Wednesday, December 28, 2016

End of the year...

This year really has flown by. We moved TWICE... not a lot of fun, I can tell you. I got to have quite a few of the grandkids visit over the summer. That WAS fun! We have been getting settled into our OWN home, for the first time in more than a decade. We got a new grand daughter- Katie Sterling Jones was born to Becky and Stephen on Dec. 17th. Our son Stephen (TOMMY!) graduated from Christ for the Nations with a certificate in World Missions. Daughter-in-law Paula is graduating any day now, as a Master Herbologist. Sam is midway through his second year as an apprentice electrician.
There is ALWAYS something to do here on the homestead. We have been planning a nice sized garden, and are currently in the "but first" stage. The stage where you want or need to get something accomplished, but first you have to do something else that is time consuming and/or expensive. This home sits in a heavily wooded area. There is little sunlight available for a garden. While we really want to get the garden areas tilled up, we first need to clear out some trees. Clearing out trees will also mean removing some stumps. And in other areas, we will need to build some raised beds, as the main soil here is more stone than soil!
This past weekend, Tom and Sam and I were busy tearing out some eyesore dog runs. These were chain link enclosures with corrugated metal roofs. (Rooves?) One came away intact. Another came to pieces. The third is still standing, as we ran out of daylight and gitty-up. We MAY be able to re-purpose the frames as greenhouses. Some of the metal can go to the recycler, and we may be able to re-purpose part of it. (I am hoping to use a portion to make a compost "bin"... BUT FIRST we have to decide where we want the compost bin!)
Maybe I can use part of the corrugated metal to construct a poultry house. There are so many predators, I doubt we can manage totally free range poultry. I need guineas to reduce our tick population, and I want some chickens for eggs and possibly dinner. But First, we have to make a place for them.
The boys want to build an outdoor, wood fired pizza oven. I envision it also having a grill side- as the current grill is one of the little city park style, maybe 12"x15" . NOT big enough for company!
We (mostly the Individuals and I) have been discussing the merits of a farm stand garden. The nearest "bigger" town to us, Siloam Springs, has a lovely Farmer's Market downtown two or three times a week. I can grow a few items that not only will WE enjoy, but which could also make profit enough to BE my job.
Sam plans to have his honey bees started this spring, so by fall, we would be able to offer local honey. If we can get the chickens going soon, we could offer organic, cage free eggs. I can put out a selection of Paula's PBJ Herbal products. Perhaps offer aprons. I can do jellies, and my mom suggested some baked goods. I am hoping to have a large variety of peppers in the garden, and create my own chile powder and spice blends. I am also hoping that our woods does produce a good crop of morel mushrooms!
This summer, Camp CowGranny just might have to be a concentrated week or so of as many of the grands as we can get, at a time when Becky may be able to come and assist me, if I DO have a regular job by then.
That's what's up with us! We are supposed to have internet (reliable internet!) before summer. I will be so grateful! This "hotspot" is temperamental, unreliable, slow, ... and EXPENSIVE.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I AM "McGyver"!!!

Today was QUITE the day. I got up and got my regular Tuesday routine ordered. I set out bacon and sausage from the freezer, planning to make the guys some breakfasts. I made several phone calls, getting information as far flung as cat spaying, homestead tax exemptions, and Texas prison commissary regulations. I wrote letters, hung curtains, decided supper, and had laundry going. I did debate myself on whether or not I was actually going to go to the library or not- our home internet really stinks. I was going to get a few gifts ordered, and check on some job web sites, plus grab a few new books to read. I had my second load of clothes in the washing machine when I decided yes, I WOULD go to the Post office and library.
I gathered my books. I put my package and letters to be mailed into my book bag.  I made sure all the windows were locked, the sliding patio door secured. Made sure my keys were on purse; and set out the door, locking it carefully behind me. I got into the car and reached for my keys, attached to my purse.
No purse? Only my book bag?
This cannot be right. A second and third look confirm: I do NOT have my purse. My purse has ALL my keys- both car and house. Tom carries our shared cell phone on a regular basis, unless I am traveling. No cell phone.
I am locked out of the house. My car keys are inside the house. It is 39*- the high for the day already passed.
Assess the situation.  The well house is not locked, and has a heater inside. I walked to the well house and turned the heat up a bit. Then, back out to check all the windows and doors. Sure enough... all are securely locked. I carried the ladder around the house, checking every window. No one has left one unlatched. I tried the doors... All are locked. I tried the "credit card"  latch release. Doesn't work here. After much searching, I found some wire... I discovered I cannot "pick" a lock, as some of my children are adept at.
Back to the warmth of the well house. There is a small bench in there... not comfortable, but a seat at least. And in the fridge in the well house- a bottled margarita! (So the day isn't a total loss!)
I have more than six hours before I can count on anyone being home. What do I do? Fend off neighborhood dogs and walk a couple of miles to see if anyone is home? Stay near the house where I know there is heat and water? (And, as I discovered, paper towels in the unlocked car, so "necessities" could be taken care of... and HAND SANITIZER!)
I stayed home. Do I sit in the well house for the six plus hour wait?
 I decide that this is as good a time as I can be forced into accepting to transplant the rose bushes that are in the way of the carport. The tool shed is not locked. I retrieve the shovel and post hole digger, and set to work. Just over an hour later, I have three adequate holes excised into the rocky soil near the fence line. The rosebushes are moved. I return to the well house and warm up again. I decide to carry the letter to the street mailbox- not a long task, but chilled in the cool air.
The sky remains heavily overcast. I trudged back to the house, and warmed again in the well house. There is no comfortable place to sit. I have nothing to read. Perhaps I can nap? I settle into the back seat of the Lincoln. I have small travel pillows I keep in it, and Tom had left a jacket inside. Whoo hoo! WARMTH! I laid down in the back seat and TRIED to nap. Giving up at about a half an hour, I made use again of the roll of paper towels, and hand sanitizer. Cold weather really makes ones bladder active! I returned to the car, hoping to try again for a nap. Only three and a half hours until someone gets home!
I had a sudden thought... if only the brown shed were not locked... there is a corded phone in it. I might be able to plug the corded phone into the phone jack outside the house, and call for help! But, Tom never leaves the sheds unlocked. It was a miracle that the well house was not locked! I looked... and it appeared the brown shed was NOT padlocked. Could this BE? I hied myself to the shed.
Indeed, it was open. There was the corded phone, right where I had thought it to be! AND... a most necessary item- a telephone line cable. I took the phone and cable up to the house.
*Sigh*... the most hoped for plans of cold persons can be soon thwarted. The outside telephone connection port was screwed closed. I had already searched for tools. No screwdrivers.
 But, it occurred to me- a dime can sometimes work as a screwdriver. I searched the cars, and found a lone dime amidst the toll road quarters stash. At first, the dime refused to turn the screw- but at last it broke free. With arthritis and COLD fingers, maybe it took longer for me... but the phone box was at last opened. Only to discover there was no phone jack. I sighed my disappointment. I followed every wire in the box. Then I saw a small panel that flipped open- with a phone jack behind it! I plugged in the telephone, and was relieved and gratified to get a dial tone! I called the cell phone- and when Tom answered, i told him, "I am FREAKING McGyver!"
He called Sam and Dan to see if anyone could come to my rescue. They were farther away than he was. So Tom headed to the house to let me in. I was locked out a little more than four and a half hours. We decided that instead of just thinking about, and discussing a set of extra keys, it is time we put one out in the woods.
In my "distress", I was never in danger. Despite the cold, I had a warm place to go to. I had water, juice, even beer if I wanted. (YUCK!) I had just eaten, but there was food to be had- as well as a means to cook it if I had really been hungry. I learned that to get into this house, one would have to BREAK something. I was reminded that winter is upon us, and I NEED to keep an extra jacket and a blanket in every vehicle. I had many internal debates with myself: What is a real crisis? I had everything I actually NEEDED. Do I waste the afternoon waiting to be "rescued"? Or do I accomplish things that need done?
I am so grateful that God reminded me of the things I could use in my time of need.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November's End

Yes, I am still alive!
This month has both flown by, as well as dragged on- if that is possible. I was surprised to see Thanksgiving items marked down at the grocery store... Ii was an effort to remember that yes, indeed, we are past Thanksgiving.
It was just Tom and I and the twins for the meal here. I prepared as if there were still a double fist of us to feed... but made a smaller turkey, and fewer pies. Mom and Ralph had dinner with Robbie, Dad, and Kathie, but came up the next day... bringing us more pies! (As well as a bedroom suite that Dad and Kathie have been holding for me for a number of years now.)

