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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Family Dinner

When the boys came home from school yesterday, they gobbled up...

Homemade chocolate chip cookies

Brownies

Bananas

I worried they might have spoiled their dinner appetite.

Last night for dinner I made.....

A large pot roast.

FIVE POUNDS of mashed potatoes.

A full bag of carrots, peeled and cooked with the roast and sprinkled with brown sugar.

Two cans of green beans with bacon.

A tube of Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits.


Long after the roast had been devoured, the boys were still asking for more.  They literally scraped the carrot bowl clean.  They fought over the last roll (I never even ate one).  When dinner was done, there was half a can of beans and just enough mashed potatoes to barely top the casserole we will be having later this week.

How on earth am I ever going to keep feeding these boys?


The Heroine's Bookshelf


The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls WilderThe Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love reading a back story, it always adds more the book you are reading, I think.  And Erin does a great job with this book, highlighting the heroine's of childhood books.


Really, Erin had me at the first page.....


"In times of struggle, there are as many reason not to read as there are to breath.  Don't you have better things to do? reading, let alone rereading, is the terrain of milquetoasts and mopey spinsters.  At life's uglies junctures, they ver act of opening a book can smack of cowardly escapism.  Who choses to read when tehre's work to be done?


Call me a coward if you will, but when the line between duty and sanity blurs, you can usually find me curled up with a battered book, reading as if my mental healthy depended on it.  And it does, for inside the books I l love I find food, respite, escape, and perspective.  I finds something else, too: heroines and authors, hundreds of them, women whose real and fictitious lives have covered the terrain I tool must tread.


Oh, have I needed some heroines in my life."


Not only does Erin do a great job of just summarizing the lives of the authoress', she also adds fun little tidbits at the end saying "read this book when....." and gives you examples in life when the heroine in THIS book is perfectly suited to this situation.


I am especially glad this book is now in our hometown library.  I think the grandmothers, mothers and daughters will like to check out their favorite books "back stories".


View all my reviews

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Marriage Wish


The Marriage Wish (Henderson, Dee)The Marriage Wish by Dee Henderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first Dee Henderson book I have read and ironically, it's the first book she wrote.  This book gives me great hope in writing my own book one day.


It's not at all what I was expecting.  It's an easy read that makes you want to see the couple get together in the end but the intense healing that has to take place is deep.


Final thoughts on reading it.....I'm thankful for healthy kids and I don't ever want to take for granted them or my husband.


Also, I may need a puppy.


View all my reviews

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Angie's Kettle Corn for Valentine's Day

I recently received an email asking me if I would be interested in trying Angie's Kettle Corn. I've been asked a few times to try something but nothing ever sounds like US...but popcorn did.

I mean, who doesn't like popcorn?

I said yes and had no idea what to expect.

On a snowy, blustery, cold day with sick kids laying all around various parts of the house, my ever so cheery and pleasant UPS man braved the snow to make a special delivery.  When I opened the super light box, I found this....

I don't know what I had thought I was getting, but this was cooler than I thought it would be.

There were TWENTY bags of popcorn in this bag.  And 20 stickers, of course.  The stickers were all sort of whimsical.  The idea is to fill out the stickers to put on the bags to give as your classroom Valentine's Day "card".

That is a cool card idea even I could handle.

I had to try the popcorn, of course, so I opened it up and tossed a few kernels in my mouth.

I ended up dumping what was left of the bag in my mouth to get all the sweet saltiness I could get.

Then, and I am terrible to admit this, was glad no one was feeling well to eat this other than me.

When S4 asked about the delivery, he called small bags of popcorn "crazy".  He then tried it and said Daddy's was better.  I was happy - more for me! - but then he didn't stop eating it.  At all.  I think he liked it way more than he let on and said that just so his brothers wouldn't try it.

As the boys got over their flu, they kept grabbing a bag to munch on.  In two days every bag was GONE.

All that deliciousness....gone.

I have one bag hidden away.  I'm afraid to get it out.  The boys, all well now, would devour it as soon as I opened it, I am certain.

It is really that good.

The great news for you is that Angie's Kettle Corn is now available at Target stores - available just this month for the first time - and you can get this great bag for Valentine's Day treats for only 5.99.  I didn't think that was a bad price at all - I'd spend three or so dollars on a box of cards they would just throw away at the end of the day.  This is WAY cooler - and yummier.  They also have other sized bags available for purchase.  I think I'll need that one for me...

And who doesn't like to go to Target?

I think this is going to have to be our new keep in stock snack.  It's so easy to have it in the single serve bags.  But more than that, the boys have some friends with severe food allergies and when they visit I'm always nervous somehow I am going to give them something that is terrible for them.  I don't have to worry about this with Angie's Kettle Corn.

On the back of the bag is the adorable story of Angie and her kettle corn.  Being a sucker for such things, I had to share it with you as well.... (I actually took this right from the website, the shorter version is on the back of the bag...but this story warmed my heart even more.)


