Saturday, December 30, 2006

Prayers for Protection

Normally when our family gets into the car we pray for protection on the road as we travel. Jonathon almost always is willing to pray and James occasionally chimes in with, "Dear Jesus, help us have a good time." I suppose that is also a valid request. Anyway, today, for a change to our normal stay at home for Sabbath, Grandpa A. and Auntie J. and I took the kids to the Children's Museum in Portland, ME. As usual, we prayed on the way there for God's protection in our travels. I think Jonathon and James both prayed- but the important part is that today, more than other days I noticed God's blessing in this area.

This afternoon it was predicted 1-3 inches of snow starting around 3pm, but when we left the museum at noon, it was already coming down. I think it's about 41 miles from the museum back to the house, but it took us almost 2 hours because of the driving conditions. We kept track of how many cars we saw that had accidents or had run off the road into the ditch- way into the ditch, or were in the emergency lane going the wrong way from having spun out. I will say I only saw one of the ones just turned around, all the rest were either wrecks or in the ditch far enough that they couldn't get out and we passed 14 of them on our way home! Every time we went by, my thoughts were, "Thank you Lord for protection." It's not every day that it is so clearly obvious to me that he is watching over us, but I know it to be true. You could argue that those were just dumb drivers or people who were inexperienced in the snow and that might be the case, but I bet some of those people were just run into by others and actually had almost no part to play in their unfortunate circumstances. So, while I felt we had an excellent driver behind the wheel- Grandpa, I was also very aware of an excellent God watching over us.

And as a side note, I was glad to see that of all the accidents we saw, not one of them appeared to be fatal. Which I will also give God credit for. So, as you leave your house today, maybe it isn't snowing in your neck of the woods, but He is still there and can guard your vehicle too. Be sure to give Him the opportunity!

That's my sermon for the day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

12 Days of Christmas

You must all now sing for my pleasure:

(Ahem..disclaimer: while most of the gifts were received, it is not necessarily the "true love's" fault)

OK, now SING:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
-a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
-two stuffy nostrils and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me
-three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils and a week of cleaning house without the kids. (Haha)

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
- four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
- "FIVE bowls of mushy cereal, four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
- six runny noses, FIVE BOWLS OF MUSHY CEREAL, four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils, and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
- seven wakes from snoring, six runny noses, FIVE BOWLS OF MUSHY CEREAL, four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
- eight broken train parts, seven wakes from snoring, six runny noses, FIVE BOWLS OF MUSHY CEREAL, four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils, and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
- nine dolls called "Baby", eight broken train parts, seven wakes from snoring, six runny noses, FIVE BOWLS OF MUSHY CEREAL, four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils, and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
- ten thousand castle pieces, nine dolls called "baby", eight broken train parts, seven wakes from snoring, six runny noses, FIVE BOWLS OF MUSHY CEREAL, four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils, and a week of cleaning house without the kids.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
-eleven stinky dishrags, ten thousand castle pieces, nine dolls called "baby" eight broken train parts, seven wakes from snoring, six runny noses, FIVE BOWLS OF MUSHY CEREAL, four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils, and a week of cleaning house without the kids.


-(deap breath here) twelve different battery operated toys playing at the same time, eleven stinky dishrags, ten thousand castle pieces, nine dolls called "baby", eight broken train parts, seven wakes from snoring, six runny noses, FIVE BOWLS OF MUSHY CEREAL, ,four tangled slinkies, three fussy boys, two stuffy nostrils, AND A WEEK OF CLEANING HOUSE WITHOUT THE KIDS!

Whew! Now wasn't that fun!?!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Picture Updates

Here are the recent events in the Aldrich house according to pictures:

First we have the birthday of Jeff last Friday. Once again the Strawberry Pudding Cake came out and it was gobbled up.

Second, we have the castle and the friends over to play. The castle was the big gift from the relatives this year and the boys are still having a blast with it. They got it on the first morning of Hannakah. (It took their mother about 3 hours to put together. The instructions said 2 hours, but I watched a movie too.)

Third, Jeff and Rachel enjoying cookie swap cookies on the floor in the kitchen.

Last, Jonathon and James with their gingerbread houses that they made in Ms. Randall's class! We had tons of fun and the houses are still intact right now, though the drool ratio in this place is multiplying by leaps and bounds.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cooking Madness

I think that while I am usually VERY fond of cooking...this week I've had just about enough. Actually, I think that I might enjoy being a caterer in another life or something, but with the amount of things that I have worked on lately, I think my creative juices for the kitchen are at an all time low.

For the dessert banquet I had a great time making all sorts of things:

Apricot Nectar Cake (an old family recipe that is absolutely delicious)
Baklava (a middle eastern dessert full of nuts, honey, and flaky crust layers)
Almond Sugar Cookies (the best sugar cookie recipe I've found so far)
Mini Peanut Butter Pies (creamy peanut butter filling in minature phyllo dough crusts)
Chevre Grapes (round globe grapes, seeded, dipped in pistachios and stuffed with goat cheese)
Lemon Chicken Salad in Poppyseed Tartlets (just about what it says)
Ye Olde Christmas Cheese Ball (a mixture of cream cheese and smoked gouda rolled in toasted pecans)
Crudites (basic veggies and dip- a fresh dill and cream cheese dip, and a dip of beet juice and cream cheese)

I was going to make something else, but I didn't really have time and it had asparagus in it and mine went bad before I could use it as well as I forgot I had to thaw out my pastry for 2 hours before I started on it, thus I nixed that one.

THEN...we had the funeral for Mr. Page- an elderly man who lived here at Fairwood and passed away last week. So I opted to make the dessert for the reception- Coconut Cake.

It went great. At first. A friend came over in the morning to help me make the cakes because we needed 3, 3-layered cakes and we had the cakes baked by noon. Then I began working on the icing in the afternoon. It was an old family recipe once again, but one that was not clear on some of the instructions and I basically spent the rest of the day Wednesday working on that icing- until around 7:15pm. But I finally got it to work and the cakes were beautiful before I went to bed that night.

Yesterday I just recovered the house somewhat in addition to it being the day of the funeral and the last day before Christmas break for the students, so they had a party in the evening that we attended.

Today is Jeff's 3rd birthday which guessed it...a cake. I"m making one of my favorites- I'm not sure what the official name of it is, but we call it Strawberry Pudding Cake and it is super easy and super yummy. A recipe from my mother. It's a layer of cake, yellow, white, or something similar, topped with juicy strawberries and juice that soaks into the warm cake, then a layer of vanilla pudding spread across and finally a layer of Cool Whip sprinkled with nuts. Mmmmm! Jeff likes it, so that works.

I'm also making Chicken Casserole for dinner since that seems to be a family favorite around here.

Tomorrow I will prepare another cheese ball for Sunday refreshments since that's the day of our church party and then Sunday night I'm hoping to make some cookies for the Cookie Swap on Monday night. I think I've settled on an Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie that has a creamy peanut butter filling and looks somewhat like a little sandwich.

Then I will run away from the kitchen and not look at it until...breakfast the next morning I suppose.

So that's what I've been doing lately- cooking tons!
Of course this next week is suppose to be cleaning week here in our house. Brandon is keeping the children each day for a while so I can "spring clean" the different rooms of the house- one room each day. Today I have tackled the boys' room and I'm thrilled with the results. I couldn't believe how much dust and dirt was in there, but it's gone now. I think the dirtiest spot was the toy box. I don't think I've vacuumed it out since Jonathon was born- it's always had his blocks in it, but today it is clean. The other bad spot was the fan. Of course I am allergic to dust, so I wore a dust mask and thus I am having virtually no reactions to all my cleaning so far. I hope I can have the same results next week when I do 5 rooms in 5 days.

