Thursday, December 29, 2005

Doggone Funny!

This is our dog Sam. He is a Great Pyrenees. He is also a Great Oaf! Sam has a problem with barking. He likes to bark at everything, but oxygen seems to be his favorite.

This past week Sam was supposed to go live with some people that lived on 5 acres, but that fell through. He was then supposed to go live with my uncle in Tennessee who lives on a couple of acres, but that fell through as well. So, Sam is stuck with us in Suburbia for the time being. Unfortunately, Sam's barking issue has to be corrected. How, you ask? Simple. A barking collar. My uncle, who felt bad for not being able to take Sam, gave us $50 towards a bark collar.

For those of you who've never perused the barking collar section of PetsMart, my advice would be --don't own a dog who barks too much. Bark collars are E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E! We spent $50 and got the cheapest one in the store. The good ones were between $119 and $175 dollars! Whoa.

Anyway, the way this particular collar works is that when the dog barks, the vibration from the vocal chords causes the collar to send a mild electric shock to the dog's neck. Neat-o, huh? The Mad Monk, who has not felt well for the last few days, is in charge of all electronics in our home. He messed with the collar for a little while yesterday and then decided to wait until he felt better to really finish the task. So, this morning he took on the dog collar.

The directions explain that upon putting the battery into the electronic box you can test it by running it across something rough. If it beeps while doing this, then it is ready to use. The original problem was that the beeping was not occurring. So, hubby fiddled with the battery some more today and finally got the silly thing to beep after running it across the carpet. I was very much relieved that we could now get this collar on our Great Barking Menace.

Interestingly enough, this was not a sufficient enough test for The Mad Monk. Being an intellectual man, he requires deep thought and adequate research in order to make logical conclusions. Apparently, upon being gifted with the lion's share of intelligence, he was not blessed with simple common sense. This is evidenced by the fact that no sooner did he discover that the device worked that he proceeded to put the collar up to his throat and bark!

ZAP!! Apparently the electric shock is activated by human vocal chords as well because The Mad Monk yelped in pain while grasping his neck! Being the concerned and supportive wife that I am I attempted to muffle my laughter. Unfortunately, my attempts failed and not only did I laugh, but I snorted as well! For fifteen minutes! I then proceeded to call any family member who would listen and retell the tale with enthusiasm!

Fear not, The Mad Monk is well and thriving. The only battle scars he carries are the ones affecting his pride. Actually, he has laughed heartily about the whole thing all day as well. He knew instantly that he was fair game for blog fodder and actually blogged about it himself before I could get to my computer.

Just one more reason to love my man! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All over, but the cryin'!

So, we are two days into Christmas post-partum and I couldn't be a happier gal. I will begin pulling down the decorations and the tree later today to be packed away for yet one more year. Yeah! I have had some misgivings concerning the way we celebrate Christmas as evident by some of my previous posts, however, Amy really hits the nail on the head today.

Don't get me wrong, our family will still celebrate Christmas. However, it will be with a different attitude. An attitude of simplicity. I have made statements to our extended family that The Mad Monk and I will be handling things differently in the future. Some of them still don't get it and they never will, but that's okay too.

We really did have a nice Christmas. Calm? nope. Quiet? nope. Reflective? nope. Not that hubby and I didn't want it that just didn't happen....again. No big deal really. I mean I can't really expect my family to see things my way when they've done it their way forever. Did we enjoy each other? Absolutely. Did we have a good time? Absolutely. Was Christ glorified? not really. At least not by all.

Before anyone goes sucking all of the available oxygen out of the room hear me out. As I and The Mad Monk have discussed before, the world will be...well...worldly. That is the way my family celebrates Christmas. Honestly, I have one word for the way it looks when the gifts are opened; gluttonous. If the mini-Monks heard it once, they heard a hundred times, "what's Santa Claus going to bring you this year?" Am I offended. No. Will I throw a big hissy fit telling the whole family that I don't really do the whole Santa thing. No. I will, however, teach my children the Truth. I will teach them that God is to be glorified in all things. I will teach them to be gracious to their relatives who don't see things the way we do. I will teach them that even in the midst of very worldly ocassions that we, as His people, can still bring glory to Him. I will not be drawn into debating the right way or the wrong way to celebrate Christmas anymore. I have been a much more contented MommaMonk since I came to this conclusion.

