Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I'm not a cryer. It just seems like a waste of energy to cry. If the situation is that bad and you can do something about it, then why waste your time and energy bawling about it. Suck it up and move on.


I was darn close to tears last night, not out of sadness but out of gratefulness. The outside garden patches are all tilled. Between our brother-in-law literally busting his back to run Jay's mammoth tiller in the buildings and our fabulous friends bringing their family to till all the outside beds, our garden is tilled. For anyone who hasn't been to our house, that may not seem like that big of deal. But, considering that our garden is roughly 3 acres, it is a big deal. Huge deal.

It means that the 150 pounds of seed potatoes, 1800 onions and/or leeks, and 60 broccoli plants can get in the ground this week. It means that the 100s of tomato plants can be transplanted this weekend. It means we can get the garden planted, even with Jay's bum foot.

I am humbled, amazed, grateful, thankful, and moved to tears.

Now THAT is a worthwhile cry.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Orange-Chicken Rice Bowl

These days, my priorities in the kitchen are:
  1. easy
  2. cheap
  3. nutritious
  4. yummy
This Orange-Chicken Rice Bowl recipe from Kraft Foods fits all those priorities. It takes about 30 minutes, including prep. The flavor is sweet enough that my girls love it, yet flavorful for the adult tastes. To make it seem more like take-out, we cheat and pick up a few egg rolls from Ray's (local grocery store).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just tired and grateful

By the numbers:

7 high tunnels covered in plastic
4 high tunnels tilled
1 high tunnel planted
4 girls in bed
1 husband in the hospital,
2 days and counting
10 people here to help today
1 trip to Manhattan to visit Daddy
1 K-State game lost, but
1 amazing season
1 tired mama


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bumps in the road

I was taught at an early age that if there are too many obstacles between you and your goal, maybe that's not the direction you should be headed. If God wants you to head a certain direction, the path will be cleared. I believe that, but I have trouble distinguishing roadblocks from speed bumps. Is God trying to tell me to stop, or trying to make me work hard enough for something, to make sure I really appreciate the accomplishment?

Jay and I are both working toward dreams right now. His is The Garden, aka Jay's Jellies. Mine is nursing. Or, maybe I should say our dreams are, because we are both equally invested in one another's dreams.

His dream battles against the weather, his time, finances, plant health and now, his health. He's having surgery on Friday for osteomyelitis. For you googlers out there, "acute osteomyelitis of the 4th and 5th metatarsal caused by trauma." When I asked the nurse how long he'll be laid up, the official answer was, "we won't know until we get in there and see how bad it is."

Not only does this make his real job difficult, with state testing coming next week, but it also makes his dream pretty damn hard too. You can't till with crutches. You can't plant 150 pounds of seed potatoes, 1800 onion/leek sets, 350 tomato plants, 250 pepper plants and countless other squashes, beans, eggplant, beets, broccoli, and cauliflower with crutches.

And, being momentarily selfish, you can't take care of 4 girls solo two nights each week so your wife can finish her A&P class. Six weeks left of class, 12 nights. I'm not sure how we're going to pull this one off.

But we've dealt with worse. Hell, we feared worse just with this health episode. We'll settle happily for osteomyelitis. We'll deal with Friday, then the weekend, then next week. Six weeks is such a short time in the big scheme of things.

But I just wish God would send me a big flashing billboard to tell me if these are speed bumps or roadblocks. I never have been good at subtlety.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mexican Corn-Chicken Chowder

My favorite type of cooking is piecing together three or four different recipes and creating something new, hoping the result is tasty enough for everyone in our family to enjoy it. This weekend's invention was a definite hit.

Mexican Corn-Chicken Chowder

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 Tablespoon southwest seasoning or chili powder
10-12 splashes of hot sauce
1 can cream-style corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups Monterey jack/cheddar cheese mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 diced bell pepper (or Anaheim, jalapeno, or banana pepper for added heat)
1 diced tomato

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, chicken, cumin, and southwest seasoning. Cook until chicken is cooked thoroughly, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add corn, creamed corn, cheese, sour cream, diced pepper, and milk. Stir until mixed thoroughly. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Add hot sauce and additional cumin or southwest seasoning to achieve desired spiciness.
  4. Continue cooking until heated thoroughly, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Just before serving, stir in chopped tomato, if desired.
  6. Serve topped with tortilla chips and extra cheese.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blogger Borrowing

Borrowing a recipe from a friend tonight. Yummy breakfast casserole, via Anne. Check it out and try it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Give me a break

Ask and you shall receive.

This spring break has been fantastic, healing for all, er, make that MOST, of us.

For Katie's first day out of school, she came to work with me. Even though it meant most of the day was spent on the computer, she loved it, and I did too. We probably had the best time in the car, just talking about stuff. And, if there is ONE thing Katie is great at, it's talking. Thus, Katie had her special day.

On the second day of spring break, I celebrated Maggie's special day. She requested Pizza Hut and bowling, an easy request to fill. We were joined by our special friends, to make it even better. Maggie made it super-uper by bowling a crazy 112! I can barely bowl that!

The rest of the week went something like this:
  • Sunday, I forgot about the time change and had everyone ready for church...15 minutes after it started. DOH! My aunt came up for the day, and my cousin and her daughter came Sunday night, so that... And Jay worked on his high tunnels.
  • On Monday, I got to show Courtney all around Manhattan and K-State. It would be awesome if she decided to attend here. And Jay worked on his high tunnels.
  • On Tuesday, I took my final in Human Growth and Development. It's such a relief to have one class complete. And Jay worked on his high tunnels.
  • On Wednesday, I went to work. And Jay worked on his high tunnels.
  • On Thursday, I had organized a 4-H craft day for Katie's 4-H club. Katie and Maggie participated, making a bulletin board, canvas bags, and letters for their walls. Even better, Jay's mom came up and helped. It was such a comfort just knowing someone in the room had a clue what they were doing with a glue gun. Crafting=not my forte. Thursday afternoon and night, I managed to finish up two more chapters in Nutrition. And Jay worked on his high tunnels.
  • On Friday, work. And now, watching the Librarian while Jay snores next to me. And Jay completed four of his six planned high tunnels.
  • Saturday will be a lot of Lainie and Natalie time, hanging out at home, enjoying the snow, watching K-State basketball. And by Sunday night, I need to get my Anatomy and Physiology homework done.

It may not seem like much of a break, but can you imagine us trying to get all that done in a normal week? I think not!


We could use some prayers, if you don't mind. Jay's foot is still not good, from puncturing it over a month ago. He's had a couple tests already, and has an MRI on Monday and an appointment with a orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. It could be an infection of some sort. The biggest problem is, if they have to do anything invasive to fix it, he's really afraid of being laid up for any length of time. He has invested so much into the garden, in time, money, heart... and I'm just not sure how he'll do what he needs and wants to do if he's not 100 percent. So, please say the prayers for an easy fix to his foot.

I hope you all are enjoying your break, if you got one!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Right now, I feel so content, if I were a cat, I'd purr.

The kids are sleeping and as healthy as we get. Jay is right now sitting at the table in the basement, with a lamp on his forehead and a special seed-sorter in hand, planting seeds...lots of seeds. I had a good week at school and hope to wrap up one of my classes next week. The house is cleaner than it was this morning, and the cupboard and fridge is stocked for the week ahead. Katie is coming with me to work tomorrow, for something special, and I have a bowling date with Maggie for Saturday. Lainie behaved through speech; even though her behavior hasn't been the best this semester, she has made tremendous progress. And family is coming to visit on Sunday night.

Life is good, folks. Life is good.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sloppy Joes, slow-cooker style

From my friend, Sue, who got it from her mom, Roberta, who got it from a co-worker back in 1962. A good recipe will spread faster and last longer than ANY gossip! And like gossip, it changes a bit as it passes from one person to another. I added corn to sneak in some vegetables, and Sue adjusted it for crockpot.

1 - 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 to 3/4 cup ketchup
4 Tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup water
1 can corn, drained
1/8 to 1/4 cup white vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
Chopped onion and green pepper, optional
salt and pepper, to taste

Brown meat and drain. Add all other ingredients and pour into crockpot. Cook on low for 4 hours, or until warm throughout. Serve on hamburger buns.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I am a worrier and a planner, which is a dangerous combination. Thursday was the first beautiful spring day we've received this year, so I picked the girls up at school and met a friend at the zoo park. It was as lovely and invigorating as I hoped. We watched the squirrels make crazy loops through their cage, watched the monkeys play with their toys, cooed at the pigeons, and then we came to the panther cage. The panther is a relatively new addition to our zoo, coming last year, and he makes me nervous. Our zoo isn't a fancy, AZA-certified place. They put the panther in the cage previously dedicated to a hawk. Now, they did fortify the cage, but I still cringe at the cage and wonder about it's strength and ability to keep this panther in, if it really decided to exit.

