An update for Brooke.......

Brooke asked for a blog update--so she would know what's going on at home!  She misses us!!  Here you go, my dear!

Saturday at the VeStrands........

Dad power washed the house.  The neighbor decided that the two HUGE pine trees on the left side of the house had to come down, revealing sap and dirt all over the siding.  It's gone now!
We moved the lawn, pulled out the dead fl

Rehung the family room curtains that I just washed and ironed.  (I asked for dad's help because I couldn't figure out how to retie them.  Apparently, I had hung them upside down.  Oops!)


Never too busy.........

I know I talk about how busy I am with every single (very occasional) post. I'm sorry.  It's the reality of life right now.  However, as I discovered yet again the other night, I'm NEVER too busy to say something stupid.

It happened while I was "speed shopping" at BJs (our local warehouse store) one night last week.  I say "speed shopping" because I have exactly one hour to get to BJs from Sawyer's basketball practice location, shop, unload those gargantuan containers of olives and Lysol onto the belt, pay the lady, wait (not so patiently) for the emotionless high schooler to "check over" my receipt (like he could ever see that three-pack of panties underneath the three cases of bottled water and the ten-pound sack of oranges!), load all of that into the van with the skill of an Olympic Jenga player so nothing moves on the thirty-minute ride home, and get back to Sawyer's basketball practice on time so he's not in tears and standing alone under the street light (You think I'm kidding?  Ask him!)

Anyway.........I was navigating those aisles with my usual speed and precision when I rounded the corner and almost ran smack dab into an older gentleman who was kneeling on the floor loading his "flat bed cart" with 25-pound bags of sugar.  Normally, I wouldn't say a word, but something about his cart struck me as odd, and I'm pretty sure it was the ten, one-gallon bottles of vinegar and the equal number of 25-pound bags of sugar he was buying.  And so, without thinking, I asked.....

"Wow, sir, that's a lot of sugar and vinegar!!  Are you making pickles and jam?"

Yep.  That was my question.

After a slight pause, he looked up at me from under his glasses, more than a little annoyed, and said
"Nope.  I'm using these ingredients to fertilize my corn."

My first thought:  "Well, of COURSE you are!  WHAT. THE. HECK???"  But I smiled and nodded politely while mumbling something like "Good luck!" and started to move along.

And, as I walked away, I heard that same annoyed and now totally deadpan voice say "Really, ma'am, that would be an awful lot of pickles."


Why, yes, sir.  Yes, it would.


Way to go, Sawyer!!

I haven't been faithful about blogging lately, but I wanted to be sure to give Sawyer the shout-out he deserves, even if it's a month late!

Each year, our children's school participates in an anti-drug poster contest in Baltimore County.  Each student creates a poster in art class, and then the posters are entered into a contest sponsored by the Baltimore County State's Attorney's office.

Now, I have to be honest and say that, I had NO IDEA that Sawyer had even participated in this contest.  I mean, I "knew" in the back of my head that the older kids had done the same but, honestly, I hadn't given it even a millisecond of thought.  (That's what happens with the fourth child!  Sorry, Sawyer!)

I will say though, that when that envelope arrived for my 12-year old from the State's Attorney's office, my heart skipped a beat*.  What in the world did the State's Attorney want with my child?  I tore it open and saw that Sawyer had been selected as a first-place winner in the anti-drug poster contest!  Out of more than 3000 applicants and 13 overall winners, Sawyer's poster was chosen for first place!  We are so proud of him!

On a rainy afternoon in late April, we headed to Towson, and Sawyer participated in the awards ceremony at the courthouse.  There were lots of speeches, pictures, etc., but for Sawyer the very best part was the $800 of cold, hard cash that he won!  We were expecting a savings bond, but due to a glitch, they were unable to give bonds this year and so the winners received cash instead.  You should have seen his eyes when he realized he was "rich"!!  It was priceless!

Sawyer, we are so proud of you!  We pray that you will always use your artistic talent (and your wonderful sense of humor) in ways that glorify God!!

But, no!  You aren't buying an iPad!  ;-)

Sawyer's winning poster--based on a video game, naturally!
Each of the winning posters is part of a 2013 calendar!
If you'd like one, we have about 25!  :-)

Sawyer waiting not so patiently for the festivities to begin.
How do you like that tie he borrowed from Jeff??

Sawyer receiving his award from State's Attorney, Scott Shellenberger

*The week before the letter arrived, I had shared some "choice thoughts" with a particularly rude and offensive father of a player on an opposing sixth grade basketball team.  For a brief second, I thought that man was suing me!   I will be quiet during every game next year.  I promise.  I think.

**And just to clarify:  in spite of appearances, that is NOT bed head.  That is a purposeful hairstyle that Sawyer believes is totally cool.  I'm choosing to pick my battles.  


