Sunday, November 30, 2008

Introducing ...


Run, run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me ...
I'm the marshmallow man!

I'm happy to introduce my upcoming book, THE MARSHMALLOW MAN. It's a silly new twist to a classic old story. Follow the little old lady and all her hungry friends through the forest as they chase the mouth-watering man made from marshmallows. Will it end like all the others?

I was inspired to write this last year after the boys and I finished a week long study of The Gingerbread Man. Over the week we read 5 different versions of the story, including The Gingerbread Boy, The Gingerbread Baby and The Cajun Gingerbread Man. The boys compared the stories and did some fun projects to go with it. At the end of the week they made their own gingerbread men cookies. This got us talking about other versions and THE MARSHMALLOW MAN was born!

Stephen Macquignon is illustrating the story and he's given me permission to show you his first sketch of the little guy. Isn't he absolutely adorable? Stephen is a wonderful illustrator who has just recently finished another book called Angeline Jellybean, written by Crystalee Calderwood. It should be released soon, so I hope to have a review shortly. Stephen did a fantastic job illustrating it, so I was thrilled to have him bring THE MARSHMALLOW MAN to life. This book will not be out until late 2009 or 2010, but I couldn't wait to share it with you. It will be published by 4RV Publishing, LLC.

Run, run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch him ...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Poor Neil ...

The day after Thanksgiving, my six-year-old came down with a tummy bug. Poor Neil spent the entire day on the couch and in bed. He only ate one saltine cracker and had a couple sips of water all day. It's so hard seeing your babies sick like that. Being nauseated is the absolute worst feeling in the world and it always breaks my heart when my kids feel that way. He is feeling better now and is munching on saltines and drinking apple juice. He just told me that he "grew out of being sick", so I'm hoping he's on the mend. I am also hoping no one else gets it, but you never know. We're all just kind of waiting. This picture was taken in 2004 when he was 2 years old. It was taken at the National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier, Idaho. We stopped there on one of our trips to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. I love this picture, but can't believe how much Neil has grown in the past 4 years.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day of Discovery ...

Yesterday was a day of discovery at my house. It started off in the morning as I got out our Thanksgiving decorations to set the table. I found everything but the one thing I wanted most. Last year I made a Pilgrim Hat Centerpiece from Family Fun Magazine. It looked really cool with an autumn collection of flowers in it, so I wanted to use that as our centerpiece again. Rick & I tore through the downstairs closet, but didn't find everything we were looking for. Then I tore up the upstairs closet while Rick looked in the garage. Still, no centerpiece. Going through our downstairs closet is like Christmas to my boys. They had 3 or 4 huge boxes shoved in there with various toys that were never officially unpacked or that had gotten thrown in there out of frustration. They discovered all sorts of treasures like oodles of Hot Wheels cars, race tracks, GI Joe's long lost boot, and stuffed animals they thought they couldn't live without. Who needs Christmas when you have a closet like mine? Upstairs I made a huge mess in the hall, which you now couldn't walk through. I found my latch-hook rug kit. Remember those things? I loved doing them when I was younger. I have a huge leopard rug that I started years ago, but never finished. I knew it was in there, so it wasn't that big of a discovery, but at least I got it out so I can start working on it again. Way in back was the box where the roasting pan was in, so I pulled that out. I pulled everything out, but no centerpiece. Now the house was in shambles and we were trying to get our meal started, I was getting irritated. I went back downstairs to the closet of treasures, because by this point, that was the only place it could be. Sure enough, in a huge unmarked box, there it was. I also discovered our turkey games we made last year, one of which I posted a picture of yesterday. Inside the box was also a nativity the girls & I made during school many years ago. It was so unlike me to mix my holidays like that, but I guess that was the only box I could find for those big items. Anyway, I finally found my Pilgrim Hat Centerpiece and I got my table set, so all was well. The picture above is of the centerpiece from last year, but this year's looks pretty much the same.

