Monday, December 29, 2008

We survived Christmas and an Indoor Water Park all in one week.

Christmas was wonderful. Loud. Crazy. Joyful. Peaceful, yet hectic!

We worshiped together as a family on Christmas Eve. Celebrated with family on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Finally, on the day after Christmas, had to reorganize kids rooms to fit in all the new stuff. I will say the advantage to bigger kids is that their stuff is smaller (read more expensive for less gifts) and it normally does not require set up of 1000 pieces like the Playmobil Castle our son got on his 6th Christmas.

American Girl Dolls have been busy around here this week now that A has her own. Ruthie has joined our family and found that her best friend Kit already lived here. My husband and I have spent hours watching A play with the dolls, change their clothes, and plan out elaborate things for the "girls" to do together. Its imagination at it's best and so fun to watch in this day of electronic wonder. Of course, another DS has joined our family, too so there has been plenty of gaming happening.

On Saturday, I just about spit out my ice tea when I heard those dreaded words of parents everywhere, "I'm bored." I thought to myself, "Seriously you've got all kinds of new toys, time on your hands, and you are bored!" I wish that there was a way to inject children with a gene that allows them to understand how blessed they are to have all the time in the world to do what they want, toys and games galore to keep them entertained, and no worries about work, schedules, and to do lists keeping them down.

To combat the "boredom," we went to an indoor water park in town. The kids had earned a free pass from the Library by participating in the Summer Reading Program. We figured a cold winter day was the perfect time to use these coupons. They also expired on December 31, not that I was procrastinating.

Let's just say that trip across town was an eyeopener for their mother.

I have never seen so many tattoos, body piercings or small bikinis on not so small women/men in my life. When we arrived this morning at 10am, the place was almost deserted, but, by 12 noon there were 5,000 plus people there. OK, maybe a few less, but it seemed like it. Not one for crowds or tattoos, I was a little uncomfortable as the day went on.

As I walked around the water park today a Little phrase my mother used to say came to mind....

"Foolish names and foolish faces can always be found in foolish places." What does this mean you ask? When we walk around with adornments on our bodies to draw attention to ourselves are we not saying I'm not enough without this stuff? Are we not saying that the gift that God has given me is not good enough, I need to add to it to make it beautiful.

When I left this morning in my swimsuit, I was thinking that I wish I was thinner, I wish I had remembered to shave my legs, I wish that my fabulous summer tan had not faded to winter white. I was taking away from what God has given me. While I might need some work on the outside, I don't need to add to what I am to make it acceptable to God. What I have is enough. Who I am is enough. Just As I Am...

My prayer today is that my children will know they are enough. God and their family love them always. They are more than good enough just as they are. Maybe then they won't feel the need at 18 to get a piercing or a tattoo at all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

12 Days of Christmas Surprises Revealed

I've been keeping a secret for the past 12 days. It's been killing me not to share the fun stories behind the secre or not to talk to one of my best friends about this huge project I've been working on for weeks.

Today, the secret can come out. Two groups of friends have been surprising 4 unsuspecting, but well-deserving families with the 12 days of Christmas Surprises. Three of these families are from our public school and one is from my church/scrapbooking family. They are receiving these little surprises because they are going through a rough time or period of grief so as they celebrate Christmas, we wanted to bring a little sunshine to their days.

For our school, this our fourth year of planning this 12 Days surprise program. Each year, the program grows a little more, a few more families and a few more "givers." People now request certain days because they have a great idea so that they can give a particular gift.

These 29 women and their families do an awesome job of being creative, caring, and generous. We pray for the families, include a thoughtful note in each gift, and give them something that has to do with the 12 Days of Christmas Song. Our hope is that, as they receive these fun little gifts each day, the Christmas Spirit in them will brighten and they willl find joy and peace even if just for a little while each day. For those grieving, we are praying that the children in the family will experience true joy in the midst of their sorrow.

The fourth family this year is a good friend of mine who lost her third child inSeptember. Her son Harrison went straight from the comfort of his mother's womb to the arms of Jesus just weeks before his scheduled birth. Our scrapbooking group and some other friends of the family thought that this Christmas could be a little tough and they might need a bright spots in their day. We thought that her two other little children would get a big kick out of this daily surprise.

Tonight, my family delivered two last day presents. Twelve Drummers Drumming. Taking the theme litterally, I found the cutest little red drum boxes at Michaels and placed inside a box of Drumsticks; the ice cream kind. The note inside say that we hoped the family would enjoy this final day gift and that they would have a Blessed Christmas Celebration and a New Year filled with joy and love.

The joy we get from planning, watching and anticipating the 12 Days of Christmas Surprises far outceeds any effort or energy involved. It's simply amazing. Our family gets great joy in this yearly tradition. If you are interested in learning more or getting the information to do this next year for a family let me know and I can send you more information.

I'll leave with this list of the meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas...

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England werenot permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Wishing You and Yours the Merriest of Christmases. God Bless Us Everyone.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lessons from our Miscarriage

Thirteen years ago when we were walking through the valley of the shadow of death after losing our first child, I didn't really see any redeeming lessons or gifts from this time of sorrow.
Today, I can say that, in many ways, that period of time taught me many lifelong lessons. It impacted not only how I would view my pregnancies, births and children, but how I would look at life in general and grief in particular.

Now, I am nowhere near perfect when it comes to walking through grief, and I have not suffered a life changing death of a close loved one like a parent, sibling or young child. However, I have seen it through other's eyes and tried to learn from them, too. I've witnessed those who have reached out to friends in grief in loving and kind ways and those who have, unknowingly, hurt or wounded their grieving friends by omission or co-mission.

First of all, I would say the best advice is not to ignore the elephant in the room. Talk about the loved one who has died or is dying. Ask questions. Don't expect long answers, but be willing to listen.

Offer to do something specific such as take a child to school, make a meal and drop it off, sit at the home during the funeral, take home some laundry, etc. Then do it!

I love to plan. I offer to plan meals for the upcoming weeks after a death. To have home cooked meals dropped off ready to eat a few times of week lessens the burden. It gives them time to rest and recoup, instead of cook, shop for groceries etc.

Mark down important days on your calendar. For almost a year, I would call a good friend every 15th of the month. She lost her mom to cancer on Jan 15th and I know that each month, she relieved those final days. Call a person or drop them an e-card or letter on those days. Remember the day the baby was to be born, or the child would have graduated from High School, and of course the birthdays.

Milestones and New Adventures Years from now will restart their grief process. A young woman I know, whose mother died 11 years ago, said that high school graduation, college graduation, and her first job were all times she grieved again for her mom and were moments she was missing out on in her life. When her sister gave birth for the first time, I sent a card on her first Mother's Day to say how proud her mother would have been to see what an excellent mother she had become. I will always wonder what my child would have looked like, who they would have been more like, and what things they might be involved in at any given age.

Finally, if you don't know what to say, say that. Tell your friend that you are not that good at dealing with grief. Tell them that you love them and are willing to do whatever, but that you might not always have the right words or do the right things. They will understand. They are struggling through the grief thing, too.

I'm sure all of this you already know. You probably already handle grief of friends and family better than I do. For me, it's good to see that something positive has come out of our loss. Beauty has come from ashes.

My hope is that I too can learn to apply these lessons in my daily life. There are a lot of grieving, wounded souls walking around these days. They have lost jobs, spouses, kids, and their ideal worlds. My prayer is that today they will find comfort in the midst of all of it and see Jesus' open arms ready to offer them that comfort.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thirteen Years

December 18, 1995 is a day I will always remember. The feelings are no longer so raw or painful, but I can in my mind go right back to the weekend leading up to that Monday morning. The frantic phone call to the doctor on Friday night, the fear and gripping realization that the baby we had prayed for, longed for and waited for was not going to make it inside my body any longer.

I was 10 weeks into my first ever pregnancy. We were so excited. We had been to the doctor just 10 days before and had talked about this baby of ours. We'd told friends that we were finally expecting. Our families had been told at Thanksgiving. We knew nothing but joy.

