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Friday, May 30, 2008

Birthday Countdown Banner

So I found this site that let me make a countdown banner. I chose my birthday since it's getting close. I guess if I ever want to make another banner, I must destroy this one or something, the site warned me to make only one or I could be blocked from their site! Not good for us not so savvy blog people who are barely figuring out the cool stuff we can put on our blogs! I'll let you know if I goof up and get banished!

Charlie Brown

In case I haven't mentioned it before, my son reminds me of Charlie Brown. Not necessarily in everyday life (although that's true sometimes), but most definitely in baseball. Take for instance today, I had taken Ian in for homeschool baseball. It was cold and I'm a wimp so I was sitting in my van watching and talking on my cellphone to my mom at the same time. I noticed that Ian was in the outfield in what most likely should have been the shortstop position. He was the shortest shortstop I ever saw, he was sitting down. Not only was he sitting down, from time to time he was flapping his arms. I'm not sure Charlie Brown would have flapped his arms.
Like Charlie Brown, Ian's hat always seems a bit big and hard to see out from under, his baseball "uniform is a bit baggy and nothing seems to go quite right. Just like Charlie, Ian keeps trying and has a good time when he's out there playing the game. I guess it's a good thing that I always liked Charlie Brown, now I've got one in my house!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pizza Queen

It's official, I'm the pizza queen around here. Yesterday I made homemade pizza for dinner. I usually make beef and onion because it's quick and easy and it tastes good. Plus, I don't have to buy a bunch of extra ingredients. I do buy the beef topping like they use in the restaurants. I find that at the restaurant supply store for about $16. It's a huge bag and can last our family at least a year.
I don't use ground beef because as a kid, my mom would make homemade pizza with ground beef and it always tasted funny. It didn't taste anything like the restaurant pizzas. In our old town there was a pizza restaurant that used ground beef and just like my mom's, it tasted a little different.
So last night I was making my pizzas and I had been planning to make my sauce from scratch, but I was tired and thought I'd do what I normally do, open and use spaghetti sauce. However,the night before that I had made a huge batch of spaghetti sauce with ground beef for my Bunco group. I just couldn't bring myself to open another can of spaghetti sauce. So I used the spaghetti sauce with ground beef that had cooked in the crockpot for an evening. I added my restaurant beef and chopped onion and decided it would either be great or it would be terrible. It was great!! I ended up calling it double beef and onion pizza.
So why did ground beef taste good on my pizza and not the other ones I had tried? I have decided that the secret must be the sauce.
The pizza was better than the pizza we can get in our little town and I think it tasted better than Pizza Hut! Here's the recipe for the pizza dough that I use. It's for the bread machine and it's yummy and easy to make. I got it from Enjoy!

Wait Family Pizza Dough (Bread Machine)
SERVES 6 , 2 pizzas

RECIPE BY: godsjoyfulkid

This is a fabulous recipe I got from my in-laws...DH and I contend that it's the best pizza dough we've ever tasted! We've also had friends agree - everyone who tries it loves it! preparation time includes time in machine *uncooked dough does not freeze well, but cooked pizza/calzone do!*


* 1 1/3 cups water
* 6 tablespoons margarine, sliced
* 1 egg
* 3 cups bread flour
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