The other big discovery for me yesterday was NaNaWriMo. I did it! I wrote 50,000 words in less than 30 days. I even had 3 days to spare. When I first began this project, I thought there was no way I could make that word count. I have only written picture books that range from 500 to 1000 words. The only exception was my one middle grade novel, which topped at 10,600 words. I thought there would be no way I could reach 50,000 words, but I did it. I received my winners web badges and printed up my certificate from NaNaWriMo, so that was cool and gave me a sense of accomplishment. Of course, the manuscript is long and drawn out and rambles, but with time I hope to clean it up and make it presentable. Just being able to reach my goal was a big discovery for me. And finally, the day before yesterday I began working on my upcoming website. Just getting this started and learning how to use the program was a discovery in itself. I hope to have the site up soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend. Don't forget to play some games like the Pilgrims and Indians did. Here's Neil with his "feed the turkey" game that we made last year. Nice jammies, huh? Happy Thanksgiving everyone and stay safe this holiday weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Got turkey?

One thing we have a lot of in our yard are turkeys. They're all over the place. Just recently I counted 22 turkeys wandering around. Turkeys are fun to watch. Unlike domestic turkeys, wild turkeys can fly. It's quite a sight to see one fly by the house, or see one perched high up in a tree. Toms are interesting because they're a lot more colorful than hens and they can be huge. Their heads are reddish, but can turn a vibrant blue in minutes when they are excited. They have a wattle on their neck and that funny thing hanging over their beak is called a snood. Those fleshy looking "things" on this turkey's neck are called caruncles. When the toms are excited they become engorged with blood and swell up -- ick. One cool fact about turkeys is that they can have 20,000 to 30,000 feathers -- that's a lot of plucking! Males have a beard of feathers than hang from the chest and can be 9 inches long. Toms can be heard gobbling up to a mile away. Hens can gobble, but they mostly yelp to let the toms know where they are. Turkeys have incredible eyesight. Because of this, I have a heck of a time getting good pictures. They take off running at the first sight or sound of danger, even if it's just me with a camera. It's commonly believed that Benjamin Franklin wished the turkey to be our national bird because of it's courage. Franklin said the bald eagle was a bird of bad moral character and that it didn't earn it's living honestly. I've seen bald eagles steal food from other birds, so I can see Franklin's point. Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same with a bald eagle on a platter. What kind of stuffing would you use? Does eagle go well with cranberry sauce? Sorry Ben.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nicole's Artwork

Nicole loves to read, write and draw. Whenever I do fun theme weeks for the boys in school, I usually have Nicole do some sort of drawing and poem to go with it. Some of these were from those weeks. She didn't want me to include any of her self-portraits, but those are really good. One that I really like in particular is of part of her face as seen in a small mirror. She really has a talent and I hope she keeps up with this. I posted this slideshow on my Multiply site last week, so I thought I would share it with you here too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's good to be king!

Have you ever tried King Leo soft peppermint sticks? Oh my gosh, these are so good! I remember buying them when I was little. I would find them at Kmart and they came in a little plastic bag. The other day I went into Staples to buy envelopes and I saw a big display of King Leo peppermint sticks in tins for $8.99 each. I bought 2 tins -- one for us and one for Rick to keep on his desk at work. If you like peppermint and you like candy canes and buttermints, you will love these. I know you can find them in places like Cost Plus World Market. I even saw a small box of them at TJ Maxx last night. Walmart sells little bags of soft peppermint sticks by the company called Bobs, who also is one of the biggest producers of candy canes. These are okay, but not anywhere close to King Leo's soft peppermint sticks. Also, if you like peppermint, Lindt Chocolates has a limited edition peppermint truffle that is pure heaven. I have a weakness for peppermint, obviously.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feel the burn!

If I were to chop off both my hands at this very moment, I'd feel better. Imagine sticking your hands into a campfire, rubbing them in the dirt and then sticking them back in the fire. That's how my hands feel. Last night I was shopping with my girls and my left hand was hurting something awful. It has been and I was blaming it on NaNo since I've been typing so much. I wandered around the store griping when I finally decided to buy a topical cream. I had a few tubes of Icy Hot at home, so I didn't want to get another one. I decided to try this stuff -- Capzasin HP. I knew it was pepper stuff, but I figured I could handle it. The thing is, I forgot to put it on before I started driving home, so I decided to do it while driving. Yes, while driving, in the dark! I thought I had squeezed out a tiny bit only to realize I had a GLOB on my hand. I rubbed some in and then wiped the rest off with a tissue. It started to heat up and I figured everything was fine. By the time I got home, my hands were on fire. No matter how much I washed my hands, it seemed to get worse. I finally read the instructions (well, duh!) and it said to use a thin layer on the affected area. No, it didn't say to GLOB it on as thick as possible. It also said to wash your hands immediately after applying. No, it didn't say to hang onto the steering wheel with greasy hands and hope a deer didn't come darting across the road. Duh again! I also touched my mouth, so my lips were burning. Taking off my make-up last night was a new experience in pain. Rick told me to use dish soap because it didn't have oil in it. I guess he would know with all the pepper spray he's sprayed and been sprayed with. I went to sleep with my hands burning, but when I woke up, they felt okay. Then I took a bath and got them wet and now they're on fire again. Surprisingly, the pain in my hand is gone, so this stuff works. I imagine it would be awesome on back pain. The moral of the story is -- READ THE DIRECTIONS BEFORE USE! Well duh ...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gooble! Gooble!

