Here I Swap 2018: Registration Open



Guys.

Guess what.

It's mug swapping time!

Year 1: 115 Lutheran mug swappers.
Year 2: 511 . . . in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. 
Year 3: TBD. (I'm scared. Yipe!)

This year, because some ladies were a little over all things fall -- turns out not every gal loves her some pumpkin spice lattes -- we're swapping Advent and Christmas mugs . . . and maybe even a recipe or two.

Also, not sure why Amy Grant doesn't sing that Advent is the mooooost woNDErful tiiiiiiime of the year but WHATEVER.

Now read this next part closely because things have changed a bit.

Here's how this swap is going down:

  1. You sign up here
  2. I pair you up with another gal and send you both the pertinent information you'll need to know about one another (names and adddresses, etc.). This is different from previous years. You're matched up with one person, and she's matched up with you. The end.
  3. You peruse that information, which will give you a glimpse into her style, winter drink preferences and personality. You can friend her on Facebook if you want or shoot her an email introducing yourself. If you'd prefer to stay behind the scenes until she receives your package so that it can be a surprise, that's fine too! Either way.
  4. You put together a little care package for her, based on that information. YOU MUST, AT THE VERY LEAST, SEND HER A MUG. Beyond that, you're free to add as many goodies to the package as you'd like -- as long as it doesn't cost you over $25.00. Again, this part is up to you.
  5. Stick that package in the mail!
  6. Channel some Advent penitence, and wait patiently by the mailbox for your buddy's package to arrive for you. 
  7. Eat, drink and be merry . . . but not too merry. It's not Christmas yet!

Are you game?

 If you're 21 or older, sign up by clicking this link and filling out the form. 

  • Sign-ups close September 30, and you'll receive information on your swap friend by October 30. (Yes. It may take that long to send all the emails out. I'm a wife and a mom of three under 3, so sometimes things take me a looooong time. Please be patient!)
  • Again, after reading up on your new friend, head to Walmart or Home Goods or any place in between to put her fall swap package together, which must include at least one mug.
  • Send the package -- along with a little note with your name and how she can connect up with you -- by November 15 so that she receives it in time for Advent and Christmas.
  • Post a picture of your swap package when it arrives. Use the hashtag #hereiswap2018 on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. You can meet even MORE Reformation-lovin' ladies that way!
  • Finally, I'm hoping this swap will be a fun way for Lutheran women to encourage each other . . . and enjoy a few Advent- and Christmas-themed goodies along the way, but unfortunately, I can't be held responsible for your partner's actions. If she doesn't send you a package, feel free to follow up with her! A good dose of the Law never hurts. :) 
  • Enjoy!

 

it happened in Arkansas



I saw it coming. He stopped eating. His face started to turn red. He grunted. 

Then the diaper blew. 

We were in the van on our way to the National Chuckwagon Races in Clinton, Arkansas, with two kids half-asleep, rain pouring down, and only an hour to go. But when baby diapers blow, they blow all the way. 

 Chris pulled over at the next available spot so I could -- how can I put this? -- remedy the stinky situation. 

I looked up from the floor of the van where the baby was now smiling happily and said, "A liquor store?" 

 Then I saw the sign. "Last beer stop for 75 miles? Where ARE we?" 
Chris: "Parked next to a dumpster . . . with a Jesus fish in the logo."
 
Of course. 

Of course that's where we are. At a liquor store in the rain next to a dumpster . . .

WITH GOATS WATCHING THIS WHOLE THING GO DOWN.



Yes. Goats. 

I looked up and out the window and basically right into the faces of an entire herd of goats. Next to a liquor store dumpster. With a full baby diaper.

We laughed. Because when the diaper is full, that's what you do. 

Good news: Family + chuckwagon races = liquor store parking lot diaper changes totally worth it! 

I admit to only seeing about 1/10 of the actual event due to being frustrated with my three small children, one of whom decided she couldn't potty on the porta-potties lest she fall in, but from what I saw, we're totally going back . . . when the kids are 10, 9, and 8 respectively.


 

The races are held on Labor Day weekend each year and mimic the Cherokee Strip land run in 1893 when people were vying for settling millions of acres in Oklahoma. In a nod to that event, the chuckwagon race rules require both a chuckwagon and a guy on a horse (an outrider) to make it across the finish line in order to win.

