The past week has been filled with more friends and family than I can count. New friends, old family. And everything inbetween. It's been incredibly good for my soul. I've tried not to focus on why we were together, but instead just cherish every hug and kindness and laugh that we shared. And to look forward to more of those things under happy circumstances.

If you're on Facebook, send a friend request to michellescraps@yahoo.com. I've shared pictures from the memorial service there. There are just too many to post here. It was beautiful and touching and sad and funny. And really good for me. My brother was so loved by so many friends who I didn't know. I feel much more at peace knowing that.

A family update...Maggie gets her cast off this Thursday, as long as the x-rays show that it's healed properly. I am praying for a full recovery there...she's so ready to walk on two feet again!

Our birds are about to become parents again! In about a week, eggs will begin to hatch. They have seven this time (last time it was 5, and 2 of them survived) and we're so excited to have baby birds again!

Sage is wrapping up volleyball season this week with a tourney Thursday and Friday. She's really come a long way since the beginning of the season and we're very proud of her!

Sam is "addicted" to wrestling practice (his words!). He goes two nights a week to the girls' school and is learning freestyle wrestling. His tourneys start next month. I can't wait! I'm going to be the loudest mat mom there!

I've starting running! OK, pick yourself up off the floor. Yes, I said running. I can't believe it myself. I run on the track while Sam's in practice. I can do almost a mile before I have to walk a lap to catch my breath. It's been a fantastic stress reliever.

I don't have any pics to share since I'm posting from hubby's laptop. Next time! Have a great week.


Richard Brett Ryan

September 15, 1972-February 13, 2009

On Friday, my little brother took his life.
He leaves behind his son Tavis and daughter Kieran.

Words cannot describe my sorrow.

Rest peacefully, little brother.

Memorial service will be at Rabbit Creek Community Church
Rabbit Creek Road, Anchorage
Thursday, February 19th, 5pm



The day after I posted my last blog entry, all heck broke loose here. The short of it is, Maggie was thrown from the horse at her riding lesson and broke her right ankle. She had surgery the following Saturday and they inserted two screws to hold the ankle together. She'll be in a cast for about 6 weeks, then they'll remove the screws.

Can I just say, I've had enough emergencies for a lifetime now? Back-to-back injuries is just about more than I can stomach. My poor babies!!

She's doing OK with it, and is off the strong pain meds and just takes advil when she needs it. She's going to try half days at school starting Monday.

I have pictures to share, but I'm posting from Paul's computer, so I'll have to post them next time.

Nothing crafty or fun to share...sorry. I've been pretty much consumed with taking care of Magster. Needless to say, I haven't stepped foot in the craft room to start gutting it. Maybe next week when kiddos are all in school.

Take care!


In the past couple weeks....

Sam's mastered the guitar....

I've become a rock and roll diva....

Sage had her first volleyball game (that's her in the middle)...

Sam's policed all hugs between Sage and Caleb....(good job, Sam!)....

Maggie turned 12....

And I *think* I'm closer to getting a job! Fingers crossed. I got two good leads in one day (go figure!) and I have an interview today.

Needless to say, after our freakish weather and school closure for most of last week, I didn't even step foot in the craft room to start clearing it out. Thank goodness there's school today!

OK, gotta go get dressed for my interview. Have a great day!



Hey...I've found Facebook! Stop by and say hi. Because I don't spend enough time on the computer already. ;)

It's been a rough week here. The record cold snap really took its toll on Kiska. She's old for a llama at 21, and just didn't have the strength and body fat to stay insulated against the -35° temps for weeks on end...so I made a very tough decision and let her previous owner take her back to her farm, where she could be inside a heated building. I won't go into all the mixed emotions I have. Just know it's like giving up a part of myself, seeing her go.

Tyea and Yentna have dealt just fine with the insane cold, thank goodness, and it looks like it's finally warming up a little.

Yesterday I took the kids to see Marely and Me. Oh. My. Goodness. It's a wonderful movie, but take some tissues. Ginger was never naughty like Marely was, but at the end, as Marley aged, I saw Ginger all over again. She started sleeping downstairs when she couldn't make it up the staircase any more. She slowed way down on our walks. The fur on her face turned snow white. Needless to say, I cried and cried.

This week is going to be all about clearing out the craft room. It's become a dumping ground for all the stuff that's accumulated from the past year. It's time to purge! I need to at least be able to find the floor so we can start tearing out the carpet and get the hickory flooring installed. There will be some serious giveaways involved....


Happy Back to School Day!!


The holidays were amazing, fun, exhausting. We hung out with friends, met some new friends, played entirely too much Rock Band and of course, ate more than my share of Christmas goodies. It was gooooooood.

I feel like I can jump into the new year with a smile on my face. Love that!

