Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And to all... a good holiday!

Wanted to wish you all a good next two weeks! I might be MIA as we have lots happening (not that you'd miss me). My mean older brother flew in from CA with his lovely wife and 3 great boys. So I'll be dealing with his ornery ways for the next week or so. I'm sure a story will result from all this closeness.

We are celebrating the 50 years of my parents marriage this week. It is a few months early, but the only time all 18 of us could be together like that. They're an inspiration. And I think the fact that we all love each other is quite a tribute to them.

Lisi is going off to the kennel. But! She spends nearly every time in a playgroup there with a collie that friends ours board when they are gone. Sounds a bit 'soft', but I like that idea. I still admit to having a hard time leaving her. She's with me all the time and it feels like leaving a kid behind!

Do stormy days help bread rise? It is snowing and the loaves look great. I'm on to dinner rolls and the Chairman's granola next.

I've been frantically putting in all these little 'hidden helpers' in my baked stuff to keep the kids healthy. It has been working on everyone... except me. I've had a terrific cold/cough now for a week. My 2nd of the season. The kids? Nada. Not sick a bit. What gives.

I better get hopping. Stay warm! Stay dry! Stay cozy! And be thankful...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Painting Ponders

As some of you know I've done battle with a bathroom. I had a brilliant idea to paint a bathroom dark red. It is the main one upstairs that is mainly used by T-man and company. He liked the idea and so it went. I went to a local big box store that sells a multitude of things including a particular paint brand I like and have used before (and has reached #1 in paint ratings by Consumer Reports). This one has paint and primer in one. How great is that? Or is it? So the first coat goes on. Yuck. The second... still a bit yuck. Shadows. Streaks showing. Last night buy another gallon of just the paint thinking that it'll go over the last 2 coats dandy. But get this. "Loretta" who waited on me to get my paint mixed said with great authority, 'you mean you didn't prime with gray first? You must or it won't turn out right.' Thanks Loretta. You might want to mention to 'Carl' that he omitted telling me that when he sold me the paint/primer in one. So I rolled on coat # 3 this morning and it almost covered. But not quite. The Chairman is being quite positive on my ordeal (probably to keep me going). And so my paintbrush is drying. And after a couple of days, I'll look at it and not care so much. So... if you happen to graciously step foot into our home and spend the night and go into the red bathroom, please don't look too closely. It gets a good strong C+ for quality. But I'm exhausted. Bathroom - 1, Me - 0. (p.s. thanks to a lot of you for suggestions).

And I'm wasteful. I HATE cleaning out paintbrushes too much. I do wrap rollers with wet paper towels to keep them going. But rinsing them out for a very long time seem tedious after doing the actual paint job.

Do people actually buy the popcorn that comes in those tins this time of year? They usually have an assortment of butter, cheese, and caramel? Question is how old the popcorn actually is? And what type of preservative is put on it if homemade popcorn tastes stale in one day? And who actually buys it? Someone desperate for a 'gift' I reckon. And where do all these holiday tins end up? Goodwill? The landfill?

Did you know that in five days winter starts? That sounds weird. But! The days start getting longer. And that doesn't sound weird. Sounds wonderful.

I managed to do 11 dozen biscotti this week. It is for an annual cookie exchange. And it was putzy (spellcheck says that isn't a word). And time consuming. But the brunch is worth it!

Last night I trudged through Sam's with the three smaller people here. They were all so agreeable. Kind. Fun. And even funny. At one point I stopped and looked at all three circled around the mammoth cart and thought, 'I'm so incredibly lucky.' They looked at me and one said, 'what?'. Nothing. You know but you don't. If you had a clue how much we wanted your little soul. How much we yearned for each one of you for a different reason... but you don't. And you don't have to know. All you need to know is you're secure in our home. In our family. And you're loved. I am living the life I only dreamed about ten years ago. And it is so very good. Even the mess!

We have some very busy days ahead over the holiday time. There will be a lot of comfort and joy. And I'll love to share about it once it is over...

Monday, December 14, 2009

More Musings

Finally got out of my PJ's and showered by noon. Made ham potato chowder, two loaves of multi-grained bread, and three batches of almond biscotti (cookie x-change this week). Now the kitchen looks like a bomb hit on the counters and the floor. So that's next.

And laundry. I was throwing in dirty clothes in the wash. And some were folded. Neatly. And they were our dear son's who said he 'put his clothes away' last Friday. Yessiree he did! He put the basket right into the closet where it belongs and threw the dirty on top. We might need to visit.

Mira's trying to save me work though. I realized as she was stepping onto the bus that she had on exactly what she wore all day yesterday! And it gets better... she wore it to bed last night. As a mom... me bad. I think she'll need a shower tonight.

At what age do sons need to wear deodorant. After a particularly vigorous wrestling match with him last night, it smelled like a stinky guy. PU. Is 9 1/2 too soon?

We had one of the best meetings in my life yesterday morning. As I looked around the room and saw all these awesome souls gathered together from various corners of the country, I realized the reason people have to move away sometimes is the light would be too bright if they all stayed in one town. It would be blinding. And so... they move to where they are needed and the Sparkle is in other areas too.

I'm having a terrific battle with a dark-red paint job. I think I'll win, but it'll take some time. The girls keep teasing their brother that he has a pink bathroom now. It isn't... but they sure like to rile him up.

Well no more delays. The mop is calling. And so are the pleading eyes of the dog wishing for her walk.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Last night I was addressing envelopes for our annual picture. It got me thinking about friends and pictures and such. We are blessed with friends. Good ones. We are a part of a faith that has a fellowship with others that makes them all true friends... so much that it is a family. And we are thankful that there are a lot of them. Dear friends. When we moved to this house over a year ago I wanted to update our bulletin board. At our other home the pictures over-ran the board and so I figured I'd buy a bigger one. It is now overflowing and I was thinking how thankful I am for that. A good problem. Too many friends? That's impossible.

I was thinking of those we receive pictures from. And I was thinking of those we don't receive pictures from. Good friends who don't have a picture to share. I wonder if they feel like others don't really care (we do! we do!). Or if they feel it is a hassle getting the family all together for a picture (it is! it is!). There are a few families that I send a photo off to year after year. They say they like them. And I believe them. But! I'd love theirs! They are special and kind and gracious. And I'd love to share a wee space on my overflowing bulletin board with them!

And I was also thinking of friendships. Many talk of a 'best friend'. It sounds nice. But as Don Williams croons... the Chairman is my 'best friend'. And I don't think I have another. My sister and sister-in-law are probably the closest. And then there are the others. Each have a special place. Some because of a job, a neighborhood, a shared experience in life (death, birth), or maybe our kids are friends. And some have become friends because of the gift of the web ~ cyberfriends if you will. Nonetheless... I'm glad for so many because each bring a very unique gift. A personality that no one else has. Sometimes I think I'd like to be a better friend. If I was like 'so and so' maybe I'd be nicer and more interesting and maybe even more funny. But I am me and with a little grace given, I will be exactly who I should be for each one.

p.s. thanks for being my friend!
p.p.s. did you send your picture yet?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stormy thoughts

I claim I don't like winter. Despise it actually. The cold. The snow. The wet. The muck. The dark. It all is unappealing. Or is it? I was watching the forecast a few days ago. It looked like a big one coming. And it was (although bigger just west of us I reckon). But 10" or so isn't anything to sneeze at (unless a cold is setting in). And it was a thrill again. The first big one of the year. Why is it we all scurry off to the grocery store to stock up? Well I do. Comes from the blizzards on the prairie as a child. You did need to stock up as you might be 'storm stayed' for days on end. But we're in Wisconsin. Milder here you know. But still stormy. So we fill the cupboards, button down the hatches, bring in the wood for the stove and voila! A storm! And it's wonderful and cozy and fun. And the 5:19 am call telling us there'd be no school today was annoying (for the hour), yet a joy. For the small fry. They clamored outside with pj's under their snow gear. Made some impressive forts. Had a few fights. A few tears. A bit of sledding on the mound, and then came in for hot chocolate and breakfast. Happy sigh. Winter. Don't get me wrong... summer is by far my favorite season. But this... is nice. And cozy. And special.

I filled the bird feeders yesterday so that our little feathered friends would have something to nibble on. But every time I look out I see a huge flock being chased from tree to tree by the dog. Maybe I should put her in the garage so that they can rest and eat. If someone did that to her while she was trying to eat her kibble, she'd be annoyed.

I like Christmas carols. Still enjoying "Christmas Canon" a lot. And the classics. Josh Groban does "O Holy Night" in a lovely way. But with my love of music and singing and softer sounds, why is James Taylor's voice so annoying? I can't stand anything he does. (sorry if you're a fan). But sometimes silence is better. Or a thought of a hymn.

So the crock pot is making our meal tonight. And four loaves of bread are on the rise. And once winter sets in, the hankering for good old-fashioned out of the oven caramel corn calls. Yum. But I think I better walk in the winter wonderland first. My waistline will thank me later...

Stay warm! And enjoy the season! Yeah right. Tell me that some summer night when the crickets are chirping and the soft breeze is blowing and the sun is setting at 9:30...

Monday, December 7, 2009

More on Monday

Sick of bullet points yet? I'm not. Lets see...

* It was Lisi's birthday on Saturday. And we didn't do a thing for her. You'd think with all the stories and glamor of her life that she'd be recognized for something. Nope. Just a big bone was tossed her way at one point. Maybe next year. We were busy on Saturday...

* With Rayna's 5th grade basketball team. She rode the coattails of success. Several on her team were good. Like real good. Like excellent ball-handling skills. And they ended up 3rd out of 13 teams at the end of the tournament. Sure was fun!

* And Trevor. My dear boy after my own heart was fishing for money with a hockey stick under the bleachers (you couldn't access them from either side, so if something was dropped into the abyss... well it was gone unless you went fishing for it). I've taught him well. He ended up with enough to buy a ring pop and some chips I think... I told him instead of doing that should just fish around in people's pants pockets to save them the problem of dropping the money.

* He's into guns. Hunting. Fishing. You name it. And pestering his sisters. But we won't mention that this time. Anyway, back to guns. I have never encouraged such. But it's in him. And so he found a website that shows you on a video step-by-step how to make guns out of paper. And so nearly a ream of our computer paper gone and a ton of tape, we have an AK-47 and an MP-5 sitting on the desk next to me.

* I'm fighting a never-ending battle with clutter. The aforementioned guns. The paper dolls. The junk 'won' at a local pizza establishment. I throw. Reuse. Tell them to figure out what to do with it. But it is building up. And I am not a clutter person. Period.

* Someone in our area is finishing their journey here. This dear lady full of grace could have been a queen. She has five very lovely grown children. And a host of other great relatives. But what stands out to me personally the most was that she was kind. To me. As a very little girl at a birthday party at her house. She saw that I hadn't 'won' anything. After it was all over and the cake was to be had, she called me out of the room. Told me I had behaved very nicely and handed me a little plastic doll. I was thrilled right down to my toes. Thankful. And never forgot her kindness to me. A little girl. Trying hard not to be sad. And so... 40 years later I remember. And I realize what an enormous responsibility we have to be kind to little ones. To the elderly. To our peers. And especially to those within the walls of our own home. Kindness goes a very long ways. And it is necessary. And good. And right.

* And so the bread is in the oven. The chili is waiting to be made. The washer is needing to spin. The house needs to be de-cluttered. And so I must go...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It started like any other walk. The big lady that yells but loves me anyway came out with those pants that 'swish'. Then she put on her shoes and her coat and her mittens and I knew we were in business! A walk in the morning. How good is that? And when she sits on the floor to put on her shoes or boots, I love to crawl up in her lap and lie upside down and show just how extremely grateful I am for her taking time out of her busy day to give me some fresh air.

And so we were off! A brisk breeze out of the west and fresh smells to be had. We circled around to the path (I think you readers know where this leads to because one time she took pictures of the journey), and then like she usually does, she took off my leash. Whew! I'm free. Now I can really get some good sniffs. Paw at some rodents. Chase a goose. And not far down the path, ohmygoodness, that dog is coming after the big lady! I could tell that dog was mean and so I got worried for the big lady I love. I got the hair on the back of my neck all tall and growled and that dog stopped running after the big lady. Then it came after me. I did what any sensible dog would do. I flopped down and exposed my belly so he didn't think I wanted to fight. He stood over me. He sniffed me all over. I was all a quiver with fear but tried not to show it. And then just like that the dog looked at my big lady and then at me and then took off back from where it came from. It was super scary.

The big lady that yells got down on her knees and put my leash on but the whole time she was doing it she was murmuring sweet things to me and rubbing me in just that right spot above my eyes. And then we walked quickly away. And I was proud that I almost protected her. And she was happy to see that there is just about 1/2 ounce of protection in me even though I'm a golden retriever. You see usually we'd just show the robbers around our house and point out to where all the valuables are kept. But sometimes, we know better and we can protect. And so I did!

Ed. note: Tonight an e-mail came from the subdivision saying that a 'brown dog' had attacked several walkers and actually bit one of them. And so... kudos to Lisi! I always wondered if she had it in her...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday night thoughts

Wow... the past week was great. Fun. And funny too! Just a few thoughts...

* You know your Thanksgiving party was a real hoot when someone calls the next day wondering if we found their teeth! (I am not making this up... I promise!)

* I notice that when the fracas in the back seat gets worse that the Chairman drives faster. I asked him tonight, do you really think you can out-run them by speeding up?

* We went to a lovely performance of "Nutcracker" on Saturday. It was nice, the music serene. But at the falling of the curtain at the end Mira yells out so they could hear at least five rows up... 'FINALLY!'.

* Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It only took 36 hours for me.

* I still love my mom's German Chocolate cake. And pecan pie. And pumpkin. And the turkey gravy. My waistline doesn't.

* Holidays are nice, but normal is nice too. I look forward to it. And really isn't that a good thing? Loving 'ordinary' days?

* Someone dear is going far away this week with the simple intent to bring help to others. I can't stop thinking about it.

Happy new week ahead!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday to my dad! Not sure how to sum up someone like him. He gave me life. He supported, guided, protected, and loved. And now... he's a friend of mine. He loves others without reserve. Has a very hard time seeing faults in others (an incredible quality). Can't wait for his next trip to China. And discovered the fountain of youth years ago and keeps drinking from it. A laugh like no other. And a love for the Kingdom and those in lonely places.

Happy Birthday dear Dad! Have a great year.

psst: If you know him, please call. Write a little e-mail. Send a card. He'd love it!

Just because..

Talkin' Turkey

dig in!
hmmm. what is mom-in-law saying to mom?
kinda nice when the parents all like each other, eh?
standing room only!

* We survived! We were 36 all told. The earliest ones came by 10. The latest left right at 10...
* It was a lot of family and a few of our friends. But really, that line is very blurred.
* I'm thankful for the 'extra' turkey breast I threw in since Mr. 18-pounder didn't want to give up the fight very quickly.
* We had Too. Much. Food. Really. (urp)
* The kids had a blast. At one point I saw they had made a slide out of two adjoining mattresses and sliding from the ceiling to the floor in the basement. It looked simply dangerous. I got out quickly.
* Lisi hates days like yesterday because she spends most of it looking in from the outside. I needed to convince one family member that she doesn't really suffer... In fact, I disappeared at one point to take a walk.
* There was a definite color-scheme of dark reds yesterday for some reason (me included)
* Folks of Italian heritage can be loud. Really! And a lot of them though polite would have rather eaten spaghetti yesterday.
* I love turkey gravy. And this year my mom made it!
* I took about six pictures at the beginning of the day. And then for some reason I forgot. Busy you know. Did I say there were 36 here?

Now I'm off for some fun with more family! Think birthday cake and the "Nutcracker" and seeing some faraway family that I miss...

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Two's or too's?

Today I have two kinds of cold symptoms (sore throat and sneezing). Baked two kinds of cookies (Mexican wedding cakes and a oatmeal choc. chip), two batches of dinner rolls. Two walks with the dog. Two loads of laundry. And! Finished the last two chapters of "The Tale of Despereaux". Really a kids' book, but enjoyable nonetheless. Oh. And was on the phone two times. I think that sums that up.

A year ago tonight I went into the ER at 3:00 am for excruciating pain which turned out to be a kidney stone. This year I'm thankful for drinking lots more water and (HOPEFULLY!) not having a repeat performance on that.

Uber-cool wood stove fan came today via the free delivery of Amazon.com. It's little blades start whirling around once the stove reaches 300 degrees. No electric needed!

I'm so looking forward to the end of this week. We'll have a ton of people here on Thursday and for that we're thankful. Mostly relatives, but friends that feel like relatives too. It usually starts early and ends late.

And! Then I get to see some other VIP family members after that! Throw in a "Nutcracker" performance with the girls and... (happy sigh)

But first... I must be too busy. Doing too much. In too little time. Happy Thankfulness to you and yours...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Chairman's Favorite Granola

8 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick)
3 cups nuts (I used about 1 cup sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, and chopped pecans)
1/2 bag coconut
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup canola (or other kind) of oil
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup Craisens

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a large bowl mix the oats, nuts, coconut, wheat germ, brown
sugar, salt, and cinnamon. In a saucepan warm the oil and honey. Whisk in extracts.

Pour liquid over the oat mixture. Stir gently with spoon. Finish mixing with hands if you need to. Spread onto two 15X10 baking pans.

Bake 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Transfer granola to a rack to cool. Add the dried fruit if you want (I do 1/2 with the fruit, 1/2 without). Put in airtight containers or bags and enjoy!

(I told the Chairman that I had mentioned the granola on yesterday's post and he asked, 'did you tell them it was the best granola I've ever eaten?). Of course not! I'm (cough, ahem) too modest for that...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

* Sigh. It must be the weather. Or my mostly dull week. Or... ? But the best word that describe me right now is blasé. Being a 'housewife' can be really dull.

* Gearing up for a big turkey day next week! We expect 33 here around our table(s). That in itself should keep me from being blasé, right?

* My creative first daughter had leftover mashed potatoes for breakfast. She usually has come down to the counter in the morning dreading what was ahead for breakfast. Now I just give her leftovers and she's eating way more in the morning that she ever has. But it goes against every tried-and-true, dyed-in-the-wool feeling I have of what breakfast 'should' be.

