Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”  “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”  At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

What a blessed promise to behold today! Praise God!! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I haven't fallen off the edge of the Earth, I swear!

I really am alive. Honestly. 
Life has just gotten so darn busy that blogging is on the back burner. 

It's Holy Week and that's been keeping me busy with church stuff. We had an Easter egg hunt this afternoon and had over 60 kids show up! 60!! That's more than our average Sunday attendance. I have another couple of church projects coming up that hopefully I'll get to blog about. 

I've began the huge project of painting the interior of my house...every room but the bathrooms. I hope I don't get bored before I get everything painted. 

Check out the 7 ft. shelves I built for all of my photo frames! Isn't that so much better than a hundred new nail holes in the wall? I found the plans here.  Dang, they were so quick and easy to build that now I'm seeing places all over the house where I could put shelves like this. I could use them for books, toys, kitchen stuff...endless possibilities! 

One room painted, seven to go. 

It's been a couple weeks since our family spent a few days in Kansas City and I still had a few more photos to share of our trip. I know, I'm way behind. 

Kansas City has a Legoland and it was a big hit with our kids. We were there for three hours and we were exhausted by the time we were done! Check out the Lego Wizard of Oz land! 

The Emerald City. 

Dorothy's house raised up and spun around. 

Munchkin land and the yellow brick road. 

Yahoo was never too interested in Legos until she found that there were pink Friends Legos. She's been building with her new Legos all week. I've found though, that even though Yahoo (a girl) and her brother Yap both play with Legos they play very differently! Boys build lego cars, towers, wars but little girls build backdrops so their Lego figures can have conversations. 

Lego land had a big section where the kids built cars and rolled them down a variety of ramps. I'm not sure if  Yap barely left this section! He LOVED building bigger and better cars. 

Walking on a pit of Legos? That looks tortuous to do kids do it? 

Lego land was a bit pricy but considering how crazy our kids are for Legos and, we were there for three hours, I think it was worth it. 

I'm still alive, just really busy with all kinds of different projects. But I'll blog when I can!! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Big Reveal.

I finally finished it before spring break. This past week the kids were back in school and I just happened to be substitute teaching on Thursday so that was the day the faculty decided to unveil the mural for the kids. 

I. Was. Nervous! 

They herded all the kids, 120, into the foyer of the school where the mural would be hung and I tried to hide in the back hoping everyone would forget about me. I know, silly, since I painted the thing but really...I didn't like the idea of having to get up in front of the crowd...even if they were "just kids". I'm my worst critic and I could have picked out half a dozen things about the mural that I maybe should have changed and I was afraid everyone else would see them too. 

Hiding? No such luck. 
The teachers called me out and had me unveil my mural. 
(They hung it between the two benches.) 

The kids clapped and cheered; I was so relieved. You may think that's silly but kids have a funny way of being totally honest. And this mural was for them! If they didn't like it I think I would have been devastated that I had let them down. Adults on the other hand have a funny way of politely clapping even for something awful. Adults and kids are just funny aren't they?

I sure wasn't expecting anything but the faculty had bought me a present and it was the COOLEST thing! I never would have thought of this but they had my mural put on a throw blanket. How awesome is that? So now, where ever we live, I'll always have my mural! Lovely!!! 

This was so much fun and I was so very happy that I could paint something that, hopefully, will inspire kids. I love to paint and would paint all day if I could but I only have so much wall space (or closet space) to put my artwork. So having the opportunity to give my artwork away is a wonderful feeling. 

Art is medicine for the soul but only if we share it. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve

 One of the places I enjoyed most on our quick vacation was the last place we visited, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve . The preserve is located near Strong City in the middle of the Flint Hills Region. 

Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America. Within a generation the vast majority was developed and plowed under. Today less than 4% remains, mostly here in the Kansas Flint Hills. The preserve protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tallgrass prairie and its cultural resources. Here the tallgrass prairie takes its last stand. (borrowed Tallgrass Preserve Website)

Over the course of many years a ranch was built and ran by numerous different families until 1996 when it was turned into a national preserve. In the early 1880's a huge 3 story stone barn and mansion was built on the ranch. 

