Category Archives: Family Ties

Cowboy Up or Go Sit in the Truck

Great quote, isn’t it? I sure don’t want to spend my life ‘sitting in the truck’, missing out because I’m not willing to get my hands dirty. And getting your hands dirty is part of friendship, marriage, parenting, Christianity. It takes work.

It’s hard. It’s rewarding. It’s even fun with the right attitude.

Come over to Weekend Kindness this morning and read about how my girls and I had to ‘cowboy up’ for hubby a week ago. Literally.

Then come back here and share an unforgettable time when you had to ‘cowboy up’…

Have a great day!

Children: Our Mirrors

Mary here: MIntheGap kindly agreed to guest post here today! I’ve missed you all here in blogland, but between church, family, homeschooling and now jury duty my life is running away with me…but enough about me, read on!

Children: Our Mirrors

One of the most humbling things about being a parent that I have found was how much my children are me. My oldest child is like me in so many ways:

  • He has the physical build I had when I was young (my wife feeds me too well now!)
  • He has the same set of interests that I had (I was always the indoors child)
  • He has the same type of memory– that can tell you where something is even though you don’t believe he could possibly remember.
  • He tends to want to be the third parent– what first child doesn’t?

What’s humbling is the times where you can see yourself in your children. I’m not simply talking about the word choices (I mean, what child knows truly what a chrysalis is– to them, it’s a Christmas) or their tastes, I’m talking about they react to the world– what they deem important.

I’m blessed that my children like to hear Bible stories, they like to memorize Scripture. My wife told me that the other day they were out in the yard enacting a scene from David and Goliath. The trouble was that they were using real stones!

And then there are the times that they reflect the poor character traits that we have. How we respond to frustration they do as well. If we raise our voices, so do they. They reflect and parrot us because they look up to us. We’re their world to them– especially when they are young.

How’s your reflection in the “mirror?” Do you like what you see?

MInTheGap
MInTheGap has been commenting on the culture at large and current events from his blog since 2004. He enjoys spending time with his family, writing, and being active in his local church.

Recipes for Hubby’s Birthday Supper

Today is my husband’s 36th birthday! He’s the strong silent type, preferring no fanfare, so we’ll be having a quiet family supper tonight, with foods he requested on the menu.

Here’s what’s for dinner:

Southwest Rollups

~I’ve been fixing these since I first found the recipe in a 1997 issue of Taste of Home magazine–ten years of yummy! This is one of dh’s favorite “chicken” recipes…remember he’s a rancher (GO BEEF!) at heart!

  • 2 TB salsa
  • 1-2 jalepeno peppers, seeded
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TB chopped onion
  • 1 (16 oz) can refried beans
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 TB chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cubed chicken, or a bit more
  • 1 (4 oz) cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 10-12 flour tortillas (6 inches)
  • sour cream and additional salsa, optional

Cooking instructions: Place the first eight ingredients and 1/2 cup cheese in a food processor; blend until smooth. (I don’t own a food processor, so I just chop everything fine) Spread evenly over tortillas. Roll up and place seam side down in a greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; let stand until cheese melts. Serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.

Pan de Elote (corn loaf)

~This is such a family favorite, we have it annually at our big family get-togethers; however, it’s souffle-like, so it’s not a great choice for potlucks unless you can prepare and bake it on location. And no opening the oven door to peek while cooking…

  • 1 (16 oz) can cream style corn
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (4oz) can green chilies with seeds rinsed out, drained (optional)
  • 1 cup biscuit mix
  • 2 TB melted butter
  • 1/2 lb Monterrey jack cheese, grated

Combine corn, biscuit mix, egg, butter and milk. Mix well. Turn half of batter into 8x8x2 inch greased glass baking dish.

Cover with chilies and cheese. Spread with remaining batter.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

Frog-eye Salad

~This is my big sister’s recipe, an extremely luscious fruit salad…hubby adores it, and 7 year old made it just for him! (Read entire recipe before fixing)

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 TB flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

In small saucepan mix sugar, flour and salt. Stir in pineapple juice and egg. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until thickened.* Add lemon juice. Set aside and cool.

  • 1 cup Acini Di Pepe (available in small bags in pasta section of grocery store)
  • 2 cans (11 oz each) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 can (20 oz) chunk pineapple, drained (reserve 2/3 cup juice for first part of recipe)**
  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 carton (12 oz) dairy whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries

Cook Acini Di Pepe according to package directions. Combine cooked mixture with Acini Di Pepe. Cover, place in refrigerator until chilled. Combine remaining ingredients, stir lightly. Chill at least one hour before serving 8-10.

*Note, cook juice mixture just until thick as over that egg white coagulates. (and be forewarned, it doesn’t thicken much)

**If you don’t like pineapple chunks, you can opt for pineapple tidbits, or eliminate this and just use two cans crushed pineapple.

And we’re having Peaches and Cream Pie and oldest daughter’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (secret recipe) for dessert.

Now, back to class…but before I go…humor me, what’s for supper at your house tonight and/OR what dishes would be on your birthday menu?

Happy Kids

Funny, as we walked through the wind and misting on-again-off-again rain at the state fair on Monday, trying to find a carnival ride for which oldest wasn’t too TALL and youngest wasn’t too SHORT …almost impossible by the way…I realized how nice it was to not have the kids all squabbling about “fairness”.

The carousel always draws us first, and usually dh hops on to stand beside toddler (3 years old) since she’s always been under the height requirement to ride it alone. My equilibrium gets off for a week if I get motion sick. I’m weird that way. I avoid carnival rides. I buy stock in Dramamine for road trips.

So we’re standing in line at the merry-go-round, hoping our youngest is tall enough, and come to find out, she isn’t. Her Daddy, off drooling over stock trailers, had  plans to meet up with us under the ferris wheel at 3 p.m. We normally don’t split up at the fair, but the threatening weather kinda forced us to make the most of the time we had…

So here we are, a mom and three woe-begone girls, chilled and wet and wanting to eek just a little bit of fun out of the experience.

“You guys can ride it without her, we’ll find something her size after this.” I told my older girls, helping toddler back into the double jogging stroller and velcroing the rain shield down over her.

They look at me like I’m crazy. 7 year old especially. “Mom! We’re not going to ride the first ride without her!”

Okay. So we finally find a motorcycle one that 7 & 3 year old can ride together with 9 year old’s urging. Poor 9 year old, she’s tall for her age. Too tall for a kiddie carnival!

But the best part for me was that 3 year old was happy either way. She LOVED the rides, but she accepted the fact that she wasn’t big enough for all of them. To the point of waving wildly at her sisters as they zoomed through the air on baby elephants. A really cool ride in the eyes of a toddler, yet she was ecstatic just to wave and holler hello at them each time they made it around to our side.

Today at lunch toddler brought up the carnival motorcycles and how much she wanted to ride one again.

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” I agreed.

She grinned, her spoonful of rice suspended mid-air. “I’m gonna be big enough next year. Next I’ll be four and I’ll be taller to ride, won’t I?”

Yes, you will, babe and on the off chance that you aren’t, we’ll make sure daddy’s there to save the day!

The No TV/Movies Challenge

Friday night’s “last movie bash” was fun. We rented the Mickey-Donald-Goofy version of Three Musketeers (b/c 9 yo just read the classic and loved it!), and to our surprise, we stumbled upon our favorite Little Rascal’s episode, A Lad and His Lamp. We girls made homemade pizza–each daughter made her own individual pan pizzas, and then we sliced up a big watermelon and pulled out the sleeper sofa. For dessert: root beer floats.

At 9 P.M., with the children tucked in bed, dh and I unplugged the TV/VCR and the DVD player and moved the whole set-up to our bedroom where it’s now residing atop hubby’s chest of drawers. This keeps it out of sight and mind (less tempting) and made for a fun “hotel-like” movie time for us! (Yes, we had one last fling ourselves with Sandra Bullock and the movie Premonition)

Saturday morning began dh’s labor day weekend, and while he and I slept in (thanks to all the bonus features on our DVD keeping us up past midnight!) our nine year old daughter fixed scrambled eggs and set the table with donuts and milk…

She also put together a “fun box” for toddler, complete with Leap Pad, books, and games.

Pretty cool to have everyone on board like that!

Also a nice side to having absconded with the TV is that my living room furniture doesn’t have to be centered around the black box. I moved all the furniture into a more cozy setting…a recliner at each corner of our limestone fireplace with our couch facing both and coffee table in between. And most exciting, my friend Deborah recently brought the rest of her furniture and belongings from New York and gave me a 9’x12′ rectangular area rug…perfect for this conversational seating arrangement! Our living room is around 15’x23′, with the fireplace on a long north-facing wall.

Out with the old…

Normally on Saturday mornings, we tape CBS’s Madeline and Horseland shows and watch them during lunchtime. Here’s where making the old habit unavailable really opens life up to more fulfilling options. We took our lawn chairs out to a shady spot in the yard (deck is in full sun at noon) and had leftovers. One thing led to another and the girls started a running contest. Over and over they ran around the house with daddy timing them on his stopwatch. They progressed to making obstacle courses in and around the yard and outbuildings, and again raced them according to dad’s stopwatch. For at least an hour they were vigorously exercising…and enjoying themselves way more than if they’d been inside watching silly cartoons!

Sunday and we’re still going strong except that 3 year old is in the middle of a full-blown cold. Dh stayed home from church with her…and they kept the TV off, doing puzzles and reading instead. Deep down, I’m wondering if the whole crowd gets this feverish-head cold junk, will I have the fortitude to resist the comfort-glaze of movieland?

At least I can honestly say not a one of us has missed the flashing lights. Toddler hasn’t even questioned the absent TV!

We’ll see how we’re doing this time tomorrow!

Unplugging the Drug

Sometimes, my 3 year old has ADHD-like tendencies.

And she watches too many movies.

Thus the TV/Movie Challenge: Giving both up for one week.

We don’t have cable, and living in the country, our reception is pretty limited. So the TV part of the challenge will be easy. It’s the movie part that I’m dreading. But at least I have the promise of having done this before and reaped the benefits. That’s huge.

Did you ever get that restless and bored feeling as a child once the television had been turned off? Growing up, we rarely had ours on. Occasional reruns of The Brady Bunch or Little House on the Prairie helped sick days fly by faster, but for the most part we entertained ourselves. 3 yo’s gotten to repeating a phrase that saddens me immensely:

“What can I do, Mama? What can I do?”

She’s forgotten how to keep herself busy. That whole “productive” road to happiness thing? Mm-hm.

When my oldest was around 4 years old, we took AFR’s annual challenge and went without TV/movies for a month, and couldn’t believe what a difference it made. My then 4 year old really didn’t spend scads of time in front of the tube, but when it wasn’t available she went from keeping her door shut against her toddler sister (keep her out, mommy!) to welcoming her in to play for hours. Who would’ve thought? Suffice it to say, we left the TV off for over a year after that month was officially up.

I wish we’d never turned it back on.

I’m not excited about losing my #1 babysitter for 3 year old, but I’m ashamed for letting it get to this point. I have no choice. I told hubby the TV has to go, and thankfully he’s backing me up. See, we both remember the idyllic days when our household wasn’t “under the influence”.

Want to join me in the “TV and Movie Challenge”? My family is beginning tonight, after one last movie fling. A week sounds really doable to me, how about you?

Hopefully a week will turn into a month, etc. I’ll keep you updated on the highs and lows! Pray for us…

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Family Camp

We walked by the light of the moon to mail a few letters tonight, and it was the first time all day I’d registered the lingering soreness in my legs…reminding me of all the walking and running we did at Family Camp. It’s a bigger wonder that my stomach isn’t protesting after the incredible eating all weekend.

The path to our cabin, barely wide enough for a four-wheeler, was a steep hike. Charming walk though, carved out and canopied around by a wilderness of trees. The cabins were built into the hillside, some up high almost on stilts, others, like ours, snugged right next to the path with a nice miniature deck at the door. Our cabin had six bunk beds in it, comfortable mattresses and air conditioning! Pretty nice bathroom facilities could be found just a short walk back down the path.

Beautiful weather (for the most part!), rustic rock-lined lodges, shady evergreens in all the right places, a swimming pool, tournaments and games to keep the whole family happy…it was a great time of fellowship andknifethrowing.jpg competition and reconnecting with church family.

Our family’s personal favorites included the knife throwing tournament, and the devotion/song times which we had each morning and evening. The guitar accompanied praise and worship songs, and the treat of having a rodeo chaplain (fancy word for cowboy preacher?) give all our devotionals gave a solid backdrop for all the fun and games.

megan.jpgBut the highlight of the whole weekend was watching my husband and our nine year old daughter participate in a high elements challenge. Harnessed up and in the hands of the belayer’s ropes, they climbed a 25-30′ (height estimate by dh) telephone pole, gingerly stepped up on top and inched around to face a trapeze, to which they would leap out in faith. Seven people from our church attempted this, the youngest, my daughter. She loves a challenge. Nine yo scrambled up the pole, turned around and in response to the belayer’s request that she “talk to him, and tell him when she was going to jump” she said, with nervous laughter in her voice,

“I think I’ll count to fifteen.”

The other jumpers had all jumped on the count of three. So my little comedian wanted everyone to think she needed extra time. Before the belayer was ready, she belted out:

“Five, Ten, Fifteen!” and jumped.

She’s still alive. The belayer braced himself just in time, when he realized she was counting by fives, but he told us later that if she’d been an adult he might not have been ready enough to support the increased weight. She was too short to get anywhere near the trapeze, but my dh successfully grabbed it and did a chin-up. He won the dubious title of being the first ever to climb and jump with cowboy boots on.

richmegan.jpgThen he and nine year old clambered up the rock-climbing panels together, one on each side and hugged each other at the top. Such an awesome sight. I was one proud woman, and so grateful to be there.

Our youth leaders organized this whole event, and pulled it off with panache. We had a survivor-like-family-edition obstacle course which involved zig-zagging through pylons, grabbing a marble and sling-shooting it at a hanging pop can, rolling a big tube a certain distance, and last, grabbing an alphabet letter off a folding chair before tapping the hand of the next team member in the relay. Once everyone went through, we put our letters together to form a phrase that had been used in the previous night’s devotions.

We had sword drills, a lady’s tea party, played a competitive evening’s worth of family kickball–in which even several grandparents participated, went night swimming, roasted marshmallows and made s’mores– and this after tournaments all day long Saturday: checkers, washers, badminton, knife-throwing, volleyball, basketball…

A better time couldn’t have been had. And one or two families made it all possible with their hard work and planning. In the words of Ray Boltz:

Thank you for giving to the Lord. I’m so glad you gave! 🙂

Click on the picture to enlarge it if desired!

Celebrating Fall with Apple Cider Tea

One of my favorite homemaking encouragers is author and speaker Emilie Barnes. I have her small flip-calendar, If Teacups Could Talk, on a corner shelf above and to the left of my kitchen sink. I simply love the thing, having referred to it now for almost ten years!

Inside it, I found this gem of a recipe. If my current book ever gets into print, you may recognize this “apple cider tea” as a specialty of my heroine’s pastor’s wife. I think it’s a great fall tradition. And I know that August isn’t technically fall, but with school about to start, it feels like fall to me. And this year the orchard we usually visit lost all their fruit to the late spring frost. So we’ll have to celebrate fall differently.

I’m thinking this will be a good start.

Apple Cider Tea

  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (2-in. pieces)
  • 2 tea bags
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • thin lemon slices (optional)

Put cider, cloves, and cinnamon in a medium-sized, stainless-steel pot. Cover and heat on medium. When the mixture is hot and steaming, add the tea bags and infuse until the apple cider takes on a light tea taste (approximately 5 minutes). Remove the tea bags and dissolve the sugar in the mixture. Strain the liquid into glass cups or mugs. A transparent slice of lemon may be floated on the top of each cup. Serves 5-6.

Oatmeal Spice Bars

Thirteen years ago and still newlyweds, dh and I traveled to Oklahoma City to attend the World Quarterhorse Show. Little did I know back then, *wink*, that all our future “vacations” would have in some way or another to do with horses or dogs, whether it was selling/buying stock or participating in cattledog trials…that is, until this summer’s camping trip to South Dakota. *Smile* Now dh agrees with me, there really is more than the destination when planning a road trip!

Anyway, while at this World Quarterhorse Show, dh gave in to temptation and frequented a cookie booth in the vendor area. He came back to the stands with this huge thick oatmeal cookie.

(He goes weak in the knees for oatmeal cookies.)

When we got home, I determined if he was going to go weak in the knees for cookies, they better be *my* cookies.

I never could get my oatmeal cookies as thick as the ones he bought in Oklahoma City, so I tweaked a couple recipes and made the whole batch into bars.

These Oatmeal Spice Bars have become the absolute favorite, he’ll-do-anything-for-me, treat! And my 9 yo has perfected the process now, so he gets twice as many as ever before. I’ve been meaning to share it here for a long time. I hope you try them, ‘specially if you have a man in the house that loves old-fashioned oatmeal cookies.

Oatmeal Spice Bars

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TB milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 ½ cups quick or old-fashioned oats

Heat oven to 375*F. Beat margarine and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Stir in oats. Mix well. Press dough into bottom of ungreased 9×13” baking pan.

Bake about 35-40 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool and cut into bars, about 3 dozen yield.

A Grandparent’s Legacy

GenerationsGrandparents are so important!

Recently my mom and dad had my oldest daughter and two other nieces of mine over to spend two days and one night. Mom taught the girls how to crochet, they had Bible studies, played games and put together rather elaborate family history “trees”. My dad also took the girls on a long traipse through the farmland and pastures, pointing out places of significance, such as the spot where he proposed to my mom…where the long, lowing of a nearby cow interrupted their engagement kiss.

Have you ever stopped to think about the ones in your past who perhaps were praying for you every day of your life? My grandparents did this, and now my parents do also. What’s more, I found out several years ago that my uncle and aunt also pray for each of us by name on a daily basis.

What a gift, people! Are we even doing this for our own children to any great lengths each day? Prayer impacts lives, changes hearts, influences national direction.

Please share something in comments that your parents or grandparents have invested in you or your children that is having lasting impact. These things need to be praised, and so often our generation accepts them as our due. I think many times the older generations are left feeling expendable when we should be making them feel cherished. Busy schedules shouldn’t dictate to the point of missing out on these precious last years of our parents’ and grandparents’ lives.

As for me, thank you Dad and Mom for the legacy you’ve given me, and continue to give my children. There are no words to express my heart. I love you very much!