Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some Things I’ve Learned This Week

This is the first week of my new eating plan.  I’m not using the “d” word, because it sets me up for failure psychologically!  You can read more about it here.  I’m eating differently and loving it.  So far, so good.  This is just the beginning of my journey, but I’ve already learned some good lessons this week including:

1.  Food doesn’t have to be unhealthy to be delicious.

I’ve eaten delicious food this week.  There are no restrictions on spices or most condiments, so my food is still very flavorful.  My weakness is french fries.  They taste better to me than anything, including chocolate.  Thankfully, there is a very easy and healthful way to satisfy this craving.  I take a small potato and cut it into thin slices (like big potato chips).  I lay them on a baking sheet and spray lightly with Pam cooking spray.  I sprinkle them liberally with grill seasoning and any other spices that strike my fancy.  Twenty minutes later after placing them under the broiler, I have crisp and delicious homemade fries.  This also works with sweet potatoes and any other vegetable I am craving (broccoli, zucchini, squash, peppers, etc.).  The key is in the seasoning.  Healthy doesn’t mean bland! 

By the way, Todd said more than once that he really enjoyed our meals this week.  That makes me happy!

2.  I can distinguish the difference between hunger and just “wanting to eat.”

This week, I found myself reaching for something to eat just because it was there, not because I was hungry.  (I did manage to stop myself).  For example, last Monday we had a play date with a sweet friend at McDonald’s.  I ordered Grace her usual cheeseburger Happy Meal.  I brought my own lunch…low-calorie entree, apple, and snack bar.  When we were finished and cleaning off the table, I realized that before I would have finished off Grace’s 1/2 cheeseburger and handful of fries.  Instead, I wrapped up her uneaten food and saved it for her lunch the next day, saving myself about 350 calories and 15 grams of fat. 

3.  It’s not a good plan to watch the Food Network all day when you’re trying to lose weight.

Let’s face it…Paula Deen is not the best person to watch when you’re cutting calories.  (Although I do love me some Paula!)  Instead of being tempted and longing after food that I cannot have, I’ve changed my channel to HGTV or in more cases just turned the TV completely off.  I feel a little like a Food Network addict going through withdrawal. 

4.  If I’m actually hungry, I should eat.

There are plenty of wholesome, satisfying foods that I can eat if I get hungry between meals.  My particular eating plan has no restrictions on fresh fruits and vegetables.  The key is availability.  I must always keep my favorite things easy to grab for the times I am hungry.  For me, that means having apples, bananas, carrots, and grapes handy for snacking.

I’ll let you know how things continue to go for me!

Getting Better

Thanks to those of you who prayed for little Grace.  I appreciate the calls and e-mails too!  She is much better today.  Her fever is down and she just sat up on the couch and asked me for some peanut butter.  The doctor wanted to see her again today, so we will go back this afternoon.  

The last 24 hours have been pretty scary, but hopefully the worst is behind us.  I'll call her urologist first thing on Monday to see what he would have us do.  I suspect we'll do an ultrasound to see if the Deflux is still in place.  It can often disintegrate and be absorbed by the body necessitating a repeat procedure.

We would appreciate prayers that this infection does not cause lasting damage to her kidneys.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Please Pray

Grace has been acting strangely today.  She's been tired and lethargic.  When I woke her up from her nap, she was burning up with fever...close to 103 degrees.  I gave her some Motrin and she started feeling better, but quickly got even worse by the time Todd got home from work.

Of course, it's the weekend, so our only option to see a doctor (other than the ER) was Care Now.  I signed her up online and we just got back from seeing the doctor.  She has a really bad urinary tract infection.  

Many of you know that she has suffered many UTIs in her first two years of life.  In 2007, she had the Deflux surgical procedure to correct her reflux, and things have been much better since.  Tonight when I was holding her limp little body burning up with fever it reminded me of those scary times at Children's Hospital when she was an infant.

She received a powerful antibiotic shot tonight, an oral antibiotic, and we will return in the morning for the doctor to check her again.  Please pray that she gets better quickly and starts to feel like her normal happy self again!

Maybelline Man

I'm sorry...I just don't believe it.  How can Richard's eyes look that good naturally?

LOST Recap

I’m a little late getting my recap up for the best show EVER, but that’s mainly because I’ve been pondering several things in my head over the past 24 hours.

First of all, where does Richard get his eyeliner???  I’ve got to get some of that.  It lines perfectly and stays put even when running through the hot, humid jungle!

Well, the main thing we learned was that Charles Widmore was an Other.  Todd and I were watching the episode together yesterday, and as soon as Richard called him by name on the island in 1954, we both gasped.  (Well, actually I gasped first, then Todd quickly realized what Richard had said).  Very interesting.  I’m still having a hard time figuring out who’s the bad guy…Charles or Ben?

Did anyone else notice that Desmond and Penny named their son Charlie?  I would venture to say that they named him after our favorite rockin’, cocaine snortin’, Claire-lovin’, life sacrificing Charlie and NOT Charles Widmore (Penny’s father). 

Also, the trigger-happy young blonde Other girl that gave Dr. Daniel a hard time at the hydrogen bomb turns out to be his mother, Ellie!  I’m glad the writers at least made it abundantly clear that we were in 1954…they usually leave it to our imagination.

And speaking of Dr. Daniel, wasn’t it sweet when he professed his love to Charlotte?  Although I’m afraid it might be short-lived considering how she reacts to time-travel.

My favorite conversation was between Sawyer/John/Juliet when they found the Other camp and were trying to decide what to do.  Sawyer talking about an “Other reunion” and calling Dr. Daniel “The Geek” cracked me up.

I wonder if the radiation/hydrogen bomb storyline has something to do with the female fertility issues on the island?  I’m looking forward to learning more about this because the bomb scene this week was confusing…why is it there?

I’m looking forward to seeing Kate, Sun, Ben, and Jack in the next episode.  I missed them this week!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Things I Love Thursday – Mini Blender


I’ve been making a lot of shakes and fruit smoothies for my new eating plan.  I researched various blenders and ended up buying a Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender with Travel Lid


It is awesome!  I bought it because of the great reviews, and it definitely lived up to my expectations.  I can add large pieces of ice or frozen fruit, and it quickly and easily purees them into a smooth consistency.  It is so convenient, too.  With the travel lid, I can lift it off the base and drink it without having to transfer my shake to another glass.  It fits easily into the dishwasher.  And it only cost $13.33!!!  What a great product.

For more Things I Love Thursday, visit The Diaper Diaries.

Ice Day

Last night we listened to the sound of ice hitting our windows for several hours.  This morning, I couldn’t even see out the window because a solid sheet of ice had formed.  You can imagine that the roads are absolutely undriveable. 

