Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year!

I've been a busy little bee. I've not gotten a whole lot done, but I've sure worked hard at it. I did mail out the last of my Christmas cards. Yup. I'm that far behind.

But, my Christmas tree is down. We are taking a trip to the storage building tomorrow to tuck everything away for another year. We cleaned out a few closets and donated 2 or 3 bags of stuff to a local charity. I still have a pile of sewing stuff I'm working on, but that is just the way it is. I'm going to have to just start treating my sewing machine as part of the decor. I've got a picture or two I can hang from it. I wonder if I should try a little decoupage on it?

I've also been doing a bit of homeschooling and "life" reorganizing. A friend and I got together before Christmas. She a homeschool mom of 5. We sat down at her kitchen table and she showed me her methods of record keeping, meal planning...and just basic scheduling. I was so inspired I am attempting similar methods. I've also made a few resolutions. It is that time of year!

So here they are. My New Year's Resolutions. There is not anything life changing. Putting together large puzzles with my son isn't going to revolutionize my existence. But...I have learned through my weight loss transformation that sometimes the best resolutions are those that are doable...and sometimes a major change in your life needs to happen in small bits. Best of all you need to throw in some fun stuff along with all the heavy lifting.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

So it's late. This Christmas is almost over. I'm up waiting for my laundry to finish drying. We're spending Christmas with The Studly Muffin's Family. And tomorrow we are planning to drive the 4.5 hours back home. Not a bad trip. But have you ever noticed that wherever you are your dirty laundry is bound to follow? What's up with that! One would think that at least I could have a vacation from my laundry. The Studly Muffin is up with me. Though he isn't doing laundry...He's watching a marathon of old Andy Hardy movies.

Christmas this year was really special. It is every year, but I don't even have proof this year. I am still searching high and low for my camera battery charger. I think it must have packed up and moved. I would too if I lived with me. But as it is necessary for me to blather randomly about nothing, I will give you a few favorite memories from our Christmas vacation. Thus far.

1. We started out the trip with a bang by locking our keys in the car during a potty break in some random Missouri town. Thankfully, most folks in random Missouri towns are pretty nice. We were helped out by a helpful gas station employee, a local cop and a very inexpensive locksmith. The whole episode took about 20 minutes. I got to do some browsing in the small, but entertaining gas station gift section. I didn't buy anything, but I sure was tempted. I found a ceramic piece of a hillbilly trying to fish with dynamite. I'm pretty sure they modeled this fella after one of my relatives.

2. My precious father-in-law broke his foot. Yep. He stepped out on the porch, slipped on an icy rug and went flying. I will have to say that I never would wish anything like that on him (or anyone), but he was really a trooper. He worried about all of us having to wait on him. Considering that it is usually me who manages to wind up with some sort of bodily injury, strange disease or calamity I was kind of relieved to wait on somebody else if needed. Of course, we still have about an hour until Christmas is officially over. I wonder if I need to worry about this tic in my left eye.

3. The Studly Muffin comes from a military family (he spent 4 years in the Air Force, himself). They are pretty laid back about it, but I suggest that you don't insult the Air Force in their hearing. We visited the base twice. Which means we had to visit the BX. Now that is my kind of mall. They have just a little bit of something, but not enough to wear me out or give me too many choices. It is a different world, however, for someone who doesn't have a military background. They have a whole store just for military clothing. Not a spot of red or purple in the whole place. And then there is the salon that gives military haircuts for $10. I don't imagine they do pink foils. If you live in an area that has a military base I would encourage you to give those folks who serve an extra smile every once in a while. They are really special people.

4. The food during the holidays. Need I go further? Let's just say I'm not quite ready to admit my eating failures. We'll see how well I did when I get home and step on the scale. I'm about ready to pass around a petition for outlawing pie at family gatherings. Not that I could get anyone to sign it. The traitors.

5. Spending time with family is always special. These are all family members who we don't get to see all the time. We went to church, watched Christmas movies, played games, ate more food than is necessary and did last minute shopping. This last minute Christmas shopping stuff makes me twitchy. I think you all are crazy. Is it bad that I am considering doing all my shopping next year via computer? Don't get me wrong. I love to give gifts. It's just that I value my sanity. And my limbs. There were certain moments I was tempted to stop and yell..."Everybody drop what your holding. Ya'll need a time out!"

6. All families have special traditions. We tend to have a bit of a smorgasbord of traditions. Because we alternate holidays between our families we just kind of do what that particular group is doing. Over the years it's become a melting pot of every one's traditions. troy's side is pretty predictable. My sister-in-laws makes a blueberry sausage cake. We sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We open up one present at a time. My side of the family are bit more sophisticated. We just start throwing presents out and everybody starts a free for all. None of that waiting around stuff. When it's all over we are left with piles of wrapping paper, bows and happy kids. Of course, there has been a year or two that we've had to search the trash again for a accidentally tossed present or kid.

7. Of course, the most special memories can't really be voiced into one particular event. Instead they can be summed up in feelings. The awe and reverence felt during the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The intense love for your husband while seeing him in a tender moment with his parents. How loved I feel after seeing the generosity of my family towards us. The feeling of contentment watching the Christmas tree lights reflect on a shiny ornament. The satisfaction of a hot cup of peppermint tea.

8. I got some wonderful gifts. Jewelry, gift cards, bath lotion, some fuzzy socks, a few clothes. I got way to much, but I received it all with thankfulness (and glee). Dangly earrings make me happy. The Studly Muffin bought me some cute sweats....with sparkles! Does this man know me or what? Now I can be sparkly and comfy. I am tempted just to wear them the rest of the winter. I am a blessed girl.

Mostly, I am so blessed to know My Savior. We all whine about the commercialization of Christmas. But truthfully, Christmas is what you make of it. So right now (as I get ready to go get my load of laundry out of the dryer) I am savoring the Season. We have the assurance to know that we serve a Big God. An awesome God. I am convicted when I think of how busily I live my life. It's not just at Christmas that He desires my love, but all year long. Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute.  Think of the wonderful love He has for us. It's not just a "one day a year kind of love." It is forever. And that, my friends, is the best gift of all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Fudge

I promised in my last post that due to my ongoing weight loss efforts there would be no cookie or candy making taking place at my house this year. I know. Sucks the joy right out of everything, doesn't it. But this doesn't mean I can't pass along a family recipe to you.

