Friday, March 30, 2012

Terrific Temps

The temps outside are just amazing, yesterday I even had enough time to get a tanning session AND a workout session in. Bonus!

I also found a neat new app for working out, try it out, it's called MapMyRun. I like using it so far, it's fairly simple to navigate.The features of using your GPS to "map" out where you ran were pretty cool also, it's kind of pointless for me out here in the country but those in town it would be neat to see the different routes you have ran. At first I thought it was awesome that it would give you data like how fast you are running (mph), the actual speed (minutes to run a mile) you're running and also it gives you options to enter in your food/calorie intake. Yup, really cool until it told me that I was running a ten minute mile... Let me tell you, it's really depressing hearing that as in high school I was running a 5:34 mile for track and cross country. Quite a difference and that alone has encouraged me to get into shape!

After my run I decided to start prepping the area where I plan to do a little landscaping and flower planting this year. I loaded up a couple buckets full of old wood shavings, leaves and some pine needles that needed to get thrown out and threw them in the pen only to have curious ponies digging around in them.

Even after I finished all of these tasks it was still light out so I rewarded myself by plopping taking a seat in the hammock chair and got back into a book I've been reading. It's such a relaxing way to get away from the realities of stress and constant strain. I have always had a hate/hate relationship with books until more recently and have learned to use them as my escape.

This year's goal for flower planting is to keep them alive throughout the WHOLE summer and into fall if possible. It seems I set this goal every year and yet the watering thing doesn't happen so they obviously die quickly. Here are some shots I had time to take before it got too dark last night, these are all natural flowers that were growing on the yard that have been around for years. Quite gorgeous and amazing how God creates such precious things!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

God Would Approve

So about a year ago I was bumming Lincoln with my mom. She's an avid fan of Goodwill's (as if you didn't already know that) and once in awhile I'll find some cute decor inspiration ideas. While browsing one day I came across the book section and started to check it all out. I love finding old books that look like cute decor accents and use some of the old books for the worn/torn pages inside to make projects. I found a neon colored paperback book and grabbed it up to see what it was about. Just skimming it looked interesting, something about girls that meet up and become friends at a "God" conference. What really caught my attention was the title, "Yada Yada Prayer Group". What an interesting title right?!

I took it home and threw it in a pile assuming if I had time I'd check it out later. A couple months later as I'm moving piles cleaning I found the book and decided to give it a try and start reading it. I FELL IN LOVE! Like have you ever read one of those books where you felt like you just could not put it down? Well, that's what this one was. It was a full 416 pages worth of great information. Not just information about praying and talking to God, but about friendships, crime, different cultures, racism, death and many other things.

While reading this book I realized I wanted to make my relationship with God stronger. I knew I had been putting my religion on the back burner here the past few years but this book really inspired me to really look into my Christianity and dig around, get to know God a little more.

I learned a lot about my relationship with the big man and I also learned new ways to pray (weird right?). I also learned to be thankful for the situation that I'm in at the moment, both the positive and negative ones. Instead of "begging" for what I wanted to say thank you and I'm yours to use as a learning tool for others. The book really made me open my eyes and realize that God has been working on miracles for me since I was little, he's been giving me millions of opportunities that other's have never been able to experience.

I was kind of bummed with how the book finished, it was like a cliff hanger, just leaving me there grasping on needing more. I then realized it was book #1 of a SEVEN part series. Once I found this out, B&N was my first stop in Lincoln that very next weekend. I read through the series and found myself feeling closer to God with each book. I really got to know the characters and saw some of them carrying over into my life and would always smile thinking of these characters. I really found comfort in these books. It was like mysteriously these books were "sent" to me to find. But like any book, the series ended and I felt like part of me was being put in timeout. I loved the whole entire series and was totally torn about it being over already. I have this issue where once I finish a book I feel lost, almost like something's missing, imagine how I felt after a whole series was done. I was trying to figure out what to do with my spare time, there was a giant void.

Once finishing with this series I discovered there's a spin-off series by the same author called, "Yada Yada House of Hope Series". The same author wrote a completely seperate series of books again! Thankfully she didn't let me down, she knew I needed something in my life from her. ;) She used the same characters but based it off of another lady's view of some of the situations that Jodi (the main character from the other series) faced. These books were just as good and I would recommend reading this series once finished with the Yada's.

While looking at the website for the author I discover that the author's husband is creating a man's version of the series, so far it's a two book series but I sure hope he finishes up more as I'm super addicted to these two authors!

I'm not a big reader by any means and I'm luckily if I finish a book in one year besides the occasional school reads but honestly, I'm not getting paid to preach this I'm just letting you know this book is worth it! If you'd like to borrow my set please do so! (Just make sure I get them back)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Craft Shows Coming Up

We've got THREE craft shows coming up in our area! As a joint effort me and Julie have decided to be in charge of organizing some fun shows for you guys. We felt like our area didn't have any major shows and wanted to give local vendors a chance to show off their goodies. Here's the information about the shows:

Saturday, March 24th in Wilber at the Big Legion Building (in the Legion Park) from 9am to 3pm

Sunday, March 25th in Crete at the Wanek Community Building (north of Great Western Bank, east of the Crete Mills) from 11 am to 4 pm

Saturday, April 28th in Dorchester at the Community Building (on mainstreet) from 9 am to 3 pm

We hope to see you there, it's nice to know our local communities are helping our the fellow locals with our small business'! We're excited to show you our products and with Spring releases of items and tons of holidays coming up now is a great time to stock up on some things!

