Thursday, April 29, 2010

Relief Bus Ride

My father-in-law left his home in New Jersey this morning to ride across the country on his Harley.  He is riding to raise money to help feed & clothe the homeless, and it has also been a lifelong dream of his as well.  He is taking photographs and blogging about his experience traveling over 6400 miles to California and back.  Feel free to follow along!

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
to untie the chords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say:  Here am I."
Isaiah 58:6-9

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Behind Her Back

Behind her back is a carefully drawn map.  Sometimes it is used to go on a treasure hunt.  Other times it is used to drive her stuffed animals to the correct movie theater.  And when she really wants to make her sister laugh, she says it is a map to show Colin (Leah's crush) how to get to our house. 

I love watching her create.  With her steady left hand, she draws pictures of our family, all five with smiling faces.  She colors pictures of dinosaurs in her many dino coloring books.  She is careful to add eyelashes and lipstick to each one.  She has learned about shadows and color from her Daddy and is careful to use them.  I think I see a budding artist in her.

When she doesn't have any toys readily available (like when waiting to be seated at a restaurant), her hands become spiders that run and play chase and talk in different silly voices to each other.

She loves to dance, but gets embarrassed when anyone watches too closely.  So I've learned to act like I'm not watching, and to steal long glances when she doesn't think I'm looking. 

She can become just about any animal you ask her to become.  Jaguar?  Puppy? T Rex?  Shark?  She can imitate their sounds and movements with a lot of accuracy and full abandon!

She is always curious about words.  I don't think a day goes by when she doesn't ask me what a word means.  Just today she has asked about the meaning of the words "vocabulary", "almost", and "stampede".  She loves to learn new things.

I love watching her grow and change.  She challenges me to be more curious, creative, and passionate about life.  And she tests my patience too, but I know that she is only making me into a better parent.  Thank you, Hannah, for being exactly who God made you to be.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grandma's Notebook

I am named after my mother's mother.  She was Imogene Rebecca, and I am Emily Rebecca.  I have her blue eyes.  And her gentle way with cats.  I mostly remember her in one of three places: 1.) in the kitchen with her apron on cooking something delicious, 2.) sitting in her recliner with her hands always busy holding a book or working on her latest needlepoint project, and 3.) working fast and furious at her sewing machine.  I too love to cook and read.  Sewing...well, I'm working on that one. 

She had a very specific way of answering her phone by never saying "hello?" like most people do.  In her singsong voice, she would simply pick up the receiver and say, "Mmmmrrrsss. Gant!" as if declaring to whomever was on the other line that she was definitely home.  Once I would say, "Hi, Grandma!" she would instantly recognize it as my voice (even though I was one of her twelve grandchildren).  She was a good listener, and she always made me feel very special. 

Several years ago, she had to move from her home where she was living indepentantly to a retirement village.  One day, my mom, aunt, cousins, and I were at her house helping her clean out her kitchen before she made the move.  We went through her dishes, her pantry, her tupperware, and her cookbooks.  The whole time she was always telling us to "take what we wanted."  I came away from that day with an old yellow spiral notebook packed full of favorite family recipes mostly written down in her own slanted cursive handwriting. 

Inside were recipes for:
*Chicken Curry
*Sweet and Sour Pork
* Beef and Peppers
* Fried Rice
*Chicken Pot Pie
* Nuts and Bolts (her famous snack mix which she always gave out at Christmas)

And her sweet tooth is evident in recipes like:
* Snickerdoodles
* Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
* Raw Apple Cake with Warm Lemon Sauce
* Christmas Cookies (yet another holiday tradition)
* Chiffon Cake
* Aunt Bill's Brown Candy

I think about all the time that it took to handwrite these recipes. I wonder why she included the ones that she did. She also cut out and taped in several recipes from newspapers and magazines. What made those stand out to her? Did she ever make any of them?

I study her handwriting and can remember what her hand looked like as she held a pen. I can remember seeing the same swirly handwriting on all of my birthday cards. The notebook itself says a lot about her: simple, but sturdy. Careful, thoughtful, thorough. Full of ideas, plans, and love.

She passed away four and a half years ago. I still think about her and miss her. I wish she could have met Lucas. I wish I could stop by her house and sit on her couch and tell her about my day. I would love to examine her latest project, and ask her questions about motherhood (she did successfully raise six children!).

But I can take out her notebook, cook a favorite family recipe, and feel connected to her anytime I wish.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Proof of Crawling

                                               One little baby sitting in the evening sun.
                                                              Getting in position.
And he's off !

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our NBA Team

Last year, something historic happened in the world of Oklahoma City sports....we got an NBA team!  I have only developed a love for watching certain sports in my adult years.  As a child, I never (ever) played any kind of sport.  Not softball.  Not soccer.  Nothing.  My extracurricular activities included ballet, piano lessons and going to lots and lots of concerts.  Sport were just not my thing.  I would occationally watch a University of Oklahoma football game with my dad, but that was about it. 

But when I was in college, something in me clicked and I decided that I actually liked watching sports (namely football and basketball).  And until recently, all Oklahoma had to offer was collegiate sports.  And believe me, college football is HUGE in Oklahoma. 

When it was announced that we were getting an NBA team back in 2008, I was actually excited to get behind and support our team.  A few weeks later, the team name was announced.  So it was then that I became an official OKC Thunder fan. I love that our team's theme song is "Thunderstruck" by ACDC.  And I love that we pack out The Ford Center every game to support our guys. Tonight, in only our second year, we are in the NBA playoffs against the LA Lakers.  It is a home game, but it will be tough.  And you know I'll be watching.  When I was fourteen, if I had envisioned my future at age 33, I would have guessed that I would be married with kids.  But I wouldn't have guessed that I would be at home on a Saturday night watching an NBA playoff game.  I guess life is full of surprises!

Thunder UP!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nine Months

On Saturday my baby boy will be nine months old.  Nine months seems like an age milestone.  It sounds so close to twelve months which is then one YEAR.  Oh my.  I'm not going to think about that yet.  For now, I am going to enjoy nine months and all the wonderful thing Lucas is doing right now. 

*Latest Development:  He is crawling!  As of yesterday, he moves slowly, but steadily and with determination.  He is still a little wobbly, but he can get from point A to point B effectively.  He is so proud of himself too because when you cheer him on, he breaks out into the biggest smile.  Which leads me to the next point...

* Changing Smile:  Lucas has two bottom teeth now.  They popped up only a few days apart from each other.  He was pretty fussy when that whole process was taking place, but now that they are in, he loves to wiggle his tongue over them to check them out.  It feels weird to be feeding him and feel the spoon scrape over his new teeth.   I think they just makes his smile even cuter.

* Healthy Appetite:  I think my boy is not going to be a picky eater.  He loves anything we've ever given him so far.  He does have some favorite vegetables, however, and green beans, squash and sweet potatoes top the list.  He has also discovered the world of Cheerios and Fruit Puffs, and is proficient at feeding himself.  When he wants more or another bite, his feet start kicking and his little fingers start wiggling.  Currently, we think we weighs about 20 pounds, but we'll get the official number when we go for his nine month appointment next week.

* Talking:  Lucas loves to babble.  Right now the only sounds (other than screams and squeals) are "da,da,da,da" and "ba,ba,ba,ba."  The other day he woke up from a nap in a grumpy mood (I suspect the teeth were the problem there) and he was just crying away.  I thought I could hear a very pitiful "maa, maa, maa" in there somewhere.  I'm going to assume he was crying out for "Mama!", but it is up for debate. :)

*Nicknames:  I love giving my kids nicknames (hence "Banana" and "Bee"), so we've been calling Lucas a varitey of nicknames over the last nine months to see what would stick.  So far, we call him Mr. Butters most often.  It started out as Butterball, but then got shortened to Butters, and then we added the title "Mr." to it and it just worked. 

*Pets Beware:  Ellie and Tundra have now been reminded of what curious little baby hands can do to their tails!  I think they had blocked out those memories from when the girls were infants.  Lucas loves to see our cats walk by.  And if they happen to be in really close proximity, he just goes nuts squealing and laughing and grunting.  The cats seem curious, but generally unimpressed by him, however.

I am so over the moon for this boy that I can hardly put how I feel into words.  He brings us so much happiness, entertainment, and pride.  And he helps make this family complete.
Mr. Butters on Easter Sunday 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


My mom recently brought over a stack of handkerchiefs for my girls to play with and for me to use.  We are fans of handkerchiefs at our house.  I always have one in my purse because you just never know when you might need to dab your eyes or nose.  They are so much softer than tissues and I love the sentimental value of them as well.  When my mom graduated high school, she and her family lived in Okinawa.  Since she planned to move back to the States to attend college, a bunch of my mom's friends threw her a farewell party at which everyone brought a handkerchief as a going away gift.  That's where the bulk of our hanky collection came from.

My grandmother gave me a beautiful white handkerchief with delicate white embroidery to use on my wedding day nearly eleven years ago.  I wrapped the hanky around the base of my bouquet, and carried it with with me down the aisle.  It was a small, yet very special part of my big day.

Hannah and Leah love handkerchiefs too.  I think they like the dainty, feminine, frilly quality of them.  And for some reason, they go crazy playing with them.  The handkerchiefs become blankets for stuffed animals or a dress for a doll.  And lately Leah has been calling one of her favorite handkerchiefs a ghost.  The ghost hanky follows her around and is "friendly like Casper," according to my Bee.

Do you use handkerchiefs?  Do you have any with sentimental value?

