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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Morg

This is my friend Morgan........

We were headed out to Praise and Coffee on this particular night.

Morg is the type of friend I never thought I would have.

My husband told me I should spend some time talking to her....I was wrangling kids at church and thought that sounded as possible as me becoming a marathon runner. I liked Morgan, how can anyone not with her cheery disposition?, and she has amazing taste in style but that was it, I thought. I am busy being a wife and mother and she's a single girl about to head off to Europe for a few months.

Shame on me. And I hope she forgives me.

But I think she has because she brings me treats like this.....
Allllllllllllllll the time. This is apple cake with sour cream frosting and devils food cake with caramel frosting.

From scratch, people.

I love Morgan's bubbly personality, her inability to be anything but honest, the way the boys just love her to pieces, the way she is so incredibly girly she knows just what I need even if I didn't know it existed (Like So Soft conditioner for my hair or to hunt out deals at TJ Maxx). She is able to know my day is tough and hard and sweep us ALL up and cheer us with food and good times.

She is an amazing friend and I cherish her friendship so greatly.

We have spent countless amounts of time discussing the food network ( I did not ever ever ever watch it till she convinced me it is thrilling television, and she's right ), pouring over cookbooks and talking about good food.

She has begun a new blog, Ruffles and Cream. I seriously suggest you follow it, favorite it, read it constantly.

If you follow me on twitter, you see me talking to her allllll the time at her handle @rufflessequins.

God definitely knew I needed Morgan as a friend in my life, and I am so glad He spared her and gave me her as a great gift. We almost weren't friends, I cannot imagine that now. Can't fathom it at all.

If she hadn't survived two bouts of cancer at 17 and 21.....

If I hadn't set aside my prejudice of being too old...
(no smart aleck comments from my husband on this one)

If I'd decided I didn't need another friend....

All the laughs I would have missed out on.

Who needs to be your new best friend?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

House Flies

I am embarrassed to even admit this.....but.......

We are currently bombarded with house flies.

Consider yourself sufficiently warned if you come over.

It's bad when you have friends over and say "Excuse me" and begin swatting the nasty things as you try to carry on a conversation as though it's just as normal as can be.

I laugh when someone says "I have four flies in my kitchen and they are driving me batty."

I laugh because I know how batty ONE fly is to me.

And because there are probably 4o flies in my kitchen right now. As I type this. Hoping they don't find me in the dining room (where my computer is).

The boys find it a sport of sort. And if they get a nice fat juicy fly they run it out to feed the toads and frogs and snakes and whatever else is out there in the water tank.

I, however, have terrible aim.

I can NOT enter fly season without thinking of Mary over in Montana. This is one of my most favorite posts from her...

That statement is so very sad and so very true.

Anyway, You all MUST read this post. It's a true classic. And further evidence that my life and her life can be eerily the same...even if I don't have her beautiful cows.

Monday, August 22, 2011

S1's Great Summer Reading Prize

If you have read my blog for any amount of time you know that I work at a library part time.
I
Love
It
This is my first summer working with a Summer Reading Program. It is also the first time I have had the boys involved. They sorta were forced too, moma working at the library and all.
I have taken them in years past but haven't really harped on them to read and when we got to the library we got to the library. It wasn't a big deal to me.
But THIS summer they were guaranteed at least ONE day a week at the library. All the kids did a great job reading and I was proud of them....
But the one who read the most was S1.
We had chosen as one of the prizes the whole Brian Series from Gary Paulsen. He has read them all, some of them two or three times, and they are his favorite books but he doesn't own a one of them.
For ever 15 minutes you spend reading, you get one ticket. On that ticket you write your name and then we had age appropriate prizes that you would try to win. All the tickets were collected in various coffee cans (um, yes, I mighta had a little something to do with the coffee can donation).
On the last day of the summer reading program, with a donation from the fabulous Plainwell Ice Cream, all the kids from the summer reading program gathered in the library with crossed fingers in hopes their name was chosen among all the names for a prize.
S4's name wasn't chosen for the craft kit. He sobbed. I was glad I didn't have the mess to clean up but I felt terrible for him too. It's all he's talked about this entire summer.
All my boys were hoping for the fifty dollar gift card to Walmart. Not a one of them won it.
When it came time for the Gary Paulsen series, S1 couldn't sit still. He was literally bouncing. He had poured nearly every single ticket into that can to win those books.
And win he did.
The boy coulda won a million dollars he was that excited.

