Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Random acts of kindness

Most of the time Greg or I go with Dale to brush his teeth at bedtime, to ensure plenty of proper tooth-scrubbage. Occasionally (more than we should, I'm sure) we send him in to do it himself.

One night recently after brushing his teeth all by himself, he came out of the bathroom and said, "Daddy, you come brush your teeth now." Greg said he would brush his later, before he went to bed. Dale was ok with this, and we proceeded with getting him to bed.

Some time later I went into the bathroom (the first one to go in since Dale had brushed his teeth) and found this:

How lucky are we, getting our toothbrushes and toothpaste laid out for us!? Thanks Dale! :)

Works For Me Wednesday - Pancake Shapes

4/2/08 - Edited to add: I am re-posting this today as part of WFMW Greatest Hits edition. I am amazed at how often I get blog hits from a google search "pancake shapes". I also get tons for "cake mix cookies" so you might want to check out that post too. :) And then go to Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW Greatest Hits!

You know, sometimes you bust out in some cool parenting tricks just for the fun of it. Other times there is some mom-guilt involved. Yesterday was one of those inner "you're a great kid and I need to ease my conscious" times. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who ever gets those?) More blogging to come on those thoughts later. There is obviously a lot to blog about... it being a WEEK since my last post and all.

Anyway... Dale loves trains, so for his extra-treat breakfast yesterday I made him train-shaped pancakes! Sooo easy, and I am not an artist! (although I do have some experience drawing trains... I'm sure you have some experience drawing your child's passion as well) ;)
Simply make a nice, thin, pancake batter and pour it into a clean, empty mustard bottle. Ta-Da! Edible numbers, letters & shapes, in an instant!

Whew. I feel better. And that Works for Me! :) To find great ideas that work for YOU, (and links to tons of free stuff!) be sure and visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday - Wedding Pics

I went to a wedding this weekend and as always, it got me to thinking about my wedding. Especially all the things I wouldn't change if I had it to do over again.

One of those things was how, or rather, when, we had our pictures done.
Many times you go to a wedding, either enjoy or endure the ceremony, watch the new Mr. & Mrs. charge down the aisle and out the door, and make your way to the cake and punch, only to wait, and wait, and wait for the happy couple to appear. Or for that matter, any of the bridal party. Or maybe a family member? Hello? Anyone?

Where have they all gone? Back into the church of course, to take pictures!

We decided we didn't want to keep our guests waiting, so here is what we did:

We got all dressed & ready really early. We emptied the church of (almost) all family members, florists, wedding party, etc and Greg waited for me at the front. I came walking down the aisle, just like I would be doing in the ceremony, but for his eyes only. He could see me in my dress for the first time without peeking through the crowd and over Great Aunt Flossie's head.

We took our time together, admiring our clothes and enjoying each other's company and the beautiful decorations ... alone. We called it our "moment". It was a wonderful break in what can be a very hectic day. We did have the photographer stay in to capture the look on Greg's face when he saw me for the very first time. (Cuz you know... it was my wedding day... and I was looking pretty spiffy!)

After our "moment" we had family & wedding party come in and we took pictures - without being hurried because wedding guests were waiting, and without having to wait for the guests to file out so we could take pictures.

So - once our ceremony was over we headed right out the door and straight to the car to start the reception - no waiting! And that Work(ed) for Us! Now.... for all of us who are married and unlikely to be planning a wedding soon, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for Works for Me Wednesday to, you know, find some ideas you might can use now!

Cake, anyone?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Memorable Moments Monday

Memorable Moments Monday

This weekend I didn't so much have a "Memorable Moment" as I had a "moment" going through some memories. I will explain:

Alan's wardrobe has been increasingly slim pickin's as the weather has turned cooler and he, of course, continues to grow. I knew there had to be more of Dale's hand-me-downs that what I could find in the closet, so Greg made a trip to the attic to see what he could find.

Sure enough, down came a big box full of fall & winter stuff, some that fits now, and some that will be perfect in a few months.

I felt like it must be Christmas morning as I pulled out item after item of things for Alan to wear, both at home and for going out. I was so excited!

With each item my excitment turned more to nostalgia, and soon I was crying! More than any size before them, for some reason, out of this particular box, every little shirt and outfit brought back a memory of Dale wearing it. I could so easily picture his baby cheeks and hair, and hear him saying "uts!" (oops). Oh, if only I could go back for just one moment to scoop up an 18-month old Dale and give him a big squeeze!

Dale - 16 months

With the tears of nostalgia were mixed tears of hope, as I also looked ahead. I imagined Alan wearing these clothes in the months ahead, doing the things Dale did in them. Walking, bending, talking, growing. Creating many more Memorable Moments. And us doing our best to treasure every tiny moment, because they really, really do go by way too fast. :)

For more Memorable Moments, visit
Eskimo Kisses & Air Hugs! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dale the Photographer

The other day Dale asked to take a picture of me. That was fun, so he asked to take more pictures. I said 'sure'. He wanted to take 100 pictures, he said. He ended up taking over 90! Here is a sampling of his work. (The pic of me wasn't so flattering, so we'll skip it)

He took a picture of his feet:

And then Alan.
And then his feet again.
And then his racecar. He got to use the zoom on that one! He missed the first time and got nothing but floor. He found his mark in the second shot.
Later, a picture of Alan playing on the rug. This is the second one. He wanted to get my foot in it.
And then himself.

