Merry Christmas!!

I don’t send Christmas letters and pictures anymore.  Someone in this house, who shall remain nameless, hated having to print them, stuff envelopes, lick them shut, and pay for stamps when we have technology that keeps us over-informed of what each of us is up to on a minute-to-minute basis.  And also, I am sorta busy chasing teenagers and napping.

Yep, it has been another crazy awesome year of Piep-ing and my Christmas letter would have read like this:

Happy Holidays from the Pieper Clan!  We look forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior, and really look forward to sleeping in for a week because:

10649959_10152645307336112_7273458675697740798_nJP is 18!  18, I say!!  How in tarnation did that happen?  He is quite involved at school still, running XC, swimming, and adding trap shooting to the list this coming spring.  He is prepped and ready to graduate and leave me bawling in the driveway this fall when he heads to NDSU to start studies in the agriculture field.  Yep, another Bison generation!  I catch moments of my little boy but mostly of a man now.  A very weird thing has happened – my raising him part is nearing an end – and I am left wondering if I squeezed every moment in with him that I could have.  (Probably not because I love napping.)

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Princess lights up the stage every time she is given a chance – in fact, we have been scheduling life around her this year.  Not just our life, but our whole family schedule – As in we sold our camper when she decided to spend her summer (and thus our summer) theater-ing it up at Trollwood this year.  Will she do it again next summer??  She hasn’t decided, but I have already started looking at Little Mermaid merchandise.  She is looking forward to her first “bigger” role in Fiddler on the Roof this winter.  Her main role, even after all the stage personalities, is that of #1 fan – she loves to cheer on her siblings in all areas of life – a mom in training she is.  A tender heart she has.

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Curly Fry is a ball of crazy fun sarcasm.  She puts my abilities of snark and ridicule to shame with her dead-on take on life.  She also ran XC (rehabbing her tiny little hip injury), is playing clarinet in the pit for the musical this winter, and is hoping to run track this spring if that previously mentioned hip thing doesn’t continue to mess with her.  She really got all wild and made her own group of friends this year, which is strange and awesome at the same time.  Having our homebody go out with friends left us home alone once in a while staring at each other wondering what this will feel like in 2.5 years when they all leave us for good.

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Crazy still is found in the dictionary next to the word “fearless” and also gets an entry next to “insatiable”.  His ability to eat earned him the last word, as did his never ending quest to build something, catch something, do something, wire something, plan something, climb something, buy something, and now drive something. Although we have four children, this guy is a rare sighting in our home – his social schedule keeps him hopping.  Therefore, Bill is graying and I am balding at quicker rates than previous years.  Squirrel.

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Lucy has entered the “golden years” of doghood.  (Read, every morning we check to be sure she is still breathing.)  Knowing she was aging, we decided to add a little action to the house and added to our family Walter, our 7-month goldendoodle, who we love immensely.  We absorbed him into our family like snot in a Kleenex (Quote from JP).

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As for the grown ups in this house, we are XC parents, band parents, theater parents, drumline parents, swim parents, post-prom chairpersons, Mustang boosters, Scout parents, track parents, trap shooting parents, curling parents, and quite frankly, tired parents.  We love this life and enjoy every moment of watching and encouraging the kids to develop their given talents and passions.  What a precious thing it is to have the ability to watch them jump through the teenage years of life.  We catch all the family time we can, grabbing small moments of laughter and sometimes tears as the years fly by leaving us spinning.  Most often, I catch lumps in my throat and tears burning in the back of my eyes and I see in the near future a whole different life so for now, we chase them everywhere they go.

So here we are, Christmas shopping, decorating, wrapping, and baking almost complete, eagerly waiting next Tuesday night, when we shut off our alarms for a few days and spend some quality time with family.  Oh wait, we have swim practice, scratch that.

The Way We do a Hot Valentine’s Date

Very very romantic – that is how we do Valentine’s Day around our house.  From the early morning when we get up, to the minute we shut the lights off, it is all romance, all the time.  True love is like that.

We went about our regular days until about 4 PM when we noticed something strange going on with Lucy the superdog.  Apparently, she had decided to try ice fishing, because we found fishing line dangling from her mouth, and by “we” I mean Curly found it while I was lounging on my bed in fleece, hoping to grab a cat nap before my hot Valentine’s Date.  Ya know, I need more and more of that beauty sleep the older I get.  I have always been a fan of napping.  So anyways, I guess a good pet owner can’t ignore dangling fishing line, so I tried to get her to chill enough for me to tug on it.  She is a spaz.  And I have an injured wrist (more on that later) so it was a no go.  I locked her in her kennel, and did what every good wife does – called Bill.

Me, “Ah, Bill, I think maybe you have to come home.  NOW.  And take a look at your super dog.  Seems she wanted to end her week on a high note again.”

Bill, “Are you flipping kidding me?  Where did she get fishing line?”   No, wait, that is not what he said.  He did not ask that.  Because really, fishing line comes from one place in this house:  Crazy’s room.  He is the fishing line, duct tape, PVC pipe guy.  A man’s man.  I ran down there to see if I could find evidence and low and behold, I found NOTHING.  Not one piece of fishing stuff anywhere.

“Fine, after Xrays, we will be able to pin this one on Crazy,” We thought.

Curly and I busied ourselves folding 17 loads of laundry while we waited for Bill to get home.  We couldn’t think of what a swallowed fish hook might mean.  At 8 1/2 going on about 15, Lucy has run out of heroic efforts.  After the TPLO, we agreed we wouldn’t do anything like that again to her.  Lucy, on the other hand, was sawing logs, happy as can be to grab her cat nap.

Bill got home, and between the two of us, we were able to pin her down, open her mouth, and locate the issue.  Again, not true at all.  Labs are strong!!!!!!!!  So I made a call to the vet, Bill loaded her kennel in the Denali, and Lucy got herself a last minute drink, which must have helped her finish swallowing the whole fishing line, because it had disappeared.  We think she had planned this in advance, because 4:30 on a Friday????  Who does that?  She was so excited to go for a ride, stealing Bill away from our big hot date night plans.

So I went solo to our hot date – a swim meet.  And waited, literally shaking, for news.  They sedated her, they morphine her, they X-rayed her, the excreted her anal glands (can I get a “whoop!” from the stinky dog owners!) and they found…drum roll please…of course, nothing.  Well, nothing that showed up on X-ray.  So we wait to see if fishing line ruins her guts – watching for red eyes, unable to bathroom correctly (although really, dogs don’t “bathroom” so maybe backyard correctly is the better term.)  I guess the Pieper kids get to go follow her poop trail, watching for signs of badness or for fishing line.

They did find, in this X-raying that they did, that she has severe arthritis in her neck, so they asked if she had been chained up a lot or if she pulls when leashed, and we had to tell the truth – the truth is, she has hardly been leashed since the TPLO surgery because she spends most of her day propped on her bed with pillows and blankets and more of her nights on the queen bed with her main man, JP.  She also eats a lot of toast crusts, that is her job around here.   I guess that is why she had also gained a bunch of weight.  Don’t we all gain a little in the winter???

So she is eating 4 meals a day now, smaller amounts – trying to get back into bikini form.  Or, maybe it is because we have to take it easy on her digestive system, watching for the worst thing.

We are not ready to lose our dog, so this fishing line eating better just be another funny story – like the bread dough eating last month was.  Boy, for a dog who has severe arthritis and a fake knee, she still is pretty naughty.

So I sat alone at the swim meet, and Bill stayed home with a drugged dog, who pooped on the floor at the vet’s for the first time and was pretty proud of it.  Clarifying – Lucy pooped on the floor, not Bill – I know some of you will wonder.  And that is our romantic date story.  Brought to you by this dog, who seems to just be suffering from Afluenza today.

ImageIn all the craziness, I forgot to bring my camera.  I still don’t have pictures of JP’s first swim season.  Any kid who will parade around wearing pretty much nothing, trying a sport that he knows nothing about, just because of a deal he made with a buddy deserves to have pictures and maybe trophies.   I will write all about this some day soon, because I am so proud of him.  Doing what I could, I whipped out my cell phone to get a picture of him on the blocks (is that what they are called in swimming?) and instead, took this awesome Valentine’s date selfie:

ImageWhat was that???  Keeping it real, Pieper Style.  We have one more swim meet to get the perfect picture of him…I will do better next time.   Do you feel the romance around here?

What are you going to be when you grow up?

Back when I was either in high school or maybe WAY back in junior high, I took one of those perfectly accurate tests that tells a person what he/she should be when he/she grows up.  I very much remember what that test told me.  It was not a biologist, it was not a special-ed para, it was not a stay-at-home-mom.  (Although my dream job is still stay-at-home-mom, it is hard to convince Bill that it is my calling in life when all the kids are gone all day.)  That test told me I should consider being a plumber.  So I dropped all my future goals and took up the study of copper and PVC pipe fittings.  Except only not at all.  Plumbing is about the last thing God made me to do, right up there with accounting and folding laundry.

Our eldest, who I could picture being a farmer, or a pastor, or a history teacher, has no clue what he wants to be.  We toured the NDSU Ag department this summer and I think he is interested in looking into those options, but oh no! According to one of those accurate tests, he should be looking into becoming an airplane painter.  Oh yes, someone has to paint those things.  But not him.

Recently, the triplets took that test.  Crazy tested and came up with the obvious – he is to be a mechanic.  Princess is to be a teacher of some sort, just like she plans.  Curly really avoided the conversation and didn’t want to answer when we asked her what her results were. 

