Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Pictures Don't Do It Justice

Puppy Chow. That's what we first heard it called. It has other names. And it's not really for your puppy. Or your dog. Or any pet for that matter. But it is

You know what's sad. Hubby can't have any. It has peanut butter in it. He's not allergic to peanut butter. He has gout. He's had it since he was 28. Yes, young, I know. And after an extremely severe spell, a trip to a real health food store (not GNC) to get cherry juice (since we ran out), and an off-hand comment by the clerk, and we realized the culprit of many of his outbreaks. Not the usual ones...beans, shellfish, doughnuts/pastries...but peanuts.

Here's the recipe for this yummy snack (if you click on the link you will get the original recipe; I've tweaked it a little, for example I use milk chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate chips):

Chex Muddy Buddies:


9 cups Chex cereal
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation Directions:

1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2. Measure out powdered sugar and place into 2-gallon resealable food storage plastic bag. Set aside.
3. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer (if needed) or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. When I put the mixture in the microwave, I have found that if I put the chocolate chips in the bowl, dump the p.b. on top of them, and then take my 1/4 cup slab of butter and push it down in the middle of the p.b., it only takes the 1 minute.
4. Pour into 2-gallon plastic bag containing powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator (if there is any left!). I use a smaller 1-gallon plastic bag.

The minute I pour it out of the bag onto the waxed paper the vultures that have been circling quickly come in for a landing.

My kids can't get enough of this snack, and it's a fun one for them to help with. I'm lucky if there's any left after 24 hours. Do you have a fun snack too?

(Now I'm going to go ahead and make a little disclaimer here about my GNC comment, just in case anybody reading this works there or loves it or anything like that. I can only speak based on the one purchase of cherry pills I made there because I didn't want to drive the 30 minutes to the health food store in another town where I usually bought cherry juice. When Hubby had this horrible gout attack (we're talking blowing on his foot caused pain), I drove over to get cherry juice and G.O.U.T., which is something else that was helpful. For some reason I decided to compare the dosages on the cherry juice from the health food store and the cherry pills from GNC, and do you know that one dose of the cherry juice was more concentrated than the entire bottle of cherry pills? So I don't buy anything at GNC, and that's why. Not that there's anything I'd buy there anyway, except maybe cherry stuff.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Know & Tell Friday: Back-to-School Edition

In honor of kids everywhere, Heather and Reese have decided to mark this week's Know & Tell Friday with a Back-to-School Edition. I'm sure that there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth going on all over the country about now. Some kids like school, some kids love school, some kids despise school, and some don't care. But it's definitely a privilege that children, both boys and girls, get to attend school in our county. I wish they all realized that. It's not everywhere in this world that it would be happening in this day and age, and less than a century ago it wouldn't have been a given in our country, not even necessarily a likelihood.

Heather and Reese said that if we didn't have kids, to answer the questions for ourselves. Well, I have kids, but I homeschool, so some of the questions may be difficult to answer. So I may just answer the questions for both my kids and myself. We may end up with a jumbled up hodge-podge of writing with lots of digression, so prepare yourselves. Oh, sorry, you're used to that.

1. How far in advance do you start getting ready for back-to-school (whether for your own kids, or for yourself when you were in school)?

We don't do back-to-school clothes shopping, because it's simply not a necessity. I just have to get ready "school" wise. Let's just simplify things by saying I am starting next week and I don't even have everything I need yet. And what I don't have has to be ordered. The Big (Albeit Temporary) Move threw me a Big Loop. I usually start preparing when school is done from the previous school year and spread it out so I don't have to stress out right before it's time to start. Like now.

I don't remember ever doing any advance preparation for back-to-school when I was in school. I grew up way before the time when Wal-Mart dedicated a whole little cardboard bin thing for school lists. Shows my age?

2. Do you have any picky eaters who need special considerations for lunches? What does a typical bagged lunch look like in your house?

Well, no bag lunches for the obvious reasons. When we lived in Illinois and went on Fridays to co-op we would sometimes take a bagged lunch. But I honestly don't even remember what we took now. Lunch is often "if you can find it, you can eat it," but I will help out those that need it or offer to make something. I need to add my lunches to my menu planning, but then I will probably end up with kids that are unhappy with those choices and they'll end up fixing something else for themselves anyway. I might give it a try when we get moved and settled, oh, about next year sometime.

