The Misadventures of Cheri

Mortifying my kids one swimsuit at a time

Just for Tracy S.

I don’t think I have ever posted a blog just for one person.  But since someone shut down her Facebook, she hasn’t had a chance to see the salsa video.  The video that is a result of this.  So here ya go, Tracy.  I do find it ironic that the whole reason I started Myspace was because of you.  Then I switched to Facebook because you told me it was where all the cool kids were.  You’ll be back.  I know you will.

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Courtship of course! (Or not)

Things don’t always turn out the way I had planned.  In my mind, this was the scenario I had pictured for my kids when it came to dating/courtship:

Two years after college is finished, a career is established and the child is living independently, the child will come home and say, “Mom and Dad, I’ve met someone.”  We will be over the moon!!  You see, our children will have spent all their teen years, college years and early career years focused on God, the calling He has in their life and on serving others (aren’t my pretend children A-mazing??) and not on wasted years of dating.  If someone has caught their attention, well, they must be who God has intended for them.

This bit of news will be followed up with, “I’d like you to meet them, pray about it and see if this really is the one God has for me.  Your opinion is so important that I won’t even consider going forward without your earnest approval.”

My fantasy world is such a happy, simple place, isn’t it?  So imagine my surprise when about 1 1/2 years ago, my son started hanging out with a girl.  And texting said girl.  And always being around said girl when the opportunity arose.  This really wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.  They were both so stinking YOUNG.  (In my son’s defense, I think anything under the age of 28 is stinking young.)

In my son’s short life, he has been pursued pretty hard by some girls.  One girl got two angry texts from me (only to show up to a church event the very next day where I was in charge of registration.  Oh, God has a sense of humor!).  And just last week I watched my son skillfully avoid sitting by two girls in church only to have a third girl literally run to grab the empty seat next to him.  If you refer to my previous post, you’ll see why my son has been flying solo for the past 7 weeks.

But from the moment I met M, I knew she was different.  I actually knew her just a bit before she and Austin became a pair.  And I have to give my son credit . . . . he did pick a very nice girl to be his “special friend” (go ahead and take a minute and laugh at me for my terminology).  She is not one of those loud girls who have to be the center of attention.  And after getting to know her family, I know she’s not a girl lookin’ for love in all the wrong places because her dad is an inattentive dork.  Her parents and Tyler and I are on the same page about everything.  So, so far so good.

But wait a minute!  What about my perfectly laid courtship plan?  This thing with M wasn’t in the picture!  Not even close.  Here are a few things that helped me not freak out:

  • My husband.  He’s pretty much the morality police of the family.  After observing Austin’s attitudes, actions, etc., he really didn’t have any problem with what was going on.  He did have Austin listen to a Focus on the Family recording (I’ll be posting links at the end of this blog) and has talked to him about this relationship.
  • Once I realized what was going on, I started filling Austin’s life with a few books.  Again, I’ll list those at the end of the blog.
  • My dear, dear friend Sarah.  I was at the high point of my stress with this whole ordeal a few months ago. (My stress usually coincided with 0ne or fifty people not keeping their opinions to themselves about Austin and M.)  I was having a mini-freak out for Sarah’s viewing pleasure.  She has a son close to Austin’s age who was going through the same thing.  She said that as a mom who has two children in college and one at home, that it is such a blessing to be able to walk your children through the whole relationship thing while they’re at home.  That bit of advice is the best I’ve gotten about this whole thing.

After talking with Sarah, I went home and gushed to my husband about why I was so stressed out (ahem, people!) and how great Sarah’s advice was and how wonderful I felt and how everything was going to be alright and how life now had sunshine and daisies . . and . . and then he interrupted me.  He said, “Most of the people who have the biggest problem with this are the ones who behaved the worst during their dating years.”  I love my husband.

So while we’re walking a path with our son that I never planned on, I have to say that it hasn’t been so bad. Things seem to be going well and we haven’t noticed any major changes in attitude, behavior or grades over the last 1 1/2 years.  Granted, they only see each other at church or Friday school.  And the occasional visit to her house with her parents in the same room.  Apparently, I’m going to survive all of this!


Here are a few books I had Austin read.

Ten Stupid Things Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives.”  Dr. Laura Schlessinger

I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Josh Harris (Not the staunch anti-dating, pro-courtship book I thought it was.)

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations”  Brett & Alex Harris (Josh’s younger brothers)

How Could You Do That?  The Abdication of Character, Courage and Conscience.” Dr. Laura Schlessinger

How To Know If You’re Really In Love” Dawson McAllister  The link is to the book, but Austin hasn’t read it.  There is actually a cd from Focus on the Family that you can order.  I just can’t find the link at the moment.  Dawson McAllister is hilarious!!  Tyler actually had me listen to this (in cassette form) when we were dating.  Austin has listened to it twice and it’s just a great resource to have on hand.  I will do some more checking when I have time and post a link to the cd’s.

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Drumroll please . . . . . the big secret revealed

{You have to whisper the word “revealed” to get the full effect.}

{Okay, not really.}

Alrighty.  HERE is the big secret I’ve been torturing my friends with over the last few weeks.  I promise, no one has been more tortured than I have been.  I do think I ended up telling a total of 5 or 6 people.  But they were vetted for their trustworthiness and if they didn’t live in the state – well, that was a huge bonus.  Also if there was no way they would have any contact with the surprisee, especially on Facebook, that was a plus, too.

My son has a “special friend.”  It’s the only way I can describe her since neither one of them are allowed to date.  M is a wonderful girl and I’ll post more about this whole ordeal and how it kind of threw me for a loop tomorrow.  M’s mother is Colombian.  For the past 7 weeks M, her mother and sister have been visiting family and friends in Ecuador and Colombia.  Here’s where it gets good.  The whole time they have been in South America, M’s dad has been taking Spanish immersion lessons on a daily basis so he can help the girls keep up their Spanish now that they’re home.  It’s important to M’s mom to have her heritage be part of the girl’s lives, so Dad is doing this because of that.  Isn’t that awesome?

Here’s where it gets really good.  M’s mom and M love to dance Latin style.  It’s in their blood and they are very good.  Dad?  Well, he’s from Yakima, WA, so he wasn’t raised around a lot of Latin dancing.  For the past 7 weeks, he’s been taking private salsa lessons to surprise his wife with.  And he paid for Austin and another boy to take the lessons, too.  Three times a week Dad, Austin and the boy have been put through the salsa ringer.  Austin actually took a Latin dance class from M’s mom awhile back and really enjoys it.  For a white boy, he’s got some rhythm.

Anyway, today (Wednesday) is the big reveal.  My part in this? I have to get the stupid thing video camera on a tripod, set up to get a good view of the room and vacate the premesis before they arrive.   Austin and the boy will be hiding in a closet in the studio and will surprise the two girls at some point.  I’m petrified that I’m going to be so nervous that I’ll drop the camera or something.  I had nightmares last night about the camera and tripod being in case, inside of another case, inside of another case and I was sweating trying to get it all put together.  Only to find out that the whole thing had been postponed until Friday.  Hopefully that won’t be the case today.

Well, now here it is, 6:00 p.m. and it’s all over.  Thank the sweet Lord above because I don’t think I could have taken it one. more. day.  I didn’t drop anything, got the camera set up and level with a good view.  I left well before the appointed family arrival time and didn’t get to see everyone until the lesson was over.  Suffice it to say, mama was floating on cloud 9.  M’s sister said her dad was scaring her with all the surprises – lol.  And M was beaming, if not still a little shocked . . . as was her salsa partner.  There were so many happy vibes packed in that dance studio that I’m still a little high.  Now just two more group salsa lessons to go and the big welcome home party on Friday.  I am so blessed to have these people in my life.

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YFMWNOEWL is back!!

That’s right, folks.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a “You Found Me When No One Else Was Lookin'” post.  If you’re new, YFMWNOEWL is about the things people Google and somehow, my blog pops up as their result and they find their way to me.  Here we go . . . .

Beagles.  It’s amazing the things people Google about beagles.  Here are a few:

Feeding amount for fat beagle – It’s on the package, trust me on this one.

Can a beagle survive in Alaska – Um, yes.  If my chihuahua can do it, so can your beagle.

Beagle háttér – What?

The misadventures of a beagle – aka: The story of Cheri’s life.

Beagle ocd barking – Is that why they bark?  I thought it was because they were idiots.

Genius beagle – Trust me, there are as many genius beagles as there are unicorns.

How can I get my beagle to stop howling at people – You came to me for this?  Bwahahahahahaha!

I can’t stand my beagle – Been there, done that.  Will be back.

Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?

Now on to the more general topics:

Why is this so bittersweet? – Maybe because you steeped your tea too long and put too much sugar in it?

Freedom is so bitter sweet – More goth traffic on my site.

Sausagefest, richland, wa – Yeah.  THAT makes perfect sense as to why my blog would pop up.

Can’t get enough cheese think it’s an allergy – Perhaps you and uncle buck big mouse cheese should get together.

Kids lick – I had three separate entries for this.  WHAT?

How many calories do you burn per hour pressure washing the driveway – Someone must be desperate to get their Weight Watchers exercise points.  From personal experience, I think you burn about 8 calories.  You literally stand there and move your arm back and forth.  Not exactly aerobics.

Why would I want straight hair – I have no clue; I love my curly hair.  My personal opinion is embrace whatever God gave you.

What is cheri (my last name here) – Okay, that’s freaky.  WHAT am I?  Am I not flesh and blood?  Prick me and do I not bleed?

How to mess up a pot roast – Leave it in the crockpot for 20 hours??  I don’t know.  I am capable of  messing up a lot of stuff, but pot roast isn’t one of them.

Toddler ear piercing screech – Those are fun, aren’t they?  After experiencing a few of those, I realized why people drink. – I’m telling you, it could be a real site.  There’s at least one other person out there who agrees with me.  In fact, one lady blogged about her experience at Winco.  She ended her post with,”Sometimes I think we worry too much about illegal aliens and not enough about space aliens.”  The whole Winco experience in a nutshell!

As most of you know, I took a huge blogging break.  It was so worth it.  I’m enjoying the moments I have with my family very much.  Anyway, during the break, one particular blog got a lot of traffic almost every single day.  And it’s a blog about my mom and our love of Tupperware.  Moms and Tupperware . . . . they last forever!




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Worn Out

One of my friends on Facebook posted this video today:


Nothing in this world can make me feel more worn out than a Veggie Tales song.  The super fast lyrics, Larry’s voice (the others do it, too, but Larry’s voice is tattooed on my brain), the nonsensical words that are really funny.  Exhausted, I tell ya.

Why?  Because my kids were toddlers/preschoolers when the whole Veggie Tales fascination was full force in our house.  And those were weary-Mom days.  I had a little boy intent on establishing his dominance on a daily basis.  And a little girl who was, well, less intense than her brother.  Add to that a crazy busy life and a husband who wasn’t around much due to his work schedule.  Bone-numbing exhaustion.

I’ll tell you how bad the fatigue got.  And I promise this is not an exaggeration – I even sadly admitted it to my husband one particularly difficult day.  First, I’ll post a picture:

Those of you who are of a certain age will remember Larry in “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”  Sadly, the release of this video happened during the time I thought goatees were pretty hot (Lord, forgive me).  I was so exhausted that Larry started looking pretty good to me.

I can’t believe I just typed that.

But what can I say?  It’s the honest truth about how “close to the edge” I was during that phase of my and the children’s life.  Thank goodness that chapter is closed.  Had it not, Lord only knows where my mind would have gone with Scooby-Doo’s Shaggy and his facial hair . . . .

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Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

{Okay, I seriously doubt The Martha came up with this recipe.  But it’s in her July issue of  Martha Stewart Living.}

After posting the picture of this cake on Facebook, I got a lot of requests for the recipe.  So here it is (don’t say I never did anything for you).  I will give my personal thoughts on the recipe at the end.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Base

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (I used salted butter.  I’m a rebel that way.)

1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (2 cups)

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl.  Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  On low speed, beat in eggs, 1 at a time.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions.  Beat in vanilla.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop dough onto baking sheets using the measurements below.  Bake until edges are dark gold but centers are a pale gold and look a bit underdone (for chewy) or until centers are set (for crisp).

This recipe calls for cookies that are 2 1/4 inch.  I used my small Pampered Chef scoop and it worked just fine.  For this size of cookie, bake 14 – 16 minutes for a crisp cookie.  Makes 8 dozen.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

4 cups cold heavy cream

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon whiskey (optional [I didn’t add this because kids were going to eat it])

8 dozen 2 1/4 inch chocolate cookies, baked until crisp.

1. Whisk 3 cups cream and the mascarpone in chilled bowl until soft peaks form.  Add sugar and whiskey.  Whisk until medium-stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 hours).

2. Arrange 9 cookies in a circle (with cookies touching) on a cake stand or plate.  Place two cookies in the center.  Carefully spread 1 cup cream mixture evenly over cookies, leaving a slight border.  Repeat to form 7 more layers, ending with cookies (you’ll have cookies leftover).  Refrigerate, lightly draped with plastic wrap, overnight.

3. Whisk remaining cup cream until soft peaks form.  Spread over the top of cake just before serving.  Garnish with chocolate shavings.


My notes:

You absolutely have to cook the little cookies until crisp.  The cookies absorb the moisture from the creme mixture overnight and if your cookies are chewy, you’ll have a mushy- although delicious – mess on your hands.

Safeway did not have mascarpone cheese and I was in no mood to hunt it down elsewhere.  I used Philadelphia Cooking Creme Original.  I had no logic as to why to use it, I just thought it would work.  And it did.

However, the cream mixture was lacking some of the sweetness that mascarpone would have provided.  I added more sugar and vanilla until it tasted like I wanted it to.

I didn’t add the whipped cream layer on top the following morning.  I can’t imagine it could have made it taste better.

The verdict:

Oh my stinkin’ heck.  Unbelievably delicious.  Insanely good.  Five stars.  A+++.  I had no idea anything could taste this good.  And I’m not even a huge chocolate chip cookie fan.  People will think you are amazing for making this!  It’s obviously lighter than a traditional layer cake, but it slices well, it’s just kind of hard to get it from the cake plate to your plate and have it be nice and neat.  But after one bite, you won’t care what it looks like!

You’re welcome.




My idiot beagle is a genius

Yep, that one.  That one right there.  She’s a genius.

Is there some genius dog group she can join?

A brotherhood?

A union?

A fellowship?

A committee?

There has got to be some sort of organization for dogs out there who fight every God-given primal urge they have and triumph over the forces of nature and physiology.  The forces that don’t allow you to “not do it.”  The cosmic energy that not even humans can ignore.  Whatever brilliance you need to overcome those immutable forces, she can do it.

What am I talking about?

This weekend we went camping.  It was glorious.  Perfect.  Noisy.  Anyway, Gwen somehow figured out that if she, well, if . . uh, um . . .how do I say this . . . if she could hold her #2 in, then the walk wouldn’t be over.  { How did I know she was holding it in?  As dog owners, we all know when they have to go.  And I’ll leave it at that.}  This line of thinking became crystal clear to her on the last day when we were packing up.  Or should I say, Tyler and the kids were packing up while I was walking the beagle all over the campground trying in vain to get her to do her doody.

There were threats.  There were tears.  There was muttering.  There was the exclamation, “This dog is driving me freaking crazy!” 

And then finally, after one last act of desperation on Gwen’s part, Mother Nature took over and life could get back to normal.  Or however normal it can be as the owner of a beagle, that is.  And this is why I think Gwen is a genius.  I have never seen a dog fight an urge so deeply as she did on that last walk.  Just so the walk could last longer.  Although you’d think with my foul mood about 10 minutes into said walk that she’d be glad to be rid of me.

When I came home and sat down to write this, my stats told me that someone had Googled “my beagle is driving me crazy” and found my blog.  I hope this person comes back and reads this post.  We can commiserate together.

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Dusting off the ol’ blog

Here we are.  That long-awaited day . . . the last day of school.  Summer is nothing more than a wide open three months on my calendar.

Who am I kidding?  Austin is in driver’s ed and church leadership for the summer.  Amber has a very busy social life.  Things don’t start to simmer down until mid-August, with July being an all out craze-fest.  But it’s a good kind of busy.  It would really suck if I was busy because my kids were doing community service.  I know the difference.

What in the world has been going on the past few months other than our Highlander sucking the life blood out of our bank account?

  • Marriages around me are dropping like flies.
  •  I was awarded the “Beautiful Mother” award on Facebook.  You may call it just a post on my wall, but . . . .  it’s a major award!  I won it! (3,000 bonus points if you can tell me what movie that quote is from.)
  • Found a bunch of  “Little House Family Friendly Moments” on YouTube.
  • Officially sworn off teaching classes that are aimed primarily at boys for Friday school (thanks for the nightmares, Math & Logic Games Spring 2010 class).
  • Got chewed up one side and down the other by a woman at church who obviously missed how cute and cuddly I am.
  • Caved in and bought a Miche purse.  And three covers.  And two sets of handles.
  • Basically called a bad Christian because I was glad OBL got his just desserts.
  • Tried to resist the royal wedding insanity but watched the whole thing.  Twice.
  • I’m still alive to tell about my son playing 9 months of soccer.
  • Got highlights for the first time in over a decade.  Me likey.
  • Austin got his permit.  He has driven on major roads and no one has died.  Score!
  • Found out I have a half-sister no one told me about.  Oh, wait.  That was Oprah.
  • Bought a bigger tent so I could voluntarily, yes, voluntarily go camping again.

So that’s it in a nutshell.  Can’t wait to get back to blogging again.  I really have missed it and all of you guys.  Well, I haven’t missed you that much because let’s face it – we’re all also friends on Facebook!!