* I've been doing an experiment this week. No computer for the kids unless it has to do with homework or games from their school's website. And guess what? They are happier! Less moody! Playing games! I struggle with knowing how much they should really 'play' on the computer. Usually they are a pile of cranks when their time is up. This experiment has been very telling to me.

* There are different ways to show a love and care for someone. Mine was represented in a big batch of homemade granola yesterday. I concocted several recipes together and... well... yum! It is way cheaper (and tastier!) to make it yourself than to buy.

* How do you other mom's (or brilliant minds that have a suggestion) handle allowances and chores around the house. The kids have basic responsibilities around the house (ie., put clean clothes away, take out garbage, help in kitchen), but I've not done a real 'chore chart' in a long time. Nor been great about giving allowance for jobs. What works??? Sometimes I feel so very new at this parenting thing... and I think the older the kids get, the less I know!

* Hoping the blasé leaves me and soon!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ugh. It was rough. Yuck. Ouch. But I better get some background to you first. Hi there all you dog and non-dog (gasp is this possible?) loving people out there. This is your ol' pal Lisi again. I usually like to tell stories about when I'm naughty. It is usually good for a laugh. It makes the big lady that yells but loves me anyway very tense. And crabby. But this time I worried her a lot.

You see yesterday afternoon the car came home early. Man I love that guy. He's big and he rarely yells. And he takes me for the best walks ever. We head out further than the big lady does (and she even sometimes yells on my walks!). He was saying something to the little people around here and then! They were scurrying to get jackets and shoes on! Really? He's going with them for a walk! And I get to go too! Lucky lucky me. And so we headed off for the woods. The big love able guy and the little people were playing hide and seek in the woods. It's great fun, but usually the little people yell at me when I go stand by them behind a tree. Hey! I like to play too you know! Then we kept walking through the crunchy leaves. I chased a couple of squirrels. And then we headed out by a big cornfield. The bigger little kid and the smaller little kid were throwing these yellow things up in the air and then it would rain down on us. I started to catch them with my tongue like I do snowflakes. Except I would swallow them. I did this for awhile and then they threw up a big thing and I ate that too. After awhile, we headed for home. Then I started to feel rumblies in my tumbly. Oh boy. I didn't feel good. We got back when the big lady did. She took one look at me and asked if something was wrong. The big guy that doesn't yell so much said I had been eating some corn. The big lady started to look worried and I started to feel sicker. She was busy in the kitchen. The big guy was busy with the little people and I felt sick. Like... I've got to throw up this instant and so I did. On a little rug. In just moments the big guy that doesn't yell was yelling. "OH NO! OH NO! LINDA!". The big lady comes over and looks and ushers me outside very quickly. For yuck. I felt terrible. Not because of the rug. Why you ask? Because I'm a dog and we don't give a lick about rugs or keeping them clean. I felt terrible because, well, I felt terrible. And so I puked a lot more times.

The big lady was looking anxious and worried. She was talking to the big guy and saying things like obstructed intestines (what in the dickens is that?). And so she would keep coming out into the garage and stare and me. Murmur sweet words of comfort (although I have no clue what they were). And pet me softly on my sore belly. She really loves me even though she yells. Then she left me there for the night. The big guy came out much later in the night to check on me. But you know what? I started to feel better.

And this morning? It was great. The big lady came rushing out to look at me again. She brought me rice and meat mixed together. She watched me to make sure I went potty (can't a girl get a little privacy around here?). And after I went I could tell she was happy (isn't that weird that someone would be so happy to see you do your business?). And then we went for a walk and I had a drink and I chased a ball and life is good again!

And so... I didn't learn my lesson. You see we dogs have brains that aren't big in cause and effect. So if you see me in a cornfield munching away, please stop me and try to remind me that I'm not a deer or a cow or a pig. And dogs shouldn't be doing that!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wed. without wonder

* Lisi got a new toy. This time without stuffing. Neat idea, eh? It's a buffalo with five squeakers. An early birthday present if you will... She's very happy.

* I found a tooth. Did some deep cleaning yesterday since the window cleaners were here. I'm not sure why. But I dug behind one hutch to wipe it down and out comes a tooth! Not just any tooth. One of my kids' teeth! That's something you don't find every day.

* The Chairman left for a bit over 24 hours and should be home tonight. It was a thrill to get a text picture last night of Times Square with an endearing message.

* Rayna's basketball team keeps winning. And I keep hooting and hollering like a crazy lady cheering from the stands.

* I've been quite riveted with a blog that is written by someone I don't even know. The baby has had heart trouble and it is so interesting to follow their journey.

* Since the Chairman was away, I allowed a child to sleep with me last night. As Jerry Seinfeld said once, it's like sleeping with a laundry bag with a live collie inside.

* Trevor has been telling me about "Honey Buns". I thought it was a term of endearment. Then he said he was trading (his perfectly healthy lunch choices I packed for him) for a "Honey Bun". So finally I ask what they are and he's describing it to me. Well at the store I see them. Lo and behold they are Little Debbie breakfast snacks. I scan the nutrition label, shudder, and then buy them to see a little kid smile big today. But... I doubt they are regulars in my shopping cart.
* And finally... how old is too old to have a security blanket? We're having issues. Or maybe not.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mundane Monday

* But I like them. It's quiet. I can get the house back in order. The laundry done and stacked in neat piles. And be ready for the chaos that erupts again in 7 hours.

* Trevor caught a big one! His good friend Denver came over on Friday and spent the night. Saturday afternoon I took them to 'the dam' a few minutes away. Told the boys to come get me if they need something. I settle in with the newspaper and quietness and 10 minutes later Denver walks up and says, 'you should come see the fish Trevor caught'. (insert heavy sigh... ok, sure) and there it was! A 29" northern! It caused quite a stir in the fishing world there at the pond. And the smile on T's face was great. I didn't have my camera and so there's no picture to share. Only the measurement that someone did for us.

* Rayna still wants non-breakfast food for breakfast. Today was a cold meatball left over from yesterday's spaghetti. T&M look at her like she's really disgusting. In fact, me too. But what is wrong with it? It's usually nutritious. And she's eating.

