Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fun Cake Pops

I saw the cutest idea for a sweet treat HERE that would make a great gift or party favor and thought it would be fun to try them. My sister has made truffles in various flavors this way for years but this is a new take on that idea.

makes cake pops from basic to amazing in design and I must say looking at her site and all of her ideas is addicting and causes me to long to do things I have absolutely no time for. But, being that we are still in celebration mode and being that John has off of work today I thought I would take a shot at making cake pops.

All you need to make Cake Pops is:

-- Cake Mix (I made my favorite chocolate cake last night and added peppermint flavoring)
-- Can of frosting (I whipped up chocolate butter cream with a bit of peppermint and vanilla)
-- Candy melts, or chocolate/white bark.
-- Lollipop sticks (I had short ones but the long would work much better I believe)
For step-by-step instructions with pictures click HERE. They are more time-intensive than I anticipated.

My tips --
I found that the balls need to be quite cold but not frozen otherwise the chocolate does not adhere quickly making the process ever so much longer.

If adding color to your chocolate or candy melts I found that even the paste I use to tint frosting contains water and does not work for this as it hardens too quickly - hence only 1 green tree pictured below) You need oil-based coloring.

 To dry you can use a block of styrophoam if you have it otherwise I used an old cereal box and poked holes in which worked fine.

My original intent was to use white
chocolate sprinkled with candy cane dust
but that didn't look very interesting so
I added red and green too.

I am thinking I may try this again (on a weekend) and might even bring myself to buy a flavored cake mix and a container of frosting such as lemon to make these for a gift. That would at least cut out a few steps. I also have a bridal shower coming up in March and I think the little wedding cakes Bakerella makes might be fun to serve then.

The snowman was just for fun and is the children's favorite but is too much work to make more than one. The trees were quite easy though. Just shape the dough as a tree.

If you have children that want to help -- it works great for them to put the sprinkles on as long as you aren't going for perfection here! :) Seppy only helped by eating them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Look before you go...

Now that Seppy turned two just over a month ago I find myself going crazy trying to keep up with him. It seems as soon as I turn around he gets into a mess. Leaving food or drinks out on the counter is not a good idea because he maneuvers his high chair to access whatever it is. His favorite thing right now is to dump the contents from one cup to another. A great learning skill I am sure but I cannot count how many times a drink is flowing on the counter down onto the floor.

I know we go through this with each child but it doesn't get any easier. I told John today I am about ready to gate Seppy off to certain rooms only which is what we had to do when Pete and Re-Pete were this age. When I think back to that crazy time of our lives with twins at age two I cannot remember how exactly we handled that, although I wasn't near as busy at that time either. And so, onto the latest in the Seppy Adventures.

Missy Blue announced she was going to the bathroom but came back to tell me: "Seppy's bankie is in the toiwet (toilet)!" What? I went to check this out and sure enough. He had stuffed his blanket into the toilet and it was soaking up all the water, at least I hoped it was only water but having this many boys it isn't exactly likely. I was laughing/crying at the same time my emotions didn't know what to make of this as I pulled out the blanket and wrung it out.

Of course, I did decide that I needed to capture this on camera to remember. I do regret not taking a picture of our fish tank when Pete and Re-Pete deluged it with books, socks, cars, and overfed them. No more fish. :)- The moral of the story as I announced at the supper table is to always LOOK before you go to the bathroom! You just never know what you might find. :)-

Girly Jammies

What do you do when your little boy needs new pajamas and all of his are in the wash? I found a pair that no longer fit Missy and so Seppy happily wore pink and purple hearts on his jammies. The boys weren't so sure it was a good idea but they were clean and he has no clue at this point so all is well. :) He looks cute in everything he wears and he definitely looks like a boy!

I was going to post this the beginning of December when it happened but was having problems adding a picture. So here is a jammie update --

Thankfully after a month of searching I found the rest of our 2T boys clothes and it had three pair of pajamas! I was so excited to find the missing clothes!!! It also brings back memories of when so and so wore that. :)


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blog -- Under Construction

If you happen to read my blog when things are not matching or some such thing I am working on it. I am trying to update the background and header and change colors of words but homeschoolblogger is EXTREMELY slow tonight and is not letting me get this accomplished. And so, I will let it looking strange for now. And for those of you who still use homeschoolblogger -- is your entry screen different now so that you cannot change fonts, sizes, add links, etc.? My last post I wasn't even able to make paragraph breaks. Kind of frustrating!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Miss Perfection -- Not Me!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week! (More to come on that next post when I can add pictures). Seeing as it was a my house this year (we are in a three-year rotation) I thought that I might get stressed in getting the house in order and preparing but I was so glad that I took each day to prepare my heart and mind for each day ahead and the Lord gave me what I needed for each day. I never did get to the point of frustration.

In having this many children I have learned a lot about going with the flow and not sweating the little stuff. No matter how much I may want things to be, nothing will be exactly as I desire and I have come to the point where I am content with that. Oh, don't get me wrong, I struggle at times wishing I no longer had walls with splotches awaiting priming and paint or that my "free" furniture matched the red walls of the living room but I am thankful that I have new furniture that I did not have to pay for. It may not be my style and eventually I will have them slipcovered but it serves it's purpose. Maybe I missed a cobweb or two or you might find dust in places someone missed but it is okay. Why stress about it and cause strain on the rest of the family? Not that I don't go crazy from time to time when preparing for company but not to the extent that I might have years ago.

The other week we had college students over and I didn't realize it but there was my laundry dumped on the loveseat. Seeing as that is often where it is I suppose no one realized that it didn't belong. :)- I am also very thankful for a husband who willingly gives of his time to help me out even after a long day at work. Last Wednesday I needed to go to church with the kids for Christmas program practice. I was telling John how I still needed to get the kitchen cleaned up after a day of running and the bathroom floor was in desperate need of attention. He said, "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it." And so he did. I came home to a clean smelling house and everything looked presentable.

