Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Prayers

Little in my life is as thrilling as watching my kiddos grasp new things about the amazing God of the universe, and when they understand how much He loves them. More and more, Snapper is "getting it." I love her enthusiasm for learning about God, and for hiding His Word in her heart. I love listening to her prayers, too. She is so frank and open in her conversations with God. I need to listen carefully to her and take lessons.

Every morning when we get within about a half mile of her school, we pray together, along with our 1st grade buddy S who we carpool with. Today's prayer was a classic, and I must write it down before I forget.

"Dear Lord, I mean, Dear God, thank you for this beautiful fall day you have made for us! It is such a perfect morning! God, please take this day and bless it to the nourishment of my body. And God? Please give me wisdom today. Give everyone at school wisdom today, especially the bullies. They need to be wise so they know better than to hurt people's feelings or bodies. Yup God, please give those bullies extra wisdom. Oh, and God? Please bless this day to the nourisment of S's body too, because he really needs it. Please help me be a good friend today, even when it is hard, because there are some kids at school who are hard to love. Please speak to me today Jesus, because I want to hear from you. I'll even give you a chance to speak to me right now. (10 seconds of silence, her eyes squeezed tightly shut) That's okay, Jesus. I know that wasn't really enough time for you to say anything, and I'm kind of rushed right now. But anyway God, don't forget to give me wisdom today. And thank you again for this gorgeous day! I love you, God. In the precious name of my Lord Jesus Christ I pray, Amen."

Then she was off, skipping to her class with bright confidence and optimism in her eyes. She has learned that God will give her the ability to make wise choices when she asks Him for help. And she trusts Him implicitly.

Oh God, I thank you for the glorious fall weather. Take this day and bless it to the nourishment of my soul. May I learn yet again to trust you in total confidence. Thank you for the precious daughter you have given me. Help me to be wise and to watch for you every day. I love you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sick Carnival Ride

Do you ever go through periods of your life where nothing seems to go right? Where the world just kind of seems topsy-turvy?
Thus describes this mommy.

First it was the teeth incident a few weeks back. Yup, I gave myself a very expensive birthday present of 5 fillings in my front teeth. Going back for more in 2 weeks.

Then it was the temporary death of the garbage disposal, in which rested of rotten Chinese food. Matt's hands don't fit down the disposal. Mine do.

Next came a bad flare-up of my lower back pain, which has been off-and-on trouble for the last 5 years, due to multiple car accidents from 2000-2006. (None my fault!) Did you know that most insurance plans consider a chiropractor to be a specialist? This means paying the specialist co-pay every time I go, which has been 8 times in the last month.

Snapper's eyes were an extra shock to the system. A rather expensive shock. But mainly a sobering shock, due to the serious nature of the condition. Praise God, though, her glasses have helped tremendously!
Those glasses are a lull in the storm.

Then I got slammed with a cold. But not really a cold. Something settled in my voicebox, and I had no voice for a few days. Lots of coughing at night, and pure vocal misery by day. Never a fever, which was good, but coughing and not being able to speak are very draining. And being a mom is very difficult when you have no voice! I still cough at night, and I can't raise my voice at all, but at least I can talk!

Mix in some tension in some relationships in our home and with some of Matt's family members. Don't worry though, Matt and I are stronger than ever in our marriage.

Last night I dreamed all night. Not happy dreams of unicorns and rainbows and flowers, though. Not happy dreams of ice cream and pizza an funnel cakes, either. Nope, just a repeating nightmare, over and over, all night long. I've never been so glad to see the morning come. I attended my mom's deathbed 4 times last night. Was trapped in a room full of pictures of her 4 times last night. Spoke at her funeral 4 times last night. Realized I had printed my wrong eulogy notes 4 times last night. And broke down in front of all the mourners at the funeral 4 times, too. When the alarm finally buzzed at 6, my pillow was soaked with tears, and I have been dragging all day. Yet I'm avoiding going to sleep again.

Today we discovered that Matt's car needs a new starter, and my car may be needing a new alternator soon.

And first thing tomorrow morning, I'm taking our cats to the vet to have them spayed. And injected. And licensed. And microchipped. None of thse are optional at this point. Bye bye, $250! And it's only that cheap because FUR (Feline Urban Rescue) is sponsoring our kitties to help us with the cost.