The Angie’s Kettle Corn Story

Company owners Dan and Angie Bastian began Angie’s Kettle Corn as a side venture when their 2 children, Aunikah and Tripp, were just 5 and 3. Hoping to both earn extra income for college funds and demonstrate the importance of hard work, Dan and Angie started selling Angie’s Kettle Corn at outdoor events in 2001. The couple enjoyed regional popularity at outdoor events, but all that changed when Dan and Angie decided to gift the Vikings players and coaches with bags of kettle corn after a long day at training camp in Mankato. The team was so impressed with the snack, that they soon became the official kettle corn of the Minnesota Vikings. The players weren’t the only ones impressed. In no time, fans wanted to know where they could buy Angie’s in the off-season. In January 2008, Dan and Angie made the decision to bring the operation indoors and begin manufacturing their treat for retail.
And they’ve never looked back. Ten years after their small venture began, the company has grown from the husband and wife pair to more than 100 employees producing 80,000 bags a day. Their Classic, Lite and Caramel varieties can be found in 50 states in stores including Costco, Super Target, Whole Foods, Lunds, Byerly’s and all SuperValu-owned stores.
Community Involvement
Angie’s is now the official kettle corn of the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx professional sports teams. In addition, Dan and Angie donate their time and resources to a variety of community fundraising events and programs, including March of Dimes, Kids Against Hunger, Salvation Army, YMCA, and many others devoted to supporting children and education.
For many different reasons, local and national media are highlighting Angie’s Kettle Corn. In March 2011, Food & Wine magazine featured Angie’s Lite, and founders Dan and Angie Bastian appeared on the Martha Stewart Show on the Hallmark Channel in January 2011.
Meet the Owners
From a kernel of love popped something bigger than two people. Meet the founders of Angie’s Kettle Corn, husband and wife, Dan and Angie Bastian.
Dan “Reno” Bastian:
Dan was born and raised in Minnesota. Before working full time at Angie’s, he was a high school Spanish teacher and baseball coach. He still coaches his daughter and son’s sports teams.
Angie Bastian:
Angie was raised in the Midwest and in Florida. As company namesake, her role in the business has evolved from behind-the-scenes in her spare time as a full-time nurse, to full-time President. Despite their successful business, Angie and Dan have never lost sight of the importance of family and consider parenting to be their most important and rewarding endeavor.


So, because it was so yummy, I ASKED to write this review.  Try it yourself and see if you don't agree with me.  I know we are now Angie Kettle Corn fans...for good.  I have a sneaky suspicion the boys's classmates will all be trying it on Valentine's Day. 

But we'll still be happy to have Daddy make us popcorn...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Deliciousness of A Good Book

When I was a little girl, I loved to read.  My nose was buried in a book any day, often all day.  If I was not buried in a book, on little pieces of orange notebook paper my uncle brought home to us in bulk, I would write out stories.

When my brother and I would play for hours at our creek or out in the neighbors hundreds of wooded acres across the road from us, I would make up amazing stories that we would be the hero and heroine of.  We lived many great adventures.

On days my mom and dad would have us helping with weeding, stacking wood, shoveling manure, helping with canning, etc I would make up stories in my head to make the time go faster.  Often I would tell made up stories to my siblings...especially my brother.

My brother has an incredible oral story telling ability.  He amazes me.  He can have me on the floor laughing or scared to death to get out of my vehicle at night...and I'm a grown woman!  I, on the other hand, am the writer of my days (pretty obvious, I know) but a speaker?  Not so much.  Public speaking scares me insanely much.

When my boys were being born and little, it occurred to me one day for some reason that I could not even remember the last book I had read.  When I dug around the house I found some book I had read...the year before.  Since then I have tried to be much more conscientious of reading.  Back when S2 was a baby, I had no computer (can you imagine!), no cell phone, no cable tv, no facebook, no twitter, no blogging (but journaling sporadically) and I was not reading.

Now my time is being pulled in every direction.  The boys are older and one would think that would make life easier and while, yes, I'm not changing diapers anymore, I am also busier.  The amount of food I make in a week is startling to me.  School keeps us hopping.  Work.  The farm.

My husband feels reading is about as thrilling as watching paint dry.  And me curled up with a good book can be annoying to him...if all he did was sharpen chainsaw chains when I wanted to spend time with him, I would be annoyed too.  (Chains for cutting wood...that sounded slightly odd, didn't it?) So we find some tv series we love to watch on Netflix and spend our time at night cuddled on the couch watching tv.  We love it.  Who doesn't love to cuddle with the love of their life?

Alicia introduced me to Goodreads and while I am not very good at keeping it up to date, I do find it helps immensely.  You can make a reading goal for the year and this year I decided to be brave and say I would read 26 books this year.  Considering I had a hard time reading ONE book a month last year this was a huge commitment to me.

Alicia?  She thinks she can read 75 books this year.  She's a reading machine.  I love this about her.

Last night, Jake had to go plow.  I was not happy about this because we had a night planned - nothing  big but still.  I mopped floors, cleaned the kitchen, blogged...I know, I am thrilling...and when I crawled into bed I thought, "Gasp! I could read for a bit."

