Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weekend List Update

I know you're all waiting with bated breath to find out how my list looks today. (hee hee) Actually, not too shabby. Here it is as it was Saturday, with comments added in italics.

Finish cleaning barn (suburban guests WILL go there, and it better look nice!)Looks really good, if I do say so myself!)

Finish cleaning IN FRONT OF barn (remember the mess of a few months ago? Dried out, still there. Need to get rid of it so suburban guests don't fall over something and sue!) Not too shabby, there, either. Just need to get the pile of scrap metal (doesn't everyone have one of those?) over to the scrap yard.

Mow, mow, mow. It's become an obsession. (That's never gonna go away)

Lay mulch in new flowerbed. (Again. Where does that stuff go? I put it down, next day, it needs more.) Meh. Put some more down, looks better. Turned to look at other flowerbed. Yuck. Said, "Oh, well. Not everything has to look perfect!")

Refurnish deck. Refurnished (just meant moving back the furniture that we moved to stain the deck) and even had a few minutes to sit and enjoy a cold beverage--or two--there!

Finish horse shelter. (John got up and hour and a half ago to get going on that and is almost done went back to bed.)Sore spot. Again, not everything has to be perfect!

Must coerce cooperation from other members of household. Bwahahaha! Actually, they've been great.

Finish cleaning office, which is Matthew's bedroom for the week. Good thing he likes messy.

Finish hanging pictures removed in painting. Almost done...planning what goes where.

Coordinate music for ceremony. Hopefully today, Phil; they disappeared yesterday!

Find the phone number for Brian the Hawaiian (the oddly named DJ, who does look to be genuinely Hawaiian.) Found it, and he stopped by yesterday to sit and chat. Will be back tomorrow for specific titles for playlist.

Wrap gifts for bride and groom (hopefully before they get here at suppertime and find them stacked on my kitchen table.) Check. It helped that they got tired on the road, stopped to sleep, and didn't get here till Sunday morning!

Fence another pasture (not necessary for wedding, but necessary for steer!) Check, but another one is needed before the end of the week!

Weed, weed, weed. Again, never gonna go away.

Clean garage. (Bwahahahaha!) Surprisingly, check.

Shop for food. Tomorrow, 9am. Although some food is already prepared or marinating.

Make food. Ongoing.

Store food. Becoming an issue.

Eat some food (looking to be likely optional.) Managed this. Actually, managed it well enough that I was up .6 last night at weigh-in. Not too bad, really, but I'm being careful again this week.


See? It can be done. And it only causes a few aches, pains and panic attacks!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh Brave New World

As caught up as I am in wedding prep, I haven't been able to string together today's full MENU, much less two coherent thoughts on a topic of any other importance. But a good friend of mine, The Rebellious Pastor's Wife, has some VERY good thoughts about schooling, and today's society, and why we as a public whine when something isn't FAIR. Check it out.

(While we're on the subject of fair, why is it that things like tennis elbow and muscle knots show up MORE when you need them to disappear for a bit?)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

When our souls are filled with guilt, He offers us forgiveness. When life draws to a close, He assures us of a heavenly home. When humans fail us, He promises to never fail or forsake us. When we have made mistakes, He tells us it's never too late to start over. When life is boring, He gives us new challenges. Many crosses can be added to our life's journey, but Jesus has promised, "Cast all your cares on me, for I care for you." (1Peter5:7)

Rev. Homer Larson

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

-whew- Into the homestretch. Next Saturday morning, I plan to be freaking out about some detail relaxing with some friends, a cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee. In order to do that, it all has to come together over the next 6 days. In order for that to happen, the following need to be done;

