Freshwater Academy

Fresh Water Academy was founded in 2010. It is home to four lovely young ladies of learning and their dedicated teachers. Located in the wilds of Wyoming, the name Fresh Water Academy was chosen as a Western analogy to Christ. Just as He is the Living Water, and we must have Him to have eternal life, any desert dweller knows the importance of fresh water to life, both for self, and the nourishment of crops or livestock. By taking nourishment in God and His word, we strengthen our own relationship with Him, our faith, and the quality and abundance of our fruitfulness.

Our keystone verse is from Jeremiah, Chapter 17, Verse 8: "For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."

The fruit that we speak of is mentioned in Galatians 5:22
"22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

And the heat could be anything we experience that might test our faith in God; trials and tribulations, relationships, anything that focuses our love and attention anywhere but on Him...

Monday, January 30, 2012

No-Poo Shampoo Review

I have to say, after my husband has said, for the fourth time, "You need to stop using that stuff you made and go buy yourself some good shampoo because your hair is getting rough and sticking out.", that this experiment has probably been unsuccessful at my house.  I am very disappointed, because I was thrilled by the idea of saving so much money, but my head is itchy, and I have flakes of yellowish scalp (yellowish?) peeling off all over my head, making me feel a bit like a leper sloughing skin.  Gross, right?

So this morning I rubbed my scalp in olive oil and am making an effort to remoisturize it, since it seems like it's really dry and that the homemade no-poo has sucked all of the moisture and life out of it.  I am still interested in using Castille soap to make my own shampoo, perhaps milder than those in the store, and I'm still sure it will be cheaper, but no more No-Poo for me!

On to the next money saving idea! :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln faced a lot of challenges and setbacks throughout his lifetime.  From a very young age he worked hard helping on the family farm, he achieved most of his education on his own.  His mother died while he was still a child, and as a young man he lost his fiancee to death as well.  He went into business with a partner who wasn't all in and lost his shirt.  He spent years paying back the money that his friends had lent him to get started.  He was defeated in several Congressional and Senatorial races, as well as an appointment to the Electoral College and the Vice Presidential race.  However, through it all he persevered.  Not only did he persevere, but his strengths of character are known and revered even today.  "Honest Abe" was and still is known for his honesty, kindness, and trustworthiness. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

NaNoWriMo Here We Come!

Yes, I know it's a ways away, but did you know there is a National Novel Writing Month Site for Young Authors as well?  I first found the link through the National Writing Project Site,  This site offers encouragement for teachers and young authors, as well as links to printable and electronic resources,

One of the links led me to this site,, the Nano Wrimo's Young Writer Program.  You can create an Educator ID, which allows you to build a classroom and add your students (after you've registered them).  There are links to Classroom Kits which are available for classrooms, and a small group link for classes smaller than ten.  

National Novel Writing Month won't come till November, but we are ready and excited when it gets here!  In the meantime, they've also provided a link to a program called Script Frenzy, which sets a goal for 100 pages of writing throughout the month of April.  

Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Bunkalo and Other Elusive Mammals

A Bunkalo, you say?  Just what is a Bunkalo anyway?  Turns out, he's a tiny beanie stuffed buffalo, that is thrown at you when you yell "Bunko"!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 was Family Night at the Natrona County Public Library.  Festivities commenced at 6:30 PM, and were kicked off with pizza, soda, and tables of Bunko players.  I had never played Bunko before in my life, had barely even heard the name, but it was easy to pick up, and we had a ball!

The Natrona County Public Library always has fun activities for kids, teens, and adults, but this is the first family night we've been to.  Definitely worth repeating!

El Marko Lanes

After our lovely experience on Tuesday (see previous entry), I was dejected and depressed.  The kids were upset and disappointed, and my husband knew he had to cheer us up somehow.  So, he suggested we head to another bowling alley in town, called El Marko Lanes.

When I was a kid, El Marko was a dark, dingy, smoky place.  I remember going on a school field trip there, and I'd been there a few more times.  

We pulled up in front, and I ran in to ask if we would be able to bowl.  There was a no smoking sign on the door, and the room was clear and not smoky at all.  The clerk at the counter looked up and smiled as I came in, and was eager and willing to help.  He answered all of my questions, of which I had many, and I went back out and got the family.  

I asked about the bumpers, and he said once we got the names entered, to come back and let him know which names needed them, and he would enter it so they would come up automatically on those people's turns.  It was really cool!  We had a few resets, and more than one occasion where Hannah threw the ball over the bumpers and into the next lane, where the ball had to be fished out and sent back (thankfully there was no one bowling there).  Becca tossed it over the side and into the gutter where it got stuck about halfway down once, and the guy had to walk down the middle to pick it up.  Laramie fell to her knees at least once, and I did as well, but my very next ball was the stuff of comic strips and sitcoms, when I swung my arm back to prepare for launch, and the ball dropped off behind me and rolled towards the bench.

We still had a day full of family fun.  We spent a wonderful afternoon at a very family friendly, bustling and busy establishment.  They were patient and willing to answer all of our questions, reset our pins, find our lost balls, and help with all the needs of novice bowlers.  