His Daddy was pretty stinkin' proud of him too. As a guy who doesn't like to read a book a bit, he sure was proud of the time and effort S1 put into reading.
note S4's bunny ears that didn't reach the top of anyone's head

Soooooo proud of S1!!!!!!

All libraries have a Summer Reading Program. Most libraries have special programs all year long, but none as involved as the summer reading. Be sure to check them out!

And if any of you have book clubs...will you send me some info on how you go about that? We are thinking of starting an adult one at the library this winter. Thanks!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bunnies in the Sand Box

Some of have asked about the bunnies.

If I had to, I could write you a story about the bunnies EACH and EVERY day.

Here is a video for you....because you just have to see it to believe it.

Enjoy.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

New (to me) Oven/Stove

On a bad day, when it was hot out, and I got flipped off by a driver (and this never happens to me)...my oven broke.

Just imagine me without an oven for a moment.

It's a sad thing, isn't it?

Devastating really.

Three of the burners still worked and the oven was fine but I knew it was just a little bit of time before it broke for GOOD.

I've never liked this flat top stove. If you ever are considering one and you also are considering canning, do NOT buy a flat top stove. This one had actually cracked a long time ago when I canned on it and I knew eventually it would break for good...but I did not think it would break this badly.

I became the ultimate hunter on craigslist. Karen from Stairstep Boys would have been so proud of me.

I came across some awesome retro stoves that I mighta drooled over a bit but knew would never work, found a few crazy people (one guy wanted me to meet him at an abandoned house to get the stove...uh, no). By the time I came across "Stove, $50" my hopes had dwindled significantly.

Finding a raised stove or whatever they are called is harder than you think. And this one had no picture, and I never click on them if they don't have photo. When the woman answered, I'll admit right now, I was rude.

I was tired of dealing with people and a little freaked out by the crazy guy so I drilled this woman on the phone.

And, bless her, she was as sweet as she could be to me and I found myself fully trusting her and thinking "I think she could be one of my best friends."

When the text picture didn't come through to my phone, she apologized profusely and said she would have someone more "tech savvy" than her send it. I knew I liked this woman!

We drove the good long distance to get the stove on a Friday night when both my hubby and I had to work the next day. When I called to say we were on our way, I could hear kids screaming in the background. Her house sounded like mine.

We pulled onto the narrow little road and found her quaint little house. It was kinda easy to find due the kids all in the front yard.

The stove actually looked newer than I had thought it would be. (Hip hip hooray!) AND it was bigger than my stove by a lot (BONUS!) and it was clean even after sitting in her garage. The reason they were selling it? Because she likes a gas stove better....

This woman rocked.

Her husband offered to help load it and my first thought was the guy was retired military or something. He was soft spoken and seemed really laid back, which was nice after our frantic drive over there. My husband got to talking to him (as my husband does with any and everyone) and he mentioned he was between jobs. I felt bad they were just selling the stove for fifty dollars, they probably really needed the money and six kids means that fifty dollars doesn't even buy pizza out for them!

The woman offered me a seat on her deck chair and we idly talked while the kids played baseball in the front yard. Her teenage daughter and I exchanged tips on our love of coffee and my heart melted a bit at the little toddling girl in the play-school car.

This was by far one of the nicest families I was happy to have met.

Craigslist rocks after all.

As we drove away, S1 handed me up some baseball cards. "Where did you get these?" I asked, a little panicked one of the boys forgot to give them back while we were there. I was already forming my embarrassing apology when my husband said "Didn't you hear? He gave them to us!"

"Really? That was nice...."

"Look!" My husband said, "He played professionally. These are HIM on the baseball cards."

I looked closer and could totally see that guy I though was x-military on the baseball card.

His name hadn't meant a thing to us, we knew nothing of his career...but we had just met Chad Curtis. (Look him up on google, it' a great read.)

And his wife sold me the best stove I do believe I have ever owned.


(Please note, that's not my coffee pot. It's the campers. It just happens to be there in the picture. I'm a tea kettle and french press sort of gal. And yes, I suppose my fridge and bulletin board really is that cluttered....I'd never noticed that before. But, hey, this is real life here.)

Funny how God takes a moment you think "Ug! God, do you see us down here? Do you know I can't take much more this week?"

And then He says, "Well, look here, daughter of mine, I'll give you a BETTER stove than you dreamed you would get and let you meet some great people just because I can."

