Monday, November 24, 2008

Boys at work

We've had a quiet weekend here. Sickness seems to finally be trailing out the front door, out to crush some other poor unsuspecting family. Michael managed to miss out on the stomach flu, but got slammed by the leftover cold of mine from two weeks ago just as he started to gloat. After several days at home he has started to get his happy face and ruddy cheeks back. I feel like we've been reunited after weeks of separation! A joyful reunion after a long, long trek through the dreary world of sick!

On the sad side of things, Jed figured out how to climb out of his crib yesterday, and now he won't stay in for more than three moments. This morning I walked in to find him poised, feet nearly at head level, half twisted and flung over the edge, looking like an extreme climber from the X-games. His smug face revealed his own deep pleasure at his newly discovered skillz.

So tonight we are hauling out our little twin bed to set up in his bedroom. I confess a bit of teariness at the prospect... my tiny boy all grown up. We feel excited, too, though. We've been feeling for the last little while, since he's been fantastic at going to bed at night with daddy, that he could probably start sleeping in a big boy bed.

As Michael brings up each big wooden piece, Jed trails along behind. Jed's pants are a jeans, a size too large and lined with thick polar fleece (we went on a walk in the misty breeze today) Combine that with a double cloth diaper and his bottom looks laughably huge below his skinny little chest. With manly instinct, he poked around under the couch until he found his play plastic hammer, and he carries it clutched in his sweaty, stubby hand, ready to bang at the slightest provocation.

Bed time should be exciting tonight. We'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Counting

Signs of intelligence emerge!

Jed has learned to count. He'll line up his trucks like so and shout in a high squeaky voice:

Wun!
Toooo!
Fweeeee!
Ouf!
Tweeee!
Fweee!
Tooooo!

etc.

Tucked In

I've noticed lately that Jed likes to tuck in his hands. If he lays on his belly, he likes to tuck his hands underneath his stomach. He always falls asleep with his hands tucked in between his belly and his dad's. When we cuddle, he likes to be cozy and all the parts carefully tucked in together.

He's just like his momma! I remember driving my mother nuts growing up when I would wiggle my feet underneath her as we sat together on the couch. At night, when I go to bed I have to tuck my hands in beneath a pillow, under Michael's warm arms, or even under my own arms but they just don't feel right until they are tucked in. Now that I've noticed this, I've found that I'm a tucking in addict. In the edge of my waistband, in my pockets, under my armpits, behind the couch cushions, but always tucked in. Even when Michael warms up a hot pack for my frigid toes, I'm just not ready to fall asleep until my feet are tucked in next to his.

Nice to know my baby boy is just like me. Makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sick sick sick

Ugh, I am so TIRED OF BEING SICK!

About a week and a half ago I came down with a nasty, nasty lingering cold that slowly made its way about the family. Finally, it seemed, this past weekend we were all getting better. Jed still had a cough and I still had a sore throat, but Saturday it seemed like I finally slept it off.

Unfortunately, Saturday night we had Michael's beloved parents over...

And the next morning Jed woke up in a pool of vomit. Jan, Michael's mom, called an hour or two later to say that she was sick as could be with the stomach flu. Half the ward, it seemed was down as well. We stayed home from church so as to not infect the masses.

Yesterday I woke up feeling dandy and Michael and I congratulated ourselves on our immune system prowess. Our congratulations came a tad to soon. Yesterday evening I was flat on the floor and spent that night in the exquisite misery that only worship of the porcelain pot can provide. Ugh.

I am feeling better, though exhausted, today. I'm tired of sickness! I want to be healthy again!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What's new

A brief catch-up on the latest Stanfill News:

-OK, I may never get to the Big Date recap. Suffice it to say that everything went smoothly and according to plan and we had SO MUCH FUN! Thank goodness my brilliant spouse brought ear plugs, otherwise we never would have survived the concert. Also, apparently the concept of "designated driver" has not yet reached Louisville. We took off the second the concert was over, so as to avoid the several hundred drunk drivers about to weave their way home.
I felt quite smug at how well the whole thing turned out, especially the sleeping in the car idea. We drove over to the temple, blew up our little air mattress in the back of the Pilot, pulled out our big cozy blankets and pillows from home, and got a solid 8 hours sleep! Heaven! We had leftover muffins I'd made the afternoon before with grapefruit for breakfast and then walked right over into the temple! They let us use the bathroom to change and brush teeth, etc (we had called in advance.) All in all, with extras like t-shirts from the band, eating out twice, as well as gas, the whole weekend cost us like $150 total. And it was perfect!

-Last night we went to an artist's reception for a local photography exhibition called "digitized" that included two of Michael's recent photos!

