Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recital Balls

It was a wonderful evening watching the culmination of all of the girls' lessons and practicing, (and my nagging).

When we walked in to the building, awonderful smell was coming from the kitchen. We hadn't had dinner yet (the recital started at 6:30, and I think my stomach growled through the whole thing!). The amazing smell came from the sausage balls that Mrs. West had warming in the oven.

These are wonderful--all the kids loved them. They are really easy to make. They are great for breakfast, appetizers, with soups, or as a quick snack. Better yet, they are virtually 'free' in diabetes-ese--or, made of mostly meat and cheese, which Sophie doesn't have to 'count' when figuring out her insulin (so she can have as many as she wants without my interferance!) I store a bunch in a ziplock bag in the fridge for quick snacks.

The recipe for Sausage Balls:

1 lb sausage

3 c Bisquick

3 1/2 c cheese

1/2 c milk


1/2 tsp ground rosemary

1/2 c parmesan cheese

Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl, take off your rings, and knead it all together with your hands. form into balls, place on greased baking sheet, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.


Monday, December 22, 2008


For the past few years, a certain red plastic bucket has been conspicuously perched in the center or off to the side during most of our family gatherings. I've moved it about a thousand times. It's there during Saturday morning cartoons, scripture reading, home-teacher and grandparent visits, and it invariably comes out during 'quiet time' on Sunday afternoons. Did I mention that I've moved it a thousand times?

But I don't complain. You see, I have a deep respect for the humble Lego--those stackable, snapable, bricks of plastic that have captured my children's imagination and povided hours of (mostly quiet) creativity for all of them. I would say that Legos have been the best value of all the toys we've ever bought. I know families that have passed down their Legos through generations without letting them go.

So, I'm glad that I remembered someone telling me about a Lego store in Orlando. I had heard that you could buy just the pieces you wanted, and be free from the confines of the ubiquitous "set", which is just about the only way you can buy Legos these days.

With Christmas just around the corner, I suggested that we might make a "quick stop" before beginning our treck home from Florida, and possibly score a bag of wheels (very valuable parts). Silly me.

The store was set in a lovely shopping area in Downtown Disney, filled with plenty of venues designed to relieve vacationers of their money. But it quickly became clear that the Lego store was everyone's favorite. Kids and their families would hang out there for hours - just as we did, maybe even bring a lunch over (we didn't).

I trooped my girls over to the Disney souvenier emporium next door to find an 'official' souvenier but they didn't last ten minutes. No one over there seemed to be having any fun. I smiled secretly to myself as we made our way back. Big business marketing tactics have always bugged me. Aparently they bug my kids too.
I sat and watched my happy kids and made a few observations about the Lego place:

It was set up for kids to play, get creative, and have fun!
There were amazing things to look at.
There were tons of pieces to tinker with.
It wasn't geared toward one gender or the other.
I didn't notice any blaring or otherwise annoying music.
There were no annoying sales 'gimmicks' or pressure.
The sales people really seemed to enjoy being there.
My kids would have been happy to stay there all day.
We didn't spend much money, but left feeling really satisfied.
I think Santa would approve.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Be Still

So, it's been a little while since I've felt like writing anything. I've been feeling like things around me are moving so fast, while I'm somehow standing still, either observing, or just not being able to keep up with it all. Not being able to process it all fast enough, I am like a deer in the headlights, and I freeze.

When I realized how much 'stuff' I needed to do today, not to make any great strides foreward, but just to acheive "not falling behind", I felt overwhelmed. Kind of like someone being dragged out in the tide, struggling and treading water fiercely in order to be able to remain in the same spot she was before.

