Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WFMW: Amazing Race Life Lessons and Fun

It's that time of year again. Amazing Race #15 started Sunday Night and our family was ready for a season of life lessons, fun, and competition. This time around in addition to the fun of picking "a team to cheer," we are taking this as an opportunity to discuss our values.

Not everything we see on Amazing Race lines up with our values, but those moments that might have caused us to back off or get uncomfortable with are also times to share our family values with our kids using real examples, visible life lessons.

For Example...

As Christians, we don't believe in living together before marriage and desire for our children to live lives of purity before marriage.

I love how there is a Christian Dating Couple on the show and that we they already brought up the fact that they are saving themselves for marriage. What a great values lesson in simple terms for all ages.

Alternative Lifestyles are a struggle for us. We believe in one man and one woman for life.
When the brothers shared their stories about being "Christian and G.," it was a our opportunity to reinforce what we believe God says about marriage and love.

Telling the Truth is always best.
A number of the teams are being "deceptive" this year. Whether in what they say, they do for a living, or in their lifestyle, our kids caught on real quick to these tricks. All of them said they were going to be in trouble for these practices. They are right.

Being a Good Friend is Priceless

Making friends and keeping them is an ongoing lesson of youth and adulthood. I love to watch the relationships on Amazing Race especially among the lifelong friends. They accept each other for who they are, they forgive, they try hard to make the other look good, and they cheer them on in good and bad times. This season's compelling team are the friends were one of the young men has Asperger Syndrome and loves routine, but is giving it his all to run the race with his friend through all the constant change and stress. There are valuable lessons about compassion, sensitivity, and acceptance. Skills I see in my older kids and want to cultivate.

Marriage is hard work, but the rewards are so worth it.

As is normally the case a number of the teams are "dating couples" and some are on the fence about their relationships. Talking about how hard it is to be married and how having a relationship takes a commitment is critical as our kids enter those teen years. I want them to realize the gravity of decisions of the heart saving them from broken hearts and wasted time in dating relationships that can not or should not end in marriage.

Don't worry if you are not a jock, just try your best.

I love the Harlem Globetrotters team, They have character, athletic ability, and personality. They play up their status, but don't seem boastful just smart. Not everyone is going to be the star player in life. Staying fit and viewing sports as a way to advance your health, friendships, skills, and teamwork are what it's all about. I'm hoping that these "jocks" don't disappoint. Too few of the professional athletes are people I want my kids to emulate.

Professing to be a Christian means you are held to a higher standard
It's great to see that a couple of the teams profess to be Christians. But at the same time, I grimace thinking that they better be able to live up to the profession of faith because America is watching and waiting for them to crack and show their "true colors." TV loves to show the hypocritical Christian. It's like the fish on the back of the car, you better be sure you can live up to your testimony all the time.

No one is perfect, that's why we need a Savior

What a great way to show that everyone messes up, lies, deceives, curses, cheats, and fails in big and small ways. If we were perfect, we'd have no need for Jesus. Dad and I mess up, you guys mess up ,and we are not perfect. It's OK. There is grace.

While not every Christian believes in exactly the same values and not everyone adheres to what we call our family standards, that does not mean we don't love them the same. We can talk about our values and our hopes for our family, but we realize that we all sin and fall short all the time.

Maybe Amazing Race teaches our family that we are just like everyone else out there. We are taking each step on the journey and trying our best to come out ahead of the game. We are aiming for the prize, but also missing quite a few steps along the way and incurring a penalty, losing our way and not be willing to ask for directions. Finally, we continually are messing up and getting dirty in the process.

Now for the best lesson of all: It's Fun to Cheer on a Team
Our family for the past four seasons of Amazing Race have chosen teams to cheer on and matched our teams up with Restaurants. Each person gets two teams, two restaurants ,and two chances to win dinner out at one of their favorite restaurants.

In the past we've chosen the teams; A choosing the pink and purple "girly" teams, C the athletic teams, M the cute dressed or best looking teams and the parents whatever was leftover.

It's worked for us, but normally meant that the chances of winning were slightly skewed toward the kids.

This season we are mixing it up. A of course had already chosen her teams before the show started. However, we asked to only choose one and to draw her second team out of the hat. She agreed reluctantly. Everyone else drew two teams out of the hat and then decided our restaurants.

