Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fool's Day Gone Awry

Trammell just went to his Social Psychology class.
His teacher was so excited to greet the class and was laughing her head off.

"I do not want to offend!  But when I left the house this morning, I leaned over my sleeping husband and gave him a kiss and said, 'I'm a lesbian and I'm leaving.'"

The class just sat there in stunned silence.

"Isn't that awesome?" the teacher laughed.  "Isn't that the best April Fool's joke ever?"

One student finally spoke up, "Uhhh......Sister Yamawaki, it's NOT April Fool's Day.  It's March 31st."

She looked at the class in horror.
"Oh.......that must be why I haven't heard from him yet."

She'll need to come up with something better for tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dipping One Toe In

I'm going to try to ease back into the blogging world.
I thought about linking up with A Wee Bit of Me Wednesday, but that was too hard, a little too overwhelming and it just didn't feel right.
I'm not sure what feels right.
So, bear with me as I share or don't share.

I would post pictures of the family and the beach and all of that............
but I'm exhausted and just can't go find the camera, much less download and upload pictures.
So.......another day.

Speaking of "days."
My goal for today is to figure out what month and day it is and get my head wrapped around that.
Don't laugh.
It's a worthwhile goal!

I also need to sit down and write thank you notes...........
and throw away all the dead flowers........
and unpack the suitcases.........
and I have a lot to say.

I'll wait until my head clears a little.
Thanks friends!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keep the Ice Cream and Cupcakes Coming!

A huge thank you to all of you blog friends who have been such a huge support with all of your kind, kind comments.  I appreciate every word!
And let's thank Keely over at The Un Mom for letting it be Tuesday - the day of all RaNDoMNeSS

* I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing my entire extended family this weekend.
No, the circumstances are not the best, but there is nothing quite like being with family.  It will be awesome!
We just need to be together to laugh and to cry and to be with each other!

* I have seen the hand of God lift and support all of us this last week ( hasn't been a week?  Well, it feels like century to me.)  I don't think I can list all of the tender mercies and miracles.  My heart has been made lighter!

* If you are visiting and wondering what the heck I am babbling about, you can read about it and catch up!

* I'm pretty sure I am losing my mind.
I am calling everyone the wrong name.
After spending 4 hours online on Saturday getting flights for the five of us,
I told Brian that I had found a flight for Justin.
He looked at me like I was crazy.
"Ummm.........Justin doesn't need a flight."
"Oh right.  I meant Garrett."

I have called all my brothers and children by the wrong name every time I address them and it's usually "Justin" and it takes me three tries to get the right name or I just give up and say, "You who I mean!"

* It may have been Brian and it may have been me, but someone said:
"Yeah, we'll figure that out as soon as they do the biopsy on Justin and the autopsy on Mom."
First we looked at each other in shock and then we laughed our heads off at THAT mix up.
Sorry, Mom!  Please don't take it personally!
Like I said, our minds aren't really clear.

* Bluebell ice cream, cake, cookies and cupcakes have been my constant companions.

* I am usually down on the field with the team during the lacrosse games.
Thursday I was in the stands with the crowd.
THAT will probably not happen again.
I'm quiet on the field.
I am not on the stands.
Parker drew (meaning some big brute laid my tiny innocent baby out illegally) 5 minutes worth of penalties.
While the other team was "Man down" with a player in the penalty box, our team was able to score 5 goals.
One time, a long pole defense man had his stick across Parker's neck and up in his helmet. <- Illegal in case you aren't familiar with lacrosse.  2 minutes worth of illegal.
The ref was slow to pull out his yellow flag and somewhere in the stands this tiny person with a super loud voice stood up and yelled: "REALLY?  REALLY?  You better call that!!!!"

He did.
And then the announcer in the press box came over the loud speaker and said, "We want to remind all fans to show good sportsmanship....blah, blah, blah."

I don't know who he was talking to! ;)
Probably the parent on the other side who yelled, "Break his ankle."

* Parker scored 2 goals and had 2 assists at yesterday's game. So there!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Work Avoidance!

