Tuesday, February 26, 2008

andes making J feel welcome

andes, this is J.
J, andes.

a llama kiss is something that simply must be experienced first hand in order to be fully appreciated.

everyday gift: llama kisses

a total eclipse of the sun

did you notice? north america experienced a total eclipse of the sun at approximately 2:03 p.m. central/standard time. the moon and sun will not be in this exact alinement again until circa 2017.

highlights from the weekend

*being reunited with a dear friend after many years! chatting like we have never been apart!

*remembering J as a curly-headed little 2 year old and being faced with the reality that he has actually grown while out of my presence into a very tall, curly-headed, witty, precocious, fun-loving, 11 year old boy!

*watching the boys' friendship take off like a rocket. (somehow i knew it would!)

*a rousing game of Settlers of Catan (who knew J could be so ruthless as to rob an innocent little girl of her sheep!)

*shakes at whitey's (they have recently discovered the gene that proves the tendency toward whitey's addiction is hereditary, which would explain why J is already plotting an opportunity to return for another shake!)
*a whirlwind tour of amy's almamater

*watching eagles fishing on the mississippi river

*chatting 'til way past my bedtime (apparently this made us oblivious to the rough housing by the boys up in their room which happens to be directly above the master bedroom, keeping my poor husband awake until way past his bedtime)

*a tea party with my new teapot (thanks, amy! B and i will think of you every time we use it)

*a monopoly game (that i didn't have to be a part of)

*J, C, S, and B tumbling in after sledding in the dark, half frozen and laughing like crazy!

*lunch at arthur's garden deli

* a friendship that time and distance cannot fade

everyday gift: sweet friendship

a milestone

last thursday night S crossed the bridge. it was a simple ceremony. boys who have spent the past 5 years camping with dads, learning how to handle a pocket knife safely, singing Christmas carols at the nursing home, selling popcorn, racing pinewood derby cars, pledging to the American flag, collecting canned goods for the local food pantry, earning badges, shooting archery at day camp, tussling and rough-housing and, in general, goofing around...solemnly crossed over the bridge greeted on the other side by the older boy scouts. a milestone in my son's life. in boy scouts more will be expected; more challenging activities and skills will be learned; more independence; more responsibility required. he eagerly accepts this next step without hesitation, while i look on with a mother's pride. part of me wants to scoop him up in my arms and travel back to a time when he clung to my legs, timidly peeking at the world. but instead i watch him embrace his ever widening world.

it is hard to believe, but my boys are growing up.

S with his framed cub scout awards, and his proud parents!

receiving the red epaulets from his brother, signifying his new status as boy scout

burning his name in the bridge

(you must have cookies!)

everyday gift: boys on the way to becoming young men!

Friday, February 22, 2008


last night S, my cub scout crossed the bridge into boy scouting. where has the time gone? i am reminiscing and thought i would share this picture...C, as a bear scout is holding the banner waving and S, a wolf scout is behind wearing camo pants.

more later on the blue and gold banquet...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

winter visitors

we have enjoyed watching the visitors who have come to the bird seed buffet:

black capped chickadee
dark-eyed junco
downy woodpecker
mourning dove
chipping sparrow
song sparrow
eurasian tree sparrow
common house sparrow
blue jay

lucky, our pet duck (she loves to glean the seed that falls from the feeder! it is so funny to see her big webbed prints alongside the little sparrow tracks)

other visitors to the feeder: rabbits, mice, and cats hunting mice!

(please pardon the amateur photography!)

soaring overhead we have seen bald eagles, turkey vultures, red tailed hawks, and another hawk we have yet to positively identify, maybe a merlin? or a sharp-shinned hawk?

everyday gift: feathered friends

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

unconventional valentine

after 14 years of marriage mark and i know each other pretty well. for example, i know that "gifts" is not mark's love language. i have learned that if i want to keep from having hurt feelings on gift-giving holidays i have to keep expectations low. i have also learned that when i buy something new near my birthday and mark says, "this can count as a birthday gift, right?" what he really means to say is, "i want you to have just what you want, so i am letting you pick out your own present because i really do love you." and after spending hours pondering the perfect gift for him and he responds by saying, "why did you spend money on this?" what he really means is, "honey, you are all i need. i don't need anything else but you."

so when mark arrived home from a business trip on february 15 with a valenine gift, i was indeed surprised! just the thought of him browsing in gift shops makes me smile. unwrapping the awkward shaped package i discover this:

a. very. large. rooster.
now some women would not be pleased with this. they may be looking for gems, or chocolate, or red roses. but me? i simply adore it. knowing how much i enjoy raising our little flock of chickens; knowing i truly love surprises; knowing how much i love sharing this country life with him, he has chosen the perfect gift for me, however unconventional it may be.

