Thursday, December 09, 2010

Go Directly to Jail...

While playing Monopoly today, I was sent directly to jail. I asked the boys what my crime was. Their responses were:

"I think you stole some furniture." ~ Isaac

"I think you went to a store and got something but forgot to pay." ~ Elijah (I like how I "forgot" to pay and didn't really intentionally commit a crime)

"You were skidding." ~ Luke

And the winner...

"I think you were running around in the street with no clothes on!" ~ Levi

Thank-you, Levi.

Friday, December 03, 2010

One Hour

Recently Wade's work schedule changed... well, not really changed so much as got more stringent. They ix-nayed taking a short (or no) lunch in order to come home early. Drat.

I didn't think this would really affect my routine much, but sheesh, it has! Now instead of having things in a somewhat clean and peaceful order for my beloved to come home to at 4 p.m., I don't have to achieve household zen until 5 p.m. One might think this extra hour would be nice, but I've come to rue it.

Now I face one more afternoon hour of chaos with the chores undone (no, I can't possibly get on them earlier than I need to). And that precious hour between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., when the chores used to be done but I still didn't have to get dinner started, that beautiful time when my husband was home and all was peace and order in the house and I could sit there serenely looking like a stellar wife and mother, well, it's gone!

Now that hour is spent doing the chores so things still look calm and orderly when Wade gets home at 5 p.m., and I don't even get to sit down and enjoy it because it's time to start dinner!

I know, if I were more disciplined I would go ahead and get things tidied up early even though Wade won't be right home, but it's not nearly as satisfying to bask in that hour alone (the boys won't bask with me), and chances are if I cleaned early, things would be all a-chaos again by the time Wade got home anyway.

I may just have to have a chat with Wade's boss and explain to him how his cracking down on hours is really distressing my routine and mental well-being. I'm sure he'd be sympathetic.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Spirit of the (ND Homeschool) Law

This past Sunday Pastor Brad concluded his series of sermons on The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus' point in his sermon in Matthew was that the pharisees had adhered only to the letter of the law and had lost the spirit of the law. And my mind wandered briefly to our school year.

The letter of the law says we need to do four hours of school per day for 180 days in a year and pass standardized tests. The spirit of the law, in my understanding, is that children are given adequate study time to fully grasp the concepts of their grade level, which is proven by their passing standardized tests. And here, too, the spirit of the law is more important than the letter.

Now, as a Christian, I am called to the highest standard of obedience, first to God, and also to my government. And so I struggle with this question: If I fulfill the spirit of the law (their comprehension), am I obligated to meet the letter of the law as well (days and hours)?

My heart says yes, rise to the highest standard, go the extra mile, strive toward perfection, give no one room to question my integrity, keep going through all 180 days. My head says oh good grief, just wrap up the school year when we finish our books.

What would Jesus have to say about this? Sigh. I think I already know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Abundant Life

"The Testosterhome Lady," as she is known in our house, posted an article yesterday that struck a chord with me, and so I'm sharing a link to her blog here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All Boy

Isaac quote number one, to one of his brothers: "Which one do you want to be first? The who gets hit, or the one who does the hitting?"

Isaac quote number two, as he engages Dad in a game of bloody knuckles (which Mom refuses to play!): "Girls are missing out. OUCH!!!"


I know, I've been slacking on the blogging, which isn't for lack of content as much as lack of time (or lack of taking time), but I'm taking a moment right now to share something that's been sitting in the "to blog" queue for several weeks, a fabulous piece of artwork that Luke drew free-hand and that I felt compelled to share because I'm that kind of a mother who thinks her children are just the most artistic and smart and fabulous kids ever to grace God's good earth, and I thought I'd try to play a little catch-up with the blog thingy. So if you haven't passed out from trying to read that whole sentence in one breath, here is a little something special for you to enjoy.

~ by Luke, age 7

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Jaunt Through My Mind

Lately it seems I've been bombarded with messages regarding contentment, possessions, wealth and generosity

... A passage from Isaiah stressed how God is all I need, not anything else.

... A Banner article pointed out the need to surrender everything to God, even what I hold most dear.