* Mira told me the other day that she loves homemade bread and toast so much that she's coming over every morning for breakfast no matter how old she gets. Um... why don't you learn how to make it yourself and then you don't have to come over? What's that saying about not giving them fish but teaching them how to fish?

* Windows are all getting washed in and out tomorrow and not by me! Maybe we'll have a brighter outlook!

* Is there any reason why I'm getting unsolicited e-mails from AARP?

* Are any of you brand-loyal to certain products? I seem to always buy Dawn dish soap. Or Cheer powder (because it's a great value from Sam's), or Pantene shampoo. Anyone have suggestions on the best... whatever?

* I kinda created a family favorite that is super-simple. Brown ground beef and add taco seasoning. Add either cooked regular rice, or add more water and throw in a half-cup or so of Minute rice. Also a drained can of kidney or black beans. And after that simmers a few minutes throw in about a cup of shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand). Let warm for about five minutes and serve with crushed tortilla chips and shredded lettuce, tomato, salsa on top. It's very easy and yum for our family.

* I better get a move on it or the chaos will be here before the jobs are done.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I see each day

Trying to do a self portrait. All I got was a juicy kiss.
Yes Lisi... that's better. But my eyes are buggy!
And we're off!
Pond #1
the path
Makes me think of SD...

this is "The Tree" where I peeked from behind watching Mr. Undertaker look for his body
Into the woods we go

Pretty in the dappled sun
They think the winter will be long!
I like this part
The leaves were so pretty and crunchy
The cornfield at the edge of the woods
A full-court basketball deal that converts to hockey come winter (nice, eh?)
Pond #2. Geese! The chase is on.
And they're off! Thanks to our swimming dog.
A 'friend' that watches us each day
Home again!

Most of you know I'm a walker... and since I'm not very original, I stole this idea from another blog. I took my camera today to show you what I see nearly every day. (I'm not nearly as good of a photographer, but oh well.) The weather changes daily. The seasons change. The smells. The wind. And I love it! I feel more relaxed once my walk is done.

And for all you dog-tolerant only people, sorry that Lisi is in so many of the shots. I tried to not have her in some, but that's what I see on the path. And for all you dog-lovers, I took some of her just for fun.

So sit back and enjoy the journey. I sure did!

The best choice in the Chairman

It was the best choice for me. And I think know the best choice for the Chairman. You see 15 years ago on this date, we vowed that we'd stick with each other for better or worse... as we walked life's pathway together (real words from our vows!). It feels like nearly a lifetime. And it feels like just a few years. We've been through the best, the worst, and a lot of ordinary days. And I am thankful I've had a Chairman at my side. Life is easier that way. You feel protected, loved, and respected. And me? I'm just the sidekick that feeds the flock, tidies up when it is messy, soothe some real and imaginary wounds, and be a helpmate to the one I love. Yes, it was the best choice. Lucky us.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Post Halloween...

* Again a huge highlight for the kids. We had two 'witches' and a paintball player.
* The weather was frightful. Cold with wind. I was happy to stay home and pass out our loot.
* Lisi wore her Halloween bandana. I can't find costumes for her size without spending too much. Plus she'd probably just chew it off anyway.
* Most the fun isn't really the candy. It is sorting the candy. By shapes, sizes, colors, types. Then trading the 'icky' stuff. Trying to make brownie points with mom and giving her Twix bars (thanks R. for the full size one!).
* Two friends came along with us. I think they'll have cavities to show for their efforts.
* The costumes this year overall were just average. The cutest to me was a 2-year old little Army boy.
* Because of large lots, a lot of parents drive their cars on their lawnmower tractors or pulling them in a wagon behind. There was even a decorated golf cart!
* They need to shorten the length of trick or treating. Ours is from 4-7 but it is really wrapped up by 6:30.
* Anything over two pieces makes me feel bloated. I'll try for three today.

And completely unrelated to Halloween. You see Lisi is a dreadful pack rat. She loves toys of any kind. Her favorite thing really is to drag out all the milk cartons from the recycle bin and chew them down flat. Her stuffed toys have no stuffing and then she drags them all over the yard. She has a fleece dog bed that ends up in the driveway most days. It would look like a garbage dump if we let her. And then there's bones. I buy round beef bones at the meat counter for cheap. Cook them awhile and freeze them and pull them out every once in awhile. More cost-effective than buying at the pet store. But then there's an assortment of bones in the yard. Bone-yard if you will. And so on Saturday, the Chairman is trying to clean up the yard. He gathers up all the bones and puts them in a plastic bin (on the garage floor). Then as he was telling me to stop giving her bones, Lisi is hauling them right back out into the yard behind the Chairman's back. Oh dear.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grim Reaper

They were really lucky people. About 1/2 mile from here I was walking and I hear a car coming up behind me. I reel Lisi in and then turn around and there is an elderly man driving a hearse in the adjacent subdivision. He pulls into the driveway directly across from the woods where I was intending to walk into. So I stop and peek around the tree and watch (for real!). The distinguished man gets out of the hearse. He's in a full suit looking all business. I know the people that live there. They're our age-group. I'm really wondering what happened. He walks around the back. Must have been knocking awhile. Then he comes around the front and then knocks on the door and then peers in the window. No answer.

Lucky them. The grim reaper came and they weren't home!!!

He then drove away slowly.

Strange... very strange.

This is a completely real story by the way... no Halloween joke this time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mundane Monday

A smile for you (stolen from FB)

It's just plain wet out there. Not raining really. Just wet in the air. And I like that! Really. It just feels good to me. Felt like I was walking today on the set of "Brigadoon".

Trevor's eyes are slowly getting better! His "lazy eye" isn't as lazy as it used to be. In fact, Dr. Specialist Lady today said he may be weaned off of glasses in the next couple years! Hooray!

I gave a huge lecture on proper toilet paper etiquette recently. Now instead of leaving the roll completely empty, the other residents at this location leave one square so they aren't blamed for it being empty. Luckily, the extra is usually within reach.

I'm using the crock pot like everything these days. I have some after-school conflicts where we walk in the door at mealtime. It's been nice! Any great recipes you love? Please?

Last night Mira walks into the living room and says, 'why did Grandma leave her shoes here?'. Um... Mira, those are mine. Really? They look like Grandma's. (Maybe they just naturally go with gray hair.)

