Saturday, March 31

My Dad

My dad is a wonderful guy. I am crazy about him, and I will always be Daddy's Little Girl to him. He loves my kids, is fond of my husband, and loves the heck out of my brothers and me.

Now that we've established that, let me throw this in there: my dad is a little crazy. And unpredictable. And he does things that nobody understands. When my brother Kevin was three or four, and I was seven or eight, Dad decided that we needed the experience of riding public transportation. So he took us to the bus station, the ride the bus that went to downtown Houston. Doesn't sound so bad, you say? Well, he didn't ride with us! Nope, he followed the bus in the car so we could leave downtown at our leisure. A small kink was thrown into the plans when the bus got onto the HOV lane, and Dad couldn't follow. So he's the kind of guy who can roll with the flow, and he drives beside the bus. There was no traffic at that point.

But then ...

The bus broke down. In the HOV lane. Where Dad couldn't get to us. Yeah. Kevin got really upset and cried a lot, it took them at least a few hours to fix the bus, and a very nice lady looked out for us. Totally not kidding about this.

Then one time, Dad met a lady online through Yahoo!Chat, and went to visit her , and the next thing you know, they're getting married. That's great for him, you say? Well, I wouldn't have had any problem, either, except that the lady was from Russia. And didn't speak English all that well. (Well, she could write it, but wasn't so great at the verbal part.) Her driving was awful, she wasn't very nice to us, and her daughter was a borderline major bee-otch. Seriously. And she kept sending money back to her family, and then she went home to visit and just never came back. So they got a divorce. And Dad missed my 18th birthday because he was in stoopid Russia, so yeah, I have some issues.

Then Dad met another lady online, and surprisingly enough, she was from Russia! But this time they didn't get married. She just visited a few times and Dad visited her, and it was over when he offended her (or figured out her game) by saying that he wasn't going to pay for her to visit anymore. Haven't heard from her since them.

Then one time Dad dated a girl that was abut 10 months older than me, and that was just really strange.

And this is all just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe I'll post one of the funnier stories another time.

I'm reminded of all of this because he just came to visit, which was great. We had a wonderful time, and chatted a lot because John is on a retreat right now, and he's jsut a character. I love him. He's my Dad!! :)

Wednesday, March 28


We all learned about cause and effect in school, right? Same general principal as 'every action has an equal, if not greater, reaction.'

Action: hand 4-year-old a camera, and teach him how to take pictures. Make sure this is a digital camera, so as to not waste all film ever made. Also, teach him how to check the picture right after he takes it.

Reaction: 4-year-old takes picture of Dad when Dad isn't looking and really isn't all that awake yet and is picking his teeth.(Ladies, now you understand why I have a problem keeping my hands to myself!! What's not to love about this sexy beast??)

Action: Above-mentioned adorable kid keeps practicing with the camera.

Reaction: Camera skills drastically improve!
If this was a slightly larger picture, you could see that I have on a very cute toe ring (which I haven't taken off in over 3 years) and fabulously painted toenails. Light pink. Works very well on my feet.

Action: Just ignore the amature photog, and pretend like you are looking each and every time he takes a picture, flips the function over, and shows you the picure on the screen.

Reaction: You are really surprised when you realize that he hit the money shot of the baby, his favorite subject!
Awwww!! Ain't that the cutest little critter you'd ever seen?? He looks as surprised to see me as I am to see him.

Action: You are very, very attracted to the man that will one day become your husband.

Reaction: Babies!!!! Yay!!!!!!
Sam really is reading to David; this time its out of his favorite Calvin and Hobbes book. Both Sam and Evie love to read and sing to David, as often as possible.

Well, the garden is done. I had to pull out all the spinach, because I planted it a little too late this year, then the rain came and killed all the seeds that had just started to grow. I can live with that, because we need the rain!! I had to replant all but two of my garlic, but that takes so long to grow anyway that a few weeks won't make a difference. Pepper plants are in, as are all the herbs. I'm growing two kinds od spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, lavander, lots of rosemary, stevia, orageno, parsley, and cilantro. And lots of basil. And probably others that I forgot.

We've got most of the flowers in, too. All the verbena and lantana is starting to come back, and some others we didn't expect, like the daisies and dianthus. And of course, it's wildflower time!! Yay!!! I'll try to post some pics from around this place soon ... and now, I need to take a nap to sleep off the huge Mexican lunch I had!

