Showing posts from April, 2016

Yummy Chili

I was wondering what to make for dinner yesterday when my neighbor called.  She had made a big pot of chili for dinner the other night, and her children charitably declined to eat the leftovers because they knew we wanted it for dinner.  I made a pan full of cornbread and popped it into the oven.  Once our house was starting to smell delicious, I ran across the street and got the chili.  All this "popping" and "running" makes it sound like I was moving quickly.  Fear not - I still move in slow-motion.  I just want to sound more animated than I really am.  How I really live is hanging out on the couch and taking lots of naps.  Three-toed sloths have nothing on me in the slow department!
This is not chili but a delicious black bean soup she made for me last week.  Recipe below.
But last night, we had delicious home-made chili.  Thanks, nice neighbor lady and your very accommodating children!  You can cook for me anytime!
Black Bottom Soup (pictured above) 3 cans blac…

Supper on a Bread Slice

My mom wan't a great cook.  Mind you, she wasn't a bad cook by any means, and we were always fed.  Mom just wasn't fond of the traditional homemaking tasks.  Her dinner mainstays were simple and came out of boxes or cans.  One easy dinner I remember was called Supper on a Bread Slice.   It's not a very imaginative name, but I've never been able to come up with something better.
It's easy, and the kids love it.  Well, my brothers did as kids.  I didn't care much for it  - maybe because the sauce made the bread soggy?  But when Jay and I were newlyweds, visiting back home and Mom made this, he loved it too.  So I had to make Supper on a Bread Slice in my home, too.  And my kids love it.  It's basically hamburger pizza on French bread, but we have done it a number of ways.

Slice a loaf of bread in half lengthwise.  Place halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet.  Spread tomato sauce on both halves.  Cover with cooked, crumbled hamburger and grated cheddar c…

Blessings in Disguise

We had a women's meeting at church recently, where they were addressing some of the difficult things we go through.  They asked everyone to contribute a one- or two-word description of some of their hardest trials.  They gave me the list and wanted me to write the words on labels to be displayed on a wall at the meeting.  
The list was heartbreaking.  Rape.  Death of a child.  Bankruptcy.  Chronic illness.  Drug addiction.  Cheating spouse.  Depression.  Wayward children.  Widowhood.  My soul ached for these beautiful women.  Some of the challenges I know about - most I have no idea.  There were other less obvious trials that can be just as difficult and heart-wrenching: moving, difficult job, motherhood, messes, marriage, can't find joy...  I cried as I wrote the words.

Then something interesting happened.  It was surprisingly difficult to write these hard words in the beautiful script they wanted.  But as I saw the finished labels pile up, looking lovely and peaceful, I rea…

Mission Monday

As the weather here moves into spring and warmer, it is growing cooler in Madagascar.  Ben told me that it's not as rainy as it has been.  Although it isn't as hot as it has been, it's still plenty warm!  I am glad he will be coming home to our summer instead of in the middle of winter.  I think he would freeze to death!

That's one of many things I can be thankful for.  I think I'll challenge the kids to write down as many blessings as they can think of in just a few minutes.  I think we would all be surprised at how many good things are all around us.  That's one thing Ben did in his last letter.  It's always interesting to see what other people are thankful for - and usually we are happy about things that we haven't always have.  Life lived too easily makes us complacent and we don't notice how good we have it.  I'm humbled by some of the things Ben mentions in his thankful list:

My stomach is not having problems.
I don't have a headache.

Happy at Home

Every day, I see so many little scenes that make my mother-heart happy.  I walk past a room and see a happy moment or hear joy shooting about and I think THIS is it.  This is the good life that I've been working for all these mothering hours.  I just want to soak in all the happiness and memorize the faces and never, ever forget.  And then something else happens and I do forget.
Some things that happen often enough that I remember:  Freddy loves to listen to Josh Groban's "Don't Give Up."  I think it is one of Eddie's favorite songs too.  Freddy puts the CD in the digital piano and sings his little heart out.  Georgie joins in, but Freddy really belts it out.  Often.  And during the worst possible moments: we have company, Trent and I are trying to have a difficult parent discussion, I'm on the phone...  Many times, Eddie will sing along, too.  His voice is just starting to change, but he wants to be a deep bass so he tries to sing lower than he actually…

New Chore Chart

I was at my brother's house and saw a nifty chore chart he had.  There was a row for each child, magnets for each chore, and five columns: jobs to do, assigned to you, finished, approved, and needs help.  Most of the jobs start out in the first column, which is owned by everyone, and then either the child picks a certain number of chores or they get assigned out.  As soon as the job belongs to a child, they move the magnet to that second column.
As the child finished a job, she moves that chore magnet to the "finished" column, and the parent checks it off and moves it to the "approved" column, When I asked him about the "help" column, he explained that it was for jobs that the child could ordinarily do independently, but something unusual is preventing its completion, like the lawn mower ran out of gas.  I think he got this from his job - or maybe he made it up.  I dunno which, but my brother is crazy organized like that.
I loved it, and determined t…

Senior Prom

How did it happen that Chris is on the end of his high school experience?  Senior Prom was last weekend.  SENIOR!  Sigh.  

He made his own corsage this year - his first flying completely solo.  I didn't help him much with last fall's Homecoming corsage either, but I wasn't even there when he made this one.  He did a fine job.  He calls the flower... a flower.  But all the other bits of frippery - ribbons, small flowers, beading -  is "garbage."  Little insights into a teenaged boy's mind.  He chose great garbage and arranged it well, didn't he?  He was not disappointed to have an excuse to run to the store and get a new tie.  All good-looking: the corsage, and the tie.  But especially this handsome boy who isn't fond of having his picture taken!

Mission Monday

Every week, I send a regular letter to my missionary sons, and one additional email with the question of the week.  This is my (sometimes vain) hope to get a better feel for customs of the country, health issues, personal questions and other things I just wanna know.  That way they don't have to answer a slew of my questions, just one a week.

This week's question was about how we learn things from difficult situation.  I asked Ben what he had learned last week.  His response was thoughtful, and has made me and Trent both examine some of our own attitudes.

What I learned this week is that you can do anything. We taught as many times this week as I did in my best week in Fort Dauphin and had a Fort Dauphinesque amount of people at church too. It just takes a good attitude and lots of work and you can do crazy things. I love it. Like it's not all about the stats, but there's this terrible mindset in my mission that the work goes way good in fort d, toliara, and mahajanga a…

Grandma Lucy

My maternal grandmother, my mother's mother, passed away when I was 5.  I don't remember much about her except a sweet powdery smell and the way she bounced me on her knee and sang, Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross To see a fine lady upon a white horse. With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, She will have music wherever she goes!
Then she would make me sway on her knee as she exclaimed, "Whoa, horse!"  I've jogged my own children on my knee countless times, reciting this same little song.  I love that I have a piece of my grandma that I can pass on to them.
A few months after Grandma died, Grandpa found a new sweet lady and married her - much to the surprise of his children!  She became my Grandma Lucy and we loved her.  She taught elementary school, and I thought she had a treasure trove in her downstairs closet because she had so many books!  They lived just up the street from us and I loved to spend hot sticky afternoons in the cool of her basement, l…

General Conference

We enjoyed watching General Conference last weekend.  Sometimes we make a big party of it, with an all-you-can-eat buffet of mostly indigestible food and conference games for the small fry.  This year we just sat around and watched.  So lucky to be able to see it on the big screen instead of having to... you know... get dressed and all.  We are so spoiled!

I was taking notes and Georgie came over with his "whatcha doin'?" face on.  I showed him that I was writing down the things that I liked best because they would help me to become a better person.  Next thing I know, he was asking for a paper of his own.  I tore one out of my notebook for him, and got him a pen.  Unprompted, he wrote:
"The things that Jesus said"
Through the next few talks, he wrote down a few things and I was impressed with his sober nature.  He's a deep thinker, that one.  It will be fun to watch him grow!

Welcome Home!

He's back!  I can hardly believe it's been two years already.  I wasn't sure what to expect when we saw him, but it's been good to have him back.  He looks older, more confident and sure of himself.  It's been fun to see him smile and the dimple in his cheek.  

Some of his aunts and uncles came over the house to welcome him back.  He actually wasn't home very long before he was already off again.  This boy knows where he is going and has a plan to get there.  He had an appointment with the drivers licence division to renew his lapsed licence.  After that, he has freedom (as long as he can borrow my car!).
After he came back, he sat and told stories to his uncle and aunt, who have spent time in Africa themselves.  It was fun to hear his experiences.

I sat and watched as he visited with his brothers.  Makes my mother-heart happy to see him.  I was struck by some of his mannerisms - just like his dad!  I wasn't expecting that, and it took my breath away for a…