Archive for August, 2011

AHG 2011-2012 Trailblazer Planning

The girls and I have already begun our American Heritage Girls year, and I think we have a pretty good course planned for this school year.  Kara and Cosette are both in the 2nd year (out of 3) of their respective levels, so I really would like to make headway on completing the requirements for their level awards. Towards that end, we are going to focus on completing merit badges from the various frontiers that we have not yet completed.  Once we have a badge from each frontier, we will continue to pick badges that we are interested in.  Neither girl is going to have a problem getting the required service hours, and we definitely have plenty of special events! 🙂

So, right now the girls are working on the Stickshifts and Safety Belts badge from the Family Living Frontier and the Computer Fun badge from the Science and Technology Frontier.  We had started the Textile Arts badge from the Arts Frontier last spring, and once they each complete their latchhooking projects, that one will be mostly finished.  I must admit that the Stickshifts and Safety Belts badge seems like an odd choice, but it actually fits our family just perfectly right now!  We bought our Sienna van this past summer, and going through that process really sparked interest among our kids about different aspects of vehicles, so this project makes sense right now.

In addition to our regular badges, the girls want to complete the requirements for the Bowling Sports Pin and each of the girls would like to get a religious emblem by working on their respective levels of the PRAY Program.

Once those goals are met, we have other badges that we are considering including Living in the USA, Cooking, Home Care and Repair, Music Performance, Photography, My Style, and Fishing.  There’s one thing for sure:  we won’t run out of things to do!

I also have goals for myself in regards to my position as the Trailblazer Support Coordinator.  Of course, I want to be timely and thorough addressing issues and answering questions as they arise, but I also want to go beyond that.  I want to focus on promoting AHG and the Trailblazer program specifically. Towards that end, I have already begun spreading the word about Trailblazers through a variety of means, and I am networking with troops in various areas to try to get Trailblazers involved in regional activities.  Another area that I would like to focus on is Trailblazer interaction.  There is already an existing Yahoo group, but it is definitely not used up to its potential.  I would love to see it be a place where families can share ideas and information about Trailblazing.  I can even picture it being almost like an online “troop” in a way.  Several years ago, I established the clubfootadoption Yahoo group, and it has really become a neat place for families to learn about adopting and treating kids with that condition. That’s what I would like to see with the Trailblazer Yahoo group as well.

Trailblazing is definitely an adventure!  In many ways it is what it says it is: trailblazing.  This is a relatively new concept for AHG that is rapidly expanding, and it’s neat seeing how God is continuing to open doors!  It is truly a blessing!

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This past Sunday, Hurricane Irene was working its way up the East Coast causing all kinds of trouble. That same day, the Prairie was also visited by a storm, and it helped us to sympathize with what others were experiencing!

It had been a very nice day up until late afternoon.  Dan was working outside and told John that he might want to grab a camera to get some pictures of a nasty approaching cloud.  John is doing his science project on weather forecasting accuracy this year, so he is very focused on that area right now.  Well, Dan was right.  There was a nasty cloud coming!  Fortunately, there wasn’t any hail, but, boy, was there wind!  Our local newspaper said that there were gusts around 70 miles per hour, and I fully believe it! Trees were breaking off like crazy, our neighbor’s fence collapsed, and Dan’s secretary told him that their garage was actually blown off of its foundation!

We were without electricity for several hours after the storm, but that was only a minor inconvenience.  We did not have any damage to speak of, although others in our neighborhood did.  After the storm passed, it was again a beautiful day, and we took the kids out fishing again.  All of the kids caught fish this time, and Brock got a pretty nice catfish!  This fishing thing is kind of addicting!  🙂

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Picnik collage

The boys’ Scout troop has helped one of the local Lions’ Clubs every summer for the past several years at their annual end-of-summer barbecue/fundraiser.  The girls and I had never gone, but we had heard great reviews of the food and fun, so this year when they were needing additional help, we were quick to volunteer!

I had quizzed the boys to kind of find out what to expect at this event, and I think Brock gave me the most usual piece of information. I asked him if there were very many people at this thing.  (I thought it might not be that big of a deal because it is in one of the nearby tiny rural towns.)  He told me that the only place he saw more people was at the County Fair!  I thought maybe he was exaggerating–but he wasn’t!  I couldn’t believe how many people came out for the evening!  It really was a wonderful time.

The kids helped serve drinks, while I spent most of the evening at the table by the door.  They were raffling off already processed 1/2 hogs for $5 per ticket, so my spot was popular!  🙂  The food was fantastic–barbecue pork, chips, baked beans, potato salad, and every kind of homemade cake imaginable.  The whole atmosphere was so happy and fun.  I think this will become a Prairie Family tradition!

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Wow!  Today was a great day!  We took all five of the kids to the 2011 Youth Outdoor Skills Day put on by the Wildlife and Parks department.  It was really a neat experience, and although we are all absolutely shot (no pun intended!), we all agree that we learned a lot and had a great time.