Friday December 15th was a normal day at the office for me, but right after lunch things changed. I started spotting. The other ladies in the office said, not too worry that this was normal. The Doctor said to go home, rest and get off my feet. By Friday night, we were sacred. It was getting worse, not better. We called on doctor and interrupted her dinner out, we wanted to go to the ER and see what was happening. She gave us wonderful advice. Sit tight, don't go. Let's give this baby every chance to make it. If we went she said, they would probably just hasten up the process. It was a long weekend. We had big plans for Christmas shopping a few parties and just overall excitement. Instead we cried, hugged and I rested. I think God was preparing our hearts for Monday morning and the ultrasound that would tell us that our baby had died sometime in the previous two weeks.

Monday December 18th, we went to the Doctor. I remember the waiting room, the ultrasound tech trying to give us some hope, but the look on her face said it all. No heartbeat. My mother and husband's looks of sadness and despair. The doctors' tears for us. The trusting hand on my shoulder saying these things happen and you did nothing wrong. I'm so sorry.

Seeing two other doctors in the hallway who were family friends. Their looks of sadness when they realized the news we'd just received. I was scheduled for a D & C the next morning at the hospital. By 4 p.m. in the afternoon that was no longer necessary. I miscarried the baby at my parents home. The Sac was complete. A Small Tiny Little Creation from God. A Real Baby was inside. Those feet you see that represent pro-life. I saw them there.

We buried the baby at a family's acreage outside of town. Between three trees. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we thought. Watching over our loss, our dreams our hopes.

We went through the motions of Christmas that year. Sad, brokenhearted and crying. We saw people who wished us well, not knowing the turn of events. It was devastating.

It would not be until the weekend that our baby was due to come that summer that we would find out we were pregnant again. With tears, hopes and lots of prayers, we would bring that baby home healthy and loved in March of 1997.

Tomorrow I'll share the lessons. blessings and gifts that this expereience has given to us as a family.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Carols and Precious Moments Shared.


On Monday I took my daughter's brownie troop to a retirement/nursing home near our school. This is our fourth year of going in December to sing Christmas carols and spread some good cheer.

For some of the 3rd grade girls this is there only exposure to the older generation. They have no grandparents or great grandparents living or living nearby and thus don't get the joy of interacting with these wonderful people very often. We make cards for the residents, and pass them out at the end of our program so that they can see the girls up close and personal. I ask that the girls dress up a little bit for this event; no jeans etc. There is nothing grandmother types like seeing more than little girls in dresses.

I've learned some very valuable lessons through the years I thought I would share..

* Traditional Christmas Carols trump those frosty the snowman songs every time. The faces of the residents light up when we sing "Silent Night " or " Angels We Have Heard on High". They sing along and it's almost as if you can see them go back in time to another place or Christmas memory. I've noticed even the non verbal types mouth the words or hum along.

* If we sing off key or miss a few of the words it's ok. I'm not a singer. I love to sing, but perfect pitch is not something I understand. For the past few years we've sung along with a piano player, this year our location changed in the building and we had no piano to use. Guess who had to start out every song. Good thing many of the residents wear hearing aides and couldn't catch my tone. They thought we sounded like angels.

* Seeing a friendly face and hearing children laugh can brighten any day. These ladies and one gentleman loved every minute of our 35 minute performance. They smiled and giggled and did not want to leave afterward. What took so little time, energy and effort on our part is now one of their highlights of the week.

* It's always ok to say Merry Christmas. In this group it's not Happy Holidays or Spirit of the Season, it's Merry Christmas. They might not all celebrate the season withe Jesus like we do but everyone accepts that December 25th is Christmas. I no longer go along with the politically correct way and alway say we are hear for Christmas and we sing all three verses of "Joy to the World" and "Away in the Manger".

I am blessed to have a 96 year old grandmother still here on earth. She lives in a nursing home across town. While it's hard to carry on a conversation with her as her hearing is bad and her memory is short; I now go just to hold hands with her. To sit up close and rub her back and tell her how blessed I am to have had memories of her and grandpa stored in my head. I remind her of these long ago days and try to fill in the details of today.

I decided this week after my visit with her that next week I'm bringing a scrapbook. We can look and not need to talk, just enjoy the company. While I sometimes think I'm too busy, or it's too much of a hassle to go I think God enlightened me this week to how much just 15-45 minutes of my time might brighten her day, her week and mine too.

I want for my children to have an appreciation for the older generation. Their grandparents are still young and active in their minds, but a day will come when they no longer are. We are going to soak up the moments now that so that when Nana and Papa are sitting in the rocking chair my kids will have memories to share with them while holding their hands. Precious memories and moments.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm Fabulous: In My Mind

I've been nominated for a blog award. Hard to believe I know ,but I have very kind friends. Jen my sweet soon to be in-law ( if our 4 year olds get married) is the reason I have this beautiful trophy to show you. Thanks Jen I'm not sure I am worthy.

This blog award comes with a catch however. I must reveal to you my listening audience my 5 addictions. Seriously. My addictions listed out for the whole world wide web. Good thing my family already knows them.

I'd say it's in no order but the first one is my biggest by far...and away.
1. Diet Pepsi. Yes DP not Diet Coke. I'm a true Midwesterner; Pepsi products please. Did you know in places like Texas ( my husband's favorite homeland) you have to search high and low for Diet Pepsi. They even ask you at restaurants " do you want a coke, what kind" Favorite way to drink it: Fountain Pop with crushed ice from a convenient store.

2. Lists. Yes Lists and more lists. I make a" to do list" every morning of what I need and want to do that day. When I was in college I would even write things I'd already done just so I could cross it off. That's a problem. I have lists of who to call, long term projects, vacation packing lists, and of course my all time favorites weekly menu lists and grocery lists. Favorite list making tool: I love index cards for lists, they have blank spaces and lined so I can use both sides.

3. Hallmark Channel Movies. Don't laugh if you have not tried them. I love to watch these while I'm knitting in the afternoon during A's rest time. I give myself one hour to watch and knit and can usually almost finish a movie. They can be sappy, but are non offensive, normally have a good moral compass and they just make me happy. My greatest sadness is when the DVR does not record my movie. Favorite Way to Watch; with the fire roaring, diet Pepsi and my knitting project in my lap.

4. Reading Books only one time. I love to read especially Christian Fiction, but don't ask me to read them twice. I remember the characters and settings too much to enjoy the storyline a second time through. Good thing my mother buys a lot of books and shares them with me now that I don't work in a Christian Bookstore and just borrow them for book reviews.
Favorite way to enjoy: I bring a book with me wherever I go and love to read in waiting rooms etc. I've been know to read 4 books on a week long vacation. Good Thing my husband does the driving.

5. Having a Project To Do: I must at all times have something I'm working on. It can be a project for home, volunteer jobs or a craft project but I need to have something occupying my time. Right now it might be a few too many projects: school volunteer job, knitting jobs that must be done for Christmas, a few other Christmas projects (not to be discussed yet) and of course I have self imposed deadlines and expectations for all of them. Favorite project: A Christmas Surprise I'm working on right now. I'll discuss after Christmas.

I have a few other things that I addicted too like my favorite candy that's impossible to find; Chuckles. Traditions at Christmas that I'm not willing to give up: Opening presents on Christmas Day not Eve and of course you must have pecan rolls and cranberry juice to drink that morning too.

I tag the following people who might not all have blogs but can write in the comments their top five.

1. Kim at Mercy Days who encourages me to be a better blogging and mother by her inspiring posts.

2. Wendy who is a fellow Midwesterner and takes the most amazing photos ever.

3. My Friend Kath who reads my ramblings and must laugh like crazy having known me for over 20 years. She's probably waiting for me to grow up but loves me anyway.

4 and 5: The Friends I'm telling this week about this blog. I've not shared the fact that I blog with any real life friends yet (except Kath and Jenn). Not my family, not close friends. I'm thinking of putting it our Christmas Letter which goes out to about 5 people. Or maybe more.
If I do spill the beans and you've found me please play along.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Don't Know How To Read

Since this has become a way to document event/sayings/ happenings of our family until I have time to get them into our scrapbook, I have a few things I need to get down on paper (PC Monitor?) right away before they escape me.

