Family Ties Parenting

Cowgirl Poet

My dh is one of the hard ones to buy for at Christmas. It’s not that he’s a scrooge, but he really does NOT want money spent on him. This year, he told me, “All I want for Christmas is you, babe.” (Haha, not really.) He said, “I’d really like it if you could find the poem ‘That Little Blue Roan’.”

Oh boy. Tall order. You see, he’d heard this old poem at a cowdog demo years ago and enjoyed it so much he’d tried to track it down. I finally got the cowhand on the phone who’d quoted it, but he was flustered and told me it was all in his head and he had no idea of the original author’s name. I asked him if I could pay him to record it on tape, or to write it down, and the answer was no.

That was that.

Well, with the advent of the internet and such, dh brought it up again, and asked me to see if I could find it online.

Ta-da…this time, rather quickly, the elusive poem popped up on my screen. Excitedly, I printed it off and decided I’d pen and ink it for my dh for Christmas. (Remember me saying I’d finished a calligraphy project and matted it?)

But on the Wednesday before Christmas, I came up with an even better idea. Something my creative and hard-to-impress dh would really appreciate! I approached my nine year old and asked her if she’d like to memorize it for her daddy.

Nothing is too good for her daddy. Not even an “epic” sized poem of over 50 lines…on her own she memorized the whole thing in the five days before Christmas morning! 

You can find the whole poem here, if you’re really interested. Here’s the best part, about half, to satisfy your curiosity:

Excerpt from That Little Blue Roan by Bruce Kiskaddon

One day in the foot hills he gaive me a break
He saved me from makin’ a awful mistake,
I was ridin’ along at a slow easy pace,
Takin’ stock of the critters that used in that place,
When I spied a big heifer without any brand.
How the boys ever missed her I don’t onderstand.
Fer none of the stock in that country was wild,
It was like takin’ candy away from a child.

She never knowed jest what I had on my mind
Till I bedded her down on the end of my twine.
I had wropped her toes up in an old higgin’ string,
And was buildin’ a fire to heat up my ring.
I figgered you see I was there all alone
Till I happened to notice that little blue roan.

That hoss he was usin’ his eyes and his ears
And I figgered right now there was somebody near.
He seemed to be watchin’ a bunch of pinon,
And I shore took a hint from that little blue roan.

Instead of my brand, well, I run on another.
I used the same brand that was on the calf’s mother.
I branded her right pulled her up by the tail
With a kick in the rump for to make the brute sail.
I had branded her proper and marked both her ears,
When out of the pinions two cow men appears.

They both turned the critter and got a good look
While I wrote the brand down in my own tally book.
There was nothin to do so they rode up and spoke
And we all three set down fer a sociable smoke.
The one owned the critter I’d happened to brand,
He thanked me of course and we grinned and shook hands
Which he mightn’t have done if he only had known
The warnin’ I got from that little blue roan.”

The fun part of the story was on Christmas morning as she began quoting, hubby could hardly believe it was the right poem. After all, it was so long, how on earth could she have memorized it? As recognition dawned on him, the expression on his face was priceless. (Yes, I got it on videotape!). He’s had her quote it to his dad, his brother, the cowboys at work…I can’t imagine any gift he would have enjoyed more. 

And you should see my nine year old work the room with her eyes as she spins this ole cowhand’s tale. Speechifyin’ comes naturally to such a lil’ gal.

My cowgirl poet.


Family Ties Health

Unique Gifts

Fun topic! Unique gifts… myindoing.jpg

It comes to mind because I was absolutely floored when dh brought in his finished shop project and gave it to the girls the other night. I knew he was working on something, but I was thinking a little more along the lines of…a doll house?

Seems he’s been putting his head together with the surfin’ cowboy (co-worker who takes his vacations surfing in sunny CA) . Dh made each girl their own “Indo Board” for Christmas. Here’s what says about Indo boards:

“Indo Boards are the perfect all around balance trainers for any sport where balance would be key, such as surfing, skateboarding, wakeboarding – in fact, any athlete would benefit greatly from Indoing!

“The Original Indo Board consists of a wooden board and a roller. The board is shaped like an oval, with clear light grip on top (which can be used both bare foot or with skate shoes) and wood catches on the bottom tip and tail to keep the board from flying out from under you if you let it roll too far.”indoboarding.jpg

These boards are SO much fun! Hubby built them out of plywood and painted them with liquid rubber for a great grip. In no time at all, my little prairie girls are going to morph into surfer girls! (Modest ones, of course!) ;O) Best of all, Surfin’ Cowboy gave Dh a DVD instructional video, the one that came with his original Indo board. Hubby had us all sit down to watch it before he surprised us by bringing in the boards.

Got a unique gift to share?

Family Ties Parenting

The After-Christmas Peace

Well, we didn’t get snow this Christmas, but it was COLD at least! Too cold for my fil to get the go-kart out for rides. And no snow for his homemade tobaggan. Yes, we have some fun times. Like sledding or skiing down snow covered country roads behind zipping four-wheelers. Yee-HAW!

But four different festivities in 3 days takes its toll. The children are angels for the first two acts, but by the end of Act IV, wipe-out! We came home last night, planning on a low key evening of eating/relaxing on the hide-a-bed together while watching The Fox and The Hound 2, but our gift-riddled 6 and 9 year old got into such an argument over what movie to watch (yes, we shouldn’t have given them a choice, but who knew there’d be a problem? These are perfect kids!) ;O) that Christmas day ended on a sour note. Why is it that receiving zillions of gifts has such a “me-greedy” affect on children?  There is wisdom in limiting the fluff of Christmas. Surely I’m not the only one who’s noticed that you could stop at two or three gifts per child (TOTAL)and they’d be happier than if you gave them 10 apiece? There’s nothing worse than a child with a case of the “gimmes”.

As a pre-teen, I remember being thrilled to get a book by a favorite author. Something to look forward to reading on Christmas break! The more we parents give in to the lure of giving the best gifts, the more we lose that sense of Christmas magic.

Today is peaceful. I sit here typing to you in a quiet living room. My children are all enjoying this gift of a day fully spent at home. Free time to try out new toys and games. My new cranberry peppermint Yankee candle glows and casts shadows across my workspace.

A breather.

Tomorrow we girls go out to my dh’s workplace with Cinnabuns and a Chocolate Cream Roll. It’s a kind of farewell to the cowboys out there, because dh is moving on. He’s been offered a job for a Christian rancher at our church, a job that pays a bit more annually, yet gives him half-days during the summer which will allow him time to get back into the saddle making business. We’re just reeling from God’s goodness in this new opportunity.

Then Thursday, we’re taking snack foods for forty out to a teen youth retreat that our church is hosting. Same thing twice on Friday.

Sunday evening the plans have us at dh’s little sister’s house for games, eats and movies. A New Year’s Eve tradition.

Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas “break”.

Cooking and Food Family Ties

Blueberry Buckle for Christmas Breakfast

bbr.jpgTwas the night before Christmas… ;O)

I think I’m ready, how about you? I love to have everything done the night before so we can laze around and enjoy being together Christmas morning. Dh gets tomorrow off! To you city folks, that may seem like a given, but agricultural folks work round the clock…cattle need fed and doctored even on Christmas!

Our Christmas breakfast tradition always includes a warm wedge of streusal-topped Blueberry Buckle, served with cream.

Here’s the recipe just for you!

Blueberry Buckle


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened (go real butter!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)


  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (being a former Texan, I prefer pecans!)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 inch round pan, or a 10-inch tube pan. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat sugar and 1/4 cup margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Spread 2/3 of batter into greased and floured pan; top with blueberries. Carefully spread with remaining batter.

In medium bowl, combine 1/3 cup flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Using pastry blender or fork, cut in 1/4 cup margarine until mixture is crumbly. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 55-65 minutes or until cake is deep golden brown. Cool ten minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm with cream, if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

I have all my dry ingredients mixed up so assembling it in the morning will take less than 5 minutes. It will be half baked by the time the munchkins tumble forth, smelling the house up all Christmasey! By the time we unstuff the stockings it will be ready to enjoy…

Wonder what Dh is up to…he said he had a project in the shop to finish up…he’s taking forever…

Merry Christmas to you all! And to you all…a good night!

What’s a favorite tradition at your house on this special day?

Christianity Family Ties

A Christmas Version of 1 Corinthians 13

My mil emailed this to me:


If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at
mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to
give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

A warm “Thank You!” to IFA Michigan Regional Representative, Rev. John Booko, for passing along the above; author unknown.

Family Ties


Christmas is a good time for memories. My grandparents are all gone on to Heaven, so memories are all I have. Memories and the “things” they gave me to remember them by. Aren’t those things special? A keepsake teacup, or dish. Paintings…

The other night, the auger that feeds corn into our corn stove froze up, causing the bracket that supports the auger’s motor to break. My dh was outside till 2 am, in the cold, fixing it. Thankfully, he’s able to fix things like that and keep us warm and cozy. The house was pretty cold though, having gone all day with the stove broken. I lay inside on the couch waiting up for him, wrapped in a bulky afghan that my paternal grandma crocheted for me when I was seven years old. My semi-hazy thoughts in the Christmas light-lit living room centered on her beautiful gnarled hands as they determinedly crocheted this blanket for me, her last grandchild. Her arthritis had to have been killing her, but she’d made one for all her other grandkids, and she pushed through to complete one for me. I even got to pick the colors…a predominately white background, with the big formed flowers in red, leaves green. It’s perfect for Christmas. During December and January, I bring it out of the hope chest and drape it over the back of my recliner…dear Grandma love.

Also, with my dishwasher on the fritz, I’ve been handwashing my little heart out…Grandma’s way. Once my dish drainer is full (I have a huge farm sink, porcelain with two sides, and I keep my dish drainer on the righthand side) I heat water to boiling in my teapot and pour it over all the drying dishes. Grandma’s old-timey way of making sure the germs burned off… :O)

I spent more time with this grandma. She wasn’t the “play with you” kind, but she was full of godliness and good work ethic. I remember raking leaves with her once, and wishing I hadn’t offered. I was pretty young, and the rake was leaving huge blisters on my palms. Grandma told me, “A job worth beginning is a job worth finishing.” Sigh. So true, and a lesson that has stayed with me in many ways.

As I write, Anne of Green Gables is playing in the background. Is there any better movie for memories? Sections of it still have tears welling up in my eyes…I was a bit older than my oldest when that series featuring the beautiful Megan Follows aired on PBS. What fun we had gathering around the TV evenings to watch it. Mom and Dad were super picky, and rightly so, about TV watching, so it’s one of my only memories of parent-approved fare for the whole family.

Well, I think we’re ready for Christmas. Did a last gingerbread house yesterday, dipped a bag full of pretzels in almond bark, finished a calligraphy project and survived cutting a mat for it (haven’t lost my touch, oh yeah. just kidding, I hated matboard cutting in high school art class!), supervised my six year old’s brainchild of making western coasters and laminating them, and wrapped the last of the packages. Two year old’s quilted stocking is sewn (yep, took me 2 years!)…and we even had time for two 100 piece puzzles, and a Christmas drawing contest, me and the four girlies on the couch.

What are your favorite memories of Christmas?

Christianity Culture

Got a Blueprint?

Dh and I were watching a Jack Johnson dvd that the “surfin’ cowboy” loaned us last week. One of Jack’s songs, “Symbol In My Driveway” really provoked my attention. I wasn’t sure of the exact lyrics so I looked them up online here

The lines that arrested me:

“I’ve got a lightbulb full of anger and I can switch it on and off

 Situations that can be so bright I can’t believe how pathetic we can be

I’ve got a perfect set of blueprints, I’m gonna build somebody else

Might cost a little more than money but what’s man without his wealth?”

Whew. The song has a whole different attack, but the lines above are what I’m exploring.

“Gonna build somebody else”… Trying in the flesh, aching to be good, to do good…all on our own apart from Christ.

Filthy rags. Immaturity. Reliance on self, on everyone around us, on money for happiness and getting angry when we or someone else lets us down once again. When the money buying our happiness runs out…and the chips fall, what then of that perfect blueprint?

There is only one perfect blueprint, it’s in the Bible.

So what’s your blueprint? Are you trying to build a castle in the sand?

Or one on the rock?

Cooking and Food Family Ties

Chocolate Cream Roll

Leticia asked me to post this recipe, and I’m finally getting around to it. Since seeing it on the November 1979 cover of Family Circle Magazine, it’s been a birthday request every year by me and my sisters, and subsequently, by several of our children!

Can’t touch this masterpiece of rich chocolate with hints of coffee in each layer!


Grease a 15x10x1 inch jelly roll pan (rectangular cookie sheet with sides). Spray the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom but not the sides with wax paper. I press the paper into the bottom of the pan so the cooking spray will cover the bottom of the wax paper completely. Then I lift the wax paper and turn it over, placing it again in the pan. Voila! The wax paper is oiled also.


Into a bowl sift:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Beat 3 eggs in a medium bowl with electric mixer until thick and creamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating constantly until the mixture is very thick. Stir in 1/3 cup cold brewed coffee and 1 tsp vanilla.

Fold in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake in a moderate oven…375 degrees F…for 12 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly pressed.

Loosen cake around edges of the pan with a knife. Invert the pan onto a clean dishtowel (not terry) dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off wax paper.

