Sunday, November 30

goosebumps and a gun, part one

Ok, so last post I alluded to some Nazi paraphernalia. Here's my story.

My husband and I love history. He's into WWII, Winston Churchill, and the Founding Fathers. I like the Civil War, the months and years leading up to the Revolutionary War, and WWII. He likes to read about the events and the military leaders, and I like to know about the events leading up to the events. We both like Greek history. It makes for some fun conversations, like the time we spent two hours discussing the role of airplanes in combat, how it changed from primarily observation to one of the more important aspects of warfare. Light conversations like that ...

Anyway. We both have a very strong military presence is our families. John's father was a captain in the Army and tank commander in Vietnam, and his paternal grandfather was in the Army Air Corps in WWII. My maternal grandmother was an Army brat; her father served in WWI, and her older brother was a pilot in WWII (he was shot down over Italy, and MIA for several months. He made is back to safety eventually. I don't know how. I need to learn the details of that story ... but I digress). My maternal grandfather was a pilot in the Air Force during the Korean War. He flew atomic materials. That used to be classified, and he had Top Secret clearance. But it's been declassified since then, so don't worry. You won't get busted for reading this. :)

And now we come to my paternal grandfather. He was a combat engineer in the infantry in the Army in WWII. That means that he was one of the guys responsible for all the construction stuff. Need to get a bunch of heavy stuff over a river? Call the combat engineers, they'll get you a bridge built. Need a landing strip where airplanes don't normally land? They've got it covered. He served (in this order, I think) in England, France, Belgium, North Africa, and Germany.

{Cool side note: he was on a ship, headed for the Pacific theater, after he left Germany. The ship was passing Gibraltar when the captain came over the loudspeaker: Lads, Japan has just formally surrendered. We will be altering our course at this time. Our new destination is New Your City. You can imagine how excited everyone on board was ... especially considering how things had been going in the Pacific!}

When he was in Germany, things were pretty much done there. At one point, he on security detail for a visiting VIP. He and the other men with him were given the task of clearing out an area: making sure there were no bad guys or land mines or guns or knives or boogey monsters or falling tree limbs or Mad Cow-laced beef. (I totally made those last few up, in case you were wondering.) And while he was on that detail, he found something that he kept and had shipped back home ...

And I'll tell you tomorrow what it was, and how it ended up at my house last weekend ...

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Wednesday, November 26

kids and closets, and thanks

I've painted myself into quite a corner. My MIL has the older two kids right now. (WOOHOO!!!) I met her in Hempstead on Monday at lunch time to drop them off, and they'll be with her until Thursday, when she's coming out to my mom's for Thanksgiving, obviously bringing Sam and Evie with her.

I had all kinds of lovely things planned for myself when the older two were gone. Playing with David. Watching Friends educational documentaries. Watching House and Bones more educational documentaries. Weeding my gardens. Going over to Kristie's, letting David play while we make toffee and drink coffee and talk a lot. Get lots of work done for Glimpse and XanGo. Reading some books. Hang out with my awesome and cute and funny and sarcastic husband. Have a beer.

And clean out my closet. It's bad, people. It's really, really bad.

So yesterday I started cleaning out my closet, looking forward to getting everything sorted, folded, and put away so I could go over to Kristie's today and drink coffee. I love coffee. Anywho, I started cleaning. And sorting. And folding. And decided to take out the bottom shelf in my built-in in the closet.

{I'm going to have to digress here for a second. THE CLOSETS IN THE MASTER BEDROOM ARE VERY, VERY STUPID IN THIS HOUSE. The built-ins are on the wrong sides of the closet, the doors are angled so it's really difficult to get in, they're skinny and long and, well, stupid. They've been on my to-do list for a long time now: to get in there, tear everything out, paint, and start all over. With a design that isn't stupid.}

Now you know. So I grabbed my hammer. I started taking out the shelf. I realized I also needed the drill, so I ran to get that one, too. This whole time, John had been upstairs with David playing trains, David's latest obsession. John eventually got a little worried about all the banging and drilling and ran downstairs to check on me. He tried to walk into the bathroom (but couldn't because of the mountain of clothes and shoes blocking his path), and settled for talking to me from the door. He had a slightly frightened look in his eyes.

