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Friday, May 22, 2015

Telling The Boy from Texas

I'm stealing a play from my best friend College Roomie's playbook ( today.  Earlier this week, she did a precious post about how she told her husband they were expecting.  I realized I had not shared how I told The Boy from Texas about our positive test.  Precious, it's not, yet probably still better than the utter failure that occurred when we told my parents.

I was a couple of days late with a certain monthly occurrence (seriously, am I blogging about this?), but didn't think much of it.  I had casually mentioned it to The Boy from Texas, who daily would ask me, "Do we have a verdict yet?"  I love it when he talks lawyer to me.  Finally, I decided to pick up a test, but didn't plan on taking it because I was sure there was no way we were pregnant.  I mean, doesn't it take people like a year to get knocked up?

So one evening we were sitting in the recliner and he asked about the verdict.  I said still nothing.  He suggested I take the test.  I remember saying, "Oh, fine, I'll take it, but I'm sure it's going to be negative anyway."  Off I went to take the test.

You're supposed to wait 2 minutes and see if a blue line appears.  Our blue line appeared in about 2 seconds.

At which point, I made the announcement to The Boy from Texas in the sweetest way I could think of.

I bellered from the bathroom, " better get in here.  YOU BETTER GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW!"  He came running in, saw the blue line, and just started smiling and giggling and hugging me.

Continuing on my appropriate response to this situation, I started repeatedly saying, "What do we do now?  There are no more instructions on this box?  What happens now?  I don't know what to do. You don't know what to do.  What do we do?"

Finally having enough of this, he very calmly said, "Call Super Mom."

So I did.  She told me to call the doctor tomorrow to make an appointment and take a deep breath.  In addition to her advice, we went to get a pizza for dinner and I made The Boy from Texas go into Walgreens to buy another pregnancy test, ideally a different brand, just be be sure.  Blue line popped right up again.

Precious or not, that's our story.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Family Farm Friday #94: Dad's Rain Dance

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”  ~Tony Hillerman

You might remember this blog I wrote in the midst of a multi-year drought about having faith that the rain gauge would fill up one day.  I have always seen empty rain gauges during rough times as a sign of hope and faith that one day, the rain will come again, as improbable as it may seem at times.

I am happy to report that currently, we are having one of the wettest years that I can remember back home on the ranch.  Grass is green.  Hay is growing.  Livestock is full.  Everyone is happy.

How much rain have we gotten, you ask?  Couldn't tell you.  We don't have a rain gauge up.

Every winter, my dad turns the rain gauge upside down because when it freezes, it will break the gauge and you don't measure snowfall with the gauge anyway.  So you leave the gauge upside down until Spring when you flip it over and start counting the rain drops. Except my dad decided not to do that then. Now, three months after that first rain, he still hasn't done it.

When we call for rain reports we get one of two answers.  "There are big puddles in the driveway" or "The neighbor says he got an inch twenty."  The Boy from Texas asked me why my dad didn't just go look at the rain gauge.  I knew the answer.  It's the same reason he wore the same shirt holes and all to every pig show for 8 years after we won our first banner.  My father is incredibly superstitious.

He has convinced himself that if he walks out to the fence and flips that rain gauge, the rain might stop coming.  Logical?  No. But he comes by it naturally.  My Gran had a very strict rule that you did not look at that gauge until the rain had stopped, there was no checking mid-way through a storm to see where things were sitting, you waited until the end because you didn't ant the rain to quit.

And after you survived four years of one of the worst droughts on record, I suppose you do whatever you think will work. So you may not see my dad out there doing a rain dance, but if you come by our house, you'll see a rain gauge upside down on the fence and puddles in driveway.  Praise the Lord for that!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Because of Her

"It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God.” ~ John Piper

My Aunt Jean lived right down the road from us, our nearest neighbor.  She and my Gran were best friends, so growing up we spent a lot of time at her house.  We picked peas in her fields.  Ate lots of "Aunt Jean's candy," which I now know to be the mini Hershey's bars that she bought at K-Mart.  I can still remember the clothes pin apron she always wore, the color and location of her living room furniture, and how even if we had been there for hours, when we left, she'd always say, "I just sure wish y'all wouldn't run off!"

