Saturday, December 29

Just Kidding ... a good article

I do have another post or two. Here's an interesting article on the Health and Wealth movement in the evangelical church, by CBS. Minnesota Mom posted this, and that's where I found it. Thanks, Heidi!!

For the last time ...

Maybe ... I'm posting for the last time this year, 2007. It's been a good year for me. I liked it. Overall, I have to say that I approve of 2007.

Had a lovely, lovely time at Christmas. Visited my mom, John's mom, NASA, my mom again, my dad, and Dale and Jenni. I made out like a bandit, but not quite as much as my kids. I think it's possible that my husband loves me and spoiled me completely rotten. Possible, and even probable. He's such a good man. I really do love him to death. And he looks great in jeans, too. But that's none of your business, thank you very much. (And yes, mom, I really do like his facial hair. So there!)

I hate to jinx myself, but it looks like we just might all make it to church tomorrow. As of now, we're planning on it. We'll see.

Lyndsey is driving to her parents' this evening, and then she's going to come see me in the next few days!! I think. Lyndsey is kind of notorious for not making it to my house when she says she wants to visit, mainly because she's really busy and stuff comes up. I get that. But there's a much better chance of her showing up here if she's in Houston than if she's in New Orleans, like normal. Yay!!!

Now I'm off to the shower, and then I'll watch some news and fall asleep on the couch in front of the fire. I actually have no intention of seeing any of the news before I'm asleep. I'm just saying.

Monday, December 24

It's Almost Here ...


Yeah, I know Christmas is tomorrow, but I won't be here. I'll be at my mom's house, having gallons of coffee, opening millions of presents, and gaining ten pounds by eating cinnamon rolls, lasagna, bread, salad, toffee, pie, more coffee, some candy, probably some more pie, and did I mention the coffee? We leave to see her this evening.

Then tomorrow, after the lasagna, etc, we head to my mother-in-law's house, and start all over with the food, except it'll be a traditional supper, with turkey and stuff. I don't really like turkey, or ham, so I'm a loser at the holidays, but it'll be nice to have some tomorrow.

I hope everyone has a wonderful time with friends and family, and please remember to take a moment to thank God for His wonderful Gift to all of us; it's better than anything we could find in a stocking or open Christmas morning.

In His name, and again, Merry Christmas!!!! God bless!!!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Saturday, December 22

Cinnamon Rolls

These babies are gooood. Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite things (along with raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens) for breakfast, but we never have them, because I can't get past the part where they're so bad for you that just reading the recipe makes you gain 4 pounds. So, I'm not claiming this recipe is good for you, per se, but it's a lot less bad for you than most. This is really modified from Ree's recipe, which I'll link to at the bottom of the post.

I made these with the kids last week, and the recipe is so big that I just baked the last pan this morning. I made about 6 pans from this. Here's the great part: I used whole wheat pastry flour (also sold as white whole wheat flour, scroll down to the fifth bag), but you can't tell!! This flour is amazing because the nutritional content is the same as whole wheat flour, but it's made from a softer wheat berry, so the texture and color are lighter. It's light and fluffy and you can use it in place of white flour in every recipe except when you're making a roux or breading something to fry it. Trust me on those two. It's my best friend in the whole world.

I use whole wheat in everything else, but was a little nervous to use it in something like cinnamon rolls. It turned out great! John saw me grinning as I watched him try them, and he said in a terrified tone, 'Oh, no! You didn't do anything bad to these, like use whole wheat flour, did you?' I said, 'Honey, I wouldn't do something like that to you. Have no fear.' (And then I gloated to myself, because he had no idea!! Woohoo!!)

So make this less-bad recipe, and your family will love you and worship at your feet and give you no peace until you make another batch.

Cinnamon Rolls
modified by Brea

1 quart low fat milk
1 cup canola oil
3 cups sugar, divided
4 1/2 t yeast (2 packets)
10 cups white whole wheat flour, divided
1 heaping t baking powder
1 scant t baking soda
1 heaping T salt
cinnamon, and lots of it!
1 c butter, melted with 1 1/2 c canola oil
glaze, recipe follows

Scald milk, 1 c canola oil, and 1 c sugar (scalding, for any cooking newbies, is always what you do with milk. Do not ever boil milk, unless specifically instructed. Scalding is heating something through to just before the point of boiling, then removing from the heat). Remove from heat, and let sit for an hour, until it's lukewarm. Stir in yeast, and let it bloom.

Add 8 cups flour, stir together, cover, and let rise for at least an hour. Add powder, soda, salt, and one more cup flour, and mix. (Ree says you can refrigerate the dough at this point for a day or two, but I haven't tried that yet. I'm fat too impatient to have dough just hanging out in my fridge, not being cooked or eaten.)

Sprinkle your rolling surface generously with some of the remaining flour, and take half the dough and make a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough kind of thin, keeping a rectangular shape. It should increase in both width and length as you roll it. Now drizzle half of the melted butter/oil mix. Sprinkle on one cup of sugar. Make sure it's fairly evenly distributed, and then load on the cinnamon. Don't be shy, people. It's cinnamon we're talking here. It's sooo good!! At this point, you could also add a cup of well-chopped pecans. In fact, I recommend it, because it adds so much to the recipe. Roll your rectangle towards you, keeping a tight circle, and pincha seam to keep it shut. Lots of goo will probably come out at this point. This is a messy recipe. Deal with it. :) It's worth it, trust me!!

Spray your 9-inch cake tins very lightly with non-stick spray, and start cutting your dough into 3/4 inch thick slices and putting them into your buttered pans. I was able to fit 7-8 in each pan, and again, this is a very messy process. Deal, and move on.

Repeat with the remaining half of the dough. You should have 6-7 pans (9-inch cake pans) of cinnamon rolls. At this point, you have a few options. One, you let them rise on the counter for 20-30 minutes, and bake at 400 until a very light golden brown. Remove, and glaze, then eat yourself into a stupor.

Your second option, if you're like me and have a maddeningly small oven, is to let three pans rise, and bake those three (or four. Whatever.). Cover the rest with foil, and put them in the fridge and let them hang out, chatting with your eggs and celery and whatnot, for up to three days. Then take them out, uncover, let them sit on the counter while your oven heats up, and then bake at 400 until very light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Option three is more long term. After you slice the rolls and put them in the pan, cover with heavy-duty foil or two layers of regular foil, and put them in the fridge. Don't try to stack them until they're frozen. Put them in the fridge the night before you want to eat them (12-24 hours before cooking), and then let them hang out on the counter while your oven heats. Cook same as above.

Ree says you can cook, ice, and then freeze them, but again, I haven't tried that, so I can't vouch for it. But she does seem to know what she's talking about, so I would trust her if I were you. Even if she doesn't add pecans to her cinnamon rolls.

Maple Frosting
by Ree

1 bag powdered sugar
2 t maple flavoring
1/2 c milk
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c coffee
generous pinch of salt

Mix is all up with a whisk in a big bowl. It should be thick but pourable. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.

I didn't use this recipe, because I can't find maple flavoring. I was cranky. So I just made a glaze with powdered sugar, orange extract, and milk. It was awesome.

These rolls are amazing and not too sweet by themselves, and (dare I say it??) almost healthy without the glaze. I actually only glazed two pans, one that we took to a neighbor, and we've just been eating the rest plain for breakfast. And for our after-nap snack. And maybe for a snack for moi after the kids go to bed. Maybe.

So go forth! Make rolls! Enjoy!! And please, please, please don't ever tell John that thing I told you about the whole wheat. He wouldn't like them nearly as much as he does. :)

Tuesday, December 18

Lions and Tigers and Bears ...

OH MY!! I am getting something completely wonderful for Christmas. Something I've wanted for such a long time. No, it's not a baby. Not yet, anyway. :)

I'm getting a new camera!!!! A really, really nice new camera. We're still deciding between two ... so if you have any wonderful, brilliant, or otherwise helpful insight, please lay it on me!! :)

Choice one

Choice two

I want choice one, but I'm not entirely sure why. And these probably aren't the exact packages we're looking at, it's just the first ones that came up on my amazon search. I'm leaving all that stuff up to John, because he is wonderful and intelligent and I'm really not technologically savvy. At all. It's one of the many reasons I married that handsome man!!