She shirked.  She tried to shrink under the table.  She told us she didn’t want to tell us.   And then the truth came out, “I would make a perfect computer nerd.”   The house erupted.  Nope, take that back.  Bill erupted in high fives and congratulatory shouts of joy.  Seems he has found his mini-Bill in the least expected of all places.  Problem is, she doesn’t want to be a computer programmer.  She wants to be a vet.  Yet, she loves to go to work with Bill and pull hard drives in the server room.  She pretends it is all about the free chocolate milk, but maybe, just maybe, she is gaining future life skills with her daddy!  He just couldn’t be more proud.

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What Else Should We do on a Friday Night?

Today brought about disappointment to the nth degree for one Pieper daughter.  And her mom.  And then in true fashion, a whole lot of anger as well.  Tears were shed, ninja skills were brushed up.  I wanted to be that angry mom who sent a poignant e-mail to a couple people, but I know better.  Instead, our family rallied around the dinner table.  We even had “Rally” cheers.  All the time, I was making my mom hit-list.  No one was safe.  Don’t mess with a mom.

Air 1 played in the background and we heard the same 10 songs they play over and over again – funny how one chunk of words sticks out at certain times.  Tonight it was something about how good comes from bad, and today, that good was knowing that two brothers love her deeply and also can make her laugh and laugh and forget for just a little while.  And oh did we laugh.  Six of us busting so much I had to get up and go to the bathroom before I peed my pants.  Aging sucks.  Today sucked. 

And then, because this is what we do when we can, we locked the outside world out, baked, and put up Christmas decorations.  We cried more and planned more ninja-ing, and hung garland and balls.  Dangling balls make me smile.  Even when we are breaking my rule that Christmas doesn’t belong in our home until after Thanksgiving. 

Tonight was Thanksgiving cheesecake baking night.

We made two new ones:

Carrot Cheesecake

and

Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

Tomorrow,  we finish up shopping and wrapping some things,  but tonight belonged to the beautiful girl who’s heart has been crushed but is still concentrating on decorating our banister.

And this has nothing to do with boys…yuck, who would want that kind of drama around here?  God, please help me get these kids through their teenage years with some sort of self-esteem left.  I still want to send that mean e-mail.

You know what else I have learned lately?  I have learned that I can admit how angry I am, and then wisely also state that I am not going to talk because nothing good will come out.  Except tonight – we made a family deal that everything we said tonight would be forgotten in the morning, so we let it fly.

Check One Off His Bucket List

Crazy has always drummed.  Since he developed any sort of his own identity and personality, he was pounding out rhythms.  It is cute when a little preschool boy asks for a drum set, so for Christmas ‘04, we went off to Toys R Us and got him this high end model for $50 and thought we had done our fair share.  He shredded it by beating on the drum heads with JP’s wrestling trophies.  He wasn’t easy on things.  

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If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum. – Ancient Proverb 

Once upon a time, this Crazy Man decided to stick his middle finger through the hole of his cymbal.  Yup, warranted a trip to the ER where a staff of wonderful doctors, nurses, and maintenance men cut the cymbal off for us.  They had never seen such a thing.  He was pretty impressed with himself. 

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I guess 8 year olds don’t drum on broken baby drums, so a few years later, we got Crazy his bigger set.

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(He decks it all out for Christmas.)

Over the years, we have added a few new pieces.  But now he wants a whole new set.  Guess the tweener set isn’t going to cut it now that he is going pro.  He wants this one but in white:

White, yes, that makes perfect sense for a pig.  “Black shows dust,” he says.  My answer, “Dust is the least of your stink hole of a bedroom concerns.”  We got him this sign last year.  He hangs it on the music side and JP changes it to the biohazard  side – both are truths.

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We have poured into his drumming passion with all the extra drumming we could sign him up for, knowing that some day, he would be able to use his gift to play at church.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:"

1 Peter 4:10 ESV

We had no idea that this would happen at the young age of 13.  Today, I played percussion next to my son, who played the trap set.  It was pretty much awesomeness for this mom – worshipping with my kid knowing his heart was also thrilled because one of his goals had been accomplished.  It is really cool how God uses different gifts, personalities, and willing hearts to make His church what we are, and that age doesn’t matter at all.

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And that, my listening audience, is how this drumming thing seems to go for Crazy.

Crazy’s favorite drum jokes:

How can you tell when the drum riser is level?
Drool comes out of both sides of the drummer’s mouth.

What do you call a drummer with half a brain?
Gifted.   

What’s the best way to confuse a drummer?
Put a sheet of music in front of him.

 

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Drum jokes came from drumjokes.com. 

Foods we like this so far this week

Back to the kitchen for mama Pieper, cooking up things that don’t take too long but taste like they did.  Of course right now, Oreos and Doritos are big hits.  They are at all times.  That is a given.  But they don’t count for some reason.

