Friday, October 30, 2009


I am blessed in so many ways, it really is sort of ridiculous.  Sometimes blessings are obvious and sometimes blessings sneak up on you.  This one snuck up on me, but I am so thankful to have two women in my life that started out more formally as "co-mentors" but now are friends of my heart. I am blessed.

Back in our VP3 class last fall, we were threatened encouraged by Pastor Jon to find a mentor.  The whole group collectively squirmed in their seats, I think.  A mentor? You mean we might have to think of someone and then we might have to call them up and ask them to mentor us? And what if we want them to mentor us but they don't really want to be our mentor? Oh so uncomfortable for our conservative, just a bit straight laced, please don't ask me to step outside the box group.  So I procrastinated until the last minute prayerfully considered my options and asked one of the gals in the group if she had a mentor yet (like this, Idon'tknowifyouhavefoundanyoneyetbutwouldyoubemymentor).  She said she and another gal in the group were going to start meeting, but they wouldn't be opposed to another person joining them. Phew. 

Our first meeting was definitely a "God-Thing".  We were blown away by how similar some of the things we were dealing with in our lives were and how it all seemed so connected.  I think there were a few tears, lots of laughing and just a general feeling that "normal" comes in many different shades and we were still somewhere on the spectrum.

We are a bit of an oddly grouped trio on the surface.  One of us is very driven, highly organized, and coordinates all of our meetings.  Date. Time. E-mail confirmation. That sort of thing. But under all that flows great integrity and compassion. (Hint, hint: That would not be me.) One of us is passionate in all things.  She is a giver.  She will go the extra mile and then some and when she loves she loves all the way.  One of us is a frazzled, overweight, scatterbrain who often interjects innapropriate comments into the conversation and has issues with self esteem. (cough, cough).

Our VP3 class is long finished, but yet we continue to meet every other week or so, barring sick kids or work obligations.  As I was backing the van out of the driveway after our last meeting, I teared up a bit.  I am so grateful for these women in my life.  I am so thankful that God obviously has a better (and often more organized) plan than I do.  I hope you have some of these friends of the heart in your life too.

Blessed, I tell you, completely blessed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


About 2 miles north of town there is a farmplace that during the fall season, gets transformed into Pumpkinland.  It is something we look forward to doing all together as a family. We had our doubts as to if we would make it this year, between the Captain's lousy schedule and the endless days of rain, little bit of snow, and cold weather we have been having.

There is always lots to do. Petting zoo, corn maze, baked goods, crafts, and then, of course, the search for the perfect carvable pumpkin.  The girls love it.   Having grown up on a farm, I sort of tend to forget about the appeal the farm animals have for the girls. They could have fed those goats all day.  And would have been real happy about it.

Howdy there, Mr. Goat.  Did you know that goats have really weird looking eyeballs?  Their pupils are rectangular. I did not know.  Some farm girl I am.

Hello Mrs. Duck.  You wanna play a game of Duck, Duck, Goose?  Bet you never heard that one before.

We did observe a period of silence for the poor frozen pumpkins.  Isn't that a shame?  Cold, hard green pumpkins.  But some vegetation survived the killing frost.

Not completely sure what this is - some sort of cabbage maybe - but think it is beautiful.

And a great time was had by all.  We have to take our family time when we can get it in this household.  Some times things go better than others.  But this one was just about as close to perfect as you can get.  It's a tradition. Can't wait until next year. Stay tuned for Pumkin Carving 101.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Underworld

In the world of underbites there is this.....

He just can't help it and it adds to all his "Harry" charm.

And then there's this....

Holy Mother of Turdbeast....someone go get that llama a toothbrush!

Monday, October 26, 2009


There are days when I wish I were my husband.  When I could just hop in an airplane, take in the views and stay in a hotel room all by myself.  Then I remember I really don't like to fly anymore (unless it is Dramamine assisted) or recall my mother's warning to never actually USE the hotel comforter, and I'm just fine staying home.  But, after a long week of sick girls and a feeling a little "off" myself , the thought had some appeal.

Generally, I just don't think I could do what the Captain does (besides the obvious fact that I can't fly a plane). Most things about flying in general really sort of bug me.  I don't like the waits, don't like the turbulance, don't like being in that small space with all those other people, and don't  like the weird stomach flipping on take off and landing - dramamine assisted or not.

See what I mean? How would you like to be at the end of that conga line? No thanks. Give me a sick child anyday.

But then, you get a little of this, and I start to reconsider...

Quick! Name that View! (above: Finger Lake region in New York, below, BHO-land.)

And the fact is you don't have to be looking at anything in particular to appreciate the view...


"Watch out, Honey....that's a big one!" Can't seem to control that back seat driver impulse.

"Go West, young Captain, there's a plane in them thar clouds!"  Somebody stop me.

Yes, if there is anything I envy the Captain, it's his office views.  For a boy who drew pictures of himself waving out of the cockpit window from the Captain's seat of a big jet, it's a dream come true.

My dream is doing pretty well too.

Now, put down that camera and fly the plane, would ya? Please?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PBS Nerd

I'll admit it.  I watch more than an occasional show on PBS.  If that makes me a nerd, so be it.  As a mom, I have always appreciated their children's programming, but as I have gotten older (and wiser) I really enjoy their adult programming as well.  Princess Maren always gives me a well practiced eye roll as soon as Curious George is over, " the adult shows are on now, Mom" like that should preclude them to change their programming.

Last winter they had the whole Jane Austen series on Sunday nights and it was must see TV - well at least for me- for about 6 weeks running.  No commercials.  Perfect.  Plus living where we do we can get the Iowa signal and the South Dakota signal but they are about an hour apart, so if I missed something, I could just watch that part an hour later.

So the other night I had it on while the girls were doing some catch-up homework.  They had both been sick this week, and a classical concert came on and this guy was conducting.

Basically, I just had it on for background noise, but Gustovo Dudamel is pretty darn fun to watch.  Definitely not your stereotypical conductor material.  The hair, the dimples, the hands, the expressions. Go check him out on YouTube when you get a chance.  When I think conductor, I think of Lawerence Welk. He is definitely not Lawerence Welk. In a good way. Then I open up the Captain's Newsweek and there he is again in a little article near the back of the magazine.  All the good stuff is in the back of Newsweek if you ever want to know.

I am not a huge fan of classical music, but can appreciate watching, and in this case listening to, someone who absolutely loves what they do.  It's pretty fun. Gotta love that PBS.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Don't usually pay much attention to commercials, unless of course, my dear niece Madison happens to be in one, or unless they are really clever like this.  I always think our handles and the water spout in our bathtub look like a face.  Then while I am soaking I turn the handles with my feet to change the expression.   I also have that when I see a crescent moon.  I always pick out two stars to play the eyes.  Must be some sort of weird conditioning from trying to get smiley faces from my first grade teacher in elementary school.  Red smiley faces everywhere.  Also love the music on this one.  Any stringed instrument played so very well is such comfort to a mother whose daughter is learning to play the viola.

Here's my sweet niece in her Allstate commercial.  That's another commercial I won't miss. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Perfect Pairings

Ephesians 1:16 (ESV)

16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers...

Check out more Perfect Pairings right here, and add your own.  Leave a comment for Baloney and we'll hop on over and check it out.  Blessings on your day!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Sweet Marissa is worried.  She is worried that Halloween may be cancelled this year due to the fact that we had our first snowfall this morning and it has just been ridiculously cold - even for Iowa- this early in October.  For a girl who likes her "treats" this would be cause for a period of great loss and mourning.

I have reaasured her that we've done Halloween in the snow before, we can do it again.  I am thinking this Halloween may be cancelled because I just can't get the creative juices flowing to get their costumes lined up.  Must be frozen, curse this Iowa weather. I have a thing about not spending a bunch of money on costumes and just like the homemade touch - to some extent. Somehow the inspiration and energy for this undertaking is on the low side this year.

This year, Sweet Marissa wants to be a pickle.  Don't know. Don't ask.  Just know she is fairly adamant about being a pickle.  Princess Maren wants to be a Bumble Bee. She saw this in the PB Kids magazine.  Not shelling out that kind of money for a Halloween costume.  So, I am hoping to be inspired from costumes past.  Here goes.

2004 Maren's cow would moo if you squeezed her belly.  So cute.  Marissa and I had more fun doing the make-up for her clown get-up.  She laughed her little rainbow wig off when she saw it.  Got her costume off e-bay and Maren's was a Marissa hand me down. Cheap year.

2005 Marissa was such a cute lil' pumpkin'.  This was the most work I have ever done on a Halloween costume.  Sewed it myself.  Talk about blind ambition.  I am not a seamstress.  Should have paid a little more attention in Home Ec (sp?) instead of hiding my latest novel in my text book. 

I was so busy with Marissa's costume that Maren got a little neglected - but thought the end result was pretty clever and easy and cheap.  She was one cute little lady bug. Oh, can I kiss the curve of that sweet cheek and smell that soft toddler hair.  Just one more time?

2006 I laugh when I look at this next group of pictures.  This is a classic example of a mother instructing her children to do something and they do it and then mom realizes she was giving very poor directions. I was trying to get them to each do something that their character would do.  So, I yelled out (meaning just Maren) "Cheer" - they did.

"No, no, no... pray!" (I assume angels do a little of that) meaning Maren cheer and Marissa pray - and they did that too.

And then finally Mom got her act together and everything went just right.  Love this shot. Hate that brown panelling.  That's a whole other post.

2008 - yep missed a year.  I accidently deleted 2007's Halloween pics - along with my older brother's wedding shots.  Not a good computer day.  This was taken at my parents house.  Wasn't that burning bush shrub beautiful?  And burning? No such color there this year. Sigh. 

SOOOOO, any pickle and bumble bee suggestions?  Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How Chili is Like Marriage

Last Saturday the weather here seemed to demand some good old homemade beef chili. Sounded good to me too. This is my mom's tried and true recipe with a few tweaks of my own.  The Captain says it's pretty darn good.  I think he's a bit biased and he just wants me to keep cooking for him.  I have his number. (It's the same as mine. ) HA!

So I'm going all PW on ya and gonna post some pictures.  Do you know it is really hard to get appetizing shots of chili?

Start with some good lean ground beef.  Have to say we got some good beef up here in NW Iowa.  Chop you an onion.  Cry and wipe your nose and have your daughters laugh at you while you attempt this task.  The Captain was mowing the lawn or else I would have asked him to do this job.  He likes to chop things. And then I laugh at him for crying over the onions.

Add some chili powder - about one good tablespoon if you're from Iowa.  Two if you're from Oklahoma. About 1 and 1/2 if you are an Iowan married to an Oklahoman. Throw is some minced garlic too.  Can ya smell it? MMMMM.

Now here's where my tweak comes in.  I add a can of Rotel tomaters to the mix.  My mom strictly adheres to the whole tomatoes and a can of tomato soup and runs it all through the blender. My mom also uses homegrown tomatoes she cans herself. My mother finds canning and ironing therapeutic. This gene was not passed on to her only daughter.  (Note to self: when you ask The Captain to buy whole tomatoes - write it down for him - but still be very grateful he went to the store for you.)

But if there's one thing Mom and I can agree on, it's this lady here.  We both think Mrs. Grimes makes the best chili beans.

And personally, I'm okay with the blender.  It gives everything a nice consisitency. Don't run your beans through the blender though - ewww.

So once you have your ground beef browned, the onions soft, and the garlic and chili powder in satifactory proportions to all parties involved, you add your tomato mixture and some dear sweet Mrs. Grimes - juice and all - and let it simmer.

Now, if you're from Iowa and have any sort of Dutch heritage, you pull out the cinnamon rolls.  Later that night I posted on FB that we had eaten chili and cinnamon rolls and my goodness, I don't think I ever got so many responses to one of my status posts.  Some questioned the wisdom of the chili and cinnamon roll combination.  All I know is it was one of my favorite hot lunch meals in elementary school.  And Pillsbury cinnamon rolls could never hold a candle to Marge's homemade caramel rolls.  And she would always serve them up with a smile.

Now if you are from Oklahoma, you pull out the Fritos and the freshly shredded cheese.  Some of the FB responses were ALL about singing the praises of Frito chili pie, yesiree bob. 

 The IA Pilot Wife version.

The OK Airline Captain version.  Note the jalapenos, tabasco, and of course the Bud Light.

So in chili, as in marriage, it's all about the compromise.  The Captain can't resist just one cinnamon roll. I usually have my Fritos on the side. And it's all good.

Mom's Chili Recipe

2 pounds ground beef
1 chopped onion
chopped garlic to taste
1 and 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 large can whole tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 large can Mrs. Grimes chili beans (do not drain)

Brown ground beef  and onion over medium heat. Drain grease if necessary.  Add garlic and chili powder. In blender, mix whole tomatoes, tomato soup and Rotel tomatoes. When beef is completely browned, add tomato mixture and chili beans.  Let simmer over low heat for about one hour. Serve up with your favorite sides - whatever those may be.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sit. Stay. Good Doggies.

I did a crazy thing. I told Shelly "yes" after some hemmin' and hawin' and maybe a little internal whining. I am an official volunteer in Potter's Workshop, the 3rd-5th grade kids program at our church. We counted 55 sweaty little energetic bodies in attendance this past week. Take a big whiff.... ahh yes, eau de pre-adolescents.

I'll back up a bit. Shelly actually wondered if the Captain would help and he said, "YES" and then looked at his schedule and flew off to Washington DC. Every Wednesday night in October. So our "shared" responsibility seems to have been deferred to the IAPilotWife. See, last year we had our VP3 class on Wednesday nights and as wonderful as it was, I was just ready to chill on Wednesday nights. Secretly though, I think the Captain knows what's good for me. Don't tell him I said that.

Because secretly, I love it! More than I thought I would. Although, sometimes I am a bit overwhelmed with the crowd control of my little group. Any suggestions on how to keep 15 kids quiet and paying attention for 30 minutes? Duct tape? Doses of Benadryl doled out at the door? I am seriously thinking about buying a dog clicker and throwing them liver treats if they could only roll-over be quiet for a few minutes straight. And maybe if a put my hair up in a bun and cut myself some bangs and wore all black and spoke with an English accent they would do much better too.
Actually, it does my heart good to hear them do their memory work, to praise God with their voices and to maybe have a few lightbulb moments. All that energy and enthusiasm is contagious. The last two weeks, we talked about being wise. The next two weeks our topic is individuality. Should be fun.

Seriously, suggestions on crowd control? I am open to anything. Well, probably not the drugs or the duct tape.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Perfect Pairings

1 Chronicles 11:10 (New International Version)

David's Mighty Men (plus one woman?)

10 These were the chiefs of David's mighty men—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the LORD had promised-
Go over to Baloney's to check out some more Perfect Pairings for the week!