Oops. I've got supper on the stove. Hope it isn't burning ...

Sunday, December 16

Oy. Again.

I was really looking forward to going to church this morning. I mean, really, really looking forward to it. I love our church, and we've missed the last two weeks due to John's back and the kids being sick. I had most of our clothes picked out and ready last night, I went to sleep early so I would be well rested, and I even had the diaper bag by the door ready to go (complete with diapers, wipes, and sticker books for the big kids).

Then Evie threw up last night. A lot. John got up with her, changed her sheets, and gave her a bath because she was a mess. She seemed fine this morning, and had breakfast with no problems, so we decided to skip Sunday School and just go to service. Yay!!

Then I went to kiss David and possibly eat him a little because he's so durned cute, and I noticed that he smelled a little funny. Then I remembered that all the kids had baths last night, and realized that he shouldn't smell funny. I went up to his bed, and sure enough, he had also thrown up at some point during the night. One kids get sick, and is fine the next morning, and you can write it off as maybe something just didn't agree with her tummy. Two get sick? When we all ate the same things the day before? Can't really write that one off.

So I'm here with the invalids (who seem to be doing just fine), and John and Sam are at church. David is asleep, and Evie are going to work on her closet, which looks like something exploded in it. We'll just relax and hope for the best, but you know? I don't feel so hot either. I'm praying it's in my head, but we'll see.

We watched one of our favorite movies last night, the old Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Such a great movie! The kids just love it. Tonight, we're going to watch White Christmas with Bing Crosby, and this one has to be one of my favorite movies of all time. I remember watching it every year when I was little. John doesn't like it. Obviously, this makes him a little stoopid, because no reasonable person doesn't like White Christmas. Seriously.

On the up side, I'm out of my funk, and my fingers seem to be healed from all the hot glue burning (ok, maybe I'm milking that one a little). Lyndsey and I talked for a while yesterday, and we're trying a few new things with out housework this week, so it'll be fun to see how we each do with that. Other than that, I don't know much new. Please pray for us, that we would just all get well!! I have no desire to be sick over Christmas ... we've already got enough drama as it is!! :)

Thursday, December 13

An Open Letter To My Mother

Dear Mom:

I love you so very much. You are a fantastic mom, and a great grandmother. I would not be the person I am today, in so many little ways, without all the wonderful things you have taught to me and shared with me. Thank you for everything you have done, and for putting up with me through some of the more difficult years of my life. You gave me my love for music of all kinds, and taught me how to be kind and graceful under pressure (ok, I'm still working on that one ...), and showed me the many wonders of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. I think you're just great!

But please don't ever give my children a gift that requires a hot glue gun again. My fingertips are burning, and the kids are just desperate for me to leave the glue gun low enough so they can sneak off with it, plug it in, and hot glue everything within sight to each other. Let's just stick to slightly less destructive things, like glitter, or homemade silly putty, or rubber cement, or good old-fashioned tempura paint, ok?

You loving and grateful (with this one exception) daughter,


Sorry I haven't posted in a while; I've been in a funk. I think hormones and weather are contributing, but it's other things, too. My diet hasn't been great. I haven't been sleeping as well as I should (stupid book on Greece!). I haven't felt motivated to make bread in like two weeks; this may sound strange, but it just makes my heart happy to bake and it really lifts my spirit.

And a very sad thing happened last Saturday. Mr McCormick, the sweetest and most wonderful older man in our church, passed away. He was 88, and in mostly good health, but he had a stroke and was gone before he got to the hospital. We had been getting to know him better over the last few months, because we had started taking him a meal once a week. He lived by himself, so we would take food and then stay for a while and visit. He was crazy about the kids, and they just loved him to death. He was in the Army Air Corps in WWII, and Sam especially loved to hear him talk about his experiences.

The kids have had some experience with death, like when John's grandfather passed away a few months back. But they weren't very close to him, so this is somewhat new territory for them. When we told Sam and Evie, they were very sad, and then asked, 'Why?' They've not asked us that before, and I just tried ot be honest with them. I said, 'You know guys, we were so lucky to know Mr McCormick. God blessed us so much by allowing us to be in his life. He loved y'all, and he loved the other kids at the church, but most of all, he loved God. He was such a wonderful, wise man of God, and he always talked to us about how much God had blessed him, and he loved to sing hymns. And God decided that it was time for Mr McCormick to go home, so God probably said, 'Ray, you are one of my sons and I love you, and it's time for you to come Home and be with Me. Come on Home, Ray!' And so Mr McCormick is with God in Heaven now.'

They were very accepting of that. And then they wanted to know how he was going to get to Heaven. Such is any conversation with 4- and 5-year-olds.

So that's my funk. I think I'm getting closer to coming out. Our Christmas tree is up, and simply but wonderfully decorated. Except for the bottom foot and a half, where the baby keeps sneaking up and taking down the candy canes and trying to eat them. He's got it hard, I tell you. :) Hopefully, I'll be up for posting something more interesting in a few days.

Wednesday, December 5

I love this feeling

I'm done with my Christmas shopping!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!

We all went down to San Marcos (hello, outlet mall!) on Monday; we left around 11 and got home just after 6:00. It was a surprisingly good day. Yesterday, the kids and I went to Austin to finish up the shopping; we left around 10 and got home about 4:30. The kids were amazing both days, I loved being with them (well, if we're being honest, I loved being with them about 93.5% of the time), and I even managed to do a lot of shopping for them while they were with me. Yay again!!

The only things I have left are a few things for John, and one of our two Angel Tree kids. (This is a wonderful ministry, celebrating their 25th year this year. Check them out. If your church doesn't do this, this is something wonderful for you to look in to for next Christmas. A real blessing.) Anywhoooo, we chose two kids this year, and we've completed the gifts for one. The ladies in the church have a wrapping party for all the gifts in a week, and I'm excited about that.

I had my book club Christmas party Sunday, which was amazing, and my sides hurt from laughing so much, and my cheeks were sore from smiling so much. It's a good feeling. I'll write more about it later.

I was just lamenting yesterday afternoon to Kristie how I was kind of bummed that we don't have a tree up yet, because we usually have one up by the first of December. We've had a lot going on, though, between having the family out for Thanksgiving, people over after that, John hurting his back, the cold we've all had for like two weeks now, and John's car getting hit. Then that wonderful, sweet, and incredibly attractive man surprised me when he got home last night ... He bought me a tree!! He and Sam were going to go cut one like they did last year, but we've just had too much going on. So today, I'll dig out all the Christmas stuff, tonight John and I will set up the tree, and tomorrow, we'll decorate the tree. It's a tradition that we both love. I'll make cocoa, we'll play Christmas music, John and the kids put all the decorations on the tree, and I'll either string popcorn or wrap presents. Or maybe both, because I am the world's best multi-tasker. Not really, but I can pretend, right?? :)

We also got some good new about the car yesterday. The insurance company is going to total it, and they're giving us more than we were hoping for. Way more than we were expecting. We're actually going to end up getting almost as much as we paid for it, and that was two and a half years and 50,000 miles ago. Yet another yay!!

Now, I'm off to make some breakfast, and then do school. And laundry. And make bread. And clean Evie's room. And find Christmas stuff. And try to clean my kitchen. And floor. And take a nap. And play with the world's cutest baby. And mix up some new tea. And start getting ready for some very special company this weekend.

Why am I still sitting here?? I have so much to do!! Maybe I'll just have one more cup of coffee first ...

Friday, November 30


I've been talking with an old friend of Facebook (HI MARY!!!), and she lives in Hawai'i. I'm just going to write Hawaii, because I'm just a tourist-y kind of person, and don't feel like being correct. Anywhooo ... After looking at some of her pictures, and realizing that I had pictures from the same places, I went through and looked at my honeymoon pictures. (No, not those pictures. Who says we even have those pictures? Like I'd post them here, even if we did. Get your mind out of the gutter, people!!)

