Thursday, January 31, 2008

This Birthday Delay . . .

. . . is brought to you by a week of meetings, a Snoqualmie Pass closure, and a lazy evening at home last night, enjoying birthday cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.

Yesterday was Matt's 36th Birthday! Happy Birthday, honey!!

Because last year I was completely an overachiever, and posted 100 things I love about my husband on Valentine's day, I used up all my good lovey-doveys. So, this year, I'll stick more with bloggy tradition, but change up the content a little.

I give you, 36 things I cherish about the past year with my best friend . . .
  1. A fun "vacation" to Washington DC.
  2. Your deep appreciation for the history of our country.
  3. How proud I felt watching you accept that award.
  4. Your determination to excel in your new position, and your willingness to add more than quippy t-shirts to your wardrobe.
  5. You sat with your back to criminals during our visits to work-release. Heck, you won't even sit with your back to the door of a restaurant - I know this was a huge stretch for you!
  6. The respect your co-workers showed you at your going away dinner.
  7. Your willingness to take a leadership role in baseball.
  8. The lessons you are teaching both boys through this sport.
  9. That you are willing to play with them, every night if they ask - when you feel too busy, when your shoulder is killing you, and when your list of other things to do far outweighs spending 30 minutes in the front yard.
  10. You readily put off your birthday trip when my mom was in the hospital, even though we had planned it for months.
  11. You, although voicing your hesitation the whole time, jumped in and helped us take 11 kids on a huge hike to the top of Steamboat Rock.
  12. That you would hurry back from training, and drive into the dead of the night to save me from a self-induced hotel fiasco in a podunk town in Idaho.
  13. You make an effort to keep a relationship with your dad and his family.
  14. You juggled dates and took Chance fishing, even when it didn't look like it could work out, because tradition is important to you. Not to mention the Bear Grylls spot - your willingness to go out a limb and be silly with your boys is so cool.
  15. You are passing traditions onto our boys, year by year.
  16. You made an effort to be at each baseball practice and game, especially when your new position didn't have quite the flexibility of the old.
  17. You let the boys build all numbers of projects in the shop, without limiting their imaginations, or micro-managing their use of screws, nails, or tools.
  18. You included them in your bee hive projects whenever they were willing.
  19. You teamed up with Dave to stop some loud & crazy gentleman from ruining Jenn's graduation party.
  20. You pulled the Big Mamma tube more miles than I can count, so that our boys, their friends, and cousins all got to ride as much as they wanted.
  21. You gave up yet another Father's Day weekend to do a metal show that allows us to give the kids a Christian education.
  22. A fun, fun weekend of both family and Women of Faith in Seattle this summer.
  23. The camper was ready to go on all the trips we took through the summer.
  24. You always dumped the camper, aside from only one trip.
  25. You called the boys and I each night when you were gone to trainings.
  26. You made every attempt to do special things on weekends with the boys to ease the pain of the long ERAD weeks.
  27. You pick lots of huckleberries, and you participate in extreme sporting events!
  28. The rapid decline of the "redneck" factor around the house.
  29. Newly painted barns and outbuildings.
  30. That you encourage my scrap days and retreat.
  31. Our date nights.
  32. Your involvement at school.
  33. Your perfection of the smoked pork loin.
  34. You still need me when you're sick, and you forgive me for calling you a wuss.
  35. You froze at the Christmas parade right beside me, to watch the boys go by on the float.
  36. You have told me that you love me EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. of this year.

I love you, honey! You are the best of everything that God could have given me. I am blessed beyond measure. Happy 36th Birthday!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I made it!!!

Oh my, what a drive. Sometime between last night's post, and this update, God eased up on the snow, the WADOT cleared the roads, and the pass was open for about 4 hours.

For the most part, people were pretty smart about their driving. Chains were required on everything that didn't have 4-wheel-drive, and on all trucks over 10,000#. So, before the checkpoint, there was about 3-4 miles of solid trucks and cars on the shoulder chaining up for the journey. Thankfully, the vehicle I was in was 4WD, so I hit the button and chugged along past the checkpoint.

The next 20 miles were at about 30-35 mph, with the constant chink, chink, chink of the truck's chains beside you keeping you company. That, and Spirit 105.3, the station out of Seattle that I listened to until it was so fuzzy I couldn't hear myself think. When you're praying every 30 seconds anyway, it is very comforting to have some praise music going in the background.