A: Maria and Tiffany (Japanese Restaurant)

Zev and Justin (Old Chicago)

M: Gary and Matt (Texas Roadhouse)

Brian and Ericka (Panda Express)

C: Herbert & Nathaniel (Mexican Restaurant)

Sam and Dan (Cracker Barrel)

Dad: Mika and Canaan (Authentic Mexican Restaurant-No English Spoken)

Meghan &" Cheyne (California Pizza Kitchen)

Mom: Lance and Keri (5 Guys)

Marcy and Ron (Authentic Bohemian Restaurant)

Can't wait to see where we are going out to dinner later this fall. Amazing Race watching works for our family; for more WFMW ideas check out We Are That Family

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pumpkin Bars and Raking Leaves Can Only Mean One Thing....

Fall is here. Just ask my allergies. The wind yesterday at our Block Party caused me to wake up this morning unable to breathe. Seriously, my nose was so blocked up I couldn't even sneeze.

Love Ya Fall.

However, I'll forgive you if you keep giving me excuses to make Pumpkin Bars, Apple Crisp(recipes to come tomorrow) and Cowboy Potato Wedges, BBQ Shredded Beef Sandwiches, and other yummy stuff. I was getting a little bored with my summer lineup of food choices so I'm welcoming the new. I'm embracing this new season as a time to try new recipes and dig out the family fall favorites.

I'm hoping that next week I might even be able to have a pot of soup on the stove all day and bask in the aromas. I've used the crock pot a few times already for some great recipes I found over on my new favorite recipe sight Tasty Kitchen. You've got to check it out. The recipes are great and the pictures make them come alive.

Tonight, I'm trying a new recipe for Moo Shu Noodles. My hubby loves Moo Shu Pork at Chinese restaurants so I thought this might make him happy. Tomorrow, we are trying the Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps as a way to mix up our boring old taco routines. For Fall, I'm going to make Taco Tuesday in one form or another. M has dance and gets home late and the my husband has meetings for church on some Tuesday nights so I thought it would be fun to try different variations of "tacos" on that night; easy, fun and are able to be eaten in shifts.

A and P were busy last week raking up some our leaves. This is the first fall we've really had to worry about the leaves as our tree is still young and, normally, the weather takes care of the leaves. This year, we had a fungus get to our leaves and we need to make sure they are picked up as they fall; leaving none on the ground to get into the ground soil, dirt and recreate ugly leaves next spring.

Why is that when kids are willing to do the work, they are normally at an age when they add time to the project rather than skill. A was so thrilled to be using her Little Tykes Rake and being a "big helper" that she volunteered for the task and gave dad 20 kisses to thank him for the chance to "rake." Gotta love the enthusiasm.

A's school had Western Week and she was thrilled to get on a cowgirl outfit complete with horse. She was a little bummed that we did not have cowboy boots to carry off the look, but I promised as soon as we got a horse she could get boots. Not sure she fell for that idea.

Welcome Fall. Plan on staying around a long time. I'm not ready to welcome your friend Old Man Winter anytime soon!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Funny Things I Heard This Week

Oh the things I hear.... sounds like the beginning of a Dr. Seuss Book doesn't it? As always, my children have had me in stitches lately.

C told us we were ruining his life by not allowing him to have a cell phone. When we recommended he use our land line a few times to call people to show us why he needs the phone so bad, he declined. You see he doesn't really use the phone at all. In fact, he only answers the phone if he recognizes the number on caller id

We've told him that when he's old enough to be responsible for the phone or actually needs it because he's gone from us for long periods of time, we'll talk. I'm thinking 16.

So, when a friend called him this week to invite him to an after school football game and the conversation was short and quick, I thought I'd use it as a teaching moment. I asked what the plan was for the game. His response, "I don't know we just talked on the phone and I said sure." Yeah you'd hate to tie up the line with crucial details and stuff.

C was honored as the Student of Distinction last week and we got to have lunch with the principal. In the past, he's always said the one thing he'd really like to see change at the school is that the sandwich line needed pepperoni every day instead of just Tuesday and Thursday. We recommended that he raise a different issue this year. At the luncheon, he said his least favorite thing about school is the bus ride and the assigned seats. When he was told they could not change that, he came back with " I'd really like Pepperoni every day then!"

M cracked me up earlier this week when I told her that Papa was picking her up from school to take her to Dance Class. She replied, "I told Papa he 'did it wrong' last time, parking in the bus zone, but we've cleared that up for the future". Glad to know that M is ready for Parking Lot Detail. Funny thing is my father told me that M had set him straight too. He was now prepared for Dance Driving Duty now.

