Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kansas...August...GREEN AND WET!!! Who knew THAT could happen???

So we're on the second day of September and being that it's a holiday I had some time to go through some photos of August. I have to say that this August was definitely the greenest I've ever seen Kansas! Some friends of mine who have lived here all their lives even told me that it's the greenest August they've seen too. We had quite a bit of rain the first couple weeks in August and it was greatly enjoyed by my kids. 

I think this rain came about the 11th or 12th. It was fast and quick but it flooded the street intersection next to our house. 

Every time we see it rain, I kick my kids outside to play. It's been so rare that we see this much water that I want my kids to enjoy it. I remember my childhood where there were always mud and puddles certain times of the year that we could play in and even as an adult I kind of miss it. 

Just look at my GRASS! I've had to mow more this summer than the last three summers combined! 

I even went through some old Kansas photos to compare the landscape. 

May 2011

Sept. 2011

August 2011

June 2012

Plenty of brown grass in the last few years. All this rain has been wonderful for my garden too. 

I've had a bumper carrot crop! 

My garden has done pretty well this year, other than the blight that hit and killed half my tomatoes. Blight is like fighting a losing battle! No fun at all. 

The first half of August came with plenty of rain but we finished out the last half of the month with 100+ degree days and no rain in sight. The rain gave us a little cushion but we could sure use some more. Harvest is starting later than normal, maybe in a couple more weeks and the harvest (according to my husband) is going to be better than expected and of course better than the last few years. Maybe, just maybe we're slowly coming out of this super severe drought we've lived in for the last 3 years. I'd like to think so but until my daily prayers include asking for rain. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Football!!! Finally TACKLE with all the fixin's!

Football equipment has invaded my house and Yip and Yap couldn't be more pumped! This year, in third grade, they are finally old enough to play tackle football. So a couple weeks ago DR took our boys plus the neighbor boy to pick up their equipment then they spent a good hour adjusting helmets and pads. I never realized how many separate straps and pads come with a football uniform. Sheesh. 

I found it particularly funny how DR would check the fit of the boys' helmets. He'd grab them by the face mask with one hand and with the other he'd give em' a good hard smack a top the head, three or four times,  and ask, "Does that hurt?" What resulted was a room full of giggles...not very intimidating! 

DR did a thorough job fitting the helmets and pads...but he forgot the pants. 

The boys first practice was helmets only. The second practice was helmets and shoulder pads. The third practice was a full uniform which meant they got to wear their pants. DR neglected to have them try on their pants. Tuesday evening as we were getting ready to go to football practice, and DR was still at work, I sent three boys downstairs to put on their pants. I waited. And waited. And waited....and waited. Finally I had to holler down to see what was taking them so long. 

Their pants were all similar to these except black. 

See the double loop buckle. Well, none of the three boys knew how to loosen it up; I doubt they tried. They came hobbling up the stairs with their pants hanging under their butt. So I had to help them with that and they had a flap of fabric below the laces (kind of like the tongue on a show) that they didn't know what to do with. So there I was giggling to myself in front of these rough and tough cool 9 year olds....who can't get dressed without their mom! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preschool Carrots

I have to admit that, for the last year or so, I've had a hard time coming up with blog posts. Or maybe it's not that I don't have things to write about but rather I don't think my stories are that interesting. But I was talking to my mom this morning on my drive to my foot doctor and as I was filling her in on the latest goings on in southwest Kansas she would say, "I thought I'd see a blog post on that" or "I saw so and so last night and she was telling me how she keeps up with your blog". So and so happens to be someone I haven't probably seen in 15 years! Maybe it's time then to start posting , what I think, are some of my more boring stories. First up....pulling carrots.

Yahoo has started preschool this year and she loves it! Every morning she's excited to get up and go and every afternoon she rattles on about what she did that day at school. I love this preschool too. It's through the public school so I'm not paying tuition like I did with the boys in Illinois. She goes a half day every day and best of all it's only two blocks from our front door. Her teacher is young and only in her second year and she's great! Mrs. Lang is so energetic and open to all kinds of new things. I thought the preschoolers and their teacher may like to take a "field trip" to my garden so on Monday they came down to to visit me. I think teachers and schools should use as many resources in their community as possible and I'm all for volunteering my space and skills! 

