18 Things We’ve Learned from Our Brothers

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Ø Top-bunk beds make good diving boards into imaginary swimming pools made of excess pillows and blankets

Ø You cannot ride five stick horses at once

Ø If you splash the bath water hard enough, you can soak the one who’s bathing you

Ø Behind the phone stand in the corner is a good home for baseball bats

Ø Stuffed monkeys like to climb onto ceiling fan blades (and will stay there until they are removed by room cleaners)

Ø It’s not funny when binkies, toys, and important papers get placed in the trash can

Ø No matter how hard you try, you cannot drive away from Dad in a parked car

Ø Quarters are not edible

Ø Bungi-cords are good van toys when strung on the hanger hook with a water bottle on one end

Ø Step stools and/or rocking chairs turned up-side-down and filled with pillows make nice tree stands for hunting, just like Dad’s and Big Sister’s

Ø Supportive poles in the basement are also good places for hunters

Ø A desk lamp on the floor shining into your little sister’s mouth is very similar to the one used by the dentist

Ø Bowls of chocolate pudding are fun to play in

Ø Tractors are no longer called “tractors”; they are now called “brr brrr brrrr”

Ø If you scare your sister bad enough, she will jump three feet in the air before losing all of her limbs (in appearances at least)

Ø Sisters in deep concentration at the piano and/or violin are good targets for scaring

Ø Toy guitars have small holes which are fun to put things in

Ø Live hermit crabs are hard to get out of toy guitars

Note: if you have learned something that you want to add to this list, please do so in the comment section. Thank you!


(Of this site at least)

Smiles from Central NC

This weekend we enjoyed the blessing of having the Stelzl family here once again!! With every visit from friends, I am discovering anew the manifold beauty, richness, and delight of fellowship in Christ!

A couple highlights: practicing music as a ten-person (and three-part) ensemble and then singing two arrangements together in church on Sunday, hiking a beautiful, sometimes thornySmile trail up a mountain at Fires’ Creek, taking a tour of the gun stock plant where Dad works, listening to harmonizing pennywhistle duets and trios, and playing Football Freeze Tag. Wherever we were, though, edifying conversation flowed freely, and it was GLORIOUS! When the weekend was over, we sat down as a family and discussed the ways we had been encouraged by this dear family. A few things that particularly stood out to me were the Stelzl’s passion to share Christ with the world, their heart for discipling others, their servants hearts, and the joy that was manifested in SO many ways. Whether they were clearing the table, about to tag you for the third time in freeze tag,Smile teaching younger ones how to draw, eating chocolate caramel ice cream cake, or relating a story of how God is at work in their church and community, smiles lit the faces everywhere. Joseph Addison was right when he stated: “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. They are but trifles, to be sure, but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” You just can’t help but come away encouraged when you are around someone who faithfully practices this fine art!

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Thank you, Stelzl family!

“Hello” from the Neelys!

Yes, we know, it’s been way too long since we last posted anything… sorry about that. We’ll just have to blame it on the busyness of life – because it has been CRAZY here the past few weeks!! Anyway, we wanted to at least pop in and say “hi”, just so you know that we really haven’t dropped off the face of the earth… not yet, at least. 😉 We still have a good bit going on for a while, so until we have time to post something a little more interesting, here are some clips from a couple of  the songs we recorded a few weeks ago.

Turn the Tide

Patriot’s Honor

God bless you all!!!

Of Laundry and Lyrics

I stood back and eyed the washing machine, already full to capacity, and debated whether it would hold the last few items. Deciding that it probably wouldn’t complain about a little more, I picked up the last couple skirts, crammed them into the machine, and pushed the door shut. After filling the compartment of detergent and starting the wash cycle, I turned around and Sunny and Cocoa at the school desksurveyed the mountains of dirty laundry around me. (Well, at 10:00 at night after a busy week and long day of traveling, it SEEMED like mountains!) Laundry baskets were stacked high with multicolored articles of clothing. Skirts, shirts, and pants were piled on the floor, and hangers seemed to be falling out of every bag I picked up. You could hardly step into the room! I shook my head and chuckled as I calculated the cause of the  mess. Six days worth of clothing for one person is a pretty decent amount; sixHe was trying to concentrate... really... I'm sure he was! ;) days worth for twelve people… that’s seventy-two outfits (seventy-two shirts, seventy-two skirts/pairs of pants, one hundred forty-four socks, etc, etc.)!! That’s as many clothes as one person could wear in two in a half months all piled in our laundry room!!

So you’re probably thinking, “Okay, that’s really cool and everything, but…… why is all that laundry piled up in your laundry room??” Oh yeah. I was just getting to that. 😉

Victoria Sunday night, we returned from our trip to Indianapolis where we recorded our patriotic program. Kathryn tries to reorganize the messBefore I go any further, let me say on behalf of the family, thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who supported us in prayer as we worked on this project! You’ll never know what a blessing and encouragement it was to us to know that we were surrounded by friends and family who were lifting us up before the throne of grace!

Jessi We had a wonderful three days in the studio. Our engineer, Mr. Ben Vawter, was fantastic! His patience was incredible, as over and over again he would stop us to rework a rhythm or fix a pitch. His quick wit and ready humor were also great; after all, laughter is a great way to ward off those potentially stressful moments!! 🙂 We also need to giveAmanda credit to Mom, who was the behind-the-scenes manager – a huge blessing!! Our lunches were delicious, and whenever we had a quick break, she was there with snacks, water, and encouragement. Without her physical and moral support, it would’ve been a lot harder to do the project!

While the whole thing was a lot of work, we also had a lot of fun, and made a lot of memories. 🙂 Over the  course of the three days, we started writing down the Two peas in a pod... humor, anyone?? :-Dfunny little things that were said. Some things were just words that we used as part of our terminology, but which would sound a bit unusual in the “real” world, such as punch, stack, and obble-gobble (a much more fun way of saying “obbligato”). Mr. Vawter had a few oft-repeated phrases which grew to be humorous as we heard them over and over:  I love this expression!Not quite…”; “One more time!”; "Use your pretty voice."; “It’s a little pitchy.”; “I think we have a song!” (YES!! :)) And then, of course, there was the usual chat and banter: Just do it! Correct lyrics there, please. I think we should stack that part. Come on, y’all! Let’s add some sauce. Can we punch it? You’re a little under. Why don’t we just sing the song! (Wow! Imagine doing that!!) It’s a little pitchy. What’s the verdict? Oh, Something was funny...gross!! Enunciate clearly. We might need to back up and punt. What? Where? Huh?? The high part is sharp. Blend!  Your notes are chipping. Let’s punch at the beginning of the obble-gobble. WHAT?! Oops! That’s okay – we know how you meant it to sound. Put your wants aside – do what we NEED!!!

While we thoroughly enjoyed the recording  process, we are also glad to have that part of the project behind us, and now we look forward to getting it completely finished. The Lord has shown His care for so many of our little concerns already – we marvel at seeing His hand working out details in ways that we never imagined! We pray that everything will continue to come together in God’s timing and God’s way, and that everything we do will bring Him glory!

I think we wore him out. The whole team! Discipleship snare drums :) - Berty Discipleship snare drums :) - Belle Discipleship engineering! Kathryn runs the controls while Mr. Vawter "lays down" the two snare drum parts for usMr. Vawter was quite a popular person!All in a day's work! :) Mom and Berty :) Dad records one of our favorite parts!

News from the Studio!

Here we are, in Indianapolis… two days down and one to go…

Recording our patriotic program at Aire Born Studios has been a lot of fun, even with all the “bloopers” and sleepy sillies! 😀 Here are a few pictures for those of you who might wonder what’s been happening. (We will try to post more details later… but for now, we need some sleep. :):)  Also, please keep in mind that it’s a little difficult to get good quality photos or videos through double panes of glass… :)) If you think of it, we would appreciate your prayers as we wrap up the recording tomorrow.

Our wonderful dad with our wonderful engineer, Mr. Ben VawterWow!Mom and Titus listen in on the recording, while Titus enjoys a snack

Laying down a piano part... Laying one of the violin parts...IMG_6807

More violin Kathryn Jessi The younger ones enjoy playing Legos while the older ones record...

...and sometimes they convince other people to join them! (This man happens to be Mike Wilson, the owner of Aire Born; they thought he was GREAT! ;) )Some of us didn't get sleepy SILLIES; we just went to SLEEP! :) IMG_6805IMG_6847

Victoria AmandaTitus loves all the fun and games... not to mention the snacks! :)

Our engineer is so patient! One of our favorite "one-liners" of his is, "One more time!"   IMG_6792Dad lays his script for a very special part of the program

To My Savior, God, and King

Jesus, my Savior, my God, my King,

I surrender everything.

Take my life, my heart, my all,

And on thee I’ll always call.

Hear me, Lord, and use me now

And before thee in heaven I’ll ever bow.

Send me always where you will

And I’ll forever follow still.

