Monday, February 28, 2011

Rainbows and Clovers to Welcome in March

It's Muffin Tin Monday!
And so what if March doesn't start until tomorrow.
We're excited about the month that brings Spring.
For lunch Pierce had a banana, an egg with a rainbow and clouds on it, a campari tomato, a skewer of pickles, and a grilled cheese sandwich with sneaky fresh spinach inside.
He ate every last bite and earned a mini tofutti raspberry ice cream sandwich for dessert.

Whenever I draw on eggs I inevitably receive questions.
So, as an FYI, I use food writers on the eggs.  I draw on the eggs after they have been peeled.  The food writers can be found in the baking aisle with the birthday supplies.  A set of 4 will run you $3.99 and they are so much fun to use!

If you'd like to see more Muffin Tin Monday ideas, click:
Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Sunday, February 27, 2011

All Boxed In

Our washer and dryer set was purchased when we were newlyweds, some 14 years ago.  They have held on strong, but the act of cloth diapering seems to have worn down our old dryer.  So last week we went and picked out a new dryer. While I was busy clinching my teeth over the expense, the boys were thrilled, but not because they wanted dry clothes.  No, they wanted  The Box.  And as it turned out, the box the dryer came in had a foam bottom with "windows".  Just perfect for play.


Hanging out on the inside. 

Peeking out the windows. 

One for each twin - no fighting!  Mom sure likes that! 

And even Pierce got in on the box action. 

Now, the real question is, how long do I have to leave the monstrocity in the middle of my living room?  The box is started to wear out its welcome....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie + the Giveaway Winner

So we mostly try to eat healthy and I do a lot of cooking from scratch.  This is not one of those recipes.  This is one of those recipes for when you want some easy winter comfort food, and you don't care if it's partially processed food, because it tastes really, really good.

Crockpot Chicken pot pie


2 cans cream of chicken soup
4 bonesless chicken breasts
salt, pepper, poultry seasoning to taste

Place in crockpot and cook on high for 6 hours. Use a fork to shred chicken in the pot after cooking.

Add fresh veggies (if you have time - they need another hour at least to cook). If you are short on time add 2 cans mixed veggies (drained). Add a can of biscuits to the top of mixture. Remove crock from the cooker and place crock in the oven. Bake according to biscuit directions (usually for 15-18 minutes at 375*.  I typically add a minute or two extra, as they often seem a little slow to bake).
 
Enjoy!

And now, the winner of my giveaway according to Random.org is Comment #7 - Mary from The Englar Fam.  Congrats Mary!  Hope you have fun with all the kid's activities.  And thanks to all of you who entered!

This recipe is linked with the Real Housewives of Oklahoma.
The RHOK

Friday, February 25, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - Moon Pies and A Store

Memory Lane Friday is a weekly blog hop where you can blog about your memories and link up.  I hope you'll join in today, all are welcome!  The topic is 'A Store'.

I've blogged before about the rural farm in Glade Springs my family inhabited when I was seven years old.  That year of my life is rich with memories and adventures.  While it was likely my parents' least favorite place we ever lived, from a kid's point of view it was my favorite.

Down the rural backroads, in the middle of nowhere, was a little store.  You know the type.  Fits "Mom and Pop" to a tee.  I don't recall the real name of this place, but my brother Taylor called it The Sucker Doggie store.  So that's what we always called it.  We'd be driving past and my brother would start hollering, "Sucker Doggie Store!" and then we'd have to stop.

He called it the Sucker Doggie Store because when you went inside the suspender-clad elderly man who ran the place had a sidekick in the form of a bassett hound, lazing on the floor.  Taylor loved that dog.  And before we left, the owner would always give Taylor a lollipop for the road.

The Sucker Doggie Store is also the location of my last purchased Moon Pie.  I was sick (with strep throat) and we were on the way back from the doctor's office.  My Mom felt bad I was so miserable and stopped so Taylor and I could get a treat.  I picked a Moon Pie and proceeded to dive into it on the way home.  We didn't make it all the way home before I tossed my cookies (or, um, cookie) in a paper bag.  Since then, I haven't been able to eat a Moon Pie. 

You can link up below if you'd like, just add your website to the linky. Don't forget to come back next week - the topic is 'A Favorite Subject'.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

False Teeth, Free to Good Home, Craigslist Ad #35976778

Craigslist Ad #35976778

Free to Good Home - One super-sized pair of false teeth, lightly used, in a lovely shade of off-white.  Slight Southern accent.  Minimal staining and just a few vices.  For more information, call 588-8881.  Ask for Deenie.  Or just come by 181 Waters Street.  I'll leave them in the broken petunia pot next to the old green mailbox.  Take them and run!

Disclaimer:  This set of teeth are prone to mysterious ailments, to talking in cliches, to ruining your social life, and to generally making you miserable.  Just a few examples follow.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

"Were you raised in a barn?  Deenie, go pick up your room.  It's a disaster in there.  Don't you know how to do laundry?"

"Deenie, stop looking so sullen.  Why can't you be more like your cousin, Lilly?  She always dresses so nice and bright and chipper and she's actually nice to her grandmother."

"Oh I don't think so missy.  No parties for you.  You stay home like a nice girl and wash your grandmother's hair.  And don't be getting soap in my eyes this time.  You know I have these cataracts and I don't want you going and making them any worse."

"Deenie you look like something the cat dragged in.  What is your mom thinking letting you wear all that makeup and that trashy skirt?  You go change right this minute."

"Just look at my swollen feet.  Deenie, go get my compression socks, would you?  They're in the right hand dresser drawer, under Grandma Daisy's doily collection, right next to Alfred's old Bible."

"Deenie, back in my day we didn't sit around on the phone all day.  We didn't even have those new fangled cell phones.  We had to spend our time peeling potatoes and shelling peas and hoping when we were out hoeing the corn we didn't get bit by a snake like Uncle Henry did that one time.  You kids are all so lazy - you don't know how to do a bit of work."

"Deenie, is that another McDonalds bag in your hand?  Again?  You are going to get so fat.  That fast metabolism won't last forever you know.  Why I just saw on Dr. Phil the other day they were talking about girls and - what did they call them?  Girls and muffin tops.  Deenie, you're going to get a muffin top, and it'll be all ugly and sticking out with those improper tight clothes you wear too.  Why don't you eat some nice vegetables instead?  Open up a can of creamed corn.  It'd be good for your digestion."

"Deenie!  Is that a nose ring?  Oh my heart.  Deenie, you're going to be the death of your dear old grandmother.  For the love of God, take that nastiness out of your nose and go get me a glass of tea and a peppermint candy.  I've got to sit down."

"Deenie, I don't think you're getting enough fiber.  Have you moved your bowels today?"

"Oh my aching back.  Deenie, go get my liniment."

"I thought I told you to get rid of that nose ring.  Deenie, I can't look at that nose ring, I just can't.  And you used to be such a pretty little girl.  What a shame.  When your mother gets home I'm going to tell her you're completely out of control.  It's that public school, it's ruining you.  If I had my way we'd put you in Catholic school."

"Don't you give me that look.  I saw that.  Your grandfather Alfred is rolling in his grave right now, I know it."

"Deenie, that ring!  THAT RING!  Why if I didn't have this hip pain I'd hold you down and rip it out of your nose myself!"

"Haf anyone theen my teef?"


This is a piece of fiction written for this week's Red Dress Club prompt:
We want you to imagine you've just had a fight with a friend, a co-worker, husband, significant other, child - you get the picture. You're mad. It's time for revenge.  What would you sell?
Write a humorous listing for eBay or Craig's List. Talk about the history of the items, why they must go.

To read more fun responses to this prompt (likely more humorous than mine - I struggled with this one) go check out The Red Dress Club tomorrow for the link up:


And don't forget to enter my giveaway for a kid's fun pack or a spa pack - winner's choice!  It ends tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Farming Flops and Car Bloopers

Here's the thing about farm life.  There's always something that needs to be fixed.  Or more like 20 somethings.  Unfinished projects abound and there's never enough time in the day to get to them all. 

I guess that over the years Paul and I have learned to roll with the punches.  I mean isn't it normal for your lawnmower to be held together with duct tape, and a mouse to build a nest in the door of one of your cars?  Or maybe it was because of that time we spent three months without running water (yes, I do need to blog about that at some point) - that definitely toughened us up.  Or perhaps we learned our survival skills from the process of building a house together.  We all know house building is just a recipe for mayhem.

One way or another, in 14+ years of marriage we don't flip over the little stuff so much anymore.  Because there is just so much little stuff that you'd drive yourself crazy if you worried about it all.
Like last week when I called Paul to tell him we didn't have water (and 5+ years later I'm still a little touchy over the no water situation, having slight PTSD over the 3 months of living without).  Paul calmly talked me through it.  I walked out into the bitter cold and hunted around.  Thanks to Paul, I found the source:
A busted pipe, one that we no longer use.  This used to bring water into the trailer, back in our single-wide days (yet another survival story).  It froze and busted, then ran until our well went dry.  I shut off the water system and my dear neighbor JP brought me enough jugs of water to get through the day until Paul came home with the part to fix it.

Well, I'd already forgotten the water situation the next day, when I went to meet Paul for lunch while my mom watched the boys.  We were driving by the mall, on our way to a restaurant, when we heard a CLUNK, ching ching.  Paul looked at me and said, "That didn't sound good".
I couldn't help myself.  I started laughing.  Paul started laughing too.  Maybe we're too immature to be grownups, I don't know.  Most people don't laugh when something falls off their car, but we've had plenty of experience driving vehicles that have seen better days. While we do the routine maintenance and upkeep, if we have extra money we tend to put it into the house or the land, not our cars.  And I have to confess that this isn't even the first time some random part has fallen off one of our cars.

