Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays

How 'bout a rainy Monday? We didn't let it get us down! No siree! We went out and enjoyed it to the fullest!

I was hiding out in the back of the car with my phone and some paperwork. And juice for the kids when they'd finally had enough of the sogginess! I did take pictures of Josh riding his bike through the puddles, too, but they were all blurry. It was either 'cause he was going so fast or because the lens was so wet!

I'm really thankful for the gentle summer we've had so far. Just a few days of really hot sticky weather. Mostly we've had cool breezy afternoons and even some chilly nights. And a lot of rain. It's been good for the trees! They've done a pretty admirable job of putting new leaves out, and right now the hills are actually getting nice and green! I'll take mid-70's any day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Technologically Challenged

The other night I managed to sneak away from the Crazy House and go shopping by myself while Colby stayed with the kids. For once I didn't do anything productive like grocery shop with my free time, instead I spent most of my 3 hours looking at books at Borders! I picked up and carried around half a dozen books before eventually putting them back. Ever look at a price tag on the back of a book at an actual book store?! Makes me wonder how they stay in business when there are things like Libraries, and Amazon! I'd much rather have an OLD book than a NEW book, anyway! Really! Old books are cool, and have character. And smell good. Well, most books smell good, actually, old and new, but I do prefer the old books. Like the 1878 Bible History I picked up at the Goodwill last week for 79 cents. That's cool!

After that I went to Wal-Mart. There really isn't much else open late on a Sunday night. I wanted to look for a new TAPE player for Joshua. He likes to listen to Your Story Hour tapes in his room at night. Right now he has Colby's old (and I do mean OLD) boom box in his room, but I'm ready to have that one back downstairs since it has both a cd player and tape deck and those are apparently hard to find these days.

So I wandered over to the electronics section after grabbing a cart at the door. Must be habit to grab a cart. Usually I'm not filling up my basket, I'm just using it as a child-hauling device with kids piled in it or on it and busily trying to keep all the other things OUT of it. Like random bags of candy and boxes of Twinkies pitched in while I'm not looking. Anyway, I pushed my empty cart around those 8 aisles several times like a lost puppy before I realized how dire my situation is. I found a hand-held tape recorder for $25. Hmm... not exactly what I was looking for.

I was also looking for a remote control for our digital converter box. It's been missing for about a month. Not that we mind getting up and changing the channel when necessary, but that's not the issue. The issue is that when you move furniture all over the place and unplug the tv, vcr, and digital converter box, if you don't have the remote, you can't get the thing to rescan for channels. If they had just, I don't know, put a MENU button on the actual device, maybe we wouldn't have this problem! Just a thought. In case RCA execs are reading my blog. You know.

So we have no channels at all right now. But that's a different story for another day.

Back to my shopping trip, though. I didn't find a tiny little black remote for the coverter box. In fact, I didn't find any converter boxes at all! Do they think everyone must already have one by now? Or are they all sold out? I wondered.

They had a lot of these things for ipods. Docks or something, I think they call them. And they had a lot of strange things in sections called, "Help for your WiFi". What exactly IS WiFi anyway?? They had a wall of flat-screen TVs and a section of gaming systems, Blue-Ray disc players and fancy gadgets for your computer I'd never even heard of.

I discovered as I got back in my car that it actually IS possible to walk out of Wal-Mart without making a purchase!

I decided to head over to Target. Maybe they'd have some tape players there. I always have good luck at Target.

Soon I found myself in the Target electronics section, wandering up and down the aisles with my purse straps over my arms and my hands clasped tightly in front of my stomach, the same way I've seen my Grandma walk around so many times before.

"I'm getting older", I whispered to myself as I stood in front of the great wall of digital flat screen tvs. How is it possible that every form of electronics in our house is in such dire need of upgrading?! The camera needs upgraded, the TV needs upgraded, the music/sound system is in desperate need of upgrading! How can we be so far behind the times just because we don't have an ipod?! I mean, it's not like we don't have cell-phones or something! Is it just me - or do these things seem to be impossible to keep up with when you're no longer single, childless, or with a very well-paying job?!

There were no tape players to be had at Target either. Even their clock/radios had little docking stations on top for the ever-present ipods. Well, then.

Does anyone know if you can download Your Story Hour sessions? Maybe we'll get around to doing some upgrading around, oh, Christmas time or so!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy 4th in the North!

The reason we rarely do anything for the actual 4th of July is because our neighbors go all out and spending many thousands of dollars for their big shindig 2 weeks later. And these fireworks are so much better than the ones we'd see on the edge of the lake with our view crowded by trees after sitting on a blanket holding our spot for several hours.