Friday, March 23

my organic aunt would get a kick out of this

We went to the Farmers' Market this afternoon when we were in town, and got some great stuff! I can't wait for supper this evening. Swiss chard, a salad mix, fresh garlic (you have not lived until you've cooked with real fresh garlic!) a thing for the birds, eggs, asparagus, some goodies for the kids, and spinach. However, I am much lighter on spinach now than when we first bought it. We were walking to another booth, when I heard people laughing. I thought, 'Great, what have my kids done now??' I tunred around, and they were following behind me, polite as could be, eating spinach straight out of the bag.

Oh, well. At least I don't have to worry about chemicals on the food ...

Only my children, I tell you that. I'm just glad David isn't any bigger, cause I know I wouldn't have made it home with anything!

the things we take for granted ...

The Pioneer Woman has inspired me to write down my thankfulness for something I used to really take for granted ... RAIN!! She is thankful for rain because she and her husband have a cattle ranch, and need rain to keep things alive. We love it when we get rain for vegatation around here, like all the veggies we grow, our flowers, our grass, and our trees. Because of the prolonged drought in Central Texas, we've lost several oaks and pines since we've been here, and we've only been here a little over a year!

When we lived in Austin, I was kind of aware when we needed rain, but my think was more along the lines of, 'Man, I wish it would hurry up and rain, because Bull Creek is starting to smell funny and it needs a good washing out.' Things like that. I'm sorry to say, it really never had crossed my mind before that there are a lot of things out there that need rain to survive. Many of the local farms out here (like a good little gal, I shop at the farmers' market and know most of the vendors pretty well) are really getting into a bind because of the drought, and this year has been predicted to be just as dry as the last!

But here's the real, deep down reason I was so glad when we got almost 10 inches last week: fires. We live in the middle of a LOT of pine trees, with the accumulation of years' worth of pine needles under them. Add in the oaks out here (mostly live oaks that drop their many, many leaves every year) and various other things, and this is a dangerous place to live in a drought. We've been under a burn ban longer, much longer, than we've been allowed to burn since we moved, and we have had several scares. Three times we've had to toss what we could in the cars, try to remember the kids, and high-tail it out of here beause the fires have been so close. The most recent one was started by my next door neighbor, the Bird Lady. We were all lucky with that one, because the fire department out here is so great. Only 10 acres was burned up, and there was no structural damage on anyone's property. We really do live in a tinderbox.

In the last 14 months, there have been 5 fires that the department has responded to on our street alone. It can kind of get to you, especially on the very dry, very windy days. John used to tease me about my tendancy to be over-prepared for emergencies, but he now understands why I always have three things in easy reach in my closet: 1) a box with copies of all our important documents (birth certificates, marriage license, house paperwork, insurance info, etc), 2) a bag with a change of clothes (day clothes and jammies) for eveyone, and 3) a bag with kid things like the kids' fav stuffed animals (yes, we originally bought three of each animal in case one got lost), some toys that will keep them occupied if need be, etc. This last bag also has several bottles of water and lots of munchies. Both bags have $100 in cash.

Ok, I know I can replace almost everything in my house, and I can certianly buy everything in each of the two bags at WalMart. But if my house burns down, do I really want to go to the store that night?? If we have to go stay with someone, or at a hotel, do I want to be worrying about what everyone will wear to bed? No, I don't think so. And the snacks are there because we live an hour from Austin, which is where we'd probably end up, and I just don't like ot be hungry in the car. I've found that you can gt through just about anything if you have a few good snacks. Stress on an empty stomach is hard.

Have I gone a little overboard? Probably, and I pray that John is right, and that we'll never have to use any of this stuff. But it doesn't hurt, that's for sure ...

All that to say, I now have a new appreciation of rain, and a new love for it. Here's to the chance of more this weekend!

Monday, March 19

I love babies!!!

Congrats to Ralph and Becky Garcia on the birth of their beautiful new little boy, Ari!!!! I saw this little critter this morning, and he is just too adorable. And you wouldn't believe the hair on this kid!!!

So congrats, and may God bless this new little angel!

Zzzzzz ...

Oh! Sorry! I was asleep there for a minute. Won't happen again. Sorry.

I am sleepy, though. But, to make up for lack of posts, I present to you something special, wonderful, that I love with all my heart. My babies!!! First, we have Evie and David with Evie's bear, Emily:

Here's Sam and David before church a few weeks ago. You can't see all of it, but both of them have on khakis and long-sleeved button downs, Sam has on a sweater, and David has on a sweater vest. I wanted to eat both of them right then and there.