Deliver me from mine enemy swift,

And in Thine loving arms me lift.

Always, Gentle Shepherd, keep

Me ever from those waters deep.

All to Thee, my Savior, Friend,

Keep me always to the end.

And when I take my final breath,

Lead me through the vale of death.

I know the gentle life you gave

Has kept me from a wretched grave.

When hanging on that cross you died,

Your love for me was testified.

Rose of Sharon, blooming flow’r

Saved me with His matchless pow’r.

This Little Light of Mine

Just recently, some dear friends facetiously told us that our blog is their only entertainment! If that was really the case, we would think they were very deprived! However, for their sakes, we decided that we should post some more “entertaining” things!! 😀 🙂 This video was taken a few months ago…

End note: What a blessing it is that my younger siblings love to sing together – I love it when they play “church”!!! 🙂

NASCAR Hall of Fame

This last week, at the generous invitation of a business colleague of Daddy’s (as well as a family friend!), Mr. Glen Traylor, we were able to take a trip to Charlotte, NC, for the annual IMG_5886 dinner held by Illinois Tool Works (ITW). This year it was held in none other place than the NASCAR Hall of Fame! The whole place was amazing, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there, even getting to “race” in the simulators. 🙂 The main room, where the actual dinner was held, was uniquely fringed by a short track lined with full-sized models of the numerous types of cars that have raced throughout the years. Beneath each model was a square sample of the type of pavement the tracksNASCAR was actually started by competitive bootleggers racing from the law. are/were made from, details for where that particular track was/is located, as well as the slant of that track. (We actually stood – or attempted to stand 🙂 – on the “current” slope that racers are using, which was a tilt of 36 degrees! Sounds pretty easy, but was kind-of painful on the ankles!) As I sat in that gigantic hall, though, and I contemplated the situation we were in, and tried in vain to “soak it all up,” – for, after all, it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience – the thought fleeted across my mind that none of this, in light of eternity, really matters. How easy it is for us The "marker-mobile" to lose sight of our goal and become consumed with things that are temporal! The question comes to mind: If I were faced with the choice today, would I choose to have my name remembered and glorified in this Hall of Fame because I gave my life, my very all, for a sport that’s as neat as racing, or to  have my Creator’s Name magnified and exalted because, by His matchless grace, my name was among that “great cloud of witnesses,” – and present in the Going to the parts store“Hall of  Faith”?? What would YOU choose?

The opportunity to visit NASCAR is something we will probably never forget! It was a ton of FUN, and we are all incredibly grateful for the opportunity and privilege of attending. Thank you, Mr. Traylor!

Standing on the slope wasn't easy!Simulator partners...Driving them was SOOOO fun!

Can't wait...So sweet!About to go in the gate to take the ride of their lives!

IMG_5845We're sorta partial to Mountain Dew :)  Mountain Dew going and coming!

Waiting for the drawing of the prizes... Victoria actually won a videa camera!This is not fake. We really do love each other!We do too!

After dinner, we had to race back to our hotel in the pouring rain... by the way, this was downtown Charlotte... LIFE IS SUCH AN ADVENTURE!!! Titus thought all that water in his face was really cool!The rain messed up some of our hairdo's... :):):)

But today, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God…” (Colossians 3:1-3)

Cool car! :):):):):):)

Easy Chicken Quesadillas

“Oh no! Dad’s on his way home, and we don’t have supper started yet!!!”

Although we TRY to keep our menu planned in advance and meals prepared in plenty of time, these words do ring through our house occasionally – normally on days when we’ve been exceptionally busy with school or other projects, such as spring cleaning, produce-preserving, etc. Dad’s commute from work is only about fifteen minutes, so that doesn’t leave much time for food prep, much less checking the pantry to see if we even have all the ingredients! So when a situation like this occurs, what can we do???

For times like this, it’s always good to have a backup plan – easy meals that use staple foods from your pantry.

I’m sure that you have certain “staple” foods at your house – things that you generally always have in the pantry or freezer. Yours are probably different from ours, and ours are different from the next person’s. At our home, we almost ALWAYS have grits, sugar, eggs, cheddar cheese, salt, peanut butter, and “baby” carrots. We also keep milk and flour and pasta, green beans, salsa, and applesauce. Furthermore (for those of you who want to know what REALLY makes the Neelys panic), it is an officially declared State of Emergency when we use up the last of the chocolate chips!!! (Hmmm……maybe I shouldn’t have just admitted that……)

Anyway, back to my point…

Keep a mental (or if you’re more organized, a written) list of “backup meals” – those things that you keep the ingredients for and can efficiently pull out of your barns and storehouses for a quick and delicious repast. We have a few of those, one of which I’m going to share here. It only has three main ingredients – the sauce has a few more – and these items are all staple foods at our house, making this recipe great for a quick fix. (I think it was actually developed on one of those rushed-prep nights…)

Easy Chicken Quesadillas

10 10” flour tortillas

4 c. chopped or shredded cooked chicken*

4 c. grated cheddar cheese

   Hot sauce:** (I invented this while trying to copy a restaurant sauce that I like. I was unsuccessful at duplication, but our people love it anyway!)

3/4 c. sour cream

2 T. salsa

1 t. hot sauce (like Tabasco or Texas Pete)

1/4 t. red pepper

1/4 t. salt (optional)

Lay out five tortillas on baking trays. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of chicken on each tortilla, then sprinkle 3/4 cup of cheese on top of the chicken. (Use all the chicken and cheese.) Mix together all hot sauce ingredients; spread the remaining tortillas with sauce (as much or as little as you prefer). Place each tortilla, sauce side down, on chicken tortillas. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden and cheese is melted. Cut and serve with sour cream, salsa, and remaining hot sauce. Enjoy!

 Just the chicken... Add some cheese... Mmmm! Ready to cut!

*Anytime we are cooking chicken in any form – grilled, boiled, baked, etc. – we try to make some extra. Then we chop the leftovers and freeze them in plastic bags, ready for spur-of-the-moment meals like this one. It is also extremely handy for recipes that only call for “1/2 cup of cooked chicken” or some other small increment.

**This makes a mildly hot sauce which our whole family enjoys. You can adjust the amounts of pepper or Tabasco sauce to suit your taste. It also makes a good dip for tortilla chips.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Imagine the tantalizing, inviting aroma of down-home country cooking…

… the sweet, buttery taste of warm cinnamon rolls…

… and the cool, creamy refreshment of homemade strawberry shortcake!

Then put the delicious food together with a clean, inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, and impeccable service. There! You have it in a nutshell:

Mary Mac’s Tea Room.

What you'd see from the street Located in downtown Atlanta, GA, Mary Mac’s Tea Room was started in 1945 by Mary McKenzie in the rough days of the post-WWII era. She operated the restaurant until the early 1960’s, when a lady by the name of Margaret Lupo bought it and began to expand the business. By the time Margaret’s hand-picked successor, John Ferrell, took over in 1994, Mary Mac’s was the only one of at least sixteen other tea rooms remaining in downtown Atlanta.The side of the building

Titus couldn't wait to dig in!!! We had the privilege of visiting Mary Mac’s last week, and enjoyed it immensely. The food was delicious; the pictures we took can’t possibly do it justice! One of their specialties is the sweet rolls – soft, buttery, filled with cinnamon and sugar, and hot out of the oven!  We also loved the chicken’n’dumplings, pot likker and cracklin’ cornbread,* fried okra, and sweet potato souffle! Everything we were served was delicious – just like a big homemade dinner!!

The service was also wonderful. We had a great waiter who made sure we were well cared for, and several other members of the staff came around to greet us. But one of the best – and most unique! – things about Mary Mac’s is their Goodwill Ambassador – a sweet, grandmotherly lady who walks around the"Would you like some peach cobbler?" restaurant, chatting with customers, and giving each guest a back-rub!! What a way to enhance a meal! Of course, Dad loved it… and I think he got two or three back-rubs throughout the course of our visit. 😉

We would highly recommend if you’re ever traveling through the Atlanta area that you stop in and pay them a visit. Or if you live in the area, you have even better reason to check it out – we’re sure you won’t be sorry! 🙂 You can get on their website and take a look at the menu before-hand… which might be a smart  idea. Since it’s full of mouthwatering options to choose from, you’ll be Jo is the Goodwill Ambassador at left and Mechie, our waiter is at the end of the table :)thankful if you walk in with some idea of what you want! Then you can just relax and enjoy……… 🙂

We had a fantastic evening at Mary Mac’s Tea Room! They treated us like family and gave us a true taste of genuine Southern hospitality! Thank you, Mary Mac’s!!

*Just for those of you who don’t know what pot likker is: it’s the broth off of boiled peas or greens. This was from turnip greens and was fantastic! Most of us didn’t even know what it was when we went into the restaurant, but we came out better educated and definitely looking forward to the next time we could enjoy this southern delicacy. If you’ve never had it, it is a must-try!!

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