'Um, honey, whatcha doing?'

'John, aren't you glad you didn't marry a girl who's afraid to use a hammer or power tools?'

'Right now I'm a little afraid of you. What are you up to?'

'John, you don't need to be afraid of me. My daddy taught me well. I know what I'm doing.'

'Which is what, exactly?'

'I'm just taking a shelf out of the closet so I can move these storage containers out of my way and have more room for my shoes.'

'About that. Why do you have so many pair of shoes? You only wear 3 pair. Ever.'

'John, a lady has to keep her options open. And shut up. You will not mock my shoes!'

At this point, John worked his way over to my closet and checked what I was doing. He was impressed, because I was doing it the right way and not tearing anything else apart. (Seriously. I love power tools, and I know how to use them correctly. Thanks, Dad!) But then he pulled a John. He started saying things like, 'Oh, we could move the clothes bar over here' and 'We could pull this whole thing out and get new shelving and it'd be much better organized' and 'blah, blah, blah.' I should have known better than to listen to him, and start a mini-remodel project less than two days before Thanksgiving, but nooooo. He conned me with his sweet talk of easy organization, and I fell for it.

Peeps, my bathroom looks like something exploded. And it doesn't even have clothes in it anymore!!! I completely pulled out the built-in. The hanging bars. All the random hardware. I've sanded and patched and sanded and inhaled about three pounds of sheet rock in dust form. I have to very quickly paint today so hubs can put in the new shelves and bars. I'm assuming it'll require at least two trips to Home Depot, if not three or four.

And yes, I'll be very happy about it in the long run, because this is something I've been begging John to help me with since we moved to this house three years ago. But all I wanted to do was play trains with David and drink coffee with Kristie and maybe weed in the garden a little.

On that note, I'd like to tell you a few things for which I'm thankful, before I have to start sanding and painting and hammering things again:

*A husband who helps me and supports me in crazy projects.
*A dad who saw far enough passed the blond curls to teach me how to use a hammer when I was 5.
*My mom, who is hosting what will be a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.
*My MIL, for giving me a few few days off so I can get my partner-in-crime to help me destroy things while David watches from the doorway saying, 'BOOM!' a lot.
*This amazing country I live in. It may not be perfect, but I love it, and can't think of any place better to live.
*My husband's job, which doesn't take him out of town, on the road, under heavy moving equipment, into burning buildings, out to the Bering Sea, or into the line of fire. (I'll talk more about this in a few months.)
*My wonderful extended family of friends, including but not limited to: Sarah, Kristie, Margaret, Jessica at Farm Fresh (I really hope I can meet you one day IRL, girl!), Tana, my awesome book club ladies, and all the lovely women at my church.
*Some really brave Europeans generations back, being persecuted for their beliefs, who had the courage to get on those ships and head towards New England. And for all those who kept coming over, even after reports of those first few winters mads in back across the Atlantic.
*A personal Savior that I can truly call Brother and Friend.

Big hugs and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!!!!!!!!

ps-have you ever had something stamped with the Nazi Eagle in your hand? I've got a cool story for you on Friday ...

Tuesday, November 25

Conversations with Sarah

"Brea, I'm going to hack into your blog and post something for you."

"I know, you said that in your comment. I humbly apologize for the lack of posts, and I will indeed strive to remedy the situation and prevent it from occurring in the future."

"I'm not kidding, Brea."

"I believe you."

"So you'll post something soon?"

"Anything for you, dearest Sarah with pretty hair, high above all other best friends."

"Ok. Hey, it's like 14 degrees here. And rainy."

"Dude, I told you not to leave Texas. It's going to be in the high 60's today, and we're supposed to get to 80 on Thanksgiving."