Those of you who know our little family are aware that A, the 4 year old, is actually a 40 year old in a very small package. She spends so much of her time with me and other adults that her vocabulary, mannerism and thoughts are often very grown up. In fact, she told me just yesterday that I was not going to be her best friend anymore if I didn't take her to Burger King for lunch. I wasn't aware we were best friends!

If you recall, she is working on writing her name, but leaves out all the e's because she doesn't like them. Too bad! There are two in her first name and two more in her last. Guess we should have consulted her first on naming rights.

She made a card the other day for her "boyfriend" G. It was made during preschool art time and she handed it to him right after school. She beamed with excitement when she handed it over to him and his cute little family

G's mom is my friend Jenn who has a great blog: http://thehofffamily-jenn.blogspot.com/ was so kind to act impressed with the words. To me it looked a lot like this.

a a att annatttt atatat tt aaa.

But bigger and not in a row, but you get my gist.

On the way home in the car, I asked A what she wrote.

She said "a word."

I said, "What Word?"

She said, "Hello, I can't read, I don't know."

Stunned silence from the mother.

"What do you mean?" I said

"I don't know how to read so how do I know what the word is? Don't his parents know how to read?" A said in utter disgust for her mother's inability to understand.

"Well you are right they do" I said.

The next day G invited A over to play. She told me obviously his parents must be able to read cause he knew to have her over!

I must, in defense of A, say that there are other children in my family who think and act in such a way. They do things that leave their parents in stunned silence. Unfortunately, often the things they say or do might embarrass them later so I'm trying to respect their privacy.

Like, I would never share how my 11 yr old son wore his swimsuit, swim towel and running pants home today from his Boy Scout Swim Test and told me it felt like he had wet his pants. That's too private!

Or, when he told me that while swimming, he was to pretend to drown and someone was to throw him a rope. Guess the guy missed by about 2 feet. C had to kick under water to the side of the pool. What cracked me up was when he said; "If I was a real person, I would have died."

Or, I would never comment on my 8 yr old daughter and how yesterday while hanging the outside Christmas lights, she asked if they needed to be plugged in first to light up. Not sure if she thought they were solar lights or was more worried that we needed to get inside and get the hot chocolate going.

I, of course, never think first; that's why I have this blog. Of course, I have my husband ready to read before I post just in case I would embarrass myself. Either that or I have no idea how to use a comma.

Monday, December 1, 2008

With Grateful Hearts

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving. There was great feasting, plenty of rest, time spent with family, carrying on of traditions, and creating memories to store up for the winter. We've officially entered that crazy month of December, but first I wanted to reflect on a great November.











At the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at our local History Museum.

We were thrilled that once again that my in laws made the trek to visit us from Chicago. It wasn't just the great Norwegian Christmas Cookies that Bestemor made that made my kids smile. They were just thrilled to have them here for a few days. Snuggling, craft time, looking at scrapbooks, and a few loud games of Apples to Apples made for a wonderful long weekend. Tears were evident Saturday night before bed when we said good-bye to the grands knowing we would not see them again until springtime. What a blessing it is to have two sets of grandparents involved in our lives passing on traditions and memories. One of the highlights for the kids was our trex to the local Scandinavian Shop. How thrilled they are with their Norwegian Heritage and the fact they are just the second generation of their family to be born in the United States.

Their mother needs to do a better job of passing on some German and English traditions, too!











Bestefar and the kids looking over the Birthday Calendar we made with photos of our Minnesota Vacation this past summer. It was great to relive the fun we had on that trip.

Things I want to remember:
* The smile on all three kids faces when the Grandparents arrived on Wednesday.

* The thrill when they realized that cookies had arrived too.

* C teaching Bestefar how to play football on the Play Station

* M and A coloring and making crafts at the kitchen table with Bestemor

* Laughs and Giggles in the family room when A played judge for Apples to Apples. Her knowledge of history and people is really lacking. What do you expect from a 4 year old!

* Christmas Tree Lighting at the Train Station and driving through the lights downtown. The oohs and ahas from all were well worth the fighting in the backseat.

Thank you God for a wonderful time this Thanksgiving. Time is a wonderful gift and I'm grateful that we were able to share this time with all of our family.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My House Is Not Spic and Span

I used to babysit a lot when I was a preteen and teenager. I loved the kids, loving playing house, and the money wasn't too bad, either. We lived up the street from a family with four kids. I spent a lot of time with them babysitting, seeing them on the street, and watching them come down to my house to visit with my parents long after I had left for college.

In their downstairs bathroom hung a needlepoint quote that I still remember. I can't recall the whole poem, but the phrase that lingers in my mind is "Cleaning the House while the children are growing is like shoveling the walk before it's stop snowing.".

As I prepare my house for guests this week, I've often thought if I could just ship my three little ones off for a few days this house would look great. It would get clean and stay clean.

I'm trying to get a new perspective on this, however, in light of the memory of that needlepoint. You see the lovely mom who lived there is no longer here. Ann died of cancer 11 years ago and left a family without a mother, wife, or grandmother to be.

She lived that phrase. She focused on the important things; her children and family. Her house was clean and picked up, but I never saw her stressed or frantic trying to get it perfect.

The void she left in the lives of her children, especially her 3 daughters, is deep. Just this month, she would have welcomed another grandson into her family. She would have loved them to pieces. I wish she could have been here.

Last night I watched a movie from Hallmark Channel that I had DVR'd. It was called Home For Christmas about a mother who died years before, but returns to earth for one day to celebrate Christmas with her family.

The movie made me question who I would wish to have one more day with here on earth. Would I wish to rock the baby we lost 13 years ago? Would I want one more afternoon on the front porch with my grandfather and his homemade lemonade?

While I miss those who have gone before me to heaven, I think the person I most wish I could spend one more day with is my neighbor and mentor Ann. The mother who successfully raised four children and who created an environment of love and respect among the girls in her family that today they are still the best of friends. Who knew that the house didn't matter the children did.

I wish I could ask for her advice for the upcoming teenage years. I wish that I could share with her the fantastic job she did with her family. I'd ask if she ever thought she was treading water and not making progress with her kids.

My house will not be spic and span tomorrow for the Thanksgiving company. Children live here and they create mess. However, they also bring tremendous joy, spirit, and hope to a family and I wouldn't trade the "mess" for anything.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't Try This At Home/Hair Color Catastrophe

I got my hair cut yesterday and made the realization that I have few grey hairs. Yuck!

In my mind, they were the leftover blond hairs from the summer; you know how when you are young and your hair lightens from being at the pool and lake all summer. Well, I guess I'm not so young anymore. I have grey hair mixed into my ever darkening blond/brown hair.

I decided last night that I would take my hair into my own hands and color it; to cover the grey and get my hair an all-over-color. I used to highlight my hair regularly before children. Before dance classes, boy scouts, preschool and ever needing to be replaced shoes/coats/clothes took over the hair care extra budget. I mean seriously; $95 for hair color that costs $5.95-8.00 at the store.

My mom used to give me at home perms. I loved them. Hated the smell and the no wash rule for 2 days, but I think I figured I could duplicate her hair skills.

Hmmmm. Maybe not!!!!

I choose a Light Ash Brown. It made my hair the color of black licorice. Not exactly what I was going for this morning at 7:00 a.m. when I started this adventure. The beautiful woman on the Loreal box looked just like I wanted to look. Young, hip, and with flowing brown hair with streaks of sunshine mixed in. I looked old, Dracula-ish with streaks of tar mixed in. So much for advertising!!!!

I called the handy dandy 800 number to find out what to do. I admitted I had not done the strand test, but that it certainly did not look like me in the mirror or the girl on the box. Quick fix buy two new hair colors wait for my hair to turn apple red, then apply more till it's pumpkin orange, then apply the next color and keep waiting. It was 10 a.m. before I was done with this little adventure. My husband asked if I would stop at the Hardware Store on my way home. Was he kidding? No way was I going to allow anyone to see me as Elvira.

Today my hair looks auburn. Not red, or brown, but a mixture. It's not me yet, but its a lot closer to me than me of 7:00 a.m. this morning. It's even closer to me than the grey hairs I found yesterday at the salon.