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 1995

I remember the day clearly. 

I was a senior at Putnam City North High School in Oklahoma City. I had just finished up my 1st hour ethnic studies class and was at my locker getting ready to head to psychology.  I could hear the usual "between class" sounds of voices talking and locker doors slamming shut.  But on this day I noticed something differernt:  worried looks on faces, a more subdued sound of whispers, and people standing together in groups.  Something was going on. 

"Did you hear that a bomb went off downtown?"  My friend Meagan asked, bringing me back into reality.

I couldn't wrap my brain around that statement.  Not then.  I still didn't get it yet.  I told my friend no, then grabbed my books and scurried off to my next class.  During that class, people were still whispering about a bomb going off, but no one really knew was what going on yet.  Our teacher kept telling us to be quiet, but I could tell that even he was worried and unsure. It wasn't until I arrived to my 3rd hour class that my teacher finally wheeled out a television and turned on the news.  And I finally got it.  A bomb went off.  A really bad one.  I saw horrible images of a building ripped apart, firemen and EMT first responders were sweating and bloody.  News reporters were on the scene, but were clearly shaken up.  People had died.  Children had died.  Someone had done this on purpose, and I just sat there in shock watching the screen.

School was let out early that day.  Many students had parents who worked in the Alfred P. Murrah building or in the surrounding area and they were visably upset.  I was so thankful that no one I knew worked or was visiting the area, so I just went straight home and sat numb in front of the tv all afternoon until my mom came home from work.  I was so thankful to see her even though I knew she wasn't anywhere near the area.

I can't believe fifteen years has come and gone so quickly.  So many things have happened.  I went to college, got married, had an eight year teaching career, traveled overseas, and had three children!  But April 19, 1995 remains clearly fixed in my memory.  If I close my eyes, I can almost feel that day (much like I can when I remember 9/11). 

For my parents' generation, the question was Where were you when JFK was assassinated?  But for my generation (and especially those of us who lived in Oklahoma at the time), the question is and has been Where were you on April 19, 1995? 

Do you remember that day?  If so, where were you? 

PS.  Just to lighten things want to see a picture of me when I was a senior in high school?  I know you do.  So here you go:

 You're welcome.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Thursday morning started off like any other bright, spring morning.  I woke up, washed my face,got dressed and headed into the kitchen to start making breakfast for my family.  When all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of a pale white form lying helpless in the middle of the backyard.  Do you see him?

It's Prince Charming.  Again.  He seems to fall into a lot of trouble.  Perhaps he is just running with the wrong crowd. 
The poor guy was sprawled out practically naked on the lawn.  The new, soft, green grass created a sort of bed for him in his last hours.  Perhaps a neighborhood rat gnawed off his arm.  We are not sure.  What we do know, however, is that the Prince died of exposure.  It is still pretty chilly at night here in Oklahoma. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Making Pasta

This week I decided to try my hand at making homemade pasta.  I've always wanted to try this, and  I finally gave it a whirl.  The whole experience reminded me of a quote one of my college professors would say often, "Make your mistakes with enthusiasm!" 

The end result was just shy of inedible, but I learned a lot along the way.  And I think there will be a "next time."  Just a time in the unforseen future. 

The pasta making event started off great.  I brought the happiest little sous chef into the kitchen with me.  Looking at that face even now makes me break out into a huge smile. 

Next, I gathered my ingredients:  flour, eggs, salt.  Simple.  Mix the flour and salt together, then make a volcano shaped well on your kitchen counter (or as I will do next time, in a large mixing bowl).

Next, drop your eggs into the hole in the center of your flour volcano.  At this point, I realized that I really should have used a mixing bowl because the eggs broke through the wall of flour and started spilling out onto the counter.  I quickly used my hands to herd the rogue eggs back into the flour, then started mixing like a mad woman.  Soon, I had a round ball of dough.

Then I started the kneading process.  I looked at several different recipes before I started and the kneading time varied quite a bit.  Most recipes suggested 5 to 10 minutes of kneading, but a few said 15 minutes and one even said 20.  I ended up kneading for 5 minutes when I decided that the dough was elastic enough.  This is where I think I went wrong.  Overkneading pasta dough can make it quite rubbery.  Next time I will pay closer attention to this stage of the game.  After kneading for awhile, I let the dough rest for an hour.

And while it rested, I did this......
Tangent:  The laundry never stops around here.  If it does, it is like a train derailment and we end up digging jeans or socks out of the dirty clothes hamper.  And keep in mind I wear a pair of jeans about five times before tossing it into the hamper. 

After an hour, I started to roll out the dough.  I noticed right away that it was super elastic and quite hard to roll out.  I am not a patient dough-roller-outer, so I gave up as soon as I had a fairly thin circle.  It probably could have been thinner and definitely more even.
Then the cutting began.  I had already decided that I didn't care how "pretty" my pasta looked.  I just wanted long strips that sort of resembled spaghetti or linguini or something like that.  I do not have a steady hand, so my strips were pretty uneven.  At this point, I just wanted to be finished, so I didn't care.  I am learning that I need more patience when making something from scratch!
Once all the strips were cut, I laid them out to dry on my make-shift pasta drier:  two wooden spoons balanced between two chairs.  My sweet Hannah decided to stand like Vanna White next to our drying pasta. 
Finally after two more hours, I decided to start cooking.  I made a new recipe from my most recent Real Simple magazine:  Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs.  Here is my lump of pasta waiting to go in some boiling, salted water.  My turkey meatballs were underway as well. 
As a backup plan, I also boiled some store bought linguine.  As you will see later, it's a good thing I did.
During the cooking process, I noticed that the pasta was puffing up way too thick.  But I was still holding out hope that taste would win out over presentation.  After I drained off the water, I took a bite.  And I have to say that it was not good.  The taste wasn't so bad, but the texture was horrible.  I think if you put a blindfold over my eyes, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a rubber band and a piece of my pasta.  Mike agreed.  Oh well.  Thankfully I had made the extra linguine, and the meal actually turned out pretty tasty!

But the pan of homemade pasta I had worked so hard ended up here:
Better luck next time!

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Today's List

I used to dread Mondays. When I was working, my anxiety about Monday would begin Sunday afternoon. It would creep up and whisper things like...You have to get up really early tomorrow. Are you sure you have everything ready for school? The laundry won't get done until next weekend! I would start to stress out and would have a hard time falling asleep Sunday evening. But then Monday would come and it wouldn't be as bad as I had imagined it to be.

Now that I'm not working, I absolutely love Mondays. It is the only day of my week where I have time to just be at home. I drop the girls off at school, run errands if I need to, then head home, put Lucas down for a nap, roll up my sleeves and get started on whatever tasks need to be done. Around noon, my sweet boy and I sit down and have lunch together. Then he plays while I continue to work or bake or fold laundry. Finally, around 2:00, we head off to pick up the girls feeling happy and refreshed. Sometimes I just sit down and read on Mondays. And sometimes I take a nice, long nap. It just depends on the kind of Monday I want to have. I cherish these Mondays because the rest of my week is pretty busy.

Today, on this Monday, I have a list of things to accomplish.
1. Wash the sheets, blankets and quilts on the girls' beds.
2. Make homemade pasta for the first time. (I'm quite excited about this and will take pics as I go.)
3. Make an appointment to get my hair cut and colored. It is way past due.
4. Fold three loads of clothes that I didn't get to over the weekend (oops!).
5. Read. I am currently reading Home, a Memoir by Julie Andrews.

What is on your Monday "to do" list?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaack

Did you read the title of my post in your best Poltergeist voice? If not, I'll give you a minute to do it now.......or at least say it in your head if you're around other people. :)

I am finally back to a normal routine and have climbed out from under the mountain of laundry and other chores that had accumulated all around me. Taking two trips back to back was a lot of fun, but quite exhausting too. In addition, I have two new cameras that I am messing with. I haven't uploaded any photos yet just because I haven't had the time to sit down and figure out how to actually do it! If you don't know already, I am a VERY slow learner when it comes to technology. I think you could compare me to a ninety year old grandma who calls the "internets" some new-fangeled contraption. It's bad. But I am learning. You see, Mike got a new Canon 7D with some fancy, dancy wide angle lens to use for the video he just shot. So he gave me his old Canon Rebel. I swear I look like a monkey just pushing buttons on that thing, so this may take awhile. Mike is giving me photography lessons, but they come in those short, spontaneous moments when our house is actually quiet. The other camera is a new Kodak ....... I got it to take better/easier videos. Tonight my goal is to sit down and figure it all out.

Until then, I will leave you with a few links to check out. First off is the link to view the video Mike made while we were in New Jersey and New York. His parents run a non-profit ministry called New York City Relief. NYCR is a mobile bus outreach that feeds and clothes the homeless in the New York City area, as well as connects them to shelters and drug/alcohol treatment programs. Later this month, Mike's dad is setting out on a coast-to-coast motorcycle ride to raise money for NYCR. Mike directed a video to help promote his cause, and I think he did an awesome job. Check out "Richard's Relief Bus Ride" and feel free to pass on the link!

My wonderful sister-in-law, Rachel, blogged about our trip and posted some GREAT photos over on her blog: The title of her blog post is called "Moments." Check out our huge family photo!

And my other wonderful sister-in-law, Tracy, posted two podcasts where Rachel and I are guests. We talk about parenting and marriage. They were so fun to do together. We laughed a lot while working on these, but in the end, I think they turned out pretty sincere. Go to to see these (if you have some free time; they are nine minutes a piece!)

Have a great day!!