Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful Statements

A quick, easy idea for your Thanksgiving decorations is a tradition we started in our family a few years ago. It's all about thankfulness.
I have each person that is going to attend the Thanksgiving meal give me 2 "Thankful Statements". Then, I transfer them onto business cards, in fall colors and fun fonts.

After I cut out the business cards, I take 4 x 6 card stock, and fold in 1/2, creating a table tent. Then, I adhere the business card with the thankful statement to one side, and either add embellishments (if I have time), or let the words speak for themselves.

Then, we just set up the table tents - there are usually 30-50 of them, in the centerpiece of the table, around the serving area, and any other flat spots that are easily accessible. It's fun to walk around and see what the kids wrote, and interesting to see how people's perspectives change from year to year.
I've saved all of our family's from each year (everyone takes home their own at the end of the meal), and I'll someday make a THANKFUL scrapbook out of all of our Thankful Statements.
Darla - can you tell I'm getting ready for Circle Journal?????

Monday, November 24, 2008

Honey - Our Golden Opportunity

So, we bottled up some honey this weekend.

6 gallons to be exact.

I hope we have enough to last us through the year. I'd hate to get to next October, and not have a squirt of the sweet nectar for my English muffin. Extra crispy sourdough, of course.

I think, if we don't give too much away at Christmas, we'll still be okay.

The boys both helped with the bottling process, and these were Colton's observations.

Matt was running the propane burner, I was ladling, Colton was putting lids on, Matt was also rinsing any drippy bottles, and Chance was applying the brim of the honey bear hat, which includes handy honey info like how much is in the bottle and how to snip the top of the squirty tube.

Wow. I'm extra intelligent tonight, aren't I?

Anyway, we had a pretty good system going. Minimal spills, and lots of honey.

Colton - Hey we're all in a line!

Daddy - Like an assembly line, huh buddy?

Colton - Yep, and we all have opportunities.

Mommy - Opportunities?

Colton - Yep. Opportunities!

Mommy - Like what?

Colton - Opportunities - you know, those things you have to do when you don't get to do the cool stuff.

Daddy - Ohhhhh. Do you mean responsibilities?

Colton - Yeah. Responsibilities. We all have responsibilities. Can we take a break now?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Multiple Hats, Multiple Glasses - at least they're both in the accessory family

I've been wearing more hats than usual the past week. It has caused my head to feel a bit cluttered and befuddled, which is the excuse I'm using for why I'm possibly losing my mind. Please promise to visit me in the asylum.

In the last few days, I have been a tourist, vacationer, wedding reader, sister, speech giver, daughter, long-distance mother, grateful student, comforting friend, wife, employee, conference call participant, blogger, at-home mother, packer, unpacker, meeting attendee, hockey mom, launderer, lunch packer, auction organizer, data enterer, decision maker, classroom project organizer, snack supervisor, computer helper, dog retriever, bible study attendee, shopper, reader, school board member, and others that I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Needless to say, not one hat is getting its required face time. It's a take whatever you can get kind of place at the top of my head. And yesterday, the good mommy hat must have found it too crowded.

For, somewhere in the back of my mind, Colton's glasses probably looked too big when he was heading out the door for school, and for certain they were uncharacteristically clean.

At church dinner, I had opportunity to maybe look a little closer. They were more droopy than usual.

He requested us to go get them tightened.

Said he couldn't see very well.

Probably because I let him go all day with his big brother's spare glasses.

This morning, his exclamation of "Mommy, I can see everything!" couldn't have made me feel any more guilty.

Mom of the year - right here.

Sorry, Mrs. Cloyd. It wasn't that he didn't know it was an apple you were pointing to - he just couldn't see you. We'll do better tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Because I'm Always Learning

What better way to forgo "real" writing, and fall back on the handy list format, than to turn it into a list of things you've learned? Then, instead of lazy, you just look like one of those lifelong learner kind of people. So, without furether ado, I give you:

Things I Learned on my Mexico Vacation
  1. 4:00 am is very, very early. Especially when you stayed up late to finish packing the night before.
  2. The east side of our state is so much easier to fly out of than the west side.
  3. The flying fairy was somehow on our side this trip - filling all three seats in our aisle only during one stretch out of four.
  4. Most people in our group sat beside various stages of repulsion on the first flight - from smell to drunkenness to just plain weird. After our conversations during the first layover, I was glad we only got just plain weird.
  5. Mexican customs was almost unbearably long, but surprisingly simple once you were to the front of the line. I don't think they care what you bring in.
  6. Traffic laws, signals, and imaginary lane lines are mere suggestions in Mexico. Especially if you are a taxi, van, or bus driver.
  7. There are many more recognizable names (PTL - Starbucks!) than I expected.
  8. Everyone in Mexico conveniently either has what you are looking to buy, or has a very good friend who has what you are looking to buy.
  9. "Today, for you, I make special deal."
  10. The stark disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots" is only moments outside of town, if you care to look.
  11. I would recommend the dune buggies every time.
  12. If you value your camera and even your video camera, I would recommend driving with a senior citizen who is not secretly racing his friend in the buggy in front of you.
  13. Admittedly, you get better souvenir photos with the Nascar wannabes than with Miss Daisy's driver.
  14. If you are bringing your video camera because you were asked to film the wedding, which is actually the main reason for the trip, then you probably shouldn't take your video camera on a dune buggy that morning with the Nascar wannabe.
  15. But, if you take out the memory card, battery, and open all possible doors, then lay it in the hot Mexican sun to dry, it will recover just in time for you to fulfill your previously stated obligations.
  16. The still camera will still work, but many pictures will be curiously "watermarked".
  17. The Puerto Vallarta ocean is in the mid-70's.
  18. 20 degrees makes a world of difference in the ocean fun factor.
  19. I am a terrible barterer.
  20. This makes the marketplace in Mexico a very stressful place for me.
  21. Give me a mall and a price tag (with a clearly marked sale price) any day of the week.
  22. Mexico weddings are beautiful and gorgeous.
  23. So are my brother and his new wife.
  24. Mexican time is a real and true phenomenon.
  25. It takes about 1 day to get used to it.
  26. It will take about 1 week to get to work on time when you get back.
  27. All-inclusive is the way to go.
  28. No food or drink related stress - just which kind of meat to get at the taco bar. What a welcome change.
  29. While walking on the iguana path, if you jump and scream "Oh, shoot!" (or something), the iguanas will go into hiding, and punish you for your outburst. You then need to will yourself to walk very quietly down the rest of the path to enjoy more iguanas that were probably beyond hearing your first outburst.
  30. It will be worth the quiet walking.
  31. Spiders in Mexico are very big.
  32. And scary.
  33. You can make all the detailed lists you want, but your son will inevitably get sick somewhere that the list is unavailable at the time.
  34. It will break your heart that you are not home.
  35. Your mother-in-law will handle the situation beautifully (thanks, Verna) and give him all the love you wish you could do in person.
  36. It will be forgotten in the mayhem of the gifts and prizes by the time you get home.
  37. You will have your to-do list back up to about 20 items by the time you board your plane to come home.
  38. It will seem overwhelming.
  39. So, you will apply the Mexican time theory to attempt to prolong your vacation.
  40. The list will not go away.
  41. So, you will make another, much more entertaining list on your blog to further avoid impending doom.
  42. It will make you wish you were still in Mexico.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Be Back Soon

Hey all.

I'm off to the Seashores of Old Mexico to watch a weddin'.

See ya next week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Because your best friend is not always your smartest friend

We had a pretty eventful weekend. There was a scrap retreat to attend (thanks Deb & Jane!), a bachelor party for my brother, some visiting with my mom, and some cleaning around the house.

We did the "big toy clean-out" yesterday. You know, the one where you tell your kids that if they don't make room and either give away or throw away approximately 2/3 of their toys, Santa will drive right by because he will see that they already have plenty? Yeah, that one. The not-so-subtle manipulation, it was in prime form yesterday. To include a second sort-through of the keeper pile. We were relentless. Grandmas, if you're listening, my boys do not need anymore stuffed animals - and neither does Goodwill.

The constant disarray of the house all afternoon, paired with the constant temptation for our kleptomaniac canine companion (aka Klepto-Dog) to steal anything not bolted down, resulted in Jake's demotion to "outside dog" for the day. His pathetic face gazing through the windows at our obvious toy-sorting joy was a sight to behold. He lived for the garbage runs, when the "throw away" bin would finally be too full, and Jake would have a brief moment of togetherness with whomever took the bag out.

I think his psyche took a bit of a beating, and may have interrupted the mental processes of his otherwise very intelligent brain.

As the boys finished up the re-organizing of the toy area, Matt was busy cleaning out the grill and dutch oven from our last camping trip. Yes, it's been two weeks. Yes, I've seen grosser things than a dutch oven that sat for two weeks - I just can't recall any at the moment. Grossness that led to the decision that we must sterilize said dutch oven, in a prolonged high-heat environment.

Our choice - the BBQ.

Unfortunately, the BBQ is where we store the cat food. Remember Klepto-Dog? Yeah, that's why.

In a moment of hazy mental clarity, Matt chose to set the cat food on the shelf beside the BBQ. He apparently didn't remember throwing away 7 or 78 toys that Klepto-Dog had rendered useless, nor did he remember Klepto-Dog's penchant for cat food. I'm going to approximate that it was nearing 6:00 pm.

At about 7:00 or 7:30, I went outside to feed said cats. No cat food. You guessed it, Klepto-Dog. Although, he was "smart enough" to be nowhere in the vicinity.

We finished up with showers, tubbies, and getting the boys to bed. We folded a few loads of laundry. And then I remembered I had not yet emptied the car from my scrapbook retreat. The car is one full story below our main level. My crafty room is one full story above our main level. That would make two levels which a few boxes of crafty stuff must be carried up. It was an easy thing to procrastinate.

