Sunday, August 31, 2008
If you aren't interested in the entire article you might find the part about her latest labor and delivery inspiring.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
"What is going on, Prairie Mama?" you ask. Strap on your chaps, saddle up your ponies, and come along for the Smokey Mountain cowgirl's ride.
A wild fire started burning 30 miles from our sister ranch a month ago. As the weeks have passed the fire has burned closer and closer to the ranch. This is the ranch that The Prairie Daddy grew up on, we got married at, and Dad runs. Mom and Dad live at the base of the canyon; spread out over 8 miles you will find a few other homes, a lodge, corrals, etc. The ranch lies in a beautiful valley between mountains.
I think it was last week or the week before they decided it would be best to move the cows and calves from the west side of the ranch's leased forest land to the east. This would put the cows and calves in the farthest pasture from the fire. Two weeks ago there was barely a thought that the fire would make it's way all the way down to the ranch. All that has changed quickly.
Yesterday morning The Prairie Daddy and I loaded up in the pick up with saddles and a horse with very little notice. We dropped The Prairie Kid off with a friend and headed to the east base of the mountain where the cows were grazing. We met up with 7 other guys and we all mounted up and took off for a trek to round up cows and calves. The fire was moving closer to the area and it was not safe to keep the cattle up there any longer. Engines, personnel, etc. have been strategically placed all along the ranch at the buildings and prevention measures are taking place to protect houses and structures from the fire. My sister-in-laws all helped Mom pack up heirloom furniture, china, photos, paintings and more to take to town. Foil fire sheets were wrapped around a cabin in the forest and around the hay shed at Mom and Dad's.
Yesterday was a long day of riding. The 198 +/- cows and their 198 +/- calves were taken several miles (I am guesstimating it was about 10) down off the mountain and into another ranch. That ranch was nice enough to let us rest the cattle for the night and then start back up today. We had to move the cattle another 5 miles this morning and then start sorting and trailering them for the long haul to our ranch. There were 10 trucks and trailers running cattle to our place. We started at 1:15 this afternoon and the last of the cows were emptied off of the trailer at 6:15 tonight. Altogether there were 25 round trips with cattle!
The winds have been horrendous and the fire is moving in on the ranch. The smoke today was absolutely terrible and ash was falling from the sky. When I looked back on the mountain where we were yesterday I realized how blessed we are to have gotten those cattle down and not been up there today. Everything felt so erie as the smoke settled on us today; it was lying on the ground and the air carried a tint of yellow. The visibility was poor and as we drove to our place and looked back we could see huge plumes of smoke billowing out of the forest.
I wish I had my own pictures to show you but we were working way too hard to take time out for pics. I think that total I rode a horse for 7 hours in these two days. I drove my first large trailer (fifth wheel) down a very steep and winding mountain road. We spent 8 1/2 hours in the truck today going back and forth with cattle. I ate several pounds of red dirt and gray dust, inhaled more smoke than I should, and feel muscles I didn't know I had (and am not sure I wanted to!).
I asked The Prairie Daddy if he thinks I earned my keep these two days. He agreed that he would keep feeding me for a little while longer. : )
The cows and calves are now safely in our corrals and tomorrow we may bring all of the horses down from the other ranch. No one has been evacuated and there is plenty of fire personnel to keep the place safe. Now it is just time to pray and wait. Tomorrow is supposed to be another windy day but I think our little life on the prairie will prove to be a bit calmer.
If you want to see some pictures of the fire you can see a video slide show at www.codyenterprise.com. The fire is called the Gunbarrel fire because it stared in Gunbarrel Creek. It has now burned over 58,000 acres and is the largest uncontained wildfire burning in the United States as far as I know.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I am not one to remain defeated. And although there might have been a cake-destroying force in my kitchen, I walk in victory.
Seeing as how it was The Prairie Daddy's birthday yesterday and I was way too grimy and short on time to go to town for supper, I had a job to do: create a birthday feast.
I was tempted to doll up the table with fancy napkins, candles and what not and then I remembered "it's not my birthday, it's his birthday. What would he want?" And I then had a semi-miraculous "ah-ha moment." TV TRAYS!!!
