Friday, July 30, 2010

Look what I came home to!

After spending a whole week in Cleveland, we arrived back home late afternoon yesterday. We had a ton of fun... spent a ton of money... and made a ton of memories. But more of that later, when my pics are all uploaded and edited.

I wanted to share what I came home to... my very first blog award. :)

Thanks, Melanie, for the blog love! If you haven't read Mel's blog, you should. She always makes me smile. And my favorite posts of hers are the Not Me Mondays posts... because I can so easily relate! Oh! And she's clearing off her nightstand with book giveaways right now! Go! Enter!

So from what I understand I now tell you seven {very random} things about me. So here goes...

1. I despise cilantro. I chalk it up to when I lived in Ecuador and had to eat Ecuadorian food. And most Ecuadorian food has a lot of cilantro in it. Or at least in my mind it does. Ew.

And that leads me to...

2. I lived in Ecuador. Twice. The first time I went with a group of kids (of course we weren't kids back then, but man, that was ten years ago!) for a semester abroad in college. Then, after college graduation I returned with a good friend of mine to teach for a semester.

3. I get really excited for alone time when grandma and grandpa take Luke for a day or four. Then, I complain because it's too quiet in the house and I'm bored.

4. I just bought a Nook for myself. Well, technically, Joel bought it for me and I bought one for him. Early Christmas presents. But we do this every year- this buying early Christmas presents thing. And we still end up getting each other Christmas presents at Christmas time.

5. I want another child. I've wanted one for about five years now. We've come close twice, but lost them early on in the pregnancy. I'm learning that God's plans are not always mine. And I'm ever-so-grateful he blessed us with Luke (who was a pleasant surprise, btw).

6. I have a farmer's tan. There. I said it.

7. I'm kind of liking this blogging thing. I just hope I can keep it up once the school year starts. (I'm a teacher, in case you didn't know. And that would make eight things about me.)

And now it's time to pass along the award. Today's recipients are...

Shannan from Flower Patch Farmgirl

Heather from The Life of a Modern Day Hippie

And my hubby at Too Long for 140, who won't follow the directions and resend to anyone else, gets it anyway

Friday, July 23, 2010

Travel Tips.

Because we've traveled every summer with Luke... throwing in a few weekend trips & day trips throughout the rest of the year, I feel like we've got this traveling with kids thing down pat.

Here are some tips that make things bearable in the Kratzer-mobile.

1. Road Trip Car Games- We have travel bingo and a wipe-off board for the license plate game. I saw at Target a few days ago a few travel games in their luggage section that I may go back and get- tic-tac-toe, hangman, another version of bingo. Also, in this month's Family Fun magazine they have four pages worth of new & really fun car games. (Actually, the entire magazine this month has a lot of end-of-summer/road trip ideas!)

This is our travel bingo. I got it from "the book man" who brings books and stuff to our school to buy. It's so much fun!

2. Washable markers & colored pencils and a notebook- we don't bring crayons. We don't want melted crayons all over the backseat. :) Genius I know. But Luke loves to draw. And write. Sometimes he'll write adventure stories. Sometimes he'll just write. I like a spiral notebook because the pages stay together and the backseat doesn't look like a paper recycling plant when we get to the hotel. Throw in Do You Doodle? and there goes an hour of the trip.

3. White board and dry erase markers. I keep these up front with me. But it's a fun way to write secret messages to Luke (and a great way to practice his reading without him even know it!). Or it's a great way to keep track of how many miles we've already traveled and how many there are to go. Take it a step further (and it makes for less stuff to bring) and play the road trip games on them.

4. Mix. I can't say it enough. This trusty snack has gone with us on vacations and road trips for as long as I can remember. Each time it's a little different. This year our mix consists of Reece's Puffs cereal, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cheerios, bite-sized chocolate chip grahams, cheese crackers (usually it's goldfish but we had these already and went with it), Reece's Pieces, M&Ms, peanuts... I think that's it. Some years we'll throw in pretzels, marshmallows, chocolate chips (but those DO melt!), almonds, cashews, chocolate covered raisins, yogurt covered raisin... the possibilities are endless!