Finish cleaning barn (suburban guests WILL go there, and it better look nice!)
Finish cleaning IN FRONT OF barn (remember the mess of a few months ago? Dried out, still there. Need to get rid of it so suburban guests don't fall over something and sue!)
Mow, mow, mow. It's become an obsession.
Lay mulch in new flowerbed. (Again. Where does that stuff go? I put it down, next day, it needs more.)
Refurnish deck.
Finish horse shelter. (John got up and hour and a half ago to get going on that and is almost done went back to bed.)
Must coerce cooperation from other members of household.
Finish cleaning office, which is Matthew's bedroom for the week.
Finish hanging pictures removed in painting.
Coordinate music for ceremony.
Find the phone number for Brian the Hawaiian (the oddly named DJ, who does look to be genuinely Hawaiian.)
Wrap gifts for bride and groom (hopefully before they get here at suppertime and find them stacked on my kitchen table.)
Fence another pasture (not necessary for wedding, but necessary for steer!)
Weed, weed, weed.
Clean garage. (Bwahahahaha!)
Shop for food.
Make food.
Store food.
Eat some food (looking to be likely optional.)

Get the picture? 6 days.

The bride and groom will be arriving this evening. They have been told that they will be enlisted for help. They're willing, but clueless as to what remains to be done. We like it that way; keeps them from detouring to Vegas! While that would be easier for us, we'd like to be there when they say, "I do."

UPDATE: John is working on steer fencing. When we returned from getting him a haircut, we found the steer out of his pen, curled up just outside the gate to the pasture where he used to live. Very happily returned to that pasture, but he needs more grass than is there. Hence, a new pen is on it's way!

Also; barn looking great, deck almost finished, heading down to clean that office!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Names

When I was born, my parents named me. Within 2 weeks, I'm told, they began calling me something else. Well, my mom did. I still have the IRS and my dad to call me by my "real" name.

I promised myself I would never do that to any of my kids. Having to explain to every teacher in my life why the roster said one thing and I was called another brought attention to me that I didn't want. Then I had a Fourth. Our oldest is the Fourth with his name, John. His dad is also John, and I didn't want to call our son Johnny. It seems that, when that happens, it never ends, and you have a 49 year-old man being called Johnny. (Yes, Carol, I love you. But the Johnny thing?) And HIS dad is called Jack. So that was not available. There was even a great-grandpa named John.

So we chose Jay. And he told me the other night that he always had to explain that to his teachers, and didn't appreciate it. I knew I should have homeschooled him, too.

But I guess it isn't all that important. As we get older, we forget names, and the people around us do, too. Here's a semi-humorous video about how one man suggests we handle the issue...



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Credit Card Funeral

Care to join me for one of these?



I'm thinking sometime in July.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm Normal!!

What the heck is she talking about?

Last night was Weight Watchers' night. I haven't reported about my weight loss lately, mostly because there hasn't been any! Through the winter, I was less than enthusiastic about "the plan," although I went through the motions of being on it. Actually, I didn't; I didn't move, I mean. I have now learned that, if I eat properly, I do not gain. BUT, if I do not exercise, I do not lose. This winter and spring, exercise was less than regular, and, while I did not gain, I did not lose.

That changed dramatically when we returned from Basic Training graduation. Getting ready for this wedding has involved so much motion and activity that I've lost 6 1/2 pounds in the last two weeks! I'm eating just as I did before, but painting, building, cleaning, mowing, etc, have sucked the weight right off of me. I'll have to keep this up.

So I am now down 38.6 pounds. When I started this endeavor, I checked with my doctor about where to finish. We talked about Body Mass Index, a measure of body fat that compares your height and weight. When I began, my BMI was 31.2; you are considered obese if your BMI is over 30. Each week, after weigh-in, I would come home and enter my weight at the Weight Watchers' site, where there is a tracker that graphs weight loss. It is fun to watch that little line go down, down, down. Then I would go to this site to calculate my BMI. I was shooting for 24.9, which would put my weight in the "Normal" range.

That happened last night! My BMI is exactly 24.9; hence the title of this blog post. I am finally normal.

Now, whether my friends and family would attach that label to my mental state is a topic for another blog post....