What a man. The refreshments were EXCELLENT although when I asked the guy at the bar if he had water or fruit juice he laughed in my face.

-Michael's creative talents draw quite the demand these days. He also recently created this website for the Evansville Creche exhibit, a big bash nativity scene show put on every year at our church. Be especially sure to check out the gallery here, which has the gorgeous photos he took at last year's exhibit.

-I survived the Primary Program and Quarterly Activity weekend, though it nigh unto killed us all. I was especially proud of my "Secret Service" sharing time, which involved me dressing up as a Secret Service Agent ("We do service in secret") and sneaking around the room. Also, there was "physical training" that involved karate chops and jumping jacks. The kids seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, almost as much as I did.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween!


Michael dressed up as Alexis Itsnot, a used car salesman. I was his trashy secretary, Imelda Checks (too bad my hair had fallen and my lipstick worn off by the time this photo was taken, it was AWESOME!) Jed is a dinosaur covered with soot from sticking his hand up a tailpipe. He spent most of the ward party on the hayride, riding around behind the tractor. What fun we had!

A Funny Bit of Election Trivia

Yesterday, my mother-in-law Jan, who works at the polls, told me a bit of trivia. She said that when the open the polls here in Indiana, someone has to walk out into the parking lot and call "Hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now open!"

Awesome, huh? Almost makes you want to get up at 5:30 AM so you can be there to hear it. Almost.

Instead, maybe I'll try for the closing, when they shout "Hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now closed!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

My thoughts on the election - Vanessa

As tonight is Election Day Eve, I thought I'd share a few of my own thoughts on the election. As most of you know, I'm a political junkie and waste a huge portion of my life reading and listening to commentary. I feel more informed about this election than I've ever felt before in my life, and I'm proud of myself.

In college, I had to take a spanish class to graduate. Then I misread the requirements and I took three more semesters than I had to (whoops!) My last semester, my teacher was a lovely, vivacious Columbian woman who changed my life. One day she entered the room and in her rapid, rolling Spanish asked us what we had read in the news that day. Bleary from late term exams and papers, we met her answer with blank, tired eyes. Not one person responded.

She looked disappointed. "Students," she told us, "don't you know you have a responsibility? You have been given so much. We have so much. You have a responsibility to know what is happening in your world. How will you raise a family or make a difference if you don't even know what is happening around you?" Something in the way she rebuked us, especially since she had shared with us the extreme challenges she had felt in her home country and her gratitude for her family's life in the US, changed my heart that day. And I've read the news every day since.

My biggest frustration this election season has been the plain apathy in so many of voters. I've got pretty strong opinions, but I'm happy to meet the rare someone who can clearly explain their choice and reasoning even if differs from mine. This isn't a popularity contest for student body president, kids, this is a world-changing election and you get to be part of it. You don't pick a president for his looks or charm or fantastic branding. You pick a president for the way he will lead our country, for his policies and his party (don't be fooled, they ALL will tow the party line.)

My personal decision has been made, in order of importance, on:
1) Voting Record
2) Party Platform
3) Personal statements of policy

I have chosen to vote for John McCain. He wasn't my first choice in the primaries, and I don't agree with everything he says. And yes, he's ugly. Big whoop. I'm choosing him because his voting record, his party platform and voting record most closely align with my personal beliefs and desires for our country.

A few issues that are most important to me, and that are not in line with Barack Obama and/or the Democratic party platform:

I believe that to end the life of an unborn child is to take the life of a human being. My views on this changed forever when I looked into the eyes of my own newly-born son and saw that he was, indeed, a full-spirited and alive person. Reading this testimony before congress solidified my conviction that abortion is wrong (see approx. pages 41-51). My stance closely correlates with this statement, written by a man I greatly revere and published last month, in time for the election season. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for a candidate or a party that will support abortion. I know, I know, it's not cool to be a "single issue voter," but in this case I cannot argue against my conscience. This is my issue. It matters.

I believe generally in free market economics. I strongly dislike Marxist-tinged economic philosophies (ick!), encouragement of class warfare, and redistribution of wealth.

I feel heavy concern about the future of our Supreme Court and the recent actions of activist judiciary. I much prefer a conservative, interpretational stance. Judicial activism, in my mind, forces particular ideology upon the free people of the United States. Let the people choose.

Though both candidates have spoken in support of a traditional definition of marriage, one party has been considerably less supportive. I believe that the recent judicial actions in California were wrong and will adversely affect the children of our country, as well as infringe upon the free exercise of religion. I love my homosexual and lesbian friends and respect their right to lead their lives as they choose, but I do believe that imposing a new definition of marriage, which shapes the basic structure of our society, is neither wise nor correct. I freely admit that my opinion is influenced by my religious beliefs, as explained here.

