Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wishing You a Blessed Christimas!


May your holiday be JOY FILLED and may you have the PEACE that only GOD can give.

Have a BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Case of Reindeer Flu

Meet Shelvin, our shelf elf.
 
Shelvin hails from the North Pole where he spends most of his time working for Santa in his toy shop.  Every year around Christmas time, however, he takes a break from his toy making duties and comes to stay with us.  During the day, Shelvin is Santa's eyes and ears ... watching the littles to make sure their "nice" far outweighs their "naughty".  Each night he returns to the North Pole to fill Santa in on all the shenanigans happening on the farm.  Shelvin prefers to do his monitoring inconspicuously, but somehow the chicklets always manage to find him.  This forces him to choose a new location each morning from which to observe.  Mostly he just watches  from his varying vantage points, but every once in a while, he likes to shake things up a bit and that's just what he did last night.

First a little back story.  A while ago, the Munchkin heard the well-loved Christmas song, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and she became concerned.  She asked me if I had ever kissed the jolly ol' elf and I guess I hesitated for a little too long.  Her eyes widened and she admonished, "Your silence tells me everything.  You have kissed him!  How could you?  You don't know where he's been and he hangs around with reindeer!  You could end up with reindeer flu, you know!" 

Last night the song came on the radio and she chastised me once again for kissing on the guy in the red suit.  She informed me that there was no way she was ever kissing me again.  She went on and on about how you can never be too careful and that Reindeer flu was not something she cared to ever get thankyouverymuch!  Just to freak her out a bit because that's the kind of great mother I am, I grabbed her and gave her a big ol' smooch.  Let's just say she was not too happy.

Fast forward to bedtime last evening.  Once the Munchkin was tucked in bed and fast asleep, Shelvin got the mischievous idea to paint her nose red (ala Rudolph).  He then tucked himself in amongst her stuffed animals so he would have a front row seat when she awoke.

This morning, she somehow missed seeing Shelvin and came straight to me to say, "Good Morning".  When I saw her, I took one look at her and said with great alarm, "Oh no!  I think you have reindeer flu!  You better go take a look in the mirror!"  She took off for the bathroom and within seconds I heard her shrieking.  She came running to me in tears and telling me this was all my fault.  Can you say, Drama Queen?  She said because I had been kissing Santa, she was ruined for life.  She really laid into me, let me tell ya!  I didn't let it go on too long before I told her to go take a look at Shelvin.  One look at the elf and the evidence (i.e. his paint stained sponge brush) and she turned to me and said with alittle too much sassiness for her own good, "You're lucky, but I still ain't kissin' ya!"

Too funny!  I am sure this will become part of our family lore.  It is one of those stories we'll be still telling and laughing about years from now.  The poor girl will probably have a terrible flashback every time she hears, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," but it was worth it! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

They're in the Mail!



Take perfect Christmas card photo.  Check.

Get 70 copies of Christmas card printed.  Check.

Stuff,  lick, seal, stamp and hand address all 70 copies (because you can't find address labels anywhere and you've gone to three stores and the Little Prince just cannot take another second in the car).  Check, check, check, and check.

Truck all those bad boys off to the post office and send them on their merry way.  Check.

Sit back and relax.  No check here lady ... you've got four days 'til Christmas and those presents ain't wrapping themselves, Mama Hen :)

Besides the not so great time that is getting our annual Christmas cards out, we've had a fun week. 

Monday night we went Christmas carolling with my brood's 4-H club.  While carrying lanterns the kids had handcrafted in previous years, we strolled around a senior citizen housing complex singing our hearts out.  The residents seemed to really enjoy our slightly off key ensemble.  Even though the weather cooperated and it was seasonably warm, the hot cocoa still was a welcome, warm treat at the end of the night.
  
It really was a lot of fun and I'd love to do this on our own next year.  I am sure the chicklets could recruit a friend or a family member or two to join us in song.  There are plenty of senior apartments and nursing homes around  and what a awesome way to spread God's love at Christmas. 

Yesterday, the Geek loaded all of us in the family truckster for a surprise looooooong road trip (almost 4 hours each way) to see a truly amazing Christmas light display.  Yes we are a little crazy, but we all think it was well worth the drive!  It was one of those things you have to see in person to fully appreciate, but you can check out this link to read about it.  Boy Wonder can hardly wait to recreate some of the spectacular splendor here on the farm.  We got a chance to talk to the creator of the display and he invited the Geek and Boy Wonder back next fall for a workshop to find out all the how-to's and what-nots, so who knows?  Maybe someday you'll be able to see our little homestead from space.

I keep hoping the elves will drop by and wrap the presents for me, but I am beginning to think I'm on my own.  Do ya' think the kids would care if I just slapped some bows on everything and called it a day?  Truthfully, they probably wouldn't, but it just wouldn't be the same on Christmas morning without the joyful mess.  I guess I  better go channel my "inner elf" and do some serious "wrap-itation".  What I really need to help my holiday spirit is a snowflake or two.  Seriously, it's hard to appreciate Christmas is only four days away when there's nary a speck of the white stuff in sight.  The weather man is saying it's probably not going to be a white Christmas this year, but I can still dream right?

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow...
Irving Berlin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Year Ago

A year ago my, world was shattered.
A year ago,  my heart broke in two.
A year ago, a piece of me disappeared.
A year ago,  my sister passed away.

Today I still miss her more than ever.
Today I just want to see her smile one more time.
Today I have so much I want to tell her.
Today I want my sister back.

A year from now, I'll still miss her.
A year from now, I'll still want her back.
A year from now, tho' I may be stronger.
A year from now, she'll still be gone
and my world will never be the same.

I miss you Barbara ... and I always will.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Christmas Card Photo

Trying to get all three of my chicklets smiling and looking at the camera at the same time is not an easy task.  Every year I set the bar high in an effort to take the "perfect" Christmas card photo.  And every year it takes several attempts  and threats of bodily harm before I just relax and realize perfection is overrated.  Chicklets are chicklets and I'd rather remember them as they are rather than as some Stepford version of themselves. 

I haven't made my final decision yet, (yes, am am aware Christmas is just over a week away) but here's a few pics that won't be gracing anyone's mailbox this year :)




I'm hoping to take a couple more tomorrow, but if they don't turn out ... this is the best I've got.


Speaking of Christmas cards, I received this beautiful card from my good friend, Jill. 


This picture doesn't do it justice.  It is a handcrafted work of art made especially just for little ol' me.  She totally captured my "style" with this beauty and I plan to put it in a picture frame and bring it out every Christmas season.  I wish I had half the talent this lady has.  She is an artist and you can see more of her handiwork here.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Recipe is Definitely a Keeper!

I had hoped to post some pictures from the adventure we went on last Friday night, but my computer and internet connections are still giving me fits.  I promise to do it soon ... I hope.  I am sure the anticipation is just killing you :)


In the meantime, how about a recipe that's simple to make and pretty tasty to boot?

I pinned this recipe on Pinterest a while ago and finally got around to making it for lunch today.  I've been striking out with new recipes lately, but this was a home run with my brood!  My chicklets aren't picky eaters, but I think even littles who are would like this.

I made a few changes based on the ingredients I had on hand.  I didn't have pepperoni like the recipe (which was apparently an adaption of a Rachel Ray recipe to begin with) called for, so I used salami instead and I didn't hear one complaint.  In fact, we started brainstorming all the other possible combinations of meat/cheese we could try in the future ... like ham & swiss, or  bacon & cheddar.  These were made in a mini muffin pan, but the Geek suggested trying to make them in full-size muffin pan next time.  I suppose it might be worth a try.  Not 100% sure what the cooking time adjustment would be, but I'd say not more than 5 to 7 minutes more depending on your oven.

The original recipe said to use pizza sauce for dipping and we did.  A few of my chicklets decided ranch dressing would work too.  I even thought a cream cheese sauce (something like this one) might be tasty next time. 


Easy Peasy Pizza Puffs

Here's what you need:

3/4 cup of flour

3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
that's powder NOT soda :)

3/4 tablespoon garlic powder
The original recipe called for 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning but I didn't have any.  This gives it a pretty hefty garlicky taste, so if you aren't a fan like us, you may want to lighten it up a little.  

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper
The original recipe said a dash of red pepper flakes, but my peeps don't like stuff too spicy so I went with regular ol' black pepper instead:)

3/4 cup of whole milk

1 egg , lightly beaten
Not sure why it needs to be "pre-beaten" but who am I to quibble?

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
Remember ... if you're feeling daring you can always try some other cheese/meat combo ... let me know how it goes. 

1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
My brood are cheese lovers so I upped this from the original 1/4 cup.  The Asiago has a bit stronger flavor which is nice too.

1 cup cubed meat
Technically, since these are pizza puffs I guess this should be pepperoni, but I used salami and it was just fine and dandy. 

1/2 cup pizza sauce for dipping
We used our local grocery store's brand and it was perfect.  Remember, you can get creative here too and use whatever dipping sauce floats your boat.

Here's what you do....

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a mini-muffin pan (mine had 24 cups).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper with a fork.  Whisk in the milk and the slightly beaten egg.

Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni (or whatever cheese/meat combo your going with) and let it stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, give the batter a stir and divide it evenly among the mini-muffin cups.

Pop them into the oven and bake until puffed and golden (about 20 to 25 minutes)

Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce (or whatever sauce you have a hankering for) for dipping.

Enjoy!


 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One More Chance

Lousy internet connections today caused me to lose the my post... grrrr! Hopefully, I'll get it reposted tomorrow.  Actually, I think it might be my computer.  I guess it's time for the Geek to earn his keep:)  Only kidding ... sort of.  Between him and Boy Wonder, I should be all set in no time, I hope.  Unless it's all due to less than stellar internet connections and then I'm out of luck.  I wonder if Santa could talk the cable company into bringing cable to the ol' farmstead.  I won't hold my breath.
Oops! I was wrong about Friday being your last chance to win prizes in Courtney Walsh's Handmade Holiday Giveaway.  You've got through this Thursday (12/15/2011) so don't forget to head over there.  She's got some really great stuff just waiting to be given away

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Getting Closer

When the Munchkin took today's link off the paper "Advent" chain, I realized Christmas is only 16 days away.  Yikes!  I had visions of making alot of presents this year.  In fact, there's a pile of fleece fabric in the corner waiting to be cut and turned into Christmas PJs for my brood.  I am beginning to get a feeling that it might not be happening this yuletide season.  I suppose I could get my behind in gear and get my "elf" on and whip up some dandy jammies, but who am I kidding?  I have turned procrastination into an art form.  Maybe I'll just wrap the fabric up and tell 'em it's a blanket.  Think it'll work?  Me neither.

