Saturday, September 29, 2007

Where do you keep your dishes?

This morning, Colton and I were up early (somehow, that dog hasn't figured out how to sleep in yet ;-). We were hanging out in the living room, watching Saturday cartoons - okay, I was dozing on the chair, Colt was watching the cartoons. After a little bit, Colton decided he was hungry for breakfast, and that he wanted cereal.

He decides that he is big enough to get it himself. I head to the kitchen with him, a little bit to supervise, but mostly to prevent the 5/6-full gallon of milk from finding its way to my kitchen floor.

Colt grabs a stool, and heads to the cereal cupboard. Climbs up, and finds the cereal he wants to have. Sets it on the counter.

Grabs the very full milk from the fridge, with much grunting and groaning. Sets it on the counter.

He says - "I'm ready mom!"

"No you're not," I say, "You still need a bowl and a spoon."

He heads for the dishwasher.

Miracle of all miracles, I had emptied the dishwasher the night before.

"Oh no! Mom! We don't have ANY dishes!"

Me, trying hard to hide the laughter - "Did you look in the cupboard?"

"Nope. Just checked the dishwasher."

So, where to you keep your dishes? It is comically obvious where mine are 90% of the time. Hopefully one day his future wife will forgive me!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Favorite Ingredient Friday - Apple Butter

Okay, it's apple harvest time! So, here's a great recipe for Apple Butter from my friend Becki. This recipe calls for applesauce, and takes about 3-4 hours. Typically, I start early in the morning, with whole apples, slice them, cook them to applesauce stage, and then start on the apple butter - so it's pretty much an all day process, but well worth it! I have an unusually small oven, so I make mine in one of those big electric turkey roasters - works great!

Apple Butter
Becki Muhlbeier

8 Cup Apple Sauce
4 Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Vinegar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Cloves
1 dash Nutmeg

Bake in the oven at 325 for three hours. Stir every ten minutes, until last half hour, then every five minutes.

Fujis Rock. You can deviate the spice ratios. I like more nutmeg than it calls for. Cloves make it darker looking. You can add other fruit also, to mix it up. I have used pears and multiple type of apple varieties. If you want to make it diet, you can reduce the sugar. If it isn't thick enough for you with less sugar, just cook it down a little longer.

Enjoy this great treat of fall! For more Friday recipes, please visit Overwhelmed With Joy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sometimes the clouds seem to loom . . .

I just got off the phone with my mom. Surprise, surprise - that is a pretty regular occurrence in my life - thank goodness! We were discussing a difficult time happening to someone that we both know. My mom said something that has really hit home, and I've been pondering on it and praying about it ever since.

She said - "If we trusted God to this point, why wouldn't we trust Him now? If we've truly given him this situation, then there is nothing more we need to do, other than continue to pray." Wow - so true! So, I pray without ceasing, without worry, and with God's glory in mind.

Our conversation brought to mind this song, which I love, by Mercy Me - and which, by the way, I can totally belt out with the radio turned up in my car ;-)

Bring The Rain

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that
I've gone through

The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times

So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am yours regardless of
The clouds that may loom above
Because you are much greater than my pain

You who made a way for me
Suffering your destiny
So tell me, whats a little rain

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
is the lord God almighty
is the lord God almighty

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Our family has endured some rainstorms this past year, for sure. I'm not saying more than our share, and I'm not saying another won't come tomorrow. But I hope, we are still praising Him with each one. I know we are trying. When we are in heaven with our God, we will look back on these days, after seeing the master plan, and be ever-thankful for the road we travelled. God uses all things for His glory.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A busy day, so you get a lazy post

I've got a bunch of stuff going on today, so I'll entertain you with an e-mail that made me chuckle yesterday. My, what our kids think of us . . .

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of ?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms & dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

If you send this to 10 other people, your wish will come true!

Okay, I'm selling out today (kind of). 5 Minutes for Mom is hosting another great giveaway, and if you are a blogger, take digital photos, or have other important stuff on your computer, you must go here and enter their latest contest!

If you don't, your hard drive will crash tomorrow, and you will lose all of your important data. Don't say the e-mail fairy didn't warn you . . . .

Monday, September 24, 2007

He makes all things new!