My world is out of whack, big time. I feel like I'm spinning out of control on a money-eating, energy-devouring, sanity-testing carousel.
Can anyone relate?
Please let me off now...

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Little Catching Up

Have I mentioned recently that I love my kids? They are so cute and so wonderful. A lot has been happening in their little lives recently. This post will be mainly for me, so I don't forget.

Snapper is not the world's most graceful or coordinated child. I think her large head and ginormous feet prevent her from excelling in dance and most sports. Seriously, she's a capital L standing there, with a melon for a head! Hee hee! I have often wondered what activities she would enjoy and have a chance to be good at. This summer we found the answer. When we enrolled Snapper in our community pool's swim team, we realized for the first time that swimming comes naturally to her. She's a fish...clumsy on land but brilliant in the water. FINALLY we found something that she absolutely loves and has natural ability for. Last week we took the plunge and Snapper tried out for the year-round, competitive swim team in our town. She made the team, and started swimming with the beginning level group on Tuesday! I'm excited to watch her grow in her ability, and gain some discipline and endurance.

On the way to swim team practice yesterday, I got a call from the opthamologist informing me that Snapper's glasses were in! The doctor put a rush on them, and we got them only one day after ordering them! After swimming, we went down to pick up the glasses. I caught myself holding my breath as Snapper put on the glasses for the first time. Her eyes about popped out of her head, and she started giggling. She just sat there and giggled for a good 3 minutes, until the tears were rolling down her cheeks! Once she gained control of herself, she said, "I NEVER want to take these glasses off EVER! I will wear them forever!" On the way home from school today, she told me how she never knew how beautiful the clouds were. She has never noticed that trees had individual leaves! And she was able to read the board at school, and see the pictures in the book her teacher read, all while sitting at her desk! This is one thankful mommy!

Pepper has become completely obssessed with Spiderman. Oops, pardon me, it's "Piderman." It definitely would not have been my first choice to show Spiderman to my 3-year-old, but Matt watched it with him when I was in California in August. And now Pepper lives and breathes Spiderman. Last week I caught him spraying Shout all over the kitchen with a fierce look on his face. When I asked him what he was doing he replied, "I'm throwing my webs!" They are very clean webs.

Today I went up to the office to take Matt to lunch. When I pulled into the parking lot, I called him to let him know we had arrived. When I hung up, Pepper said, "Who was that, Mommy?" I said, "It was your Daddy." He said, "No it wasn't my Daddy! It was your sweetheart!"


My birthmom visited us from Arizona last week. We had a wonderful week together. Her Christmas gift to her family is going to be family pictures of all of us together. We had planned on doing a photo shoot at one of the parks in town, but it rained all week. We ended up going down to church and using the portable puppet stage as a backdrop. Nice black curtains! I made a collage of all the favorite pictures for Nana to take home with her, and I also printed 8x10's of the family photo for the Christmas gifts. I have found Walmart to be the best quality photo lab around, and the prices are great. I uploaded the pics to Walmart's website and placed my order. A few hours later, I got a call from the general manager. He was refusing to print the pictures because they were professional studio portraits! Ha ha ha! I was so tickled! Seriously, it made my day! I explained that I was the photographer. He asked me for proof. I told him I could bring down the memory card with the whole session on it. When I arrived at the store, he met me there, and made me look him in the eye and tell him I was really the photographer. Then I had to sign a copyright release! So without further ado, here are my "professional studio portraits!" Ha ha ha!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ocular Amblyopia

I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. It is too important not to share with you. So all you moms out there, listen up!

Right about the time school started, Snapper began complaining that she couldn't get her eyes to focus. We noticed that she was squinting much of the time, and was rubbing her eyes a lot. Her teacher conferenced with us about her concerns. Apparently Snapper has to stand right underneath the whiteboard to read it and copy assignments off of it. I wondered if she might not be just wanting glasses. I set up a vision test with our pediatrician, and observed Snapper until the exam date. The poor vision was confirmed for me last week when I bought her a new shirt. It had rows of small flowers on it. Even though Snapper stood only 3 feet away from the shirt, she insisted the flowers were polka dots. At the pediatrician's office, she couldn't even read the top row on the vision chart.
We had our appointment with the opthamologist yesterday, and Snapper was diagnosed with ocular amblyopia. In this condition, one eye develops unable to focus, and the other eye becomes dominant. The affected eye becomes "lazy." and its ability to see deteriorates. If left undiagnosed until a child is 8 or 9, the damage can be uncorrectable.