Trim 1/4 inch from each of the 4 edges for easier rolling. Starting at the short end, roll up cake and towel together. Place sealed side down on wire rack. Cool completely.

When cake is cool, unroll carefully. Spread evenly with coffee cream filling (recipe follows). To start rerolling, lift cake with end of towel and roll carefully. Place the rolled cake seam side down on serving dish.

Spread outside of roll evenly with chocolate satin frosting (recipe follows).

Sprinkle with shaved chocolate if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Dissolve 2 tsp instant coffee powder in 1/2 cup heavy cream. Add 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. Beat with electric mixer until stiff.


Melt 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate pieces and 1/4 cup strong-brewed coffee in the top of a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water. (If you don’t have a double boiler, do what I do, use a metal or glass bowl nested in a larger pan. You just don’t want the bowl resting on the bottom of the pan–it needs to “float” a bit in the water).

In a small mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat 1 cup softened butter. Stir in cooled chocolate mixture.

Bring 3/4 cup of light corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. Continue heating about 2 minutes or until syrup spins a 2 inch thread. (this simply means when stirring with a wooden spoon, lift it dripping up into the air and when a 2 inch drip of corn syrup hangs down without dropping into the pot, you’re ready!) ;O)

Beat 4 egg YOLKS until very thick. Gradually add corn syrup, mixing constantly. (This part can be tricky, trying to keep the syrup from solidifying in the yolks). Cool.

Combine cooled chocolate and egg mixtures. Beat well. Chill if necessary until thick enough to spread.

Shave chocolate on top if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Christianity Family Ties

Slow to Speak

How often does your mouth get you into trouble? Most of us do pretty well…outside the house…but how many struggle with keeping Christ-like with our immediate family?

James 1:19 says,

“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.”

What a practical scripture! But putting it into practice, in the heat of the moment? Yipes (as my six year old would say!)

I claim to be a pretty laid-back individual, but I’ve been known to lose it with my dear children. It’s usually when I’m running late and I think they’re not hopping fast enough. It’s the pits too, I hate raising my voice…would shudder and cringe if it was caught on videotape! (Who is that woman shrilling like a fishwife! Not me!?) But still I do it. And I apologize, a lot.

Further in the same passage, in James 1:26, we’re warned,

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” 

What is your “religion” behind closed doors? None of us want to emulate a “worthless” religion to our children. Breaking the habit on our own is impossible, but the good news is that though we are weak, He is strong.

So back to applying the James 1:19 verse to all our relationships…how we react to husbands/wives, sisters/brothers, parents and children…

“Be swift to hear.” Cultivate a sensitivity to God’s presence throughout the day. Put Him first, so you can hear Him speak to your heart. Be alert for the “hot spots” and immediately confess your weakness and ask for help!

“Slow to speak.” What headaches we’d save ourselves if we’d just keep our thoughts to ourselves and pray instead, amen? I’m already sinning when I’m impatient, chances are, anything that comes out of my mouth when I’m in that sinful state of mind is going to be hurtful to those around me. Why is it so much easier to keep the rein tight on our tongue when in the presence of church friends…to smile sweetly and come across as the best mommy in the universe? Hm. I’m trying to nip this sin in the bud when it surfaces in impatience, and a big way in doing so is determining to say nothing or say something appreciative. Such as: “Thank you, ‘daughter’, you’re such a good help when I’m running late!”

“Slow to anger.” Anger is right up there with the sin of adultery and murder, folks. And I don’t believe that one sin is worse than another, they just have different earthly consequences. This is really a biggie with most of us, whether we blame it on “German roots” or not. ;O) Make it a matter of prayer, “Lord, today, help me to be slow to anger. Remind me to be slow to anger.”

Whatever habit you have that is hurtful in the relationships around you, it can be broken with God’s help. Remember the same power that raised Christ from the dead is there for God’s people!

Break those bad habits by getting familiar with and listening for the voice of God.

Isaiah 30:21,

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

Family Ties

The Rest is Tinsel

“We expect too much at Christmas. It’s got to be magical. It’s got to go right. Feasting. Fun. The perfect present. All that anticipation. Take it easy. Love’s the thing. The rest is tinsel.” Pam Brown

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

“God must have said, ‘I know what I’ll do, I’ll send my love right down there where they are. And I’ll send it as a tiny baby, so they’ll have to touch it, and they’ll have to hold it close.'” Gloria Gaither

“The most vivid memories of Christmases past are usually not of gifts given or received, but of the spirit of love, the special warmth of Christmas worship, the cherished little habits of the home, the results of others acting in the spirit of Christ.” Lois Rand