Monday, August 29, 2011

New Territory

In case you missed the back to school post, or are new to reading my blog or know nothing about my family, let me fill you in. All of my children, and I only have three, are now in school. Translation: I don’t have any kids at home during the day.

In case you missed my last recital for a while post, or are new to reading my blog or know nothing about my former job as a piano teacher, let me fill you in. I’m not teaching anymore. Translation: The two things that filled my time during and after-school are no more.

Summary of my life right now- This is all new territory for me. I’ve never been here before.

Questions asked.. So did you cry when they left? What are you doing now? Do you miss teaching? What are you going to do with all your free time? and more.

Questions answered…

I actually didn’t cry when the kids left, which is surprising because with Audrey I sobbed on her first day of preschool, kindergarten, okay, both. I didn’t jump up and down for joy but I wasn’t sad either. This is life. The next right step is for my kids to go to school and I’m not going to hold them back because I don’t want our life to change.

The next three questions are all answered in one, sort of. Last Monday I would have started my first week of lessons in the studio. I didn’t do that. When I realized that, I was sad a little. Why? Because I love teaching piano. But I was glad to not have to do that on top of what I’m doing now because where would I fit that in?!!! I’ve been busy.

As a coordinator for the Rosebud Exchange Program, I’ve been at my computer or on my phone a good amount of time, helping host families work out details and fielding questions and exchanging texts and listening to praises and problems. Though I didn’t do as much this summer as I thought I would, I’ve certainly made up for it in the two weeks the kids have been here. This doesn’t take up all my time and comes in waves. I am thrilled to do what I can.

Our home has been an open door to lots of people over the last month, also. I’m so glad for all who stayed. I plan on keeping it that way!

I’ve also spent time with my family as we now work through estate things after the death of my uncle. This definitely comes in chunks and is often a sad, sorrowful thing. My family is never far from my heart as I seek the Lord through it all. I love them and I want His glory to shine through us. Psalm 119:68 says “You are good, and what you do is good.”

I found that verse today in my time in the Word and that’s another thing that I continue to relish- my alone time with Him. I soak Him up as much as I can with these quieter days. It’s not always this way but while I’ve got it, I’m trying to store up as much as I can.

I’m spending time with friends. My friend, Kate, had a little get-together the first Friday of school and then Angie had her craft day. Plus, I’ve had lunch with a friend and other occasions with friends. Yay! I’ve definitely missed that over the years.

I love being there for the kids when they get home. Yup! I look forward to them coming home. I don’t always have fresh cookies or treats, but that was never an integral part of my plan. Yummy, but not integral. We have all sorts of things to share, not to mention a bit of teenage drama to talk through.

My new nephew. Oh, I can’t get enough of him!! He’s growing and doing really well, being 21 days old- yes, ask me, I know. And when I do hold him, I take a picture of him with my phone and send it to Bill to make him jealous. It’s fun.

Other things I’m supposed to be doing…

  • laundry. Hah! Just the other day I realized I should do Bill’s and my laundry. Our routine has been turned upside down for the last few weeks, so laundry and planned meals just happens, sort of.
  • planned meals. No more what’s for supper at 6:00, especially since kids have to get to bed earlier now that school has started. When I taught, I would plan a crock-pot meal, a casserole and a soup as part of every week’s menu. Menu. I should make a menu.
  • cleaning and sorting through every nook and cranny in the house. Yeah, right. That will happen. It actually got started at the beginning of August, but when my uncle suddenly died, everything was put on hold and I’ve literally been too busy to finish it. I should. I will. The stair landing looks like a Goodwill store, according to Aunt Denise. All the nooks and crannies are going to have to wait their turn. 

That’s it. That’s what this new territory looks like so far. I fall into bed each night, more exhausted than I have ever been, with exception to when the kids were babies. My life is good because God is in it and he has told me “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21b

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Dip

You all know I love Ina Garten’s food from the series of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. I just think her recipes are great without a lot of tinkering to get them right. That being said, I tinkered.

I’ve loved her sun-dried tomato dip from the first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook but thought that it always needed a little perking up. Perhaps part of that came from the fact that I never added the amount of green onions the original recipe calls for. So when I volunteered to bring some veggies and dip to Angie’s craft day, I thought of this dip and I thought of all my basil growing in a pot on the back deck and the two collided in a tasty mix (similar to chocolate and peanut butter in a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup, but not). This is what I served up.

Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Dip

  • 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, in oil, drained and chopped finely (about 8 tomatoes)
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. mayo
  • 5-10 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper

Combine the tomatoes, basil, cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Serve with veggies, crackers, etc. Makes 2 cups

Sun-dried Tomato Basil Dip with Veggies

Once you taste it, you’ll have no problem imagining other tasty possibilities. Such as on a BLT. I tried that last night and I think the heavens may have parted and I heard singing. It was that creamy, tangy, salty, smoky, juicy, crispy good.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Craft Day!

My friend, Angie, hosted a craft day earlier this week. Ten of us gathered at her house for crafts and conversation. We crafted during the day while our younglings were all at school (at least, those of us who have younglings). Let me tell you, it was bliss. I wasn’t so focused on making every single project as I was just being with women. It just happened that fabric, paper, tile, hot glue guns, chalkboard paint, Mod Podge, and a die cutting machine were also a part of it.

What/Who was your inspiration for craft day? Meg Duerksen of the Whatever blog!! Here’s Angie showing us Meg.

Angie and Meg

Meg, we love you from the bottom of our hearts and since we may not ever be a part of your fab-o craft day, we made our own!

Here’s the fabric flower table. We took strips or cut out fabric and made a few varieties of fabric flowers. You can pin them on your gorgeous bag, on your blouse, in your hair or add a magnet, like I did.

Flower Pin Table

Here’s the tag table but also has the chalkboard tiles some of us painted. Die cut tags were embellished with doilies, stamps, fabric and knock-your-socks-off calligraphy by Mary. Some were going to use the chalkboard tiles as menu planners. I might get some larger ones, 6x6 and make them as a note station for my kids. The rest of us used Mod Podge and adhered scrapbook paper to the tiles to make coasters or trivets.

Tag Center

Here’s an gathering of our crafts endeavors. The bright perky fabric is for Becky’s office. The bag is Nicole’s but the button on the purse is her creation. See the handwriting on the tags? Mary!!

Crafty Goodness

We also had lunch and Angie made chicken salad. You can immediately taste the sweetness, but it is a pleasant surprise and not overwhelming. Yum!

Angie, thanks for clearing off your basement tables for all of us. I had a great time!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Winterset Harescramble

If you’ve been keeping track, this week’s harescramble coverage is the 3rd one in 3 weeks. That’s right- 3 weekends in a row of racing! We love it. The boys love it. I love it! But I am also ready to not load up again. In my dreams, I hear brrrapppp and see bikes and bikes and bikes. This momma needs a break!

That being said, we loaded up not only the kids, but also three birthday buddies to celebrate Ben’s birthday early. He wanted to bring friends to his race for his party and this was the closest not only to his birthday, but also to where we were willing to drive to with three extra boys in tow.

Ben’s race was super early- 8:30 A.M. so we had the boys spend the night before. That alone would have been enough to call it a birthday party- supper outside, campfire s’mores, boy banter, armpit farts, bike riding, toad catching and more before off to bed at a very reasonable time. After all, they were going to have to get up at 5:30 A.M. so we could get to the race!

At this particular race, it was not only the Iowa Enduro Riders but also the national race with the pro-riders. That means that there are the racers that come from around Iowa and nearby states to race, as usual, plus others who are willing to race the national circuit all over. The pro-riders are the fast, fast guys. It was going to be quite a day.

There were twelve kids in Ben’s race and it was the most difficult one Ben has yet to race. The national riders got off like a shot and flew around the track. Our local boys did their best. Ben ended up getting 7th overall! He’s a bit disappointed because he was hoping for a really good finish. We’re proud of him because he got through the course and rode a good race.

Maxxis Corner

Camo Place Winner

Bill’s race was next and it was a good one, too. Fairly technical- logs, water, rocks. Bill likes that kind of racing. Good thing, too because he got first in his class!

It's RockyRocky Ditch

Podium Bill

Finally, before we watched the pros and A and B riders rip it up, the pros had an autograph session. Let me just say, these guys were nice to our boys (and girl). I think that ought to be the #1 requirement of a pro-anyone of pro-anything: Be good to your fans!!! You were once a little kid with high hopes and now you are that inspiration to many kids; you set a example of how an professional should behave to your peers and you earn the respect of your “elders”. If you can’t be nice, you shouldn’t be a pro!

Group AutographAutograph TimeGirl AutographLittle Autographs

Our friend, Joe, was able to come down from MN for the race! Yeah!Talking ShopJoe and Bill

The ultimate fan club always includes Aunt Denise!

Fan Club

Maybe the first time all day, all 4 sat down together?! They were hot, tired, dirty yet still smilin’!

Race Friends

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mt. Pleasant Harescramble

This past weekend was the Mt. Pleasant Harescramble. That’s right- we went! It was at the site of Greenhurst Farm and this beautiful barn was a part of the action as you’ll see later on.

Barn- Mt. Pleasant

Now, for your viewing pleasure, I recorded the start of Ben’s race. Ben chose to start his own bike instead of Dad doing it and that’s why he’s towards the end of the pack at the start.

But keep reading…

Ben Rounding Corner2, Mt. Pleasant

Ben On His Way2- Mt. Pleasant

There are a couple of boys that show up at almost every race. In this race, Ben was battling Weston. He’d be just so close, we’d scream and cheer for Ben to pass him, watch him come around again, and hoot and holler some more. On the final lap, Ben passed him! It was good racing!

Ben and Weston- Mt. Pleasant

It was dusty on the trail. Nice ‘stache, Ben!

Ben Lip Stache- Mt. Pleasant

So, we’re all excited to hear how Ben placed. We head to the awards, listen to the different place winners and hear Ben’s name for 2nd place!!

He steps up to receive his award and what is it this time?

a mug.

That’s right, folks. While thoughtful and practical AND unusual, it is not exactly what an 8 year old looks forward to receiving. Hence, the lonely picture of the mug- no Ben.

Ben 2nd Place- Mt. Pleasant

On to Bill’s race. Here’s the start of the big bikes as so aptly named. You’ll notice four rows of riders. The first row is the AA class. These are the fastest. Usually the youngest, too. The next row are the A riders- the next fastest with multiple ages. Third row- B riders, multiple ages again. Fourth row- C riders- inexperienced racers, or those who aren’t competing in the same manner as the young guns with multiple ages. (a courtesy of harescramble 101Smile)

Did you find Bill? Remember- all black helmet, orange bike, orange shirt, WHITE pants!

Now, where does the barn come in? At the end of a lap, the riders rode through the barn where the checkpoint was. Cool!

Bill Into Barn- Mt. Pleasant

And then out for some more dust!

Bill Dusty- Mt. Pleasant

Don’t worry, honey, I’ll wash up for you…

Bill Creek Crossing- Mt. Pleasant

Unfortunately for Bill, his throttle got stuck wide open on the 3rd lap. Not a good thing. On downhills, he’d kill the engine and then coast down, and start ‘er back up. This lost him a lot of time and in the end he didn’t place. Sad smile

He also sustained some injuries during the race. I didn’t take pictures of his owies because I was doctoring him up. Nothing major that a few band-aids and ice packs and scabs and ibuprofen couldn’t help.

Aunt Denise was visiting from Seattle and Grandma Ward donned a lawn chair for the race.


Grandpa helped at the end of Ben’s race, taking off the scoring tags.


You can also find some shade and talk bikes with the other kids.


Play with the farm dog.


Or look at the cows in the farmyard.


If you went down to the creek crossing, well then, of course, you could play in the water!


It was a great day for racin’ and a great day for family to hang out.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School, 2011 Edition

Back to School Audrey, 8th, 2011Back to School Ben, 3rd, 2011Back to School Luke, Kdg., 2011

                  8th grade                                                                     3rd grade                                                          Kindergarten

All 3 Back to School, 2011

Walking to Bus

Getting On Bus

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Today I’m linking you to another friend of mine, Jen. Her and her husband, Jason, have adopted one little guy and are in the process of adopting three more kids. You can go to her blog, Jason and Jen’s Journey, to read all about them.

The link today from her blog is to a magazine article of another family (go to pages 56, 57) and that’s what I’d really like you to read.

The author of the article mentions two times the picture of walking off the cliff. Huh. I’ve been using that word picture this past year in relation to hosting Rosebud students. In fact, I used it just earlier this week in a conversation with, coincidentally, Jen’s sister, Kate! It’s the idea of taking the faith you say you have and doing what Jesus calls you to do. (And it doesn’t always mean adopting, foster care, hosting, etc. It actually means A LOT of things.) In this world, it looks upside down. It doesn’t fit. It’s uncomfortable for those who don’t get it. It’s not of this world. And to get to that point, it feels like your jumping off a cliff.

When you’re ready. Really, really ready. When you’ve been convinced in your heart that this is what God says to do and you are at the point of obedience, there is still the matter of your feet having to leave the edge. Look, don’t look- it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to jump.

Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 

Gee, Mindy, sounds fun. What do I get out of it? woo. hoo.

Well, nothing, if you approach it like that! You won’t even leave the edge.

No one jumps with just one part of their body.

But… if you go all out over the edge, maybe with a whoop of a wild banshee, a ‘yee-haw’ holler, a shout or even a scared cry and you pee your pants a little, it’ll be okay.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:29-30

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Matthew 16: 24-26


If you’re thinking of that cliff’s edge and need some encouragement, give me a holler. I’d love to help you jump! Smile

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ordinary and Extraordinary

My friends, Jake and Janel, and the team that went them have returned from Ghana! I am so excited to hear every story that she and others will share about their time. Some very ordinary people went and saw God do some extraordinary things!!

I’m not going to link to it every day, but if you look on my sidebar, you’ll notice “My Blog List” and the Team Sullivan blog is listed. You can go right to Janel’s blog by clicking on it. However, here is today’s post just to get you hooked. You won’t regret it.

In other news, my daughter is on a bus with about 16 others and it’s headed to South Dakota and back in one day to bring 23 kids to Iowa for this year’s exchange program!!! We are not hosting any students this year, but instead are helping support host families. This is going to be a year like no other for the program. You can pray that all those exchange kids would get on the bus, for safe travels, and for the host families and others who will enter into relationship with them. Again, these are ordinary people letting God do extraordinary things in their lives!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Son, My Husband, My Nephew and Niece

Otherwise titled: Fremont Hare Scramble

(I was trying to keep the title theme going that kind of happened on it’s own this week, but it was messing with my hare scramble title theme.)

Last Sunday was the Fremont Hare Scramble. It has been over a month since the last race and Ben was just dying to get to the race. We spent the night before in a hotel, due to the funeral. At 6:30 A.M., when our alarms went off, our eyes struggled to pry open while Ben’s just popped open. While we roused ourselves, he laid in bed and chanted “I’m hyper. I’m hyper.” This is pretty much his cue that he’s ready to go, please everyone get dressed as fast as possible and if you can, skip breakfast. Let’s go!

This kind of concentration…


wins you this!

Fremont Ben, 3rd Place

Dad’s turn over a log…

Fremont Bill Front TireDSC_0642Fremont Bill Clear


1st place for him- but no picture because a) they were short award plaques and b) I’m supposedly not allowed to post place winners pictures of him on here. Hmph!

Look who came to the race this time? Texas cousins!!

Race Day Family

What do you do at a hare scramble if you’re not racing and your Uncle Bill’s race lap length is 13 miles long? Sit. Wait. Whittle out a fish hook. And smile for your Aunt Mindy. Right, Tayla? (oh, you also can get chiggers, but we’d prefer not to talk about that. Sad smile )


Jabin was just itching (figuratively, at this point) to ride. A hare scramble really isn’t the place to ride around. There isn’t room. So once we got back home, we unloaded bikes, donned helmets, pants and boots and headed to the empty lots next door.

Riding Jabin

Jabin took off immediately. Fast. After getting a feel for the bike for approximately 10 seconds, he decided he was ready for some dirt pile action.

Pre Jump JabinJump Jabin

I see someone’s been paying attention to his cousin’s riding.

First course of action: Go.

Second: Stand up.

Standing Jabin

Last: Stop. Later. Three laps later. Smile

Riding 201 Jabin

At one point, he stopped by to yell out, “Momma! I’m in second gear!”

Tayla was thrilled with the toads the boys had caught. Poor Mario and Luigi. They got the handling of their lives. (I tried capturing the toad happiness but never got a good shot.)

What a full, fun day!