Saturday, April 30, 2011

Belly Bling and Shotguns

Miranda Lambert has a song out on country radio right now called Heart Like Mine. I heard it for the first time this week and had to smile at the lyrics, "Daddy cried when he saw my tattoo, Said he’d love me anyway".

No, I don't have a tattoo but let's flash back to the spring of 1998 shall we?

A senior in college and twenty one years old, I had just finished my student teaching and was on the verge of college graduation. In a few short months I would be plunged into the life of responsible adulthood which would include a full time teaching job though I didn't know it at the time. I felt like I was at the edge of a the high dive about to jump into a pool with the knowledge I'd never be back on the high dive again. I had to make this leap memorable! 

So I went and got my belly button pierced. It was hidden. It wasn't permanent like a tattoo. It was just a bit rebellious. It wasn't any different that pierced ears in my book. But....I wasn't shouting out to the world about my little bit of belly bling. Oh, I told my sisters and a couple close friends but that was pretty much it.

Fast forward a few weeks to Easter weekend. My two other sisters were home from college. It was a warm and sunny Saturday and we were enjoying being home with Mom, Dad and our four other younger siblings. All in all it was just about the perfect day. 

Then my sister and I started bickering. I don't even remember what about but I was probably being a bossy older sister trying to convince my 19 year old sister that I was smarter than her. (What a load of bull, she is SOOO much smarter than me by the way!) And by means of putting me in my place she retorted, quite loudly, in front of everyone, "Yeah! Well at least I didn't get my belly button pierced!"

My dad looked straight at me. At that moment all I was hoping for was that I would sink through the floor.

All he said was, "Did you?"

"Yeah." was my feeble reply.

Then Dad got up and went to his gun safe and got out his shotgun and a box of shells. My knees were knocking together. I had no IDEA what he had in mind. I knew he wasn't going to shoot me or anything but was he mad enough to shoot my car or something? My mind was racing in that instant, full of awful scenarios!

Dad calmly opened the back door and walked outside. I watched him as he walked out behind the barn and moments later we heard the shotgun. He was shooting targets out behind the barn where, as a family, we often would waste away an afternoon.

I turned to Mom, "Is he really that mad?" I was really worried. I had never seen my dad react to anything like that before. I really wished he had yelled and screamed and fought with me when he found out about my belly button ring. This total silence was really unnerving.

Mom just grinned. "Don't worry. He'll be fine." I didn't bother telling Mom it wasn't Dad I was worried about. I was much more worried about my own well being!

Dad came back over an hour later. I guess he could only stay out behind the barn for so long after he ran out of shells. He walked up to me; I cringed. He looked at me and said, "Alright. Let's see it." I didn't ask twice what he meant. I showed him, he looked and then he said something to the effect that I was old enough to make my own decisions and the he still loved me.

I can't put myself in Dad's mind. I don't know what he was thinking. Maybe this was tough for him to take because I was the oldest; the first to hit all those crazy kid milestones and who in a few short weeks would be the first to graduate from college. I was probably the most adventurous of my siblings which I'm sure wasn't easy for Dad to handle at times. (I would take road trips by myself and not tell him where I was going so he wouldn't worry. Mom always knew, she just never worried.) Poor guy. I think I was kind of rough on him.

I should tell Dad not to worry; I'll get my payback for causing him so much stress. I'm pretty sure Yip is going to be my rebellious adventurer. On the other hand, I might be the one egging him on to do some wild and crazy stuff....with the hope he'll invite me along.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Foody Friday - Crustless Quiche

I found this recipe the other day and thought it would be interesting to try because in place of a crust, sliced fried potatoes. And I love potatoes! This version was just basic potatoes, cheese and eggs but next time I think I'll fill it with veggies. This would also be a great recipe for anyone on a gluten free diet.

