Friday, February 27, 2009

Baby Uncle Tim

For Susanna's birthday, she got a baby doll from her Cubbies group. Noting baby's bald head, she decided that his name would be Baby Uncle Tim (strong family resemblence!). Susanna has a love/hate relationship with Baby Uncle Tim. Sometimes she loves on him and tucks him safely in a blanket (or her evidenced above); other times she hates him and doesn't want him near evidenced by the fact that Baby Uncle Tim is currently thrown behind the downstairs door. And oh yeah; Baby Uncle Tim picks his nose and eats his boogies.

Being the loving sister that I am, I decided to call the REAL Uncle Tim today to tell him about his namesake. He was delightedly honored....until I filled him in on Baby Uncle Tim's dirty little secret. There was silence on the line. You know the kind of silence where you can "hear" shock and disbelief? It was that kind of silence....followed by "I don't know what to say." Before we hung up, he told me to tell Baby Uncle Tim to stop picking his nose.

Well, I relayed the message on to Susanna who in turn informed me that she couldn't tell Baby Uncle Tim because he was sleeping. I told her to wake up up and she told me "I can't. He doesn't want me to." So I told her after he woke up, tell him not to pick his nose and eat his boogies.

"Actually, Mama, an angel told me I was going to have a baby." (hm, here she is being Mama Mary again) "And the angel told me he was going to pick his nose and eat his I decided to call him Baby Uncle Tim." Okay. At least that makes sense to one of us.

And being the loving big sister that I am, I promptly hit redial and again told the REAL Uncle Tim the latest saga....only to once again be met with that silence.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Kids

They don't take after MY side of the family! Please note the inside out shirt. The long johns on the head for a "hat," if you could see the back of the cowboy hat, you'd see a huge hole in it.

Funny thing is, they don't take after Tony's side of the family, either! Where DID these kids come from?????

Susanna's Birthday Present from Uncle Ron's Family

Luke's Birthday Present from Uncle Ron's Family

Beast of Burden....Need I Say More?

Catching Up...

I've taken so many pictures to pass on to you all....and never take the time to do it. Maybe it's because it just takes SOOO long to upload photos with this slow dial up! Anyway, here are some pics of our Christmas decorations around the house, along with the beautiful poinsettia Tony got for me!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Let The Sun Shine In!

I'm sure you're thinking "why would Linda post a picture of such an ugly wall?" Well, this is our basement wall; at least, one of them. We have no windows downstairs. There used to be, from my understanding, a great wall of windows, but for some reason they were cement blocked up...well, all except for two which were boarded up.

Since most of our living is done downstairs, especially in the winter to conserve heat, you can imagine the lack of natural light would eventually wear on a person. This year was especially hard as we've had a very loooong, extremely cold winter. Too cold to take the kids out to play; several huge snow storms; many a day where it was so cold the car wouldn't even start. You know, the kind of day where you peek your head outside and can literally feel your snot freeze inside your nose (sorry, but it's true). In fact, it would get so cold that as one walks outside, there is this horrid squeak as your feet move on the sounds worse than finger nails on a chalk board. Worse than the dentist's drill. Well, maybe not that bad, but I have dentist issues.

Anywho, after telling my beloved how much I was going crazy with the lack of natural light, he must have strongly agreed with me because he did something about it yesterday, while the temperatures soared into the low 30s. (Yeah, it was a literal heat wave here in northwest Minnesota yesterday!) If you look closely at the picture, you'll notice some pin pricks of light peering thru the wall. You may even notice a faint, narrow line of light.

Below is what our wall now looks like. Still some work to be done in finishing it up. Tony's gonna put on some hinges, and we'll be able to crank it open when the weather sky rockets up to the 40s (Karen and Martha, I'm not talking celcius here, okay?), and we'll be able to put in a screen, too.

I'm happy. And not so cranky. Although I can now see all kinds of dirty spots on the walls that weren't visible before. It's ALMOST bad enough where I want the window boarded up again!
Not really.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Supper Tonight

One of our favorite people, Tony's nephew (and mine by default!) Clinton, is leaving Friday for a new job in New Mexico. He'll be working at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch (check it out at, singing and entertaining and getting folks lost on the trail (just kidding!) while doing repairs around the ranch, too. We had Clinton and his family (more of our favorite people), parents Mark and Beth along with siblings Tessa and Steven over for supper. I LOVE when people come for's a chance to try even more new recipes! And I found some more winners!

