Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Massacre 2016

Happy Easter!  We truly enjoyed a beautiful day with family--both church family and born-to family.

I celebrated my favorite holiday. I belted out Alleluia till my throat hurt.

I traveled (sans vomit via carsick toddler--both ways!) to my aunt and uncle's home and surprised my parents.

I stuffed my gut with delicious food.

I heard my sons tell their tales about hiking/climbing half way up the mountain ridge behind my aunt's house. Let me tell you, they were good tales with cliffs, streams rivers stepped in forded, and like 25 dead trees knocked down.

Good, good stuff.

Until we returned home.

My husband accidentally knocked down a shelf while carrying in a huge amount of Easter dinner leftovers and trying not to spill them.

Heads rolled.

Parents wept over their babies.

Mothers held tightly to their children.

A full view of the destruction.

And the most disturbing view.

It happens. He was more upset about ruining my collection than I was. I was just glad he wasn't hurt because the carnage was pretty brutal.

The poor children were upset because each one of their births was commemorated by the purchase of a figurine. I just tried to reassure them that it's not the stuff that made their births special, but the other way around!

It should be fun to try to glue them back together. Maybe if I have time later I can post a before/after photo.

Until then, Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column--March 24, 1016

They say that in spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love. But I know that in spring, this 40-year-old’s heart turns to thoughts of fancy seeds.

Because of the short-sleeve weather we had a couple of weeks ago, I did two things:  look for the crocuses under accumulated leaves and pull out the seed catalogs. I drool over those glossy pages that boast thirty-seven kinds of pumpkins and exotic fruits and vegetables I don’t even know how to eat.

I’m not the only one in my house excited over ordering seeds for our garden. Well before I even laid hands on the catalogs, one son had highlighted all of his favorites. One evening I sat rocking the baby while my husband read to me all about vegetable varieties with names like ‘King of the Garden,’ ‘Bull’s Blood,’ and ‘Ukrainian Beauty’.

As we talked I stressed the importance of not adding to our garden. Last year we had a large garden, and it was a lot of work. In addition to seeds we’d saved from the previous year for pumpkins, zucchini, popcorn, and watermelon, we also planted several others including five varieties of beans.

Yes, you read it right. Five kinds of beans! Some were pole beans, some were bush beans, and some were even purple. Some of the seeds we had left over or given to us, but the other three we found in those slickly-worded catalogs that we couldn’t resist.

Yes, this year we were determined not to repeat our mistakes. Who needs that many beans?

Unfortunately, our online shopping cart filled up more quickly than we expected. We allowed the children to help decide, and this year one chose to experiment with ground cherries. Another wanted some pumpkins larger than the ones we’ve 
been growing. We ordered some of our other garden staples--lettuce, radishes and such.

And lastly, the beans. We did narrow it down, but only slightly. I chose a bird egg bean that I loved as a child. One of the children wanted to try wax beans. We all liked the purple green beans from last year. And then my husband couldn’t help adding one pole bean variety called ‘Lazy Wife’.

While the weather and the bugs certainly have a say in how the garden grows, I’m fairly certain of one thing. While this lazy wife’s thoughts might be turned to seeds in March, come late July, I’ll likely be up to my elbows in beans.


Easter’s coming up, and many folks enjoy ham for their holiday dinner. Unlike turkey, ham’s easy to use up in 
leftovers. If you’re looking for a simple way to use up some ham (or the ham bone), this is my all-time favorite bean recipe-- soup beans. Growing up, I loved when Mom served these up with bread, butter, and strawberry freezer jam.

Mom’s Soup Beans

1 lb. bag of navy beans
1 onion, chopped
leftover ham or ham bone

Sort through and rinse beans well. Add beans to a large pot and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Add onion and ham. Cover beans and simmer for several hours until beans are tender. This can also be cooked in a slow-cooker on low for about 4-6 hours. Usually the ham provides enough seasoning and salt, but taste before serving and add salt if necessary.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Did You Think You'd Ever Say. . . ?, No. 5

"Turn the light on so your brother can go back in time!"

Sure, it sounds all weird, but also today we ate cookies that looked chocolate but tasted like bubble gum. My friends, that was beyond weird.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Google is run by the Time Lords!"