There are many other issues that I could discuss, but in my mind these are the most important issues in this election. Please, consider thoughtfully your vote before you go in to that booth tomorrow. "Change you can believe in" refers to a specific set of policies, not a happy utopian world. Take the time to find out what kind of change you want. Be informed. I don't mind if your views differ from mine, but please, please, PLEASE know what you choose, because we all have to live with our decision.

Thanks for listening. Back to the usual happy family news tomorrow, promise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Soup with Cinnamon Croutons

I love all things pumpkin, and this soup is soooo delicious we could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Oh, wait, that was this weekend. This recipe was adapted from one found on the allrecipes website.

Pumpkin Soup with Cinnamon Croutons

CROUTONS
Mix together:
4 T butter
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
Spread on 6 or more slices of bread (I like a LOT of croutons.) Bake 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cut.

SOUP
Saute:
1 small onion, chopped
2 t. butter.

Add:
1 can broth.
Boil until soft. Purree. Return to pot with:
1 more can of broth.

Add: 1 14-oz can pumpkin
3/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/8 t. black pepper

Cook 10 minutes. At this point, you can refrigerate your mix until just before the meal. My new brilliant idea is to try freezing it, I'm sure it would work just fine.

Before your meal, add:
1 C heavy cream
Warm, but do not boil.

Serve with croutons.

Makes 6 cups, so if you're having guests over, or have a large herd of hungry children, definitely double. Besides, you'll want leftovers anyway.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jed in the garden

I know, I know I need to post about the big date. But this week I am in a Fall Cleaning Frenzy! I've been scrubbing walls, cleaning under beds, reorganizing bedrooms, putting up food storage, painting, dusting, rearranging cabinets, and bustling around intensely morning noon and night. No, I am not pregnant. Just in a cleaning mood, and since it only happens every six months or so I figure I better go with it.

Today, however, Jed and I took a little break to go enjoy the gorgeous fall sunshine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chief Justice Roberts

As if we needed another reason to love the man. He has got to be the coolest Supreme Court Justice EVER.
Read his latest dissent here.
A sample:
North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics
Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three dollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood.
Devlin spotted him: a lone man on the corner. Another approached. Quick exchange of words. Cash handed over; small objects handed back. Each man then quickly on his own way. Devlin knew the guy wasn’t buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up the buyer. Sure enough: three bags of crack in the guy’s pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our Big Date!



For our third anniversary, which occurred back in August, I bought us tickets to see one of our all-time favorite bands, Pinback.

Remember how a few months ago we got all twitterpated when we ended up sitting next to Zach from Pinback from the plane?

Well, in between trying to appear as hip and cool as is possible while our nursing toddler kicked him in the midsection, we valiantly attempted to persuade him into putting on a concert somewhere near the middle of nowhere (i.e. Evansville, IN) The last time we had the chance to see Pinback, I was extremely pregnant and, well, anyone who's been to a concert with loud speakers pounding from the outside and angry fetus pounding from the inside knows why we didn't end up going. Anyway, so he did say that occasionally Pinback plays Louisville, KY, which is a mere 2 hour drive from here.

When we got home I eagerly checked their tour dates... but nothing. They weren't playing anywhere between Denver and NYC. Bummer. And that was the end of it.

A few weeks later, though, I was surfing around and in avoiding-housework moment checked again. AND THEY ADDED A DATE IN LOUISVILLE! Do I take credit? Why yes, yes I do. Am I excited? Why yes, yes I am. And are we going? Yes, yes we are and it is TONIGHT!

I bought the tickets for 15 buckaroonies each and four weeks later they were selling for $265 a pop. Wow! We were awfully tempted to sell, but then we decided it would be better to keep them, and then spend the rest of our lives bragging about how we went to see our favorite band and their tickets were worth like five hundred dollars.

So late this afternoon we drop Jeddy off for his first overnighter at Grandmas (yikes!) and then head for Louisville. Dinner, then off to the opening show at 8, the concert is at an old distillery converted into a music hall.

Our biggest concern is that Pinback won't even be on stage until 10PM, most likely, a time at which we are usually two oozing, drooling zombies of married people exhaustion. We have various plans in place to keep ourselves awake just... long... enough... to... say... we... were... there...

Then off to a romantic night in the back of M's parents' Pilot on the blow up mattress, hit the temple in the morning, and then we're home again. Yee hah! We'll tell you how it goes!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Washcloth

Today as we were finishing up dinner, Jed squirmed out of his chair (he has figured out how to use his booster seat buckles and now we spend hours undoing and redoing them... fortunately his fingers aren't quite strong enough to get all the way out by himself.) We let him out but didn't put the cup of milk far enough back on the counter and he grabbed it as he dodged his daddy's reaching hands. "Oh, Jed...." Michael moaned as Jed splashed milk all over the back of the chair and floor.

