Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take care of the pennies...

With upgrading to a new computer
we had 100's of Word documents and 10's of thousands of photos to go through and move over and organize on our new computer. While going through this process (still haven't got the photos organized yet),
I came across a handout I had made for a Budget meeting Tracy and I were asked to speak at last year on creative ways we save money!
(that meeting is what started this challenge)

I wanted to save this for my journal, but also thought there is a lot of great information here and it may help some of you in thinking of ways you to can save money,
because I am a firm believer in the philosophy

"If you take care of the pennies,
the dollars will take care of themselves".

Here are some “Little things”
we do that make a big difference
in our life and finances:
(note that these are just suggestions and every family and situation is different)

--”Brown bag” our lunches. There almost isn’t a day that we don’t take a meal to school/work from home. It is a very rare occasion to eat out or for the kids to get school lunch. Usually our lunches are yummy leftovers from earlier that week.

--We eat homemade as much as possible! Main dishes, treats, cookies, granola bars, muffins, bread, pancakes, breakfasts, all of our meals are 95% of the time made with love in our home.

--I also try and make extra bread and muffins and then freeze them so there is always something to pull out of the freezer for those hectic mornings or evenings, when I didn’t have time to think ahead and prepare anything.

--MUFFINS make a great lunch (if there is nothing else to send). Throw in a hard-boiled egg, string cheese, some kind of fruit and some veggies sticks and this makes a great lunch. Having muffins in the freezer, means I am never in a “pickle” to not have something to send my family to eat. $2.00 school lunches and $5.00 eating out for parents at lunch really adds up to A LOT of money, whereas, taking food from home is just a fraction of this price.

--Frugal breakfasts (NO cold cereal, granola bars, bagels, donuts, etc…) instead, we have steel cut oats (or other hot cereal) for our Monday-Friday breakfasts and then for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday we make pancakes (from scratch-No Krusteaz), French Toast from homemade bread and a variety of egg dishes. This saves immensely on groceries and also milk.

--When eating out we usually SHARE entrees.

--We do NOT waste money on liquid calories and try to avoid buying pop and bottled juices, especially at a restaurant. Water is ALWAYS our drink of choice.

--WATER! We all have our own water bottles and take them with us everywhere we go. Anytime we head into town our water bottles are filled and we don’t ever purchase water. Also, when we go on trips or for summer drives we fill up our 2 gallon water jug and have it available to refill our water bottles.

--No Convenience Store munchies! We try as much as possible to be thinking ahead when we go on a trip or summer drive and always bring our own munchies and snacks (popped up popcorn, chips that we bought on sale, homemade treats, etc…) This can save A LOT of money as we were not always good about doing this and have wasted a lot of money over the years on over-priced treats!

--Our meals we eat only have a fraction of meat in them and they are FULL of lots of veggies, which saves money as meat is expensive. It’s amazing how you only need a little bit of meat to add flavor.

--One or two meals each week are made from beans and legumes which not only is more healthy, but VERY economical as beans and legumes are pennies the cost of meat.

--Homemade soups are a staple in our home. I don’t think there is a better way to nourish your family, then with a pot of homemade soup (served with some kind of homemade bread or rolls).

--This is a silly thing, but I cut all of my bounce sheets in half and only use ½ a sheet each time I do laundry and it really does work. It is like “buy one get one free” when you do this.

--MECHANIC… Not only does Tracy do all of the oil/fluid changes on all of our vehicles, Tracy has bought every manual for each of our cars and has done all of the basic repair work on our cars. It is easier than you might think to do basic repairs that happen most frequently such as broken water pumps, bad alternators, fuel pumps, brake pads, CV joints, recharging A/C, oil changes and so forth.

--This also goes for bicycle repairs and misc. home repairs. There isn't anything we have paid to have done. Tracy is "Mr. Fix-it" from cars, to bicycles, to dishwashers, plumbing, hard wood flooring, wiring our house, etc....

--No CABLE TV or Satellite Dish! (we estimate over $7000 in savings from this alone in our 20 years of marriage) We have always been content with FREE TV and an occasional home movie night. We’d rather be out getting fresh air and exercise anyway.

--I buy cases of chewing gum from Sam’s Club. There are 10 packs for $6.88 and so it means our gum costs us .68 for each pack instead of $1.00.

--I buy large bottles of spices, cornstarch, etc… from Sam’s Club. I then refill my spice bottles with spices that I buy in the BULK section at Winco. This is a great money saver.

--I consider butter and cheese staple items and so I buy LOTS of butter and cheese and freeze it and that way there is never an excuse not to make homemade treats and if you have some yummy cheese to add to your meals this is “comfort food”.

--I purchase Vitamin D milk and then when the milk is half gone, I mix up 2 quarts of powdered milk into the milk jug and you really cannot tell the difference and it means we are avoiding all of the little trips at the store to buy just milk (that usually end up having you spend more money) and you are rotating your food storage as well. (here for post I did about this)

--Most of the time when I cook up a roast, we never have a “free for all” with a meal like mashed potatoes and gravy. I usually make up some kind of fajitas and then freeze the meat and drippings for future beef stews and soups or roast beef sandwiches for lunch.

--I cook up several hams and turkeys each year and then FREEZE the cut up ham or turkey to have to pull out for future soups. I also freeze the turkey carcass and then pull it out later and boil it up all day and make our homemade broth that we freeze to pull out for future meals as well.

--We use the “Earth Gym” rather than spending money on gadgets that end up being a place to dry clothes, etc… We try to get out and go on walks each day and also enjoy shoveling our sidewalks in the winter and mowing the lawn with a push mower in the summer to get exercise.
We also HIKE as much as we can and this is so wonderful for kids to get out and see things with their families and to get exercise and to gain a love for the outdoors as well.

--No magazine subscriptions. We go on a weekly date each week and enjoy reading magazines at Barnes and Noble.

--How do you make a car last a long time? You simply resist the temptation to purchase a new one”!!

Pay cash for cars! It isn’t hard to find a safe and reliable vehicle for around $4,000 to $6,000 and by getting a car for this price, you can pay cash for it with money you are saving away each month.
This alone will save you thousands of dollars!

--We do biking and hiking versus doing motor sports. It keeps us active and we don’t have to spend money on maintenance, gas, etc… PLUS, it means we can all pile in the car with a lunch in a day pack and our hiking shoes on and head to the mountains anytime we like without the hassle of dealing with the work that comes from having these kinds of toys.

--We usually purchase 70,000 mile Les Schwab Tires. This saves not only money, (since these tires are not double the price of lower mileage tires), but it means you won’t have to buy tires for your car for quite a few years. This means a lot when you live out in the country and put so many miles on your car.

-- Avoid being sick…it is costly!
Taking care of your health is a key thing and living frugally with lots of healthy foods really does wonders to your health and staying healthy. By cooking your own food, you are avoiding SO much added sugar and salt that comes from eating processed foods (which regulates your blood sugar and blood pressure) and by eating many grains and fruits and vegetables you keep your colon healthy and working as well…
these three things are KEY to keeping healthy.
(keep your blood sugar and blood pressure down
and your colon emptied)

Other than a few “out of the blue” things no-one in our home has gone to the doctor for being “Sick” since Ethan was an infant and had RSV and I haven’t used a sick day at work since Ethan was born.
I attribute much of this to eating healthy and staying active.

--I buy a hair highlighting kit (for around $12) and divide it into thirds and then I can do 3 different hair high-lighting sessions instead of making up the whole box and wasting it. Then every 6-8 weeks, we all put on highlighting caps, pull our hair through and have a hair highlighting party!

--I cut our hair and this saves at least $30.00 each month

--The job of a frugal family means you are always planning for tomorrow…dishing up leftovers for lunch tomorrow before you eat dinner, planning tomorrow’s meals and snacks the night before.

--Remember, it’s okay to say NO to your kids when it comes to activities. We let our kids choose one extra-curricular activity each year. The idea that we need to have our kids in every single sport, dance or music activity doesn’t need to be. Not only are all of these activities expensive, it all is VERY consuming of our time and gas to get them there as well.
HOWEVER, we do plan Lots of FAMILY FUN activities we can all enjoy together!!

--Have your kids be a part of your finances and planning meetings.
When they help you decide how you spend your time and money,
it’s amazing the things they choose and they are usually things you think they wouldn’t.
Most of all kids love to spend TIME with you!

--Raising your own chickens…this is not only a great source of protein, but it gives your kids chores. We feed the chickens, they give us eggs, we then feed our scraps to the chickens to supplement their diet, and then they give us compost to use for future gardens.

--“Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or do without”.
The older I get and the more frugal we live, the more I see the TRUTH in this statement.

--Whether it be chicken or a roast...we make it stretch for several meals

--We only buy what is on our list (even if we see something that is on sale)and if we do see something we like and or want, we always go home and think on it and 90% of the time we forget about it and never go back and purchase it.

--Never pay full retail for anything! I buy all of my kid’s clothes at either thrift stores or when they are on SALE! I buy summer clothes for the next summer season in the fall when they are just pennies on the dollar and the same with winter and fall clothing.

--In much the same way as we do with our tithing, we pay a big chunk of our paycheck towards our debt, OR, savings, as soon as the paycheck is in the bank! Then we are forced to live frugally to make sure we make it through the month without going in the red.
You always spend what you have and so if you don’t have that money in your account, you won’t be tempted to spend and it will force you to be creative and frugal with your money and time during the month.
Keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind!

--Be a Savvy Consumer!!
THINK---infomercials and end-caps at department stores
are impulse items for Gullible consumers!!
Develop immunity to these “Consumer Landmines”.

--I buy LARGE bottles of shampoo and conditioner and shower gel. We have a dispenser in our shower and we fill it up with shampoo and conditioner from our large bottles we buy. Not only do you not have lots of containers to deal with in the shower, it means that little kids can’t waste the shampoo and conditioner by dumping too much out. I buy ½ gallon jugs of Hair Spray from a hair salon I refill my small of hair-spray from the large bottle. I am amazed how much money this saves!

--We keep the thermostat to our furnace (which provides heat to the entire house) at 62 degrees. We have a natural gas stove that warms the main congregating areas of our house that we keep a little warmer than that (but it usually doesn't go up over 68). PLUS, all the baking I do keeps the kitchen area toasty warm. In other areas of the house if we are chilly, we wear sweaters/sweatshirts or use blankets. (funny note: whenever we go to friends/family homes in the winter we are usually too HOT as our bodies are used to being in a cooler place and we are always dressed short sleeve shirts being worn at our house in the winter time).
--We don’t carry a balance on a credit card. If we make an online purchase of some kind, we pay the bill in full the next pay check.

--A fun drink for kids… 10 cent package of Kool-Aid Lemonade, ½ cup sugar (which is ½ the sugar it normally calls for). Mix it up and kids are happy and it’s not too bad for them either. MUCH cheaper and healthier than store bought drinks that are sweetened with High Fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

--To us vacations are an essential part of being alive!!
We buy a National Park Pass each year so we can enjoy the world class National Parks that are so close to us. (Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park, Yosemite, Glacier and Southern Utah).
Taking weekend trips to the National Parks, is most of the time a matter of putting gas in the car, packing a picnic, throwing in our tent and sleeping gear and in just a few hours time we are seeing beautiful country. A campsite in a National Park is much cheaper than a hotel. When we ask our kids what their favorite memories are, it is usually always some memory about being in the National Parks, camping, doing the camp fire programs, day hikes, etc…

What our money does NOT do for us:
Purchase luxury vehicles, 103” plasma TV’s, designer clothes, and other excessive material goods.
We save our money for what is important to us, not what is important to other people.
This allows us to live a comfortable life on OUR terms, not other peoples.

(Our favorite books for
simple and frugal living)
“Your Money or Your Life”…. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
“The Simple Living Guide”… Janet Luhrs
“America’s Cheapest Family”… Steve and Annette Economides
“The Tightwad Gazette”… Amy Dacyczyn
“Frugal Living for Dummies”… Deborah Taylor-Hough

I truly believe with all my heart...

"If you take care of the pennies,
the dollars will take care of themselves"!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reflections of my week...

One kind act...
it's the little things that make the biggest difference! 
Busy, Busy, BUSY past week
but, I wanted to pause for a moment and reflect on some sweet things I experienced this past week for memories sake.  
 Reflections of my week…
Sunday April 17, 2011…
I was busy cleaning up the breakfast dishes and 
listening to the beautiful music of “Consider the Lilies”
when the phone rang. It was my mother-in-law Josie and she wanted to speak with me.   She asked if they could stop by for 5 or 10 minutes that morning before we headed off to church as she wanted to give something to me.
She had been out and about shopping during the week and knows I love to cook and love to blog and dropped by with the sweetest note and   
Spring Egg Platter.
Who would have known that something out of the blue thing,
could bring so much JOY to my day and my week!
I reflected on those sweet, kind words she wrote to me all week long and  
I was reminded yet again, 
how kind words and 
letting others know you care
are priceless treasures!