A list of some of the vendors include: Scentsy, Pampered Chef, Thirty-One, RLM Creations, Knives, The Odd Shop, Italian Fusion, Tupperware, Pretty & Fabulous, Usborne Books, MaryKay, Thirty-One, Cassandra's Door Decor & More, Watkins/Amway, Purseonalities, Discovery Toys, Tastefully Simple, Vault Denim, Crafts by Linda, Papa Bears Carvings, Miche Bags/Purses, Danni Lee Baby Boutique, Avon, Beauty & The Beads, Body Bi Vi, Signature Home Styles, and MANY MORE!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Years Later...

Look at us going strong! I cannot believe two years ago today we officially entered into the dating world.

It's great to know that two years later we can still laugh, joke around and have fun together. Sometimes we act like little kids but luckily that's the type of relationship I want to be in, the type where it's ok to have fun and forget the worries of the world just for a moment or two. It amazes me how someone as quite and laid back as Travie is willing to put up with someone as loud and crazy as me!

It's a blessing I really believe as I've never had anyone as understanding and caring as Trav. I hate to go into the mushy crap but it's great to have a bestie to hang out with daily.

He's been there through good and bad, through my "queenzilla" days and through everything else. God has a way  of making things work out in the end and I think this time he's got it all going in the right direction!

Looking back I can remember many of our "firsts" together, at the time they seemed sometimes scary, first time meeting each other's families, we made it through them. I know we will in the future have many more "firsts" together (or I should hope we do I guess) but for now, we'll just enjoy the moment and the first "two years later" night together.

We are a work in progress with a lifetime contract -Phyllis Koss

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where Did That Weekend Go?

This weekend FLEW by! We were quite the busy bees all weekend though.

Friday night was dedicated to the Wilber Czech Kick-Off where the Alumni Band played a few songs and welcomed our new band leader, Russ Workman! It was a bitter-sweet moment for us, as we finally realized our band leader DJ was not coming back but was there with us in spirit but we also were able to open up the door to a new leader and let Russ help us work our way into the future! I cannot wait to go on "tour" this summer and go to many Czech Festivals and parades around the area and bring our music to others. Let's just hope our bodyguards have been practicing, CA CAW, CA CAW! ;) Another event that took place was the crowning of the Wilber Czech Queen! Congratulations Anna Beck, you're going to do a great job this year and I cannot wait to see you take this journey and learn many new things about our heritage. And lastly to finish up the night, Chelewski Boys played some great tunes. We of course stayed too late and payed for it in the morning, but it was great spending time with family and friends. It's great to know I've found a guy who understands my love for my heritage and music. We can never turn down a good Czech meal with polka's playing in the background. ;)

Saturday was recovery day, not much done just a little work, then off to Tabor for another night of polkas. We listened to the Czechland Trio for awhile, enjoyed some yummy pork, kraut and dumplings and then headed home early. Boring night but it was good to just have some relaxation time.

Sunday was busy busy again. We went into town to eat with Trav's grandparents and then came home to get some serious work done. We ended up picking up about three miles worth of fence. Not just picking up post, but the whole nine yards as in picking it up, unloading the posts, and then winding up the wire. Trav seemed to trust me with the tractor so it wasn't too labor intensive, I got to listen to the radio and drive the tractor around. Can't get any easier right!? While waiting for him to wind the wire I had time to snap this great shot of our ponies, puppy and kitties. Great shot of all of our little farm buddies! By the time we finished that it was dark so we ended up doing cattle chores in the dark and then made it in the house by nine-ish. Wish that would have been the end to the day but when I got in the house was still in shambles. So I ended up cleaning and trying to get the house into working order for the following week. Jeez, busy life being on a farm I must say!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring has Sprung

It looks like everything is blooming already which means it's time for me to get my booty in gear and start planning our garden. Funny how with the eighty degree temps it feels like Mother Nature skipped straight through Spring and decided to cast summer upon us. Hey I'm not complaining I'm just wondering if Old Man Winter maybe got firmly asked by Mother Nature to leave us alone for one year here in Nebraska.

So here's an example of what I'd love for my garden to look like, straight pretty rows, no weeds, lots of varieties ------->

But reality, mine won't be that pretty or big. I'm just looking at getting enough crop to feed us through the summer and maybe get lucky enough to freeze or can some to get us through the winter. My basic objective is to become more self sufficient and depend less on grocery store produce.
This year my biggest goal is to keep weed populations to a minimum! Last year was horrible, everything got out of control and I was downright embarrassed for neighbors who stopped by to see my garden. This year things will (hopefully) be different. I've been searching everywhere for tips on how to minimalize weeds in your garden and I came across something that just made sense, to use damp newspaper. I mean HELLO, why didn't I think of that?! Simple, cheap and biodegradable. I know I'll have to add some mulching on top otherwise it wouldn't exactly stay in place but this is genius. I try to avoid mulching because mulch attracts snacks. <<<Snakes=Freak-out-by-Kelsey>>> Ya, it just doesn't go well. I'm considering using grass clippings if possible but not sure how much access we'll have to those.

Another lesson I learned from last year's disaster was to make sure that I plant according to timing it says on the package. I guess it's on there for a reason after all? I planted things when I had time to get out there and some were timed wrong so I had radish's that were too (spicy) hot, carrots that didn't grow bigger than 1/2 inch,  pumpkins in August and my cucumbers burned up. I'm determined to actually follow the packages this year and try to stick with a better system.

I started charting and jotting down notes on things so I can remember next year what worked and didn't work for me. I'm such an OCD person when it comes to other things why am I not doing it with my gardening? So this year I've started printing off spreadsheets with seed placements, dates planted, layouts of my garden and many other details in it. We'll see how well I stick with my system but I'd love to keep this up for when I go to plant in the future.

I planted some flower seeds into flats yesterday and since it's so nice out I decided to leave them out and let the seedlings enjoy a little sun time. I'm planning on stopping at picking up some seeds so I can have some veggie seeds on hand when I get the itch to start planting those also. Here goes nothing, lets hope the 2012 garden produces more than lasts years epic fail.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Earning FREE Gift Cards

So, I love freebies (obviously) and I've found some ways to find freebies for little effort on my part. I've found some sites like Superpoints and Swagbucks. I like these sites because by just doing simple tasks I normally do daily I can build up "points" and cash them in for gift cards and other items.

On Superpoints basically the break-down is you sign up for it. You spin or click a "SuperLucky Wheel" button and then it rewards you with points. Some spins you don't win anything others you can win 25 points a shot. Also, they send you an e-mail daily with some points. I've gotten 50 points through an e-mail before! It takes awhile to build up enough points to actually cash them in but hey, if all I have to do to get $10 cash loaded into my PayPal account is spin a button daily I'm all for it!

Swagbucks is run kind of the same way. If you follow them on Facebook they typically give out codes that you can copy onto your account and get points. You can participate in daily polls and get points and complete offers. I don't stay as active with this site but I still enjoy the getting a chance to earn freebies and you can use your points to cash in and enter into drawings for bigger prizes if you'd like. I'm not a gambling person so I choose to save my points to cash in towards things I know I can use.

Another site that has a way to earn gift cards is Q Tipping Mom, their site has just started this new program so it is kind of in it's trial stage. They've only got a couple of good prizes up so far but Starbucks and Barnes & Noble are my fav's so I'm willing to give it a try. All you have to do is check the site daily, it'll give you 100 points for going there, and then if you choose to look at the other points opportunities it typically gives you the option to "tweet" about them and earn another 100 points. I typically do just because I don't use my twitter for anything and I figured I may as well spam it up. If you comment on their articles you can also earn more points. I'm still debating if I like this site and their points system but as of now I'm in second place on their leader board and am about 400 points away from being in first place!

Both sites work great and I've looked into other sites but these are really the only two I've found useful so far. Do you guys have any sites that you've used? I'd love to find more sites that require little effort on my part but I can earn free stuff off of!

Wedding Bells on a Sunny Saturday

This weekend we were blessed with getting to see our dear friends Tim and Kristi get married! The wedding was gorgeous and I loved their simple country wedding theme they choose! Travis was lucky enough to be an Usher for this event so we got to help the couple all weekend.

The church was absolutely stunning, it was built in the 1970's and it was fairly accurate to what it looked like back then. It was near Hampton out in the country on top of a hill. Most of the interior was still decorated like it was when they first built it, including all of the old brass chandeliers, the baby pink tin embossed tiles, the blue/teal/pinkish colored walls, the balcony seating and even wooden bench pews. The colors were kind of different but back then that must have been "cool" but none-the-less it was just a neat old church and the colors really made it show its true age, very very awesome! After talking to Kristi about the church the only thing that she said was really updated was that the bell had to be rebuilt because lightning struck it and started a fire. The ceremony was intimate and the whole wedding party looked so great in their brown and greens, what neat colors to use!

The reception was held at the York Community Center. I can remember for my cousin's wedding we were at the same place dancing the night away about ten years ago. Amazing how time flies, going from my biggest worry back then was how late my parents would let me stay up at the reception to now how late could I stay up without feeling exhausted the next morning. It brought back many memories but it was a time to make many new memories with a new freshly married couple!

I must admit they had THE BEST food ever! The rehearsal dinner they had the most delicious prime rib and chicken along with tons of sides, including some kolache which I just couldn't pass up. I am not even kidding when I was stuffed to the point of feeling sick to my stomach after eating all of the food that night. Not wanting the night to end too early we decided to head over to Apple Bee's afterwards. It was nice having some social time with friends we haven't seen in awhile.

We woke up and went to the Iron Skillet right down the road from where we stayed. Food was just as good, especially for a "truck stop" type of place. Then come wedding day they had even more great food! They had roast beef and chicken at the reception and that too was so good. I got fed really well the whole weekend that's for sure!!

