Sunday, December 13, 2009

One tree wouldn't be bad. . .

Love looking out my kitchen window to this! (It may be up for a loooong time. . .)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And then there was the time we stole the tree. . .

We have weird traditions around here.

One of them is that we never get our tree at the same place.

The other is that we are always trying to hurry to something else. Every year I sort of hope we can break the tradition of "rushing" but usually it is a choice of rush. . . or no tree.

One year we tried to get our tree before the annual Holiday Stroll; we planned to make the Stroll a date since it was so cold and JD was just a baby. We were so late in getting our tree home that we had to call our sitter and ask her to wait for us.

One of the years that was the least rushed was the year we decided to just skip the whole tree farm / hot chocolate / cut the perfect tree option and opt for true convenience: Menard's. Actually, it was pretty . . . fun. (And not too sad of a tree, I might add.)

The best story, though, was the year that we tried to get the tree before Daniel was scheduled to go in for overtime at the fire department. (You'd think that we would learn that the whole tree cutting thing takes more time than we allot for.) We started out slow, then became intentional {quick glances at watches} then hasty, then a little nervous, {seriously, can you make that tree needle shaker thing go faster?} and then we threw our tree in the back of the truck and tore out for home so that Daniel wouldn't be late.

Halfway home, Daniel looked at me and said, "Did you pay for the tree?"

Ummmm. No. "I thought you paid for it."

"No, I didn't pay for it. How could we forget that?"

Well, there was no time for turning around and being sacrificially honest ("Well, chief, I totally didn't show up because I had to pay for my Christmas tree") so we called the tree farm and told them we would send a check in the mail. It wasn't funny then, but it sure is now.

This year, the only tree so far is a fake one on the back porch. It will hold us over until we find the perfect day --no time constraints-- to go get our tree.

I'm thinking some day in the middle of January will work out fine.

One way. . .

to warm up your hands after a cold morning outside in the snow. . .
would be washing dishes for your mom.

How nice is he?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Petroleum Pickle

Even though I really want to forget this incident right now, I realize that someday in the very distant future, I may want to look back and laugh. (Obviously, you can see that Cambria is quite upset by the situation-- not.)

So we have this little bedtime battle thing with Cambria. She thinks she needs the amount of sleep required by a college student cramming for exams. You will think she is sound asleep, only to hear little feet pattering on the floor and the sound of. . .
Monday night: pages turning in books (investigation reveals a cozy library session with bedside lamp turned on)
Tuesday night: drawers opening (impromptu fashion show)
Wednesday night: quiet plastic clinks from a dark corner of living room (sneaking down to play with farm animals, thinking we won't hear her)
Thursday night: 156 ridiculously unnecessary potty trips ("but Mommy, I no go potty in my panties!" - this is called the child's trump card)
Friday night: giggles from room (up in JD's bed, trying to sneak his stuffed animals down to her bottom bunk while he is asleep)
Saturday night: library session in our room with our bedside lamps turned on in our bed
Sunday night: I need drink, I scared, I hungry, I thirsty, (etcetera, etcetera)
And yes, to those of you who have some great quick solution, I have been extremely consistant, firm, disciplined appropriately, sought advice-- pretty much everything I could think of. It is draining to spend all day with your little people and then all night, too. (Not that this is going to change for me anytime, soon, but hey, might as well up with a helpless baby instead of a defiant toddler!)
And then came the night of the vaseline. I thought she was asleep. She should have been. It was 9:45 pm and had been absolutely quiet for some time.
Little feet on the stairs.
"Hi, Mommy." totally cheerful
I look down at her. The front of her purple pajama top (appropriately emblazoned with owls- hey, maybe that's the problem) is smeared with vaseline. Her hands are coated with it. Her blonde hair is filled with the entire container (I checked) and standing on greasy ends.
I cried.
I put her in the tub, investigated the damage upstairs (miraculously minimal) and proceed to try to shampoo out the mess. Three complete washes and I can tell that I am going to need something other than shampoo. I toweled her hair off, protected her pillowcase and put her in bed, planning to tackle the problem in the morning when I could be calm and rational. (I did calmly throw the owl pajama top in the trash without even a smidge of guilt for not trying to salvage it.)
The next day provided some much needed comic relief for Daniel when he got to see the petroleum princess- he howled with laughter, and I had to admit, it was funny. She spent the day with a kercheif over her head. She hated it. I liked that. I didn't have time to deal with the mess until late that night; I started with the first suggestion someone had given me after I humbled myself and put up a public plea for help on Facebook. Cornstarch did the trick, bonded to the vaseline, and we washed it right out with shampoo.
It's just never dull, being a mom. Nope, not around here.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

