Nobody Here but us Chickens

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Honestly, the highlight of my Halloween probably falls around 8:30 or 9:00 pm.  You know, that special time when you wave the kids back from the door, frantically shushing as you crawl in stealth mode towards your curtains and pull them closed from your position laying on the floor underneath the windowsill as your husband runs through the house making sure that every light is turned off and there are no visible signs of life.

That’s what we call closing time:)

Then we roll right into today… November 1st, the day when breakfast is coffee and Kit Kats and it’s time for some good…ish housekeeping;)

Preparing a Place

Sunday I slept through church… attended Bedside Baptist….

That’s a little joke I picked up from college friends,

Hhmmm…Image result for thinking starting to wonder if I wasn’t in the cool crowd…

Image result for you're so square baby i don't care memeIt’s hip, right?!
Usually, I make it.  I just remember the mind body connection:  If your mind can move your feet, just have faith that your bedraggled heart may yet wake up, literally smelling the coffee with any luck.

… I’ll save the rest of my profound thoughts on that for a different post, today I’m more wrapped up in,
Why I love cleaning, and how I balance that with choosing what is best.

I’m Martha, fo sho… as in Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, but her sister Martha glared at them while she finished melodramatically unloading the dishwasher.
Sometimes it’s just not easy to choose what is best. I try to be mindful of this as I embrace my gifting for service .

Part of the joy of cleaning for me is in the idea of preparing a place.
In fact , I almost think that Summer is finally catching it’s train, because I prepared a place for Fall.

After the Screened Porch Fall Clean out.  It's not exactly Better Homes and Gardens, but I'll take it.
After the Screened Porch Fall Clean out. It’s not exactly Better Homes and Gardens, but I’ll take it.

With girls heading here to s’more it up at the Van Meters, I kissed the Indian summer goodbye by dragging small plastic pools, squirt guns and the water wiggle hose back to their waiting spot in the storage room.

No more water wiggle hose b-ball or trampoline… no more kids hiding in the bushes with squirt guns and running barefoot to plastic pools to fill them amid shrieks and flying beach balls and no more flavor ice in the freezer, because even the freezer gets to make room… bags of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and lunch ice packs are already moving in.

img_6991 img_5350
I don’t know how many of these Halcyon summers we have left, and I should let that wash over… I guess… as I bustle by inhaling the coming season and letting go of each failed goal of summer.

Even though S’more night was still 90 degrees, I’m glad I did some clearing around the screened porch and patio.  I opened up a place to peck away with Windows 7, a place for Bedside Baptist to meet, for painting and reading… and counting spiders:)

Also, The s’more fire needed a bit of help and the girls needed a place on the dining room wall for post its with their ideas for service projects.


Retiring our summer reading solved both problems.

Seasons change and we get to make room or let it pile on, but we don’t get to stop it.

The Trash Man Cometh

This day has an official highlight.

Not since my children were much younger, has the coming of the trash truck brought such excitement!

The kids spotted a truck in the neighborhood just after noon and their hopes soared.  With no pickup for over a week, trash has officially become a situation.

Thank you, overflowing trashcan…

L & K Services, the secret wizards behind making our gross trash magically gone, recently got bought out by Waste Management, who probably would like to do the same, but lack a crucial element,

 the garbage guys.

Now, we’re living in the prequel to Wall-E!

Strolling down the tree lined streets of our beloved neighborhood has taken on a whole new dimension.  To start with, there’s the special aroma which emanates from the piling trash.  If it was a perfume, it might be called Meat Diaper and I’m not sure that it could, or should, ever be replicated.

I think the combination of allowing the bags to marinate in the summer heat for an extended time frame, followed by raccoons ripping so many of the bags open, so that the bouquet can be enjoyed by all, at the very peak of ripeness, is the special secret.

Yep, trash folks, we are ready for you!IMG_0300.JPG


The kids had bubbles and party horns, but lost faith in the final hours of waiting, so in the end our trash men were only greeted by the colorful sidewalk chalk that we left behind.

