A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eli's "Man Weekend"

Friday and Saturday, Eli headed to Living Water Ranch in Manhattan, Kansas. He, his two brothers, and a friend, Ricky, went for some outdoor man time. They camped overnight together on land owned by the ranch. He's been wanting to do this for quite a long time, so I was glad that he finally got the opportunity and all the schedules worked out!

They drove down early Friday morning, spent the door hiking around, playing frisbee golf, etc. Saturday was more of a guided activities day: they did archery, clay pigeon shooting, ATV tours around the hundreds of acres on LWR, and fishing! Add s'mores, deer burgers, a campfire breakfast ... and my husband was a pretty happy man!

I can't say that given the option of a weekend away, this was what I would have chosen - but I know this meant a lot to him. He came back with great stories, and excited to go as a family to let the boys experience some outdoor fun sometime soon. I, for one, was glad to welcome him back to a sick little boy (Reuben) who had spent lots of time on Saturday afternoon and evening asking for "Daddy".

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Sweet Boy ...

Ahhhhhh, today was one of those days when Jonah was my sweet little boy. He's always my little boy, but sometimes the sweetness gets covered up by independence, or selfishness, or whining, or you-name-it. All parents are nodding in agreement!

I hope I can always remember these little words of his:

We were getting ready to head to Aunt Adi's house. Jonah asked if I was going to stay with him (he obviously had some inclination of something) ... I replied that I was going to take him there, but I had a church event to meet Daddy at. Jonah sighed. "But, Mommy! I want to stay with you!" I know. I know. But not this time. And you'll have a great time! He looked at me very seriously. "Okay. I will take my blankie ... and I will always have you in my heart." Followed by a super-leg-squeeze. If that just doesn't want to make a Mommy take her little boy with her, what does?

Later on this evening, Jonah was set up at the table coloring away ... I was at the kitchen counter, writing down grocery deals from the newspaper. He pipes up: "Mommy, I would like it if you would color with me. You always make beautiful pictures with me when you color. And I love you. You are my friend. And I would like to color together with you." He wasn't trying to guilt trip me. I could hear the innocence in his voice at this moment. Newspaper set aside: we colored the most beautiful, rainbowy-est picture ever!

Bedtime: I explained we were going to put Reuben down early this evening and that then Jonah could stay up a bit with Mommy. His face lit up. I honestly and fully expected to hear a request for video games at this moment ... but no. I kid you not, this was what he said: "Yay! And then I can help you clean up all the toys and get the house ready for bedtime. I will be your helper. Right, Mom?" Well, no way I am going to pass on this offer!!!!!!

And then we snuggled the rest of our evening away with Bible stories and songs. What a great way to end my day with my boys.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let the Good Times Roll!

Our weekend away was quick (two days/one night), not-too-far-away (around 4-5 hours, depending on stops), and well-loved (I have been going since I was a baby!). To Branson we went: although our true destination was Silver Dollar City, aka "The Fair", according to Jonah.

We had a fantastic time. We went with the mindset to HAVE FUN, enjoy our time away from home and all the things to work on/do/think about here, and play, watch the boys experience games and rides and balls and everything you can think off! It went without a hitch. The extra rain on the first day just gave an excuse to spend some extra time with close friends in Branson, and we had perfect sunshine on Saturday to spend all day outside!

We can't wait to go back!

Too Many Balls! Can I take these home????

Jonah gets his shooting game ON

Happy Guy! Reuben probably went down this slide 20x in a row - no joke!

Jonah could ride this one "All By Himself" - this was a courtesy wave for Mom!

Run, Run, As Fast As You Can! Can't Catch the Jonah-Man!

My personal fave photo: I love hat photos - and with my boys, couldn't be better!

Time to ride the "bug ride" - Reuben's first ride!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


On Tuesday of this week, I took the ACE Personal Trainer Certification Exam. Whew. Oh yeah, and I passed it! It's kinda a really long story of my life, actually. When I joined Body Boutique about four and half years ago (yikes!), I had been doing some running outside, and fitness videos at home for several years. But I was pregnant, and wanted something different for my body in terms of exercise. So I joined. I'll admit: I got hooked on fitness. = )

I know that I'm not like everyone ... certainly not like some of my friends who don't like exercise at all! And that's okay! We all have things we like ... hobbies ... and oddly enough, fitness has become a hobby to me. Once Jonah was born and I stopped working in Social Work full time, I started considering if there was a way to incorporate my newer love of fitness in my life. Nothing seemed to work out at the time: we were planning to move to Honduras, and life was different. I looked up some different certification programs, but the finances and time weren't readily available for what I had found. So, I just worked out on my own and tucked the dream away. A couple years later, the opportunity to train to teach BodyStep came along, and then my boss at the gym gave me the opportunity to train in-house to teach some cardio/kickboxing/toning/abs classes as well.

