Happy 2013!

My blogging surge hasn’t happened.

But I did get around to making a Happy New Year card which is really just a very belated Christmas card.

I’m fine with that and I kind of like it that way.

humphreys 2012 holiday card blog v2

If you have really great eyesight and can actually read the tiny print, please know that the actual card I mailed to friends and family did not say “SB” and “Scary Baby”. Just trying to respect the 13 year old’s privacy regarding internet strangers.

It has been 5 years since I started this blog and 5 years since I sent a holiday card. Probably not a coincidence as I felt everyone could get the Humpfreeze updates on the blog.

And perhaps because we had not taken a decent family photo since Scary Baby was one.

I’m still working on 2012 highlights and getting them on the blog for the sake of our family history. The timeline pressure is all mine and I can go at my own pace knowing that all that I have recorded in the past 20+ years is more than many take the time to do and release some of my guilt over my giant blogging gaps this year.

I’m not ready to stop but I still can’t figure out how to start again.

Thanks for hanging around here and reading when I do post. I love every comment and email I receive.

Happy New Year – may 2013 be the best year yet for you and your loved ones!!



Blog Neglect and a Tribute

I haven’t blogged since mid October.

I had a list of reasons to share about why I had stopped blogging.

I planned it all in my head last week how I would get back in the groove on Monday.

Then Friday’s tragedy happened. I was frozen when Roger Leroy sent me a text asking me if I knew what happened in Connecticut. She shared what she knew.

Without turning on the TV, I walked downstairs and hugged Scary Baby and told her I was so grateful she was home with me.

Then I went back upstairs and called PhilBillPaul and turned on the TV and cried.

My reasons for not blogging are small and irrelevant.

As we’ve prayed and had moments of silence for all the families in Connecticut, it occurred to me today that I need to write and capture the rest of our 2012 stories.

Because the little things are the things that keep us grounded when we can’t fathom what others must endure.

Even if you never watch The Voice, this 2 minute tribute is worth watching.

Click here to see the video if you don’t see it in the blog above.

And maybe tomorrow, I’ll be back to blog about the little things.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwdown

We have loved our Chocolate Chip Malted Cookie recipe that we’ve been making for years and years taken from Taste of Home.

But I’ve stopped using Crisco almost completely and that recipe calls for butter-flavored Crisco. I banned margarine from the house about 5 years ago. It’s all butter in my baking now. Look at these healthy strides I’m making.

Let’s discuss the evils of white sugar another time, okay? I want to stay focused. This is about our new favorite cookie.

The recipe inspiration is from one that was seen around blogland in several places and you can check out the original recipe on The New York Times from 2008.

I’ve made them 3 times now and with some personal tweaking, they are now at the top of our favorites list!

The things we think elevate these to our new favorites:

  • Two kinds of flour ~ cake flour and bread flour
  • Coarse salt
  • Creaming the butter and sugar for 5 minutes
  • Three kinds of chocolate chips
  • Refrigerate dough over night before baking
  • Sprinkling with sea salt before baking

Scary Baby graciously allowed me to photograph her first cookie tasting.

Wizzy wasn’t quite as dramatic.

We love, love, love these cookies. They are fat and chewy and lightly crisp at the edges. The texture is exactly what I want in a cookie and I think the combination of two flours and refrigerating overnight are the keys to this perfect cookie!

Triple Chocolate Chip Malt Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (can use light but we like dark)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips – mix a combination of dark, semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips

Optional add-ins: You can also add in 1 cup of broken pretzel sticks and/or 1 cup of caramel bits which turn them into another delicious cookie!

Mix flours, malted milk powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. Cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Mix in chocolate chips.

Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours or frozen.*

To bake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Use small cookie scoop (or large if you want giant cookies and bake a few minutes longer) and place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.

Side note: The sea salt is optional. The Grunter and I love it. The others are lukewarm about it. The malted milk powder is also optional but we think it adds another subtle layer of flavor that we love. You decide.

*Frozen Cookie Dough Has Changed My Life

Don’t laugh at that. I have frozen cookie dough for years. Usually at holiday baking frenzy time.

