Saturday, November 7, 2009


While we don't go all out in celebration of Halloween, our kids enjoy the traditional fun festivities like dressing up, trick or treating, carving pumpkins, etc. We try to steer clear of the 'horror' aspect of Halloween and opt for clean fun instead.
Here is my "grand-niece" (that makes me sound old!) sporting one of two Halloween costumes...Serenity is 13 months old and looked lovely as a bumblebee!
The kids were excited to 'hit the road' on Halloween night. We were in Iowa, visiting my family, so they got to trick or treat with 2nd cousin Serenity (this time dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid) and their cousin Joel (dressed as Dracula...with a matching dog!).

This year, being frugal and attempting to be craftsy, I decided to make use of what we had to make costumes for the kids. Juancho had said he wanted to be a dog, and Laura had said she wanted to be a cat. Seemed only fitting that Angie should go as a mouse. Thankfully she embraced the idea! Last year we had Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and...a penguin. The three didn't exactly go together...but this year they did!
Angie, our cute little mouse. She had a gray sweatsuit with a hood, so I found a gray sweatshirt that had seen better days and cut it up to make her ears and tail. I sewed her ears onto the hoodie with a loose stitch so it could be cut out later, and tacked them back with safety pins so they weren't flopping all over. Her tail was safety pin to the inside of the backside of her pants. The costume was topped off with some face paint and pink gloves. She was mistaken for a bunny or a cat on a couple of occasions, but she didn't hesitate to set people straight..."I'm a MOUSE!"

Laura's cat costume was made similarly. We bought a velvety black hoodie at the Salvation Army for $1.50, and I took some old black fabric and sewed cat ears, reinforced inside with cardboard, and detail added outside with fabric from an old pink t-shirt (also used on Angie's mousy ears). Her tail was one of Robert's black socks with no matching pair...I sewed it thinner and stuffed it with stuffing from an old pillow (all the tails were stuffed with that old stuffing...). She had on black tights, black leggings and a cute velvety black skirt (purchased from the Salvation Army for less than a buck). Face paint finished it off, along with $1 black gloves from Target.

Juancho wanted to be a dog, so I bought an oversized brown turtleneck from Salvation Army for a dollar, then found an old lighter brown t-shirt that was going to Goodwill anyway and cut out spots from that. I sewed the spots onto the turtleneck and sewed the ends of the sleeves closed into a paw-style...built in mittens! He wore brown cords I traded some of his old clothes for at Once Upon a! His doggie ears were made from Robert's old socks, pinned to a stocking cap. His tail was made from the same old t-shirt used to cut the spots, sewed closed, stuffed with pillow stuffing and safety pinned to the back of his pants. He loves this tail so much that he continues to safety pin it to the back of every pair of pajama pants he wears. Reminds me of "Where the Wild Things Are". His face was painted, complete with doggie tongue hanging out!
We had a great Halloween and I was reminded of what I knew as a child...homemade costumes are the best!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Papi's Birthday

Dad's birthday was October 19th - celebrating the "5th Anniversary of his 29th Birthday", as he likes to say. It was a totally low key day at home...with a home cooked meal for dinner, a homemade low sugar cake, homemade cards and gifts. A fun day.
The kids collected leaves outside, shaved some colorful crayons and arranged a picture, which I later ironed. We fashioned these into autumn themed birthday cards for Dad.

We made Salt Dough and made a autumn themed wall hanging for Dad too - each child made their own, pressing leaves into the dough to create a picture. We then baked the dough til it was hard and after it had cooled the kiddos painted their section and added their name and a message to Dad. I connected them all with ribbon and we have it proudly hanging in the kitchen. I, however, forgot to take a picture, so I'll have to do that before it gets taken down and post it here.

The kids helped clean up, make dinner and the cake.

The birthday table - dinner was Parmesan Crusted Tilapia, Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes" and Green Beans Almondine...yum!
"U Rock Dad!"

Dad and the girls

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Stuff...

As if one blog weren't enough...

