Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Score--Boys 8, Girls 4

This weekend we headed for the folks' to meet up with this new little guy. Born last week to my brother and his wife, we were glad to meet Mr. Ryder James in person. Is he not the cutest little guy?? So Grandma's new score is 8 boys and only 4 little girls! And for those of you that don't know my family well--Tristan is the oldest of those 12 grandkids--and he is 13!! There's quite a noise factor going on in that house when everyone is present!! And everyone was present for supper Saturday evening! The older boys are learning to play Texas hold-em and enjoy playing that with Papa Don and their uncles! The 3 older girls had a great time playing together this weekend too. Cami is just now really able to keep up with Haley and Taryn, and stuck to them like glue. Papa was heard to speak out loud (a little sarcastically if you ask me) "Oh, I'm so glad we finally got those four quiet little girls!!" At that point in time, I believe they were all running and screaming as they went. We made an attempt Saturday to take the big kids to the pool for a while before supper. However, someone had puked IN the pool right before our arrival, so they closed it for the rest of the day. Talk about 5 bummed out boys!

At any rate, the kids enjoyed each other, and the adults enjoyed visiting too. There never seems to be a dull moment around that place! I promised Brendan that I would put this picture on my blog. . .and I couldn't let him down. I had just gotten Ryder focused in my camera with his mama looking down so sweetly at him and noticed Mr. Cheesy over her shoulder. . .being himself mostly! There is also NEVER a lack of laughter there either!!
So with the addition of ONE more grandbaby. . .
we celebrate the many photo opportunities ahead of us. . .

. . . to get good quality group photos

without anyone throwing a fit

or crawling out of the photo, only to be forcibly placed back IN the photo

without anyone throwing a fit. . .Oh, did I say that already? OK. .
Or having their mother join them in the group photo!

Heaven help us!! WE GIVE UP!!
But we're happy to have little Ryder join us anyway!
(By the way--those ARE our best grandchildren pictures:-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beef Chimi's

It's been a while since I have posted a recipe. As I was fixing supper tonight, I decided that these were recipes worth sharing! I found the recipe for the beef chimichangas many years ago and it is one of our favorite dishes!! Initially it called for frying the chimi's in oil. However, if you read my fitness post, you'll recall our inferior genetics. While I described my history, I don't think I mentioned that J's dad had a heart attack and multiple bypasses at the age of 38--yes 38! So we try not to fry very often at all! So, I baked them instead and they turned out really well--not like fried, but good! Several years after that, he and I took a vacation to Santa Fe and Albuquerque NM, where we feasted daily on wonderful New Mexian cuisine. The last night we were there, I could't even sleep because I was so STUFFED from overeating an entire HUGE grilled chimi, and the sopapaillas that they serve in baskets there just like they serve chips around here. After that, we have been fixing them on the grill regularly and love them that way. It was much too cold though to grill them tonight, so we baked them in the oven and crisped them under the broiler at the very end for a couple minutes. Hope you enjoy!

Beans and Rice
1 onion chopped
2 or more cloves of garlic, chopped
Olive Oil
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 can diced tomatoes
Ground black pepper
1 cup cooked rice
Sauté onions, garlic and pepper in olive oil. Rinse and drain beans. Add to skillet. Drain most of liquid from tomatoes, add to pan. Add fresh cilantro if desired. Simmer for 15 minutes. Mix in the rice and serve.
This recipe was one my sister in law put in our family cookbook, and this was the first time we had tried it. J and I loved it! I think the leftovers would be good wrapped in tortillas the next day, you could even add a can of cooked chicken or leftover meat to it. It also tasted mighty fine dipped out with a chip! I'm a chronic recipe tweaker and substituter. I didn't have red beans, so I used ranch style beans with jalepeno in them. We did add the fresh cilantro, just because I have some in the greenhouse--I think it definitely put it over the top! Thanks Steph!

Beef Chimichangas
1 to 1 1/2 lb ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 can refried beans
3 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
12 flour tortillas
1 can green chilies, diced
jalapeno diced to taste
1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown beef and onion, drain. Stir in beans, ½ cup tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic, and cumin, and a handful of cheese. Butter one side of tortillas, spoon 1/3 cup beef mixture off center on the unbuttered side. Fold edge nearest filling up and over to cover. Fold in both sides and roll up. Fasten with toothpicks. Bake desired number of chimis in oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes. May freeze extras, thaw before baking. For sauce, combine chilies, peppers, and remaining tomato sauce, heat through. Serve with chimi’s. We also like to grill them till heated through
Jeremy loves the sauce a lot and this recipe makes a lot. Tonight I just used a 15 oz can of sauce and put the green chilies in what was left after adding to the meat mixture. It freezes well too, if you have leftover.
Nothing like a little fiery food to warm the soul after a LOOOOOOOOOONG and COOOOLD winter! Adios!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


We had a fun weekend despite the once-again nasty weather! We took our junior high youth group for a skating party. I personally love to skate--we went skating for 4-H parties regularly when I was growing up.
Last year I decided after the emergance of Cami, that I would have the opportunity to go skating for at least the next 18 years or so. So I searched out some roller blades on ebay and it cost me more to ship them than to buy them there. . . and still cheaper than a new pair. The kids LOVED it--all of them. We have been taking the boys since T was in kindergarten or so, and they are getting better every time. D absolutely cracks me up. . . He gets out there like he has been skating a million times and gets down to business. We debated on whether to take Cami or leave her with granny. We decided to take her along. She was good for lots of laughing. We got her some skates that fit right over her shoes. She wasn't scared or even the least bit intimidated by them. She just started shuffling her feet right away. I held her hand for the first round and she did great. Then she looked up at me and shook my hand off hers and said "my do it myself!". . . and she did! The rink had these cute little "skating walkers" for little guys. They were made out of PVC pipes with wheels. She saw one little guy
using those and decided she needed one too. We enjoyed watching her manuever that walker around enjoying the fun!!

Even J will skate and enjoys it. He's the tall guy with the cap in the picture! We got to laughing because he wasn't going to go with us, just stay home with C. His excuse was that he was "too old to fall." My retort was that he really doesn't fall--he's a pretty good skater. So of course, he took about 3 shuffles on the rink and hit his backside on the floor! The bright side of that was that our friend Monika got the courage to skate after watching him fall immediately!! Many of the parents that went skated that night. I think the kids enjoy watching their parents do something that we shouldn't be able to do because we are OLD!! However, I was hoping to see Danny's hot pink roller blades!! Hope he can find them before we go the next time.

We skated the limbo, the stretch and the hokey pokey. Because I had planned this outing, God said "let there be some bad weather or some other problem for her to contend with" and it was. My friend Susan called me at noon to see whether I thought we should leave earlier so we didn't miss skating because of the storm rolling in. In my defense, I waited until TUESDAY to make the final plans for the party to avoid any conflict with weather (the kids are still disappointed about the conference that we missed several weeks ago because of the snow). I also have to admit that this was our SECOND attempt at the skating party--the first one was right after school started at the end of September. I didn't call the rink and used my information from last year. We drove up there the weekend BEFORE it opened--so we played kick the can in the dark at the park before freezing in the parking lot of Sonic to eat good snacks before heading home. So my kids asked a dozen times whether I had called ahead this time. . . And being the OCD girl that I am, I had called TWICE and listened to their schedule and then called BACK on Saturday and spoke to them personally! Anyway, we had a great time!! I wish I would have taken pictures of the blisters and bruises--they may have been more fun to look at than the actual skating pictures, which by the way, were awfully hard to get in the dark and as fast as people moved! We enjoyed supper at Taco Bell and got home just as the rain and sleet started!
We had beautiful snow Sunday and the kids got to sleep in yesterday. Track practice starts indoors this week. I am hoping to get our garden seeds started this week so they will be big and mighty in time to put in the garden. Every day I pine for the warm weather and beautiful flowers. Our family is settling into the routine of having mom home regularly and it is all good. I am about to get caught up with the things put off for months and years. Yesterday while C napped, I sorted all of my photos for the last year and then put a few scrapbook pages together last night. I am not an elaborate scrapbooker, but I enjoy some cool paper, stickers, and designs on my pages. I will work hard over the next several weeks to get that caught up. My blood pressure continues to drop by the day!! We head to my folks this weekend to meet our new little guy, so will have pictures to brag about next week. Be blessed!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fitness Goal. . .MET

The week after Valentine's Day 2009 found me starting a new fitness program. I have always loved athletics--LOVED sports in high school and college. Somewhere around the time I got married, the graduation from college and having that first baby the athletic stuff stopped and life began. Sure, we liked to go to the lake in the summers and I might be found walking outdoors if the weather were nice, but nothing regular. I gained weight with the babies, but I was only 23 and nearly 25 when the first two were born. Breastfeeding, age, and good metabolism took care of that extra weight EASILY! My tune changed when D was born 4 months before my 30th birthday. Still ate what I wanted and only did the daily activities of a normal mom raising 2 preschoolers. I will never forget the day that provoked my change in attitude toward exercising again. We didn't have any type of full length mirror in the house. . .NONE. The mirror that we had was in the bathroom and I could see things to the top of my chest. D was born Nov 25. While at my mom's for Christmas, I stepped out of the shower and got a full view to my knees from the mirror hanging in her bathroom. WOW. I turned 'round and 'round taking it ALL in. When I ran into Jeremy after I got ready for the day I leaned over and whispered in his ear. "Why didn't you TELL me that my ass was hanging down to the back of my knees?" It really was more of growl than a whisper. He leans in toward me and whispered so lovingly in my ear "I've been trying to for the last 2 months!" WHACK!

The moral of the story was this: All the Christmas cookies went into the trash as soon as we got back home, and that began the first of my many exercise regimens! For the last 7 years, I started and stopped exercising multiple times. Sometimes it lasted for 5-6 months, sometimes for just 2-3. Each time I quit was because of major stressors in my life. With Cami's pregnancy, I started exercising around 5 months because I knew how hard it was going to be to take that off. I exercised long enough after her birth to take off the weight and then a few nasty weeks of calls took care of that habit! Exercise was the easiest habit I ever learned to break!!

I tell you all of that to tell you this. . . Last winter I made a committment to myself that I was going to begin and CONTINUE some type of exercise program. Back to a week after Valentine's Day 2009, I started a walking program. Doing 3-4 days a week of walking for 30-40 minutes each time. It took me 5 months of that program to finally lose most of the belly fat gained from the last pregnancy. I also find that it doesn't take too many days of not exercising in a row for that to "show up" again. I have managed to continue that regimen for ONE WHOLE YEAR--WHOOPIE!! And I am excited about it! Now I know, those of you that know me are saying BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!! But I don't exercise to control my weight (or I didn't used to--I like to eat and age is now making that a little harder). My family history (at least on my dad's side) reeks with heart disease. At one time my grandpa had a record at a Wichita hospital for having the most bypasses successfully done at once, WHOO HOO. Something to be proud of right?? My dad had a 3 vessel bypass done at the very young age of 51. That day while looking at him with his arms tied to the bedrails, and tubes coming out of every oriface he had (and some orifaces he didn't start out with) made me vow that I would NOT end up in that bed if there was anything I could do about it! And I won't!!

I am a fair weather exerciser. I hate cold, hot, windy, dark, or wet weather. You will find me out walking when it is above 70 degrees but below 85 degrees with no to very little wind. In western Kansas, that limits my outdoor exercise to like 30 days out of the year :-) So, much of my exercise was done in front of my TV. I used Leslie Sansone's walking DVD's and got a fabulous workout from them!! For Christmas my mom got me the Wii active more program, which I am love, LOVING!! I was sore for at least a month as it worked muscle groups that I even forgot I possessed! I have actually GAINED 5 pounds since starting that I am sure belongs to more muscle, less fat! Which I guess is OK.

The bottom line is that you have to MAKE it happen for you. . .or it most definitely won't!! I have tried different workouts, different workout times and days. I am finding out what works and doesn't work for me. And that even changes from week to week sometimes! Even after year though, I still argue myself out of bed some mornings--I'm excited that I have been able to be consistent and PERsistent and I hope that I can do a 2 year anniversary party too!

And I while I will never look like this. . .
I hope to NEVER look like this. . .

with hair, of course!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend Scenery

I just couldn't help myself from my last post--but these pictures were the ones that I really intended to post!! The weather was delightful Friday and Saturday. It was nice to use the swing set and wander through the flower beds "poking around." The highlight of the younger boys' weekend was getting the go carts running. That seems to be a perpetual feat. The one pictured above got ran through the mud last fall and was drug into the back yard to be cleaned up. You can see that never happened. Look really close at their feet and you will notice the mud is so thick that it cracks!!

J sprayed all kinds of stuff in different orifaces to try and get it going. Even Cami was wondering what was taking SOOOO long. Now, I'm not much of a wrench head, but even I knew that the dirt that came careening out of the motor the first time it started wasn't really supposed to be there!!

D was sure thrilled to be able to drive his cart around a few times before it got too cold!! Cami doesn't get to ride with him very often, but his is a two seater and it has seat belts that work, so she goes sometimes. She loves it!

Grant's was easier to fix, so he took C with him for a while. After J had all the go cart's moving, we decided to go for a short cruise in the ole' A. We all hit the end of the drive at the same time and looked much like an odd little parade heading back to the shop.

When it was my turn for J's attention, he helped me put up the cool birdhouse that D made for me (with the help of Pastor Doug) at kid's club. It is a little hard to see the birdhouse but I couldn't resist the beautiful sky in the background. If you look really close you will notice four openings in the log. It is screwed onto a huge hedge post and is wired to the regular fencing fence post. I think it looks very stately--and D is quite proud of it!
Valentine's day was enjoyable. We had 4-H Sunday at a different church and then lunch with the club at the pizza joint. After a short trip to the nursing home to deliver Valentine's we went home and just hung out. I am enjoying "just hanging out" much more than I thought I would. All the kids were home and we had no extra ones (that is getting really common--T was at a friends house Fri/Sat and G had one over--they tend to swap weekends--I guess we will be getting much better acquainted with kids over the next few years.
I traditionally fix a really nice supper on Valentine's day for my guys (and now my girl, too!)--since I can remember, really. So this year was no different. We thawed some shrimp that we get from a friend on the coast. We also ALWAYS have sparkling grape juice for little valentines and the real deal for the big Valentine!! G started asking a week ago if I had the "kid's wine" (I think he has been cursed with my OCD!) And of course, always end the meal with J's chocolate truffle valentine pie. It is made of chocolate chips and real whipping cream--a little sugar and thats it--Yum-And rich enough to last us till next year!! Next holiday. . . EASTER! unless you count President's day (which my sister would) and Saint Patrick's day--but they don't sell special chocolate for those, so WE don't count them!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Things That Make You Go HMMMMMM

Beautiful weather we have had here the last couple days!! We all enjoyed getting out and around in the yard today. The kids rode their bikes and hunted "stuff" with their BB guns. J had his shop doors open and worked on his Model A for a while and then helped the boys get their go-carts up and running. And me?? I wandered around looking for any sign of spring or life that I could find. . . what I really found though, was why we never seem to have enough clean eating utensils!!


Happy Valentine's Day!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Home Office Re-do

Well, I must say that as I posted the "before" picture of how our front room/office area looked 2 weeks ago, I was mortified. I told J last night after I uploaded the pictures that I was even embarrassed to put them on my post. How funny and cluttered the room looked--and the mess on top of each surface is a pretty typical mess! So there you have it--the OLD room!! Wow, do I love the NEW room much better! You'll notice the old computer desk (the one in the back corner) is set into an alcove--which proved to be a nightmare for me. I had always intended that an L shaped unit was what I needed to make the space work. I had pictured the L extending down each wall. As I looked, I wasn't able to find anything that would fit into the alcove!! The closest fit was 10 inches too long. So I changed the way that I looked at things as I saw what was available and re-formatted it in my mind. I still ended up purchasing the first thing I had seen, the one that was 10 inches the wrong fit. So check out below how it worked out!!

Much less clutter now. That old Hoosier cabinet went to an open spot in the back room.

The small filing cabinet fits perfectly back in the little alcove, and it is the perfect place to hang some of my favorite black and white pictures.

Here is my small and humble, but beloved collection of antique first aid kits and medical "stuff." I enjoyed checking the dates of the books again as I re-arranged them. I have a very small memorandum type medical book with beautiful handwriting in dated 1898. Also up there is a little glass urine specimen jar, an old glass jar labeled vitamins, several old medical books written in the early 1900's, and a box of medical gauze. The greenery got robbed from other places in my house. I love plants and greenery, but can't keep stuff alive at the top of my cabinets.

I got this frame from the hospital staff for Christmas. I chose some of my favorite family pictures and had them printed in black and white--I love York photo online to do all those cool things!

Here is the back room. It was the first of our major house projects. We added on this large room which included a second bathroom when Tristan was in preschool (I remember this because he told his busdriver--who asked what we were building when the foundation was poured--that it was a bathroom--the biggest bathroom that busdriver had ever seen :-) Anyway, the washer and dryer got moved to this room out of our old bathroom. They are to the left. As well as freezer space, a large pantry cupboard, huge closet and a wonderful cleaning closet. It is a multipurpose room for sure!!! The old school desk got moved and in comes. . .

. . . The first piece of furniture I purchased after we got married. I was looking for something like that and wandered into the local furniture store (the same one that brought my new office to me last week). He advised me that he didn't sell anything like what I wanted, but showed me an auction listing that had this little beauty in it. Since I had to work that weekend, I called in with a bid and won!! We drove to Great Bend that night to pick it up. Jeremy wanted to throw it into the canyon last week, but I just couldn't let him do it!!

I enjoyed robbing my kitchen of the items I now have in it!! Aside from the big book in there, the smaller cookbooks belonged to J's great grandma, and are the cutest little things! The Cain's coffee tin was from my grandma's house when they had their auction a few years ago. The cracker jack tin (which is one of my favorites) was bought a last year at the city wide garage sale for 50 cents! Well, there you have it!! What did you think??

4-H Day

Oh my, oh my--what a HUGE mess I have had in my house. We got the new office set Thursday, and I have spent the last 4 days trying to clear the path!! I finally got pictures up on the wall last night, and the top of the desk mostly cleared out tonight--so now I have time to blog. I don't have pictures taken yet, but plan to do that tomorrow. I am IN LOVE. There is now a ton of room for me to clutter up with papers, mail, and "to-do" junk. One more list of organizational tools to purchase from my friendly Walmart store, and then we'll be set. Just let them TRY to lose something here!!

Here is a quick back track to last Thursday night when the boys performed at the county 4-H day.

T did an illustrated talk on hunter safety. He has really been struggling with school the last few weeks, so for him to have nearly memorized his talk was a big feat!! This mama was pretty proud of him. He was a little nervous, but was able to look up at the judge this year and talk TO her. I could tell that he was having to improvise on the words at times, which was great to watch him think on his feet. He got top blue and will get to go on to regionals in March.

G did an illustrated talk on photography tips he learned in his first year in the project. He had given the talk once for the club last fall, so it wasn't new to him. He also had much of it memorized. He didn't look as nervous as T was, and he also got a top blue--getting to go on to regionals. Hopefully we can get him to slow down just a little bit. Wish you could see that picture of Cami-it was so cute--I should try to download it to my computer and post it--it got a purple ribbon at the State fair this past year.

This is the first year that either of the boys has taken a talk to the regional contest. I am probably much more excited than they are! The experience is great for them, though they would argue right now--I hope they will see the benefit later!!

The sixth graders in our club--which consists of the 3 kids above did a band ensemble too. They sounded pretty good, and they seem to enjoy playing together. They also received a top blue and will play in March again. T's group has gotten to go the last 2 years, and always do well. They didn't quite get it all together this year, and didn't play anything at 4-H day.

Grant played the trap set at the school that night, but will be playing only his snare at regionals, because I refuse to haul his trap up there!! I'm sure it will be fine. He is a pretty good little drummer, and really enjoys to play and practice!

Here's Kayla and Jake--who play sax and trombone.
We will look forward to going in March--regionals are only 40 minutes away instead of 2 hours as it has been the last few years! Not sure if I mentioned it earlier, but we are also looking forward to going to the Wichita garden show in March as part of the photography judging class. They will have a number of seminars for the kids, and then will have some time after it closes to shoot pictures without the public viewers. One of my favorite spring kick off activities is a few hours roaming around in Century Two checking out the gardens. I am pretty pumped to be able to watch the kids see how incredible the whole thing is. Lots of exciting things coming up in the near future! Check back in a few days to see the office makeover!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


As I wandered around the house Friday, I spent a lot of time looking out the window, watching. . . WAITING for that snow to stop and the sun to shine out and clear the roads. For those of you that have been to my place, you know that we positioned our "pondless" waterfall right outside our front door and adjacent picture window. We love to hear the sound when the windows are open. We love to sit on the deck and listen in the twilight. We also love to watch the wildlife enjoying the clear water (despite an occasional rat we see in the early morning). Even other animals can't resist it. We watched our friends' kids and weiner dog a couple weeks ago for the afternoon while they were with an ill family member. There was a bowl of water out for that dog, but she couldn't stand it--she only drank from the waterfall when we would let her out.

We don't seem to have any bluebirds or cardinals around, but we enjoy the little sparrows, goldfinches, and dark eyed juncos. I filled the waterfall up Thursday as it was starting to get really cold--I hadn't realized how low it was getting. Thankfully I did, and it stayed running through the storm. The birds would land in the small sections that they could see and drink from them. They get water in their mouths and then throw their heads back to swallow it--it's pretty amusing. Above is a sparrow (don't remember which variety, but we have about 4 different types). Below is a beautiful little goldfinch. That was some of the best money and hard work we ever spent!!
By Saturday, J was keeping me so busy, I barely remembered that we weren't supposed to be there. We moved all the desk furniture out and he laid carpet down in our front room. We bought it from Lowes and he borrowed the stretchers from a friend. I absolutely hated it, when we first laid it out, but now I just love it!! The desk will move in Thursday. We took my little computer hutch downstairs to Grant's room, and he is thrilled with that--will keep some of his clutter down too! Right now my computer is sprawled out on a card table. I put EVERYTHING from my cluttered little computer desk on my bed so I would HAVE to sort and clean it before I could sleep. So now that is done, and the new little piles are lined up in my bedroom patiently waiting on their new home.
And of course, the kids did lots of snow play over the weekend. A friend of mine mentioned her kids going out and lasting 7 minutes. I just smiled and remembered when my kids only needed 7 minutes, once. Now it is more like an hour "or so" 3-4 different times. They have figured out how to run the dryer. I was surprised when I heard them come in the first time. Everything went into the dryer and Tristan turned it on. VOILA. . . the clothes were ready and warm the next time they were ready to go out. So look out Sara, it will happen to you. . . SOON!

This is my first week of the new schedule. I'm excited but wondering if I will ever stop jumping when the phone rings, stop taking the phone to the shower with me, and trying to think each day when my next call happens. It will take a while I'm sure. Next week I have an extra family planning clinic (Becky, that would be on Monday) to learn how to do IUD's--I'm pretty pumped up about learning a new skill!
I'll leave you with a picture of the best thing I saw outside of my snowy window last weekend--how can you resist a little face like that??

Remember when the snow was that fun??