Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon!

Hello sweet blog and dear blogging friends,  it’s me…Valerie!  I thought tonight’s post title was most appropriate because it’s feels like it’s been a “blue moon” since I last posted, and tonight’s full moon is an official “blue moon” (since it is the 2nd full moon in the same month).


Full Moon on New Year’s Eve 2009

In addition, I’d like to thank all of my sweet friends and followers who have left me comments, phoned, or emailed me to check up on my whereabouts!  You are all so kind!  Everything is fine “From Our Front Porch Looking In”, but my ferris wheel has been spinning like crazy and by mid-December I was “all Nutcrackered out!” (future post to come)

My New Year’s Resolution for 2010 is to simply “simplify”.  No grandiose resolutions list that causes me guilt six-months down the road; just the resolve to eat leaner/greener, walk daily (rather than try to accomplish a 5k or 10k), and learn to make do with less.  This year our family theme is LESS IS MORE!

As December 31st ushers in a new year, I look forward to reconnecting with old blogging buddies and sharing with you all the wonderful memory making activities that occurred at the end of 2009.  I plan to spend New Year’s Day dropping by and visiting many of you…I’ve missed you all so much! 

Wishing you all a peace-filled year in 2010,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Ferris Wheel Ride of Life

I see nothing in space as promising as the view from a Ferris wheel.”  E.B. White, American Writer (1899-1985)

Life can be like a Ferris wheel ride.











The ride starts our slow enough, with passengers hopping on and off and great anticipation building for “the real” ride.








The wheel begins to turn faster and faster all while ferrying passengers to dizzying heights and stomach-dropping lows.  Similar to the ups and downs sprinkled throughout life.


Sometimes, you are even “stuck” up at the top for a bit.  Do you take in the view or are you trembling with fear at the challenges that lay before you?

And then, as quickly as it begins, it ends.  Passengers make their slow descent toward the bottom and are ushered off towards the exit.  Sometimes we are not ready to go, but our turn is over…God is calling us home.

(These pictures are of Mary’s first Ferris wheel ride with daddy at the Old Settler’s Day carnival in September.  Because she is so little, she couldn’t see over the sides of the car which disappointed her greatly!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honoring those who Served

IMG_1470 This newly constructed memorial is dedicated to those who served our country in the armed forces.  The floor of this memorial is lined with brick pavers honoring the men and women from my small town who answered the call to serve and protect our freedoms.  I took this photo, last night, on the eve of Veterans Day.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Today, in America, we say “thank you” to our veterans for having served in our armed forces and we pray for the repose of the souls of those have served and have passed away. 

I would especially like to say thank you to my dear, dear friend, Gillian, who served in the United States Air Force as an MP in the early to mid-1990s.  (Gillian and I were college roommates and her parents opened their home to me when I first relocated to Kansas City.  We have been close friends since the day we met  in 1989. )  Gillian and both of her siblings all chose to enter the armed forces…three different branches.  Her brother and sister are still actively serving in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard.  Thank you Mr. & Mrs. H. for raising such honorable and brave children who served, or are serving, our Country with pride.

If you feel so inclined, hop on over to ,The Middle Lands, Gillian’s blog and leave her a message of thanks.  It is a beautiful blog dedicated to her love of nature, the arts, and her family that is indicative of the beautiful person she is.

IMG_1479 The brick pavers and marble dedication in the center of the memorial to those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!  ~Maya Angelou        Thank you, Gillian!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Seeing Christ the Person in Others

I see in my neighbor the Person of Jesus Christ.
-Saint Gerard Majella

Yesterday, I heard Faith Hill’s “Where are you Christmas?” and I was moved to tears as I thought about the brutality, vengeance, and loss of life that so many in our country have experienced of late.  My heart was heavy with sadness for the victims and their families of these tragic and senseless killings, as well as for my own two little ones and the world that they are being raised in.

And then I got to thinking about the beautiful experience I had last week and the goodness  that can be found in others if we choose to see it, report on it, exemplify it.