And I got ready to write about being on a merry go round. And then I heard the words:

Be still, and know that I am God.
I found this tree outside of the Hinckley Visitor's Center on BYU campus last spring. It spoke to me, for some reason. I didn't know why. And I took photos from several angles before I found the right one. Look how old and gnarly it looks. Even though winter was ending and other trees and vegetation were greening up, this tree remained unchanged--standing there, looking so lonely and out of place. Sort of how I've been feeling lately.
Yet I saw the little buds on the branches. Still closed tight. Waiting...
So, I'm asking myself, in 'being still', do I just stop what I'm doing? Stop rushing around, taking care of this mess, that problem, this meal,, etc... As much as I might like to, I'm pretty sure that's not what it means.
No, I looked it up. The command to "be still" comes from the Hiphil stem of the verb "rapha", meaning "to be weak, to let go, to surrender". I'm thinking about this in terms of that old tree, and wondering if the tree is feeling frustrated at being the last to morph into full summer loveliness.
To be still is to give up trusting in our own power and turning over our concerns and worries to Him. Not in fear, but in full confidence of His love and power and goodness.
I wish I had a picture of that tree in its full splendor. Hopefully, one day Ill get one. But I see it in my mind as the "Sweetheart Tree" on Temple Square that was the gorgeous backdrop for my favorite wedding day picture. (Unfortunately taken before digital cameras!). And I hope that somehow I can have the patience and faith to let go and truly be still, and one day become something as beautiful.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

He Did it!

So, finally, we just couldn't wait any longer for 'Alexis' to be fixed (Grouper named her by accident). We decided to bite-the-bullet and charge the repairs on a credit card - yuck!, right? But there was no other option. I called AAA on this rainy day (the same one I declared "Pajama Day") to come and take her to the shop. (Yay for Triple A - the tow was free).
It was entertaining to watch the guy hoist this 3 tonner up on the flatbed when he couldn't even back it into our driveway (the pine tree roots have raised our driveway about 2 feet up from the street - making it hard for some cars to get in or out without bottoming out...
We were lucky to get a great car repair reference from our last Home Teacher - (he's the best car-guy!)--the same one who advised my husband NOT to try to fix our car himself.

I expected to be waiting a few days to get an estimate and another couple for the car to actually be fixed (not to mention the several months of paying for it!). But about mid-afternoon, I got a call saying the car was done. And the total?
About $36!
Well, it turns out that my husband can now add 'mechanic' to his long list of accomplishments. He had it fixed right, there was just one broken electrical wire to be replaced. Ta Daa!

We're so proud of him!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pajama Day

I hear the rain as soon as I wake up. It is Tuesday, election day, and my kids are out of school, curled up on the couch and happy for the chance to watch early morning cartoons. Big T gets himself out the door without my help--"I'll just go out for lunch today, hon". Sounds good to me.
I realize that I have nowhere that I have to be, no bus to get my kids to, no one to get breakfast for (I splurged on boxed cereal), no lunches to make, notes to write, homework to find, etc. And one *** of a week behind me to recover from.
There are a baziliion things I should be doing (seriously), but today, I just can't. One look at my bedside table and its stack of patiently waiting, delicious books clinches it.
I let the kids watch as much TV and play as many video games as they want. No one has to get dressed. Meals? self serve-- whatever, and whenever they want (within reason, of course).
At the end of the day, there is, actually one thing I need to do. And I wait until almost the very last minute to do it--and at 6:45 I go in my pajamas, and turn in my ballot. I refuse to watch the results-just can't do it, just don't want to. And on the way home I wonder if I will not need a lot more of these days over the next four years...

Backyard Cookout

The tent was still up from Friday night's slumber party. It needed time to dry out after the rain that night.

Big T got a dutch oven for his birthday. I didn't feel like cooking dinner on this Sunday afternoon but I had planned tacos, and had everything ready for them. But I didn't get going fast enough apparently. Seems like the conditions were just right for a Backyard Cookout.

I had stumbled into the kitchen after my pseudo-nap (the one where you really wish you could sleep, but just lay there with your mind racing instead) to find my husband and kids busily preparing ...something. "I am not getting involved..." thought I.

A little later as I drove home after a meeting, I noticed that my house and front yard were shrouded in a thick white and grey smoke--no worries, this was just the result of my kids adding pine straw to the camp-fire.

I think the marshmallows actually got roasted and eaten before anything that was NOT made of approximately 100% sugar - but, of course what fun would waiting be? Especially when you could light the things up like a torch and watch the blazing sugar turn to a charcoal-ly ash and sometimes float away in the air. Maybe even try a little flame-throwing. When the marshmallows ran out, my kids had no qualms about roasting pine-cones. They were, after all, being allowed to play around FIRE on a Sunday afternoon.