The reception was great, plenty of friends to see, a lot of dancing and of course a little alcohol to help the couple celebrate such a great occasion. ;) A bonus, I CAUGHT THE BOUQUET from the bouquet toss! Wonder if it's a foreshadowing on new events I will someday soon be blogging?!

All in all the weekend was great and me and Travis were lucky enough to get to help a wonderful couple celebrate such a special milestone in their life. Congrats Tim & Kristi Keller!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Coupons, Yes I Have Time for Them and Have Been Reffered to as "That Crazy Coupon Lady"

I am a full time employee, a full time student, a Scentsy consultant, a part-time farmhand (on an absolutely last resort as needed type of basis), a maid, a cook, a personal shooper, a girlfriend and a family member to a huge Czech family. So that kind of takes up a lot of my time if you didn't know, but I also enjoy COUPONING!

I know, I know, how do you have time for it? Well, my answer, it's my hobby and I make time. It's my way to escape the "real world" and usually a way for me to avoid doing homework. ;) I have found that with couponing I can now afford more things that I really didn't budget for and I can also have a little extra cash I can start putting away for future house updates or unexpected costs that could will approach us at some point.

So here's one of my freebie hauls, it includes four Go-Paks of Nutter Butter Bites, Mini Oreos and Mini Chips Ahoy. One Herbal Essences hair spray, six packs of band-aids, three tubes of toothpaste, two deodorants (I liked the smell), and two packs of BIC pens. I paid only $6.42 for all of it! It retailed at well over $35, I would call that a win-win for me!

Check out my haul, it was only $6.42!

How you ask do I do such a task? Well, it really isn't easy to be honest. It does take time and research, if you follow sites like Q Tipping Mom or Coupon Divas they typically do what they call Round-Ups or Match-Ups with a ton of stores that makes it much easier to then match what is on sale with what coupons you have. They also have great links to other sites that can help you out also.

I've also made up my own spreadsheets based on what works best for me and my shopping needs. I divided it up into columns including, item, price match location, number of items to buy, sale price, coupon total, total, then retail price. It sounds confusing but I promise it's really not! Once you get the hang out jotting it all down you'll be more inclined to stick with your list and the impulse buys will reduce considerably. I also like keeping a list of all of the retail prices because it makes you feel like you're saving a heck of a lot more than just seeing what your subtotal with coupons is.

So for example, lets say that deodorant is $2 retail price, I have a $1/2 coupon ($1 off two items) and it's on sale for $1. So I'd have to buy 2 deodorants for $1 each equalling $2 plus my $1/2 coupon, I'd be paying only $1 for 2 deodorants! Makes you feel like you've saved a little but if you have the retail price you'll see that you really save $3!!

More tips and tricks to come I promise, stay tuned for more details about how I can survive off of a small shopping budget and saved over $800 in just six months!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Freebies Friday

So, what's better than coupons and sales? FREEBIES! Since I am a coupon addict, I also am a freebie addict. Whenever I find a good site that gives you updates on freebies and coupons I like to bookmark it, here's one site I've found very helpful with alerting you when new savings/freebies come out. Sample Stuff has great links to special promos that companies are doing and I love that they give you heads up when possible!

Although freebies are ideal coupons are also great and are considered the next best thing. ;) Alot of facebook sites will give away free products and also coupons for free products. As annoying as it is to have a million likes on fbook sometimes its worth it! I've scored tons of freebie items from companies of products I already buy. For example, ---->

I earned all those goodies throughout the last couple months from fbook sites and other offers that I watch! Great deals and less money out of my pocket on the items I already buy. Annoying on fbook for clogging my feed vs. free items just for filling out my e-maill addy and mailing addy? Sure, sounds easy enough!

But just a note of warning, yes they will send you junk mail so make up a different e-mail addy used strickly for couponing.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Queening All The Way

2010-2011 Wilber Czech Queen

I was the 2010-2011 Wilber Czech Queen for my hometown. It was an experience that is a life changer! I traveled to many new places and got to meet a ton of new people. I wanted to do a little review over it to fill all of you in on all the things that happened that year so here's my story.

A little background about me to begin with. My dad (Kelly Homolka) has been active playing in polka bands since he was 15 and even knows a little bit of the Czech language (he can hold conversations if you know Czech yourself). He plays just about any instrument you can think of, yes he can play a little guitar but likes to stick to the wind instruments if possible. My mom (Mary Zoubek-Homolka) met my dad while in high school, they both loved music and thus the love story began. They both have been extremely active with Czech Days and other Czech events and both of my parents have 100% Czech in their blood. Both sets of my grandparents have instilled many fun Czech activities and morals into us grandkids and we always have yummy Czech food at all of our holiday meals. I've been raised by a interesting wonderful Czech family with many Czech traditions, which have formed who I am today.

My support system! Without these two I wouldn't be who I am and where I am today! Love you both!

The main reason I decided to run for the Wilber Czech Queen title was because I'd wanted to be the Wilber Queen since I was little! I can remember going to the Czech Days parades (and participating in them) since before I was even born. Mom was 8 months prego marching through the parade with me in her big round tummy, I guess even back then the Czech music just made me a happy little camper. :) I was also the Wilber Czech Princess back in 1999-2000 so I had a little experience traveling and I had a great time with it! I had Chrissy Keller as my queen so it was a fun time making memories with the Kellers! Another reason I wanted to run was because I felt as an active community member I wanted to do my part to represent Wilber and spread the knowledge not only of my heritage, but of my community and what we do throughout the year to promote our Czech heritage.

