Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby Brother!

My baby brother is turning 30 today. That makes my 31 feel much older for some reason. It is ALMOST as disturbing as my son being 11! It's just not right all this time flying that life seems to pull on you.

This is us when we were around 7 and 8. Doesn't Austin look like Nathan? We were pretty close. Homeschooling gave us ONE option of playmate most days. LOL! We got along for the most part. I was the classic, bossy older sister and he was the sensitive youngest brother. I was always so happy to be half an inch taller. Nathan had, however, outweighed me since I was 2. So much for my delusions of being bigger.

Poor kid grew like CRAZY. Here he is at 10 and 14.

By the time he was 12 he was nearing 6' tall. That made him bigger than me by a good 6 inches. Nooooooooo! Sigh. Like most teenage siblings we faught. We didn't fight a lot, but when we did fight... YIKES. I had a sharp mouth and he had a hard fist. LOL!

Here he is with the lovely Delores at the beach last fall. They were new parents in this picture. Hard to believe isn't it? They look so great! Of course part of that has to do with my nephew being perfect... :o)

It's hard to believe we are all grown up with kids (well, I have most of them - LOL) and that he is a grown man. Seems like just a few months ago that we were arguing over whether a standard bag of chips was a "serving". LOL!

I just have to mention that he also looks a lot like Jayne Cobb. Maybe I'll get him a cunning hat for this birthday...

Happy Birthday Nathan! I love you baby brother!

Friday, May 29, 2009

School's Out!

Well school is kind of out. We never really stop school. We have taken the week off from Saxon Math for Austin and I haven't been asking them to write things down, but we are still full force learning. Strange how that happens even when you don't push it. They have been practicing piano again, Griffin has been exploring seeds/blossoms/food and Austin has picked up a couple of new book series (Mark Twain and City of Ember). I have been working on my violin again and dusting off my Japanese CDs. It helps them to see me struggling to learn something new. They have also been forced to listen to Revolutionary Characters with me in the car. LOL! Learning isn't just for school, it IS life.

Today was a nice quiet day. I learned that WD40 will get glue trap glue out of your washer, but nothing gets it off your clothes. There was also a nice moment of - "Hey, my laundry only took 5 minutes to put away!" That was a nice reality check since I hate doing that for other people. I also toured around Moulton rather than through it and discovered that it is a really lovely little town.

Mom had a trip to the Doctor's office in Moulton and I got to see Thomas for the first time in FOREVER. However, I did not get introduced to Glair. Pout. Mom and I took the boys for lunch at Captain Dave's in the downtown area where we feasted on steak, burgers and... corndogs. Yum. I'm sure I'll miss the cheap eats some day, but for now I worry about their taste. Corndogs over fried shrimp? Really?

I have been spending time this week complaining to anyone patient enough to listen, that we haven't done anything denoting SUMMER yet this year except cook out. We haven't been swimming, we haven't camped out, we haven't had a water balloon fight followed by Popsicles... Nada. It has just been too cold this year. Even now it is a grayish color outside and any hint of a breeze makes it seem almost chilly. I'm not wishing for a Texas summer - no thanks! - but warm enough to get IN the water would be good. We have two swim parties scheduled in the next two days so wish us luck (and warmth) as we plunge into the summer season.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Weekend

We've had a wild week or so. Lots of running around. Austin and I spent the day together in Huntsville, we had errand day, we hosted a tadpole rescue and time with Mom while she is off.

This weekend we weren't sure what we wanted to do. I put Lou in charge of the schedule (eep) and he didn't schedule a thing. Hmm. Funny how we can still fill the time. We opened the pool up. Ew. The frogs had gotten under the cover and the pool is really green. No big deal, it's nothing some shock won't fix - but wait! - someone has lost two parts to the pump. Sigh. Project left half done. I was still really wound up so I cleaned out the broom closet in an attempt to find said missing parts. I took everything out and thought, "Man it would be nice to fit everything back in there." So off to Lowe's I went with a plan in mind. $25 later I have a peg board system installed and my vacuum fits again. Yea!

I finished off the evening with date night with Lou. I got take out and we watched Yes Man (now a favorite) and Northanger Abbey while folding two loads of laundry. Are you thrilled yet? LOL!

Today was my parent's 35 anniversary so after church we all went to Logan's to celebrate. We laughed and joked and the boys were so funny. Today was also decoration Sunday at Oakridge. Since Lou's Mother and both sets of grandparents are buried there we took the boys to see the graves and Lou's Dad was waiting for us there. We headed back to Mom's and got to play with Tristan for a little while.