Monday, June 22, 2009

It'll be 90 today, and is already humid. Oh, I love paying ComEd to keep me cool and comfortable! (sarcasm off) Of course, I do have to get out and mow the garden. You read that right. The weeds are taking over to the point that mowing may be my only option.

Things are coming together for this wedding. The cake and photographer were finalized on Friday. Over the weekend, much cleaning, painting and yard installation were done. I'll be calling today to rent tents for the party. More painting and cleaning (yay! I can avoid the heat!) will be done, and I hope to decide a few minor details. Things like what pictures to put back up after painting, that sort of thing.

This process is interesting. You find out quickly what is important and what is not. What is important in a wedding on a budget? Whatever the principals dreamed of--and men dream, too, I'm learning--when they thought of this day and time. These things are vital. It helps that the bride and groom have simple tastes, and have learned to winnow out the fluff. My job has been to facilitate and provide a location. That involves cleaning and organizing. John and I had a talk about "prime realty" this weekend. We both have realized, for a long time, that we have way too much junk taking up way to much space on this place. We have things that take up what we're calling "prime real estate," things we don't necessarily need or want. (Sorry, honey, the horses are not included in that list!) So we're trying to make good decisions about what to keep and what to chuck. And, lastly, remembering what is important and getting rid of what is not includes attitudes and even neuroses. All of us have the instinct or innate desire to make someone outside of ourselves happy. Listening to reactions about this wedding has focused us on those innate desires, and made us realize that they don't need to be satisfied. When the outside person is making unreasonable demands on your emotions, and you realize it, finally, it is freeing to be able to say, "That is not important." Without identifying specific people, I can't get any more specific than that. But I am sure you can apply this to your own life. And I would suggest you do it now, while it is not so very important, rather than waiting, until I did, for a time that it certainly is. It'll make that time that much less complicated.

Verstehe?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"Dads don't realize that they are heroes because this concept has either never been passed on to them by their own father, or they have ignored or forgotten God's Word that mightily reminds them of their powerful role. Either way, they are left ill-equipped to battle the culture that beats up on them and tries to destroy their confidence. There is a Man, however, who forgives and then faithfully encourages every human father to try--over and over again, to be the man God designed him to be. That Man is Jesus Christ."

Linda D. Bartlett

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Farm Update

Hot and humid today; the beginning of our summer. Finally! It's been so cold and wet that very little is growing well in the garden. Well, the strawberries, of course. And the peas were doing great, until one of the goats got loose and had peas for lunch.

We have rat(s) in the chicken house. I planted a small flowerbed in front of said house with bittersweet, marigolds and sweet peas, which were supposed to bloom red, white and blue in time for the 4th. The rats ate them. Unless it was that goat...but my money is on the rats.

Today John is finishing our horse shed out in the east pasture. Just a 3 1/2 sided shed, but they'll be in out of the rain and wind, and that's good enough. Wakiya had never slept anywhere in her 5 years where her head was covered; she spent her 6th birthday waiting out a rain in our cowshed. So they'll be more comfy soon. Wait for fall, when our barn construction is slated to get underway. They won't have stalls for this winter, but next winter, they'll be spoiled, pampered girls.

Speaking of rain, we had some nasty storms yesterday. As I drove Mary to VBS in the morning, I had to pull over for the rain and hail. I usually handle both well when driving, but this was no ordinary storm. The amount of rain and the direction of the wind combined to make the image out of the windshield remind me of being submerged. Then the hail started. Less than the size of a lima bean, it still hit the truck with the sound of gunshot. It was a scary couple of minutes, even if one of the (snotnosed, non-driving) teens later told Mary I was a wimp.

While painting the dining room, I got a call from my brother-in-law telling me that a tornado had been sighted just west of us, heading east. I checked the internet, and found that that storm passed just south of us. Later, I heard that it actually split just west of Marengo, going right around our town to the north and south. Lots of wind and rain, trees down; one right on top of a lovely old barn west of town. But not much else, besides flooding.