Here's just David, my ever-so-sad and discontent baby.

Sam and David really do get along well. Sam thinks his little brother is the bee's knees, and David already looks up to Sam. How sweet are they? Right after John took this picture, David reached out and pinched Sam's nise, which made Sam laugh really hard!

For those who were skeptical about the idea of potty-training infants, HA on you. :) David thinks it's funny when he has an audience to do his thing.

And last, but certianly not least, this is what happens when you give Sam a camera and teach him how to take pictures.
Actually, Sam really is becoming quite the little photographer. He brings a very interesting perspective to things. I'll post some of his stuff when I can get the camera working again.

And now, seeing how it's Monday, I am off to mop my floors!! New post tomorrow.

Monday, March 12

I know my mom is laughing right now ...

... because my daughter is so much like ME!! Grandchildren really are a parent's best revenge. I tell you what, that girl is killing me. She is just such a fireball, with so much energy, and she wears every emotion on her sleeve!! She amazes me every day. She can go from belly laughing, to sobbing, back to laughing, all in the space of about 2 minutes. And each emotion is genuine ... she very rarely fakes anything! Although, she did come up to me the other day, telling me her throat hurt. I asked her why it hurt, and she looked me square in the eye and said, 'Because Dr Conally took my tonsils out, and he told me I could have ice cream.' I said, 'Are you sure that Sam didn't have his out? Because I thought is was him in the hospital, not you.' She would not be persuaded, and tried for several more minutes to convince me that she was lacking tonsils. Finally, she just gave up and said, 'Well, maybe it was Sam. But could I have some ice cream anyway?'

How can you say no to that???

She shot John a look the other day, and he actually had to leave the room because he was laughing so hard. I asked him what was so funny, and he informed me that Evie had just given him the hundred-yard stare that I give him occasionally. (Me? What hundred-yard stare? I'm sure I haven't the faintest idea of what he's talking about, really ...) She really is like a Little Brea in some ways.

And I'll tell you what, I love every single minute of it. Praise God for His blessings ... I have four of the best ones He's ever given out right here under my roof as I type this!!

Mexican Rice Cassarole

This is a wonderful dish, because it freezes as well as anything I've ever frozen before, and it tastes great! It's also pretty good for ya, and it doubles very well. A good way to clean out your fridge, and it can feed a lot of people for not a whole lot of money.

Mexican Rice Casserole
by Brea!

3 cups uncooked brown rice
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can flavored diced tomatoes
meat (cold, however much, whatever kind; I use leftover fajitas, or two cooked, shredded, seasoned chicken breasts)
tortilla chips

Cook rice according to package directions (add 1 teaspoon salt), and set aside to cool. Heat oven to 350. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, and meat in a large mixing bowl, reserving the liquid from the corn for possible later use. Mix together and add a handful of shredded cheddar cheese, if you want. When the rice is cool, mix into the mixing bowl. Combine well, adding the reserved corn liquid if needed to form a very thick but slightly wet mix.

Layer the bottom of a baking pan with lightly crushed tortilla chips. Spoon half of the mix into the pan, sprinkle the top with cheese, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Put the remaining mix into a heavy-duty freezer bag and freeze up to three months. Place it in the fridge two days before you want to cook it, then follow the directions from the above paragraph.

Note: I use the HEB brand Chipotle diced tomatoes, which give a great smoky flavor without adding too much ‘heat.’ My kids can eat it, but if you're real sensitive to heat, just pour a little of the liquid down the drain before you add the tomatoes. Also, I don’t to add any additional seasoning when I use those tomatoes … which I love!

Friday, March 9


Forgot to add that Amy's post from today was really good. You should check is out. I enjoyed it.

Still tired.

I really am. I don't know what's up with me. Maybe its an iron thing. I dunno.

I'm about to hop in the shower, after playing on eBay and buying a cute new stamp. :) Yay cute stamps! Dad and Mrs Akins (his neighbor across the street- the sweetest lady you'll ever meet, she's lived there since we moved 23 years ago) came over for lunch today, and we had a really nice time. The kids were excited to see their Grandpa. I made Mexican Rice Casserole this evening, which is awesome; I'll post the recipe tomorrow.

That's all for now. I need to get to bed before I fall over.

Thursday, March 8


I am super tired! We're taking a break from school right now, and I'm about to fall asleep!