Jed looked up with a serious expression. "Uh, oh! Oh, oh!" He ran over to the kitchen sink and started tugging. He brushed with death as the ginormous pile of dishes teetered, and then he fell back with his prize: a washcloth. He trotted over to the chair, sopped up all the milk with his washcloth, and then ran back to the counter and threw the washcloth up over his head onto the edge of he sink. He turned back with an air of victory and a grin that said, "See, Dad, I've got it all taken care of. I AM a little man!" and returned to playing with his buckles.

What a kid! How does he know how to do that???!!! But he's got his eye on Mom and he knows just how to get things done. Smartypants. Is there any way we can make this habit last through his teens? Because having a kid who cleans up after himself is fantastic.

Eskimo Kisses

Monday, October 6, 2008

I can fold my arms!

Jed is learning how to pray. Woohoo! The raised arms are in joyous victory as we all celebrate.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Future Pianist

Jed takes after his momma. And his daddy.
Explaining to me his most recent composition.

OK, I'm done.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Playing with the big green ball

Once a week I try and get my chores done early so we can have a "JED DAY!" On Jed Day we spend the whole morning doing whatever Jed loves to do. Well, ok, we also get our diaper changed. This past week, we played with the big green ball and wrestled. Then we had a snack. Then we went out and played in the yard. Then we went on a walk down by the river. Then we went to the library and read books and played with the toys. Then home for a nap. Such fun for baby and momma!


PS - you can see Jed's hair sticking up where his daddy spiked it before he left for work. They had matching sticky-up hair and oh boy did Jed giggle like a maniac when he saw himself in the mirror.

Photography website update

Michael has updated his photography website with a section called "recent work." Right now it shows some photos from his Washington DC trip this summer and some veggies from our little garden.
Check it out and stroke his ego with more acclaim! :c) V
http://www.michaelstanfill.com

Monday, September 29, 2008

Michael's New Photography Website!

Michael's been putting all his new programming skillz to work on his photography website. Check it out at http://www.michaelstanfill.com and leave a comment with your review!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Harissa Pasta

A new favorite meal, we've had this at least once a week, sometimes more, for the last month. So quick, so delicious, so lovely!


Harissa Pasta Recipe


3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
a big pinch of fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons harissa (paste)

8 ounces (1/2 pound) whole wheat spaghettini
1 small bunch kale, well-washed and deveined
1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
zest of 1 lemon

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, place the cloves of garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle then with a big pinch of salt. Crush with the flat side of a knife. Now crush and chop, crush and chop until you have a garlic paste. Alternately, you can use a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl whisk together the garlic paste, harissa, and olive oil. Set aside.

Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook per package instructions. Just before the pasta is done add the kale to the pasta water, count to six, drain and set aside.

Heat half of the harissa dressing in the now empty pasta pot Add the pasta and kale, black olives, pine nuts, and lemon zest. Stir over the heat for a minute or so, then turn everything out onto a platter and drizzle with the remaining harissa olive oil.

Serves about 4 - 6.
This recipe is, of course, from Heidi Swanson at 101 cookbooks.


I made my own harissa paste (such things being foreign to the midwest shopping scene) and it was much, much easier than I expected. Next time, it will be better because I will actually have the right ingredients. I found dried chilis for next to nothing in my Walmart latino section. I'm almost out of my last batch and I can't wait to try out a new one!
I've used this on all kinds of pasta. My favorite is the mostaccioli shown above. Also, mixed into tomato sauces and served with fresh basil and shrimp. I substitute regular olives for the fancy shmancy kind that require selling off my first born child to afford. Although I did sit there and drool for a few moments. And Jed was eating (yet another) box of pasta (yes, the box, not the pasta) and the ensuing flood of shells made me for one brief moment consider exchanging him for the kalamatas.... But then he smiled and ooooo, he is so darn cute! Medium boring brand olives will do! Ditto the walnuts in place of pine nuts and the boring old lemon juice. I'm sure all the original recommendations would be delightful.

Also, before I go, a shot of our beautiful carrots grown in our front flower bed. :c)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hilarious!

Enlarge to read Sarah Palin's* email! Recognize anyone you know?
*This is, of course, a joke.

Bag Head

video
This is for Evelyn, and all Jed's fans everywhere.

Food Frugality

My darling friend Megan made the egregious error of sending me an email asking for ideas to save money on food. Whoops. In return, she got a full-length novel. Since I spent all that time writing her I figured I'd just post it up here. .

