Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Love To Eat!

I love to eat, but I'm pretty picky about what I eat. Yes, there are times where I put things in my mouth that aren't very good for me, but I like to think those incidents are pretty far between. Because of that I'm always on the look out for new, healthy recipes that my family would like. Most of us won't eat anything that is remotely related to a fish. (I used to, then I was pregnant with Mr 19 and now the smell, sight, taste, thought of fish kicks in my gag reflex.) Miss 10 is just plain picky, if it's something mixed all together, it has to be exposed to her a dozen times before she'll finally eat it. If she chooses not to eat what I make, she can dig for leftovers in the fridge and warm it herself or she can make herself a PB and J. Miss 15 will try new things, and eats most anything, and college has done wonders for Mr 19 and he's willing to eat most things that are home cooked meals now.

I do all my weekly menu planning over the weekend, and on Monday I go out to stock our shelves. Oftentimes, because I live in the middle of the continent, I don't find what I need at one store, so I have to head out again later in the week to find the things I missed on Monday, or to hopefully find some decent fruits and vegetables that aren't wilted, bruised, browned or pathetic. I try to plan my weekly meals around one beef meal, one chicken breast meal, one vegetarian meal and the rest fall into the "other" category.

Many times I need meals that can either be in the slow cooker all day, or can be made and ready to eat in thirty to forty-five minutes. Last night we tried a new recipe out for soup, it was awesome. I'm not known for following a recipe exactly, so I did modify the recipe to suit our tastes and product availability. The original recipe was from Cooking Light magazine. It was called Summer Corn and White Bean Soup. I didn't vary it a lot, and I didn't move far enough away from the ingredients to change the healthful aspects of it. The recipe is full of fiber, and very filling. Bonus points because it was easy to make, and the ingredients are really easy to find, even where I live! So, after that long introduction, here is my version of

Corn and White Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (walla walla or
1 tsp. chopped garlic
3/4 cup chopped ham
3 cups fresh corn kernels OR 2 cans Green Giant corn
(I used 1 can shoepeg and one super sweet yellow and white corn)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 cups chicken broth (I added more to this as needed depending how long the soup simmered)
2 (15 ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
cayenne pepper flakes- to taste
Shredded monterey jack pepper cheese

1. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and ham and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently, add garlic and cook 30 seconds more, you don't want the garlic to burn, yuck!
2. Add rinsed corn and stir continuously for 1 minute, letting corn brown ever so slightly. Stir in chicken broth and remaining ingredients except for pepper jack cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so. (Mine was sitting for about half an hour waiting for Hubby to get home, it did just fine, I added a little more chicken broth as needed.) Taste, add more salt or pepper to suit your fancy.
3. Serve with shredded pepper jack cheese on the top. Enjoy!

Variation: I think this soup would be really, really good if you left out the ham, and served it with peppered bacon cooked crisp and chopped up on the top. Don't add it to your soup, bacon just gets soggy then, but serve it on top with the pepper jack cheese. When you make the soup without ham, you would probably need to adjust your seasonings a bit. This would be an easy soup to add your favorite things to, it's a good base recipe.

Serve it with cornbread and a salad, Yummy!

For my sister, who is on the road with her husband (still!) this is something you could easily make on the road, it's nothing you have to have an in home kitchen to make. To my lactose intolerant family members, leave off the cheese, problem solved, and for the rest of you, try it, you'll like it!


Monday, March 30, 2009


BLIP NUMBER 1: A few months back I got a new oven. I was so excited. Now, not as much excited as frustrated. It hasn't worked right since we got it. First it would heat up, but then allow the temperature to drop 40 degrees before reheating, this makes everything take forever to get done. A call to the store, the repair man comes, he replaces the thermostat. Still the dang thing just isn't working right. It's even more frustrating because we paid the extra money for a convection oven, and it actually takes longer when I use convection then it does when I use it on a regular setting. This time we took pictures of things we had cooked at the time they were supposed to be done, and took it to the store. Chicken breasts are taking over an hour. Every night I use the thing I'm so frustrated I turn into the Queen Crabby Mother. The store contacts GE, the maker of the stove. The GE rep tells them that they typically try to repair new stoves twice before they replace them altogether. Fine, they send another part, the repair man comes and replaces the entire "mother board" of the stove. We've used it twice. It still takes forever to cook things that should be done in much less time. Do I live with it, or make a nuisance of myself and call again?