A note on our schedule: We do our Bible reading over breakfast at 8, then clean up the kitchen. The kids have free time from whenever the kitchen is done until 9:30. We have math or science from 9:30-10, then I feed David. Depending on the weather, I either read outloud to the kids while I nurse, or I kick them out of the house. From 10:30-12, we play, do chores, put clothes on the line (or put away the ones that are there), and plan what's for supper. Then we have lunch from 12-12:30, and David goes down after that. Sam and Evie help me clean up the kitchen, then we do school (learning to read) for one lesson, however long that takes. Usually 20-ish minutes, although it can be longer if either of the kids is extra crabby. :) Not that that ever happens around here ... Then I feed David at 1:30, and everyone goes down for a nap from 2:30-4:30. We usually do another reading lesson before David gets up at 5, then I start supper at 5:30. So that's our day. This is our general schedule, but we rarely stick to everything on it everyday. Life happens.

So back to the part where I'M ABOUT TO FALL ASLEEP!! I don't know why I'm so tired right now, but I am going to completely pass out when the kids go down.

Oh, look, I rambled to keep myself awake long enough to feed the baby. Yay!

A new To Your Health coming on Friday or Saturday.

Banana Nut Bread

Just for my wonderful Candi!! This is a recipe from my grandmother that, as usual, I have modified and made healthier. This is a fav breakfast bread around here. It slices much easier when it is cold, out of the fridge, and freezes wonderfully. I always make mini loaves or muffins, because the smaller things bake more evenly.

Banana Nut Bread
by Brea!

2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 c butter
1/4 c olive oil or canola oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3-4 very ripe bananas
1 c chopped nuts
1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Cream bananas, butter, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients, then fold in nuts (I like walnuts or pecans!).

Pour into greased mini-loaf or muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until brown on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 7

Oh, to follow my own advice ...

Sometimes, I find myself talking with different friends about kids. Ha! Sometimes ... like I have other things to talk about. Nope, just kids. That's about it ... but I digress ... Anyway, I was talking to a friend the other day; she has been having trouble with her almost-five-year-old and nutrition. (Who doesn't have trouble with their kids and nutrition from time to time? It seems to be a 'seasons of life' kind of thing!) She was asking me for some advice, and being the shrinking violet that I am, I had no problem telling her what I thought. I got off the phone and thought, 'Wow, that was great advice I just gave. I should try that sometime ...'

Don't we all do that? We have these great ideas of how things are supposed to work, and we can tell others exactly how we want to do something, or how they should do something, but we often neglect to heed our own words. Oy! This is one thing I need to work on, in a big way. :)

In other news: I have decided to quit using my dryer. I have a clothesline that I am mostly pretty good about using, but my goal is to not use my dryer for the next 6 months unless we have more than three days in a row of rain. Lord, please let us have more than three days in a row of rain!! Sorry, again with the digression ...

Hannah came over this morning, and we went and had coffee at the Green Chai Cafe. (Come visit me, and I'll take you there! This place is great.) I had a lovely time with her! She is such a doll, and when I talk to her, I am always reminded of one of my favorite verses, Proverbs 16:24, 'Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.' She always has kind and pleasant things to say. It's nice to have a female friend, who is near my age, who lives within 2 hours of me!

Tonight is one of our meatless nights, so I'm doing pasta (whole wheat, of course!) with tomato sauce, romaine and Swiss Chard salad, and steamed veggies. Aaannnnnnd ice cream for dessert. Mmmm. :)

More later of how my attitude changes have been affecting my life in my home ...

Tuesday, March 6

thoughts about husbands and attitude ...

Man! I cannot dscribe the relief I am feeling today!!! Sam slept through the night for the first time last night since his surgery. I was beginning to think I had another newborn in the house. John came home last night with a raging headache, and stayed on the couch from the minute he changed clothes, until I woke him up at 11 to go to bed. My poor baby! He's much better today, after getting 12 (much needed!) hours of sleep. He left for work around 10, and should be back tonight around 11, because his Dale Carnige class is this evening, in Austin.

Working around John's schedule can really be a challenge sometimes. On the days he opens, he leaves at 7:10 and usually gets home between 6 and 7:30, depending on the kind of day he had. On the days he closes, he leaves here around 3:40, and gets home between midnight and 2, depending on what day of the week it is. Then we try to let him sleep in the next morning, until 9 or so. I know he feels bad on the days that he gets home so late from an open shift, because we always wait for him to get home before we eat supper (we rarely sit down to eat before 7 around here). I don't mind, though. I'm always so happy to see him when he gets home, no matter what time it is!