IMG_0302no more triple dip

6x03 Standee

no more snowman (okay, that one was on Malcolm in the Middle… Hal vs. The Trash Man… no???)

Goodbye independently moving trash bags, cluster flies, trash strewn streets and sticky mystery ooze.

Hello … sanitizing the trash/recycle bins before they go back in the garage, yowza!

Thank You Homes Association Board, for the hard work that happens behind the scenes and Thank You Wonderful Garbage People everywhere!  We’ll see if we can’t produce a little less refuse in the future to help lighten the load.



dc talk

Last Friday our family set out on another Van Meter Vacation Adventure!  What is the ideal American Vacation for the family with a 10 and 11 year old?

 of course!

There is so much to do!  By the end of our 1st full day we had visited The White House,

gone through  The National Museum of American History and seen The International Spy Museum!

 I should have bought the gnome:)

Here are a few White House photos…

IMG_9813 IMG_9819


Hub's transportation in the mid 80's, now in the Smithsonian
Hub’s transportation in the mid 80’s, now in the Smithsonian

The next day we had a rental car (Did I mention the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally?  900,000 bikers in DC, roads closed, fun driving).  We headed out to Mt. Vernon, the Washington National Cathedral and The U.S. National Arboretum.

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Later in the day, it rained, which thinned out the crowds a lot, so we walked around and saw memorials.  We made it to the Korean, WW II, Vietnam and Lincoln and were able to take our time, since relatively few other folks were out and about.


Monday, on  

Hub was up with the chickens getting our Washington Memorial tickets, so that was our first stop and it was very cool.  Great Views up there!

After that one, we hit The National Air and Space Museum and then The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

IMG_9880 IMG_9882 IMG_9886 IMG_9888 Next,

ate one of these  on route to the paddle boats.

I think the huge amount of ice cream trucks that are always all over the place was sadly my kid’s DC highlight.


We were already walking eight to twelve miles a day, so paddle boating seemed like a nice way to round that out.  When you add all that to playing in our tiny hotel pool hotels near George Washington University DC Vacation Triathlon!

Seriously, I'm ready for new knees like Grandma
Seriously, I’m ready for new knees like Grandma

Then on Tuesday, we took the metro to Arlington National Cemetery.

There’s a hop on, hop off tram tour that’s an absolute must for many reasons.  You can catch a breeze, take a break from all the walking and enjoy an informative narrator who explains what your seeing along the way.

IMG_9920  IMG_9925 IMG_9928    After Arlington, the kids got to experience their first cab ride, to our next stop, The National  Gallery of Art.

I loved it, but I was also reminded how great we have it in KC because The Nelson is pretty amazing.  I could have spent all day going through the gallery, but we were losing the kids, so it was time to walk on over to The U.S. Botanic Garden, which the kids thought was pretty cool.

Finally a little feet off of floor time at the hotel, because they also were pretty excited to have cable.  We caught up on lots of HGTV at night and the kids loved Chopped Junior.

Our final full day of Vacation started at the office of our congressman

IMG_9954 Hub had set up a tour of the house and senate.



Our very last, official DC destination was The Supreme Court.  You can walk in, sit down and hear all about it, which is so great because we were wiping out by then!

Airport here we come
6/2/16                  Airport here we come!



Fish Out of Water

Tonight is Salmon Night!

Pretty exciting, considering the fish ban we’ve been on since hub started to suspect that maybe he was developing an allergy to it.

Recently he’s been on a kick to clean up our/his diet to improve our/his healthiness  (we go through these cycles occasionally).

Long story long, he heard a rumor that fish is healthy, so we’re giving it another go, on a trial basis.

Since I have a big salmon in my fridge, this morning I found a recipe:

Here’s Mel’s:  Maple Pecan Salmon

No doubt, mine’s going to look just like that.

Next, I watched the How To Portion (Cut) Salmon Filet  episode of The Savage Kitchen on youtube.