"Shut up, Brea."

"Ok, Sarah."

Friday, November 14

I loves me some Glenn Beck

I really do. I wish I had a chance to catch his radio show every day. I found this archive called 'Big Bad WalMart' over at Amy's Humble Musings. My favorite paragraph is this one:

But the thing I regret on this program is as I delivered these messages, as I say, "Hey, tough times are coming," all the people here for some reason is, "It's the apocalypse; Jesus is coming; run for your lives; the entire country's going to burn to the ground." I don't believe any of that -- well, I do believe Jesus is coming and the "Run for your life" part, but I don't believe that the country's going to burn to the ground. I think we're going to have tough times. But I mean, let's look at the toughest times in American history. The Civil War. Yes, did cities burn to the ground? Yep. Did commerce still happen? Did people still have families? Did people still have food and homes? Did they struggle? Yes. Did they die? Yes. But did we survive? Yes. And that's -- when I say dark, dark times are coming, look at the worst time in American history, the Civil War. That was a dark time. But life still went on. And so when I say look out, here comes the economy, something that we've never faced before, you are still going to have to go out and buy stuff. You are just going to have to be careful to get your money's worth. Things are still going to happen.

Go over and read the whole thing. It's worth the time, even though it's a little long.

And on that note, have a lovely weekend everyone! I'll be back Monday (if not sooner) with a yummy new cold weather appropriate recipe. Mmmmm ... :)

Tuesday, November 11

Holly Rules!

Please check out the latest developments at my fellow Texan's house, aka June Cleaver Nirvana.

Holly, don't tell my husband, but I think I love you. And my boys would love you, too. And I love that you would love my boys and totally get it.


Monday, November 10


Cold weather is kind of here. Maybe it's already here for you. So have some friends over, and eat around the fire with a nice cold beer. What will you feed them? Make this now. Thank me later.

by Brea

3 dried ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
2 T dried oregano
2 T sweet paprika
2 T whole coriander
1 T cumin seed
2T chili powder
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1 lb ground venison*
1 lb ground beef*
3 c cooked pinto beans
salt and pepper
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 canned chipotle pepper, diced (or 2 T chipotle puree)
1/2 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and minced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 yellow, red, orange, or white bell pepper, diced
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 whole cinnamon sticks (break in half)
1 t sugar
2 T masa harina
Fritos, grated cheese, lime wedges, cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a small dry skillet over low heat add the ancho peppers, oregano, paprika, coriander, cumin, and chili powder. Cook until they begin to smell, about two minutes. Put the spices in a spice mill or food grinder and grind until they are powdered. Set aside.

In a heave bottomed pot over medium heat, add the oil, onions, garlic, meat, and peppers. Cook until the meat has lost almost all traces of pink. Add 2-3 T of the spice mix, along with the tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, and sugar. Season with salt and stir well. Add some hot water until the meat is just covered. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook covered for 45 minutes, stirring often and adding liquid to keep everything covered.

After 45 minutes barely simmering, add the beans and mesa harina, and cook at a medium simmer for 10 more minutes, uncovered, to thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve over Fritos, with cheese, lime, and cilantro for garnish.

*You can use and combination of ground meat you'd like. I usually only use one pound, total.

Yes, I know. There are beans in my chili, and I'm from Texas. Believe me, I feel very, very ashamed. Please don't tell my family. But I'm not rich enough to be snobby; I can't afford 4 pounds of meat for one dish. And the beans really are a great addition. Just please don't tell my grandma I said that, mmmkay??

Sunday, November 9

Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas

Do you have a Paul? What about a Timothy or a Barnabas? They don't have these actual names (although it would be freakin' cool if they did!); it's the relationships I'm talking about.

The references come from the New Testament, and these people are typically not related to you, although they can be at times.

Your Paul is your mentor. Someone you can trust, someone you know will give you honest advice when you need to hear it (usually when you don't want to hear it), someone you can always go to for help. She's the one who steps in when your life isn't going so great, and maybe you can't even see it, but she can, and she's been there, and she loves you, and helps you.

Your Barnabas is your friend. Your buddy. Someone you walk with, share life with. She helps you. You help her. You cry on each others' shoulders. You laugh until milk (or red wine) comes out of your noses. You freak out and take your kids to her with a 15 minute heads-up, only because that's how long it takes to drive to her house. She shows up on your doorstep, a mess, leaves her kids with you, and goes to Starbucks for two hours. Or Mexico. And you're delighted that you could help out in some way. You hold each other accountable without malice or judgment.

Your Timothy is the person you mentor. Usually younger than you, but not always. She calls you and asks for child training tips. She has a fight with her husband (or sister, mother, daughter, son, whoever) and calls you in tears, asking how to fix it. You give her the honest advice she might now want to hear, and you do it with love. You step in and take over once in a blue moon, and you have the trust between you that you can say, 'I don't think you can see this in your life right now, but it isn't healthy, and I'm worried about you. Here's where we can start.'

I've been blessed by more than one each of the above. And I've found that sometimes, most times, the lines merge, and your Barnabas becomes your mentor for a brief time, or your Timothy is your best friends for a while.

Pace is my all-the-way-Paul. Pace is our pastor's wife, expecting baby #7 in the next few days. I wouldn't say that she and I are buddies, but we are friends. Pace is well-read, and wise, and answers my theological questions, and patiently gives me advice for dealing with Evelyn's temper, or Sam's disposition. Other than church I might not talk to her more than once or twice a month, but she is invaluable to me.

I have been blessed with several Barnabas'. Sarah and Margaret are my two BFFs from high school. They are true, dyed-in-the-wool friends. I'm the only one with kids (hey, Sarah, hurry up already!!!!), but we're all married to wonderful, godly men, and we have similar over-all goals for our lives. And we all love the Astros, even when the Astros suck. We call each other and chat, we have Girls' Night once or twice a year, we give and get advice, and we love each other unconditionally. (And Sarah just moved away, and Marg and I are sad. But we're going to visit her this spring.) I love these women like you don't even know.

Becky and Kristie are two more close friends. Each is a true Barnabas. But each has been married longer than John and I, and they both have children older than mine. Kristie's oldest is 10 (her youngest is a pinch older than David), and Becky's oldest is 14 (her youngest is a pinch younger than David). Kristie took my kids without a single second hesitation the day I started to miscarry, and was a shoulder to lean on. She helped me immensely in the months following, because she's been there before. She is occasionally a Paul, too, when it comes to marriage, and keeping my house, and teaching my children.

Becky is amazing, too. Becky is a peer, in that we have very similar personalities. We both would rather spend 4 hours in the mud with our kids than wipe down our kitchen counters, or do laundry. We have a 5-minute (ok, 20-minute) chat every morning, and ask how our goals for the previous day turned out, and share our goals for the day ahead. More than once, after I've put the kids to bed, I've thought, 'Ahh, now I can plant my butt on the couch now and curl up with that book I'm reading. Oh! Crap! I told Becky I was going to clean off all the surfaces in my bedroom today, and fold an extra load of laundry. I'd better get that done, so when I talk to her in the morning, I can tell her I did it.' It's a wonderful system. I love it.

Here's another really, really important aspect to having a Barnabas like Becky. A few weeks ago, I did something incredibly stupid, and I lied to John. And promptly got caught. It was the first time I'd ever lied to him, and I felt horrible. Worse than I've ever felt before. It was awful. (I'm not talking infidelity or anything like that, just me being stupid.) I didn't want to tell anyone about it, because I was so embarrassed, and ashamed, but I knew I needed to talk to someone and get some advice. I called Becky. Being the wonderful friend she is, she listened patiently to my tearful confession, asked me questions, and thought it over.

Then she called my a dumb ass. And told me I'm an idiot.

Properly chastened, I could do nothing more than agree with her. Because she was right, and I needed to hear it. She told me stop making excuses, buck it up, and own up to what I had done. Becky's been married twice as long as I have, and knows all about that communication stuff a husband and wife are supposed to do. Which, in this case, was me swallowing my (very stupid) pride and begging forgiveness from the single most amazing and important person in my life, my wonderful husband. We talked for quite a while.

Then she told me that this couldn't wait another night, and that this is a talk John and I needed to have without our kids running in and out of the room the whole time. And she told me that she would meet me at Chili's in 20 minutes when we went to pick up John, and take my kids to spend the night at her house.

You need a friend like this in your life. And you need to make a point to be a friend like this, too.

I don't think I have a specific Timothy at the moment. I have friends that come to me for help in certain areas, like cooking or budgeting. My friend Tana called me the other evening, and I finally heard those eight wonderful words I've been waiting my whole adult life to hear:

"Brea, will you teach me how to bake?"

Ha ha ha! I kid (mostly), but my friends do come to me for advice in areas that are my strengths, some friends more than others. And your relationships with your friends are constantly changing, and some seasons they'll be your Timothy, and some will be your Barnabas, and some will even be your Paul.

These friendships don't just happen; like all good things in life, they take work. Some people make friends faster, or more easily, than others; some people really have to put forth the effort. Me? I'm a mix. Being friends with Sarah and Becky is like breathing. It comes easily and naturally and seems like it's always been there. I've really had to work at my relationships with Kristie and Pace, but I'm incredibly grateful that each of these women is a part of my life.

So. Do you have friendships like these?

(ps-John and I are good now. No worries, we're actually better in a lot of ways than before it happened. And in case I haven't mentioned it before, communication is a good thing!!!)

Monday, November 3

Pain, and a little fun

I think I've broken my tail bone. Or at least severely bruised it. I kind of want to die right now, or maybe Jesus will come back before I have to work the elections for 14+ hours tomorrow.

Long story short, I completely ate it going down the back steps (5 of 'em, made of titanium wood), hit the side of my head, my butt, the back of one of my legs, and broke or bruised my tail bone. It ain't fun, peeps. I thought I was going to pass out walking up the stairs to put the kids to bed last night.

(Side note: This is one of those times that it really, really, really pays off to have well-trained children. Other than saying bedtime prayers and tucking everyone in, I didn't have to lift a finger last night. Did I mention that John was working? Sam got everyone ready for bed, including taking David to the bathroom, putting his diaper on, and getting him dressed, and Evelyn mostly cleaned the table and kitchen for me, while I was busy lying on the couch, praying for death. Those kids are angels!!)

So that's me. In pain. Takes me 37 minutes to roll over in bed, unless I'm asleep, and just roll over the normal fast way, but then I wake up crying and scare the husband. Yay!

And on a slightly lighter note ... Let's play the Google game!!! Here's how some people have recently found me here at Ramblings of a Busy Mom. (I might change that to Ramblings of a Clumsy Moron Who is in Quite a Bit of Pain. I'm just saying.)

brea mom's morning off
Really? I get the morning off? Great! I'm going to lay on the couch and watch TV. Sweet.

jeub family racist
I don't think they are. They seem like a lovely family. I kind of keep hoping they'll adopt me, but no such luck yet.

12 hour oven brisket, can i cook a 8 pound brisket in the oven, brisket oven then grill, and many, many other brisket searches
What? It's really freakin' good brisket.

my best mom atx out
Well, I am pretty great, and I did live in Austin (ATX) for a while, but the best? I'm flattered! Thank you!

mom star boy
Huh? If you say so.

lynsey daughter, brea
Is 'lynsey' a real word?

orange cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting
You haven't lived until you've tried it. It's awesome.

Those are some of the more mild ones I've had recently. I'll post some fun ones then next time they come up. Hope everyone has a lovely evening, and a great week. I'm going to go sit on some ice now.

And don't forget ...