Gooble! Gooble! -- my poor daughter. Every November I give her a hard time about this. She did this drawing many years ago, but not one Thanksgiving goes by where I don't razz her about it. My boys have started saying "gooble gooble" because of the fuss we've made. Nicole is a great sport and this year she drew a really cute cartoon turkey with the word "Gooble?" coming out it's beak. It's just one of our family's fun little inside holiday jokes. We have turkeys here -- they say gooble, gooble!

Did you ever make handprint turkeys in school? I loved making these when I was little. We homeschool and every year we make them. This year I found printable handprint turkeys from Family Fun Magazine online. I printed up a few pages for the boys and they traced their hand and colored them in. Then they glued colorful feathers onto the fingers. It was a fun new twist on an old favorite craft project.

I really think Thanksgiving gets overlooked. By the time Halloween is over, most people start focusing on Christmas. They only take a break in the middle to indulge and overeat with one big meal. I like to use the month of November not only to teach the kids the real meaning of Thanksgiving, but also to do fun crafts with them. We've already had Corn Week and Turkey Week. There are only 3 days next week, but I'm planning on doing something with Pilgrims. If you haven't done your Thanksgiving dinner shopping yet, I wish you luck. This is a busy weekend for that. And finally, I would like to leave you with one happy thought -- Gooble! Gooble!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hello, hello!

Today is World Hello Day. Imagine that. What the heck is World Hello Day you might ask? Click here to find out. Think about it though -- how do you feel when a stranger walks by you, makes eye contact and says hello? It probably makes you feel pretty good. I grew up in southern California and people there shy away from making eye contact. It's not that they're rude; it's just a different way of life and people are less trusting. When I moved to Montana I was in culture shock. People made eye contact, they smiled and they said hello. When I drive down the street and see kids playing, they often stop to wave hello. And unlike CA, they're waving with all 5 fingers, not just one! I live on a private road with no outlet and everyone waves as they pass by. This isn't what I was used to. World Hello Day began as a response to the conflicts facing Egypt and Israel in 1973 and has been recognized by 180 countries. All you have to do is say hello to ten people. If you're out and about today, you can do that. So, I'd like to say HELLO to everyone reading this blog. I hope I get at least ten hellos back in replies. This won't solve the problems we face in the world today, but I imagine it would make people feel a little better. So -- hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello! And finally, if you would like a blast from the past type of hello, please click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lucid Dreaming

Have you heard the term lucid dreaming? A lucid dream is when a person is asleep and dreaming, but they know they're dreaming. Often times they can manipulate or change the dream's outcome. There is all sorts of information online and it can get pretty confusing. Some articles explain what lucid dreaming is, others go into how it happens and there are even suggestions on how to have lucid dreams and how to control what you dream about.

A few months ago some people were talking about nightmare-induced bestsellers on a message board and someone mentioned lucid dreaming. I knew I did this, but I never knew there was a name for it. For as long as I can remember, I've had dreams that were going a certain way and somehow I managed to change the outcome. A lot of times I've woken up completely and then gone back to sleep to continue the dream.

I did this the night before last. I was dreaming about a tiger that I thought was trying to get into my house to attack me. I dream about wildlife all the time, but it's almost always bears. We've had bears come right up to our glass doors and they could bust open the door if they tried, so I think that fear slips into my dreams a lot. The other night it wasn't bears, but tigers. The tiger had cubs and for whatever reason we were being terrorized by this thing. It was horrible. I woke up fully and told Rick all about it, much to his dismay because I tend to go on and on and on about my dreams. He left for work and then I went back to sleep and the dream started up again, but I changed how it was going. Instead of tigers, it was now mountain lions. I thought they were still trying to "get me" at first, but they weren't. In fact, I had a bunch of people show up for a party instead and everything was just fine. Now I don't know if this qualifies as lucid dreaming, but it's weird. I can remember doing this for a long time. Does anyone else do it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Oh great"

Did you read or hear about this story yesterday? Apparently, the mission was unflawed until this happened. I would hate to be in this woman's shoes, or moon boots. This is something she'll never live down. Mistakes like this follow you forever. I don't imagine she can run to the nearest Home Depot and replace a tool bag like that. Then later on, they noticed a screw floating by but couldn't catch it. Where did that come from? Aren't screws those little thingies that hold other thingies together? Poor Chicken Little is going to have a field day now. And if that's not bad enough, there's this story. I guess they should be thankful they didn't bring snakes up there. I had to laugh when they said the spider wasn't running amuck aboard the space station. Yeahrightsure. I can just picture that orb spider floating around the cabin, waving his eight arms around and singing, "Amuck, amuck, amuck!" in his best Sarah Jessica Parker impersonation from the movie "Hocus Pocus". Lost tool bags, floating screws and spiders on the lam. What's next? Speaking of space stuff, do you remember Food Sticks? I remember when these came out in the 1970s. The article on their history says they came in different flavors, but I think I only ate the chocolate ones. I remember loving these things back then. The videos are pretty funny to watch if you click on the link. Back to the astronauts though, I do give them credit. I don't think I could do what they do. It freaks me out to go up in the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas and the only thing that gets me through it is knowing there are Wheel-of-Fortune slot machines for me to play if I survive the trip back down. I don't think I could do this space stuff -- could you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Mickey!

It's hard to believe that Mickey Mouse is 80 years old today. Time has been good to the old mouse. I wonder what his secret is to look so young. Children? Cheese? Botox? Must be all the money he makes. This picture was taken in the early 90s and these are my girls. Nicole is the smallest one and Nichelle is the one with the curly hair. Too cute. However, unlike Mickey Mouse, my girls have gotten older and now they're now as tall as me. Today seems as good as anyday to eat cake in Mickey's honor!
Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Homemade Bread Day

Yes, we have another wonderful unofficial holiday upon us -- Homemade Bread Day! Now if that's not exciting, then I don't know what is. I have fond memories of my grandmother baking bread when I was a little girl. I loved watching her knead the dough back and forth. The smell of the bread baking was enough to make you drool. Now many people use bread machines which are a whole lot easier, of course. My husband likes baking bread this way. As for me, well, you all know what a crock-pot fanatic I am. Awhile back I tried a recipe for bread in my slow cooker and it turned out really good. I put it right in the crock, not in a separate pan like most recipes say to. I cooked it in a 6-quart cooker and it turned out really good.


  • 2/3 cup powdered milk
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • dry active yeast (1 envelope or 2-1/4 tsp)
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup flour

Directions: Dissolve powdered milk in warm water and then combine with oil, honey, salt, yeast and have of both flours. Beat on low for 2 minutes with an electric mixer until combined. Place dough in a greased 4-6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Remove stoneware from cooker and allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing. Serve with honey, butter or jam. Mmmmm!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Taja the Tiger

A few days ago Adrienne posted a picture of an adorable lion cub on her blog. It reminded me of a picture I have. My husband Rick worked for the sheriff's department for over 20 years in California. Every year the department sponsored a bike rodeo where kids in the community could bring in their bikes for inspection along with other fun things for kids to do regarding bike safety. The one year I decided not to go, a local animal rescue group showed up with exotic animals for kids to see. No one was allowed to touch the animals, but Rick knew the people and they made an exception just for him. This picture is of Taja and Rick, which appeared in the local newspaper. Now keep in mind that my all time favorite animal in the entire world are tigers. I absolutely love them. My bedroom is decorated in a tiger theme with items I've been collecting for years. So it was just typical that the one time I decide not to go, this happens -- go figure.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Chicken


SARAH PALIN: Before it got to the other side, I shot the chicken, cleaned and dressed it, and had chicken burgers for lunch.
BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change!
JOHN McCAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.
HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.
GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.
DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?
COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.
BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of chicken?
AL GORE: I invented the chicken.
JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now and will remain against it.
AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.
DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken doesn't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.
OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed access to the other side of the road.
NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.
PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.
MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.
DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.
GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.
BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.
ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.
JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.
BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken 2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken 2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash or need to be rebooted.
ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?
COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

World Kindness Day

Today is World Kindness Day. Of course, I'd rather it be Eat Cookies All Day or Bring Your Favorite Childhood Candy To Work Day, but those holidays will have to wait until someone decides to include them in the crazy list of unofficial days. I'll be waiting. In the meantime, World Kindness Day is a day to encourage people to be kind to others and be more compassionate to help create a better world. Now I'm suddenly reminded of Frank Burns in M*A*S*H when he says, "It's nice to be nice to the nice." However, I find this ironic when today's headlines read this or even this. I'm all for freedom of speech, but frankly it's getting ridiculous. I don't want to be political here, but it's sad when people mistake their freedom of speech as freedom to lie or make things up. It puts the whole World Kindness Day thing to shame. So, how will you spend the day? Will you do something kind for someone else? I'll have to try, though it goes against my personality. It's so unlike me with my nagging at Neil to do his writing for school or yelling at Nathan when he's squealing while playing Playstation. The Crayola website has some fun activities for kids and you can see them by clicking here. Now get yourself out there, goshdarnit, and be kind to someone today -- or else! ;)

Oh -- and now for something totally different! I woke up around 6:45am this morning to the strangest sound. I thought one of my boys was crying downstairs. I got up and noticed the sound was coming from outside. I opened the front door to take a listen. I'm not positive, but it sounded like wolves! It could have been coyotes, but my first thought was wolves. FREAKY! I used to hear coyotes at our California house all the time, but I've never heard them here before. It was bizarre and it definitely wasn't a domestic dog making that sound. My cat was all freaked out. Arrrroooo! And on top of this, just now I saw 22 wild turkeys wander by. They're going up the hill behind my house. Run turkeys run -- Thanksgiving is coming!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wedding pics --

Photo challenge -- I know we've challenged each other lately to post senior pictures and moments of fame in our local newspapers. Is anyone up to posting wedding pictures? It's not my anniversary, but I thought I'd put one of mine up today. Rick & I were married on Valentine's Day in 1988. Oddly, this is the only picture of us I have scanned in my computer. One of these days I'll get my album out and scan some others. You can tell this was taken in the 80s just from the permed hair. Rick doesn't like this one because it makes him look shorter than me and he's not. He's an inch taller, but obviously I had high heels on. The hair might have added a couple of inches too. Not only that, but he hates that little dooly-bop shadow thing on his forehead from my veil. So how about you -- up to posting a wedding pic?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

I'm sure you know Elvis Presley was a veteran, but did you know Bill Cosby, Tony Bennett, Montel Williams and Alan Alda are veterans too? I don't come from a military home, but my husband does. His dad was in the navy. He was in a submarine during the Korean War. His brother was in the army and served in Iraq. Rick had the day off work today and it felt good to see all the American flags lined up along the street in downtown Kalispell. Then on our way home we saw one house out in the distance with a large flag flying upside down. Flying a flag upside down is a recognized sign of distress. I highly doubt that was the case and I'm sure it was some idiot trying to make a political point. Some people just don't get it when it comes to their rights and freedoms as Americans. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but it seemed like an odd day to do this.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gnarly, dude!

I don't know whether you believe in God, but there is no doubt in my mind that nature is an absolutely powerful thing. I saw this picture online the other day and it blew me away. Can you imagine being in a submarine with a surge this big? Or how about aboard a pirate ship and seeing this enormous wave coming toward you? I couldn't even imagine how frightening it would be to see this, more or less experience it when you got into it. I grew up close to the Pacific ocean and went swimming at the beach often. I've had my share of wipe-outs and know the feeling of being pulled under and not knowing what side is up. Can you imagine getting whacked around by a 40-foot tall wave like this? Read the story here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Western Larch

When we moved to Montana, we saw something we'd never seen -- yellow pine trees. At first we thought they were dying, but then it became apparent they weren't because there were so many. They're called Western Larch trees and they grow only in the northwestern US and southern Canada. It's believed that the state of Montana has the largest population of Western Larch trees. They're green all year, except for the fall when their needles turn bright yellow. After a few weeks, the needles fall to the ground and get everywhere. They're nearly impossible to sweep up, so the best way to move them around is with a leaf blower. At times our driveway is solid yellow. People love to go hiking or mountain biking this time of year because the paths are bright yellow. It looks like a scene from The Wizard of Oz with the yellow brick road leading the way. The wood is very hard and the trees are resistant to fire. I've read they can reach heights of 180 feet tall and can live for nearly 800 years. They are very unique looking trees and we have lots of them on our property. It's not a tree many people get to see everyday, so I thought I'd post a picture of one here today.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Where the heck is it?

Do you ever feel like this picture? Well, I don't mean physically, in the sense of things. I'm usually pretty good about keeping things organized. I came from a very unorganized home when I was growing up. Not just unorganized, but downright messy. This cartoon cracks me up. For a few weeks I was stomping around the house looking for one of my earrings. I had just gotten them and I only had one in my jewelry box. They're not expensive, just brown wood circles with some painting on them. I looked and looked and looked. Every time I went to the store I would look at new ones and debate to buy another pair. Then the other day my daughter walks into my room and says, "Here's your earring. I couldn't fix it." DUH! I'm slapping my head right about now. I had given it to her to see if she could fix it because it kept falling apart. How could I forget that I'd given it to her? I went through my whole room, dug through my jewelry box and scoured through all my purses looking for it. Am I losing my mind? Am I getting so old that I'm forgetting things?

My NaNoWriMo project reminds me of this. I'm not writing a fictional story. I decided to write something else, something factual. I don't know if that's against the rules, but I thought it would be a good chance to discipline myself to getting it all written down. But what is interesting is that I am remembering so many things that I have long forgotten about. Fortunately, I have a very large collection of things to help spur all of these long lost memories, like photographs and old publications. I'm finding the whole writing process really interesting in a new way. What have I remembered over the past 25 years? What has really stuck out? What have I totally forgotten about? What dates or years did I get confused with? It's been interesting, to say the least. Is there something you've lost and can't find? However, some days I still feel like this lady pictured here ...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Nathan!

Today Nathan celebrates his 9th birthday! It's just amazing to me that he is 9 years old already. I don't know what happened -- I must have blinked. Kids grow up so darn fast. When Nathan was born, his breathing was irregular and they took him away from me for a long time. He had complications from meconium and got pretty sick. They had him hooked up to all kinds of stuff and the poor thing was getting poked left and right. I decided to board in the hospital to be with him. I wasn't officially a patient, but they let me sleep in an empty room so I could be close. I ended up getting really sick too. At first they couldn't figure out what was wrong. Soon they discovered I had a really bad staph infection, so I was readmitted. Both Nathan and I spent 6 long days in the hospital before we could finally go home. And now he's a big nine-year-old boy -- and quite a handsome one, at that!
Happy Birthday, Nathan!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Woof Woof!

Isn't it amazing what you can do with peanuts? From peanut butter chocolate chip cake to puppies! The boys and I had fun making these Peanut Pups last night. They are pretty easy. You just poke holes in the shells to stick in the pipe cleaners. Even the head is attached with a pipe cleaner. The only thing we glued was the nose, eyes and ears. Of course, after we were done, the boys wanted to keep going. They made other critters and every character you can think of. I can only imagine what the mess on the table looks like downstairs. However, these pups were a lot of fun to make, especially because they were so easy. Woof woof!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

PB Choco Chip Cake

Cake --
1 box cake mix, white
ingredients called for on back of box
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Frosting --
1 can white frosting (16-oz)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make cake batter as directed on box. Mix in peanut butter with electric mixer. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into greased 9x13 inch pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool. Mix frosting and peanut butter together and spread over cooled cake. Sprinkle with nuts, if desired. Note: I usually sprinkle with mini chocolate chips instead of chopped nuts. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Peanut Butter Lovers!