Once I got down the other side, there were 4+ miles of cars and trucks on the other side of the road, waiting to go west toward Seattle. Approximately 1-1.5 hours after I crossed, another snow slide fell on the road, covering two cars. I probably saw those two cars in this line - scary that I was that close. Praise the Lord that the 4 people in those cars are all okay. What an aweful experience . . .

So, here is the update. There are many folks dependent on this pass for transportation of goods, people, etc. Many separated from their families that need your prayers.

  • Snoqualmie Pass I-901/30/2008 11:16:22
  • Restrictions Eastbound:Pass Closed
  • Restrictions Westbound:Pass Closed
  • Conditions:Snoqualmie Pass remains closed due to extreme winter conditions from milepost 34 near North Bend to milepost 106 near Ellensburg. The pass will remain closed for at least the next 24 hours. Due to wet, heavier snow, the avalanche threat has increased. Friday, Feb. 1, at 9 a.m. is the earliest WSDOT will be able to assess the effects of this storm and our ability to reopen the pass. WSDOT will continue to update the Web page with the most current information about the conditions on the pass.
  • Weather:Snowing with areas of poor visibility

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If I had a snowblower . . .

I'd take it up to Snoqualmie Pass, and help those guys open that road.

Cause, I need to go over it to get home and see my guys.

And, they seem to have a problem with it snowing like 12 or 72 feet in the last 36 hours, and avalanches, and such. I guess these aren't the safest conditions for little cars, or even not-so-little SUV's.

Maybe if I went to Target on my way out of town, and bought a shovel, I could head up to the mountain and help with this problem. . .

Thanks, DOT dudes, I know you're working hard! But, hurry up already!!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snoogies, SnowCream, and other Winter Follies

It has been such a fun weekend around here! We've gotten oodles and oodles of snow, and it looks like it's gonna stick for awhile! Around here, we might get an inch or two, but it seems to either blow away or melt away within about 24 hours. We've had some snow/ice stuff that's stuck around for about two weeks, and now just got about another 6-8" on top of it.

Because of the snow, we were involved in some fun activities around the house that we don't normally get to participate in - this prompted us to creatively come up with a few terms that are a unique description to things or events in our "new" surroundings.

Matt got out on the 4-wheeler and plowed and plowed and plowed - our road, the mailboxes, the neighbor's driveway, the other neighbor's driveway. We had some happy neighbors! Then, he got a wild hair, and decided to make a biiiiiiig pile of snow in our yard. Colt was just laying down for his nap when daddy came to the rescue, and everyone donned their snow clothes and went outside.

We jumped, we slid, we steam-rolled, we fell, we pushed, and we conquered. We played King of the Mountain, and Jake chased a red Frisbee for miles. What a blast! Except for the snoogies - you gotta watch out for those things. When the snow mixes with your boogies, things can get downright nasty! Fun times, fun times ;-)

After an hour or two, the lack of nap was beginning to become very apparent, so we all headed in for some much-needed rest. The boys rested, Matt napped, and I searched the Internet for recipes (what I do best!).

We had hamburgers for dinner, and then I asked the boys to put their boots back on. Since neither had actually slept, they were pretty tired, and not very willing to change into snow clothes again without being convinced that they'd really love the outcome.

They came back inside with about 12 cups of clean snow, and we went to work making SnowCream. It was so good! I found an easy recipe that was just 10-12 cups of clean snow, 1 can sweetened-condensed milk, and 2 tsp. vanilla - yum, yum, yum! We all added a little bit of chocolate sauce, and savored our creation!

Why, yes, that is about the cheesiest grin possible - thank you very much!

Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful snow, for a day of family fun, for new recipes, and building memories - You are awesome.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Super Bowl Food

Here's what we'll be eating at our house on Super Bowl Sunday . . .

Mississippi Sin Dip
I got this one from Big Mama's blog, changed just a bit to protect my adverse emotional reactions to onions of any kind. Check out the original recipe here.

1 loaf french bread

8 oz. container of ranch dip

4 oz. can green chiles, drained

1 package of bacon bits

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

Cut out top of french bread and scoop out insides. Mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Put the dip inside the loaf of french bread and put the top of bread back on. Wrap the whole thing in foil and bake 1 hour at 350. I serve with torn-up bread from the inside of the bowl, Fritos Scoops, or crackers.

