Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Force Feeding The Love

The other day I had a grand idea to start this "food" blog.   Writing is a vulnerable activity for me, but on a whim put out a poll asking if anyone would want to read a blog focusing on food and recipes I try.  Obviously it was not unanimous because not everyone wants to see this stuff or maybe they just could care less what my opinion is...and that's ok ...

                                             As Metallica sang "Turn the page".

I always hate when people ask me for a recipe because I rarely use one other than for the concept.  But I've been trying harder to remember and measure what I put in my food.  I love to cook and bake and it makes me happy to make others happy with food.  We can blame Grandma...for someone who doesn't believe in making a kid clean their plate...she loves to make you try something.  It's a little thing that we like to call "Force Feeder By Nature" in our family.  

While it can be a detriment to have the ability to make almost anything taste great (dieting...) it is also a blessing.  There are few things in life I have control over but feeding my people some pretty darn awesome food is one of them.  

                                            Like I say... #allthelovemakesittastebetter 

To read my newest Blog "All The Love Makes It Taste Better" click on the link here at the top of The Brown Blog.

Monday, February 12, 2018

When the sun doesn't shine.

     Our little wanna-be farm has so many fun moments.  There seems to always be life bursting out of the walls of this place.  Noise and excitement and new kittens or puppies or goats, etc to watch and they are fluffy and cute and bouncing.  It is just fun.  We probably take it for granted, I'm sure it would be entertaining to others. 

     But then...there are some really depressing moments.  Like devoting hours and hours into a bottle baby that just absolutely loves you.  And watching it thrive and jump and play until one day something is suddenly wrong and no amount of attempts to help can keep it alive. 

     Or having a doe that you have decided will be having her last kids for you and finding her before she has the chance to make it into her kidding pen yet with perfect twin babies that didn't make it and wondering if you had just been a little earlier then maybe, just maybe, they might have made it. 

     Or having an old doe that has become a matriarch of sorts injure her back and is unable to come back from it and having to put her down. 

     And this morning when we woke up in typical Monday morning fashion, running about 15 minutes behind schedule.  The kids ran out to do chores and of course, Cass runs back in to tell me that Beth had her babies and she thought they were dead.

     We have been waiting on Cassidy's goat Beth to have her kids.  Beth's sad little humanized backstory is that last year she had the cutest little doeling that found its way out of the pen and was squished by the steer.  We were super bummed but moved her to the doe lot and have been looking forward to this year and while she was waiting to have her kids, the doe next to her kidded and rejected her baby.  This was our little bottle baby.  Beth tried so hard to clean him up through the gates and he spent more time worrying about her messing with him than he did trying to eat.  Finally, on a whim, I put them together while I was feeding him.  He instantly became a better eater, happy as could be while she cleaned on him.  She became his mom.  That was her baby.  She would even let him nurse off of her, which is basically unheard of for a goat to do.  After he died, she lay in the same spot for hours and hours.  This sounds crazy but I SWEAR she was depressed. 

     This morning, even thought there was NO time to mess with this, I was out there in my pj's rubbing down frozen wet babies while Beth just stood there.  She wasn't cleaning up her own mess like they normally do, let alone her kids.  Cass was watching and worrying and we were so excited when I realized that the perfect brown doeling was still alive.  We brought her in and laid it on the heat register while the kids ran out the door just before the bus pulled away from the driveway.  Valentines Box forgotten, Breakfast forgotten and School books forgotten and who knows what on their clothes. 

     Unfortunately, nothing could be done for the little doe and I was in and out of the house checking on the remaining kid.  She still had hardly any interest in it and was not cooperating with him trying to eat but he was cleaner and starting to dry and was warm.  I left for work feeling pretty much hopeless. 

     I was SO RELIEVED to hear his little squeaks when I went home at lunch.  He was still weak and stumbling but she stood for him to eat.  I could see him getting stronger after he ate.  I'm so thankful for his stubborn little self and that she is coming around to him.  Hopefully we're out of the woods but I know from experience that the sun doesn't always shine.    It's not always sunshine and roses and bouncing fluffy babies.  We can only hope for the best!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Everyone needs a "Junior Year"

     Through childhood, the teen years, as young adults, we can only be so lucky to get a truly teachable life lesson.  One that has a spot in a conversation many years later, told and retold.  A lesson that is nostalgic but also purposeful.   Painful and appreciated and moments that we never knew just how impactful they would be.

     My kids are only beginning to be "involved" so I've only had the opportunity to tell this story twenty-or so times.   Last night...I could have said my favorite phrase.  "Let me tell you about my junior year."

     I love volleyball,  it is in my blood.  I started playing in elementary school and fumbled my way through game after game until it became a second nature.  Twice a day practices, Jr High, High School, Summer camps, gallons of sweat, broken bones and loving every minute.   I could go on and on...

     My Junior year began the season like any other.   We had amazingly talented girls above and below me.  We sweated and rallied and practiced until we puked.  It was glorious.  For reasons I'm still uncertain I sat through the first game.  And the second.  And the next.  And so the season goes.  I loved the friends that were my team and I sat, not over by Coach, but on the end.   Wayyyyyy down there at the end of a long row of chairs.  Kneepads up, hair braided,  stretched and warmed up and cheering my head off.  Yelling and smiling and fetching water bottles.  And sometimes in the end of the hitting line during warmups or during a difficult practice, my eyes were burning.  My teeth were clenched.  And I was angry.  I wanted to smash the ball through the gym wall...or take out the coach.  But I jumped and smiled and skipped  and clapped and I. Was. Happy.

    It would have been selfish to want my team to be unsuccessful.  Or to wish a teammate, my friends to make errors.  I finished the season loving Volleyball just as much as when the season began.  That year when we all met up for our Sports Banquet I was shocked to hear my name.  SPORTSMANSHIP.  Me, the invisible chick on the end of the bench.  Not MVP or Most Kills...have to play to get those.  But maybe something even better...

     Senior year, I was the Co-captain.   Started every game.  I still loved the game.  And I had total respect for that Coach (who ironically is my kid's 8th grade Language Arts teacher...I have a terrible time saying Mrs and not Coach).
     One cannot be surprised that my girls began attending the little volleyball camps as soon as they were able.  I've hoped that they would love the sport that I do.  And after 6th grade volleyball tryouts, I told my Junior year story.  After 7th grade volleyball tryouts,  I told my Junior year story.   After camps and open gyms and practices outside of school, tears and squished hopes of ever making the team,  I told my Junior year story.

     Perhaps her biggest accomplishment will be walking into a  gym of "seasoned" players in the final year of middle school and being willing to TRY.  One last time.  Openly accepting possible rejection and being willing to TRY.   I sat in the car, sick to my stomach and hating the uncertainty I knew she felt.  Words can not say how proud I was.  But I am soooo happy that I didnt have to tell my Junior year story that day.

     So last night after a victorious first game, a great effort by girls that are also friends,  and a front row seat from the sidelines I wanted to tell her my Junior year story.   But I didn't need to.  After can you wish a bad game on your team?  On your friends?

You don't.  It's called SPORTSMANSHIP.  And it's worth it.  I hope I don't have to tell my Junior year story ever again.  And I also hope that I do.  To her or to her siblings, I have total faith that each time they hear it they will have experienced a "character building moment".

As a team.  For the team.   Even on the bench, you have a role.


Monday, January 8, 2018

The Most WONDERFUL time of year!

Christmas is my time.  I love all things Christmas, decorations, Christmas trees, traditions...all of it!   There are so many things that have to be fit into the season and it's crazy but full of memories.

And because my Ty was born on Christmas Day...that makes the day even more fun! 5 Birthday/Christmas' so far. (He LOVES all things Christmas too)

We celebrate his birthday as early in December as possible!  For one, there is SO MUCH STUFF to do right before Christmas but also because it gives him a time that is just "birthday" to celebrate.   He has been obsessed with Chainsaws for the last few years so this year he had a Lumberjack party.

I loved doing this cake.  It was by far the easiest and fastest cake decorating job I've done!  And adorable.

Ugly Sweater Day at School.  I found Ty's shirt on  It was a toss-up between this one and the Bacon before Cookies shirt...

Santa dropped by at Aunt Ellen's house on the Friday night before Christmas...we JUST SO HAPPENED to be decorating gingerbread houses at her house that night.  The kids were in shock, it was almost like pulling teeth to get anyone to sit on his lap.  Tyson took his chance first though, he and Santa are best buddies (must be that Christmas birthday!).  Definitely should've arranged that Santa visit earlier in the month...Ty has asked for a chainsaw for the past two years and finally 3 days before Christmas he asks Santa for a guitar??

Joelle's chubby folded little hands here just make me melt...she was watching the big kids so seriously!

Cass loves gingerbread (eww!) so Jo wanted to try some too.

It was an awful mess of sticky icing and sprinkles and candy but they had a blast doing it.  Kudos to Ellen because I have never in my life been willing to tackle a gingerbread house project.

On the Saturday before Christmas, we FINALLY got around to doing our Christmas Goodie Marathon.  There was a bit of extra sweetness in this batch of cookie dough...

 I don't know that we need to make so many items but it's a bit of a personal challenge.   This year we made 21 varieties of Christmas Goodies!  

Thin mints
Chocolate no bakes 

Caramel no bakes
Churro Chex mix
Regular Chex mix
Puppy Chow
Caramel puff corn
Chocolate fudge
Peanut butter fudge
Peppermint bark
Chocolate covered pretzels
Chocolate covered ritz peanut butter sandwich
Chocolate covered potato chips
Rolo pretzel things
Christmas crack
Caramel pecan log rolls
Oreo balls
Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies
Chocolate chip cookies
Sugar cookies with buttercream icing
Pumpkin date cookies

Christmas Eve was celebrated with my side of the family.

The first of many attempted group photo, not too bad considering!  

One Christmas Tradition is Christmas PJ's and a drive thru the Christmas lights in them.  I always wrap them, marked "Open on Christmas Eve".  Even if they know already what the gift is, its fun to get to rip open at least one item under the tree!  We don't drive through the lights any other time before then so it's a big deal to the kids!

They have grown a little...

I barely took any pictures on Christmas morning, there were too many things going on.  This picture I did get of Jo cracked me up though!

The birthday boy with birthday pancakes by special request.  And birthday candles that he had set out the night before!  

One more #fourkidsforthewin picture!  It's almost a good one!  I love it anyway.  Christmas afternoon was spent with Myles' family.  It was a super relaxing fun day!  

This was for me...Chicken. Love. 

I do not decorate my house much at all.  Literally, my motto is "we have enough crap".  But Christmas is the exception!

My kitchen tree was "Sweet" themed, one of my favorite tree's ever.

I found this little pencil tree...and I love it.  I have big plans for the future but for now we went with simple gold and red ball ornaments.

When your birthday is on Christmas you get to decorate your own tree.

The "Family Tree", we buy ornaments every year for each of us and label with our names and year.  These ornaments go on this tree.  It's a tree full of memories!