Since Snapper was a baby, her brain has learned to ignore the fuzzy images from the right eye, so the eye has stopped working. She has almost no vision in the right eye. Unfortunately, she has inherited my poor vision in her left eye as well. The doctor held lenses to my eyes that showed me how Snapper views the world. Her right eye sees as well as I can see underwater. The left eye is very blurry. It is so sad! I don't know how she has functioned like this for so long!

There is good news.

1. The eye itself and the optic nerve are completely normal and healthy.
2. Both eyes have peripheral vision, depth perception, and can distinguish 3-D images.

The treatment plan is going to be hefty, though. Snapper will start with wearing very strong glasses. She'll get 6 weeks to adjust to the glasses. Then she'll have to start wearing a patch over her left eye in order to make the right eye work. She will have check-ups every 6 weeks to monitor her progress. If there is not significant improvement in a year, she will undergo surgery to correct the right eye.

The doctor is optimistic that we will not need surgery. We are going to have to be vigilant with the patch and glasses, though. Here's the other good news. As you know, Snapper has always been dramatic and has been very fearful. The doctor thinks the fearfulness is a direct result of her poor eyesight. We are hoping that having improved vision will diminish Snapper's fear! Wouldn't that be amazing and wonderful! Snapper's glasses should arrive Monday or Tuesday. We are eagerly anticipating the whole new world that will open to her once she can see!!!

Here's the take-home that I really want all mommies to listen to. The doctor told me that all children should get their eyes checked by an opthamologist (not optometrist) before they enter school, even if you don't suspect any vision problems. If even one parent has any vision impairment, the children should be checked at age 3. If I had checked Snapper's eyes earlier, the problem wouldn't be as severe as it is, and we likely could have avoided the intensity of treatments. Please get your kids' eyes checked!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Is Here!!!

Today is the official first day of fall, which means it is the official first day of my favorite part of the year! If I didn't have a lovely fall cold, I would be jumping up and down with excitement. I think last year I posted a list of my favorite things about fall. Because today demands some sort of celebration, I think I'll post a new list of fall favorites, just for fun.

My Top Ten Favorite Things about Fall

10. Fall decor. As I drive around town, I'm starting to see fall decorations popping up in people's yards. Hobby Lobby has a great selection of cute scarecrows right now, too! It is time to pull out my fall wreath for my front door! This year a cheated a bit and started burning my cinnamon candles a few weeks early. Ummmm!

9. Cool mornings. Okay, so we're not there quite yet. But in a few weeks, the weather will turn cool enough so that the air is crisp when I leave to take Snapper to school. Love that!

8. Jeans and hoodies. A good pair of jeans and a fleece hoody is my attire of choice. I love that I can comfortably wear it now!

7. Early kiddo bedtimes. Because we have to be up at 6 to get ready for school, Snapper and Pepper are tucked into bed by 7:15 every night. I am thoroughly enjoying the quiet time with Matt in the evenings after kids are asleep.

6. The end of Daylight Savings Time. Yes, I really do love the dark starting earlier! Somehow it makes everything feel cozier. On the flip side, I am always ready for Daylight Savings to start again in the spring.

5. Outdoor activities. It gets too hot here in the summer to do much outside. Fall provides us great weather for taking walks, riding bikes, and just playing in the yard.

4. Casseroles and soups. I'm a comfort food kind of girl. Since I don't cook soup in the summer, adding it back into my meal plan will be a welcome change.

3. Fall colors. Central Arkansas can have gorgeous fall foliage if the weather is right for it. It has been a wet, cool summer, so we should have some fantastic color this year! I can hardly wait!

2. Fall family traditions. Pumpkin patch, harvest dinner with friends, taking pictures of the kids in the fall leaves, Trunk or Treat at church, Thanksgiving, and getting ready for Christmas are all on my to-do list for the next 3 months! I look forward to these events all year.

