Friday, June 27, 2014

After All This... Snakes Still?

Every morning, directly after I exercise, I go out in the backyard and water my pots with the hose. I also squirt the water on a few plants that look particularly thirsty. Today, when I went out there, it was cool after a big rainstorm yesterday. I thought I'd just give my planters a little extra water for the day. I was thinking about our snake situation. If you know me at all, you'll know that snakes are my #1 fear. It doesn't matter what kind or how big. I detest them all. I know, I know... I've heard the whole schpeel about how they are garden friendly and eat insects, etc. I'd rather have the insects. I'd rather have an insect infestation. I'd rather have anything else out there, but snakes. Ugh. Last year my dear family dispatched 7 snakes for me. (If you wonder what dispatch means, you should watch Princess Bride once more) I thought that was quite a large number of snakes, but I blamed it on the middle school that was being built a street away. It occupies what used to be a large field that oftentimes was used for corn crops. When they built the school, I'm sure there were hundreds (probably thousands, but I don't want to think about that) of snakes looking for a new home. I think with our pond, a large number of them decided to take up residence in our yard.

Some might say it is coincidence that we got rid of our pond a few months ago, but it really isn't. My biggest reason to get rid of it was because my baby grand #1 was walking, and I didn't want to worry about his safety, or the safety of all the baby grands to come. Coming in a very close second, was because I was sick and tired of snakes. Done. Caput. 

We also built a garage in our backyard this past year, so I figured with the garage construction, the pond removal, the tractors and rigs in our backyard for the projects, and all of the cement poured in the new driveway and play area, that the snakes would surely find another place to live. I've never been so wrong about anything in my life. Ugh.

Back to this morning. I thought about the snakes, and thought about the FOUR snakes that various members of my family have dispatched thus far this year, and I wondered if I just might have to be okay with sharing my backyard with those slithering creatures. Would I be able to? If I made enough commotion and noise, and they knew I was working out there, would they just go their way, and I could go on about my business? Could we all be back there without getting into each other's business? If I didn't ever see them, I would probably be fine. Maybe that was the solution. To just be okay with them being there. 

I continued watering, musing on this new idea, and turned around and within three feet was this creature looking right at me...

Can you see how his eyes are right on me?  It was at that moment that I came to the definite conclusion that the backyard isn't big enough for the both of us. This was his lucky day, however, since no one was home at the time to "take care" of him.

And last week, this is what I came across...

And no... they are not the same snake. I know this because this second photo is of a snake that is now longer with us, thanks to my daughter. That's all I need to say about that one. 

And besides the ones that have been dispatched, we have seen another one out by the play yard. What in the world? Seriously. What is going on? When I talk to my neighbors, none of them have seen more than maybe one snake a year. I can't figure it out. I've tried to make my yard a place snakes would hate to live in, but they just keep on a-coming. I'm just about ready to borrow my daughter's three cats for the summer to see if they can whip things into shape.

There is a product called Snake Away, that at first seemed to be a miracle product. 

I had bought it previously to use when the going got tough, so we pulled it out yesterday. As Bob began reading the instructions, it basically said not to use it around the perimeter of a yard that already has snakes in it, or you might create a "wall" that they won't be able to get out of. Whaaaatttt?? I mean, who would use that in a yard where you haven't had snake problems yet? I guess if you were any of my adjacent neighbors you might use it to prevent the snakes in our sanctuary from moving on into your own yard. Needless to say, we didn't use much of the Snake Away. I'm not sure how we're going to be at a point where we'll use it. Again... I think I need a pack of cats living in my yard (that I don't have to take care of).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Project Playroom: Play Table with Storage

We've been making progress on our playroom. It is a project that is pure fun, for both of us. And the playroom is now at a point where baby grand #1 can go up and play to his heart's content. We still have our "closet playhouse" to do, but that will come along in due time.

The room is large enough to handle a nice, big play table to play cars, Lego's, or whatever else on. So, we headed over to Ikea, and bought nine pine Trofast shelving units. We planned on using five of them elsewhere, but we needed four for the play table. I like the pine Trofast shelving units because they are solid pine, and not a laminate, like the other finishes. These are solid units. You can sit (or stand... you never know with the kiddos) on them without a problem.

