He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9

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Kebobs (Once a Month Cooking)

Occasional recipe reports from my Once a Month Cooking experience.
As I mentioned earlier, this recipe was a little challenging for the family, because of the new vegetables they're not used ot eating (mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes). I told them they could pick and choose (eat the meat rice and pineapple). The only only rule: no complaining!
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Cool Kid


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Baked Beans and Hamburger (Once a Month Cooking)

Occasional recipe reports from my Once A Month Cooking experience.

This one was a winner. Not a really complicated recipe, but the seasonings were perfect. I served it with corn on the cob.
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We love our library!

We might be small town Indiana, but we have an incredible library! They won some kind of presidential award for the services they offer. They have the neatest summer reading program. The kids get points for checking out books, doing book reports and attending reading groups. They are also earning cool bug prizes on the 4th, 5th and 6th weeks they check out books. They have Story Hour, Toddler Time, Story Hour Cooking, Busy Hands (story hour art), story hour music and even free video days with popcorn!
The girls - drawing their book reports.

For only 4 points each, you can earn great books like the Chronicles of Narnia series and the Magic Treehouse series!
Washing up for Story Time Cooking
They read a picnic book, then made pineapple cake, picnic kebobs, fruit cups and all kinds of yummies.
After making their lunches, they took them outside for a picnic lunch on the front lawn.

It's not a humongeous library, but they have so much to offer and we love it!
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Farewell, Spencer

When we decided to get Max and Mya, we knew three dogs was one too many! But we decided to ride out the winter before we found Spencer a new home. Well and wonderful family came and got him Saturday. They have 3 boys - ages 2,4 and 6! This is their first dog. We are so excited that he has a wonderful new family. He'll have a big fenced in yard and boys to run with.


They left for a little while to give Kayla a few minutes to say goodbye to Spencer. She knew it was coming, but it was still a sad time. She did great, though. She took him on his last walk and we got him all brushed up and ready for his new home.

The family had one week to be sure they were ready for Spencer and that he was the dog for them. Today is the end of that week and we haven't heard from them, so it must be working out. They invited us to come and visit Spencer at their house if we ever get to missing him too much.

He was a good first dog. But PLEASE don't tell Kayla - David and I are actually relieved that Spencer has a new home.
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Evening Bike Ride

We had an errand to run at the school, so the 5 of us took a bike ride together. We had borrowed another bike trailer so that we could pull all three kids, but Kayla really wanted to ride her own bike. It made the trip rather tedious. As we pondered the pokey pace, we realized that Kayla's bike needs some adjustments to help her pick up some speed. I finally gave up trying to keep my bike upright while barely moving alongside Kayla as she poked along and took in the scenery. It was fun, though.
(Maybe she would have made better speed if we had told her to turn her handlebars around. hee hee.)


Little patch of corn across from the Green Street park.

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Picnic and Hiking with Grandma Fry (June 13)

This is a park about 15 minutes from our house. It is owned by the youth of our county, or something like that. It is maintained by this wonderful old gentleman who let us into the nature center and showed us all kinds of great nature stuff.

After a delicious picnic, and a very cool discovery of and animal carcas in the edge of the woods, we set out for some easy hiking. There's just something about getting out there...the trees, the air, the birds. It puts things into perspective.

Hiking buddies
Simple BeautyA thick, cooling canopy
Bubby, after an unfortunate enounter with a flood puddle near the creek
Our barefoot hiker, with her new hiking stick and her sack of nature plunder. I think she was an Indian in her past life.
Thank you, Grandma, for a fun time!
A Blue Moon and Chocolate ice cream stop on the way home....HAPPY DAY!



It's late, and I can't even remember the name of the park at the moment. It'll come to me after some sleep. We hope to return for a little risk-free camping soon.This park also hosts an incredible camping/stargazing event in July. They have some powerful stargazing equipment on site.
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Old Friends (June 13)

(I know you've already seen this one, but this post has been moved up to maintain chronological order of the previous posts. There is new stuff posted below this one....)

Marc & Melodie Sankey and their boys came for a wonderful visit Friday and Saturday. We had some great years of working together at Franklin Bible Methodist Church in Ohio before we moved to Alabama/Mississippi and they moved to Mexico/Texas. They are home for a few months, and we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to spend some time together. Friendships like this are worth holding on to.

Fun times gathered 'round the computer - they showed us around their new life in Mexico on Google Earth.



