Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's all in the presentation....

The picky picky princess was not pleased with last night's supper, for the most part. After a quick post-swimming snack of heat and eat chicken strips, the girls settled in to watch a movie while CowGranny got supper started.
We were having chicken wings, kale with bacon, and grilled squash.
I expected the wings would be the only food Nickole would like- the kale and the squash being on her suspicion list.
The wings went into the rotisserie to get nicely browned and tasty. Really simple. Kale was washed and torn to bites. I cooked bacon in my cast iron skillet, pushed the bacon to the side, and quick cooked the kale in the hot bacon oil. I left out the onions and mushrooms I usually put into this dish. The squash I simply sliced into rounds, sprayed with cooking oil spray on a pizza pan. I seasoned lightly with garlic powder and smoked paprika, topping with tiny sprinkles of parmesan cheese. Then I grilled them. They looked like wee little pizzas!
Nickole protested the kale, but ate it after seeing I was right- it was already in her mouth and she would keep on having the taste in her mouth until she swallowed it. Took less than 30 seconds for her to eat her kale. (She didn't die.)
She asked what was the (squash). I told her they were wee little pizzas. She picked them up and ate them. Both of them. No arguments, no griping, no negotiating.
It was the chicken wing she protested. It wasn't a chicken strip.
 (I know, the chicken strips were at lunch. This is still chicken.)
 (She only likes WHITE meat.)
(A wing IS white meat.)
 (How is she supposed to eat the BONES? The BONES can choke you! )
  (You eat the meat from the bones and don't eat the bone.)
(She doesn't LIKE chicken!)
 (Yes you do, you asked for seconds at lunch.)
Alana finished her supper- including the squash, which she isn't a huge fan of- and was having cherries and ice cream for dessert.
(How come Alana gets to have cherries and ice cream?)
(Because she ate her supper. When you eat your supper, you can have some too, if you want.)
(I DO want some. Right NOW! I do NOT want my supper. I want ice cream!)
(That's not the way it works.)
Yes, she ate the chicken.
And she got ice cream and she got cherries.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visit with 1.2 and 2.1, up to day 4...