A picture of me and "Papa Chuck" Charlie Keller. I was lucky enough to be his daughters little pricess 10 years prior to me running for queen! Great guy that ol Charles! ;)
Well, me being a nervous wreck worried and worried for two whole weeks before the "official interview." Once I got into the interview I did great though, worked myself up over nothing. I was pleased with myself and the interview I went through. At the time my Grandma, Dorothy Homolka, was sick so we were also helping her with getting to doctors appointments amoung many other things. She was rushed via ambulance to Lincoln one evening where they discovered an infection so it was that night that I called the queen commitee to see if there was a possible chance I could find out if I had gotten the title so I could tell grandma. Sure enough I recieved the title and was so excited that I got to tell grandma! Grandpa and Grandma Homolka were major influences in my Czech involvement so they meant the world to me and getting crowned queen I know made my grandparents proud.

Taken when I was crowned, we had the opportunity to get all of us together and I snuck a photo in of me getting to give grandma a kiss. It is a photo I will forever cherish!

By the time it came around for the Czech Kick-Off I was excited to finally be able to tell people I was getting crowned, it's usually kept a secret and just imediate family gets clued in on the big news. I am such a blabber mouth that this task was super impossible for me but I'm proud to admit I only told a couple friends. Crowning time came and I know my grandma didn't want to come, she felt she didn't want others to see her at that point. I was bummed that I wasn't going to have her there, so we went over to the nursing home to show her my new Kroj (costume) that we had made for my crowning. We walked into her room and she was gone! We were surprised to learn she had decided to come and watch me afterall. When I arrived I saw she was sitting there right in front ready to watch me take on the honor that I would be recieving. That alone made my crowning so much more special. I recieved my crown and sash and helped to "crown" my price and princess that night. We danced the night away to polkas and spent time with family and friends. It was just an awesome experience to see all of the people that came out to support the Wilber Czechs.

The "Royal Court" included my prince and princess, John & Julia Ourecky

My wonderful friends who came down to cheer me on when I was crowned!

We started traveling, not just to some towns, to a lot of towns. We traveled well over 3,000 miles in less than three months going to parades, festivals and just doing meet and greets to spread our love of the Czech heritage to others. Another memory that really sticks out in my head was the first time we put together the "Queen Mobile" wow, at that time that was a stressful time. I can remember everyone holding different parts of the float and all of us looking puzzled. We just burst out into laughter over the whole thing because no one had a clue what went where. We were kind of getting worried because the parade was supposed to start soon and we still had parts of it that weren't put together yet. Luckily we got it all back together and in one piece with a little time to spare. (and enough time for the boys to get one beer down)

Here's a picture of our float and the boys taking a break to wave

I got to know Julia and John quite well over the summer and was amazed at how little I knew about video games. Luckily John clued me in about many of them and what weapons were able to kill each dragon and I even learned a little bit about how to painfully torture some army men also. Julia taught me many new things also, she is just a gorgeous little lady who I can already tell is going to one day be representing Nebraska at the National Pageant and I'll be there cheering her on every step of the way! I can tell that going to these events has really helped these two become more outgoing and less shy. It surprised me from the day we were crowned to the day we gave our titles away just how much more outgoing they were and were willing to talk to strangers they met on their journey this past year.

Another silly memory is the time we were at the Omaha Czech Cultural Club event, they had a kolache eating contest. I can remember being talked into it and agreed, I mean free kolache and chance at earning a title? No questions! There were three age categories, little ones, mediums (me) and older ones. Well, I hear go and we all begin chowing down. Here I am trying my hardest to get three of those mostly dough pastries down and I can feel everything just not going anywhere but I keep shoveling. Next time I know the gag reflexes start kickin in. I have Stef (the State Czech Queen) laughing making me laugh and gag at the same time, and well, you can just about imagine how silly I looked. The contest ended and I the results were in, I placed third!! ...did I mention there were only three of us in my age division?
The Omaha Cultural Club event had a Kolache eating contest. I was so proud that I placed that day!
I placed third.... out of three people.

I was extremely blessed with getting to have my dad and Bob Mager and the occassional straggler to play accordions with us while we traveled. I think they just enjoyed being able to go to festivals and play but I really enjoyed the extra-special music and time I got to spend with my dad and Bobby Jo. It meant so much to know that they too were willing to give up there weekends to come out with me and promote our heritage. I also must give kuddos to Travis for putting up with "queenzilla" as he called me when I'd get into my neat freak perfesctionst modes. What a wonderful guy for putting up with it all!

A picture from a parade where we chose to take the truck instead of the float. Everyone made fun of my hot pink sunglasses but they sure came in handy! We were glad we had the boys there to play some polka's for us also!

Next thing I knew it was pageant time. It was a great experience, I loved all the PR time I was getting through all of the events I went to. All of the public speaking was really giving me the confidence I now realize helped me so much at the pageant. I was however getting a tid bit nervous about representing the National Czech Captil (Wilber) and hoping that I could live up to their expectatitions and bring home a title. So there I was, practicing last minute, finishing up my questions last minute and starting on my kroj (Czech costume) last minute.

I can recall finishing up my application for State Pageant we were printing things off last minute, and I remember mom rushing down to the post office and standing there telling the mailman he couldn't pick up the mail until I brought down one more envelope.... yup I'm that much of a procrastinator we went that far.

PAGEANT DAY! Here's what I can remember of it, it just went so fast it seems!

Throughout the day of state pageant I can remember feeling like a rollercoaster of emotions, the beginning was nerves to meet the other ladies, then came practice on stage with our talents. That alone was interesting trying to find the right place to make my tap shoes, tap as we were on a giant tarp (they didn't want to hurt the hardwood floors). Then was the feeling of let's just have fun with the girls! We have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful lunch by the church there in Clarkson and the Czech food didn't let me down!

Our reigning State Queen (Stefanie Vocasek) gave us all gifts of these cute bibs for us to wear to keep our Kroj's looking nice and clean! We of course loved them :D

When it was private interview time I was feeling some small nerves, sitting in the room with the other ladies and hearing them get called one by one really didn't help calm me either. Since I was from Wilber I was of course picked to go almost last for the private interviews. It's kind of hard to prepare for this one as they usually ask you off the wall questions. I can remember I was asked why I wanted to be the state queen and also what I would like to see started up as a new Czech program that would involve more youth. I think the most nervous part for me was when they asked me about some famous Czech Homolka guy, obviously I had no clue who they were talking about but I smiled and made it up.

After the private interview we had a little chit chat break. It was nice to get to know the girls and be able to just relax! We were all on edge so giving us prep time to focus on talents, memorize the fish bowl questions and just jam out to some super girly music made some of our nerves go away.

On our way up to the high school (where the contest took place) we had time to meet up with our family's and have them give us last minute advice and hugs. For anyone who knows me you can imagine how stressed out and "queenzilla." Thankfully my loving caring guy (Travis) didn't freak out on me as he came strolling in on his own time with a cute boquet of flowers. The silly boy is new to the flower buying business so when he handed them to me he I quote said, "I would have gotten you roses, but those sure cost a lot. I would have also bought you a bigger boquet but even these were expensive!" ...yup, thank's my man.
When all of our introductions were done and we were settling into the competition time the nerves were really starting to take control over me. I can remember that first we had our Kroj (costume) modeling. It went great I felt, basically you just walked around on stage flaunting your Kroj and showing each piece off. I started out my Kroj by doing rich paisley colors, I felt like those colors represented the rich colors of fruits and veggies that my family raised in their crops over here and back in the old country. I choose to include several family owned garnet pieces of jewlery. I also had differnet pendants from both of my grandmas that I was proud to be wearing. My dear family friend (and other mother) Cheri Mager was gracious enough to let me borrow an apron she found, we ended up "blinging" it out and adding eighteen hearts to it. The eighteen hearts represented the eighteen years that I had been dancing and I had each of my aunts hand sew them on. I had black slippers as they were comfy and I could dance the night away in them if needed. I can't remember off the top of my head all of the items that I wore and the reasons for wearing them but I'm sure I can go back and look to re-remember perhaps.

You may not see the nerves but they're in there!
After the Kroj modeling it was time for my onstage interview. The one thing I was super worried about. Well, you had to pick two topics to discuss, one was my ag background and our fainting goats. The other was about my Czech family traditions and Czech involvement. Well the interviewer asked me about ag and then skipped my second question, as you can guess it didn't go over well when the points were tallied up in that category.  After he asked us our questions then we had to answer the fishbowl question. I didn't practice these or even print off the questions until two days before so I was hoping and praying that I would get one of the easier questions. Luckily enough, I got an easy question!!

Me getting a little PR time in, doing my onstage interview.

Next came the talent time. I can remember learning my dance on a Tuesday and starting to practice it with what little time I had left before Saturday. I loved to make mom nervous when I was in dance when I was younger (I'd never practice but be just fine on stage later on). I decided to do a folk reading / tap dance as my talent because I really just didn't want to make a decision which one I liked better. I have been beseda (polka) dancing since I was little but could not figure out how to do a polka dance on my own since this is mainly a partner type of dance style. I've also been a dancer since I was little so that part I knew would be easy to do.

So I started out by being dressed like a little old Czech lady who created the polka step and was waltzing around my kitchen sweeping, then I ran behind a curtain to do a quick wardrobe change and put on my tap shoes. Then the tap dance got started! The songs I choose to dance to had to be two different songs, one slower to show how the step kinda got started, one more upbeat and fun to dance to with tap shoes on. I choose Annie & The Cabbage Patch for my first song, it is afterall one of the first songs I danced to as a Beseda Dancer. The other song was The I Love to Dance polka, because it just made sense, I LOVE TO DANCE! I get on stage and start doing my talent, I'm actually feeling quite confident with the first half and tell myself that I can do this. I land the ending just right, run back behind the make-shift curtain to change, finish that effortlessly and then hurry back to hit my spot in the next song. I started the tap right and then about eight counts into it, I completely froze! Luckily I'm good at improvising so I started to make it up and I had to giggle at myself (much later after I came home) because I am quick enough to make things up at the flick of a wrist.

