Monday, September 29, 2008

A Py-uh Inawinnow

No, that's not English. It's Pepperese. And I could not for the life of me figure out what he was saying when he said "a py-uh inawinnow" this morning. I tried really hard, but I just could not understand his frantic little words. Eventually I went downstairs, and was stopped short by "a py-uh inawinnow"...A SPIDER IN THE WINDOW!

It is such a beautiful day here that Matt opened all the "winnows" in the house this morning to let in some fresh air. Yes, we do have screens, and yes, the screens are all intact and in place. This means that the "py-uh" perched on the INSIDE center of my living room screen did not come from outside. Of course, I didn't figure this out until later...

Debbie and I, giggling hysterically out of fear, tred to talk each other into smashing the giant. And a giant it was! That horrid brown beast of a spider was at least 3 inches long with a body the size of a quarter. He had darker brown markings and no hair. I couldn't distingush a violin shape on him, which is good. But I've also never seen a spider like him before, which for now is bad. Eventually, I took a deep breath, jumped forward, and closed the window, trapping the spider between the screen and the window. And then I called Galant Husband.

While Matt and I were discussing my spider extermination options, I realized the spider was gone. Debbie and I ventured closer to the window to see if we could figure out where he went. We could not see him anywhere between the window and the screen. Snapper and Pepper joined us at the window as we all cautiously looked around on the floor, pulling aside curtains in a vain attempt to find the invader. A fly chose that unfortunate moment to land on Debbie's cheek. When you have large brown spider on the brain, an unexpected touch on the face does not trigger a rational reaction.

Debbie screams (as only a Bertholic girl can scream) and jumps, slamming her shoulder into my elbow. I scream and jump, knocking over my unfortunate son. He screams and jumps up, literally climbing my legs to escape the "py-uh." Snapper screams and scrambles for the stairs, tripping and stumbling the whole way up to her room. Now that we're all a safe distance from the window, Debbie and I try to calm our wildly beating hearts. Pepper is clinging to my shirt and crying uncontrolably. Snapper is bawling in terror in the top bunk of her bed. Debbie is rubbing the large red spot my elbow made on her shoulder. I am shaking my arm, which has gone numb and tingly from Debbie's shoulder connecting with the nerve in my elbow. Still trembling from the adrenaline rush, Debbie and I look at each other and start laughing. We laugh until our sides ache. The whole thing was so sudden and silly, and the panic was so ridiculous and unnecessary.

At this point I'll add that while all of this took place, I was holding the phone to my ear. Poor Matt, who was taking a test for his Worship class, was treated to the sound of his screaming, panicking family. Poor guy! Once he was sure we are all still alive, he had a good laugh.

Eventually I gathered enough courage to look for the spider. I couldn't find him anywhere in the living room, so I began to hope he had found a hole in the screen and had returned to the great outdoors. I had to make sure or I knew I would be on edge for the rest of the day. So I put on Matt's flip flops. They're big enough so that none of my skin comes close to the edge of the sandal, which leaves my feet protected should I suddenly have to step on the monster. I cautiously cracked the front door and peeked out. No spider. I bravely stepped out onto the front porch, my eyes alert for any sign of movement. No spider. I tiptoed to the window and began to examine the screen. And then I see him. That ugly spider is still safely trapped between window and screen. There are no holes or tears in the screen. I breathe a sigh of relief, still shuddering at the thought of that thing loose in my house.

It took me 5 minutes to convinceSnapper it was safe to come out of her bed. It took me another 5 minutes to get Pepper to release his death grip on my shirt. And 30 minutes later, my skin was still prickling with heebie jeebies about that dumb py-uh inawinnow. And then it occurred to me...


So now what do I do? I have done a thorough search of my downstairs. I can't find any evidence of there being other spiders, except for a daddy longlegs in the corner of the downstairs bathroom. I even pulled the couch and chair away from the wall. Since I can't find them but I know that guy didn't appear out of thin air, it's time to call Terminix. Will I ever feel safe in my bed again?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Darn Good Weekend!

It is Sunday night. My kids are tucked into their beds and are sound asleep. My kitchen is clean. My living room is tidy and ready for the start of another week. I spent all afternoon yesterday cycling, folding, and putting away laundry. I won't have to do laundry again for another 2 weeks or so. Woo hoo! Lesson plans are ready for the morning. The whole house smells like the wonderful cinnamon candles I've been burning all weekend. My husband is at OUR COMPUTER, which is back from Best Buy this afternoon.

Side note--DO NOT buy a computer from Best Buy. DO NOT have The Geek Squad work on your computer. They are lazy, sloppy, and entirely dishonest. It took them 6 weeks to replace our hard drive. They returned the computer to us last week and told us there was a new hard drive in it. We get it home only to discover that they had wiped our old hard drive clean (the one that has now crashed twice), rebuilt it, and put it back in. They told us it was a new hard drive. Liars! They lied about other things, too. What could have been done in the store in 30 minutes took them 6 weeks to do, and caused Matt several hours of frustration, trips down to the store, talks with various associates, managers, etc. to get it all squared away. Okay, enough complaining. I have my computer back, and I'm glad.

So anyway, where was I going? Oh yeah! It has been a fabulous weekend. It started on Friday night. A kind friend from church gave us a gift certificate for a night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. So Deb-Deb babysat overnight for us. Matt and I went and saw Fireproof. Fabulous movie! I highly recommend it. It will be the best money you've spent on a movie in a very long time. After the movie, we went to P.F. Chang's for dinner. Yummy! We checked into the hotel and enjoyed a quiet evening just talking without kids interrupting. I slept like a log on the kingsize Serta pillowtop mattress. Matt got an awful headache in the middle of the night. After visiting the front desk to beg for Advil, he ended up spending the rest of his night on the couch in our room. Poor guy! The Advil kicked in, and we both slept until our alarm went off at 9. I can't tell you the last time I slept until 9! It was wonderful! We enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast of croissants and lattes at a local bakery. It was so great to have some focused time for the two of us. It wasa much-needed break from routine for us both. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry, and crocheting between loads. I'm on a make-hats-for-cancer-patients kick right now.

This morning was church. One of the guys in our community group got baptized this morning, so we went out to lunch to celebrate. We went out to...Sam's Club...for pizza. Ha ha! Strange yes, but a good value for sure! The kids napped this afternoon. Matt worked on getting the computer set up. I crocheted, watched the NASCAR race, and forced myself to drink a quart of cranberry juice. Not the Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail. Nope, it was the real, no-sweetener-added, Whole Foods junk. I have yet another bladder infection, and I can't take antibiotics this time. So it's the miserable regiman of that torturous juice for me the next 3 days. I'm praying it works, cause that crap is N-A-S-T-Y! It's bitter enough to make my eyes water and my hair curl! At least my Jimmie Johnson won the race today, the cause for much rejoicing for me! Go Lowes! See, I knew that my wearing the corny NASCAR #48 lounge pants would bring Jimmie good luck!!! I take partial credit for Jimmie's win today. Tonight we went back to church for an all-church prayer meeting. It was good for my heart to spend an hour with our church family seeking God's face for wisdom in the future direction of our church. I love our church!

Now I'm comfortably (except for the quart of cranberry juice churning in my stomach) settled in bed. I'm thankful for the use of Deb-Deb's laptop when she's not at home! I'm thinking ahead to the coming month. There's so much to look forward to! Next weekend is the LifeChange staff women's retreat. I'm looking forward to a weekend away to be encouraged and to spend time with God and my gal pals. We'll be at a gorgeous lakefront resort, and the weather is supposed to be spectacular! The following weekend I'm flying out to North Carolina to spend 5 days with Beverly. I seriously can't wait! We have big plans to watch chick flicks, drink tea, look at pictures, and do lots of laughing. She's good for me--a reality check and a reminder not to take my health for granted. I'm good for her--someone who is not intimidated by her illness, someone who could care less if she's bald and can't walk, someone who has walked very closely the cancer road before and is familiar with what she's going through. I thank God for this sweet friend. And I try not to think of what will happen to my heart if she loses this battle. *Shudders*

There's a lot of other awesome stuff coming up and lots more to say, but I think I've said enough for tonight. I hope I haven't bored you with this rather mundane recounting of our weekend and anticipation of the next few weeks. This blog was more for me than for anyone else. Happy week, y'all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sweet Little Things

I love those "ah-ha" moments when something clicks with my kids, when you can almost see the lightbulb turn on in their heads. And I love it when the good in them outshines the whining, bickering, and temper flareups that are part of being self-centered little people. Here are a few of those sweet moments from the last week.

Snapper (ah-ha!): We've been working on adding 9's this week. She has a quick memory, and often memorizes math facts, fooling me into believing she understands them. She has gotten perfect scores on her math papers this week. There's that sharp little memory, without a hint of true understanding. But then this morning, the light clicked on and she said, "OH! I GET it! The 9 steals one from the other number and becomes a 10. It is easy-shmeezy to add anything to ten! So on 9+8, 9 steals one and makes the 8 a 7. Then it's 10+7 which is 17! I GET it!"

Pepper (ah-ha!): He was singing "Jesus Loves Me" to his baby doll this morning. All of a sudden, his face brightens up and he looks at me with enormous brown eyes (melt Mommy's heart) and literally shouts, "Mommy! Jesus love 'Pepper'!"

Snapper (good triumphs): When she learned that Matt and I were getting tested to see if we can be bone marrow donors for Beverly, Whitney said, "I want to take the test, too. If my bones match Beverly's bones, she can have my bones. I think it would hurt to not have no bones no more, but that's okay, she can still have mine."

Pepper (good triumphs): I had to spank Snapper the other day for throwing the cat off the couch. She knows (from past experience and very clear boundaries being set) that if she causes pain to a helpless animal, she will have to feel some pain in order to help her empathize with that animal. So Snapper got her spank and was crying on the couch. Pepper took his precious Mimi (blankie) to Snapper, stroked her hair and said, "Don't cry,'Snapper'. I sorry. I forgive you. You can have my Mimi."

In the aftermath of our crazy day last week, I was thankful for a few shining moments which reminded me of how special is it to be a the mommy of these two kids.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A New Friend and the Fingerprints of God

Over the last several weeks I've had the privilege of getting to know someone very special. Her name is Beverly. Beverly was Matt's college girlfriend. I know, weird, right? Yes! But it's also not weird at all. Let me explain. Over the years Matt has told me bits and pieces about Beverly. Matt broke up with her 12 years ago because he knew it was what he needed to do. It was very hard of Matt and Beverly both, but it was God's intervention. We know that now. 12 years went by with no contact. All we have known about her these last several years was that she was married and living in North Carolina. And then, for whatever reason, about a month ago I started thinking a lot about Beverly. I felt the strong need to know where and how she was. I have no explanation for that. A google search turned up no new information. But then I did a search on Facebook. When I typed in her name, a group "In Honor of Beverly G" popped up. I took a look at the page...and discovered that is was the right Beverly, and that she has leukemia. Needless to say, it was a shock to me, but even more to Matt. We cried together and prayed for wisdom as to whether or not we should intrude on her life and get back in touch. I knew it would be a bit hard for me, but I also knew that should God open the door for us, we should walk through it.

Matt's mom provided the answer for us. She called Beverly just to talk, and determined that it would be okay for us to get in contact with her, too. I assured Matt that it was okay with me. So we sent an email. And she emailed back. After exchanging a few emails, she called me. I sat out on the front porch, and in a sense of unreality, talked for 4 hours with Beverly. The connection was instant. When we got off the phone (only after both of our cell phones died), I knew a lot about her, and she knew a lot about me. We are so much alike, in fact, that we've decided we are twins, separated at birth. Seriously, we have so much in common that it's kind of crazy. I've never met someone else who was so much like me!

That night Matt and I stretched out on our bed and I told him all about my conversation with his old girlfriend. All we could think was, "This shouldn't be happening...this shouldn't be possible! This is weird, this is crazy, but this is RIGHT!" Matt was at peace with it. I was at peace. And Beverly was at peace. Turns out I am the answer to her prayers for a new, close friend. Go figure! Who would have thought it would be me!

Over the past week "Bevvy-O" and I have talked on the phone every day. We've talked when she has been at home. We've talked while she has been in the hospital. We've laughed together, and even shed a few quiet tears (mainly on my end). She and Matt have been able to exchange a few emails and bring the closure they never had 12 years ago. Both Matt and Beverly recognize God's divine intervention in their relationship. She is married to a wonderful man who is just the right one for her. And she openly tells both Matt and me that I am much better for him than she ever was.

This sweet new friend has really challenged me. Even though she is in the thick of treatment for her relapse of leukemia and is awaiting a bone marrow transplant, she has an amazing sense of humor. Right now she is so weak that she can't even stand, and is dreading the arrival of mouth sores that will ulcerate her mouth for 2 months. And yet she's plotting practical jokes to play on her doctor, and looking for joy in the midst of the pain. From time to time she'll let down and tell me about how she's hurting or how sick she feels, but it is never in a spirit of complaining. She is amazing! She is taking one day at a time, trusting God every step of the way. As a result of my conversations with her, I have been able to get outside myself (I've been pretty introverted recently) and reach out. I have been on the hunt for people to get tested as possible bone marrow matches, with great response. I've been moved back into a lifestyle of prayer, as Beverly is never far from my mind. And she has caused me to think about my own life and relationships with my family. Matt and I have gotten so much closer this week. And I've appreciated my kids more than ever. I've also been more grateful for my good health. Thanks, Bev.

In November I get to go to North Carolina and spend 5 days with Beverly. (If we can figure out a way to pay for me to fly out there sooner, I'll do that, too.) Matt will be at the Weekend to Remember in Kingsport, Tennessee, November 7-9. Bev and I are hoping she'll be at home then, so we can relax a bit more. I'll still go if she is in the hospital and I'll stay with her there. We're also praying she doesn't have mouth sores then so we can talk our hearts out. If she does, she has a trusty whiteboard and I'll bring her a new 3-pack of dry erase pens. Hee hee! I can hardly wait!

This is a story of God's miraculous work in the hearts of three people. How else can you explain it? How can you explain the incredible bond I have with the only other woman who has held my husband's heart? Inbelievable! How else can you explain the redemption of something that was so painful for both Matt and Beverly? And we're excited to see how God uses us to make a difference in Beverly's life. We're not sure yet how that's going to look. I'm specifically asking God that I would be the bone marrow match for Bev. I love her, and I want to be the one to help her win her fight against cancer. I couldn't do anything to help my mom. I want to help Bev. I want to be a player in a victory against the disease I hate more than anything. But God knows. Maybe that's not the part He has for me to play. If someone else gets the privilege of being her donor (and someone else probably will), I'm totally okay with that. Like I said, we'll wait and see.

If you want to follow Beverly's story, you can visit her personal page at You can join carepages, and then type in the name Beverly Gibbons to access her page. She and her husband post regular updates there, especially when there's new info about her disease. And you can be praying for Beverly and her family. The current prayer requests are:
1. That a bone marrow donor would be located soon
2. That Beverly would have the strength to get through her current chemo and its side effects. She really wants to avoid the mouth sores.
3. That God would provide for their financial needs. Her husband, Joe, can only work part-time right now, and their insurance only covers 80% of their costs. They are in need of a miracle. If you would like to help, please let me know and I'll pass on info about their needs.

Well, I think this has been long enough. I hope I've helped you understand how amazed, delighted, and thankful I am that God has brought this precious relationship to pass. Goodnight, y'all!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not Your Typical Morning

All hell hath broken loose at our house.

Pepper hath refused his cereal, throwing it on the floor. Captain Crunch it was, producing large, sticky mess.

Pepper hath given Mommy not enough time to get him to the potty. Aforesaid small boy deposits poop on Mommy's foot en route to the potty.

Both children are sent upstairs for which purpose to dress for the day. Adds Mommy: "Snapper must clean up her messy room by the time Mommy finishes cleaning the kitchen and living room."

Mommy hath tackled the boogieman of dishes, and checks on the bedroom cleaning. Nothing hath been done. Mommy issues a stern warning: "Finish the room by the time I finish the living room, or you shall be punished."

Mommy hath conquered the clutter and dust bunnies that had taken up squatter's rights in aforesaid room. Huzzah for Mommy!

Mommy hath marched up the stairs in hopes of discovering toys in their places and laundry in the basket. Alas, twas a vain hope. Small girl is discovered, bedecked in princess dress, high heels, new pink birthday purse, and waving her wand at her image reflected in the mirror.

Mommy hath called the gallant Father on the cellular phone. "Oh my brave knight, what shall we do?" Gallant Father hath spoken with small girl, an event which hath caused a fallen face and misty eyes on small girl.

Go forth, fearless parents, and produce a consequence for small girl's deliberate disobedience, in hopes of moulding her into a child of honor and responsibility.

Mommy hath brought forth a box, which shall be filled by small girl with all toys off the floor. This act shall take no longer than 5 minutes, or Mommy shall become the eternal lord of all toys that remaineth on the floor. All toys in aforesaid box shall be bought back by small girl, at agreed upon price of $2.

The cell phone timer hath been set (for 5 minutes plus 1 minute of grace). Mommy proceedeth down the stairs. Small girl, upon putting pink birthday purse in the box, hath fully realized the gravity of her consequence. And the mother of all tantrums breaks forth in the bedroom at the top of the stairs.

Mommy hath settled gravely on the couch with trusty Bible in hand, trying to find the appropriate verse with which to train the small hellion, who lieth kicking and screaming on her bedroom floor.

The timer hath sounded. Silence from upstairs. Mommy hath begun the long march up the stairs. Upon entrance to the room, Mommy discovers small girl lying on the floor under the bed. Several items are in the box. But several items are still on the floor. Sadly, Mommy taketh custody of remaining toys:
Princess dress
Second princess dress
Small Cinderella doll
Plastic teacup
Small, stuffed dog
Gold rimmed sunglasses
Orange bandana doll blanket

Small girl hath realized even more fully the consqeuences of her failure to obey. Resume tantrum. Mommy hath left the room, instructing small girl to put dirty clothes in the laundry, and stay in her room until the flow of tear, screams, and snot hath dissipated.

Mommy hath closed bedroom door, and slouches down the stairs to rest her weary soul. Upon entrance into the living room, Mommy doth discover small boy standing on the ottoman, in the process of delivering a steady flow of pee to the apparently thirsty large, comfy chair.

And Mommy doth look at clean hearth in front of fireplace to discover fluffy white-and-gray cat depositing a large puddle of pee.

Peeing boy. Peeing cat. Screaming, kicking, spitting, stomping girl.

And Mommy's tears doth flow.

Small boy rushes to bawling Mommy with a priceless treasure to cheer her up: one small handful of mashed up fly and spider.

Hurry home, Gallant Father! Save the hen-pecked, wilting Mommy! And sweet Jesus, PLEASE give Mommy the endurance necessary to last until 1:00, at which time aforesaid children shall be tucked securely into their wee beds and peace shall again rule this house.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Snapshots of Our Week

The song from the Small World Disneyland ride comes to mind, but with different lyrics.

It's a world of mischief, a world of tears
It's a world of mischief, and silly cheers
So much fun to be had
Pepper's good, Pepper's bad
It is our world after all!

It is indeed a world of mischief at our house! And mischief takes its form in my 2-year-old son. A picture speaks a thousand words. So here are 4,000 words for you. In summary: Stickers. Sharpie. Ketchup.

So I spend a lot of time cleaning up after the 2-year-old tornado. I spend a lot of time holding my breath and turning my face away so as not to let him see me laughing. He's such a stinker, but so stinkin' cute! Just a few minutes ago, he took off his pants, went potty, and then fell down on his naked little booty. He came crying over into the dining room where I am currently sitting. Then he backed that bare butt up to me, bent over and said, "I fall down, Mama. Kiss my bottom!" Ha ha! I'm still chuckling over that one! Since I've shown you Pepper's naughty file from the week, I must also show the cute collection.

There! Now isn't it worth all the mess and poop and tears the he produces? Yes! It definitely is. I love this little guy like crazy.

Entirely changing the subject, today was my bimonthly cooking day. Once again my freezer is stocked with yummy dinners for my family. Life Artistry in action, Matt says! Today I'll go ahead and post the recipes from this time. You can cut and paste them directly from my page.

Tomato Basil Soup

In a large saucepan, bring to a boil 2 (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes and 28 oz. chicken broth.
Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add: 18 leaves minced, fresh basil
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Reduce heat to low.
Add: 1 cup unsweetened whipping cream (or fat free half and half)
1 stick butter
Cook until the butter is melted.
Serve with French bread and green salad.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

In a crock pot, layer the following ingredients in the order they are listed. Do not stir.

16 oz. dried split peas
2 cups diced turkey ham
1 cup chopped carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
5 cups boiling water

Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours
Stir in 1 cup milk.
Discard bay leaves before serving

Pizza Casserole

Prepare 2 cups egg noodles, according to package directions
Brown together:
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped bell pepper
Stir in:
Cooked noodles
1 cup turkey pepperoni
1 (16 oz) jar of pizza sauce
4 Tbsp. milk
Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Top with mozzarella cheese and bake 10 minutes more.

Hearty Ham Casserole

Peel, dice, and boil 4 cups potato
In a large bowl combine: 2 cups diced turkey ham
2 cans corn, drained
Cooked potatoes
Saute 2 Tbsp. chopped onion in 1/2 stick butter for 2 minutes.
Gradually stir in 1/3 cup flour
Gradually add 1 3/4 cups milk.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened (about 2 minutes)
Pour over potatoes
Spread into a 13x9 baking dish and cover with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes
Uncover, sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, and bake for 10 minutes more.

Enchilada Casserole

Grease a deep dish pie plate and set aside.
Brown together:
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 chopped onion
Drain and return to pan
Add 2 cloves minced garlic
Stir in:
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
Allow to thicken slightly.
Spoon a thin layer of sauce into pie plate.
Layer flour tortilla, sauce, and shredded cheddar cheese twice.
Final layer should be cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I'll close out this long blog with some good news. Fall has arrived in Little Rock! It is currently 68 degrees outside with blue skies and a few high clouds. There are hints of red, brown, and orange in the trees. My cinnamon candles are in full service, and I spent some of my birthday money on silk flowers to make a wreath for my front door. Hooray for Fall!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Priceless Opportunity

To All My Readers:

Matt and I recently learned that our friend Beverly Gibbons has leukemia and is in immediate need of a bone marrow transplant. Without the transplant, she will most likely not survive. As of yet, they have been unable to locate a donor match for her. Beverly is 33 and is married with two young sons.

Matt and I are getting tested to see if we are able to be donors. We are asking you if you would consider joining us and being tested as well. If you are between the ages of 18-60 and are in general good health, you can apply. The test is simple: 4 swabs of the inside of your cheek with a q-tip. The testing usually costs $52, but between now and September 22, NASCAR is sponsering a nationwide bone marrow drive and will cover the cost of testing.

By signing up, you are entered into a national bone marrow registry. Even if you are not a match for Beverly, you could be a match for another person who needs a transplant to survive. Approximately 11,000 lives are saved each year in the U.S. through this registry. Once in the registry, you are never required to donate, though if you are identified as a possible match, you have the option to donate.

If you are a match, the patient's insurance will cover the complete cost of your donation, including travel if necessary. The procedure is simple, requiring only an overnight hospital stay. If you are concerned about the pain as I was, I have been reassured that you are anesthetized for the procedure, and the pain is minimal. For more information, visit

Should you decide to register, visit In the bottom, right-hand corner of the page, follow the link for the NASCAR Foundation Drive. Registering through the NASCAR page covers all the cost for you. You will complete a few pages of questions to determine your eligibility. If you are approved, the registry will send you your test kit.

Thank you so much for being willing to consider this. Who knows...maybe you will be the one who matches Beverly! What a priceless opportunity! If you decide to get tested, please comment and let me know.

Much love,

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My New Job Title

A few days ago I got into a conversation with a saleswoman at JC Penney. She was admiring my pretty little girl. That lead into a 10-minute discussion. The question that sparked this random talk: "So what do you do?" I proceeded to tell her about homeschooling and LifeChange. But after we said our goodbyes and I made my way to the car, that question continued to run circles in my mind. For the last few days I have thought a lot about it (I've been doing a lot of deeper thinking recently).

What do I do?

I am a wife. A mother. A daughter and sister. I am a housekeeper and cook. I'm an educator. I'm a missionary...who would'a thunk! I'm a chauffeur. I'm an Awana director. I'm a friend and a babysitter. I'm a writer, a reader, a thinker, and a dreamer. I'm a photographer, a scrapbooker, a life artist.

And then it struck me--I'm a Life Artist. In the past I've loosely used that term in reference to my photos, scrapbooks, and journals. But in reality, my artistry spreads far beyond that. And this is true of any other mom!

What is art anyway? I loved the main part of the definition found on "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance."

According to this definition, art is not limited to painting, drawing, sculpting, scrapbooking, photography, or other traditional forms of art. According to this definition, Art is the production of something beautiful and extraordinary. When I apply that definition to the things I do, I really am a Life Artist. I spend almost every moment of my life working on the extraordinary. I play a dramatic role in the shaping of my husband. My words, actions, and attitudes are capable of building him into a secure, confident man. On the flipside, I am capable of beating him down, of ruining him. Don't get me wrong--Matt is a wonderful man on his own. But I have seen the way I can affect him, for good and not.

Even more than my husband, my children are my works of art. God has given me the responsibility of loving, training, teaching, and nurturing these precious little ones. The adults they will one day become are largely dependent on what I put into them. Their spiritual development will reflect how wisely or unwisely I used my time and the opportunities I had to pour truth into them and help them apply it in their lives. Their success in their future careers is primarily dependent on the depth knowledge I provide them as a home educator. Their manners, their people skills, their compassion, their generosity, and every character trait I desire for them will have to be taught by me. The end result: a human being who has all the skills necessary to succeed in life, and to be an effective witness for Jesus. If that isn't a work of Art, I don't know what is!

My home is also Art. Every day I have the privilege of creating an atmosphere of peace and beauty for myself, my family, and the others who enter my domain. Sure, cycling laundry and scrubbing toilets may not seem like Art, especially in the process! But to the wearers of the clean clothes, and those who use the bathrooms, those are beautiful.

My ministry with LifeChange is Art. Through the ways I am involved at LifeChange, I play a part in shaping godly families. Definitely Art! My friendships, too, require careful work and attention to detail--perhaps even more attention to detail than I give to my scrapbooks.

If I could go back in time a few days and relive that conversation with the lady in Penney's, my answer would be significantly different. When asked what I do, my answer would be, "I am a Life Artist. I spend my life using the opportunities God gives me to make the world a more beautiful place. This includes building up my husband, molding, shaping, and educating my children, making my home a sanctuary for my family, and looking for ways to encourage other people.

So, my fellow moms, take a fresh look at what you do. Your work, your Life Artistry, is the most significant job in the world. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it as unto the Lord. And to God be the glory for this awesome job He has given us! Rejoice today in your new title.

Totally unrelated and totally funny: Today Matt caught Pepper sticking sunflower seeds up his butt. What. The. Heck!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

6 Years Ago has been 5 days since I last blogged. Why? Because I have had a lot on my plate and a lot on my mind. I just haven't felt like writing. But something has happened that I can't allow to pass without a good blog. My Snapper has turned 6!

It seems but a breath of time since we welcomed Snapper into the world. And what a delight she has been to our family in these 6 years! She adds so much to the unit that is us. Her curiosity keeps my mind active and busy, searching for answers to the never-ending questions. She delights and entertains me with the funny things she says. She reminds me so much of myself at this age! She humbles me when she mirrors my bad attitudes and behaviors. She inspires me to grow closer to God, to trust with the faith of a child. She brings joy. What else can I say? I'm thankful for my sweet daughter.

Age 5 has been quite a year for Snapper. Here's a list of highlights from her year.

Started kindergarten at a wonderful Christian school
Learned how to cheer at cheerleading camp and then cheered at one of her school's varsity football games!
Sang a solo in her school Christmas program
Welcomed several friends and family who visited us
Lost her first tooth
Took trips to Spokane, Portland, and Tennessee
Experienced snow in Little Rock
Got a new kitty
Donated her hair to Locks of Love in memory of her Grammy
Won Clubber of the Year in Awana
Got baptized
Learned to swim well enough to jump off the diving board alone!
Auntie Debbie moved in with us
Started 1st grade in our homeschool
Started in Children's Theater at church
Gained 3 pounds and grew 3 inches!

I invite you to take a look back at Snapper's year. I have prepared a slideshow for you at You'll have to create an account if you don't have one. But it's free and only takes a minute. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Another Step

Each year that passes pushes Snapper to take bigger steps into the world of big kids. Tonight she took yet another step...this time onto the stage. She has begun Children's Theater at church! She came bouncing home with a cd of the music she'll be learning for the Christmas musical the kids will be doing. She's super excited, and hoping to land a speaking part. I have warned her not to get her hopes up, since this is her first musical. I do know that when the time comes, my little diva will light up the stage. After all, she has been performing since the moment she made her appearance into the world almost 6 years ago! Watch out Hollywood! Here comes Snapper!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Bit of Silliness

I love my kids. They bring so much joy into my life. They say funny things every day, and I have to write them down. So here are the funnies for this week.

Pepper: Climbs up on the couch next to Daddy and says, "Hey there Weirdo!"

Snapper: At bedtime one night, Matt said he was her best daddy. Her reply: "No, God is my best daddy. He's my father in Heaven. You're just my best daddy on earth. If you die, I'll have two heavenly fathers, and then I'll get a step-dad."

Pepper: Praying at dinner last night..."Dear Jesus, uhduh uhduh uhduh, thank you food, uhduh uhduh uhduh, thanks Jesus, uhduh uhduh, and Mama, uhduh uhduh uhduh, and thanks Daddy, uhduh uhduh uhduh, 'Snapper' too! uhduh uhduh (squints his eyes open and looks around) uhduh, and thanks Jesus for spoons, uhduh uhduh, and thanks Jesus for tables, uhduh uhduh uhduh, and Mama and Zoe, uhduh uhduh, and Alara (Deb-Deb's cat), uhduh and yummy food! Thanks Jesus, Amen!"

Snapper: On my birthday, she wrapped one of her dolls in a bandana, tied it with string, and gave it to me as a present. Then she said, "Well Mom, it's actually not a real present. It is a real present, but actually it's not real because it's so special to me and you can't keep it. You can look at it for a minute but then you have to give it back. I know Mommy! You can give it back now! That's sharing, and you need to practice sharing with me."

Pepper: He walked in on me when I was in the tub (oops!). He looked at me and asked, "Mama, where your penis go?" Can anyone tell we're potty training? Oh the joy of having a little boy!

Pepper: He spends much of every day trying to catch every fly that lands on our dining room windowsill. When he does catch one, he smashes it and flushes it down the toilet. The other night he came to Matt and said, "Look Daddy! I got a bug!" There was a smashed bug on his finger. Matt removed the bug with his bare hand, only to realize it wasn't a bug....Can anyone tell we're potty training?

Snapper: Today she saw a little girl at the store who had big, frizzy, brown hair and glasses. She went over to the girl before I could stop her and said, "You look just like Princess Mia from The Princess Diaries. Only you need a makeover just like she did. Then you'll be a princess, too!"

Pepper: We are still taking care of our friend's goats while she is out of town. Yesterday I took Jackson with me. He watched in fascination as I milked the goat. I took him in my lap and let him try milking. I guided his hand down to the udder and helped him squeeze some milk out. A little milk got on his hand. He started to cry and said, "Oh no Mama, that goat go pee on me!"

I'm treasuring these times, because I know how fast it will be gone. Do teenagers say funny things too?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I woke up grumpy this morning. Maybe it was from lack of sleep. Pepper interrupted my beauty rest twice last night with croup attacks. Poor little man! Maybe my grumps are from 5 days without seeing the sun. I do have Seasonal Affective Disorder, after all. Maybe I'm out of sorts because my house looks like a tornado blew through. Actually, it looks like 2 tornadoes blew through. Or maybe it's PBS (Post-Birthday Syndrome). Hmm...

Whatever the case, life is looking up now. The two tornadoes that destroyed my downstairs are sound asleep in their bunkbed. Disaster relief (me with a trash bag and a vacuum cleaner) has been through the aforesaid downstairs. Now I'm all comfy on the couch. I have my favorite mix of songs playing on my iPod, and my new cinnamon spice candles are burning on the mantle (hurry up, Fall!). And I have time to process the emotions of today. I think I have put my finger on it, so bear with me while I spill. Actually, if you don't like sob stories, stop reading right now.

Let me preface this entry with a disclaimer: I'm not whining or complaining. I'm just trying to figure out why my soul is so sore today. Emotions of Emily 101.

My Auntie Maggie called me today and asked me how I am. She called me Sweetie-Honey, just like she has my whole life. And what did Sweetie-Honey do? Dissolved. Puddle. On the floor. Melted. Turned into a bawling bowl of mush. Now I was driving, so I managed to hold it together on the outside. After all, it's dangerous to drive while crying. So the tears stayed mostly in my eyes, and my voice stayed mostly intact. But in that brief moment of hearing my beloved Auntie's voice, so much like my mom's voice, I identified the source of my angst. I'm homesick and I miss my mom.

When God called us here to LifeChange, I knew there would be sacrifice. I knew I would miss my family. And God has blessed us in our sacrifice. Most of the time I'm okay. Actually, most of the time I'm great! But there are days--usually birthdays and holidays, sometimes other days--when I feel that sacrifice more than usual, and it comes in the form of pain and extreme crankiness. Auntie Maggie's voice swirled me back to California, and to the way our family has always celebrated birthdays. I can remember every birthday, all the way back to my 2nd. Yes, I really do remember my 2nd birthday. It's snapshot memories mostly, but memories nonetheless.

Birthdays were always grand affairs. I woke up each year to find all my stuffed animals and dolls arranged around my bed, holding ballons and presents. Birthday signs were always hung over my bed, each declaring my parents' words of love and affirmation. "We Love You, Emmy Doodle-Poodle-Snoodle!" "You are a precious gift from the Lord." "You are growing up so fast!" "We treasure sweet you." Breakfast was always my choice (usually doughnuts and sausage...). I never had to do chores on my birthday. On my birthday night Mom got me all dressed up, and Daddy took me out to dinner. And then there was the family birthday party with all my grandparents and cousins. And then there was the birthday party with all my friends. My mom, being the amazingly creative and hospitable person that she was, threw elaborate parties that I helped her plan and execute. The most memorable were my 8th birthday, a campout sleepover complete with campfire and hayride, and my 10th birthday, a Victorian tea for my friends and their dolls. Birthdays were just one more opportunity my parents took to show me how much they loved and valued me.

Once I hit 14, the theme party days were over, exchanged for swim parties at our house. They were much simpler, but my dad always took the time to cook a gourmet meal for my friends. On my 17th birthday, he made three different pasta dishes, all his own amazing inventions. The birthday spoiling continued until I got married. And the family parties would still be happening for me if I lived in California. Maybe that's why I'm so sore! All the family parties for my extended family members continue to happen without me. For example, my little cousin Claire is turning 5 on Saturday. All my family will gather to celebrate her day. I will be the only absent family member. *Sigh* That's part of living away, I guess.

I think that pretty much explains it. I just miss my family and the traditions that helped anchor me as a child. I miss the outpouring of love from my mom, my dad, and the rest of the family. I miss being a present part of my family's story. I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow. A good night's sleep will help. Writing down all these memories and identifying the source of my grief has helped. And when I look at the big picture, I know that I wouldn't go back, even if I could. God has us here for a reason, and I'm thankful days like this are few and far between. I love the life He has given us here in Arkansas. I think I'll spend some time this afternoon looking through scrapbooks. That will make me smile.

Hey Family in California, Washington, and Oregon! Come visit me! I'm homesick and I miss you!
Hey Friends! I miss you, too! You can also come visit me! I would love that.

The Last Birthday

It's official. My birthday is over and I am now 29 years old. This is the last birthday. From here on out we celebrate anniversaries of my 29th birthday. The main purpose of this is to cut down on the fire hazard imposed by a cake with so many candles! In reality, I could care less about my actual age. It's just a number, doesn't bother me or make me feel old at all. What makes me feel old is seeing kids going away to college whom I babysat when they were newborns. Wow.

So yes, today was my much anticipated birthday. It started off last night at bedtime with Matt giving me a card. He is notorious for giving me gifts early, or not being able to keep a secret. I was reluctant to take the card, but he insisted it was a "Birthday Eve" card. It was a funny card, totally random and actually kind of gross. But I got a good laugh out of it. I won't offend your sense of humor by describing it to you.

I woke up this morning to the smell of blueberry muffins, which Matt brought on a tray to our room and served to me in bed. I can't tell you the last time I had breakfast in bed! It was so nice to cuddle with my honey and munch on fresh-baked muffins! He left for work and took care of the goats we're "goat sitting" so I wouldn't have to go out in the storm. Just a side note--we got 6 inches of rain today. 6 inches! Needless to say, there was flooding all over town, and driving was a rather scary adventure. After Matt left for work, I took Deb-Deb to work and went to spend my birthday money at Hobby Lobby. For those out west, Hobby Lobby is the world's most amazing craft and hobby store. It puts Michael's to shame! I have been crocheting for several years, and I'm ready for a change. So I bought a book on how to knit, a pair of knitting needles, and some pretty, blue yarn. It was so much fun spending money on myself for something that is a want, not a need! I don't get to do that very often.

Matt met the kiddos and me for lunch at a wonderful, cafeteria-style restaurant near our house. Our friends Brian and Carol and their 3 little girls joined us, too. I stuffed myself with roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Yummy! Then Carol, the kids, and I went back home. I spent the afternoon working on knitting a scarf for myself and visiting with Carol.

Dinner was at church tonight. Fried chicken. Again, Yummy! Then was the kick-off of Awana. I have a great group of 3rd-6th graders. I'm looking forward to helping them accomplish their goals and learn more about God this year. It was a fun evening. Now I'm home. I spent a couple hours stamping cards for friends. Now I'm really tired and heading off to bed. The partying is not over. I'm looking forward to sleeping over at Carol's house after Bunco on Friday, watching the NASCAR race and having birthday cake with friends on Saturday, going out to dinner with Matt next week, and going to dinner with my friends Krista and Sonja next Friday.

Yes, today lived up to my hopes. Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Whew! Now that Gustav has moved out of New Orleans leaving behind minimal damage, I am free to enjoy the wild weather here in Arkansas. Ah yes, the remains of Gustav are right on top of us now.

One of my favorite parts of living in Little Rock is the variety in the weather. In California, we had mild winters with periods of cold rain, gentle springs with some rain and lots of balmy days, warm summers with cool, foggy nights, and clear, cool fall days. We almost never had exciting weather, with the exception of the occassional heavy, winter rain. People pay outrageous sums of money to live in coastal California's "perfect" weather. Guess what? I say it's not worth it. That calm, mild weather is B-O-R-I-N-G! I love the unpredictability of weather in the South!

There are few things more spectacular than a severe thunderstorm in which lightning flashes every 2-3 seconds for several hours! Matt and I love to sit outside in the middle of the night during a summer downpour, when rain is falling at a rate of 3 inches per hour, and the 2 a.m. temperature is 80 degrees! This year we had 6 inches of snow in March, and 80 degree weather with tornadoes a week later. Granted, the tornadoes are scary, but there's something awe-inspiring about witnessing the power of God in the midst of those terrifying storms. We have plenty of perfect days here too, especially in October and May. Fall here is spectacular! But right now I'm looking out the window, watching the remains of a hurricane blowing through.

It has been raining non-stop since 2 o'clock this morning. And it is beautiful! The clouds are moving in an arc, from southeast toward the north, and around to the southwest. The rain falls steadily, blowing from all directions. The clouds are moving one way, but you can't tell from which direction the wind is blowing. And sometimes you see mini twister patterns in the rain. This is called hurricane effect rain. I've never seen anything like it.

The forecast for our town is 10 inches of rain by Thursday morning, with the possibility of thunderstorms and tornadoes. There's a flash flood watch in effect, too. Needless to say, we are sticking close to home. The drivers here are nuts in good weather. In heavy rain, I hate to venture out on the roads. So we're bunkering down tonight for Chicken Supreme (made on my cooking day), and a quiet evening of cinnamon scented candles, popcorn, and family board games. To sum it all up, I love living here! I LOVE this weather!

P.S. Tomorrow is my birthday! I'm so excited.....