I came home from work early on Friday- my dear co-workers and boss taking pity on me. I felt SO awful. I took some generic Nyquil type stuff and crawled to bed. Saturday, Mr C suggested I cancel going to get the girls. I told him how disappointed Nickole (2.1) would be, and if I had what HE had had last week, I should be better soon. He got ready and drove me to get the girls. I was so grateful- I just wanted to go to bed once we got home.
Saturday night was pretty laid back. We watched Nickole's FAVORITE SpongeBob movie. Jammies were put on and everyone got to bed just after dark. Sunday morning, I got up and made the promised pancakes. I asked if blueberries were desired- and got an enthusiastic YES!!! (Nickole told me they are her and her daddy's FAVORITE!)
Fortunately, I added the blueberries to individual pancakes and not the bowl of batter. Apparently REAL blueberries are NOT Nickole's favorite. But she tried them, and then I made her a pancake without blueberries. She ate every bite!
After breakfast, we got dressed and got our containers, and we went blackberry picking. Alana (1.2) was having a wonderful time. Nickole had fun with the concept. She DID pick some berries herself. I had to laugh when, at one point, she suggested Alana and I take her bucket and pick the berries FOR her, and she would just wait in the car.  The idea didn't fly, and she helped pick more berries.
When we got back to the house, Grumpaw had been working in the garden. He brought in peas, green beans, and squash. I washed all the veggies, and the girls helped me deal with them.
Alana snipped the ends off the beans, and Nickole hulled the peas while I cut up and bagged squash.
Alana and Nickole both sampled raw squash. We got the peas bagged and frozen, and the beans refrigerated for later use.
Then we made the blackberry jelly. While I tried to get pictures of every step, I later discovered my camera was malfunctioning, and it was taking short, blurry videos and not photographs on many of the attempts.
Once the jelly was made, and cooling, the girls did custom labels for each of the jars. I toasted some 15 grain bread, and we had jelly toast. 15 grain bread was another new food for Nickole. She thought it was "too hard to eat", but managed to finish her 1/2 slice of jelly toast. (This was her decision. I told her it was her choice on whether to eat it or not when she grumbled that she guessed she would just sit there until bedtime and NOT eat it. I hadn't even mentioned her sitting there until bedtime, but hey, if that was how she managed it at home, I went with it! I told her how sad we were going to be for her to be inside sitting by her jelly toast while we were outside at the campfire, having s'mores after supper...  apparently 15 grain bread was not entirely intolerable.)
We did indeed set up a tent... and discovered that it should of simply been pitched in the trash, rather than packed up and stored! Broken zippers and torn screens and a good deal of aggravation aside, we took that tent down and set up a different one. The bedding, pillows, and toys were carried out. We had a campfire. Pottied endless times, involving unzipping the tent door, which tended to catch on the fly every. single. time.
Mr C set up a hammock to sleep in nearby, and suggested I would be better in my bed. (The coughing up gunk was worse, and every breath was a wheeze). I came inside and checked my social media... and learned that while there was no rain in the forecast, the local weather station had us under a severe storm "pop-up" advisory for our county. A possibility of large hail and 70 MPH winds.
I alerted Mr C, and we made a precautionary decision that everyone should come sleep inside.
Breakfast Monday was "minion" cereal. I had opened a new carton of milk... the gallon(?) of Almond milk in the plastic jug had run out. This was a cardboard carton of exactly the same stuff, but not in the plastic jug. This upset 2.1.... she suddenly didn't LIKE this milk (which she had been drinking by the glass full for 2 days without problem.) Since we couldn't go do our plans for the day until she finished her cereal (It was already lunch time when she awoke at 11:00 am), we waited for her to decide the milk wasn't damaging the cereal and eat.
Then we grabbed stuff to pick blackberries (just in case) and some towels (just in case) and water (having learned our lesson about forgetting water the day before) and took off. We drove to Hobbs State Park over East of Rogers. (Stopping for a chocolate dipped cone along the way!) We hiked TWO trails, of 1/2 mile each. The tall shady trees kept the paths cool in the 89* heat. The girls enjoyed the various lengths of the stream we were near, feeling how cold the water was (FRIGID!) with their hands as we observed frogs, butterflies, and dragonflies.
After the hike, we stopped in at the Nature Center. Wonderfully air conditioned! They have taxidermied animals of many varieties native to Arkansas. (I dropped my camera once... and it seems to now be working fine, no longer taking the video clips when I want still shots!) There were bear, bobcats, wild turkey, bats, raccoons, and many variety of birds on display. We got to see live snakes and a three toed box turtle in glass cages.
Leaving the nature center, we drove over to War Eagle Mill, and watched the water powered mill wheel turning. We didn't go inside, as 2.1 was more interested in the stream powering the mill. THIS is why I tossed towels into the car! Alana and Nickole waded near the small sandy shore, gathering shells and attempting to catch minnows. The water is MUCH deeper and there was so much LESS beach due to the higher water level as compared to when Becky and Paula and I were last there. We hadn't been there long when quite a number of other families began to show up... and it was getting crowded. So we headed for home.
Supper was grilled pork chops, deep fried green beans sprinkled with parmesan, and roasted cauliflower. Nickole found the pork chop acceptable, but it took quite awhile to actually TRY the green beans (I had put 5 beans on her plate, and about a teaspoon of cauliflower.) She was crying she was AFRAID of her food. Eventually she ate 1/4 teaspoon of cauliflower and two green beans. She didn't die.
Alana loved the entire meal.
Today's plan is Jones center for Ice Skating.
 But first, breakfast...

Friday, June 26, 2015

1000

I certainly am a wordy person! This is my 1000th post to this blog.
Of course, this is over a period of some 7+ years.
I woke this morning with a sore throat and coughing up gunk... not an auspicious beginning. Not so much a sore throat, as raw. Getting some Thieves oil on my neck to stop it now!
I am trying to tie up loose ends before I have to head off to work... Tomorrow I go get Nickole and Alana.
I totally blew the THM diet this morning. I had pre-sweetened "kid cereal" with almond milk. It was made from rice and wheat. I immediately got stomach cramps and reacted as if I had ingested lactose... so I am wondering if perhaps a subtle gluten allergy may be as much to blame for some past problems as milk products?
I have lost weight between THM and walking.
I have missed walking the last few days. Wednesday I skipped the walk because I had been "ill" during the night Tuesday. (I hate tossing cookies!!!) I felt better by Thursday morning, so set off to the west, turning south on the first road. I hadn't gone more than 100 yards when I saw a truck coming from the opposite direction. It was travelling slowly, but there were two big dogs chasing it. I recognized the neighbor dog we call "Special" as one of those dogs. I didn't want to have to deal with dogs, and I REALLY didn't want to have to deal with Special, so I turned around and got back around the corner. The dogs had given up chasing the truck, and headed back south.
I figured I would just continue on East of the house and finish my walk.
We hadn't seen Special around for more than a week, and wondered if her people had got rid of her, or finally starved the poor dog to death. Seeing her IN THE DISTANCE satisfied my wondering about what had become of her.... I really didn't need her to see me and insist I needed a guard dog for my walk. When I made it safely around the corner, I was relieved. Whoot! Close call.
Just as I reached the driveway passing Special's people's home, there was a great rattling and shaking in the brush and tall grass... and out leaped a bear!
Oh wait... it wasn't a bear.
It was Special... and she was SSSSsssooooOOOOoooo glad to see me and can she go with me on my walk? and oh look I'm all wet! here let me shake oh now you are wet too but you looked too warm out here and here I am so glad to see you aren't you glad to see me let me leap up on you and lick at your face and dance circles around you and stray into the road the cars always stop
Yeah. One wet, exuberant dog had seen me after all. Between her house and mine, no less than five cars had to completely STOP for her being in the road. Several slowed way down. ALL of the drivers glared at ME. Special gave me escort home, where I just gave up on the days walk. (.8 total mileage)
I usually cut my walk short on Fridays due to working all evening- I don't want to be worn out before I get there. Storms this morning, and me with stuff still to do, so I didn't even TRY today.
I am on a break from vacuuming the house. I've got beds made for the girls, kid friendly food stocked in the cupboard. Just half the house left to complete on floors, plus once over in the bathrooms... Ready as I can get.
Still wish I were getting to have all the kids at once!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

D minus 31 and counting...

Mr C and I have been planning for weeks to get a rental vehicle reserved for the trip to get the twins. On a number of occasions, we have gone so far as to compare prices and features. We came quite close to actually booking the vehicle a couple of weeks ago, when a discount club I belong to through Staffmark offered triple the number of bonus points going through their site. *We* couldn't decide on whether or not to go ahead and book or wait. The sale was over the next day... so once more the decision was put off. Looking yesterday, Mr C and I just ALMOST booked again. The phone rang, we got distracted...
SHINY!
And forgot again. Today, the discount club couldn't find ANY rentals in ANY parameters I set. As if, in the past 24 hours, ALL the vehicles in Northwestern Arkansas were suddenly booked at the same time we needed one. Thinking just MAYBE one had to book "more than" a month ahead through the discount club- I went to the websites of a couple of the car agencies I know serve NWA.
One of the agencies (Enterprise!) was set up to search a bit differently than the other sites I had been on. I got the base price of exactly the vehicle Mr C said I should look at: A full sized car. Then I went up and down the grades of vehicles, just to see the difference in cost between a mini-van, a full sized SUV, and a full sized car. Tom and I had eliminated "Luxury Car" from our previous search parameters. Who can afford a luxury car?
It appears- WE CAN!
In a strange twist- the dates we need a vehicle for have all the full-sized, mid-sized, and economy cars within $20 total cost of one another... a dollar or two per day. But the "Premium/ Chrysler 300 or similar" was more than $250 LESS than even the smallest economy car, total cost. Wow!
Car rental- Booked! Camp Site- Reserved! Tent- selected, set up/tested/ packed.
Camp gear- gathered, stationed for packing. House/ garden sitters- asked!
**************
The twins are back on the Trail after have FOUR zero/ Near-0 in one week. They are now traversing the beginnings of the most difficult sections of the trail- and it only gets harder from now on out. Two of their zero days were from being sick, and another two waiting for a package containing a replacement stove to arrive. It turned out, AFTER their wait, the package had been delivered and signed for in another town down the trail. It was NOT forwarded- in essence- it "disappeared". So they had to order ANOTHER stove... to be sent farther on up the trail. Their packs are full of meals, and no way to cook them.
They got a few aluminum cans and watched some tutorials on YouTube on how to build a pop can alcohol stove. They are hoping their macgyvered stove will work until they catch up to the new one.
In order for our plans to mesh- they now have to travel an average of 16.3 miles per day for the rest of their hike. Some places, that will be nearly impossible... so they will be needing to make up for it on other days. (Due to the forced zero/ near0 days, their average for their 106 days on the trail so far is now 15.1 miles per day.) As of last night- they have done 1600 miles!
*************
I am continuing to try to get conditioned. Our scale is annoying and highly inaccurate. I don't say that because it weighs light by a good 8-10 lbs. But one can step on it three times in succession, and get a weigh variance of more than 5 lbs. For instance- I was down six lbs. from my best weigh yesterday, when I stepped on the scale this morning. In disbelief, I shifted slightly... and was up two lbs. from yesterday. That's an eight lb. variance just by slightly shifting my weight on the scale. Stepping off and back on- I am less than a lb. under yesterday. I would like to have a GOOD scale! (And, for the record- I KNOW ones weight varies from hour to hour during the day, AND to avoid disappointment/ discouragement, I should only weigh once a week or so.)
Today I walked 5.7992 miles. I wrote it down as 5.8! (Yesterday I walked 3.5167 and just claimed the 3.5, so I don't always round UP). My cumulative total is up to 67.5 miles since the 31st of  May. Still not enough to burn an extra lb. per week- but tomorrow I should hit enough distance to equal two lbs. worth of calories burned. I am sure my distance will fall off next week when I have two of the granddaughters here. I'm pushing myself as it is. When I start out every morning, I am ready to turn back before I have gone 300 yards. It takes a mile or more before I have the endorphins kick in!
 My cumulative weight loss is six lbs. in the past 3 weeks. We are headed into THM Diet week 4.
*******************
Tom's hobby of looking for houses turned up possibly the BEST address I have ever seen. A house on Buzzard Glory Rd., in Crooksville, Ohio. While it isn't the best house I've ever seen- isn't that an awesome address? Another interesting street name in Crooksville : Portie Flamingo Rd.. I misread it as "Portly" Flamingo Rd. We actually aren't looking for houses in Crooksville, OH... but the Buzzard Glory Rd. came up in a search Tom was doing... and with a name like that, we HAD to look.

******************
That's all for now! Thanks for reading.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Another Day...

Time is just relentless, isn't it?
All the times I have wanted to just stop the clock and enjoy whatever was going on- absorb every detail of the moment- could be outweighed by the times I wanted to hurry time along. "I can hardly wait until______!"
One day when I was 11, my brother Ricky and I were talking in my Granny's kitchen. We were talking about how grown-ups didn't seem to remember every single day that had happened to them with the complete clarity we remembered things. We thought it was weird. At the time, you could of probably asked us minute details about something that had happened to us when we were babies, and we could of told you. It was vividly remembered ... not occasions we had heard adults talking about.
Ricky and I discussed the idea that someday, we too might forget what each day had been like in its own detail. That day, and others since, I deliberately committed a moment in time to my memory. We were living with my Granny and PawPaw in their rental house... 1008 Brown Trail. It was on the Bedford side of the street- Brown Trail being the dividing line between the two suburban towns. Ricky and I were cleaning up the kitchen after supper. The floor was tiled in the black and white checkerboard pattern that was fashionable when the house had been built... the white now aged yellow-beige. The sink didn't look out the window- it shared a wall with the bathroom. It was bracketed by high cabinets on either side. It smelled of hamburger patties, fried potatoes, and ketchup.  I stared at the floor and told Ricky I was "saving" this moment to remember... and I do.
I have done this from time to time through the years.
We were right- as people get older, they lose the bright clarity of detail they had as babies.  Memories of places and events seem all to run together, or get lost or crowded out. We think differently than we did as children.
Instead of savoring each day, we gulp it down without thought, like a medicine pill.
I have been missing my "star time". I need to go out and just sit under the stars, even if it is only for a few minutes. The vastness of creation above- so unimaginable in magnitude. How many thousands of years since the stars were set into their places? How long have the constellations been named? Their titles passed along from generation to generation sitting below them in the nights.
I remember my Uncle Doug taking me outside of my Great Granny's house in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He was pointing out the various constellations and telling me their names. He and Dad had gone out the kitchen door and around the corner of the house- as I recall, Dad was having a cigarette. (Perhaps I am mistaken about that- but my memory has the scent of cigarette smoke attached to it.) (This was well over 50 years ago!)
I don't remember ever being afraid of the dark. Maybe I was when I was really small. I do remember Dad telling me there was nothing out there in the dark that wasn't there in the day time. Night has always seemed a time of peacefulness.

Today I woke up to face the morning. My body aches, my right arm especially HURTS. I am going to have to see a doctor as soon as we can afford to, about fixing the carpal tunnel. The brace helps- it helps a lot. But there are days like yesterday when I don't even know WHAT I did to make it ache so much- and I know I have to work tonight. Chicken Fried Chicken night- so twice as busy for me!
Yesterday I got only 1.6 miles in on my walk... just over the 3/4 mile mark, the rain started. Tropical Storm Bill has been circling overhead, a steady downpour for hours on end. Even though it was a short walk, it adds to my "conditioning". I am up to 52.6 miles since May 31st. The diet continues- the weight loss is slow and microscopic thus far. (Yesterday, I stepped on the scale to WOW! FIVE POUNDS gone!... and then realized I was seeing the SHADOW of the indicator line... NOT the indicator itself. So I haven't lost five lbs. overnight. Sigh. Reminder to self- it took time to put on, it takes time to come off!)

I am coming up on my 1000th blog post here- this is #997 or so. Trying to think of some sort of  'giveaway' or prize for comments on the 1000th post. Since I generally have all of 14 or so readers... there is a better chance of getting a prize from me than of winning the lottery!
Be blessed. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rambles and brambles

It's been more than 10 days since my last post... and here I am ragging on the boys for not posting more on their blog!
Tomorrow, Daniel and Samuel will be 19 years old. I urge you to text them Happy Birthday wishes (and let them know who you are) at 479 426 4386
They are in a motel for their second day in a row... Sam came down with a norovirus  overnight Sunday. Monday, Dan and a trail friend "Werewolf" got him to a motel in town for the night. Sam began to feel better, when Dan was struck down. So a second night in the motel was called for. Reminds me of their first birthday, 18 years ago... both boys were covered in chickenpox. That bout was due to an outbreak from the local public school during its final week of classes, brought home from the older kids.
* They are currently in Massachusetts!*
*Clicking on the enlarged words will take you to more information on the word indicated*

I got their most recent batch of Appalachian Trail pictures last night. These are only between Damascus, and McAfee Knob. They got a brand new photo card for their birthday, so I can add to the pictures as they fill up more cards.

Tom and I got our end of the "pick up the twins in Maine" details worked out... at least the high points are worked out. Some of the details have yet to be decided. One detail is food.... We want to have fajitas one night as we camp. What the second night? What about lunches? We have to carry EVERYTHING we need in... there is no electricity, no potable water, no happy little grocery store up the road. (Nearest town is 30 miles away.) Anyway... the detaily details still are under consideration. We grabbed the very LAST campsite available at the campground that the AT passes through in Baxter State Park for the week the twins HOPE to be there. We took the only two days it was available. I believe God knows the perfect timing- and with that being the only days available anywhere NEAR their anticipated arrival time... we took it. We have been TOLD that this park holds 1/3 of all its campsites in reserve for Maine residents, up to the week before any given date, and then opens them to out of staters. So perhaps we can change plans if it comes down to it.
 Meanwhile, back here in Arkansas... I have continued to walk. I am up to 43 miles cumulative total since the 31st of May. I have gained almost back to my starting point on the diet... I sure hope it is muscle gain!
I've had some lovely walks. Have you ever noticed, each variety of tree has its own sound when the wind blows through it? Squirrels and blackbirds are the most likely critters I have found that scold me. The poor, poor killdeer has shown me its "broken" wing nearly daily. (If you are unfamiliar with them, a killdeer builds its nest on the ground, in short grass or gravel. If you get too close to the nest (which is VERY hard to see), the parent birds will land near you and try to entice you to catch them instead, as they flap in convincing helplessness just ahead of you. When you are suitably far from their nest, the bird is "miraculously" healed and flies away! This morning I saw a doe and fawn drinking from a catch pond. Earlier in the week, a snapping turtle and a black snake shared the road with me. I am not freaky about snakes. Just keep June bugs away from me!
Here are a few of my shots from this month. Have a blessed day!






Garden, mid-May

Tom in the Garden, early June
The pond is full and overflowing


South Pleasant Valley Rd, walking north

Someone tell me what kind of flower this is.

Rustic Barn


BUNNY in the road
Doe and fawn

Friday, June 5, 2015

Going in to the weekend....

One of those weeks where I feel like I have accomplished almost nothing. I did get 19 miles of walking in... but opted to NOT walk today, as I work tonight. As hot as it has been, I have not been consistently wearing the arm brace for the carpal tunnel. I awoke last night to pains that told me wearing the brace should be a priority, even when it is hot!
I should of expected a bum week this week, after the way it started out. Sunday afternoon, Tom and I headed to the Jane, MO., Wal-Mart to get our passport pictures printed. Using a program provided by the passport application site, I carefully pre-sized our pictures and saved on my camera card. We ran out of ink in printing the applications, so also needed ink for the printer. We were less than a mile down the highway, when some IDIOT woman pulled out in front of us from a dirt side-road. She was looking RIGHT for traffic as she pulled directly into our 55 MPH path. Tom locked up the brakes and steered for the ditch. Hearing our tires squealing, she looked our way and gunned it. We missed her driver side rear quarter panel by inches.
Sheeesh! We got to WalMart, and their "instant" picture machine refused to read my camera card. Finally got a one-hour machine to accept it... and found out this Wal-mart didn't offer the ID/Passport sized pictures. I tried resizing and choosing the wallet sized pictures anyway.
So for an hour we wandered Wal-Marts and did our grocery shopping. At length, the pictures were done. It was apparent at once they were too large, even trimmed to the correct size.
Being near to Bella Vista, we headed down the road to CVS pharmacy, where they actually advertise doing instant passport photos. Once again, their machine failed to read my camera card. (I clearly need a new card!) We gave in and had CVS take our photos and print them... $11.99 each! (The Post Office charges $15.00) As we prepared to leave CVS, we remembered we were out of printer ink! ARGH! CVS didn't sell our brand. I found this very ironic... their photo kiosk is Kodak. Their photos printed out on Kodak film paper. yet they don't carry Kodak printer ink...
The CVS was closer to the Bentonville, AR, Wal-Mart than  Jane, MO.  So we headed to Bentonville. (Bella Vista, AR is sandwiched between Jane and Bentonville.) A quick in- and-out with the ink! As we left the store, I asked Tom if he had the postage stamps we had paid for when we bought groceries in Jane.
Sigh. He thought I had them. Back to Jane we went.
We eventually got home. I got the passport applications printed, and started gathering documents. Tom's freshly arrived birth certificate was right there, as I had made the appointment for the passport as soon as I got his document from the State of Ohio. My birth certificate was supposed to be in the important paper file. I looked THREE times... and in a panic of tears and frustration, started going through random piles of miscellaneous paperwork scattered through the house. This was even more upsetting, because I have been cleaning and there were only a couple of places to look! As I hyperventilated, Tom went to look in the thrice searched important paper file. He was back in moments with the document. Huge sigh of relief!
We got to the Post Office right on time for our appointment Monday. You'll not believe it... Tom's CVS passport photos were mis-sized. Unacceptable. He had to have the Post Office take his after all.
Yesterday necessitated a return trip to the Bella Vista CVS for a refund, which they did with very little aggravation. (Fortunately, Tom hadn't burned the receipt yet and we had been able to retrieve it from the trash!)

The weather is warming up... it IS June! We haven't yet had to turn on the AC, but I am sure the days without it will be short lived.
Dan and Sam are approaching 1400 miles and still going strong!
Some of the family missed my earlier blog post notice: No Camp CowGranny at this time. I just can't afford it. Sad Face :(
Have a blessed day. Time for me to get ready to fry some fish!