The house is starting to come together. I got the kitchen painted, a pegboard hung to store my cast iron on, a couple of shallow shelves above the pegboard to help alleviate the clutter on top of the fridge. We got bright LED lights in most of the darker spots that already had lights. (Still need my budding electrician to install some lights in the really dark places!)

I got a few pictures and art hung on the walls. Despite following the exact instructions on the 3M Command (R) strips, several items have fallen. One frame broke into bits... :( I will be having to decide exactly where things will live and use a few discrete nails to hang items up. The walls are already full of hundreds of holes from the previous owner's 30+ years of incessant over decorating.

The internet here really stinks... our "hotspot" is a mildly tepid spot on its best day. We have applied for and paid the installation fee for the fiber optic internet to be installed- they say it will be between February and June.

Tommy graduates CFNI December 9th!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Howdy, Friends

We are completely out of the Magnolia House! Keys turned in, utilities off. Those weirdo owners of the Magnolia house declined to even meet us for a final walk through. Had us drop the keys off!
However, it looks as good as it could possibly look- certainly a sight better than when we got it.
   The boxes of stuff remain to be unloaded here. I have been trying to do SOME every day... but failed miserably today to empty even one. Today, I ran errands and bought groceries. I hope I am not coming down with the miseries- Tom has been sick. I grumped at him when he repeatedly sneezed all over the kitchen, without even TRYING to cover his face. Yesterday, I didn't leave the property at all, and got the bedroom at least to a point one can walk in and feel able to sleep. Piles of "stuff" everywhere is just NOT relaxing. I admit, I will need to re-arrange the closet at a later date... but the stuff is out of sight!
  So far, our Thanksgiving plans look like this:
1) We are NOT going ANYWHERE
2) Tom mentioned deer hunting
3) Sam mentioned we should order a goose from Fresh Market.
4) Tom mentioned we need to invite Connor and Alana over for a few days.
5) My Mom and Ralph may come up the weekend/ day after Thanksgiving

As to accomplishing  any of the above:
1) a) In order to not go anywhere, I need to make no advance preparations
2) a) Deer corn has been set out
2) b) Mention made of needing a deer license. This will require:
2) b) 1) Getting Oklahoma driver's license
2) b) 2) Hunters ed. class for Dan and Sam
2) c) Sighting in of firearms
2) d) Clearing of firing lanes
3) No one has called Fresh Market at this point
4) I have not contacted Jennifer for requesting Connor and Alana to visit

I did pick up a few little Thanksgiving type items. Pickles, olives, a cheater bag of stuffing, some fresh sweet potatoes, pie crusts. So far, all the turkeys I have seen are more than I want to pay per pound. I guess I can say a temporary goodbye to a diet... I got little Andes creme de menthe chips to bake into some cookies!
I hope to get some pictures taken of the new place, and then be able to upload them! The little "hot spot" isn't so hot for internet. It uses data like crazy, So I am resigned to much less online time for a few months. (I am writing this offline, and will attempt to connect to publish!)

Thank you all for your prayers.

A sad note: Grand daughter Nickole's other Grammy, Lynn Harris, passed away last week. Services are still pending. Until she got sick, Lynn kept me posted on Nickole's antics.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It' done! We are Home owners!

Not that we are quite done moving yet. One snag after another. We did close on the 10th, with great reluctance and much pushing from the realtors. The sellers were not out yet. They cleared the house, and had the well house (with locking storage and electricity) almost cleared by the time we did the "final walk through". They were going to need extra time to clear the outbuildings. We said we could give them a few days.
They were down to a few piles in the yard when we left Monday night, as far as stuff from the house went. We went back to the leased house after cleaning on the new place. Tuesday, Tom decided to go ahead and take the day off and MOVE! He rented a UHaul, something I had not wanted to do. Too much, too fast! The Uhaul was loaded with the big stuff, including the deep freezer and the refrigerator. To load a full freezer, it has to be emptied out. then moved to the truck. then refilled. then transported. And emptied, then moved from the truck. Then re-filled.
So we get the Uhaul to the new place. Those piles of stuff they had left in the yard? Now piled into the well house. They had promised to return "Wednesday or Thursday" for the rest of their stuff. Our options were to take the stuff we needed to put into the well house back to the leased house and unload the Uhaul there, or make do at the new place. I ended up with Tom's mechanics tool box in my front room, the air compressor in the bedroom... the freezer and fridge on extension cords on the covered front porch.
The sellers were no shows on Wednesday and Thursday. Late Thursday evening, we got a relayed call: They called their realtor, who called our realtor, who called us... they would be here bright and early the next morning (Friday the 14th.) We had planned to leave for Ohio Friday morning, but Tom was uncomfortable in leaving the place unattended. We waited. Tom grew more and more fretful. A text from DIL Paula helped... reminding us these people had so much stuff of their own to move, our stuff should not be endangered. About 2pm, with the sellers once again not showing up as promised, we headed to Ohio.
Vacation there is a post unto itself. Hopefully soon!
We got a call from Sam about 5:45 PM. He had just arrived at the new house after work, to let the dog out. The sellers showed up right behind him. They dropped off a Uhaul and left again. They returned Saturday morning... and instead of clearing out any of the THREE outdoor storage areas, they filled the Uhaul with yard stuff. Promising again to return before the week was out, they left us with locked storage units we couldn't use. We returned on the 23rd. They still had not been back.
They finally showed up on the 28th. They didn't bring a Uhaul, but a flatbed trailer. After every centimeter was full... they left the rest to us. (Last minute tearing a built in shelf off the outside wall of the shed!!!) We had three loads (so far) for the dump, and two to a thrift store. We have another of thrift stuff and another of trash/ hazardous chemical waste still to dispose of. But they are out, and we can finish moving in.
We have a "hotspot" prepaid device for internet. Very spotty service. The satellite internet had a 2 year contract- and the electric company will be offering fiber optic services in about 5 months. They start construction in our neighborhood on Jan. 12, and expect services within 120 days.... at half the price of satellite for twice the data limits.
My root canal hasn't quite happened. The odontist took off the temporary crown, cleaned out the cavity, and worried over the massive dormant infection of the bone around the root. She told me to TAKE the antibiotics which the dentist had issued to use "if needed". She disinfected the tooth, packed it with more antibiotic stuff, and re-set my appointment for the 15th of November. I have a couple more days of antibiotics left.
I will post more when I have some time. This move is really sapping my energy!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Ducks are in the pond!

I can't say that all of our ducks are in a row... but they all seem to be swimming in the same pond!
To clarify: Mr C and I are buying a house. We are set to close Monday the 10th.
I have been trying to make sure everyone is on the same page- including reminding people that Monday is Columbus Day. I expected our loan officer would not be there, but he says yes, he will be there.  It is Mr C's regular day off. The sellers are suppose to be moved out. The paperwork is all in order, and in the proper hands.
I have even packed about six boxes.
God worked things out so that we even have HELP to move!
Ben and Paula, their kids, and Paula's brother Eric are coming to visit Monday evening. (They were planning to come even before the house was ever on our horizon.)
Becky and Stephen and their kids are coming Tuesday evening. Again- the visit was co-ordinated more than a year ago!
My Mom and Ralph are coming up tomorrow to help out for the week.
Jennifer is bringing Connor and Alana just to visit everyone Wednesday night.
So, Wednesday, we are having a big spaghetti supper.  We will have 21+ people there!
I have run into a few snags... like "no internet"! (After being told there was/ wasn't /was for sure/ now there is for sure NOT internet available.) Looks like we will have to go satellite for about a year- then our electric company will have Fiber optic internet service available.
Guess it goes without saying, I am quite excited. I get to see my Mommy, I get to see most of my kids, I get to see most of the grandkids, and I get a house!

