Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This is my baby.  She's nothing but sweetness, and sugar. Yesterday she had a very bad day.  Her big brother went to his friend's house to play, and her big sister went to a fairy princess birthday party, and it was all so unfair to this four year old child. Not only did they take away her two bestest friends in the whole world, but she couldn't go along with them.  As Anne Shirley would say, she was "in the depths of despair".  My baby cried that she didn't have anyone to play with, and I melted.  I took her shopping with me and got her gummy bears and kool-aid bottles and let her sit up front in the truck, but it was a distant second place to having her siblings to play with.  She's lost without them!  The minute we went to pick them up, she was grinning from ear to ear and greeted them as if they had been apart for decades.  They even saved her some little trinkets from their adventures, which tells me that they were thinking about her too! I'm so glad that my kids love each other.  I hope that bond lasts forever.

Gone Fishin'

The men in my family have fishing on the brain. My husband's buddy has a little aluminum boat that's been sitting unused for years.  The guys went over to his house, rescued the boat, cleaned it up, and have been taking it out on the lake ever since.  Our boy thinks fishing is the funnest thing on earth right now, and has spent all of his lawn mowing money on fishing lures.  My husband gave him an old tackle box that was passed down from his grandfather, and I think it may be an antique.
It doesn't matter to my son, he just thinks it's cool to have a tackle box. Now he's on a mission to fill it with lures that catch the "big ones".  He also has one of my husband's old fishing poles, and a few hooks, lures and bobbers that he pillaged from my husband's tackle box.
I think I know what he'll be getting for his birthday.  Even though his supplies are slim pickins, he's caught trout, bass, catfish, and a sunfish with his meager beginnings.  Yesterday he loaded up his pole, and net into his backpack and did a whole lot of fishing with his best buddy across the lake.  There's nothing funner to a young boy than spending two summer days casting a line with a good friend.  I'm so glad he enjoys the simple pleasures in life.  I imagine boys have been "drowning worms" together for thousands of years, yet fishing never seems to go out of style. The peaceful quiet of the lake, the glass- like surface of the water, and the thought that the next cast could be the one that hooks a monster fish, keeps the guys motivated and makes the experience one worth repeating.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

As much as the kids enjoy irrigating, I think that our dogs are the ones that have the most fun.  If we tell them we're going to irrigate, they dart out to the truck and wait for us to get going.  Boone loves water more than a Labrador does, and when given the choice to walk on dry land, or straight up the middle of the irrigation ditch, he'll choose the ditch every time.

Chigger, on the other hand, prefers to stay dry.  So unless the temperature is above 100 degrees, he bounces over the irrigation ditches.

When the grass gets this tall, he has a hard time seeing where he's going, so he has to bounce through the pasture like Tigger.  This was the only shot I could get of him.  Usually all I see is the tip of his tail.  He depends on Boone, his trusty sidekick, to lead the way like a bulldozer clearing a path.  Poor little guy!

After Boone is good and wet, he finds something dead and stinky to roll in, and then he feels like a new dog!

Boone is pushing 14 years old, and is living the retired cowdog life.  His back legs just aren't what they used to be from years of leaping in and out of the back of the truck, and up and down hay bales.  Today, for the very first time, we had to help him get out of the irrigation ditch after a number of failed attempts.  It breaks my heart to see him getting older!

But as long as he's willing to go, we'll keep taking him along with us. We have to lift him in and out of the back of the truck, and I think it humiliates the poor guy.  He may be old, but he's still got his pride!  He'll be so crippled up tomorrow that he'll probably lay around the house all day, but a day of fun in the water is worth it! Just look at this Happy Dog!  Tonight his paws will move a mile a minute as he dreams about herding cattle and taking a swim in the irrigation ditch.

Another beautiful summer day on the mountain has come to an end.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Trip to the Torture Chair

I had my semi-annual teeth cleaning appointment today. I received my "cavity free" status on the chart and got high marks for gum health and superior brushing skills, but I still didn't enjoy the experience.  No amount of praise makes up for the torture I endure in the chair, and I've finally pin-pointed the reasons why the whole thing is humiliating.