The sun is shining, and the temperature should climb above freezing by this afternoon, so everything will melt away soon.  Unfortunately here in Texas, we rarely get the pretty, fluffy white snow.  Grace has never built a snowman or made a snow angel.  We get the horrible, heavy, dangerous ice storms. 

For now, Grace is still sleeping and Todd and I just popped in a Blockbuster movie.  I’m looking forward to being trapped in the house today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Day!

Well, almost.  Todd got a day off work because his school district (which is about 30 miles west of us) had icy conditions this morning.  We didn’t really see any precipitation until late this afternoon. 

Forecasters are predicting up to 1/3 inch of ice accumulation that will “turn our area roads into an ice skating rink” by tomorrow morning.  So it looks like Todd will get one more day off.

Our sweet friend Joy had her gallbladder removed today.  For those of you that know her, everything went great!  We drove up to the hospital this afternoon where Grace enjoyed trying to push all the buttons on the medical equipment learning all about IV’s and blood pressure machines.  Joy’s husband described her gallbladder removal as a “desperate attempt to catch up with him on weight loss.”  They are both looking fabulous!

On the way home, we stopped at Blockbuster and rented a few movies for entertainment during our ice-out.  I’m looking forward to watching Prince Caspian and National Treasure 2 tomorrow!  Right now we’re letting Grace watch the new Dr. Suess movie.  She thinks it’s incredibly funny that a main character name is "Jo-Jo.”  The kids that I babysit call me “Miss Jo-Jo”, and Grace will sometimes call me that in a desperate attempt to get my attention (which I always correct).

And now my awesome husband has graciously encouraged me to go upstairs and have some alone time.  I’ve been nursing a headache most of today, and a dark room with a warm washcloth on my forehead is calling my name…..

Monday, January 26, 2009

Don’t Make Me Count To Three – Ch. 2

Welcome to the second week of our book study through Ginger Plowman’s Don’t Make Me Count To Three!  I hope everyone had the opportunity to get the book and read through Chapter 2.  If you didn’t, no worries!  Just join along with us anytime.  It’s a quick read and easy to get caught up.

This week we started off with an explanation of the difference between the world’s view of discipline and a biblical view of discipline.  Many people view discipline as a punitive, angry act that punishes a child for poor behavior.  Many people think of harshness, yelling, and angry spanking.  Sometimes, the worldly view of discipline is simply behavior modification…..a set of rules and consequences.  One popular system of discipline that comes to mind is “1-2-3 Magic.”  I actually had a counseling professor once tell me that “training a child is like training a dog.”  In the pop psychology world, parents are encouraged to give good consequences for good behavior and remove privileges or give natural consequences for bad behavior.  Another popular strategy is to focus on the good behavior and ignore the bad behavior.

While many of the above strategies may prove useful, ONLY using those strategies misses the “heart” of the issue that is such an important component of biblical discipline.  Ginger sums this idea up perfectly in my favorite line from this chapter on p. 26:

“…we do not need the latest fad methods.  We need God’s methods.”

Another great line is also on p. 26:

After all, if you can reach the heart, the behavior will take care of itself.”

When I was a teacher, I had to be gone several days during the year for trainings and music conferences.  On these days, a substitute teacher would assume control of my classes.  There were lots of teachers on campus that had excellent control of their classrooms…kids were always behaving, their rooms were neat and organized.  However, when those teachers were gone and substitutes came in, the class went wild.  In my opinion, they were governing their class legalistically and focusing on the outward behavior instead of trying to reach the hearts of their students and make them WANT to be good.  It was always my goal as a teacher to tug at the kid’s heartstrings and make them WANT to learn, be kind, and be respectful of others.  I wanted my classroom to be a haven, a safe place in the school where we were always kind and respectful to each other, EVEN IF I WASN’T THERE.  I’m certainly not saying my students were always perfect, but I continually got notes from substitute teachers saying they were amazed at how well my students behaved.  Many subs asked if I would specifically request them to come back the next time I was absent! 

This same concept of reaching the hearts of our children is what Ginger is saying should be the focus of biblical discipline.  It truly is a big job and takes a lot of effort when we think through and instruct our children in God’s Word.  I am constantly tempted to rush through discipline without using it as an opportunity for Biblical teaching.  Life is crazy, and sometimes we just don’t want to stop and deal with things.  But what I have found is that, over time, problem behaviors diminish when I am consistent to TEACH and not just REACT.

One of the most popular world views today is that people are basically good.  Children are innocent.  We need to look for the good within people, draw it out, let it shine.  Here’s the truth:  WE ARE UGLY.  Our heart is ugly.  We are all sinners.  Children do not escape this truth.  We need to expect our children to sin and not be surprised when they disobey.  After all, parents know that we don’t have to teach our kids to lie, steal, scream, fuss, hit, or disobey.  They come by it naturally, thanks to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden when sin entered God’s perfect world. 

The biggest responsibility we have as parents is to teach our children how God would have us act and treat each other.  Teach and model God’s forgiveness.  Show them their need for a Savior and how redemption is found in Jesus’s sacrifice.  I don’t know about you, but that responsibility is overwhelming when I ponder it!  Our most important mission field is our own children!

I hope that many of you will join in and comment on what particularly struck you in this week’s reading.  Even if you didn’t read, feel free to comment below on the topics raised.  Perhaps consider one or more of the following questions:

How is a biblical view of discipline/instruction different from the world’s view?  How can focusing only on outward behavior be harmful to a child?  Why is it important to recognize the heart as sinful?

I look forward to reading your comments!  Next Monday stay tuned for a post on Chapter 3!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My menu planning is taking a drastic turn this week.  I have long been contemplating a lifestyle change and I’m excited about embarking on a new culinary journey tomorrow. 

I hesitate to call my change a “diet”, because it’s really just the beginning to a healthier way of eating.  To facilitate my weight loss, I’ll be eating pre-packaged entrees and shakes from a local medically-supervised program, while supplementing my eating plan with fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Where does this leave Todd and Grace?  Well, I’ll still be cooking them the occasional entree, but I’ll mostly be grilling or baking different meats and serving them with my fresh fruits and vegetables.  While bread is out for me, I’ll keep dinner rolls and garlic toast in the freezer so I can quickly pop them in the oven to go with their dinner meal.

This actually suits Todd just fine, as he typically prefers the simple meat/potato/veggie/bread meal. 

I went to our local Whole Foods market to buy fresh, organic vegetables for the week, and I was pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it was.  It’s really not that much more expensive overall compared to Wal-Mart, and it’s OH SO MUCH MORE fresh and beautiful. 

On this trip I bought fresh Honey Crisp apples, Mexican bananas, grapes, local tomatoes, zucchini, squash, purple onions, Idaho potatoes, garlic, broccoli, green beans, and red peppers.  I also bought some frozen mango, papaya, and strawberries to put in my smoothie shakes.