G2179 Image:  Young Mother Sewing by Mary Cassatt

You see, my sewing machine was broken and after consulting with my mother, I decided to take her advice and get an estimate for its repair.

Imagine my disappointment when the manager of the service department at a large sewing machine repair/sales chain in the metro said that it would be between $120.00 and $150.00 to repair the part.  He went on to explain that while the part itself was not costly, the repair was labor intensive and was going to run up the bill.  My heart sank as I knew that I just did not have that kind of money to repair my machine; especially so close to little man’s birthday and Christmas.  He was kind enough to show me a brand new machine for $349.00 that could do “so much more” than my basic Singer school model.  Hmmmm…

My mother encouraged me to get a 2nd estimate, this time from a Singer sewing machine store.  Not surprisingly, there are no longer “singer” only stores in the metro, but there are several “certified” singer repair shops inside of various sewing shops.  So, I took my “school model” basic machine in for a 2nd opinion.

As I explained to the kind gentleman behind the counter, what exactly the problem was and how I understood the labor-intensiveness of the repair, he stood there shaking his head “no” at me.  I was befuddled.

He quickly explained that not only was the part not expensive to replace, but that the repair was quick and easy and for his shop’s standard flat rate of a minimum $40 repair fee and a  15 minute wait he could have the machine fixed SAME DAY!

It was then, that I realized I was experiencing Christ in action.  This kind gentleman, rough and rugged, hands worn from 30+ years of sewing machine repair, seeing a frazzled and run-ragged stay-at-home mom with two tiny tots in tow, knowing the value of this machine to me and my children and the significance behind repairing objects rather than purchasing new in our throw-away society, made my day.  Made my week! 

He was, as Saint Gerard Majella would say, “the Person of Jesus Christ, in my neighbor.”

And the twist to this story?  This gentle man suggested that I take my little ones to the thrift store in the strip mall while we wait as they have “great toys.”  The thrift store was  TurnStyles operated by one of my most favorite charities and not for profits…Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.  As we perused the shelves of children’s toys, my sweet daughter, spied an unopened, brand-new children’s SEWING MACHINE!  With the money I saved on repairs and/or not purchasing a brand new machine, I gladly handed over FIVE DOLLARS to this wonderful charity to purchase her this machine.  And yes, it really does work!


IMG_1356Mary’s new sewing machine. 

May you have a blessed day and see Christ the Person in those you meet!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our Little Halloweenies

While the stores might be screaming “XMAS” (certainly not CHRISTmas) and some radio stations are even playing holiday music 24/7,  I am fairly certain that my calendar has just recently turned to November!

So, while others might be preparing their homes for Santa and such, in our home we are still enjoying the bounty of fall including apples, leaves, candy (from our recent trick-or-treating) and making preparations for our little man to turn 3-years old.  (I remember the anticipation I felt during 2006  for the season of Fall to arrive to welcome our newest member to our family.  Benjamin is a Fall baby…not a Christmas baby!)

We had beautiful weather here in eastern Kansas on Halloween.  And, since Halloween was on Saturday this year, Father invited the little ones of the Parish to wear their costumes to church (appropriate-only costumes, of course!) for 5:00 PM Mass.  My little ones were beyond excited to get dressed for Halloween at four o’clock in the afternoon!  After Mass, we returned home for a quick dinner and then trick-or-treating by the light of the almost-full-moon!  Fun and spooky!!!

Hope you had a fabulous weekend as well!  Here are a few pics of our little ones from the day’s festivities.  Enjoy!



Mary enjoying snacks at her Pre-K Halloween Party.




Circle Time.  Listening to “The Haunted Ghoul Bus”.






Halloween Bingo




IMG_1225 Pre-K Halloween Program for parents.  Performing “5 Little Pumpkins”.






The morning of Halloween our subdivision held its annual Halloween Parade.  My little ones love each other so!  I can’t tell you how many pictures I have of Mary kissing Benjamin.  (I need to scrapbook that…The Many Kisses From Mary!)



IMG_1263 On our way to the parade.  While we don’t live in huge subdivision (meaning lots of houses) we live in a subdivision with huge lots…i.e. lots of walking for the little ones!