everyday gift: a valentine surprise

Thursday, February 7, 2008

snow ice cream

Snow Ice Cream

1 gallon of fresh snow

1 cup white sugar

1 T vanilla

2 cups milk

collect snow in a clean bowl. stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for your desired consistency. serve immediately.

heirloom cookies

this recipe is probably not that different from any other peanut butter cookie recipe. there are no exotic ingredients... unless you count the love, the special moments, and the memories of my grandmom and my mom serving these to me on a plate with a cold glass of milk.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups flour

in a large mixing bowl cream together the sugars, shortening, and eggs. dissolve the baking soda in the hot water. add to the mixing bowl along with the peanut butter and flour. mix well.

form 1" balls and criss cross with a fork, dipped in water to prevent sticking. bake at 400* for 8-10 minutes.

everyday gift: cookies served with nostalgia

Snowflake Bentley ~ by jacqueline briggs martin

we had a snow day yesterday! so, naturally, i had to break out all of our favorite snow books. and the one at the top of the list: Snowflake Bentley. i love this story of wilson bentley's life and his passion for snowflakes!
i love how his parents spent their savings to buy him a special camera fixed with a microscope, costing as much as ten head of cattle, quite an amazing thing in his day. but as impressive as that piece of equipment was, i am most amazed at the love shown by his parents. it must have been difficult for his father, a practical hard-working farmer, to understand his son's interest (obsession) in snow! but he loved him enough to recognize his passion and give him support and encouragement. imagine the love that that gift spoke and the confidence a 17 year old boy would gain by that kind of support. may i learn this lesson and give the same kind of encouragement to my children. may i recognize their gifts, talents, and passions and help them along the path God has in store for them.
i am also impressed by the perseverence that wilson bentley showed as he tried again and again to photograph those elusive and fleeting snowflakes. this is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished by not giving up.

i love the unique beauty in each crystal. the obvious lesson of the snowflake is, of course, that no two are alike, each has its own unique design, just like every child of God.

everyday gift: snowflakes and snow days

Monday, February 4, 2008

crockpot potato soup

hot soup never tastes so good as when the weather is gray and cold. so, here is to comfort food!

Crockpot Potato Soup

8 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound bacon, crisped and crumbled
1- 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
3- 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
pepper to taste

in a 4 quart crock pot, stir together potatoes, onion, and bacon.

combine the cream cheese, chicken broth, and soup in a large mixing bowl. add to the crock pot and season with pepper.

cover and cook the soup on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.

everyday gift: hot soup on a cold day

Saturday, February 2, 2008

sheep will go astray...

with hosanna leading the way, jericho and bathsheeba have managed to squeeze out of the fence, never mind the hot wire! here is the proof of the waywardness of my little flock. apparently the grass, hay, oats, fresh water, shelter, and protection of a guard llama are not enough for these three. they want YARD grass.

no wonder the Bible so often compares us to sheep. haven't i disregarded all the ways that God provides for me? don't i seek what appears to me to be better? i somehow believe that God is holding back the greenest grass and i must jump his protective fences in order to get it. oh, the lie of the greener grass!

For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 peter 2:25

the klondike derby

recently C and S had a great time at the scout event, the klondike derby! their patrol first had to build their own sled. this sled was used it to compete in the derby by packing and hauling their gear through a series of stations where they would demonstrate various scouting skills. these skills included first aid, knot tying, building a campfire and preparing a hot meal, and chopping wood. S was really excited that the up and coming webelos scouts were invited to be there. he will cross over from cub scouts into boy scouts later this month. it was a cold wintery day, but thankfully it was not below zero! congratulations for completing the course!

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Debt ~ by angela hunt

christian fiction is a genre that i approach with a certain amount of suspicion. i guess i got burned out on christian books that did not portray real life, emotions, or relationships. but i really appreciate the message of this story. it is light reading, i think i read it in just a day or two, but the message is an important one for today's believers. the main character is the wife of a pastor of a large megachurch. on the outside everything seems perfect and they are squeaky clean as they minister to other believers who also appear to have it all together. her past resurfaces and shakes up the world she has carefully arranged.

i won't spoil the storyline, but i will say that the church needs to get out of their pews and dare to love the unlovely. that is the message that spoke to me. Quaker Summer is another book with this theme that i would recommend.