I love how God works like that....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Birthday Cake Surprise

You heard all about my romantic husband's surprise date for me. That was Saturday, the day BEFORE my birthday.
The next day was my actual birthday and I spent the day letting my husband make me steak and then sorta picked up the house a bit and answered facebook birthday well wishes. I decided I really needed a cake for my birthday and even though I didn't have red food coloring I thought I would try a Red Velvet cake.
Just about that time, a vehicle pulled in. And from the back of the mini van came my mom and my sister singing happy birthday to me.
(I don't normally wear a white dress at HERE at my HOUSE (in fact, my mom was thinking I was exceptionally brave and daring to purchase one) but this is my BIRTHDAY dress and I wanted to show them what my romantic hubby had bought me.)

My mom and sister came bearing cake.
This cake is made with coffee. Do you have to wonder then why it is my favorite? Then you top it with cherry pie filling and then you top that with cool whip. It's soooooo yummy.

Please note that I am not 311 years old. My mom had a three candle, a one candle and I had a single candle to make my correct age. My boys loved teasing me I was 311 though.

And it's a good thing they showed up because my birthday cake turned out like this........
Pitiful.

I had my mom snap a photo of all of us on my birthday.
Why, yes, that IS S2 in his football gear (he had to show everyone!) and that is S4 with a helmet on. Because you always take pictures on Moma's birthday with a helmet on.

Please excuse the clean laundry piled in the chair. And the seeds in the other chair.....

But I rather love this photo anyhow.

I happened to catch a cute picture of Blaine, my sister's newest baby. How can you NOT love those big ol cheeks?
S4 had to give Baby Backup a big ol hug....
My niece, I love her. She is so........okay words escape me. I am just glad she likes me now. And I have to share this story with you....In Sunday school they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she shot her hand in the air and growled authoritatively "A Dinosaur!"
Here is a pic of my sister and I on a very hot birthday day. We had been giggling quite a bit by the time this one was taken and I do believe I will be framing this.

But I KNOW I will be framing this one......
My Dad and Mom and I on my birthday. This was the greatest gift ever, a visit from my parents on my birthday and a picture to remember the day.

Thank you for making the best birthday ever EVEN BETTER. I love you all so much!
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Monday, August 15, 2011

My Honey Took Me Shopping

This post is filled with swooning, you have been officially warned.

The week leading up to my birthday was insanely busy, and not fun busy either. My wonderful hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday and you know those times when you just can't even grasp "birthday fun" because you are living in the busy moment? That was me.

I shrugged. Then I lit all up. "A Date! I want a date away for my birthday!"

And then he didn't say a thing more about it. My mom and I had thought a beach day out to Lake Michigan for my birthday would be all sorts of fun...something we hadn't done in forever. Then Sunday mentioned rain...all, day. long.

So I tried to figure out what I could make for dinner for my birthday to just make it an easy but good meal and hoped Jake and I could get away soon.

Then my husband did the most romantic thing ever.

He planned a surprise.

Yes, really.

He conspired with my friend Morg (bless her, and yes, a whole post dedicated to her is coming up soon) to take me on a surprise date. He had to spill the beans a little the night before the big day when we had to shuffle a few kids around. But all he told me is that we were going out.

Being a girl going out with her MAN, I wanted to have to the right outfit (of course) and I love heels...I think we have discussed this earlier...so he would say "Well, you can wear a dress but nothing too nice. Just good walking shoes....."

I was having such fun with this I could hardly keep from bursting.

When I got home from work, he told me I needed to start getting myself together for a date around three. He ran two of the four boys to Morg's house - two more would be joining them later after they had a fun afternoon with my body building brother and his wife - and I laid out all sorts of outfits on the bed for him to choose from. Then I laid all sorts of shoes out to match the dress he picked.

He was girled out before we even hit the road.

Especially because I was ready in record time and literally - yes, literally! - jumping up and down waiting for him to be ready to go.

He got an insane amount of phone calls that afternoon.

And he began to worry I would be disappointed with the night.

He took me to dinner at Famous Dave's. I've never eaten there but thought it sounded yummy. It was soooooooo yummy.

When we left there, my country loving non fashion at all (okay, jeans and tshirt will ALWAYS be in style) husband, pulled into the MALL.

Oh. My. Beating. Heart.

Because there in his big dodge truck, he turned and looked at me and said "Let's go get you a new outfit."

I mighta teared up a bit.

