Friday, October 31, 2008

Funny Phillip Quote of the Day

Phillip asked Nathanael a question, and he didn't hear an answer. I didn't hear an answer either, but Andrew and Nathanael both insisted that Nathanael had answered. To which Phillip replied,

"I heard him very clearly, and he didn't say a word!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Phillip's latest book

Today I found a three-page "book" made of notebook paper taped together. The title on the 1st page said,

"SUPERPJM 2 And The Cell Phone."




Page 2 said, "Once upon a time there was a cell phone on the ground




And page 3 concludes our story with this scintillating climax:


SUPERPJM saw it and said heres my cell phone



You just gotta love that kid.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Guess I'd better catch up

Someone pointed out to me that I haven't posted anything here for a while. So I guess I need to catch up!

Most of my writing time is devoted to my "Just Another Clay Pot" blog. It's beginning to grow, slowly but steadily. That's an encouragement.

Let's see. What news is there?

We're definitely chilly at night now, and the leaves are changing colors full-force. Unfortunately many are also falling already. The color is lovely around here, but it doesn't last as long as it does in, say, the Carolinas. Or so I'm told.

Goodness, I can't think of much to say. Life is busy with three outside-the-home Bible studies, the blogs, the kids, the house, the cooking, writing a weekly poem based on spelling words for Andrew's class, the weekly writing contest...

Nathanael is in Lego Robotics. LEGO mindstormImage by Jinho.Jung via FlickrHave I mentioned that? He could use prayer in that, because he's finding it really hard to work with others. Of course we talk and talk and reason with him about it, but right now he's just not getting it. His meetings are 2-1/2 hours long, twice-weekly after school.









Going to the orthodontist for braces repair is also a weekly thing. Nathanael doesn't usually abuse them. Yesterday morning a wire broke when he was eating Cheerios! So needless to say, I'm a bit frustrated with how often they're breaking. I don't understand why it's happening.

Phillip's latest project is designing a city he calls "Rat Collins." That's not intended as a disparaging comment at all. Phillip loves rats. They're his favorite animals. When he mentions them, he pronounces it, "Reeeeaaaaaats," and he puts on a funny creaky voice. Anyway, he's designing all sorts of details into Rat Collins (mostly street maps and charts of all of the railroad tracks). You just never know what he'll be "into" next.Rail tracks.Image via Wikipedia












I can't think of anything else. Perhaps something new and exciting will happen tomorrow.

I hope not. We have enough excitement around here...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What is rice?

Uncooked pre-steamed long riceImage via Wikipedia We were eating dinner tonight when Phillip looked up at me and said, "Rice is basically shredded starch."

I just figured I ought to share that so you all could become as enlightened as I became.

Things are going pretty well around here. Today was an incredibly busy writing day. Of all the times to get hit with inspiration, I got it this morning while the kids were getting ready for school. I was able to get a good start on the next contest entry before going off to Bible study. After the study was the leaders' meeting, and then once I got back I worked on the entry some more. It's still not done, but it's coming along. Unfortunately so is the deadline. I have to get it done tomorrow. But in addition to that I also finished writing the answers to the interview questions for the FaithReaders site.

Oh wait, I looked through my earlier entries, and it seems that I never wrote about that. I really thought I had. Okay, here goes. The FaithWriters site has a sister site called FaithReaders. It's just a site that provides family-friendly reading material that people can read online or download for free. It's all stuff written by FaithWriters people. Anyway, they wrote and asked me if I was willing to be interviewed as the featured author for their site. I would be "featured" for a couple of weeks in October. I said I'd be honored to do that, so that's the interview that I just finished. It was done in writing, not face-to-face or anything like that.

So anyway, that took a while to write, and then I worked on writing the weekly spelling word poem for Andrew's third-grade class to use. Then I finished writing a blog entry for Just Another Clay Pot, and now I'm writing this. Whew! Good thing I use a keyboard and not a pen, or I'd have permanent writer's cramp by now.

It's been a good day. Well...except for one problem. Phillip has a way of "blacklisting" people. Once you're on his blacklist, you tend to stay there. And I seem to have been at least partially blacklisted. He won't do homework if I'm the adult in charge, but he'll do it for Dad. And he doesn't want me to spend time with him at bedtime...only Dad. Oh well. Kids do these sorts of things. I give consistent consequences, but only he can make himself learn from them. And I make sure we have good times in other ways, so the lines of communication remain open.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Mary and I have started attending a once-a-month Beth Moore Bible study. I would not have dreamed of taking on another Bible study, but since this one meets so infrequently, I figured I could handle it. It's nice to get to go with Mary, too. The Study is called, "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things." I think it will be very good.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Home and Happy

Phillip and John got home around 2:00 this afternoon.  Phillip was all bubbly and happy over what a great time he had.  I asked him to tell me about it, and even asked some pretty pointed questions, but I didn't learn much about the things he did.  I DID learn a street-by-street account of the route that they took home, the layout of the camp, and the fact that he had belched loudly in the cabin at the exact moment that his father had been reading in a book about children who belch loudly in public.  He also informed me that he wasn't afraid of heights anymore, but I didn't hear why.  He's been up in the mountains plenty of times before, so I'm not sure what made the difference here.  Anyway, it was good to see him so happy.  And the best part was his report of what he liked best about Eco Week.  "The best part was being with my DAD at Eco Week," he said (with great enthusiasm and emphasis on the word "Dad.")

Then at 6:00 all three boys were at "Pit Stop," the once-monthly fun time that Faith E-Free church puts on for special needs kids and their siblings.  I went to a monthly crafting group meeting and did mini jigsaw puzzles while the kids played themselves silly at the church.

I imagine Phillip will sleep like a rock tonight.  I know I will.

Have I mentioned that Nathanael has started doing Lego Robotics again?  That is a good thing for him, I think.

That's all I can think of right now, probably because my noggin is so groggy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ok, I'll admit it, I cried...

When Phillip's bus left this morning, taking him and his suitcase to school, I cried. He'll be gone until Friday afternoon. When I think about how far he's come, and how little hope there seemed to be for him back when he was two or three...how can I not be moved?

Now it's about 8:15 at night, and I've gotten a brief email from John. It says, "Having a great time."

I plan to get to bed early tonight. Maybe I can shake this headache...

So glad things are going well at Pingree Park!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Too busy to write much

View from the trail of the Koenig Homestead at...Image via Wikipedia
Life has been just plain busy lately. Lots of running around. No point in getting too boring with the details. You all know running around as well as I do.

I did manage to get an entry written for this week's Writing Challenge. I'm not too thrilled with it, but oh well. It was what I could do with the time I had.

Today we had our first meeting for this semester of the WOW Bible study. I'm an assistant leader this semester, so I will have a 1-hour meeting to attend after each 2-hour weekly class. The meeting is optional for assistants, but I plan to attend pretty regularly. The study also entails homework during the week, so it's a bit of a commitment, but it's well worth it.

Tomorrow Phillip and John start their Eco Week adventure! Oh wait, I just checked back over previous entries, and I never told you about Eco Week. That's probably because I had thought that Phillip wouldn't be going. Eco Week is a three day, two night rustic experience at Pingree Park, which is at about 9,000 feet in elevation. (The photo above was taken there.) The entire 5th and 6th grade will be going. Phillip hadn't wanted to go, and I wasn't going to push for it. There are many complications involved in sending him. But bless John's heart, he decided to rent a cabin for himself up there and go along, so he could be there for Phillip if needed. The biggest help is just the fact that Phillip can sleep in that cabin instead of with the big barnful of other kids. His fear of the dark and his incontinence will not be nearly as big an issue that way. And we won't be worried about him having major meltdowns and ruining everything for everyone else. It's a two-hour drive each way, winding through Poudre Canyon a lot of the way, so it would be a real bummer to get a phone call at 11pm saying, "Come get him, this isn't working!" Phillip is pretty excited about it now, especially since finding out that the bathrooms aren't outhouses!

As for funny kid stories, well, I've got one. Andrew got some dirt and put it out in the middle of the cul-de-sac this evening. He explained to me that, "if any of the dirt is gone tomorrow, we'll know that lightning struck there."

Au revoir for now!
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Another happy contest result!