Cheese and Potato Crustless Quiche

2-3 sliced potatoes
oil or butter
4 large eggs
1 cup of cottage cheese
shredded cheese (any type and any amount)
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: finely diced cooked veggies or meat or other seasonings

Preheat oven to 350 and spray pie plate with cooking spray. Thinly slice potatoes, season with salt and pepper and saute in oil until cooked. They should be soft but firm enough to handle, lightly browned. Spread the potatoes into prepared pie plate. Sprinkle cheese on top and any optional ingredients in a thin layer on top of the cheese.

Combine eggs, cottage cheese, salt and pepper in a blender, blend until uniformly combined and smooth. Pour mixture into the pie plate, completely covering whatever's already there. Bake for 25-30 minutes, till lightly browned on top. Let rest a few minutes, then serve.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Art of Teenagers

Yesterday I was a substitute teacher for an art teacher. It was half day which works well for Yahoo and me. I had a class of kindergartners (with Yip and Yahoo!) and a group of high schoolers. The kindergarten class was fun and all, we got to draw birds, but it was the high schoolers that really made me miss teaching. I taught teenagers way before I ever imagined myself married with kids.

As typical high schoolers are they tried to get out of working for a sub or tried to sneak out their cell phones to send texts. And, like most high schoolers I've ever subbed for, they were curious about me and asked me all kinds of questions; where I'm from, where I've lived, what are my kids like, etc. And in turn I asked them all kinds of questions about Kansas. One kid told me there are lots of trees in Kansas. Obviously he'd never been far from home.  

What really made me laugh about these teenagers was the extreme polarity of their self confidence. For example, a few of them got into a deep and heated discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of President Obama, each extremely adamant about their point of view, yet a moment later they didn't have the confidence to choose a color of paint. It's like their brains aren't completely wired up yet.

They also reminded me of how much I knew when I was 18 and how little I knew when I was 21. When I was 18 my parents drove me up the wall because they didn't know anything and sure didn't understand me. But when I was 21 I couldn't get enough of their advice. I still like getting their advice. (Yes. Send it this way.)  

But despite all of that I still like teaching high school kids. They have such individual personalities which makes teaching this age such a unique challenge. I enjoy some of the crazy identities that high school kids create for themselves too. I once met a kid who dyed his hair in rainbow stripes with Kool-Aid. They can be cynical and stubborn and argumentative....and sometimes I like em' that way. Because occasionally that means they are really thinking.

DR and I figured up that when Yahoo is a freshman in high school, Yip and Yap will be seniors. Oh boy.
Three argumentative, opinionated, stubborn, completely individual teenagers in the house at once. Ha! That's about what their personalities are now! But still it will be interesting to see what kind of teenagers they will become.

Yesterday one girl, who was a senior, mentioned how much she'd miss high school next year. I can't say I ever missed high school (do you?) or that I'd ever want to return to high school (would you?) but I can say I miss spending my days with teenagers. Because they are sure entertaining.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Every Kansas town has a.....

...a museum.

Really, they all do. Practically every little town you go to in Kansas seems to have their own little museum.

We have the Stauth Museum in my little town which has artifacts from all over the world. Many Kansas museums' exhibits are focused more on Kansas history and over the weekend we visited Ulysses, Kansas and the Grant County Adobe Museum, a great little museum.

Historic Adobe Museum - Ulysses, Kansas

Not only do they have the museum building but they also have a 1800's era hotel and one room school house right next door.
The hotel on the left and school on the right.

In a living area for guests the boys played checkers and admired the popcorn popper on the old wooden stove.

Yahoo took time to lounge just like I imagine an elegant lady might. Would this be a daybed?

Yip and Yap enjoyed the idea of a classroom with all different ages of students. They liked those old desks too. What is so attractive about an old school desk? When I was a kid I remember seeing one and just wanting to do lots of homework at it.

Inside the museum there are exhibits presenting Kansas in different time periods.
There are the Plains Indians...

....and a sod house complete with cow skull.

Then we moved on to a more modern house complete with a modern oven/stove. I have a friend who has one of these and they cook on it at least one week every summer. There has been some amazing food come off of these.

