Excerpts of Erynn

a blog about… nothing in particular and everything at once

Productive(ish) Procrastination July 4, 2014

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 12:05 pm

I really should be working on my lessons for next week. Things are percolating up there, though… and I don’t think they’re quite ready to pour out. Having left this blog to its own devices for three months, I think it feels a little lonely. And I’ve missed it. Also, I have some memories piling up that I don’t want to lose. I used to upload a lot of pictures to Facebook and that was kind of my photo/memory album… but I quit Facebook (except for Come Fill Your Cup purposes). It’d been a long Wednesday and as we headed out for evening Bible class, I wondered to myself what I’d accomplished in the day. I thought and thought… and realized I’d gotten basically NOTHING done all day because I’d been sucked into Facebook world. I’d been occupied with other people’s children while I waved my own away with irritation. I’d been absorbed in other people’s rantings while my own children ranted at each other and I didn’t even know why. It was… well… it was shameful. I’m only putting it down here so I remember for myself why I quit and so that if you, whoever you are, have been caught in the same trap, I can encourage you… quit. Just get off of Facebook or Twitter or whatever else has sucked you in and taken you captive. Re-engage in your own REAL life. Yes… Facebook friends are real friends. But they probably have phone numbers you can call or text and email addresses you can use to ask how they’re really doing (instead of Facebook stalking them and seeing only what they have deemed world-viewing-worthy… their highlight reel) and faces you can look into as they talk… those really are better ways to connect. So just do it, okay? Get off. And, Erynn, if you’re reading this down the line, remember: you made the right decision getting off. Don’t get back on. It’s in your personality type: you will get sucked in. Okay… off of that rabbit trail and on to why I got on here to begin with.

Conversation with Isaiah while we were camping:
Me: whatcha doing, Buddy?
Isaiah: watching this beautiful bug.
Me: oh really? Which bug?
Isaiah: <pointing> this one.
Me: oh, uh-huh. That one is called a cockroach.

As my good friend said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Isaac & grasshopper

Here’s Isaac with his now-dead (though he was sure it was still alive) grasshopper. He wanted to keep it, but I didn’t want him to… mean mom… I should probably let him keep more bugs. Anyway… he explained that Annabelle has a grasshopper catching club and he’d already caught two and had to let them go, so he wanted to keep this one. We compromised with a photo for proof.

20140704-121132-43892279.jpgJoey is still loving to suck his thumb… and he’s added sticking his index finger up his nose. Crazy kid. We may need to break him of his thumb sucking. The skin on his little thumb is getting icky and it doesn’t look healthy. I figure it’s a natural near-instinct for him to suck his thumb and I’m pretty sure he sucked it in utero, so I consider it a generally fine, God-given coping mechanism that he’ll outgrow. I’m not all that concerned. But I’m starting to become concerned. We’ve heard lots of stories of kids’ habits being broken by traumatization. There was a granddad who told his grandson he’d cut his thumb off. There was a mom who got the doctor to say the kid’s thumb would fall off. The most common way we’ve heard is that the kids in school made fun of them until they stopped. My mom painted my thumb with yucky stuff from the pharmacy. While that wasn’t exactly traumatizing, and I don’t think I bear any scars, she said I was mad and her for a while and brought up the “spicy stuff” for years after (I do kinda remember that). We’ve kind of been treating Joey’s habit like any other habit and when we see him sucking it other than bed time, we (sometimes) just ask him to stop and praise him when he does. Maybe that’ll work. We’ll see…

Okay… I have several other things I’m hoping to chronicle here (museum with friends, camping, Fossil Rim adventure, some daily stuff), but I gotta get off for now. There’s only so long you can procrastinate and call it productive(ish).

 

 

Randomly once more

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 10:35 am

If you keep up with this blog at all (I’m talking to both of you… ahh, wait… I see there’s just one here now. Thanks for your support Mom! Love you), you’re already aware that this space is for me to put down… whatever. There are soapboxes and memories, recipes and me telling people what to do suggestions. Being an extrovert, things seem better shared. Everything is better with a friend. So this blog space is sort of a two-fer. I get a place that I can’t lose to put down things I care about AND I get to pretend I’m sharing thoughts with people who care enough to look here in my corner of the cyber world.