I’ll be steaming, roasting, and stir-frying these vegetables in a variety of ways to go along with my packaged entrees.  While I can’t use a lot of oils/butters, there are no restrictions on spices, so I plan to use spray Pam and experiment with lots of different spicy flavor combinations to keep things interesting.

For my next Menu Plan Monday post, I’ll share some of my favorite veggie dishes from this week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

God’s Provision

A sweet friend that I used to work with called me up today and asked if I would be willing to take some hand-me-down girls’ clothing. 

Um….let me think about that….YES!!

“A few things” ended up being four HUGE boxes of clothing and several large bags overflowing with toys, games, shoes, and hair accessories.  I have never heard Grace gasp with delight so many times in one evening!  We had to stop and play every game and read every book we unpacked. 

Most of the clothing was name-brand including Gymboree, Gap, Old Navy, Justice, and Limited Too.  There was even a GORGEOUS formal flower-girl gown from David’s Bridal.  In addition to the clothing, my friend also gave me all of her daughter’s dance and gymnastics wear.  It’s a veritable gold mine!  Leotards, tutus, ballet slippers, tap shoes, jazz shoes, and gymnastics wear.  Let’s just say that I had a little too much fun dressing her up this evening in about ten different ballerina outfits.  She was so excited and kept running in the other room to show daddy and dance for him.  We’ve got to get this girl in a dance class now!

God is so good to put sweet friends in my path like today.  Kids clothing can get expensive, so we consider this a direct provision from the Lord.  The extra blessing was that the clothes were high quality and super cute!  After Grace gets some use out of them, I will pass them down to another friend.

Friday, January 23, 2009

And so it starts….

obama Today President Obama quietly reversed a Bush-administration ban on giving federal money to international groups that fund abortions.  President Reagan adopted the ban in 1984.  It was reversed by President Clinton in 1993, but President George W. Bush re-instituted the ban in 2001.

Now that the ban has been reversed, our taxpayer money will go to family planning groups that offer abortions as a method of birth control. 

The most outlandish statement of the day goes to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said the move "will help save lives and empower the poorest women and families to improve their quality of life and their future."

Save lives?  Seriously?  Since when does the promotion of abortion save lives?  How sad it is that the act of killing an unborn child is regarded as an appropriate way to “improve” a woman’s life!  I would venture to say, based on my friendships with women who have had abortions, as well as my experience as a counselor, that few women would claim that their abortion “improved” their life.  For many women, the experience of an abortion includes physical complications and/or infertility, emotional pain, guilt, grief, and regret. 

The real trauma, however, is directed towards the unborn baby in the womb.  I rarely talk about these things, because, frankly, it is almost more than I can handle emotionally.  I have seen videos and heard testimony of doctors and nurses that perform abortions.  The act of abortion is appalling.  It is violent.  It is sickening.  It is murder, and God will judge it.

If you can handle it, there is a good post up today by Jess at Making Home.  She issues a challenge to act on behalf of the unborn among us.

Friday Fun

Fridays are the one day of the week that I try to keep open from any appointments or commitments.  I enjoy spending the day at home with Grace and finishing up any housework that I might have let slide during the week.  Today that list includes several loads of laundry.

Grace loves to help me with various household chores, and I like to use the opportunities to teach her not only housekeeping skills but academic skills as well.  Today she helped me separate the clothes into white, light, dark, and towels.  Then I set her on top of the washer and let her (painstakingly slowly) put each item of clothing into the washer.

Right now, she’s supposed to be sleeping for naptime.  However, the dryer buzzer just rang, and I heard her exclaim through the baby monitor, “Mama!  I have to help you with the LAUN-DWEEEE!”

As much as I love socializing and going and doing, these are my favorite days.  At home with Grace, with no other responsibilities other than with her in our home. 

I promised to play games with her after naptime, so I’m going to go get myself psyched up for an exciting round of Candy Land!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I was recently invited by my former co-worker to return to the high school that I used to teach as a band director.  She asked me to conduct weekly master classes with the clarinet players in her band.  Today was my first day, and I really had a good time.

I was nostalgic as I stepped into the band hall that is so familiar to me.  It was there that I first learned to play my clarinet as a middle school student.  It was there that I had my first job interview straight out of college.  It was there that I taught so many lessons and ran so many rehearsals through my band directing years.  The same sights and smells overwhelmed me as I walked through the door.  Chairs and stands, forgotten sheet music, broken pencils, percussion equipment, tiny lockers, inspirational posters.  For a moment, I was transported back in time.

The same familiar face greeted me when I entered the band hall office that used to greet me as a 12-yr-old student.  Some things just never change.  The students that I worked with today were very sweet, respectful, and thrilled with the opportunity to have more individual attention.  Also, on a side note, this is the first time… EVER… that I have walked into a clarinet rehearsal and found every single student with a working reed.  Usually, I spend half my time helping the kids find a reed that isn’t cracked, is less than three months old, and doesn’t have a science experiment growing on the back.  These are the kind of kids that make teaching fun! 

I hadn’t planned on bringing Grace with me, but my plans fell through to leave her with a sitter.  I loaded up a huge bag with books, crayons, dolls, snacks, and a blanket.  To my huge relief, she amused herself and was mostly invisible with the exception of a few requests for snacks, etc.  The kids thought she was really cute and asked me to bring her back next week.

I’m looking forward to my next class in a few days.

Things I Love Thursday : LOST

I just finished watching the premier episode of LOST.  I’m more confused now than I ever was before.  And that’s saying a lot.  Part of me wants to give up and stop trying to actually understand what’s going on.  But I can’t help myself.

So now we’re traveling around in time.  As if I wasn’t confused enough with trying to figure out if we’re in the past, present, or future. 

It was nice to see that the actress that plays Ana Lucia got out of jail long enough to film a brief re-appearance!  I enjoyed seeing her – she’s an interesting character.  My husband is still rooting for a Mr. Eko return. 

So who is the gray-haired lady?  Apparently she’s pretty important because even Ben seems subject to her. 

This episode seemed more violent than usual.  People falling on knives, being burned alive, lots of shooting, falling off balconies….tonight might have set an episode record for the “number of violent deaths in a variety of manners.”  Obviously they’re trying to compete with CSI.

Poor Hurley.  He’s always trying to do the right thing, and it always comes back to bite him.  Hurley had the funniest line to Sayid when he said, “Maybe if you eat more comfort food, you wouldn’t need to go around shooting people.”  Gotta love Hurley.

And, I love Hurley’s parents.  When his mom said, “I don’t understand you, but I believe you…” I actually teared up.

