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Monday, July 7, 2014

Fourth of July at the Cabin ... and more cabin updates!

I know it's been five months... and I sorely miss blogging!.  We had an adventurous 4th of July this past weekend, and I just HAD to blog and share our progress and adventures!!
Down the road by our cabin is a "U-pick-it blueberry farm". It has been on my "Momma's Bucket List to do w/ the girls" list since they were toddlers.  Needless to say, it's always closed.... no matter when we go.  Probably something to do with blueberries having to be IN SEASON!  Anyways, last week I had the bright idea to see if it was in fact open, and it WAS!!  So the girls and I headed over to the blueberry farm (orchard?!) for an hour of picking blueberries.  Only one blueberry was placed in the mouth (that was me).  We had a great time, and only paid $8 for a HUGE bucket of blueberries!  They are a bit tart .... but that's OK.  I love a good deal, and it beats paying $2.50 in the store for a small pint size container!

Katie the camo punk girl holds up a blueberry ....
(she wore her hair and hat like that ALL weekend long)



"Girls.. pick the ones that are PURPLE!  Not pink!"


By now, our bucket is only 3/4 of the way full, but sweat was dripping off of our noses and we were tired and frankly .... ready to call it a day there.  It was only maybe 9:30 in the morning.

Later that night we headed down the road to the lake and grabbed a (horribly bad) spot to watch the fireworks.  The girls placed their chairs in the truck and had fun.  Needless to say since we were in a bad area (tons of trees in our vision), we left early.  Now we know where to park next year.
On our property, we have lots of studs.  (lumber... that needs to be used)
This is one of the studs that can be found on the property.
Ha ha ha... (I know, bad humor)
Earlier this year, Mike threw our other picnic into the fire b/c termites pretty much ate the thing up.  Not to mention it was fit for a giant to eat at (it was so huge and tall... our feet never touched the ground).  So, placing concrete .... things.. on the ground, he built another picnic table.  This is MUCH better as far as proportions go, but definitely our nieces and nephews will need to sit on their knees again, or eat on the porch.  Still a bit tall -- but at least we touch the ground!
We spread mulch on the ground, so now it smells all purdy like cedar.
Mike started landscaping a bit... placing more concrete.. things... on the ground in front of the porch.  Lattice fencing will go under the porch .. eventually.
Due to all the break ins we had last year (four in total) -- and the last one they tried to get in through the window, Mike built closeable shutters that open and shut (and lock for when we're not there).  I absolutely love them.  We'll paint them green to match the bottom of the cabin and the top part of the cabin.
and since I need to help a little here and there... trimming is all I do.  Mike tells me I rock at it. I hate trimming.  Ever since I got into whatever it was three years ago and developed a HUGE rash (probably poison ivy) ... I avoid it like the plague.  But I sported around a long sleeve shirt and gloves and got the job done.  I cut down trees (ok, they were probably 1-3 inches thick, so not sure I can QUITE call them trees), and lots of branches -- so now our entry way into the property looks much cleaner.  Had a few spiders drop on me that scared Katie away.  So much for my kids looking out for me....

I managed to pull down a TON of grapevine growing on the trees (really, strangling the trees).  A lot of the vines had green grapes growing on them.  I consider it a huge accomplishment if I can pull down a huge section of grapevine!!  Those suckers are hard to pull!
and when the girls aren't riding the four wheelers around the property, you can find them playing badminton.  However, they're not playing right now, so enjoy the picture of two trees with a net in between it.
another closeup picture of the concrete... things.  Now we can stamp our feet to get the sand off even more before we step onto the porch.
the final look of what the shutters look like closed and locked.
and finally... a dead scorpion.  I had NO STINKING CLUE we had scorpions on the property.  I have NEVER seen a scorpion since we've moved to Texas six years ago.  Mike managed to never TELL me we had scorpions in the CABIN in the early stages.  In the Jacuzzi tub!!  Well, after coming home from fireworks it was right NEXT to the front door (I call it the front door, Mike calls it the back door)... and Katie shouted "SCORPION!" and Maddie came to the rescue and promptly stomped the crap out of it.  Lovely.  We shall call Maddie "The Insect Stomper" or "The Insect Killer" from here on out b/c she managed to kill a mini tarantula for me yesterday.  At least, it was a big spider that was really fuzzy, and big.  :: shudder ::
So altogether we (remember I say we, and I really mean Mike) got a LOT done and it really is coming along fantastically!!  We (Mike) has gotten a lot done inside of the cabin as well, but I have no pictures to share of that ....
Until next time....  :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Katie turns Sweet 16!