These are 3 handsome and incredible boys....They're being raised well and prepared for a lifetime of service.








Nobody sings together quite like Marc and Melody. Smooth, seamless, effortless...and powerful. I think their beautiful Spanish makes their singing even more incredible. (Push play to see them sing a beautiful Spanish worship song...and a sneak peak at Caiden's conducting habit.)
video
Thanks, friends, for some more good memories.
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Cooking INSANITY! (June 12)

I finally did it! I took the plunge and tried "Once A Month Cooking." I had been planning it for quite awhile, splitting the shopping trips up here and there. But finding an entire day to just COOK proved to be the most challenging part.

Once A Month Cooking is a book that gives you several plans for cooking (and freezing) 30 meals in one day. They told me it would be about 9 hours of cooking on cooking day. I had hoped they meant for inexperienced cooks, and they were exaggerating. They weren't! I doesn't matter now experienced you are. Thirty meals in one day is just downright exhausting.

I got most of the meat for good prices at Meijer. It took at least one other trip to get the bulk of the other ingredients.

I had already assembled a few of the meals before cooking day because of the ingredients involved. Cooking day was long...but not impossible. I just had to keep at it. I have very little counter space, so I pulled the kitchen table over by my tiny little counter to use as close work space.
Lots of meat thawing on the stove....
Spices and ingredients laid out, ready to go!


The end result? I LOVE IT! My freezer is full of healthy meals. I don't have to rush or worry about what to fix. I have meals ready to go if I need to take food to someone. I was a little worried that all the new recipes would be overwhelming to my traditional eaters. But so far, every recipe has been a hit. The Shish Kebobs were the only challenging dish. But that is because it involved vegetables that are new to them. I didn't force the issue, and let them pick and choose off the kebobs what they wanted. The only rule: No complaining! Then I cooked up the remaining marinated meat for fajitas for today's lunch.

Do I plan to do it again? Without a doubt! I'd do a few things differently, though. The book suggests that you do your shopping the day before cooking day. I did some of my shopping early. This made some challenges for freezing the meat. I was also a little nervous that the dates on my cheeses and such would run out before I got to the day. It turned out fine, though. The best way to avoid this is to buy the meat fresh (not frozen) and keep it in the fridge a day or two until your cooking day. The reason? Many of the meals are assembled, not cooked. You need to add marinades and the like before freezing the raw meat, ready to cook. You definately need to xerox the (very easy and organized) shopping list so you can mark all over it. I did some substitutions and needed to record those. Plus it helped keep shopping simple to mark through items as I went.

Freezer space? Not a problem. I have teensy side-by-side freezer. You freeze most of the meals flat in freezer bags. And those plastic 3-cup containers from Aldis. You do need to start with a pretty empty freezer, though. Don't buy ice cream or a quarter beef until you've used up some of your delicious meals.

I have more pictures, but they're not loaded yet onto the computer. I'm planning to do reviews of the recipes as I go. So far, so good! It was completely and totally worth the 9 hours of cooking.

Here's the recipe lineup. The items in parenthesis are suggested sides. I love this, because it jump starts me for ideas and gets me a little out of my steamed broccoli rut. I haven't used the really strange suggestions yet. But it's a brain starter for me.


Once-A-Month Cooking Plan E

Split Pea Soup * (orange and apple slices)
Chili Dogs * (Winter fruit salad)
Jack Burgers * (Greek Pasta Salad)
Deborah’s Sweet-and-Sour Chicken * (Sauteed Apples with Thyme; steamed broccoli tossed with toasted sesame seeds)
French Stew * (Tossed green salad with Creamy Dressing*; French Bread)
Shish Kebabs * (Corn on the cob; Erica’s Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies)
Chicken and Rice Pilaf * (tomato caprese; baked asparagus)
Grandma’s Chili * (multigrain rolls; cottage cheese with pineapple chunks and mandarin orange slices)
Crustless Spinach Quiche * (Fresh sliced tomatoes)
Grilled Ham Slices * (Corn on the cob with chili Butter*)
Green Chile Enchiladas * (shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, avocados)
Chicken a la King * (fresh-baked asparagus; red grapes or melon slices)
Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork * (Sweet Potatoes)
Oriental Chicken * (sautéed napa cabbage; egg rolls; fortune cookies)
Marinated Flank Steak * Cauliflower Mock Potato Salad
Three-Bean Taco Chili * (Bed of corn chips; Spicy Grilled Pineapple)
Sicilian Meat Roll * (Eggplant sauteed with zucchini, tossed green salad with Creamy Dressing)
Dawn’s Lasagna * (Ceasar salad and Asparagus Italiano)
Italian Shepherd’s Pie * (Artichoke Hearts)
Southwestern Chicken Soup * (Watermelon salad*)
Rosie’s Meat Loaf * (Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes; broccoli)
Baked Beans and Hamburger * (corn on the cob; tossed green salad)
Glazed Ham * (Spaghetti Squash; green beans)
Bird’s Nest Pie * (apple spinach salad)
Chicken Tetrazzini * (Gingered Carrots; chocolate cake)
French Dip * (Waldorf salad; carrot strips)
Lemon Chicken * (cucumber salad; rasted grape Tomatoes*)
Grilled Salmon * (Greek Pasta Salad)
Mexican Stroganoff * (Tomatoes Caprese)

