Friday, June 29, 2012

I've Turned Into Ma Kettle

Today, after I had drug the garden hose all over the yard giving all my looking like death dried up plants some more water, I hung clothes on the line.

I was standing there, clothes pin in hand, wearing the hanky skirt I had found for a dollar and the cami top with no support in it whatsoever (I had slept in it), my hair in a bun with it all falling over my face and the rooster crowing from the chicken coop when it dawned on me...

I had turned into Ma Kettle.

We grew up watching all the Ma and Pa Kettle movies. I had laughed at that silly Ma Kettle.

And had suddenly become her.

So, I hurried with the laundry, took a shower, downed another cup of coffee to look awake, wore my most supportive bra and while my hair is in a bun, it is at least sorta stylish.  I am in shorts and tank top.  I still look a bit unkempt...but not that unkempt.

How long have I been Ma Kettle and not known it???

And here is a video clip to make you laugh. Not of her feeding the kids or of laundry but funny just the same....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm Farming and I Grow It

Last night, as I was checking facebook while the boys where clearing the table of dishes, I read a lot of posts from my small town friends to watch this video.

Facebook was being wonky on me so I looked it up on youtube.

And I think we have watched it a zillion times since then.

Here it is.....

I am so proud of these boys I have never met! Their creativity and sense of humor is something I can totally get behind.  I followed Greg on twitter (@gregpeterson33) and hope that this video gets even bigger than it already is.

Our boys are working with the Community Garden in our little town for the library group and when I get out of work.  They love it.  To take something they know how to do - grow things - and get to help their friends out with their knowledge is something that makes them happier than I imagined it would.

S2 in front of the sweet corn row he donated and is growing.

Farming.  It's a great thing. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Insanity

Last night my honey took all four boys to go get some firewood for us.  He asked me if I wanted to go along.  And then he laughed.  I think he spotted the twitch in my eye and sensed the excitement that soundly coursed through me.  "Home? Alone? You would take all the boys and let me stay home? Alone?"

He loaded up all the boys and headed out.  I grinned like a wild woman.  I flitted from one room to the other not knowing where to spend my precious alone time.  Do I clean the kitchen?  Do I take a nap...oh how tired I am?  Do I read one of the books I have stacked by the bed and the computer desk? Do I watch the movie waiting for me to watch for two weeks now?

But I knew what I had to  I have missed it more than I have missed about anything else this summer.  

Well, blogging and walking the track at school every morning when I dropped the boys off at school all those weeks ago.

So this is what we have been up to...


I have cooked so much lately to keep my boys fed - how much they can eat is insane - that my cupboard has given out on me, crashing down on itself.  This requires me to do some rearranging.  Because I can not - at all - give up one of those cookbooks or printed recipes.

Cooking so much means I have spent a lot of time at the grocery store.  Taking all four boys to the store is a trip.  Good grief, they want EVERY bit of food.  They ask me a million times, "Mama, can we get this?'  Recently, in the ice cream isle, S4 asked, 'Hey, Mama..." for the 1,000th time in a five minute span.

I felt myself slipping into that insane place mother's go.  They get there by their name being called too many times in a row.  It flips a switch in their brain that makes them cower in a corner crying for someone else to come take over.

"What? What? What? What do you want now??????" I  quietly wailed.  It was hardly a peep, more an escaped thought.  There in the ice cream isle I caught a glimpse of my reflection.  My hands were tangled in my hair, massaging the headache that doesn't go away.  My eyes were wild with craziness.

S4 looked at me oddly for a moment.  But only a moment.  "Can we get ice cream?" he asked.

To save myself from having a melt down in the ice cream isle, I said yes.

They are getting to me, these boys.

We have been spending a lot of time at the library as well.

Getting to work the same days the kids programs are is really grand because the boys never miss a single library event.  And all should know by now just how much I love the library.  If you look very very very closely, you can see S1 is holding something. 

A ground squirrel.