This is me and Daniel
and Lydia and Tim
and people for the next six blocks, apparently unsteady on their feet after a night with TSO and the lights and lasers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Entertainment and Relaxation Mommy-Style

Girls Night.

{The last time I did a girls night out? Oh. . . . it was a long, long time ago. And movies? On the big screen?! In March for Shopaholic. And before that? Mmmmm. . . .I can hardly remember. It was too long ago.}

We wanted to see this: Well, sorry, it only showed once today, at 1pm.

Hmm, let's see if we can find another theater showing it.

Three of us, over by the phone booth phone book, texting husbands to see if they could come up with another theater showing something other than Saw 6, suddenly realized that something that would be annoying for the average movie goer really didn't bother us at all. A long delay? No prob. No one was complaining about hunger or potty trips! It was kind of frightening to realize that we were having a lot of fun doing. . . really, nothing. We ended up shopping at Target until the late showing of this:

which was very funny. It feels good to laugh. Especially with girlfriends.

Now for another cup of coffee to jolt me back to the reality of my mommy-job. {Which I always enjoy a lot more after a little break.}

Monday, October 26, 2009

What men will never feel:

With eleven weeks of pregnancy left, I'm celebrating by pointing out a few things that are just unforgettable about carrying a baby that men will never experience.

~"beached whale syndrome" (this is where you try to roll over in bed)

~hunger but no room in their stomachs for food. (This is why pregnant women seem to eat all the time. We really aren't eating that much - we just have to eat lots of little meals.)

~sharp kicks to their kidneys.

~the need to use the restroom before they go to bed, before they actually go to sleep, two hours after they fall asleep, two hours before they wake up, and the minute their eyes pop open in the morning.

~inability to reach comfortably to shave legs or paint toenails. (oh, wait. . . men don't do that.)

~the need for five different sizes of clothes for their different stages: Normal (whatever that is), the "Is-She-Preggo-Or-Just-Putting-On-Weight?" stage, Pregnant (where you can sort of look cute in maternity tops), REALLY Pregnant (the two month period where everyone feels the need to remind you how uncomfortable you look) and then Post-Pregnancy. (No, you do not revert back to "normal" when the little munchkin pops out. In fact, that introduces a whole slew of different sizing problems.) This is why we need to shop!

So~ did I leave any experiences out?

Saturday, October 24, 2009


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. . .and his glasses!

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And just for the record, he usually doesn't wear his hat backwards. . . Cambria did that for him!

I love Grandpa. . .

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Every emergency needs someone to take charge!

(I asked Daniel to caption this picture of Cambria in the engine ~ I guess she looks like she's taking charge, huh?!)
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Thursday, October 22, 2009


"Our lives hang in the balance, one might say. And if there is no balance, then they are indeed hanging by a thread." {Robert Benson}

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The menu this week. . .

. . .because I think they are fun to read.

. . .because I would like to read yours.

. . .because I spend half of my life right now doing food related things, and there ought to be some acknowledgment of this. (Besides consuming the food.)