BLIP NUMBER 2: Where I am thrilled to have the girls done with swimming for a while, I am not so thrilled with the behavior of Miss 10. Apparently not having anything to do after school means that you can ask for someone to come home with you EVERY SINGLE DAY, and when the mean horrible person that is your mother says no, you are entitled to a major melt down! This meltdown can, may, and often does consist of slamming of doors, stomping of feet, yelling, crying, screaming, burying yourself in your pillow, refusing to do every day tasks and general surliness. It's lovely really. Mean Mother has taken to sending Miss 10 down to the treadmill for some walking and running. Don't knock it, it helps. Regular exercise is the only thing that keeps her emotions in check. Thank goodness volleyball starts next week, and track starts at the end of April.

BLIP NUMBER 3: I love my Wii Fit. But if it keeps telling me that I am gaining 2.2 pounds every four days I'm going to have to unplug it and give it away. It goes like this: you've lost .6 pounds, for about 3 days, then the fourth day it says you've gained 2.2 pounds SINCE YOUR LAST VISIT. I don't think so.... unplug~chuck machine through window.

BLIP NUMBER 4: I have to sub on Friday. I have become a complete germ-o-phobe about going into the school. I know I am irrational. I know I'm exposed to germs every where I go, but at the moment all I can think about is going into a classroom where just last week every third kid was gone with the stomach flu. I'm so stressed about it that it's becoming an obsession.

BLIP NUMBER 5: Mr 19 texted me a picture of him in fatigues last week saying, "How do I look?" I cried. Even though he hadn't (yet) signed up, he was just putting on his buddies fatigues,I still flipped. I don't want him to sign, and I don't want him to use me as the excuse that he doesn't. Then later this week he offered to pay part of something that he wanted after I said it was too expensive for me to buy him. "I'll cover some of it, I'll be gettin money." I know what that means.

BLIP NUMBER 6: We did not get the blizzard that the bottom third of our state did, that's the third winter storm in a row we have missed out on, and I am so grateful! It's not warm here, but it didn't snow. Hooray!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


What a weekend! We are finally home, and happily nearly caught up with the loads of laundry that were produced, along with the seriously lacking sleep we were able to endure. The photos above are indicative of how the whole weekend felt~Chaotic! State Swim Meets bring together 14 teams of swimmers here along with nearly 2 parents per swimmer. There is no room for spectators and swimmers at a pool. Whoever builds pools never seems to consider that there might be people there watching, and thus the space allotted to spectators is seriously lacking. We were cramped, crowded and crabby for 2.5 days just as I expected.

It amazes me how some team's parents seem to think they have the right to a certain area of bleachers and no one else is allowed to invade their space. One certain team in particular decided they could take up an entire section of bleachers, they had balloons, banners and very few people there saving an entire section of bleachers. As I said, there were 14 different teams there. There are 6 sections of bleachers, and one team claimed an entire section. Logically that makes no sense to me, it is such a sign of selfishness. After the first day of swimming (really half a day) the host team sent over representatives to discuss the situation with those particular parents, and they had the gall to actually argue with those representatives, claiming that they "needed" all that space. That's some good sportsmanship! As parents, shouldn't we be setting the examples? Isn't that our job? This same crew of parents also consistently did team cheers over any announcements that were done regarding records or high scores being set by other teams. Again, we have a great example of immaturity.
But I take heart that the rest of the teams were kind, courteous, generous with cheering regardless of team affiliation, and more than willing to allow others to sit with them.

On to more positive notes. Miss 15 was top ten in every event she swam this weekend. She cut time in 6 out of 7 of her events and Hubby and I were very proud. She had a great time staying with a friend from the host town, and this allowed Miss 10 a bed of her own in the hotel room, I think that fact led to both of them being more rested, always a good thing. Miss 10 also cut time in 6 out of 7 events. She placed in the top ten in several events, and in the top 20 in the remaining events. Her relay teams were incredible placing fourth and sixth overall. Both times they just missed a higher placing by hundredths of a second.

Hubby and I were crowded and hot and tired of sitting. For most of the three days we couldn't both leave our seats at the same time for fear of losing them, this posed a few challenges. The first full day we were at the pool for 11 hours, and the second day we were there for 8 hours. The noise in the pool negated most chances for conversation and left ringing in our ears much like a rock concert does. We saw some incredible shows of sportsmanship by the swimmers, lots of hugs, high fives and a few belly bumps, and those weren't from team mates, they were from opposing swimmers. I love that swimmers are friends up to the race, competitors in the pool, and back to being friends the moment they get out.