5. Water bottles with a sports cap or straw. No spills. No whining, "I'm thiiiiiirsty!" Unless you or your husband is anything like my dad. He always liked to make us wait until our eyeballs were yellow, which was usually at the hotel, fifteen hours away from our last stop. If that's the case, leave the water at home and deal with the whining. They'll thank you in twenty years. By the way, I have a new favorite water bottle. Nathan water bottles have straws that don't leak and it makes me constantly drink water.

6. Your camera. Who says you have to wait until you're at your destination to start taking pictures? Now that most everyone has gone digital, hand the camera over to the kids and let them take pictures. Last December, Luke spent half a trip taking pictures of who knows what. I saved a few and deleted the rest.

7. Books and magazines. We have to go easy on the books while traveling in our family. I get sick if I read just one line of something. And I'm afraid Luke is slowly following in my footsteps. He can handle an hour or so before he starts getting queasy. But if you are able, reading is an awesome way to pass the time. Take turns reading a page or a book to each other!

8. Portable DVD player. We love this thing. And now with the invention of the Red Box, we can grab a movie before we leave and switch it at a town three hours away if we need! Don't forget the headphones!

9. Hand-held games. Electronic or not- Nintendo DS, PSP, Rubik's Cube, or download a few game apps on your phone. Luke loves Spongebob memory or Super Mario puzzles (you remember those little handheld plastic things with the squares that you have to rearrange until you have a complete picture? It's on my phone now. :) ).

10. A pillow. Ah, yes. This one is my favorite. I love to sleep in the car. Have you ever used a travel neck pillow? Heaven I tell you. I sleep like a baby when I use one. My poor husband didn't know what he got himself into when he married me. Long, quiet, lonely road trips. Ha!

11. Baby wipes. They're great for everything- cleaning up spills, wiping mouths, blowing noses. Throw a tub of 'em in your car and go!

12. Plastic grocery bags. Reuse and bring a few to use as trash bags in the car. Makes for an easy clean-up one you arrive at your destination.

13. A little tote or tub. If you like to stay organized, keep everything in a little tote or tub. We just got Luke a new one from 31 Gifts to keep his stuff in the backseat.

Happy travels!
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vacation is upon us...

We make a point to go somewhere each summer. Lately, it's just been somewhere to one of the neighboring states. Chicago last year... Cleveland this year. But it's somewhere. And it's good to get away, no matter how far.

Like I said this year is a trip to Cleveland. Joel and I went to Cleveland for our first anniversary. We visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We went to an Indians game.
(Actually, Luke was with us, too, and we have a picture of him at the game. Okay, it was my belly, but he was there!)

So anyway, we enjoyed that trip so we thought we'd make another trip there, this time with Luke outside of my body. ;) Usually I'm the one making the game plan- researching what's suitable for families and what sites are the best to see. But this year, Joel has it planned. We're heading to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame again, of course.

And another Indians game, which the guys are all ready with their jerseys & hats.

But this time we're going to the Great Lakes Science Center...

and to Cuyahoga Falls National Park to maybe find some geocaches and take in the awesomeness of God's creation.

And we're even going to head to visit my in-laws for a few days in their new-ish home!

I have to admit. Until now I haven't been too excited about this year's vacation. Maybe it's because I didn't get to do the planning. Maybe it's because I know that school is just around the corner when we return home. Maybe it's just the fact that I have to get the house ready for my cousin Brent to come and stay for a week with the dog.

But I'm over it. And even though this house is still in need of some attention. Even though school will still start a week and a half after we get back. Even though I didn't do the planning. I'm super excited to spend some quality time with my two favoritist boys in the whole world.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

crazy love.

So I'm reading this book. It's called crazy love by Francis Chan. Raise your hand if you've heard of it. Raise your hand if you've read it. Now raise your hand if you loved it.

I'm only on the second chapter and already I'm glued. It's not often I can find a book that wisps my attention immediately. Especially a nonfiction-type. But this one. It got me from the get-go.

As I was elipticalling away at the gym tonight, I read. And one section that I read today really stuck out to me. Well, lots of sections, but this one I'm going to share with you.

"We are programmed to focus on what we don't have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace. This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God. We forget that we already have everything we need in Him. Because we don't often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worth to be worshipped and loved. We are to fear Him."