I'll do anything to avoid writing the obituary!
That is my job this morning.

But while I am stalling, I will share some pics with you.
 Justin at about 2 years old.
Jared & Justin........brothers, but more importantly, best friends!

Justin & Cousin Jonnie

Justin & Jared and their busses

Jared & Justin at cousin Amanda's wedding

Justin & Jared taking all dignity away from the wedding. ;)

Justin and Stephanie and their sweet boys!

What a full and wonderful life!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dear Justin -

Dear Justin -

One August morning, a long, long time ago, Dad came into my bedroom and woke me up.
"I'm taking Mom to the hospital," he said.
"Why?" I asked with my head in a fog.
"Mom's having the baby!"
Finally!  She was sooo overdue!

It was a drizzly, cloudy day but I could only feel sunshine and excitement.
I was SO excited for you to get here.

From the time Mom brought you home from the hospital, you were my baby.
You were like my own real-life baby doll.
I had never loved anything as much in my 12 year old life (except maybe Jared).
I loved you so much my heart hurt!

When I was at school, I thought about you all day!
I would hurry home from school and sneak up the stairs and get you up from your nap.
Mom would be so irritated that I woke you up, but I would insist that you were already awake.

The neighbors had a baby girl the same age as you.
I would borrow her clothes and dress you up in frilly dresses.
Even with a lacy bonnet, you were the ugliest baby girl ever!
But I still thought you were the cutest thing in the whole world.

Oh I wish I could go back and relive those moments.
There is nothing as wonderful and beautiful and full of love as family.
I still love you but now I miss you so much my heart hurts!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not Enough Word, Tears or Time

I was hoping to wake up today and find out that yesterday NEVER happened and today was Wednesday, March 16th.

Yesterday morning, Brian called me to say that my 35 year old brother, Justin, died.
Maybe I am naive, but I have NEVER once considered what would happen if one of my siblings died.  Never.  You don't think about those things.  You think about your childhood and you think about sitting around the kitchen table laughing when you are all adults and then when you are 45 and 55 and 65 and all have grandchildren and it never occurs to you that someone might be missing.

They (who is they?) think he died of a massive heart attack or a pulmonary embolism.  There will be an autopsy today.  My brother, Jared will sit in on the autopsy via Skype

Justin, Justin, Justin............
I'm afraid to write too much because the floodgates will open and I'm not sure that they can be closed.
I WILL write about him eventually.
Because there is so much to say and I loved him so, so much.  And some of you will know that I loved him almost like my own child and that even though he and Jared are 35 and 37 and 6'2", I called them "the babies."

He leaves behind his wife, Stephanie who is pregnant and due in August, 5 year old twins and a soon to be 3 year old.
Brian called me at 8:40.
He asked me to get in touch with my parents in Rome.
By 8:55, my dad was on the phone.

"Gina...........uh talked to Jared."
"Oh. Did you talk to Jenner?"
I was confused.
He was confused.
There is no way my other brothers could have called him before now.
He was talking.
What was he talking about?
"Dad...........Justin's dead."
He responded the EXACT same way I did.
"Justin's dead?  Nooooo!  Noooo!  Noooo!  Noooo!"
We talked and I shared what little I knew.
We cried.
My mom couldn't come to the phone.
She was to overwrought.
I don't blame her.

And then my dad went on.........
"I thought you were calling because you had talked Jared.
Jared was supposed to call everyone today and let everyone know that Mom has been diagnosed with cancer and we were supposed to come home from our mission next week."

Wait. What?  I don't remember everything that was said.
I remember hours later thinking that maybe he said that they "thought" Mom had cancer or it "looks" like she had cancer and they were coming home to get diagnosed.

No. I talked to Jared and he gave us all the detail.
It's March 17th.
My brother is dead and my mom has cancer.