What is up with Sun?  Is she going to the dark side?  I feel that perhaps she is trying to manipulate Kate to pay her back for letting Jin die.  Could Sun have hired the lawyers?  Hmmmm…..

Why is Desmond special?  Why is Charlotte having nose bleeds?  Didn’t someone else have a nose bleed?  I can’t remember…

Oh, and who was the lady in the butcher shop?  And why does Locke’s body need so much protecting?  If they get him back to the island will he come back to life (since he can spontaneously heal on the island)?

Sorry this is such a disjointed post.  LOST does that to me.  I can already tell that I’m going to stay up thinking about LOST instead of sleeping tonight.  Why am I so obsessed with something that does that to me?

For more Things I Love Thursday, visit the Diaper Diaries.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Works-For-Me-Wednesday Dinner History

works for me wednesday

I enjoy keeping a record of the dinner meals that I have cooked over the years.  For one, it’s fun to read back over the different things I have prepared and served!  Secondly, it helps me plan a better variety of things to feed my family.  I can look back and repeat things that were a success while keeping an overall picture of the different dishes I have tried.  It keeps me from getting in a rut!

Here is an example of my record.  I use a simple Excel spreadsheet:







1/20/091-2-3 JambalayaRiceFrench BreadCaesar Saladeasy!
1/22/09BurgersBaked FriesFixinsFruit SaladTodd’s favorite
1/23/09Chicken QuesadillasSpanish RiceSalsa 20 min. meal
1/25/09Chef SaladDeli meatsVeggies extra good = homemade dressing

I’ve been keeping records for almost two years now, and I hope that one day my daughter can look back and see the meals we prepared together as she builds her own repertoire of cooking.

For more Works-For-Me tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Play Dates

Today was a busy day for us.  We got up early and quickly straightened up the house before running out the door to a play date.  I recently discovered that a friend of mine in choir is a stay-at-home mom of a 3-yr-old daughter and 16-month-old son.  And, they live in our neighborhood!  We were invited to their home this morning, and Grace had a grand time.  They played with Play-Dough, baby dolls, Memory, Hungry Hippos, basketball, tea cups, and lots of other things. 

Grace was shy at first because she didn’t know the little girl from church (they are in different Sunday School classes).  But, she warmed up and made a new friend.  We left from there and drove to pick up Caleb from pre-school.  We got home, ate lunch, and they quickly fell asleep for naptime.

When they woke up, Caleb’s older sister had arrived and we all played games, danced, had snack time, and built with Legos. 

Even though Grace is an only child, she has lots of opportunities to be around other kids.  I like it this way.  Between play dates, my babysitting, and Sunday School/church activities, it is actually rare to have a day at home alone with just the two of us.  I usually try to keep Fridays this way, because I feel that alone time is important too. 

I am thankful, though, that there are so many options to interact with sweet kids (and moms!) throughout the week.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday

I’m a little late planning my menus this week because we’ve been caught up in Todd’s birthday plans.  Here it is:

Monday – Todd's Birthday Dinner - takeout from Outback!

Tuesday – 1-2-3 Jambalaya, French Bread

Wednesday - leftovers

Thursday – Hamburgers, Baked Fries, Fruit Salad

Friday – Chicken Quesadillas, Spanish Rice

Saturday – leftovers

Sunday – Chef Salad

I’ve never made the 1-2-3 Jambalaya, but I recently found it in an issue of Southern Living.  Nothing bad ever came out of that magazine, so I’m sure it’ll be good!  Here’s the recipe:


1-2-3 Jambalaya

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 3 cups uncooked long-grain rice
  • 2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans French onion soup, undiluted
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs

Sauté first 3 ingredients in hot oil in a Dutch oven 4 to 5 minutes or until sausage is browned. Stir in chicken and next 6 ingredients.

Bake, covered, at 350° for 40 minutes, stirring after 30 minutes. Garnish, if desired.

Todd’s Birthday

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Today we celebrated Todd’s 38th birthday.  Grace and I spent the morning baking and decorating this chocolate chip cookie cake:

007 When I asked Grace how she wanted to decorate his cake, she said “with fishes.”  So, I looked on the internet and found a fishing theme and copied it!  Fish are on the brain for her because Todd has been taking her fishing in our neighborhood pond.

For dinner, Todd wanted Outback Steakhouse take-out.  So, I picked up sirloin steak, veggies, salad, and cheese fries!

002After dinner, we opened up his presents.  He got a shirt from me, a sweater and tie from my parents, a framed picture of his father from his mother, and a basket of his favorite candy from Grace.


We had a fun evening eating and spending time together.  Todd, I’m so thankful that God has given you to us another year.  You are a wonderful provider, protector, and parent to Grace.  You’ve been my best friend and companion for so many years, and I hope for many, many more to come!

I love you, Todd!


Don’t Make Me Count To Three – Intro/Ch. 1

Welcome to the first week of our book study through Ginger Plowman’s Don’t Make Me Count To Three!  I hope everyone had the opportunity to get the book and read through Chapter 1.  If you didn’t, no worries!  Just join along with us anytime.  It’s a quick read and easy to get caught up.

Right off the bat, Ginger throws a small dart and pricks my heart on p. 13. 

Could it be that parents avoid these [discipline] issues because they are uncertain of how to handle them?”

Bingo.  I thought of all the times I have purposefully ignored Grace when she was misbehaving, just hoping that she would straighten up on her own.  Or gave her too many warnings.  Or threatened a spanking.  Guess what?  It doesn’t work.  I need to have a game plan.  I need to change my way of thinking.

Not only that, but I need to think beyond Grace’s outward behavior and focus more on her heart.  In today’s world, when one thinks of the word discipline, one might equate it with spanking, or punishment, or something quite negative.  Actually, the roots of the word discipline come from the Latin word discipulus (“pupil”) and discere (“to learn”).  The process of assigning some sort of punishment or consequence is only one part of discipline.  When we focus on the whole process of discipline including biblical teaching, Lord willing we will reach the heart of our child to promote lasting change and set the foundation for their future salvation.

I love that Chapter 1 focuses on the high calling of motherhood.  As a former career woman, I admit that at times I have questioned the importance of my place at home with Grace.  I think of all the children I taught and mentored and helped over the years, and I wonder if my life would be of better service in the “mission field” of our public schools.

Then I think of Psalm 129:3 which says:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”

And the command in Proverbs 22:6 which says:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

And the promise in Proverbs 31:27-28 which says:

She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

And I realize that, yes, working with children in the public schools was a great use of my time.  But working with Grace in my home is a greater use of my time.

And, in closing, I also love that Ginger warns us to not let the ugly head of pride enter as we start to enjoy the fruits of biblical discipline in our children.  Just yesterday, I was humbled once again as we waited (forever!) for a table in Todd’s favorite restaurant to celebrate his birthday lunch with some friends from church.  Grace was fussy and complaining and impatient as we passed time in a crowded waiting area.  After taking her out for discipline a couple of times, she was better, but she certainly didn’t win any awards for behavior yesterday.  And I had to check my attitude several times when I found myself getting frustrated!  Thankfully, God answered my prayer and she settled down and let us eat in peace once we were seated.

That said, there is no “magical” or “biblical” formula for getting children to obey all the time.  Enter sin.  There has been only one person on this earth who has never sinned.  Our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Can you imagine what it must have been like to be his mother, Mary?).  Children sin.  It is a result of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.  We need to expect our children to sin.  We need to not be surprised when they sin.  And we need to learn how God would have us deal with their sin in our growth as parents.  Funny thing, at the same time we end up dealing with our own sin!

I hope that many of you will join in and comment on what particularly struck you in this week’s reading.  Even if you didn’t read, feel free to comment below on the topics raised.  Perhaps consider one or more of the following questions:

What do you hope to gain from this parenting study?  How do you feel about the calling of motherhood?  Why is it important to focus on the “heart” of discipline rather than just outward behavior?  How can we keep pride from entering when things start to get better?

I look forward to reading your comments!  Next Monday stay tuned for a post on Chapter 2!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Today I spent about three hours cleaning and organizing the garage.  I still had leftover stuff that didn’t sell in our summer garage sale, and I had let things get piled up and disorganized. 

I made a pile to donate, and pile to keep, and a pile to throw away.  Todd ended up making two trips to the dumpster for our throw-away stuff. 

The end result is great, though.  Especially after our bulk trash pick-up comes next Monday, we’ll have a lot more space. 

Grace had a fun time riding her scooter around the garage while I was working.  I recently learned of an internet site called Pandora Radio.  It is the coolest site ever.  You can enter a few of your favorite songs or musicians, and it custom designs your own personal radio station that plays all music, no commercials.  Totally free.  I hooked up my computer in the garage and had three hours of 80’s music to energize me while I worked.  Totally cool.....Oh, girls just wanna have fu-un.  Oh, girls just wanna have fun........

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

A couple of days per week, I babysit a 3-yr-old boy named Caleb.  Grace LOVES him, and looks forward to his visits.  Through her friendship with Caleb, she has learned all about cars, trains, Super Heroes, and football. 

Today as I was driving home from picking up Caleb at his preschool, I chuckled as I listened to the two of them make up songs, singing at the top of their lungs to each other.  This is not verbatim, but the best that could recall of their “improv” songs:

Caleb: (sung to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”)

“Batman is the go-od guy, Joker is the ba-ad guy.  Batman has the Bat-mo-bile, Joker tries to steal his stuff!  They were fighting and kicking each other.  Batman has the biggest muscles.  Joker loses again and Robin kicks him in the pants!”

Grace: (indistinguishable original tune)

"The rainbow is high in the sky…Cinderella has a pretty dress.  She was dreaming and dreaming and dreaming.  A dream is a wish your heart makes…it comes truer and truer.”

I think they have a future in the music biz.  Or at least in the 6th grade talent show.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Fast and Easy Bacon

works for me wednesday

I know that this probably isn’t the best time of the year to be talking about bacon.  It doesn’t exactly fit into most people’s new year resolutions!  But, I have a husband who cannot live without bacon.  He dreams about bacon.  He asks me to cook him bacon at the most unusual times.  (And he doesn’t like the pre-cooked variety…we’ve tried that).

Instead of getting out the frying pan and splattering grease all over my stovetop, I’ve learned a fast and easy way to cook fresh bacon. 

Take a microwave plate and put a paper towel on it.  Spray quickly with non-stick cooking spray (Pam).  Lay down a few pieces of bacon.  Put another paper towel on top.  Cook on HIGH in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Voila!  Fresh, crisp bacon with NO MESS.  Simply throw away the greasy paper towels.  No grease to drain, no splatter to clean up, to frying pan to wash. 

The best part?  A very happy husband.

For more works-for-me tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Study Update

Hello Friends!

I am excited that several of you have commented or e-mailed that you would like to participate in this study of Ginger Plowman’s Don’t Make Me Count To Three!.  Several of you have asked exactly how I will structure the group, so I’ll give you more information.

I know that everyone is busy, busy, busy.  This is one reason I want to go slowly through the book…just one chapter per week.  The chapters are pretty short, too.  I also want to go slowly because I feel that by doing so, we can internalize and reflect more thoroughly on how God would have us parent our little ones. 

The first time I read this book, I couldn’t put it down.  I read it in a couple of afternoons.  (I actually took Grace to the McDonald’s playground and told her to go play so I could read uninterrupted!)  If you find yourself reading more than one chapter per week, that’s fine!  Just go back with us and refresh yourself on the chapter each week.

The purpose of this book study is to fellowship with other moms as we explore how God would have us parent our little ones.  Of course, God’s Word is the ultimate authority on this subject.  One of the many reasons I love this book is because Ginger helps us learn how to apply the Scriptures to the training of our children. 

The purpose of this study is not to just share our triumphs and fabulous success stories on our parenting journey.  (Although those stories are encouraging, too!)  I plan to be very real and share the good, bad, and ugly.  This gift of parenting has been both a joy and a challenge, and I’ve examined my heart more over the past four years of being a mom than I did the other 30 years of my life. 

Now concerning the format…I’ll post on one chapter every week.  I’ll write a brief outline, throw in some thoughts/stories, and share how God is working in my life in that particular area.  I’ll probably throw out a couple of discussion questions and invite you to join in by posting comments.  Of course, you can choose to just read along, but I hope that you will be led to join in the discussion!  After all, it’s comforting to know that other moms are going through similar things!

Just to give everyone time to buy, beg, or borrow the book, I’ll share my first post on the Preface/Ch. 1 on Monday, Jan. 19th.  I invite you to read through the end of Ch. 1 by then so you can join in the discussion! 

Many blessings to you!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Several days ago, I published a post on the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that was recently (overwhelmingly) passed by congress.

I recently heard great news from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In a significant reversal, the CPSA has announced that all children’s products will not become hazardous waste on February 10th! This is a victory for families, for the environment, and for resale shops across America.

In August, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA); a law designed to protect our children by reducing the amount of lead and phthalates in all children’s products, and requiring 3rd party testing to certify the safety of all products.  

On January 10th, the CPSC clarified how the law will affect resellers and families with used children’s products.  Click here to read the full revision.  From the statement – 

“The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.”
“The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content… Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.”

This is truly a victory for resale and consignment stores.  As far as I can tell, this revision does not help small businesses that sell new children's items (hairbows, children's clothing, etc.).  I am particularly interested because I occasionally sew and sell girl's dresses on EBay.  I can only hope another revision will be made to allow these sort of businesses to continue as well.

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday

I had a lot of leftovers last week, and we ended up getting a pizza one night when I didn’t feel well, so I never got around to making one of my planned dishes last week.  It will make an appearance this week.

Monday – Macaroni and Beef Casserole, Sweet Peas, Green Salad

Tuesday – leftovers

Wednesday – Asian Stir Fry with Chicken and Veggies, Brown Rice

Thursday – leftovers

Friday – BBQ Meatballs, Rice, Mixed Veggies

Saturday – leftovers

Sunday – Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon

This week is totally semi-homemade, but still delicious. 

For Macaroni and Beef, I spruce up a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese with ground beef, onion, and garlic.  Then I put it under the broiler for a few minutes with a little extra sharp cheddar sprinkled on top.

For Asian stir fry, I use a frozen Asian veggie/sauce family meal and add chicken and extra broccoli.  To make the sauce go farther with the extra meat/broccoli, I add soy sauce.

For BBQ Meatballs, I use frozen meatballs from Wal-Mart and put them in the crockpot with a bottle of BBQ sauce.  Delish.

For pancakes, I use Hungry Jack complete pancake mix (just add water).  So easy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Possible Book Study

Count to 3

Over the past few months, I have spent time reading and putting into practice things I learned from Ginger Plowman’s book, Don’t Make Me Count To Three!.   In my humble opinion, it is the most practical and useful book on parenting that I have read.  Ginger takes biblical principles and applies them to the real-life discipline issues that all parents face.  It is a quick, easy, and entertaining read!

I have been so encouraged and helped in my journey as a parent by reading this book, and I would like the opportunity to re-read the book and perhaps do an online book study.  I would post on a new chapter every few days, and invite any mommies (or daddies!) that read my blog to contribute their thoughts/questions as we read through the book together.  I’m hoping to stimulate some interesting dialogue and encourage everyone as we journey through this wonderful and challenging experience of parenthood!

If this sounds interesting to you, please drop me a quick comment or e-mail me to let me know.  You can read a couple of my older posts that I put up a while back when I was first reading through the book here (Part I) and here (Part II).

Don’t forget…leave me a comment to let me know if you would like to read along and participate! 

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I’ve been battling a cold for the last few days, and my husband finally made encouraged me to go to the doctor.  (Partly because he’s tired of listening to me blow my nose all night long, but mostly because he LOVES me!) Since it’s the weekend, I went to my local CareNow doc-in-a-box facility.  They now do web check-in, so after waiting 1 1/2 hours at home, I only waited 10 minutes in the office from the time I walked in the door to see a doctor.  It was nice not to have to sit in a waiting room forever.

Verdict:  I have sinusitis and a double ear infection.  Huh?  I haven’t had an ear infection since I was, like, one year old. 

So, I got a lovely shot in my bum, an antibiotic, and a nasal spray. 

Hopefully I’ll sleep better tonight and not keep….ahem….anybody awake.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Value of Consistency

The other day at the store, I let Grace walk beside me instead of making her ride in the cart.  She’s getting older now, and she does a pretty good job of keeping up with me. 

However, she didn’t obey on our last trip.  She kept running to the next aisle and not coming right when I called her.  I caught up with her and in a quiet voice told her, “Grace, you are not obeying me in the store.  When we get to the car, you will get a spanking.  And until then, you must ride in the cart.”

I fully expected a negative reaction, at least a little pouting.  Instead she gave me a huge smile and said, “Okay!”  She rode sweetly in the cart and when we checked out, she proudly told the cashier (and everyone in line behind us) that, “Mama is going to give me a spanking when we get to the car!  Because I didn’t obey her!”  I heard nervous laughter behind me while the cashier looked me up and down.   As I was loading bags in the cart, Grace added, “Don’t forget, Mama!  You need to give me a spanking.”

I had visions of people following me to the car, taking pictures of me with their cell phone, reporting me to CPS, and watching myself on the 5:00 news.  However, all was quiet (except Grace) as I loaded the car.  We talked about what she had done wrong, I spanked her, and we prayed.  She sweetly accepted correction and had a good attitude all the way home. 

I honestly believe that on some level, kids crave discipline and order.  It helps them feel safe and know what to expect.  Kids that are lovingly disciplined are happier.  Todd and I have often noticed (in amazement) how happy Grace is after being spanked.  Her whole attitude can change from one of fussy disobedience to a joy to be around.

When parents ignore negative behaviors and let things slide, it is confusing to a child.  Especially when the parent explodes after letting frustration build inside over the misbehavior.  The child lives in a state of apprehension and fear, wondering when (and how) mom or dad is going to react to their behavior.

I am constantly praying for my own consistency when disciplining Grace.  Even when I am busy, or in public, or just don’t feel like dealing with it, I pray that I will remember the value of timely (and loving) discipline. 

Eczema Treatment

vitamin e oil

My daughter has always had eczema.  At certain times of the year it is worse than other times.  It also gets worse when we head south to Louisiana (like we did this year for Christmas) because it seems to be triggered by her allergies.  Winter is also a big challenge.  We have wasted money on tried countless creams, lotions, and treatments…both over-the-counter and prescription.  Some things help a little, most things don’t.  Right now, her arms and legs literally feel like sandpaper.  Even her face has large, red splotches of peeling skin.

I recently heard testimony from a friend that essential oils can help in most cases.  I did some additional research online and decided that I would buy both Vitamin E oil and Coconut oil.  Yesterday, I spent a while going to several stores.  I never found Coconut oil, but I did buy some pure, organic Vitamin E oil.  (I should have gone to the health food store and looked, but Grace was getting tired of going everywhere, and she was already miserable from the itching).

We went home and I applied the Vitamin E oil with a cotton ball to the eczema patches on her face, arms, hands, legs, and feet.  She immediately stopped itching.  Actually, she kept coming back and asking for more.  I think it was soothing on her skin.  I re-applied at bedtime and again this morning. 

Today is the first day that she has woken up in the morning and her skin has actually looked better than it did when she went to bed.  She has not been scratching this morning at all.  I went online and bought a jar of coconut oil on EBay, so I’ll start using that as well in a few days when it arrives.

Here’s hoping things continue to get better.   

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things I Love Thursday – Dutch Oven


I’m going to join in with a Things I Love Thursday post for the first time!  Since I love to cook, I will share about my favorite kitchen item.

My Rachel Ray Dutch Oven.

dutch oven

I received this for Christmas last year, and let me tell you, spaghetti sauce has never tasted so good.  I don’t know what it is, but there is a noticeable difference in the flavor of the food I cook in this pot….soups, stews, sauces, meats, etc.  And the more I use it, the better things seem to taste. 

It is constructed of cast iron covered in porcelain enamel.  It retains heat beautifully and goes from stovetop to oven to table to fridge.

The price of my Rachel Ray pot was very reasonable compared to other brands (Le Creuset).  If you are looking for an even less expensive variety of this type of Dutch oven, check out Wal-Mart.  Their own brand of cast iron/porcelain enamelware pots are rated very highly by Cook’s Country Magazine at only a fraction of the price of other brands.

For more Things I Love Thursday posts, visit Diaper Diaries.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Works For Me: Recipe Organization

About a year ago, I decided to do a major overhaul in the way I save and organize my recipes.  I was tired of the messy, disorganized recipe box.  I was always mis-filing my recipes after usage, usually with a big stain on the notecard.  I always forgot what recipe was in what cookbook, and I would often become frustrated when looking for recipes.

Then I discovered Microsoft Office OneNote.

This awesome program is included in the Microsoft Office package.  You can literally create a recipe box on your computer, complete with categories (bread, chicken, pies, etc).  

I know what you are thinking...who has time to type in all those recipes?  I'll admit that it was an investment in time to put my favorite recipes on my computer.  If there was a time that I was watching TV or sitting down, I was typing recipes.  It took me a couple of weeks, but let me tell you, IT IS SO WORTH IT!

Now all my recipes are literally at my fingertips and perfectly organized.  If I come across a new recipe online, I simply cut and paste it into my program...5 seconds tops.  If I come across a new recipe in a magazine, it is much faster for me to type it in my computer than it is to find a notecard, a pen, and write it down.  If a friend asks me for a recipe, I copy it to an e-mail and send....simple.  

Another benefit is the search tool.  If I have an ingredient in my kitchen that I need to use up before it goes bad, I can type it in the search box.  Voila!  All my recipes that include that ingredient are instantly before my eyes!

When cooking in my kitchen, I prop up my laptop on the counter and go to work.  And, if my recipe is from an online source that includes photographs, I can cut and paste the pic right along with the recipe as a reference.

Like I said, there is an initial investment of time as you type in your recipes, but it is well worth it in the long run!

For more Works-For-Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Preschooler Quote of the Day

Me:  [listening to Grace's sniffles] "Grace, do you need to blow your nose?"

Grace:  "No, thank you.  I just blowed my nose yesterday."


Today I went to the DMV to replace my lost driver's liscense.  To get a replacement, I had to show my birth certificate, Social Security card, voter registration, and marriage certificate.  And pay $10.  And stand in line for 30 minutes with a bored 4-yr-old.  And get fingerprinted.  And have my picture taken again.  Loads of fun.

Just an interesting observation, there were about 40 people in the DMV, and I only heard one other man speaking English.  Everyone else spoke Spanish.  Even the TV in the waiting area was on a Spanish station.  The form I filled out had Spanish on the front and English on the back.  The workers were bilingual.  

If we stay in Texas, I really need to work on developing Spanish language skills in Grace.  I have a very basic knowledge of the language, and perhaps by teaching Grace I can expand my own  knowledge as well.  I have some personal opinions/concerns about bilingual education based on my experience in the schools as a language committee chairperson.  Perhaps I'll delve into those experiences on a future post.  

I feel that English should be our national language, a preferred language, a useable language for all that call this country home.  After all, if I moved to China, I would make every effort to immerse myself in the Chinese language.  I would learn it, use it, and not expect everything to be translated into English for me.  Here in Texas, I do not think that businesses should be forced to print duplicates of everything in Spanish, add a Spanish option on their phone systems, hire expensive translators, or add a Spanish option on their computer systems (ATMs, etc.).  

Another interesting tidbit.....although my husband is certified to be a school principal in the state of Texas, he is not eligible to be a principal in the Fort Worth Independent School District because he is not bilingual.  In my mind, this is bordering on reverse discrimination.

That said, I also feel it is important to learn other languages.  Preferably a language that would be considered useful for the area of the country we live in, countries we are interested in, or future countries of travel.  In our case, because we live in Texas, that language is Spanish.

So, I will make every effort to teach Grace the Spanish language.  I will do this because it will expand her knowledge, give her new opportunities, and create a bond with the state of her birth. 

Monday, January 5, 2009


I can't believe I'm just now hearing about this, but apparently there is a new law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that is due to start on Feb. 10, 2009.  It was created to help improve the safety of children's items (clothing, toys, etc.).  However, these new regulations include a requirement that second-hand items be put through rigorous testing to determine safety before they can be sold.  In effect, this will spell the end for children's consignment stores, resell shops, and Etsy shops across America.  

Because of this, Feb. 10, 2009 has been nicknamed National Bankrupcy Day.  

I agree that it is important to protect children....but, come on.  It's still legal to smoke a cigarette next to a child, but we can't buy them a second-hand pair of pants?  Ridiculous.

Please visit this blogpost to find out how you can help by contacting your congressperson.


For anyone that might not be aware, the best show on TV is set to resume in 16 days.  LOST.  If you have never seen this show, please heed the following instructions:

1.  Get thee to a video store and rent the first season of LOST. 

2.  Drop off the kids for a day with grandma.

3.  Come back home and put on your pajamas (this is very important).

4.  Take the phone off the hook.

5.  Watch all episodes back-to-back, only stopping to take bathroom breaks and grab something to eat from the kitchen.

6.  Repeat steps 1-5 with Seasons 2-4, if you are able.

I believe that it is also possible to watch the episodes online here.  (Or you can click on my widget.)


Kitchen Stuff

This year for Christmas, I received some great kitchen items.  My baking sheets that I received as wedding presents 13 years ago needed to be replaced.  The nonstick coating was peeling off, especially when I roasted veggies at high temperatures in the oven.  I would find little black specks in my food....gross!  

I received some beautiful new baking sheets in assorted sizes from my new favorite store, Sur La Table.  Basically, it's the French version of Williams-Sonoma.  From this store, I also received a new digital meat thermometer, a new tiny wisk for scrambled eggs, a sturdy spatula, and a new corkscrew.  However, my favorite gift was a beautiful new roasting pan in vibrant red!  My mom liked it so much that she bought one for herself after she saw mine.  Also, mom passed down to me her older large cutting board since mine had a huge crack in it.  

It was fun to come home and throw away my old baking sheets and cutting board (they weren't even able to be donated) and put the new items in my kitchen.  I can't wait to use my baking sheet for the first time tonight when I roast our meatballs.

Menu Plan Monday

We've been on vacation for two weeks, and I enjoyed getting back in my own kitchen and planning our weekly meals.  I didn't clean out the fridge before we left, so I discovered some interesting leftovers when we returned.  Thankfully the trash was delayed one day and came on Saturday so I could get rid of some old food without stinking up our garage.  After I cleaned everything out, I had three completely empty shelves in the fridge!  

So, after I took inventory and planned our meals, Grace and I made a Wal-Mart run on Saturday.  I think everyone else in Fort Worth was buying groceries, too.  

Monday - Meatballs with Whole Wheat Spaghetti

Tuesday - leftovers

Wednesday - BBQ Chicken Crockpot, Baked Beans

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - French Toast, Bacon

Saturday - Asian Veggie Stirfry with Chicken, Brown Rice

Sunday - leftovers

Today I'll include my recipe for BBQ Chicken Crockpot.  You can actually put frozen chicken in the crockpot when you cook it on low for 8-10 hours!  This is such an easy recipe.

BBQ Chicken Crockpot

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lb.)
1 jar BBQ sauce combined with about 1/2 c. Coke Classic

Mix BBQ sauce and Coke Classic.  Place chicken in bottom of crockpot and pour combined sauce over to coat.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Shred cooked meat with a fork and serve on sandwich rolls if desired.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Birthday Wishes

I have been overwhelmed today by the number of notes, calls, and e-mails I've received from friends and family who wished me a happy birthday.  How blessed I am to have so many people care about me!  

We are spending a quiet evening at home, just like I wanted.  At first, Todd offered to take me out to dinner, but I decided I'd rather just relax at home.  Boy, I guess I am getting older, huh?

Although one of my New Year's resolutions is to reduce (or better, eliminate) my sugar consumption, I did allow myself a couple of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Squares with White Mint Filling in honor of my birthday.   Mmmmm.

I didn't get the Christmas decorations totally put away yesterday, so I plan on finishing that tonight.  It's funny how bare the house looks after Christmas, isn't it?  It didn't feel bare before Christmas.  Another one of my goals this week is donating some of Grace's older toys to make room for her new birthday and Christmas presents.  I think I'm going to get her involved in helping me choose what to keep.  In the past, I've just taken things without her noticing (mostly), but I think she is old enough now to get involved and help make some decisions.  

Thanks again to everyone who sent me birthday wishes today.  I am thankful to have lived another year to enjoy with my friends and family.  I take nothing for granted and treasure the time I have with everyone I love!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Big Church

For those of you who might not know, my father is a pastor.  Grace is always excited when we go visit my parents because she loves "granddaddy's church."  There are several kids her age that she has bonded with over the years, and she feels very comfortable in the Sunday School and worship care.  

When we arrived home, my mom reminded me that Grace was now old enough to attend big church.  Worship care ends when the kids turn four years old, so this was the first time for Grace to attend a regular worship service.  Ever.  You can imagine that I was a bit nervous as Todd and I prepared her for sitting still in a pew for 1 1/2 hours.  I loaded my purse with fruit snacks, crayons, and stickers.  Mom provided a Bible story coloring book.  We explained that she had to be still and quiet while Granddaddy was preaching.  

We arrived in the sanctuary early so we could snag the prime position at the end of the pew by the exit door.  I looked around at all the other 3 and 4-year-olds sitting quietly next to their parents and silently prayed that Grace would be sweet.  I even (momentarily) thought of giving her a chewable Benedryl that I carry in my purse, then decided that we needed to face the challenge head-on and soberly.  

The good news is that she made it through the service without us having to take her out for discipline.  I'm sure the people sitting right behind us were entertained by her movements, but for the most part she obeyed and stopped playing with the hymnal, etc. when we told her to.  Several people told me they never heard a peep, and for that we are thankful.  Overall, we were pleased and proud of her for sitting through big church for the first time.  It was even more special because granddaddy was preaching.  

The Sunday evening service was more difficult.  She was bored and tired and had already sat through the morning service.  I took her out once to discipline her, then she returned and did pretty well the rest of the time.  (I found out later that Todd took her out twice for discipline during the last hymn.....I didn't know because I was playing the piano).  

Overall, she did pretty well.  Todd and I discussed the possibility of keeping her with us during the worship services from now on at our own church.  Even though we think she is ready, we have decided to let her stay with our church's worship care for another year and "graduate" with her group of friends to big church.  When the time comes, I'll leave the choir loft early to sit with her, and we'll figure out a way to sit close to the orchestra so Todd can come down and sit with us, too.  I'm looking forward to sitting together as a family in "big church."

Busy Day

Today has been a busy day filled with unpacking, cleaning, shopping, and organizing.  Todd went into the office to prepare for his first day back at work next week, so I have been in full throttle mode....I didn't even stop for lunch until I realized around 1:30 that Grace was trying to eat a 3-week-old Goldfish cracker off of my neglected kitchen floor.

The house is finally (mostly) in order, but I haven't tacked the Christmas decorations yet.  I'll wait until Todd gets home tonight and let him do the honors of climbing around in the attic to get down all the packing boxes.  My goal is to have it all back in the attic before I go to bed.

Grace is busy painting with some new Disney Princess watercolors (thank you Brad and Anne!) while I make a short post.  In a few minutes, I'll make some quick tacos for supper.  Then, I'm going to put up my tired feet for a while until Todd gets home from work and I can start with the decorations.  

I have so many topics, stories, and ramblings swirling around in my head!  Hopefully over the next few days, I will have some time to write and share.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Back To Reality

Tomorrow we will travel home from our visit with my family.  Our time here has been blessed with fellowship, family, friends, and fun!  We spent time with our dear friends from North Carolina.  We met our youngest niece for the first time.  We had playdates with my sister-in-law and Grace's cousins.  Mom and I shopped and cooked together.  Todd and I enjoyed a rare dinner-and-a-movie date!  We celebrated two fun birthdays.  Todd played lots of golf.  We slept late almost every day.  We enjoyed many games of Rummikub and Monopoly.  We watched bowl games, Monk, Iron Chef America, and movies.  We spent lots of quality time playing with Grace.  

So tomorrow we're back to reality.  After a 9+ hour trip home, I'll spend the weekend putting away Christmas decorations and getting the house back in order.  Sunday is my (gulp) 34th birthday, and we've already made plans to eat lunch with our friends Larry and Joy after church.  On Monday, Todd will return to work after a much-deserved two week vacation.  

Todd gets to drive the whole way home tomorrow because I have lost my driver's license.  He thinks I lost it "on purpose" so I could relax the whole trip, but I assured him that it was actually more relaxing for me to drive!  I can't remember where I left it, but I guess I'll be standing in line at the DMV next week to get a new one!  Hopefully I'll remember to brush my hair and put on lipstick before they take my picture this time.  Considering the amount of time I usually end up waiting in line at the DMV, I'm not sure I'll be able to muster a smile, but I'll try!