Now, when the boys go out to play at the library, Alicia and I find ourselves saying - oftentimes now in unison - "Stay together. Do not try to catch anything. Do not get bit. Do no catch anything.  Did you hear me?  Do not bring any animals into the library.  And stay together."

I don't think they hear us.

When we are home, the boys are catching "things".

This is One Eye Toad.  He is called this because he has one eye.  He lives on our front porch and I don't know how old frogs get but he is pretty old.  We look for him every year for a few years now, always relieved when we find him.  One Eye is never allowed to live anywhere but the porch.  The boys know, this is Mama's toad, it never can live in the sandbox or with the other things.

Other things?

Oh, you know, like five snakes.....

Originally, we purchased the large water tank for baby chicks.  The baby chicks grew up grandly in that water tank lined with sawdust.  And when we moved the tank out back for future chicks, the boys got to thinking how grand a place it would be to house some "critters".  

Like reptiles.

So it is currently the home to five snakes (there were six, but they made their favorite snake (how does one even get to have a FAVORITE snake?) a "home" in the sand box, where it slithered away.  Probably to live somewhere far far far away from boys.), a snapping turtle (a little one) and too many frogs to count.

Due to the drought we are experiencing here in this part of the state, the swamp where all these frogs were caught has dried up.  The boys now feel it is their duty to keep these frogs alive for future generations of frogs.

At least they don't live on the porch anymore.

And when the boys are playing in the sandbox making those beaver habitat's, they are in the woods building forts they would like to move into.

It is quite obviously a safe place to sleep the night in.  Mama just keeps saying no for some reason.  

Silly Mama.

So that, dear friends, is what we have been up to.  On our slow days.  

I forewent a nap to share this with you.  That's how much I have missed you all.  Hope your summer is going grandly too, and you are not insane yet.  Tell me what you have been up to! Link your favorite posts! I am so behind in reading up on posts right now as well. 

Special thanks to my hubby who gave me some free time and didn't complain when all i did was type away at a computer screen.  I love you!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Afternoon's

Sunday Afternoon's.

You look forward to them all week. That lazy part of the week where you can just rest.

Jake, the boys and I have had some insanely busy weeks.  As in, like every week since Memorial Day.  This weekend was no different.

And after an insanely busy week, I realized I had made dinner plans with a friend weeks ago before school was even out for the summer.

These friends have never been to our house before.

Our husbands have never met.

My house was a weeks worth of neglect.

And we still had them over.

We grilled my husband's big cheese stuffed burgers we always are raving about.

I made fried potatoes.

They brought this for dessert.

Tonight I shall have sweet dreams of this molten chocolate cake dessert.

I DID fold all the laundry, but other than that I spent my morning sipping coffee and chatting with my husband, not cleaning like a crazy woman.

We went to Sunday School for one of the best Sunday School classes, one we will always remember, I think.

We arrived home and while Jake and I worked on dinner, we leisurely chatted and joked and had fun.  I did not stress at all.

When the guests arrived, my floors were not swept.

The kitchen was a mess.

The boys laid around in the messy living room.

And we sat at our dining room table with these friends of ours who had never met our boys, who had never visited our home, and had the best time.

We laughed, we talked, we ate the amazing food, we drank pitcher after pitcher of lemon water.

It was the best Sunday afternoon in a long time.

I am so thankful that we didn't say we were too busy.  So thankful we have friends like this.  
So thankful for an afternoon of just being real.

And for that molten lava chocolate wonder cake.

Grilled Smashed Red Potatoes with Bacon and Onion

Sue Cramer told me about some amazing red potato recipe she found on Pinterest.

I tried it (you can HERE. They originally posted on the Pioneer Woman, you know they are good) and it was great.

Then one day I had a brilliant moment (I must have drunken enough coffee) and made a new recipe.

I had made a lunch of brunch for my hubby and little men.  I only had the bacon done and planned to do the eggs and toast when they arrived home.  They arrived home and had already eaten.  So what was I to do with a pound of wonderful cooked bacon?

That's when the brilliance set in.