I had SO much fun 
filling up the egg shapes and surprising my kids with an afternoon snack for them to enjoy.
Ethan was SO excited to eat deviled eggs and read his book in the sunshine!

Thursday April 21, 2011…
So I was standing in my kitchen, whipping up a batch of rolls (as I noticed that we didn’t have any leftovers or bread that I could make lunches for us for the next’s days lunches)  and looking less than desirable in my lovely old clothes stained in paint, as we have been scurrying for the past week, painting shelves, hanging things on the wall and trying to get more projects done on our home as we are hosting the Smith Family’s annual Easter Egg hunt this year.
I had my sweetie come and whisper the following in my ear…
“Do you want to know something, 
if you were my only friend in the whole world, 
I would be okay with that”!  

Those sweet kind words greatly touched my heart, to know that I am 
adored and loved
even when life is sometimes less than perfect.
 Saturday April 23, 2011
We were in charge of the annual Smith Easter Egg was SO much fun having everyone over and the little kids just made our day with all of their excitement!
We enjoyed baked ham, fresh fruit and all the fixin's.  
The only sad thing was, Tracy was busy cutting up ham and visiting with everyone, and I was so busy making sure people were greeted when they came and talking to them and then hiding eggs, after the morning dew burned off that I only took this handful of photos in the collage below.  (I would have taken more of the kids finding eggs, but I was having SO much fun, helping them find the eggs, that my camera got set aside and forgotten about until it was too late)  :-(
Oh well, at least I have these.   
Next time I am in charge of an event, I am going to put someone in charge of my camera to make sure plenty of photos are taken.

Life is Wonderful,
Life is Good,
and each day I remember
how beautiful a day can be
when kindness touches it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Old Fashioned Cookies!

I probably sound like a broken record, 
but I absolutely LOVE having little kids in the house. 
I love all of their ZEST and excitement for life 
and their willingness to try new things!

This sweet little boy 
 came home last weekend from a Primary activity (local church congregation children's activity). It was all about the Easter Story and they also had a fun scripture cookie sheet  for us to look up scriptures as a family and fill in the blanks to find out the ingredients to make the cookies.  
Ethan gave our Family Home Evening last week and we enjoyed these yummy cookies after our lesson. 

They are a VERY hearty cookie and SO delicious. 
I bet these would also make great cookies to take hiking!

Under the photo of the cookies shown below are the scripture verses
and if you highlight them (including the helpful tips), 
click "file" and then "print" and then "selection"and then "OK"
you can print this out and enjoy doing the activity and then making the cookies.  
 SO much fun for kids! 

SO good and definitely a favorite that we made a second batch and will definitely be making again in the future!
  These remind me of cookies that a grandma would make and they make A LOT of cookies (about 3 dozen).  

Old Fashioned Cookies
(aka Scripture Cookies) 

* 3/4 cup    “The words of his mouth were smoother than __________” 
(Psalms 55:21)
* 1/3 cup    “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy _________and honey”  
(2 Nephi 26:25)
* 1-1/2 cups    “To what purpose cometh there to me….the __________   __________ from a far country?”  (Jeremiah 6:20)
*   “As one gathereth ___________  that are left, I have gathered all the earth".
(Isaiah 10:14)
* 2 cups    “And Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty measures of fine ___________”  (1 Kings 4:22)
* 1 tsp.    “Take thou also unto thee principal spices…and of sweet _________ half so much”  (Exodus 30:23)
* 1 tsp.   “Ye are the _________ of the earth” (Matthew 5:13)
* 1/2 tsp.  “The kingdom of heaven is like unto __________”
(Matthew 13:33)
* 3 cups     “Nevertheless…__________for the horse” (D&C 89:17)
* 1 cup    “And they gave him….two clusters of __________” 
(1 Samuel 30:12)

Beat first four ingredients together
Mix in remaining ingredients. 
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. 
Bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

HELPFUL TIP...I also added in Vanilla, 
I used 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup white sugar
the "leaven" is "baking soda" 
and I added in 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup raisins 
and also some chopped walnuts. 

Enjoy having a little family FUN 
and also baking up a 
yummy treat together as well!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

21 years of bliss!

