Merry Christmas Again!

Merry Christmas 2016 from the Pieper family!!  It has been another year of the craze we call normal around here, bringing much change and many memories made (I think, but I can’t remember anything before last Thursday, the brain can only hold so much – but you know, it sounds good.)

At the beginning of 2016, Bill was starting to feel the 20+ year itch and began to prepare our family for the fact that his career was about to make a change.  We didn’t know what that would mean but slowly God worked on my need for financial security and helped our family adjust to life beyond Microsoft.  He is now employed at Intelligent Insites, doing more of that tech stuff I don’t understand and sleeping at night again, so that’s good.  His daily commute brings him to downtown Fargo, which in this part of the world, is quite a drive, like 25 minutes.  Whoa.  I had to adjust suppertime to 5:45 now.  Big big changes after decades of 5:30 supper.

Spring brought us our first family graduation! What a great season of life to reflect on what an awesome job we did at parenting.  High fives to us as we sent a readied 18-year-old way down the road to NDSU.  (A new list appeared on my wunderlist app that day called “Things James forgot to pack” and we sent siblings back up to his dorm later that afternoon with things like bedding – really??  The next day, we got this call “Mom, I forgot to grab my towels and shampoo” so up we went again with that stuff.  What did he pack??)  James snuck in all the farm-related work he could this fall, even driving sugar beet truck – which in my mind means a Tonka truck in a sand box but in reality was a semi-truck cruising down the interstate hauling tons of beets at very high speeds – nothing a mom wants to think about.  He loves college life and continues his path to attaining a crop and weed degree.  This kid is consistent with his love of farm life.  And I feel like I am adjusting to life without him home pretty successfully now although the first few weeks pretty much wrecked me.   And because of James, we have Emily.  I am just going to leave that here.

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Alli – oh sweet Alli – so much sincere love and kindness radiates from this girl.  She sings and dances, her heart full of music.  Theater filled her year – Fiddler on the Roof, The Little Mermaid, Charlette’s Web (in which she played Wilbur and for those of us who have loved her for 16+ years knows that Wilbur was pretty much her dream role) and now preparation for Phantom of the Opera.  She loves people as much as she loves her music.  Her tender heart amazes me.  She works in the church nursery and watches kiddos for MOPS groups (talk about life coming full circle).  She is looking at colleges and is unsure of what direction she wants to go, but honestly, her passion is elementary education.  When she was tiny (that’s a joke, she still is shorter than I am and always will be) she wanted to be a ballerina teacher so not much has changed: when God puts a calling on a life, you step aside and watch everything fall into place.  And, elementary kids are smaller than she is so that’s good.  Alli will be our caretakers when we get old, so we are extra kind to her…what goes around comes around and we are hoping for an awesome party atmosphere when someone chooses our nursing home.

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Karalyn, still the jokester of the family, continues to amaze us with her growth.  When I look back at the kindergarten mom that I was, I remember worrying about her because she didn’t talk to people she didn’t know and you know, that is pretty much everyone at kindergarten, and I wasn’t sure how she would function without Alli by her side.  Now, she has the tightest-knit group of friends I have ever witnessed and her social calendar is packed.  Not surprisingly, all these friends came from her XC team and I am so thankful for this group of Mustang girls who have pulled my Curly out of her shell.  She is training to run her first half marathon this spring and we all know that when she sets her mind to something, she is going to get it done!  Karalyn works at a nursing home which I blame for her change in direction concerning college and career.  A couple months ago, my veterinarian suddenly decided she wants to instead be a doctor, so we have started looking at med schools with her.  She is going to pay off for us big time.

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Andy, the crazy one, is still the crazy one.  Building, fixing, climbing, creating, drumming, messifying (yes, it’s a word), this kid knows no boundaries.  His mind always running, his body always moving, he just needs to get himself through chemistry and history so he can get on with his real life.  He loves a job, except a real job that requires a time clock and self-control, and prefers getting grease on his hands over pretty much anything else.  Back when he was a preschooler, he asked for duct tape, nails, and zip ties for Christmas.  This year, he wants tools, work boots, and a Carhart jacket.  Our little Bob the Builder has grown into Tim the Tool Man and we just try to keep one step ahead of him, or at least keep up with him as he moves so quickly.  He loves hunting and fishing, being with people, and misses his big brother a lot.  For obvious reasons, Andy is looking at tech schools: Diesel Mechanics or Electrician or a Diesel Mechanic who builds houses for fun, or an electrician who fixes small engines in his spare time or some other combination like that.