I snuggled into bed, pulling my special Strawberry Shortcake blanket around me and propping pillows. It was eleven.  I'd been tired all evening, I'd suffered a severe headache on the right side of my head that had set my eye brow to twitching and while I was feeling fine now (and in large part because I refused to look up my symptoms on the internet, it would have me dead by morning, I was sure) I knew I shouldn't read too late.


I had read the first chapter a week or so before and thought it so so.

About four chapters in I was hooked.

I couldn't put it down.  I had to know what happened.  I heard a vehicle rumble and thought Jake was back from plowing perhapes...but it wasn't him. No, it was my neighbor.  Leaving. For. Work.

That's right...it was nearly five in the morning.

I had no idea, and I was *this* close to finishing.

At five thirty, I finished.  I closed the book and rubbed the cover.  It was a delicious evening this book and I had had.  I sent a text to Alicia, who I knew was just waking up.  She was the one who told me to read The Hunger Games series, I shouldn't have doubted that she would know I would like this book that normally I wouldn't even bother to look at twice.

After a few hours of sleep and a *few* cups of coffee, I am still thinking over this book.  That's the fun about the books - even when you are done reading you aren't done living the story.

I was thrilled and pained to see there is a second book coming out in May.  

This post - rambling long as it is - isn't to tell you read this book (although I would recommend it in a heartbeat), it's just to remind you to read.  A book.  Not just your computer or a magazine but a book where you live with the characters.  

It's a delicious thing, a good book.


Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm THAT Mom - the one of Hillbilly Recipes

Kellyn, you may not want to read this.

Every morning that I drop the boys off at school, a troop of boys come out to greet me at S2's classroom.  I love it.  There are four of them total, including my S2.  S3 and S4 make a big deal out of giving all four them high fives and hugs that are so big they can lift them up off the ground - yes, my six and seven year old lifting their older brother and friends up off the ground in a hug.

Only my boys.

Anyhow, recently Jonathan - one of the four - actually stopped me before the morning greetins.  "Can you tell me how to make squirrel?" he asked.

Now, there are lots of things running through my mind but the biggest was this...

I have officially become a hillbilly.

Jonathan continued...and this I loved..."Because my mom says she doesn't know how to cook it and I know you do so you could tell her how to cook it and then we could finally eat some!"

I know Jonathan's mom...and I'm sorry...I just couldn't resist.  "Well, honey, you just get that squirrel as clean as you and your brothers can then you have your mom stick it in the crock pot with a bunch of cream of mushroom soup and cook it till it's tender."

His eyes were adoring.  He was thrilled.

"Great!" he nodded solemnly.  "Can you tell my mom that?"

"I sure will," I promised.

I did not, however, tell his mom - or Jonathan - that when one cooks squirrel like that it ends up looking like this.......

Yummy, huh?

No matter how carefully it is cleaned, when it is done cooking you will in fact find bits of hair still on it's cooked meat.

And that your boys, looking at that tiny bit of meat that doesn't even take up half a dinner plate, will think it is the best looking dinner ever.  

They will carefully carve off bits of the meat and savor every bite, pronouncing they have the best cook in the whole world and their brother to be the best shot.  And the cook (being the mother) will do the motherly thing and make sure all her boys have all the food they can eat - sacrificing her share of the meat to the hunter who provided the meat.

The funny thing is THE WEEK this happened to me - Jonathan asking me about how to cook squirrel - another friend sent me a picture of her son eating...SQUIRREL.  She knew I would appreciate such a picture...and understand her horror.

When the weekend was over, I asked Jonathan how it had gone eating his squirrel.  "Well," he said, "My mom says we would need a whole lot of squirrels to feed us all so it may take some time.  But then we'll make it like how you told my mom!"


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pukes NOT Pucks

(a post not for the soft stomached)

Yesterday, I left my house for the first time since Thursday morning.
After dropping the boys off at school
ON TIME
I went home to make Death by Chocolate Scones.

Then I went over the library that I love so dearly.
The library I just happen to work at.
There we ate scones, drank delicious tea from quaint tea cups with saucers and watched this movie.

I so love this movie.
I really love the book as well.
While I have read it before, I never did finish the book in time for this book club.

It was a grand time.

After the movie and chat (we are going to stick with reading woman authors and taking suggestions), we decided to read Little Women next.  My ultimate favorite book.  And Alice hasn't read it and this makes me a wee bit worried about her. ;)

After all that girl time, I picked the boys up from school and we headed to Meijer so they could spend the Christmas money that has been burning holes in their pockets.

S1 loaded up on clearanced hunting gear, and was shocked d things can add up to $45 dollars rather quickly.  He was nearly ready to get in an argument with the cashier, but she was right, not him.

S2 got BB's, air soft bullets, nerf bullets and a target.

S3 got a new game for his Leapster and a case to carry his Leapster.  It was fun to hear him say, "YES! Now I can do subtraction!"

S4 found himself a lego boat he can use in the tub (can it get any better?) and sunglasses.

I was thankful I had some girl time earlier in the day.

But it wasn't long after we were home that S1 informed me he wasn't feeling well, and it wasn't long after that he was puking.

