Sunday, May 30, 2010

Serving Men

Today marks Memorial Day. We remember those who have served and those who have fallen for our country. I am especially blessed for the men in my family who served in the arm forces. I'd like to tell you about. I do a terrible job of remembering exactly what branch and duty they served and it is not meant to be disrespectful, so I'll do my best and everyone can comment and fill me in on the specifics.

My Grandpa Juel served in World War II. I know he was in California. I know he always polished his boots because that put him in better standing with the officers. I think he helped run medical supplies.
My Uncle Bob served in the Vietnam War. I know he signed up right after high school instead of waiting to be recruited, which means he was 18. I know he went and came back with his best friend. I know he worked on the fighting planes. I know my mom, his sister, wrote letters to him on toilet paper. I know he saw things no one ever should see, especially when you 18. He doesn't talk too much about it. It's never glamorous in his eyes.
My Step-dad, Jerry, served in Vietnam. I know he worked on an air craft carrier. I know he learned how to crack 3 eggs in each hand at a time. I know he worked in the boiler room.
My Father-in-law, Bill, served in Vietnam. I know he guarded an air base. I know he worked the extra shifts no one else wanted because what else was there to do. I know he learned to hate green peppers while on duty. I know his dad, Bill, served in World War II.

 I know so very little about the duty of each of these men, yet I consider a few things. I think that war must make you hate war. I'm pretty sure that the term "friend" has no limit, no end during conflict. I'd say the thought process of sacrifice is checked at the door, when you sign the papers. 
I know that when these men die, they will receive a 21 gun salute and an American flag will be draped over their casket (and the grandpas have).
I know that I am thankful. You served for those you knew, those you didn't know, those you had met, those you were yet to meet and those who you will never meet.
Thank you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Weekend Riders

This past weekend Bill took Audrey and Ben up to Minnesota to ride the motorcycles with our friend Joe. The area is normally for horseback riding, but a couple times a year it is opened up to motorcycles. (no horses, of course)
They left Friday night and came home Sunday. Here are pictures and my captions from their weekend.
So they get there kind of late Friday night and have to set up the tent. In the dark. At least Bill had set up the brand new tent in our basement the night before so he kind of knew how the thing went together.
And after you've been driving til dark and setting up a tent in the dark, there is just nothing like building a campfire- after you hunt for sticks and make four attempts at lighting the damp wood.
The next morning was a sound check. I guess to make sure the bikes weren't too nosiy. This picture cracks me up because the bikes are seemingly arranged according to color. I can just hear them- "Alright folks, we may be borderin' on bein' redneck, but there just ain't no cause for color confusion." I might have liked the trip after all.

The area where they rode is really nice. Here's a shot of the campground. Trucks, trailers, campers, etc. And if you weren't riding, you had to be eating. Goodness gracious, the food I packed for those three!! Lunch meat, veggies, chips, rice krispy treats, brats, potato packets, homemade scones and more! You can just see Audrey and Ben in the lower corner- reading and eating. And no, that isn't our truck.

This is the sweaty head of my boy. He rode, and rode and rode. He ran out of gas at least two times in less than 48 hours. Anytime he can ride, he is in heaven. Bill said he thought Ben might just actually sleep with his motorcycle the way some kids fall asleep at Christmas with their arms around their favorite toy!
Bill- "This is the life, man! Miles of groomed trails, campfire, sweat and no cell phone range, so work can't get a hold of me. Now, if only my woman were here."
Audrey, on phone at a high lookout- "Hi, Mom. I miss you. I love you. Can you come here and make us food? Dad just dropped Ben's bratwurst in the fire and he burnt our grilled cheese sandwiches."
"I'd rather be riding than stopping at this dumb lookout."

Whoops. A little too far off road. Don't they look like the troopers from Star Wars "Return of the Jedi"?
"Use the Force, son, to get your bike out of the trees" Alas, young Ward apprentice's belief in the Force is too weak and Master Jedi Dad must do it for him.

This is fun!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Homemade Scones

I make scones. I do. I've become known for my scones. They are good. My mom has told me that now, she never buys scones in a coffeeshop because mine are so much better. Really.
The recipe really isn't mine to begin with. Bill found it for me a long time ago. I don't know how or why since he had never eaten a scone nor drank a cup of coffee in his life, but love will do that to a man.
The website is Joy of and I just visited it. What she has listed as traditional and coffeeshop type scones is different than what I got years ago, so whatever to that. Here is what I make that gets rave reviews.

Cream Scones

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 c. unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. heavy cream

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. cream
Turbinado (raw) sugar

Variations- about 1/3 c. each unless noted:
Dried cherries- vanilla chips
Dried cranberries- orange zest (1Tbsp)
Dried strawberries
Dried blueberries
Chocolate chips
Cinnamon chips
Chopped, toasted pecans

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter to large coarse crumbs. Add variations at this point. Mix together egg, vanilla, and cream. Stir into the well of flour until moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until dough is smooth. Pat into a 7” circle about 1” thick. Cut into 8 triangle sections. Separate and place on a parchment lined sheet. Brush with glaze and sprink turbinado sugar on top. Bake 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Edited to add: In response to the queries about the cinnamon chips and where to get them, I buy them at a bulk food store in Mt. Pleasant, near where Bill's parents live. Every time we visit them, I drag Bill's mom to town with me to buy several bags of them. If you are near me and would like some, just let me know and I'll just give you some. If you don't live near me, you can ask your grocer to start stocking them. Both Hershey's and King Arthur's Flour make them. Or you can buy them online. Or you can take Amtrak to Mt. Pleasant and visit the bulk food store. 
Turbinado sugar is raw sugar. You can find it in the baking aisle near the sugar. I think the box I bought called it sugar in the raw.
I don't usually add the glaze to the tops of the scones. Why? Because it requires more cream and another egg and I'm stingy. Also, if I don't make it, then I can get two scone recipes out of one pint of cream. The sugar still sticks to the tops without it.
Now, I've just recently tweaked my cinnamon chip variation by adding a teaspoon of hazelnut syrup to it. It gives an extra depth to the flavor. Don't know what cinnamon chips are? They are just like chocolate chips except cinnamon flavored You must find yourself some and a world of possibilities will open up to you. Plus, you will never be able to make a nice cranberry/orange scone ever again.
You will never buy scones again. Just save your money for the coffee. Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicken Update

I thought you might be interested in seeing what those sweet chicks have grown into. Not quite so sweet any more. You might want to start thinking along the lines of succulent now. They only have a few more weeks left and they are getting big. I did not take a picture of the next set of chickens that are three weeks behind, but the difference is quite noticeable.
I went out to Shelli's the other night to help put them to bed and Luke and Ariana came with me. Luke got to fill the feeders and Ariana got to turn on and off the hose so I could fill the waterers. Then we went to look at Shelli's barn and while in the barn, I spotted an egg. I pulled Ariana over and asked her what she saw. She asked, "Is it an Easter egg?", because the egg was brown. Shelli let her take it home and Ariana was all ready to have her egg for breakfast the next morning.
The fund raising for the Bibles is moving along. The goal amount to raise is going to take a while as we hope to instill the value of giving to the jr. highers by having them give most of the money towards the Bibles. At this point, mostly, we'd love your prayers for our endeavors. And the chickens would like you to eat more beef! :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I-Cubs Fits Luke

After the recital, the fam went to an I -Cubs game. We went with the 3-M club and had a tasty meal and got free hats. We were going to get t-shirts, but they were all adult x-large, so never mind. Doesn't Luke look cute?

We got cozy under our winter coats, hats, mittens, and blankets. It was a pretty cold for our night game.

About the 8th inning, an I-Cubs guy comes up to Luke and asks him if he wants to answer the Honey Bee Trivia question. Huh? Well, Luke said yes and he got to go down, stand on top of the visiting teams's dugout. They asked the trivia question, and guess, what? Luke got the question right! Okay, they primed him. And his prize? An adult x-large t-shirt!! Now, there was this little girl sitting in front of us and she was all about Luke once he was famous. 

We had tuckered out kids after the game. Luke never took hat off the whole time. I tried to change him into his jammies when we got home, but he wouldn't let me take his hat off. As soon as I'd pull it up, he'd reach up and hold it down. 
 We had such a great time. Thanks, 3M and I-Cubs!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Piano Recital

A couple of weeks ago was my piano studio's spring recital.  All 18 of my students played. Each played at least two pieces from memory. I had three students perform original compositions and there was one duet involving a student, a teacher and two sombrero hats! I would like to say we had fun, but most of my students would not say the recital is fun :)
Ben and Audrey both played and I have included part of Audrey's performance.

I'm so proud of all my students for their playing. There are only a few experiences in life like a piano recital. Where you have only one shot to get it right, to go for perfection without any direct coaching in the process. It is huge! When they sit at the piano to play, even though I'm close by, I can't say to them "Okay, get louder here. More! More! Slow down. Listen." etc. They have to do it all themselves. And when they don't quite get it right, they have to learn how to handle themselves through it. It's big.
I'm proud of them. Did I already say that? I know. Afterwards, I got up to talk but couldn't because I was crying. It took me a while to get my composure. The students, however, were hoping I'd hurry up and get done because there was cake and ice cream waiting for them!!

And look at this cake!! My friend, Kristin, made this cake for me! It officially goes down in the history books as the coolest piano recital cake ever! It also tasted great.
I'd show a picture of my entire piano studio, but I don't have permission from the parents, so I can't. I will share with you the quote I read, but mostly cried through, to the audience at the recital and I think it aptly sums up how I feel about my students.
"You will be a musician when not only your hands but also your heart and mind are full of music." Robert Schumann

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What it takes to be a MIL

This is my mother-in-law, Laura. Laura Lee to some, but Mom to her two sons and their wives, her daughter and Grandma to 5. Pretty much that's all it takes.
Oh, well that really wouldn't be doing justice to this wonderful woman I love, so I'll go on...
Well, I met her for the first time at her son's graduation from undergrad. We went to Hickory Park for supper. She was nice. Later, I threw up from the nerves of meeting Bill's parents for the first time. (She doesn't know that and it isn't it all related to how wonderful she is and didn't affect our relationship. Well, at least not up to this point.)
Then I spent the night at her house and ate cinnamon rolls from the wrong pan. The pan that she had made to send to her daughter in college out of state.
I chose not to order salad at Hickory Park anymore and made sure I waited for the rest of the family before sneaking a cinnamon roll. She forgave me for all of that.
After that, we pretty much hit it off.
Then we went shopping for flowers for my bridal shower. She showed me how to make a piecrust, angel food cake and 7-minute frosting and how to can green beans and make homemade applesauce.
She is lovely. She has the nicest complexion. But her true beauty is inside. She loves the Lord and she has a gentle spirit. Seriously, I have hardly ever seen her lose her cool. And let me tell you, she is juggling a lot sometimes. Being a farmer's wife is way more than just chief cook and bottle washer.
She loves to bake cookies and rice kripsy treats with her grandkids. She makes baby blankets. She manages an ever expanding garden. She is first to give out hugs and kisses when someone has an owie. She is tender that way.
Her love language is words of encouragement. Mom, you have loved your family truely, deeply and respectfully and I want you to know, it means all the world to me.  

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I get some of it from her

This is my other grandma, my dad's mom. Her name is Madeline. She is 91!! She wouldn't mind me telling you because if you talked to her (which takes a minimum hour on the phone), she would tell you. She would also tell you that she hates being slowed down by her age. Her hair is red and her spirit is red, too! In her hair, which she has done for her, she wears a net over it. The net has little colorful balls in it and no matter what age you are, you notice them. I will always remember them. When we would visit Grandma on her farm, she would wrap masking tape around the little glass jelly jars she used for drinking water. She didn't want them to slip out of our hands and break. She also had an electric organ and would play for us the song that goes: 5 foot 2, eyes of blue, oh those blue eyes what they can do, has anybody seen my girl. We loved it. I tried to play it, but never could figure it out. Then she would let us play her organ, which thinking about it now, is amazing, because this grandma never really let us get all out of control. But there we would sit, flipping all the levers, running the feet bars and making all kinds of noise.
Grandma is very meticulous, very thorough, very organized. I get it from her. She can pack an elephant in a closet and still have room leftover. She is even now, still organizing. Just recently she was looking for replacement pages to a recipe binder she received as a wedding gift. I tried to say Uh, Grandma? They probably don't make those anymore. But she will not have it. They must be out there somewhere! Where there's a will, there's a way.
Using that red hair power, she has managed to track down and write at least two complete family genealogies traveling from here to there. In her younger days, she raised chickens and baked cakes for money. She made my brother, sister and I a teddy bear cake for our 1st birthdays, which we promptly all grabbed the white buttons off of and ate. She has this laugh that kind of bursts out AHH, hahahaha! I'm developing my own version of it, I think. (I've listened to myself.)
At Christmastime, she unwraps each gift very carefully because she does not want to rip the paper that's been taped. Oh, how it drives us nuts!! But then, she has made walnut salad, or something like it and everybody is happy. She brings it in the same bowl everytime, though I must confess that I've never tasted it! Jill, Jane, anybody from my family, what does it taste like? Grandma is an excellent cook and she passed those skills on to her 2 sons and 1 daughter and our family reunions have the best food. I am very glad about that!
Grandma is amused by the antics of her great-grandchildren as they play with her old toys that my dad and my siblings and I played with at her feet. And one day I happened to notice her feet and discovered that it is from her that I get my "dainty ankles" as a friend put it.
This grandma I love. How can I not? God gave her to me by way of her son. She made sure my dad knew about Jesus and passed her faith on to him and him to me. She cares for me, loves me. And I love her!

PS. She has never told me what she plans to do in heaven, like my other grandma expressed, but I can imagine it will be something to do with a genealogy. tee hee- that's going to take a while!

Friday, May 14, 2010

She Gets Me

This is my grandma. We call her Grandma Juel, but her name is Mary. She is my mom's mom. I love her.
She let us spend the night at her house all the time. Grandma used to let us use so much bubble bath that we were itchy afterwards because it didn't get rinsed off enough. She used to hum while working (but then we pestered her enough and she stopped but now I wish she hadn't). She sews. She sews counter-cross stich, plastic canvas, embroidery and all kinds of things for us when we were little. She gave me my first sewing basket and box. She has made an ABC book for each of her three grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She has made blankets for her son and daughter and all the rest of us, multiple times over. My family calls them great-grandma blankets and we love them. Mine is falling apart. She embroidered flour sack towels for me and they were done with chickens and roosters. She didn't even know I liked roosters. One time she saw these forks that were bent to stand up and hold a picture or recipe card, etc. and bought them for me. I have an apron of hers that she made. I love the print on it. She gets me.
Grandma grew up in the time of the Depression and it just so happens that many of the little things of the Depression Era connect with me. Grandma grew up in Escondido, California where her mother did other's laundry and her father worked in the harvesting fields. Grandma's maiden name was Zickefoose. (I know!!!) She moved from Cali to Iowa after she met my grandpa on a blind date and married him. Grandma put up with a lot on the farm- outdoor plumbing, chasing cows, pigs, horses, chickens, canning and canning and canning the scores of tomatoes Grandpa would grow. She puts up with a son and particularly a grandson who like to get her riled up. Occassionally she dishes back and it cracks us all up.
Grandma has a tender heart. She would feed any stray animal, but mostly cats. There were so many cats! (That part I did not like.) She was married to Grandpa for 51 years. When she gets to heaven she plans on sitting on the front porch rocking babies for the rest of eternity. My Grandma has this kind of love that is unspeakable. You can't name it, but you can feel it.  I'm so thankful for her and her love to me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


This is my mom. Her name is Linda. She's been my mom for almost 36 years!
What does it take to be the MVM (most valuable mom)?
-give birth in the middle of July after a day of canning
-move two weeks later to another state
-give birth to another daughter and a son
-sing songs
-read books
-make matching mother's day outfits for her and her girls
-remove lots of ticks from my scalp
-take care of me in the hospital after all the tick bites
-endure two weeks of chicken pox
-give lots of haircuts and perms
-drive and pay and endure years of piano/flute/trumpet/violin/cello lessons and practice
-help me memorize AWANA verses
-be my first camp counselor
-pray with me at my first camp to become a Christ follower
-pay for more camp/missions trips
-sit in cold weather on uncomfy bleachers to watch me cheerlead and play in the band
-make almost all of our meals from scratch
-shop for a lovely peach prom dress
-drive me to college, away from home
-listen to me cry over the phone from college
-be nice to the guy who drove me home
-keep being nice to the same guy who keeps coming home with me
-shop for a wedding dress
-watch me get a little tipsy from a strawberry dacquiri that was supposed to be NA
-alter a wedding dress and makes 4 bridesmaid dresses and 1 flower girl dress
-show up at the hospital at 7 am for a grandbaby
-wait until 7 pm at the hospital to finally hold grandbaby
-use 3 (or was it 4?) rolls of 24 exposure film in a 4 day stay on grandbaby
-rejoice over more and more grandbabies
-helps plan and carry out piano recitals/birthdays/graduations/holidays
-know how much punch/sandwiches/salads/soup/cake to make for recitals/birthdays/graduations/holidays
-sit through more soccer, softball, track, baseball, cheerleading in all weather for grandkids
-listen to band, choir and piano performances for grandkids
-trust in God that no matter what, He is still taking care of her children and grandchildren

Mom, I am so grateful to have you. You are just what God knew I needed for a mom. You are to me the Most Valuable Mom! Thank you for everything! I love you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Go Fish - The Mom Song

My Mother's Day stuff is coming way late. Possibly because I'm a mom. But I heard this song off of Go Fish's Snazzy album (a gift from a great mom and friend, Jacqui!) and I just love it!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Gnome for your Home

Is this not the sweetest gnome you have ever seen? This fellows name is Willy, so named and created by the students of East Ballard Elementary School, of which Audrey got to partake in. A couple of weeks ago was the premier of the garden gnomes being displayed at Reiman Gardens in Ames and Audrey and I went to see Willy and the rest of the gnomes created by other schools and clubs. We had a great time seeing all them and friends who were visiting as well.

The Ballard High School had Bordywicke. He's pretty great, too.

We saw this gnome which is said to be the largest concrete gnome. He didn't have a name when we saw him. What I loved were the names that each group named their gnomes: Wizzlepop Eugene, Archireimanwinkle by Architects Smith Metzger or RipVanArtWinkle by Mid Iowa Wood Carvers. But my favorite name was Twinkle Winkle Rootsmitten Shootsnoodle by the Roots and Shoots 4-H Club.
If you are near Ames, take time to wander through the beautiful gardens of Reiman Gardens and see the gnomes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Life by Luke

I'm a bit swamped under right now. It is recital week here among other activities, so this is short. It might be it for the week. Here is Luke reciting a verse for us. We work on memory verses almost every night and often times Luke is still finishing supper when we do them so he doesn't actually say them with us. But this particular night he surprised us by being able to say this verse back to us.