I didn't take bagged lunches very much when I was growing up, but I honestly don't know why, because I am a picky eater. In junior high I ate a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos every day with a diet soda (probably Tab) because they still let you have the machines with the junk food in them. In high school I would go through the hamburger line every day and eat a hamburger, ketchup only, every day, with fries. I'm slightly a creature of habit. Not that you hadn't maybe figured out that I might be.

3. What school supply items do you skimp on and what are you willing to shell out the big bucks for?

I skimp on notebooks and three-ring binders. I buy tons of the 10 cents, which are now 5 cents, notebooks for my three right-handers. I will spend more and buy top-ring notebooks for Chatty, my lefty. I buy the plain white D-ring binders with a drop-in front, so they can be customized. If I need a lot for a new school year and I don't have some cleaned out from previous years, I will buy a bulk package at Sam's Club.

I am more willing to shell out the big bucks for textbooks, or more specifically books. We use Tapestry of Grace, which is a literature-based curriculum, for History, Literature, Worldview, Geography, Writing (it can also be used for vocabulary, art enrichment, etc., but I haven't figured out how deep I'm going with it yet this year). We basically have to make sure we have something else for Math, Grammar/Spelling, and Science/Health, plus electives. You don't have to buy the books that are used, but some are used for more weeks than you'd be able to check them out of a library. Plus you repeat the curriculum every four years, and since I have younger boys that will use books I buy for my girls now, I'm willing to purchase. That's where my splurges are right now...books.

Showing my age once again, I don't remember having many special choices when I was growing up. If I had the 64 box of crayons with the sharpener, I was in heaven.

4. Do you get your kids up, or do they get up on their own? Any snooze-hitters that have trouble waking up? How about the opposite, any kids that are up at the crack of dawn?

My kids will usually get up on their own. I'm the snooze-hitter that has trouble waking up. Now that they're older, none of them are usually up at the crack of dawn. Of course, when they were little and required constant care and couldn't fend for themselves, that's when they were up at the crack of dawn.

5. Any cafeteria horror stories? Is school food as bad as they say?

I remember in elementary school spitting my milk right back in my carton when I realized it was soured. Then in high school there were two lunch hours. The one I wasn't in had a food fight, and my English teacher who was eight or nine months pregnant got hit in the stomach with one of the plastic trays when the lights got hit. I have no idea what school food is like now. I have no frame of reference.

6. How important is it to you to make sure your kids have the latest styles and trendiest accessories?

It's not. And I think that I would answer the same way even if they went to public school. They go to church and I don't worry about them wearing the latest styles and trendiest accessories. I just want them to be dressed modestly, but age-appropriately at the same time.

7. Remember the movie Kindergarten Cop? If Arnold Schwarzenegger was your child's new kindergarten teacher, how would you feel?

When I saw the picture, my first thought was, "I love that movie. It's one of my favorite movies." And it really is. When I saw it on a used copy sale table at a video store many years ago, I bought it. Because I loved it that much. That was before DVDs. Then I saw it on DVD in a $5 bin, probably at Wal-Mart, and snatched it up in something like two seconds. I love Arnold in that movie. The first time I saw it I just laughed and laughed.

Then I read the question. Wow. Stereotypes. If I walked in and saw a big, burly guy like that, I might be slightly worried. Okay, really worried. But I have the benefit of knowing how the movie turns out. And if he was like the character in the movie, he'd be okay in my book.

That's it for this week's questions. I know how I'm spending my weekend. Opening up boxes in the garage. Figuring out what I need to copy at the copy store. Ordering textbooks/workbooks. Pulling my hair out. Well, I'll try to be selective and just get the gray ones. PRAYING! Because that's the way any of this is really going to work out where we can actually have any semblance of order come Monday morning. Oh, and I'm not doing any of this, except the praying part, until I finish The Shack.

If you hung around this long, go check out all the KATF fun at Kickin' It In Crazyville. I'm sure everyone else is a lot more prepared than me. It may relax your nerves to read theirs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What's Up With That?

I come from the home of Wal-Mart...Arkansas. I've lived with one for as long as I can remember. There was a tiny one in the corner of a shopping center in my home town before it moved to a new location when I was in elementary school in a building by itself. It's moved two more times since then and is now a Super Wal-Mart.

When we moved to Highland, Illinois, in 2000, it was a temporary move for 10 months until we moved closer to Scott AFB (but so as not to confuse you, my husband was in the Army). They had a brown Wal-Mart. Now if you come from the land of Wal-Mart, you know that brown came way before the blue color scheme they have now. While we lived there, they even closed the brown Wal-Mart and moved to a new Super Wal-Mart. I can't help but wonder if that was the last brown Wal-Mart in existence.