I am working on getting a conglomeration of blogs set up that you are invited to follow! I just set up a blog to chronicle our homeschool journeys on (PS - did you know we are homeschooling this year? We are into week 5 already and it has been a challenge and a blast!). The new homeschool blog is called Dressel Academy, after our very fancy homeschool name. The blog itself still need to be beautified a bit, but there is an inaugeral post there! My goal is to post every school day with some tidbit that we learned, did or some aspect to homeschooling that I find important to remember or to hang onto as a resource for the future! I will also have a regular "Rookie Mistakes Monday" post that I will kick off next week...and it will be the post where I will confess all my first year homeschool blunders! :)

Another blog chronicling a journey in my life personally is my Making Over Me blog. It is a blog that I set up a while ago, but never did anything with seriously...mostly because I wasn't seriously working towards making over me! But now I am and the Making Over Me blog will chronicle THAT journey. It is a journey that encompasses many elements of a makeover...physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Stay tuned to see what happens - this blog will likely be updated 2-3 times per week.

A couple more blogs are reflective of my interest in all things frugal, free and handmade! I actually started them this past spring and then let go of them for a while. I'm excited to jump back in and beef them up a bit! There is You're Gonna Want This and the partner blog You're Gonna Want This - Homemade! The first is all about contests, savings, great frugal ideas, and reviews that I find in the blog-world and want to bring to you OR that I have the opportunity to come up with myself! This blog will have daily updates.

The partner blog You're Gonna Want This - Handmade will be a review blog that will encourage readers to consider purchasing their gifts and goods from handmade artisans and crafters...not only because handmade crafters can provide impeccable quality and unique items that cannot be found in your local discount retailer...BUT by buying from handmade artisans, we are helping to support family-based business. I'm all about family and I LOVE handmade what is there to lose?! I will be doing reviews of handmade products, providing links to handmade artisans and giving guidance to those just venturing into the world of handmade products! This blog will begin with 2-3 posts per week, working up to daily updates.

Hope you can take some time to explore my blogs and have fun with them too!

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Beginnings...

Yes, I've been a sporadic blogger since our children came home...and that may remain to be the case. But don't give up on me - I will show up here still...whether it be frequently or infrequently!

I'm beginning my second day as a full-time stay-at-home mom. It feels like the first though, as I was still wrapping up some details at my previous job yesterday too.

Leaving my job was bittersweet. I worked for this non-profit Christian organization serving high risk hurting teens and families ( for over 8 years in a lot of different roles. Most recently it was the Recruiting Coordinator - involving recruiting and hiring new staff and interns for the organization. But, as is true with many companies and non-profits, funds are tight and due to some other staff changes there was a re-organization made for some corporate office positions. In that reorganization my position was eliminated.

The irony of it, though, is that Robert and I have felt convicted, or called, to homeschool our children this next year and beyond if need be due to their educational challenges and the inability for the public school they attend to be able to give the attention to their academic needs in the way that is necessary to help the kiddos really get through some of their learning hurdles with reading and writing in particular. But being a two-income family that has gone through some significant economic challenges of our own this past year, we didn't know if we could swing losing my income and benefits. But we kept praying and seeking God's affirmation and direction. In the course of time I knew that God was solidly letting us know 'yes, homeschooling your children is the new ministry role I want you to move into' - but the fear that comes with financial challenges had worked itself into a knot in the pit of my stomach and the 'what-ifs' were running rampant through my head.

However one Wednesday in early June I listened to a speaker talk about his 'Surprise Me God' experiment. As I listened to his stories of how God surprised him, I found myself praying silently "Lord Jesus, I believe you have called me to homeschool my children. But I am afraid. I'm afraid to leave the security of my job and the steady income and benefits it brings with it. Lord I'm even more afraid that I will let my fear keep me from doing something you have called me to." Then, like Gideon putting out his fleece, I prayed "Lord, please help me with this. Just MAKE IT HAPPEN so I cannot chicken out and let my fear control me. I need your help with this Lord. If it is right, make it happen."

That very afternoon, much to my surprise, my boss called me into his office to let me know about the above restructuring and the elimination of my position. Though this was not how I expected God to answer my prayer above, it was clearly 'making it happen' and though it would have been easy to let anxiety rush in, it didn't. I knew this was God's affirmation of 'yes, this is right for you and yes, I will take care of you.'

The next 6 weeks that followed until my end date passed in a flash and though my last day was two days ago, I still don't feel like I am done. But my mind, energies and 'new normal' will gradually shift into my new positions of homemaker, homeschool teacher, business assistant to my husband and hopefully (fingers crossed) budding freelance writer and novelist.

Which reminds to-do list for this 'new normal' begins with a few whoppers...

1 - Organize the home office (it was a bit of a chore to get to my seat at my desk this morning...massive organization and decluttering is needed!)

2 - Prep for a garage sale in a couple of weeks

3 - Put together my full year homeschool schedule and get paperwork completed to send in to the State.

As they say in Minnesota...Uff-Da! Better get to work! More from me - WITH PICTURES - soon!

PS - if you are a reader and not my Facebook friend, look me up!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Civil War Day

Near our home is a place called "Murphy's Landing". It is an 88 acre park re-created to resemble life in Minnesota between the 1840's and 1890's. Nearly all of the buildings in the park are original - homes, church, school and mercantile actually built in that time frame and moved to the park from various parts of the south metro of the Twin Cities. Costumed interpreters teach about life on the frontier, farmstead and villages.

We'd never been to Murphy's Landing before, but with Juancho's recent budding interest in American history, I thought it would be a perfect place to go to this summer. Juancho has been especially interested in the history of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, so when I learned that Murphy's Landing opening weekend this year was a historical re-enactment of the Civil War, complete with an appearance from Old Abe himself, I knew we had to go! We had a great time learning all about history, meeting Abe Lincoln (who was a short chubby fellow...nothing resembling the 16th president except the suit and tophat!) and seeing how a one-room schoolhouse functioned, playing schoolyard games of the 19th century and various crafts and other things. I'm sure we'll be back again this fact the kids may even attend one of their "Pioneer Life" summer camps! It's always great when learning is disguised by great fun!

Here's the pics...

Laura & Angie wait patiently while Mom buys the tickets
Angie says "C'mon Mom!"

Juancho & Laura walking down the path into the frontier village

Angie has fun playing with pioneer schoolyard toys.
This one is a stick that doubles as a baton.
Looks like Angie is enjoying it...I know a
cheap gift to get her on her next birthday... :)

On the other hand, I probably won't be getting
stilts for Juancho...

...Laura either.
Minnesota's 5th Infantry Battalion demonstrates
how a cannon is loaded and fired. They fired
3 rounds...boy were they loud!

John & Laura pose by the cannon.
Angie was scared by the loud
blasts and decided she was going to
"stay away from that thing!"

Juancho intently watches and listens to
Abraham Lincoln's speech which told all about
his life and accomplishments. Since then
Juancho has been telling everyone that the Civil War
ended on April 9, 1865 and Abe Lincoln was shot
just 5 days later.

"Abe Lincoln" signs Juancho's biographical
book about the president, which Juancho brought
on this outing for the very purpose of getting it

We call these scenic shots on the banks of the Minnesota River our
"Pioneer Day Senior Portraits". Laura opted out...
here are John & Angie's shots...quite photogenic! :)

Juancho & Laura pose as gargoyles at the
top of the steps. They learned a new word this day...
it was "gargoyles".

One final shot of the 3 outside of one of the
authentic pioneer era homes.
What a fun (and educational) day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dinner on the Deck

Even though it isn't officially summer yet, we've been enjoying the benefits of the warmer planting flowers and veggies and our favorite - eating dinner outside on the deck! These pics of Juancho, Laura & Angie were taken a few days ago during our first 'Dinner on the Deck' of 2009!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

18 Months as Family

Friday, May 8, 2009 was our year and a half anniversary of our Gotcha Day. We love celebrating things here and 18 months as a family is definitely something to celebrate! So far our family celebration days have always included a meal at Los Andes, which is a Colombian and Ecuadorian restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. This place has an authentic 'Bandeja Paisa', which is a nationally recognized Colombian dish that our kids love. The meal at this restaurant is HUGE, so John and Laura always split it. They also are able to have a bottle of Pony soda (a malted pop beverage...definitely an acquired taste!) or a Colombiana soda (a type of orange pop). Sometimes dessert, but we are usually too full by then.

The menu includes "Cuy Asado", which is Roasted Guinea Pig! We haven't tried that yet (nor will we ever...), but were a little curious what the unnamed meat in our 'carne empanadas' might be! They were yummy nonetheless! :)

Our friends Ty & Cassie joined us on our 18 Month Celebration of family - we loved having them along! Here are pics...

Goofy Dressel Family pic...

Juancho & Dad - he's loving his 'bandeja paisa'

Laura is also enjoying her fave Colombian meal and Pony soda!

Little Angie LOVES her Papi!

The Dressel Crew...looking a little more 'normal'
(Why do you think Robert & I look so tired?!?) :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

5th Grade Track & Field Day

Do you remember the Track & Field days that perhaps you had in school back in 5th and 6th grade? At John & Laura's school, they have special Track & Field days for all grades. Yesterday (Friday, May 8th) was John's Track & Field Day.
John is strong and fast, but doesn't routinely engage in overly-physical play. He will probably be doing a soccer camp this summer, and loves to ride his bike with his dad or place chase with the neighborhood kids, but isn't exceptionally athletic. He is, however, extremely competitive! So I wondered how Track & Field day would go for him.

I got to the school with my fold out chair and my backpack of sustaining goodies for the boy (and he routinely came to me saying "Mom, I'm hungry!" I found out that John would be competing in the 50 yard dash, the ball kick (distance) and the egg/spoon race.

Before every race John would come running over to me saying "Mom, I'm nervous!" and I'd repeat the same reassurances back to him "Do your best. Doing your best means that no matter what place you come in, you gave it your all! You'll do great!" But the whole mumbo-jumbo about how it didn't matter what place he came in was entirely lost on John. He is extremely competitive, right? So 1st or 2nd place it needed to be...otherwise it was failure in his mind.

50 yard dash went by in a...flash! John crossed the finish line milli-seconds after the John got his first 2nd place! I wanted to take a picture of him right there on the finish line, but in a split second decision (after he realized that the entire 5th grade population was just feet away from him), he said "no Mom, that's embarrassing!" Later I was able to snap this unsuspecting pic! The red wristbands indicate a 2nd place win, and the white wristband indicates 'participation' (meaning he didn't get 1st or 2nd prize on that event).

The other event he got 2nd in was the ball kick. The competition was to kick a kickball the farthest. John's went off center...if it had been a straight kick I think he would have easily gotten first! (spoken by a true proud mama, huh?)

He was not at all pleased that there was an event he did that he didn't place in. In fact he came in dead last. The event was the egg/spoon race, and this race does not work for overly competitive boys who want to move as fast as they can in a race, but with this race, moving slowly and more methodically is what wins it for him. His egg dropped constantly as he tried to move as fast as he could across the field. After picking it up multiple times, the rest of the crowd got ahead of him and he came in...last. He was not so happy and brought his blanket over to sit by me and sulk for a while. But about the time the class tug-of-war competition came around, he was ready to snap out of it.

After the event was done, we got to meet up with Daddy (who had to miss the event because of a work meeting he couldn't change) and went out to eat for lunch before John went back to school for the rest of the day.

Juancho with his friends

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Easter Baskets & Egg Hunts

After church we came home and the kids changed their clothes. They did mention that they must not be getting Easter baskets this year because they didn't find any on the table like they did last year before church. But while they were up changing, I brought the baskets out of hiding and as they came down the stairs they discovered their baskets and the fun things within.

After that I took PJ outside (and secretly hid a bunch of eggs for a hunt) and came back in to let the kids know that when I was out with PJ, I saw a BUNCH of Easter eggs all over the place! They were pretty excited!

Later that day when the cousins came over, we made Resurrection Rolls and the kids had a blast doing that! It was great because when their roll came out empty inside they could each tell the story of why the 'tomb' was empty. Then they happily gobbled up the yummy rolls!

Tia Michelle with Juancho (above) and I (below)