Category Archives: Life

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

We have finally ordered ugly Christmas sweaters for everyone and they are awesome.

Ron – His favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, so the leg lamp was perfect for him.

Amanda – I’m actually wearing an old sweatshirt of my mother’s.  It is very comfortable and I kind of hate that it’s considered an “ugly” sweater.  I secretly love it… well, that’s not a secret anymore!  Jango loves his ugly sweater, and he loves to wear it

Chyna – She found this cute “ugly sweater” dress on amazon, and I actually like it.

Price – Star wars is completely fitting for him.  He loves his sweater.  I love how the light-sabers light up.

Wesley – Mario!  He was Mario for Halloween one year, and has always loved Mario.  His sweater is super cute.

This is my favorite family picture… I love it!

Lake Tahoe Trip – October 2017

I cannot believe I forgot to share all of the pictures from my trip to Lake Tahoe.  Kim, Cristina, and I all met while we were stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland.  Kim’s family is civilian and Cristina’s family is army.  That doesn’t matter except that it means Kim is still in MD, while we’ve since moved to Spain and now South Dakota and Cristina has moved to Georgia and now Hawaii, so it’s been a while since we’ve all been together.  Two years ago we were talking about meeting when we moved back stateside.  So, we tried to pick a place kind of in the middle between MD and HI… and we settled on Las Vegas.  We decided not to go there because we couldn’t find a cheap place to stay.  We have points in a condo system, and we were able to find a place on Lake Tahoe for a few points, so that’s what we decided to do.

It turned out to be the best time because the weather was warm, especially for October.  Cristina has lived in HI too long because she was freezing in the 60-70 degree weather.  But we had a great time hiking, eating, and just hanging out.  I miss them so much.

I know I’ve said it before, and I guess I’m going to continue to talk about it until I find someone with a solution to the problem, but people in the military don’t have true community.  We might find it for months at a time, but that lifelong connection with people, raising your children together, and going through life together just doesn’t happen in the military and it does a huge disservice to the men and women and especially children who have to live this way.  I don’t have an answer, but I’m constantly thinking about this and I’m hoping there can be some kind of solution or at least a better way.

Anyway, we had a great time for 3 days and here are some of the pictures… Lake Tahoe is beautiful!  It was the first time I had ever been there, and my first time in California!!

Book Review

Anderson, Laurie Halse:

Catalyst was definitely NOT a juvenile fiction book.  This book was in the juvenile fiction section, but immediately I thought the language used in the book was definitely not something I would think would be read before Junior High at the youngest.  I think 8th to 9th grade is the youngest that someone should be to read this book.  However, regardless of that part, the book was a great book.  It was well-written and the characters were so real and awesome.  I just loved the book.  It definitely wasn’t a happy ending book or a happy middle or beginning for that matter, but it is a realistic fiction book, and I loved it!!  If you have a highschooler, or even older teenager, I think they would love this book!

Angleberger, Tom:

I already knew a lot about Tom Angleberger.  My boys have all of the Origami Yoda books and a couple others of his.  We surprised them one night and drove down to VA from MD to a book signing and got all of their copies signed.  Tom was really nice and the boys loved it.  Since I haven’t found my external harddrive yet with all of those pictures on it, I can’t share one here, but as soon as I find it, I’ll edit this post and add the picture of all of them together.  Anyway… our library has a lot of his books, but not all of them.  I’ll just review them in the order I read them.

Inspector Flytrap in The President’s Mane Is Missing (Book 2) is definitely for younger elementary and beginning readers.  It has a silly story that I think this age group can appreciate.  I didn’t find it appealing at all, as an adult.  The jokes were very silly, but again, I know they will work for their target age group.  There is a venus flytrap who is trying to solve the problem of how to get rid of a giant fly from Venus…. a Venus Fly!  All kinds of things pop up to get in the way of his quest.  It is great for 5-7 years old.  And even younger for read-alouds.