Avocado Dip

~Basic Ingredients~
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sour cream
2 avocados, mashed
2 sm. cans chopped green chilies
1 garlic clove, mashed
salt and pepper to taste

I also add:
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
juice of 2 limes
chopped cilantro
garlic pepper
bacon bits (when Matt’s eating it!)

Whip cream cheese. Add remainder of ingredients in order listed. Refrigerate for 1‑2 hrs. for
flavors to blend.

Head over to Overwhelmed with Joy, and check out all the other Super Bowl recipes - your party will be the best ever!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

That's Why It's So Big - It's a Dock!

Colton - Mom, check this out. I'm shakin' my butt-dock.

Mom - Your what??

Colton - My Butt-Docks - you know, mom, it's just another way to say tushy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To my invisible mommy friends . . .


It started to happen gradually. One day I was walking my son Chris to school I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, "Who is that with you, young fella?"

"Nobody," he shrugged. The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 7 but; as we crossed the street, I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"

I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family - like "Turn the TV down, please" - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are." He just kept right on talking. I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a TV guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?"

I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, and she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janet had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter on it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package , and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Marybeth, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
  1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of
    their names.
  2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see
  3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
  4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes
    of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Marybeth. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table."

That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Misplaced Worry

I'm home - yippee!!

You know, as I knew in the midst of it, I wish I had just somehow let myself enjoy the week more. I came home to kids feeling better, a SPOTLESS house, laundry done, and all of my flat spots cleaned off, dusted, and re-claimed by Matt. He had gone around with sticky notes, and every time he cleaned off a flat spot, put a sticky note on it that said "RECLAIMED".

I don't know - there are some days that might have secretly annoyed me. But, I'm so tickled that they are clean, I might just try to keep them clear for awhile! Except my nightstand, of course - he had no right to "reclaim" my nightstand! His side of the bed - understandable - but my nightstand - I don't think so!! There may be a couple of other questionable reclamations, but for now, I'm letting it go - at least until the next time I come up the stairs bearing a load of about 9 or 10 or 752 grocery bags ;-)

Anyway, my bloggy friends - you have every right to remind me about my misplaced stress on the 28th when I'm headed to Seattle. Hopefully for that trip, everyone will be healthy, and the boys can just commence to the usual nachos, pizza, movies and video games they usually get when I'm gone!

Thanks, Matt - you are a fabulous father, and you do a great job running the house. And, when I can allow my OCD brain to relax and remember that, we'll both be better off! Thanks for taking such good care of things while I was gone . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Miss My Guys

You know, I used to aspire to be this important business gal - I'd run some company, jet to-and-fro, be very powerful, and very wealthy. The Lord sees the plans of men, and he laughs - oh yes, he has had many opportunities to laugh at me.

I've been at meetings in Portland all week. I've looked forward to the meetings for awhile now. I love this city, 3 nights of uninterrupted sleep, time with friends, and reacquainting with business associates only seen a couple times a year - it all sounded about right. Until it was time to go.

Colton was just getting over illness, and Chance was just starting. Matt is in the middle of his busiest week of the year (unplanned), and nothing seems to be fitting into place the way it's supposed to when I'm out of town.

The backpacks were ready, the clothes laid out, the lists made, but I still had a nagging feeling about leaving my family. It sucks. How do people do this all the time? Today, I can't even imagine it - and I have to leave again in 10 days!!!!

I haven't talked with Chance in two nights. They are either not home yet or not settled in when I'm on an evening break - then I head to a dinner event - and by the time I get done, he's in bed. Colt was still up tonight, so I got to talk to him a bit. And, I'm going home tomorrow, so there's the bright light.

I have such guilt that I'm not taking care of my family - I feel like that's the job I'm best at. On a good day, I don't feel like I give that job enough of my time - on a day like today, I feel like a total failure. God laughs at the plans of men . . . .

I may not be cut out to be a cut-throat businesswoman, but God made me to be a fabulous wife and an excellent mother - I can't wait to get back to that tomorrow. See you soon, guys - I love you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dream Home

Our question of the night at dinner the other night was chosen by Chance:

If you could live anywhere, where would you live, and what kind of home would it be?

So, we go around the table answering the question. Colton has usually come up with a really good answer for last night's question, and has trouble focusing in the current night. I think once we're done, his mind just keeps turning, so that he'll have a great answer for the next night - forgetting that the next night the question will be different.

So, at first, Colton wanted to tell someone he would trade places with and why. Then, we got him to understand the current question, and he decided he would build a cabin, with 3 or 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms - well, maybe 6 bedrooms, but still 2 bathrooms. And, he wants to build it where Granny's cabin is now, because he likes to camp there.

