Thursday, July 30, 2009

How To Make Ice Tea

I accidentally discovered a new way to make Ice Tea this week.

1. Clean out purse

2. Use tea bags that have been in purse for at least three months

3. Make ice tea like normal

4. Put tea in freezer to cool down faster

5. This step is critical so follow carefully. FORGET ABOUT IT.

6. Take out the next day and Voila -

Iced Tea in a Frosted Mug

Easy Breezy

Don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blog Hop #5 - Favorite Kid's Photo

Welcome Blog hoppers. (is that one word or two?) Thanks for stopping by.

A hard decision, but my favorite picture is of my girls who like to take a sisters picture once a year.

And I love this one of Andrew when he was three.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Superior Rest

I’m a night writer.

Make that late night writer. As in the wee small hours of the morning, when the house is blissfully quiet and I can think without distraction.

I lay in bed in a dark house with thoughts that float through my mind, wanting to drop anchor. If I wait for tomorrow, they might be gone.

My fingers itch for the laptop, but I tell myself I need rest. After a half hour of tossing and turning, I succumb. I’ll be tired tomorrow, but I get up to give these circling thoughts a place to land.

I have not been this relaxed in ages.

We go to the beach because the girls love it and it’s a great outlet for their endless childish energy. We go because the sun in shining and it feels sinful to stay inside. We go because it’s relaxing and that's good to do every now and then.

There’s relaxing, and then there’s relaxing.

It wasn’t the beach. I’ve been to beaches before. It wasn’t Lake Superior. I see it every day. It wasn’t being with the family. I’m with them all the time.

It was the conjunction of a warm sun shining after a week of cool temps, warm sand, fresh air, secluded beach, incredible sky, still water, happy dogs, contented daughters, and a mellow husband.

And the gift of mighty Lake Superior at ease.

Lake Superior on a quiet day is a sight to behold. Calm, glassy water reflecting and borrowing the color of the sky. The only difference between lake and sky is a thin line on the distant horizon.

Almost imperceptible swells gently kissed the shore and receded with a soft sigh.

Utterly charmed, I wondered how I could have lived almost 50 years and not known such places exist. All my life I never knew or cared.

I drank in the blue-on-blue horizon, listened to the mesmerizing water, a nearby loon, and my children laughing, and felt tension drain out of my body.

And peace took its place. And filled my emotional tank.

God, thank you for peaceful moments. Times of rest from constant, mind-numbing activity, respite from conflict and chaos, no endless tape running through my head of go here, do this, fix these, solve that. No questioning, wondering, or second guessing.

Just an absorbing. A filling. A resting.

An unexpected sweet pocket of peace on a secluded beach in Northern Wisconsin on the ever changing shore of the finite immensity of Lake Superior.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Think Quotes, It's Friday

Calling all quote lovers. Time again for Think Quotes, It's Friday hosted by Lori at Life, Love, and Laughter in a Large Family. Pair a favorite quote with a favorite picture, and head over to Lori's blog to join the fun.

This is taken at Bodega Bay in Northern California.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pawsitively Adorable Guest Blogger

Since I've noticed this blog doesn't give all family members equal exposure, I commandeered the blog today to rectify the situation.

Allow me to introduce myself.

I joined the family two years ago and was one very cute baby, if I do say so myself.

After a LONG drawn-out, convoluted decision making process, my family named me Tucker, although some days they forget and call me other things. Seriously, who would name their dog, "Stupid," or "You Idiot?"

I LOVE the girls and live to be near them. I sleep with Amy or with guests, like Kiah's old boyfriend, Mark, when he came for Easter. Some people infer that I'm a bed hog but that can't be true.

I used to stare at the lady who feeds me until she woke up. She hated when I put my cold wet nose on her cheek when she was sleeping. Now I just climb in bed with her until she lets me out to do my business and then gives me my morning portion of Pedigree dog food. Life is good.

Sometimes the girls share their clothes with me. I prefer not to wear girl clothes, but masculine items are hard to find in this household.

Jessie and I hang out a lot together, although she doesn't like to wrestle as much as I do.

I've been told I'm too big to be a lap dog, but can I help it I like to snuggle?

I miss living in the country and having unlimited squirrels and rabbits to chase. But in town there are so many more people to bark at. I get scolded for barking at guests but at least I don't growl at little kids like Jessie does.

I love to be out on the front porch and watch the world go by.

I admit, I'll do almost anything for attention.

Sometimes we walk down to Lake Superior where the big guy has a bad habit of throwing perfectly good wood away. I run after them and bring them back, hoping he'll get tired of being wasteful.

What's really frustrating is the thanks I get for dashing into Lake Superior to save their stick is they make me stay outside when we get home until I dry off because some people think wet dog doesn't smell good.

I might have a few annoying qualities like digging up the yard, rifling through bathroom garbage, tracking mud in the house, sniffing people's backsides, leaving dog hair everywhere, and throwing up from time to time, but I'm working on it. I've also been accused of stalking my family. I love them so much and I know they love me. I mean, with a face like this, what's not to love?

Thanks for reading my post. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood. I love to have new people to bark at. Or sleep with.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blog Hop - Week #4 - Homemade Peanut Butter

Bloghopping has been so much fun the last few weeks. I've met nice people and found interesting blogs. If you'd like to participate, follow the directions at the end of this post.

Unfortunately my blog sometimes acts up. If an annoying white screen pops up, click ok and then click the back arrow button at the top left of the computer screen. It sometimes takes 3, 4, or 5 times before it works. I love to get comments, so if that screen pops up, please keep trying.

This weeks blog hop assignment is to share a favorite recipe. Since the most commented part about my last week's Blog hop post was that I like Peanut Butter on waffles, I am sharing how to make homemade peanut butter.

This is the simplest of recipes.

Pour one or two 16 oz. jars of dry roasted peanuts (depending on how much peanut butter you want) in a food processor. Run the processor until the peanuts turn to Peanut Butter, usually about four to five minutes.

I bought my Kitchen Aid food processor at a garage sale fifteen years ago. It's always worked great except the thing that pushes the button down to run the processor is broke, so I have to push it down manually the whole time with the pointed end of a plastic little girls barrette.

My girls love to watch me make peanut butter. At first it makes a dry paste which gradually gets creamier. At some point the peanut butter forms a ball that rotates around the white knob in the middle. It gets smaller as it goes round and round. When the last part of the ball melts into the mixture, the peanut butter is done.

If we want crunchy peanut butter, we save some peanuts and add them at this point and process it for a few more seconds until we get the desired consistency.

Some people add a little oil to make it smoother. I usually don't.

We love fresh peanut butter right after its made. It's warm and tastes great on crackers. We also like using homemade peanut butter to make peanut butter cookies. And, like I shared last week, I love it on waffles with syrup.

I store the peanut butter in a plastic container. Homemade peanut butter must be refrigerated or the oil separates and it's a pain to stir back in. In fact, that's one of the reasons I don't like buying natural peanut butter in the store. I hate stirring the oil in.

My peanut butter tastes like peanuts. Store peanut butter tastes like somebody monkeyed with the taste and texture.

My peanut butter has one ingredient: peanuts. Store peanut butter has these. I stopped counting ingredients after 20:

Try this recipe and your family will think you're amazing.

Thanks for stopping by.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, July 20, 2009

Not Me Monday - History Lessons

I am participating again in MckMama's Monday blog carnival. This week's assignment is to highlight something crazy or embarrassing our kids have done. To read other Not Me posts, check out the fun at

If you're visiting today, please use my comment box as a guest book and consider leaving a note and tell where you're from.

I did not give Andrew and Kiah an Usborne book about the Ancient World when they were ten and eight and then not pay attention when they asked why the Greeks didn't wear clothes. I always give my kids my unidivided attention and make every attempt to answer their questions, so I did not say, "I don't know."

So when I came in the house after weeding the garden and found them dancing naked in the living room, I did not freak out and say, "What in the world are you doing?"

Andrew grinned from ear to ear and explained, "We're Greeks."

I was not momentarily confused, wondering what being Greek could possibly have to do with being naked. Then I remembered their earlier question.

"Let me see that book." I hurriedly found the section on Greece and sure enough, those immodest ancient Greek Olympians did not wear a stitch of clothing when they competed. Apparently the early Olympics were R rated.

My kids are half Scandinavian. There is not a drop of Greek blood in their body. But even if there was, we don't exercise in our birthday suits.

So I did not put The Ancient World book on a high shelf, give them a book on Pilgrims, and tell them to get dressed. Nope, not me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Christina Gabrielle

Another anniversary of sorts.

I've been a mother almost as long as I've been a wife. Christina was born on July 10, 1985, three days after our first year anniversary.

Her birthday takes me back to a small apartment in Colorado Springs many years ago. Pregnancy was fun the first time. Everything was new and exciting and we eagerly anticipated her birth. Keith felt confident we’d adapt to parenting just fine. How hard could raising children be?

I studied pregnancy, nutrition, and parenting. I ate well, exercised, attended childbirth classes, chose names, and outfitted the baby's room. If ever a woman was ready, I was ready. I was very naive.

Nothing went as expected. After a LONG difficult labor, during which Keith declared we would never do this again, the doctor extracted her with forceps and whisked her off to intensive care. She couldn’t breathe right and spent five days connected to tubes and wires.

She pitched her first fit her first day. She refused to nurse and I didn’t know how to force the issue. She immediately wanted to be in charge when she came home. I wondered if they could have possibly sent us home with the wrong baby.

My body felt turned inside out. My stomach looked like bread dough. Waking up every couple hours left me exhausted and crabby. She was demanding and despite everything I thought I knew before, I didn’t seem to know much. I was overwhelmed and then some.

My college education had been lacking. Chances to use trigonometry since graduation have been diddly. And they never once addressed things like stretch marks, cotton versus disposable diapers, or temper tantrums.

Yet I loved her. Immediately. Completely. Unconditionally. I wouldn’t have traded my discomforts and frustrations for life without her. Nothing feels as good as holding a baby. To watch them smile, laugh, grow and learn. To see their personalities unfold. To know that my love is as essential for their emotional growth as food is for their body.

I love Christina more than she could possibly know or understand, but we have butted heads since day one. She’s always been determined, independent, and fearless. Not naughty, just high-strung, high-maintenance, and likes doing things her way. It’s exhausting raising a strong-willed child. Keith jokes that they gave her too much oxygen at birth.

Motherhood wasn’t what I expected. I prayed I was doing things right. I wouldn’t get a second chance to raise her.

I struggled, second-guessed, lost my temper, cried, and made mistakes. I put one foot in front of the other, took one day at a time, prayed a lot, sought advice, and stuck it out.

We blinked and she turned nineteen, ready to leave and try her wings.

Children grow up, leave home, and we nervously monitor their progress. We watch them push off from the shore of home, safety, and security, and hold our breath as they sail across choppy waters, hoping they’ll land safely on the shore of stable, responsible adulthood. We hope they're properly equipped and will make good choices when we’re not there to do it for them.

Christina called home three years ago. "Mom, Dad, I’m sorry for being hard to live with. I’m sorry for being disrespectful, disobedient, and not thinking you knew anything. Thanks for raising me in a Christian home and giving me a good foundation. I really appreciate all you’ve done for me. I hope we can have a better relationship."

We sat in shock. This was not the same child we’d sent to college.

Finally a harvest. Seeds planted and faithfully tended for years at last bearing fruit. Her praise and thanks meant the world. A precious, satisfying reward for a long, hard labor.

For years our conversations were short, one-sided, and full of conflict, but we've finally gone beyond that. She calls often now and converses like an adult. Like we’re friends. Like she likes me.

I’m proud of her. She's done amazing, interesting things. I’m in awe of her adventurous personality. She still has some rough edges and lessons to learn but she's a work in progress.

Raising strong-willed children isn’t easy but like any worthwhile endeavor, I need to persevere and keep plugging away. I need to let God write my children’s story, and trust the final outcome to Him who does all things well and loves them more than I possibly ever could.

Happy 24th Birthday, and many more.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Think Quotes, It's Friday

Lori Poppinga has a new feature on her blog, Life, Love, and Laughter in a Large Family called Think Quotes, It's Friday. It's for quote lovers and we're supposed to take a favorite quote and pair it with a favorite picture.

This is a picture of the Cahoots at our new favorite beach in Cornucopia, Wisconsin on Lake Superior. They have a lot of fun together.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shana's Giveaway

I've enjoyed getting to know Shana through her blog. She has a sweet spirit that shines through her posts and comments. Her blog, Blaze ‘N’ Crochet, is hosting a giveaway for notNeutral’s Wood Block Set from Living Rooms Direct, an online source for living room furniture and home decor.

This giveaway will end on Wednesday, July 23. Shana will choose the winner by using the Random Number Generator and will announce the winner on her blog and by going to their blog and leave a comment. The winner must contact her within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

Stop by her blog and enter to win.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Shuffle 2009

When people ask what our kids are doing this summer, they start to get a glazed look in their eyes when I explain. So I will attempt to explain as clearly as possible where everyone is.

We are spread out this summer in small groups, except for Christina who is by herself down in Ames, IA. She'll transfer her worldly possessions to our basement in August and stay here for a month before heading to Spain in the fall to study abroad.

Kiah and Erica are counseling at Camp Shetek which is in the southwest corner of Minnesota. I like this picture of Kiah. She works pretty hard during the year so it does my heart good to see her playing. She's the short girl in the front row getting ready to clobber the ball.

I love this picture of Kiah and Erica. One, they're together. Two, it looks like they're getting along, and Three, the one sister is helping the other out. I lifed these two photos off a Facebook page of one of Kiah's friends. Isn't modern technology a wonder?

Andrew and Anna are at Village Creek Bible Camp which is in the northeast corner of Iowa. Andrew is program director for the summer.

Anna helps with family camp and wherever they need her.

Meanwhile, Amy and Lani are enjoying having their parents all to themselves for the first time in their lives. They play well together for the most part.

Sigh! Summer is half over. I feel a hiking trip coming on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blog Hop - Week #3 - Three Things You Didn't Know About Me

Anyways, this week's Blog Hop assignment is to share three things about me that people might not know.

***1. I was born in Spain. My Father was in the Air Force so I lived my first two years on an air base near Madrid in Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain.

I have often speculated if living in a significantly different time zone from where I was born has anything to do with me being late so much. Keith says, "Nice try."

2. When I graduated from high school I wanted to be a park ranger.

3. I love Peanut Butter on waffles. Best is homemade peanut butter on waffles. Better yet homemade syrup with homemade peanut butter on waffles made from scratch using half whole wheat and half white flour, cooked in one of those nifty waffle flipping machines you see at hotels or in my friend Lori's kitchen.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Me Monday - Case of The Husband's Hairy Toothbrush

I'm participating in MckMama's Blog carnival, Not Me Monday, where bloggers air their dirty laundry in public under the pretense of not actually doing what they're writing about. Check out the fun at

So I recently shaved my legs while taking a shower. I tried to clean the razor afterwards but couldn't get all the hairs out. I put it under the shower head and let the water spray full force. I tried picking them out one by one but that took forever and I couldn't reach some. I wiped it with a washcloth but those stupid hairs stayed put. The hairs mocked me, taunting that they were going to stay and there was nothing I could do about it

Just so we're clear on this, I did not look around the shower and spy my husband's toothbrush sitting on a shelf. He brushes his teeth while he takes a shower. I'm not sure why but maybe this post will make him stop.

I sure wouldn't want someone using my toothbrush for anything other than its intended purpose, so I did not use Keith's toothbrush to clean my razor. That's too gross to even think about. And if I did, I sure wouldn't admit it in public. What would people think? If Keith ever reads this post, I'd have some explaining to do.

By golly, that toothbrush worked pretty good, until I noticed little brown hairs in Keith's toothbrush. Because this story is a figment of my imagination, I did not stand in the shower for five minutes spraying his hairy toothbrush with hot water and picking stubborn short hairs out of it.

It looks really nice now and I vowed never to use Keith's toothbrush ever again no matter how clogged my razor gets. I either need to stop shaving my legs, use Nair, throw the razor away after one use, or use my own toothbrush. (Just kidding)

I did not smile when Keith came home yesterday with a new toothbrush. He said his old one was wearing out. Hmm...ya think?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

When Worlds Collide

One last post in my wedding anniversary series this week.

July 7, 1984 - Littleton Bible Chapel, in Littleton, Colorado.

Keith and I stood before the minister and all our family and friends.

I listened impatiently as the minister talked about the symbolism of wedding rings. He said people often comment that a ring is round and has no beginning or end, and is made of precious metal so is strong and enduring.

But he wanted us to impress upon us that our rings say to the world and to us, "We have chosen. There are no other options. When hard things happen and dark days come, our rings remind us that we made a commitment before God and man to be husband and wife and there are no other options."

This was a happy occasion and I didn’t appreciate the minister being so negative. Didn’t he have any better advice for us on our wedding day?

I have since recognized his wisdom. He knew there would come a day when the novelty of being married would wear off and our wedding shoes would start to pinch.

We had been warned about the things that usually irritate newlyweds, like leaving the toothpaste cap off or not putting the toilet seat down.

Those things were nothing. But can you believe Keith wanted to sleep almost year round with the window open? And have a striking mantel clock in our bedroom that went off every blessed hour all night long? He couldn’t get over that I slept with socks on and tucked the sheets in different that he did. Then there's the whole Miracle Whip versus Mayonaise debate.

He made me get rid of the two big stuffed teddy bears I’d slept with before we got married. He said the stuffed leopard head that I’d had since my twelfth birthday and had used for years with great delight to play practical jokes on people, was ratty and falling apart and threw it in the dumpster.

He was restless and intense and battled depression. How had I missed that in the two and a half years we dated?

When he said when we were dating that he didn’t like camping, he meant that he didn’t like camping. Camping is the funnest thing ever. How could he not like camping? Or backpacking? Or not want to go to the Grand Canyon? Oh my goodness, what had I done?

I had been raised by a father who loved being outdoors. We took countless day trips to the river, ocean, lakes, state parks, local playgrounds, and berry picking outings. Scenic drives, taking time to smell the roses and stop at scenic overlooks or historical points of interest. We took numerous camping trips, even camping the entire summer of my fifteenth year.

Keith had been raised by a very nice man who was a traveling salesman. So when he had vacation, he liked to stay home.

We had different viewpoints on music, TV, books,finances,  housecleaning, parenting, and vacation to name a few.

I drove Keith nuts with my tardiness and spur of the moment ways. Mealtimes were whenever. Housework got done when I felt like it, which was usually before company came over. Laundry was hit and miss. He wanted order and routine and complained that no two days in our home were alike. I couldn’t for the life of me see why that was important.

The personality test we took ten years ago showed we are complete opposites. Surprise, surprise.

So what to do? Suck it up and make the best of it? Hope and pray the other person changes? Live in separate houses?

Time and time again, I hear those words in my mind, "You have chosen, there are no other options."

I know now that it is normal for there to be bumps when two worlds collide. We came from two different states, cultures, religious backgrounds, and socio-economic levels. We had different personalities, temperaments, interests, dreams, and likes and dislikes. It’s only natural that there would be some painful moments as we adjusted to each other and learned to make it work.