I got a crown yesterday... Not the queenly gem encrusted kind. The kind that costs about the same and allows you to continue to consume food. But once the dentist got my poor chipped and broken tooth all cleaned out... she tells me "Oops! You need a root canal! There was old infection beneath the filling that was drilled out!"
She stuck my shiny new crown down with temporary cement. The endodontist can't see me until the 26th. Afterwards, I will go back and get the crown glued on tight!
Hah. Just caught another duck trying to waddle off! I have to drive to Jay, OK, tomorrow and become a member of the Farm Bureau, or they can't insure us Monday, and the deal will go skittering off track again.
Looks like sewing the stuff for the kids is getting pushed back for awhile. Too much on the plate.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My project today: A casserole carrier

I *pinned* some casserole carrier ideas to my Pinterest board a few months back. My mom had mentioned she'd like to have one. And here it is, almost her birthday, and me at a loss for what to give her.
I saw that Becky had *pinned* some items this morning, and while browsing, I remembered Mom wanting a casserole carrier. Off I went to the fabric store, looking for some pre-quilted fabric.
(My goodness that stuff is expensive!)
Once home, I got out one of my casserole dishes and set about imagining how this carrier should look. I double-checked Pinterest for ideas, but ended up just doing my own thing.
My casserole carrier looks more like a blanket with handles.
The casserole dish set in the center, a couple corners flipped to show coordinating fabric.

The butterfly potholder.

All folded up to carry

Ends folded towards center, over casserole dish

All ready to carry
Three of sides folded over center

One side folded over casserole dish
The quilted fabric is thin, but will offer SOME insulation. It is an overall print on solid on one side, and coordinating stripes on the other. I took the wee bit I had left and made a free form butterfly potholder. Finished the potholder with a bit of ribbon and button. The potholder is double thickness of the quilted fabric, but still rather flimsy.
I left my sewing stuff out, hoping to get started on "mermaid tails" for the grand girls! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Insight in the Night...

You may remember that right after we moved to this house we are leasing, Tom helped me refinish my giant sized rocking chair. I have had it for more than 16 years, probably closer to 20.
For the last 10 months, it has had to live outside, on an unprotected patio.
Yesterday afternoon, the dog wanted out. Tom went out with him, and sat down on the rocker. He leaned back... and just kept going.
The legs of the rocker are nearly hollowed out, full of ants. (Or maybe they are termites, I don't know.)
I don't know what, if anything can be done to salvage the rocker.
I woke up in the wee hours this morning. Tom was restless and thrashing around. I began to pray for him.
As I prayed, my rocking chair was brought to mind.
It looked solid enough, before its catastrophic failure. Like many people appear to be, to those who know them superficially.
I saw these small insects, and the damage they have done over time, and saw the comparison: these are like the small thoughts, the little things that bother us. We let them go. We don't check their progress... after all, what harm is there in a small, stray thought? A wee bit of anger here, a tiny thought of discord there. No harm. They are such little things. And then,  one day, everything just falls apart. Boom! How could that have happened so suddenly? They were just fine a few minutes ago! The very structure that was holding everything up is destroyed from the inside, one tiny thing at a time.
I thought, "Aha! The ants are like thoughts. God, You are wanting me to realize that every thought contrary to YOU, must be made captive, lest it slowly and subtly destroy ones whole life."
I thought, "God, I know that small thoughts plague many people.. many people who won't 'receive' what You have to say, simply because they won't believe ANYTHING I have to say as being from You.  How am I supposed to share this great insight? How can I get people to realize, they need to control the way they think- even the smallest thoughts?"

God smacked me upside my thinker right quick.
"It isn't anyone else that needs to be concerned with this message. It is YOU. YOU need to be taking your thoughts captive. (God) will deal with those who need dealt with about their own lives. Tammy needs to be worrying about Tammy and Tammy's thoughts."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A wish list. Seriously.

Not one of those, Peace on earth and love everyone type lists- though I do *wish* for those things.
But here is a list for me to keep in mind when thinking of the new house (In no particular order!)

A bistro set. Not necessarily this set, or even this color. But a small, wrought iron look.
A pergola swing area around a fire pit.
A picnic table- with an umbrella!
Stepping stones and wee water areas like this
An arbor, though not necessarily like this one.
Chickens and guineas.
Some small gnomes and/ or fairies. I want to hide them in places in the woods, to be 'discovered' by grandkids.
Tree faces. Especially along the bike paths the boys want to build.
Zip lines! (Of course, these would necessarily require the harnesses and hard hats, as a fall would certainly be onto jagged rocks below.)
Garden art.
Wind chimes. Rain chimes! Whirlygigs.
A "barn quilt" and/ or some large outdoor wall decorations.
An outdoor pizza oven/ BBQ pit.
Plants... lavender to line the lane coming towards the house. Rose bushes, especially the hedge rose, wild rose, and english cottage roses. Cannas. (I want some from our old Marlow house. It was in the contract that we get some when we found a place to buy!) I'd like an elderberry bush. Wildflower seed. Peonies. Pink, and white ones! Honeysuckle and hummingbird vine.
I need a wagon. Probably one with pneumatic tires- but at least something I can pull along through the woods and garden.
I guess the most pressing WANT I would have immediately is to paint over the awful wallpaper in the kitchen.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Farewell to a friend (and, who is it about?)

My friend Cindi, who I became acquainted with when I worked at American Eagle, is passing away.
For the last 3+ years, it has been health issue after health issue. Not sure I can remember what order they came in (What sort of friend cannot remember such significant details?): But; brain tumors, perforated ulcer, lung cancer, heart valve bypass, return of brain tumors, return of lung cancer, spinal cancer... and she awaits the last journey in a hospice.
 I have been to see her several times in hospice. Probably more times in the last six weeks than I have visited her in the last couple of years. I fully intended to go last week. But, stuff happens. I got some sort of intestinal bug and didn't feel like walking as far as the mailbox, much less driving 25 miles to see anyone. And didn't figure she needed a flu bug on top of everything else.
 During this last couple of weeks, I have questioned myself hard. Am I going to see her for HER, or am I going to see her for ME?
  I had an appointment in that area today, so I decided to stop by. Had I not gone today, I was going to go tomorrow. I was halted at the nursing station. Who was I there to see? And my name?
"You aren't on the list. I'm sorry. She isn't receiving visitors. Maybe you can get an update from her daughter."
 Turned away.
 I didn't make the short list- friends and family welcome at the end.
Cindi may not have had any part in the making of the list. I had just hoped to sit and hold her hand for a little while. Give her some sips of water.
Even if Cindi had excluded me from that list herself, I understand.
 Here at the end, when your hair is standing on end, your body is a solid bruise, and your 5'9" frame carries a whopping 70 lbs, soaking wet with rocks in your pockets... if you had any pockets... you don't want people around. It is hard enough to let those you love come in. But peripheral friends- those from work who come to your Pampered chef parties, and you gossip with about other friends... it is a time for them to stand back.
I am going to miss her.
Cindi had a foul mouth. She smoked. Many people feel she lied incessantly.
I don't think she lied. I think she gave the sensational headline stories of her life. Those things, that when you hear the story behind the headline, you agree that while the headline was true, it made more of a story than the actual story.
Cindi had one of the kindest hearts I have ever known. If you got past the gruff, bluff, and bravado- you found a heart of gold. A champion of justice- always for the underdog. From arms length, you saw someone you might think hated men. Inside, there was a woman so hurt she was afraid to let men close. She was outspoken and generous to a fault. In one of our last conversations, when she was so in and out of lucidity- she asked if it was wrong that she she still felt love for a person who had wronged her very deeply. I told her it was never wrong to love.
The last few times I saw her outside of hospice, Cindi told me she was sure God has a purpose in her life, she was searching for that purpose. She grew so much in love and forgiveness those last months.

Every time I visited in hospice, I wondered if it was for the last time. I would hate to leave. I promised to be back when I could.
Once I got home today, I called a mutual friend. I learned from her, Cindi asked not to have a memorial service. In this one thing, I would defy her wishes. A memorial service isn't for those who go on. It is an opportunity for those who remain to voice their respects.
I am already grieving. My time to spend with my friend has ended, even if her hours remain.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Trying a new Recipe- or two!