As background, this year I've had a goal of studying the Word of Wisdom (our religion's health code, click here for more explanation) and creating and implementing what I learned in a family eating plan. I think this is the only New Year's resolution I've ever kept and it has been SO MUCH FUN! I have collected dozens of fun recipes, read all sorts of wild and wacky books on nutrition (some I agree with, some I don't) and had a general ball in the kitchen. Michael has been remarkably supportive and game, even when he comes home to a meal consisting of raw sunflower seed spread and veggies in seaweed rolls. Mmmmmm! (Actually, we both LOVED it, I need to put that recipe up here.) Most of our meals are more tame, promise.

Anyway, before I compose another tome, here is what I wrote to Megan:

Dear Megan,

(...)

Here is my brilliant plan. Back when we were on a tight budget last year we could eat for $50/week this way. Now I spend more because we have a little more breathing room in our budget and $50/week doesn't give you much variety. But I still like to keep it in the $65-75 range (with a extra investments for food storage essentials.)

Strategy 1) I don't do coupons. My time is worth more than coupons, especially since they don't work with my plan (whole foods are almost NEVER on coupon.) That being said, I DO shop where the prices are cheapest on average. Usually that means Walmart for staples. Usually that means somewhere else for fresh foods. Costco for bulk. When I lived in UT I was on this rotation
Week 1) Maceys or farmer's market for fresh produce
Week 2) Walmart for household goods and packaged foods
Week 3) Fresh produce
Week 4) Costco for bulk items (honey, meat, pasta, etc.)
Also, the cannery and Macey's bulk foods are a great gift from above and now I weep when I realize how much I took them for granted. No stuff like that here.

Strategy 2) I plan a whole weeks worth of meals and buy everything I need. On this rotation I had to plan two weeks worth of meals. Not that hard to do, really. We have certain things on the same days... for example, pizza every Friday, family dinner every Sunday, something simple that doesnt' require any preparation on Wednesdays when M goes biking right after work, etc. Then leftovers for both of us for lunch the next day.
I try really really hard to not buy things that aren't on my list but it is sooooooooooooooo hard! Sometimes I make changes on the fly depending on what produce is on sale. (I'm the woman who buys like seventy pounds of peaches when they are on sale for 50c/lb. Embarrassing, but so worthwhile!)

Strategy 3) Buy only foods with one listed ingredient. So that would be yes to milk and canned corn but no to chef boyardee. Essentially, I try to buy only whole foods, no processed foods. This saves an astonishing amount of money, but does require some major recipe rehauling for most of us. Life without cream of mushroom soup and spaghetti sauce is still surprisingly fulfilling. I've collected some fantastic, cheap, quick recipes. I have also invested in lots of spices that dress up simple foods. I use almost exclusively vegetarian recipes, since they call for the most whole ingredients and are easy to add meat if I have some on hand. I also grind my own wheat and grow a garden, which of course saves a ton of money and keeps us centered in whole foods.

Strategy 4) Try to shop around the outside of the store as much as possible. Around the outside you find the produce, dairy, and meat. Within the aisles you find the wicked, expensive, tempting treats. I probably do 95% of my shopping around the outside of the store, though I do frequent the canned fruit/veg and baking aisles. I almost never shop anywhere else. This is pretty much the same as strategy 3 but helps me check myself.

Strategy 5) The cheapest way to eat is vegetarian. This year I've been on a WoW eating goal and we've cut waaaaay back on our meat intake and vastly kicked up our bean/rice/grain intake. Meat is SO EXPENSIVE that even when I do want to buy it I spend about twenty minutes agonizing over whether that one breast of chicken is really worth a dollar fifty. I carefully monitor our diet to make sure that we get plenty of protein, which we do easily with whole foods. When I get pregnant (someday) I will probably reintroduce more meat into our diet but for regular dietary intake I've found that other sources work great. Michael complains occasionally but on the whole I try to make things tasty and tempting enough that he doesn't notice. Now he likes it.

A website that I like is www.hillbillyhousewife.com She has tons of good ideas and a $45/week eating plan for a family of four that I found most inspiring. I also like her section about foods that are always a bargain.

Where you live I strongly recommend checking out the Mexican markets. I shopped in them on my mission and they have AMAZING deals. I wouldn't be surprised if that was cheaper than walmart.

The downside of all this for you is that when you work you don't have as much time to cook and plan as I do. This plan didn't work as well when I was working as it does now that I'm at home. But the same principles can apply. I bet if you got a lot of good crockpot recipes you could throw them in in the morning and they are usually all whole foods. I bet it would take less time than clipping coupons (I know, I'm such a coupon downer. I just don't get it. With all that time sorting and arranging and searching and looking online you could probably cook and freeze enough pinto beans for the next millenia. :c) And they taste better, too!)