It's been years since he has been this sick, since his Boar hunt, actually.

I don't handle puke well.
Like, at all.
Husband does things like that shockingly well.
I can change diapers, I can clean disgusting things, I can do most anything.
But not puke.

As we heard S1 puking throughout the night, husband (exhausted from hours of plowing and hours of fixing plow trucks) said sleepily, "Go help him."

To which I - and yes, I feel some shame in admitting this - said, "What am I going to do? Just let him puke it out and fall back asleep."

Yah, I'm that kind of a mom.

At around one in the morning, S2 came down and began puking too.

Thankfully, we have two buckets.

This morning I wrote a facebook status bemoaning the fact that I had puking boys.
But I wrote PUCK instead of PUKE.
Which is funny to me, hilarious really, and that could be because of my lack of sleep and the fact that I have been dealing with puke for nearly two weeks on and off.

I could well be sick of pucks.
Because this is a picture of my boys over the weekend.

And people know my boys well enough to know that they COULD have pucks IN the house and how that always seems to turn out.

I'd so much rather have that then this.

My poor sick boys.  I am bleaching and lysoling and hoping that I don't catch this bug at all.

Say a prayer for us.
Say a prayer that I can handle dumping buckets of puke.  I know that sounds awful, but it's really hard on me.  And my two oldest boys are as pale as the snow and lifeless today, I feel so awful for them.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Feed, Korene and an iPhone4s

Last week, as I was rushing to get us all out the door for school, I noticed S4 digging out two apples from the fridge.

"You only need one," I told him, silently thinking what great boys I have to want healthy food.

"It's not for me.  It's for Whiskers and Bunny," he answered me.

As in, Whiskers and Bunny the bunnies that live on our front porch.

"Just give them their feed," I replied.

"Well, that's just it, Moma.  Their food is kinda icky.  It got wet and then it got hard," he explained.

"And things are growing on it," S2 added.

"And I am just now hearing this?" I demanded.

They nodded silently.

And I knew what my day would now entail, heading to the farm store for feed.

My friend Korene, who will be starting a craft blog soon, stopped me to see how my morning was going and I spilled this whole story to her.

She giggled.  "You'll make it funny, just you watch."

And so I prepared myself for my fun surprise twist of the day.

As I headed into town, my phone rang.  My cell phone.  Since our house phone was down (but ATT fixed so well!).  And my cell phone was acting up.  The call was my husband and I asked him if he minded if I could stop in at the Verizon store and see about an upgrade.  He assured me it was a great idea.

I walked in with my blackberry, with this picture as a screen saver...

And asked for help.

I have a fear of cell phone stores.  I have had to deal with a totally awful one.  As in, T E R R I B L Y awful.  This one, well, this one had the nicest, super knowledgeable employees.  They didn't just try to sell a phone, they wanted to know what would be the best fit.  They listened and offered advice.

Since I was looking for the iphone anyhow, they asked me questions about what I would use an iphone for and looked at my rebate I was up for and said, "The iphone4s is for you."

I had to ask my husband first, that handsome man who loves my chickens too.

"Yes! Yes! Get it right now!  That's a great price! I figured you would! Go right ahead!" he cheered me.

And so I did.

And so my day to get feed for bunnies - and chickens, wild birds and the cat - got me an iphone4s.

Korene was right, it was a great day.

And my new iphone....oh. my. goodness.

I do believe it's the most wonderfulest phone ever. I also know I just know the tiniest bit about it.

But I do know fully well how wonderful my hubby is.  As in, the greatest ever.

(Even if he didn't get the iphone for me, he'd still be great.  But this sure makes me grin at him a bit more.)

Snow Day!

This morning we awoke to snow.

Not tons of snow but snow timed to make the roads nasty and dangerous.

Giving us a SNOW DAY!
 Honestly, I didn't think we would get one.  I made the boys pack lunches the night before.  Clothes were laid out and showers taken.  But at five am I was awake checking my texts for word of a snow day.  I was watching the news...watching all the schools around us close but not us.

But then we did!

All winter we have had mild temps in the upper 30's and 40's.  I have to admit, I have loved it.  But if we are going to get snow, let us have the snow day!

We made waffles for breakfast and then shoveled off the vehicles and shoveled the walkways.  I fed all the wild birds that were flocked at the feeder while the two youngest boys went in to get warm and the two oldest went out to see if the snow mobiles were taking the trail in the back of our property.  When our tummies began to rumble for lunch, S4 suggested a picnic.  And then he set it all up himself.
 He was rather proud of his creativity.  He had everyone spots picked out (I was to sit between S3 and S4).  Dinner was tuna noodle, the food Daddy hates so we eat on all those "special occasions" when Daddy isn't home.
 Do you see the bunny behind S4's foot and next to the Angry Bird stuffed animal?  The bunnies.  Yes, those bunnies were part of the celebration of snow day as well.  They had breakfast with us.  They played hide and seek.  And at some point they hid so well everyone forgot they were there until it hopped up to you so you scratched it's little ears and it hopped away.  The bunnies, I believe, loved snow day.  I, on the other hand, believe I may not be liking that the boys left the bunnies in the house for so long today.  But back to our yummy lunch.
 Here I am sitting, enjoying the fun of the moment, thinking this is grand that we don't need to worry about a mess.  That's when I spilled my entire plate of food on my lap.  Go figure.  The boys ate without incident.
While S4 has a bit of cheesy grin here, he was truly happy with the way this all worked out for us.  He loves picnics and that everyone did just what they should do and sat in just the spots he chose and the bunnies were in on the fun...well, this was the best snow day ever for him, i do believe.
 After lunch S1 plowed the driveway with his snowplow he built for the tractor he and my dad built.  I don't think any boy has been happier plowing snow.