Halloween Night…our two SUPERkids!!! 

Thanks so much for dropping by today.  Many blessings to you,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The “How To” Guide to “Creating Your Own Swimming Pool”

The following is an excerpt from the “How To Do Anything” guide written by Benjamin (3)  and co-authored by big sister, Mary, (5).

STEP 1…ask your mom 3 times in an hour if you can play in the sprinkler outside because it is sunny out.  Seriously.  Be persistent…mommies will sometimes give in if you bug them enough.

BUT… if she continues to tell you NO, because if it wasn’t warm enough to go in the sprinkler this past Kansas SUMMER,  then it certainly isn’t warm enough in October just look for an opportune time to ingeniously solve the problem yourself.  In my case, I took full advantage of mommy having a migraine and not closely supervising me…

Step 2…find a Rubbermaid tub used for storing my clothes that are too small from summer, dump out contents, and drag downstairs into the formal dining room.

Step 3…(this is where you might need help from an older sibling) drag a kitchen chair to the cupboard and get yourself a large plastic cup.  Fill cup with water from the refrigerator door.

Step 4…begin filling up Rubbermaid tub with H2O from refrigerator.

Step 5…remove all clothing, including diaper.  If, in fact, you are a neatnik like me, be sure to get your swim diaper and swimming trunks from your bedroom.  This can be accomplished back at Step 2!

Finally, Step 6…carefully climb into Rubbermaid tub and relax!  Voila…your own hot tub…or in my case, cold tub.IMG_1127





By the way, I have high hopes that this kiddo is going to do great things in life because of his tenacity and ingenuity.  He won’t take no for an answer and I see him curing cancer or orchestrating world peace…just you wait and see!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wizard of What…?

Today was one of those crazy days where nothing seems to go right and everything seems to go wrong!

Our day started with a trip to Halloween Express for costume shopping around 10:30 AM only to discover that they didn’t open until 11:00 AM.  Okay.  No problem.  Regroup.

We drove across the street to Target where I needed to get the kids some last minute OUTFITS for our family portrait TOMORROW!!! (Yes, I know… PROCRASTINATOR EXTRAORDINAIRE)   While there, I perused the costume selection, but really thought I would find better selection at Halloween Express.  (I had very particular costumes in mind for the little ones, and couldn’t find what I wanted at Target.)

After killing a half-hour in Target, we returned to our car in the pouring cold rain only to discover that Benjamin left a toy FROM HOME (that he apparently snuck in like contraband) in the children’s book zone.  Now, had this been your run of the mill matchbox, I probably would’ve said forget it, but it was his little die-cast F15 fighter jet that we bought at the Naval Air Base Museum in Pensacola, FL and that he absolutely adores.   So back in we go.  I actually put both kids in a shopping cart so that I could hustle  across the store quicker (because, of course, I parked on the opposite side of electronics/books).

So, we find fighter jet and return to said car, go to Halloween Express (that has now been open for 15 minutes) and begin perusing the aisles…the sparsely stocked aisles, only to discover this (in the children’s zone)!!!


Ummm, how do I explain this to my 5-year old who begged to be Dorothy again this year?!!!

DSC05897 (Halloween 2008) Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion.   Much cuter…don’t you think?

In addition to all sorts of weird and inappropriate children’s costumes, the prices were outrageous!!!  They were asking $59.99 for a Little Mermaid costume.  Seriously?  For a 5-year old?  To wear twice.  Maybe.

Back to Target we go.   We ended up getting a couple of adorable costumes for half the price of Halloween Express.  Won’t give it away, but I’ve got a couple of  SUPER kids!  *wink* *wink*

Next stop…the movie theater.  (I forgot to mention that since Mary is on Fall Break, I decided to treat the kids to a movie today and had purchased tickets in advance.)  Put the car in park.  Get everyone hooded up for the mad dash in the rain.  Discover my WALLET (with tickets) is missing. 