In the evening, John took a break from work to have dinner with us in Rockford. Mary and I intended to see a movie right afterward, but the clouds made the two of us nervous. We weren't enchanted at the thought of being inside a theater when a tornado hit. We needn't have worried. Driving home, a torrential downpour hit, making the one in the morning look, well, wimpy. Coming around a curve, we ran into water running over the road, deep and wide. We raised quite the splash. Mary had been trying to get me to do that, ("It's so neat, Mom!")but has since decided that experience was too scary to repeat. The car behind us, thanks, no doubt, to our spray, went into the ditch. We stopped to help, and rescued 4 college-aged kids on a date. The girls informed us (after our noses already had) that our spray didn't affect them as much as the alcohol the guys had been drinking did. Just before the ditch, they had been telling the driver to slow down and put away the beer. We waited until someone came for the girls, who left the guys high and dry (well, sorta,) and another car stopped to pull the guys out. We left them to figure out how to start the car.

The incident gave me the chance to practice the phrases, "What have we learned from this, girls?" and "Next time, don't get into the car, CALL YOUR MOTHER." We all laughed and they said, "Never again."

Today things seem to be drying out. Good thing. We'll need room for the rain that we're expecting tomorrow.....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hey, Betsy!

I'm trying to blog about this. I really am. But I find myself doing so much prep that getting near the computer is about as easy as herding cats!

This week I helped John begin installing our horse shelter. John's dad came up and built the thing, pre-fab home style, and we finally had a dry weekend when we could start putting it up. With the rain this week, we now have an almost 3-sided horse shelter standing in our east pasture. It'll be finished in time for the wedding, I'm sure; we'll be parking cars in that pasture, and we don't want anyone being hit by the wall that would certainly fall on them, should it not be complete. (Murphy's Law, doncha know!)

I was finally able to stain the deck. Between cleaning, staining and drying, I needed 72 dry hours. That has not been available this spring, but I had 71 1/2 between Sunday and Tuesday this week! It had to be good enough.

For two years I've wanted to repaint our kitchen/dining/living room and hall. I started that project Tuesday, as the rain began to fall. Should get finished today. NOAA says we should have rain for the next few days, with some sun this weekend. I'll be doing inside things until then.

No, Keri, we won't let it rain on the 4th of July, regardless of what NOAA says!

In between, we've picked up dresses, (more on that another day!) planted flowerbeds, organized meals, beverages, photography, cake and all manner of paper goods. Matthew reported to Ft. Sill and was told he would have leave; we just don't know how much, yet! Ethan will not be here for the wedding; training soldier medics don't get overnight passes, and no passes further than 50 miles from San Antonio. Since we can't move the wedding there, we'll have to send him pictures. As he would say, "Tear."

That's all my scattered brain will let me think of right now. More to come!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Planning, Planning

We're having a wedding reception here on the Fourth of July. Since bride and groom both live in other states, the planning has fallen to me. I have wonderful friends who have offered much help, so that part is easy. Usually, communicating with the principals is also easy, so figuring out what is important is "no big deal." But I've been surprised along the way.

Online wedding checklists are so silly. Do you know, the first thing they say is, "Remember that this is YOUR wedding; make sure it reflects YOU." The second thing is, "Hire a wedding planner." How is a wedding planner going to plan a wedding that reflects the bride and groom? A professionally planned wedding, in my opinion, is going to be like a public school education; one size fits all, with little room for individuality. (And, yes, I know the can of worms I've opened there, but that's a discussion for another time.) I know that a wedding planned by Mom or Mother-in-law is not going to be perfect, either, but a friend or relative is in a better position to understand the personalities of the bride and groom than a hired pro. So there!

The wedding industry is phenomenal. The upcharge for basics, because they're for a wedding, is ridiculous. Two years ago, we had a 50th anniversary party here for my parents. We rented a tent. Cost? Less than $200. I called about the same tent. For a wedding? Three times that. Stupid, stupid, me, should never have said the "w" word; that's an automatic upcharge! And clothing...the guys are in military dress, so the expense of tuxedos is unnecessary. But dresses for the women has been...enlightening. The costs for a simple frock, just because it's for a wedding...well, you can imagine.

