Monday, February 23, 2009

Splishing and Splashing

We spent Saturday night in Branson at the Grand Country Inn with the Shockleys and their boys Garrett (5) and Boone (3) and the Theissen's and their kids Cale (5) and Marah (5 months). The kids had a great time at the indoor water park and surprisingly enough I was NOT the fattest Mom in the park. Whew! There was a surprising array of "Mom's" there. Some of which made excellent and cute choices in swimwear and others who made more unfortunate choices. All I know is that mine was covered up and other's should have been. Just as a rule of thumb one should not put a triangle of yellow spandex over a bumpy rectangle of a bottom. Just file that away in your brain incase the opportunity should ever arise.
Grace had a blast and would probably have stayed in the water until her lips were blue and her skin resembled more of a shriveled fruitlike consistency. As it was we spent nearly three hours in the water. After everyone got cleaned up and had sufficiently wrestled the Daddy's into submission on the hotel room bed, we headed to the Landing for dinner. Our first choice was Joe's Crab Shack which it turns out is a LONG freakin way from the far end of the Bass Pro parking lot. It was a three hour wait for Joes and that was NOT going to happen... for any of us. We headed back to the Macaroni Grill and just as we were being seated the Shockley's bowed out because Boone had had enough for one day. They got Wendy's on the way back to the hotel and the rest of us trudged onward to dinner.
It was a fun evening even though I thought Bryon was in the bathroom half the time. Everytime I turned around I couldn't find him. I guess he'd told me he was going to the bar at Macaroni Grill while we were waiting but I didn't hear him and assumed he was in the bathroom. After about 20 minutes and we were already seated I dispatched Richard to track him down because I figured he must have slipped in urine and marinara sauce and was unconcious on the bathroom floor because who stays in a restaurant bathroom that long? Just as Richard was heading out on his 911 mission Bryon came bopping around the corner from the bar. Unscathed. Guess I should pay more attention next time.
We stopped at Tanger Mall on the way out and went over to the Children's Place where we've found some out of season clothes in the past. All I can say is if Grace is smart she will always INSIST on taking Daddy shopping with her. I buy her the bargain out of season cheap stuff. Daddy buys her the in season stuff that's on all the maniquins. He's a push over! We spend $270 at the Children's place. Now some of that was summer clothes and shoes and some next winter sweaters and shirts but still it was a lot. She got some new light up Sketchers too AND new Sketcher flip flops. The girl is styling. Daddy has good taste and a generous heart and wallet. She'll learn to work that soon :)
Meanwhile we are anxiously awaiting our new puppy. Bryon decided to tell Grace so she could anticipate it. She is. Me too. On the one hand I'm all "Wow, I can't wait to get a new puppy" on the other hand I'm "Holy Crap we are getting a new puppy".
Grace and I got the outdoor kennel all cleaned out yesterday and Bryon has to put a new telephone pole on one side of it and rewrap wire around the bottom of the door and I think it will be 100% puppy proof. I got all the pig poop cleaned out of the pet porter and the step out in our garage cleaned off for it for the first few weeks of nights at least while we work on potty training him. Now if I can just find the screws to the dang thing! I remember a ziplock at some point but I have no idea where it is. I may have to hold it together with clothes pins and duct tape.
Things are getting exciting and I'm pretty sure there will be a plethora of stories to blog in our immediate future.
Life is good.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Three is the Magic Number

My mother-in-law in Nebraska made this little video and emailed it to me. I liked it so much I wanted to share. She did ALL the paintings in the video. You may have seen some of them on our hall "Wall of Fame".

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cheesy Again

I made cheese yesterday.

I figured it was now or never so I went to town and took advantage of an unfettered afternoon while Grace was at Nana's to try the cheese unassited. The ricotta was actually pretty easy and turned out great despite the fact that I later realized I'd only used a half gallon of milk. Memory Lane's milk comes in 1/2 gallons. Yeah, I'm not the brightest bulb sometimes.

