If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 4 dogs, and a whole lot of love.





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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's gravy, baby.

Please indulge me for a moment as I shamelessly brag casually mention something about myself. I can make gravy. And it tastes goooooooood.

Forgive me for that little lapse in humility, but after the week I had, I think you'll understand.

It started with a 3am visit from from the police because my husband's bank card didn't register in the gas pump and the cashier called and reported him as a "drive-off." Clearly a misunderstanding that we rectified with the gas station immediately, but still disconcerting to see your husband's picture via gas station camera along with license plate number and car description hanging on the "most wanted" wall behind the cash register, ya know? Well, maybe you don't. Just take my word for it then.

The week ended with a disastrous attempt at an Easter illustration with my kids called "Empty Tomb Cookies" that resulted in inappropriate nut jokes, a yolk in the egg-white batter, fighting over masking tape, 15 piles of tinted yellow globs of "Full Tomb Cookies" and a spanked toddler. None of which is a reflection on the Empty Tomb Cookies. I take full responsibility for our buffoonery. This is why we don't do crafts.

But on Good Friday, I made gravy. (Didn't sound like a big deal until it's up against mention of the police, gas station mug shots and spankings over Easter crafts, huh?)

Gravy was always my holiday nemesis. I pride myself on the ability to put together a yummy feast, but always had to ask guests to come early and whip up some gravy. Humiliating. But Good Friday, we had Z's girlfriend and A's boyfriend over for a Thanksgiving lunch with the extended family coming over later that evening for dessert, snacks, egg coloring, and games. That left me on gravy detail.

Enter Google. I printed off the first one where I recognized all the ingredients and went to work. I ran into one minor snafu when I realized I have no Poultry Seasoning. What to do? Skip it. I ended up with an amazing, creamy, delicious, lump-less, poultry-seasoning-less, gravy that makes my mouth water just remembering it.

It's almost enough to make me forget what happened the night before when I was trying to avoid stuffing hundreds of plastic eggs with candy. I told the kids we'd hunt empty eggs instead as a symbol of the empty tomb on Easter. The kids agreed. My husband claimed I "ruined Easter" and stormed from the room.

So let's talk about the gravy again.....aaahhhh.....the simple pleasures in life, am I right?

Gravy for Dummies
  • 5 cups of turkey stock with pan drippings
  • 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning (clearly optional)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  1. Bring the turkey stock to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir in soup and all the spices. Reduce heat to low and simmer
  3. Warm the milk in the microwave and whisk in the flour with a fork until smooth.
  4. Return the gravy to a boil and gradually stir in the milk mixture, stirring constantly.
  5. Continue to cook while stirring for 1 minute or until thickened. It's gravy, baby.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Save it.

Crafts, Scrap Booking, Parent-Teacher Conferences, bedtime stories that aren't scary......a little starter list of "mom" activities I suck at. Please add coupons to the list.

Between my tendency to be frugal and my obsession with reality shows, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I stumbled onto the show called 'Extreme Couponing.' I didn't actually watch it, mind you, I just heard the title and put 2 and 2 together. (Research isn't my strong suit.)

I grabbed the giant stack of Sunday papers beside the fireplace and went to work. Before long I had an impressive little pile neatly stacked on top of my grocery list. To add to that, I went on-line and spent 2 hours looking up store ads, noting and comparing the sales of 2 different stores. I was downright giddy with the excitement of my new venture that would surely qualify me for the list of "Good stay at home moms."

My husband always comes grocery shopping with me. He does all the math in his head and tells me which is the better deal. I push the cart, keep track of the list and replace all the junk food to their shelves when his back is turned. It's a good system.

Last night was my coupon debut. Store #1. First stop: Laundry Detergent. I showed my husband the name brand item on sale and the coupon and asked him to compare it to the off-brand we normally buy and tell me how much money I just saved him....(insert Final Jeopardy music as he silently tallied numbers in his head while I stood there beaming).....he finally said, "A penny." (I came this close to bursting into tears, throwing my envelope of coupons on the floor and running to the car.....thank goodness I'm not dramatic or anything.)

An hour and a half later, we were at the check-out and my excitement was back. While my husband loaded up the conveyor belt, I stood with my coupons and excitedly repeated to the cashier that I had coupons until he finally responded. (I think I know how a toddler feels now. We just want responded to, okay?) Grand total saved at store #1: 5 bucks. (Insert profanity of choice here.)

Next stop: Dinner at Fridays. When our bill came to $30, my supportive husband pointed out that it actually only cost us $25 thanks to my couponing. That was a nice way of looking at it.

Off to store #2 where we immediately got into an argument in the toothpaste isle over whether the coupon was for a four ounce tube or a forty ounce tube. It got ugly. And for future reference, there is no such thing as a 40 oz tube of toothpaste. Now we know.

Two hours later, we were finally ready to check-out and bring this nightmare to an end. My husband asked if I could handle checking out by myself while he went to the bathroom. (Give me some credit....of course I can.) But when neither the cashier nor myself could figure out the individual cost of a package of cheese that was 3 for $5, I lay my head on the handle of my cart and said, "I give up."

The nice woman behind me came to my rescue. I turned to thank her and noticed her super-cool coupon organizer complete with built in calculator. I'm betting her name is on the "Good stay at home mom list" and that her bedtime stories don't scare her toddler. Whatever. Grand total saved at store #2: 7 bucks. (Gritting teeth so as not to cuss in front of Mrs. Cleaver behind me.)

I finished checking out and stopped outside the bathrooms to wait for my husband. I didn't think much of the small crowd of women gathered there until my husband casually strolled out of the Womens Restroom. Wow. Let's just blame the coupons, shall we?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Operation Basic Needs


Last fall, a friend who works at an orphanage in Mexico asked if we'd like to 'adopt' a brother & sister to send Christmas gifts to. We accepted and she emailed us their Christmas wish list. As the mother of 4 kids who has seen her fair share of Christmas wish lists, I was shocked to see some of the items these two children in Mexico had on theirs. Shampoo. Feminine hygiene products. Soap. Basic needs. And my heart broke.

I contacted my friend and she explained that although the orphanage provides a limited supply of hygiene products, the kids see it as a luxury to have their own. And my heart broke again. Not once have any of my children looked at a bottle of shampoo and considered it a luxury. They have no idea how good they have it.

We decided to follow through with this brother & sister by sending them a care box of basic needs every 4 months. As April approached and I purchased the supplies, I began to wonder how it could be possible for every child (or sibling group) to receive a care box of basic needs a few times a year.....and then I became overwhelmed at the prospect and dismissed it.

That Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon about the power of the Holy Spirit. He compared it to the power of a Lamborghini. He challenged us to stop trying to manually control everything and to start tapping into the power that God has provided. And the basic needs idea came to mind again and I contacted my friend at the orphanage.

In all honesty, I was secretly hoping she'd reply that it wasn't a good idea. That there's not really a need for that. Basically, I wanted off the hook. But she jumped on it. (Oh no.) And I began to panic. I was blow drying my hair and wondering what I'd just gotten myself into when I felt God speak to me. (He used to talk to me when I mowed the grass but when Ron revoked my mowing privileges, God resorted to cornering me while I blow dry my hair. And unfortunately, He's not usually saying "Great job down there!" but rather picking away at an area of my heart that needs to change.)

I felt God tell me to get out His way. My part in this became very clear. All I need to do is spread the word. And then I'm going to get out of His way and watch Him move.

So here it goes. There is an orphanage in Mexico who has a total (at this time) of 78 orphans. (This is where I would be panicking again, if not for access to my "Lamborghini.") Twenty sibling groups and twenty-one independent children. I believe that every one of these children should have access to their own supply of basic needs.

My intent for this blog entry isn't to guilt, pressure or even ask anything of anyone. I'm simply spreading the word. I'm also starting a Facebook Page called "Operation Basic Needs." All I ask is that if God nudges you in any way to join us in this ministry, could you please answer by contacting me? Let me know if you have questions or would like to 'adopt' a child or sibling group to send a care box to and I'll set you up with all the information. And if you feel led, could you help me spread the word? Also, please feel free to contact me if you'd like to help but cost is an issue. Thank you!

The ways you can contact me are:
1. Leave a comment through this blog with your email address or contact information. (It won't be published.)
2. Contact me through the "Operation Basic Needs" Facebook page and I'll message you.
3. Message me through my Facebook page for those who are on my friend list.
4. For those who have my email or phone, please feel free to contact me that way as well.

'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.' (Matthew 25:40)

Some answers to some questions I've received:
1. How much does shipping cost? (The post office offers flat rate shipping ranging in price from $4.95 - $14.95. The basic needs for one child can typically fit into the $4.95 packaging. No weight limit.)

2. What are some of the basic needs? (The needs can vary depending on the gender and the age of the child but the basic hygiene needs are shampoo, lotion, soap, toothpaste, & toothbrush. I send out a list of other ideas and shipping info when I match you up. Please feel free to specify an age, gender, single child or sibling group if you have a preference!)