Matt talked about living in Alaska, near a mountain lake. A log cabin set on lots of acreage, with a long winding driveway so you can't see the house from the road.

Heather wants a log home in Montana - maybe on Flathead Lake. Mountains, trees, and water are the three requirements. The home will have a huge kitchen, double-ovens, room for lots of guests, a looooong jacuzzi tub, and many other amenities.

Chance wasn't specific about his type of home - it would be two stories, have 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms - wait, make that 5 bathrooms - that way each bedroom could have a bathroom, and guests could have their own, so when you are visiting in the living room you wouldn't have to use one of the bedroom bathrooms. He decided he wanted to live in Oregon - when Matt asked why Oregon, he said - then I wouldn't have to pump my own gas!

Where would you live, if you had your druthers and the money to do so, and what kind of house would it be??

Monday, January 14, 2008

For Those Who Would Risk Their Lives For Me

Wow - lots going on in our world this weekend, but none more important than this.

A deputy in our county was shot on Thursday night - an off-duty incident, but tragic. He is fighting for his life at Harbor View medical center, and could use our prayers.

Please lift Earl Romig up in your prayers. Please pray for strength and healing for Earl, for strength and faith for his family, and for wisdom for his doctors.

Here is a website dedicated to Earl's story and his road to recovery.

Thanks, friends!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What A Gift!

A few months ago, I posted about Matt taking his wubby to the hospital with him. It's a quilt that my mom made for him that is everyone's favorite for cuddling on the couch because it's so soft on the back. For awhile after he first got it, we had to make the boys take turns each night for who would get to use the blanket.

During one of Chance's turns, he commented that he was the "only one in the whole family that Grandma D hadn't made a quilt for." I was not very sympathetic to him, as I was still a little cranky that Matt got the first quilt, and I still hadn't gotten one yet. I pointed this out, and Chance says - Grandma made you that blanket you have on right now!

He was correct - I was cuddling under the comforter mom had made me when I was in grade school. Though there were a couple times in Jr. High and High School that I thought I was too cool for the pink flowery blanket and it was stored in the closet, I soon wised up. This comforter was always on my college dorm room bed, on my first apartment bed, and all subsequent ones until I got married. I think it was my way to keep "home" with me all the time. Now, it's my official "cuddle blanket" in the living room, and lives by my chair. I still love it.

As soon as mom got word of Chance's tragedy, she quickly went to work planning - asking Chance what kind of quilt he wanted, what colors, etc. He wanted one with a baseball theme, in the shape of a diamond (real practical for a rectangular bed, huh?), and he wanted it to have the soft stuff on the back like his dad's.

As we got deeper into the planning, mom and I realized a couple things - if Chance decided to use this quilt on his bed, the bedroom decor of cowboys and bull riders would have to change - and, there was no way she was making just one quilt - if she made for Chance, she would make for Colton too--so that he would feel special (Grandma's story), and so that he would match the new decor of the shared bedroom (mom's OCD story).

I printed and transferred pictures of each boy onto fabric and sent them to mom - she incorporated them into the top of each quilt - so the boys would always know which end should be the head and which end should be the feet - don't tell her that the pics are only at the top of the bed about 1/4 of the time! That's okay - it was the neatest addition and made the quilts even more special.

The boys now drag the quilts down the stairs to cuddle on the couch, or sleep on the couch on weekend nights. They absolutely love them.

Thanks, mom, for giving the boys such a fabulous gift - the gift of your time, the gift of your love, and the gift of a small piece of home that they can take with them when they leave - they are truly priceless!

Chance's quilt - notice the requested diamond pattern. I love the old-fashioned baseball player fabric that she found, and Chance is huge fan of the American flags. Too cool!

This is Colt's. More of a flag theme, and less baseball - we're not sure he's going to have quite the love for baseball that Chance has, so we wanted his quilt to be a little more versatile. His pics are of him in a variety of places, where Chance's were all of him playing baseball. Didn't they turn out great!
Way to go, mom!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I'm 6 for 10

Thanks to Spark People, a healthy lifestyle support kind of web site, I was able to see just how terrible many of our favorite foods are. Although I didn't try all of them in 2007, I am 6 for 10 in trying these gut busters . . .

10 Worst Foods of 2007
How Many Have You Tried?
-- By John McGran, Food Writer and SparkPeople Contributor

Editor's Note: After much deliberation, food writer John "Mr. Bad Food" McGran has come up with the "best" of the worst foods he’s reviewed over the past year. Here there are in his words (in no particular order)—the worst foods of 2007!

1. Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger
I’m an East Coast kind of guy, but I realize there are no boundaries when it comes to bad foods. So, for this review, I took the advice of 19th Century newspaper editor Horace Greeley who urged, “Go west, young man, go west.” The Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger will gun you down with 1,130 calories (600 from fat), 66g fat (100% of your Daily Reference Value), 28g saturated fat (140% DRV), 150mg cholesterol, 2,540mg sodium (110%DRV), 83g carbs, and 47g protein. I’m beginning to understand why it’s called the Wild West! Sorry boys, but I’ll take the 3:10 to Yuma… and then the next plane to good old Philly, land of cheese steaks and soft pretzels over this one!

2. Pizza Hut Double Deep Pizza
These Double Deep Pizzas are handcrafted by loading an entire pizza with twice the toppings of a medium pizza, plus 50% more cheese and then wrapping the crust over the top to hold all the toppings in. I tried two slices of the Meaty variety. According to the Pizza Hut Website, I also opted for 1,160 calories, 72g fat (110% of your recommended Daily Value), 28g saturated fat (140% DV), 3g trans fat, 200mg cholesterol, 3,980mg sodium (166% DV), 62g carbs, and 62g protein. In all fairness, the suggest serving is one slice (1/8 the medium pie) but who eats a single slice? Not me.

3. El Monterey XX Large Chimichanga
While shopping at Wal-Mart here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I noticed Spicy Red Hot Beef & Bean Chimichangas in a cooler near the deli. They looked suspiciously like my 3-for-a-buck burritos of yesteryear—only bigger and a tad more costly. While a standard burrito wraps a filling of meat, beans and/or cheese in a flour tortilla, a chimichanga is a meat-filled tortilla…deep-fried. The key words "deep-fried" may explain why my mushy 10-ounce XX Large Chimichanga did a Mexican fat dance on my diet to the tune of 920 calories, 57g of fat (15g saturated, 1g trans fat), 40mg cholesterol, 1,140mg sodium, 83g carbs, and 22g protein. Ay, caramba! It's a good thing I only had one.

4. Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble
As Mr. Bad Food, I’ve seen plenty of bad nutrition numbers in my day. But I never saw anything as heart-stopping as what I found on the Denny’s Website one day. It was my stomach that turned upside down when I checked out the nutrition numbers for Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble. Denny’s could be charged with “salt with a deadly weapon” for serving a breakfast entree that packs an unbelievable 4,170mg of sodium! (The Recommended Daily Allowance for sodium is 2,400mg.) The Meat Lover’s Scramble will also shake you down with 1,280 calories, 71g of fat (21 saturated, 0 trans), 565mg cholesterol (the RDA is 300mg), 103g carbs and 54g protein (RDA is 50). By the way, the RDA for fat is 65 grams, so you are taking in more than a day’s fat, cholesterol and sodium in a single meal! So if you find yourself at a Denny’s and someone recommends a scramble, take my advice and scramble for the door!

5. Hardee’s Country Breakfast Burrito
The word burrito sounds like a term for a little burro. If you don’t want to make an ass of yourself—by scarfing down 60 grams of fat with your first meal of the day—then steer clear of the Country Breakfast Burrito at Hardee’s. The king-sized breakfast burrito is cobbled together from two omelets, five hashrounds (their cutesy version of hashbrowns), cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy. The omelets that fill out the tortilla each contain two eggs, crumbled sausage, diced ham and bacon bits. Now, if you’re hungry for 920 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, and nearly 2,000 milligrams of sodium for your morning meal, dig in!

6. KFC Chicken & Biscuit Bowl
The clever cooks at KFC devised a way to toss together an entire chicken dinner in a single bowl. According to the KFC Website, the new bowls are “a blend of mouth-watering KFC flavors and textures all layered together.” A blend…a jumble…a clutter…Call it what you will. But after checking out the nutrition facts, I call the Chicken & Biscuit bowl a great way to flock up your diet! Their nutrition guide says that the Chicken & Biscuit dish will bowl you over with 870 calories, 44g of fat (11 saturated, 4.5 trans), 60mg cholesterol, 2,420mg sodium (101% of your recommended daily amount), 88g carbs, and 29g protein.