Paul asked me to circle around through the mall to see what fell off.  So I did and we drove past the area again.  On his side, he saw a big spring, and on mine I saw a big bolt.
Paul decided he needed to go pick these items up.
So I circled around yet again, and pulled over to the side while Paul waited for traffic to die down.
Then he made a mad dash in the cold!
Across the road for the bolt, then back to our side for the spring.
There you have it: 
Paul thinks these go on the muffler, to hold it on.
Has he fixed it yet?
Nah.  But my muffler hasn't fallen off yet either.  If it does, I sure hope Paul's around to go scoop it up in traffic.

Have you entered my giveaway yet?  You can do so here!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hitchin' a Ride

The temperature yesterday was almost 70*.  I could barely stand my inability to run.  So I decided to see if riding would hurt my knee.

I usually take my point and shoot camera when I ride, because it's lighter and cheaper to replace.  TexWisGirl just told me yesterday that her point and shoot has a macro lens feature.  I decided to mess with mine (yes, had it a year, but never opened the instruction booklet).

Can you see the photographer reflected in Phoenix's eye?

We just took it easy.
I have my knees issues, and Phoenix has been lightly lame the past couple of times I've ridden.  He has been for x-rays and a vet specialist previously, but nothing could be pinpointed.
I expect he's just getting some arthritis.  So we mostly walked.  He's not lame at the walk.  Only at the trot, and only around corners going to the left.  Whatever is bothering him, it's mild at least.

Better than a remote control in the hand:

Down the old logging road.  It's been a while since I've posted any adventures down what we call 'the old road'.  One of my favorite parts of our land is the old road.

Ah, friends don't let friends roll in the dirt alone:

This post is linked with Angela's Show and Tail at WV Treasures.

Have you entered my giveaway yet?  Go check it out here!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Easiest Blueberry Muffins Ever

It's Muffin Tin Monday but we didn't make tins this week.
We did, however, make some really easy muffins.
This recipe comes together so quickly that you can easily throw them together in a morning.  Pierce loves them, and we've even taken them to his preschool for a mid-morning snack.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups pancake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In large bowl combine pancake mix and sugar. In another bowl whisk egg, water, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in blueberries.

Fill paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400* for 14-16 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.

1 muffin = 173 calories, 6 grams fat, 3 grams protein.

Recipe is from Taste of Home last May 2010.
 
Enjoy!

If you haven't entered my giveaway yet, be sure to check it out here!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gratitude

Remember I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Paul was working on a special project for the boys?
Well, it's just about done - all it needs is some dirt to level off underneath the slide.

This past Christmas (and Pierce's birthday), our family relatives were all so generous.
The money that they gave the boys was saved for this wonderful cedar playset.
Now we don't have to pile into the car and drive into town for swingset fun.

It came complete with clubhouse.  I hope it's not going to be no girls allowed.

Glider swing, which can sit two boys at once. 

Picnic table 

Rock wall.  Pierce is a pro.   

Telescope, overlooking our back pasture.  It has a nice view of one of our apple trees, where deer gather during the fall. 

I can't imagine a better gift for the boys.  They are going to have so many fun adventures on this.  And we're finally getting a few days warm enough to use it!

Special thanks to our relatives Cat Cat and Pop Pop, Pam and George, Granny Anne and Grandad, and Grandpa Bob and Grandma Carol for making this possible.  We love you!

Have you entered my giveaway yet?  If not, you can enter here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Thanks to Followers - Giveaway!

This Giveaway is now CLOSED!  Thank you!

Earlier this week I hit the 200 mark for followers, and I was so excited!  If you are following and I haven't followed back, just shoot me an email with your blog link and I'd be happy to do so.

As a thank you to my followers I wanted to do a giveaway to celebrate. 
In thinking of what to give away, it occured to me that about half of my blog readers are here because they like the parenting side of things.  And the other half of my blog readers are here because they like the farm/rural life side of things.  So I decided to do a winner's choice giveaway.  That's right.  I've got two different options, and if you win, you pick!

Giveaway #1:  First up is a bunch of fun kid's goodies.  Course we had to get a few kid farmy things in.  So first is a very cute hardback book called Dora's Eggs.  An Eggs-A-Glow dye set (Easter is coming up!), two coloring books (one Disney, one Sesame Street), a Disney puzzle, farm stickers, Crayola crayons, and my favorite - a Mister Men, Little Miss action figure magnet set (this is great for taking to restaurants or doctor appointments and keeping kids entertained). 

Giveaway #2:  This giveaway includes the cutest fondue pot ever.  I bought two of these because I thought they were so cute, and sent one to my Pinkalicious Swap partner.  Also are two Kiss My Face kits - one is an organic facial kit and the other is an obsessively natural serenity bath kit.  Finally, a mini manicure kit and a decorative note pad. 

There you have it!  So what do you have to do to enter?
You must be a follower to enter (if you're not currently a follower, you can become one and still enter), and I like to keep things really simple.  So just leave me a comment as to whether you'd want to win Giveaway #1 or Giveaway #2, and what your favorite item is.  Please make sure that if you don't have an email attached to your profile that you leave your email address in the comment.  That's it!

Giveaway closes February 25th at noon, winner (chosen by Random.org) announced on the 26th.  And yes, I'll be happy to ship to other countries.