I can't believe how fast time flies....  especially when I remember holding my newborn baby girl in my arms, and seeing her now as a beautiful young woman.  Sometimes I wish they would stop growing...

When I was 16 ... my family made it a special day for me.  So, naturally I wanted to do the same for Katie.

One of the family lines is through the Tiffany family (of the famous Tiffany & Co -- yes, that same line) ... and since Katie LOVES the color blue, namely turquoise, or the Tiffany blue color, I was going to do a Tiffany & Co party.  However.. b/c we had boys coming, and to have jewels and all that all around, we sort of went away with that idea, and just did a basic color theme.  And polka dots...
So she didn't care what I did .... so I picked turquoise & red.  Boy, was it an awesome choice!!
My fabulous friend Christine hosted this at her gorgeous home, and had a lot of decorations on hand already.  She is so talented in decorating!! 

We had cake, with a Tiffany box typed cake.  Then, a candy bar that was on the same table as the cake.  There was also a popcorn bar on a different table.  Since this activity took place in Texas, where it can be warm in January -- we played outside games to start the party.  Everyone received a glow in the dark necklace and a few bracelets.  Then we went outside and played glow in the dark kickball (with a kickball that did NOT hold up to its name!  BOO!).  After we played a few rounds of that (which was so much fun!), they played the hula hoop game -- basically getting into two groups and they join hands.  A hula hoop is placed in between two people, and the circle that can pass the hula hoop through everyone wins!  it was hilarious!

After those games, we came inside to eat cake and stock up on candy .. and popcorn.  Because after all of that, we went outside to watch a movie -- Despicable Me 2 -- it was a TAD bit cold that night -- but everyone had blankets and chairs.  All in all, everyone had a blast of fun. 
This is what the party decorations looked like:

What is it about giant Pixie Sticks that makes everyone grab those first?  I bought 50 of those suckers.. Katie had 6 herself.  :: rolling eyes ::


The balloons were duct taped to the ceiling, and at the bottom of the ribbon, were pictures being held up with a clothespin (that was spray painted to match the colors)







We also had a photo booth!!  It wasn't SUPER popular, but a lot of kids did get into the action.

The banner is basically letters cut out from a Cricut, glued onto scrapbook paper, glued onto a paper plate.  Tulle is holding each plate to each other.


The popcorn bar had candy to put in the bag along with the popcorn, as well as spray butter (not on table), and different types of toppings (seasonings).  I also had four types of popcorn on the table:  caramel, popcorn drizzled with milk & white chocolate, and popcorn made with coconut oil (went super fast!) and popcorn made with vegetable oil (a whole tub leftover!).

and to wrap up this blog post... here are a few of the cute photo booth pics!



Putting on a deck... at the property

Mike has been working on a deck at the property.  I was thinking it was a small deck... but when I saw it, I was thinking "Holy Guacamole!  This deck is HUGE!"

Now... it has fancy railings too.  I spent FOREVER... painting these suckers.  It has to be JUST right.... no drip spots, nothing.  Mike only finished it about 3/4 of the way through before bad weather hit, and we had to call it quits.  But, he's done a GREAT job, and it looks very nice.  He's mostly looking forward to hunting from the deck (yes, he has a feeder already set up and it's in the nice range of view from the deck).

Unfortunately, because of all the break ins we had last year (four total...), our windows will be rocking those awesome steel bars as well.
Cue:  angry face

Our friend put a stand up in a tree directly in line of the feeder on our property, and so the girls were often found going up and down that tree... sometimes just to read in it, or to text.  I had to laugh at them when I heard a few times "HELP!  I can't get down...."
Katie.... was found IN the cabin a lot, reading her books and texting.. a new friend. 
I, on the other hand, enjoyed pulling all the fallen trees on the property and creating huge bonfires.
This is the best time of year to do it -- when the snakes (are hopefully) deep underground b/c it's so cold.  And... of course, poison ivy is nowhere to be found.  In the summer?  Forget it -- you will not catch me in that area!

Thanksgiving at the Cabin

We absolutely love Thanksgiving at the cabin.  It is so relaxing, a little cold, and we have lots of bonfires to sit in front of and watch the beautiful stars.

This year my parents & my brother & his family came down from Missouri to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  We just bought a metal storage unit.... and like rednecks that we probably tend to be, they slept in there (complete w/ carpet and heating units to keep them warm!).  My parents slept in the cabin with us.

Before they arrived, Mike and I went to town (remember, we're kind of far from town... ) and bought half of our kitchen cabinets.  We both absolutely LOVE this style of cabinets, as it reminds us of what a cabin style cabinet should look like.  We'll add more to it later this year, but at LEAST.. I have a kitchen sink now, and I no longer have to do dishes in the bathtub or outside with the water hose.

Mike built new steps complete w/ a handy "hold on for your life" handlebars.  It is actually pretty cool.  He did it earlier, but he only put in maybe 3 steps, so it was more like rock climbing to our bed every night.  It had to go....

Mike loves riding around on our neighbor's John Deere tractor...

Maddie shot her first animal!  It was actually a 6 point buck.  Not bad for the first time Maddie!

Maddie 'n Liam loved playing together.....
They both are such hams.

While Maddie 'n Liam hung out together, Katie & Joshua were buddies.

Finally a picture any grandparent who only has 4 grandkids would love to have hanging on their wall.

Miss Maddie is a Beehive!

Miss Maddie turned 12 last fall -- and when a girl turns 12 in our church, she gets moved up to the Young Women's group (ages 12 - 18 year olds) .... they in turn are separated by three groups, from 12-13 year olds (Beehives),14-15 year olds (Mia Maids), and 16-18 year olds (Laurels).

Our YW leaders (which, I am one of them...) spoil these adorable girls when they turn 12 and give them a huge bouquet of "Beehive" stuff.  :)  They love it!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Building a Cabin ... part 238

I've written so many blog posts on our updates of building a cabin.. that I have officially given up on keeping track just what number I'm on exactly. 

But, it's time to get back in gear with this blog and update on our cabin life!

We went to the cabin this past weekend .... and we (remember, I use the term "we" very loosely here) managed to finish the ceiling of the cabin, and start the framing of our deck!

I say "we", and I do have to admit, my girls are either lying on the bed watching season 3 of Duck Dynasty that I picked up for $9.96 at Walmart .... or they're riding the four wheelers outside... or they're eating. 

I (emphasize I), hold a board here and there for Mike.  I did do something important!

So we get to the cabin, and lo and behold as soon as I take my shoes off in the cabin, my foot hits one of those cockleburs.  OWW!  They're all over the place.  They're hanging on our pants, on our shoelaces, on our tennis shoes.  They're even UNDER our shoes.  So our shoes are back on our feet for good in the cabin.. unless you want some type of needle inserted in your foot?

I go outside and I find these wicked plants.  I had always wondered what they look like on a plant.  Now I know! 

While Mike is busy getting the front part of the deck ready the girls are out four wheeling.  I put the sprinklers on to keep the dust down to a minimum.  It gets REALLY dusty around here when they ride their four wheelers!

Here is Mike getting ready to add the mesh to the cover the openings.. so wildlife (aka raccoons, possums, etc) won't get in.  I have to say that I did do my part here.. Katie drove us to Lowe's (we lived), I bought the mesh, Katie drove us back, I spray painted it, and I cut it.  Let the record be known that one should ALWAYS wear gloves when cutting this mesh up.  Let's say I was bleeding in a few places on my hands.  Owww...

