4 out of 5 stars
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If you need guacamole fast (and yes, I believe it's possible to NEED guacamole) this mix is great!

Maybe not as good as the fresh stuff made table side at an authentic Mexican restaurant (or in your kitchen if you're inclined to prepare such things), but really, really good.

We found it at our local grocery store, but it's also for sale here.

A craft and sugary snack all rolled into one!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My friend Cheri helps me out with the StoryTime ministry, and she found this cute idea for "Oreo Cookie Turkeys." Our sweet preschoolers and their moms made them this month for a "Thanksgiving" theme.

I would like very much to highlight the name "Cheri" in the above sentence, encouraging you to click that name and be sent on your happy way over to her blog. But alas, she keeps an immaculate home, and has very good time management skills. I'm assuming those characteristics precludes one from having a blog? Not sure. But if she ever does hop on board the time-sucking but oh-so-enjoyable blogging train with me, you'll hear about it here first. Until then, just trust me that she is a delightful person, who happens to share my love of Jane Austen and great literature in general. (Thank you, Lord, for a great friend in Lubbock!)

The kids (and their moms) did a great job making their Turkeys, but I forgot to take my camera to StoryTime.

So, risking a sugar overdose, I let Dylan make another one when we got home so I could get a picture.

Cute, huh? Instructions here.

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What followed was a very LONG lecture regarding warning labels.
Monday, November 24, 2008

Dylan was sitting on my bathroom counter, chatting with me as I put on my make-up.

Suddenly he said, "Oh awesome!! Can I?" as he's looking at my hairdryer.

"Can you what? You don't have any hair! You don't need to use my hairdryer!"

"No Mommy, I don't want to dry my hair with it. Look! Look at this label! The picture says if you put the hairdryer in the bathtub it will make sparks! Can I try it?"

Then I had a near heart attack, realizing that for my five-year-old, warning labels merely look like suggestions of fun ideas.


So between my initial shocked overreaction, and a subsequent calmer discussion about why the hairdryer in the bathtub is a very bad idea, hopefully he's no longer tempted to try and make the sparks.

We had a long talk about what a BIG RED SLASH through pictures mean.


(This whole episode really freaked me out. It happened last week but I was too shook up to blog about it until now. Consider this post a Public Service Announcement: Talk to your adventure seeking children about warning labels.)

Robot Family Night
Friday, November 21, 2008

Tonight was all about robots. While we were waiting for Jonathan to get home from work, the kids took turns creating robots at this fun site. Here's Ryan's:

When Jonathan got home, we created robots out of paper towel rolls. I meant to buy some pipe cleaners, but forgot, so we improvised and used bendy straws.

Then it was time for robot costumes. Wearing the version I helped them make they looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Altogether now..."I'd be friends with the sparrows and the boy who shoots the arrows, if I only had a heart...."

So Dad took over and got slightly better results.

After dinner, we decorated "robot" brownies. The kids barely ate a bite of the black beans I made for dinner. But they each still got to make and eat a brownie. It was a family night activity! I couldn't make them just sit and watch me and Jonathan make edible robots, right? (Cause you know if there's a brownie in my vicinity, I'm eatin' it.) Plus, I'm sure it's something I did wrong, but the beans weren't all that great.

All of the above activities were but a prelude for thrilling, squeal-inducing event of the evening, giving the kids the new Wall-E DVD. Jonathan bought it earlier this week, providing family night inspiration. So we ended the evening with a Wall-E viewing. We saw it in the theaters too, and I think I liked it better the second time.

Visit WhittakerWoman for lots of creative family nights ideas!


The votes are in.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mac-n-cheese preparation:

45% of you measure the ingredients.

55% of you just eyeball it.

It seems I am in the minority. Even after 15+ years of making mac-n-cheese, I just can't get the right ratio of milk and butter without measuring.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

It's Shiny Purple Translucent Plastic. And it makes me happy.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I don't remember my mom making deviled eggs much when I was growing up.

But someone always brought them to our family reunions and to Thanksgiving gatherings. (Actually, I just called every weekend gathering at the lake a "family reunion", because I didn't know what else to call it. In elementary school and Jr. High I didn't know anyone else who camped out at the lake for half the weekends in the summer with 30 of their relatives. There was plenty of water-skiing and coolers full of Shasta, so my friends all loved to come join the family. Good times!)

So now when I use my Shiny Purple Translucent Plastic deviled egg holder once or twice a year to make deviled eggs, I think of my extended family and it makes me happy.

My Shiny Purple Translucent Plastic deviled egg holder doesn't exactly scream "classy", and they probably don't sell these at Williams-Sonoma. (Dollar General. $3 bucks.)

