memorial day at memorial park

An absolutely beautiful day!  Top ten gorgeous, for sure.

We spent the day at Memorial Park in Omaha, meeting up with my Pop, a Vietnam Vet who is a member of the Honor Guard and the Patriot Guard. 

The photos say it all:

from left:  Ben, Maddi holding Megan, Ellie, Maren and Alyssa.  
All six cousins together!

Also in attendance:
Baby Jack with parents Cara and Chris (my cousin)

And the man we came to see:
Papa Pizza


last meeting

Ceesa, my baking bread on Tuesday buddy, and I celebrated our last meeting  yesterday.   Well, not our LAST one, just the last one with the kids still out of the house and in school.  We have loads of evil fun plans for the summer.  Yep, Thelma and Louise will be road tripping with the kids to all sorts of fun and educational places.  Mostly touring small farm operations, checking out local water parks, geocaching and whatever else we can wrangle up to keep ourselves and the kids entertained.  If you are interested in hooking up with our posse, give me a call!

Before I list all of the various bread and bread related recipes we made over the past year, I will provide a recap of our celebration day.

The morning began with a trip to la mie bakery.  We arrived in time for brunch, but decided we would have rather come for an early breakfast, back for lunch, once again for a mid-afternoon snack, and finish it off with a dessert for supper.  Oh well, next time!  Ceesa ordered the spinach quiche (which was actually more of a frittata) and a mocha.  I opted for an avocado tartine (deconstructed egg sandwich) and some hot tea.  The food went fast ....... very fast.  We left with an Epi loaf and some dinner rolls in order to appease the family.

la mie sets their bread bounty, hot and fresh from the basement ovens, on a reclaimed marble counter.  You pick the bread you want, slide it in a paper bag and pay at the register.  Good luck getting home before sneaking in a bite or two.

After brunch, we waddled over to a consignment shop a couple of doors down called WORN.  I found a new/used wallet and a pair of capri's for Maddi, all while filling up a dressing room of clothes for Ceesa to try on.  I got a little antsy while she was trying on all those outfits, so I sneaked a picture from my bench.

If you have the opportunity, check out this store.  They really do have a great selection of quality consigned clothing.

Next up on the agenda was to visit a T-shirt shop, Raygun, (formally SMASH)  in the East Village.  The sarcastic and humorous (sometimes inappropriate ..... don't click on the link if you don't like naughty language) tees provided ample laughs and entertainment.  As did this sign:

On a downtown street? 
With traffic? 

Kitchen Collage was the next store we needed to go and pay a visit.  I seemed to have a mild attack of ::squirell:: syndrome the moment we walked in, but rest assured, I was cured by the time ........... well okay; I was never really cured, but we did have a good time.  Oh! And, I had an opportunity to wax poetically about the benefits of soaking your grains.  Seriously! The owner was interested. I swear! 

I was so focused on the goods in Kitchen Collage I forgot to take photos.  So, here is a web picture of an item I purchased:

10 points to the first commenter who knows what this is used for.

Our final destination was La Tapatia (no link), a small Mexican market in DSM. 
We were searching for a tortilla press to share between our kitchens, and were pleasantly surprised to find some on the cheap; so we splurged and each bought one.  Now we can have fresh baked and relatively circular tortillas anytime we want!

You know, circle ones.  
Not um ........ bear-skin-rug shaped ones like we made the first time.

Sadly, time flew too fast and it was time to get back in order to pick up the children on time.  sigh 

And that is the end of my story.  Well, it could be if I really wanted it to be, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the utter and complete strength it took Ceesa to not whack me over the head with a cast iron tortilla press.  You see, sometimes I have a bad very bad habit if taking my silliness to the next level and crossing over to the dark side.  Luckily for me, Ceesa knows this about me and dutifully warned me before heading into the Mexican grocer that I needed to b-e-h-a-v-e myself.  Harumph.  I didn't even DO anything when Ceesa spun on her heal and left me in the produce section.  What? 

 I was simply admiring the produce

Now I can end the story.

Shoot, no I can't because I haven't listed the things Ceesa and I made while meeting on every other bread baking Tuesday during this almost past school year.

- glorious and bountiful white bread (loaves and rolls)
- not so glorious and bountiful pumpernickel loaves
- perfectly holey ciabatta
- 10 minute french loaves and rolls
- tortillas
- butter! (I know ..... this shouldn't count but hey; we made butter, people!)
- pizza dough
- and the pièce de résistance:  the CONFIDENCE to do it on our own!  

*all were made from basic ingredients and kneaded by hand.

If I had the time or energy at this point, I would go into and explain the theory that we have only just begun.  This project is BIGGER than us and is LEADING us to keep our minds open and the patience to see where it takes us.

Now, go break some bread with someone!


summer musts

The count down is ON!  Summer break is just around the corner and this year I am really excited to be home with the kids all day.  Years past I was tending to babies or redirecting toddlers or working part time or biting my nails in frustration of coming up with ideas of something to DO.

This year I get to enjoy my school aged children and have a laid back attitude because I decide to.  And because I won't be working around nursing and napping schedules.  And because I am sleeping through the night uninterrupted by children or snoring husbands.  Oh, wait.  Never mind that last one.  The point is; I am not going into this summer break filled with anxiety and dread about entertaining my threesome.

And no, I do not have them scheduled for activities every week during the break.  I am a firm believer in teaching the children how to be b-o-r-e-d.  There is great value in having time spread out in front of you with no real plan.  This can also back-fire, but I have a solution for the inevitable 'Mooooooooooom, (sighing the word with lots of variations of tone) I don't have anything to doooooooooo. (again with the sigh and tonal inflection)

My 2 responses:

"Oh, good!  I have plenty of chores waiting in the wings for such a moment as this."


"Go look at your poster board."

I have been using the first response with great success for a couple of years now.  The second response comes from an idea I stole from ....... wait a minute ...... I just went to my bookmarks to find the link from the blog who came up with this great idea and now I can't find it. AAAAggggghhhh.

Anyway, if it is you, please claim it in the comments and I will give due credit.

May I present ::drumroll, please::  The Poster Board

Well, Maddi's poster board to be exact.  Ellie is still working on hers and she won't show it to me until it is finished.  Ben said he would do his later ........ and he only wants to swim and ride bikes.

Some of my sweet baby girl's (I know she is 12 but she will always be my baby girl) ideas include:

- win a staring contest
- build a tree swing
- read the dictionary
- make an ivy crown
- cover the entire driveway in sidewalk chalk
- learn the French, Spanish and English ABC's backwards
- ride a city bus
- drink a whole cup of coffee
- play the guitar in a public place
- make homemade ice cream
- dance in the rain
- visit farms
- use Morse Code
......... and more of the like.  I *love* this child. If you can help out with any of the things on the list, let me know.  I would be so happy if she could put a check next to everything on her list before she begins 7th grade.  

And ......... because I am starting to feel just a little bit of anxiety and dread at having to help her accomplish her summer list ;)

**update**  I found the link.  It was Meg over at Whatever.


the end

Today marked the end of 'Slushie Monday'.  While the kids still have 8 more days of school, they will not have another Monday (off for Memorial Day) during this academic year.  I first wrote about our tradition here, and am completely shocked we have reached the end.

I don't love that the kids are drinking artificial colorings, flavoring and  boat-loads of sugar, but I do love what the drink represents.  And it's a treat, not a staple in our diet.

Maybe next year we will have 'Wheatgrass Shot Wednesday' or 'Tofurkey Thursday' or 'Soba Noodle Saturday' or  .......... not.

 What will Maddi do without her usual slushie 'brain freeze'?  

The whole slushie gang

So long, Sonic!


alone at the market

I set my alarm for 5:47am so I could be go to the DSM Farmer's Market and get the good stuff before the masses arrived.  I went by myself this week, but took along a list for 3 other friends who could not make it this week.  At the suggestion of Jill, I am considering opening up a farmer's market delivery business ;)

honey-roasted peanut butter, eggs, Prairieland Herbs (laundry bars, soy wax melts, catnip, healing balm), lamb kabobs, chive blossom feta, chard, herb syrup and asparagus = 32% of weekly budget spent for Buy Fresh Buy Local pledge


hopped up on sarsparilla

Caffeine and Sugar Free Sarsaparilla.  Yup ........   Imagine what they would have looked like with the 'real' stuff! (and by real, I mean the fully loaded sugar version ;)

Hoodlums.  Gotta love 'em



because this photo deserves it's own post
because Sara asked why I didn't include it
because today it might rain
because I am so special ............

Another photo at St. John's.  I was on a direct line to the man upstairs. (notice the pulpit to the left)

Yes, this is a phone at the alter.  
Yes, this may be sacrilegious. 
Yes, I am praying for forgiveness because posing for this photo was too tempting to pass!



After shopping the downtown market on Saturday; Sara, Rebecca and I hopped in my miniature van and started heading north to home.  Sara mentioned having seen a church with red doors somewhere in the downtown area, and was telling us about it because she thought it would be a great spot to take individual/family photos.  As I was driving and getting lost meandering along, lo and behold I look ahead and see red doors on a church!  St. John's Lutheran Church, to be exact.

I pulled off to the side to park so we could all get out for a closer look.  I left my camera behind because it is embarrassed to be seen with Sara's long and beautiful hooded-lens.  We were talking about taking photos and were just about ready to pose for the camera when we heard a rustling in the nearby bushes.  Out pops Les, the maintenance supervisor for St. Johns, who was trimming back some spring overgrowth.  Les noticed Sara's camera and asked if we would like to come inside the 118 year old church to photograph the stained glass windows.

photo from St. John's website

Les seemed nice enough, so we took him up on the offer and went in for a quick tour:  (all photo creds to Sara)

The view when you walk into the large sanctuary

The alter.  Marble, solid wood carvings, silk drapes ...... gorgeous

Makes you want to fall to your knees and lose yourself in prayer.

The magnificent pipe organ.  I want to go to service just to hear it 'sing'!

A tile mosiac completed by a previous pastor.  Lighting indoors is so terrifically awful for good pictures. 
  St. John's has an indoor/outdoor court with a garden, seating and fountain.  You can just feel the peace and serenity in the air.
Les probably spent the better part of 40 minutes walking us around, telling us stories about the artwork and allowing us to take photos.  His friendliness was unreal.  God certainly has lead Les into a wonderful ministry; caring for this beautiful building, and while doing so, talking to those who are strolling by the church and inviting them to experience God's glory in this community church.
Thank you, Les!  I plan to stop by next time I am downtown so I can sit in prayer in the airy courtyard.

Shoot.  We never did get a picture of those striking red doors.


sites at the saturday market

The next set of photos (using a cool editing light) were taken by Sara.  Wow, I didn't know I made so many weird faces!

Thank you to Sara and Rebecca for hanging out with me and letting me boss you around the farmer's market.  Can't wait to go again!


take me out to the ball game

T-ball, that is.  Yep!  Our little man is officially participating in a team sport.  Not that we have pushed it much, but every time we asked Ben in the past if he wanted to play a sport he gave a 'pass.'  Maybe Kindergarten gave him a social boost and now he is more willing to try new group activities.  

On to the photos:

Better than picking dandelions?!

Swing, batter batter, su-wing

 The 2010 Ankeny Orioles 
Head Coach:  Ben's Dad

Where is his ball cap?  His mother is a slacker.


healthy dinners

While menu planning for the week, I wanted to work in the beautiful red quinoa I purchased from the farmer's market.  A friend recently told me about Heidi Swanson's cookbook, Super Natural CookingWhile I have yet to purchase the book, I am interested in Heidi's story and happened upon some great recipes on her cooking blog: 101 Cookbooks.

I searched the 101 site for quinoa recipes and decided on Delicious Big Bowl Quinoa.  Sure, it didn't call for the red variety, AND I didn't have fresh asparagus, (shock!) so I improvised a bit.  I also decided to mix it all (quinoa, onions, potatoes, toasted walnuts & garlic) together rather than serve it like in the photo.  Hey, it's enough that I get it on the table ....... I have to make it look pretty, too?!

As I get into the preparation of the meal, I begin to worry about what my children will think about it.  One, it is meatless.  Two, it didn't smell so great since I over-toasted the walnuts.  Three, I didnt' have a back up.  Oh well, I decided to set the bowl on the table and hope for the best.  

The best didn't happen

Don't worry; I also served some broccoli and cauliflower, which everyone loved.  Throw in some bread with butter & honey and call it done.  No one left the table hungry.

* For the record, Maddi ate 2 servings, Ben picked out the potatoes, Dave declared it 'earthy' and I concluded it was something that tasted better the more you ate it.  Ellie?  well, let's just say hers got pushed around the plate quite a bit.


wykbydb defined

A friend contacted my by email today asking where I came across the phrase "When you know better, you do better".  Huh.  I had to stop and think for a minute. (yes, I think occassionally)  While my brain cells were going through their recall synopses, I passed the time 'Googling' the phrase to see if it would spark a memory.

The first result was for Maya Angelou, who happens to be a favorite person of mine, but I knew I didn't get the phrase from her works.  The next reference to my favorite phrase was for Oprah Winfrey.  Ugh.  Yes I have gone through phases where I watched her show all the time, but then I got tired of her opinion and her thoughts on the matter and her good deeds.  Don't get me wrong; I do think Oprah is on the 'good side' of peoples, but I just think she has become too much of an empire.  My opinion.  Anyway, I had been using the phrase long before I started watching Oprah.

Moving on.  By now my mind had pulled up a scene from my youth.  A time in my teenage years where I was involved in some family therapy and individual therapy to deal with the changes in our family's structure.  Or, more clearly, divorce and the messiness that ensues.  I remember having trouble getting past some anger issues related to my mother's parenting decisions, when a therapist asked me: "Do you believe your mother would have chosen differently if she had known better?"  As in, maybe she was just doing the best with what she knew.  What she was taught be her parents.  

At first I thought "What a cop out! Where is the personal responsibility in that?"  Well, the failure lies in not searching out new information, not in believing what you are doing is right.  So, DO I believe my mother would have done better if she knew better?  Yes.  And no.  Both and neither.  
In all seriousness though, that is not the point.

The point is:  What does the phrase mean to ME.  (It's all about me, really)  For me; 'when I know better, I do better' means: 
  • I will never stop searching for a better way
  • I will believe in what I am doing at the time to be best for me and my family
  • I will hold myself accountable for when I am being lazy or using 'I didn't know!' as a way to hold back change
  • I will own my mistakes

Thank you for asking, Ames!  And, I PROMISE my next post will funny and light and airy and not so deep.


the post I haven't wanted to post

If you have a blog or a journal or a diary, I will venture to guess you have some entries you wrote in the past that you cringe over when reading today.  I have LOTS and LOTS of these kinds of entries, but am thankful for every last one of them because they help document my thoughts and beliefs at the time.  And, everybody say it out loud now, WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER YOU DO BETTER!

So, in order for me to move forward, I need to take a moment and go back to make peace with a few decisions I have made in the past.

FIRST:  Today marks 6 months since I have had a cigarette.  ::insert head hanging in shame::  This decision haunts me the most, because I DID know better, and kept the behavior the same because I was too weak to be without my crutch.  Too weak to believe I deserved better for myself.  Certainly I knew those around me deserved more than seeing their wife and mom do something dangerous.  And, of course I told my kids smoking was bad for you and bad for me and I would stop as soon as I could muster up the strength to do so. Even an email dated 02/06/08 from my daughter couldn't motivate me to quit.

"I was watching a show and they where talking about how bad smoking is for you and it has been bothering me  madison'  

But I did save the email.  And, over time, I gathered up enough courage to say "enough".   WYKBYDB ....... even if it takes some time.

SECOND:  I wrote this post back on 10/14/09 about making school lunches on the cheap.  At the time, I was extremely proud of how I was being frugal and helping out our family budget by spending so little.  While I am still proud of being frugal, I am NOT so proud of what I was putting in those lunches:

     - store brand, preservative filled peanut butter and jelly
     - the cheapest 'wheat' bread I could find (which included a list of horribly long, chemically laded ingredients)
     - Jello.  Yes I made it, but the amount of sugar and food dyes are ridiculous.
     - potato chips which have no nutritional value
     - juice.  Kool-Aid people (store brand, of course).  Why wasn't I giving them water????

Ack.  Just plain 'ole Ack.  Now I spend at least double the amount of money on the kids' school lunches, but I am sending them off with MUCH healthier foods.  Granted, my intent was good then, and my intent is good now, but the difference makes me shudder.  WYKBYDB

THIRD:  Don't start what you can't finish ...... or at least don't blog about it.  My post(s) about 29 gifts in 29 days were well intended, but as I look back on those words I question my reason for wanting to share all the details.  Certainly I was receiving gifts just as quickly as I was giving them away ........ ::ding, ding::  this the point of the journey.  Now, however, I realize I should have taken that challenge in silence.  Leaving it off of the written page.  The meaning and purpose of the challenge was lost by the bragging that inevitably took place when telling someone else about your 'good deed'.  WYKBYDB

These are just a few of the things my mind has been stuck on righting.  Similar to Writer's Block ......... just as necessary to address so you can move on.

So, here I am now ......... moving on.


market bounty

".....To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done."
Mother Goose

I feel like I have made the transition from 'browser' to 'focused buyer' at the Farmer's Market.  The change began while grocery shopping yesterday; when I would notice an item on my list and say to myself "Hey, I can purchase ______ at the market."

The transition continued this morning when I awoke to overcast skies and blustery winds, yet STILL wanted to hurry up and get down to the market to shop.  Oh, and I needed to formally introduce myself to Jill.  AND, I received an update from Paul's Grains that they only sell at the DSM market the 2nd Saturday of the month.  Which this Saturday is ........ as in this morning ...... as in goooooooooooo!

In addition, I have pledged to spend a minimum of 10% of my weekly grocery budget on foods grown locally.  So, not only did I want to go, I also needed to go and spend some of my grocery money.

DSM Farmer's Market: May 8, 2010

      Total for the week:  $46 (made goal)

      Last week I did not keep a detailed list, but I figure I spent about $20 (still made goal) on food items I brought home to work into a meal

      I feel really good about how I am doing so far.  I hope to write about the foods we have purchased, give reviews and hold myself accountable to meeting the Buy Fresh Buy Local pledge. 

      When I am unable to make it to the DSM Farmer's Market, I will be able to go to our own town's small market and hope they have a good selection.  I am going to take a wild guess, however, and say they won't have anyone in a chicken hat. ;)


      take a deep breath

      I am going to tell this story in one incredibly long run-on sentence because that is EXACTLY the way the story felt, long and so sad at the beginning which started with me gaining too much weight to wear my wedding ring on my right hand finger (and if you don't know why I wear it on my right hand, oh and my husband wears his wedding ring on his right hand finger just to be sweet, you will have to meet me in person to find out) so instead I have been wearing it around a long chain as a necklace but this morning I was being silly, I know ..... shocking, and giving my best buddy a ride on a maintenance cart in front of 75 2nd graders in an effort to make them laugh, which isn't difficult by the way, so by the time we got the cart to where it need to go I noticed the chain of my necklace was poking out from underneath my shirt and when I pulled on it I shrieked because the ring was nowhere to be found, even though I retraced my steps, and oh I almost forgot that I did find something on the ground that was shiny but it ended up only being the clasp from the now broken chain so instead I went inside and asked the school secretary if someone turned the ring in (sadly no) and I even called one of the teachers to see if it fell off on the stairs of the bus (long story ...... no time to tell) but she said she hadn't seen it so I was starting to feel like I wouldn't ever see the darn thing again and so I got sad again but I remembered I still have my husband, so all is not lost; really, and I went about my day at the zoo with Ellie's class, and what do you know I also ran into my evil twin Amy ((Hi)) enjoying a beautiful sunny day with her beautiful little girls, getting an opportunity to see all the animals they have been learning about but there is never really enough time to see everything so before I knew it we (my best buddy and I) were headed back to the school, stopping briefly at Gateway Market  for eggs, kale, organic, and extremely flavorful, strawberries, 2 loaves of Coconut-Pineapple-Macadamia Nut-Tropical-Breeze Bread (trust me ..... you have to try it to appreciate the yumminess), licorice, marshmallows, a pouch of water (for testing), taco seasoning, honey, tortillas (even though we can make them from scratch), and a coffee which made us late for getting the lunch boxes back to school in time for the kids to take them home but IN time for all of our kids to be waiting patiently by the curb ready to go, but before we left my best buddy reminded me we were going to look one last time for my ring since we had one child who has an 'eagle-eye' and another child who spots everything shiny and then 5 more kids without special 'spottin' talents but who can span the area and search for the ring but wouldn't you know it was me who happened to glance down and spot something familiar in the crevice between the sidewalk and the grass which made me scream so loud that everyone turned and thought I was hurt but I wasn't hurt, just so excited and relieved to find the custom made ring which symbolizes my love for my husband and once again I screamed and jumped up and down and all the kids were plugging their ears and begging me to stop so I did and went into the school to tell the secretary I found my ring and also the teacher who was sad for me but now doesn't have to be because my ring is now safe at home until I lose enough weight to wear it again.

      The End