Sunday, November 30, 2008


The Hargus family (Hargus' plural = Hargi) came to visit us on their way back to Texas from Michigan. The visit was short, but sweet (about 15 hours, including sleep). It was nice to visit with friends that we haven't seen for several months! We met the Hargus family when Emma was a baby - before Leslie was pregnant with Austin (and he's 3 1/2 now). Between the two families, we have 7 kids - ages 9 to 11 months. They played amazingly well together. I'm not saying it was quiet, but they certainly had fun! The two five year olds - Truman & Emma!
Harrison & Ethan are about 9 months apart in age.
Matt with the Hargus boys!
Baby Anna was sad when Mom went upstairs.
Yeah - mom came back for me!

Thanks for visiting the House of Payne! We had a lot of fun & can't wait for the next visit!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated Thanksgiving today with some of our new friends. We met Kenn & Lisa and their sons at the boys' gymnastics class, only to discover that Lisa teaches at our elementary school and that Noah (their older son) is in Cub Scouts with our boys also! Needless to say, we have seen quite a bit of their family and have struck up a nice friendship. Tommie & I both enjoy their company and the boys are great friends! Noah is 7 and Evan is 5 (the same ages as Harrison & Truman). We joined them for their family Thanksgiving at their home in the country right outside of our town.
Kenn carving the turkey & ham.
Ember - their new Golden Retriever puppy (with their niece). Lisa has trained & shown dogs for most of her life and they started breeding Golden Retrievers about 10 years ago. Right now, they have 5 dogs, including the new puppy.

Lisa with two of her other Goldens. They have 13 acres, so they have plenty of room for dog kennels & fenced in dog runs.
The weather was beautiful, so the boys ran around the basement & the woods in super hero costumes with swords. Unfortunately, when the boys were playing in & around the treehouse - Noah got hit in the head with the wooden ladder. The boys all ran to the house screaming & Noah came with blood running down his face. So, they ended up in the ER and Noah got 5 staples in his head. Poor kid! It was a bummer of a way to end the Thanksgiving festivities, but we did enjoy each others' company.
After dinner and dessert, we headed home for naps, then on to the cheap theater to see Wall-E. The boys had a great time!
We are so thankful today for our families, new friends & three wonderful boys - as well as too many other things to list here! :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes

Oooh - I am still in a cooking mood! (It rarely happens, so I'm going with it!) :)

Here are my two favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I am making both to take to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner. The only time we ever have these is at Thanksgiving and it has probably been at least 5 years since I've had either one. I cannot wait!!

Thanksgiving Fruit Salad
2 C sugar
1 C water
Make syrup by boiling together & cool.
Puree 1 can apricots
1 pt. frozen strawberries
1 can crushed pineapple
3-4 slice bananas
pinch of salt
1/2 can Sprite
Mix syrup, fruit, salt & Sprit in 9x13 pan & freeze.
whip 1 egg
2/3 C sugar
juice of 1 orange (1/3 cup)
juice of 1 lemon (2T)
Cook at med-low until thick, stirring constantly. Fully cool.
Fold in 1 C whipping cream (whipped). Spread on frozen fruit. Freeze.
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 C mashed sweet potatoes
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C milk
1/3 C butter
1 tsp vanilla
Mix together - put in 9x13 pan.
1 C coconut
1 C nuts
1 C brown sugar
1/3 C flour
1/3 C butter
Blend first 4 ingredients - add melted butter. Sprinkle over potatoes.
Bake at 350 degrees until brown. (Approx. 30-45 minutes.)

My new favorite seasonal drink!

I really enjoy specialty drinks - especially those that are specific to a holiday or season. I mean I REALLY enjoy them! I love to put specialty creamer into my coffee according to the seasons too.

Fall: apple cider, apple cider float - pour apple cider over Blue Bunny cinnamon ice cream
Winter & Football season: hot chocolate
Tuesdays at El Chico: frozen strawberry margaritas (oh - that's not a holiday OR a season?!?)
Summer: virgin pina colada
Sick season: hot tea
Christmas: wassail, egg nog

Now - I found my new favorite seasonal drink for Christmas: Candy Cane Milk!

Thanksgiving Mission

Yesterday, our family volunteered at the local Rescue Mission. We have searched several years for a mission opportunity that the whole family can participate in. We finally found one! I didn't take many pictures, so I took a photo of the free t-shirt we received for helping out.

Each year, the rescue mission gathers donated canned food items & volunteers hand out the food. Each person/family that receives a Thanksgiving food box participates in a church service, then comes outside to the tent to receive their box of food (including a turkey). A volunteer assists with each family - sliding & carrying the box, while going down the "assembly line". Volunteers on the opposite side of the family put items in. I was handing out canned corn, while Tommie & the boys helped re-stock the yams, corn, peas & beans. It was a lot of fun & the kids were able to help out too!