I made the red potatoes as I had before, boiled whole in the pot until just done.

Then I took a piece of tinfoil, added a bit of olive oil and smashed the potato with my Great Grandma's potato masher just a bit.

Then I topped the potato with crumbled bacon, diced onion and slab of butter.

I wrapped each individual potato up in tinfoil teepees.

Then my husband grilled them with our steak.

Where he normally despises cooking potatoes on the grill, these were basically done when he put them out there so he didn't have to worry about them at all!

I should have taken a photo of the finished product, but we were too busy eating them all.

Yes, they were that good.

I topped mine with shredded cheese - because when doesn't cheese make things better?

Fourth of July is coming up.  I guarantee you will have a hit if you try these potatoes!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beaver Habitat's, Snakes and So Forth

As I was about to write a blog to you all, S2 shouted he found a snake.

Right outside my window.

In my favorite spot to sit...the front porch.

You can see how I would find that distracting.

Especially when he did not catch it...but caught ANOTHER one across the driveway by the bunnies.

I have no words.  And I live here.

I wanted to just drop in to give you an update on our summer goings on.  We have been busy.  So busy.  It happens when you have boys who are building Beaver Habitat's (never mind that we have no beaver's in this area.  If, by chance, they decide to move here the boys will be ready for them), catching snakes and frogs and turtles, feeding them (oh. my. goodness.), planning Hubs and I first ever trip ALONE, planning a trip to see Becca's Crazy Boys (follow her on twitter here, be warned, we may get annoying in our excitement) and enjoying a very eventful visit with Rebecca Gates.  Believe me, that is a post you are NOT going to want to miss.

And working, farming, living....

But I miss blogging.

Tomorrow we are excited to be hosting Buck Howdy at our town library.  Thrilled we are!  And we are listening to all his music today. :)

I leave you with this.  Because really, my words would never do this justice.

Review of Phantoms in the Snow

Phantoms In The SnowPhantoms In The Snow by Kathleen Benner Duble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because my oldest son read it and told me it was one of the few books that made him cry.  For that reason alone I had to read it.

The book follows real facts (some dates of changed) of the Ski Division that helped take back Italy in World War 2.  It follows a fifteen year old who has lost his pacifist parents and is shipped to live with his completely unknown larger than life military uncle.

I think the thing I liked the most about this book is the character development.  I like that they didn't just bash the pacifist, didn't just bash the war effort...they showed how gray life can be instead of black and white and how choices have consequences, good and bad.

I am very thankful my son read this book and I am very thankful I read this book.  If you are looking for a book for your teen son, this would be a great choice.  Be advised, it deals strongly with death.  It is a grown up situation through the eyes of a young teenager.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cindy Bultema Giveaway

Some of you recall my recent post about Cindy Bultema and previewing her He Loves Me video put on by RBC.  She was having a massive giveaway and I said that if I won, I would give that movie away here.

Don't remember all that?  Then read the post HERE.

Anyhow, Cindy is sweet enough to have read that comment and say, "Sweetie, if you want to have one to give away, I'll just send one to you."

And so she did.

Because Cindy is sweet like that.

So, without further ado, I give you, a GIVE AWAY!

Just "Like" Cindy's new Facebook Page and tell her you are because I sent you (so she doesn't wonder where all the likes are coming from all the sudden ;) ).

I will give you an extra entry if you tweet this giveaway any way you choose...of course, you have to let me know you did.

But that's it.  Leave a comment letting me know you did and I will randomly select a winner on Monday, June 18th.

And, if you are wondering just who Cindy is, please take a moment to check out her website. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pornography on the School Bus

As the school year came to an end for us, you could just feel the change in the kids at school.  They were ready to be done.

My boys as much as any other school kid.

With less than two weeks of school, S1 arrived off the bus one day and his eyes told me I needed to pay attention to him NOW.

"As soon as my brothers are not around, I need to talk to you and then you need to contact the school," he said.

That got my attention.

I quickly shuffled his brothers outside with food and he informed me very clearly, very calmly, that while on the bus today, a boy had said, "Hey, what do you think of this?" and shoved an ipod or some sort of device in his face.  On the screen was a very vulgar pornographic image.

My heart sank.  I felt sick.

When he informed the boy that it was gross and went to turn his head, a girl ahead of him who he has class with said, "What?  What is it?"

The boy turned his attention toward her.  "Wanna see?"

My son caught the girls' eye and shook his head no.  She didn't.

I emailed our principal and I emailed the other boys principal to let them know what had happened and what information we had.

The principal's got back to me quickly and told me they would take care of it.  What did happen, I don't know;  but I do know that for the next two weeks of school, the boys only rode the bus home once or twice.

The evening of the incident, I told S1 he could wait up for his daddy to get home so he could talk to him.  He did.  I had, of course, already given Jake a heads up.  I was busy cleaning the kitchen when my husband arrived home and the two of them sat at the table, my husband eating and my son talking, about everything but what had happened.

When I went to make the bed in our bedroom, S1 talked with his Daddy about what had happened.  He hadn't wanted me to worry, or offend me, in what he wanted to talk to a man about.  Jake handled the conversation with him well, he is always good at talking at length with his boys.

But what shocked Jake and myself, when I learned later, was that S1 told his Dad that for so long at school he has heard how pornography is so bad, how evil it is.  "But I didn't know what it was," he told his dad, "So I had thought about just looking it up just to see what it is.  If that is pornography, I never want to see it again."

I had never given that any thought.

My husband is sure it was a completely innocent wondering.  He told his son that if he ever wanted to know something, ask him.  My husband has always made it a policy that the boys will never get in trouble for asking him something or talking to him about an issue.  We started when they were young when they would want to know what a bad work meant.  Jake has done a phenomenal job at this.

But when you tell your kids to look up what they don't know (hey, they have to learn to use the computer and look things up!), they don't think that it would be bad to look this up. Just so they know.

Can you imagine?

We tried then to set up some sort of filter on his computer, just to be safe rather than sorry even if we believe him that he would not look such a thing up.  He has a little acer computer he uses for email, Goodreads and looking up garden tractors while he listens to old country on an out of town country music station.  I could not figure it out a filter.  On my Mac, I just click parental controls.  On his, I can't find anything to do and I am not even sure what I need to look for.

Anyone have any ideas for us?

I debated whether or not to share this story.  As a mom, I would have wanted a heads up if my son was wondering why something was evil.  But I didn't want to make my son a target at school either.

On the last day of the school year, of all the boys, my son was given the Principal's Award.  I nearly cried.  I tried to video it, but I was on my iphone and I thought I was supposed to tip it to record it correctly, but I did it wrong.  However, if you want to listen to it, you can.

While I am sick that this happened to my son, it was also a real eye opener.  This boy who shoved this image in my son's face? He was only one grade older than my son.

We have to prepare our kids for the real world, but they are kids and I want to shelter them as long as I can.  We also have to be vigilant, safe guarding them the best we can.

I am proud of him and how he handled this situation.

Any of you with any helpful tips for us or stories to share, I would appreciate hearing them.

But as the school year comes to an end for many of our children and before the new one begins, perhaps a conversation with your husband and son about this subject would be a smart one to have.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Great Summer Boy Read

Masters of DisasterMasters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a fun book to read aloud to your boys, look no further than this book.

Recommended to me by a friend, it was an easy choice to read since my oldest son is a Gary Paulsen fan.

While this book may be a great read for any boy, reading it aloud to my boys was such fun!  We laughed at all the funny parts and whenever I glanced up from reading, they were enthralled, hanging on every word.  Their giggles were my favorite part of this book.

The book follows three boys as they try to become the most un-boring boys and make a world record.  Their plans never seem to go quite as planned, however.  Each chapter is a new mission and each chapter had us laughing.

The three boys, Henry, Riley and Reed, succeeded in becoming one of our favorite book characters.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 4, 2012

Win a Buck Howdy CD!!!

Many of you may recall just what big fans we are of Buck Howdy.

One of my VERY FIRST blog posts (all those years ago) mentioned Buck Howdy.  You can read it HERE.  After that published, Buck Howdy got in touch with us (how he found that post, I don't have any idea) and sent us a bunch of cd's, bandanas and, while sweet, he could have left the harmonica's at home.

Last year, Buck was gracious enough to give a FREE concert at the library I work for.  You can read all about that and the view the pictures of that great event HERE.

This year, on JUNE 21st, Buck Howdy is coming back to play a little concert at the library for us again.  (If you live in my area, email me and I would be happy to send you the details.)

To say I am thrilled would be an understatement.

But there is more.....

Buck's real name (really, did you think his parents named him Buck Howdy???) is Steve Vaus.

Steve has been in the music industry for a long time.

He is just finishing his new Gospel cd, which you can learn more about at his website, and when he is in town for the kid's Buck Howdy concert, he is giving another free concert later that night at a local church with his new Gospel music.

I have not heard the new Gospel cd yet, but I have watched the video explaining his heart on this album.  I have been able to listen to a few of the songs.  One I really liked and said, "Hey, I don't remember hearing that one before but it's familiar too."

He wrote back, "It's because I just wrote it."

Music so good that you think you know it but it is all new.  That to me is a great song writer.

But he also sings a few of my favorite gospel songs too.  He has no idea how thrilled I am over that.

To celebrate the fact that my friend is coming into my little town to do TWO concerts, I thought I would do a give away.

I have Buck's American Dream's cd.  It's filled with patriotic songs that young and old would enjoy.  It IS signed, as well, though the signature is faint.  The cd is open (so it could be signed) but never played.

To win....

Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Patriotic song, Gospel song or Buck Howdy song.

For an extra entry, "like" Life With Four Boys...Coffee Please on facebook, you can click "like" on the button at the top of the blog or click the facebook highlighted words. (Your friends would probably like this contest being shared with them ;) ).

AND, for one more entry, tweet this... @life4boys has a #GiveAway of a @stevevaus as #BuckHowdy cd. Enter here

Let me know your tweet link in the comments on this blog post.

Happy entering and best of luck to you all! I will draw a winner at random on Friday, June 8th and mail it right out to you.

And, if you are curious about Buck Howdy, just search his new items (as well as his great old ones) on Amazon.  He has a best of kids cd out now, as well as new kids book about a certain man who ate too many baked beans.

Camping in 44 Degree Weather

It has always been an idea I thought fun...go camping, our favorite thing to do, the week we got out of school.

My brother bought a camper, eerily like ours, and we decided to do a quick weekend trip before our annual big camping trip later this summer.  For weeks when we would greet each other it would sound much like this, "Hey! Just a little bit longer and we are going to be camping!"

The day before we left for camping found me, the mama, sick as can be, in bed.  Misereable.

S1 and S2 came to the rescue and cleaned the camper.  They did a surprisingly good job for two boys who have never cleaned a camper before.  The day was cold, dreary, rainy.  We held out hopes for a better tomorrow.

Friday, the day we left for camping, dawned dreary.  And then it began to rain.  It was even colder than the day before.  When I shut the door to the house, our floors were covered in mud.  On the way to the campground, it began to pour.

My brother, who had arrived just before us, forked over the five dollars for the most pitiful bundle of firewood - but it was dry - and we couldn't get that campfire started fast enough.  Bundled in our winter jackets - WINTER jackets - we ate the food I had brought along in crock pots.

Because my husband had figured I would just get filthy muddy setting up the campsite, I had not showered before we left for camping.  I arrived that grubby you get from throwing together a camper after being sick in bed the day before.  So we drove down to the showers that were either not very warm or it was so cold outside that the water couldn't even compete.

It was fast shower.

When we got back to our unheated camper, I dove into bed.  I had made our bed with thermal sheets, two of the thermal blankets my sister in law had made us and the thick quilt that we had gotten for the bed.  I was afraid my hair might freeze so I pulled the blanket over my head.