Trick or treating is coming! I love the holiday. It was a great time when I was a kid. And I enjoy it now with our kids. And I enjoy raiding the stash the next school day too! Partial to Twix bars if you must know.

Duane and Trevor played paint ball last Saturday with a bunch of our friends. I got out there before it was done to enjoy the potluck with them all. And I got to wondering... I think I would like paint ball. So I bring it up and the Chairman seemed nervous about it. 'What if you get hurt? What if you twist an ankle? What if...'. So?! I'm limber. Agile. Can run like the dickens when I want. So... I still think I'd enjoy it. Except... can you talk while you're running through the woods?

Today I limited my computer time (thanks to some other bloggers promises). And I got a load done today. It felt good.

And finally paint. The former residents of our pad left all their paint behind that was used in this house. Sounds nice doesn't it. And it was. But we repainted nearly everything within and without. And so I've been staring at at least 16 gallons of unused paint. I can't throw it. The county says to add kitty litter and let it dry and then it'll go that way. So I've been busy in the basement making kitty litter pudding in some lovely colors. Yuck.

The kids are off two days this week. It'll be great. Sorta. Kinda. No really. It will be good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cute isn't overrated


Lets all face it. I'm cute. And please don't think for a moment it is the big lady that yells that's writing this. She's way too modest to write some self-promoting jargon like that. But I'm not! It's me. Lisi. I'm just adorable. Even (cough) show dog quality! Pinch me on the cheeks and give me some lovin' cute. And it usually works to get me out of awkward situations. Trouble if you will. In fact, the littlest one at this house says sometimes that she just can't help herself and gets off her chair and comes over to me and says, 'mom, she's such a cootie'. Ahh the life of a beauty.

But it wasn't enough. Not today let me tell you. You see the big lady that yells but loves me anyway was gone for a bit this morning. She brought home an orange round thing and put it on the front porch. And then she poked these little people by the sidewalk. They smelled interesting. Different. And chewable. I resisted. In fact, I appeared aloof. Fooled that big yelling lady I did. And so she glanced my way and muttered something (I have no clue what she said since my language capabilities are poor to fair at best). And the door closed! And I was alone... with them! My new friends! They were a billowing in the breeze and so I did what any curious pooch would do. I tasted the first one! Then well lets see I let my nature take hold of me and I had a party! A real party! With my new friends. It didn't last long and then they didn't look like they wanted to play anymore. And so the party was done. And my friends were all done-in too. So I headed off the garage. I had a weird feeling in my belly. Hmmm. Something just went down that wasn't good. But I hope my good looks carry me through.

The back door opens after a bit and there stands the big lady that yells but loves me anyway. She's saying 'you're SUCH a Lisi!' And... 'Mama's girl!'... and 'ready to go Sweetie?'. We're off for our walk in the rain! And she latches me up to my leash and heads out of the garage and then there comes this audible 'Oh no! LISI! What did you do?' I look up at her. Wag my tail slowly side to side. And then I felt tension. Like she was about to yell. And she did just a bit. Oh dear. I need to up the ante. Turn on the charm. And I did it. The brown eyes looked so sad. Deep sorrow. Remorse. (for what I have no clue... I just know the party was over with my new little friends.) And then she just lightly swatted me on the head and marched off to clean up the remains of my little friends. And that was that. The cuteness paid off. Again. I'm thinking next time she gets new little friends she won't leave me alone with them. But for now I'm glad I'm cute. Adorable. I think it'll take me a long ways in life.

Lucky 13

It really is. Lucky. At one point, it really didn't feel like it. Like so much that our hearts were breaking. And a little part of our hearts died 13 years ago. But we've learned to live with that little hole. We've built up scar tissue around it. But it is still a hole. And at times it sometimes aches. It overcomes us with grief to the point that tears just fall. But we're lucky.

On October 22, 1996 we suddenly became parents. It was approximately 3 months before we planned on it. Baby Amara came. We couldn't stop the birth even with the most valiant of efforts. And she struggled for life. For three days we watched her try to live. And then there wasn't much hope. Her brain was bleeding and a choice had to be made. She died in our arms. And she's lucky. She struggled only three days. She went back to her Creator without sin. And her soul is safe. She's lucky.

The Chairman and I suffered deeply. But more importantly, we suffered together. We were cautioned to be careful in allowing this to affect our marriage. And it did. The sadness drew us to hold, cherish, respect, and love each other. And because of that, we're lucky.

We went through other losses. Four to be exact. And then as most of you know, we were on a plane to China. Our second daughter was waiting there. She was the balm to an aching, gaping hole in our hearts. She needed us. But we needed her so much more. She is lucky. But we are more lucky. Lucky for healing. Lucky for the chance to be parents. Lucky to feel the love responded to. Another two months. Another gift through adoption. A perfectly healthy baby boy. A strong fellow. An independent one. A smart one. And he needed us. But we needed him. We needed a son. A brother. And he is lucky. But we are much more lucky. Then the gift of carrying a baby to term. She never would be a replacement. She couldn't be. But she had every right to work her way into our hearts. To allow us to experience yet another way of bringing a baby into the family. Healthy. Spunky. And a gift. She's lucky she hung on until she could live outside of the womb. And she's lucky for siblings.