Another Wal-Mart inevitability was the little green price tags they always plastered on everything. It's been a long time since I've seen those, because really, who needs them? We've had the scanners for the UPC codes for probably 20 years and they put the prices on the shelves. Plus as much as Wal-Mart has price breaks, think how often they'd have to fix their little stickers.

Well, I've moved to some parallel universe that puts prices on the shelves, has the scanners for the UPC bar codes, and USES LITTLE GREEN WAL-MART STICKERS! Do you know what this does to my OCD?

And some Wal-Marts have white stickers? Why white?

See what this looks like together in my refrigerator? Ick!

I'm one of those people that has to take the stickers off the plastic storage containers as soon as I get them home and know they are the right size. If I buy something that is glass that has a sticker on the bottom and it would show, I have to take it off. And I have to get every last bit of goo off too, plastic or glass or paper or whatever. Because some books you buy have stickers too. Those can be tricky. So you know how much these little Wal-Mart stickers are bothering me? A lot. I see them every time I open my refrigerator. That's where the biggest culprits live. Most of the others I take care of because they aren't hidden. But I'm a little too lazy for those refrigerator stickers.

And you can't tell me Wal-Mart is using them to try to help with pricing at the checkout line, because one of the stickers was wrong the other day on a towel I bought, although several others were right, and I watched just to see what would happen with that one. It rang up at the correct lower price, not the sticker price. They have to pay someone to do it. So what's the purpose?

Maybe they knew I was moving to Michigan and thought I needed practice on my sticker-removal technique.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand? ~ August 2008

I'm participating in a new (for me) carnival put on by 5 Minutes for Books. Since I love to read and get new ideas for books, I can't wait to see what others are reading. Honestly, my book pile is much bigger than this and I don't need anything else to read, but these are "next in line" or ongoing.

1. The Cat Who Played Brahms by Lilian Jackson Braun...I'm enjoying The Cat Who....series that Lora suggested. I love cozy mysteries that don't give me nightmares and aren't too easy to figure out. I'm reading them in order, because that's just the way I do things, and this is the fifth book in the series. I was able to pick up a couple of hardcover remainders at Barnes & Noble for a steal, and then the first three in the series in a combined paperback.

2. A Deadly Judgment by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain...This is the sixth book in the Murder, She Wrote series. I read a couple, then move on to something else, then come back and read a couple more. Again, cozy mysteries that don't give me nightmares. I enjoy the show in reruns and like the books. A little bit like Nancy Drew for grown-ups. I was able to get most of these books off of ebay for a steal. And once again, I am reading them in order.

3. Mocha on the Mount, a coffee cup Bible study by Sandra Hubby gave me this for Mother's Day, and I'm ashamed to say I haven't started it yet although it looks really good. I've never been good with any devotional or study that requires me to write down my thoughts or feelings. I consider them private between me and God, and I concern myself that someone might read what I write. Now that I've put this on my list of reads for the next month, accountability will get the best of me and I will do it, because that's what a Type A personality will do.

4. The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace...I bought this from Vision Forum because it looks good and I can always use it. Enough said. I'll let you know.

5. Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson...This is the prequel to the O'Malley series, and since I have to read books in order, I need to read this first. My cousin recommended the O'Malley series to me, but since I usually lean toward mystery books, I haven't gotten around to these yet.

6. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie...I read my first Agatha Christie book this year, and I liked it. I think. It was different from any mystery book I've ever read. I can never figure out these books. I bought eight of these books at Barnes & Noble as publisher's remainders for a steal. They are all black and a different color and hardbound underneath the dust jacket. I like that. They look nice on a shelf. Because if you've read my blog before I sometimes pick a new book because of the cover.

7. Miss Julia Stands Her Ground by Ann B. Ross...Somewhere in looking on Amazon I saw a review of the Miss Julia books, which varied from good to bad, and then I saw one, which is not the first one, on the publisher's remainder table once again, and bought it. It did have a nice dust jacket until the kids destroyed it in the vehicle. So now it's just a hardcover book. But at least it's red. Miss Julia is Southern, and that's really all I know about her or the books, except they are supposed to be funny, and I thought I'd try one, even if it's not the first one.

8. I don't have a picture of this book on my nightstand since I just bought it:

The Shack by William P. Young... Lora recommended it, Heather has read it, and so has my cousin. It seems to be all the rage, but in a good way. I'm still honestly afraid to read it, but I'm going to do it.