7. Starbucks Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème
When is a coffee drink not a coffee drink? When it comes with calories and frothy extras you’d expect to get with a milkshake! Oh, and when it doesn’t even include coffee! Case in point: The 24-ounce (that’s Venti-sized in Starbucks lingo) Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème served up at your local Starbucks. This drink is made from rich chocolate, chocolate chips and milk, and is blended with ice, and topped with whipped cream (optional), and chocolate drizzle. With 670 calories, 22g of total fat, (12g saturated fat; 0.5g of trans fat), and 107g of carbs, it only sounds like a coffee drink. The 12 grams of saturated fat is equal to the saturated fat you get in a McDonald’s Quarter-Pounder with Cheese… but the sandwich packs 160 fewer calories than the Frappuccino!

8. Pizza Hut P’Zone
It takes two hands to handle a Pizza Hut P’Zone. The problem is—according to the nutrition info on their website—it should also take two people! Yes, despite the fact their TV ads showed a bunch of hungry guys chowing down on whole P’Zones, each super-sized dough pockets of meats, cheeses and sauce is considered TWO SERVINGS. The nutrition numbers… doubled for those of us who consider the P’Zones one-meal wonders: P'Zone Classic: 1,220 calories, 46g fat, 22g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 130mg cholesterol, 2,700mg sodium, 144g carbs, 8g fiber, 60g protein. P'Zone Pepperoni: 1,260 calories, 48g fat, 22g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 140mg cholesterol, 2,980mg sodium, 140g carbs, 6g fiber, 64g protein. P'Zone Meaty: 1,380 calories, 58g fat, 26g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 160mg cholesterol, 3,460mg sodium, 144g carbs, 8g fiber, 70g protein.

9. Wendy’s Baconator
The term “Baconator” sparks images of an action flick featuring a leading man with a terribly thick Austrian accent. But if you’re planning on ordering Wendy’s newest blockbuster, think again. I can picture it now: A seatbelt-straining drive-thru customer grabs his grease-stained bag of beef, bacon and fried potatoes, and before driving off to feast upon his Baconator, he shouts to the drive-up window jockey, “I’ll be bawk…for my defibrillator paddles!” Then, just before he zooms out of earshot, the server leans out of her window and yells back at him: “Hasta la vista, flabby!” OK, so it’s poor scriptwriting. But it’s also poor dining to indulge in this Wendy’s double cheeseburger on steroids. The Baconator boasts two beef patties, two slices of cheese and SIX slices of bacon! Do yourself a favor and terminate your urge to order this beast of a burger. The nutritional numbers for the 10-ounce Baconator: 830 calories, 51g of fat (22g saturated, 2.5g trans fat), 170mg of cholesterol, 1,920mg of sodium, 35g of carbs, and 57g of protein.

10. Denny’s Extreme Grand Slam
Ads for Denny’s Grand Slam breakfasts used to feature the tagline, “$2.99…Are you out of your mind?!” Now that the restaurant chain has launched ads for its new Extreme Grand Slam—a breakfast platter piled high with three strips of bacon, three sausage links, two eggs, hash browns and three pancakes—they might want to change it to, “You’re ordering a Denny’s Extreme Grand Slam…Are you out of your freakin’ mind?!” The Denny’s Website urges customers to “fall in love with breakfast all over again.” It then offers up its latest line of “Breakfast Cravers” platters—dishes packed with the artery-clogging goodness of not-so-lean meats. Cases in point: The Meat Craver’s Breakfast and the Steak and Cheese Omelette. The nutritional numbers for the 21-ounce Extreme Grand Slam: 1,160 calories, 64g of fat (17g of saturated fat), 560mg of cholesterol, 3,750mg of sodium, 102g of carbs, 4g of fiber, and 45g of protein.

How did you do? My one piece of advice, based on the foods above, is that if you have the Starbucks Double Chocolate Frapp on December 31st, don't have the Skinny Sugar Free 90 Calorie Mocha to start your resolution on January 1st. It will taste like liquid cardboard. Not that I know for sure - I'm just sayin'. Wait until the taste of the real thing is but a distant memory, then wait another two weeks or so, and see if the s/f mocha hits the spot.

Here's to a healthier 2008!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

More Flat Spots? You've Gotta Be Kidding Me!

So, the boys worked diligently this weekend - planning, working, cutting, planning some more, and assembling.

When all was said & done, I had a new pantry in the back stairwell by the kitchen. It is the original stairway in the house, and it is old, narrow, and steep - so we've had it blocked off with baby gates ever since we moved in with 2-year-old Chance. The only time the gates have been down is the time Chance convinced Grandma D (who was babysitting and helping with new baby Colton), that mom let him slide down those stairs on cardboard all the time!!!

It is sooooo nice! I'm so blessed to have a handy husband, and boys who are willing to help. We went to work right away, filling it up on Sunday afternoon. The top shelf has been deemed "The Island of Misfit Appliances", and the seldom used dehydrator (sorry, Jane), espresso maker, and deep fryer were banned from over stacked cupboards and counter tops.
Our main kitchen counter was almost immediately a haven of cleanliness--and, by the way, it's burgundy! I don't usually get a good enough view to notice that . . .
My baking supplies are now organized, food containers have a permanent home, the counter lost a couple of its "decorative" canisters, and the dog food is in a sealed container on a shelf made just for it.
Best of all, once the curtain is pulled, it's just another hallway - with all that's behind the curtain left completely to the curious visitor's imagination.
Heaven, I say - flat space heaven!!
Oh yeah - here I am at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Except we didn't have a ribbon - I knew that Crime Scene tape I saved from the last time those filthy cops busted down our door would come in handy for something . . .

PS - based on yesterday's post and Matt's quick calculations, he's pretty sure that since he provided me with 20 square feet of concealed flat space, I owe him 20 square feet of clean and pristine flat spaces elsewhere in the house. I'm so giddy with the shelves that I'm about to agree, but I'm just sure I'm getting the short end of the deal, somewhere. What do you think?
PPS - Tie-dye will make a comeback, and I'll be prepared when it does!!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Flat Spots

I think, when Gary Chapman wrote the Five Love Languages, he was pretty close - he missed just one, which is my love language through and through. It is decidedly not - I repeat NOT - Matt's love language. Here are some ways in which we differ on the language of flat spots . . .

  • Matt-Kitchen flat spots should be clean, dusted, clear of any debris - ready for the next culinary creation.
  • Heather - Any flat spot that is not to be used in the next 20 minutes as a work area is free game for mail, newspapers, my purse, camera, full grocery bags, clean dishes, dirty dishes, and anything else that overflowed from my arms on my way in the door. Small, otherwise useless flat spots (like the one on the top of the antique kitchen scale) are perfect for holding everyday items like vitamins, cough medicine, the kids last round of antibiotics, the dogs last round of antibiotics, Kleenex, phone charging cords, etc. In addition, flat spots that are permanently deemed to be unworthy of being called a work area (IE - the far counter which houses the microwave, the 12" between the tops of the cabinets and the ceiling, etc.), are turned into kitchen utensil areas and/or decor areas, meant to house cookbooks, decorative canisters, and even pictures.

Can you already see that our views are a bit far apart in this arena? Let's continue on to the rest of the house . . .

  • Matt - The dining room table is meant for dinner. It should house a tablecloth, maybe a runner, and a candle or two as the centerpiece. It is perfectly acceptable to use the table for homework, projects, etc, but said party should clean up after themselves immediately when finished.
  • Heather - The dining room table, as the certified largest flat spot in the house, must be a multi-tasking member of our family. It is the shipping table, the thank-you card making table (especially if the second-largest flat spot in the house, the craft room table, is otherwise occupied by piles of very important stuff), the homework spot, the I'm playing with my Star Wars figures and I don't want Jake to get them spot, the overflow of the full load of groceries spot, the I've got nowhere else to stick my laptop case because it's usual flat spot is still covered with Christmas decorations spot, etc, etc. It is sometimes such an adventure to get down to the bottom and only then remember what color of tablecloth I put on there last. And, what would the boys do at dinnertime if the 10 minutes before they could set the table (their real dinnertime chore) wasn't spent clearing it of the day's activities?

  • Matt - The living room shelves, end tables, trunks, coffee tables, piano, etc. should be simply decorated, maybe housing a useful lamp or two, the remote controls, a couple of tasteful antiques, and one or two pictures of the kids.
  • Heather - All living room flat spots must be filled to capacity, lest they fall victim to either the grocery overflow, hockey equipment overflow, or very-important-I-did-need-each-and-every-one-that-I-purchased magazine overflow. The fuller they are, the less likely they are to be victims of such tragedy. So, the more pictures and dusty nick-knacks we can cram on each square inch of real-estate, the less likely we are to have to look in that particular place when we can't find a remote, DVD, pair of glasses, etc. It's really a time-saver in the long run. Also, unless company is coming over, there is really no reason to walk all the way across the room to put away those items you use every morning (lotion, clippers, foot file, pen/pencil, etc.). When company is coming (especially unexpectedly), it is very important for some of those flat spots to have drawers underneath for quick stashing - but that's a whole 'nother post entirely!