Catering proved silly; a menu much simpler (almost bare-bones) than what they had planned cost twice what it would cost us to make it, for less than half the food. (Yes, a caterer would take some of the pressure off of us, but having the party here puts it back on anyway. So, we are cooking.) Renting a hall added costs upon costs, because ordinary humans can't be trusted to cook food that won't kill off their friends, and must hire licensed professionals to do that. Wine and beer ordered from the local liquor store cannot be trusted, either, and using the bar at the hall puts us into an uncomfortable position. Do we have an open, expensive bar? Or make our guests pay for some of their drinks? How welcoming is that?

So, as hillbilly-ish as it will appear to some, we will have a nice buffet in the yard of our house, with a keg and coolers. There will be dancing and bouquet-tossing, but the kids will get to swing on the swings and play in the pond, if they'd like. There will be farm smells; some guests will have to "get over it." In the end, the bride and groom will not be saddled with ridiculous debts, fun will be had, and, hey, they'll be married. Isn't THAT really the point?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Not-So-Yum-Oh

Oh, no, not the strawberries. They're awesome! I just had some for lunch with some Greek yogurt....Oh. My. Not a drop of sugar or honey in it. Just. Oh. My.

No, Tuesday night I decided to grill chicken. I loaded the grill with charcoal, using some Kingsford Matchlight Mesquite briquets. I didn't really want to use them, but there were a few left in a bag that one of the boys bought at some point when I asked him to go up to town and get me a bag of mesquite chunks. These are nowhere near the same, but he meant well. I never got around to returning them, so decided I'd use some.

It's possible I was on a time crunch and just wanted to get supper on the table. It's possible that I sometimes can't light a grill. Whichever, I put the chicken on too soon. Some of those Matchlight briquets were not yet lit. They lit while cooking the chicken, imparting a not-so-delicate flavor of lighter fluid to the chicken breast I ate. Now, no one else noticed this. But I did. And it made me physically ill. All that evening, and most of yesterday, I had a queasy tummy and felt just awful. I ate chicken noodle soup yesterday.

This morning, though full recovery. And I'm throwing away the rest of those briquets.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yum-Oh!

A few years back, I was picking wonderful strawberries at our local strawberry farm. I asked what variety they were; I was told, "Honeyoe." I bought some plants and put them in the ground.

I put them in the wrong place. While we had some nice strawberries that year, getting water to them was too difficult to continue. They died out. Actually, we built our cowshed right on top of that spot!

About two years ago now, I was flipping through a garden catalog and saw Honeyoe strawberries again. We got a few last year.

This year...




This is this evening's picking. Actually, it's about 4/5 of this evening's picking. Mary has a friend spending a couple of days, and they got a little enthusiastic, picking several berries that weren't at all ripe.

These, though, are red and sweet and....mmmm..... I wish I hadn't recommitted myself to Weight Watchers; they'd be so good on top of some chocolate ice cream!

But they'll be just fine on their own, too. And on waffles at breakfast. And, with the rhubarb also ripe, I predict jam and pie before the weekend is over...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pro-Life Corner, a Day Late!

At the heart of marriage, there is a message about who we are as human beings in relationship to God. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, "This mystery [called marriage] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:32) The Lord is saying to us that marriage is a witness on earth of the victory by Christ that makes us one with Him. As Christ makes us one with Himself through the cross, so marriage makes us one as husband and wife through our faithfulness to each other.