I am sharing my Christmas Fudge recipe with you. Actually, it's not mine. It's my mom's. And she got it from her mom who got it from her get the picture. This was one of our Cousin Camp Cooking School recipe from last summer. The pictures are from that particular fudge making session. The players are younger, but the fudge is just as yummy.  And by the way...The recipe is actually called Chocolate Fudge. I have always called it Christmas Fudge because we usually made it at Christmas. And because I am the oldest child I declared it to be so. I'm bossy like that.

Just thought I would share my cute little momma's fashion sense with you. I need to get me some of those little girl's bow shaped barrettes. My niece Maddie and Ama (the grandkids name for Mom) stir up the ingredients. Just simply Cocoa powder, sugar, milk, salt and corn syrup at first.

Everybody gets a stir. We are equal opportunity stirrers.

Butter you up a pan. This is very important. Butter is one of the main food groups. Unless you are trying to lose a lot of weight. Sorry. I'm not trying to impose my own issues on you.

This is my mom's butter dish. Butter tastes better when housed in a ceramic cow. Didn't you know that? Not that I would know. I haven't had butter in at least 5 months.

So somehow I missed downloaded the pictures of the actual cooking of the fudge on the stove. But you need to do that. You cook gently until candy can be formed into a soft ball when put in cool water.

It helps if you give it a good look see.

After it's done, stir in some butter  and let it cool without stirring. Then add in vanilla and stir it up pretty good until it's no longer glossy. Don't you like my really specific directions? The important part is licking the spoon when it's all said and done.

And then the eating of the Christmas Fudge. That's the best part of all.

Here is the recipe as promised.

2/3 cups of milk
3-4 Tablespoons of baking cocoa
2 cups of sugar
dash of salt
1 teaspoon of corn syrup.

Combine all above ingredients and cook gently until it forms into a ball when dropped into a cup of cold water. Remove from heat, add 2 Tablespoons of butter and cook without stirring until lukewarm. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until no longer glossy and it will begins to hold it's shape. Pour into a buttered pan. Cut into squares. Share with your favorite blogger (sorry...I'm still trying here.)

Merry Christmas and Happy Fudge Making!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Random Thoughts - The "This is me stalling" Edition

Good Friday Morning! I'm sure that all of you are up to your noses and eyeballs in Christmas festivities. I'm up to my nose and eyeballs in apron making. And as you can plainly see I am stalling. I've got so much to do...but I need to go dig in my apron making mountain (fabric and the like) to find a few things and I'm kind of afraid I'll be lost forever. The sad thing is that as long as I've got my Kindle and The Studly Muffin shovels in an occasional California Roll I'd probably be okay. I am due for some quiet time.

I have so much to share. But...given my lack of time and (frankly) scattered brain cells...I thought I would just throw a few things out there. They may or may not be related. Just consider this a gift.

1. Josiah and I went to the Opera yesterday. Whew-y! We're fancy! I have something absolutely horrifying to admit. Brace yourselves. I like Opera.  I know! I've liked it since I was a young thing. Stranger still. I realize it is odd to sing one's conversation. And even odder to listen to it sung in a language you cannot understand. But the Opera yesterday was delightful and it was in English. It was Amahl and the Night Visitors. Perfect for the kiddos. We went with a bunch of friends. Josiah sat a few rows in front of me with four of his buddies. They sat perched on the edge of their seats. After the Opera (I love saying that...makes me feel so cultured), we went to McDonald's and participated in some more culture. Chicken McNuggets and the Playhouse. The other moms and I chatted about life, female conditions and our perfect husbands and the kids whooped it up. I won't tell you how long we were there. It might sully your good opinion of me.

2. I still have a list of Christmas projects I need to finish ASAP. These may or may not be Christmas projects for family members who may or may not be reading this blog. I also do not have a single Christmas present wrapped. I had plans for elaborate package toppers, but it is looking like I'm going to have to bring out the peel and stick kind and let Josiah tape a candy cane on top. I realize that this alone might damage might reputation of the "overkill queen," but I think I can live with that. You know you've arrived when you have gone from a "wrapping paper having to match your Christmas outfit" freak to a "letting your 11-year-old son completely take over the Christmas wrapping" gal. My only concern is I'm afraid there might be a bit more creativity with the whole wrapping thing with Josiah involved. We will most likely wind up with a full scale Christmas version of the Millenium Falcon.

3. When Josiah is a fan he is a fan. He loves music and he has a few Christian artists right now that he's all about. Sidewalk Prophets for one. And then there is Steven Curtis Chapman. SC2 (for short) has a song called "Dive." It's older and the video features "divers" diving into water. Apparently, this is now Josiah's theme song. He plays it over and over and over and over. He has also written a fan letter to SC2.

Dear Steven Curtis Chapman,

My name is Josiah. I am 11-years-old. I live in Missouri. I love your music. I am sorry I haven't written before, but I just found out you live in Tennessee. Maybe I can visit sometime or you could come stay with me in Missouri.

Ah! I hope Steven just doesn't pop in on us. I need at least a few days to stash the fabric mountain. And change the sheets.

4. I am afraid I have managed to crush the Christmas spirit in my house. At least the spirit of the "Christmas Goodies." We are making one batch of cookies for Josiah to give to some of his older cousins and that is it. I know! It's almost like I've gone all Scrooge! But, I can't do it. I am weak. I have lost 63 pounds so far and I can't sabotage myself with sugar cookies and Christmas fudge. There are going to be enough temptations during our Christmas holiday with the extended Family as it is. And I plan on having at least one piece of pie. But I refuse to spend the weeks leading up to the big birthday party for Jesus shoveling snickerdoodles down my face. If my guys want any Christmas candy they are going to have to make themselves. I've come a long way and have a ways more to go.

5. So there!

6. Speaking of weight loss. Have a mentioned what losing 60+ pounds does to ones body? It's all good (trust me), but there is some saggage I didn't anticipate. There are parts of my body that resemble elephant skin. I'm wondering if scotch tape might do the trick. I know. TMI!

7. A few days ago Josiah and I went to our favorite hair lady's house  (she blessed me with a Christmas hair cut). She has an in-home shop and we are always blessed to see her. She gave Josiah a radio. He had been listening to our weather radio. Sad, I know. But when he figured out it played his favorite station he began carrying it around like a boom box and then left it in his room...on 24/7. Of course, weather radios run down their batteries and it was a sad day when it gave out. So now he has one you can plug in. He kept telling me, "Mom! It will never die! I can listen to it all the time!" I felt like I had been depriving him of some great secret of the universe until I realized that this is a child of the "mobile device generation." Poor guy will never have the joy of being his father's personal remote control.

