Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Show Choir, Our First Experience

A couple of Saturdays ago, the Ballard 7th and 8th grade show choir went to their first competition of the year. Since they were singing at 8:50 in the morning our day started extra, extra early.

Commence coffee, breakfast in the bathroom, curling irons, hair products, make-up, hairspray, more make-up, hairspray.


After the fog lifted from the bathroom, I found my cell phone slightly shellaced with hairspray, but there was no time for cleaning that off. We had to get to the show!!

I plopped down in my seat with a friend beside me and we waited for the Ballard Re-Mix to make their appearance.


*GASP!* The girls were so pretty with their hair done up. The boys looked nice but a little more out of place, what with a slick green shirt, a tie, dress pants, and on stage at an early hour.

We listened and watched as they went through their show- 4 songs all with actions. Yay!! Cheer!! WooHoo!!

After it was over, the kids changed into regular clothes, got something to eat and we all watched and waited until the rest of the middle school choirs were done.

Then it was time for the announcements of who would win. *Fingers crossed*

Aw, not us this year. That’s okay. We have a tremendously big show choir, which I think is awesome. They sang well. And more importantly, as one kid even said, they had fun! Perfect!!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Break Your Heart

Tonight I share this for some friends of mine. I wrote this a year ago, scribbled into a notebook from my purse on a Sunday morning in a grocery store parking lot. A tough decision was made back then; a tough decision was made this week. Both were right; both were in love. Both bounce hollow from this world’s viewpoint. This came after hearing it’s echo.

Get your hand dirty

Are you gonna listen and then ignore

Or are you gonna fall to your knees, face to the floor

Will you walk along side, feel the hurts and the pains

Will you risk all you have or let someone else carry the stains

Do you dare to try what He asks of you

Be obedient and love

Let Him be faithful and true

Will your heart ache, will you see as He does

Enter in, get your hands dirty, break your heart 

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Whole Bunch of Stuff

As I was running errands today, I drove past a business adding a big addition to their building. What caught my attention was the porta-pot on top of the roof! It must make sense to them; the workers don’t have to climb up and down to take care of business. But what I’m wondering about is the draft, ya know? And it is still winter, with wind. Might be worth the extra 5 minutes of ladder climbing.

I’ve started a running training program. I’m running up to six days a week. I have to wear a heart-rate monitor. My workouts probably look weird- a 30 second fast, hard pace with 90 seconds of rest in between or a hard steady hill climb for 15 seconds just to turn around and walk down the hill and do it all over again. I’m running outside as much as I can. So that’s what I’m doing if you see me sprint out and then stop. I’m not possessed. I’m training.

I made a mason jar meal for Audrey for lunch the other day. Here’s the link to where I got the idea. I layered dressing, carrots, pine nuts, cranberries, feta cheese and spinach in a wide-mouth pint jar. At lunch time her friends wondered what in the world she had and then thought it was cool. Audrey said it wasn’t bad. Ben thought it was dumb, but you know him and salad.

I’ve stopped buying granola bars and am now making them. We are on our third different recipe. I sent a molasses laden batch to school for Luke’s treat bucket day. Don’t worry- no peanuts in them, which is unusual for a granola bar. When we find a happy recipe that fits our whole family, I’ll try to let you know. Pretty much homemade granola bars are like A MILLION TIMES healthier than most store-bought varieties.

I’m eating kale now. It’s a green, sort of like spinach. And like spinach and homemade granola bars, it’s healthy. I’ve pinned a recipe for a kale/avocado smoothie. I’ve yet to make it, though I have had a kale and avocado salad and that was good. I first had kale at my sister’s and then got adventurous on my own and bought some. When I ran out, I decided I wouldn’t get any that week because the Fareway store I shop at doesn’t carry it so that would mean a trip to Hy-Vee for it and I wasn’t going to make another stop just for it. Well, guess what I found in the produce section near the lettuce? I told the teen checker my whole story. She smiled (take that to mean: politely, in a nice way until I left and then she most likely rolled her eyes).

I’ve stopped drinking caffeinated coffee. I decided I needed to quit for just a week, you know, detox a little. I knew if I went complete cold turkey, I’d be out for a couple of days, so I weaned off gradually with going to green tea. Now I’m down to brown water- that is, decaf coffee. I plan to stay that way, with only minor exceptions, because I found out that caffeine was affecting my body in the sweating department. Too much info? Probably.

When I’ve cut out caffeine before, I noticed a huge spike craving for chocolate. But this time not so much. I think it has to do with running every day and perhaps the kale. Let’s just say it is, okay? But speaking of chocolate, I’ve found a new brand of chocolate that is absolutely AWESOME! It is Divine chocolate.  Divine Chocolate is a Fair Trade chocolate, meaning the farmers are paid a fair wage, have personal investment and say in the company and a sense of empowerment and that is NOT the way most cacao workers are treated. Where to find it in my area? World Goods on Main St. and Wheatsfield, both in Ames and World Market in West Des Moines.

Jan 12 blog post

When I came home the other night, Luke had a friend over to play. At first I wasn’t sure because I heard boy banter but didn’t see any boys. Then I saw feet sticking out from under Luke’s bed. That’s when I heard this “Oh, there’s my ant farm!”

I found a small, metallic letter “H” in my hair while doing it one day. I have no idea of what, when, where, why, how.

I had a dream about cleaning out my toenails. Perhaps it was because of all the running I’ve been doing on trails in squishy mud.

At the beginning of the month, Bill had double hernia surgery. It was a long day at the hospital, mostly because coming out of anesthesia is a blast and then you have to “go” before they let you leave. Since Bill wasn’t allowed to drink any liquid whatsoever after midnight the night before, it took him quite a while to get hydrated enough.

Once we were home there was a no touching Dad rule for a while. What I found out later is that there is also a no laughing rule for those who’ve just had their guts stuck back in. I cracked a really good joke and got both of us laughing, except that it hurt Bill to laugh and he told me to stop. Except that I couldn’t. I left, tried to compose myself and then come back in the room. But I couldn’t. I kept laughing. And that’s when Bill shut the door and locked me out. All because I was too funny. Nice way to treat your nurse!

He’s healed  up and fine now and has let me back in the room and we are still laughing.

And that’s a bunch of stuff from lately.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Racing Is In Their Blood…


and on their sheets!


Bill riding New Year’s Day.

Luke’s “race track” drawn with his new pen from Grandpa! (if you look closely, you can tell it’s Luke’s- with an apostrophe!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ham and Beans

Subtitle- Why I Make My Kids Eat Poison

The other day I made Ham and Beans for supper. My family was not exactly enthusiastic. I didn’t expect them to be. I was okay with that. Here are some reasons why I did it anyway. No particular order, mind you.

Ham and Beans are a cheap meal. Super cheap! I already had a really meaty ham bone leftover from Christmas that I had frozen. A bag of beans costs less than 2 bucks. Salt, pepper and whatever other seasonings you want to throw in, you already have in your pantry. Make the whole bag of beans so you’ll have leftovers, unless your family devours them, for make-ahead chimichangas, etc. and you’re looking at stretching those $2 very far. If you need to be on a budget-tightening menu plan, ham and beans are for you.

Expanding the family’s palate is cheaper when you do it at home versus at a restaurant. You only have to put a small portion on their plate and pay the same compared to whatever a dish costs at a restaurant only to have them not eat 98% of it and still have a hungry kid.

Teaching your kids to eat what’s in front of them is much easier to do in your home than anywhere else. Besides the fact that it makes others uncomfortable hearing a kid get lectured about eating what’s in front of them, it saves the child the humiliation of knowing everyone else just heard his lecture and will now be watching to see if he complies.

It’s another chance for gratitude. Not just the “Dear God, thank you that Mom did not make ham and beans again.” prayer but gratitude for a lot of things.

A chance to practice not complaining. This is very closely linked to the gratitude thing.

A chance to praise your kids for not complaining, for eating it even though they didn’t like it, whatever.

A chance to do something they don’t like. Seriously. Make them grow up a little and try something new/hard. Make yourself grow up a little.

There is a very great chance that my kids may take a missions trip sometime or go somewhere where the food is not “normal”. I’d love for them to be willing tasters. In many cultures, food is a symbol of honor. Breaking bread together is a door to the gospel. A tribal man is honored that you are visiting them and has a goat slaughtered for a feast (which may have cost him any number of months of wages). It is not cool if one says “Hey, Mr. Tribal guy, I want to share Jesus with you but there is NO WAY I’m eating THAT!” You might as well pack up your Bible bags and head home.

On that point, ham and beans and butternut squash soup and other non-favorites may never be favorites, but after being in a different culture for a while, those things aren’t going to be so bad after all.

I’ve yet to lose a kid to new tastes.

I’ve had less than a half a dozen true “fails” in trying new dishes in 16 years.

You never know when something will be a hit. Quinoa, couscous and real (not instant) wild rice, for instances.

The family that farts, ahem… I retain the right to recant my stance on ham and beans at any gas-producing time.


Just ‘cause

My uncle taught me in one sentence that if I was going to complain, then go out in the kitchen in make my own d@*m meal! *gulp* (I didn’t even know how to start the gas stove!)

Which is all to say, I’m not trying to make my kids’ culinary lives miserable. Really. The ‘cause statements are statements of authority and trust. Since I’m the parent, I get the primary say and they are to be obedient and respectful of me. (I’m not making this up, it’s in Eph. 6.) I also get the responsibility of not abusing or exasperating my kids. (Also in Eph. 6) I don’t make out my weekly menu, rub my hands together and laugh an evil laugh while relishing the thought of squirming, gagging kids at the dinner table. Most of the time, my menus are full of the good stuff we all love to eat (though I could do without pepperoni for pretty much forever). When I throw a different one in there, its with these things in mind.

Finally, I must say that my kids are not there yet. I’ve yet to have them dance and celebrate the first time I mention ham and beans. Or say “Yippee.” Or even “Okay”. They may or may not have artfully pushed it around on their plates, feigning consumption. I’m okay with all of that. That’s what parenting is about.

porch beans cornbread 119

This picture is the PW’s Beans and Cornbread. Both were really easy to make and tasty.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Christmas Recipes

This is just a gathering of recipes or links to recipes that I made this year for the various Christmas get-togethers. There aren’t pictures- which is unfortunate. Though I don’t need a step by step picture of the process, I do like to see the recipe complete. Oh well.

My mom used to make a punch very similar to this one except that she would keep the base frozen so that we could scrap off what we wanted then add the soda into our glass, which is still a possibility. I turned it into a punch for the crowd.

Banana Brunch Punch

  • 6 medium very ripe bananas
  • 12 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 3 c. warm water, divided
  • 2 c. sugar, divided
  • 46 oz. pineapple juice
  • 3 –2 liter bottles lemon-lime soda

In a blender, add bananas, orange juice and lemonade; blend until smooth. Remove half of mixture, setting aside. Add 1 1/2 c. water and 1 c. sugar to blender and process until smooth. Pour into a freezer container. Repeat with second half of mixture and remaining water and sugar. Cover and freeze until solid. One hour before serving, remove from freezer. Just before serving, pour into a large punch bowl and add pineapple juice and soda; still until blended.

One night we had appetizers for supper. Do you know how hard it is to not make appetizer night “cheese and pork night”? While there’s nothing wrong with various forms of cheese and pork, it can get a little… heavy. Plus, the kids inevitably eat just the crackers that go with everything and never get filled up.

So this year, thanks to cruising a couple of great food blogs and pinning ideas, I was able to gather a better variety of appetizers.

I’m listing them out and then you’ll have to follow the links for the actual recipes.

  • Hot Olives I scooped up a variety of olives from the deli at Hy-Vee and heated them up. Oh, yeah- hot olives are awesome!
  • Crab Rangoon in Puff Pastry Cups I did a test run of this recipe one night for just us. The kids are still getting used to Thai/Asian foods so they weren’t thrilled these were even on the table. But for the rest of us, conversation ceased while we enjoyed these. 
  • Baid Mutajjan (Fried Hard-Boiled Egg) I decided to quick boil up some eggs for the kids and while cruising on The Big Red Kitchen, I found these. Since I knew my eating audience had adventurous eaters, I tried them. Not so bad. Think of them like a fried egg, only it's hard-boiled first. The spice mix is interesting. I didn’t have any cardamom and I know that the flavor grab didn’t quite happen because of so. I’d try it again.

