Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Nuggets

There is soooo much I need to catch up on here at Denitra's Den, however the Christmas rush has been just that. Therefore, a brief moment from our Christmas day will have to suffice. It's one of those little nuggets of truth that kids say that, as a Mom, ya just want to remember forever. So I'll take a few minutes to record it here for posterity's sake. Hopefully, after all the parties are over and the company has gone I will be able to properly blog once more:)

Last night, after a very busy Christmas day full of wonderful presents given and received, bedtime arrived and I went to tuck my little tired and sick cubs in bed. After praying with them and kissing them good night, I asked them, "So was this the best Christmas ever?!"

Lil' Buddy perked right up and replied, "It was second best!" while thrusting two eager fingers up into the air.

Surprised by his answer I asked, "Oh, what was the best one?"

Excitedly he responded, "Jesus' birthday, of course!"

Thanks Bud, for reminding me what Christmas is all about! The birth of Christ our Savior! Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fasting on Stuffed Animals

Seems I completely missed November here in blogsville! Been quite busy and unfortunately haven't got the time to do a complete overview. But before I forget, I want to pass on a conversation I had with my son this morning.

While we were getting things together for school Lil' Buddy informed me that for the next three days he would be "fasting on stuffed animals." He said that every time he thinks about playing with them he just prays because, "sometimes stuffed animals get in the way of God."

Be still my heart! How precious is that?! Guess it's time to see what "stuffed animals" might be in my way too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Go Phillies!

My latest creation for a friend - for her son's 9th birthday!

Thought it was apropos with the Phillies in the playoffs!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just A Couple O' Eggheads!

Like father, like son!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Talkin' Pennsylvanian

A friend of mine just sent me the following e-mail. As I haven't had time to do a real post, I thought I would put it up to honor my PA friends and family! Having lived in both suburban Philly and Western, PA, I was quite familiar with all of these. I inserted some of my own comments in italics.

Once a Pennsylvanian, ALWAYS a Pennsylvanian!

- We never refer to Philadelphia as anything but 'Philly' and New Jersey has always been ' Jersey.'

- We don't go to the beach, we go "down the shore." (To be precise, that's the Jersey shore.)

- We refer to Pennsylvania as "PA" (pronounced Pee-Ay). (Hmmmm, how else would you pronounce, PA? )

-" You guys" (or even "youze guys", in some places (yeah, only if you're from Philly!)) is a perfectly acceptable reference to a group of men and women.

- We know how to respond to the question 'Djeetyet?' (Did you eat yet?)

- We learned to pronounce Bryn Mawr, Wilkes-Barre, Schuylkill, the Pocono's, Bala Cynwyd, Duquesne and Monongahela.

- We know it's pronounced Lank-ister and not Lan-kaster. (Drives me carrrazzzy when it is pronounced incorrectly, too!)

- We know what a 'Mummer' is, and are disappointed if we can't catch at least highlights of the parade. (And may be known to be the only one doing the Mummer Strut to 'Oh Those Golden Slippers' at midnight on New Year's Eve with your friends staring at you in dismay! This is really a local Philly tradition)


- We know who 'Punxsutawney Phil' is, and what it means if he sees his shadow. (As well as anyone who has seen Ground Hog's Day!)

- The first day of buck and the first day of doe seasons are school holidays. (Usually limited to more rural locations. I never experienced that until I went to school out in Western PA.)

- At least five people on your block have electric 'candles' in all or most of their windows all year long. (2 or 3)

- We know what a 'State Store' is, and our out-of-state friends find it incredulous that we can't purchase liquor at the mini-mart.

- Words like 'hoagie,' 'crick,' 'chipped ham,' 'dippy eggs', 'sticky buns,' 'shoo-fly pie,' 'lemon sponge pie', 'pierogies' and 'pocketbook' actually mean something to you. (By the way, that last one's PA slang for a purse!) (Seriously, do people not call it a pocketbook elsewhere? I use both terms.)

- We can eat cold pizza (even for breakfast!) and know others who do the same. Those from NY find this 'barbaric.' (I find it quite barbaric myself. Hubby, however, took advantage of my absence one weekend recently to introduce our son to the fine dining experience of cold pizza for breakfast. He was proud of it,too!)

- We not only have heard of Birch Beer, but know it comes in several colors.

- We know the difference between a cheese steak and a pizza steak sandwich , and know that it is impossible to get a really good one anywhere outside of the Philly area. (Amen!)

- We live for summer, when street and county fairs signal the beginning of funnel cake season. (Personally, I associate it with the Wildwood Boardwalk and Fall craft shows.)

- We know that Blue Bell, Intercourse, Paradise, Climax, Bird-in-Hand, Beaver, Moon, Virginville, Mars, Bethlehem, Hershey, Indiana, Sinking Spring, Jersey Shore, State College, Washington Crossing, Jim Thorpe, King of Prussia, Wind Gap, and Slippery Rock are all PA towns ... and the first three were consecutive stops on the old Reading RR! (PS - That's pronounced Redd-ing.)

- We know what a township, borough, and commonwealth are.

- We can identify drivers from other states by their unique and irritating driving habits.

- A traffic jam is 10 cars waiting to pass a horse-drawn carriage on the highway in Lancaster . (And remember ... that's Lank-ister!) (Traffic jams always occurs on the PA Turnpike and Rt 80 for mile stretches, only due to continuous decades of construction (which is not nearly as adorable as a horse and buggy!)

- We know several people who have hit deer more than once. (And a bear, but I'll save that story for another day!)

- We carry jumper cables in our cars and female passengers know how to use them. (Doesn't everyone?!)

- Driving is always better in winter because the potholes are filled with snow. (Still LOL over this one!)

- As a kid we built snow forts and leaf piles that were taller than we were. (That's the good old days - not now.) (Awww, I remember doing that!)

- We know beer doesn't grow in a garden, but know where to find a beer garden.

- We also know someone who lives 'down the lane'.

- We suffer through sports seasons and valiantly come back for more every year. (Philly fans are quite unique!)

YEAH! THAT'S GOOD O L' 'PA' AND WE LOVE IT!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to Proverbs 31

It's been awhile since we've looked at Proverbs 31, so I thought it was time to get back to it. Here's a summary:

v. 1-10: King Lemuel's mom is busy teaching him how to be a ruler. Basically, be wary of women, use wisdom in choosing your friends and advisors, and avoid drunkenness. Speak up to defend the rights of the poor, the needy, and those who cannot speak for themselves. Judge fairly.

v.1-18: Mom now tells Lemuel what to look for in a wife. A woman who loves him, works with eager hands, provides for her family, has a mind for business and delegation, and is creative.

Proverbs 31:19 - In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

I suppose it's time for me to pull out my sewing machine, eh? Well, not sure the text is telling us we have to be expert seamstresses, but in context of the previous verses it is telling us to get to work. We should be actually "working" to take care of our families.

Uggh, why'd I have to write that? I really dislike working around the home (so glad I don't have a web-cam or you could see what an obvious statement that is!) It can be pretty boring to do dishes, laundry, and cleaning all day. Yet, this is a good reminder to have a good attitude while accomplishing these mundane tasks that we are called to do in order to care for our family.

We've seen this Proverbs 31 woman selecting wool and flax, working vigorously with eager hands, shopping in the markets for imported foods, getting up before the family to prepare for the day, delegating tasks, and building a home-based business! Who knew you could find all that in just a few verses from the Bible?!

Now we see her spinning yarn and later we will see her making items for her family, to give to the needy and to sell at the market. She's quite an amazing woman, isn't she?

Sometimes it is hard for us as women to compare ourselves to the Proverbs 31 woman. It can be a little overwhelming to see what this ancient woman was able to accomplish in comparison to what we may do as modern women. I think the general gist that we are to take away from this, is to be creative in how we care for our family.

Do what you can do. Look at the talents God has blessed you with and consider how you can use them to bless your family. It may just be planting a few tomatoes in your backyard, selling some items on e-bay, cleaning out the closet to donate items or listening to Hubby when he tells you to actually spend the grocery money on groceries this time. (I'm still trying to figure out why he keeps telling me that every week...!)

So, keep your hands to the distaff and start spinning, ladies!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Random Things

I was tagged by my friend over at Genesis Moments.

Here are six random things about myself:

1. I am "5 foot 2 - eyes of blue!"

2. With red hair I look quite Irish, but I am actually 1/2 Polish, 1/4 Irish, 1/8 German and 1/8 English.

3. In an unplanned act of irony (or perhaps stupidity) I wore my "Polish/Irish: Pierogis/Potatoes" shirt to my Weight Watcher's meeting the other day. Fortunately, after the lady commented on the not so healthy foods emblazoned on my chest in their respective country's colors, it was a good weigh in:)

4. When we were kids, my brother and I used to make bouncy balls out of scotch tape and water.

5. My family claims that we are related to Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.

6. I just called my Senators and House Representative for the first time ever regarding the bail out bill they are debating.

I am tagging:

The Hand Clan
Drinking From My Saucer
God's Grace In Practice

RULES:
1. Link to the person who tagged you. 2. Post the rules on the blog. 3. Write six random things about yourself. 4. Tag a few people at the end of your post. 5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Waking Up Is Hard To Do *updated*

"Waking up is hard to do, la, la, la, la, la!" That's pretty much our theme song 'round the den these days.

Yesterday morning when Hubby tried to get Lil' Buddy up he said, "Time to get up, Bud. I thought you wanted to get up at 7 a.m." "Yup" he replied. "Well, it's 10 after." His response, "I was rounding."

This morning our son was still asleep and Hubby called up the stairs. "C'mon Bud, it's time to get up." A groggy answer from the dark hallway, "But it's not seven yet." Hubby retorted, "I was rounding!"

The cubs seem to be spending way too much time on homework so consequently their bedtime ends up being closer to 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. instead of 8:30 p.m.! This makes for some rather groggy mornings!

Yesterday, both of them went a bit overboard on their homework assignments. I think I got myself a couple of overachievers here.

Pulling in to our driveway from the bus stop, Buddy burst into tears at the realization that he had forgotten his history book. After quite a few attempts at consoling him, I finally convinced him to call a friend to see if he could borrow the book for the evening if his friend had finished the assignment. The alternative was to get to school early when he would have about a half hour to do the work. This suggestion only brought wails of, "But that won't be enough time and I'll get an "F"."

Fortunately, we were able to avoid more tears by borrowing the book and he happily worked on it the rest of the evening. Since I was busy with my own study and he was contentedly working as usual, it didn't occur to me that he was still doing the same assignment at 9 p.m. My question to him was, "Why was your friend done at 4:30 p.m. and you're taking so long?" His response, "I think I'm doing too much notes." Yaaaah, I think so! That'll be a doozy of a 5th grade history test to study for tomorrow.

Darlin' who loves to write had an assignment to write a memoir of a specific event in her life. She has thrown herself into that assignment with much enthusiasm over the past week or so. Being in 7th grade, she's been pretty independent with her homework, bringing home the usual straight A's. All this to explain why I was quite surprised when asked to proofread a 10 page paper! I probably would have curbed her enthusiasm a bit if I had been more aware prior to late last night that she was writing a small novel. Despite all our efforts, Hubby and I could not find any information on guidelines for this particular paper (ie how long was it really supposed to be? I'm guessing a couple pages!) In fact, Darlin' was shocked at the suggestion that some of her classmate may only be writing a page. Oh, well, live and learn. At least it was a good read!

Well, I can't complain about having two exceptional students who take their elementary and junior high studies very seriously, but I suppose I can have a good chuckle every now and then!

*updated below*
Thought I'd let ya'll know that the kids fared very well the next day at school. Buddy's teacher told me what a wonderful job he did on taking notes. He was so proud of the +8 he received - note that it's out of 5 points:) Darlin' was also quite proud of herself when I picked her up from school. Apparently, she seemed to be the "talk of the town" that day with her 10 page memoir. The teacher indicated that there was no limit and she enjoyed the paper:)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Showers & Stools!

When I was little, I was a flower girl in my Aunt's wedding (who had been one in my mother's wedding) and in turn her daughter was a junior bridesmaid in mine. So naturally my cousin, Jill, promised my daughter years ago that she would be in her wedding. That day is approaching in October and, as Darlin' has been waiting a long time for this, she is quite excited!

I do believe she is actually more excited to be a junior bridesmaid than a flower girl, because she gets to wear a more grown up gown and heels! Since she can't drive yet, (fortunately that's four years away! yikes!) I have been able to enjoy some perks that go along with her being in the bridal party.

We got to enjoy a day of dress shopping with my Aunt, cousin and the rest of the bridesmaids. In one day we hit two bridal shops and 3 malls! Considering that Darlin' tried on the dress we eventually bought her in the first shop, she really just enjoyed the day for the shear fun of hanging out with family, watching the bridesmaids try on dresses and even trying on a few more of her own. We left at about 9 a.m. that morning to travel to Jersey, returned about 11:30 p.m. and had a blast!

We are also both looking forward to getting our nails done together before the wedding. I keep reminding Darlin' that she's already had her nails done at a salon way more then me ... only once for my wedding! (Pretty sad, huh?!)

Since she is in the wedding party, we have to stay overnight after the rehearsal dinner at the hotel (yeah!) , which by the name of it sounds fancy. . .the Wyndham. On the wedding day, I also get to tag along to get my hair and make-up done too! Gosh, I don't think I had such pampering for my own wedding!

Over the weekend Darlin' and I helped the bridesmaids throw a shower for my cousin. Despite Tropical Storm Hanna forcing the party indoors, everything went splendidly.

If you don't know already, I love to throw a party, so it was a lot of fun for me to be a part of the bridal shower. Darlin' and I put together little heart tins full of autumn colored, dark chocolate M&M's for the party favors. They worked perfectly with the fall theme for the October wedding. Aren't they cute?

The bride-to-be wearing an original Denitra's Designer Bonnet!

My cousin and her fiance have a huge height difference between them. Almost a foot and a half! So I thought that it was a perfect time for another kissing stool in the family....

At my bridal shower, my parents gave me a kissing stool. As there is a full foot difference in height between myself and Hubby, this was quite needed. I remember bringing it to the rehearsal and we pulled it out for our practice kiss for a good laugh. Now it resides in my kitchen, where I use it almost daily. Although, kicking it around to the various cupboards to retrieve dishes off the top shelf isn't nearly as satisfying as kissing! Perhaps I'll retouch it for our next anniversary, so we can be reminded of it's true purpose!

For Jill's kissing stool I bought an unfinished stool at the local craft store and stained it with October Brown: Milk Chocolate spray. How appropriate for the October wedding?! Not to mention that it has the word chocolate in the name!











It also perfectly matched the ribbon and trim on the wedding invitation that I decoupaged on top!

When it was time for her to open the gift, I presented it to her by first reading this poem.

Soon you’ll be married to Too Tall Tim,
It’s about time you married him!
Darla’s been waiting patiently,
To be a part of your bridal party.

To watch you walking down the aisle,
While Aunt Vicki cries, only with a smile.
After years of dating it’s come to this,
A promise you seal with a wedding kiss.

But at 6 foot 7 Tim’s just too tall.
How will you be able to reach him at all?
Standing about 5 foot 3,
It’s plain to see you’re challenged vertically.

In order to bridge the 16 inch difference,
We though you might be in need of assistance.
So here we come to your rescue.
To provide some aid when you say “I do.”

Just step right up and take a stand,
Go ahead, pucker up and kiss your man!
You will look so cool, just a lovin’ fool
When you step upon this Kissing Stool!

Here's the groom and bride (standing upon the stool!)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sidebar Surprise

Hey check out my sidebar. It used to show a countdown to the movie Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I was surprised to see that it changed automatically to show Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader!

How exciting! Only 639 days to go!

Can you tell I've been on an extended hiatus from blogging? I'm finding new things on my own site!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

History in the Making

So anybody out there excited about Sarah Palin?! The last week has just been a swirl of excitement and anticipation surrounding the first Republican woman VP nominee!

Hubby and I watched the RNC speeches over the past two nights and have enjoyed them immensely. Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani were my favorites leading up to her acceptance speech. How about you?

Of course, my all time favorite was Governor Palin. She is extraordinarily gifted and did an exceptional job in delivery and content. I am excited to have a conservative on the ticket!

I hadn't been as thrilled about John McCain, but I must say I am getting more excited about him too. The more I learn about him, the more impressed I become about his service, character and integrity. I truly believe he would make the best Commander in Chief and that is a primary reason that he will have my support.

I am quite impressed with his running mate, Sarah Palin. She strikes me as a person who lives what she believes and is not ashamed to do so. Someone who is willing to fight for what is right, no matter what the cost. Someone who shares my values regarding life, family, taxes, drilling, the war on terror and other conservative issues.

She will have my support because of what she believes and what she has done, not just because she is a woman. In fact, I must admit, that is the only thing that keeps me from jumping up and down, waving my arms excitedly and signing up to campaign.

Are there any other proud-to-be-a-stay-at-home-moms that feel the same way I do? I have worked some since having children, but only part time and in flexible jobs that have enabled the kids to join me at times. My kids are now in school and I would definitely consider working while they're at school or if I needed to support our family. I do believe that there are times when a stay-at-home-dad may be the best option for a family. Whatever our circumstances, I believe we need to seek the Lord's guidance and not blindly follow society's mantra that we as women should be able to "have and do it all."

To sum up, I believe God has given women the unique honor, responsibility and ability to be mothers. When He so blesses a family with children, that family should be a woman's priority.

The question for me isn't, "Can a woman do the job?" I have no doubt she would do an excellent job as VP and most likely President in future years. The question for me is, "But should a mother with pre-school children seek such a job?"

Now, don't get me wrong. I have a HUGE problem with the liberal media and the Democrats questioning why she would consider running for office with an infant at home. As they have long knocked the importance and privilege of being "just" a mother, I feel that they have forfeited the right to denigrate or criticize any woman who has chosen to have a career and a family. In fact isn't that what they've been trying to get us to do all along? You'd think they would give Sarah Palin a nod of awed respect at how she has accomplished this duality so successfully. (Of course not. . .she's a Republican!)

I, on the other hand, would be questioning a mother-of-young-children's decision to accept such a demanding job no matter which party she represented. I long to support her 100%, but I think I need to keep it at about 95% to be consistent with my beliefs.

Somehow, I think Sarah Palin, would respect that consistency!

I will be praying for her and her family as she seeks this office and perhaps becomes the first woman Vice President of the United States. And I will jump up and down excitedly on election night . . . because she is a conservative, a Republican and a woman! It's history in the making and I'm proud to be a part of it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

So how does that saying go? Early to bed, early to rise, makes a gal healthy, wealthy and ... TIRED!

Yup, day two of back to school and I AM EXHAUSTED!

Being a life long night owl, it is shocking to find myself yawning at 10:30 p.m. and hardly able to stay awake for the last of the RNC speeches at 11:30 p.m. last night. You early birds may think that's staying up late, but considering my typical bedtime of 12:30 - 1:00 a.m., weariness is hitting me a couple hours earlier than usual.

The anticipation and excitement of the first day of school enabled our whole family to jump out of bed with eagerness yesterday morning. Today, however, was a different story....

The wave of momentum from yesterday failed to elevate me out of the water bed this morning as I dragged my feet from the bed and they thudded to the floor like lead weights. I was sooooo tired that I couldn't even bear to think about turning the lights on til I found myself attempting to make lunches in the dark! Fortunately, the kitchen has a dimmer switch, so I could ease my eyes into waking up.

Eventually, things got moving, but it was back to reality this morning. No bright eyed, bushy tailed kids or adults (just cats - Swiffer's tail is always quite bushy!) - the four of us were dragin' our wagons. We managed to have a quick breakfast of cereal together and pray as a family before leaving for the day. Both kids arrived at school early, so our get-them-to-school-on-time-or-else attitude is working - we're 2 for 2!

Hubby called me after we dropped off our respective charges at their particular institutions of learning. As you may suspect, both of us were heading to WAWA to get our much needed dose of caffeine that had unfortunately been left out of the breakfast equation earlier.

As I continue to struggle with wakefulness, despite 12 oz of WAWA coffee followed by an iced latte from Starbucks a few hours later, I must remember to heed Hubby's advise - "Whatever you do don't take a nap!"

Oh, but that is all I want to do! It will be especially hard this afternoon during the 1 and 1/2 hours of piano lessons. The wonderful music would lull me to sleep if I let it.

Hopefully, after a few days of avoiding naps my body will eventually ease itself into this early to bed, early to rise pattern and I'll be able to write a more coherent post! In the meantime ... coffee is my friend!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to School, Back to Blogging!

September is here and that means the kids are back at school and I am back to blogging! Didya miss me?

It was a pretty calm morning for the first day of school with the kids going to different schools for the first time. Buddy will continue at Grace Christian and is excited to begin 5th grade with a new teacher and a couple of new kids in the class. Darlin' begins 7th grade today at Plumstead Christian and was nervously excited when I drove her to school for the first time this morning. She looked so pretty in her khaki pants, pink PCS shirt (our first time with school uniforms!), cute plaid flats and a new hair-do!

Hard to believe she's in middle school ... sniff ... sniff. Over the weekend we watched a few home videos of when she was turning two. How adorable! Instead of "cookie" she would say "tootie", so I've been lovingly referring to her as my "tootie" girl. They grow up too fast ... but I digress ....

Unlike our usually hurried mornings of the past, today ran quite smoothly. All up by 6:15 a.m. (quite a feat after getting up between 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. for the past few months!), lunches packed, piano played, a sit down breakfast at 6:50 a.m. with the WHOLE family (wow! I don't think that's ever happened on a school day - usually I eat after everyone is gone!), obligatory pictures taken on the way out the door to commemorate the first day of school, on the road at 7:22 a.m. to arrive at school at 7:46 a.m. with 20 minutes to spare! Yahoo! Considering we usually arrive with only a few minutes to go, this is something to celebrate. Now we just have to keep the momentum going for the rest of the school year ... yikes!

Well, I'm glad to get back to the blogging world again and have a little outlet for myself. It's been a very busy summer for me. It was sandwiched with sorrow, but was filled with joy in between. Kinda like an Oreo "tootie", only I love the chocolate and don't care for the filling, so maybe I should come up with a better metaphor!

This summer was full of celebrations: both our children becoming communicant members, Darlin' graduating from 6th grade, a wedding each month (from May to November!), bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays and a new baby cousin! In addition we were able to travel to Pittsburgh for one of the weddings (and as a result buy a new van which we are enjoying immensely!), take many trips to the Jersey shore, go to some water parks, spend lots of time in the pool, camp in the back yard and enjoy the campfire and s'mores, finally figure out how to cook on the grill successfully, host pool parties, attend a local Polish-American festival and create lots of great family memories!

Hope you all had a wonderful summer too and I look forward to getting back into a blogging routine and catching up with everyone!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

WHEW!

I have just been spinning in a whirlwind over the past few weeks, especially the last one! Now that I've finally got a few minutes to breath I thought I'd get back on the blog, just to let you know I'm still here! Did ya miss me?!

I thought I'd just sum up some of the events that have taken place since Friday, June 6th and hopefully the next couple days I can expound on some of the more memorable happenings. (considering I started writing this post on Sat. and it is now Thurs., my "expoundings" may need to take place after vacation next week!)

Friday: Darlin' graduated from 6th grade! It was a beautiful night with the spring concert and a special program for the Sixth grade class. MomMom & PopPop joined us for the celebration. Look for pictures soon!

Friday night: We headed out of town about 11 p.m. for Pittsburgh. I drove 2 hours while Hubby tried to locate a hotel - apparently a car show in Carlisle had things booked for a 30 mile radius. . .yikes!

Saturday Morning: We drove the remaining hours to Pittsburgh for a wedding. About an hour out, our car started making very loud noises. We arrived at the church, turning heads with our obnoxiously loud vehicle.

Saturday Afternoon: A glorious time witnessing the marriage of Beth and John! Beth was one of the girls in our youth group and is very special to our family. She was a most stunning bride!

Saturday Evening: The reception was at the groom's family farm and it was beautiful! Despite the heat, everyone had a blast til we sent off the happy couple through a canopy of sparklers (the highlight for my kids!)

Saturday Night: We had a 1/2 hour drive back to our hotel from the reception, so we had another car follow us so we wouldn't be stranded on the side of the highway with the cubs late at night. The car knocked loudly the whole way and a few yards from the hotel stopped making all the noise. I remarked, "Oh, you fixed it!" Five seconds later, billows of white smoke came from the car and we barely made it into the parking lot into the first parking space (that was providentially free!) The people behind us said that all they could see was smoke and that they were just praying we'd make it to the hotel and by God's grace we did.

Sunday Morning: Hubby left early to head down to the Pittsburgh airport to rent a van. Being Sunday, that was the only place to go. The kids and I got to enjoy breakfast and swim, before packing up and unloading all the stuff from our now junked van.

Sunday Afternoon: The tow truck finally arrived and we said good bye to our faithful van, Harvey. The rental had a GPS with a female voice, so we named her Beth in honor of the bride and enjoyed toying with the technology for the trip home!

Sunday Evening: We arrived in town about 5:30 pm and hit one graduation party. At 6:15 we visited the second graduation party, where most were shocked to see us and wondered how we had gotten home without our van! We pulled in to the third party around 7 pm to celebrate Darlin's graduation with her classmates. The cubs and I finally got to relax a bit til 9:30 p.m. while Hubby ran home to lovingly put in the air conditioner! Once we got home, unpacked and showered we all collapsed from the weekend.

Monday Morning: The kids and I had to leave early because Darlin' and I were headed to Dorney Park amusement park for a final hoorah with her class. Hubby pulled me aside to tell me that Peanut, our once wonderfully 20 plus pounder fat cat - now a mere 13lbs, was not looking good. He'd been sick the past few months, loosing weight and over the weekend had been out in the extreme heat. We all went out on the porch to say our good byes and pet him for the last time. He was laying in the shade of a tree right off the deck near our back door. He lifted his head and meowed at me for the last time that morning when I came out to say good bye. After about 15 min. all he could muster was a flick of his handsome tail every time I called his name. I'm teary eyed just recalling our good bye. Hubby set some water in front of him, Darlin' gave him a flower and when we left he had his paw in the water bowl and gave one more flick of his tail when I said, "Good bye Peanut, you are a great cat and we love you!"

Monday: Darlin' and I had a blast at Dorney Park. Despite the extreme heat that zapped one's energy, we all managed to enjoy ourselves. In the morning the girls did as many roller coasters as they could manage and I called them all crazy people for doing so, while I held the bags (uh, just like high school - I watched my friends do the crazy stunts then. I always said I would have to be gagged and tied to get on one of those contraptions. Thankfully, although threatened by some Handyguys, that was never followed through!) After lunch, we enjoyed the water park. That was so much more delightful than carrying bags around in the heat! We stayed for hours in the wave pool before adventuring off to the slides, which I did go on!

Monday Evening: We arrived home to find that Daddy had been digging a grave for Peanut, on the hottest day of the year. (He's also been suffering from a bad bout of poison ivy ever since!) Our neighbors came over to join us as we all said a little something about how much we adored Peanut. They loved him like their own cat - they had a little bed for him and he would have sleep overs! It was a sad time, but it was kinda nice to be able to bury one of our pets and let the kids say good bye. In the past we've spent so much money on a cat and it would die at the vet. So thanks Peanut, for being the cheapest dead cat we ever had, (aside from the possible callousness of that sentence this fact was greatly appreciated. He was the easiest cat to care for in life and in death.) I hope to do a little tribute to Peanut when I have the chance, because his life was just full of crazy antics that are worth remembering and bringing a smile to my day and hopefully yours. So look for that in the next couple weeks!

Monday Night: I had to run to the grocery store, since I hadn't been home since our return and would be without a car the next day. I cried the whole way home over Peanut and sobbed in the driveway when he wasn't there to greet me at the car!

Tuesday: The kids and I chilled at home in the air. It's a complete blur. I believe we napped and watched movies.

Wednesday: Darlin', her friend, Rachel, MomMom and I headed to NYC for the day to celebrate the girl's graduation in a special way. . .at the American Girl Doll Place! Pictures and stories to come. This little blurb cannot do it justice!

Thursday: The kids played and I recovered from my battle with the yellow cars in NYC the previous day! How does anyone stand to drive in that city for more than a few hours in a lifetime, I'll never understand!

Thursday Evening: Hubby and I went out car shopping. After looking at a few vehicles and finding myself quite depressed over the options in our price range, we headed out for another place. I mean, c'mon, a 2002 Ford Wind Star with no vents in the back, no cruise control, and NO CD PLAYER - that's a deal breaker for me! On our way to the other place the dealer gave us a call with a couple more things to look at, down the road at a different center. We headed there and were blessed to find a 2004 Ford Free Star, fully loaded and in our price range. . .what a blessing! Not only did it include cruise control, backseat vents with rear control and a CD player, but also, automatic pedals to adjust for the 1 foot height difference between hubby and I, automatic on/off passenger air bag, power seats, split third bench that folds into the floor, automatic dimmer on the rear view mirror and the piece de resistance. . .a fold down ceiling DVD Player! Wahooo! We never imagined we'd be able to get all that - what a blessing!(Naturally, we named this van BJ in honor of Beth & John - plus it's also a silvery blue jay color!)

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary with dinner out and a movie On Demand! Hubby opened the pool, so we all went swimming! Celebrated Father's Day at church followed by our annual Father's Day hike. Pictures and stories to come!

WHEW! I'm exhausted just writing about everything that's been going on and that didn't even include everything from this weekend and the past few days (let alone the last few weeks of school filled with parties and field trips!) I've got many errands to run now for the next few days before we head to Virginia Beach for vacation. I do hope I'll be able to post some updates from there or at least fill you in on some more details of the special events above. Keep an eye out for pictures and posts over the next couple weeks!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rainy days and Mondays. . .

I knew I was in for an emotionally unstable kinda day when I woke on the verge of tears lamenting the fact that my kids don't take bubble baths anymore. C'mon, what's that all about?!

It seems I'm having one of those "rainy days and Mondays always gets me down" kind of days, only it's not raining...yet. It's been raining off and on for the past few days and it seems that it may continue for a few more. This morning seemed to be promising sunshine, but now it's a bit cold and cloudy and the forecast is calling for scattered showers.

For some odd reason, I just can't stop breaking into tears today. Nothing's wrong. The kids are healthy, Hubby's great, I'm feeling healthy, but I guess I'm just feeling old. When I found myself crying in my coffee this morning because my kids are growing up and no longer playing with all their bath toys, I decided to attempt to escape my doldrums with my usual Monday routine at the gym. I mean, come on, what did I expect? The cubs are 10 & 12! I don't think they've played with bath toys for years - at least not Darlin', Buddy just graduated to showers this year.

As the conversations surrounding me at the gym revolved over discussions of children, babies to sweet sixteen, I naturally found myself crying in my please-pick-me-up-Starbucks-non-fat-decaf-cappuccino on the ride home. Being that it is lacking the all important pick-me-up ingredients ... it didn't do the trick.

Recently someone was telling me how they went through a period of grieving when they realized they weren't going to be having any more children. She said she kept crying over all the old baby and toddler pictures, because she would no longer be that kind of Mommy any more. I suppose that's how I'm feeling today, as I choke back the tears yet again this morning. It's tough to accept not being that kind of Mommy anymore sometimes. I just need to focus on being a new kind of Mommy, where we play basketball instead of swing at the park, or Risk instead of Monopoly Jr., or be amazed at their classical pieces instead of twinkle twinkle variations, or women's size 6 1/2 hot pink heels instead of Disney Princess sandals.

Home alone, my mind is flooding with all the cute little memories of the cubs growing up. Dance recitals and pink tutus for Darlin' at 2, jumping up and down on stage and clapping for herself when she finished performing for the first time! Little Buddy at 2 crying in the parking lot because he bit his tongue. Me standing there laughing, because he stuck it out and asked me to kiss it to make it better! Piano performances at the mall where passersby would stop to stare at the adorable little boy (4) who would continue to play as he turned and smiled at the audience every few seconds. Darlin' (4) who pulled out all her toys and stuck them by the front door when I told her we were going to look for a new house. When we pulled up to the first place to look at she asked, "Is this the house store?"

Ahh, now I finally have a smile on my face this morning.

Philippians 1:3 - I thank my God every time I remember you.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian has finally arrived and he did not disappoint! The movie started out with a bang and kept me on the edge of my seat from the start (and that's sayin' something since we just finished reading the book a few days ago!)

Obviously, some tweeking was done to the story to adapt it to the silver screen. As the novel is much more narrative, the film needed to deliver the same info and impact only more so visually. I do believe that the movie delivered an action packed adventure that kept the essence C.S. Lewis' novel alive. In fact, I quite enjoyed some of the additions in the battle sequences and relationship nuances that added to the intrique of the story.

My favorite character in Prince Caspian is the mouse, Reepicheep! He had the best one liners and stole the scenes quite a bit. I must say, he was awfully adorable for a talking rodent! Keep an eye out for how he deals with the cat - quite memorable.

My only complaint is that Bulgy Bear needed more screen time! He was just a giant teddy bear in the book and we only got a few glimpses of him in the film. I do hope he'll be back with a bit bigger bulgy role in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The creatures of Narnia were so real it was unbelievable. I truly felt transported to a different world. The special effects were so incredible, that I almost believed there could be talking mice, centaurs, Badger and Bulgy Bear. Likewise, the battle scenes and action sequences were quite realistic and could be a bit scary for the 10 and under crowd. The wolf and hag were enough to keep Buddy and I huddled together for a few minutes til the White Witch was defeated once and for all!

As we drove home tonight, I enjoyed listening to Darlin' discuss with her friend and me the many lessons to be learned from the movie. Here's just some of the insights my 12 year old and I gleaned from this blockbuster.

  • As Christian we sometimes feel out of place in this world, just like the Pevensie children did back in England after living as Kings and Queens in Narnia. Our true home is heaven.
  • Peter realized he needed to be seeking Aslan and not relying on his own sense of direction or strength.
  • Sometimes we need to trust Christ and follow Him, like Lucy, even when no one else around us can or wants to see Him.
  • When we try to do things our own way and not His way, it usually doens't work out too well.
  • All of us, even the High King Peter, can be tempted by the "dark side" (oops, wrong movie!)
  • Sometimes we long for proof of Christ in our life, just as Peter and Susan wish they had seen Aslan too when he appeared to Lucy.
  • God uses the meakest to be the strongest, just like Reepicheep!

In honor of all the dear Narnians I give Prince Caspian top paw ratings!



(2 hrs. 20 min) Rated PG

Monday, May 12, 2008

Making Mother's Day Memories

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day! Mine was a weekend extravaganza, so I thought I would take some time to recap for posterity's sake.

Friday we had a nice family movie night. We watched A Kid in King Arthur's Court. It's a cute movie and is a perfect renter for a family night. The most well known actors in it are Kate Winslet and Daniel Craig, before they had mastered the art of acting. Despite it's predictability, it was a fun film to watch with the cubs. It was quite humorous to realize that it was not at all predictable for them! Precisely why it is a kids movie.

Saturday we enjoyed a breakfast out for McD's hotcakes - a family favorite. Then we headed to Home Depot for my Mother's Day gift: flowers. We ended up with way more than flowers! Hubby decided that it was a good time to yank the dying shrubbery lining our front walk. So we picked up 4 beautiful pink azalea bushes for the front of the house, a pretty pink hydrangea bush for me that was planted under our blossoming cherry tree and a striped hosta that we put near the front stoop.

After dragging the cubs around the outdoor nursery in the chilly air for a couple hours, we took them out for pizza. This was a nice reward for their patience while we were debating over various forms of foliage.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent weeding and planting. Everyone chipped in and the place looks much better now. I can't believe that I forgot to get a before and after shot! I'll have to check the photo archives to see if I can find something to show you all for Wordless Wednesday.

The kids even got to get ice cream from the ice cream truck when it made its way through our neighborhood. Usually the answer is a big N O. They certainly deserved every little treat they got this weekend and they both put in hours of hard work. Of course, Daddy deserves the biggest thanks of all for purchasing everything, pulling up stubborn shrubs, digging holes and planting bushes til after dark! He apparently kept going after Darlin' and I headed out around 5:30 p.m. for a Junior High Youth event at our church.

Saturday evening Darlin' and I had a blast at the Fast Food Frenzy with the youth group. I drove a van full of ladies (3 adults and 3 pre-teens) through this fast food relay race. Despite our best efforts at downing particular fast food items as fast as possible, we still came in last. It was a lot of fun, though, and we look forward to doing it again in the future.

Mother's Day arrived on Sunday morning with a beautiful breakfast in bed! Eggs, toast, juice, tea and strawberries were served on a tray adorned with Buddy's homemade Mother's Day flower pot from school. I received adorable cards, my very own Webkin Himalayan kitty (which I named Hugs) and a picture compendium to the new Prince Caspian movie which premieres this week!

Our church service was wonderful with a sermon based on passages in 2 Timothy. It was a great reminder of the honor of being a mother and the importance of godly mothers in the lives of our covenant children. At one point our pastor was prompting the mothers in the congregation to ask ourselves if we are praying for our kids, teaching our kids and passing on to them the truths of Scripture. Sitting next to me, Little Buddy, having failed to catch that it was a rhetorical question, looked up at me with puppy dog eyes and whispered, "Are you?" He then broke in to a big smile and gave me a hug, which I can only assume meant that he felt that he would've answered yes. (Sniff, sniff. He was listening to the sermon and he thinks I'm a great mom! Sniff, sniff.)

I thought that it would be nice to choose one of the verses from Sunday for the memory verse for this week.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 - But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

After church we headed to Outback Steakhouse for an extraordinarily delicious meal. My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now! Once we had indulged ourselves to our satisfaction, we returned home. Daddy took a well deserved nap while the cubs and I continued to work outside. I supervised and cleaned up while the kids planted the impatiens that we received at church earlier that morning (each Mother's Day they give out little plants to all the women in the church.) The benefit of attending the later service is that there is always a huge amount of flowers leftover, so the past two years we've been able to plant a pretty little Mother's Day garden. It's amazing how many impatiens grow from just a few little plants!

For those of you who know how athletic I am NOT, this next event may come as quite a shock. Are you ready? The four of us played basketball the rest of the afternoon. Shockingly, it was pretty funny! Instead of playing PIG we played MOM and, appropriately, I won. Then we played 2 on 2 and whichever team had Dad, who stands at 6'2", easily won.

In the evening we enjoyed relaxing as a family with C.S. Lewis. First we finished reading Prince Caspian. We wanted to get that done before opening night on Friday. Check out my sidebar for an official countdown! In preparation for the new movie, I thought that the perfect way to close Mother's Day would be for us to watch the first Chronicles of Narnia movie, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We had a blast seeing it again and it got us all psyched for the premiere of Prince Caspian this week.

All in all, it was a great day. To quote Hubby, "I think that was the funnest Mother's Day we've ever had!" I think I quite agree.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Ol' Bartering System is Back

This week we'll return to our study of Proverbs 31. In verse 18 we see a description of a business woman.

Proverbs 31:18 - She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

Now, I don't have much of a business mind, but I've dabbled in a few projects since we've been married. For the first few years I ran a little craft business. Going to craft shows, baking goodies and making fun things occupied a lot of my time while we were living in VA, far away from family and friends. After we had our daughter, I sold Discovery Toys for a few years. Both of these ventures were quite fun and helped our family's needs at the time (occupying my time in VA and providing AWESOME toys for our new child), but they were certainly not profitable! Oh, well.

Eventually, I was able to help out in the home finance department, as well as actually use some of my degrees (imagine that!), by serving as Director of Senior High Youth Ministries at our church.

Of course, looking at the text, it isn't necessarily referring to earning money. It just states that her "trading was profitable." This makes me think of the bartering system. For many of us, this may be how we help our family the most. Do you swap babysitting duties with neighbors or friends? Saves on paying a babysitter. Do you exchange coupons with someone else? Do you have a skill that your neighbor doesn't or vice versa?

My hubby is a computer geek, as I've mentioned before. Our neighbor is not. However, he is skilled in all the plumbing, yard and handy man things you can imagine. When one of our appliances brakes, we call John. It never seems to fail that he is excited about our plight as he responds eagerly, "Great! I've got a computer problem I need fixed!" And thus our friendly neighborhood bartering system continues to this day!

A few years back I babysat my Physical Therapist's newborn. And each week I'd get some great massages and continued PT. Another time I taught Biblical Hebrew to one of the homeschoolers in our church in exchange for babysitting. The opportunities are endless if you just allow yourself to be a little imaginative.

So maybe you're like me - lacking in the business mind department. Be creative with the skills, talents and gifts with which God has blessed you and your family. Could be your neighbor has something to offer you too!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fightin' the Frump

This morning I made a yummy shake that I thought I would share with you. This has been one of the ways that I've been fighting the frump lately. It must be working since I lost 2.2 lbs this past week. Slow and steady, steady and slow that is the way to go!

Cucumber Melon Misty:
(Can you tell I was inspired by the popular Cucumber Melon scented powders, lotions and perfumes?)

1 large cucumber pealed and quartered
2 large slices of honeydew
1 c. green seedless grapes
1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 tsp. Vitamin C powder
1/2 tsp. flax seed
1 Tbsp. Agave

Pulverize in a juicer or Vita-Mix. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Today I finally had the opportunity to see Expelled and I gotta tell ya - it is a MUST SEE! Ben Stein does an excellent job of avoiding what could have been just-another-documentary by interspersing humor throughout the film. He does so, not only with his own dry wit, but by making creative use of old film clips to drive the points home.

I definitely appreciated the moments of levity, which helped me calm down between interviews of the many Darwinist scientists and their consistent insults toward anyone who considers the existence of God to be a plausible idea. I was amazed at how unabashedly these scientists referred to anyone who believes in Intelligent Design as "stupid and ignorant." Now, I could see them lumping me into that category as I have absolutely no scientific background, but I was appalled that they would do so quite vehemently in regard to their own peers - other scientists who are extremely intelligent! Basically, this movie revealed how much the freedom of ideas is being held hostage in numerous universities and institutions around the globe.

It was shocking to see some of the "logical" outcomes of Darwinism. Are you ready? Evolution, aliens, atheism, the Holocaust, abortion, euthanasia, Planned Parenthood, academic elitism, the suppression of freedom of inquiry, loss of free will and no hope. Just to name a few.

To see the teachers, scientists, journalists and others standing up, not necessarily for their own personal views but for the opportunity to allow debate, at the expense of their careers and reputations, was inspirational. Each of us needs to fight our own battle to have our questions asked and considered, even if they can't be answered by way of the scientific method.

I thoroughly enjoyed the explanations of the intricacies of DNA and a single cell. It was just enough to tweak my interest and remind me of how wonderfully created we are, as well as the universe in which live.

I give it:




(90 minutes; rated PG)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Babycakes!




Mary recently asked me how to make the diaper cake above, so I thought I'd pass on my crafty know-how to all my bloggy friends.

BABYCAKES SUPPLIES:

- floral wire
- card board circle 12"-14" diameter (depending on size of your base tier)
- a couple 12" doilies
- hot glue gun & glue
- ribbons & decorative items
- 2-3 small baby bottles with flat tops. (Soap, powder, sippy cup, etc. will do. Anything round that will be about the same size as the width of the diaper. The following directions use 2 small bottles. Adjust as needed.)
-45 - 50 diapers. I used size 3. Try to find plain white. It's hard to do, but I found one that had a decoration only on the front waist. To hide this I just folded the front down to make a triangle and put the solid white to the outside of the cake. (I don't recall the brand name, but it was in a large yellow box at Wal-Mart and it only cost about $18 for a box of about 95. This made two babycakes.)

BABYCAKES DIRECTIONS:

Step 1: Cut out cardboard circle (about 12"-14" in diameter.) Cover with doilies, with lace overlapping edge of cardboard, so the lace can peek out from under the cake.

Step 2 - Separate your bottles from the lids. I found it easier to stack two 4-6 oz bottles one on top of the other, rims together, and then the lids on top of that, rims together as well.

Step 3 - Wrap a long piece of floral wire (about a couple feet) around the bottom bottle (you will eventually use it to tie the center pole together so the cake doesn't topple over). Set aside the other bottles for now. (The only thing I didn't figure out is how to secure the Babycake to the cardboard base. Now that I think about it, I would probably poke a hole in the middle and knot the wire through before securing it to the first bottle.)

Step 4 - Wrap the bottle with diapers (on their sides). I overlapped them about half way. It takes 3 or 4 for the first layer. When you've covered the bottle, and like how it looks, secure it with a piece of wire. Continue to wrap with diapers until it forms a good size base for your cake. Securing each circle with wire (not too tight, though, so you don't rip the diapers!)

Step 5 - Take your next bottle and place it on top of the center of the base layer. Rim to rim works best. Wrap the wire connected to the first bottle around the second bottle, leaving plenty to secure to the third tier and to the top ribbon.

Step 6 - Repeat steps 4 & 5 for as many times as it takes to complete the size cake you want. I did 3 layers and found that was plenty. Leave wire ends poking through on top to secure to the ribbon.

Step 7 - After you have your layers completed, secure the wire on top to a bow. (It takes about 4 -5 yards of ribbon to make a big bow to go on top of the cake. Ribbon with wire edges stand up the best.)

Step 8 - Decorate the cake. I used little rattles I found at Wal-Mart. Just tucked them in the diapers. I also used 2 coordinated colors of ribbon to tie around each tier (Michael's has cute ribbons that have baby sayings on them like "It's a Girl!" or "Baby Booties!") I secured the ends to each other with a dot of hot glue to hold them in place (just don't get the glue on the diapers!)

Makes a great baby shower gift and centerpiece!

Monday, April 28, 2008

How shall I serve the Lord?

Last weekend I attended a women's retreat with the ladies in our church. I really enjoyed the speaker who was inspirational, knowledgeable, understandable, humorous, witty and personable.

By the end of the weekend I kept getting this nudge in my heart and head, "I think I'd like to do that." It's been a couple years out of ministry due to health reasons and now I'm beginning to consider how I can serve God in a way that works with my own limitations.

Of course, after awhile of actually considering being a women's conference speaker, I stopped myself short. WHAT AM I THINKING? Every single women's speaker I've heard seems to have a life full of tragedy. Not your everyday-broke-a-nail kind of "tragedy", but pretty much catastrophic-change-your-life tragedy. Apparently, that is what makes these women so interesting to listen to. We sit amazed, in awe of how they rely on the Lord through each devastation. Why in the world would I want a job with such a prerequisite?!

I doubt my minor trials, although they always seem devastating to me each time, would qualify me to teach hundreds of women how to grow closer to the Lord. I think I'll leave that to the experts and plan on going back to teaching our women's Bible study. The Lord opened the door for me to get back in to that in the fall and that seems to be the perfect fit for the gifts He has granted to me.

Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever!

During the retreat we were asked to write a prayer based on scripture. Here is mine in a pattern of Psalm 136.

Give thanks to the LORD.
His love endures forever.

The Creator of the universe.
His love endures forever.

The Giver of all life.
His love endures forever.

Who promised a Savior in the garden
His love endures forever.

Who rescued Noah from the flood.
His love endures forever.

Who blessed Abraham with His Seed.
His love endures forever.

The Son of David who delivered me.
His love endures forever.

The Holy Spirit who called me.
His love endures forever.

The Father who continues to love me.
His love endures forever.

All praise to the great I AM.
His love endures forever.

To Christ the Word.
His love endures forever.

To the Spirit who comforts.
His love endures forever.

To the LORD who heals.
His love endures forever.

Who sustains me through each trial.
His love endures forever.

Who calms the storm within my spirit.
His love endures forever.

And quiets the raging waters all around me.
His love endures forever.

LORD grant me peace.
His love endures forever.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fightin' the Frump

Well, I thought I would join the ranks over at
Mrs. Fussypants where she is working hard to help us all fight the frump.

So, you may ask, what have I been doin' about that lately? A few things actually. I joined Weight Watchers and have just started my eighth week. I wish I could say I have been doing well at that, but as I'm only down 4 pounds I do believe I've got to work a bit harder. Somehow I did manage to avoid gaining any weight this past weekend, which was a small miracle considering the resort food we ate on our retreat! In fact I lost 1.8 pounds! I do believe I've turned a corner on the weight loss, as my own scale is continuing to decrease. Curious how much I might be down by next Wednesday? Hoping to get in to that 2 lb per week decline to be ready for summer!

In addition to writing down everything I put in my mouth, I have increased my activity. I'll be heading over to the gym to try out the Elliptical machine again. I tried that for the first time on Wednesday. . .what a work out! I definitely have to keep that in my routine as I felt much better after that than I do on the tread mill (not nearly as dizzy and my back didn't hurt - go figure!)

The last thing I want to mention is what I've been eating for lunch the past couple of days. I've been listening to the book Doctor Yourself by Andrew Saul (info here), and he is continually praising the benefits of vegetable juicing. Unfortunately, I'm not a big veggie fan, except of course about Larry and Bob! Despite this, I decided to give it a try. Since he talked about fruit juicing too, I combined the two to make a more palatable drink for myself. Gotta tell you, it was quite yummy and satisfying.

I tossed in my Vita Mix blender (this is an awesome blender, it can pulverize and juice pretty much anything) the following items:

1/2 c. pure blueberry juice
1 whole cucumber (peeled and halved)
1 1/2 c. strawberries (tops and all, just rinsed them)
3 stalks of celery (washed and chopped in medium size pieces)
1 c. frozen raspberries
1/4 c. frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp Agave
1 Tbsp Flax Seed
1/2 tsp Vitamin C

Blend til pulverized into a beautiful smoothie! It was delicious. Next week I'll experiment with some other veggies, but the cucumber and celery was as brave as I got for the first time 'round.

The only drawback to this type of smoothie, was that it didn't last. It was very filling at the time and I felt no need to eat anything else, but I was quite hungry and craving protein a few hours later. Hmmm, any suggestions?

Have fun fighting the frump today! I'm off to the gym.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Led by the Spirit

I'm back and refreshed from our church ladies retreat! The weekend focused on prayer and already I've begun to implement some of what was discussed. For instance, praying continually by having a constant conversation with God throughout the day. This, combined with last night's small group lesson in which we talked about glorifying God in everything we do, enabled me to avoid Dunkin' Donuts this morning.

Here's how it went down inside my depraved little mind. Mmmm, I could really go for a donut and a cup of coffee for breakfast. Considering that I didn't gain any weight over the weekend with all the scrumptious food I ate, I do believe I can justify said donut as my reward. Besides, I'll be working it off at the gym this morning and afterward, I'll be reaaalllly strict for my Weight Watchers weigh in on Wednesday morning.

About half way to Dunkin' Donuts a little question pops into my head. Would I be glorifying God by eating that donut? Sing a song, hum a little tune, try to distract myself from the answer that keeps nagging me. I finally submitted to the Lord's leading and decided against that tempting donut. In my circumstances, with all the health issues linked to an unhealthy diet and the fact that I'm paying good money to attend Weight Watchers, eating a donut would certainly not glorify God. So I pulled over and ate a Weight Watchers granola bar that I happened to have in my purse.

One little victory for the Holy Spirit in my life today!

1 Thessalonians 5: 17 - Pray continually!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Everyone's a Comedian!

Ya know how kids are always telling jokes and attempting to make up their own? I recall the phase of knock-knock jokes that I do believe lasted for several years straight!

Yesterday, Darlin' came up with one that was pretty clever, so I thought I'd pass it on:

What happened to the short football team? They had to "fourfeet!"

If you're interested in further laughs, a little more on the intellectual side, then check out this movie from Ben Stein. He always cracks me up! Expelled debuts in theaters this Friday. It is a documentary on the battle of Darwinism vs Creationism. Based on the trailer, I doubt it will be a boring one. Ben Stein is sure to sandwich the information between his dry wit and intellectual humor like a good Oreo!

I'm hoping I get to see it at some point, but I'll be away on a Ladies' retreat with our church this weekend. I'll let you know what I think as soon as I see it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

With Vigor!

I've got my workout clothes on and I'm heading to the gym. Today I was planning to focus on my arms, before I even looked at this next verse in Proverbs 31.

Proverbs 31:17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

How appropriate is that? I was already planning to make my arms stronger. Now I've got to work on the "vigorously" part. I'm not one to do anything with much vigor, except perhaps getting up in front of people and embarrassing myself (and my daughter) for entertainment's sake. Anything for a good laugh right?

Last month I attended a school retreat with Darlin'. Each of the parents had to participate in a skit. Ours happened to be the only one with a song: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Well, the other mothers and I attacked that with much vigor, to the chagrin of our kids, who I might add were all smiles amidst their red cheeks! One of the dads even called me the Redheaded Aretha!

So maybe if I put on some mo-town and sweep my hair up into an explosive beehive of curls I may just be able to attack my household chores with as much gusto. Here's to working vigorously!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More Melodrama

Welcome to medical melodrama month sponsored by Denitra's Den. Glad to be of service to you (please note the sarcasm!)

So the saga continues. Wish I could say it was an April Fool's joke, but no.

Now for the weekly update.

I saw the surgeon and scheduled belly button surgery for April 24th. Yup. You read that right: belly button. Apparently I've got an umbilical hernia. Hmmmm, wonder if a tummy tuck will be a part of the procedure?

Despite the obvious belly button issue, the surgeon is not convinced that it is the source of my problems, namely abdominal discomfort and pain. So he wants to pursue gallstones. (This is where Hubby laughed. It just doesn't seem to stop!)

So to recap: Last month I went to the doc with the flu and discovered I had kidney stones. The other week I went back with kidney stones and he told me I'm pre-diabetic (haven't even mentioned this one yet!) but that will have to wait til we sort out the kidney thing. So he sent me to a surgeon who, mocking my puny kidney stone, declared it must be the bladder and I'd better get surgery on that hernia (which I didn't even know I had!) On to the surgeon who said. Yup, that hernia's gotta go, but I think your real problem is the gall bladder and you oughta get the intestines checked out while your at it, too . . . just in case!

ENOUGH ALREADY - I sound like a hypochondriac! (Hmmm, that might be nice - then it would all just be in my head.)

Tune in for next week's continuing saga of medical melodrama when Denitra declares, "What?! You have got to be kidding me!"

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Business Savvy Wife

Lookin' at Proverbs 31:16 we see a description of a business savvy wife. Check it out:

She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

Not only is this woman accomplishing the tasks of wife, mother, and homemaker (which I've got to add - was much more rigorous in Old Testament times. I mean, c'mon, when have I ever had to spin yarn or kill our animals for food?!), but now she has started her very own home-based business.

Now, I've tried several times to have my own little business going. I sold crafts, candies and baked goods for a year or so and later moved on to selling Discovery Toys for a couple of years. Unfortunately, I'm not as business savvy as the Proverbs 31 woman seems to be. As my husband put it, I ran a very nice charity!

Perhaps, we can look at this another way. Are we helping or hindering our home finances? Those times where I attempted my own business, may have been questionable if I was helping at all, but that was my intent. Working as the Senior High Youth Director for a few years, was probably my biggest contribution during our marriage.

The current season of life in which I find myself is not at all conducive to contributing to the household funds. So how can I be "business savvy" without really being involved in any kind of business?

I was reading a book called The Coupon Mom and she helped me understand how. By viewing my home as my business I can contribute to helping our financial situation by focusing on saving money. I've definitely been doing better at this: making hubby lunch most days, trying not to eat out myself as often as I did before, and trying to implement a coupon system when I do grocery shopping. In essence I'm attempting to be more business savvy and in so doing, emulating the Proverbs 31 woman to a small degree. As a firm believer in being a stay at home Mom, I find this most encouraging!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back on Spin Cycle

Once again it is that time of year when it seems to rain more often, the flowers start poking through the ground, the sun brings outdoor coat-free time, and I stand swaying in the breeze. Literally.

I might as well just mark my calendar every year for this particular week in the Spring, when the vertigo rears its ugly head, just a little bit higher than before. So far, so good. Just seems to be set on a gentle spin cycle. Haven't made the annual trek to the emergency room. . .yet. However, a feeling of foreboding is upon me.

The past week I have felt more as if I am walking a ship at sea, than standing flatfooted in the kitchen attempting to pull some semblance of dinner together. Right now the seas are getting choppier, the longer I take to finish this post! Like I said before - so far, so good. I've been worse, so I need to just back off from the computer a bit and rest a little more. (Just a little warning if I'm not posting over the next few days.)

Today, the hurricane arrived. Fighting the sea legs I've seemed to acquire, I headed to an appointment at the urologist regarding a small kidney stone. Despite the fact that the walls of the examining room began to billow in the non existent sea air, I managed to not fall over and kept clear enough to be blown over by the diagnosis.

Naturally, I need to follow up on the kidney stone with an ultrasound. If that doesn't answer the question, then I believe the words he used were "we'll use the scope to see the bladder". . .YIKES! I'm reaaallly hoping it doesn't come to that. Still, this was all somewhat manageable until the poking.

After a few minutes of poking and prodding in particular places and me practically jumping off the table, the doctor looks back at my records. Oh, well perhaps it's your hernia.

WHAT?! What hernia? I don't have a hernia! Well, apparently I do and it was just discovered 2 months ago in the midst of all the kidney testing. Hmmm, you'd think that would've warranted a mention to me. . . .

This doc felt it merited much more than a mention and has sent me to see a surgeon ASAP. That appointment is tomorrow. So it looks like my traditional ER visit will be an actual OR visit.

I don't even want to think how I'm going to top this for next year!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Are you a morning Mom?

This week, I'm back to memorizing Proverbs 31 and today's verse is a doozy for me.

Proverbs 31: 14 - She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.

Hmmm. I'm definitely not a morning person. Gotta work on that one. Do ya think getting the kids their breakfast and packing lunches in the morning counts? I think I'm gonna go with that one here. Seems like the context is focused on buying groceries (v.14), getting up when needed and providing for the family. I definitely need to work on the "getting up when needed" part!

Well, my "servant girls", Gen E. and May Tag, are waiting for me to give them their daily assignments of laundry and dishes.

May you have a productive Proverbs 31 Woman day!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eggstravaganza!

(Sorry for the delay - this was meant to be posted on Tuesday, but our computer wasn't cooperating. Finally, the TCG (the computer geek, aka Hubby) was able to fix it! I love him!! So here it is.)

Easter Sunday was quite the eggstravaganza for our family. We spent the morning at church, enjoying the early service, a yummy brunch and then lounging in the library while Hubby counted during the late service.

We drove 45 min. to visit Mom Mom and Pop Pop in my hometown. After more yummy snacks, we headed to the nursing home to visit Babci (my grandmother.) Her sister, Aunt Charlotte, and Bob also stopped by, so we had quite a crowd. We sang some songs, played with a stuffed chickie from my Aunt Vicki, looked at old photos and even attempted to learn how to say Happy Easter in Polish!

After visiting Babci, everyone came back to my folk's house for Easter dinner. Or should I say "Thanksgiving dinner?!" - Turkey, stuffing, veggies, mashed potatoes. . .yummy! Being that Easter is a celebration of Christ's resurrection and the gift of salvation, it definitely was a thanksgiving meal!

My mother's birthday was last Saturday, March 15th. I picked up a Happy St. Patty's Day Birthday card for her - which I think is pretty funny as she is 100% Polish and only IBM - Irish By Marriage!

Hubby commented that there just wasn't a market available for Happy St. Patty's Easter Birthdays. Mom informed us that this was the earliest Easter had been since 1913! It will not be that early again for another 220 years! Wow! She should write a letter or something to pass down to my kid's great, great, (however many "greats" that would be) grandchildren to open on Easter, March 23, 2228 - pretty wild, eh?!

In celebration of Mom's birthday and Easter I decorated a cake. This one was a simple chocolate bunny. Mom has been the director of Rabbit Hill Nursery school for years, so the bunny is her personal mascot and of course she loves chocolate (although, ya can't tell by lookin' at her - wish I'd inherited her metabolism. . .thanks alot Dad!) So in honor of the traditional chocolate Easter bunny here is my eggstra-special bunny cake:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter!

We interrupt the regularly scheduled Proverbs 31 memory verse to bring you 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

Hope you all had a wonderful resurrection day celebrating the new life we have in Christ!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cub Quotes

My 10 year old son:

"I just break out into song all the time. My life is a musical!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Sweet Life

This week's healthy habit tip is: avoiding refined sugar. We've all heard this one, right? I myself have tried many times to give it up with little success. So let me correct myself here, the tip for the day is reducing refined sugar. That's better. I think I can handle that one, how about you?

Failure to avoid or reduce refined sugar in our diets is usually predicated upon that fact that there are not too many great replacements out there and, let's face it, we do need to keep a little sweetness in our lives!

Cheer up, though, there is hope. Sugar substitutes are being more widely marketed. Just check out your local health food store or the organic aisle in your neighborhood grocery chain (they seem to be expanding continually!) No longer are we limited to the heavyweights of NutraSweet and Equal.

In fact I highly recommend staying away from those heavyweights as they have been known to cause cravings and much worse. If you are not aware of the controversies surrounding aspartame, then I suggest checking out Wikipedia. I found this to be the most objective, informative and helpful resource. My conclusion: consider aspartame (NutraSweet & Equal) dangerous to your health.

I no longer allow my children to drink or eat anything sweetened with aspartame (that includes gum!) A bit of pure sugar is better for them then processed chemical sweeteners.

In our household we have tried different types of sugar substitutes. Below is a list from least to favorite:

Stevia: I have this on hand for use in drinks, but I have found this the most difficult sweetener to incorporate. It tends to have a prominent after taste in beverages which makes it an acquired taste. I never quite figured out how to bake with it successfully.

Sucralose: When it comes to candy or gum I will allow the kids to have items sweetened with Splenda. As it is still a chemically altered sweetener, I do limit exposure and no longer use it for baking or sweetening. In addition to my concern with long term use, our family's constitutions seem to be quite sensitive to the product.

Xylitol: This is one of the many sugar alcohols you may see listed in ingredients (pretty much anything that ends with "ol".) Xylitol is also sold separately for use in baking, cooking and sweetening. I find this to be the best replacement for baking, but because the sugar alcohols have a laxative effect similar to Splenda, I advise using it in moderation. Typically, I will replace only part of the sugar called for in a recipe with Xylitol and use either date or maple sugars for the remaining part. I find that our family is able to digest Xylitol in baked goods with no adverse effects. The only problem seems to be when I make lemonade. So now I make the real thing as a treat, instead of the forced colon cleansing. (Please note that some people do not have any negative reaction to Xylitol in beverages. My friend's children drink their sweetened lemonade all summer with no problem!)

Xylitol also has great health benefits. It is low in calories and does not contribute to high blood sugar. Those suffering with diabetes, hypoglycemia or candida are most likely able to incorporate this sweetener into their diets safely. (Remember to check with your doctor first!) Additional benefits include increased health in teeth, ears and bone density. I've replaced our household chewing gum with only xylitol based products (available at local stores) because it is supposed to be very beneficial for protecting children's teeth.

The final three sweeteners are great for combined use in baked goods, but be warned they do contain calories!
Date Sugar: Works great as a substitute for brown sugar in baking recipes. I use it in combination with maple sugar for the topping in my apple crisp.

Pure Maple Sugar: Oooh! This one is especially yummy mixed in oatmeal or apple pie. My son has to avoid refined sugar due to candida, so I mix this with cinnamon for his cinnamon toast!

Agave: This is my ultimate favorite sweetener! Use it just like you would honey. The best thing about agave, is that it does not affect glucose levels, so it is typically safe for diabetics. (Remember to check with your doc first!) I use this in lots of stuff. It is great for sweetening beverages: iced tea (but for some reason, not lemonade), hot tea/coffee or homemade cocoa. It works well in baked goods, breads, and pies. For a tasty salad dressing just mix it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper.

I hope these tips will help give you some motivation to experiment with some of those less marketed sweeteners as well as provide you with informative links to guide you in making the best choices for you and your family! So, go! Enjoy the sweet life!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Life of a Housewife

Monday. Time to go grocery shopping. . .again. It seems as if all I do is shop, wash dishes, and do laundry. It's just an endless cycle in the life of a housewife. Ho - hum.

Last night I pushed through the dreary routine to complete loading the dishes and shining my sink before I crashed with Hubby to enjoy an old episode of Seinfeld. (Ahh, nothing like a good laugh at the expense of poppy seed muffins!)

Of course this morning I'm struck with the words of Proverbs 31: 13&14:

She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

Eager hands. I need to work on that one, as I usually just feel like I'm going through the motions. Eager is definitely not the word I would use to describe my homemaking. I need to replace the idea of drudgery with eagerness. God's the only one that can do that in my life, so that is what I'll be praying for this week.

Look at what else is keeping the Proverbs 31 woman busy: grocery shopping! Pretty apropos for me today when it's time to clip those coupons and hit the nearest Giant. I feel encouraged as I plan to get the best deals I can sailing around in Hubby's Hyundai (my boat's in the shop), picking up fruits and veggies from far off lands like California and Florida!

I feel a little better now about my goals for the day: shopping, dishes and laundry. It helps to put them in a better context - a Biblical perspective!

Have a great homemaking day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Identity Crisis

As long as I can remember, I have been identified as the "curly red headed" girl. Granted, when I was little it was much brighter, so there was no denyin' it was red. Mom could always spot me on the beach - the pale kid with the carrot top!

In recent years it has darkened to a calmer shade of amber or perhaps bronze. Although, now many people seem to be confused by its color and don't quite know how to categorize it.

When I was young it was sometimes considered strawberry blonde (one guy even called me blondie, but I think he needed to have his eyes checked) and more recently I'm guessing that people must place it in the brunette category.

Considering that my hair is the one part of my body that I do like, I find myself feeling quite disconcerted when someone no longer considers me to have "red hair."

Just the other week I was meeting a friend for lunch. She gave the waitress the description of "curly red hair", so she could direct me to the proper table. After I arrived my friend let the waitress know. The waitress indicated that she thought she was supposed to be looking for someone with red curly hair. Ouch!

At least my friend still thought it looked red! She seemed shocked that anyone would think otherwise. I relayed to her some of my stories of people telling me, "Oh, in this light you do have reddish hair!" or when someone else referred to me as the redhead in the room and the other person replied, "What redhead? There's no redhead in here."

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm holding on to some delusion here about having red hair. So let me know what you think. How should I describe myself these days? The lady previously known to have red hair but now its a shade of auburn or brown. What should I put on my driver's license?




Go ahead. Tell me what you think and I'll try not to cry about it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Welcome to the Blog Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Welcome to my little corner of blogville. Grab a cup o' coffee (or tea if you prefer!), sit a spell and enjoy exploring the den!

My first post will give you a good idea of what to expect here at the den. I've only been blogging since the New Year and am enjoying keeping in touch with friends and family, as well as, meeting new friends!

Now that I'm a bit more proficient at blogging, I am starting to incorporate some regular features. Each Monday I post a Monday Morning Memory verse that is displayed on the sidebar for the week. Currently, I am working on memorizing Proverbs 31 and applying it to my life, marriage and family.

On Wednesday I enjoy posting a picture and linking to Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom. Healthy Habit Tips will also become a bit more regular as I continue to delve into the world of healthy eating and exercise.

At the Popcorn Diaries I review movies that we've watched over the weekend. On the side bar I keep a list of family favorites, including a count down for the next film in a favorite series, The Chronicles of Narnia!

I am married to a wonderful computer geek (term of affection here at the den!) and often post about our cubs, Darlin' (12) and Buddy Bear (10).

I am an extrovert. I enjoy hosting or attending parties and events with friends and family (and then posting about them!) I especially love decorating cakes for my cub's birthday parties and planning theme parties!

That about sums it up for me. I hope you enjoy your time at the den!

Don't forget to join the party and check out all the cool prizes:
  • #72 A Webcam. . .cool! (from Liz)
  • #112 & #130 I love Starbucks!
  • Tons more stuff . . . so go check it out!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Good Wife

This week my Monday Morning Memory verse is Proverbs 31:12 - She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

I just added this one one to verse 11 on the side bar because it is easier to remember the two together. Just makes more sense.

The reason the husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value, is because his wife is good to him and does not harm him. The rest of the passage goes into detail on what that looks like.

To sum it up, the Proverbs 31 woman looks out for her man and treats him well.

Hmmm, so the focus for this week is. . . be nice!