The only books that should really be "living" on my nightstand are the fiction books, because they are the ones I read when I'm in bed. The non-fiction and my Bible I don't read in bed. I'm going to have to read fast, because we're getting ready to start school and then I'll be reading a lot of books with the kids, either simultaneously so I know what they're reading or read-alouds. And I'm also going to be getting a new devotional that Lora recommended, because it just sounds so good. But I'll share about it next month, because it's technically not on my nightstand yet.

So what's on your nightstand? Have any really good recommendations? Every fourth Tuesday go over to 5 Minutes for Books and see some nightstands. And some books. And link up your own while you're there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Senior Pictures Anyone?

It's Monday, and I should be doing a post about Menu Plan Monday and posting it over on The Organizing Junkie's website. But instead, I'm going to do something utterly silly that I found over on Mari's blog last night. I wasn't sure I was brave enough to do it. There's a little bit of humiliation involved here. But if I can tell everyone I've eaten cottage cheese and potato chips together, but yet I eat one thing at a time and don't let my foods touch, I have to re-launder everything that touches the floor as it comes out of the dryer, and I not only have to have the toilet paper come over the top but have to put it on the roller with the right hand, I think I've done a pretty good job so far in the humiliation category. So why not add a few pictures to it, right?

There's this website called Yearbook Yourself where you can create senior pictures of yourself in prior years from 1950 all the way to 2000, in every even numbered year. I made it more complicated than it should have been until I realized that you didn't have to import your picture every time you wanted to change to a different year. All you have to do is go down to the bottom and the years will scroll. Then you can click on each one, or just the one you want, and you can view it. If you save one along the way, just close that image out and you can start scrolling again. The kids and I had a blast playing with this today. They want me to do the cat and the picture of the bag of Ruffles next. We'll see.

The Mary Tyler Moore Look

The Marcia Brady Look
(aka the straight hair I always wanted)

The Year I Graduated From High School

(not anything like my picture looked like)

The Year I Graduated From College

(not anything like my picture looked, although at some point in the previous few years this could have been my picture)

I had to show this because it could have been one of my pictures too, but again from years prior to this.

The Year After I Had My Twin Girls
(I'd had this hair in prior years, although it was more "polished" because, hey, I was a professional with a "real" job.)

I've decided by looking at these hairstyles that either Arkansas is a trendsetter, or high schools run behind the times, because I had all these hairstyles prior to the years they are dated. And by a good probably four years. But believe me when I say I had them, and if they were big, I had them BIG.

And because I don't want to only embarrass myself leave Hubby out of the fun, I'm going to show a couple of his. And he doesn't even know that the kids I did these.

(I think I've seen some of Hubby's uncle's pictures that look like this)
The year we graduated from college, which is the year Hubby's brother graduated from high school. This looks a lot like his brother's senior picture. By this time, Hubby's hair was pretty short since he was getting commissioned into the Army.

Well, if you go and play along at Yearbook Yourself, let me know so I can check your pictures out. I expect Heather and Reese to try it, because this kind of stuff is right up their alley. Was that a dare? No, I just want to see someone else humiliate entertain themselves too.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Search Is On...And Maybe Almost Over

I don't know about you guys, but looking for a new church has never been tops on my list of things to do. Probably doesn't even rank in the top ten. Necessary, yes. Hard, yes. Fun, not always. Being a family that has moved a lot, we got to do it more than we wanted, but being a military family that moved less than most, we got to do it less than we could have. And of course since we just moved to a brand new state, the search is on again.

Now I will say one thing - the internet is a beautiful thing most of the time. We used it to do initial searches on the Awana website for churches that have the program all the way up to 12th grade because our girls are working toward their Citation Awards. Now attending the church where we go to Awana is not a must, but it's a start in searching for a church. In looking around at lots of church sites on the internet, we only found one to put in our "favorites" folder to check out when we got here. That was pretty slim pickins'. The only time we have joined the first church we tried out was in Illinois, and odds are just against that happening.