1. DOUGH: Add first 8 ingredients to bread maker in order listed, (or however your machine says)select dough cycle.
2. At end of dough cycle, once dough has risen, dump dough onto floured board, knead, divide into 2 equal parts and let rest 10 minutes.
3. Spread dough on each of two greased pizza pans.
4. *This dough also makes excellent calzone, and also great cinnamon rolls -- or so they say!
6. Add pizza sauce, toppings of your choice, and cheeses.
7.Bake in preheated 400 F oven 15-20 minutes (rotate pans about halfway through cooking).
8. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Isn't it interesting who God places in our lives simply by putting them right next door to us? I've had interesting neighbors throughout my life. I think the first neighbors I really took note of were when I was six. We had just moved in and I found myself living next door to a couple of teenage girls and a twelve year old boy. I had a crush on him! There was also a family with two girls a little younger than me next door and the family on the corner had a little girl named Rachel (she had a brother, too, but I don't remember much about him). I do remember that in the summer their mom would send them outside in the morning and they weren't allowed back in the house until late afternoon or dinner time. That girl was hungry for love, actually, she was hungry, period.
I've had neighbors who were not to be trusted and did mean snotty things. I've had neighbors who were Catholic priests. Talk about interesting! We lived next door to their parsonage through three different priests. The first one was flashy (I know, not what you think of when you think Catholic priests, but it's true) he had fast cars and boats and women coming and going. God used this neighbor to show me that actions speak louder than words.
Then we had Father Joe. He was my favorite. Down to earth, kind, friendly, a joy to have as a neighbor. His family had the most money of any of the priests we lived next door to, but he never acted like it (his family owned a sporting goods production company). He liked to garden, too. God used Joe to show me that humility is an attractive characteristic. When you are humble you don't have to try to be better than everyone else, you're just who you are and God can use you.
The third priest was very snooty and was there for any and all prestige he could gather. Not really a fun neighbor. God used him to teach me that people will see your true motivation for your acts. If you just care about yourself and no one else, it will show.
Then I had a really old guy (late 80's- 90) named Frank that we lived next door to. He was very cranky. Everything was always wrong. I helped clean his house for a while and even washed his bedding for him, but he always complained that I used to much laundry soap. God used Frank to teach me to watch my thoughts and attitude. If you are always complaining and cranky, it sticks. You won't become a joyful older person, you'll still be the cranky person that you've been for years. I don't want to be a cranky old person. Bossy, maybe but not cranky!
After I got married and then later moved to an apartment, we had some scary characters for neighbors. We had people who would drink, do drugs, blare their music and had no consideration for other people. My stress level in this situation was huge! God taught me a lot about relying on Him for strength, protection, and for peace. He also taught me to listen when the Holy Spirit prompts me to do something. I remember one night the neighbor was blaring their music just horribly. Colin had asked them to turn it down, but it didn't help. I was in the kitchen making lo mein and I thought my head would split. The noise was awful. I was praying for God's help and I kept hearing the words "Invite them to dinner" in my head. I thought it was me and that it was some crazy idea of mine, but it wouldn't go away. Finally, I told Colin, "Go invite them to dinner. At least then it might stop." He invited them, but they had just fixed their dinner and declined our invitation. Almost immediately the music stopped and then I realized, it hadn't been my idea at all. I had been resisting the voice of the Holy Spirit. I just cried when I realized that.
So that brings us to the neighbors we have today. We have a couple who are in their 80's and their daughter who is probably 55. They adore Ian and for the most part we enjoy having them for neighbors. There's only one tiny glitch. We found out from the neighbors across the street that our neighbor and the man who used to own our house used to have a sort of feud going over the lawn. It seems our neighbor thought the previous owner didn't mow his lawn often enough, so he would mow a strip of grass on what is now our property. The previous owner would get mad and they'd kind of get into it. Two retired old coots with too much time on their hands. Fast forward to last summer. Colin gets home close to seven every evening and doesn't like to mow when the grass is too wet. He also doesn't like to mow it too short as that tends to kill the grass. So of course, the neighbor has been mowing a strip of grass on our property (either on the side or sometimes in the front)and it burns me up! I can't stand it! I'm also not going to go argue with an 81 yr. old man. He knows what he's doing and he's probably doing it on purpose. We'd like to put up a fence, but that's a little too expensive right now, so I've come up with a creative solution. The area where our neighbor likes to mow a strip of grass most often has now become my garden. So far I've planted eight tomato plants, some green beans, carrots and cucumber plants. Do you know what my neighbor did? He admired our garden and told us to watch out for his wife, she loves tomatoes! So what has God taught me from these neighbors? Think creatively, there are ways to resolve things without arguing and even people that you like can do things that annoy you to bits! Oh, by the way, the neighbor has started leaving toy trucks on our property for Ian to find. I found one beside our grill just the other day! So our neighbor's not too bad, he just has too much time on his hands! They also looked out for us when we were in Hawaii and we'd had that terrible storm. They even called us in Hawaii to tell us everything was ok. He's a great neighbor when he isn't around a lawn mower!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Secret Agent Man??