One's deep freezer needs to be cleaned out periodically. Use up all the good stuff that has slunk to the back or bottom and forgotten about. In hopes that we will be moving, I am trying to buy less food from the grocery store, and use up what we have on hand.
(This, in itself, is trying to me. I have some deep seated need to have the cupboards and freezer full of food. I do use it up, but I also refill it as quickly as I use something.)
Anyway, this morning I pulled out a package of pork tenderloins. I asked Mr Google for slow cooker recipes for pork tenderloin. Several caught my eye. I realized as it was thawing, I also have avocados and tomatillos that really HAVE to be used today. So I asked Mr Google to suggest recipes using all three. Mr Google suggested this site: Our Full Plate . The Avocado Tomatillo sauce sounded worth trying... and it had a companion recipe suggestion of Pernil Pork. I chose a Pernil Pork recipe from All Of course, I was forced to make a couple of small modifications in order to avoid going to the grocery store. I don't have any fresh (OR dried) oregano. But I do have Italian seasoning, which contains oregano. And I substituted regular chili powder for the dried poblano (ancho) peppers.
The tenderloin is cooking in the slow cooker. I haven't started the Avocado Tomatillo sauce yet, as it takes less than 10 minutes to make, and supper isn't until six.
These are considered to be Puerto Rican dishes. To my knowledge, I have never tried Puerto Rican food before. Expanding my horizons! I read that okra is a vegetable often served with Puerto Rican dishes... and I have Okra to use up. I don't care how they do it in PR, mine will be fried!
If these two dishes turn out well, they may find their way onto Cooking with the Cow Crew. Any tweaks to make the dishes "mine" will be noted.
 The recipe got mixed good reviews. Daniel liked it a whole lot. Mr C said that it was good, but maybe his tastes ran to more traditional American pork recipes. Sam liked it quite much as well. Dan said the avocado tomatillo sauce just added the extra zing to the recipe to make it really grand.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Still not standing on the rug... but I may have a toe or two gripping it!

How many times since we moved from our house in Central High, Oklahoma, have we been "fixing to" buy a house? I used to post and revel in each one. Time after time, one thing after another- the rug got pulled from under me. We continued to rent. It has been twelve and a half years since we moved from our home in Central High. It was my very first home to own.
So very much life (and death) has happened. I now have eight and three quarters more grand babies than I had back then. My jobs have come and gone. We (almost?) moved to Ohio. All my kids are out of school (out of homeschool, anyway) if not out of the nest. Tom has retirement thoughts starting to creep into his mind.
The house we rented in the Decatur countryside for more than ten years was sold, and we had to move to a leased house, as we didn't find the *right* place in the allotted time between the Decatur rental selling and our enforced moving date. Tom said we would begin looking seriously for a place to buy, come  August, when we moved to Gravette. True to his word, he started seriously looking.
And we found a place. Beyond what *I* had imagined, property wise. The house is *just* a double wide mobile home, 30 years old. However, it is in immaculate condition. It was "over built", with extra insulation and 2x6 walls. Located on 30 acres, across the state line into Oklahoma. The location has quite a number of advantages. For one thing, the tax rate is about 1/10th what a similar place would be in Benton county, AR. It has a buried storm shelter, poured in place. (As opposed to being a pre-built unit buried in the ground.) The acreage is heavily wooded. Which I could translate to actuality: 29.5 acres of trees that have NEVER been harvested. Oak, hickory, walnut, pecan, and many more.
I still hardly dare to hope we are closing on this deal. Everything is going along PERFECTLY. The place came onto the market as we began looking. The home loan has been approved, the inspection didn't reveal any major flaws. The property has been in the seller's family for generations. I am optimistic about it. The banker said we may be able to close by the first week of October.
 Still, I am not standing on the rug. Not investing my hopes in it just yet.
Keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Coping with Life...

Daniel and I had a nice drive to Texas this past weekend. It was a quick trip, down and back, for me. On the way, we stopped by a left a book for Nickole with her Grammy. Grammy Lynn remains in a nursing home in Marlow. I had forgotten to take phone numbers, and wasn't sure Nickole and Glenn would be up- or if they would even be home. It seemed most expedient to drop the book off with Lynn.
Having gotten quite an early start, we arrived in San Angelo in the early afternoon. I was scheduled to fly out on a plane leaving at 5:00 am the next morning. Ben was working until 7:00am, so we went to see Ben at the Fire Station. Becky and kids met us there- it was a first time for her kids to get to see the fire trucks up close! After the Fire Station, we made a quick trip to WalMart, and then just visited with Becky at Ben and Paula's house. Still being summer, it was getting (relatively) late when Becky headed home about dusk. Dan and Paula and I visited briefly, then all headed for bed early. Paula had brewed us an herbal night time tea. It was tasty and did a great job putting Dan and I right to sleep. I asked her for the recipe.
3:00 am arrived all too quickly. Dan and I dressed, and arrived at the San Angelo Airport just before 4:00 am. Dan dropped me off and drove away. I went to the kiosk to check in... and learned the flight had been delayed until 10:00 am. I waited in line a good 10 minutes to ask where a pay phone might be located. Finally, a young man with a cell phone joined the line behind me, and called Dan to come back and get me.
I went back to Ben and Paula's house, and Dan and I went back to sleep. A couple of hours later, Paula entered the bedroom where I was sleeping to turn off the fan. When I sat up, it really startled her! She said "You're still HERE! " As previously suggested by Dan, I asked, "Did we oversleep?" He is out on his couch, cracking up.
Ben arrived home a short while later, and we got to visit again! EVERYONE came along to take me back to the airport. The flight crew that had been missing that morning finally arrived on the first flight IN to San Angelo. (Even flight crews can are subject to cancelled flights!) We were loaded and then delayed a bit as the crew had to do all the routine pre-flight checks. I got to DFW in time to RUN to another terminal (making use of the Sky-Tram as well) and narrowly miss the flight to XNA.
I am convinced the gate personnel are trained to not make eye contact with passengers and to blatantly ignore their presence. I remained pointedly invisible even after the flight departed. Eventually, I walked away and happened on a gate crew person-in-training. She met my gaze and offered to assist me. I was set up for a 2:35 departure back at the other end of the terminal. THAT flight also kept getting pushed later and later. It was about 3:40 when I finally boarded (LAST SEAT!), and almost 4:30 when I arrived at XNA.
Monday was a trial to me. I just have to leave it at that for now.
Before bed, I attempted to make some of the tea for Tom and Sam, that Paula had made for Dan and I. I need to consult Paula again for the proportions- both Tom and Sam gagged, but bravely chugged down the tea. It was nothing at all like hers!

Althea, the cutest baby triceratops ever!


Today I have been full of misery and gripes from yesterday. I walked the dog- and while out saw a good stand of elderberries. After the walk, I put my buckets and scissors in the car, and drove the countryside for almost two hours, foraging for elderberries. Once back at the house, I washed them and removed them from the stems. I put two trays on to dehydrate, and made what I expected to be a small batch of elderberry 'syrup'. I read a number of recipes, and virtually all of the ones using the syrup for flu and respiratory relief used the same ingredients. I had all those ingredients on hand.
I wish you could see the lovely deep color! As I harvested the berries, I noted that I was in ragweed higher than my head. It wasn't yet in full bloom. My brain put these thoughts together... The ragweed and the elderberries are growing side by side. Ragweed causes respiratory distress, elderberry helps. Is elderberry the best relief for ragweed allergies? Is it really so simple that God provides the cure right along side of the problem?
***** A note on my beautiful "elderberry" syrup. After taking it for a week, God put an article in my face that may have saved several lives. The article had a picture of deadly poke berries among other plants to avoid... guess what my syrup was actually made from? Yep. I had cooked up a batch of deadly syrup. If you forage for wild growing foods, please be 100% certain of your harvest. There are images of the poke berry plant mixed in with images of the elderberry plant in the online searches- don't go by searching images alone! *****
*** In doing some research on poke berries, I have found they are used for some medicinal purposes, in VERY diluted amounts for short terms. However, making a concentrated syrup from them is NOT a good thing.***

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nice weather we're having...

The weather guesser for the primary local station in this area says we won't even hit the 90's in his 'foreseeable future'. While days have been much cooler, we have still turned on the air most nights, as it is a damp, sticky 'cool', which made sleep difficult. It has been quite lovely in the mornings though.
   Sam is back to school this week, his second year as an electrical princess. (Electricians apprentice.) Tommy (Stephen!) also went back to school this week, at Christ For The Nations International. This is his third year, I believe. He worked full time over the summer, plus was involved in six weeks of Children's Camp ministries, (one in Mexico).
Dan is working hard in landscaping, as yet undecided about which path his future will take. He is currently considering being an adventurer as a career. He leaves for his annual Trek to the mountains in New Mexico this weekend, and has the cross country bike ride planned for next summer.
I will probably ride down with him this weekend, to assist in navigation. Fly back Sunday, then fly back down next weekend to assist on the drive home. Not that he couldn't do it on his own, mind you. But it gives me a brief chance to see the other kids,and grandkids, if only for a few hours. Mr C and Samwell can hold down the fort without me for a few days.
The Taylor Family Reunion is right around the corner! End of September, last Saturday of the month. In Broken Bow, as always.
Then a couple of weeks later, The First Ever Coder / Jones Family Vacation is planned. Dan and Sam won't get to come along, nor Tommy. But Becky and Stephen, and Ben and Paula, as well as half a dozen grandkids are headed to Ohio for a week.
It is shaping up to be a very busy October. (There is more going on that I am unable to share at this time.)
So, have a blessed day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gusts of Auuuugh!

August continues. It has been a trying month,  a slow month. I keep thinking it is half over, and we aren't yet a third of the way into it.
My mom's cousin Ruth's grand daughter passed away. She wasn't yet 30 years old. I'm not sure how the second/ third cousins and once/ twice / thrice removed actually works out. Amanda was a sweet young woman whose life saw too much personal tragedy. I learned a day or two ago that a long time friend (acquaintance) from when I was growing up, passed away. Renee (Norwood) Stovall was my sister Lalani's best friend all during Jr. high, even after we were moved from Peaster. Renee and I reconnected about four years ago. She died of a brain aneurysm. Now, my friend Cindi is in hospice care. I went to see her today, and will try to be a better friend in her remaining days.
The two houses we went to see from my last blog, have both already sold. Yes, even the one with the unintentional indoor waterfall. Seems we need only go and LOOK at a house with a realtor, in order for it to sell. Tom and I both liked one we looked at yesterday. It is a mobile home, but does have outbuildings and a storm shelter.
The house is back to chaos after our weekend. I haven't cleaned much today, after having driven over to the hospice and gone to the grocery store, and a few other errands. I have 'from scratch' spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove top.Still need to make a salad and such.
I MIGHT ride along to Texas with Daniel, when he travels down for the Jones' / Coder Trek. (The annual  Zesch Trek had to divide into two groups. The second one consists primarily of Coder's and Jones'.) Anyway, Dan needed a navigator. I figured I can ride down with him, and fly back. I can even park at the airport... unless they changed their free parking policy in San Angelo. I can return the following weekend, and ride back with him. :) (Since Dan is my regular go-to person to cover the job when I need off work, I have to come back!)
I will get to see my Mom (I hope) Saturday when I travel to central Arkansas for Amanda's funeral.
The garden is beginning to produce a goodly amount of tomatoes, and quite a few peppers. I MAY even have a couple of bell peppers successfully ripen on the plant! We pretty well have to bring all the tomatoes in as they start to turn, as the bunnies and birds and bugs like them all nice and ripe. My window sill remains full... and I make lots of fresh salsa. This year's pepper crop- plain jalapenos- with no HOT hot peppers to cross pollinate with... are VERY hot. In a gallon sized batch of salsa, two jalapenos is enough. Three is too many. (One is plenty for me!) The guys say these are too hot for poppers. I made some jelly anyway!
Have a blessed evening. I need to go stir my spaghetti sauce.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August "Two-th"

It is August. It is hot, as one might expect. Nothing to report on house hunting, other than it must really be stressing me out, despite my efforts to remain calm. I say this, because I was awakened from a dream this morning, in which I was trying to find my way home. I knew I no longer lived at 601 Something or another street SW... I couldn't recall the address of where I currently lived, nor the name of the street where I had formerly lived. I wandered about in a strange city, trying various doors, only to find someone living in what I had thought MIGHT be my house. I went into one house, and the residents confronted me. I explained I was looking for MY house, and thanked them for not shooting me. Back out I went into the dark streets, trying to remember which way I had come and where I needed to go. Needless to say, I was glad at being awakened!
I am still ping pong cleaning. I am expecting my Mom and Ralph any day, as one of our family members has passed away. Amanda, my Mom's cousin Ruth's grand daughter, passed away a few days ago.  I don't think Amanda was yet 30. She'd had a difficult life; paralyzed in a drunken driving accident when she was 14. She was sweet and funny, and dearly loved Jesus. Amanda lived most, if not all, of her life here in Arkansas.
I sat down here to type this, multi-tasking as I ate my lunch. A big bite of filling fell out, onto the carpet, where ever vigilant Jaffa was waiting to gobble it down. However, he has an amazingly discriminating tongue. It was egg and black olive, mixed with a very small amount of miracle whip and mustard. Jaffa spit out every tiny speck of black olive.
So far, in my cleaning today, I have the trash taken out. kitchen, front bath, and foyer floors swept and mopped. The dishwasher emptied, and filled with a small load of the morning detritus. I added Jaffa's dishes to the load, as there was room and they needed cleaning.
I glued a chair rung back into place, and emptied the shredder. The course of action was more like this:
I need to get this place cleaned up. What is the best place to start? A load of laundry! That can be washing while I work on other things.  I better get the dish cloth from the kitchen sink, and the towel from the drain board. Oh, look, the sink is full of dishes. At least Tom and the boys put their morning messes away. I better put these into the dishwasher. The dishwasher is full of last night's load of clean dishes. I better empty it out! I started emptying the dishwasher. Oh, here is the pan I cooked my oatmeal in yesterday. I better eat breakfast- have some oatmeal again today to try and get that cholesterol down. I got the oatmeal started. It is boiling on the stove, and I turned to the refrigerator to get out the "swill" Tom uses- a combination of ground seeds and fiber- to add to the oats. I barked my shin on the opened dishwasher. Oh yeah, I was putting up the dishes. I can do that while the oatmeal cooks. The oatmeal began to scorch as I ignored it in favor of emptying the dishwasher. I sat down to eat my oatmeal, here in front of the computer. Oh yeah, I need to write a couple of letters. I can do that while I eat... Would you look at that? There are several empty yogurt containers on the floor under the desk. (Jaffa's retreat with his ice cream and yogurt bits people leave for him.) I fished out the trash, finding several more bits of debris and paperwork that can be tossed. (Am I the only one who picks up trash around here?) (That's an inside joke, Mr C says it ALL the TIME!) I head to the trash can, and realize one of the papers ought to be shredded, not just tossed into the garbage. Over to the shredder... it is too full to run. I empty the shredder into the trash, which fills the can. I take the trash out. Where was I? Oh yeah... I was going to run a load of clothes. Off I go to the bathroom to gather dirty clothes... would you look at these trash cans? They need to be emptied too!
Oh yeah... I need a small grocery bag for the shredder. And the bathroom trash cans. Nope, no used grocery bags, guess they all got tossed this week. Wait, there are a couple in the pantry... with yesterday's non-perishables in them. Put up the non-perishables. Put a bag into the shredder. Shred the paper I picked up off the floor while finishing my oatmeal.  Oh my... the oatmeal seems to be... YIKES- run for the bathroom.  Oh, yeah, I never did pick up the dirty clothes I came back here after.  I carry the clothes out to the laundry room. I am distracted by the still opened, but now empty dishwasher. I load up the dishes from the sink. It isn't full enough to run, so I added the dog's dishes. What a mess the floor is... I better sweep. Oh yeah, put a liner in the trash can. Look, the toaster didn't get put away... PUT THE LINER IN THE CAN! (Okay already, I don't have to yell at me!) Then put up the toaster. Wait, it is filthy and full of crumbs. Spray it out, and set it on the back patio to dry. (Where it was forgotten until after I started typing this). Sweep.. as long as I am sweeping the kitchen, may as well do the foyer and bathroom. Why are the bathroom trashcans set out in the hall? Oh, they need grocery bag liners...  NO! NO! NO! you are SWEEPING! So, I got swept and mopped. The dishwasher going, but still no laundry. Trash cans all emptied... but some still unlined. Lunchtime came, and I had lunch... here at the computer, where I typed this. Now it's high time I finished up some of these tasks. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Almost August

Mr C and I have our 32nd anniversary coming up soon. (August 3rd) That is a week from today. In the past 32 years, we have reared 7 children to adulthood. We have gone from our instant family of 2 children, back down to 2 still at home.
    The great House Hunt has begun. We figure with hunting, closing times, etc... we ought to get going, in order to be out of here when the lease is up.
We looked at a couple of places yesterday. One was really high up the list of potentials on the market right now. We went to see it about the time a torrential rainfall hit. Pouring rain is SERIOUSLY a great time to look at houses. Because when the rainwater is running down the chimney inside of the house, to puddle on the floor, you can pretty much cross that house off your list. Unless you are willing to tackle the major repairs necessary. The house was very small, but we had hoped to convert a shop building into a small apartment. However, we wouldn't have funds to do that, if we had to repair the roof and water damages to the house itself.
   The other place we looked at was a mobile home, about as close as one can come to being in Missouri while remaining in Arkansas. It poses a longer drive for everyone getting to work- and a full hour commute for Sam on school nights. It doesn't have any outside storage. (It remains on the "potential" list.)
   The twins and I donated blood last night, at the Mennonite school blood drive. First time I have donated in years and years. I am sure there will be more times to come, as an O- , universal donor gets called to give any time supplies run short.
   I have been making some awesome meals from the garden. After returning from the blood drive, I did up a really fast meal using julienned squash, & bell pepper strips . Sauteed them together in a really hot skillet. (Later thought, I should of added mushrooms and onion!) I used the sauteed squash as a base for a shrimp alfredo. Tossed the shrimp into a very hot skillet with butter and olive oil. Drained off excess juices, added minced garlic, salt, pepper, then heavy cream and parmesan. It was fast, easy, and well received.
   Yesterday, Grandson Tyrel turned 9 years old. Time sure flies. We had a great visit with him over the last month. Yesterday would also of been Tom's Dad's birthday. He would of been 83, I think.
Tomorrow is my extra mom, Kathie's birthday. As well as my nephew Tony's. We have a LOT of double birthdays in the family. Me and Kimber, Luke Landoll and Connor, Kathie and Tony, Robbie and Gavin, My grandpa and Bill Joe. Alana and my Dad are only one day difference in birthdays. Little "Basketball" Jones has the potential to be born on Nola's birthday! Oh, guess in double birthdays, I failed to mention Dan and Sam! and Layney and Layla- who are also on mine and Tom's anniversary. That  pretty much brings this post full circle, so I am off of here to go do our Aldi run. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ping Pong cleaning...

I might do better with some focus added.
I have wandered from task to task all morning. I need to make salsa... but first, unload/ reload the dishwasher.
I need to pick the garden before it gets hot... but first, walk the dog. Then water the plants out front. Then re-coil the hose. (Ten zillion squash bugs have suddenly found our squash plants)
I need to sweep up the grass tracked in on damp shoes. And vacuum. And mop.
And make my bed.... but first, strip the bed and wash the sheets.
I need to clean the bathroom.... but first, empty the trash bin. But first, take out the kitchen trash. But first, go get the big can from the street. The can is by the mailbox.
What is the date? OH good grief, I never did order Tyrel's birthday gift. (Hello, Amazon Prime!)
Food. I need food! But first, take my *swill* and vitamins. Oh yeah, never got the kitchen trash out.
Hey, there is my tea I made while cleaning one of the baskets (from the bathroom) in the kitchen sink.
So... where am I? Tea. I got my re-warmed tea from the microwave. The birthday gift has been dispatched.
Sheets are in the washing machine, trash is out in the bin. More grass tracked in. I still haven't swept, mopped, or vacuumed. Bathroom is neater, but by no means cleaned. The salsa has yet to be started. What brought me out of the bathroom? Oh yeah, a liner for the small can, and the basket (for my brush and such) that just got washed. Then, I saw my tea and sat down here to drink it. :)
I hope the marvels of caffeine kick in soon, or I may be found sacked out on the naked bed.... possibly with bits of dried grass clinging to my ankles.

Results from yesterday: The Honda's airbags have been 'fixed'. Supper was less than amazing. It marked one of the handful of times since Tom and I have been married, that he declared supper to 'not be his favorite' way of preparing something. (The BBQ chicken legs in the crockpot). Tonight's venture: fajitas with fresh salsa.
The tea is drank! (Hooray, I finished something!)
Back to the ping-pong method of cleaning.

*swill* = powdered gelatin, collagen, hemp protein powder, probiotic powder, and Emergen-C powder dissolved in water. I use it to was down a handful of supplements. (Blackseed oil capsules, garlic capsules, CoQ10, magnesium+potassium capsules, VitaSprout capsules)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


This is my second day of "home alone". You would think I could accomplish more. So far, of the things I've done, nothing "shows".
I got several stacking shelves from Aldi. They are made to interlock and stack with one another. However, I have been using them as free standing shelves on my existing pantry shelves. I can see I need at least three or four more!
Beans really ARE a staple at our house. There are no fewer than ten varieties of beans in here!

I usually don't have as many chips and such on hand. Back when the kids were here, I bought up quite a few, figuring on road trip and outing snacks. I didn't realize the day glo orange coloring would affect Tyrel as bad as it did. So instead of feeding them to grands, I individually bagged them for the guys to take for lunches. Another bad move... they all went stale before they could be carried for lunch. So today, I re-crisped up the various snacks and bagged them in better quality bags. (Maybe I should of just tossed them as an expensive "lesson learned"!)
 In about an hour, I have to go trade cars with Mr C and take his car in to have its recalled airbag fixed.
Meanwhile, I have the dog's bed disassembled. Its fabric has been washed, and I need to get a replacement joint for one corner whilst I am out- then we are going to glue that sucker together.

Supper is in the slow cooker- BBQ chicken legs. A salad is made... and we have plenty of juicy, garden fresh tomatoes to go with that!
I do miss the grands. We stayed on the go, or "doing" things here at the house. I got their "Camp CowGranny" memory books designed. It has been a great summer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Middle of July? It can't be!