The boys were really excited about Night at the Museum 2 coming out this weekend, so we used our Fandago bucks from their birthdays to see it this evening. It wasn't as good as the first, but still funny. At supper, Austin was sitting at the table with his orange soda. He would take a sip then slap his own face saying, "I shouldn't drink this!" Carson smirks and says, "So I drink it [drinks} and then I say... [then slaps AUSTIN'S face] I shouldn't drink this! HAHAHA!" I just about died laughing.

Tomorrow is more of the same. Cooking out at my parents' and then shopping with Mom. Sigh. I wish everyone else could be home all the time too. :o)

Friday, May 15, 2009


Latkes are a new favorite at our house. Think heartier hash browns with a light herb flavor. Yum. I know you want to try them too and since I have the book checked out, here is the recipe:

3 large potatoes (about one pound)
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 Tbs flour

Peel potatoes and rinse in cold water. Grate very fine. Place in colander and run cold water over them to keep from turning dark. Using your hands squeeze out all the water.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the onion, parsley, salt pepper, and flour. Stir Add grated potatoes and mix well.

Heat a small amount of oil to sizzling in a large frying pan. Drop pancake mixture by the soupspoonful in to the oil and flatten slightly. Cook until golden brown underneath, turn and cook on the other side till golden brown.

Eat while still tender but crisp! Latkes are traditionally served with applesauce or sour cream.

The boys and I have REALLY enjoyed our study on food and nutrition. It's really fun to try new things and it gives me something new to do in the kitchen. Has it been messier than usual? Yes. Did it sometimes take longer than I would have liked? Yes. Was it worth it? Definitely! I think we have several new things to add to our "regulars" list.

My favorite part of the week? Grocery shopping. No I haven't lost my mind! While we were at Publix looking for all our sushi ingredients, the two Asians that make their sushi were working at rolling up the Makizushi (rolled sushi) where anyone could watch. Griffin was absolutely delighted! He ran up to the counter yelling, "Yeah! Suuuushi!!!" The two of them started clapping and jumping up and down with him yelling "Suuuuushi!!" too. LOL! I guess they don't have many five year old fans! Priceless!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Weekly Menu - by 3 boys

This week for school the boys and I are talking about cooking and nutrition. I include myself because I have NO idea how to make most of these things. When we went to the library this week I cleaned them out of story books about food. Here is a picture of tonight's supper:

Hoecakes - George Washington's Breakfast by Jean Fritz
Beans and Rice - Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley
Sushi - Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Panakacakes - The Star Wars Cookbook II by Frankie Frankeny
Latkes - Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat by Naomi Howland
Scorpions for Tea time - The Fear Factor Cookbook by Bev Bennett
Roasted Chicken, Carrots, Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce

Cereal (With the Star Trek toy :oP)
Darth Maul Double Dogs - The Star Wars Cookbook II by Frankie Frankeny
Sushi for Tea time - Halmoni and the Picnic by Sook Nyul Choi
Bar-b-que with Ashely and Elliot

Bacon and French Toast
Pokemon Mac and Cheese with Hot dog "Powerballs" and Salad People - Salad People by Mollie Katzen
Wildflower Tea - book by the same name by Ethel Pochocki
served with Ginger Teddy Bears at a picnic - The Totally Tea-Rific Tea Party Book by Tanya Napier
Burgers and Bubble City Salad - The Star Wars Cookbook II by Frankie Frankeny

Small groups
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Darth Maul Dip (modified - we are just using Humus with the stencil) - The Star Wars Cookbook II by Frankie Frankeny
Brownies and IceCream for Tea time
Homemade Mac and Cheese (TBA for me)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mom's Butterfly

If you live in Decatur I'm sure you've noticed their latest gimmick: iron butterflies. Oh yes. We can NOT be different from Nashville, New York City, or even Naperville. IL which I hear has dragons. Decatur has put up butterflies painted by local artist who donated their time and sponsored by local businesses. I think it's a racket, but it's a pretty one. So anyway, here is my Mom's beautiful work:

I you want to see it for yourself - and I KNOW you do - it can be found at the corner of Jackson and 8th.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Baby Kitten Needs Good Home!

People are forever dumping kittens on Bud Weaver Road near my parents' house. For years we have stopped and picked up baby animals to take to the pound or find good homes. That is even where we got Wiskers the Wonder Cat, so it was no big surprise to find out that my dad had pick up yet another kitten. The sad part was that this time the kitten was SO tiny. With the flooding in that area we think she was the first to be pulled out of the woods and none of the rest of her littler made it. This little Manx gal weighs less than a pound. Her eyes are open (pretty blue) and she's is walking, but she is still a bottle baby and too little to clean herself up so she needs a full time "mommy" for a couple more weeks. Lou and Griffin are both very allergic to cats (which is why Wiskers is OUTside) and will break out from just touching them. Mom would like to keep her, but with the guys allergies she would have to put the baby outside with the dogs and her's have already tried to kill the kitten twice. Lucy, as the boys have dubbed her, is a dear little baby that needs a good forever home. If you think you or a friend would be interesting in a keeping her, please contact me and let me know! The boys just LOVE her and would love to have a friend take her!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers I Miss Today...

I have had a wonderful, blessed Mother's Day today, but I can't help missing the moms in my life that are gone.

Esther Anderson was an amazing woman. My grandmother raised six kids without many of the modern conveniences most moms have today, on less money than one would think possible, and with a husband that was one of the orneriest people I have ever known. Don't get me wrong, Grandpa was a wonderful man, but he had a bad habit of throwing himself into things - like new cars or businesses on a whim. Grandma never complained. Thinking back I can remember at least 3 new cars that just showed up at the house. She would sigh and roll her eyes, but never fussed or complained. She mowed the yard. This seemed like no big deal until I was a teenager and realized what a sacrifice that was when paired with her severe sun allergy. I never saw her mow in anything less that long pants, long sleeves and a BIG hat to prevent the rash she would get if she got too much sun. When my family moved to Alabama, my Grandma and I started writing each other letters. Not lots, but several a year. She NEVER forgot my birthday. I got $5 in my card until I was 23. She asked me once if it was silly, but I assured her that I used those $5 to use on a mom's night out - coffee and a new book. It was one of my few splurges while Lou was in school. That year Grandma, Mom, Aunt Kathy and I went on a trip to the Mennonite Relief Sale in Kidron, Ohio where Grandma donated 3 quilts to auction. They brought in more than $2500. One sold to a second time customer who had come to buy another work of her art. During my time with her that week, we took my boys to get ice cream every day. She passed away suddenly the next month. I still think of her everyday. I only hope that someday I can be half the role model that she was for me.

Most people think of a mother in law with fear or loathing. I can honestly say that I was friends with mine. For two years we laughed and had a great time together. When Lou and I were first dating he mentioned how big of a deal it was that we spent time at HIS house. DeRoma would answer the phone when I called and sometime in the next hour we would stop talking long enough for me to chat with Lou too. Lou has told me a story about how a few weeks into our "officially dating", his mom asked him flat out, "Can I get attached this this one?" He didn't have much choice. DeRoma and I were soon making out own dates. When hunting season started she called to see if I wanted to come over for pizza and tv time. Lou was invited too. LOL! We had a blast. When I got pregnant, everyone was doom and gloom. Most of all me. De started purchasing baby stuff within the week. She was SO excited. I never got a chance to tell her how much it meant for SOMEONE to be happy about the baby. When Austin was born she started making plans to keep him. We discussed the possibly of my going back to school and we had decided that fall semester would be a good trial. DeRoma died in August. I still tease Lou like I did when we were dating with a winking, "I only dated/married you for your Mom." I don't think he has ever minded. He understands just like anyone who was lucky enough to know her.

Happy Mother's Day to all my favorite moms, here and in the beyond.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Healthier Fried Potatoes (and a survey)

While we were chatting at Esther's the other day, the subject of fries came up. (Hey, we are a bunch of women sitting around snacking the day away... Food is a big topic!) I explained my home fried potatoes and Karen said I should really post that so she could find it again. LOL! Okay Karen, here it is:

4-6 potatoes
1 onion, size depends on how much you like fried onions
3 Tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (As always, I love Carapelli)

Start heating the EVOO in a large, deep skillet on medium heat. Slice the onion and toss the rings into the pan. Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices and start tossing them in there as you go. By the time you are finished the onions will need to be stirred, so, using a spatula, flip it all over. There is no real art to this. We are just trying to keep it from overcooking in spots and trying not to toss them all out of the pan while we flip. ;o) Cover them up and let them continue to cook themselves for about 15 - 20 minutes, checking and flipping them every 5 minutes or so. If you are getting some burning on the bottom, just turn it down a bit and flip a little more often. You will know that they are ready when you can easily cut through a potato slice with the spatula. Serve hot with salt and enjoy!

And now for something completely different; a survey I swiped from Gina, who swiped it from Laura. Ha! I'm like the Hamburgler...

1 How old is your child/children? 11 and 8 and 5
2 Girl(s) or Boy(s)? BOYS
3 Bottle fed or breast fed? Breast mostly
4 Are there more children in your future? Not the old fashioned way...
5 Do you stay at home with your kid(s)? No, we mostly run around.
6 Bedtime (kids not you!): 8:30 for G. A and C are allowed to stay up until 9:30 or so reading.
7 Where do your kids go to school/daycare? Home
8 Would you ever homeschool? I have for the last 5 years. I love it 95% of the time! The other 5% I'm pretty sure I'd be getting called into school for anyway...
9 Do you like their school/daycare? Well, the world is a pretty awesome place. (I loved this one Gina, so I stole it too!)
10 Is college important…will you insist that your child go? Not if what they want to do doesn't require it. We graduate too many people from college who have NO idea what they WANT to do.
11 Favorite time of the day: Early morning, when they are just waking up and want some Mommy cuddles.
12 Favorite food: A - "Depends on what meal... bacon, ramen noodles, and lasagna", C - "Mac and Cheese, Shrimp", G "Me too! Mac and cheese and shrimp!" But not together! Bleh.
13 Kid’s favorite happy meal: Austin likes the bacon cheese burger meal or Big Mac (hasn't eaten a kids meal in YEARS), Carson is Chicken fingers with sweet and sour sauce, fries with ranch dip and Chocolate milk (why that child is 50 lbs is beyond me), Griffin is my wild card. His usual is Cheeseburger plain with apple dippers and chocolate milk, but you NEVER know...
14 Do you eat organic? We usually eat organic, local meat and I have a list of the veggies that it is WORTH buying organic.
15 Does your child have a security item? They are blankie boys.
16 Thumb sucker or Pacie Baby? Pacies.
17 Any extra curricular activities? I hate schedules. They are kids - they play and imagine. There is lots of time for schedules and such later. We have some family hobbies; hiking, tennis, swimming, church, volunteering...
18 Does your child have any nicknames? Austin-Boston or Wild Man, Cars' or C-boo, and G, G-man, GQT, Cutie-butt, Doodle bug... on and on....
19 Do your children share a room or have their own? G has his own and A and C share. Their arrangements.
20 Discipline: Time out or spank? ...Or maybe duct tape to wall? Um, just depends. My kids are not the type you can talk out of things. The force is strong in them... So I have to force them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

$1 Stars Game

I got an email this week about a Huntsville Stars baseball game that would be open to anyone with a print out of the email for $1 per person. The deal was that someone had bet one of the other guys (all Stars employees) that they couldn't find 1,000 people to take half a day off for a baseball game, so the game was being offered at a special $1 price. We had a big group of homeschoolers ready to take off for the day. Around 9:30 this morning I got an email saying that the game had been postponed until 5:00 due to the field being ankle deep in mud. That wiped out most of our group, but Lou thought that he could leave a bit early and meet us there. Our friend Suzette's son was really upset that he wasn't going to get to see the "pros" so we took him out to the ball game too. The weather was PERFECT, there were hardly any people there, Austin got a foul ball and we bugged out just before the second game after seeing a huge storm popping up just east of us and on the way. We got in the car as the first drops started to fall. I had forgotten how much I like live sporting events.

ACSC Work Weekend

Our work weekend at church camp got off to a SLOW start. We decided to wait until Saturday morning to leave, owing to dental appointments and a closing on a home equity loan on Friday afternoon. We met up with Michael around 8:30 and hit the road. Then sat on that road for an two hours.... When the wreck was cleared, we started off again. Just in time to stop for lunch. Sigh. We finally made it to the camp around 2:30 and most of the indoors work was done. I headed out with the boys to help watch the kids swim.

The newly moved dirt was too temping for some...

I don't know who's dirt kid this is....

The next morning while we were making a big breakfast there was a phone call to let us know that there were bad storms heading our way at 11:00. We ate, cleaned up, got the semi stuck and unstuck and then jumped in the tour bus and off we went. The boys really thought they were something riding in there! LOL! Anyway, we were there for less than 24 hours, but everyone got lots done.