So I've stalled the inevitable long enough. I need to at least start doing something. Knowing me it will be late into the night tonight and I will be bemoaning my few minutes spent playing on the computer. I really need to find a quick source of caffeine and get to it!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Christmas Miracle

I'm a little late with this post. I meant to write this two days ago.

Josiah and Daddy (he was about 5 months old).

You see...11 years ago on December 10 about mid-morning...Troy and I sat in a court room and received parental custody of a two-week-old baby boy. We had only seen him twice. Both times were at a small foster care agency that was handling our foster care until our paperwork was in order.

The first time we sat and held a sleeping Josiah we cried. I've shared this before, but when he finally woke up and looked at me with large dark eyes I felt like I recognized him. Like I knew him.

The second time we saw him was the same day we met his beautiful young birth mother. She looked like she was 12, though she was 15. She had beautiful long blond hair and big blue eyes. She told me that she felt like she was giving me a gift. And indeed she was. I loved her the moment I saw her and still pray for her every day.

The third time we saw Josiah was after we sat in front of the judge. We had to swear that we were who we claimed to be. Troy almost couldn't squeak out his name because he was so overcome with emotion. Then we drove and met his sweet foster parents at the agency and loaded him in our own car. Because I was so afraid that something was going to go wrong (this wasn't our first adoption attempt) we had only purchased just a few things ahead of time, including the car seat. We immediately drove to Walmart (with my mom in the back seat) and picked up all the necessary items to bring a newborn home. Troy and I couldn't keep our eyes off of him.
Josiah wore this outfit to his final adoption court date (he was 6 months old).

The next few weeks were hectic and strange. Because we were adopting out of state Josiah and I couldn't leave to go home until the state we were adopting from gave us the all clear.  We stayed with my sister. The agency  told me to hold him as much as I could so that we would bond. I didn't have any trouble with that. I think I held him as much as I could until he started walking! He doesn't seem to have suffered for it.

Our arrival home was surreal. Family started pouring in to meet the new member. Troy's Mom and Dad drove from Indiana...their truck loaded down with baby clothes. He was one of their own from the very beginning. The same with my parents. Josiah is as much their grandchild as any that share their DNA.
My beautiful baby.

When I look at Josiah now I don't see myself in him. But his face is as familiar as my own. I know every expression and gesture. This little life...which did not come from as precious to me as any child would have been that would have come from my body.

11-years later I am still in awe of our miracle. I am overwhelmed by how God did it all. I didn't become a parent in the manner which I had expected. I never imagined I would have to deal with infertility and loss. I spent plenty of time in anguish over what I thought my life should look like. Turns out that God's plan was pretty awesome.

Sometimes...when I am feeling a little blue...I just have to look at my beautiful, funny, creative and quirky boy. I am reminded of how God came through for me...of how He blessed me. It doesn't get any better than this!

11-years-old. Such a lovely young man.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Need a giggle?

I just had to share.

I used my mom's camera this past week (still can't locate my battery pack...Stink!).

I found these pictures on her camera. I have to admit I had trouble giving a title to this particular post.


Giggle if you need to. I did.

Review: (TOS Crew)

So I’ve got some news. I am now reviewing “stuff” for a very reputable homeschooling magazine and website. Somehow they let me in. Those folks must have an overwhelming supply of patience…if not a sense of humor. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has been a part of my life for a few years now. I still have copies of my print magazines lurking around in baskets and on bookshelves.  Of course, the term “lurking” sounds a bit ominous. I guarantee you that I would rather part with my favorite pair of fuzzy socks than discard even one of those magazines. I don’t know about you, but this girl needs a bit of inspiration now and again. Mostly right now! The magazine has gone all digital on us (you can read my review of the November issue here) and is available for free!  But what happens when I need more at my fingertips?

The good news is that The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has brought great teachers and people together in this wonderful smorgasbord of ideas, lesson plans and inspiration at is a resource for any homeschooling family. You can use it as a supplemental resource or as a stand alone curriculum. As part of my new reviewing gig I received a subscription to

Here is what they claim.
provides the flexibility and options you are looking for!

With over 25 different “school” subjects presented via teaching videos, ongoing lesson plans, worksheets, lapbooks & unit studies, writing prompts and other assignments to choose from, students can additionally interact personally with the teachers by asking them questions and gaining feedback.


 Could it be true?

The category headings on the website alone made me sit up and take notice. Teachers, Elementary, Middle School, Highschool, Family, Dailies (something new in each subject matter every day)...Extras, Library...And those all specific headings those have oodles and oodles of additional categories underneath them. Figures in History, Everyday Explorers...Filmaking, Economics...and it goes on and on. There is even a menu with a new recipe every day of the month. I will say there is something there for everyone.  It would take me eons (or at least a week) for me to describe all the wonderful features at

Instead of writing a post that would keep you reading on into the new year, I thought I would give you a little peek of how we used last week. With pictures and everything!

I have talked a lot about my love of Lapbooking. To me it is just a neat way to learn. It keeps my “hands on” guy interested and allows me to scrapbook. My friends, any time I can incorporate scrapbooking into my day to day responsibilities I am elated. I couldn’t have been happier to find out that the Lapbooking section at is put together by none other than the wonderful creators of In the Hands of A Child. What?! In the Hands of A Child have some of the most beautiful and well put together lapbooks out there.   

This month’s lapbook is created around a short story, “Christmas In The Barn.”

Josiah loved the story and activities. I already have my stickers and stamps out to make it pretty.  To make my life complete I found that there are even more lapbooks in the archives.  I can go back and use lapbook kits from previous months. Yay!


Another favorite activity of the week was our science experiment. We brought in Christopher (our cousin who homeschools with us) He and Josiah completed the science activity from Hooked on Science. This one was called How Santa Gets Down the Chimney. It was so much fun. In fact, I found the boys trying to recreate the experiment just a few days later. Again…all of these activities are in the archives. And I love that the materials used aren’t things I have to send away to NASA for.  
Just a disclaimer: Santa really never made it completely down the chimney.
 He gave it a good try and got stuck. Poor Santa.

Keeping with our love of all things “hands-on,” we completed an activity using Ditch-the-Desk. The Ditch-the-Desk feature is a group of exercises that encourage…nay…implore you, yes… require you to get your kids moving. For this activity I created several math puzzles, placed them in envelopes and hid them. When the boys found the envelopes they had to solve the puzzles before receiving an ingredient to a recipe. When they solved all the puzzles (and therefore received all the ingredients) they were able to make Rice Krispy Treats! I chose the recipe. “Tis the season for Rice Krispy Treats! A good time was had by all.