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Are we busy? Yes, so why not also go back to college myself?  I enrolled in online classes to get my teaching license.  This is a little bit different from my original agriculture degree, but this is the direction my life headed and when doors open you walk through them.  I am not sure the timing of it all, but one of these days I will bring home a different sized paycheck doing about the same thing I am doing now, minus recess duty so booya for that!  Winter recess duty – three words of torture.   And, when I am a real teacher, I will get to use the color printer at school.  So when you ask, “What on God’s green earth is she doing that for?”  remind yourself: the three main reasons she is doing this: $$, recess duty, and color printer.

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So we sent one off (fly, little birdie, fly) and prepare to send three more.  Good thing Lucy and Walter are here to maintain some sort of normal.  Lucy has the life every busy mom dreams of.  Eats, sleeps, and poops.  That’s about it.  At 11 years old, she has earned that right.  Here when we get home and ready to drop everything for a good belly rub, Walter is pretty amazeballs.  He loves to eat Alli’s socks.  In conclusion, Walter loves belly rubs and socks.  And Cheetos puffs.  We don’t raise no fools round here.

So in true form, today I realized Christmas is in a week.  That means I must get a month’s worth of stuff done in a week.  That is how I roll.  Let the week of nutso begin.  Merry Christmas to our family and friends.  We are surrounded by a fantastic team of people who cover us in times of need, love on our kids, and bring much joy and laughter to our lives.  We love each of you.  Have a blessed, relaxing time celebrating Jesus!!  Our family is planning a snowed-in-palooza.

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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.

Valentines Day

My Facebook status:

1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

My husband didn’t get me anything for Valentines Day.  Not even a card.  Because I asked him not to and that is how much he loves me.  I don’t need that stuff to know he loves me.  We are those people.  Once I got flowers delivered on Valentines Day and yep, it was awesome.  We can be like that too.  We are flexible.  Once, I got diamond earrings.  That was a good one.

Princess’s middle school play opens today and for our most romantic Valentines date, Bill is taking me to the slightly off-Broadway version of High School Musical Jr.  I had a sneak preview this afternoon, and was amazed at the talent.  I am really looking forward to seeing it again tonight.  And tomorrow night.  And Saturday night.  And I will love every single minute of it.  This afternoon, I choked back tears.  How has she grown up so quickly?

So, I figured I better make up a special supper and decided to try a new Pinterest chicken find:  Sesame Chicken. It was so-so.  The sauce was too runny.  I liked the flavor, though, so I might work on it a little until I get it just right. 

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I served it with broccoli and also corn because this is what Curly thinks of even the smell and thought of broccoli:

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The kids all gave it a shrug as in nothing special, but I see potential.

I also made Apple Crisp for Bill but he wont eat it because his co-worker, who makes the world’s greatest apple pie, gave him two pieces of pie at work today.  Score one for her. 

Curly just informed Bill that even when two people agree to not buy any gifts for Valentines, you do it anyway.  This is my FB status applied to real life, people.   She spoke the truth about our no action. 

As her gift for Valentines to me, she plans to clean my microwave while we are at the play.   Love in Action.

I love my husband.  I love our kids.  Every.  Single.  Moment.  Of.  Every.  Single.  Day.

AHAHAHAHA–I am back!!

My beloved laptop crashed in early December.  What that meant was the Christmas letter I had stored on the desktop just sat unprinted and all blogging came to a halt.  I got a Surface.  Super.  I learned how to use a tablet and Windows 8 all at once.  Yes, Bill sent me a tutorial e-mail when the Surface was shipping, but I don’t watch boring techie stuff.  It is bad enough that I have to pretend to listen when I ask him about his day at work.  I don’t even know what his acronyms stand for, nor do I understand his need to bring some of his techie terms into our daily life.  But I am a good wife, so I continue to ask how his day was.  I am sure he is thrilled to hear about my days at my job as well, although my stories are funny.  Seriously funny.  So back on topic.  I didn’t have my blogging software put back on my laptop until today.  I had to wait for Bill to have a weak moment so I could get the software I needed put on this thing.  He needed me to edit something, I needed him to install something – even steven. 