We ate a late lunch at the cafe, and fed our family of 7 a full, very filling meal for less than $40, including sodas.  I can't hardly get by with that eating off the dollar menu at a fast food joint!   And, our 26 year old son was able to eat till he was full, which is pretty much next to impossible unless we're at a buffet.  

I would definitely recommend a visit to El Marko Lanes if you're in Casper, WY and you want to go bowling!
2800 Cy Avenue # A
Casper, WY 82604-3484 
Phone:  (307) 237-9558

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Bowling

I put off writing this for two days, because I was mad, and I didn't want to relive it!  I was also trying to figure out how to organize my writing, because, while we had a really stinky experience at one place, my husband's quick thinking, and the great time we had at the other place saved our day of family fun!  So I decided to write two separate entries (I know, not sure why it took me that long to come up with it either, though I will say I didn't have time to do much more than breathe as I was running yesterday, because it was nuts!).

My parents bought us a gift card to Sunrise Lanes in Casper, WY for Christmas.  It was a wonderfully thoughtful gift for the entire family, and we have been so excited about going in and spending the day together!  We have a large family (7), so we thought we'd call ahead and see what kind of specials they had and what would be the best deal for us.  I went to their website, and emailed them two weeks before we wanted to go, asking for information.  I gave it a few days, because I know sometimes it can take a  bit to get back to someone, but I didn't hear anything.  Over a week later, a few days before we had scheduled to go, I tried calling their office.  I left a message, and waited fruitlessly for a return call. 

At this point, we figured that we wanted to go, and that the day we had chosen was what worked best for us.  We knew they were open, so we set the day aside and made plans to drive in (we live about 50 miles away).  We got there on Tuesday, just a few minutes after they opened.  As we walked into the building (Sunrise Shopping Center), we were bombarded by a whirl of snow and ice bits flinging themselves wildly from the roof.  We walked together down the long hall to the bowling alley, and pulled open the door.  

The girl behind the desk raised her head and looked at us dispassionately, as we glanced around.  No greeting, no friendly smile, no "How can I help you?", just a blank stare from behind a mountain of counter in an ice cold room.  As we walked up to the counter, shivering (still in our coats since we had just come from outside), my eyes took in the acres and acres of empty lanes.  24 gleaming lanes ready for business, and not a soul in the place, other than the woman at the counter, and a young man who worked there eating at a table nearby.  

I explained that we had received a gift card for Christmas, and we had tried to call ahead but never got a reply, so we drove in to come bowling.  I asked if we would need two lanes, and she said yes, she'd set us up on these two, pointing to one end.  I mentioned that the lady my mom had talked to had recommended bumpers for the kids since they had never bowled before, and she acted like it would be a big production to use them.  "Oh, well we don't have them on those lanes."  I asked if we could have different lanes, and she hemmed and hawed.  I asked what the best deal for us would be, and she figured out what an hour of bowling would cost.  I asked how much more time would be, and it was like she was encouraging us to be there for the shortest time possible!  Then we decided we would bowl for 3 hours, and handed her the card.  She rang it up, ran the card, and said "Are you sure you haven't used this?"  I said I was sure we hadn't used it, that it was the first chance we'd had to come in since we had gotten it for Christmas.  I explained that my mom had called from Washington State where they live to buy it for us, and that someone there had written the card and sent it to us directly.  She said "Well, there is a zero balance on this card."  I said "I activated it, because the note on the card said to go online and activate it, but we haven't been in to use it."  

The bowling manager came out and took all my information, made copies of the receipt and card, and basically told me there wasn't anything she could do, that she would have to turn it over to her manager.  They kept asking over and over again if we were sure we hadn't come in and used it, and made me feel like they thought I was a criminal!  They were able to backtrace the activity on the card, which said it was loaded on the 12th of December, and the entire amount was used/taken off on December 13th.  We didn't even have the card on the 13th, because it was mailed directly from them after my mom called and purchased it.  

We ended up leaving, because I was hurt, dejected and dissatisfied, and Paul and I were both angry.  We didn't care to spend our money somewhere where they treated us like criminals.  I called my mom and told her she might want to call her credit card company, because I wasn't quite sure what had happened, but I knew there was supposed to be money on that card and there wasn't any.   Our kids were very disappointed that we had driven all the way to town to go bowling, and we were walking away, but they accepted it gracefully.

I will say, that if it were my establishment, even if I couldn't fix the big problem with the card, I would have welcomed us, been friendly, tried to fix the problem, and at the very least, set us up on a couple of lanes to bowl for a few games so that we didn't come all the way there for nothing.  The only reason I would even go back is if they actually fix the gift card, it's not like we could go spend it somewhere else! 

We decided to visit another bowling alley, but the night and day difference there is a whole new blog entry just waiting to be written!

UPDATE 1/26/2012
 My mom and I both received calls today, extremely apologetic, from the manager of the restaurant, who is the one who originally sold my mom the gift card.  She said it was an "internal problem", which we both think means someone stole the money - emptied the card before sending it out.  

She and the manager whom I spoke with on Tuesday both apologized profusely and wanted to "make it right", asking for another opportunity to "wow our socks off" and "show us how great they can be".  They reloaded all of the money to the card, and are additionally providing us with a specialty pizza, and sodas when we go back in, to help make up for the lost time and the additional drive to town.  

