Monday, December 01, 2008

Celebrating Advent

These are my new Advent Jesse Tree ornaments.

I had a set of ornaments that were handmade by a group of Sunday School Moms about 5 years ago but several weren't holding up very well and a few managed to get lost over the last few years.

A couple of years ago I saw a set similar to the ones I've made, but the price was more than I was willing to spend on something I was sure I could make myself. A couple of weeks ago I realized that I was running out of time if I was going to have new ones for this year. Using a couple different sources for pattern ideas I managed to come up with a set that match my Advent Jesse Tree book of devotions. After digging around for some leftover felt and my stash of embroidery thread that dates back to 1990, I got to work. I was so afraid I wouldn't be done by today that I worked diligently for 3 days and managed to get them knocked out before Thanksgiving. I am hoping these can be used for many many many years!!

I am pretty satisfied with this group and I can't wait to start tonight on our first day. Our devotion book does 25 devotions from December 1st until Christmas Day. We are starting with Creation and the first ornament will be the world.

To me the Christmas season can be stressful. My favorite parts are putting up our Christmas tree with all the ornaments we've collected over the years, baking Gingerbread Men, having our Advent devotions, and Christmas Eve services at church. Winding down each evening before putting the girls to bed with a story about God's plan for our redemption keeps my mind on the real reason for the season and away from the stress of all the "fun" that comes along with it!

What are your Christmas traditions?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grateful Today for.....

Canadian leaf show

I am grateful today for:

1. some cold weather. It truly feels like fall here in the Sunshine State and that is rare before Christmas! Brrr Chilly!!

2. feather comforters, food in the pantry, and a comfy house.

3. parents that taught me obedience. The value of that in my Christian walk is incalculable.

4. God's grace. For when obedience is difficult.

5. having friends and family scattered all over the US. My dream to travel the US in an RV is sweeter because I know that no matter where I go (in the US) I am not more than a 12 hour drive from someone I know and love.

6. homeschooling because it's cold outside and we don't have to get out until after lunch.

7. my husband who loves me way beyond what I deserve. How I love that man!

8. cold weather cooking - pumpkin bread, stews that simmer all day, gingerbread men, hot cider, mmmmmm........

9. three sweet girl's shining faces in the morning, still wrapped in sleepiness, carrying their favorite blankets out to greet the day, giving soft greetings of "Good morning, Mommy" with a still warm-from-the-bed embrace.

10. A husband, father, and provider who got up in the middle of the night to shower and head out the door for an out of town trip (for the second time this week), creeping around our bedroom quietly in the dark so I could still (try to) sleep.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

You, Happier.

I don't usually get aggravated enough by advertising to feel the need to blog about it but the Best Buy slogan the last few months really has me fired up. You might disagree with what I am about to say but I'm going for it anyway.

You, Happier.

The insinuation is that if you buy the stuff at their store you will be happier. Now, I know that is the premise behind all advertising. If you buy x, y, z you will have an infinitely happier, sexier, funnier, easier, more enjoyable , fill-in-the-blank, life. Apparently it is pretty successful for marketing. But, as I tell my girls all the time, that is an advertiser's job - to convince you to buy what you don't need with what you don't have.

I also know that retailers are hurting along with the rest of the economy right now. I'm sure they are pulling in a few notches on their belts too and doing what they can to bring more buyers into their stores. But this slogan is over the top.

My issue with this advertising campaign is how it perpetuates the notion that stuff buys you happiness. That is a patently false lie and completely out of place anytime but especially so in the current economic situation. Nothing can buy happiness. There are no stores that sell it, no manufacturers that make it, no potions that create it. Happiness does not reside in the consumption of stuff. Happiness is an emotion, temporal, fleeting, and dependent on circumstances. There are a lot of very unhappy wealthy people out there. As Americans we think we have a right to happiness but the Declaration of Independence only established our right to pursue it, it did not guarantee it. Our pursuit of that temporal idea has gotten us into some mighty fine messes. As we remain in pursuit of that temporal feeling we get ourselves deeper and deeper into trouble.

I think what people are really after is something completely different and found in a very different place than an Electronics Store.

I propose a different point of view. Me, Joyful.

JOY is unaffected by circumstances and is a view of life derived from an abiding faith in the One who has the whole world in his hands. We have joy when we trust in Him, the One True God, unchangeable and trustworthy. Galatians 5:22 tells us it one of the fruits of the Spirit, along with love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and faithfulness. Joy can be present in the midst of great suffering. Happiness is often not. Peace and Joy. These are feelings that everyone wants and God freely gives to those who love and trust in Him.

So, I'm sorry Best Buy - I'm not buying your faulty reasoning. I can be joyful, even happy, without the help of your stuff.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Canada and a shamless plug

Domaine Pinnacle's apple orchard for their delicious Ice Cider. Just outside Frelighsburg, Quebec. I love the deep red hues of the apples contrasted with the green and then the splash of orange right behind! The wine was really delicious - so different than anything else we've ever tasted.

Head to my Facebook account (link in the title), open the photos tab, and you can see more Canada pictures. It takes too long to upload all these photos to more than one place, sorry.

We are back in our full swing in homeschool and activities this week. It feels good to be back in a more normal routine. Speaking of school, if you are an out of state reader and did not get the email I sent out recently our girls are doing a contest for our Classical Conversations group to see who can collect the most postcards from these three categories: Most states, most cities, most postcards. Surely we can manage to snag one of those categories with all the people we know, right? Not to mention the fact that ALL the girls in our house LOVE mail!

Sending hugs!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oh Canada! Part 1


Day 1 - the view from our 27th floor room. Just Mike and me with an incredible city view.

The view from the Chateau Mont Royal in the middle of the city toward the St. Lawrence River. That was a really steep hike!

A building in Old Montreal - old City Hall I think.....

The Basilica of Notre Dame in Old Montreal.

On the plaza in Old Montreal with some of the beautiful fall color in the background.

I had a great post started about our trip but in trying to move it around and make it look pretty I lost it. I'll work on it some more later. Next installment will be Quebec City and surroundings. Let me just say, don't let 11 years go between extended trips away with your husband (like we did). It is money and time and effort well spent in a renewed relationship with your beloved. We pray we are able to do a trip like this again within the next two years......

Friday, September 12, 2008

School Days

Hi all! I haven't made the paper yet as that crazy mom who was found muttering in the street about how her kids made her lose her mind. I'm not buried under mountains of books. Actually, we are doing well and I really enjoy teaching our girls at home. From most reports they are enjoying learning at home as well.

Homeschooling is absolutely all the work that people claim it to be. At least the way we are doing it (classically). The good news is that I am seeing some great academic progress. We just finished our 4th week of "official" schooling. I'm learning what works for our day and what doesn't. I'm sure that lots more tweaking will be done but so far, so good. I have no regrets.

I'm still a completely normal Mom and still miss that quiet part in my day that used to exist when the big girls were at school and Emily was in her room for a quiet time, but I'm trying to carve that out of a different place in my day - early in the morning. I certainly can't start my day without a quiet time now. I need that time in prayer and reading my Bible to make sure I start my day out on the right foot. There is a definite difference in the mood of our day when I take that time first thing. I do wish I had a grandparent or two around to come for a few hours a week so I can get out of the house by myself. A solo trip to the grocery store last week was way too enjoyable (I usually hate that chore!).

My favorite parts of homeschool, in no particular order:
I love re-learning (and sometimes for the first time) along with my girls. I've sure forgotten (or never learned) an awful lot!
I love reading all these good books together.
It is really cool to select a book for independent reading that first gets a wrinkled nose and rolling eyes but by time she's finished it, she is narrating the whole story to me with excitement.
It is awesome to hear my daughter tell me she loves math and watch her giggle with joy as she works through her worksheet.
I get so excited to do science with my girls because they are jumping out of the their skin with excitement to do a science experiment.
I love having our family bible study time in the morning, something we could never manage consistently when they were in "regular school". I'm learning so much about them just from listening to them share.

Lest you think I am a weirdo super homeschool mom, Emily is loving her traditional 3-day a week preschool (yes, she's at school!). She's painting and fingerpainting, playing with playdoh and swinging on the swings with other kids her age and having a ball. Her teacher is super sweet and Emily skips out of bed on school days. She's had it the roughest of all the girls with this change. She used to have Mommy all to herself during the day and when Sisters were home it was time to play. Now they stay home and she goes to school (MWF) and when they are home together (TT) the big girls are busy with school. I think going to school has been the perfect thing for her this year. If you ask her she'll say she goes to All God's Children AND does Homeschool because she gets to have the best of both worlds.

Sending out our love to you all!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I love chocolate

An Emily funny for you.

Last Friday we were at the Pediatrician's office. It was an unusually crowded waiting room with only one seat left. I took the last seat with Emily on my lap. Right next to us was a chubby little black girl, maybe 18 months old, in a cute polka dot dress and the most beautiful brown eyes.

Emily immediately smiled and cheerily exclaimed "Look Mommy, there's my friend!". She chattered on about her beautiful polka dot dress and asked her name and talked about her pretty hair clips. The little girl never said a word but quietly shared her magazine with Emily.

We were called back very quickly and as Emily jumped up she said "Mommy, she looks like chocolate and I LOVE chocolate!".

I love my little three year old.

Monday, July 14, 2008


There is so much to do to get ready for our annual trek to see our families.

Have you ever considered how much needs to be cleaned in order to travel? Clean clothes, clean van, a clean house, a clean pool. At least to travel with the least amount of stress during and after. I think the work to avoid the stress later is pretty stressful.

Also a bunch of lists: snacks to bring, stuff to buy, clothes to pack, entertainment to bring, people to talk to, bills to pay, "to do" when we get back home, "don't forgets", stuff for Bella's pet sitter...


I love lists but I need a list to keep track of my list lately!

We are looking forward to getting out of town. As much as I love seeing all our loved ones, my favorite part is usually the long conversations I can have with my dear sweet man. We get interrupted an awful lot, but we can pick the conversation back up more easily when we are stuck sitting next to each other. We do all kinds of reflecting, dreaming, and planning on these trips since we are usually in the car at least 10 hours. It's a wonderful perk to a really long day of travel. Thankfully our girls are good travelers since they've done it since they were tiny.

My next favorite part of these trips is getting to see my girls interacting with their extended family - grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, greats, cousins, Godparents. They are so blessed to have so many family members who really love them and enjoy spending time with them. I'm end up taking a back seat more and more as they forget all about me until I hunt them down for a healthy meal or bedtime. It is sweet.

I'm off to whittle away at those lists........

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

How do you school?

Our family's idea of how to school has been turned on its ear these last few months. I never imagined that I would ever seriously consider homeschooling. I've admired people who do, I've wondered "how do they do it?", I've had all the usual arguments about socialization, school activities, influence of other wise adults, "I'm not cut out for it", "my kids wouldn't like it", etc. I've always ended those discussions with "But, if God were to call me to it I would do it, I just don't feel called to do it right now."

Well, God seems to have called me to it. Much to our own amazement.

Here is some background for you. Our girls have been at a wonderful Christian school that cares very much about their character and the way they live out their own personal faith. Through the school our girls have gotten a very good start with A Beka's curriculum. It is affordable (as far as private school goes....).

But, we've always had in our hearts that we'd like to do a more Classical style of education. (If you'd like to learn more about it there is a great article about Classical education here.) We have prayed for our girls to have mastery of the tools they will need to learn anything as well as the ability to logically and articulately share it with others. We believe the ability to learn (or teach yourself) is a skill that is not valued in today's society. In today's world our information to comes in little, easily digested, sound bites and videos, rarely unbiased. The ability and desire to pursue knowledge and discover fallacies is disappearing. If it isn't on CNN or the Yahoo news page it isn't known. When you learn how to learn the dependence on others to tell you what you need to know is lessened. You are more able to discern truth from well constructed lies.

The world is becoming more and more about relativism with no absolute truth. The ability to discern truth and share about it articulately is not valued anymore. But it is vitally important if you are going to be able to stand firm in what you believe, not swayed with every new thought and theory that comes your way. It is the way many of the bright minds of the past were educated - think George Washington as one example. Just a short survey of the writings from the time of the American Revolution shows how well educated and grounded in their faith and beliefs our founding fathers were. (The Patriots Handbook by George Grant has some great examples.)

When children are born, they are born as sponges, ready to soak up and learn everything that comes in their path. They are particularly designed to memorize information. They memorize their mother's facial features as infants, they internalize the rules of how their family operates, they learn thousands of new words in short amounts of time. Memorization at this age, when they are adept at it, helps them to build those neural pathways that make learning easier the rest of their lives. It teaches them to store and easily retrieve large amounts of information. From the parts of speech, to the multiplication tables and on to the Periodic Table of Elements. All that information is permanently stored in their brains, ready and waiting for when they are in the "why" stage (middle school) and can logically piece it all together. Much in the same way that we know our ABC's and or the colors in the rainbow (ROY G BIV anyone?) they can learn a multitude of facts at this age.

We first learned about Classical Education when we were in Fort Worth, TX. Our hope has always been to find an equivalent school here in Florida. Unfortunately, the closest private schools that teach this way are an hour or more from our home, so it has been an impractical choice for our family. We've prayed about a school to open here, we've talked with our private school some about it, and we've even considered starting our own school (a very short discussion!). We actually thought we would be returning to Texas by now, so in the back of our minds we had hopes that we'd be in an area that had a classical school by time our oldest was in 3rd grade.

Obviously plans have not worked out as we expected. Mike is currently in a position that will leave us here for another several years. There still isn't a private school. But, there is a new homeschool option for Classical education called Classical Conversations. It is a co-op, kind of, where families work together to accomplish solidly nailing down what is needed in the "grammar stage": the vocabulary and grammar of math, science, history, English, Latin, music, and art. They'll also get to do some public speaking, science experiments, and participate in art enrichment as a part of a larger group of people. It meets once a week and the rest of the week is at home doing math, language arts, history, languages, and whatever else you want to supplement with. This group suddenly made the idea of teaching a Classical curriculum at home look "do-able" to me!.

This past year I have observed a good friend and neighbor while she taught her kids (ages 5, 8, and 11) this way. They have learned an amazing amount of information in a short 24 weeks. They readily and easily share what they've learned (the whole years worth!). I would have thought the kids would be bored with learning nearly a thousand facts but they have only good things to say about their experience.

I'm certainly aware of how much work this means for me. I also know that there will be bad days when I'm wondering why I signed up for this. But I also know that the call to do this is clear. I have no doubts (anymore!). We aren't looking to create little clones or intellectual snobs. We are hoping to impart a real love of learning along with the tools to do so. We want them to know that Christ is in everything, even math. I am excited about knowing well what my girls are learning each day. Being able to learn along with them in the areas where my own education has gaps. Teaching them things that excite all of us. Having more control of our schedule and the freedom to travel more often. Spending less on school expenses each year! Being able to move at the pace of learning that suits them individually (whether faster or slower). These are just some of the benefits I can see for our family. The homeschooling community here is strong and has great support from the community at large. I definitely won't have to go far when we need help.

So, our school this year will be at our dining table in the morning. Afternoons will be for PE, field trips, and extra-curricular activities. Our own little one-room schoolhouse.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tutus and slippers

Saturday was the big day. The whole reason they persevered in lessons all year. The Dance Recital. The day when they got to wear their pretty costumes, dance on stage, get bouquets, and best of all..... wear makeup!

Anna's dance was to "When I wish Upon a Star" and she was chosen (randomly) to be the fairy who woke the other fairies up with her wand. The spotlight shone on her first as she began to dance - how fun! She's grown so much in dance this past year. Her teacher says "She really gets it". Next year she is excited to continue to Ballet II and start Tap. She'd love to do Jazz too but there's only so much time......

Sarah's class were all in different costumes. Their theme was Stuffed Animals and she was a bumble bee. She was absolutely the most adorable bee you've ever seen. Watch out Jerry Seinfeld! She had such a big smile on during the performance and remembered everything. It is so awesome to see our shy Sarah shine on stage.

Little Miss Emily is anxiously awaiting when her own dance classes start next year. She was so attentive to all the dances during ALL the rehearsals AND the show. During intermission she danced up and down the aisles. I'm quite certain she was coveting some of the costumes she saw as well! This little one is in a leotard (or bathing suit substitute) half the day. When the big girls were getting into their costumes she made sure to put her own pretty leotard and slippers on so she could be ready for the recital too. You can be sure she wanted the coveted makeup as well but now she has something to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Meme inspiration

A meme from my friend at La Vida Dulce:

In your entire life, have you ever...

gone on a blind date? No

skipped school? Yes

watched someone die? Yes

been to Canada? yes

been to Mexico? Yes

been to Florida? uh...yeah :-)

been on a plane? Yes

been lost? Oh my goodenss, yes!

been on the opposite side of the country? Yes

gone to Washington, DC? Yes

swam in the ocean? Yes

had your booze taken away by the cops? Hmmmm...NO!

lettered in a high school sport? No

cried yourself to sleep? Yes

played cops and robbers? No

played dolls? Yes

recently colored with crayons? Yes

sang Karaoke? Never

paid for a meal with coins only? Yep

done something you told yourself you wouldn't? Gosh yes. I'm a sinner you know!

cheated on an exam? I don't think so but I know I've certainly been tempted

made prank phone calls? No - could never pull it off

laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose? Yes - yuck

caught a snowflake on your tongue? MMM HMMM

danced in the rain? No

written a letter to Santa Claus? Of course!

been kissed under the mistletoe? absolutely

watched the sunrise with someone you care about? Yes

been arrested? Never

blown bubbles? Yes

gone ice-skating? Yes, and my girls are getting interested in it now too.

been skinny dipping outdoors? No, too shy

had a nickname? Jess. I DO NOT like Jessie - too much Dukes of Hazzard growing up.

been to Africa? No

eaten cookies for dinner? And breakfast. And lunch. And snack. Cookies know no boundaries!

been on TV? Not that I know of.

stolen any traffic signs? No

been in a car accident? only fender benders.

What is your...

mother's name? Janis

favorite drink? Iced Tea

birthplace? Germany

favorite vacation spot? Mountains.

favorite salad dressing? My own vinegar and olive oil with seasoning.

favorite pie? Cherry

favorite number? 27

favorite movie? Sound of Music

favorite holiday? Easter

favorite food? mmm..... does chocolate count?

favorite day of the week? Saturday

favorite brand of body wash? Burts Bees ginger citrus

favorite toothpaste? Crest Complete

favorite smell? fresh bread baking

Do you have any...

tattoos? No, and I don't think I ever will....

body piercings? Ear lobes.

Do you drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4 door mini-van

What do you do to relax? Read, hang out with friends, watch a movie.

How do you see yourself in 10 years? Completely immersed in the hormones and needs of 3 teen aged girls!

Tag! You're it! If you play please comment and let me know where to find your meme!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sarah's Spotlight

Sarah has had a busy several weeks with Kindergarten Graduation and then turning SIX years old.

She is so quiet about school activities that we were very surprised to see she had a prominent role in the little play The Story of the Little Red Hen. In fact, she WAS the Little Red Hen. Who knew our little shy Sarah could stand in front of such a large audience and perform without the slightest nervousness. This Mama Hen and Papa Rooster were very proud of her.

A few days later her long awaited Birthday rolled around. She invited all her girlfriends to join her at the Dollar Movie to see Horton Hears a Who and then have sorbet and ice cream. I was very proud to hear her strenuously object to making her invitation list shorter because she didn't want anyone to be left out. She has such a tender heart for others. She doesn't seek the spotlight but is so gracious and kind when she finds herself in it.

This middle daughter of mine continually amazes me with her strength and determination. She simply won't give up. Of course, with certain situations that is frustrating as a parent, but we know that trait will help her go very far so we are doing our best to help guide her towards the wisdom to know when to let go. We see it most when she is applying herself to learning new things and also when she has to avoid gluten and dairy. Everyone tells me how amazed they are when she politely inquires whether what they are offering her eat is gluten and dairy free. When she isn't sure she abstains until she gets confirmation from me. Not every six year old is that self disciplined!

She is also very compassionate towards others. She is free with her hugs. Her smile lights up her whole face, making it impossible to not smile along with her. She has a strong interest in cooking and is usually at my elbow in the kitchen asking what she can do to help. She is also brave, valiantly jumping in at times when other kids would hang back and just watch.

Sarah has a lot of challenges but she never lets them stop her. Since she was a baby we've witnessed her determination and heart. We've heard many times about "middle child syndrome" but I've never had reason to worry about her. She can stand on her own and will make sure she gets what she needs without a lot of fanfare. No one could ever forget our Sarah!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meme Response

My blogging inspiration, La Vida Dulce has invited readers to participate in a Meme. Since I often wonder what I should post about I figured this might be fun for me and for you.

What were you doing ten years ago?
I was eagerly anticipating my first anniversary. We had just moved to Ft. Worth, TX about 5 months earlier. We were haggling with the landlord of our duplex about fixing the stove that had dead cockroaches in the ancient analog style clock, the dishwasher that worked better as a dish drainer, and the washing machine that wouldn't actually clean anything. We were about to leave on our first anniversary trip, a surprise planned by Mike that took us to Hot Springs, Arkansas. It seems like a million years ago!

What are 5 things on your to-do list?
1. Mending - Emily has several outfits that need to be taken in (skinny little thing....), a few missing buttons, a broken ribbon strap on Sarah's Easter dress.
2. Phone calls to the VBS coordinator and also to my co-ministry coordinator.
3. Menu and grocery list for week
4. Filing
5. Getting the outgrown toys and clothes out of the garage and into someone else's hands.

What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
1. chocolate - although that is more of a treat than a snack
2. homemade popcorn
3. crisp apple slices with peanut butter
4. Chips and salsa
5. cheese

What would you do if you were a millionaire?
Hmmmmm...... Donate more to the hungry and homeless through either Samaritan's Purse or Compassion International. Travel frequently
to see friends and family. Fully fund the accounts for the girl's college savings. Take care of the nagging maintenance issues in our house. If there was enough after those things I would remodel the kitchen and our bathroom.

Name some of the places you’ve called home.
Home is an interesting term. To me home is where my heart is, so I'd first have to say I haven't yet lived in the home that my heart yearns for the most- Heaven. Here on Earth though, home is definitely in the State of Texas. I've also lived in Germany, the Philippines, England, Finland, Maryland, and now Florida.

What are some of your bad habits?
Oh, the list is long although I'm trying to whittle away at it. I'll spare myself the deep public scrutiny and narrow it down to three. I tend to try to ignore problems in the hope they will magically disappear. I can get so lost in a book that I neglect what needs to be done until the book is finished. The only reason that doesn't get me into more trouble is because I do read very quickly. I'm a "picker". I hate - please don't be grossed out - scabs, stray hairs, anything that doesn't feel right and I have the scars to prove it. Unfortunately Emily seems to have inherited this tendency. I'm really trying to break these habits! Nothing like accountability to give you motivation.

What are some jobs you’ve held?
Gourmet food/coffee shop clerk (before Starbucks was even concieved). Veterinary Technician, Secretary at a group home organization for the mentally retarded, Pediatric RN

Who are you tagging?
Kellie already tagged most of the ones who actually read my blog (and have a blog themselves). I think littlepeanutkim might be willing though.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Bella vs The Squirrel


Guess what! On Sunday May 4th my mom saw Bella going all crazy near the pool. She said to us "look at Bella she's going crazy over something in the pool." We looked out the windo and we saw Bella going crazy over a squirrel. A squirrel had gotten through a hole in the screened in porch that we did not know about and had fallen into the pool. We went outside and looked at the squirrel for a few seconds. Then the squirrel got in the filter so we lifted the lid off the top and we saw the squirrel holding itself up by it's front claws on its back on the side of the filter. After that we looked for something we could use to get the squirrel out with. When we were searching my mom said, 'the squirrel is out" and we rushed outside. Sure enough the squirrel was out of the pool. My dad had got the squirrel out and was on the screen and my dad was chasing it with our pool brush. Finally it went back through the hole. "Finally", I said.

Monday, April 14, 2008

On Spring, Bugs, and an Eight Year Old

Isn't it amazing that cacti produce these gorgeous flowers? God knows how to protect his most beautiful creations with those unfriendly thorns. We found this particular one on a hike while camping this past weekend.

In other news, Anna celebrated 8 years of life on March 31st. She is so smart, eager to be independent, desires to know the Lord more, loves to shop and play with her sisters, is a good friend, and also beautiful. On her birthday she got to have a family celebration where she chose eggs, biscuits and gravy for breakfast and Papa Johns pizza and brownies for her dinner. She is really into wearing jewelry now so her Dad and I got her a little silver ring and necklace to match. It is hard to see but if you look carefully you can see the little ring on her right hand. She was very excited!

A few days later she had a howling good time with seven of her friends in a puppy/kitty themed sleep-over. My dear friend, Lianne, came over Friday night to help with crafts and then again Saturday morning to paint the girls as a cat or dog. They went home complete with ears and ID tags. It was a very busy night but loads of fun for everyone. I was very proud to see Anna encourage her friends to bring items to donate to the local animal shelter. (The picture is missing two girls who only stayed for the evening.)
In other good news, the cast came off last Thursday and she gets to resume bike and scooter riding this next weekend.

My dear friend, Lianne, after the big girls went home, allowed Emily to paint her to look like "The Bad Witch" from the Wizard of Oz. She's a pretty special friend to Emily to permit it. As demonstrated by the fact that she left and ran errands with her "black kitty" daughter around town for several hours before going home to wash. THAT is a pretty special love!

Camping at Little Manatee River State Park. It was buggy but fun was had by all. Then we came home Sunday to actually get some sleep. I don't know how anyone can do more than two nights in a tent! I'm going to invest in ear plugs and super strength bug spray before our next trip.

Sarah has lost her two middle bottom teeth and looks so cute. She is also sporting her new replacement glasses which we think are gorgeous. The new specs shows off her big beautiful blues to perfection.
Emily LOVED playing in the dirt. She was filthy. Her cute little pony tails were completely droopy by the end of the day after wearing a hat in the sweaty sun but she is still totally cute. Makes you want to just squeeze her! She was adamant at bedtime that she have her pjs and when it was morning she needed her clean clothes and a trip to the potty. The girl knows what she wants!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The tale of the wiggly tooth....

There was once a little girl who thought she had a wiggly tooth.

The problem was she was only 2 1/2. Her nearly 5 year old sister had just lost her wiggly tooth and she really wanted to have one too.

As the years went by her sister went on to lose EIGHT wiggly teeth but she never had a wiggly tooth, even as much as she tried to make it wiggle.

She began to give up on the thought of ever having one of her own. She despaired of ever getting to have a tooth fairy visit and a shiny new coin to put in the piggy bank.

Her friends each started to lose a tooth. Then two teeth. But she still couldn't wiggle a tooth. Mommy and Daddy assured her that someday it would happen to her too.

But finally! at age 5 1/2 she had two teeth that were wiggling!

She tested those teeth every day to see if they were wigglier. She gave a regular report on the status of those teeth. She gave them regular wiggles to make them looser.

Then one day, a few months later, one was wiggly enough to push forward a little with her tongue. The next day at school she was wiggling and one of her friends asked if she needed help taking it out. She declined their offer but accepted the offer of her teacher who popped it right out. The brave little girl, when asked if it hurt, shrugged and said "Not so much."

Hurray!! She has joined the ranks of the toothless kindergardners and first graders the world over. She gets to keep her tooth in the cute little tooth shaped box the school gave her and then leave it by her bed for the tooth fairy to trade for a shiny coin.

The wait is on for wiggly tooth number two....... and little 3 year old sister is already inspecting her mouth for a wiggly tooth......

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Beautiful Day

Our beautiful girls on a beautiful day.

I love Easter for so many reasons. It feels fresh and new. Maybe because Spring is popping up all over but I think it is the fresh realization that Christ's Resurrection freed me from my sin. A fresh slate of God's grace, available to me anytime I ask, but first realized on that beautiful morning when Mary when to visit the tomb of Jesus and found he wasn't there. He died on the cross that black Sabbath morning, carrying all my sins, and then rose again on the third day after conquering ALL sin, mine included. How can I not feel fresh and renewed when considering that awesome gift!?

I also love that the holiday is less about consumerism and more about just enjoying. (And chocolate.)

I love dressing up, sometimes in a new outfit for me, but usually something new for our girls. They are so excited to put on their beautiful new dresses and twirl around for our viewing pleasure. Their joy is plainly visible in their smiles and the extra bounce in their steps.

I never fail to cry during the worship service on Easter Morning. The songs, usually familiar, stir such an intense joy mingled with an fresh realization of how much my sin cost my Savior. Our church usually has an outdoor service so all three services are worshiping together in a large tent with a booming sound system. Your whole body gets into it! One older gentleman had such a real joy that he couldn't help BOUNCING like Tigger during one of the worship songs. Beautiful.

Following our service we ran home to wrap up the preparations for three couples who came over to enjoy an Easter ham with all the trimmings. Fun conversation, happily sugared children playing, yummy food. MMMMMMM.

A beautiful day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Break

Kids are amazing creatures. How did God make them so tough and at what point in their lives does it wear off? We've experienced first hand this week how tough our oldest can be.

Anna fell on her right arm (she's left handed, thankfully) a week ago and complained of some discomfort that day but showed no other symptoms or complaints.

On Tuesday the 11th she fell on it again. This time apparently it really hurt and she went to the school office crying. She got an ice pack and was seemingly fine after that. So fine, in fact, she forgot to tell me she had fallen on it again until about 6 that night. It was obviously swollen but tender only when pressure or weight was applied to it. She had full range of motion in her hand and wrist and no discoloration (says Mommy RN who poked and prodded her every which way, poor thing!). We iced it again and decided to re-evaluate again in the morning.

Wednesday morning it was still swollen but still no complaints from "Miss Tuffy". After icing it again I was tempted to just send her off to school with a kiss and maybe an ace bandage but we didn't have an ace bandage. Surely if it was serious it would hurt more, right?

Then the two halves of me began to debate each other.

From the pediatric RN side - "she's not showing any signs of major pain, she has full range of motion."

From the Mommy side - "But it's still swollen and it could be sprained. What if it is actually broken?"

From the RN side - "Maybe it's best to just get it looked at to be sure."

From the Mommy side - "So the paranoid Mommy shows up at the doctors office again for something that turns out to be nothing?"

Finally the two halves merged and I made an appointment with the pediatrician for 1:30, after bible study and before school got out. I sent her on to school with an admonishment to not play hard on the playground and a note to the teacher about why.

When I picked her up I asked her how her arm felt, she said "ok. I did the monkey bars".

"What!????" "What in the world made you want to do that?"

To which she replied, "It only hurt the tiniest little bit and I only did two bars".


The pediatrician looked at it and was undecided but, based on where she was tender, it was worthwhile to get an x-ray. So, off to the imaging center we all went (me and all three girls). An hour and a half later the films were done and lo and behold, it was a serious break to her distal radius. In non medical speak that is the end of the large bone in the forearm, closest to the wrist.


Mommy side kicked in here and was immediately thinking, "OK, we've got to get a cast on this quick". The orthopedic office, however, was perfectly comfortable with giving us an appointment for the next day at 2 PM.

Anna woke up today as excited as Christmas morning that today was the day she'd get "The Cast". I was praying that it would be a simple cast and not need setting, or worse, surgery.