Our day started with something I had absolutely no experience with:  trapping.  A guy with the Wildlife and Parks department showed us all kinds of pelts from wildlife in our area and discussed trapping.  He demonstrated all sorts of traps and made it sound like quite a fun hobby.  I don’t know if it is done very much around here or not, but it sure was interesting–probably my favorite station of the day.

The next session was kind of a combination of archery and hunting with archery. This is always a favorite station with the Prairie Family Kids, and today was no exception.  The man running the actual archery shooting did a great job teaching the kids how to shoot properly, and they all had success which was neat.  He commented that he thought Cosette might do better with a lefty bow, and when she tried it, he was right!  That’s something odd about Cosette–she writes right-handed, but does sporting activities lefty.

After archery, we went to a shooting range outside of town.  The kids first got to try muzzle loading and shooting.  Then it was time for the big shotguns. Fortunately, they did offer pellet guns for those who really didn’t want to try the shotguns, and Kara and Luke had fun with that.  The others chose to try the shotguns shooting at clay pigeons.  Cosette was not too sure about the whole thing, but she stuck it through and did a fine job!  John really improved during this session and hit several of the targets, which was great for him!

After a LOT of shooting, it was time to return to the college for an elk-burger lunch.  It was yummy, and it was good to meet back up with Brock to hear how his day was doing.  (For some reason, he was put in a different group than the rest of us, so that explains why he is missing from most of the pictures!)  All of this stuff is right up Brock’s alley, so he, of course, was having a great time in his group too.

After lunch, our group spent the rest of the day fishing.  The kids all learned how to tie on and bait their own hooks, which will make our lives much easier when we go on our own next time!  🙂  Some of the kids caught fish, and some of them didn’t, but we all agree that we definitely know more about fishing than we did a week ago!  (An interesting side note:  Cosette had quite a time trying to catch turtles with a couple of other boys.  They never quite got one, but they sure had fun!)

At the end, they had drawings for prizes, and the kids all got nice prizes including first aid kits and small tackle boxes.

So, it was quite a day–a full day, but a wonderful one.  I am sure this one will come up in conversations for years to come!


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I had lunch in the school cafeteria growing up, and, like most kids, I complained about it.  I don’t know why kids do that–the meals were actually pretty good, but it just seemed to be the “thing to do” to gripe and make jokes about school lunch.  What was really funny was that just last week everyone was reminiscing on Facebook about school lunch and talking about how they missed this or that lunchroom fare-dinner rolls, chili, tater topped franks, homemade cinnamon rolls–all of those recipes came up in the conversation.  The one item that kept coming up, though, were the yummy peanut butter bars with the delicious chocolate frosting.

I’ve thought about those cookies several times over the years and have tried recipes that I thought might be similar, but I have never found just the right one.  Until now.  Yep, someone on that discussion group had THE recipe for those longed-for bar cookies!  I just had to make them!  So, make them I did! They got the reaction that I wanted:  the kids all loved them just like we did when we were little. So, I decided to put this recipe on my blog.  That way I will be able to find it again when I need it!  🙂

A note about this recipe:  it was a school cafeteria recipe, so it makes two pans of cookies.  Unless you want that many cookies (and that many calories!), it is best to cut the recipe in half.  Also, the frosting recipe is on this Smilebox, but it is on the second page.  Be sure to click that arrow–the cookies just wouldn’t be the same without that frosting!

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A Promise–KEPT!

Boy, I don’t know how long Dan and I have told the kids that we would take them fishing someday.  My brother and his wife even gave the kids fishing poles a few years ago, but it just never seemed to work out to actually go give it a try.  This summer, Dan had promised the kids that we would go–THIS YEAR.  Cosette even had him sign his promise!  LOL!

Well, school started, and the kids were sure that it wouldn’t happen again, but Dan is such a good guy! He was determined to keep his promise, and he decided to do it this week on the only evening that he was going to be home.  Last night was his only night at home between some out-of-town meetings, but he spent it fishing with the kids.  How cool is that?!

Brock had done a little bit of fishing earlier this summer for a Boy Scout camp. Other than that, this was everyone’s first time at it.  Dan just took them to a little stocked pond at a local park, but that was a good first experience.  All of the kids got nibbles.  John had the first round of excitement.  He told me that his line was stuck on something.  When we got it realed in, it was a HUGE frog!  We just laughed and laughed.  Unfortunately, it got away before we could get a picture of it.

I spent quite a bit of time helping Kara.  Her bobber would bounce around, but we’d real it in just to see that the fish had gotten away with the worm.  She had a surprise one time when she realed in her line though:  there was a little fish on her hook!  She really didn’t know how long it had been there, but she definitely had a fish!  We put it in a bucket so she could enjoy it for awhile and then released it.

Brock really enjoys fishing, and he was very good to go around helping the others with their poles.  I was glad that he also caught a little fish.  That made for a nice evening.

So, will we do it again?  Hopefully!  We all had a good time, and the kids will get to do some more fishing this weekend.  The Wildlife and Parks division of our state is putting on an outdoor skills day that will include fishing, shotgun shooting, etc., and all of the kids are signed up to go.  It’s kind of neat that the girls get to go this time–they often miss out on this type of thing because it is usually related to Boy Scouts, but this time it is a different deal.  They are also going to serve elk for lunch–that should be good!  Hopefully we’ll pick up some good fishing tips this weekend.  We could really use them!  🙂

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Mingo Bible Church

You know you go to Mingo Bible Church, if you……..

  • get caught in traffic–not by a traffic jam, but by a tractor going down the road.
  • not only know everyone’s name, but probably also know their birthdates and anniversary dates!
  • know where everyone will sit even before they walk in the door.  (Thanks, Brock!)
  • are greeted by a happy little munchkin with a great big hug.
  • feel out-of-place because you are not related to the Goossens, Franz’s, or Regiers.
  • remember the long-term organist teasing the song leader from the organ.  (The pianist would NEVER do that!)
  • have pictures of your kids playing Foosball with the pastor after church dinner.


  • launch water balloons at the grain elevators every summer during VBS.

Water Balloon Launch

  • have three wonderful dogs  (Big Dog, Puppy 1 and Puppy 2) race to be petted every week in the parking lot.
  • climb the mulberry tree after church and try to sneak a few without getting caught.  (which is hard because of the purple fingers!)
  • get shoes full of stickers while playing on the playground after morning services.
  • look forward to a church bowling party every January.

Friends, Bowling, Pizza:  Life is Good!

  • endure the summer heat to go Putt Putt golfing in Oakley.


  • discuss such things as lightning shooting out of your finger tips in Sunday School.  (Right, boys????)
  • have church dinner every first Sunday of the month.
  • have a whole binder full of recipes to try for church dinner.
  • know who will bring enchiladas, Doritos, and potato salad to the church dinner!  🙂
  • only change the bulletin boards once each year: right before VBS.
  • have the local Boy Scout Master, Cub Scout Master, and American Heritage Girl Trailblazer Support Coordinator all in your congregation.


  • drive to church and see geocaching fans from all over the USA searching for the oldest active cache.
  • notice that one of the largest items on the church’s budget is missions. We love, admire, and support many missionaries!

A Great Role Model!

  • have a Pastor who will travel as far as necessary to visit your family in times of need.
  • feel like you are losing a family member when someone moves or passes on to Glory.  😦
  • feel welcomed and accepted, no matter what.
  • hear the Word of God boldly preached from the pulpit every week without compromise or apology.
  • are always challenged to grow spiritually by the testimonies and examples of the congregation.

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A lady that used to live here on the Prairie brought me a lot of good memories this week and has inspired a whole new category for this blog! She started one of the “You know you are from ______ if you remember ________” discussion groups on Facebook for the town where I grew up and currently live.  I had no idea how much fun this type of group would be!  People are reminiscing about all sorts of things–people they knew, places they used to go, memories from high school, etc. One lady even shared a recipe from our Grade School cafeteria for a bar cookie that everyone loved and that I plan on making this week!

So, what does that have to do with the Prairie Family Chronicles??? Well, it got me to thinking about my own kids and how they are building those great memories right now in this town in our home.  These are the days that they will look back on as adults and say, “remember when…..”  So, I thought it would be fun to have an ongoing category of posts that I plan on calling “You Know _____ If ________” posts that we will add to as time goes on.  So, these posts won’t be in their final forms, but will be added to and changed–mostly for the benefit of my kids, although I think others will enjoy them too.  Who knows?? Maybe someday I’ll actually print them off for my adult kids so they can have a sweet walk down memory lane!  🙂

Sometimes this old world seems pretty dark and grim.  It’s nice to just sit back and think about the good things that we encounter every day.  I hope my readers will enjoy these posts–and will add their own thoughts to them too!  I am getting ready for the first post of this category, and it should be a good one: You Know you go to Mingo Bible Church if you……

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Whew!  I made it!  (Or at least I am in the process of making it!)  Our summer was so crazy that I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to start school on the date I had planned or not.  Just 2 1/2 weeks ago, I had not put anything away from last spring’s classes, had not opened a single curriculum box, etc.  I was a little worried, to tell you the truth!  I did finally get it in gear, though, and although I don’t have every to-do item on my list checked off, I did get enough of it accomplished that we were able to start today as scheduled.  So, praise God!  He is good all of the time!

The kids are all growing up.  This is John’s first year of high school.  Brock is in 7th Grade. Cosette is in 5th Grade. Luke is in 4th Grade.  Kara is in 2nd Grade.  I think it will be a good year.  The kids have some of their favorite returning video teachers, and it looks like the new ones will soon become favorites too.

So, we are heading back to “normal life.”  (Is there such a thing??)  Once the dust settles a little, I really need to spend some time planning what the girls and I will be doing in American Heritage Girls this year.

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