He also doesn't ever know when it's going to be an early evening or a late evening. There have been times when he's called to let me know he's getting out early (at 5:30!), and I don't hear from him again until 7:30, when he's in the car and calling me on his cell. Things come up ... 'it is what it is' is a favorite phrase around here. A friend of mine asked me a while ago why I don't get upset, because it makes it so hard to plan anything, even something as simple as supper. Here's my answer to that: My reaction isn't going to make any difference as to the time John gets home!! Which is going to bless him more? A) getting home late after a long, hard, stressful day at work and being greeted at the door with a smile, a hug, and a kiss, or B) getting home late after a long, hard, stressful day at work and being greeted at the door with angry glances, a sullen attitude, and guilt being placed on him? Which example is going to set a better example for my children as to how marriage should work? If we had a guest staying with us (my mom, a friend, the pastor's wife, God, or a neighbor) who was there to to watch my reaction, would that change the way I react?

Or how about this question: Let's pretend that John was able to avoid doing some of the things at the end of his shift, give some of his responsibilities to someone else, and rush home. Would I want him to do that? Do I want my husband, the man I am Biblically commanded to respect, reverence, and obey, to be afraid of my attitude, to be afraid of what is waiting behind the door for him when he gets home? May God strike me down first!!

Blessing our husbands can happen in so many different ways. I have a friend whose husband wouldn't notice if she didn't mop her floors for 6 months, but likes the bed to be made every morning. I have another friend whose husband doesn't notice what is for supper every night, but who really likes to have a big breakfast on Saturday mornings. Another husband doesn't care what the house looks like, but hates too much loud noise when he comes home from work because of his very hectic job. John couldn't care less about noise, but loves to come home to an orderly house. And he likes good quality coffee. So each morning, I get up before him to make a great cup of coffee that he can take to work. Each afternoon around 4, I try to start straightening up the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen; take the clothes off the clothesline and put them away; and sweep the floors. Around 5:30, I light a few candles or put something yummy-smelling on the back of the stove to simmer so things will smell nice when John walks in the door. Now, this is a best-case senario situation. I have crazy days where the house falls down around my ears and it looks like a bomb went off by the time John gets home. But I now it's important to him, so it has become important to me.

What are 2 things you can do this week to bless your husband, things you don't normally do that would delight him?

Friday, March 2


Could I be more sore? I don't think so ...

I didn't get much done yesterday morning, just a load of laundry, and I cleaned the kitchen. The kids and I had lunch outside on the deck, and then I made up for my lack of motivation yesterday morning. I tilled the entire garden (and the extension) by hand; planted spinach, Kentucky climbing green beans, spinach, and garlic; tilled and then extended my herb bed (which is in the driest part of our yard-it was like digging rocks!!); transplanted peppermint and planted basil; transplanted spearmint; then after watering everything and getting the garden prepped for tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and peppers (being planted today), I came inside, cleaned up so everything look decent when John got home, and started supper.

Seriously! I am very tired! But I feel so good. I don't think there's any better feeling than being really sore after a good, hard day of working outside with your hands. And I managed to get sunburned, too. Oy! The kids helped me with all the garden stuff, and got to spread the seeds for the spinach, beans, and basil. We had a blast. Luckily, they weren't in the sun as much as I was, so they didn't get burned.

I just finished reading Marriage to a Difficult Man, the book with the world's most misleading title. It's about Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards (the preacher in colonial New England who started the First Great Awakening ... truly an amazing man!). This book has blown me away. I highly reccomend that everyone get it, NOW, and read it. This family had 11 children, Jonathan was frequently gone for long periods, and still Sarah was known throughout New England as a wonderful wife, housekeeper, and host. I have been evaluating my job lately, and some of the things I do, and the way I act, and this book has served to confirm some of the area I need to work on, and some of the opportunities I have to serve the Lord that I'm not doing so well in! It has also opened my eyes to ways I can bless John.

However, the biggest thing I have taken away for this book is the legacy that Sarah Edwards left! Her example to her children, the way she treated and acted towards her husband, and her relationship with God was stunning, and the effects of that, are still being felt today in her descendants. A study done in 1905 tracked 1400 of the Edwards' descendants and the things they had done to that point, and I was just floored. Get this book.

And on that note, I'm off to do a little bit of school, the clean upstairs, feed the baby, and go out and buy my tomato and pepper plants. Hope everyone's day is very blessed!!