Well today we were at church waiting for kids to arrive for Children's Church. We were teaching the class today, filling in since the teacher for this week was on a trip. Ian had his Build-A-Bear frog, Sparky Pickles and so I started playing with the frog. I stood him up and started singing "Secret Agent Man", but instead of saying man I said frog. Secret Agent Frog, secret agent frog, they've given you a number and taken away your name. I was being silly and Ian thought it was hilarious. Colin, not so much. He was trying to get Ian to sit quietly for a couple of minutes. I really wasn't helping.
Colin started giving me funny looks while I was singing the song. He asked me what I was singing. I told him "Secret Agent man", it's from the 60's. He'd never heard of it. Then he said "Secret Asian Man?" I cracked up. Secret Asian Man? Are you kidding me? He wasn't. I had to explain secret know spies. He got it then, but I'm still loving what he thought I was singing. Secret Asian Man!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Being a member of Costco

Well, if you think this post is going to have much to do with Costco, I'm afraid I have misled you. I just had to share something funny that Ian just said to me. We're having a delightful lunch of macaroni and cheese (organic) and I told Ian that I loved him. He told me that he loved me, too. Then he said this "You're special to me....and you're a member of Costco!"
I'm really not sure what exactly those two have to do with each other, but I'm certain that it makes sense in his 7 yr. old mind. So I guess, if you want to be special, you need to be a member of Costco!
******Note: For anyone who doesn't know what Costco is (I'm sure everyone knows, right?) it's a warehouse store, like Sam's Club.*************

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Looking for Great Deals

Well Colin told me I've been lax in my blog writing lately. It's been a busy week. A field trip on Monday. Tuesday I recuperated from the field trip and worked on straightening the house and took Ian to baseball practice. Wednesday was AWANA. Ian finished his book!!! His second book (which is basically like his third book because he has to do the first book twice). This one was pretty hard, so I added a little incentive to keep him moving. I told him that because this book was hard work, that if he kept at it with a good attitude and finished the book I would buy him a $5 Lego set. Last week I told him if he worked hard and finished a week early, I'd bump up the price to a $10 Lego set. He finished a week early, so on Friday we planned to go Lego shopping (but I'm starting to get ahead of myself, let me tell you about Thursday).
Thursday I cooked and cleaned all day as we were having company over for dinner. We had invited our Pastor and his wife over for dinner. So I made homemade French bread. I decided to make it in the bread machine to allow myself to multi-task. So while the bread was getting going in the bread machine, I started making the German chocolate cake for our dessert. I had just started making the cake when I smelled smoke. I turned around and saw some smoke coming out of my bread machine. I thought 'oh, no! That's what I get for trying to make a regular recipe in a bread machine.'
I thought maybe the ratios were wrong for the bread machine. I tried to push stop, but that didn't work, so I unplugged it and pulled out the bread pan to see why it was smoking. I guess there was a little flour on the heating element, so I dusted that off, put the bread pan back in and selected French bread this time instead of dough and it worked fine. It turned out to be the best French bread I've ever tasted and that's not me bragging, it's a great recipe!
I made Baked Spaghetti for our main course and since I was running behind, Colin picked up salad at the store for me.
We had a great time! Dinner was good, the conversation was good, although I had a hard time getting a word in between Colin and Ian! Ian must have been trying to show off because he talked in a ridiculous goofy voice most of the evening.
We played Farkle and I won. I didn't try to, but it's one of those games that you never know who's going to win until they do!
Friday was homeschool baseball for Ian. I am so thankful for that class. I almost didn't sign him up, but I don't think his baseball skills would be improving at all if we hadn't put him in that class, even though he's in Little League here in our town. Something about the way they teach homeschool baseball really clicks for Ian. After baseball and a little visiting with Ian's grandma we headed over to Costco to turn over our entire, I mean we gassed up the van. Ian and I shared lunch at Panda Express. Yum yum! Then, it was time to Lego shop, so we headed to ShopKo. Ian tried to tell me that they didn't have a very good selection of Legos compared to Toys R US, but I knew better. ShopKo is where most of his Christmas and birthday Legos came from! He agreed with me after he saw the Lego aisle there. He wanted all the Lego sets, but he finally decided on a set that is Indiana Jones. Not that he's ever seen the movies, he's got a few years to go before he's old enough for that, but Colin has the same set and Ian has been very envious of it for a while!
Friday was also grocery shopping day. I haven't figured up how much I saved, although I did get my cereal for .14 cents a box at Target. Can't beat that!
Saturday, Ian had a ballgame. It was kind of cold, so I took blankets.
Today is Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day! We celebrated with Colin's grandma and his parents and other relatives. It was a beautiful afternoon/evening. The kids played outside and had lots of fun! After we left Grandma Betty's we went over to Albertson's to get a good deal on cereal. They had been out of the cereal on Friday. The deal was 10 boxes for $20, but if you bought 10 boxes you got $10 back, making them $1 a box and then I had coupons, too. So I bought 8 boxes of cereal and 2 boxes of granola bars (they were in the deal, too) for under $5. Not bad, eh? I paid fifty cents or less (probably a little less) per box. Now that's a deal!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Field Trip