A has a Pink Princess Cell Phone that she loves to pretend to make calls and receive calls on a regular basis. It's been all over town with us and she actually does a good job of knowing where it is (See Point #1).

Lately, she's been taking it to bed with her at nighttime and making a few "last minute calls". What really made me laugh this week was when she told me she was "texting" her cousin L. I asked if maybe L would be sleeping and maybe we should text in the morning. Her response, "Oh then Isabelle the dog will text me back."

The following night and the same scenario, she was "texting" at bedtime. She asked me if I was going to "take my phone away and tell me I can't text at night?"

Seriously, she's the youngest child and we've never talked about Texting Rules. P and I are the only with cell phones and neither of us know exactly how to text though P is getting a crash course as he is mentoring a young man at church who mainly communicates via text. We really wonder where does she come up with these things?

I told my husband we might want to watch her when she enters the teen years, she's already thinking ahead of us!!

But the final and best "thing I heard this week" must go to my husband.

As you know we are divided Football House, he roots for the Horns and I root for the Huskers. On Saturday both teams had games on TV, not at the same time thankfully, so we planned to watch them both while entertaining Grandparents and having fun.

I had not really watched the NU-VT game; I'd been busy making dinner preparations and apple crisp and working on knitting. But the final few moments are always exciting. NU was winning, but not by much. The other team had the ball with just seconds to play and were right near the endzone.

We were collectively holding our breaths hoping that NU would pull out the win...when my dear Husband yelled out "throw the ball" and the VT quarterback did just that to a player in the endzone. Touchdown Virginia Tech.

I could not believe it, my husband who claims to "like" the Huskers rooting for the other team and giving them playing pointers.

He looked shocked that the QB had heard him and had thrown the ball. I was shocked that the "other team" had won!! His response to my look of horror, "It just slipped out in the excitement". He actually did seem contrite so he has been forgiven by this part of the Husker Nation.
However, I would like to say that when Texas plays OU in October and A& M in November, there might not be anything holding me back from saying "throw the ball" to the opposing team.

I'm just saying....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On My Knitting Neddles: Basketweave Scarf

For this first day of Fall, I thought I'd show off my newest knitting project which I started a few weeks back. However, with the hustle and bustle of school starting and all that, I've only just got back into it again over these past few days.

It's a Basketweave Scarf from Knitting Daily. I get their email updates and while most of the projects and suggestions are over my head, this one caught my eye. I love that you have to knit and purl to make it so beautiful. The finished rows look so much more complicated then they are. Trust me it's easy!

This past weekend, when my in-laws were in town, I tried to relearn how to purl stitch in the Continental fashion. No such luck. I'm a confused knitter I guess. I learned knitting from my MIL in Continental fashion and the folks at my favorite knitting shop taught me to purl English Style. Sounds like something out of the War of the Roses, but makes sense if you knit
However, it works for me. I'm getting so much better at keeping the stitches in a consistent tension and I am not dropping so many. Who knows maybe by 2012, I might be able to do that Felt Purse Project I so much want to do.

Until then, I'm loving my basket weave pattern. The yarn is 100% merino wool and feels yummy, the color is deep and rich and "fallish" and the pattern is so adorable. Who you ask am I making this project for? I don't know. Maybe me!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Delayed Birthday Parties

My middle child had her 9th birthday in May. Right in the middle of busy season of scouts, softball, dance, school and life. Having a May birthday means fitting the celebrating in around all the events. Planning a party for friends is hard in May. They are all busy too.

We planned to have her party over the summer, but between vacation schedules and team sports there never seemed to be a time that would work. What M really wanted was a sleepover with friends at the lake.

July rolled around and with the swine flu outbreak here, visiting relatives and our own vacation the month flew by and still no party. It seemed like our best bet would be to wait until the next school year started and let her choose friends from her new class. Delay the party until the fall when life is a little calmer and M is not as busy.

What a great idea! Delaying her birthday party to this past weekend allowed her to make even better friends with the girls in her class, to have fun at the lake at time when it's no longer possible to swim at the neighborhood pool, and the weather was still nice enough to enjoy the water and the sand without the heat of July.

M had a fabulous sleepover. M had four friends come over on a recent Friday night and we headed out to the lake for a long sleepover. The girls went swimming right away on Friday night. We planned s'mores, but the weather looked questionable for storms and Nana had made her famous Chocolate Chip Cookies so we decided on Cookie Cake and presents inside.

The girls did makeovers all night tucked away in the "big room" at the lake while watching movies. Far enough away for the parents to not hear everything, but still in the same area to be watched. Green Nail polish, Ruby Red Lips and Lots of Blue Eyeshadow. Let's just say it's great to pretend, but I like clean faced little girls lots more.
Saturday morning the girls were up early and, after a pancake breakfast in the sun room, they were ready to hit the water again. Yes, it was only 62 degrees at the time, but they did not care. We did not join them.

There was swimming, jumping, chasing, and finally a boat ride with a stop at "sand mountain" for sledding and splashing.

The girls were so polite, fun and enthusiastic about the "party at the lake". Even when they were still awake at 2 a.m. I knew we had made a wise decision to delay M's birthday. She had a blast and the party was worth the wait!!

Saturday night, however, the parents might have been a little tired. Guess sleepovers are for the young (or young at heart)!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Church Sign Gets Me Thinking...

My husband went to a funeral today for a former co-worker and said that the most amazing thing was that at no time in the funeral were the words God, Heaven, or Christ ever spoken. No mention of God. No mention of the hope of Heaven. The service was conducted by a "chaplain" at a mortuary and the songs were either Country Music or Elvis tunes.

I was so sad thinking about this later in the afternoon that I couldn't shake the thought that there are too many people in my sphere of influence who could easily have/ attend a service just like this. While I spend the majority of my time with other Christians, it's not like everyone I know is going to heaven.

I told my husband that I might have wanted to get up the middle of the service and scream: "What about Jesus, What About Eternal Life" without those things, what's the point of a funeral. There can be no hope.

I know deep down that I would have just sat in my seat, but oh, I would hope that the spirit would move me to act. Guess that's why my husband left me at home.

I told him at my funeral the will be a huge gospel message, a lot of songs about God's Grace and, of course, the song "Blessed Be Thy Name" so we can evoke a few tears when they sing "He gives and takes away." You see I know that I'll be in heaven. I'll be rejoicing and more than anything, I'll want those around me to join me some day. It will be a huge party.

A Church Sign I saw today cheered me on and really got me thinking about being more an evangelist in my "circle:"

God's Word is Not Math.

You Don't Need to Add or Subtract From It!!

His Word is enough. Enough Said.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We're Now A Five Glasses Family: Why I No Longer Blame the Doc for our $500 Test

A in her new glasses finger paints

Today was a big day for A. She's wearing her first pair of glasses. They are Purple and Adorable with a Purple Pez Case and a snazzy attitude to match.

A few weeks ago, we went in for A's five year old checkup with our pediatrician. Since she's not in kindergarten, this was not a "big" visit, just a yearly exam. Everything checked out great. She's tall and skinny, smart as whistle and she has great reflexes.

I noticed however that he took a little longer than normal looking at her eyes. The lights were out in the room and he looked and looked at the pupils and had her move her eyes right and left.

He told me he thought that she was not seeing the same out of both eyes, that the light was not reflecting the same in both eyes, and that he'd like to do an exam in the hallway and then thought we should go see our Pediatric Optomologist

Yes, we have a pediatric Optomologist and have in fact for 9 years. M was only two weeks old when our pediatrician sent her to a specialist for a droopy eye lid. It was a God thing that we went then because, by the time M was two, she was not seeing so well. Her astigmatism was really bad and she needed glasses. I might have cried a little that day. However, when she came home from picking up the glasses a few days later and looked at a basket of books for over two hours devouring each page, I cried tears of joy. Poor little girl was living in a fuzzy world. She has never complained and wore those adorable blue glasses without a fuss.

So back to last week. Off we went to the Pediatric Eye Specialist. Guess A has a lazy eye. The toughest of all "lazy eyes" to catch. It is the one where her astigmatism in one eye is significantly different than the other. As a result, A's good right eye is working hard to cover her bad left eye. If left as is, the brain would send a signal to the left eye to shut off. Yes, that's right, she'd lose sight in that eye completely.

Our eye doctor said it was a "great catch by our Pediatrician." His thorough exam saved A's eyes.

Guess I can cut him a little slack for ordering the H1N1 test for our son C back in July. A test that originally came back negative and then two days later was positive for Influenza A and then finally for H1N1. C was never really that sick. None of us caught the bug from him. By the time the test was positive, he was back to full strength. Yet, because of it, we were under house arrest on the lookout for symptoms.