I am wearing waterproof mascara today.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wee Bit Of Me Wednesday

After a cruel lacrosse loss last night, I'm looking to move on!
Leigh over at My Leigh Ashley is assuaging my pain with her "Wee Bit of Me Wednesday."
Do you need a distraction?
Head on over and say hello, pick up the questions and blog away!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I'm sorry.
As I was typing, I got a phone call.
A family emergency.
My world has been turned upside down.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back in the Day - Nostalgic Memories

All Hail Keely!  All Hail The UnMom!
Without her, we'd have to be coherent and deliver up a REAL blog post.
Instead, we get to serve up bits and pieces of RaNDoMNeSS!
Who doesn't love RaNDoM THouGHT TueSDaY?

* It's lacrosse season!
The REAL craziness begins.
But I realized that my craziness has been cut significantly. 
Three years ago, I had three players and approximately 7 games a week. 
Last year I had two players and went to 5 games a week. 
Now, I can just lounge around.  Parker only has 2-3 games a week. 
What will I do with ALL of that free time?

*We had a special church meeting this weekend.
Parker and I drove to the church building where we attended when the kids were little.
It was like a TRIP down memory lane.

Parker: "Remember how the minute we would get in the car after church, we would start undressing?"
Me: "You did?"
Parker: "Yeah.  We'd undo our ties and start unbuttoning our shirts.  By the time we got home, we'd just be sitting in the back seat in our t-shirts and boxers."
Me: "I don't remember that.  How old were you?"
Parker: "You don't remember?  I was 4. EVERY week you would say, 'Now hang your church clothes up!  Don't just throw them on your floor in a ball.' "

For the record, I don't think they EVER hung the church clothes up.

*I remember that I would always ask the kids what they learned in church that day.
Garrett always had gems.
Me: "Garrett, what did you learn in church today?"
Garrett: "I learned..........what I learned."

*Me: "Garrett, what did you learn in church today?"
Garrett: "About Jesus."
It took me about six weeks to figure out that he was playing me and always answered "about Jesus."
Finally I asked, "What ABOUT Jesus?"

*Me: "Garrett, what did you learn about in church today?"
Garrett: "Oh we learned about the Holy Ghost and how he has a still small voice and can comfort you and help you make decisions."
WOW!  Pretty good for a 5 year old.

A couple of hours later, I thought we would have a review at the dinner know, to cement those concepts in.
Me: "Garrett:,what did you learn about in church today?"
Garrett: "About the Holy Ghost.  He has a cape and flies around."
Forget cementing anything in.

Those were the days!

* Yesterday was Pi day.
In celebration, we had homemade pizza.
Mine had pesto, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni and sauteed mushrooms and onions.

* Do you think I'm a girly girl?
My dishwashing gloves
NO ONE is allowed to use that spatula but me.
Would anyone else REALLY want to?

For the record, *I* didn't buy that stuff!  The boys gave them to me! REALLY!

* Another conversation -
Parker: "I can't wait until Easter."
Me: "Why?"
Parker: "I'm really looking forward to doing the Easter egg hunt all by myself."
Me: "Easter is late this year.  Garrett will be home from college."
Parker: "What?  I wanted to get everything.  I wanted to have it all to myself without the competition!"
Me: "You get the same amount. What do you care?"
Parker: "No.  I was planning on me being the only one hunting but you still hiding TWO chocolate bunnies, TWO Chipotle cards, TWO eggs with money in them....."
Me: "Why would I hide two if you were the only one there?"
Parker: "I don't know.  That's just what I was planning on."

Is he 16 or 3?

Well, I'm off to the lacrosse store to get a pecan bar from the Corner Bakery the team shorts.
Have a great TueSDaY!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Angel VS Demon

Remember when I babysat my favorite 2 year old last Monday?

I had to take him with me to a board meeting at a restaurant.
It was a legitimate meeting that I could not blow off or  just get up and leave if ANGEL FACE decided he'd had enough.

So I prepped him.
Before we left,
I told him where we were going and that I expected him to be good.
I defined "good" for him.
"You're going to sit in your chair and eat chicken and lettuce.  You aren't going to get down and run around."
He sat solemnly in his car seat as I reviewed the expectations and what good looked like.

He was positively PERFECT!
He sat in his high chair and ate chicken fingers and salad.
He looked at books and drew on the financials....
for an HOUR and A HALF!

