It wasn't long ago - about half a year, I think - that we had all sorts of little people running around....when number 5 was born the oldest wasn't quite yet 7. So I am not sure exactly how I got to the place where as of today, we have three teenagers in the house. We realized that there will be a 17 day period (18 if it is a leap year) when we will have 5 teenagers in the house. We ought to take a really crazy road trip during those seventeen days. Teenagers get a bad wrap....I love my teenagers. That's a good thing becuase there is a new one in the family - Isaiah turned 13!!! Wow. Here he is with some of his birthday gifts. He is really into Army gear right now. Isaiah's birthday always falls on our trip back from San Diego. He has been such a sport about it, but this year he asked if maybe we could NOT be in the car on his actual day. So, we stayed a day later in San Diego. Isaiah is a very cheerful and easy-going kid. He is so quick to forgive others and admit when he has done something wrong - not that it necesarily changes, but at least he admits it!! He is a very motivated kid - when he was little, he would come to my bed at around 6am with his math book in hand, wake me up, and ask if I could do his math with him right then....um, I just figure that in my sleep, I must have had a look on my face that said "I wish I was teaching math right now instead of sleeping". Which is strange, because I am pretty sure that when I had 5 very small children, I really wanted to do a lot more sleeping than I did.
Isaiah is still driven. We love who he is and watching him grow. I can hardly believe that he is 13 years old....where does the time go. One thing that I love about Isaiah is that when he is done with his chores, if someone else isn't done - and that person might miss out on something fun because of their lack of dilligence - Isaiah jumps in to help them get their things finished. Not sure how great that is for the slacker, but I love the compassion that Isaiah has towards them. Here are some of my favorite photos of Isaiah when he was little. I had to take photos of them from his album and then upload them, so some of them look a little weird.
Brand spanking new, with Daddy. Oh, he was so yummy, and a sweet, easy baby.
About 3 months.... and ready to rock and roll.
With his new baby, Elias - just a few hours old.
We were re-doing the front yard in San Diego and it was a disaster....dirt, mud, dust, topsoil everywhere. Isaiah was in the middle of it. He took his little chair out there and sat amidst the loveliness of it all. He was about 18 months old. He found this little crack/hole in the sidewalk where water pooled and he stuck his nose in it and stood up with the above pirate's mustache and goatee. We all laughed so hard. OH, I miss his little 18 month-old self.
Love this photo.. Happy little guy!!
this is my favorite Isaiah photo, I think...it is just SOOOO him.
Cute little guy!
He is always covered with sand at the beach
football stars - they were constantly playing football or baseball at our house
Elisha's first day of school, but Isaiah was so excited to be doing school
he had to get in on the action
Isaiah got baseball clothes and gear for his birthday this year. He wasn't old enough to play teeball (so he must have been 4), but he was so ready. He wanted me to take photos of him pretending he was playing baseball. Here he is "running the bases"
Getting so big even here
And here he is as a new teenager - 13 big years old. We love you, Isaiah and we are glad that you aren't going to be a waitress when you grow up (private joke!).
My new, favorite blog is Pressing On. The funny thing is, it is written by a 17 year old girl that Josiah met through the Curles' Girls. They get together to play (music, not Legos or airsoft) when we are in San Diego. Lyssa is a talented musician, an engaging writer and wise way beyond her years. I am encouraged by her insight. You will be too. Check it out and subscribe... and be blessed by a young woman dedicated to Christ, using her gifts to direct the rest of us to Him and His truths.
I know that this is not a really exciting post for most of you after much silence on the blog, BUT, some of our bison customers will be happy. I often have requests for ideas to use soup bones and shanks. These cuts are an excellent source of nutrients because of the marrow in the bones. Not only that, but they make the best soup stock/broth that you have ever tasted. I have a double use for my shanks and soup bones. First I make soup stock, then I use the meat for enchiladas. Both are super easy. Here is how I do it:
2 packs soup bones/shanks
Water to cover
Seasonings….whatever you like
Place unwrapped, frozen shanks or soup bones in crock pot (mine is 6 quarts). Cover with water. Add salt, pepper, and any seasonings you like (I use real salt, garlic powder, Montreal steak seasoning, pepper). Cook on low for 10 – 24 hours (if you cook them for the longer period of time, you will need to add additional water). Turn off crock pot and let cool for an hour or so. Pull out the pieces of bone and meat and place in a large bowl. Strain broth through fine mesh cheese cloth (the only place I can find it is at Bed, Bath and Beyond). Store broth in freezer containers and label. Pick the meat from the bones and set aside for enchiladas. Here’s the way I do it.
Easy Bison Enchiladas
Tortillas (corn or flour)
Meat from your shanks/soup bones
Pour enchilada sauce over bottom of pan (9x13). Fill tortillas with meat and roll them up. Set in pan. Once the pan is full, pour sauce over the enchiladas – I use a lot – and then sprinkle (or totally cover) with shredded cheese of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
I make this for our monthly church potluck - super easy, makes a bunch and gets rave reviews….they disappear immediately.
