Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just had to share...

One of my favorite websites to check and read is The Pioneer Woman. She's hilarious, and has the BEST recipes (as long as you can take the butter... the PW loves butter!). She has a cookbook that just came out, that I'm hoping to get for Christmas, and is doing a book tour that is currently not coming to Nebraska. But I'm hoping ;).

Mostly I check her site for recipes, but she also occasionally shares really random things. I think she's rubbing off on me.

We're having two Thanksgiving Dinners this year, the first tomorrow at Bill & Sara's, and the second on Thanksgiving Day with George & Renae and Renae's extended family. I'm bringing Sweet Potatoes to both (I always offer to bring the sweet potatoes because one time, a long time ago, I didn't and someone made the kind that are just sliced and floating in syrup. Yuck. Mashed, with brown sugar, is probably my favorite thing about Thanksgiving, although Sara's stuffing and my Brother-in-Law Darren's mashed potatoes are gaining steadily.)

Anyway... For the Sweet potatoes I'm making for Bill & Sara's, Mama Sara always gives me Sweet Potatoes from her garden. They're always giant, and fresh from the dirt, but other than that, they're recognizable as sweet potatoes.

This is what I got this year:

What?? Is this normal?

And if so, who knew Sweet Potatoes in their natural state look so much like our Colons? (sorry.)

Also, how do they make the ones you buy in stores look like normal potatoes? Come to think of it, do normal potatoes grown in nature do this too? I've had white potatoes from Sara's garden too, but they were just smallish, normal potatoes.

For contrast, this is what the sweet potatoes I bought at the store for my second dish look like:

Again, one from the garden.

That's one potato. I cut it into 3 large chunks to bake it. We'll see how long it takes.

Another question... What's the difference between a Sweet Potato and a Yam? Are they the same thing? Am I really making yams, and calling them sweet potatoes? Does anyone know?

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Luke part 2

For school this week, Luke has to write a 5 paragraph essay (yes, he's in the 4th grade...) about something that surprised him. We brainstormed ideas on the way home from church today, which was harder than I would have thought. He hasn't been surprised very much, since I'm not good at keeping good secrets. We did think of a Christmas he was really surprised by, but it involves Santa, and not all the kids in his class are in on that gig yet, and he doesn't want to be the one to break it to them. So he went with Tobin's birth.

I had to share. The ending is precious, but first paragraph itself is worth GOOD money. As in, priceless.

Here it is. Before you start reading, I'll remind you that Tobin was born in late March. In Nebraska. There was snow on the ground (that was the year of the late snowstorm, which killed all the tulips and ripped the blossoms off our pear tree just as they were budding.) It had warmed up somewhat, but it was still Nebraska in late March...

OK, read on:


The day my brother was Born

It was a hot spring day. I felt like a piece of gold getting melted by a blow torch. My mom had been pregnant for about 8 months. We were expecting a baby sometime soon. That’s how it all started.

On March 26th when I got home from school my grandma and grandpa were there. When they told me what had happened I felt like I was going to faint. We rushed to the hospital and that was the first time I had met my baby brother.

The Christmas before that we went to Texas where my nana and paw-paw lived. My mom had made me a shirt that said” I’m a big brother”. When we got to Texas I had my shirt on. My nana didn’t even notice until my mom said something about it. That was the first person I surprised.

The second person was my Paw Paw. He noticed my shirt but didn’t read it. But a few minutes later he was asking my mom tons of questions about him.

I’m never going to forget that day my brother was born. I’m hoping I can get another brother. Except no day will ever be exactly like that day. My brother is the best brother I could ask for. He’s the best brother of all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


So the major response (besides that they love it, of course) of both of my parents to our blog was to ask "Where are the pictures of Luke?" I feel like it's pretty even most of the time, they just happened to see it for the first time when there were more T adventures going on. And you have to admit the potty training stories were good for a laugh.

But far be it from me to embarrass only one of my children on the internet. We're equal opportunity around these parts.

Here's our Farmer Boy. Every year in Lincoln the fourth grade classes get to spend a day at Heritage School - they visit the Nebraska Heritage museum, and go to school in a one room school house, just like the first settlers of Nebraska. The kids are encouraged to dress appropriately for the time. Most boys are not too thrilled with this, but my boy actually loves dress up. AND he has a wonderful Grammie who managed to dig up some pretty authentic gear for us.

Luke's teacher said with his longer hair and the hat and suspenders, it really did look like he'd just wandered in from the prairie.

And for a less Little House on the Prairie...

Our son is Sasquatch. He now wears the same size as me. We just bought him new Basketball shoes (this picture was taken after BBall practice this morning), and they are GARGANTUAN. I think it's especially incongruous because the rest of him is such a stringbean. But he sure is cute. :)
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On a happier note...

Since my last post was uncharacteristically serious, I thought I'd better lighten it up for us.

Of course I'm doing that with a super creepy picture...

Opi's (Matt's dad's) birthday is at the beginning of November. Omi & Opi were sick on Halloween so they didn't get to see any of the kids this year, so they asked us to have the kids wear their costumes. (which worked out well with T, since he had spent the week after Halloween asking when we were doing Halloween again.)

Now obviously, Opi wasn't expecting his one and only son to show up in drag. A little background... This was Matt's costume for the College Group Halloween party last year

(Dionna, are you horrified to see how your Dorothy costume is being used? We actually do use it - worn by a woman - every year in our small group leader training, and it's a great visual for what we're teaching. That's why I asked to borrow it 3 years ago...and have never returned it. Do you want it back?? I'm sure I could find one to buy for myself...)

Anyway... Annalise (our niece, the good witch in the picture above - she was very insistent that she was a good witch) saw a picture of Matt/Dorothy last Halloween. Her response? "That Uncle Matt is just a big bag of trouble." It's become her name for him: "Hey there, Big Bag of Trouble!" (he calls her "Little Bag of Trouble") So he felt like she would be disappointed if he didn't let her see the Big Bag of Trouble in person. :)

Less creepy picture. Betsy had an absolutely adorable Poodle costume for Ellery, but she wasn't having anything to do with that, she trick or treated and came to Opi's in her cutie Halloween shirt.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Perspective: Christmas and Cancer

How's that for a provocative title? But that's what I've been thinking about this week.

For starters, CANCER. It should be a bad word. It sure is an ugly word. It took Luke's birth mom, Matt's first wife. Among many others, it's tried to take my neighbor, and is currently doing it's best to take a friend, the husband of my dear friend, and father of 2, in College Station.

And now it's here again. A dear family member, Matt's uncle, and one of Luke's very favorite people in the world, found out he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer last week. It looks like it is already in his liver, and we're waiting to hear a prognosis and treatment options now.

So.... I kind of feel like once a family has lost someone to cancer, that should be the quota. We've paid our debt, leave us alone. But it doesn't work that way.

We find ourselves back at the only safe place - the Lord is our only hope. He holds all of life in His hands, and He cares for Uncle Jon, Aunt Terry, and the rest of our family MUCH more than even we do. And He knows Luke's heart, and is well able to comfort any fears or worries Luke has.

I'd love your prayers for our family, for Uncle Jon & Aunt Terry, and for our sweet Luke. We did go ahead and tell him - we thought he is old enough, and we didn't want to hide this from him, when he'd likely have to know soon enough. We also wanted to be able to pray about this with him. He's doing OK so far... He was pretty quiet at first, as we expected, and pretty sad. I can tell he's thinking about it, but he told me he's trying not to think about it until he has to. The only question he's asked is if he can tell his class (I told him he could tell anyone he wants to.)

You're probably wondering what this has to do with Christmas? Well, Uncle Jon & Aunt Terry live in Austin, so we only get to see them a couple of times a year, Christmas being one of them. About 2 weeks ago, my family (who are early shoppers, like I am - or at least like I try to be) started asking for Christmas gift ideas.

I absolutely LOVE Christmas, and I especially love celebrating Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. It's SO important to me that my little turkeys know that Christmas is about what God gave us in Jesus, not what we get, present-wise. It's why we don't do Santa (we have santa decorations, just no pretend), and it's the heart of most of the Christmas activities we do through the month of December. It's why we participate in things like City Impact's Gifts of Love, and Operation Christmas Child, because we want to remember that Christmas is about giving and Jesus, not about what we get (especially considering that we have SO much!)

Christmas lists are pretty complicated for us, since we have basically 5 families who buy gifts for us. I have to come up with ideas and then divvy them out so that we can avoid duplicates as much as possible. Takes a lot of thinking and planning.

So about a week and a half ago, I got my spreadsheets going, and I sent out 4 of the 5 lists. I've let the kids look around in Target and Wal-Mart, and they read the toy catalogs cover to cover for ideas. As hard as I try to make Christmas about people and Jesus, it's early November and I'm leading my family right to the capital of Materialism-land.

I sent those lists out on a Thursday, and the following Monday is when we got the call from Uncle Jon.

There's not very much about Cancer that is a gift. But I've decided to take what I can get - the gift of perspective. In that one phone call, my perspective about Christmas completely changed. What a wake up call. I pray that we have years and years with Uncle Jon. But with this hanging over us, who in the world cares about what we (or the boys) get for Christmas? We're just looking forward to the time with them - it feels so precious.

And isn't all of our time with those we love precious? Because not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. So we will celebrate Jesus, and we will enjoy the heck out of every moment we get with each of our families this Christmas. And in the meantime, I'm saying yes to my boys a lot more - when Luke wants me to read with him, or play a game, when Tobin wants me to do the same 3 puzzles or read the same book for the 18th time a day. Yes. Yes, I will. Because the laundry will always be here. (Help me Lord, the laundry never goes away.) And no one cares if dinner is 15 minutes late. And the floor ALWAYS needs to be vacuumed. Those things will still be here tomorrow, but each moment with our families is a GIFT. Thank You Jesus!

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

Monday, November 9, 2009

My sister & part of her family were here too...

The day after Halloween, Khymberly, Alyssa & baby Langston arrived to join the party. K & A came up to go to the So You Think You Can Dance concert - tickets were my mom's birthday gift to each of us; L came because he still flies for free. That left my BIL Brandon home with my nephew Logan. We were sad not to have them with us for a full house. Whenever we talked about who was coming, Tobin would say, "Aunt Khymberly, Alyssa, Baby Langston, and NOT Logan." He'll be glad to see Logan at Christmas!!

Luke isn't in many of these pics b/c he was at school during the day except for the last day they were here, and I don't have those pictures (they are on my mom's camera, which is sadly, back in TX now. Not really sad about the camera, just the mom!)

Carving Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins is usually a Daddy-job, but we had a really busy week and had to rearrange a couple of things because of the weather. So... Nana & I supervised the carving (actually, my mom really did most of the supervising, and she carved Tobin's pumpkin; I cleaned and roasted the pumpkin seeds and took pictures!) Luke really enjoyed doing his, which he was able to do almost entirely on his own this year. Tobin wanted to help, until he got his hands in pumpkin goo and immediately changed his mind. But he was very impressed with Nana's work!

Roca Berry Farms Pumpkin Patch

On Halloween, we took the fam to Roca for the pumpkin patch. We've always been Vala's people (mostly because in the past we've gone w/ Betsy's family, and Vala's is in between us), but this year we wanted a smaller, less expensive deal. We all had a great time, and it wasn't nearly as crowded as we'd feared, since it was Halloween day (we'd planned on going earlier, but it was a rainy week.) It made for a full day of F-U-N (we went to the patch directly from Luke's fun run, went home for naps, then had dinner & went Trick or Treating.)

I'm kind of in love with Tobin's cowboy boots...

Trick or Treat

Before I get terribly behind... Here are our adventures in Trick or Treating.

Tobin LOVED it. He was just asking this morning when we are going Trick or Treating again. (He told me, "It IS Halloween!") I can't imagine what he's going to think of Christmas, Halloween was such a hit! All night long, he kept asking, "Are we having Halloween??" And he would tell everyone we saw, "We are having Halloween!!" (after he told them his horse's name was "just horsey." :D)

As a kid, I was a big fan of Halloween, because I've always loved dressing up. I have mixed feelings now (because of the link with witchcraft and the fact that it is a big holiday for pagans etc.). We've found a compromise that works for our family, and it sure is fun to see the kids enjoying the heck out of this holiday!! I probably need to lay off the halloween candy, however... :)
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