Now, Hawaii was wonderful, as you'll see in a few seconds. I've never been anywhere more beautiful ... except maybe parts of the Hill Country, but that's another kind of beauty. And Hawaii doesn't have bluebonnets, but I digress. Here's the big problem I have with Hawaii. I don't like the ocean! (Shh, don't tell John. He might cry.) I mean, it's pretty and all, but since getting pregnant with Sam (which I was in Hawaii), I have horrible problems with motion. I can't be on a boat, airplane, or lay on the top of the water (snorkeling, etc), without wanting to show everyone around me the contents of my most recent meal. Honestly, I can't even be in the passenger seat in my car for 10 minutes without getting sick. It's bad.

So I loved all the tourist-y stuff we did, like going to the Dole Plantation, or Pearl Harbor, etc. There was this wonderful little bay called Hanauma Bay (I think it's pronounced 'WHY-a-ME-a'), and we went there a few times. The snorkeling was great while I could do it, and i loved laying out on the beach while John was off chasing the turtles we weren't supposed to chase. (He almost got bit by one of them. I wasn't sympathetic. I laughed.) So here's some of our pictures, and for me, a little walk down memory lane, because this was almost 6 years ago.

Here's Hanauma Bay. This picture doesn't even come close to justifying the beauty.
Ditto location. And ditto the thing about the beauty.

This was the view from our hotel room. I know, I know. It was hard to be there. More difficult that you can believe. But somehow, we made it through, and we're that much stronger for it. :)

I don't remember if this was Hanauma Bay, or Waikiki Beach in front of the hotel. Who cares, really? Look at my legs!! I had probably even shaved them. I used to have time to do things like that. Pretend my face isn't puffy, and that my hair is lovely and combed. And that I'm not five months pregnant. But that's a story for another time ...

Just a thought: could my husband's trunks be any LOUDER??? And could we be any more PALE?? Goodness. I know I've always tried to avoid the sun (I'd still like to get carded for beer when I'm 35, thankyouverymuch!), but that's just sad. In our defense, it was February, and while you can go to the beach in Hawaii in February, you can absolutely not go to the creek in Austin in February. I'm just saying.

But seriously, those swim shorts!! My goodness! My retinas!! (Just be glad I'm not posting the picture where he's wearing those shorts and a blue, I repeat: a very, very blue floral shirt. You have no idea the things I have to deal with, people!!)

Thursday, November 29

My Time

I have no idea where it goes. Hmmph. I had my book club yesterday, which was awesome, but I was so disheartened when I got home. Let me expand a little on that.

I am not a great housekeeper. It's not naturally on my list of priorities. I do not like to clean, and I do not like to do laundry, and I hate to mop. Hate it, especially with these floors that look dirty a whopping 10 minutes after I've mopped them. But I digress. Anywhooo ... Being a neater person is something that I'm constantly working on. Probably something that I will always work on. I just have other things that I would rather do. Like sit on my butt on the couch and watch Oprah and eat bonbons.* Or paint with the kids. Or read to the kids. Or tell the kids to go play outside, then curl up with a book. Or sit for an hour over a cup of coffee with my husband and ask him why, exactly, he doesn't like the Spice Girls. Things like that.

It is a constant struggle to keep above water with the house. I've been doing much better lately, and I had a very good day Tuesday. The house stayed neat, we did school, I got a lot accomplished, and I just felt good. When the kids went to bed Tuesday night, I was able to take 5 minutes, straighten the kitchen and wipe down the counters, and curl up in front of the fire with a good, dorky book. I was so happy! When John called to tell me he was on the way home from his meeting, I said, 'ok, hon, I'll see you in a few minutes.' And then I went back to my book!! No frantic straightening, or shoving clothes into drawers, or sweeping like a madwoman. (Ok, this might sound stupid to some of you, but it's usually how I operate, and I'm working to change that, so this was a big deal for me!!) It was great.

Wednesday was pretty good, too. Got a lot of laundry done, had fun doing school with the kids, made bread and cookies, and the kitchen still looked nice. If someone had called me and said, 'Hey, Brea, we're coming to visit you and we're about five minutes away,' I would have been ok with that. Seriously! My house was decent!!

Kristie watched the kids while I was at book club, since John was working, and I had to run a few errands in Austin, so I needed to drop the kids off at her house by 5. I was looking forward to coming home that night (I got everyone home and in bed after 10:30, so it was pretty late), putting some comfy jammies on, and curling up with my book. Yes, I read a lot. Stop judging me. So we're getting ready to go to Kristie's house, and as we're walking out the door, I looked around and freaked out!!! WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO MY HOUSE?!?!?!?

It had looked so nice at 3:30, when the kids were all still asleep, and now it looked like I hadn't cleaned in like 4 days. How does this happen? It never ceases to amaze me how fast things can deteriorate with three kids under 6. I had several loads of clean clothes, to be folded, on a chair in the living room. The kids scattered it all everywhere in the living room while I was getting their stuff together upstairs. The kitchen was a mess. The dining room was a mess. My bedroom was a mess. (What? I wasn't even in my bedroom that afternoon!) I didn't have time to do anything more than have the kids pick up all the clothes, and I was just bummed when I got home. I straightened for about 10 minutes, then collapsed in bed. With my book (what, you were expecting something different?).

I have taken a careful accounting of my time today, paying attention the to what I've been doing, and I have realized something. I am very inefficient. Very, very inefficient. If I worked for me, I probably would have fired me by now. So, over then next week or so, I'm going to keep a very detailed record of my time. I'll post some of the more humorous stuff on here, because you know it's in there. I'm really going to start looking at where my time goes. Now, I will probably never be as neat as Pace or Rebecca. It's not in my nature, and frankly, I wouldn't want to be. It ain't me. But, there is no reason under the sun why I can't get done the things I need to do in a day. Not the things I want to do, but the minimum things that need to get done. I mean, I keep saying I want to have more kids, and we want to look into foster care and possible adoption in the next few years, so I really should at least start to get my act together while I have the time, lol!!

Ok, I'm sorry about this rather long-winded post. I just wanted to get all that stuff out there. I'll put up a fun new recipe tomorrow to make up for it, I promise. :) Maybe something festive and appropriate for the holiday season. Hmm ... what to eat, what to eat ...

*I don't like bonbons, and I actually don't like Oprah. It's an expression. (Don't tell my grandmother, who loves Oprah.)

Wednesday, November 28

a few pictures

I don't really have anything worth saying this morning ... afternoon ... so I thought I'd let my family do the talking for me!

Here, we've got a small hungry person in his PJ's, stealing bread of the counter. Yes, that's store bread. I'm so ashamed. This was the day after Thanksgiving, ok! I hadn't had time to make bread. Stop judging me!! :)

Here's my wonderful husband that I am so very in love with, and that cute little baby again. They both love being outside, and David loves to be tall. Because he's not. Kind of like his mother.

Awww, look who's walking!! It's David!! This has just really started in the last week or so, and it's too funny. He's just gotten good enough that he can walk in the grass without falling. He has surprisingly good balance, as opposed to Evie, who can not even be walking and lose her balance and fall down. Kind of like her mother.

Speaking of Evie ... She might have on the cutest skirt you've ever seen, and she might be wearing a crown, necklace, earrings, and a hugh pink ring, and she might even have her hair pulled back in the most feminine style ever, but she'll still hit you really hard in the head with her huge stick. You've been warned, Uncle Kevin and Uncle Wesley. Kind of like ... well, you know.

Look at that! It's a flock of turkeys in a hammock. I think right after this picture was taken, David crawled on top of Sam, which made him laugh so hard (he's raaawther ticklish!) that he kicked Evie, which made her completely freak out, and they all went tumbling out onto the ground. Luckily, that hammock isn't very high off the ground ... and Sam and Evie are used to falling out of it ... and David only looked a little confused about the whole crazy situation before he got distracted by a chicken and went off chasing it.

Oh, and while John was at work Sunday night, someone got a little too close to his car while leaving the parking lot. And when I say 'got a little too close,' what I really mean is 'smashed into the back of.' Isn't that nice? So I've been dealing with our insurance company for the last few days, which would be a chore for most people. Not us, because we've got USAA, and I love them so much that I want to marry them and have their babies. (Just kidding.) (But only a little.)

David is cutting his eight tooth. It's been a real barrel of monkeys, let me tell you. He woke up last night around 9:30, when I had just finished cleaning the kitchen and had settled down on the couch with the book I'm reading. I was just really getting into the book, when I heard the wailing. Poor baby. I waited to see if he would settle down, but he didn't so I went and got him. He didn't want milk at first, though he finally took some later. John made me a fire before he left for his meeting, and that did help calm David down; he just loves to stare at the fire.

But you know what finally did it? I started reading aloud to him from my book. I've always read aloud to my kids before they could/can even talk, and they seem to enjoy it. But this was different. I've never been able to calm a baby down this fast by reading, but I guess he just found the subject fascinating; I know I do. I mean, isn't everyone fascinated by the life of the people of Crete, before the time of king Minos? I mean, this is a really good book!!

I know. I'm a nerd. Don't tell anyone. :)

Friday, November 23

After Thanksgiving

We had such a lovely time yesterday when everyone was here. So many things to be thankful for, not the least of which is wonderful family and friends. Nanny, Mom, Dad, Kevin, Wes, Sherry, and Phyllis were all here to celebrate with us. I was able to get a ton of stuff done while my mom had the kids ... um, and I might have also taken two naps. :) It is so very hard to be me, I know, I know.

John and I had a great time on my birthday; American Gangster was more amazing than I can describe. I love just about anything Ridley Scott does, and I totally heart Russell Crowe. I'm not usually a huge fan of Denzel Washington, but he blew me away in this film. Based on a true story, which makes it even better. Um, if you have a problem with language or violence, please don't go within 10 miles of this movie. It's no Departed, but it's not too far from it.

Plus, it was nice to just sit and chat with John before the movie while we had pizza. We got to discuss a few heavy things, which I'll (hopefully) be sharing soon. For now, I would just ask for your prayers that we would be open to any plans that God has for our lives.

I stuffed myself silly yesterday at lunch, and proceeded to eat more than I should have after the kids went to bed, too. Oy!! I went out this morning, got a delicious latte from Starbucks, went by the bank, and then went to the art festival at the Bastrop Farmer's Market. I think I got a good third of my Christmas shopping out of the way this morning, for under $50! Yay me!! :)

John just made another fire, and we're all about to have a little dessert from yesterday before we all take a nap. Mmmm, pie and naps in front of the fire ... Could this day get any better?? I think not.

New recipes tomorrow ... or tonight, if I can get motivated. So yeah, tomorrow. Just kidding.

Tuesday, November 20

A Little Song

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me.
My daughter just threw up,
Happy Birthday to me!!!!!

She's only 4, but this is the third time she's been sick on my birthday. Why??? What did I ever do to her??? Hmmph.

I'm meeting my mom this afternoon in Columbus to drop off the kids. She and my little brothers (by the way, it bothers my mom when I say 'little brothers,' because they have both towered over me for years. I could be taller if I wanted to; I just happen to like being a tiny person. I can wear 8-inch heels and still be shorter than my husband. Not that I would do that, it's just nice to have options) are coming out tomorrow night to stay for Thanksgiving, so she'll bring the kids with her then. I'll be able to get a few things done around here, like mopping the floors, recovering my hideously dirty chairs, and going to see American Gangster with my husband for my birthday.

I don't know if I'm more excited about the idea of mopping my floors with no one else in the house, or going to the movie. Please don't tell John.

I'm also going to get some stuff ready for Thanksgiving; my goal is to do as little as possible on Thursday. I'll be making brisket and mashed potatoes this afternoon (I think I might have a crush on Ree's cooking blog, seeing how I'm making three recipes of hers in two days!). John is upset that I'm the one making brisket this go round, because he loves to make brisket on the grill. He's been trying to convince me that he really does have time to cook one ON THANKSGIVING, before the meal.

Now, people probably think that I'm the one who can't get anywhere on time, or have food ready for a meal when I say I'll have it ready. And I'll be the first to admit that that statement isn't 100% incorrect. But that wonderful, sweet, sexy man I married has no concept of time if he isn't at work. It'd be Friday before we ate if I let him cook a brisket Thursday morning. Seriously.

But I digress.

So I'm spending the day getting ready. And then, after I get back from dropping the kids off, I'm going to do something completely wild and crazy. Something I hear people talk about, but rarely ever experience for myself. Something wonderful.

I'm going to take a bath. With bubbles. And I'll shave my legs and take all the time I want. HA!! I told you, I'm one wild and crazy gal!! :)

Monday, November 19

Manic Monday

Well, it kind of is. I woke up really early this morning, and I had sooo much coffee. :) I've been baking for the last few days, and my family is loving it. We made a huge batch of banana bread last night, and (seeing how we have absolutely no self control) have already eaten most of it. Huh. I'm making Ree's orange muffins this afternoon, with many modifications, of course. I'll put the recipe up tomorrow if all goes well.

We're off to the post office in a few to mail Lyndsey a Happy package. A bunch of herbs and a few books, mostly. The over to Kristie's house, because they're back from vacation and I need to drop off her key! Woohoo! My kids have been asking me when they get to play with the kids again. Of course, now that they're back in town, most of the kids on both sides are sick ... Eh, such is life!

Ok, I've been playing with all these different herbs today, making teas and such, and I am so itchy!! I'm not allergic, it's just all this fine herb-y dust that gets everywhere when I mix ... I don't know ... five different batches of teas. So I'll probably spend the rest of the day scratching and sneezing and generally being as attractive as possible.

Nap time, nap time, wherefore art thou, nap time? Cause I'm awfully sleepy. And sneeze-y. And did I mention the itchy part, too? (She says as she frantically starts scratching the back of her hands and her arms) I guess it wouldn't kill me to take a shower ...

Friday, November 16

Featherweight Whole Wheat Pancakes

These are sooooo good! I don't think I've made pancakes more than 4 times since David was born, because the mixes are so bad for you, and I could never find a good, healthy recipe that I like. But I've made these 7 or 8 times in the last 3 week, we like them so much. It's out of our church cookbook, but of course I've modified it; heaven forbid I actually follow a recipe!! :)

Featherweight Whole Wheat Pancakes
by Abigail Capo, modified by Brea

2 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
3 T sugar
1/2 t salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 3/4 c milk

Sift flour, baking soda, sugar and salt together. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, vinegar, milk, and oil; mix well. Add to dry ingredients and stir until barely smooth. Do not over mix!! Pour batter onto a large, medium-hot greased frying pan or griddle. When bubbles appear on top and underside is brown, flip pancakes and brown other side. Makes about 12 pancakes, or up to 20 small pancakes.

**Notes: I like to use whole wheat pasty flour, also sold at white whole wheat flour. I use canola oil, because I never have vegetable oil in the pantry, and I use slightly less than the amount of milk called for; it makes for a thicker batter, and thicker pancake. Add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to give these a great kick, and finely dice an apple to add a great taste. You could also use pears, those are great too.

If you have more than four people in your family, you will want to double (or triple) this recipe. Or serve it with bacon and eggs. If you want to double or triple, to save yourself some time, these freeze great. Just let them cool of a wire rack, then freeze them individually. As soon as they're frozen, put them in a plastic bag, and pop them in the microwave for a bit to have a quick, hot breakfast. Or, with some peanut butter or a piece of fruit, a good afternoon snack for the kids.

Mom of the Year Award, pt 2

Well, I did much better yesterday. I let the kids make their own breakfast (it was a good day in my world when I figured out that they could pour milk without my help!), and then we straightened the house. And played around for a while. Then I took a nap at 10. But I couldn't sleep, so I got out of bed at 10:30, cleaned the kitchen again (how does it get so messy??), and went in search of my children and husband, who I had lost by this time. They were out back clearing brush and cutting firewood. Well, Sam was climbing trees, Evie was digging a hole and eating dirt, and John was clearing brush and splitting firewood. But who's keeping score?

Sam fell out of a tree, and after getting injured, decided that it was far too cold to be outside. It was about 60, but hey, we're from Texas, and we get cold really easily. I was about to have a stroke, I was so excited the first time this year we were able to have a fire. It was 60 outside that night. Please don't tell anyone from up North ... Yankees, as we like to refer to them. But I digress ...