Their class has 8 girls and 3 boys, poor boys! They were so quiet standing there as I talked, well all but Yahoo. We talked about how plants start as seeds and what they need to grow. They searched out my tomatoes and zucchini and helped me pick them. Then we looked at the carrots and talked about how some plants grow under ground while some grow where you can see them. The highlight for the kids was when each got to grab a handful of carrot stems and pull. Don't worry, I moistened the soil up really well for them to make picking much easier. Once pulled they counted how many they picked, usually four or five a piece. They all wanted to pick more!!! (Wish I could have taken pics but I kind of had my hands full and dirty.) We didn't have time to clean the carrots they picked but I sent some carrots I had picked earlier with Mrs. Lang that they could have for a snack. 

I was more than happy to share my garden with them and see them so excited about growing things. Later that day when I picked up the kids, not only do I get Yahoo but I walk three others to their day care which is our neighbor, they talked all about my garden and so I asked them if they enjoyed the carrots. A couple had no qualms telling me they didn't like my carrots at all. Got to love their honesty! 

Maybe this spring Mrs. Lang would be interested in bringing them all down to plant some seeds! Wouldn't THAT be fun! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good morning long has it been?

Every morning Yip and Yap walk the dog before they head off to school. Today as Yap returned from his walk he rushed inside and hollered at me to get the camera. He ushered me outside to take pictures of the morning sky. 

To the west...

...and the east. 

It was funny because Yap even told me where to stand when I took the picture and insisted on checking it on my LED screen! If I thought he could do it without being late for school, I'd let him take his own camera on his morning walk. If I did that though the walk that takes 15 minutes would take an hour! 

This is one of my favorite songs by Jamey Johnson, Good Morning Sunrise. 
Alright, it's about having a hangover and being lovesick but I still think it's a great song. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A game I wish my daughter didn't have to play.

We live in a tiny Southwest Kansas town of 900 where it seems everyone knows everyone. DR and I have lived in 5 states and a variety of different communities and the one we live in now is by far my favorite! I've never lived in a community that looked out for one another like this one and where I've felt so very welcome. 

To top off living in just a wonderful community we just happen to live right across the street from Yip and Yap's school and two blocks from Yahoo's preschool. Any activity going on at the school, well, we have a front row seat for. Any game night Rebel fans cars are parked all around our house. On prom night DR and I throw open the windows and enjoy all the oldie music the kids dance to. 
This school started off with no exceptions. A week before school started the parking lot was regularly full of teachers cars as they congregated for training and meetings. 

However, a few days before school though there was some activity that raised my eyebrows. The school parking lot was full of a dozen county police officers at 8:00 am. The officers, many that I knew, didn't seem distressed as they drove in, chatted and mingled together as they went inside. They spent the entire day in the school. What on earth could they be doing in the school ALL DAY? 

Later I found out from a friend, who works at the school, that (duh) the police officers were spending the day at the school doing what I guess you would call a training procedure with the teachers. A couple of the officers were the "bad guys" and the others went through the school, room by room, in formation just as they would if an intruder were to come into the school. Then they showed the teachers if such an event occurs where students should go within each classroom. Our school is teeny tiny and logically I know that a school shooting here is extremely unlikely but I also understand that school administrators, understandably, feel the need to take precautions. (We have a GREAT superintendent by the way!) 

I didn't think much of the safety training and procedures being put in place at the school though. My boys are old enough, almost 9, to understand about why such procedures need to be in place. Sometimes dangerous people show up in schools. I haven't discussed with them in any detail the deaths of Sandy Hook or Columbine students. We've routinely discussed what to do if a stranger tries to take you and things along those lines of course, so they have a healthy level of, I don't know if I'd call it fear, but preparedness.

What really hit me in the heart this week was Yahoo coming home from preschool, which is right next to the boys' elementary school, and she was telling me about the "Intruder Game" they played at school. My heart skipped a beat.

"What's the Intruder Game?"
I asked with my heart in my throat. 

Yahoo happily skipped down the sidewalk and innocently answered, "My teacher says "Intruder" and then we all go hide in the bathroom." What really hit me was that there was no fear whatsoever in her voice. Yahoo is more scared of ants biting her feet than she is of an intruder in school. She doesn't understand what it is they are preparing for.

I don't know how I feel about this Intruder Game honestly. Oh, I think the teacher is doing a great job and preparing them for a highly unlikely event with as little drama as possible and that's fantastic. 

But I'm conflicted. Should I be thankful and relieved that this class of four year old's are so very innocent that preparing for a school shooting is something they have to do by playing a game? Or should I take all of this school preparedness as a sign I need to speak to my kids more about preparing for violence against them? In my heart I feel that they need to stay innocent as long as possible. I don't want to scare them. I don't want to put those images in their head they they'll worry about. I don't want them fearful where ever they go. But I also want them prepared. Or maybe I shouldn't worry about them being prepared for violence but lovingly provide them with the social and emotional support so that if they are affected by violence they'll have a network to fall back on. 

What is your school doing different this year? Any thoughts? Concerns? 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Foody Friday - Loaded Mush

A couple weeks ago DR took a quick trip home to Indiana to deliver an irrigation motor to his brother for one of our fields that ironically was dry as a bone last year before we could get irrigation on it but flooded this year as the crew was trying to put in the irrigation rig!

Anyway, while DR was in Indiana he took a day to meet some friends and family at the Indiana State Fair. Of course he kept me up to date on all the great fair food I was missing! Rib eye Sandwiches!! Indiana State Fair Rib eye Sandwiches and Swiss Cheese Grilled Cheese on Rye were about the only thing I ate when I was in Indianapolis in August growing up! YUM! 

Once, while bragging, DR texts me the following message; 

"We need to try laoded plenta. Your dad likes it."  

I responded, "Plenta? Perhaps a misspelling?"

"Yes. Its like mush with bacon and other stuff in it." Of course my dad likes it, he grew up eating mush!

"Polenta. I've made that, you've just never eaten it. (He's notorious for not eating new things that I make. But of course he'll eat it anywhere else!!) Bacon. Onions. Cheese. Sounds good!" 

After he got home we experimented a couple times and came up with a recipe that we both really liked! 

First dice up your veggies, I chose mushrooms and peppers but really anything will work. 

Fry up a pound of ground sausage or a pound of bacon. When you are finished transfer your meat to a plate but DON'T drain the grease from your pan!!! 


Next you need to saute your vegetables in that wonderful grease, maybe add a bit of butter or olive oil if your meat was a bit lean. 

While your sausage/veggies are cooking you can put your broth in a saucepan. I didn't have any broth on hand so I dissolved some bouillon cubes in water...worked alright! 

When your broth is ready and getting nice and warm melt your butter in the broth.
FYI - I use REAL butter for everything. Not margarine, nothing fake, nothing with weird chemicals on the labels. REAL BUTTER y'all isn't gonna kill ya! If you can't pronounce what's in it then you don't need to be a eatin' it! 

Oh, yeah..add a bit of salt and pepper here...whatever looks good. 

It's kind of hard to take a photo of this next part by myself but when your butter/broth is boiling a bit turn down the heat to medium low and SLOWLY start adding in the cornmeal and Parmesan cheese whisking it smooth until you've got it all incorporated and stir until it's thick. 

Nice and smooth...ish. A few clumps but don't worry, they'll all even out in the end. 

Then we add in all the sauteed veggies and sausage and mix it thoroughly into the cornmeal. 

Finally pour it into a couple of bread pans and allow to cool. When they are cool you can remove them from the pans and wrap in aluminum foil. I put one loaf straight into the freezer and the other loaf in the fridge. For breakfast I slice up a couple of pieces and fry them in butter on medium high along side an egg in the morning. Mmm, mmm, good! 

Loaded Mush

1 pound ground sausage or bacon
2 green peppers, diced
mushrooms, diced 
2 1/2 quarts of chicken broth
1/2 cup real butter (not margarine)
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Brown sausage or bacon. Set aside but reserve grease in pan. Saute veggies in meat grease. Heat broth to boiling. Melt butter in broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk cornmeal and cheese into broth/butter mixture. Cook on low until thick. Stir in meat and veggies. Pour into greased bread pans and allow to cool. Slice and fry and eat and enjoy! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Finally found a site for Animating Photos

I stumbled onto a website,, where you can animate your photos. I'd been searching for something like this weeks ago for Yap. He's gotten really into photography and has tried to make movies on his little digital camera but we weren't having any luck transferring them to the computer in order to view. This might be a great alternative for Yap, for a while at least. I'm considering buying him his own inexpensive video recorder for Christmas. Does anyone have any suggestions for something small, inexpensive and good for a 9 year old? 

These shots of Yahoo was my first attempt at animating photos. Don't you just LOVE that dress? Her Aunt gave that to her. Now my house is slowly being taken over by rogue red sequins! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

How I Got My Kids to Eat ALL Their Dinner Without Complaining!