Good luck!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - Milk Glass Treasures

Memory Lane Friday is a weekly blog carnival where you can blog about your memories and link up.  Some weeks have themes, this week does not.  Everyone is welcome!

How many of you can stop what you're doing, remember your grandmother's house, and smell it in your memory?  I can, I can smell the moment I walked in the door.  Five years old and engulfed in the smells of home cooking and heavy brocade curtains and my grandmother's lotion.  After all the hugging business was out of the way, my young legs would carry me to the slippery peach couch perched on ornate wooden legs.  That was where the visiting would take place, as I kicked my legs back and forth, but of more important interest to me were the side tables. Of which the peach couch had two.

On the side tables in addition to family photos and at times a magazine, there were two hobnobbed milk glass candy dishes like this:
On one side was the rounder candy dish and on the other side the more square dish.
And I knew a secret.
See, everyone went for the round dish.  The square dish was forgotten.
So although I, too, was drawn to the attractive round dish, I knew that the best candies were in the square dish.  It always had a better selection.
Sometimes, my grandmother would think about it beforehand and top off the candy for me before I even arrived.
She'd fill it with old fashioned ribbon candy mix like this: 
There were a few types I didn't care for, but mostly sugar was sugar and I wasn't too picky.
They'd dissolve slowly in my mouth as I listened to conversations in the room.  Sweet chatting.
As I grew older and became a pre-teen, sometimes the candy was forgotten, and I'd be the only one to remember to check the dishes.  I'd find the candies stuck together and stale.  I never said anything about it though. In retrospect, you can find so many little signs of Alzheimers in the memories of small daily life moments.

Want to link up to Memory Lane Friday?  Just add your website to the link up below.  Please take the time to visit the other websites as well!
Come back next week.  The topic is "A Store"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Bee Medallion

It was a warm day in May and I was up in the attic rummaging through forgotten boxes, trying to locate my late husband Walter's old photo albums.  No reason, really, other than that I missed him, even though he'd been gone fifteen years now.  I guess the soul can never forget its mate.  So there I was, digging deep, sneezing my head off from all the dust, when my hand paused on a satin red ribbon in the third box.  Gently, I pulled it towards me, eyeing the slightly tarnished golden bee medallion on the end.  As I slipped the award over my wrinkled neck for the first time in some sixty years, I felt the magic still there.  I was flooded by a wash of memories.

Suddenly I'm eight years old again, rushing out the door on young legs into the spring air, which is fragrant with Mama's rose garden collection, her pride and joy.  Those roses border our entire yard, front and back, and sometimes I get sick of finding myself hung up on thorns.  They make Mama happy, though, and that's all that matters really.  She's been prone to sadness ever since her twin brother Billy came back from the War so messed up in the head. 

I swing open the white wooden gate and rush down the sidewalk towards the woods.  I'm supposed to meet my friend Angie by Cameron Creek at 3:30, and I'm running late again.  I swear I'm always late.  Time just gets away from me what with marble collections and doll babies and yoyo tricks as distraction.  But this is important, so I break into a jog, even though if my Grandma drove by with Grandpa right now she'd make him stop the car just so she could tell me I'm not being lady-like.  But Angie and I are trying to get Walter and Alex to let us into their club.  It's BOYS ONLY or so the three foot tall rough-painted sign on the fort says, but we want in so bad we can't barely stand it.  If only we could cross that army-green canvas door, oh what adventure must lie behind.  Why there's probably castles and pirate ships and if I'm real lucky maybe a grizzly bear cave - must just be all sorts of delights for a tomboy like myself behind that door. 

"Angie!" I holler, as I see her messing with her braids by the creek.  Angie can be a little prissy sometimes, but she's alright.  "You seen 'em yet?"
Angie works a big wad of chewing gum over to the side of her mouth before answering.  She must have at least four penny pieces in there.  Course that's nothing really, I can easily chew five or six pieces myself.
"They're in there alright.  I seen Alex shoot a bird with a slingshot.  He missed."
Warily, we grasp hands and start advancing on the fort in the distance.  It seems like every step pops and creaks as we snap twigs and leaves, even though we're trying real hard to be quiet.  Turns out we're making quite a racket, and it doesn't go unnoticed as we close in on the clubhouse.  I see Walter peep out a window with a long spotting tube.
"Who's there?" he booms.
I gulp.  My hands are kind of clammy, so I pull out of Angie's grip.  I want this so bad.  I search for the right words.
"It's Patty and Angie.  We come to see your club." I try to sound like I know what I'm talking about.  My Mama says this is called having confidence.  She says young girls all need to learn how to act like they have confidence, until it becomes real.  So I'm practicing but it's hard.

"Can't you read?  Dumb girls.  You can't, can you?  GET OUT!" Walter roars.  And that's when they started a full revolt on me and Angie.  They were launching buckets of acorns and rocks and soda pop bottles out the windows at us, screaming like banshees the whole time.  Lord, they must've been saving up Coca-Cola bottles for months.  Glass was shattering all over the place.