And yet, here we are.
First off, Daniel and Sam had a great trip to the shore of Lake Erie, for the wedding of their friend and former co-worker, Sarah. My young clothes horses bought very nice shirts, vests, ties, slacks and shoes for the occasion. Sam felt adding a jacket would be over dressing. As it turned out, he was right. Wearing your nice duds to a beach wedding is over dressing... even if you leave off the jacket.
They had driven up, and arrived Saturday afternoon. Dan said, "If you ever want to be stared at, walk in formal clothes along a beach. With your twin." An overheard remark: "Is GQ doing a photo shoot here today?"
They arrived back in Ohio in the early morning Sunday. Tom and I had arrived Saturday evening, with the kids and dog. After a nap, and a brief visit, the boys headed back to Arkansas. Jaffa went back with them.
Sunday was the planned 4th of July bash at Tom's brother Bob's house. (He is known to all the family as "Buck") It was overcast and damp most of the day, settling in for what would be a long, soaking Ohio rain by late afternoon. It slowed to a mist for awhile, and brats, burgers, and hot dogs were cooked. Someone fixed the kids plates while I was busy... and gave Tyrel a Mountain Dew "Voltage" as his drink with dinner. It has 55mg of caffeine, as well as red and blue dyes. (and 46 gm sugar!)
The kids had been munching cookies all day, and had had an ice cream cone. The soda was like rocket fuel. Yeah, real funny Grandpa and Uncle Buck. (I was told to "lighten up, it's vacation!")
We had a nice fireworks display by the small lake on Long Run Road.
The rest of the week was filled with hiking, eating, camping, sugar and soda pop. We went to a playground in Logan. The 10 acre woods were explored, the deck climbed on and over, campfires built and poked. Marshmallows were roasted, hot dogs and s'mores eaten with abandon. Tents were erected and slept in. "Bigfoot" knocked over an arched tree not far from camp, and left his footprint in the leaf mulch. (Cousin Luke admitted to the adults  accidentally knocking down the bowed over tree, and the "bigfoot" footprint was only slightly larger than mine... so there we go. But the kids are sure Bigfoot was out there in the woods!)
As we packed to go, the swimsuits and lifejacket unused in the suitcase, Nickole remarked about "What a waste it was to pack a swimsuit!"
The idea to pay the kids for chores, and then charge a quarter every time they asked "Are we there yet?" worked VERY well. Nickole lost a total of  fifty cents... once quarter at the 48 mile of 786 miles mark, and another at the 774 mile mark.  Umpaw said it was MEAN of me to take the money. However, no one lost a single cent on the ride home! I feel justified!
I took along various magnetic toys, and got each kid a steel baking pan. They were actually grilling pans, with the round holes perforating the bottom, because they were cheaper than the steel baking sheets. The holes were great to keep the steel "marbles", as well as crayons and coloring pencils, from rolling around. The pans made excellent trays for holding snacks, a solid building surface. A clipboard held paper firm and covered the holes when the kids drew pictures. On our return trip, they played for a good eight or nine hours with the magnets. I do wish I had brought alphabet magnets, and maybe a few other items to add to the play. I had most of the loose items corralled in zipper bags (with slide zippers, because the other kind are too hard for kids!) inside of a couple of totes.
Now, we have Mt. Washmore to contend with. Groceries to be purchased. I have a few coupons for FUN to be administered in the next couple of days... and then we hit the road (kids and I) for their return to their homes by the weekend.Lightening bugs (FIREFLIES! we were often corrected) were caught and jarred. The hole in the lid of the jar was as big as my thumb, so no bugs actually died from their capture, save those inadvertently squashed with enthusiasm of the capture. Kids were released into "nature" with a camera and got interesting shots from their own perspectives.
Tyre, Nickole, Great Granny Arlene, and Leigha Mae

Why yes, it does have an extra letter. "O-H-I-I-O" (or OHIHO)
But you don't tell a pretty little three year old she doesn't NEED to be in a picture!

Early Camp, before Uncle Buck arrived with his tent and tiki torches

A hat full of waterfall!


Go Fish!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Best laid plans!

The Gravette Library Summer Reading program has had all sorts of fun kid activities. The kids have participated in quite a number of them. Today 9:00 am... a much looked forward to Tae Kwon Do class.
Yet, here we are. At home.
Last night, the kitchen faucet broke. The plumber was called by the landlord... and supposed to be here between 8:00 and 8:30.
 Finally showed at 9:00.
If he makes quick work, we may be able to show up *late*.
But, it IS July 4th weekend. We have plans, I work tonight. There isn't a *better* time this could be done for more than two weeks.
So... here we are.
I have most of the *do ahead* things done, and just a few last minute things to accomplish before heading off to work.
Dan and Sam are on their way to Pennsylvania for the wedding of a friend. They drove up, and stayed last night with family in Ohio.
My *babies* are off adventuring.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reminders of the importance of GOOD food....

We have eaten quite a bit of boxed mac and cheese lately. Not alone, of course- but with tuna added sometimes, and always some fruit and other sides. Snacks have often been cheese... or the occasional cheesy corn puffs. These aren't normally a staple of Tyrel's diet... or mine!
Today Tyrel had a genuine meltdown. Becky reminded me how Daniel used to do the same, within hours of consuming brightly colored orange (or green) artificially colored foods. These dayglo- orange cheeses really are not "natural" color! So we are back to taking a lot more care about what we are eating. yes, Nickole IS eating lots more vegetables and fruits.... but we haven't really eliminated some of the things we should.
On the FUN side... we have picked blackberries a couple of times in the past week. This morning, we finally had enough to make JELLY! It seems to have turned out PERFECTLY, already starting to jell. The kids got plenty of (not so good for you) sugar in gobbling up the last few scrapes of the pan.
 Yesterday, Mr C and I took the kids hiking at the Tanyard Creek Wildlife Area over in Bella Vista. It was the kids my second time there, Tom's first. We were pretty appalled at heading up the trail, the kids dashing ahead... to come upon a grown man  urinating right there on the trail! Had Nickole been a bit faster, she would of been 'exposed' to his exposure. We called the kids back in time, and went another route.
Tanyard Creek has been here, all the time we have... but we only just learned of it! It is a great hike along a broad, shallow creek. Wading is allowed. There is a suspension bridge, and a recently fallen sycamore tree spanning the creek. There are benches... and SHADE. I did mention the shade, right?
VERY nice when the day is 94* and hiking is about the last thing you want to think about.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fun at CowGranny's continues...

We picked Tyrel up from his cousins' house Saturday evening, after Jennifer was so kind as to get him from Becky when she picked up Connor and Alana.
Do you know what you get when you mix an only child with an eldest child?

We missed Frisby golf at the park this morning, in favor of accompanying Umpaw on the grocery shopping. Once we get lunch cleaned up, we are probably going swimming. If Umpaw wants to go along, it will be at the creek. If not, I will take the kids to the local pool. We have done a couple of the parks with Tyrel. It has just been so hot, the kids have been indoors quite a bit. Even Jaffa has been eager to get his walks over with, and get back out of the heat.

We did another demonstration today of the proper use of a handy little device known as a "light switch".  I may of gotten an eye roll from Tyrel. Keeping the two of them on track without too much bickering has been fun. I have now imposed a forbidden phrase. "Not Fair" is not to be uttered to me, or even within my hearing.

Well, so much for swimming.... Tyrel forgot his suit. The pool doesn't allow cut offs, and Umpaw doesn't feel like going. (He has been sick for several days.)

I got started on this post yesterday. We made a quick trip to the local Dollar General, and got the last swim suit anywhere near Tyrel's size.  He changed in the pool dressing room. I was at the point of going in and checking on him, when he finally appeared. (I had cracked open the door and called out to him.) We spent about 45 minutes swimming. I "time" our outings by keeping a close eye on Nickole. When she starts to look a tiny bit pink, we call it a day. She has such a fair complexion that it would be too easy to burn her to a crisp. As it is, she is freckling up nicely.

Today is housekeeping and errands. Sam asked me to put his check into the bank for him today. I told him to leave me a "sticky note" on the computer. (It is the handiest "ap"- minor notes to one another in a place everyone is sure to see!)
I heard much laughter this morning, and Sam calls out to me, "That sticky note is NOT the one I left you! SOMEONE has been messing with it!" (He glared at Daniel. Though he was trying not to laugh, so it wasn't a baleful glare.) Here is the note:
Mom could you, if you could, deposit my check in the bank, in my Bank account, split between my checking and savings account, at the bank, if you could please?
~ your favorite goat, Sam

Yesterday's grocery list was supposed to contain things we are out of. One item stood out: "Teenagers".
Yes, we are fresh out of teenagers.  Friday marked the end of the teens in our home. Guess we will only have visits from teens from now on. Umpaw suggested we persuade Alana to come stay, so that we DO have a teen in the house. 
We didn't have a party. I was at work at the Wooden Spoon. Tom was pretty sick, and didn't feel like going out. Dan and Sam did come in to the Spoon to have supper. Their birthday gifts failed to arrive on time... I am quite disappointed that Amazon Prime has failed us on such a regular basis lately. 
   Our next birthday coming up is Jasher's.
Our little Jasher Adonijah Coder... the firstborn CODER grandchild! Will be three years old on Friday. His birthday gift had plenty of time to arrive... and Amazon Prime got it there in record speed. Jasher is very happy with his Fireman Sam firehouse. (Uncle Buck disputes Tom's claim to firstborn CODER grandchild. He says that is Leigha Mae.) (Both have valid points regarding the title!)

Both the kids are up now...  Tyrel having been long arisen and is dressed and breakfasted. Nickole was roused and is consuming her breakfast, so that we may get Jaffa walked before the heat of the day sets in. Hope YOUR day is blessed!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why am I so tired? Low key stress maybe...

