Life as Lou

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Eleven Years Of Marriage

  • May 24, 2012 1:25 pm

Happy Anniversary to my husband Christian.

11 years, 3 children, 2 deployments, several TDYs and training stints, four states, 10 moves, a hundred fights, a million kisses, and still causing trouble together ;-) I love you!

If This Kid Could Talk

  • May 22, 2012 4:02 pm

Why is it that dollies are so much more fun when they're naked?

This morning I took Gabriel in to the school district’s early intervention program to have his initial assessment.  Since he is quite speech delayed (We are three for three, people. My kids don’t talk until they start Kindergarten), we are hoping this gets him into the fabulous, free preschool they run in our school district.  It is called Carousel and from what I hear it is a really free great preschool that helps kids with developmental delays. Also, may I mention again the fact that all of these services are rendered completely free? Why yes, they are. Isn’t that great?

I think after months and months of listening to a non-communicative child tantrum five times a day because he lacks the ability to tell me what he wants, I deserve free preschool. Also a parade, very expensive jewelry and quite possibly a padded room. I’ve been dealing with these kinds of tantrums for about 9 years now since my preschoolers don’t talk. THEY SCREAM.  My sanity is questionable at this point.

Anyway, I am feeling slightly guilty because I am hoping that he stays sufficiently non-communicative before his re-assessment in the fall, and that he doesn’t pull ahead to where he is borderline and won’t qualify for services and then gets left in the dust because he’s behind, but not so behind to be worthy of help. Every time I find myself saying, “yes, Gabe that’s a fork, can you say fork?” Part of me is telling myself to shut up because I’m undermining a good thing. On a positive note, the really adorable woman who worked with Gabe seemed pretty sold on him needing the communication help, so I am hopeful.

Gabe has had many tantrums lately. It is hitting the point where I don’t even try to make him happy half the time. You see, if we go to the store and he asks for a treat, he will yell if he doesn’t get it.  But, if he is given a treat, he will find something else to scream about.  Perhaps it will be a request for a second treat, or a disapproval about the way I opened the first treat.  More than likely it is the fact that I made him put on pants five hours earlier and he is just now remembering that he scheduled a tantrum on that topic for later since he was already screaming about the shirt I was pulling over his head, and hey! the commissary is as good a place as any to commence with the screaming and flailing.

Sometimes I know why he is yelling.  Most of the time, after many guesses, I fail to understand why he is upset, and so I just chalk it up to an existential need to express his true feelings to the universe. If the tantrums don’t stop soon, I may join him.

Right now Gabe is sitting in the living room watching an animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I kid you not. It is part of a collection of old cartoons that his great grandpa gave him, and happens to be Britain’s first animated feature. Apparently a highly metaphorical exploration of the frustrations born from the corruption of socialist ideals in a revolutionary, cirica 1917 Russia was much more fun than his usual fare of Pixar’s Cars.

If only this child could talk.

Treats To Try With Augason Farms!

  • May 21, 2012 4:58 pm

I have a few new recipes for you to try out using your Augason Farm’s products!  These swirl cookies were a huge hit at my house, and not too tricky to make.

Swirl Cookies

1 package basic sugar cookie mix

1 cup flour (you can use gluten free flour if you need to)

food coloring


Start by mixing the cookie mix to the specifications listed on the package, then add in a cup of flour. If your dough is still super sticky, add more flour until you have a firmer consistency. Divide your dough. Roll half the dough out as if you were making cut out cookies.  Try to keep the shape as uniform as possible, so it is easier to work with later.  I did a rectangle.

Take the remaining dough, add a few drops of food coloring (your choice-pink is pretty cute too), and mix it until the dough is uniform in color.  Then roll it out on wax paper so the shape and size are as close to the other dough as possible.  Flip the dough off the wax paper on top of the other dough, then go over it one more time to seal the two dough together seamlessly.  Trim off any excess or irregularities.