And then Alan again.And then me on the phone.And then himself again.He also took several of the view out our front door, the carpet, the couch, and the toy set that was in the living room. Aren't digital cameras great? :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

PhotoHunt - Practical

1 - usable; workable; useful and sensible

2 - this week's Photo Hunters theme

I don't know if y'all are aware, but Alan loves himself some peekaboo. He will sit under a blanket and not move a muscle until somebody asks, "Wheeeeere's Alan?" (Kind of the question version of "Heeeeere's Johnny!!")
Then you bust out in "Peekaboo!" and pull the blanket off of Alan's head, if he doesn't beat you to it.
The other day I left Alan in his room after a diaper change. I came back some time later, and there he sat, under a blanket, waiting on someone to find him. Of course, I jumped right in and did my part. And then I wondered how long he'd been sitting there like that! :)

So, Alan, being the practical baby he is, knows something useful when he sees it. This a baby that very quickly realized a kitchen towel is quite usable for a game of peekaboo!
Very sensible and practical, don'tcha think? :)

For more practical PhotoHunters fun, click here.

Boomerang Baking

This is the way to go my friends.

A week or so ago, my Dad asked me if I would bake a cake or two to be auctioned off at the charity benefit his workplace holds every fall. I did this for him last year, and since being in the kitchen creating is (usually) a relaxing, enjoyable thing for me, I agreed.

I picked out 2 new recipes (risky, I know). Dad paid for the ingredients, plus a little extra, for my 'trouble'. ;-)

Last night, I made two cakes, back to back. I was in the kitchen all evening. I was proud of my creations.
The top one is an Apple Raisin Bundt cake. The second is Pumpkin Orange, and those are candied orange peels on top.

Then at 7:30 this morning, I kissed them goodbye and sent them on their way, with a promise form my Dad to let me know how much money they brought.

He sent me a text in the early afternoon saying the bidding overall wasn't so good and the cakes had brought $20 each. :-P

Later, I talked to him, and found out he had bought one of them - the Pumpkin one. Well, yay! If he was going to buy one anyway, it had better have been mine, and now at least I could taste one of them. I was glad it was the pumpkin one too, because I was more likely to make the Raisin one again to see what it was like.

Even later, Dad showed up at our house, and lo and behold, he was carrying the Raisin cake. I pointed out that was not the pumpkin cake.

Yeah. He knew. He had bought them both.

Okay. So I could be slightly embarassed that I sent 2 cakes away to auction, and my Dad (who had already paid for them once) bought them both.

But lets think about this:
I spent an entire evening in the kitchen and produced 2 very good looking cakes.
And then sent them off without even a taste.
And then they both came back!

I haven't tasted the Pumpkin one yet, but I can tell you the Raisin is magnificent! :)
Worth every penny. ;)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Little Men

Woo-hoo! He's only 4, and already Dale is starting to prove me right on things from my List of Good Things About Having Boys! !

He is a spider stomper extraordinaire! (Yeah, yeah, Sam, I know... but at our house, we kill 'em!) He got one for me a couple of days ago, and then earlier today he said, "Mama! There's a spider!" I turned and saw one big enough that I couldn't squish it (grosses me out). I was still thinking what I was going to do with it (sweep it out the door maybe?), and Dale said, "I'll kill it!" STOMP.

Ok. Problem solved. Thanks Dale!

I was pretty excited about this new development in his boyishness and wanted to share with you.

Before you know it he'll be haulin' in the groceries and haulin' the trash to the curb. Yay for boys! :)

What you've been training for

I have often noticed people that get to their senior year in high school or are starting college and after years of working at an instrument or sport or something similar, they suddenly decide to abandon it for one reason or another. It doesn't make sense how they can invest all that time and then just let it fall to the side because they are too busy or have so much else to focus on. Especially when that skill they have developed could literally pay off in scholarships or help lead to a career choice, or at the very least, help you make new friends.

I think we can be the same way with our faith in hard times. We have invested hours and hours in Bible studies and training weekends, worship times and small groups. But when we get to hard times our mind and time get distracted and filled with all of the things that worry us and otherwise demand our attention. God has placed all of these experiences within us as preparation for times just like this, but it is so easy to not use it. And just like those that leave behind a talent or a skill, we are missing out on untold benefits if we abandon our faith.

Remember Martha being so distracted and worried with all that must be done, while Mary sat at Jesus' feet? Jesus told Martha, "Martha, Martha, thou are careful (worried) and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42) Instead of letting worry eat at our minds and hearts, all we need to do is sit at the feet of Jesus, focusing only on Him and His words.