I just have to give a little shout out to the Library List also found at I was able to find several treasures for us to explore. We are currently reading through Jathom’s Journey for advent and we are going to see The Messiah Project in concert this week. I was pretty excited about suggested resources on Handel.  Did anyone else sing The Hallelujah Chorus in choir (be it church, high school or college)? I can still remember my part. I sang with it the other day in the bookstore. Josiah was properly mortified.

Anyhoo…back to the task at hand. I am really saving the best for last. With a subscription to you receive access to the most wonderful planners.


Years ago, I actually won one of  these from some kind of online expo I attended. I thought it was the most wonderful, detailed planner. It still is....and even better.

I can’t begin to tell you how pretty terrific the whole site really is. There are videos, free books, downloadable mp3s, daily lessons on every subject, guitar lessons….truly everything for your homeschool needs. I can’t wait to really dig in further. Astronomy, Geography, History, foreign languages…somebody stop me!  My only criticism is that the archived lessons were better labeled. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to browse through each one.

Here are the particulars.

Price: $1 for your first month. $5.95 for every month after that.  And currently there is a pretty nifty promotion going on.  Join now purchase a 1-year membership for only $49 (regular price - $69.26) You also receive the 2013 Annual Print Book and a tote bag free. Every self-respecting homeschool mom can’t have enough tote bags in my opinion!
You can click here and check it out.

In my opinion this is a very reasonable price. Especially if you are a family who is finding it hard to come up with the extra funds to get what you need to homeschool.
Ages: all ages (including Mom).

So have I said enough? Probably. It is pretty exciting to be able to give my two cents. Go forth and check it out for yourself!

You can click on the The Blog Cruise Schoolhouse Review Crew Button Below or right here and read what the other members of the TOS crew have to say.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations

Friday, December 7, 2012

Oh, Eugene. And Random Thoughts

So it's Friday night. I'm spread out on my couch. We watched White Christmas and had leftovers. I had some sort of Asian meatballs planned, but in keeping with the spirit of giving I decided to bless my family with leftover chili, cheese dip and spaghetti noodles. Come on! We're creative people...figure it out! In anticipation of a busy weekend and week ahead I'm going to do some therapeutic rambling. Or as I like to call them...Random Thoughts or Reflections.

1. Today was the special day of the year. Ladies, you know the one. The annual visit to the Gynecologist. Here is the deal (and if my gentleman readers feel this is "TMI," feel free to cover your eyes for this part of my blog post)...can they not spring for a few "user" upgrades? The paper gown has got to go. A throw rug or two...Maybe some Cable. Perhaps one of those gas fireplace inserts in every room. Some upholstered furniture might distract me from the whole unpleasant mess. I will have to say that it is the only doctor's office that I can expect to see HGTV playing in the waiting room. Would it be too presumptuous for me to bring my own robe and fuzzy throw the next time around?

2. This week we went to a friend's house and made salt dough ornaments. It was so much fun! The mess! The noise! You have to keep in mind that for the first 10 years of my adult life I worked primarily with tiny kids. I'm not phased by mess or noise. Unless it is my mess or my noise...and then I curl up into a ball while the lyrics of "Tainted Love" run over and over and over in my head. Sometimes I think I want to (du-du) Run Away...I want to (du-du) Run Away....You can't tell me that nobody out there has ever felt the same way.

3. Speaking of running away...I have told you before about my passing fancy to join the circus. I figure I've got skills for such an adventure. Anyhoo. I have been referring to myself as "The Happy Apron Maker." The Happy Apron Maker has not been so happy. I've only got 5 (count them)...5 aprons to go on a particularly large order. I cut out a really cute apron tonight...complete with pockets, an old quilt applique..just plain cute!! Pockets. I really hate pockets. And tonight I cut said pocket out of my already cut apron fabric. Which means I totally buggered it up!!! I have this large gaping whole in my apron. I was so proud of myself. I am not even going to look in the direction of my sewing machine until  morning.

4. But then again...this is me we're talking about. I just spent the past 20 minutes pinning 42 million aprons to my new apron sewing board on pinterest. I can't hold a grudge.

5. Josiah had a buddy over this week. They spent the day playing every video game we own. And eating lots of cheese dip. It's good to be a guy. When he complained during our impromptu trip to Hobby Lobby today I reminded him about how good he really has it. "Mom! Why don't we ever go to a guy store?" Please. Spare me.

6. I am almost ready for Christmas. At least I think I am. I am waiting to wrap presents until Josiah and I make our homemade tags. I actually had photo cards made this year for Christmas. I found a really good deal. Sure. I have a whole set of Christmas cards I made for last year and didn't mail out. But those are so last year...I've moved on. I am fickle that way. I still have quite a number of handmade gifts I need to crank out. But I figure it's not Christmas unless I drive myself crazy with last minute projects. Who needs a stress free holiday? I wouldn't know what to do with myself! Read? Sleep? Rest? Pshaw. Who needs it?

7. We are reading through a really delightful book for Advent this year. It's called Jotham's Journey. Josiah loves it!! I can't recommend it enough. Josiah is also reading through the Christmas Story found in Luke. This is a pretty big deal for my dyslexic guy. There are a few words that we've had to ask Daddy for help with. After all, The Studly Muffin did go to Bible College. That's where they teach you how to pronounce strange Bible names. I went to Arkansas State. "Nuff said.

8. Speaking of strange. Wednesday night at church I came out of Bible study to find Josiah wandering the hall occasionally muttering, "Oh, Eugene!" What? A few friends were also out in the hall and one of them (shout out to Shirley!) started laughing. Apparently, one of the little girls had been saying, "OMG" over and over. Her older sister fussed at her...commenting how much hearing people say OMG got her on her nerves. Josiah (always ready and available to get on a nerve or two) perked up. Shirley told me she could tell by the look on his face that he was on. But..instead of OMG (which we would have certainly to to talk about) became "Oh, Eugene!" Poor Guy. It's tough to be a rebel.

Blessings, everyone! I'm off to ignore my sewing machine some more. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Musings

This time of year can be exhausting. We've made it so.  Lack of money, time...sometimes even Christmas cheer. It can suck the joy right out of the season.

 When I was a much younger woman I had visions of what the Christmas season would be like for my own little family. After all, the memories of my childhood Christmas' were precious and perfect. During the week after Thanksgiving we would all hike out to the woods that surrounded our house and cut down the perfect Cedar tree. I overlooked the little pricks and pokes my little hands received while hanging each ornament on the tree. Most of our ornaments were handmade. Every year we would create a new ornament and even during the years we were living in plenty we made new ornaments for the tree. We would carefully place Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in their place of honor...surrounded by angel hair and votive candles. Baking and Candy Making. What magic! The hot peanut brittle. The Christmas fudge. Mexican wedding cookies. And don't forget the delicious Christmas cutout cookies. We made dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies and homemade candies. Neighbors, church folks alike would benefit from our baking marathon madness. We would gather around the TV like every other American family to watch Rudolph, Frosty, The Nutcracker Ballet (my fav) and It's A Wonderful Life. We would read the Christmas Story...of the birth of Jesus and sing those beautiful carols for everyone to hear.

I've tried to recreate many of those memories for my son. Though we have an artificial tree. And I might go all Ninja if anybody even attempts to wave a fudge recipe in front of my face this year. I'm losing weight here, folks! It was Josiah's job this year to set out our Nativity. And he and I have plans to wrap presents later on this week...after making handmade tags. We have a collection of Christmas movies...with some new favorites in the mix.

I've tried not to think about our lack this year. New medical bills were added this year. Food prices, gas prices, prices in general..all have gone up. Yet our income stays the same. There never seems to be enough. Yet, I am reminded that those memories I have of my childhood Christmas' don't really include what I received under the tree or in my stocking. I do have a few treasured memories of gifts, of course. My set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, a pair of purple parachute pants and those red roper boots I got when I thought I was in love with a cowboy. But my most precious memories come from time spent with family. We celebrated. We celebrated our Savior's birth. And we celebrated by giving to others...mostly sacrificially and from the heart.

So this our lack...I am savoring each moment spent together. Each carol sung. Each story read. We are talking about the Baby whose birthday we celebrate and encouraging each other to celebrate Him every day of the year...

In our tiny hall we hung a Thanksgiving Tree this year. Made with butcher paper (I painted gold) it is  filled with leaves that we each wrote our "Blessings" on. Of course, Josiah's vary from "food" to "Luke Skywalker," but I am hopeful that he is learning to count his blessings. We have so many. I left the Thanksgiving Tree up. It reminds me of God's faithful blessings...and his promises. I am hoping when Josiah is grown he won't remember Christmas for what he didn't have or didn't get...I'm hoping he'll remember Christmas for what he gave and the "Gift" that was given all of us so long ago.

Friday, November 30, 2012


It's me again.

Today has been a strange day. Josiah had oral surgery. Bless his heart. He has been a real trooper. Though I have never heard of anybody complaining so much about having to eat ice cream all day. Who would have thunk it? He's ready for mac and cheese. Me, too. But that's another story.

I'm also trying to finish up a very large apron order. I am making 10 aprons for one order (this is not including some other smaller orders). I've finished 4. Or maybe 5. I figure I'll keep cranking them out until somebody tells me to stop. I am currently taking a break from all the sewing madness. I made sure to wind an extra spool of green bobbin thread when starting this particular apron and now I can't find my extra spool. I refuse to wind another one! After all...It will take me at least a minute. I'm guessing if I sit on the couch long enough it will come out of hiding. And if it finds my camera's battery charger while it's hiding out....

So there's this weight loss thing I'm doing. AHHH! I had a brief hiccup over Thanksgiving. Not that I gorged myself, but there is only so much stuffing, potatoes and pie one can have. I've still only lost 61 pounds. I've got to shake it up again. My calories are good. I exercise, but it looks like I need to change it up a little. And then there is the hair. My hair has gotten so brittle and fine. It's falling out!!! Not that I had all that much to begin with. But good grief!! I've tried not to get so obsessed by it...there are worse things...but I'm kind of worried it's not going to get any better. I have a doctor's appointment on Monday to get some of my levels checked. I'll be able to talk to her about it then. If not...I guess The Studly Muffin will have to give me some pointers.

Nobody does Bald Better Than the Muffin.

Later (after lamenting my lost locks) we are going to put up our Christmas ornaments. We went out last weekend and got our Christmas stuff out of storage...except for the ornaments. Oops. The Studly muffin went and collected them after Josiah's surgery. Since Josiah can only have ice cream I've declared it Leftover Night. I would have liked to declare it Ice Cream night, but I want to lose more than 61 pounds.
Next week...if all goes as planned...I want to share with you what is happening in our Homeschool World. It's craaazy, let me tell you! We have some special things we are doing for the Christmas season. It's too good not to share!
For now....I am going to give my sewing area "The Look." The green bobbin in bound to make an appearance sooner or later. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Random Turkey Day and Birthday Boy Happenings

I'm blogging. That must mean there is some task I am dreading...Today it is pretty much all of them. I'm so far behind on my "to do" list. I expect I might catch up around Valentine's Day. Not a great way to start the Christmas Holiday. But I must sludge on (sludge on?...not sure if "sludge" is even a word). In true "sludging" fashion I am going to fill you in on recent happenings. Then I need to go tackle the stack of dishes in the sink. I would go on a "mom doesn't need to do it all" strike, but it would be there waiting for me when I got done pouting.

We had a pretty great Thanksgiving. Waayy too much food. Lots of kiddos. Plenty of family togetherness...that sort of thing. We alternate holidays with both sides of our family, so this Thanksgiving was with my folks on the farm. I dragged along all my little Fall crafty projects (including the Thanksgiving Chalkboard pictured above with my Mom's cat, Nim). I also dragged along my beverage servers, serving platters, sewing machine and some extra laundry. I have a patient (and strong husband).

What does a cook do when he or she needs to toast a meringue and the oven is full of turkey and stuffing? He or she calls upon the "Fire Master" (aka my Dad or "Papa") to get the job done. Every man should have a propane torch in their tool box. My Dad does...and More. He's officially hired for all future meringue toasting projects.

 Josiah Bevan's birthday is always in November (imagine that). And occasionally it falls on Thanksgiving. Not this year, but we have started celebrating on Thanksgiving with whatever side of the family we are visiting. This year he requested his Grandma Teague's Red Cake (served at all Holidays and special celebrations). He also requested a Star Wars Cake.