And today, 13 years later, we count our blessings. Not in a general sense. One by one. Day by day. We always remember this day and always will. The thought of Amara makes us thankful. And sad. Very sad at times. And lucky. We wish we could have known her. Who she would have been. What she would have loved to do. Where she would have lived. Who she would have loved. But she's ahead of us. Waiting. And safe. And lucky. And so are we.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Falling thoughts

I should hate this weather. And the season. But somehow it isn't affecting me this year. I don't know why. But I've not been a fall season-type-person at all in my life. It was the foretaste of something nasty ahead. It might be because I'm scarred from living through a bunch of SD winters in my childhood. Those my friend aren't for sissies. I remember days on end blizzards followed by extreme below-zero temps. I'm not sure if it is still that way out there. Maybe they should be thankful for global warming (if there was such a thing). But anyway, I just returned from my usual walk. My (much older) sister sent me a website for an exercise place nearby here. I think she was trying to make a point. I didn't get the point. Other than those places scare me. She goes to 'class' a few times a week to stay in shape. I walk. Daily. Don't get me wrong. I'm a bit loose here and there. It comes from pregnancy and age. But I enjoy my walks. Today it was a rain/sleet mixture. In the low 40's. The dog is running free and happy. I'm alone with my thoughts and loving it. People look at me like I'm strange out in this weather. But if you're dressed for it, it's all good. Which leads me to fleece. What a great invention! I live in it. It is light. Warm. And mostly water repellent. I love it. And then there's those leaves. This is like a run-on paragraph, but I just can't bullet point again. My blog faithfuls would think it would be monotonous. The leaves. We watch them each year fall. But have you ever, ever seen the exact leaf you're looking at that very moment drop from a tree? I never have. I keep trying year after year after year to watch and watch and hope that at 'the moment' it releases from the tree and falls to the ground that I'll witness it. But I haven't. I think I'll go to my grave without the experience. But hey! It makes me look forward to fall. I put some fake gold/red leaves in the window boxes now. It looks festive and fall-like. But they're fake and that troubles me a bit. You see my Grandma Anderson hated fake flowers with a perfect hatred. I feel that way too. But it'll work this time. The house is all cozy and clean and smells nice. We've got guests coming. A gy-normous nephew dog. Remember last weekend? Yep. Lisi and Mavrick will be at it again. But this time in the confines of our backyard and not at a campsite. I wish you could tell dogs ahead of time what's about to happen. But really, they don't need to know do they. So back to work I go. Looking forward to family and friends coming this weekend. It's good. It's all good.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Camping isn't for Sissies...

my sweet niece and 'nephew'
The Chairman and I...
The fine MN couple
Discussing turkey tracks
The kids lined up
Don't jump Lisi!

A couple old ladies...
Pumpkin farm!

That's a silly quote from a PJ Funnybunny book. And I quoted it to the kids quite often the past weekend. We had a lovely time with some nice people. And it was mind-numbing, freeze your toes off cold quite chilly.

Lets see. I'm an engineer wanna-be, so bullet points just make more sense to me (hi Mel!). Anyway, here goes...

* Why in the dickens do people camp anyway? I love it. But really. We leave the comforts of home - bed, shower, full-sized kitchen, wall thermostat, and a comfy chair to go out into the elements. And that's fun? Yep. Don't ask me why.

* Actually I do know why. It is usually because of those you're with. It could be only immediate family. Or it could be with friends or relatives. But the chats around a campfire is bar-none like anything else. The art of conversation is spectacular when it has the backdrop of sparks, smoke that chases you around the circle, and warmth.

* I could tell you how cold it was, but most of you wouldn't care. Only those who experienced it. Shortly before I married the Chairman, I had this secret wish to go winter camping in Minnesota. I'm not sure why. But it sounded daring. Fun. And something great to share with others on how stupid brave you were to be out facing the elements. Well after this weekend, I think I did it. When it is in the low 20's at night, that's cold. I managed to stay warm with loads of bedding, a warm Chairman, and my winter coat tented above my head to sleep. It made it more adventurous. And we realized that camping really wasn't for sissies!

* We were with another family from another state. I only knew them by name. They had a couple of kids that fit in with our age-group perfectly and let me tell you. They were nice. Like really nice. Like never irritating nice. And brave. And strong. And funny. And nice. Real nice. I'm happy we shared the weekend with them and their very nice parents. And some other special people that I actually know a bit better.

* And you can see Lisi. She loves camping. Especially the deep grass at the edge of the campsite. It is ripe with little tidbits that people throw out with the dishwater. Yum. Old bacon grease to lick off the leaves. She behaved herself quite properly and has no story to share this time. But her 'cousin dog' came and let me tell you. They wrestled themselves into a stupor.

* We drove about 6 minutes to get to the shower this morning. You see they turned off most all the water because of freezing pipes. And so you go into this little room. You can see your breath very well. And then you are telling your body parts to take off all of your clothes in this frigid temperature and walk across the FREEZING tile floor and push the little silver button to have some luke-warm water come out and that'll make you feel all squeaky-go-to-meetin'-clean. My brain was screaming that this wasn't right and it took all my energy to muster courage to disrobe and face the dripping faucet. But I did and the meeting room didn't smell. And I want to just add on a side note that in the shower I was thinking of countless ones that are workers in other lands that face this experience on a daily basis... and it made me feel small for thinking it was a big deal today.

* And on a baser level... the outhouse had this eerie wind down below that cooled off the bottom side like nobody's business (even if you were trying to do some business). It was very inhibiting to say the least.

* And as we started to unload some of the basics tonight Rayna came up to me and said 'mom? I love camping. There really isn't anything better. Oh wait. Yes there is. Eating pickles is better. But then camping is next.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thoughts in the shower...

* I'm frugal. Most of my friends would attest to that. But maybe not the Chairman this month as he thinks the money is flying out the window. Usually it isn't. Anyhoo. I was at the store recently and purchased some 'shampoo for men' that was a bargain. I brought it home and set it on the shelf in our shower. He used it maybe once or twice. Then I could tell he wasn't. I asked. He said, 'it just feels cheap' and then added something about my nice shampoo that I get for myself. And so while showering I look at it. Goodness. It is probably just fine so I use it today. I smell nice and manly. Musky. I hope I don't attract any ladies in the grocery store aisle today.

* The wedding that keeps on giving. We attended a very special wedding on Saturday for a super-nice couple. The groom would be even nicer if he wasn't taking his bride far away from the midwest. But they're happy and that's what is important. But the wedding keeps on giving. I came across not one or two but 7 bottles of little bubbles that you are to blow at the bride and groom. I have a daughter that loves free things. And I might add that she comes by it honestly. Refer to the first two words of this post. Then... as I'm doing laundry this morning a party erupts as I'm throwing clothes into the washing machine. HEARTS! JUST MARRIED! PINK! Confetti... and lots of it is now all over my laundry room floor.

* I could also mention about the ride to the wedding. Duane has some 'miles to use up' on the car before turning it in on the 20th of this month. And so we are piling into the car and going to where we need to go. But we have three kids that in very close quarters tend to get obnoxious a bit crazy. They started out in pretty good spirits the first 5 seconds little while. And then it got louder and sillier. At one point I said, 'you girls better not be getting your hair all messy'. And then it got louder. The Chairman said to knock it off. Then a few minutes later I went on a bit of a tirade. And then it was silly as all get out and then... silence. Utter silence for about 3 seconds and immediately I know something is amiss. I turn around. Trevor is holding his glasses in two pieces. Rayna's hair is a disaster. And... I'm one irritated mom. Thank goodness for an extra 20 minutes built into our trip, a convenient Target store, and superglue. Some mentioned how cute the kids looked and how sweet our family was. If they only knew...

* Did I say how much I love our wood stove? We had some issues reckoned with last winter and now it heats up the house like nobody's business. I love when the kids get off the bus and smell the smoky smell outside they run right past me and sit in front of the stove. There's something about the cozy, penetrating warmth.

* Yesterday we had a special gathering and it made me so thankful that what my confidence in is really True. It has made me especially thankful today.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stoopid Cat

Yep. This is me again. The smart dog. Did I ever tell you about all the awards I've won? Lots of doggy classes. I'm considered a Canine Good Citizen. I also passed the test to be a therapy dog (but the big lady that yells but loves me anyway hasn't done anything about it). Can't for the life of me figure out why we spent all that time in boot camp working and working for the test and then sha-LA just like that. I'm just a regular alley mutt again. But the story isn't about me.

Yesterday, the big lady and me headed out on our walk. I'm loving fall. I heard her tell someone that she doesn't like fall, yet she smiles on our walk. Can't be all that bad. So we're walking along and getting closer to home when she says the magic word that puts me at full attention. She said under her breath...'get the kitty'. Now nothing makes me more excited and wild than hearing that. Whoooo-eeeee a cat to chase! And right across the yard was the feline waiting for something. It looked like it was trying to get a mouse and it had no idea that one of its lives were at stake. And so the chase began. I expected the cat to run around the house. Or better yet into a corner where I could (you know I have no idea what I'd do if I actually 'caught' the cat) get it! But no! In true sneaky cat fashion it ran up the stairs of its own deck. I was going so fast up the stairs after the cat that I fell. I lost sight of the rotten fur-bag getting back to my feet and then got up to the deck. I looked this way. I looked that way. WHERE IN THE BLAZES IS THAT ROTTEN BLACK CAT? I couldn't find him. I looked back at the big lady that yells but loves me anyway and she was whistling me back to her. I kept looking at her wondering if she knew where the cat went. She just kept calling me and that was that. The blasted thing disappeared on me! (Actually Lisi didn't know the cat just hopped up on the railing and was looking down at her the whole time.) And so I came downstairs and back to the big lady and she was muttering something about me not being so bright. Well listen here big bossy know-it-all lady that yells and sometimes loves, if it weren't for me you wouldn't have all those bragging rights or special awards stuck in the file cabinet.

So there you have it. I haven't been terribly naughty lately and so the stories aren't so interesting. But I thought you might want to know this anyway.


Friday Fact or Fiction

Well maybe just randomness...

* Today I saw a humongous hawk on one of the trees right out the front door. Uber-cool!

* And! A brilliant azure-blue bluebird went right in front of me on the walking path. Isn't that a sign of happiness?

* Nothing like some soft piano music (finally dug out my CD's and a cup of strong Tazo to boost the afternoon)

* Wedding bells will ring again tomorrow! I've known the bride since she was called 'Buzz'. She's blossomed into a radiant lovely person. We'll miss her.

* Speaking of weddings. Rayna said tonight, 'mom, when I get married, could you be the caterer for me?'. I was feeling all puffy and pleased that she likes my cooking and Mira says, 'Rayna, mom wouldn't be able to because by then she'll be too old'.

* Mira started piano. So far I like the teacher. And I like the super-expensive grand pianos sitting in the area where we wait for the kids.

* And Rayna is in a school basketball program. Every night for an hour+. She was totally exhausted last night and just needed to be held awhile. And... this mom really loved it. My babies are growing up, but they still love to be held.

* Thinking of painting a bathroom! One of the last rooms that hasn't had a transformation since we've come here. Hmmm. What to do... what to do...

* My mom got another good report today (she's fought cancer twice). I think the blessing in sickness is that when you are well, you are thankful. If you've never faced anything, you take it all for granted. I think there's a lesson here...

* Funny Lisi story coming...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pictures and a post

Look at this mom!
Still injured... not
Aaron Rodgers ... I mean Trevor before the run
boys will be boys...
getting soaked before the run

* Mira lost her first tooth. In true independent Debelak fashion, she pulled it out on her own at school. I yanked like the dickens tugged on it a bit that morning as it looked pretty loose and well being the tidy kind of person I am wanted it out. But it wouldn't budge. So Mira says to me, 'I'll pull it out today ok mom?'. Sure. And she came home with the biggest grin and a tooth necklace (and another sparkly bracelet from someone).

* Rayna lost yet another last week too. So the tooth fairy made two visits in two nights!

* Trevor participated in a 'cross country meet' for grade schoolers in this area. He ran a mile in pouring rain. It was fun to watch a bunch of squirrely boys 9-10 years old lined up in pouring rain ready to run. We were all soaked to the skin and after we ate we all piled up snuggling under cozy blankets.

* The love affair with crutches hasn't died after 2 solid months of listening to the 'click-click' (think nursing home walker sounds) in our house. I looked at her a couple days ago and asked how in the world she got her leg so fat to look like a cast. (It was 13 pairs of socks.)

* I am dealing with the aftermath of a cold. Pretty much done for except for really bad night coughing. I googled it and you know what I found? That you should put Vicks Vapor Rub on the bottoms of your feet, put on cotton socks and go to bed and you won't cough. I was skeptical at best. But tried it and you know, it works??? Weird. I got really hot feet too.

* We have wedding #4 coming this weekend. The couple is cute as can be. The day will be lovely I'm sure. And it'll be fun to be with a bunch of people we love again.

* I'm having a roadblock with meal ideas again. I want to do more fish/seafood, Asian, or even chicken dishes that are light and kid-friendly. Help!