Ok, better run get the cake out of the oven and feed the kids lunch. Have a great Sabbath one and all and as we will begin celebrating Hannakah this evening, Happy Hannakah to all!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Exciting things for this week

Just thought I would share the top 10 most exciting things this week in our house- that I could think of right this second, that is... We've been on duty and preparing for the dessert banquet, so things are super busy. Oh that Sunday would come!

10. We're on duty this week for the Bible School and nothing scary has happened.
9. The Bible School girls and I decorated the dining hall Monday and Tuesday- a first for me to be running the operation, but they had great attitudes and worked hard.
8. I've had plenty of "opportunities" to walk this week since that is the fastest way to get my blood sugar to come down. It seems to be getting more sensitive as the months of pregnancy drag on.
7. Rachel went to the doctor on Wednesday for a rash around her mouth, but the doctor thinks it's just dry skin and irritation to saliva. Hmmm...ok....
6. I went shopping yesterday and hit a record 8 stores, with a child in tow before coming home, all in the name of picking up items for the dessert banquet.
5. Rachel likes shopping.
4. After going to bed close to midnight for several nights, last night I made it in bed by 8pm and was asleep less than 30 min. later. I think I need to do this for a week.
3. "Cars" is a full 2 hours long and that means I can almost clean the entire house without being disturbed! I'm looking forward to that this afternoon.
2. I've decided that while I usually think of cooking as my hobby, this week I think it's more the idea of cooking is the hobby. Somehow the cooking isn't quite as appealing, but I haven't really started yet, so maybe I'll change my mind.
1. Jonathon poked James in the face with a tomato cage- the pointy end. Thankfully, he missed his eye by a 1/4 inch and the wound seems to be healing well.

Hope your week has gone just as well, if not better than ours. See ya!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Picture of the Day

So, today's story is we had a pine tree taken down right outside our house. A VERY LARGE TREE. The crane came. The men chopped, the crane picked up

the chopped part of the tree off of the stump and put it down VERY CAREFULLY. After putting said tree down on the ground some men marked parts of the tree for saving for various reasons. They marked it with neon orange spray paint. As you can see from the picture, James found the paint and decided he should mark himself. He actually got his head, his jacket, his shoes, Jonathon's jacket, and the two slides on the lawn, but I didn't feel the need to put all of that here. The head pretty much says it all. Of course, after I get the paint out of his stuff, then I can work on all the pine tree sap on his pants...isn't life with boys fun!?! Never dull...that's for sure.

P.S. I place no blame in this particular situation. I did not know the paint was there, James found the paint just outside our house and it was therefore fair game, and the men were just doing their job, so we just chalked this one up to a "wonderful" accident.

P.S.S. The paint did come off his head, so I'm sorry to disappoint any of you who where hoping to catch him with the orange still on weeks from now....nail polish remover.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful fors....

Here is a list of ten slightly generic, but nonetheless important things to be thankful for today:

1. A great family that loves me.
2. God has richly supplied our needs.
3. My children are happy and learning to love Jesus.
4. Plenty of humor to go around with friends.
5. I am not in the hospital.
6. I have lots of friends that I regularly feel loved by and overwhelmed with their generosity.
7. We live at a wonderful place and are enjoying raising our children there.
8. Godly parents and in-laws who support our desires for living godly lives and encourage us along the way.
9. Jesus' love for me.
10. Heaven is a day closer!

And now...10 things that might not normally show up on a list, but I am still very thankful for:

1. Dental floss.
2. Cordless telephones.
3. The ability to whistle very loudly.
4. Poached eggs on toast, and steak for breakfast.
5. Socks.
6. Indoor plumbing, especially in the winter.
7. Strawberries and whipped cream.
8. Liquid naps. (Coffee in the afternoon)
9. Toilet brushes.
10. Latex foam rubber form pillows. (They are the best in the world!)

Hope your thanksgiving is equally filled with both large and small things to be thankful for.


Monday, November 20, 2006

So Far So Good

Ok, this is a very uninspired post- one that is being written primarily so that I can alleviate tha guilty feelings in the back of my mind.

First off, I am feeling much better since my hospital visit last week. I had three days in the hospital with a blocked kidney. The doctor said that it was due to soft muscles and the lack of them functioning properly thanks to pregnancy hormones and possibly aggrivated by the baby "sitting" on top of my organs. This means I had plenty going into my right kidney, but nothing coming out. Anyway, thanks to many prayers and, mainly a direct answer from the Lord, the pain is completely gone. I am so thankful- especially since the doctor said the remedy was to manage the pain with drugs until the baby is born -and that is still three and a half months away! If you wonder why I thought this was unreasonable, for pain comparison (according to Carol Burnett) you should take your bottom lip and pull it over your forhead. Yeah! Doesn't that feel great! So, bottom line- no more pain...this is good. And I am recovering from the hospital visit as well and regaining my strength.

Second, we had a great familly reunion on Saturday. This is my mother's side of the family and quite a few of her cousins are true Southerners. In fact, some of you would probaby want to have a translator present. There was plenty of good food, lots of laughing, and when I didn't have the energy to chase kids anymore, there were plenty of willing hands to pitch in and help with the work. The younger people rode 4-wheelers all across the property and some people engaged in games on the lawn. My brothers brought Bocce and there were also a few games of horseshoes and disc golf.

The children had a good time as well. There was a nice little slide and swing set, a trampoline, a little play house, and the highlight for Jeff: the swimming pool. The pool still had water in it and he was caught at one point standing on the edge, throwing all manner of objects into it. Somehow during the day his socks and shoes got wet. I never found out how, but that might be a good thing.

Sunday we went to church at ODC and enjoyed seeing the Georgia crowd again. Afterwards we caught some McDonald's for lunch and had a little down time during the afternoon. Then for dinner we headed to Bryan and Sarah's. That was quite a riot with 4 parents and 7 children 5 and under. They had a good time and we had a good family visit.

Monday- that would be today- my SIL and good friend Kate and little Rachel went for a shopping trip and had great success. We had a few things we were specifically looking for and prayed before we went that we would be successful. And we were! I cam home with a bag full of maternity wear and I am really looking forward to enjoying some new things. The blessings of God and the generosity of others are two things that I have been overwhelmed with lately, thus I am greatly blessed and feel very loved.

Funny thing of the week so far: Yesterday I told James to stop doing something and he looked at me with a gleam in his eye and replied: NO! You backstabbing murderer!

Excuse me! I am your MOTHER! Ok, well I didn't really say it like that, but his Daddy did remind him quite clearly that he needed to be more respectful in his responses to me.

Ok, I need to sign off for tonight and go to bed. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

PS: You know you're in the South when:
You get out of the car at the store and the lady in the car next to you says: "I hope ya'll brought a strolla, cause if you ain't, you gon haf ta lug her aroun'. They ain't got no buggies in thar."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Harrumph! I haven't forgotten all my readers out there...really...I just can't seem to work in the whole computer time on the schedule these days. You needn't feel ignored. I actually neglect to check my email some days too- much less do anything else on the computer. INSTEAD...I've been:

- teaching school to the kids
- being on duty with Fairwood
- reorganizing our entire family schedule to work in training times for the kids on chores
- going to a Bible study
- being pregnant
- dealing with blood sugar issues and various other ailments
- teaching Sunday School- which doesn't take up much time during the week except some key computer time
- and the one day I tried to post last week, I couldn't get a single page to load on the screen, thus I was forced to come up with an alternate activity- more scheduling efforts

On the side I have been cleaning up after our resident monkey (Jeff) who just this week got himself stuck on the bookshelf halfway up the wall in the living room, climbed a book case in his closet and discovered all my sewing supplies and threw them all over the room (think mass of tangled thread and stick pins everywhere), and emptied the almost full vaporizer onto the bedroom floor. He also is obsessed with a puzzle lately of shapes. Unfortunately the morons who made the puzzle didn't make the circle an actual circle and neither is the square a "true" square, and the triangle actually only fits one way into its slot. Thus I am force to frequently unstick his puzzle pieces because rather than turn them around until they go in smoothly, he insists on pounding them in, jumping on them, or anything to make them smash into the slot the way he wants and then he cries because he can't get them out. Arg! We should burn that puzzle...except he really does like it.

Rachel has taken to the tearing up books stage and that has left me with the repair job. She also loves to dump out toys and pick them up again, but she always seems to tire of the routine on the dumped out part and not on the picked up part. Hmmm....WHY???

James is intense as ever- especially when telling stories. Here's a good example:

This is James imitating the frozen fish in "Ice Age". For those of you who are not familiar with this famous pose, he is quite similar to the real thing. The funniest part about this pic is that when he was telling the story, he actually made this face for about 30 seconds straight and remained totally oblivious to all the hysterical laughter round about him.

Jonathon is doing well. Schooling is going good too. He has learned to sound out words and is flying through his reading, feeling successful and for the most part enjoying it. He goes back and forth between being very creative (attaching a jump rope to his box of chalk and saying that is his electricity box and he is going to go wire things), to ridiculous (hide his shoes and socks in the leaf pile..or was it the dirt pile...or maybe the sand court...he can't remember- but we do have to find them!) to sweet ("I'm being as good as a flower...and a tree!). Anyway, he's interesting these days and I'm having a good time teaching him all sorts of things.

Brandon and I are doing well and gearing up for a Thanksgiving trip South. Yayah! We are planning to be gone for about a week and hopefully see plenty of family and friends while there. So...with that in mind..once again I have LOADS to do and I should be off doing them and not involved in such frivolities as blogging...although it does keep you in touch and there IS value in that...ok...see ya.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Never Read to Your Children

Well...ok, maybe not ever...but you should avoid Calvin and Hobbes at all cost! Lately, Jonathon and James have been enjoying looking at Calvin and Hobbes comic books. Most of the time they don't know what the words in the pictures say, but the pictures are enough to occasionally make them laugh- the sign of an excellent illustrator! When they don't understand what's going on, or they know it's a REALLY good one, they beg, plead, and groan for someone who is literate to explain the sequence of events.

So, I have occasionally induldged in a few stories, and much to their delight, one night I read C&H for and hour straight! All was well until they became too familiar with the stories. Then comes the reenactments...

Jonathon stealthily creeps up on the unsuspecting mother: "I"M HOME!!!!" He yells in her ear! And then cackles gleefully knowing that he just scared about three years out of her!

Or, James says: *Blow, blow blow* "I'm blowing up my balloon (imaginary)." *Blow, blow, blow* "AH!!!! I blew up my head instead!"

Jonathon with playdough in Sunday School: "Look, Mama! I'm making little snowmen!" (Calvin makes minature snowmen and then pretends to be a giant dinasaur and stomps the villagers to smithereens!) Then Jonathon, without warning, crushed them all flat with his fist.

So, I'm waiting for the time that he tells me that his stuffed dog tied him to the chair, or that it was the dog that wanted food in the middle of the night, or he decides to run the water in the bathroom, but not actually take a bath. Perhaps Calvin and Hobbes should be put away until the ideas in the books are more just funny and not necessarily GREAT ideas!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Living Room Activities

Everybody reads....sort of... :-)
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Exciting Events in the Aldrich House

Since I have not posted recently and I can't think of one single moment to expound upon I thought I would tell you of a number of things that have happened recently to keep our family busy, having fun, and avoiding dull moments. I will say that these are in no particular order, but just as they come to mind.

1. Jonathon and James are back working on school stuff. Both are making progress in their reading, though James is able 3 lessons ahead of Jonathon. It has been very interesting seeing the different strengths of each child come out. Jonathon seems to pick up more quickly in the writing as well as most hands on projects.

2. Jeff continues to want to go to the potty and if I would ever pay attention to him, he would probably already be potty trained. He is eager and can go on command, but I have neglected the regular process of taking him during the day, hence, he is permanently in pull-ups right now.

3. Rachel is beginning to talk and says all kinds of things- "Thank you, hi, bye-bye, Amen, I want it, mine, mama, daddy, rachel, no, yeah..." There are tons of words that she can mimic- various nouns and phrases, but those are the ones she uses without being prompted.

4. Yestereday was applesauce drive. We did a smaller amount of applesauce this year than in years past and we were finished with cutting apples around 11am! I think they were done boiling jars in the earlier eveing, whereas, in years past it has been 10 or 11pm before things have finished up. I personally am not a big fan of applesauce in general, but I love the big work day and the fellowship- and the kids like the stuff, so there is that benefit as well.

5. We are planning to be in Georgia for Thanksgiving! Whooohooo! I realized not too long ago that this will be the first time we have gone to my parent's house for any holidays since moving to New Hampshire! All of us are flying down, thanks to the generosity of some wonderful family members and so it becomes a double excitement for the boys. They are looking forward to being in Georgia, but they are also thrilled about the adventure of riding on an airplane! I'm just happy that we aren't driving that whole long way this time! Praise the Lord!

6. Jeff flooded the kitchen yesterday. Well, not the entire kitchen, but probably a quarter of it. This is the first time that the water dispenser on the outside of our fridge has become a problem. I thought he was taking a nap, and instead he was in the kitchen, holding down the water button and watching it run all over the place. It took 4 towels to clean up! Perhaps this could be the last episode of playing with the fridge water...but I doubt it.

7. 3/4 of the children are upstairs now, leaving only Rachel and myself in the living room, so I better run...hope your week is going well all you wonderful people!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Making Good on a Promise

Here are the pictures from our hike that we took about amonth ago now. Sorry it took so long. I have a dislike for posting pictures due to our dial up condition. Nothing ever works right. But here they are.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


This is a warning ahead of time for all of you out there...


Friday is Brandon's Birthday!!!!!!

He will be a whopping 29 years old. Please be prepared to shower down loads of affirmation on him when it comes! You can all be thinking of the thousands of reasons why he's so wonderful and write your long list in here for him to read.

Thanks for being such wonderful family and friends.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What would you do?

So, Jonathon came home with a snake today. Brandon finally found one for him and he came right up to me and held it in my face and said, "Look Mama, I have a snake!" I wasn't really prepared for this information and in response said, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" Perhaps you would have said differently, but I think that is about all it takes to respond to the 5 year old holding the snake!

(I promise the pictures of the hike will come)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sorry it's been so long.

Ok, I realize that many of you have checked my blog a few times now and found nothing new. This is not due to a lack of activity around the house to blog about, but rather a lack of ability to sit down and tell you about it. So I'll give you a basic synopsis of some interesting events recently- which, due to the short nature of the post, will not do justice to the experience, but you will KNOW about it.

Activity 1: We went on a family hike last Saturday. Up the mountain...all of us...and made it to the tree line. (I should have some pictures to follow up on this one, but I'm too lazy to go upstairs and get the camera and come back down and load them.) We had a great time and I was only majorly sore the next day instead of incapacitated. It took 2 1/2 hours to get to the tree line for a view and then we stopped and had lunch- muffins, cheese, and pistachios, oh...and plenty of water. Then we came down and that was about an hour and a half. How did we get up there you ask? Well, Brandon carried Jeff a lot of the way in a pack on his back and I carried Rachel in a Snugli (a baby carrier) on my back. Jonathon carried the muffins in a little back pack most of the way up and the rest of the water and food I carried in a back pack on my front. I'm sure we were quite the site, but due to the slow pace we took, I hardly ever was close to short of breath. We spent a lot of time looking a critters and old trees and sticks that resembled sling-shots, and seeds, and rocks. Yes, Jeff especially liked the rocks. In fact, when he was walking he wanted to climb to the top of every rock sticking out of the ground and jump from it. For those of you who have taken the Dublin trail before, you will know that this was an extremely time consuming procedure as there are many rocks every foot of the way and he was determined not to miss any. So, we hiked and they loved it and I came home invigorated, yet tired, and a happy mama who had spent some great quality time with the people I love most!

Activity #2: I cleaned house this week. I've been working on getting some clutter out of the way for a while, but always it seems that I accumilate it faster than I can get rid of it. So, for the last 3 weeks I've been working on various areas of the house trying to get them to look a little more tidy. Then, this week, I ordered a cleaning video- partly to watch again and partly for the Bible School- and watched it to remind myself of all the good tips on how to thoroughly clean something fast. I was reinspired and found myself reorganizing the cleaning supplies, ordering some new ones, and of course, cleaning the house. I dusted and scrubbed and by Friday, things around here were shining more than they had in a while. Some of you may think...A cleaning video? Well...I can only say that I watched this video when I was about 12 and found myself so inspired that I asked for cleaning products and tools for Christmas that year. It really is a helpful tool and I enjoyed being excited about it all over again. The particular video is put out by The Clean Team ( and they have some great methods and tools to help speed things along and still do a great job. Sometimes I wish that they had a program like Pampered Chef or Tupperware or something so I could sell their products to people because I would! But, alas, they keep all the money for themselves- and I suppose that since they don't have a bunch of middle men, it makes the prices more reasonable, so that's good too. Anyway, it any of you ever want to get excited about using a toothbrush on the toilet seat, this is for you. I honestly believe this is the closest anyone can come to "loving" to clean the bathroom! ANd if you want encouragement to clean, just get me started on the subject and I'll have you inspired in no time!

Activity #3: We had a relatively normal week in which Jonathon came home with 13 caterpillars in his shirt pocket one day, asked me to help him catch 2 snakes he found another day (I did NOT help), and came in with a bucket of wild apples, for me to make pie another day. James only went to the bathroom outside 3 times this week that I know of- and both he and Jonathon learned to read a few little words this week. Jeff is still trying with all his might to be potty trained and thus takes his pants off at any given moment and then goes looking for a potty. Brandon says this routine will cause him social issues later in life, but I'm hoping that we'll conquer the problem before it's seen as a social issue. Rachel is babbling lots of sounds lately that sound like they should be words and she thinks they are. She will come up and say some sort of sentence that no one can possibly understand, but then look at me expectantly as if I'm to answer her question logically. Actually, Jeff does the same thing, but I do recognize his words occasionally.

Ok, so that's some of the happenings for this week and hopefully I can come up with some for next week soon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Top Ten Things I've Learned This Week

1) Alcohol gets red permanent marker off a green duvet cover, but it does not get it off of white plastic drawers.
2) Itty bitty syrofoam balls go a long way when dumped outside.
3) They also find all sorts of places to hide inside and take a while to vacuum.
4) Rachel really likes sweet potatoes and fresh corn and can eat as much as I can.
5) Tree surgeons (or removal services) are fascinating to watch- especially the crane.
6) I never want my child to be a tree surgeon.
7) You can never sweep the kitchen too many times after Brandon has cut the grass.
8) Half a bowl of cereal and milk can create a puddle on the floor at least 2 feet wide as well as soak an entire bib and skirt.
9) Diapers don’t change themselves.
10) There will NEVER be enough hours in the day for me to get EVERYTHING I want to do finished. I should just make shorter, more realistic lists.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Superwoman Does NOT Blubber!

It’s true, I watched a few episodes of this particular superhero when I was younger and never to I recall tears running down her face! She also doesn’t seem to loose her temper. Even in the event of a world crisis, she stays calm, collected, and rational- fighting the enemy with poise, intelligence, and strength. She can also change into some snazzy clothes by spinning around really fast, and for some reason I still find myself in need of a closet and a changing room. I say all this to point out that I came to the conclusion that I am indeed not superwoman and…while that’s ok- this is a post to declare the other side of our story- the “everything isn’t great all the time” side.

For those of you who are faithful blog readers, you will notice that I posted my last post on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, the world came crashing down around my ears and I failed to do the spinny thing, change clothes, and go defeat the evil powers that be. I waited until today to post so that it wouldn’t sound so despairing that you would be depressed afterwards, because I was helped out of the chaos also.

I always speculate about what causes such events and maybe it was the fact that I had had the children almost all by myself for an unusually long stretch- from Thursday evening until Wednesday morning. Brandon was involved in retreats, meetings, and other such business. Perhaps it was the struggles of character issues with the children as previously mentioned. It could have been that I was just tired. Some would chalk it up to: “Oh, she’s just pregnant.” Possibly, a horrific trip to town Tuesday afternoon did it, or the fact that the muffins burnt in the oven Thursday morning while I was trying to stir the eggs, flip the bacon, get Rachel out of the cupboard, and keep Jeff from getting burnt by bacon grease. Whatever it was…I lost it- and superwoman was not there to tell me how to properly deal with the situation. Since she was not there, I resorted to my childhood tactics- which my family knows all too well of yelling, name calling, slamming things around, and storming out the door. Unfortunately, I stormed out at the same time Brandon was supposed to be LEADING the 9am meeting and thus he was obliged to go put someone on the spot to lead it since he had just been stuck with the children quite unexpectedly.

I found myself sitting in the car (it’s quiet, away, and somewhat sound proof) praying and telling God all of my woes and distress. After pouring it all out, I came back inside and Brandon listened to be pour it all out again. We prayed and then that was it. I look back and my practical mind says that nothing really happened and that I didn’t get many answers for my issues- yet we did pray and somehow, that met the need all by itself. I did feel much different, nothing about my situation changed, but somewhere, something changed- and made a difference because of prayer. I still was a bit discouraged and later that afternoon I was lifted from that as well thanks to the Patch the Pirate CD in the car. The children and I were headed to a play date with some other moms and while we were riding a song came on with words something like this:

Walking on the water-
Stepping out by faith upon the sea.
Listening to my Savior,
When above the storm he calls to me
Trusting in his power
When the waves are crashing all around
Walking on the water.
Stepping out by faith.

It occurred to me that when Peter became frightened by the waves that quite possibly they were “crashing all around”. In fact it was the first time that I visualized the wave he was scared of as possibly close enough to crash ON him while he was walking. Yet Jesus said for him not to look away and to trust. Hmmm…the wave IS crashing on me and yet I am still to keep my eyes on Jesus and trust Him not to let me drown!

Somehow that met my need and I prayed again asking for help to trust even when it didn’t seem like it was the logical thing to do anymore. It met the need and while things aren’t espcially different, having a different attitude changes all sorts of things.

So, I did have a bad day- or a bad morning- a REALLY bad morning, but Jesus got me through it to the other side and I am trusting that he will continue to do things like that.

Besides if I were Superwoman- I wouldn’t need God and that doesn’t sound appealing in the least! Hmmm…I don’t think Superwoman had clutter either, but I can work on that.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"I aaaaammmm Ssssaaaammmm. I am Sam.

Actually, we haven't learned the "I" sound yet...

Three days down, 177 to go. Actually, I think the school calendar I’m using only has 170, so that would be 167 days to go. Whatever it is, I’ve done three days of school with my two little kindergarten students- Jonathon and James and it seems to be going okay. For those of you who are trying to think if they were really born close enough together to be in the same grade, they were not. Jonathon is currently 5 ½ and James just turned 4 August 3rd. So, they are in fact 15 months apart- as they have been for quite some time, though James would like to see that change soon. Anyway, James is very quick verbally, and I just thought that maybe he could pick up on stuff faster and perhaps get something out of Jonathon’s lessons too if I spent the time. And, if it goes well, we might just keep it like this and then I wouldn’t have to teach them separate stuff all the time. I know later some subjects go together fine for different grades, but right now, I don’t want to have to do different math and reading for each, so the same thing for both seems to be working so far. James has a shorter attention span, but Jonathon gives up practicing quicker so that makes them about even.

So what have we been doing, you ask? Well…we’ve been working from the famous “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” book and using “Right Start Math”. The first is a reading program that takes between 15-30 mintutes a day and teaches the child the sounds of letters before they even learn the names. It also incorporates some writing and my kids hate all writing utensils- especially if they have to use them. So, after several days of slaving away on paper, I broke out the shaving cream (Diane R.’s idea) and squirted it all over the dining room table (not especially delicate) and let them write their letters in it with their fingers. We put on aprons so they wouldn’t get too dirty and they went to town. I heard very little complaints and I think they actually learned something. We did the entire reading lesson in shaving cream as I just wrote the sounds from the book on the table and had them read them in the cream instead. Jonathon sounded out his first blend “ma” ( “a” as in Adam) by himself today and that was exciting.

The Right Start Math uses lots of games and things to teach counting. The basic premis of this program is to get the child to recognize sets of five and thereby making it easier to count and add in sort of groups. Right now they are learning to recognize numbers one through five without counting it. For example on your fingers or with items in a line, 1 is one because it is alone. 2 has a partner. 3 has a middle and partners, 4 doesn’t have a middle, and 5 has a middle, two ends and something inbetween them. It sounds like it’s counting, but really when they glance at it they are starting to recognize the amounts without having to actually say or think, “1…2…3…4…”. We use popsicle sticks, little colored blocks, toys, screws, nuts and bolts, and all sorts of things. We’ve counted, sorted things, made patterns, shapes and learned a little about ordinal counting. (I only know what the word “ordinal” means because I’m teaching my children- it means counting, “first, second, third, fourth, etc.) Anyway, that has been fun and the material has very specific instructions for each lesson.

Other school that we are doing, though we don’t always do it at the same time: reading the Bible and learning some Bible songs, reading some literature- right now we are on the last chapter of “Farmer Boy” and I need to find another book from our literature list.

Let’s see…oh, we are watching Monarch caterpillars turn into butterflies and that has been completely fascinating, so there is our science. We are supposed to start some history, art and music soon, and there is also a French course for kindergarten, but I’m not sure if I’m that brave. I have not looked into it yet much and I’m a little hesitant, but we’re just getting started and I’m not worried about French. So, it’s been fun, even if it’s been tiring and just in case you think this is taking all day, it isn’t. Right now we are usually doing about an hour and a half in the mornings and then I read to them in the evenings for about 15-20 minutes. So, really it isn’t that much. I also hope I can gradually incorporate more life skills into the day- like cooking or cleaning jobs, or working with Brandon. They just got pruning clippers so they could help him trim bushes and they are really exciting to help him when they can. I hope they can do more of that sort of thing in the future, they are so much better behaved when they’ve been having a good time working and come home tired.

Well…that’s school for you and at the risk of sounding too boring…I’m going to end this. We’re having fun…hope you are too.

P.S. Lest you think all life is fun right now, we’re dealing with several attitude and character issues with the boys these days that are not fun, but hopefully they will learn those lessons soon and we can enjoy more of the day and not just the school part. Please pray, if you have a minute, for them to be honest, kind, and responsible.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mary !!!

This is Brandon sneaking in here, under cover of ye olde closed door. Although it has been my custom to refrain from posting on Mary's blog, so as to avoid charges of blogging nepotism, on this special occasion, caution must be thrown to the wind, the powerful anti-blogging nepotist lobby must be resisted, and natal celebrations must abound.

I'm taking these brave steps because I love her.

Why, you ask? Well no, of course you wouldn't, since its so obvious.

But I'll tell you anyway...a top ten at least:

  1. She wants to obey Jesus as much as she knows how.
  2. She's willing to do #1, even when it meant I would be halfway across the world for three months.
  3. She is patient with her clumsy husband even when, in the midst of conversation, he's halfway across the world.
  4. Big dreams, and enough energy (so far) to chase after them.
  5. Toilet fix-it know-how.
  6. Forget converting those God-hating neo-libs...we'll just outnumber them.
  7. Goodies that are...good.
  8. She takes practical steps to help make me successful.
  9. Think...Proverbs 31 object lesson.
  10. This will make her a good way.

Hope this year is best yet!!

Long Over Due

I think I must be incapable of blogging correctly these days. I'm not sure what's going on, but I can't seem to put a write up with a picture and actually have both appear on the blog. They just disappear out into the computer neverland. Oh, well, until I figure it out, you'll just have to deal with all the seperate "posts". Here's the posts for the previous pictures.

I have failed. I had good intentions- really, but it seems as though my time at the computer lately has been close to nil. I was going to tell you an awesome story about the water pipe breaking on the front lawn and the guys having to shovel out muck and bail out water for hours and hours, but I wasn’t able to get it all written before my computer had a little issue with a small child and came crashing to the floor, making it necessary to send it in for repairs. Fortunately, we had the warranty and it was no additional cost to have it repaired, but I have now lost most of my enthusiasm for the story that is now about 2 ½ weeks old. Alas, I know I have let some people down, but I will post a picture and here’s the main point of the story anyway:

The water pipe going down the lawn to the Murrays sprang a leak and it was so bad that it took ALL the water away from the other buildings. ALL the water pressure. There was none. Shawn, the back hoe, Brandon, and Dan dug it up and they were all about 6 feet down in a hole of about 8-3 feet wide and long and digging out the muck to get to the pipe, but the valve to shut off the water wouldn't close down all the way and they had to bail water every so often so they could see what they were doing. From 1:30pm to 7pm on Sunday afternoon they shoveled out that heavy muck- some was done with the backhoe, but alot had to be done by hand so as not to break the pipe. They finally got it exposed, cut it and found that they had the "EXACT" length of pipe on hand, and not an inch more! They put it together around 9pm and wala, the grass seed is already sprouting on the dirt patch out there. Brandon had the dirt cave in on him one time while shoveling, which was kind of scary, but it only came up to his thighs and thankfully it was one time that he was not bending over. Shawn and Dan dug him out , but they were all mess when they got done. The End.

And the other story that I had wanted to write up was about mice. But it too seems like old hat at this point. I’ve been trapping a few mice in our apartment. So far I have trapped two and seen one more, but the other day I realized that I was more of a murderer that I thought because Brandon found four little babies starved in the basement. Apparently, we got the mommy…I almost was feeling guilty…almost.

Ok, the last thing is that Jonathon came up with his own joke this past Sunday. He said, “I couldn't untie my shoes because they were “knotty”. Haha! He came up with it all by himself and laughed and laughed. Most times I would roll my eyes at such things, but coming from a 5 year old, I guess it has to be funny.

That’s all folks.