Last week we went to service at this particular church and enjoyed it. We met a few people, a lady that homeschooled her two children through high school and just graduated her second one (which was of immediate interest to me with the girls starting high school this year), the person in charge of the Awana T&T program who told us a lot about their program, and others. So we went back to Sunday school this week. Now my boys are never enthusiastic about trying out new Sunday school classes, which is one of the reasons we just do service the first time to make sure the church is even one we would consider. Buddy is excruciatingly shy around people he doesn't know, and Caboose is just a pickle about it to be a pickle about it. Glory be, they both enjoyed it! They were also very happy that the children at this church, unlike in our last church, seemed to be well-behaved. It was the status quo at our last church for children to act up and be rowdy, and this completely went against anything our kids had ever been taught or had been exposed to. It was difficult for them to be around, and they never fully adjusted or fit in. Our girls enjoyed their class, we enjoyed our class, and we enjoyed the service for the second week in a row. It's a Biblically sound and conservative church, the size we are typically drawn to and comfortable with, and at first glance they seem to be highly involved in both home and foreign missions.

Our kids are already asking us if we can keep going to this church. We are praying that God will continue to show us if this is indeed the right church for our family. But how amazing that it may once again be that the first church we visited is indeed our new church home.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Know & Tell Friday

I think this could be titled a random edition, even though Heather and Reese didn't officially do that. Be warned, you might see some pictures that will give you the heebie-jeebies if you continue reading. I'm also going to spoil my reputation by answering this week's questions, but since I can't skip a week, because that goes against the whole nature of my OCD obsessive nature, I'm ruining it. It's a catch-22.

1. Are you right- or left-handed?

I am right-handed. Chatty is the only left-handed person in our immediate family.

2. Any nicknames they have (or have had) and the story behind them?

The only one I had growing up was KK, which came after my boy cousin was born when I was almost 10 years old. Since I have a hard name to pronounce, that was easier for him and it stuck. My Hubby actually calls me that occasionally, but usually when he calls me by a nickname it's Sweetness. That ones been around so long and I don't know for sure where it came from. I'd say "Days of Our Lives" with Patch and Kayla, but that's not when it started. And no, I haven't watched a soap opera in over 10 years.

3. Do you need to do laundry right now?

Keep in mind that I've been gone a lot doing house stuff. Also keep in mind that even though the apartment has a full-sized washer and dryer, full-sized varies. This one is for a couple who has no children that lives in the tropics and wears bikinis and swim trunks all the time. See:

Yes, I need to do laundry right now. The picture from our bathroom floor is the least of the problems:

This next picture shows where everything gets thrown, and I mean thrown, when I tell the kids to carry things down to the laundry room. It's on the bottom floor (there are three floors: entry floor with garage and laundry room, living and kitchen on main floor, and bedrooms on top floor).

This is behind the laundry room door. Frightening, isn't it?

I don't even want to think about how many loads this is.

4. What CD is in your CD player/music on your iPod right now?

I have to answer this based on what is in my vehicle's CD player. I have Avalon's Greatest Hits, undone by mercyme, one of Chris Tomlin's CD's, Somewhere More Familiar by Sister Hazel, Greetings from Imrie House by The Click Five, and PureNRG by PureNRG. I'd love to have an iPod because I don't listen to all the songs on any CD. I flip around like some people flip channels with a remote control. My girls have iPods, but that's it in our house right now. Someday...

5. How/When did you learn to ride a bicycle?

It's funny, I can see the picture my Grandpa took of me the first time, but I'm trying to remember what year it was. It was either 1970 or 1971, so I was either getting ready to turn five or six, since my birthday is five days after Christmas. Actually, the picture was probably not even taken on Christmas day, but a few days after. I learned right there in the driveway/grass by the "try, try again" method, and my Grandpa was the one who taught me. My mother's second husband that she had married right before I turned three had died in a motorcycle accident in May, 1970, when I was four and she was a couple of months pregnant with my sister. He had legally adopted me when they got married. My mom and I moved from Gretna, Louisiana, back to Arkansas where she grew up and where I had been born and we had lived with my grandparents and aunt (since she was still in high school) until she remarried. That's why my grandpa was the one teaching me to ride my bike.

6. What is your favorite weird food combination?

This comes courtesy of my mom, and this is the one that might make you squeamish. If it's any comfort, I haven't eaten it in over 10 years. I don't even know if I'd like it anymore. Okay, I probably would. It goes in the "dairy and potato" family ~ you know, how you go to McDonald's and get a cone and french fries, or a shake and french fries? Am I right? So without further ado, I present you with

potato chipsand cottage cheese.

It has to be Ruffles to hold up to the cottage cheese, because regular Lay's aren't strong enough. I also have to say that I am an extremely picky eater. I do not like food in my food. The fact that I will eat this says nothing of my food personality. It is completely outside the realm of my food personality. I eat one thing at a time. I do not let my food touch. I don't eat raisins in anything but raisin bran, because that would qualify as food in my food. I don't eat nuts in my cookies or brownies for the same reason. But I will eat this. I know you're scratching your head, or covering your mouth, or doing both at the same time. I can't explain it. We all have one little thing that's outside the box, right?

7. What is something you have that is of sentimental value?

One thing is my maternal great-grandma's ring that was a gift from my great-grandpa. It has our birthstone in it (not a real stone; her birthday is the day after Christmas), and I was the first great-grandchild on top of that. My mom was also the first grandchild. I think that probably had something to do with the fact that I got her ring. Plus, when I was about five, apparently I told her how pretty her ring was. She told my great aunt that when she died I was to get her ring. She died the same day the Challenger crashed.

This is my doll collection. Many of these dolls I've had since I lived at home growing up. I took these pictures prior to moving "just in case." They are also sentimental to me. They are from all over the world. Hubby and I have added a few Hummels along the way, but the one in the second row on the far right is an original plastic one from Germany when I was very little. I also have a gigantic Kewpie doll I got for Christmas when I was in the second grade.

Well, that's it for this week. You probably learned way more than you wanted to with this week's answers. To go play along or see what others answered this week, go to Kickin' It In Crazyville.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This Week's House Update

I'm amazed at how quickly the house is progressing. The weather has been cooperative and our building superintendent knows how to get things done in a timely manner without multiple people being in the house stepping on each other. It's been fascinating to watch. If you want to look back at the most recent pictures prior to these, you can look back at this post.

Here was the house after the masonry people had worked for a day. This was last Friday, August 15th.

This is a picture of the house on Monday, August 18th. They don't work on the weekends either. This was just from the work they did that day.

And this is Wednesday, August 20th. It was actually done on Tuesday. I just didn't plan to take the pictures until the next day because I had to go out anyway for the pre-drywall walk-through on Wednesday morning. But of course the insulation guy had parked a big truck in front of the door, so we didn't get to take pictures until Wednesday night. The brick is done, and it's the same level in the back and on the other side as it is over the garage area. The siding will be put on later.

I took this picture to try to show the color of the brick a little better because the sun was behind the house. Caboose is in the driveway.

The original date planned by all parties to have the house finished was around the end of October. Our building superintendent (I heart our building superintendent) said if all things go as planned, it will probably be the middle to the end of September. Yes, September! Tell me I wasn't happy when he told me that!

Our excitement continues to build. Pretty soon there will be inside pictures to share. Most of the ones we have now are with boards, wires, and pipes, and that doesn't make for a very interesting picture. Plus it leaves a little too much to the imagination. Drywall is going up tomorrow, so it won't be long.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I have a tendency to be funny and silly in my posts, but I wanted to share how our family has been touched by the hand of God. We have frequently been asked recently, "You retired to Michigan?" or "Are you originally from here?" And of course we aren't. We're from the South or Midwest, depending on how you categorize Northwest Arkansas. But we left our hearts in Southern Illinois a little over two years ago.

It all started back in 1999. Hubby didn't get the military promotion we expected. There was absolutely no reason he shouldn't have gotten it. We were completely dumbfounded. We were also expecting our fourth child, had five year old twins and a two year old. We didn't have a lot of money, and we weren't sure what to do except to trust God. So we decided to be patient and not make any rash move, and Hubby decided to wait until the next year until he had the opportunity to be promoted "above the zone" which has a five percent or less chance. If he wasn't, then we would have about three months for him to find a job.

Now if you had asked either of us at any point where we would like for him to be stationed, we would have said Scott AFB, Illinois, even though he was in the Army. He had been stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, aka Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, early in his career, and it was only three hours from our families and two hours from our beloved St. Louis Cardinals. Scott AFB was 20 minutes from St. Louis! One Wednesday evening in the summer of 2000 at our ladies' neighborhood Bible study, my prayer request was for "career and future planning." Vague, but God knew what it was. On Friday Hubby came home to attend the post VBS lunch presentation the kids were putting on, and I told him he had a message on the answering machine, and all I knew was that it was "some guy."

So Hubby listens to the message, says it's his branch guy, and calls back. He's outside talking, giving me a thumbs up, and I'm really just clueless. Next thing I know he's telling me that even though they can't officially tell him, they are offering him a position at the new rank at Scott AFB, Illinois, and we are moving in less than a month. Through my tears I immediately pulled out my prayer list and showed Hubby what I'd put down and requested of the other ladies. See, if he'd been promoted in the "right" year, this job wouldn't have been available, because it rotates every three years, and it was the only job available for him there. Plus, this meant he was locked in for military retirement.

