Monthly Archives: October 2014

Fridays on the Farm… From the Desk of Katja

From the desk of Katja:

This is me, Katja

This is me, Katja

Dear Puppy,

Welcome to the farm… actually welcome to MY farm. It’s called The Shepherd Hobby Farm and I, dear puppy, am a Shepherd. You are not. You are some little round buff ball of fur with very floppy ears. I’ve seen other puppies like you and quite honestly I’m not impressed. They just don’t name hobby farms after puppies like you and the sooner you accept that fact the happier all of our lives will be.

I feel it is my duty to explain the farm rules and give you some tips. After all, the farm is named after me… did I mention that? It is my farm.

  1. I am not your personal jungle gym. In fact, let’s just keep a mutual two feet separation between us for everyone’s sanity. We will call it the “restraining order” game and it will be played all day and night, every day and night. You’re a puppy, you like games.

    Clearly you are disobeying the two foot rule...

    Clearly you are disobeying the two foot rule…

  2. My food is my food. There is much food like it but this is mine. Don’t look at it, don’t smell it, don’t feel it, don’t even think about it.
  3. There are a few cats on the farm and they want to conquer the world. The rule is, we humor them in this endeavor and they promise to avoid cuddling while paparazzi are around.
  4. Black, brown, red, green, orange, and yellow substances are all meant to be rubbed in. The more off putting the aroma is to the lady farmer and her family the better. I get first rubs and rolls in these spots and you puppy will obviously get last dibs after all the other dogs, all cats, and goats if they are up for it.
  5. After rubbing and rolling avoid being put on a leash. If the lady farmer puts you on a leash you will most assuredly be going to get a bath and baths make us all smell horrible. Don’t even try to rub the horrid smell of bath off on the carpet, it just doesn’t work.
  6. Watch out for Nala, the German Shepherd with the really long hair. You’ve seen it, it’s so long you could braid it if only you had opposable thumbs. Anyways, she hates all types of group fun. She’s quite militant, kinda a Marine Corps kind of dog. Appease her by just not playing, ever.



  7. Watch out for Axel, the German Shepherd with really long legs who has no idea his body continues behind his head. I seriously wonder about him. He’s been a little slow on the uptake of these rules and tips but I haven’t lost hope for him as he is a Shepherd.



  8. Watch out for Fuzzy, the Shepherd who wears a disguise of a big white fluffy coat and ears that are floppy… similar to yours. Hmmmm that’s weird now that I think about it. Those ears must be part of her disguise. She sits and watches things all day long and finds interesting ways to enter the house at night. She will get you in trouble so just avoid her at all costs.



  9. Stop eating your own poop, it’s grossing everyone out.
  10. The squirrels will taunt you, just let it go, do not engage them. Chasing them up trees does nothing, you can’t climb trees and they will just tease you mercilessly while the lady farmer takes stupid pictures and posts them on Facebook to further humiliate you.
  11. The best snacks come from visiting children. Seriously, they carry some yummy tidbits right around that mouth of theirs, lick freely when no one is looking.
  12. When the lady farmer and her family turns the lights out and goes to bed it is time to get on the furniture and snuggle in for our own sweet dreams of  fresh bacon, eggs, and t-bone steaks. I get the blue chair, Nala gets the couch, Axel gets the other couch, Fuzzy gets under one of the kids’ bed (not the sharpest tool in the shed), and they tend to stack things on those red chairs to thwart our comfy sleeping so I guess there’s no place for you, oh darn, I really feel kinda bad for you, or maybe I don’t.
  13. When anyone pulls up in a vehicle it is our sworn duty as Shepherds to bark ferociously and act like we will indeed rip them from limb to limb. You are not a Shepherd, we expect nothing from you in this department. In fact, having you with us will just detract from our ferociousness so you must hide in the bushes and remain unseen.
  14. So you are a “golden retriever”, what makes you golden and what are you meant to retrieve? This is not a rule or a tip but I am naturally curious as I thought all other dogs on the face of the earth, besides the German Shepherd of course, had died out long ago as people found they had little to no use for them.

    That is fine right there... no closer.

    That is fine right there… no closer.

  15. Soon it will be time for the lady farmer and the family to bring a dead tree into the house and decorate it with what I have always assumed to be dog toys. It is best to sneak these toys off the tree when no one is looking because they tend to get angry about it for some weird reason. There are peppermint stick dog toys, cloth dog toys, ceramic dog toys, metal dog toys, and even a few neat glass ball dog toys, now that’s fancy!


Life is good at The Shepherd Hobby Farm, really good. I have made this farm good, never forget that and we’ll be all right, that is all puppy.



Let's walk and talk...

Let’s walk and talk…


Fridays on the Farm… From the Desk of Mountain Man


band (pile) of brothers!

band (pile) of brothers!


Fridays on the Farm

From the desk of Mountain Man… Intermingler of the legs, catcher of the mice, and all around good guy to hang out with.

Dear Family, particularly the woman who feeds me and calls me “Handsome”,

Stop poking and prodding at me. I will not stay your handsome boy if you continue to poke and prod. Yes, I was bitten by a very angry creature who claimed, “I scratched up the wrong tree” but I do not think this gives you the right to do the monstrous things you have done to me in the name of “saving my life.”

You think I couldn’t have licked this wound clean? You think my immune system is so weak I wouldn’t survive one little encounter with a crazy squirrel, opossum, raccoon creature? You think that abscess was big? You think I need you? You think a handsome cat doesn’t know how to keep up his appearances despite an infected festering wound? You think western medicine is the saving answer to everything? You think this wound is something a gluten free vegan diet can’t cure? Just give me a couple days to get that GMO out of my diet and all will heal perfectly. Just leave me alone!

Family, hear me loud and clear… I… am… a … cat. I need no one. Sure, I cuddle you mercilessly and nuzzle your face but that is merely to give YOU the will to live. Without me you have nothing, get used to it.

So, you were a little alarmed when I came to dinner a few nights ago looking like I had stuffed a huge ball of yarn in my left cheek? Well, I came to dinner, why didn’t you immediately feed me? What was with all the scooping me up, poking and prodding at my face, and then the absolute disgust when you discovered the oozing.  Your poking and prodding did it, why in the world were you surprised?

However, let me take a moment to say, “Thank you.” My head and neck actually did feel better for a split second. Then, guess what, you had to go and ruin the moment. You brought me inside, making me think we would be cuddling on the couch and sharing a nice shrimp cocktail all the while knowing darn well there would be no snuggling and shrimp. Instead, you began to gather random tools of torture, all the while claiming that my oozing did not smell agreeable. Reminder, you caused this so it is your fault.

You, lady who feeds me and gives the best behind the ear and rump scratches, you are no doctor. Stop trying to play one in the home. A steady hand, yup you’ve got that. Some basic first aid knowledge, yes I’ll give you that as well. However, this night you were acting as if you had stayed in a Holiday Inn and suddenly channeled your inner Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. What? No, I never watch TV from the window behind the couch late at night. Can I make a request. Yes, after all this I think I can. I’d like for you to get the satellite TV back. Or maybe cable TV. Heck, I’d be happy with a couple local channels. I’m getting a bit tired of the Andy Griffith DVDs and Star Trek… you guys are such nerds.

The minutes turned into hours, the hours into days as you worked. The bright surgical-like kitchen lights warmed me just enough to lull a light sleep as I was worked on. No growling, you’re welcome. No biting, you’re welcome. No scratching, you really owe me.

ouch, serioulsy, this looks icky :(

ouch, serioulsy, this looks icky 🙁

Then, it happened. What all cats fear. My paws were bathed and wrappings were applied. I tried to scratch the wrapping off from around my neck when I suddenly realized there was something very wrong. The very foot I was attempting to scratch with was also bandaged in a Chinese finger trap type of wrapping which would take quite some time to finally be free from. Torture, pure and simple. I was a cat being tortured.

I really feel for those kids you claim to love because I have seen you gather these same types of tools of torture to treat their afflictions promising no shrimp cocktail to them as well. You have bandaged them, you have washed them, and you have made them cry with your efforts. Well, woman, I was crying. You didn’t see it (because I’m a manly kind of cat) but rest assured, I was crying. It hurt.

