Long Time No Post Nutshell

Okay, so here’s the deal:  It has been nearly a month since I posted anything, and before that it was just grocery store scores.  Yes, those can be exciting, but there is nothing more exciting than LIFE around the Ratzlaff house.  I’ve been so overwhelmed at the thought of jumping in here to update you all and start to blog more regularly that I just kind of froze up.

Well, no more.  This silent treatment has GOT to come to an end.  I’m going nuts.

My life in bullet points.  (Hopefully I can keep this short.)

  • I’ve been lazy about taking my honkin’ camera with me.  Thankfully Mitch has a camera on his phone, so most of these pics are from that.  Not the BEST quality, but it still records life!!  I’m happy!
  • Mitch and I went to the “Friends” concert featuring Micheal W. Smith and Amy Grant.  It was so much fun meeting up with Angela (from one of my favorite coupon blogs in the world).  We ditched our nosebleed seats at the back of the church to hop closer to the front by Angela and her die-hard-fan sister-in-law.  I can’t believe how many songs I remembered from some of Amy’s OLD albums.  Word for word.  I rocked it into my air mic.  Little known fact: Amy sings in my key.  (Pic of me and Angela!  Thanks so much, Angela!  Had a blast!!)
  • We went camping with my brother and his little family at the Oregon Coast.  We stayed in a Yurt.  I decided that I could totally live in a Yurt.  I am incredibly thankful that they booked the Yurt last year sometime, because it RAINED the whole time we were there, but we were cozy and dry!  We had a great time “roughing it”.  On the way home, we stopped by the Tillamook Cheese Factory (of course) for some cheese samples and ice cream.  Then, we stopped near a fish ladder and saw MASSIVE salmon swimming upstream.  Seriously.  It was the coolest thing EVER.  They were literally feet away from us, jumping out of the water, packed in the stream as far as you could see.  Grant actually touched one that got really close to us.  It was an excellent learning op for the kiddos, and one they will not soon forget!  (Yep! That’s a small salmon jumping out of the water.)
  • Speaking of salmon, Mitch went fishing with some buddies again this fall and filled our freezer with yummy salmon! (He’s so hot!)

  • THEN, the same brother and his family (who live in Tacoma) came down to little ol’ Dallas to host their younger son’s first birthday party!  I’m scouring facebook for pics of my adorable nephew with his face covered with cake, but you’ll just have to settle for a photo of the adorable cake my sister-in-law made.  Isn’t this great?

  • Hmm . . . let’s see.  Next we went to Vegas for a business trip and we brought the kids with us.  We discovered that we are not really the Vegas type.  I loved seeing the amazing hotels, but it (coffee, food, etc.) was SO expensive there!!  Good grief!  Grant (8) wanted to go home on the first day because everything was so expensive.  He is a child after my heart!  We stayed at Caesar’s Palace, which is gorgeous with wonderful swimming pools and is located right next door to the Bellagio.  We saw the water show several times, which was fun.  The Paris is located across the street from the Bellagio and Mitch had some meeting-type things there, so we spent a bit of time at the Paris, too.

We went out to dinner one night and not only did we get to ride in a ginormous stretch limo-type SUV but we also ordered escargot.  Obviously, we weren’t paying for any of this ourselves!!  Grant loves shocking people by eating stuff that you would not expect a kid to eat!  I can’t believe how much my son looks like his daddy as a teenager in this picture!  He ate two snails, by the way.  I ate one.

The final night in Vegas, we went to a fun carnival, lost our son, met Mater and Lightnin’ McQueen, found our son who didn’t know he was missing, watched a Don Henley concert (lead singer of The Eagles, so obviously I rocked the air mic at that concert, too!) and walked through a casino at midnight to go see a large aquarium (which was located inside a bar near another bar with danceable tables, poles and cages – the show had not yet started, thankfully) with two little boys in tow.  It was an adventure, but we will probably not repeat that one.

If you look closely, you might be able to see Don Henley in there . . . or at least imagine him singing Desperado or Hotel California.  We enjoyed the largest firework show I have ever seen directly after this concert.  Very cool.

  • We arrived back home safe and sound having taught several life lessons to our impressionable boys (Yeah. Don’t take your kids to Vegas.) and I immediately jumped back into the task of canning 250 lbs. of apples.

I made a bunch of applesauce, dried a bunch of apples, and then made apple pie filling.  I’ve never canned apple pie filling, so I hope this works out!  I got lazy toward the end there.  We still have two boxes out in the garage and our produce drawers are filled with apples for munching.  The boys are in heaven with all of these apples in the house!