A few posts back, I listed several accomplishments of our busy weekend. One of those accomplishments was that we made great progress toward painting the barns and outbuildings on our property. I'm guessing it had been at least 30 years since they were last painted. Here's what we were working with:

My, what a coat of paint can do to things! Here's where we ended up after this weekend:

The Barn

The Chicken Coop

Lawnmower Shed

It was a busy, busy couple of weekends. As I often do when I'm doing a mundane or mindless job, my mind wandered quite a bit. I was singing praise songs (in my head, because my boys make so much fun of my singing), I was thinking about the week ahead, about the current Bible study I'm doing with my daily morning reading, etc. etc. At first, as I watched the transformation of our barns, all I could think of was how "new" they looked. And the promise that someday soon, God will make all things new -

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. -Revalation 21:4-5.

As we were doing the tedious job of painting the trim, we had a view into the buildings that we were painting that doesn't show up on the photos. Frankly, they have a bunch of junk in them - sometimes well-organized junk, but junk none-the-less. And I started to think - it doesn't really matter what the outside of these buildings look like - they are still housing all-together too much stuff - too much baggage. Which prompted me to 1 Samuel 16:7 -

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

So, I had to wonder - what kind of "paint" am I using in my life? Am I choosing my activities to honor the Lord, out of love, or using them to cover up what's really on the inside? For the Lord will search my heart - He will look past all of the service, church attendance, volunteerism, and good deeds - He will ask with what kind of heart did I do these things - to further God's kingdom, or to paint/exalt my own self?

Lord, please help me to put off all that I would use to exalt myself - I want to do it for you, God. For Your kingdom - for Your glory. But, I need Your help . . . Make me new!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Favorite Ingredients Friday - Sandwich Edition

This sandwich came from one of those "spice up your child's lunchbox" in either Parents magazine or Food & Family magazine. My son loves this special treat!

Waffle & Ham Sandwich

2 frozen waffles, toasted, cooled
1 KRAFT Singles
6 slices OSCAR MAYER Shaved Smoked Ham
1/2 small apple, sliced
2 tsp. maple-flavored or pancake syrup

TOP 1 waffle with Singles, ham and apple slices. Cover with second waffle.
WRAP sandwich in plastic wrap or foil. Pour syrup into sealable plastic container. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Head over to Overwhelmed to see more great Sandwich recipes!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Because, really, peanut butter could be classified as a vegetable, couldn't it?

Okay, I know everyone (all 3 of you) is dying for an update on the puppy I introduced you to in this post. I feel like a new parent ;-)

He is sleeping through the night - finally. But, there is no sleeping in, and no more hitting the snooze button. As soon as he hears my alarm go off at 5:30, he is ready to face the morning! Today, I tried to trick him a little when, for some reason, I woke up about 5 minutes before my alarm went off. I quietly got up, shut the alarm off, and laid back down. Yeah, I got a whole extra 2 minutes of lounging in bed before he woke up and started his whining routine.

We're making progress on the potty routine, but that one is a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of thing. He does really well, unless I forget to pay attention to the clock. We're getting there, though.

He's no too sure about the cows, which is okay, because they are not too sure about him. He is already messing with the cats, and he's still small enough that they are messing back. Little do they know, he'll soon be the size of a horse, and will think of them as little more than a snack! They'd better watch their backs . . .

A couple days ago, Chance had taken him outside to go to the bathroom, and wanted to reward him with a dog treat when he came back in. We just got the variety pack of little dog bone thingies. Anyway, Chance is looking down the pictures of the different flavors, and I can hear him talking out loud:
  • This one's chicken, this color is beef, this is cheesy - Oh! Here you go, Jake. You haven't been eating enough vegetables lately . . . . so you can have this peanut butter one!

Yep, a veritable fountain of food-group knowledge, I am. And, in teaching my kids all about nutrition, food pyramids, etc, they know those food groups like the back of their hand.



Unfortunately, they think they are chocolate, peanut butter, chicken nuggets, and dessert.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gringo Gourmet

We are having a BBQ at work today. There is some training going on, and we needed to provide lunch, so it was a natural thing for us to just have a BBQ. We're very good at it - and our reputation is well-known throughout the area - that's why they hold trainings here - in hopes that we'll have BBQ for lunch.

We have many Hispanic men that work for our branch - so BBQ around here means Carne Asada, Frijoles, Spanish Rice, Tortillas, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, etc. It is a culinary masterpiece every time. Here's the part where I admit that I have absolutely nothing to do with the success of these BBQ's, aside from maybe picking up a dessert or two for after the carnage. The guys are in charge of the meat, and most of the time, one of their gracious wives makes all the side dishes - and boy, do they do a good job.