I started out yesterday by thawing three pounds of our own hormone-free ground beef, yum! Tony wanted to try some burgers with the meat...after it thawed, I mixed in some Watkins meatloaf seasoning, Watkins omlet and souffle seasoning (yeah, I know, but the stuff is GOOD!), some Watkins garlic and onion pepper, and some Watkins season salt (soooo much better than Lawry's!) and squished it all together. I also had a whole burger-bar set up with sauteed onions, raw onions, sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, mayo, ketchup, plain mustard, and horseradish mustard. Yum!

But before seasoning the beef, I used my handy-dandy Kitchen-Aid to make up some dough for home made hamburger buns (didn't have any around and didn't want to run into town). This is a relatively new recipe, but I've made it before and really like it. I found this yummy recipe on Cafe can find it here:

Tony also wanted to try some of the asparagus he (yes, he) froze early last summer and, knowing how mushy asparagus is if it isn't fresh-picked, I decided to go with a casserole. I did an internet search and found a really yummy one here: The grandma of one of my friends from CA always made a wonderful asparagus casserole for family get-togethers (yeah, I was usually invited to Easter and Christmas and Thanksgiving and other celebrations....and always looked forward to GG's asparagus casserole) but she wouldn't give up the recipe. Now THAT was a wonderful casserole, and while this one was great, it didn't measure up quite the same. I'd make it again, though!

I gave Beth the choice of smashed potatoes, french fries, or Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese for a side dish. She was quite eager to try the mac-a-chee, as was I...and it exceeded my expectations! I found the recipe at Domestication in can find it at this link: And yeah, I used the expensive cheese....but it sure was delicious! The white cheddar also added a great touch!

Topping off the meal was a combo recipe for apple pie. I'd found an apple pie recipe in a book years ago that I'd made a few times and it was fantastic! There was also another recipe in the same book that I just incorporated into this one, with great results...I also tweaked it a bit. Since I don't have a link for it, here it is!

Marvelous, Decadent, Awesome Caramel Apple Pie (combine the recipe titles, too!)
1.5 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tbs milk
Combine dry ingredients, stir in wet ingredients, pat into deep dish pie pan

6 cups sliced and peeled apples (I used Haralson, by far the best pie apple around!)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs tapioca (Watkins also has a bit of pudding in theirs...VERY yummy!)
2/3 tsp cinnamon
2/3 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Toss apple slices and lemon juice; mix remaining ingredients and toss with apples. I also added about 1/2 bag of these really cool caramel bits I found in the baking aisle during Christmas. I actually sprinkled these on top of the apples, so as it baked, the caramel would drizzle thru the apples and not just settle on the bottom.

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
mix together until crumbly. Sprinkle on apples. Bake on 425 for 40-45 minutes. Cover with foil the last 10 minutes if getting too brown.

Now, here's where the decadent and caramel and awesome parts come in. After removing from the oven, poke some holes on the top of the pie. Drizzle 1/2 jar of caramel on top of the pie (I used 1/4 bag of the caramel chips and 1/4 jar of caramel), sprinkle with 1 cup chopped pecans (Luke beat these with a mallet...hey, he LOVED "cooking" with Daddy's tools!). Pop back in the still-warm oven (with heat turned off) during supper and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. I topped the pie with whipped cream and did a drizzle of caramel on top of that. I honestly never saw Luke shovel so much into his mouth so fast...and that kid can EAT!

I don't think any of us will be eating much for the next few days! Well, maybe some of that left over macaroni and cheese! And Tony did dip back into the pie before bed time.....

And while I was busy all day (literally) getting supper ready for Clinton's goodbye meal at our house (we're having another party at their house Thursday night), Tony was quite busy with a project of his own. More on that tomorrow....but I will tease you with the clue that I LOVE THIS MAN!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joining the Circus

We got Dumbo from the video store over the weekend for the kids to watch. I warned them there was a scary part, but Luke assured me he was BRAVE and would take care of Susanna (funny how he's usually the scared one and she's the brave one!). I warned them that there would be a fire, but that Dumbo would be okay. "That's okay, Mama. We're brave!" Then a pause. "Will Dumbo's mama be okay?"

I couldn't remember. I didn't think so, but I couldn't remember. And I was honest. I told them I couldn't remember. "That's okay, Mama. We'll be brave."

Dumbo's mama wasn't okay. I had just run to the other room for a few minutes (after consoling a sad, tender-hearted little girl who didn't like the fire), when sobs and a small girl again came rushing to me.

"Mama, Mama, I'm so sad....Dumbo's Mama is lost and I don't like that." We snuggled for a big as I commiserated with her. Then, with a deep, shuddering sob, a tear-streaked little face peered up into mine and said "Mama, I don't want you to ever be an elephant and join the circus, okay?"

Okay, I know you're not supposed to laugh at your kids, especially when disciplining them, catching them doing something REALLY bad (but hilarious), or when they are opening their hearts to you, but come on! "Don't be an elephant and join the circus"???? Really, now!

I didn't laugh.

At least, until she left the room.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More morning conversations

Last night, I set out a pair of jeans for Luke to wear today (okay, I'm behind on laundry, and the jeans he wore yesterday were amazingly still clean); there was a clean t-shirt already on the floor that he'd pulled out of his drawer yesterday... This morning, these were the first words I heard:

No, Susanna, that's MY Watkins shirt!

No, it isn't. It is MINE!

If it says Girl with a G it is yours. If it says Boy with a B, it is mine (the shirt actually says "I'm the next Watkins Man/Woman")


No, it isn't. See, it says m-m-m boy.


Susanna rushes to our room where I'm playing possum. Tony is downstairs already. She comes running over to the bed, stands for about 30 seconds looking at me, then rushes out the room and downstairs. A few minutes later, she stomps back upstairs.


No, Susanna. Your name is S-U-S-A-N-N-A (a moment of Mama pride here....Luke figured out how to spell her name all by himself by sounding it out, double n and all)

IT IS NOT! IT IS S-U-S-I. MAMA TEACHEDED ME! (yeah, I taught her that, figuring a shorter version would be easier to start with.....hmmmm.....)

No, it isn't.

YES, IT IS. AND I'M GETTING ANGRY AT YOU!! I'M GOING TO HEAD BONK YOU RIGHT NOW! NOW GO GET YOUR SHIELD OF FAITH FROM DOWNSTAIRS AND YOUR HELMET OF SALVATION SO IT WON'T HURT SO BAD! (even angry and screaming, she's concerned for his well-being....ah, we're training them up right....)



DON'T spit at me, Susanna. That's not nice. And if you're not going to be my girl, I'm not going to give you, um, something.

LUKE! Well, if you give me something, I will be your, um, I'll be your girl again. (funny how sweetness can fill her voice immediately after an angry scream)

Not if you act like that. You are not being kind.

I'M GETTING ANGRY AT YOU! GO GET YOUR SHIELD OF FAITH! (maybe she was hoping to do some serious damage but still wanted to make sure he was protected...)


I'M GOING DOWNSTAIRS RIGHT NOW!!!! And, as she stomps out the room, she stops and sweetly says, "Luke, I'll be your girl again now."

A few minutes later, Luke came to our room, fully dressed. Not wearing the Watkins shirt. Maybe the kid's already diplomatic enough to realize he doesn't want to tick his sister off every time she looks at him today. And, by the way, they each have their own Watkins shirt....

I commented to him, "You're not wearing your Watkins shirt."

No, Mama. Susanna got mad because she said her name was on it but it wasn't.

I know.

Did you hear us?



Speaking of diplomatic, as we were finishing supper last night and they were trying to get out the door for Awana, Luke kept reminding me he will be my hero and will fight Daddy with his (foam) sword if Daddy does anything mean to me. Not even thinking of it, I yelled "HEY!" to Tony at that point....he was about to each my biscuit...and the butter had just finished melting! Luke grabbed his sword as Tony looked at me and said "Thanks" (and returned my biscuit). Supper was just about finished, and Luke said something about them all going to Awana. I started blinking fast and said, "but who will stay home and protect me from the bad guys?" Wow, you could see that little brain working! He wanted to stay and protect me. But then again, there was Cubbies! And his friends! And Mr. Vocelka, his leader. Finally, he came up with the perfect solution. "The Lord, Mama! He will stay with you!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Tonight as Tony was sewing on the couch (yes, my husband sews, hand stitches; not me....him!), he lost the needle. I vacuumed the area looking for it, hoping little feet (or big feet) wouldn't find it first, and he took the cushions off the sofa, looking all over for it.

Before I go any further, I feel I must explain this is a second-hand sofa that we've had since we've been married. It's comfortable but ugly and very worn. It usually has some kind of covering over it unless the kids are "building" a tent. And considering we have kids that like to jump on things, and we don't have money to buy a new sofa just to have the kids ruin it by jumping and spilling, etc., it'll do for now.

That said, as Tony slid his hand deep into the crevices of the sofa (oh, my stomach is turning as I'm face is puckered up in disgust!), he pulled out what he THOUGHT was a thick piece of string, maybe yarn. Instead....oh yuck! It was the tail of a DEAD MOUSE! (yes, the mouse was attached) We don't know how long it was there. Most likely from the previous owners since we never noticed a dead mouse smell (and having grown up in a's a smell that I recognize)...but there was about a two week period three years ago that we had a minor mouse infestation that was resolved with us laying any kind of trap you could think of all over the basement then leaving for several days to Iowa. Nine dead mice when we returned with no signs of any others...until tonight. Thankfully, there still are no signs of mice co-existing in our house. But....ewwww!!!!! And even more thankfully, he got it out of the house without the kids seeing it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Susanna -- the Birthday Girl

Susanna's day didn't start out too well. She kept insisting she was now five, because Luke had just turned five on his birthday. She wasn't too happy when we kept correcting her. I asked her to show me how many fingers she was the day before, and she showed me three; when we put one more finger up for her to count, she proved she was five by counting one finger twice! She also cried and wailed like crazy during the beginning of Sunday School. When she finally told me what was wrong, it was "I want to go home!" Why? "Because I want to play with all of my toys and eat birthday cake!"

Susanna's favorite part of the evening was opening presents (go figure!). She oohed and aahed over each card before casually tossing each one over her shoulder and ripping open the present... oohing and aahing over each present before casually tossing it over her shoulder and moving on to the next. Her favorite present (not pictured here) is a beeny baby horse from her big brother, bought with his own money. She's also wearing her pink fuzzy shirt from Papa and Precious Grandma; showing off her sparkly jeans and belt from Miss Brittany (yes, they are on backwards...otherwise she couldn't see her sparkly hearts on the pockets); ripping into cards and gifts; and prancing around in her Princess Snow sash, tiara, and wand from Uncle Mark and Aunt Beth (hmmm...wonder who picked that one out?) -- another favorite present. BTW, what do you get a little girl who just cut her own hair and had scissors taken away from her? A book on cutting out animals with two fancy pairs of scissors! (Thanks, Grandma Carter!)

Susanna's birthday -- the cake

Here is Susi and her cake -- along with the notorious blue lake (see Mama's smile in the next post). Also, our "rainbow birthday jello" that I make for each birthday. Notice how Susi is cleaning the frosting off her horse....

Susanna's birthday -- the guests

We had family and a few friends over for Susanna's birthday. Susanna is turning Grandma LaMae into a "boid" that flies all during the day; Grandpa Carter is enjoying the tunes plucked out by Clinton and Tony (Daddy) while Mark and Beth guard the door so no one can escape; Susanna has just turned me into a princess; Grandma at the piece of cake with most of the blue from the lake (Uncle Mark ate the other piece....but I couldn't get him to pose!); Luke is enjoying the food; Brittany is admiring the birthday present she got for Susanna as Aunt Beth laughes with Tessa about something; Daddy is capturing everything on video; Clinton is hiding his newly shaven face; "Uncle" Mark Magnuson is trying to stay awake....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

...but I won't kill Susanna!

Kids crack me up.

I was explaining to the kids today about Valentine's day and how it's a day we can show others how much we love them. I made a special breakfast for our family (nothing shaped like hearts, I'm usually not that fancy in the morning!), and afterwards, Luke asked to be excused. Feeling a bit lazy, I asked if he'd please take my plate to the sink, too. Here's his reply:

Really, Mama? I may?

Yes, Luke. You may (wow, maybe training kids to wait on me hand and foot will be easier than I thought!).

Wow, Mama! Thank you! (seriously, not a trace of sarcasm here). I love taking your plate to the sink. Thank you for asking me! You must love me very much! (seriously, no sarcasm, he was quite sincere!)

You're welcome, Luke, and thank you for taking my plate to the sink.

Mama? I love you so much I will do ANYTHING you ask me!

Hmmmm, anything? (this could be GOOD!)

Yes, Mama. I will do ANYTHING you ask me! Because I love you!

Okay, Luke. Thank you.

But Mama?

Yes, Luke?

I won't do anything bad.

Oh, that's good.

Like, if you ask me to kill Susanna, I won't.


Maybe he should've remembered that before he hit her, HARD, an hour later (but I don't know WHY I hit her, Mama, I just did.)

At least he didn't kill her.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Morning Conversations

I tried posting this various times today, but blogger was acting up.

I love hearing my kids' conversation first thing in the morning. Wondering what is going to be the first thing out of their mouths. Here's how it went today:

Luke: "Good morning, good morning, the sun is shining bright!" (Mar, think Ron bright and early singing "This is the day...")

Luke: I SAID Good morning!

Susanna (very sleepily): Luke, you woke me up!

No, I didn't.

Yes, you did.

I did not.


(at this point, I go downstairs and put the breakfast casserole in the oven before rushing back upstairs to hear what else they're saying)

Susanna: Luke, you are a doctay.

I am not.

Yes, you are. Luke is a doctay.

I am NOT a doctor. And Luke was a disciple, too.

You are a DOCTAY!

No, I'm not. I'm God's little soldier.

No, you aren't.

Yes, I am. Me and daddy are God's little soldiers.

No, you aren't!

Yes, we ARE!

Daddy CAN'T be God's little soldier. He's big.


I love monitors. Five years now, how much longer before they wise up?

The rest of the day wasn't as funny, though. Susanna is going thru a horrible time of disobedience and willfulness, and it's now to the point where she has been told for the next week, if she doesn't obey immediately, she'll get a spanking. No extra warnings (although I find myself asking her "are you obeying or being disobedient?").

Today, she got a spanking even before breakfast. I don't remember why other than it was willful disobedience. As we went out to the steps accompanied by screams of I DON'T WANT A SPANKING!, I informed her to be thankful she still had her overnight on since it wouldn't hurt so bad. Fast forward a few hours later to spanking number 3 (oh, I HATE days like this!). I walked out to the steps, waiting for her to follow, before informing her in a nice soft tone that if she didn't get her tushie out RIGHT NOW, it would be even worse. Then I had to hide my face, bite my lip, and choke back laughter as I saw the reason she was taking so long....she put on a pair of overnights over her pants!

She did make huge strides today. Not only was #3 her last spanking (at least for today), she learned (FINALLY) how to write her name! Well, at least "Susi." Once she got that "S" mastered, she must've written her name at least 20 times. Who cares if the second "S" is backwards?

Yeah, she makes me smile.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Giving Heart

Just when I get frustrated beyond explanation with one of my kids, they go and demonstrate that something, SOMETHING we've been attempting to teach them has been sinking in.

From the time they were first printed up until just a few years ago, my grandma always sent each of her grandkids a $2 bill for their birthday (well, she sent them to my brothers and me... if any of you cousins reading this didn't get them, it just proves that WE WERE HER FAVORITES! Unless you got $5 bills or $10s or $20s or....).