1. As soon as I arrive, the hygienist puts a bib on me, and I feel like a 3 year old. Then she takes me for a "ride" in the chair.  That "ride" trick works on my 4 year old, but I'm too old to fall for it.

2. After I'm laying back in the chair, and feeling a bit vulnerable, she shines the "Interrogation Light" in my eyes and starts the questioning.

"Have you been brushing twice a day?"
"Yes." (I aced that one!)

"Are you flossing every day?"
(Awkward silence)
Uhhhhhh.... at least 3 or 4 days a week.....more if I eat corn on the cob."

Now I'm feeling like an inadequate flosser, and start to shrink down in the chair and the bib hits my chin.  I feel like I've confessed a grievous sin, and look to the hygienist for a little sympathy but I see nothing but a blank stare from behind the mask.  Then she scolds me. 

"Every other day is a good start, but ideally, you should be flossing daily."

"I'll be sure and put that on my 2011 New Year's Resolution List" I reply sarcastically.

3. Next she asks me to be her "helper" and run the suction instrument.  I don't want to be her "helper".  I pay good money for a teeth cleaning, and unless I'm getting some sort of discount for running the sucker, then I'd rather not.  But since she has the Interrogation light in my eyes and I'm wearing a bib, I don't feel empowered to fight, so I hold the hose.  Then I pretend to care when she shows me how to run it.

4. She begins to clean my teeth, and asks me open ended questions while she has two hands, a mirror, and a scraper in my mouth.  Hygienists should only ask questions that can be answered with a nod of the head when they are working on you.  She wants to know how my husband and I came to make the decision to home school our children.  Really???? Do you have an hour? This cannot be answered in the two second break that her fingers aren't shoved in my mouth. 

5. She gets polishing paste on my lips, and water squirts down the side of my mouth like drool and then she wipes it with a gauze the way I clean off my kids' faces after they eat Popsicles.

6.  After it's all said and done, she hands me a "goody bag" with a new toothbrush, travel sized toothpaste, and a thing of floss, like it's supposed to make up for everything bad that's been done to me.  I want to tell her that the floss is probably going to last me the full six months until I see her again, but instead I ask her for two.  She doesn't have to know that I'll use the other one to cut cinnamon roll dough into perfectly beautiful slices.  That will be my secret.  Hee He Heee. I consider it as payment for running the suction for her.

7. When I'm herded up to the front desk, the scheduler asks me what I'm doing on Wednesday, January 5th 2011 at 10 am.  Ummmmm.... I don't know.  I don't even know what I'm doing tomorrow, let alone what I'll be doing in 6 months.  "I guess I'll be coming here on January 5th.  It's a date!"

You know, I didn't even get to pick out of the treasure box, or get a sticker for having perfect teeth.  As soon as I got out of there, my husband called to see if I had any cavities, and I felt like I was 5 years old again.  "No, I didn't have a single cavity....does that mean you're going to take me to Dairy Queen as a reward?"

Monday, June 21, 2010

5 Random Things

1.  I've been leading and incredibly busy life the last few weeks, and I was feeling under the weather at the same time, which made me cranky, irritable and downright miserable. Because of the aforementioned 10,00 activities and simultaneous stomach flu, I fell behind in the following areas:
     A. Laundry- My son ran out of underwear.
     B. Facebook- I know nothing, I've written nothing. 
     C. Blogging- My mother has been cracking the whip about my "slacking".
     D. Pulling weeds- Give 'em an inch, they'll take the whole yard.  'Nuff said.

2. One of my 10,000 activities has included the editing of my brother's 4 billion page thesis paper for his Master's Degree.  I've poured my blood, sweat and tears into this paper and now know everything there is to know about Volunteer Leadership in Non- Profit Organizations.  I'm serious.....ask me anything.  I know it all!  He sends me chapters and then I rip them apart, slice and dice the sentences, and turn them into fabulous word pictures. This weekend, he decided to get me a little gift to say "Thanks".  Here's what he got me:

What we have here is a 150 ton, 2 feet tall cement cowboy boot planter.  I herniated a disc just moving it to the front porch.  Not everyone can pull off one of these planters.  You've got to have the right attitude about it or it will never work for you.  You have to have a certain level of confidence that says, "I can have a cement cowboy boot in my front yard, but you can't."  It's a little like having gnomes in your yard.  I have awesome friends with great looking gnomes on their porches, but some old people look ridiculous with a gnome in their rock gardens, and it  just looks like trailer trash.  You have to own the gnome, not just have it. It's all about the confidence factor.  If you're cool, you can sport anything on your front porch. 

3. We went down to the blistering hot valley to see our family this weekend, and I thought my flesh was going to melt off.  Why do we do this in the summer? I don't know. My kids had a ball swimming the days away, and getting spoiled rotten by my folks. I had the hugest flashback from childhood when one of my parents used the good ole' scotchbrite yellow and green sponge to wipe off the kids' faces after lunch.  I HATED the dreaded yellow sponge when I was growing up. It always smelled funky, and tasted even worse! My youngest has been out of diapers for 2 1/2 years now, but I still keep wet wipes on hand so that I can clean my kids faces with them.  I had to secretly laugh when they got the "old school" facial treatment.

4. My Dad is AWESOME, and he found four amazing galvanized buckets to give to me.  I just planted them today, and I'm debating on where or how to display them.  Here are a few pics of my treasures:

5. I snagged a metal John Wayne picture that my poor brother was going to have to put in a garage sale.  His bride- to- be is in the process of deciding what will stay in his house, and what will go once they get married.  So far, it looks like 97.4% of his stuff is in the garage sale pile. Poor guy.  Because I have no shame, I rescued "The Duke" from his horrid fate, and he will be hanging on a wall in my home very soon.  Who doesn't like The Duke??
Thanks for letting me share a few of my new treasures with y'all.  (No, I'm not from Texas, but I wish I was so I could have big hair and say "y'all" and "sugar bean" every 2 minutes.) 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Day for the Gals

Today was a day for the ladies. My mom and I got to spend the entire afternoon having fun together.   First we went to a bridal shower for my future sister- in- Law and had a ball watching her open gifts for her new home.  I really think that all wives need to have a shower every 10- 20 years so we can update all of the housewares that are worn-out, out of style, or broken. Can I get an Amen, sisters?  I'd like some new linens and my mom needs new dishes.  Yellow daisy print went out of style many years ago.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Now I realize that a few of the items I registered for ten years ago were frivolous, while there were other items that I desperately needed and didn't know it yet.  I think every wife's registry would change dramatically with ten years of on- the- job experience under our belts.   

Here's a picture of me, my sister- in- law to be, and my mother at the shower.

Here's a dog at the shower that my mom fell in love with and wanted to keep forever.

Here's one of my signature self portraits that my mom and I do on occasion.  Not bad!

The Bridal shower had a few games to play, and let's just say that I didn't bring my "A" game today.   We had to guess how many candies were in the jar, and I haphazardly scribbled down an answer in the thousands......the three thousands to be exact.  The answer was five hundred and something.  I was WAY off!  What in the world was I thinking?  I think someone spiked the iced tea or something. Then I bombed a "How Well do you know the Bride" test.  I can see that I'm going to have to start forwarding her those "Twenty Questions" e-mails that I get sometimes. I mean, it's the only real way to get to know people on a deeper level, right?  Ha Ha. Just kidding.  I'm going to generate a "How well do you know Nell" test, and see how many she gets right.  Besides, squeezing information out of my brother is like trying to get info from an FBI agent.  He's way too tight lipped. So we may have embarrassed him a time or two with sensitive information, but is that really any reason to kick us out of the loop???  All in all, it was a great day to imagine  what my brother's new life will look like in a few months, and I'm excited to get to add a sister to the "Circle of Trust".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Feeling Crafty?

This weekend I'll be attending a Bridal Shower for my Sister-in-Law to be, and I'm so excited!  We got her a gift from the registry, but in addition to her main present, I wanted to make her something a little bit special from me.  Here's what I came up with.  I bought her a cookie dough scoop, which is one of my most favorite kitchen gadgets.  It makes every cookie round and uniform in size, and I love it!  Then I found a little wedding gown to slip over the top of it for $1.00!  I couldn't get her a cookie dough scoop without any recipes to use it with, so I decided to make her a scrappy little "Cookie Recipe" book with some of our family's favorite cookie recipes in it.

