Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Tonight was our annual Halloween party for the kids at church. Neal and I were in charge of the dart throwing game. The organizers said we were "the most responsible" which I think means "the oldest." As things were winding down this evening, Jacob announced, "this is the best Halloween EVER!" See if you can guess who Neal and I were for Halloween.




No tricks.....just lots of treats.


Carol Bogle makes an awesome witch.

My little fairy princess.

Jacob--I mean Spiderman--has been eating his vegetables!

Trista and Guess Who?

Autumn

Ten Things I Love about Autumn:

1. Warm days and chilly nights.
2. Changing colors of the leaves.
3. Pumpkin Spice Latte (thanks Linda, for getting me hooked)
4. No weekly mowing and brush hogging.
5. No pool maintenance.
6. Uncontrollable urge to start craft projects.
7. Jeans and bulky sweatshirts.
8. Annual hayride and cookout at Ringle Ranch.
9. Snuggling up under the comforter.
10. Open windows.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesdays with Lauren

While getting ready for Bible Study this morning, my brilliant mind came up with the idea of dedicating my blog every Tuesday to the day spent with my precious granddaughter, Lauren. As with most of my brilliant ideas, it didn't work out quite as I'd planned. I arrived at my son's house and opened the garage door to find it empty. What? Where is everyone? Already running late, I rummaged through my purse to find my cell phone, then remembered it was in my bedroom. Rushed home to retrieve it and the phone was ringing as I walked through my door. Trista's morning had been chaotic and it didn't occur to her what day it was until her babysitter greeted her with, "I thought Lauren went to Bible Study on Tuesdays." But I'm determined to dedicate this blog to her, so I'll dig up some of my professional-like photography from LAST Tuesday for you to enjoy. This first video clip is of Lauren reading a book. Oh yeah...don't bother turning your audio up, because after I had taken the video it hit me that my camera doesn't record sound. DOH!! By the way...hint for Christmas...I want a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Digital Camera. It has sound. ;0) But her body language says it all. Oh yeah...something else...the last part of the video is my floor. :)


video

This next video is Lauren singing the "ABC song." Again, no sound :( But I caught her about mid-way and you can read her lips as she sings from "ellemenopee" to "next time won't you sing with me." And again, more of my "floor photography."

video

Man, I need a new camera! I'm sure it's the camera!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sleepover, Part III

After putting Jacob to bed, it was my turn to take a hot, leisurely bath. Woo Hoo! Although, it's very hard to relax when 57 GI's are drying off on the edge of the tub and you dare not knock even one of them over.

I didn't get much sleep, even though I did take my sleeping pill. I don't know if it was listening to the rhythmic breathing of my 4-year old grandson, worrying whether he was too hot or too cold, being jabbed in the back with his feet...or his head...whichever diagonal position he preferred at the time, or the strong smell of Polo cologne that he had spilled in the bathroom before bed. ("Oh no, Nana, now we got to buy Papa some new green cologne.")

This morning we made pancakes, and now that Jacob's a "chef extraordinaire" I had lots of help. Between his measuring techniques, and my mistaking soda for baking powder and having to try and dip the proper portion back OUT of the mixture, it's amazing that they turned out at all. But I have to say, they were some of the best pancakes I've ever had...and he agreed. Our battle was over the syrup, which he insisted on pouring himself. He would pour...I would say "stop"...he would pout and run to the living room...I would pour some from his plate to mine...he would come back and pour some more...I would say "stop".....and so on, and so on, and so on. You get the picture. He ended up with half the bottle of syrup in his plate.

A little pancake with your syrup???

I kid you not. I opened this bottle for the first time this morning!

After breakfast we had the age-old argument about going to the Aquarium. Maybe I should put "The Blue Planet" away for a couple of months. He wanted Linda and Marcia to come to my house TODAY and we could all go to the "Quarium." I could not convince him that this was impossible. So we finally called Linda, and I guess through their conversation he realized this was NOT going to happen TODAY. So he was a little bummed when I took him home, but soon recovered when Mommy told him his cousin Braden was coming over. Too bad all our disappointments aren't so easily remedied. Oh the life of a 4-year old.

