Monday, September 30, 2013

Hula Hoops and 5 Year Olds.

We were running a late evening errand after a busy work day the other day, I had hauled the kids along cuz I hadn't been able to see them much that day, when my babe pipes up from the back seat:

"Mama? Can I get a hula hoop for my birthday? Or, MAYBE CHRISTMAS?!"

I replied with an exuberant, "That would be a GREAT present to ask for!"

And so ensued much chatter about hula hoops and gym class and Olivia being a rock star hula hooper and on and on...

Fast forward a couple of hours later and whilst I was using the ladies room, in walks my babe (we have an open door policy in our house...as in, if the door is closed, the kids feel the need to open it), all intent.

She gently places her hands on each side of my face, leans in, and whispers, eyebrows all raised, conspiratorially like, "ORRRRR, you could get me a hula hoop for NOT my birthday and NOT for Christmas!?"

Gosh dang, I think I'm gonna buy my girl a hula hoop soon. :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Still Alive

Hi friends...

Still alive over here.

And well.

Just, busy and finishing up a super stressful week. I've realized, I need to get back to writing more...it helps my brain to unclutter when I can put my words and thoughts onto paper, or, you know, a computer screen.

I've got a recipe that I've got on deck that I meant to post Tuesday before my world exploded, but I'll get it up soon!

I have photos I want to share.

Stories to tell you.

And, of course, prolly some opinions I might word vomit onto you. ;)


Monday, September 23, 2013

It's about to start...Raising Chickens 101.

My husband? He was raised on a farm.

Me? I was raised in the city. As in, I walked a few blocks to school when I was younger.

My husband? He did chores. Multiple times a day. Without reminders.

Me? I complained so much about doing the dishes that my mom and dad gave me the job of mowing the lawn and vacuuming only my allergies are horrific and I'd sneeze and complain about mowing and soon found my only job to be vacuuming and before long that was a monthly job. At best. And with multiple "reminders" (aka "threats").

My husband? He grew up wanting to own a farm.

Me? I grew up wanting a fancy house on a city lot.

Now? We have a mediocre house on a small parcel of land (8 acres) and while I dream of a fancy house, he dreams of crops and outbuildings and tractors and animals.

So...what do we do to meld our dreams? Well, sometime between tomorrow and Thursday, we will be welcoming 25 layer chicks (the kind of chickens that lay eggs...not the "raise to eat them" kind) into our lives.

We have been converting an old wood shed into a chicken coop...I use "we" very, VERY loosely. As in, today I helped cut some chicken wire...I think I made 10 snips. GO MAMA!! I think I deserve all the credit...

The chickens are technically Belle's. She wanted to start an egg business and my handsome husband saw an opportunity to have animals and JUMPED all over it. I'm talking ALL OVER it.

But suddenly...I find myself dreaming up ways we could raise a cow or two. Or maybe that pig Hambone wants (he thinks it would be great to have an "Eggs and Bacon" business). I'd love to raise my own broiler chickens.

Gah. It's like I don't even know who I am anymore.

Before long I'll be wearing long skirts, braiding my hair in one long, stringy braid down my back, and heading out to the pasture to milk the cows for milk for our morning cereal.

Stay tuned for some (what are sure to be) adorable photos of our baby chicks!



Thursday, September 19, 2013

It was a close one...

Earlier this week, I was side swiped by a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad virus that slapped me across the face and took up residence inside my sinus cavities.

It all started with some sneezing on Saturday...a sore throat by Sunday...and on Monday, it was apparent that I was heading downhill. Monday evening I was fairly miserable...but Tuesday?

Well, Tuesday I woke up and was certain I was going to die. 

My teeth hurt. My neck hurt. The base of my skull hurt. My eyelashes hurt. My toenails hurt.

I told my husband, "I think I'm going to die...tell the children I love them.".

So it goes, I had a work meeting I needed to go to Tuesday morning. I wiped the tear (yes, one squeezed out) from my eye and groggily lumbered to work, sniffling and mouth breathing the whole way. And poor Jeanne...she sat by me and I borrowed a pencil and by the end of the meeting, she looked at me and said, "Keep the pencil.".

I went home, tucked myself into bed, pried my eyes open enough to collect children from school and promptly went right back to bed.

Now, I always tease my husband for not being compassionate. And, while the man doesn't have a compassionate bone in his body, he does have a servant's heart...and remember his Love Language? Well, Tuesday night he made Chicken Noodle Soup, cleaned the kitchen, worked on the chicken coop (oh, I haven't told you about that, have I?), and at midnight, blew up birthday balloons for our birthday girl.

I guess I'll forgive him for not being ooey, gooey compassionate.

Anyway, while it was touch and go there for awhile, I'm now certain that I will, most definitely, survive this one.

The good thing about being the first one in the family to get sick? I'll be well enough to care for the others when they get sick...but that's just it...I'm now staring down the barrel of other 6 members of my family, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Who shall fall victim to the "Deadly Plague of 2013", next?



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

She is 12. TWELVE.

12 years ago, how does 12 years fly by so quickly?

Seemed like just yesterday that she would tug at my shirt and say "dis" ("nurse") in church and she got her words mixed up and said things like "kash kash" (washcloth) and "mlet" (melt) and had cheeks so chubby it made you want to nibble on them.


Now, she knows how to say washcloth and melt and her chubby cheeks are long gone, replaced by her long, lean frame.



My girl is a radiant little ball of extraordinary wonder. She has a heart of gold, enjoys helping her mama out, loves little kids, is smart as a whip, neat as can be and absolutely, positively a joy to be around.


She promises me that she won't be a "crabby teenager" and while I am sad to see how fast time is flying by, I am excited to watch her as she travels along her path in life. 

This girl? She will do things.


She will go places.

"And though she be but little, 
She is fierce."
-William Shakespeare

Happy, happy, happy birthday, sweet girl!

We love you to the moon and back (and back and back and back!)!!


Monday, September 16, 2013

He Let Me...

Raising a teenager (Oop, hold up, need to put in a quick side note...Dear karma gods, I am not gloating in the following sentence, I am merely stating a fact based upon my experience with one teenager...please don't get me back for this statement with any of my younger 4 children who are not teenagers and have yet to exhibit their teenage behaviors. Thank you. Carrying on...) has been so much easier than I dreaded.

Yes, dreaded.

Sure, we've had some difficult times, but we seem to quickly find our footing and gosh, you know what? I'll take the arguments over delinquency ANY day. Our Pal has been a joy to parent and I am so proud of the young man he has become.

He's responsible and funny and smart and playful and just plain fun to be around (most of the time).

Why am I bragging on him, you ask?

Well, 'cuz on his first day of school, he let me do this:


And I think he got as much of a kick out of it as I did!!

Dang, I like this kid. (But no, Pal, I will NOT come to college with you to cook for you and your roommates.) ;)




In the Kitchen with Gram...Apple and Havarti Grilled Cheese!


This right here? Gram's favorite sandwich!!

And, I have to agree...sooooo delicious! The Havarti melts into a creamy deliciousness that is out of this world! I think it would be delicious with some caramelized onions too...but even without? FAB.

Totes fab, y'all.

Okay...you ready for this? It's super hard...or, you know, NOT.

Bread...pick your poison. :)


Peel and slice up some apples...


Melt some butter in a pan, brush it around...


Lightly saute the apples...


Slice the Havarti...


And slap it on your bread...


Take your warmed through, slightly sauted apples and plop 'em on top of the cheese.


Mmmmmm...look at that!


Generously butter the top...


Place them, buttered side down in a heated skillet, and butter the tops.


Grill until golden brown and melty and delicious!!


Ready for the recipe?!

Okay, here we go!

Gram's Apple and Havarti Grilled Cheese


Havarti Cheese
Bread (your pick, cinnamon raisin, honey wheat, white, whatever!!)
Granny Smith apples
Butter

Melt some butter in a pan, lay apple slices in butter and lightly saute...you want the apples to not be mushy, they should still have a bit of "bite" to them! Slice the cheese, lay it on the bread, top it with enough apple to fill the bread, lay another slice of bread on top. Butter one side of the bread, lay it buttered side down in a heated saute pan, butter top slice of bread, flip when golden brown and cheese is melty deliciousness!

Enjoy!





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Excitement Abounds!!

So, I know I mentioned it here...and several times on Twitter, but lemme tell ya again, in case you missed it:

MY BESTIE IS GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!

To the most amazing man.

And, I get to be a co-MOH (co-maid of honor...I refuse to use the term "matron" in reference to anything about me, even if it is the "proper" term. Psh. Whatev.) and wear this to-die-for dress:



Anyway, she has the most amazing story (she recently started a blog about her journey...check it out, you'll love it!). One of love and redemption and the Glory of God and, you guys? She deserves all the happiness the world can offer. I love this girl to bits and to see her so radiantly happy?

It makes me a little misty eyed.

The wedding was set for February 8th. Things all falling into place, the ultra organized planner in her already had things pretty much nailed down...right to the agenda for the big day. But tonight?

Well, last night she and her fiance had their eyes opened to a different plan...annnnnnd...the wedding will likely be in November now!! (For the record, I told her all along to make it a 3 month engagement...she shoulda just listened to me in the first place!) ;)

I am so, so, SO thrilled for her!!

Have I mentioned I'm thrilled for her?

Can NOT wait to see her married. To the love of her life.


Monday, September 9, 2013

And it starts...

After seeing 4 kiddos off before her, I knew it was only a matter of time before the excitement of school wore off for Baby Girl.

I picked her up from school on Friday, and her usual bounce in her step was missing. She handed me her backpack and said, "Mama, I got kinda cry-y today...I missed-ed you." And with that, a little more of my heart broke.


Today was met with tears. Right from the "Wake up, Baby...it's time to go to school!", her tears started to flow, she wrapped her little arms around me and quietly sobbed, "I don't wanna go." I hugged her tight, fought my own tears, and put on my fake happy face to try to find that excitement for her.

Thankfully, it is "B" week at school and we found her "Build-a-Bear Bunny who's ready for Bed" to send with her and the tears stopped. Her adorable smile returned.

Day 5 of school and the other kids are already asking, "Mama, when do we get a mental health day?"...I decided that this year, there's no more covering up our mental health days. These are MY babies and if I want to give them a day off, I sure as heck can, no excuses.

While I think that education is important, it will never be as important to me as family and I know I will NEVER regret those days I take with them. So I'm gonna own 'em.

In the meantime, I too, will be counting down the days to this year's first "Mental Health day." Oh, and Wednesday's off with my little girl. I am going to cherish those Wednesday's with her like you wouldn't believe...


Friday, September 6, 2013

In the Kitchen with Gram...Refrigerator Pickles!

Gram and I got back in the kitchen this week! Was good to have some distraction from worrying about my babe on her first day of school!

We decided to go for a very apropos recipe for the season...PICKLES!!

Yum. I love pickles. 

These are INCREDIBLY easy and so freaking delicious...are you ready?

Here we go...

A whole gobsmack of small (English, I believe?) cucumbers, washed well.



Now, slice 'em so they're on the shy side of a 1/4 inch thick. If you have a Pampered Chef (shout out to Pampered Chef!! Not sure I've found anything that I don't like from them...) mandoline, get that sucker out and slice away!



Now, put your sliced cukes into a (or divide equally into two) roasters:



Peel the cloves from 2-3 garlic bulbs then smack 'em a bit with the wide side of a knife to help them release their garlicky wonder.



Wash a bunch of dill and divide it equally among three ice cream pails, stems and all:



Now, divide your smacked garlic equally.



Next up, sugar!



Vinegar!



Water!



And a little pickling salt.



Stir it all together and bring to a boil, 



Then divide it between the two roasters (or just pour it all into one, if it all fits), try to make sure the cukes are almost covered, you can push them down a bit, but they shrink while they cook.



Wait, cook? Yup, cook! 250* for 30 minutes!



Now, while they're nice and hot, divide (dang, we're doing a lot of dividing here!) the pickles into the three pails, adding the brine equally to all.



Cover, place in fridge, and dig down deep for some will power...'cuz you've gotta let these guys sit for 1 week (at best...Gram usually can't wait that long but she tries to go at least a couple of days!).


And there you have it! 

Gram's Refrigerator Pickles
Printable Recipe



3 ice cream buckets of English cucumbers
2-3 garlic bulbs
Large bunch dill (or a few smaller ones...dill is good!!)
8 cups sugar
8 cups apple cider vinegar
8 cups water
1 cup pickling salt

Clean cucumbers well, slice to about 1/4 inch thick, and place in roaster(s). Separate and peel garlic cloves and smash them a bit to release their flavor. Wash dill. Divide dill and garlic equally among 3 clean ice cream buckets. Bring sugar, vinegar, water and pickling salt to boil. Divide brine equally between two roasters (unless you fit the cukes all into one) and place roasters in 250*F oven for 30 minutes. Immediately transfer pickles to ice cream buckets with dill and garlic in them, dividing pickles and brine equally between the buckets. Place buckets in fridge and let sit for 1 week (if you can) or at least a few days!

Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

We Survived The First Day of School!!!

Maybe I should change that to..."I Survived"!! :)

Dropped my baby(ies) off at school with only a few tears...my own tears, that is. Baby Girl did great. Gave me a hug and kiss and, a little shyly, said good-bye. I'm friends with the other K teacher and she sent me a text saying, "Just wanted to let you know that Baby Girl is happy and smiling!"...and it made me cry all over!

Sounds like they all had a wonderful first day...Dubya's homework being "to play baseball for 30 minutes"...can't complain about that!

And now my heart is a bit lighter, having survived this "first day" and seeing my kids' happy faces after school!

Without further ado...the obligatory "First Day of School" photos!





Monday, September 2, 2013

Well...here we go.

Last year, I penned a cute little poem about this day...this "Night Before School" day. But this year? Today? Well...today I'm just putting on a happy face and trying to keep those pesky tears at bay.


Gosh...why is this so hard?!

I sense a little apprehension in my Baby's answer to "Are you excited to start Kindergarten?"...she answers yes, but I can see there's just a hint of uncertainty. To be expected, I suppose, but it certainly doesn't make it easier on me.


I finally realized why I think it's so tough on me this year (but, if I'm being totally honest, I was all torn up when the Pal went to K, also)...having had Pal when I was just a kid myself, (for the record I was 19) I've never really known life without kids. What IS a day like without a kiddo around to "mom" this and "mom" that and snuggle with in the mornings and chitter chatter with during car rides and read books with and be silly with and...ugh.

I need a Kleenex.

Thankfully, I have some wonderful family members set on keeping me busy tomorrow...Gram and I are back to cooking (wonderful distraction), Pal is home one extra day (the 10-12th graders stay home an extra day to allow the 9th graders time to acclimate...without all those bossy older kids around), and my mom called about going out for lunch tomorrow.

There are already volunteer opportunities that have come up...but for my babe's sake (or, maybe mine?) I think I'm gonna lay low from school for a bit. I think my presence in school has the potential of making things tougher...and good gracious, that would do me in.

So...wish us luck. If you're the praying type, some prayers for strength and grace for me and courage for my babe would be much appreciated!

I'll keep you posted...



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