Thursday, October 30, 2008

Birthdays!

Seven years ago I was laboring with an epidural to bring this guy into the world. It was a quiet morning, and the only ones in the room were Jack and I, and the doctor and the nurse. My doctor was a good man who listened to me when I said I wanted the epidural at 3, and everything about birthing this baby was easy. When he was born, the doctor was telling jokes and all four of us were cracking up. I have always felt that Todd is as funny as he is because he was literally born in a room full of laughter.

We won't be having cake and presents until this weekend, but we all gave him hugs and kisses and birthday spankin's today. My funny little guy, with his crazy, curly, cow-licked hair, those big huge eyes, and his larger-than-life approach to everything is now 7. Happy birthday, Todd! We love you!
I took him to the park this afternoon while we waited for Chet's pottery class to end. He spent the time sliding down the tunnel head first and upside down. That is just how he rolls!


Today is also my sister-in-law Sam's birthday. Happy birthday Sam! We love you too!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday and Monday with the Crystals

My friend Crystal (married to Nathan) loves Nicholas Sparks books. She mentioned being excited that he had a book coming out the same weekend his movie was released. So when the marquee in Berryville announced that Nights in Rodanthe would be the weekend feature I asked if she wanted to go and we would leave the menfolk and young-uns behind. She thought it was a great idea. So did the menfolk, who aren't really fond of chickflicks.

We stopped at a sandwich shop to eat dinner, where thanks to genetic affiliations and friendly associations we can eat for next to nothing. I pulled my camera out and Crystal started laughing and asking what I was doing. She hasn't spent enough time with me yet.

After a laugh-filled meal we headed on down the street to watch the movie. It is a good movie, but there came a point where I figured out the ending and it irritated me. (slightly) I am one who thinks that fictional love stories should have happy endings. That is why they are fictional, right??? lol... anyway, I don't want to indulge everything in case you plan on seeing this or reading the book, but I seriously have to wonder why Sparks writes stories that generally end this way? It is depressing, I tell ya!

We did find a couple of moments of hilarity in the movie, though. Hey, Crystal... who's your postmaster????
Then on Monday morning the other Crystal (not married to Nathan)called with "a slight emergency." Zach had started his car, got out while it was running, and locked the keys inside. She asked me if I could come get him and help him get a spare key before he ran out of gas. Unfortunately, nobody had the key in town so I drove him over to the police department and they made arrangements to come unlock it for him. (I might have had some experience with needing a locked car unlocked recently that caused me to learn that our PD will do this for people in their precinct.) (Do we even have a precinct in a town this small???)

I brought him back to his purring vehicle and once again pulled out the camera. Crystal didn't know the plan, and I was hoping the chief (it is the chief of police who handles these calls) would arrive before we did. He didn't, so I snapped a couple of shots and then had to get back to work. Here they are reflecting in the windshield towards the incarcerated keys.

Crystal asked the chief if this would appear in the police report in our paper and her assured her it will. She wants me to make sure it gets posted on the church bulletin board. My kids aren't the only ones who make it in the paper around here!

I feel bad for Crystal (not married to Nathan). She is finding herself surrounded by people who appear to have escaped from looney bins lately. It makes me grateful to have a house surrounded by farms. The only escapees I usually encounter are four-legged critters of the bovine and equine variety like this guy who found an open fence to wander through today.

Thanks for the laughs, Crystals! Let's do it all again soon!

Making Headlines

I knew the kids would be in our local paper, but I was surprised to find them on the front page for the paper in one of our bigger cities. Here is the link to that article.

Then they were on the front page of our paper today. They all got a big kick out of that.



All the kids who participated in this have done a really good job! I hope there is a ribbon cutting type of ceremony that they can all participate in when the sidewalks are done. Wouldn't it be fun if we could put all of the kids' handprints in the sidewalk... or better yet their footprints leading the way to school? Not just my kids, of course, but all of the kids who participated?

Looking for a new home?

Here is another blog that cracks me up. Browse through and chuckle if you have a few minutes!

It's Lovely! I'll Take It!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Live

The kids and I got up early this morning to go help distribute Angel Food. Last month the truck was late and the distribution didn't go as smoothly as it normally does. This month went really well, and we were done by noon.

Kyle was invited to spend the night at his friend's house, so we dropped him off after the distribution. On the way we saw this tree, and the boys all started laughing. I am assuming the tree was pruned this way because of the electrical lines. The boys, however, think it is because somebody on that block likes football. They are now calling it the goalpost tree.

Todd wasn't feeling well this morning, so I brought him back home and he watched a movie with Jack while I ran a couple more errands into town. One of those errands was to pick up a yard sign at the Republican Headquarters. We spent a little time visiting with the volunteers there, and I ended up signing up for Republican Women. We were invited to the rally next Monday as well. A lot of the local politicians who thought I was a reporter will be there. Hmmmmmmmm..... would you like to help me come up with some interview questions??

I really liked their candy dish. I think it would be fun to repurpose him as my garden gnome.

We got our yard sign and a button to wear. Then my patriotism overrode my photography-ism(??) and I stood the kids in front of the banner with the bright sun in their eyes to take a picture. That is a big rule-breaker if you don't want squinty-eyed subjects. I wasn't going to miss out on my photo=opp, though!
There was a pumpkin festival on the townsquare this morning, but we missed most of it by the time the kids and I got there. Matt went just to get out of the house (as if he is ever home these days!) but was happy to get a shrimp on a stick snack. Then we went over to see the scarecrows.

The boys didn't want to take their picture with the scarecrows. "We're too old for that, Mom." "That is not cool, Mom." So I said okay, and just took pictures of the girls.

Then the boys changed their minds and wanted to take a picture afterall. This is their mature and cool pose.
The reporter was there taking pictures of the scarecrows too. I hope she doesn't think I am stalking her. I can't help it that our towns are so small that scarecrows are considered news-worthy!

We finished our errands, and my head was pounding. I think I got hit with whatever had Todd feeling bad this morning. As I type this Faith is lying on the couch with a bit of fever and headache as well. I ended up cancelling my plans for tonight and we all just came home and relaxed. Hopefully it is just a 24 hour type bug that passes quickly.

This is a sign they put on our road a couple of months ago. Matt likes to tell me they put it up because of me. I have no idea what he is talking about!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A bountiful harvest

of jalapenos. They are still growing by the pounds. Maybe I didn't need six jalapeno pepper plants. Today I picked about 50. There are still a few hundred little ones out there. I will get back to this red one later.There were some other veggies out there today as well. We found some cucumbers, red orange and green bell peppers, two of those squiggly peppers, and an assortment of Roma and cherry tomatoes. Orange and red bells cost a small fortune at the moment, so I was really happy to see those guys.

Faith, Kyle and Todd wanted to help prepping our harvest, so the four of us spent the afternoon slicing and dicing.

We made some pasta salad without the cherry syrup. Mmmmmmm.


And a mountain of salad. Those bells added such a yummy crunch and flavor. I love a loaded green salad!

I also sliced up a bunch of the extra peppers. I see fajitas and philly cheesesteak sandwiches on the menu in the near future. Just not for the same meal.


Kyle got bored and went outside to play, and the girls finished up their pepper poppers. Usually we put cream cheese in the peppers, but today we added cheddar cheese and some chopped up sundried tomatoes as well.They were incredibly yummy. I didn't think the red pepper would be hotter than the green ones, but I was really wrong. I am glad I ate that one instead of the kids. (That sounds weird, doesn't it... I wouldn't eat my kids.)

I still have about twenty jalapenos in my fridge. Anybody need some? Hurry before the frost kills all the rest of them!

I have design work to get done tonight, but I thought I would share a layout I made the other day while I was waiting for the girls to get out of their Girl Scout meeting. Now I better get into the creative mode and get some kits finished up.

The Fire


One of my favorite books, ever ... (and I have read a LOT of books) was The Eight by Katherine Neville. I have been waiting FOREVER for her to write another one, and at long last she has. I cannot wait to get my hands on The Fire!

Sigh.... I miss having bookstores around me. My wallet is better for it, but my booklover's heart is lonely for a warehouse of new crisp books calling my name! If you have a Barnes & Noble or a Borders near you, say hello for me. Tell them I miss them. I will end up ordering the book online, but it really isn't the same as being surrounded by stacks of books. Not the same at all. If you love (shopping for) books like I love (hoarding) books I am sure you will understand.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to segue from a Congressman to a raingutter mater

Last April, the kids participated in the Walk for Sidewalks event. The goal was to get our legislatures to approve the funding to get sidewalks built in our little town. The campaign was successful. My friend Rob called me today and asked me to bring the kids to meet the Congressman who helped work to get it approved.

This was such a great learning lesson for the kids. The homeschooler in me came out as I pulled them out of school, and we got to talk about what our congressional leaders do, and how even school kids can participate in getting things changed. I think we might have also talked about why pre-teens should always wear deodorant. It was all equally important, as any nose knows.

We arrived at Rob's cafe and the kids talked a little bit with State Rep. King while they waited for Congressman Boozman to arrive. They practiced posing for the photo for the paper too. I love staged candids...lol.

There is Chet shaking hands with the Congressman. Pastor Nestor (in the middle) also participated in the walk to school program. Remember me telling you the joke about a Methodist secretary, a Baptist preacher, a cit councilman, a four year old and the chief of police riding in a car that had no punchline? Well, Nestor is the preacher. That cute little four year old is on this picture too... but she is not four anymore.

All that practice paid off... here is the carefully posed candid for the newspaper.

Oh, speaking of newspapers, I had a funny story I meant to share the other day. Last Wednesday I attended a Meet the Candidates event at our library. Apparently I sat right next to the real reporter from the paper without realizing who she was. I went to this because I am just a political junkie. I think I was literally the only one who attended just because. Most of the ladies were from the club who hosted the event, and everyone else in the room was either a candidate or a relative of a candidate. And the reporter. And of course.... me... the lone person to arrive just because I wanted to hear what they had to say. (Apparently they didn't think people actually do that.) I brought my camera because that is what I do. When the reporter stood up and took photos I did too. Why try to get them all gathered up again for another shot, right?

So do you see where this is going? Yes, it was assumed I was from the press as well. (I think the press in our county consists of about 5 people.) During the half hour that was open for the guests to ask questions, a couple of the candidates commented on how the members of the press weren't even asking questions. Color me clueless, but at the time I honestly had no idea I was being included in that category. But now that I know this I can't help but laugh and think of how I could have "interviewed" them. If I could have pulled off the "boxers or briefs" question with a straight face, what do you think they would have done??

See the guy on the left? Doesn't he look like the actor who played the sleezeball attorney on Night Court? I think he is actually a good guy who does his job well, but that resemblance throws me off everytime! Actually, several of them impressed me, one or two were already on my "to vote for" list, and at least one left me surprisingly unimpressed. Overall, though, I really like small town politicians and politics.

Anyway... back to today. After our little photo opp, Rob asked if I could take the other girls who had come to meet Congressman Boozman back to school with my own kids. We don't have that many seats in our truck, so Jack drove Chet and Faith to theirs and I walked the elementary kids back to theirs. Kyle walked backwards nearly the whole way.

In this picture they were walking under a pecan tree full of nuts. The tree is on an empty lot, so I am thinking of going back with the kids and gathering the nuts up. Between those pecans and the mountain of walnuts in my background there could be some really yummy baking going on this holiday season.

And speaking of edible vegetation, look what Jack found growing out of our raingutter today. Don't ask me how a cherry tomato plant took root in a rain gutter. I just don't know. It is as much a conundrum to me as the mystery of how I keep ending up with pumpkin patches in July, or why my broccoli plants have risen from their grasshopper-induced graves.
Fess up, though, you are jealous of my freakishly mad gardening skills aren't you??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring

my children are snoring.... in my bed. There is a storm working its way in, but it is only rain so far. That didn't stop my littlest ones from deciding they all needed to pile into my bed in case there was any lightning and thunder. Cute, aren't they?? Please ignore the mismatched pillowcases. Jack always dresses his pillows in white. He claims I steal it from him at night, and having it dressed differently than mine is one way he can prove he is reclaiming his rightful pillow.

I had a wonderful weekend. I went hoping to have a calm weekend and came home renewed in every aspect of my life. Jack went the weekend before, and this is honestly the best thing we have ever done for ourselves, our kids, our marriage, and our faith.If you can ever attend an Emmaus Walk, GO! There are Emmaus communities all over the country. Feel free to holler if you need help finding one!

I am tired and need to go squish sleeping monkeys closer together so I can sleep. I am going to have them all three sleep on Jack's side. I am sure he will think it is adorable too(hehehe), when he gets home in a few hours, and he won't be able to say it was me stealing his pillow!

Why I am voting for the McCain Palin ticket

I am getting caught up again, and will be sharing some of my story of the weekend later tonight.

Sarah Palin will be in Springfield on Friday, and if I could I would be at that rally! It isn't feasible for me right now, though, so it is my hope that maybe "my" spot will be filled by somebody that isn't really sure which way to vote.

I shared some videos that show why I will not vote for Obama. I like this video because it shows, in a positive way, why I am voting for McCain. This is an interview of Palin that very clearly lays out all the issues that I think are important in this election. I know some of my good friends out there reading don't agree with me, and that is okay. I love ya anyway... lol.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back soon!

I am leaving for the weekend to attend an Emmaus Walk. I will be back on Monday! Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Political Ads

Let Freedom Ring has begun a new ad campaign in battleground states with three parts; Common Sense Thinking, Consequences, and Never Find Out. I like the Never Find Out ads the best, but found value in all of them.You can see their press release here for more details.

You can see all of their ads here. and here. These are some of the ones I like the best. I am smart and able to grasp complicated concepts, but I still prefer to hear things presented in a straight-forward and honest manner. That is part of why I like this ad campaign. It concisely and clearly portrays how I personally feel about nearly everything Obama has said and done.










Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Foggy Night

Just before tonight's sunset a thick fog began rolling across the pastures behind us. By the time I put my card back in my camera and headed outside it was already creeping over our backyard.

I have always associated fog with coastal states. I just assumed that if you didn't have an oceanic coastline within a hundred miles that you didn't get fog. One of the few things I ever missed about living in California was waking up to foggy mornings. When we moved here, the fog was a big surprise to me. Yet these are the mountains, full of ponds, rivers, and streams, as well as three large lakes within 30 or so miles of our house. So when the temperature conditions are right, fog begins rolling off those bodies of water and creeping across the land. I love it. It is quiet, peaceful. The cool moisture feels good on my skin. And it is just so cool to see develop.

It is hard to gauge how thick it was by just looking at this shot, but that grass is four feet high. That tree on the right looks like a naked chubby Christmas tree, but it is taller than my two-story house. This fog was getting pretty tall. When I left an hour or so later to get the boys from scouts, it had covered everything, and the moon you can see here had that cool glow around it that fog provides.

Some of my plants in my garden have taken advantage of the lack of time we have had. Since we haven't had a chance to plow the garden bed under, it has overgrown with grass. However, tonight I found three new broccoli plants, a couple of huge eggplant vines, a yellow squash vine, a cucumber vine, and two cherry tomato plants all growing strong. I may get a whole new harvest in if the frost holds off a bit. You know, we spent a lot of time planting the garden and trying to tend to it properly, just to have 3/4 of my crop eaten by grasshoppers and several of my plants never produced at all. Now that I have neglected the garden area... haven't weeded, watered,or even noticed it... I have stuff flowering all over it. I really have to improve my gardening skills next year, unless growing a bunch of late-season veggies in a field of neglected weeds is considered a good kind of skill!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Good things come in small packages

Last year we had to do a lot of winterization on our house. Our water heater was a propane-gas fueled monstrosity that was costing a fortune to keep running. It was also precariously installed, and had to be constantly checked to make sure the pipes weren't leaking dangerous gas fumes into our house. Instead of spending another small fortune to refill the propane tank, and then deal with the other issues again, we decided to check into an electric tankless system.

It arrived, and I had to use a visual to show how big the packaging is... or isn't depending on your point of view. It isn't even as wide as the Diet Pepsi bottle. Of course, this arrived on Thursday, about three hours before Jack left for the weekend, and so I spent the last four days staring at that divinely enticing package with its promise of reduced power bills and higher safety ratings. I drank that whole bottle of caffeine-charged Diet Pepsi to drown my anticipatory anxiety as I waited for Jack to return.

I came home from work today and found my favorite handyman in the water heater closet installing our new appliance. I get hot water that costs less, AND I get that entire closet to turn into a small storage area. I didn't even have to endure plumber-butt to get it done! Be still my heart!

Hello, beautiful. Don't you look lovely with your lights all lit up like that!

And the best news of all is that it works! We (I say that entirely tongue-in-cheek because the thought of me really doing anything with electricity or plumbing is extremely laughable) turned the power and the water back on, and with baited breath turned the hot water faucet. A few moments later, warm, hot-shower inducing streams began to pour out of that faucet. Heaven... warm, liquid heaven!

I can't wait to see what other miniature appliances are available out thereto make my life easier!

(You can purchase tankless water heaters at big box hardware stores, but they cost quite a bit. Our friend Chet referred us to the manufacturer, Titan, where we found them available for a lot less. Then on a hunch as I was about to place our order, I decided to see what was on Ebay. We found ours on Ebay for $200, and didn't have to pay any shipping. If you are looking for affordable ways to make your house more energy efficient, this is a great way to go. It only heats the water as it is needed, so there isn't a reservoir of water you pay to keep hot all the time. There isn't a lit pilot light presenting its fire hazards, and it costs alot less to run.)

A Happy Sunday

We had a nice weekend at home. Jack had an even better weekend on his Emmaus Walk. I am leaving for my walk on Thursday, and I am looking so forward to it!

Our church sponsors a missionary in India who has built 69 churches in the last 30 years in India. This week, David was able to come visit the States, and he spoke to the youth on Wednesday and then to the congregation on Sunday. His story of faith in action is incredible. Pastor Donnie called the kids forward for the children's message, and then asked them to join him in praying for David. I look at this picture, and seeing all those little hands resting on David's arm just really touches me.

After church, we ate a quick lunch and then Beth and I took Faith for her first round of the tournament finals for her volleyball league. Here she is serving in one of the games.

The winners are determined by winning 3 out of 5 games. Faith's team rocked. All of them. These girls stood up there and quietly showed everyone teamwork in action. All of them have improved, no matter what level they started at. They call out support to one another. They cheer on their achievements and they all tell each other it is okay when a serve or play goes downhill. The team they played on Sunday for the first round of finals is the same team they beat last week. This opposing team had never lost up to this point. It was obvious that they did not like losing.

Faith's team won on Sunday, in a big way. They won all three of their games in a row, and it really wasn't even close. It took us longer to drive home than it did for them to get through the three rounds. It was exhilerating to watch, but it was their demeanor and their sportsmanship that really made me proud. They beat the team that was considered unbeatable and they did it by working so well together. Good job, girls!

Beth wanted you to see what she can almost do. She has been practicing splitting herself in half everyday, and she is almost there!

The kids and I got the front porch cleaned up during the rest of the afternoon while we waited for Jack to get home, and then played with the bugs that showed upto be chronicled in the next edition of Ozark Critters.

Here is another Willy Worm. They are all over our porch in yellow, orange, and black. They are the perfect fall critter.
The walking sticks are out and about taking afternoon strolls. Beth loves these too, almost as much as frogs. They grow so big here as well. Some I have seen are about six inches long. Of all the bugs that call the Ozarks home, I think I just might find these the most intriguing. It is incredible to me how they look like sticks, all the way down to knobby details.

Football and volleyball season is nearly over. You know what that means, right? Yep... it means I will soon be bombarding you with Kyle and Todd's basketball photos.

Two more layouts

I took my computer with me to Faith and Todd's dance classes today and got these finished up while I waited. I am going to have to videotape Todd practicing his hiphop moves. Entertainment isn't the word for it! He just packs all of his personality into every single move, cracking me up for the entire process!

I am uploading some pictures and will be back in a bit with an update.


Friday, October 10, 2008

5 Bucks

My Girls

I'm scrapping, oh yes indeed, I'm scrapping!

The rest of the week's updates.

Faith's volleyball season is almost over, and she has come a long way. Having never really played volleyball before, she had to start from the ground up. One of the things she really had to get comfortable with was serving. The first several games her serves never made it over the net, and despite her efforts to be a good sport about it you could often see the disappointment etched on her face. But she has been practicing, and has finally become almost one with the ball on her serves. Last week it was her turn to serve during the last volley, which left earning the game point up to her. I could read the nervousness in her demeanor, but when that ball sailed over the net, and her team got that final point, she just lit up. Her teammates swarmed her, and I was just so happy for her. I didn't have any pictures of that, but I made sure the camera was ready for the next game.

She began the game by serving first for her team, and proceeded to serve five points in a row. It was a bright, shining moment for her. You go girl!

Photobucket

They ended up winning that set of games, and here they are cheering afterwards.

After the game I took the girls to McDonalds so Faith could redeem her free ice cream cone pass.
I think this will end up being the last bowl of salsa from my garden. It is a variety of bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, Big Boy tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and jalapenos.The tomatoes seem to be done, although I still have about a hundred jalapenos and peppers out there. I will probably end up dehydrating those for future chilis.

There is a baby hamburger in the next door pasture who likes to come over and play in our tall grass. Yes, our back yard is calf-high again. All the rain this year had our acreage growing faster than we could deal with it with one little riding mower and both of us working. Therefore, we are growing majestic hills of hay, and are not really sure what we will end up doing with it. Our neighbors all have so much hay already that they don't need ours. Maybe this little guy will corrupt enough of his herd-mates into breaking through the fencelines to come chow down on it.
My friend Roberta calls this a Willy Worm. I assumed it was a caterpillar of some sort, but I really am not sure. They keep hanging out on our doorstep for some reason. Do you see its knife-ish mouth on the right side? I really hope that thing is just for cutting leaves, but I am not willing to let one crawl on my hands to find out if it is carnivorous.

Oh yes, I need to update you on Chet's run for Student Council. I am terribly sad to report that he was defeated. By one vote. That isn't the biggest kicker, though. He lost by one vote, but he didn't vote for himself. He says he thinks it is selfish to vote for himself. I was flabbergasted, and yet so proud of him for deciding what his own honor code is and sticking with it, even though it really did cost him this time. I told you he would be a good candidate for Congressional reform!

The kids and I are on our own this weekend. Jack and our friend Nathan have gone on an Emmaus Walk and will be back on Sunday. I don't know how I didn't notice Kevin giving Jack bunny ears when I took this. Jack and Kevin are both six feet tall, but they sure look short next to Donnie and Nathan, don't they?

I have one more story to share, then I am going to finish up the housework, chase the kids to bed, and relish being able to stay up all night and scrap. Kyle brought home a note from the nurse. (I will scan it on Monday and post it here.)Did he have a fever, you ask? No. He wasn't coughing, didn't have a headache, and wasn't in any pain. What caused him such distress that he was sent to the nurse's office? I quote...the "stomach" box is checked, and in the notes it says "shirt on backwards, said it was choking him." Do you think the nurse had a straight face as she wrote this?

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