Sleepover, Part II

Bath time. Which would not be the same without the whole 32nd Infantry Division of GI Joes.

Jacob is a wee bit OCD...as was/is his dad...as was/is his mom. We cannot simply "play" with the army dudes, we must line them up in an organized fashion, and heaven forbid one of them fall over, thus wreaking havoc on the whole platoon.

No one better try a sneak attack on THIS bathtub! It is well-guarded!

After bath, Jacob curled up on the couch with his blanket to watch "The Blue Planet", a set of DVD's about life in the sea, courtesy of Jason Burch, former roommate of Jeff who left several items behind when he left to play professional baseball. Thanks Burch, Jacob LOVES "The Blue Planet." But alas, the music was too soothing, and within five minutes, he was out like a light.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sleepover with Nana

Neal is on another hunting trip, so Jacob is keeping me company tonight. I had a domestic moment and got the bright idea that we would make Halloween cookies. Jacob LOVES to make cookies. He makes peanut butter cookies with Aunt Jo occasionally.

He really gets into it. See the serious look on his face?

Cutting out the pumpkin shapes was easy. He's been practicing with playdoh.

Notice how much flour we're using. Not that it was necessary...just way more fun.

He even knows the word spatula. "Hey Nana, where's the spatula?"
The kid watches way too much Spongebob.

Need more flour.

Does he not look EXACTLY like Jeremy in this picture?

Look how strong I am, Nana.

These are the cookies right out of the oven. Beautiful.

Now for the frosting. Yes, that bowl was a wedding gift almost 32 years ago. I AM my mother. And notice the playdoh alien ship in the background. We went back and forth from playdoh to cookie dough. Maybe not such a wise decision.

The Pampered Chef accordion decorating container was a little difficult for his little hands to manage. But he'd rather just suck the icing out of the tip anyway. Getting a little close to the alien playdoh...I see trouble coming.

Jacob thinks Nana can do ANYTHING and had specific requests for the jack-o-lanterns. This is the "mean" one.

This is the "happy" one...at least he was happy til I dropped the camera on his eye.

This is Jacob.

And this is Nana...WITH her glasses on.

I think they looked better right out of the oven, what do you think? But we congratulated ourselves and called it a success. And we both learned a valuable lesson. When you're making cookies and licking your fingers constantly, don't make gooey aliens while the cookies are in the oven. I saw that one coming.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Night

Yesterday, Neal and I...okay...I...had a long list of to-do's. But the two main things we wanted to accomplish were 1) burn the brush pile (Lita's job) and 2) finish welding the top rail on the fence (Neal's job). I got my job done before noon, thank you very much. (I won't mention that I singed my golden locks in the process.) Neal, however, never even got out the welding machine. Maybe I should take some of the blame. Since I was burning brush, why don't we (I use the word "we" loosely) go ahead and get that dead branch out of the front tree so we can throw it on the fire? You know where this is heading. One dead branch turned into many dead branches and before all was said and done, the tree got a good scalping. I really don't know what lead to the next chain of events, but somewhere, somehow, we got the notion to finish my fire pit that I've wanted done since we moved in over a year and a half ago. This meant tractor work (yeah for Neal), picking up rocks and hauling them to the fire pit, then arranging them in a circle. Then Neal left with Jeremy & Mike (Jeremy's dad-in-law) for Western Oklahoma to do a little bow hunting.

So tonight, I decided to try out the "campfire." There's just something about a fire, you know what I mean? I got a good one going just as it got dark, and just as the sound of a deer snorting reminded me that it was the time of day they usually come out to eat at the deer feeder. Uh oh, guess I'm gonna scare off Neal's deer. Oh well. C'est la vie.


This is my kind of Saturday night. Roasting marshmallows, watching the flames dance, hearing the wood crackle, feeling the warm glow of the fire on my face and losing myself as I'm mesmerized by the fire. Occasionally I lean back and look at the stars, something that can't be appreciated in the city. I hear a noise and shine my flashlight out into the field. Guess I didn't scare the deer after all. The doe and her two fawns are feeding not 50 yards from me.

It's a time of meditation, a time of reflection, a time of just being. How peaceful. This is now my second favorite place on the farm....second only to the front porch swing. Don't tell Neal how much this is growing on me. He still thinks I'm unselfishly sacrificing by giving up the city life.

All alone...just me and God...and the deer. Very cool. Then I hear a pack of coyotes...not cool. Oh well, they sound pretty far away.

Black on one side...just the way I like them.

Stopping to Smell the Knot Holes?

The more I work around the ranch--yes, I'm calling it a ranch since we had cows on it--the more interesting things I find to photograph. Today, I took some shots of unusual knot holes and I'll share a few of them with you. Humor me, I live life in the slow lane.

Former home of our dinner a couple of nights ago.
(See previous post.)



Maybe a bobcat's lair? (I have a good imagination.)



I think the Keebler Elves live here.
"Hellooooo....still waiting for my Fudge Shoppe Coooookieees."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Squirrelly


This squirrel is taking up way too many picture frames on our game cam, not to mention the drain on the batteries. Today, while Neal was supposed to be working on fences, I heard some gun shots. If you're an animal rights activist or the least bit squeamish, you may want to stop reading.....now.

My day consisted of cleaning out "Jeff's room" and then tackling the garage. Around 3:30, I deserved a break and took a glass of iced water to the Adirondack chair for a little rest and relaxation. Wait a minute--what's that by the deck steps? Seems our furry friend...had friends. Three friends. And they all ended up on our supper table. Cause that's what a cool wife I am. Fried those little guys up and Neal was in hog--I mean SQUIRREL--heaven. For those of you dying of suspense, no, I didn't fry the heads. My husband is a lucky man, but not THAT lucky. Some of you may remember the story of the time he cooked dinner for me. That's right--fried squirrel. I walked in the door after work and smelled dinner. Everything was ready and on the table, the centerpiece being a platter of squirrel, including all the little heads, fried up and placed around the rim of the platter, facing out. Needless to say, my appetite disappeared pronto. It's the thought that counts though, right?

I know you all want my famous Fried Squirrel recipe, so here it is:

4 squirrels, skinned and cut up by your macho husband into small pieces so that they no longer resemble fetuses (throw away the hind legs--they're not tender like the rest)
1 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable oil

Heat oil in heavy iron skillet that your grandma handed down to you.
Roll small squirrel parts in salted and peppered flour
Fry until golden brown

Bailey, feel free to add this recipe to your Thursday night repertoire. That is, unless you're one of the ones that stopped reading after the first paragraph.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fireproof

Saturday night our Wednesday night marriage class went to watch the movie Fireproof. This is a low budget film, and although none of the actors will be nominated for an Oscar, I have to say that the movie was EXCELLENT. I highly recommend it for anyone who is married or is considering marriage. And for those of you who have already seen it.....does Kirk Cameron not look amazingly like a young Mel Gibson????? Our marriage class has been studying the book "Becoming One" and this movie was eerily parallel to the homework we've been doing over the past 13 weeks. Scary. Anyway, that's my plug. GO SEE IT. You won't be sorry.

Minnesota, eh?

We returned home late last night after a whirlwind trip to Minnesota, where Jeff will be in a training program with his new job for the next several months. He picked up the U-Haul on Saturday and thanks to my nagging him all week about getting his stuff together, we managed to have everything loaded by Saturday afternoon. We opted to put his car on a trailer and pull it behind the U-Haul. Jeff positioned Stewie Griffin behind the wheel, where he leered menacingly at any who dared pass. Neal and Jeff drove the U-Haul truck, while I followed in my Pilot. It gave them some quality bonding time and gave me some solitude. We made a stop in KC to pick up Jeff's TV, entertainment center, bed, table and chairs. His renters had graciously put everything in the living room, ready to load, so it was done in short order. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and nice everything looked at his KC house. Granted, they knew we were coming, but still, what 20-something men consider clean and neat and what I consider clean and neat, are usually quite different.

The drive was gorgeous and the weather perfect on Sunday. We stayed the night at Ames, Iowa. This is where I learned a valuable lesson. You don't have to use Priceline.com to bargain for room rates. Jeff had a maximum amount for which he could be reimbursed from his company. We went to the Mariott and found that the prices were too high. I asked about the AAA price....a little lower, but still too high. I said, "is that the cheapest you have?" to which he asked "how much do you want to pay?" So I told him, and there you go, we named our price and got our rooms. Guess it doesn't pay much to have empty rooms.

Monday--moving-in day--was not as nice weatherwise. It began raining before we crossed the Minnesota border and the temperature was in the 40's. Brrrrrr! Owatonna is a beautiful little town. The leaves were breath-taking. The pictures don't do them justice.

We had no trouble finding his apartment, which we originally thought was above a restaurant, then later found out was a bar/pool hall. (Turns out most of the restaurants in Owatonna are bars.) Anyway....God saw fit to give us a break from the rain during the unloading of the U-Haul. His landlord was very friendly, helpful, and apologetic that the roof had sprung a leak that morning, causing a constant dripping into a barrel on top of the toilet! Of course, as usual, I desperately needed the bathroom and had to hold an umbrella while peeing. Sorry, no pictures!

After making a gazillion trips up and down the 23 steps to his apartment (my calves are still screaming) we were completely unloaded by lunchtime. Had a quick bite at Subway, then Jeff was ready for us to leave. "Dad, please get Mom out of here before she starts organizing and decorating!"

Neal and I drove 4 hours to Wausau, WI because we couldn't possibly be that far north without seeing our good friends Todd and Lisa. They took us out to dinner, then put us up for the night. We left yesterday morning and 15 hours later were in our own bed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Atwoods--It's the New Walmart

In light of the falling economy, I'm doing what I can to cut back. Walmart is my "grocery store of choice" even though I hate how spread out it is and the long check-out lines. My biggest problem with Wally World is that I never come out with just groceries. I always see something, strategically placed, that I didn't know I needed until I saw it. It really blows my grocery budget. For the next three months, Discover is giving 5% cash back on purchases at grocery stores/markets. You guessed it, Walmart is NOT included, since it is classified as a discount store. So I'm doing all my shopping at Homeland, Reasors, and Warehouse Market. No temptations to buy home decor, clothing, or the latest kitchen gadget.

Now....for my new weakness...Atwoods. Yeah, you can call me a red-neck...I'm getting rather used to the idea. Run in for dog food and come out with a baker's rack. Go figure. I've also had my eye on some boots to wear around the farm--you know, building fires, shoveling manure, hauling limbs, etc., etc., but they didn't have my size. Today we went to Atwoods for 2 bags of deer corn. My heart actually started racing when I saw the racks and racks of Carhartts standing proudly in the aisles. How convenient would that be to throw some overalls on over my clothes to run out and do chores? And they have the Ladies' sizes in now for the Fall???? Oh, be still my heart. Then, Neal saw the jackets to match and INSISTED, I say, INSISTED that I needed one for those long winter months. Might as well check out the boot inventory while we're here. YES! (hand pump) they've got MY boots in MY size. Oh....I've got to stay out of Atwoods.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Liam's Home!

Liam had a nice surprise yesterday, October 8, which just happened to be his 11th birthday. The doctors agreed to let him go home! Liam's pain has lessened and he's able to eat small amounts of solid food without puking his guts up. His counts (pancreas) are still high and not going down, but maybe he just needs to be at home and out of the depressing hospital. He still needs lots of prayer for healing, both physical and emotional. But praise God, he is home!