~ Creamy Chicken Soup and Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

~ Carbonara and Spinach Salad

~ Shake and Bake Chicken Fingers, Squash, and Peas

~ Waffles and Fruit Smoothies

~ Pizza

~ Chili - topped Baked Potatoes

~ Roast Beef, Potatoes and Carrots (crock pot style)

I mix and match this menu and will probably be able to stretch it into next week. Breakfasts and lunches here are very simple and fuss free. Yogurt, oatmeal, fresh fruit, toast combination for breakfasts and usually simple sandwiches with raw vegetables for lunch. My kids could live on carrot sticks and ranch dressing! (Daniel, not so much. )

Creamy Chicken Soup

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup italian dressing
6 small red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and diced
6 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 bunch green onions, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 8 ounce package neufchatel cheese
2 cups frozen peas
fresh ground salt and pepper

Cook the chicken and dressing in Crock Pot on High for 4-5 hours; cut into small pieces, reserving liquid for soup. Combine the chicken, broth, onions, potatoes, carrots, celery and liquid from chicken in a large saucepan. Simmer until tender. Add milk, neufchatel, and peas. Stir until cheese is melted and peas are cooked. Season to taste.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Deep Thoughts

I. Wish. I. Could. Be. Organized.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It Flies. I think.

I have thrown this . . . thing . . . in the trash three different times now. It mysteriously keeps rescuing itself from certain destruction. Hmm. I wonder if it is recruiting outside help?


Most women just don't have any problem holding the baby and sweeping the deck. Enough said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweet Cream Cornbread

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup oil
1 cup half and half

Mix dry ingredients; add wet ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Pour into greased, round 9" pan. Bake 18 - 20 minutes at 400.

Soft Breadsticks

1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5-6 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
butter for brushing tops
more garlic salt
parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water; let stand for five minutes. Add the milk, egg, oil, salt, whole wheat and 3 cups white flour. Beat until smooth. Beat five minutes longer. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead 8-10 minutes, turn into greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise for one hour. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Combine cornmeal and italian seasoning, sprinkle over work surface. Roll each section of dough into the cornmeal and shape into a 15 inch long rope. Divide into 3 pieces, twist each, and place on greased baking sheet. Let rise for another 10-15 minutes, bake at 400 for 8-12 minutes. Brush twists with butter, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan. Delish!!

Toscana Soup

(like Olive Garden's)

1 lb. Italian sausage
8 ounces smoked bacon, chopped
5 cups water
4 chicken boullion cubes
3 large potatoes, scrubbed, cut into quarters, and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 cups half and half

Brown sausage, drain and set aside. Fry bacon, drain and set aside. Mix water, boullion cubes, potatoes, garlic and onion in a pot. Simmer over medium heat, about 10-15 minutes. Add sausage and bacon. Simmer 10 minutes. Add spinach and half and half. Season with salt and pepper. Heat through but do not allow to boil.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thoughts on teaching my kids at home. . .

I wonder if I could be termed a reluctant homeschooler? I dislike the images and labels that instantly come to mind and often find myself frustrated by the extremes that homeschooling can seem to cause. Then comes the fact that I just don't consider myself a teacher! Say the words "dream career" and teaching wouldn't even cross my mind.

But. . . here we are, embarking on the journey of teaching our kids at home. For us it is a positive choice, not a negative one. We aren't out to criticize those who choose a different educational path. We aren't seeking to imply that we are smarter and wiser than the many gifted educators in our community. It is simply the best choice for our family.

We want our kids to love God; we want them to intelligently contribute their gifts and abilities to society in a way that glorifies Him. Teaching our kids at home is the best way to accomplish those goals right now. Homeschooling - not our main purpose. Raising our kids to love God . . . that's what matters to us above all else.

But on a lighter note. . .

I never thought I would enjoy this teaching stuff as much as I am. We are having a blast. Our biggest challenge is making sure Cambria doesn't tear apart anything major while we are studying.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

His Idea

Jacob Daniel, explaining to someone that we are going to have a new baby at our house: "We are having it because I asked for it. We were at a park, and I told my mommy that I would like a baby, so we are having one!"