Yesterday we went on a field trip. We rode the train from Olympia, WA to Portland, OR. Then we rode a bus a few blocks and then got on the MAX which is a light rail (sort of like an above ground subway). We rode the MAX to the Oregon Zoo. We had lunch at the zoo and then we rode a train around the zoo. It was a nice zoo. We didn't make it to all the exhibits and some of them were closed, but we had a good time. It was such a pretty day (probably 70 or 75 degrees) that a lot of the animals were out playing. We saw so many animals! I took lots of pictures (okay, 271 pictures) although a lot of them were just of Colin or Ian. We saw tigers, lorikeets, meerkats, zebras, hippos, elephants, penguins, naked mole rats (boy, those aren't attractive at all), elk, gazelles, sun bears (I got a cute picture of those). Just lots and lots of animals. Right now Ian is playing with his baby emperor penguin that he bought in the gift shop. He named it Mingkin or Mincoln, depending on how we decide to spell it. Basically, it's like Lincoln, but with a 'm'. Ian named him, but he keeps forgetting what he named him. So he keeps asking me 'what is the baby penguins name again?'
Hopefully, I'll have some good pictures to put on here soon!

Saying Goodbye

We had a memorial service for Grandpa George on Saturday. It was nice. Colin's Great Uncle Sandy shared some thoughts about Grandpa George and so did Uncle Dave. It was at the Episcopal church, so it was very different from what I'm used to. I would say it was probably a very traditional service. A lot of prayers and response reading and songs. I kept waiting for someone to get on the piano and start playing the songs that Grandpa loved, but it didn't happen.
There was communion in the service and that led to a little humor. Communion as in bread (communion wafers) and wine (not grape juice, like the Baptists). We went up because we wanted to honor Grandma Betty. So all three of us went up. Ian included. We knelt on cushions and they brought the wafers around. So far so good, even if they were flavorless. Then came the wine. I could smell it before it got to me and it smelled very vinegary, so I took the tiniest sip I could. I think Ian took a bigger sip than I did. After his sip he turned to look at me and whispered, "That wasn't very tasty!" I almost lost it laughing up there on the altar in front of everyone! We went back to our seats and sat down. Other people were taking communion, so we watched. Ian's cousin Luke, who is 3 months older than Ian and a picky eater took communion. After he tasted the wine he turned around to face everyone (he was going off the altar ) and made a horrible face and started wiping off his tongue! I laughed so much!
The service concluded shortly after that and we went to a reception at the church and then over to Grandma Betty's house.
By the time we got home, we were exhausted. Even though it was 6:00, I took a nap. It's not easy saying goodbye.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Time to Mourn

There are seasons in our lives. We have stepped into a new season where we are mourning the loss of Colin's grandpa. I think Ecclesiastes says it best:
Ecclesiastes 3
Everything Has Its Time
1 To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
Colin's grandpa passed away yesterday afternoon around 2:00. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Much of the family gathered at Grandma Betty and Grandpa George's home. He was still there in his bed, so we were all able to say good-bye.
Ian saw him and told me 'he's not in there anymore. He can't hurt anymore, his feelings aren't in there.' Much can be said about the wisdom of a child.
We all stayed for hours, talking and sharing memories. Crying and laughing as we remembered the life of this dear man.
I think Colin might have been the most broken up over the passing of his grandpa (well, at least visibly). Colin has always been so proud of his grandpa. He loved to tell people about his grandpa. He would ask people if they knew his grandpa and tell them all the wonderful things he had done. I'll share a few of those things with you. I'm sure I'll miss some, I only knew him for 8 1/2 yrs, but I'll give you some highlights.
Colin's Grandpa George was born in 1916. He married Grandma Betty when he was 26 and she was 22. So I believe it was 1942. They were married in Washington, DC. They were married almost 66 yrs. George was in WWII and was an engineer who helped build bridges. When he returned from the war he had a business excavating.
He and Betty raised 7 children. He had a recording "studio" and he recorded a record for the Fleetwoods(among others, that was just his most famous). He could play the piano. Boy, could he play the piano! He loved it. Even when he had slowed down and walking across the room was a labor to him, his hands would dance across the ivory keys.
He was County Commissioner in Thurston County( this was many years before I met him). When I met him he was 83 and he was selling real estate and driving around. He was so proud of his family! He loved all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved it when they would visit.
We will miss Grandpa George. We are thankful for the legacy he has left us. A legacy of music and family and joy. We will weep. We will laugh. We will celebrate his life.