It's not quite finished, but you'll get the idea.  I just have to embellish it a little more to glam it up a bit!
Every page is completely different, using a hodge podge of scrap papers and things from my button jar.

I typed up each recipe small enough to fit on a 3X5 card.

It's a personalized little gift that she can tuck away with her other cookbooks. I hope she likes it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tales from VBS

This week is Vacation Bible School at church, and my kids are all revved up to go each morning.  It's not because of the songs, or the games, or the awards, although they do enjoy those things.  It's mainly because of the cafeteria food.  I know, I know, I can't believe it either.  But it's true!  You see, my kiddos are home schooled, so they have never experienced having cafeteria style lunches before.  You and I probably have dreaded memories of the cafeteria, after eating in them for 12 years, but to a kid who gets lunches hot and ready at home every day, the cafeteria is a novel experience.
Chips come in a little bag, not a pile on the plate, and milk comes in a little carton, not a boring old cup like it does at home.  Even the ketchup, and mayo comes in little packets.  The kids are LOVING it!  Their breakfast bagels and cereal come in plastic packaging too.  Who cares if the stuff tastes like rubber tires... evidently it's just cool to open all the packages.
When I grew up, the cafeteria was a place to scarf food down at rocket speed, so you could spend as much time as possible playing on the playground.  Not for home schooled kids.  They take their time, talk to their buddies, and enjoy the whole experience.  They're in no hurry at all to finish lunch.

Especially not this one.  She's savoring every morsel of her barbecued potato chips from the bag.  She also tried to put other people's unused milk cartons in her backpack to take home for later.  She thinks they're cool!

I try so hard to make delicious homemade lunches with fresh bread, warm cookies, and cold fruit, but in the end, all my kids really want is the stuff with cool packaging.  Go figure.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chocolate Eclair Dessert

It's summer, and even in our mountain climate, we have days when it's hot.  OK, it's hot for like a month, but who's counting?  Anyway, after my husband comes home from a long day working outside, he gives me the evil eye if I heat the house up with the oven.   So, I've compiled several "summer" dessert recipes that get us through those hot days.

This Chocolate Eclair Dessert is easy to make and delicious!  I have to tell you a micro-short story about it.  Want to hear it? Here it goes: Once upon a time, I made this dessert for my parents when they came to visit.  My Mom and I both secretly knew it had cream cheese in the recipe, but we didn't tell my cream cheese hating dad.  You can't even taste the cream cheese in the recipe.  He served himself seconds, and then thirds, and it was safe to say that he enjoyed the dessert.  Afterward, my mom and I giggled about the fact that my dad unknowingly ingested his most hated food.  Then, the worst thing happened.  I felt guilty.  I felt soooo guilty that I had lied to my dad about the cream cheese, that I had to fess up.  I confessed my sin of serving cream cheese, and now my dad can't ever trust me again.  Every time I make a dessert, he asks if there's any cream cheese in it.  It's all a mental thing with him.  If he doesn't know the cream cheese is there, he can enjoy the dessert, but if he has even an inkling of suspicion about it, he will pass up the dessert, and miss out on one of the best ingredients the Good Lord has ever created.  The End.

Recipe below:

First, spray a 9X13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Then put down a layer of graham crackers, (7 1/2 graham cracker sheets, if you're a perfectionist)

Next, make the filling with vanilla pudding, milk, cream cheese and cool whip.

You can lick the beater, I give you permission. :)

Next, layer half of the filling on top of the graham crackers.

Then add another 7 1/2 sheets of graham crackers over the top.

Now repeat with the other half of the filling, and another layer of graham crackers.

