Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Memories 1

My cousin graduated from college last weekend.  I am so proud of her and wish I could be there to celebrate with her, however this is not possible.  I do however want her to know how much I have been thinking of her.  You see, I was 14 when she was born and I loved babies.  I felt like I had my own real live baby doll and I wanted to babysit every chance I got.  When I turned 16 and got my license, she was my sidekick.  My uncle and aunt allowed me to take her with me out and about and we had great fun together.  Since she started talking she has called me "Ro," she still does to this day.  At the risk of embarrassing her in a major way, I want to share a favorite memory of her from Christmas time. 
I couldn't find a good picture of the two of us to match this post, but here I am holding her after her baptism.  The 90's were alive and well ~ check out my clothes and hair!

We used to take lots of walks around the neighborhood and we'd talk about what all we saw.  At Christmas one year, she had to be 2 or 3, we were walking when I took her to a house with the light-up nativity in the front yard.  I knew the people who had this, they were church members and knew they wouldn't mind if I brought her into the yard for a closer look.  That became our "thing" that we did together.  Whenever she wanted to go see it she would say, "I want to go pet the baby Jesus, Ro."  So we'd walk to see the nativity and she would go up to baby Jesus and rub his little head and talk to him.  It was so sweet to be a part of that special time as she talked to Jesus and "petted" his head.  That was 20 years ago and as I drove by that same nativity the other night, I thought of that Christmas and how Jesus was becoming real to her at such a young age.  It seems like it was only yesterday and here she is graduating from college.  My how the time does fly! 
I stole this graduation picture from her facebook page.  Hope she doesn't mind!
So proud of you, girlie!!  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Celebrating a Special Lady

Today is a very special day for a very special lady. 

Today is my Mema's birthday. 

She's not just my Mema, but she is also my friend.
Throughout my entire life, she has been there when I needed her and she's been one of my biggest cheerleaders.
When I was born, my mom had some complications and had to go back in the hospital.  Mema took care of me and even tried to sneak me up to the hospital so my mom could see me. 
As a toddler, I would go on walks with Mema and she was patient enough to let me lift every trash can lid while I was looking for Oscar the Grouch.  She read me book after book when I continuously brought them to her.
In elementary school she would come and eat lunch with me and then go out to the playground and actually climb on the jungle gym with me. 
As a teenager, she was a great listener when I wasn't happy with things my parents had said or done and while she tried not to take sides, there were times that she did go to them on my behalf.
When my Grandaddy died I moved in with Mema and we were roommates for several months.  It was a tough time for both of us but I will always cherish those late night chats.
As the oldest grandchild, I have always felt like she and I had a close relationship, one which has only grown now that I have children of my own.  I love watching her with the twins as she has tea parties, takes walks, watches Prince play wii and attends their school functions. 
Happy birthday to my Mema, my friend, and a very beautiful and young great-grandma!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just Call Me McGyver

Yesterday afternoon was not like I had planned ~ and you know I am all about the plan.  I had a to-do list a mile long and as I was checking off one very important thing, picking up my lovelies from school, I came out to find a flat tire.  I tried to call my sister but couldn't get her.  I hated calling Hubby, as he works an hour away, but I needed to talk this through with him.  There was something metal in my tire and I needed to know what he wanted me to do.

Hubby: Can you get air in it and see if it will hold till you get to Sears?
I was contemplating this and wondering where I would get air in the school parking lot.  Then I remembered that Hubby took the car-powered compressor out of his truck the other night and it was put back in my car.  Put air in the tire ~ CHECK!
The air was coming right back out of the hole made by this metal tube thing.  Meanwhile, Princess is squatting down next to me saying, "Mom, I think we have an oil leak.  Do you see that stuff dripping from the car?  It's oil."
"No, we don't.  It's from the a/c.  It's supposed to do that."
"No Mom, I think it's oil." 
Whatever Princess, I can only do one thing at a time.
As I was discussing this with Hubby, we both came to the same idea at the same time.  I chewed a piece of gum and stuck it on the hole.  It would hopefully hold until I could get to the store.  Princess had to offer her two cents worth, "Gross Mom, the tire people are going to have to touch that gum that was in your mouth to fix the tire!"  Did I mention that by this time it was raining?

Here is the gum I stuck on the tire.

I quickly loaded the kids back in the car with a quick prayer that we would make it 3 miles to Sears to get this tire fixed.  As we were driving there, Princess and I started singing:

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

At some point in the afternoon Prince said, "This is the worst day ever."  It could have been, but there were so many things that went right about this situation.  The compressor that doesn't live in my car, was put in my car and for some reason left there.  We weren't on the road when the tire went flat.  I found it that way in their school parking lot.  The rain held off long enough that I wasn't standing in a downpour while I put air in the tire.  I was able to make it to the store without stopping and we have their road hazard plan so they fixed it for free.  Just the night before I had been riding on the interstate and it was late, dark, and the roads were wet.  It didn't happen then.  God had His hands all in this.  Yes, it was an inconvenience, but it was manageable.  After talking to Prince and Princess about this, Prince said, "You're right Mom.  We are really blessed." 
These little inconveniences can really serve as wake-up calls that God is in the small stuff and He covers us with a hedge of protection each day if we will ask Him to be there.  I know that He was with my every step of the way and the Holy Spirit worked in my soul to keep me calm and help me to solve the problem.

