Friday, January 30, 2009

A big day at school

Like most of you, I volunteer for every class party that I can. So far I'm batting 1,000. However, since I can't bring Luke along, I have never volunteered on a non-party day. I have always wondered what a typical school day was like, but getting details from Zach is like pulling teeth. He can always tell me who wasn't there, what they had for snack and what they did for gross motor time, but other than that I usually get a bunch of "I dunno's".

Today Zach took an extra special something with him to school - HIS DAD! When I asked Zach how school was, he told me all about Duck Duck Goose - including the fact that Daddy didn't play. Daddy did, however, spend a lot of time in the block area with several of the kids. Aside from that, I got the usual "I dunno" in response to my questions. Bryan helped jog his memory, so I feel compelled to write it all down so that I will remember how his preschool days were spent.

Most of the kids were pretty excited to have Mr. Bryan at school. Some of the boys are used to Bryan being around, so it wasn't such a big deal for them. The girls, however, LOVED Bryan. Seems that he is still a chick magnet.

The teachers didn't have anything specific in mind for Bryan to do, so he just jumped in wherever he felt comfortable and thought that he wouldn't be in the way. The beginning of school was spent in the block area. Sounds like he spent a lot of time helping kids build parking areas for their planes, helicopters and other automobiles.

Zach loves the dress-up area, so Bryan helped Zach get into his "police" uniform - an old blue blazer with one button, a clipboard in one hand, a phone in one pocket and a magnifying glass in the other. Bryan said he looked more like a security guard than a cop, but Zach was very happy with his get-up.

I'm pretty sure he said that they played in the kitchen too. I've seen the kids spent countless hours in our play kitchen at home, so I can easily imagine the fun the kids cooked up at school today.

For snack they had Scooby-shaped graham crackers. I don't know why, but those do not appeal to me at all. The kids liked 'em though and that's what counts.

During gross motor time they did a lot of running and skipping - Daddy did that with the kids. After a while they decided to play Duck Duck Goose and that's when Bryan bailed out. He watched though and said the kids loved it.

They also played Bingo today - "Number Bingo instead of Letter Bingo". Zach wanted to be very clear about that... And of course there was art time. Zachary made a picture of his dad. You think he was excited to have him there today? He was over the moon; as were many of the kids. Bryan and I need to make more of an effort to come to school; especially on non-party days. That's when the kids least expect it and it seems to be such a blessing to them. I think this extra attention from Daddy will be enough to send Zach skipping through his weekend.

By the way, Bryan and the boys spent the 30 minutes leading up to school .... WRESTLING! When Bryan told one of Zach's teachers that, he received a delighted "THANK YOU!" Apparently the kids come to school a little wired - especially during the winter months when they can't get out to play as much.

If I blog it, it will come

I love snow. Not flurries, but INCHES of snow! I love this house year-round, but I think it's especially homey when buried under lots of snow, with the fireplace going and sipping hot chocolate after playing outside. The kids and I love snowballs, snow angels, shoveling snow, sledding, catching snow on our tongues, and anything else you can do in snow. Dare Devil Luke especially loves sledding - Zach is fascinated with angels and snowball fights. WE LOVE SNOW DAYS! The pictures of the boys below are from the one semi-snowy day we've had this winter - Dec. '08. Here's wishing, hoping and praying for lots of snow before spring arrives!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Support group

So, Bryan lost his job yesterday and I lost part of my volunteer work today.. The support group was very small to start with, so I knew we could be facing trouble encouraging them to stick with it. Tonight was supposed to be meeting number two, but each of the ladies dropped out. I know that there is an enormous need for this ministry at our church, in our community and around the world, so we will not give up. I don't even know what the word for this feeling is, except to say that I'm heartsick and disappointed. Please be praying for the ladies who have decided not to go through the support group right now. Pray specifically that they will seek His healing and restoration in their lives. Pray also for God's direction in what to do next. Do we shoot for another group in a month or so? Do we wait till next fall? What do we do and how do we do it? In the mean time, the online ministry is alive and well. In three weeks, the blog has received over 640 visits! Praise God.