Depending on how old you are, that could have been a nice, long trip in a covered wagon. But that's not what I'm talking about. I guess I mean that it is "not my KIDS' grandma's road trip" which would be my mother, but that didn't sound as good. Road trips have changed - even in the last few years. Initialy, it was the DVD player that made things easier. But that's old news. Technology has changed things completely. Now, Brad's phone can be turned into a hot spot - Viola - instant WIFI. Here I am working on a blog post and Josiah has been redesigning the church youth website as we drive along. No problem keeping in touch via email or on Facebook or getting on the internet. We can watch instant watches on Netflix or one of the many DVDs stored on Josiah's iPad. An iTrip allows full access to your itunes library. No DVDs or CDs necessary. It truly is amazing. I am sure that our grandparents and even our parents would never have imagined it like this. There is nothing left to complain about on a road trip, UNLESS you are the driver - unfortunately, nothing has really changed in that area. Sorry, Honey.
Last summer, a great public swimming area opened in Lakeside. Although Flathead Lake is HUGE there is very little public swimming access. This place is beautiful with a gazebo, bathrooms, a grassy area and plenty of parking. We just went down to hang out the other night. "They" let the water in Flathead Lake out through the Hungry Horse Dam in the winter, and then they let it back in a little at a time during the spring. The level is just now starting to go up. Can't wait til we can swim in it this summer. The docks and large rocks in the water make it a super fun place to swim. Last year, since it was new, we don't think a lot of people knew about it and it was never very crowded. We expect this summer to be a different story.
And a bus it is!! We have had car issues all winter.....the Expedition is still doing great, but the truck (AKA The Black Beast) is not. It is a no-wheel-drive that has no business on the road anytime even resembling winter . And we haven't even discussed cosmetic issues - the poor guy has been through a lot and is missing all his teeth! See??
He is a great beater ranch truck, though, and unfortunatley, gets the best gas mileage of any vehicle we have. Brad has had to drive the Expedition while working this winter and so I have had to go out in the truck a number of times. I have been stuck twice and even had to call USAA to pull me out. I was not even a block away from home that time (if we had blocks out here by us). I was taking the neighbor's driveway because ours is way too steep and there was NO WAY I was getting up on account of the ice. I had visions of trying to drive up the driveway and sliding back down - backwards - into a big logging truck...not pretty. Even our neighbor's drive was too snowy for The Beast and about halfway up, he stopped going and the tires started spinning. I tried to go backward and landed my behind in a snow drift. The guy that came to pull me out had a good laugh at my predicament. HE would never have gotten in that situation ( I am pretty sure he's right - McGyver would never have ended up that way either) and he probably figured I was blond underneath all this dark hair. It's okay, I can laugh at myself...it didn't help that my then 14 year old son was laughing too.
And the Suburban has looked like this since the weather got bad. It needs a front end something-or-other and won't get that until the weather gets nice. Even then, the engine needs an overhaul. It will be a while until McGyver gets to that project.
So, as you can see, the situation was bleak....a wife that can't drive worth a darn in the snow, one non-working car and another that couldn't drive in the snow even if the wifey could. Brad has been sort of looking for a diesel truck so that we could haul a trailer of bison. However, a truck won't fit us all, so we would still have to drive two vehicles to CA when we deliver. Brad went in to talk to the diesel guy in town about engines/trucks, etc. The guy asked if we'd ever thought about a diesel Excursion. We had, but they are hard to come by and expensive. It just so happened that he was selling his personal vehicle that had been meticulously maintained. It has low mileage and the price was good. So, we are now the owners of one 2002, Ford diesel bison hauling Excursion with a 7.3L engine (somehow that was a good thing). The thing is indeed a bus and, compared to the Expedition, it has so much room we don't know what to do with ourselves....I am sure that real quickly, the kids will figure out how to drag everything they own into it when we go out. That is just their way.
We celebrated Easter in what has become our tradition....a joyous Easter service at church and then the rest of the day at the Millers. We eat way too much great food, let the kids hunt for plastic Easter eggs filled with candy, eat more food, watch the kids bounce off the walls and then become comatose from the sugar, go to the park for some football/frisbee/whatever, come back and give everyone a snack and then drag ourselves home - tired and happy. It is a always a great day with great friends celebrating the joyous life we have in, and because of, Christ.
Saturday we went to the ranch to feed some hay to the bison and check on them. When Brad left last week, the fields were clear of snow (on the Eastern Front it snows and then blows away into drifts). There were still huge piles of snow then and he wasn't able to get into the driveway, but the fields and most of the drive (past the top drifts) were clear. Saturday when we arrived, we couldn't even get to the gate from the road - there was snow everywhere.....at least a foot covering everything. We had to hike in to the shop (about 3/4 mile??) to get the tractor out. It was a perfectly beautiful day and we were greeted by all the horses who were happy to have company.
The above two paneled painting is hanging on our living room wall. Since I scared everyone with the bison head boiling post, I thought I ought to post something pleasant for all of you about bison and the ranch.
A dear friend of ours, Scott Paul, is a painter who is an artist. Among other things, he paints unique finishes in high end custom homes - last year, on a job, he painted the outlets and other wall "things" in a bedroom to match a custom birch bark wall (literally, a wall made out of birch bark). The switches matched so well that they couldn't find them.
Scott has been to the ranch numerous times to help "harvest" bison (a little happy terminology for our CA friends) and has also has gone out with Brad at times during the winter so that Brad didn't have to be out in the remote recesses of Montana all alone. Scott is from Montana and is a true outdoorsman - he is a fisherman, hunter, and bison-harvester extraordinaire. He loves the eastern front and appreciates the beauty of the ranch as much as we do. As a surprise gift to Brad this year, he painted the above. It is truly a treasure. I wish you could see the detail.
This is a photo that I just took on Saturday from the same view of the ranch as the painting (a little farther away). Scott had to tweak things a little to get them to fit, but isn't it beautiful? Truly, it is the most amazing gift. Not only did a dear friend paint it for us (and choose to give it to us instead of selling it for oodles of money!), but it is of our favorite view of our favorite place in the world. Of all the places to love, the ranch is MY favorite. Where else do enormous looming glaciers, tall stands of prairie grass and free roaming bison make all the difference?
A few weeks ago, around Josiah's b-day when I scanned the photos from his album to post, I also found some really cute ones of the kids when they were younger........oh, my, they were darling. They still are, of course, but there's nothing like having 4 little people under 5 to present you with total craziness and cuteness all balled up into one package. Micah hates the ones in which she is NOT - because she just WASN'T yet - she says it isn't fair and that we ought to get rid of all those. So, anyway, I had to post some of these....ah the memories. My parents will appreciate it and Kelly will breathe a sweet sigh of remembrance (remember how long we called Elias, Baby?). What I wouldn't give to do it all over again.
Look at the stinky crossing her eyes and sabatoging family photos....she was 4.
The first day of school - Josiah - 1st grade, Elisha - Kindergarten, Isaiah and Elias - along for the ride. Look how chubby Elias' little cheeks are!! That was before he decided that he only liked peanut butter, spaghetti, and meatballs.
The Long-haired Kings of France in the Middle Ages. I think they were more fierce-looking that this, and probably didn't have multi-colored hair.
One of my all-time, very favorites - and Micah IS in this one - she's just a few weeks undercooked. I am sure that she will not be consoled by that fact.
OOHHHHH. If I had known that teenagers cause you such lack of sleep, I would have slept WAY more in college to make up for it. Why don't they just go to sleep? And why do they want to talk about everything under the sun at 11:30 pm?? Can't they do that at 7:30pm? Don't get me wrong - I WANT to talk about everything under the sun with my kids, but I mean, heck, we homeschool - we are here all day together....why is said kid not worried about how he wants to record the vocals on that song or what guitar he wants to use at 8:30? Just wondering why those things are not important until the "it's time for mom (and YOU!) to go to bed" time. Can't they remember that at 7 am, when I come down to drag them out of bed, they will be in a totally comatose condition because of this?? Doesn't he know that I am OLD now????
I am pretty sure that most people are not boiling bison heads in their backyards........lucky me. Yep, and not your ordinary bison head - a full grown bull head. It has been sitting at the house in a trash bag - not IN the house, mind you - for a couple of months and since it has started to thaw around here, we figured something had to be done before it started stinkin'. It isn't everyday that you come across a full grown, bison bull head - you either have to pay for a nice, big bison hunt, or one of your stubborn bulls that won't come home to the herd has to die out in the wild and get half eaten by animals....then you get a bull head. We got ours by the latter means......jealous? Yeah, I didn't think so. We didn't have anything big enough to boil the doggone thing in, so we had to get a feeding trough. Then McGyver set up the system. It started out as a big fire with steel poles and sheet metal holding up the tub and it progressed to all sorts of other creative means to get the thing to boil. It was Boy Hillbilly Haven here this weekend. Some of The Miller boys came over to watch the festivities. Oh my. At one point there were 3 fires going and the pyromaniacs came in to get one of my cast iron pans, bread, and butter - they made toast on the open fire.CJ and Josiah sat around playing guitar on the steel poles so that they wouldn't bend into the fire.
HOURS later, just like a roast, the meat fell right off the skull. Just for the record, we did NOT, I repeat, we did NOT, eat the meat or make head cheese as my husband suggested we should. I am sure he was kidding....pretty sure he was just trying to get a reaction out of me...pretty sure. Now, we have to figure out how to bleach the skull so that it whitens up. And then, what to do with it.....Brad says it is going over our bed....I laughed real hard and passed it off as a great joke. ha ha ha ha.....aaaaaaahhhhhh! There is no way I am sleeping under that thing. We will keep this one, though, and find some great place to put it - like maybe out in the shop. Or, one day, maybe we will have a huge stone fireplace and we can hang it there. I would love to have an artist paint it some funky colors - Carol Hagan-ish maybe.