As we walked from the truck, the phone rang. The conversation I heard went something like this "Hey, what are you doing home? Really? You're kidding, right? How much blood?" (this is where I turned around and headed back to the truck) "But he seems fine? Oh, he'll be good then. You can wait 24 hours for stitches."

S4 had RUN INTO A WALL. He cut his head open. Morg had to teach him to breath like lamaze classes teach you to get him to calm down. But apparently he was playing again.

So we went shopping.

I will not bore all of you with the details but after much searching (who knew the mall closed so early) we found a dress. A dress that reminded us of our favorite music video right now, AND it was 60 percent off. We couldn't find shoes though...I take that back. I found SHOES that I drooled over but not the boots I wanted to match the dress.

And we learned a valuable lesson, when you find a dress you love on clearance at Macy's...just buy it. Don't hesitate over a zipper that you feel is too tough to zip, you will figure it out...okay, maybe you won't and it was a good thing we didn't get it.

We went to Biggby AND Starbucks (I know, I know! It was bliss!). We browsed through Barnes and Noble (the mall closes and that store doesn't, how cool is that?) where I purchased some new stationary and got lost looking at books. (Not literally)

I held my honey's hand alllllllllll evening. I gave him a million kisses. Okay, close to a million. It was soooooo much fun. I had the best fun...I felt completely spoiled.

And I think I thanked him a trillion times. It was one of my very best birthday's EVER.

Thank you so much, hubby!!!!!!

(And here is that music video)


Because I was having so much fun on my birthday, I didn't take any pictures! So the pictures I shared were the from the Sunday I wore the dress and my boots to church.

And S4 didn't need stitches.
You can see his cut forehead here.
Sadly, this will probably make him cuter later in life.
As if he wasn't super adorable already.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Summer is nearly at an end.

I despise having written those words.

But the truth is that it is and it just hit me I haven't once taken the boys fishing and I even bought my fishing license this SPRING in plans of many fishing days. So, Friday morning, the boys searched up some worms and we headed over the bait store to buy more worms (they weren't sure fifty would be enough and I wasn't going to argue) and we had to get S1's tags for early hunt NEXT MONTH. (ug, fall, you are so mean to show up in summer!)

Gillet's Bait and Hardware is sort of famous here. It is open 365 days a year (yes, even on Christmas) and it is truly a one of a kind store. It is filled with characters and history and if you show up on Friday afternoon, they make cookies. The owners home is connected to the store and I believe it has been around since the beginning of time...or close to.

The woman who owns the place happens to know everything about getting my son a hunting tag and I know nothing and there is something to be said about someone you trust completely on this subject.

At long last we arrived at the lake.

As we were headed down the wooded path to the pier, S4 said "I like walking with you, Moma, because it's just you and me and you just listen and I talk and I have a lot to talk about."

It was shaping up to be the most perfect of days.

The boys were SO excited to be out fishing again!
True to form, S2 caught the first fish. And it was a whopper, can't you tell?

Really, there is a teeny tiny fish on that fishing pole.

I do not really like to fish.

Here are my reasons....

I don't like fish. I don't like to smell fish. I can NOT eat fish...at ALL. I do not like the smell of worms in my suburban. I do not like the ickyness of worms on the hook. I turn into a girly girl.

But I like to spend time with the boys.

And for some odd reason, I think fly fishing looks appealing. Go figure.

The boys did buy me a cute pink fishing pole. Someone broke it at some point so it is an itty bitty fishing pole now...but it works.

I came armed for a day out fishing.


Note the Starbucks coffee cup. Do I live near Starbucks? No. I live sooooooooo far away from Starbucks that I actually keep the cups to drink out of until they fall apart. I feel that it makes coffee taste better.


But I do so love Deep Lake. I tell the boys it is DEEP, thus the name, so they had better not fall in.

S4 is convinced that Indians live on the other side of the lake and he is always on the look out for some to show themselves. I never have to worry over him wandering around the lake. He is very well behaved here now...since he figured out Indians live over there.

I may have not dissuaded him on this.
The other reason I love Deep Lake is for this....fences. There is no way they can just "accidentally" fall in. I find comfort in that.

We happened to come across some visitors while out on the fishing pier and I ended up sounding like a Pure Michigan campaign telling them how much there is to see in the area. I mean, how many people can boast that they have climbed down into the Devil's Soup Bowl and found it cool?

(Note...now is the time to read the book Six Months Among Indians if you can find it. My Dad has it and I get it from the library to read about every other year. It's all about our area long long long ago....)