I picked up a jar of raspberry jalapeno jam this summer up in Grand Marais, MN. Before you go all “ew” on me, the jalapeno is not that hot nor over-powering. It just add a subtle heat to the sweet of the raspberry. Yum! Tia and I tried this on a variety of dippers and didn’t find one that was unsuitable.

Cheesy Raspberry Jalapeno Spread

  • 2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softenend
  • 1 c. toasted pecan pieces
  • 1 jar Gunflint Trail Raspberry Jalapeno Jam (could use their blackberry or strawberry versions also)
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. chopped green onions

Mix all together and chill. Serve with crackers or veggies.

note- I reduced the pecans by half because I don’t love a super crunchy spread and also left out the green onions.

We had other appetizers, but they were the usual. I think appetizer night might have been my favorite this year.

What appetizers do you enjoy? I’d love to hear.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Christmas Part 3

This Christmas coverage wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share how our own family celebration went.

Let’s start off right. After a few swallows of our preferred beverage, we engaged in the Christmas story. There is always something new to be gained from listening to the story again.

Start of the Day

Then it was time for the kids’ gifts. Here’s what we did this year. You might remember reading this before Christmas and that’s what we chose to do with our own take on it. To begin with, Bill and I hardly ever give each other gifts at Christmas. It varies once in a while, but we pretty much stick to that. The kids only received a few gifts but as you can tell with these smiles, it doesn’t seem that they mind at all.

Camera HeavenSmiles 2Strumming

And that was that. Seriously.

I did hear one little comment about not getting a lot of toys but he himself said that it was better to be able to give and I praised him for seeing the difference.

And that is what we wanted to have happen.

My kids each gave a “gift” towards whatever thing they wanted to give. It looked different for each one, but fit them exactly. In turn, I didn’t pile gifts upon them, compensating or rewarding them for doing so. I let it be what it was. If I had, I would have taken away the joy that was theirs to embrace.

After the traditional Christmas meal of steak and sweet potato fries… uh, it was really nice out so Bill grilled steaks, the rest of the day was spent tuning, tightening, attaching, playing, recording, reading and just being together.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Part 2

Bill’s family came after Christmas for a few days, so the yum, fun and burp lasted a bit longer (quiet being a relative term here- only 5 cousins versus the 10).

Banangrams- putting this in because everyone said I should Winking smile


Then, before gifts, a cousin portrait. Or two.

Ward CousinsCrazy Cousins

After dinner, a walk.

Boys in the BrushTall TalesSister and BrotherUp a Tree

And after that- a visit by a bunny.


Yes, my sister got a bunny for her birthday and needed Dr. Denise to show her how to clip the bunny’s nails. (That’s the very short story.)

Denise and Bunny

My sister also brought the girls, who promptly disappeared to play with the kids and, of course, Valor. I took pictures of him, but won’t show them because Bill’s parents never stopped playing with him long enough to get a good, non-blurry shot. Who can blame them?

We split up the next day- Steve and co. along with Grandma and Luke went to Des Moines to take Denise to the airport *sniff* and then visited the Science Center. The rest of us stayed home and cheered our best for the Cyclones in their bowl game. *sniff*

The next day, we decided to see the High Trestle Trail Bridge which is just west of Madrid. You can see from the pictures that the bridge is lots of fun. The day, for being the end of December was wonderful, though a little windy up high, of course. At night the arches above the bridge are LED lit, so we are going to have to go back another time.

Bridge BrigadeJabin On the Go

Tayla discovered the dress-up box and danced to the Nutcracker for us. I’m forgetting which movement she danced to- maybe the Arabian movement.

Dancing Tayla

Then we had appetizers for supper (recipes to come), watched the ball drop in New York, *yawn* (By the way, that is completely uneventful for everyone except those actually present in Times Square.) and went to bed. *see yawn above* The Texas cousins left the next morning.  They were reeealy hoping for snow and the night before they left was the best chance of it appearing. *sniff*

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It’s Concert Season, Part 3

Audrey’s band concert was the week before school let out for break. This concert always compromises of the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands. Though it makes for a crowded gym sometimes (as 3/4 of the 5th grade is still in band at this point) it is always good to hear the progression each band makes over the years. The ones who benefit from this the most should be the kids, but a lot of times it’s the parents who can hold out hope that one day those squeaks and squawks will fade away into smooth sounds.

Whoops, sorry about the eyes closed. Didn’t take a lot of pics to begin with and this is the best. (Still trying to learn the balance between not enough and too many pics.) Also, they obviously weren’t playing here because if they were, you wouldn’t be able to see her as the director would be in the way.

Eyes Closed

Here’s the video.

I realize only grandparents may end up watching this but if you do watch, listen closely.

I don’t want to point this out as a fault, but as an observation. The woodwinds pull away from the rest of the band with their own tempo (meaning speed). And while I listened and cringed, fearing an unsalvageable catastrophe, the whole band somehow pulls it back together and they go on. A younger band would probably  fall completely apart, have to stop and then start up again. I’m not saying that Audrey’s band is like, THE BEST!, I’m saying that it shows a degree of attentiveness on the part of the students and the coolness of the director. If Mr. Keese was sweating, we can’t tell through his jacket.

*sigh* I love band.

This is also the end of the Christmas Concert Season. Up next, Show Choir Season, Spring Concert Season, Harescramble Season. Wait- how’d that sneak in here?!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas Part 1

I am going to attempt to knock out all the Christmas catch-up this week. There’s nothing that says New Year’s Resolution like blog about your Christmases starting January 9th. Smile

Christmas Eve Day: my family came over early for brunch. We had ham and brunch type foods. Yum. Then we had gifts. Fun. Then we had goodies. Burp. Then the kids went outside because it was warm and they could ride their bikes. Quiet.

I took less than a dozen pictures. I didn’t even capture all of the kids. I mostly captured one kid and you’ll never guess which one.

Not only can Aunt Mindy not get enough of the newest nephew, neither can Uncle Bill.

Catching DroolFingers

Sometimes we just need Grandpa’s supervision with our new toys…

Figuring It Out

Or sharing in the Christmas cards.


And someone’s got to make sure there’s enough first Christmas pictures. I took this duty upon myself. Smile

In the MirrorJingle Smiles

Everyone left to go home and we went to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It was wonderful. Oh, how I so need Jesus and I rejoiced, soaked in that He came for me. Immanuel.

Friday, January 6, 2012

On the Backburner

Hey there.

These are not excuses, just reasons why the blog has been on simmer lately.

  1. Name of blog- BEST energies BEST affections- my e and a need to be elsewhere (even if I have adorable pics of one little nephew)
  2. Christmas happened at our house, twice. Real live people trump blogland people- every time.
  3. I devoured the book “7” and it’s got me all in a tizzy. Short story- read it.
  4. A friend came over for hot olives and conversation. See #2
  5. It’s been insanely warm for January (65 today) and if I didn’t go running on these nice days, well…
  6. When the kids are home from school, very little extra gets done.
  7. It’s okay to not blog. See #3
  8. I’m busy reading comments from my FB picture.
  9. I’m forcing my kids to eat poison AKA Butternut Squash soup.
  10. Football is only on for a few more weeks.
  11. I’ve caught chalkboard paint fever.







Ok- I couldn’t resist. Don’t you just want to slurp him up in kisses? That’s what I do.  Every time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Words For the New Year

Happy New Year!

What are you hopes and dreams for the new year? Of course, the new year always brings about this kind of response. We like fresh starts.

Whether it is because of the new year or because it is just where I’m at, these words keep coming up.




It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Galatians 5:1

“It is a question of the freedom of God, which finds it strongest evidence precisely in that God freely chose to be bound to historical human beings and to be placed at the disposal of human beings. God is free no from human beings but for them Christ is the word of God’s freedom.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ. Colossians 2:9-10

In Christ there is freedom. Because Christ is the fullness of God, when we have Christ we have the same fullness to live in freedom.

This is simple, revealed yet still to be fully explored. A good way to start the new year.