November is Peanut Butter Lover's Month and today is Sandwich Day! Aren't you glad you have me to tell you these things? We're doing "Peanut Week" in school, so I need to get to the store to buy some unshelled peanuts. There's no way we can paint our family of peanuts without them. Everyone in my family likes peanut butter, except for Neil. He won't touch anything with peanut butter in it. Freak. I've always loved peanut butter. I grew up eating Jif, but buy mostly Skippy now. Recently I had to get some Peter Pan peanut butter. Isn't it odd how you start craving something as soon as it's recalled? I have fond memories of my grandmother making peanut butter cookies. I remember watching her dip a fork in water, then in sugar and then criss-crossing the peanut butter balls into cookies. I have a really good recipe for a peanut butter chocolate chip cake that everyone really likes. So, do you like peanut butter? If so, how do you like eating it? My favorite is crunchy peanut butter on a grainy whole grain bread with honey. And now, here it is Peanut Butter Lover's Month as well as Sandwich Day. I was sitting here getting this blog entry ready and craving peanut butter something awful. Rick just walks in with lunch for me. Is it a peanut butter & honey sandwich? Nope -- a chicken & rice burrito. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow will be Chicken & Rice Day! ;)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's a small world!

I wanted to share a picture of my kids from Halloween night. This is Nathan, Nicole and Neil. The past 2 years we've taken the boys trick-or-treating locally in our little town of Bigfork. We knew it was going to rain Halloween night, so we decided to try the mall in Kalispell. Neil is at a stage where he has a love/hate relationship with Halloween. He loves dressing up and he loves getting candy, but he hates scary costumes and decorations. I figured the mall would be good because it would be well lit. We got there early, which was definitely a good thing. After going through the entire mall trick-or-treating, the boys stopped to walk across a little stage for a costume contest. By the time we were leaving, the mall was jam packed with people, so I was glad we had gotten there early. The boys had a lot of fun and got to see other kids in their costumes. Nicole is 17 and wanted to walk around with her little brothers this year. She wasn't sure what she wanted to wear, but the boys really wanted her to dress up. At the very last minute, she put on one of Rick's old flightsuits from when he worked in the helicopter air unit for the sheriff's department. She even had flight glasses, but you can't see them here. But what is really interesting about her costume is this -- a few minutes after we walked into the mall, a man ran up to Rick and said, "Hey, do you remember me?" It turns out it was a retired deputy sheriff that Rick used to work with nearly 20 years ago in California. He had seen the patches on Nicole's flightsuit and recognized them immediately. He had to run up to us to see if he knew who Rick was and was amazed that they used to work together so many years ago. Now what's the chance of that? He had moved to Montana a few years back and was now working for a local fire department up here. Talk about a small world!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaNo & Seven

Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal is to challenge yourself to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. I decided to participate in this at the very last minute. After signing up, I had an idea of what I wanted to write about. However, the story is near and dear to my heart, so I was afraid of butchering it to get quantity over quality. After a few sleepless nights, I finally had another story idea. I completed my outline and thought I was ready to go. I started to write last night at 11pm. I only got to 170-words and then I stopped. I stared at the computer screen in frustration. As much as I like this story idea, I don't think I'm ready to write it yet. I need more time to think it out. I shut down the computer and vowed to start fresh first thing in the morning. As I began writing this morning, I started getting really excited about my first original idea. I have my first 1713-words done for today. I don't think I will have any problem reaching the goal, but I guess only time will tell. The above picture of me sums up today pretty well -- nerdy writer too busy to get dressed. Here is it past noon and I'm still in my jammies. This picture was taken by my mom in the early 80s. I was always typing something. I learned how to type on an old Royal manual typewriter. I remember my mom getting an electric typewriter and thinking it was just the coolest thing in the world. However, what is it with me and plaid? I remember wearing that plaid nightshirt all the time. And I couldn't look more stupid goofing off with my mom's reading glasses. But the picture sums up today perfectly -- gotta write, gotta write, what's my word count now? Finally, the other day Kim Kash challenged me to SEVEN FACTS MEME. I am to post seven facts that people might not know about me and I challenge anyone to do the same on their blogs. My seven are --

1. My nickname in high school was Rena Who.

2. I've had tea with Roger Daltrey of The Who in his house, twice.

3. People on cell phones in public restrooms are my biggest pet peeve.

4. I collect & save the fortunes from fortune cookies I eat.

5. I hate shoes, but love boots, especially cowboy boots & UGGs.

6. I eat baked potatoes cold, like how you'd eat an apple.

7. I cut my own hair and haven't been to a salon in years.