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 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." 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons ~ A Book Review

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." ~ Genesis 1:27
Secure Daughters Confident Sons by Glenn T. Stanton provides a framework for thinking about the masculine and feminine traits in your own children and how we as parents nurture those qualities affects the men and women our children become.  This book was divided into two parts. 

Part 1: A Clear Vision for Authentic Manhood and Womanhood - How to Help Your Kids Get There, discusses qualities of what makes a good man or a good woman.  Stanton notes that while we don't all exhibit male and female qualities in the same ways, there are distinct male qualities and distinct female qualities.  It is helpful to know what these qualities are which define us as male and female.  In Chapter 1, What Makes a Good Man, Stanton says, "As parents, we need to realize that our boys need help, encouragement, and guidance to the inevitable road to male adulthood so they become authentic, healthy, vibrant, virtuous, and wise males in their
  • exploration
  • deliver the goods
  • moving to the next thing
  • opportunism
  • chance taking
  • initiative
  • activity
  • competition and dominance    (these were all the qualities he discussed in the chapter.)
Your job as a parent is to raise your boy to be the man he was created to be."
In Chapter 2, What Makes a Good Woman, Stanton says, "our girls, and the women they become, are more likely to:
  • be confidently enticing
  • value intimacy over action
  • be receptive
  • seek security
  • be modest
  • be caring
  • relate with words
  • seek equity and submission
  • wield soft power that shapes humanity
  • connect to others
As the parent of a daughter, your job is to pay close attention to the kind of girl God has given you and raise her toward womanhood with the qualities we've discussed.  Of course, you'll need to consider which of these qualities you need to nurture or temper, realizing these either are or are not a strong part of your own daughter's makeup."

Stanton follows these chapters with What Boys and Girls Need Most and The Journey to Manhood and Metamorphosis to Womanhood. 

In Part 2: Why Boys and Girls Need Mothers and Fathers, Stanton discusses the obvious differences in how mothers and fathers parent and why these differences are important in nurturing our children and encouraging growth in other areas as well.  Moms and dads play differently with their children and they connect differently because of the the qualities that make them who they are.  Both roles are integral in raising children to be the people God designed them to be.

Throughout the book there are question and answer sections that describe real discussions parents may have about how to best parent their children.  I really took some time with this book and enjoyed reading it.  There were many things that I already knew or had heard elsewhere, but to have it all put together in this way was helpful.  It is a good resource for parents in helping them understand gender differences and to help put into focus that our ultimate goal is to grow well-adjusted men and women who fulfill the roles God has planned for each of them.  Stanton is quick to point out that this isn't about stereotyping one role or another, or conforming to arbitrary cultural rules, but in nurturing those gender qualities that God has given girls and boys so that they may be secure in their masculinity and femininity  so that they may make a difference in the world. 

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah. 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