I was prepared for my day. I think my purse matched the day perfectly. I had a full cup of french pressed vanilla caramel coffee (my favorite), my blackberry to instantly share pictures with, nail polish to paint my neglected toes and wipes because it's fishing adventure. Wipes WILL be needed.

S4 didn't catch a fish right away so he decided to take a few pictures. He caught me painting my nails. (Hubs likes this picture of me.)

He told me he took this one so I knew it was him who used the camera and I would remember that he had been there with us. As if I could forget.

Notice his head...as if you could not. He ran into a wall. Seriously. He says that the wall actually ran into him. I did not argue.

S3 caught an amazing pollywog.

S2 caught another whopper. It was all the fish we would get. I can't say I wasn't a little happy about that. I didn't want to cook the fish too badly.

I noticed S1 isn't in hardly any photos. He was happily untangling lines, re baiting hooks, trying to catch view of the monster turtle we seen here and there and busy as could be.

He loves fishing.


I loved this photo. I'm rather fond of milkweed...I get that from my father, and my husband does not understand how on earth I could enjoy a nuisance invasive weed like milkweed...and I'm rather fond of butterflies so I am very fond of this photo.


All in all it was a great fishing day. The boys got to wade out in the water a bit before we left and I am thinking that we will try to fish again this week. I mean, after all, we still have about 60 worms left.

And I can always use a fun couple of stress free hours with my growing boys.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

S4 Took the Camera (Again)

It started innocently enough. S4 came running into the house one day begging me to take a picture with my phone AND the camera of his super cool thing he made.
Yes, that is a John Deere tied to his bike.



It quickly became apparent to S4, about 5 pictures in, that Moma was not capturing the true genius of his creation so he asked if he could borrow the camera - since he knows how now and all that. I agreed since I was in the middle of cooking dinner.

You all need to know, this was a JOHN DEERE tied to his bike.


See, truly genius.



The string? Tricky work!


Notice the toes.....


And the toothless grin. I love his toothless grin.


I believe I was called to take this one. Then his brother helped him.

A self portrait MUST have bunny ears, even if you have to do it yourself.


This is what his brothers were up to, hauling wood. I have five pictures of this load of wood.


Here is GK helping us with a load of wood. Notice S1 being ever watchful. Nothing must happen to his tractor.


This is the "Yes, I'll pose for you but are you supposed to have Moma's camera?" look.



I do love that he actually took pictures of flowers next to the wood stove. He did pick something up from all his time with me.


See! See! Take my picture! (I can hear S3 saying this. Also, note how nice his clothes look. These are NOT play outside clothes but he just loves them.)

This. This photo makes me laugh every. single. time.

When he handed the camera back to me he said "Moma, there are pictures they didn't want me to take on here. But I took them anyways."

Love that.

Because, really, how can you not love when S4 hijacks my camera?

Blessings

Since Monday rolled around, our family has had a rough week. We feel beat up. You know, the kind of days where you say "We need to watch Facing the Giants" like every single day, numerous times in the day?

That is the kind of week we are having.

It's also been a week full of blessings from friends. One came to our rescue on a night we were dreading facing. A family said "You are coming here for dinner tonight" and fed us comfort food...pizza, muffins, cookies and brownies. (Notice the desserts, hello, comfort food in the greatest degree!) After that night, S3 came home, fell into the chair and said "This was the best day EVER" and promptly fell asleep, head in his hand thinking over his fun night. Sound. Asleep.

I wish I would have gotten a picture of that.

And all the things we've faced this week are minor, really. They just ganged up on us. We are all healthy, our families are healthy. My husband has a good job. We have good friends.

Last week my husband was trying to remember this song for me. He has an uncanny memory when it comes to music and can hear a song once and sing it. But he had a hard time remember how it went and I couldn't recall hearing it and we forgot about it.

Today he determined to find it for me.

Cuz he is awesome like that to me.

Then he called me to tell he me had found the song but he didn't want me to hear it until I heard the story behind it.

The story sorta puts everything back in the right perspective.


Here is the song Blessings (With Lyrics).

Here is the song, Blessings, in the video format I like the most.

Here is the song, Blessings (again), that has the most youtube hits.

I think you can get the idea that I want you to hear the song. ;)

So in case any of you are having a bad week...the worst week of your life or a bad day that just leaves you grumpy...here is a song for you.

And know that others out there have them too.

You are not alone.

You are blessed.