Inspector Flytrap in the Goat Who Chewed Too Much (Book 3) This is just more of the same.  The flytrap is in a pot, of course, so he can’t move around without his goat assistant to push him around on a skateboard.  In this one, his goat is accused of a crime and arrested, and Inspector Flytrap has to find the read criminal and save his goat.  Perfect for pre-school read-aloud and beginner readers.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda 1)  This is the first book in the Origami Yoda series.  It is about a group of middle school students, specifically a boy named Tommy, who create a case file to determine whether or not a finger puppet named Origami Yoda is actually using the force to give advice.  The owner of Origami Yoda is Dwight, and he doesn’t really give an answer about this at all, so it’s just Tommy and his friends telling stories about what Origami Yoda has done for them and they use these stories to determine if he is “real” or not.  It was a great book and I think it’ll be good for anyone who can read the words.  All the way to adults, because I found myself smiling as a read and rooting for them to get the answers they wanted.  It really set up the series well, and it a great book for any Star Wars fans… young or old!

Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book This is the second book in the series, and I think I liked it more than the first one.  He didn’t have to spend as much time learning who all the kids were because we had already met them in the first book.  This time one of the other kids, Harvey, has decided to make a Darth Vader finger puppet, called Darth Paper.  He goes around telling people how bad Origami Yoda/Dwight’s advice is and pretty much tries to sabotage everything.  This book is a little more serious to me, as an adult, because Dwight says something, as Origami Yoda, to a student, and when the principal hears about it, they consider it to be a threat and they suspend Dwight and the school board is going to determine if he needs to go to a school for “troubled” kids or if he can continue at the current school.  So Tommy uses the case file this time to get more stories to present to the school board and try to save Dwight.  Harvey seems to be sabotaging all of their efforts, and we find out at the end if it works or not…. a great book for any age!

I have more books by Tom Angleberger to read, but I haven’t finished them yet, so I’m just going to share these reviews and start the next review with those books… so more Tom to come… stay tuned!!

As always, you can see everything I’m currently reading and find my profile on goodreadsHappy Reading!!!

Journey Museum

Wesley and I attended a program at the Journey Museum with our homeschool group.  It was called Aviation History.  The teacher talked to them about the history of aviation, specifically what impact Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base had on the advancements of aviation.  It was really interesting, and then the children were given lots of supplies and told to try to make an airplane.

Wesley made one airplane with a lot of the supplies and named it Lady Bug because it looked like the open wings of a lady bug.  The second one was made with paper and two straws.  That one twirled a lot when it was flying, so he named it Grayson (like Dick Grayson, Robin, from Batman)

After they finished making the airplanes, they brought them out of the classroom and threw them off of the balcony of the museum and watched them all hit the floor.

He had a wonderful time and couldn’t wait to get home and show everyone his airplanes!!!


Book Review – 6 November

Here are the books I’ve read since my last review.  We finished another family read-aloud, I finished another book from my personal reading list, and I finished a lot of library books.  I’m really surprised by the number of Juvenile Fiction books from our library that I just love as an adult!

Almhjell, Tone:

Thornghost was a really great book.  I was worried at first about it being too scary (I’m a complete whimp about scary stuff, but it had a great premise and the story really held my attention.  I definitely think this is a great read for older elementary and middle schoolers.  It’s also a good book to discuss what happens to our pets when they die.  It’s not a fluffy little books for babies.  This deals with some serious issues.  I loved it!

Alvarez, Jennifer Lynn:

The Guardian Herd: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (2015-04-21) This book was a good one too.  I wasn’t sure I would like it when I started because it was told from the point of view of a Pegasus.  I thought it would be too childish or not have enough depth, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This book is filled with action and adventure and I found myself wanting to sit down and read it instead of doing things that needed to get done.  It is, of course, magical and wonderful and has great moments of bravery.  It has wonderful friendships and shows the value of sticking by someone and believing in them even when other people don’t.  It is a great book, and I would say any age could read it, but middle elementary and older elementary will probably get the most out of it.

Amato, Mary:

Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook This book was such a cute concept.  I haven’t ever read a book like this one before.  It follows a boy named Edgar Allan, and he uses the notebook to write down his observations about multiple crimes committed in his classroom at school.  It is just such a unique concept and I love the way it is written.  This will be perfect for early elementary kids because the pages aren’t filled with words.  It is just a wonderful little book.

Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories is maybe my favorite out of all the ones I’m reviewing this time.  It really is one of the best, most creative books I’ve read for children in a long time.  This class has an empty notebook and they fill it up with things that happen during the school year.  Beginning with the owner of the notebook thinking that their teacher is a vampire.  It is such a funny book that made me laugh out loud multiple times.  It also made me want to get an empty notebook for our house and start letting everyone write in it.  

Anderson, Hans Christian:

Twelve Tales I had already read some of these stories, but some of them were new.  These stories are really weird.  There are so many of them that end so weirdly and abruptly.  I guess we should read them because they are classics, but some of them are just disturbing and definitely not happy endings.  I think an older elementary student would be best for this book, but a younger one can definitely read the words.  They just might be more disturbed by the stories than more modern stories that are usually written for this age group.

Anderson, Laurie Halse:

Helping Hands: Vet Volunteers, Book 15… the only one of the Vet Volunteer books that our library has is number 15, so that’s the only one I read.  It’s a great book for animal lovers.  This book is perfect for elementary and even middle schoolers who love horses.  I’m assuming that all of these books revolve around a different type of animal, but that might not be true.  This one was about a man who didn’t take care of his horses and how the volunteers rallied together to save the horses and work with the local vets.  It would be great to use elements of this book with a vet program for elementary kids.  It will at least start very good discussions about animals.

Bunyan, John:

Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress (Moody Classics)… We read this as our family read-aloud after two different people mentioned it and then I started reading Little Women and they talked about it a lot in that book.  This book was unlike any we’ve ever read.  It explains at the very beginning that it’s an allegory.  It takes aspects of our life and makes them characters.  The main character is Christian and this whole story is filled will characters that personify the fears and feelings that we have in our life.  Christian is on a journey to get to heaven, and this book walks us through the journey with him.  I’ve heard about this book just because it’s a popular book, but I’ve never read it.  I decided to start with the pictorial version of this book because we were reading it out loud and I wanted everyone to be able to understand it.  It was really good and just reinforces for us that we need to read different kinds of literature.

Penley, Janet P:

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths… This book was so good.  I really loved it.  We have learned all of our MBTI personality types, and I love the way this book talks about relating to different types as a parent.  It also helped clarify my own type and learn more about myself.  I recommend this book to anyone who is a parent.  If you know your type, this book will just help you clarify what you already know.  If you don’t know your type, this book is also great for discovering what your type is and for helping you find the next resource for discovering more about your type.

It’s November!!

I.  Love.  Fall!

It is so beautiful.  I’ve never lived this far north before, so I’m not excited about how cold it is, but I’m going to just bundle up and enjoy it.  So this month, I am wanting to remind everyone about being thankful.  We have a new centerpiece and new table decorations.  This is going to be a great month!!

Random supplies to use…
Some of my leftover leaves… some are made of glass, so I thought they would look cool with the LED lights in the jar.
Some of my supplies and the fake pumpkin I got from Target with the stem pulled out and some fake flowers from Michael’s stuck in it.
I got LED lights from Michael’s, potpourri from the Dollar Tree, and some of the leftover leaves from my fall decorations for last year to make this cute mason jar.
I took down the Halloween mirrors and added this picture. It says “Jump in the Leaves”, and then I put some small pumpkins and a mason jar with fall flowers on the table. It pretty much looks the same except for a few little changes.

more of my supplies…
decided I didn’t like the placemats, and I only have 4 and there are 5 of us, so I took them away, but I love the runner I got at TJ Maxx.

Finished product with the lights off…
with the lights on…

November’s dessert is Pilgrim Hat Cookies

Fudge-striped cookies, Icing to keep the reese’s cups in place and for the reese’s pieces buckle on the hats. They are cute and delicious!
Happy November!!



October 2017 – Recap

October was more settled for all of us and we had a wonderful month exploring our new place and seeing some of the most beautiful sights God made for us.  Fall in the Black Hills really is a beautiful sight.


  • is loving his jujitsu…  He had his first rank test and is now a second degree white belt.  No pictures from class this time because I haven’t gone to watch him again.
  • Ron and I went to one of the chaplain assistant’s house for their gender reveal party.  They already have a precious boy and girl and found out at the party that they are having another girl!!  It was such a cute party and I loved seeing everyone so excited!
  • He also found out that his promotion to Major won’t happen until he is deployed next year.  So we will have a congratulations party here before he leaves.
  • He’s getting settled in at the chapel more and more, and the only downside right now is that he doesn’t have his own permanent office so a lot of his books and office things are still boxed up in the garage.
  • We invited the chapel family over for a Halloween party.  Not with costumes or anything, just with cute Halloween themed food and to get to know everyone better.  We haven’t been a chapel with this many chaplains and staff members before, so we thought this was the best way to get to know them.
  • Ron is loving what he does here, and he preached for the first time last Sunday.  This chapel family is really great!


October was such a great time for me.  I had some new experiences (i.e. mammogram) and learned that some things that you think will be scary aren’t as bad as you thought!  I have been brainstorming cool things to do while Ron is deployed next year, and I spent a lot of my time plotting a giant roadtrip to visit all of our friends and family all around the US.  If I missed you in my plotting, let me know and we will make sure we stop by to say hi.  Also, we are asking everyone to let us spend the night or tell us where we can camp out.  We are trying to do this trip as cheaply as possible!  I was also able to go to Lake Tahoe and meet with friends I haven’t seen in a while.  We haven’t been all together in almost 3 years, and it was a blast to see them again.  We had so much fun taking hikes and exploring a beautiful place we’d never been to before.  I am so thankful that we were all able to get away.  We all have wonderful families who let us go and spend time together.  I’m excited for next month as well.  I can’t wait to do more planning on my road trip and explore more of the area around where we live.  

Our route has changed a little since this, but this is the basic trip, and I don’t want to give away too much just yet!



Chyna has been working at Target for a month now.  She was initially trained at Starbucks in Target, but then they trained her to work at their Food Avenue area, as well as being a cashier at Target and working the self-checkout area.  She’s been really busy with this, but she also has started taking online classes.  She called Animal Behavior College after we found out about them online, and they told her about the process for a Vet Assistant program they have.  She used her own money to pay for the class up front (they gave her a big discount for paying for the whole thing).  She’s already started the online portion, but she is waiting for her books and scrubs to get here for some of her other classes.  She is doing a great job working and going to school.  She finished her animal CPR certification first thing and she’s doing as much online as she can until her books get here.  


Price loves birds.  I’m sure if you’ve spent time with him or talked to him for a while you know that he wants to work with birds of prey.  That means, owls, hawks, falcons, and birds like that… predators… so when he found out that the Black Hills Raptor Rescue would be coming to Wesley’s cub scout pack meeting, he immediately said he wanted to go.  He watched the presentation and then followed them out to the parking lot to ask how old he would have to be to work with them.  The great news for him was that he can start volunteering with them when he is 14.  He can’t wait for March to get here now and I’m sure that’s where I will take him for his 14th birthday.   He also attended a campout with Ron and Wesley where the temperature dropped below freezing and they woke up with ice on their tent.  



Wesley has been involved in quite a few cub scout events this month.  He is finishing up his last year in cub scouts and will be making the transition to boy scouts in January of next year.  He sold popcorn with some of the other scouts and then did some shooting during the campout with his pack.


October gave us our first little bit of snow since moving here, even though it was so tiny we can barely see it on our pictures.  We also got to see a house decorated with lights for Halloween.  We had a great time at the Halloween Night Hike at Custer State Park, and we had a wonderful Halloween Night!  Can’t wait to see everyone else’s costumes.  We couldn’t pick just one costume for Jango, so he had wardrobe changes all night!!

Goodbye October!


House Projects: Kitchen

I didn’t get to do anything on the kitchen this time, but I took some pics and I’m trying to start planning what I want to do.  I’m also taking suggestions, so feel free to comment below what your ideas are.