My friend sent me this link today... "Praise You in the Storm" by Casting Crowns Thanks, Lisa!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Come as a little child

Zach's glasses have been giving him trouble since getting the new frames in. For some reason, he's getting horribly bruised by one of the nose pieces and it has even caused some skin irritation. We've been back to the optician four times in ten days to have them readjusted, etc. But now he's in so much pain that he hasn't worn his glasses for a couple of days. We're giving his bruise and skin time to heal. As he went to bed the first night (Monday) we prayed for quick and complete healing so that he can resume wearing the glasses. We took at look at his face first thing yesterday morning, and it was MUCH better. The first words out of Zach's mouth were, "God could do all that in just one night? Wow!" What a sweet and precious reminder to give God the glory in all things, and to pray with faith and expectation. He didn't think "Awesome meds!" or "Great idea Mom and Dad to stop wearing glasses for a few days." He knew it is all God.

"For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room and said, 'I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.'" Matthew 18:4-5 (The Message)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Times they are a changing... again.

You know that Bryan is a union electrician, but you may not know exactly what that means when it comes to job assignments, etc. Basically, if you're familiar with temp/contract work, that's similar. He is a member of the local union - that's where he pays his dues and gets his insurance, pension, etc. from. When he's out of work, he signs in (similar to signing in at a dr's office) out at the union hall and he gets in line for a job. As jobs come in, there is no matching up for the most qualified person, seniority, etc. You just get called when the job gets to your number. If you accept the call (job assignment), then you go to work for whatever contractor has that call in and you become their employee. That contractor can send you wherever they want, whenever (within their local union boundaries). And when they run out of work, you either get laid-off (sent back to the hall to repeat the signing in and waiting procedure), or if they like you they will try their best to "sit you at home" (furlough) until work comes up and they can send you back out to another job. A furlough is the contractor's only way of "choosing" their employees and their only way to attempt to reward good workers. It can backfire for the worker though, as you NEVER know when they will get more work.

The contractor Bryan currently works for depends largely on the car plants for their work. Since the local car plants are having such a difficult time, Bryan's contractor has steadily been losing work... This morning Bryan was told that he could either choose a lay-off or be furloughed. This is always a difficult decision, as you never know what the better route will be. Our typical lay-off experience has involved about 6 months of unemployment (with unemployment pay), but furloughs can be for many months (without any pay) and with no guarantee of a job. If the contractor never gets work, you can end up laid-off in the end and way back on the books. We've have friends that have been without work for over a year and a half.

Bryan has to make this decision by lunch time. Please be praying that God will clearly direct which way we should go. And, obviously be praying that he will return to work sooner rather than later. This is always a scary situation and, frankly, today I'm hating it. The bright side is that we will get more family time in the coming months than most people will all year. We are always blessed by the incredible amounts of time we get to spend together, and God has always been so faithful to provide all that we need. It is times like this that I am so completely in awe of God's provision and how He is loving us and taking care of us even when we do not know it or even know Him. When we bought this house seven years ago, we were not in relationships with the Lord, so we certainly were not praying about what house to buy. Bryan and I both worked and earned a good living. We knew we wanted a family soon and that I would quit working, but I wasn't house hunting with that in mind. I fell in love with this really big house, but we kept looking since it was on a busy street. We found the house we're in now, and it was about 60 grand less than the big one that I wanted. I kept telling Bryan that we could afford more, but in the end this one was just perfect for us. When we bought this house, we were both steadily employed and had never been faced with unemployment. Six months later, Bryan was laid-off for the first time. For the next four years, Bryan was laid off half the year, every year. I praise God for this smaller house with it's much smaller house payment and lower utility bills. He knew what we would one day face and intervened so that I could remain a stay-at-home mom and still have all of our needs more than met. God is so good.