These contraption was in the kitchen too. Anyone know what it is? I couldn't figure it out. The handle moved left and right and moved the left side of the cylinder back and forth.

There was also a wall with nothing but pictures of the dust bowl. This was a photo taken in Ulysses on April 14, 1935. The caption says, Daylight to Total Darkness in one minute. Wow.

There was also exhibits with artifacts from life in the 30's, 40's and 50's. My boys thought it was neat to see toys their grandparents might have played with.

So, if you are looking for a vacation spot with LOTS of museums then Kansas is the place to go! Ha, of course if you get tired of museums we have, uh, lots to look at!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Marker Monday - Don't Pack up those Easter Decorations Yet!!!!

Do you still have your plastic Easter eggs out? Well don't pack them up yet. Yap did a very fun, but VERY MESSY, painting with them over the weekend.

Look! He's created a Pollock!
Okay, you probably only got that joke if you are an art nerd like me.

First, you need an Easter egg that has holes in the bottom. It will probably have holes in both the top and bottom. Take a minute and cover one end of it securely with Scotch tape.

Then place a little craft paint and water in the bottom section of the egg, the end with the tape on it, and stir it up to make a very watered down paint. It helps if they are held in an egg carton.

Put the top on, grab some paper and go outside. Yes, outside because this is messy!

Dribble the watered down paint out of the holes!

Yap went pretty wild with this and had just as much paint on his feet as he did on his paper.

I'm sure glad we did this outside!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[a] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:5-8

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:14-17

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20: 29

May God Bless you and yours this wonderful Easter morning as we celebrate the eternal gift of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Swastika Salt Cellar

I grew up just down the road from my Grandma L. We were always down the road visiting. Grandma's house had a big shaded yard right next to the woods which were perfect for exploring. Grandma's house was also attractive because she always seemed to have some candy laying around just waiting for grandkids.

Grandma always had this pot sitting on her stove. I think she put potholders in it. I don't really remember because it was never what was on the inside that attracted me but what was on the outside.


Now as a kid I knew enough about WWII to be very concerned that my Grandma had a pot covered in Nazi symbols. It really bothered me but I never asked Grandma about it. I don't know if I was scared of what her answer would be or scared that I would offend her by asking. Grandma was a bit stern, I'd say most of us grandkids had a healthy respect for her temperment.

It wasn't until I was in college that I learned that the swastika symbol had been used for centuries among many different cultures around the world. Ancient Native American rock drawings in the Southwest United States have been found that contain swastikas.

I imagine then that this pot must pre-date WWII.
Now I wish I had asked Grandma about it .

Grandma passed away about 1 1/2 years ago. As my mom and sister were going through her house they saved this pot for me and I just received it in the mail this week. (I cried! Thanks!) I didn't even remember that it had the word salt on it. I guess I was distracted by all those swastikas. But of course looking at it now, with the inside rim, it surely had a lid to go with it and was originally used as a salt cellar to be hung on a peg or nail.

Now the Swastika Salt Cellar is in my kitchen holding my dishsoap on a high shelf. I'm afraid to put it on my stove, surely I'd accidentally break it. It's nice to have something in my kitchen that Grandma had in hers....swastikas and all.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Foody Friday - Peanut Butter Cookie Bars..and a Rabbit

I was in the mood for cookie bar cookies and found a very simple recipe and Yum, 9x9 inch pan of cookies came warm out of the oven and then frosted with peanut butter frosting!

I presented the yummy treat to my boys fully anticipating they would eat at least half the pan and I would probably get one or two and not feel guilty about eating too many.

Nope, they rejected them! What is wrong with my kids?
I ate the whole 9x9 pan of cookies in three days. And then I felt guilty for eating so much junk.

But they were goooood!

Peanut Butter Bar Cookies

1 c. flour
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter

Grease square 9 inch pan. Combine everything in a bowl and mix until crumbly. Press into pan. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/4 c. butter
 1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
2-3 T milk
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. peanut butter

Cream soft butter and add, alternating, sugar and milk and vanilla. Then add peanut butter. Ice bar cookies.

Don't want to make frosting? I don't blame you. Buy some vanilla frosting at the store and mix in some crunchy peanut butter. Quick and easy.

Now, eat the whole pan so I don't feel quite so guilty.

As a snack for our play group this week we had peanut butter bunny sandwich with marshmallows for ears and ritz crackers for feet. A perfect snack for Sunday after church!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Photo Thursday - Take Me Out to The Ballgame

A community college baseball game.

No tickets, no concessions, no restrooms.

Just a lot of boys enjoying a game of ball.

Dad patiently explains the rules of the game.

Sister just plays in the stands.

A boy wishing he had a ball and glove to play too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Education; When is Enough?

Our community here in my small town is largely Mennonite. There are a couple different groups of Mennonite that are fairly segregated; the Holdermans and the Germans. The Holdermans have been here for many generations and run a private school for their children. The Germans have only been here for less than two generations and many came from Mexico. In fact, my neighbor who is about my age, lived in Mexico until she was twelve. The German Mennonites attend public school. Both groups only send their kids to school to about the 8th grade. I don't believe all Mennonite communities are like this.

I have no problem with Mennonite customs, religious beliefs or lifestyle...until it comes to education. I can't agree that only educating a child to the age of 14 or 15 is beneficial to them or the Mennonite community. It's not as though these kids don't want to go to school either. There are some, if given the choice, would finish high school and continue on to college.

We are all citizens of a community, a town, a country, and a world. There are very few of us in this life that are so isolated that we aren't affected by others or influence the life of someone else. Therefore as a citizen of humanity isn't it our obligation to educate ourselves as fully as possible (not everyone is PhD material) for the benefit of not only our lives but of the lives around us as well?

My dad has told the story he heard of an Amish farmer. After the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986 the Amish man was asked how he thought it would effect him and marketing his crop. He had no clue about anything that had happened in Chernobyl. The Amish man was furious that his religion so isolated them that he wouldn't be informed of something that could effect his livelihood so drastically that he left the church.

I'm not advocating the break up of the Mennonite church. It just really bothers me that education, what I consider a right, is denied to someone who wants to pursue it. And it bugs me that other people (church elders, etc.) decide what is the 'right' amount of education for someone who isn't even their child.

I've been substitute teaching recently at the local preschool. It really bothers me to see some of the very brightest boys and girls working so hard and to realize that they probably only have nine or ten more years, at the most, of schooling ahead of them. I'm all for the first amendment and the freedom of religion but where is the guarantee of freedom to pursue an education?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How does your garden grow?

For now, most of my garden is in a bucket under a light in the house.
We started some tomatoes and I must say they are doing much better than I expected.

Ten days ago we had 90 degree weather here in Kansas and I figured, "Why not get my garden planted?" It's rather a pathetic looking plot isn't it. I'm hoping I can show off a green thumb in another month or so.

But it's only been ten days and I'm already anxious. Why isn't there anything growing?? Shouldn't SOMETHING have sprouted by now? Well, except that poor little squash plant. Really, I started it in the house and then transplanted it in the garden. But then five days after I placed it so lovingly in the soil we had 70 mph winds. Yes, 70 mph winds for a whole day. I'm amazed that little guy is still there. Although nothing was up when all that wind came by it sure didn't help the moisture content of my garden.

Please pray for my garden. Kansas gardening isn't like Indiana gardening.
I'm afraid nothing is going to grow!

On the bright side I have flowers ready to bloom!!
I didn't even know I had flowers at this house.
I think they are irises. Yay! I love irises!!

That's the state of my garden right now. I have the nagging thought that nothing's going to grow. But I think that every year so who knows?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Marker Monday - Number Easter Baskets

Tomorrow Yahoo and I go to our playgroup and tomorrow's theme is Spring and Easter. We have kids ranging from one to four years old so we try to come up with games and activities that everyone can do even if they have to get a bit of help from Mom or Dad.

Yahoo is beginning to understand the concept of counting so I came up with this activity to work on counting and number recognition.

We are big fruit cup eaters in our house so I washed up ten of them and used a hole punch to put holes on opposite sides of the cup. Twisted pipe cleaners make sturdy handles and with a number on the bottom of each we now have Number Easter Baskets.

With a handful of eggs (marbles) the kids get to be the Easter Bunny and put the right number of eggs in each basket.

Yahoo's only two and a long way from knowing her numbers but I'm sure some of the older kids will enjoy this game tomorrow.

This Easter Bunny just realized I better get on the ball, Easter is this weekend and don't have anything for the baskets. Wait...where are the Easter baskets? Yikes!!  

What are your Easter plans this year?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Devotions - The Church of Long Ago

I've always admired poets and writers and their abilities with words, an ability in which I am desperately lacking. I found this poem and thought it a good devotion for us 'old folks' today.

The little church of Long Ago, where as a boy I sat
With mother in the family pew, and fumbled with my hat-
How I would like to see it now the way I saw it then,
The straight-backed pew, the pulpit high, the women and the men
Dressed stiffly in their Sunday clothes and solemnly devout,
Who close their eyes when prayers were said and never looked about -
That little church of Long Ago, it wasn't grand to see,
But even as a little boy it meant a lot to me.

The choir loft where father sang comes back to me again;
I hear his tenor voice once more the way I heard it when
The deacons used to pass the plate, and once again I see
The people fumbling for their coins, as glad as they could be
To drop their quarters on the plate, and I'm a boy once more
With my two pennies in my fist that mother gave before
We left the house, and once again I'm reaching out to try
To drop them on the plate before the deacon passes by.

It seems to me I'm sitting in that high-backed pew, the while
The minister is preaching in that good old-fashioned style;
And though I couldn't understand it all somehow I know
the Bible was the text book in that church of Long Ago;;
He didn't preach on politics, but used the word of God,
And even now I seem to see the people gravely nod,
As though agreeing thoroughly with all he had to say,
And then I see them thanking him before they go away.

The little church of Long Ago was not a structure huge,
It had no hired singers or no other subterfuge
To get the people to attend, 'twas just a simple place
Where every Sunday we were told about God's saving grace;
No men of wealth were gathered there to help it with a gift;
The only worldly thing it had - a mortgage hard to lift.
And somehow, dreaming here to-day, I wish that I could know
The joy of once more sitting in that church of Long Ago.

by Edgar A Guest - ca. 1915

Dear God, Thank You for tradition and for change. We know that there is a role and purpose for both change and tradition in our lives. Amen.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Going for a Spin

Last weekend my brother Mountain Man came to visit us for the weekend.

We went to the park because....well, because it's just what we do.
And I brought my camera because that's what I do.

And I played with shutter speeds because I think it's fun.

Mountain Man convinced me I should lay down on the merry go round taking pictures while he pushed.
After a few shots like this I put away the camera because I was too busy getting sick in the bushes. I can't handle the round and round rides anymore!

I once heard that a woman's sense of balance (her inner ear) goes to pot after she has children. Any of you mothers out there find that to be true?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Foody Friday - Coffee Slush

I LOVE coffee! Not crappy coffee from the gas station, no GOOD coffee. The darker the roast, the better. If I allowed myself to I could easily drink a pot or more of coffee a day...but I don't. I get way too jittery with that much caffeine. 

Sometimes I'll pour a mug, drink half of it and then get distracted and forget about drinking the rest. It bugs DR when he comes home and finds 2  or 3 cold coffee cups around the house. Sometimes I just pop em in the microwave and drink it which just appalls my brother..ha ha!
I think he sees it as an insult to coffee.

I found a new use for cold coffee. I have to admit this post is kind of weak in the recipe department. But I read about it in a magazine somewhere, don't ask me where...probably in a doctor's waiting room.
 It's just so darn easy but so darn good!

Take your cold half full cup of coffee throw in some sugar and some cinnamon and pop it in the freezer. Now, if you can remember, stir it up every 30-45 minutes or so until it gets nice and slushy.

Or be like me and forget about it for 2 hours and have to break up the frozen coffee hunk with a butter knife. Even better, just pour your seasoned coffee into ice cube trays, freeze and eat one at a time like a candy treat.

I can see myself going through a lot of frozen coffee cubes in the hot months to come! Wow, I never thought that I could possibly get addicted to coffee in cold form but I have!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Remnants of a Fire

A couple weekends ago there was a large prairie fire 35 miles to the west of our little town. It ended up covering 10 miles of so of prairie. Thank goodness it wasn't closer. Although I couldn't see it, I could smell the smoke and that in itself made me pretty anxious.

A few days ago I got the chance to drive over to the area and check out the damage. I was expecting great swathes of blackness but what I found was this.

Lots of burnt fence posts. The blackened plants you see are charred yucca plants with drifts of sand filling in empty spots.

I was surprised at how much blackness I didn't see. But the grass that did burn would have been brown and dry and with the high winds that are so common out here I don't imagine the ashes settled anywhere near the vicinity of the fire. Once out there I realized the greatest danger of a prairie fire is probably the smoke and not the fire itself.

It's hard to tell by the photos but piles of sand have drifted between the burnt yucca. Even from the road it was kind of eerie to see. DR and I watched a PBS documentary on the Dust Bowl and the burned fields with it's abundance of sand looked very much like the Kansas windblown prairie of the 30's.

I can't imagine the fortitude it took for Kansans to have survived the Dust Bowl when they were faced with a landscape much harsher than this.

I am very happy that I live in 2011 vs. 1935. Until recently, I never knew how lucky I was.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wanna Swap?

I've decided to stop feeding my just costs too much. And I'm not letting them outside anymore because their clothes get worn out too quickly and I don't want to spend money on them. I'll just make them stay in the house naked so I won't have to buy as much laundry detergent.

Okay, I really won't do any of that...but the thought has crossed my mind. Kids are expensive! Geez, if I knew how much they'd be eating at the age of six I'd never have decided to have twins!

Oh, right.....God didn't give me a choice there...ha!

Anyway, who doesn't want to give their family what they need, and some of what they want, without breaking the bank in the process? I found a new website, I've been cruising quite often for the last month that has saved me a bit of money and helped clean my house at the same time.

The premise of the website is really simple. You create an account and build a list of books, movies and/or video games that you have but no longer want and what condition they are in. Then you make a second list of things you want; books, movies and/or games. Then the website matches you with other users who want what you have and have what you want. Then you swap!

Alas, nothing is free including but the cost is minimal and you are billed once a month. The website charges fifty cents to a dollar per swap depending on the item. Then all you need to do is ship it to the provided address. The website also allows you to print a postage label from home that includes tracking from, usually around $3. I haven't found anything comparable in price or quality on Amazon for that price.

The downside is that they don't trade VHS tapes and I sure have a ton of those laying around that I wouldn't mind getting rid of! And of course just because you want something doesn't mean there is someone out there who wants what you have so your want list may continue to be just that, a want list, for some time to come.

But in the last month I've done five trades;  for me Wicked and Johnny Cash's Unchained, and for the kids How to Eat Fried Worms and Pirates of the Caribbean; Dead Man's Chest and for my husband When Genius Failed all of which have been in very good condition. All in all I've not even spent $20 and gotten rid of stuff that was just collecting dust on my shelves. Especially since we are big readers in our house I'd say that is a pretty darn good deal!

Not yet convinced? Well, also hosts swap4schools where you can donate something you have to a school who needs it. We all know how school budget keep getting smaller and smaller every year and this is a great way to help out a teacher. Are you a teacher? Jump on and tell us what you want. If I've got it I'd be happy to help you out!

I'm a cheapskate frugal shopper and it's great to find ways to save money. Do you have any money saving tips or websites to share? Who doesn't want to save some money these days?
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