The dutch-oven dinner took longer than expected, of course. Isn't that the rule?

They called it Washington Stew. (Grouper's idea, since George Washington was a pioneer, right? it was also her idea to don swimming goggles during this event) And they ate all of it. I called it unseasoned potatoes and carrots cooked in hamburger grease. If I had made something like that in my kitchen, no one would have touched it...willingly.

And then, what to do with my plate-ful? Risk squashing their enthusiasm, and any chances of another night "off" from dinner duty? Nope, I sneak in some salt, pepper, and Worchester sauce, ignore my rising cholesterol level, and join the clean plate club.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Still the Same Star

Here she is - those beautiful sparking blue eyes and silly grin. She's wearing her favorite beach hat from the kite shop at Jockey's Ridge and her favorite t-shirt that says "Sophie's Beauty Hut" on the back.
And I LOVE this girl soo much.

She is still the same sweet girl she was before being diagnosed with Type I Diabetes yesterday.

But I am different. And the choices we'll make as a family are different; from what to eat, to where to live. I am amazed how quickly all of the things I used to concern myself with have dissappeared in an instant. And how issues that didn't concern me yesterday have parked themselves right smack in the middle of my world. I find my ignorance of this disease and ambivalence toward stem cell research embarrassing now. Amazed at what I took for granted just yesterday. More grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ than ever.

I finally fell asleep last night after forcing myself not to think of all the ways our lives have been changed, literally overnight. Or asking the inevitable questions, "Why?", 'why her?", 'why our family?', "why now with all of the changes she is already dealing with by virtue of her tender age?" 'was it because she inherited my screwy overactive immune system that turned on her own beta cells?" "Could we have done anything differently?" These questions don't help.
I have to remember that Heavenly Father has a plan for us, and for her, and, whether we like it or not, this is part of it.

My stomach is still churning and my hands tremble as I write this, but I do it in hopes that it will be like therapy for me - as writing my thoughts often has been a comfort for me. Potential titles to this post floated in my brain as I sat inthe ER yesterday with my girl: 'This changes Everything', 'What a difference a day makes,' etc.

But ultimately this is the right one. She is still the same smart, shy, silly, fun loving, Nancy Drew obsessed girl. She is still a star on the stage of our family's lives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feeling Squirrelish

Well, looks like the time has come. I can no longer ignore the need to organize, categorize, and inventory our food storage. Actually, we have been dipping into our food storage for quite some time now. We use the powdered milk, the oats, the sugar, the flour, the rice pretty much on a regular basis.
I just haven't really been thinking about restocking it as much as I should have been.
Until now, I haven't really been thinking about taking inventory to see just exactly what and how much we have left. We just added to it as the opportunity arose.
In fact, I was feeling pretty good about the fact that the space beneath my bed and my unusable shower was full of food storage. I felt like I could lay my hands on pretty much any staple I needed at any time. I've been a little laxidaisical about it because we've been in "temporary" mode for so long. My thinking was, why store all that food when we'll just have to move it sometime soon?
Last week, I gathered up all the food from its various hiding places and put it all together to see what we had in comparison to what is recommended.
Well, I'm not feeling comfortable any more. It seemed like so much more when it was scattered out all around the house.
So, now I'm feeling the need (not necessarily the desire) to fill every extra nook and cranny in my house with food storage. I'm dehydrating carrots raiding our savings to buy extra bags of flour and sugar. I'm really hoping that I'm not too late to be taking an intense interest in this.
Is it just me, or do my cheeks look puffy?

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Little Bit of Birthday

Yesterday was Big T's 37th birthday! We have been so busy around here that I didn't get a chance to plan as much as I would have liked. I know what a bummer it is to wake up on your birthday and realizing that no one made much of an effort. He says it's no big deal, but that we should let the kids enjoy it.
It was just a little family party. The kids were excited about pizza and the "fancy" cake--although, as usual I think it looked better than it tasted. the kids had fun decorating and making cards. It was fun watching them scurry around, planning their daddy's party. They planned games, but by the time we slogged though traffic and back home again, we were all tired and Big T decided watching a video would be just fine.

H-man made a special Lego creation to give to his dad--which was very touching considering his Legos are pretty much his most prized possessions.

All in all, a pretty low-key birthday. I worried that he'd be disappointed. But I don't think so... when they told him to make a wish, he hugged his kids and replied "all my wishes already came true".

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dude, Where's My Car?

My dear husband has amazing skills, and I'm not talking about bowstaff and numchuck skills, Kip. He grew an impressive vegetable garden this year and keeps the yard under control, he does most of our car maintenance, as well as plumbing, electrical work, drywalling, and pretty much any household repair--in fact, he's turned several ramshackle old houses into valuable income producing properties in his spare time. At his day-job as an accountant, he analyzes spreadsheets with the best of them and files a mean itemized tax return, and then, of course the best part:
he's a loving, patient and kind husband and father.
I tell ya - the man practically does it all !
Unfortunately for me, however, he wants to be able to do everything and he tries to do it all, and that recently translated to his attempt to fix my car--
about a month ago!
Probably not his best idea...To his credit he got good instructions and methodically followed them, got all the right tools and so forth, and tried really hard. But, when we turned the key...alas, nothing happened.
The towing and garage bill to repair my car is going to be more than we have stashed under the mattress. And my guy is working so hard on several fronts, I just don't know when I'll be able to start my baby up again. Greener, yes - but not by choice!
So I'll be carless for a while longer--I wish it was because I'm so thrifty and conscientious about the environment. Not so. It's because I had such faith in Big T to be able to do it, since he can usually fix everything.
And he will...eventually.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Well, Here I go!

These are actually his own words. My littlest guppy has gone off to kindergarten this year. We were walking down the ramp to his classroom on the very first day and he realized the momentousness of it: "Well," he said, "here I go". I will never forget that moment.
It has taken me a whole month to post this because I still have mixed feelings. It feels like I've had a preschooler in my life forever. Always another little person to schedule my days around, to keep track of, to feed, to drag (reluctantly) along on errands, to play with and talk to... . Then all of a sudden it just...ended.

I didn't cry when I dropped him off, as Big Tuna predicted. Just watched a while through the glass. He was so happy to be starting this new phase of his life and I was happy for him. This is a journey he will be making without me.

Things will be different now. Not better or worse, just... different.

And I'm secretly thrilled when he asks me some mornings,
"Mommy, do I get to stay home today"?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Budget Cuts

I'm really hoping this isn't the "Perfect" White Water Rafting trip that my husband promised me!

This will have to do for a while though, as it looks like Camp Fisher-Nantahala's budget has been cut by the Fisher Steering Committee. We had planned a second white water trip over Labor Day Weekend since I missed the first one. Alas, as the date approached, it became obvious that our budget would not support such a trip. Plus we are this close to paying off a lingering debt, (which is exciting in itself.) So, with that in mind, we headed off to Grampa's house in King, NC for a quick getaway instead of the rapids.. Thankfully, Grampa had planned to take our kids to Adventure Landing--primarily a putt putt golf and video arcade place--Big T and I tagged along. Lots of fun!
These boats were the highlight, though.
The ride was short, but being able to blast water jets at my husband and kids just for a few minutes was pretty satisfying, I'll admit...

I'm still sneaking that trip into next Fiscal Year's Budget, though!

All Creatures Great and Small

Today I rescued a chicken. We don't live in the country, but our neighborhood has a stray chicken that wanders around pecking at bugs. I do not know how it got here, but we see it most mornings while waiting for the school bus. There's also a guinea hen that flocks with it occasionally. They roam unencumbered through people's yards eating bugs. Amusing to watch.
In the next neighborhood over there are a few peacocks nesting in the trees. We hear their mating calls sometimes. A small flock of geese decorates the picturesque landscape near us. We pass them very morning on our way to work, school, ...anywhere. We've seen raccoons watching us from trees. And a few times, I have been awoken by the soft "whoo, whoo" of an owl or the drilling of a woodpecker in a tree. I've really enjoyed living in the midst of such wildlife. Much nicer than the traffic and trains I listened to daily prior to moving here!
Well. today I was outside helping Mat fix the car when we heard a really horrendous distress cry. It sounded like a cross between a wounded mountain lion and a large bird. Very strange sound. We didn't know what it was. I headed to the backyard thinking some poor animal was tangled in our electric fence. Hmm, nothing there. Thank goodness. Still heard the cries though. Then I realized there was a lot of barking going on in our neighbor's yard. My neighbor's wire fox terrier "Chopper" can be a niusance at times. He had apparently been "hunting" the chicken and had it cornered. I shooed the dog away and the chicken ran free.
A small thing.
But, for a minute, I felt like a wildlife hero!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Camp Fisher-Nantahala