So, I "set" his TV tray with a paper napkin and no candles.
And then I accomplished the day's first successful experience out of the oven Puff Pastry with a Goat Cheese Filling:
Here is where I have to humbly admit I did not make these. I baked them. The Culinary Master sister made them for my mom's wedding and I found them "floating" around the freezer yesterday. I will claim the egg wash, the not-over baking, the making it on a plate (not the floor), and eating my fair share!
Now I can claim the following:
This was a very carefully prepared main dish. I even spent some time researching online the best way to prepare a venison fillet wrapped in bacon. I learned stuff too! Venison is much better cooked at a high temperature for a short time or it can become bitter/gamey (unless you are slow cooking the tougher cuts). And a little Worcestershire and garlic salt compliments it nicely. I made sure to pull them off the grill 5 degrees before they were medium rare so that they could "rest" under tented foil and be at the optimal palatability. And let me tell you, they were!
The broccoli is called "Broccoli Blasted." Thanks to my other sister this is now a family favorite. You take the raw broccoli, shake it in a bag with olive oil, garlic and kosher salt, place it on a baking sheet and bake it on 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. It does begin to "burn" and even though that sounds undesirable it is awesome! It gets crunchy and the taste is great!
Now is where I will humble myself again and show you the drink I made The Prairie Daddy. It isn't near as posh as the rest of the meal:
That is a kool-aid slushy. I was thinking of what The Prairie Daddy would want for his birthday.
So, there was my culinary redemption for yesterday.
Now let us not forget that I had a cake to decorate first thing this morning. I was sad again when I opened up the freezer and saw my pathetic, shrunken carrot cake:
And as the cake came to life, so did Elmo!And then, it was accomplished, without a 3 year old's fingers getting into it. Or his "I am pretending to be on the men's Olympic volleyball team" digs and spikes about the kitchen as I ranted "please take the ball onto the carpet or outside! Don't you want a pretty cake?"
And this is what all of my flops and foes were all about this past few days:
I would drop, flop, flip, or dip a cake (or three) again in a heart beat for this heart breaker and his daddy!
Oh, and the restoration? I HAVE A CLEAN KITCHEN AGAIN! HOORAY!!!!
I am redeemed and restored.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I realized at this point that my oven was TRASHED. And I am not one to clean my oven. So I decided that it was a good time to set the self-cleaning mode! And when that wrapped up I could try again on the whole carrot cake thing (with a new recipe and a 9x13" pan). I didn't get before self-cleaning pics for you but this is still worth sharing:
Do you think my sister's cafe and catering business is ready to hire me as their baker?
I did go ahead with the second try. And this time everything was turning out great. One very important part of the recipe that I took note of was this "Do Not Over Bake." And I had my timer set 5 minutes before the check time so that I wouldn't make this mistake! So, although I was on the phone with a girlfriend when the timer went off, I grabbed my toothpick and checked my cake. And it needed just a bit longer.
I continued my phone conversation and when I finished it and hung up I realized it had been 15 minutes since I checked my cake and I hadn't re-set the timer! OH NO! I went to the oven and opened the door. THANK GOD IT WASN'T BLACK! But it was dried out much, much more than I had planned. And it shrunk down. SHOOT! Will this even be big enough now to feed everyone? I let it cool, wrapped it up and stuck it in the freezer.
Today The Prairie Daddy asked me if I was going to make another cake for tomorrow. "If you go to the barn and get me some more eggs I will have enough to make an angel food cake." So he and The Prairie Kid headed down to the barn. This must mean that The Prairie Daddy wants an angel food cake!
After I got The Prairie Kid down for a nap I was able to head into the kitchen again. I carefully, very, very carefully followed the instructions. I even sifted the cake flour and sugar together 3 times, just like the recipe said. I gently folded the dry ingredients into the stiff-peaked egg batter. I softly smoothed the top of the batter in the 10" tube pan. I put it in the oven and set the timer. I was ready to re-conquer.
And when the timer went off and I wanted to give it 5 more minutes; I shut the oven off and re-set the timer for 5 more minutes.
And it looked perfect. It was time to invert it on a bottle. But the bottle I had was too big at the top. So I headed for another bottle across the kitchen. And...
There is my angel food cake...completely obliterated all over my....kitchen floor.
I quit. I give up. I am done. I am not baking another cake for this party tomorrow! I will decorate my dried up, frozen carrot cake and I don't care what it looks like...it's going to the party! And I don't care what it tastes like! It will be better than the crunchy dirt that this angel food cake has impressed into it.
Did you remember that I am a Home Economics teacher by trade? Well, let me humbly say that the only thing resembling my classroom this week in my kitchen is the mess that my 7th grade Life Skills students used to make on their first day in the cooking unit.
Jeremiah 17:9a "The heart is deceitful above all things..."
What did this mean to me? It made me realize that I often choose to respond to life and people based upon my feelings instead of the truth. Now I always try to see the truth when I analyze things however I realize that my feelings distort the truth. The study talked about it this way: our feelings can be in conflict with our calling. My calling is to live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control through Christ. My heart conflicts this when my feelings tempt me to react in ways that are contrary to the above characteristics.
The relief I find in this realization is that I don't have to figure this all out on my own! Whew! One of the greatest differences between a faith based on God's grace and power versus a religion based on good deeds is if I could do it myself I wouldn't need God! My relationship with the Lord started when I admitted "I need help". What a relief that the Lord desires to provide all we need when we just admit our need and accept His help.
I will look forward to the process of God doing His great work in my heart regarding my feelings verses my calling. I know that after He reveals something to me that needs work (which I often pray for Him to do because I sure don't want to stay the way I am!) then He will begin the process of cleaning out the wound and healing it up. Yea! Is it pretty? Nope. Is it painful? Yep. But I would much rather endure the pain of cleansing then the pain of staying in a rotting, wounded state.
Here is a song that I love that speaks of this awesome process that I am learning to better embrace. You might have heard it a few weeks ago playing automatically on my blog:
The key words that I think describe this awesome process of "wound cleaning" are
"at the cross You beckon me. You draw me gently to my knees and I am lost for words, so lost in love, I'm sweetly broken, wholly surrendered."
If you knew that someone you loved had a festering, infected wound under their skin would you leave them in that state? Or would you find them help? The Lord loves me enough to help me out of such a state with the wounds of life. He knows how to choose just the right wound, at just the right time, to gently open up, clean out and heal. I know that I have a choice in the matter though. We all do. We don't have a forceful Father. We have a Father who patiently waits and hopes that we will accept His offer. We can choose to surrender to that sweet brokeness that takes place before healing or we can resist it and stay in a wounded place. Lord, may I never resist the healing that You want to provide in my life.
Now back to that negativity stuff that I mentioned in the very beginning of this post before my very deep and long detour. I don't think I have a clue as to how blessed I am. I am blessed; blessed beyond my understanding. I often read a blog about some projects taking place in Mozambique just to keep myself in check with my gratitude (or lack there of). If you want to check it out click "Pam" under my friend's list. Sometimes I will take my prayer journal and just thank God for everything that I can think of that He has blessed me with. And I also pray that He will show me how I can share those blessings with others. Maybe some day I will be in Mozambique taking a cup of soup and a dose of love to a woman dying of AIDS. Until then I will look for opportunities to share blessings from right where I am at.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We did have The Prairie Kid open up some presents though. And he already went in for his "3 year check up." He is a whopping 3'4" tall and is just under 40 pounds! That puts him in the 97% on weight and 96% on height. I think he is in WAY too big a' hurry to grow up!
Let's look back 3 years ago.
Sigh, again.Now, I have something really special for you...in fact, it is pretty much like a birthday present for each of you. This is some funny stuff I'd say. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. You know we've wondered about The Prairie Kid's amazing talent with sports, especially baseball, but this makes me wonder about a future in the music industry! Maybe he'll be a baseball player who plays the guitar and sings as he runs the bases. Hmmm.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I put a little movie together for you so you could see some of what we saw.
After our boat trip we drove up into the Big Horn Mountains. It was perfect timing for wildlife viewing because it was just at dusk. In 30 minutes we saw 7 moose! And at the base of the Big Horns we saw an amazing full moon. The video doesn't do it justice.
We had a quick dinner at 9pm in Shell and headed home. Sunday was a relaxing day around the house with a movie, games, and junk food! A special thanks goes out to both of the Auntie's and the Nephew that made our weekend possible. And you wore The Prairie Kid out so much he slept on the way home and asked to go immediately to bed when we got here last night. He didn't even get a second wind!
Prairie Daddy can we have another date weekend again soon? I miss you already!
We have two cats that are GREAT mousers outside. We haven't had mice problems for years! And now, we are INFESTED! I am going to gross you out in this next section. You have been forewarned!
Let me just list out what INFESTED means right now:
- mice running around in the walls behind our heads as we lay in bed!
- mice getting trapped in a wall on the other side of our bedroom and then dying and rotting!
- mice in the trap under the kitchen sink!
- mice running through our family room at night while we're hanging out!
- mice in our trash can eating The Prairie Kid's dirty diapers!
You might be thinking "Ooooh! Gross! The Prairie Family is disgusting! They've got mice and smells all over their house! That's just sick!" Believe you me, it IS sick and I wish there was an easy solution. I just want to take a moment to remind you that we live in the middle of the prairie. That means other than our house there isn't another warm, cuddly structure to hide in within two miles! We can't help it! I didn't choose it! We have traps out! We have cats! We even cut a hole in the wall to see if we could prevent the trapping, dying, and rotting. It didn't work! We put air freshener plug-ins by our bedroom to help relieve the fragrant odors lurking in the deep dark. We put peanut butter on the traps. IT ISN'T WORKING!!!
But instead of dwelling on the disgusting, horrible infestation, I do what I always do...
TAKE PICTURES AND ENTERTAIN YOU AT MY EXPENSE ON MY BLOG!
Yes, I asked The Prairie Daddy to let him go. It isn't my problem if they get killed in a trap but I don't like the thought of killing them with our own hands. If this mouse is stupid enough to come back then he'll likely find one of the traps because there will be more around next time.
Don't you love that I am willing to share the good, the bad, and the gross and stinky with you? At least you will know that The Prairie Life isn't all glamour and glitz. (Oh, sometimes I just crack myself up).
Friday, August 15, 2008
I was really thinking there was no way I would be able to get the toothpaste out of the carpet. Thankfully we have a Dirt Devil Carpet Scrubber and without too much hassle it did the trick. I don't think it would've come out if it had dried out much.
I think I'll try to stick to mowing while The Toothpaste-Loving Prairie Kid is taking a nap.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Grandpa got The Prairie Kid's nephews this John Deere gator years ago. They've long since outgrown it and now it is The Prairie Kid's turn. He looks so cute in it but The Prairie Daddy is going to do a little work on it so that it doesn't spin it's wheels so much.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
You have become one of my best friends and biggest cheerleaders. Thank you for always listening and being there for me. I treasure our relationship. You are a beautiful woman in so many ways. You are loyal, dedicated, smart, passionate and hard working. You are sensitive, fun, humble and caring. And I think you're a super mom. I love you.
And so does The Prairie Kid. And he wanted to share that love with you today, however in the clip below you will soon find out he is also sharing that birthday love with another family member as well. There is a little confusion around here with several birthdays happening this month but we know you'll understand. I wish you could have been around all week as he repeatedly sang you happy birthday. It is his favorite song these days. He is now beginning to sing it to himself.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
It is Saturday morning and I have been up since 6:30. That is not normal, or enjoyable for this loves-to-sleep-in Mama. However, I am on a routine now. That makes me feel like turning 30 has changed me. This is not something I have experienced before. Along with waking up early, I am feeling old because every day this week the clothes were neatly laid out before bed for the next day, I woke up before I was supposed to, I was in the car early, and to VBS well before I needed to be EVERY DAY! When I was young (you know, like when I was 29) I would have been able to get up early the first day and then I would have been late and scrambling by the end. And I would have slept until at least 9 on a Saturday morning.
Breaking News #2: VBS Slaughters Proper Eating Habits
On Monday I ate leftover pizza for breakfast.
On Wednesday morning I ate leftover Taco Bell for breakfast in the car on the way to VBS.