So Sam came inside, and he and I did school before David woke up. Then I avoided making lunch and doing any form of work by chatting with John after he came in. I did a good job of avoiding, too, because we didn't have lunch till 2. I ran some errands (mainly getting more chicken scratch, cause we were out), came home, played with the kids, and we all watched Jeopardy together. I don't like to watch Jeopardy with John, because he won't guess. What kind of person watched Jeopardy and doesn't guess the answers?? What a weirdo.

Then John started a fire in the grill, and I made rosemary roasted veggies, John's favorite side dish ever, and some yummy rolls. John grilled steaks, and they turned out beautifully. I love a good, medium-rare steak. We made a fire in the fireplace, and then I made cocoa. For those of you who haven't had my cocoa, you have no idea what you're missing. Martha Stewart wishes she could do cocoa like mine. (Martha, really now. We must end this feud. Envy is a sin, you know!! Let's be friends again.)

David still has his cold, but he didn't wake up 97 times last night, so I woke up very well rested. I got up, had my quiet time and coffee, said hello to Matt Lauer when I was done, and finally got around to making those pancakes. Ooohhh, they're so good.

It's a beautiful day out, slightly chilly (ok, it's 60 and I'm cold), but clear as can be. I'm going to play with the camera for a while and learn about the settings, then do school this afternoon while John is at work. I'm going to see how that goes; we might have to start doing that.

Poor David. He has a crusty nose and can't stop sneezing. I know it's really gross, but it makes me want to laugh. A lot. I think babies with colds are funny. That's right, I expect that award to be here any day now ...

Thursday, November 15

Mom of the Year Award

I'm expecting it to come in the mail today or tomorrow, at the latest. That's right. I've been on a roll the last day or so.

We haven't done school more than twice in like 2 weeks. John has been working almost all nights this months, which is weird, so he's been here every morning. He's very distracting, I must say. Still something I'm trying to figure out when it comes to how to get school done. I've also had friends out twice this week, so I've had to pretend that my house always looks great, and that I put no extra effort into frantically cleaning to make things presentable. Uh, huh.

As mentioned here, David is cutting at least two new teeth, which has made for some sleep-deprived people in our house. Regardless of how hard he wails, he rarely wakes up Sam. I think a tree could come crashing through Sam's window, land beside him on the bed, and it could snow on him at the same time, and he wouldn't notice. So Sam isn't lacking on the sleep. But David usually wakes up Evie, and John, and sometimes moi. (I'm a pretty deep sleeper, too.) He's been waking up at least twice each night for the last few nights, and last night, John was working. David woke up 4 times between 9 and 2. It was great. So I finally just laid down on the couch and let David watch Law and Order with me. And then we watched CNN, then Craig Ferguson. Hey, it kept him quiet, and he's too young to remember what he watches. Right?

I went to bed around 2:30. I was looking forward to sleeping in. Until Evie wet her bed and woke me at 5:53. Yes, I looked at the clock. So I helped her change her sheets, and her clothes, and she crawled into her other bed (she's got a set of twin beds, thank goodness!), and realized that, while completely exhausted, I was wide awake. Hello, coffee! I made my coffee, cleaned the kitchen, which I had totally neglected last night because the baby kept waking up, and curled up on the couch to watch morning news. I don't have a favorite, I watch all of them for about 20 minutes every morning.

Then Sam woke up. At 6:30. What is up with my kids?? They usually sleep well and wake up at 7 on the dot. So Sam and I watched Matt Lauer for a while, and then Evie got up again. I turned on Sesame Street and went to sleep.

I have yet to make breakfast. My kids are watching Curious George, and the snotty baby is on my lap. (I don't mean 'snotty' in a bad way. I mean that I think he also has a cold, and his very runny nose is making him sneeze and get boogers all over me.) This is unusual, because we are usually finished with breakfast and brushing out teeth at 8. John is still asleep. And my kids really don't watch that much TV. I'll be the first to admit that we all have an unnatural love for MythBusters and Dirty Jobs, but those are treats that we watch about once a week.

Also, I just wiped the baby's nose with a sock. It's a clean sock (at least it was), but I didn't want to get up and find a tissue. The sock was on the computer desk because when I tell Evie to put her clean clothes in her closet, she hears, 'Hey, Evie, I enjoy folding the same clean clothes at least 5 times, so if you could put them anywhere except your closet, that would be great. And if you could toss them up in the air first, so they all come unfolded again, that would be even better.' Seriously.

Have I mentioned my love for coffee? They say the French Revolution came about because of coffee. Well, that and the tyranny and the 'let them eat cake' and the American Revolutionary War and the shot heard round the world and all that stuff. But French people sat around and drank gallons of coffee, literally, and started a revolution, we-ell, you know. We all want to change the world. (Sorry, Sir Paul, I had to.) That was when the French were still cool and bad asses and tough, before the Vichy government and all that stuff. Seriously.

Good grief, I need to tend to my family. And stop talking about the French. And how they rolled over when the Germans invaded. And history. And coffee. I'm going to make pancakes. I have a great recipe; I'll post it later. The kids are actually starting to show signs of hunger.

Let them eat cake!!

I wish I had cake, come to think of it. I do enjoy it.

Sunday, November 11


Well, almost. Evie has fallen asleep in my bed, David is down, and Sam is watching Animal Planet. Something about wildebeests, I think, but I don't care, because I know nothing about the wildebeest. Maybe we'll do a unit study one day on the wildebeest migration (ok, I know they migrate. But that's it!), and Sam can teach the class. Hey, someone should know what they're doing, right??

I have been very spoiled lately. Or spoilt, as my kids say. You see, I've become used to my wonderful handsome husband being at church with us, and he had to work this morning, so I took all three by myself. I can do that, right? I'm bigger, stronger, smarter, and faster than all of them. Their behavior has been wonderful lately, as the result of some strategic 'practicing' and we're all set. No one has cried about bedtime in a week. We've been practicing church. (Want to know how? Ask me, because I now know!! I want to share all my fabulous and timely knowledge, people!!) Fighting has reached an all time low. This should be a piece of cake, right??

Uh, huh. Right, Brea.

I'm about to start my period. Like most women, that gives me an extra ounce of kindness and patience. (And did I mention that it's opposite day?) So even though I had everything ready for church, clothes laid out and Bibles, diaper bag and purse in the car last night, I was still totally stressed by the time we left. David woke up three or four times last night, so he was sleepy and I was sleepy. Good combination, that one. I changed my clothes three times because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to wear. Did I say three? Ok, I'll be honest. Four. Ok, ok!! It was five. No, really. Five. But I changed my shoes three times with the outfit I picked.

We've decided we want the kids with us in Sunday School, too, not just church. Sam and Evie did wonderfully, for a change. David is usually the innocent bystander to the three-hour squabble that is The Sam and Evie Show, but not this morning. Sam and Evie colored and listened during Sunday school. They were great!! David was a pain in butt the whole time. Sam pushed the stroller around in the back for a while, and that seemed to calm David down.

(I should explain that we meet in an elementary school right now, so we meet in the front half of their gym/cafeteria and leave the back half for nursing moms and for walking around with babies and younger kids in strollers. It gives parents the opportunity to start training their kids to sit still when they need to, without being too much of a distraction to everyone else.)

Then all hell broke loose. David was sitting there, playing with his little train, and suddenly started screaming. I'm not talking a little 'I'm so tired' baby cry. I'm talking 'my arm fell off, and I ate a habenero pepper, and a dog bit me, and then I got punched in the head' kind of cry. I took him out of the stroller and just held him in the back. Then, while he was crying, I saw something in his mouth.

It was a new tooth. Poor baby. Well, the last few days with him make a little more sense, now.

Evie sat with Mrs Erdman during the service, and David was still cranky. Sam walked around with him a little, but I finally caved and let them all to to Children's Church. I'm ok with that. We'll keep working on behavior during service, and I'm going to have to accept the face that Sundays without John are certainly different than Sundays with John. Rome wasn't built in a day, people!!

Then we went to WalMart, came home, had lunch, went to Travis' birthday party (which was awesome!!), picked up Chili's on the way home, and that brings us up to now. No one napped today, which is why the younger two are asleep so early. I'm going to lay down on the couch with Sam, probably fall asleep, have half of a coherent conversation with John when he gets home, and stumble my way to bed.