How often, when I'm "in a funk," do I head to Target to shop away the blues? Or if I can't get out alone, I hop online and zone into the cute new styles at Old Navy or adore the creativeness at etsy? Is it okay for me to shop? You'd better darn believe it is! However, it's not okay to try to fill the need for God with shopping. Or with exercising. Or being with friends. Or being a neat-freak. (Okay, that one I'm safe from...) You get the picture. It's not okay to fill that void with anything but God.

I'm going to end this post with another blurb from the book.
(There are so many blurbs I want to share, but I'm afraid I'd be arrested for plagiarizing, so just buy the book and read it for yourself.)

"Each of us, to some degree, fools our friends and family about who we really are. But it's impossible to do that with God. He knows each of us, deeply and specifically. He knows our thoughts before we think them, our actions before we commit them, whether we are lying down or sitting or walking around. He knows who we are and what we are about. We cannot escape Him, not even if we want to. When I grow weary of trying to be faithful to Him and want a break, it doesn't come as a surprise to God."
And He still loves me. Wow.
Monday, July 19, 2010

Brought to you by this delicious breakfast...

One of my friends posted a Facebook status that had me drooling yesterday morning. Baked Peach Oatmeal. Of course I had to get the recipe. And fortunately for Luke and me, I had everything I needed to make it this morning. Oh my word. It's so delish! I made two and a half times the recipe so I could give some away, which is why my quantities look so huge.

Pick out 1-2 ripe, juicy peaches. Peel them & slice them thinly or chop them. I sliced and then chopped them.

Mouth watering yet? Just wait...

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the peaches, except for a handful to put on top of the oatmeal.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

It's done baking when the edges are toasty brown and the middle is set.

Dish into a bowl and pour warm milk over the top. (If you eat it straight out of the oven, the oatmeal will warm up your milk & the milk will cool down the oatmeal... perfect!) Enjoy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Sunday! Time for more layouts!

I didn't have as much time this week to scrap, but I managed to pump out four new layouts this week. :) Woot woot!

Credits: Happy Dance by Eva Kipler (retired), Stick It Dates by Darcy Baldwin, Kristin Writes font by Darcy Baldwin, Template by Jen Tapler for Paper Craft Planet's July Scrappy Sunday Challenge

Memories. Preserved. templates 13-16 by Susan Robinson Designs, Gotta Get Away by Penny Springmann

Credits: Room to Write Layout Builders by Amanda Heimann Designs, Flying High by Dani Mogstad, Everybody Wins alpha by Libby Weifenbach, Dynomite Words by Traci Reed (retired), Alpha Files No. 5 by Krystal Hartley

Credits: Memories. Preserved. Templates 13-16 by Susan Robinson Designs, So Much to Say by Lauren Grier, Bliss Alpha by Lauren Reid, Everybody Wins Alpha by Libby Weifenbach, Gimme Space font by Darcy Baldwin & Lauren Reid, Painted Alpha by Fee Jardine (retired)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

random ramblings.

So I have a small list of "things to do before summer is over." It really started sinking in this week. I've only done one thing on that list. And summer is basically over in 2 and a half weeks. I need to get busy!

The one thing I have checked off my list is the garage sale. It wasn't so much to have a garage sale, but to declutter my house & basement and get a little cash out of it. We managed to make almost $250 in two days! I was so proud of myself- I actually sent a LOT of the leftover to Goodwill! It felt SO good not to bring that junk home.

*I kept the kids clothes to take to the new local kids' consignment shop, who gives you 50% of what she makes. Not too shabby!

*The baby bedding I'm going to relist on Craigslist for less than I had it before.

*The GeoTrax I am going to offer them at bargain price to two different people who came to the garage sale for their preschool/daycare. If they don't want it, bargain price to Craigslist.

And that should take care of what's left. WOOT!

Today I'm going to go to Target. I'm going to get new cute sandals. I'm thinking either wedge or t-strap. I got a cute new dress for $14 at

You like? I love. And it's SO comfy. And that's the 2nd dress I've bought this summer. That's double of what I've bought since I've been married.

Back to my list of things to do before summer is out.

We want to have a Back to School Bash with an outdoor movie. How fun would that be? But it's going to have to be planned QUICK. Like this weekend. Because we want to have it in less than two weeks. EEP! We'd been wanting to do an outdoor movie for awhile, but Family Fun reminded me in their latest issues, which arrived yesterday.