This past month,  
has been quite a trip down memory lane.  
Our main computer has been ready to die for the past 6 months and Tracy had another computer already put together to be our main computer, but I didn't want to deal with transferring data and losing all of my Picasa photo folders I have created over the past three years. 
Well, 2 weeks ago, our computer would no longer boot and so Tracy pulled the old hard drive and put it in our new computer he built and we proceeded with the painful process of moving all of our data from our old computer to our new one, which was A LOT of work!! 
I had to move over all of my fonts, Word documents and family photos. During this process I came across this love letter that I had created for Tracy for our 14th Wedding Anniversary and since my Blog is my journal that will get printed into a nice book, I wanted to have this for memory sake and besides this perfectly sums up my feelings at this time in my life as well.

 (Spring 2004)

(April 24, 2004) 
10 reasons why I Love Tracy! 

--He is the person that I long to see at the end of the day—he is truly the love of my life!
It’s like we’re still dating, because when he comes home I want to be looking my best, have fresh gum in my mouth and a spray of perfume and fresh lipstick and look forward to his wonderful hug and kiss when he walks through the kitchen door!  Love is wonderful! 

-- Tracy ALWAYS make me laugh and there’s never a dull moment with him around. He has this funny way he sings songs and is constantly making funny faces and gestures! I can’t even count how many times a day he makes all of us laugh. His laugh is contagious and you can’t help but be in a happy mood with him around.

--Tracy is truly a “handyman” and can fix anything—Most women would do anything to have what I have in a husband. He is the one who always makes our home shine with all of the “fix-it up” jobs that he does. We never have cupboards that are falling off the hinges, or leaky faucets or toilets, or broken doorknobs, or squeaky floors, or a head board that bangs against the wall.  Tracy can buy anything from the store and put it together because he has all the tools for the job and has an incredible mind that can figure anything out. I’m amazed at how he can take a “sows ear” and make a “silk purse” out of anything that he touches.

--Tracy is an awesome dad and hubby— Tracy is the kind of husband who adores his wife and can’t say enough positive, sweet things to her. He makes me feel like a queen and the most wonderful, treasured wife in the world—He is the most AWESOME dad who always puts his kids first--the kids are so excited to see him at the end of the day—they wait patiently by the kitchen door and as soon as they hear the garage door go up they run out screaming to see their dad. It’s the neatest thing.

--He loves to make our place homey with his tools, talent and excellent ideas. Tracy is every woman’s dream.  Not only is he “MANLY” in every way that a husband can be, but he loves to go to home shows together and get ideas for fun things we can do to our home. He is part of every aspect of decorating our house---from deciding what we should hang on the walls to how we should landscape our yard—to buying me hanging planters for my front porch—he has great ideas for all of this!  He also loves to go and shop for clothes and housewares---I LOVE that he has a sense of “fashion” and is always dressing in the latest styles.

--Tracy is SO talented—from building beautiful furniture to making ‘antique wooden blocks” and fun cards for all occasions. Tracy’s favorite program is watching “The New Yankee Workshop” on PBS.  He is amazing with all the beautiful pieces of furniture and shelves he has built----AND he has the“garage workshop” to die for and is the envy of everyone on our block because he has all the tools for the job and not only do he have all the tools for the job, he uses every tool that he has. They’re NOT just something to look cool on the wall.  I’ve attached a photo in the picture section of the shelf he built me for Christmas—he made up his own plans—it’s a masterpiece. In fact, most of the “knick-knacks” on the shelf were carved, drawn and painted by him!

--Awesome lover....I just wish that life wasn’t so crazy so that we could enjoy this kind of FUN with each other more often than 2 or 3 times each week!  (the rest of this is probably not Blog appropriate, so I took it out)

--Tracy is definitely NON-controlling and I feel like a complete “butterfly” who can say and do what I feel.  Tracy never gets jealous—if another man talks with me, he sees it as a compliment that he has a “great catch”.  I wish more women could have a husband like this.  Jealousy and fear and guilt are terrible things and I am SO glad that they don’t exist in our home.

--He is my hiking/camping buddy and the person that I want to experience everything in life with. I never get sick of him or need a break from him. I love going on long drives with him listening to our CD’S or MP3’S that he has burned for us ”, and talking about everything in life.  I could drive all across the US and back with him and never tire or have a dull moment!!  I can truly say that if we were stranded on a desert island and there were not other people there I would be completely 100% content and thrilled and love every minute of it!

