Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Public Service Announcement on Putrescence....

For those of you who have not memorized the entire The Princess Bride movie (are there really any of you out there?)


1. in a state of progressive putrefaction
2. the quality of rotting and becoming putrid

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
Cite This Source

Shall I start with the fact that last night my soon to be eleven year old son came to me and said, "Mom, the living room smells like throw up"? Yeah, he did. And yeah, it did. However, I thought it was the leftover Mac and Cheese from lunch that I had thrown in the trash. "Just take the trash out, and all will smell better by morning." Uh-huh....

Except morning came, and it was worse. A lot worse.

So, I lit my Febreze candles, gave them time to start working their magic (they really are magic!), and went in search of The Putrescence.

May I just take a moment here to give a small piece of advice? If you find a Thermos: Foogo--Leak-proof straw bottle leaking from the bottom, DON'T! OPEN! IT! It makes a spectacular fountain...yep, it so does. (The Putrescence is now all over the clothes I was wearing, and I see a second shower in my very near future!) Oh, and the Febreze candles, can only do so much when The Putrescence is actually

Now, in my defense...we have different cuppies for different drinks throughout the day. I thought that the cup in question was the water cup. (I can just hear my friend Randy now "What'd you do? You THOUGHT!" Randy is a very funny fellow...RIGHT!) In fact, the liquid leaking out of the bottom was perfectly water...only it wasn't.

Anyway, had I known that it was the milk cup, it would have been in the dishwasher, and not out on the table. From now on, ALL cups will go into the dishwasher at night. He really doesn't need to have a cup of water handy during the night anyway, right? Right!

**This is the end of this Public Service Announcement**

And to think, I was considering getting on here this morning and telling you all that I was having total writer's block and I'd be back when I had something to say!

Now many of you are wishing I had stuck with that original plan?

Uh-huh, me too!

Now if you want to have a better experience in Blogland today, go here and watch the video. It is amazing, and will totally redeem your day after reading this post!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Taco Soup....yum!

I've gotten a few requests for my Taco Soup recipe, so I thought I'd share it today! I thought that the last time I made it, I took pictures along the way for just such an occasion, but I can't seem to find them on my hard-drive...sigh. So, this will not be a tutorial a'la Barb, but you will have some amazing soup anyway!


1 lb. of hamburger
2-3 stalks of celery (depending on how much you like celeryWinky)
1 lb. Mango Pico de Gallo (I find this in the produce section of my HEB, if you can't find it, just use any mild Pico de Gallo and add in diced mangoes--the mangoes aren't essential, but add a sweetness to the soup!)
14.5 oz can of kidney beans
14.5 oz can of black beans
14.5 oz can of whole kernel corn
26-28 oz can of Fire-Roasted diced tomatoes
12-14 oz jar of your favorite salsa (I use chipotle flavored, but whatever you like is good)
1 cup of rice (I use regular, but instant should work too)
2 cups water

Add Ons:

Grated Cheese
Tortilla Strips


Brown Hamburger, Celery, and Pico de Gallo in a large pot until meat is good and brown
Add remaining ingredients and stir
Simmer for at least 20 minutes on the stove.

To Serve:

Scoop into bowls and top with grated cheese and tortilla strips. (I use Mexican Blend cheese and my HEB sells these Tri-Colored Tortilla Strips in the Produce section--with the croutons--that make a really pretty presentation!)

**I use organic meat and veggies in this and all the canned goods are "no-salt added", so I also add a dash of black and red pepper to my bowl and my favorite salt-free seasoning. You may season as you see fit!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hello Cyberspace!

Wow, I was just playing around redesigning the blog a little bit, and I just noticed that my last post was 11 days ago! Can you say, "Melody's been busy?" Geesh!

Just for the record, we had a fabulous Christmas, and even now we are chilling with some of the in-laws. We had planned to come home today, but the weather turned yucky and we decided we didn't want to drive home in the yuck. So, we're wearing out our welcome for one more night!

Last night consisted of WAY too much food, and WAY too much fun! We played "Dance Dance Revolution" (the High School Musical version), Rock Band, and Yahtzee into the wee hours of the morning, and the kids and Ben road dirt bikes for just about every.single.second. that there was daylight to be had. Smiles

Tonight we're all just a bit more mellow, hee-hee. We are all chilling with a movie on TV and our laptops clicking away! I think there are 4 laptops total in use at the moment. (Insert "I Love Technology" song from Napoleon Dynamite here.)

When we return home, I'll be sending out my Christmas Cards New Year's Cards. I ordered this time from an online place rather than just getting them at my local store, and they didn't arrive until 2 days before Christmas...sigh. I had intended to bring them with me and get them sent out from here, but I forgot them...double sigh. So, if you were expecting a card from's coming, I promise!!! Shy Whistler

Well, the kids are calling (along with the leftovers...ahem) so I'm going to sign off. I've still got some tweaking to do on the new blog design, but I'd love to know what you think of it so far! Any suggestions? Anything hard to read?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Blogland! Christmas Lights

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Doughnuts....mmmmm

Last night, I made this cake for a Ladies' Dinner for my church. (red velvet cake with vanilla-peppermint buttercream icing)

Candy Cane Cake for Church Dinner...yum! on TwitPic

This morning, I decided to make doughnuts for the kids, and since I had some crushed peppermint candy left over from the cake, I decided to add a Christmas flair to our usual doughnut flavors.

They are very simple, and all the kids were able to help! Here's how we made them:


  • Texas-Size Canned Biscuits (if you don't live in Texas, they are probably just called "jumbo") Happy
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • Vanilla Powder
  • Crushed Peppermint Candy (you can either crush them in the blender, or buy them "pre-crushed"


  1. Heat shortening/oil either in a pan on the stove or in a fryer
  2. Place biscuits on a floured surface and press them out just a bit bigger than they are and cut a 1 inch circle out of the center
  3. Fry them in the oil until golden brown on both sides
  4. Repeat with "holes" you cut from the center
  5. Remove from the oil and let cool on a plate covered with some paper towels to absorb any excess oil
  6. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to each of 3 paper lunch bags
  7. Add 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar to one of the bags, 1/2 teas. vanilla powder to another bag, and 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy to the third bag, and shake well.
  8. Place a doughnut in the bag of your choice and shake a few times.
  9. Remove the doughnut from the bag and shake off any excess sugar.
  10. Send all the children outside to play and curl up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and your doughnuts!
  11. When you've had your fill, you can invite the children back in to have a few themselves! Drooling Bouncy Smileys

Monday, December 8, 2008

This is David

I have a list in the other room that is half a mile long...and I'm not supposed to be on the computer until a bit more of that list is completed...but I realize that I've been missing for a couple of days, and the twitching was really getting to be a problem! So I decided to just pop in and show you a quick picture of the cake I did this weekend for a woman about to have her first, babies. There are THREE babies in there, my friends, THREE!!!

So, I figured, I couldn't turn down the request to make her cake. This woman deserves a very special cake, don't you think? Now, I should post a picture of the shower invitation before I show the cake, because it would make more sense...but the batteries are dead in the camera, so I can't take one. However, since she is having two girls and one boy, the invitation simply had a pea pod shaped like a hammock with bows on the ends and a blue pea sitting in between two pink peas in the pea pod. Very simple, and very cute...

...I added some personality to the "Sweet Peas"...

This has gone down as one of my favorite cakes of all time. I just love those little peas!

Okay, and because many of my friends and family read this thing...I also thought I'd share this little video clip from Thanksgiving. Benji turned on the video camera and turned the screen around so that David could see himself...he found himself quite entertaining, and even started to sing "Halleluia--Praise Ye the Lord" right up until he discovered the bouncy ball was in the background...then all was lost.

Why he resorted to baby talk, I don't know...and as for those dirty hands? Well, he is a boy. And he was outside. Enough said. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hey look! I took pictures!

I haven't edited the video or all the photos yet from the first two Nutcracker Performances, but I thought I'd show you just a couple quick ones. :)

This is the entire cast. This is a special demonstration at the schools, it's not the full production. They all have to stay like this for at least 15 minutes while all the classes are filing in and the director gives the opening of her about dancer's discipline!

This one is mine. She's a snowflake...and a lovely snowflake indeed! (Not that I'm biased or anything.)
I took several photos today while the girls were dancing, so I'll put together some sort of slideshow soon.

These are just some Christmas cookies I made for a party. Yes, David ate one and I had to remake it 3 hours before delivery was scheduled...sigh. What I'm wondering is why he chose to eat Bert's cookie, when there was one clearly marked, "David"? At least then he could have claimed he thought it was HIS! :) Oh wait, he doesn't read yet...nevermind.

Okay, that's all the pictures I have for your enjoyment today! I did get my hair cut and highlighted today, but I don't have any pictures to post yet. :( I know, you're really disappointed aren't you?

What I do have is today's Jesse Tree lesson! We're finally caught up and we're having the right lesson on the right day! So, here you go.....

Day Five

Genesis 12

Abram Journeys to Egypt

1Now the LORD said to Abram,
"Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
2And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
4So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
5Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.
6Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.
7The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land " So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.

Sometimes God asks us to do things that are hard to do. God asks us to obey when sometimes it seems like disobeying would be more fun. There are things He wants us to do that we don’t want to do, and there are things He wants us NOT to do that we really, really want to do.

God asked Abram to leave his home and go on a long trip. Abram did not want to leave his home, but God promised him that He would be blessed if he obeyed. Abram did obey and he went left his home. Sometimes along the way, he made bad choices and forgot to listen to God’s directions, but God kept all of the promises that He made to Abram. The best thing God did was to call Abram His friend.

Can you imagine having the God of all the universe call you His friend? Guess what? He DOES! When He sent Jesus to us, He offered us His friendship for life! He asks us to obey Him, and He promises to be our friend, but even when we forget our side of the deal, He doesn’t forget His. He keeps His promise to never leave us, and He forgives us over and over again.

[discuss ways that God shows us what He wants us to do]

(pray together that God would help us to obey and do the things that He wants us to do)

*Hang packed car ornament on the tree. (This one I bought because I thought it was a great reminder of God asking Abram to "pack up his household" and go. The kids agreed, and will never forget this one!) :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh Jesse Tree, Oh Jesse Tree....

Hello again. I promise, I will get back to regular posts in addition to the Jesse Tree posts, but this week is my craziest week all month (at least for now) and today is the craziest day of this week! So, I'm going to post the next two lessons in our Jesse Tree devotions today, and hopefully post some pics and video of the girl doing the Dance of the Snowflakes in The Nutcracker later in the week!

If you are also doing a Jesse Tree, let me know in the comments! I'm interested to see who all is participating this year. :)

(The scripture readings for both lessons we did today were very, very long, so I'll just post the references here rather than the entire scripture passages...'kay?)

Day Three

Genesis 3:1-19 (split the reading between myself and the 13 yr. old)

(Read by the 7 year old) Yesterday, we read that when God created the world, it was all perfect. Even the people were perfect. Today we read about Adam and Eve and how they disobeyed God even after He had given them everything in the whole world. He only asked that they not eat from one special tree. But they didn’t obey God. Once they ate the fruit from that tree they understood that there is right and there is wrong, and this brought sin into the world.

(Read by the 10 year old) God still loved Adam and Eve, but He had to punish them for disobeying Him. He had to send them out of the beautiful, perfect garden He had made for them, and they had to start working for their food. But God also promised them that He would always love them, and He even hinted at the coming of the savior to save them from their sin.

(Read by mom) Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed God, He still loved them very much. Do you remember yesterday when we said that God is not surprised by anything? God always knew that even though He created people perfect, that they would eventually disobey Him, and need to be punished. So, before Adam and Eve were even created, He had already decided to send His Son, Jesus into the world. When He told the serpent that the woman’s seed would “bruise His head”, He was talking about Jesus destroying Satan’s power forever. When He said that the serpent would “bruise his heal”, He was talking about the fact that Jesus would have to sacrifice His body, to save us. Even way back in the garden with Adam and Eve, God had already planned to send His son to die for us.

[discuss ways that we all make God unhappy and why we need a savior just like Adam and Eve]

(pray together thanking God for sending Jesus and asking Him to help us make good choices every day)

*Hang the apple ornament on the tree (This one Benji made out of "Sculpey Clay" and we baked it in the oven. I think if you click on the picture you can see it close-up. We didn't want to make it too big because we didn't want it to be too heavy.) :)

Day Four

Genesis 6:11-14; 7:17-8:3; 9:8-13 (again, I split the reading of this between myself and Benji)

(Read by the 7 year old) Once Adam and Eve had sinned, and learned that there was right and wrong, all other people born would have to decide whether to do right or wrong themselves. There came a time when almost all of the people had decided to do wrong and God was very sad. There was a man named Noah whose family had not forgotten God and still chose to do what was right because they loved God. So God decided to destroy all the people who were making wrong choices, and to save Noah and his family because they were making good choices.

(Read by the 10 year old) God told Noah how to build an ark and God filled the ark with all the different kinds of animals and then He made it rain until the whole world flooded. All the people and animals who were not on the ark were destroyed.
When the flood was over, and the water dried up, God made a promise to Noah that he would never send another flood to destroy the whole world again. When He made His promise to Noah, He put a rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His promise. Every time we see that rainbow, we can remember God’s promise to Noah.

(Read by mom) When God sent the flood, it destroyed all that sin, but it also destroyed all those people. This is not what God wants. He loves us too much. When we see a rainbow in the sky it reminds us that God has another plan to destroy the sin in the world without destroying all the people. That plan is Jesus. Jesus came to destroy sin, and save the people.