Well, you better believe we took off running.  I pumped my arms and ran until my lungs hurt and my legs cramped.  I didn't even stop to look back and see if they were coming after us.  Angie tripped once and tore the hem of her favorite pink dress, and she scraped up her knee right bad.  I felt kinda rotten 'bout the whole thing, specially since she cried so hard, so I let her take my Mary dollie home for the night. 

That night after dinner, as I worked on my studies, I was all in a huff.  Can't read indeed.  Who did that Walter Mitchell think he was anyway?  I was going to show him.  I'd show him good.  He wouldn't know what hit him.  Why I'd do something so amazing that he'd be begging me to join his stupid boy's club.  I thought and I thought and after about an hour inspiration hit me cross the head like my big brother Mike when I take his bottle rockets.  Why I, Patty Maynard, I would win the town Spelling Bee. 

This is a piece of fiction, inspired by The Red Dress Club prompt, which is as follows:
Write a piece - 600 word limit - about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it's so meaningful to you or your character.
This is a story started from scratch, based on the prompt, but I had a hard time getting in what I wanted to say within the word limit.  In fact, my original idea was to write about the spelling bee itself, but I never quite made it there!  Please help me by pointing out any rough, choppy, or confusing patches.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When Your Baby Has Severe Acid Reflux, Part 1

The first time Pierce projectile vomited he was 3 weeks old.  I was walking down the steps with him, having just fed him, and he made this weird choking sound just prior to a Mach 5 spew of vomit exploding from his mouth.  I stopped in my tracks, shocked, as curdled milk dripped down my shirt, my pants, and pooled on my baby.  Having spent my high school years babysitting, I knew that babies spit up, but nothing like this.

For several days he continued to vomit like this, and I wondered if he had the stomach flu.  I called the doctor.  They had me put him on pedialyte to try to settle his belly.  A few days later his vomiting reacher a lower level of projectile, although he was still spitting up immense amounts.  We were assured that this was normal.



Pierce spit up so much that we had clean dish rags on every arm of the couches, on every counter, always something handy to mop up the vomit.  If we were going out, we would have multiple changes of clothes, and sometimes I'd put on two or even three bibs, so I could just peel one off after he threw up on the first.

We hoped that starting solids would help.  We'd heard that it would.
So come four months, we started adding rice cereal to expressed breast milk.
Pierce liked it, but he continued to throw up.
We discovered that orange foods like carrots set him off, so we stayed away from those.  When Pierce got 'set off', he'd vomit violently over and over again.  Like stomach flu vomiting.  Only he didn't have the stomach flu.

We tried all the usual.  Elevating his mattress.  Feeding him sitting up.  Gripe water, colic tablets, gas drops.  None of it made any difference, and we were continually reassured that things would let up once he was sitting up, crawling, walking.

Every single doctor checkup I mentioned the vomiting.  But because Pierce was what they called a 'happy spitter' who didn't cry from the reflux, they weren't inclined to treat it.  That is, until his weight completely fell off the charts (and he was small to begin with, born at 5 lbs. 11 ounces).  That day, his 9 month checkup, I'd gone in resolved to demand something for him.  We had tried Zantac, but it didn't help, and I hated forcing my screaming baby to swallow the medicine that smelled like hard liquor.  I knew that there was more to the situation than our pediatrician had realized.  During the checkup, Pierce cooperated by projectile vomiting SEVEN times during the 30 minute appointment, as I continually mopped up the mess with my arsenal of dish rags and Wet Ones.  The pediatrician, alarmed, said, "He does throw up a lot!"  In retrospect, I should have pushed harder for Pierce earlier on.  Sometimes moms have to be a strong advocate. I didn't know, and I felt like a failure.

We left that day with a referral to a gastroenterologist, and a prescription for Prevacid. 
I held my undersized, sour-smelling 9 month old close, hoping and praying that he was going to be alright.

To be continued...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chicken Dust

The twins are finally napping and Pierce is wearing his Buzz Lightyear wings and watching Toy Story 3 as I walk out the door of our log home and stride across the wooden deck, on task to gather the eggs. It's been three days, because the air has been so brutally cold and frigid that I haven't been able to will myself out there. In any case, the eggs certainly aren't going to spoil when the highs every day barely top freezing.

I walk down the steps and catch sight of Miss Kirby in her daily dusting.
Each day she hops into this large pot, another failed planting attempt on my part, and dusts herself on the remains of potting soil and dead root systems.
She looks scruffy, a mixture of the cold weather and the dusted dirt feathers.
She doesn't like it when I come close, although she isn't particularly unfriendly. 

Giving me the eye, she hops out.
Dirt tumbles from her once white plummage. 

I continue through the yard, past the uncompleted playset and across the slightly soft rich red clay, the never-washes-out dirt Virginia is so famous for.  There is so much moisture in the soil from the melting and thawing of frosts and snows on the mountain that my Merrell clogs sink just slightly with each step.  The soil I tread upon was once the part of a homestead spread paid for by moonshining during the prohibition.  Old Timers have told us the stories of old Hans Clemons, sitting on the porch with a rifle across his knees and a mule tied to the tree beside him, hollering at anyone who dared to pass by on the dirt mountain road.  We tore down the decrepit, unlived Clemons house to build our cabin, but my mind can still see where it used to sit, that crumbling, cracked foundation a mixture of cement and whiskey bottles.

My destination, the triangular chicken coop, is called a chicken tractor, because you're supposed to move it around every day.  I keep reminding Paul to move the coop, but he says he's got to get the old 1969 Ford tractor hooked up to move it this time, because it's in a strange location.  Paul has been procrastinating, something he's good at, and as a result the coop is getting a little gross.  He hates when I constantly remind him of things that need to be done, which puts me in a hard place, because I don't know whether to mention it yet another time or to just keep my mouth shut.  At least with these cold temperatures everything inside is frozen solid. I sigh as I open the nesting boxes, and hope that Paul will get to it this weekend. 

I reach my hand in the nest on the right, where there are two large brown eggs.  I tuck them in my Columbia fleece, thinking as I do so of Reid, who has been sick this morning.  His stomach was grumbling all morning; he'd grasp it and cry, and finally he had terrible diarrhea of the type that earned him a bath, with him sobbing the whole time.  I gave him extra snuggles, smelling his Johnson & Johnson scented head, and wondered how much of my spare time is devoted to worrying in some way about my beloved three boys.

I latch the box and open the one on the left.  Horace is nesting, but she doesn't mind when I greet her and gently push my hands beneath her feathered gray and white girth to pull out the clutch of eggs.  Three more large brown eggs.  Our white egg layers, the smaller chickens, haven't quite started laying again yet.  Once in a while we'll find a random white egg, but for the most part they stopped for the winter. 

The wind blows right through my jacket and I walk quickly back inside.  I've been tending the wood stove all day, so I know that warmth awaits.  When I open the door, the comforting smell of chicken pot pie in the crockpot wafts my way, and I hear the beginnings of grumbles coming from Cort and Reid's room, just audible over the ending of Toy Story 3, which I can't watch because it makes me cry.  Naptime, it appears, is over.

This post is linked up with The Red Dress Club whose prompt is: 

This week, we want you to imagine that after you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail.

To tell you the truth, I don't know what I'd have my dear boys see.  But here you have a 5 minute piece of my day and of me, as real as it gets.

This post is also linked up with WV Treasures Show and Tail, where people share their animal stories or pictures each week.  It is sure to warm the fuzzy-friend-loving heart, so go check her out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Valentine's!

Happy Valentine's Day all! 
Today is Muffin Tin Monday and the theme is Valentine's.
Pierce had a glass of water with a straw of hearts, some steamed broccoli in a heart muffin cup with a heart pick, a piece of homemade pizza (with a heart cut out of the pepperoni, mozzarella, goat cheese, olives, and mushrooms), applesauce in a red present muffin cup with heart frosting/sprinkles, and a happy face heart egg in a heart muffin cup. 

He ate everything but the pizza.  Well, he ate the toppings off the pizza.  Strange day - he usually adores pizza.  You just never know what they're going to eat on any given day!

Want to join in on Muffin Tin Monday:
Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Asian Beef and Broccoli Noodles in the Crockpot

I made Asian style noodles in the crockpot recently, and we all loved them.  Sometimes crockpot food tastes a little washed out, but this meal had loads of flavor, and we had plenty of leftovers for the next day.
Ingredients:
1/4 cup Kung Pao sauce (available in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1/4 cup Oyster sauce (also in the Asian section)
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white wine
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/3 cup sliced green onion
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 lb. beef, cut into strips (I just used stew meat)
16 oz. angel hair pasta
1 1/2 cup broccoli
1/2 cup edamame (shelled)
Toasted sesame seeds

In large bowl, combine first 9 ingredients.  Place beef and mushrooms in crockpot and pour the sauce over to coat.  Cover, cook on low for 5 hours.

Cook pasta according to directions.  Steam broccoli and edamame lightly.  Toss pasta and veggies with cooked crockpot sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's Not Valentine's without Cookies!

Valentine's Day is one of those holidays like Christmas.  It just begs to make cookies.
My Mom got us this Snow Globe cookie baking kit on Christmas clearance.
We decided to repurpose it for Valentine's cookies.
I saved the cookie cutter for future snow globe and/or fortune teller ball cookies.
We discovered four heart cookie cutters in my cookie cutter stash.  Not sure why I had so many.  After rolling, cutter, and cooking the cookies, we made the frosting and iced them.
Pierce handled the snowflake sprinkles.  Snowflake sprinkles can double as heart lace, you see.
For the first time, I think he got more sprinkles on cookies than in his mouth. 

Next for Pierce's favorite part - painting the cookies.
He loves these edible paints that come in the cookie kits. 

The finished products: 

Ha, well, turns out that they tasted better than they looked: 

Linking this post up today with JDaniel4sMom's Valentine's Party Week.  Go check her out for more great Valentines ideas:

Friday, February 11, 2011

One Year Anniversary and Valentines on Memory Lane Friday

Memory Lane Friday is a weekly blog carnival where you can blog about your memories and link up.  All are welcome.  This week actually marks the one year anniversary of Memory Lane Friday!  Not too many people have participated, but I continue to do it each week simply because I want to preserve my own memories for my family.  I decided that since next week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, I would like to recognize the person who participated most during the past year.  I wish I could recognize you all, because I've really enjoyed reading about your memories.  But one person stands out - I don't think she's missed a Memory Lane Friday since she started participating.  That person is Sonya, from Under the Desert Sky.  I don't know if she can keep it up with having just started grad school, but I certainly do appreciate reading her stories and memories each week.  Sonya, there's a package in the mail headed your way full of goodies to help you preserve your memories.  A travel journal, a photo album, and lots of fun scrapbooking supplies.  And if some of those things are not your style, you can pass them on for Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Enjoy! 

Today's theme is Valentine's Day.  How many can recall spending a miserable Valentine's Day in their youth?  One thing that sticks out in my mind is how they would do those carnation fund raisers (I read an article that many schools have since stopped doing these).  Every year you could buy a carnation for $1, attach a little note, and have it delivered to the person(s) of your choice during home room.  The profits went toward prom I believe. 

Every year was a bit of a suspenseful torment.  Would I get any carnations this year?  Or would I be left, empty-handed and shame faced at the end of home room?  I had years of both.  One of the nice things is I had a few girl  friends, and we had each others' backs.  We'd send one another white or pink carnations of friendship.  But it wasn't the same as getting one from a boy.
My senior year rolled around and here came the volunteers with their buckets of carnations.  I'd been dating more that year so I figured I wasn't going to leave empty handed this time.  Sure enough, I had a couple of flowers.  I eagerly peeked in the green folded notes stapled to the stems.  A couple from girl friends and then - the shocker - a pink carnation from one of the popular football players, C, and believe me - I didn't hang with that crowd.  I could've fallen off my seat with surprise.  It said something innocuous inside like "You seem like a nice girl".  I was intrigued. 

A few weeks later he called and asked me out.  Of course I said yes.  He was coming off a breakup of a logn-term high school relationship.  I don't think we'd ever spoken two words to one another before.  I wasn't a cheerleader and I wasn't in the popular crowd, plus I took the nerdy classes, so our paths just never crossed.  I didn't have an attraction to him but I was mostly just curious.  Why did he bother? 

The date was so fun.  I remember cruising the mall, hanging out at his house to meet his mom, and him attempting to show me how to drive his truck.  We had a really good time, although there didn't seem to be any chemistry on either side.  We were more like good buddies just enjoying life.  Probably he just wanted to get out of the house after his breakup.  And I was just interested to get to know him, this guy that could cross clique barriers without a second thought.

He never asked me out again, despite the fact that we seemed to have a fun time.  Once, crossing paths at the end of the year outside school, he mentioned that he'd always meant to ask me out again but never got around to it.  I don't think either of us had regrets that we didn't date again, but I did think he would've made a great friend.  Our circles just didn't interlap. 

Remembering this, though, I wish I could tell all the teenage boys out there, "Won't you just send a carnation to one unsuspecting girl this year?  Just out of kindness?"  It's those small, little moments of appreciation that hang in your happy memories for many years.

If you'd like to participate in Memory Lane Friday, you can add the link to your blog here:

Next week is a 'no theme' week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More From the Therapist's Chair

The writing prompt at The Red Dress Club for this week didn't fit in with my current mindset, so I won't be linking up this time.  Hopefully next week!  Instead, I wanted to continue the fiction writing from last week.  If you missed it, you might want to read this first so you will have the background.  Critique is encouraged and welcomed.  Am I telling and not showing?  Is it boring?  Does it jump around too much?  If you have thoughts, please comment. 

Jo thought, "This is it.  This is the breakthrough," even as she mentally acknowledged the panic in Tracy's eyes.  Jo had seen this look before in other clients, and she knew she'd better act and act quickly. 

"Tracy, wait.  Let's talk about this," and then, too late as Tracy rushed out of the room, leaving a trail of loose Marlboro cigarettes in her wake, "We'll get through this, together," Jo spoke softly, to an empty room. 

Jo sighed and opened her dayplanner, feeling that she had let Tracy down in some way.  Tracy wasn't scheduled again until the following Tuesday, and Jo couldn't know whether she would return or not.  Jo rose from her leather desk chair and stooped to pick up the scattered cigarettes.  She hoped that Tracy wouldn't mention them when she returned, if she returned.  Ethically Jo couldn't return cigarettes to a thirteen year old, but that certainly wouldn't win her any points with Tracy.  Jo sat against the bookshelf stacked full with counseling resources and eyed the small stack of cigarettes in her hand.  Hesitantly, she put one between her fingers, and brought it up to her lips and slowly inhaled.  The soft sucking intake of air soothed.  She hadn't smoked since grad school, and Jo still missed the ritual.  She exhaled pretend smoke gently and closed her eyes.  She hoped that Tracy would be alright on her own.  Did she go back to school?  Or was she off running the streets somewhere?  It was going to be long, suspenseful wait until next Tuesday.  Opening her eyes and looking down at the cigarettes, she blushed, and stood quickly.  "Ugh, what am I doing?" she thought.  She lifted some papers from the trash and stuffed the cigarettes underneath, where they wouldn't be seen by nosy eyes.

Jo made a few notes in Tracy's chart before going out to greet her next client, mostly to make sure the flushing in her cheeks had subsided.  Looking over her notes from the past few weeks, she recalled a conversation she'd had with Tracy a couple of weeks ago, when Tracy had opened the solid oak doors to her soul for just a few seconds.

"I don't know why MY mom has to be so screwed up.  I mean seriously, who runs off with a band and leaves her only daughter behind?  A folk band?  That's so....sixties or something," Tracy said, pausing to bite a fingernail.  She had inked designs over every knuckle and up her wrists in black.  In some odd way, Jo found the designs elegant yet primal.
"Tracy, when is the last time you saw your Mom?" Jo asked.
Tracy didn't answer for a moment.  When she finally responded, Jo could hear the fatigue and sadness in her voice,"Last summer.  The band was playing at Orangutan's and I thought - well - I don't know what I thought.  I was stupid.  I don't know why I thought that I'd turn 13 and things might be different."
Jo reassured, "I'm sure you weren't stupid.  We've talked about how you can't control other people's actions.  Only your own."
Tracy continued, "Oh, I was stupid alright.  Tom still doesn't know I went.  He might've tried to stop me if he'd known.  And of course it was awful.  Right away she comes up and for a second acts all friendly, giving me hugs and stuff.  But then seconds later she's all freaking out and on my case, calling me whore and...I....I don't think I want to talk about this anymore." 
Jo gently said, "We don't have to talk about this if you don't feel safe"
Tracy sighed.  She shifted her bony frame in the brown chair and then in a small voice said, "Sometimes I wish I could just be a kid.  I wish I didn't have to grow up so fast.  I feel like a forty year old in a thirteen year old's body.  I hate it.  I hate it I hate it I hate it."
Jo groaned inwardly at the memory as the light ding of the timer alerted her that she had ten minutes to her next appointment.  Tracy was such a fragile kid with absolutely no support system.  She lived with her grandfather, Tom, and he was failing in health and had no clue what to do with the hormonal adolescent in his home.  Jo knew she needed to staff the case with her partner and mentor, Andy, during lunch, but for now her next case was calling and she couldn't afford any further distraction. 

Jo quickly pulled the file for Grizzly Brunk.  What kind of name was Grizzly Brunk anyway?  He was a new client, but Jo couldn't help picturing Mr. Edwards from Little House on the Prairie.  Jo smiled to herself.  Surely not, as Grizzly was only fifteen years old.  Jo no longer accepted adult clients, preferring to specialize in adolescents.  She felt that this was the area where she could make the most difference, where she could offer help before it was too late.

Scanning through the file, Jo noted that Grizzly was a referral from the courts for grand theft auto, and that he'd had a psychological assessment by Riverton Psychiatric prior to his court disposition.  Most notable on the assessment were his IQ (which was 68, falling just under 70 - the cutoff for mental retardation) and his diagnosis of conduct disorder.  In Jo's opinion, the conduct disorder diagnosis was a catchall for teens that acted out in any way, but she'd form her own assessment after meeting with Grizzly and his mother.  Tracy flashed across Jo's mind briefly, calling her, but Jo forced herself to professionally push the thought aside and rose to go greet her new client.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Make a Zhu Zhu Valentine's Hamster Wheel

Paul is working on a very special project for the kids, and he had a piece of Quik-Tube left over (you can buy these at places like Lowes). 
Looking at this sturdy tube, I knew it must be good for something.
So I asked him not to throw it out.
Then it came to me.
This thing would be just the right size for a Zhu Zhu wheel!
And since we've been doing Valentine's Day crafts, we decided to fit this in.
I cut red construction paper to size, and Pierce got to work with the glue. 

Then, remember those homemade stickers we made yesterday?
If not, go read about those first!

Well, Pierce stuck his stickers all over the Zhu Zhu wheel. 

And next thing we knew, this guy was rolling all over the house: 
I think he likes it!

I'm linking this post with the Valentine's Party at JDaniel4sMom's blog:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making Valentine's Stickers with your Preschooler

Have you ever let your child make homemade stickers?
They are actually super easy to make, and the only thing you need are some old magazines, jello, and water.

First, have your child cut out pictures from magazines.  In this case, we looked for Valentine's themed pictures like hearts and flowers.

Place 2 tbsp. water in a microwave safe dish.  Cook to boiling point (in my microwave this was about 45 seconds).  Immediately stir in 1 tbsp. jello.  Since our theme was Valentine's, we used red jello.  Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Let your preschooler paint the backs of the pictures with the jello mixture. 

Allow to dry completely.
Then your child can lick the painted surface to make sticky stickers. 
Kids love the jello flavor.  Pierce said, "It tastes GOOOOOD!"
After licking, place stickers wherever you like.

We had a very special purpose for ours.
But you'll have to come back tomorrow to find out what!

This post is linked up with JDaniel4sMom who is hosting a Valentine's Day Party this week.  Go check her out: