Friday, February 28, 2014

She loves me

I was having a difficult exchange with Sarah, and I said, "Do you even love me at all?" and she cried and said, "I love you more than all the hearts on Valentine's Day."  I'm writing it down because I want to remember it. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


After my braised pork debacle, it's time to blog a more successful meal.  The only chili I used to make was a rather elaborate, time-consuming, high-calorie recipe.  I recently abandoned that recipe and struck out on my own to make a simpler, healthier, cheaper version. 
 If I were the only eater, I would leave out the meat, but for my carnivorous family, I start with ground turkey.   I got this package at Aldi.

 onion, garlic, celery (leaves and all)

 My can opener.  He's singing.  :)

 I cook the disgusting turkey with the vegetables,

 then add a can of beans (drained because bean juice is gross) and a big can of crushed tomatoes.  I'm using crushed, because Sarah doesn't like tomatoes, so if there are no big tomato chunks, she does better.  These are from Aldi too.

 It's pretty thick. I might end up adding a can of tomato sauce later, but I'll see how it looks after I cook it for awhile.  

 I put in a little cayenne pepper (just a sprinkle, because Noah doesn't like it too hot), a whole bunch of cumin (because it's one of my favorite spices), a couple tablespoons of chili powder, and a dash of salt.  I added a little black powder too.  Bring it to a boil and then simmer for a long time.  Tonight I'm serving it with spicy hot cheese bread for the adults who can handle the heat.

 Whenever Kroger happens to have these two items on manager's special, I make spicy cheese bread.  The cheese spread is called Three Alarm Cheddar or sometimes Buffalo Bleu.  It's made with jalapeno peppers, spicy cheddar cheese, mayo, buffalo sauce, and bleu cheese.  You could make it yourself, but the spicy cheddar is darn expensive.  I only buy the spread when it's marked down, about to expire. 

Spread the dip on the bread and bake it at 400 for about 10 minutes.  It would probably be better to broil it for a minute or two, but...ok, I'm about to reveal something nobody knows about me.  I'm afraid of the broiler.  I have never broiled anything and don't even know how.

White as snow

I'm starting a ministry.  I'm not so good with people, but I can make laundry detergent, so the ministry is giving homemade laundry detergent to the guests of my church's food pantry.

In our house right now, we have 10 boxes of washing soda, 7 boxes of borax, and 8 big bottles of Dawn.

This Saturday, my family and I (and hopefully others!) are hoping to make 200 gallons of detergent at the church.  I thought I should make a trial batch before that to make sure I can do it and it works. The kids and I made this gallon.  It turned out well.

We camped out in front of the washing machine to watch the inaugural load.  Noah made popcorn and brought pillows for him and Sarah to sit on while they watched the show.  I told Noah that it reminded me of how he used to press his face up against the washing machine when I was washing his security item.  He would snatch it out as soon as it would done and couldn't even wait for it to dry.  When I told him that, he said, "Hey, that's how we should be waiting for Jesus to come back, eager and watching!"  It's one of the many times that the Holy Spirit has spoken to me through Noah.  Then he started a play-by-play of the laundry.  He was yelling things like, "Now the jeans are pushing to the front, but wait...the penguin pants just fell on top of them and now Dad's underwear is in the lead!  My dress shirt is overtaking a sock....but here comes a flash of's Sarah's coat!"  He only dresses up for funerals and weddings, so I asked, "What dress shirt?"  He said, "The one I wore to Grandma Opal's funeral."  I said, "Grandma Opal's funeral was two months ago.  Why is your dress shirt just now getting washed?"  He explained that he was moving some clothes in his closet and noticed the dress shirt and (for some reason that I don't comprehend) decided it was dirty, took it off the hanger, and threw it in the hamper.   His running commentary kept me laughing through the whole cycle, and the clothes came out clean and smelling fresh.    

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy heart day

 I like Valentine's Day.  What could be better than celebrating love?  A little treat awaited my kids when they woke up this morning.

 This was Sarah's idea.  My hand on the left and hers on the right.

 Sarah wanted big heart-shaped chocolate chip waffles for her and small ones for McKenna for breakfast.

 She made a cute little sandwich for Noah for lunch.

 I rescued her scraps and made sunshine toast.

 Noah pretended that the only thing he likes about Valentine's Day is the candy, but he's the one cutting banana slices into heart shapes.

 Sarah making valentines for the neighbors.

Happy Valentine's Day from Marty!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Sarah was in her room, having a melodramatic meltdown.  Upset people disturb Noah, so he went in to try to calm her down.  She screamed at him to get out, and as he was backing out of her room, he said, "Ok, ok, just know that whenever you're ready to come out, we will welcome you back."  Then he came to me to report how his mission went.  He shook his head and said, "Well, I planted a seed.  She'll probably just dig it up, but I planted it."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Good dream gone bad

I had a dream that someone offered me some free kittens.  There were about 8 of them, and they were all very cute.  I said I would take two.  I picked a nice gray one right away and was considering which other one to take.  The next thing I knew, some lady was screaming at me to get out and was throwing kittens at me. They were hitting me in the back as I ran. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Scary swamp monster

 Noah and I saw this shadow on the wall and were baffled as to what could be causing it.  It took us a few seconds to find the source.  Scroll down to see it....

Just some harmless snow and ice on the window.

Creative use of crayons

 Sarah glued some broken crayons to a canvas and turned the hair dryer on them.  She put on ear protection because she can't deal with the sound of the dryer.  