We are officially laid-off. Thanks so much to all of you who have emailed, called and prayed for us. We have such amazing friends!! Bryan decided that taking the lay-off made more sense than being furloughed, so he collected his last paycheck and headed out to the hall to sign in after work today. His foreman was upset all day that he was having to let Bryan go, so that was complimentary and uplifting for Bryan. This lay-off was absolutely nothing personal and they did everything they could to keep him - there simply isn't any work.

Bryan talked to several of his friends who are in the know and he feels pretty optimistic that it won't be a super long lay-off this time. He's thinking maybe two months.

Zach was very excited to hear the news and didn't waste any time asking Bryan to volunteer in his class at school. So, Bryan will be doing that in the very near future. It is always such a blessing to get extra family time. We will have to come up with some nearly-free things to do with our time!

Thank you again for the many ways you have reached out to us and demonstrated your friendship. We appreciate you more than you know. Love you all!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some January pics

Baby Batman... Little Lukey loves to wear his big brother's Batman costume - complete with dish towel cape!

I walked into the living room and found the boys watching TV together - one on top of the other. What sweet brothers. Wish it was always this peaceful and loving! When one is on top of the other there is generally a fair amount of wrestling and fussing.

Luke LOVES breakfast! He would eat his weight in pancakes, bacon, eggs, cereal or waffles if we'd let him! And, obviously, I did let him have whatever he wanted this day.. Pancakes, yogurt, pudding and a buffet of beverages - water, pink milk, white milk and apple juice. I can't remember why I let him have his way like this. I guess it just wasn't the battle I was willing to pick that day.

Luke in boots.. Right now he can't get enough of this Bob the Builder hat and has new camo boots. He also loves to talk on the phone and is generally at some degree of undress (he is wearing undies here - you just can't see them)... This picture captures a pretty accurate state of affairs around our house!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The land of Botox and... Accutane?

Zach has had a rash on his abdomen since last summer. It's not ultra noticeable, doesn't itch, hasn't spread... I'd actually forgotten that it was there since I rarely see him topless anymore. But, my friend mentioned a skin disorder that her daughter has and it reminded me to take a peek at Zach's rash. Since it was still there, I decided to take him to the dermatologist (his ped saw it three months ago). We went yesterday at 4pm. It was packed! You know who gets out of school shortly before 4pm? Teenagers! They were everywhere. There were no two seats together, so Zach decided he wanted to sit on my lap. Plus, he'd fallen asleep in the car, so he just wanted to be cuddled. All these teenagers were there - many were dressed as if they'd just rolled out of bed and they STILL looked better than I do after a shower and make-up - and I was there looking 35 and with a child squirming in my lap. Their teenage skin was gorgeous. Why were they there? I'd decided that if I ever wanted to feel bad about myself, this is the place to be at 4pm M-F. The dr was running about 30 minutes behind schedule, so we had the pleasure of hanging out with all the pretty people in the lobby. Finally Zach's name was called. We met the nurse - very nice. She left us alone to wait for the doc (nurse practitioner, actually) and I picked up one of their pretty brochures. "Want to look younger? We've got what you need!" All sorts of treatments were listed, all of which made me cringe in pain. Then I noticed the bio of their nurse practitioners. No colleges listed, but it was quick to inform me that they've been trained by nationally renown doc's in Botox! Botox? What am I doing here? (No judgements if you use Botox, I'm just saying that I have more serious problems with my appearance that need to be taken care of before I can even think about what Botox would fix.)

Pretty soon the nurse practitioner arrived. She was gorgeous, well-dressed, had a huge mane of gorgeous curls, and (of course!) clear skin. She was SO sweet with Zach, high-energy, just what I would look for in a pediatric doc, not an adult doc (they see adults & kids). I was expecting stuffy, hurried and cerebrial. She looked at his abdomen, said she didn't think it was anything serious, and asked if she could bring the doc in to get his opinion before making the diagnosis. So, he came in and was equally wonderful with Zachary. How great!! Zach has a rash that is usually seen on the legs, very rarely the torso. Nothing serious - it will go away on it's own within a year or we can treat with meds if we want it to go away a little sooner. Since meds weren't necessary, we decided to skip 'em.

They are very nice around here... Maybe this isn't so bad after all???

So, I did it.. I broke their cardinal rule that's posted on several walls througout the practice, "If you are not the patient with today's appointment, we cannot treat you or give you advice. Please schedule an appointment." But, they were both so nice and I just had a quick question - I didn't want anyone to treat me today. Just wanted to know if there was hope for me. So, I apologized for breaking their rule and said that I've tried many things for my skin and have just given up. They were both compassionate (didn't know that existed in the land of the beautiful - I've never had a derm actually care!) and said that they believed they could help me. In fact, the doc asked the nurse practitioner if she could stay and fit me in right then! She had to pick her kids up from day care though, so instead she helped to fit me in (a new patient) next Tuesday afternoon. The plan is to put me on Accutane. She said the drug is not nearly as scary as it once was and works for virtually everyone. The greatest thing - most times it clears acne forever! I cannot even allow myself to think about that, as it's completely overwhelming to think that I might one day have clear skin. I have no idea how much it's going to cost us, but my amazing husband asked, "Does it even matter?" He knows how badly I want to be acne-free. Actually, not even acne-free, just not so acne-overwhelmed!

So.. Maybe the reason for all the beautiful faces in the lobby is ACCUTANE. And maybe beautiful people are not to be feared. They didn't bite and I think I may have finally found a derm that I feel comfortable with.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Delightful Luke...

Those of you who've talked to me recently have likely noticed that I've been feeling a bit out-matched by Luke. He is so stubborn, wants to do everything himself, feels that screaming and yelling are always appropriate, and sometimes throwing himself down on the ground is necessary too. I honestly do appreciate his driven, self-sufficient nature... just not when I'm trying to buckle him into his car seat, get in and out of somewhere quickly, or safely get across a busy parking lot.

From the moment he wakes up, he's doing everything for himself. If I turn on the light, he is immediately reduced to tears (he wanted to do it!). For breakfast, he will get everything out himself and prepare it - thank you very much! Seriously - he gets the pancakes out of the freezer, decides how many he wants, gets a plate, and then asks me to lift him up so he can put them in the microwave. He opens the door himself, pushes the buttons, watches as they cook, gets the syrup out, helps pour the syrup, helps cut, etc. I have to constantly remind myself that this is a good thing, as he will be able to do so much for himself before I know it!

I mentioned that taking him places is a challenge. At church this past Sunday, there were two noticeable outbursts in a matter of ten minutes. We were all happily playing and chatting with friends outside the preschool classrooms when Luke spotted the opened doors with their door stops. He wanted the doors closed, so he yanked the stop out (we were 10 feet away yelling for him to stop). Zach saw this happening, so he caught the door before it slammed on someone. A fight ensued - one kid wanting the door opened, the other wanting it closed. This is a VERY high-traffic area, so there's no doubt that everyone else wanted it open and for my kids to step away. Not happening. Luke threw himself onto the ground in a full-blown fit. Other parents and children carefully walked around him, while I scooped my child up off the floor, explained (again) that the doors must remain open and that he was headed to time-out for disobeying and for throwing the fit. He sat in time-out and cried loudly, causing quite a scene. A few minutes later, it was time for me to go teach Sunday school. Bryan and the boys headed out to the van -- only Luke wanted to go out the front doors and we were parked in back! He took off running at full speed, sending Bryan and Zach chasing after him into the busy front doors of the church. (I'm talking 1,000+ people coming into the building!) He threw himself down onto the ground again. Bryan scooped him up and carried him through the lobby throwing a tantrum. Once in the van, he refused to get buckled into his car seat. By refused, I mean his body goes stiff, he hits, he kicks, he screams -- and the parent appears to be abusing the child! This is always a nuisance. Bryan ended up sitting in the van for quite some time just waiting for him to calm down. This is when we say Luke is "holding the family hostage" with his tantrums.

I have tried to take a slightly different approach this week... I'm spending more one-on-one time with each boy, and spending more quiet time with the two of them - reading, coloring, snuggling in bed, playing a game, something like that... If nothing else, this helps me to remain less frazzled when the fits do come. But, honestly, I think it helps the kids to be less frazzled too. I am also trying to be consistent in how I respond to Luke's fits. If he wants to throw a fit, he must do so where we cannot hear him. He's allowed to rejoin us when his fit is over. This obviously doesn't solve the car seat drama or take care of busy parking lots, but hopefully we can discipline the fits at home consistently enough that it will reduce the in-public or in-the-car fits.

Another thing that I have found helpful is taking the time to notice and praise Luke for all the amazing things he does. When I don't do that, I find that I'm spending the entire day butting heads with him. And Luke is amazing... He is very sweet - out of the blue he will come up to his brother and say, "I love you, Zach." He is hysterically funny - he loves knock-knock jokes and has a huge belly laugh! He loves to help around the house and is very good at it. He has very creative ideas. He loves his dog and actually takes care of him! He is actually saying, "excuse me, Apollo" right now as he tries to get a toy out from under him... Luke is delightful.

Every parent needs to remember to see their children in their entirety and not as just one trait. That can be hard to do when the one (not-so-enjoyable) trait is glaringly obvious, but overcoming the frustration and seeing their entire character drastically changes everything.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Surprise movie!

When the kids decide that they want to watch a movie, one of two things usually happens... They either watch the same move over and over again, or they fight over what they are going to watch. One day (I think they were fighting), Bryan came up with the best idea! (Around our house, Bryan is better at that than I am.) So, anyway, they were bickering (I think) and Bryan declared that we were going to watch SURPRISE MOVIE! He said it with loads of excitement - you'd think he was talking about Christmas or banana splits for dinner! The kids were immediately sold. Bryan selected a movie that the kids haven't seen in ages. They loved it and have been asking for surprise movie ever since! What a relief... Little to no arguing over the TV and no more Jungle Book everyday. Thank God for Daddy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Three days and counting

Luke has been in underwear since Thursday - usually three pairs of underwear, to be precise! He loves them and can rarely choose just one. It's usually a combo of a pair of Bob the Builder, with Batman on top of that, and then Madagascar on the very top! Something like that... So, anyway, Luke has been using the restroom since Thursday with no accidents. He hasn't ASKED to go to the restroom, but he holds his bladder between visits quite well! Zach on the other hand (who, by the way, did not give me permission to share this) waited till the very last second on Friday and had an accident while trying to untie his new slicky pants. He peed all the way into his shoes! So, Luke is doing very well and Zach's had better days. And ---- so much for my scoured bathroom! I knew that was a wasted effort.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A scoured bathroom?

I started the potty training process last night. Luke and I read a great book about potty training and went through all the underwear the he has to choose from. He was squealing and running around the house with some Buzz Lightyear ones, so I figured they'd be the natural choice for today. But, when it was time to get into bed, he asked if he could wear them. What could it hurt? So, I pulled them on over his jammies and he was thrilled to see them when he woke up this morning. We got right to using the restroom. He's gone several times today and so far so good. But, for some reason, I also decided that today would be the day I'd scour the main bathroom. Why would I do such a thing? Odds are it will be covered in pee from floor to ceiling before I know it! Gross.. Maybe I scoured because I know what I'm in for and wanted to start off with a fresh slate... or walls, toilet and floor as the case may be! The joys of boys.

Lesson learned through blurred vision

At 5:33 last night, Zach broke his glasses. BROKE. Bryan was right there when it happened. He said that all Zach did was push them back up his nose when he heard a pop and one of the pieces that goes back over the ear (what are those arm-things called?) just fell off. The whole arm-thing! Zach's only had glasses since October and we've made a lot of trips to the eyeglass store to get them readjusted because he swings them around (by one arm-thing), sees just how flexible they are, absent-mindedly twists them, puts them on over his forehead... you name it! The break last night was not Zach's fault, but we've told him that all the other times he's bent them up probably loosened them up enough that the just spontaneously broke. We rushed over to the eyeglass store before they closed last night, but they don't keep his frame in stock. So, they are ordering it and it might be next week before it's in. We did offer to pay for rush shipping if they could guarantee delivery by the end of the day on Friday... We'll see. We had to leave the broken glasses, so now he's completely without. He cried quite a bit last night... We comforted him, but also are allowing this lesson to sink in. The warranty only covers one replacement and this is it! Zach is sad that so much of what he's seeing is blurry now, but he's risen to the challenge. He woke up this morning and suggested that he should play Wii in order to see how good he is at Lego Batman without his glasses... Glad kids are so resilient!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The sound of silence

It is quiet for a change. I almost don't know what to think or write... Things have been pretty nutty around here over the past 10 days. Two Saturdays ago Bryan and Zach had a fun camp out in the living room. They pitched this giant tent, got out the sleeping bags, and even had flashlights. Zach was excited for this camping experience, so the lights went out earlier than I'd expected and Zach fell asleep quickly. That left Bryan just laying there on the living room floor staring up in the darkness... So, he slipped away to watch a little TV with me in our bedroom. After one show I told him he needed to get back to camping; afterall, Zach would be scared and upset if he woke up all alone. So, Bryan went back to the tent in the living room. He woke up the next morning with a stiff back; Zach woke up with a runny nose. Over the next couple of days, Zach's runny nosed turned into a cold. A cold that Luke caught a few days later, then I caught a few days after that, and Bryan caught a few days after that. In addition to the colds, the holidays are over! Bryan is back to working five days a week and Zach is back in school. I have been busy with ministry stuff, so the kids have been getting less of my attention than we all would like. However, the deadlines are quickly approaching and the work is close to complete, so I am enjoying a slower pace today. Yesterday we actually went to a friend's house to play for three hours! We had a fun time enjoying our friend's company with no agenda, no emails to get off, no phone calls to make, absolutely nothing to do but be together. This morning we had breakfast without fussing - I even sat down to eat! After breakfast, I cleared the dishes and we sat around coloring together. And after coloring, the boys sat in my lap for a little while and watched a movie with me. Then we all got dressed, ate a pleasant lunch, and then got Zach off to school. It has been a very nice day. I am usually grateful for rainy days that give us a good excuse to lounge around and do nothing.. Today I am grateful for a beautifully sunny yet bitterly cold day that gave me every reason to spend time quietly enjoying my kids for a morning.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bedtime battle zone

Bryan, bless his heart, is at the grocery store right now picking up a few odds and ends. I have been left at home to settle the boys into bed. Usually, this is easily accomplished and quite enjoyable... But, the kids were with a new babysitter while we went to small group tonight, we let them stay up later than usual, and they were wiped out when it came time to dress for bed (big mistake). Luke was particularly... challenging! Instead of going up for bed, he wanted to eat Apple Jacks (beginning of the meltdown). He would not go up willingly, so I had to carry him up (meltdown worsening). I laid him on his changing table and removed his pants (still crying, but settled a little). When I reached for his diaper, he started going nuts (mega-meltdown!). I managed to get it off, but he was clawing and screaming "MY DIAPER". Next thing I know, he's standing on the table as I reach for the diaper cream... He is furious, and jumps on the table, breaking it (AGAIN). This is the last straw. I tell him the table is broken forever and that Daddy is not going to fix it (Bryan has pieced this thing together more times that I wish to admit in the last month). I put it in the hallway and said no more changing table. Now he was crying, "MY TABLE! UP THERE!" I highly doubt he meant, "Mommy, I will cooperate if you just give me back my changing table." No.. I'm pretty sure he meant, "Who do you think you are, taking my changing table away?!" So, weary and frustrated, my plan is to start potty training and rid myself of this diapering dilemma once and for all. I expect that potty training won't be very fun either, but I'm hoping it is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As for Zach and his bed time routine tonight.. We usually giggle, read a book or two, snuggle, and pray together. Tonight, after leaving Luke's room, I walked down the hall to discover a huge lump under Zach's covers... Zach had pulled the covers over his head! When I said "What's going on, Buddy?" He said, "Too much crying. I went ahead and prayed. I just prayed what was in my heart. Good night, Mommy." I asked him to take another minute to pray with me - we prayed for Luke to be more cooperative, for Mommy to be more patient, and for all of us to find a better way to work with each other.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Favorite recipes

I love recipes that are fairly simple and turn out great every time.. Here are a few from my collection!

Tonya's Perfect Potato Soup
It's taken me years to finally get this soup the way I like it. ENJOY!

Bacon (I usually fry the whole pack and save the left-over bacon in a ziploc)
onion powder (or regular onion if you prefer)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil (or italian seasonings)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cans chicken broth
5 pounds potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1/2 cup half-and-half (or whipping cream -- also use milk, but will be a thinner soup)
1/2 cup sour cream
Shredded Cheddar cheese
***If consistency is creamier than you like, add a little milk to thin.

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes under about 1" of broth (add water if needed). Boil till potatoes are tender (approx 20 mins). In another saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute garlic (and onions if you're not using onion powder) in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil, pepper and onion powder; mix well. Add half-and-half and sour cream. Stir till smooth, then add to the potatoes and broth. Heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon and cheese.

Coke Roast with Carrots and Potatoes
Thank you, Dawn Ginther. This has been a staple around here since you brought it to us 2 1/2 years ago.

Shoulder or arm roast (can be frozen!)
Small bag of baby carrots
2 1/2 pounds of potatoes, sliced but not peeled
1 packet onion soup mix
1 can cream soup (chicken, celery or mushroom)
1 can soda (Coke, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper, diet works too!)

Place roast in roasting pan. Arrange carrots and potatoes around roast. Mix onion soup mix, cream soup and can of soda in a bowl - pour over roast & veggies. Cover with lid (or foil). Bake at 325 for 4-6 hours (till fork tender - I ususally bake for 6 hours). Check liquid level after 4 hours - add water as needed. Juices will make an excellent gravy!

Stew using left-over roast, potatoes and carrots
Got this idea from my friend T.J.

Slice what's left of the roast, potatoes & carrots into bite size pieces. After sliced, dump into large pan - adding all gravy too! Add cans of tomatoes, green beans, peas, corn, whatever you like in a stew... Add water and/or beef broth as needed. Salt & pepper to taste.


