Friday, December 26, 2008

Three Days

This is a record for the Clark household.

Yesterday while visiting at Papa Joe's house, Hudson fell down and hit his face right by the corner of his eye on the table. We were off to the ER again.

Chase, Colton and Katie opted to spend the night with Papa Joe. Alex, Jackson, Bryce and Naomi headed home in Alex's car. It was blowing quite a bit again yesterday, and the boys were warned by a guy driving a pickup truck that they would never make it up our gravel road. They decided to try anyway, and ended up making it through and safely in the garage.

Hudson was a trooper again at the ER. Fortunately, the doctor who stitched him this time has four boys, and knows all about boys and stitches. He doesn't like to use the papoose board, so Shannon and I were able to help hold him down, and he really didn't struggle very much. Two stitches and we were done.

(Don't tell Shannon I let Hudson chew on the remote while he was gone!)

We also had a bit of trouble getting through the snow drifting across our gravel road, and had several places where we were driving blind as the snow blew up, over and around the car. We got stuck at the bottom of the driveway. Alex and Jackson were able to push us out and up the rest of the driveway.

What a way to spend a Christmas evening!

"Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil." Proverbs 4:14

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Favorite Pictures

Shannon is an awesome husband.

He's generous. He's kind. He's wonderful. He's sneaky...or he tries to be.

Although I struggle each year to come up with gift ideas for Shannon's birthday and Christmas because he never asks for anything, I am considerate enough of him to be very blunt about which gifts I would like to receive.

This year I had a new digital SLR camera on my wish list. I was kind enough to show him which kind I liked, asked for his help in researching, offered to take him shopping for cameras, etc. We talked abut it, then finally decided that we really didn't have the budget to be buying a new camera, and after we got rid of some debt, it would be a better time to make the purchase. I was okay with that. Really.

That's why it came as such a surprise one afternoon that I came across an order confirmation notice from Amazon as I was checking my email. Immediately following the first email was another confirming the change in email notification address from mine to Shannon's. Oops. Do I keep it a secret that I know? Do I delete it from my email? I decided to print out a copy of the order confirmation, then delete the email and play dumb (easy enough!).

Well. Shortly after Shannon got home, I had to go pick up the boys from basketball practice. Shannon called me and asked what I was trying to print. The printer was out of paper, so after he loaded it, he saw the confirmation. Busted. He had been concerned that he hadn't gotten a confirmation, so was relieved to know the order went through. I was relieved, because now that he knew that I knew, I could have the camera as soon as it was delivered and not have to wait until Christmas.

It took a whole week for the delivery man to bring the new camera. Not only was it the camera I wanted, but included a spare battery, memory card, macro lens, some software, lens cleaning cloth, carrying case, and a few other accessories. Wow. What a guy.

I have had a lot of fun trying to figure out how in the world to operate this camera. I can take some really great pictures on automatic mode. I've not yet figured out all of the ins and outs of ISO, focal point, f numbers, etc., but I'm working on it.

Here are some of my favorites so far.









"When the righteous rejoice there is great glory;" Proverbs 28:12

Matching Shiners

Chase and Hudson both currently have black eyes. Chase's is a week old, and Hudson's is only 2 days old. Chase got his playing basketball, and Hudson's is from his accident on Monday.

The color is awful on this pic, but it shows how swollen Chase's cheekbone was when he got home from basketball practice on Dec. 17th.

This was about 45 minutes after it happened.

Shannon's contribution.

December 22

December 23

December 24

"...Who has redness of eyes?" Proverbs 23:29

One Year and Four Days

That's how long it had been since one of the kids had to be taken to the ER for stitches (not counting Chase's surgery on his finger this spring).

Monday evening the kids were just wild. I don't know if it was anticipation for Christmas, too many candies and cookies over the weekend, or what. Ever since we put the french doors in, there has been a lot more running in the house because we created a racetrack. I can't count the number of times I say each day, "No running the house!".

By 11:00pm I was ready for bed, but Hudson was not. He had taken a late nap, and was still rearing to go. I took him up to my room so we could lie down together. As I was changing clothes, he was walking on my bed. All of a sudden he tripped on the blankets and bonked his face on the bookcase headboard. Instant blood, gaping wound, sinking feeling that I was getting ready for bed, but now had to go to the ER in a blizzard.

We got the other children settled, got bundled up, and headed to Marshalltown because it is a few miles closer than Waterloo. The snow was blowing, the driveway was starting to drift, and visibility was minimal. We didn't arrive at the ER until just after midnight. Although the waiting room was empty, we still waited for about 20 minutes, then were taken to the exam room, waited, nurse came in, then we waited some more, then the doctor came in, then we waited some more, then we finally got the stitches.

Of course he didn't like the papoose board, but he did a relatively good job. He was able to hold hands with me, and really didn't move his head around much.

The doctor put four stitches in, and sent us home. We pulled in the driveway just before 2:00am. The snow had stopped while we were at the ER, and the snow plows were already out on the highways. Our gravel road wasn't too bad, and we made it up the driveway without any problems.

We're down to only two children that have not had stitches.

"Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth:" Proverbs 7:24

Sunday, December 21, 2008

39 and Counting

Today is Shannon's birthday. It coincided with a big Iowa blizzard, and church was canceled, as well as the kids' Christmas program.

Our road has not been plowed all day. I suppose the powers that be have decided that if the wind continues to blow at 40mph all day, it is rather pointless to plow because it will quickly drift back over. Wind chill factors have been from 25 to 30 degrees below zero, but the wind should die down throughout the night. Temperatures are expected to be in the double digits below zero tomorrow. I'm so thankful we have nowhere to go for the next couple days! The boys have this whole week off of basketball.

We started our day out with eggs, bacon and chocolate chip muffins for brunch. The guys spent a lot of time watching football and monitoring their fantasy football status. They even went outside and played some football this afternoon. BRRRRR!!!!!

We all pitched in and made some sweet and sour chicken with fried rice for supper. It was a hit with everyone. We've spent a very relaxing day together, just hanging out as a family. Shannon and the boys are in playing another game of Risk now.

Chase did the honors of baking a white cake from scratch for Shannon this evening. Before we had a chance to frost it, Hudson climbed up on a chair and helped himself to a handful or two of cake, so we decided to forgo the frosting, and just ate it plain. It was delicious.

Shannon just keeps getting better with age. I love him tremendously. I'm incredibly proud of the man he has become, and I can't wait to spend the next 39 years with him.

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run into it and they are safe." Proverbs 18:10

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friday's Fun

Friday we had a busy day. We finished up the week's worth of school, and a little before 11:00 Avery came to play. The girls were SO excited. They played with clay, played kitchen, they played princesses and dollies.

Just before lunch time Bryce came into the kitchen while I was cooking, and in a matter of fact voice said that the little kids really needed to stop throwing toys. I turned around to look at him, and he had a cut between his eyes. It was only about 1/4 inch long, but it was gaping wide open. It didn't bleed much, so we decided to glue him back together. When Shannon got home for lunch, we laid Bryce down on the kitchen table, pinched the cut together, and glued him up. We've gotten a lot of use out of the tube of glue Troy gave us. It's nice to have friends in the medical field.

After lunch the kids went outside to play for about 5-10 minutes. It seriously took longer to get everyone dressed than the time they spent outdoors. It was COLD!!!

After lunch we planned to make sugar cookies. Katie and Naomi both had aprons, so we decided to whip one up for Avery, too. I've got a closet upstairs dubbed the "Crafty Closet". It's stuffed full of fabric and supplies I've been stockpiling for the past 20 years 'just in case' I might need something someday. Well, today was the day.

We whipped up the apron in under a half an hour, and were ready to start making cookies. I kind of wimped out and decided just to roll them in colored sugar. Each child got their own color, and we baked about 6 dozen cookies in a very short time. Jackson helped, too.

Hopefully we didn't traumatize Avery too much. I asked her during our very noisy lunch if it was this noisy at her house. She said yes. They girls are asking when she can come back again.

"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

Close, but not quite

Yesterday on the way home from church we had Sam and Stephanie with us. That made 2 adults and 10 children in the van. Shannon an I have gotten pretty good at tuning out a lot of noise and not paying a whole lot of attention to everything that is being said (screamed) from the back.

Once in awhile something that is said will spark our attention. Yesterday it was the word 'castration'. Chase was saying that he had seen a castration machine. I'm still not sure what sparked the conversation. Although I have a vague idea of what castration is from growing up in a rural community, I've never seen a machine that performs the act, so I asked Chase what it looked like. He started describing a big thing that had bones in it. That's when it dawned on me that he was talking about a 'cremation' machine, not castration. Oops.

On their way home from Jr. Boys' camp a couple years ago, Carrie Simon, a funeral director's wife, drove the boys home. She saved some time by stopping at a sister funeral home on the way home to pick up some cremains. The boys tagged along inside and were able to see some of the bones that did not completely burn up. They thought it was pretty cool.

Cremation...castration. Maybe they're not so different, after all.

"If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." Proverbs 24:10

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This Week's Menu

This is what we'll be eating for the next seven days. Our budget was a bit tight since we went grocery shopping for Papa Joe on Saturday, spent $138.00 on groceries, and he forgot to pay us back. We didn't have the guts to ask him for the money. In the long run, we're still way ahead of the game, but December is a rough month to come up with the extra $$$. Anyway, I attempted to use a bit more out of my pantry this week. The only meat I bought was a 3 lb. bag of boneless/skinless chicken breast and an 8.72 lb. pork shoulder for Sunday's meal. I'm improvising a bit, because chops were over $3/lb, and the shoulder roast was $1.38/lb.

Breakfast: Cereal/Toast/Oatmeal
Lunch: Pizza Rolls I added pepperoni
Banana Crunch Bars
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Brunch Pizza Squares
Lunch: Sour Cream Enchiladas
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Cereal/Toast/Oatmeal
Lunch: Frito Pie
Dinner: Cheddar Corn Chowder

Breakfast: Cereal/Toast/Oatmeal
Lunch: Apple Smothered Pork Chops
Layered Peanut Butter Bars
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Apple Baked French Toast
Lunch: Bean Burritos
Dinner: Creamy Wild Rice Soup

Breakfast: Cereal/Toast/Oatmeal
Lunch: Sweet and Sour Chicken
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Overnight Coffee Cake (recipe below)
Lunch: Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta
Dinner: Creamy Potato Soup

I spent about $125.00 this week. Let's do the math:

10 people X 3 meals/day X 7 days = 210 meals

125 / 210 = ~$.60/meal

Better than last week, but I used a lot out of my cupboards. I was able to stretch last week's food out another day because we had a ton of leftovers in the fridge, so I went on a cooking strike until they were gone (or until someone took them out to the dog).

Here's the Overnight Coffee Cake recipe. In the past I have made a huge batch of this mix and put all of the dry ingredients in baggies. I put the ingredients for the topping in a smaller baggie and put it inside the big one. When I wanted to make the coffee cake, all I had to do was add the wet ingredients and mix it all up. It saved time not having to measure everything. The kids were able to do it, too. It also works to do this the morning you want to eat it. I just swirl the topping ingredients into it a bit.

2/3 cup Oil
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 c. Buttermilk (I just use regular)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (I usually use more--yum!)
1/2 cup Chopped Nuts
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Mix in order given, up to and including milk. Pour into greased 9X13 pan. Mix remaining topping ingredients and sprinkle over cake mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Next morning, bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.

I have also been known to stick this in the oven on Saturday night and set my timed bake for Sunday morning. It just seems easier to get out of bed when you can smell coffee cake baking!

"He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction." Proverbs 13:3

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The First Snow Day

Today public school was canceled. It was forecast that we would get 4-11 inches of snow and lots of wind, too. The snow didn't materialize, although the wind did blow and our road drifted a bit.

Alex's JV basketball game was canceled last night, which always disappoints us. They were scheduled to play South Hardin, a team they played three times last season. The first game South Hardin won, and we won the final two. They were pretty physical games, and the teams were relatively evenly matched. I was anxious to see how they would match up this season.

Jackson and Chase's basketball practice was canceled, too, so Jackson rode into Reinbeck with Alex so they could stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house last night. They had to be in town early this morning for work. Let me tell you, the garbage men in Reinbeck are a lot more dependable than the mail carriers in rural Gladbrook. We didn't have any mail delivery today, although Shannon and I were able to get from our house to Union to pick up Papa Joe, travel on to Marshalltown for a doctor's appointment, then reverse our route and make it home without much trouble. So much for the mail carrier's motto:
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"

Not in my neighborhood.

Everyone except Colton is currently caught up on school. We plan to get him caught up tonight. I sleep so much better at night when everyone is done with school and the house clean. house isn't clean. Oh well.

"The Lord by wisdom founded the earth by understanding He establishd the heavens;" Proverbs 3:18

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I do not have many good pictures from Thanksgiving. It seems once everyone gets here and we're in the crunch to get the food on the table, there's no time to take any photos.

I did some baking prior to Thursday. On Tuesday I baked a Pumpkin Cheesecake and made the Orange Cranberry sauce. On Wednesday I baked 106 rolls, a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie, a Blueberry Pie, and a Cherry Pie.

Our guest list grew tremendously the week before Thanksgiving. We had planned to have my parents and my sister Kim, her husband Jeff, and their son Mason. Shannon's family were all going elsewhere. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Papa Joe and Shannon's uncle Barry decided to come to our house. Then Shannon's sister Carrie, her husband Jason, and their boys Will and Ben said they were coming, too. On Tuesday we found out Shannon's brother John, his wife Tanya, and their kids Reagan and Ryan were coming from Virginia. Later that afternoon Shannon's cousin Angie called to see if it was okay if she and her husband Tim came, too. Of course it was fine for everyone to come, but I had to do some scrambling to make sure I had enough dishes, glasses, silverware and table to seat everyone!

We had a really nice time with the entire family. The boys were able to go outside and play a good game of football, with the Old Guys vs. the Young Guys. Each team still claims, quite loudly, that they won. We'll never know the truth.

I didn't have nearly as many leftovers as I was hoping, but everyone had plenty to eat. Shannon did a great job with the turkey again this year. Katie even got to help out by peeling potatoes early Thursday morning.
We have an abundance of blessing to be thankful for this year.

" Blessings are on the head of the righteous..." Proverbs 10:6

Weekly Menu

I'm attempting to keep myself a bit more organized by planning out a week's worth of menus, and then sticking to it (loosely). I have found when I do this, my grocery budget stays lower, and the family seems happier overall because there is generally something to eat.

I've found a couple blogs that I have been getting some recipes off of. I'll link to the recipes.

This is the plan for the next seven days.

Breakfast: Hootenannies
Lunch: Easy Pasta Bake
French Bread (Shannon fell in love with me all over again)
Dinner: Creamy White Chili (I doubled the recipe)
Cornbread with Honey Butter


Breakfast: Cereal/Toast
Lunch: Sweet n Sour Meatballs
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: French Breakfast Puffs
Lunch: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Cereal/Toast
Lunch: Beef Enchiladas
Refried Beans
Tortilla Chips
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Cereal/Toast
Lunch: Roast
Mashed Potatoes
Apple Dumplings
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Orange Blender Drink
Lunch: Chicken Tetrazinni
Dinner: Cheddar Ham Soup
Italian Bread Bowls

Breakfast: Cereal/Toast
Lunch: Roast Beef Casserole
Dinner: Leftovers

We eat our big meal at noon. This works better for us because of practice schedules, games, and Shannon's work. If there are no leftovers on a given night, there are usually chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and other very nutritious options.

My goal used to be to spend only $100 per week for groceries. That's nearly impossible lately, and I'm struggling to keep it under $150 per week. I will double a lot of the above recipes to feed our size family.

Shannon, and the rest of the family for that matter, will usually eat whatever I put in front of them. After each new recipe, we vote and see if it is a keeper or not. If not, I don't make it again. If it is a keeper, it goes on the "Master List". I try not to make the same thing more than once a month.

Last night I spent about $155 for enough groceries for the above meals, as well as 5 gallons of milk. Those five gallons may or may not last us through the week. I had very little meat in the house, but had several boxes of pasta in the cupboard. I'm not quite organized enough to plan my menu based on the weekly ads, but I try to keep a mix of chicken, beef and pork dishes. Shannon requires that I cook with meat at least once a day. Part of that $155 went towards some paper products, too. I usually go to Aldi's first, get what I can off of my list, then get my meats at Fareway. Walmart is nice if I need a bunch of other household items, but I tend to spend a ton more if I go there. It's too easy to stick a lot of other "cheap" things in the shopping cart.

At $155/week, divided by 10 people eating 3 meals a day, that comes to about $.74 per person per meal.

I have no idea if this is good or not. I'd like to keep track for a few months and see what kind of stats I can collect.

"...Eat only as much as you need..." Proverbs 25:16

Playing Hooky

I'm playing hooky from church tonight. I've had a cold for the past two months, and can't seem to shake it. My head has been stuffed up, I've had a gooky, phlegmy cough, and I've just felt yucky.

I finally went to the doctor last week. I've been on some antibiotics since that time, but I'm still not back to normal. My ears, which don't work well to begin with, are very plugged. I have next to no hearing in my left ear. The right is worse than normal. It makes it difficult to be in public when I can't hear normal conversation. So, I skipped out tonight.

I've been busy in the kitchen. I'm cooking up about 5 pounds of meatballs while I type. My electric frying pan is doing all of the work right now. I'm trying to feed my freezer so that the kids will have some real food to eat while we're away from home at the hospital or at basketball games. 'Tis the season.

I'm also looking at a basket of laundry that needs to be folded. It's not going anywhere, so I'll continue typing.

Hudson has been napping since about 4:30. He's just waking up. That's going to come back and bite me when I'm ready for bed in a couple hours and he's rearing to go. It sure was nice while it lasted! The sweet little guy is all snuggly now, rubbing eyes and smiling at me. He's got rosy cheeks...and lavender footie pajamas on. Don't tell anyone. That's what happens when you have two big sisters!

"He who loves purity of art and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend." Proverbs 22:11

Another Update

On Monday Papa Joe was scheduled to have a defibrillator---okay, I can't think of a good word: installed, inserted, placed in his body?? What is the correct terminology? You get the idea. Regardless of what it's called, the surgery was canceled because his potassium levels were quite elevated prior to surgery. They kept him in the hospital overnight, and by morning the potassium was okay, but surgery couldn't be rescheduled until Thursday. He came home from Ames yesterday afternoon.

This morning Papa Joe called and said he was dizzy and had pain behind his eyes. Shannon's brother called Dr. Sorrentino's office and they said the roads were quite bad near Ames, and he should go to his family doctor in Conrad for a checkup. His blood pressure was very low, causing the dizziness. They decided to admit him back to the hospital in Ames. As of 6:00 tonight he hadn't seen a doctor yet. We assume surgery is still scheduled for 10:30 tomorrow morning.

We're thankful Shannon's brother John is here this week. He was able to take Papa Joe back to the hospital.

We actually had a pretty good day of school today. It has been sporadic lately with doctor's appointments, Papa Joe sitting, and lots of other distractions. I generally try to push the kids to be half done with their school by Christmas. Not going to happen this year. We'll get back into the swing of things soon.

"When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you." Proverbs 2:10-11