OK so if you actually made it this far, I thank you for your time and attention, my apologies for the extreme boredom. Hope there's something in there that helps.


So what do you guys think? What is YOUR brilliant plan? To see what responses Megan got, check out her blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fresh Herb Potato Salad


A few people have asked for this recipe from epicurious.com. We have a basil bush out in front of the house, and this is our new favorite potato salad recipe. Seeing as I am the cheapest human being on the planet, I always skip the lemon rind and mint, but I bet they would be tasty.

FRESH HERB POTATO SALAD

Ingredients
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

2 1/4 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled

Directions
Whisk oil, lemon juice and lemon peel in small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 cup dressing in large bowl. Mix in green pepper, onion, cilantro, basil and mint.

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain; cool 15 minutes. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Add potatoes to bowl with dressing and toss to blend. Let stand 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more dressing, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Warning: Limit serving size. May cause severe obesity with extended use.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vectren Unpopular

On Sunday, Hurricane Ike decided to regain some of his manhood and blasted through Evansville with a fury. Hours upon hours upon hours of high winds did a real number on our lovely wooded community. Dodging fallen power lines and falling trees became a popular form of pre-church entertainment and soon generators and chainsaws became precious commodities. Every home I've seen lost either a major tree or huge branches, and torn corn stalks and debris are scattered everywhere. Today out walking we saw dozens of homes getting their roofs repaired.

We were extremely blessed, as our power never went out for long. We had brownouts and short outages all day but nothing major. Our home is fine. Our road was closed, and we later saw it was because the main power line down to our area had a power pole sheared in half. Repair crews are still scrambling four days later to return power to more than 15,000 homes in the area, so rather than fixing the downed pole somebody just pulled it over to the side of the road and leaned it against a bunch of broken trees. And there it sits, still humming along providing power for all of us. Thank you, neighbors who have been living in fear with a broken power pole taking up most of their front yard. We love you!

Some people, though, aren't so full of love, and especially toward Vectren, the power company where Michael works. So I get all sorts of great insider news from him during the day, and this photo is the latest:



To the man's credit, he may be among the homes that most likely will be out of power through the weekend. No fun. Still funny, though.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Frog Follies

A few Saturdays ago, Michael, Steve, Clark, Jed and I attended Frog Follies, a major Southwestern Indiana cultural event.

Thousands (literally, about 4,000 this year) of pre-1949 "street rods" from all over the US gather at the local Vanderburgh Co. fairgrounds each year to celebrate the joys of, um, old cars and stuff. Seriously fun, seriously cool, and seriously blazing hot. We sweated it up, oooed and ahhhed (even Jed), and came home happily sunburned. Here's my favorite car:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Splash Park

Thanks to a brilliant tip from some family friends, the Boonville Splashpark became a major Stanfill family hangout this summer. Free, cool, no drowning risk, and always a blast.


With all the fun spray toys there, naturally Jed selected one item with which to develop a passionate love affair:
The orange fire hydrant.

Yes, it is a real fire hydrant. It does not move, it does not spray water, it doesn't DO anything. But it was love at first sight, nonetheless.

So usually it ended up more Mom playing in the splashpark and Jed developing a blossoming relationship with an inanimate safety object. The crushing blow occured when the park closed on the ELEVENTH of AUGUST, like every other fun event in the Indiana universe, because school starts so early here. We went the last day and almost cried as we bid our favorite spot farewell.
Don't worry, Jedbug, the hydrant will still be faithfully waiting there for you next May!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Library

Today, Jed and I went down town while the weather stayed delightfully cool. Newburgh has quite possibly the most charming downtown ever conceived of by man. Little 1800s buildings, lovely old homes lining the river, a walking path down the river where you can watch the barges go by, visit a park, see an old log cabin commemorating the founding in 1803, see where the first "battle" of the civil war over the Mason Dixon line happened, see the old old lock and dam building, and all so peaceful and lovely with happy fellow Newburghians walking by with friendly faces and hellos. Idyllic!

(I found this photo online. It doesn't show any of the cute old part of town, but it does show the riverwalk and the library with flags out front in the middle.)


We went on a nice long walk for about an hour and chatted with Uncle Eric on the phone. Then we stopped at a grassy area and watched the river and played for about a half hour. A quick trot down the road and we were at the public library, a tiny wonderland of toys and books. Jed has long loved the library for its small but superb collection of toddler-friendly doo-dads and several shiny red firetrucks.

Today, though, he showed a decided interest in the book collection. He disappeared for a moment and I heard muttered sounds rising above the shelves before me. I wandered around until I found him, gleefully pulling a books off the shelves, shouting "BUH!", and then shoving them back willy nilly into place.