Now, mix up the chocolate glaze, and smooth it over the top of the graham crackers.  YUM!
My generic graham crackers were warped, that's the reason for the uneven look, but I assure you, it does not affect the taste! Now, the great thing about this dessert is that you can fix it ahead of time, and leave it in the refrigerator until dessert.  In fact, it's best when it has at least 4 hours to set up. It also lets the graham crackers get nice and soft.  It really does taste like an eclair.  I'm making this one for a dinner we're attending tonight, so I can't take a picture of a piece of it, but it's lovely inside.

Chocolate Eclair Dessert
1 box of honey graham crackers, divided (22 1/2 sheets)
3 cups milk
2 (3.4oz) packages Vanilla instant pudding mix
1 (8oz) cream cheese
1(8oz) cool whip thawed
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons margarine softened
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Arrange 7 1/2 graham cracker sheets in bottom of a 13X9 inch baking dish coated in cooking spray. 

Combine 3 cups milk, pudding mix, and cream cheese. Beat until thick.  Fold in the cool whip.
Spread 1/2 the filling over the crackers.  Top it with another layer of graham crackers.  Then spread the other half of the filling and top with another layer of graham crackers.

Combine 1/4 cup milk, margarine, honey, and chocolate in a small bowl.  Beat until well blended.  Add powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture and beat again.  Spread the glaze over the graham crackers.  Cover the dessert with foil and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.  Serves 18.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." -Unknown

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Milestone

Well it's official. My eight year old son can wear my boots. *sob*sob *sniffle.  I can't believe it.  My husband says it's a big milestone in the life of a boy when his feet are as big as his mom's.  I was just hoping that it would be a few more years before that was the case.  After all, I don't have small feet. The other day I told my boy to take out the trash, and he slipped on my flip flops. They fit him perfectly, but I didn't say anything to him about it at the time.  Later, he came into the kitchen complaining that his boots were too small to wear. 

On a side note: I have this theory that when kids run around barefoot all summer, their feet grow several sizes.  In the Spring everything fits, and then the rare occasion in Summer when the kids have to wear "real shoes", they all complain that their shoes are too small.  Three months of bare feet makes those little toes really stretch out.

We had to do some work in the pasture that day, and he needed boots.  I didn't have an extra hundred bucks laying around, and I figured that his feet would continue to grow this summer, so I did the next best thing.  I dug in the back of my closet, and got out an old pair of work boots that I haven't worn in years. They didn't make women's work boots a few years back, so they were in a men's size and style.  And by-golly, they fit him.  I don't know whether to laugh about how big his feet are, or cry about how fast he's growing.  Maybe I'll do both.
He's got another 6 sizes to grow before he fits into his dad's boots, but at this rate, he'll reach that milestone in the blink of an eye.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Irrigation Day

Yesterday afternoon I brought the camera with me while we went to irrigate.  Our pastures are really starting to green up now that the temperatures have risen.

Our kids love to help irrigate because it involves water.  They are magnetized to any activity that involves getting wet or muddy. Here's one of our head gates where the water flows from the ditch to our pasture.

Notice how our son has caught several crawdads within minutes of arriving to the ditch.

The area right behind our check board is the supremo spot for catching monster crawdads!

Here's our girl pulling in another crawdad trap to check it.  Irrigation ensures a full day of nonstop entertainment for kids.

My baby helping Daddy unclog pipes in the ditch with her stick.  Doesn't the grass look luscious?  It's ready for us to put cows out on it to graze.

Here's another view.

The kids looked so cute on the corral fence that I had to take their picture!

The End.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wrestling with Discontentment

I try really hard to stay focused on the wonderful things in my life, but I have to tell you that I struggle just like everyone else in this area.  In the interest of "keepin' it real" with you, my loyal readers, I've decided to share my own little battle with discontentment.  I've had a case of the "wants" lately.  It slowly crept in this time and I didn't put out the spark.  Now, because I let it get out of hand, it's turned into a raging inferno of restless dissatisfaction. It makes me itch all over just thinking about it!