That is interesting . . . I do remember the park conversation; I did not, however, lead him to believe that he is the reason we are expecting number three!

Watch the Language, Little Lady


{after finally figuring out how to manage the straw in her milkshake}

Cambria, ecstatic, voice at top volume:

"Mommy, I not blow, I suck!!"


Movie: Foovie

Mercy: Moocy

McDonald's: Donald's

French Fries: Fufies

Any Meal: Beffust (breakfast)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Puppy Party

Tea for the mommies. . .Real PA system + fascinated kids = barking contest. Priceless.

Poor deprived JD and Cambria had to bring stuffed dogs. At least they were named. Cambria's: Charlie. JD's: Menards. (It's his favorite place, people.)

A real dog. . . beloved Wally.
Cambria, Charlie, and a quick thumb sucking moment.
I really think my little sisters are the most creative teenagers ever. Seriously, a puppy party?! It was just too cute, from the introduce-your-dog beginning to the puppy chow snack ending. They had 57 guests, 6 real dogs, and numerous Menards and Charlie type breeds.

The Great Annual Canoe Trip

Boys climb trees when they're camping. . .
Girls giggle. . .
We try to canoe without tipping. . . (successful once again)
The kids are getting some quality Aunt E'beth and Wally time. . .
And then there is the annual kickball game, as well!
Daniel models resourcefulness yet again: if a hammer cannot be located, use an ax!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Use what talents you possess:
The woods would be very silent
If no birds sang
Except those that sang best.

Henry Van Dyke

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September Eleventh

I won't forget 9/11. I'm thankful for the heroes who gave their lives. I can't help but think about the firefighters who met eternity on the date of 9/11 since my husband chose that career.

But- here's the other side. 9/11 is over. Terrorism continues, and the heroes now are wearing fatigues and still laying their lives on the line for the freedom and safety of Americans.

{The picture at the top is my brother-in-law's vehicle for the next year.}

We're proud of you, Stephen- can't wait until you come home!

What is there to Love?

I am rinsing frozen shrimp at the sink and I can't resist sampling one. Ahhh. Bliss.

Me: (to no one in particular) "I so love shrimp!"

JD: "I so don't love shrimp!"

All the more for me!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tent Time

. . .picture from a father/son campout that was one of the highlights of JD's summer.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

UNI- 16 vs. Iowa- 17. . . Whew!

I woke up this morning to JD standing at my bedside asking if he could "call Daddy to find out what time the game started." Only a heartless mamma would deny that earnest request, so- here he is, getting the stats from his dad.
In lieu of the black and gold flag that I am a) too cheap to buy and b) unwilling to swap for the red, white and blue.

Friday, September 4, 2009

No, I don't hate reporters, but. . .

. . . this is just too funny. I couldn't resist one more.

our phone date last night. . .

Daniel and I spend so much time apart; it's a treat to spend it together and we don't take it for granted.

But. . .if you can't be together, you can always laugh until your stomach hurts watching YouTube videos simultaneously, via the phone. Yep, we're weird. You can go ahead and say it. (You were thinking it, right?)

Two faves from last night. . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I went looking for finger puppet patterns to go with the book "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" . . . I found a great website with free patterns and this was so easy to make! They have all sorts of finger puppets- I'm dying to make the elephant next. What storybook goes with that? It's my new birthday gift! (If you are under the age of 8, I guess.)

The Cubbie and the Puggle {2009}

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MFD Picnic

She is marching with purpose toward the food!And trying to push her daddy, here. How's that working for you, Cambria?
JD getting some tire swing action. . .
with a little help from his dad!
Her barrette covers her new 'haircut' pretty well- pictures to follow of that calamity.
MFD firefighters, including some retirees. Cool to include them, too! I liked that, and I'm sure they did, too.