  • NEXT, I went to Women Of Faith: Portland.  Again, another great experience filled with awesome speakers and wonderful music.  LOTS to think about, too!  I enjoyed another couple of concerts!!  Selah and Mandisa were the special music, and I have fallen in love with a few of their songs.  Mandisa’s “Good Morning” has been added to my running playlist (although I haven’t actually run to it, yet, due to the laziness factor).  Selah’s Unredeemed is absolutely gorgeous and very powerful.  No air-mic singing at these concerts, although next year I will be prepared!!
  • The next day we drove on up to my Grandparent’s place and brought back a giant pumpkin for our front porch.  That is always a HUGE treat for the boys.  Later that week, Cole’s class went to the pumpkin patch and Grant got to tag along since he didn’t have school that day.  The weather was perfect and we had a great time.

Grant’s Pumpkin

 Cole and his best friend, Connor.

  • This has definitely been a month of concerts; more concerts than I have been to in such a short amount of time in my LIFE!  This next one was just awesome!!  We got to go to a JOURNEY concert!!  It was amazing.  It was LOUD!  It was SO much fun to people watch!!

It was seriously a blast!!  The concert started out with Night Ranger (you may recognize Sister Christian . . . I didn’t know many of their songs, but they were AMAZING musicians and LOUD).  Next, Foreigner came out.  Surely you have heard of Foreigner: Cold as Ice, Hot Blooded, Waiting for a Girl Like You, Say You Will, I Don’t Want to Live Without You, etc.  OH MY WORD. They were awesome performers and definitely classy guys.  Unbelievable musicians.

Okay, fine.  You can’t actually SEE anything in this next picture, but if it was legal, I’d totally post the video Mitch took with his phone of the Journey’s final song of the night: Don’t Stop Believin’.  You might also recognize Wheel in the Sky, Any Way You Want It, Open Arms, etc.  OH, be still my heart.  It was awesome!

Funny side note:  There were a bunch of older people there (50s and 60s), more 30-40 year olds, and several kids around age 10.  I don’t know if I saw a single teenager or 20-something at the concert.  That kinda cracked me up.  I don’t know if I should feel old or hip!

  • AND, finally, we have been enjoying a LOT of soccer lately as Grant and Cole prove where they got their athletic genes from.  Mitch was/is an incredible soccer player, and the boys are definitely taking after him.  Grant continues to be an anchor for his team and a leading scorer with unbelievable footwork, while Cole’s first year in soccer sees him scoring multiple times a game.  Let’s just say that I can’t really afford to pay Cole $1 a goal (which is what we give to Grant).  He and his buddy Connor (shown up above) dominate the U6 league.  I’ll have to take the camera to a couple of games, huh?

On top of all of these fun activities, we have started Life Groups (small groups) at church where we are reading through Francis Chan’s Forgotten God.  It’s been a fun study.  Plus, Mitch is co-teaching a Sunday School class on Bible Study Methods, which has spurred a lot of great discussion at home.  I’m in the thick of teaching Bible at my son’s school, which has led to a lot of time on campus eating lunch with Grant and his friends and volunteering at various school activities.  I’m attending my local MOPS group (last year for that), which reminds me that I have to bring food tomorrow.  Hee, hee!

Since I finished my third Bible in 90 Days Challenge at the beginning of October, I’ve been catching up on a lot of fiction:  The Shape of Mercy, The Noticer, The Hunger Games, The Help, and I have 3 more books on my nightstand waiting for me.  Plus, I’m reading The Bible, Forgotten God, The Hole in Our Gospel, and will be picking up one of Mitch’s Bible study methods books this week, too!  Oh, how I love to read!

I’m still assembling Cash Envelopes for my Etsy shop and working hard to get those student loans paid off!!  Plus, I have lots of ideas for my papercraft template shop at The Digichick.  AND, I might be opening up a third business, too!  I’ll share about that in a couple of months if it all works out.  Kinda cool!

Overall, life has been BUSY, as you can see.  It’s all good stuff, though, and I am blessed to have such a fun, full life and an amazing family to share it with!

And that’s it.  Whew!  Now that I have that “nutshell” post off my plate, I can get back to blogging without the guilt!!  I missed you guys!!  I’ll post again soon!

Let me leave you with this . . . a photo taken right after Grant “lost his sweet tooth!”  What a doll!

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