Bargaining Skills
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Mom, can I have 100 pickles?"

"No, you can't have 100 pickles."

"Okay. I'll take 3 then."

Dylan - master of negotiation.

Thievin' Cowgirl

Ryan turned six years old on Monday. His granny got him a pair of cowboy boots. And Lauyrn wears them every opportunity she gets. They come up almost past her knees, making it pretty difficult to bend her legs. Funny girl.

Summer Fun. Country Style.
Sunday, May 25, 2008

My grandparents live outside of Tulsa, OK on Keystone Lake. Everyone just calls their house and land "the country."

"Where ya goin'?" "The country." And the whole family knows you're talking about my grandparents house.

We've spent the last two afternoons at their dock, trying to make fishermen out of the kids. My aunt and uncle were there fishing the first day. They were kind enough to let us interrupt their serious fishing for an hour or so and continually help bait hooks, untangle fishing line, and try to convince two city boys it was really okay to hold a fish by sticking your thumb in it's mouth. (They only had to work to convince the eldest. My middle born was pretty fearless.) The boys each caught some perch and small bass. Lauryn mostly just sat on my lap and protested when the fish got too close to her, and let out one blood curdling scream when a locust brushed by her hand. For the rest of the day she told me every two minutes "a spider got my hand!" We have some work yet to do with her. You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl.

Remember my post about Rave Hairspray? Here's your proof.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My mom emailed me this picture of me and my brother Coe, delivering Uncle Johnny (see previous post) a balloon on his birthday. Coe still lives next door to Johnny and visits him often.

Fifth grade was the year of turtlenecks and printed vests. And tapered jeans with flats. And a slicked backed pony tail with huge poofed bangs. Oh. It's so painful to relive.

You know you had your own awful youthful fashion choices. Spill it in the comments.

Sentimental Ramblings Ahead
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When I was a little girl, one of my best friends was my "Uncle Johnny." When I was little he was probably in his late sixties or maybe early seventies, but seemed older to me then. He lived in the house next door to mine with his father, Uncle Ira, until Ira passed away. Then he continued living there alone and still lives there now. He isn't truly my "Uncle", although we are related in some obscure way that I couldn't begin to explain, since I don't really know myself. He has his quirks just like everyone, but for the most part he is as sweet as they come. He loved my family dearly, and had lived next door to my mom as she grew up as well. He proudly displayed her High School graduation picture long after she graduated, and probably still has it on display today.

In Elementary school I rode the bus home from school, and let myself in my house with the key that hung around my neck on a piece of yarn. Well, that's how it was supposed to work. But I was forever misplacing my fashionable yarn/key necklace. I was the most unorganized latch-key kid on the planet. I would randomly take off the key and leave it in my desk at school, or just never put it on in the first place when I left the house in the mornings. So more times that not, I would get home and not have my key and be locked out of the house. But that was okay, because Uncle Johnny was right next door and more than willing to let me hang out with him for a couple hours.

He always had Neapolitan ice cream. He would let me mess up the even distribution of vanilla/strawberry/chocolate that he preferred, so I could scoop out just the chocolate flavor I wanted.

He had an old fashion treadmill with no motor. Just a piece of canvas stretched over rollers.

He had no air conditioner and lots of fans.

He washed his clothes with an old fashion hand-cranked washer, and put them through a hand-cranked wringer to wring out the water. He hung his clothes on a clothes line to dry. (If you are getting the idea that I grew up in a modest older neighborhood, you would be correct.)

He didn't really have anything a kid would want to play with, so one day he dreamed up the idea of a "sock ball". We took one of his socks, wadded it up and wrapped it with duct tape, and played catch with it in his front yard. I bet we played with that sock ball for literally hundreds of hours over the course of a few years. When it got a little bit ragged he just added another layer of duct tape.

He had a couple of big black dogs. They weren't mean, but I was scared of them. So instead of just walking up to his house, I would stand at his front gate and scream "UNCLE JOHNNY! I'M HERE!" until he came out to shoo the dogs away and open the gate.

I told Uncle Johnny about everything happening in my little world. I told him if I was mad at my mom. I told him if I was mad at my brother. I told him if I liked a boy at school. I told him if a friend at school was mean to me. I told him everything about me, me, me....

And he listened with interest as we threw the sock ball back and forth every day after school.

As I started to near Jr. High, Uncle Johnny said, "You're growing up. Pretty soon you'll have lots of friends and have lots of places to be, and you won't want to come visit me as much anymore. When you start getting boyfriends, don't you forget about visiting me!"

"I won't Uncle Johnny! I'll still visit you. Even when I'm sixteen and have my very own car, I'll still visit you. I promise."

But alas...Uncle Johnny was a prophet. I was barely into Jr. High when talking to boys on the phone became far more fun than playing sock ball with Uncle Johnny. I started visiting him less and less. Once a week turned into once a month, and by they time I got my driver's license once a month turned into never at all.

I'm sad that I didn't make the time to visit him. Now I live 8 hours away, and he's pressing ninety and too hard-of-hearing to reunite with via phonecalls.

I'm sad because I wish I would have been less selfish with my time, and not so self-involved. I didn't think about it at the time, but now I know that he enjoyed my company just like I enjoyed his. He was the self-appointed neighborhood watchdog, and I wonder if he got a little upset with me, breaking my promise about visiting him in favor of running off every night with my big group of friends.

I wish that in those younger days when I did spend time with him, I would have stopped talking about myself and the misadventures of elementary school for a little while, and taken some time to ask about his life. My grandma reminded me just the other day that Johnny was on a warship in WWII that was sunk by enemy fire. Uncle Johnny along with several other men drifted for days on scraps of wood. Many survived, but many lost their lives to sharks or drowning or dehydration. I wish I would have stopped talking about myself and at least have give him the opportunity to share stories like that, even though he might have chosen not to.

In a glassed in cabinet in his living room, he had a framed black and white picture of himself in his Naval Uniform. I asked him the story of the picture one day. He told me that he was walking down a city street in uniform, and the shopkeeper of a photography studio came running over to him to ask if they could take his picture, and put it in their storefront display. He agreed, and they gave him a copy of the print to thank him for his time. I could tell that was a proud moment for him, and I envisioned the scene with such clarity as he told me about it. I wish I would have asked him to tell me more stories like that.

My mom feels Dylan is not getting his fair share of blog face time.
Monday, May 19, 2008

Here are a few shots to appease her. I guess she's gotta keep it equal when she's sending the bragging links to her friends.

I was going to post these pictures of the little artist last week, but I was a little embarrassed that he's still wearing his Christmas pajamas in May. Oh well. We're thrifty around here! What's the point in packing up a perfectly good nightie just because it happens to say Merry Christmas? Yea...that's it. It has everything to do with thriftiness and nothing to do with being too lazy to pack it away. Yea....that's it.

Granny Lauryn

Lauryn has taken to sitting in a rocker with a throw over her legs when she's 'reading' her books. Granny in training.

Amy, Lauryn adores this blanket you made her when she was an infant. It's not long enough to cover her entirely up anymore, so she's been putting it over the bigger blanket she uses at night.

The looks says,
"Leave me alone ya pesky young 'un! I'm trying to finish my stories!"
(Anyone else's Great-grandmother besides mine call the Soaps her "stories?")

Lil' Texan
Friday, May 16, 2008

Today was "Dress Like a Texan Day" at Ryan's school. We had to beg, borrow, and steal from friends to round up the proper attire. Our kids were born in Texas, but they're as suburban as they come. Concrete lovers. All of 'em. We really need to work on at least getting a fishing pole in their hands soon.

Hat? Check.

Belt? Check.

Boots? Umm...maybe next year!

The most handsome bootless cowboy ever.

Cheap Eats
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Found this website today, listing recipes for meals under $3.00.

What are your go-to meals for those times when there's "more month than money"? Comment below please. My family thanks you for adding some variety to their lives.

Here are my contributions for cheap and easy meals. Those with an aversion to canned chicken (gasp!) avert your eyes.

Beans and Corn Bread
Two large cans of Bush's brand pinto beans
One thick slice of ham; chop and add to beans
Jiffy Corn Bread (Mix in frozen corn if you have on hand.) (My kids like it muffin style.) (Is it okay to use two, make that three, parentheses in a row? Probably not.)

Chicken Quesadillas
1 can Tyson chunk chicken breast
taco seasoning
shredded cheese
burrito size flour tortillas

Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning and heat in the microwave. Spread cheese and chicken mixture on half a buttered tortilla. Fold tortilla in half and cook in skillet. (You probably could have figured out how to assemble and cook those without instructions, huh?)

Baked Potatoes with Canned Chili
Really needs no explanation.
I will add that baking potatoes in the crock pot, drizzled with olive oil and salt, is easy and yummy. When I make them that way, I sometimes bake a few extra to make twice-baked potatoes with for a later meal.

Whole Young Chicken
Make in the crock pot (just rub with butter and add salt and pepper), and serve with rice or potatoes.
With the left-overs, make chicken and dumplings for another meal. Use biscuits for your "dumplings." Just break biscuits apart and drop in boiling chicken broth. Cook on medium about 10 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

Your turn!!!

Perhaps I need to consider using free weights. But I probably won't.

A fiery little four year old boy in my Wed night class came and sat by me on the floor last night. He wrapped both his hands around my arm, gave my arm a tight squeeze, then said with such sweetness,

"I love how your old arms feel!"

Don't worry if I look surprised.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's just that I might have gotten a little carried away when plucking my eyebrows today.

And with that, here is the beauty thought o' the day:

You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul's own doing. ~Marie Stopes

"I remember when..."
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jonathan and I find ourselves frequently comparing current prices to what things used to cost when we were kids.

$.80 for a donut! I remember when they were $.20 each!

$3.99 for a gallon of milk. Outrageous. Just outrageous.

When I got my driver's license, I would buy the best grade of gas that still came in at under $1.00. Those days are long gone.

$1.89 for a fountain drink! I remember filling up my Squart for free in the summer time!
(Any Oklahoma readers remember the Quiktrip Squart? With the matching red Squart sweater? Kudos to anyone who can find a picture of the Squart online. I tried and failed.)

We have these discussions pretty frequently considering we're only in our early 30's. We'll be so annoying to our grandchildren someday, sitting in our rockers grumbling about the skyrocketing price of cheese.

My day of ease and leisure.
Sunday, May 11, 2008

A friend of mine has a beautiful and original post up in honor of Mother's Day. Who knew my friends could be so poetic?

Mother's Day in Lubbock has been great. My incredible husband, who knows me so well, suspected that what I might like most on this Sunday honoring Mother's is to have a small break from mothering. That possibly seems ironic to some, celebrating Mother's Day by doing a little less mothering than usual, but some of you with small children possibly understand it completely.

Jonathan has be to be at church around 7:15 on Sunday mornings, the rest of us not until 9:45. So generally he's leaving the house as the rest of us are waking up. But not on this very special day my friends! On this very special day he woke up all three kids, got them dressed, and they all left the house together at 7:00am. He even managed to make a stop at Krispy Kreme on the way to church. What a man. This left me to lounge at home alone until the unheard of hour of 9:00am, when I finally started getting ready for my day with the luxury of only getting ONE person ready for church (just little ol' me!) instead of FOUR. Awesome.

My morning of leisure was followed by take-out Pei Wei for lunch after church. It was an all around great day.

Happy Mother's Day!

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
-Elizabeth Stone

Germs. They're unavoidable.
Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ryan, as he hands me a picture he just drew:

"Do you like my picture mommy? Those little white dots are where I sneezed on it."

New Skill Development
Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dylan has learned to burp on command. Often and loudly.

I obviously need to train him to rein in this new skill and only use it when the timing is just right. (To break up tension in an awkward make people laugh when he's out of other get the idea.)