After we had cleaned the junk drawer - S4 now deems it the clean drawer, it only had 6 years of collection in it (haven't cleaned it since I was nesting last) - we took down the Christmas decorations.  My sister in law called and ended up stopping with her two boys on the way home from the vet.

My brother just purchased this adorable Pomeranian puppy for her.
 The puppy, you must know, is only two pounds.  Full grown she will be ten pounds.  She pranced around the floor and was a great delight to us all.  I believe I said, "She is just the cutest! And look at her cute curled tail!" a zillion times.  S2 was sure the puppy knew his voice and was just the most amazing puppy in the world.  Jr - my nephew - would then tell us all how to properly care for the puppy.

It was a really great time.
Even if this picture captures them all looking a bit crazy.

YOU try getting a good picture of six boys and puppy!

My husband arrived home from plowing snow exhausted and hungry.  He was going to bring us pizza but it got too late for that so we had leftover lasagna and birthday cake.  You really can never go wrong if your first thought for dinner is ice cream - and you then you have ice cream.

The boys and I stayed up late watching a movie all cuddled on the couch, bunnies tucked away in their home outside.  I painted my nails - because you all wanted to know that sort of information - a bright sparkly glitter pink.

Why yes, it was a rather perfect snow day. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

All I Want is a Stapler

Back in October, when we asked the boys what they wanted for Christmas, S3 put at the top of his list "stapler".
I thought that sounded pretty cute, and silly, so I tweeted it.
It cracked me up that he wanted a stapler, a pencil sharpener and a calculator. 
He got all those things.

But what I didn't expect was to get a tweet from Paper Pro.
 Can we make a Xmas dream come true? Follow & I'll send you free PaperPro stapler! RT S3 made a Xmas list. asked for a stapler.



I have to admit, first I thought it was a joke.
But my husband shrugged and said, "What do you have to loose?"

So I followed, they asked for my address and then direct messaged me to see what color S3 would like.
I thought it was sweet of them to ask something like that.
And blue is by far S3's most favorite color.

Then, Paper Pro stepped it up.
"We're going to send you all a stapler!"

Since these were going to be Christmas gifts (stocking stuffers), I couldn't tell them how excited S3 would be.

So I made sure to take a picture of his beaming face when he opened that gift on Christmas.

But when I opened the box of staplers they sent me, 
that they tweeted to let me know was sitting at the door waiting for me,
I was blown away.
There was no way for them to know that S1's favorite color is green.

There was no way for them to know that S2's favorite color is red.

There was no way for them to know that S4 loves all animals.

And they even sent me a pink stapler.
Being pink, the boys will be sure to leave it alone.

In the box of staplers they sent a HANDWRITTEN note telling us to have a Merry Christmas.

I was so touched.

But what PaperPro couldn't imagine is that the boys all love their staplers.
It's as if they have such the grown up gift.

The crafts S3 and S4 make now!

The homework S1 and S2 can staple now!

This was BIG doings!


Yesterday I was at our local Meijer store and I happened to see a PaperPro stapler for sale.  It made me smile.  I checked the price.  Not a bad price at all for a stapler that staples a stack of 25 papers.  That looks cool.  That is ultra light.

Not a bad price for a company that truly gets how to care for their customers.

Or make a boy's Christmas extra merry.

PaperPro didn't ask for a blog post about them...but how could I not share about a great company!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just Because It's Still His Birthday

In case you were really wondering how s4's day was going.

He chose lasagna for dinner, thought his cake was cool and hasn't stopped carrying around the angry birds stuffed animal he received.

Here are some pictures from tonight.

Happy Birthday S4!


So today is the big day.
S4 is sporting his new shirt...that looks like Daddy's.
He has eaten his fair share of donuts - with cream in the middle.
He is home today so he can finish his fort in the woods before the snow gets here.

I'd say so far his birthday is going pretty dandy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tomorrow We Have a Birthday Boy

Tomorrow our baby turns six.
So I went through my computer, that isn't old at all, to see what my oldest photos 
are of my youngest boy.
I recognized all the clothes we have passed on.
And was surprised to find the oldest photo when he was still in diapers.
 He kinda has a look only a moma could love.
 He tends to get super duper dirty.
 And when mud isn't available, he finds other means to get messy.
 His smile can melt snow.
 He is a fine judge of cookies.
 He loves his brothers, his cousin, the dog and his stuffed animals.
 Competitive to beat his brothers.
 The biggest fan of Cars...the original Cars, not so much Cars 2.
 He can give the most odd grins.
 And doesn't much care for change, like when moma did that crazy hair dye thing.
 He looks for flowers and brings me smiles.
He growls with no fear at his big Daddy.