I will say, that I am trying to work a little harder on the area of keeping up with the house before it overtakes me but it takes time to de-clutter and time is something I have little of. I read a poem awhile back something having to do with when our children are gone the things we will realize weren't important. And so, I imagine that one day I will think back on the clutter and chaos and wish that it hadn't left so soon. Although, then I can invite all of my grandchildren over to do the same thing. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pretty Onions

I haven't blogged for awhile and I was thinking today that it would be much easier if I blogged the way I do facebook -- just a thought or event every few days or so. Not necessarily with picture, as I prefer, but just keeping up with our life and remembering odds and ends.

This afternoon we worked on the farm down the road packing boxes for delivery. The season is coming to a close and we are only working every other week now. While the boys were trying to be the fastest, Missy Blue, who was putting a red onion in each box was taking her sweet time. She insisted on taking the flaky outer layer off of each one. We kept telling her that she did not need to do that but after 100+ boxes the ground around her was colorful with purple onion skins.

I asked her afterwards why she wanted to peel the onion and she said, "They were much prettier that way". :) Of course, whatever was I thinking?

Boys race while girls make things pretty. Sounds good to me!

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Baby Boy is 2!

Today my Baby Boy turned 2 years old and oh, how I am enjoying him! This is the first time I have ever had a child this age and not been pregnant or having a baby within days or weeks. This is the first time we aren't contemplating a move to a big bed so as not to need two cribs. This is the first time my back gets so sore from carrying a two year old around because with the others I mainly carried a newborn and could not lift a toddler anymore. I cannot tell you how much I am relishing my time with Baby Boy, who now that he has turned two, can no longer really be called a baby. He will now be called "Seppy" on my blog as that is what he is called around here and while my brother-in-law may try to call him "dozer" that just is not sticking.

Seppy is a ball of energy. He almost always has a smile on his face and is quick to laugh and to give love. He seems to be picking up on speaking faster than I recall a few of my others doing and I am amazed at the things he knows. For example, when we are sorting laundry into piles he knows what shirt belongs to who. How that is, I do not know because even John doesn't know that! Seppy still loves to cuddle and I enjoy that immensely. He loves his Daddy and his face lights up and he gets so excited as he runs to hug him when he comes home from work.

Seppy adores his sister (for the most part) and enjoys playing whatever she enjoys and has no problem dressing up and having a tea party. Of course she also can really irritate him as well. Everyone enjoys teaching Seppy new things and getting him to say various words. He is always bringing a smile to our faces.

Of course in the past few weeks I have noticed a shift in the tide as we have drifted into the "testing twos" and he is beginning to test the waters to see how far he can go. I think we have learned enough lessons with the other children that we are ready to make sure we stop certain behaviors before they really begin. He can get rough with the others but will turn around and be so sweet and gentle always rubbing our hair. Sometimes I think he enjoys hitting someone so that he can then say "I saw-ee" (I'm sorry) and hug the victim looking at them with his sad puppy dog eyes.

This is one of my favorite pictures, although it is rare to see Seppy look so serious. I am so thankful for my fifth little boy -- unique and special just as God created him to be.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Latest Birthday Cakes

I really enjoy making birthday cakes, although I wish I would be a little better at it and am contemplating signing up for a class seeing as I taught myself. I have perfected a few things after 10 years but I have a hard time not modifying recipes and that is not always a good thing. I thought I'd share the three cakes I made in the past month. I typically find all of my ideas in books or online and then do what I want with them.

The first cake was for my good friend's daughter's 13th birthday. I made flip flops that turned out so cute that Missy Blue thought she wanted that for her party as well.

The next cake was what Missy Blue had really been asking for for months and that was a doll cake and of course in pink. At first I did not want to make that one as I don't care for the doll top, but alas, I gave in. My Mom had made this same cake for me and so I used her pan and the top that came with it. In attempting to make her a little more flat chested I ended up making her look a little heavier in the waist which one of my boys was quick to point out. I made sure to explain to him exactly why I do not care for those type of dolls. I inadvertently made the frosting more pink than I prefer thinking it needed as much coloring as blue does but pink needs only a little bit. Of course Missy enjoyed the bright pink.

The last cake was simple as can be and I was thankful I made it as Baby Boy celebrated his birthday with Missy. I may have found the idea on Family Fun or some such place but instead of doing a dirt cake I made it a trifle cake using my standard chocolate cake, adding chocolate chips, cutting it into chunks, and layering it with whipped cream, chocolate pudding, and toffee bits and put it into his birthday gift -- a new dump truck. For some reason I could not find a nice truck any smaller than this thing so it wasn't as full as I envisioned but that was okay.

Next batch of cakes comes in January. Pete and Re-Pete already have their order in and thankfully they want the exact same cake so this year they will share! Although I still have to find the idea for what they requested.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blogger of the Week

We are halfway through the week already and I am finally getting around to posting. I found out that I am the HSB blogger of the week but have been busy with in-laws visiting, birthday parties, raising a litter of kittens, and the normal day-to-day that I haven't really acknowledged that.

If you are new to my blog -- WELCOME! As of late my blog has kind of taken a backseat to life as probably many of you can relate to. I very often have ideas to post but then never do get around to posting it until it is a month past and then what is the point. I began blogging as sort of a journal of our lives and to keep in touch with family and friends I don't talk to on a daily/weekly basis. There are many moments in our days that I do not want to forget.

I am a stay-at-home Mom to 6 blessings, five boys and one girl and I can't imagine my life any different! Our oldest turned 10 this July and our youngest will turn 2 in two weeks. We live in the Midwest and are enjoying beautiful color this fall, although below normal temps which is not my favorite. I love the heat which is something we did not experience enough of this summer. We live on close to 5 acres in the country with the state forest practically right out our door. It is the perfect place to raise our energetic boys with many places to explore and play and imagine. Our little Miss enjoys doing everything with her brothers although she is still very much a girl.

On the homeschool front I mainly use the Charlotte Mason method reading a lot of books and doing hands-on things. For history we are using Mystery of History. We are part of a homeschool group through an area church that is growing each year and offering more and more options of classes and field trips. I have found this year that while there are so many things that I want the kids to be involved in and while they are great opportunities, we can't do them all. We did join the Physical Ed. class that meets twice a month and on that same day are also meeting with a group of homeschoolers that are going through the book "Exploring Creation Through Astronomy" where we do the projects as a group.

Once a month we are part of a Nature Club that meets at various nature centers in our area. We are encouraged to take nature walks and journal what we discover. Last month we were able to go wading in a river catching various water bugs and fish and I also enjoyed putting on waders and trying my hand at catching something. Of course I caught nothing but my boys made sure to show me how it was done. :)-

Through our own church we are involved twice a month in an art class that as parents we take turn teaching. This year we are hoping to do more with an Usborne Art book that is full of wonderful ideas, although I have also found some websites with step-by-step projects that are beautiful. Today we will be finishing up a mixed media project and I can't wait to see the results! It involved watercolor and making a mosaic with painted eggshells.

That is part of our life and homeschooling in a nutshell. Please come back and visit! I love to get to know bloggers and have found through homeschool blogger many like-minded "friends" who I would enjoy knowing in real life.

Have a Wonderful Day!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Birthday Girl

Today Missy Blue turned 4 years old! She is our little sweetheart (and has taken to calling her baby brother "my sweetheart" in a sing songy voice). She most certainly is a girly girl but will get right in there with her big brothers. If they play war, she plays along but with her pink gun. If they play with cars, she will too driving the cars that are pink or purple. Thankfully they include her in most everything they do, except for maybe legos which is probably why she has asked for the pink box of legos for her birthday. :)

Missy can be a little bossy and Baby Boy gets the brunt of that but she is also is very loving and nurturing. Missy loves music, always bouncing up and down to the beat and makes up her own songs. She enjoys shopping which I am so thankful for, although, she is even slower than I am when it comes to looking at everything and that is not a good thing. We all enjoy the differences our little girl brings to our household of many boys and are so thankful that God blessed us with Missy Blue!

Missy at 1 year old.

A snow cone to match her beautiful eyes.

The boys liked this one as her hair was flying through the air as she walked toward me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Show & Tell Friday -- Mom T-Shirts

While I am not a big t-shirt wearer I do enjoy a nice t-shirt that expresses some sort of sentiment or shows how I feel about something/someone. I found Mommy t-shirts online that I really liked but alas they only went up to "Mommy of 5" and so in searching more found another t-shirt that I enjoyed. I thought maybe this would help in deterring the question, "Are they all yours?" And after my dear friend (and Pastor's wife) gave birth to her 10th child last month I thought it was the perfect time to get a t-shirt for her and for myself. (They also were on sale which was perfect timing).

If you want a Mom t-shirt of your own and they have many varieties check out Couture Moms.

To see more Show & Tells visit Mary at Raising 4 Godly Men

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Motor Home Living

I was asked awhile ago where we all sleep in our motor home and so now that we are getting ready to put our motor home in storage before the snow flies, I am finally getting around to telling you. Our motor home is a Coachman Class C - 30 feet in length (if that makes any difference to you). We mainly use it during race season to tow the race trailer and then we stay at the track. We have used it at campgrounds from time to time.

John and I sleep above the drivers seats. He is near the front window as I get claustrophobic being closed in on all sides. There is a curtain that we can close but again, I don't like to be blocked in. We have a set of bunk beds in the back bedroom and that arrangement has changed from year to year. The big boys used to be in there but this year we put the three youngest in the back to hopefully let them sleep longer in the morning. That doesn't really happen though as it is quite bright in the mornings and no one is ever quiet.

We had two eating areas - one in the back bedroom that we only use for sleeping and the other eating area John removed this summer to make room for the boys to sleep up front on the floor. Now we try to eat outside on a portable table. It is cramped but it works, especially seeing as we only really sleep in it. 
Fortunately this season we did not have any race weekends with rain otherwise we might have been stuck inside.

The nice feature is a walk-through bathroom which means it is larger, not just a tiny room you get stuck in. Although we tend to use the portable toilets at the track since we don't have sewer hookups there.

Now that racing is over, at least in the near future, John is contemplating selling it, but we'll see. Just another decision to make. Ideally, if we want to continue this mode of travel, one bump-out would be really helpful as with constantly growing children, we won't fit much longer.

George is on the couch, Pete on the floor and Re-Pete on the cushions from the eating area.

Pack 'n' Play on the folded down table. Missy on the bottom and Tank on top. We used to have a blockade to use for a baby/toddler on the seating area but that doesn't work as well as they can climb out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Racing -- End of Season

John completed this trying season of racing labor day weekend and he finished well! The Crandon race in September is always one of my favorites as it is festive with a parade on Friday and lots of celebration and fireworks at night. The only downside is that there are tons of people and it is a little crazy that way. It is a small town but for this race they estimated 45,000 people there!  John wanted to end the season on a good note being that it has been such a struggle. He looked good at practice and we were happy about that.

