Z is for Zebra Wearing Sneakers and the Rodeo Queen

She's a wild thing, this one. She likes to jump and climb and climb and jump.
This is the zebra that her older brother got from Grandma for his first birthday. 
It's still a hit with the Little Tykes! She was about 18 months here. 
She was jumping and singing. A real show stopper. 
She's gonna be a big hit in the Rodeo! 

And with this, I breath a big sigh of relief! 
I did it! I made! I completed the A to Z challenge! 
Oh my goodness! I need a nap!

(another Z word… zzzzzzzzzz)

 I also want to thank and welcome all the great bloggers I met there. 
It was so fun seeing how everyone approached this challenge. I've got some ideas for next year! 
Thanks to everyone who dropped in, poked around, and commented. 
I hope to see more of y'all!


X Marks the Spot

A while ago my twelve year old drew a bunch of maps of a mythical land. They where very cool.

Then, the other day, while coming home from track practice, she started telling me about a story she wanted to write. She had it memorized! She wasn't just telling me about it, she was quoting it!

We live out of town and it takes thirty minutes to get home. Lulu talked the whole way! I wasn't just floored, I was impressed!

I told her she needed to start writing it. When we got home, I showed her some of my old creative writing journals. She doesn't have a lot of time with school and sports, but maybe this summer we can have a home based writing project!

X marks the spot. {She spells like I do!} 

Then she showed me the drawings she had done of the caricatures and the map of the land.

She's so creative. It will be so fun to see what she does with it all.


W is for Wedding

Our niece got married last month. It was so wonderful to be able to go attend. 

She is one of the sweetest people I know and I'm so very happy for them both.

But there was one little show stealer who seemed to be everywhere! 

We wish them the very best as the start the next adventure in their lives together!


V is for Victoria ~Or~ The Day I Took the Boy to Victoria's Secret

I'm getting older. Things change when you get older. Add pregnancy to that... No, four pregnancies. And nursing.

Let's just say there was a time after number 4 when nothing fit.

I made do.

I made do for a long time.

But eventually the old maternity bras and nursing bras just weren't cutting it either. I had to do something. I had to go shopping.

Sadly, I didn't have anyone to take my little kids while I did this. It is 80 miles one way to get to any kind of... (uh hem) stores with... underthings.

We were, and still are, for these parts, new to the area. I'm a stay-at-home mama. My darling husband couldn't take the time off, for some reason. I don't remember. Maybe because he has a job! Running a guest ranch? Yeah, that must of been it.

But I had a plan. I wore an undershirt. I tried on new... things over the undershirt.

OK, if I only had girls none of this would have mattered. But my boy, well is extremely aware of, ...women.

I felt this modification was necessary.

All in all, I figured out my size, made my selection and headed out to pay. That's when the trouble started.

Apparently I wasn't getting the right color! Bear wanted me to get the blue one! Excuse me???

Um, Bear, I was getting the color Daddy likes. No, that just wouldn't do. He started grabbing blue under garments out of drawers! But that wasn't even my size! Put that back! Put that down! He was getting louder. We were making a scene!

Oh for heaven sakes! I'll get the blue one!

So how much of a turn on is it to Daddy, knowing his four-year-old picked out Mama's pretty blue unders?


I liked the blue one too,  and the story will never be forgotten. Every time I get dressed and undressed!


U is for Up, or Under...

Which ever?

We went on a hike and had a great view of the ranch Under us.

We were Up hill from the ranch.

And as we claimed down, I was Up higher then them.

Yeah, I'm kind of reaching on this one !

But the pictures where stunning and I wanted to share. 
Plus, the next day we had blizzard, from which we got over a foot of snow. 
You gotta love Spring time in Montana. 

Rurality Blog Hop #8


T is for Toads

I have a soft spot for amphibians. I love catching frogs and toads. I'm sure this dates back to my childhood. No really! If you don't know, read THIS!

And see, I have taught my children well. 

But at least these are alive!


S is for Sunsets (and Sunrises)

When we lived in western Montana we had a great view of all the sunsets. 
And let me tell you, there was a lot of amazing sunsets! 

Then we moved out here to central Montana and our house, and our valley looks east to the sunrises.  

There is a reason Montana calls herself Big Sky Country!

My mother-in-law says we have enough sun pictures to make a calendar.

Today I'm linking up with the I don't like Mondays! Blog hop. 
Come join in the fun.


R is for Rainbows

Everyone knows that a summer storm can bring a rainbow. 
Here in Big Sky Country we get a few storms. Up in the mountains we get even more.

But once we got a rainbow during an electrical storm, at sunset! I had never seen a rainbow in the dark! 

a rainbow in a thunder storm 
Now how can this be you ask? You need light to make a rainbow! Well this was what was behind me when I took the snapshot of the rainbow. 

And just beyond the bow, was a full on downpour coming straight for us!

Weekly Top Shot #78


Q is for Quilt

Grandma's Quilts.

When I was a girl, I had a quilt on my bed. I loved it. It was made from scraps from my mom's dresses that her mother made for her and her sisters. Sometimes my mom would sit on my bed and tell me about the dresses and things she remembered, like where she was living and how old they all were. Her sisters and her. My mom still has that quilt. It's threadbare now.

When I was having babies, my mom decided she wanted to start quilting. She made one for each of my babies; her grand babies. I love the quilts. They are all special. They all have a story.

Like the cat giving birth on the blue and white one in Bean's bed while Bean, then three, slept beside her.

Now Grandma has taken on the task of making a quilt for each of my brother's kids (who are older than mine) as they graduate from high school.

She's very ambitious.

P is for Procrastination

I was going to post a different P word today. I was going to post my March Photo-A-Day shots. But perhaps there is something else I need to get to. Something I'm procrastinating.

I am running around with track meets and practices and music classes and science fair projects and well, I need to go do the dishes. It is the dishes that have been left untouched.


Or is it just life?


O is for Owl

Once we built our dream home in Utah.

It was on a large lot at the end of a cul de sac that backed up to a pasture that belonged to a neighbor not in our development.

We put a lot of sweat equity into the building of the house. After work, Adventure Man would go do the wiring. He would sometimes work late into the night, using only a headlamp to see his way.

Over the course of his work, Adventure Man noticed a car that would come each night and sit at the end of the street. The driver would sit in his car with a spotting scope. My husband felt there was something creepy about the situation and decided to investigate.

He approached the vehicle and said he couldn't help noticing the man's pattern and wondered what he was looking at? The man, enthusiastically shared that there was a Great-horned owl in the tree in the pasture just beyond our home and she was nesting!

Mama Owl and her nest. Her's is the large one to the right.
I'm sure who ever lived in the smaller one moved out as soon as an owl moved in next door! 

Now my husband loves birding. He eagerly shared this man's excitement for the arrival of a new family member in this tree. Then the man confided in Adventure Man his plan. He came every night to see if the chick had hatched because he planned to climb the tree and take the chick so he could raise it. He was a licensed falconer, after all.

We have a dear friend, The Cowboy, who is a falconer. Now, if you are a falconer, there are two ways that you can acquire a bird. One is by catching it. The other is by taking it from the nest when it's young. But if you do so, you need to have the land owner's permission. Plus, you need a special license for an owl.

Mama Owl

We had a friend in the Fish and Game Department and he said that no one had gotten a license for an owl. He checked the individual in question and confirmed that although he was a registered hawker, he did not have the license for an owl. He also didn't have the land owner's permission. The F and G Dept. decided to put a camera in the tree (pointed down) so if anyone did try to take the baby he could be identified.

Once things were in motions, our would be bird-napper did try and rectify himself by asking the land owner, but their response was to please not remove the owlet from the nest. Because of this, he was also not grated his permit.

I know we disrupted this man's plans, but we have never regretted stepping in. And here's why: The chick hatched, just as we were moving in. Every time we were outside the little mother would hoot at us. A soft gentle sound. Not a warning. I told my girls she was saying, "Thank You!"

The baby when he was still fluffy. I still have one of his feathers.

We got to see her care for him. We got to see her fly off at night to hunt. And we got to see her teach him to fly. Adventure Man saw his first flight. Once he was grown he was much larger than his Mama. It is a wonderful memory for our family.

Shortly after that we moved to Montana and sold that house. But we will always remember our dear Mama Owl and her sweet thank you's.

Rurality Blog Hop #8

N is for Nest

This is the redneck of bird's nests! 

They've been here for years. 

Long ago abandoned.


M is for Monday ~ Oh Man, Not Again!

And since its a Monday, and I'm feeling it. After a week and weekend of Darling Adventure Man being on a business trip, and our first track meet with me single Mommy-ing it. (I could never be a military wife!) Yeah, it's Monday.

So I thought I would join Linda Roy over at Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom and her "I hate Monday's Blog Hop!" I need the support group today!

Hello, My name is Kristen
I hate Mondays.

Hop over and join her too. Plus, she's doing a rocking job on the A to Z Challenge. (I'm sorry Linda, I really didn't mean for the bad pun! Hahaha) I've been following her blog for a while and she is such a great writer. It's well worth the stop!

Click HERE to head over,
I'm really code illiterate and couldn't figure it out!  
So go, have a Monday. Deal with it. Monday is only 1/7 of your life after all! 
Maybe I'll just go back to bed!


L is for Ladybug

What is it about a ladybug that brings happy summer childhood memories? 
This is a bug that begs to be caught. 

And my kids are expert bug catchers.


K is for Kristen. That's Me

Yep, I'm Kristen. 

I thought I would give you a little info so you can get to know me better. That is, if you really want to know me better.

• I grew up in Palo Alto, CA

• I lived there before the dot com era

• No, that doesn't mean "I came from money!" My parents were teachers!

• I went to college in Idaho

• I don't particularly care for potatoes

• I have a degree in floral design management

• Yes, there really is such a degree

• I ran my own business doing wedding flowers before I moved to Montana

• We are much too remote to do it here

• I'm a self proclaimed health nut

• With a killer sweet tooth

• I have Multiple Sclerosis

• I love paleontology

• I practice Applied Kinesiology

• I love Winnie the Pooh

• I have a soft spot for shoes

• And handbags

• And jackets

• My favorite color is orange (among many). It has been ever since high school. But it sure is convenient because orange is the Ribbon color to support MS!

Orange You Glad It's Friday


J is for Jam ~ Freezer Jam

Last summer, a gal in our church was selling peaches by the box and when I found myself with a case of the sweet and ready to eat fruit, I knew I needed to get to work. Having never made jam before, I had to research. "Freezer Jam" research on line. This is what I needed, this is what I found. 

Freezer Jam

Freezer jam is easy to make. And because freezer jam isn't cooked, it tastes remarkably like fresh fruit.
The Ingredients

There are just a few ingredients: 
Use perfectly ripe fruit. Since you won't be cooking it, the flavor of the jam is going to be much like the flavor of the fruit. If it's over- or underripe, you'll be able to taste it. Jam made with underripe fruit, besides being sour, might jell too much, while jam made with overripe fruit--besides having an off-flavor--might not jell enough.

Most recipes call for additional pectin to thicken the jam, giving it that familiar jammy consistency. Commercially produced pectin is derived from fruit--usually apples or citrus. Store-bought pectin comes in two forms: powder and liquid. Most recipes call for powdered pectin, but these are not interchangeable--use whichever form your recipe calls for. 
The basic ratios for each packet of powdered pectin are:
3 cups mashed fruit
5 cups sugar, and 
1 cup water in which to dissolve and boil the pectin.
This formula can vary a little depending on the brand of pectin, so follow the instructions on the package.
Sugar inhibits the growth of bacteria, keeping your jam fresh, fruity, and safe to eat. Jam recipes are formulated to call for a certain ratio of pectin to sugar, and they will not jell properly if you don't use the correct amount of sugar. If you'd like to make less-sweet jam, you'll need to buy a special kind of pectin that's formulated to work with less sugar.
Before you begin making the jam, have all your jam jars ready and waiting. Use either sturdy plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, or short, wide-mouthed glass jars made especially for the freezer. 

It's best to choose containers that are no bigger than pint-size; the jam will not set up as well in larger containers. Wash them as you would any other dishes; there's no need to boil them like with traditional jam-making.

Making Jam
The process itself is simple:
               Wash and stem the fruit (and peel it, if applicable).
               Place it in a wide-bottomed pan and crush with a potato masher to a smooth consistency, leaving some chunks of fruit if you like. 
               Stir in the sugar and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
               In the meantime, mix together the pectin and water in a small saucepan until the powder is dissolved; bring it to a boil over high heat, and let it boil for a full minute. 
               Pour it into the fruit and stir for a couple of minutes. 
               Pour the jam into your containers, leaving a half-inch of "headspace" at the top. 
               Cover the containers and let them sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
               The jam should thicken significantly overnight, but the jelling process can take up to two weeks to complete. If it's too thick, stirring it will soften it up. If it's still too runny after two weeks, pour it into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. It will get thicker as it cools, and you can re-bottle as before.

Storing Your Jam

As the name implies, freezer jam is meant to be stored in the freezer. In fact, it will keep beautifully in the freezer for up to a year. You can also keep freezer jam in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Once you open a container of jam, you should use it within three weeks as well. Just remember never to keep freezer jam at room temperature, or it will spoil.

I hadn't bought enough pectin for the vast amount of peaches I had. Our jam was therefor runny. But we still eat it at a record rate. So now I can't wait for the peaches to be sold out of our friends pickup again this summer! 


I is for Independent

This child is the most independent kid I ever knew. 
Except maybe for her sister. 
And for me, when I was a kid. 
I guess we breed independent women in our family. 
Not at all a bad thing. I'm not apologizing. I'm just saying. 

So she likes to push the kitchen chairs around in order to get what she wants. In this case, she didn't eat her lunch. I was in the process of putting the leftovers way, but had gotten sidetracked. 
The next thing I know, she has helped herself. 

Everyone knows it's so much better when you get it yourself. 

But it's also nice to share. 

Mommy didn't want it. I'll make it for them because the like it, but I'm not eating that!

Now she thinks she needs another spoon. 
Apparently this is how she got the big spoon in the first place. 

I don't think so! I don't think so. 

Rurality Blog Hop #8