Sadly, the fish wrestling didn’t go quite as smoothly for me as it did for those guys:

eventually I did win, but it wasn’t pretty

I console myself by remembering that the people on youtube are professionals, who’ve had some practice and probably have better knives than I do.  Also, their fish probably isn’t from Wal Mart’s freezer.  I think my fish didn’t want to come apart easily, because he was bitter about ending up there.

All told, this part was just a bit vile and unwieldy.  I feel bad for Jonah.    Ewwwwwwww…

That salmon was cold, floppy, slippery and hard to handle.  Also, the skin was just so fish-like, which I found a little disconcerting.  It looked nothing like the Filet-o-Fish!

Now that its marinating in the fridge, I feel like it may be a good time to clean the kitchen… before it starts smelling like Long John Silver’s dumpster and maybe take a shower myself.



I do like to label stuff.  You never know when you’ll become distracted and the labels may help archaeologists of the future.

I had to do the pecan toasting twice because I had too much going on the first time around and I forgot to turn off the fire when they reached perfect toastiness… but didn’t realize until they hit cremation:(

Nevertheless, four and a half hours later  IMG_9672 we’re maple pecan crusted and headed to the oven…

and Voilà!


I’m totally calling this one a win, Hub didn’t get sick and both kids ate it!  Yea!


Summers Coming!!

Countdown to Summer is on! I think my kiddos have about 8 school days left, woo hoo!

This is the time when I like to start thinking about goals and ideas, things I want to intentionally get on top of with my kids, during this time.  I love the shake up in our schedule, it’s always new and full of possibilities.

Last summer we did a family reading challenge.  Which we’re definitely going to fire up again, it was pretty easy and fun.

First Thing:  Make a Poster and hang it in a prominent location in your home.


For ours, I looked at some summer reading posters online for inspiration.  I found some cute clip art Popsicles and then got out the sharpies and copied a mashup of all my favorite ideas.

Then the plan was for each of us to fill in our Popsicle as we finished new books.  If your not a weird parent who loves to draw and color, like myself, have the kids make something.

Step 2:  Stock your place with piles of enticing and delightful books!

Whenever you need a little space… it’s silent reading time!  It’s a win win for everybody!

I searched online through various reading lists from all over and wrote down the ones that had reasonable parent reviews (I check common sense media or amazon.)  I also look at the reading level and go for a mix of challenge and freebie.  Then I just add them to my holds list from the public library, so I could run in and grab a pile every week or so, even if we were rocking a busy schedule and didn’t always have the time to troll up and down the aisles.

Step 3:  Have fun reading and adding titles to your poster!  This year, whatever we do will be bigger, ours was on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of typing paper:(

We ended up writing super tiny.


Last Step:  When summer ends, look back with satisfaction.


I needed to hide mine because the kids mopped the floor with us and wouldn’t stop busting our chops about it.

I love kids.



Breakfast on the Death Star

Thanks to a rare combination of insomnia, thoughtful gift giving and leftover buttermilk, I was able to kick breakfast up a notch this morning!

IMG_9545 Huh?

So, on the left, old man Fookwire: Image result for old man fookwire

On the right, a cartoon cat making a snow angel… or 1980’s car window Garfield! lg_15307.jpg Anyway, my kids were thrilled!!

Pancake molds, not as easy as it looks.

The ones that I actually used…

Image result for bad pancake shapes Now do you see it?  Who guessed X-Wing and Millennium Falcon?  If you did get it, don’t get cocky.

If you didn’t, well, you have disappointed me for the last time!!


The directions don’t specify, but you need to use the force here.  There may be no try, but there’s definitely a learning curve.

check it out:IMG_9548 better, right?!

The freezer is stocked.  What’s that blue thing in the bin with the ice?


The Dark Side has Lemonade now.

Special Thanks to our family out in Salina.  It took us a while to break out the pancake molds, but they’re pretty fun!

The only downside,

this is what my kitchen looks like now:)