Sunday, December 21, 2008

better late than never

I sorta dropped the ball with Christmas cards. They're finally on their way now though! We ended up going the postcard route this year to save on paper and postage...


Lessons from the year (2008 edition)…

Fixing up an old and decrepit farmhouse takes more time, money, and patience than you might think; doing said task would be impossible without friends of the caliber that ours are; when a six-year-old boy lives with you for seven months, you will become quite attached to him, even if he can bite and kick really hard; cruising through Alaska is lots of fun, especially with the whole family along; yellow labs are the happiest on ten acres with chickens to chase; Red Leghorns lay really nice and yummy eggs; we are so blessed by our Creator to have good jobs, a warm house, and the best family and friends in the world.

Here’s to a fabulous 2009!

Winn and Betsy

We really miss our personal photographer Andrea now that she has moved to Alabama. Our favorite Christmas photo was this one that she took for us two years ago...

Friday, December 19, 2008


For one of my classes this term I am developing a direct marketing plan. As part of the assignment I had to create a survey in order to conduct primary research for my project. My target group will be stay-at-home moms. If you are a member of that group and would like to participate, you can click on the link below. It should only take approximately 5 minutes of your time. Thank you so much for your contribution!

Stay-at-Home Moms Survey

week in a nutshell

Monday: Went to see the group Celtic Thunder with three of my sisters. The concert was fun and my sisters even funner (or is it "more fun").

Tuesday: Spent the day in prison. For work. Always an entertaining place.

Wednesday: Spent the day in my pj's. Got lots done. Transcripts, housework, homework. Check. Check. Check.

Thursday: Got a new damp chaser installed in my Yamaha. Sticky-less keys, here we come!

Friday (today): Turning in the last class project that's due before Christmas break. Hallelujah!

A little pre-concert sustenance at Chipotle.

Excited for the show.

Freezing in the parking garage.

Monday, December 15, 2008

aromatic atmosphere

It was smelling mighty fine around here yesterday. I had homemade soup going in the crock pot all afternoon, using a soup bone from the cow we got this fall. And Winn made bread from scratch. Sajak walked around drooling all day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

not so lazy saturday

A hot cup of white chocolate mocha with whipped cream: $4.05.

Gas to drive to town: 75 cents.

Two textbooks for this term: $315.00.

A quiet place to do our homework: priceless.

With a child in our home that requires 24/7 supervision, Winn and I have resumed an old and forgotten indulgence...Saturday mornings at Dunn Brothers for coffee and homework. In just two hours I've been able to write a paper, turn in two assignments, and listen to all the mp3's for worship practice this afternoon. Alex is visiting his mom for a few hours today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

fifteen minutes of fame

I just wanted to brag on my Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Jon, who are part of the Grand Forks Symphony and had the opportunity to perform with Michael W. Smith on his Christmas Concert Tour last week (apparently Melinda Doolittle and George Huff, from American Idol, are on this tour with him as well).

And my brother-in-law Roger made the news when he and his fellow soldiers returned home from Saudi Arabia on Sunday. In this video clip he is the first soldier shown talking to the camera (with the name "Howard" on his uniform), and he's the first one shown waving when he steps out of the plane. You can also catch a short glimpse of my sister Carrie (in a black coat) holding my nephew Joel (in a yellow coat) to the right of the screen at the very end of the clip when the reporter says the words "there really is no place like home for the holidays."

A bit of limelight is always fun.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Before Alex came, we got the closet doors and curtains hung in his room. It's something that we had been putting off since we've been working on so many other projects on our renovation list. Now (as you might notice) we just have to finish the baseboard trim and the window casings, and that will be one of the very few rooms that is finished!

Sometimes I think that starting from scratch might have been easier than giving this house a complete overhaul. (As in tearing it down and rebuilding, rather than just gutting it.)

But then it wouldn't be from 1928. And it might not have a charming little attic or a butler's pantry or a sturdy poured block basement or doorknobs with keyholes big enough to look through or nine-foot ceilings. Or a history about a goat farmer who used to live here.

So I guess we'll hang onto the ol' plaster and lath-filled, floor-creaking, insulation-lacking, propane-eating place. Because we love it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I'm excited to meet you.

I have your room all ready. I washed your sheets and carefully made your bed. I swept and dusted and even rearranged so that it's different, so that it's yours. I hope you like it.

I wonder if you'll like legos or lincoln logs or videogames. I wonder if you'll like Cheerios or Kix or Frootloops. I wonder if you'll like to read or if you'd rather play outside.

I wonder what you look like and how tall you are and whether you had a nice birthday yesterday. Eight-year-olds should have nice birthdays.