... A singer spoke about being content with little and giving up earthly things while storing up eternal riches.

... A textbook touched me with stories of refugees who leave their homes with nothing but their lives, if they're lucky.

... Another blog writer reflected on simplicity and finding contentment in doing with less. (Hi Amy)

... A realization during devotions opened my eyes to how much I desire comfort and convenience, two things Jesus completely did without.

I know possessions, even luxurious ones, aren't bad. God blessed Abraham and Job with great riches. But I know they would have been willing to give it all up in a heartbeat for the sake of their Lord, and God knew that too, thus it was "safe" for Him to bless them so. But me? Give up everything? But what about hot water on tap? What about electricity? What about high-speed internet access?

So here's the real question: do I accept all the stuff around me -- this embarrassment of wealth -- as a blessing from the Lord? Or should I view it warily as a potential stumbling block, an idol waiting to be worshipped, a hinderance to living a Christ-like life?

Such are the thoughts that go running through my mind, stumble, and end up resting there awhile.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

What month is it?

Today I harvested three things from our garden:

(That's pizza sauce in those jars. I didn't think to take a picture of all the tomatoes before I canned.)

So what month is it around here? June, August or October? Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm loving the on-and-on-and-on-going bounty!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I can understand getting caked-on mud on the outside of one's shoes, but on the inside? Seriously? Sheesh.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Doing School

I really enjoy taking pictures of my kids doing their school work.

Somehow they manage to act natural while I'm clicking away in their faces.

It almost seems like they study best when they know they're being photographed... which is not how they usually react to the camera coming out.

Yes, this is part of school too. Although there isn't much that's heathy about sausage, this counts for health and life skills.

I think I'm enjoying this book as much as the kids.

Don't tell them, but I read ahead.

This one makes me swoon. The elder three were explaining their history lesson to Elijah. Full-color picture-heavy textbooks work wonders for getting and keeping their attention.

This is spelling practice.

And this is playtime following spelling practice.

More spelling practice (it's good to have lots of word games in the house. Those letters come in so handy. Boggle and Bananagrams are also indispensable).

Spelling practice and observation skills, a good combination.

I tell you, and unfinished basement is also very handy. Since Levi and Luke had pretty much filled the front sidewalk with their spelling words the previous day, the basement floor served as a fabulous tablet for Isaac.

So that's what school looks like around here. It's kinda fun. Of course, I wouldn't take pictures of the grouchy grumpy parts (not that we ever have any of those, ahem).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Strawberry Recipe #8

I tried out this recipe about a month ago and was beginning to wonder whether I could still post it, but I was reassured today that, indeed, I could, since the strawberries are still coming on! I was able to pick about a quart today.

I found this recipe on-line and would give credit to its author, but I have absolutely no idea what website it was. So to whoever originally came up with and published this fabulous dessert, thank-you and I give you full credit!

Strawberry Roll

3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
Another 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar
1 tub of Cool Whip
2 pints strawberries, cut into bite sized pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and line with wax paper.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. With an electic mixer, beat egg whites until foamy (high speed). Add 1/2 cup of sugar a little at a time and beat until you have stiff peaks. In another bowl, beat egg yolks and another 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Then fold the flour and yolk mixture into the egg whites using a rubber spatula until just blended. Spread on the cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes.

Spread a clean dish towel on the counter and dust with powdered sugar. When the cake is done and cooled for a few minutes, slide a knife around the edge of the cookie sheet and turn the cake out onto the dish towel. Peel off the waxed paper. Roll the cake and the dish towel together and let it cool.

Break open the Cool Whip tub and stir in the strawberry pieces. Then unroll the cake gently, spread the cream and strawberries on it and re-roll.

Sprinkle the whole thing with more powdered sugar if you want. Slice into thick pieces. Store in the refrigerator.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Only in a Boy House

Overheard as boys dress up in costumes and round up weapons:

Boy 1: Okay, who's going to be the boxer on this level?
Boy 2: Aren't you going to be the boxer?
Boy 1: No, I'm the tae kwon do-er. You be the boxer.
Boy 2: No, I'm the imperial walker.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Does My Heart Good

for vocabulary practice, Isaac had to use each of his vocabulary words in a sentence.

"Jubilant: I am jubilant because I have brothers."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

If you don't like that number...

After three or four spirited repetitions of "United Breaks Guitars," Isaac politely asked Levi, "Would you please not sing that anymore? It gets annoying hearing the same thing over and over." Without missing a beat Levi changed his tune and began gustily belting out "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!" The boy was made to sing.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Strawberry recipes #6 and #7

The berry bushes are still producing madly (kind of like I love them, madly), but alas I've failed to properly document the last few things I've done with the madly delicious berries. So without further ado, two more madly awesome recipes incorporating the maddeningly amazing strawberry.

Strawberry Milkshakes

Strawberries, frozen
Sugar (optional)

Combine equal amounts of milk and strawberries in a blender and blend madly away. Add sugar to taste and enough ice to meet your desired thickness. For an elegant presentation, pour into glasses (or Veggie Tales cups if you're at our house) and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Voila!

Berry Pie with Fresh Fruit

That's the title it's found under in my trusty Joy of Cooking cookbook, and it's suitable for use with gooseberries, currants, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, huckleberries and loganberries. I rarely make a fully baked pie with strawberries (this may be the first time I ever have), but I had a craving for crust, the top and the bottom, thus baking was required.

4 c fresh berries
2/3 - 1 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/2 t cinnamon
2 c flour
1 t salt
2/3 chilled shortening
2 T chilled butter
4 T water
1 to 2 T butter

Combine first amount of sugar (based on tartness of your berries), 1/4 c flour, and cinnamon and sprinkle over berries. Stir gently and let sit for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450.

Sift together (or just combine, if like me, you don't have a sifter) 2 c flour and salt. Combine chilled shortening and butter and add half to flour mixture, cutting with a pastry blender or crumbling with fingers until it has the grain of cornmeal. Add the rest of the shortening mixture and work in until chunks are pea-size. Sprinkle dough with water and blend lightly until it holds together. If needed, add more water one teaspoonful at a time until you can gather it up easily.

Divide dough into two balls, and roll out for crusts. As my mother does, I like to slit the top crust creating a picture of whatever is inside the pie. Lay the bottom crust in a pie pan, pour in the berry mixture and dot with butter. Place top pie crust over and crimp edges to your liking. Eat the leftover dough after wiping down the inside of the berry bowl with it.

Brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake another 35 to 40 minutes or until top is nicely browned and juices begin to leak through the slits in the crust.

I must say (must I? okay, not really, but I will anyway) that this was hands-down the best pie crust I have ever made. I've used this crust recipe before with just average results, so I don't know if it was the weather, the thoroughly chilled shortening, the luck of the rolling or the panties I was wearing, but something (everything!) went right with this crust, and it was divine. Madly so. I was tempted to eat the whole thing myself except the kids saw me making it and might not have forgiven me if I'd not shared.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Points toward domestic goddesshood: I canned pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from our garden.

Point deductions: I used a packaged sauce mix -- just add tomatoes and a spoonful of sugar.

Not that I was seriously in the running for achieving deification as a domestic goddess anyway. I mean, really, I rely on boxes for all my cake and pancake needs, miss the yearly mopping requirements by a mile, and ignore the boys' bathroom until the guys in body suits and gas masks show up threatening to shut down my homemaking operation due to toxicity issues. Oh well. Who wants to be a goddess anyway? Way too much pressure for me. I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy my pizza sauce.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What's it called again?

Isaac: "Hey Mom, you know that thing in our government? The, um, table of contents, I think?"

Me: "The Declaration of Independence?"

Isaac: "Yeah, that's it."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Metamorphosis: Take Three

The monarch has emerged!

These caterpillars ate voraciously! Luke captured eight of them, and I wondered whether my milkweed would survive the constant picking of leaves and branches! It was amazing watching them eat the leaves -- chomp, chomp, chomp, row by row, like little corn on the cob munchers.

Watching them enter their pupa stage was also amazing. They hang upside down for hours, and finally, with much squirming, burst their outer skin and peel it off, revealing this green, featureless blob.

And then a monarch butterfly comes out! It's incredible!

It astounds me that God chose this means for butterfly development. He could have just had adult butterflies give birth to live baby butterflies. Why egg, larva, pupa and then adult? Perhaps metamorphosis exists, at least in part, to give us a glimpse of just how creative, powerful and mind-bogglingly sovereign our creator is.

Communication Breakdown

Elijah, pointing to a spider: "I believe that is a spider."

Me: "That is a true belief."

Elijah, looking at me quizzically: "Who's ever heard of a troobeleaf?" He eyed the spider again and declared, "I saw another troobleleaf in the van."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting Old Ain't for Kids

"I just don't know about growing up. I don't know what I'm going to do, where I'll live, where to get my groceries or how to pay the gas bill." ~ Isaac, age 8

Friday, August 13, 2010

Plan "B" is for "Breakfast"

A funny thing happened in the kitchen this morning (and thankfully it had nothing to do with the caterpillars, grasshoppers or crickets). Isaac asked if he could make muffins for breakfast, which I delightedly agreed to. This was his second time making this particular recipe, so I stood back a little and let him take the lead. Perhaps I should have led (or at least paid attention) just a little more than I did though. After he got the batter all spooned into the muffin tins, he swiped a finger around the inside of the mixing bowl, licked it, and pulled a pucker face.

"This tastes weird," he declared.

I also tasted the batter and WHOO-EEEE! That was some batter!

"Isaac, do you remember how much salt you put in?" I asked.

"Let me look. It says right here. Three-fourths cup."

Oh dear, that says three-fourths of a TEASPOON!

We cooked 'em up anyway and served them to his brothers, just for kicks, and then pulled out the cold cereal.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Metamorphosis

Another miracle has occurred in the kitchen, and I'm not talking about Wade making dinner, which he does with enough frequency as to negate it being a miracle. Luke's second caterpillar has emerged as a butterfly!

Sorry about the lack of clarity. Taking sharp pictures through a mason jar is a challenge beyond my photographing capabilities.

After he formed his chrysalis, we did a little on-line research and read that this type of caterpillar winters over in its chrysalis. Oh boy, I thought. This pupa is going to live on my kitchen counter until next spring? For the sake of science and my son, so be it. So imagine my delight when it emerged after only nine days rather than 180! (Guess whoever wrote that internet article hadn't done quite enough research. Perhaps the late summer chrysalis-makers winter over, but not this one!)

It's a black swallowtail, and Luke discovered its emergence early enough that it wasn't yet ready to fly when we released it from its jar, thus allowing plenty of time for some fun shots of Luke and his little beloved pet.

Stay tuned for more metamorphosis news as we currently have another three chrysalises and eight caterpillars living in jars and an aquarium on the kitchen counter (or should I say in our science lab).

Monday, August 09, 2010

Moving mountains... or not

Sometimes I wonder why we don't see more mountains moving, when all it takes is a mustard seed's worth of faith. I can think of a few figurative (and one literal) mountain I'd love to see move (actually I'd like to see the literal one replicate, because I don't want it gone from where it is; I just want it visible from here as well). And I have absolute (at least mustard seed-sized) faith that God can make it happen. So why doesn't it?

I know, God's ways are so far above my ways that I get dizzy even trying to look up that high. But it does make me wonder whether my faith is really much smaller than I think it is.

I've noticed, with disturbing frequency, that the more my faith grows, the punier and more pathetic it appears to be. It's like I'm hiking in the mountains, and just when I scale a massive cliff and think I must be getting near the top, the mist lifts and I realize that I'm only just clearing the foothills. Although I've come so far, the top is farther away than ever.

I don't say this in a whiny way. I'm not complaining that the journey is long. It's encouraging to reach those points when things become clearer, even when what you see isn't what you expected or perhaps wanted. But it does make me wonder whether my faith, which I feel is maybe almond sized, is actually so so so much smaller than I know. Perhaps it still has a whole lot of growing to do before it's able to move mountains.

Overheard in a house full of boys

Isaac as he came to the breakfast table: "My boogers are extra crusty this morning."

Levi's exclamation on finding a cucumber as big as a dinner glass: "Pokey fright!"

Elijah's favorite way to preface something serious he's about to address: "You might notice that..." (as in "Dad, you might notice that my owie is getting better," or "Mom, you might notice that my shirt is very dirty.")

And this sympathetic doctoral advice from Isaac to Luke, who was complaining of a tummy ache while we sang the national anthem at Saturday's rodeo: "It's okay Lukey, you're supposed to put your hand right there anyway when we sing this song."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A well-thought-out plan

Isaac: I've been thinking of running away.

Me: Where would go?

Isaac: Well, I was thinking that you should drive ahead of me and put little paper arrows in the places I should turn, all the way to Nana and Papa's.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fly Away Home: Light Saber Up

Synopsis: After eager developers begin demolishing a swamp area near her father's farm, 13-year-old Amy rescues 15 goose eggs from the wreckage, and hatches them in a barn. The goslings devote themselves to Amy and follow her everywhere, but trouble begins when the local animal control officer wants to clips their wings. A second problem arises when Amy and her dad learn that geese learn where to migrate to by following their parents. Together Amy and her dad come up with a crazy but just-maybe-workable solution that takes them on a 1,000 mile adventure, 15 geese on the wing.

Highlights: Fly Away Home was touching without begin sappy; dealt with issues of grief, anger and reconciliation without going (too far) over our kids' heads; featured wonderful footage of geese and countryside; and was enjoyable for the whole family.

Snags: There were a few words that I would have preferred be left out, but they were few. At one point when Amy was missing her deceased mom, her dad explained that she was all around her, in the geese, in the clouds. A nice thought for a child perhaps, but a bit off base from a Christian perspective. Amy's dad also has a sometimes-live-in-girlfriend.

Conclusion: This film is family-friendly, exciting, funny, beautiful, features a happy ending and is loosely based on a true story to boot. It ranks high on my re-watch list. My only wish is that we could find a TV edited version that might omit some of the few objectionable words. Light sabers up all around!

Strawberry Recipe #5

I spread this light and delicious frosting over a basic yellow cake, but I think it would be divine on angel food cake! Note: I was warned that this doesn't do well sitting on a cake in the fridge overnight, so make this frosting that day you plan to eat it.

Strawberry Frosting

1 egg white
1 c sugar
1 c sliced strawberries

Combine all three ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form (I was told 20 minutes, but it only took me 5, so keep an eye on it). That's it. How easy!

Monday, July 05, 2010


We finished up the school year with a study of insects, and one of the activities was to catch a cricket and observe it for a few days. Well the boys were having way too much fun with this, and started capturing all sorts of creatures, including a red, white and black striped caterpillar we identified as Euptoieta claudia.

I really didn't give the caterpillar much of a chance -- I figured it would die soon like all those I caught as a child and tried keeping in jars -- but alas, it surprised me! After a couple days it attached itself to the cheesecloth top (he kept escaping through the vent holes) and formed a chrysalis! This happened on June 29. And by the way, this was the most beautiful chrysalis I've ever seen (not that I've seen a lot). It was a metallic blueish green with shiny gold spikes. We wondered how long it would take to emerge and hoped it wouldn't happen during a vacation!

Much to our delight it emerged during the night last night, on July 4, and boy is this guy stunning!

Here it is still in the aquarium next to it's broken chrysalis.

And here it is outside as we prepared to release it. As soon as we opened the lid he fluttered away across the yard and into the big blue sky. Watch out for birds, little buddy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Strawberry Recipe #4

These are a little bit time consuming, since you can only cook a couple at a time and kind of need to babysit them, but they were very yum! Take note: in moderate or high humidity, either eat or seal these up right away or they get soft and lose their shape.


3 large egg whites
3/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c flour
6 T melted butter (no substitutions)
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease large cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites, powdered sugar and flour until well blended. Beat in melted butter, vanilla and salt.

Make two cookies by dropping batter by heaping tablespoons four inches apart on cookie sheet. Spread batter to form four-inch rounds. Bake cookies until golden around edges, about five to seven minutes.

Place two two-inch diameter glasses upside down. With large, thin spatula, quickly lift hot cookies and gently shape over bottom of glasses. When cookies are cool move to wire rack. Store in single layer in an airtight container at room temperature.

To serve, fill with ice cream or whipped cream and berries or fruit.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And I Quote

Luke: Mom, do you remember in the Bible when Moses' staff turned into a snake? Do you know why I think God turned the other guys' staffs into snakes too? So that Moses' snake could eat theirs up and they wouldn't have any staffs any more."

And that's the real reason the Israelites were set free -- the fear of a nation-wide staff shortage.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Light Saber Up

Synopsis: When Flint's FLDSMDFR (Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator) is accidently launched into the atmosphere and starts raining burgers on Swallow Falls, the fate of the dying town is turned around. Things are looking up for Flint and the newly renamed town of Chewandswallow, until the machine begins malfunctioning. Now Flint and weather reporter Sam Sparks must risk their lives to shut it down.

Highlights: I loved when Flint told Sam that she was even more beautiful with her glasses and scrunchie, and that she should let herself be smart instead of acting flaky so that more people would like her. There was also a great side story going on with Flint trying so hard to impress his dad, and his dad having a hard time expressing himself to Flint, which was solved in the end with the use of the monkey thought translator.

Snags: Okay, this is more a personal preference than a real drawback to the movie, but it had several moments of Jim Carey/Adam Sandler humor -- that obnoxious, stupid, irritating, not-even-really-humor-if-you-ask-me humor -- but that's just me. I'd have enjoyed it more without the monkey and the cop's twitching chest hairs.

Conclusion: This was a good clean film (if you can call a movie about falling food clean) that was entertaining for our whole family. The emphasis on family relationships was also nice to see. It's not high on my re-watch list, but I if the kids ask to watch it again, I'm comfortable with that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Strawberry Recipe #3

This delightful dish was our Father's Day dessert. Yum!

Strawberry Trifle

1 pkg. angle food cake mix
1 6-serving pkg. vanilla pudding
5 c. sliced strawberries

Bake cake according to package directions, let cool and break into small pieces. Slice berries and mix with a little sugar if desired. Prepare pudding according to package directions. Before pudding fully sets, layer in a large glass bowl: cake, berries, pudding, cake, berries, pudding, cake, berries, pudding. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. For added aesthetic appeal, arrange some halved or sliced strawberries over the top (not shown in picture).

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Aren't some days just so like this?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Strawberry recipes 1 and 2

Our strawberry patch has begun to produce fabulous, beautiful, delightful and oh-so-delicious berries. This may be the summer of the strawberries at our place.

One day the boys came in exclaiming, "Mom! We found five!" Everyone gets one but mom.

The next day it was, "Mom! We found 12!" Everyone (including mom) gets two!

The day after that came the cry, "Mom! We got 30! Can we make a pie?" Um, not quite, but we can each have five berries sliced over whipped cream. Okay, I confess, it was just extra creamy Cool Whip, but it was still good. And by the way, that right there was recipe number 1.

This afternoon the boys picked a scant quart, and yes, we made that pie! It was delicious. Here's the quick and easy recipe we used so that it would be ready right away after dinner.

Quick Strawberry Pie

1 c flour
2 T powdered sugar
1/2 c soft butter
1/8 t salt
1 1/2 c water
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 4-serving pkg. strawberry jello
2 c slice strawberries

Heat oven to 350. Mix together flour, powdered sugar, butter and salt and press into a pie plate. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool.

Combine water, sugar and cornstarch and cook until clear(ish). Add jello and mix well. Combine with berries and pour into crust. Chill until set.

Stay tuned to find out what else we end up doing with strawberries this summer. Have any great ideas? Please share them!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The curse passes on

Oh dear. I did it now. I fell victim to my own childhood sympathies for inanimate objects and have now validated those sympathies in my children.

Here's how it happened.

The boys made sand art ducks at today's street fest. They filled little plastic duck containers with layers of colorful sand, popped on a lid and voila, masterpieces were created. But the sand settled somewhat, allowing the colors to shake and shift. The three eldest were diligent to carry their ducks home carefully to preserve the distinct color striations, but Elijah had no such concern. His duck arrived home all one color -- brownish-blah.

Now here comes the part where I learn without a doubt that these are my children -- no switcheroos at the hospital.

Isaac and Luke were in tears over Elijah's poor duck that was doomed to a miserable existence of brownish-blahness. I understood completely. I recall finding a sad looking stuffed animal at a garage sale and begging to buy it and bring it home so that perhaps it wouldn't feel so terribly woebegone -- because stuffed animals have feelings, you know. Apparently sand art ducks do, too.

It took me many years to get over this irrational attribution of feelings to lifeless objects. I'm not certain I'm completely over it yet. Sometimes I still feel bad for toys left in storage.

So rather than trying to reason with my two overly-sympathetic boys, I blurted out the only thing that I thought would have comforted me as a child had I been in the same situation.

"The duck wants to be whatever color his owner wants him to be. If his owner is happy with his color, the duck is happy."

And of course it worked. I knew it would. But now I have verified the fact that toys have feelings! Augggg! I'm afraid I've cursed them to a lifetime of guilt for every toy they someday donate, sell or throw away!

And so the curse passes on to the next generation. Maybe, being boys, they'll outgrow the extreme sentimentality and properly teach their children that toys don't have feelings. I can only hope. It was more than I could do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Down a Long Dirt Road

Several miles off a North Dakota state highway, down a dirt road traveled only by farmers and ranchers, sits this church, long left to the prairie elements and wildlife.

It first stirs inside me a feeling of adventure, of discovery. Other than the neighbors, scattered as wide as the rolling hills and buttes, who has laid eyes on this building, this testament of faith? Even the sight-seeing ghost-town hunter would likely never find this spot, completely unmarked except by the building itself.

As I peer inside, questions greet me from every corner. What kind of merriment was had here? Weddings, certainly. Baptisms, potlucks, worship, of course. Likely funerals, too. Who were these people who prayed here and sang here? What became of the people who built it, with their weathered faces, rough hands and faith that could survive the prairie elements? Why did they leave, and where did they go?

At first, there seem to be no answers here. Only a tattered Christian flag, crosses on the walls, and broken windows are left of what was surely once a vibrant and useful church. Sadness at what has been lost begins to subdue me.

But slowly the story -- patchy and lacking particulars -- begins to show itself.

The Spirit who stirs the perpetual prairie winds stirred the hearts of would-be pioneers to leave home and family for this vast and relentless place. He provided faith and food for their souls and bodies. He enabled them to construct a house of worship in a barren place, much like the Israelites in another strange and harsh land. And today, as the evidence of his care and their faith stands broken by the wind, I believe that He holds many of them in his hands.

Those who seek him will still find him here. His door will open as easily as the battered and broken door unsuccessfully latched with a length of rusty wire.

I leave, not with mere excitement, nor sadness, but with comfort. Comfort that when I am as broken and worn as this building, my God will be here still. Peace that my life will tell the story of His love and faithfulness, even after my body's usefulness is exhausted. I know that he who enables me now, will never abandon me. He will hold my soul forever.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quick Takes

1. Thank-you, Dad and Mom DW, for the birthday gift of two blueberry bushes and a pot full of non-blooming beauties for the picnic table centerpiece. I quite enjoyed the greenhouse shopping spree!

2. The garden is planted! Yea! Corn, beans, tomatoes, carrots, cukes, cantaloupe, pumpkins and flowers are in, and the potatoes planted last month are finally coming up!

3. How is it that I, with my "less is more" philosophy, have at least ten times more bathroom stuff than Wade? Perhaps in the bathroom, more is more?

4. Grammar question: Is it proper to say we are cannibalizing the deck for the fort? Can a fort "cannibalize" anything other than another fort? Or are they similar enough that the saying works?

5. Check out this bottle of syrup, or more specifically, the lid/spout.

Cute enough idea, until you start pouring and your children notice, "Hey, it's puking on my pancakes!" Good grief.