And now for your listening pleasure, This Is The Stuff

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Away in a Manger

These are two of my favorite Christmas pictures of Prince and Princess.  They were taken when they were just 2 years old.  Hubby's office was in the alumni house (the old president's house) when we lived in Georgia and it was a gorgeous building.  We took Prince and Princess up there one weekend to take Christmas pictures of them in their outfits.  These were actually not the posed shots, but candids while Hubby was getting ready to pose them.  Prince is holding his Fisher Price baby Jesus from their little Fisher Price nativity set.  They both loved to play with the nativity pieces ~ they still do ~ and especially to carry around baby Jesus. 

Once I heard of someone who said they didn't put baby Jesus in their nativity until Christmas.  They said that it helped them to be mindful of the meaning of advent, the waiting for baby Jesus to arrive.  I have thought a lot about that over the years since I first heard it.  I think it's a creative way to illustrate the waiting for our Savior's birth, but I could never do it.  It isn't that I can't wait until Christmas or can't stand the anticipation.  I couldn't do it because I want to look at the baby Jesus as long as I can.  I want to see that baby and remember him, that He is the reason for this season, that He came to save me from my sin.  I have nativities in many rooms of my house and I like it that way.  I like being able to keep my focus on Jesus and to have that visual reminder that my Christmas trees are beautiful and the presents are plentiful, but that the real gift is found in this tiny babe that was born 2,000 years ago who came for me.  When I look at these pictures I think they illustrate what I want my kids to grow up with ~ a hands-on approach in their relationship with Christ and the constant reminder that Jesus is Christmas.  That tiny baby in the hay is love, and he loved us enough to be born human and then to sacrifice his life for our sins, dying on the cross for me, for them, for you.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Devotional Idea

When I was little, one of my favorite parts of advent was when we were in church and families would come up and light the advent wreath.  I especially loved it on the few ocassions that my family was asked to read and light a candle.  Many moons ago before Hubby and I married, I bought my own advent wreath and it has been a part of our Christmas tradition in our home ever since.  We keep it in the middle of our dining room table and have devotionals while lighting the candles and discussing what Christmas is really about.  Yesterday's advent devotional had a really great idea in it and Princess loved it so much that she has latched on and decided on a new tradition.

Yesterday we lit the candle of joy.  We talked about how even though Mary had every reason to be afraid, she expressed joy in God's favor.  The angels comforted the frightened shephers with joy of good news.  And that the joy we find isn't in our circumstances, but in our relationship with God in Christ. 
The suggestion at the end of the devotional was that whenever you turn on your Christmas tree lights say, "Christ is welcome in this home," or "Jesus, the light of the world, the joy of our hearts."  As I was tucking Princess into bed last night I noted that she had turned on her Christmas tree on her dresser and she immediately said, "Yes, but I need to turn it off and do it again."  When I asked why she said that she had forgotten to say something when she did it.  So she hopped up, unplugged her tree and plugged it in again saying, "Christ is welcome in this home." 

I agree with Princess.  I really like this and I think we'll adopt it as a new tradition, a reminder that Christ is indeed welcome in our home and also that Jesus is the light of the world and the joy of our hearts.  Praise be to God!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Christmas Time in the City

Last night was our city's Christmas Parade.  It wasn't a holiday parade, it was clearly called the city's Christmas Parade.  Our church had a float that my dad spent quite a bit of time decorating and he pulled it with his truck.  It was great fun to ride on the float and wave to people.  I was in many a parade back in my teenage days when I was in the band, but this is different.  In band, I was concentrating on playing my clarinet or being drum major and keeping everyone together and in step, etc.  This was different because it's low pressure.  I want to share a couple of things that I thought of while riding down the street last night.

1.  Everyone dropped the political correctness and there was an ease as people shouted "Merry Christmas!"  They weren't afraid of offending anyone, they were truly joyful as they said it.
2.  You can tell a lot about people by looking into their eyes.  I saw a lot of people that I didn't know as we rode through the parade route and I tried to establish eye contact with as many people as I could.  As I did, I offered a warm "Merry Christmas," but I also prayed for each individual.  There were people there that I could tell had a lot going on in their lives.  They were trying to enjoy being in the moment, but you could see there was a story behind their eyes.  Haven't you ever plastered on the fake smile in an attempt to forget about your worries and problems?  I know I have and I witnessed others doing so last night.  It was my privilege to go to the Lord on their behalf and ask that He work in their lives. 
3.  I spotted the sweetest baby in the crowd.  His dad was holding him and sitting on the curb.  I'm not sure how old he was, maybe 3 or 4 months old, but he was just watching the lights and taking it all in and just so quiet.  But I noticed his eyes and the innocence and I thought about baby Jesus, the reason we celebrate Christmas.  I thought about how if Jesus came as a baby today, Joseph might have taken him to a parade and spent time in other activities that we do each day.  One of the most extraordinary things about Jesus was that he came in an ordinary way, as a baby and I'm sure Mary changed her share of dirty diapers and sang her share of lullabys for a fussy baby. 