But then again, "classy" was probably out of reach for me when I licked clean the bowl of deviled egg filling. Yum.

You may now kiss the bride.
Monday, November 17, 2008

Jonathan and I hadn't watched our wedding video in forever, since it's on VHS and we haven't had a VCR in several years.

So a friend of ours, in possession of all sorts of techno-gadgets, copied our VHS recording to a DVD. Fun!

We watched some of it with the kids tonight.

When the preacher said "You may now kiss the bride," Dylan buried his head in his chest and proclaimed:

"I am never getting married. Not if I have to kiss someone."

Lauryn replied, "I am! I'm getting married! I am going to marry Daddy...yep...Daddy's going to marry ME!"

Ryan said, "No, he can't marry you Lauryn."

"Why not?"

"Because. He'll be way, way too old."

[insert my hysterical laughter here]

Then later when I was tucking Lauryn in bed, "Lauryn, what was the best part of your day?"

"Seeing you and Daddy wear your pretty dresses!"

He wore a tux. But I guess she doesn't yet have the vocabulary for that particular apparel. Made me smile.

She was pretty enthralled with the whole video. Already she's a little girl, dreaming her dreams...

...leading me to think of this poem my friend Lisa wrote and recited during the ceremony:

"Little Women" by Lisa Jean Clanton

Little women, dreaming our dreams
and planning our plans and such.
It hasn't turned out as we thought, it seems,
being changed by God's mighty touch.

All in the same year, we were merely fourteen
Searching for life, still dreaming up dreams
we all found His love, bowed our hearts in one place
And He's given us all a story of Grace.

You were our shining Starr of Bethlehem
For to the feet of our Savior you pointed
And from the beginning you've taught that surrender
means a servant - humble, bold and ANOINTED

we'll never forget those weary-eyed talks
of crushes and futures and all under the sun.
But who could have known or imagined the day
when you'd stand erect soul to soul with the one?

we all remember when he swept into your life
and so tenderly captured your heart.
And now we bear witness as he makes you his wife
And this cord of three strands shall not be torn apart.

Jonathan, man after God's own heart,
So faithful, strong, loyal and true,
offering living hope to all he comes near.
And life - precious, fresh and anew.

And today you've walked down that long-awaited aisle
and give each other that knowing smile.
For this is the day that the Lord has made when your hearts intertwine as one
And we love you and bless you and send you forth
In the name of God's Holy Son

Watching the video was a sweet walk down memory lane. Watching the reception...remembering old friends we haven't seen in years, and family members who are no longer with us...hearing that sweet poem from my best friend, both then and now.

It also made me want to get my rear-end to the gym. But that's another post entirely.

Buying all these products in combination can only mean one thing.
Sunday, November 16, 2008

Started at 2am with Ryan. My hope is that it's not highly contagious. (Please oh please oh please oh please oh please.....)

My current nemesis. And some other random stuff.
Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh...big, chunky, toddler-friendly Mega-Blocks. Perfect for little hands building simple towers. How I miss you.

I actually used to complain about cleaning you up day after day and putting you back in your storage-friendly zippered bag. I laugh at my naivety.

Now that Legos have invaded my world, I would happily pick up mega-blocks.

Legos. Blasted Legos. My nemesis. You have captured the heart of my six year old. And you have invaded every room of my home. You have embedded yourself in my carpet. You have found your way between the cushions of my couch. Your teeny, tiny little pieces are nearly indistinguishable to the human eye (at least the 30 year old human eye) and no matter how hard I try to put all of you back in your plastic storage tub...I can never, ever find you all. I can not take a simple stroll through any room of my home without stepping on a Lego.

When I babysit my friends' babies, they can crawl through the house and find fifteen Legos in the first 10 minutes they're here. Which means I keep my eyes laser focused on them the entire time I'm babysitting. No choking on Legos allowed.

But, alas, evil Legos...you inspire the imagination of my beloved first born, so you can stay. For now.

(Ryan seems to do a pretty good job of building his fabulous creations only in the playroom. I don't know how those darn things migrate all over the house. Any hard core parents out there, who use the "If I find Legos all over the house I'm throwing each piece I find away" technique? I've heard of you. I admire your strength. I'm not sure I could handle those puppy dog eyes watching me throw away his most treasured possession.)

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Jonathan is out of town preaching at a men's conference this weekend.

This morning Ryan said, "Mom, can we get Daddy a little present while he's gone? To give him when he gets home?"

"Great idea! What do you think we should get him?"

"Oh...I don't know...[with great concentration; as if he hadn't given it a single thought until this moment]...maybe a new pet? A dog maybe?"

Nice try kid.

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I'm annoyed when buying gift bags, tissue paper, and cards. That stuff adds up. I would rather spend that money to give a nicer gift without any wrapping paper. But I would be embarrassed to walk into a wedding shower with an unwrapped gift. So I keep buying gift bags. And tissue. And bows. And cards. But I don't like it.

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I wonder....

When you make macaroni and cheese (the blue box variety), do you use measuring cups to measure out the necessary 1/4 cup of milk and 4 Tbsp of margarine? Or do you just "eyeball it", trusting you can pour the right amount of milk straight from the milk jug directly into the mac-n-cheese?

When making mac-n-cheese do you:
measure the ingredients
just eyeball it
view results

free blog polls

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today or tomorrow I'll go grocery shopping. I really should have gone yesterday.

Which means today is the day we get a little creative with meals. It's been a clean out the fridge kind of morning.

The kids have impressed me with their ability to scavenge the depths of the pantry.

For breakfast, we had the last of some homemade pear preserves a woman in our church gave us (I love West Texas!) on the heels of a loaf of bread. Then some applesauce. Now they are splitting up the last of some mandarin oranges. Not enough milk for everyone, so they drank apple cider from a powdered mix.

I was struck this morning with the fact that my kids have never, ever, not once missed a meal. In some places when a mom says "We have nothing to eat", it means something entirely different than when I say it. When I haven't taken time to make a trip to the grocery store, I stand in my kitchen and say "We have nothing to eat", somehow everyone still leaves the table with full bellies. I'm thankful.

(I've been following some of the Compassion Bloggers. Their posts tend to inspire thankfulness!)

If there be mud, he shall find it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I bought Dylan new shoes this morning.

A mere 8 hours later this is what they look like:

Granted, I bought the shoes at a thrift store and only paid $3 bucks for them....but still! Geesh! And now you see why I buy shoes at thrift stores and only pay $3 bucks for them.

The kid sniffs out mud where there is the smallest possible puddle to be found! This time it was in the alley when I sent him to take out the trash.

Ya gotta love adventurous, rowdy boys.

Family Night: Early Edition

Last week my mom forwarded me an email with directions for making an omelet in a Ziploc freezer bag.

Sounded like a good family night activity! So I went with a "breakfast for dinner"..."morning at night"...kind of theme.

The kids got dressed in new PJ's, then we all "went to sleep" in the living room floor. I set my alarm clock to go off in one minute, then we "woke up" and pretended it was morning. It was a loooong minute of pretending to be asleep. Lots of loud pretend snoring and fake farting crammed into 60 seconds.

Lauryn was the only one to get true "PJ's", because I found them on sale.
The boys got new boxer shorts and white t-shirts to sleep in.
Because I'm cheap. And PJ's are stupidly expensive.

After we "woke up" I asked the kids to tell me about their "dreams". They had some fanciful tales to tell. Pirates and panda bears were involved.

Then we played one of the kids favorite songs, Good Morning by Phil Joel. Dancing and craziness ensued. Good times.

Next up: omelet preparation.

1. Crack two eggs (not more than two) into a quart size Ziploc freezer bag. (Lesson learned: remind kids to make SURE the bag is closed before shaking.)

2. Put out a variety of ingredients such as cheeses, ham, onion, green peppers, tomatoes, hash browns, salsa, etc. (We used sausage, cheese, mushrooms, and bell pepper.)

3. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of their choice to the bag and shakes the bag to mix them well.

4. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up. (We wrote our initials on the bag with a Sharpie.)

5. Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in one large pot of water.

6. Cut the bags across the top and the omelets will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.
(That "prepare to be amazed line" cracked me up. But by gosh...it did make a darn good omelet! "Amazing" perhaps if you are easily impressed. Or can't make traditional omelets very well. Both of those statements apply to me. Okay. So I was amazed.)


Finally! Some cold weather!
Friday, November 7, 2008

We attended a super fun party out at the corn maze last night.

I finally got to pull out the winter coats! It was actually cold enough that I could have busted out the stocking caps and gloves too, but I thought that might be overkill.

We had a great time wandering through the corn stalks with our flashlights, and then making s'mores. Roasting marshmallows! Over a real fire! The kids may begin to protest my microwave version.

Men. They never change.
Thursday, November 6, 2008

I came into the living room at 9:00am to see Dylan sitting on the couch eating a fruit roll-up.

A fruit roll-up he had not been given permission to eat.

I don't say a word, but give him the look that says, "What do you think you're doing?"

With fruit roll-up hanging out of him mouth he mumbles, "Lauryn did it."

"Lauryn put that fruit-roll up in your mouth? Moved your jaw up and down? And shoved it down your throat?"

"No. But she gave it to me."

Hmm...where have I heard that before?

"The man said, 'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.'" Genesis 3:12

Behold! The power of the internet!

A big "thanks" to my gracious readers who leave a flattering comment when I post about our family nights.

You guys are too kind.

Reading your comments I can almost forget that I only post the parts of family night that go as planned.

Tantrums? Sibling-squabbles? Kids on the time out bench? Frantically searching Google for ideas? The times we have to postpone family night for an hour or so because Jonathan and I are irritated at each other? The times I lose my patience in the middle of rocket ship assembly? What....I didn't include those parts of family night? Hmmmm....

It's kinda like how Lost in Laundry will never feature a picture of me without make-up on. You'll also never see an extreme close-up. Or a picture that's been taken from behind. That's the beauty of having a blog. You guys only get to see the cropped, touch-up, edited version.

And to those of you who think I'm creative....I fear you have been dreadfully mislead. I must admit that I'm really just very efficient at using Google. Start by searching "birthday party themes" and you'll find all you need!

I'll keep blogging about family night, because I love having a place to store all these memories. Just don't get the wrong idea about me being some kind of super mom. (As those of you who know me in real life snicker!) I may look pretty good on Tuesday nights...but the rest of the week I have a lot of maturing I need to do. So to keep it real, you might want to imagine some whining, crying, and disciplining that happens along with all the fun.

No one eats Moon Pies anymore.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Probably because they're nasty.

The manager at the local grocery store told Jonathan that they rarely get Moon Pies, and when they do they sit on the shelf and expire.

I don't like Moon Pies either. But I needed some for our family night theme of "Outer Space!" Oh well. I like Star Crunch better anyway!

We started out with rocket construction. (Those cotton balls are supposed to be smoke from the blast-off...use your imagination people.)

Then we had a rocket race to see who could launch their rocket the farthest. We could only play this a few times because the rockets were getting crushed and destroyed. Difficult atmospheric re-entry...or something like that.

Next we broke out glow-in-the-dark stars. We turned out the lights and played Chris Tomlin's "Indescribable" ("...you placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name...you are amazing God...") while the kids sang and danced around holding the glowing stars. It was great. (Not good for pictures though, being in the dark and all.)

Next up was star-gazing, stretched out on a blanket in the backyard. Lauryn got freaked out by being outside in the dark and by the barking dogs next door and wanted to come back inside. That left just Jonathan and the boys alone in their contemplation of the size of the universe. :-) The sky was full of stars and a bright half-moon last night. Great fun.

After teasing the kids that the moon was made of cheese, we came back inside to eat some mini-babybels. Man, that's some good stuff. We finished up by eating a Star Crunch. Which, not surprisingly, tastes a little gross right after enjoying a mini-babybel cheddar cheese.

It was a low-key night, but one of my favorites!

Given that the TV was filled with people whose heads were about to explode with all the political drama, it was a good night for stopping to consider the greatness of God and the wonder of what His hands have made. Those stars surround the entire planet. They are seen by inhabitants of every continent. May people in every nation by awed by the Maker of the stars.Italic

He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.

Psalm 147:4-5

Check out WhittakerWoman for more ideas on how to connect with your family.


Monday, November 3, 2008

What stresses you out?

For me, it's a completely booked up calendar.

If I look at my planner, and every hour of every day is booked up for several days in a row, I can feel the tension start to creep into my neck muscles.

I can handle sickness, family strife, money woes, work obligations, and other 'stressors' pretty well and take it all in stride, but moving at 100 miles an hour, blowing and going from one activity/obligation/responsibility to the next leaves me feeling I have the right to be cranky.

When I haven't had time to stop breathe...that's when a simple task like grocery shopping makes me want to pull my hair out. Especially after a day at work when I literally couldn't find time to stop and use the bathroom. Let alone eat lunch (unless cookies from the vending machine count). My very first patient had a medical emergency, and that kind of set the tone for the whole day. Just a crazy day from the get go.

Self-talk begins here: It's just a trip to the grocery store. You can do it. Come on! Make the grocery list! Load the kids in the car! Battle the mayhem that is the grocery store parking lot! Quit using this blog post as an avoidance tactic! It's just grocery shopping! And if you want to feed your family dinner tonight, you really must go. You can do it. Stop whining and get it done.

Okay. Wal-Mart, here we come.

I should perhaps warn my children that if they even think about mis-behaving while we're there, it will not end well for all involved....

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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