The gun goes off, the outrider -- not yet on his horse -- tosses a foam "stove" in the back of the chuckwagon, which then cuts a figure 8 around a barrel. Then they're off!



The outrider must then mount his horse and race ahead of the chuckwagon. If his chuckwagon crosses the finish line before him -- even if it beats all the other chuckwagons -- they still lose. This is basically a tip of the hat to the land rush where folks on horseback would race ahead to stake a claim and then attempt to hold any other settlers off the property until the wagon with all the goods would arrive.

You can watch how it looks here.


The races are held on a private ranch. There's a natural sort of amphitheater so that those competing are down below and the rest of us watching were sitting in shaded canopies on bluffs overlooking the whole thing. It was blazing hot, but the western swing music was good, and if I hadn't been sweating buckets trying to feed a baby, I probably would have swilled a lemonade, put my feet up and stayed the whole week! 

 

Lest you think this is a small event, TWENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE and over SIX THOUSAND ANIMALS show up each year.

Twenty thousand!

That's a lot of buckaroos and buckarettes right there.  Most of them were just hanging out. Like tailgating . . . but way cooler and on horseback.


There were also a lot of cowboy hats.

A.

Lot.

Or ki-boy hats, if you're 2.5 years old.



If you ever end up attending, you can also see cattle dog competitions, take part in a cattle drive, watch pasture roping and goat roping, and even check out mules competing!

The food does not disappoint either . . . spoken as one who tried a corn dog . . . and taquitos. 

 
 And to top it off, even the announcers were pretty great. Neutral third parties? Not them.

If an outrider couldn't get on his horse, it was: "Gentlemen, we have met the enemy and it is US."

If a cowboy couldn't get his calf roped: "Somebody's gettin' fired back at the bunkhouse tonight!"

If a wagon driver couldn't get his team under control: "His reins are looser than the drinking age in Mexico!"



Got babies who need their diapers changed? Arkansas has a place for that.

Or a need to sit out under some trees and smell some dirt? Arkansas. Gotcha covered.

Want to watch some cowboy race wagons -- sometimes wildly out of control? Arkansas has that too.

Here's to speedy outriders, sweltering heat, peeping Tom goats, trusty chuckwagons and a good dumpster or two (in about ten years)!












silage 2k18

 

I love and loathe silage time on the farm. I love it because there's a lot of activity and people are (generally) excited for something new and different. Adrenaline runs high, and everybody bands together during the long (long!) days to get hundreds of acres of corn chopped for cow chow. 

I mean, they don't actually call silage "cow chow" but I kind of feel like there's a PR company out there somewhere who wishes they'd have thought of that instead of me. 

Unless someone else actually DID think of it before me, in which case let's forget we ever had this conversation. 


But it also means long days for everybody, including my farmer, and that part I don't love so much. I'm all, "Well, see you in two weeks when silage is over. Be a good boy. Don't forget to write. Remember I love you" when I hand him his lunchbox every morning. 

Maybe not quite like that.

 

Some years, my sister and her kids come for a week. Her boys get to ride in the silage chopper and stay out too late and wear pliers pouches, which makes them happy, and I get to hang out with one of my sisters and have some company during my farmer's 18-hour days, which makes me happy. 

This year, my sister-in-law and her little boy came for a week.

 

 We spent the first few days of silage drinking mimosas, dipping our toes in the kiddie pool, watching our children play quietly together and getting caught up on each other's lives. 

Hahahahaha.

Aaaaaaactually, we both had sick kids who found it fun to haul off and deck one another while we tried to sip just a slurp of coffee to help counteract the getting-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-said-kiddos-who-couldn't-sleep-or-breathe-due-to-junky-noses tiredness.

And you know what? WE STILL HAD SO MUCH FUN. 

If being a mom -- and silage -- have taught me anything, it's to be flexible. Kids get sick. Silage choppers break. Toddlers melt down. Trucks fall apart. They're just going to happen. And getting worked up about it doesn't help. You just roll with it.

Basically, silage season is like parenting. That's what I'm getting from this. 

 

In unrelated news, I struggle every year to know what to fix Chris to eat while he's driving the chopper. He told me once the only thing he has to look forward to during the day is what he's going to eat. Otherwise, it's corn. All day. Every day. Back and forth. Corn. Just corn. 

He also needs food he can eat with one hand because the other hand is busy driving and adjusting the chopper spout and hitting the radio button to tell truck drivers to back up or move over. He also tells me the food has to fit in a cup holder or be something he can wolf down while driving.

NO PRESSURE. Just make fun food that brightens his day that he can eat in about two bites.  

(Mommy!)

So this year, in an effort not to feed him sandwiches and chips for two weeks straight, I bought out Aldi's snack aisle. Nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, chocolate -- all the things. 

And my sister-in-law used her creative wizardry to whip up five different kinds of trail mix . . . without using a recipe, I might add. 

I'd be all, "Let's see if Pinterest has any idea what I can do with this massive pile of dried goods. Otherwise, here you go, honey: a giant bag of banana chips. See you in two weeks!"


I also packaged up mini cucumbers and sweet peppers the first week and popped a couple of those in his lunch box each day. 

My sister-in-law -- again with the awesomeness -- made up some protein bites with craisins and walnuts and chia seeeds, and those have been the hit of silage season thus far. 

(Sarah, you might be sorry you made these because you're probably going to be on tap for doing it next year too. Please don't hate me.)

 

And because this is the year of silage revelations, I also learned from my friend Megan than you can make meat and cheese sandwiches and freeze them.

FREEZE THEM.

This means no more making a gabillion sandwiches every night after the kids are in bed.

My world: revolutionized.

Instead, we put the sandwiches in the freezer, pulled them out the night before, added some veggies and pickles and lettuce, and voila!

But wasn't the bread soggy, you're wondering? No. No, it was not.

Now go and do likewise.

(Also, runzas for the one-handed-eating-in-the-chopper win! Again, my SIL. I'm not even sure I'm needed for meals at silage at the rate she's going.)


Add some tea, some Red Bull, and some peanut butter with celery and carrots in the bottom of a cup to polish it off (See? Cupholders!), and the guys had meals fit for kings!


Scratch that. But at least good enough for hardworking, worn out, hungry farmers.

 

Silage is all about timing. The corn's moisture has to be just right. The corn has to be a certain maturity. All the machinery has to be ready to go. The weather has to cooperate. There have to be enough truck drivers. And caffeine.

Lots of caffeine.

And when all those line up, silage runs like a well-oiled machine.

Like a chopper, for instance.

Or the Eagle, which is that sweet semi pictured below with carpeted doors that leaves everybody wanting to sing C.W. McCall's Convoy and wear 1970s aviators and grow big mustaches.


We had a lovely week with my sister-in-law and her little boy, and now we've plowed through another week of the kiddos and me at home, listening to Dad on the radio and anxiously awaiting his return to normal life, packing lunches, watching the weather app and praying everybody makes it through safely. 

And while we do, we remember that on the days silage doesn't quite run the way it's supposed to, when it seems far from a well-oiled machine, when kids are sneezing or axles break or rain halts everything in its tracks, we still get it done.

The cow chow still gets packed in a pile to feed the cows until next year's silage season.

The children get well again and beg for Mule rides.

The Red Bulls and iced coffees do their job.

The sun still shines.

And it's all good. 


Oh. Hi. Remember me?

Hello.

My name is Adriane. I used to blog here. Like, three months ago.

But then I was really, really pregnant . . . and tired . . . and hot . . . so, basically when the kids went to bed, I put my feet up and . . . didn't blog.

Now I'm back though! All three kids are napping, there's a load of sheets in the washer and clothes in the dryer. The dishwasher is unpacked.

And today's lunch dishes are still on the counter.

As it turns out, I've taken on a new mantra: Never do something while your children are napping that you could do while they're awake. Naps, for instance, don't happen when they're awake. Writing a little post doesn't happen when they're awake. So for now, the dishes can wait.


Here's how our last month went down:
  • We have a new baby in the house! His name is Conrad, and he's got the most smoochable cheeks ever. 
  • My mom -- who will undoubtedly earn an extra lamb sticker on her Jesus chart when she gets to heaven because of ME -- stayed for over a week when he was born and did all the things that I wouldn't let anyone else other than my mom or sisters do. My middle child even slept with her one night when his poor little teeth hurt so much that he stayed up for hours moaning from pain and a fever. People, she is that giving. I can't thank her enough. But really. 
  • Then I dinged my C-section incision and woke up with a giant, painful lump. I went to the doctor, she said it would likely go away, and we went on our merry way to my side of the family's every-other-year vacation. 
  • But then the pain got so bad that I could hardly walk and I was a mess, so we left vacation early. 
  • Then I cried for about an hour on the way home because I love my family to pieces and we never get to all be together and I was just so mad at myself that this happened. 
  • THEN I got sent to the ER because I was in so much ding dang pain, at which point they sliced into me again to no avail. 
  • THEN THEN I went back to my original doctor who sliced into me AGAIN to no avail. 
  • THEN THEN THEN she sent me to the hospital to do a minor surgery, which ended with me waiting 7 hours, getting into the OR at 9 at night, staying in the hospital over night and being loopy on pain meds. Again. 
  • And bless my mom, she came back and Did All The Things 2.0. Like carrying my 30 pound 16-month-old who loves her to pieces after she saved him from the Great Tooth Pain of 2018 and telling my 2.5-year-old roughly 87 times a day to use her "happy voice" instead of whining and even baking banana bread and taking the kids to the library and the grocery store because she is just that good.
My husband, of course, was busy doing all the other things. Like running a business and helping put kids to bed at night and reminding me to take my medicine because mom brain is a real thing, people, and getting phone calls from employees in the middle of the night while the baby is crying, and I think we can all agree he deserves a gold medal for surviving life with a wife who just had a baby and three kids under the age of 2.5.

Or at least a good stiff drink.

You're the best, honey.

So while I have had my moments of sniffles and frustration this month, I'm happy to report there's been even more to be grateful for: a mom who takes good care of me, kids who are very forgiving when mom has to feed a baby and they want to be read to, a doctor who didn't give up until she figured out what was wrong with me, a family who helped with my big kids when we were on vacation for all of -- well -- 48 hours, my favorite Labor and Delivery nurses who had a party in my room when I was back in the hospital the second time, modern medicine (because I am pretty sure if God had plunked me down into life on the prairie I would be one of the women who wandered off in a snowstorm never to be seen or heard from again), my husband's side of the family who made us meals and brought ice cream cakes that can save any bad day of toddler tantrums, and, well, the list could go on for about three more posts.


Actually, here's one more: Today was my baby's one-month doctor's appointment. I was taking all three kids myself because I actually like a good challenge and I needed to know that I could do it. (My doctor told me in the hospital that I'm "stoic" when it comes to pain. I said, "Not really. I just like to save melting down for when it's really warranted." And I figured one little trip to the doctor was not going to wreck the day or be the source of a meltdown.)

We got there early because I had to feed the baby. Then he blew out his diaper. Like, I think they heard the sonic boom a county away. So while I was changing him on the floor of the van, with my toddler gagging and almost throwing up because she does not handle bathroom related things well at all, people, he did it again. Boom number 2.

Then he potty-ed on his outfit.

I had a moment. But I was not going to let that defeat me. So instead I laughed a little inside, changed him again, put new clothes on him, resumed feeding, and worked through how to get all the kids inside: one walking, one in a stroller, and one in a baby carrier.

And then, because the Lord is merciful even though we are undeserving, or maybe because he heard the sonic boom(s), my husband showed up and took the two big kids with a big smile and said he'd walk them down to the grocery store for a treat while I took the baby in. And while I was all, "I can do it by myself! I can! Just let me try!" he reminded me that silage season starts next week and that he'll be gone all day for two weeks -- no bedtimes, no lunches together -- and he just wanted a little moment with his kids before he goes a long time without seeing them.

SWEETEST THING EVER.

So while the pediatrician told me how proud he was that my sons are being raised in a family where they'll be outdoors and learning how to drive a tractor and being around livestock, Dad and the big kids were eating donut holes and drinking apple juice and going for a little walk and loving it. Everyone wins.

(Except the scale. My boys are all in the huge percentile when it comes to height and weight, which I think means they'll be working cows and hogs at the ripe age of 3 at the rate they're going.)

This is a long way of saying that if you're feeling down or discouraged or apathetic or resentful, stop it, you crabby patty. We have so much to be thankful for -- even in the midst of incisions upon incisions, ruined vacations, and 102 degree fevers for a mom tackling three kids by herself while Dad is at work. (Forgot to mention that one.)

It's manageable. It's not the end of the world. It's not as big of a deal as you think. It's do-able.

That's what I've learned -- again and again -- this month, thanks to all the best people the Lord has plopped me in the midst of.

And speaking of do-able, dishes. I'm off to tackle them too.

Thanks for listening and not forgetting me, even though it's been, well, several months, which is basically 8 blog years.

You guys are the best too.

PS What are you thankful for this week especially?




kitchen wedding shower

 
This is my friend Martha. Martha's getting married!

Martha and I worked together for several years, but we started hanging out after working a conference together in Montana. I flew into Billings at 2:00 a.m. after Chicago flubbed up a flight. I had no baggage, which meant no clothes, no toothbrush, no nothing. You'd think it couldn't get worse, BUT THEN IT DID.


They gave me a Prius.

With California plates.

While in Montana.


For the girl who flew in in cowboy boots and now had no luggage, this was just too much.

(Actually, the real "too much" was wandering around Walmart at 3:00 in the morning with sticky contacts trying to figure out what I needed to survive until my suitcase arrived.)

But actually actually, the legit "too much" was when Martha showed up in HER rental vehicle . . . a beautiful, shiny, chocolatey brown . . . F-150.

 

My Prius could have fit in the bed of her truck. I died a little inside.

So when Martha asked if I wanted to head to a rodeo after we were done with work that evening, I said, "That would be great! . . . But you're driving. We are not going to be seen in Montana in a car that is basically a glorified bicycle."

And we've been friends ever since!

 

Now she's about to get married and because Martha is the queen of gift giving, taking care of other people, making complete strangers feel special, and just generally filling up people's cups, it was obvious we needed to make her feel even just a tiny bit as loved as she makes the rest of us feel.

 

She loves to bake. Hand pies, cakes, cookies . . . you name it, and I've agreed to taste test it.

We made an apple pie together once. And by "made" I mean, she made an apple pie and I ate it and it was delicious.

We also made dozens of cookies for the guys at the dairy during silage . . . and I think I ate at least half of those. Let's just say there's no one better suited for kitchen gadgets and new pie plates than her!

 

Keeping in the kitchen vein, we ate muffins, oohed and aahed over Kel's Cookie Jar's kitchen-themed cookies, and indulged in peanut butter granola parfaits with cranberry spritzers to wash it all down.

And we all decided we needed new Tupperware and griddles and cookbooks too.


Or Martha could just use hers and make us all something delicious to eat while we sit around and chat. We're really pretty flexible.

But perhaps that's just the point: Salad bowls and salt and pepper shakers break and shatter.


And yet, as my pastor noted in our wedding sermon, "There is a promise for Holy Marriage that makes Christians bold and confident. Five virgins were shut out, but the other five, who also fell asleep, who also failed in their duties, who were no better than those shut out and were in no way perfect, went in. They went in by grace. This is not a vain hope – either for marriage or for eternity. The undeserved mercy won by Christ’s death gives power for Christians to live Christian lives. That includes living together as husband and wife – a most Christian way to live."

So here's to you, Martha and Dan, to a life of forgiveness, grace, love, cookies, pancakes and God's unending mercy.


And as long as we're at it, thanks for traipsing around in a small hurricane with me so that I could snap an engagement picture or two. And then, when you are 20 and 30 and 50 years down the road, remembering God's goodness to you and your marriage, you can look back and see how He has preserved you, blessed you . . . and how awesome pie birds and KitchenAid mixers really are.



eMeals: the hungry girl's answer to meal planning



Who here loves to eat?

I mean, meal plan?

Me too.

I'm a little Type A in most things -- ok, all the things -- but not having to worry about what we're going to have for supper when I'm hungry, my farmer is headed home after a busy day, and two little people are begging for food is helpful.

The hitch is that I don't like leftovers. Or vegetables. Also, healthy food. Or really anything other than cereal and tacos and chicken salad because I'm basically a three-year-old at heart.

Whenever I'd sit down to meal plan, I'd spend an hour looking through cookbooks only to end up annoyed and frustrated that -- say it with me -- "there's nothing to eat."

My husband loved that.

No, really. He did.




But if there's one thing I've learned from my dad, it's that you don't get to gripe about things. You have a problem, you find a solution, you fix it, you move on to the next thing. Bam. Cross it off the list. No indecision. No whining. Identify it, rectify it.

Thus, eMeals.

I did it. I signed up.

Now I get a weekly email containing a meal plan for an entire week's worth of suppers. It includes the recipes as well as a grocery list.

(For my Iowa people, "supper" is "dinner." Don't try to understand. I don't get it either.)

You can also get weekly recipes for breakfasts, lunches, desserts and special occasions. (Cinco de Mayo chicken enchiladas with red chile gravy, roasted tomatillo and poblano salsa and mexican street corn, here we come!)

It's a year-long subscription, so even if I decide to cancel it when the year is up, I'll have a pile of good recipes our family can use, and I won't have to go through the agony of not knowing what to cook ever again. It's already planned for me!



There are several meal plans available to choose from -- low budget, low calorie, clean eating, quick and healthy, kid-friendly, paleo, etc. -- and you can switch between them as often as you'd like. Right now, because all I really want to eat is donuts (I blame the baby . . . this can't possibly be my fault, right?), we're trying the clean eating plan, where "The only things added or processed are convenience and efficiency."

I'm not really a "clean eating" kind of gal. I mean, I'd prefer they add some CrunchWraps and a giant pizza, and then process me up a pan of Scotcheroos and some chocolate milk, but I'm trying here. Mostly.

And so far, everything's been good.

Not, you know, homemade macaroni and cheese good but close.

We've enjoyed honey-ricotta toast with strawberries and almonds for Sunday brunch . . .



turkey bagel sandwiches with a zesty feta spread and balsamic grape salad for lunch, and a chicken peanut stir fry with a sauteed snap pea and bell pepper toss for supper that my husband gave five stars.

We've had a Mediterranean chicken and quinoa salad we both really liked and a chicken caesar pasta salad that will become a summertime staple.

This week we're trying out citrus flank steak with veggie kabobs, Greek hummus-coated chicken tenders with roasted broccoli and tomatoes, and a tuna-cucumber-tomato salad with baked pita chips.

All to be followed with a gallon of ice cream.

Ok, or at least crunchy fried ice cream or chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiches.

Yeah, I bought the dessert plan too.

What'd you expect? A miracle?!


Easter brunch menu

 

It's confession time: I don't like ham.

I know.

My dad's a pork producer.

Bacon put me through college.

I have many a hog to thank for where and who I am today.

But I remain undeterred: I still don't like ham.

Easter at my grandma's house made me wish for four stomachs. It was filled with appetizers and dips and creamed corn and creamy pea and lettuce salads and rolls slathered in butter and Jello layers upon Jello layers and . . . what my ten-year-old self deemed rubbery, gross, yuck ham.

Or as my sister-in-law aptly put it: "Some are fatty and taste rubbery and overly salty and you practically have to rip it out of your mouth to get a bite and then chew for 5 minutes." 

Of course, she also pointed out that it may have been the TYPE of ham my grandma served or maybe the preparation method, both valid points.

Or it may have just been me. Until recently, I didn't like steak for the same reasons. Way too much chewing for a small amount of meat, IMO.

Ok, it's definitely me. 

So until I master the art of the ham, we're going an Easter brunch route this year instead: cheesy baked grits, peppered bacon, brown sugar pecan coffee cake, fruit and granola pizza, and a dish filled with sausage and cheese and eggs, which I may or may not share with anyone else in attendance. For starters.

And a dear friend who is joining us has graciously offered to bring a double chocolate trifle, and now I basically just want to skip lunch and go straight to dessert.

Also . . . mimosas. Not for me, regrettably, but for our guests.

So now that that's out of the way, help a girl out. What are your ham recommendations? What are your go-to recipes? How do you guarantee it won't be like eating a rubber chicken for Easter lunch?

And if you're in a sharing mood, what's on your Easter menu?

I'm curious and all ears!

{But for the record, I still don't like ham.}

P.S. Sorry, Dad.




Blogging tips