It was a great time and the positive energy from the crowd as well as those in the parade made it a wonderful evening.  We came home and drank hot chocolate and watched a family movie together.
I'm so glad we were a part of the Christmas Parade and as I meet others in the stores or anywhere else I go, I will continue to say Merry Christmas, for truly it is the Christmas season and I make no apologies for that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Covet

A few days ago Prince, Princess and I were in the grocery store.  We were walking along and Prince begins telling me about a spy kit he wants for Christmas.  I was in the zone, trying to think of what else I needed to get as he is talking about this really cool toy he wants.  I will admit that I was half listening when Princess mentioned that she wanted one too and did I think she could get one for Christmas too.  Below is the conversation as it took place.  I can't make this stuff up ~
Princess: Mommy, do you think I could get that too? 
Me:  I don't know if we need two of them in our house.  Don't you think one is plenty and you can share?
Princess: Listen Mommy, I need to tell you something.  Do you know what coveting is?
Me: Yes, I know what coveting is.  Do you know what it is?
Princess:  Coveting is wanting what your neighbor has and we've been learning about it in school and it's a sin.
Me:  That's right.
Princess: So if Prince gets the spy thing and I don't get one I might covet what he has and that would be bad but if you will go ahead and just buy me one then I won't want it cause I'll already have it.  See?  Then I won't have to covet.

I think I'm in trouble.  We send her to a Christian school to learn the Bible and she's definitely doing that, but this child is smarter and has more angles than I could ever think of. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Cups ~ Book Review

I told you I have been reading a lot lately.  While I love to read, reading seems to come in cycles...whether or not I have the time, make the time or am into something really interesting.  Lately I have read a string of really good books and this one is no exception. 

I was excited to have the opportunity to read and review Three Cups by Tony Townsley with Mark St. Germain.  It is actually a children's book and I had seen it in a store a while back and made a note that I wanted to buy it.  Then I got into whatever it was I was into and forgot about it.  When it popped up as a choice to review, I jumped at the chance.

Three Cups is a story about a boy who received three cups from his parents, who promised this was the beginning of an adventure.  The three cups are used to teach him about how to manage his money.  One cup was used for saving money, one cup was used for spending money, and the third cup was used for money to give back to others.  Each week when upon receiving his allowance, the boy would divide his money out into the three cups.  This set a pattern for how he would manage his money throughout life. 

One of the reasons I liked this book was that we have been doing this with our children for several years now, and here is the story.  When Hubby and I went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University this was one of the suggestions he made.  Our children receive commission for jobs they complete around the house.  When payday comes, they each have 3 jars labeled "Spend," "Save," and "Give."  This system has worked well for us and has taught our children the value of saving money and seeing it add up so they can buy something they really want, instead of piddling it away and having nothing to show for it. (Although they do have a little bit of money they can spend however they want)  Additionally, they have learned that they can take their "Give" money and really do something with it for someone else.  Sometimes they give it to church, last Christmas they each bought a toy for a toy drive.  There is no set formula for how much goes into which jar, you decide what works for your child.  I would highly recommend this book as a conversation starter for parents and children to discuss money and how to use it responsibly.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I'm back at the Wednesday Hodgepodge!  A huge thanks to Joyce, who never takes a break from the hodgepodge and provides us with questions each week.  Go see her HERE and link up your answers too!
1. Who taught you how to cook?

My mom taught me how to cook, but I never really appreciated it until I got married.  I now take great pride in making things from scratch, just like my mom and especially pulling out old family favorite recipes.  I also have learned a lot from watching the Food Network.

2. Have you been told you think too much? Are too much of a perfectionist? Are too sensitive? Were they right?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  Wow, you hit a lot of touchy subjects with this question, Joyce!  These are things I don't particularly like to talk about, but yes they are all true of me. 

3. As a child did you have a favorite blanket or toy? Tell about it.
One year as Christmas was getting closer, I went shopping with my Mema and we went into the local Toy King in the mall.  There was a doll in there that I just loved and I really wanted her, but she cost $80, which was an insane amount in those days (it's an insane amount these days!)  This doll was really special be cause she was a life-size baby, probably as big as a 6 month old, and she would suck her finger or her pacifier and she cried and opened and closed her eyes.  For the 80's, this was big stuff.  The problem was in the price tag.  I knew I would never get that doll unless Santa brought her.  Christmas morning came and I was so excited to go see what Santa brought.  I got some nice things, but I didn't get the doll.  I tried not to show my disappointment as I opened the presents from my parents.  Later, we went to Mema and Grandaddy's house to open presents.  I opened a couple of presents, clothes I think, and that was that.  After everyone had opened everything, Mema said that she had forgotten to put one of the presents out.  I figured it was for my parents or uncle or someone.  Out she came with a present for me, and it was the doll I wanted.  I named her Mary Geraldine after Mary and Gerald, my grandparents. 
4. What 'institution' do you have the most faith in?
The institution of marriage.  Two people who are in love and committed to each other are a force to be reckoned with.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV

5. Chrysanthemums-pansies-burning bush-ornamental cabbage...your favorite in an autumn garden?
I just love pansies.  I can see their little faces just like in Disney's Alice in Wonderland.

6. What superpower do the kids in your neighborhood seem to posses?
The teenagers in my neighborhood seem to think they have some sort of protective force field about them that allows them to walk in the middle of the street and think that if a car is coming they won't get run over.  They don't move to the side of the road, they simply continue to amble on down the road carrying on whatever oh so important conversation they are having.  You have to slow down and get right up behind them before they will move.  These are the same kids that speed down the street at 50 mph while mine are outside playing. (Wow, I sound like an old grouchy person!)