I just thought… well, you know… I just thought our relationship was different. I thought you understood me. I thought we had a connection. You, woman, you are dead to me. But it gets worse, oh wow does it get worse.

Don't look, I'm hideous

Don’t look, I’m hideous

You took me to place that shall not be named in the vehicle which is a warm haven of happiness when sitting in the driveway and a deathtrap on wheels as soon as the engine revs up. At least you were smart enough to know every ounce of my street cred would be ruined if you stuffed me into a little box for the ride. Yes, woman, you were smart to allow me to sit on your lap while you drove the deathtrap on wheels to the place which all us cats on The Shepherd Hobby Farm have been to for what you call “alteration.” I was young and don’t remember much but apparently I will never be a father… fine by me.

We arrived and yes, I clung to you like Velcro. My claws dug in, and I have to say I did not appreciate your giggles at my utter terror. The comments about the weight… I could have done without those as well. The vet said I looked great so your little, “Wow, I didn’t think he had gained THAT MUCH weight” was downright hurtful. Eight pounds woman, I weigh eight pounds. I think you weigh a bit more than eight pounds! Yet, I say nothing.

my version of a kitty bridge in my younger months...

my version of a kitty bridge in my younger months…

bad angle... you can see all my baby fat!

bad angle… you can see all my baby fat!


still more baby fat... it's all muscle now!

still more baby fat… it’s all muscle now!

Yet, I come back for more.

The actual appointment went well, she didn’t cause me pain like you did woman who is dead to me. Apparently I owe you a “thank you” as well because the wound was drained and they wouldn’t need to flush it out (flush sounds like it involves water so I do thank you woman… I really don’t like water on me. There may be hope for you).

My neck was shaved and four spots were pointed out where obviously jaws clamped down on my neck. Well duh, I already told you that woman… remember, that creature in the tree… yup that thing did it I bet. It’s all so blurry now, it happened a day or two ago and I’ve been too busy to keep track of details. I told you I could take care of it on my own so I don’t know why we are even here. That wasn’t fun but I sucked it up and took it like a man.

The only happiness of this visit was the confirmation from the vet that I am indeed a handsome cat and knowing you had to pay money for my care… haha the joke is on you woman who is not as dead to me as you were a few moments ago.

Now, understand this, I’m what you would call a country cat. You know this… you made me be a country cat by bringing me to the country. I happily roll in the hay, catch mice and bring their heads, ears, and tails to your doorstep, and bask in the sweet warm sunlight 10 hours each day. You’re cramping my style with the twice daily wound care and medicine. The other cats are starting to talk.

However, that moist yummy bit of amazing goodness you set in front of me after you squirt that horrid liquid in my mouth is something akin to a bear gorging on honey after enduring a few bee stings to get to it. The cuddles are pretty neato as well.



Keep on in your endeavors family, keep on.

~Mountain Man

Dinner for two... Me and Patricia

Dinner for two… Me and Patricia

Project “Tidy Up”

Ephesians 5: 15-16 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”


Project “Tidy Up”

Ready to be let in on a little secret?

I’m lazy. Not just kinda lazy on a Sunday afternoon lazy… nope I’m REALLY lazy. I’m not making the best use of my time and am not walking carefully in an area of my life.

Yup, I have a million “irons in the fire” and responsibilities that would leave many head a spinning but I am quite possibly one of the laziest women I know. I am a procrastinator by nature and find myself busying myself with the fun stuff of life while much of the ho-hum responsibilities get pushed to the side until my husband says something about them. Then I turn into a busy little bee cleaning up whatever area he mentions just enough to get him to stop mentioning it.

Ladies, this is not good and I intend to change my ways… Does this sound at all like you? Want in on the action? Want to get these things done BEFORE your husband has to be the bearer of your untidy bad news?

First, some background so you can understand where I’m coming from and in what areas I may need some accountability help… Share your background if you’d like so we can get an idea where you are coming from too!

Growing up my room was almost always an absolute mess. Stuff everywhere! I always claimed I knew where everything was but truth be told I spent much of my time digging through the piles of things to find any little item that I needed. I would clean and organize but within three hours you wouldn’t have known I had done a thing… except make a mess. I loved a clean room but just seemed incapable of keeping it that way.

It went against every fiber of my being in Air Force basic training to keep everything perfectly neat and tidy but I did it for fear of being recycled and staying in that dorm of dread one second longer than my mandatory 6.5 weeks. Fail a couple inspections and you got a few weeks tacked on to get it right… seriously why is it so important that my underwear be ironed and folded into a perfect square…or was that the t-shirts? Who knows, it seems I ironed and folded everything into a perfect square in basic training. See, I am CAPABLE of the whole neat and tidy thing though I’m not even coming close to suggesting we go this far in our homes… but don’t let me stop you if you want to iron and fold underwear into little squares.

It didn’t get any better in Air Force tech school. I had a roommate who was quite possibly just as messy as me and we always had stuff everywhere in our dorm room. We knew to clean up for the scheduled room inspections and were magically tipped off when random ones were going to occur so we would have enough time to jump back at lunch and clean “real quick” (born and raised in Wisconsin, get used to my use of “real quick” even though it is a grammar nightmare).

We moved a lot in the Air Force and always went over on our weight limits but the Air Force took care of packing us up and moving us around so I never really saw how ridiculous things were getting. On our last move the packers actually chuckled as I said, “Yes, pack up those old magazines because I want to look through them for recipes and other ideas.”  They packed several big boxes of old magazine… YES, OLD MAGAZINES! I’m still going through magazines from the early 2000’s.

I look around my house and I see stuff, lots and lots of stuff. My husband likes things simple, non cluttered and I have to admit I do too. I claim the piles of papers, boxes of papers and other stuff, and random toys that my boys no longer play with just need to be gone through, sorted, filed, put away, or admittedly thrown out but I just don’t have the time to get to it.

Really? I don’t have the time? I do have a hobby farm, but morning chores, afternoon chores, and evening chores only take a sliver of my time. I do have a large house but there are many rooms and areas that we hardly ever go in. I am working on my Master’s Degree but it’s an online program (not necessarily easier but more flexible with time management) and I’m only taking one class at a time. I do homeschool our sons but we unschool and naturally learn from daily life around us every moment of every day. I’m a stay at home mom with two sons who are not only old enough to not create messes but to help me pick up the ones that a family naturally produces as part of this thing we call living. The boys are ten and fifteen and they do plenty of chores but I just can’t quite bring myself to the point of letting them help with our “stuff” situation. On two occasions we have gone through their closets and rooms and gotten rid of things that no longer fit or they had outgrown playing with. They are good at this… several garbage bags and boxes of stuff left their rooms and about half of it made it out of the house and into the hands of Goodwill and friends with boys who could use the clothes. The rest is in the basement awaiting further inspection by me. Oh my… I think I have a problem.

My point is, I have the time. I just choose to fill it with everything other than keeping a tidy home. I like to run to town to look at ideas for home remodeling, to the humane society to volunteer, making soap and lotions when I have a bajillion soaps and lotions already, walking around outside thinking of ways to “better” the farm, sitting and watching goats or other critters, running around with the boys here and there and everywhere (when your boys love the “smell” of Gamestop as they just “check out” what they have you may be going a little too often), and watching documentaries or recorded episodes of “Chopped” with the boys.

I hear friends talking about many similar struggles in this area of their life. I’m not sure if they share the same home laziness affliction that I do but I just felt some personal honesty would be refreshing. I know how to work hard, am not afraid of it, but I’d rather just do the things that I WANT to do… hmmmm that describes many people out there I bet. The issue for me… I’m able to kinda get away with it on a daily basis.

I’ve had a friend come over and help me tackle certain areas of my house… namely my craft room and my soap room (why they can’t be the same room is quite beyond all comprehension) with limited success. We got the one room half done and the other completely done but at this moment they are both a complete disaster with more stuff piled in. My soap room is somewhat like my childhood bedroom. It gets cleaned up and looks amazing when it gets to the point that it drives even me crazy but then is back to its sorry state in no time flat. The time spent with this friend in these endeavors wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be (I was able to part with A LOT of stuff) but I haven’t been eager to tackle a second session even though my dear friend has offered on several occasions.