Thankfully I figured it out as I was preparing to make the mozzarella. The "30 Minute Mozzarella" took a little longer than 30 minutes because I just couldn't get organized. I really need one more stainless steel pot to make things easier next time. I finally got it done in between making THREE lasagnas. I made one for our dairy farmer neighbors who just had their third child five days ago. I sent Bryon up there to deliver it and he said Charity (the Mama), the two kids and their five day old baby were all in the milk barn together. Charity was milking cows.

Did I mention she just gave birth five days ago? Any self congratulations I was feeling over making homemade ricotta and mozzarella was extinguished. That girl is tough.

The other lasagna was for a family at church that are having health issues and finally I made one for us. I used the cheese for ours because I only had enough for one lasagna. It's definately too time consuming and expensive to do to give away on a regular basis. I had $10 worth of milk in the cheese which I was thinking was sort of crazy but 2 cups of Kraft mozzarella is about $3+ anyway. So really, the TIME is the clincher. It was a long day but really worth it. I used some of our deer burger and sausage from our pig in it along with organic pasta sauce and whole wheat lasagna noodles. You just can't get much better than that. I just don't forsee it happening on a weeknight anytime soon... or ever.

I wanted to make bread too but there are only so many hours in the day. Maybe next time I'll be more organized and able to whip it out more quickly.

Bryon had a good MAN day outside working on his tractor with the Huggler Men, bottles of gas and a welding supplies. I'm not really sure how all that works but now he has a grill on the front of the tractor to keep from breaking out the new $120 headlamp we are having to replace because he thinks the thing is a bulldozer. He also has a shield on the back of the tractor so now he won't have to be the only farmer in Webster county who's wife makes him brushog while wearing a motorcycle helmet. He's been a good sport about it but I know he's ready to go commando.

The chickens got to enjoy a few hours outside after I got back from the grocery store and they were HAPPY! I'm still getting 5 or 6 eggs a day and I have 6 dozen in my fridge right now even after I used a half dozen today. I just keep giving them away.

We got a call today from my uncle saying that he had a litter of puppies about ready. A 7 week old Brittany male that he only wants $40 for. We are going to be out of town this coming weekend but will maybe get him after that. Grace has no idea and we aren't going to say anything to her until it's a done deal. Bryon and I were sitting on the couch last night talking about life with a new puppy. We haven't had a new puppy in 15 years. I'm not sure if we know what the heck we are doing but I do know Grace will be thrilled and have a whole summer of chasing a puppy around the yard.

One more thing to clean up poop after.

Coffee House Heaven

I had a great Valentine's Day.

First thing, Grace let us sleep until quarter til 9 am. I snuck in before I went to bed and left her Valentine's present in the middle of the floor so she'd see it first thing. I got her a box of chocolates, a neat one piece puzzle, a heart beaded bracelett and necklace and a card. Finally when she'd given up on us rising on our own accord she came in to tell me what she'd found in her room.

We got around, ate breakfast at Freda's and headed down to Nana's so Grace could spend the weekend with her and Mama could have a break. Bryon and I headed back into town and he took one for the team so I could find some shoes at the mall and horror of horrors...a swimsuit. I'm sure he was thinking "What fresh hell is this" but he didn't complain one time and dutifully said the swimsuit looked good. Mercifully God has made him completely blind to my flaws over the years and he still thinks I'm hot. Silly boy.

We finished up (actually I gave up wanting to fight the crowd of teenyboppers) and headed out at 3:15 and Bryon suggested we should probably go ahead and eat since we didn't have any reservations for VDay anywhere. We decided on Red Lobster and I figured it would just be us and the blue hairs at 3:15 on a Saturday but Red Lobster was PACKED! It was an hour wait so we passed the time playing Scrabble on my Blackberry. It was worth the wait because dinner was GREAT!