I don't want to discourage this new talent altogether, because burping on command is one thing I could never quite figure out. It was actually to my detriment, because I once had a part in a high school play where the script called for a loud belch, and the pitiful little fake burping noise I produced was an embarrassment to my otherwise mostly adequate acting skills.

Catrina, do you remember that?? It was in The Odd Couple (female version). I even downed a Dr. Pepper right before the big burping moment, but it was of no use. Just couldn't do it.

I am tempted to make a video of his new skill, but that's a little too much even for me. (If I can't resist and do take some burping footage, I'll just send it to his uncles or something. That seems like a skill they would applaud from their nephew.)

Rainy Morning = Fun Afternoon
Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This is as close as Lauryn got to the "yucky" muddy water.

This afternoon I let the kids play in the "puddles" in the backyard. It kind of took puddle jumping to a whole new level, since the puddle ran the entire length of the backyard.

Here's a six second video of mother and daughter laughing as Ryan crashes to the ground doing a cannonball into a three inches of water. I have a disease that causes me to laugh when anyone falls down or does something to potentially hurt themselves. Yes, even my own offspring. I'm terrible. Luckily, he wasn't hurt in the least.

Top O' the World

Everyday soon after Ryan leaves for school, Dylan and Lauryn make their way up the top bunk bed. Ryan's bed. The treasures they've hauled up there so far today include two library books, a rock collection, and a guitar.

May I Suggest
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

If you live in or near the Dallas/Ft. Worth area you should attend this workshop:


Pastor Kelly James is a good friend of ours, and an incredibly talented worship leader.

You can find more information about the workshop here.

You can hear some of Pastor Kelly's music here.


"What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

That was a question posed at a Women's Retreat I attended last weekend. The speaker was talking about how fear paralyzes us - fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, fear of failure. It could go on and on really.

So this is the question I've been pondering since Saturday:

What would I do if I wasn't afraid?

I would write a book and lead training seminars for preschool volunteers.

("Preschool volunteers" as in people who volunteer to teach preschoolers at church. Not as in preschool age children who are volunteers. Although that would be fun too.)

I would write about how to effectively communicate the love of Jesus to preschoolers, because this is the one thing I think I'm pretty good at. As challenging as it can be sometimes, I am energized teaching a room full of hyped-up rowdy four and five year olds on Wednesday nights.

It breaks my heart to see a classroom out of control, or kids that look like they would rather be anywhere but church. (That only happens at other churches of course. Never my own. Ahem.)

I think it's fear of looking foolish that keeps me from attempting to write. Comparing myself to incredible writers and speakers makes me think I could never write or say anything that anyone wanted to hear. Who do I think I am anyway? What makes me qualified to tell someone how it should be done?

I fear I could not come up with anything that hasn't already been said before. I fear I could never be eloquent enough to adequetely express myself.

I also fear that I could never be organized enough to take care of my husband and children, and still somehow find time to write a book. And that one is a biggie!

So - I'm tucking that dream away for now, praying as I'm in this crazy season of raising my children and doing my best to keep the dishes and laundry clean, the dream will continue to grow. And that as my confidence grows the fear will subside!

So writing a book is one thing. There are other things I would do if I weren't afraid, but they aren't as easily articulated....

What about you? What would you do if you weren't afraid?


See Lauryn Run.
Saturday, May 3, 2008

Guess she showed him! (Remember Dylan's "baby" comment from last week?)

It's been too long since he made a blog appearance.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some cute pictures of my nephew. I get to see him live and in person later this month. Can't wait!

Please, please don't fall in.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

In situations like these at the fountains, I always worry they may have a teeny bit too much of my genetics to ever make it safely across without stumbling, sliding, and falling. But they made it safely and across and remained bone dry. Whew.

These were taken at the Lubbock Convention Center a couple of weekends ago, during the Art Festival. A few other highlights:

Look at that hammer fly! Dad's keeping his fingers a safe distance from the blows.

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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