Friday, October 31, 2008

15 Years Ago Today...

...I was on bed rest at my grandparents' house in Arkansas. All my maternal family lives there, and since my grandparents were home all day to keep an eye on me, they got me.

I'd been on bed rest since the last week of September. Hubby and I were supposed to move to Virginia for him to attend a military class for a few months that October. I wasn't allowed to travel that far once I got put on bed rest. So I got taken the three hours from Missouri to Arkansas, laying down in the back seat of our vehicle the whole way.

Today was Hubby's last official day as an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, although he's felt like he has been retired since he's been on terminal leave since the beginning of August. Tomorrow he will be a true civilian for the first time in a little over 20 years.

15 years ago when I was only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom, sit at the table to eat three meals each day, and take two showers a week, I had no concept of today. All I could think about was that home uterine monitor I wore each morning and evening, sending the results in every day to see if things were happening that I wasn't feeling, and my bruised hips, because I could only lay on my sides and not my back.

It's funny how today seemed to sneak up on me. It's a little strange that it made me think back to what I was doing 15 years ago today.

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."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Review: Dark Pursuit (ARC)

I received this advance copy of Brandilyn Collins next novel Dark Pursuit a few weeks ago. I actually read it within 36 hours of receiving it and am only just now getting around to writing the review. There is something sort of intimidating about agreeing to write a review when you receive an advance copy of a book. I don't want to sound too dumb, and in trying not to sound too dumb, I don't want to give away the entirety of the book. There is a very fine line here, but I have procrastinated long enough.

This is the first Brandilyn Collins book I have read and I enjoyed it. I had just sworn myself off of thrillers, although I believer hers are called seatbelt suspense, when it came in the mail. I didn't think I'd gotten my name into the publisher in time to get a copy.

From the back cover of Dark Pursuit:

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, recluse and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

This book didn't bother me like a lot of other thrillers. Even though there is a serial killer and the method of murder is mentioned, it just wasn't done in such a way that it disturbed me. I found that I didn't want to put the book down until I was finished and knew the final outcome. Since this was a novel about a novelist recovering from a serious accident, there are blips of manuscript scattered throughout the book. Craig is also writing a novel, so there are additional fragments to be found in several chapters. Collins' writing is rather amazing in these small pieces of unfinished manuscripts. She can even draw you into those. There were also twists at the end that were unexpected. This may be typical of Collins' writing style, but being the first time I've read her work I'm not sure.

If you like mysteries or thrillers, I think you'd like this book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Think I'm Nesting

I have truly moved to an area of the country that is unlike any I have lived in before. We had sleet today. The real stuff. We also saw a few little spits of snow in the air. It's October! We have sprinkles or flurries possible overnight tonight. That is an update from earlier, which called for one inch of slush. Let me just remind you it is October! The earliest I ever remember snow is Decmeber 3rd, 2000. That is my girls' birthday, and we had just moved to Illinois. It was a big snow, and that winter continued to be a snowy one.

So maybe in light of the impending cold weather, and maybe in light of not being in my house yet, I have begun to nest. (Without going into too much detail, we were supposed to originally be in our house by the end of October, the closing date got moved up to between the 7th and 10th of October, but in mid-September we found out the builder's office had not submitted paperwork to VA for subdivision approval. Oddly enough, everything was only overnighted to VA a week ago yesterday. Supposedly it could be another four to six weeks, but we have also been told that the Detroit attorney has a faster turn-around time. We are completely at the mercy of other people. And our house is sitting there finished, because the two building superintendents were perfect dreams to work with.)

When I'm stressed and in that nesting mood, I organize stuff. Hubby got home to the apartment today and made a comment about it looking like we were moving in long-term. He got to the top of the stairs and saw this:

It still needed a little work when I took this picture, but these books and other things had been sitting around in stacks, boxes, name it. I couldn't stand it any more, and not knowing when it was going to get moved, I needed it organized. We had this shelf in the garage since we moved all our bookshelves and cubbies in the big (albeit temporary) move.

Well, that shelf got me on a roll and I started going a little crazy. Not to me, of course, but to my family, although some of them do think the outcomes are kinda cute. Anyway, we have these stacking baskets that used to go under our bathroom shelves that sit outside the upstairs bathroom right now, because there really isn't any room for them, we are trying not to become too permanent, and we have no house guests to see all our personal items sitting out at the top of the stairs. But I will share them with the world:

They were really a mess. They had just been pulled out of a box and thrown down and rummaged through. Plus, I was still living out of my suitcase in the bathroom and needed to get that straightened out. Really, I was trying not to be permanent here. I'm feeling a little negative right now, so I decided to just give up and unpack and act like I lived here. Maybe it will be like when you're waiting for someone to come to your house and they don't show up and don't show up, and then you have to go to the bathroom, and that's when they get that I've unpacked maybe we'll get the call and our paperwork will all be done. Wouldn't that be nice? Yeah, I might be dreaming a little bit.

We don't have much room in the bathroom for stuff, and I need some sittin' out space, so I took one of my cute little pails (in my favorite Americana colors) and one of my yucky normally inside shower curtain liner hooks that I rummaged around and found, and hung it on the towel bar we don't use. Now I have a place for some of my little stuff I need to get to:

Then here are some of my excess books in a basket by my bed. They'd been stacked up at the bottom of the stair landing by the computer and kept getting kicked when the kids would walk by, so I finally took care of them.

I feel a little better, but I think I'm going to do more tomorrow. There are still tons of messy places to deal with, and organizing makes me feel useful.

And I'm addicted to it.

Hi! My name is Kayren, and I am addicted to organizing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


There is a local grocery chain called Meijer's, pronounced like Meyer's or "I want me some Oscar Mayer's weiners." We don't get much there because it's a little pricey unless you're going specifically for something on sale, but it's basically like a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Well, I have a thing for snowmen, and I haven't bought anything new for Christmas in the last couple of years. They have these darling melamine dishes, which I now have some of:

I have two of the top set and six of the bottom set. (There's another Meijer's closer to our church and I might see if they have four of the blue snowmen plates so I can have six of that set too.) The bottom plates only have dots on the rims and I'm thinking I can use those year-round.

Then the other night I got four of these little melamine plates at Wal-Mart:

They're for the kids to use when they are eating their Christmas cookies.

Apparently I'm skipping fall and going straight to Christmas, but nobody in my house apartment seems to mind, because they all have a thing for cute snowmen too. Must be genetic. Or else they just want Christmas cookies.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Meet The Kids: Part 1

In light of the recent posts that have seemed to focus on Caboose and his hilarity, which happens on a fairly frequent basis in our family, I thought it was only fair to try and introduce the personalities of the other three children. I decided to interview them individually and post them on separate days. I don't have set questions, although I will start with the same first one; from there I'm just going to roll with the punches. I started with Buddy, who is 12 years old, the only other boy in the family, and just over three years older than Caboose.

What would you like for people to know about you?

I love baseball. I love the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm a catcher.

Is there anything unrelated to baseball you would like for people to know about you?

I like math. I hate language.

Remember that we try not to use the word hate in our house, please. So why do you always tell me you despise school so much if you like math?

Because I'd rather do so much more stuff.

Like what?

Play catch outside, or watch Sportscenter on TV.

You'd think this boy's life revolved around sports or baseball or something.

So who is your favorite baseball player and why?

Albert Pujols because he is a good guy and a good player.

So what do you think of your brother garnering so much recent attention on the blog?

What does that mean?


It's gettin' boring.

Do you think your brother is funny?


Do you think you are funnier than him?

Not usually.

What do you think about having two older sisters?

It's fun sometimes, sometimes not. They team up against you.

What would you like to be when you grow up?

I would like to be a baseball player, but I know I'm not, so I don't know.

When do you think you might decide?

I don't know.

Do you think you'll get married when you grow up?

No way.

Why not?

It's disgusting.

What's so disgusting about it? You wouldn't be here without it.

It's just absolutely disgusting.

What do you think about being interviewed?

It's weird.

What do you like most about Michigan?

Every one is real friendly.

What do you like least about Michigan?

My best friend isn't here.

Do you have any closing thoughts you'd like to leave with the readers?

I don't like soccer. I like to read books. The Boston Red Sox are my second favorite baseball team. And that's all.

Well, as you can tell, this boy is all about his sports. If you didn't know it before, you certainly do now. My final non-sports related thought: he's my cutest brown-eyed child. Of course, he is my only brown-eyed child.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Other Side Of The Blueberry Bushes

Today I opted for my original blueberry muffin recipe:

Here's what Caboose thought about that:

The secret to the recipe — follow directions on the box. Here's what you'll get, in order:

If you need to be reminded about what happened when I opted for a fancy schmancy blueberry muffin recipe last week, you can read about it here, complete with the recipe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Fun At The Cider Mill

This last Saturday was beautiful and was the perfect opportunity for another trip to the cider mill. Our outdoorsy kids love to go hiking and climbing around the trails. Of course they had to get their sugar rush energy up first with some apple cider donuts and apple cider.

No trip into nature is complete without a picture of the ducks, at least as far as Hubby is concerned:

Some of the trees are at their peak right now:

This tree had natural knots on it where the kids could climb up. We have pictures of them on it one or two at a time, but here's one with all of them at once:

Here's a fall picture of them walking down the trail (click here if you want to see the post with a picture in late summer):

Here the kids are on a tree that had fallen down (Caboose is still crawling out on it):

Now here's a little fact about Caboose: he cannot stand to wear long sleeves. And we moved to Michigan. Scary thought. I actually have to put his shorts away where he can't find them when it gets cool, otherwise he'll still try to wear them. But his sleeves...he pulls them up to his elbows. I thought he would outgrow it by now. For goodness sakes, the boy is almost nine years old! But he's had to wear long sleeves a few times in the last few weeks and it's the same old thing — put on the shirt because Mom makes me and yank my sleeves up to my elbows.