Then we headed to my Mecca...Borders. Honestly, I could spend an entire day there. I really could. The absolute BEST part was that they had live music there as part of Queen City Live or some thing and there was the best folk artist I've ever seen live. Her name is Cindy Woolf and her website is she's from Arkansas and plays acoustic guitar. She had a steel guitar accompaniment. It was just awesome sitting there drinking coffee and listening to her. She's a Gillian Welch/Brandi Carlisle sort of artist.

Her music just filled me up and I just couldn't have even planned a better day or had a better person to spend it with.

O' Brother

"Well, aint this place a geographical oddity...two weeks from everywhere."

- from O'Brother Where Art Thou

Friday, February 13, 2009


Last weekend we started the chicken tractor for the broilers. Bryon, of course, is the mastermind behind all construction at our place. I told him basically what I wanted and he hopped to it ripping 2x4s so we could put it all together. He has an old pneumatic nail gun that is AWESOME and really makes quick work of any construction projects we have...when the thing works. He's been needing to get it repaired for some time so after pounding about a half dozen nails the old fasioned way, he had sufficient motivation to make SATURDAY the day to do it. He figured out what he needed and we abandoned the job and headed to Orchelins for hinges, handles and the nail gun pieces. After four stops and then lunch at Fredas, we finally headed back home to work on the chicken tractor.

Grace played around outside all day and "helped" as much as we would let her. She really wants to "help". She was hoping there was going to be painting needed because that's what she likes to do best after she got to help paint the chicken house last year. After a solid half hour of work, I asked her to run to the garage and get herself and Daddy something to drink out of the refrigerator and a Dr. Pepper from the upstairs bar fridge for me. She came back with all three. A new GOFER has been born!!! I guess that makes me Head Gofer in Charge now because every project we have around here starting with the construction of the house 5+ years ago I have ALWAYS had to be the GOFER.

I was more than happy to pass that torch because I have made probably a thousand trips between the house and the barn for tools, materials and about a million little jobs. Bryon and my Dad assured me during the house construction that this was an important job. Probably the MOST important job because then THEY didn't have to stop working or come down from the roof etc, etc. etc. WHATEVER! It doesn't FEEL like an important job and there is no instant gratification in doing it. There is no progress to be seen like say painting, or building something, or laying wood flooring or using the NAIL GUN! I love that nail gun. It's very satisfying to shoot a nail through something.

Anyway, now I get to have my own personal GOFER. It's a win, win. I don't have to schlep to the house and she gets to "help". Hehehe.

Wait a minute...that's probably what Dad and Bryon said about me while I was in the barn.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Resolution Road

I've made some progress on my Resolutions, Goals and Life List. I'm already reading my 12th book of the year, I've been making artisan bread from scratch and learned to make mozzarella and ricotta cheese.

I've eaten fast food two times since Jan. 1 (two not even realizing it until two days later) and once today. I decided "fast food" is to be defined as anyplace with a drivethru. I haven't been very successful with the "watch less tv" goal. I have managed to change the channel to the XM Coffeehouse station when I've realized I just have it on for noise but dang it, I just have too many shows DVRd that I'm addicted to.

I did get all of my 2008 photos printed (363 of them to be exact) for 10 cents each from Walgreens. I couldn't BELIEVE how cheap that was. I uploaded them and they had them all ready for pickup in an hour. They must have been REALLY bored that day.

I've decided I'm going to go in March to finish up the last 12 miles of the Ozarks Highland Trail. Assuming the trail is passable after all the terrible ice last week. I've got to email Tim Ernst to find out before I trek down there. I've asked my friend Laura to go with me to finish it out since she was the one who started it with me years ago. If she can't go, I have another friend who said she would go or Bryon even volunteered to do it with me.

I've also ordered a dozen Cornish Cross broilers to raise that I'll pickup April 2 to help with the "raise all our own meat on the farm" goal.

The rest of the list is still in the "To Do" category but are something to strive for. I'll probably start working on the "meal planning" next. Meals at home are the scourge of my existence. I like cooking when I have the time. "Having the time" is the problem. Speaking of which, I wonder what's for supper tonight?