Warning, if you are suddenly inspired to take up home hair color/hair care think again. I'm sure I took a few years of my life today with stress over my hair. I should have gone to the expert, spent the time and money at the salon and saved myself a few more grey hairs. These words from a sermon a few weeks back rang in my head this morning during a moment of sanity.

Matthew 6:25-29
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Maybe I should insert the word "hair" to this list. God I know that "this" doesn't matter. I could have gone to church tomorrow in rags, with dracula hair or body beat up from the world and you would have welcomed me with open arms. Lord help me to look at the world with these eyes.

But I'll tell you it's hard not to give into the flesh and try to convince my kids to stop growing so I could maybe keep the greys away for good. Seems like a fair trade as before them I had perfectly blond hair perfectly coiffed.

(Edited to note: If you know me in real person pretend you didn't read this post. Not that anyone reads these posts anyway!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We Gather Together: Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I've seen houses all decked out with their lights, a few inflatables in place being jolly, and believe it or not, a few Christmas Trees have been seen through Family Room Windows.

Did I miss Thanksgiving? Now I realize that getting ready for season is half the fun of Christmas time. I like to get my lists made, my Christmas Cards addressed, and have even been known to listen to a few Christmas songs before December 1st. However, I want to celebrate Thanksgiving before we jump straight into Christmas.

Thanksgiving is too important, too patriotic, too spiritual to be seen only as a day off or a day before the biggest shopping day in the year.

I love Thanksgiving. My family gets together, we have grandparents traipsing across the plains to come, we have traditions, foods that we only have at Thanksgiving, and of course, we have football and shopping this weekend, as well. However, we try to focus on Giving Thanks and on thanking God for his abundant blessings,mercy, and grace.

We all share our "We are Thankful for..." thought around the Thanksgiving Table.

One year our then 3 year old M said she was most thankful for Cheese. Yes, cheese. I think she really was. It was probably the most honest answer ever. She loved cheese.

I love the song "We Gather Together". I love the thought of Pilgrims and Indians sitting across from each other on a cold November day and sharing their bounty and their good will. It gives me hope to think of such grand gestures. I love, that even in times of trial, uncertainty or hardship, these good people gave thanks. They recognized their blessings were from God and thanked Him.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I'm trying to focus my heart on this moment, this season, this feeling of thanks before the hectic days of December are pulling at me.

There is so much to be grateful for this year, so much to pray a prayer of Thanksgiving to God for at this moment; for health and strength and daily bread we praise thy name O God.

We Gather Together Hymn
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised!O Lord, make us free!

Let us gather together this year and celebrate the bounty the Lord has provided and not worry so much about the next day, week or month. Thanksgiving deserves it's own celebration. What a blessing it is to honor that day!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Math Jocks Rule

My son is a math jock. I mean that in the nicest way. He gets math. His mother not so much.

He was in a City Wide Math Competition last week with 6th graders from all over the district. They had a 60 question written exam followed by a 30 question team quiz bowl.

He had the biggest cheering section. Yes, you can go to math competitions and watch! Bet you didn't know that did you? His grandfather, both parents and youngest sister watched the Quiz Bowl. His little sister and I had made a poster, we clapped and yelped and got all excited when they were competing.

The test was so hard that 22/60 was the top score. My husband struggled on the practice tests, said he couldn't believe how hard the questions were. It was about concepts and skills they didn't know yet.

My son said they competed "smart" by dividing the test into 4 sections. They each answered those questions and helped each other out on the tough ones. Great Teamwork!!

When they announced the winners, we held our breaths. His team of 4 took first place in the written exam and 4th in the quiz bowl. First Place-wow. I might have run down the aisle and snapped a few pictures of the big trophy and burger king hats they gave to the winners, but we don't have to tell anyone, do we?

We were so proud.

Math is not my thing. When the quiz bowl questions were on the screen, I didn't know all the answers. I'm ok with that. I'm ok with my son being a math jock. I can hardly wait to see how God will use this incredibly intelligent and bright young man some day.

This is the same kid who at the age of 3 told us he wanted to be a Astronaut and, at age 5, when the shuttle crashed said instead he'd be an Aeronautical Engineer so he could build a better spaceship.

He told me that the math competition was one of his best days ever.

Next year I'm getting t-shirts printed up with My Son is A Math Jock. You won't see a prouder Mom!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Having a Mary Heart

This fall, I've been reading the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. My "Mom's Bible Study "has been using this book as our study .

This book is very convicting. The chapter we discussed today was #4 The Cure which is about overload, burn out and the expectations we place on ourselves as believers. We want to serve God, but too often we take on too much, get stressed out, and forget thatFellowship with Him is only "one thing" that matters to God.

Too often, I am that Martha by working away in the kitchen, at the church, at the school and missing out on the joy of just following with Christ.

I guess to keep it real that if I am trying to be "found faithful," I'm missing the boat because I'm too busy on the shores of life trying to check one more thing off my list

Here are a few of the key points I underlined from this fabulous chapter....things I want to walk away with and store in my mind and heart

"The problem is, contrary to popular belief, we can't do it all. We're not even suppose to try." (page 57)

"Sometimes I think I struggle to discern God's will because I'm surrounded by the obvious....I'm surrounded by legitimate needs, and I want to do them all." (page 57)

" I realize then that, while there are many things that need to be done, things I'm capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them. ....God may be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. What's more, I may be stealing someone else's blessing when I assume I must do it all." (page 59)

"Service was never supposed to be our first priority. .. Only one thing is needed and it is happening not in the kitchen, but right there in the living room. .. The Truth is, we can't get our spiritual act together unless we go to the Living Room first." (page 60)

"I cannot do everything, but I can do "one thing"." (page 63)

That "one thing" is to sit in God's presence and to worship Him, to learn more about Him and to have fellowship with Him through prayer and time in His Word.

Some of my greatest moments of worship of late have been in the car. We have KLOVE on the radio most of the time and my kids will ask me to turn it up so they can hear and sign along. I love to hear all three of them singing songs of praise, of comfort and words of scripture. They are hiding God's word in their heart one melody at a time.

It does a Momma's heart good.

Now I just need to make sure that I'm hiding these precious words above in my heart too. That I'm sitting in the Living Room hearing/listening to God's still voice instead of in the Kitchen trying to get the next thing done.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It Is Well With My Soul

My littlest told her friend today that because Obama won we'd be moving to a new state.
My middle child was crying last night when she went to bed because she was so sad for McCain.
My oldest thought maybe we should demand a recount.

Reality was a little hard to take in our corner of the Red States this morning.

God's plans are not always my plans. His ways are bigger. He puts in place leaders and requires of us to render unto Cesar what is Cesar's.

Today, we talked about the fact that the sun still came up this morning. That God is still in His Place and He is still in control. We are praying for our country, our new leader and for our world.

We are not moving. We are sad, but we are resolute. We have faith in our country.

Not my will Lord, but yours.

A song has been floating through my head all day long. It is Well With My Soul. A song about trusting God in the tough times and counting it well with our souls because God is still God and in Him alone can I trust.

Maybe for you it's not the election that has you needing to trust, maybe it's a illness or a loss of a job; maybe it's other people letting you down once again. No matter the circumstance God is still good, all the time.

"Dear Lord may these words fill my heart and mind, so that will full faith and confidence I can declare it well with my soul."


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day and Parenting

I have a pit in my stomach. I hate Election Day. I love to go to the voting booth and get my "I voted today sticker", exercising my civic duty . I will proudly tell anyone who I voted for and why, but I can't stand the tension of the day. ( John McCain)


Working on campaigns in the past, Election Day is kind of a let down day. It's all over, your work is done and now you have rely on that work to pay off.


Sure you can go to polling booths and hold signs, you can stand on cold street corners and pray for drivers to honk approval at your yard sign and you can even make a few last minute phone calls to supporters to see if they need rides to the poll. But you can't go cast their ballots ( at least it use to be that way!) and you can't personally vote more than once ( that vote early vote often phrase use to be a joke-not so much anymore).


You have to wait until 8 p.m. for the first votes to come in to judge how well your candidate has done. To see how far ahead or behind they are in the race to the finish.


Just wait. Trust your gut and have faith.


It's a lot like parenting.