We are delivering supper to a new mommy and daddy tonight.   I feel a little bit of pressure because when I asked them what they wanted (never ever make that mistake) he told me anything homemade and then I asked (never ever make this mistake) if his mom was a good cook.  “Yes!” he replied.  So now I have to come up with something as good as his mom makes.  I already know I lost this challenge. 

I found the recipe for Chicken Pot Pie in the crock pot and was all over it.  This stuff looks and smells amazing.  I think it needs a little more spice, but I am not adding it because hello, new mom feeding baby = not spicy.

Since I don’t do cream of anything soup from a can, I made my own in place of the cream of chicken soup the recipe calls for:

3-4 TBSP Butter melted

3-4 TBSP Flour into melted butter, stir it up good

Stir in 12 TBSP Chicken Broth

and 12 TBSP milk

Why 12 you ask?  Cuz the recipe calls for a 28 ounce can, and this way, we are close.  If you don’t like my own amounts, feel free to mess with it.  It’s your kitchen.

If I had had time to prepare and think about it, I would have made this, my new favorite pasta of all times, which would not have had anything to do with chicken pot pie, but everyone would love:  Ranch BLT Pasta.  HOLY MOLY I loved this stuff, and I even used turkey bacon so it was super healthy **cough cough**.    I did make it for the Scout dinner on Monday.  There were really no left overs.  Sad me. 

Yesterday, I made Taco Pizza – pretty good, I must say.  I made homemade pizza dough, which is really quite easy.  I even made it Sunday and left it in the pan, waiting for me in my fridge.  You can do that, you know.  The first layer is refried beans, and I made my own now that I know how easy it is.   I had them sitting in my freezer waiting for this special moment.  Toppings we used were meat, cheese, tomatoes, green onion, and after it cooked, I added lettuce.  Except for one end – that end had just meat, cheese, and Doritos and even the CURLY GIRL ATE IT!!!  Miracles.    The sad part of the night was having to buy hamburger from Costco now that our 1/4 beef is gone.  Time to get more.  Store hamburger smells funny.

Tomorrow night is Parent Teacher conference night.  YIKES – might be fast food night.  Or starve until we get home and eat toast night.  Or maybe I wont have an appetite.  Depends how they go.  PT conferences are always dicey with these kids of ours. 

On another thought trail":

The weather is absolutely stunningly perfect, the trees are in full color, and I LOVE this kind of fall.  I love looking out my windows at the golds, reds, and rusts – my heart loves the look.  My brain knows that one good windy day will ruin it all and we will soon be staring at months of white.  Can it please last longer???  PLEASE?  I haven’t even had a chance to use our new mower yet.

McShort Pants

It started around supper time.  My kids had spent the day on the lake and were famished.  I had packed all the fixings for chicken fajitas and was ready to cook up a delish meal that would be devoured.  It was at that moment that the powers to be decided to draft for our family’s fantasy football league.  Kinda a “What the crap are you thinking?” moment.  Undoubtedly, being a mom outranks kicking FF butt, so I stuck to the skillet and handed my drafting duties over to JP. 

Why JP?  He doesn’t know anything about football and from what I hear, wasn’t even following the draft process because he was deep into a texting conversation with some girl who I have yet to meet.  You should see my team list.  It is very sad and losingly.  I know that isn’t a word, I don’t care.  The one thing he did right was to draft a namesake.  Last year,  team McNutt did pretty well.    This year, team McShorty Short Pants (named after Cecil Shorts) SUCKS.   Sidenote:  JP also drafted Montee Ball for me because he thought that McShort should have balls.  This is how it is going down this season.  I am 0-5.  And he thinks it is very funny.  I have become that girl who doesn’t even change my starters when players have bye weeks.  Don’t care.  FF ‘13 is dead to me.

So on Sundays, instead of watching football, I have gone back to the kitchen where I kinda am a big deal.  Pinterest + me = fun new stuff to feed the little minions.  Easy supper recipes that have been big hits include Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Cajun Chicken Pasta,  and One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole.  I sent these Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Bars to a XC team meal and JP said they were good but very rich so they couldn’t inhale them, which I think is a win-win – Yummy and slows down the ravenous teen collection – score.

I am working on a whole new list of recipes to try and will pass them on if they are good enough for the Pieper kids.  Or at least 3 of them.  We all know by now that daughter #2 isn’t about to try anything new.  Except saxophone.  She is blessing our home with the sounds of another reeded instrument. Why not? 

And that is what is going on around here.  Minus Princess’s play, JP and Curly’s running, Crazy Man’s hunting and all the little things in between like football games, pep band, Stampede week at school, bonfires, chili feeds, drum lessons, school meetings, Scout meetings, youth group, and all that makes life worth living.   Loving my kids more and more, even when they draft me completely unworkable FF teams.

 

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