Well, Saturday was cool and he had to wear a jacket. Actually it was a pullover sweatshirt, but then look at him a little while later:

That boy is nuts I tell you.

I'll leave you with a few other pictures of the kids:

Bye! See ya next time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

See, I Told You Hubby Loves Me

Last week Hubby had to make his first business trip as a civilian. He's actually doing the same job he did a little over two years ago when we lived in Illinois and he worked across the river in St. Louis. At that time he was an active duty military member, and now he is a government civilian. He had kept in touch with the men he worked with here in the Detroit area while we lived in Virginia, and when the time came to retire there was a job opportunity available for him here.

So with that background information now known to you, which doesn't really have anything to do with my hubby loving me, I can get on with the story. Hubby had to fly to El Paso, Texas, for the week. He flew through Dallas on the way, and this is what I got:

Yep, two of them in one stop. Of course the two cities are right there together.

Then while he was in the El Paso/Fort Bliss area, he found this mug for me, the first one I have that is a state mug and not just a city mug:

I now have a total of 21 mugs counting my Pike Place mug, which is the one that got it all started. That's one of the good things about Hubby traveling — I can look forward to possibly getting a new mug when he travels to a new place.

That and I get the bed all to myself for a few nights.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do You Have Conversations Like This At Your House?

A recent conversation between Hubby and me:

Kayren: "Do you know where your passport is?"

Hubby: "It's in that thing. You know the one I'm talking about?"

Kayren: "You mean the 600 denier nylon approximately 12" x 5" black zip-up thing I bought you on sale from Land's End online for $12.95 before you went to Kuwait in 2003 to keep your passport and other important documents in?"

Hubby: "Yeah, that thing."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Caboose Is Quite The Funny Kid, But This Is Really A Post About A Blueberry Muffin Recipe

Lora posted a yummy looking blueberry muffin recipe on her blog at the beginning of the week, and seeing as how my kids think blueberry muffins should have their own food group, I thought it might be fun to try. I confess that I am a boxed mix blueberry muffin maker. I use the plain old Betty Crocker kind with the little can of blueberries that you have to drain and rinse. It's not the fancy package where you end up with a crumb topping. If I make one package which yields 12 muffins, Hubby and I get none.

The Best Blueberry Muffins
(according to Lora's recipe, which came from her friend Sandy)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups blueberries
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs; then add vanilla, baking powder and salt.
Fold in half of the flour and milk, then add remaining flour and milk.
Dust blueberries with flour and fold into the mixture.
Scoop batter into a greased muffin tin.
Mix together the 2 T sugar and nutmeg and sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 12 large muffins.

I took pictures along the way, and I'll give the family verdict at the end of the post.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Since my butter wasn't softened enough, this is as light and fluffy as it got.
Beat in eggs;
then add vanilla, baking powder and salt. Looking creamier now.
Fold in half of the flour and milk,
then add remaining flour and milk.
Dust blueberries with flour and fold into the mixture.
Scoop batter into a greased muffin tin (I used paper liners). Mix together the 2 T sugar and nutmeg and sprinkle on top of the muffins.
Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 large muffins.

So now I get to tell you about all the little idiosyncrasies along the way. First, I didn't know whether to use fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries. Since a very small package of fresh blueberries at Sam's was over $7.00, I went with frozen. I did not thaw them first. Should I have? I have no idea. I don't even know if I was supposed to use fresh or frozen.

Those frozen blueberries — they made that batter really cold and firm and sticky. It already was much thicker than the normal batter from those boxed mixes. Now it was getting close to sticky cookie dough, and I had to get it in a paper muffin cup. I thought I filled those paper cups and I still had tons of batter left, so I started smooshing more on top, because the recipe said 12 large muffins. I wasn't going to get another tin out and make more than I was supposed to. Eventually it smooshed down into what you saw in the picture. It was just terribly deceptive because I was dropping blobs into those paper cups to start with and trying to keep it from landing in the wrong place as it became dislodged from my finger. Remember it was like sticky cookie dough, so it was stuck to the spoon, and I had to use my finger to get it off. Then if it didn't come off my finger I'd pull the whole thing up in the air, paper muffin cup and all. Tricky, it was.

So the verdict on the muffins? Hubby was out of town and didn't get any, I thought they were good, the girls thought they were good, and Buddy thought they were okay. Caboose staged a revolt. "Why did you put blueberries in them?"

Me: "Because they are blueberry muffins."

Caboose: "There are too many! They are fat! They are bursting! What did you do to the top? It's hard!"

Needless to say, he didn't eat his.

If I had to do it again, I'd probably thaw the blueberries at least a little bit, and I would probably cut them back to 2 cups. I would also make a boxed mix at the same time. Catering to Caboose? Maybe. But you can never have too many blueberry muffins in our house, and they won't last long.

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