Rev. Dr. Richard C. Eyer

Saturday, June 6, 2009

BCT Down, AIT To Go

Our third son finished his Basic Combat Training this past week. We headed down to Kentucky, along with the Grandmas and Grandpa, plus an uncle. It was quite the adventure. I don't really think you want to hear about our hotel arrangements, but I'm gonna share anyway. Because one Grandma waited until the morning before to decide to come along, we were a hotel room short. Graduations being very popular, there were no more rooms to be had in our hotel, or in the town, for that matter. Another room was found about 10 miles away. Grandma uses a walker, so needed an elevator, or a room on the ground floor. Since Kentucky has apparently not heard of the ADA, and since both rooms that we did have were on the second floor, we ended up splitting up. Grandma, Mary and I ended up at the second hotel. I have never liked this chain; it's the one that keeps the light on for you, you know? Our experiences there have always been awful. This was no exception. The nicest part was the bugs crawling on me all night. Yep, you read that correctly. Thankfully, they were "only" ants, but, really. Bugs.

After sleeping in 15-30 minute stretches during 4 hours of the night, I was not functioning well when we all rejoined each other. Perhaps words were exchanged with my poor husband. It's hard to remember; I hadn't slept much, after all. But we were together, and off we went to the graduation.

For your watching pleasure, then, the platoons march in...

video

Awards were given, oaths were taken and reaffirmed. I think the Soldier's Creed, which has been repeated in unison at every graduation, will always move me. Afterward, we were given clear, concise instructions to "line up at the tables to sign out your soldier. Their names will be called. Don't crowd the main floor. Wait for the names." As the LT finished these instructions, parents began crowding the main floor. We stood toward the back, not wanting to be in the pushing and shoving part of the crowd. We could see Ethan through the sea of heads, just to the left of the DS (drill sergeant) hat.




As we stood there, waiting, we realized that, regardless of what the LT had said, we were NOT supposed to wait for names to be called but, rather, to push to the front of the crowd, find our soldier's name on the master list, sign him out, and THEN the DS would call out his name. Oh....Now we got it. And soon we had him.



Doncha love those glasses? Any wonder they're called BCG's? (Birth Control Glasses) He'll get his own pair back, well, by now.

We ate pizza for lunch,(check one thing off Ethan's list) went to the theater to see Star Trek,(check another thing off Ethan's list) stopped for ice cream, said goodbye to dad and grandparents, who were heading home, and had burgers and shakes for supper (next-to-last thing to check off Ethan's list.) We just needed a good steak to round out the day, but we'll have to save that for when we visit him in San Antonio! Yep, he's in Texas now, sitting in yet another Reception area. Soon, though, he'll join the ranks of those training to be combat medics. We'll head down to visit him, and then head down for another graduation in September.

Another Army career begins...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Liturgical Dancing

Whoa--it's been a busy two weeks. 5 days involved in that trip to Texas. 1 day for cleanup. :) Another 3 days now involved in traveling to Ft. Knox to see Ethan graduate. We're heading out today, with a stop along the way at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.

I just wanted to share one last impression of our former Vicar's wedding. Remember when I talked about his engagement to Bluebonnet? Well, we were there when they tied the knot this past weekend. What a gorgeous wedding! And a fun reception! Chris and some of his friends shared with us some samples of some new-style liturgical dancing that they're teaching at the Seminary these days. I wanted you to see it. Some of my readership is VERY interested in liturgical dancing. Just keeping you up-to-date!

video

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I So Fail at This

It's been a busy time, I admit, but why haven't I blogged? I mean, where is my dedication? I think it's gone the way of sleep around here. I've been averaging 6 hours or less on my daily sleep tally; I don't function well on less than 7. So I suppose I'm lucky that I can still put one foot in front of the other. But a more dedicated person would still be putting out pages of pithy text.

Oh, well. I fall in the "less dedicated" realm, I suppose.

In an attempt to make it up, I'll be posting some photographs and videos over the next couple of days. I'll get back to writing when things settle back to normal.

Bwahahahaha!

Firstly, the cows on the front lawn of the Marriott. Only in Texas...



Lunch, our first day. 25 for lunch. I called while on the way to ask for a table, and was told, "Gee, I wish you'd called sooner. But, come ahead." We got there to find three cars in the parking lot. Hmm...wonder why we needed to call sooner?