What changed my life about freezing it is to scoop out the cookies and freeze into individual cookie balls first and putting in ziploc freezer bag.


Shut up. I’m slow but when I learn something worth sharing, I share!

The prep time is totally worth it. Having bags in the freezer with cookie dough is great for all of us.

Baking just a dozen hot, fresh, homemade cookies after dinner is perfect. Really, is there a bad time to bake a dozen cookies?

Recipe inspiration came from a variety of sources. Look how this blog inspiration circle of life thing works:

My Baking Addiction inspired me to try the New York Times cookies AND led me to…
Goodlife Eats who taught me how to freeze cookie dough the right way and…
Leigh Anne inspired me to add pretzels and caramels to a batch of dough because she was inspired by…
The Diary of Dave’s Wife even though we all used different chocolate chip cookie base recipes.

Let me know if you make them. Or share your recipe if you have one that rivals this one.

These are the ones I put in the college care packages and I didn’t hear any complaints except from my family who squealed “Don’t send them all to other people!”

Which is why I’ve made two more batches.

And now I’m on to my pumpkin obsession…


Reflections on a “Normal” Weekend

I’m writing this on Sunday evening after a weekend of what we consider to be “normal.”

I am still challenged to define normal because I don’t think it exists.

I know you have all been covered up with TV, magazine and internet stories about that fateful day in our country’s history. Frankly, I don’t think there are ever too many stories or too much coverage. I think we easily forget on a day-to-day basis as we go about our “normal” lives.

This year, more than others, probably because of the decade mark but also because of the age of my kids, we all talked out loud more.

It made me think of Alan Jackson’s powerful song, “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” as discussions were based around remembering where you were the moment you heard the news of the planes hitting the towers.

This weekend we spent a lot of time talking about 9/11. Scary Baby had so many questions after they discussed it in school and she came home and looked back at our 2001 family photo album.

We prayed for those who lost so much. We spent some time reflecting on the last 10 years of our lives.

Ten years ago…

We had a two year-old whose biggest questions were about things like the caterpillar crawling up her arm at my Uncle Jack’s in Indiana.

My daughters and nieces stood still for a quick photo at our annual Kivett family reunion just a week and 2 days before September 11, 2001.

Just 3 days before on September 9, 2001, our oldest pumpkin turned 12. They all attended a private Christian school and wore mom-loved school uniforms.

All the students wrote letters to President Bush in their classes.

His darling twin sisters were ten.

They donated teddy bears with a pink heart attached with their own handwritten note to give to children who had lost someone on that dreadful day.

How could I know that ten years later…

That our now 12-year old precocious 7th grader would be our most challenging 12 year-old we have yet to raise but we are hoping it will come full circle when she takes care of us in the nursing home.

She always has to test out the college sister’s bunk beds when we visit.

How could I know that ten years later…

Our then 12 year-old pumpkin would become a 22 year-old man-child semi-adult…

Who would still let me take a picture of him with his new book bag in his senior year at college at Georgia State?

How could I know that ten years later…

Those darling twins would choose to serve our country.

No one could have told me my teeny tiny baby daughters would become Soldiers.

But this is our new “normal” and in between the dirty pig rooms and me being a “mean mom” and PhilBillPaul being a “nice dad”, I go to bed every single night and count my blessings.

We spent the weekend doing “normal” things and tried to explain to Scary Baby that this is what we all do to prove they didn’t take our “normal” away.

While Elizabeth was at a Military Ball for her unit…

Side note: Fellow married Soldier in her unit, not a date. Only picture I could get from her.

We went up to the North Georgia mountains and met Rachel and friends for lunch.

Jordan and Jenna loved the pancakes.

We admired the girls’ view out their dorm room window.

Someday we know they will appreciate it as much as we do.

The view makes up for (at least a little) the spartan dorm rooms that they live in as cadets.

The cadet military dorms are a far cry from the typical college student who gets to buy new comforters, build lofts, hang wall art and decorate their new home away from home with brightly colored lamps and fun desk accessories.

The choices they have made will serve them well long after they have to sleep on a scratchy green army blanket.

We are proud parents and we need to sing their praises directly to them more than we do.

We spent a beautiful afternoon watching a not so beautiful sport.

Circus baby is the one with the ball as they played Georgia Tech.

We explained to Scary Baby that we would continue to gather and laugh and love and keep on living in our wonderful country. That we would celebrate our freedom and thank those who continue to fight for it every day.

We promised we would never forget.

We haven’t.

I’m never too busy to stop and watch one more poignant short video and hope you aren’t either.

It seems like such a small gesture to sit in a quiet place and reflect.

If you need anymore good reading to help you remember the richness of our lives that we sometimes take for granted, please take the time to read an excerpt from a book worth buying called The Legacy Letters by TuesdaysChildren.org.

I believe that part of remembering and honoring people is to take some time to feel the pain of what others have lost…

Questions for a father lost on 9/11 from Motherlode, a NY Times blog.

I know it makes me more grateful.

Thanks for reading to the end and helping me remember.

Did you and your family do anything special to honor the heroes of 9/11 over the weekend?


Wiener Dog Rehab

Of all the things I could tell you about how we spent our summer here at the Humpfreeze house, I just could not have predicted that dog rehabilitation would be on our schedule.

Our Dudley the Dachshund Rehab Story

Dudley collapsed in late June after a regular run up the stairs to see the darling twins in their bedroom.

Bad dog owner tip #1 ~ Carry your dachshund up and down stairs forever.

PhilBillPaul said his back legs weren’t working. He could not stand. We are aware that dachshunds can have back problems associated with their very short legs and long backs.

The first thing I said to him quietly and privately, “Please tell me we’re on the same page and we’re not going to do that wiener dog wheelchair thing, right?”

He agreed.

Everyone had to work so Roger Leroy was the only one available to take him to the vet. She is not the most compassionate person in the house. She comes by that naturally. Ahem. Not naming names but one of her parents may be like this too.

She was a little irritated that she had to sit with the dog for hours awaiting an x-ray and evaluation. She called me several times with estimates of $500+ dollars for various tests. At that point, it was time to call Dad and have him talk to the vet and keep costs down and get assurance that the dog was not in any pain. Roger Leroy did have to leave him at the vet because she had to go to work.

By the time I got home, Scary Baby was home from a sleepover at a friend’s house and only knew from Roger Leroy that Dudley was at the vet. She was obviously concerned and she and her friend Cloret asked for details. I tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation and told them that we were waiting for more information from the vet.

Scary Baby said brightly, “If he can’t walk and he’s paralyzed, we can get him a doggy wheelchair. The internet has pictures and they can lead happy, productive lives.”

Momma said “We’re not getting a doggy wheelchair.”

Scary Baby said “WHY? He can be happy and it’s like a little wagon or cart…”

Momma said “We don’t have information from the vet so we don’t need to have this discussion right now. Please give Sabu some extra attention since he’s probably very confused about why Dudley isn’t down in the basement with him today.”

She and her friend went down to the lounge to watch a movie.

I consulted with my friend Google and then talked to the vet. The news was not good.

Next I called PhilBillPaul who was driving home from Macon.

And promptly burst into tears.

I cried about the dog, the choices, the outcome, the doggy wheelchair, the money, the well dog who would be traumatized, the children who would be traumatized and why this is the exact reason I did not want dogs,

PhilBillPaul who is a giant dog lover said, “I can’t do this now. I could pull over on the side of the road and bawl but I’m just trying to get home. We’ll figure it out when I get there.”

A little while later, Scary Baby says through my closed bedroom door, “We’re going to take Sabu on a walk and might go down to the neighbor’s house with him.”

Thought that was very sweet and good for the well dog. I carried on until PhilBillPaul and Wizzy got home and they went to vet to pick up Dudley.

They arrived home with Dudley and I had already told all the big kids to be home and help create a quiet night with no extra people at our house.

Side note: Due to time constraints and the ridiculous length of this post, I’m leaving out the screaming fight we had when Roger Leroy announced a friend was on her way over and we told her we weren’t having company with the sick dog and then the friend arrived anyway and they both went upstairs to get Roger Leroy’s stuff because we told her to leave, Sabu went crazy, ran upstairs, peed in Scary Baby’s room and at least 2 of us started crying again.

We were busy setting up his crate with Wizzy’s memory foam pillow that fit perfectly.

We were all very emotional and unsure of what would happen next. The vet recommended a neurological consult which PhilBillPaul scheduled for the next morning.

In walked Scary Baby with two neighborhood friends and they were holding a jar of money. They proudly told us that they had collected money for Dudley and had almost $200 in the jar.

After the friends left, Roger Leroy and I interrogated calmly asked Scary Baby what exactly they said to neighbors about the dog?!

Bad dog owner tip #2 ~ Don’t let your 12 year old hear you crying on the phone about the sick dog.

With some prodding, she confessed “We just said we needed money for a doggy wheelchair for Dudley. And he might need surgery. And I printed this picture to show them.”

Roger Leroy was mortified.

I said “Welcome to my world.”

Did you know there are neurologists for dogs? We didn’t. Treatment options were steroids and 6-8 weeks of immobilization or surgery.

After the neuro consult, we opted for steroid treatment and about 3 other drugs I can’t even remember.

The next day our Wiener Dog Rehab begin in full force.

I went to the store and bought dog pee pads and poster board.

We found great information on IVDD Disc Disease and excellent tips on wiener dog crate rest from other wiener dog lovers on the internet:

  • I cut the long end of an old fleece blanket to make a “butt sling” to help him go to the bathroom outside.
  • We froze chicken broth for ice cube treats because it is full of cartilage-building proteins and amino acids.
  • PhilBillPaul cut the top of the crate so we could lift him in and out more easily.
  • We bought a kiddie pool for water therapy.

We were hopeful but tried to be realistic. We saw slow and steady progress and had two follow-up visits with the vet.

We sent Scary Baby back through the neighborhood with envelopes with a special note attached.

Wasn’t it smart of the girls to keep a list of donors and amounts donated?

After 5 weeks of total crate rest, the vet said we could start introducing him back into his area with Sabu. His prognosis is excellent.

What life lessons have we learned from this wiener dog rehab experience? For me, it just reinforced what I already knew that dogs are expensive and the emotional investment is even more expensive.

Oh, we also all learned one more thing…

Nobody at our house volunteered to learn how to express the dog’s bladder or bowel once I explained to Scary Baby about what would be involved with a doggy wheelchair.

Dudley is our vet’s favorite miracle story.

We are so grateful that he is better.

And that we didn’t have to buy a doggy wheelchair.

Even if he hops a bit like a rabbit.

Guess how much dog neurosurgery costs?

Leave a comment and person who comes closest wins two wiener dogs!

Just kidding. Guess anyway. I think it’s illegal to give away wiener dogs as a prize for a blog contest.



Toddlers and Restaurants

We ate dinner out and watched a couple with tiny girl twins.

One was having a colossal meltdown.

Maybe it was the 10:00 p.m. dinner hour?

Perhaps they didn’t want to be at TGI Friday’s at 10:00 p.m.

Whatever the back story (and I’m not judging if you like to keep your kids up late because we did but mostly at home), one twin was very, very unhappy.

Round 1

Mom dashed off to the parking lot and returned with a bag that we hoped held a magic sippy cup or favorite toy.

Dad held the screaming, bawling twin.

The silverware was up on a ledge safe from little grabby hands.

The food arrived.

Mom got up from the booth.

Dad unwrapped his silverware.

Why does Dad always get to eat first?

Mom walked down the aisle of the restaurant.

That’s when I spied an impish tiny twin heading to the bar.

Mom followed close behind.

I wanted to tell them…


Don’t cave in and make that giant mistake.

NEVER let them walk in the restaurant.

The clear choices are:

  1. I can hold you
  2. You can stay in the high chair
  3. We can go to the car

There is never a choice of let’s walk around the restaurant and I’ll chase you.

Not only is it annoying for other patrons who may have paid a babysitter or actually lived through the early parenting years and were actually enjoying a child-free dinner – it really is a DANGER ZONE.

She was barely 2 feet tall. This means she’s hard to spot with a bustling wait staff carrying hot food.

Round 2

Dad is now following the 2 foot tiny twin around the restaurant.

Awesome blocking moves with his legs while he carries the other twin.

So Mom can eat her cold dinner.

The kid’s face says it all,

“V-I-C-T-O-R-Y. I am the winner of screaming the loudest and ruling the family.”

We laughed remembering the days when one of us had to step out with one of the three tiny Humpfreeze kids.

We patted each other on the back knowing we did not ever let them loose in a restaurant.

Really, we didn’t.

It just was not an option.

The Mom looked frazzled.

The Dad looked tired as he leaned on the corner of the booth behind us.

I remembered kind words that strangers spoke way back then.

I felt it was my turn to return the favor.

I said, “You’re going to make it. Our tiny twin girls just turned 20 last week.”

The Dad smiled.

As the Dad turned and walked away to catch the loose twin, PhilBillPaul whispered to me…

“Should I tell him that this is the easiest it will ever be?”


It Will All Work Out Momma

When I stress about something, especially if it’s related to The Grunter, he loves to chant his mantra.

“It Will All Work Out Momma”

He’s pretty calm and easygoing most of the time. He definitely takes after his father in this department.

The distractions and daily stresses took over towards the end of April and haven’t seem to let up. That led me to barely getting a weekly Typo Tuesday posted. Thanks for hanging with me in my quiet phase. The family would not agree with the previous sentence.


I’m going to play catch up in the coming weeks here on the blog. Mostly because the blog is now our family photo album so I have to continue to tell our stories even if they are not all chronologically perfect. Go me – look at that flexibility. I will also need to high five myself for showing restraint in not writing some of the stories. Saving for the book. Or when I finally start drinking. Hard liquor.

If I were prioritizing the stresses, the following would be…

Stress #1

The Grunter has had a swollen lymph node that he started complaining about a few months ago. I said “Make a doctor’s appointment.”

This is part of the growing up checklist, right?

  1. Make your own doctor’s appointment.
  2. Go to your own doctor’s appointment.
  3. Call Text your mother.

He finally did all three.

#3 really triggered some anxiety…

“He said he didn’t know if it was a tumor or what. They are doing a blood test and then deciding whether I need to go to a specialist. Also I may have had mono last year.”

The swollen lymph nodes were actually from last February when he was really sick with a cold and swollen tonsils. New blood work now confirms he had mono.

This is a kid who has never had a stitch. A cold and/or sore throat is about as sick as he gets.

Next appointment is with a specialist and I attended with him.

I could have gone my whole life without hearing a doctor say…

“We need to rule out lymphoma.”

Three times.

Everett ~ before drugs

This is my way too small tribute to every mother out there who has had to fight the “Big C” battle alongside their children.

Because I know you prayed it would be you and not them.

I can only imagine that there is just one thing worse than battling cancer yourself and that would be having to watch your child battle it.

The good news for us is that our pumpkin is fine. His post-op appointment was last Thursday and the pathology report was all good.

Everett ~ after drugs

“It Will All Work Out Momma”

These words from the baby I was pretty sure would kill me during childbirth. He’s right.

It will all work out. It almost always does. He’s helped me to see that.

And it’s always a milestone when you can embrace a life lesson from one of your own.


One Special Lady

I’ve written about her before.

She was a looker.

As they say back in Indiana. 😉

I wrote about her in 2008…

She’s the only Grandma I’ve ever known as my mom’s mother passed away when I was just six months old…

…Imogene is funny and spunky and I have always loved spending time with her. To get to spend one-on-one time with her is a sheer delight for me.

She got such a kick out of riding in my bright blue VW bug.

In May of 2007, on my way home from the Black Hole, she was exactly what I needed and it was my honor to take her bra shopping (oh, the funny story of that shopping trip) and then to Gray Brothers for her favorite meal.

The next year, I got to go back and spend more time with her and we had dinner once again at Gray Brothers.

So glad I documented our visit here.

…words cannot describe what it meant to me to get to spend the afternoon with her and take her out to dinner.

I convinced her I could pick her up the next day so she could enjoy another meal with 6 of the 7 Kivett siblings who were all gathering at another local cafeteria.

She simply beamed through the whole meal. She loved them all so much.

In January of 2009 on my long road trip to the frozen Midwest tundra, I was so glad I got to visit again. It was such a gift that there was no ice in Indiana because I was able to take her on a car ride back past the farm and we got to visit with my Uncle Jack and Aunt Peggy at their house.

Treasured memories…I could go on and on.

I saw her for what would be the last time with darling twin Wizzy in July last year.

We brought her butterscotch pie from Gray Brothers and when I showed her the picture of her in front of that blue bug that I carry in my wallet, her face lit up.

Then she winked and giggled, “We had some fun, didn’t we?”

She passed away Saturday morning.

She is being buried this morning after 95 vibrant years on earth.

May she rest in peace knowing how much she was loved.


Leading by Example

Remember this?


PhilBillPaul’s girlfriend makeover.


His darling daughter brought this home.

Seems she had connections with PhilBillPaul’s Bike Restoration Shop.

To say I’m sick about this is an understatement.

As if it could get any worse…

Let me state for the record, once again, I did not sign up for this.

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” –Robert Fulghum


Calling All Parents With College Kids

For us, summer really is over.

Because someone here in Georgia decided school should start on August 9th. What the heck? That’s way too early!

Scary Baby has completed her first week of middle school with flying colors. Oops, no first day of school picture because that’s what happens when you are the 4th and lastborn.

While I was away for a long weekend immediately after our beach trip, the darling twins not only got Scary Baby ready for her first day of middle school, they also got themselves ready.


Please understand these darling twins NEVER get ready for anything EARLY.

But when I got home, they proudly shared with me their stacks and piles of things ready to go back to college.

Small stacks…remember they are cadets at a military college and are allowed to have very little in their dorm rooms!

Are those cleaning supplies?


Yes, I’m well aware this means they are more than ready to LEAVE again. I could say this with a lump in my throat. And sometimes I do get choked up.

It seems like they just got home.

The darling twins’ summer was abbreviated since they didn’t get home from Arizona until June 25th. And now they are gone again as they headed back to college this past Sunday.

Mostly, I’m proud they want to leave.

Because it means I’ve done something right in the motherhood category.

Dear fellow moms (and dads),

They are supposed to want to leave. They are supposed to want to be independent. They are supposed to want to show you that you spent 18 years raising them up right so they can survive on their own.

You are supposed to be happy for them. Your job was to prepare them for this. Your job is to celebrate the leaving.

But I won’t lie – in so many ways, the years do fly by. And you find yourself second-guessing yourself. Did you teach them the right things?

I was reminded by a good friend whose son left yesterday that if other parents would have been more encouraging and in her words that it would have been helpful if…

“…people would say something like…”he is going to have a great time” or “this is so exciting” instead of looking at me, asking how I’m going to do “letting go of my first one” and then almost watching if I’m going to burst into tears!!”

Are you reaching out and helping other moms as their children leave? Reminding a mom that her child will be fine and she did a good job is exactly what she needs to hear at a time like this.

This parenting gig is still so tough. Let’s lift each other up!

The Leaving and Letting Go

I think this would be a great place to share any tips or hindsight you have if you have sent or are about to send a child to college.

  • What did you do right?
  • What do you wish you would have done differently?
  • How were the first few weeks after they left home?
  • How was the first semester transition for you and them?
  • What was the best tip another mom gave you?

Share your best tips or lessons learned because I promise you it will help another mom who is facing those same feelings and reading this today.


P.S. I got this text from Roger Leroy tonight just as I was finishing this post:

RL: Having my own room is awesome.

Me: Oh yes it is. I remember it well!! And like u, I had never had my own room…always had to share with my sister Julie.

RL: It’s kinda like living in a little apartment…

There are so many fun things about college and leaving home!



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