Jake was noticeably absent during the trips up and down the stairs. I thought it was odd, due to his lack of attention throughout the afternoon. But, I quickly reasoned he was still feeling guilty about the cat food, and didn't think much more of it.

Until about 10:30.

We're getting ready to go to bed, and we still haven't seen Jake since the cat food incident. I call for him to come in, but no luck. I wait a couple minutes, thinking he is out in the far reaches of the pasture, and just needs some time to make it to the door. I call again. No luck.

Matt heads outside to make sure he isn't locked in the shop for some reason. Again, no luck.

He comes back in and puts jeans and boots back on, ready to go scour the ditches and roads near our house.

About 10 minutes later, he comes in the back door. "Honey, you need to come here." I couldn't really read his tone, and I was expecting the worst. I'm in my jammies. "Do I need to get dressed?" I breathed a sigh of relief. "No, just come here."

And this is what we saw . . .

What a dork.

To give Matt his deserved props, after I asked him what he did with the cat food in the BBQ, and we figured out he had left it in a vulnerable state, he jokingly said, "I bet Jake's already stuck somewhere and can't get that thing off his head."

Because this may have happened once before with a bucket. And my dog's long-term memory must not be hitting on all cylinders. I'm sure he's got it all figured out now, though. I bet we could leave that cat food bag right in front of his dish and he'd be smart enough to leave it along. 5 hours with a bag on your head will do that to ya. Or not.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style - Pistachio Dessert

My cousin Heidi introduced us to this dessert at a recent wedding shower, and it will immediately become a part of every holiday gathering. It's so scrumptious!

Pistachio Frozen Dessert

2 tbs butter
¾ cup cracker crumbs
¾ cup cold milk
1 package instant pistachio pudding (3.4 oz)
2 cups vanilla ice cream softened
8 oz carton cool whip
2 heath bars (1.4 oz) crushed

In a microwave safe dish, melt butter. Still in cracker crumbs, press mixture into bottom of dish. In a bowl, mix milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Whisk in ice cream. Pour over crust. Cover and freeze for 2 hours or more. Spread w/whipped topping, sprinkle w/ crushed candy bars. Freeze for 1 hr or until firm. Yield’s 8 servings.

Don't know what you're making for the holiday feasts yet? Head over to Overwhelmed with Joy, and enjoy a plethora of holiday fixin's.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Whatsoever You Do

It's rice time again. The Rice for Cambodia campaign is in full swing over at Positive Life Radio.

Couple that with a bit of drive time today, and some music courtesy of Monk & Neagle. Twenty First Time, you tear my heart out.

For us, today, that added up to a chance to make a visible, physical difference in some one's life. If you are looking for a donation opportunity that it is a one-time donation, no monthly commitment, but still a long-term impact, then the Rice for Cambodia campaign might be for you.

Every year, a radio station in our area partners with Musicianaries International to bring rice to the drought-ridden regions of Cambodia. Along with the rice, the Cambodians get a copy of the gospel in their language, and a glimpse of the hope that comes from a life lived for Jesus Christ.

It has been the backbone of some great lessons in our family. Like rice night. Which we will repeat either Sunday or Monday this week. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm toying with the idea of doing it more often, but don't tell Matt and the boys - I haven't let them in on my plans yet! You can read about last year's experience here.

If you are interested in feeding a Cambodian family for 4-6 weeks with a donation of $15, go here to make a pledge. If you are feeling flush and want to feed many, many more families (1 Ton worth), go to the same page and pledge $600.

Here's the lyrics to the Monk & Neagle song, Twenty First Time. Although I am already supportive of the Rice for Cambodia campaign, the combination of the two messages had me immediately ready to make a difference.

Check it out:

Nowhere to live, nowhere to fall

he used to have money, but he’s wasted it all.

His face is a photograph burned in my mind,

but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He sleeps under stars, that’s all he can afford

His blanket's an old coat he’s had since the war

He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine

But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He may be a drifter, he’s grown old and gray

But what if he’s Jesus and I walk away?

I say I’m the body and drink of the wine

but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

She’s twenty-nine but she feels forty-eight

She can’t raise three kids on minimum wage

She’s cryin’ in back of the welfare line

but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

She may be a stranger tryin’ to get through the day

but what if it’s Jesus and I walk away?

I say I’m the body and drink of the wine

but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

This is a call for a change in my heart

I realize that I’ve not been doin’ my part

when I needed a Savior, I found it in Him

He gave to me, now I’ll give back to them

Drifter or stranger, father or son

I’ll look for Jesus in every one

’cause I am the body and drink of the wine

and I’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time

Thanks for listening. Tomorrow, I promise, no causes to support. I'll attempt something light-hearted, funny, and just plain fun. Until then, try some rice for dinner - it'll change your life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Making a difference

I hope you all made your voices heard at the polls today.

There are several bloggers in the Dominican Republic this week, hoping to make a difference for a boatload of needy kids.

Check out their blogs when you have time.

I dare you heart not to be tugged by these stories.

The Compassion Bloggers