The first race he started in the back row and was not able to get the holeshot making it harder to get to the front. He ended up finishing fourth and we were thankful that he finished!

Sunday's race we were excited for but it was also a little emotional as John had just sold his car (I'll tell you more in another post). All I wanted at that point was for him to get on the podium. This time he was able to start in the front row as he finally had enough points to earn him the spot but was on the inside making it harder to push ahead. There was a lot of carnage this race and thankfully John was able to avoid that even when there was a spinout right in front of him. It was an exciting race and John came in 3rd! The kids and I raced to try and see him on the podium one last time but could only really see him on the big screen as there were way too many people.

And so, we are done for the year and we'll see what the future holds.

Always a winner to me! Getting out of his Pro Super Buggy one final time...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Enjoying Math for a change

We loosely started school last week doing the things that we have on hand and beginning new things as they arrive in the mail. This summer seems to have gotten away from me and I never did get a chance to plan and order until I absolutely had to. Anyway, George's new math program arrived last week and I LOVE IT and so does he! He has never really enjoyed math and even though it is not his strong point he has done fine with it .

We began George using Saxon which went well but it was very repetitive and I don't think he caught onto some concepts very well. Last year we tried Math-U-See which starts off good and gives a different way to look at math problems (which I needed) but not one of the boys enjoyed it. Once in awhile I think part of George's problem had to do with my lack of patience when he didn't "get it" and I thought he should.  So, when a friend of mine told me about Teaching Textbooks and how well it was working for her son I looked into it and ordered it for George this year. It is a wonderful program written for homeschoolers. I like the fact that he can do everything on the computer and it reads the problem to him and so it is visual and auditory. When he answers if it is correct it gives him an encouraging comment (something his Mother can learn from!) and if it is incorrect it will allow him to try again and always will show the solution so he knows for next time. It also grades each lesson and quiz so all I need to do is check how he did and can see the problems he missed.

Now instead of the groaning when I tell George it is time for math he is actually asking me if he can work on math and will keep going rather than just doing one lesson. That in itself is worth the more pricey program! The only downside is that the other boys really want to do math on the computer also but the program does not have their level out yet. Hopefully next year!

If you have a child who dreads doing math and it isn't alway clicking for them check out Teaching Textbooks. They have Math 4 - Pre-Calculus.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More kittens!

You may recall that at the beginning of June our cat Jumper had kittens and within two weeks they all had died. Now I wanted to get her fixed right away after that and knew I only had a window of opportunity but didn't realize just how small that was. In finding out the price the vet charges my friend had recommended the humane society that does it for a reasonable amount. The only problem being that they couldn't get her in right away. By that time I knew she was probably expecting and she had noticeable signs early on or maybe I just knew what to look for. Sure enough, she got bigger and bigger and I began to wonder how many kittens were in there as she looked ready to burst!  I had figured her to be due the first week in Sept.

Jumper ended up giving birth Aug. 22nd which happened to be the day that George had friends over to celebrate his birthday (a little late). Again, I missed the birth but the boys alerted me that she had her kittens as she came out with her tail wet and was now skinny. Thankfully we were able to find them shortly after. The day before I had been walking around our yard with Jumper and she disappeared for awhile into a heap of wood behind our shed. I figured that was where she went and sure enough there were the kittens beneath the wood in a grassy area. She had nine kittens but two were not alive. This time we had two black and six orange and they seemed to have a better start than the previous litter that had been born stuck in an old couch. Jumper had cleaned them all off and taken care of them as she should.

George's friend who loves animals helped get the kittens moved into an old desk cabinet with blankets we had ready. Jumper also seemed more confident in feeding them. We lost one kitten a day later that had been the runt. I wasn't sure what to expect this time around but so far all is well. The kittens are now 17 days old and getting bigger every day. They grow amazingly fast! We are able to handle them a little more although can't wait until their claws retract so they aren't getting stuck on us. They each look so sweet with their eyes open, although a few are crusty the past few days so I am gently cleaning them. The kids are enjoying these little bundles of fur and are helpful in taking care of them.
  Next week they should be walking around more which will be fun to watch!

Anyone interested in a kitten???

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mmmm Monday -- Country-Style Tomatoes

Yay! It is finally the time of summer when tomatoes are ripe! After lamenting over the pathetic tomatoes at the grocery store that we buy for most of the year I simply can't get enough of fresh grown tomatoes! Taste of Home had quite a few tomato recipes in last months issue and I couldn't wait to try a few. This weekend I made country-style tomatoes and they were so good! Now, my family didn't all agree with me but they enjoy fresh tomatoes and will eat them like an apple and so cooked tomatoes just don't appeal to the majority. Thankfully we had company and they helped me eat these up and I also did halve the recipe.

I can't get enough of garlic and so the filling was just perfect!

Country-Style Tomatoes

4 lg. tomatoes
1 8 oz. pkg.creme cheese, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1- 1/2 tsp. minced fresh basil
1 garlic glove
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup flour
1 cup panko (Japenese) bread crumbs
1 egg
1 T. milk
3 T. butter
3 T. olive oil

Cut each tomato into four thick slices; place on paper towels to drain.

Beat the cream cheese, parsley, basil, garlic, and salt until blended.

Spread cream cheese mixture over eight tomato slices and top with remaining slices making a "sandwich".

Place flour and bread crumbs in separate bowls. In another bowl, whisk egg and milk. Coat the top and bottom of each sandwich with flour, dip into egg mixture, then coat with crumbs. (This is a little messy!)

Heat butter and oil over medium-hot heat in skillet. Fry tomato sandwiches in batches for 3 -4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Show & Tell Friday -- Girly Hair

Missy Blue has the most beautiful long blond hair. Her hair has been halfway down her back since she was 3. I don't think I have ever had hair that long in my lifetime! Having a girl has been fun and I always enjoy doing something with her hair, at least when I have the time for it. While I can do the common pigtails and braids I wanted to find some new ideas and came across a wonderful blog of little girls hairdos complete with picture instructions. If you have a little girl and would like some new ideas visit  Girly Do's By Jenn .

Here was my first attempt at a hairstyle earlier this summer. The only problem is Missy has very fine hair and so it doesn't stay in place very well and she always has wisps of hair around her face. She doesn't always want to sit but I have been able to occupy her by giving her make-up brushes, jewelry, and all sorts of girly things to tinker with. Missy is very happy to model her new hair for her brothers who have been quite impressed and of course Daddy always enjoys his beautiful little girl when her hair isn't falling all over her face.

I really like the look of the knots in the front and they are so easy. I can use that with other hairstyles as well.

This is not a Sunday morning hairstyle! :)

For more Show & Tells visit Mary at Raising 4 Godly Men.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Racing -- disappointed again.

For those of you who are interested in John's racing here is a quick update. He raced in Bark River, MI this past weekend which is his favorite track. Of course in keeping with how the season has gone he was working hard the past two weeks in-between races to fix various problems. (I probably forgot to blog about the Oshkosh race but he had amazing races that weekend with a podium win for one of them!) After his practice run on Friday night two bolts from the power steering were sheered off. That was an easy fix though as he replaced the bolts.

Saturday's race John had a great start getting himself up into fourth in the first lap coming on strong but that didn't last long. Another car spun out in front of John causing him to run into the car and come to a stop. He was stuck there for a short time trying to restart the engine. After he got it going he was going much slower. As it turns out John had lost power steering and had to "muscle" his way the rest of the race. Meaning that the wheel is shaking all over the place and he has to hold tight to keep it straight in addition to shifting, etc. He was able to finish in 5th but was disappointed and had very sore arms. He again replaced the bolts that had sheered off hoping it would hold.

Sunday's race started off good again. He was going strong and was in fourth place about halfway through when they called a "competition yellow" which bunches all of the cars up to make it more interesting for those watching. It can be a good thing if you are in the back but if you are up front, not always. This time for John after the slow-down those bolts sheered off again and he lost his power steering. He pulled off the track not finishing the race as it was too much to try and muscle through again.

John and I have talked about how good and seemingly easy the past years have been and are stressing to the children how life will not always be easy and that we need to accept the bad right along with the good.

In looking the car over John would need to replace a part with the power steering that he does not want to spend the money on and so that is the end of our race season. :( He is still contemplating what to do in the future but at this time he is planning a year off.

I can't image a summer without racing as it has become a way of life that began even before we were married -- racing 17 years. It is a good family time, (at least when Daddy doesn't have to spend as much time on his car) and the boys will miss it. His dream situation would be to drive for a team where a crew works on his vehicle, most likely a truck, and he gets paid to drive.
We'll see what the future holds.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

George's 10th Birthday

George turned double digits on Monday! I had not been looking forward to that number as it feels like we are moving way too close to the teen years and I am not ready. He was certainly excited to turn 10 though!

On Monday we did a few things to celebrate and then after John's softball game that night we took him without his siblings out for custard. He was so thrilled to be able to have custard in a waffle cone. He always wants one when we go out but to keep the price down with 8 cones to buy the kids all get the basic sugar cone or a dish. So that was a treat. He didn't seem too sure about sitting in a booth with just Mommy and Daddy though. We do take him out one on one but he was getting antsy sitting and just talking to each other. I do think he enjoyed himself though.

Tonight was the big birthday celebration with family. As I type he is still awake at 10:30 p.m. too excited to sleep. He finished building every lego set he received and is now putting coins he has saved into his new coin collecting book.

His gifts. His siblings chipped in their money to buy him legos this year too. They were so excited to be able to do that. The shoes are a bit worn already as his Grandparents gave them to him early since he really needed them.

We had his traditional meal (he is so big on traditions -- I tried to talk him into going out for pizza but he looked at me as if I was from another planet). So it was kabobs, corn on the cob, fruit salad, and his favorite pasta salad. He really enjoys Lego Indiana Jones and so I found a picture of a cake online that I was able to use as a reference. It didn't turn out exactly as the picture but nice anyway. I frosted it and George put the decorations in place.

This is supposed to depict the scene from the Indiana Jones lego game -- Battle on the Bridge. I don't like how the waterfall looks on this picture.

Those are milk chocolate rocks at the base that looked so real. I used fondant for the vines. Pete and Re-Pete kneaded the color into it for me.

I am so thankful for George! He is my right-hand man and helps in too many ways to count.

Happy Double-Digit Birthday my sweet George!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2nd Race Weekend -- A couple hang-ups

John worked long and hard on getting his engine ready for the race a last weekend ago. (Yes, I know I am actually posting 3 weeks later but better late than never. I actually wrote this shortly after but never posted as I didn't have a picture. I am back-dating to keep in line). He was able to get a new head for the engine and in the past few weeks checked and double checked all he could think of to hopefully have his engine running as it should. As the season has not been what we have hoped for we pretty much were counting on the worst happening.

I was to drive our van and meet John at my parents house. He had taken the motor home to work with him and my parents were going to drive our van up the next day. I spent the day with last minute baking, etc. and didn't realize what little Missy Blue was up to. I had the children all finally in the van and ready to go. As I turned the key I hear a clicking noise and I assumed the battery was dead. I remembered then that the van alarm had gone off earlier as Missy was playing inside with the locks but I didn't think to check what she had been up to. It seems she probably had turned all of the lights on and they stayed on for most of the day.