On Wednesday evening I greeted the Prairie Daddy at the door. "I have been naughty," I confessed. "I ate cheesecake and Cheetos for dinner at 4pm. And I didn't cook you any supper. But, there is more cheesecake and Cheetos if you want to come join me." And cheesecake and Cheetos is all I ate for dinner that night.
On Thursday I ate a 1/4 of a coconut cream pie before bed.
And on Friday:
Breakfast: 2 cookies (one was oatmeal raisin, which was healthier than the chocolate chip)and an iced latte
Lunch: A bag of pizza flavored Combos and a frappacino
Dinner: A hot dog (just the dog) as I drove home (I did eat some salad, a peach with Fiber One and some popcorn as I watched the Olympic opening celebration)
Wow. That VBS is not very diet friendly! This morning I made The Prairie Daddy and I a nice balanced breakfast.
Breaking News #3: Prairie Kid Blows Out Of VBS
I shared on Monday that The Prairie Kid had some issues at VBS the first day. Tuesday was even worse and Tuesday night my child was a total wreck. I realized that this was too much for him at this time. He is used to being in a house on the prairie with his Mommy all day, every day most of the week. Getting up early, driving 40 minutes, and then going through hours of stimulation with lots and lots of transitions, people changes, and organized chaos was too much.
I hired a babysitter Wednesday and Thursday and Friday The Prairie Kid went to Grandma's. Whew. That was much better.
Overall VBS was awesome. I enjoyed my preschoolers immensely and the team I got to work with was great. Over 140 kids participated throughout the week. It was fantabulous! AND I didn't have to deal with any more bodily fluids (until last night when a 3 month old baby blew green poo out of her diaper out all over her mom).
Breaking News #4: I Am Not In Seattle
I am sad about this news. I wanted to go to Seattle this weekend with the rest of my family to be able to celebrate my step-brother's wedding this afternoon. Ticket prices were outrageous and I decided that since The Prairie Daddy couldn't go I would save that ticket money for another time. Now knowing they're all there together makes me really sad. And one of my sister's birthday is on Tuesday and they'll all be there for that as well. : ( I miss you guys.
In Other News:
My friend Sarah is a missionary to Russia. Her blog name is under my "friends" list on the right. She is home with her parents now in Alaska and has had some unexpected things come up. Sarah had a routine physical when she went home for what she thought was a short visit. The doctor found a lump on her thyroid. Many more tests took place over the next 2 weeks and Sarah met with her doc yesterday. The test results were inconclusive and they have scheduled to remove her thyroid via surgery. There is a chance that Sarah has cancer but that is unknown at this time.
Please join me in praying for Sarah. Her heart is to be in Russia where she just finished her 2 years of language school. She was just getting ready to start the work that she has been called to do. May she be continually blessed by the peace and grace of God. I know she is already experiencing God's peace and patience but let's really lift her up.
A New Neighbor
Some friends of ours moved to Canada 2 1/2 years ago, had two adorable boys (who are now 1 and 2) and are now moving back. They have decided to rent a house on the ranch next to ours up the road! I am SO excited that they'll be living "next door." Okay, on the prairie "next door" really means about 4 miles but hey, who's counting? I hope that we'll be able to share our lives with our little boys together. It would benefit The Prairie Kid to have some continued camaraderie with other kids and develop more than a "see you at the church nursery" relationship. And, I could sure use the camaraderie with another Prairie Mom.
Lil' Miss Is Going Home
Lil' Miss will be traveling to Texas to be reunited with her mom this next week. We will say our goodbyes to her at church in the morning. I believe this is a good thing, they've been apart for almost a year. Let's pray that everything works out well for all of them and that Lil' Miss' grandparents are brave and strong and have peace as they let go.
I am Prairie Mama and this has been Weekly News. From all of us here on The Prairie, have a great weekend.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
After the survival kit we got serious. Before Jesus parted with His best friends he got down on his hands and knees and washed their feet to show his love for them (and there was a lot more meaning to it all as well that we won't get into now). It was my privilege to wash the feet of my beloved friend before her departure. And we prayed for her too. I figured this all would make her cry but it was me who was sobbing by the end!