Grandma T. wrote out the recipe and mailed it out and I baked it up. Josiah gathered up his Star Wars guys and Voila! A Star Wars Red Cake. These Star Wars guys have been through it! C3PO has even lost his head!! Not to fear, Star Wars Fans everywhere...Josiah purchased some more with his birthday money. Everybody has all their heads and other least for now.

Another Wilson family Holiday tradition (along with absurd amounts of Pie) is some Pickin' and Grinnin' . I come from a long line of pickers and grinners. Ama (grandma) has enough instruments in her little music corner to start a real live traveling band.

 We take these things very seriously. Bless Papa's heart. He's a trooper.

 The day after Thanksgiving the grandkids helped Ama (grandma) decorate the Christmas tree. I'm so proud. How many of you can say your son is not afraid to wear Christmas ornaments on his ears. Just don't tell his Daddy.

All the Tree Trimmers. What I want to know is how those kiddos got so big. My brother's twins are 15. What? How can that be? I'm only 17 myself. What.

 Under that pile is The Studly Muffin. The Cousins adore him.

He is loved. What a man.

 Every year we try and have Mom (Ama) take pictures of the Birthday Boy around the big day. These are his 11-year-old pictures. I can't believe how grown up he is.

 He had quite the Birthday week. We ate at his favorite places. He got a new bike. And then got to spend some cash (gotta love those adoring Grandparents).

 He wanted to go to a local video/gaming/etc. etc. store. I think it's hysterical how all of these grown men wander around these stores speaking in hush tones about the graphics of this game or that game...It's very reverent. I'm always kind of expecting to see somebody going all out in a cape and tights. Next time a certain boy in my house fusses about going to the fabric store I'm going to remind him how many times I have dutifully driven him to the game store...

The Studly Muffin and I are so blessed. Josiah is just a joy. Sometimes I can't believe how God worked everything out for us. I waited so long to be a momma.

But when it happened it was really worth the wait.

So I've really put off my chore list long enough. I need to get working on it before I am forced to add more to it! Sludge On!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Random Stuff

I haven't been avoiding you...I promise. It's been too crazy for words in my little world. So to catch up I thought I'd give you some not so random thoughts.

1. Josiah has been sick. He's such a trooper. He spent last week sounding like he was going to cough up a kidney at any minute. I made him miss swim team practice twice and Wednesday night church. I tell you it was tragic. Such drama. He's feeling better. I can tell because he hasn't stopped talking. This boy can talk. And talk. And talk.

2. We are going to Thanksgiving at my Mom and Dad's this year. I'm getting together my list of "Beke's Diet Approved Thanksgiving Dishes." And because I've had at least 3 members of my family remind me that unless there is pie it's not Thanksgiving I am going to have to face a Chocolate Cream Pie on that day. My family would pretty much be okay if that was Thanksgiving dinner. Pie and Mashed potatoes. And maybe homemade rolls. Which is a big problem for a girl in the middle of a radical transformation. I had visions of completely remaking our Thanksgiving meal, but then decided I didn't want to get voted off the island. I couldn't face that many pie lovers and live.

3. I've lost 61 pounds as of this week! October was a really slow weight loss month. I've tried to to worry too much about it. But also I don't want to become complacent. Just because I feel better and have lost 4 sizes doesn't mean I can rest. I still have plenty to go. When I took Josiah into the Doctor last week (we share the same doc) the first thing she said to me was "Girl! You've lost weight!" Yes, Ma'am. I have to tell you that it's a pretty good feeling.If I could get away with doing some sort of Fame like dance strut up my street I would. But in my neighborhood I'm afraid I'd get approached to see if I could sell them whatever I'm on.

4. I have a terrible confession. I can't find the battery charger to my camera. I last remember it being plugged into an outlet in my dining room. Yes. THAT dining room. I have a theory or two. It's possible it was consumed by large tub of fabric...if so I don't know when I'll see it again. I'm afraid if I go digging I'll lose an arm. Another possible theory is Alien Abduction. Hey! Alien's need digital cameras, too! In any event there are many things I need to be recording for all time. The adorable wreath I made for Fall. My cute paper strip pumpkins. Our Blessing Tree I hung in the hall. Josiah's huge feet. I mean really! The boy can wear my shoes! Not that he will anytime soon. His daddy would frown upon black ballerina flats.

5. I was so involved in some much needed housework Saturday morning that I ripped the sink handle right off the kitchen sink. Oops. I'm not that strong. It was that old. So Monday the plumber for our building came and put in a new sink faucet And then yesterday he came and replaced the whole bathroom sink. It's like Christmas. Who would have thought I would be so giddy about plumbing.

So that's all for now, folks. I've got a list of stuff to do that seems to be magically growing (either that or Aliens are involved).



Monday, November 12, 2012

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Review: November Issue

I don’t know about anybody else, but it’s about this time of year “dazed and confused” becomes part of my every day countenance. I love the Holidays. I really do. But as I always seem to be perched on the edge of the proverbial cliff, (with my toes…which are sadly in need of a pedicure… barely clinging to the sides) I don’t need any more stressors and added activities to push me over the edge. I know. Sounds like a Bummer. And it always seems as if the ole’ Homeschool routine suffers the mosst.

“A Day In The Life of a Crazy, Over Extended Homeschool Mom”. Or ” I’m About At The Edge of My Sanity and I Have to Teach What Now?” These both could be titles of my current book. All of you Homeschool Mammas are waving that gospel hand in the air right now. Preach it! You know what I’m talking about.

Enter The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The Old SchoolhouseMagazine is a lovely (and FREE) digital magazine filled with all the help and encouragement for the modern homeschool family. I recently curled up with my laptop and my favorite (sugar free) hot chocolate and opened up the The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's November Issue. It was like sitting down with a friend.

First of all, the magazine is visually appealing. Colorful and beautifully laid out. I used to get it in a print copy, but The OldSchoolhouse Magazine is now riding the digital wave and even has a free app, which can be found at . The quality of the magazine hasn’t changed in the fact, there is even more content.

My favorite articles in this particular issue of The OldSchoolhouse Magazine are (not coincidently) concerning things God has been dealing with me about lately. There is much needed encouragement in “Refuse To Be A Victim: Avoiding the Self-Pity trap.” By Denise Mira. This hit me right where I live. Too many times I get caught up in what I don’t have or how hard it is to ____ (fill in whatever blank is appropriate for the day) or what curveball life has happened to throw me.  This article is so good I have been quoting it all week…mostly to myself.

This issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine also has focus on music and poetry. Which are two of my great loves. And ironically, two of the things I have had a harder time implementing into our homeschool. I am ashamed to admit this, but I am a former music teacher. For some reason I have had difficulty transferring those experiences and knowledge to our Homeschool. How do I incorporate music into my full curriculum in a broad scope? And how do I do this on a tight budget?  The November issue of TOS really gave me a lot of tools. From “But I Can’t Teach My Child Music” by Marcia Washburn to “Frugal Tips For Music Lessons” by Molly Green (TOS’ Frugal Guru) this issue is full of helps for those of us who need to step it up concerning our child’s music education. There is even a Techy’s take on the whole thing with “Free Music Software” by Andy Harris.

Something I love in general about The Old SchoolhouseMagazine (other than the fact it is FREE…I did mention that, didn’t I?) is that it is thoughtfully divided up into sections depending on the specific needs of the homeschooling family. There is The Charlotte Mason Homeschooler, The Classical Homeschooler, The Struggling Homeschooler (penned by one of my favorite’s, Dianne Craft). It helps the reader get right to the nitty gritty of it all. I immediately went to Dianne Craft’s article in The Struggling Homeschool section (appropriately titled "Homeschooling A Struggling Learner: Where I Find the Time?") before going back and reading the additional articles. I always find her advice to be so encouraging and practical.

Now just a little bit of additional advice. The OldSchoolhouse Magazine is full of advertisements. All helpful I’m sure, but you do have to get a bit of a handle on your impulses when looking at all the wonderful curriculum and helps (speaking from personal experience). I have used TOS quite a bit when shopping for curriculum, but  have to sit on my hands otherwise. But what a great resource in general to have.  It’s advice you can’t get just anywhere. It’s helpful to know that there are families who have been where you are and understand the particular needs of the Homeschool family and the lifestyle that comes with it.

As anyone who does Homeschool understands it is not just about academics, but the whole lifestyle of a family is involved. What I appreciate about The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is that I cannot only find nuggets to help me with the academic aspect, but there are articles that address my spiritual needs and even practical homemaking concerns as well. 

 So with that in mind I am going to to off here and read  "Declutter Your Home In Time For the Holidays" by Malia Russell over again. Then I shall go forth and conquer! My dining room needs an intervention! And then my closets and probably my homeschool cabinet...the list goes on and on! I encourage you to download your free copy of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine today! Happy Reading!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Streeechhin' It Out: A (Frugal) Weightloss Post

So it's Fall here in the beautiful Ozarks. And it has been pretty nice. We've had rain (with a tornado here and there for some excitement). We've had perfectly gorgeous sunny crisp days. We've had a few cloudy miserable ones that encouraged plenty of hot cider drinking. And then we have today. I think it's around 80. That being said, all this variety in our weather pattern makes Beke a regular Snot Bag. I feel like I have it running out my ears.

Yesterday, Josiah and I went to a local produce market and picked up a few pumpkins. We got a nice sized pie pumpkin and a few little cute ones for an activity with the cousins we are hosting at the end of the week. I'm pretty cheap. That pie pumpkin is going to be our carving/science/eating pumpkin of the week. And speaking of cheap....

Ever have those weeks when the grocery budget is tighter than my last pair of spanx? (and I guarantee you that they're pretty stinkin' tight) Our grocery budget this week was  slim. I am pretty good at making creative meals out of next to nothing, but making really healthy creative meals out of next to nothing is pretty tough. I've always promised myself that even if our grocery budget was of the Ramen Noodle/Hot Dog variety my family would never know it. So. Here is a few tips I have for you. We can't be the only family who struggles with this. And I want to help those of you who are trying to be as healthy as you can to succeed.

1. Use What You Have. Within reason, of course. If you have a pound of bacon in the freezer you don't need to waste it, but it doesn't need to be the center piece of every meal. My mamma blessed us with a HUGE pork roast this week. It isn't as diet friendly as a piece of salmon or organic chicken breasts, but pork can actually be quite lean. And I'm stretching it out as much as I can. Yesterday I roasted the whole thing with some apples I needed to use pretty quickly (they were almost past the point of no return), whole cranberries I found in my freezer (don't ask how old they were) and an onion. It was delish. I took of a portion of the meat. Chunked it up and made a lite sauce with the now cooked apples, cranberries and onions and served it over brown rice. Today I took another chunk of the pork and made a lite Hawaiian pizza with a whole wheat crust. I used a can of pineapple I found in my pantry and made my own sauce. Pizza is not something we eat all the time at the moment so my guys are going to enjoy it. Tomorrow I am going to shredded some of the pork for Green Chili & Pork Tacos. My guys will never complain. Josiah thought last night's pork was chicken anyway.  And I might even have enough for a Posole (a brothy Latin soup). Try stretching a whole chicken. Or make a big pot of Pintos and you've got quite a few meals.

2. Reimagine Your Favorite Dishes. It's called substitution. This week I found some lite turkey breakfast sauce for 1.39. I can use this turkey sausage in any recipe that uses ground meat. It might give it a slightly different twist, but all I have to do is make the appropriate adjustments. For example, this week we have the cousins coming to spend the night on Friday. I plan on making my famous turkey meatballs with sauce. How easy will it be to make those meatballs out of the turkey sausage? I will make slightly smaller meatballs and not add as much spice to my sauce itself. The flavor the turkey sausage will do the trick. To add to the nutrition value of the dish (as well as make heartier) I will add a zucchini that I found extremely marked down at the produced store. My recipe doesn't necessarily call for zucchini, but I know that I can add almost any veggie for a great dish.

3. Learn to Cook. Ouch. So I know that for some of you this is painful. But you don't have to become a professional chef. Just learn a few basic techniques. Go on Youtube. Haunt the Food Network site. Buying prepared meals or meals is not only expensive, but often isn't as healthy for you either. (the site I keep track of my calories) has a professional chef that posts videos of all kinds of recipes. Learning to cook with larger cuts of meat, fresh veggies and whole grains can really make a difference in your health and your wallet. One of my favorite site for light cooking is  Try and educate yourself concerning what you are putting in your mouth.

4. Plan your meals, but be flexible. This kind of goes hand in hand with reimagining your favorite dishes. This happens to me a lot. Say I want to fix Teryaki Chicken Breasts (one of our favorites). I usually serve it with brown rice and Roasted broccoli or maybe a light Asian slaw. But I find chicken legs on sale instead for .99 a pound. Dark chicken meat has kind of gotten a bad wrap. It has so many good things going for it. Simply remove the skin and now you can make Teryaki Chicken Legs. It might take a little more time, but you have probably saved $4 dollars or more.

5. Give a good portion of your budget to the Fruits and Veggies. Now if you feel you always wind up wasting said fruit and veggies because they don't get used by all means go a different direction. Start in the frozen veggie section. You have to make this healthy lifestyle a priority. Don't buy fancy yogurts and cheeses. Don't get sucked into all the hype of whatever we are all trying not to eat right now. If you focus on whole foods you can't go wrong. I have certain things I know I can use regardless. I love zucchini. I always cook with onions and garlic. Carrots have a long refrigerator life.I try and keep frozen broccoli is my freezer.  Also, I use a lot of cabbage. Especially when the budget is tight and I can't afford my spinach or romaine. Maybe not as good for me, but it sure is filling. Right now I am blessed with a little Swiss chard in the freezer. And my family loves apples. If canned veggies are all you can manage this week don't feel guilty. Just simply rinse them and press on. Do "not" do something just because you feel you can't do it the way everyone tell you it has to be done.

6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Portion control, my friends! I have a pretty big eater in my house. The Studly Muffin has a metabolism like a speeding bullet (though upon reflection I'm not so sure what kind of metabolism a speeding bullet would have). And I have a nephew who comes over once a week who could literally eat me out of house and home. So I have a stash. A basket of goodies that are fair game. Some granola bars, a few bags of get the idea. I try and use a little less of my more pricier ingredients. Not as much meat in the chili. More beans. A little more cabbage slaw for the pork carnitas. Not as much cheese. You get the picture. Also, I believe in repurposing. Recycling those leftovers for another day. Within reason. But I sure can get a lot of mileage out of a pan of oven baked brown rice. Add it to taco filling. Stir-Fry with veggies, an egg or two for a tasty meal.

7. KISS. Keep It Simple Sweetheart. I've talked about this before. And this is personally my hardest task. I am the Queen of the Overkill. If I plan a Taco Night suddenly I am making my own tortillas and  refried beans from scratch. Now that is pretty frugal, but I seldom have time for all that. I pick one or two things in my meal to really give special attention to. My family feels they are getting a treat and it still keeps that creative, crazy side of me satisfied. Our breakfasts this week are basically oatmeal, scrambled eggs & toast. I eat oatmeal almost everyday. But I make it special by adding a few walnuts (I have a bag in the freezer I take a few out of every day) and my own special apple butter (homegrown, no sugar added, cooked by me). I made a loaf of rye bread over the weekend made with applesauce (made with the same homegrown apples). That bread slathered with some of the same applebutter with scrambled eggs has been a pretty hearty breakfast for The Studly Muffin and Josiah. I didn't have to reinvent the wheel or buy  all sorts of pricey cereals. As I mentioned before we are having company at the end of the week. I budgeted out enough to make these yummy Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spiced Frosting to have for our dessert. Other than that we plan on making popcorn via stovetop with our WhirlyPop and I will set out my pretty teacups along with hot chocolate mix. Simple and memorable. I knew an older lady one time who talked about a particularly "tight" time in her married life. The best she could do for a few nights was some homemade tomato soup. She served that tomato soup in her prettiest bowls. She set the table with candles and cloth napkins. I doubt her family ever questioned the sparsity of her meal. Make it simple...but make is special.  

I encourage you this week to go forth and eat healthy! Be creative! Learn! Have fun!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hen Pecked

So it's fall here at the old homestead. Better known as the our Apartment On The Second Floor. I promise some pics this week on some of my fall projects. After I get my house cleaned. If I let you see the condition of our humble abode now I would probably have to go into hiding for a least a year. And a half. The shame alone would drive me into seclusion. Which now that I think about it might not be a bad idea. I need some alone time.

In the meantime I thought I would share a few thoughts and pictures from our wise old resident sage. Not The Studly Muffin. I mean the other wise old resident sage. Mr. Josiah...who will be turning 11 in just over a month. What??? How did that sweet baby grow so fast? And how can I be the mother of an 11-year-old? Okay. So some of my High Schools peers are parents to young adults and some are even have grandchildren, but in my head I'm still like 16.

This isn't the best quality. But it does give some indication of the quirky personality of my guy. Who takes a picture of the bottom of their own foot? It's just plain weird. Anytime I tell Josiah he's being weird he asks me, "But aren't you weird, Mom?" Point taken.

I assure you I haven't let Josiah loose on the world with sharp objects. Unless he's within arm's reach. He loves to help me in the kitchen. At least to cook. He tells me he's "not big on washing dishes." Sigh. Who is, my son, Who is. Here he is helping prepare a casserole to go in my handy dandy Bean Pot (of which I would love to sell you one). He also is dressed for the occasion. Every chef needs a cool Hawaiian shirt and a Fedora.

I want to also assure you that this sight is a rarity in my home. Something sugary and gooey on my kitchen cabinet. It just ain't happenin' nowadays. But Josiah wanted to take a treat to his Royal Ranger group (they were working on their cooking badge) and this was it. He made them himself (with my verbal coaching, of course). I did partake. That is my confession. I had one. But considering I've lost (drum roll please) 55 pounds as of this week it didn't hurt me too much.

Another self portrait. He's at my mom and dad's farm. These are my mom's reading glasses.

He also tried them on the cat. I shared this pic some weeks back. It still cracks me up. She's such a good cat. And she loves Josiah with all she can muster. Which is quite a bit.

Speak of love. This week one of our read aloud's was Washington Irving's short story, Rip Van Winkle.  I need to first encourage any readers with kids to expose them to the classics. Don't be afraid of what might be perceived as archaic language or complicated verbage. Bring out the dictionary. Talk about it. I made several copies of the story (which I found in nice e-form with illustrations) and we gathered around with highlighters in hand. My nephew, Christopher, was over for school that day and we had a lot of fun reading it. When I was little and read so much (many books that were considered beyond my years) my mom set me up with a little notebook to write down words I didn't understand. We would look them up together. We did the same this week with Rip Van Winkle only we took advantage of our brightly colored highlighters. The boys loved it.

Rip Van Winkle is about an easy-going guy with an aversion to "profitable labor." He is also described as a "hen-pecked husband." I explained this little piece of the story as Rip Van Winkle's wife being hard to live with sometimes. Josiah perked up and said, "Mom! That's just like you!"


Then again he later complimented me and told me that my hair looked just like Anakin Skywalker's hair in Star Wars Episode 3. I'll take it where I can get it.
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