I was taking a quick shower while the boys were playing the other morning. FireDad was off teaching yet another fire course, leaving me to dash quickly in and out of the shower if I wanted to be clean at all. In the five whole minutes that I was enjoying hot water, something horrible happened in my house.

No one was injured. Well, maybe my ears were injured in the fact that they felt like they were bleeding. No one broke anything. Except my heart. And, later, my pride. They didn’t even really argue with each other. And what did happen was only known by me because BigBrother told on himself. It went something like this:

BigBrother: *traipses into the bathroom* I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.
Me: *pausing the rinsing of my hair* You what?
BigBrother: *mumbling a bit more* I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.
Me: *praying and hoping that he told his brother to sit up or anything else* You what?

At this point, I peek my head from behind the shower curtain so that I may watch the lips on my oldest son’s mouth. I am certain, of course, that the running water, his mumbling and years of listening to my own loud volume have damaged my ears and I am simply mishearing what he is saying to me. Perhaps he’s not saying anything with the word “up” at the end of his sentence, which, depending on the content of the sentence is or is not an acceptable usage. Maybe he’s letting me know that he “loves his [LittleBrother] so much.” Right? Or maybe, grammar rules aside, he’s telling me that he “helped [LittleBrother] up” off the floor. That one is said in the hopes that he didn’t push his brother down to the floor in the first place. Still, helping is nice. All the same, I concentrate intently on my son’s lips and ask, one more time, “You what?”

And he responds, “I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.”

I pulled my head back behind the curtain, shut it, closed my eyes and, very calmly, told my oldest son to go to his room. I then went back to rinsing my hair, cursing preschool, the movie Finding Nemo and life in general. Oh, and myself. I have not told the children to shut up. I have asked them to be quiet, zip it, please stop talking and, oh my gosh! please be quiet! (Exclamation and italics points included.) I do not like the word, or rather, phrase, shut up. I think it is ugly. There are a million and one ways to get someone to stop talking and saying shut up, while one of them, is one of the least respectful. (Adding in colorful words between shut and up probably rank higher in the Least Respectful category of Word Awards.) All the same, he has heard me say it. We have a neighbor who doesn’t care much for her dog. (Or her children but that’s another story.) The dog is one of those yipping, nasty little dogs that barks at its own shadow. All day long. I have, on occasion, said, rather loudly, “OH SHUT UP!” And so, while Nemo’s Daddy says it to Dory on that movie that ranks as one of our favorites, the truth is that he likely picked it up from me.


All of this went through my head as I finished my shower; a shower that was no longer relaxing but at least served the purpose of cleaning me off for the day. I toweled off, dressed and went into BigBrother’s room. He was paging through his books, the pile on his bed growing to a size that lets me know it is, in fact, time to clean his room again. I sat down to have a conversation I really didn’t care to have.

Why did you say shut up?” He didn’t make eye contact. “I don’t know,” he said quietly as he continued to leaf through his book. “Where did you hear that word?” I knew the answer but I prayed that he was going to call on a Disney movie or even The Bad Kid in Preschool. Not so. “You.


I went on to explain that I shouldn’t use that word, even if I’m angry with the noise level or with someone else. In our house, words that we don’t/shouldn’t use are called “Ugly Words” and he then asked if it was an Ugly Word. It was. He finally looked at me, confused as to why his Mommy, of all people, would use an Ugly Word. Surely his Mommy was always perfect and only used the best of language. I fail, what can I say? I assured him that I wouldn’t use the word anymore and neither should he, especially not to his younger brother. And, oh please oh please oh please, never at school. I think he just felt overly relieved that he wasn’t in huge trouble so he gave me a big hug and ran off, with a smile, to play with his brother. How could he be in trouble? This one was my own fault. I accept responsibility.

No Ugly Words, Just Weird Smiles

Now if only someone would accept responsibility for and take care of that #%$^# dog! (What? That’s an ugly word, too? @#$% it.)

[I know I said I was going to write about my Big Interview scheduled for later today but I thought that might lead me to use Ugly Words. I promise a full update on the situation tomorrow. For now, I’m too nervous to form coherent sentences on the subject. Think of me at 10:15am today.]


The Land of Nod, design for kids and people that used to be kids

The FireHouse Chili Series: Simple, Perfect Chili

I announced last weekend that we’re starting a FireHouse Chili Series here on the blog. I had some lovely submissions on our very first post and I thank each of you for stepping up to the plate and participating. We went with a very simple, very “what-you-expect-of-chili” chili recipe given to us via Chrystal from Teach, Bank, Blog.

I’m so glad that we went with this recipe this week. In fact, I’m glad. FireDad was glad. LittleBrother was thrilled. BigBrother might not have been thrilled exactly but he ate it so this meal can be counted as a total FireFamily win! Before I get into the recipe of it all, let me tell you funny story. LittleBrother calls any big beans, like the kidney beans in this recipe, eggs. We allow them because he thinks they are fun to eat. Whatever works to get your kids to eat, right? The child is also infatuated with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, just as BigBrother was at this age. As such, he then said the the “hung-ee ca-piwwar” was “in there” and he ate the faux-egg, complete with the munching sound from The Very Hungry Caterpillar on DVD. So, we have cannibalistic hungry caterpillar on our hands. He was amused (and amusing). Here’s a picture of LittleBrother showing us that he did, in fact, eat the egg that contained The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I Eat Him

Who knew supper time could be so amusing?

Simple Perfect Chili

So, yes, this recipe is called The Perfect Football Chili. I’m changing the name to Simple, Perfect Chili. If you want to get more specific, you could go with Simple, Perfect Chili for a Cool Night in October That is Rainy and Otherwise Dreary and You Have Kids That Also Need To Eat Whatever You’re Cooking So It Can Neither Be Too Hot or Too Bland. So, of course, Simple, Perfect Chili works as well. It does have a small, afterburn zing, though not too much, so it would also be appropriate for a fire department cook off.

Here are the ingredients:

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 chopped onion
16oz can of diced tomatoes
16 oz can of kidney beans
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
Pinch of Cumin, or to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (2-3 shakes, or to taste)
Splash of red wine or beer, whichever you have on hand

We did use ground beef. For our “to taste” spices, we did 3.5 teaspoons of chili powder, slightly more than a pinch of Cumin and 3-4(ish) shakes of Crushed Red Pepper. Now, on to making the chili!


1. Brown your meat and onions. If you have a family like mine, chop your onions very small using a vegetable chopper or the like. This should also help them cook quickly. (Onions are cooked when they are clear.)

2. Add your spices (including your sugar). Stir.

3. Add your tomato paste, tomatoes and kidney beans. Do not drain the liquid out of either. Stir.

4. Cover and simmer for at least one hour. Chrystal let us know that simmering brings out the juices in everything so that, even if it looks dry as you’re covering it and thinking, “Uh, what?,” there will be enough after it has cooked in itself for an hour.

Voila! Serve however you like your chili best. The boys each had some cheese sprinkled on top while I also added a dollop of sour cream. Here’s a (very.close) shot of my bowl. I meant to take more pictures but smelling this glorious concoction for an hour made us all starving-mad. I forgot!

My Chili

I will say that I didn’t read Chrystal’s note at the very end of her post until after I had everything simmering in the pot and rechecked the recipe. She said that she would double the recipe as they only had one bowl of leftovers when it was all said and done. Whoops. We had no leftovers (and I really wanted seconds) as there are four of us who ate everything in our bowls. And so, in the end, I agree: DOUBLE THIS RECIPE. If you’re cooking for a full shift at the fire department, consider tripling it. When it comes to spices and doubling, be sure to taste as you add more so that you don’t make something that is too hot for everyone to eat.

Some notes: this is a very thick chili using the recipe as it stands. That is, of course, how we prefer it in this house. Why? It makes it easy for LittleBrother, still mastering the fact that you simply can’t turn your spoon upside down and expect the food to make it to your mouth. I think it might have been less thick if I hadn’t, uhm, burned a little bit of this to the bottom of the pot. I thought I had the heat low enough as I was doing some work while it was simmering. Not quite low enough to not stir a few times here and there. So, if you want a more watery chili, be sure to keep stirring and not, uh, burn some.

We are definitely keeping this recipe in our chili arsenal. Go thank Chrystal for her lovely recipe and check out how she’s getting back to cooking after the birth of their adorable two month old son. (She’s way ahead of me. It took me a full year to get out of my cooking funk after LittleBrother was born!)

I already have a recipe for next week (in honor of Halloween and fall) but I do want/need recipes for the following week. Please leave your favorite chili recipes (or one you have wanted to try but are too scared to do so and therefore want to use my family as your chili-testing guinea pigs) as a comment to this post or utilize our contact form. Again, if we pick your recipe, we will link to your blog. Thank you all for participating and remember to tune in next weekend for a unique fall-themed chili recipe!

Help Provide A Refuge for Missionaries

A RefugeA friend of mine who married into an awesome family contacted me yesterday and asked if I would blog about something they’re doing. After looking it over, I have to say I’m excited about the project. I thought I’d tell my readers about it as well.

The site is called A Refuge and their goal is to have 2,222 people donate $100. Why? They are hoping to provide a house, a refuge, for missionaries just returning from the field. It’s a place for them to stop, breathe and recoup after their long journey before heading home where things could be chaotic upon their return. They also want to provide a refuge to missionaries as a stop before they head out to the field. A place to sit, pray and mentally prepare for their important journey ahead, whereas if they stayed at home during that time they might feel torn between worlds.

The verse they have on their site banner is Nahum 1:7 which reads:

The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him, (NIV)

That’s what this family wants to do. They want to provide a refuge for those who trust in Him.


I have a soft spot for missionaries; for their work and for their hearts. I love this project. I love that this family wants to provide a useful service to a group of people who are doing hard, sometimes life-threatening work. This idea isn’t just a whim, of course. Rick has had this dream for over 20 years. His family is hoping to help make this a reality before Christmas of this year. Can you help?

For those not familiar with the family, Pastor Rick has been battling cancer for quite some time. The family has a blog that details his long but faithful journey. The family is hoping to help Rick see his dream through completion. The good news is that it is as simple as a one-time $100 donation. (As a side note: due to the economic times, they also have made it possible for you to donate $20, $40 or $75 online. I’m sure they would accept any donation via check. Contact them!) More information on the plan is available. The family has also set up an email address to handle questions as well. Knowing them as I do, I know that they will respond quickly and as honestly as possible.

If you are unable to help at this time, consider passing the information on to someone who you know has a heart for missionaries. Also consider sharing the information with your church (or your local churches, plural). If you own or run a corporation who wants to donate more than $100, I’m sure they’d accept your generous offer! They have a twitter account set up (@arefuge) as well where you can follow their progress. We’ll be putting up a link to the site on our sidebar and will be tweeting the site regularly.

If you are interested in giving now, go give your donation. Donations are not currently tax deductible but as they’ve recently received their 501(c)(3), that shouldn’t be far behind. (Read more about that here.) We send the Starr family our best in this beautiful journey.

[I received no compensation for this post. I shared it with my readers in hopes that they can donate or pass on word about this beautiful project.]