Friday, August 31, 2007

Switching Loyalties

Well, we finally did it.  After a couple of years of waiting 10 minutes for it to boot up, getting frustrated as our wireless often lost connection and knowing that our computer was going to die a long, slow, painful death, we replaced our decrepit, sluggish PC with a sleek, ultra-fast, beautiful MacBook.
Oh.  My.  Lands.

I think I understand the love for all things Apple.  You people sure were on to something way before we were...

I can do so many things I haven't been able to do... like watch YouTube and listen to Big Mama and BooMama's podcast - you know, the really important stuff in life.

If you're a MacBook owner and have any hints or suggestions that you would like to pass on to me, I'm all ears.  


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Creating Good Readers

Kathryn at Daring Young Mom posted a great post about ways that she is instilling the love of reading into her kids. Then she opened it up for our suggestions. When I noticed that my comment turned into a college thesis, I decided that I should just do my own post on it.

I worked at Barnes and Noble for several years because of my love for books. Mr. Right and I made sure that we brought the kids to the store often just so that they could get used to books. And as a bonus, we took them to as many “Story Time Readings” that we could. It helped that I did the readings, too. (And if you know anything about me, you know I didn’t just read the book… I gave each story life as it was being read. I sang when the character sang. I growled when the character was upset. I yelled and screamed with fright if the characters were scared out of their socks. In other words, I made it fun and exciting to read books.)

Both of my children love to read, and I know that we, Mr. Right and I had something to do with it. It helped that both of us have degrees in education, but more than that, we ourselves have a love for the written word.

I have several tips that helped foster a love of reading in my children.

  • Set the expectation. If your children understand that reading is important early in their lives, then the chances are greater that they will come to realize its beauty. It's the same with discipline; you have to let them know what you want them to do in order for them to head in the right direction.
  • Lead by example. I let them see me reading and taught them to have respect my read time. I even have sent them away if they tried to interrupt my read time. (The non-emergency times, of course.)
  • When I read with them, I give the characters funny voices and show them that they can use their imagination when getting into a book. (You can see why I was given the task of story time at work…)
  • We set aside special read times. 30 minutes before bed is Mr. Right's special time with both kids. That’s right – Mr. Right knows the importance of encouraging reading, plus it gives him a bond with the kids. The kids look forward to knowing that when Daddy gets home, it’s their special time to read with him.
  • We have a rule that works for older kids. Our Girl isn't allowed to see a book-turned-movie until she has read the book. Fortunately for us, this tip has worked with all the Harry Potter books/movies. For HP 4, she was finishing the book on the way to the theater. She finished the 5th book just in time for the 5th movie, which turned out to be part of her birthday present. (She has been a reader of them since 1st grade, and she made a deal with herself to read a HP book for each grade. I don't know what she's going to do when she reaches 8th grade...) We will do the same for the Boy, especially now that he’s older and has movies that interest him. From what I understand, Ben 10 is going to have a TV movie coming out soon, and he’s going to have to earn his viewing pleasure by reading some Ben 10 books.
  • Get books that interests them. My Boy is all about Star Wars, Ben 10, Transformers or many different fantasy series such as Magic Tree House or The Secret of Droon. I can persuade him to read more when he is interested in the storyline or characters.
  • Give books as presents. Try giving books that were thrilling to you when you were a kid. Books don’t really go out of date, so sharing a favorite of yours will open you up to your child a little more. I’ve found that they’ve loved reading books that meant something to me. When I told the Girl that I adored Witch of Blackbird Pond, she read it and then encouraged many of her friends to read it, stating that “even my Mom loved this book.”
  • Or, better yet, give them gift cards to bookstores. Then make a big deal out of their getting to pick their own books. My kids LOVE going to the bookstore now, especially when they know that they get to pick out something special for themselves. The books that they pick out seem to be taken off the bookshelf just a little bit more. I’d like to give a word of caution though: Not every book for children deserves to be in print. Don’t let your kids pick out worthless, grammatically incorrect books with no redeeming factors. Guide their selection based on the value of the book and great writing. I see no need for us to provide poorly written material to our kids when we’re striving to teach them that English is important in all avenues of communication.
  • When you take them to the bookstore, give them time to read or peruse books. If they're not rushed, they'll learn to enjoy the beauty and thrill of books.
  • When they do finish a chapter or a book, talk about the book with them. You can build a great relationship with your children by asking them what happened in the book, how situations made them feel, what they think would happen if there was a sequel. Plus, it shows them that books are meant to be interactive, discussed, dwelt upon for time to come. It encourages them to take reading to a deeper level.

My book suggestions for little kids are as follows:

Escape of Marvin the Ape
Click, Clack, Moo
Moo, Baa... La, La, La
The Monster At The End of the Book
Love You Forever (You’ve GOT to sing the momma’s song!)
Guess How Much I Love You
The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down
The Pig In the Pond
10 Minutes to Bedtime
The Kissing Hand
Green Eggs and Ham
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
Charlotte’s Web
Eric Carle books
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Giraffes Can’t Dance
The Paper Bag Princess

For older kids:

Harry Potter series
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chronicles of Narnia series
Pink and Say
A Wrinkle in Time
Because of Winn Dixie
Number the Stars

The Giver
Bridge to Terabithia
Sarah Plain and Tall
How To Eat Fried Worms
Tuck Everlasting
The Secret Garden

The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown
Ida B... and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster and (Possibly) Save the World

These, of course are not complete lists, but they are just an inkling of all the great books that are waiting to be read on library and bookstore shelves. Who knows? These books may even encourage you to pick up a book a little more often than you do now.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WFMW - GLAD Simply Cooking Bags

I was sent 3 GLAD Simply Cooking Microwave Steaming Bags (click link to visit GLAD site) and all I can say is I really, really like them.

These little babies easily hold a 16 oz. bag of frozen vegetables perfectly. All I had to do was add the frozen veggies to a well designed bag (it didn't flop over or close while adding the vegetables), seal the ziplock top and microwave for the suggested time on the package. These bags are made to allow the vegetables to steam in their own juices, making them tender, juicy, flavorful and colorful. I added no water, dirtied no pots or pans and I had an instant storage container at the end of the meal.

The only thing I did wash was the bag. They are completely reusable, making them a bit more worth the cost, which is about $3 for 10 bags.

And the bags aren't subject to frozen food alone. They can be used to cook fresh vegetables and meats as well. The bags are recommended for preparing and storing foods, reheating leftovers and in par cooking.

If you're looking for an easy no-mess way to cook foods that are chocked full of great natural flavor, then I suggest that you give the GLAD Steaming Bags a try.

Now head on over to Shannon's for some truly wonderful ideas.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Life Lesson - Faith Like A Child

Well, for the record, yesterday's post was a bust. For some reason, I could not get the Hoops and Yoyo page to work from the blog. It was really cute too. And it really reeks because I was going to do a whole series on manners using them... Grrr. I'm going to keep trying because I think it would be a fun way to teach us some lessons.


I don't mind posting these life lessons. It's when they are learned first hand that they're harder to take.


Last week, the kids and I were hurrying so that we could make an appointment on time. As it was, I had already caused tears of heartache just by yelling at the kids, the girl in particular. I did some major backtracking, apologizing to my girl and admitting that I was entirely at fault. She fortunately forgave me quickly.

So then I hurried everyone into the car, speeding down backroads in order to make up lost time. A couple of times I thought of turning up other streets, but I decided to go to the last road to make the best time - only when I got to the last road, I found it closed due to road repairs. Arrrg! You should have heard the grumbling I was voicing in the car. It was loud. It was very complaining. It was gruff.

Out of the backseat, I hear the girl say, "It's okay, Mom. God's just protecting us somehow."

As I bit my tongue to keep from snapping at her, I thought that she was actually right. If I trust God to take care of me in all things, then that would have to include this obstacle. I thanked her for her wisdom and continued with a lighter heart.

Until... I realized we weren't going to make our dinner plans either due to the detour. Then I began grumbling again. I pulled into McDonald's because we had to have some dinner prior to our appointment. Seeing that the drive thru line extended all the way to Texas, I thought I would run into the restaurant to quickly grab the food.


I waited ten minutes to get that food. Ten minutes for three hamburgers and two fries. I guess everyone in the drive thru was more important than the customers at the counter. So as I grabbed my food and ran out the door, I entered the car doing what? You got it - complaining. I complained about the wait, about the line, about how late we really were going to be. I didn't even make it out of the parking lot before the girl piped in, "Mom, it's okay! At least we have food to eat and our food is really fresh. God's got it all figured out."

And she was right. Gosh I wish I had a trusting heart like hers.

As we're traveling north, I asked the kids to pray that we would hit all greens, which we did. I gave a prayer of thanks for allowing us to make great time through town.


I saw the traffic on the interstate. S L O W E R T H A N M O L A S S E S ON A VERY COLD DAY. And guess what I did again? Go on. You'll never guess.

Oh, well. I guess you can.

I started complaining AGAIN. I actually said that I just couldn't catch a break... after making all those lights and having fresh food and having a wonderful Jiminy Cricket in my backseat. I am such an idiot.

Again the girl piped, "Mom, when are you going to get it that God has got everything under control? It's okay that we're here in this traffic. It's okay if we're going to be late. It's just okay."

I looked back at that sincere face which was full of trust and it hit me. I need faith like a child. Or a tweener in this case. To be that trusting and that hope-filled in the face of trials is the essense of perfect peace. And she was absolutely right. Everything was absolutely okay.

I just hope she remembers that the next time she whines that she has a bookbag full of homework.

Oh, and our appointment? Yeah, it started half an hour later than what I thought. If that's not God having a bit of fun with me, then I don't know what it is. That will teach me to think that I've got anything under control.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Manners

I don't know about you, but it seems that manners are missing in many of today's kids. Heck, it's missing from many of today's adults!

So in hopes of educating young and old alike in the ways that they should go, I'd like to introduce some simple, yet effective reminders to aid us all in the was of great manners. And I'm going to use none other that Hoops and Yoyo to make it fun and exciting! Now, let the lessons begin!

Lesson 1

Opening a door

As you go about your day, see if you can put this wonderful lesson into practice with your family or, better yet, with a stranger. Perhaps you can make someone else stop and think about doing a great thing for someone else.

(For this month's manners lesson for my children, we are teaching the boy to get the girl's car door and for her to accept his act of service with grace and thankfulness. As the month has progressed, the boy IS remembering to do it on his own and the girl is learning to wait for him. Such a beautiful thing to see...

And as we were going to lunch yesterday, we had a female friend of the boy's in the car with us. When we were walking into the restaurant, the boy pulled me aside and said with sadness, "Mommy, I forgot to get Rachel's door." I assured him that it was okay, but that maybe this feeling of remorse will help him to remember to get it for her next time. His countenance brightened, and he said, "Yeah! I can get it for her next time!" And then he ran to beat her into the eating establishment. Sigh... Well, it's a start. It's a start.)

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Prayer Update

Thank you for the prayers on my mom's behalf.

After the surgery, it was discovered that she had a hernia, which the doctor was able to repair at that time. She is back at home under strict orders to take it easy for a month.

Just between you and me, that's like asking Godzilla to not knock down buildings as he passes through towns.

So if you'll pray that she'll actually listen and not go all "I'm a Woman. I have too much to do to just lay around the house all day," I would appreciate that.

And so would my dad.

Oh, and as an added bonus, the doctor told her to gain 10 pounds. Ha! She gets a free pass to eat all the hot fudge sundaes she wants.

Life is just on fair sometimes...

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Life Lesson - Sacrifice

Again, would you mind saying a prayer for my mom? She goes in for exploratory surgery this morning for pain that she's been having in her abdomen. Her name is Cora and she means so much to me, even if I don't tell her enough. Thanks in advance for being prayer warriors on her behalf.


Many years ago, when a woman worked as a volunteer at a hospital, she got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. The little boy hesitated for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her."

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as the medical team did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?"

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

(Lord, let me remember that my brother Jesus gave all of his blood for me. The least I can do is to follow his example to give all of me for others. Teach me to do so with a joyful, grateful heart.)

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Life Lesson - Challenges

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.

Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

(Lord, please teach me to see all conditions in my life as a learning lesson from you. Make my grumbling heart keep silence and let praise for you be heard by all those around me no matter my situation at that time. Help me to always find treasure to take away from the obstacles that you put before me. Let me also remember that the biggest room in this world is the room for improvement.)

Speaking of challenges, would you mind saying a prayer for my mom? She goes in for exploratory surgery tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM for pain that she's been having in her abdomen. Her name is Cora and she means so much to me, even if I don't tell her enough. Thanks in advance for being prayer warriors on her behalf.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Life Lesson - Putting Others First

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.

"Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away.

The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn't have the sundae because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

(Lord, please change my selfish heart to think of others and their needs. Make me want to be generous and free with the gifts that you've given me - which of course is everything.)


Monday, August 20, 2007

Life Lesson - Serving Others

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960's. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read:

Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole

(Lord, please make me aware of ways I can help others without any expectation of thanks. Let my willingness to serve anyone in need bring you glory.)


Life Lesson - Respect

During a student's second month of college, his professor gave them a pop quiz.

The boy was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until he read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

He thought, "Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name?" He handed in his paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely, " said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello.'"

He never forgotten that lesson. He also learned her name was Dorothy.

(And the janitor at my building is Don.)

(Lord, please help me to remember that no one is to be considered beneath me - from the janitor to my coworkers, from my superiors to the homeless or from those who are blessed beyond measure to those who have made poor life choices. They are all made in your image and deserve to be valued.)


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Washington Post's Mensa Invitational

I cannot find the validation of this contest, but I have to admit, it should be one if it isn't!

Here is the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

  1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

  2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an (censored)

  3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

  4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly

  5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

  6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid

  7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

  8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

  9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late

  10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness

  11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

  12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you

  13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

  14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly

  15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web

  16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out

  17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating

  18. Discomboobulated (adj.)to be confused and stupid, simultaneously

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

  1. coffee, n. the person upon whom one coughs

  2. flabbergasted, adj. appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained

  3. abdicate, v. to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach

  4. esplanade, v. to attempt an explanation while drunk

  5. willy-nilly, adj. impotent

  6. negligent, adj. absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown

  7. lymph, v. to walk with a lisp

  8. gargoyle, n. olive-flavored mouthwash

  9. flatulence, n. emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller

  10. balderdash, n. a rapidly receding hairline

  11. testicle, n. a humorous question on an exam

  12. rectitude, n. the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists

  13. pokemon, n. a Rastafarian proctologist

  14. oyster, n. a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms

  15. Frisbeetarianism, n. the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there

  16. circumvent, n. an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Math Lesson

If you have one girl confused about homework and one telephone, how long will it take for her to get someone else to do it?

This clip just makes me laugh time and time again. I'd want my kids to see it except that would be putting this idea in their heads! They can get into enough trouble on their own.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

There She Goes. There She Goes Again.

New school.

New teachers.

New clothes.

New friends.

New experiences.

She doesn't need me as much as I wish she did. She's growing, maturing, changing. As anxious as she is to test her wings, I'm as anxious about her new flight. I can only sit back and give her pointers. I can't fly for her.

It frightens me how quickly time is passing. Where once a playful, small toddler stood, now stands a lithe, witty, beautiful young girl. Before she looked to us for hugs, snacks and kisses on owies; now she looks to us for strength, wisdom, encouragement, physical affection, love, security and pocket money. I remember her first attempts at walking, but one day entirely too soon, she'll walk out our door, heading out on her own two feet, facing her own challenges and living her own dreams.

But for now, I'll keep this sweet, funny girl safe under my wing for as long as she'll let me. I'll pray God's protection and guidance for her, that she'll learn many of life's lessons without deep scars, that she can learn to love herself for the beautiful girl that is.

I'm watching closely from afar, like a middle schooler prefers.

But not too afar.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

WFMW - Foot Flush

Want a "handy" gadget which will get your kids to remember to flush the toilet when they've finished in the bathroom?

Install a Foot Flush (click on link to find one for yourself) on your toilet. It is a hands-free, germ-free toilet flushing device for your bathroom. It's super easy to install (I did it in 2 minutes flat), fun to use and, most importantly, it will get your kid to flush when he's done. (You potty training moms? The reward of flushing may just be the extra trick in your bag that you've been missing.)

Installation was a snap. Three quick steps and voila! Instant flushing with my foot. No tools were needed. No masters in physics either. As a matter of fact, the hardest part about the entire task was getting the stupid box open. I may not have needed a PhD in anything, but I probably could have used a month's worth of weightlifting at the gym...

I only wish that it would become common practice for all toilets to have this handy dandy little feature. I use my foot to flush public toilets anyway, so it makes all the more sense to have it set with a foot "handle" anyway. Anything that lessens my chance of touching germs (even though I wash my hands after I use the facilities) is a winner in my book.

My kids love to use it. They both give it two feet up.

Head on over to Shannon's for a bunch of other great tips.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Bye Bye Redbird

We finally got our kids back and we did what any American parents who have been separted from their kids for months would do... WE LEAVE TOWN! Because really... WHAT'S ONE MORE DAY AWAY FROM HOME?! Ummm, yeah.

We were blessed with a set of tickets to the Cardinals game again for last Saturday's game which started around 3 PM. So we got up, ate a healthy breakfast of chocolate covered and powdered mini-donuts. (Hey, I woke up at 3:30 am, couldn't go back to sleep, so I decided to go Walmarting. Those donuts jumped into my cart by the time I made it out of the store... You try to resist their call at 4:30 in the morning...)

Anyway we decide to leave early enough to hit one of the kids' favorite places which we discovered last year while in St. Louis: the Old Spaghetti Factory. They were excited about the prospect of yummy garlic bread, great food and neat old-time surroundings.

We arrived and our waiter looked like a cross between a classic Italian and this most recent Superman. He was a very handsome young man. But something about him seemed put off or down, I noticed right away. I made sure to thank him for everything and to show appreciation for his service. And I wasn't the only one. Mr. Right, the girl and the boy all chimed in with kindness. I told Mr. Right that our waiter seemed as if he was having a bad day. He agreed with my assessment, and we just tried to not add to his burden.

At the end of the meal, our waiter came to make sure we were all finished. He turned to leave, took five steps and then did a U-turn, arriving back at our table. He said, "I know we're not supposed to talk about our customers, but I have to tell you something. I was having a really bad day, but your family has really been a delight to serve. Thanks for putting back faith in good people."

And that made the entire trip worthwhile... I'll let you use your imagination as to how many good conversations we had with the kids on the way to the game.

We made it to the stadium just in time. Although it was a 100 degree day, the time outside wasn't miserable. We had brought frozen water bottles and a softsided cooler filled with ice to quench our thirst, grapes and cherries to help with hydration and hunger and little fans to cool us off. God provided several soft breezes which went a long way to comfort us. (The only down side was that we sweated in our seats so much, we looked as if we had peed our pants whenever we stood up.)

And God gave us a great seatmate for the duration of the game. She had a water sprayer with a fan and she kept spritzing those around her to let others cool off too. At one point, the boy said quite loudly, "That lady is so kind to do that. She's quite generous." (But when I tried to encourage him to tell her, he clammed up. Well, it's a start.)

We enjoyed our time, fellowship with those around us and the game itself. It helped that they actually had three homeruns which we got to witness first hand. And it really was a blessing to be at a winning game. That always adds to some of the joy in attending a professional game.
And if anyone's keeping track, you may want to invite Mr. Right and I to very important sport games. We've recently realized that almost every profession sports game we've attended resulted in a win. (The two we attended were for the Royals... and really, you can't expect miracles all the time.)
We made it back home that night, safe and sound. Now we have the wonderful task of convincing the kids that they can go to bed at 9 PM and they'll still live. It's good to be together again. It's good to be a family.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

She Shoots. She Scores.

I told Mr. Right on Wednesday night that I was pulling out all the stops for the kids' first meal back. I was going to surprise them with MAC AND CHEESE! HOMEMADE! They WILL love me again even if they're craving Grandma's house.
This morning when we were having breakfast, the girl looked at me and sweetly asked, "Mom, would you PLEASE make your homemade macaroni and cheese?" The boy cheered his agreement.
I just beamed and told them that it was already on the menu. Then they did a victory dance. It's now deemed the mac dance, and it's a lively one.
I wish you could have been at the table at dinner tonight. My kids oozed thanks and praise over this dish.
"Mom, this is the best macaroni and cheese in the WHOLE WORLD!"
"If there was a mac and cheese contest in the neighborhood, you would beat everyone hands down!"
"When I grow up, I want to cook just like you."
Move over, Grandma. The Mom is back in town.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007


  1. Footsteps on the stairs
  2. Laughter in the hall
  3. Unexpected kisses
  4. "Indoor voices..."
  5. Nagging to get teeth brushed
  6. Manners reminders
  7. Non-stop storytelling
  8. Hearing "Guess what?" four times in the spanse of five minutes
  9. Stopping someone from tattling
  10. Secrets whispered
  11. Plans solidified
  12. Cute little tushes running through the house
  13. Yelling to keep someone from pestering another
  14. Bedtime snack of homemade cookies from Grandma
  15. Pouting/whining
  16. Reminders of how we don't allow pouting/whining in our house
  17. Huge hugs
  18. Playful teasing
  19. Reminders to obey the first time
  20. Doors shutting more firmly than they should be shut
  21. Sudden smiles
  22. Begging to not go to bed
  23. Singing a night-night song
  24. Going to the bathroom... again
  25. Watching little angels in their beds

Life is finally getting back to normal.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Saying Thanks

Man! When y'all come out in force, y'all really come out. I don't think I've seen that many comments in forever and a day. Well, let me be a little more accurate. I see that many comments at other places all the time, just not at mine.

Anyway I want to thank you all for the prayers and the kind words on my last post. I had some loverly ladies call me to make sure that I'm doing okay. I've corresponded one on one with some others who wanted to reassure me that, yeah, it sucks to feel like this, but giving it to God is the best move I could make. Letting you all pray for me was the second best one.

And let me tell you that I can feel them working.

I told another blogger that getting it all out was probably the best medicine towards remedying me. That and a good cry. I can thank Jeana for that one. Thanks Jeana. I feel better.

And if I haven't asked for enough, would you please pray for my mom? I just found out today that she goes into the hospital on the 24th for exploratory surgery on her small intestines. Somethings not right on the x-ray and she's in pain. Don't know what to expect for the outcome because the doctor isn't sure what it is, but if you all would pray for her, I'm be so grateful once again.

As a show of thanks for all your good hearts and acts of valiant service on my behalf, I am hereby divulging my top-secret, consider-it-the-food-of-angels, even-Boomama-will-shed-tears-of-joy-and-euphoria-over-this-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe-while-Barb-will-wonder-how-in-the-world-she's-cooked-so-long-without-knowing-this-divine-recipe recipe.

(GiBee asked for the recipe and I told her that "With it comes great power, so it can’t be used lightly. I’m serious. You’d better be prepared to rule the world once you make it. You will be made queen, they will tote you around on their shoulders and those who eat it will fall at your feet to kiss them for you and all your cheesy goodness. At least that happens at my house…" And I even told her that should there be any leftovers, we fight over who gets to eat it. Because we're all about being great Christian examples at our house. Ahem. Moving right along... )

Anyway, you have been warned: Don't make it unless you want to have world dominion. It's that good.

Old-fashioned Mac and Cheese
  • 3 cups uncooked Barilla elbow macaroni (yes, use Barilla because it's the best pasta out there)
  • 1/4 cup butter (or margarine)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmasan cheese

Heat oven to 350. Spray/grease bottom of 13 x9 pan or 2 quart oven-safe dish.

Cook macaroni as directed on package; drain and reserve.

Heat butter in 3-quart saucepan over low heat until melted. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Using a whisk, stir in milk and cream. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Add cheese; cook, stirring occassionally, until melted.

Pour macaroni and cheese mixture into cooking pan. Stir gently until completely mixed. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly. Turn oven to broil. Lightly brown top of mac and cheese to give it some great crunchy texture and "browned" flavoring.

Serve with LeSeur baby peas (the only peas worth eating in my opinion), pickled beets and onions and let the praising begin.

Thanks you guys. Seriously, thanks and I love you for being here.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Unwanted Visitors

My mind and my spirit are battling as of late. And I don’t know which one is going to win. Well, I take that back. I DO know which one will win. I just don’t know how long it will take.

I don’t know why, but I’ve been down lately. Not dangerous down or woe-is-me down. Just down-in-the-dumps down. To look at me or talk to me, you probably wouldn’t know it. But that’s because I’m a pretty good liar. Usually I can shake these feelings in a day, and if that doesn’t work, there’s always ice cream.

Nothing is wrong at home. No one is hurt. Mr. Right and I are as close as can be. I’m not disappointed about the house not selling. (In fact, I’ve had such peace about that, it’s almost frightening.) Mr. Right’s job is secure, and he likes it. Even the basement situation is something to do, not something with which to deal. I see God’s hand/blessings/protections everyday. Everyone is healthy and well, plus the kids are coming home in a couple of days. I’ve no reason at all to feel this way.

And yet I do.

Maybe I’m suffering from post partum… just 7 years late. Can you get the summertime blues, especially when you’ve just returned from the best vacation you’ve ever had? Why am I second guessing as to whether or not I am good enough? For what you ask? For anything. You call it and I’m second guessing it. Why am I feeling isolated and alone when I know I am not? This last question is the one that irks me the most. I know I’m well-liked, respected, accepted, loved. My mind knows it anyway, but my heart is having the hardest time remembering it.

Also, I’ve noticed that I’ve had a couple of unwanted visitors lately. Loneliness has become an unwelcomed guest in my heart, and I don’t know how to properly evict it and all its belongings. I didn't invite him. He just showed up of his own accord. And you know that Loneliness never comes unaccompanied; Depression is Loneliness’ traveling companion. Where Loneliness goes, Depression is sure to follow. And camp. And spread its ugly self all over the place. They take up residence with the intent to stay as long as possible, no matter the inconvenience or trouble they put on the host.

Try collecting all their junk when evicting either one of them and you’ll find that the task is much messier than imagined. I tried to ask them nicely to go away. They just smirked. Then I ordered with them to go. That just makes them smirk and shake their heads. I'm not begging. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Feelings like these confound me. I’m typically such an upbeat person. I know this about myself, but the last few days, Loneliness and Depression have been kicking my butt, not to mention messing up my surroundings. I’ve been fighting against those two yahoos to remain in good spirits. To be honest, I’m tired of it. And I want my two visitors to vacate the premises immediately. No more fighting, no more struggling. They just need to pack their things and leave.

So I’m doing what I should have done a few days ago. I’m asking for prayers from you. God tells us that he’ll fight for us. (Over and over again he tells us this fact.) But I could use some additional warriors on my side. Please pray that God would either quell this depression or that he would help me learn what I need to learn from it and put it to good use. Because I know that everything can be used for God’s glory.

Even this.

Because right now, it feels like there's not enough ice cream in the stores to cover this one.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

The County Fair

Oh to attend a county fair! The thrill of the rides, the scent of fried food, the joy of a show… Well, we had all that and more.

Around 2 PM, we arrived at the fairgrounds with 80 tickets for rides. Of course you know that 80 tickets doesn’t equal 80 rides, right? Not even 40 rides… Heck, we were going to be really lucky to squeeze 20 out of that many tickets. Those fairs take you to the cleaners, I tell you. To the cleaners! But seeing smiles on their faces after the thrill of the moment somehow makes it worth while…

But first we needed to visit the petting zoo. We saw a sow with her piglets, two baby ostriches, a horse, two miniature horses, sheep, a duck and her ducklings, kittens, ferrets, mice, guinea pigs, and a tarantula. (Well to be honest, I didn’t even look at it, but there was tank there that said tarantula and that’s all the proof I needed.) The kids enjoyed holding the baby chicks. They squirmed and fluttered in their hands, but they were soft and enjoyable.

Next we hit a couple of rides. The kids begged to ride the bumper cars with us, so we handed over almost a fourth of our tickets to spend the next 90 seconds hitting each other legally. I’m a great bumper car driver. If I see you, I will get you. Oh yeah, baby! Watch Momma behind the wheel! A great time was had by all, but what a disappointment that it was such a short ride. I wanted to conserve the rest of the tickets for the kids, but they really wanted to ride the Sizzler with Daddy. So the three of them hopped on the ride and I took pictures. They had a fun, fun time spinning around and around, all the while fearful that they were going to hit another seat. They dizzily exited the ride, exclaiming that it was the best ride ever.

Next was the free watermelon feed. I think the girl inhaled four pieces the first time we hit it, and the boy ate two. I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many Mr. Right ate. It was, however, a refreshing break in the day. We enjoyed it once more about an hour later. Hey – free food at a fair is ALWAYS a good thing.

Some of the things to enjoy at a county fair were all the 4-H presentations. We spent quite awhile going through the exhibits. Our favorite parts where when we noticed works from people we knew from when we lived there. (And yes Brenda – we did see a few things that DD did and C had something there too. And several others that I won't name now, but it was good to see everyone’s names.) Our favorite place to frequent was the air-conditioned hut. Oh my lands, they had to have the fair on a scorcher of a day and we had to go at 2 PM, didn’t we? We saw lots of great displays in that hut… at least 3 different times! Thank you God for shelter from the blazing sun! (And to note, I’m now sporting an amazingly red back due to that sun. As a bit of warning, might I suggest your bringing more sunscreen so that you can reapply as necessary? That is all I have to say on this matter.)

We watched a remote control car race, and that was fun. The girl kept timing things with her new watch. She’s got that lap button down, that’s for sure. We cheered on all the kids as they raced around the track, in and out of the lines, spinning out of control, sometimes chasing down/mowing down some of the innocent bystanders. It also reassured me that not getting a remote controlled car for the boy may have been a surprisingly great move on our part…

We went back for more rides, took a break for snow cones (I found that the frugal side of me balked at paying half my mortgage for a funnel cake. I just couldn’t do it! But dang they smelled good.), and used up all our tickets. The kids enjoyed the Tilt-a-whirl, the really tall slide, the dragon and the Ferris wheel.

We made our first giant effort towards become white trash. We attended our first “Figure Eight Races,” an exciting race of demolition cars competing against each other in figure eight races… on mud. Oh. My. Lands. Who knew that such fun could be had at a fair? Those cars knocked into each other as they vied for first place in their first heats. Then the 3rd and 4th places of each heat vied for the qualifying rounds. Then the first and second of those heats raced for first and second so that they could race in the final race.
They were exciting to watch, fun to root for whatever car we liked, great to yell, cheer and talk with our neighbors. We held our breaths quite a few times, especially as two cars actually flipped over, with the drivers both crawling out unharmed. In came the bobcats to flip them back over and push them off the track. Then it was back to the racing. I couldn’t believe how much we enjoyed watching that mess. And the best part? It was alcohol free which made it great for kids to attend. No drunken brawls, no foul language that I heard. It was a good time with the family. Everyone had a great time, well except the boy who declared everything to be “too loud”, that plus he would much rather have ridden the rides than sit in bleachers. Too bad for him is all I have to say.

However, there was a tragedy that occurred while we were in the third from the final race. While one of the cars was racing through the center, its entire wheel came off and flew into the audience. It was one of those brief moments where you could see it happening, yet could do nothing to prevent its taking place. The tire did injure a couple of race watchers, I’m sorry to say, but the EMTs that monitored the race flew to attend them. They were jumping the fence, attending needs and doing their jobs with diligence and superb timing. You could actually watch them at work here. They even pan the audience at one point and if you don’t blink and you know what we look like, you can see us watching the ordeal in the upper left hand of the screen just before the clip is halfway through finishing. (The girl is wearing pink, the boy is hanging on me and I’m behind a girl in pink who steps down during the panning. It’s not all that exciting, now that I think about it. Never mind.)
While the EMTs were helping the injured, the girl said, “Well, there’s something about sitting way up here.” She was so right. Since it was about 8 PM and we had promised to eat dinner with Mr. Right’s folks, we decide that it was time to leave the race. Nothing like going to the fair and needing to take your kids to counseling over it…

And as a final ending to this long Saturday recap, here’s a little story to end on a more pleasant note…

There were no other riders for the dragon, so the operator decided to have some fun with the kids. They walked up to the gate and asked to ride the ride. As he took the tickets, he said, “What’s the magic word to get in?’

The kids both yelled, “Pleeeease!”

The man shook his head and said, “Nope I changed it.” The kids looked at us, slightly bewildered, and then just started naming off all sorts of words and phrases. “Nope,” the operator replied. “I’ll give you a hint, though. It’s something pretty.”

Just then the boy looked over at me and said, “I know! Mommy… She’s really pretty.” And he flashed me a winning smile.

I’m telling y’all, I melted right then and there. And the heat had nothing to do with it.

So now we’re back home and the kids are enjoying their last few days of freedom from rules and regulations. Man oh man, they’re going to think it reeks to come back home. No tv, no computers and they have to eat “good for you” cereal… I bet their prayers are going to be something along the lines of hurrying the school year so that they can get back to the good stuff at Grandma’s. But don’t worry, I’ve got a secret weapon: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Gets them every time.

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