How much for the test you ask. Five Hundred dollars. It was a test for nothing but statistical averages. Poor C was hoping that his name would be in the paper at least. Nada.

I'm no longer holding that grudge against our Pediatrician, however. You see that same thoroughness that lead him to order that flu test, made him look twice at A's eyes. That's worth well more than 500 dollars. It's priceless.

I told my husband last week that I was sad for A. Here she has to have ear surgery in October to repair a huge hole inside her ear, left from tubes years ago. This whole that should cause her to have no hearing in the right ear, but by the grace of God she only has 10% loss that should be corrected. Now, she has a left eye that could have been blind. But for the grace of God and great set of doctors, she will probably be stronger than ever. Sad that she has to go through so much, yet grateful that God has place in our lives the right set of doctors to allow all this to be corrected.

What a big God we serve who cares about our eyes and ears. He really does love every inch of us doesn't He!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Boo Mama's Dip Tacular: French Dip Version

I'm so excited to be a part of BooMama's Dip Tacular and share with you my "French Dip Recipe." Now I realize that this is more like a main course meal than and dip for chips and crackers, but it's perfect to serve at your next tailgate or football watching party. Besides, it has "dip" in the name.
It's easy, yummy, and the dip or "au jus" is so tasty that I guess you could serve it solo with some crusty french bread. Of course, we tend to serve it with kaiser rolls or french buns, but it's your party so do whatever works.
This is also the perfect take along dish to a cookout, church pot luck, or family that's just had a baby. The smells that come from the crock pot make your whole home smell like fall.
French Dip
1 (4 to 6 pound) Beef Roast
your choice, the better the cut the juicer the sandwich, but cheap roasts work too.
1 Can French Onion Soup
1 Can Beef Broth ( I buy the lower sodium)
1 Bottle of Beer
Place the roast in crock pot and cover with the ingredients. Cook all day(6 plus hours).
About half way through the cooking process you can take the roast out and slice into smaller chunks, this makes it easier to break up when done.
The au jus in the crock pot can be used directly or you can heat it up on the stove and remove the fat, either way it's great.
Serve on hoagie buns, kaiser rolls whatever bread you fancy.
Leftovers freeze well.
This fun dip is great all Football Season long and the crowd will love it even if your team doesn't win the big game.
For more Dip Tacular recipes check out Boo Mama's site. Go Huskers! Go Longhorns!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gotta Love First Days

It was another "first day" around here. Sure, we've had plenty of first days of school, sports teams, staying home alone, confirmation, new ballet classes etc. We've got plenty more first days ahead such as driving, dating, and college. Dating will of course come after college! Each of these days is special as it represents a new challenge, a new experience, and another step in the process of growing up.

Today was A's first day of Preschool. Her Redshirt Preschool Year. She was psyched. She was ready. We got the new school shoes yesterday and forgoing all previous years, I allowed her to wear them yesterday! Third child, what can I say, I'm slipping.

We picked out the cute dress that perfectly matched the tennis shoes, had the backpack all ready, and I'd made the "poster" for picture time.

Dad was even going into the office late today so that he could be part of the first day drop off. M even got to ride to school first with Dad which is a rarity that got him a huge hug this morning. We were so ahead of our game this morning that we arrived at preschool about 15 minutes early!

By the time it was time to say goodbye, A pretty much left us in the dust. She walked in all confident and happy, found her "spot" on the circle rug, and away we went. I did slip back in to get a picture and say goodbye, but I'm thinking the phrase on her mind was "don't let the door hit you on the way out".

When I picked her up at the end of class and asked how it went, she was bubbly, thrilled and so talkative about all that had gone on. They said the "Pledge," you know the one with the flag, talked about the weather, played outside on the cool playground, practiced cutting with scissors, made a bag for show and tell on Friday, and had a snack.

She made friends with two girls that are twins. She knows their names and thinks that maybe they might have the same birthday! Imagine that, twins born on the same day.

You Gotta Love First Days, So Much Fun!!

Then as an added bonus tonight, she played her new favorite game in the backyard. She plays "catch" with the Frisbee. She acts like a dog and crawls after the Frisbee and brings it back between her teeth. She even wants to be called, "Pumpkin" when she's the dog. I know some would say maybe we should consider a real puppy for the family. My thought is that we have the perfect pet right now and as a bonus, she's potty trained.