a peek at the fun and chaos that has kept me from the computer the last few months:

(Note: Many of these pics are straight off of my camera phone, but it's better than no pics at all, right!?!)

1. Calving Season! I have written so many times about this over the years that you know the drill. I love the babies, but hate the stress.  Thankfully we had lots of help from my in-laws and had a smooth season this year.





2. Homeschooling 3 children... (Just 1 week until summer break. WoooHoooo!!!)

3. Supporting my husband as he took 2 very tough and demanding senior level college courses in addition to his full time job. I helped him study, and edited 8 papers that he had to write... yes EIGHT of them in 2 months. YUCK.  By the way, I learned a wealth of information about Classical Economics, and I never knew that such a seemingly dry subject could be so intriguing and relevant in today's world.

4. All three kids started baseball/ softball on three different teams, at three different fields, in three different locations, at 3 different times. Ugh.

5. Working with our show steers, attending livestock meetings, and going to showmanship clinics


6. 4-H Horse Meetings, presentations, and riding, riding, riding.



7. Violin Lessons - Hard on the ears, but they sound a little better every week.


8. Church Women's Retreat at a beautiful ranch in Southern AZ- What a much needed break from my hectic schedule!



9. A trip to the big city with my husband for a date night at a Lady Antebellum Concert.  We were front and center for part of the concert and it was amazing!




10. A gorgeous weekend get-away to Sedona to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday.  We hiked, ate good food, and celebrated with the whole family.






10.5.  Training a puppy. (Does that count?) With all of Tater's antics, teaching him to obey seems like a full- time job. Hahahaha. It's a good thing that he's cute, because he's also a handful.



I have left out so many things, but this is a small glimpse into our busy season.  I'm hoping that with the end of our school year, I will have much more time for writing and reflecting on life.  I have so much more I want to share with you.



Living in the Moment,

Nell












Thursday, March 13, 2014

Photo Challenge Days 28-30

I just realized that I never posted the last 3 days of the photo challenge on my blog. I promise I did them all very promptly on instagram!

Day 28: Oldie But A Goodie- Taken 16 years ago when my old dog was just a pup, and all the two of us needed were wide open spaces.  Since then, I've added a husband and three kids, and lost my mom. I've had a lot of adventures with that old dog!


Day 29: Tails- I love piggie tails!



Day 30: Sunset


Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I'm Terrified of Technology



I used to think my parents were over-protective for making me call home all the time. But now that I have kids of my own, I realize that it's awfully rough to have your heart walking around outside your chest.  I'm certain that I gave my parents more than a few gray hairs over the years from worrying. Now I'm getting a few gray hairs of my own.

This year we'll have a teenager. Inconceivable, I know.  As the kids have grown older, we have realized that they need a cell phone so they can call us from sports practices, club meetings, and church activities. The problem is that with all of the new technology, there comes a whole new host of challenges; challenges that I NEVER had to deal with when I was a teenager. 

I thank my lucky stars that I grew up before the era of smart phones and cyber space.  I'm grateful there was no Facebook or Instagram to capture my immaturity for all the world to see.  It grieves my heart to see young girls posting inappropriate pictures on the web.  I wince when I read the status updates from teenagers who lack self control.  Where are their mothers? There was no cyber bullying when I was in school. People didn't base their self-worth on how many "likes" they got on their posts, or how many "followers" they had. It takes a tremendously grounded young person with a deep sense of value to look beyond the shallowness of social media and remember that their worth isn't tied to their online popularity.

I often hear of teens sending  pictures and texts to the person they are dating, only to have them forwarded to everyone in school the minute that they break up. It seems like there is a much higher price to pay for kids' lack of discretion, today.  It's terrifying. With the push of a button, people have full access to the internet through their smart phones.  We are losing an entire generation of young men to internet pornography addiction. The statistics are mind-boggling!

What can we do to help our kids navigate all of this technology without stumbling into a myriad of dangers?

For starters, we pray for them, and educate them, and remind them of their value through Christ. We have an ongoing dialogue about safety, choices, and consequences. We realize that, inevitably, they will have to face some of these challenges on their own.  The internet offers many wonderful resources, fun ways to keep in touch with family and friends, and a world of knowledge at our fingertips. Our hope is that we will have instilled enough sense into our kids that when they are grown, they can enjoy the benefits of technology while avoiding the pitfalls that so many young people fall victim to, today. We've definitely got our work cut out for us.

In the mean time, we got them a simple phone that has no access to the internet, no apps, and no texts. They have just enough buttons to call their mother.  As far as I'm concerned, that's all the mobile technology that they need for now.


Stepping off my soap box, 

Nell

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My, How Times are Changing!

My first cell phone was a college graduation gift from my in-laws. Like most children of the eighties, I lived over two decades of my life without this piece of mobile technology that we treasure so much.  My phone usage has really evolved over the years. I feel like I was on the cusp of a new era in high-tech devices, sort of like watching the people of  "Downton Abbey" as they made the conversion to electricity.

When I was a kid, I called my friends on the kitchen phone with the spiral cord that tangled in knots and reached half way across the house. Zero privacy was to be had with the phone in a central location: just the way my parents liked it.  My mom would reluctantly let me ride my bike to my friends houses, but I had to call her immediately upon arrival to let her know I was safe. One time I forgot to call her, and she showed up at my friend's front door twenty minutes later. I saw the look of wrath that only mothers can give. It was a mixture of worry, anger, and relief, and I instantly knew I was in deep, deep trouble.  She said, "You forgot to call me. I was worried, and you know the rules. Now you're going to have to come home with me".  I nearly died of mortification. After all, I was at Shelly Harker's house, and she was the coolest girl in 4th grade. She had fishtail braids and side ponytails that every girl was envious of. I could not believe that my mom was making me go home, just twenty minutes after I arrived! I hung my head in shame and said goodbye, both to Shelly and to any chance of me being cool, ever again. My mom was serious about me calling home, and I never forgot that lesson for the rest of my life. (Now I tell that scary story to my children as a cautionary tale of what happens to mothers when their children worry them half to death.)



Then, when I turned eleven, my Granny bought me a "Hot Lips" phone for my bedroom. It was the most awkward shaped, uncomfortable phone I had ever used, but man did I look cool when I used it! My dad drilled a tiny hole through the wall and ran a phone cord into my room so I could talk to my friends without the sound of pots and pans clanking in the kitchen. I still didn't have my own line, though. Kids didn't get their own phone line back then.

When I went to summer camp, my folks gave me the calling card number so I could call home from the pay phone outside the camp cafeteria. Since my dad was slightly paranoid about someone getting their hands on the number and racking up phone charges, he wrote it backwards on a slip of paper, and I hid the paper inside the tongue of my shoe. I felt like a spy with a secret code every time I dialed the numbers. You can never be too careful when a bunch of kids are waiting in the phone line behind you.

In Junior high and high school, I used quarters to call my mom whenever my sports practices were over. I was always running out of money until I got wise, and learned the trick that helped me to save my quarters forever more. I started to make a collect call every day. When the automated phone operator asked me for my name, I would say, "Pick-up, North Gym" or "Pick-up, Cafeteria". Then, the operator would call my mom and say, "You have a collect call from... Pick-up Cafeteria. Will you accept the charges?" My mom would hang up without accepting the charges and magically appear at the cafeteria ten minutes later.  That's called working the payphone like a boss!

In college, my parents were so worried about me living far away that they got a 1-800 number so that I could call home, no matter where I was.  I called from my dorm room, and then later from the ranch that I lived at, a whole state away. But most importantly, I could call from any place that had a payphone; and I didn't need to have any change in my pocket. Since I drove a piece of junk car that always broke down, I called from payphones quite frequently.  Once, I was at the mall and my car wouldn't start. I called my dad with the 1-800 number.  I described the noise that my car was making, and he gave me explicit instructions on how to find my starter and bang on it with a big river rock from the landscaping. It worked like a charm! Another time, I was stranded in Shiprock, New Mexico after stopping to get gas on my way home to visit my parents. I called home and my dad told me how to push start my car by putting it in gear and popping the clutch at just the right time. Even though he was six hours away, he rescued me from that creepy gas station. The 1-800 number was invaluable during my college years!!!

On the day I crossed that stage and got my bachelor's degree, my world changed forever! I got my first mobile phone. I was no longer tied to a phone cord! Help was just a button away. (as long as I was in a cell service area, had the phone antenna pulled up, and stood at a specific location in my house. Cell phones weren't nearly as good as they are now.)

My, how things have changed! Today, we carry around little computers that fit into our pocket with the entire vast world of knowledge at our fingertips.  We can find out anything we ever wanted to know about, and yet we use it to prove each other wrong in arguments, and share pictures of our dogs.

With this new era of technology, I find myself on the parenting end, struggling with how to harness the benefits, while protecting my kids from a world of dangers that are lurking just a button away.

This is what I'll be addressing in my next post.


(To be Continued....)