I walked toward the checkout desk and called for Jed to come with me. Buh! He grabbed a book and held on tight, giving me a defiant look. I returned the gaze. Do you want to check out that book? Then bring it here and we will take it home! His face broke into a chubby-cheeked grin and he came running, book clutched tightly against his chest. He ran past mom... and right out the door, sending all sorts of beepers and alarms off. Whoops! We have to check it out, Jed! I grabbed him and hauled him up onto the circulation desk. The librarian and I managed to pry the book out of his hands, arousing many a screech and wail. She quickly scanned the barcode and shoved it back into the siren's hands. I set him down, and said NOW we could take it home. Wahoo!

Holding the book high, like a trophy, he made beeline for the front doors and made laps around the sensor gates until I could catch up with him. We left the building and headed for the car. Halfway there, he couldn't wait any longer and plopped down right there in the middle of the parking lot, opened the book on the pavement, and turned pages with an enthusiastic, scholarly air. Come on, Jed! I opened the car door. He came running, threw the book in (Buh!) and clambered up on his seat. Once seated, his arms flailed for his precious. Buh! Buh! I handed it to him, he opened it up, and all was quiet happiness with the occasional page rustle on the way home.


What a funny boy. Definitely takes after his mom - we've got a library addict!

(Turns out he chose a Dr. Seuss zebra book.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Exciting News!

Exciting news from our thrilling life!

1) A few sleepless nights, but Michael's site pretty much went up without a hitch. What a man.

2) Jed has learned to identify several objects. Meaning, yes, he is capable of speech beyond "Hi!" "Wow!" "Bye-bye!" "Wow!" "Uh oh!" which is where we've been stalled for the last six months or so. He can now say "Mom!" and "Da-ee!" with varying degrees of accuracy. He definitely understands what they mean (actually, he is understanding a surprising amount these days... I always underestimate his intelligence. And then he does something brilliant like run flat into a wall and I think, hmmm, maybe I don't.) He also can identify "buh" which is "book." We read books every night before bed, and usually several times inbetween. He's a book lover like his momma.

The real breakthrough, however, was "Hshz" which I finally figured out means "shoes." Jed has developed a literal obsession with shoes. First thing in the morning, he MUST have shoes placed upon him. Even if they go over the footie pajamas. And as soon as Mom and Dad get up, he immediately starts trailing us around the house, a gender-appropriate pair of shoes in hand, with frantic "Uh! Uh! Uh! Hshz! Uh!" until we either go insane or cave in and just put on the shoes. Come by our house any day at 6:30AM and you'll see us all in our underwear and shoes - Jed's favorite outfit. You will also find rows, piles, and stashes of shoes hidden throughout the house in most unlikely places. We tend to be late everywhere these days, mostly because we can never find a bleepity bleepin matching pair of shoes!

Also, he beams with pride as he points to my/his/cat's/Daddy's/cartoon eyes and says "Eye! Eye! Eye!" with a drawn out rising tone, like it's a really suspensful question. Then he gets the most wicked grin ever, points to his nose, and says emphatically "Eye! Eye! Eye!" When I correct him and say "No, you silly boy, that's your nose! Nose! Nose!" he starts to laugh like he's gonna explode and smashes his nose in with the tip of his finger even farther. "Eye! Eye! Eye!" Repeat ad infinitum. This is especially entertaining, it seems, when played through the car rear view mirror.


3) We had our first real FHE with Jed tonight, and it was just as much fun as I've been envisioning since he was born! I used the new church nursery manual, which if you haven't seen yet you should really check out. FABULOUS! At last, a manual that really is suited for the 18 month old mind! We played ring around the rosy (I thought Jed was going to bust a gut laughing), sang Do As I'm Doing (still a little advanced for his tiny brain, but he liked it when Dad helped him do the actions,) said a prayer (he's starting to get the hang of folding his arms but the attention span is like ten seconds) and had a little lesson. Then another prayer, and then several thousand times Jed pointing to Jesus and saying "Eye! Eye!" (conflating lessons here... oh well, rationality is just setting in. I have noticed that he adores pictures of Jesus with the little children and likes pointing out each of the people in turn. And then pointing out that they have eyes.) and then we were done.

4) And, in my crowning motherly glory, I happily announce that Jed did his first pee-pee in the baby potty tonight. Thanks to Brooke, we are the proud new owners of a bright red potty chair. Jed's been most interested in it of late, and so the last two nights when the whole family troupes into our tiny bathroom for toothbrushing, bath, and various other bathroom-type activities, we've been stripping him down and setting him on the potty. Mom/Dad has a book while they sit on the big toilet and Jed gets a book on his potty (this may sound familiar, Eric...) We turn on the bath to fill while we sit there. And tonight, lo and behold, the pot o' liquid gold!

