Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Some days it is hard to stay motivated. I was looking through some quotes today and have to share these. Whatever challenge you are facing, know that you are not alone. If you have a goal to reach, you are not alone. If you feel like you are falling off track, you are not alone. There is a lot of encouragement to be found when we need it....

While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us. - Ben Franklin

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. - Jonathon Kozol

We aim above the mark to hit the mark. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but rising every time we fail. - Confucius

The first and most important step toward success is the feeling that we can succeed. - Nelson Boswell

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. - Chinese Proverb

Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out. - James Bryant Conant

Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount. - Clare Booth Luce

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who Needs a Weatherman?

Need a weather report? Don't bother turning on the television or checking the internet. Check to see what sports season it is. For the last few months we have had a super mild winter. A few storms here and there, but nothing big. 

It has been so mild, we could have watched most of our basketball games outside and it wouldn't have been any colder than during football. People kept saying, "Are we going to get winter?" I would always reply that it would come as soon as softball season started!

It never fails, as soon as spring sports are ready to begin...the snow is ready to fall. Softball practice started this week and so did the cold wind and the snow flurries.

Instead of reading the Farmer's Almanac...try keeping up with the sports schedules. It is fool proof! When we are all ready to bring out our lawn chairs, shorts and sandals...ready to soak up the sun while watching a ball game...don't put away your parka!

In the spring I keep a bag in my trunk with a variety of all season clothes. It is a necessity.

Regardless of the weather, we brave the elements and watch the games. We do wish though, that Mother Nature would check to see what sports season it is!

Note: This picture is not local

Monday, February 27, 2012

Eleven of Twelve

The time is here...we are almost there. We have experienced many practices, games, wins, losses, road trips and fun. We are finished with eleven of twelve sports. 

Our daughter is a three sport athlete. In high school she has played volleyball, basketball and softball. When she entered high school I started gauging my calendar by what sport season it was. I knew at that time we would have twelve seasons of sports to enjoy. Two games and week, some fun tournaments, braving softball games in snow storms and enjoying getting to know a wonderful groups of athletes. 

Flash forward...senior is now over. Softball practice has begun. Eleventh season is over and the twelfth has begun. How did it happen so fast? What makes it harder is that she is our last child at home. We will have one more season of college football with our son...but no more will there be traveling to high school games to watch our high school children. 

Although I will be sad to see it all be done, I have enjoyed this part of our lives more than I can express. The memories will last a lifetime and I couldn't be more proud of my own children and all of the others I have watched. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Slow Down!

We had just cleaned up. Faces were clean, clothes were changed. We were ready for the campfire and a good night's sleep. We were on one of many family camping trips. My younger sister and I always enjoyed these outings.

My sister had a knack for hurting herself and getting dirty. My mom only laughed at us and how much dirt we had collected on our faces during the day of camping. So after dinner my mom made sure we were clean before we went to sleep.

I'm not sure who had the idea, but my sister and I decided to take a little hike before we roasted marshmallows. It wasn't quite dark yet and the campfire wasn't fun until it was dark. There was a great hill behind our campsite, so we decided to take a hike up the steep hill. Everything was great on the way up...

We started back down, eager to get to the marshmallows. I think my sister was a little too eager. 
I  can't remember how old we were. I am pretty sure my sister was in second grade or so. I do, though,  remember it like it was yesterday. My sister was small, kind of short. She took off ahead of me and pretty soon her pace was a little quicker than a walk. "Oh no'" I could see it coming. Pretty soon she was running and her legs started moving faster than she could keep up with. 

She was giggling all the way down...until she went face first and slid the rest of the way down the hill. The laughter turned to tears and at the bottom of the hill was my little sister a little scrapped up and A LOT dirty! Her face was once again covered in dirt with the only clean spots being the streaks from her tears. 

All ended well...marshmallows were had by all...and my sister went to bed with a dirty face!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Words Into Action

Taking our own advice is something that is often forgotten. I am reminded that as I write about Blue Skies I need to portray that in my daily life. I will be the first to admit that I let "stuff" get in the way of what is important. Today, I am reminded to keep my priorities straight and focus on the parts of my life that are the most important.

Words are just words when they are said or put on paper...It is the acting out of the words that put in the meaning. We know the phrases...Practice What You Preach, Actions Are Louder Than Words, Walk the Talk, Lead by Example....the action is the meaning. Without action, words can be empty.