But as my hubby and I were chatting about it. It doesn't really get dark until 9:30 or 10 (thank you Mr. Daniels for adopting DST for Indiana. Boo.) And the Friday before school starts... most people are trying to reinstall an early bedtime for their kids. So poo. Maybe we can just have a back to school bash without the outdoor movie. And save the outdoor movie for Labor Day. Because, well, having a BBQ with friends is another thing to do before school, and it could be a Back to School BBQ Bash. Right?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Books for the little ones...

I started reading to Luke when he was in-utero. I'm not even sure he could hear yet. But when you're a 2nd grade teacher and you read aloud on a daily basis, it just works out that way. Right? Once he was born, I still made a point to read to him each day. These were some of his favorite books (and mine!).

Whose Baby Am I? by John Butler

My favorite thing about the book? The pictures! Those babies are TOO adorable!

Here are a few others by the same author/illustrator: Whose Nose & Toes?, Who Says Woof?, Can You Cuddle Like a Koala?.

Another favorite of ours, especially right before bed, is Time for Bed by Mem Fox.
This soft story practically lulls you to sleep with it's rhyming & repetition... but in a good way.

And lastly, the book I swear I've read a million times. Ten Little Racing Cars (although I think ours is Ten Little Race Cars... same book, though.)
"Race cars, race cars ready set go... uh, oh purple car's way too slow." Yep, I still remember the words. And I give partial credit to this book for Luke learning his colors at age two.

*sigh* These books take me back. Makes me miss my baby. *sniff*

Happy reading!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good eats, gorgeous beach, beautiful family.

On Saturday we loaded into the car and headed north. Our first stop was the Lighthouse Place in Michigan City. It's an outlet mall. We love outlet malls. And we were good boys and girl. Joel and Luke each got a hat to wear to the Indians game in a couple of weeks. Joel got a pair of $8 jeans from Old Navy. And we hit the Pepperidge Farm outlet and the Harry and David outlet. Luke begged for a bag of fried green peas after trying their sample. So he got it. Why not?

Before leaving the outlet mall, we met someone who wanted to buy one of our Craigslist items (see a couple of posts below). Then, we headed up Red Arrow Highway to our next destination, New Buffalo, Michigan.

(so long, toy organizer!)

New Buffalo is home to my favorite beach within a few hours drive ever. It's small. It's clean. It's beautiful. And every time I'm there, we drive by this cute little restaurant and I want to eat there every. single. time. Well, my wish came true this time. I finally set foot in and got to enjoy the yumminess of The Stray Dog.

Luke had macaroni and cheese (big shocker there, I know). Joel had a Chicago dog. And I had the Windward Turkey Burger. It was SO good. I love guacamole on anything, though. After we were seated (we waited about 15 minutes), we were in and out within about 40 minutes. And our server was the best!

It's good they were fast, because we were meeting some friends at the beach to take their family pictures. Thanks, Clouses, for entrusting me with your family photos... I'm so not a professional so I always get a little worried before I take pictures of anyone. God was looking down on us with favor because he gave us the most gorgeous skies and the most perfect weather. And as soon as it was a little too dark for pictures, in rolled a thunderstorm.

Here are a few of my favorites from the photo shoot.

And one last photo from that night... it was fabulous.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More pages to show off this week...

I only did four pages this week, two of which I'm not the most excited about. But they're done, nonetheless. Woo hoo! And I think the last three are some of my favorites!

credits: All I Want for Christmas by Penny Springmann, Alpha Files No. 6 by Krystal Hartley

credits: Battle for the Galaxy by Lauren Grier & Penny Springmann

Credits: Chill Out by Dani Mogstad, Scraps to Go v.6 Template by Jennifer Fox Designs, Alpha Files No.5 by Krystal Hartley

Two Page Layout- Credits: 2-Pagers Template Set #3 by Penny Springmann, Independent by Nikki Epperson & Shawna Clingerman, Kristin Writes font by Darcy Baldwin

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I'm Kristin. Married since 2002 to a super cool guy named Joel. We have a super amazing boy named Luke and a super cuddly pup named McCarthy. I'm not a very consistent blogger (at all) but I do go in spurts. I like to keep people on their edge of their seats. Ha!
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