After Mike starts to hear the thunder start to roll in, I hurry off to my photo shoot, which takes place exactly across the street from our cabin!  Our friend has his girls in for the weekend, and had some great ideas -- so I was game!  I think it all turned out really well!

On our last day at the cabin, Mike set about to finish putting up the ceiling in the cabin.  It took a few hours (and my part on helping him hold the boards, and handing the boards up to him... see, I do important work!) -- but we can say the ceiling is 99% done!  I think he did a BEAUTIFUL job!

A few months ago (or rather, earlier this year), Mike put up two beams at the top of the loft.  It is very scratchy... and I have had several splinters come from this already!  He also built a ladder, since ours was stolen from one of the three robberies we had.  However, he might have spaced them a *little* too far apart.  It's like rock climbing to the loft.

By the time we left, this is what our cabin looks like so far... our doors and windows are boarded up to prevent future robberies, our deck is slowly being framed in, and all is well on the eastern Texas front.

The girls took one last time around on the ATV's ....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fundraisers... what a pain

Now that I am serving with the Young Women ..... we prepare for them to go to camp each summer.  This usually starts with a huge fundraiser. 

This year, a recipe book was done -- and we hosted a country themed dinner asking ladies of our church to bring in main dishes of the recipes they contributed to the cookbook.

I was over the decorations ... and Katie & her best friend Madison were under me.  They told me the colors that they wanted to use, went through Pinterest to find some country looking decorations, and took off with what we had.  We had $50 to spend. 

We spent $130 at least.  Oops.

But at least we got a bunch of the money back because we sold a bunch of the decorations after the fundraiser was over!

Burlap ... is a nasty word around here in our home.  I had gotten 10 yards from Hobby Lobby using a 40% off coupon, and two friends came over to help me cut those down to 1 yard square pieces for the table covers (that went over white tableclothes).  Then the remaining pieces went around mason jars, complete with a red and white gingham print ribbon around that.  We placed white, yellow and some type of green flowers in the mason jars, and added cheap babys breath.  It was beautiful!

Here are our fancy decorations. 


We actually bought all the stuff for this centerpiece (which we clearly didn't have the funds for, but we needed more decorations), then two of us tried to see if we could just buy it, and then my friend Jen came by and said "I'll buy it!"  So, problem solved!  However, I did absolutely love all this together!


My extremely talented friend Alyse made all these black silhouette pictures to go on the wall.  She's pretty amazing with her talent!




There's Miss Maddie w/ a vulture right next to her....  eeks!



I think I need to learn how to tie a bow right...


Above is Alex, who is adding in more babys breath to the flowers on the table

and the dessert table that was full of desserts made by the girls which were auctioned off!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

It was a rough start ....to getting back into Highland Dance competitions

I wrote this article for the Scottish Society group here in our city, who wanted an article about Katie.

Katie decided to get back into competitions, after being gone for FIVE years.  Her last competition was when she was 10 years old.  When she found out that San Antonio was going to have a competition, she was eager to jump back in the ring.  She took lessons from Miss B .... (an amazing teacher, by the way!) for six weeks, and was ready for competition the first weekend in April.  Here is the story -- it involves spraining a certain girl's ankles... three times.

Katie became a Highland Dancer when she was six years old. She participated in her very first competition shortly after as a Primary dancer (the youngest group there is). There she learned how to count her pas de basques (16 in a row) and where her feet was to go exactly.  As her mother, I learned the sword dance, and taught the steps to Katie at home, so she would learn it at a faster pace in time for her first competition. After her very first dance competition, Katie would go on to compete for another four years in competitions all around the Midwest, often winning "Best Dancer" award, or "Most Promising Pre-Premier Dancer", and even a scholarship.

When Katie was 10 years old, her family moved from Missouri to San Antonio. There, she joined the San Antonio Scottish Society's Highland Dance group. She was able to share her talents and her love for Highland Dance with everyone. After taking a short break from competitions (OK, five years, really!), Katie started lessons with "Miss B".  In a funny twist, "B" taught Katie's first dance teacher when she was a teenager. Katie had taken several of Miss B's workshops when she was younger.

Katie's BFF Madison holds up a sign she made for Katie

When Miss B announced a dance competition was going to come to San Antonio, Katie decided to get back into competitions. She started her lessons again with Miss B in February of this year, and six weeks later, she was preparing for the San Antonio Highland Dance competition.
Katie as shown before the competition starts ... she was excited!

The big day arrived, and Katie was very prepared. Nervous, but excited! As she stood on stage to perform the Lilt, she took one step out, and when her foot landed, it landed at an odd angle. A gasp was heard from several people. Immediately, all could see she had hurt her ankle. She finished her dance, and limped over to where family & friends were sitting. Ice was applied immediately, and her ankle was wrapped. She went on to dance the Highland Fling, and did a beautiful job! The third dance was the sword dance. She asked me to help her with her leaps. So we walked to the grassy section of the grounds, and she took one giant leap to the right, and landed on the same ankle in a bad way. She fell to the ground.  I pleaded with her to stop ... it was OK to forfeit the dance. She had done a great job and had much to be proud of. However, Katie is a very determined girl. When she has her mind set on something, she is going to accomplish it. She walked on her ankle a bit more, and said "I'm fine ... let's walk to the other side and practice on the practice stage." After realizing little dancers were playing on the dance floor, she said "we can do it here on the grass .. it'll be fine." She took a leap to the left, and this time when she landed her foot down, a LOUD pop was heard,and she fell to the grass and was in dire pain. She looked up at me and cried "why?!"
 Katie dancing the Lilt -- the very next second is when she twisted her ankle the first time

By now, I was frantic, and could barely believe Katie had twisted both of her ankles THREE times that morning. What are the odds?! More ice was added to the other ankle, and that ankle was wrapped. Her turn was coming up quickly for the sword dance .. the dance that she had to perform with leaps. After speaking to Miss B, who assured her it was OK not to do the leaps she needed to do, she walked (limped) to the staging area. She gets on the stage, and starts the sword dance. Next thing we see, is Katie doing her leaps ... I am holding my breath, praying that Katie will have the strength to accomplish what her heart desires, and just to be able to get through this dance in one piece. Tears run down my face when I realized Katie did it .... Katie pulled through perfectly. Through all that pain.
Katie talking with her teacher, Miss B -- asking what to do about her Sword dance with her ankles as bad as they were. 
Miss B gives her a hug before she goes on the stage.



Katie performing the Sword dance 
Katie performs the Seann Triubhas

Katie danced one final dance, and did a beautiful job. All Katie wanted was a stamp. Of course, her eye was on the trophy, but at this point in the game, she just wanted to place in something so she could get a stamp on her dance card. To get a stamp on her card meant she was much closer to going into the next category. 

Katie's group was announced for medals. Seann Triubhas... Katie placed first. Sword Dance ... Katie placed first. Highland Fling... Katie placed first. The Lilt.. she was disqualified because she twisted her ankle. Best Dancer of the group? Katie! Imagine going back into serious practice in only six weeks, and walking away with a Best Dancer trophy of the group! The joy in Katie's face when her name was announced was worth it all. She was truly surprised. She was surprised by the strength she had in her. She said "I can do hard things!"

The first award she wins of the day

After all the awards are given, the Best Dancer award is yet to be awarded. 
Katie's name is being announced here -- see her smile?!


Katie with her dance teacher, Miss "B" after the competition

Katie suffered a second degree sprain in her left ankle, and a first degree sprain in her right ankle.  She had to skip the Houston Games which were held three weeks later because she was not ready, but she did participate in the Dallas games (which will be told in story in a few days!).  Way to go Katie!

Katie told me I had this wrong ... she twisted her right ankles twice, and her left ankle once.  Her left ankle was the worst!


On the way out of the Games, Katie & Maddie both spied with their little eye, my picture of Katie leaping in the air on someone's vehicle!
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