We got quite the system down and were able to make each of them pretty fast.  We make a super good Ikea assembling team. I read the instructions and hand out the exact number of screws, etc, and Bob does the actual assembling. A match made in heaven.

After getting four of them all made up, we arranged them in an overlapping square, like it shows below. There are also bins that fit in the little shelving units (you can choose from three different sizes of bins). They are very affordable, so we bought a big stack of those to slide in the units and hold toys.

And check out what my daughter started doing with the Legos. There are still lots of bins that aren't divided up by color yet, but every time she goes in there, she makes a bee-line for the Legos and does a little separating. She may or may not have a penchant for organizing, which is A-OK with me!

To finish it off, my jack-of-all-trades husband made a metal top for it. It's the kind of a thing that will only get better with little scratches and scuffs in it. Since not everyone has a metal shop close at hand for this sort of thing, you could also make a wood top, and I've even seen some Lego platform tops. Since I wanted the surface to be usable for any type of play, I didn't want to have Lego platforms permanently attached. But I do have a bin of Lego building surfaces that are ready to use at any time.

And here it is in full swing. We have an old Little Tykes train and car set that our kids used to play with when they were wee ones, which is perfect for the little kiddos, but can be taken off and stowed any time they need more play surface.

And for the big kiddos, (adults) it is the perfect Lego building/playing surface. We had visitors a few weeks ago, and their son spent hours and hours in the playroom building all kinds of creations with Legos.

One more fun project crossed off the list! (And plenty more to go!)

To see the other projects we've worked on in the playroom, check out mold clean-up, and wood floor in the playhouse closet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June Week 4: Miscellaneous Gear: cord, wire, duct tape, etc.

This week's items are:

June Week 4: Miscellaneous Gear - nylon cord, eye hooks, clothespins, 20-22 gauge wire, wire cutters, duct tape, bungee cords

Easy enough, right? These will definitely be items that you will keep in your storage for emergency situations. You will be able to use the nylon cord and the eye hooks for a clothes line or to form a make shift tent, or about a zillion other uses. The wire and wire cutters will also have many different uses. The duct tape, as we all know, can be used for so many things it will make your head spin (see list below). I threw in the bungee cords because I saw them at Home Depot and thought that they could also come in handy.

The secret is to keep these items in a bin on your shelves in the storage room. If you have them, but they are scattered around the house or garage, they won't be readily accessible in case of emergency, and you also may run out of the items and not realize it. Gather them, check them off on your inventory sheet, and get them on your shelves for sometime in the future when you may really find it necessary to have some or all of them. This is another one of those weeks, where if you gather it and stow it in a good place, you shouldn't have to keep rebuying it every year. Today, I'll just go down to my food storage room and check to make sure the items are all still there, and then I'll be done for the week. Could not possibly be any easier than that!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

And for some extra information on how useful duct tape can be in an emergency, I found this list of 25 survival uses on line. Pretty impressive...

If there ever was a miracle product better than spray-on-hair or the ShamWow, it is duct tape. Over the past 70 years of its existence, this staple product of fix-it-yourselfers has been used by virtually every walk of life, for jobs that I’m sure the duct tape developers never imagined. So how can we use it for survival?
Here are my top 25 survival uses for duct tape, in no order whatsoever.

1. Repairing a cracked water bottle or a pierced hydration bladder. A little strip of DT is the next best thing to a bandage for an ailing water vessel. Just dry the surface before you try to tape your patch in place, most forms of duct tape don’t stick to wet surfaces.

2. Survival arrow fletching. Tear off a few 5-inch pieces, and a long edge of one piece to the arrow shaft, fold the tape lengthwise, and stick the other long edge of that piece to the arrow. Repeat this process one or two more times; trim the vanes to shape with your knife; and you will have a serviceable arrow fletching.

3. Butterfly bandage strips. Cut two small strips of DT, and add a smaller strip across their centers (sticky side to sticky side) to create a makeshift butterfly suture.

