Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Blog Recap

Fun one, Jo-Lynne! I didn't really want to do a boring review of my year, but I did feel the need to say goodbye to 2009. I loved the idea of going back and listing the first line of the first post of each month. Definitely fun to read back through and remember my year. So here is my link to the 2009 Blog Recap carnival at Musings of A Housewife, which is one of my favorite blogs, by the way.

JANUARY

Happy 2009, my friends!


This was such a fun post! I shared my Top 12 photos from 2008, and why they were my favorites. It is amazing to look back on them today and see how much my kids have grown and changed! Yup, this one is a definite repeater! Tomorrow!

FEBRUARY

Is there anything more welcome than the sight of your own home after a long trip?


This was posted the day after we returned home from a 5-week support-raising trip to California and Nevada. It was the first of several trips this year, most of which were for business purposes. I still agree--east or west, home is best!

MARCH

Well, it's actually not that extreme, but it sure feels extreme to me!


In 2009 we took our tax return money and put it into home improvements. The biggest job for me was refinishing our kitchen cabinets. Yes, it did end up being extreme! Took me 2 months, start to finish! Worth the effort? Most definitely!

APRIL

It's another fabulous edition of Works for Me Wednesday.



I participated in several Works for Me Wednesdays at We Are THAT Family. It is such fun to hear ideas from other people, and to try them out in your own home! This blog carnival increased my blog traffic, and brought me some sweet new friends as well! This particular week was the reverse edition, where I asked a question and others volunteered their answers. Cool beans!
 
MAY
 
After a very frustrating Thursday night (United gave them bogus hotel vouchers, and after finally admitting the error, put them up in a hotel 20 miles away from the airport), Frank and Tammy finally arrived on Friday afternoon.


My highschool friends Frank and Tammy are going into full-time ministry. It's a dance ministry called Turning Point, and Tammy has made a big impact on a lot of people through this ministry. They came from California for a few days of support-raising training. However, the travel woes were many and horrible. But as the title of this post states, it all came together. Check out Tammy's blog to see an amazing outreach in California! You rock, Frank and Tammy and Sam! I love you!
 
JUNE
 
Have you ever heard of Arnica Gel?
 
This What I've Learned post, part of the Musings of A Housewife blog carnival, is of the few educational type posts I've done. This one talks about a great, natural, muscle pain reliever, and how to create a truetype font out of your own handwriting! Awesome!
 
JULY
 
On June 30, 2001, I married the man of my dreams.


Awww! An anniversary post with a few of our wedding pictures. How sweet!
 
AUGUST
 
Well hello there, strangers!


Another homecoming post. This one recaps our road trip that landed us in 9 states. Lots of scenery pictures! Lots of food pictures! This one is a post for my memory book for sure! Kinda long for others to read, but fun for me.
 
SEPTEMBER
 
My children are not perfect, little angels.
 
Ha ha! Nope, they're not! But this post was not about their crimes. It was about celebrating character growth in your children. It is definitely one you should check out if you're looking for a fun family activity, or if you are in a phase of life where it's hard to find ways to praise your kids. We all go through those phases.
 
OCTOBER
 
So as I look back through the 270 posts over the last 18 months, I realize that very few are about my hubby, and even fewer are about us as a couple.


My friend Stefanie tagged me in this fun post about Matt and me as a couple. This is another one I need to do at least once a year! Wanna know more about us? Read up!
 
NOVEMBER
 
One of my favorite things about fall is cooking fall recipes.


Ooooh! This is one mouth-watering post! Need some wonderful fall recipes? Actually they're recipes for any time. Come and get them!
 
DECEMBER
 
After a hiatus of nearly a month, Emily returns to the blog world!


Yup! I'm back, and I look forward to kicking off a new year of blogging. I am two posts away from 300! I think I'll do a giveaway! So stay tuned! Happy New Year, friends!

Feel the Burn!

This morning after watching my daughter take on 40 minutes of freestyle stroke training at swim team practice, Matt and I took the YMCA pool by storm. I swam while he watched the kids in the water, then he swam while I watched the kids. Then we switched again, because 400 yards wasn't enough for me. During my San Jose State swimming days, I could knock out 2000 yards (80 laps) without even getting winded. There was no way I was going to get kicked by a measly 16 laps! So I swam another 600 yards. No kicking. My foot was really hurting, so I decided to just pull with my arms. For 24 more stinkin' laps. It wasn't really that hard. I love swimming because I don't have any joint pain like I do when I run. I love swimming because it is a great, total-body workout that I can handle. I love swimming because the warm, humid air of the indoor pool does not cause my asthma to flare up. I love swimming because it has been part of my life ever since I can remember. I got out of the pool feeling tired and awesome, and ready for another workout tomorrow.

Now it is 11:30 at night and I can't sleep. Wanna know why?

BECAUSE MY ARMS ARE ON FIRE!
Oh, the pain of forgotten muscles. Oh, the triceps! Oh, the forearms! Oh, the pecs!
And I am out of ibuprofen!
Hmm....maybe some Tylenol P.M.

Oh, by the way, I went to my doctor to get a second opinion on my foot, which is still bruised and painful. It still isn't broken, which is good news! I do, however, have a large hematoma on the tendon that runs up from my second toe through the ankle. So now I get to put heat packs on it, rub aspercream into it, take a prescription-stength anti-inflammatory, keep wearing the shoe cast, and hope the hematoma goes away. It needs to go away soon, because it is interfering with my life! Ah yes, and at my mother-in-law's suggestion, I'm going to try putting onion slices on it at night while I'm asleep because onion is supposed to break up hematomas and make bruising go away. I hope it works, because it sure sounds smelly, and a bit odd.

Anyhoo, I'm not complaining. I'm thankful my foot isn't broken! And I am glad for this horrid arm pain, because it is a sign that I'm up off the couch and doing something good for my body. I'll just be glad when I build up a bit more strength and endurance so a workout doesn't keep me awake!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Urge to Purge

Christmas was wonderful! I enjoyed the anticipation, the preparations, the traditions, and the day itself. But now that it is over, it is time to move on. I don't think I have ever been more ready for a new year! I think it must be because of impending change. In only 5 weeks we will be putting our house on the market, and I am filled with a sense of urgency...time to start getting the house ready. I have never in my life taken the tree down before January 1st, until this year. Today is December 29th, and the tree is down, the house is clean, and the purging, packing, and cleaning has begun. We invested in a bunch of large, Rubbermaid totes, and have already packed away the things we don't use regularly (linens, candles, most of the mugs, silver, etc.) Because I don't want to move a bunch of stuff we never use to Orlando with us, we have a corner of the garage designated the Garage Sale Corner. After just one room, that corner already has a bunch of stuff in it. Isn't it amazing how easy it is to accumulate stuff? It's just another reminder to me of how materialistic our culture is, and how I fall right into it. Ugh... I can't wait to get through with the whole house and have that garage sale! Whatever money we make at the sale will go toward paying off debt. We're less than a year from being debt-free, and I am SO glad!
 
I stepped on the scale this morning and discovered that my lack of self-control in the cookie eating department has caught up with me. All those cookies added an unfortunate 7 pounds to my waistline. I think the 7 pounds converts to 3 inches, because my pants have gotten very tight. I had originally planned on (starting in January) training for a half marathon. But due to my broken foot, that is not an option. In fact, most forms of exercise are out for me right now, considering that weight-bearing exercises are very painful. So Matt and I have decided to take drastic measures to change our lifestyle. His cholesterol is higher than it should be. I am plain ol' flabby. It is not uncommon for us to eat out twice each week--once on Wednesday night, and usually another time during the weekend. Wednesday night will still be an eat-out night, but we have committed to taking that other meal out of our budget, and reallocating the funds to a gym membership. Today we did some searching around, and found that the local YMCA fits nicely into the budget! So we bit the bullet and purchased a membership! Starting tomorrow, I'll be hitting the pool a minimum of 3 times per wekk. There is free childcare 3 mornings a week! Hooray for that! Once my foot heals, I'll be able to take advantage of the other fitness classes that are included in our membership. I am so excited, and so ready to shed the excess weight that has been plaguing me ever since my mom died. I've already come a long way, but I still have a ways to go.
 
So I guess you could call these New Year's resolutions, but I wouldn't really say that. It's more like enough is enough. Out with the clutter! Off with the flab! And here's a toast to simplicity and good health. I think I like the week after Christmas almost as much as Christmas! How about you?

Sweet Christmas

Merry Christmas! What a sweet day it was! To my surprise, I did not pine away for my family this year. I think having just spent Thanksgiving with them helped. I also think I've gotten used to being away from them, and the traditions we've established here have stuck. No longer am I focused on missing the California traditions! Instead, I've come to love and anticipate the traditions we have here. I think listing the traditions we've established (along with a few photos) is a good way to recap our Christmas this year!

Getting our tree together




Going to Purple Cow for burgers and shakes on Christmas Tree day




Decorating the tree together while watching White Christmas (carryover from my childhood)




Eating Hashbrown Casserole after the tree is decorated




Going all out on decorating the outside of our home




Taking each child shopping individually, and enjoying a stop for hot cocoa on the journey

Searching the ads, watching the sales, and getting as many great gifts as possible for the least amount of money possible (this was a record-setting year!)


Driving all over town to look at Christmas lights

Cuddling on the couch and watching as many Christmas movies as our dvr will hold




Caroling with our Awana friends

Baking dozens (44 dozen this year!) of cookies to give to neighbors






Sending love boxes of gifts to our family

Creating our own Christmas card using Snapper's artwork

Sending cards and photos to our friends




Matt participating in the Christmas musical at church

Getting the kids dressed in special clothes and going to the Christmas Eve service at our church




Coming home for Christmas Eve soup

Letting the kids interact with Bradley, Matt's bear puppet, discussing the true meaning of Christmas

Opening Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve

Having a Baby Jesus hunt first thing Christmas morning




Birthday breakfast for Jesus




Spending the rest of the day enjoying our gifts, calling our family, and just being together


This year we added playing board games to our Christmas Day agenda, and it was wonderful!


The kids loved their gifts! Santa brought a telescope ($15 on clearance) for Snapper, and a bucket of Army men ($7 on sale) for Pepper.
Mommy and Daddy got a bowling set ($10 on sale) and some other small toys for Pepper, and an iPod Shuffle ($55 purchased with a giftcard I received as a photography session thank-you) for Snapper.
The kids chose special gifts for each other. Snapper picked out the Kung Fu Panda dvd for Pepper. Pepper got a new swim cap for Snapper. Then when Pepper and I were grocery shopping, he saw a Tinkerbell doll, and was firmly insistent on buying it for Snapper. Hey, he was so excited to pick out a gift for his sister, how could I say no?
This year Snapper really wanted to find the perfect gift for her Daddy. She offered to do a bunch of extra housework to earn the gift, so of course I said yes! She found a fantastic book--Tickle Monster--and purchased it for Matt. She wrote the sweetest letter about how she loves it when Daddy tickles her, and we glued it to the inside cover of the book.
My gifts to Matt were practical and very needed: lots of new clothes (all 70% or more off of regular price!), and maps of Florida and Orlando. For me, it really is all about giving. I love to give gifts to the people I love! I received nice things, too! Matt gave me Christmas dishes! They're from Walmart, but they do a great imitation of a Lenox pattern that I have loved for years! He also gave me the ox and goat to add to my Willow Tree Nativity. The rest of the nativity was the gift from all my extended family! Perfect! I also was able to combine cash gifts from Matt's family to buy the Vera Wang purse I've been eyeing for 3 years, but couldn't bring myself to buy because of the cost. But the day after Christmas it was 40% off, and I had enough to splurge! The gifts I received this year were all so thoughtful, and exactly what I wanted! Thanks, dear ones! I am spoiled!
That pretty much sums it up! If you've stuck with reading this and reached the end, I'm impressed! Merry Christmas to you!

All photos are the property of Life Art by Emily

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! We had so much fun celebrating you today! You are the best gift ever!


And I had to share this photo of a cardinal in my back yard. It was too pretty not to share!


Photos are the property of Life Art by Emily.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Post for Me

Disclaimer: I write this post for myself. Feel free to read it, but know that it is meant to be a brief emotional release for me, and is not written with the goal of being uplifting or inspiring or funny. If I get around to blogging tomorrow, I promise it will be much happier.

This time of the year is such an emotional time for me. I've got the wonderful high that comes from preparing for my favorite holiday. For someone who speaks love by giving gifts, this is euphoria! I love shopping for special things for the people I love, and I anticipate giving the gifts far more than I get excited about receiving. Happy, happy time of year. Then there's the low that comes from missing my mom. It is the strangest mix of feelings. I can go from total excitement to complete sadness in just a few seconds. Obviously anyone who has lost a loved one misses them more around the holidays. For me that is compounded by the fact that my mom's birthday is December 23rd. If you are new to my blog and don't already know, I lost my mom to ovarian cancer 6 1/2 years ago. If my mom were still alive, today would have been her 60th birthday. In the past we have celebrated my mom's birthday by making a cake and having a memory party, looking at scrapbooks and watching videos of her. This year I decided to skip it. I think our upcoming move to Florida has my emotions a bit out of balance, and I just feel too fragile to pull up the memories. Tonight we celebrated Christmas with out friends Jim and Karon, and their 3 kids. It was nice to enjoy good food and lots of laughter on a night that was potentially painful. Now I'm headed off to bed. I'll close out this post with this: Happy Birthday, Mommy. I look forward to spending eternity with you. I love you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Which My Daughter Steals the Show

On Saturday and Sunday, Matt and Snapper were in our church's Christmas musical. Snapper was in the children's choir, which sang the first verse of one of the songs. On Sunday, Snapper was tired. After the kids' part in the song was done, they sat down on the stage. At that point Snapper checked out. I think that the lights were so bright that Snapper forgot there was a church full of people watching her. Clueless! In her sweet oblivion, she unintentionally stole the show. Here's a 1-minute video for you. Enjoy a laugh!

Snapper's Shining Moment

Happy Day for Snapper!

Last week in the middle of a restless night, I came up with the brilliant idea to host a party for all the girls in Snapper's class. With great excitement, Snapper and I made out plans. We would decorate cookies, drink hot cocoa, and watch "Polar Express." We prepared the invitations together and handed them ut at school.

As of 9:00 this morning--party day--I had only one RSVP out of 10. I didn't say anything to Snapper, and continued to prepare as though all the girls were coming. I made 4 dozen sugar cookies, cleaned the house, and made sure we had plenty of cocoa and clean mugs. 1:00 was the scheduled start time for the party. When 1:00 came and went, then 1:15, then 1:30, Snapper and I realized that no one was coming to our party. Snapper put her head down on the couch and quietly sobbed, feeling so hurt and disappointed. I tried to cheer her up with the promise of decorating the cookies ourselves, and carrying out all the other party plans. We were just getting up to go make some cocoa and my phone rang. It was Morgan's mom. She had forgotten her purse and had to return home to get the purse before dropping Morgan off at out party. THey were on their way!
Snapper danced and laughed and got Pepper all caught up in the excitement. Morgan arrived 10 minutes later, and the girls headed up to Snapper's room to play. 5 minutes after that, the doorbell rang again! It was Mayar, complete with a dozen roses in her arms. Mayar's mom does not speak English, and does not drive. Mayar's dad got off work as soon as he could so he could bring Mayar to the party. A few minutes after that, Cecilia arrived! For the next 2 hours, the 4 girls decorated cookies, drank cocoa, played outside, played inside, and produced more giggles than I have heard in a very long time. I supervised from the chair in the living room, but mainly just enjoyed the sweet laughter of those sweet, little girls. Every girl in Snapper's class is precious. They all get along with each other, and treat each other kindly. Snapper's teacher says this class is the most caring, loving class she has ever had.

Here are few pictures of our special afternoon.





Monday, December 21, 2009

I Don't Get It!!!

I made 6 dozen sugar cookies today. I have always loved the tradition of decorating cookies. I don't think I have ever missed a year in my entire life, except when I was a baby, of course. I've long looked forward to sharing this tradition with my kids. Last year we decorated cookies. Snapper did great with the cookies! Pepper did even better at decorating his mouth...

This year we sat down to decorate, and Pepper freaked out. Totally freaked out! He couldn't get the frosting off the spoon. He didn't want to drip on the table, even though it was covered with waxed paper. He didn't want the frosting touching his skin. He couldn't get the frosting right on his cookies. After frosting only 3 cookies, he had screamed at least 10 times, and was on the edge of a meltdown. At that point I fed him a cookie, which quieted him down, and set him up with a Christmas movie. I think this may be a sneak peak into his personality. Pepper is going to be a detail-oriented person. A neat freak. A perfectionist, perhaps. So opposite of Snapper! And I'm totally okay with that!

But here's the question: How can any child not like decorating cookies? I don't get it! I just don't get it!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

That's Amazing, Grace!

9 years ago when Matt decided he wanted to marry me, I warned him, but he didn't listen! I told him--and my mother did, too--that he was willfully choosing to marry one of the clumsiest, most accident-prone women in the United States of America. He said it didn't matter to him. In sickness and in health, you know that whole bit...

Today he came right out and admitted that I am the most accident person he knows. Why?

Last Sunday, I went into the closet under our stairs to get some wrapping paper. When I came out, I discovered that Pepper had put his basket of toys in my path. I carefully stepped over the basket with my right foot. Then I stepped my left foot not quite over the basket. Unfortunately for me, that foot got caught in the basket handle, and down I went. I hit the ground so hard that Matt says the house shook. No one saw me fall, but I turned beet red anyway. I am quite certain that an hippo attempting ballet would be more graceful! I don't know what part of me hit the ground first...I think all of me hit the ground at the same time, right down to my face, which went mashing across the carpet. My right arm caught the edge of my lovely, iron/stone coffee table. I thought I had broken my wrist, but thankfully I didn't. THe next day my whole body was sore, and I had delightful bruises popping up all over. How did I manage to bruise my inner thight? I have not a clue, but I did!Dumb. That's all I have to say about that...D-U-M-B!

This morning I woke up finally feeling better. I wasn't hurting, and most of the bruises had faded away. I was all set up for a wonderful day of baking cookies. Every year I make a cookie sampler plate for each of my neighbors, all 20 houses on the cul-de-sac. I was so excited to get started that I didn't linger in bed, even though it is Saturday. I got the crust for my lemon bars in the oven. While it was baking, I began the dough for the Eggnog Thumbprints. While the butter and sugar were getting fluffy in the mixer, I answered the call of our crying kitty, who was locked out of the laundry room, and therefore was lacking access to her potty box.

Matt was very sweetly cleaning the kitchen floors for me. He pulled all the chairs out from the table, and got to work letting our iRobot sweep up. Matt had stacked our kitchen chairs in order to open up more space in the kitchen. As I walked past the chairs to open the laundry room door for Pixie, the chairs decided they no longer wished to remain stacked. I never realized until today that the top of our kitchen chairs come to a slight point. I realized it with complete clarity the second that one of the chairs speared the top of my bare foot.

By the time I managed to hobble across the kitchen and sit down at the dining room table, my foot had turned purple and my toes had gone numb. Matt removed the crust from the oven and put the mixer bowl in the fridge, and we headed for the ER. 3 hours later, I returned home, Motrin prescription in hand. Official diagnosis: Foot Contusion.

I don't think so. My foot is WHOA ugly tonight, and I can't feel my toes at all. And the pain? Let's just say if it's this bad with drugs in me, how much worse would it be without the meds! I think I'll be getting a second opinion on Monday. I think it's broke!

My friend Karon texted me tonight and said, "I'm going to have to start calling you Grace." I agree, because I am truly amazing...at getting hurt in the dumbest ways! And Matt? I told you so!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm BAAAAACK!

After a hiatus of nearly a month, Emily returns to the blog world! And oh, am I happy to be back! What a crazy, action-packed period this has been!

Between 14 photo shoots, 2 weeks in California, and trying to get Christmas gifts ready to ship to our out-of-state family, I have had no time to blog. Oh, and did I mention that my computer bit the dust again, and if I want to get online, I have to wait until Matt brings his laptop home form work? Ugh...All I want for Christmas is a Mac. I am SO over my PC.

So I could go back and give you a play-by-play of the last month, but I don't think you would like that very much, and it would be the blog that never ends. Instead, I think I'll make now the time I reveal the big news for our family...

May I have a drumroll please...

I'm not pregnant...

Nope, we are moving! To Florida! This summer, Lord-willing.
We have been offered a job with a different ministry and have accepted. The new ministry still falls under the umbrella of our parent organization, so none of our support needs/info changes. The change for us will be the location, and the focus of our daily work. We'll be working on a project that is relatively new, and teaches children the attributes of God, and helps them put down deep roots to their faith at an early age. One of the things we have seen over and over in the last 4 years is that many adults who were raised in Christian homes turned away from their faith in their teen years, or when hard times came into their lives. It saddens us that these people did not have the depth in their faith necessary to trust God through the hard times. We want to help the kids of today to really know God so that when they encounter difficult times, they will be able to cling to Him instead of walking away and floundering on their own. Has our heart for marriage and family changed? Absolutely not! We believe that our new job will prepare a new generation of adults to experience healthy marriages, and raise children who love and know God. Our new job complements what we have been doing for the last 4 years, and we are SO EXCITED!

I am not excited about moving away from Arkansas and the precious friends I have here. I cry if I think very much about leaving. But God has called us, and who am I to refuse to obey? No way, Jose! If there is one thing I know with certainty, it is that God's way is ALWAYS the best way, even if I don't fully understand it. I know that He will provide a great place for us to live, a wonderful new church, and new friends.

There is so much more I could say, but my husband is patiently waiting for me to sign off so he can take his computer and go to work. So I must go. I hope you have a wonderful day today!

It is good to be back.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Mysterious Disappearance...

Yes, y'all, I know I have been absent from blog world. But my reason is good. My photography "business" has taken off and is flying away! 14 photo shoots in 3 weeks...need I say more? I'm loving my Photoshop, and am so thankful for my wonderful camera and trusty lenses. Once I get through the edits of the session I'm working on right now, I'll post some of them for you.

I'm going to be taking somewhat of a break from the blog these next few weeks, due to all the photo edits I have to complete, and our trip to California. So until I return, Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for you!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fall Feasting

One of my favorite things about fall is cooking fall recipes. And what better way to enjoy fall recipes than to cook with pumpkin! Not canned pumpkin, though! This year I tried my hand at cooking with the pie pumpkins we got at the pumpkin patch, and I will never go back to canned pumpkin! Never cooked pumpkin before? Good news...it's easy, healthy, and so delicious! I recommend using pie pumpkins instead of the big pumpkins you carve into jack-o-lanterns.

1. Cut the top out of your pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half, and remove the seeds and stringy pulp.
2. Cut the pumpkin into large pieces, about the size of your hand.
3. Lay the pumpkin pieces flesh down in a roasting pan and add 1 inch of water.
4. Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. When the pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork, it is done.
5. After the pumpkin has cooled, peel away the skin.
6. Puree the pumpkin until smooth.

A 5-pound pumpkin will yield 2-3 cups of pumpkin puree. Refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Here are some favorite pumpkin recipes that we have already enjoyed together this fall.

Pumpkin Surprise

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9x13 baking dish.

2. Combine in a bowl:
       2 cups pumpkin puree (or one 15-ounce can of pumpkin)
       A 12-can unsweetened, evaporated milk
       3. eggs
       1 cup sugar
       4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

3. Mix well and pour into the pan

4. Sprinkle one package dry spice cake mix over the pumpkin

5. Drizzle the top with 3/4cup melted butter

6. (optional) Top with chopped walnuts or pecans

7. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until a knife inserted into the center of the dessert comes out clean.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1. In a bowl, mix together:
       1 1/2 cups milk
       1 cup pumpkin puree
       1 egg
       2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
       2 Tbsp. white vinegar

2. In another bowl, combine and mix well:
       2 cups flour
       1/4 cup brown sugar
       2 tsp. baking powder
       1 tsp. baking soda
       1 tsp. ground allspice
       2 tsp. cinnamon
       1/2 tsp. ground ginger
       1/2 tsp. salt

3. Add flour mixture to pumkin mixture, and stir just enough to combine

4. Cook on a lightly oiled, hot griddle, just as you would cook regular pancakes

5. Serve with real maple syrup and whipped cream

Pumpkin Bread

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9x5 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together:
       3 cups canned pumpkin puree

       1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
       4 cups white sugar
       6 eggs

3. In a separate bowl, combine:
       4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

       1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
       1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
       1 1/2 teaspoons salt
       1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
       1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
       1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

4. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.


5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.

And here's another fall favorite recipe that I must share, even though it does not contain pumpkin. Taya, this one's for you!

Old Fashioned Crock Pot Beef Stew

1. Place 1/4 cup flour in a ziploc bag.

2. Add 1 1/2 pound cubed stew meat, and shake to coat

3. In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Add flour-coated meat, and lightly brown. Place meat in the bottom of a crock pot

4. On top of meat, layer:
       2 1/2 cups cubed potatoes, not peeled
       1 cup frozen, whole kernel corn
       1 cup sliced carrots
       1 cup chopped celery

5. In a bowl, combine:
       6 ounces tomato sauce
       12 ounces water
       12 ounces beef broth
       1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
       1 tsp. instant beef bouillon granules
       1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
       1 tsp. dried marjoram
       2 tsp. dried oregano
       2 bay leaves
       1 tsp. salt

6. Pour over meat and vegetables

7. Cook on low for 10 hours, or on high for 5 hours, until meat and vegetables are tender

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Princess and The Lion

I love getting my kids dressed up in cute costumes! This year Snapper bought her own costume with her birthday money. She bought it at Cracker Barrel 6 weeks ago and has had it carefully saved in her closet. Now that Halloween is over, I anticipate I'll see her wearing it quite frequently! Pepper had planned on being Spiderman (I know, big surprise, right?), but changed his mind at the last minute. His words to me: "I'm Spiderman every day, Mom! I want to be something else for Halloween!" Then he saw a picture of himself wearing his lion costume from last year--which, incidentally, was also Snapper's costume when she was 2. Yes, I made it, back when I actually had time to sit down and sew a costume by hand. It was a tad short for him this year, but he still looked cute as a bug...or cute as a lion! For more cute kids in costumes, visit Musings of A Housewife. Lots of others are linking in to show off their kids!














Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Post for Which There Is No Title

When Matt and I were on our road trip to Colorado this summer, not having kids in the car allowed us to talk in great depth about a lot of things. All the way from Texas up through New Mexico and into Colorado, we talked about our Stories.

Every person has a story. Every person's Story is defined by different themes that weave throughout life. Matt's life has been defined by Choices and Doing the Right Thing. Time and again he has been faced with major decisions. The bad decisions have left their mark. But the good decisions have really defined who Matt is.

My Story carries three major themes: Adoption, Goodbyes, and Cancer. Being adopted has obviously impacted my life tremendously. For as long as I can remember, I have loved and respected my birthmom, Sherry. My adopted mom, Lotte, told me over and over throughout my growing up years that precious Sherry made a painful and courageous choice to give me a better life. She gave me up out of love. When I was 20, I was reunited with Sherry, with the full love and support of my parents. In the last 10 years, I have developed a very close relationship with the woman who gave me life--I call her Mama Sherry. Mama and Mommy became close friends quickly. She and my mom were both present at Snapper's birth. She came with me to visit my mom 2 days before my mom died. Our relationship has grown and deepened over the years, and she has been balm to my heart.

Here is a photo of Mama Sherry (on the left), and my mom (on the right). This photo was taken at my baby shower in 2002.




Goodbyes have punctuated my life. My best friend moved to Washington when I was 10. Another close friend moved when I was 12. Yet another close friend moved when I was 13. Much of Matt's and my relationship was long-distance, so there were lots of Goodbyes during our 3 1/2 years of courtship. I lost 4 grandparents between 1989 and 1999. More Goodbyes. My best friend from college moved away shortly after Snapper was born. In 2006 we said Goodbye to the town I was born and raised in, my whole family, and my best friend Noel. I'm facing the possibility of another set of Goodbyes to my Arkansas friends next summer. More on that later. I have said painful Goodbyes to 4 babies miscarried. The hardest Goodbye of all, though, was losing my mom to ovarian cancer in 2003.

That leads me into the final theme of my life: Cancer. My mom vs. ovarian cancer. My dear friend Beverly vs. leukemia. Both battles I have been intimately involved in. My mom's battle is over, and Beverly is still fighting hers. But those are not the only encounters with Cancer.

Today, enter a new antagonist. His name is Breast Cancer. His victim: My Mama Sherry.

Here's the question that keeps spinning around in my muddled brain: How does a girl manage to have 2 mothers and have them BOTH get Cancer?

Sherr'ys cancer is Stage 2. The prognosis is "good." But, the cancer is in her lymph nodes, which is really, really bad. Another surgery will come on the 5th. Then chemo and radiation begin on the 10th. It will be 6 treatments, 3 weeks apart. She will lose her hair. She will get very sick. And I live 1500 miles away.

Here is what I know.
1. I HATE Cancer. Have I mentioned that I HATE Cancer? Oh, in case you forgot, I HATE CANCER!
2. Life is hard, but God is good.
3. God's plans for me are for good, not to harm me.
4. God works ALL things (even Cancer) together for good. Did you hear that? All Things. For Good.
5. God will accomplish His good and perfect will through the cancer that has invaded my mother's body.

So, are you seeing another theme popping up here?

God.
IS.
Good.

Ah yes. God's Goodness is another major player in my Story.

Tonight I opened my cedar chest. It is where I keep all my treasures of my mom's. Her Bible (which I pulled out to start studying). Her journals. A few special pieces of clothing. Her folders and folders of writing about what God was teaching her during her illness.. Her daily planner, filled in up to the date she passed away. Perfume. Jewelry. An envelope of my baby teeth and notes to the Tooth Fairy. All little reminders of my mom. All the memories of my mom's 3 1/2 year Cancer battle came back to me, and I wept. Actually, I knelt on the bathroom floor, and puked and cried. And cried. And cried. My precious husband put together a playlist of songs to help me put my eyes in the right place: on Jesus. Then I prayed and prayed.

The next months are going to be difficult. I anticipate many trips to Phoenix to care for her after her chemo and radiation treatments. I'm not sure what's worse--the exhaustion that comes from the daily grind of caring for a cancer patient, or being 1500 miles away from the cancer patient you long to care for.

Ultimately,, though, I know God will work this out for my good, for my Mama Sherry's good, and for His own glory, no matter the outcome. Would you join me in praying for Sherry's salvation? More than anything, I want her to walk through this able to cling to the hope and peace that only Jesus Christ can give her.

Well, I think the writing has been what I needed. The tears have stopped, and I'm actually feeling sleepy. Thanks for your prayers, my bloggy friends.
I challenge you to take a look at your own life and your Story. What themes has God woven into your life? How has He used those themes to mold and shape you, and to cause you to grow in your relationship with Him? Blog about it. Consider yourself tagged. =)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What I've Learned

Check out Musings of A Housewife for links to some really wonderful bloggers who are all participating in this week's What I've Learned carnival.

MUCH learning for me this week. MUCH learning!

1. It is easy to convert that pumpkin on your front porch into something delicious! I cut up one of our pumpkins, roasted it, pureed it, and made it into the most fabulous pumpkin bread I've ever tasted. I never plan to buy canned pumpkin again!

2. Beef stew made in the crock pot is so much better than beef stew made on the stovetop. Recipe coming soon!

3. 7-year-old girls are prone to panic and melt down when their goggles come off during a race at a swim meet. This tendency to come unglued is multiplied exponentially when the 7-year-od girl is coming down with a fever virus.

4. Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 is worth the investment, just for the ease of editing pictures, and the quality of the final product! I had saved up some giftcards, and was finally able to make my purchase! I love Photoshop!

5. I never fully realize how much I miss all my family in California until the holidays start drawing near. Then I miss them like crazy, and dread facing Thanksgiving and December and Christmas without all the beloved traditions and people of "back home." This will be our 4th round of holidays away from California, and I miss my family more than ever.

6. Not much else tops being told that your company is sending you on a business trip with your husband TO YOUR HOME TOWN...and that the business trip falls Thanksgiving week...and that airfares are low enough to allow you to take the kids, too! Oh, and some sweet friends will buy those kid tickets! Yes, that happened to us today!!!!! We're going Home for 10 days in November! I Can Not Wait!

7. Oh wait, something can top that! How about this:
We are missionaries. We are 100% funded by donations from individuals and churches who share our passion for seeing others reached for Christ. It has been normal that donations drop off in August-October, leaving us without full pay. On Wednesday I received notice that our paycheck for the 25th was going to be $850 short. That left us with a paycheck for less than the amount just of our bills. I resolutely looked back at how God has faithfully provided for us every time this has happened, and I chose to trust Him to provide again. I let it go, and was at peace all day, waiting expectantly to see what He would do. That very night at church, an anonymous church member left us a check for $550 and two $100 Walmart gift cards! The church treasurer was all grins when she gave us the envelope. I, of course, started bawling. Matt and I prayed and thanked God for His provision of $750. Two minutes later, another church member came to me and said, "Not a word from you now. God told me to give this to you." He gave me a hug and pressed a $100 bill into my hand. $850. The exact amount our paycheck was short. In our hands two days before the paycheck every hit our bank account!
This is not new to me, but I learned yet again that God is trustworthy. He says He will care for us. He is true to His Word, and I thank Him for it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So I Won't Forget!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: one of my favorite things about being a parent is the funny things my children say.

One of my least favorite parts of being a parent is how many brain cells have disappeared from my head since giving birth to my children. Can I get a what-what? I know if I don't write down the cute things my kids say, those cute things will be gone from my memory by next week.

So I write them down, more for me than for you. But if you get a good laugh from them, I am very happy. I like to make people laugh, and so do my kids!

Snapper (age 7)

"I have been doing a lot of pondering recently. I have made a careful conclusion to start making wise decisions."

"Mom, forget going to McDonald's! I used to think you could win $50,000 for playing that Monopoly game thing, but now I know it's nothing but a big admitiser (advertising) gimmick!"

"Don't look now, Mom, but I think my brother is trying to pull the wool over your eyes!"

at her swim meet, right before the first race: "I'm so nervous that the butterflies in my stomach are also in my bladder and I think they are going to make me pee in the pool!"

Pepper (age 3)

when walking through the athletic club, yells at the top of his lungs to the 5 people on the treadmills: "Hey there! Keep on working it! Go get those muscles! Get those muscles! Get those muscles! Go, go, GO! I know you can do it!"

to a lady at Snapper's swim meet: "My name is Spiderman Kid Boy Pepper!"

to the nurse who did a blood draw for me on Tuesday: "You hurt my mommy, so I'm going to squash you like a bug right now! Be very afraid!" (she pretended to be scared, then beat it out to the hall where she burst out laughing)

"No Mommy, I'm not your boy! I'm your precious, adorable boy!"

after I hung up from a phone call with Matt: "Mommy, you weren't talking to my daddy, you were talking to your sweetheart!"

"I'm not Spiderman yet, but I will be any minute! I'm just waiting for my webs to come in."

"Mommy, I'm NEVER sleepy! And I'm NEVER naughty! And I'm ALWAYS hungry!"

I asked him if he wanted to exercise with me: "No Mommy, I don't like to exercise. I would rather sit on the comfy couch with my cozy blanket and eat cheese and crackers!"

"Don't be angry at me, Mommy, I'm just too cute for that!"

comes into my room wearing blue and yellow plaid shorts, a Hawaiian floral patchwork shirt, and red socks: "Look at me, Mommy! I got dressed all by myself! I'm so handsome, Mommy! Aren't you proud of me?"

"I hafta go potty right now! I can't wait! I think the candy I just ate is going to push the poop right out of me!"

while watching me exercise: "Wow, Mommy, your butt sure is big!" (Mom's favorite line...)


Have a happy Sunday!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Are THAT Family...

So....
Kristen at We Are THAT Family is hosting a blogoversary carnival. Since we have THAT Family days all the time, I have no problems coming up with material for this post! In fact, our latest THAT Family moment happened day before yesterday.

This is my son. His bloggy name is Pepper. His real name (according to him) is Spiderman Kid Boy. His legal name is not disclosed to the world for privacy reasons. It's a great name, though! Anyhoo, Pepper is 3, and is boy to the core.

Look at that face! Isn't he adorable? He would NEVER do say anything to embarrass Mommy, would he? Naw....






I had a check-up with my GP on Tuesday. Since the appointment was in the middle of the morning, I took Pepper with me. As you can tell from the above photo, Pepper is obsessed--and I mean OBSESSED--with Spiderman. So my doctor, a nice family man in his mid-to-late 30's, comes in. Pepper goes bouncing over to Dr. B and hollers at the top of his lungs:

"SPIDERMAN doesn't have BOOBS! He has PECS because he's a boy! Spiderman has a PENIS because he's a boy! Girls have BOOBS but they don't have a PENIS!!! Girls just have a bottom."

And he was so proud of himself for screaming these facts to the whole office, including the nice elderly couple in the examining room next to mine.

And I wanted to dig a hole and crawl into it, never again to emerge.

And my doctor laughed until he cried.

So my friends, there's no question about it--We Are THAT Family!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What I've Learned

What I've Learned This Week is hosted by Musings of A Housewife.

Here's what I learned.

1. Purell hand sanitizer is not good friends with my oak table. Ask my 3-year-old. He introduced Purell to Table, and the play date did not go well for the table. Take note: Purell not only removes the finish from wood, it eats the wood, too.

2. Never leave a bag of Hershey's Kisses in your purse when your 3-year-old knows about it. 3-year-olds have remarkable determination and deception powers when it comes to eating Hershey's kisses. No Mommy, I did not pull the dining room chair to the front door coat rack to get your purse. No, I did not eat half the bag of Kisses. No, I'm not the one who left the pile of Kiss wrappers under the dining room table. No, I did not eat the Kisses, and I definitely did not hide under the table to eat them! I didn't know it was a wrong thing to do, either! I definitely don't deserve a spanking! What? You're going to put me to bed? NOOOOOOO!

3. I learned that my daughter never turns clothing the right side out before putting it in the laundry. Never!

4. Never take sunshine for granted. Glorious Mr. Sun returned yesterday after a very long absence. I have never been so happy to see him!

5. A lot of convicting spiritual stuff has come down the pipes at me this week, both from my Bible study and from our discussion at community group on Sunday night. I'm working through Beth Moore's Believing God study with some wonderful ladies at church. I learned that I have a wrong perspective of myself. I have a hard time loving myself because I see all my own faults and insecurities. I need to remember that when God looks at me, none of that matters. I also learned that I'm not the only one who struggles with seeing myself as God sees me. Even Beth Moore has insecurities! Go figure! Anyhoo, lots to think about. And this is going to be one long learning curve.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Day!

I love love love the pumpkin patch! Maybe it's because I like orange. Maybe it's because I like the coolness of fall. Maybe it's that going to the pumpkin patch is a tradition we have not missed in 8 years. Maybe it's because we spend a day together doing something really fun and seasonal. Actually, it's probably a bit off all of the above.

We had a great time this year as usual. The only problem was that it has rained so much that everything was muddy. Mud is dirty. And it smells bad. And it gets on everything. And standing water in a pumpkin field does not do good things for pumpkins. Yuck! Fortunately, the farm had harvested a whole bunch of pumpkins and stored them in a barn full of dry straw. So even though we didn't get any pumpkins in the field. we were able to bring home some nice pumpkins from the barn. A picture speaks 1000 words, so without further ado, here are 7000 words!













Twenty Years

It was a balmy Tuesday evening, October 17, 1989. I was 10 years old and in 5th grade. My dad was on his way home from work in San Jose, California. My sister was at her friend's house in Felton. My mom and I, along with my friends Kara and Lisa, were in the car on the way to our house where we would eat a quick dinner before heading back out to Awana. Because we lived out in the country, the mailman wouldn't come all the way out to our house. We stopped to get the mail at the long row of mailboxes on our road. I clearly remember getting the mail, and slowly thumbing through it, hoping for a letter from my pen pal in Wyoming. My mom was in a hurry to get home, and kept trying to get me to give her the mail. I ignored her, and continued piecing through it.

I don't know what caused me to raise my head and look around, but I did. Goosebumps ran down my spine as I noticed the leaves quivering on the tree outside my car window. Then came a deep roar, and a sharp cracking noise as all hell broke loose and the ground began to violently shake. The shaking intensified, and the car began to bounce. My head hit the ceiling of the car several times because I had my seatbelt off to get the mail. I can remember feeling like I was in a disaster movie as the shale cliff just in front and to the right of our car cracked, and came pouring down across the road, a mere 15 feet from our car. Boulders crashed through the fence on the other side of the road, and the road was entirely buried in the landslide.

I didn't know at the time that I had just experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake, a 7.1 earthquake on the San Andreas fault on the central coast of California.

I was too scared to even cry, or talk, or move. It took a while for the dust to clear. My mom was finally able to maneuver the car up and over the rock slide. The rest of the road home up the hill was littered with rocks and debris. An occassional aftershock put me back into panic mode.

On arrival at our house, we were relieved to find it still standing. Our soaking wet cat met us in the driveway. Apparently he had been sleeping under the deck beneath our hot tub when the earthquake hit. Kara, Lisa, and I sat out in the middle of our horse pasture, safely away from power lines and structures, while my mom made a quick dash inside to grab a few things and survey the damage. Among the items she grabbed was my dad's Ham radio. We were all thankful at that time that my dad had taught me the basics of operating the Ham radio, and had set me up with emergency call letters. I turned on the radio and was able to get in contact with my Uncle Dave, a San Jose police officer. He assured me they were all fine over there. He was able to connect with my dad, who was also safe and sound.

As soon as Kara and Lisa's parents came to pick them up, my mom and I got back in the car and went to pick up my sister. We arrived home at the same time as my dad. Daddy had incredible stories of buckled pavement, giant landslides, and boulders the size of cars that he had witnessed on his treacherous commute over the mountain highway, Highway 17. We stood on our front deck and prayed together in the dusk, thanking God for protecting our family.

That night we had a candlelight dinner of lunch meat, cheese, and ice cream. We ate as much as we wanted, because we knew our power would be out for some days. After dinner, my sister and I cuddled together under the kitchen table with our dolls and flashlights while my parents scraped the kitchen floor. The entire kitchen floor was coated in a mix of Karo syrup, worcestershire sauce, and broken glass. At bedtime, I slept under my parents' bed, the only place I was convinced was safe. I slept there every night for the next month.

My sister, Jenny, and I played lots of Monopoly in the days following the quake.


The aftershocks continued for the next several days. We got so we could tell they were coming about 3 seconds before they actually hit. The crickets would stop chirping at that point. Those days following the quake were spent cleaning up messes, checking in with family and friends, and as soon as the power came back on (5 days later), watching news coverage on the tv. To that point we had listened to the news on a battery powered radio, or on the radio in the car.

That awful earthquake had devastating effects on our area.
* The quake killed 63 people
* injured over 3,700 people
* left about 12,000 people homeless
* the upper level of the Bay Bridge collapsed, causing cars to plummet to the lower level
* A two-level viaduct on the 880 freeway in West Oakland collapsed, killing 42 people
 
I was later to learn that the epicenter was just 5 miles from my home.
I will never forget that day. And I pray I never have to go through an earthquake like that again. That was enough earthquake to last me for a lifetime!

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's The Little Things...

So you've probably read my melancholy posts the last few days. I have been in a funk, unable to snap myself out of it. This morning when I woke up, I sat there in my bed, hugging my pillow, and asking God to give me a boost today. It didn't have to be anything big, just a little something to brighten my day.

My God is a God who cares about little things like that. He is a God who delights in details. He is a God who answers the desperate prayers of a moderately depressed, sun-deprived, energy-deficient woman in Arkansas.

You may remember the frantic despair that slammed me a few months back when the ever-so-charming Geek Squad at Best Buy deleted photos off of my hard drive AND my backup drive. I resigned myself to accepting that I had lost all my photos from March-July of this year. I cried for a few days every time I thought about those precious pictures. Then I let it go. What is done is done.

This morning I decided to edit a few more of my childhood photos that I scanned on my California trip. I popped in my thumb drive and THERE WERE MY PICTURES!!! All the pictures I lost back in July!!! I jumped up and did the happy dance. Then I cried. Then I danced some more! Of course I updated my status on Facebook.

It never occurred to me to thank God for brightening my day by recovering those pictures for me. Until now.

It has been 2 hours since I found those pictures, and I just realized that I bought that thumb drive brand-new in August. It was purchased expressly for my California trip. Every single one of my lost pictures was lost off my backup drive in JULY. How did they end up on a thumb drive I bought AFTER the photos were lost? How did they end up on a thumb drive that I have only opened 3 times since I got home from California?

Thank you, God. I can't think of any other explanation for how those photos are on that drive! It has to be You. Wow!

I'm still trying to claw out of my funk. It is still gray outside, and I still have no energy. But my day is brighter because my amazing God clearly answered my prayer this morning.

And I got a really cute picture of Pepper this morning! Hafta share it with you.


Rocking the Boat

Why is communication about important things so hard? I mean seriously, important things should be talked about. Important things like:

Finances
Hurts
Discipline
Heart emotions
Areas in your life and/or your spouse's life that need growth
The list goes on.

Yet when the time comes to talk about these things, my first instinct is to clam up and hide. Is it that I don't want to rock the boat? Is it that I just don't like being the one to create conflict? I really don't know. I just know that sometimes opening up and talking is the hardest thing to do. I have to force myself to do it.

Can anyone else relate?
I'd love to open a dialogue here, get some feedback. So here are two questions:
1. What issues are the most difficult for you to discuss with your spouse?
2. How have you grown in the area of keeping open lines of communication?

I love you, bloggy friends.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gray

The last few weeks I have learend again never to take for granted:
1. My health
2. Sunshine

I have definitely been under the weather--circumstantially, physically, emotionally. I'm just a fat blob of gray sitting on a couch in Central Arkansas.

I think we have had 4 sunny days in the last month. I have long struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but have had it well under control, thanks to the glorious existence of Welbutrin! But I think it is time to talk to the doc and raise my dosage, because it isn't working! Sunshine is in the forecast for the next few days. Oh wow, am I ever looking forward to soaking up some rays!

Sickness has been tracking me like a bloodhound this last month, too. Laryngitis and bronchitis took me out in Round 1. There was never Round 2...just a complete knockout. I'm still not convinced I didn't have H1N1 in there...no official diagnosis, but my symptoms exactly follow descriptions of the virus. And here I am a week of fever-free, and still dragging all day. No energy. Zip. Nada. My family is lucky to have gotten to eat the last week!

All that plays on the emotions, too. Add a traveling husband, challenging circumstances at home, and the cancellation of a planned family trip, and I'm just kind of a mess. Oh. And financial woes, too. It's that time of year.

Sorry to host a little sob-fest here, but I journal the down times as well as the up times. Lay it all out there, because I'm far from perfect. No use being delusional, right?

Ha ha!

On the bright side, Snapper's swim team is going great! She swims in her first meet next weekend! Pepper is fully potty trained at night! Woot! I have bought my last package of Pull-Ups, at least for a time! The trees are changing colors! I have a beautiful maple tree that I enjoy all year. I purposely modify my travel route when driving to see my friend Karon, in order to drive by that spectacular tree! Be watching for pictures, coming soon. The tree needs another week or two before it will peak. Finally, I was healthy enough on Monday to go photograph my friend Jodie's new baby, Ashten. He is 3 weeks old, and a total cutie pie! Here's my favorite pics from the shoot.

Alrighty then, grumpfest is over. I'm going to make an apple cake and an egg casserole to feed my Bible study ladies for breakfast tomorrow. And I also need to pack Snapper's lunch. Then I am going to bed. Night night, bloggy friends! I am thankful for you.












Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No Words Left

At 2:45 this afternoon, I picked Snapper up from school. As we drove to her swim team practice, we chatted about the events of her day. We don't have enough time to go home before practice, so we arrive at the swim club early and do Snapper's homework in the car. Her homework today was simply to read a book. I asked her what book she was reading, and she whipped her Bible out of her backpack. I was pretty surprised to see that. Here's how our conversation went.

Me: You took your Bible to school?
Snapper: Yup! During our quiet reading time at school, we can read whatever we want.
Me: So you're reading your Bible?
S: Yup, I took it with me yesterday, too.
Me: Why do you want to read your Bible at school?
S: Well, this is a public school and they don't teach us about Jesus. So I am taking my Bible with me so I'll be ready to tell other kids about Jesus if they want to know about Him.
Me: Wow! That's pretty cool, Snapper!
S: Yesterday Morgan and Aaliyah saw me reading my Bible, so I told them to bring their Bibles and we could read our Bibles together.
Me: Did they remember?
S: Yup, they both remembered. They brought their Bibles to school today and during reading, we sat together and read Genesis 3! I told some of the other girls, and I think Naomi is going to bring her Bible tomorrow. Are you happy, Mom?
Me: Yes! I am very happy, and I'm proud of you for wanting to share Jesus with your friends.
S: I knew you would be proud, but I'm not doing this for you, you know. I'm doing it for Jesus.

At that point I had no words. That doesn't happen very often! What more was I to say?
At moments like this, every parenting struggle and heartache fades away, and ceases to be important.

What I've Learned

It is time for another round of What I've Learned This Week, hosted by Musings of A Housewife.

1. Even though Ford sometimes has a bad rep, a good Ford is much easier to repair than many other vehicles. The alternator went out on my Ford Windstar this week, and my sweet husband was able to replace it himself with no difficulty. He has replaced alternators on other cars of mine, but they have been much more difficult and frustrating.

2. Spayed kitties are happy kitties! Even though the procedure was expensive, it was worth it. My cats have been so much calmer and more cuddly during the last week since they got fixed!

3. No amount of hand washing will guarantee protection against illness. For the last month I have been washing my hands and using sanitizer like a maniac. I have been scrubbing my kitchen counters with Lysol every day, and wiping my doorknobs down with Clorox wipes regularly. Heck, I even open doors in public places with a wipe or a paper towel. And I still got sick. After spiking a fever on Sunday morning, I decided to go visit the doctor yesterday. The diagnosis: acute bronchitis. I'm hoping, praying the antibiotic kicks in soon, because I am miserable.

4. Fall is my favorite season. I learn this again every time I step outside. Fall. Is. AMAZING!

5. Never take your eyesight for granted. Watching my sweet girl soaking in the world around her has spurred a mixture of emotions in me. For those of you just tuning in, my 7-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with Amblyopia, a condition that has made her blind in her right eye. She got glasses 2 weeks ago, and it is like she is really living for the first time.

I know, nothing profound this week. But that's okay!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Camera Buffet

Fall weather is perfect for pictures! The temp is just right out, and everyone is happy. Fall foliage spices up photos, too. Add some soft clouds, and the lighting is perfect! All the conditions were perfect for my photo session with my friends Ross and Taya yesterday. Their son, E, turned 1 last week. I got to do a shoot with him when he was 6 months old. It was such fun to follow up and do his first birthday portraits, too! He is a regular buffet for my camera...it just ate him right up!



Little E at 6 months old, my favorite shot from that day


Little E at 1 year, my favorite shot from this session


First birthday collage

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tagged by Stefanie

So as I look back through the 270 posts over the last 18 months, I realize that very few are about my hubby, and even fewer are about us as a couple. I thought this tag would be fun to post! A little bit about Matt and me!

♥ What are your middle names?


Susannah and David




♥How long have you been together?

We have known each other since I was born.

Dated almost 3 years

Engaged 8 months

Married 8 1/2 years

That means we have been "together" for almost 12 years!




♥ How long did you know each other before you started dating?

18 1/2 years...every day of my life!




♥ Who asked who out?

He did the asking.




♥ Who made the first move?

Our parents!

Our parents noticed the chemistry between us, discussed the situation together, and then talked to Matt about it. It made perfect sense to him because he had always wanted to marry someone he shared childhood history with (he did not believe in casual dating), so he called and asked me. And I fell over backward in my chair.



♥ How old are each of you?

me-30

him- 34



♥ Did you go to the same school?

Nope. We were in the same homeschool group for many years, though.



♥ Are you from the same home town?

We were both born and raised in the  San Jose Bay Area.



♥ Who is the smartest?

I'd have to say we're both pretty smart. We're smart in different areas, though. He has amazing Bible knowledge, and I'm the math whiz.



♥ Who majored in what?

Me- Child and Adolescent Development

Him- Biblical Studies



♥ Who is the most sensitive?

Me. For sure. But having kids has definitely brought out the seinsitive side in him.



♥ Where do you eat out most as a couple?

We have a series of favorites that we rotate through.





♥ Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

The Caribbean



♥ Who has the worst temper?

Neither one of us has a bad temper. If you had to choose, though, it would be me.



♥ How many children do you want?

3 or 4



♥ Who does the cooking?

Mostly me, though he is a great cook, too.



♥ Who is more social?

Definitely Matt! He is amazing with people.




♥ Who is the neat-freak?

We both are neat people. Recently I've been kind of freakish about it.



♥ Who is the most stubborn?

Me.



♥ Who wakes up earlier?

Matt for sure! He thinks 5 a.m. is a wonderful time of day. I think 5 a.m. is closely related to the devil.



♥ Where was your first date?

Sushi at Shogun in Spokane



♥ Who has the bigger family?

Immediate family? Matt! He has 6 sisters and a brother.
Extended family? Me! Let's just say that our wedding photographer has to stand halfway back up the aisle to take the family photo because my family is so huge! I think we sent out 50 invitations to family alone! That's 50 invitations, not 50 people!



♥ Do you get flowers often?

Several times a year because he knows I love fresh flowers.



♥ How do you spend the holidays?

Happily... together. We have lots of rich traditions.





♥ Who is more jealous?

Neither one of us is of a jealous nature.



♥ How long did it take to get serious?

2 months!



♥ Who eats more?

Matt! Because I'm a good cooker.



♥ What do you do for a living?

We're missionaries. He writes coaching emails for people who bring groups to our marriage conferences. He also travels to several conferences each year and works with the volunteers onsite. I am the blogging coordinator for our marketing and promotions department. I get to read and reply to blogs! First and foremost, though, I'm a domestic goddess/life artist. =)



♥ Who does the laundry?

Mostly me. It is my very favorite chore! (Except for putting it away!)



♥ Who’s better with the computer?

We're both experts at different things on the computer.



♥ Who drives when you are together?

Always him.



♥ What is "your" song?

You're Where I Belong (Trisha Yearwood)


I tag Lori A, Amy H, and Christine.