Desperate Times.........

I don't camp.  I don't dream about spending time in the "great outdoors" (with all the bugs).  I don't dream about cooking over an open fire (with all the bugs).  I don't relish sleeping on one-inch thick foam in the same room with my stove, my food supply, and several other snoring, sweaty people (and all the bugs).

To be honest, I did camp ONCE.  It was the first and last time.  We camped for TEN. DAYS.  TEN. DAYS.  It was June.  In Michigan.  The water was...........oh......about TWELVE degrees.  Sawyer was nine months old, still nursing and napping multiple times a day.   That means that Payton was 2, Sydney was 4, and Brooke was 7.  The bathroom was a long walk away..........the 2,968 times a day I walked a child there.  I no longer refer to that week as "camping".  It was "nightmaring". 

For some people that is a "vacation".  Obviously, the definition of "vacation" is very subjective.

However, you know what they say about desperate times.
They call for "desperate measures". 
And right about now, I'm desperate.
For some peace and solitude.

I'm thinking I could use oh............about a week...........alone.
In this.

With a stack of books and lots of iced tea.
And NO bugs.
And maybe one or two restaurants nearby. 
Because I still don't sleep with my food.
No thank you.

On second thought, maybe I'll just go here.


Waving the white flag

Just to prove that I'm not making this up.
Just to prove that life really is HAPPENING at a record pace around here.
Just to prove (and possibly serve as Exhibit A during my trial) that I have good reason to be in the looney bin.

Last night at, oh, about 8:00 pm, Sawyer informed me that he was required to bring smoothies to his class today. SMOOTHIES. FOR 18 PEOPLE.

After careful questioning, I found out that his class was studying The Swiss Family Robinson, and each student was assigned to bring something that the Robinsons might have eaten while they lived as castaways on the deserted island. Sawyer chose SMOOTHIES.  FOR 18 PEOPLE.

After continued questioning, I found out that Sawyer really had no other ideas, and since they ate fruit on the island and smoothies are pretty much his FAVORITE thing in the world, he decided smoothies would be a good choice. SMOOTHIES.  FOR 18 PEOPLE.

Naturally, it didn't occur to said child to inform the person who would be responsible for buying the ingredients and actually making the smoothies (ME) that he had made this decision: to bring SMOOTHIES.  FOR 18 PEOPLE.

(For the record, I'm very proud of my over-achieving child, but I'm pretty sure that canned pineapple would have served the same purpose. Ahem.......)

So................this morning at 6:45, Sawyer and I started making smoothies. And it quickly became apparent that I didn't have sufficient ingredients for SMOOTHIES. FOR 18 PEOPLE.

"Don't worry, mom" he said "each person only needs a Dixie cup full." However, he had failed to secure Dixie cups to hold the SMOOTHIES. FOR 18 PEOPLE. 

We used up all the ingredients we had, which weren't nearly enough for SMOOTHIES.  FOR 18 PEOPLE.

So, today, the McDonald's drive thru provided SMOOTHIES. NOT FOR 18 PEOPLE.  JUST FOR 12.

I surrender...


You know what they say.........

............about good intentions! Of course, you do!

That one about how good intentions pave the road to "you know where/h-e-double hockey sticks"?
Well, my road is well paved and even resurfaced by this point.  (Although I'm trusting I'll be going the other direction!)

Remember all those "everyday" things I was going to post about?  Well, turns out I'm just trying to LIVE every day, and posting on the blog hasn't been a priority.  But I do miss it.  And my brain swirls with post possibilities and my spirit resolves to write.

And then I hear

"Mom, I need to leave for practice."
"Mom, we're out of toilet paper."
"Mom, what's for dinner?"
"Mom, I have to write a thesis sentence."
"Mom, he looked at me."
"Mom, I wore my last pair of clean underwear two days ago!" (don't judge)

And reality shakes my swirling brain and feisty resolve.
Life happens.
And, let me tell you, life is HAPPENING at the VeStrands. 

But I do have some fun and good things to share!
Thanks to those of you who have asked where I am and requested new posts!
It's nice to be missed.



If you've been in any drug store during the holiday season in the past twenty years, you know about the Chia Pet.  Or the Chia Mr. T.  Or even the Chia Obama.

But, over here at the VeStrands, we have them all beat.  I mean, it's pretty hard to outdo the Chia Tomb.

(Although I'm thinking the risen Lord might need a weed whacker to get out of that!)

If you'd like to have your very own Chia Tomb, you can find the instructions here.   

And, in case you're wondering, I most definitely did NOT make this dandy little craft.  Payton is the very cool, very hip "Activities Director" for one of our church small groups that includes thirteen.....yes thirteen........boys, ages 5 to 13.  A few weeks ago, one of the moms brought this craft for the kids to do, and Payton jumped right in and made his own!