And then I met Natalie - and through our workouts together, she encouraged me to study to be a personal trainer. She helped me get the materials, let me ask her questions upon questions, and more. My boss at the gym was super supportive as well: I could shadow trainers there, learn from them, etc. I think it was last September I got all my study books. I poured over them for three months ... and then got distracted during Christmas. = ) Who doesn't? Picked it back up mid-January, got my CPR/AED certification in April, and took my test in May. I didn't tell hardly a soul I was taking the test: I was so nervous I would fail! And then everyone would be asking me about it ... and it would just be all the more disappointing. So, I scheduled it, took it, and then have started telling everyone!

I am excited! Most of all, I know I want to be a "Mom", and be home with the boys as much as possible. But with Eli back in school, this is such a blessing to help us continue to be able to stay out of debt and pay tuition each semester. I can work few-several hours a week, the boys can either be at the gym with me, or home with Eli. And I can help other women achieve goals ... make a difference! Mom/Wife/Social Worker/Personal Trainer - they actually all fit together quite nicely.

Eli has been amazing ... just as he was finishing up his spring semester, I went crazy on the studying, so he gave me the time I needed. He has encouraged me to go for a dream, and I am so thankful for him. Now we're BOTH finally done studying (his only for the next couple months), so we can REALLY enjoy our summer. First up? A quick weekend away to Branson - we need it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Friends of ours from church have been working on a big project. Creating Thomas the Tank Engine. Steve does engineering and who-knows-what-because-it-is-over-my-head kinda work, and his boys LOVE Thomas and all kinds of trains. So, he came up with the idea to create a Thomas that could drive kiddos around. He got an older ride-on mower (no blades anymore), and began to create the Thomas part. He's taken huge 50 gallon drums and turned them into coaches for kids to ride in. Awesome? I think so ...

We went over for lunch on Saturday to check out the progress, help paint some coaches, and have fun!

We took off the actual "Thomas" from the mower because it's not completed yet, but they plan to have it ready for a parade in Lawrence on Saturday the 28th. And from then on, I think he'll be in high demand! The boys couldn't get enough rides around the lawn ... I was worried that Reuben wouldn't give it a try because he is usually afraid of lawn mowers, but he jumped right in and gave lots of waves and smiles when they drove past! It's not everyday that little boys get a "train ride".

Friday, May 13, 2011


(I actually posted this yesterday, or so I thought! And then it was gone ... 2nd attempt)

So, Jonah loves - and I mean really LOVES - to clean the shower in the bathroom! It's not an exaggeration to say that I hear the request more than once a week: "Mommy, can I help you clean in the bathroom?" Yup. Something in him loves it. Am I about to fight this? No way. I can only hope this desire leads to more willful cleaning around the house = ) So, his spray bottle is filled with mild cleaner, and a washcloth is placed in his hand. Go ahead!

A dirty job, but someone's got to do it!

This particular day, I pulled out the camera to take a couple pictures of his work. I commented to him that I was thankful for his help and that he was "Mommy's super-helper". Jonah looked back at me, smiled, and said: "Mommy, I will always be your super-helper. You know why? Because I love you." Melted Mommy's heart. I love you too, Jonah.

Monday, May 9, 2011


About a month ago, when we launched at the gym, there was a contest between launch groups to make classes more fun. Well ... my team won! We integrated confetti poppers, Hershey's Kisses, changes within our outfits, and silly things into our classes to "surprise" members and just have a lot of fun. Our prize? $15 gift card to The Merc! I do love The Merc. I would shop there more, except that my grocery budget is one thing I work to keep tightened up. So, I mostly go there on occasion when there's something that I can only get there, or I want something out of the bulk bins.

So, I packed up the boys and we headed out a couple weeks ago to raid some bulk bins and pick up some more grains to cook with at home. On the list? Bulgur, Quinoa, and Amaranth. I had taken a cooking class at The Merc with my friend, Beth. One of the dishes that the chef made was a pilaf with bulgur. It was SO good! But, her's had chickpeas and raisins in it. Both items that are forbidden to appear in any kind of grain dish in our house, per Eli. He can't stand chickpeas at all.

So, I decided that I would transform the pilaf into an asian pilaf (the recipe also had several other variations that I would like to try out soon). We love asian flavors - and I figured that would be a way to sneak bulgur in and not freak Eli out (I am not trying to say that Eli is super picky. He actually isn't ... he loves to try new things - it's just that he grew up with pretty standard "comfort" foods. Bulgur wasn't on that list! So, I work to incorporate things that he might view with a suspicious look into a dish he loves).

I was really happy with the way it turned out. We all liked it - although Eli said he would have LOVED it if it had meat in it. Sigh. Next time I'll through some chopped chicken in or something!

Asian Pilaf

2 T. Olive oil

4 large green onions

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice

1 c. medium bulgur, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 c. beef stock (which I had frozen in the freezer from the last roast I had made)

1/2 bag baby carrots, sliced

1 head broccoli, chopped

Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add onions and cook til tender. Add garlic and five-spice and toast 1 min. Dump in drained bulgur and stir well - add a generous pinch of salt. Cook one minute. Pour in beef stock (you could use water, chicken/veggie stock, etc.) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover with tight fitting lid and cook 12-15 minutes or until bulgur is tender.

While bulgur is cooking, steam carrots and broccoli (I did mine in the microwave). Once bulgur is finished - gently toss all together. Season with a little soy sauce if desired! Yum!
Easy - and done in around 20-25 minutes total. I love that! And healthy for all of us. I'm sold. And I'm excited to try some new recipes with my Quinoa and Amaranth as well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Another Triumph!

Although Jonah was potty trained long ago ... he has always struggled to stay dry at night. We have never pushed him -believing that he would stay dry when he was ready. He's a pretty heavy sleeper, so we didn't want to make him upset by pushing him to try and stay dry and have many nights of accidents. He's been just wearing a diaper at night, and we've talked on many occasions about how soon we would be trying to wear underwear at night, but he always got really fearful about the idea. Being a first child, I see the perfectionist in Jonah ... and I think the thought of having accidents at night just really bothers him, no matter how often we assure him that it's not big deal and "no, you won't be in trouble" if an accident happens.

Not worth traumatizing him about - to us. So, we told him when he was ready to give it a try, we were there to cheer him on. And, since he had earned a "fighter guy" (aka a Star Wars figure) when he conquered staying dry at naptimes, we had promised another fighter guy once he started staying dry at night and being willing to wear underwear. But most nights, he woke up wet and we just kept saying that the right time would come.

And Yay! All week long he woke up with dry diapers, and last night, he suddenly said that he wanted to wear his underwear to bed! All on his own ... we tucked him in, prayed with him that he could stay dry again, and this morning a triumphent little 4 year old woke up Daddy - all dry.

They trooped to the basement to pick out a figure - YODA - and Jonah has carried him around today and called Oma to share the glory. Yes, there will probably still be some accidents happening, but we have turned the corner and we're so excited!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday. I'm pretty sure for him, the day may run like most other Tuesday work days tend to be: taking care of office business; staff meeting at the church; catching up on phone calls; appointments; etc. But, it's still his birthday! And birthdays always cause me to reminesce a little ... (not that I need an excuse to get sappy, but might as well take one when I get it!)

My dad is like a rock. Seriously. He is steady, he is always there for me/us, he has been a constant, loving presence all my life. Raising five kids might drive some people batty - but I never remember my dad pushing us away. Instead, we were welcomed to sit in his lap, he rubbed my back and sang me songs (one particular one I still sing to my boys every night) every night for bed, played tackle/tickle with us on the floor of the living room, taught us how to play sports, taught us how to use money wisely (I still remember the occasional calculator coming along the grocery shopping trips!), and on and on and on!

And still ... I probably call my dad too much! I am amazed at how he listens when his three daughters call him at different times when we're going through emotional stuff. He just lets us cry, counsels us through, and prays with us. If I haven't talked to him in a few days, he usually calls me - just to check in! He has helped Eli and I on countless house projects, car repairs ... and more. And the same for all my siblings.

I am so proud to call him MY DAD. And even prouder for him to be the boys' OPA. To be a part of his heritage. As I watch him pastor the church and interact with others, he challenges me to become a better person, to want to change to be more like the Lord, to desire more patience in my life. After Eli - my dad is one guy who I respect with all my heart.

I wish I could tell all the stories that are flooding my mind and heart as I think of him this morning. I am thankful that I still have time to spend with him and that he is healthy and able to still be active dad and Opa.

So, I did what any loving daughter would do ... I made him a pie = ) For his birthday, all my siblings had gone over to my parents' house on Sunday and did various house projects/fixer uppers for them. But, on Tuesday staff meetings at the church, they always celebrate staff birthday with a special dessert. So, I asked Dad what he wanted, so I could make something and sent it with Eli. Reply? Coconut Cream Pie.

Done. Mine may not rival these favorites of our family down in the boonies of Arkansas that we get every Thanksgiving ... but mine was made with a lot more love!