It was 44 degrees.

The morning dawned sunny.  I didn't want to get out of bed before it was fifty, but it didn't reach fifty and I needed coffee so crawled out of my surprisingly toasty warm bed and into my winter coat.

The day warmed as it went on.  And, really, we were so happy to be camping we just got to being more happy than cold.

 My little nephew, Hunter, wanted to play in the dirt in the worst way.  My brother and his wife gave in.  It wasn't long after that the he began WALKING!  Woohoo! It was so much fun watching him play this weekend!

 This is my handsome hubby and Chloe, the Pomeranian of my sister in law that I may love greatly.  She is the sweetest little dog.  See how little she is?  She will stay that size, a forever puppy right there.  And when Jake said, "Ah, what a sweet puppy," I had to snap a picture.

 S2 spent a great deal of time napping.  We assumed it was because we were all exhausted, recovering from a busy end of the school year.  We realized later that S2 was indeed sick.  Poor boy! He got lots of cuddle time from his Daddy though.

 For entertainment in the afternoon, S1 set out some doritos, sat in his tent with his nerf gun and waited for the crows to come in.  Apparently it is easy to entertain him.

Here is S4 with the other Pomeranian that my sister in law has, Ellie Mae.  While Ellie wanted to play, S4 or some other child was usually carrying Ellie Mae around...a live stuffed animal to cuddle.

 Jake takes our cooking of food over the fire very seriously. He is amazed we don't get sick when he and my brother are not around to take care of the cooking of meat.

At four in the afternoon, the campground offers special activities for the kids staying there.  As you can imagine, there weren't very many people staying in a campground in June when 55 was feeling like a heat wave after the 90 degree weather we had the week before.  Jake took S3, S4, my three year old nephew and my three year old niece to their fishing pier to fish as the park activity.  They arrived home fishless and unscathed...except for Jake.  Rebeka had to go pee and he was the only one there to take her.  He didn't offer to take the little kids fishing again.

While Jake had the little kiddos fishing and S2 was asleep and sick, my brother took S1 fishing.  They were gone a good long time.  But if they were catching fish like this, I can see why.

 S1 was just as proud as could be with this 19 inch bass.  We took a bunch of pictures and then he let it go.

 So, if you go fishing in the lake this fish is in, you may catch it again.  But we won't tell you where the lake is.  He wants to catch it again.

Even though S2 spend most of the weekend like this, and it was chilly - no, downright cold - we had a great time.
There is something about sitting around a campfire with those you love with no agenda.  And it DID warm up nicely.  Sunday, when we left, we were all in t-shirts again.  Because it was cold, I didn't take very many pictures.  I did have my mom snap this one as we were about to pull out of the campground.  Never mind my tangled hair.  I ran out of conditioner.  I will spare you the amount of time it took for me to comb out when we got home...or the amount of no more tangles.

While Jake taking all the little kiddos fishing (he is brave and we loved him for it) could have been the funniest story of the trip, it wasn't.  It was S1.

As we sat at the camp fire, we watched a racoon meander very near us, and S1 came up with his brilliant idea.  He found the cheap marshmallows wadded up pretty good so he wadded up bits of marshmallow and stuck them on trees.  Then he took an uneaten hot dog and strung it up on a little rope connected to the awning.  He laid bread and marshmallows all around him, then he sat in his tent with the flip cam and just waited.  

He didn't wait long.  This video was taken as Jake and I were headed out to shower.

When we returned back to the campsite, one raccoon scurried up a tree next to us and peeked out, one ambled out of view and who knows what was under the camper.  I just dove into the camper to be safe.  In the middle of the night, we realized the raccoons had found the bacon grease we were saving for fire starter in the morning as a huge ugly fight broke out. That S1 slept through.

It was a great weekend, well, other than freezing (but we survived!) and S2 being sick.  He is still sick, poor boy.

It was a great kick off to our summer vacation.