One thing it isn’t: a priority. There’s a lot going on over here and, honestly, I’m in over my head. You know those juggling guys who start with three balls then add a fourth, fifth, sixth… until finally all the balls come tumbling down. That’s me. The balls haven’t fallen yet… but I think I’ve learned to stop adding balls. That’s progress, right?

This next week I’ll be away from my family for an entire week. It’s the longest I’m ever really gone, but it is an annual trip. This will be my fourth time to participate in the Future Teachers Training Camp. It’s a ton of fun, lots of seriousness, little sleep and loads of Bible. I love it because it’s one of the few things I do where I can see actual progress, actual fruit. The girls who are repeats from years before will be different. And in a positive direction, most likely. They wouldn’t be at a camp for future bible class and ladies’ day teachers if they were changing too far in a negative direction. I love to see their faith growing and I love to see that they actually care about God’s word, His church and each other. So I’m excitedly looking forward to my week.

And I love that I don’t have to be concerned about my boys. They’re in great hands with Jeremy. Usually my mother-in-law has come down to help with the boys, but she won’t be able to make it this year. Nevertheless, I have full confidence that my boys will be well cared for, eat real meals and have a lot of fun too. It used to be that I’d come home from this or another trip and the house would actually be cleaner than I left it, but with five littles, I don’t see that happen much anymore. Sometimes it happens though (it did last week), and I’m always in awe. I have a great man and he’s training my sons to be great men. Men who love God and mankind. Men who care in an active way. Men who know how to enjoy life to the fullest (John 10:10). Men who love bacon, swords and water fights of all varieties.

It’s a good life, and as one of my boys says, God blessed us hard.

Here’s a Fourth of July conversation with Jaden, put down here for preservation’s sake…
Jaden to Isaac: Tomorrow is the day we celebrate rockets and fireworks!
Me: well, we celebrate with them, but we’re actually celebrating… what?
Jaden: Hmm… … … Independence!
Me: That’s right. Independence from…?
Jaden: God!
Me: What?! What do you mean?
Jaden: God! Independence from God! God’s the one who gave us independence!

 

A lot of littles April 3, 2014

Filed under: Marriage — Erynn Sprouse @ 6:29 pm
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This has been on my mind and I thought I’d just put it out there.

Ladies, we have to protect our marriages. None of us are immune to temptations and our husbands aren’t either. We have to build a hedge around us. The only one you can control is you, so start there. Watch out for letting others meet your needs… even if that other person is a woman. Meeting needs is how you build love for one another and if someone else is allowed to do that, at best, you’re missing out on an opportunity to strengthen your marriage… at worst, well… I think we’ve probably all seen marriages that have fallen apart.

And that’s just it.

ramshackleMarriages can fall apart just like houses left untended. What’s the difference between a 100-year-old house with a caved in roof, shutters hanging off and paint so far gone no one knows what color it was to start with… and the 100-year-old mansion that’s the pride of the neighborhood? The difference is care; effort and work has been constantly put into the mansion. The other was left to the elements without anyone to put on a coat of protective paint, a roof when it was needed or even a simple nail when the shutter first fell off. Sure, the dilapidated old place could be restored, but it will take a whole lot more to get it back than it would have if work was put in all along the way… and honestly, when it gets to that point, most would rather just take a bulldozer to it.

tall, proud houseSo take a moment today and do something… anything… even if it’s small… and put a little effort toward your marriage. Send a sweet, romantic or even sexy text. Make a special treat. Fix your hair and dab on some perfume before he comes home. Write a note on the mirror to tell him something you respect about him. Save some energy for (ahem) bedtime. Just pick something and do it. Invest some effort into your marriage, even if you don’t really feel like it, and you just may reap huge dividends.

These are just little things… but, as one of our teachers used to say, a lot of littles makes a lot. Then again, a lot of littles left undone… well, that’s also a lot. So in the words of that great philosopher Nike, “JUST DO IT.”

 

Mexican Lasagna and (totally awesome) Flan February 2, 2014

Filed under: recipes — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:04 pm

To be totally honest, this blog is all about me. It’s by me. It’s for me. It’s the place where I occasionally spill the things that need to get out of my brain, the place where I can keep thoughts I’d like to keep (diaries get lost so easily!), memories I’d like to keep, and… as is the case today… recipes I’d like to keep.