Roll the dough up as though you were making cinnamon rolls. Put lots of sprinkles on a cookie sheet and roll your dough log in them until the sides are covered. Take dental floss, hold one end in each hand, slide it under the dough and cross the ends over the top to slice through the dough.  You can use a knife, but floss works better. Lay your cookies out on a baking sheet.

I pressed each of mine down on the pan to help any roughness from the slicing smooth out, and also so the cookies didn’t start out too thick.  Bake them for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees, and enjoy!

My next recipe is for Breakfast Muffins.  These are a great goodie to serve at brunch, and easy to transport if you need to take them somewhere.  It is also very easy to change the serving sizes- just add more of the ingredients- you can’t wreck it.

Breakfast Muffins

Augason Farm’s Scrambled Egg Mix prepared for as many people as you hope to serve.

Cooked Sausage

Diced onions

Diced peppers

Shredded cheese

Bread (cubed in 1 inch cubes)

Get all of your ingredients prepped.  Mix everything but the bread together in a big bowl. Line your muffin pan with cupcake wrappers. The foil type works better than the paper, but either will work.  Fill the bottom of each muffin wrapper with bread cubes- about 5 for each one.  Then pour the egg mixture into the muffin wrappers until it is about 1/2 inch to the top.  Bake these at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the egg mixture is fully set. Depending on how much cheese you use, it make take more or less time.  We like it cheesy, so it takes a little longer. When they are done, pop them out of the pan and serve.

With kids getting out of school and busy summer schedules, no one really wants to heat up their kitchen cooking major meals.  Augason Farms has a variety of great drinks to keep you hydrated and easy, every day sized soup mixes.  Try the Southwest Chili Mix  over your next grilled hot dog for a perfect Chili Cheese Dog- without the work that chili from scratch requires!

For a quick dessert that is sure to please, try out this microwave cake:

Easy Black Forest Cake

1 Chocolate Cake Mix

1/2 cup flour (3/4th if you are in high altitude)

1 cup of sour cream (sour cream powder works too)

1 can of cherry pie filling

chocolate frosting

Mix all of the ingredients together and put in a greased, microwave safe cake pan (I like to use a stoneware bundt pan for this one).  If you don’t mind heating up your kitchen, then cook it according to the directions on the cake mix.  If you want to use your microwave, put the pan in the microwave and cook on high for 12-18 minutes.  I am giving a wide range here because microwaves often cook at different speeds. Our last unit took 13 minutes, our new one takes 16.  Basically, keep an eye on it after 12 minutes and when a knife comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Allow the cake to cool, then drizzle chocolate frosting over the top and serve!

Happy Cooking!


Don’t Ask Me How I’m Feeling

  • May 18, 2012 10:40 pm

A few days ago I realized that people had been inquiring about my health for nearly five months straight.  Let’s recap: I was pregnant, then I had a miscarriage, then I realized that something was really not right with the girlie bits, then I had a hysterectomy and rectocele to fix it, then I had recovery from the hysterectomy and the very, very bad complications from the rectocele for two very long months, at the end of which I had a spectacularly painful ovarian cyst rupture and the very next day after I finally came out of the fog of pain and thought- oh my goodness, I think I might actually feel ok- I came down with a sinus infection and the bronchitis from hell, and now I’m over the five day fever, but still coughing hard enough that sometimes it makes me puke. (This is where I get a prize for longest run on sentence ever.)  Now when people ask me how I’m feeling, I literally want to scream, not because these people are on my nerves, but because MY WORD IT’S BEEN FIVE MONTHS OF THIS!

It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the concern.  I do. I really do. For much of 2012 I’ve felt like I’m in this private bubble of frustration and pain, and it is healthy for me when people pop that bubble by honestly inquiring after me.  It’s just I don’t want anything else to be wrong. I want to feel normal and function normally.  I want there to be no reasons for anyone to even think I might need that kind of attention.