[discuss promises that God has made and kept]

(pray together thanking God for keeping His promises)

*Hang the rainbow ornament on the tree (This ornament was Maddie's one to make. She used those little plastic rings that you place in a pattern and melt together with an iron. She was so glad to finally have a turn at making one of the ornaments!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Our First Annual Jesse Tree!

See that there tree on the left? In just 23 short days, it will tell the history of Jesus' family tree dating back to Jesse! I read about the "Jesse Tree" over at Rocks in My Dryer last year and decided that we were going to make one this year.

Naturally, I got a late start on the planning (iow=I forgot), and consequently spent yesterday running all over town looking for a Jesse Tree Devotional Guide to lead me through this project. But alas there were none to be found...sigh. So, I used this guide that Shannon mentions in her post and proceeded to try and adapt it for our family. I discovered in all my research that there are different versions of the Jesse Tree, but I just went with this one because it was available! :)

I have decided to post the lessons that I wrote (again based on this guide) for the kids. [Feel free to use them if you like!] My plan was to have the 13 year old do the scripture readings, so I used the NASB version because that is what we use for their schoolwork. Then I had a small section for Maddie to read, and another for Jon. [I printed each child's section in a different font to make it easier for them to know what to read.] This particular guide begins on the first Sunday of Advent (day before yesterday), but since we just got started today, we did the first two lessons today, we'll do two more tomorrow, and then we'll be back on track for the rest of the lessons. :) As far as the tree decorations are concerned, I found what I could pre-made, and bought supplies for the kids to make the rest. I bought some supplies that are better suited for Benji to use, different things for Jon, and some things that Maddie will love doing. Therefore, each child is responsible to make certain ornaments, but not every child will help with each ornament...make sense? I'm also including little notes on who read case you care. ;) Okay...Lesson 1!
Day One

Isaiah 11:1-2 (New American Standard Bible)

Isaiah 11

{Read by 7th grader}

Righteous Reign of the Branch

1Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
2The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

{Read by 2nd grader} Nothing surprises God. God has a plan for everything…before it even happens. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, there lived a man named Jesse. Jesse had seven sons. His youngest son was David who would grow up to be the king of Israel. Even before David, or even Jesse was born, God had a plan for both of them.

{Read by 5th grader}God’s plan for Jesse didn’t end when his son, David, became the king of Israel. Jesus was also part of Jesse’s family tree. He was born many years after David, but He is still a part of their family. God promised His people that He would send them a savior, but David was not that savior, Jesus was. The people of Israel had to wait a very, very long time for the savior to be born. The season we call “Advent” is a time of waiting. During these weeks before Christmas, we are all waiting too.

{Read by mom} It’s not easy to be patient. Waiting for something special can seem very hard sometimes, but God wants us to learn to be patient and to trust God. God says that He has a plan for our lives also, and we must believe that and be patient while we wait for all that God has for us.

[Then we let everyone discuss things that they are waiting for and how difficult it is to be patient.]

(Then we prayed for patience as we wait for the things we are anticipating.)

*Hang pinecone ornament on the tree. (I found this pinecone ornament with a green sprig coming out of the top, and I thought it would work beautifully to represent the scripture verse.)

Genesis 1:26-31 (New American Standard Bible) {Read by 7th Grader}

26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

29Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.

31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

{Read by 2nd grader} God created everything. He made the whole world and everything in it. He made the oceans and the mountains. He made the birds and the fish. He made the dinosaurs and the bugs. He made all the people. He made you, and He made me. When God first created the world it was perfect. When God created Adam and Eve, they were perfect too. They never did anything to make God unhappy and there was no sin in them.

{Read by 5th grader} Even though Adam and Eve did eventually sin and now the world and the people are not perfect anymore, God still loves us, and He still cares for the world that He created. Adam was in charge of taking care of God’s creation and even got to name all of the animals. God still wants us to take care of His creation and be kind to all of His creatures.

{Read by mom} The earth is God’s gift to us. Even though it is now full of sin and sadness, God still wants us to take care of it and to treat it with care.

[let everyone discuss ways to take care of both the earth and all the gifts God has given us: toys, clothes, house, food, etc. Talk about caring for and not wasting all that we have been given.]

(pray for help in being good stewards of both God's creation, and His gifts in our lives)

*Hang earth ornament on the tree. (This one was made by Jonathan using sticky-back foam. I helped if he asked, and let him do everything he wanted to on his own, even choosing the colors -- notice Antarctica is white while all other continents are green) :)

So those were our first two lessons. Doing two was a bit too long for everyone, but I think they are enjoying it and hopefully will look forward to it every year from now on!