Monthly Archives: August 2007

Flashback Friday

The triplet cousins… Though one was born in March, one in April, & one in May, they are only five weeks apart.

Here they are then in their matching “Very Hungry Caterpillar” outfits…

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…and four years later.

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We’re saving these for their graduations & weddings.:)


Becoming Jane

My dear sweet husband took me out to see “Becoming Jane” last night. During closing credits, he did have to comment about his being the only man in the theater – there was one other (in his seventies). Anyway, …LOVED IT!! If you enjoyed Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, you will love this one. It had more “racey” scenes than the others, but it’s still rated PG.

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…Have wheels; will give you money!

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We had our first family game night of the new school year last night to start the scheduling routine back up. This was the first time all three children participated in a game of LIFE together. Have you played the new version? It kicks it up a notch. When I was a kid, my cousin & I played the old one for hours. We loved it! We named everyone in the car, traded cars in for newer models, etc. My kids now like to do the same thing. They still have those little plastic mini vans with pink & blue peg people. Callie named my twin girls for me – Rosie & Daffodil – & was oh, so disappointed when she didn’t get to adopt her own set. But she was a movie star, so hey! I was a cop with a measly $50,000 salary, but if anyone spun a 10, I got $5000 from them for speeding. Anders was the accountant & cleaned house when we all landed on tax day – we had to pay our taxes to him. Nate was the teacher among us with a $90,000 salary – gotta find out where he landed THAT teaching job!!

Boy, would my cousin love the new version! You get career cards & salary cards, & even house deeds. You might end up with a beach house, or a trailer, or a split level. They did away with fire insurance & that annoying colored strip that we used to use for the stock market that was always the first thing to get all bent up & trashed.

Being banker kept me quite busy, since I’m the only one who really knows how to run the thing yet. Anders just kept handing me money for no reason! That, & his little hand was perpetually hovered over the spinner asking if it was his turn. So, with enough action having four players, Keith asked if anyone would mind his bowing out to put together Anders’ new Big Wheel. I’m not sure anyone noticed in all the commotion. They did notice however, at the end of the game when the new Big Wheel was assembled & all “sticker-fied”. It’s a hit. He had to sit on it all through devotions & prayer time.

Anders has loved his Big Wheel this last year or so, but the handles started falling off a little while back every time he’d get on to ride. He’s been riding it with just the stem part to hold on to & steer. It was really a sad, sad sight. We figured we could afford to replace it for him seeing as how he has loved that thing to it’s literal death & he really hasn’t gotten many new toys over the years – hasn’t needed to with all the hand-me-down toys from his siblings! When I got on line yesterday to look for a replacement, a seemingly simple task, much to my surprise, in July the manufacturer for the original Big Wheel went under & they are no longer making them! We really wanted the original – no electronic gadgets or souped up whatever – just the good-old-fashioned-fun Big Wheel. But, alas, summer is coming to an end & who knows how soon another manufacturer will pick up the business again. I’m sure they won’t let it go too long, but by next spring, Anders may very well be on to Callie’s old bike in the garage waiting for him. So, we broke down & got a souped up version. He now is the proud rider of a big-wheel-type motorcycle complete with lights & motorcyle sounds when you turn the ignition. We have one happy little Harley hog zooming around our driveway today!

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The Blessing of Family

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We took this picture on Mom’s porch last week when my brothers were in. These are all the cousins so far – seven girls & six boys. Cute crew, huh?

The last week has been so fun watching the kids gorge out on cousin time! The moment their eyes pop open in the morning, they are asking when they can be with Sammy or if Sarah could come over. Valerie & I are working on teaching them to ask before dashing over to the other house at any given moment & how to knock, not just appear in the house. We have about two weeks here to let them spend pretty much as much time as they want together before school starts & we then we will be getting a schedule going. I’m also trying to keep our kids out of their hair too much over there so they can get settled in & acclimated!

My favorite past time right now is to eavesdrop in on them. It is hilarious to hear the conversations that go on! The three girls like to go up to Mom’s clubhouse (the top of the playground) & make potholders in the afternoon, & when the wind is blowing right, I can pretty much hear every word. Yesterday they were up there for about two hours discussing which song was “correct”, my months of the year song or the one Valerie made up. It was too funny! Speaking of potholders, their goal is to make enough to buy American Girl dolls. Now, the way I figure it, they will have to sell about… what, 50 of them at something like $10 a crack for this plan to work out!! Have you seen the prices on those dolls?! But you have to admire their entrepreneurial spirit. They’ve also been making lemonade signs & have dreams of starting up a stand out front. Mind you, we live on a back road out in the country! Oh, well. We shall see. Fun times!!


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For those of you interested in pictures of our recent great adventure, you can check them all out by clicking “more photos” at the bottom of the Flickr strip to the right. To enlarge the picture, just click on it. To make it bigger yet, click on the magnifying glass with the plus sign on it right beside where it says “all sizes”. (That’s for you, Mom. I know how you like to blow ’em up really big to see every precious expression:) I downloaded like 90 some pictures! Just in case you didn’t see the rundown of the whole trip, it can be found two posts below. Enjoy.:)


The Battle of the Bulge

“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

I’ve had that verse card pinched into my recipe holder on my kitchen counter staring at me for the last year or so reminding me of what I’ve got to do. This week I’ve actually started putting it back into practice in a war I like to call “The Battle of the Bulge” or “Operation Dumbo Drop”.

Thought I’d share a few awesome recipes my mother-in-law sent my way (she’s in this war with us!). The first is zero points if you go by Weight Watchers Points system. It is great to fill in the cracks like at four o’clock when you’re hungry & have to fix dinner but don’t want to pig out. Or late at night when you’ve got the munchies. It is also a great way to get those veggies in.

Very Veggie Soup
6 cups water with 2 rounded T of chicken boullion
2 (14.5 oz) cans carrots, drained (or you could chop up some fresh instead)
2 (14.5 oz) cans french cut green beans, drained
2 (10 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup minced onions
3 cups (or 1/4 head) shredded cabbage
2 cups (3 or 4 stalks) chopped celery
2 T tomato paste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt

Throw it all in a soup pot & bring to a boil. I kind of like the celery a bit crunchy, so pretty much take it off & let it cool down from there to refrigerate for whenever. Boil longer to soften the celery obviously….Good stuff!

The second recipe is a great one to get that fiber in & tackle the chocolate craving at the same time. I love to bake, so this one has really gotten me excited because I can bake without the guilt here…

Brownie Muffins
3 cups All Bran cereal
2 1/2 cups water
1 low fat brownie mix
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Soak the cereal in the water for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients & mix together. Pour into 24 muffin cups & bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. You will not believe how good these are! They are so moist & chewy. They weigh in at 118 calories, 1 gram of fat, & 3 grams of fiber per muffin!


Hang On & Enjoy the Ride!

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Wow! What a summer. It’s been better ‘un a…, a…, well, I’m not too good at similies (though the fact that I’m not makes me lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon wheel rut! That’s the only one I know. Sorry.), but I did come across a list of hilarious ones while looking, just not one to fit here. Anyway, it’s been real fun, but feels good to get back into a routine again. The next few weeks will be declutter & reorganize time around here in hopes of having everything neat again by September 4th.

Today was the bookshelf & toy box in the north room. Along with that, we are starting back up on nutritious eating again. You know how is when you are traveling & trying to make home repairs, etc. The quickest meals get thrown on the table & nutrition goes out the window! But no more. The fat stops here! I hereby declare war on clutter & flab!! (Wish me luck.)

As far as why I’ve neglected to blog these last few months, I’ll give a quick rundown review of the local happenings to catch you up to speed if you’re interested…

June started out with graduation parties, an open house at church (which I was in charge of), & VBS beginning. We do VBS differently at our church. It meets every Wed. night all summer long. This year we have been teaching the ten commandments & are doing a musical to wrap it up. To end June, Nate & I took a week long tour of DC with my mom to visit my brother & his family there & see the sites. We saw pretty much everything… Smithsonian museums, all the monuments, where Lincoln died, Arlington Cemetery, the White House Visitor’s Center & the toured the Capital building, saw the National Zoo as well as the National Cathedral. It was filled with fun times with family… swimming with the cousins, BBQ, a Korean restaurant, visiting work & school with them, etc.

While we were away, Keith took a history class & Mom watched the kids a few days. Afterward, Keith had assignments to finish up for the class as well as another large assignment to work through for another school project, so he was pretty much computer bound until the day we left on family vacation. When the desktop “blew up” the last day of June, that left me with no means of “computering”, so I took that as a sign to let it go for the summer.:)

The first half of July was devoted to house repairs. The kids’ rooms were in dire need of re-doing, & there were various items around the house that needed to be touched up. Nate’s birthday, July 15th, made a good target to shoot for to get all that stuff done. We enjoyed a neighborhood camp-out in honor of his turning ten, took a couple days to pack & tie up loose ends before the trip, then took off.

We drove to MN July 20th, stayed over two nights to visit Grandmas & work on the “honey do” list a bit, then headed out for the west! The first night, we camped in Walnut Grove, MN. We heard Plum Creek babbling by our tent that night. This was a dream come true for me, a hard core Little House fan! We toured the town, saw the pageant that night, etc. Keith had picked up the audio version of “On the Banks of Plum Creek” for us to listen on our way up to MN, so the kids knew all about the story & were excited to recognize the scenes in the pageant. Okay, I’ll move on & spare you the details!

The next day, we drove on to the Badlands. That night we camped literally nestled in the middle of that awesome landscape (see the picture at the very top). Beautiful! Even though it was 110 degrees, it was dry so not as bad as you might think. Then we drove on to the Black Hills to settle for the next six days. There’s so much to see & do there. We went to a real rodeo in Deadwood, SD, panned for gold & toured a gold mine, saw a couple archeological dig sites, visited a giant reptile zoo, did a drive through zoo with bears & elk, actually drove through a herd of 1500 buffalo! (quite a site), saw lots of prairie dogs, toured an old homestead complete with dugout home, saw the saloon where Wild Bill Hickcok was shot, visited Wall Drug where Anders finally found something to fear – the roaring dino,… Oh yeah, saw Mount Rushmore! (or Mount Mushmore as Anders likes to call it. Every time we’d stop & hike along the way before we got to Mt. R., which took us a couple days, he’d look all around & ask all disappointed like, “Where’s the heads?”), and Crazy Horse, toured the Minuteman Missile site, stopped at the Corn Palace, drove Needles Highway, went through Wind Cave, took the moonlight tour around Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, went up into Montana just to say we were there – had to – we were so close!, visited Dinosaur Park & Storybook Island, stopped by the Center of the Nation (note: nothing there but a cheap flag & pathetic sign in the middle of nowhere), stopped in Iowa on the way back to visit Daddy’s family’s old vacation stomping ground, Lake Okiboji, complete with an amusement park – Arnold’s Park, & headed back to Grandma’s house.

When we landed back in MN, extended family had come in from NC & Texas so we got to have a good visit with Keith’s aunts & uncles. We played lots of cards & talked old family stories (one of the uncles is the family historian). Mexican Train Dominoes & Polish Poker were the games of choice this round. And of course, we played a few rounds of Skip-Bo with Grandma Jensen. It is getting fun with the kids being able to join in on the games. Anders is the lone hold out. Give him a year or two. The men folk took out a GPS & did some geocaching one night. And we just had an all around great time!

The day we returned, early August 7th, my brother & his family were in from DC to visit, so we put unpacking on hold to enjoy the family. Then my other brother came in from PA to join in. All this with my other brother having baby #6 the day we drove back & moving in next door this week has made for plenty of excitement around here! I’m getting a lot better at relaxing & enjoying the moment even if the house is trashed. That was hard for me, but I’ve learned it will all work out after the family gatherings! Enjoy the day!! While family was home, we had an extended family gathering complete with pool party & hog roast. Then we took all the kids to a Donut Man concert & to The Blueberry Patch to do some blueberry picking.

It has been non-stop fun for our family for literally a month! This week has been the start of bringing them down & into some sense of normalcy as well as my getting the Club stuff hashed out on the computer for the next year. The teachers all have their curriculum handbooks & the verse cards are printed up & ready to go. I’m so excited about next year! But first we have the last couple weeks of VBS & a program to perform. I think we’ll be ready! It always feels that way.

Well, that pretty much brings you up to speed around here. Keith is going to be teaching sixth grade this year in a different building, so he’s working on getting his stuff all moved over & set up for the year. All Nate & Callie’s books have come in for their classes next year – I am surrounded by boxes here in the study room! My job is to get the bookshelves reorganized, send off the old books now that the school sent our list, shelve all the materials for this new year, & set up the computers (this year we will have three!) for school to start. Looks like we are in for a great year!

Thank You, Lord, for the great memories we’ve made this summer. Bless this coming school year & all the changes that come with it. May we throw out old habits & start new ones as this new season comes upon us, for Your glory. Thank You for seasons. You sure knew what You where doing when You made them!