I know there is no one on the face of the earth who would make me happier. Because every person on this planet is flawed and if they didn’t have Keith’s faults, they would have their own. We aren't designed to find complete fulfillment in another person. God wants to fulfil and complete me. Only God can fill the hole in my heart.

So I pray for wisdom and patience and the ability to forgive. I try not to do things that irritate Keith, some days succeeding, some days not. I try to have thicker skin and not take offense. I enjoy the good days, thankful for the sun, knowing it won’t always be shining.

I focus on Keith’s good qualities. His simple, loyal, faithful, stable, steadfast ways. His ability to fix almost anything. His fun, loud laugh. His comfortableness with old people. His love for his children.

So when we butt heads or he growls about something I think is no big deal, I try to keep in perspective the big picture. That he’s a good man and has brought many good things to my life. That we’re committed to each other and God willing, we hope to finish the course. That this world is not our home, and one day we will be perfect people in a perfect place and the things that bothered us down here won’t be issues anymore.

Until then, we firmly believe through good days and bad that we have chosen and there are no other options.

When we said, "I do,"God said, "I did." And that’s good enough for me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Think Quotes, It's Friday

Lori Poppinga has started a new feature on her blog, Life, Love, and Laughter in a Large Family called Think Quotes, It's Friday. It's for quote lovers and we're supposed to take a favorite quote and pair it with a favorite picture.

Erica took this picture. Both Erica and Christina have surpassed me in photography skills, which works well when I need a nice picture.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Roots by Billy Coffey

I was introduced to Billy Coffey who writes the blog, What I Learned Today by a fellow blogger. Billy has good insights, a way with words, and shares in an entertaining, refreshingly honest manner.

In keeping with the anniversary theme, I asked Billy if I could direct you his way to read a charming post he wrote on marriage. He graciously gave me permission to invite you over to his place to read Roots and whatever else strikes your fancy.

Thanks, Billy for sharing truth in such an easy to read way. Blessings on your writing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

Today is the big day. As of 2 p.m. mountain time Keith and I will have been married 25 years.

Keith is a good man and a good father and I'm thankful for all we've learned through our ups and downs over the years. I'm also tickled that our anniversary falls on such a wonderfully odd date - 7/7/09. Life is good.

In honor of this occasion I made a four minute slideshow. If you click the box in the bottom right corner with the four arrows, the slideshow goes screensize.

Thanks for being a part of our lives.

Celebrating 25 Years on PhotoPeach

Monday, July 6, 2009

Popping The Question

The theme of my last few posts has been Keith and I's 25th wedding anniversary tomorrow. So far I've documented the phenomena that occurred when the life of a shy young responsible man from rural Northwest Iowa intersected the life of a friendly irresponsible young girl from Northern California.

This post shares an imaginary conversation that may or not have taken place way back then.

"Would you please marry me and live five miles north of a small town in Northwest Iowa, on eight acres, in a 100-year-old farmhouse with seven children, seven cats, and two dogs?"

If Keith had asked me this question twenty six years ago, would I have said yes?

Would I have knowingly embraced a life of messy cars, muddy shoes, mountains of laundry, bushels of socks, noise, chaos, laughter, tears, painful lessons, joy, and love? If we had the ability to see into the future would we choose our present lives?

I'm guessing not having even one child, and being deeply in love, I would have naively responded, "Oh sure, seven children’s no problem. We could have more if you'd like."

Keith continues, "I should probably tell you people will forever be making jokes and remarks about the size of our family. We will have more children than most people we know. We will win the prize at our High School reunions for having the most children. We will receive unsolicited, sometimes rude, advice on family planning. People we hardly know will constantly ask, "Are you going to have more?"

We will not have nice things. We will live in old houses, drive old cars, shop at garage sales, buy in bulk, and cook from scratch. We will change over 10,000 diapers before all is said and done. We will never have an empty nest. We will be staring at 60 when our youngest child graduates from high school. We will have toddlers while our friends have grandchildren. Our life will never be normal".

And I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for the world. "Why yes," I'd have said. "I thought you'd never ask."