Tonight we had lively conversation at the dinner table. By "lively," I mean rambunctious, loud, and ridiculously crazy.

In addition to the recurring argument about infinity, there was also heated debate about whether or not Dr. Who is real.

From the archives: Daleks are real!

(Note: The title of this blog post is an actual quotation from one of the debate participants.)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

_The Hancock News_Column-- March 2, 2016

“I’m having a bad hair day” can mean vastly different things to a woman.

Obviously, the phrase could mean exactly what it sounds like. Maybe somebody’s pillow mashed her hair flat in all the wrong places or gave her a funky new cowlick for the day. Maybe she was running late for work and didn’t have the time to put on the finishing touches. It might be she tried a new hairdresser who made a mess of the cut or the color. Whatever the reason, this friend deserves commiseration and reassurance that it’s not as bad as she thinks because, you know, we’ve all been there-- probably too many times.

On the other hand, “I’m having a bad hair day” could mean the total opposite. Sometimes when a woman says it, she has every hair in perfect place and knows it. This girl annoys us because she’s just fishing for compliments. Go ahead and give her the pleasure of a nice word anyway because, you know, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, we’ve all been that girl before.

And then there’s me. This week I had a bad hair day. For me, that meant somehow between four different math lessons, lunch preparation amongst the dirty breakfast dishes, and approximately seven million diaper changes, I only found two minutes of spare time; I chose the toothbrush over the comb. When I sat down to rock the baby to sleep after lunch, my hair, still braided from the night before, hadn’t even been touched.

But that’s not the worst of my bad hair day. I chased a naked toddler down the hall and wrestled him into diaper and clothes. I brokered multiple peace deals between warring siblings. I may have even rescued a girly-girl from an icky stink bug while carrying the fussy baby in one arm and stirring up Plan C for supper as the now-nearly-naked-again toddler swung Tarzan-like from my messy, slept-in braid. Well, that might be an exaggeration; it all blurred together. However it was, by the time the sun set, not only was my hair still uncombed, but when I looked down, I was still in my pajamas!

It doesn’t happen all the time, but when I decide to have a bad hair day, I seem to put all my effort into it. If you happen to cross the path of a gal like me who’s having a bad hair day of this magnitude, please don’t recoil in disgust or pity. A simple kind smile of understanding is all that is necessary because, you know, at some time or other, whether or not we want to admit it, we’ve all walked in my shoes. 

Make that slippers.


When my friend learned about my family’s trial gluten-free diet, she warned me about shampoo (not on my bad hair day). Evidently, shampoo and other cosmetics often have components with gluten-containing grains or derivatives that can cause problems for people with sensitivities. So, if you suspect that you have food sensitivities, examine both your pantry and your shower. A quick search online can help you identify those multi-syllabic scientific words that might be hiding possible allergens.

All of those long words can be so confusing, but there’s nothing more simple than this recipe for homemade pitas. It is one of my go-to lunches when I have nothing planned in advance because it is quick and the kids gobble it up. Unfortunately, we won’t be enjoying it this month because it packs in the gluten along with its whole-grain goodness.

One word of warning: these pitas are not like the really thin flatbreads you may be used to from the store. They are smaller and fatter and don’t really have a hollow pocket. In fact, I’m not really sure they can be called pitas, but since that’s what my recipe calls them, that’s what I call them.

Quick Pita Pocket Bread

2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. honey
2 cups warm water
1/8 tsp. salt
3 to 4 cups whole-wheat flour (maybe more for kneading)
vegetable oil

Grease a cookie sheet with oil until well greased. Dissolve yeast and honey in water and let stand until bubbly. Add salt and enough flour to make a slightly sticky dough. Knead until smooth. Pinch off 12 equal portions of dough. Oil your hands (repeat when things get too sticky) and roll the dough pieces into balls. Flatten or pat between your palms to make flat circles. Place circles onto greased cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to broil. Place cookie sheet in oven, either on the top rack or next to top rack under heated broiler. When first side is brown, remove cookie sheet, flip breads over, and brown the other side. They brown quickly, so watch carefully. 

Serve hot or cold. Fill with your favorite sandwich filling by slitting in half. My family loves these hot from the oven with cream cheese and bean sprouts, pepperoni and cheese, or peanut butter and jelly.