7. Are you a fan of the cranberry?
I do like cranberry very much.  I don't however care for cranberry scented things like candles.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
For the month of November I am counting my blessings, becoming more aware of the many things I take for granted each day.  I am posting what I am thankful for on my facebook wall.  I invite you to do the same, or to keep a thankful journal.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Heaven Is For Real for Kids ~ A Book Review

Heaven is For Real for Kids, by Colton Burpo and his parents tells about Colton's trip to heaven and back on a child's level.  In the For Kids version of the book, Colton explains in "kid language" what happened to him and what he saw when he went to heaven.  Colton's underlying message in this book is that "Jesus really, really loves children!"

I read the original "Heaven is For Real" several months ago and couldn't put the book down.  When I saw there was a version for kids, I was intrigued.  The kid version begins with a letter to parents and grandparents, telling us what to expect in this book.  There are a few differences in this book than in the original book because Colton has so many memories that they couldn't all be written in just one book.  There are two things that I really like about this book.  One is that there are illustrations in this book to go with the story.  Colton oversaw the illustrations so they could be as accurate as possible according to his memories of what he saw and experienced in heaven.  The other thing I love is that the scripture references that match each description are printed at the end of each section.  It was a great read and I can't wait to read it with my own children and to discuss with them and get their impressions.  At the very end of the book is a question and answer section about heaven. 

I highly recommend this book to parents and would recommend that you read it first for yourself to be able to process it before discussing with your children. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Stained Glass Hearts ~ A Book Review

I have enjoyed Patsy Clairmont since I attended my first Women of Faith Conference many moons ago. She is a funny lady with a quick wit and I just enjoy listening to her and reading her books. 

Stained Glass Hearts, Seeing Life From A Broken Perspective was an honest look into Clairmont's life and some of the struggles she has had and her road to healing. The book is divided into 13 chapters, each on their own topic, yet strung together by the stained-glass or mosaic theme. I felt like I was sitting with a dear friend as I read. Clairmont says it well when she says "All God's people have glass hearts," reminding us that we all are broken in some way and we all are in need of healing. I liked the recommendations at the end of each chapter for art, music, etc. I would recommend this book to women of all ages.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

This Is The Stuff

A horrible, nasty stomach bug came to visit our house just in time for the weekend.  Late in the night Friday night, Prince got sick in bed.  Hubby slept through most of it, although he did wake up just in time for me to finish getting everything cleaned up.  (How convenient for him ~ he honestly did sleep through it though)  Poor Prince, I can't tell you when the last time he had a stomach bug was, but I'm pretty sure it's been a couple of years.  He just doesn't get that kind of sick very often.  Prince and I were up most of the night together.  I think the only hour on the clock I didn't see was 4 and believe me, I thanked God for that small blessing of getting at least an hour and a half of straight sleep.  Saturday night was uneventful and we thought we were out of the woods until Sunday morning early when Prince was again sick.  Princess got it Sunday night and Hubby got it Monday morning.  I've had a grand time spraying Lysol on everything, keeping up with dirty laundry and dishes, and doing it all myself.  Let's just say that this Mama is tired. 
This morning I may or may not have snapped back at Hubby when he grumped at me.  I also may or may not have started feeling a bit resentful that I've been single-handedly taking care of all of this sickness while everyone else was getting the rest they needed and being waited on hand and foot.  I may have gotten a bit agitated when Princess said she couldn't find socks this morning that were right in her drawer, matched up and ready to go.  Yes, it was one of those mornings.  Yet as I was rushing to get myself ready after making sure everyone had what they needed, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  I'm not sure where it came from, except for His prompting, but I started to sing "Change my heart oh God, make it ever true.  Change my heart oh God, may I be like you."  As I sang, I started to calm down a little, but felt this small voice inside of me saying, "You aren't really feeling it, keep singing."  So I did, again and again.  I sang it as I drove the kids to school and on my way to work.  
I began to think about how this is the life I always wanted ~ the life I chose.  I always wanted to be a wife and a mommy and to take care of my family.  In sickness and in health isn't always easy.  In fact, I think that one is harder than for richer or poorer.  The point is, when you think and dream about having a family of your own, it seems wonderful and magical and everything will be like the Cleavers.  But life is messy and reality sets in and I realize that this is exactly what I signed up for.  I also realize that the change must come from my own heart.  I am grateful that my Hubby is involved and helps me with the kids when he gets home from work.  On these difficult days, it seems even more difficult because I am used to having help.  I am thankful for the help he does offer because doing this alone day in and day out would get really old.  I am thankful that Hubby comes home to me at night and that he likes being with us, thankful that I can create a home environment where he's comfortable.  I am thankful for those snuggles on the couch when the Prince and Princess are feeling bad, thankful that I am the one they want and that I can be their mommy.  That is what makes it worth it all.   
You've probably figured out by now that God uses music to speak to me ~ a lot.  When I hear a song I remember it and can usually retrieve its message in my brain for years to come.  Here's a good one that also came to mind this morning.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


When I was a little girl I used to get homesick when I would spend the night away from home.  I was fine right up until bedtime and then I would start to miss my bed and my room and my parents and all of those familiar things that made me feel comfortable and secure.