When her daughter posted a Mother' Day tribute, she thanked her mom for being the best at many things, including teaching her children common sense and to love God.  The comments started pouring in.  I was first and said that any list of what Aunt Jean did best simply had to include cheesecake.  Y'all.  I don't even like cheesecake.  But she made hers with some sort of manna from Heaven because it was to.die.for.

I enjoyed reading through the rest of the comments that day as well, people remembering her cinnamon rolls, carrot cakes....anyone noting a theme here?  And then, one comment really stood out.

"Because of her, my husband is on his way to Heaven one day."

Stopped me dead in my tracks.  Everything else...all the money, all the diplomas, all the baking ability....doesn't matter.  This is what we're here for.  To help God lead each other to Heaven. How often do I completely miss the point? Aunt Jean didn't.  And there is no cheesecake that can beat that.  Although, Aunt Jean's did come awful close.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Newlywed in the Kitchen Recipe #18: Summer Grill Tacos

Ladies and gentlemen, the impossible has happened.  The Boy from Texas gave a 5/5 to a meal I prepared. was not a beef and potato burrito.  Let us bask in this for a moment, shall we?

The Boy from Texas Rating:  5/5.

The Boy from Texas Comments:  (1) Do I HAVE to grill the corn?  (2) Can I have seconds but this time with no lettuce?  (3)  I think you can put this one in the 5/5 category.

Summer Grill Tacos
*As you will see below, there is basically no right and wrong with this...just put in whatever you like!*

Tortillas (I like corn, he likes flour)
Grilled meat (I liked pork chops, he liked chicken breast)
Grilled corn on the cob
Sliced avocado
Sliced pineapple (He didn't have any of this)
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Something green (I like cabbage, he prefers spring mix lettuce)
Chopped green chile

Shuck corn and place one ear on a piece of foil.  Add butter (maybe 1/2 T for each ear), salt, and pepper.  Wrap ear in foil.  Repeat for all ears and place on the grill.

After corn has grilled for maybe 15 minutes, place chicken and/or pork chops on the grill.  The Boy from Texas actually handled this part and I think all he used was some fajita seasoning.

Once cooked, I like to put the pork chops and chicken into a food processor to shred the meat.  You can do this or not, you could easily just slice it up as well.  Unwrap the roasted corn and cut off the corn from the cobb.  Two people can probably get by with corn from one ear.

Place shredded/sliced meat onto heated tortilla.  Add corn, sliced avocado, sliced pineapple, sour cream, cheese, and something green.

You could also add salsa, green chile, or fresh cilantro if you're not pregnant and dying from heartburn over here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Sentence That Made Me Love Him Even More

"We've just said yes to God, and we know He will handle everything from here." ~Britt Fisk

I love that Boy from Texas.  Even when he is giving me wet willies or putting the Brita back in the fridge empty or claiming he didn't know that he used the last of the toilet paper.  I always love him. But a couple weeks ago, there was a sentence uttered that made me love him even more.

After doing a second trimester genetic screening to check the baby for issues like Down's Syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis or Spina Bifida, we got a phone call that sort of knocked the wind out of us.  "Your baby screened positive for Down's Syndrome.  Don't panic, there are a lot of false positives on this test, but you'll need to come in and take another definitive blood test to find out for sure."  Felt like someone punched me in the stomach.  I am not at an advanced maternal age, we have no family history, and our ultrasound was clear.  This news was a complete shock.

The next 24 hours were a blur of internet research, prayers, and worry.  Our doctor informed me that I had researched and analyzed this issue and the screening test better than anyone he had ever seen.  I said thank you.  I cried over the perfectly-timed words of my blog friend, Maureen, who explained that her daughter's Down's Syndrome limitations were actually a gift.  I appreciated the explanation on saying yes to life written by my sweet friend, Britt.  I struggled to pray the right words and to maintain the right attitude....that the baby be healthy, but if we were called to this, that we would have the strength and grace we would need.

At one point, The Boy from Texas asked the very simple question, "What happens if he does have it, what can they do?"  The answer was fairly simple.  Nothing.  You either have a baby with Down's Syndrome or you do not have the baby.  Without missing a beat, The Boy from Texas forcefully responded, "Well then if he has it, we will have a baby with Down's Syndrome and we will love him and he will have a good life with us."  And suddenly, I didn't need to worry about praying the right words anymore.  Because The Boy from Texas had articulated it better than I ever could have.  With one sentence, he summed up so much of what we were feeling.

In the end, after taking the second test and waiting 10 agonizing days for the results, we received confirmation that The Baby from Texas does not have Down's Syndrome.  The initial screen was, indeed, a false positive.

Today, we ask that you join us in praying.  Prayers of thankfulness that The Baby from Texas is healthy.  Prayers for those who are in the waiting period to learn their results.  Prayers for those parents who are called to raise a child with Down's Syndrome.  And especially prayers for those babies whose parents might not be as willing to embrace this diagnosis as my sweet husband was.  All children are a blessing, regardless of how many chromosomes they have.  Lord, hear our prayers.

Friday, May 8, 2015

15 in '15 List Update: March and April

Thanks to the fact that starting around April 10 I am no longer throwing up every day (just feeling nauseous most of the time), productivity has greatly increased on this here list!

Summary (for those of us keeping score):
I've completed 3/15 items!  WOO HOO!!
I've made at least some form of progress on 12/15 items.

Here's the details.

1.  Visit 2 new states.  COMPLETE!

Prior months recap:  Georgia (January).

This period:

In April, I loaded up in the pick up with The Boy from Texas and my Dad and we headed north in search of a new ram.  This journey made my first trip to Iowa and completed this list item!  Blog on this coming soon.

But, because I'm an over-achiever, I also added Minnesota to the list of places I've been!  I had a work conference in Minneapolis at the end of April.


2.  Print Instagram photos in Chatbooks.  (No progress).

I have no reason for not having this done, especially after College Roomie gave me gift certificates to pay for this for Christmas.


3.  Read 12 more books.  (3/12 complete).

Prior months recap:  Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (February).  

This period:

St. John Paul the Great by Jason Evert

"Don't waste your suffering."

"All things can be offered up as a prayer, and the intensity of suffering is not as important as the degree of love with which one embraces each cross."

Before Amen by Max Lucado

"A sincere heart cannot mis-pray."

"Your suffering is your sermon."

"You are never more like Jesus when you pray for others."

"Ingratitude is the original sin."


4.  Run another half marathon.   Complete a post-baby 5K.  (No progress.)

As I mentioned last time, this was one of those list items that The Baby from Texas created a little need for modification.  Instead of a half marathon, my plan now is to complete a post-baby 5K.  But don't you all worry....I still plan on crossing half marathon #4 off my list next year!


5.  Take a fun trip for The Boy From Texas' 30th.  (Location determined!)

Once again, the exciting surprise news about The Baby from Texas sort of put the kabash on our plans to go to either Ireland or Hawaii.  But I'm actually really excited about the replacement!  We'll be headed tot he mountains of New Mexico to enjoy staying at a beautiful resort, watching the horse races, dancing, shopping, and relaxing to ring in his big birthday.


6.  Plant flowers in our yard and the fun pots we got.  COMPLETE!

Because The Boy from Texas was on call over Easter Weekend, I decided that it was the perfect time to get some flowers planted!  I got 4 awesome pots for our wedding and there were actually two more big pots left by the prior owners of the Little House on the Prairie.  Everything looked so pretty.

Sadly, a week later, a huge hail storm hit and a there were a few plant casualties.  But, most survived so we're still good!
Blue bonnets are a 'bloomin!

Here we have marigolds, lavender, and blue bonnets.

7.  Cook 52 more recipes in the Newlywed in the Kitchen series.  (10/52 completed).

Prior months recap:  5 through end of February.

This month, I added 2  more:  Rosemary Chicken with Cornbread Dumpins,  Spinach Popeye Muffins, Mom's Chicken Bacon and Rice CasseroleMom's Macaroni Salad, and LD's Potato Salad.


8.  Finish Uncle Black Belt's book.  (Some progress made).

Prior months recap:  We were editing and hoped to have Chapters 1-4 done soon.

This period:  Chapters 1-4 are finished and we're in the editing stage of Chapters 5 and 6.  Slowly but surely!


9.  Complete one study a month.  (4/12 completed.)

Prior months recap:
January:  New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.
February:  Breathe Spiritual Passion into Your Marriage by Gary Thomas.

This period:

In March, I read "Praying for your Elephant - Praying Bold Prayers."  I really enjoyed this one that encourages you to pray big and expect big results!

In April, I read "Discerning God's Will" and thought it was quite good as well!


10.  Complete 5 Pinterest projects (other than recipes).  (2/5 completed.)

The farmer's daughter in me took over and I got busy on some plant projects!  First up, I planted my ceramic pot garden.  I took my inspiration from this pin, but actually like mine better.

The Boy from Texas planted the trees and handled the mulch. :)
Next up in the yard, I planed a mixture of plants in a pot hoping to end up with something that looks like this at the end of the growing season.

We'll see how it grows...


11.  Knock off three more bucket list checkmarks.  (1/3 completed).

Prior months recap:  Meet a blog friend in person (January)

Nothing new to report here.


12.  Order books/prints/canvases of our wedding photos.  COMPLETE!

Thanks to sales on canvas photos, prints, and photo books, I was able to knock this baby out.  First up, I had a coupon code for a free Shutterly book, so I made one of our wedding day.  Next, there was a big sale on canvas prints, so I managed to get one 16x20 canvas ordered of what is probably my favorite wedding photo.  Lastly, back to Shutterfly sales, they had 40% off of everything, so I ordered several prints and got some really cute photo frames from Hob Lob (half off) for each of them!  I'm really happy about how this list item turned out!


13.  Listen to the New Testament.  (Minor progress made).

Prior months progress:  Matthew 1-10.

This period:  No new progress made.  I have got to get on this one and have no excuses!


14.  Pray Novenas for 12 friends and send them notes to tell them about it.  (4/12 completed).

Prior months progress:
January:  Noevna to St. Anne for a friend suffering through infertility.
February:  Novena to St. Joseph for my single friends.

This period:

In March, I prayed a Novena to St. Patrick for one of my sweet friends and her growing family.

In April, I selected the Divine Mercy Novena for another good friend expecting a little one and another friend who was diagnosed with cancer.


15.  Organize my pictures.  (No progress.)

When it's all cold and snowy and I'm stuck inside, this would be a great time to tackle this project.  What have I done instead?  Napped and watched junk tv.  Awesome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Newlywed in the Kitchen Recipe #17: Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Noodle Bake

This recipe was recommended to me by Super Friend, who is a phenomenal cook and she found it from Pioneer Woman, who never leads me astray, so I knew that we had to try it!  This is a great one to add to your list of easy, hearty, week-night options.

Boy from Texas Rating:  3/5.

Boy from Texas Comments:  This isn't bad, I'd eat it again.

Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Noodle Bake

To view her recipe, complete with commentary and photos, click here.

1 1/4 pound ground beef
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2 t salt  (Per Super Mom's advice, I added extra of all the spices in this recipe)
Freshly ground black pepper
8 oz egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 C cottage cheese
1/2 C green onions  (I don't like onions, so I used parsley instead.  Not 1/2 a cup, but numerous good shakes)
1 C grated sharp cheddar cheese  (I always cheat and use more cheese.  This is why I'm chubby.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown beef in skillet and drain fat.  Add tomato sauce, salt, and pepper.  Stir and simmer while you prepare other ingredients.  

Cook noodles, drain, set aside.

In medium bowl, combine sour cream, cottage cheese, more pepper, parsley/onions, and noodles.  Stir.

To assemble, add half the noodles to a baking dish.  Top with half the meat mixture.  Sprinkle half the cheese.  Then repeat with another layer of noodles, meat, and cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Baby from Texas: Weeks 11-20

Well, here we are, halfway through this little pregnancy adventure.  In case you missed the first post in this series, click here to read about what The Baby from Texas was up to from weeks 0-10.  Today, let's recap the last few months.

*  Announced his gender.  You probably remember this post announcing that The Baby from Texas is, indeed, a boy.

*  Traveled to 4 new states.  In addition to the baby's trip to Georgia during the first trimester, Washington, DC; Virginia; Iowa; and Minnesota have now been added to the baby's travel list.  Not bad for someone yet to be born!

*  Bought his first ram.  Well, actually, his grandpa bought the ram, but The Baby from Texas went along for the multi-state road trip and selection process.

*  Survived his first lamb sale.  As you all have read about a lot, our family lamb sales are a big deal.  The baby attended his first sale and survived like a champ.

* Celebrated Easter.  We had a lovely Easter at home.  We went to church that morning then were joined by Cousin Swiss Mister, and The Boy from Texas' mom, grandparents and sister.  Everyone left with grateful hearts and full tummies.

* Watched lots of March Madness.  This is, after all, his mama's favorite time of the year.  A lot of basketball was watched.

*  Discovered more new friends are on the way.  I counted up a couple of weeks ago and have 10 good friends and family members all pregnant at the same time.  I'm not talking just acquaintances here (if we added those in, we'd likely be over 20).  This kid will have no shortage of people to play with!

*  Attended a Swiss reunion of sorts.  Over Easter, Cousin Swiss Mister, Cousin Whitney, and I had a bit of a Swiss reunion in Amarillo, along with her husband, The Boy from Texas, and The Baby from Texas.  It was fun to catch up and spend some time all together!

*  Attended his first Texas & Southwest Cattle Raisers Convention.  Because we are certain that the will love cows--how could he not?--this was a good little learning experience for The Baby from Texas.  I feel like making it a yearly tradition could be something very fun down the road!

* Went to his first Friends of the NRA Banquet.  One day, he will learn that this was how his parents spent their first date.  This year no guns were won, but we still had a great time.  Next year, The Baby from Texas will be in a drawing to win a Red Rider BB gun, so we're hoping he will be a lucky little fella and bring that home!

*  Remained mostly hidden.  Even halfway through this thing, The Baby from Texas hasn't made himself super visible.  Most days, there's not a baby bump to see, it just looks like I ate too many tacos.  I'm sure that will change soon.

19.5 week baby bump picture.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Big Jake's Big News

Big Jake has some exciting news about his newest rider, The Baby from Texas...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Family Farm Friday #93: Gran Was a Liar

*I know it's not Friday, but I forgot to hit publish last week and wanted to get this one up.*

Last week, I made a road trip to Iowa with my dad and The Boy from Texas to go and pick out a new ram.  While we were at one of the farms where we stopped, I noticed a lot of dandelions near the sheep pens.  

I asked the owner, "Do you guys have trouble keeping the sheep from eating these?"  He looked confused and said, "No, we don't care, they can eat them all they want."  I said, "No!  They are poisonous to sheep."  My dad and The Boy from Texas jumped in and asked what the heck I was talking about, informing me in no uncertain terms that this was completely untrue.

Immediately, I said, "Yes it is!  Gran told us that we had to pull all the dandelions in the yard because they were poisonous to sheep."  

Continuing on the investigation, I called Little Brother and the conversation went something like this:

Me:  "Are dandelions poisonous to sheep?"  
Little Brother:  "Yep."
Me:  "How do you know what?"
Little Brother:  "Gran said so."

By this point, my dad was rolling at the fact that my Gran managed to convince us to pull all these dandelions on the farm simply by lying to us and telling us they were dangerous to the sheep.  She didn't want to deal with the weeds and knew that if you tell farm kids they will kill the sheep, her work was done.  While I was a bit offended at first, I couldn't help but laugh.  For those of you who knew her, that was classic Gran behavior.

She set us up when we were little kids running around, and kept it up 30 years later.  Good work, Gran.  Good work, indeed.