A few families here in the valley plan their family reunion around that weekend. Friday night tends to get a little wild. Even the thunder, lightening, and rain didn't deter these party people and they kept us awake late into the night. Until our fencer was struck with lightening (halfway between our house and the barn). The crack from that was deafening and we were lucky not to loose electricity to the house! The partiers retreated to their tents after that and we finally made it to sleep.

We had a nice picnic supper with finger sandwiches, lots of fruit, popcorn, and chips, and all sat around the fire and gabbed until it grew dark when we migrated our selves and our fold up chairs out to the road where we had the best view of the neighbors' field. The kids each snuggled down on someone's lap and we all were taken back to the joy and innocence of childhood 4th of July celebrations of years past.

The girls eating their supper at the kids' picnic table.

Emmy chatting with Great Grandma!

Laney was enjoying some cherries and having a fun time with the goggles Grandpa had brought.
Had to get myself in one of the pictures, at least! Laney was eating my food for me and enjoying it, as you can see!
Some of the friends and family that joined us.
Then we were blessed with a beautiful rainbow after a little shower!

My insanely handsome hubby!

Four generations - inspecting the garden, of course, which is more like a bed of weeds than a garden this year.

Emmy was getting sleepy long before it was dark!

Grandpa was popular with the kids, that is, once they realized that "Frank" with his wig and redneck teeth was actually GRANDPA!
Josh was trying to be like "Frank" but got his teeth in upside down!

Then we headed out to watch the show!

Laney started out like this - tucked up close in my lap and hiding under her coat! After a few minutes she started to peek out and enjoyed the rest of the pretty fireworks.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Levi's Waffles

This is my favorite new recipe. I am not sure of its origin, Raini found it somewhere and after it became a staple food in her household for her little guy, it was dubbed "Levi's Waffles" and that's how we know them around here!

This is a vegan recipe, but for those of you who aren't vegan and don't want to try a new recipe that you think might taste like sawdust when you get all done - this is the recipe for you! My kids love them, I love them, and if you make up a big batch and freeze them, they can easily take the place of Eggos for a quick morning meal. Cool completely before freezing and reheat in the microwave or oven, or even the toaster!

Levi's Waffles:
1 c. soaked soybeans
1 c. flour
1 c. quick oats
1/4 c. cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbl. sugar
1/3 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. water

Blend until smooth, pour into waffle iron sprayed with your preferred cooking spray.

First off - the soybeans. Get some dried soybeans through your co-op or at your local health food store. Soak a big bowl of them overnight in water, drain off in the morning and measure the soaked beans for your recipe. Don't measure before you soak, you'll end up with too much and the waffles will be very thick and chewy. If you have left over soaked beans, measure them out into baggies and freeze for later.

Secondly, I use a mixture of white bread flour and whole wheat flour when I measure in the flour. I generally do half and half, or a little tipped in favor of the whole wheat. You can experiment with what you like best.

I like to double my recipes, or in the case of my oat burgers, quadruple the recipe (or more). I do the same with this recipe, but have found that my VitaMix doesn't..Quite.. hold a full double. So I cut the water down to 5 1/2 c. (instead of 6) and it turns out just fine. We eat more than 1 recipe in a single breakfast just the kids and I, so we have to double just to feed everyone!

Also, be SURE to spray the waffle iron before attempting to cook the first waffle. It's not pretty if you don't. And then you have to clean up and start over. And the kids just get hungrier and hungrier, lol!

And whatever you do, don't try to whizz the beans and just the water to make more room for the rest of the ingredients. It just makes FOAM. A lot of foam. Foam pouring over the sides and down the edge of the counter foam.

Other than that, lol!, the recipe is hardy and difficult to ruin, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Little Anarchists

There must be something innate in children that makes them able to sense when Mommy is not feeling up to par. Some little bell starts dinging in their little heads that says, "Wake up, kid, now's your chance!! Let's stay up till 10, eat nothing but cookies, and never have to go potty in the toilet again!!" And then the fun starts. Overthrowing of the home government commences and it's all a mother can do to rouse enough energy to maintain some sort of controlled chaos.

Yesterday was one of those days. I've never meted out so much necessary discipline in one day in my whole time so far as a mother! It started with 3 little kids running out the door as soon as my back was turned and hopping on their bicycles and tricycles to play in the road. Obviously against the rules and they each had their time out. That was followed by outside play time in which they all picked on each other in turns, and after lunch they continued on that strain until nap time.

*sigh* Nap time. Seems more like a pipe dream some days! The girls needed nap time early, so I let Josh stay up and play a computer game while I did laundry. Or attempted laundry. 45 min. later and only 1 load of laundry thrown in, I had spent most of my time going back and forth between the two girls. They were supposed to be sleeping, but instead were busy:

1. Climbing on top of my dresser
2. Bouncing on the beds
3. Throwing themselves against the door in an attempt to protest naptime
4. Pulling out all of the clothes from one of the drawers and emptying a water bottle on top of it
5. Throwing a candle off my dresser and breaking it into many tiny pieces
6. (last but not least) Pooping in the underpants

After that last one I came downstairs in desperate need of some quiet time myself.

And some chocolate.

Josh waylaid me on the way to the kitchen before I could even get to my secret stash and started whining about FOOD. Good grief. You'd think the boy was a bottomless pit. Good heavens, what's he going to be like when he's a teenager?! This was only about an hour after lunch, so that was a no-go on the snack. Instead I sent him upstairs for his quiet time, complete with a new Story Hour tape to listen to and a little bit of busy work - sorting some of his Legos into smaller bins. Little did I know that was going to turn into a 4 hour battle of the wills.

While the kids were upstairs and (somewhat) quiet, I did manage to accomplish something. I took all of the toys out of the toybox and sorted them into piles: junk, donate, keep, and a box of tiny things worth keeping but needing to be further sorted. Then I took the box outside and FINALLY painted it white like I've been meaning to do since I bought it at the goodwill 5 years ago.

Nap time was over way too soon, and while I fixed dinner the kids took full advantage of my distraction and dumped the box of tiny things into the crib, then threw them out of the crib all over the room. And so went my day. They are not usually such terrors, REALLY! lol!

I smile when I think of the new moms with their sweet little babies, believing they have Perfection Achieved in their arms. Soon they will come to know that children are not born perfect and do not have to be intentionally exposed to the corruption of the world in order to be little terrors some days. Nope. In fact, babies are born corrupted, selfish, and believing the world revolves solely around their little wants and needs. It takes a lot of work, a lot of prayers, and a lot of patience to convince them otherwise!

Monday, July 20, 2009


For those of you who read my blog and noticed the cute little ticker on the sideboard, or who know me on facebook and heard our news a couple of weeks ago, I need to update.

In a lot of ways, I'd really like to pretend it all never happened, to quietly move past it in our own time. I'd like to just delete the posts on my facebook page and remove the ticker from the blog and hope no one notices. But I know a lot of people read my blog, often that I'm not even aware of until someone comes up and says they've been enjoying reading my posts. So, rather than leave a lot of unanswered questions in the minds of my friends and be caught awkwardly trying to answer questions that are painful to answer, I'll write this little post to update and hope that's all I need to do.

We were getting ready for the arrival of a little bundle of cuddly baby in late winter, but had some complications, and are sad to say we are no longer expecting. We are keeping busy, recovering, and trying to readjust our thinking and planning. Most importantly, we are counting our blessings. We have a merciful God who loves us and has a plan for each of our lives, and we place our trust in Him.

"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8,9

"...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" Job 1:21

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Basket Full of Socks

Where do all the kids' socks go? Why is it that I can never seem to end up with a whole pair in one wash? Instead, they just seem to scatter everywhere, end up in different washes, eaten by the washer, lost under a bed somewhere, or even out in the dirt at times. So I have this basket where all of the loose kid socks go when I can't pair them up. It's not a small basket, it's an actual laundry basket. About once a month I go through it and pair up what I can and hope the rest will find their mates next month. I'm beginning to think, though, that some of them are widowed now.

I just can't seem to throw those ones away! I'll pick up one and look at it and ponder throwing it away.

"Aw", I'll think to myself, "Emmy wore that when she was just 6 months old and it's so cute with that little pink kitty on it and maybe I'll find the mate someday." And then I'll push the thought out of my mind that even if I did find the mate, it wouldn't even fit any of my children any more and toss it back into the basket to wait for it's hopelessly lost mate.

Some people recommend safety pinning their kid socks together before throwing them in the wash. You know how many safety pins I would need?! And then I'd have all these safety pins floating around my house and I'm pretty sure my kids would find ways to make them "not-so-safe-safety-pins". I can see it now, Emmy running around with an open pin, giggling wickedly as she chased her little sister around the living room. Joshua would catch on, find his own safety pin, then help Elayna out by giving her one, too, and then next thing I'd know, they'd all be gathered around poor little Twerty, sleeping innocently on the couch...

I guess I'll stick to my basket for now.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


It is such a blessing to live in a place where on a nice afternoon I can go out with my lawn chair and sit under the shade of a tree while the kids ride back and forth on the road in front of our house. Josh rides his bike, Emmy rides her tricycle, and Elayna just runs and runs. Back and forth, back and forth they go, racing each other from one end to the other until they're completely tuckered out.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

And.... He's Off!

He's been riding his bike so well... just with the training wheels still on it on the highest setting. He didn't want the training wheels to be taken off, but it was time! And what did he do? Got right on it and drove away! He's been practicing stopping and starting and turning around, having a great time riding his big kid bike!

The Whole Family

This has become the family tradition - to get our picture taken on the steps at Grandma and Grandpa's every 4th of July. It's about the only time we get a family picture done! That and Christmas, maybe. If we're lucky and don't forget in the rush and business!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Pictures of Me

I never realized how difficult it would be to actually have myself photographed. I'm always the one with the camera, snapping pictures of the kids, the scenery, the stuff going on. Or if someone else has a camera and takes pictures, I rarely get a hold of them. And, on the off chance I do - I usually don't like the pictures. I always look like I'm about to say something, or I have a finger pointed at a kid, telling them for the 10th time not to climb the ladder to the roof or smear mud on their sibling's head.

Sometimes I give the camera to Colby and tell him it's his turn to snap some pictures of the festivities. And then I remember why that's a bad idea. I don't know how he does it, but he manages every time to take the most unflattering pictures of me.

"Please, Dear, wait till I'm smileeeing." Okay, or not. There's another picture of me looking like I'm talking because, well, I AM talking. That'll look nice in the family album.

So it was really a pleasant surprise when the pictures that my 3 year old snapped of me when we were getting ready to go to the family 5th of July cookout turned out so well. Good Job, Emmy! Good Job!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

We spent the 4th going to church, (where the kids were all little terrors) then came home for lunch and naps (which didn't go very successfully, either), followed by some late afternoon book reading by Momma. In the evening we went and had supper with Grandma and Grandpa J and had a great time with Aunt Cheryl's rocket balloons. Afterward we went down the road to visit our friends, B&R, and their 3 kids. We had a nice time, sitting on their porch and the time always gets away from us there. Before we knew it it was 10:00 and time to go! We went back up the road and watched a few fireworks before heading home. Now if someone could just explain how three little kids can go to bed at 11 and still wake up at 7 instead of sleeping in that would be nice!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Kids eating on the porch last night - they were too muddy and dirty to come in and sit at the table and after dinner went straight to the tub! July 3, 2009.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Tent Worm Infestation

This year we've been hit with an outbreak of the Forest Tent Caterpillars, more commonly referred to as "tent worms". I've never seen anything like it! I thought we were having a plague visited on us and all the trees were going to die! But then the news programs seemed to ignore the problem for the most part and I couldn't understand why they were ignoring all of my emails on the subject. Okay, I only emailed them once, but they did ignore me.

What the trees SHOULD look like.

What the trees actually look like this year.

Turns out, this happens in cycles, about 15-20 years in a cycle. The caterpillars come, eat off all the leaves on the trees, then these parasitic (but "friendly") flies come and eat them, leaving us with hordes of flies (called "friendly" because unlike most of the flying things outside in Michigan this time of year, they don't BITE) and trees that struggle to regrow a new set of smaller leaves in order to survive. The outbreak lasts from 2-5 years and doesn't usually kill the trees, just slows down the growth. It's very sad to look at, whole areas of the woods just brown and bare. I personally thought the deadness of winter was long enough! And now I find out there will be a least one more year of this outbreak?! Yuck.

These were the caterpillars I was referring to in a previous post that my kids feel the need to rescue when we go for a walk. I can handle stopping to rescue 5-10 caterpillars, but when the roads are turning brown with their little carcasses and my kids attempt to rescue HUNDREDS of 'em, it gets a little bit tedious!

I don't know what the fall foliage will look like this year, but I can imagine it isn't going to be nearly as spectacular as in years past.

** the pics of worms and flies are from the USDA Forest Service info. sheet.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dirt Bed

On the other side of the door from that pretty little flower bed is another bed - the "dirt bed". It's edged with pretty round river rocks and will eventually have the most beautiful flowers in it. But for the moment, it serves as the kids' play area. It keeps them close to the house, where I can hear them, and they play for hours, pushing their trucks around and making roads, or carefully excavating their latest discovery of dinosaur bones, or taking bucket fulls of water from the spicket and making mud. There will come a day when I look at the flowers in that bed, all mature and full of perennial blooms and wish for the days my babies played in it and kept me from planting those flowers. These years will pass so quickly.

Found in the Dirt Bed: one VCR/TV remote (which thankfully does still work), one sand shovel, and one weird little green guy half buried. June 25, 2009.


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