Last year on 1/6/08 I blogged this:

I've made my annual list of goals (I don't like to call them "resolutions") to include the usual: work out more, create a financial budget, make weekly meal plans; and a few new ones: enroll the kids in a summer camp, find some new llama trails to hike, make a summer reading plan for Sam.

I can't remember if I've blogged about Sam, but last month he was tested for learning disabilities, and we found out he qualifies for help in both reading and writing. I've been concerned about his reading skills for the last two years, but chalked it up to the myth that boys are "slower learners" than girls at his age. And his writing skills were, in my opinion, ever further behind than his reading. He all but refused to even pick up a pencil at school. Unfortunately, I thought it was a behavior problem, and not a learning problem.

The testing gave me a ton of valuable information and insight into his strengths and weaknesses in reading, writing and math. And I learned just what qualifies as a "learning disability". The short version is, through testing, they look for a certain level of discrepancy between cognitive ability and actual performance. In other words, they measure his IQ, then measure his actual current level of abilities in those three areas, and if there's a large enough "gap", then it's labeled as a disability.

I learned he has "average intelligence". His IQ falls pretty much in the middle of the "normal" range. This was GOOD news. His performance in reading and writing, though, fall in the "low average" to "very low" range. He reads at an early first grade level (he's halfway through second grade now) and writes at a Kindergarten level, with a few writing skills falling in the pre-K level. Most of his math skills are in the "average" level.

They test for dozens of specific areas of ability, and Sam's scores were everywhere from pre-K to mid-eighth grade level. His strengths are: he has an amazing memory for detail, and when he hears a story read, his comprehension and re-telling abilities are 7th to 8th grade level. When he reads a story, though, comprehension falls to the Kindergarten level. Knowing this, we'll focus on giving him oral instruction rather than written, letting him take his spelling tests orally, things like that. I'm really excited about using these new techniques to help him!

So he has started going to the resource room twice a day, 4 days a week for reading and writing help. One of my main goals for this year is to focus on educating myself on dyslexia, and multi-sensory education methods so I can do everything in my power to help him improve his reading and writing skills.

What I learned from this? Follow my instincts and don't listen to myths or people who tell me what's "normal" when my gut tells me it's wrong. Then don't waste time worrying about time lost, just focus on moving forward and making progress. :)

So...that's going to be my theme for 2008: PROGRESS. Count the progress made. And be HAPPY for it!

So how'd I do? Well, I certainly didn't make weekly meal plans. Ha! Not even close.

Budgeting? I did do a little better with planning ahead, saving up and making do. Not a budget, per se, but progress in that direction.

Work out more? Yep. The summer was full of bike trips, kayaking, walking dogs, yardwork. Fall slowed down a little, but I still walk the dogs several times a week, weather permitting, and I don't miss a day hauling hay out to the llamas, carrying buckets of water and keeping the hutch swept and shoveled. Progress.

A summer reading plan for Sam? Nope. In fact, I don't think we cracked a book all summer. And it certainly showed when he was tested at the beginning of the school year. His reading regressed quite a bit, but he was able to catch right back up in a matter of a couple weeks.

So, all in all, I feel like progress was made. And I am grateful for it. So I met my goals!

I have to give some thought to this year's word and goals. I need to take today to think, while the house is quiet and the kids are in school.


Christmas Eve

I think today might be my favorite day of the holidays. The anticipation, the friends and family over, the cooking and flurry of wrapping last-minute gifts. I love it all! I'm sitting here in the living room and it's 5:45 am. The house is completely silent except for the hum of the furnace. Sam got up earlier, but climbed back in his bed and fell asleep thinking about Santa. I knew he was lying there thinking about tomorrow morning. I went in to check on him and he said "I can't wait for Santa to come." Next thing I knew, he was sound asleep.

So I'm enjoying the calm before the storm. We're having friends over for a poker game today, and lots of food, I'm sure. Then later we'll light some fireworks, and hopefully the kids will play outside and wear themselves out so they'll sleep tonight. Paul and I will stay up late wrapping gifts, as usual, then we'll all get up at the crack of dawn (or before) Christmas morning, because I just can't sleep any longer.

I just love the energy in the air today. I wish I could bottle it!

A few pictures to share....

Maggie got her hair cut this week...she has the most gorgeous color. I think she looks a lot like her daddy in this picture.

I'm not even sure who took this picture of Sage. I never know what I'm going to find on my camera.

Sam treated us to cinnamon Christmas Tree biscuits yesterday, hot from the oven. I hope he never outgrows his love of cooking. It'll make some lucky woman very happy one day.

Check him out. Real men wear aprons!

Time for another cup of coffee. My God bless you this Christmas and all through the year!