The Mice

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The Hole

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Camping Picture

(This was suppose to be with the post below. However I seem to have a P.E.B.K.A.C. problem with uploading pictures! Oh well.) Posted by Picasa

Camping over the Weekend- LONG

Ok, I know you all haven’t been here for the frustration and yet you still reap the results of it. I have written this post twice already only to have it disappear before my very eyes before I can post it, thus it gets shorter and shorter. Lesson relearned: Never type things directly online! It was originally a long wonderful post. Now it’s just getting to the basics. I wouldn’t even write it at all except that I want to document our experience. OK….here goes…again…

Camping: The two older boys, Brandon and I went camping this past weekend. We went to a little campground in Exeter. We chose that location because it was about half way in between us and Brandon’s parents and they joined us Saturday morning and stayed the rest of the weekend. We had a great trip. The weather was awesome- it couldn’t have been more perfect! There was no rain- a phenomenon I can’t remember happening on many camping trips and the temperatures were quite comfortable with a little breeze blowing most of the time. The mosquitos were out in full force, but we managed that with a little bug repellant. Ok, forget the short…I’m just going to make this long anyway.. I just want to- even if it takes me a week!

Anyway, we left Friday afternoon with a loaded van, said goodbye to Jeff and Rachel- who stayed with Diane for the weekend, and headed to camp. We got there around 5 and set up camp and started our campfire. That night for dinner we made “silver turtles” and baked sweet potatoes- all cooked in the coals of the fire. Brandon made quite an inferno of a fire and we discovered that we should have splurged for the higher quality aluminum foil since our cheap stuff tried to burn off before the food was done. The silver turtles consisted of diced chicken, lemon pepper, butter, and garden veggies- broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and green beans. The beans and squash were from our garden, and the rest from the supermarket, but they were yummy. James ate every bite of his and Jonathon scarfed down his potato, but left the chicken- he’s not a big meat eater anyway and Brandon was happy to finish his leftovers. The boys helped make them and Brandon cooked them and the the boys and I did the dishes. James rinsed and Jonathon dried while I washed. After dishes we had smores and since the boys were recent pros at these, they went quite well. James preferred his marshmellows only have the merest blink of heat on them, while Jonathon did a nice job of toasting his to practical perfection without burning them.

After smores, we cleaned up and went to bed for the night. We had a 5-7 man tent that had plenty of room for the 4 of us and I speculated that we probably could have fit Jeff and Rachel in there easily. Brandon seemed to disagree, stating that he didn’t think they fit on the camping trip at all. Hmph…we might have to compromise on our ideas at some point. I read to the boys a chapter out of “The Farmer Boy” before they went to bed and they seemed to enjoy the stories and time to settle down. James went to bed seconds after the chapter was finished and Jonathon, not long after. Brandon and I tossed and turned a while- there was a group of campers across from us that stayed up rather late. They weren’t super loud our anything, just up talking and since we were so close, it made it difficult to sleep. They settled down around 1am and I finally drifted off to sleep. James seemed to prefer sticking his feet in my sleeping bag to his and once I finally accepted it all was fine.

James was the first on up Saturday morning at around 6:15am. The rest of us still wanted to be in bed, I told him to inspect the stuff in his back pack. I had let him help pack his the day before and we put a bunch of stuff in. So he pulled the items out one at a time and looked them over and did what he could with them. He pulled out his comb, his toothbrush and toothpaste, his 2 bandaids, his flashlight, and his poncho and lined them up in a straight line on his sleeping bag. Then he combed his hair with the comb and put it back. He put toothpaste on his toothbrush and brushed his teeth, then put both away. (He just eats the toothpaste, so there was no spitting involved) Then he played with his bandaids. He found two “bo-bos” on his arm and wisely used the bandaids to heal them right up. He played with his flashlight and tried on his poncho and then packed it all away in his back pack again. He zipped up his sleeping back and straightened it out. By that time 45 min. had past and he was ready to get out of the tent, so I got up with him. Brandon and Jonathon followed shortly after.

That morning we had yogurt and granola for breakfast and just pittered around the campsit waiting for Carol and Andy to arrive, which they did at around 9am. With them came a canoe and we all climbed in and took a trip up the river. The water was calm enough to paddle both directions fairly easily and since Carol was having some arm pain, we all rode in one canoe! That was a bit crowded and we had some trouble getting off shore and into the open water. I ended up climbing out so we could get ourselves off of a bush and sunk up to my knees in muck! UGH! But we did make it and it was a pretty day and we had fun despite the crowded conditions. We canoed for about an hour and then came back to camp for lunch.

Lunch was just some sandwiches and snacks. Carol brought some yummy goodies like brownies and chips and I provided the sandwiches and we had a great little picnic. After lunch we all took a little nap. Ahh…that was wonderful! I think the only person that didn’t sleep at all was Jonathon. James was the last one up around 3pm and when he awoke, we all went for another canoe ride. This time we managed to avoid the bushes and once again spent about an hour out on the river.

After we returned from the second trip it was time to begin dinner preparations. We had another “utensilless” meal consisting of steaks cooked on a rock, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and sauted onions. Well, I did use a skillet for the onions. The steaks turned out well with the exception that I neglected to tell Brandon to wash the rocks before heating them in the fire, so the first round of steaks had a little gritty crunch- but the flavor was good thanks to Daddy’s secret marinade! Mmmmm! For those of you who are curious about the methods of cooking steak on a rock, you wash the rock, then put it in the fire- or right next to it. It should be a medium size and have at least one flat smooth side. After it has heated in the fire for about 15-20 minutes, you roll it out so that the smooth flat side stays up. Then spray the rock with cooking spray, or if it’s too close to the fire still for your comfort, spray the steak instead. Lay the steak (we used thin sliced boneless ribeyes) on the rock and cook until done flipping once. If the rock is still right next to the fire and receiving some heat from it, you can cook a couple of steaks on one rock before loosing the heat. If it’s a larger rock or further away, you have to reheat it. So, there you have it. The baked potatoes we cooked in the fire and the corn as well. It was all pretty yummy! If you wanted to add more to the meal, Daddy mentioned thinly sliced zucchini on a stick and I know you can cook canned biscuits on a stick also. Anyway, that was dinner.

After dinner we had dessert- banana boats. These were easy enough that James made them all for us- except Jonathons- he made his own. Basically, it’s a banana with one piece of peel pulled back and then you make a slice down the middle of the banana and stuff it with M&Ms and fold the peel back over and stick the whole thing in the fire until the chocolate melts. It didn’t take very long, and somehow the peel doesn’t burn before you are ready to eat it. Those were good and I think next time I might try adding some peanut butter.

We cleaned up from dinner and then headed off to a magic show that the campground was putting on. The man doing the show had some good tricks but lacked much stage presence and so it was hard for the boys to pay attention. James actually just left with Brandon part way through and spent the rest of the evening running his mouth and roasting marshmellows. Jonathon stayed and watched, but by the end was pretty bored I think. Nevertheless, I think it was a cute idea and Jonathon did like parts of it.

After the magic show we came back to our campsite and cleaned up and headed to bed. I read another chapter from “Farmer Boy” to the boys and they went to sleep pretty quickly. It was a little cooler Saturday night and so I think they slept better and no one was up before 7:15am!!!! Whooo hooo! Jonathon woke first that morning and inspected his backpack, but it didn’t last nearly as long as James’ inspection the day before. After the usual morning routine- bathroom and such, we started breakfast. Breakfast was eggs, bacon and toast cooked on a “buddy burner”. Buddy- because you pair up and cook two meals on one hot top and burner because it has fire! This was another trick I did with my Dad when I was younger and wanted to share with the boys. Basically you have a #10 can- about a gallon size that is empty and clean with the top completely removed. A hole is cut into the side on the open end large enough to slide a tuna can through and then a hole is cut on the opposite side near the bottow to allow for smoke to escape. Then each burner has a tuna can with some cardboard in it, filled with parafin wax and this becomes the fuel. You place the lit tuna can under the #10 can and wala! A buddy burner. Cook your bacon on top, leave the grease, add your egg and then the toast. We tried framed eggs- some people call them one-eyed sailors- and that worked ok except that our fire was too hot because I put too much cardboard in the tuna cans. Bacon on a stick over a fire works well too, but I wouldn’t try an egg that way. JJust seeing if anyone is still awake down here. Anyway, the tuna cans burned for almost 2 hours, so there was plenty of time to cook all the breakfast we wanted and we had 3 cans for 6 people, so we could really have fed an army! Daddy told me later we should have just turned the #10 can over and put it on top of the tuna can and extinguished the flame, but I wasn’t that smart and besides I wanted to see how long it would take to burn out. After breakfast we pretty much just packed up and broke down our camp. I was really glad that I took the time to pack everything right while we were there because when we got back things were VERY busy here and we were able to just take the stuff in and put it away. So the tent didn’t have to be set back up and the sleeping bags were already shaken out and rolled. It was nice!

We left the campground around 11am and headed for some lunch. None of us were very hungry, but it was good that we ate then, because dinner was a long time coming and we didn’t really have time for lunch after we got home.

This ends the camping section of the adventure over the weekend. We had a GREAT time and I think I would like to try it with the whole family sometime soon. Brandon isn’t so thrilled about the “whole family” deal though, so we might have to come to some compromises or something….we’ll see. I’m sure we’ll be out in the woods again eventually though.

PS. The picture is the only one I took on the whole trip! Arg! It is of our first meal and I noticed the battery on the camera was low and decided I needed to conserve my pictures because I might not have many left. I conserved alright! I never took it out again. Oh well, it’s a pretty picture of food!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Happy 4th Birthday James

The cake I made complete with James, the red train.

We had hotdogs and mac and cheese at the request of the birthday boy. I was thrilled for a quick easy meal and they loved it- especially with Thomas the Train decor to go along.

The birthday boy himself. Don't worry, his bark is worse than his bite. He's actually the cuddly son of the family.

Jeff liked the mac and cheese best. Rachel favored her "Mr. Conductor" hat and her hot dog bun. Jonathon has just taken to hiding under the table anytime we look for him.

I should add that James was quite devestated when he discovered that he was only turning 4. Apparently the cool age is 5 and he cannot yet attain such a standing. After all, his brother is 5 and his friend has been 5 and is now 6 and another friend is about to be 5 later this year, but James must be 4. Ah...the woes of the younger sibling! I had no idea how rough they had it!!! But we all had a good time anyway. Posted by Picasa

Ahem....the bloomin onion maker.

Frank asked me what one looked like and here are the components of the fancy one I just got. The best parts are (having made them before without all these gadgets) the slicer- at the top- which allows the onion to get even straight cuts without putting my fingers in danger, the corer- to the right, which very nicely removes the core from the onion after it is fried, and the instruction booklet which gives all kinds of tips for how to get the best Bloomin Onion and several recipes for batters to dip them in as well as dips to serve with them.

It's all in the name of strong FIRM arteries I say! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Don't Give up! Help is Coming Soon!

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making Smores

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One more water pic

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More Pics

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Water Pictures from vacation

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Well, we’ve been home for a week and I have yet to report on our vacationing experience to the lake side cabin in Maine.

Here I will try to relate the main events without spending hours upon hours to do it. I do have other things to do around here after all. Hmmm…ok,

So we left on a Thursday afternoon around 4:40pm. By the time we were loaded in the van I had declared to Brandon at least twice that I had decided we didn’t really need to go anywhere! I’m sure some of you can relate to that feeling when trying to pack up everyone to go somewhere. Is it really going to be worth it in the end? Well, this time it was I think.

It did take us almost 4 ½ hours to get there, but that was because we had to stop for gas, stop to eat at McDonald’s , and stop at Wal-mart to pick up some needed items like baby wipes and children’s medications. You see, every time we go on vacation, the kids get sick, so I don’t like going anywhere without my trusty bottles of Children’s Tylenol, Motrin, and Triaminic. So, that added about and hour and a half to our trip. We arrived around 9pm and the children quickly went to bed and then so did we.

Friday, Brandon kept the boys at the cabin and Diane and I took Rachel and went yard saling. That was great fun! Lewiston is a great place to hit lots of yard sales. I’ve been there several times and always there are quite a few. I think we went to around twenty and that was a relatively slow Friday compared to other times I’ve been. I found some great buys including a toddler bed for Rachel when the new baby comes along, and some Nerf weapons for the boys to play with. Some new trikes and some key Tupperware pieces and a bloomin onion maker rounded out my purchases and we came home after lunch. Diane’s mom came along also and treated us to Arby’s for lunch. I think that’s one of my favorite fast food places of all and I had a terrible time deciding what to eat for my one meal that I would have there.

When we arrived back home, we swam a little and then ordered pizza for dinner. That was one of the best things about the time- easy meals. We had pizza, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, hot dogs…not all especially nutritious, but the kids liked it and it was easy. We also did lots of poptarts for breakfasts and that was a big hit too.

Saturday, we pretty much just played in the water and the boys watched some movies. It was overcast and kept drizzling on the kids in the water. One of the boys, I think James at one point was standing in waist deep water and looked up at the rain and yelled, “Mama! Mama! I’m getting wet!” Well, yes, but whoopty do!

That evening after dinner we had planned to have smores over a campfire, but it really rained hard, so we postponed that adventure to Monday evening. We went to bed with the rain coming down and managed to find a couple of leaks in the roof, but thankfully, not over the beds.
Sunday, Brandon went to Elim to preach and the rest of us stayed behind to play in the water some more. There are no showers at the camp, so Brandon went to the R’s place and took a shower and the rest of us just decided not to impose our stink on others. Brandon came back for lunch and we had hamburgers. After lunch, the little ones took a nap, Brandon left and the two older boys watched another movie. We all played in the water again that afternoon.

Monday, was the best day of all- it was sunny and the children played in the water quite a bit and Rachel actually got a little sunburn, but not too bad. We noticed it before it got to the point of being uncomfortable. So, water, movies, water, food, and then in the evening we did do the smores. Jonathon really caught on and did a good job of roasting his marshmellow and even made a smore with two of them. James had a hard time roasting them, but was happy to eat the smores all together. He called them sandwiches. Jeff just wanted to eat the chocolate and the crackers and the marshmellows. Once he actually got his marshmellow on the stick and toasted, but then it was to perfect to eat and he swung it around and played with it. Rachel, just ate what ever she could get her hands on, though it was obvious that she prefered the chocolate and crackers to the marshmellows.

The kids went to bed that evening and then Tuesday morning we got up and started cleaning and packing up to go. We had thought of may be staying until Wednesday, but I wanted to leave while the kids were still having a good time and Tuesday morning they started getting fussy. We managed to get loaded up before lunch and so ate at a Burger King and then headed home. It was perfect timing because all the kids slept in the car with Jeff and James sleeping for almost the entire 3 hours! We got home around 4pm and I was able to get quite a bit of the stuff unpacked and put away before bedtime that evening.

So, all in all it was relaxing, the kids had fun and I didn’t come home completely exhausted! AND NO ONE GOT SICK!!!!! Whooooohooooo!!!!!!!!!! I think that was the best part.

Now, as a PS- I’ll mention what Jonathon said yesterday:

“Mama, I want to die! Can I please die?”
“Jonathon, no, you can’t die, but why do you want to die?”
“Because I want to see what Heaven is like.”

Hmmmm…..don’t we all.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

An Addition to the best dad in the world post

Dad looked great even on his wedding day- when he was sick with Mono.
I think this is his best pose- asleep, but still working. Posted by Picasa


I know it's 3 in the morning right now, but I couldn't sleep and my tummy was feeling rather icky- so you get some brief posts here.


What makes a child suddenly decide to retrieve the small hand pruning clippers from dad's stuff and take them to his room and cut the wire to his alarm clock- which was plugged in, by the way, causing himself to be electrocuted?

I have no idea, but such was Jonathon's fate yesterday and the cord on the clock is now about 2 inches long and the whole thing is destined for the garbage. I sure am glad he didn't get hurt and perhaps it scared him enough not to do it again.

And, perhaps all this creativity will pay off in the future somehow!

Happy Birthday Daddy!

This is just a quick post to let everyone know that today is my daddy's birthday and I love him. Just in case loving him isn't enough, here are 10 reasons why I think he's the best dad in the world.

10. He takes time to teach me things like how to change the spark plugs in my car and how to repair every toilet imaginable.
9. He does a good job providing for his family even when he has to get creative about where the next paycheck is going to come from. Nothing illegal, but he can find the sale in purple trash can lids!
8. He encourages me to take my dreams further that I have dreamed them- "you could sell this", "if you add ____, you could teach this to other people", "why don't you practice this new skill on us" and so on.
7. He lets us mess up his yard and other things all in the name of fun and learning. For example, we put a water slide down the back yard hill every year and it made one very long strip of brown grass right down the middle, but he was more concerned that we were having a good day. He let me mow the grass because I enjoyed it- even though I mowed down his pecan trees when they were little and I helped keep the fig tree a mere stump for years.
6. He orchestrated resanding all the floors in my current residence and thus has made some of my allergy problems almost nonexistent at home.
5. He treats changes as new opportunities- when we went to Puerto Rico as a family (and I hated it and was an awful child most of the time) he made the best effort to see it as an extended vacation and as a result, I have memories of repelling, snorkeling in some beautiful water, camping, camping in the rain, camping at the beach, caving, getting the best cocunut ice cream on the island, going to little bitty resturants for rice and beans and liking it, and eating lunch via the hot dog vendor on the corner.
4. He taught me how to cook AND he taught all my brothers how to cook and as a result we can have some awesome family meals!
3. He made bold efforts to have us enjoy family devotions in the morning, from letting us color, to reading Proverbs over the intercom system and playing music in the background and then making up his own weather report. We also had many times of devotions that were routine and boring- so he knew how to do that too. :-)
2. He taught us to volunteer and serve others. I don't remember a single year growing up that he wasn't helping out at church in some big way, or working in the community and dragging us along- which we minded many times but only worked for our good AND managed to pull us together more as a family. AND he let me take the two week course with the ALERT guys when I was the only female that showed up and I learned all kinds of cool things - but that's just a side note.
1. He taught me to love Jesus. He was there to explain that Jesus wanted to be part of my life and live in my heart. He was there to tell me that Jesus protected me when I had terrible nightmares and was scared out of my mind. He was there to remind me that we serve a BIG God when things looked pretty dreary and overwhelming. He is still there to remind me to trust HIM to take care of me when it looks like the task is too big.

SO, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY! I love you. You have been and are still the best dad in the world and don't you ever doubt it!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

We've Returned from the Wild

The kids and I (along with Diane) returned yesterday from our little vacation around 4pm. We declared it a great success and the children didn't want to leave. This isn't the time that I'm going to write all about it however- just let you know we're back and alive and I will have some pictures to post also.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I thought of several different directions for this post to go.

First, was the awesome time we had on Sunday with a water slide down the front lawn and many friends to share it with. Our friends, the "Weeds"- as a couple of my boys say came over for some water fun along with the other children who live here at Fairwood. We slid down the slide for about 3 hours and thoroughly killed the grass underneath. We also set up a wading pool for little ones and had mounds of squirt guns thanks to Diane R. There was lots of fun and I even went down the slide a number of times. Of course, it being Wednesday I am still discovering different muscles that are sore from the event. First it was just tummy muscles that hurt, but today the backs of my legs are hurting from the walking up the hill. I haven't quite recovered, but we had a blast! The boys really had fun and went to bed exhausted that night.

Second, Brandon told me yesterday he had a dream about me. He said I was in the shower and a piece of plastic blew in and enveloped me and I suffocated and died and then everyone was sad. That made me smile. Not that I died and people were sad, but it isn't often that I think of myself as being valuable to others. I don' t mean to think that I am worthless, but perhaps most of you understand the concept that I don't just walk around thinking, "Ah...I am wonderful and everyone thinks so." I mean how many of you do that? Even if you are?? Which I think most of the friends I have are wonderful, but you don't really dwell on it and yet the thought of passing on and people suddenly being sad that you aren't around can actually be encouraging. You know, I think hmm....despite all my struggles and efforts, I do get some things right and people notice. I know this is a really carnal thought, but still somehow the thought was encouraging. I hope his dreams are not prophetic though!

Third, our family is gearing up for vacation up in Maine again. We went last year to Diane's camp and this weekend we are planning to go again. Brandon is going to be there for the first several days and then Diane and I are going to stay with the kids for a little longer before coming back home. I am both looking forward to it and sort of hesitant. I know it will be a good break and lots of fun for the kids as well as the adults. It's a pretty laid back atmosphere and we plan easy meals and there is very little upkeep of things. But lately I've been having some "evening sickness" which seems to last from mid afternoon to late in the evening. I'm about 2 months along right now and the ickies are getting a little more noticable. I hope they are over soon and I also hope they don't interfere with our trip too much.

Fourth, I have finally stooped to the level of whistling for my kids. I used to think that the concept (like in the Sound of Music) was a little demeaning to the children- to be whistled at like a dog. However, Fairwood is a BIG place and when they go out to play, sometimes I can not yell loud enough to get their attention and sometimes I have zero idea as to which direction to head out on the hunt. So, I've taken to whistling. A couple of years ago I finally learning how to do one of those super loud shrill whistles with my fingers in my mouth and I've been practicing ever since. Now it's paying off. The boys can hear it even over the lawn mowers! I'm so glad! AND for those of you who think that I am just blessed with such a marvelous talent, let me tell you, I spent long hours spitting all over myself trying to figure out just how that noise was supposed to be made. When I finally got a little "tweet" I kept experimenting until I could get a real impressive noise. Every once in a while I start to whistle and for some reason it doesn't work right and I spit all over myself again and the sound is more similar to a squeaky door rather than a loud bugle call, but I just laugh with all the other people laughing at me and try again. WHoooohoo! No more loosing my voice trying to hail the children. I suppose the best part is that so far they are actually responding to it and coming right away. I hope that continues for a long time.

Ok, and last, I just want to mention that I will have no phone line this next week and therfore will not have access to email or blogging, so while I will try to give a great report when we return, After Thursday, you'll just have to find some other way to entertain yourself besides my blog- At least until next Wednesday or Thursday. Until then, have fun!

Funny Quote this week: Jonathon: Mama, come look at my train track. It is very lovely!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

On the German Carousel. (Jeff and Rachel were taking a rest break in the stroller.) Hope you enjoy these pictures of Storyland adventures. We had a GREAT time. Posted by Picasa