We had lived in New Jersey for three years and loved it, but it couldn't touch the love we developed for Illinois. We loved our friends, our church...everything. We really planned on retiring there. But God had other plans. In 2006 we were moved to Fort Eustis, Virginia, and fully expected to enjoy it at a minimum. It was the South. We're Southerners. But we never really fit there, and I can't even think of a word to use to explain it better than "fit." While we were there we kept wondering why God moved us there, what our purpose was, were we missing something? But in the back of our minds we always suspected that it was God moving us away from Illinois, because if He hadn't done it, we would have never listened to Him and done it. We would have probably turned a deaf ear or never realized God's plan. Once removed from Illinois, we were able to consider other possibilities.

When the retirement option came up, and I could probably do a whole post about God's faithfulness there, I'll just simplify it by saying that He definitely made His plans clear. The timing was obvious and set out perfectly before us. Doors were opened and closed like clockwork. There was never really any doubt about where we were to end up, and Michigan it was. We are happy about it. Yes, we miss our friends, but we'll have plenty of room for them to visit us. (Please come!)

This was hanging on my bathroom mirror for at least the last year in Virginia:

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

God's plans were always in place, and sometimes the waiting was hard, especially for someone with my personality. But it's always better when we do it His way.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Nickname, and Stuff

You know my real name. I don't hide it. I just hide my family's names. Well, Hubby (with his scruffy look):

has decided to post a comment on my blog. In doing so he did not use his real name. He used a version of my nickname, KK. He is KK's Hubby for posting purposes. The KK came about when my cousin:

who is 10 years younger than me could not pronounce my name. So I was KK.

We think Buddy:

looks a lot like my cousin.

And just for your info, Hubby is really good at math too, but definitely not in the category of a math geek like me, at least in my opinion.

So just to review, if you see KK's Hubby in the comments, this is KK:

little ol' me, and this is my Hubby:

And if you want a review of the other nicknames, you can cheat and go here and here.

Feel free to leave sappy, gracious comments about how I can't possibly be as old as I've said, how I look so much younger than my wonderful Hubby, etc., etc., etc. And don't worry about him, when I'm happy, he's happy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My New Addiction...

It's related to numbers, and I got it on clearance at Wal-Mart for three bucks:
How can you beat that? A year or so ago I had purchased about five different one dollar books they had at Wal-Mart that had tons of puzzles in them. I think they were cheap because they were printed on thin, newspaper type paper. After I got the gist of Sudoku, I went right into the hard and very hard puzzles. I tell you I am a left-brain numbers girl. And to top it off I love puzzles, especially when they have to do with math or problem-solving. I'm not a board game girl. Monopoly ~ never really enjoyed it. Uncle Wiggly and the games Sorry and Life were about it for me. Now that Hubby thinks everyone will "really think you have OCD" instead of just joking about it ~ and what rock has he been living under, he said he could have answered the Know & Tell OCD questions for me ~ now everyone will also think I'm a super-duper math geek. Whatever. At least I've made it through eighth grade math homeschooling the girls and we're getting ready to do ninth grade math. That's a good thing. And just to digress, how many people get to go through every grade again, for me three extra times (not four since I have twins)? When my children feel like complaining about school, that's the card I pull out.

Unfortunately Wal-Mart never carried extra editions of their cheap little books, and I'm too cheap to buy the expensive ones. And I finished those books pretty fast. When I start something I'm a little obsessive about finishing, or maybe it's just being obsessive about the puzzles and I can't stop until they're all done. Anyway, I've done without until this little gadget. It's not as good as paper, because I make little notes in the box while I'm doing it, but it will suffice.

And just in case you were wondering, and just so my mom will know what went on in my head after I learned my multiplication tables in the third grade, I wasn't kidding about the number obsession on Know & Tell Friday. My original number issue was with three and it's multiples. I constantly thought about three, how it added up, how it multiplied, how it doubled, and on and on. By about sixth grade, I prayed that the Lord would take this obsession from me because it wasn't going to go away otherwise, and He did. It was gradual, but it happened pretty fast. Now it's more doing things or eating things in certain quantities. If something is small, like a piece of chocolate or a cookie, I'll eat four, because I have four kids. That's my most common number now. I knew a lady in Illinois who could only eat things in fives. Oh well, to each his own.

Anybody else funny about numbers?

Please tell me yes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Four Sets and Counting...

This is set three for Sparky alone, and unfortunately it's not looking so good:

You can probably tell how bad the midline is off. At one point it actually looked pretty good, but before we left Virginia the orthodontist tried to do a quick fix to get her upper braces off before we left. It didn't work, and this is what we ended up with in Michigan.

We get to go get three brackets removed and repositioned in a little over a week, a new bottom retainer, and then when we're done we have to have the two top middle teeth bonded to get them shaped correctly. They are "conical" and will not look correct until that is done by the dentist. We already love our orthodontist here after only one visit. Their office probably loves us too, because they see dollar signs.

When I mentioned this was Sparky's third set, her first set was at eight years old. She had a permanent tooth on the bottom (just right of middle) that was laying down under three baby teeth. She had to have it exposed, uprighted, and turned. Thankfully they saved the tooth, and during that they had a partial set of braces on the top and bottom. When they removed those and she had retainers to hold some space, she had large knots develop down in her lower gumline. The oral surgeon said it was from erupting teeth, so the orthodontist put the braces back on to hold position and keep things in place since he already saw negative movement happening. This all happened in Illinois, where we also loved our orthodontist. Sparky proceeded to lose all her baby teeth and as permanent teeth started to come in, the braces were removed. She was ready for this third set right when we got to Virginia.

Our fourth set of braces was actually chronologically our third, and Chatty's first and only set. She got them on in Illinois and almost completed treatment while she was there. She had them on for about six months after we arrived in Virginia, and then had them removed and got retainers. The only bad thing right now is that I packed the box that has her retainer in it, and stink if it isn't one that ended up in the storage unit. So we got an impression made for one at the orthodontist for her too. Cha-ching.

Buddy will be set five. We knew he would be ready sometime in the fall, but he still had a couple of baby teeth that needed to come out. He lost one of them last night. Look at the hole amidst the big teeth:

He's been in treatment for a little over two years, also since we arrived in Virginia. He's had a lip bumper on the bottom and a spacer on the top to make room for his big teeth he got from me, in his small mouth he also got from me. And while you're trying not to pee your pants laughing about me not having a big mouth, I mean actual bone structure.

I only have 24 teeth instead of 32. I got my first set of braces at nine years old the summer before I went in the fourth grade. That's back when nobody got them on until they were at least 12. But my teeth were absolutely everywhere in my mouth, coming out my gums and crossing each other in the front. They pulled nine teeth before they put them on, seven baby and two permanent, and then two more permanent after they put them on. I had the railroad track braces on every tooth, and I didn't have to have a single spacer put in my mouth for the orthodontist to get them on. I had my wisdom teeth cut out when I was 16 and 18, two each time, thus the 24 teeth I have now. Since they took my braces off when I was 12, my bones grew after I got them off and my bite was off and my teeth had moved a little, so I had a second partial set as an adult for one year. I actually got them off the day before I got put on bed rest with the girls.

And you know this has set six written all over it:

At least he won't need braces:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Please Pray For Zoe

I felt compelled to write a quick post before I go to bed tonight, which is actually Saturday morning for me. I read on Lora's blog the other day about a friend's family member whose baby was born early at 34 weeks gestation. The baby is very sick and needs prayers.

Those of you reading my blog who aren't family don't know the pre-birth or birth story of my twin girls, and I probably won't post it in detail until their birthdays in December. To keep it simple, I'll just say that they are truly miracles and were born at 27 weeks gestation...and not close to 28 weeks, they had just hit 27 weeks the day they were born. There were preemie complications, but we did not have to deal with any brain bleeds like baby Zoe (pronounced Zo-ay). After we dealt with the immediate complications following the birth, the girls were able to get stronger and a little older before their tiny bodies had to fight so hard against other stuff, again unlike baby Zoe.

That said, I have chosen not to post comments on Zoe's family's site, because I really don't know what to say. Every situation is so different. We watched a baby born at 30 weeks that should have done much better than our girls die within her first week of life. We know from experience in the NICU that 34 weeks is usually a walk in the park, but not always. Look at this precious baby that is fighting so hard right now. I don't want to say the wrong thing, so I am choosing to say nothing to the family. What I am choosing to do is to ask whoever reads this to pray for Zoe and for the family, and then to spread the word. They are asking for prayers for complete healing of their little baby's body, that he may live a completely normal life. I know from experience with our girls that the power of prayer is the best gift of all.

You can read more about Zoe, get an update, or leave a comment for her family
here. Speaking from my heart and from personal experience, I ask that you also pray for the family's strength during this time, because the Lord will be carrying them through it.
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