Our drive home was mostly silent aside from requests for more food from the back seat. Both girls were famished and exhausted. We were all a little nervous to come home to a house that Mr 19 had been alone in for 2 days. On the surface things looked pretty good, but as the past few days have gone by I notice little things that make me suspicious: a picture knocked off the wall, a mysterious nick out of my table, 15 or so two inch stains on my carpeting, marks on the kitchen floor, both windows in the garage wide open, a ton of food disappeared, unusual garbage on the deck, a strange un-removable mark on the tv in the kitchen, sticky strange things on pictures in the kitchen, tons of dried grass, leaves and sand piled up at both the front and back door...

We are glad to be home, and we are very proud of the girls and all their hard work, but at the moment, we are most excited that swim season is over for a while. It's exhausting sitting and watching them!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Typically I would write a Love Thursday post here, but at the moment my head just keeps swimming around with the things I need to get ready in order to leave tomorrow and the thoughts my son has put in my head.

For those of you who haven't heard, and really I don't think there is anyone because I keep whining and whining about it, Mr 19 has decided that he is "very seriously considering" enlisting with the National Guard this spring/summer. Which essentially means that my heart spends part of the time not beating, part of the time beating too fast, part of the time not beating in correct rhythm, and part of the time filled with a small smidgen of pride (that part, however, is very nervous and very small). But mostly I am just afraid. I'm not going to list the whys, what's, how's and who's of what I am afraid of, the list is long and dreary and no one needs to think my thoughts, or stay awake nights thinking my thoughts as I have done so often lately. Instead I will tell you that I have talked, Hubby has talked, we have listed concerns, other ideas, asked why, asked when, asked how this came to be, and still we have no answers. Mr 19 brought this up to us two weeks ago, he is now home on spring break, and has been since Sunday, any attempt we make to discuss it with him isn't looked upon kindly, and the questions we ask are answered curtly. His response typically has been, 'It's just something I want to do." Bearing in mind the side of me that ALWAYS prepares for the worst, in my head I have already realized that this is almost certainly a reality, and I am preparing myself for that end. My emotions are raw and my anger is quick at the moment. I am afraid I will say things I don't want to when anyone questions me about it, and I'm afraid I will break down and cry when anyone questions me about it. For now, I realize there is not a thing Hubby and I can do to make his mind up for him, and I know that he probably already has his mind made up, and he's just too afraid to tell us. I'm afraid for him to tell me too.

On another note I leave for the weekend tomorrow at noon, and also leave said son here in my house for two days. That makes me nervous as well, very, very nervous.

We are leaving for a State USA Swim Meet. Both our girls are swimming which means my rear will be planted on bleacher seats for 2.5 days. I hate bleacher seats, and I especially hate bleacher seats when it is crowded and hot. This will be both. I am excited to watch the girls swim, but not at all excited to sit and sit and sit some more. Bleacher sitting plus the two hour drive each way may be all my back and rear can take. Miss 15 has 1 relay and 7 events, Miss 10 swims 2 relays and 7 events. They'll both be exhausted by Sunday's drive home, as will I, and all I have to do is sit, and sit, and sit, and sit... funny how tiring that can be.

Send fast vibes the way of the girls this weekend. They both have high hopes. And send cush-y vibes my way please.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

brilliant poetry

Spring break is the pits
son huge messes and stresses
when do classes start

poor decisions made

hurt feelings for the youngest

teachers know better

last week of swimming

state can't be over fast enough

swim fast girls swim fast

Friday, March 13, 2009

What It Is

Yesterday Hubby generously offered to take his mother with him on a short trip. He needed to travel 3.5 hours north to pick up something he had purchased for the farm. His mother has a cousin who lives about 20 minutes from that destination. So Hubby offered to take her along, then drive her the short distance further for a short visit. She hasn't seen this cousin more than once in her life, but they do talk on the phone now and again, so she was anxious to take the trip. Hubby dreaded it a bit, as his mother has a tendency to talk, A LOT. What I really mean is she has a bit of anxiety problem with silence when she is with someone else, anyone else. She fills the silence with talking, non stop talking, often repeating the same stories over, and over, and over, or just randomly telling whatever thought happens to be running through her head. She tends to dominate every conversation when she is in a room. But, we've learned to live with it, however Hubby dreaded the 7+ hours in the car with her, hoping he wouldn't have to hear too many of the same old stories.