4. Make cordage. Twist one or several lengths of duct tape into a cord or rope.

5. Patch a hole in canoe. I wouldn’t trust my life to this one, but it’s been done more than once.

6. Fashion a belt. When you are starving in the wild, and your pants start falling down, run a piece of DT through your belt loops and stick it to itself in the front. Overlap it about 4 or 5 inches and you’ll still be able to peel the belt apart when nature calls.

7. First aid sling. Fold a length of DT down the middle, so that it is half the original width and no longer exposing a sticky side. Use the strap to make a sling for a busted arm.

8. Leave a note. Write on it with a Sharpie, or use strips to form letters.

9. Handcuff alternative. If someone is acting up during a survival emergency, you can duct tape their hands together around a tree to prevent them from becoming a danger to themselves or others.

10. Mend shoes and clothing. You can skip the sewing class, if you have enough duct tape.

11. Repair your glasses. The tape on your glasses my look a little nerdy, but at least you’ll still be able to see.

12. Attach shelter elements.
 Just a few trash bags and some duct tape, and you have a survival shelter roof, or a sleeping bag cover, or a wind break, or…

13. Attach survival gear. Tape a spark rod to the side of your knife sheath, and you’ll always have a back-up fire source.

14. Make a hat. If you believe what you see on TV, the “Mythbusters” guys made a pretty nice looking hat out of duct tape on a recent episode.

15. Affix bandages. Place a sterile dressing over your wound, and strap it in place with DT. Hopefully you’re not too hairy where you got injured.

16. Fix your rain gear. Keep the dry stuff dry, and keep the water out, by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips.

17. Make a drinking cup. Some creative folding and sticking can result in a cup you can drink from.

18. Make a spear. Strap your knife to a pole and you have a trusty spear to fend off beasts, or make one into your dinner.

19. Blister care. Cover the blistered area with a bit of cotton gauze, and tape over the cotton. Make sure that the duct tape fully covers the cotton and doesn’t touch the blister at all.

20. Mark a Trail. Use it to blaze a trail or signal for rescue, especially if your DT is brightly colored or reflective.

21. Make emergency repairs on your Bug Out Vehicle.
 Leaking hoses and windows that won’t stay up don’t stand a chance against the mending powers of duct tape.

22. Keep the feathers in your sleeping bag. If you have a hole in your down sleeping bag, the feathers will pour out faster than excuses from a politician. Patch the hole with DT.

23. Keep your tent closed. A damaged zipper could leave your tent door flapping in the wind. Stick the door shut, and keep the bugs and critters out.

24. Splint a leg. A broken ankle or leg can be stabilized with ample splint material, padding and duct tape. Pad the crotch of a forked branch with some cloth and duct tape to fashion a quick crutch to go with your splint.

25. Splint a broken tent pole or fishing pole. By taping a stick to the broken area of your tent pole or fishing rod, you might just get one last adventure out of it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Recipe: Baked Penne Pasta

I love a recipe that I can make one night, split it in half before baking, and throw one of  the pans in the freezer for another time. It is such a help to pull something out of the freezer, thaw it out, and bake it without having to do any of the work. Love, love, love it!

This recipe can work two ways: 1) You can make it in a deep 9x13 pan (or an even larger pan), and serve it all in one night to your family; or, 2) You can make it in two separate 8x8 pans, and freeze one for another time. That works really well for my family. The pasta is yummy and rich and can easily feed 6 people with a smaller, 8x8 pan. So, it's up to you. I show you below how I do it in my two 8x8 pans.

Baked Penne Pasta

1 lb. uncooked penne pasta
1 lb. lean ground beef
onion powder
garlic powder
seasoning salt
2 (26 oz) jars of spaghetti sauce, any flavor
8 slices provolone cheese
1-1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 T. Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook penne pasta according to directions on package, until al dente. Don't forget to generously salt the water!

In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Add onion powder, pepper, a dash of seasoning salt, and garlic powder, according to taste. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8X8 inch foil baking pans with non-stick cooking spray. Layer the ingredients as follows, in each pan: 1/4 of the penne, 1/4 of the sauce, 4 slices of Provolone, 1/2 of the sour cream, 1/4 penne, 1/4 mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 of sauce mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake covered for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted. Serve with a tossed green salad and warm crusty bread.

