Archive for November, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions are comfort.  They are what you can count on.  I have been privileged to be part of several Thanksgiving traditions with my husband’s family for over 14 years now.  Here is an overview of the top 4:

1. The Food List

Each year EVERYONE contributes to the Thanksgiving meal – male, female, old and young.  There is no sitting on the sofa watching football until mom and grandma say “lunch is ready”.

The beauty of everyone helping is that no ONE person has to do everything!

Uncle K with Sous Chef Anastasia

Plus, having everyone work together, makes the kitchen a fun place to be!

2.  Family Photos

This is probably the most griped about and cherished tradition our family has.  Several years ago my mother-in-law insisted that we have pictures taken together.

Here we are in 2006

and 2007


And last but not least 2009!

Thank you Barbara for being so diligent to make sure we capture our gatherings in photos and then always providing prints for everyone to take home.  We truly are grateful!

3. CashFlow

Once everyone has a chance to change out of their “picture-taking clothes” into something more comfortable, then it is time to pull out the games!  There is one game that has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition…CashFlow (from the author of the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”).

It is kind of like Monopoly on steroids.  The object is to move your rat around and around the board until you make enough investments to get out of the “Rat Race” and achieve your “Big Dream”.

It uses real life scenarios and teaches you to take financial risks.  Probably one of the most profound realizations of this game is that it is usually the person who is representing the finances of a “teacher” or a “janitor” who wins the game over those representing the finances of a “doctor” or a “lawyer”.

It seemed like I kept landing on the square called “downsizing” or the one labeled “baby”.  Both were costly squares to land on and seemed all too familiar with our current pursuit of adopting and job resigning!

I think one reason our family is so addicted to this game is that the majority of us own our own businesses.   It is fun to put into practice the success we hope to achieve in our own lives!

(BTW – this is my brother-in-law.  He usually wins this game and he probably should.  He is perhaps the most successful business owner in our family.  We all could certainly learn from him!)

4. The Prayer Request List

Several years ago, my husband gathered everyone together and asked if they had a prayer request.  Thankfully he took the time to record each of the requests and then distributed the list to the group.

The following year, we were amazed at how many referred to the list and made it part of their regular prayer time.  We decided add it to our annual traditions.

This year I found our time of requesting prayers even more significant because instead of only stating new requests, we began to share how many of the previous requests had been answered.  I found my faith grow as each one recounted how God had met his/her needs of the previous years.  This tradition by far is my favorite and I can’t wait to see how many of this year’s requests are answered when we gather next year!


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A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law introduced my kids to her favorite treat of all time…Caramel Apples!

Seeing as they had never eaten a caramel apple off a stick, I knew this was sure to be an adventure.

Anastasia was actually the one I thought would struggle the most since she has lost 8 teeth in the last year and they haven’t all grown back yet.

Amazingly she did pretty well.

And then there is Hailey. I found she didn’t quite understand exactly how to eat one of these sticky treats!  Just look…

Are you noticing her concentration on eating only the caramel?

Appetizing isn’t it! 🙂

I think she eventually took a bite of the apple.

By the way Grandma B., if you are reading this, we would sure love to eat your favorite treat with you again when we come to visit very soon!

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About 2 weeks ago my girls excitedly expressed that their children’s group at church was going to get to eat a meal on the Mayflower.  I knew the girls were excited but I wasn’t aware of their plans.  About 2 days before the event my oldest expressed that everyone was supposed to dress up as an Indian or a pilgrim.  What it actually boiled down to was she found out some of her friends were dressing up and she just HAD to dress up too!

So on a moments notice I had to come up with costumes (Okay I didn’t have to.  I thought it would be a fun challenge.).  First stop…Goodwill!

I just love Goodwill.  There are so many treasures just waiting to be discovered.

I would like to pause for a moment and share my gratitude for the nice friend who anonymously left $20 at the register to pay for our purchases.  It really blessed my kids.  They were amazed that someone was so nice to help us!