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Christmas was great – we all headed to the farm with an uncertain return date and enjoyed the laid-back time there so much that we stayed 8 days.  8 days of eating too much.  8 days of fleece pants with forgiving elastic waistbands and slippers.  8 days of great company and great memory making centered around food. I ate spam.  SPAM, people.  Bill’s mom has a great sense of humor and I tried it. 

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Peace and Harmony at Christmas this year…and shooting stuff.

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Cross Country Skiing for Lazy People.

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Homemade Donuts

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Lots O’ Rummikube. 

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Dog Wranglin’  – this fireplace visit was earned years ago and finally paid out.  At the farm, dogs don’t come inside the house, but we are working on wearing her down on this rule.  These aint no Motel 6 dogs.  Look how happy Lucy is,

So then we came back (a few pounds heavier) to a house with no groceries and made a conscious decision to only buy healthy foods to replenish our fridge and pantry.  Good-bye, M&M’s so delightful and colorful.  Good-bye, Doritos.  I will miss how you color my finger tips.  Good-bye, my best friend Mt. Dew.  Not for forever, but until I am no longer addicted (can a alcoholic ever drink just one??).  I still haven’t come to terms with the idea that I am a Mt. Dewaholic,  never able to control how much I drink.

I have been hauling my lunch to work, and have co-workers asking for recipes so here I go again, recipe-ing until once again, I fall off the bandwagon and start eating foods of the devil.  Bill is hoping this is a life-long change, and I think for the most part, it may be.  But then, I have said that before and went right back to shoving my hand in the chip bag.  Naughty me. 

We are using MyFitnessPal.com to track our calories.  Did you know that my after school snack of a McDonalds #2 with a Coke had almost as many calories as I eat in a day now?  I loved eating those.  Seriously.  So once in a while, I eat a cheeseburger and steal a couple fries from my kids just for fun.  Gotta live a little.  I have managed to cut up and eat 3 pineapples in a row – in the past, the pineapple on the counter was for decoration and then when I noticed the puddle under it, I would say, “oh, darn, Looky what I forgot again!” and throw it away.  I also have made my bed every day, but that has nothing to do with my eating habits, I am just proud.

So what diet are we on?  We are on the Eating Healthy, Eating reasonable calorie diet.  It seems to work pretty well.  Granted, I miss the ability to drink the Dew under stress, but after 4 days of wanting to cut my own head off due to lack of Dew, I am clean and clear.  Two weeks sober today.  Kinda a big deal for me.  Last time I was serious about this, I made it 4 1/2 months.  I think I can go longer this time.  It is all a competition, either way, I win, right??

The first recipe to share comes via Ms.  February.  The only change I made was to add an extra can of white beans to the pot.  Maybe they were navy – I am not sure. I even used super healthy noodles found in the super healthy section of our local grocery store.  That is how I roll these days.

Classic Minestrone Soup    Enjoy!!!!

Also, one last thing – Our little Princess has been having stomach issues lately.  Much testing, much figuring out “what the hey!”  and we still don’t have solid answers but for sure, she is lactose intolerant, so our entire home is shifting a little bit that way so you may note that in some of my recipes I post, I have left out milk or used fake milk – you know the type, gross stuff passed off as milk.  Blech.

 

Uffda! This one has been long.  But so much to share!!  I hardly got started. 

Happy Mid-January, everyone!!!

What Concerts are Really Like

I picture going to my kids’ concerts like this: perfect seat, great company, and then relaxing and enjoying watching my children and their band mates play beautiful music.  However, reality is slightly different.  We generally don’t get to the events all that early because nights like last night are common.  Princess and JP got home with Bill 20 minutes before we turned around and headed back in – eat supper, change clothes, get beautified, run back out door.  There may or may not have been tears involved in this 20 minute span last night.  We were supposed to be there at 6:00 and whipped into the parking lot at 6:03.   Not too shabby, except one Pieper, who often goes by a royal nickname, forgot to eat supper.

Get to concert.  Find seats.  Note that even though you are 1/2 hour early, it seems many parents got there in Black-Friday Best-Buy fashion and have saved rows and rows of seats, leaving you with a side seat about half way back.  Get camera ready – out walks band.  And here are my views of my little drummer boy from the first concert of the evening:

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Awesome.  Second concert was coming up, so we decided when all the parents piled out from the first that we would move for a better view.  Good idea.  Curly picked out our seat based off where she would play from.  The new seat worked much better.

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Except when the full band came out and Curly was right in front of us, all I wanted to do is climb up there and “boi-oi-oi-oing” her curls.  Any girl can smooth it out, but it takes God given awesome hair curls to pull this off.  “Where are her sweat pants?” You ask.  “I know!!!!”  I reply.  “How normal she is to be wearing dress pants!!”

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One small issue remaining.  Where is Princess? 

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See that tiny head in the back – our only view of her all night.  Seems that being short + playing percussion behind a huge band = ability to hide all night.

Good thing we have a big zoom lens.  Too bad I didn’t feel like getting it out.  Smile

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She wants to be the guest conductor.

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Hug your kids tight tonight!!  Enjoy the tiny moments of crying about shirts.  Treasure the goofball conductor.  Revel in your kids’ talents.  Appreciate their friends.  Applaud their efforts.  Savor each moment.  You may not always have the best seat in the house, but you are in the house.  Be in the moment.

Five days of Bliss

Some of my ladies.

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Some pies we made.

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Overwhelming list of stuff to get done.

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Long list of accomplishments.

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Spending time with my favorite people.

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Happy Easter Piep Style

Source

Holidays can sometimes bring great amounts of stress, which distracts us from the real reason for the holiday.  Christmas – so much decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, blah blah blah…no celebrating Jesus.  Easter can be the same…so we decided this year, with a 5 day vacation from school and nothing planned, that we would go low key and do it Pieper style and this is what happened.

First, we did away with wearing of ties with our tie cutting ceremony.

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Lucy loves wearing a tie, but we have worked so hard to teach her that ties are for boys.

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Ok, the honest truth is that we made tie Easter eggs, following this tutorial.  Some turned out ok, some didn’t.  Oh well, points for trying something new.

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Easter baskets are for babies.  Or people who have over achieving parents.  My kids are neither.  We bought them off.  They are happy.  And Lucy wont puke after she eats tons of wrappers.

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We threw the ham in the oven around 7:45 AM because we were on the worship team at church this Sunday and learned an important lesson.  I knew the minute we walked back in the house 5 hours later that we were experiencing a nasty pig mishap.  Oh well.  Bill picked the edible parts out.  We still ate it.  After all, it wasn’t toast.

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Child labor is cheap around here and since the kids eat mashed potatoes by the gallon, we made the trio peel potatoes.  I taught them the old “one per person, one for the pot” rule and then explained how it doesn’t apply to us.  Peel until your wrists are numb.  I had to tell Curly to smile about 10 times for this picture.  She wasn’t happy about it all.

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Since the eldest child doesn’t cook (soooo sorry, future wife) we put him on dishes duty.  For that, he is well trained.  (You’re welcome, future wife.)  Yes, the kitchen was already full of dirty dishes.  That is the way a laid-back Easter looks.

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We put on our best clothes for dinner.  For real.  He wore his suit to church – first time in his life ever.  It was off the minute we got home.  Suits are not needed for eating and napping.

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The next step is to be sure you serve out of Tupperware because it saves on dishes afterward.  This is really important.

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Said son #1 of the above two bowls, “what is the difference between the two potatoes?”  Uh…..the red bowl is cauliflower. 

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That comment even made the potatoes smile. 

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And then we took a nap.  Sometimes we need to rest.  This is that time.  The end of Easter 2012. 

Thank-you, Jesus, for what you did for us.

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