We agreed to give it a shot, so we are going to call the night before or the morning of our next visit so that she can make sure there are no hassles (that will be the first test, whether someone answers the phone!).  I'm sure we will have a good time, and I will post a new blog after the visit to catch everyone up!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bowling and Bunco!

We received a family gift card to the bowling alley for Christmas, and we're going today!  Then, the library in town is having Family Night, with games of Bunco and Dinner, so we're headed there this evening!  A full day of family fun!  

Thanks to Mom and Dad for the gift card to Sunrise Lanes in Casper, WY!  We will share about our day when we come home. 

What are some of your favorite family activities? How often do you do things together?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Learning Adventures' Stracciatella, Sonja Style!

We use a Unit Study Series called Learning Adventures.  This curriculum is jam packed with great recipes that go along with the area or time period that we are studying, and many are meals that we repeat over and over!  This particular recipe is one that came from the Italian section of the Renaissance and Reformation Unit.  

It is a soup, which is made up of chicken broth, bread crumbs, shredded cheese, eggs, salt and pepper.  I didn't think that was enough for my chowing family of 7, so I added 4 cubed chicken breasts, 2 cups of frozen veggies, parsley, basil, and garlic.  It was incredible!  I also served it with salad and everything french bread.

The actual recipe from the book is as follows:
6 cups chicken stock
4 Tablespoons bread crumbs
3 eggs
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Bring 6 cups of chicken stock to a boil.  In a separate bowl mix together bread crumbs, eggs and cheese.  Mix about 1 cup of the stock into the egg mixture, then transfer all of the bread and egg mixture to the pot with the stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for exactly one minute.  Serve immediately.

Here are the changes that I made:
Bring 8 cups of chicken broth to a boil (I used bouillon cubes).  Cube 4 chicken breasts and add them to the water, boil till chicken is done.  Add 2 cups of your choice of frozen vegetables (we had a cauliflower, broccoli, carrot mix).  

Mix bread crumbs and eggs in a separate bowl.  I had about half a mixing bowl full of bread pieces, because I'd been saving for croutons, so I just mashed those up, and used 6 eggs.  Mix in a cup of whatever shredded cheese you have (ours was colby jack).  When the chicken is done, dip 2 cups of the stock from the pot into the bread mixture, stirring thoroughly.  After it is well combined, transfer the entire mixture to the pot, and cook, stirring, for one minute.  Serve immediately!

I served this with pieces of "Everything French Bread", and Caesar Salad.  This soup is so wonderful!  It is rich and hearty, and creamy.  My husband said "I could eat this a few times a week!"

I definitely consider this adventure a success!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cupcakes from the Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay

See my previous post if you're wondering who or what I'm talking about ;)!  Each of Jenn's books contains several recipes that have been used within the story.  I don't even like cake, but these recipes sounded so fascinating, that I had to try at least one!

This is the recipe that I played with.  

Cupid’s Bliss Cupcakes by Jenn McKinlay (Buttercream Bump Off)

A white chocolate cupcake with a  circle of white chocolate cream cheese icing around the edge with raspberries in the middle and drizzled with a raspberry syrup on top.

Cupcake Ingredients

1& ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon milk

Fresh raspberries

Frosting Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

¼ cup batter, room temperature

1 ounce white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled (see directions to melt)

3 teaspoons milk or cream

2-3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Syrup Ingredients

7 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thaw slightly)

¾ cups lemon juice

1¾ cups sugar

2¼ water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30-econd intervals in the microwave.  Stir well with a fork after each interval.  The chocolate is ready when it’s smooth when stirred.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the melted white chocolate and vanilla extract.  Alternate adding the milk and the flour mixture.  Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups..  Bake at 325 degrees for 20-23 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean or the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.  Makes 18 cupcakes.

Frosting Directions: 

In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, and melted white chocolate.  Beat in vanilla extract and milk, then add confectioners’ sugar gradually until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.  It should be a bit stiff to allow piping along the edge of the cupcake.  Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a circle on the outer edge of each cupcake.  Fill circle with fresh raspberries.  Drizzle raspberry syrup (see below) on top.

Syrup Directions:

Combine raspberries, lemon juice, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook until raspberries are soft, about 15 minutes.  Strain raspberry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve; use the back of a spoon and press down to get all of the juice through the sieve.  Discard raspberry seeds and pour extracted juices into pan.  Simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by one-half or to the consistency of syrup, 20 to 25 minutes.  Add vanilla extract at the end of cooking time.

My family absolutely LOVED these cupcakes.  They raved over them!  My husband scfaped all the crumbs out of the muffin tin, not even bothering with frosting or syrup for some!  They literally licked their plates clean!

I did have to make a few adaptations, because (and here's the disclaimer), I am not a baker, and I know nothing about plating elegant food!  She did describe how to do it, but I don't have cake decorating tools, and I didn't mess with piping a circle of frosting.  Also, raspberries are not something that are popular around our house, and not something I have on hand, so I substituted frozen strawberries.  
I do recommend READING all of the ingredients and double checking to make sure you have everything!  I am usually very exacting about this, but about halfway through production suddenly realized that I was out of cream cheese.  Not "oh I can scrape a little out of the bottom" out either, but completely out!  In a panic, I looked up substitutions, and discovered that you can substitute one cup of pureed cottage cheese, or 1 cup of plain yogurt, strained overnight in a cheesecloth.  Now I didn't have overnight or cheesecloth, so we made do.  I just used the yogurt, and figured that it would probably not have the same consistency.

Don't forget to set your eggs, cream cheese and butter out before you get going so that they have time to acclimatize!   

Putting together the cupcakes themselves was a snap.  They were easy to build, easy to mix, and easy to put into  the pan.  I would definitely recommend dividing for the full 18 cupcakes, either using a bigger pan, additional pan(s), or making a second batch.  I only have a pan for 12, and instead of being patient I overfilled, resulting in cupcakes that rose way above the tops, melded together, and were difficult to remove.  I would also advise investing in the baking papers/cupcake liners.  I had a hard time getting my cupcakes out, even after greasing and flouring the pan.  I had no chance of even trying to plate them beautifully, because they all came out in pieces! 
Her description of  spring back when pressed with a fingertip" was great.  I had always done the knife or fork in the center trick, and this was much easier, faster, and didn't leave holes in my cupcakes.  It was about 25 minutes for us, but they were beautiful and golden.

The syrup took a really long time to boil down, much more than the 25 minutes suggested.  I'm not sure if it was because of the switch in fruit, or an altitude thing, but it was much more.  I think I might play with the water to sugar ratio or start earlier if I were to do it again.  I am also pretty sure I forgot to add the vanilla at the end by the time it was all said and done!

The cupcakes themselves were absolutely delectable!  They were light and fluffy, and just floated onto the tongue to dissolve into air in your mouth.  The frosting was not as thick as it would have been had I followed her recipe completely, so I can't comment on that, but the taste was glorious.  That white chocolate hint in both the cupcake and the frosting was oh so delicious!  And creamy!  And the syrup.  Oh the syrup was just a delightful crowning touch.  Like strawberry lemonade, that burst of sweet fruit with just a hint of juicy tartness just combined all the flavors together perfectly to make what is probably the most delicious cupcake I have ever eaten.  I will definitely be trying more of her recipes, but I'll be making sure I have all of the ingredients ahead of time!

Here is a link to the previous blog about Jenn's books:

And here is a direct link to Jenn's website:

Happy Eating!

Cupcake Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay

First of all, I have to tell you that I am absolutely loving these books.  They are fast reads,  lighthearted with great humor and strong female characters, but great little mysteries.  I love the character interaction and how everything weaves together to build into the plot.  Yes, I do figure out "who done it", but I still enjoy seeing how the character gets there. 

Mel and Angela are some of my favorite  female characters in a long time!  They are strong, but sweet, feminine but determined, and one of my favorite things is that the story is the story.  The author didn't use a whole bunch of graphic sex scenes to fill in the plot and make it a fatter book, she just wrote the story.  In fact, there aren't any graphic sex scenes in these novels, which is a very refreshing change from what is available in adult fiction these days.

I have read the first three books in the Cupcake Murders and am waiting on the fourth at the library.  Sprinkle With Murder was cute, and I enjoyed meeting the characters, but as I read Buttercream Bump Off and Murder By the Dozen, I was drawn even deeper into the continued story of these loveable characters and their lives.  I laughed out loud at some of the antics, especially in Murder By the Dozen, and jumped straight into the first book in her Library Lover's Mysteries, Books Can Be Deceiving, which was exciting, and carried a fresh twist at the end!

I eagerly recommend author Jenn McKinlay :).  I know I'll be reading more of her work!

Here's my next blog, reviewing one of her recipes!

Today is Sunday

We will be heading out for practice this afternoon and leading the worship service at 3.  Here's what we'll be singing today!  Lots of praise for the King of Kings!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

HGTV Dream Home

I will admit.  I am caught up in the craze.  It's a yearly thing for me!  I love to look over the pictures, oooh and ahhhh over the rooms and the bathrooms, all the pretty bells and whistles.  Yes, I suppose it is worldly of me, and I get a little crazy sometimes, but I just enjoy it.  The girls and I watch the show where they introduce it, we check out all the rooms online, and I enter everyday!  And then, after a month of oohing and ahhing, we're done for another year :). 

Don't think I don't love the home I have!  I am so blessed to have a roof over my head and shelter for my family.  And not only that, God blessed me with a wonderful husband and son who work tirelessly to improve upon the home that we have and make it even warmer and more comfortable.  I have got it made, and I am so thankful and so happy with what we have!  

I do have to share my obsession with the Dream Home though :).  This is the first year I've seen that it's actually fairly practical and could be lived in...even by a big family ;)

You can enter everyday through February 17th, at HGTV AND  Here are the links!

To see more of this year's Dream Home, check out the Photos or Tour pulldowns at !

Friday, January 20, 2012


I like to write.  I like to blog.  I am even looking forward to the essay I'm writing for the workshop I want to attend this summer.  So why have I not done any of this lately?   Because I forgot!  Okay, not the essay.  I sit down to do it, and I seem to hit a wall, dead on, with my head.  But the blog I flat out forgot!  Time to start building this habit!

Monday, January 16, 2012

True or False

I hate, hate, hate True/False tests.  With a passion!  Did I mention how much I emphatically dislike True/False Tests?  Despise them!  Those tricky little words are tools of the devil.  Okay, I'm being facetious there, but seriously, they can be twisted into any thought pattern your little heart desires, where true and false are completely insignificant words, and the answer to everything is a timid "maybe".