Insert - does anyone else find it a bit telling that I'm writing about this delectable food stuff, not even one post away from the one where I wrote about my weight watchers quest? Yes, I am a fallen being, with very little willpower, aside from God's grace and power.

Anyway, this BBQ happened to fall during spud harvest - a busy, busy time in our area. The gals who would usually donate their expertise are busy with various spud harvest type duties. So, it was either get the side dishes catered from a local Mexican restaurant, or brave it ourselves. Armed with a hand-written notebook paper recipes, bags of ingredients, and a firm resolve, we set out to dazzle them!

Darla, who has the best pico recipe anyway, worked on making the Pico and Guacamole. I muddled my way through the Spanish Rice recipe, the whole time worried about the amounts of spices, if it would taste good, etc, etc.

We used about 5 Weight Watchers points dipping chips in Guacamole and Pico, making sure we had the flavor we wanted. In my opinion, it's fabulous!

Then, three separate guys (including the one whom the rice recipe came from) came in to the office, either to scale their trucks or bringing paperwork, and said - it smells like home, or it smells just like my mom's house. I knew we'd hit the nail on the head!! WooHoo!! It's almost lunchtime, so we'll see if we pass inspection . . .


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pencil Me In!

Well, as of about 2 hours ago, October is full. The weekends, at least. We won't be gone every weekend, but have a few fun things planned that will either occupy our time or take us out of town.

On one hand, it seems overwhelming to look at my October calendar, and have many of the days already filled. On the other hand, I am more comfortable planning than flying by the seat of my pants, and I also know that if I don't pencil in the important stuff, the trivial stuff will weasel it's way in there, and the important stuff will get postponed or missed altogether.

In addition, I am joining Darla on a Weight Watcher's quest. For about the last year, I have been on this quest, it seems, watching all the new places the weight has found to cling onto my body. Presently, my efforts are renewed in a quest to watch this weight disappear from my body. Now, I am not going to concentrate on how many times I've tried to lose weight and apply the Law of Diminishing Returns to my new quest - no, no, my outlook is much more positive. Instead, I am applying the For Every Action, There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction law, and giving you all fair warning that all of my lost weight will have to find somewhere to go, so you'd better watch your hineys (literally)!!!!

As if the battle of the bulge and the October hectic schedule weren't enough, Matt and I have also committed to an "eat down" of our pantry and freezer contents. We will be butchering our herd (of two) at the end of the fall, currently this meat will not even come close to fitting in our small freezer, we have Lazy Susans full of coupon deals that could not be resisted, and frankly, the amount of food in our household should be embarrassing. So, it's bread, milk, and eggs for the next month - everything else will come either from the freezer or pantry. Matt is currently at Home Depot, planning the spending of our October grocery savings, so I am forced to succeed in this venture - or find another way to pay for the bagger for the riding lawn mower.

Anyway, all this to say that, if my blog writing becomes a little bit "fractured" in the next month, I am either suffering from starvation, stressed about my upcoming schedule, or trying to figure out what I can make for dinner from Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce, fresh eggs, and maybe a toaster biscuit.

Happy Fall, Y'all!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

What a weekend!

I am a terrible blogger. I should have pictures of all of our accomplishments this weekend, pictures of my wreck of a kitchen, pictures of freshly painted barns, etc. Instead, I skipped the camera and just worked my tail off! So, instead of pictures, you get descriptions of our busy, busy weekend:

  1. 4 batches of frozen peach pie/cobbler filling, courtesy of this Paula Deen recipe.
  2. 4 loaves of zucchini bread, plus 3 quart baggies frozen, grated zucchini.
  3. 13 quarts frozen salsa, plus 1 large bowl in fridge.
  4. 24 frozen lunch-sized pizzas for Chance's lunches.
  5. 12 mini-hamburgers for Chance's lunches.
  6. 1 chocolate chip pie
  7. 1 fun Chinese dinner, including Dan-Dan noodles, sweet & sour chicken, egg rolls.
  8. 6 / 7 outbuildings painted "barn red."
  9. 1 work call-out for Matt, in the middle of said painting.
  10. 2 / 7 outbuildings with trim partially painted.
  11. One extra-sore shoulder on Matt's right arm.
  12. 1 recovered bicycle jump.
  13. 2 jumping accidents.
  14. 12 babies in the nursery at church, with only 4 nursery workers.
  15. At least 6 of those babies would be considered "high maintenance", at least for that morning!
  16. Several reassurances to Matt, after the nursery experience, that yes, I am done having babies, and I am extremely happy, satisfied, and exhausted with the two that we have.
  17. 1 sick dog, after he found the garlic/chicken casserole leftovers and ate his fill.
  18. 6 messes to clean up from aforementioned sick dog.
  19. Unnumbered prizes from Grandmother from her trip to New York.
  20. 20+ pieces of computer equipment from Verna's company to give to Chance's school.
  21. 600+ pictures of Verna's New York trip.
  22. 1 exhausted puppy.
  23. 2 exhausted parents.
  24. 2 exhausted boys.
  25. 1 proud, proud 8-year-old, wearing his Yankees shirt to school, and I'm sure showing off on the playground!

As you can see, we crammed it as full as we could! Somehow, we still slept in a little, worked in a couple naps and relaxing times for the boys, played about 8 hours of Wii video games, and slept very well each night. I had to come to work to relax!

Hope y'all had a great weekend . . .

Friday, September 14, 2007

Favorite Ingredients Friday - Salsa

Okay, for the regulars to my blog, I have officially dumped the recipe Wednesday crew - JK!! Actually, Darla and I talked about joining Overwhelmed on her recipe exchange that she does each Friday - that way, those of you who look forward to the recipes could follow the link and get several recipes instead of two or three - oh, who am I kidding - we wanted to have several recipes available, instead of just two or three!

Anyway, I have officially made the switch this week. Unfortunately, this is totally blind-sighting Janice, who still had a great Wednesday recipe this week, and also will somewhat surprise Darla, who also did Recipe Wednesday, and will be amazed that I actually quit procrastinating and took the plunge. So, even though they are not (yet) part of the Friday recipe exchange, please still visit them for their Wednesday offerings this week.

Without further ado (because really, that's enough ado, let's get on with the recipe already ;-), I respectfully submit our recipe for Salsa or Picante Sauce. This recipe comes from Matt's mom, and is a sweet, then spicy (depending on how much kick you put to it) kind of taste. From my experience, it's not a middle-of-the-road kind of taste - you either love it, or you think it's weird. Speaking for our family, we love it! I almost never have all the ingredients in their prescribed amounts - it's a very forgiving recipe, and you can easily adjust it to your personal taste.

Picante Sauce

1 c Green Peppers
2 T Hot Peppers
3 T Jalapeno peppers
3 C Onion (I never use this much, but I have a bit of an aversion to onions, so I'll give it to you in it's original amount . . .)

Puree all of the above in a food processor or salsa chopper.

4 qt Tomatoes - peeled and chopped
3 c Sugar
2 c White Vinegar
2 T Chili Powder
1 T Garlic Salt
2 T Beef Bouillon Cubes
2 t Ground Cloves
1 t Basil Leaves
1 t Paprika
1 T Red Pepper (I usually add more)
1 t Celery Salt

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer until thick, several hours, stirring occasionally. This sauce is best when served cold, but we use up the first quart on a bag of tortilla chips while it's cooling off, because we can't wait that long! Freezes very well.

Now, you can head over to Overwhelmed with Joy, and check out all the other Favorite Ingredient Friday participants. Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Best Friend, Right Through It All . . . .

This post is brought to you by Sirius Satellite Radio (including song and artist memos), Pirates of the Mississippi, and our spelunking family leader, Matt, who has caved farther in the last week than he ever imagined. Matt, you are a great daddy!

Meet Jake - the newest addition to our family unit. It has been about 1-1/2 years since we've had a dog in our home - some tragic circumstances caused the death of our previous dog, and since then there has been much discussion about when it would be the right time to get a new dog, would he be in indoor or outdoor dog, how would we split out the duties so no one felt over-burdened by our new bundle of joy, etc, etc, etc.

Frankly, the last 6 months has been mostly hemming, hawing, and arguing - but all was brought to an abrupt halt by the ice-cold willpower of Papa Chuck, who held up his end of the quitting smoking bargain (yep, that's another post all on its own), and demanded immediate payment on all deals, written or verbal, in the form of a canine companion for our boys.

  • . . . side note - on the way to Waterville last weekend, we had the luxury of getting to use the Sirius radio. On one of Matt's memos (you can set it to beep when your favorite songs/artists come on a different channel than what you are listening to), Pirates of the Mississippi, came up singing a classic song that Matt and I remember from our high school/college years - Feed Jake. It was a nostalgic moment that put the song at the forefront of our minds. As is probably obvious by now, this will be important later in the story . . .

We had been casually looking through the ads each week, and last week I found an ad for Jake's litter. So, the gal brought Matt some pictures at work, and we found ourselves loading up in the car and heading to a nearby town to pick him up. We didn't tell the boys what we were doing or where we were going. Actually, after a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up some puppy things and groceries (Matt got puppy things and hid them in the car - the boys and I got groceries), the boys were fighting and carrying on so much in the back seat, that they didn't realize we weren't heading home until about 30 miles into our journey!

We picked Jake (at that point, he was actually no-name boy puppy) up without incident, and piled back into the car to head home - No-Name-Boy-Puppy nestled comfortably in the back seat between the boys.

I grabbed a pen and paper, and we started a name list. What an interesting experience. The boys are so creative, but they can also be pretty ornery - many of the suggested names dealt directly with how big of poop Jake will have when he is full grown. Isn't it fun living in a house full of boys? Anyway, here is a sampling of the name-storming session: Narsan, Cub, Woof-puff, Sparkle, Mojo, Grump, Nugget, Jake, Jedi, Han, Saber, Red, Deuce, Nick, Rudolph - and many, many others. All-in-all, we had about 30 names by the end of the session.

Our next step was for each person to pick their two favorites - because a couple of us picked Jake, we were down to a 7-name pool. Next step was that everyone could eliminate one name from the pool, which put us down to 3 names: Narsan (you guessed it, there's a story here, which I'm sure will be blogged in the near future), Bud, and Jake. Jake won, 3-1.

It's been a great couple of days, watching the boys play with their new dog, remembering what a puppy smells like, buying some fun and cool new puppy things, and just seeing every one's attitude around the house kind of lifted. It's also been a challenge - remembering that new puppies whimper for their mama through most of the night (Colton wanted to either take him back or go back and buy the mama, too!), potty training, keeping all chewable objects off the floor, and rescheduling our routines to include one more little guy who currently has lots of needs!

Matt, bless his heart, has really lost every battle on this road, and has still come through it with a happy heart. Thanks, honey, for letting our boys (and me) have another puppy. Thanks for allowing democracy to rule during the name-picking, and not resorting to a dictator philosophy so you could have your way (although, if Woof-puff had made it any farther in the running, I may have conceded to the dictator!). Thanks for letting him be a house dog (not lap dog!), even though he's going to be as big as a horse when he's full-grown. Thanks for helping with the late-night potty breaks, and for being patient with the boys as they learn about their new responsibilities. You are a great daddy!

And now, thanks to the Pirates of the Mississippi, I don't have to think of a clever way to end this long, long post that has stretched out further than I intended. I'll just leave you with . . .

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake, feed Jake,
He's been a good dog,
My best friend right through it all,
If I die before I wake,
Feed Jake

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Judd!

Today is my brother's 26th birthday - so in true bloggy tradition, I give you 26 things I love about my little bro.....

  1. He has the most laid-back, but steady personality - I'm jealous.
  2. I see him in my son, Chance, on a regular basis.
  3. He is a great uncle - in case you can't tell, he's the one in the center of the picture, exhibiting infinite patience.
  4. He gives people the benefit of the doubt.
  5. He has such an inner strength about him.
  6. There are many instances when you are sure he is my parent's favorite kid - but he is so dang likable, you don't seem to care much.
  7. He is a hard, hard worker.
  8. He has bailed me (and our small business) out many a time with his hard work.
  9. He is a good friend to Matt.
  10. He is my friend.
  11. I know he would do anything for me.
  12. He teaches me to relax - at least, leads by example, and keeps me trying . . .
  13. He appreciates our heritage, and that of those around him.
  14. He is a loyal fan. GO IRISH!
  15. He is a steadfast and loyal friend - and he calls many, many people his friend.
  16. His ability to talk to anyone makes me insanely jealous.
  17. He has questionable taste in music, but stands by his preferences.
  18. He has been through more in the last year than I'm sure he could have imagined, but he has persevered.
  19. He knows God.
  20. He is truly respectful - not just the face-value kind, but the deep in your heart kind.
  21. My sons love, love, love their "Uncle Juddy." Chance covets the opportunity to beat him at Playstation, and Colton just plain likes being around him - especially on the 4-wheeler!
  22. He is so good to mom & dad.
  23. He is generous.
  24. He puts up with his big sister's meddling and bossiness (mostly).
  25. He is someone that I like to be around - not a relative that I "put up with", but one I look forward to.
  26. I can't wait until he has tons of babies - and I hope that steady, laid back guy has to deal with at least one that's just like me ;-)

