Monday, February 20, 2012


I'm taking a little break. I'll probably be back later. Just thought I'd let you know

{In case you aren't familiar with TTFN, it stands for "ta ta for now" and, although it was around before this, I'm pretty sure it was made popular by Tigger from the Winnie the Pooh books by A. A. Milne}

Thursday, February 16, 2012

thankful thursday

We had a great weekend celebrating {very nearly -- their anniversary is on Sunday} 40 years of marriage for my parents. Our whole family {my parents, the 8 of us, my brother and his family, my best friend -- who is an honorary Carlson -- and her family, my grandma and my cousin}, 20 of us total, headed up to Trout Lake Camp on Friday afternoon for a weekend of family fun and celebration. The weather wasn't overly cooperative, but we had tons of fun anyway.

The whole lot of us {minus my Grandma, unfortunately}
Joe, Anna, Kirby, Sara, Brie, my mom, Haddon, Jacob, Lydia, me, Rebekah, Schaeffer, Jenn, Allie, Ava, my dad, Justin, Sam & Luke::

My parents and our family of 8 were the only ones who had seen, in person, the result of the years and years of hard work my dad has put into the new Timber Ridge Dining Hall, so it was fun to have the rest of our family finally have a chance to see it. It is amazing, that's for sure. He laid nearly every cement block that makes up the foundation and structure of the building, then proceeded to put stone on the {very tall} chimney and the pillars on the outside of the building -- and since the building stands on the highest point of land in Crow Wing County, saying he was up high when putting the tippy top stones on that chimney is an understatement! Praise God he was safe through it all, especially since he was often working alone, without another soul around! After that was done he grabbed a few thousand more stones and built 6 stone fireplaces inside the building. The main one of which is the largest stone fireplace in the state of Minnesota {and my dad thinks, although has no proof, possibly in the entire country}. It's HUGE! And beautiful. {and Lydia would have you know that she laid 3 of those stones too. She can even point out exactly which ones they are.}

The biggest of the 6 fireplaces
The focal point of the dining area::
When we arrived on Friday night we got all situated in our rooms for the weekend and had some hot dogs and s'mores cooked on the fire out back. One at a time, the 10 kids got tucked into bed and the adults stayed up to chat a bit before turning in as well. Saturday we ate, played some games, had a tour of camp, ate some more, climbed rock walls, went skateboarding, played air hockey, had a snack, played some board games, ate dinner, enjoyed the machine that automatically dispensed hot chocolate at the touch of a button, strained to hear my mom {who had laryngitis} say a few sweet words to my dad, looked at pictures from their wedding, toasted my parents and ate wedding cake, watched movies, played some more games, ate a bit more and turned in for the night. Sunday morning we woke up, ate again, took a "Doug and Marcia" quiz {which I won!}, had a family church service where Kirb preached on God's faithfulness, packed up our stuff, had brunch, took a walk {since the temps were a bit less arctic than they had been on Sunday}, made sure everyone went potty one final time and piled back in our cars for the ride home. It was a wonderful, wonderful weekend together. Between the 20 of us, hopefully we can find a major milestone to celebrate each winter as an excuse to do this again each February!

I am so thankful for my family and for the example of love, commitment and faithfulness that my parents' marriage is a testament to. What a blessing!

Here are a bunch more pictures from our weekend. Enjoy!

Our 6 kiddos in the bookshelves my dad built flanking one of the 2 basement fireplaces::

The Carlson boys take a turn::
My best friend, Allie & my cousin Brie::
Joe, with the Dining Hall seating in the background {aren't those windows fabulous, too?}::
Another view of the biggest fireplace::
Ama & a few of her favorite little people::
The other basement fireplace::
Singing "Head & Shoulders, Knees and Toes" on Saturday morning
{we must be at the "eye and ears and mouth and nose" part}::
I just think this is a funny picture of Sara. It makes me smile::
The cake cutter::
A rousing game of Scrabble::
Grandma and Allie::
Feeding each other cake::

Monday, February 13, 2012

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here on Ann's wonderful, amazing blog that is a favorite of mine. If you've never checked it out, do yourself a favor and click on over. She's an amazing, gifted writer and an inspiration!

"One Thousand Gifts"::

1963. good mornings with Joe
1964. another night at Feed My Starving Children with the fam
1965. food to feed my kids
1966. the smell of fresh coffee
1967. a fun bookclub night
1968. my Bible study girls
1969. people you can be transparent with . . . what a blessing!
1970. 16 months of Sara
1971. family time
1972. celebrating 40 years of Mr. & Mrs. Doug Carlson {and, 1972 happened to be both the number of this blessing in my list AND the year my parents got married -- how cool is that? I didn't even plan it that way and didn't notice it until I was writing 1973 and thought how that is our house number and then realized the correlation in the previous number. And, in case you are wondering, I hand write my "gifts" in a journal throughout the week and then just type them here on Mondays}

1973. Trout Lake Camp
1974. traveling mercies
1975. light, fun reading material
1976. seeing people enjoying and using the space that my dad worked so very hard {and long} to create. what beautiful work. what a talented guy!
1977. the beauty of creation
1978. a lake so crystal clear you can see the weeds frozen a few feet below the surface -- SO cool!
1979. my kids in full protective skateboarding gear . . . and a great time at the skate park
1980. Lydia, the monkey, climbing up the rock wall over and over and over again
1981. waking up to full mouse traps {meaning there are that many less mice living in my house!}
1982. Sara's excitement over riding {not buckled to anything} in a bus

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

Friday, February 10, 2012

flashback friday

This time last year::

There's not a speck of snow on the ground today. What vastly different winters!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

thankful thursday :: my "mudroom"

We enter our house through the side door -- which leads directly into the kitchen. No closet. No mudroom. No nothin'. It didn't bug me too much when we first moved in. It was just the two of us then. Now that there's 8 of us . . . and long before we were that many, even . . . it started driving me mad! Shoes, backpacks, coats, boots, snow pants. They took over the entire kitchen. It made me crazy!

I didn't take good before pictures, but here are some pictures from about a year ago {not staged, mind you} of the area I'm talking about ::

And here's that same space now ::
It had bugged me for so long, but I had no idea how to remedy it. We tried a couple little changes without much positive impact, so I kind of gave up. Fast forward to about a month ago. Enter my friend, Nicole :: a organizing guru with her iPad and a latte for me in hand {bless her heart!}. She had spent the night before looking up and organizing ideas for me online and came armed and ready to go. We looked at the nasty space {or lack thereof}. Measured. Brainstormed. Studied the space a little more. Sipped our coffee -- I even spilled a bit of hers, klutz that I am. Looked at pretty online pictures {that I'm confident WERE all staged} and made some plans.

I then did a bit of online shopping {directly from Nicole's links!} and got to work. It's so very fabulous now, and so far {about a week in} is working out great for our family. I'm so thankful to have the space be better used and so, so much cuter too!

My parents came over for an entire day last week and helped me put on the finishing touches. I am so grateful!

Here's the whole photographic tour of our entryway {also all unstaged -- this is how it looks most of the time now! Praise God! Well, except for the fact that 5 of the people who live here weren't home when I took the pictures, so there were coats and backpacks and some shoes missing that are also in this area when everyone is home -- but the coats and backpacks all have hooks to go on and the footware that was upon those -- possibly stinky -- feet when these pictures were taken fit right into those empty cubes you see there. Prett great, huh?}::

Inside of the door leading to the basement :: shoe organizer that holds winter gear {hats, mittens, scarves, etc.}. When winter is over -- not that it's even really been winter this year -- we'll rotate that stuff out and it can hold summer stuff {sunscreen, goggles, flip flops, hats}::

View from just inside the back door looking toward the dining room::
Our new recycling bin {IKEA has the best stuff!}::
Looking from the dining room toward the back door::
A wider-angle look from the dining room::
Boots and a bucket for music stands and the patrol flag {which isn't in there in the picture because the kids were at school} and umbrellas when that season is upon us::

So, what do you think? Isn't it great? Do you love it as much as I do?

Monday, February 6, 2012

multitude monday {evening edition :: once again}

Once again, better late than never :: here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here on Ann's wonderful, amazing blog that I read each day. If you've never checked it out, do yourself a favor and click on over. She's an amazing writer and an inspiration!

"One Thousand Gifts"::

1946. a 3-year-old fresh from sleep
1947. seat belts
1948. breath-taking, beautiful frost-covered trees . . . frost covered everything!
1949. living across the street from a hardware store (3 trips there in 1 day)
1950. Joe's cowlick
1951. a VERY productive day
1952. the selfless help of my parents
1953. prayer
1954. a re-done entryway :: better use of space, less shoes all over the kitchen and prettier too
1955. businesses with integrity and more concern for the customer than with making money (George's shoe repair)
1956. new running shoes (and spendy orthotics :: I must be getting old)
1957. five family fish fry with fabulous, fabulous fish (and the joy of a good alliteration)
1958. family sleepovers
1959. great sermon on Sunday morning
1960. time with friends
1961. girlfriends doing each others hair and being silly (you should have seen my curls!)
1962. fabulous customer service -- companies that stand behind their products (Columbia is replacing my roughly 10-year-old winter boots with brand new ones because the sole detached from the rest of the boot, which they said was a manufacturing defect)

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

thankful thursday

Despite all the complaining that may suggest otherwise, I adore these people that I share my life and my home with. My family. I am so very thankful for each of them. Here are a few of my favorite recent picture of our clan::