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

God's Peace

Now that Lauren is 2, she can go with me to BSF. They had a spot waiting for her and today was her first day. Since I kept Jacob five days a week for his first two years, but have not done the same with Lauren, I thought this would be a great way for us to have "our day." Going to Bible study in the morning, eating lunch together, staying at my house the rest of the day. I've been looking forward to this day for a few months, but as the day grew closer, I began to be anxious about it. What if she cried when I left her in class? What if she hated it? What would her teachers be like? Would I be able to enjoy MY Bible study, or would I be worried about her the entire time? When we arrived (early, I might add), the sweet lady at the Children's desk told us we'd have to wait a few minutes because the leaders were still having prayer. Very cool. They pray before the kids arrive. The leaders finished and went to their designated rooms and I walked Lauren down the hall to hers. And who should be her teacher? LeeAnn, an old friend of mine who's husband played baseball with Neal. She also knows Jeremy and Trista and taught aerobics at the Gym where Trista also taught. I felt so comfortable leaving Lauren in her hands. God helped me through the two hours of worship, discussion and lecture, with only a fleeting, occasional thought of Lauren's well-being. My discussion leader asked if I'd brought my granddaughter today and I said yes. She asked, "Is she the only girl in her class?" I said, "yes, I think she is." She said that the discussion leaders prayed for her yesterday, being told there was a new 2 yr. old coming in that would be in a class full of boys. Wow. Lots of praying going on. During discussion group, I wondered where my good friend, Martha, was today. Guess what! She was volunteering in, none other than, Lauren's class, today. God is so good! LeeAnn and Martha both bragged about how good Lauren did in her first BSF class. I think I can be at peace and enjoy the rest of the year.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Hayrides, Horses, and Hot Dogs

Today is Lauren's 2nd birthday. We celebrated last night with hayrides, horses, and hot dogs. Trista's older brother, Jerrod brought a beautiful horse and gave everyone rides. Of course, I declined....scared to death of animals bigger than me.


Something tells me Lauren wasn't too thrilled either. A girl after my own heart.



But there were plenty of other kids who thought it was great. Especially Jacob and Piercen, who thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out their new cowboy boots.




Everyone seemed to enjoy the hayrides...even BEFORE the ride. Just the hay, all by itself, had a way of invoking fun and frolic.

Neal was in his element, pulling the hay wagon all over the farm...underneath low-hanging branches...over bumps and dips...and the adults as well as the kids whooped it up. (Is whoop a word?....I think it is in Oklahoma.)


My grandkids don't much get into photo-taking. Maybe Jacob was just ticked off that nobody would wipe the Nacho Cheese Doritos off his face before snapping candid shots.

Emma, on the other hand, is very photogenic and I had to throw this in cause she's so dadgum cute!

This is my "no really, I'm having fun" smile, when I'm totally worried sick that one of these kids is gonna fall off the trailer and under a wheel and be crushed to death.


After it was good and dark, Neal, Jeremy and Jeff schemed to make the last ride for the kids "unforgetable." The boys took off to the woods, sock caps and green flashlight in hand and hid behind the trees waiting for the unsuspecting hayriders. When they jumped out, Jacob and Braden "hit the deck" and Emma was still crying when they got back to the house. Fun times at the Blevins' Farm.

Jeff's contribution to the party was his gift of photography. He did his best to get the kids to calm down enough for a photo shoot and got some very good pics. Except of course of my grandkids, who, as I said, aren't much into photo-taking.







Probably safe to say a modeling career is not in their future.

Braden (Jacob & Lauren's cousin)




Aubrey (little doll)


Picture-perfect Emma (also sister to Aubrey)


Jamison and Haylee (cousins to Jacob & Lauren)

Garrison, Piercen & Baylor
Trista and Lauren

It was a fantastic evening. We couldn't have asked for better weather, Lauren was inundated with gifts, the hot dogs and cupcakes were delicious and there weren't even any flies to bother us.
What?!? High heels??? You gotta be kiddin' me!

Notice one jean leg tucked inside the boot--one untucked. What a trend-setter.

More pictures (I know, can you believe it?) will be posted on Facebook.