I could (and did) study for hours, completing not only my own study guide and reading, but helping several classmates as well, reading the chapters multiple times, and I scored a 70%.  A 70%????  What?  What's that?  I actually wrote in the answers, trying to conform the T/F statements to the material I had learned!

Give me an essay, short answer, even fill in the blank.  Please no more True and False!  Test my knowledge of the subject, not my mind reading skills!

Guess I'd better make sure I'm up on my extra credit assignments!

Temper Tantrums

Do you remember yours?  I used to throw some doozies!  My mom and I were just talking about them the other day.  And I said to her, "If you ever wished that I would have a kid like me so that I could experience it, I got it.  In multiples."  Even as adults there are times we want to throw our hands up in the air and scream.  How much more so for a little child who feels powerless to begin with? 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I feel lazy today

I just feel lazy!  I'm having a difficult time to sit down and write anything that's actually motivated, though I've already written a few CafeMom books today, go figure.  We were watching a DVR'd Rachel Ray this morning, and I'm excited to make Creamy Paprika Chicken!  Here's the link to the recipe if you're interested :).  I like her eggplant garbage bowl too...I know, sounds crazy, but so practical, at least if you have the counter space!  I guess an old ice cream bucket for compost would net the same result and be a lot more budget friendly :).

Speaking of budget friendly, I shared recipes for lots of homemade things the other day.  We are loving the laundry soap, dish soap, and the shampoo and conditioner :).  I am seriously thinking about making homemade soaps for Christmas next year.  What do you think?

We also went to Home Depot and bought 5 gallon Homer Buckets, in preparation for the case sale at Smith's.  I have 5 gallon buckets full of sugar, flour, one for rice, and we're planning more! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Local Television

I am still irritated about this whole DISH/Local networks thing, and I think the local networks are being greedy.  I really want my TV stations back though!  I don't get to watch Miss America!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I am heartbroken. Dublin Dr. Pepper is no more.

Well, I think I will be hoarding the Dublin Dr. Pepper in my pantry for a very long time, as there will be no more.  Dr. Pepper killed my favorite place to visit in Dublin, Texas.  There will be no Dr. Pepper/Snapple drinking or Cadbury eating in this house!  It makes me sad and angry that Dr. Pepper couldn't let loose of that 1/10th of 1 percent of their profit that Dublin was raking in, and I am sad and angry that the judicial system would let the big old corporate money grubbers roll right over the top of small town America, thoroughly smushing them on the way.  Grrr!  Some of my favorite family memories are in that little soda shop!  And we always bring a case or two home with us to share with friends and family here.  My dad brought us three cases on his way through as he was moving! 
I hate feeling powerless and angry!
As some of you may have noticed I had pulled this page for the past few weeks. I was asked to do so by the people at The Dublin Dr Pepper bottling company, as they were in negotiations with Dr Pepper/Snapple Corp/Cadbury. In lieu of the outcome of the court case I feel that it is time to open the page back up. It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you the results of the case. A true Texas tradition has died. As of five o'clock central time The Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Co and Dublin Dr Pepper are no more. Dr Pepper/Snapple/Cadbury Companies won their case against our small bottler and have closed the plant in Dublin. They have graciously allowed the new museum and soda shop to remain open, but they will only be able to serve regular Dr Pepper sweetened with sugar; not the original recipe we all love. I know that all of you will be affected by this outcome, but I can't even imagine the devastating affect it will have on my small town. I vow to NEVER buy a product made by any of these companies and pray that you will let them know exactly how you feel. As always, there is contact information on the Info page. Please pray for all of the newly unemployed Dublin bottler employees, and for Dublin, Texas. Thank you for all of your support!


I reposted an article today on CafeMom.  Now, everyone has remained calm and in control of themselves.  No one is being nasty to other people and they're all being respectful, but wow, the amount of dialogue!  I cannot even believe it!  I've been overwhelmed and inundated with traffic!  Thought I'd share the article with y'all and let you form your own opinion :).

Controversial Topic Time?  I don't worry so much about posting things that develop discussion in this group, because we all seem to be adults and realize that it's okay to have differing opinions :).  What are your thoughts about this article?  About Unschooling?  About Education in general?  And I'm sure I don't need to say this, but if you disagree, do it respectfully without bashing, please!

Unschooling is an educational philosophy that believes children learn best through their natural life experiences.