Thankfully, not EVERY meal is an ordeal. Tuesday, I mistakenly believed that a bologna sandwich was the same as a hot dog. Hot dogs are readily consumed, so a bologna sandwich should be eagerly eaten by a hungry child, right?
Not So Much.
There was less struggle than usual to get her to TASTE the sandwich... then she readily consumed the bologna. Her verdict, "Your bologna is way better than my Poppys!" But it was served on multi-grain bread. 11 whole grains, which made occasional appearances as actual grain. CowGranny was NOT HAPPY to find the bread torn to bits and thrown all over the kitchen floor. The dog had not been in to find it, which had apparently been the intention.
Nickole cried like I was beating her when I made her clean it up. I only spoke sternly to her that it had better not EVER happen again, and I had no delusions that it was "an accident".

We have been feeding her for three weeks now, and she hasn't died of eating poisonous vegetables.
We have been exercising more than Nickole is accustomed to...  walking the dog daily- sometimes as far as three miles. Swimming, playing on the playground. *I* am getting a tan, having been spending so much more time out of doors, and actually NOT wearing jeans. Except during the hottest weather, I normally do NOT wear shorts. This summer has been quite different.
Tuesday we had "tennis lessons" in the park. There was a tennis pro from Bella Vista who came and instructed the kids. Monday was swimming at the pool. Wednesday is upon me, and I have nothing planned. This is house keeping day, but after that?
Nickole says she has never seen anyone clean house. (It is likely done while she is away at school.) She is learning that floors have to be picked up and swept and mopped, or vacuumed. Today I scrubbed both bathrooms, having to explain WHAT I was doing, and WHY. (As I recall, I was about 8 when I started washing dishes, and about 9 when I was shown how to clean a bathroom. I thought it was tremendous fun. My attempt at cleaning it on my own, to *help* was how I ended up with the skin scalded off both my feet when I was 8.)
All the kids have been given minor chores while they visit.  Nickole puts away the silverware and makes her bed. She folds her own clothes VERY NEATLY and organizes them and puts them away. I didn't show her how to fold clothes, except for socks. She was puzzled at how to make them 'stick together' in pairs.
Nickole told me she loves to organize things, and likes things all neat and clean around her. She asked me why I thought she might like things all sorted and organized. I gave her my opinion. She has very few things around her that she has complete control over. She CAN control her clothes and toys, in the way they are put together and stored. So she enjoys making things look nice. That's MY opinion.
May you have a blessed day. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Successful Kid Swap at Camp Washout

This weekend, Mr C and I met Becky at a halfway-mark destination, so that we could return Kimber Ann, and deliver Connor and Alana to her. We had thought it would be so much fun to camp overnight and squeeze in a couple of hours of hiking. A wiener roast followed by s'mores and hot cocoa to top off the evening.  We timed our drives just perfectly- Becky and her kids arriving just as Tom and I and our kids were gassing up and using the nice, clean "facilities".
Mom and Ralph were going to meet us at the campground.
  We checked in at the campgrounds, and set up our tents. Tom and Connor planned to sleep in hammocks, which we also set up. While Becky fed the kids a quick pimento cheese sandwich, Tom and Connor stretched out in their respective hammocks. Since we really wanted to get some hiking in, we tossed the overnight cases, pillows, bedrolls and such into one of the tents.  Not wanting the varmints to get the groceries, these were loaded into the trunk of the car, freeing the back of Becky's Excursion to hold the firewood we planned to gather. Connor and Tom were stretched out in the hammocks only mere moments, when we heard Connor hit the ground with a thump and an 'ooof'. His hammock had suffered a critical failure... it literally ripped from one SIDE to the other and tore completely in two. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt.
Connor, before the unfortunate fabric failure
  We  loaded up and went over to a trail at a lake we hadn't been to in more than a decade. We got parked and were just about to set off on the hike. Becky and the littles decided a trip to the 'facility' was a priority. Mr C decided the same. He handed me his water bottle and locked up the car.
.....With the keys inside.

   So Becky gave him the excursion key, and he went to see if he could get a phone signal anywhere in the no-mans-land of cell service, and figure out a way to get help. In looking for cell services, he stopped to ask someone and that person sent him to a nearby garage, where a man and his grand daughter were working. The fellow said that locking ones keys in the vehicle is a too frequent occurrence in those parts. He had tools, and came back to the parking lot where his grand daughter played with ours under the shady trees, and he and Tom each worked separate windows for half an hour or more, until the keys were at last set free.

While they were working on the locked car, the fellow had blocked in Becky's truck, so we were ALL stuck right there... and a storm was rolling into the area. The forecast had predicted a partly cloudy, rain free night of camping. As quickly as we could load up the kids, we headed back to camp to add the rain flys to the tents. Rose and Ralph were waiting at the camp for us. The kids realllly really REALLY wanted to see one particular sight, so we piled into the vehicles and set out for some quick sight seeing.

The rain started in innocently enough. Sporadic sprinkles. We got back to camp and were trying to decide if we wanted to wait out the rain to fix hot dogs, or go out to eat. The rain picked up the pace. With ZERO cell service, we couldn't look at radar, or call anyone to check for us. It was decided we would go out to eat. The rains decided that since we were all in our vehicles anyway... it was OK to let loose the heavens. It rained so hard we could NOT see to drive. One of the few times in our marriage Tom did more than slow down for such rain... he actually pulled over to the roadside. It came down in barrels. We figured we would eat quickly, then head back to camp to assess whether we would break camp, or stay the night.
   The nearest restaurant had upped its reputation over the years, and we were at prime time Saturday night... a line out the door and around the building. Mom and Ralph wanted to get back on the road, so we had fast food for supper instead of the restaurant. The sky was clearing as we got back into the vehicles and headed our separate ways. Back at camp, we had to get the wood we had gathered earlier out of the Excursion, no matter whether we stayed or not.
  Apparently, one should make a basic choice of camp sites based on more than finding two sites together. Becky's campsite was better drained... as all the water in the campground ran down a little channel we had not previously noted... forming a stream that flowed nicely along the slope into the flat area. Its progress was impeded only slightly by our tent. The tent with all the bedding in it.
The bedding that was sodden in its attempt to soak up the three or four inches of water the tent had valiantly stopped from escaping.

   Yikes. It was a slopping wet mess. The kids, impervious as kids are to the troubles of adults, were begging to light the campfire and have their s'mores and cocoa! We began traipsing the wet bedding over to the picnic tables and across the cars, hoping to drain some of the water off before packing up. Becky's tent had stayed somewhat dryer. Tom dumped out the accumulated water, and parked that wet tent up by the road, where it was also used to drip 'dry' the bedding. We began sorting out what items should go to which vehicle in our transferring of children. I found we had TWO completely dry sleeping bags that had been missed in the initial unloading of the car, as well as two comforters sealed in a vacuum space saver bag. With a bit of discussion, it was decided we would stay.

The s'mores and cocoa were made, and more hot dogs consumed. We sat around the campfire visiting as the kids played king of the hill and ran through the twilight.

  Becky and her kids made do with her slightly damp bedding, plus one of the dry comforters. Alana and Nickole shared Tom's multi-layer sleeping bag, spread flat. Its built in sheet and coverlet was over them. Connor used the other dry sleeping bag in an extra hammock that had somehow been taken along. Tom used his hammock and the second dry comforter. I found a dry towel, and used it to cover myself on an inflatable pool float in the tent with Alana and Nickole.

About 3:15, Becky and I emerged simultaneously from our separate tents, in need of  bush to water. The sky overhead was full of bright stars, but all around the patch of bright sky was flashes of lightening and distant thunder. It was on all sides. We figured we would ask Mr C for his opinion... and woke him up. His opinion agreed with ours. It was better to pack in the dark under a clear sky, than wait and see if it was actually going to rain. The vehicles were packed, with a bit help from sleepy children.
We stopped for coffee at the nearest convenience store... and then hugged one another goodbye. Not 10 minutes later, the skies opened up again.  Breaking camp at 3:30 in the morning was a spot-on good call.
Now, I am back to the house washing lots of bedding and such in our wonderful new washing machine. I am so thankful for its extra large capacity!
Did I mention we got to visit a tarantula?
Boy, do we know how to have a fun camping trip!