What about you?  Are you ready for the holiday or are you like me and just "pacing yourself"?  so much better than saying I'm lazy:)  We managed to get the tree up, but have yet to decorate it.  Hopefully we'll make some serious progress this weekend. 

But not tonite ... tonite we are off to enjoy a "Heritage Holiday Celebration" at a local historical park.  They have vintage Christmas decorations fr0m the 1800s through the 1950s on display in several buildings throughout the park.  There are crafts for the kiddies to make and marshmallows for everyone to roast over a bonfire.   It sounds like fun, don't you think?  It snowed today, so I am hoping for some picture perfect moments while we are there.  It'd be nice to check Christmas card photo off my list :)

Don't forget to visit the Courtney Walsh's "Telling Stories" blog today.  It's your last chance to enter her Handmade Holiday Giveaway.  Courtney has outdone herself with lots of goodies just waiting to be won by you.  Check it out and good luck!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Somebody Needs a Lesson in Manners

Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.
Maurice Baring

Is it just me, or are people as a whole a bit ruder than they use to be.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially those involved in customer service and especially at this time of year.  I know it's crazy and customers can be demanding, but I don't think there is ever an excuse good enough to warrant something like what I went through yesterday afternoon.

My brood and I like to frequent the local taco fast food establishment.  I won't name names, but I am sure it would ring a bell if I told you :)  Anyhoo... this place is always messing up my order.  I've put up with it because it's fast and cheap, but last week it finally got to me.  I went to town and picked up lunch. When I got back to the farm, I discovered that once again I did not receive the order I had paid for. I decided enough was enough and made a quick call to the restaurant directly to voice my complaint. The manager on duty that day apologized and offered me a free item in addition to my missing food upon my next visit. I wasn’t happy to have to make that call in the first place, but I was satisfied with the resolution.

Yesterday, I packed up the chicklets in the car to run errands and decided to swing by the taco place to grab a quick lunch and get my free food.  I place my order ( I ordered a few more things in addition to my free food) in the drive-thru and everything seemed to go smoothly.  The sweet lady at the drive-thru window gave me my order and I pulled away.  Just to be sure they didn't forget something, I pulled into a parking spot to double check my order.  Wouldn't you know it, they messed up again!

I went inside the restaurant and asked to speak to a manager. I told him my problem and he went and retrieved my missing food. At that point I felt I had to express my disappointment and exasperation that this had occurred on a visit where I was receiving items free because of an inaccurately filled previous order. To put it mildly, the manager showed no sympathy. In fact, he turned his back on me and walked away while I was talking.

I was appalled, to say the least, but it got worse. I told him I was very disappointed in the restaurant’s service and he mumbled over his shoulder, “Then go somewhere else.” Obviously, I was shocked. I didn’t know what else to say to him, but I knew I had to report this somehow. I asked for his name, but he refused to give it to me. I continued to ask and finally, still not coming to the counter, he said it was Steve and starting laughing with co-workers in the kitchen. It didn't take a genius to figure out he was lying to me.  The sweet drive-thru lady, came forward and nervously told me what his name really was.  I wanted to believe her, but I wasn't sure either.

At that point I decided that I was wasting my time there and turned to leave. As I left the restaurant someone said in a snarky voice, “Have a nice day Ma’am” and someone else added, “Somewhere else.”

Can you believe that?  I was dumbfounded.  I could not believe that someone in a so-called management position would ever treat a customer that way.   I was not belligerent in any way, I just wanted to vent a little and only raised my voice once the manager turned his back and walked away. It has always been my experience, in dealing with customers that the “customer is always right” and even if for some reason they are not, they should always be treated with respect.   Don 't you agree?

Well, as soon as I got home I called the corporate offices and filed a formal complaint.  I wasn't confident anything would be done, but at least I didn't just drop it.  Imagine my surprise a few hours later when I received a phone call from the restaurant chain's district manager.  He profusely apologized for the store manager's abhorrent behavior and assured me that this was not the image the chain wished to portray to the public. Didn't think so.  He told me that disciplinary action would be taken and said he would be sending me coupons for free food.  Free is good.

How about you?  Do you have any stories of poor customer service?  I really do feel for people who work in these positions.   I have done my time worked there and  I know it's not always the easiest job, but treating customers respectfully?  That should be a given.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Munchkin's First Hair Cut

This just in...

The Munchkin, a two time county fair winner for longest ponytail, has finally had her first haircut.  The spunky six-year old's tresses had reached an amazing length of over thirty inches. 

Fearing she might soon be freakishly strangled by her own hair, the young lady had recently begun placing increasing demands on her ol' Mama Hen insisting that the locks to be lopped off.  Despite her sadness at seeing her sweet pea's baby hair go, not to mention fearing she might do more harm than good since beautician she is not, Mama Hen put on her big girl pants and snipped away while fighting off tears.  The chopped off strands were carefully tied with a satin bow and are expected to be placed in a box along with the rest of the Munchkin's baby keepsakes.

When asked how she felt to be rid of all the excess fluff the Munchkin replied,"It was no big deal."  Mama Hen respectfully disagrees.

Note:  The Munchkin plans to grow her hair long once again so she can make a contribution to an organization that makes wigs for children suffering from hair loss.  She said this first cut was for her memory box, but the next one is all for them :)


Be sure to check out Courtney Walsh's blog -- "Telling Stories" this week. She is having a Handmade Holiday Giveaway to encourage her readers to support artists, designers and authors this holiday season.  You have a chance to win everyday just by visiting and leaving a comment.   Additional chances are available too ... just check out her blog to find out how :)  Don't miss out ... there's lots of awesome handmade goodness to be given away!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Am I Getting it Right?

Do not ask that your kids live up to your expectations.  Let your kids be who they are, and your expectations will be in breathless pursuit.
Robert Brault

I am not a bragger.  I "blame" my mother.  Seriously, she made it very clear (in her opinion anyway) that to be proud or boastful in any way is a sin.  Unfortunately, she took this "belief" to mean that she should rarely (if ever) give out compliments, lest any one of my siblings or I become prideful.  I honestly don't think she withheld praise to be mean.  I just think she was a bit ... misguided. 

Don't brag about yourself, let others praise you.
Proverbs 27:2 (CEV)


True, we should be cautious when blowing our own horn, but what about praising others?  No harm there.  In fact, it's a good thing  (for the most part anyway which I will go into in a bit).  It instills confidence and promotes self-esteem.  Lack of praise from others, especially a parent, can cause self-doubt and low self-esteem ... something my siblings and I all experienced first hand. 

With this in mind, I determined that once I became a mother (God-willing) I would not make the same mistake my mother did.  I didn't plan to go overboard with the whole praise thing because I knew empty praise  would be damaging in it's own way.  Instead I hoped to give sincere compliments to my kiddos and let them know I love and am proud of them.  So far I think I have done a pretty decent job of that.  All three of my chicklets are pretty confident and have good self-esteem.  Boy Wonder has had many occasions in his life that would have been very hurtful if he lacked the confidence he has in himself and his abilities.  It's a little early to tell with the Little Prince, but I sense in him a quiet confidence as well.  He knows what he wants and he goes for it.  I think he too will fare well in this crazy world.

That leaves the Munchkin...

She has a personality and air of confidence that I envy.  I can't take credit for much, if any, of it.  She came out of the womb ready to take on the world and I can only imagine the life she will lead. 

Ok, here's my problem ... not only has the Munchkin been blessed with a strong self-esteem, she is beautiful.   I know, all parents think their children are beautiful ... and they are, but there's something about the Munchkin that makes other people, complete strangers often, stop and comment.  I cannot tell you the number of times people have come up to us and commented on her beauty.  I am not exaggerating, people will interrupt us while we are eating at a restaurant to compliment her.  I hate to say this, but it's happened so often we kind of take it in stride now and almost are tempted to be rude and say, "Yeah, right ... whatever... go away and let us eat in peace." 

But her beauty is more than just skin deep, it seems.  People are always telling us how special she is.  I kid you not, it happens all.the.time.  Just last night I got a text from a woman we met when Boy Wonder was in the local children's choir.  We would see her while we waited for choir practice to be dismissed.  Last night we were exchanging texts and kind of catching up on the last six months since we last saw one another.  Here's one of her texts:
(The Munchkin) is one of those rare souls you might be lucky enough to cross paths with in life ... but get this -- God granted me the grace of actually more than just a one time meeting -- we got to bond and take advantage of the time we were given...you and your hubby created an angel ... thanks for being generous enough to share.
Let me digress for a minute here.  I think she's a cutie too.  But like I said earlier, all parents think their children are cute.  I think she is special too, but, I also know she can be a real stinker sometimes.  I am not being mean when I say this, but I don't understand what all the fuss is about.  I, myself, have always felt pretty invisible when in a crowd, but this isn't true for her.  What do these people see that would make them approach a complete stranger (often going out of their way to do so) to give a compliment?  That said, it must be something I don't see, maybe because I am so close.  Something about her that draws others out.  Again, a reason I am sure God has great plan's for her in this world.

So back to the "problem."  How do I handle the excessive praise (and we are talking E-X-C-E-S-S-I-V-E here folks!)  she receives from others?  I don't want to deny her it, but I also don't want her self worth to be tied up in her looks.  What should I, as her mother do?

I'll tell you what I have done.  I have told her that God has blessed her with beauty and charm.  I have also told her that because of that, much will be expected from her.  I have  told her that some people will be jealous and when she slips they will be quick to point it out.  I have said that even when she's nice, some people will still find things to criticize about her.   I've told her that no matter what, she needs to focus on the right things.

I think what sums it up best what I have done is the blessing the Geek and I spoke over her recently at church... 
"You are a precious gift from God. May you remember that charm can mislead and beauty may fade, but the woman to be admired and praised is the woman who honors the Lord.  And may your light always shine from within so that through you others may see God's love."

Friday, December 2, 2011

What a Week!

Whew, TGIF!  This has been one crazy week for this ol' Mama Hen.  I don't know about you, but I am desperately in need of a nice and quiet, relaxing weekend.  That ain't happening anytime soon, but I can dream, right?  Hey, I would settle for just slightly less chaotic even.

We were on the road every night this week traveling here and there and everywhere in between.  Monday evening found us driving 90 miles going to and from the chicklet's monthly 4H club meeting.  Boy Wonder was the Club Historian for the second year in a row.  Basically this translates to club photographer, a job he totally enjoys since it gives him the chance to get his hands on Mama Hen's Nikon.  He put together a slide show with music and photographs from last year's club events and presented copies of the presentation on DVD to everyone at the meeting.  That was before the election and let's just say I think it had everything to do with his re-election.  The other 4H-ers were so geeked to see themselves and so thankful for their own copies of the pictures.  Before we headed for home, the Munchkin got to do a little "show and brag" when she showed off her poultry showmanship trophy from Nationals.

Boy Wonder has been asked been told his project work in 4H has earned him the opportunity to compete at a state level.  Tuesday night we went to an informational meeting about the state award program and found out he we have a lot of work ahead of us.  This is just the first step in what could ultimately result in a 4 year college scholarship, so it is definitely worth the time and effort.

Tuesday was also the day the Little Prince decided to take a tumble and bumped his head.  Thankfully it doesn't seem to have given him much more than a tiny scratch on his forehead.  He will be the death of me yet, I tell ya!

Wednesday night we put another 40+ miles on the car going to and from church. The weather was lousy, but Boy Wonder is in his second and final year of confirmation classes and it would take more than a few snowflakes to make him miss class.  The youth program at our church is very active and very much in sync with what's going on with today's kids.  In churches we have been a part of in the past, most teens can't wait to be done with confirmation and basically done with church.  I would have to say it's pretty much the exact opposite at our church.

While I was off at my knitting class Thursday evening (another 20+ miles on the family truckster), the Munchkin was home getting sicker by the minute.  She woke up earlier in the day complaining about a headache.  By the time I got home from class, she was running a fever of over 102 degrees and complaining that it hurt to move her neck.  One quick call to the pediatrician and we were on our way to the hospital ER (25 miles away) at 11 o'clock at night to rule out meningitis. Yikes!  The ER doctor said even though it appears to just be a bad viral infection, we did the right thing by bringing her in. We finally tumbled into bed around 2:30 in the morning.  Can you say pooped?

One bright spot in my week was winning a give-away  for a copy of the current issue of Amy Power's Inspired Ideas on the Dandelion Farm Girl blog.  Be sure to check out both links.  The magazine is chock full of fun holiday craft ideas and Marci (a.k.a. Dandelion Farm Girl) is one very creatively inspiring lady.  Her blog has plenty of awesome ideas sure to help you get your creative juices flowing.  I never dreamed I'd be a winner, but it was just what I needed to bring a bit of "happy" into my otherwise hectic week.  Thanks again Marci!

Well, as I said, it has been quite a week.  I think I will go grab a blanket and curl up on the couch, watch a Christmas movie and try not to worry about what mayhem is looming in my future. 

Don't forget to check out the Dandelion Farm Girl

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy Schmatterday!

I have heard it said that family traditions are important in a child's life.  They provide a sense of continuity, security and a sense of belonging that make little ones feel loved.  From personal experience, I would have to agree.

Our family has lots of traditions, some normal ... some bordering on nutty --- which is pretty much how this brood rolls.  Some were things the Geek and I did as children and introduced to one another and some are ones we have started ourselves.  Some have withstood the test of time.  Others have changed over time and continue to be tweeked and some are brand-spanking new. 

Of course there's been a few that we have had to let go of.  Sometimes it has been easy to do and other times it has been more painful, but necessary as they no longer work for us.  I use to joke that I had to be really careful with Boy Wonder when we tried something new.  If he liked the way it was done, I knew I better be prepared to do it from that way on or face his wrath.  He's a bit more flexible now, but it's still true to some extent.

We've got so many traditions and quirky things we do that I'd like to share, I think I might spread this out over a few blog posts.  I'll start here with one of our favorite Christmas season traditions, but before I start --- what about you?  Do you and yours have any interesting family traditions?  I bet you do and I'd love to hear about them!

A few years ago I saw a couple dozen adorable boot-shaped glass mugs for sale at a garage sale.  The Geek was on a major clean and purge cycle and had decreed no more glasses unless I had a really, REALLY good reason.  Truth be told, we had acquired an excessive amount of glassware.  We had wine glasses and water goblets.  There were margarita glasses and beer mugs (odd since we don't drink either, but you never know...)  We had shelves of juice glasses and my complete collection of vintage 1980 Holly Hobbie glasses from Arby's.  Well, apparently he didn't share my affinity for glassware ... the ol' party pooper!   Deep down I knew he was probably right, but when I saw the boot glasses, I just couldn't resist.  I  showed them to the Geek and he rolled his eyes and said something like, "I thought we agreed no new glasss."  Quickly I came up with a plan, "These are Schmatterday glasses, you know the day you put up the Christmas tree. It's called Schmatterday, because it schmatters and these glasses are perfect for the Scmatterday toast."  Knowing it was best not to question me (he's such a good man) he let me get five of them and the idea for Schmatterday was born.

Remember I said some of traditions were a little quirky? Here's proof.

That first year after we put up the tree with the chicklets, we decided to make strawberry shakes as a treat.  I'd actually forgotten about the glasses, but the Geek hadn't and served the shakes in them.  When it came time to toast, the Munchkin (having just gone through a viewing marathon of Toy Story and making an obvious take-off of Woody the Cowboy's line, "There's a snake in my boot!") held her glass up and said with a cowboy twang, "There's a shake in my boot!" to which someone responded, "Shake your bootie!"  and a tradition was set.

Truthfully, it's still a work in progress. The chicklets say we have to settle on an official Schmatterday feast to round out the celebration.  Over the years we've noshed on assorted hors d'oeuvres, Mexican and Chinese take-out.  This year we gave turkey and all  the fixins' a try.  Our brood isn't sure we have found "the one" yet, but we're leaning towards  Chinese take-out as the "keeper".

Last year we shared the "holiday" with my parents.  We were going through some rough times with the death of my sister, but the kids asked if we could still "do" Schmatterday.  They needed the comfort of routine in their little world right then, so we went ahead with it.  It still brings a smile to my face when I picture my eighty-six year old daddy raising his glass and shaking it as he said the "Official Schmatterday Toast" with just  the right touch of country twang.  It was just what we needed to bring a bit of joy back in our lives. 

Now that it's become a tradition, we treat those silly boot glasses with tender loving care.  It would be a tragedy if one broke!  I have managed to find a few more at thrift stores, but I could kick myself in the bootie for not getting all of them that I saw at that first sale.  I mean, what are the grandkids going to drink out of someday??? 

Am I getting carried away?  Maybe just a little, but one thing is for sure, this is a tradition my littles look forward to each year. 

"There's a shake in my boot!
Shake your bootie!"
The Official Schmatterday Toast
Don't forget ... ya gotta shake it and say it like a cowboy.  Yee haw!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Keeping Watch

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, and dealing with fears you didn't know existed.
Linda Wooten
I'm sitting here keeping a close watch over the Little Prince as he naps.  Per doctor's orders, I am to rouse him in about a half an hour to make sure he wakes.  Why you ask?  My little guy decided to take a swan dive off of a kitchen chair this afternoon and landed smack dab on his noggin.  Within what seemed like seconds, he had a large, bruising goose egg right in the middle of his beautiful forehead.  I tried not to panic, but it was hard not to recall last Christmas Eve.  The little man did the exact same thing and we ended up in an emergency room at 10 o'clock praying the results of my baby's CAT scan would come back normal.  Thank God there was no permanent damage then, but I couldn't help but wonder if we would be so lucky a second time.
 
 
Ever since his rough start in this world (ie. spending his first two weeks in intensive care) I have always had a fear that something might happen to my baby boy.  It's not always front and center in my thoughts, but it is always there, lingering in the back of my mind.  A little nagging feeling that maybe I should just wrap this kid up in bubble wrap and play it safe.  Irrational?  Ok, I'll admit maybe a little, but I can't seem to help it.
 
I am sure this is going to work out fine.  God's in control and my worrying will be for naught, but could you please keep us in your prayers?  I'm not sure which one of us needs it more :)

UPDATE:  The Little Prince appears to have no lasting effects from his tumble.  Mama Hen has a few more gray hairs, but he is as good as new.  Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

My blogging has been somewhat intermittent lately. Poor internet connections and keeping chicklets with cabin fever from going postal (it's hunting season in our neck of the woods and I'm a bit hesitant about letting the littles out of doors to freely roam when gunshots are sounding all around) are mostly to blame.  Add to the mix the fact that the Little Prince has decided that sleep ... specifically naps ... are entirely optional as of late.  You see, his nap time was when I got to go online.  I've tried explaining to him that Mama Hen needs her computer time, but so far he's being uncooperative... the little poop!  I am sure he will return to his regular schedule soon (God help me if he's done with naps already!) and I'll be back to prolific blogging in no time.   Until then, I guess sporadic posts will have to do:(

Last year I blogged every day in the month of November about the things I was grateful for in my life at the time.  I dubbed the series of blog posts Attitude of Gratitude.  It was a life-changing endeavor and even though I didn't commit to daily gratitude blog posts this November, I can honestly say I have been more cognizant of all that I have been blessed with throught this entire past year.  Almost every night as I put my chicklets to bed, we make a list of the things we are grateful for that day.  In doing this, I hope to pass onto them the same gift from God last year's "experiment" was to me ... the ability to find joy in everyday things. 

It is a true blessing to be able to have a thankful heart, even in the midst of chaos.  A blessing for which I am eternally grateful for ... not just at Thanksgiving, but the whole year through.



Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melody Beattie

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Cheesy Smile


I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.
Author Unknown

It just about inevitable.  At some point all chicklets go from having those cute baby grins to giving you that "cheesy smile" every time you try to take their picture.  The Little Prince is there right now.  And even though it makes for less than perfect pictures, I wouldn't trade it for a second ... he's still beautiful in my book!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas State of Mind


“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ” 
Mary Ellen Chase

Maybe it's because I've been listening to Christmas music so much lately, but I am in a serious "Christmas State of Mind."  Actually, it's more likely because I just love all things Christmas.  Okay, well maybe not all things, but enough that I might even go as far to say I have a slight serious addiction and that Pinterest has become my enabler.  Take a look at some of the stuff I am "crushing on" right now...

source: Pinterest
I seriously must find some time to "get my craft on" and recreate some of these beauties.  Snow ... glitter ... bright shiny objects?  My heart is all a twitter!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bickering Brood

Motherhood at the moment is, in a word ... challenging. My chicklets are constantly bickering. The older ones are at it almost every waking moment, and the Little Prince is not being all that charming either. Of course, it doesn't help that the Geek is out of town on an extended business trip.  Solo parenting is never an easy endeavor with this brood.


Boy Wonder is hyper vigilant and quick to point out the Munchkin's errors (real or perceived). Truthfully, he has done this her entire life ... it's a long story maybe for another day ... but suffice it to say, it's part of who he is. Sometimes it's worse than others ... this is one of those times.  Sometimes it's easier to ignore than others ... this is not one of those times.

To make matters worse, the Munchkin is in full on Drama Queen mode. According to her, everyone hates her ... nobody loves her ... wah! wah! wah!  I suggested she go eat some worms, but the humor was lost on her and my words were met with more abhorrently annoying whining. In her angst, she is pushing all of Boy Wonders "buttons" and is just peeved with anything and everything the Little Prince does. Yay!

I guess my biggest problem right now is learning how to deal with sibling rivalry. I was the youngest of five children and most of my siblings had flown (or were just about to) the coop by the time I made my appearance. I grew up essentially like an only child and never really experienced sibling rivalry.  For that reason, my brood's incessant squabbling is foreign to me.  I have no idea if this is normal or not.

Pardon my disillusionment, but I always dreamed my kids would get along better than this. The first two were spaced out far enough (seven years) that I  thought there would not be all that much fighting. Sure, I thought maybe the occasional grumpy confrontation, but not all day, everyday. To say this is killing me, might not be all that much of an exaggeration. I am sure it has got to be affecting my blood pressure, because it's certainly causing my stress level to skyrocket.

I've tried talking with them, pleading with them, grounding them, and taking away their prized possessions. Oh, and while I am not proud to say this, I have yelled ... oh how I have yelled.  Yelling, sadly, seems to have the greatest impact.  It's the one thing that makes them stop, unfortunately it doesn't last for too long. I just don't understand why they just can't get along ... even for a day. Any suggestions? Anything at all?

I know this too shall pass, at least I'm praying it does (are you listening up there, God?) but I gotta be honest... this is so not what I planned. It's not what I thought motherhood would be like at all ... it's sooooo much tougher than I ever imagined in my wildest dreams! There are days where I just don't feel up to the challenge. I think to myself, "I am not strong enough to handle this!" That's often when I remember this quote...

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."
Mother Teresa

Ain't that the truth! I know God has brought me to this point in life and He will surely bring me through it, I just honestly wish it was a little less painful. I wish I had three angelic chicklets that got along famously, but I don't. I just need to accept that, I guess and plunder on with this mommy gig. If I'm lucky, they'll turn out decent and if I'm not ... well, I guess they'll get their money's worth on the therapist's couch someday :)

for reals, God? cuz' i'm not so sure sometimes :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Too Soon?

I'm one of "those people" ... you know the kind that listen to Christmas music all year round.  I make no apologies ... I love it.  Maybe I have elf blood in my family tree???  I do, however, live with someone who doesn't necessarily share my affinity for "holiday cheer".  The Geek has always felt Christmas music should only be played between Thanksgiving and December 31st.  After twenty-two years of marriage we have come to a compromise (of sorts).  This involved many long heated discussions and promises of baked goods of the Geeks choosing, but I can gleefully say Christmas music may now make an appearance here on the farm at any time throughout the year, albeit only in very small doses outside of the "official" holiday season.  From November 1st until the end of the holidays, it may be played 24/7 if the mood strikes.  I love that man, as I said before ... he "gets" me!

I prefer to listen to my own "private" collection of yuletide tunes (I won't even tell you how many holiday CDs I own ... it is a little bit embarrassingly excessive, I'll admit)  I am not a big fan of all the commercial "hoopla" that comes with public radio stations at this time of year.  They also tend to play the same songs/versions over and over and even I have to draw the line at "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" after the 1000th time :)

So what about you?  Are you a year-round caroler or do you limit your holiday cheer to December? As a special treat for my like-minded music lovers ... I've added my Christmas playlist on this blog.  It's got some of my favorites and I'll try to add more if internet connections allow.  And remember ...

"The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear."
Buddy the Elf

Monday, November 7, 2011

Poultry Palooza

palooza (noun):  An exaggerated event.
 
Palooza ... I can't think of a more fitting word/definition for the Crossroads of America Poultry Club National Convention we just attended in Indianapolis. 


Close your eyes for a moment and imagine, if you will, two exhibition halls the size of four Super Wally Worlds filled to the brim with cages containing just shy of 11,000 chickens, ducks and a few turkeys.  You read that right, eleven and three zeros ... 11,000 birds!!! It was definitely an exaggerated event!  And L-O-U-D!!!  And something I never imagined myself saying ... fun! 


My brood had a great time.  Their birds didn't win any trophies, but the littles did.  Both the Munchkin and Boy Wonder competed in the Showmanship Nationals along with about 200 other poultry-fact spewing kids.  This competition was not for the weak of heart or mind.  It really was a marathon-like event running from 9 in the morning until close to 6 at night.  By the time they handed out awards, my kiddos and their birds were pooped out and wanted to just find a nice comfy spot and take a nap.

yes, that chicken is sitting in a stroller ... hey, she was tired and needed a place to rest:)
They were divided into age groups and the Munchkin took home Third Place Pee Wee Division honors "in the whole United States of America, got to shake a TV star's hand and  got $30 cash!" as she likes to tell people whenever she gets a chance.  P Allen Smith (of PBS fame) handed out all the trophies and prizes to the Junior Show competitors. But of course the camera batteries died right then and I have no photos of the award presentations :(


Check out the trophy ... it's a Spotted Hen ... is that too cute or what?????

Boy Wonder's competition was really fierce and despite a great job and a nail biting tie-breaker, he didn't make it into the top five trophy winners.  His score of 97 out of 100 earned him Sixth Place Intermediate Division honors in the nation.  The judges couldn't offer him really any pointers for improvement and just told him to keep up the good work.  Needless to say he was disappointed, but his loss was cushioned just a bit by his Second Place honors for the Photography Competition and his "major award" (quick ... what movie is that from???) ... a $3 coupon for chicken feed.  He did get a nice plaque, a baseball cap and a handshake from P Allen Smith too.


Purina was a major sponsor for the Junior portion of the entire show.  They provided prizes for the Junior exhibitors and feed for all of the birds at the show.  The Geek read somewhere it came to about 3 tons of feed over the course of four days ...  wowza!  


Boy Wonder was able to purchase two new chickens for his flock.  His birds' bloodline is getting kinda murky so he used some connections he's made over the years and was able to purchase a prize-winning pair from a major breeder.  Who woulda thunk "connections" were needed in the poultry world!  I'm pretty sure this isn't one of the new birds, but they look something like this and I had to include at least one photo of my smallest chicklet in this post.
 

Just had to share one of the breeder's sense of humor.  He does this to draw attention to his sales area.  The birds are really good show birds he dyes somehow.  Asked ... he won't reveal his method :)

Some people got really bent out of shape, but he is a very humane person (and a veterinarian) and ensures this is not harmful to the birds at all.  Once they molt, they'll return to all white Silkies well worth their $50 price tag to a poultry connoisseur I'm told.
  
 
All in all, it was a true "poultry palooza" and we can't wait until next time. The Nationals only happen once every four years, but there are smaller venues going on almost monthly across the country.  I don't know how far we might be willing to travel ... but there may be a road trip in our near future.  I hear there's a big show in Columbus, Ohio next weekend :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Feeling Fall-ish

I am sitting here in a hotel room in beautiful western Pennsylvania with three less than pleasant chicklets. It appears that they are in need of some serious playtime. Being cooped up in a car and hotel rooms for the past week is starting to lose just a tad bit of its charm. Thankfully, there is a park nearby where I can "run 'em" before we pack up for the long ride home this afternoon.


I am enjoying a little high speed internet before we return to the farm and it's far less than stellar internet. I've said it before, but I cannot fathom how we can put a man on the moon and yet I cannot get high speed internet on my ol' farmstead.

As you can see, I took the opportunity to "decorate" my blog for fall. I am not all that pleased with the look, but I don't have time mess with it anymore right now and I'll be changing it soon again for the holidays anyway.  My blog look just seemed too "summery" for me and I wanted to celebrate fall alittle.


Fall is by far my favorite season of the year. It's partly because my birthday and anniversary are in the fall, but it's more than that. I love the colors of the season ... the reds, golds and oranges that only God's paintbrush can master. I love the smells of fall ... the apples and the pumpkin spice .... oh, the pumpkin spice! The cooler temps are right up my alley too! I am a sweater and jeans girl all the way. 

I think one of the things that makes fall so special is it's shortness. Before I know it, it's time for boots and mittens and all I'm left with is sweet memories 'til next year. 

Hope you are enjoying fall wherever you are ... I know I am :)