I was able to find a long ladies’ shirt and a petite dress to work as the base for 2 pilgrim girl costumes.  Next stop, Hobby Lobby.

Fortunately, HL had their McCall patterns on sale for $0.99.  I was so excited.  Having a pattern would make creating a collar and apron much easier.

Once, I picked up the fabric at Wal-Mart, I headed home because I had about 5 hours to pull this costume together.  There’s nothing like the pressure of a deadline!

I want to pause again and share my gratitude for the training my grandmother gave me in sewing. I didn’t retain everything she tried to teach me, but I did hold on to enough to turn this mess of supplies into a fairly decent costume.

So do you want to see what I came up with?

Not too bad for an afternoon’s work if I do say so myself.

At least my girls seemed pretty proud.

And told me “thank you” and “you are the best mom” many times.  (Those compliments certainly didn’t hurt!)

I finished in time to be able to catch a quick bite of dinner before leaving the house.  I offered to fix the girls something but they were very confident.  “We are eating dinner on the Mayflower.”

I’m sure they had visions of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie.  It was sure to be delicious.  I was proud of their resolve to wait for the meal!

We headed to the church and they began at their regular Wednesday night class.  The children’s pastor had set up a really cool rotation.  They went to one room for story time to hear about the pilgrims life before sailing on the Mayflower, they were able to make a fall beaded necklace and then they headed to see the Indians dance.

A group from Operation Eagle came and shared their beautiful dances with the children.

It was mesmerizing to watch!  Just ask my daughter.  She didn’t even seem to notice her hat impeding the vision of one eye. (She left her hat that way the entire performance.  Fortunately her observant mom was waiting to fix it for her on her way out the door! 🙂

I could have watched them all night.  Actually I did for the most part.  I think I saw all four rotations worth!

Probably the only complaint from the kids was that the music was a little loud, but other than that, I think they were as impressed as I was!

After watching the Native Americans dance, it was finally my girls’ turn to head to their long awaited dinner aboard the Mayflower.  They were starving by now I am sure!

Yes, they had dinner on a moving truck, but wasn’t it a clever idea!

Now the moment of truth…dinner!  As you probably notice in the picture, it might be a little tough to serve a full turkey dinner to a bunch of 7 & 8 year olds sitting on hay bales.  That is until you hear what the menu actually consisted of.  Do you have a guess?

For dinner my daughters were served:  a cube of cheese, a cold biscuit and a piece of beef jerky on a corn husk! I wish I had thought to take a picture.

It was a perfect meal and was in complete agreement with what we had studied that very day about what the pilgrims actually ate during the 66 days aboard the Mayflower.  (I just love object lessons to reinforce home school!)
I  had to chuckle.  I am certain, this was not the meal they had in mind!

As we headed to the car, I asked the girls how the dinner on the Mayflower.  They grumbled and said they didn’t get much!  Oh well, they were good sports and I made sure to give them dinner once they got home.  What a memorable adventure!

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Familiarity sometimes brings the most comfort in life.  Last week we headed on a spontaneous trip to Longview Texas and one thing I could pretty much count on was getting to have petits fours.

Ed with cake

Meet Ed.  He is a huge fan of the sweet little cake called Petit Four.  If it is your birthday and Ed likes you, you get Petits Fours to share with everyone.  According to Ed…”Everybody Loves ‘Em!”

Between our two families, it isn’t unusual for someone to be having a birthday when we are all together.

petit four

During our visit, it wasn’t anyone’s birthday but that didn’t stop Ed.

H with cake

He just came marching in the house singing “Happy Birthday” and “Petits Fours for everyone because everybody loves em!”

Trav with cake

I guess Ed is right…everybody does love them…at least at our house!

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cinnamon rolls

A couple days ago, I visited with my friend Melissa and she shared with me how she had just tried The Pioneer Woman’s homemade cinnamon roll recipe.  I have to admit I was pretty impressed because I had glanced over that recipe and subconsciously decided it was a little more complicated than I wanted to try.   Yet after talking with Melissa and her going on about how easy and wonderful the recipe was, I had this uncontrollable urge to try making them myself!

Saturday night after the kids went to bed, I decided to thumb through the cookbook and re-read the cinnamon roll recipe.  Every good cook knows you should read all the way through a recipe before beginning so you don’t have any unexpected surprises in the process.

This morning (Sunday), I woke up at about 7:30 am with the bright idea that I would make homemade cinnamon rolls before church.  Of course being a good cook, I had read the recipe the night before and it didn’t seem like too impossible of a task.  I will say that I did have a small voice trying to remind me that Sunday morning before church really wasn’t the best time to try out a new bread recipe, but the idea of warm gooey cinnamon rolls seemed to overtake my common sense!

Probably the only thing that seemed to deter me a little was the fact that the recipe called for whole milk and I only had 2%, so I began my journey by calling my mom to make sure she thought the milk substitution I was about to make wouldn’t ruin the whole experience.  She assured me it would be fine, so off I went.

My daughters were so excited, they loved the thought of cinnamon rolls.  They had no idea what was involved in the process.  I was smart enough to let them know that they would take longer than 5 minutes to whip together.

The sheer quantity of ingredients should have given me a clue as to how prepared I should have been for this adventure, but I was so excited and encouraged by Melissa’s recommendation that I overlooked this little fact as well.

I followed the instructions and heated the milk, oil and sugar.  Everything seemed to be going well and then I “reread” the instructions and found a step that I had blocked from my memory after reading through it the night before. After you heat the milk, let it cool, and add the flour, you are supposed to let it rise for 1 hour.  This one little detail was an hour more than I was counting on!  Thankfully, the dear, sweet Pioneer Woman had printed an escape clause. After the dough rises 1 hour and a few more ingredients mixed in, you can either use the dough immediately or you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days.  I was safe!  I wouldn’t have to skip church to keep from wasting so many wonderful ingredients.

I followed the instructions, placed the dough in the refrigerator and headed off to get ready for church.

After church, we were hosting a family for lunch.  Fortunately, I headed toward home before everyone else so I could get lunch started.  When I opened the refrigerator, this is what I found…


I just had to laugh!  The dough was everywhere.  It popped the lid off of my mixing bowl and covered just about everything on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.  I just knew that if PW could see me, she would be laughing too!

Oh well, so I wouldn’t be able to wait 3 days.  At least I bought myself enough time to finish my project after church was over.

Considering I substituted several ingredients (so I could make them RIGHT NOW) and got a few things out of order, they turned out surprisingly well.

rolls and cookbook

Even with all of my funny adventures making these rolls, I highly recommend trying them out just not on a day when you need to walk out the door 2 hours later.  You can find the recipe in The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook which can be purchased at Amazon

loving the rolls

I guarantee they are so good!  They will make your eyes pop out.  Just ask my daughter!


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yellow flower on the vine

This past month I have been on an emotional roller coaster and I am surprised at how exhausted I have become.  Isn’t it amazing that you can simply be sitting with your mind racing and wind up out of breath?!  This is how I have felt.  In my mind I know everything will work out, but this message hasn’t seemed to have reached my tight muscles yet!

Last Sunday, my husband reminded me that he wanted to head to Texas on Monday for a luncheon at his former employment facility.  They were having a 50th anniversary celebration in his department and invited him to come.  It is amazing what lengths that boy will go to for a free lunch!

I knew that he had wanted to go but as crazy as our lives had been I really didn’t believe he would actually follow through.  I was so overwhelmed!  The thought of packing and driving almost 6 hours the next day nearly did me in.  Yet I knew that if he pulled out of that driveway without me and the kids I would be kicking myself for the next two days.  This is a benefit of homeschool right?!  Just jump in the car and go for an adventure.