A View From The Road

I have a great job.

I have the freedom of making my own schedule, eating lunch in whatever little town and quaint place I please and roaming the countryside at will as long I get my job done, which is to setup blood drives in four counties. I drive their car and they pay for the gas. I get bonuses if I exceed my goal. I don't have to clock in and out. I get a cool Blackberry with internet.

I've talked to some very interesting people over the eight years I've been doing this job and seen some crazy things.

And still, some days I complain. What the heck is wrong with me? As long as I'm not having to teach school I should be happy and most of the time I am. It helps to occasionally get a little reminder of why my job is so great and Tuesday this week I got another reminder.

If you have a desk job there is very little chance that you will get to come across something like this while on the job...
Just another day on the road.

The End of the Internet

If you have ever wondered where the end of the internet is ... apparently it is our house. A couple of months ago I started getting postcard ads in the mail that CenturyTel had DSL available in our neighborhood. Having been a slave to Hughesnet and $89.99 a month satellite internet service for the past five years, I was excited but skeptical.

I called to check it all out and they assured me that yes it was indeed true. Woohoo! Of course the fastest speed they could promise for anytime in the foreseeable future was 512k. Hughesnet promised much faster but has never delivered *(until 3 days last week when it tested at 1.5 mbps) and is incredibly frustrating and unreliable but the only game in town unless we wanted dialup. We didn't.

So today I took a half day off and waited patiently for the CenturyTel guy. He worked and tweaked and disconnected and reconnected and walked from the cabin to the barn to the house about six times until FINALLY he had the blazing speed of 512k coursing through our lines. I decided I'd give it a month to decide if I could give Hughesnet the boot but so far I'm pleased. We'll likely never get the blazing 3 mbps speeds of our town friends unless the lay all new lines but I guess this is the price we have to pay for living in the boonies.

The CenturyTel guy said we were the end of the line. The end of the internet.

I suppose someone has to be last.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wii Wimp

A couple of  weekends ago Bryon announced he wanted to buy a Wii. We haven't had a video gaming system the entire time we've been married  (19 years in June). We did stay up all night about 16 years ago playing Tetras with our friends at their house in Bolivar. Bryon had to leave about midnight and run home and stoke our woodstove so our pipes wouldn't freeze. Before that, the only game I'd ever really played was Pong on the Atari my little brother.
I got pretty good at the arcade game Centipede and Galaga and could sometimes play Mario Brothers in the SBU game room durning junior high school,  but otherwise I am LAME at video games. So, suffice it to say, I didn't think Wii would be all that great.

It is pretty great.

We bought Wii Play and Bryon went and picked up Hasbro Game Night which has Boggle, Sorry and some other board type games on it. The Wii Sports that came with the game console is really fun. Grace is GREAT at bowling and surprisingly golf too. The other night she said, "Look I'm on the green". What the heck? How do you even know what a green is? The only golf I've ever played has had a giant clown's mouth or windmill at the end of it so "green" is only a color in our world, NOT a place on a golf course.

She loves boxing too. I finally tried the boxing over the weekend and I REALLY wanted to beat Bryon. I did, but now three days later I can finally lift my arms over my head to take my shirt off and on. I was SORE! Everyone keeps asking me if I've tried the Wii Fit yet. Heck no. If the BOXING practically incapacitated me I can't imagine what the Fit would do. I don't think I have what it takes for Fit.

The years or so we were in the house prior to Grace's birth Bryon and I played A LOT of Scrabble. Several times a week, we'd play. Well let me tell you, as a former English teacher you would think I could totally kick butt at Scrabble. Bryon, however,  is incredibly competitive and uses all those double and triple letter and word score blocks to his advantage. Out of probably 200+ games we've played I've won three. I'm pretty sure he let me win at least two of those.

Now, with the Wii I have a chance to redeem myself with Boggle, except I can't. He's still beating me. I've won ONE round so far. He beats me every round and every game.

I guess I'm not too good under word pressure.

It's Boggling.