The boys and I have colds. Neither of the kids have slept well in a week, which of course means I haven't slept well. Lucky for Bryan, he could sleep through a tornado, so his slumber is rarely disturbed. At 1am this morning, Zach came to our room complaining of leg aches. I got out of bed, got him some Tylenol, had him use the rest room, and crawled into bed with him. I figured sleeping with him would be more restful than having him wake me up again every 10 minutes saying that they still hurt. So, I slept with him, which is generally never a great sleep. At 6:50am, he woke me up again. This time he was just twitching his leg - he must have inherited that from his dad. I didn't make a noise or move, hoping he'd go back to sleep. Suddenly, and in his full voice, he says, "Hey, Mom. You wanna hear about my greatest dream ever that I had last night?" So he carries on for the next 30 minutes telling me about his dream, then other favorite dreams, how much he loves me, then asks about my dreams, then interrupts with another dream about how we had another baby: "We named him Will.. Like my friend and our neighbor. I wonder how the neighbor Will is growing." (Neighbor Will is 3 1/2 months.) He goes on to tell me about (imaginary) brother Will's favorite toys at the age of 2 and 4. Then, without taking a breath, he said "Does Daddy have a day off today?" To which I grunt, "Uh huh". He sits straight up and says a bit loudly, "WHAT?" I say that Daddy does have a day off today. He throws the blankets off, crawls over me, jumps from the bed, runs down the hall, apparently shuts the door behind himself and crawls into bed with Daddy. I haven't seen either of them since! I guess that's Zach's way of saying THANK GOODNESS IT'S SATURDAY!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Determined", a polite way of saying strong-willed, even difficult at times

We knew very early on that Luke was a determined child. You should have seen him learning to roll over as an infant! We were eager to see how this determination was going to play out in his life, but we also knew that it would bring new challenges into our home... I had no idea that it would mean having a 2 1/2 year old arguing with me! He does not just do the opposite of what I've asked, say "no", or "I do it self". He certainly does those things, but the the full-on arguing is something I didn't expect for years to come. It is especially bad when trying to get him out of the tub or into a new diaper or outfit. It's impossible to force a kicking, screaming, 35 pound child into a diaper, so let the games begin! I usually end up putting him into his crib, bare-bottomed, till he calms down and finally agrees to a diaper. Not so fast this morning!!! He was insisting on a Pull-Up. The problem with Pull-Ups is that he is between sizes. The 2T/4T fits like a string bikini, but the 4T/5T sags, leaks, and causes really bad rashes. So, I was insisting on a diaper and he was insisting on a Pull-Up. He was screaming, bawling, kicking and stomping around his crib. I tried rationalizing, explaining, talking, leaving him alone for a while... I thought about crying, but was too tired. Then I remembered the ice cream sandwich he asked for yesterday. I suddenly started negotiating, "If you will put on a diaper, you can have an ice cream sandwich". He said "No. Pull-Up... And peanut butter & jelly." I finally coaxed him into the diaper with the promise of the ice cream sandwich and peanut butter and jelly sandwich - FOR BREAKFAST. Some may say I lost, but I say we both won. He's no longer crying and is wearing a well-fitting Pampers Cruiser, and he and Zach both enjoyed lunch and dessert for breakfast! I have no idea how I'm going to negotiate another diaper in a few hours.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Getting in touch with my roots

Thanks to products like Sun-In and peroxide, spiral perms and eventually professional highlights, I haven't seen my natural hair color since I was about 12 years old. I think we're still in shock at just how dark my hair really is! Zach says he liked it better "blond'ish" and I've agreed to go back to highlighting if the darker hair doesn't grow on us (pun intended). It seemed pretty severe and shocking at first, but I think I like it...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Christmas miracle?

A quick picture snapped as we were leaving for church. I think this is the only one I managed to get of the boys together in front of the tree and both looking at the camera!

What's in a name?

No, we haven't taken on a gaggle of boys... The house is loud, toy guns are everywhere, the kids battle all day long, Lego Star Wars for PS2 and Lego Batman for Wii are all the rage, and we have a basketball goal set up in the basement! It seems that everything that comes through our front door is male, except for yours truly. I have one husband, two sons and a male dog. We had some fish for about two years and I'm pretty sure even they were boys! So, I'm just one girl among a bunch of amazing boys. I wouldn't have it any other way.

A first time blogger

I have never even posted to a blog, let alone considered having one of my own! However, it's a new year, so I'm trying new things... We've got a handful of out-of-town family and friends, not to mention all the local friends and family that we just don't see or talk to often enough. So, I'm hoping that this will be a fun way to keep in touch and share our lives with you. Happy new year!