I can’t tell you how grateful I was to have so many friends step up and watch my youngest during this time.  I have been in hard situations where I had little support, so I know how valuable and rare and wonderful having such a circle of loving kindness is.  It has been humbling and inspiring. It has also been hugely frustrating to spend so much time sitting on the sidelines wishing I could help others, but not even being able to help my own family.  I felt horrible taking so much time and calling people for help ALL OF THE TIME, especially when I would hear of other friends who had surgery or got pneumonia or had a baby or who just needed a well deserved mental health day. I wanted to help, but instead I needed help.  I felt like a jerk.

I have also developed a huge aversion to calling people to find a babysitter, even when I desperately need one, I’d rather slam my fingers in the car door than be, yet again, an inconvenience. Trouble is, normal life requires occasional sitters as well, and mangled fingers don’t solve that problem.

I’ve hit the point where I can’t help but wonder if my friends look at me through the lens of, “oh, her again- run away before she needs help.” I feel like people who used like me might actually be judging and avoiding me.  I wouldn’t fault them for it.  At this point- I’d avoid me. I tried very hard to spread my help requests out over as many people as possible so it wouldn’t be a burden to anyone, and I hope I didn’t become anyone’s huge pain in the butt.  I can’t tell you how much I hate being on the receiving end of things, especially for so long.  One of my goals in life is to be a part of the solution, not the problem, so you can imagine that I’m not feeling very good about myself right now.

Honestly, I kind of want to just retreat back into my bubble and stay out of people’s hair. I get this way when I feel discouraged or sad, and I know it is the wrong thing to do and that I need human interaction or bad things happen to me mentally, so I am trying not to do that.

I need to regain my health and rejoin the human race.  And I need it yesterday.


  • May 14, 2012 4:42 am

Gabe is obsessed with the water outside.  I have been changing his clothing about four times a day lately because he will sneak over to the spigot and turn the hose on.  Some times I just roll with it.  The days when it is 55 degrees outside and he’s run out the back door sans britches. . .then I need to intervene.

He also has a squirt gun, purchased in the Target dollar section.  The gun was actually $2.50, and I expected it would work like a gun that costs $2.50, but no- darn thing works like a fifteen dollar super soaker, and I’ve been nailed several times a day over the past week.  Once it was point blank in the face while I was sitting here typing.  This caused the gun to be put on top of the refrigerator (the only place Gabe can’t access these days), which of course ended in tears, and then worked its way into an agreement to only shoot the gun outside.  You can imagine how often I’ve had to remind him of that.  I think he is finally catching on.

Despite the fact that Gabe spent most of the past week dripping wet and completely happy about it, I find it interesting that I cannot convince him to take a bath to save my life.  This kid used to love baths, but lately it has turned into a nightmare where I’m trying to rinse the (gentle! tear free!) soap out of a slippery, screaming child’s hair and failing miserably.  Between the flailing and the panic the entire bathroom ends up wet, and I have to change my clothes down to my underwear because it has soaked all the way through.  I’ve even done several baths without soap and he is only convinced to rinse off if he is taking a bath with his big sister, and I am a safe distance from the tub and the shampoo.  One false move in his direction and he’s thrown one leg over the tub and is ready to bolt faster than I can say “lather, rinse and repeat”. The results of this method aren’t that great.  Between Maggie and Gabe splashing and the ten million ponies and littlest pet shop figurines, this usually ends with a soaking wet bathroom and a child who is merely rinsed and not really clean.  Also, there will be laundry (every towel and bath rug in the room, plus all clothing) and I will probably have to change the toilet paper roll.  On the up side?  Great opportunity to really clean that bathroom floor.

After all this, we usually hit the point where it has been weeks since Gabe’s hair was washed, and it begins to make me crazy. I do have one other option.  For some reason, he will peacefully allow me to lay him on the kitchen counter and shampoo his hair over the sink, so when I get completely fed up that is what we do.

My mother in law told me once that she used to line the kids up in the backyard and spray them down with a hose in lieu of normal bathing.  I’m not sure if she was joking or not, but the idea is tempting.

How To Make A Living Succulent Wreath

  • May 9, 2012 4:12 pm

Today, I am going to show you how to make a living succulent wreath.  I got my sempervivums and echeverias from Young’s Garden Center.  They have a great online selection of beautiful varieties of succulents.  I did a big post about them before and you can learn more here.

To get started, you will need sphagnum moss, a wreath frame, a wreath back, and floral wire.  You can use this type of metal frame for your back as well.  Mine is only made to last one season, but one you wanted to last for years you should go with two metal parts, as wood rots over time.  I went with wood because my local craft shop only had one metal one left.

Start out by soaking your moss in water, and one it is saturated, fill in your wreath mold.  Pack it in there pretty tightly.  If you are making a living wreath that you want to have live for years, you can take some old nylons, fill them with dirt, and make a dirt ring to rest in the center of the moss.  We have short summers and long winters here in South Dakota, so I didn’t bother with that.  If we still lived in California, I would have done that step.

Once your frame is full of moss, put on the back and wrap the whole thing tightly with floral wire.

It should look like this when you are finished.  This is a very messy process, so I would make it inside.  I got this far in my project and it started hailing, so I did the rest inside, and wow- was that moss was everywhere!

Once you get your wreath together, it is time to put in the plants.  You can use a pencil (or your finger) to poke holes for the roots. Be gentle with the plants because succulent leaves can snap off easily. I used a combination of blue rose echeveria, carnea sedum (which is the most beautiful sedum I have ever seen in my life, bar none), and a variety of sempervivums, including bronco, pruhonice, sir william lawrence, and several others.  It is important to note that the colors on semps can change due to the season or light exposure, so the semps you get might not look the exact same for a few months, or they may quickly fade and them come back greener or more purple or red than when you bought them.  It is fun to watch the seasonal changes!

You can see how I packed my plants in. Now comes the hard part.  You have to wait for the roots to take hold of the moss, so you need to find a bright, temperate location for the wreath to lay for 2-3 weeks.  If you have plants that fall off, gently tie them in place with some wire.  My wreath had to endure the rooting process inside by a bright window because we have had many cold, rainy days and nights dropping below freezing.  Many sempervivums and sedum are frost hardy, but there is no sense in torturing a plant that doesn’t even have roots working yet. Succulents like lots of light, so being in doors through so many dreary days was tough on my wreath, but it is doing ok.

One of the most important factors to consider is water.  Keep the wreath damp for the first few days, then allow it to naturally dry. Once it seems pretty dry, soak it through.  You will need to do this every 3 days in the beginning, then slowly lengthen the amount of time in between waterings to two weeks.  If you are doing this inside, you will want to let it sit outside during the day for a few days prior to officially moving it outside, just to acclimate it to the weather.  Just as you would harden off seedlings, harden off your wreath.

If you take a close look, you will see that the larger echeveria has stretched out as far as it can.  Now that it is outside getting lots of sun, it will stop being so elongated and go back down into its more natural form.  I think they are pretty either way. Many of the semps changed colors, based on lack of light and a season change.  It will be really fun to watch this as it progresses through a hot summer!And look!  It’s blooming already! Get your plants for your very own succulent wreath from Young’s Garden Center today!

Maggie’s New Do

  • May 2, 2012 9:13 pm

Maggie got a haircut today.  We last trimmed her mane back before school started.  As you can see from the photos below, it had grown quite a bit.  It was two inches below her rear!

These before after pics show the 7 inches of hair trimmed away.

Maggie also got some colorful hair tinsel tied in.  She picked rainbow colored strands, rather than a solid color.  Suits.

So here we are, healthier hair, waist length- can’t wait to see how much it grows over the summer!