While the one 8X8 pan is baking, I take the other one, and seal it well with saran wrap.

Then, I cover it with aluminum foil, making sure to crimp down all the sides.

At this point, I like to label the dish, so that I know just what it is. I also write the date on the label so I am sure to eat it before it gets freezer burn. Then, I fit the cover that comes with the pans over the whole thing, and I put it in the freezer for another day.

When I want to cook it, I take it out the night before and leave it in the refrigerator. Before I put it in the oven, I take the plastic lid off, as well as the saran wrap underneath the foil, and then I replace the foil, and bake. Sometimes it takes just a few more minutes to cook, but since all the ingredients are already cooked, it really is just making sure it's warm all the way through and the cheese is melted.

(Recipe adapted from

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June Week 3: Burger Fixins' Week

This week's food storage items are:

June Week 3: Burger Week -- mustard, ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire, pickles, olives, soy sauce, salad dressings

There are several items this week, and many of them wouldn't be entirely necessary for an long-term emergency situation. But, these are still items that you may use frequently throughout the year. And that is reason enough to stock up and be sure you have all that you might use of each item up on your food storage shelves. It takes a lot of stress out of life to be able to go to your own shelves when you run out of an item, instead of having to run to the store. Love it!

So, think about what you will use this coming year of these items: mustard (all kinds), ketchup, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, olives, soy sauce, and any salad dressings your family likes to eat. Write down what you think you'll need in order to to have a year's supply. Then, get to the grocery store sometime this week and get the items on your shelves. Don't forget to update the inventory sheets to reflect the items you have added to your food storage. There. Now doesn't that feel good? Rest on your laurels til next week.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Thank You Experiment

So, I'm in the sixth month of my "Thank You Experiment". It has been such an interesting thing for me to do. Just to explain what this is... way back before 2014 began, I decided I was going to write one Thank You note or Love note every single day of 2014. The one rule is that it had to be a mailed note... not an email. I have sent plenty of email thank you's, but for this, I wanted them to be hand-written, received-in-the-mailbox notes. Did you know how many darling Thank You notes and cards there are out there? I think Target is my favorite for an incredible selection and great prices. It makes it even more fun to write the notes when they are on pretty cards.

I had no idea who I would write the 365 notes to.  As one friend wrote to me, "I don't even think I know that many people". You'd be surprised at how many people affect you as you go about your life:

-Family members. We have oodles and oodles of family members. And we rub shoulders with them often. There are always a few who, after the gatherings are over, stand out to me and have done something kind or noteworthy. Or who have touched me deeply through the years and need a proper thank you from me.

-Friends. So many good friends, both from the present day and from way back when. They continually love and support and I find many opportunities to write a thank you note for.

-Church friends, acquaintances, etc. We belong to a church with a very strong community, and there are so many experiences that I have found in which I can and should write a note of appreciation for. People are so good and do so many charitable things. And with my husband being a bishop, it seems we are the recipients of kindnesses over and again. And on another note... I have never (until now) written a thank you to a speaker in General Conference about a talk that touched me in a particular way. I've never even thought about it. But, after General Conference, when I was thinking about who to write a note to, I kept thinking about certain speakers who stood out to me. So, I wrote to them about how their talks were particularly meaningful to me. And do you know what? Some of them even wrote back! That is pretty amazing!

-And SO many others. Everyone else who touches me in such a way that I feel compelled to write them a note of gratitude.

Now, since January 1, I have learned a few things. I have learned that there are definitely things every single day to be thankful for. And many of them have to do with specific people in my life. Why not thank them? Why not let them know just how much something they said or did, meant to me? I'm surprised at some of the responses, and I'm even more surprised that there are some people who WRITE BACK to a thank you note (have I ever done this?... No):

"...I have never received a note like that about my singing. It was such a sweet surprise!"

"What a wonderful surprise greeting me in the mailbox after work..."

"The note meant so much to me... it made my week and I want to frame the note!"

"Receiving the note was such as sweet surprise and it made me cry."

"Just wanted to thank you for the kind note. It warmed my soul. Kind notes like that are examples to me of what can make one's day."

And here's the kicker... I know that I am not doing anything grandiose. This is what I should have been doing all along. I should always be showing gratitude to others. I have received much more from this little experiment than others have. I am sure of it. It is quite a thing, each night, to sit and reflect on my day, and my feelings and ALWAYS come up with someone to write a note to. I've wondered if it would be hard, as time goes on, but it hasn't yet. There are some people who have received more than one note from me throughout the months, but that doesn't matter. If they continue to stand out in that way, they should also continue to be thanked and noticed. It has made me think much more deeply about people and the services they do, and the time they put in to things. And how important it is to let them know my feelings of thankfulness. Why haven't I always done this? I mean, I've written the obvious thank you notes for gifts and such, but why haven't I written a note to someone who has worked so hard to do a musical number in church that touches me in such a beautiful way? I hope that I am bringing about change within myself... that I will ever more have that desire to let others know how grateful I am for their time, their service, their kindnesses.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Week 2: Cheese

This week's food storage item is:

June Week 2: Cheese. Buy a large quantity of what you use, and freeze the grated cheese in baggies. Don't forget Parmesan!

For this week's items, I will buy Parmesan Cheese to get me through a year (or as long as the expiration date will allow). I use cream cheese often, so I'll buy what I need to get me through several months (again, depending on the expiration dates). As far as grated cheeses, I always keep extra bags in the freezer as back up, and I use them as I run out.

I don't think of cheese as a particularly necessary item in an extreme emergency, so I just store what I can fit in my refrigerator and freezer, and what I will use up in the coming few months. I do love having a good supply on hand, because it seems like more often than not, I use recipes that call for some kind of cheese. Its nice to know that I always have some on hand without having to make a trip to the store just for that!

So, decide what cheese you use most, and what you will benefit by having extras of. Add those items to your grocery list, and get them bought and in your freezer or refrigerator. The only cheese I have on the inventory sheets is Parmesan cheese, since that can be stored on the shelves until it has been opened.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Backyard Garden Tour

I still have a long row to hoe when it comes to sprucing up my backyard after our construction projects during the winter and early spring. I could keep myself busy for weeks and weeks by just driving to the local nursery and packing my car with as many plants as I can fit, and then running home to plant them. And because I love working in the garden, it really isn't a chore for me. I get so much joy from watching it all come together -- one plant at a time. 

Since some of the perennials are giving their all as we speak, I thought I'd take a few photos before they close up shop for the year. I never can get enough of yellows and purples together... or bright greens and purples. So striking!

And when I walk past my peonies (many of which were carefully transplanted during the construction), I think they are the most beautiful flowers to ever be created. Every time I walk past them I have to stop and admire and smell... and sigh.

As you can see, there are still some barren spots here and there. It is definitely a work in progress. And I'm still figuring out where the drier spots are (to plant succulents and Artemesia, and such), as well as the spots that might stay wet for longer periods. It takes some time to work out all of those situations.

I LOVE the potted plants that I get from a nursery down south. My mom and I make our annual trip in late winter to take our pots and containers up to be filled and planted with beautiful plants. And then in May, we drive down again and pick up those same pots and containers, which by that time, are overflowing with beautiful blooms and greenery.

That rose bush below is so heavy with blooms that its branches flop over. I don't have enough stakes to prop it up. Instead, I just admire how bountiful her display is this year!

Another potted plant that I stuck in my old blue chair this year. It's a petunia with obvious purple blooms that are ringed with green. Very pretty, clamoring along over the chair.

The climbing rose going up the stairway is in full bloom and very healthy this year. There was some construction going on around it's roots and base that made me wonder what it might do this year, but it has come through it like a champ!

And on the lower part of the stairs is this striated rose. So, so pretty!

The old cart doesn't have great drainage, so I'm trying some things that seem to like wet soil. We'll see how it goes this year.

How much do you love hardy geranium? It is lovely. It doesn't spread out of control, and this year it has put on such a nice show. I don't think I've ever seen it bloom like this year. It's like it knew it had to give a little extra to compensate for our garden's bare spots.

This is one of the entrances to the "Grand kids Play Area", also know as "Limberlost". It used to be our dog run, but since we don't have dogs anymore, it is a perfect play place. We haven't done much back there, except for ringing the entire thing with a three foot walkway in cement. It is a nice track for the kiddos to take wagon rides on, etc. We're still formulating plans for Limberlost, but we're hoping that next year we can add to it a bit. And if you don't know what Limberlost is, you should read "A Girl From Limberlost" by Gene Stratton Porter. It was my grandpa's favorite book, and my mom also loved it and introduced it to me. I read it and loved it. After we were married, Bob started telling me about a book he loved that his fourth grade teacher read from every day after lunch. As he described it, I realized it was A Girl From Limberlost. So, although our play area doesn't resemble Limberlost in the book, we love the name, and it has stuck. The only things growing in it so far are four of our Asian apple-pear trees from the old orchard.

The latest on the bird family occupying the decrepit old mansion, is that the father (sitting up top) and the mother (down in front of the bottom opening) are kept busy all day long feeding the little babies. The babies are bold enough now to sit right in front of the opening, just waiting to be fed. As I was working in the yard yesterday, one of the babies had its whole head out and was watching me the whole time. I think in just a few days they will be gone and on their own.

This photo below is from April 19th, just after our Easter-egg hung festivities. We had literally (the night before) just finished the paver patio, so obviously our garden area hadn't had time to be addressed yet.

And this is that same area now. Looks a little better. In the photo above, Bob is in the same spot as the planter is below (to give you perspective). Anyway, it's amazing what some green and flowers can do!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June Week 1: Safety Supplies

This week's food storage/emergency supply items are:

June Week 1: Safety supplies: dust masks, flashlight and extra dated batteries, fly swatter

This is another of those weeks where once you have these items in storage, you shouldn't have to replace any of it (except for the batteries when they are ready to expire). Years ago, when I started gathering my emergency supplies, I stored just a portion of these items, but have added to my list through the years. You can decide what will be needed and useful to your own family in an emergency situation.

Dust masks will prove extremely useful in an extreme emergency situation when the air isn't so fresh and sweet-smelling. They also would be great if you were cleaning up after an emergency. Construction dust and debris dust is not so great to breathe in.

Flashlight and batteries. SOOOOO crucial to have these two items, and to be sure that the batteries are not outdated. Keep a good supply of extra batteries with the flashlight.

Flyswatter. I just imagine that these could come in handy, and also keep a bored child busy with a job to do. :)

Keep all of these items in a bin somewhere on your shelves. They should be together so that you will know exactly where to go if you ever need them. Decide which items your family will need in an emergency situation, add them to your shopping list, and in the next day or two, head out to the local hardware store or WalMart, and pick up the items. Once you have them on your shelves, update your inventory sheets, and sit back feeling assured that you are getting another week closer to being ready for that emergency situation that may come when we all least expect it.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Monday, June 2, 2014

School's Out! Time To Burn That Schoolwork!

This time of year brings back a flood of memories of when our kids were in school. I loved when summer finally hit! It meant more fun, more relaxation, and no pressure for the kids (and for me... let's be honest). 

We started a fun tradition when our kids were in middle school and high school. On the very last day of school, the kids' friends all came over for a huge water fight (balloons, squirt guns, you name it). 

That may or may not be my husband who has bypassed the water balloons and is just spraying with a hose. Hey, whatever it takes...

After they had all been thoroughly soaked, we started a barbecue and they all devoured the food in about 49 seconds. And then, the real fun began... we made a fire in the fire pit, and the kids would sit around it and start tossing in papers from the school year. It became almost cathartic for them. Some years they even painted their faces resembling warriors of sorts.

As they sat around and scrunched papers up and tossed them into the fire, they would all bring up certain assignments or really great teachers, or memories.

Yep. It's that time of year. Time to shake off the stresses and pressures of the past several months, and breathe deeply and find moments to relax and enjoy. If it means taking my "To-Do" lists and burning them in a fire pit, so be it. Hmmmmm. I think I'm on to something here.