Let me just say that jumping into the car Monday and arriving in Texas at 9:30 pm at our very dear friends’ home was the best medicine for my exhausted body and mind!  Yes, I stayed tired most of the week but I felt so refreshed in the presence of my friends.  The emotional weight I had been carrying just vanished.


This is my sweet friend Pam (Who incidentally threatened to come get me if I posted pictures of her on my blog.  I figure if it gets her to come see me it is worth it!  Love you Pam! :))

She is such a great flexible friend who gladly accepts a call from 4 crazy Oklahomans 5 hours before they arrive at her house asking to stay for two nights.

Caleb and Tucker with girls

These are Pam’s twin boys.  They are so good to my girls and so gracious to give up their room for our family.  Thanks boys!


And then there is Ed.  My husband fondly refers to him as “Crazy Ed” which is fitting.  He sure knows how to get us laughing!  Thanks Ed for being flexible.  I know the original plan did not include us 3 girls but I am grateful you put off your hunting trip to hang out with us!

Because our trip was so last minute, most of the people we wanted to spend time with had to work.  Thankfully they fit us into their crazy busy schedules.  Sometimes just getting a hug and a smile from a dear friend is all you need.

Anita and girls

This is our sweet friend Ms. Anita.  She was so helpful to me when we first adopted our girls.  She baby-sat frequently and fell head over heels for the girls just as we did.  We love you Ms. Anita!

Na and the girls

This is Na.  She adopted the girls as granddaughters at about the same time we adopted them as daughters.  She is not a relative by blood but she sure is by love!  Thank you Na for always making us feel so special.  We love you!

girls with friend ab

This picture represents my long time friend Tina.  It is so fun to see our daughters playing together, especially since we spent many years praying for children together.  It took along time, but the wait was definitely worth it!

Gail and the girls

And this is my good friend Gail.  We met through our love of decorating and became fast friends.  Gail…I’m really glad you got to see me. 🙂

And last but not least, I was able to see my friend Julie.  I really should have gotten a picture, we were only chatting at Chick-Fil-A for 3 hours with our kids!  Thank you Chick-Fil-A for providing entertainment for our 5 little ones so we could get caught up.  What an incredible time!  Thanks Julie for the encouragement!

It was a whirlwind trip but so wonderful.  I highly recommend being spontaneous and surrounding yourself with wonderful friends.  It does wonders for your outlook on life!

me with the camera


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My desire to meet The Pioneer Woman came almost instantly when I was introduced to her blog last spring.  I became a little on the “addicted” side when it came to checking her posts.  You know it is really bad when you pull up someone’s blog up to 10 times a day hoping to catch something new.  I would talk about her to everyone I knew.  They just needed to discover this wonderful person and her amazing site just as I had!

I am happy to say that I have eased up on my obsession.  I do still really like and respect Ree and all I have learned from her blog but I have been able to cut back on my excessive daily checking of the blog.  I have even been known to skip a day or two ( but that is probably only because whereever I was at the time didn’t have an internet connection) 🙂

Recently Ree posted her Cookbook Tour.  I was so excited!  As soon as I saw the dates when she would be in my area, I put the event on my calendar.  I just knew I would finally have the opportunity to meet her.

The date that seemed to fit my schedule the best was her very first date (October 27, 2009) in Tulsa.  I went ahead and kept the other dates on my calendar just in case.

Everything was set.  My mom agreed to go on this little road trip with me and together we headed toward T-town.

I decided that since we were going to Tulsa that I would make the most of the trip and added one stop before heading to meet The Pioneer Woman.  That one stop caused my mom and I to arrive at the Cookbook Launch right at 7 pm when it started.  I noticed that the parking lot was pretty full but I didn’t figure that it would be too big of a deal, this was a “come and go” event right?

We had to park quite a distance away.  There was one small detail that I forgot to mention.  Earlier that day I had bent over to pick up my daughter’s math book and managed to throw my back out.  I made a quick call to the chiropractor and fortunately he was able to get me in but I was pretty sore and stiff after the appointment.

So with determination and a sore back I made the long journey to the front door of the event.   Before I even got to the door people were leaving saying things like…”They are completely sold out of cookbooks.  Good luck, it is standing room only.”  I wasn’t discouraged.  I wasn’t planning on buying a book because I had one on order and I had traveled a long way so I was willing to tough it out.

My mom and I were able to squeeze in the back door.   Most of what was being said was very hard to hear but I was so excited to be there it didn’t matter.  Fortunately, I am tall and could look over most people’s heads.

Ree had many of her family and friends present.  It was fun to see the pages of her blog come to life.

After a short question and answer session, the time for meeting The Pioneer Woman began!  Several people left out of frustration but not me.  I was thrilled to move up into their space.  I finally got to a place where I could have views like this…

Ree with Mike across the room

Yes, I realize this is not my best photography but it did prove I was there or at least picked up a photo from someone else who was. 🙂

My mom and I are not necessarily the most outgoing, risk taking people.  We spent most of the evening leaning against the back wall enjoying the event.  It didn’t take me long to realize that I would not be able to speak to her in person at this event.  The crowd was so large and the organizers so controlling that it was just better for me to accept this fact and just be happy to be there.  And I was.

I did spot Ree’s good friend Hyacinth across the room and then decided I might be bold enough to introduce myself to her.  Some of my kind TTT readers had forwarded last week’s Tuesday Tidbit to Hyacinth so that she could share it with Ree.  At least I would have something to begin my conversation with her.  After about 20 minutes of my mom coaxing me, I walked over to meet Hyacinth.  I quickly realized why Ree considered her such a good friend.  She was so nice and easy to talk to.  After our chat, my mom and I decided to gather up our free t-shirts and our fun memories to head home.

Right before leaving, I did find one seat toward the front that I could grab this one picture, just in case this would be my last time to see Ree for a while…

Ree at book table

While talking to Hyacinth, she mentioned that I should really consider going to the book signing in Pawhuska on October 31, 2009.  She didn’t expect it to be quite as difficult to visit with Ree.  By the time I got back home I had pretty much decided that I would try again.

I had a very full Saturday, but I was determined to work it out to make the short jaunt to the book signing.  I was greeted that morning that my cookbook had arrived just in time to take it to be signed.  Things were really looking positive, just had to redesign two rooms in a clients home and make a dessert and then I would be free to head to Pawhuska!

This time my daughters would be my road trip buddies.  I put my new Pioneer Woman t-shirt on, finished a handmade pin to wear on my jacket, bathed and dressed my girls and off we went.

I was smart enough to plan on arriving early, just in case a big crowd decided to meet Ree instead of trick-or-treating.

My kids were so supportive.  They had no idea where we were going or who we were meeting but they saw my excitement and were excited for me.

We got a decent place in line and began to wait.  Ree was running a little late.  When she came in she greeted everyone with a big smile and said “Wow, I didn’t think many people would be here.  I thought you all would be trick-or-treating.”  I guess she wasn’t aware of who she was.  Who wants to trick-or-treat if they can meet The Pioneer Woman!

My kids did so well.  Our wait was about an hour but this is how they passed the time…

girls reading the cookbook

They got to read through the cookbook before I did!

The wait really wasn’t bad.  I was able to chat with several friends and make new ones.

Once it was finally my turn I feel like my brain went to mush.  I had been thinking all day long of all sorts of things I might like to say.  She was so nice and we did have a nice conversation…it just went by way too fast!

chatting with PW

I was really glad that my friend asked me to also have her books signed.  This did give me a little more time to chat with her.

She was gracious enough to take a picture with me.picture with PW

What a fun adventure!  A lot of work but definitely worth it.

Thanks PW!  Blessings on the rest of your successful book trip.

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