Thursday, December 18, 2008


EDITED 1/3/09: To any Readers out there...... I just wanted you to know that I did not write this letter myself.... if you know who the author is, please let me know! But I DO agree with every last sentence! Enjoy!
Dear Santa:
I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:
I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy. If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with three kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools. I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to 20 cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

P.S. One more can cancel ALL my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa!

(Santa has asked that this gets passed on to all the mommies you know, feel free to copy and paste onto your own blog!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Christmas Favs

My Favorite Christmas Songs

I'm in a Christmas-y Mood Today! Also, I'm playing along with my friend Janel, at DandelionDayz, who is listing her top 10 fav Christmas songs. So here are some of my favorites!

1. O Holy Night (any version. But I especially love it when Jeff Nielsen sings it on Christmas Eve at church! And I love Josh Groban's too)
2. Carol Of the Bells (instrumental and with vocals)
3. Gloria (Michael W. Smith) LOVE this!!!
4. Breath of Heaven (Amy Grant)
5. Strange Way to Save the World (4Him)
6. Mary Did You Know?
7. What Child Is This and Angels We Have Heard on High (Third Day)
8. Wexford Carol (instrumental)
9. Don't Save it All For Christmas Day (Clay Aiken)
10. Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Point of Grace)
11. Most instrumental Celtic Christmas music, especailly when the fireplace is on!

Don't recognize some of them? Then look 'em up on Youtube and have a listen. I think you'll love them too! What are your favs? To see Janel's list, go to She got the idea from Jo-Lynne, at, so check that one out too!

Funny story about "Angels We Have Heard On High." Years ago, when Emma was only 2 1/2, we were at church, and everyone was singing this song. Since it was Christmas Eve, she was in the service with us. Never thinking to explain the words, there she stood on her chair, singing with all her might: GLOOOORRRIAA, "Pulling Jessie's Tail All Day!" We never did figure out who Jessie was, or why she'd be pulling his tail.......... haha :)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It's dark and rainy here today.

It would be a perfect nap day. But I have such a bad headache, I can't fall asleep.

So I went tip toe-ing (is that a word??) into my bedroom to put some things away while John is asleep. Not much light was coming in the windows, so I turned on the lamp to see better.

But it didn't do much good.

There was just enough natural light in the room already so that the light from the lamp didn't really make a difference. I turned the other one on, but it didn't really help either. It aggravated me for a second, and I finished up and walked out.

It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense...... a lamp gives light, and if I turn it on, it should make the room lighter. Had the room been really dark, the lamp would have worked wonders.

I guess God speaks in strange ways sometimes, when I'm least expecting it. Cuz I sure wasn't expecting anything while putting socks away today.

But this is what I started thinking about.....
I had "just enough" light in my room today.... enough to do what I needed, and carry on, whether that lamp was on or not. And in life, sometimes it's easy to go along with what we think is "just enough" God, too.

Just enough of Him doesn't really make any sense. But I guess people trick themselves into thinking that. We get so used to going about our business that we can't see Him in the little things everyday.

The lamp is on, but it just doesn't seem to make a big difference.

Until the sun goes down. And it's dark, and we are desperate for light.

We turn the lamp on, and it illuminates the room.

And in those times, that light is the only thing that allows us to see.

......just thinking.........

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

My random Thanksgiving thoughts........ about thankfulness and abundance.

I'm thankful for my childrens' laughter. There's nothing like hearing my 3 kids laugh so hard that they're almost crying!

I'm thankful for our fireplace. Love, love, love snuggling the fam by the fire with hot cocoa.

I really am in love with my flat iron right now. Do you understand how amazing it is to make a curly head of hair shiny and straight??

I'm thankful for disposable diapers. Obviously.

And for children's Benadryl. That stuff can really knock a kid out. (ooops, did I say that?)

I'm thankful for mascara. And I'm sure my friends and neighbors are thankful that I use it.

I'm thankful for God's love, and forgivness.

I'm thankful that I can go to the grocery store, buy more food than we need, and even have enough to splurge on Starbucks while I browse the aisles. I know that's completely incomprehensible to much of the world.

And I'm thankful that God gives us opportunities to use what He's given us to help others. And I'm not just being sappy cuz it's Thanksgiving. Really, truly..... I know that I don't even comprehend the extent of what I have.

Take for example, what most of us think of as "problems."

Here are some of my recent problems:
I don't have enough cupboard space, or room in my pantry.
The fridge is full of old food.
The laundry is piling up.
I want more closet space.
I can't stand sorting through all the kids clothes each season.
There is no room in the attic to store all the off-season clothing for 5 people.
The toy room is always a mess.
I want to lose ___ pounds.
What in the world am I going to buy everyone for Christmas?

I'm seeing some similarities here.......


So many of our so called problems stem from the fact that we have SO MUCH. We can't keep a clean house because we have so much stuff. Too much laundry to do, because we have so many clothes. It's hard to take off the weight, because we can eat all we want. We have enough financial resources to buy so many gifts that we can't figure out what to buy.

And yet people all over the world live on such meager amounts as $600 a year. If they are fortunate enough to have a home, they most certainly aren't worried about having so much "stuff" that they can't fit it all. They worry about providing just one meal a day to their family, not about the willpower to stop eating so much. They worry about having something to wear, not about finding the time to weed through closets and donate to Goodwill.

My point is this: God has blessed us so much that I think we don't realize much of the time what we really have. I want to have a thankful heart. I am blessed beyond measure.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Souper Saturday

My friend Janel has cool blog, and she has started "Souper Saturdays." She even has a really cool button and logo to go with the name.

But I'm technically challenged, and couldn't figure out how to copy her button and post it on my site. Sigh.

ANYway, I'm playing along, and posting a soup recipe here.

You will LOVE IT. Go make it. Now!

And take a look at Janel's blog........ over here.....

Have a Souper Saturday!

Maryland Crab-Sweet Corn Chowder
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oil
1 14oz can chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 cup peeled and finely chopped potato
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper, any color
6 oz fresh or frozen cooked crabmeat
fresh parsley (optional)
red sweet bell popper strips (optional)

In a saucepan, cook half of the corn, the onion and garlic in hot cooking oil till onion is tender but not brown. Carefully add chicken broth. Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 min.
Stir in whipping cream, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 10 min. remove from heat and cool slightly.
Pour the cooled mixture into a blender container. Cover and blend till smooth. Return to same saucepan, keep warm.
Meanwhile, in small covered saucepan, cook remaining corn and potato in boiling salter water for 2 minutes. Add chopped sweet pepper. Cover and cook about 1 minute more or till tender.
Stir the drained veggies into the soup. Add the fresh or frozen crabmeat, heat through.
If desired, garnish each serving with parsley and red pepper strips.
Makes 4 1/2 cups.
259 calories per serving.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Emma is done with Cotillion for the year, and we all thought it was fabulous! SO, here are my thoughts.......

Let me just say right off the bat that Cotillion should be mandatory, at several different points of life.


First, at Emma's age. The girls must wear dresses, and white gloves. (of course, I could take or leave the gloves. The Queen herself doesn't even wear them anymore, does she??) What girl doesn't love seeing herself all dressed up?

The boys have to wear suits and ties. How refreshing to see those grubby little hooligans dressed up for once!
Just kidding........ mostly........

After the elementary/middle school age, it should be required again in High School. Enough said about that.

Next step: During pre-marital counseling.

Then again 10 years into marriage.

Call me CRAZY......

but my guess is most people could sure use it by then. Remind men to escort a lady into a room, offer her a chair, get her refreshments......
How to make polite conversation, that does NOT include burping the alphabet......

Or remind the ladies that is really is ok to put on a dress once in a while, even though you're usually covered in spit-up.....
That being twirled around the room will still make you feel like a princess........

I was a proud Mamma two weeks ago during Emma's last class. She was gorgeous in her new dress and gloves. She was excited, and confident, and glowing on the dance floor. Seeing her dance with Daddy at the end was precious. She's a lovely young lady with a beautiful heart.

I'll post pictures soon!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

In Christ Alone

There has been so much stuff written about the election I almost can't stand it anymore.

Really, there is nothing new under the sun that hasn't been said already, on either side of the political fence.

So I'll just say my little piece and be done with it.

NO PRESIDENT is going to be the one that changes our country. Yes, I was disappointed at the election outcome. However, there is nothing magical about either John McCain or Barack Obama. Truly, there is not.

I know there are millions of people who really think, in their heart of hearts, that Obama will bring about change that they so desperately desire. They are placing their hope and trust in this man.

And see, that's the problem. He is just a man.

Not that there is anything wrong with being excited or hopeful about a leader. I fully believe that since God has allowed Barack Obama to take the position of president, that we should support him, and pray for him. I hope that great things happen in our country.

But instead of placing hope in Obama, I hope that the people of our country will choose to turn to God, to seek His face, and to put their ultimate trust in Christ alone.

Instead of "Yes We Can," let it be "Yes God Can."

The lyrics to this song say it perfectly:

In Christ Alone
In Christ alone will I glory
Though I could pride myself in battles won
For I’ve been blessed beyond measure
And by His strength alone I’ll overcome
Oh, I could stop and count successes like diamonds in my hands
But those trophies could not equal to the grace by which I stand

In Christ alone
I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ alone

In Christ alone do I glory
For only by His grace I am redeemed
For only His tender mercy
Could reach beyond my weakness to my need
And now I seek no greater honor
in just to know Him more
And to count my gains but losses to the glory of my Lord

In Christ Alone
I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ Alone.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's OVER!!!

After 9 months of planning, the What Not to Wear conference is OVER!!!

I guess I'll post more about it later, but here are a few quick thoughts...

1) Shari and Patti are great, and so much fun!
2) My phone has stopped ringing with calls for last minute tickets.
3) I can now sleep without waking up at 1am, thinking of things I need to do.
4) God is so awesome. (which is really the number one point...)

After nine months of planning, and ups and downs, and frustrations, He worked it out perfectly. I know that every women that He wanted to be there, was there. There were just enough seats. Just enough food. Hundreds of happy women.

We had a lot of guests, from all walks of life. Shari shared her personal testimony at the end of the program. What a story! It's such a blessing to everyone who hears it. My favorite part that all of the guests heard was that every woman is beautiful, and exactly how God created her.

Finally, I want to say how blessed I was by planning this event. Yes, it was very tough. And there were so many obstacles. But the prayers that were poured out by all the beautiful women I know flowed freely, both for the event and for me and my family. It was like getting a hug from God every time someone would call or send a note. I know that God wanted this event to happen. And being a part of that was amazing. Because we have an amazing God.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

treasures at your fingertips

You know that acronym for CHAOS? Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome? I decided quite a while ago that I wasn't going to live like that. Gone are the days of not inviting friends in because I have a sink full of dishes and toys are all over the house.
Y'all can just come on in!

(Just watch your step, and don't trip on the toys!)
(And hopefully you won't need to use the sink, cuz there's no more room in it.)

There's a lot to be said for living this way.
So I'm gunna brag a little on all the benefits I offer to someone who comes over and relaxes on my couch:

Hungry? Food is seconds away! Just reach down into the couch cushions! 100 bucks says you'll find M&Ms, potato chips, cheez-its, ABC gum and popcorn. A feast, I tell you!

If you'd like a new hairstyle, just reach down there and have your pick from 7 different hair clips.

If conversation comes to a lull, don't despair! Better entertainment is to be had! Right underneath your bottom is a headless, naked Barbie doll. The possibilities are endless......

Thirsty from all the treats? Now this time you need to reach a little further. Pass the couch cushions, and reach all the way down to the bottom, underneath the couch. That's right.... you are just inches away from your choice of 3 thirst quenching flavors of juice boxes. I promise there will be at least a few drops left in each box. Forget the formality of straws, just squirt it right on in.....

A visit here will save you money, too - because you don't even need to take your daughter to Target on the way home. A (kind of) clean pair of Beauty and the Beast panties are right next to you, underneath the toss pillow. Go ahead, take 'em.

I just love to spoil my friends.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Any Time, Any Place

Little John has been sick.

And if you're a parent, you know that when you have a sick toddler, the time ticks by V. E. R. Y. S. L. O. W. L. Y.

To make matters worse, I've been sick, too. So my patience has been wearing a little thin.

Desperate to make the time pass, and desperate to sit for just a few minutes, I ran the tub and stuck John in it. He thought it was a blast. I sat there watching him smile and laugh, and it made me smile, too.

All of a sudden, he squeezed his little two year old eyes shut, and said "Dear God, thank you my friends, and granny, and grandpa, and tractor."

Then he picked up his pirate toy, and kept on playing.

Melt. My. Heart!!

How absolutely precious to hear his two year old little self being thankful for his favorite things, in the midst of a mundane day. He didn't wait for "prayer time." He didn't wait until we were talking about friends, or family, or toys.

His little heart was just plain thankful, and no matter where he was, or what he was doing, he stopped to thank God for it.

That's how it should be always, isn't it? Any time. Any place. For reasons big and small.
Just come and talk to Him.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Have you SEEN this new book???

I bought it at Borders the other day. It's called: Eat This, NOT That! For Kids!


Did you know that your kiddo is better off eating a peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar, than a Nutri-grain bar?

Listen to this: You know that healthy-lookin' cereal called Smart Start? It has 7 different sweeteners in it. More than any other cereal at the supermarket. It's just 3 grams of sugar shy of a Hagen-daz bar.

Now, get ready to be SICK.....
Let's say you go to Chili's. Your kids order the usual - chicken nuggets or tenders. Chili's has Chicken Crispers. If they eat the 2 chicken strips and french fries, with ranch dipping sauce and ketchup, they will have consumed 1,110 calories, 82 grams of fat, and 1980 mg of sodium!!! (this doesn't even include the Coke or sweet tea that they will down with it...)

Oh. My. Freakin. Gosh.

Seriously, y'all.

Go Buy This Book.

You will be absolutely amazed by what's in it. It not only goes through all the good and bad choices at restaurants, it gives color pictures of all the things you'd normally buy at the grocery store, and gives surprising answers to what you should be picking for your kids.

It's seriously making me take a good hard look at what I feed my kids, and even pack in their lunches.

What do you feed your kiddos most of the time? What do you pack in their lunches?

I'd love to hear your comments about this!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wisdom in the Word

Sunday Scripture:

"I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."
Revelation 3:20

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Jeremiah 33:3

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Picture THIS.
Mamma is in the kitchen cooking. Dishes are everywhere. 3 kids are annoying her. Hubby is laying on the couch sick. Ridiculous cartoons are playing so loudly, that Mamma has visions of strangling that stupid Sponge Bob.
The phone rings.
It's Grandpa.
He wants to know if.....get this....

we want him to come pick up the kids for the night!

"Oh, no," I say. "I couldn't last a night without them."

Are you kidding me? What I actually said was...


Sure enough, an hour later, Pa came to get the kids.
I left the dishes in the sink. We watched a movie. We decided to go out for coffee in the morning. I went to bed earlier than usual.
I went upstairs, looked in the 3 empty bedrooms, and felt a little sad.

Something about seeing that little crib with no one in it...

I could close my bedroom door, all the way! and there were no kids to listen for. When Ryan got up at night to use the bathroom, I cringed when the toilet seat made a loud noise.
Oh yeah, there's no one to wake up.
I didn't even know what to do with myself when I didn't get woken up by a crying toddler at the butt-crack of dawn.
It's almost noon now, and no one has been whining for chicken nuggets. It's Q.U.I.E.T. here.

Almost too quiet..........
When are they getting dropped off???

Thursday, September 18, 2008

That Darn Fairy

She did it again!
I don't know what's wrong with that darn fairy.

Last night a little girl could barely contain her excitement as she put her tooth in a box and wrote a note to the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy knew the tooth was there of course.

But did the tooth get taken? Did she leave $1?

Nope. Nothin but a sad little girl was in that room this morning.

So what's up with that fairy chick? (I think she must have fallen into bed exhausted last night...)

Now mama is trying to convince Clara that sometimes the fairy gets backed up. I'll bet she gets $2 left for her tonight since she had to wait so patiently!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It could have been me...

A change of perspective can be an enlightening thing, can't it? What looks to be one way can quickly appear another way in a split second.

Take, for instance, my weekend.
It started Thursday evening.
With the stomach flu.
I was up all night, and totally exhausted on Friday. Could I count the hours till hubby got home to help me? NO! He was gone fishing for the whole darn weekend. Yes, that left moi to fix meals and drag the kids to Toys R US for birthday party gifts that were needed for the next morning. Saturday was spent shuttling kids to parties. Sunday, I was so tired, we didn't even make it to church. I had a sinkful of dishes, the house was messy, and I had a sitter coming over because I had to go do an open house for a client. After shopping for goodies, and lighting candles, and doing everything I could to make a nice open house, guess who came?
(go ahead, guess.......)
Not one single person came.
My head was killing me, and I was so irritated that I'd wasted my afternoon.
What a lousy weekend!

Here's another perspective:
Hurricane Ike came through Texas this weekend. Thousands of people were told to flee from their homes. Some of those people were our family members and friends. The Galveston area is where Ryan is from, and other than his parents, his whole family still lives there. We got email updates from friends who were leaving their homes, knowing that there may not be anything to go back to. We worried about the family business - a fish farm - that it would be devastated.
Sunday we got the news that the family was all fine. The fish farm had been damaged, but was not ruined. One of our friends lost her home. Tons of other people are still waiting to be rescued.
That was their weekend.
It could have been me.

How would I have coped? What would it be like to leave my home, and all my belongings, knowing that there would be nothing to return to?
Take a quick look around you right now. (GO ahead......look!) Are you sitting in a comfortable chair? Surrounded by family pictures? Toys scattered around, a fridge full of food, a closet full of clothes? Imagine that, in the blink of an eye, it was all gone. Difficult, isn't it?
Please pray for all the people who are dealing with this unimaginable disaster.

Meanwhile, the sun was shining here today. My kids didn't get sick. I get to sleep in my own bed.
I think I had a pretty good weekend, after all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


One thing happening around here is that Emma is getting all excited to start Cotillion in a few weeks.
Don't get me wrong, I'm excited too. Because, in my mind, I've always planned on my girls doing this anyway. So I'm glad she wants to, and that she's excited.


Exactly how many dresses should I be expected to purchase???

Sunday dresses and white gloves are required, of course. I eased up on my requirements for what she wore to church this summer. So she really only has one dress that will be appropriate.
And, silly mom that I am, I mentioned that to her tonight. Just something along the lines of "Hey honey, you have that pink dress..."
Her response?

"UHHHHH! Mama, I am so not wearing that!!"

Me: (speechless, of course........)


Does my little pre-debutante really think she's entitled to a new dress for each class?


More to come............

Sunday, September 7, 2008

No Tears

I DID it!

I sent my baby off to preschool last week. My third child. My last child. The little boy who has claimed my heart.

I've thought all summer long about how I would just bawl the first time I dropped that little guy off. (And I've also thought about the fit he'd probably throw when I left....)
Well, last Wednesday was the BIG day. Here's how our morning went:
John wakes up at 5:45 am. (2 HOURS earlier than normal...)
He won't eat breakfast.
We run out of diapers.
Everyone runs around like idiots trying to get ready.
I can't find the shoes that go with his outfit.
We get a ridiculously cute picture of him.
Arrive at school 20 minutes late.
I notice the bags full of supplies that all the moms have sent with their children.
John has a backpack with 2 MASSIVE, size 6 diapers left over from the neighbor. (because remember, we ran out?) Nothing else. No wipes, no change of clothes, no smock, tissue, folder, sanitizer. Nothin. Zip. Nada.
Screaming two year olds are all over the room. Ryan sets John down at a table with play-doh. We say "Bye!" and walk out the door.
John didn't cry. And........ neither did I!
I don't know why I didn't. I fully expected to be in tears. I felt sad, but not overly emotional. I knew he was fine. And as much as I want to hold on to his baby years, and not let him go, I know that there will be joy in each and every step that we go through with all of our children.
SO, take a look at the cutest picture you've ever seen. That's my little school boy, all dressed up in his Ralph Lauren duds. Can it get any cuter???

Monday, August 25, 2008

Season for Everything

Yep, there is a season for everything.

And my favorite includes late nights, sleeping in, Donut Day Fridays, the swimming pool, the lake, ice cream Mondays, and popsicles.
You guessed it - it's summer.
And ours is officially O.V.E.R.

The girls went back to school this morning, and I was not ready for it. Truly - just give me a few more weeks of summer, and I'd be so happy! I know most people are kinda anxious to send their kids packing. But I've loved having the girls home this summer. I like being around them. John loves having them around. And I like the laziness and freedom of summer.

And I am SO NOT READY to start having crazy mornings getting everyone ready, destrying the kitchen making multiple lunches and snacks, and spending each evening with homework.

We spent last week packing every last bit of fun in. We went on the boat. We had multiple play dates. We went for ice cream. Had sleepovers. Went swimming. Shopping. You name it, we did it.

Yesterday, we started the real preparations of going to school. Like shopping for all the food that will fill their lunch boxes. And ironing the official first day of school outfits.

We took our usual pictures of the girls with their backpacks on the front steps this morning. And I always drive them to school and walk them to class the first day. Once John and I got back in the van, it was so quiet! He missed them terribly, and didn't understand why they were gone all of a sudden.

So, we will eventually get back into the swing of things. My little girls are back to school. If I'm getting weepy at that, just wait till next week when I send my baby boy to preschool for the first time!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Last night was GNO!

(That stands for Girls Night Out, according to Hannah Montana.)

(And Hannah Montana had everything to do with last night, FYI.)

The girls and I planned a GNO last night. We started off at the mall, looking for first day of school outfits. Words that flowed from Emma's mouth consisted of "Oh. My. GOSH, Mamma." " for." "Oohhh! I.!"

Clara just skipped around, holding up cute pink dresses. After trying one on, she declared "Yeah, mamma, this just isn't really me."

Ryan met us at the mall to pick up John. We were parked next to each other, so when we backed out, the girls started blasting the "Girls Night" song by Hannah Montana with the windows down, so Ryan could hear it. When Hannah started singing "It's girls night, it's all right, without YOU!" the girls and I pointed to Ryan and then sped off. The girls couldn't stop laughing - it was a very big HAHA moment in their minds. (never occurred to them that daddy wanted NO PART in girls night!)

We ate a quick dinner, went to see the new American Girl movie, then we went bowling, then we went for ice cream. By then, my pocketbook was empty, and it was 10:30pm.

It was nice to spend some time with them, without the little guy tagging along. They had a great time, and fell into bed exhausted.

When they woke this morning, they wanted to know what other adventures we'd be having today!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Funny Moments

A few of my favorite comments from the kids the past few days:

On Sunday, Clara excitedley ran up to me with a "gift" in her hands. She handed me a small heavy object that was covered in a piece of printer paper. "Open it!"

Inside was a small ceramic box (that I already owned). "No, that's just holding your gift, mama. It's inside."

So I opened the box. Inside was............ my DENTAL FLOSS.

"Oh, wow! That's great!" I exclaimed.

She sighs a content sigh. And smiles big.

"I KNEW you'd love it!" she proclaims. :)

John (who is 2) falls asleep sobbing after throwing a massive fit about a popsicle.
I go in to get him when he wakes up.
First thing he says is: "Can I have popsicle?"
Me: "If you eat your lunch, then you can have one."
John: "Do you understand me? I just want a popsicle!!!"

I'm laying next to Clara, putting her to bed.
"Umm, mama? What day is it?"
"It's Monday, honey."
"Oh," she sighs, sounding defeated. "I have Wednesday undies on."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Food for Thought

Saturday morning, I stopped at the grocery store to get milk and garbage bags.

When I turned in to park, I noticed a bunch of moms and teens standing outside the two entrances. I quickly figured out where I could walk to try to avoid them. I really wasn't in the mood to be feel forced to buy popcorn or magazines to help support another marching band.

So I did my best to walk far away from the group of women. But sure enough, one trapped me. She quickly started talking, and I started trying to cut her off. But then a phrase caught my attention: "impoverished children in our county." They were volunteering for an organization that I have only heard of, and admired.
A few posts back, I casually mentioned that I'm blessed enough to never worry about not being able to feed my kids, and that we don't have to rely on free school food to fill their tummys. These women and teens outside the store were trying to make sure that hundreds of other children can eat, too. They help collect backpacks and food. Then, on Fridays, they fill backpacks with crackers, peanut butter, cans of soup and applesauce. And send them home with hundreds of children each weekend so that they can eat while they are away from school.

What an awesome thing to do.

I went in to the store, grabbed the two items I needed, and filled the cart with food for the backpacks. And for whatever reason, I was fighting back the tears as I shopped.

So many people in this area complain about what's called "busing." Our school system takes thousands of children from low income families, and buses them across town to schools in wealthier areas. Most parents in our area are not in favor of busing. They want their children's school to have lower "free and reduced lunch" ratios. I won't even get into why they think lower ratios have anything to do with their children, or why it matters.

But here's what hit me, as I pulled out of the store parking lot Saturday. If none of these children, who are so needy, were brought to our schools, then who would be there filling backpacks and making sure that they had enough to eat? Shouldn't we be greatful that we have the chance to serve and give back a tiny portion of what we have? Isn't that what God would want us to do?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Climbing Tree

When I look out my back windows, I see something that I appreciate very much. But before I say what it is, I will say that it's something that I wasn't always happy about.

3 years ago, Ryan and I were waiting anxiously for our new home to be built. After some trees in the backyard were bulldozed, we walked around back to get an idea of what our new yard would be like. We loved that we had some flat yard, and then woods. As we looked around, we saw something that upset us. A lot.

One of the trees right where the grass and woods met was leaning over. Not slightly, mind you, like the leaning tower of Pisa. Oh, no. This tree was at least at a 45 degree angle. The roots on one side were pulled out of the ground, and sticking up. The "top" of the tree was hanging way over into the back yard.

Our first thoughts were ones of slight anger. How dare the builder leave that almost dead tree hanging over into our yard? It's dangerous! Why does everyone else get perfect trees, and we are left with something that we'll probably have to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to have removed? The visions we'd had in our head of our perfect new backyard were getting very muddled. It seemed that everyone else had what we wanted. And we were left with the disfigured, problem tree.

It figures, we thought to ourselves.

After we moved in, we took a further look at that tree. It really wasn't dead at all. And not far from the base of the tree, there was another tree stump, perfectly positioned to give support to the big tree, and hold it up. The huge roots that stick out of the ground were alive and well. Ryan thought it was alive and sturdy enough to hold some weight.

So a few weeks later, on Christmas day, we hung a tire horse swing from it. And in the spring, we added a hammock. Because of it's angle, even little kids are able to climb it. Clara started gathering friends to follow her up the tree. Then the girls started sliding down it. It's become a neighborhood favorite. The girls call it their climbing tree.

Honestly, if that tree wasn't there, we wouldn't have a good place for their swing. And the kids wouldn't have a tree that was safe and easy to climb. Of all things, we ended up being........ THANKFUL......... for that tree!

What we thought was so terrible ended up being a blessing. Who would have thought? In the begining, it appeared to us that we were getting a bad deal. But it turns out that what we perceived as being unfair was actually to our benefit.

So when I look out my back windows, I see the climbing tree. And I'm reminded that what may appear to be a disappointment, may actually be a blessing in disguise.

I think life is full of these. If only we could take the time to look at problems with a different perspective, I think we'd be pleasantly surprised. There just may be a silver lining.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blessings and Backpacks

I did a super big "Oh, no!" yesterday, and I feel terrible about it.

Our church is sponsoring a Bookbag Buddies program. Last weekend, we picked up the name of a little girl who is 9 or 10 years old. Like any other child, she needs a backpack and school supplies when she starts school in a few weeks. But she's depending on the kindness of strangers to get them for her.
We were excited to pull her name, and the girls started talking about what they would pick out for her. I went to Target yesterday, and all the school supplies were out. So I thought I'd pick a few things out, and wait for Emma and Clara to get the rest. Only, when I went into my purse to get the list, it wasn't there.


In between meltdowns, John had been messing with my purse. He must have pulled it out and dropped it somewhere. I couldn't find it. I reassured myself that maybe I'd been mistaken, and left it on the kitchen counter.
Today I searched everywhere possible, including the van. It's nowhere to be found. I wanted to cry.