Yup…you guessed it…it’s at TARGET!!!  Back to Target I go where I enter their store (on surveillance tape I’m certain) dragging two drowned rats (i.e. my kids) for the FOURTH time today!!!  Fortunately, the kind and detail-oriented cashier immediately saw my billfold and turned into security (on the opposite side of the store from where we parked…aaaargh!) before anyone could steal accidentally pocket it.

We did in fact make it to the movie on time where we were disappointed by Where the Wild Things Are.  I failed to read any critic or parent-reviews and was a bit concerned by the amount of anger my little ones saw displayed by Max, the main character.  Perhaps, it is just the teacher/communication arts critic in me coming out, but I was disappointed in the liberties taken from such a sweet, simple story line.  :(

wherethewildthingsare Aren’t the books always better than the movies?!!!

So, that was MY terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!  (And in case it sounds familiar, I’m quoting the title of another famous children’s picture book (author Judith Viorst), Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!!!


Hoping you all had a much better better day than me!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Pink Butterfly

This week at I *heart* faces the photo challenge theme is “Pink Week” in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.


Show your support in the battle against breast cancer by visiting here to see other pink-a-licious posts!

Butterfly Pic

I love this pic of our little butterfly!  She was 3-years old at the time and was so delighted with how her face paint turned out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When it Rains it Pours! (UPDATE)

UPDATE:  It was pneumonia.  Apparently it was all over his lungs (not isolated to one particular area) including behind his heart.  He was sent home last night with an antibiotic and inhaler.

The night was difficult and Alister continued to battle high fever.  After watching him struggle to breath all morning long, my sister and brother-in-law took him back to the ER where he was admitted.

The plan is to keep him overnight and release him on Monday.  He is refusing all food or drink so he definitely needs to be rehydrated as well as receive oxygen to make it easier to breath.

As one sweet follower mentioned, we are concerned about  Eli’s health as well.  At this point, he is healthy.  It has been 6-weeks since his heart surgery and the cardiologist has assured my sister that his immune system is actually stronger, not weaker, because of the corrective surgery.  Thank you all for your continued prayers!!!


See this cutie…


this is my nephew, Alister, my sister’s son.  Alister is 4-years old and ALL BOY!

My sister (the nurse) just called to tell me that this little guy is on his way to the ER with possible complications of the H1N1 virus.  Please say prayers that this virus has not led to pneumonia or worse. 

And yes…he is big brother to Eli…


who underwent open heart surgery over Labor Day weekend to correct a congenital heart defect.

When it rains it pours!  Any and all prayers would be appreciated!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lighting a Candle in Remembrance



Today, October 15th, is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Tonight, at 7:00 PM, I lit a candle in remembrance of the five little souls my husband and I have lost and have watching down on us from Heaven.  Then, I hugged the two beautiful miracles that God has given and charged me with the responsibility of loving, disciplining, parenting. 

Thank you, God, for honoring me with the title of Mother.  I know, You know, how much I truly do appreciate it.



Our first picture as a family of three!

Baby Benjamin Paul Kueter Day 3 to 10 030

Our first picture as a family of four, Thanksgiving Day, 2006.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It’s the Great Pumpkin Give-Away, Charlie Brown!

Last week, when I decided to do a little blog give-away to celebrate my one-year anniversary of blogging, I thought that I would easily add a random number generator widget and be technologically savvy with my give-away.  Not so much!

Meet my random number generator widget:


The Great Pumpkin did have a little help from me and my side-kick, Mary Catherine…


To make this as fair as possible, I generated my list of entry names in Word Excel, printed, cut apart, folded and dropped into the Great Pumpkin.  (There were 12 of you by the way…very good odds!)



See how technical I got…?

Without further ado, the winner is…



Isn’t she just the cutest random number generator?!!!


Nancy from Acorn Cottage!

Congratulations, Nancy!!!  And if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Nancy’s blog, please drop by to offer her congratulations and meet this creative soul.  You will love her zest for life, sweet personality, and spicy creativity!  And Nancy, I think that this is cause for celebration, in person, like all these southern and Minnesota bloggers do! 

Thanks to each and everyone of you for your kind comments and entries.  I wish that I had 11 more copies to give away!!!