And start it all over tomorrow.

You know what? I'm ok with that.

Man, I love my life. I wouldn't want it any other way. God has been so very, very good to me. :)

Friday, November 9

Why Do I Believe?, edited 11/17

That's right, I wrote Why Do I Believe, not What Do I Believe?

My best friend and I have been having some interesting conversations lately. It's been an interesting experience, because I feel less knowledgeable than most of my other friends when it comes to God's Word, so it's kind of fun to be the one who tries to answer the questions, instead of the one asking all the questions. She has been calling me, asking me about scripture, and what I believe, and why, and so many other questions. I have explained to her that I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God Himself, and that I truly believe it is literal. She mostly agrees with me ... until we get to homosexuality. She has many gay friends, and she says she can't believe that God would send them to hell for 'being born that way.' I've told her that I don't know that they would go to hell for that, any more than someone who lives in adultery would go to hell, or someone who is very prideful and haughty, or someone who steals, or someone who is divorced, or someone who tells a lie, or someone who chooses not to honor his father and mother. It doesn't make it right, though.

It may be something we never agree on. There are plenty of other things we don't see eye to eye on, and I'm ok with that. We're able to have some crazy conversations, and get into some really deep stuff, and we have never hung up the phone mad at each other. We talk politics, love, money, theology, relationships, sex, food, books, music, movies, business, chickens, my wild kids, her crazy friends, and everything else, and we've always, always walked away from every conversation a little more enriched, and a little better friends.

I don't think it's healthy to only have friends who believe that exact same things that you believe. Where is your opportunity to learn and grow? One reason John (very strongly) encouraged me to stay in my book club, is all the different kinds of women that are involved. I'm definitely on one end of the spectrum, little Miss (Mrs) stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, belongs to a very conservative church, believes in Biblical submission to my husband, the only one with young kids (most women don't have any kids at all), only one who doesn't work outside the home, and know what?, politically I'm actually further to the right than the Republican party is. So there. On the other end, you've pretty much got the exact opposite of everything I've described. Feminists, liberals, no kids, atheists, agnostics, etc. And then there's everything in between. But know what? I love them all.

Any heated topics that are brought up are addressed respectfully, and (usually) no one yells, shouts, or is disrespectful. I am forced to think about why I believe a certain way, and then I'm forced to put my beliefs into words. It's all fine and well for me to say, 'I believe in small government,' but why? Can I articulately express the way I feel without sounding like a moron? It makes me look at my beliefs in a different light. Do I feel the same after hearing someone else's well-spoken, thoughtfully presented argument? If I feel differently, it usually means I haven't put that much thought into my positions, or that my position is wrong. If I feel the same, then the conversation usually serves to strengthen my belief or conviction.

There have been many times I have walked away from book club thinking. 'Wow, what a great night. I have a ton of research to do in the next few weeks, because I want to learn more. I don't feel like I know enough to accurately present my side of this topic!' or 'Hmm, I never thought of that subject in that way. This is some serious food for thought!'

I like being on strong footing when I speak with people. I love knowledge. I love learning. I pray that I never, ever grow complacent and stop seeking knowledge and truth. And there is a book (or seven!) for every topic under the sun, but there is one Book I always turn to first. It is my first, last, and final Authority. And it's a NKJV (I admit it, the KJV scares me. Please don't tell Mike Pearl!!).

This post has been inspired by this post, which has several very well-laid arguments, all of which are presented in a lovely, loving manner, and none of which are conventional in the least. May the Lord grant me the wisdom and meekness of spirit to always come across as politely and firmly and gracefully as she did!

Tuesday, November 6

My Dad, part 2

My dad is an interesting fellow. I love him dearly, despite some of the strange things he's done. He met a woman online, and he visited her once or twice, and they ended up getting married. Did I mention that she lived in Russia? It didn't work out, what with her being a huge bee-otch. But it does make for an interesting conversation.

My dad has always loved to read. He has different tastes than I do, but he always encouraged me to read. He never tried to get me to read what he liked, but he did give me two book that I will forever love. The first is Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Excellent book, very instrumental to me for a time in my life. The second is Listen to the Warm, by Rod McKuen. It's a poetry book. I've always had an aversion to poetry, but I recently figured out it was the whole rhyming thing. I don't like that. As it turns out, there is plenty of great poetry that doesn't rhyme, and I'm discovering it. (Thanks, Lynds!!)

from Listen to the Warm, by Rod McKuen


We touch.
You can't do more when crossing streets
with mannequins in windows looking back.

I try to match your step-
that way I'm sure of staying close.
You smell like love.
That must be so
for what I smell is dear to me and new.

And so a little walk through town
becomes a journey
a love vacation from ourselves
but with ourselves.

Everything you say is funny
or beautiful.

Dad, thanks for introducing me to such a wonderful book. It's funny, sweet, touching, and, sad at the same time, but I love this book so much. I'm going to go sit in front of my fire and read some more.

My Dad, part 2

My dad is an interesting fellow. I love him dearly, despite some of the strange things he's done. He met a woman online, and he visited her once or twice, and they ended up getting married. Did I mention that she lived in Russia? It didn't work out, what with her being a huge bee-otch. But it does make for an interesting conversation.

My dad has always loved to read. He has different tastes than I do, but he always encouraged me to read. He never tried to get me to read what he liked, but he did give me two book that I will forever love. The first is Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Excellent book, very instrumental to me for a time in my life. The second is Listen to the Warm, by Rod McKuen. It's a poetry book. I've always had an aversion to poetry, but I recently figured out it was the whole rhyming thing. I don't like that. As it turns out, there is plenty of great poetry that doesn't rhyme, and I'm discovering it. (Thanks, Lynds!!)

from Listen to the Warm, by Rod McKuen


We touch.
You can't do more when crossing streets
with mannequins in windows looking back.

I try to match your step-
that way I'm sure of staying close.
You smell like love.
That must be so
for what I smell is dear to me and new.

And so a little walk through town
becomes a journey
a love vacation from ourselves
but with ourselves.

Everything you say is funny
or beautiful.

Dad, thanks for introducing me to such a wonderful book. It's funny, sweet, touching, and, sad at the same time, but I love this book so much. I'm going to go sit in front of my fire and read some more.

Monday, November 5

Stroke of Genius

I had a craving for Taco Soup this morning, so I decided to make it for lunch. I thought I had a bag of cooked meat from the last time I browned meat for this recipe, but I realized (after mixing and heating all the other ingredients) that I didn't have it anymore! Oh, no! But then I discovered that taco soup is great without meat.

Candi has been telling me for a few years how much her husband like rice in the taco soup, but I've never tried it. Payday isn't until Thursday, and I was less than responsible with my budget last week, so I'm running a little short this week. Or, you could say, I have no money for meat or another trip to the store. So I cooked one cup (pre-cooked measurements) of my brown rice that I love, and added it to the recipe. I couldn't even tell that there was no meat in there, and it gave me a lot more soup!! Yay!! I love leftovers!!

And a nice plus: if you've got any vegetarian friends, this recipe is perfect, and if you don't use cheese (or use soy cheese), this is a vegan recipe! Who knew?

Ah, it's nice when things work out in my favor ...


I'm not going to post the book review today. At least, not right now. My brain isn't all that sharp right now. I've been doing housework all morning, and getting everyone back down to earth from this weekend.

I had a wonderful time with my mom. She is pretty much the coolest mom ever, and I love her so much! And she has a MySpace. (Giggles) Is your mom cool enough to have a MySpace? Yeah, I didn't think so. :)

My friend Brian got married last week. Congrats, Brian!! I am so happy for you, and hope you and your lovely wife will have a blissful life together.

I got stood up (kind of) on Friday night, and I'm still a little hacked about it. I was supposed to meet a friend from high school, and he totally bailed on me. No phone call, no email, nothing. So not cool!!!

Vicky left me a very sweet comment (see last post), and since I didn't see a website to find her on ... Thanks, Vicky!! My funk had passed my that evening, I think, and I was basically in the 'poor me' cycle. I finally just got up off my butt, got some stuff accomplished, and made a meal for a friend. I felt all better!! (But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't move somewhere to do missions in a heartbeat!!