Election Day is kinda like College Drop Off Day. It's like First Day of Kindergarten. It's the first day of Junion High. You've put in the hard work, you've given it your all. Your candidate is the best you've ever seen, you have full faith and confidence in them, now it's all up to them. Will they perform the way you know they can, will others have the same faith and confidence in them? Will they be the golden boy or girl you know they can be?


Trusting the electorate, trusting your gut, trusting your God to fill in the gap. It's tough.


I haven't been sleeping well the last few nights. I'm worried about the future of our country.


I know the sun will rise again tomorrow. I know God is still on the throne. My flesh is nervous but my soul is content.


As I journey through new stages of parenting I struggle just the same. I have sleepless nights, I over think and analyze. I have to trust God to be there, to with my "candidate-child" to help them make it to the finish line.


I have to trust they have all the ability, knowledge and inner core values to make the right decisions, take the right paths and make the right choices.


My candidate might not win the election today. My country might take a direction I didn't choose tomorrow. But you know what, I'll still be proud of my country. I'll still defend, protect and serve my country whenever I'm called.


For now I'm called to my homefront; to my family, community and church.


If my children take a wrong turn somewhere along the way, I'll still be here for them to love them, serve them and protect them. If it doesn't all go according to plan for them I'll still be standing beside them. That's my duty.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Souptacular Crockpotalooza














I'm excited to be a part of BooMama's Souptacular Crockpotalooza.

She is without a doubt one of my favorite all time bloggers.

I love crockpot soups or soups simmering on my stove in the fall and winter months. The aroma that you get when you come in from outside are heavenly.

I love too knowing that I have something ready and I'm not rushing around late afternoon looking for something to cook.

The Soup Recipe I'm submitting is from a good friend. She made this yummy soup for lunch last week for a kids/moms Halloween Party. The kids had pb& j sandwiches and the moms were in awe of this yummy fall treat. Here whole spread of food was yummy but I was truly blown away by this fantastic soup.

I mean it when I say this soup is one of the best ever. I am allergic to garlic so B did not put any in the soup (what a friend) and it was still delicious.

White Chicken Chili

One large chicken (rotisserie works well)
1 Tbsp. oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped
3 Cloves minced garlic
1 can green chiles
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Oregano
1 1/2 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2 Tsp. Cumin
2 1/2 cans chicken broth
1 can Rotel Tomatoes
3 cans Great Northern Beans
4 cups Monterrey Jack
16 oz. sour cream

Cook the chicken, let cool, pick the meat off the carcass. In oil, saute the onion, chiles, oregano, salt, garlic, cumin and pepper. Cook until the onion is tender. Combine all ingredients except cheese and sour cream. Cook 4 to 5 hours (I use my Crock Pot). During the last 30 minutes, add the cheese and sour cream. This tastes even better the next day!

Yummo!!

Make this soup this weekend for your family, I know I plan to.

To get more great soup/crockpot recipes go to BooMama's http://boomama.net/2008/10/30/souptacular-crockpotalooza/


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Toy Catalogs and Reality

The catalogs have started to arrive in our mailbox each day. You know the ones with the all the wonderful Christmas ideas. I really love the ones from the Travel Clothing companies. Who really needs undergarments with zippers to hide your valuables. If you are traveling to countries that you need to hide your valuables; best not to bring them along.

Come on people! Even the passengers on the "Love Boat" were smart enough to store their gold and jewels away in the ships safe. They didn't wear unmentionables under their swim suits on the Lido Deck and expect Gopher to serve them their Mai Tai's at the same time.

My kids love the toy catalogs. They have a system. Each picks a different colored highlighter and circles their choices. On the outside, they then write their names and circle with the color of choice so I can decipher who really wants the Barbie Princess Swimming Friend, or the pink Nintendo DS vs the table top air hockey game with 5 different games.

Seriously, do they not think I can figure out an 11 year old boys choices vs a 4 year old girl? Come on I wasn't born yesterday. Every 8 year old wants a swimming friend; don't they?

The littlest girl is just getting into this "Christmas List Making" and she is circling everything. My husband commented that on one page of a big blue toy catalog, she'd picked every Lincoln Log and Erector set there was.

She went to bed a few nights ago after circling away and asked me the following question.

"Now, when do I get all this stuff again?"

Guess we better get the Advent devotions out early this year and begin re-teaching our children about the "want bug" that is very contagious at stores, mailboxes and lunch tables across our great city. You know the bug that infects everything in it's path with the belief that want=needs=get and the bug that slowly moves the Baby Jesus further away from our celebrations this Christmas.

O Lord, I pray that this Christmas our family will keep it's focus on the wonder of Baby Jesus; God's only son come to earth rather than on the glitter and hype of the Christmas Shopping Season. May it be so.

In order to keep it real, I think I should rid our home of highlighters for the next few weeks. Better safe than sorry!

Friday, October 24, 2008

One Vote

I watched this powerful video today about the power of one vote. I know that elections/politics and this whole process of electing a President/Senator/Governor is controversial; but so are the issues at stake and we can't pretend we don't know about them or care about them.

When I was in college, I decided to run for the Student Government. I wanted to have a say in where my student fees went, how the university ran it's programs, and my interest in politics just made me want to get involved.

I did no campaigning, no buttons or stickers. I just relied on word of mouth. Just for reference, I went to big land grant university with 20 plus thousand kids. I was running to represent my "College" Arts and Sciences. I was a sophomore and while I was in College Republicans, a Sorority and active at my college church, I didn't know everyone.

Election Day arrived and I came in tied for 3rd place; top three vote getter's have a seat on the Student Government. So if one more person had voted for me I would have won.

How did we solve this problem? A toss of the coin. The heads person took a seat the tails person lost and had to try again next year. I am not a gambling person. However, on the day of the coin flip, I won! I bet my opponent to this day wishes they had talked their roommate into voting for them!!!

All this is to say that you can't underestimate the power of your vote. Pollsters and pundits can say all they want, but until everyone goes into the voting booth on November 4th this election is up in the air. No winners until then.

Please watch this video and think about the power you have to shape your future, your children's future and the future of this country. I don't mean to be so melodramatic, but it's that important this year. Don't sit on the sidelines and complain about the bozos in the media, the negativity of the campaign, or the fact that your little vote means nothing.

As one who has watched an election come down to a coin flip, trust me it matters.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Funny Things Happen on the Way...

I need to record a few of the funny things my 4 year old has said lately. They are priceless and remind me so much of her older brother and sister and their funny ways at the same age.

She is very observant, quiet and often gets right to the point when she has something to say. She might go with me to lunch with friends, not say anything the entire timel and then repeat almost word for word our conversations.

Wednesdays are our crazy days. We have preschool/bible study, a little break for lunch, dance class at 2:00, kids coming home at 3:00 and 4:00, and then piano lessons followed by dinner at church/confirmation and pioneer club that night. It's busy, but I've given up trying to "get anything done" on that day of the week.

Last week as we were driving away from dance this is what I heard in the back seat...

"I've been so busy today. Preschool ...Check.... Watch Movie and Lunch...Check...Dance Class...Check...Pick up Icee ...Check."

It was as if she was checking her items off her to do list..

No idea where she gets this from. HA :)

We've been working on writting her name. It's long, but it has many letters that repeat themselves. The other day she was copying letters that M wrote for her to practice.

I said Great Job A. Those letters spell your name. You just need to write them in the right order and we'll have your name written.

Her response: It doesn't matter if the letters are in the right order as long as they are there.

Guess we are going to do word searches to find her name now.

That conversation took me back some 4 years ago when M, who is now 8, was in preschool. She would constatnly write only the letter M on her papers. I asked her why she never wrote her whole name, it's beautiful and I knew she knew how to do it. Her response? I only need to write the M. I'm the only one in my class with that letter and the teachers already know the rest of my name.

Guess we should have been smarter parents when we named our children and just given them one letter names. So much easier for Preschoolers to conquer.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seven Random Things MEME


I've Been Tagged-Yippee!!!

I've never been tagged before. In fact so few people read my blog I don't even have seven people to send this back too who know me or have ever been here.It's so exciting.

Seven Random things. No problem. Lately, my whole life has been filled with random things.

1) I have lived in one state my whole life. Went away to college, but it was in the same state. Traveled a lot here in USA and abroad but have never had an address that did not have NE in it!

2) I used to work in the political field; before kids and marriage. I've met Presidents, Senators, Governors, etc. It was exciting, but I don't think I realized how exciting until I look back. My candidates always seem to lose the election, but I am figuring that it was not my fault.

3) One time in my political life, I worked as a personal aide to a female governor. We were on a commuter plane ride across state to a parade, and I had a Big Gulp before we got on the plane. Let’s say the fog at the airport was quite heavy. When the plane finally landed (1 hour late after circling and circling) the door flew open and I ran for the terminal. The State Patrol officer aboard cleared the way. What class!!!

4) I am petrified of snakes, mice etc. That's why I take the Girl Scout camping in Lodges. No bugs or critters.

5) As a child, I was allergic to chocolate. It is still not my favorite, but I will hunt down Chuckles in every gas station on a road trip. Nothing stands between me and candy that claims "Even it's name means fun".

6) Pregnancy and I do not get along. I love the child to be and am anxious to have it in my arms, but between the constant throwing up and the feeling like I'm going to throw up the only pregnant glow I ever got was the flush of the gag. Delivery was wonderful. Maybe it was the drugs.

7) My husband and I don't fight much, except about College Football. We are both Big 12 Fans. Texas and Nebraska. Let's say he's had more to cheer about lately, but get real he lives here in Cornhusker territory and should switch alliances to the Big Red. Burnt Orange is an ugly college color. He's so going to kill me!!

Now that I have revealed some deep meaningful things about myself it's your turn. I tag 7 random people. All of these women have so much Godly wisdom. I love to read their blogs.

Kim at httphttp://mercydays.blogspot.com/ ( she's the one who encouraged me to start this blog)
Erin at http://embracingmycup.blogspot.com/ (deep faith and a fellow public school mom too)Katrina at http://www.callapidderdays.com/ ( loves books as much as me)
Mary Beth at http://www.marybethwhalen.com/ ( great wisdom and her recipes rock)
Bev at http://www.lifeofgrits.blogspot.com/ ( my knitting advisor, this is her new home)
Wendy at http://swbbm.blogspot.com/ ( fellow Midwesterner-picture lover)
Linda at http://2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com/ ( My husband loves Muncie I love Linda's humor)

Thanks to Shalee at http://shaleesdiner.com/ for tagging me for this fun activity.
If you participate let me know....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday



Second Attempt at Menu Plan Monday

This is my second attempt at participating in orgjunkie.com's Menu Plan Monday.

First week was not so successful. Big Hopes for this week. It's a quiet one; which means we'll get swamped with something or another. But at least I'm ready with Fall Favorites and even a new one I found in Good Housekeeping this month.

Monday: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Fruit Salad and Apple Bundles from http://dineanddish.net/

Tuesday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Reams Noodles, French Bread, Salad

Wednesday: Dinner at Church/ Confirmation and Pioneer Club Classes

Thursday: Lo Mein With Stir Fry Vegetables from Good Housekeeping Oct 08 with Mandarin Oranges and Pineapple Salad.

Friday: Boys to the Lake for weekend: Girls night at home with Mac and Cheese. Healthy Choice for Mom.

Saturday: Chili in the Crockpot with Fritos and Salad ( husband watching OU/Texas Game)

Sunday: Grilled Chicken and Dijon Kabobs with Pineapple and Veggies served over a bed of Rice

Be sure to check out http://orgjunkie.com/ for more Menu Plan Monday and other great ideas.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Step Up to the Plate

Volunteers No Longer A Dime A Dozen Caption coming soon to a newspaper near you. Or maybe not as most of us no longer read newspapers.

Where have all the volunteers gone? Seriously, I look around and every organization, church and school around me is begging for people to help them. They need scout leaders, classroom helpers, Sunday school teachers, blood donors and everything else under the sun.

We've become such a "have it my way" society that we just assume others are going to run the programs, be the leaders, and step up to the plate. We'd rather just drop our child off and run. Sure we want them to experience all the activities, sports and programs available; just don't ask us to be involved.

Volunteering might cut into our "me" time. As parents, we have too much on our plate to be the soccer coach so why not just pay someone else to do it for us.

You might say that I'm discouraged with my com padres. Step up to the plate people. I'm tired of watching organizations beg for volunteers and I'm even more tired of seeing the same people over and over again get talked into helping out.

Sometimes I wish I could be a drop and run parent. I wish that I didn't feel so bad when there is no one to coach soccer next spring for my 4 year old that I feel compelled to say that I can.

But you know what, I wish even more that my generation would realize that the joy and blessing of giving of time, energy, and self to help out does not compare with things, awards, or monetary blessings.

Yes giving blood takes time and it's a challenge to fit it in, but did you know that people might die without it? I am scared of needles, I have terrible veins and have often terrifed nurses with them. But you know what, I do it.

Being the girl scout leader is not easy. I'm really not a public speaker or have the skill sets that prepare me for 19 little girls and their energy. However, I do it because I want my daughter to experience the joy, the leadership skills, and the fun that only a weekend away at camp can teach.

I'm not here to toot my own horn. I am learning to say no sometimes and let others fill that awkward void when a group/person asks for help. Too often, though, it seems like no one fills the gap. No one wants to get involved.

Churches especially should be turning volunteers away not begging and scrambling to fill the spots on committees and teaching positions. As recipients of the greatest gifts, shouldn't we feel compelled to serve others and share that great blessing.

I know that a few posts back I said I was overwhelmed with the meetings/ planning and responsibility. But you know what, as long as my family is taken care of and my house is presentable (notice I didn't say clean), I'll be out there filling in the gaps, and praying that one day the rest of the spaces will be filled.


Tomorrow's post: How to support the volunteers in your life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Heartbreak and Hope

A dear friend of mine had to say goodbye to her baby boy before she even got to say hello.

Harrison went home to Jesus while still in the comfort of his mothers womb, just weeks before he was due to come live here on earth.

There are no answers and the reality just doesn't seem right. God I know you have a plan, but sometimes in the midst of the pain it's hard to see it.

I trust you God that you are walking this path of grief with B & J, but I so much wish you could have taken this cup from them and given them a bouncy baby boy to hug and love. They would have loved him no matter what.

It's seemed like I've been living in two realities this week. On one side, my heart and mind are with my friend and her family while in the other, I am trying to capture the joy of each day with my own family realizing that it is a gift from God.

The hard truth is that, as a Christian, I live in two different realities much of the time.

I know that in this world there will be suffering and hardship, grief and pain, but I know that Jesus has overcome the world. I can live in hope that one day the pain of losing Harrison will be overtaken with the joy of knowing they will see him again in heaven.

A verse that I've been really clinging to this week is from Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul.

God I pray that you would give B & J and their two other little children rest, peace, comfort and an easy yoke.


Jesus Loves Me This I Know For the Bible Tells Me So.......

Monday, September 15, 2008

September Hello!! Details Later.

I can't believe we are half way through the month of September. Where has the time gone?

I really meant to update you on my knitting project and the fact this is my third attempt at this blanket. You read that right. I had to ripe it all out two times. Not happy camper.

However, now, I seem to be getting the hang of it; as long as there are no dropped stitches I'm good. Still don't know how to fix my mistakes.

We've started our Grace Based Parenting Bible Study. I spoke in front of the group twice. True God Thing that I did not throw up on anyone. It's really good.

My Mom's Bible Study at School, Bible Study at Church, Sunday School Class, Wednesday Night Activites, Piano Lessons and Dance classes for kids and my little old Brownie troop have all started. That's where September went; lost in all the meetings/activities.

I promise a more cohesive and interesting post later this week. ( for all three of you who have come here) But I've got another meeting tonight!!! Yippee.

Yes I have to speak in public once again. YUCK!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Knitting and Life Lessons 101

I took my first official knitting class the other day.

My mother in law taught me the basics this summer on vacation,. However, she lives 700 miles away so I can't show her my work in progress or ask questions mid stitch.

Boy did I have questions.