In the end she got her much anticipated light blue, fiberglass, waterproof, short arm cast without much ado. The Orthopedist was impressed that she was not in more pain considering the extent of the injury, but says it isn't uncommon for kids. He said if it happened to an adult we'd have huge swelling and tons of pain.

She is so excited to have everyone sign it and to get to show it off to her friends and classmates. I'm glad she has such a great perspective about it all! I'm just amazed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm Alive! I'm Alive!

I have been sick since I last wrote on this blog.

It started out with a cough after a morning run in heavy pollen on a Tuesday. Within 4 days I was feeling cruddy and a fever soon followed and lasted the whole weekend. I thought I was finally on the mend on the 29th when we had a full day of Doctor appointments for Sarah and then a visit to a used car dealer (we replaced the Toyota! Details to follow). By time we got home that night I was in bed with a fever again that lasted all weekend (again). When the doctor's office finally opened on Monday I got the diagnosis of bronchitis and a serious sinus infection. Another 4 days or so later I finally had a little energy again. That was three weeks of my life during which I simply felt grateful when I could manage to stay out of bed for a while. Needless to say I missed that half marathon I was registered for on March 2nd.

Praise God for having good health on most days. Between seeing all the *really* sick children at the Children's Hospital and then having my own extended illness, I am really really grateful for the fact that I am a healthy person!! The nasty nasty cough and sinus drainage is finally clearing up. Now my rib cage needs to heal - I think I broke one with all that coughing!!

The bright spot in the last few weeks is that we found a used 2003 Honda Odyssey with leather, DVD, and only 46,500 miles on it. Now that we've done some needed routine maintenance on it we are praying for it to hold up at least as well as the Toyota.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Time travel

My oldest daughter has been given the challenge by her ballet teacher to be able to do a split by Easter so we've been stretching together every day. I need the extra flexibility too so it is working out well for me too.

Last night as we were stretching I was reminded that I have a picture from "way back when" of me in my flag girl uniform doing a split. I wanted to prove to my nearly 8 (going on 24) year old daughter that I could actually do one once. You know, that I do know a little bit about what I am talking about...... even thought I don't get anywhere near a real split anymore.

I never found that picture but I found a few other ones that brought back all kinds of memories. I thought it might be fun to share two that I found with y' all. Today I'm not going quite as far back as being able to do the "real" splits. Just to the era of being a mother of "just one".

This is the weekend the Mommies went away and the Daddies were in charge. Oh! It was a such a sweet weekend. I honestly can't remember when this was, just that I'm certain my daughter must have been more than a year old because I didn't leave her while I was still nursing her (unlike sisters #2 and #3). I am so proud of these Daddies for stepping up to the plate so readily so the Mommies could have a retreat together. I bet they didn't realize what they helped get started! Such incredible blessings have come from this gathering of young Christian mothers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Unhappy Raccoon

This is a picture that was pasted on my husband's office window recently.

"Why?" You ask. Well, my husband has a reputation for being a practical jokester in the office, but this is one that was turned around on him. In fact, the whole story is one that is destined to go down in family lore.

Let's go back to the beginning.

My husband, since January, has been in a position that requires a lot of traveling around the state. Oftentimes he is coming home after dark. Last Thursday night my sweet man called to check in and tell me he was about an hour away from home. About 15 minutes later he called again and I had a sudden sense of dread.

He started out by reminding me of a conversation we had recently about how the Lord always provides what we need financially even when it ends up diverting money away from something we had planned. My first thought was "Thank goodness he didn't say he was in an accident" and the very next thought and question was "Did you get a ticket?".

"No," he said very slowly, "I just hit a raccoon and it took half my bumper off".

"Are you serious!?"


"Are you ok?"


A let out a huge sigh of relief and when he got home we both marveled at the kind of damage an animal can do to your car. We both praised God that he didn't lose control of his car, that it didn't cause any worse damage or any other accidents on busy Interstate 75.

The next morning we called his company who informed us that it is our responsibility to cover the cost of repairs since they do encourage people to rent cars for long trips (which, of course, he will definitely be doing from now on!).

The next call was to our auto insurance agent. This is where it gets interesting so bear with me....

After my husband explained what happened the agent said "Is there fur on the bumper?"


"Is there fur on the bumper. There is a lot of fraud from people claiming to have hit an animal when they actually ran into something. Comprehensive deductibles are cheaper than Collision so they lie to get the lower deductible."

Unfortunately neither we, nor the repair shop found any fur. Or blood. Too bad there aren't kits sold to find occult blood of raccoon on bumpers and CSI is probably not interested in helping us out with this.

So, to cover our bases, we drove back down to the Scene of the Crime to take pictures and hopefully find some proof that it was, indeed, an animal that caused the damage.

As my husband was standing along I75 with cars whizzing by so fast that the van was rocking, Emily and I were sitting inside the van, watching as he picked up the strewn pieces of his bumper and took pictures of the dead offending animal. We were completely amazed that it was still there, right on the side of the road 17 hours after the accident. It must have looked like a peaceful and sweet critter to Emily who asked "Mommy, can I get out and pet the Kitty". I smiled and explained that it wasn't a kitty, it was the raccoon that hurt Daddy's car. She then said "OH! It is dead then. Yucky!" It truly looked as if it had just stopped to take a nap on the side of the road.