 She couldn't deal with the heat of the dryer either, so she convinced her brother to do it for her.

It turned out to be a beautiful piece of artwork!

Braised pork

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

Step 2:  Compel your kitchen assistants to prep the veggies

Step 3:  Heat some olive oil

Step 4: This is the worst part.  Cut the pork into big chunks and season with salt and pepper.  Raw meat revolts me, so I work quickly and place my thoughts elsewhere.

Step 5: Sear the pork on all sides to make a nice flavorful crust. You'll waste a good 10-15 minutes of your life on this step, but it keeps the meat moist and juicy inside.  At this point, the house starts smelling great.  Noah wanders out to the kitchen and asks when it will be ready.  I tell him at least 3 hours from now.  A few minutes later, Sarah appears and says, "Can I sample that when it's done?"  I say yes, and I hear Noah giggle in the next room.  I know what he's thinking.

Step 6: Remove the meat and put the veggies in the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and let them sweat for 5 or 10 minutes, stirring to get all those flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  

Step 7:  Deglaze the pan with a gigantic bottle of burgundy wine.  Ok, I didn't use the whole bottle, just 1/4 cup or so.

Step 8: Nestle the pigs in with the veggies and pour tomato juice over the whole mess. Put in a couple bay leaves, cover and cook for about 3 hours. Everything was going so well up to this point.  It went south after this.
 I went outside for awhile, and when I came back in, I was greeted by a nasty burning smell and the above sad sight.

I took off the lid to find that all the liquid had escaped.

 I saved as much food as I could, and this is what was left in the bottom of the pan. 

 Instead of moist braised meat and vegetables, we had hunks of dry meat for dinner.  Sad waste of time, effort, money, and food.  As I mull over what went wrong, I determined that I used the wrong pan for the job.  It would have been great in a dutch oven, but I don't have one.  I filled my poor electric skillet too full, and it let the liquid bubble out.  Now I'll be spending the next several hours cleaning the kitchen after a disappointing meal.  Depressing.  On a strange sidenote:  Sarah loved it!  She put BBQ sauce on it and declared it her favorite meal, which is so unlike her. 

**Update: 9/30/15**
I have since purchased a cast iron Dutch oven.  Much better! This time, however, Sarah didn't like it.  I think I overdid the burgundy.

Foxes and Muskrats

My kids love this song called, "What does the fox say?"  In the video, full-grown adults are dressed up like animals, prancing around and making weird noises.  I really don't see the attraction.  It's one of the dumbest songs I've ever heard. 

This morning, the kids were leaping around singing this song, and I was mumbling  my opinion of the song like an old fuddy duddy.  Noah said, "Well you had some weird songs in the 70's too, Mom.  What about 'Muskrat Love'?"  Good point.  That is a totally ridiculous song.  We looked it up on YouTube and watched it.  It's even more hilarious watching Captain and Tenille sing it. We were rolling on the floor laughing when the Captain started making muskrat noises on his keyboard and pretending to play with imaginary muskrats.  Noah howled, "THAT is worse than our fox song!"  He may be right.  My only comeback was, "Yeah, least they weren't dressed up like muskrats." 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lessons from the stone

Well, it's been a rough week, but I learned some things, so I want to write them down so I don't forget and have to go through this again. 

One thing I learned is that I need to be more compassionate.  I tend to get frustrated with people who constantly talk about their physical ailments.  Focusing on your problems makes them worse, and talking about them all the time only gives them more power.   I still believe that, but now I know how difficult it is to rise above severe pain and focus on something else.

The rest of the things I learned were things I already knew but needed the reminder.  This ordeal reminded me of why I read, study, and love the Bible.  Two days before the attack of the kidney stone, I was sitting at CBS, discussing the purpose of suffering.  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV).  See above about compassion.

Then we were discussing how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, and one of my favorite people in the group said, "Have you ever been so sick that you can't even pray and all you can say is 'Jesus'? Well, it's during those times that the Holy Spirit is praying for you."  That comment came alive to me three days later, when I was having my worst moment.  It was Sunday night, and Mike had taken the kids to Winter Jam at the Civic Center.  I hadn't slept or eaten for more than 24 hours and had had absolutely no relief from pain.  I was in a cold sweat, curled up in a fetal position wedged between the floor and the bed, screaming out loud in pure agony.  The whole house was dark and empty, and I could hear the wind outside gusting so powerfully that it was making the siding creak and banging the gutter against the house repeatedly.  I had been praying all night, but at that moment, I couldn't even focus my mind to form a prayer. My Bible was open in front of me, but I couldn't see it through the blinding pain.  I just called out, "Jesus!" and in that moment, I knew that the Holy Spirit was interceding for me, and it was comforting. Romans 8:26-27:  "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

Back to that day at CBS before this happened.  One of the home study questions was, "Where is God during times of trial and hardship?"  I had written two words for my answer:  with us.  He was with me through the suffering at home, the painful ride to the hospital, the tests and needles, the side effects of the medication, until I came out on the other side.  The Bible says He will never leave you nor forsake you, and I personally experienced that to be true.  

Other things I was reminded of:  
*My husband is supportive, helpful, compassionate, strong, and altogether wonderful.  I'm thankful for him.  
*His parents are pretty great too, as they were available to help with the kids, take Sarah to gymnastics, and take them out for dinner.  
*OSF is a nice facility, and the staff there helped me so much.
*My kids are fine, capable people.  They survived all day with no parents, and they even made a really good batch of cookies for me.  
*I am blessed to have so many friends and family who support me in prayer and other ways.