Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend Dessert

I love cake (certain types only, though). I love ice cream even more. This weekend was like a slice of really yummy cake, or a big bowl of my favorite ice cream. It was really completely ordinary, but to me was jam-packed full of sweetness. Delicious and satisfying with every bite!

My day Saturday was completely consumed by getting my digital scrapbooking supplies organized and safely backed up onto a flash drive. Have I mentioned how much I love photography, my pictures, and the creative process of scrapbooking? I. Love. It. I can't imagine a more wonderful lazy-Saturday activity! Well, the beach is wonderful too, but I don't have a beach here. I digress... Anyway, I created a couple of digital pages, scanned a bunch of older pages, and created two digital fonts of my handwriting so I can use my handwriting in my kids' digital scrapbooks! How cool is that? We ate Chinese food for lunch, and ate leftover Chinese food for dinner. It was lovely! In the evening, Snapper played basketball with the neighbor kids at the end of our cul-de-sac, and Matt and I pushed Pepper on the tire swing in our front yard. I had fun with my camera at this point. Here are a few of my favorites.

Pepper--normally timid--is fearless on this swing. He loves it and would willingly swing for an hour, I think.

Yes, he really is as high up there as it looks. At this point he's a good 15-20 feet in the air!

Okay, how sweet is this? Matt is a wonderful daddy.


The toothless wonder. This shot is the essence of being 6!

Today we went to church, where my pastor preached a message that really made me think. It was convicting, too. I won't fill this post with my thoughts on the message right now. I'm not in the mood to write anything deep. Maybe I'll post about that later this week. After church Debbie treated us to Mexican food at our favorite Mexican restaurant here in town. I had Pollo Adobe...chicken with a cream sauce and fresh, steamed spinach. Can we say YUM!?! We came home from church, and I took my customary post in front of the television for my favorite television event of the week: NASCAR! While I watched the race, I worked on crocheting the blanket I'm making for my soon-to-arrive niece, Giana. Baby is due tomorrow, and blanket still has about 3 hours of work left to do. The race was a particularly exciting one, made completely sweet by victory for my favorite driver, Jimmie Johnson! This evening was community group. We meet every Sunday evening with 3 other couples and 3 single ladies from our church. We have dinner together, talk about various things (we usually get pretty deep), and pray together. I love these people so much, and look forward to Sunday nights. Now we're home, and I'm listening to Matt doing his nightly devotion time with Snapper and Pepper. Have I mentioned how much I cherish his spiritual leadership? How priceless to have a husband who is actively involved in the spiritual development of our family! Blessed.

The frosting on my weekend was a little situation we encountered on the way home from community group tonight. Snapper was talking about needing a shower when we got home. Here's how the conversation went.

Snapper: "I really need a shower when we get home. I'm all sweaty and gross."
Me: "That sounds good. I'm glad you like to be clean."
Matt: "Please take your shower in Debbie's bathroom. If you're going to be taking showers instead of baths, you need to use that bathroom."
Snapper: "But I like your shower. It's a better shower. I don't want to use Deb-Deb's shower."
(note: Our shower is a tiny box shower. Debbie's shower is a regular bathtub/shower combo)
Me: "Debbie's shower is so much bigger than ours. You'll have more room to move in her shower.
(complete silence from the back seat)
Snapper: (in a thoroughly disgusted tone of voice) "I DON'T POOP IN THE SHOWER!!!"
(Matt and I erupt into laughter...and laugh...and laugh...and laugh).
Snapper: "What? Why are you laughing? You aren't supposed to poop in the shower!"
Me: (words choked out between spasms of laughter) "I'm very glad you don't poop in the shower!"
Matt: "Snapper, Mommy said there is more room to MOVE in the shower, not more room to POOP in the shower!"
Snapper: (dissolves into giggles): "OHHHHHH!!!" I thought she said there was more room to poop in the shower!"

We laughed together the rest of the way home. In fact, I'm still chuckling. Matt and I knew by the tone of Snapper's voice that she genuinely mis-heard me. There was nothing contrived about that statement. Oh, was it funny! Yup, definitely the frosting...or the whipped cream and cherry if you top off a great weekend!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My First Digital Project...And A Giveaway!

First of all, don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Now, I spent part of yesterday playing with my new digital scrapbooking software. Here is the first layout I completed! It is the highlights of summer layout from Pepper's Age 2 album. I've made it my goal to have each child's album current by their birthday each year. I only have about 6 weeks until Pepper turns 3, so I'm really going to town on his album now. Anyhoo, here it is! I'm on my way to the office now (after making a quick stop at Shipley's for a donut) to scan more pages from my scrapbooks. Happy Saturday!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Em Goes Digi...And A Giveaway!

As you may know, scrapbooking is one of my passions. I set aside time regularly to capture the life of my family in a work of art that will preserve memories for generations to come. At the scrapbook retreat I went to 2 weeks ago, my Creative Memories consultant/dear friend Bev told me about Creative Memories' digital scrapbooking software called "StoryBook Creator Plus." I was fascinated, and thoroughly impressed by the work she had done using the program. I came home from the retreat, did a bit of research, and decided I wanted to purchase the software.

I have been using the traditional paper and photos method of scrapbooking for 10 years. I am current with my family album through the end of 2008. I have also been doing an album for each of my kids. Those are highlights albums, focusing on special events in the life of each child. I typically do twelve 2-page layouts for each child each year. It has been totally manageable for me, and I'm current for both of them through their last birthdays. The problem I face is not catching up or staying current. My problem is that I do not have enough space to store those albums. I am also dreadfully afraid of losing my albums should my house burn down or get struck by a tornado.

So...I am making the switch to digital scrapbooking for Snapper and Pepper's albums. Once a year I will print a hardcover, 12x12 book for each child, a compilation of the scrapbook pages I've created digitally for them throughout that year. In the long run, this will save money for me, too. I'll continue my traditional scrapbooking for the family albums. For me all the cutting, organizing, and writing is therapeutic and totally satisfying. I can't imagine going completely digital! I'm in the process of scanning all my pages and burning to them onto cd's to preserve them from disaster. I scanned several pages over the weekend. Here are a few favorites from my 2008 Family Album.

This afternoon I began hunting around online for free digital papers and embellishments to use with my new software. I struck gold! If you dabble in digital scrapbooking, you have to visit this site: ShabbyPrincess. They have complete kits available for free download. Each kit includes a bunch of paper and embellishments. They are absolutely beautiful! You don't even have to sign up for any sort of membership--just download the kits. I am super excited to get started!

You know, I think I'll do a giveaway to celebrate scrapbooking. On Wednesday I will randomly select one person to receive a free, one-year subscription to Creating Keepsakes magazine. Whether you are a hard-core scrapbooker or just interested in possibly starting to scrapbook, this magazine is for you. The articles are packed full of ideas for scrapbookers--digital or traditional--stampers, and photographers. I couldn't recommend it more highly.

To enter, leave a comment telling me why you love scrapbooking, or why you're considering becoming a scrapbooker. Link your blog to this post, Tweet it on Twitter, or link on Facebook for additional entries! Good luck!

Burned Fingers

I spent yesterday at work, happily engrossed in two different projects. I love Wednesdays because I feel so productive! Meanwhile, my sweet man was at home with the kiddos, also thoroughly enjoying his day. He cooked lunch for them...actually cooked! I usually make pb&j or cheese and crackers. But Superdad cooked. And Pepper kept bugging him, asking if the stove was hot. Daddy warned Pepper that yes, the stove was hot. Pepper slapped the burner, just to see. Lucky for him, the burner he chose to slap was off.

When I got home from work, Matt was cooking dinner. Teriyaki chicken, brown rice, and broccoli. YUM! Again, Pepper shadowed Daddy, asking if the stove was hot. Daddy again warned Pepper that yes, the stove was hot and DO NOT TOUCH! You'll get burned and it will hurt very badly. Dinner was served, and disaster averted.

After dinner, a family walk, and playtime out on the new tire swing, we came in to watch "So You Think You Can Dance," our favorite summer show. Matt went in the kitchen, followed by his faithful shadow, and made some popcorn for us to snack on while we watched. Pepper again inquired as to the temperature of the stove. He received the standard reply: Don't touch that stove! It is hot and it will hurt you.

Why do children not believe what their parents say?

Mr. Pepper had to find out for himself, so he stuck his little fingers directly on the burner...the one the popcorn pan was on. I heard the sizzle of frying fingers...and I was in the living room. Matt swooped down and grabbed Pepper before he even felt the pain, and stuck that little hand in the cold water. I came in and held Pepper's hand in the water for 10 minutes while Pepper wiggled and fussed. We bandaged the poor, blistered fingers, gave Pepper some Motrin, and cuddled up together on the chair with popcorn and apple juice. And then Pepper's lesson began.

The fingers are blistered, but not terribly. Sadly, they are burned just badly enough to cause a great deal of pain. Between bites of popcorn, sips of juice, and kisses from Mommy, Pepper howled and shook his fingers. After over an hour of pain and crying, he fell asleep in my arms. Thankfully, he slept through the night, and his fingers do not hurt today. It will take some time for them to heal, but they'll be fine.

As a mom, it is hard for me to see my baby in pain. Yet I understand that sometimes children need to learn a lesson the hard way. In this case, I did not intentionally allow him to get burned, but I could not have prevented it. Pepper understands what "hot" means. He has been told repeatedly in the past year not to touch the stove. He has been warned of the pain that will occur if he does touch the stove. Yet nothing would convince him other than experiencing the pain for himself. Sometimes these best thing a parent can do for their child is to not intervene, and to let a natural consequence teach a valuable lesson. I ache for my son as he suffers the consequence of his choice. I wish he had listened to me.

How often is God in this same position? He loves me and does not want me to hurt. He gives me clear direction and warns me of the consequences should I fail to obey Him. I know what I am not supposed to do, but I do it anyway. I'm sure I sometimes leave Him no other choice than to step back and let me have my own, stubborn way. Does God ache as He watches my pain, and does He wish I had just obeyed Him and avoided the hurting? I'm sure He does.


Making this connection makes me want to listen more carefully to my Father. As painful as burned fingers are, I think I'd rather deal with that than with some of the consequences of living life outside of God's boundaries. Is there anything more horrible that choosing a path, knowing full well I'm ignoring God, and then experiencing the decline in my relationship with Him? No. I think not. Often there are other consequences as well. I could do without any of that, thank you.

Are you being faced with a difficult decision in your life right now? As you look down the two paths in front of you, I encourage you to follow God's path for your life, even if it looks darker and scarier than the path you would choose for yourself. Stick close to Him and avoid getting "burned fingers." God know what He's doing, and He will not lead you astray.

Pepper has learned his lesson. This morning, each time he walked through the kitchen, he was careful to cut a wide path around the stove. I also heard him informing Pixie (our kitten) to "don't touch the ''s very hot and it will hurt you and you will hafta get a bandaid."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Works for Me!

In today's edition of Works for Me Wednesday: The yummiest corn in the world! For more awesome tips and ideas, visit We Are THAT Family.

2 summers ago I discovered this recipe when at a 4th of July dinner at a friend's house. It's a very simple Mexican recipe, but to call it Mexican corn would be a shame. Our family has re-titled this recipe:

The Yummy Corn!

Shuck and grill 4 ears of corn on the cob.
Spread each ear of corn with a moderate coating of mayonnaise.
Roll in cotija cheese crumbles.
Sprinkle generously with chopped cilantro.

Another option is to cut the corn off the cob (4 ears) after grilling. Toss in 3 Tbsp. mayo, 1 cup cotija cheese crumbles, and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Serve warm or chilled.

We still love this corn in the winter, when you can't buy fresh corn. At that point, I defrost frozen corn to use in the recipe. You can adjust the amounts of the may, cheese, and cilantro to suit your taste.

You can buy cotija cheese at Walmart. It is in the back refrigerator case, sloe to the biscuits and crescent rolls. They have a little section of Mexican cheeses there. Some Walmarts sell it as a round wheel. Our Walmart sells it as a bag of crumbles.

Happy summer, and enjoy!

What I've Learned

Happy Tuesday! Drop by Musings of a Housewife for the What I've Learned This Week carnival. Here's what I learned this week.

1. Having a bulging disc in your neck causes misery all over the body.

2. A good chiropractor is priceless. This said, I do not have a good chiropractor yet.

3. Arkansas must be the most loyal state in the country. Three cheers for Arkansas for winning American Idol for Kris Allen! And bravo to both Adam and Kris...they have amazing careers ahead of them. Seriously though, the judges underestimated the Razorback Nation when they predicted Adam would win Idol. Crazy Arkansans!

4. A sister is a precious thing. The older I get and the more twists life throws at me, the more thankful I am for my sister, Jenny. I'm also chafing at the 2400 miles between us. I learned once again this week just how much I miss my California family.

5. Fireflies/lightning bugs are quite possibly my favorite thing about summer in Arkansas. There's something magical about sitting on the front porch after dark on a warm night, and witnessing little, glowing spots blinking through the darkness!

Have a great day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

I've Been Tagged

A few days back my friend Sarah tagged me with 5 things I love about being a mom. Since this was a rather quiet and uneventful weekend and I have nothing to write about, now is a good time to complete this tag!

5 Things I Love About Being A Mom

1. Seeing pieces of myself and Matt in the kids. I am frequently amazed at how our genes combined to produce two fair-skinned, blond-haired kids that still manage to look so much like me. Pepper has looked a lot like me from the beginning. But as Snapper is maturing, I see more of me every day. Both kids even move like I do. But then they laugh...and sound just like Matt's whole family. And they get facial expressions that come directly off of Matt's face. It blows my mind! Maybe that's part of why I want another baby so badly. I never get tired of watching us come out in them!

2. Making memories as a family. I have made it my goal to follow in my mom's footsteps and create strong family traditions for the kids. We also love to be spontaneous and try new things. I guess it is seeing our family take on its own, unique personality through our experiences that I love so much. I cherish the memories we have already made.

3. Watching the kids grow, change, and learn new things. In the last week Snapper finally overcame her fear of riding her bike (with training wheels). She and her friends H, C, and J raced fearlessly up and down the street on bikes and scooters. Snapper also lost both her front teeth recently. I love the stage she's in, and I love watching her grow in her independence. Pepper's growth has come in the area of self control. He's almost potty trained now. And he has made big strides in our battle against screaming. He is finally getting the concept of using his words to communicate.

4. Their sweet, soft, cuddly, little bodies. Every time I hold Pepper, I run my finger over his cheeks, so soft and chubby. I bury my nose in his hair and smell that wonderful baby shampoo scent. I nestle his head in under my chin and hold him tight. I savor those cuddling moments because he is growing so fast. Whenever Snapper puts her hand in mine, I squeeze it and make note of how her hand is no longer so tiny in my hand. I remember nursing her as a newborn, marveling at how perfectly she fit in my arms. I remember putting away baby shower gifts, and wondering if she would ever be big enough to wear the size 18 months clothing I'd been given. *Sigh*

5. The things they say--sweet, cute, funny, embarrassing, etc. There's nothing I love more than laughter. And nothing makes me laugh so hard as a funny something out of the mouths of my children. They are a blessing, a joy, a delight. continue this...I will tag:
Lauren @ Life and Times of the Parker Family
Stefanie @ Jastef
Tammy @ Living Unleashed for Christ
Tara @ The Kelly Corner
Amy @ Hof Peeps (you can post this one on your favorite things about pregnancy, or you can wait until after Phyra is born!)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Say What?

We spent a wonderful evening with our friends Larry and Erin, David and Tiffany. On the way home, Snapper was prattling on about nothing in general (as usual), and then she said something worth listening to.

"Mommy? When I wake up in the morning and you are still asleep and I have a question, I don't want to wake you up. You need your sleep. So I call Daddy and ask him the question instead."

This is true. A few times in the last week as I've slept later than usual (thanks, demarol), she has called Matt at work for permission to play on the Wii or watch cartoons. In fact, I am pretty proud of her for doing that on her own--glad that she knows how to make a phone call. But this is not the end of the story.

"Well Mommy, since I sometimes need to call Daddy, why can't I have my own cell phone?"

At that point I answered that she is 6 and doesn't need a cell phone. She can call Daddy from our house phone. That's why we have a house phone.

"Can I get a cell phone when I turn 7?"

I told her she would get a cell phone when she starts driving, which will be when she is 16. I whispered to Matt that we'll likely get her one before that, but she doesn't need to know that. While I was whispering to Matt, the wheels in her head were turning.

"Hmmm...that means I have to wait 9 years to get a cell phone...(long, dramatic pause)...WHAT? WHAT? I can't wait 9 years! There's no way I can wait 9 years! That's way too long for me to wait for a cell phone!"

After another long pause...

"Do you know how I know I have to wait 9 years? It's because I did subtraction! I figured it out in my head. See how smart I am? I think I will be ready for a cell phone soon."

Don't you love almost-7-year-old logic?

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yesterday I had the fun of photographing the birthday party of Snapper's friend A. These pictures of A with her cake are too cute not to share!

Close your eyes and make a wish!

Magic candles...


First of all, thanks to all who have been praying for me this week. My neck is feeling better, thanks to the steroids and pain meds. I plan to see a chiropractor next week, and I'm trying to get a referral from my doctor to a physical therapist. Even though the pain is no longer acute, I can still tell things are not right. It is affecting my left arm still, and I have discomfort all down my back and left leg. It's not going to be a quick fix.

There's not a whole lot to write about from the past few days. Now would be a good time to post some pictures of the last week. Enjoy!

Auntie Debbie with the kiddos at the Greek Food Festival in Little Rock

The kids enjoy sweet treats on a hot day at the Greek Food Festival

Our kitties...the "kittnens" are growing so fast!

Our little Pixie. We're so in love with her!

Snapper's experimentation with the camera

My favorite of Snapper's self portraits

Matt hung a tire swing for the kids in our front yard. Our yard is the new most popular yard on the cul-de-sac!

The kids love to swing together.

Snapper is now without her two front teeth!

He is so cute!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Big Scare

So this afternoon I went in to the office to work, leaving Matt home with the kids. I was happily working away at my desk when all of a sudden my left arm began to hurt. I stood up and stretched, trying to get the kink out of my arm. It did not help. I figured it must be a muscle spasm, so I sat back down and started working some more. After a minute or so, the pain began to intensify, and I realized my fingers on my left hand were tingling. I stood up again, and was about bowled over by a wave of nausea. I grabbed my cell phone and headed to the stairwell to call Matt. Standing there in the stairwell, I broke into a fierce sweat, and the pain in my arm was so bad I couldn't even grip my cell phone.

Matt was obviously concerned, and told me to go talk to our friend Jim who is on the medical emergency response team at the office. Jim was not at his desk, so I went to another co-worker who used to be a paramedic. He evaluated my symptoms and told me to get to my doctor asap. So while I was waiting for Matt to come pick me up, I called my doctor. He ordered me to go straight to the ER. I was showing the symptoms of a heart attack. Oh. My. Gosh.

Matt checked my blood pressure when he arrived, and it was a bit elevated, so we headed to the hospital. When we arrived and checked in, the triage nurse took me straight back for an EKG. It looked okay, and they sent me back out to the waiting room until a bed opened up. Then while I was sitting there, I got hit with chest pains. Have you ever swallowed a corn chip with a sharp corner, or a chunk of ice? That's what it felt like in my chest, just under my sternum. I got pretty freaked out at that point, and the triage nurse took me back and demanded a bed for me. As soon as I was settled, another nurse came in and evaluated me.

She first hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff, a heart moniter, and an oxygen saturation monitor. Then she put me on oxygen, and put in an i.v. She wrapped me up in heated blankets, drew a bunch of blood, and told me to wait for the doctor. At this point my entire left arm and shoulder were numb, with pain radiating down my collar bone and up my neck. Add the nausea and chest pain and I was feeling horrible. Then the doctor came in. He had looked at my EKG, and had been watching the output of my monitors. He told me everything was great with my heart, which was fantastic news.

The bad part is that I have a bulging disc in my neck, likely long-term damage from the car wrecks I have been in over the last several years (none my fault, I might add!). The bulging disc is pinching some nerves in my neck. Who knew a pinched nerve could cause so much horrific pain! I was very relieved to walk out of the hospital with a pile of prescriptions and an otherwise clean bill of health.

Now I'm on a steroid to bring down the inflamation in my neck. I'm on phenergan to stop the nausea. And I'm on demerol for the pain. It has helped a lot, but wow...I'm totally high! And totally sleepy...

I'm going to bed now, thanking the Lord for taking care of me in a very scary, potentially life-rocking situation. Now, to being some physical therapy for that neck!

What I've Learned

It has been a learning week for me for sure! Lots to report.

1. There is priceless value in being on the same page as your husband when it comes to disciplining your children. There is unlimited depth of frustration when you are not!

2. Snapper has apparently figured out that Mommy and Daddy have not been entirely on the same page when it comes to discipline, and has figured out how to "work the system" to her advantage. A very heated discussion--complete with tears and upset stomach for me--occurred behind locked doors in the master bedroom at my house on Sunday night. We got a lot of the kinks in the discipline system worked out, and I have hope that it will improve from here. It has to. There's no other option.

3. The phrase "Time Heals" is only partly true.
Saturday marked the 6th anniversary of my mom's death. In case you're just tuning in, my mom lost her battle with ovarian cancer on May 16th, 2003. During the last week, starting on Mother's Day, really, I began having little bursts of emotion. I did fine on Saturday because I was scrapbooking with my friends. Sunday, however, was a different story. After my battle with Matt, I expressed my frustration with myself for being so cranky and emotional. I began suggesting ideas as to why--fatigue from the scrapbook retreat, PMS, missing a few days of my medication, etc. All were possible explanations. But then Matt said, "It's the middle of May." And I dissolved. That was quite obviously the explanation! For the next half an hour I cuddled in his arms and bawled like a baby.

Time does heal. It heals in regard to many of the everyday things of life. I can go through my day and think of my mom without crying. In fact, I savor and cherish my memories of her. I can visit my dad and step-mom (they still live in the same house), and not think a thing of it. I talk about my mom with my kids, and look at pictures with joy.

But time also does not heal. When a grief wave hits me, it slams me. The waves have gotten fewer and farther between over the last 6 years. But when they hit, they're magnified in amplitude. Sunday night was a wave of tsunami proportions. As I cried, my whole body hurt, every single joint. My throat ached and tightened until I could hardly breathe. And my stomach? Ugh. The pain of this kind of grief has gotten worse over time, not better.

4. When processing grief, don't try to stuff those emotions or avoid memories of the one you have lost. When I'm hurting like that, I take it to God. I pray through my tears and pain, and ask God for peace and comfort. Since my mom died, I've asked Him for that many, many times. And there is not a single time where God has not come through and answered that prayer. That gives me another blog idea for another day.

5. Look for creative ways to process grief, and to remember the one you have lost. This summer I will be starting a new scrapbook project. In fact, my other ongoing projects will be going on hold while I work on my new project. I'm going to try my hand at digital scrapbooking for this one. My plan is to go on a solo scrapbook/grief-processing retreat. I have enough frequent flyer miles on Frontier Airlines to go to California. I'll drive to Dallas (since Frontier no longer flies into Little Rock) and fly out to California for 5 days in June or August. I'll go through the photo albums at my dad's house, and the photo albums at my auntie's house, and scan pictures. The plan is to scrapbook my mom's life and my growing up years. It's going to be a big undertaking--likely will take me 2-3 years to complete--but I need to do it. I think recording those precious memories will heal my heart in a deeper way than ever before. The anticipation of this trip is like balm to my soul right now.

6. When trying to speak words of comfort and encouragement to a grieving person, don't tell them that times heals. The best thing you can do is give them a hug, and tell them you wish there was something you could do. Then, if you really want to be a help, find a way to serve them and meet physical needs. For someone whose grief is very fresh, bring them a meal. Babysit their kids. Mow their lawn. Come over and vacuum and dust for them. For someone like me, just be available to talk. On a big anniversary of the loss, invite them out for coffee, or have them over for dinner. Be ready to share memories. And just hug them. Above all, though, guard your words. The most well-meaning words can cause the deepest pain.

*For those of you who have spoken words of comfort to me in the last few weeks, thank you. Your words have done just that. You have not caused me pain.*

Wow...I hadn't intended this post to be a deep one. In fact, I hadn't even planned to talk about grief at all. I was going to post on what I learned in my battle with Snapper. Maybe another time. Apparently, God had bigger plans for this post, and I hope it helps someone.

For more What I've Learned, check out Musings of A Housewife.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Am Tired!

What a wonderful weekend!

On Friday mid-morning Matt, Debbie, the kids, and I went to the Greek Food Festival in Little Rock. Oh yummy! Unfortunately, I can't eat baklava, and the yummy pastry that Karon told me about was not available this year. But I did stuff myself full of gyros, pastitsia, hummus and pitas, and another yummy spinach-stuffed pastry that I can't spell the name of.

Then I ran home and picked up the food I had made for our friends Mark and Stefanie, and took it up to the hospital. I cuddled the new baby while Mark and Stef ate. Then I took lots of pictures. Here are a few of the best. I'm looking forward to a photo shoot with the baby in their home in a month or so!

After I left the hospital, I swung by Sonic and grabbed a giant cherry limeade before heading out to my scrapbook retreat. I'll spare you the details of the weekend. I just scrapbooked until 2:30 a.m., then lay in my bed talking with my roomie, Stephanie, until 3:15. A severe thunderstorm rolled in at that point, and Steph and I pulled back the curtains, turned around so our heads were at the foot of our beds, and watched the storm until 3:45. Then we went to sleep. We had breakfast at 8, then scrapbooked until 6 p.m. I got 40 pages (20 layouts) done, journaling in all! Maybe later this week I'll scan a few and post them.

All ready to go! Scrapbooking with Wendy

The necessary pile of junk food

My scrap space

Now I'm home, and I'm VERY tired. I'm thinking about taking a nap before community group at 6. Yes, I think I'll go do that now! Happy rest of the weekend!

Oh yes, my blogger friend Sarah Mae is have awesome giveaways at her blog for the next few days. Check it out! Who knows...maybe you'll win something great!
Like a Warm Cup of Coffee

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Weekend to Me!

Now THIS will be a weekend for the memory books! Here's why.

This morning: I will finish preparing a meal for our friends John and Janel. They had baby #4 3 weeks ago. I will finish preparing a meal for our friends Mark and Stefanie. They had baby #1 yesterday! Then I will fold the last load of laundry, which will make me current on laundry! WOO HOO!!!!! Then I will organize the 180 pictures I had processed yesterday--pictures I will be scrapbooking this weekend.

At 11:00: The kids and I will meet Matt at our friends the Whitmores' house. Then we, accompanied by the Whitmores, will drive in to Little Rock for lunch at the annual Greek Food Festival. Gyros, tzatziki, and some really rich, gooey pastry dripping in honey that I don't know the name of...HERE I COME!!!

At 12:30: I will deliver lunch to Mark and Stefanie at the hospital and will do a portrait session of newborn baby H!!! That will be fun!

When I finish at the hospital: It is away for the weekend for me! I am going to a scrapbook retreat with one of my best buddies, Stephanie! I have a big bag of Peanut Butter M&M's, and unlimited access to the Coke machine at the retreat center! If I accomplish what I'm planning to accomplish, I will come home with my 2008 Family album complete!

Tomorrow night: My retreat ends at 6. I will arrive home in time for the NASCAR All-Star race, which starts at 7. I might even bring home some frozen custard to enjoy while I watch my race! Go Jimmie Johnson!

Sunday is church, followed by a relaxing afternoon with my hubs and kiddos. Sunday night we have community group with some of the coolest people in town!

Ah yes, it's going to be a great weekend! TTFN!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Could Have Died...

Snapper. Age 6 1/2. So sweet, and cute, and friendly, and...precocious??? I think that describes her pretty well. She still has not learned that it is wise to keep her thoughts about other people to herself. My blogger buddy Jo-Lynne told of a funny thing her daughter said this week, and it brought to mind an incident we had with Snapper a few weeks ago. I am blogging this strictly so I can use it to embarrass Snapper (the best kind of embarrassment) when she's older. I hope one day she'll be at least a little ashamed if herself. Hee hee!

We went to a favorite pizza place a few weeks back. Whenever we eat there, Snapper enjoys eathing a bowl full of croutons, dunked in ranch dressing. This time she went to the salad bar by herself to get her treat. I saw her conversing with an elderly lady, and didn't think anything of it.

A while later, that same elderly lady--she must have been in her mid-late 80's--came over to our table. Here's how the conversation went.

Lady: Before I tell you what happened, I need you to promise me not to punish your daughter for what she said.

Me: (thinking) This. Is. NOT. Good!

Lady: You may be disturbed by it, but don't worry about it. Bless her heart, she's too funny.

Me: (sinking lower in my chair) What did she do? I'm already embarrassed...

Lady: Well, your little girl was in front of me in the salad bar line, and I noticed she had a bowl of croutons, and I commented to her that she must really like croutons. She said she did. Then I told her that it's funny she likes croutons, because I can't stand croutons. She looked at me with enormous eyes, put her hand on her hip and said, "Oh yeah? Well that's because you're just an OLD WOMAN!"

I'm sure her voice was full of sass, and I can just envision the all-too-familiar flip of the head...

Me: (thinking in desperation) Just shoot me now!

Lady: I'm sure you're mortified. But please don't punish her. Don't even say anything about it to her. She's adorable and I don't want her to feel bad. And she furnished me with the biggest laugh I've had in a long time.

Then she patted my arm and walked away, laughing all the while.

I wanted to cry. I didn't see anything adorable or funny about my smart-mouth 1st grader flapping her sass at a sweet, old lady. I was even more discouraged when I remembered that just a few weeks before, we'd had a firm discussion on respecting our elders.

I kept my promise to the lady and didn't say a word to Snapper about the incident. That, however, did not stop her daddy from talking to her about it! He was right there and heard the whole thing. And he never promised anything! LOL! Did the message sink in? I hope so...but I strongly doubt it. It's a little funny now. But only a little funny. At the moment, I could have died!

Works for Me!

I grew up on a dairy goat farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. It was a wonderful childhood, and I could go on for hours about how amazing goats really are. Because guess what? Goats are amazing animals! They are useful, easy to care for, friendly, and full of personality. My sister and I could tell our goats apart from the sound of their cries. And we had lots of goats, so that's really quite impressive. But I digress. This blog entry is not about goats.

Because of the goats, I grew up participating in 4-H. If you don't know, the 4-H uniform consists of white pants, a white shirt, the 4-H tie or scarf, the 4-H hat, and matching belt and shoes. When in the show ring, a showman makes a statement with the condition of his clothing, particularly in the dairy field, which is very focused on cleanliness. If you were a judge, which showman would you be more drawn to? The girl in dingy, stained whites, or the girl in sparkling, fresh whites? Which presents a more professional, put-together look? Obviously it's the girl with the sparkling bright whites.

Keeping white pants and shirts sparkling and bright is extremely difficult when you are showing livestock and camping at the fairgrounds. Often, we would show for two or three days in a row. My mom was none too fond of the idea of buying fresh whites several times each year. And livestock stains can be pretty tough to remove, even if you use a lot of bleach. brilliant mother learned a trick that can make dingy whites a whole lot brighter.

Add 1/2 cup of Cascade powdered dishwashing detergent to your load of whites. Still use laundry soap, and make sure to pre-treat stains. But the Cascade is a fantastic revival trick that I use to this day, even though my goat show days are just a memory. I no longer have show whites to keep clean. I do have my daughter's school uniform shirts, my husband's undershirts and socks, and my son's...well, everything of my son's that has white in it. So break out the Cascade! Make sure you use the powder! And also, wash your white loads in hot water. Happy laundrying! And three cheers for bright whites!

Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family is a fantastic source of information. I've gotten so many great ideas from the wonderful posts that other bloggers link in! Check it out and learn something new today!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What I've Learned

Okay, gonna lay myself open a bit on this post. Please tread lightly.

September will mark 2 years since my last miscarriage--and two years since I was pregnant. In those 2 years, my desire for another baby has steadily grown. While Matt doesn't share the strength of that desire, he also would be delighted with another baby. But it just hasn't happened. Each month I've waited and hoped that perhaps THIS will be the month...and each month I've been disappointed. And then everywhere I look, my friends are getting pregnant. I currently have 18 pregnant friends. I'm super happy for them, and being around them isn't a crushing blow or anything. I just have a little sore spot in my heart that aches a bit with each new announcement. I am trusting God for His timing, because history proves to me that He knows what He is doing, especially in the baby department. Someday I'll share this story. But anyways, about a month ago I had a great "conversation" with my blogger friend Michelle about my growing fears that we may be dealing with infertility. She shared with me a great website: She told me it would help me understand my body, and know fertility signs and timing. I also figured it would help me know if/when I should start seeking medical intervention. I've read lots of books on the topic, and thought I already did understand. But I visited the website anyway, just in case I was missing something. I have learned A LOT that wasn't even on my radar before. Here's how it works.

1. Visit the site and sign up for a free account.
2. Register for the free online learning fertility course.
3. Each day a short lesson will be sent to your email inbox. Read the lesson and take the short quiz. Each lesson gives detailed information about how hormones run your cycle, primary fertility signs, secondary fertility signs, how to read those signs in your body, how to chart the signs, and reading fertility charts. It was super helpful! On average, each lesson and quiz took me 5-7 minutes.
4. Every morning as soon as you are conscious in your bed, grab your thermometer off your nightstand and take your temperature. Enter it in your online chart at
5. Follow the instructions on checking other fertility signs.
6. Enjoy your new awareness of your body as you watch your chart progress. The chart analyzes the data for you. It tells you when you are potentially the most fertile, marks your ovulation date, and predicts your next period. I know my doctor will be thrilled to add this chart to my records, especially if I use it for multiple months. It paints a very clear picture of what a normal cycle is for me. This will raise my awareness of normal, so I can tell if anything abnormal should arise. There's value in charting, even if you aren't trying to become pregnant! I wonder if charting would have helped my mom detect her disease earlier. She died of ovarian cancer. It was not detected until late Stage 3.

What I learned this week is likely the reason it has been two years since I've been pregnant: I was reading my fertility signs entirely wrong! My body operates at a delayed rate from the average woman's body. I now know for next month what to be watching for, and how to time it all. I'm very curious to see if this makes a difference! Only time will tell...

Thanks Michelle!

For more "What I've Learned" visit Musings of a Houseiwfe!

Also, my friend Sarah Mae is having a blogaversary party with TONS of incredible giveaways! Check it out! Apart from the giveaways, it is a wonderful, inspiring blog that every woman should know about.
Like a Warm Cup of Coffee

Monday, May 11, 2009

Appreciating Two

I am frequently asked how old Pepper is. He is quite tall for his age, so people are surprised when I tell them he's almost 3. And then when they hear, they'll groan and make some remark about the terrible twos. I have some thoughts on terrible twos.
My sweet Pepper boy lives up to the nickname (Pepper) that his Grammy and Poppa gave him. He is a feisty, little pepper man. His twos have been significantly more terrible than Snapper's twos were. But...

I love age two!

Pepper is into everything, yes. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.
Pepper (the spice...dumped all over the kitchen)
Makeup foundation
Dental floss
Candle wax
Chapstick (I think he has eaten every chapstick owned by every female in this house)
Poopy diapers (Ewww!) guessed it: Sharpies!

Am I angry or frustrated by this propensity for mischief? Not really. I don't like that he ignores me and continues to attract Sharpies like a magnet. I don't like the time I've wasted removing Sharpie art from clothing, furniture, walls, carpet, and skin. Candle wax and Vaseline are pretty rough, too. But, I choose to take a different perspective on the whole thing. Pepper is a little boy who is curious about how everything feels, how it works, and what sort of impact a substance will make on its environment. He is creative, innovative, and determined. He is not trying to be naughty. He is just a little guy who is soaking up the world in a more sensory manner than did his older sister.

Don't get me wrong--our house is not without boundaries. When Pepper makes a mess, he is required to help me clean it up. When he gets into something he should not get into, he is disciplined appropriately. We have fairly firm standards, which I know are very healthy for the kids. At the same time, I really try not to overreact to mischief that comes from a 2-year-old. When I do react badly, I have observed that Pepper seems to enjoy the reaction. Oops! Don't want to feed that monster! I simply try to take it in stride, with my camera stashed behind my back where he can't see it!

Another aspect of two that gets me at times is the whole screaming and tantrum act. For a few months Pepper spent much of his day in fit mode, and used screaming as his primary form of communication. This is not a welcome behavior in our home! The various forms of discipline I tried accomplished nothing. And then we discovered the magic of the timeout. While timeouts did nothing for Snapper (who used timeouts as a chance to escape into a little, happy, dream world), they are very useful for Pepper. It's like the timeout spot gives him what he needs to gain control of himself, and to practice using his words to communicate. He still screams occassionally, but we've made great progress. I look at screaming and tantrums as the natural, immature attempt of a little person to deal with emotions that are too big for his body. He's not usually trying to be a pill. It is my job as Mommy to help him learn how to appropriately express himself.

Overall, though not without some major challenges, Age Two is wonderful. I love the budding independence, the new sense of humor, the rapidly improving ability to communicate, the increasing understanding of the world, the intense curiousity, the funny things they say, and the plain ol' cuteness that are all part of being two.

If there's one new thing I've learned through Pepper's time in the twos, it is not to label the twos as terrible. While I wouldn't necessarily call it the terrific twos, labeling age two as terrible can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I encourage you other moms of toddlers to deal with the challenges as they come, remembering that this too shall pass. And then enjoy the unique and exciting growth that is part of this wonderful age. Don't forget how fleeting time is. You blink and it's gone.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I woke up this morning to the gentle stroking of little hands on my arm. As I fought to gain consciousness, I became aware of the tantalizing scent of bacon. I scrubbed sleep away from my eyes, and was greeted by Snapper's sparkling eyes and giant smile. Her front teeth are super loose, so the smile is kind of funky right now. Click! Saved that one to my forever memory! My little sweetie got up early with Daddy to prepare strawberry muffins, scrambled eggs, and bacon, along with Constant Comment tea (my favorite) for Mother's Day breakfast. This breakfast was served to me in bed. The kids also gave me flowers and a sweet card. I'll swallow my pride and post the picture here, even though I'm in all my early-morning glory. Pepper is absent from the picture because he could not be coaxed out of bed. We couldn't even wake him up! Apparently he was really tired. Anyway, I greatly appreciated Snapper's thought, and her obvious delight in serving me. The sweetness is what I cherish most on Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is kind of complicated for me. It's complicated in a good way. Mostly good, anyway. It is complicated because not only do I celebrate being a mom, I celebrate my 4 mothers. That's right, 4 mothers.

My first mother is my birthmom, Sherry. At the tender age of 22, she found herself pregnant, and very much unable to care for a baby. She endured the months of pregnancy with the knowledge that she would not mother her baby. When I was born, she spent several hours holding and cuddling me, against the advice of her doctors. Then she said a very painful goodbye to me, not knowing if she'd ever see me again. My Mama Sherry is my hero. She gave me life and walked the hardest road a mother can walk. When I was 20, we were reunited, and have shared a very close friendship ever since. She is Nana to Snapper and Pepper, and is one of my best friends.

Mama Sherry with my Mommy at my baby shower, August 2002

My second mother is my Mommy, Lotte. After walking through infertility, she said goodbye to her dream of becoming a mother. Then God saw fit to give me to her through adoption. My sister Jenny followed in the same manner 3 1/2 years later. Mommy is the mother who raised me. She nurtured me, taught me, introduced me to Jesus, disciplined me, loved me unconditionally, cherished me, and made me into the woman I am today. My sweet Mommy lost her battle with ovarian cancer 6 years ago this week. Not a day has passed that I haven't thought of her and missed her. She was Grammy to Snapper for 8 months, and will always be Grammy in our memories.

Mommy with my sis and me, 1986

My third mother came to me through my husband. She is my mother-in-law, Lia. I call her Mom because she is like a mom to me. Because she and my Mommy were friends since they were in 7th grade, Lia has known me since I was born. During childhood our families were so close that I called her Auntie. It was very easy to make the transition to mother-in-law when Matt and I got married 8 years ago. Today she is MIL: Mother-In-Love. I love her dearly. MIL is Grandma to my kiddos.

MIL with Snapper and Pepper, July 2008

My fourth mother is the newest addition to my pack of moms. She is my step-mom, Nancy. Nancy and my dad got married 18 months after my mom passed away. And let me tell you, my dad and Nancy are a match made in heaven. In the past 5 years that Nancy has been in my life, I have come to love her like a mother. I can talk about anything with her, and know that I have her love, encouragement, and support. She is Gramma Salty to the kids, and is a fantastic Gramma. I need to figure out a better title for Nancy. Step-mom sounds so sterile, and anyway, she's way more than that to me.

My family on Dad and Nancy's wedding day, 2004

So can you see why Mother's Day is so complicated? I can't even begin to describe the range of emotions I have experienced today. First, there's the rush of thankfulness that I am so blessed to have had 4 women in the mother role in my life. Then comes the wave of pain and grief when I mourn my mom. My sorest regret in life is that Snapper and Pepper will not know my mom. There's no more to say. I just miss my Mommy. Then comes the amazement at the incredible woman who does know my children, and pours herself into them. Nancy, I love you. Finally comes wonder--the wonder of being a mom. Snapper and Pepper are such gifts, and I am blessed to be their mother. I am also Mommy to 4 little ones in Heaven. So my mom does know grandchildren! Sigh.

As today is Mother's Day, I'm posting several pictures. These pictures are in memory of my Mommy, the single most important woman in my life.

I want to close this blog with a big huge thank you to Mama Sherry, Mommy Lotte, MIL Lia, and Nancy (who needs a better title). I love all four of you and am thankful for the ways each of you have invested in my life.

Riding together in our neighborhood, 1980

Creek walking with Mommy, one of my favorite childhood pasttimes, 1982

Mother's Day 1985

My parents presenting an award to Matt at a homeschool awards ceremony. Little did they know he was their future son-in-law!

Chatting with Mommy at Loch Lomond in Scotland, 1998

Arriving at the church on my wedding day, 2001

Anticipating the imminent arrival of her first grandchild, 2002. This is my favorite picture ever taken of Mommy and me.

This is how she showed up at the hospital when I was in labor! Ha ha! Ever the sense of humor.

In the brief months she had with Snapper, she took her Grammy role very seriously.

My favorite picture of Grammy and Snapper, 2003

Three generation. This picture is so precious.