I think I've inadvertently stumbled across the greatest "get my kids to eat" trick of all time. Tonight, my boys ate all their (gross) dinner without complaining. I know, unheard of! 

So, tonight we were sitting down for dinner of leftover chili that we'd eaten a couple of nights previously. None of my kids like chili but it was a cool day (68 degrees!) and I needed something quick and simple. Chili it was. Yip and Yap moaned and groaned Wednesday night so I wasn't expecting much cooperation tonight either. So I tried the Age Rule on them. 

Let me explain, the Age Rule was something a friend of mine was telling me recently. In her house the rule is the kids have to take the number of bites as their age. In her case ages 4, 3, and 1. I've actually been using this rule for a while on Yahoo to get her to eat only 4 bites of her dinner. She usually eats without too much complaint and it has solved quite a few battles with her at the dinner table. To get the boys to eat I usually just resort to, "Eat it or Else!". 

Back to the horrible chili dinner tonight....Yip and Yap moaning and groaning over the chili they thought was horrible and disgusting.  The "Eat it or Else!" approach wasn't working at all. 

"Fine!" I sighed as I threw up my hands in desperation. "How old are you?" I asked. 

"9!! Well, almost 9." Yip answered eagerly. 

"Alright then, you only have to eat 9 bites, BIG bites, of the chili!" I compromised. 

You would have thought I had given them a prize! Yap started shoveling faster than I'd ever seen him eat something that wasn't a dessert and his 9 bites almost finished the bowl. Whoa. And Yip, well Yip went above and beyond and finished his bowl, quite fast I might add, in only 8 bites. 

The chili wasn't any different than Wednesday night. The portion size wasn't any different either but I felt like I had different kids at my table. That number, just 9, quantifying exactly how much they had to eat made all the difference. I don't think they realized at all that nothing had changed or that they had easily eaten a bowl of chili that two nights earlier had been a daunting task. It was just that #9 and it was amazing. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to make a No Sew Clothes Organizer with the help of Subway Sandwiches.

I had a pretty busy crafting day yesterday. I made my FREE WEEDS sign and then after the kids were in bed I whipped up a clothes organizer for Yahoo. I figured I needed to make something for her since she's starting school in 10 days and I sure don't want to have a clothes fight with her every morning. 

I banged it out pretty fast! It probably helped that I was watching Supernatural. I'm hooked on that creepy show...doesn't hurt that Dean Winchester sounds just like my husband..HA! 

My kids and I love going to Subway but I don't really like all the kids' bags that come with the meals. I know they are supposed to be reusable but they are too small to be useful and they have odd handles that aren't easy to use. 

I took a pair of DR's old jeans and cut up the legs into rectangles. 

I saved the back pockets though. I have a whole stash of them because I know I can use them for something....someday. I just don't know what. 

Break out the glue gun!!! 

Dang! Where did all my glue sticks go? It wasn't too long ago when I bought a package of 100! I remember..Yip's Iron Man! Man...I'm going to have to make that boy buy his own hot glue sticks from now on! 

Luckily I didn't need to much glue. I hot glued the raw edges under. 

Then I hot glued it over a hanger. 

After I cut off the bag handles I glued the bags on the denim. 

Not too shabby and all done before Dean and Sam salted the evil spirit! 

Hopefully Yahoo will flow with the idea and I won't have arguments every morning over what she's wearing to preschool!  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Free Weeds!

I found the cutest sign on Pinterest; FREE WEEDS! 

Doesn't every gardener need a sign like this? 

I decided to make my own. I found an old cabinet door sitting in my garage. 

I gave it a couple coats of primer. 

Then a coat of some leftover blue paint. While it was still wet I wiped some of the blue paint off with a rag to try and give it a bit of distressed look. 

Then I free handed some lettering. I could have gotten all fancy but really, it's a sign for a garden. I think it should be kind of rustic. 

I took some sandpaper to it to make it look even a bit more distressed then hung it up on our garden fence. 

I'm thinking it might need a bit more sanding for an even rougher look. 

In our little town quite a few people go walking in the early morning or evening right by our garden so my little sign is sure to get some attention. I'm sure I'll get plenty of laughs from it but really, I'm hoping someone will take my sign serious! Doesn't every gardener wish some passerby would take them up on the offer of taking the free weeds? 

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