cookie baking

She spent 10 minutes making the cookies, 10 minutes scooping them out, and a solid 45 minutes placing each sprinkle in the correct place.

And I don't ever want to forget it.  


Here I Swap 2020


Mug quotation: "It’s got to go bang and it has to be fun, otherwise I won’t come!" - Karlsson, from The World’s Best Karlsson, by Astrid Lindgren

You guys. We have been swapping mugs for four years. 


 What started out as me being all millenial-ish AKA miffed that other people were having delightful little swaps and the Lutheran ladies weren't in on the fun has turned into all of us being one year away from a five-year-anniversary of mug swappery! 

 Earlier this year, a lot of you joined in the non-mug mug swap, where you sent e-gifts to our pastors, deaconesses and others on the front lines of spiritual care this year. It was great seeing firsthand how big the hearts of LCMS women can be. 

So here we are--finally--ready to swap real mugs again in 2020. Two things I ask in advance: (1) Please don't sign up in you aren't 100% committed to sending a mug. I like this swap. I don't like having to follow up with people because they didn't uphold their end of the deal. Don't be that girl. (2) Thank you in advance for your patience. I've got a four little children and a husband to care for, and this mug swap--as fun as it is--isn't my first priority. They are. So thank you for being understanding if I don't reply to a query or email super fast.

Now . . . are you ready to swap?


 1. I'm going to pair you up with another Lutheran gal and send you both the information you'll need to know about one another (names and addresses, etc.). You're matched up with one person, and she's matched up with you.

2. Put together a little care package for her. Add as many goodies to the package as you'd like -- as long as it doesn't cost you more than $20.00 -- but you have to at least include a mug. (I mean, this is why it's called a mug swap.)

3. Stick that package in the mail! (But seriously, for real, because having to track people down who don't hold up their end of the bargain makes me grumpy.)

4. Give your mailman the friendliest wave ever while waiting for your package to arrive. He holds the keys to you getting that mug . . . and maybe the presidential election . . . so go easy on him. 

Make sense?

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

  • Sign-ups close October 9, and you'll receive information on your swap friend by October 28. (Yes. It may take that long to send all the emails out. I'm a wife and a mom of a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-month old. Thank you for understanding.)
  • Send the mug/package -- along with a little note with your name and how she can connect up with you -- by November 10.
  • Post a picture of your swap package when it arrives. Use the hashtag #hereiswap2020 on Instagram, Facebook, or whatever socials you're currently digging.
  • Finally, I'm hoping this swap remains a helpful, joyful way for Lutheran women to encourage each other, 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 via email or tag her on Facebook. Let the Law do its work.
  • Now let's get swapping!

dead spiders and newborn kittens

 If anyone needs us, we'll be under the deck talking to our five new kittens. And by "we" and "us" I mean my two little boys who race to the back porch every morning before breakfast to watch the kittens fumbling around the back yard with their mama before retreating to the shade and quiet of the back deck.

The timing for kittens is providential, because we finished reading Charlotte's Web together last week. My four-year-old looked at me in horror when we reached the end and said, "Charlotte DIES?!" 
Thankfully, though, there's this week, where new kittens are helping to make spider deaths more bearable. And as a result, the two big kids are doing a lot of pretending to be Charlotte, Templeton, and Wilbur throughout the day, with a fair amount of "My name is Zuckerman, and I'm going to chop you up into bacon, Wilbur!" tossed in for good measure. 
Side note: If you haven't heard a three-year-old sing, "Fine swine. Wish he were mine. What if he's not so big?" thirty times in a row, have you really lived?
Watching my daughter swing in the front yard while chatting with herself, one of her favorite things to do, brings back memories from my own childhood where I spent a lot of my days . . . swinging and chatting with myself. Yesterday she told me excitedly that she found Charlotte and pointed to a spiderweb and spider hanging from the tree. Then she asked, "Why is she not talking to me though, Mom?" only to be told by her brother, "Animals only talk to animals." 

That settled that.

So if you stop by our house and are referred to as a pig, a goose, a spider, a rat, a Lurvy, a Fern, or a Zuckerman, please don't take offense. We're all animals all the time right now, and for farm kids, I can't imagine anything much better.

Camp Covid-NINteen

The Wall Street Journal JUST ran an article about people getting creative with summer camps in their own backyards, since so many elsewhere have been cancelled, and I texted my sisters to say, "We were hip and cool and camping before it was hip and cool to camp!"

When Chris and I first got married, I invited all my nieces and nephews to the farm for Camp Nin (the word that's easiest when you're little and can't say Adriane), and it's become a summer tradition ever since. To be fair, the first year I was a zealous camp director and made everyone t-shirts and bandanas and goodie bags . . . and this year I was a slightly less organized camp director and spent some time with my good friends Oriental Trading Company and Amazon.

Nevertheless, we prevailed. Camp Covid-NINteen must go on!

We had track and field events, like three-legged races with the tallest and shortest among us.

We had storytime each day, led by a different cousin, complete with crafts and snacks.

We went on picnics to the lake and ran up and down hills and fell and got very dirty.

We recreated Monet's Water Lilies to the best of our abilities.

We went to the Battle of Lexington Museum and learned about the battle of the hemp bales.

We learned about bird identification and painted our own birdhouses.

We worked on hand-eye coordination. Or maybe just getting sweaty in the Missouri heat.

We learned about Georgia O'Keefe's flower paintings and attempted to recreate them ourselves.

We had spa night for the little girls, where the cucumbers meant to calm our eyes ended up being a snack instead.

We raced each other wearing giant cardboard feet and tried not to fall down.

We survived (barely) a Civil War Escape Room.

We ate all our breakfasts on the porch so that we could listen to the birds, wave at the neighbors, and enjoy the sunshine.

We got to see new baby kittens!

We left the boys alone to have a game night with no girls allowed.

We read a lot of books.

And we even sneaked in a couple rounds of bingo before heading home.

No summer camp? Who needs it? We have Pinterest, moms, Aldi, Dollar Tree, and kids who are just excited to be with their cousins, learn new things, and try their hardest not to have to go to bed at night. After all, isn't that what camp is all about?

Rhubarb Cherry Crunch

Regrettably, due to youth and naivete, I spent a large portion of my childhood saying, "No, thank you" when my mom offered rhubarb cherry crunch for dessert. This is a poor decision I'll have to live with for my entire life.

You, on the other hand, still have a chance to live your best rhubarb life starting here and now.

Just don't add the walnuts to the crumble. I mean, you CAN . . . if you're a squirrel or a chipmunk or some other kind of rodent who enjoys eating things that taste like tree bark. But if you're none of those things and can still dig walnuts and voluntarily wreck a perfectly good dessert by smothering the rhubarb and cherry deliciousness in them, we may never be able to see eye to eye. Or I may just encourage you to go to a doctor. It could go either way.

Regardless, try this dessert warm with a little milk poured over the top. It may not be the normal way to eat it, but it's the Iowa way, which clearly makes it the best way. Enjoy!

4 c. rhubarb
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 jar cherry pie filling
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. oats
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. sifted flour
pinch of salt
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. walnuts

Place rhubarb in 11x7x1 1/2" baking dish. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thick. Stir in pie filling and extract. Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, salt, and butter until crumbly. Add walnuts. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

working cows

Hats (cowboy and otherwise) off to all the men and women working cows on hot days in full sun with no shade: running back and forth, climbing up and down, sweating bullets, wearing hats, swigging water, and doing it all while heifers let off plenty heat of their own. 


And, just in case it needs to be repeated, here's to the generations of farmers working together, regardless of the size of their farm: to the grandmas helping the vet, the dads running the equipment, and the little girls talking non-stop about heifers taking rides to grow big out in Kansas. It's good stuff that goes on here, even when sweat is plentiful and sunburn is inevitable. 

We're grateful. 

Wet Dogs

This spring, our prayer for you is that you are released from your shelter-in-place orders ASAP and that you are able to celebrate with as much joy and glee as Colt and Petunia after a dip in a pond. 


Just don't go too crazy. You're not used to this much excitement, you know.

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