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Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Growing Family

I got to update the descendant poster for my mom this Christmas. 

There are four new spots and two more new faces. Back on the old poster Matthew and Micah were pictured in a ultra sound so their sweet faces are now included.

We welcome Jacey, Jonah, Alexander and Thomas to the poster in the last five years.

The family is still growing! 
(Oh, and Mom cried when she opened it!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A December Birthday

Christmas was coming and a very special person was also about to turn 50! My aunt Jeanne (affectionately called "Auntie Jo Gracie" by my children) has a December 14th birthday. That is a wonderful celebration to look forward to and I had been...for a couple years.
Jo and I circa 1976

Back when I was in the middle of cancer surgeries and preparing our house to go on the market, Mom and I went into a local Needlecraft store and I saw a beautiful pattern of a featherweight sewing machine with a quilt draped over it. At the time, I was sitting in the recliner a lot recovering so I was excited to find the perfect thing to go into her new sewing room and keep my hands busy at the same time.

Here we are with my baby sister
Jo reads to me and my little brother
Originally I thought I had a year to get it done before they moved into their new house that they were renovating. As the year quickly passed, and my cross stitching wasn't as quickly coming together, I realized that she has a big birthday coming up the next year. PERFECT! I would finish it up and give it somewhere in the year between as a "housewarming/50th birthday" gift.

Fast forward to November 2015...I still had a quarter of the project to do and December was just around the corner. Resigning to the idea that I wouldn't get it done in time, I packed it in my Thanksgiving trip things and decided I would do as much on it as I could.

I love stitching. I had forgotten how relaxing it had been back in the days I had more time. There was a perfect chair in our condo in Gatlinburg for cross stitching. I got a lot more done there than I expected but knew I wouldn't have time to get it framed.

Armed with a frame, foam board, exacto knife and a 12x12 frame, I decided to tackle the framing so I could give it to Jo at her party. It was amazingly much easier than I expected it to be and I was thrilled to be able to have it ready. (I would like to thank YouTube for the instruction videos on framing...I couldn't have done it without those!)

December 19, 2015
Still looking good after all these years!
Framed and ready to give!

Happy Birthday Auntie Jo Gracie!

Jo and I on her wedding day
July 1986

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Time to Bless Someone Else

Here is an interesting story:
I was about 1st or 2nd grade when my mom and I were reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved the books as she read them to me and was amazed by all of the stories Laura told of life on the prairie. We were given the opportunity on a trip to purchase the whole set in paperback with some of the spending money we had brought along. 
These books were a treasure to me. I kept them in the box when I wasn't reading them and revisited them on occasion when I wanted to feel as though I was spending time with a good friend.
Some of the books as you can see have not survived the passing of time. It would have been 1976 or 1977 when they were purchased. I open each one and see my name in my mom's handwriting in the top left corner of each inside cover. I see my return address sticker there too because I wanted to be sure that if ever one was to be misplaced, there would be a way for me to have it returned to me.

The bindings were worn and with all the hot and cold they endured in the storage process through the years, they all needed packing tape reinforcement today. That is what I did. Reinforced each one that was salvageable. Then I set aside my copy of Little House in the Big Woods. I think I will save it for my first grand daughter.
The rest I just can't bring myself to keep. They have some good reading left to them for someone who would appreciate them. I did decide however to throw away the box. It was pretty tattered and worn, so out in the garage it went with the rest of the cardboard. I had to throw away Farmer Boy. As you can see above, it was in pieces but the rest were still in pretty good shape. Little House on the Prairie has been gone for years. It was the most worn of them all.

Don't think that I am getting rid of these great books. No...I have them all in hard back on my library shelf. Many years ago before I had children of my own, I had saved up and purchased the hard back copies. That is why I can't bring myself to keep these. I am trying to pair things down as I get older. Simplify my life so to speak. My girls aren't really interested in them but maybe someday.

That is when something interesting happened. During a scouting event the aunt of one of our scouts came over to my house to pick up some popcorn. She noticed in my pile of cardboard to break down, the box that the Little House books had been kept in. She picked it up and asked me if she could have it. She would tape it up and use it to hold the ones she wanted to purchase. She had wanted the books all of her life and was going to purchase them as she was able.

I was so excited to tell her that I had six of them downstairs in a book bin waiting for a new home if she wanted to love them. She was very grateful and I was happy to find someone who even as an adult appreciates these simply written accounts of a life long ago.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday From the Heart: September 11th

Although there is a sadness that has come with September 11th in our country since 2001, I have always been thankful that God gave the Sloans something happy to commemorate the very next year to remind us that life and hope are still a part of His plan.

Here I am...thirteen years ago. I call these my "freak of nature" pictures. God grew three new little people while I watched myself expand in the mirror day by day. When you have multiples you really can see day by day the way they are growing!

I thank my God for His mercy to me and for giving us the miracle that we live today. Those were exciting days...two days before they arrived I was SO READY to hold my babies in my arms! Today, thirteen years later we are celebrating teenagers and it has only gotten better!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cross Country Times Two!

While Dawn is digging and striking on the volleyball court this fall, these two are running cross country! Their first meet was today and they both did well. It was a new experience for me since this was the first time I attended a meet. One thing I learned is not to forget my running shoes!

Stacey and the girls waiting to start!
Stacey strong til the end!
Ryan waiting to start
Keeping the pace on this hot day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Volleyball Season Begins!

Dawn decided almost in the last minutes to play volleyball. I am excited about that because that was my sport growing up and I would love to sit in the stands and cheer on my girl!  I got to today!

 She played well for never having played before. She got a serve over and was part of a great volley where she made it over the net to the other team. It was a great start!

The 7th grade season opening game was in against Maquoketa so I made the hour drive and surprised her in the stands!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Craig and Kalissa's Wedding

We drove north yesterday to celebrate Craig and Kalissa's wedding with my mom's family. Kalissa is the last born Johnson cousin, the youngest of my mom's sister Jeanne (Jo). Being the oldest grandchild of the bunch, it is always fun for me to go and spend time with my extended family and once again explain to my children how we are all related.

 It was a very fun day! THE best wedding food ever! At least Matthew thought so...we all thought so!

 Congratulations Kalissa and Craig! We are so glad we got to share in your special day!

Ryan and Kalissa

Jody and Kalissa

Kalissa with the girls

Friday, September 4, 2015


The garden has been a little disappointing for me this year. The cucumbers were wimpy and have only given us about five. They were planted on the side of the garden where there is a little more shade and I am sure that has affected things a little. Something again is eating them. Probably rabbits (at least the droppings would give us that clue).

The beans didn't come up at all so that was a big disappointment. We have melons, okra and tomatoes in relative abundance and some peppers. We harvested a few more beets than last year but I think I am going to try to plant more of those. Carrots came up well and were very yummy for about two meals.

This week has been spent in the kitchen keeping up with tomatoes. Dad informed me last weekend that he wasn't going to be canning at all this summer so he was letting us take what we want. I tried a batch of spaghetti sauce over the weekend and after feeding the family Saturday night with much of the batch (boy do these people EAT!) I was able to can five quarts for the pantry. They told me after supper that it was the best spaghetti they had ever tasted!

Along with the five quarts I put up two quarts of regular tomatoes that were left over after I ran out of stuff for the spaghetti sauce.

Thursday I had a huge load from Dad along with my own so I put up another huge batch of spaghetti sauce. I got ten more quarts to add to the pantry. I hope I will be able to make at least one more large batch before we are done.

Let me tell you about the okra! Last summer we were able to save two stalks and were amazed by how much okra came from those two plants. This year was a totally different story! We have two rows of okra and it is in full production! Last week David cut up two gallon bag full for the freezer to use in gumbo and Thursday I tried a couple of small batches breaded for frying. They are now tucked away in the freezer for our frying pleasure!

I still have some empty jars in my cupboard so I hope there will be a few more things to can before the season is over. The potatoes came up pretty thin this year so we will see how the harvest is soon when it is time to dig them up. I won't lie...I am looking forward to a couple down days before the next harvest comes in! These are busy days in the kitchen!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mint Green Face Lift

Although we are not finished with the girls' remodel in their bedroom, they were able to get the painting done over the summer. They worked hard together to choose the color (which was probably the hardest part), move the furniture and paint the walls.

They chose an accent color on one wall which is a teal/blue color with a gray shade on the other three walls. They learned about patching holes in walls, "cutting in", patience, and that you should not be wearing a favorite shirt while painting a room.

Going from being surrounded by mint green to updating to a nice modern feel, they are ready to continue their quest to make this house their home.

The finished paint project turned out beautifully. They are both very happy with the results! The color got a much needed update and the atmosphere in which to share this small space has been refreshed!
They did a great job on the precise corners
of the accent wall!
Still need to decide on side tables and a few other pieces to
finish off the look!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

TBT: My Baby Ryan

I couldn't stop gathering pictures...this is my firstborn. Fun days!

Let's see...what else can I chew on!
Happy Baby!

This boy is pretty easy going...
MOST of the time!

An over tired Ryan finally asleep after some rocking.

Happy at play...every day!
Loved his swing!

Probably giggling at a silly sister!

Monday, August 17, 2015

School Days, School Days...Time to Buy School Supplies!

Oh it is time for school supplies again. Last week I gathered together the things that I had and sat with three lists for five kids. Entirely too much stuff to have to keep track of "who needs what"! We decided to take a little different approach this year with supplies.

I didn't have the energy when the school year ended (or maybe I was just sick of the year end routines of the past) to go through everything the kids brought home and see what was left. I just stuffed it all in our supply cabinet in the kitchen (actually, there are two cabinets I use to stash now that all of the children bring home stuff).

Imagine my surprise when I pulled stuff out and found that so many of the notebooks has only 5-10 pages used out of them and the folders that came home were in great shape! (Thanks to middle school and trapper keepers!) I asked my children if it would be a problem for them to reuse the stuff that we could so that we wouldn't have to keep doling out money every year for stuff that is hardly used. They were all in agreement (well, all but one who was MOSTLY in agreement).

 Looking up online the colors in the Crayola colored pencil 12 pack, we sorted through and found all the colors we needed and put them together four times to get the big kids their colored pencils. As you can see, if they happen to run out during the year, there are plenty still left in the bin to get through the year. The little boys did get brand new Crayolas (because, there are certain things that the school year can't start without), and new markers. I also hit the jackpot at Staples earlier this summer and bought all of their glue stick four packs on clearance for 50 cents each so those were new too.

I cut the school supply bill to about half by shopping between Walgreens (which had buy one get one free or half price) and Walmart which has the cheapest school supplies in town that I have found. It was nice to say that I spent under $100 for school supplies this year for five kids. That hasn't happened since...well, EVER!

One more week of summer vacation...we are going to make the most of it!