So, while we were there, Katie asked me what would happen if the panther got out? What would we do? (See, she IS so a mini-me.) And I told her I'd find a way to throw the girls on top of the roof of the cage, to try to get them safe. This is funny in a lot of ways. 1-A panther could probably jump up there too, so would it really protect them? 2-How am I going to throw two 50-pound girls 12 feet up? (but I bet I'd find a way) and 3-I already had an answer, from the first time I saw the panther at the zoo. At that point, I already had calculated the potential risk (panther out) and formed a plan of action (get girls high, out of harms way). How pathetic is that.

And what's worse, I do it all the time! Lainie spikes a fever just before nap; I treat the fever and lay her down, but already have a plan of "if she has a seizure" from treating the seizure to getting someone to care for K, M, & N. Jay doesn't come home when expected; I forecast the worse possible explanation and start thinking of what steps I'll take next. Even something as benign as Natalie sleeps through the night, I wake up and think, "What if something happened to her in the night?" and immediately start thinking of the next steps I'll take. I spend too much time and energy worrying about things that never happen. As one person told me, 90 percent of what we worry about never happens. So, my theory is that if I worry about the worst possible scenarios, it increases the odds that it won't happen. Crazy? Probably.

But, even as the worrying voice speaks up, the "have faith" voice speaks louder. As humans, we worry. We worry about everything that happens on this earth, worry about tomorrow. Some of us worry more than other...ahem. But as it says in the Bible, "Be strong and take heart, and have no fear of them: for it is the Lord your God who is going with you; he will not take away his help from you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) In other words, even when things seem hopeless and at their worst, if you can just push aside your fear and shadows long enough to let God in, He will help you. He will carry you through. He will show you, even in the darkest days, that you are not alone and there are still moments of light.

For me, the worst fear is losing a loved one. Well, truly, all my fears circle back to the fear of losing my husband or a child. I think a lot of us have that fear. While we are here, on this earth, surrounded by beautiful gifts God has given us, we get complacent, comfortable. We look around at the unending blue sky, the gorgeous smiles of loved ones, the irreplacable giggles of children, and we think, "It can't get any better than this." And that, my friends, is just one more sign of our ignorance and minuteness compared to the power and glory of God. We think this IS heaven...and sometimes we think this is hell. Either way, we get so wrapped up in the now that we forget the tomorrows and the forevers. We worry about leaving this earth, when in fact, we should be celebrating for those who have gone to Heaven. They have already reached the destination that the rest of us only can dream of. And, oh my, if the earth is THIS wonderful, can you imagine what heaven must be?

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Menu

I'm trying to figure out the best way to publish the monthly menu. I have it in a Microsoft Word calendar, so I can print out a month at a time. Here, it is in a jpg file or, below, as a text list. I'm still not sure which format is most useful. Suggestions?

March 2010 Menu


Egg burrito


Crockpot tacos






PB toast

Frozen meal

Super nachos



Ham pockets




Frozen meal

Grilled tilapia and cheesy broccoli


Scrambled eggs

Sandwiches, chips

Pizza roll



Pizza roll

Salad, baked pork steak







Grilled cheese

Vegetable soup


Toast and fruit


Crockpot meatballs




Broccoli cheese soup


Donut day


Fish sticks and mac-n-cheese




Pork roast, potatoes


Biscuits and gravy

BBQ pork

Chili and rolls


PB Toast


Frito pie



Apple-spinach salad

Tomato soup and grilled cheese


Egg sandwich


Frozen pizza



Cheesy tacos

Meat balls and rice


Donut Day

Frozen meal

Tuna cakes




Glazed ham, salad



Hot dogs and beans

Cheesy potatoes and ham casserole


Egg burrito






Spanish rice




Pork stir fry




Potato soup


Donut Day


Creole shrimp and rice




Beef roast


Scrambled eggs

BBQ beef, chips



Toaster strudel




Toast and jam


Orange-chicken rice bowl




Fried rice, egg rolls

Coming out of the shadow

According to this site, there are 5 friends every woman needs:
1. The "I've Seen You with Braces and Bell-Bottoms" Friend
2. The Biological Buddy
3. Your Own Personal Martha Stewart
4. Your Sister-in-a-Suit
5. Wild Woman