I got the new curtain for the kitchen window and my first live plant.  It’s a mum, and I’m hoping I don’t kill it.  I need two smaller plants on the other side, and I’m thinking about some succulents so I won’t have to remember to water them as much.

I got the pot for the mum from Michael’s and got some paints and just did random brush strokes with very little paint on the brush.  I wanted to bring some blue and yellow in, but I didn’t want it to be covered.

I’m thinking my big project in the kitchen is going to be the kitchen cabinets.  I’m too scared to do anything with them yet, but I’ve seen some cute things on pinterest, so I have some ideas bouncing around in my head.

Here are some pictures of the layout of the kitchen.  Projects coming in the future!!

3-D Printing – Frankenstein Switch

I think I mentioned before that the public library in Rapid City has a hands-on learning center that has multiple 3-d printers.   The kids and I went to an event at the library and saw the printers for the first time.  We were blown away and I just wanted to sit and watch it print anything.  I wanted a job there immediately, but then I remembered that I wouldn’t be able to just watch the printers all day… I would actually have to help people and that means I’d have to spend a lot of time talking to people, so I decided I didn’t want to work there.  I also decided that we needed to print something.  They do charge for things, but it is based on weight, and they don’t weigh much.

We went back to the library for another event, and I told the boys to pick something to have them print and we would do it that day.  The librarian (I’m not sure that the workers over there are called librarians, but that’s all I know to call them) told us to go to this website and we could look at things that can be 3-d printed, and then they download the files onto one of the laptops connected to the printers, and then they hit print.  I’m sure it’s more detailed than that, but from my end of things that is what it looked like.  He put all the data into the laptop after the boys picked out what they wanted to print, and the colors they wanted, and he said it would cost about $8, so I went downstairs and paid for it while he started the printing.  Our print would take about 8-9 hours to print it all, so they emailed and called us when it was ready and we couldn’t wait to go pick it up.  The boys love it!!


Here is a video of it in action!!


Weekend Adventure

I love to do things as a family.  Everyone who lives here can tell you that I love for us to all be together.  Even if we are all just sitting around watching Psych (the best TV show ever!)

Anyway, I love togetherness!  I also like to get outside and do things!  If I can mix the two things, it’s usually a perfect day.  However, since Chyna is now working, her schedule doesn’t always work with event schedules, and this time it resulted in her missing out on an awesome day of adventures!

  • First stop – We went to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and participated in their celebration of the Sputnik satellite anniversary.  Since the “space race” began with that launch, and the minuteman missile program is a direct result of that, they held some events this past weekend to commemorate the event.  At the visitor’s center, they have a pretty cool little museum of what life was like for the workers on the missile programs.

  • Second Stop –  one of the missile silos.  The tour guide was a man who worked on the minuteman missile program.  He gave us lots of interesting information and explained how all of it worked (except the secret stuff he said he couldn’t tell us about! 🙂  He said that everything inside was exactly as it was when the program was removed.  The missile is a fake, but the rest is all the same.  It was really interesting to us, but the boys were a little disappointed that we couldn’t go inside the silo.  There is another one near the base that we can go in for a tour, so I’m sure we will be doing that soon since we are all now interested in how it all works.


  • Third Stop – Badlands National Park.  This was actually between the Missile visitor’s center and Wall, so we decided to drive through.  It is beautiful here, and if you’ve ever been to the badlands in NM and AZ, it looks similar.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it.  We found lots of hiking area too, so we will definitely be coming back here to hike.


  • Fourth stop – Wall, South Dakota.  If you’ve ever driven anywhere in this area of the country, then I’m sure you’ve seen a sign on the side of the road for Wall Drug.  We had a great time walking around this place.  It is huge and much more than a drug store.  It started as a drug store, but it has expanded to include just about anything and everything you’re looking for in the way of a tourist trap.  We stopped here for lunch and to walk around before we headed back home.  It was so cool, and we all said “we have to bring Chyna back here” multiple times.  We had a great time here!