John, Sam, Dad, and my brothers had a great time in Mexico. They had fresh (watched em' made) tamales, went fishing, camped, had a fire ... and drove. A lot. But everyone said it was fun, so I'm glad they all went.

I'm so very much taking a nap today. Did that sentence make sense grammatically? I didn't think so. That's how tired I am. Maybe I'll go find the baby and give him lots of kisses. :) Now, where did his big brother and sister put him ... ?

Saturday, November 3

Mmm ... coffee ...

There are many things from my past that I've given up, because they weren't healthy for me. I won't list them here, but I do have this to say.

I. Will. Never. Give. Up. Coffee.

It's just probably never going to happen, folks. One thing I love about my mornings, and getting up to early, is that I'm able to go through my routine of making coffee in the French Press (yeah, I'm old school!), pouring myself a cup, and having coffee with God every morning. I sit down for at least half an hour, read my Bible, pray, make notes, and just have quiet time before the (completely wonderful) chaos starts.

Now, before I got pregnant with Sam, I drank a lot of coffee. I mean, a lot. I worked at Barnes & Noble, one of my favorite jobs I had pre-marriage, and we were the largest one in Central Texas. Actually, I think we were the largest store in Texas, period. And because we were so big, and in such a nice area of town, we had a very nice, very big, cafe that served Starbucks. And I was good friends with the people that worked in the cafe. And they gave me free coffee. :) Yes, you're right. It was a very hard life that I led at the time. :) I used to drink 4 or 5 of the huge cups of black coffee every day!!

Then Sam came along. I never was able to go cold turkey, but I worked my way down to one cup a day. One small mug. And it was half decaf. (Um, don't tell that part to John. He still doesn't know that I switch the coffee that I make for both of us to half-caf when I'm pregnant. :) Hee hee.)

So now, I have exacly one cup every morning, out of the same mug (yes, I wash it every day!). It's about half full of milk, and I usually don't finish even that, but please, don't try to take away my coffee. You're likely to have a finger or two bitten off. I'm just saying.

So why am I now writing my seventh paragraph on coffee? Because the baby woke me up at 4:45, and I haven't been able to go back to sleep, as tired as I am. I'm here at my mom's house, Evie is with John's mom, and Sam and John will be on their way to Mexico in the next few hours. I met my best, most wonderful, and completely beautiful friend, Sarah, and her husband Scott, last night at ... um ... well, at Starbucks. (That's slightly ironic or something, huh? I had tea. Don't judge me.) I didn't get back to Mom's until after 11, and I was looking forward to sleeping in.

But noooo. The silly little baby woke up howling, I mean, he sounded like a wounded and angry bobcat or something. As soon as I picked him up, he grinned, gave me a hug, and giggled. He giggled. At 4:45 in the morning. (What a little brown-noser!!) It should be illegal to giggle that early, I'm telling you.

So now I'm off to start cleaning something, because this post has already become about three times as long as it should be. Good grief, someone make me stop typing!!

New book review coming tomorrow, or maybe Monday, on the Jeub's book, called Love in the House. It's amazing. This family has 13 kids, with another on the way in a few weeks. Buy it now, so we can talk about together over a cup of, well, coffee!

Friday, November 2

Methinks it's time for a change

Sam got up this morning, and immediately curled up on the couch under a quilt in his jammies. This is not out of the ordinary; we do this pretty much every morning if David isn't awake yet. Sam can't get dressed until David is up, because David is a very light sleeper and wakes up if Sam starts rummaging through the closet for clothes. I'm love a chilly house in the mornings; I can drink my very hot coffee and put on a sweatshirt and thick socks. Apparently, not everyone shares my love.

Sam never sleeps in a shirt. Ever. Even when he's awake, it's like pulling teeth, trying to get that kid to wear something on his top half. We've been telling him to wear a bedtime shirt at night, because we don't turn the heater on unless it's below 40, and even then, not always. It stays very warm upstairs. Warm enough that Sam takes off his shirt as soon as he gets in bed, saying that he's 'way too hot' to leave it on. I have bigger hills I'll die on, so I let him.

After he got dressed this morning, I noticed he looked strange. A little ... I dunno ... puffy. And his shoulders looked abnormally large. I realized he had layered some shirts. We're getting ready to run some errands, so I told him he could only wear one shirt, and to go change. He came back a few seconds later, asking for help getting his shirts off.

I helped him get off the first one. And the next. And the next one. And the fourth one. And then the last one.

He was sweating under all the layers.

What a strange kid. I told him that if he gets cold, he can wear one shirt, and one sweatshirt. Not one long-sleeved shirt and 4 t-shirts. No wonder he looked like a linebacker.

And with that out of the way, off we go!!

Thursday, November 1

Apple Spice Cake

Well, the weather finally feels like fall, and I've been spending the last few weeks baking my hiney off. My family (and friends!) have been loving it. Here's a favorite that I forgot to post last year. It's really very healthy, and a wonderful food for breakfast. I came up with this recipe after studying several others and just experimenting ... here's the final product.

But I caution you, it's very, very good. If you're not married, and you make this for your sweetheart, you may get an on-the-spot proposal. Make it for your husband, and he'll follow you around like a puppy, begging for more while professing his undying love. Your kids will attach themselves to your legs and never let go, which makes for an awkward time of shaving your legs, believe me!! So, do beware of the powers that this cake has, and use them wisely, for good and not evil.

Apple Spice Cake
by Brea!

1 cup raisins (dark or golden)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups barely packed brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves and ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled apple chunks (honey crisp apples are the best ones I've found so far, but any really fresh, crisp apple will do)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350, and grease two muffin tins or one muffin tin and 2 or 3 mini loaf tins. Don't make this as one big loaf; it'll never cook all the way through.

Coat the raisins with flour to prevent from sinking in the batter. In a small bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together, and set aside. In your mixer, cream the butter, sugar and eggs. Slowly add the oil with the mixer running, then the vanilla. In small batches, add the dry mix. Mix in the apples and walnuts, and stir in the raising by hand. Yes, this will be the thickest and chunkiest batter you have ever beheld in your entire life. It's supposed to be like that, don't worry!

Spoon into the tins and bake about 25 minutes, until springy and dry in the center. This time might now be anywhere close to right, because my oven is possessed by the devil and makes me do all kind of strange things with time to get things to cook. When they look completely done, and are brown all over, and aren't squishy in the middle, they're done.

**As soon as you're able, turn everything out onto a cooling rack. The moisture content is so high that they start to get mushy very fast. No cooling rack? Use a dishtowel on the counter, but move everything after about 10 minutes to prevent it from sticking.

**Now, since this is kind of a pain in the hiney to make, I usually triple the recipe and individually freeze what we won't eat in two days or so.

**There is a glaze that is pretty good, too. Mix powdered sugar with maple syrup, or powdered sugar with milk and vanilla extract, and lightly drizzle over the cake when it's mostly cooled. Mmmm ...

And Tomorrow I'm Off Again!

Goodness, it has been a crazy few weeks! But good, fun, I had-a-great-time crazy, not like the never ending 10 days of driving we recently finished up. Between last Sunday, and the Sunday before that, we saw the Ellisons 7 times. That's a lot in one week! I think I'm going through Kristie withdrawal right now. :) She hosted a ladies' brunch Saturday, and spent the week getting ready for that. The house that the Ellisons moved into is the cutest thing; I love the layout!! But ... the wallpaper. It was bad, and it was everywhere. She's finishing up her kitchen, which looks completely great, but has been taking up her time. So she looked at the horrid sea shells in the bathroom and decided that she would rather have bare walls and no mirror, than have people think she approved of those sea shells.

So we ripped a lot of wallpaper off last week, and she watched my kids when I went to book club, and I watched her kids while she got ready for the brunch, and we saw each other at art class, and at church ... and my kids are bummed that we're not getting to see them this week! :)

We've been running errands this week, and now we're preparing for this weekend, which is going to be a great one. John and Sam are going camping with my dad and my younger brothers Wesley and Kevin. Please note, I would love to say 'my little brothers' but that would be totally incorrect, since they have both towered over my for years. Hateful tall things. But I digress ... And where are they going camping, you ask? Well, Mexico, of course. Where else would you go? They'll get to fish, and have fires, and do all kinds of manly things. They're all looking forward to it.