I was blessed to spend my weekend with my #1/5 combo and #2. Friday night, my college roommate came down, and Saturday we headed to KC to meet up with 2 more awesome college friends. We ate lunch, debated naps, bought shoes and jeans, ate more food, talked more, laughed until I snorted, ate Cheesecake, went to bed too early, woke up too early, ate more, and talked even more. I should have been tired, but I came home happy, energized, at peace, and with sexy new jeans.

I think it's been 5 years since I had a girls weekend. The delay is totally my doing, though. The self-imposed mama guilt and wife-guilt is so strong that it overwhelms the excitement of a selfish weekend. I know that I will have a fantastic time, and I know my family will be just fine. I know it's worth it, in every way. The hard part is just committing to it and getting in the car and driving.

I learned things about my BFFs that I didn't know, despite being friends for nearly 15 years. We talked about things as superficial as what kind of shoes look best to things as deep as career decisions and family decisions.

I remembered how to listen to an adult, how to eat a meal without cutting someone's food, how to drive without backseat bickering, and how to not worry about a schedule or routine. All that, in a mere 24 hours. (We left Saturday morning and got home Sunday afternoon.)

Thanks, A, A, & J, for making it a fabulous weekend! Let's do this again soon, in less than 5 years!


And while I was gone, back at the homestead, Lainie had a good learning experience. I know I translate for her a lot, but I didn't realize how much she has come to rely on it. My parents came up to help Jay (not with the kids, he can handle that, but to help him get his building finished up so he can get veggies planted outside soon.) Saturday afternoon, around nap time, Lainie wouldn't settle down and, according to Jay, had a "terrible fit." He thought she was just tired, but once I got home on Sunday and we sat down to talk about it, she was actually just extremely frustrated. She wanted her blanket to sleep with, just her blanket. But, she can't say blanket. It's something similar to mee-neh, which of course Jay and my mom couldn't understand. Lainie refuses to sign, just out of pure stubbornness, and that was her undoing on Saturday. My mom is fluent in sign language, so if Lainie had just signed blanket, she would have gotten what she wanted and avoided the tears. So, her desperation became a lesson learned, as I explained to her that if she had signed, grandma could have understood her. And, if she wants everyone to understand her, she needs to keep working hard with Naomi and Miss Jill. "If you work for Naomi and Miss Jill when they ask you to, then before long, when you ask for a blanket, everyone will know you want a blanket." Lainie nodded emphatically, "Yes" with big crocodile tears rolling down her face.

My poor baby. I wish I could make it all better, but I'm glad I wasn't home to make it easier this weekend. It was a lesson learned for both of us.


So besides school, work, and family, what do we have going on? Jay's garden is in full swing, with a few hundred plants started in the basement and three more high tunnels soon to go up. He is hoping to string the plastic over one high tunnel this week some time.

Katie is getting ready for state testing (as is Jay), practicing for a spring dance recital, and looking forward to her first 4-H pigs this April.

Maggie is rolling right through Kindergarten and hopefully getting evaluated for speech and gifted soon. She has two loose teeth -- the top two -- and I'm hoping they can get her speech eval done before we need to pull them. She's not going to stand a chance to fix a lisp with her front teeth missing! teehee I'm so very grateful that her behavior has improved a thousand-fold this year; she's becoming a very sweet young lady.

Lainie's world seems to focus around preschool, speech, daycare, and Dora the Explorer. She keeps saying, "I want to go to the park." Don't we all, sweetie!

Natalie is standing for longer stretches and is taking more stable steps. She's down to two bottles a day, weighs 17 pounds and some, and measures 27 1/4 inches. She's a little puffball of energy. Between a new tooth emerging and an ear infection, we're not seeing her super-smiles as much...and I miss them!

School is rolling right along. We are a third of the way through the semester, and right now I'm sitting with three As. I'm officially in the nursing program for the fall, but need to finish my prerequisites and a few hundred scholarship forms between now and then. Here's hoping!

And here's hoping that you all are finding peace in your life, with or without a girls weekend.