I tried to make a big deal about it and pour it in the toilet and flush and all... but really he had no idea what was going on. That's fine, I'm not in a rush to potty train but I figure we might as well make it a positive pattern now before it becomes a big deal later. Check back in two years for the rest of the story. But for now, I'm going to revel in my sense of victorious motherhood and happily blow it out of proportion for the next week. Yes!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Treasures

Today I found a collection of treasures Jed lined up along the back of the living room couch:
1. A postcard from his Granny Zo'An with a big pink flower on the front
2. The magnet used to hold that postcard up on the fridge
3. A dried out macaroni shell (his new favorite food... those mini shells are the perfect size!)
4. Mom's face cleanser (I've been looking all over for that)
5. A Papa Murphy's flyer fished out of the junk mail. Obviously his father's son.
and
6. A red megablock, essentially a big lego. They create an even blanket over the entire house surface, however, so that might not count.

Michael's Latest Accomplishment

Today Michael's new website at http://www.vectren.com goes live! He got to do a full look-and-feel overhaul from the old website, which looked like this:


And now it looks like this!

I'm so proud I'm burstin' my buttons.

So what do you think? Is it an improvement? Leave M a note with your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jed's totally into dress-up

Cool Dude - Jed trying on Momma's glasses. Uncle Clark declared he looks just like a rock star.

Jed loves running around with my pantyhose flung about his neck like a demented Frenchman. Then when he saw me putting a pair on for church he really really really wanted to wear some too! Dad wasn't around... so I happily obliged. He was thrilled and wore them for hours. He kept running his hands over my legs and then over his, giggling at the funny feel.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Local Election News

BORDER COLLIE ON BALLOT IN NORTHERN KENTUCKY TOWN
From the Evansville Courier Press

RABBIT HASH, KY - Following the death of its mayor, the small northern Kentucky town of Rabbit Hash is preparing to elect a new leader.

The only candidate so far is a border collie named Lucy Lou.

The situation isn't unusual for the Boone County town. The former mayor was a black labrador retriever named Junior Cochran, who died May 17 after serving since 2004.

. . .

According to the Web site http://www.rabbithash.com, candidates for the office may be humans or animals but not ducks or geese.

Voting will be online at www.rabbithashusa.com or at the Rabbit Hash General Store.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I am the luckiest man alive!

I don't know what I did to get them, but I sure don't know what I would do without them.

SIG&ECO

This morning I had the chance to tour the oldest power plant that my company owns. It has sat unused for decades, and the decision was made to decommission and tear it down. Right now they are in the process of pulling all of the asbestos out of it. It was absolutely fascinating to see how our power used to be produced, and to see how in some ways, the process hasn't changed at all.

Doors to the main furnace.


I just loved the double bell on this P.A. speaker. I wish they made things like this still.


This is in the basement. You would pull this lever to open the ash shoot.


On the board you can see the various towns and facilities that this power station served. Among my favorites are "S-16 Electric Shovel" and "Square Deal Coal Company".


One of the more modern turbines in this facility. It probably dates back to the mid to late 1930s.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Joyful Anniversary (warning: may be sappy)

Today we celebrate THREE fantastic years of marriage! Seven job changes, two graduations, five moves, three pot bellies and one child later, we're happier than ever. Life seems idyllic here, in our own little home nestled beneath the trees. The best moment of the day is always when Jed comes running through the kitchen, a HUGE smile on his face because Daddy is home! Michael peeks through the door window and makes faces, much gratified by the cries of "Hi! Da'ee! Hi! Da'ee!" He comes in and I throw my arms around him and life just seems better than possible. We may both be a little less fit and gray around the edges, I probably smell like sweat and garden, Jed has food, snot and mud smeared all over him, Michael looks exhausted and worn out, but somehow none of that matters at 5:15 PM. We are the luckiest family on earth. The Lord has taken us places we never expected, and blessed us beyond belief. Thanks for three great years, Darling Husband. I love you more than ever! Happy Anniversary.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Education In Zion born at last

At last! The Education in Zion Project, where I spent one very busy and blissful year between graduation and Jedster's birth, opens this weekend! I am terribly excited to see it, too bad I live several thousand miles away. Anyone want to go stop by and give me the full review?

(A few personal comments: Emily, isn't it a miracle!? Shiloh, my darling wonderful friend, I beg, plead, and cajole with my cutest most begging-ful face for you to post some cool photos or at least your own take on it! I know you're newly moved and in grad school but PLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAASE!?????)

You'll find the news release here and I did find a few photos:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Washington DC