So, here’s the deal. Here is what I’m going to do. I’m going to set up for myself weekly goals, projects, and outlines of specific things to get done each day. If something legitimately comes up I’m going to offer myself (and all of you who participate) grace and understanding. However, I’m not going to create excuses and I’m going to be pushed outside of my comfort zone focusing on the things that the Bible teaches should be a priority in my life. Keeping the home a welcoming place for you and your family is a Biblical priority. Proverbs 14:1 “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Ladies and gentlemen, I have been tearing my house down, not building it up.

This is the aspect that has lacked in my past. I have always made up my own priorities based on what I thought was important and what would get me the fewest eye rolls or negative comments from my husband. Whatever housework was done I did for my husband, our kids, me, friends, and guests. Did I do it for The Lord? Nope. This time I want to communicate with Kevin as I do this, gathering his input about what makes him feel calm and comfortable in our home and then work to honor and glorify God by making my house a home in which to glorify and praise Him (God… just in case you thought I was talking about Kevin… yup want to make Kev happy and comfortable but God takes priority even over my husband!). What kind of environment is my husband looking for? What about me? Do they match? Is it practical? When someone walks into my home are they hit with our love for The Lord in everything they see, smell, hear, and feel? Oh how I want this to be true in my home! That’s the point of this project!

Here’s how this will work… At the end of the week (by Friday night) I will post the goals, tasks, and ideas for the week. If something doesn’t apply to you feel free to get a free pass or substitute something else that does apply. Feel free to chat (here or on the Simple Hobby Homesteading Facebook page) how it’s going for you, ideas, or frustrations.

I know it’s Tuesday today but I wanted to get this out there to start next week.  You won’t see me list anything for Sundays because this day is up to you on how you spend it. Personally, I still do household chores (dishes, vacuum, etc.) but it is also more of a relaxing play some games with the family and get homework done kind of day for me. You’ll see a list of weekly things to do. You make up your own schedule and post your schedule so we can help you with accountability. Each week there will be an area (more areas as we move along) where I will be getting rid of things, decluttering. I need to start small but feel free to declutter or tackle more areas if you want. Just don’t run yourself too ragged or you won’t feel up to doing the rest of the items for the week.

Week of Monday Oct 27th– Nov 1st

This week it is all about the kitchen… I need some big organization help in my kitchen as it has become a “catch all” room as of late.

Jhenna’s POA (Plan of Attack)

Monday: Fun project: “Coffee Station.” Pick a fun project for your week… something perhaps you’ve always wanted to do (not looking for bank breaking or super elaborate projects), something you saw on Pinterest, in a magazine, or a friend mentioned! I am choosing to finish my “coffee station corner.” It was started months ago but I never got it done and am tired of making excuses for it.

Tuesday: Light fixtures and ceiling fans: Take down light fixtures (the glass things around the light bulbs or plastic piece for fluorescents), clean them, and put them back up. Replace burnt out light bulbs. If you are doing this over your table or counters I recommend spreading a sheet over the area to catch big globs of dust, dead flies, or anything else hiding in those glass light globe things. I have a tool that I especially love for cleaning my two ceiling fans in my kitchen (too bad I only remember to use it once or twice a year). I think I got it at Lowes a few years back but you can get the exact same one at ( ) if you can’t find it at Lowes.

light fixture

Wednesday: Refrigerator: Take everything out, take out shelves, wash them, wipe down inside, check expiration dates, and put everything back in. As you put things back in make a point to talk with your family about cleaning up spills right when they happen, throwing away empty containers, and putting things on the grocery list as you run out. Many people have found they like putting simple plastic place mats on their shelves to easily catch spills and help with future cleanups. I highly recommend soaking fridge shelves and drawers in a bathtub of soapy water, scrubbing them, and using the shower to rinse them off!


Thursday: Microwave. Yup, clean the microwave. Here’s my sure fire way to clean AND deodorize my microwave. Just fill a microwave-safe bowl with a mixture of half vinegar and half water, and nuke it for two minutes. Then, dip a sponge into the vinegar-water solution, and use it to wipe the food off of the walls of the microwave. It’ll fall right off – no strong-arming required. I do usually need a toothpick to get into the cracks and crevices. Don’t forget to wipe down the inside and outside of the door as well as the touch buttons/knobs. Make the microwave a once a week cleaning chore (teach family members how to wipe down messes when they happen and how to clean it weekly the easy way!)


Friday: Wipe down the outside of cabinets. First dust the tops, fronts, sides, and bottom parts of cabinets. Then wipe down the cabinets with a soapy solution of your choice (I start with a simple dishwashing detergent in a bucket of water and then have my Norwex cleaning past handy for any tough stuff)

Saturday: Tupperware/storageware cabinet. Sort through and get rid of any extra lids that don’t have anything they fit. Evaluate how much you have, what you really use, and pieces that you can get rid of. This is the area of decluttering for the week. Be straight up with yourself in this area. Are you a Coolwhip container keeper? I’m not judging because I am totally a Coolwhip container hoarder. They are just so handy when they dogs or cats carry off their food bowls and hide them under the pile of laundry. However, let’s be honest. I could just as easily use a bowl for a dog food bowl in a pinch. What’s your excuse for collecting food containers?… I’m seriously curious!


There we have it folks… our last week of October at a glance. I know I may seem to be starting really really small but I think I need to ease into some of this. What days are you tackling each of these projects? Keep up with cleaning up little messes in the fridge and microwave and keep a close on eye on what goes into that Tupperware cupboard. Wear your sunglasses inside like a movie star if the bright lights shining through your newly cleaned fixtures blinds you and enjoy some creativity with your fun kitchen project! Spoon art anyone?


Fridays on the Farm

This is me, Axel. This is my Thank You card, I will call him "Steve the Thank You Card"

This is me, Axel. This is my Thank You card, I will call him “Steve the Thank You Card”

From the desk of Axel…

Here it is, a beautiful fall day and I, Axel, am stuck inside because my humans say it has been raining for a “Noah’s time” (who is Noah and has he ever come over to play with me? Noah isn’t a new goat my lady farmer human got is it? I need to watch her more carefully!) and apparently we don’t like mud in the house. Dirt, cobwebs, food bits, dust, random piles of books and papers, toys, dog hair, and kid prints all over the windows is cool but NO MUD! I just don’t get it. I rather like mud… the way it squishes up between my toes, the cool feeling it gives me on my nose, the playful splatter on my tummy as I run at full speed through it’s oceans of silkiness, the amazing softness as I dig down deep into it’s depths… yes, I like mud.

However, I am kept occupied by bits of mail that people send me so at least the day is not a total wash (get that… get how I used a word related to water when I just got done talking about how it had been raining and that created the mud and that’s why I am bored on this beautiful fall day… not great? Ok, I’ll work on it.) For example, today I received a wonderful handwritten thank you note from the lady who lives a cat’s dash away beyond the barn which contains some foul mouthed goats and an area that has these huge creatures that try to run me down when I get too close… my humans ride them and they don’t seem to ever try to run them down so I am wondering what I ever did to them. Oh well, to ponder another day.

Anyways, back to the thank you note… did I mention it was handwritten? Really a lost art, the whole handwriting thing. Rumor has it my lady farmer human once let Katja (a fellow canine on the farm, kinda the matriarch of the whole thing as she is older than dirt… ooh wait… older than mud!) paint on a t-shirt which she was going to wear on the Price Is Right but I guess painting isn’t quite like writing and I have no clue what a price is or whjy it would not always be right. Point is, I ramble, and I can’t read or write yet. I’m not even a year old, give a male some time! However, I turn one on the 31st and I’m expecting one heck of a party… did you see what they did for Nala’s birthday a couple days ago? A cake, toys, singing (not good), and oh so much attention. It…was…amazing! Yes, I want all that and more. I want a field trip too. I wonder who will write my thank you notes… I’m a thank you note kind of guy.

Oh yes, back to the thank you note! I got one today, from the lady I stayed with when my humans attempted to abandon me. They just dropped me off early one morning. Me, my food bin, a bag of toys, a leash, my man cave (they call it a kennel… what is a kennel… oh yes, it must be my man cave), and a simple pat on the head with some lecturing words which I didn’t hear because this lady had other dogs that just HAD to play with me!

They realized after being gone for twelve days they couldn’t live without me and they came back. Yes, I am that irresistible. Truth be told, this woman was amazing and I’m thinking they should abandon me more often. The thank you note is quite beautiful with this purple thing on it and lots of writing. My lady farmer human read it to me and I melted…

Dear Axel,

I know you can’t read yet, so let your mommy read this to you. The gift card for Knittwitts is such a thoughtful idea. That place is like a doggy bone store – sooo much to drool at! Next time your family travels, come and stay with us again.

Thank you,

Aunt Phoebe

Sheebah, Eddie, Bella say “Woof”

Another angle and look with me and Steve

Another angle and look with me and Steve

Well now, that was just so sweet. I don’t remember getting her any gift card to a place called Knittwitts… that doesn’t really scream my style. I would, in fact, be more apt to get her one to the above mentioned doggy bone store… yes, that is my style. Oh well, she is happy and has showered me with thank you note worthy attention so I will play along like I am indeed fully responsible for this gift that she obviously adores.

Am I obligated to send her a thank you note for the thank you note she sent me? Get on it one of you boys who taps away at keyboards while talking into screens or lady farmer human who refuses to let me play in the mud… make this thank you card for the thank you card happen, I don’t want to appear rude.


Understanding Moderation in an All or Nothing Pinterest Painted World

11 oct 2014 068


The above definition comes from Google but if you are more of an old school type person perhaps you would prefer Merriam-Webster’s take on things…” an avoidance of extremes in one’s actions, beliefs, or habits <the kind of person who does everything in moderation>”

We’ve all seen it, heard it, felt it, and practically even tasted it… the want to do better, be better, feel better, and seem better in our own eyes and those around us. Many pour over the pages of Pinterest for great ideas on how to decorate, cook, exercise, eat, garden, craft, parent, dress… the list is seemingly endless.

When is it ever enough? When will our thirst be quenched? If you are anything like me you have a long list of “Things To Do” inspired by the pages of magazines, Pinterest, Facebook, or friends. For every one item I check off I add 10 more to the list and if I keep running on my hamster wheel at this rate I will have the most beautiful house, best kept farm, and a family with delightfully full tummies… but at what cost?

My sanity will have been drowned in gallons of paint, my animals will crave the cuddles and sweet attention not afforded to them as I hurried to “make better” their enclosures, and the tummies of my family will empty and just have to be refilled. More importantly, I will have missed the mark completely of what I was put on this earth to do.

I know I was put on this earth to glorify God, love and strive to be the best helpmate to my husband that I can be, mother my children by raising them up in the way they should go and teaching them diligently all the while loving them so fully that often times I feel I may burst.

I want to eat well, I want to exercise, I want to avoid chemical laden food, I want to celebrate my children’s birthdays and holidays, I want to homeschool, I want to continue my own education, I want to grow my own food, I want to create crafts, and I want to learn more about the dangers AND the positive aspects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Any food product that has been altered at the gene level sounds a little Frankenstineish (spelling? Wow, I have no idea and spell check is stumped as well) and I’m not sure I want to be consuming it but I need to look into it further and see if I want to change my spending and eating habits to jump this GMO hurdle. There are folks who will have long raging debates over the uses of GMOs in food that OTHER PEOPLE eat. People like me… they are giving me a tongue lashing because I don’t have an opinion at this point about whether or not GMOs should be banned.

Chill out people, just chill out. I really don’t think GMOs are going to be the downfall of mankind.

There are basically three areas that I want everyone to take a look at when I beg them to look at chilling out and jumping from the “all or nothing Pinterest painted” world to the world of “moderation.”

photo compliments of

photo compliments of


If you know me you know that I am all about living in the world of “moderation.” The only exercise I love to do is bicycle, so I do a lot of bicycling. However, I also look for opportunities to incorporate exercise into my daily life. I have two older sons (10 and 15) who I am not overly concerned with running out in front of a moving car in a parking lot. So guess what, I can park further away at the store and have a nice walk in to get some extra exercise. When I come out I can also unload my purchases and walk the cart all the way back into the store collecting others’ carts for them along the way with the help of my non toddler sons. Have you heard me loud and clear when I say I do not look down on the mother who looks for that parking spot as close to the entrance as possible because she has young kids who could very easily dash in front of a moving car? Guess what folks, that mother is getting as much, if not more exercise, than me and my stroll from my Neptune like distance parking space.

No time for exercise? Hogwash, everyone has time for some form of exercise. Want some creative examples? Exercise is anything that elevates your heart rate and takes your body outside of its normal comfort zone…

-10 sit-ups before you get out of bed

– Get some friends or your family together and head for a hike… through the woods, around the block, around the house, wherever, just make a concerted effort to get moving. A wonderful tradition is to start a 15 minute walk after dinner each evening. Is it dark? Take flashlights, extra fun!

– Dance. Yup, that’s right, the girl with no rhythm (Zumba solidified that fact) says you should dance. For me it looks like a woman having a seizure and embarrasses my son in the privacy of their own home but it really gets the heart rate up and can be done anytime and most anywhere.

– Roughhousing with your kids. I am THAT mom who wrestled with my boys constantly and encouraged them to wrestle with each other. Do you have little ones? Gentle wrestling on the ground, airplane rides with them on your legs while you lay on your back on the floor, and the bouncing on your knee showing how the “farmer goes to town” are all great ways to interact with your kids while exercising.

– Stop meeting for coffee… instead go for a walk, play some golf, or do some volunteer work at the local dog shelter (walking dogs) or on someone’s hobby farm (hint hint… The Shepherd Hobby Farm is all about helpers) with that friend or client.

– Play with the kids on the playground. You probably don’t want to be “that guy” who does this when your own kids aren’t there but if you have kids or can borrow someone else’s kids then run, climb, and play with them on that playground. You’ll be amazed how quickly that heart rate rises!

You get the point. Find ways to incorporate some exercise in your day as often as possible. It helps to clear your mind, maintain your body, and sets a great example for your family and friends.


Seriously people, relax about the food. Give yourself permission to allow some moderation in your eating habits and then maybe you will lighten up with the rest of us Pringles eating and Coke drinking people. I’m not suggesting Pringles and Coke should be your breakfast but take a lesson from this mama, it won’t be the end of the world if it is once in a while. That was my breakfast for an entire week straight when I was pregnant with my oldest son (gotta love cravings) and I can tell you right now that fifteen years later he suffered no ill effects then nor now (unless you count his obsessive tendency to want to stack all things in a nesting type configuration… Just kidding).

It’s wonderful to strive to find produce which was grown without the use of chemicals but should you break the bank over it and stress about it? No! Almost all of those insecticides and herbicides can be washed off of produce before you eat it if they haven’t been already (most produce gets thoroughly washed before it comes to you). If you are really that worried about your food then why not put the extra time and effort (added benefit of exercise) to grow your own food? Maybe go in on a garden together with your church, your neighbor, or a friend. Share the cost, work, and the abundance of food!

It’s great to give information to others about different ways to do things but please remember preferences do not equal black and white or right and wrong. Be sensitive to the reaction you get from friends and family when you discuss your food selections and  your advice about the latest and greatest studies on GMOs, antibiotic laden beef, and cancer causing Pop-Tarts (for the record, I do not think Pop-Tarts cause cancer). When you come over to my place do not give me a dirty look when you see my kid eating Doritoes and drinking a Coke. What you may not know is that while I have given up all hope on that kid I have another one who eats nothing but carrots, cucumbers, melon, and free range eggs.