As it turned out, the trip wasn't too bad, and Hubby's mom really enjoyed her short visit with her cousin. He is a Friar at a monastery, so they got to tour the monastery and hear stories of the lives there. Part of the monastery's money making project is an ongoing rummage sale. The people in the area drop things off constantly and the Friar's run a store with the donations left there. Hubby's mother always feels the need to buy things when they are on clearance anywhere, so this was a ripe opportunity for her. (Our family constantly gets gifts with the clearance tags left on.) For some reason she felt the need to buy me something... and well... I'll let you see for yourself:

Yeah... that's sort of what I thought too. When I got it, it wasn't quite this shiny, I did wash it, and then polished it, yes, it is copper, but that's all I know. The top picture is a side view, the bottom is a top view. So I'm asking you... do you know... what it is??

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I have a fat cat.

There, I said it, my confession for the day. Our cat, is huge, not just merely a little overweight. He is a giant. He is not fat because we feed him table scraps or overfeed him his cat food, he gets less than half a cup a day, he doesn't get too many treats every day, and he doesn't have a toddler or infant around who he can sneak bites from. Our cat is fat because he is the laziest being on the planet, even more lazy than a the typical house cat. Decker just sits, he doesn't play, he doesn't go outside, he doesn't chase the girls around, in fact the only exercise he gets is when I stomp my foot as he's walking through the room and scare him into bolting back to where he came from. Not that I would ever do that! *Oh, wait, yes, I would do that, I don't really like our cat, and he doesn't much care for me either. But that's ok, I'm willing to be the bad guy when he's willing to destroy my house with his hairballs and claws.

Recently I found something that will make him exercise of his own free will. While shopping at The Wal-Mart , I found a scratch pad with a little zipper pouch on the back. Do you know what you are supposed to put in the little zipper pouch? Cat Nip. If you've never seen a cat who has enjoyed the pleasures of cat nip, you wouldn't know what a complete sensory overload these cats apparently enjoy. (However, if in college, you saw people testing their sensory perceptions after a little marijuana, then you are on the right track.) The scratch pad I found is about the size of a piece of paper, it's got a rough front side and a fabric backside where the pouch is. It is Decker's favorite toy, in fact it is the only toy he even plays with. It doesn't even have to have fresh nip in it. He bolts to the living room and attacks the pad with the ferocity of... well, ok, not so much ferocity, but he does attack it in his own way. He grabs it with his claws, rolls all over it, picks it up and smacks it around, rolls on his back and lays it on top of him, then does it all over again. Then he puts his face as close as possible to the pouch on the back, and his eyes glaze over, his pupils dilate and suddenly he bolts from the room and tears around the house, then comes back for more of the same routine. This lasts for about 5 minutes. When you are a 22 pound cat, that's all the energy you have for running around the house. Then he's suddenly ready for a long, warm nap.

Miss 10 is Decker's favorite person to lay with for these naps. He will stand in front of her and cry until she goes and sits or lays in a chair, he hops up and is purring loudly enough that she has to turn the tv up in order to hear it. Then he sleeps. He will sit or lay anywhere that she will, because... he loves her. The photo above has been purposely blurred at the edges in order to prevent the embarrassment of our incredibly fat cat. He would be mortified to see himself in this shape.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Flip It

Last night I set Miss 10 up at the computer to do some research. She has 3 states she has to do reports on, and needed to fill out information sheets on each one. She knows how to look for the information, and usually knows which sources are good ones to trust. While she worked I made dinner and answered her questions now and then. Later she asked me if I could please look up a few of the informational questions on her states that she was unable to find. While she showered I looked at her sheets to figure out what I needed to research.

New Hampshire

State Motto: Live Free Or Die
State Nickname: Granite State
State Bird: Middle Finger
State Song: Old New Hampshire

Do you see it? There is a subtle mistake up there in my partial listing. She didn't catch it, but I did. I laughed until I cried, I showed Hubby, he laughed until his sides hurt. Apparently a certain site doesn't do their research well enough. I'm pretty sure the state Bird is the purple finch in N.H.