I have always wanted to go white water rafting. Always. Unfortunately, the opportunity never presented itself. Until this summer. You see, I had been searching for summer camps for our girls, and found out that, since I had waited too long (mid June) to do this, I had apparently 'missed the boat'.

This being the first year we considered our girls old enough for summer camp, I did not know that you have to be willing to pony up your applications and cash early or there would not be any spots left--like April(!) At the time, I was looking forward to spending more time with my kids after school ended, not paying someone to take them off my hands (those feelings surfaced a little later). So we missed that summer camp registration window this year.

The camps that were not full by mid June were also the ones that were terribly expensive. Luckily, I was able to get Orca into a four day sleep-away sailing camp--there was space available in her age group but not the older girls--after all, who sends a seven year old girl to sleep-away camp??? (see "Brave Little Camper") So, my husband and I formulated a plan to take Salmon and Grouper on a little camping excursion of our own, complete with white water rafting, caving, panning for gold, and horseback riding.
Sounded perfect! I was so excited!

....Then came the "distress call". Our oldest, Marlin, who was in college in New Mexico,was in a crisis,... again. Scrap the trip, find that 'white knight' helmet and race to the rescue! (this meant buy a last minute plane ticket, fly across the country and drive her and her "stuff" all the way back here --1700+ miles). It's what moms do.

Thankfully my dear husband is an awesome dad--he did not want to dissappoint those girls, and, as an Eagle Scout, I knew he was even capable of handling
2 giggling preteens.

He packed up everything himself, got a map, completed the reservations I never finished, even remembered the camera and

the marshmallows, too!

He brought back some great photos of what I missed and promised me that this was just a warm-up trip for when we go again, to make sure next time is perfect. I just love that man!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peaches and Wheat! ...oh, and Cream of course!

So, if you've ever wondered how to get kids to eat wheat, THIS is IT! I had some fresh peaches to use up and they were delicious with the hot wheat cereal.... and, ...well, yes, some whipped cream seemed to be in order too --(Yes, you can serve whipped cream for breakfast - it fits nicely into the dairy category--I learned that from IHOP).
Mmmm, I think I'll go make some right now!

Fall Fling!

Let the Flinging Begin!

We have been blessed with 5 children. Each of those children has somehow learned how to multiply their "stuff" when I'm not looking. I don't know how they do it - water it? Keep it in a dark, moist place? (possibly). It just seems to appear out of thin air!!

Unfortunately, right now, our situation dictates that we live in an insanely tiny house (for our large family, that is) And there just isn't enough room for all that stuff. Over the summer, it seems to have gotten out of control, especially since Marlin moved back home (temporarily!!)

Well, the kids are back in school and for the first time I am HOME ALONE(!) for a good part of the day. And my new job is to de-junkify our house. Here is the first of many piles headed for the donation bin. Naturally I'm starting in their bedrooms! Wish me luck!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

And They're Off!

It has taken me forever to get this post done. Maybe 'cause I'm still in denial!!! Also maybe 'cause I felt like an avalanche fell on me last week! So much to do! Where to start?! Somehow I got the idea that once that first day of school arrived and they were all safely in their classes, my days would be quiet and contemplative--with bursts of busyness as I methodically work to undo the summer's damage on my house (read: pigsty!) Ha!! that couldn't have been further from the way it actually played out! But this isn't about me--this is the tale of our rituals of getting ready for Back to school!


Before they "Meet the Teacher"

Before their lunchboxes and backpacks are packed and lined up by the door

Before they receive a Father's Blessing

Before they pose for their "First Day of school" photos (I always take too many)

Before all that exciting stuff, there must be preparation. Preparation, preparation, preparation... - well, anyway.

The idea of the big "back to school" shopping trip was always tantalizing and filled with anticipation when I was a kid. In the end, though, it seemed we would be exhausted and mildly disappointed, or just glad it was over.
I remember each August my mother would pack all 5 of us up in our beige Buick station wagon and make the hour-long trek to Nashville, Tennessee--which was the closest big town to our hometown in Bowling Green, Kentucky (grades 2 thru 11 for me).
We would head to "The Mall" - well, mainly Sears and JC Penney,--the two stores Mom had credit cards for. I remember shopping for my older sister's stuff, and when we were through with that, she spent the rest of the time huffing and looking bored and put-out, or crying. I would pick out a few things that always seemed to be too hot to wear at the end of August--Jeans, sweaters, etc. But I would wear them anyway, because they were new!
So, with my kids, the concept is the same, but I try to do it in parts, so they seem to enjoy the process a little while longer.
First, the supplies - we watch for the first evidence that stores are stocking school supplies and make a bee line for Walmart & Target. - gotta get there before the the rest of the hordes decend upon the fresh displays, get the best backpacks, lunchboxes, etc.
Yes, I do end up having to hide them in my bedroom for about a month, but just that much more fun when we get to break them out and divvy them up into backpacks just before the big day. Believe me, it's worth it!

Next up, gym
Shoes. In case you never get the opportunity, just know that shoe shopping for 4 kids is an event in itself. And an all day proposition. Period.
Do not think that it can be done at one store. One store will NEVER have all the right sizes in all the right styles you need.
I do not attempt to combine this event with any other errands or shopping tasks. This year was one for the record books. I actually surprised myself and got all 4 pairs plus 8 pairs of socks for under $100!

Finally, there have to be a few new outfits to round out our preparations--followed by a fashion show, of course! I have given up on the whole "outfitting for fall" idea, because you know what? - there is a ton of clothes from last Christmas or after Christmas sales sitting in storage bins that will work just fine. And after the initial first few days of school, my kids don't care if their clothes are brand-spankin' new. In fact, sometimes they prefer their comfy old standbys. So we hit the summer sale racks, pull out a few pieces at bargain basement prices, and call it good. They're happy, I'm happy, and the clothes don't make them sizzle through the last hot days of summer.

Happy Kids, it's going to be a Great Year!

Funny Boy

I've had several friends tell me lately, that my son "cracks them up"! I never really thought of him as a funny kid, because he doesn't really try to be. I fact, I think he's too serious for being five! However, sometimes he'll say things that are hilarious to me given the situation, and the way he does it in that serious way of his!

to me: I'm so Glad at you! (when I found my swimsuit after telling him I couldn't and would not be swimming with him).

Mommy, does my hair look awesome with this bump right here? (after combing his own hair for the first time on record)
turn it off! (referring to the sunlight coming into his room when I opened the blinds on the first day of school)
Get up lazybones, it's time to go to school! (this was funny because his sisters had been up a long time and were already on the bus by now when he was just rolling out of bed and he was now yelling into an empty room!)
and my favorite: Mommy, when I grow up I'll marry you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Heaven in a Spoon

The other day a friend asked how I had lost 10 pounds over the summer. I was explaining that it was mainly through "creative substitution", and I didn't really feel deprived or that I had even really been dieting.

I just made small changes in what I normally eat:

such as:

High fiber cereal or eggs instead of my usual toast w/ butter & jam and herb tea for breakfast.
Whole wheat bread for white
Dreamfields (or whole wheat) pasta for plain
Fruits & vggies instead of crackers, chips, etc. for snacks
Rice or veggie based dishes instead of creamy, cheesy, casseroles
you get the idea...

But then I got to the part where I switched out my usual ice cream indulgence for smoothies (which I adore, byt the way) and it made me start thinking about ice cream.

you know, I kind of did miss my ice cream. Just a little...

So today I bought this:
and tonight I am in heaven - even at 1/2 the fat, it's amazing.
Well, ...maybe not every night,

but sometimes,... if only on the inside,
we all scream for ice cream!