I may have exaggerated a bit about my kids above but I figured you could use a laugh and I know some parent out there feels like that is their life… one kid who is super eater and one who will no doubt weigh 600 pounds and find Twinkies in their fat rolls as they live with 30 cats. Be the parent while you can… you are the one who buys the food and drinks, sets the rules, and decides what is allowed in your home and what is not. In our home we do limit those things that really don’t have much (if any) nutritional value and ensure our kids fill their bodies primarily with plenty of fruits, vegetable, dairy, whole grains, meat, and water.

Cut back on the eating out and get your family in the kitchen with you to cook together. Watch cooking shows if that’s your thing (I recommend “Chopped”) and challenge each kid to pick out a recipe each week (online, cookbook, wherever) and help them make that for a meal during the week or weekend. Slow down with the “outside the home” activities and concentrate on the family in the home.


Ok, this one is completely selfish. I can’t keep up with all you crafty moms so you are just going to have to slow down. In fact, quit all together. The awesome headboards, DIY kitchen tables and centerpieces, scrapbooks, blankets and quilts… just STOP, you are killing me!

Or… we could work through this together. You help me to understand that even though we have the same 24 hours in a given day our 24 hours look different and we have different responsibilities and life set-ups. I will try to stop comparing myself to you super women out there if you promise to help keep me accountable for priorities that we all know come before our Pinterest and Facebook crafty craziness. When I talk about a project or boast about a finished item of supreme craftiness (I know, I shouldn’t boast… I’m working on that) feel free to ask me how my scripture reading was that day or what book I read with my sons. Ask me what great conversation I had with my husband or how I showed him he was important to me that day.  Ask me how my prayer time went and who I was able to help that day. Ask me if I got the things done in my home which makes it inviting to my husband and family. These should be the focus of our days and the rest can be filled in within the realms of moderation.

Oddly enough I just want to end this with a sincere and heartfelt, I love you all. I’m not typically a mushy person but I love every person who takes the time to read these heartfelt ramblings and every person who is in my life in one capacity or another. I just really love you all and want to see everyone chill out a bit in the areas that don’t matter as much as you salvation, your marriage, and your parenting.




The Ride… Day 11… Travel, and so it comes to an end…

I am so glad I chronicled our trip because twenty years from now (or tomorrow) my mind isn’t going to be what it used to be and I will appreciate reading these pages as if the whole trip was new to me.

While chatting last night my ever-so-insightful aunt and uncle asked Kevin and me (and yes, I am am almost completely certain it is “me” and not “I” in this case) what our most memorable moments of the ride were. The serious answer for us both was of course the fabulous miles logged beside each other… best friends, woven together through God’s amazing plan.

The more light-hearted and comical answer for Kevin was the quick stop to do some doctoring on an injury, having the RV pull over and start taking pictures, and then refusing to leave. Mine was a memory that I don’t think I included in the days’ logs but that happened on either day 7 or 8 of riding (I think it was day 7). We were riding along and were coming up to a stone bridge that went over a culvert type thing. There were about eight of us riders and I noticed a person squatting up against the bridge wall ahead. I assumed it was a homeless person as we had seen quite a few that day already but I was struck at how strong he was to squat like that instead of just sit down. Wall squats are not easy to do for long periods. As we rode closer and then passed I realized it was a gentleman who had obviously eaten something that hadn’t agreed with him and there the poor guy was, pants around his ankles and the evidence of his tummy issues all over the wall and sidewalk. I felt so bad for him but couldn’t help but chuckle (I know, I’m horrible). Worse even than his loose bowels was the parade of riders strolling past with really no other scenery to avert our eyes to. Now, that is a bad moment for all involved.

We woke up Sunday morning and luckily Kevin checked his email. My flight, which was supposed to leave at 9:00am was delayed three hours. Really? Well, at least this was confirmation Spirit Airlines was in fact a real airline (I was dubious up until this point as I had never heard of it before). Kevin’s flight was scheduled to leave at 11:00am anyways so we decided to just head to the airport at our normally scheduled time to see if there was any way I could get on an earlier flight. I wanted to try to get back to Monroe (Wisconsin, where the boys were staying) before the Cheese Days cheese curd stand closed down… priorities people!

Aunt Marcia drove us to the airport along many of the same Malibu roads we had biked on the day before… these hills weren’t so tough now… in a car! She dropped us off at LAX and Kevin walked with me to check my bag in and check on an earlier flight for me (no such luck… I would have to wait two more years for Optimist cheese curds). I walked Kevin over to his terminal and we passed the oddest mural. Apparently it was “abstract art” or else people in Los Angeles don’t have heads…

California art

California art

It wasn’t fun to kiss Kevin goodbye and walk back to my terminal alone. Knowing that it would be several weeks before I would see him again is never fun, especially going from being with him nonstop for the last two weeks. Luckily technology allows for us to text often and keep each other updated of every little happening in our day lol.

I loaded my backpack onto the security conveyor belt and stepped into the chamber of certain death by radiation poisoning. I expected to be waved through without incident but something in my bag was holding things up. They took my bag off and sent it through again while I stood there. I was then asked to step to the back and they proceded to empty out my bag in front of me. What was in there that was causing such an issue? Laundry detergent? No, I had used all that up. A pocket knife? Nope, didn’t bring one of those. My epi-pen? Nope, had put that in my checked baggage because most assuredly there would be no mammal meat in the LAX airport… California people are all vegan, right? hehe

There it was… the rubber headed mallet that we had used to pound tent stakes in while we were camping on the ride. I had completely forgotten it was in my backpack. Ugh, I knew they thought I intended to take over the plane with a rubber mallet so I tried to explain that we had been camping and used that mallet for the tent stakes. I also told them that I didn’t care if they confiscated it, I didn’t need it. It was somewhat comical because the TSA guy must have thought I said, “I desperatley want that hammer, it is everything to me, I will not part with it.”

He called his supervisor to see if I could take it on the plane and I again reiterated that I did not want the hammer. I just wanted to get past security and go get a sandwich (I am very cranky when I am hungry… I hadn’t been hungry before this but suddenly I was famished). He talked with his supervisor for a while and then his supervisor called his supervisor. I contemplated just bolting… I had no mallet so I could do no harm to anyone, surely they wouldn’t stop me. I then came to the conclusion that bolting for any reason at any place in an airport would certainly cause an issue and I didn’t want to go to airport jail.

After long discussions, much chin scratching, and all assurances from me that I had no emotional attachment to the mallet they confiscated it and I was free to take my bag and head to my gate.

The non potato sandwich

The non potato sandwich

I stopped and got a sandwich at Starbucks but it lacked that potato goodness that I had been without for 24 hours now… this must be what withdrawal feels like.

I was able to sit and people watch, hoping to see some famous folks… after all I’m sitting in LAX. After seeing none (and I had looked for a whole 15 minutes!) I put my sunglasses and baseball cap on and walked around like I was a famous person… it’s amazing what one will do when they are bored and have no husband to tell them they are being ridiculous. I sat back down and Kevin and I texted back and forth for a while.

It was time to board the plane and I did… no little TV screen of my own and no snacks… Spirit America is most assuredly nothing like Virgin America… I like Virgin America. Meanwhile, Kevin boarded his plane bound for Detroit (and then on to Evansville/home and then the next day he would drive to Oklahoma City) and scored a first class seat. WHAT?!?! How did that happen… my plane didn’t even have a first class section.

I arrived in Chicago after going almost completely batty on the plane (I really don’t like sitting still). You will be happy to know that I was able to uneventfully get my checked bag and make my way to lot F via the O’Hare shuttle. I found the van right where we had left it at S1 and I headed to Monroe to SEE MY BOYS!

The two hour drive went quickly but I was still way too late to get cheese curds… I had officially missed Cheese Days in Monroe 🙁 It was awesome to see my boys and they enjoyed hearing all about the trip as much as I enjoyed hearing all about their Wisconsin adventures. I slept well at Grandpa and Grandma’s and we loaded up in the morning and started the eight hour drive home.

We got home that evening and all the critters were happy to see us. I buried my face into the warm neck of Mercedez (one of my horses) and gave all the goats a good petting. The dogs were played with and loved on and the cats refused to be left out (forceable petting to the extreme!). Guinea pigs, chickens, guuineas, and rabbits were great and it felt amazing to be home.

Kevin made it safely to Oklahoma City and was glad the boys and I made it home safe and sound.

The question I get the most is: “Will you do the ride next year?” Up until writing these ride day blogs I had said, “no” citing several solid reasons…

– Quite expensive logistic side of things (getting bikes there, plane tickets, etc)

– Difficult to find farm sitters (huge shout out and thank you to our amazing farm sitters!)

– A lot of time away from our boys

– Used a lot of Kevin’s vacation time when we would like to do a vacation WITH the boys

However…. now I’m just not so sure. I wonder if we could get creative and get the boys out there with us somehow… I’d love to ride again and I’m officially putting my thinking cap on… I’ll welcome any and all suggestions! The combination of the ride experience and the money raised for the Arthritis Foundation makes this the most perfect time and money spent. I’ve never come across anything that even comes close. Well done Arthritis Foundation and riders… well done.

A couple final thoughts…

I’m not done fundraising yet and still quite a ways from my goal! Have you enjoyed reading about my adventure? Consider donating in my name to the Arthritis Foundation TODAY! Don’t wait! You can donate here and it’s the perfect end of year tax write-off!


Think you have what it takes to make this an adventure of your own? Trust me, if I can, you can! Sign up here!






The Ride… Day 10… Last Day of Riding

As I sit and write today it is raining. It has been raining quite steadily for the past three days (no, I’m not trying to brag California people) and it looks like we have a few more days of it ahead. I love writing in the rain as it is incredibly peaceful. My dogs are usually curled up around my feet, goats munching hay in the barn or their outside shelters, cats sitting on the window ledges completely dry but looking as pitiful as ever hoping I will let them in, chickens refusing to set foot outside the henhouse, and horses usually looking for a mud bog to roll in (I think my horses are half pig).

I have mixed emotions as I write about the last day of riding. Our adventure is almost to an end and tomorrow I kiss my husband goodbye as he heads off to Oklahoma City for a work trip. We have spent almost every second together for the past ten days and I have loved it. I miss my boys and can’t wait to see them but I know reuniting with them means we start another one of the many periods with Kevin away from home for work.

This has been a blessed trip for Kevin and me to reconnect with each other. Sometimes we get so busy living life, caring for our kids, and just being pulled in so many directions that we forget to concentrate on each other. When our marriage is strong our family is strong, it’s a simple fact. I will certainly remember this fact as we return home and make that extra effort to happily greet him at the door when he gets home and live up to my end of the saying, “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” ~Martin Luther

Just a chillin'

Just a chillin’

My legs and arms are tired, my face is sun burnt and my feet have continued to swell. With all that being said, I would willingly stay on the bike if this adventure continued on… I’m hooked. Amazing riders, stellar support and staff, breath-taking scenery, and uninterrupted time with my husband… awesome! Ooh, don’t forget the whales… we saw whales!

We wake up excited to finish the ride strong today. Ventura to Los Angeles (Santa Monica) where we will be met by my aunt and uncle (they live there). We hop on the bikes and head over for breakfast. I’m super hungry today and eat a ton!

Kevin and I take off at 7:30am and don’t plan on stopping a whole lot. We want to kinda give ourselves some extra breathing room in case of flat tires or other troubles. All of the riders will meet up at the final checkpoint just short of the finish line (out of sight of all families etc. waiting for us) so everyone rides over at the same time (spectacular sight) and the last thing we want is the crew having to wait on us lol!

There are some straight up climbs but they are relatively short so they don’t give us any troubles. We ride 55 miles today and they are easy miles. Riding by the Channel Islands I happened to be looking out to the ocean and I saw dolphins! Yes, another first for me in California, dolphins! They aren’t doing any crazy acrobatics like the whales were but it was a neat sight nonetheless. The pictures I got remind me of pictures of the Loch Ness Monster but I know what they are so that’s all that counts. Once again the sea creatures were not cooperating for their photo ops.

28 Sep 2014 CCC 836

Kevin must be super excited to finish today because he set a faster than usual pace for us and there’s some points I’m quite winded and barely able to keep up with him. I’m loving it though as we speed along.

About a mile or two from the last checkpoint there’s Gladstones, a restaurant/bar that many folks stop to get spirits before tackling the final hill (my last California hill, WOOHOO) to the checkpoint and finish line. Kevin and I think about it, but would rather stretch out on the grass at the checkpoint for a nice little nap. We are about two hours early to the checkpoint so we grab some snacks, chat with a few other riders (not many here yet), and sprawl out in the warm California sun for a well earned nap.

early to the checkpoint, time for a nap!

early to the checkpoint, time for a nap!

The riders trickle in over the next two hours and about 20 minutes before we all get gathered up to head to the finish line Kevin and I are surprised by my Aunt Marcia and Uncle Jim walking down the sidewalk. Hugs all around and I don’t even care that I probably smell like stale sweat and grass… my aunt and uncle don’t seem to mind either. It is so good to see them as I think it’s been a year or two since we’ve laid eyes on each other.

We chat for a few minutes and then they head up to the finish line to get the “full effect” of over 200 riders coming across in one huge group. We get all gathered up and take off for the last couple hundred feet of our epic ride.

Getting ready to head over the finish line

Getting ready to head over the finish line

We cross the finish line but for some reason it just doesn’t seem “over”. I’m not sure why and I still can’t explain the feeling. I couldn’t wait to hand my bike over to the shop that would disassemble and ship it back to Indiana but the moment I did I suddenly missed that two-wheeled wonder. My carbon frame that made for a smooth ride, the multitude of gears which afforderd me the ability to climb Mt Everest (maybe not, but it seemed like it), my itty bitty hard seat that I never thought I’d be able to get used to, my handlebars that I seemed to know like the back of my own hand by now, the tires that were thin as could be but never once went flat on me, and those speed play pedals… who can forget those speed play pedals. Now that I am completetly comfortable in them I seriously feel like I could take on the world!

We had a wonderful taco meal and listened to closing ceremonies. We lugged our packs one last time to the car and later realized we completetly forgot our tent. I talked the big talk about being glad to be rid of my bike but on the way to Jim and Marcia’s house I whispered to Kevin, “I miss my bike.” He squeezed my hand and gave me a soft, “Oh hon” that just seemed to make everything better. We stopped at Starbucks which further made everything “all better” and had an amazing supper that night of pasta, lasagna, and salad… but… where were the potatoes? Nooooooooooo, no potatoes, how could this be? I had to laugh to myself but didn’t say a word even jokingly otherwise I was afraid my amazing aunt would have been in the kitchen in a heartbeat whipping up potatoes.

It was such a blessing to catch up with my aunt and uncle and hear how everything has been going with life, work, and family. I did some laundry so our cycling clothes wouldn’t have to stay in stinky limbo for another day or two.

We were able to call the boys and let them know that we finished successfully and had an amazing ride. Our oldest son (15) was excited to tell us about his air soft rifle fight and said the words no mother wants to hear, “It didn’t hurt much at all except for the two times I got hit in the face.” WHAT?!?! Of course I asked what type of full armor he was wearing and he answered, “Plenty, I had those safety shooting glasses on so I wouldn’t get my eye shot out.” Oh my, what did I let my baby boy do… yes I may be having issues with letting them grow up. Anyways, he loved it and would like to do it again some time (sounds like great father son time… this mama has no intention of being shot at by anything, especially for sport). Our youngest son (10) didn’t have any desire to participate that day but has since shown interest, oh great.

Aunt Marcia would take us to the airport early so we all got to bed at a decent time. I slept snuggled extra close to my husband… I wouldn’t be sleeping next to him again for several weeks 🙁 How would I feel when I woke up and din’t climb into te bik saddle? How about the flight… would I ever get to Chicago and would I FIND THE VAN?



I'm dubious... about... something...

I’m dubious… about… something…




The Ride… Day 9… Smoothies, German Shepherds, and A Lot of Riding

We wake up refreshed in Buellton… switching over to a hotel was genius even though we have no clue who thought of it first. I give Kevin credit and he gives me credit, perhaps we have found the secret to a happy marriage (17 years, we must be doing something right 🙂 ). There is even a Starbucks in our hotel so I get a delicious white chocolate mocha before we head out to catch the shuttle and eat a big breakfast.

I cannot imagine doing this ride in an unsupported capacity. The food, mechanics, route marking, lodging provisions, and electric energy (in a good way) has made this a trip to be remembered without even beginning to touch on the scenery God has created for us to feast our eyes upon. Kevin and I don’t joke about this being our honeymoon anymore… with the transition from camping to the hotels this has officially become the honeymoon we never got around to taking. We are too tired at the end of the day to even think about disagreeing over petty differences of opinion and we encourage and care for each other each mile we ride.


We may be all lovey dovey but apparently our bikes aren't speaking to each other...

We may be all lovey dovey but apparently our bikes aren’t speaking to each other…


I’m loving it and am surprised that the days have flown by so quickly. We are heading from Buellton to Ventura today and will be riding a stretch on the actual US 101 freeway (highway?). Many riders are nervous about this but I’m not (I have no idea why, let’s just blame the risidual damage from the stroke 9 years ago that I guess leaves no fear of being hit by a speeding truck or car while on my bicycle). Traffic never has bothered me and I loved driving (not bicycling… I DO NOT recommend to ANYONE to bicycle on the Autobahn) on the Autobahn back in our years living in Germany.

However, we have to tackle some climbing at the start of our day which I’m starting to get used to (scary thought!). I can’t wait to get on our old training routes in Indiana and fly up and down the hills with ease… they’ll seem like nothing!

Oh, did I mention we saw a tarantula on the road yesterday? We did. Many of them in fact. In the years I lived in this area before I had NEVER seen a tarantula and yesterday we saw a ton (most squished on the road by traffic)… is there a spider epidemic that we were unaware of? Glad we moved if there is… not a fan of spiders but Kevin had a Chilean Rose Tarantula back in the days before I met him… who is this man I married?

28 Sep 2014 CCC 772


After some great climbing we head down two miles of downhill. It lasts forever and is by far my favorite stretch of downhill so far. There is a huge shoulder relatively free of debris so riding on the 101 is a breeze. The cars seem to respect the riders and I actually love when a semi hauls past because they create a pull that makes it seem like I’m pedaling on air. We ride along the Ocean into Santa Barbara and beyond. There’s a new bike path just outside Santa Barbara along the 101 and it is magnificent!

New bike trail along US 101, so nice

New bike trail along US 101, so nice


At a reststop there were two ladies hanging out in the grass (not riders) with a massive German Shepherd. To know me you know I am a German Shepherd lover to the core of my very being. I train them, I have three of them, and I respect the breed incredibly. How was I not supposed to go talk to these ladies and pet their dog? Kevin ended up having to lovingly and quite forcefully pull me away after I had hung out with them for about 45 minutes. To my credit, I had tried to make an exit before then but they just kept pulling me in with this awesome German Shepherd talk. Their dog was a beautiful male with the big thick head which reminded me of our male Cody and his Czechoslovakian blood. We got Cody in German a year after we got Katja there but he sadly passed away in California with us at seven years old from massive kidney failure (nothing we could have done 🙁 ). We still have Katja who is now 15 years old and Nala (our long haired German Shepherd) who is almost 6 and Axel, our long legged pup who turns 1 on Oct 31. He already towers over all of our other dogs (even our Great Pyrenese!). Stroking that big dog and talking with those ladies made me miss our dogs so badly!

I even trained Katja to perform some tasks for me as a service dog after I had my stroke. I am blessed that I have recovered enough to not need her in that capacity anymore but I will forever be grateful to the intelligence, versatility, and loyalty of the breed. German Shepherds are not #1 at anything but they are #2 at EVERYTHING!

On we ride, without any dogs 🙁

At some point we stopped at a neat cafe/smoothie shop where I enjoyed a black & white cookie and we each got the biggest smoothies in the world full of things like wheat germ, protein powder, and all sorts of sink your stomach kind of density. I don’t know how, but Kevin finished his entire smoothie… I got through about half of mine. This cafe was extra cool because of their entertainment game selection. We found so many of the games we have on our own shelves at home on their cafe shelves. Carcassone, Settlers of Catan, King of Tokyo… so many of the Euro games our family is a huge fan of! Oh, how I suddenly longed to be with our sons, playing games, and hanging out. Miss my boys a ton! Ooh, I should open a cafe back home that has the Euro games where everyone comes, hangs out, plays games, drinks heavy smoothies and lattes, and eats black & white cookies (yes I know this wasn’t a “classic” black and white cookie but close enough without me having to go to New York).

smoothie and black and white cookie... I could build an empire on this premise

smoothie and black and white cookie… I could build an empire on this premise

It was a big day of riding today with 86 miles but only about 3,500 feet of climbing. Kevin was feeling a little heavy from his massive smoothie consumption so we took things nice and slow. We got to the campsite and checked in. The hotel was just across the street so we took our bikes over and checked in. Kevin wanted to relax while I wanted to get a few more miles in and check out the area a bit (we were on the beach). After 86 miles I wanted to get some more miles in?!?!… Who is this woman and what has she done with Jhenna?

I managed to get about four more miles in before realizing I would just have to go around in circles if I wanted to get more without getting on the freeway and it was starting to get dark. I went back to the hotel, cleaned up and we headed over to camp for supper. Awesome supper as usual and a special surprise from Mama’s Boy Infusions. Infused tequila all around… I bet things got fun at camp this night. Kevin and I headed back to the hotel to relax, call the boys, and lament about how tomorrow would be our last day of riding in the California Coast Classic, bittersweet for sure.

Tomorrow is the…last…day… Oh my! Will we make it to the finish line? Through the winding hills and beaches of Malibu, wondering if Cher is home as we ride past her place, and ANOTHER hill up to the end… We’ve had no flat tires this whole trip, will our tires stay strong? Almost there…


Heya Kevin!

Heya Kevin!

The smoothie!

The smoothie!



Oh yes, my kind of cafe!

Oh yes, my kind of cafe!

HORSES! I miss my horses!

HORSES! I miss my horses!



The Ride… Day 8… Our Old Stomping Grounds

For my fellow CCC riders reading this blog and completetly annoyed with the fact that my day 8 actually equates to day 6 on the ride I’ll clarify…. Today is day 6 of actually riding but because I icluded travel days in my narrative it is day 8 of our “adventure”.

We wake up in a hotel feeling rested and excited to jump on our bikes. We hop on a shuttle to go down to breakfast where I scarf down another big plate of potatoes… I think they put crack in those potates to make your body crave them. I cannot confirm this… I’m just sayin’.

There is marked improvement in Kevin’s neck and his headache is gone. His upper thigh issue is still painful but he thinks he’s able to ride. It’s Oceano to Buellton today and we have an extra special treat waiting for us in Buellton… a visit with a dear friend and coworker of Kevin’s from his time as a contractor at Vandenberg Air Force Base (you could say he was a rocket scientist of sorts while I was active duty Air Force there). Rich has been an incredible source of support and encouragement throughout our training, travels, and the ride thus far so I can’t wait to give him a big hug and catch up on life in person.

Gotta love our selfies

Gotta love our selfies, we’re coming to see ya Rich!

We head off and even though we have a long climb ahead of us today through 66 miles, I look forward to it because almost all of it is gradual. I can do gradual climbing all day long… it’s just those straight up climbs that are a challenge to me. There is a straight up part at the end of the gradual climb and it is called “the wall”. I will pretend “the wall” does not exist. That will work, right?

This is the day I can finally say I’m officially an expert in clipping out of my pedals. Kevin has been so insanely patient with me and has explained over and over again the mechanics of slowing down, getting off the seat, clipping out with one foot, leaning ever so slightly and then stopping (if need be) with one foot still clipped in so you can start off more solid and easily when needed or just keep going if the light changes before you get there. At the end of the day pulling into San Simeon (two days ago) I can say it all finally clicked (literally lol!). Today I am excited to stop and go as much as I need to with a new confidence in these wonderful speed play pedals! Kevin breathes a huge sigh of relief as well.

My swollen feet squished into the seemingly itty bitty cycling shoes

My swollen feet squished into the seemingly itty bitty cycling shoes

the cleats...

the cleats…

Kevin and I were both a bit giddy as we rode into Santa Maria. For eight years we would head to the mall in Santa Maria for a pretzel and a lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick. This is the city where I gave birth to our oldest son 15 years ago! The memories flooded back and we just had to take a little detour and hit up our old Starbucks down the main strip. We both enjoyed some smoothies/frappucinos and then were on our way once again.

We rode past the hospital where I gave birth and I couldn’t wait to tell our son! Seeing that hospital took me back to the day he was born 15 years ago. I thought I was in labor but wasn’t exactly sure… it was the day after my due date and I thought it might all just be in my head because I was SO READY to have this kid! I talked Kevin into a walk around the block and about 2 minutes into it I realized that this was the real deal. We waddled (in truth, I waddled while Kevin walked quite normally) back to the house, grabbed my hospital bag and car seat and hopped into or little pickup truck to head to the hospital. It was a 30 minute drive and it seemed Kevin was going 15 miles under the speed limit. Halfway there we realized I forgot my purse. I was convinced they would not admit me unless I had identification so I talked Kevin into turning around to get it. We turned around, got back home, grabbed my purse and then on the way back to the hospital Kevin searched out every pothole to drive over just to make the drive interesting and painful (not really, but it sure seemed that way!). I was in full fledged labor with contractions coming two to three minutes apart so we did not have much time. I barely remember getting to the hospital but I do remember having our first baby boy within about an hour of walking through those doors. Memories 🙂

Sorry to all you guys who hate childbirth stories…Let me talk about canyons for a minute. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like canyons. They are warm, pretty and fun to ride down into but did you know you have to ride back out of them? Yup, you do. There were many places to stop along the way in Foxen Canyon for wine tasting but neither Kevin nor I are huge wine drinkers so we rode on happily.

vineyards everywhere!

vineyards everywhere!

The long climb was not only easy but quite fun and “the wall” was most certainly a wall but we made it up.

We made it into Buellton in the late afternoon and happily messaged Rich (who had taken the day off work for us 🙂 ) that we were in. He came, picked us up, took us to our hotel to get cleaned up, and we went out to have a spectacular and very filling dinner at A.J Spurs. Conversation was delightful, food was great, and the company was beyond spectacular.

Kevin, Rich, and me

Kevin, Rich, and me

We returned to the hotel, said thank you and goodnight to Rich, and headed to our room for an early night to sleep. We called the boys, all was well and our oldest son was getting more and more excited to go and play air soft rifle wars on Saturday. I excitedly told him about passing teh hospital where he was born and oddly enough the fifteen year old boy was not ecstatic… weird. He simply said, “Cool.” Really… all I get is a “Cool”… did I need to retell the story of his birth? Before I could launch into it he gave me his typical, “Well, I just wanted to say goodnight and I love you, here’s Gunner.” Ok, on to our youngest son. I told him of our day’s adventures and he seemed almost genuinely interested. He was having a good time but admitted that he missed home, awwwww 🙂

It was a good day in which we both felt pretty darn good and got some extra miles under our belt with a couple detours. It felt wonderful to be back in the area we called home for quite a few years.

Tomorrow it is Buellton to Ventura and we get to battle cars, semis, and trucks on the 101 freeway! Will we make it unscathed? I certainly hope so…


Me and my buffalo friend

Me and my buffalo friend

Hi Kev!

Hi Kev!


The Ride… Day 7… Time Out

Kevin wakes up with a killer headache and an incredibly painful neck. The camping has not been good for his osteoarthritis in his neck and his inner thigh issue is incredibly painful. We aren’t here to wreak havoc on our bodies beyond the point of enjoyment so we decide to take a break from riding on this day.

San Simeon to Oceano would be enjoyed from the support vehicle rather than in the saddle, we had to be ok with that and I will say it was a nice day to enjoy some time sitting next to my husband.

We packed up camp, loaded our bikes on top of a support van and hopped in with Brian (the guy that fixed my bike a few days ago… was it coming out of Monterey?… hard to remember all the places now. Anyways, we liked this guy and were happy to hang out with him and a few other riders he picked up along the day’s travels.)

We hit all the stops with Brian including a VERY YUMMY cookie and coffee shop called Brown Butter Cookie Company. There are rumors of this becoming an official rest stop or checkpoint for next year’s ride… great idea! I got their original cookies and a bag of their almond ones. Oh my goodness yummy. We also went up the block a bit for some coffee at Top Dog Bar & Cafe. This was a must because my dog training business is called TOP (Training Our Pack) Dog Training, so cool and best coffee ever!

Hey, they stole my name :)

Hey, they stole my name 🙂

The checkpoint was at Wally’s Bicycle Works and Kevin enjoyed their homemade tamales and salsa. Along the way Kevin and I discussed what we were going to do about the sleeping arrangements (camping) which were proving a nightmare for his neck. We decided to book hotel rooms for the rest of the ride and we were both pretty darn stoked to sleep in a real bed that night.

We drove past the Avila Springs and I remembered taking the boys every year up to the Pumpkin Patch in Avila Beach to get our sweet corn, rock candy, pumpkins and even a bee sting on my big toe one year (we were video taping the pumpkin selection process and the boys still laugh at my select use of words when I got stung… they say it’s the only time they have ever heard me swear. I doubt that but they are sweet for saying so.) I miss our boys and the days of heading to the Pumpkin Patch and vow to take them this year in Indiana. Fifteen and ten isn’t too old for pumpkin picking is it? At what age does it become absolutely and totally “uncool”… I could care less, we’re going 🙂

We arrived in Oceano well before check in time at the hotel so we headed out to the beach to enjoy some calming ocean time. The hot sand felt awesome on my swollen bare feet and we got some nice pictures that afternoon. I remembered riding horses through those same dunes 15 years ago and suggested we go try to find the stables for a nice horseback ride. For some reason that was the last thing on Kevin’s agenda for that day or any other day in his life. Some day I will get this man on a horse! I was missing my animals immensely and would have biked 100 miles to find a horse and bury my face on her warm neck as I do every night at home. Hopefully Mercedez and Pepsi were cooperating for our farm sitters.



It was time to check in at the hotel and you would have thought the Oxford Suites was Trump Tower the way Kevin and I fell on the bed and swooned over the most basic of ammenities. I washed and dryed every item of clothing we had at the hotel laundry that afernoon and walked over to Denny’s to get french fries. Best french fries ever… had never really craved french fries before that day and then suddenly realized I was craving POTATOES! Oh my, you potatoes, what was I going to do with you?

Yummy fries from Denny's

Yummy fries from Denny’s

Sat in a hot tub forever and loved every second of it. Couldn’t talk Kevin into the hot tub as he’s not a fan of public swimming pools, hot tubs, or even personal baths… he’s a shower kind of guy. It was good to give my feet a break from cycling shoes that day as they had become quite swollen over the past day or two.

Supper was amazing as usual and we slept better that night than we had in months. We were just entering our old stomping grounds (we lived on Vandenberg Air Force Base for eight years) and we were excited.

The Honoree tonight is Andrew, a fun loving athletic teenager battling Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of three. An avid bike rider he will most assuredly be on this ride when he reaches the age of eighteen. Seeing, meeting, and hearing all about him makes me think of my boys and I suddenly miss them almost more than I can bear. Ugh, this ride has made me kinda an emotional basket case. I thank God my husband is next to me as I lower my sunglasses over my eyes, shed a few tears, and get the best side hug squeeze from a husband who misses our boys as well.

Ya think Kevin heals enough to ride the next day? Ya think I can fit my huge feet into those seemingly itty bitty cycling shoes? We’ll see…


That water was COLD!

That water was COLD!

Hi Kev!

Hi Kev!

Chillin' on the beach in Oceano

Chillin’ on the beach in Oceano



Happy lady

Happy lady

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