It started with an old toilet seat in the guest bathroom.  We had an oak seat that was showing it's age, and starting to peel up.  The thought of splinters in some one's hiney made this repair high on the priority list.  We took a trip to Lowe's to buy a new one.  When we walked down the bathroom aisle I saw all of the beautiful new fixtures on the shelves.  I impulsively decided the whole bathroom needed to be remodeled.  New sink, new shower, new paint, new mirror, new towels, new rugs....  nothing we had was good enough any more.  I thought we walked out of there with only a toilet seat, but we ended up catching an illness there too.  We got a bad case of the  "I want"s.

We went home and suddenly the whole house seemed unfit to live in.  Everything needed remodeling, and it all looked horrible to me.  The next morning I decided that the house was too small.  I felt like I was the only one in the universe that didn't have a room dedicated for the sole purpose of home schooling.  My kids do their work at the kitchen table. Our computer is in our laundry room. I brought this up to my husband when he got home.  "This house is too small! I need a home school room!"  Then he did something  horrible.  He agreed with me.  This was a bad sign.  You see, my husband and I have a system worked out.  Whenever one of us starts to complain about things, the other person reminds the complainer about all of the blessings we have in life, and how we really have nothing to grumble about.  We talk each other off the ledge, so to speak.  But on the rare occasion that both of us is feeling less than grateful, things go south quickly.

This time it's been pretty bad.  My husband immediately started complaining that we didn't have enough land or cattle.  We didn't have a big enough garden for his corn, or a big enough garage for his needs.  Our trucks were too old or too tall. This went on and on until a half an hour later, he was talking about moving to Texas!  The whole thing spirals out of control so quickly!  What do you do when both of you are in a pit of dissatisfaction without a ladder to climb out?  Glad you asked.  Thankfully, God throws us a rope when this happens, all we have to do is look up.

This time God was the one to remind us of our blessings.  He did it through every single thing I've read in the past few days.  Don't you hate it when you get the "blaring sirens" and "honking horns" messages. O.K. God, you've got my attention!  I feel like He spanked me this week. In this book I'm reading called "Crazy Love" I was reminded of a few things:

53 percent of the world lives on less than $2.00 a day. 

If your family makes a salary of $48,000 a year, you make 100 times more than the average person on the planet. GULP.

We have nothing to complain about!

Sometimes God does instill in us a desire to make changes, and that's OK.  We just have to discern our motives to know whether they are selfish, or from God.  That's tough for me to do.  Does God want our family to move, or do I want our family to move?  Does God want us to have a home school room, or do I want us to have a home school room? I know one thing for certain.  I do not want to be out of the center of God's will for my life.  It's scary out there!

God also taught me another lesson through the reading of John Acuff's blog.  He normally writes funny stuff, but his last post hit me like a ton of bricks.  He said that often times, we let Jesus "take the wheel" of our life, but we want to control the gas pedal.  That is me!!  God, you may steer me in paths of righteousness, but could you please hurry up?? I'd like to think that God wants to bless our family with a huge spread of land and a bigger house, and I'd like to think that He wants to do it soon. Very soon....like, put the pedal to the metal soon!!! After all, it's been 10 years already.  But God may not want that for us, or He may want us to move very slowly, to teach us some kind of lesson.  FYI.... I have NOT prayed for the "P" word...... "patience".  All seasoned Christians know that you NEVER pray for patience.  That's a rookie mistake.  When people pray for patience in Bible Study, we chuckle and say, "She must be a new believer!"  If you pray for patience, it will jinx you, and who has time for patience anyway???That's why I don't like to give God the gas pedal.  What if His will is for us to drive 26 MPH in a 45 MPH zone?  What if He wants to teach me the "P" word....(don't say it or it might happen)?  Can I handle that?  Will that be alright with me?  It's going to have to be if I want God's best for my life.  I've tried out what Nell wants, and believe me, what God wants is always better than what Nell wants. 

So I guess that I'll hand over the gas pedal along with the steering wheel of my life, and try to live in that sweet spot of contentment until God says GO!  But if He wants to give us a bigger house and more land next week , I'm not going to turn Him down. ;)  Perhaps a new coat of paint and fresh linens in the guest bathroom is all that God wants for this homemaker today.  That's OK too.  We really do lead an incredibly blessed life, and I'm ashamed that some times I lose sight of that fact.

Wordless Wednesday