I opted to take a private lesson at a beautiful knitting store across town. I was slightly intimidated to enter this knitting world. With shelf upon shelf of yarn and projects on display right out of the pages of a Susan B Anderson book it all looked so perfect.

But now that I've been there I now know why knitters love these quaint little stores. There really is no comparison between them and the aisles at the hobby shop.

It's like walking into a friends's home. Warm, inviting and filled with beautiful things.

The yarn looks like perfect little birthday cakes, the comfy couches and fireplace just draw you into another world. I told my husband there may be no going back to the "fake yarn stores".

I was nervous going into this lesson. I've made two scarfs thus far.

Sorta.

Both with many many mistakes. The girls love them, but I knew they weren't up to par.

Let's just say when you cast on 30 stitches and end up just a few rows later with 45 you have a problem.

When my teacher asked to see what I've done I was a little timid.

I should not have worried. She didn't laugh or snicker. She showed me whatI was doing right and where I'd gone wrong. She gave me the great idea to turn my "scarf" into a little girl purse. To sew up the sides, add some ribbon and call it good. Not a wasted project after all, just a new way to turn my problems into good.

The yarn I'd been using was cheap, too complicated and the needles too big for beginners. I didn't have the best set up to get started. But, I had gotten the habit down, my fingers were understanding how to knit.

Now I know how to do it. Not all of it, but it's a start. We are taking it slow. I only know how to cast on, knit continental style and bind off. But with the right bamboo knitting needles, a little lesson on what to watch for and stitch markers to help me count I'm getting it.

So many things she told me make sense.

I've decided to make a new project. With the right tools, fantastic yarn and a little bit of courage.


It's a Purl Bee pattern I found on line; the Super Easy Baby Blanket. While it has 7 skeins of yarn you knit every row with one color until there are 20 "ridges" and then you switch colors. No changing mid stream.

The Yarn. It's scrumptious. It's soft and perfect for a baby blanket. The colors are just right for the special baby boy to-be I'm thinking of.

If I get stuck switching colors, I'll go ask for help. Free advise is given out they tell me and if I want I should join the knitting circle on Tuesday mornings where advise flows along with conversation. I'm going back for another lesson in a few weeks to learn how to purl.

While I walked into my lesson nervous and afraid of what she'd say of my project and skills, I left confident, excited and ready to tackle this new adventure one stitch at a time.

My knitting class taught me some Life Lessons:

* It's ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. You might even be able to turn that mistake into something beautiful for someone else.

* Often I don't have the right skills or tools for a job. Instead of giving up and throwing in the towel go find someone who does and ask them to show you how to do it right. Don't worry that I don't have it all figured out right away.

* I don't have to jump in all the way to enjoy the adventure. Right now I only know the basics (one stitch) but I'm still having fun. I can learn more later.

* Enjoy the moment. Casting on the new blanket and the feel of the yarn and needles was exciting. I don't need to worry yet about how it will look or if I can do it all. Just live in the moment.

These Life Lessons are just what I need on my journey of life. They remind me of a favorite verse in Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 3
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand-August 2008

I love to read.



I read all the time and have a book with me most of the time.

In fact I enjoy waiting in my car for my kids, sitting in doctor's waiting rooms and of course car rides are just perfect for reading. My husband always drives on car trips, not because I can't drive, but because he doesn't read in the car or knit. I do both.

Vacation packing requires me to bring a stack of books. I will have the book I'm currently reading and up to two more just in case I finish.

So, when I came across 5 minutes for Books it was just what the doctor ordered.



I'm participating in my first What's On Your Nightstand this month. However, I must confess none of these books were on my nightstand as are always scattered around the house.

Then whenever I have a free moment I can pick them up and read.

Here's a picture of my current stash.



The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe. I just picked up knitting this summer and have lots of questions. This book has lots of answers. It will probably become a standby in my knitting bag.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson. I think this is the final book in this wonderful series. I'm constantly challenged by the Yada Yada Girls to think more globally/cross culturally. My middle -class -suburban -white -church -self could use a little uncomfortableness with culture, customs and worship. How I wish I had a group of women like Yada Yada in my life. You'll love every page.

Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker. Just got this at the Public Library. My littlest has a best friend named Chloe so I had to pick it up. Next on my list.

Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow. Man can Whitlow write. I love the legal drama, the faith crisis, and the deep characters. Page turner for sure! In my mind I have the legal knowledge of this great author and would love to be him when I grow up. Of course, no legal background might hurt my chances.

Your Boy by Vicki Courtney. This girl knows her boys. I have an 11 year old and this book has so talked to me about who he is and where his thoughts and body are most of the time. For awhile, I thought my little boy had left the building.. Courtney is giving me encouragement and hope for the teenage years yet to come. Must read for moms of boys of all ages. This will be keeper. If you don't read her blog, you should. http://virtuealert.blogspot.com/

Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. Wow what a book. I've seen on blogs how this book has changed people's parenting and while I am only half way through I get it. I'll be writing about this book later this week. I'm facilitating a class at church on this book; a video series on Sunday mornings that starts in two weeks. Not my comfort zone. God better start equipping this called person quickly.

The Yarn Girls Guide to Knits for Older Kids by Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs. I start my knitting classes tomorrow. Just hoping that by winter I can tackle a few of these patterns they look yummy.

That's enough from me this month. I'm thinking next month I'll limit my stash so I can actually finish a few of wonderful thoughts floating through my head. Books how I love thee.

If you are interested in more on great books go to http://www.5minutesforbooks.com/ .

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to Routine: Menu Plan for the Week


I'm new to organizing junkie's Menu Plan Monday, but I've been planning menus at home for the past 15 years.
When we were first married I'd write my weekly menu out on a piece of paper and post it on the fridge. P says that whenever I posted "Chicken Wok" on Friday night he knew we'd be eating out. Guess I never had the right chicken or Chinese veggies on hand!
Oh Friday night dinners out, what a memory!!
If you walked into my house now you'd see a dry erase calendar on the Fridge with the daily schedule and the menu posted. Most of the time I stick to the plan, purchase the food needed and get cracking, but there are days that I'll look at the menu and think yuck! That's when Spaghetti and Meatballs make the dinner plates.
My husband is so use to this way of planning the meals that he'll even call sometimes from the office and ask what we are having for dinner so he doesn't duplicate the food at lunch.
This week's menu is a little on the easy side as we transition from summer cookouts and late dinners to school, dance, and all the meetings and practices that happen here from September - May.
Monday: Taco Soup with Cheese and baked taco chips; fresh fruit for dessert
Tuesday: Sexy Joes with Turkey Meat (Biggest Loser Cookbook) with Sweet Potato Oven Fries.
Wednesday: Pork Chops in Country Gravy (Cooking Light Complete p 330) with Noodles and fresh green beans. Pinneapple Salad.
Thursday: Lazy Lasagna (Cooking Light p 265) with a tomato,cucumber and red onion salad in Hendrickson's Dressing.
Friday: Bacon Wrapped Sirloin with Girl Scout Potatoes and Fresh/Frozen Corn.
I've tried to include the cookbook the recipe has come from for reference; but a lot of my recipes are from friends, magazines and the web. I'll try to figure out how to link to them this week.
Girl Scout Potatoes Recipe: Russet Potatoes or Yukon Gold peeled and cut in thin slices placed in aluminum foil with onions, butter or substitute, salt and pepper and either grilled slowly on the grill or placed in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Favorite from childhood. The thinner the potato piece the better as they get stuck to the foil and crisp up. YUMMY.
I'm excited to go check your menus this week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Fall at a Store Near You: Ignore the Weather Outside

School started yesterday. Why is it that it's still summer, but we are pretending it's Fall? I love walking through Target and seeing that they have all the winter gear you could ever need; sweaters, long pants, jackets. Not so practical when it's 95 degrees.Where will this winter gear be in say February when the wind chill is -30 and my kids have all lost at least one glove.

Gone I tell you. Gone!

No where to be found.

But have you seen the wonderful bikinis from our Cruise Line?

I can not tell you how many times I've searched for winter clothing or hats and gloves in say wintertime and haven't been able to find anything, but a Men's XL.

Seriously, why in early July could I not find a 5T swimsuit to save my life? Why did they not save a few behind for mom's who bought swimsuits in early spring and then had children that either grew or swum so much the suit was no longer the same size as the child.Tell me that hasn't happened to you too. Not you the mother, we never outgrow our clothes, but at least a toddler in your family has. Right!

You wonder oh retail giants why mothers despise shopping. You confuse us with your "seasons"

While I have no greater pleasure than wandering the aisles at the big stores in search of wonderful new pens, pencils, crayon boxes. But do you need to remind us in late June that soon a whole new school year will start.

Come on that's when I'm in the trenches of sunscreen, swimming lessons, bug spray for camp and the VBS songs on my CD player are still the number one songs we listen to in the car.

My deep thought is this: we are rushing everything. Cell phones for 10 year olds, bras and halter tops for toddlers ( I'm not kidding have you been shopping lately for a 4 year old) and now seasons.

Why enjoy summer, lets just skip it and pretend it's already winter. Obviously these retailers don't live in the heartland where we have enough winter, thank you!

So, in honor of Summer, I'm going to give my kids Popsicles for their after school snacks today and have them sit outside with their new tennis shoes and winter coats and enjoy them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympics You Taunt Me

Whose idea was it to start the Olympics in the middle of August?

Did the IOC not realize that my kids start school next week and, according to the Surgeon General, I need to be starting early bed times this week. Do you realize IOC how hard that is to do when you start gymnastics and "Michael Phelps" events at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m?

I ask you to consider us poor mothers who are trying to keep a schedule around here by scheduling the Olympics for say mid-July when nothing is on TV anyway and it's blazing hot and my kids do not need to get to bed early.

Last night, I finally said enough; we are going to pull a NBC and DVR the Olympics for playback 12 hours later when you wake up in the morning. Then you will be watching them on the actual day they are happening anyway. I mean it kinda freaks me out anyway to be watching Wednesday happen when it's only Tuesday in my family room.

All that aside, I love the Olympics and it's fun to watch the excitement in my kids faces as they watch "the youth of the world compete". M is working on her splits and handstands certain she can make the next gymnastics team, irregardless of the fact she is a dancer not a gymnast.

A has renamed the Olympics BA-GING and asks is "this live?" every time someone jumps in the pool. C asks why the boys are wearing girl swimsuits while I wonder how many hours Michael Phelps mother has sat on bleachers in her life. I'm betting she has given years of her life up and has the nicest skin due to all the humidity she's soaked up inside pool houses.

So, all I'm saying is IOC in 4 years when all the youth of world meet next, could you check the school calendar first and make sure there isn't a conflict. Thanks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our Family-The Christmas Letter Version

I figured the easiest way to introduce the blog world to our family would be to share our 2007 Christmas Letter with the group. Since it is now 7 months old the details are a little out of date, but the people have not changed. Well they have changed ages, but personalities, jobs etc have stayed pretty much the same.

C is the oldest: He is now 11 years old and will be entering 6th grade this fall. His nickname for this blog is the Engineer. As a young child we called him a 30 year old trapped in a toddler's body.

M is the middle child; oldest daughter and she is 8 years old. I can't believe she'll start 3rd grade this year, it really was only yesterday that she was a 2 year old that did not talk.

A is the baby of the family and the youngest girl. She just celebrated her 4th birthday with a party at the park with her 3 girl and 1 boyfriend. It was fabulous and for August the weather was perfect. She'll start Preschool in September and is already worried about what she will wear.

P is my husband of almost 15 years. He is the provider, protector and the one who has all the fun with the kids.

J is me.

Hope you enjoy this little glimpse into our family.


Christmas Letter 2007

Time really flew by this year and we enjoyed every moment along the way, but we sure were busy! For awhile our home was “quarantined” when, in the process of 3 weeks we had 3 cases of pneumonia. Poor C was even sick on his “double digit” birthday in March.
C ‘s new passion is golf. He had a fabulous summer playing in a league, taking golf lessons and hitting the links with Dad and Papa. Next summer, he wants to play in two leagues ! The boy’s model aviation hobby took off with the purchase of an Avistar airplane. C will likely be soloing by Spring. Early morning bus rides for our Middle Schooler also means new adventures with FCA, the Boy Scout Jamboree and learning the Trombone. Upwards Basketball will keep him busy this winter until golf starts up. M , the 2nd Grader, is becoming our avid reader. The characters in books come alive to her. Her year started out with a bang when she went on a date with her Dad to the Children’s Museum New Year’s Eve Party. She taught her Dad some new moves on the Dance Floor. Her competitive dance team won 2nd place this fall at a convention. The makeup she gets to wear to these events is just a bonus in her eyes. Our brave soul, she tried out all the rides on our trip to Mall of America, jumped off the diving board at the pool and caught lots of waves on the tube at the lake. She loved Girl Scout Summer Day Camp and is excited for our first troop camping this January at the Lodge at Camp . Growing out her hair for Locks for Love is her winter project and while the hair in her eyes drives her father crazy, the gesture captures so much her caring soul and tender heart.
A at three is a real trooper. Her infectious laugh and snugly spirit have served her well this year when she battled mono, pneumonia & 5 cases of tonsillitis before having her tonsils and adenoids out in July. Down for the count for about 10 days afterwards, she bounced back full of spunk. A decided to cut some of her hair this fall and earned the name A Scissorhands! Thankfully, the American Girl Doll she was playing with escaped any harm. She loves her ballet/tap class, playing with her “friends” and wants to be on the go all the time. We love to hear her singing in her bed, chatting away in the car and dancing to music everywhere. However, sometimes we wonder if she is ever quiet. This summer she amazingly even got wet at the pool and the lake; just not all the way! Her kisses and hugs are the best ever! We are so grateful for the gift of these three precious children from God !!!
P walked down memory lane when business took him to Cincinnati and he met up with a childhood friend. Watching the Chicago Air & Water over Lake Michigan topped his list of best of 2007. Planes flew overhead while we enjoyed the views of the Lake and watched the kids swim in Lake Michigan. Day to day activities keep him hopping as he serves as softball coach, boat driver, Sunday School teacher, lawn boy, airplane fixer & of course insurance salesman. Jill is now going by “Dr.” having survived the “year of infirmary”. She’s busy with 19 Girl Scouts, a Beth Moore Bible Study, a church committee and lots of fun times in the carpool lane. Come summer, its the swimming pool/lake and driving them again to all those “fun activities” like golf and dance. She’s not complaining, sanity comes monthly when she “crops” for 12 hours with friends from Church.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Welcome to Find Us Faithful

After almost a year of debating with myself, I've decided to start a blog. Why now, you ask? School is about to start up again for the kids and I figure this is kinda like my fresh new classroom. I can get new "school" supplies, learn new skills, make new friends and take on new life lessons. I can take the"life lessons" that I'm learning and write them down to remind myself that this too shall pass or that time is slipping away too fast. While I've kept a family scrapbook for almost 10 years, I know that I'm forgetting those small moments and wonders that are slipping away and I want to remember them always.
My baby turned 4 this week and while it seems just yesterday her brother was only 4, I know that in a few short weeks he'll be starting 6th grade.

Which leads me to the significance behind the blog title and address: Find Us Faithful. Years ago when my grandfather was gravely ill in the hospital, the Steve Green version of this song was playing on the radio. It spoke so clearly to my heart at that time of the legacy of faith that I had been given from my grandfather, parents and others. I was blessed. When the song was sung at my grandfather's funeral, it gave me chills to think that someday I would be a mother and that my strongest desire would be that my children would one day look back at my life and legacy and see the thread of faith in Christ strongly in the pages. Today, some 14 years later, I am in the trenches of life with 3 children, a husband and everyday hustle and bustle getting in the mix.
Which means I need these words and message to touch my heart ....

New International Version (NIV)
Deuteronomy 6:6-9
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.


Find Us Faithful - Steve Green (People Need The Lord)
We're pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives
Chorus:
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift though all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Repeat Chorus


That's what I want to do with this blog; remind myself about the fleeting moments I have to impress God's word on my children's hearts and to make sure that God's love and grace are with me as I leave the footprints on the road of life that I'm currently on.

May it be so!!
Jill