I know you'll be scared. I am scared. I wonder if you'll like us, if you'll like it here.

I wonder what challenges we'll face together, what new things you will teach us.

I wonder if you, too, will quietly sneak into the crevices of our hearts...

surviving day two in the arctic

When we got up this morning, the thermostat read 40 degrees. (No wonder I didn't sleep much last night!) Even with a heated mattress pad, a down comforter, two quilts, and a blanket over us, I felt sort of like I was camping on a cold night and tossing and turning in my sleeping bag, trying to find the warmest position. I awoke all achy and chilled. Winn got up before me and started a heater in the bathroom to warm it up before my shower. And then he made puffed pancakes in the oven and started a pot of coffee. On our way out the door for church, we draped a little blanket over Sajak. He usually doesn't like things touching him, but this time he didn't protest.

Now that we've had four space heaters going all day, it's a balmy 43. Winn and I are spending the afternoon curled up under the covers on our bed with our laptops, trying to come up with scenarios that will make us feel warmer. Here are my two favorites: 1) It's a stifling 120 degrees outside, in the shade, and our house has a REALLY good air-conditioner. Or 2) We are lost in the desert, taking our last few steps before dying of heat and thirst, when we stumble upon a walk-in refrigerator (that's shaped exactly like our house). There, now that feels better. :) And first thing tomorrow morning, Midwest Fuel will come with their big propane truck to rescue us. Life is good.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

ran out of propane

I am wearing warm clothes and a hood and a vest, two quilts and a pair of slippers, with a space heater at my feet. I'm huddled in the living room with my homework, and my fingers are a bit stiff and purple as I'm trying to type on my laptop. I am usually still cold in 70 degrees, so you can imagine how thrilled I am with this 56 degrees. I'm thinking about going to fetch a pair of mittens and a hot cup of tea. Or I might just go to bed. Where there's a heated mattress pad and lots of quilts waiting for me. Yes, I think I will. I only got five hours of sleep last night anyway.

Friday, December 5, 2008

secondhand space

I went thrift store shopping yesterday to search for a bookshelf for my sewing space where I can store baskets full of fabric or various projects. Instead I found something else that is not at all what I had in mind but ends up working perfectly. An old set of lockers! I offered them half of the marked price, and they took it (Uncle Dennis would be so proud of me). I'll probably spray-paint it in the spring when it gets warm enough outside, and I'd also like to attach some magnetic labels on each door to identify what's inside the cubbies. But for now, at least I can finish getting everything organized.

The old dresser is from my grandma, the table from Aunt Barbara, and the green jars (where I'm storing ribbon, buttons, and other goodies) are from my sister. One more thing I'd like to find is an old set of shutters to hang on the wall above the sewing desk where I can clip project ideas, photos, fabric samples, etc., so just picture something is there rather than that empty space. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

the stockings are hung

I started to feel a little overwhelmed by all the holiday hustle and bustle, so in order to concentrate on Thanksgiving and then get into the Christmas spirit, I had to give up a few things so that I could be true to my goal of keeping it simple this year. One of those things that I had to give up was blogging. But after a short hiatus, I'm proud to announce that the stockings are hung and my Christmas shopping is done and I didn't lose any sleep or pull my hair out over it. Meanwhile, here are some of the things I've been up to...

1} Thanksgiving with my extended family. As happens every year, around 75 of us descended upon the tiny town of Madelia, MN, for the better part of a week and celebrated Blanshan-style with lots of food, lots of music, lots of games, a baby shower, and an anniversary party.

The fam.

2} Organizing a sewing space for myself in the guest bedroom. I inherited an old table from my aunt to put my sewing machine on and finally unpacked all my fabric and sewing notions and have had fun dreaming up new design ideas once again. In fact, I already have a few Christmas projects in the works.

My "new" table.

3} Being excited for my sister that her hubby is coming home from Saudi Arabia in just three days (after six months away), and smiling when I think about how excited Cate and Joel are going to be to see their daddy. I can just hear their little shrieking voices going on and on about all the things that they've been doing while he was gone. ("Come see my new room! Look at what I drew! Read me a story, give me a piggyback ride...")

Thanksgivingtime - Cate and Joel are ready for the hot tub.

4} Putting up the tree.

We miss our fireplace--stockings on the
windowsill just aren't the same.

5} Gearing up for a job next month that will involve realtime and same-day transcripts and possibly an internet feed for a three-week trial, something I have never done before. I've been on the phone with my software support staff and the law firms about all the technical preparations that have to be made. I need to hire a scopist, purchase some additional hardware and software, and do a dry run in the courtroom. Love a challenge!