There are a lot of blogs that I occasionally tune into (none that I follow all that regularly). Smockity Frocks is one of those. She is one of the 4 Moms of 35 Kids. I love their stuff! Anyway, she has a mexican lasagna recipe that I’ve made a bunch of times and we all love it. I think my kids may not realize that lasagna is usually an Italian thing, come to think of it. Oh, well. On to the recipe. My version of it. The original (which isn’t much different) is here. Biggest difference: mine is doubled.

Mexican Lasagna Recipe

2 cans refried beans
16 oz. tomato sauce
2 – 3 lbs. ground beef OR 1 lb ground beef plus 1 can black beans (drained)
2 pkgs. taco seasoning mix (McCormick is gluten free)
2 small onions, chopped (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
8 – 12 oz shredded cheddar cheese
corn tortillas (about 12)

Instructions

Brown and drain the ground beef, adding the onions and garlic if desired. Add the black beans (if using) and taco seasoning and prepare according to package instructions (usually add ¾ c. water per lb and cook about 5 minutes). In a small bowl, combine the refried beans and tomato sauce. Spread a little of this in the bottom of a 9”x13” that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray or greased.

Smockity Frocks says to cut the corn tortillas into strips about 1 inch wide. 5 strips works well, and you can cut several tortillas at a time. A pizza cutter is great for this. Add a layer of tortilla strips to the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping the strips. I actually don’t cut the tortillas (see the picture).

photo 1

Smockity says put half the meat mix over the tortilla strips, spreading it out to the edges. Add half the remaining bean/tomato sauce mix, then top it with a layer of cheese. Repeat the layers–tortilla strips, meat, sauce, and cheese. I make 4 layers and put a bit of cheese with each layer. My guys like cheese! Also, since I don’t cut the tortillas, I alternate which corners the whole tortillas go in (there’s a picture again).

photo 5Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. Let it stand 5 – 10 minutes before serving and then enjoy! I know you will.

And here’s a great dessert to go with. My mom always made flan for Christmas. I’m not sure where or when the tradition started; I think she just loves it. And I can’t blame her one bit. I love it too. Her recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, but I didn’t have any on hand. I looked up a substitute and here’s the resulting recipe. It was soooo delicious, especially with eggs from our backyard chickens. If you’re not familiar with flan, just make this and then you will be… and you’ll thank me. :)

Rich Baked Flan

2/3 cup sugar
7 eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

First thing to do is to caramelize the sugar (after you preheat the oven to 350 degrees… because that’s what you always do first, right?). If you haven’t done this before, it might sound weird and scary and hard… but it’s not. Seriously. Make sure you keep an eye on it and it’ll be fine. Get out a sauce pan or a skillet. Put the sugar in the skillet and heat on medium heat, stirring frequently (read: almost constantly). At first it’ll do nothing. Then it’ll keep doing nothing. Then it’ll start to clump up. Keep heating and stirring and it will turn into a brown, caramel colored liquid. Pull it off and immediately pour it into an ungreased 1.5 qt casserole and swirl it a bit to make sure it’s even. The sugar is super hot and hardens quickly, so work fast and watch all your digits.

Put all the other ingredients in a blender and whirl it up. Pour it into the bowl with the caramelized sugar and put the whole bowl into a larger pan. Now here’s the hard part. You need to fill the larger pan with at least an inch of hot water. Are you going to put the stack of dishes and cream into the oven and then pour in the hot water (risking a burn while reaching in the oven) OR are you going to fill the pan with water and then try to put the teetering stack of mess-potential into the oven? Personally, I pull the rack out, put the pan/ bowl stack on the rack, fill the pan with water and then carefully push the rack in.

Bake for 50-60 minutes till set. The flan will set more as it cools. My mom always lets it set in the fridge over night. I didn’t have that much time today, so it set for about 3 hours. It wasn’t totally solid… but it was still delicious.

 

Romance January 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erynn Sprouse @ 2:44 pm

We are rapidly headed for February and my favorite holiday of the year. I know… lots of people don’t care much for Valentine’s Day. It’s my favorite, though, because of its history. Really, my history, I should say. Better yet, our history. Valentine’s Day 1999 found my 17-year-old self in a small mountain valley town in Southern Colorado. I’d been baptized a mere three days earlier and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Sunday morning broke and my now-husband met me at my dorm with roses, doughnuts, and a couple of CDs with special songs. We went to Bible class and worship service, but we didn’t stick around for potluck lunch. Instead, my best friend and I were instructed to go about our business, but stay away from my dorm room and her apartment… the guys would be in touch. Ultimately, we were treated to a made-from-scratch-by-two-twenty-something-men dinner of shrimp alfredo, salad and apple pie (even the crust was from scratch). That was romance!

At least it was back then.

Today, 15 years later, romance looks a little different, and not just in my life.

Today, a nice dinner, a man on bended knee with diamond in hand may not be the most romantic proposal. With social media and technology being what they are, if he’s to be counted a romantic, he may need to gather a few dozen friends and family (flown in, of course), choreograph a moving dance production and convince everyone to lip synch along. This kind of “lip-dub” proposal is romance in 2014… or it was in 2013… we’ll have to see what happens this year.

Or maybe lip-synching isn’t really either of your style. Maybe literature is more the thing? Romance might look like a Pride and Prejudice proposal. Either way, a simple bended knee just might not cut it.

In my own life, 15 years later, there is no lip-dub and there are no regency dresses, but there is plenty of romance. Around here, romance looks like a clean kitchen after I’ve had a cozy nap. Romance is my sweet husband reading to the kids so I can get some work done. Romance is a terribly dumb movie to laugh about for months down the road. Romance is cuddling on the couch in just the right way so I can still knit. Romance around here just might smell like curry cooking on the stove after the kids are in bed. It might look like an “I love you” text out of the blue. Romance for me in 2013 was encouraging me to take my son out for a movie when the spontaneous whim struck at 9:00 at night. It was that… and so many more moments, big and small. It was my husband making time with me a priority… it was making me a priority.

Because isn’t that what romance really is? Making the other person your priority and putting effort in to make them feel loved… special… cared for… important. But it’s not just in the grand gestures like planning and executing a dream proposal/wedding from your soon-to-be-wife’s Pinterest board. Romance is in the every day.

But you might miss it if you’re not looking. If your eye is on the horizon, waiting for your romance ship to come in, you might miss the person sitting at your side, bringing you a cool drink and sharing your life with you. If you’re waiting for a huge gesture, you could miss the small ones. Don’t let dissatisfaction be sown in your life, in your marriage, in your heart or in your love by seeing the huge things other people may do and wishing those things were yours. Do not let your heart envy the romance of another. Instead, look in your own life, your own marriage and find what romance is already there. Nurture that. The romance you find may not look like anything else you’ve ever seen before. Your romance may not look like mine. But if it makes you feel loved and special, cared for and important, then celebrate it and call it what it is: romance… even if no one else would recognize it as such.

Might I suggest that romance, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder?

This Valentine’s Day, find a way to show your spouse love and care. Even if it doesn’t look anything like the 23 Most Thoughtfully Romantic Gestures of 2013. After all, those 23 people were using their talents. Find a way to use yours.

 

The Main Attraction April 11, 2013

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:03 pm

“Ugh, Buddy! I’m trying to get STUFF done… and you’re being a distraction!”

 

He looked up at me and grinned. Big grin. Little baby teeth poking up grin. Excited for Mommy to be paying attention grin.

 

And it hit me…

 

“I’m sorry, Buddy. You’re not a distraction. You’re the main attraction.”

 

It’s easy to forget isn’t it?

 

Knock knock… April 10, 2013

Filed under: diary,Kids say the funniest things — Erynn Sprouse @ 11:08 am

This just has to be recorded for posterity’s sake. School time can wait just a bit on this drizzly day.

The boys are all about laughing and having a good time (what little boy isn’t?) and Ean John has joined the ranks of the comedians. Their favorite joke for their daddy to tell goes like this…

Jeremy: Knock knock
Kids: who’s there?
J: Annoying dog
K: Annoyi–
J: WOOF WOOF WOOF!

So Ean’s jokes go like this…

Ean: Knock knock
Anyone who will listen: who’s there?
E: [insert anything... really... anything at all... "banana" or "kid with a tractor"]
AWWL: [whatever] wh–?
E: WOOF WOOF WOOF

And he’s sooo completely adorable as he’s telling this joke for the 93rd time in 10 minutes that I don’t mind being the AWWL (the 95th time does get to be a tad too much!).

These moments are all too fleeting and I have learned the hard way that if I don’t get it down, the memory will likely be lost forever. So here it is for me to come back to later, but also to encourage other young mothers to put memories down somewhere safe.

 

 
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