During this season of gift-giving gluttony I did receive a few nice items myself. My sweet hubby bought me new knives. Sharp knives that nearly cut the tip of my finger off, but nice nonetheless. He also bought be The Waltons Season II. I'm a sucker for Grandpaw. My mother bought me a food processor. Woo-hoo! Pico de Gallo will be a whole lot easier to make now! My sister and my niece chipped in and bought me a Singer sewing machine! I'm so glad for new things to making my homemaking easier. Well okay, The Waltons technically have nothing to do with homemaking, but there is alot of homemaking in the show, right? Allright, I know, my reasoning is lame-o, but cut me a little slack here.

I will officially step down from my Christmas soapbox and again put it away for yet one more year. Whew! I am so thankful for that!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ow! Fill in the blanks...

I ha_e inju_ed my index phalan_e. I can ha_dly _ype on my key_oa_d. Can you _ollow my pos_ ? I sliced my phalan_e on a new kni_e I asked _he Mad Monk to _uy me _or Ch_is_mas.
Sha_p kni_es can _e pain_ul. I will pos_ mo_e in a day o_ so. Ow....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What a guy!

I really do have a great husband. The Mad Monk is such a wonderful husband I've decided to blog soley about him today.

Top 10 reasons I love The Mad Monk:

10. He has an really neat blog name!

9. He has never treated me poorly.

8. He is most eloquent in his speech and literary abilities.

7. He's my best friend.

6. He has a great sense of humor (I'm sure he would want this to be number 1 !)

5. He sees the bright side of things.

4. We can lay in bed and laugh at stupid stuff for hours.

3. He is gentle.

2. He is a GREAT daddy!

1. He is a godly man, great provider and wonderful leader in our home.

Okay, the last one has two extra things, but they are all of #1 status importance.

Anyway, I just wanted everyone to know what a great guy I married. Go read his blog. He has some great stuff to say. I should know, I hear it all the time. :)

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's baaaaaack!

Virus #53,658 has struck once again. The miniestMonk of them all came down with it yesterday. She tried to warn us, but we didn't listen. We chalked it up to a little drama, which is not uncommon in CastleMonk, by the way.

Little Liv told us on the way to church she was going to throw-up. She's only two (three tomorrow...yeah!) so does she really know what that means? Apparently she does because she also warned her Sunday school teachers that she was going to throw-up. The Mad Monk and I decided to sing in the choir, leave her and our oldest dd in the back Fellowship Hall to color until we were finished, then we would go home. We never finished.

Nope. Just so happens that the Fellowship Hall is where the choir practices before going into the sanctuary. Wellllll....can you guess what happened while the choir was practicing? Yup. During Joy to the World every warning she had given came true. By the time someone had gotten my attention my oldest dd had ran Liv to the restroom (bless her heart). The Froot Loops had made another appearance and they weren't so fruity this time.

After cleaning up the mess, Family Monk went home. We now know to believe little Liv when she tells us she's going to throw-up. Apparently she needed us to learn the lesson the hard way.

By the way, she's much better today.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Panic Cleaning

My mother and uncle are coming to stay with us for Christmas. I'm excited at the prospect of seeing them again, especially my mom, since I haven't seen her since April. We have a tradition of baking and decorating TONS of cookies. I usually weigh a TON more by the end of the holidays as well. :)

However, today we have been attempting to do what my children affectionately call Panic Cleaning. This is where I procrastinate on some things around the house to the last minute ( I have valid excuses this time -- really I do) and then we go into all out Panic mode to get them done before company arrives. My company arrives tomorrow. Guess what we've been doing all day?

I wouldn't recommend it. It's not fun. I have to go now.


As Christmas Day approaches sometimes craziness can ensue. I, personally, am trying to make the holidays simple. I don't ever want my children to get caught up in the "fluff" that seems to accompany Christmas these days. However, for my relativley small "quiver", gift-wrapping can become almost ludicrous and I have a tendency to lose my simpleness in the midst of it.

**********WARNING: this little story may require a box of tissues.************************

As I was wrapping gifts this past Thursday evening I called my 5yo dd and almost 3yo dd into the room to help me wrap their gift to their older brother. Oh the squeals of delight that filled the room over the fact that they "knew" a gift and the fact that "they" were getting to do some gift wrapping! They were truly enjoying the giving part of the holiday and I felt relatively smug in my child rearing abilities. Hah!

Soon after, my 50yo dd comes into the room holding a paper plate. She tells me that this is for her older 12 yo sister. In my haste to finish my task I tell her in my I'm-not-really-listening-because-I'm-too-busy-with-something-else-to-look voice that it's really nice, but we had already picked out a gift for her older sister. She lets me know she was aware of that and went on her merry way.

Later that evening after everyone else is in bed, I go to our Christmas tree, under which I place a few more gifts. To my surprise I notice a small, red gift sack. I didn't use any gift sacks so I knew it wasn't mine. I pick it up to peek inside and what do I find? A precious paper plate. It had been hand decorated and bore the words, "I love you Maddie, love Grace". Apparently in my sweet little daughter's efforts to have a proper package, when she couldn't find any tissue(or get any help from Momma), she found an empty, white, plastic trash bag and used that as her tissue.

I cried. I cried good and hard. How simple was that? In my haste, my precious 5yo dd had just taught me my own lesson. I missed out on a blessing because I was caught up in the "fluff". The very thing I wanted them to avoid. I thanked God that very minute for her and what a blessing she was to me.

*********************end of story --tissues may be put away now*************************

Sometimes I tend to forget( not purposely, of course) that our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (ICor 10:31). I hope I can keep that in mind always without having my 5yo teach it to me the hard way again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Aroma of it all!

Today was bread making day. Not regular bread, but Sweet Breads. One of my very best friends ever came over to bake with me. Actually, she talked me into the whole idea of bread baking seeing that I was still being Scrooge and having the fa, la, la, la, blah attitude.

I am not a baker by nature. I am only a cooker by nature. Baking takes too much organization and I'm the kinda gal who likes a pinch of this or a pinch of that. I rarely ever follow a recipe and if I do I am just presumptuous enough to tweak it to my own liking. I'm a slowly learning to change my whole baking attitude for the sake of the mini-Monks. They love to help me and for some reason baking is what they like to do best. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor.

Back to the story.

Anyway, said friend comes over and we begin to bake. First, the Pumpkin Bread. I love Pumpkin Bread. Too me it just screams fall and the holidays. My friend talks of how she loves this for breakfast with a cup 'o' java. I agree. Who doesn't love a sweet bread for breakfast? Afterall, it is nothing more than glorified cake! Cake for breakfast is a good thing. This recipe was mine and came out of an old church cookbook.

Next came my friends recipe. Maple Bread. Sounds good, huh? Since I've never tasted Maple Bread I was thrilled at the prospect of having a new flavor of "cake" for breakfast. My friend doubled the recipe so we would have two loaves a piece. We baked these in a
Pampered Chef Mini-Loaf stone pan. This stone cooks 4 mini-loaves at one time. While these little breads were cooking we noticed how high their tops were rising. I was impressed and looking forward to a taste. When they came out of the oven they were a lovely color and looked simply divine. Since my friend was coming back tomorrow for some more mean fun, we decided I would wrap the breads after they cooled. We moved on to next bread.

Amish Friendship Bread is not for the faint of heart. I was given a starter about 10 days ago and I debated as to whether I had it in me to complete the process. This recipe is for tried and true bakers, not schmucks like me who whine about baking. This bread took commitment. You know --the stir once on days 1-5, add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, blah, blah, blah. I decided it was time to buck up. Afterall, the Proverbs 31 lady would do it and do it cheerfully. So, today was the day I could actually add the rest of the ingredients and bake it. All I can say is: I came, I baked, I conquered. Yep, my bread turned out wonderful! Much to the delight of everyone in the family! Not to mention the baker!

After we finished all the baking my good friend departed for home. I couldn't stand the anticipation and I decided to bust out a loaf of Maple Bread. It looked beautiful and as I was cutting through it I noticed the heaviness of it. Heavy bread is always tasty bread. In great anticipation I took a bite....and spewed it from my mouth! The Mad Monk is sniggering heartily at this point. I decide it was possibly a bad spot in the bread and decide to subject myself to one more taste test. This time I managed to spew it into the trash can as opposed to the counter. It tasted nothing like maple, but rather of flour and lots of it. Something had definitely gone amuck with the Maple Bread. I had to call my friend.

As I tell my friend the story she just wants to die of embarassment. We then try to determine the cause of the untasty bread. We realize two problems: 1. In all probablility, some of the flour my friend used (from her container) was probably self-rising flour, thus the impressive height of thus said bread. 2. During all of our chit-chat she probably added an extra cup of flour (from the taste of it maybe 2 or 3).

So, tomorrow we attempt Maple Bread again. My friend is not looking forward to the unending vexation she will have to endure from The Mad Monk. Poor girl.

Things I learned while making Sweet Bread:

1. Amish Friendship Bread is worth the wait.

2. I'm not a schmuck, afterall.

3. Maple Bread should not taste like flour, but..uh..maple.

4. Try not to talk while measuring flour

5. Never, ever, ever ,ever mess up a recipe around The Mad Monk.

6. Friends who make one bake Sweet Bread even when one feels like being Scrooge are the bestest friends
of all!

Pro 17:17 A friend loveth at all times

Friday, December 09, 2005

Spare 'Oom

Chronicles of Narnia hit the theatres today and we were there to see it! Woo-Hoo!

I went at 11 am this morning and purchased our tickets just to make sure it wasn't sold out. The Mad Monk, oldest dd and I arrived about 35 minutes early with pre-purchased tickets in hand and....still had to wait in line to be seated. However, all was well and we ended up with very nice seats.

I must say we were not disappointed! The movie was very close to the book and it was such a breath of fresh air to see that. I was afraid that Hollywood would have diluted it down to nothing more than mythological fantasy, but that was not the case. I'm not really sure they would have produced such a great film had they realized the strong Christian themes within it. I'm not complainin' though!

One very disturbing part of the movie occurred when Maugrin and his pack are about to attack Beaver's house when....doink!...the movie stops and the lights come on. How anti-climactic is that?!!! But that's not all! Oh no, it gets much worse. The Mad Monk proceeds to yell out from his seat, "Don't worry folks, it's all a part of the movie!". I really wanted to sock him one at that point, but couldn't get enough leverage because 12yo dd and I were too busy trying to crawl under our seats! When the movie finally came back on it was pretty crummy for a few minutes and then straightened out. However, it was crummy enough to get us 3 more movie passes at the end of the movie!! Yeah! We can see it again!

An interesting thought occurred to me during the scene Aslan is being led to his death. I realized that 90-95% of the people in that theatre had no understanding of the symbolism there. How sad that it was nothing more than pure entertainment. They had no idea that Christ was that sacrificial Lamb. The scene itself was very emotional in and of itself, but knowing that it was a type of Christ really affected me.

I hope you all get a chance to see it. It's not very often that Hollywood puts out something worth watching. I give this one an A+!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

See, I told you

The Mad Monk has not failed me once again and did, in fact, post on the whole Target boycott thingy here. He is so well-spoken. I gotta love him!

Compost Schmompost

Composting is not an easy thing. Oh allright, I'm lying, it's easy as all get out. I have wanted a compost pile for a good long time, but never thought I could get one going. I've learned that if you have dirt and some veggie scraps you can compost.

I don't know why I managed to turn something so truly simple into rocket science, but I did. I still question as to whether I'm doing it right. It's ridiculous. I even asked a lady whose been composting for years if I'm doing it right and she said yes. She recommended a compost booster to help it move along a little faster for spring, but besides that she agreed I was accomplishing my task. I'm still scratching my head and asking myself if she really knew what she was talking about.

At any rate, the purpose behind the compost is that I want to plant a garden in the spring. I have this whole suppressed, agrarian alter ego inside of me and I need to let it out. The Mad Monk says I'm glutton for punishment, but he's along for the ride. He needs to be entertained on a regular basis and he's all up for watching me make a monkey of myself. Little does he know that he will be doing the giant's share of the grunt work. Ha! I told him to wait until my first tomatoes come in. But for now, this is what he has to look at:

complicated compost pile.

a bit sad, huh? Feel free to
mock me openly.

Fa, La, La, La, Blah...

...yep, you read it right. Blah. That's where my Christmas spirit is at the moment.

I have to ask myself if the commercialism has finally gotten to me. You know what I'm talking about. The overcrowded stores, the grouchy, rude people, the greedy retailers who can't even manage to keep Christ in Christmas. Sound familiar? I'm really not a negative person (okay...well maybe sometimes, but not usually over Christmas), however, it is taking a heap 'o' effort to get me in the spirit.

I really don't think it has anything to do with the commercialism or even the gluttonous retailers. As a matter of fact, the
Mad Monk pointed out something really interesting to me the other night. We ran into Target (you know, the store we're all supposed to be boycotting for not using the word Christmas) to grab a few things. It was one of those rare moments we were alone and I was muttering under my breath how I was supposed to be boycotting this store. He looked at me and said he was glad they had quit using the word Christmas and he had no problem shopping there. You can imagine the look of horror upon my face. What? Does this man believe the doctorines of Grace? Okay, not really...I'm exaggerating a little, but I was a little shocked. He explained to me that if I expected the world to keep Christ in anything that I was only fooling myself. It was just that....THE WORLD. He felt that the name of Christ had been blasphemed enough and was glad it had been removed.

I'm hoping he will blog on this himself because he explained it much more eloquently than I ever will. At any rate, after I chewed on it for awhile I have to say I agree. So, I ask myself if this is why I'm being blah. Afterall, all this boycott jive could cause one to be blah. But alas, no.

It, my friends, is a loss of innocence.

They (the world) have forgotten that a young, simple girl gave birth to the King of Kings in a lowly manger. Plain and simple. No glittering lights, no fanfare, no glaring cameras. Just a stall with some animals. The picture of innocence.

In a sense, perhaps I have forgotten too. It is easy to get caught up in keeping up. We don't have lavish Christmases, however, we do decorate for the season and buy our children and each other some gifts. But spending our time focusing on these things, temporal things at that, is enough to make anyone blah. I don't need a beautiful Christmas tree. I need to focus on Christ. I don't need to bake everyone I know a dozen cookies. I need to Glorify God. He is all I need...plain and simple.

Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Friday, December 02, 2005

All is Well...uh..for now

Well, the current version on stomach virus #53,657 has left Castle think. All is well at the moment and I intend on keeping it that way for as long as possible. Which basically means that I'm giving myself a very false sense of security as I know that as soon as things return to some state of normalcy then once again, disaster will strike. Amy speaks of this today on her blog as well and has probably communicated it much more effectively than I.

I would like to share an all natural cleaning tip that I have recently learned. All it requires is:

- 2 spray bottles
-white vinegar
-hydrogen peroxide (regular, over-the-counter stuff)

Pour the white vinegar in one bottle and the hydrogen peroxide in the other bottle. Spray each, one after
the other, on surface that needs cleaning or disinfecting then wipe down. Be careful of hydrogen peroxide
as it can "bleach" some clothing.

It is well documented that this is more effective than bleach water and store bought disinfecting agents. I have the website somewhere and will try to include the link another time. Also, it does not matter which solution you spray first. Kinda nifty, eh? See, my blog is not in vain afterall.

On the craft show side of things...well, uh...slow and steady is the pace you could say. I only have 6 basket liners completed at this moment. Needless to say, today will be a basket liner making, rice heating pad making and whatever else strikes my whimsy to make marathon. Wish me good mean good Providence! ;)

Next up: pictures of my compost pile! Mmmm...yummy.