1. My number 1 favorite thing about fall is the predictability of our schedule. I am happiest when life runs in a well-ordered routine. My weekly calendar doesn't vary much over the next 10 weeks, and I like it like that!

How about you? What do you most look forward to at this time of year?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Rite of Passage

I decided when I was 5 that I wanted my ears pierced. I wanted my ears pierced SO badly, but my mom said earrings were for older children, and I would have to wait for my 13th birthday. The years dragged for me. Every opportunity I got, I bought stick-on earrings. But those were a pathetic substitute for the real deal. Finally, my 13th birthday arrived. My dad took me to the mall, and I got my ears pierced with little, sapphire studs. And I walked on Cloud 9 for the next month!

Just 3 months later, my sister's best friend got her ears pierced. Naturally, my sister wanted to get her ears pierced, too. To my shock, horror, and utter frustration, my parents gave in. Jenny was just a month shy of 10 when she got her ears pierced. That Was NOT Fair! At that moment, I decided that if I ever had a daughter, I would let her get her ears pierced whenever she wanted.

About a month ago, Snapper began talking about wanting to get her ears pierced. I explained to her that it only hurts a little bit, and that the sting goes away quickly. So for the lat month she has hemmed and hawed, trying to gather the courage to face the pinch. On Sunday, she came dancing out of Sunday School, bubbling over with enthusiasm. The class had discussed Joshua 1:9, and had each given a fear to God. Snapper announced that she was ready to get her ears pierced because God had taken away her fear! We decided to go after lunch.

At the restaurant, Snapper and I had a talk. I explained to her that piercing studs are expensive, and that once they are out of the packaging, we have to pay for them. Once the package was open, there was no backing out. No changing her mind. Not for anything. Open the package and we are 100% committed, and no amount of screaming would change that commitment. She thought for a moment, and then agreed. We shook on it.

When we arrived at Merle Norman, Snapper bounced into the store and announced that she was not afraid to get her ears pierced! The lady helped her pick out some very pretty earrings--silver wire flowers with a sapphire rhinestone center. Snapper washed her hands and climbed into the chair. The lady cleaned Snapper's ears, drew on dots where the earrings would go, and then OPENED THE PACKAGE. And just like that, Snapper's eyes turned red, horns popped out on her head, her nails turned to claws, and her teeth turned to fangs.

She totally flipped out.

After several reminders of our agreement, Snapper was still not relenting. Matt and I took her outside to let her cool down. She paced the sidewalk, muttering under her breath and crying. Over the course of the next 45 minutes, we talked with Snapper about unreasonable fear, about temper, about choices, about God, etc. We also reminder her that we had made an agreement, and that we were not leaving until she went through with getting her ears pierced.

Finally, Snapper took a few big breaths. She clenched her fists and marched to the door of the store. She pressed her forehead against the door and sobbed oh so dramatically for about 10 seconds. Then she straightened up, and with sheer determination on her face, flung open the door and marched to the piercing chair. It ended up being another 10 minutes before she was ready. The lady washed the ears again. When she was drawing the first dot, she slid the piercing gun in and pierced the first ear. It took about 3 seconds for Snapper to realize what had happened. She grabbed her ear, looked in the mirror, and erupted into...well, I'm still not sure what it was. All I know is that it involved hysterical tears, a flow of snot, giddy, loud laughter, and a wide-open mouth. She shook all over doing this laugh/cry/giggle/snort thing for about 2 minutes. I told her to quit crying, that she was totally fine, and she blubbers out, "I'm not crying, Mom! I'm laughing so hard I'm crying tears of happiness!"

There was no protest over the second ear, merely a scrunched up face, tightly closed eyes, and clenched fists. Then it was done. And out of Snapper poured a stream of profuse apologies--to me, to Matt, to the sweet lady who patiently endured the tirade.

"Guess what Mom? You were right! I was all worked up over nothing! It didn't hurt at all! Not one little bit! And look at my earrings! They are SO pretty! Everyone is going to want to just sit and stare at me because I am just so beautiful with these earrings! But you were sure right, Mom!"

Go figure! Mom was right? Wow...what a concept!

So we have passed through another rite of passage. Snapper has pierced ears. And the performance she gave? Well, I wouldn't be surprised to hear her name when Oscar nominations are announced.
(Click the picture to enlarge the scrapbook page I made of the piercing day)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can It Be Possible?

My firstborn turned 7 last week. Can it really have been 7 years? I've said it before and I'll say it again: you blink and it is gone.

We kept our two birthday traditions: Mantle decorated with signs, balloons, stuffed animals and gifts, and birthday portraits.

Matt went to school and had lunch with Snapper, which instantly made her the most popular kid in the class! Matt is a kid magnet. In the evening we went shopping and Snapper spent some birthday money at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Her new companion is a cute bunny named Sweety Bunny. Probably the best part of Snapper's birthday, though, was Nana (my birthmom) flying in from Phoenix. Snapper and Pepper did not know Nana was coming until she walked out through security at the airport. I did not take my camera. Matt did bring the video camera, though.
It has just kind of happened that we only do a birthday party for the kids every other year. This was a party year for Snapper. Over a month ago we went out to breakfast together and planned out a cooking themed birthday party. Because of the level of adult supervision for this theme, we only invited a few friends. The kids arrived and decorated aprons. Then they got to choose what name to put on the chef hats I had made for them. I let each child choose whatever name they wanted, even if it was silly. And oh did they love that!
I put all sorts of pizza toppings on the table, and let each child decorate their own English muffin pizza. While the pizzas were baking, they went through a salad bar in the kitchen. Both the salad and the pizza were a smash hit!
After lunch, we played food-themed games.
The party concluded with ice cream sundaes and ice cream cone cupcakes.

I'll post chef hat and cupcake directions another time. Everyone agreed that it was a really fun party. Definitely unique, and a lot less expensive that going to a party boutique or bowling or Chuck E. Cheese's or any of the other number of birthday parties people do here.

So Happy Birthday to my sweet Snapper! I love you, Princess, and I am excited to see what God has in store for you during this wonderful age of 7.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vroom Vroom!

So my 30th birthday was mostly not great on the day itself. But as a total event, it has to be the best birthday EVER! Why? Because way back in February, this redneck, NASCAR junkie bought herself a pair of tickets to the Labor Day NASCAR race in Atlanta. Seven months of anticipation reached a glittering, star-struck peak one week ago.

On Friday we picked up Snapper at school at lunch and drove to stay with out friends Brian and Carol in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They moved there in January, and we haven't had any time with them since then. It was so great to see them! Snapper was elated to see S and V. Baby A has grown like a weed. We ate good food, played at 2 different parks, and spent quality time catching up.

Then came Sunday. How do I begin to describe Sunday? While we sat in traffic, I very carefully painted a big 48 on my cheek.

For those of you who don't already know, I am a fan of Jimmie Johnson, who drives the 48 Lowes car. Matt says I put the fan in fanatic...I wouldn't say I'm quite that bad, but I do love my Jimmie Johnson. I showed some restraint at the race. Even though I did my nails blue with a gold 48 on each thumb, even though I put blue, yellow, and white ribbons in my hair, even though I wore my Jimmie shirt and painted my face, I left the Jimmie Johnson lounge pants in my suitcase and wore jeans instead. Ha ha! When the race track came into sight after 3 hours in traffic, I was more than ready for the race!

We walked around checking out the driver merchandise trailers and the Sprint Fan Zone. I even won a cool hat, which I later saw for sale at the whopping price of $20!

As soon as we were able, we headed into the speedway and found our seats. Because I paid top dollar for the best seats I could get, we ended up sitting up high with a perfect view of the whole track. It also seemed that the expensive seats filter out a lot of the fans who use the race as an excuse to get drunk. We saw very little of that, and were surrounded by nice people.

I soaked up every minute of the pre-race festivities, watching the pit road action through my zoom lens on my camera.

Driver introductions were awesome, and I got a good close-up view of Jimmie! Dr. Dobson gave the invocation, and a country group sang the national anthem. I got all goosebumpy when the Air Force jets did their fly-over.

Then came the famous command: Gentlemen, start your engines! The cars roared to life. They circled the track following the pace car for a few laps, and then the green flag waved and my ear drums flapped all over the place in my head as all 43 cars hit the throttle at once and came screaming by. I swear, every hair on my body stood on end! The stands vibrated so hard that I almost lost my balance just standing there! That moment ranks in the top 5 most exhillerating moments of my life!

The rest of the race was fantastic. We rented scanners and headsets, and got to listen to the communications between the drivers and their crew chiefs. Much to Matt's disappointment, there were no big wrecks. To my almost devastation, Jimmie Johnson broke an axel and spent several laps in the garage getting it fixed. However, it was still a good race with a great finish. Kasey Kahne won. I can live with that, because he is a good driver and a great guy.

Did I enjoy every minute? Absolutely! Was it worth the $270 I spent on 2 tickets? Heck yes it was! Will I go again? Just as soon as I can save up enough money to buy more tickets!

Yesterday I watched this week's race on tv. No matter how loud I turned up my surround sound, I could not feel the vibration of those incredible cars. Nor could I soak up the intense energy and excitement of the other fans. I still love watching the race on tv, but I can hardly wait to go to the next race. Happy birthday to me! It was the best birthday present ever!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hippo Birdie 2 Emily!

Well, it has happened. I have had my 30th birthday. Everyone keeps telling me that the 30's are the best of all. I sure hope they're right!

Today has not been a very exciting birthday. I woke up feeling exhausted, and both kids were grumpy and tearful. Matt couldn't take lunchtime off. Pepper was feisty all day. Snapper chose today to be firmly set against being obedient or cooperative. Even our nice dinner out was almost disastrous, as Snapper ignored my buffet choices instructions and then loudly complained about the food, and Pepper scarfed down his Jell-O and fruit punch before eating anything healthy. He had to be promptly removed from the restaurant because all the red junk food in his belly threatened to reappear. I cried 3 times today for stupid reasons, which totally frustrated (and concerned) me. Then I remembered that I have not taken my regular meds in 5 days because I keep forgetting to refill my prescription. That, more than anything else I'm sure, put the biggest damper on my day. Guess what will be the first thing I do when the pharmacy opens in the morning! I have the bottle sitting on top of my cell phone so I won't forget.

All the junk aside though, there were some really special moments to my day. Once my brain chemicals re-balance, I'm sure I'll feel much more positive. Until then, I will list the special moments of my 30th birthday, and let that be my focus as I go to bed. Yes, 30 must be old because I'm going to bed before 9...

1. Waffles for breakfast on the red You Are Special Today plate.
2. A Happy Birthday serenade from my sweet friends Steve and Stephanie when I picked up their son to take him to school (my morning to drive the carpool).
3. Spending money for my Atlanta weekend from my sweet mother-in-law, and 100 roses from my daddy and step-mom!
4. A stop at my BFF Karon's house, where she had made me some nut-free banana bread, complete with a birthday candle! She sang happy birthday to me and we enjoyed banana bread together. I'm of the opinion that a good friend is the best gift of all. Oh, and she also gave me a die-cast Jimmie Johnson car!!! You rock, Karon, and I love you dearly!
5. A nice, satisfying visit to the chiropractor.
6. Lunch with one of my very favorite Awana kids.
7. Spending money for my Atlanta weekend from Steve and a really awesome racecar birthday card that makes revving engine noises when I open it! Perfect? Yes!
8. 70 wonderful birthday notes posted to my Facebook wall from all my wonderful friends. It was so much fun reading all that love!
9. Several text messages, emails, and phone calls from my family members.
10. A wonderful, perfect birthday card from my very best friend/husband/soulmate/lover/etc. Matt.

Now my bed awaits me with freshly bleached sheets! Don't you love freshly bleached sheets? I sure do! I also love the cinnamon candles I bought at Hobby Lobby day before yesterday! Tomorrow we're off to Tennessee to spend a day with our BFFs Brian and Carol, and their 3 sweetie pie girls. (In case you're wondering how many BFFs I have, there are 3: Noel in California, Karon in Arkansas, and Carol in Tennessee). Snapper and Pepper will stay with Brian and Carol while Matt and I go to Atlanta for the race. If you are a race fan, watch for me on Sunday night! We'll be sitting in between the start/finish line and the beginning of turn 1. We're just a few rows back in the 2nd level. Have I mentioned that I'M SO EXCITED?!?!?!?!?!?!? Sunday can't come fast enough for me! Alrighty then, I'm off to bed. Too tired to function anymore tonight. I'll talk to y'all when I get home on Tuesday. This is the 30-year-old mama, signing out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy Birthday-Eve to Me!

Today was my last day of being 20-something. Yup, tomorrow I will enter my 30's. Weird? Yes. I can remember being a little kid and thinking about Old. At what age does a person officially become elderly? To my 6-year-old mind, Old began at age 30. Now that I am almost that magic age, I know better. Old begins when you decide not to be young anymore. That in mind, I decided to have fun on my last day of 29. I had it all planned out--after I picked Pepper up from school, I was going to take him out for a pizza lunch, do some birthday shopping for Snapper, take Pepper's bike to the park and work with him on riding it, and go to the library for book time before Snapper got home from school. It was going to be a wonderful day, full of fun for my little boy and me.

We got to have our pizza lunch together. He ate 4 slices of pizza, making it very worth the investment! Then we headed over to Barnes and Noble so Pepper could buy books to give Sis for her birthday. As I sat at the red light getting ready to turn into the parking lot, I had a sudden, strange sensation in my mouth. And then I felt something hard on my tongue. I reached in and removed what I thought was a piece of my lunch, only to find a chunk of tooth. And then the pain hit. Feeling the back of my teeth with my tongue confirmed that a large piece of the small tooth next to one of my front teeth had indeed chunked out. I am currently between dentists. So I got a couple of recommendations from friends, and made a few calls to find a dentist who would take a right-away emergency case. Matt came and picked up Pepper from me, and I drove 20 minutes to my new dentist's office.

I left the office 3 hours after I arrived. Turns out I had 4 moderate cavities and 1 major cavity in my front teeth. Yes people, in my front teeth. The piece that broke off was not even related to a cavity. So while my smile is sparkling and white once again (those teeth had gotten kinda tired-looking), my pockets and the front of my face are sore. All I can say is thank God for nitrous oxide and motrin! And thank God for grandparents whose hard work and generosity to me over the years paid my bill today.

Okay you moms, I can't stress this enough: Brush your children's teeth every morning and every night. Post a list of their favorite songs by the bathroom sink, and let them pick a song for you to sing to them while you brush their teeth for them. It has to be a substantial song like Jesus Loves Me (3 verses), or Old MacDonald (3 animals). Or recite 5 Little Monkeys for them while you brush. Get some of those handy, pre-strung flossers and floss their teeth, too. Get them started in a good pattern of oral hygiene while they are very young. Their teeth (and your bank account) are worth it.

To set the record straight, I don't neglect my teeth. In fact, I am ridiculously anal about taking good care of them. I think it is disgusting that regardless of brushing 2-3 times a day, flossing every day, and using mouthwash, I have these issues, while my husband, who brushes once a day and never flosses, never has any problems with his teeth. Ugh!

So happy birthday eve to me! I sure hope Matt already bought my birthday present, because my miscellaneous/gift budget is gone until February!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Superhero Celebration Recipe

My children are not perfect, little angels. Nope, they are sinful people, just like the rest of us. So frequently I find myself focusing more on the wrong that they do, rather than looking for growth and good choices. Last week I was convicted of this wrong focus, and I decided to watch for growth, and to celebrate what I saw. My mom was brilliant at the skill of spotting the good in my sister and me. I want to be like her in that area. My mom was also a fantastic maker-of-occassions. Her memory inspired me to create a special occassion for my family this week.

During last school week, I learned that Snapper had made some great strides in the areas of courage and wisdom. Pepper also displayed some growth in obedience and self-control. As I was pondering this, a great idea flashed into my mind--why not have a superhero theme day, and celebrate character growth? After all, it is strength of character that makes a real-life superhero. We included our friends the W's in our special day. Since many of you have wanted to hear more about it, here is what we did.

1. Start a morning with a special activity that requires endurance. We climbed Pinnacle Mountain, a 1,000-foot-high mountain in Central Arkansas. It is a very rigorous trail that has rendered me still completely sore a whole 3 days later! Other options might be taking a hike, completing a challenging obstacle course, or biking a longer route than usual.
2. The hike to the top of Pinnacle took us about an hour and a half. When we reached the top, we ate the picnic lunch we had carried up.

Then we presented each child with a certificate honoring their areas of character growth, and a Bible verse to go with it. We made a big deal about each child, and told them how we had witnessed the growth. At the conclusion of your activity, discuss with your kids how building character is like climbing a mountain; it is challenging and can be difficult at times, but the rewards are great. If you would like the template for the certificates I made, email me at and I will email them to you.

3. After we got down from the mountain, we stopped at a convenience store for cold water and ice cream--cool refreshment and a sweet reward for hard work.

4. Snapper and I made a brief stop at home for showers before heading out to our local paint-your-own-pottery shop. (Matt and Pepper opted for naps at home). On the way there, I told Snapper what we were doing next. We discussed how we are like pots in God's hands, and that He is making us into a spectacular work of art. We are not finished overnight, and the work is often painstaking. In fact, we have to go through hard times for our character to become beautiful. She really seemed to get it when the lady at the pottery shop explained how firing our piece turns the paint a brighter color, and makes it shiny.

You can go the pottery shop route. Other options would be building something with clay at home (Fimo, Sculpey, or salt dough can be baked), making Shrinky-Dinks, or working in the garden. Use the process to talk to your kids about how growing godly character is a challenging, sometimes painful process.

5. End your day with a Superhero Supper. I served Hero Burgers, Tater Tots, and Powerade. I had originally planned on serving Super Smoothies, but I ran out of energy (and grapes).

Hero Burgers

Slice a loaf of French bread lengthwise. Toast middle-up under the broiler until light brown.

Mix together:
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. salt

Spread meat mixture over toasted bread, making sure to cover the edges of the bread to prevent burning.
Broil 4 inches from the element for 10-12 minutes.
Top with grated cheddar cheese and broil until cheese is melted.
Slice into 3-inch-wide pieces and serve.

6. Pray with your kids and thank God for helping them grow to be more like Him. Over dessert, you can discuss other areas of their character that need work, and commit to help them grow in those areas. Don't forget to notice the progress they make, even when it is very slow. Because they know you are watching for growth, your recognition and praise will mean a lot.

Great follow-up for this fun day is to begin reading about real-life superheroes. There are many of them to be found in the Bible. Others--such as Amy Carmichael, Billy Sunday, Hudson Taylor, and Elisabeth Elliott--are delightful to study, too. Your local Christian bookstore can direct you to the biographies of these heroes of the faith.

If you try having a Superhero day, I would love to hear all about it!

What I've Learned

It has been a while since I linked in to the What I've Learned carnival at Musings of A Housewife. I think it is time to get back to it!

What I've Learned This Week

1. I am SO out of shape! Yes, I really learned that. I thought I was in much better shape than I really am. Depressing.

2. Getting back in shape is much easier and more fun when you are working out with a friend. Every morning after I drop Snapper off at school, I meet up with my friend Karon. We walk the hills around her house some days, and the other days we do Pilates. I am already noticing improvement in my stamina and muscle tone! Woot!

3. Learning enough html to build a blog template is very time-consuming. Not dreadfully difficult, but definitely eats the time. Just ask my husband.

4. Keeping a secret for a long time is hard for me! (No wisecracks, family members who might be reading this!) My birthmom is coming out here in 9 days! Her visit is a surprise birthday present for Snapper. We will go to the airport next Thursday after Snapper gets out of school. She won't know who is coming until she sees Nana come walking out through security! Am I excited? Oh yes! How many times have I almost slipped and said something to Snapper about the visit? At least 10 times. I'm amazed the secret is still a secret!

5. This is the most important thing I learned this week. It is worth a little bit of time and effort to put together a character growth celebration for your kids. Since honoring Snapper on Saturday for her growth in Wisdom and Courage, she has stepped up even more in those areas. The same is true for Pepper! More to come on this later. I think I'll post the recipe for a superhero celebration day!