--Another word for Tracy is: Mister “Prepared” for anything—with Tracy around we will NEVER be without the necessities whether we are hiking, camping, driving in the car, etc... It doesn’t matter what emergency we have, we always come out on top because Tracy has thought to pack things to get the job done. He is truly amazing in this area and our neighbors and family are always fascinated that we never seem to get in bad predicaments because Tracy has thought of everything.

--And last of all---Tracy is the most kind and Christ-like person I have ever met. There is not anything that he wouldn’t do for you. He teaches me so much about doing for others and putting other’s needs above your own.

There are only two things 
that really bug me about Tracy
1st, he is not a very “punctual” person—in fact, we are late to everything—I am the kind of person that is always 10 minutes early to everything (as long as I am not with Tracy). In fact, our son had 26 tardies last trimester because Tracy kept hitting the “Snooze” and didn’t get ready in time to get Jade to school on time.  I am hoping that maybe someday being punctual and on time will rub off on him. His nick-name in High School was "Tardy Tracy"!  (ACTUALLY, in 2011 Tracy is doing WONDERFUL in this area, he has been in some church callings where people were always late and someone had made a comment that it is really rude to be late and that is shows people you really don't care and so for the past 3 years, being punctual has been a priority to Tracy!)

And the 2nd thing that bugs me is he has a difficulty with self discipline when it comes to “eating too much” at night.  I will have fixed a healthy, yummy supper that leaves you “pleasantly full” and then Tracy has to go and raid the pantry or fridge and finish supper with 2 bowls of cold cereal, chips and salsa, or ½ a bag of M&M's. There have been many mornings I have awoke to a bag of chips on the counter that he opened and enjoyed when he had a midnight snack craving.(sigh!)

I want to live until we are
in our 90’s in great health together! 

(our little family in Spring 2004)

(here and here 
for previous anniversary posts!)

Looking forward to another 
20, 30 and 40 years together as the 
"Happily Married Smith's"!! 

So blessed beyond measure 
to have this wonderful man in my life! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The mountains...a metaphor for life!

"To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort and it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them... again and again.
The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand on their summits".
Sir Francis Younghusband

This awesome guy
has made me soar to heights I never thought I would!! We have always enjoyed being in the great outdoors and Tracy has been a backpacking enthusiast since he was a young boy.
Eleven years ago, Tracy's fascination with lightweight backpacking rekindled a hobby that had gone dormant through his college years. This rekindling set us on a course that we are both passionate about and we can never seem to get enough of...
backpacking and hiking in the rugged, pristine, mountains
not far from our home in Southeast Idaho.

When I think about the mountains,
I am reminded that I often have my struggles with them.
There have been times, the high altitude made it where it felt like a monumental effort just to get enough oxygen into my lungs and my hiking shoes began to feel like lead weights, as I traversed the steep and rugged terrain.

Many times it felt like I might never make it to the top.
I have even contemplated stopping and turning around.

However, I am always amazed that with hard work, determination and just putting one foot in front of the other, I always do eventually make it to the top.

When I'm standing on the summit of a mountain or at the crest of a high mountain pass and overlooking where I've came from and the view down the other side, I see and experience beauty beyond measure and breath-taking scenery, that I would never get to see and experience if I didn't keep trying until I made it to the top!

As an aside,
here is one of my favorite blog posts about perseverance, not giving up and how the top of the mountain brings the most amazing view ever...definitely a must read
(click here)

The determination and persistence
from climbing mountains
has carried over into my everyday life.
It is has given me the courage to try new things and to have a
"yes I can attitude" even more than I ever had!

And, standing on the top of a mountain peak with my family by my side, especially, my young kids that stuck with it until we made it to the top...
well that my friends is just plain awesome!

To have my kids be learning at such a young age the power of persistence and the joy that comes from doing something hard and having the most amazing reward to enjoy at the end of a long hard hike uphill.

The mountains
are teaching me and my kids SO much about life!

I love this photo,
because here it is August 8, 2010
and yet we found all of this snow.
One of the many treasures you find
when you keep on climbing!

I can't wait to get back there...
hiking weather is not too far away.

If I had my wish, I would be out enjoying and climbing these rugged mountains every day of my life,
enjoying the precious gifts that the mountains offer as
I stand on top of their summits!