Evie is going to stay with Sherry, John's mom. We're meeting her off 290 (she lives in The Woodlands), dropping off Evie, and David and I are going to stay with my mom Friday and Saturday night. I'm very excited!! I'm going out with some friends from high school Friday, then I get to (hopefully) see Sarah on Saturday, and take Dale and Jenni a baby gift for their new arrival.

Oh, and I taught myself to crochet the other night, and have started a new scarf for myself. I like scarves, and I have decided that I most definitely prefer crocheting to knitting. It's much more forgiving to people who pay little to no attention to what they're doing. Hypothetically.

Sam has learning to play A Mighty Fortress Is Our God on the piano, and at first I was so proud. It's one of my favorite hymns, after all. And now I want to tear my hair out every time I hear it, which is approximately every 4.7 seconds. I have got to teach that kid a new hymn before I wig out and take an ax to the piano. Seriously.

God is really working in my life right now, in some great and wonderful ways. What an awesome God He is. Loving, full of grace and mercy, infinitely forgiving and patient, and just so good to me. I hope to expand on this topic soon, but please pray that I would be open to what he wants me to learn. There's so much I don't know!!

Saturday, October 20

What Have We Done?!?

Evie and Sam love to spend their free time drawing on any scrap of paper they can find (those spiral-bound sketch pads are pretty much the best gift they can be given right now!) with crayons, colored pencils, or markers. Being the parent that is usually home when they are drawing, I have been given a rather large stack of some beautiful and very interesting art. Many StarWars pictures, several knights with shields and swords (and daggers and lances and arrows, oh my!), a whole myriad of monsters, castles, horses, birds, insects, cats, dogs, and let us not forget the self portraits. Yes, the pictures are wonderful, and I cherish them all.

And I thought I was doing a pretty good job of raising well-adjusted children. Until yesterday morning.

Evie was coloring at the table, and Sam came by to check on her progress. Normally, this small act would have started WWIII, but the whole morning had been surprisingly peaceful. I was at the sink doing dishes, so I could hear that they were talking, but I couldn't hear the conversations. I did catch pieces, thought, like 'ant' and 'shrew' and 'trail' and 'cat.' I thought maybe Evie was drawing the backyard or an area of the trail out back that does indeed have ants and those mole mounds. Oh, if only ...

She came up to me a little bit later, and said, 'Mom, I have a picture for you!'

'Oh, wow, Evie. That sure does have a lot of colors. Why don't you tell me about it!'

'Well, that's a shrew. The cats killed it and it's dead. And that's all the ants that are eating it. See their trail going back to their home?'

'Uh ... um ... Yeah, I see it. Uh, Evie, why does the shrew have a circle in the middle of it?'

I got the why-does-mom-take-so-long-to-figure-these-things-out look. 'Because that's where the cats ate the guts, Mom.'

'Oh. Well, where's the other foot, hon? Shrews have four feet, not three.'

Repeat of the above-mentioned look. 'Because the ants already took it to their home, Mom.'

'Oh. Well, why didn't the cats eat the whole shrew?'

'Because they caught a copperhead and ate it first so they weren't hungry anymore.'

'Oh, ok. Anything else?'

'Can I have a cookie?'

'Yeah, sure. Why not?'

Man, what kind of strange, strange children am I raising? At least her husband will thank me when she doesn't scream and jump on a chair if she sees a spider, mouse, or snake ...

Friday, October 19

In Retrospect ...

I was looking for some pictures to upload onto eBay this morning, and I accidentally opened a picture folder from spring of 2005. And then I decided to go through a bunch of old pictures, so I'm going to share some of my favorite kid memories with you.

Here, we were trying to get bluebonnet pictures of the kids. This was one of only two pictures we didn't delete, after about 45 minutes of taking pictures. And it's very typical, seeing how Sam is trying to kiss Evie, and Evie is eating a bluebonnet.

This is the oldest one of all the pictures, from April 2005. Look how cute they are!!!

Sam only ate about 20 tomatoes this afternoon at my dad's house. He loves to eat cherry tomatoes right out of the garden (to the point where he's just not allowed to pick tomatoes when they're in our garden. They never make it to the house, because he eats them all en rout). Late April 2005.

If ever a picture captured Evie being Evie, this is it. This was the wallpaper on my mom's computer for a long time. May 2005.

You know, little girls aren't supposed to wear firetruck underwear. They should be girly, and have cute pink or purple underwear. And they really should wear shirts. But sometimes, you just have to break all the rules, and go topless in firetruck underwear. We're all had days like that, haven't we? June 2005.

We were at my mom's for this one, and the kids had been playing in the sprinkler. And then Sam found a gecko and caught it, cause he's like the Steve Irwin of gecko, lizard, and skink catching. And then he put it on Evie, but she was just confused and wanted to play in the sprinkler some more. Poor Sam, he ended up with a sister who likes all the creepy-crawlies he catches!! June 2005.

Baby got back! I like big butts, and I cannot like. You other brothers can't deny ... I could keep going, but I won't. May 2005.

So, did you read in the paper or see on CNN about those college students at UT that got trapped in some caves in Austin and had to be rescued after being in there for 32 hours? Click here, and check out picture #5. (Don't worry, it's a safe site.)

I told him this morning thanks for not getting lost, because once they had been found, and I knew everyone was safe, I would have had to smack him in the head.

And here's something strange: I never realized how many nekkid pictures we've taken of Evie. Seriously, there were way too many pictures of that child when she had on no clothes!!

And don't suggest that I love her more than I love the older one. No, I don't. Really. She just photographs better. I love them both the same. Yes, I do. Stop suggesting things.

Thursday, October 18

In a Funk ...

Ever get into one of those? I know, I know, you're probably perfect, with no problems. :) I, however, am most certainly not perfect, and I'm having some issues.

For one thing, I tend to get a little more moody after my period, not before. Silly hormones. Also, I'm a little sad. I was four or five days late this month, and I really thought I was pregnant. Of course, I started thinking that a week before I should have gotten my period (yes, I knew that soon with David), so I had almost two weeks of trying not to be too excited. Except that I was really excited. And I cried when I realized I wasn't pregnant. John was bummed, too. Not as much as I was, but he was very sweet none the less.

Also, it's October. The second half of October. So, really, it shouldn't still be 95 degrees, right? That's the forecast for Austin this afternoon, and I'm getting a little cranky. I love summer, and I don't like to be cold, but is a nice day in the lower 80's too much to ask? Really, is it?? Come on, now!

Sometimes I think I should be doing more. I mean, I'm busy with the kids, and actually have more work than I can ever get done, but I feel like I'm not doing enough sometimes. I wish I had a small business I could run from home, preferably something web-based that I could do at night, or whenever I have a few spare minutes. I was really excited about this, but I'm just not good at sales, and hate talking to people about something I'm selling. I just feel strange doing it, regardless of how much I love my product. (And I do truly love this stuff. I feel that it's worth every penny! But I digress ...)

I would love a ministry based business. I would love to sell everything we have and move to southeast Asia or South America and be missionaries. I'd do that in a heartbeat. What am amazing experience that would be for the kids! I just get restless sometimes, and oddly enough, I get restless when I have busy spurts of insanity ... like the never ending week we wrapped up last week. When it comes to the fight or flight response, if none of us are in physical danger, I have a huge tendency toward flight!! When I get stressed, I want to get out of Dodge and go somewhere quieter, simpler, and farther away from people. My dream would be owning about 200 acres and being as self sustaining (and off the grid, lol!) as possible.

I can also feel my body freaking out about my diet lately. It has not been good. I think Sarah and I are going to detox together next week, and I'm looking forward to it. Kristie let me borrow her detox book, and it's a really big deal. It's a nine-day course, where you gradually add certain foods back into your diet. I've just been so tired and run down the last few weeks, and craving refined sugar and flour. I haven't felt like this in forever, and it's really getting to me. Actually, I think how I'm eating is mostly responsible for the funk I've been for the last few days.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. It's the verse that keeps me going some days, because man!, do I ever try to do everything in my own strength. Yeah, that always works out sooo well for me. :)