Part 1 of 2 for my talent portion. Here is the picture of me pretending to be the little old lady who created the polka step.
Part 2 of 2 for my talent. Here was me tap tap tapping away!

Beating myself up about that and my onstage question I just convinced myself that I had no chance in winning let alone getting runner-up. So when it came time for them to announce the winners I was in absolute shock when they announced me for THREE out of the six different awards! THREE! I ended up winning the Kroj competition, the private interview and also the heritage award. I could have won four of the awards as we tied for miss congeaneality but then when we re-voted the other girl won. The newly crowned queen had won only two of the awards and the other girl had won the miss congeneality award.

The Wilber Czech Royalty after pageant in Clarkson
All in all, pageant was fun, I'm totally glad I got to attend and be a part of it. It was an amazing experience and I'm lucky to have made so many new awesome friends! I've never been a shy person but this experience gave me an even better insight into public speaking. I loved being up on stage and seeing all of my friends and family members out there in the crowd cheering me on! It was an amazing thing to experience and I will strongly encourage other young ladies to try out themselves.

Just some of my many supporters that had enough time to get a picture with me.
Look how lucky I am to have so many people supporting me!!

We ended up doing a ton more traveling throughout the summer and the rest of 2010 and part of 2011 and then in March we gave up out titles to the 2011-2012 Czech Royalty. I was a bit worried at the beginning of the summer how the year would go but by the end of the summer I had realized I made many new friends and I got to know a family I would have otherwise never known. Thank you one and all for supporting me in the wonderful journey I had and I hope to inspire many other little "princesses" to someday try out to be queens themselves!

Here are some more pictures of fun that we had throughout the year. Enjoy!

Waiting for the parade to start in Western and trying to get away from that horribly hot sun!

Look mom we layed them all nicely so they wouldn't wrinkle, oh, the other junk?
Ya, it takes a lot of space to make sure we don't lose any of it.

The "Queen Mobile" as was later nicknamed really helped us out at the Wilber Czech Festival.
Being so hot it helped to haul us around requiring less effort on our part.

My fav supporters!! LOVE YOU!

We got to meet the governor at the Seward 4th of July Parade

Pretty good looking group of kids eh? This is just some of them!
I help Dirk Altman teach the Senior Beseda Dancers

At the De-Crowning where I gave my title to the new Queen

The Friend Parade decided to rain on us, that's ok, we decided to tuff it out anyways

All of us ladies stopping for a photo opt before we started the day

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breath In, Breath Out

I keep over-thinking everything and part of that is because I'm known and labeled as "the planner." I'm constantly thinking about what I should be doing, what I should be making, what type of thing I should be working on, how unhealthy my lifestyle is, when will this milestone be happening... I think you get the idea.

I'm not saying we should stop thinking about the future, you always should have some things planned. In case you're worried, you should know that I'm the number one person when it comes to worrying and planning but I have come to realize that I need to take a step back and just learn be more thankful!

I'm the kind of person who constantly has thoughts running through my head. Not just normal worrying thoughts, I'm talking about insane, off the wall, worrying thoughts! What is my future going to hold? Should I be wearing this or is it the wrong color? Should I attend more classes and get yet a third degree? When will I get married? Will it be a big wedding or will I just get married at the court house? How many kids will I have? How will I possibly be able to decide on just one name for each kid?! What type of house will I have? Will I own a house or rent one? What type of car will I drive? Will I be able to make it and live comfortably or will I be needing to work three jobs just to get by? Will it be possible to "live out my dream" and be a stay at home mommy until my kids are in school? If so, will I be a good mommy whose always playing games or the exhausted mommy who is constantly trying to pawn my kids off onto others? Can you tell I'm a worry-wort?

I wish I was a person who was just as confident in myself as the mask that I put on for others. Instead, inside, I'm a total wreck just working myself up over situations that, at the moment, I can do absolutely nothing about. I wish there was a way for me to have some sort of "filter" or something blocking all of these thoughts from coming to me. It just stinks because I'm such a control freak and the unknown really gets me worked up.

These thoughts just keep over-whelming me and I have attempted several times to block them out I just don't know quite how (yet). I guess that's a negative about caring and wanting to be a perfectionist. But with all of these thoughts going through my head and the recent events that have happened I really have come to realize that I need to step back and just breath.

Breath. Such a simple word, we do it daily, but do we really take it for what it's worth? According to the dictionary breath is, "An exhalation of air by a person or animal that can be seen, smelled, or heard." Ok, so taking that at face value means that I should be able to physically see others breathing and hear what they're saying. I really should take my own advice and take a breath, enjoy it, be thankful that I have the lungs to do this. I mean after all, without breathing we're not really living. But in the other sense, what if I were just able to take a step back and smile and just thank God that he's given me another day to breath and live my life.

I am thankful to have such a great life, house, boy, fam, food, vehicle (even though it is a gas hog) but I always feel like I should one-up myself, like I'm always trying to battle myself in a challenge of who can do better, me or me. I really just need to relax, breath and enjoy myself!