To top the whole scenario off, just as Mike had loaded the last piece of his bumper into the back of the van he found a piece of the jaw just laying there right by the passenger door of the van. He grabbed a plastic baggy and, turning it inside out like a glove over his hand, grabbed it and enclosed it in the bag as further proof for the insurance company. You can imagine the reaction that got from our 7 year old daughter! "EWWW!!!!" and then immediately "Can I see it?!!!!".

When the insurance adjuster finally made it over to the body shop he didn't even make an issue about whether it was really an animal that was hit. I had to ask him if he needed proof and he calmly said, "No, I've hit 2 deer and 2 racoons in my lifetime, I can tell that's what this is."

OK. "Are you sure you don't want to see the proof we drove 2 hours round trip to get?"


Moral of the story -
When you hit an animal on the highway going 75 MPH stop long enough to take pictures and throw the critter in the trunk. You might need it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Emily!

Happy Birthday sweet girl! I am really not ready for you to be three years old yet. You are my baby. Yet you keep marching on toward becoming the big girl you talk so much about. Your birthday party theme of Princess fits you in so many ways. You love fashion, you love people, you have a tender heart toward those who are hurting, and best of all, you already know that the best kind of Princess is to be a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God's little Princess. I am so very proud to be your Mommy.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Out with the Old

The old pink and green couches are gone. In with the new leather couch and cute little target chairs.

Out with the old rack and pinion steering system on our ten year 180,000 mile old van. In with the new one, followed soon by the timing belt and quite possibly (as a result) a newer minivan. Out with that pesky amount of money that didn't have a known purpose before.

Out with the old vacation plan of Europe or Wine Country or Canada and in with the new, as yet unknown, vacation plan (or not).

Out with "I plan to...." and in with "God's plan is....". It's guaranteed to be bettter so why does it come as such a shock to learn my plan isn't the same as his?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Falling Apart

What is it that causes things to start disintegrating all at the same time?

For example. I've been running (regularly) for about 1 year and 10 months. I've had my ups and downs but with regularly scheduled chiropractor visits I'm still hanging in there. This week I've had an unexpected and unexplained, new (as opposed to old familiar), pain in my shins and calves. To the point where I actually had to *gasp* break down and take medicine just so I could walk without wincing. This coincided within days of my left wrist unexpectedly and unexplainedly beginning to hurt in any position I had it. This is bad guys!

Thankfully the Chiropractor adjusted my wrist (carpal tunnel apparently) and it's mending. Some rest and massage are helping my legs. Is this what its like once you've crossed over that magic number 35?

In addition, as I was giving my house a good thorough cleaning this week I found a dozen things new items to add to our home maintenance list. Good grief! That list was already long enough Thank You Very Much! The hot water heater and the sprinkler system repairs took an unexpected chunk out this month already. Oh, I almost forgot the silly automatic pool cleaner that took a piece too.

My van is leaking power steering fluid in the floor of the garage.

It seems unexpected expenses happen every year right about the time the Tax Refund comes in. Is it just me?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Help me out here...

I haven't completely forgotten that I have a blog. I've actually been thinking about it quite a lot. I can feel the neglect of this blog project I've started with the same keenly guilty conscience that I have about my scrapbooks right now.

SO, since I haven't been able to come to a full conclusion in my own mind on this matter, I'm calling you to help me out.

Dilemma One:
Who actually reads this? I think it is about 6 people (if I'm counting correctly). I'm not sure anyone else actually has the time or interest to do so. I have a hard time getting replies to just emails and those actually arrive at someone's inbox and don't have to be searched out.

Dilemma Two:
I've read that a blog needs a focus. An area of personal interest that may also interest readers. Here are my main "passions", if you will.
a. My own personal relationship with God.
b. Being a wife and a mother at home as well as staying connected with extended family and friends.
c. Ministering to women - fellowshipping with, teaching, learning with, hanging out with, growing with. Especially wives and mothers but also raising little women since I have three in my own house!
d. Physical fitness and health - I've been regularly exercising for 2 1/2 years and running for nearly two. I've done several 5Ks, two half marathons and two half marathons. I have another half marathon scheduled March 3rd. I am an RN but also have an interest in "alternative/holistic/natural/preventative medicine.
e. Travel - I love to go places and hear about others travels. Missions and Missionaries are fascinating to me as well.
f. Reading - I'll read the shampoo bottle if that is all that is handy. I LOVE to read.
g. I have a growing interest in finance and money management as well.

I don't know if I can write enough on just one of these topics and not bore you silly or write so infrequently that you lose interest. How do I narrow the focus down or create the thread that ties it all together and makes someone want to come back to check out what is new?

Dilemma Three - as I previously posted, I love dialogue. I don't want to just "run at the mouth" on a public blog without feedback. Maybe if the first two dilemma's are resolved this one will eventually work out as more people (hopefully) read.

My ultimate desire is for a forum like this to be a place where I can share what is going on in my life, in my head, and in my heart and for others to blessed by it. I don't want to just talk to the wind.

Do you have any insight for me?

In closing , I'll put a few fun pictures on here because this is the only place I seem to "scrapbook" in any form lately!
Gingerbread men, a tradition since 1992

New PJ's on Christmas Eve, a tradition carried on from my family

January 13th
Proof that you never know what you'll get weather-wise in Florida in January! Emily wanted to wear her new "winter" dress and Sarah decided to wear last year's halter style Easter dress. Emily was dressed for the calendar and Sarah was dressed for the temperature. Who were we to argue?! The extra little girl was Sarah's friend who came to sleep over the night before.