As it turned out when I pointed out the mistake Miss 10 was mortified, embarrassed and ready to kill me for laughing, so whatever you do, don't tell her I told you!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Hubby, or as one follower lovingly referred to him the other day, Mr. Bear, (which I loved by they way!), takes Miss 10 to school 95% of the time. We wake up and all get ready for the day. I keep Miss 10 on track with reminders and gentle shoves in the right direction. She loves to linger at the table, or hang out in the bathroom doing who knows what, so it's my job to keep her moving towards the door. There are days when good-bye takes 5 or more minutes just because suddenly she has so much to say. (bedtime is like that too sometimes, but that's another story) Sometimes I am saying goodbye, kisses, hugs, and more kisses literally with my hand on her back, my other hand opening the door and pushing her gently out. She's funny that way.

She hops in the van with Hubby and I wave from the front window, every day I wave. They wave back and I scoot back into the bathroom to take the short time Hubby is gone to do something with my hair. On the way to school they listen to news and discuss the headlines, or to music and Miss 10 yells at Hubby to stop singing along. In a loving way of course. Hubby drives back home to eat a quick breakfast with me before heading to work at the farm. While on his way back to the house he listens to either AM radio, which I absolutely can not stand, or FM rock or country stations that typically drive me nutso because they are just pathetic here.

But here is the kicker, and it never fails, when I leave the house to go get in the van to go do my thing every day, the radio station is at a normal volume level, meaning very quite, and it is never on C.R.A.P radio, it is always lovingly tuned into Prairie Public Radio, aaaaahhhh, soothing. Sigh... I think, he loves me.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Study Skills

We aren't conventional sit at the table or desk and study people at our house apparently. Last night Miss 10 had several subjects of homework. This is how she sat while we practiced her spelling words. She wouldn't dream of doing this at school, but at home, I figure if she's working hard, and not distracted, we're all good. After all, I hate to sit at a desk, I'd rather lay across the kitchen floor myself, or study with my head hanging off the side of the bed or couch. So since she was getting all the words right, I didn't object.
Please take note of the size of her feet, I believe she must be headed for another growth spurt. This would also be an indicator of why she is swimming so well at the moment.

After a shower break and a few moments of chatting, we settled in to study for a Social Studies test. Apparently my desire to hang my head off the side of the couch has influenced her desire to study in this position. A few moments later as I started quizzing her she scooted closer to the edge and flopped her head over the side of the table. We were studying the inventor of the cotton gin, who built a locomotive named the Tom Thumb and the steam engine. Sometimes the facts we memorize for these tests are so useless. But that's just my humble opinion...

Later for good measure, we turned on our super secret brain powered machine and plugged in Miss 10.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Sometimes I just can't think of a thing that would be interesting enough to write about. I look at this blog every day, and I see the same boring post up, and yet I still can't think of something new, exciting or controversial to write about.

Over the weekend Mr 19 came home briefly to watch his friends who are still in high school swim an important meet. He arrived home late on Friday and was gone by noon on Sunday. In that time he did manage to make a big mess of his room, and provide a stress level in me that I haven't seen in quite some time. More on that when I get up the courage to even think about it in my frontal lobe. Right now I'm hoping to just let it simmer in the back of my brain where it doesn't take my breath away and cause my heart to stop beating. (If you know, shhhhhhh! I and no one else wants or needs to know about it! Quiet in your comments! Reveal no secrets! No one else needs or wants the stress.)

We had yet another swim meet with the girls, where they each posted incredible results again: a few first place ribbons, and nothing lower than a fourth. I'm not looking forward to next season when Miss 10 ages up and must once again start at the bottom of the pack. It was so incredibly exciting to see her in the final heat in lane four. (Lane four is for the fastest seed in the event, meaning in that event she had the fastest time for her age group) I don't recall that ever happening to one of my children before.

Hubby and I are spending hours doing some deep cleaning of the house, which means we are taking bags and bags to the trash, and loads of boxes to the school rummage sale. I look through things and wonder why in the world I ever kept them, and then I stumble on a box of things that tug at my heart strings. I discovered a box of 12 month old girls clothing. It was full of adorable dresses, jumpers, pj's and shoes, and all of it made me cry. NO, I most definitely don't want another, but it is such a testament to the passage of time to see those tiny clothes then in the next moment have your 90 pound daughter leaping up for you to hold her as she nearly knocks you over.