I was born and grew up in the great state of Wisconsin.  My upbringing and youth made me who I am today. My parents provided a wonderful upbringing for myself, along with my older brother and sister. We lived in the middle of farm country, on a few acres, and my parents set the example of working and playing hard.

I was fortunate to grow up in a time when we spent hours outside, at the creek, playing with neighbors, bike riding, and rollerskating.  Winter brought the fun of sledding, snow forts, and ice fishing.  Inside we played board and card games.  We didn’t watch much TV as a family. That seemed to be saved for Sunday nights. I mostly remember watching The Dukes of Hazard!

My parents also set the stage for hospitality and investing in relationships with others.  I was blessed to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that we visited with.  We also had wonderful neighbors and friends of my parents that we regularly enjoyed fellowship with.

Death of loved ones also played a key in making me who I am.  When I was about three, my Grandpa Schmidt passed away.  I have a clear memory of him grabbing me with his cane while he was sitting in his chair, and his laughing eyes and smiling face.  My next memory is standing by his graveside service.  My Grandpa Nelson passed away when I was in third grade so I have many more memories of him.  Calling me Snicklefritz, serving us brown sugar water, the noise he made with his hands, counting my vertebrae, half a piece of gum, his love and smile.  A neighbor and family friend, Bill Weiss,  was a pilot that lost his life in an airplane crash. He had two teenage children that we were friends with, I remember watching them walk through that time.

Why do I mention these deaths? They truly made me know the value of life and people at a young age.  Life is too short to not make things right, live everyday as your last.

As a kid, I loved to create things; sewing, crafting, painting, woodworking. I also loved to read,  and played the piano and trumpet.  I was involved in team sports, which also shaped me.  We took a family vacation every other year or so, and those travels instilled a love of traveling, especially road trips!  North, South, East, and West we traveled to some great places together, creating fun memories.

Fishing was probably my very favorite thing to do.  I have so many memories of fishing with my brother, and he was always patient with lost lures, snags, and helping take fish off the line.  My Dad also rented a boat for a few years in a row, and we enjoyed a day out fishing on a lake somewhere in WI.  Take this girl fishing and you’ve made me happy!

After high school I trekked off to Alaska on a great adventure.  What an amazing time in my life in an even more awesome and majestic part of the world.  I worked at Subway, nanny jobs, and then as a respite care provider for families with special needs children.  After marrying my husband, I also worked in a daycare for children.

After our first son was born, we made the move to Missouri.  We wanted to raise our family in a different location, plus my husband doesn’t care for snow much (Alaska is not the best place to avoid that!)

With a desire to keep our kids at home, I started to babysit children in our home, and I also started Bear Paw Creek in 2000, creating and sewing up movement props, bags and totes for instruments and storage.  By 2003 I was able to stop the home daycare, and continue to focus on Bear Paw Creek. We had added our second child by that time.

We also made the decision to home school our children.  That has become a part of our daily routine, as I see learning as something you are always doing.  I learn something new everyday, and hope to instill that love of learning into our children.  We now have eight beautiful children to love on.

I have had this blog in my mind for several years and decided it would be my 40th birthday present to myself to get it online.  It has been inspired by many things, but the idea came from one of the most common questions I get from people, “How do you do it all?”  (Second common question, “Are they all yours?”)

My first answer is God’s grace!  A glimpse into some of the application of it, will be shared here.

I hope it may bring encouragement and hope to you!