Saturday, December 19, 2009


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PICTURES! Yes, pictures! Thanks to our friend and neighbor, Pam! My mother-in-law came down (3 hrs. away) on Tuesday. I asked her to bring her software for her camera so that I could load it on my computer. That way, whenever she comes to visit I can get the pictures right away. She doesn't have a computer, so she just uses her memory card at Rite Aid. I took several pictures of the boys for our Christmas photo, only to discover that we never thought of her USB cable! She never uses it, so she didn't think of it... Then that same night, I called our neighbor who has the same camera as my broken one. In fact it's because we liked hers that we decided to get the Fuji FinePix! I was able to borrow it for the next couple of days. I took LOTS of pictures. 71 of the boys the first day and 102 of them the next day. Believe it or not, there were only 3 pictures to choose from (out of 173--so you don't have to do the math!) Sure there are a lot of fun ones--making faces, turned away, laughing with mouths wide open! It was difficult to give back ;o( Didn't realize just how much I missed taking pictures!

Christmas is coming too fast for me! Not ready yet. It took me quite a while to get in the Christmas mood. I don't know why... maybe it's the weather. We had a little snow a couple of weeks ago. That helped. It sure is cold now though! Glad I'm not in Virginia or Maryland!! That's where my mother-in-law is now visiting Jim's brother! They're getting hit hard!

Last Sunday was the Christmas Cantata at church. My niece Leighanna is in the adult choir. Nathan, Jared and my other niece Rebecca sang in a small group of 9 kids for a couple of songs with the adult choir. At the last minute, Jared had a small solo in one o the songs--the other boy didn't feel well. It was sweet to hear Jared. They sang the contemporary version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Typically I don't like modernization of traditional songs, but I really like this. It's arranged by the lead singer of Casting Crowns. Here's a link to a video of the song.

This coming Sunday, my boys and my nieces will sing in a worship choir for the Sunday School Christmas program at church. I can't wait! They have a 2-hour rehearsal tomorrow, and Jared really wants to sing a solo! They'll know who gets what solos tomorrow! I wish Nathan would do a solo, but at this time, he thinks it's a fate worse than death! Owen can't wait until he can join a choir!! They all sing well. Both N & J can sing harmony, which I think is a blessing. A couple of weeks ago, I heard Owen sing a harmony line in a song. I was so excited! I taught them when they were very young -- it comes naturally to me. They also listened to the Gaither Vocal Band regularly when they were little, so hearing those harmonies helped reinforce harmonies.
Owen will be dressed as a shepherd singing with his Sunday School class.

Next Wednesday, Jim's Mom comes back this way -- she'll fly into Albany from Baltimore. She'll spend the night with us, and the boys and I will take her half-way home where we'll meet Jim's brother Jerry who will pick her up. For some reason, she was okay taking the bus to Albany, but she doesn't want to take it going back home. It's the day before Christmas Eve... it'll be a really tight squeeze, time-wise, but we'll get it all done (I hope!!)

I still haven't composed a Christmas family letter! I don't know if I will get one done this year.

Here are a few holiday pictures...

Blue Ribbon Sugar Cookies (we love them, and they're super easy to make!)

Owen posing in front of our tree (doesn't he look innocent?)

Our basket of Christmas books

Just one of the many goofy photos I got the 2nd day!

I think it was finally getting to Nathan! This was near the end of 102!

Gotta call it a night. It's late again. I never manage to get to bed before 12:30! Until next time...

blessings, joie

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This is our second snowfall of the season! The boys are outside shoveling our "parking lot". The idea is grand until they do it for a short while. Then they're complaining! Not a good thing...
Update: Nathan and Jared ended up doing a great job on the driveway! Dad was really pleased!
I'm adding a few pictures from Christmases past...

20 years ago with my sisters!

I can hardly believe it's already the 9th of December! I'm not ready for Christmas yet! I cannot proudly boast that I'm done with my shopping. Hey! Christian Book Distributors (CBD) has a free shipping deal going on until midnight tomorrow (12/10) I'm definitely taking advantage of that! Your order has to subtotal $35 or more to get the free shippig--easy to do! I placed one order already for Christmas, but I found that there are several more things I want--marked down 90% Gotta love that! Just enter promotion code 305633 at check out!

Sisters 1972

Hoping to make cookies and watch a Christmas video today. Sadly, Nathan and Jared don't seem to be interested in Christmas videos this year.... :o( It kind of surprises me. Owen has watched The Little Drummer Boy 4 times already!

Christmas with my cousins--1964
(I'm front and center!)
Instead of "Keep Christ in Christmas", we believers should "Keep Christmas ABOUT Christ!" There's a world of difference!

Until next time...

blessings, joie
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Saturday, December 5, 2009


Well, the Christmas season is upon us. It doesn't seem that long since we celebrated last year! It's a little like the Twilight Zone!

I'm writing this blog AROUND the pictures I posted from Picasa. I can't change the order, once they're on, but I can move my text around.

As you can hear, I put up my Christmas playlist on the blog! It was fun creating it! There are a LOT of songs that I would've like to put on it that just aren't on

I STILL have no camera to use; it's so frustrating. Not sure what I'll do for Christmas. I really don't want to get a cheap camera just to get by. Since I love to add pictures on my blog, I decided to use some from LAST Christmas.

A cute photo of Owen from LAST Christmas

This is the picture I took last year of my neighbor's lawn that they used for the Christmas card. I was so tickled!

We have our tree up and many colored light strands around the house. We even have lights up outside this year! I think it's the first time ever. A few years ago, Jim thoughtfully put up C-9 lights along the A-frame of the roof. When we plugged them in, they didn't work anymore! We were all disappointed. After all that work, I told him to forget about them... Nathan's the one that's hung ALL our lights this year. He enjoys it and I have no problem letting him!

Our tree from last year with some notes I was going to scrapbook with.

After much thought, I've decided to let Nathan start his own blog. Actually, it was MY idea! I read recently on a homeschooling/homesteading blog of the value of kids doing blogs. I want it to be his, but he has rules to follow. I consider it an on-going learning project--part of school. He'll develop skills in: typing, vocabulary, punctuation, spelling, creative writing, communication, and faith-training--just to name a few. I'm excited about this. Jim, on the other hand, doesn't share my excitement. I assured him that Nathan's time will be limited, and EVERYTHING will be approved of by me before it is posted--even down to his playlist! We spent time last night creating his blog playlist together. Since the advertising messages are sometimes offensive, I'M the only one who will be on the Playlist website. My goal is to help him with the sharing of his faith, his ideas, and his interests. He's already planning on adding recipes, Scripture verses etc. I have to be careful, as I'm very controlling, and want this to be his. Again, as in life, there are rules to follow. He's only put a very short post on so far. Last night, after creating his playlist, it was too late. So shortly he'll be creating a new post. Check out his blog at Your encouragement and comments will be so appreciated by both of us! Add yourself as a follower to his an my blog! It only takes a click if you have a google account. If not, it only takes a minute to sign up!

(last year's Christmas photo shoot)
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Until next time...
blessings, joie

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Friday, November 27, 2009


Please think about the "KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS" war that's going on. It's NOT showing Christ's love. Showing His love is living in a "Christ-Like" manner We should remove the obstacles that keep us from making Christmas ALL about Him. We MUST NOT have an "in your face, I'm gonna say Merry Christmas whether you like it or not!" attitude! NOBODY can really take Christ out of Christmas--not even our government. They can try, but it's up to us as Christians to personally make Christmas about CHRIST in our own homes and in our attitudes toward others!! So say "Merry Christmas" this season. But do it lovingly. Leave the pins, buttons, and bumper stickers home this year!

On that note... I don't think putting up a Christmas tree is a bad thing. We're not worshipping the tree. In fact, I DESPISE the song "Oh Christmas Tree". We're not saying that Christmas decorations have supernatural god-like powers and can take the place of Christ--they can't see us when we're sleeping and know when we're awake.

Focus on Christ with the music you listen to, videos you watch, and the books that you read with your children. Winter songs are nice, but I try to keep them at a minimum. I'm still planning to put my Christ-centered Christmas books list together, but it's so time consuming, and I've not yet had the time to do it.

Until next time...

blessings, joie

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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Just sitting here compiling and enjoying my Christmas playlist. I sneak Christmas in a little bit everyday! I know that a lot of people struggle with Christmas being out in the stores WAY before Christmas. It's what stores do -- sell things! It doesn't bother me because I'm thinking about Christmas gifts in September (do I start my crafts then, when I should? No! In fact, I haven't started yet, and it's 30+ days away!) We don't do anything with Halloween, and for me it doesn't take away from Thanksgiving either. As believers, we should be thanking Him everyday for our blessings anyway! We don't save it all for one day of the year, do we? I hope not! And what are we MOST thankful for? A REDEEMER! So to me, it's all one big holiday celebration to honor our God and King!!

We love our new car, Mark! For us, it's like a brand new car! Still no camera, so still no pictures. Jim's hinted that we might replace our digital camera with an upgraded model! YAY! I don't think they make the model that we have anymore: Fuji Finepix S5200.

Haven't figured out yet what I'm going to do about a family Christmas photo. I think I'm going to ask my sisters to take pictures at our annual Thanksgiving family dinner. We'll get together the Sunday after Thanksgiving for a traditional turkey dinner. I our home, on Thursday, we've decided to make homemade pizza a tradition for Thanksgiving! This will be our 3rd year. We'll have our family dinner at Donna's on Sunday. The day AFTER I'll make a roast chicken and have the traditional sides. (Jim and I prefer chicken over turkey). It's always nice to eat "leftovers".

I better start putting together my yearly Christmas letter! In the past I've kept notes in a word processing document of what's happening during the year. This year, I forgot. So I'll just have to go by memory.

Nathan's latest passion is learning about raising ducks! He wants to start in the spring, but I don't know if we really can do anything here. There's just so little room on our lot. Half our lot is taken up by the house and "parking lot". Everyday we read the duck-raising book together. It's his choice to do it with me. He also enjoys Bible reading with me. Again, his idea. We're both reading the book of Luke, so he asked me a week or so ago if we could read it together. We're also trying to get devotions in during the day instead of at night. We always seem to run out of time, and we're in a hurry to get through them. It shouldn't be that way. I really enjoy reading allowed to the older boys after Owen goes to bed, but we haven't had time to do that lately. The book we're reading is Carry On Mr. Bowditch.

Speaking of reading allowed, Owen wants me to read Jotham's Journey to him this year. Jim and I have talked about it. Jared was almost 6 when I started to read it with them. We're considering it. Jim actually doesn't think it'll be a problem. I know that some people won't agree with that; but we as parents know our own children better than anybody. I know what he can and can't handle. If I find there's a part that just won't do, I'll skip over it. I also want to purchase the next book in this series Bartholomew's Passage.

Nathan's making our own Advent candles this year. I bought the boys a candle-making kit last spring. It has metal votive candle molds. So this year we'll use votive candles instead of tapered ones.

Last year in my Christmas letter, I mentioned how Jared was FINALLY a real reader. I was so excited because, before that, I couldn't get him to read more than one book here and there. He was really into reading Hardy Boys books last Christmas time. Unfortunately, the spark fizzled out right after I wrote the letter!!! It's taken him pretty much all year to get that spark back. Now I think it's here to stay! Because he's not a fast reader, I think it's been discouraging for him. Although he reads his Bible daily, I don't think its the same as reading for entertainment. Besides, Jared is busy doing other things in the summer.

I'm considering letting Nathan start blogging. I'm not sure how yet. I'm reading about kids learning through blogging. It's also a way for kids to share their interests and projects with family and friends. It's also good for typing and language arts skills!

Went to our local thrift store last weekend for the first time in ages. Hit a jackpot. For $2, we bought 1 Hardy Boys double feature book (Jared's thrilled), 2 decorative votive candle holders (for Nathan to use for Christmas gifts), 2 decks of cards (for Nathan's card collection)1 Scrabble game (see picture below) 1 shirt for Owen (the reason why they gave it away is because the collar is crooked! It'll be fine for play around the house! Lately he's been a cowboy, so his bandana covers it completely!)

I just love dimensional decorating with letters!

I love my new Christmas tree embossing folder!

I'm going to try and add an old picture -- from my childhood or of our ancestors with each blog post...

My mother's maternal grandmother,
Maria Toth Graf

Until next time...

blessings, joie

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Thursday, November 12, 2009


FYI: There are several Christmas videos (and books) for young children that aren't about Santa Claus. I've enjoyed discovering and acquiring these over the years. Here is a list of the videos that we still enjoy! I will post my list of books as soon as I can. I'm eager to hear more ideas! Just leave a comment! ***NOTE: This is only a list--to give you ideas of what is out there. These are videos that we have in our home library only. The links will take you to Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, or Ebay where you can find more information and/or purchase them on your own. ***

* A few marked with a lavendar asterisk are available in our local library system!

I'm CONSIDERING getting the new Veggie Tales video about St. Nicholas, but only IF they don't indicate that that's where Santa Claus comes from. St. Nicholas wasn't a magic, supernatural being with supernatural God-like powers that "knew when you were sleeping and knew when you were awake and knew if you'd been bad or good." AND if you were bad, you just might be punished with coal in your stocking and no gifts!

I also just learned that there's another Nanny & Isaiah video "...welcomes the Savior". I'm going to buy it used on Amazon. I'll add it if we like it.

Some of these videos are only available "used". Some of my links take you to Ebay or Amazon Marketplace.

SO glad I don't have to give up these precious videos yet -- with Owen being little still! I'll miss them when he grows out of them! I'll play them for myself then! Or I'll just MAKE my kids watch them!! ;o)

I hope this list helps! I'll add to this list if I find anymore videos.

Please add yourself as a follower of my blog. It's simple to do. I love your comments, so take a minute and leave one if you'd like! They inspire me!

blessings, joie

Monday, November 9, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, Sammy Grayson stopped working. :o( Sammy is our Ford Escort. The transmission went. Uggh! We've been without a second vehicle for a while. Thankfully, Jim has had the pick up for work. Since then we've been looking--actually, we've been looking for a long time because Nathan barely fit into the backseat of the Escort. We wanted a diesel van, but they're hard to find used. Because the need to replace our car was so great, we had to put aside the idea of getting a diesel and get another car quickly. Our friend, mechanic and Christian brother Joe did some shopping around for us and got us a nice Mercury Grand Marquis. When I get my camera working again, I'll post a picture. It's really nice. Joe came by this afternoon with the car on a lift truck. The boys were so excited! He then took away our van Lucy and the Escort, Sammy Grayson. Lucy's been sitting in our driveway unusable for 2+ years! The boys were sad to see them both go, but life goes on. We haven't named this car yet, but rest assured, we will soon! We are so thankful for Joe and all the work he did on our behalf -- running to DMV twice, bringing the car to us, adding some extras, etc. God is good! Update: the boys decided on Mark for the Marquis!

Ran errands today with Jim. I really DON'T LIKE running errands. It makes me grumpy. We went to the Walmart at Crossgates Commons. I haven't been there in a long time--before the 2-levels with the escalators! The boys couldn't wait to show me! Jim had taken them there in the past. While we were there, we ran into Laura, a girl that Jim had worked with at Fed Ex. Jim always spoke so highly of her. We met her for the first time today. She was so nice! She recently got engaged!

Pictures from the recent past, PCB (pre-camera breakdown). I might've mentioned last time that Nathan and I like to photograph our food! We want to make a cookbook of our favorite family recipes! THIS is when I wish I did digital scrapbooking!

Nathan's drawing of a CSX truck! Nathan isn't interested in drawing, so I was surprised and really impressed!

Pizzadillas! (quesadillas with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and sauce) YUM!

flowers from my sweetie--no special reason

Quite the load of dirty laundry, wouldn't ya say!

Borrowed several Thanksgiving videos from our public library. Tonight the boys watched Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving. It was terrible! Pointless. They talked very little about the first Thanksgiving--which is why I borrowed it. Just awful... We also borrowed The Mouse and the Mayflower. I watched that as a kid! It's very cute. They love that!

I'd like to write more, but I'm very tired tonight, so I'm going to turn in early.

Until next time....

blessings, joie

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


On October 15th, Jim and I were married 15 years!!

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post! There's nothing out of the ordinary going on, I've just been lazy about blogging! What's going to make it tough for me now is: MY CAMERA IS BROKEN! I haven't been able to take a picture for almost 2 weeks! At first the error message was "focus error". Then it changed to "card error". It's not reading my card. The drop (I dropped it) caused the card to not stay down into the slot as far as it needs to. Then today I figured out that I could use a folded-up piece of paper and wedge it between the card and the flap/door. It worked! I even took a few pictures of the boys outside! Then as I was taking pictures, it got blurry. Now "focus error" comes up. I can't use the camera! It's strange how the focus was fine a couple of minutes before! VERY Frustrating!

Even though the date at the top of this post says something different, today is October 31st. We do not participate in the tradition of celebrating Halloween. The Lord convicted me of that long before we had children. We are to be "set apart" from the world and not participate in the things that would offend God. If we don't feel "in the wilderness" (out there) much of the time, then I wonder if we truly are "set apart". If we're comfortable being part "of the world", then maybe a re-examination of the heart is necessary. As far as Halloween goes--is dressing up offensive to God? No, I don't think so. But why is Halloween the only time we or our kids can do that? Why not be different and have a costume/birthday party? Or a dress up party in the middle of the winter when we all have cabin fever?!! I've also heard the argument, "we have to be a 'light' on Halloween. How is participating by giving out candy or trick or treating being a "light"? I'd much rather be a "light" by gently telling someone that we don't celebrate it and explaining why we don't IF they ask! I have to leave that up to God. I know that some people don't want to offend family and friends by not being a part of things. It's just easier to go along with things and "not make any waves". Let me tell you, when Nathan was little, he told a grandparent that he knew Santa Claus wasn't real. He was almost 3. That person was so upset. Jim and I listened to a 1/2 hour of angry words over it. We had to endure that. We lived through it, and eventually that person accepted it. That doesn't mean that family or friends LIKE it, but they have to agree to disagree at some point. We don't compromise on these issues. We don't rub it in their faces either! It's been hard over the years because the boys have shared with other kids about Santa Claus and that has caused some friction (even though we've told them not to). I am finding that it's more difficult to talk with Christians about these issues. Listen, the enemy is hard at work here! He loves it when we make excuses for the things we do!

Having said all that... I have posted a bunch of pictures in random order, so I'll note what each picture is as I go along!

Owen with the remote control of his new dragon fly (that the boys convinced him to get with his birthday money!)

The dragon fly flying

Owen writes all the time! This is so cute! (Of course, someone told him how to write this)

Autumn in our little part of the world--on the way to church!

Fishing at the Harrises in early October

If there's a tree to be climbed, Jared's there! (at the Harrises)

Owen with Mr. Harris! He told me later that he didn't really like it; it was too scary! Nathan and Jared rode with the girls, but I forgot to take pictures!

Our friends Lori-Ann and Graeme were passing through town. So they called us, and we met for lunch. They live in Maine. We had lunch with our boys. Jim happened to get out of work early.

I'm having fun taking pictures of food we make!! This is Apple Crisp (w/ an oatmeal topping)

The boys sang with their cousin, Rebecca, and 2 other girls WITH the adult choir for special music, kicking off Mission's Week at our church.

Jared's long-time dream--to carry a flag during the opening ceremonies of Mission's Week! Nathan carried a flag too, but the pictures are so blurry! Didn't plan that well...

A few weeks ago, Nathan and Jared started Christian Service Brigade at our church. They're loving it!

Until next time (hopefully, not long from now!)...

blessings, joie

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Goings On

Late last week, I caught a 9" trout. We went fishing Sunday, and Jim caught 2 crayfish (crawdads) I can't believe that they look exactly like a lobster only little! The ones we got were about 3" and 4". We kept them for a couple of days in a bucket. Nothing exciting happened! We fished again today, and things were really slow. Owen caught one small trout and Jared caught a crayfish. Actually Jim and Jared didn't exactly "catch" them, THEY caught on to the worm and just held on tight! The creek is so low. We watched Owen's fish hiding under a rock for a while. His tail was sticking out about 2". It was like a little kid hiding with just his head under a blanket! He would turn around and snatch the worm (but not the hook). He did that a couple times, all the while we watched him! Finally he grabbed onto the hook. It's weird for me. I'm used to fishing in the St. Lawrence River (as a kid) and not being able to see anything in the water and being surprised when we caught a fish.
9" trout that I caught
Last week, Jim drove through town. He's done it a few times in the past, but it's been quite a while. Of course, he called me a few minutes before he was coming into town. It's always a thrill to see him!
Jim coming down the hill into town
THIS is a bummer! On Friday our trampoline broke! The boys had just gotten on it the day before for the first time since May! They were out alone for a while, and I decided to go out and sit on the back porch. A minute later, they called to me and said they needed help (not in an urgent tone). I couldn't figure out what the problem was at first. All three boys were in the part that collapsed. It turns out that a screw (actually there were 2 others around the trampoline) had come out on one part of the U-leg. The other half of the U-leg has a nut and bolt and is attached to the upper enclosure. And this happens when they jump on it?!!!! I'm angry, disturbed, sad, and furious about this! I have to call or email the company to see what they have to say. It's $350 thrown away!!

Here's Owen with his new friend Crystal! She helped out in his VBS class. This picture was taken during VBS week.
Please add yourself as a follower of my blog! Then I can send you an email each time I update it! I also love to read comments that you leave! It inspires and motivates me! (I need that!)
Until next time...
blessings, joie
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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Nathan's been makng some yummy things lately! Here are our favorite chocolate chip cookies! They're thick and chewy! Usually, I prefer chocolate chip cookie dough over the cookies, but these were the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever tasted!! {Nathan will be the first to tell you that I'm his toughest critic-seriously. If I think that something doesn't taste good, I'll tell him. How can he improve on something if he doesn't know the truth about it! Afterall, I'm his teacher!} Then you see Herb Wine Chicken (a dump chicken recipe). With dump chicken, you just whisk up a few ingredients in a bowl, place chicken {we use 8-10 bone-in thighs} in a zip lock freezer bag, pour whisked ingredients over the bagged chicken and freeze! When you're ready to use, thaw for a day or two in refrigerator, DUMP into a baking dish--we use a 9 x 13 large glass Pyrex baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. Your baking time will change, of course, with boneless chicken. If you have a larger baking dish and want to use 12+ pcs. of chicken, the liquid ingredients should be plenty!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Herb Wine Chicken

We're back to homeschooling--starting out slow. I'm working into our social studies subject of New York State History. I'm still collecting books from the library. (yes, I know I should've already done that. Sometimes I have to wait for books, if they're not in the libary that we regularly go to) I think I have enough to started. I'm looking forward to some field trips. I'm considering the Iroquois museum and Fort Ticonderoga. I welcome any suggestions!!

Below are some photos of how we've used these inexpensive bookcases from Big Lots! I just bought another one yesterday to keep my books close by me. I sit at the desk a lot, and I like to have things at my fingertips: Teacher guides for correcting work and tests, unit study guides, devotionals, homeschool books, library books about homeschooling, etc. All of our library books have been in a basket in the livingroom, and I was never reading the books that I took out for myself! Now, I have them right next to me, so I'll remember that they're here!

I'm looking for function--we're a homeschool family, so matching, beautiful [expensive] furniture isn't a priority. This is our former dining room. We gave it up YEARS ago for a homeschool room. We bought a "school table" for Nathan and Jared when they were K and pre-school age. It ALWAYS had stuff on it, and they hated to clean it! So they gave up the school room, so they didn't have to clean it! It's since been a playroom and now the office. It also houses my scrapbook supplies and work area. (the playroom is where the office used to be). It's important for us that the computer and desk are in the main area of the house. That puts me and/or Jim in the center of daily life. And when Nathan and Jared are on the computer, they're right where I can see them. And where my scrapbook area is, I can look up and a tiny bit to the left and I can see what's on the computer screen.

My new bookcase!

desk with bookcases used for hutch

scrapbook area with book cases used as hutch

My 5 yo cutie after a cider donut

Owen playing on swingset
Please add yourself as a follower of my blog! Then I can send you an email each time I update it! I also love to read comments that you leave! It inspires and motivates me! (I need that!)

Until next time...

blessings, joie
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