And I cannot believe he will be six.

Monday, January 9, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

My husband doesn't seem to especially like Christmas.

I'll let you all try to take that information in.

So one year, for some reason I can't now recall, I started the twelve day of Christmas for him.

What I would do is on the day after Christmas I would give him a gift to say "Welcome to the 12 Days of Christmas!".  For instance, this year it was one big giant hershey kiss.

Then every day I give him a gift that coincides with the number, and every gift has some silly little poem or clue with it.

It's usually just practical gifts, but the way they are presented makes it fun.  The second day, for instance, was a new pair of gloves.

The third day of Christmas was a new picture frame.

It's to continue our "wall of love".

I started this a few years ago for one of the 12 days of Christmas and have just picked up the frames as we needed.  The frames just come from Family Dollar, cheap frames that hold a priceless memories.  Every one of the pictures shows some happy memory with the two of us.  The oldest picture is one where I am just pregnant for S2, I haven't found any older than that.  But it's fun to be headed out for something and say "Hey, this should go on our wall!".

But some of the gifts are silly.

I found this sign (We Accept Cash) when we went down to Shipsiwana.  I knew my husband, being the Dutch man he is, would love this.  And, because he likes to be practical, it would work well with our farm business as well.

Anyone who arrives at our door, knowing us well, is going to crack up.

This picture is still making me smile.

On the 12th day of Christmas I give him a 12 month planner.  This year they were nearly impossible to find - and I was looking BEFORE Christmas.  I found one not as great as the others in the past.  But then I go through the planner and write all sorts of dates down for him, stuff that is only important to us.   Some of it's practical, other's just silly.  But it's sweet to him and I.

When the 12 days are done, it seems so sad.

Last year I did not go through the trouble of doing the 12 days of Christmas.  I thought maybe he was burned out on it since the year before he didn't seem that "into it".  But he moaned and whined (did I just say that, really?) about how much he missed it.

It takes a long time to figure out what to do!  I carry a notebook with me and am constantly jotting down ideas down.  I began this journey for 12 days this fall.  I wish I had started earlier.

It's a silly fun way to show him how much I love him.  I think I enjoy it as much as he does.

I always miss it when it's done too.  

A blogging friend of mine did a Twelve Days of Christmas this year too....ranch style.  Every day since Christmas she has listed some thing she is thankful for in ranching according to the day.  It's been fun to read them on the days I hand over my gifts.  You can check them out at Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch.


PS
Just got asked to give more ideas.  Here is what I did for the 12 days this year...

Day 1 - giant hershey kiss
Day 2- a pair of gloves
Day 3- our 3 picture frame
Day 4 - 2 pair of tall wool boot socks
Day 5 - a book on cd
Day 6 - underwear
Day 7 - his cash sign
Day 8 - a box of turtles
Day 9 - a cd of 9 songs I made
Day 10 - 10 pairs of socks
Day 11 - a cd
Day 12 - his planner

The cd I made him was a new idea and way so much fun (thanks, Morgan, for that idea!).  I usually fill in gift cards on day five and ten but this year I had too many other ideas.  I also have gotten us romantic something or another, not to be mentioned :), on a specific day.  But mostly, it's just practical stuff with a silly poem to go with it.  And sometimes, the poem doesn't even rhyme.

Another idea I have tried - and failed miserably at - is then celebrating the 25th of every month.  Jake is notorious for letting me know how many months till Christmas because he knows I hate winter.  It's his little way to tease me.  But I usually end up forgetting his 25th gifts of the month - those were just the same sort of thing, gift cards or a special candy, his favorite dessert or some such thing.

You are only limited by your creativity.  I am not so creative so I have to start EARLY and am always looking for new ideas.  Give me some of your ideas!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

AT&T

Last week, S3 took his new leap frog to church and forgot it.  He wasn't supposed to bring it and was devastated he forgot it.  Because we ended up not going to church Sunday night, I sent a text to Morgan who texted her brother who was at youth group to see if he could find S3's game.  He did.

But we didn't know that until Monday night when S3 called to see if they did.  He had been in torment wondering if it was lost for good but when he called on Monday night they assured him that it was safe and sound.

After he got off the phone, I went to call my mom and the phone didn't work.  It sounded like we hadn't hung up a phone or the friends we had just called had forgotten to hang up on us.

But Tuesday morning, our phone still didn't work.

Because I worked all day I didn't get around to calling about it until late evening.  Because cell service isn't wonderful in my house, it dropped the call.  On Wednesday, I was out with friends all day and when I arrive home, the phone worked! I figured it must have just been a glitch, my husband made a call with the phone and it worked great and all was well until...well, we realized the phone was as dead as before.

On Thursday I looked up AT&T to see how to trouble shoot any problem with the line.  I filled in my information and tried to look for what they said to look for but the phone still didn't work.  Frustrated, I sent out a tweet letting AT&T we were still without phone service.