So as I write, I will remember to model the words I say. I will commit to not letting "stuff" get in the way. I will always focus on the important parts of life...those parts that are and bring the Blue Skies!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Can Only Imagine

Surrounded by your glory what will my heart feel? Will I dance for your Jesus or in awe of you be still? I can only imagine...

The words filled my heart and my soul as we sang in church this morning. I truly can only imagine! God wanted me at church this morning. There was so much for me. It was funny, Pastor said, "How many of you thought about whether you were going to come to church this morning or not?" Was he talking directly to me? That was me! I debated on whether to go. I was going to have to go by myself and was very close to staying home. I am glad I didn't!

The songs of praise alone filled my heart. A scripture that was in the sermon was a favorite...Hebrews 11:1...the fellowship of seeing so many people I only get to see each Sunday....It was a great morning.

I thought about the Mercy Me song we sang, I Can Only Imagine...on the other side of that, I thought deeply about...I can't image my life with out my faith and my relationship with Christ. It is who I is the core of my beliefs, it is the foundation of my is my hope. 

I want to share some of my favorite songs with you. I have provided the links and hope you will find some time to listen to some of them.

I Can Only Imagine

He Reigns

Amazing Grace...My Chains Are Gone

The Sound of Your Voice

Who Am I

Take some time to imagine....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

You Can Do It!

Popcorn, candy and a large soda. Seats a little too close to the front. Mom, dad and one excited little boy.

We arrived early to get a good seat. The local theater only showed movies on the weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 7:00 pm were the times you had to be there if you wanted to see the weekly movie selection.

This week it was the Disney classic, Snow White. This was a big night. He was a toddler and this was his first time in a movie theater. It was time to advance from the home video viewings of Barney, Zip-pity Do-Da and The Land Before Time. He was ready. He understood that he had to sit in his seat, be quiet and we couldn't rewind the movie a hundred times. When it was over, it was over.

As we waited for the movie to begin, he was very excited. Finally, the old projector started up. We were just praying it wouldn't break in the middle of the movie, like it often did. How would we explain that to our small boy. The previews were playing, all appropriate for a young crowd. Giggles and excitement continued to flow.

After about the 3rd preview, he decided that was enough. We were here to see Snow White. We has talked about it all week. He was standing in his seat, hardly able to contain his excitement. After the final preview, there was a brief pause and a look of worry on his little face. We could see he was wondering, "Where is the movie mommy and daddy promised?"

He stood tall on his seat and in his sweet little toddler voice yelled at the screen, "Come on movie, you can do it!" And the movie began...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Send a Farmer to Assembly

This is out of the ordinary for my blog, but I have to do it. I normally stay as far away from politics as possible. I am making an exception. A person I know very well, Brian Dahle is a candidate for California Assembly District. Brian and I graduated from a very small high school. There were 23 of us in our class and we were all very close. We had the chance to really know the character and qualities of our classmates.

Many years later, I am very excited to support a great person in his quest for California State Assembly. Brian is not a politician. He is a real person, a farmer, a businessman, a husband, a father and a member of a great rural community. He is in touch with what is going on in the "real world," he is a part of it. 

He does have political experience as a county supervisor for the last 16 years In that capacity, he has worked diligently with his other supervisors to bring his county to a debt free status. The thing I like is that Brian is not "just" a county supervisor. He and his wife own a farming operation and a plant nursery. They deal with the reality of being a business person everyday. 

Brian is involved in his community. He believes in getting involved and being a part of the solution. 

I write this because I have always felt we need real people in government offices...not people that have made a career out of it. Brian stands for a lot of the things I think are important, This is why, for once, I have decided to say my piece about politics. 

I would encourage you to learn more about him and what his thoughts are. 

Are you one of his voting constituents? 

If you are not...and know someone that is...I encourage you to let them know about this candidate and have them see what they think. 

I am not one to tell people how they should vote, but I would encourage you to take a look at what Brian has done, what his ideas are and decide what you think. I think you may like what you see...a real person who really cares about our state and our future.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meet Buster

Buster is the newest addition to our ranch and he is a sweetie! A few months ago our Queensland, Blazer died. He had become my dad's dog. (My dad lives on the ranch with us.) It was pretty obvious how much my dad missed Blazer. My dad left for a few weeks to go visit my grandma. It was during this time my husband decided he wanted to get dad a new dog. Finding a Queensland was a little difficult. Somehow this was meant to be and we stumbled on this precious little puppy.

Some friends from Oregon were passing through and stopped for a visit. She works at a vet clinic. We asked if she knew of anyone with Queensland's..."As a matter of fact I do!" She returned to Roseburg, got a hold of her friend and sent us pictures. We knew right away which puppy we needed.

When he was ready to leave home, we drove to Roseburg and picked up our new family member. We have had him since last Friday. I have really wanted to blog about him, but I knew my grandma reads my blogs and my dad might see it! We wanted it to be a surprise.

My dad got back last night. When he came down for coffee this morning, we surprised him. A few hours into the morning, it is very clear that both dad and puppy are very happy!

We named him Buster for my grandpa. My grandpa named every female dog he ever had Mitzi and every male, Buster. So we thought it would be a great honor to grandpa.

Welcome to the ranch Buster!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Never Fails

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
There are many meanings to the word "Love."    

"In the English language we have one word for love - and it can mean many things in different contexts. For example, the love that a mother feels for her child would be quite different in nature to love felt for her husband. Yet the English vocabulary only offers us this one word. The Greek language  has four different words for love...'agapē', 'philia', 'eros' and 'storge...' all of which have slightly different meanings. "

This is a word created in the Greek language to describe God's love, which is selfless, unconditional and 'true' love. There are over 250 instances of this word in the New Testament. One of the most famous example is in 1 Corinthians 13, often known as the 'hymn of love'. Here the Apostle Paul delves into the attributes and values of God's agapē - this kind of love is patient and kind, and always protects, trusts, hopes and endures.
In the Greek language, this kind love is about the way that we might love our friends, family and community - with an affectionate, brotherly love.
'Storgê ' means 'affection' and is concerned with the natural affection that exists between relationships. For example,  the affection that a parent might feel for their child.
This greek term for love is linked with the notion of desire, and is concerned with passionate love and sensual longing. Although often linked with desire, it can also be concerned with love in relationships that are more than 'philo'.
No matter what kind of is around us all the time and ready to be received. Love never is a beautiful gift to give and receive....Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012


I was much younger and much faster...good thing! We were walking down the driveway to our first home. We were chatting and not paying much attention to our surroundings. As we came around the corner and our little house was in site...there he was...a fat little skunk by the rail pile along the driveway. It was just about dusk and time for the little varmits to come out. I wasted no time. My husband didn't see the skunk, but I made him aware that he was there.

"SKUNK!" I screamed as loud as I could. I then took off at a dead sprint never looking back, as I knew the skunk had to be right behind me! I couldn't hear anything but my feet hitting fast against the gravel driveway. I have no idea how fast I got there, but I ran past our house, around the corner and down the driveway before I could hear the faint sound of my husband's voice. "Val, Val, Stop!" He hollered. "Stop, are you  kidding," I thought. Getting sprayed by a skunk was the last thing on my list for the day. 

My husband finally caught up to me laughing hysterically. I am not sure if he was laughing because of the skunk or just plain surprised I could run that fast. I was completely out of breathe and now quite a ways past our house. I looked around and didn't see the skunk anywhere. Apparently, I scared the skunk more than he scared me and he didn't chase me at all. I ran for no reason. My husband watched from behind as I had to of set some kind of world record. 

This memory of when we first got married will always stick with me. Moral of the story...Don't keep running, there may not be anything chasing you!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

See You Monday

The weekend is filled with lots of stuff..laundry, housework no time for fluff! I have a list of things to do, but threw in a walk and a craft day too!

I have to get busy, no time to I will see you Monday...have a great night!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Wish for You

Simply put...this is my wish for you all! Have a beautiful Day!

Thank you for reading and sharing with me each day. 

Even on days like today...when there isn't enough time to finish my list...I can't help but want to say hello to all of you wonderful people!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sugar Free!

SIX WEEKS! For six weeks now, I have successfully eliminated sugar and soda from my diet and I feel great! Who would have thought "Miss Snickers a Day" could give up sugar? I didn't think I could...but anything is possible with determination.

A little sugar isn't too bad, but my problem was too much. It seems like once you start eating it, you just want more. So why is it so bad for you if you can't keep it in moderation?

Here's just a few reasons:

Tooth decay and Gum disease. The very obvious reasons. We have always been reminded to brush our teeth when we were kids and were told that too much sugar would rot our teeth out.