Okay - so I admit that half way through lunch when I offered him the kiddy cup with water, he said, "No. Coke." and I gave it to him.
Also, because he had eaten his entire lunch, I did give him bites of apple pie and ice cream.
But seriously - 90 minutes of sitting quietly and eating, drawing and reading!

Later, I checked in with his sister to see how the night had gone.
"He was a DEMON!" she proclaimed.
"No!  What happened?"
Evidently, they went to dinner at another family's house and within FIVE minutes of their arrival, he managed to locate a Blue Sharpie and draw all over a wall and HIS FACE.
(This is the next day....after a bath and a shower)
Still, isn't he the cutest DEMON you have ever seen?
I asked him, "Do we color on our faces with marker?'
Innocently: "Yes."
"No, we don't color on our faces.  That is naughty!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

52 Weeks of CRaZY Crock Potting

Happy almost St. Patrick's Day!  We're not Irish and we don't care much about the wearing-o-the-green, but we will never pass up the opportunity for Corned Beef and Cabbage!  My kids beg for this and we probably have it two or three times a year.

For a crock pot recipe, you can't get much easier that this!


1 (3 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet, cut in half

1 medium onion, cut into wedges
4-5 small red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 or 1/4
1 pound baby carrots
2 stalks of celery, quartered
3 cups water
1 small head cabbage, cut into wedges

Open the corned beef and set it in the bottom of the Crock Pot.  Do NOT rinse it.  Some recipes call for you to rinse it.  Don't.   If your corned beef came with a small packet of seasoning, open it and sprinkle on top of the corned beef.  Place the onion, potatoes, carrots and celery on top of the corned.  Top with the cabbage wedges.  The crock pot will be quite full.  Squeeze as much as you can in.  Pour the water on top. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.

I usually buy my corned beef from Costco....whatever brand they are carrying that year.

You want it to have some nice marbling but NOT layers and layers of fat.
For whatever reason, this year, the corned beef came with the season already spread on the corned beef.  But some manufacturers jus slap the meat in a package and include the seasonings separately. It will usually look like this -
Once you've put your corned beef in the Crock Pot, just opening the seasonings and sprinkle them on top.

HOT TIP: If you don't like your house to smell like cooked cabbage, place your crock pot on a small table on the back porch or in the garage.......but come on, the smell is just for one day!

Oh...and if you are a college student without a crock pot, you can make this by putting the meat in a pot on the stove, covering it with water and simmering for 2 hours, then adding the vegetables (except for the cabbage) and simmering another 50 minutes and then adding the cabbage for an additional 10-15 minutes....or ask your mom to make it again when you get home.

When finished, we scoop out the vegetables and slice the meat across the grain.  Serve with mustard along side.  Yummmmm!


Friday, March 11, 2011

LOVE & Not So Much!

Ahhh.............the Weekend!
I love Friday!
What's not to like?
Plus as an added bonus, Mrs. 4444 pulls out all the stops and lets us invade Half Past Kissin' Time and spill our FRAGMENTS
Join in!  You'll LOVE it.

This week has been ODD.
Because of statewide testing, Parker did not have school Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
I LOVE when there is no school.  I thought I would get some extra sleep and get a lot done.  Not so much!Have you ever noticed how things don't ALWAYS go as planned?

But besides making me exhausted, the week of no sleep also helped me appreciate the little things around me.


When the house is clean
Hearing an owl hoot ouside my bedroom window at night
Finding money in pants pockets
A freshly washed car
Getting in my bed early and reading a book - with a plate of snacks
When my kids are happy
Fridays and the anticipation of the weekend
Watching lacrosse
Blue skies and sun
Pecan Bars and Blonde Brownies
Trips to Costco
Empty dirty clothes baskets


Putting away seasonal decorations
Hearing a woodpecker peck through the stucco outside my bedroom window
Having the weekend totally booked
Putting away what I bought at Costco
The price of gas
Doing laundry

I'm counting it a GREAT day if the "Loves" outweigh the "Not So Muchs"

Have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Sometimes I feel like I am taking CRaZY Pills!  But someone's - two someone's got me beat this week!

The news has been full of "dueling crazies" the last couple of weeks.
I'm seriously not sure who is more delusional -

Charlie                       or Moammar.

You are probably so sick of hearing about these two and their antics,
you've turned off the TV.
Let's test your knowledge of CRaZY!

Who said the following?
1) "I'm a warrior and this is my battlefield!"

2) "All my people love me!"

3) "I'm on a quest to claim absolute vistory on every front."

4) "I have defeated this earthworm with my words - imagine what I would have done with my firebreathing fists."

5) "America is not the international police of the world."

6) "Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body."

7) "These resentments, they are the rocket fuel that lives at the tip of my sabre."

We should give these two MORE air time...oh and more power!

1) Sheen  2) Khadafy  3) Sheen  4) Sheen  5) Khadafy  6) Sheen  7) Sheen

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wee Bit of Me Wednesday

Let's all go over to Leigh Ashley's and see what questions she has for us today.  You know you want to play along!

{one} what color is your kitchen?
My kitchen has been sage green for a long time.  It also has some yellow. I feel like I need to change it but I like it, so I'm not.

{two} do you have a good luck charm?
I don't.  When the kids were little, we used to say that Garrett was our good luck charm because whenever I was running errands and he was in the car, we would find a parking spot right up front.

{three} do you prefer to write with a pen or pencil?
Pen - ALWAYS.  I cannot stand the feel of pencil on paper.  Yuck!  I even write on my calendar in pen.  I will never "pencil" you in!

{four} can you use chopsticks?
Sadly, I am inept.
My kids are pros!!!!
They can eat the whole meal (and prefer to) with chopsticks!

{five} do you prefer baths or showers?
Showers!  I cannot remember the last time I took a bath.  Showers for sure!

{six} what is your favorite salad dressing?
If it's just a regular garden salad, then I will always choose Blue Cheese!

{seven} can you sing the alphabet backwards?
I've never tried.  Let's see.  Evidently not....since I started with X Y Z.

{eight} do you have any allergies?
Not that I acknowledge.
Wait!  I am allergic to Tylenol and almost all narcotics - Percocet, Vicodin, Codeine
I won't be turning to drugs anytime real soon.

{nine} crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

{ten} have you ever hitch hiked?
Never.  Ever.
Well, now tell us about yourself!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Panic, Be Nasty, or Vote but ROCK ON!

HOORAY for Tuesday!
It's the day we get all RaNDoM.
Well, every day is RaNDoM around here, it's just that's more acceptable on Tuesday.
Are you feeling RaNDoM?  Go on over to The Un Mom  and see Keely.
She'll let you play along!

* Yesterday I babysat my favorite two year old!
Sorry, picture quality is awful..consider who took the picture!
Anyway - he's pure angel!
Plus I taught him to say "Rock On!"

* Trammell, Garrett and Parker have all participated in student government, leadership, student council - whatever you want to call it.
The procedure at the high school is kind of random.
But part of it involves posting a giant poster with pictures of the candidates from each class and a 50 word "personal statement."
The freshmen always fill their 50 words with platitudes and explanations of how they will change the school.
By the time they are seniors, they are sick of writing 50 nonsensical words and just go for the absurd.
The seniors 50 words frequently include quotes from Zoolander or Anchorman.

Here is Parker's:
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer waht oredr the ltteers are in, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae and you can raed it wouthit porbelm.

But if research is wrong, I’ll make it clear: VOTE FOR PARKER!


* I received this text from Garrett:
"Art history consisted of about 70 multiple choice questions.  Some required analysis of artwork....
100% for G-Muny!"

I responded with congratulations and told him how proud I am of his hard work in college.

He responded, "Thas how we do!"
Obviously that 100 was not in English

* Today, March 8th is "Be Nasty Day."
You know what?  We're not even going to go there.
Just let it go.

* Tomorrow is "Panic Day."
I wish "they" would tell us what to panic about.

* March 10th is "Middle Name Pride Day."
Since Trammell, Garrett and Parker actually go by their middle names, I would say that Middle Name Pride Day is everyday around here.

* I'll tell you what we ARE celebrating this week!
Statewide Achievement Testing!

I hate these tests.
But we're celebrating because Juniors and Seniors don't have to take them so Parker has THREE glorious days off of school.  He is burrowed in the "man cave" right now and I don't expect him to come out and look for his shadow Chinese food until noon.

Enjoy YOUR Tuesday!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Girls VS. Boys

If you've hung out here very long,
you know that this is a "Boy House!"

We're definitely short on body spray, skirts, head bands, lace and whining <- well, I provide my fair share.

But here's another difference, I noticed.
The other day, I bought Parker a "treat."
Already there are differences.
If I was buying a girl a treat, it would be some new lip gloss or perfume or flowery headbands.
But I bought Parker these -
lacrosse shorts

I wanted to get the spare key, drive to the school and leave them on the front seat of his car with this note:
"Burn the Defense!
Light the Goalie up!
Have a great practice!
We love you,
Mom & Dad"

And at the end of the day, Parker would return home all smelly and bruised with the muddy shorts.

Versus the note to a girl -
"I saw this pink (whatever) and thought of you!
It will go perfectly with your cute sweater with the roses on it.
You are a beautiful daughter and we really appreciate your help around the house and your cheerful smile!
We love you!
Mommy & Daddy"

I like "KILL EM!" so much better!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

BONUS! Blonde Brownie Recipe

This is a yummy, yummy recipe that's super easy!
Martha Stewart published the original in 2007.
We double the recipe because what is better than 1/2 C Butter?  1CUP OF BUTTER!

Ingredients -
1 C (2 sticks) Butter, melted, plus more for pan <- Don't even think of substituting anything for the butter.  If you do, you will die!
1 C Brown Sugar, packed
2/3 C Granulated Sugar
2 large Eggs
2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
2 C Flour
2 tsp Salt
2 C semisweet chocolate chips (I don't use 2 cups because we don't really like chocolate here.  I use about 1 cup)
2 C Walnuts, chopped (I don't measure.  But I think I use about a cup)

Directions -
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 9X13 baking pan with butter; line pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper.
2.In a large bowl, whisk butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 of the chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.
3.Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 minutes in my oven, although the recipe calls for 40-45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares. <- Don't do all that!  What a waste of time.  Just cut them in the pan.  And you don't need to wait for them to cool.  Who waits for things to cool????
Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

52 Weeks of Crazy Crock Potting

First - Special thanks to Margaret over at Facts From a Fact Woman for making me this cute little picture.  I came home from church last week and it was just sitting there waiting for me in my mailbox!  Is that a good friend or what?

For much of the country, March came in like Lion.  Here in Denver we are having the loveliest of weeks. It does that here.  The week before the lacrosse season starts is usually beautiful.  It's been 65 degrees and sunny all week.  Then, just in time for the very first game, the wind blows, the temps drop to the 40's and the snow and sleet start up.  So although it's been beautiful, I guarantee that next week will bring freezation!

March, is actually one of Denver's wettest months with 12 inches of snow/rain expected.

So here is a warm and cozy recipe to come home to after a long day.

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients -
1 ½ lb Stew Meat
1/4 C Flour
Salt & Pepper
2 T Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 Beef Bouillon Cubes, dissolved 2 in 1 C Hot Water
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
6 oz Mushrooms, sliced (I prefer fresh)
2 T Ketchup
1 t Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of Pepper
8 oz Sour Cream

Directions -
Mix Flour and Salt & Pepper together in a lunch bag.  You can use a plastic bag as well.
I like to add a couple shakes of Montreal Steak Seasoning to the mixture.
Working in batches, throw some meat in and shake it up to coat.
Heat the Olive Oil up in a skillet over medium heat.
Brown the meat on all sides.
Pour the meat into the crock pot.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the sour cream.
Just throw them in and give it a couple of stirs...don't worry about getting everything all mixed in.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. sour cream.
Just before serving, stir in sour cream
Serve over rice or noodles.

Our family prefers rice.  I don't think I've ever served it over noodles.