My mom wanted to continue the example her mother set, so last year she started sending each of her grandkids a $2 bill for their birthday (unless my brother is reading this and his kids haven't received any then it just proves that MY KIDS ARE THE FAVORITES!). Susanna is about to turn 4, so she got her birthday card....and $2 bill....on Saturday. Susi is just now starting to get the whole concept of money and saving it and spending and giving....maybe because of the example her older brother has been setting as he divides his hard earned money into his giving bank (some for church, some for saving, some for spending). And I'll tell you (just cuz she can't read yet so this won't spoil the surprise for her), she's getting her own giving bank for her birthday, too!

ANYWAY! Susanna reacted with glee to her $2 AND the gold dollar coins Mom sent to each of them. The coins went into their special collector's teddy bear banks (along with other dollar coins and bicentennial coins), but there was no way she was letting that $2 bill out of her hands. I did convince her that she was not allowed to take it to bed, but she insisted it was NOT going into the bank either. Now, some people may not have much use for $2 bills. They're a bit odd looking and aren't in general circulation. I kinda think they're neat and I actually saved all the ones from my grandma...and trade out any with personal money when we get them at our Market. And that's what I wanted to pass on to my the $2 bills. They're special.

Sunday dawned, we stumbled out of bed, rushed through getting ready for church, and headed out the door. Then I noticed Sus had her $2 bill in her hand. I told her when we got to church she should leave her money in the car so it wouldn't get lost (I was still thinking I'd convince her to put it in a safe place at home). "No, Mama, I'm taking it to give to God." "Yeah, that's nice, honey, but you're going to lose it. Just leave it in the car." She didn't.

Then the offering plate (well, ours is a bag) came around. She looked at me. She looked at her money. I told her to put it in, since she brought it in. She didn't. She passed the bag on to Luke who put in his change. Then she told me, "I want to give it to Pastor Marty myself!" And sure enough, she did. As soon as he was done preaching, my little girl marched towards the front then stopped. She looked around for me, grabbed my hand, then walked the rest of the way up. She held out her $2 bill to Pastor Marty and told him, "here, this is for you to give to God."

Wow. And here all I wanted her to do was store up her treasures on earth.

Maybe I should go dig Luke's $2 bill out of the church part of his giving bank.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Keepin' It Real

There's nothing like the honest of a child. Or children.

As we were getting ready to leave for church today, Luke wanted me to put on his shoes. The kid is five. He has been putting his shoes on (usually the opposite feet) for about four years. And he doesn't want help. He doesn't care if they're on "backwards." Knowing he was competent (somewhat), I told him no, I had to go put on some make up so I wouldn't scare anyone at church. And off I went.

And came back about three minutes later only to be told, "Mama, you look kinda scary. The make up didn't work too good today." AARRGGGHHHH!!!!! Was the kid thinking of telling me that the whole time I was gone? Retaliation????

But then Susi, sweet little Susi, came up to me and gave me a big hug with the reassurance, "Mama, you are BEAUTIFUL!"

But then she continue, "But I'm even more beautiful!" Sigh.

At least Bev, wonderful Bev, told me today during Sunday School, "You look lovely today!" And didn't quite understand why I got such a big smile and thanked her. Repeatedly.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Supper Tonight

I tried some more new recipes tonight...and we didn't even have company! I'm telling you, between Marie's blog (listed on right), Cafe Johnsonia (listed on right), another new site called Domestication in Progress (soon to be listed on right), and Pioneer Woman (soon to be listed on right), along with browsing magazines, I've been finding some great new recipes (and have actually been motivated to make them instead of just collecting them!
Tonight we had Fettucini with Chicken and Mushrooms, broccoli cauliflower casserole (thank goodness my kids love veggies...although neither were that eager to try this dish...thank goodness my hubby loves cauliflower!) (except I used the Watkins Mushroom soup sauce recipe instead of Campbells -- trust me on this one! -- and cornflakes for the topping instead of the stuffing because I didn't have stuffing), and teddy bear rolls using this quick roll recipe
So here is what the kids and I made (notice the belly buttons....and the fact that some bears have one eye or two nostrils or no ears and I don't know WHAT that green is on this teddy's face by its nose, but I ate that roll and it was GOOD!):
Here is what I made:

And while I was slaving away in the kitchen? Just behind me, this is what the kids made: