Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Hidden Treasure

I admit, there aren't a lot of things that convince me to drive to Fort Campbell, but this is one of them.   It's called Splash Park and it's free!  Many thanks to Christie Wall for informing me of this hidden treasure.  We've been twice now.  There is water spraying up everywhere and buckets tipping over on people constantly.  It's a great way to cool off, especially with the scorching heat just lately.  But, that's not all.  When the kids get sick of getting wet, they can dry off a bit and go to the giant regular park right next to it.  Then, when they get hot again, it's back to the water.  It's kind of a two-in-one.  And an extra added bonus is...meeting the Howes there who recently moved on-post.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Real Job

Jesikah has been trying to spread the word to a few people at church that she is turning 12 soon and is interested in babysitting jobs.  She is very good with kids and babies and is responsible too.  She was so excited when she got her first real babysitting job.  She babysat the Richards' kids at our house including the baby for a few hours three days in a row during the first week of June.  Of course, I was here to help and assist which turned out to be a very good thing because I was able to help train her on how to babysit and how to care for babies.  She was so receptive to everything I said that I truly enjoyed the days with her.  She was thrilled to be paid for something she loved, but she also learned that babysitting can be a lot of work.  It was a good experience for her.

This is Jesikah feeding the bottle to Loni...(one of the highlights for her)

Love that smirk!


Something to Contemplate

I always enjoy deep thought-out questions from my kids that also get me to contemplate things.  A couple of days ago Jarem asked me, "How did the devil turn bad?"  He continued in this same line of thought asking if the devil was ever good.

I'm not sure I've ever really thought about that before, at least not in that way.  I started telling him about how Satan and Jesus are really brothers and about the war in heaven and how Satan got kicked out.  Jarem was fascinated by this story and when I paused, he begged me to continue.  As I told him the story, it got me thinking about the damaging effects of anger, selfishness, and jealousy.  Heavenly Father's plan allowed us to gain a body and be tested to prove ourselves.  Jesus volunteered to be the Savior.  This included pure unselfishness and sacrifice on His part to offer himself as a Savior for us all.  Jesus said the glory would be the Father's.  On the other hand, Satan presented what he thought would be a better plan.  His plan would force us to do everything required to make it back to live with our Father in Heaven.  He felt it would be better because all would return to live with Him.  There would be no choices or proving ourselves.  In the end, Satan wanted all the glory for himself.  When Satan's plan was rejected, he was angry and rebelled.  I don't know exactly what he did to rebel, but I know that part of it included rallying up support with the other spirit children.  In the end, he was kicked out of Our Father's presence along with 1/3 of the hosts of heaven. He is still trying to rally support here on earth.  He (and they) gave up the chance to gain a body, the chance for marriage, and the ability for increase with this decision.  He wants everyone to be unhappy as he is.  After sharing the story, Jarem was thoughtful.

The next day, I told Jarem that he needed to clean his room.  He said, "Are you forcing me to do it, because that's Satan's plan?".  I said, "No, you have a choice.  But if you don't do it you will get the consequence of no privileges."  He was content to continue his cleaning.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tessa's Birthday-Part 2

These were the pictures taken with Eric's camera.  Some of them were taken after my camera went on the fritz.

Below, Tessa is opening an American Girl outfit and then Jesikah displays it.
Tessa got another Lego house.  She was excited.  Now they have a little Lego house village.  Below she is blowing out her candles.  It took her a couple of tries to get them all.

Tessa's dinner of choice: pulled pork sandwiches

Tessa picked this face for her piece of cake.  This was the face she requested to be on the cake.  She had drawn it on a piece of paper for me.  She said it was Katara's face in the Avatar cartoon when she told her mommy that she was scared.  Funny that she wanted that, but Tessa is not your typical girl.  She likes things out of the ordinary! :)

The party guests

Alex observing the gift opening

And look who can pour milk all by himself now!

Tessa's Birthday...part one

Well, I was finally able to access my pictures and get on the internet on the same computer! I am so excited! We've had our main computer in the playroom downstairs ever since our office flooded.  The internet reception there wasn't good and continued to get worse until the internet wasn't working at all. Well, the good news is, the office finally is repaired, painted and just like new so we moved our stuff back in last night. I was afraid to check at first because I wasn't certain the problem would be fixed, but the internet works again!! YEAH!

So, here is Tessa's birthday, part one:

Tessa's birthday was June 5 and she turned 9!  I'm late posting due to the problems mentioned above.  Tessa planned her meals for the whole day: for breakfast we had raspberry almond crepes, lunch was hot dogs, and dinner was pulled pork sandwiches. So, we let her open most of her presents at breakfast so she'd have all day to play with her new toys.

Here is Alex first thing in the morning.  Impatient for the crepes, so he's having cereal while he waits.  He's trying to hide from the camera as usual. :) This was the morning after he got back from the 50-mile hike, so he wasn't really in the best of moods.  He was sore, sun-burned, and sleep-deprived!!

And here's the birthday girl...

She got a few bakugans. It's a weird present for a girl (I know) but that is what she wanted. One of their friends have some and they think they are their "pets" kind of like the pet shops.

Opening more presents...

Here's a card from Jesikah going along with the cake theme. In fact, I copied some of her faces from the card for the cake

Back of the card

Cute little cow petshop with an ice cream shop

This cake did not turn out so well.  It was supposed to be a lemon angel food cake from a recipe we found with creamy lemonade icing and crushed lemonheads.  Sounds good, right?  Tessa wanted funny faces on her cake.  Problem #1:  I didn't have any type of  bottle to turn the cake upside into when it came out of the oven, so it shrunk. Problem #2: Jesikah and I brilliantly made all these faces on wax paper and froze them so we could quickly transfer them. As it turned out, the frosting was still too soft after being frozen and wouldn't come off the wax paper so we ended up cutting around the faces on the wax paper and putting the faces WITH the wax paper on the cake.  You couldn't tell though until you cut into it.  Then they had to be removed.  

At least it tasted good!  Regardless of the problems, Tessa was still happy! 

I'm thankful for an easygoing child that doesn't let things like that bother her.  She's everyone's favorite playmate at home.  She's kind, thoughtful, and loving.  She plays with Jarem so well and teaches him all kinds of interesting facts that he is always reciting to me.  And she is usually excited and happy about everything.  She is a companion to Jesikah also.  She brings peace and harmony to our home. 

After this last cake picture, my camera started having a problem with the memory card, so this was the last picture with my camera.  However, we took more pictures with Eric's camera that I will include in part 2.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What's Been Going On...

This is just a little update on what's been going on:  
(1) Camera Trouble: I haven't been able to take pictures lately because my camera's CF card says it needs to be replaced and so any pictures I take are corrupted.  I haven't gotten over to pick up a new card.  Also, my computer that I edit and store my pictures will no longer connect to the internet for any extended period of time...it is very intermittent which makes it nearly impossible to upload pictures.  These 2 things are causing my delays in blogging lately.  I still have several pictures that I've edited and not posted yet.  It's not a problem with the internet itself  because the rest of our house seems to get it fine.  I think it may be a Windows Vista issue.

(2) Cable Free: Last week I cancelled our cable TV service.  Eric and I decided that the kids were watching too much TV, and with the TV downstairs, it's easy for them to sneak in some shows without us being aware.  Not only that, but they were starting to not allow others to watch "their shows" and it was causing fighting. Also, the sassiness was beginning again with the Disney Channel increase.  And last but not least, we realized we were paying $80 a month for something we were constantly trying to monitor,and  it just wasn't worth it.  I've never been a TV watcher.  I didn't grow up watching TV, and although there are some shows I enjoy, it has never been a way that I've chosen to spend my time.  So, we went cable-free and I'm loving it.  They kids are being more creative in coming up with things to do and playing together.  One game they were playing the other day was the "dark game".  They turned all the lights off in the room downstairs that has no windows,(and no furniture right now either) and then they were playing hide and seek trying to find each other in the dark.  This was a favorite game of my siblings and I as kids.  We did it downstairs sometimes, but our favorite place was in my dad's concrete tire warehouse that didn't have any windows.  We even played that with friends sometimes.  Those were fun times.  Now, I have to admit we didn't completely leave the TV behind because we did sign up for Netflix and with that purchased a blu-ray player that works with Netflix streaming.  Netflix is awesome and only $8.99 a month so... we do still get some TV, but no commercials  and you can monitor what is in your queue.  Definitely an upgrade in my opinion.  We watched our first blu-ray movie the other day...Avatar.  Wow, the graphics were amazing!

(3) Cuddle Time: A couple of  weeks ago I told Jarem that he is old enough now that he shouldn't be coming and sleeping in my bed several times a week.  He'd go to sleep in his own bed and then come and get in our bed about 2-4am.  Then I'd wake up all stiff and I'd get all hot and sweaty because I'd be nestled between Eric and Jarem since he always got in on my side.  Well, he's a cuddly little boy, so as a compromise, I told him that he can come and get in my bed after it gets light in the morning  and have a little cuddle time before we get up.  I don't know how he does it, but as soon as it gets light (which has been about 5:50am), he is headed into our room every morning.  There was one morning that I got up earlier than normal and Jarem was SO sad that he missed his "cuddle time".  He really looks forward to that time.

(4) Parenting Class and Token Economy: Our church has been offering this parenting class based on James Jones'  "Let's Fix the Kids" program.  Christie Wall is teaching it, and she asked me to help her teach it initially, but I haven't really taught much.  However...I'm so grateful that she got me involved because I have learned so much from her.  This is a really awesome program.  We started the "token economy" program with our kids when summer began.  The idea is to pay your kids for things they already do around the house and of course you can add jobs too.  Then, you bump up what they are responsible to pay for.  For example, our kids will now be paying for half of their clothing and they will also pay for anything else they would like to have or do.  This eliminates begging,, it teaches them to manage their money, and it gets a lot more done around the house.  It has been an awesome program and so many things that I had to nag them for in the past, they just do now because the rules and schedules are set up and they have the motivation.  I'd like to blog about some specifics that I've learned in the parenting class soon since this is the last week, but it sufficeth to say that it has given me some great tools  as a parent and has been very successful so far in our family.  Eric has attended several of the classes also, so we can be doing this together.  I also have learned to communicate better and to give natural  consequences in an effective way that even works with my teenager.  More on that later though...

As far as other stuff, we've been having a great summer, but pretty laid back too.  The girls started out with basketball camp and Alex and Eric did a 50-mile hike with the scout group.  Since then, the kids and I usually try to do one activity per day whether it be free movies, free bowling, swimming, or parks, it has kept us occupied but still given us down time too.  They have also worked in friend dates as well.  We've almost completed everyone's physicals and dentist appointments, so it's nice to have  that about done.  One thing I haven't' done that I normally do is plan time for school work everyday.  I just haven't been motivated to make them to school stuff this year, but I'd like to incorporate a little reading or study time each day if only for 1/2 an hour or so. I think it really does give them a head start in the fall.

Well, enough ramblings for tonight...more later :)

Monday, June 21, 2010


Just for an update on the Japanese Beetle problem.  I started researching what to do.  I got one of these bags where there is a bait on top and then the beetles drop into the bag.  I filled 3 of these bags in just over a week.  We are talking THOUSANDS of these things!  Notice how the above bag is dragging the ground because of the weight.  Normally it is one to two feet off the ground.

I have to say that I was proud of my own resourcefulness. :) When I came home after buying three different items for the bug bag and still was missing a piece (you have to buy the bait, the bag, the stand, and the thing the bait goes on each in a different package).  I was missing the piece that you put the bait on where the bag attaches.  I decided I was not going back to the store, I would make it work.  So, I got a milk jug out of our recycle box, cut the bottom off, then I cut four little spiral things on each side to attach the bag and hung it.  It has worked perfectly.

This picture is just to give you an idea of the number of bugs in a bag.  When I go out there to change the bags, I get attacked by the beetles all around, and the bag really smells too.  Even after this though and the spray I bought at Lowes, there were definitely fewer, but we still had more beetles around than I liked.  What finally did the trick...

The HomeShield guy came by to do his treatment that they do around our house every other month.  I asked him if they have a service that will spray for trees and shrubbery for Japanese beetles.  He said that they don't have a service, but that he'd just do it while he was spraying around the house.  He sprayed all my roses, the hibiscus, and the two trees.  Guess what, that was all it took...no more beetles and he didn't charge me extra either!  I love HomeShield!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Losing my Marbles

Last week, I had a dentist appointment for a filling.  We were meeting the Howes at the bowling alley before the appointment and I warned the kids we would only have time to play one game before I had to leave to take them home to get to my appointment.  Linda graciously offered to take the kids home if I let them stay and play a second game with her kids, and of course the kids wanted to stay, so I agreed.  I left the bowling alley on time and got to my appointment about 5 minutes early.  When I went to check in, the receptionist immediately said that I was really early.  I was confused and asked what time my appointment was.  She said 3:00 and I was there at 2:00.  She tried to make me feel better by explaining to the full waiting room that I had A LOT of kids.

What made it even worse was the fact that I had showed up to my 2:30 appointment at 9:30am the week before.  I think that woman really does think I'm losing my marbles...but at least I have my kids to blame for it, right? :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010


This growing season, I have found a new flower that I love...hibiscus!  I have never lived somewhere warm enough for these, but I bought two of the hibiscus trees/topiaries at Sam's for around $13 each and put them out on the deck this spring.  These have been beautiful with multiple blossoms all the time.  These pictures were taken before the Japanese beetles showed up, but they since putting out the bag and spraying, they are recovering from the craziness.


It's interesting how so many things can be different when you move to a different area even in the same country.  This was one thing I had never seen or even heard of until we moved out here...sinkholes.  Sinkholes are part of life in Tennessee.  This one was in the doctor's parking lot when I took Jarem for his physical last week.  There have been several sink holes found in our neighborhood...one very big one.  A sinkhole is an area that just suddenly starts sinking due to underground caves formed when water dissolves limestone in the aquifer.  A few weeks ago I was sitting at the car dealership while waiting for an oil change and this particular day, there were two new sinkholes in major roads in Tennessee on the news that morning.  I was really surprised.  While they are very interesting to me, I certainly hope it doesn't start sinking next to or under my house. ;)  The worst part is that insurance companies don't cover sinkholes unless you pay A LOT more, so we don't have the coverage as most people don't.

Interesting diagram about the making of a sinkhole

This was a picture I found on the internet...I couldn't believe how big this one was.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

They've Arrived...and Officially Taken Over!!!

The Japanese beetles have arrived and they are taking over the place literally!!  I have read that they usually show up mid-to late June and stick around through mid-August.  I guess they showed up early...yippee!  The Japanese beetle is a highly destructive plant pest that can be very difficult and expensive to control.  I noticed them for the first time two nights ago, and they are everywhere.  I was NOT happy!  They were all over my weeping cherry tree, my two hibiscus trees, my roses and they've now discovered my Japanese maple (go figure) :).  Not only that, but all the ones I saw were not only eating, but mating, which means there is only going to be more soon!

Within a very few days time, they have munched a full branch of new growth on my weeping cherry tree to merely leaf skeletons, and they are working on more now.  They are munching through my hibiscus buds and eating my rose buds and leaves.  They've successfully eaten most all of the buds on both my roses and my hibiscus including the leaves.  I shook the tree, and a whole swarm of them flew out.  These are out of control in Tennessee right now.  I have to do something about these things and quick if I want any trees or flowers left by next week.  I picked up some Japanese beetle traps yesterday at Lowe's along with some bug spray that is supposed to take care of Japanese beetles.  I sprayed my plants with the spray and put the bug traps out.  I've already caught several in the bag.  I don't see many on my plants tonight so I hope it's working!  I will take pictures later of the bug bag.  It's very interesting but seems to work as long as it isn't drawing them from elsewhere other than my yard.  Those things go crazy over the bait...they were swarming me while I was putting the bag out. I guess it's a combination of pheromones and floral scent.

Here's the new shoot on my weeping cherry that has been completely eaten.

I couldn't get this picture in focus because of the close-up, but if you look closely you can see all the beetles in this one hibiscus bud.  There were probably about 10.  The piece to the right is what's left of the flower/bud.  So frustrating, and they are like this on all the buds.

Here's a couple of buds that they just started boring into...see the holes right through the middle.

Here's a flower they have been working on...it's sad to see the amount of damage they can do in such a short time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chilly Garden Pizza

Can't get your kids to eat veggies?  You've gotta try this recipe.  It is LOADED with fresh vegetables and my family loves it.  It makes a nice healthy lunch and there's no cooking involved so it's perfect for summer.  It takes only about 15 minutes to prepare start to finish.  I found this recipe in my new Betty Crocker Cookbook for Women.  I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago, and the kids and Eric were a little unsure at first, but after trying it, they loved it.  I've made it several times since and what's most surprising to me is that Alex (my pickiest eater) LOVES it.  The other day I made it when some of his friends were here along with a regular baked pizza.  He was bragging to his friends about how good this was and how they had to try.  This particular day, he ate probably 5 slices of the veggie one and none of the other one.  It's rare that I get a compliment on a meal from this child, so I was quite flattered when he bragged it up to his friends. :)  He begs for everyone else's share everytime I make it.  Funny thing is, Alex always talks about how he hates spinach, but with the spinach chopped, I'm pretty sure he doesn't even know it's spinach.  The other kids and Eric all like it too.

Chilly Garden Pizza

1 container (6.5) 50% less fat garlic and herb spreadable cheese (As a substitute, I combined 8 oz of cream cheese with 2-3 T of Johnny's Garlic Bread Seasoning and made 2 pizzas with it-yum!)
1 pkg (10 oz) prebaked thin Italian pizza crust (12 inch) **I buy several at a time and freeze them so I have them on-hand**
1 cup chopped spinach
3/4 cup diced seeded cucumber
1 large tomato, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded carrots

1. Spread cheese over pizza crust
2. Top with spinach, cucumber, tomato, mushrooms, and basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with carrots.

I just started my own herb garden out on my deck and I'm always trying to find ways to use my herbs now.  I love the taste of the fresh basil on this pizza.  In the picture I used flat bread, but I prefer the pizza crust that it calls for.