This includes learning through play, games, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction.
Unschooling differs from traditional schooling because it asserts that standardized curriculum, uniform grading methods, and other forms of traditional schools are counterproductive toward maximizing a child’s education.
The philosophy behind unschooling includes several key ideas:
Children are natural learners.
Children are naturally curious and ready to learn. In many ways, schools may inhibit this curiosity by making children conform to a “one size fits all” method of teaching.
When students are forced to learn only one standardized curriculum, they have a lot less flexibility to pursue their individual interests. As a consequence, many students get bored easily in classroom environments. And even worse, they begin to develop aversive feelings toward education.
Unschooling believes that outside of the classroom learning – especially hands-on activities and community-based work – delivers a much more active, engaging, and valuable form of education.
People learn in different ways.
Unschooling also criticizes traditional teaching methods because different people learn in different ways. Because of this, schools often have a hard time adapting to different “learning styles” and maximizing time spent with students.
For example, some students may receive information better through videos, while others may prefer reading. A teacher with 20-25 kids is forced to either choose one or the other – or use both but spend less time with each one. In the end, students may be missing out on better ways of spending their time, especially compared to a more individual-based approach.
Learning how to learn is more important than any specific subject.
Unschooling doesn’t believe that there is an “essential body of knowledge” that needs to be taught in schools. For example, many people will say that subjects like math, science, and writing are of paramount importance in a child’s education.
However, proponents of unschooling assert that fostering the desire to learn is more important than any one subject. And once a child learns to love learning, they will be more motivated to expand their body of knowledge at their own free will.
Focus on social integration.
Traditional schooling is also criticized because many believe that it limits a child from living a rich social life. Many unschoolers find that age segregation, low children to adult ratios, a lack of contact with the community, and rigid school rules, ultimately contribute to an unhealthy social environment.
Instead, unschooling encourages social integration by allowing children to connect with a diverse range of different people in different age groups. Uschooling takes a “community-based” approach to learning, which involves children being active participators in their community throughout a range of different social contexts.
Unschoolers also believe that giving a child some freedom to choose who they associate with (or not associate with) is key toward cultivating a successful social life in the future.

The role of parents.
Parenting also plays an important role in unschooling. Unschoolers acknowledge that parents and adults often have more experience and knowledge than children. It is therefore expected that parents will “guide” the curriculum by introducing children to different subjects and activities.
Despite unschooling’s emphasis on individual interests and allowing children more choice over their curriculum, it is not a completely “hands off” approach to education.
Parents can and should play an active role in their child’s life, especially at a young age. As the child continues to grow, parents should strive to find a balance between guiding their child’s education, but also giving them more responsibility to independently pursue their own interests.
Viewing the world as an “open classroom.”
A big theme in unschooling is that the world is an “open classroom.” Children are taught to think of the life as one big learning experience, and parents help facilitate this process by providing their children with resources, advice, and ways to plan and implement goals.
The “open classroom” method allows children to develop their own natural curiosities toward life, even if these interests may differ greatly from one child to another.
Criticisms and practicalities of unschooling.
As good as unschooling may sound, it can sometimes be difficult to put into practice.
Many parents may find it too difficult or overwhelming to take so much responsibility over their child’s learning – especially since unschooling requires a very active and attentive role for parents. Other critics worry that many parents may not be able to provide a good enough education, or students won’t be able to effectively learn without a more controlled setting.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone to try unschooling without doing more research. I do think, however, that there are some valuable lessons here for any parent to learn. Even if you end up sending your kids to more traditional schooling, many of these things can be still be practiced during after school hours.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To Market, To Market

We're headed grocery shopping and field tripping today.  Library in Casper, counting pasta at the store, reading Felicity...have a great day!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Soaps, Shampoos, etc.

I'm on a kick.  I have been making my own laundry soap for awhile, and the cost is not even a remote comparison.  And since it takes hardly any time at all, I couldn't justify not doing it!
Well today I made my first batch of dish soap, and some shampoo and conditioner using the "No Poo" Method (yes, that sounds gross, I know).  No more tangles for me!  And the dish soap worked really well!
Here are the recipes I gathered from various moms and groups on CafeMom...
Homemade Dish Soap Recipe #2
This version takes a little longer to make, but is even more frugal
  • 1/4 cup soap flakes or soap shavings (any bar soap will do)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1  tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
Get out a sturdy sauce pan. Pour the water and soap fakes in and slowly heat it over medium heat. Stir the mixture and keep heating it until all the soap flakes melt into the water. DO NOT let the mixture come to a boil. Turn down the heat if needed.
Allow the soap mixture to cool a bit, then stir in the lemon juice or vinegar. Keep it sitting in the pot until it is completely cooled, then pour it into an old dish soap bottle.

With either of these two homemade dish soap recipes you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to make them smell better. I find that if I use the lemon juice, I don't need the essential oil. Bottled lemon juice works just fine.
I used lemon juice.  And doubling the recipe exactly filled my dish soap bottle, with enough leftover to do a load immediately!
NoPoo Hairwashing and Conditioning:
I used an old shampoo bottle, and an empty water bottle.
The water bottle was 32 oz., so I filled it with 2 Tablespoons of baking soda (funnel) and water.  Shake it up before each use, Use a small handful and massage into scalp (don't worry about the ends, just the scalp), then rinse and follow up with the following.
32. oz bottle, filled with 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar and water.  Shake well, put on ends of hair, then rinse.  I was tangle free, and if you know me, that's an accomplishment!

Oh, and I can't forget the laundry soap recipe.  That's pure Cyndi!
  Cyndi's Laundry Soap Recipe:


5 gal bucket with lid
Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
Bar of Soap
rubber gloves

Heat 4 cups of water to almost boil in a heavy pan.
Shave bar of soap into water until dissolved.
Pore 3 gallons of hot water into bucket.
Add Soap and Water Mixture.
Stir Well.
Add 1 cup washing soda.
Stir Well.
Be sure to wear rubber gloves before adding borax.
Add 1/2 cup borax.
Stir well.
Let cool over night before using!
Be sure to add ingredients one at a time and stir well after each addition and occasionally as final mix cools.
Use 1 cup per load of laundry.

You don't have to wear rubber gloves but be sure you don't get borax on your face

Do you have any homemade recipes to share?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sharing the Resources!

A fellow blogger recently reviewed what seems to be a wonderful learning tool, and is now hosting a giveaway for the product.  Rather than plagerize her blog, I am sharing the link so y'all have access to these great resources too!

Homeschool Circus Review of The Story of Swan lake from Maestro Classics

Homeschool Circus Giveaway!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tired and achy

Not much of a blog post, but I have a lovely cold, and am voiceless at the moment.  What's that you say?  That not having a physical voice should make me all the more excited about sharing my voice via the written word?  Perhaps, but I'm so exhausted from not sleeping with the coughing and the snuffling and the phlegm, that I am not getting very far.  Have a wonderful weekend all, and may you all feel bright and beautiful!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Country Inn and Suites, Rapid City, SD

We traveled to Rapid City, SD on Monday, January 2, to take my mom to the airport on January 3.  We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites off exit 59, and we really enjoyed our stay.

It was a pretty nice hotel.  I hadn't stayed in one since traveling with sports teams in college, and I wasn't sure what it would be like, but they had a family suite, which I am a big fan of, continental breakfast, which I am always on the lookout for, and a pool. 

I checked Priceline, Expedia, and several hotels online before I found what I thought I was looking for.  I called the hotel to double check some things.  Sometimes a hotel will bill a room as a suite, when it's really just a room with a sofa bed stuck in it.  It's really nice when that suite actually comes with separate bedroom and living room areas. 

The young man whom I spoke with on the phone was very friendly, and answered all of my questions.  I asked about the price, and he quoted one much higher than what I had seen online, so I asked about it.  He looked it up, and found there was an online special, which he was able to go ahead and book for me so I didn't have to get off the phone, go back to the computer, and book it myself.  I thought that was very nice.  

Having a continental breakfast saves our family at least $20, and that's if we ate of the dollar menu at McDonald's!  I can easily figure that into the price of a hotel room, not to mention the convenience and time factor of not having to go get something else.  (It saved us a ton of money and time in Disneyland!)  And I have to say, that this continental breakfast was excellent.  They had waffles, biscuits, eggs, sausage (set up in a tray where it was easy to make sausage egg biscuits or a combination), OJ, very good oatmeal, plain yogurt (which no one ever has!), several different fruits, a pastry selection, including donuts, muffins, bagels and english muffins (another treat you don't often see), and a selection of cereals.  The coffee was really good, which isn't always the case, and our family sat down in the nice, spacious breakfast area to enjoy our time together.

There was this awesome waterslide!  I saw the picture on the internet and thought it was just going to be a slide, slide, but it was as great as a waterpark slide!  A couple of twists with the running water that swooshes you right down, it was a blast!  We spent a couple of hours playing in the pool!

The hotel itself was nice.  The lobby is gorgeous.  You feel right at home in their living room style conversation area, and they have a little lending library where you can sit down in one of the cozy armchairs and peruse a selection of books.  Our girls dove right in!  The staff was friendly and helpful, the fitness center, pool and business center all accessible and easy to get to.  The elevator made funny noises when we went up to our room, and they called in maintenance personnel to look at it immediately when my husband mentioned it to the front desk.

Our room was very nice, spacious and roomy, separate bedroom and living area, televisions in both rooms, plenty of chairs and space in the seating area, and a nice large bathroom.  It had closet space in both sections, which you don't always see, and is a very nice bonus.  King sized bed in the bedroom, full size foldout, and a nice roomy chair for sleeping as well.  There were a few small things.  The door of the bathroom had some scratches on it and rust at the top, which I thought was really strange.  It made it look old, when everything else in the entire hotel seemed brand new!  My mom and brother had a double queen, and they thought their room was comfortable and spacious as well.  When I had spoken with the young man to make the reservations I had asked that the rooms be close together, and they were right next door, so that was wonderful as well!

Overall, I was very pleased with this hotel.  The value was excellent for what we spent, the service wonderful, accommodations very nice, breakfast lovely, and pool fun and family oriented.  The resort fee (which seems to be the norm in Rapid City) also gives you discounts at TGI Friday's next door (which was already a good family deal, see previous blog), a local waterpark, and several other local attractions.

Next time you're in Rapid City, check out the Country Inn and Suites!

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Rapid City, SD

2321 N. LaCrosse Street, Rapid City, SD 57701,

Reservations: 1-800-596-2375 US/Canada Toll-free

Telephone: +1 (605) 394-0017 Fax: +1 (605) 394-0182


Make sure that you join Club Carlson, their rewards program!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

TGI Friday's Endless Lunch

I found this to be an excellent meal deal for our family.  I don't know about you, but my 11, 10, and sometimes even my 8 year old, are usually still hungry after eating kids' meals in most restaurants.  Added to that, kids' meals are often only filled with choices like hot dogs and fries, and I have at least one who would voluntarily choose steamed veggies or fruit, and chicken, fish, shrimp or steak almost every time!

Kids' meals at the average restaurant range from $4 - $6, and usually include one entree, one side, and the best values include a drink, and sometimes even a scoop of ice cream.  Adult meals generally range from around $8 all the way to $20 or so, and we usually drink water, for health, and because it's another $3 to get a soda or tea these days!  I am always on the look out for the best value, the best deal, kids eat free, 2 for $20 specials, anything I can find.

This was a great deal, because it was a wonderful, delicious meal, it filled every tummy, and it didn't break the bank!  We each ordered the "Endless Lunch" Special, for $6.99 at the TGI Friday's in Rapid City, South Dakota.  It included these very yummy breadsticks with the melt in your mouth consistency and flavor of fry bread, our choice of House or Caesar salad, Soup of the Day, broccoli cheese or french onion soups, and a beverage. 

We all ordered broccoli cheese soup, and it was absolutely delicious!  We savored every bite, and every kid ordered refills!  There were a variety of House and Caesar salads, and I noticed that the girls who ordered Caesars thought they were delicious and asked for refills.  There were bright green leaves of crunchy romaine, with buttery croutons and slivers of parmesan.  The House salads were generous, leafy and succulent, with the bright flavors of purple cabbage, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and shredded cheese.  The breadsticks were decadent, absolutely decadent.  They melted in our mouths, and we all salivated for more!  And to have a drink included in the meal just wrapped it all up neatly!

TGI Friday's is also currently running a promotion, where if you buy a $25 gift card, they will give you a $5 Bonus Bites certificate.  We bought $50 in gift cards, and spent those and the Bonus Bites on lunch, ending up with enough extra for dessert, and still $5 leftover to give away (we don't have a TGI anywhere close to us, so we're sharing the love)!  Oh, I think I forgot to mention, we were feeding a family of 7.

We let the girls each have a "Dirt Cup" for dessert, which is chocolate pudding, crumbled Oreos, and gummy worms.  Our eight year old looked up with a grin and said "I'm just here for the gummy worms."

Thanks to TGI Friday's in Rapid City, SD for a great dining experience and a great family value.  And thanks to our server, Rhyan, for the excellent service!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blog Twice Tomorrow

Yes.  I have great ideas, today was just not a great day for time!  Have a great evening y'all!  Do you know, that my Papa would have been 107 years old today if he were still alive?

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Latest on the Television Drama

The scoop according to DISH.  WyoMedia has nothing to say, which leads me to believe that they don't have a position worth defending, to tell you the truth...

DISH Network is currently attempting contract negotiations with Wyomedia Corp., Silverton Broadcasting and Mark III Media regarding your local station.

While DISH Network has reached out multiple times today to WyoMedia Corp, Silverton Broadcasting and Mark III Media, they have refused to come to the phone to negotiate. The result is our current agreement with them has expired and they have blocked your programming. DISH Network wanted to avoid customers being impacted and offered an extension. This offer was flatly refused.

DISH Network offers the best value in pay television because we work hard for fair deals that help keep costs low for our subscribers. We have successfully negotiated agreements with more than 1,000 other local TV stations during the past few years; therefore, we know with certainty that we have offered Wyomedia Corp., Silverton Broadcasting and Mark III Media fair market rates. We will continue to work diligently for reasonable rates and remain hopeful we can reach a fair agreement.
Why doesn't DISH Network simply provide me with an affiliate from another market?
Per FCC regulations, DISH Network is unable to broadcast a network affiliate from one market into another, where a network affiliate exists. This results in local broadcasters having a virtual monopoly on programming that allows them to hold-up pay TV providers and their customers in search of ever higher fees.

Why does DISH Network need to pay my local TV station for a broadcast that is available free over the air?
In the 1992 Cable Act, Congress created a process that allows local broadcasters to charge pay TV providers to distribute a station's signal. Known as the retransmission consent process, this system was in large part designed to ensure that local TV stations would be able to enhance their local news and public affairs programming that are central to their mandate as public trustees.

Unfortunately, over the ensuing years, just the opposite has happened. A congressional newspaper, The Hill, recently published an opinion editorial by Fordham University's Phillip Napoli which reveals retransmission consent fees have increased by more than 500% over the past five years while resources dedicated to local news and programming have diminished. Whether measured by the time devoted to local news, the size of local news staffs, or the originality of the content, local station investment in local news and public affairs programming is dramatically decreasing. In 2009 alone, local broadcasters cut their newsroom budgets by a staggering 65%.

What are you doing to resolve this issue?
DISH Network offers the best value in TV and home entertainment because we work hard for fair deals that help keep costs low for our subscribers. We have successfully negotiated agreements with more than 1,000 other local TV stations during the past few years; therefore, we know with certainty that we have offered fair market rates.

DISH Network greatly values local programming, which is why we are the only pay-TV provider to offer local stations in every market in the country. We will continue to work diligently for reasonable rates and remain hopeful we can reach a fair agreement that will allow us to carry this channel again.

Are there other ways that I can watch my favorite shows?
Yes, you can still watch many of your favorite shows at the below Web sites:
DISH Online has many top network shows online.
Additionally, many households are able to receive local channels over the air. The FCC makes DTV Reception Maps available for addresses around the country. For information on connecting an over-the-air-antenna to your DISH Network set-top box, please Click Here