My favorite part was interacting with the people who were receiving the boxes. So many of them were so grateful and happy! It makes my heart happy to see that something so easy for us to do blessed so many people. Sometimes I am such a spoiled brat that I get fussy when I don't get exactly what I want. These people were so happy to receive a small box of food - something that we take for granted daily.

I do not post this to brag about our family's involvement. I am humbled and think that I received just as much from the experience as those receiving food. I am reminded once again:

"...remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Acts 20:35b

Sunday, November 23, 2008

30 Day Cooking

A few times per year, I try to get together with a friend or two to do some 30 day cooking. I first heard about this type of cooking from Mom 2 Mom in Bloomington, Illinois (back in 2000). I honestly cannot remember who I cooked with first or how many times I've done it, but I fondly remember the hours that I've spent with dear friends slaving away over the stove with the goal of filling the freezer with enough food to feed my family for a month! I am the type of person who will work extra hard to find a way to do something better, faster or easier. Even though 30 day cooking is a lot of work, I find it much more preferable to figuring out what to cook on a daily basis.

A few weeks ago, I was realizing that our family's schedule has gotten busier with school activities and other involvements - and it is getting more and more difficult to spend time making a quailty meal for my family of an evening. McDonalds and frozen pizza only get you so far! So, I e-mailed three girls (Natalie, Paula & Marsha) in our new small group to explain the idea and see if they were interested or had heard of it. None of the three had cooked this way before, but all three wanted to try it! So, we started planning!

We got together one evening for a "girls' night out" recipe planning party! We chose the recipes that we all wanted to try out. Then, groups of 2 or 3 of us got together on other occasions to type in the recipes, plan out the shopping day, multiply ingredients, tally ingredients and make a shopping list.

Thursday, Marsha & I got together to shop for dry goods - 1st at Sam's Club, then at Wal-Mart. Because of time constraints with picking up kids from school, stores opening late, etc. - we had to split the shopping into two days. On Friday, we picked up the rest of the cold/frozen foods at Wal-Mart, then Sam's. When you are grocery shopping for a month's worth of food for four families, you get quite a few stares! Just to give you an idea, we bought 40 pounds of pork chops, eleven 6 pound bags of frozen chicken breasts, six 5 pound round roasts, 20 cans of cream of potato soup, 7 food service sized cans of fruit cocktail, five 6 packs of green, yellow & red peppers, etc. etc. etc. It was hilarious!

Marsha & I checking out at Sam's Club during the cold/frozen shopping trip! Almost the entire conveyor belt is meat - plus more in the cart!

On Friday, Marsha browned 10 pounds of ground beef, Natalie threw the roasts into the crockpots (4 of them) before bed and everyone gathered the largest stock pots, bowls and measuring cups they could find! Saturday, we met at Natalie's house bright & early to begin cooking at 8:00 a.m. We had 16 recipes to complete - 13 main dishes & 3 sides. We multiplied most recipes by 8 so each family could go home with two.

Natalie & Marsha chopping chicken & peppers!

After 12 hours, a few ingredient miscalculations - resulting in two trips to the store & two trips to Paula's house - and a family emergency (Natalie's mom had a heart attack, so she spent most of the day at the hospital!), we finished everything!! (Plus, Natalie is about 35 weeks pregnant, Paula is nursing a baby and Marsha had surgery on her toe the day before!)Poor Paula doesn't eat red meat, agreed to cook it for her family anyway - and ended up being the one to handle both the steak & pork chops! Sorry, Paula!!

For $212 per family, we each took home:

25 family-sized main dishes, 3 lunch-sized main dishes and 10 side dishes!

Natalie's freezer - not quite all of the food packed in yet! Her husband, John, went out of his way to help us out while Natalie was at the hospital. He was a huge help!

I consider that a very successful cooking day! So today, we are each taking time to rest & recouperate! I hope we can plan another cooking day soon (but not too soon!).

(The recipes we cooked include: Chicken marinade (two varieties), Steak marinade, Chicken Chili, Cheese Veggie Soup, Chicken Chowder, Italian Beef, Apple Glazed Pork Chops, Raspberry Tilapia, Citrus Fish Marinade, Spanish Chicken & Rice, Fruit Slush, Sweet Potato & Squash Bake, Chicken Fajitas, Wet Burrito, Meatballs and Orange Glazed Carrots!)

Raingutter Regatta

On Friday evening, the boys participated in the Cub Scout Raingutter Regatta! They have worked on shaping, painting & decorating their boats for the past 2 weeks - and finally race day arrived! At the event, they pair up the kids and race one boat vs. another boat in side by side raingutters filled with water.
At events like this, you will find that most of the dads pretty much make the boats for the kids. We choose to allow our children the freedom to create their own boats (I think you can tell by the paint job!). But, we value their ability to create - rather than our ability to help them win! :) It was a double-elimination race and Harrison lasted through 4 or 5 races. Franklin made it through 3. For the tag-a-long bracket, they only did single elimination. Truman really enjoyed his one race! :) All three boys did a great job with creating the boats & racing. We are proud of them!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cub Scout Bobcat Ceremony

Franklin & Harrison each earned their Bobcat rank at the November pack meeting. The Bobcat rank is a section that any new scout must complete in their book before they can move on to the rest of the book. Both boys worked very hard on this & were recognized for their achievement. They also received patches for attending the Fall Campout and for attending Field Day. Congratulations, boys!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Catch Up!

It seems that I'm playing catch up these days... after being down & out with a massive cold/ache illness for almost a week, then cycling through all 5 of us having the intestinal flu over the past 6 days. Will the pile of laundry ever get smaller? Will all three of my children attend school on the same day again? Will our home improvement projects ever be finished? Will I ever be able to rid my house of germs? Tune in next week to find out... ha, ha

I managed to convince 3 girls from my small group to cook with me this Saturday (30 day cooking), so I've spent many hours teaching them the process and getting all of the prep work done ahead of time. Friday is shopping day & Saturday is cooking day! I've never cooked with 4 people before, so we'll see of it is extra fun or if we'll wish we'd never attempted it! :) I'll try to remember to take lots of pics.

That's what's going on in Payne's World. Party Time! Excellent! (I guess when it's after midnight & I'm exhausted, I pull out the Wayne's World references - yikes!) I'm off to bed! Catch you another day...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Portraits

Yesterday, I took the boys to Sears for their annual portraits. We skip the school pictures and go straight to the studio once per year. This time, I bought the photo CD, so I'm considering using one of the pics for our Christmas card. Not sure about that yet. Either way, I think I've got some pretty good lookin' boys here!
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Reflections on Fall

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love the weather, the colors and the activities. Visiting the pumpkin patch, cheering at football games, sitting around the campfire, hiking through the crunchy leaves... plus, we celebrate 3 family birthdays in the fall. My favorite clothing to wear is a sweatshirt & jeans - perfect in the fall. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection & gratefulness that wraps up how I feel about the whole season. I'm sad because with all of the rain we received this week, the leaves are about 3/4 of the way off of the trees now. The weather is supposed to turn very cold this weekend with a chance of snow flurries. I don't want fall to end so soon... Here's a photo that I took about 1/2 mile down the road from our neighborhood about 2 weeks ago. Beautiful...
Daniel 2:20b-23a
Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to Make Your Brother Mad

Harrison's assignment was to make a poster about a "How To". He decided to make a poster giving instructions on a topic he is an expert in!

How to Make Your Brother Mad
1. First, boss him around.

2. Next, hitt him.

3. Then, yell at him.

4. Then, let him tell on you.

5. Finally, repeat steps 1-4.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Harrison for President

Harrison (2nd grader) brought this home from school the other day. I thought it was really cute...
Two reasons I would make a good President are: My name is Harrison and some priesedent's names are Harrison. I like this state. I like this country.

The person I would want to be my Vice President is: Jackson. Because he is my best friend.

This person would make a good Vice President because: He's my best friend and he is good.

Two people I would choose to help me and give me advice are: Alex and Brodey because they are tough.

I would choose these people because: they are tough.

The pet I would have in the White House is: a german sheperd.
[Note: the wagging tail.]

A problem facing kids that I would work to solve is: Do not let them hit, push, and run in hallways.

As President, I would solve this problem by: tell my gards to be looking in the schools.

As President, the three things I would do to help the American people are: for them to obey laws, to help people, and to be good people.

Self portrait of President Harrison: [Note the "sticking up" hair.]

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Misery loves company

They say that misery loves company. Would you like to join me? :) I am on day 3 of a killer cold/achy body illness and I'm ready to feel better. I'm getting absolutely nothing done and I don't like that fact. I'm trying to stay positive. I'm positive that I'm sick of being sick! I'm not sure if you can tell I'm sick from my dull eyes, red nose or the pile of kleenexes that seems to follow me around the house...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Yesterday at school, the boys each had the opportunity to vote for the next President. The school is going to give the kids the result today, before the real election is done - so we'll see how accurately a bunch of elementary school kids are in predicting the next President! Based on my kids' votes, I'd be interested to see what kind of "education" they received about each candidate ahead of the vote.

Franklin (9) voted for John McCain. He had no clear reason why.

Harrison (7) voted for Barack Obama. He said, "McCain steals stuff from people. That's what the kids in my class said."

Truman (5) voted for John McCain. He said, "I voted for the J guy, because he went to war. I think I want a president who likes to war."

I sure hope the general American voting population is a bit more educated about the lives & policies of each of the men running for president. My personal opinion is that we cannot expect to have good choices for President, if we are not paying close attention to our local political races. Where do you think presidential candidates come from? They had to start somewhere. If we carefully screen our local, state and federal representatives closely and vote the right people in, we have a good chance to get a better presidential candidate in the future. That's my soapbox, now I'm stepping off of it! I'm going to go stick my head in the sand - let me know when the decision is final...

Monday, November 3, 2008


I found a neat tool that can create things like this! Not sure how to make it bigger, but it's a fun tool to play with!

image created by: