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


(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!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tooth Dismay

When Darlin' got glasses in first grade I was amazed how much she looked just like my cousin, Jill, when she was that age. In second grade Darlin' had to get braces due to the horizontal shark teeth she seemed to have sprouting from her gums! With the braces and the glasses she was the smitten image of my cousin. Pretty wild how those family resemblances work, eh? Darlin' is now in 6th grade and eagerly anticipating her participation in Jill's fall wedding!

This week we had the obligatory follow up at the orthodontist. It had been several months since Darlin' was told to sleep with out her bottom retainer in an attempt to allow the teeth to move out a bit for a proper bite. Hmmmmm, would have thought that the braces she wore for 18 months would have helped, but who am I?

Darlin' and I were both dismayed when the orthodontist proclaimed that she would need "phase two." Yup, you guessed it - she has to get another round of braces for 14 months! Poor thing!

After loudly lamenting future deprivation of gum, candy and popcorn, again, she accepted the inevitable and grumbled, "Thanks a lot, Jill."

Maybe I need to back off on those family comparisons, eh?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy B-Day To My Lil' Buddy!

Today is a milestone day for me and my littlest cub: his 10th birthday (sniff. . . sniff. . .when did my baby boy get to be so big?!) He is very excited to have entered into double digits whilst I, on the other hand, continue to be traumatized!

True to form, we had a celebratory weekend culminating with a special birthday dinner today. Buddy's birthday party was held at Chuck E. Cheese's. The kids had a blast! The only draw back to throwing a party there for older kids, is that they run through their tokens in the first ten minutes with all the arcade games. (Gone are the days of climbing and sliding contentment!) We managed to keep them active by rationing out our stash of extra tokens.

Lil' Buddy (who's not so little anymore. . .sniff. . .sniff. . .) wanted to do a race car theme for his birthday this year. (Yes, you are correct, this implies that every year the cubs have themed birthdays. It's a bit of an obsession on my part, but I do love planning parties. Remember Darlin's?!)

To round out the race car theme we provided Disney/Pixar's CARS plates, napkins and candle. The party favors were CARS stadium cups filled with candy, a Hot Wheels car and a CARS pencil. The pièce de résistance was the race car cake!

Top View

Side/Back View

Side/Front View

Pretty cool, huh? Buddy Bear loved it and so did all his buddies. Of course, the birthday boy had to have the piece with his name on it, which was basically the whole side of the car - still cute!

Despite the difficulty I had in getting a decent yellow and red color that would suit a race car, it was one of the easier cakes to decorate. The pan is a 3-D car pan from Wilton, so I didn't have to brave sculpting some semblance of a vehicle.

All in all it was one of the smoothest parties we've thrown. The most work I had was baking and decorating - which took some planning and foresight on my part as it was quite a busy week aside from party prep. The favors were soooo easy and once at Chuck E. Cheese's everything was a breeze.

Wonder how to top this for his 11th?! Sniff. . .sniff. . .sniff. . .

A Fortunate Man

I had the honor this weekend to do a short devotional at a friend's bridal shower (one of "my girls" from youth group, all grown up and getting married. . .sniff, sniff. . . I'm getting old!)

If you haven't guessed by now, I decided to speak on Proverbs 31. I was amazed while reading this chapter how many characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman Amber already possessed. (I only wish I had such a head start entering my marriage 15 plus years ago!)

She is:
  • a gem
  • organized
  • hard-working
  • business savvy
  • physically fit & strong
  • a keen shopper
  • optimistic (no whining allowed!)
  • instructive
  • able to manage and delegate
  • not lazy or idle
  • fears the Lord
  • even knows how to farm!

Pretty impressive, huh?

My hope at the shower was to encourage Amber to continue to cultivate those Proverbs 31 qualities that are already evident in her. What a great way to enter marriage.

It was also a great reminder to me, and hopefully the other women present, to examine ourselves to see what Proverbs 31 qualities we already possess. Too often we view the Proverbs 31 woman as an unattainable woman that is beyond our grasp. This list of qualities should encourage, and at times, challenge and convict us to strive for excellence in our life, marriage and family.

What I love about Proverbs 31 is that it is a list of character traits for a young prince (v.1) given by his mother in alphabetical (Hebrew) order to help him find a wife. Here God provides the guys with a list of qualities to look for as they search for a marriage partner.

This reminds me of the many girl retreats I have led over the years (Amber was at the very first one!) At some point the girls take the time to think and pray about a list of qualities they want to have in their future husband. When I hear about them dating seriously, one of the first questions I ask them is, "Does he fit your list?" They proudly state, "Yes, he does!" (Come to think of it, I don't believe anyone has ever answered "no.")

What a privilege, we as mothers (or even mentors!), have to prepare our sons and daughters for marriage. Helping them to develop Biblically based lists of qualities and characteristics that the Lord finds pleasing for their future mate.

Amber is on her way to fulfilling the list God has given in Proverbs 31. Her husband will be a fortunate man, because he has found a Proverbs 31 wife!

Proverbs 31:11 - Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.