Lately I've been reminded of that feeling of homesickness by my sweet Prince.  It started last Sunday when church was just about to begin and he leaned over to me and asked, "Mom, when is Jesus coming back to earth?"  Of course my response was, "I don't know."  To which Prince responded, "But Mom, I really miss him and I want to see him.  I haven't seen Jesus in a very long time and he promised he would come back!"  I love the timing of all of this because by this time worship has begun and I am trying to deal with this very important topic with my sweet Prince, yet still not disturb everyone around us.  "I know darlin' but the Bible says that no one knows the day or the hour that Jesus will come back except for God.  He's coming back some day, we just don't know when.  That's why we have to be ready." 
We've had this same discussion several times this past week.  Prince is anxious to see Jesus face to face and as he has already told me, he hasn't "seen Jesus since he was a baby in heaven before he was born."  OK, can I just say "Wow" to that? 

This whole discussion has me thinking about how homesick I am as well.  I used to hear other people say that and I didn't understand what that really meant but as I look around and see all that is going on in our world, I too, find myself feeling a bit homesick.  I can't wait for that day when I can sit at Jesus' feet and ask him all of the questions I've been pondering for so long.  Until then, I know that Jesus walks beside me every day, my constant companion and friend.  I'm reminded of the song I sang to Prince from the time he was struggling to live in the NICU:
Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion,
My constand friend is he
For his eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watched me. 

I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free
His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

So until that day comes, I will watch and pray and remember Jesus words:
"In my Father's house are many mansions. if it were not so, I would have told you. I go and prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."        John 14:2-3

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Christmas Potato ~ A Must Read

Charlie is looking forward to Christmas vacation and he has big plans.  The chores his mom asks him to do are not exactly what he had in mind.  However, as Charlie does what is asked of him he begins to realize what is important to him: spending time with family and helping to do his share around the house. 
I can't wait to read this story to my children this Christmas season. 

Paula Schlegel is a talented storyteller and I love the way she incorporates Jesus and Santa in the same story...it doesn't have to be either/or.  Finally a story that includes our Christmas traditions along with Jesus' birthday. 

The Christmas Potato would be an excellent addition to your Christmas story repertoire at bedtime or as a stocking stuffer gift.  I highly recommend you order your copy of The Christmas Potato now before the Christmas season...it will be here before you know it!  You can buy your copy of The Christmas Potato at http://www.amazon.com/ or email Paula at paula.schlegel@yahoo.com .  Also, don't forget to "Like" The Christmas Potato on facebook ~ you can also see view a trailer of the book https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Christmas-Potato/115004548561758?v=app_6009294086&ref=sgm#!/pages/The-Christmas-Potato/115004548561758?sk=wall

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where We've Been and What We've Been Doing

I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post!  It's been a busy time and while I have thought a lot about blogging and posts I would like to write, I have been thinking a lot about these two little people:

More specifically, I've been thinking about how these little people are growing up really fast and I want to enjoy each moment I have nurturing them, getting to know what is inside their little heads and hearts, snuggling up on the couch with a book with them...these are the things I remember about my own childhood.  I remember that my parents took time with me.  A few of the things we have been doing ~

~Reading.  Lots and lots of reading.  Now that they have learned to read, they want to read everything they can get their hands on.  Because I love books so much, I am thrilled to snuggle up with a book and take turns reading with them. 

~Learning to ride without training wheels.  This time last year I took the training wheels off of their bikes.  I thought this would provide motivation for them to learn to ride without them.  They begged me to put the training wheels back on and I wouldn't do it.  I told them they were big enough to learn to ride without them.  They staged a revolt and refused to pick up their bicycles, instead opting for their scooters or some other outside activity.  Finally they decided they wanted to learn to ride their bicycles.  They have skinned up knees and elbows and Princess has bruises all over her legs from falling, but they can ride!  It was a glorious week last week when they both found their confidence.  It also took a bit of motivation from Grandma and Grandaddy.  Somehow if Grandma and Grandaddy tell them they can do it, it's more believable.  Whatever it takes...I'm glad of two things: 1.  They can now ride their bikes and  2. That they have such a great relationship with their grandparents.
Here is a sweet picture of Prince trying to help Princess ride her bike.  He was running behind her, holding onto the seat, trying to help her stay on her bike.  They are so sweet with each other, helping one another in whatever they need. 
~ We went to the zoo.  I got a great deal on annual zoo passes on Groupon.  This was a great way to spend some family time together.

Princess is such an animal lover!  She thought this was really cool.

I was surprised at how much Prince enjoyed this, but he did. 

~ Last weekend we took the kids camping for the first time.  We were invited by some friends to go tent camping, which Hubby and I haven't done since before the kids were born. Hubby and I were a little unsure of how this would go because it has been so long since we've camped, but our wonderful friends took the lead and brought things we had forgotten to bring and we really enjoyed it.  One of the things we did on our camping trip was to go canoeing.  Hubby nor I had been in a canoe in over 15 years.  It was an adventure to say the least and we made an important discovery about our marriage in the process.  When our friend suggested getting canoes, Hubby was very unsure.  He didn't think this was going to be a good thing with trying to manage the kids and all.  I was very excited and told him how great it would be and the kids would love it and yes we should definitely do this.  So Hubby decided that it was OK and he paid for the canoe rental.  As we are getting into the canoes, I am in the front, Prince behind me, then Princess and Hubby in the back.  Suddenly, I'm not so sure that we made a wise choice.  As the canoe is rocking back and forth because Prince won't sit still, I am thinking more and more I that used bad judgement and this wasn't going to be a good experience.  Hubby, on the other hand had been convinced (by me no less!) that this was a great idea and we would have a fun time.  It was his turn to talk me into it now.  I'm great with the anticipation of new experiences and have to talk him into things and then when the rubber meets the road we switch and he has to talk me up.  It all ended fine and we had a good time overall, but allow me to share with you some of the conversations in the canoe.
Me: Prince, be still!  You are rocking the boat and I don't want to tip over.
Prince: But Mom, I just want to see in the water. 
Me: Be still!
Princess (wailing): I'm afraid an alligator is going to get me.  Let's go back! I'm not having fun!
Hubby: Honey, you've got to put the paddle deeper into the water than that.  No, on the other side of the boat.
Me: Prince, if you tip this boat over, so help me...
Prince: But I'm trying to be still!  I can't help it!
Princess: Where are the alligators?  They're going to eat us!  Can we go back now?
Hubby: Honey, don't hit the side of the boat with the paddle.  No, paddle on the other side, we're going to go into the weeds if you keep on.
Prince: What happens if all God's children fall out of the boat and sink?  Will they die?  Will we die?  Hey, why did God make our bodies where we'll die?  How come we don't live forever?  When we die and go to heaven, then what?  If everyone on earth dies will God make a new planet with people on it?  How come our souls last forever but our bodies don't?
Me: Prince, just look at the pretty water and plants that God made for us.  Let's enjoy what God gave us now and talk about the other later. 
Princess: So, how about we go back now?  Don't you think that's a good idea?  Do you see any alligators?
Hubby: No, paddle closer to the boat than that.
Me: But you told me not to hit the side of the boat.
Hubby: Yeah, but now you aren't paddling close enough.  Watch me (as if I can turn myself around in the canoe to see how he's paddling.  I'm too scared we'll tip over!)

In spite of it all, we did finally all relax and we were able to enjoy working together as a team and seeing the beautiful springs and the animals.  Thankfully we didn't see any alligators or Princess would have come unglued, but we did see two otters fighting over a branch, turtles, fish, and lots of pretty birds. 
This picture was taken after we got back.

So there you have it.  That's where we've been and what we've been doing.  God has been working on my heart about a few things and I'll share those in later posts.  Be blessed!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Heaven's Newest Alto

Today my heart is sad and a little bit heavy.  A friend from church who has been in declining health went to be with Jesus last night.  While I am happy for her and I know that her body is now whole, I am sad for what we lost here on this earth.  Carole was involved in the children's music ministry, playing piano for our children's choir when I was in it and we played handbells together.  She was also in the adult choir and when I was invited to come sing with them as a teenager, she took me under her wing and she taught be how to sing alto.  I was by far the youngest in the choir and I was a bit intimidated when I first joined, but she took care of me.  I wasn't sure I could sing alto, but she told me I could and would turn and sing extra loud toward my ear so I could hear the part.  In fact, she sat be between herself and her good friend, splitting the two of them up so that I could sit between the two strongest voices and learn.  Before long, I did learn and it was such a joy to sing with them.  She couldn't stand still when she sang and I loved that about her.  She always sang with such enthusiasm.  As we sat together, we developed a special bond that lasted for many years.  I began to talk to her about things going on in my world.  I told her about boys I liked, what was going on in school, and the like.  She never treated me like I was some silly kid or acted like my teenage drama was insignificant.  She always really listened to me and I loved that about her.  She listened to the on again, off again high school drama with Hubby and offered advice.  Years later when I told her we were going to be married she wasn't surprised.  I'm pretty sure I got an "I told you so."  As I sit here and I cry, I know these are selfish tears.  I know that heaven has a new choir member and she's singin' alto.  I can see her foot tapping and her body just a dancing as she sings.  I just miss those special times we had together and I am so blessed that she has been such a special part of my life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Hodgepodge

It's Hodgepodge Wednesday!  If it weren't for Joyce and the hodgepodge lately I wouldn't even have a blog.  I've really fallen down on the posting lately.  Anyway, go see Joyce and link up with your own answers.  But first, read mine!

1. Do you like chili? Red or white? Beans or no beans? Spice or no spice? Toppings?

Yes, in fact I have been craving chili lately.  I like both red and white, but prefer red with beans and a little bit of spice, but not over the top hot.  I like to put shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream on mine.  Sometimes I like to eat chili over rice.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it. 

2. Red~Orange~Gold...your favorite fall color?

It hasn't always been this way, but I think orange is my favorite fall color.  I really like all of the colors of fall, but Hubby's favorite color is orange and it has definitely grown on me. 

When we were first married,  I decorated our home for each of the holidays.  That first fall came around and I put silk fall leaves around the house and leaf garland on the mantle of the fireplace.  Hubby did not understand this at all.  He went to work one day and told his boss, the university president, what I had been doing.  The President had an early childhood background and he said just said, "She's a teacher.  That's what they do."

3. Who did you idolize when you were growing up?
I really looked up to my pastors.  When I was really small, we had a lady pastor, Patty, and I really looked up to her.  When she would pronounce the benedication she let me go stand with her.  Then when I went home I used to pretend to be her, with my own benedictions, baptizing my sister, and singing the Doxology while holding "offering plates."  Other pastors who came along were also among my favorite people.

4. When was the last time you did something 'arts and craftsy'? Share please.
I'm trying to work on decorating doors for my kids' first grade classes.  Each class has a theme for their fundraiser that is coming up and I am working on getting both classes' doors ready to go up.  Pictures will come later, I'm sure.

5. What's a place that makes you really nervous?
Going to the doctor or dentist.  I've spent enough time in doctor offices and hospitals over the past several years, that I really don't like to go there.  The smell makes me nauseous.  I think the worst part of it though is when they call you back into the little room and you have to wait for what seems like an eternity for the doctor to come in.

6. Horse back riding...yay or nay (neigh?)
Never been so I don't really know. 

7. What is your favorite cliche?
There are so many that I use... I find myself telling my kids that I feel like a broken record just like my parents told me when I was a kid.  The difference is that I knew what a record was.  My kids have no clue.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
It has finally happened.  I knew it would happen sooner or later and it did.  We've been in school for 6 weeks and I have caught some kind of virus from the kiddos.  Praying that I feel better soon, because it's the pits!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Hodgepodge

It's time for the Wednesday Hodgepodge again!  This week I'm on the right day.  Go see Joyce and link up with us! 

1. What do you do at the first sign of a cold? Will you get a flu shot this year?

At the first sign of a cold I start with the orange juice and airborne.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  I don't get sick with that kind of stuff often, but since my immune system is compromised with Crohn's, when I do get it, it takes me a long time to get over it.  I get a flu shot every year.

2. What advice can you give about how to conquer fear?

I used to be a very fearful person.  I grew up afraid of everything and it kept me from doing things that I have since found out were fun.  The idea of driving on the interstate terrified me for a while in college.  Not so fun fact: I've never flown on an airplane because I was always afraid to fly.  In the last 7 years I have been close to death twice.  When the twins were born I had HELLP syndrome and I went into acute renal failure and my body began to shut down.  Not quite two years later I had a doctor at Mayo Clinic telling me that because of my Crohn's, if I didn't have surgery within the next month, I would die from malnutrition.  Those were both times when I could have been afraid.  I probably should have been afraid.  I wasn't afraid.  I discovered that I wasn't afraid to die because I knew where I would go.  Now that I'm not afraid, there are 1001 things on my list to do.  Flying is one of them, just got to figure out where to go for my first flight ~ and how to afford it with all four of us going.

3. Share two good things about your life right now.
I have a husband and kids who love me no matter what and I am able to work in ministry that I feel passionately about.

4. A hot fall fashion trend in 2011 is a return to sixties style...tunics with pants, shift dresses, pencil skirts, cinched waists, bold prints, high necklines and short lengths to name a few. How does this fashion trend fit with your wardrobe and personal sense of style?

Lately I have tried to regain a sense of style.  Since becoming a Mom, my style has been more blue jeans and a top.

5. Were you involved in scouting as a kid? How about as an adult?

I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout as a kid and I have many fond memories from camping and doing things with my friends.  We haven't gotten involved with scouting with the twins yet.
6. Apple, pear, plum, pumpkin...your favorite fall flavor?

Pumpkin in the fall...yummy!  Last year I discovered that Dunkin' Donuts had pumpkin donuts and that was definitely a bad thing.  I'm trying to steer clear of that place this year because once I have one, I'll be coming back for more.  Speaking of pumpkin, isn't that a cute little punkin in the picture?  He went through a stage where he thought he was smiling for a picture when he made that face.
7. What characteristics do you think are essential in a good teacher?
A love for children, flexibility, understanding, and the ability to think outside of the box.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Monday was a day off of work for me, but the kiddos still had school.  I was able to go visit some dear friends of mine that live about an hour and a half away.  He was my pastor for a lot of my growing up years and they were both spiritual mentors for me...they continue to be.  It was a great visit and as much as they wanted to see the kids too, it was nice that I got time alone with them. 

Here they are last year with my kids.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Belated Hodgepodge

It's not Wednesday, it's Friday and I can't believe how quickly this week has flown by.  I started my hodgepodge answers on Wednesday morning but have been so slammed this week, that I haven't had a chance to post.  So here are my belated hodgepodge answers.

1. What is one piece of advice you would give a 'just turning' 21- year old adult?
I like the line from John Lennon "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."  You can't plan everything that happens to you, so roll with the punches and enjoy the journey.  Wow ~ I wish I was that smart at 21 or heck even now at 36.  I'm a work in progress, what can I say?

2. Besides cooler weather (or warmer weather, depending on your hemisphere) what is one thing you are looking forward to this fall?
I'm looking forward to less humidity.  Also, I love all of the fun activities in the fall ~ the festivals, going on picnics, just enjoying the nicer weather outside.

3. What sound lulls you to sleep?
I love falling asleep to the sound of a thunderstorm or the beach waves.  Those are my two favorites and for a while Hubby was playing those relaxation CDs at bedtime and boy was it working.  I really don't have much trouble getting to sleep, as soon as I get still and my head hits the pillow, I'm out.  However, it is hard for me to stay asleep all night.

4. September is National Preparedness Month...does your family have an emergency 'kit' and/or disaster plan in place?
Yes, we have a hurricane kit but I think we probably need to check the supplies and be sure we have everything we need. 

5. How has your blog changed since you started blogging? Or has it?
I have learned to not put so much pressure on myself for topics, they come as they are ready to come.  I have also learned that some of my struggles, such as coming up with a title are the same struggles that others have as well.

6. What's something you've recently learned to do on the computer?
I can't think of something I have learned recently, but I want to learn how to do more photo editing.  There is so much about Photoshop that I don't know how to do yet.

7. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.
Sometimes, although I tend to be a bit wordy and feel everything needs an explanation.  However, there are pictures that I think speak for themselves.

Just a couple of my favorites.

8. Insert your own random here.

It's been birthday week around our house.  My birthday was Tuesday and it was such a great day.  Princess had an orthodontist appointment for a consultation in another town and Hubby was taking the day off to go with us.  So we decided to take Prince out of school for the day and we all played hookie for my birthday.  We never do this, but we also know that every once in a while it is important to take family time and things worked out so we could.  After Princess' appointment, they took me to lunch at Olive Garden.
I had to take a picture with my babies.

This one was Princess' idea.  She wanted to show that she loves me.

When we got home, Hubby let me have some quiet time to myself.  He had gone to the grocery store and got ribeyes and potatoes for dinner.  He washed the china and set the table.

He spoils me and I love it.

We had butternut squash soup, which was so yummy!  It really put me in the mood for fall to be here.

The pretty flowers he bought me.

Candlelight dinner complete with champagne.

I can't get this picture to turn, but here's the cake...from Publix...so delicious!

Hubby also did great in the gift department, but I won't go into all of that.  Just wanted to stop and recognize how incredibly blessed I am.  Hubby and the kids spoiled me and it felt good.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

It Couldn't Just Happen ~ A Book Review

It Couldn't Just Happen: Knowing the Truth About God's Awesome Creation is a book that is geared for older children to answer questions about the creation of the world from a Christian perspective.  Children today are bombarded with a lot information that may or may not be true about the creation of the world and in his book, Richards addresses questions and false information from a biblical view.  Some of the questions he addresses are:
"Did Earth begin with a 'Big Bang' cosmic explosion?"
"Does science contradict the Bible?"
"What happened to dinosaurs?"
"Is there life on other planets?"
"Did we evolve from apes?"
"What makes my body work on its own?"

I enjoyed reading this book and getting a taste for issues to come with my own children.  I think this book is geared more for upper elementary or middle school aged children.  I was hoping this book might provide conversation starters for my own children, but I don't think they are quite ready for the content of this book, as some of the information is technical and a bit dry for younger readers.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Laboring through Labor Day Weekend

This weekend we took a trip to the in-laws.  The in-laws live in the middle of no-wheresville and have lots of land.  My father-in-law loves to grow stuff on this land and we are recruited to come and visit  provide manual labor when it is time to harvest.  Friday night we drove the 4 hours up to no-wheresville and didn't get in until 11:00.  Saturday morning we were up and working by 8:00.  This weekend's task: picking off peanuts, boiling the peanuts and bagging the peanuts to be frozen.

If you've never seen how peanuts grow, they grow under the ground.  Here is a pile of peanut plants that my darling Hubby pulled up and stacked for me to pick off.
Here are Prince and his cousin, picking off peanuts.

Princess is proud of the peanuts she picked off the vines.
After we picked the peanuts off, they were rinsed in buckets and then put in big pots to be boiled. 
I had a very important job in between picking the peanuts.  My father-in-law assigned me the duty of tasting the peanuts to see if they were done.  So every so often I had to pull myself away from my pile of peanut plants and do the quality taste testing.  This was really a tough job, but somebody had to do it.  After the peanuts were done to my satisfaction, we drained them and I put them in ziploc bags to put up in the freezer.  At the end of the day we had picked, boiled and bagged 71 gallons of boiled peanuts.  We were so exhausted, but the peanuts are so delicious!  In fact, when we got home last night I wanted boiled peanuts for dinner last night. 

This morning Hubby took me to the beach.  We sat out on the beach and relaxed while we watched the kids play in the sand.  I didn't let them in the water for all of the jellyfish that were stinging people left and right.  It was a mostly peaceful time at the beach.
There's nothing like the feeling of sand between my toes.  Ahhhh!

For our family, Labor Day weekend is usually when we celebrate the fact that my mom quite literally was in labor...with me.  36 years ago tomorrow, I made my entrance into this world. 

This afternoon my mom and dad made steak fajitas (my request) for my birthday dinner.  My mom made a delicious homemade carrot cake and we taught my sister and brother-in-law how to play our new favorite game, The Settlers of Catan.  We are addicted and my mom asks probably once a week when we can come over to their house to play Catan.  If you've never played it and you like strategy games, you'll love this one!  Hubby bought me the American History Trails to Rails game but we haven't had a chance to play that one yet.

So it's been a busy, but fun weekend and I am feeling incredibly blessed.  Given all I've been through with my health, I count each candle on my cake as a gift from God.  I serve a great God and I am so thankful for what He has done in my life.  When I was in ICU after the babies were born, my dear friend and prayer partner said that when she was praying for me God gave her a verse for me.  It is from Psalm 91 and while she gave me the whole chapter, she said the part that really struck her was verses 14-16:
"'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.'"
I'm counting on that long life that God has promised me.  I know that God keeps His promises and I hope that when I do go to heaven and bow before Him, God will say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."