  • Matt - Nightstands are for a lamp, some chap stick, and a bible.
  • Heather - It is perfectly understandable to want a designated area for the above items - they are all very important. The rest of the area, however, is to be stacked precariously with extra very-important-I-did-need-each-and-every-one-that-I-purchased magazine overflow and books that I intend to read the very next time that I don't fall asleep within 90 seconds of my head hitting the pillow. It is so important that these items are right there, handy, in case that "perfect storm" of alertness ever happens again in this lifetime.

As you can see, there is much potential for points of contention in our ongoing family flat spot debate. This weekend, Matt and Chance made a huge stride toward family unity with one of the greatest gifts they've ever given me. But, since this post is already annoyingly long, you'll have to tune in tomorrow to see what it is!

PS - what's your family's stand on flat spots? Are you clean as a whistle, or do you have to stash, stash, stash when company comes to the door?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Eight for '08

I will not make resolutions that I will not keep.

I will make improvements - I promise myself. Here are eight of them . . .

  1. I will read the bible more. More like everyday. God has written a masterpiece of inspiration and knowledge, contained in 66 books, that have every answer I could ever think to search for - I just have to find it.
  2. I will eat more vegetables and fruit. Every meal. If I can't stomach salad everyday, I will use creative ways to add vegetables to dishes that I already love.
  3. My family will eat more vegetables. I am responsible for 90% of the food our family eats - there is absolutely no reason it can't be healthier.
  4. I will exercise more. I am averaging about 1 time per week the past year, so this should be an easy one to improve on. Whether it's 2 times or 5 times per week, I will improve.
  5. I will have more fun with my kids. I will not play the martyr at the kitchen sink or the laundry pile - I will not be a Martha! I can have fun with my kids and still run our household. I will.
  6. I will drink more water. Less soda, less coffee, and more water. My body needs it.
  7. I will sleep as much as my body says it needs to, without guilt. There is no mold spore growing in my bathroom worthy of losing precious sleep to keep my body healthy. If any of you believe I have actually lost even a wink of sleep over a mold spore, read the archives - but you get the point!
  8. I will be in constant conversation with my Lord throughout the day. There is no part of my day in which He should be left out. Everywhere I allow Him to dwell will be blessed.

Happy New Year! Here's to a most fabulous 2008!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Year in Review

Matt changed positions
Went to Washington DC for Matt's Award
Mom had a terrible car wreck and broke her back
Chance started hockey
Matt turned 35
Verna moved
We got to see the NCAA playoffs in Spokane
Went camping at Steamboat
Metal show - Tree sale in Waterville
Matt got to go to training in Vegas
Metal show - Pullman Mom's Weekend
Baseball begins for Chance
Matt & Chance go on boys' fishing outing with his family
Camping at Lincoln Rock
Judd's free
Metal show - Apple Blossom
Heather turns 33
Metal show - Garden Expo in Spokane
Colton turns 4
Boys ride fire truck to school
Camping at Sun Lakes
Tori graduates
Metal show - Edmonds Art Festival
Vacation Bible School
Women of Faith
Camping at Camano Island
Chance baseball camp
Metal Show - Richland Allied Arts
Matt assigned to ERAD for 5 weeks
Hull Family BBQ
Chance turns 8
Big camping trip to Farragut/Silverwood
Huckleberry Picking
Chance starts 3rd grade
Colton starts pre-school
Paint Barns
Mennonite Auction
Casting Crowns concert with Erinne
Mt. Hood train trip
Metal show - Pullman
School Auction
Camping at Cabin
Harvest Party
Matt gets very sick
We miss Apple Day
Scrapbook Retreat
Antiquities Pictures
Hockey begins for Chance & Colton
Metal Show - MLCA Holiday Show
Trish's Shower
Thanksgiving at The Ark
Ag Christmas Parade
Africa Children's Choir
Matt & Heather turn 11
Trish has Addy Mae
A wonderful Christmas
New Year's Eve trip to Tri-Cities