I'm thrilled to report that my entry in this week's FaithWriters challenge, "Puttin' Up With Patience" came in 2nd place overall out of 191 entries! I wasn't sure how well a story set in a hard-drinking Wild West saloon would go over, but I guess they didn't mind.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday already

This is getting a bit old. Nathanael is not eating contraband foods, but his braces are needing repair on a weekly basis. This time instead of a wire, it's a whole bracket that has come undone. Grrrrr.

Last night we had a meeting for all of the workers in the "Women of the Word" Bible study. This is my first time acting as an assistant, so I had to get a feel for my new responsibilities. They don't sound heavy.

Several days ago I went to a parent orientation with Andrew's teacher, and I told her that I wanted to find some way to volunteer, but that I was not designed to interact with groups of children. We talked about how I might be able to use writing to contribute to the class, and I came up with an idea that she really liked. We implemented it for the first time this week. She sent home a list of the week's spelling words, and I wrote a poem around them. Every time I used a spelling word in the poem, I replaced it with dashes. The kids would have to figure out which word it was based on what it had to rhyme with in the rest of the stanza. Well, it worked out great. The teacher and the kids loved the poem, I enjoyed writing it, and Andrew was thrilled that Mom had contributed. An all-around positive experience.

Fall is definitely falling around here. It's lovely, cool weather, but we're not seeing changing colors yet.

Phillip has been doing better in children's church. He's not been causing any problems for the past two weeks, and so both John and I have been able to stay in the service and enjoy it. Hooray!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Funniest Markman Story In A While


This morning one of my offspring (who shall remain nameless) wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing, which was showering to get ready for school. When I found this out (by communication with him over the intercom), I asked him what he had been doing.
He replied, "Well, I stuck something on my face and I couldn't get it off."
I said, "You stuck something on your face?"
"Yeah, you know, you have this stash of things next to your toilet in your bathroom, and I stuck one of those on my face..."

If you're not laughing yet, just think about it...

In another less scandalous event, Phillip and Andrew were helping to fill up a pot with water for cooking. I told them it had too much water in it, and Phillip asked, "Is it possible to refill the faucet?"

Today we helped Mary get moved into her new housing. It's a definite step up for her, and most importantly, she won't be suffering from the terrible health problems brought on by living with a persistent gas leak (multiple attempts to get it fixed failed). She thinks that all she'll need is one more day to finish the move.

We're glad the DNC is over. Even though Denver is 60 miles from here, we're convinced that all of the hot air and "blowing smoke" at the convention was responsible for the terrible smog we were experiencing up here.


(Photo from Stock.xchng by bigevil600)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The latest FaithWriters contest results have been announced. My entry, "The Ball at Gentian Manor," came in 28th out of 192. (The given topic had been "Charade.") This entry was a different sort of work for me, because I chose to go with a touch of romance and mystery. It's amazing how challenging it can be to get a whole story packed into 750 words or fewer!

The topic we're supposed to write about this week is "Truth or Dare." Hmmm...nothing is popping immediately to mind. But then again, things rarely pop immediately to mind.

I was able to get quite a few extraneous words chopped out of the first few scenes of "Dying for Answers." That felt good.

Nathanael called me from school because he had another orthodontic crisis. I had a mere half-hour to get dressed (shame on me, I was still in PJ's), drive down to the school, check Nathanael out at the office, and then drive him to the orthodontist. If I didn't get there by that time, we would be out of luck. The doctor was leaving then to catch a plane in Denver, and the office wouldn't be open again until Tuesday. Thank the Lord, we made it in time!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Busy, busy day


Wow, I think this is a first for me, completing a new weekly menu that's safe for diabetics, getting all of the grocery shopping done, and all of the laundry done in one day. I am so thankful to the Lord for His help!

Phillip did much better on his homework tonight, meaning a better attitude and effort. I think some mathematical concepts may have gone "click" for him tonight, which is really nice.

I think the kids' new allowances will definitely turn out to be a very positive thing. We have explained to them that their allowances are not payment for their chores. We give allowances so they can learn responsibility and just as a nice "perk." But one of the ways they are to learn responsibility is by accepting financial responsibility when they damage or break something, or when someone else has to take up the slack for a chore they didn't do. We haven't started deducting anything from their allowances yet, because we wanted to give them a grace period. But they know that it will start soon. And I explained to them how much money I would have deducted today if it had started already. It made an impression. I've never seen Phillip race upstairs to make his bed so enthusiastically. He was even saying very emphatically, "I'm GOING to do this. I'm not going to let anyone else do it for me!" This from a boy who used to constantly whine about needing help with bed-making!

I got an estimate today on how much a professional editor would charge to go over "Dying for Answers." Because my book is so huge, the fee is also huge (even with a significant discount). It made me decide that it was time to start trimming fat off of that book. Maybe after I've reduced its size a good bit I'll get another estimate. It felt good to start serious work on that particular manuscript again, though I had little time to devote to writing today, and was only able to trim off about 65 words from the first scene. There will be more.

I'd best be off to bed!

(Photo from Stock.xchng by kvohsen)

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Great Big Humongous Blessing

Some of you may know that we've had a particular financial sword hanging over our heads for about a year now, caused by the antics of our youngest son and his friend next door. Last summer they were throwing rocks, and of course I stopped them when I saw them. But a couple of days later our new neighbor on the other side called me over and showed me some minuscule dents on his hood, and one of the distinctively-shaped rocks on his driveway. Honestly, I could barely see the dents, but they looked huge to him. I knew Andrew had been throwing the rocks, and so we agreed to cover part of the cost of fixing the dents. Our neighbor to the South, whose son was also throwing rocks, agreed to do the same.

The lowest estimate that he got was something like $800.00

We were in shock. Felt absolutely sick about it. The neighbor was polite, but insistent that this had to be taken care of, because it was important to him. What could we say? He showed us the estimates.

Well, thank the Lord our neighbor wasn't very hurried about getting the work done. I think he felt worse about the cost than he let on. So it didn't get done and it didn't get done, but of course we were always waiting for that axe to drop on us.

Well, tonight he came over and seemed much more relaxed than usual. He told John that Honda had admitted that the paint on his car was defective. (Lots more little marks had been showing up in the interim.) They're now going to repaint the car for free, and the dent removal will cost less than $100. We are very, very grateful!

Andrew got to ride the school bus for the first time today. He was totally psyched up about it, but I suspect from his lackadaisical response this afternoon that it wasn't as thrilling as he'd hoped it would be.

Phillip is trying to get away with murder over homework already. John and I presented a united front tonight, and it had an effect that we hope will last for a while.

My computer was dead for a while today. When John came home he quickly diagnosed the problem by turning it over (it's a laptop). He found that the fan was completely clogged with dust, so the unit was overheating. Quickly fixed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

First week of School is over!

Nathanael is now out of his special podiatric shoe. He still won't be able to participate in PE for a while, though. Not until early October.

Phillip did well in children's church today. He participated, answered questions, and behaved well. They never had to come and get us, so we enjoyed an uninterrupted sermon for the first time in a while.

John took the plunge and got a buzz cut. He's still a little shocked when he looks in the mirror, but I think it looks fine on him. I am now the only un-buzzed person in the house. Don't worry...the peer pressure isn't getting to me.

I'm starting to think seriously about trying some freelance writing. I'm getting a great deal of really strong encouragement from the folks at FaithWriters, so I'm getting up some courage.

John has put down some indoor/outdoor carpeting on our back patio. It looks nice.

Can't think of much else, but that's probably because I'm half asleep.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kinda thought things would slow down...

Things haven't slowed down since school started. I keep hoping, but it hasn't happened.

I drove Andrew to school this morning, then drove straight to the Jr. High to pick up Nathanael for his emergency orthodontic repair. It wasn't time for me to pick him up yet, but it would have been ridiculous to go home and then have to turn around so soon. So I sat and read a book in the Jr. High office until it was time to take Nathanael. Then I sat and read in the orthodontist's office for a while. Then I ferried Nathanael back to school. Then I went home and took inventory of my pantries and refrigerator/freezers compared to what I would need for this week's recipes. Then it was off to Sam's Club, and then off to Wal-Mart. Then home just an hour before it was time to go pick up Andrew, and of course there were chores...

And then the kids were home. And there was homework, and kids' chores...

I learned this week that the quality of gasoline you buy can have a HUGE impact on your gas mileage. I usually buy gas at Safeway, just because it's handy. But a couple of Sundays ago we needed to stop somewhere because we were way low on gas, and so we filled up at a convenience store that's also close to home. I could tell pretty quickly that this must have been lousy gas, because my mileage stank. I filled up again today and figured it out, and I'd gotten only 16 mpg! That's far and away the worst I've ever gotten in this car; almost as bad as the big SUV we got rid of. Normally I get 22 or more mpg.

I had heard you could get really good gasoline at one particular place in town, and it wasn't far from Wal-Mart, so I went there today. It remains to be seen what happens to my mileage, but I think it's a good sign that there was no "Contains Ethanol" sticker on the pump.

One cool thing was that I gave the kids "buzz cuts" for the first time. (It's not the first time they've had buzz cuts, but it's the first time I've been brave enough to be the one wielding the clippers.) It was so easy...I can't imagine why I used to think I wasn't qualified to do that. It feels good saving all that money by doing it myself. So, in honor of the occasion, I'm including one of my favorite photos. I didn't take it myself. It's a picture of my great-nephew J.J. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home alone

Woman of the 1920's wearing a full-length hous...Image via Wikipedia Wow, it was the first day that I had all three boys in school. I asked the Lord to help me remember that having the house to myself wasn't the same as having the house FOR myself. In other words, I wanted to be faithful to do the housework for the family, not just do what I wanted to do because I had the run of the place.

So, I got a whole list of housework done. It's a good feeling. It is amazing how much easier it is to get it done when you can keep a focus!

I thought it was cool that Zemanta found this photo of a 1920's -style house apron in response to the fact that I had written about housework. But I don't know what to make of the hat. That looks more like one of those bizarre hats that nurses used to wear. But anyway you dress it, housework is housework. I think it had it easier in my shorts, though.

This afternoon I went to pick up Andrew from school, and since the school has a tiny parking lot, I left a little early. I had a couple of minutes to kill so I was working on memory verses in the car, until a Yellow Jacket came and joined me in there. For some reason I felt motivated to leave the vehicle at that time. Oh, and I should mention that I got a call on my cell phone while I was sitting there. It was from Nathanael, informing me that he had gotten on the wrong bus and was "somewhere." He didn't know where he was, but he said they were bringing him home. He seemed fine, so we ended the call.

Ok, so now I was leaving the car, but the kids still weren't out, so I went over to where Phillip's bus was parked, and I introduced myself to the driver. We had talked a good bit on the phone, and I knew he was very nice, and that he had been trying to get the District to allow him to drive Andrew despite the lack of paperwork. So I wanted to thank him for that. He asked me if I had heard about Nathanael, because he'd been hearing about the situation on his bus radio. He had subbed a few times last year on Phillip and Nathanael's bus, so he knew Nathanael belonged to me. He ended up acting as a radio liaison between myself and the driver of the bus that Nathanael was in. Poor Nathanael ended up all the way out in the neighboring town of Timnath, where he had to get off the bus (with a kind adult bus assistant who waited with him) while another bus from Fort Collins drove out there to pick him up. They delivered him to our door only about an hour and fifteen minutes late. Then, just a few minutes after he got home, the wire broke on his braces. I called the Orthodontist's office, and the doctor was gone for the day. They told me they didn't have any openings tomorrow, but they would try to squeeze him in. Nathanael was able to finagle it into a position where it's not bothering him TOO much. But it was quite a day for him.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Boy, was this ever a Monday!


Well, it started out pretty well. I got up at 6:00, which is way early for this night owl. Especially since this particular night owl had stayed up late the night before, against her better judgment. Anyway, we got Nathanael to his bus on time, and then I went back to bed. I didn't get up until I heard that the other kids were up. Shortly after that it dawned on me that Nathanael hadn't taken his morning medicines. So I had to pile the kids into the car and drive the medicines down to the school. After that I made a quick trip to the grocery store and went back home. Then I spent a while getting tonight's dinner ready and into the crock pot.

Then I remembered that I needed to go by Phillip's school and sign some paperwork which then needed to be faxed to his doctor. Until the doctor faxes back his signed copy, the school isn't allowed to administer his medications, and that would mean a round trip every day (until it's signed) to give it to him myself. Needless to say, I wanted to get that signed and faxed ASAP. So I piled the kids back in the car and ran down there, but was amazed to find the office darkened and the doors locked. Somebody came and let me in and informed me that the office staff were all in a confidential meeting and could not be disturbed. "Can you come back in half an hour?" I said I'd hang around instead.

So we decided it would be a great opportunity to help the kids find their classrooms. We already planned to come back to the school tonight for the ice cream social, and we planned to find the classrooms then. But since we were already there, why not look for it now? Well it turns out to be a good thing that we did, because to our total shock we found out that Andrew wasn't registered with the district at all. I distinctly remember filling out all the paperwork and being told that everything was in order, way back before the last school year ended. John remembers me doing the paperwork, too, so I know I didn't imagine it. But somehow it got lost, and Andrew wasn't going to be allowed to start school tomorrow unless I got the paperwork filled out again. So there I sat, filling out paperwork for registration AND for medication. But I'm glad all of that happened when it did. It would have been too late in the day to get him registered if we hadn't found out the error until the ice cream social. Anyway, Andrew is now in the system and will be allowed to start school tomorrow. BUT I don't know if the doctor faxed the form yet, so I don't know if I'll have to make a special trip to administer Phillip's medications at lunchtime tomorrow. AND Andrew isn't yet authorized to ride the bus, though Phillip's driver went to bat for him. So until that bureaucratic hoop is jumped through, the bus will come to our driveway and pick up Phillip, and then I will put Andrew in my car and drive him to school right behind the bus. Let's hope that ridiculousness doesn't last long.

So anyway, then we came home and ate lunch, and I got a bit done around the house (but not a whole lot). I honestly can't tell you what all I did get done, but I didn't sit around doing nothing.

Then at 5:00 it was back to the elementary school for the ice cream social and classroom finding tour. The folks in the office had done a fine job and had Andrew already assigned to a classroom, so we were able to go in and drop off all of his stuff and meet the teacher. I think he feels better about going now than he did before. Of course we did all of that for Phillip, too. We got home at dinnertime, and everything was nice and ready in the crock pot. Hooray for that!

Let's hope the rest of the day goes better! It wasn't a bad day, per se, but I'm hoping for some relaxation.

Dinner was Creamy Ham and Potato Soup
2 can (15 oz) sliced potatoes; drained
4 medium onion; finely chopped
3 cup ham (fully cooked); cubed
4 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 can cream of celery soup; undiluted
2 2/3 cup Water
8 oz shredded cheddar

Slice potatoes, chop onions, cube ham. In a slow cooker, layer potatoes,
onions and ham. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, mustard, salt
and pepper until smooth. Combine soup and water; gradually stir into flour
mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened
and bubbly. Pour over ham. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until
potatoes are tender. If desired, sprinkle with cheese before serving


Photo from Stock.xchng by Woodsy
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ups and Downs

brush drawing on blue primed paperImage via Wikipedia Well, it's been an interesting couple of days. Lots of health problems and crises in my church and in my extended family. Lots of folks who need prayer.

Phillip is just not coping well with changing churches. We need prayer and wisdom with that as well.

We continue in an odd cold spell.

I was mistaken a few days ago when I wrote that the boys started school on Tuesday (Jr. High) and Wed (elementary). It's really Monday and Tuesday. So Nathanael starts Jr. High. It's hard to believe. And he starts out with a special walking shoe on one foot and new braces on his teeth, in addition to his special needs. Bless his heart...

On the writing front, some exciting things are happening. I have decided to contribute a few dollars per month to FaithWriters, the website that has really jump-started my writing again. Now as a supporting member I am entitled to reduced rates on editing services, and I may finally be able to get my book whipped into shape to be submitted to a REAL publisher! After years of fretting over what to do, that would be a huge relief. It also feels good to support FaithWriters, since I feel that they offer a very important service to writers like me.

I mentioned yesterday (or whenever I last posted) that I was using the new service "Zementa," and the unfortunate choice of photos that came up in one instance. Well, someone from Zementa read my comment and was concerned that I was truly unhappy with the service, which I'm not. So I promised I would let you guys know that it really is a cool service. I don't always understand why it comes up with some of the guesses that it comes up with, but other guesses are right on, and it's fun to have photos to browse through for possible inclusion in my blog. And aside from that one unfortunate choice, I haven't had anything else come up that I would have been uncomfortable with my boys seeing. It found the "Praying hands" image that I decided to use in this entry, and all I had to do was click on it to have it inserted in the blog with credits. Can't complain about that.

Today John and I watched "National Treasure: Book of Secrets." I had never seen the original "National Treasure", so I had no idea what to expect from the sequel. But it was fun. It had lots of really crazy "It could never happen" kind-of stuff, but well done enough that you really didn't care about that.

Well, I'd better call this one to a halt. I still want to have my devotions, plus hopefully write an entry for my other blog, and it's already 10:30 at night.

Good night!
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pouring rain and hail

The setting sun captures the top of a classic ...Image via Wikipedia Whew! The sky got really black pretty quickly, and we had a pretty intense storm for several minutes. The hail was only pea-sized, and it wasn't coming down in buckets, but I was still listening intently for anything that sounded like an approaching train. So far, so good, but the severe thunderstorm warning continues for another hour. (The photo isn't actually from this storm, but I thought it looked cool.)

Well, now the storm is over, and we find that it has wrecked a gazebo that we recently bought. Sigh.

Our neighbor Trevor was over here, playing with Andrew in the basement. He came up and looked out the window during the worst of the storm, and he said, "I don't think I should go home in this." I agreed with him and he added, "I sure hope I don't have to eat here!"

Ah, well.

Kind-of a slow day here today. There were a few extra last-minute bits of school supply shopping to be done, and I'm trying hard to get the horrible odor of cat pee out of the carpet. Ay-yay-yay, I hate cat pee. In addition to carpet-peeing, Duma has also been doing a lot of upchucking, too. I gave him some extra Laxatone, and now I'm appealing for any and all strategies to help me with the odor problem. I've been using a Zeolite powder to no effect, and I've tried vinegar and water, and now I'm using frequent sprayings of Odo-Ban. The latter is having the most effect, but hours later it's making John's eyes burn. All suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Remember quite a while ago I said I had crossed the legal limit for having fun while writing? Well, the judging was completed today, and my entry came in 7th for the "Masters" level and 10th overall (out of 200 entries). It's called "Erasmus and the Ant," and you can find it by clicking on my "Index to my FaithWriters Writings."

I'm trying out a new service called "Zemanta" which helps you find photos, links and articles for your blog entries more easily. It analyzes what you write and puts options on the side of your screen. I got a bit of a surprise looking through the photo suggestions that were posted there. You see, the recipe I wrote about (below) makes mention of a certain anatomic portion of the chicken. Zemanta went out and found a photo of that anatomical portion, but it sure didn't come from a chicken! Hmmm...if that kind of error happens too often, I may have to uninstall the program.

Tonight's dinner is Favorite Oven-Barbecued Chicken and Buttery Corn Casserole

Favorite Oven-Barbecued Chicken


12 each chicken breast tenderloins
1 to taste parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
1 to taste barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce)

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken breasts in 10x15 pan. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and cheddar or Swiss. Pour barbecue sauce on generously. Bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Buttery Corn Casserole

1 large egg; lightly beaten
5 oz evaporated milk
3 tablespoon Butter; melted, divided
2 can corn; drained
8 oz shredded cheddar
1 cup Butter-flavored crackers; crushed, divided

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk ONLY 2 tbsp butter, corn, cheese and ONLY 1/2 cup cracker crumbs. Spoon into a GREASED 11x7 baking dish. Toss the remaining crumbs and butter; sprinkle over corn mixture. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until edges are bubbly.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Challenges and Checkups



Phillip fell asleep in our bed tonight. John went up and found him like this, apparently embracing some new ideas about Biblical child-rearing. We had to get a photo!

I had my cardiology checkup today. The doctor wasn't too thrilled that I have quit taking my statin drugs, but when I told him how much my memory and general functionality had improved, he agreed that it was worth trying. (I think he could also clearly see that, if he gave me a prescription, he'd be wasting the paper.) He confirmed the research which shows that statins can cause memory problems, and he also said that my cholesterol wasn't too bad. It was in the low 100's, like 117 or so. He said they like to see it lower in people who have had blockages, but I reminded him that my "blockage" was caused by a coronary artery spasm, and that the cardiac catheterization failed to find any evidence of plaque. He wants to see me again in 6 months instead of the usual year. I can live with that.

Nathanael went to a student orientation today from 9am to 1pm at the Jr. High. It was evidently a good experience, and I think he may feel a little less nervous than he did. Overall, he's more excited than nervous, which is good.

I had to deal with some pretty serious "parenting challenges" today. I won't embarrass any kids by singling anyone out or going into details. But the Lord blessed it, and it turned into a very positive thing. I'm very thankful.

Dinner tonight was "Meatloaf Sensation" and "Au Gratin Garlic Potatoes."

Meatloaf Sensation


2-1/2 lb ground beef
4 oz salsa (plus additional if needed to reach desired consistency)
1 pkg dry taco seasoning; divided
1 large egg; slightly beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs
12 oz shredded Mexican mix cheese
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Crisscross doubled strips of aluminum foil to use as lifters in crockpot. Reserve half of taco seasoning. Combine all other ingredients and mix well. (I sometimes have to add additional salsa here because it's too dry.) Shape into loaf and place in slow cooker. Sprinkle with remaining taco seasoning. Cover and cook on low eight to 10 hours.

Au Gratin Garlic Potatoes


1/2 cup milk
1 can cheddar cheese soup; undiluted
8 oz cream cheese; cubed
1 clove garlic; minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 lb potato; peeled and sliced
1 small onion; chopped

In a saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until bubbles form around side of saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the soup, cream cheese, garlic, nutmeg and pepper; stir until smooth. Place the potatoes and onion in a 3-qt slow-cooker. Pour the milk mixture over the potato mixture; mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until potatoes are tender. (You really have to watch this one because it can scorch on the sides if it cooks too long. My crock pot is an older model that doesn't get as hot as the newer models, but it still scorches if I leave it too long.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer's winding down

A week from today all three kids will be at school! (Actually, Nathanael starts a week from yesterday.)

Nathanael's bus will pick him up at 7:04 in the morning. That's a major change, considering he used to wake up at 7:30 and leave for school around 8:40.

Tonight there's a parent orientation at the Jr. High School, for those of us who are new to having 7th graders. Bless Mary's heart, she's driving up from Loveland to watch the boys so I can go. John has a conference call.

It was so chilly last night (in the 50's) that I closed the bedroom windows. (It was either that or turn off both fans that were blowing on the bed, one of which stood right in front of the window and had an icy blast pointed right at us. John's idea of Heaven, but he was already asleep. I figured he'd miss the beloved fans more than the open windows if he woke up.)

The kids watched the movie "Nim's Island" last night (and two of them watched it again this morning). It's cute. It's got enough absurdity in it to make it a definite "kid flick," but not enough absurdity to ruin it for the adults. Jodie Foster was wonderful, and Abigail Breslin did a great job. Gerard Butler was good too. Ok, enough pretending to be Roger Ebert...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wednesday and Thursday Events

Got so tied up in writing my other blog yesterday I forgot to write this one. Silly me.

Yesterday Nathanael got his braces on. He did very well, and I was proud of him. His mouth hurt him a bit throughout the day, but not too bad. They had told us that today would be the worst day, but it really wasn't bad at all. It's very encouraging. He still talks kinda differently, and he holds his mouth funny. But that should all disappear in another couple of days.

Today he went to the podiatrist. She took new X-rays and said his break has healed. He no longer has to wear that awkward, uncomfortable boot! But he does have to wear a special shoe for the next two weeks, which means he'll even have to wear it for the first couple of days of school.

Tomorrow I go in for bloodwork in anticipation of my annual cardiac checkup, which happens in about a week.

Phillip continues his obsession with spices and hot sauce. He talks about them endlessly, and constantly rattles off the recipes for various hot concoctions he plans to make when he grows up. Pretty wild, for someone who hates spicy things! He also drew up plans for his future mansion, which had three huge rooms per floor, plus an "Emergency Thunderstorm Elevator." Gotta love it.

John installed a fancy gadget that should help lower our electric bills. We'll have to wait and see how well it works.

No recipes to share. I've just been fixing mushy stuff that the kids love, like Mac and Cheese, since Nathanael's mouth is still sore. But our new software from the ADA website arrived, and it seems pretty cool. It makes it easier to analyze the carbohydrate counts for my recipes.

All for now!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vocal Cord Dysfunction?

My sister was just informed by a pulmonologist that she has been mis-diagnosed all these years with asthma and COPD. (No wonder the medications never helped her!) Instead she has Vocal Cord Dysfunction, which causes the vocal cords to close under any kind of stress (physical exertion, emotional upset, anything), thereby drastically reducing the flow of air.

Well, I Googled "Vocal Cord Dysfunction," and what I found sounded a whole lot like myself. It sure would explain a lot, including the fact that I can't do aerobic exercise (anything more strenuous than walking, that is) without feeling near death in 90 seconds or so. It would explain the fact that tension always feels like a big lump in my throat. It may even contribute to my sleep apnea (including the fact that my difficulty is often with exhalation rather than inhalation). There's more, but I won't bore you with all the details.

Ironically, the treatment for VCD is breathing exercises, which are taught by Speech Pathologists! Yes, I was taught those sorts of exercises many moons ago when I was getting my Masters in Speech Pathology. But back then I had never heard of VCD, and since leaving the field I haven't kept up with things. The exercises were for other sorts of vocal disorders, but they're pretty much the same, from what I'm reading.

It just so happened that I was feeling pretty stressed out today and had a huge lump in my throat, so I took a few minutes and did some breathing exercises, and it really did help. If I ever get good at diaphragmatic breathing, I should be able to incorporate it into day-to-day life, instead of having to take time out to focus on how I breathe. But it's so hard to re-learn breathing! I tried to do it years ago, just because I learned that it was proper, but I couldn't stand it. Maybe it will be more motivating now that I know about VCD (even though I'm not sure I have it...but I think I might).

I went to the chiropractor yesterday because my neck was pretty bad. It's much better today.

Nathanael goes for his braces tomorrow, and on Thursday he goes to the podiatrist, who will hopefully tell him he doesn't have to wear his boot anymore.

Phillip and Andrew are just doing the normal Phillip and Andrew things.

John is planning to extend the floor of the back porch and put the gazebo up on it, where it will shade my kitchen sink window. He has also replaced the 1st floor bathroom light fixture and done other handyman kinds of things.

Duma insists on being a cat. Lately that includes peeing in the vicinity of his litterbox instead of actually in it...

Speaking of that, I need to go clean that box out.

Fun, fun, fun, until Daddy takes the T-Bird away! Oh wait...I never had a T-Bird.

Oh yeah, tonight's dinner was Crescent-ganoff and Broccoli Cheese Casserole.

Crescent-ganoff
(so named because the filling seems vaguely like stroganoff, if you cross your eyes when you look at it.)


1 lb ground beef
1 to taste zesty blend original salt-free seasoning
8 oz cream cheese
1 to taste worcestershire sauce
1 to taste nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
4 tube (8 oz each) crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown the ground beef with the salt-free seasoning. Soften cream cheese in the microwave, then add to completely browned beef. Add all remaining ingredients except rolls. Heat through. Open up the rolls into rectangles. Spoon meat mixture onto dough; fold and seal. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Broccoli Cheese Casserole

1 jar (8 oz) process cheese spread
1/4 cup butter or margarine; divided
20 oz frozen chopped broccoli; thawed
1 cup butter-flavor crackers, crushed; divided

In a saucepan, combine cheese spread and ONLY 2 tablespoons butter. Cook and stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Add broccoli and ONLY 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs. Transfer to a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Melt remaining butter, toss with remaining crumbs. Sprinkle over broccoli. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Not feeling well today

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, but I'm not feeling well. Fortunately I had put our after-church meal into the crock pot last night around midnight, so it was ready when the others got home from church. I slept until noon. Unfortunately, though I had gotten up briefly at 7-ish to make the bread, I had forgotten to press that pesky little button called, "Start." So there wasn't any bread to go with the stew. Oh well. I pressed "Start" as soon as I discovered the error, and there was bread in time for the evening meal.

I've already posted the recipe for the Ginger Ale Bread, so today I'll only post the recipe for "Becky's Beef Stew." (I don't know who Becky is. I got the recipe from the Web, I think.)

Becky's Beef Stew

0.25 teaspoon pepper
2 lb stew beef; cubed
30 oz frozen mixed vegetables
4 large potatoes; cubed
1 each bay leaf
1 medium onion; chopped
1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Put meat on bottom of slow cooker. Layer frozen vegetables and potatoes over meat. Mix remaining ingredients together in large bowl and pour over other ingredients. Cover. Cook on low ten to twelve hours.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Busy Friday

Well, I just had the pleasure of learning that, even though my entry for the topic of "Telephone" didn't finish in the topmost ratings, it still came in 6th out of the 50 entries in my level, and 21st overall (out of 184 entries). It's called, "The Call of the Dialed," if you want to look it up in the index. Those of you who know Phillip will definitely recognize him in it. (I would put the link directly here, but for some reason links don't seem to work in this text entry box.)

I think I just exceeded the legal limit for fun while writing, doing the entry for this week's contest. If the fun police come and haul me away, you'll know why. I'll let you know when it's posted.

Lots of housework done again today. Hurray!

Nathanael did great getting his dental impressions made today. That's not the most pleasant experience, but he sailed through it, despite getting gagged pretty badly at one point.

Phillip has been W-I-L-D for the past couple of days.

Andrew is doing fine.

John is working on getting accustomed to this whole diabetes thing. We just ordered some software from the ADA that will analyze my recipes and also has hundreds of ADA recipes included. We found it brand new on eBay for $4, which was a steal.

I've joined the e-mail prayer chain at church, and today was a very busy day. It's a small church, but it seems to have had an inordinately heavy load of serious concerns developing in people's extended families. I'm glad to be able to be involved in praying for that. It seems like such a small thing to do, but we won't know until Heaven how much of a difference it has made.

Tonight's dinner was Santa Fe Chicken and Mexican Corn Casserole.

Santa Fe Chicken

1 large onion; chopped
1 tablespoon Butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 cup rice, long grain; uncooked
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 lb chicken breast; boneless, skinless
1 cup cheddar cheese; shredded

In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Add broth and
salsa; bring to a boil. Stir in rice and garlic powder. Place chicken over
rice; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn chicken; cook 10-15 minutes
longer or until meat juices run clear. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with
cheese; cover and let stand for 5 minutes.


Mexican Corn Casserole

2 large eggs
1 can (14 oz) creamed corn
3/4 cup cornmeal
5/8 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine; melted
4 oz green chilis; chopped
1 medium onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 oz shredded cheddar; divided

Preheat oven to 325. Beat eggs in a large bowl; add the next eight
ingredients and mix well. Stir in ONLY 1/2 of cheese. Pour into a greased
2-qt casserole dish. Bake, uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until done. Top
with remaining cheese. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Busy and hot

We were right around 100 degrees for much of the day, and are under a heat advisory tomorrow because we'll be around 105 most of the day, even staying into the 90's well into the evening. (We always cool down at night, so this is going to be weird.)

I got the school supplies shopping done, so that's one thing off my mind. Got a ton of household chores done, too. It's a good feeling. Too bad the house still doesn't look nice. But hey, it looks better.

My FaithWriters entry for the topic "Telephone" didn't win any awards, but it's now available through the index (see link on the right side of the page.)

Tonight's dinner was Ham Noodle Potato Bake.

1-1/2 lb ham; cooked and diced (I use turkey ham)
2 cup elbow macaroni; cooked
2 cans potatoes, diced; rinsed and drained OR about 3 potatoes, diced and cooked tender.
8 oz shredded cheddar
4 cans tomato soup
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 to taste garlic powder
1 to taste onion powder

Drain noodles and combine with ham, potatoes, soup and spices in a 10x15 pan. Top with parmesan followed by cheddar. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Fun in the Sun, and Other Things

Today was a busy day. It started fairly early with a trip to the dental hygienist for Nathanael. He did very well, especially since he was able to bring a DVD and watch it while she worked on him! Then came grocery shopping which cost far, far more than it should have. Then some errands/laundry/usual stuff, and then it was off to a pool party with the Small Group that we've belonged to for years. We had a lovely time, with good food and a lot of fun playing catch. Yes, you heard me right, playing catch. Three of us "old enough to know better" ladies, plus Andrew, all threw soggy tennis balls back and forth (2 of them, to keep things interesting) in the pool. We also got to see the very mischievous side of a certain one of us who loves to make the ball land just in front of you so it splashes water in your face, or right beside you when you aren't watching for it! That was fun, all of us hooting and hollering and laughing and acting half our ages! Nathanael had fun being out of his boot and in the water for the second time in a week. Phillip had fun fluttering around and thinking whatever thoughts amused him. John relaxed with the guys and talked.

Then we went home and had the usual evening routine, which now includes two blogs...

Yep, busy day.

Tomorrow we have to further abuse our bank account by shopping for school supplies! Eek!

Oh, my contribution to the picnic dinner was Five-Bean Salad. Want the recipe?

Go to Sam's Club.
Buy it.
Easy.
Yum.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sprinklers, Braces, and Mashed Potatoes


This is Phillip's idea of playing in the sprinkler. I had a better picture of it, but I had taken it with the camera tilted to "portrait" rather than "landscape" orientation, and Blogger can't handle that. It turns them over again on their sides. Frustrating. Anyway, Phillip hates getting wet, and normally doesn't try to play in the sprinkler at all. But today he decided to get out the umbrella and, as he put it, "risk my life here."

Nathanael will be going in to have his teeth cleaned tomorrow. Then on Friday he goes in to have impressions made, and on the following Wednesday he gets his braces on!

My new blog, "Just Another Clay Pot," hasn't gotten many visitors yet, which isn't surprising since it's so new. It isn't surprising that all but two of the visits have come from Colorado. What IS surprising is that the other two visits have come from two different cities in Poland! I don't know how or why people found it from way over there, unless perhaps one or both of them are photographers from whom I got permission to use pictures. Regardless, the internet is an amazing place.

Phillip gave me fits for a little while tonight, but I'm glad to say he improved his attitude and behavior. Things are much better now. He decided on something unusual for a bedtime snack, and with my help made himself instant mashed potatoes. That's a first, but it probably won't be the last.

Dinner tonight was Bacon Chicken Alfredo

16 oz fettuccine
1/4 cup bacon bits; or to taste
3 cup chicken; cooked and shredded
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
16 oz Alfredo sauce
10 oz frozen chopped spinach; thawed, squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Thaw and dry the spinach. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook chicken with salt, pepper, and bacon bits until juices run clear. Drain fettuccini, stir into skillet. Add the Alfredo sauce, spinach, and Italian seasoning. Cook and stir until heated through. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fun in the Sun















My friend invited us over to swim at the lake near her house today. We spent most of the day there, and it was a lovely time. (The photo above was taken last year at the same spot.) It was nice for Nathanael because he could play and have fun without his boot on. We helped him hop on his good foot into the water, and once he was in there, he could use a floatie "noodle" thing and the life vest he was wearing to enable him to keep his weight off the injured foot. He had fun doing that, and afterwards we all went to my friend's house where the kids played some games while my friend and I talked.

Phillip is starting to show some interest in learning to ride a bike! This is a big deal, and I hope his interest holds. It was really sweet earlier because Andrew took it on himself to try to help Phillip learn. I wish I'd gotten a picture of that.

I can hardly believe that school starts in just over two weeks!

Tonight's dinner was just quick stuff. John grilled burgers and I cooked up corn. Nothing exciting to share there, I'm afraid.

Another New Venture

The biggest news of today is that I've decided to start another blog. It won't take the place of this one, but will be a complement to it.

For quite a while now I've been taking notes during my daily Bible study times, and that's always been a very encouraging and helpful process for me. But I don't often share those notes and thoughts with others, which means I'm not sharing the encouragement and help with others, either. So I've started a blog called, "Just Another Clay Pot." Whenever something comes along that encourages me from God's Word, that will be the venue I use to share it. There's a link to it on this page, there with my other links.

This blog will stay as it is... day-to-day stuff, recipes, etc. But I won't be sharing any recipes today. It was "Clean out the fridge day," and I know that everybody knows the recipe for that!

Today's sermon was very good. Pastor Vannoy preached out of Haggai, talking about being so self-centered that you disregard what God wants. Convicting stuff.

All three boys chose to stay in adult church, and I'm glad of that. Phillip spent most of the time sitting with his head between his knees and with his ears covered, but I think he still took in something of value somewhere along the way. I'm not sure why he prefers to stay in adult church, but it's fine with me.

Try not to faint at the shock of it, but I went out and trimmed a bush today. Now I can see out my kitchen window. The work wasn't strenuous or sustained enough to bring on that awful "Hot poker under my shoulder blade" pain that limits my physical activities so much, and it's encouraging to see the difference that little bit of effort made.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Workday

One quick note: Last night I forgot to post the recipe for dinner, which was Spaghetti with Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Sauce. I've gone back and added it to yesterday's post, so if you'd like to have it, look there!

I got a lot of work done today. It's a good feeling, and I'm thankful to the Lord for His help. There's still an awful lot left to be done. In fact, it's almost 11 pm, and I still need to re-empty and re-fill the dishwasher, and dole out all of the medications for next week. So I'll just post some recipes and get back to it.

Tonight's dinner was "Chicken and Vegetable Noodle Soup" with "Herb Garlic Loaf" as a side dish.

Chicken and Vegetable Noodle Soup

7 cups milk
2 lb california-blend vegetables; frozen
1 cup american cheese; cubed
2 envelope dry chicken noodle soup mix
6 Cups chicken; cooked and shredded or diced

Note: 6 Cups shredded chicken = approx 2 lbs.

Crock Pot method:
Put all ingredients except for cheese in the crock pot on low heat for 8 hours. Add cheese during the last half hour.

OR (Below is the quick way to cook it, which I don't normally use.)

In a large saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Stir in chicken and vegetables and return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 6 minutes. Stir in cheese and soup mix. Return to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until the noodles are tender and the cheese is melted, stirring occasionally.

Herb-Garlic Loaf

3 cup bread flour
1 envelope savory herb with garlic soup mix
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4-1/2 teaspoon nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon Sugar
4-1/2 teaspoon Butter; softened
1 cup water (I substitute Ginger Ale...makes fluffier bread)
2 tablespoon water
2-1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

Bake in bread machine. Use basic bread setting.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Accepting comments now!

It has come to my attention, thanks to a dear concerned reader, that I have not been receiving comments that have been posted on this blog. The fact is, no comments HAVE been posted here, despite some people's kind attempts to do so. I did not realize that I would have to go into the settings and change some things in order for you to be able to post them successfully. So my apologies to any and all who have tried to leave comments. Hopefully that problem is fixed now. If anyone wants to go back and re-post any comments that they tried to make on earlier entries, feel free to do so.

Just remember, all comments are publicly visible, so if you want to tell me anything privately, please email instead.

VBS finished today, and I must say it was a very good experience. We all finished up by enjoying a "Thank-you" luncheon that the church hosted for the workers.

The housework really suffered this week. Well, it's been suffering for longer than that, but it got even worse this week. So I'm planning to make tomorrow a serious workday. I'm posting that because I want you all to hold me accountable. More importantly, I'd like all the prayer I can get. I need it. We all do.

At VBS today, Phillip's craft was pottery. He, of course, made a telephone. I think it's great, but he hates it. He said it was one of his worst failures, and he was so upset that he ended up lying on the sofa in the foyer and burying his head between the back cushion and the seat cushion. That's a pretty common position for him when he's too upset to face life. But he got over it and had a pretty good day after that.

The kids all made dreidels this week, and learned how to play the dreidel game. That was pretty cool. They got to sand the wood and paint it and hammer the post through the hole and everything. They also did some basket weaving with paper and some sort of fibrous reedy material, and they made a few other things besides. I think they were the best crafts I've seen at a VBS, and all the kids seemed to enjoy them a lot.

Nathanael is more than halfway through with his boot-wearing time. He'll be glad to get rid of that.

His voice is deepening, though it can't be said to have "changed" yet. There's still a noticeable difference from just month or so ago. How do they grow up so fast?

Dinner tonight was Spaghetti with Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Sauce

2 lb ground beef
4 can diced tomatoes; undrained
16 oz tomato sauce
12 oz tomato paste
2 each bay leaf
2 tablespoon brown sugar
8 clove garlic; minced
4 teaspoon basil
4 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon thyme
16 oz spaghetti noodles; cooked
2 medium onion; chopped

In a skillet, brown sausage and onion; drain. Transfer to a slow cooker.
Add all but noodles. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until heated
through. Discard bay leaf. Serve over cooked noodles.

An Honor

The judging results just came in for the FaithWriters Weekly Writing Contest on the topic of "Memory." I was pleased to see that my entry, "Both Blessing and Curse," placed second in my level (Advanced), and 4th overall. It will also be included in the FaithWriters quarterly publication, which makes it even more exciting.

You can always access any of my FaithWriters articles (except whichever one is currently undergoing the judging process) by clicking on the link to the "Index of my FaithWriters Writings" on the right side of this page (under "My other sites.")

Since I have now had 3 entries which have been judged highly enough, I have to leave the Advanced level and move up to the Masters level. That makes everything more challenging, for sure.

John took a class today about managing his diabetes. There will be others available so we can learn more about dietary issues.

VBS continues to go well, and I'm enjoying it more every day.

All for now!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Report, Rant, and Recipe

VBS went very well today. It's very fun to see the children enjoying their candle craft so much.

Not much to say other than that. Except perhaps a general complaint about HOA's. THIS IS AMERICA! I can't believe that anyone has the right to send us a letter that says, "You have to replace your roof, and you have to send us detailed information about the roofing materials you want to use, including color, type, number of shingles, etc, etc, etc, and you can't commence any work until you have our approval." I repeat...THIS IS AMERICA! That used to mean individual freedom, but those days are long gone, I fear.

Ok, I'm through ranting. Not through fuming, but through ranting.

Dinner tonight was "Zippy Beef Supper." But you'd better not let the HOA know that. There's probably a regulation against it.

Zippy Beef Supper

2 lb ground beef
1 medium onion; chopped
1 cup potatoes; cooked, cubed
11 oz nacho cheese soup; undiluted
10 oz cream of onion soup; undiluted
10 oz mexican-style diced tomatoes; undrained
2-3 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cup tortilla chips; crushed
4 oz shredded cheddar

In a large saucepan, cook potatoes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown
the beef and onion; drain. Preheat oven to 350. Dice potatoes; add to meat
and cook, stirring, until heated through. Stir in the soups, tomatoes,
cumin and garlic powder; mix well. Transfer to a greased 13x9 pan. Cover
and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with tortilla chips and cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sleepy Tuesday

Today was the craziest day for our craft table at VBS. The theme of VBS is "Jerusalem Marketplace," and the kids are all divided into 12 "Tribes." But with only 5 days of VBS, that doesn't divide out evenly. So each craft table has one day in which they have 4 tribes, instead of 2. Today was our day. I'm pleased to say that we were able to get the candles made for the nearly 30 kids in the two 40-minute crafting sessions. I'm glad that I'm helping out. It's a good experience for me.

Andrew and Phillip got to make their candles today. They're quite pleased with them.

I spent a long time shredding two chickens that I cooked. It's a lot of work, but so worth it. I was able to freeze 13 cups of shredded chicken for future recipes, and that entire amount cost less than $9.00. That's a whole lot less than it used to cost me when I bought boneless skinless cuts (though I still use those for a few recipes).

We ordered pizza from Sam's Club, so no recipe to share today!

I'm feeling quite overwhelmed with housework right now. I got a bit behind, and it just piles up so fast...

I'm going to bed early tonight. *YAWN* So sleepy!

1st day of VBS

I wasn't sure what I'd be doing when I arrived at VBS this morning, but I hoped it wasn't crafts. I just can't get into cutting out bits of paper or gluing on tufts of cotton or macaroni noodles. But regardless, I knew I needed to do something to help out. Time to give a little something back, right?

I got snagged for a craft.

But you know what? It's a cool craft! It's way too much for one adult to handle, and I can't imagine why this poor woman didn't have anyone assigned to help her (except lack of volunteers, I guess). We're making candles decorated with real seashells. We use cups to hollow out indentations in buckets of sand that is just moist enough to hold its shape. We stick a wick in the bottom, and the kids pick out seashells to embed in the side, sticking up slightly over the edge of the indentation we 'd made. Then we pour in the hot wax and let it cool. At the end of the day we dig the candles out, brush off as much sand as we can, and send them home with the kids. They really come out cute, and each one is very unique!

Dinner tonight was Basil Chicken Strips.

4 lb chicken breast tenderloins
1 cup all purpose flour
1.5 cups Butter
1 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
4 teaspoon basil

In a large resealable plastic bag, shake chicken strips and flour until
coated. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add the
chicken; saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and basil; cook until
chicken juices run clear.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Rest

This morning was good. Our Adult Sunday School class is going through the book of Romans, and we had a very good discussion which broke off of that. Then church was an overview of the book of Zephaniah, focusing on the issue of pride. When we got home we had Taco Puffs for our afternoon dinner (we usually have Sunday's main meal right after church, and then the evening meal is "shift for yourself"). I'll put the recipe below.

After lunch was a nice long nap and then some interesting science-related TV shows (while I worked on a jigsaw puzzle with a Norman Rockwell theme). John did some more work on his new basement office/computer game room.

So, overall a nice, relaxing day.

Tomorrow starts VBS at our new church, and also marks a chance for me to get to spend some time with a new friend while our kids are there. We might end up helping out a little with VBS, too. I told them I could help in any way that didn't require me to be good with children. I'll probably pass out snacks or something. I imagine I'm probably capable of that! For such a small church, they're expecting a very big group of kids (90 already enrolled). That's scary. I'm glad there are folks out there that love working with large groups of children. We need 'em!

Ok, here's the recipe as promised:


Taco Puffs

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup onion; chopped (I use 1/2 cup reconstituted Instant Minced Onions)
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 tube (17 oz each) jumbo sized, butter flavored refrigerated biscuits
8 slices American Cheese

Preheat oven to 400. In a skillet, cook beef, taco seasoning and onion over
medium heat until beef is browned and onion is tender; drain. Cool
slightly. Flatten half of the biscuits (one tube, which is 8 biscuits); place in an
ungreased 15x10 pan. Spoon 1/4 cup meat mixture onto each; top with 1 slice of cheese. Flatten the remaining biscuits; place on top and pinch
edges to seal tightly. (I don't normally bother with the pinching.) Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Important News Here

Oh my, I forgot to blog yesterday. And it was a big news day, too.

The biggest news was that John was diagnosed with diabetes. They seem to have caught it very early; in fact, the doctor said that some might call it "pre-diabetes." He said it didn't matter which you called it, because the treatment was the same. He's going to have to take some classes to learn about diet, etc, and he has an oral medication to take. Plus, he has to start exercising regularly. He's taking the news well, but of course it's a bit troubling, especially when you don't really know the ropes yet.

It's been deadly hot. Even now, after 6 pm, it's still 97 degrees!

We've had a couple of different roofing companies come out and give us estimates. The estimates vary widely (and of course we're only talking to well-established companies). It's going to be expensive, no matter what. But we have no choice. Our roof won't last another winter.

The roofers that have looked the job over have told us that we win the world record for hornets and yellow-jackets on/in a single roof. Not a record we like holding!

Today John decided he'd better go ahead and replace the attic fan. That was not a fun job in this heat. He went up with the fan and his trusty electric screwdriver/drill thingie, and was reaching around to start unscrewing the mounting for the old fan when he found himself inches from not one, not two, but three yellow-jacket nests, each with mobs of irritable winged stingers crawling and buzzing around them. Now, for those of you who don't know, John has had a deadly terror of stinging insects since being chased and stung all over as a young boy. (On that wonderful occasion, he got to hear the doctor tell his mother, "Well, if he's not dead in ten minutes, he'll be all right!" That sort of experience tends to make an impression.) Also, for those of you who don't know, John is claustrophobic. So having today's scary experience in an attic was just doubly fun. But he made his way down to where we keep the wasp spray and took it back up to the attic with him. He emptied what was left of that can, and found himself needing more. So he came back down and drove over to the store to buy some. After killing a bunch more nasties, he got ready to start his job again, only to see one of the creatures perched right near a hot light bulb. He knew he couldn't spray the bug without hitting the bulb, and he knew that might make the bulb explode. But since he feels the way he feels about bugs, he decided he didn't care if the whole house blew up, so he sprayed it. The bug died. The bulb didn't. Neither did we. Things were good.

He ventured to go the rest of the way up the ladder into the attic at that point, but then heard a loud buzzing and felt something ominous on his hip. He tells us that he screamed his head off. We didn't hear anything, but there were competing sounds in the house, and we weren't on the second floor. Anyway, it was a blessing that he didn't fall off the ladder in his terror. Especially since it wasn't a bug buzzing on his hip...just his phone.

Today I took advantage of a really great clearance sale at Sears. I almost never get new clothes for myself, but I got myself a Lands' End linen tunic blouse and two skirts (of some other brand), plus a pair of Lands' End sandals for Andrew and brilliant green Lands' End flip-flops for Phillip (all marked WAY down, even lower than what's in the sale catalog. I don't know about you, but I don't buy Lands' End at full price!). John's company had given him a Sears gift certificate as a token of appreciation, and it went to good use.

Nothing else of interest today, unless you're fascinated by grocery shopping. Anybody want to admit to that?

Yesterday John grilled burgers for our dinner, and tonight I just threw together some easy stuff because grocery shopping kept me out too late to cook. No recipes today, sorry!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Writer's Dream

Nothing like being handed a topic that's way too easy to write about! This weeks' FaithWriters contest topic was just announced this morning. It's "Telephones." If you know anything about my family, you know the only problem with that topic has been keeping it down to 750 words!

John is going for a blood test tomorrow. He had a physical recently, and his bloodwork showed elevated sugar and triglycerides. So he's going for a follow up. He has to fast as of 8:00 tonight, so he's rushing to make the chocolate chip cookies as fast as he can...

Tonight's dinner was Balsamic Chicken with Thyme. I'll include the regular recipe, but since I made it quite differently tonight, I'll include that, too. (For side dishes we just had plain old peas and applesauce.)

Balsamic Chicken with Thyme

3/8 cup flour
1-1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 halves chicken breast (boneless)(I use 12 of the little tenderloins instead)
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon thyme

Mix flour and only 3/4 tsp EACH of salt and pepper on a plate. Add chicken;
turn to coat. Shake off excess. In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over
medium heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, 10 minutes or until
browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate; cover to keep warm. Halve
onion lengthwise and slice. Add onion to skillet and saute 1-2 minutes
until lightly browned. Add broth, vinegar, thyme and remaining salt and
pepper. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, 7 minutes or until onions
are soft and sauce is syrupy. Place chicken on serving plates and spoon on
onions and sauce.

That's delicious as-is, but here's the slightly easier variation that I used tonight:


12 Chicken breast tenderloins
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3-1/3 cup chicken broth
6 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon thyme
1-1/2 cups Long-grain rice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 25 or 30 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and chicken is fully cooked.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thumbsy

Andrew got a little tongue-tied this evening and said to me, "I wonder how thumbsy we would be if we had only clums." Now there's something to think about.

Well, I know you'll all be utterly fascinated to hear that today was a heavy laundry day. I could go into all of the intricate details of sorting, stain treatment, and folding, but I'm not willing to run the risk of over-exciting anyone.

The monkey has been rescued from the tree! John threw a rake at it until it came down. I guess if I was up in a tree and someone kept throwing a rake at me, I'd come down too! We should be glad that it was only about 10 or 12 feet up in the tree. It's a ginormous evergreen, so it could have been a whole lot worse. Actually, I have a photo of it from a couple of winters ago...let's see if I can find it. Yep, here it is:


The snow's piled up so deep around the base of the tree that it's hard to appreciate its actual height. Oh well.




A miscommunication led to a bit of a scare today. Mary (My sister) comes over every Wednesday night after work to watch our boys so we can go to Small Group (a church-related get-together). Well, as some of you know, Mary's health has not been at all good lately, so I mentioned to her that I thought perhaps she shouldn't come over tonight. She gave a response that I thought was a tactful way of saying that I was worrying too much, and I came away from the conversation thinking she was still coming over.

She came away from the conversation thinking we both understood that she was NOT coming over.

John and I waited for her to arrive, and when it became clear she was late, we started calling her cell phone. No answer. We kept trying for close to 45 minutes, and all the while I was growing more and more concerned because of the way her health has been. I eventually called a couple of local hospitals just to be on the safe side, but she wasn't there. I was actually on the phone with our Small Group hostess, asking her to pray, when my cell phone rang. It was Mary. "You called me?" she asked. She had turned her phone off and had no idea that we were expecting her or would be concerned.

Phew.

Speaking of "Phew," John took the liner out of the special boot that Nathanael has been wearing. Oh my! "Phew" doesn't come close. It's soaking in the sink with Palmolive right now. See, I told you today was exciting!

For some strange reason I was really stressed out for much of the day. I felt like a stress bomb had exploded over my head, and the fallout just kept raining down on me for hours and hours. That was before the whole thing happened with Mary. Actually, I got a lot calmer during and after that.

The kids and I watched the first half of "Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel" tonight. It got too late to finish it, so we'll have to finish it tomorrow. Something to look forward to!

Dinner tonight was a last-minute thrown-together thing. Boxed macaroni and cheese, leftover diced turkey ham, and diced mixed vegetables, all mixed up together. It was a hit, and that's what counts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not the Most Productive Tuesday

Neither John nor I are feeling particularly well today. I felt tired and buzzy-headed enough to decide what I needed to do was stretch out on the couch and watch "Anne of Green Gables." That definitely improved my outlook on life. John is having some stomach troubles.

Actually the morning was quite nice, before the "yuckies" hit. We had our final installment of our Beth Moore Bible study at church, followed by a lasagna luncheon. I brought my Creamy Pea Salad, of course.

Phillip did some amazing things today. While John was at work, Phillip took it on himself to finish a job that John had started. John has been moving his "office" from our bedroom to the basement, and he ended last night with his upstairs desk only partially moved and re-assembled downstairs. Phillip decided on his own to go get the remaining parts from upstairs, bring them to the basement, and assemble them (including putting in the screws with an electric screwdriver). He even hooked up some electronics. We were very impressed and pleased.

The kids are all still happy with their new sleeping arrangements. For those who don't know, since Nathanael has a broken foot, we of course don't want him to have to climb up and down the ladder to his top bunk. So he has moved out of his bedroom into Andrew's room, and Andrew has moved into the other room with Phillip and has taken over the top bunk. It may turn out to be a permanent arrangement, which makes sense to me.

No further attempts have been made to rescue the monkey. Stay tuned.

I just got a rather remarkable narrative from Andrew. Because of the dangers of nuclear power, Andrew has come up with a unique new method of powering his own aircraft carrier. Nathanael says that it works in the same way as nuclear power except...it runs off of Werther's Caramel candies. Andrew explains: "The Werther's are contained in a canister. They are evaporated, turn into steam, heat up pressurized water that goes through a heat exchanger; that heated water makes the Werther's float to a giant spinning blade, chopping them up into triangular pieces. Enough pieces are put into one thing that it turns into a turbine that spins around and gives the ship the power. Now, the extra steam runs the catapults on the ship. And whenever there's extra steam, a plane on either side of the carrier's flight deck takes off." Oh, to have such an imagination!

Tonight's dinner was Garlic Beef Stroganoff. I'll post the recipe. But wait, there's more! I'll throw in the Creamy Pea Salad recipe as an added bonus if you call right now!

Garlic Beef Stroganoff


2 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1 cup Water; boiling
1 can cream of mushroom soup; undiluted
2 jar mushroom; drained
1 large onion; chopped
3 clove garlic; minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 lb round steak (boneless); cut into thin strips
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 oz Cream Cheese; cubed
1 to taste noodles; cooked

In a slow cooker, dissolve bouillon in water. Add soup, mushrooms, onion,
garlic, and Worcestershire. In a skillet, brown beef in oil. Transfer to
the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the meat is
tender. Stir in cream cheese until smooth. Serve over noodles.

Creamy Pea Salad

Note: Use triple this amount for potlucks and the like.

16 oz frozen peas; thawed, uncooked
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon instant minced onion; reconstituted
1/2 cup miracle whip (The original recipe called for Mayonnaise)
1 to taste salt
1 to taste pepper
2 strips bacon; cooked and crumbled (actually, I use Bacon Bits, and I mix them in right along with everything else.)

In a bowl, combine the peas, cheeses, onion, miracle whip, salt and pepper;
mix well. Refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with bacon.