We are supposed to turn the backpacks in this weekend. And some sweet girl won't be getting what she needs because of what happened. I'm hoping that somehow, somewhere, that list will turn up.

I can't even imagine what it would feel like to not be able to buy my kids the pencils and notebooks they need for school. Most of us, thankfully, will never know that feeling. Hopefully, none of us will never have nights where we pray that our kids can get through the night without dinner, just waiting for them to be able to fill their tummys with breakfast when they get to school the next morning.

When I shop with my kids for school supplies, their biggest worry will be whether to pick pencils with Hannah Montana or High School Musical. What an incredible problem to have.

I'm praying today that God gives me a way to get that little girl her needed supplies. And I'm saying an extra thank you for all of our blessings.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sigh of Relief/Letting Go

After 4 days of mama worrying, Emma came home today.

We dropped her off at Wake Forest University Monday for her first ever sleep-over camp. It was 101 degrees. Enough said??

I left my baby to put herself to bed at night in a dorm room. Yeah, that was a little scary to me. I worried for 4 days. That she would be scared, or need me. That she would get lost. Or sick, or hurt. Or be too hot and pass out from dehydration and heat exhaustion, and no one would find her. (yes, I have an active imagination.) I worried about whether she would take showers, or eat enough at meals. Would she put her sunscreen on? It's July in NC!

She's been my little girl for 10 years now. And it was hard to know that she was out there, without me being there to mommy her. HOW COULD SHE MAKE IT WITHOUT ME???

I used to think of myself as so capable of things when I was a kid. Of course it never occurred to me that any of my new-found and progressive independence ever worried my parents. I never stopped to think, as I grew up, that it might be hard for my parents to let go.

And now here I am, after 10 years of mommy-ing (is that a word?), realizing that I've got some letting go to do.

Emma had a blast. She came home with that camp-experience high, and wished that it went longer. She has no sunburn. She didn't drown in the pool. She ate, and slept, and bathed. She laughed, and made friends, and gained confidence in herself.

I was so happy for her. I know she'll remember it for the rest of her life.
And I'm so happy for me, too. Cuz I can sleep tonight without worrying! :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Time Flies

"Time flies."
How many times have I heard that??

"Savor each moment with your kids when they are young. It goes by so fast!"
I know, heard that a gazillion times, too.

But it's really sinking in for me.

If you know me well, then you have likely heard me proclaim that I will NEVER, EVER make a scrapbook. Cuz I'm just not that type of organized gal. Our pictures are all stored online, and I think the last one I had printed was four years ago.

Emma left today for church camp, (more on that later), and Clara wanted somthing to pass the time while she was away. So I enrolled her in a three day scrapbooking class this week. The trick is -- (get this.....) -- she has to bring 24 printed pictures with her. Imagine that!!

I spent the past hour or two online, looking through pictures of the last 7 years of our family's life. I felt absolutely transported back in time. Back to the days when I had two tiny little girls with shiny white hair, huge smiles and matching dimples that would melt your heart.

I saw pictures of fancy Christmas dresses, princess Halloween costumes, birthdays, and first days of school. Matching pink outfits. Ballet class. Tea parties. Welcoming baby brother to the world. A happy family.

A Blessed Family.

I reminiced with teary eyes. I wanted so badly to reach through the computer, into those photographs, and hug those precious little girls. My goodness, how time flies.

There is a big part of me that misses them being so little. And yet I'm so proud of the wonderful young ladies they are. They are beautiful, inside and out. They love God. They love each other, and their family. They are kind, and funny, and smart and thoughtful. And I wouldn't change a thing.

It was impossible to pick just 24 pictures from Clara's life. What a wonderful life God has given her (and all of us) so far!

The trip down memory lane was good for my heart. It's made me almost burst with thankfulness. And it's reminded me to savor each moment. Right here and now. Because pretty soon, today will be a memory, too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's Family

We have had a crazy few days over here.
We have had extended family in town visiting since Saturday. My uncle, his wife, and their 6 year old daughter Olivia (my cousin!) were in from IL.

We started the weekend with a birthday party, then a pool party with family, then everyone going to dinner and a ball game. Sunday was church, my sisters baby shower, and then 18 family members at my house for dinner. Monday we all packed it up and went to the beach for the day. Tuesday we wore ourselves out at the gym and pool. Last night I broke my nose, and this morning we got up early for horse riding.

And right now I am just SITTING HERE DOING NOTHING!!!


My girls really enjoyed playing with their cousin, whom they have only met once before. They all got along pretty well, and were sad to see her leave last night.

It's funny, because even though the kids didn't really know each other before their arrival, preparations started well before they got here. Rooms had to be cleaned, toys picked up. I even made a trip to Justice to buy Olivia a singing Hannah Montana doll as a suprise gift from Emma and Clara. We ran around like nuts once they arrived and spent far more money than we had intended, just to give everyone a good time and be together. But mainly because - it's family.

Isn't there a different kind of willingness that we show to family that we don't even know well or ever see? A certain way that we tend to put their needs and desires ahead of our own, and give them the royal treatment, because - it's family.

There are so many people that we all come into contact with everyday. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances, coworkers. Some we like, some we aren't so crazy about. What if we could somehow manage to treat everyone like long-lost family? What if we truly could love each other like Christ loves His church? See each other as family members, who all have the same Father? Because all those people - they really are family.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Old Ballgame

Last night we took all three kids to a baseball game. There were severe thunderstorms in the forecast, and it started to POUR while we were driving there.

My brother-in-law had tickets from work, and we all had VIP parking, a private room and meal and drinks for free! My two sisters, parents, and some of our friends also went. We were unsure about taking John, and I called around to a few sitters. But alas, no one was available with one hour advance notice. So we took him. I'm so glad we did!

We got to wait in the private room while it finished raining. Then we took our seats, expecting John to last a whole 10 minutes. But he LOVED it! Since Papa is such a big baseball fan, he had fun sitting with John, and trying to explain baseball to him and the girls.

We all had free t-shirts, all the kids had them on. They looked really cute all sitting in a row in these massive adult sized t-shirts. They laughed and goofed around, and stuffed themselves with treats. John had Goodberry's (frozen custard), popcorn, sno-cone he mooched from his cousin, and candy. He stuffed himself so much that we were about 99% sure we would be experiencing his treats all over again on the ride home. They lasted until 10:15 at the ballpark, and got to bed at almost 11pm.

It was a really fun night, and the kids had a blast.

What was NOT a blast was waking them up early this morning to go to horse riding lessons.
But that's another story.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Big Dreams

The 4th has passed, and it was a good weekend for us.

The morning started with our annual tradition of drinking root beer floats for breakfast! The girls LOVE it and talk about it all year!

Then we took the kids to our town's Old Fashioned Celebration in the downtown area. It was fun - and hot! They had lots of kids games, and a bunch of huge inflatables to jump and slide on, and lots of sno-cones!

Later I took the girls to the pool while John napped. Then family came over to grill.

BUT..... fireworks were RAINED OUT! A thunderstorm started 10 minutes before we were going to leave to see the show. Thankfully a neighbor had some cool fireworks that he shot off in the rain, so we stood on the front porch to watch them. John didn't know any better, and he loved it!

Later we watched the Boston Pops play to the fireworks on TV.

What touched me most was seeing our US troops, dressed in their military clothing, listening to the music and watching the fireworks. I kept wondering what their background was, and what was going through their minds at that moment. These are men and women who risk their lives every day to protect us and our freedom.

Many years ago, some men had a big dream. A dream of freedom for our country.

A dream that probably seemed impossible to most.

And yet God gave it to them.

Without promise of what the end result would be.

And we sit here today because of men (and women) who trusted God enough to pursue the dream He put in their hearts.

While I could never compare anything I go through with the struggles and dreams of our Founding Fathers, I've found myself in a situation lately that reminds me of their big dreams.

I'm planning a big event at church right now. Without going into details, it is (God willing) going to be huge! But it's stressing me out.

And recently, I had some ideas about it that seem kind of crazy. As in, crazy BIG.

Yes, I'm thinking BIG, because we have a BIG God.

But these big ideas scare me a little bit, because I don't want to be disappointed. And I don't want anyone to think my "crazy big" thinking is just plain crazy.

With a lot of prayer, I know God will reveal what it is He has in store for this event.

What about you? How do you deal with big dreams?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Favorite Recipe - Chicken Cacciatore

Works For Me Wednesday!

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer is asking for favorite 5 ingredient recipes today, as part of "Works for Me Wednesday."

Mine is Chicken Cacciatore, and you'll really love it!

In a crockpot, add:

3 large chicken breasts, on the bone, but no skin
5 links of italian sausage, each cut in 3 pieces
1 large onion, cut in wedges
2 green bell peppers, cut in thick slices
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Cook this on low for 8 hours. I like to serve it over spaghetti. Delicious!

*If you are feeling spunky and want to add more than 5 ingredients, then go ahead and add some fresh cloves of garlic*

BTW, to read Shannon's blog, which I've really enjoyed, go to:


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Passports and More

I spent part of my day today with Ryan and the kids at the post office, getting our passports renewed. FUN!

We went to Europe 12 years ago, before kids. And we haven't been out of the country since.

My passport expired two years ago. Ryan's expired in 2000!

And so now, with the possibility of a trip looming, we need those bad boys to be current!

This is what I hate about the renewal process though:

1) We aren't even sure that we are going anywhere anytime soon.
2) Just in case we go somewhere this month, we needed to expedite our requests.
3)That costs a lot of money. For something we might not even need this year!

But what if?

Good question.

Doesn't it apply to so many things in life?

Although the cost seemed high to renew, would I be willing to pay the price of not having it when it's needed, and ruining a posible vacation?

What things in life am I waiting on doing, just because it's an inconvenience now?

I want to live my life in such a way that when the storms come, I am secure. Secure in my relationship with God. Confident in His Word, because I've spent time letting it seep into my life and my heart - changing me from the inside out.

I want to look back and know that I did the things that needed to be done to make a better tomorrow.

Our gracious friend and travel agent commented a few days ago, "Just think, once you have your passports, you're ready to go wherever you want for the next 10 years!"

I liked that comment, because that's what got me thinking.

If I take time today, to get ready for tomorrow, who knows what awesome things God will bring my way??

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Today I got to hang out with my best friend from High School!!!

She was in visiting her parents, and drove a few hours with her husband and 3 little ones to visit us for the afternoon.

Mindy and I first met during our freshman year of High School. We hung out, double dated, and shared clothes. We did silly teenager things. We measured how high our bangs were with a ruler. We even had a bet going at the end of our senior year to see who missed the most days of school! (I won...). She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding.

But for almost 10 years we've lived over 1000 miles apart.

So, most of our true "knowing each other" was done before we both became mommies. But when we do see each other, it seems like no time has passed.

THIS time, it DID feel different in a way.

This was the first time I have met her youngest daughter, who is only 6 months old. And it was the first time I had ever observed her being a mommy to 3 little ones.

I sat in the family room, with every toy we own scattered around me. And I said,
"Mindy, what are we DOING??? Here we are, with 6 KIDS between us. CRAZY!!!"

It is crazy. It's also really cool to see who my friend from so long ago has become as a wife, and a mother.

It was a fun and hectic day, and I was sad to see it come to an end so quickly. But what a blessing it was! I hope it happens again soon! :-)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Two Awesome Things

Two great things have happened in the past 24 hours!

Last night, Ryan came home from work with a beautiful bunch of white roses. (for me, of course.)
He said it was a thank you for the past week while he travelled and I was alone with the kids.

Isn't that so sweet?

I'll have to post a picture of them, if I can figure out how to post pictures.

And THEN........

This afternoon I received an email that I won a dinner gift certificate to Lucky 32! (one of my favorite restaurants!)

Here's the random way I won:

A few months ago, I went to see a home on the market, looking at it for my mom. When I got the agent feedback request, it asked me to predict what the final cosing price of the home would be. The agent whose guess was closest would win dinner for two at Lucky 32.

I felt bad, but I guessed REALLLLY low.

Like many, many TENS of thousands less than listing price.

So guess what? Turns out I was RIGHT!!!

Lucky 32? Lucky ME!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mom of the Year

What a week!

Ryan has been gone for 6 days. I started the week by keeping the house clean. I even thought that I would finish tackling all the clothes in my bedroom while he was gone, and SUPRISE! he would come back to a spotless home. Yeah - the best laid plans.........

Cuz here's the problem. I'm EXHAUSTED.

I'm thinking that there should be some kind of special award for me this week. Here are some good reasons that I should be in the running for mother of the year (or at least the month...)

* I put a two year old to bed numerous times this week at 10pm.
* I gave the same two year old enough coffee to keep him awake past 10pm.
* He also had pizza four times this week.
* Should I mention that he's swallowed about 39 pieces of gum in 3 days? (well, almost...)
* Within a few hours, I rescued him from diving into the deep end of the pool, and another mom caught him after he ran out of McDonalds into the parking lot. (maybe his extra energy came from the mocha he drank at Harris Teeter??)
* During those same few hours, I "lost" Clara for a few minutes in the culdesac while I enjoyed a little wine with the neighbors.

BUT. My kids did all sleep (some) this week. They had (mostly) clean clothes. They ate (kinda healthy?) food. No one got sick. They got hugs. We even went walking late at night looking for frogs. And every popsicle in the freezer is gone.

I guess now that I think about it, it was a pretty good week. :-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I know I'm not alone when I say that in so many areas of life, I feel like I take two steps forward, one step back.

Some things are little, some are big.

A small thing? Cleaning the house. I've realized that it actually takes less than 1/2 day for everything I've done to become undone. A few weeks ago, my mom was over, and I had everything really clean before she arrived. We had tea while John slept, and the girls were at school. She stayed the rest of the afternoon, and then my dad came later, and we all had dinner. After we finished eating, mom looked around, and said "Wow, everything was so nice and clean earlier!" Uh, yeah. It was.

Other things are less tangible. I think about where I'd like to see myself one day. How I'd like to grow spiritually. What areas of my heart I want to be changed. And so I make different goals, and set out to see what happens. I start prayer journals, and Bible studies.

And then you know what happens? LIFE. Life happens. Sometime I don't finish the study because I've spent days on end with sick kids. Or was working nonstop. Or I was just lazy. Somtimes life is difficult, or people are hurtful. And upon closer inspection, I realize that my heart is still carrying the burden of unforgiveness. And then I'm so disappointed with myself and my progress. I even wonder once in a while if the little bits of progress I do make even matter. Does God even notice?

Oh, how many times I've envisioned the Godly woman that I want Him to make me. And for every time I've envisioned her, I've wished that He would just make it happen NOW!

But I read something written by Beth Moore this week in my Bible study that has given me such encouragement and peace about my journey.
"I don't stand over my children impatiently and wish they were suddenly grown. I celebrate every step they take. Why do we think our Heavenly Father, who designed our bodies, souls, and spirits to operate just as they do, would be any different? No, God doesn't enjoy a child's stubborn unwillingness to grow up any more than I'd enjoy my kids still crawling at six years of age. But I am convinced God thoroughly relishes every hint of maturity even if we feel as if we're not making progress."

Sigh. That was just what I needed to hear. If it's enough for God to notice, then it's enough for me, too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Adventure and Anticipation

I might be taking a trip this summer.
With my husband, of course.

It started very innocently. I thought it would be nice to get away for 2 or 3 days together. It's been a long time since we've been anywhere. The beach? The mountains? How far could we get in just a long weekend?

Then my sister went to the Bahamas. And she had a blast. I looked online at the place she visited, and almost had the guts to wonder if we might take a trip like that. (I haven't noticed any money growing on our trees.....) I casually mentioned to Ryan that supposedly there are inexpensive trip packages out there, and wouldn't it be nice to really get the most bang for our buck?

A few days later, I saw a friend from church who has a travel business. I mentioned to her that we wanted to get away for a few days. She sent me an email with some trip suggestions. Mexico? COSTA RICA? Wow. My imagination hadn't travelled further than off the coast of Florida. She said these places were possibilities, and wanted to know what things we enjoy, and what we like to do.

When was the last time I stopped to think about something like that?

Me, with no kids to look after. What would I want to do?

I wasn't sure at first. But then I realized.......

I want adventure.
I want to be wowed.
I want an experience I'll never forget.

This realization kind of shocked me. I mean, I spend my days driving 3 kids in a minivan, and making ramen noodles for lunch. My adventures have to do with the hissing beetles Clara finds in the woods and sneaks into the house.

This whole idea of a trip has snowballed into something that I never thought it could be. It started as a quick trip to just "get away from it all." It quickly became more costly, and more exciting, than I would have given myself permission to envision at the beginning. And that is exciting to me.

If we had started from the get-go by saying, "Let's go to Costa Rica," it would have been great. But that would have been the expectation. There is really something fabulous about being happy with things that are small, and then being wowed when they turn into so much more.

It's reminded me to do a little more anticipating. Anticipate the good things that God has in store for my life. Anticipate the adventures He has waiting for me. Because I just know that it will be so much more than I could ever envision it to be on my own.