Unstable blood glucose. Eating too much sugar causes our blood sugars to go haywire. When the sugar levels in our blood fluctuate, they lead us to feeling fatigue and exhaustion. Headaches and mood swings are also apparent when the blood glucose is unstable. Moreover, the more sugar we take in, the more unbalanced our blood glucose becomes, and the more sugar our body craves in order to fix the imbalance it perceives. 

Obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  Sugar in the blood that is too much for the body to consume completely is stored as fat. Too much fat in the body can lead to obesity, and obesity is known to trigger diabetes and heart disease. 

Malfunctioning immune system. The bacteria and yeast that are present in our blood stream feed on sugar and cause them to multiply. If there is an imbalance in the growth of these bacteria and yeast, our immune system may not be able to handle it. It could, therefore, weaken. 

Chromium deficiency. Ironically, too much sugar in the body causes the body's ability to regulate sugar levels to go on strike. This is because most of the sugar we eat is already refined and lacks chromium, the chemical needed to help manage the levels of sugar in our blood. 

Nutrients. Consuming sugar makes the hunger pangs go away. When we take in too much sugar, we do not feel the need to eat food that contains more of the important nutrients that our body needs, such as vitamins, iron, calcium and magnesium. There is a difference between feeling full after every meal and gaining the nutrition you need from every meal. 

Stress. When we eat too much sugar, we go on a sugar high because of the energy boost we get from the sugar consumption.This is temporary; our energy level takes a plunge afterwards. When this happens, the body releases hormones to bring the sugar level in our blood back to optimum level, and these hormones include the stress hormones: adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones make us irritable and stressed out. 

Aging. When we eat too much sugar, the process called glycation can occur. When this happens, some of the sugar we consume sticks to the proteins in our body, causing our body tissues to lose their elasticity. It is not just our skin that is affected, but also our internal organs. The faster that the body loses its elasticity, the faster aging occurs. 

Cognition. Too much sugar in the body also affects our mind's ability to learn and recognize. 

* Information from Beauty Den

I have a good friend who told me these things many times, especially when I was tired, kept injuring myself, would get sick and was just plain not taking care of myself. She was right! I am not saying I am never going to eat sugar. I will though, eat it in moderation and balance it with exercise and other healthy choices!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spice...It Only Took 22 Years!

A little spice is good for everyone. It only took 22 yeas of marriage for me to figure that out! How did it take me so long?

Not the spice you're thinking with spice! I have finally started using the spices in my cupboard and want more! It is amazing what a little spice can do. 

Salt and Pepper...boring. Garlic Salt, season salt...common. It is on to pepper combination grinders, white and red pepper. Savory spices, sweet spices...can turn an ordinary meal into something very different.

Finally, I realized that I needed to take more time in preparing food and using ingredients. I have began to shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. Healthier food...but even better when prepared with a variety of ingredients and SPICES!

I love the smoky smell and flavor of cumin, a bit common I guess, but I had never used it! Now it is a favorite. I even used ground cloves in a spicy chicken soup. It is fun to seek out each of the flavors.

If you haven't yet...try spicing it is worth it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not My Uncle

My maiden name is Suess...carefully look at the spelling...S-U-E-S-S. As much as I would have loved it...Dr. Seuss was not my uncle.

I grew up being teased about it. "Is Dr. Seuss your uncle." I never really understood why I was teased. It would have been pretty cool to have a famous uncle. No one could ever say my name correct. It was always pronounced like Dr. Seuss. The correct pronunciation is like "cease." Nonetheless, I love Dr. Seuss. We have a great collection of Dr. Seuss books. They were favorites of our children. 

Theodor Seuss Geisel was his real name. He was born in 1904. At the time of his death on September 24, 1991, Ted had written and illustrated 44 children's books, including such all-time favorites as Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, the Places You'll Go, Fox in Socks, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His books had been translated into more than 15 languages. Over 200 million copies had found their way into homes and hearts around the world.

I still enjoy the witty way he put his stories together. He also has many quotes I really enjoy. They are so simple, but yet so full of meaning...Here's a few of my favorites.

-You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.

-From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.

-Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.

-Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.

-If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.

-I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent.

-And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.

-Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

Even though we are not related...I am happy to take his words and put them to use!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super What?

Super game? Super amount of food? Super friends? Super funny commercials? Super what?

Today is that know the one I am talking about. The day of football, more calorie consumption that any other day, gatherings of friends and almost seems to be treated as a National holiday.

I for one am not too excited about the actual game. I really don't like the Patriots (sorry nephew Seth!) and the real opinion there. Am I participating in Superbowl activities? Yes, but after church and my afternoon walk. Some people dedicate the whole day to the game. 

Today, I am looking more forward to the commercials, I hope they are good this year. The time with friends is also something that will be a lot of fun. 

I hope the game is good. There is nothing worse than watching a one sided football game. I am also wondering if the singer of the National Anthem will remember all of the words.  Halftime show? I don't even know who is performing...let's hope for a family friendly performance. 

My day will be super...I will be surrounded with friends and family. So it doesn't really matter who wins the game or how much food is on the table. Here's wishing you all a great day too!

Friday, February 3, 2012

How Do You Define Family?

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. 
 ~Johann Schiller

When you think of family is it just the people you are related to by blood? By marriage? Your close friends?    

Family is defined as: A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children; Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place; All the members of a household under one roof; A group of persons sharing common ancestry. 

I think family is a lot more. Many of us have people we call aunt or uncle, that we aren't even related to. They are often good friends of our parents. Others come into our lives and just find a special place in our heart. Friends can feel like sisters and brothers. Older friends can feel like parents or grandparents. I believe it is what is in our hearts.

My blood family is amazing, I couldn't be blessed any more. My family by marriage is equally amazing. Then there are the other friends and special people that I would be proud to call family.

I want to dedicate this blog to a special lady. An past employee of ours is a special person. He liked to check up on me like my dad. He and his wife treated our kids as if they were grandkids. She passed away yesterday. She was a special lady with a bright smile and an amazing heart. She will be missed...her kindness was genuine and her gentle way could make anyone feel like they were important to her. She was like family.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Would I Do Without My Smartphone?

More like...what would my kids do without me and my smartphone? 

I would have never thought I would admit that I NEED my phone. How ridiculous is that? I didn't even have a cell phone until I was 35 years old, and that one I shared with my husband. I resisted on getting an I phone....but I eventually gave in. Now, my whole life (and my kid's lives) are on that phone!

Case in point...Yesterday I was at an appointment in town and I received a text message from my son who is in college in Nebraska. "Hey mom, can you look to see what room my Middle Eastern history class is in?" It was the first day of the semester and he had forgot to look at where his second class of the day was...the easy answer, ask mom.

He happened to be in luck. Just as I do each semester, I snap a picture of his schedule with my phone. I opened my photo album and looked at his scheduled. Within minutes I texted him the location of his class. Wow! That could have never happened when I was in college. 

What do I do with my phone? Everything. In the morning as I am getting ready, I listen to my Bible reading plan. I track my exercise and weight watcher points on my phone. My whole calendar is is there. My walking music play list is on my phone. I check email, can write my blog, can get directions and Google any question that comes up.

My son has had "financial" situations that my phone has saved the day on. When he was driving home from Nebraska, he had a blow out on his pickup in the middle of nowhere Nevada. He tried to reach us, but we were out of cell service. He got a hold of his grandpa, who reassured him of what he needed to do. Which basically amounted to getting ripped of by a small town tire shop. When he finally reached us, he was concerned about his money status and having enough to get the rest of the way home. In steps the smartphone. Log into the bank account and transfer money. Again, in my college days, I would have been plain out of luck.

I have to eat my words, I never thought I needed a smartphone, but I do. Much of it is convenience. But it has also solved some pretty big problems. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Being Nice

The other day my daughter and I had a conversation about how some people are just mean. How they do things to other people that are just not nice.  What brought it up was that we know someone who just had their window of their car busted out and items stolen out of the car. The car was parked in front of a school. 

Out of that conversation we decided..."How great would the world be, if everyone could just be nice." Is it so hard? You know the concept, "The Golden Rule." We have worked hard to try to teach that in our family. It is not always easy to be nice, especially if someone isn't nice to you. I think the point we sometimes miss, is it isn't how others act, we cannot be responsible for that. It is how we is there that we have the responsibility.

I am not saying I have never been mean, but I will say that as life progresses, I see the importance of being positive and nice. Have you ever been in a situation where someone is being rude and you didn't partake. Instead, you remain calm, positive and nice. It is interesting to see how the attitude of the other person can change. It is hard for someone to be argumentative or rude if the other side of the conversation doesn't participate.

If we all try...we can spread the "niceness." I know it never be a perfect world, but it is nice to try to do our part. 


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