Many of the recipes are big enough to 2 meals for our family of 5. I split some of them, but I think if I had it to do over I'd split almost all of them. I'd rather get 2 full meals than one with leftovers.

I also love that the recipes use a huge variety of herbs and spices for seasoning. They are very tasteful, without being weird. I think it will help a little towards stretching the tastebuds of kids (and hubby).

Oh! I almost forgot to mention....the book also has plans for cooking 2 weeks' worth of meals, if you're not up for a month.

Anyone else tried this plan or something similar? This sure takes the idea of browning hamburger and freezing for later up a notch. I'd like to hear your experiences.

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Visit with the Cresses (June 6)

We drove to Ft. Wayne to visit my old friend, Sarah (Straub) Cresse and their 6 kids. Actually, she was still "great with 6th child" at the time of the visit, but Elianna Grace is here and squeezably beautiful.

Sarah and Steve and I were friends back in college days at GBS. They lived in Utah for awhile, and I of course lived in Mississippi and Alabama. But now we've both landed in good ole' Indiana! It was such fun to get together again. We had a yummy lunch, watched our 8 kids (plus neighbors) splash in the pool, and did some catching up. We hadn't had one of these get-togethers since Kayla was a baby.

Their kids are beautiful, respectful, polite smart and fun to be around. Thanks, Sarah, for a wonderful day!


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Chuck-E-Cheese (June 2)

Grandma Fry to us to Chuck-E-Cheese for Caiden's birthday.


The birthday parade marches around the restaurant.
Meanwhile....Daddy, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Alex take full advantage of this 2-year-old birthday bash! Looks like intense ski ball competition.


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Little Man Turns 2 (May 31)

"Little Man" "Bubbie" "Bubster"

That's our guy....and he is ALL boy. Loves to shoot cars and zoom trucks. Loves real tools and knows how to use them. Loves to sing. Conducts music. Keeps perfect rhythm. Bangs his head when he's upset (Yes, we're consistently working on that one....) Is best buds with his sister Karissa. Talked like crazy at 18 months old. Loves to get dressed and go places. Spontaneously rubbed my back as I put him to bed and laid down by him tonight.

Caiden with is cool M&M cake Aunt Chelle made.

Daddy and Bubby in church.
Like this....all the time!
Lord, give us the Biblical wisdom to train him. Give us the godliness to lead him. Give us the patience to mold his intensity. Thank you for this little man.
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Weekend at Dad's Cabin (May 30-June1)

Oh Joy! Oh Bliss! One minivan - 3 kids - 2 dogs.
Loaded up for a weekend with the Wolf fam at Grandpa's cabin in the Indiana hills.

The playhouse Grandpa built...
The hills behind the cabin.....If these trees could talk.

The view from the cabin. Something wonderful happens when I get here. The air is sweet with the smell of the grass and the woods. Everything is green. Stars and clouds and space to think....Not to mention a lifetime of memories.

Daddy and Caiden waiting to push off in the kayak.


Caiden (on his 2nd birthday) driving the boat on the Ohio River with Uncle Garen

Max and Mya's first swim! Mya is a natural. Max is a hoot. He swims like he's drowning, trying to hold his head and shoulders out of the water at the same time. One of the dogs pulled Rachelle off the bank and into the creek. The dogs loved the wide open of the cabin. This trip proved that their training is coming along very well.

They pulled out the stash of semi-automatics for target practice. I got to shoot my first AK47.
So much to explore and learn about in this little creek. Every moment with Grandma Wolf is a learning experience.

Flowers to cut...gravel road to walk...butterflies to catch. This is livin'!

I don't know how they did it, but Mom and Dad bought this cabin for literally almost nothing almost 30 years ago. It's about an hour from Cincy. No phone. Cistern water. A fresh, sparkling spring. A creek to play in. Hiking. A Ben Franklin heater in the winter. Smooth, hot rocks to warm our toes in bed. Late night games of Rook. Popcorn and Smears (my Dad's name for S'mores)......
Just what the doctor ordered for two Bible College teacher and their little brood of kids. On weekends they fixed it up from a complete mess to a nice little get-a-way. Granted, they did break every child labor law in the process. (Just ask any one of us kids about digging a pipeline out of clay under the house - one 5-gallon bucketfull at a time!) But we're no worse for the wear, I assure you.
It just so happened that this particular visit the water pump had gone out. So it was back to hauling buckets of water out of the cistern. This is one family trip De wasn't so sad to miss. She's such a wilderness woman and all....
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Family Outing to Indianapolis (May 26-27)

Graduation and the frenzy of May were behind us. Memorial Day stretched before use like a beautiful oasis of nothingness. So we decided to celebrate the first day of summer!

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So on a whim, I poked in some cheap numbers into priceline for a 4-star hotel in Indy. It was Indy 500 weekend.....fancy hotel downtown....no way they'd accept my meager bid. But they did! So we threw some clothes together and headed out.

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For Christmas, someone gave our kids a family pass to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. It is, by the way, the most amazing children's museum in the world that we know of. It's cool having a pass, becuase we feel like we can go and have some fun for a couple of hours without having to knock ourselves out for 7 hours trying to get our money's worth for the day. We hit some of our favorite spots:
Free carousel rides!!!!

Decisions, decisions in PLAYSCAPES!

Serving mommy and daddy ice cream....

Next (after a cheap lunch via the Wendy's drive-through) we met Mom Fry, Debbie and Alex at the Imax and saw Dolphins and Whales. It really was good, but a bit slow-moving and very redundant. The hundreds and hundreds of close-up shots of the bellys and sides of whales, combined with the narrator's "I'm-trying-to-sound-mysterious-and-provocative" voice was almost enough to put you to sleep. But it was fun to be together


And then the canal walk. It is a quiet, beautiful and peaceful place.

Everyone within an hour's drive should visit Indy and see the canal walk at night. Very romantic. Not so romantic, exactly, with this crew. But definately one of our very favorite places.

To save on the outrageous "fancy hotel" parking costs, we left our car parked in the garage by the canal walk and walked the couple of blocks to the hotel. The hotel (Downtown Marriot) turned out to be fabulous. Enjoying the piles of fluffy pillows: It was a great combination of modern elegance

Nothing like chillin' in the windowsill in your diaper, ya know.


Cereal & milk, cartoons, and a cool pull-out table. (You'd think these poor kids had never seen cartoons before....)

Beautiful view of the sunset


The city at eventide

And the lights of night

We enjoyed hanging out at the hotel. Then...as dark began to fall, we packed the kids up in the triple stroller and went out to paint the town. It was one of those priceless evenings when the kids were tired, but relaxed. Not squabbling and whining. We were just a couple blocks from just about everything Indy has to offer. We enjoyed the beautiful evening and the city lights at the circle. Then we had a lovely dinner at Buca di Beppos. David and I shared a plate of "Quattro al Forno" (A sampling of: Cheese Manicotti, Chicken Cannelloni, Stuffed Shells and Ravioli.) We got the sleepy kids a 1/2 pound Italian meatball to share. We were amazed when Caiden tried to finish off the meatball single-handedly and the girls scooped into our shared plate. (I fear our days of one 6-piece nugget shared between 3 kids are just about over.)


After a quiet walk back to the hotel we found that the maid had slipped in and left the extra blanket and pillow we requested. Everyone slept like babies.

The next morning we walked around White River State park, checked out the area by the river where the free outdoor summer concerts will be and walked over to the zoo.

Then it was back home to Frankfort for an FCA staff lunch and the beginning of teacher work week. The hotel was a bit of a splurge. But it was every bit worth it.

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Priceline bid on hotel: $50.00

Cost of gas to get to Indy: $???!!!

24 hours of memories with our little family: Priceless

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