Between Thursday night and Friday night, I had FIVE calls from various AT&T personal letting me know they were working on our phone and that someone would be fixing it shortly.

Now, you know I have had great customer service at AT&T.  I've talked about my ever so pleasant conversation with another mom of boys and how we connected.  We used to have AT&T service when we moved into our farm all those years ago but when we got our internet service through MEI, we went with their wireless phone service for our home phone.  We never could get the wireless phone service to work well here...but their internet service is great (we still kept that)...and their customer service is truly top notch.  And local.  I can rave about MEI to anyone, they are THAT great a company.

So AT&T had big shoes to fill.

We were told that our line would be worked on Sunday...keep in mind how long we had been without phone service now, thank goodness for internet connection!  Had this been our busy growing season, I'd have been pulling my hair out but it's slow this time of the year...sometime between 1 and 5pm.  My husband and I joked it would be 5pm probably.

But as soon as we had finished Sunday dinner, as though they had an innate sense to have perfect timing, Brian(?) called to say he was on his way.  And he arrived moments later.

He was nice and polite and felt awful when our screen door slammed (it's broken, we're used to it).  I have no idea WHAT he did, but he fixed our phone just as quick as can be and now our phone works wonderfully.

I'd say that is pretty great service.

And I'm thankful to have been treated so well from a large company after loving the small town care of our small company.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday.
How is she celebrating?
By taking down her Christmas tree.

A real live Christmas tree.
She assures me it is not dead yet.
Still VERY beautiful.
But it's getting kind of embarrassing to keep it up.

This is yet another reason why I love my mom so.
She keeps her Christmas tree up until her birthday.


I have had people say that I look like my mom did when she was my age.  I have had a complete stranger stop me in the store and say, "Oh my, you MUST be Deb's daughter, you have her exact smile."  If anyone says I am a good mom, I owe it to MY mom.  If I have a good marriage, it's because I have great parents, still married, who gave us a great example.

My mom and dad, they don't like to hear such things.  They assure me I am doing a great job and better than they did.  But I know, it's them.  They built a great foundation for us four kids.

My mom is one of my very best friends.  Growing up I honestly did not think we would ever get along - and when I recall those moments I am again grateful for boys -.  I can go a week without talking to my mom and know all is well.  We do spur of the moment get togethers.  She will randomly stop by with a coffee for me.

Even though I'm "all grown up" I still am and will always be their little girl.  My parents know me in a bad mood and a silly mood.  They know my strengths and weaknesses.  They see the potential in me that I am too exhausted to see.

I am blessed with phenomenal parents.

But today is my mom's birthday.  She is the one whom I cannot just call "mom".  I have a special nickname for her and any note I address to her always uses just her nickname.  I call her when something super silly happens or when I am crying and on the edge.  She loves each of her four kids with all her heart and tirelessly helps us, feeds us, encourages us.

She is on her knees in prayer for us.

We can get the giggles and drown ourselves in coffee like few others can do.

She can camp ten days straight with me and we still are sad to part ways.

I am forever grateful for my mom, my best friend.

For my parents.

Here is a song that I am dedicating to her today.  This girl is way younger than me and watching this I suddenly feel OLD but, I love it.  I think it's a great song for moms and daughters.

I also really like how so many of the videos are taken at the beach or pool.  I'm not sure what the mom of the singer felt about this, but I love it.  I can call my mom and just say, "We need a beach day" and she KNOWS what that means.  In the summer she will call me with all the possible dates of potential beach days for the week.  We have a photo of our two beach chairs at our favorite lake - it's one of my most favorite photos.

It's funny because I don't like to swim.  I am not a water person at all.  My mom is half fish.

But a beach day with my mom?  I can't turn them down!  They are always my most favorite days with her.



I love you tons and tons, Mugsy!  Have a most wonderful birthday! I'll see you soonishly!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Girl Day

I looked around the suburban where the boys were being loud and talking guns and pretending to fart just to get a reaction and I said to my husband, "I love you all a lot, but I am really looking forward to some girl time."

He was quiet a moment.  Then he returned with this gem.  "That's true.  You can go days without seeing another girl if you don't leave the house - and you don't much.  How lucky are you to not have to deal with girls?  I mean, do you know how great that is?"

This is when I knew it's been way too long since I have been out with just girls.

So today has been circled with exclamations points.  It's GIRL DAY!

Sue and I met up with two friends who we've been saying for forever "let's get together sometime" and not.  When I threw it out on facebook again (since we do not have each others phone numbers, although we do now...) Lorilee said, "January the 4th work?"  And, YES, it DID.

We finally decided to meet at Schuler's where we thought we'd chat for a bit.  We filled the parking meter for the two hours max thinking that would be plenty.

After two hours, we went back and filled it up again.

And after that two hours, we were out of change and standing on the sidewalk watching our vehicles that were out of time.

Schuler made basically no money on us.  We drank their never ending cup of coffee, ate a pastry, drank a ton of water and bothered the poor guy with the gray and black striped sweater for the bathroom key so we could pee a zillion times - after we figured out how to use the key. I nearly couldn't figure out the key and was about to ask the guy if he would open the door for me and how humiliating would that be?  But I (finally) got it figured out.

We talked (obviously), laughed, shared, giggled, dug deep, prayed, encouraged, inspired...it was wonderful.

In fact, it was more than just wonderful but a great word to describe it is not coming to me right now.

When Alison left us, she left me with a to do list, and I love her for doing that to me.  I needed that.

And, thanks to Alison, I am writing "Talk to Jesus" on a paper and hanging it above my sink because I loved the way she said that.

Sue and I left to grab some lunch where our minds were still spinning from all we discussed.  Our ride home was too short, we had more to talk about.

I walked in my home's door and in the bathroom hung my Christmas present...a full length mirror.  For the first time I will get to see if my shoes really do go with my outfit.  My friends who have received pictures of me standing on a chair so they can see the outfit but not my head or shoes will so appreciate this news.

A full day with girls, a full length mirror.....ah, it was the most perfect day.  Soaking deep into me.  Making me talk my husbands ear off with giddiness.  Girl day's rock.

Now I'm off to cook frozen hamburger for sloppy joes for dinner.  With tater tots.  Because when Moma is gone all day, dinner suffers a bit.  But I think the super happy Moma is gonna more than make up for the so so dinner.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First Day Back to "Normal"

Today was the first day the boys went back to school.  It was also a work day for me.

Last night I had the boys find their back packs (they were gone for good, they were sure, assuring them that they could stay home longer.  Amazingly, S1 and I found them.  Also, we found the lunch boxes. One was hidden, I kid you not, behind a ten pound bag of potatoes.), pack their lunches, pick out their clothes and reacquaint themselves with soap.  Then we all snuggled on the couch, I got out a box of chocolates for the boys to pick through and I read aloud to them from a silly book we have been reading.

We all are really enjoying this book.

AND the main character is a girl....AND I did NOT pick it out (but I was pretty happy they did).

It was a good last night of vacation.

But this morning we woke up to temperatures colder than they have been all season - who wants to wake up to that? - and S4 literally bawled from the moment he sat down for breakfast until he sat down in the suburban.  We made it to school on time, braving roads of sheer ice, only to realize S3 forgot his book, S4 forgot his lunch AND his boots.

When I arrived home to get myself ready for work - and find all the lost items I would now be dropping off at school - my husband called to chat with me and ask me to go out and check our outdoor wood stove.  I did, got myself dressed in layers of clothes to ward off the cold, and headed to work.

As I was driving there, I realized something smelled burned just terrible.  I figured it was my coat from throwing wood in the fire, but it seemed worse than that.  I let out my hair from the bun it was in and then I realized....I had seriously singed my hair when I threw wood in the furnace.

The pharmacy was out of sudafed for my cold so I dropped the lunch and boots off, hurried into work and told Alicia my sad tale.  Because she is such a good friend, she painstakingly cut out just the single burnt hairs - as well as she could - so I wouldn't have to chop a huge chunk of my hair off.

My husband, who I had called so he would know my disgust rather than just sending him a text to tell him, laughed hysterically.  Alicia and I did not find it funny in the least.  Alicia painstakingly cut each individual piece of singed hair for me so I wouldn't be missing such a huge chunk.  When she was sure she had most of it she said, "I am so sorry.  Maybe heavy duty conditioner will help it?"

After work, I picked up the boys.  S1 was groaning over the pain of having homework again, S2 was starving and needed cereal post haste, S3 was jumping for joy to go home and S4 informed me he needed a little nap and time with his train tracks but he was NOT tired.

We had to stop at Weicks, the local grocery store, for sudafed for my now throbbing head.  But thanks to all the meth heads, they can't sell me any until the government gets some program done.  The pharmacist showed me the third best medicine for my sinus cold (since the second best was sold out) and wished me luck.

While I was doing all this, I told the boys to get themselves some bag juices for lunches.  I knew we were low.  S1 mentioned Little Debbie snacks and I just waved a "fine" to them.

As I was standing in line to pay I looked for the first time what they were having me buy.  Four boxes of pop tarts (real blueberries in two boxes, but chocolate fudge and s'mores in the other two), cloud cakes (think twinkies), chocolate chip muffins (for a healthy morning snack), zebra cakes, frosted fudge cakes and oatmeal cream pies - gotta have the healthy oatmeal.

But, just being glad we survived the day thus far, I paid and we headed home where S1 retreated to his new office spot in the landing upstairs, S2 devoured two bowls of cereal, S3 and S4 checked on the bunnies and are now building an elaborate train track.

I, my dear readers, am waiting for the third best cold medicine to kick in while I am  hunkered down in the laundry room with seriously singed hair.  Yes, the laundry room.  It's the warmest room in the house and I am terrible cold.  I also have been so on top of my laundry I have nothing soft to sit on.  But it's worth it to share with the world how my day went.

Oh, and S1 just found me.  I have to think through my foggy brain to figure out decimals.  Happy first day back to homework for me too.

How did YOUR first day back to "normal" go?