Inside the barn was dark and empty though there were a few farming artifacts; a buggy, barbed wire, old tools, etc. It was just huge and still in wonderful condition. I always enjoy going to see old buildings that someone has had the foresight to preserve. 

I can't imagine building a stone barn on the Flint Hills but they sure did a fabulous job. The barn and mansion stand on a hill. Down the hill, across a modern road, is a bottom land where there were orchards, gardens and vineyards. It's been so very dry these last few years that the prairie flowers and grasses have had a tough time coming up. Though, the prairie has a natural way of dealing with drought that I'm sure when the rains come (I have faith that they will) Tallgrass will be a breathtaking place to visit. 

The mansion is huge. It's built into a hill and has two basement levels and two above ground levels. It really must have been something to see in it's heyday. 

It's kind of hard to see but there are three terraced levels in front of the house and I was standing on a fourth taking the photo. Each level was surrounded by a stone wall roughly three feet high. The walls weren't just for show at the front of the house, rather they wrapped around the mansion until they naturally ended in the hill. Wow! 

Inside there were many more rooms than I was expecting and nothing had been added to the original design. At the very top of the house there were six bedrooms, I believe, but all locked. On the ground floor there were a total of 5 rooms. The basement was the kitchen area along with a cold storage area and there weren't as many large rooms since it was built into the hill. 

The kids thought this was an extravagant building. 
A three seater outhouse!! Pretty fancy! 

About a quarter mile down the way was a one room schoolhouse that was used up until the 1930's. It was locked up but my was it a pretty view! 

There are roughly two miles of hiking trails through the preserve, though we didn't go on many of them. We were pretty tuckered out from our trip by the time we hit the preserve and it was mighty cold and windy the day we visited. 

DR thought this outhouse must have been the work of the WPA because it was a concrete floor. Any input on that? 

It was pretty much a self guided tour when we were there but the preserve gets pretty busy in the spring/summer. We were told that if we came back in the summer we could take the bus tour through an area where a herd of 20 buffalo were kept. 

  • From the last Saturday in April through the last Sunday in October, 90-minute prairie bus tours offered 1 time daily at 11 a.m. and more as staffing and budgets allow. Other tour times may include 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (as staffing allows). Call ahead for availability.
  • From Memorial Day through the last Sunday in October, special interpretive natural resource and cultural history programs on alternating weekends as staffing allows. Ask the rangers for the location of the scheduled interpretive activity.
  • One-room Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse open weekends (Saturday and Sunday) from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. in May, June, September, and October.

Here's a YouTube video about Tallgrass and another with Lyle Lovett in case you want to know more. 

I'd sure love to see that schoolhouse open too! It sure looked like a gorgeous building from peeping into the windows. I think we'll have to see about taking another trip to Tallgrass in the future! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vacation Recovery

Well, we survived a short vacation trip to Kansas City. Wait...didn't I say in my last post we were heading to Denver? That WAS the plan but Mother Nature stepped in and laughed at us. We were planning on driving to Denver Saturday but the mountains ended up getting hit by a storm that day so at the last minute we decided to drive the opposite direction (about the same distance) to Kansas City.

Though it was a last minute plan we still were able to pack in tons of sights and we had a great time. In a lot of the museums we visited there were interactive exhibits that gave you the option to take a video or photo and then email a link of it to yourself. When we visited the Rock and Roll Museum they gave us each a backstage pass with a scanner code. You entered your email once into their computers and scanned your pass, then after every video you recorded you simply scanned your badge to send the video to your email. I think the kids, and DR, created a dozen total videos. (Though DR won't let me share his with you. Party pooper!! ) Here's some the kids made, I think this was one of the highlights of our visit to Kansas City! 


Yap on the drums. They also had guitar, keyboard and other music stations. 

Yahoo singing her own song; "We are the best turners in the world." 
Makes total sense, right? 

The boys teamed up to perform the song their class will be singing in the spring concert. All the kids at school have been excited about this concert and have been telling me all about what kind of bugs they are. This song is so stinking cute, I can't wait to see what the entire school comes up with! 

We also visited Legoland, the WW1 Museum and the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank (highly recommend them both!), Kaleidoscope, Science City and Tallgrass National Preserve. I didn't get photos of everything but I'll share what I did get later. 

If anyone is looking for a place to take a family on vacation I highly recommend Kansas City. Not only is there LOTS to do but everything we did was concentrated in one area so we weren't constantly driving. In fact the only driving we did was to and from the hotel. 

Enjoy the music! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March - In like a Lion!

This winter has been so very different than last winter. We've had a foot of snow this year, just last week, where last year we didn't have much precipitation at all. Earlier I wrote about how much I am looking forward to getting our garden planted. I think last year we could have easily started planting by the end of March but that might not happen this year. It's been so cold!

I took the picture above about a year ago. It's hard to tell but Yip is in a t-shirt sitting on the bleachers, that's how warm it was last March. This March is a whole different ball game though isn't it? It looks rather the same now as in the photo above but we are cold (in the 30's and 40's) and windy and there is even a chance that we'll get some snow this weekend. Hoorah! Even though it's cold and I'm really tired of being stuck inside (usually sick), I'll happily put up with it if we get some moisture.

This March isn't just crazy here in SW Kansas either. My parents in northern Indiana just got 6" of snow last night. I'm used to Mud March in Indiana, not snow March. Who wants to bet you  might have a White Easter where you are? It's early this year you know.


Isn't this Indiana tree just beautiful? Just gorgeous. I don't need to tell you I miss snow trees do I?
I don't think anyone has complaints though of this odd March weather though, we all need the moisture but I'm thinking I might need to revamp my gardening plan a bit from last year! Crazy crazy!

Also a year ago I took this photo, remember? Ah!! Yahoo had turned three and later this week she'll be turning the big 4! She's so excited. I'm so excited that she'll be starting preschool in the fall! I'm excited that naps are almost a thing of the past. I'm excited she can dress herself, play outside on her own, and is getting a little less argumentative....a little.

 I'll try to post photos of her birthday party but it may be difficult since her party will be taking place in a car. Ha! A party in a car? Well, we're going to be on a trip and we are leaving on her birthday so I was thinking a party in a car might be a good way to fill in the miles, though I doubt we'll be blowing out any candles!

We're heading to Denver for part of our spring break. We only live 5 hours away and I'd hate to live so close and never visit. I've heard there are some awesome attractions! I'm hoping to have lots of photos to share later next week! Mile High here we come.

Where ever you are I hope you are getting the moisture you need as you plan a spring garden and are staying warm with electricity. See you next week!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Foody Friday - Mama's Bloody Mary Chili

I don't remember eating a lot of chili as a kid, maybe I did, who knows? I think I had more to worry about growing up than what I was beating my 6 brothers and sisters out for seconds! 

I DO know that once my brothers/sisters started getting husbands/wives it seemed like my mom always had a huge pot of chili whenever we brought home our significant others to visit. I guess it was the easiest way for my mom to feed a crowd. My brother in law even joked once that he was just sure that my mom had a huge cauldron of chili simmering away in her basement that was already ready at a moments notice because he always ate chili at her house! 

I've never been a huge chili eater but I've been trying to find a quick easy recipe for months that my kids and husband would actually eat. Finally DR just told me to ask my mom for her recipe because he always liked her chili. So Mom texted me her "recipe" if you can call it a recipe...I don't think my mother measures anything! (luv ya Ma!) 

Brown two pounds of hamburger and add as many chopped onions and peppers as you want. I also added some minced garlic. 

Meanwhile in the crockpot put in 1-53 oz. can of Brooks hot chili beans. (I didn't have a 53oz. can so I used two cans of black and two of kidney beans and added some chili powder, like a teaspoon maybe.)

Aaaahh, the secret ingredient!! 

Mix together the beans with the ground beef and add as much Bloody Mary Mix for the desired thickness.
I also added a can of diced tomatoes.  

Set on low in crockpot for 6-8 hours. 

Perfection!! I will never use another chili recipe because this one's a hit. Everyone eats it! DR likes it because it's full of meat, my kid's like it because it's not too spicy, I like it because they like it! 

The secret to perfect chili: Bloody Mary Mix...who knew???
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