I wish I were able to just breath and look at the bright side but I'm always trying to find something negative to compare the situation to. I've been looking at the positive things in life including life itself and feel like God is giving me a sign to just be thankful. I need to open my heart up and be positive.

I mean really, my life isn't that horrible compared to some of the books I've read. (Check out this one, A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown, it's a great read!) Or some of the tragic life events that have happened within not only our country but our communities. But it seems we should be thinking about the small things we take for granted.

Like taking the time to enjoy God's nature, the cute little clouds he creates by just drawing random puff balls. Or the amazing sunsets he makes by swirling the colors of the rainbow together. Rainbows, those themselves are a creation to enjoy that can take you away thinking of all the things that are at the end of the multi-colored arch. (do leprechauns really exist anyways?) Or the way he works his magic and creates all of these unique creatures, each one different in its own way.

Does anyone else ever feel so overwhelmed with the daily life that they forget to breath and remember what life is really about besides me?

Monday, March 5, 2012

He Giveth and Taketh Away

There's been a couple recent events including the death of yet another community member that has really made me step back and realize I need to be thanking God more and spending less time worrying about the big picture.

It just amazes me how hard it is to say goodbye to someone who lost their life at such a young age. It also surprises me to have to have such an epic event to make me step back and really re-evaluate what I'm doing with my life and how I should be focusing more on the little things. I really need to start enjoying life, like taking that extra cookie instead of saying no it'll just go to my rear. I need to sit outside and watch the sunset more instead of hurrying inside to make sure the house is straightened up and supper is started.

I keep thinking to myself that it's just not normal to have to say goodbye to so many people. It seems like each year the amount of goodbyes I've been saying to those who have left us keeps growing. But why are the numbers growing? Are we not paying attention to the little things in life that keep us safe and healthy? Are we not taking the time to, per say, smell the roses? Why is the fatality rate growing? I really feel blessed to have known so many amazing people and am thankful that I can say I have plenty of angels looking down over me but I really wish I had more time to spend with those loved ones that have gone to Heaven. It would have been nice to watch them grow old and get to see their personalities really emerge.

It just breaks my heart to know that we aren't taking time in our daily lives to really thank God for everything he's given us. I mean after all, didn't he remember to wake us up this morning? Perhaps we should be giving him more credit, stop the worrying game and just start living in the moment.

Over the past couple days I've taken the time to really evaluate my life and how I've been treating and thinking about others. The loss of someone, anyone, can be devastating and knowing that it takes a death for us to tell each other we love them just doesn't seem right. I want to be able to let people know that I love them daily not just during times of sorrow.

Death is one thing in our lives that is un-avoidable. If I were to die tomorrow I would want people to remember me as the person who always had a smile on my face. Who was always willing to lend a hand and give positive feedback if they needed a shoulder to lean on. I try to live God's word and want people to remember me as a person who was always trying to better the lives of people that got to know me. I think my ultimate goal is to show other's that faith is important and that believing in God is very important to me.

No one wants to lose someone that's close to them but if you are a social butterfly like me and know a ton of people losing an acquittance or friend is almost inevitable. I hate seeing/mourning the loss of people and I hate going to funerals even more than the sound of nails on a chalk board but to me funerals are needed. They are a time of rejoicing in a life that was taken away from us. In celebrating that person and all of the many things we as individuals who knew them had learned from them. I enjoy hearing positive things about people that touched my life.

With the loss of such a wonderful person I've come to realize I need to call up my friends from high school that I don't talk to anymore and reconnect with them. I need to send my family members a quick note letting them know that I'm doing ok, fill them in about my struggles with trying to balance work/school/a small business. I need to try to mend things with my sister and try to work on our relationship. Lastly, I should take the time to shut off electronics, unplug from the technology that surrounds us and just spend quality time with Travis.

God is the ultimate decision maker in our lives and he does things for a reason. We may find it hard to see the reason and even call out to him cursing because we do not understand why he is putting so much sorrow into our lives. It may seem unbearable at the moment but just keep praying and asking for answers and eventually he will give them to us.

I want to end my post with a Christian song that I find comfort in for situations that I have when I'm battling with thoughts and emotions inside of me. God really has never let go of me although at times I do question him. God bless!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Here We GO! <---(Said in the voice of the guy off of Swamp Loggers)

So, here I am, I've officially entered the "blogging" world! I'm not sure how to feel about this exactly. I mean, I've had a personal journal since I was in junior high but to share my intellectual thoughts and feelings with the whole world is something completely new to me!

It will be interesting and fun to see what everyone has to say about my blog. I'm excited to be sharing my thoughts and feelings with the world and also allow my friends and family from far away to keep tabs on me and what I've been up to.

I lately have felt that too much time has been spent on Facebook like a lot of other people and I'm hoping this will be a way to get me away from that deadly trap of wasteful time. I'm mostly starting this blog to let me look back and see all of the fun events that I've had happen to me.

Someday I hope I can look back and smile at all of the things that at the time were a big deal to me. To look back and see all of the major milestones in my life that I will be going through and hopefully be able to just generally thank God for blessing my life with so many wonderful positive things like my friends, family and my health.

Wish me luck on this new journey in the blogging world!