Happy Birthday, Judd. You are truly one-of-a-kind. I thank God for you - I am so blessed to have you for a brother. Hope it's a great one!

Monday, September 10, 2007

What Year Do You Belong In?

You Belong in 1990

With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Yeah, I know, by 7th grade he'll be singin' a different tune . . .

Last night when I picked Colt up from the baby sitter's, our conversation went something like this-

Mom - tell me about your day, buddy.

Colt - It was bad - bad, bad, bad.

Mom - Did you have a bad day at school?

Colt - Yes, it was a very bad day

Mom - What was so bad about it?

Colt - It goes too fast! I don't want it to end. Can I go to school all day? Please? Just in the morning is not enough . . .

Mom - Well, what kinds of fun things are you doing?

Colt - Not really anything.

Mom - You don't do anything, but you need to stay all day?

Colt - Well, we play . . . . . . and we eat snacks . . . . . . . and then we play some more!

Ahhhhhh, the life of a 4-year-old. When you're 40, you usually have to pay a lot of money to get to have a day like that . . . .

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Redneck Extreme Sports

In July, I chronicled our pursuit of a new gaming system in this post.

Turns out, we could have saved the $500 and took the kids to the woods instead. My only consolation is that the Wii is still here, and for each time we've played the Wii, if I had had to purchase the gas to get us to the woods, we are still money ahead.

But, continuing with my original train of thought (how do those trains get de-railed so easily?), the kids needed no electronic stimulation to have a fabulous time while we camped and berry-picked in the woods this past weekend. Their imaginations had them playing "Survivor Man", building forts, and making up new games. Our favorite new game is one the kids dubbed Tree Flinging.

Now, as a disclaimer, if you are a huge proponent of protecting our forest land (aka-tree hugger), child safety restraints on carnival rides, or just plain child-safety in general - feel free to stop reading here. Children, when left to their own devices in the forest, do not often consult with the EPA, Child Protective Services, etc - they just plain wanna have some fun. So, if you are brave, and you are still reading, I will try and explain to you some of our weekend fun times . . .

It all started with cousin Thomas studying some of the trees near our camp. He's walking around, shaking them, testing both their strength and flexibility. Pretty soon, he can be heard muttering - wouldn't it be fun to bend this all the way down, and sort of catapult out of the top? I am picturing a version of Looney Tunes cartoon gone bad - Wile E. Coyote flying through the air, and into the face of a granite wall. Thankfully, there were no granite walls (just sharp stumps and prickly berry bushes), so the kids were left to their adventurous devices.

The first couple attempts had cousin Thomas' cousin Connor (are you following? - cousin Connor is cousin Thomas' cousin from the other side of his family - so he is not our cousin, but cousin Thomas' cousin) doing almost flips while flying through the air, and cousin Turner doing a pretty good tuck and roll over a stump while trying to land his precarious flight. At some point soon after this, it was decided it might be more safe, but just as fun, to try and hold onto the tree while it catapulted back into a vertical position - leaving you to just climb back down after your ride - the higher on the tree you dared to hold on, the more exciting your ride.

The teenagers were actually trying to bring some measure of safety into the equation - only letting the little guys "fling" on the shorter/thinner trees, and saving the big tree for the bigger kids. This worked for about all of 2 minutes, and Chance was ready to "fly" on the big tree. By this time, Matt cannot keep himself away from the fun, and is down there in the thick of the kids. So, amongst encouraging cries of "Matt! Matt! Matt!", he "tests the safety" of the process before letting Chance have a go. Here are his results:

Please note Matt's position on the tree (about halfway up). This will be important later, as we witness where he placed his 8-year-old, 70 pound boy on the same tree. Do you think 70 pounds flies a little different than 200 pounds? Check for yourself - here is Chance, taking his turn . . .

And dad helping him down (his heart was beating so hard, I'm not sure he could hold on to climb down) . . .

Chance described it to me like this - "It was like riding a roller coaster, right when you are heading down the big hill. And, you know that you have to hold on, or you will go flying. But, one hand wants to hold on, and one hand wants to let go because you are so scared - and you have to tell the other hand to still hold on, even though it wants to let go, because if you were only holding on with one hand, you would go flying through the forest, for sure! It was sooooo cool!"

I think the look on their faces says it all-

Unfortunately, I don't think the tree will ever be the same - it used to reach straight up, vertical toward the heavens. Now, it's just a little off kilter - hopefully God will still bless it, just the same. It provided us with so much entertainment, this valiant tree . . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

First Day - Colton

Today is Colton's first day of pre-school. Oh my goodness, he is growing up so fast. We picked up his new eyeglasses last night, and I swear, he grew up 5 years in 5 minutes. He looks so smart and big!

We dropped Chance off at his school, stopped in at the office for a couple of errands, and then headed out to Colton's school. Since it was the first day, Matt and I took time off to take him in - usually Tina will deliver him and pick him up. He was concerned for Tina today, because for the first time in a long, long time, she wasn't going to have any kids in the morning hours. "You will get to come pick me up, though. That will make you happy, won't it?"

One of the teachers at the school is Julie, who is Colton's former daycare gal. He was with her from 4 months old until he was 2 - that's when she decided to start teaching pre-school. So, it was a big deal for him to see Julie, and he's been so excited that she will be one of his teachers. He's been concerned over the last few weeks about what he was supposed to call her - could he still call her Julie, or would it have to be Mrs. or something? It turns out, they call her Miss Julie at preschool, so I'm sure he can get used to that!

His other teachers, Pam, Roz, and Claudia, are all teachers and helpers from our church, so he had lots of familiar faces this morning, and it was hugs all around. They all commented on how great his glasses looked, and how grown up he looked in his school clothes!

He began playing at a table with Julie, and aside from a brief break to hug us goodbye, hit the ground running and didn't look back. What a little trooper.

Colton, I am so proud of you. You are getting to be such a big boy! I can't wait to hear all about your day when I pick you up!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day - Chance

Today is Chance's 1st day of 3rd grade. His school got delayed a bit with the construction on the new building, so he got a few extra days of summer.


He was both excited and nervous at the same time. He has a very small class (12), so seeing everyone again was exciting. There were a couple new people to meet, including a new boy, a new girl, and his teacher - Mrs. Anderson. Ever since I found out her name, all I can think about is the movie The Matrix, when that guy says, in his kind of creepy, evil voice, "Mr. Anderson." I thought I was kind of weird for thinking this, until we were walking into the classroom today, and Matt, mimicking the creepy voice says, "Mrs. Anderson" Maybe we're both weird . . .


With the new school, came a whole new set of nerves for Chance. He is really a routine kind of guy - likes to know when we're doing something, exactly where we're going, who's going to be there, etc, etc. We came into the school at one of the side entrances and found Chance's classroom. His teacher hadn't put names on the cubbies or desks or anything - it was part of a scavenger hunt the kids would do once they got into the classroom. She told Chance just to set his stuff down anywhere - that he would learn where his desk, cubbie, etc. were during the scavenger hunt. I think this just added to his nervousness - new school, new classroom, new teacher, a couple new kids, unknown desk, unknown cubbie - I could see the wheels just turning.


We took a walk around the building to see his old teacher, and went outside via the other entrance. He asked me to stay with him and walk him back in when the bell rang. He wasn't sure he could find his way. Then, as we walked by the door we first came in, I could hear him talking to himself "Okay, come in from the playground - past the golf carts - go in the door by the pop machines - last door on the left." It was so cute! But, then, once he'd convinced himself he would be okay, he wanted nothing more to do with Matt and I. See you guys, I'm gonna go pay until the bell rings!


Who know where the kid developed all his "planning" skills and other Type A personality traits, but judging by the pit in my stomach from meeting his teacher for the first time, going to a different building for the office and payments, having a different parking lot routine, etc - I think I know where some of it may have come from!


Good luck today, Chance - you're doing great! I can't wait to hear all about it when I pick you up.