I called John at work and he couldn't believe it but thankfully his car was home to use in jumping the battery so the boys and I went in search of the jumper cables. They helped me to get the hoods lifted and find the battery. (I did know these things but the boys insisted that I had no clue what I was doing). I was amazed to see how they flocked around the hood of the vehicles as if drawn to the engine. Must be a boy thing. John talked me through getting the cables hooked up as I had not done that for some time. Of course it didn't work at first and I kept rearranging until I did get a spark. John realized that the posts on his battery were corroded and so I needed to make sure the cables were really gripping it. That did it and the van started up. Thank you Lord! We can finally be on our way.

The rest of the weekend was a good one. John's parents were there as always and mine always come for the Bark River race. John raced on Saturday and it was an exciting one but he still had some problems with his carburetor causing him to be slower than he would like. It looked as if he would come in fifth place but at the finish line another car made a move to try and get ahead which caused his car to stall and John slid into fourth! We relaxed a little that evening with the kids swimming at the pool at my parents hotel but we went back and John took apart the carburetor and cleaned that all out finding a broken spring. He was tired out that night and his eyes hurt from trying to see those small parts. Racing is not coming quite as easy for him this year.

Sunday he got his car all ready to go and we headed to Bark River Bible church which we always enjoy so much. It was a beautiful day and John was ready to race. He started in last position and throughout the race worked his way to the top finishing in second! We were all so excited to see him back on the podium! It was a good weekend and this time John can relax a little more between races.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Show & Tell Friday -- Patriotic Tie Dye T-Shirts

We often get the children new flag shirts for the 4th of July but this year I thought it would be fun to have them make tie-dye t-shirts. We looked online for designs and ideas and they all agreed they liked a bulls-eye design. I bought white shirts and a tie-dye kit with an easy squirt bottle method. I don't know that this will be as long lasting of dye and the colors weren't as intense but it was easy and fun to do. I even let Missy do her own. The only thing they didn't like was waiting for the finished shirt which was 6 - 8 hours. They also would prefer a rainbow colored shirt but we'll save that for another day.

Pete and Re-Pete squirting the dye onto their shirts.

Even Missy could handle this and surprisingly with little mess.

The gang at the parade including my nephew who we also made a shirt for. We had quite a few comments that day -- I suppose we do anytime they are dressed alike.

For more Show & Tells visit Mary at Raising 4 Godly Men.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fruit Fly Be Gone!

I returned home Sunday night after a race weekend to find bananas in our hanging basket loaded with fruit flies. Moving them made the flies swarm and it was bad! I recalled a remedy I read possibly on my "blog friend's" site last summer and so I tried it and it worked GREAT! By morning I had a bowl full of fruit flies, 65 to be exact (George counted). If you need to be rid of fruit flies give this a try.

1. Pour cider vinegar in a bowl.
2. Drizzle a bit of dish soap around on top of the vinegar.
3. Do NOT mix!
4. Let it sit and catch the fruit flies.

Monday, July 13, 2009

1st Race Part 2 -- Engine Problems

My memory being what it is (horrible!) the details of the last race are no longer fresh in my mind and so here is a brief “rest of the story”.

After leaving early that Friday morning we arrived at the race track in Crandon and set up camp. John planned on testing out his car during practice early evening. Last year he had the opportunity to test out the car weeks before the race season began which he thought was an advantage but this year it didn’t work out that way and so he was anxious to see how the car would run.

During practice he had a few laps and looked good and I got my practice taking pictures with my new camera.

Unfortunately, that was short-lived and a rod put a hole in the engine and that was the end of that.

The hole was in his back-up engine but yet that meant he spent the rest of the night putting in his new engine. The next morning though he was unable to keep the new engine running and ended up scratching the race. He was initially disappointed but honestly, I think he was prepared from all the difficulty leading up to this point. We enjoyed the rest of the weekend watching races and the boys and John had fun racing their rc trucks on the special off-road track. In the midst of that John was planning and getting things in motion to get his engine fixed and ready for the next race.

John taking a turn using Re-Pete's remote. He had to race something and that is actually how he got his start in racing -- racing RC cars. :)

Pete's truck is the blue and Re-Pete's is the white racing on the off-road rc track.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Show & Tell Friday -- True Woman '10

You may recall last fall I attended the True Woman conference sponsored by Revive Our Hearts. In the last few weeks they have announced that there will be three True Woman conferences in three different cities next year! (Chattanooga, Indianapolis, and Fort Worth)  It was a wonderful experience and I took many truths home with me from that weekend. I encourage you to attend a conference next year if at all possible -- you will not be disappointed. Registration opens August 1st and last year it filled up FAST!  View the promotional video below...

You can view more Show & Tells by visiting CanadaGirl at Raising 4 Godly Men.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

1st Race Part 1 -- The Lord's Protection

Last weekend was John's first race of the season and we were very unsure of how things would go. In getting the car ready this spring he has encountered problem after problem and began to wonder if he was even going to be racing. In the end everything came together with a lot of hard work but the car was ready to go.

We left last Thursday and needed to fill up with propane about 1/2 hour from our house. As soon as we arrived John said he braked and felt it get loose. He checked and found that the brake line had broke. He slowly and carefully drove about 5 minutes away to a car dealer to see if it could be fixed. They could but it wouldn't be finished until around noon the next day seeing as it was now 4 p.m. and they closed at 5 p.m.

My parents live a few minutes away and so my Mom came to pick me and a few of the children up and then I shuttled back and forth to pick up more and then get John. We then took their car home to pick up our van, go back to pick up the children and return home yet again. The children were not happy about this turn of events. They had been so excited to go racing and sleep in the motor home that night. We had a good night of rest though and got up bright and early, had a treat of a McD's breakfast to save time (a rare occurrence) and thankfully found that the motor home was already done. Yippee!

I cannot tell you how thankful John and I were for the Lord's protection over us! John told me many scenarios that could have transpired with the brake line but rather than happening on a busy highway or in the middle of traffic or even driving down the big hill near our home, it broke as we stopped in a parking lot. With this happening though we talked about the weekend ahead and the prospect of something else going wrong as with all that had occurred thus far it seemed as if maybe John was not supposed to race.

Stay tuned for Part 2 -- when I have a chance to type more...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And then there were...

If you have wondered where I have been I have found it easier to keep up being on facebook and only writing a line every few days rather than posting. Although, I have been wanting to post for the past week about our kittens but was busy getting ready for a trip and in the midst of that trying to take care of kittens.

It began early last week with one kitten dying -- and then there were 4.

After that I really took a look at them and found that another kitten also seemed to be getting weaker. I began to supplement first making my own formula but then ran out to the pet store and picked up kitten formula but it wasn't long and it died -- and then there were 3.

I was determined not to loose anymore and as I looked at our little black kitten he seemed to also be getting skinnier and I began supplementing with formula using an eyedropper. I think we fed him for two days but he never perked up and while my friend was attempting to hand-feed him he died -- and then there were 2.

So, we were down to our little orange kitten and white kitten and they had been the strongest from the beginning always pushing their way in and getting to the food first. I thought they would be fine but the orange one developed a weepy eye and I began to wonder but gently washed it with warm water. Sure enough, the next day he began to stop nursing and seemed much weaker same as the others had. I again supplemented with formula but was getting really tired of trying to keep up with this and had no idea what we would do seeing as we were leaving the next day for a race. I know that people go either way on this and some say "whatever happens happens" which is the route that John would take but when I would go in the garage and hear them crying I couldn't stand it and felt like I needed to try something. We prayed for wisdom in this and the little orange kitten died the next morning and I was a little relieved to have one less worry  -- and then there was 1.

Our neighbor agreed to come and check on our little white kitten while we were away and while I had my doubts of having a kitten when were returned I did hold out hope as he seemed strong and had been the only one with it's sweet little blue eyes open. She called while we were away and didn't think he would make it and that he was getting weaker. When we came home Sunday we found that he had indeed also died, and possibly soon before we arrived. The Mama cat didn't know what to do. She kept rearranging herself as if trying to figure a way to get the kitten to nurse. After I removed it from the box she kept looking around the garage trying to find him and was meowing like crazy. All evening long she would go back to check and still the next morning she lay outside of the box as if she still needed to protect them. So, that was kind of hard to see.

The kids have been fine with this. They didn't get too attached because it was too early for them to interact with the kittens and so they only had watched. Pete and Re-Pete did help me with the feedings while holding a kitten in a blanket so it was a good experience that way. I was probably the most emotionally-involved as I had given a lot of my time to them. And so our garage is quiet again and Jumper is out and about much more as nothing is holding her as close to home.

I had called the vet during that process and they thought the Mama passed something onto the kittens. Others had warned me that the first litter doesn't always make it and so I was prepared to loose a few but had hoped for at least one. I talked to a friend who wondered if they had worms and now in researching that think it probably was the case. I had not been able to de-worm Jumper early on as she got pregnant not long after she arrived. Anyway, it has been an experience and I learned so much. Not only about cats and how to care for them but about myself and realizing I can do things that I didn't think I ever would
. Strange for a person who didn't like cats in the first place.

My favorite picture of the three kittens when they were thriving.

Hand-feeding one of the kittens.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Amazing Birthday Gift

Last night we celebrated my birthday with my family. I had been anticipating this for awhile as I knew that there was a big secret as to what my gift was. I would have had no suspicions except for the fact that my husband left clues along the way and knowingly so.

The first clue was when he mentioned something to my Mom (in my presence) about getting his message about chipping in. Okay, that got me thinking about what would he need to have people chip in for. Well, there was one thing I had asked for but I didn't think that was it. There was a dream wish for an SLR digital camera but I didn't think it could be that as we have talked about getting one for years but the price is always higher than we would like. My pink camera John bought me last year met its demise you may recall in the bathtub and while it functioned okay it didn't take the best of pictures. But alas, I figured I would make due for awhile.

The second clue was the fact that John has been limiting my spending a little more as of late and when I asked if I could purchase something he said we just didn't have the finances right now because he bought something and he wished he could tell me but couldn't. So I began to ponder that maybe just maybe he had bought me my dream camera but I didn't want to get my hopes too high.

Last night as my Mom walked in the door I noticed that she had a gift along which made me wonder and I said, "I thought everyone was chipping in, now I'm confused". She was glad for my confusion to keep me guessing. Sure enough, everyone arrived with a gift in hand. And my in-laws had given me a gift when they had visited.

The time arrived for present opening and it began with a small book from my grandparents who said there was "more to come". I next opened a memory card from my grandpa which I thought kind of odd for him to buy for me. I received a beautiful bracelet watch from my sister and her family next but they had more to come also.

I began to really know what was coming when I opened a larger camera bag from my parents and I began to get teary eyed. They said I needed a new one for my pink camera. Okay, sure. I next opened the rest of my sister's gift -- a zoom lens that I could barely see through my blurred vision. Last came my gift from John and the children and it was my new Canon Rebel Xsi digital camera!!!! I cannot tell you how happy I was. That was a GREAT surprise and John had orchestrated the whole thing.  One of my birthdays I would like to be tear-free but I tell you, my family has the gift of making me feel special and knowing just what I like. It doesn't help that I am a softy.    THANK YOU so much to all of you who contributed to making my birthday amazing! 

Just ahead -- beautiful pictures with my new camera!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kittens have arrived!

You may remember back in March when we found three cats in our garage who seemed to have adopted us. Well, they won me over seeing as they are the sweetest lovable cats (I thought all cats were snobby as some I have known) and have stayed ever since. Seeing as I am allergic to them they are outdoor cats. When I posted about them I mentioned how we found out if they were male and female and how we assumed that Jumper would be having kittens. Evidently that did not take the first time as if it would have she would have had them around Memorial Day. Anyway, we did know she was expecting as we watched her belly get larger and saw other signs also. We knew it was getting closer as she managed to sneak in an opening door almost faster than you can blink and somehow managed to locate where the beds were. We did begin to keep our old garage open and prepared locations for her to have the kittens and tried to get her interested.

Sunday evening we came home and the boys went outside to play. They came running in saying that Jumper was skinny now which had been a question I asked them every morning when they fed the cats. Sure enough, she was and her tail was really wet also so we knew she must have just recently delivered. Next came the task of finding them. Jumper was all over us and obviously wasn't going to lead us to her babies. John heard mewing noises and found that she had delivered them in an old couch we had that was tipped upside down (don't worry, it was junk anyway). Somehow she managed to get them under the cushions three on one side and three on the other. She could not get to any of them to nurse so just sat there watching. I got her out and we closed the door so I could get the kittens put into the box we had prepared. I did not think that I would be able to do any of this but with my plastic kitchen gloves I can touch anything (I think).

She had six kittens but one did not make it as it had never gotten out of the sack and it seemed quite small to me. After we had the kittens settled we let Jumper in and she lay down by them but didn't seem to know what to do so I helped position the kittens near her to nurse. What a sweet little sound!

Jumper did not remove two of the placentas and I had hoped that she would get around to it but she didn't and as I saw it was starting to slow one down from getting to where it wanted to go I removed them for her with the assistance of my animal lover -- Pete. He did think it very gross but
he stayed by my side anyway. She had two black, two orange (I guess technically called red), and one white kitten.

The children are so excited and wanting to hold the kittens but it is too soon so they only watch quietly. This evening unfortunately John found that one of the orange ones had died. He tried to revive it by rubbing on it but nothing. The children each took a turn holding it and studying it's features (yes, they did wash their hands after). The other four kittens seem to be vigorous and now do fit much better in line while nursing. We'll have to keep an eye on them.

Very exciting. It will be fun to watch their development each day.

Taken right after they were moved into the box and Jumper joined them. You can see some are still a little wet.

I loved this sweet little orange face. Unfortunately that is the one that died this evening.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Show & Tell Friday -- Scripture T-Shirts

I want to let you know about a great online t-shirt company I recently came across. It is Wild Olive Trees created by three regular Moms that God brought together. They make fun yet classy t-shirts for women with a scripture verse on the back. I am so excited to order one for myself but it is so hard to make a decision of which one, although I lean toward Such Things (I love that verse!). Their slogan is "Get Your Verse On" which gives us the opportunity to share our faith and spread the Word of God wherever we go.

The newest design is a t-shirt for charity using ideas from MckMama (Baby Stellen's Mama) called "Unfolding" using the verse "He who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6

MckMama said the word unfolding reminded her of the phrase "unpacking scripture" and she described  it "as normal emerging for us like the wings of an unexpectedly beautiful butterfly, born out of the pain and struggle of emerging from a dark, restrictive cocoon."

So, what are you waiting for -- Get Your Verse On!
And for more Show & Tells please visit Mary at Raising 4 Godly Men.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Mmmm Monday -- Tortillas

Last week we had a family gathering for Memorial Day and my brother-in-law made roast vegetables: zucchini, onions, peppers, mushrooms that were really good but had a lot left-over. I took some to use in fajitas adding chicken with seasonings. I did not have enough tortillas on-hand however and while I have made them before wasn't sure I wanted to attempt that again but didn't want John to have to stop at the store on his way home.

Last time I made tortillas I didn't think they tasted that good or were worth the time it took to roll out the dough. But, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. (I can hear the little girl in the black and white version of Miracle on 34th Street saying that). So, I made tortillas again with a few additions to give more flavor and let the dough rest for an hour first which I read was helpful and this time they turned out great. I can definitely see why people make them rather than buy them. It also is much faster when you have a helper to cook and flip the tortillas while you roll the dough. This is a big recipe but they were all gobbled up. Yum!

5 cups flour (I did half whole-wheat)
1/2 cup shortening (I used coconut oil)
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup boiling water

(I added a little tomato sauce, chili pepper, garlic powder and cilantro for flavor)

  1. In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt. Mix in the shortening until the mixture is the texture of oatmeal. (I use my kitchen aid which works great) Make a well in the center, and pour in the boiling water. Mix with a fork until all of the water is evenly incorporated. Sprinkle with a bit of additional flour, and knead until the dough does not stick to your fingers. The dough should be smooth.

  2. Make balls the size of golf balls. Place them on a tray, and cover with a cloth. Let stand for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours. (I like that as I could make the dough the night before)

  3. Heat a griddle or large frying pan over high heat. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a tortilla to your preferred thinness. Fry one at a time. Place on the griddle for 10 seconds, as soon as you see a bubble on the top, flip the tortilla over. Let it cook for about 30 seconds, then flip and cook the other side for another 30 seconds. Roll out the next tortilla while you wait for that one to cook. Repeat until all of the balls have been cooked. Tortillas can be refrigerated or frozen.

My leftovers (for a brief moment) they were gobbled up not long after

Pete wanted to try his hand at flipping and he did a great job and it speeded up the process.

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