It makes me think of Dale when he is hurt or upset and we try to comfort him. All he has to do is relax and trust us, and do what we ask, but instead he gets all worked up and resists us. This is extremely frustrating to us as his parents, trying to comfort him, or assess what is wrong. I think we can be the same way. God sees the big picture. He's got it. But we get all worked up when we are presented with things we don't understand:
"Why are You doing this?"
"When are You going to do that?"
"What were You thinking when You let this happen?"

But all we have to do is relax in Him.
To trust and obey.
(because there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust & obey)

Relax. It's what God's been training you for.
And He is right there, waiting with open arms, and His great big safety net.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday - Cookies!

One day last week Dale asked to make chocolate chip cookies, and I instantly spotted the opportunity to give myself some major mom-points by #1 - being spontaneous, and #2 - making cookies while simultaneously avoiding doing the stuff that I should be doing, but isn't nearly as much fun as making cookies.

But, being me, I felt the need to be creative, while still taking the easy route, and throw in some frugality (using whatcha got) for good measure. In August I bought a tub of chocolate sprinkles for the Dale's checkered-flag birthday cake. It didn't take nearly as many as I had thought. I had nearly the whole tub-full leftover!

Chocolate sprinkle-chips anyone?

I have not been impressed with cake-mix cookies in the past, but for some reason (using whatcha got) I decided to try again. I am so glad I did! These cookies were so good! Here is the recipe:

Easy, Yummy Cake Mix Cookies
1 box white cake mix
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
chocolate chips

Mix oil, eggs, & vanilla. Add cake mix. Add chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfulls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake @ 350 for 8-10 minutes.

I didn't even use a mixer! These cookies were SO easy, and VERY good, and they used up some things that were just sitting around my pantry. And that Works for Me! For more WFMW tips, visit Shannon @ Rocks in My Dryer! :)

By the way.... I've already made these cookies again using a lemon cake mix. Omitted the chocolate chips and drizzled the baked cookies with a lemon/powdered sugar glaze. Yum!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two for the price of one!

I've made one tiny change on the blog..... can you spot it?

...It's in my profile.....

It used to say: "27 year old stay-at-home mom...."

Now it says "28"...because...

Today was my birthday! :)

Lucky me, I got 2 birthdays this year!

Birthday #1:
Monday I tried something new in the crockpot (remember that
Cantonese Dinner from last week? yeah. I finally made it. It was really good!). So anyway, we had that and my Mom & Dad came over (Greg had practice).

My Mom made a
cake!!! And they brought presents! We had a party! :)
(Please click the link above to read the story behind the cake - it was wonderful...both the cake and the story!!)

Alan loved the candles (apparently Dale did too, by the look above). Anyway, he got some 'practice' blowing them out for next month! (By the way... if you come to Alan's first b-day party... don't eat any cake from under Alan's candles. It will be covered in baby spit.)

And then we proceeded with our usual Monday night activities: Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor. I'm usually not a fan of The Bachelor, but he is from Texas... and that twin thing was pretty cool. And while I'm talking about tv, we also watched the premiere of that Samantha Who? show last night. Oh my goodness. I am not a sit-com person. I can't tell you the last sit-com I enjoyed or even watched. Reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond? Mad About You? Really.

Anyway... this show made me laugh. out. loud. More than once. It was much better than the previews!

Birthday #2:
Made my prescription/grocery run this morning, Dale had preschool, Alan's home-health nurse came by. Nothing in the mail - got some cards earlier in the week and a package from my MIL on birthday #1 (Monday). )Opened it at the party - fun Mom & kid cookbook, I'm sure pictures will taken and a blog entry made when this book gets used! ;) )

My Dad came by about an hour before Greg got home and mysteriously picked up both boys. (Prearranged, I found out later)
Greg took me out to eat at our local Italian restaruant. Yay! And then he told the owner it was my birthday! Cheesecake! yay! :)

When we went to pick up the boys they had been busy. Dale gave me a gift bag full of pecans they had picked up and a sweet card he had made.

Ahh... so many blessings. Thanks to all of you, my wonderful family, near & far for helping make my 2 days of birthday so special! :)

Waiter! There's a reckless driver in my soup!

Very rarely do I use my blog to rant. But prepare yourselves. I'm about to go a'ranting.

I had planned to make a prescription/grocery run yesterday, but it was pouring down rain so I decided to stay tucked in at home with my boys instead of a 30 mile drive in the rain (each way). (Nice choice, since it rained & stormed all day!)

However... have you ever played a game and "passed" on a certain card or question, obligating yourself to take whatever comes up next? Well - when I passed on yesterday's rain, I stuck myself with today's FOG.

Pea. Soup.

But I just settled in, making up my mind to take my time and be careful.

And here begins the rant.

I was still getting up to speed leaving town, going 55ish in a 60, and someone PASSED me, using the left TURN LANE to do so, in the thickest FOG ever.

Then, just outside of town, I set my cruise around 65-67 in a 70mph zone, and the guy behind me wanted around SO BAD. I sped up a couple of mph because I didn't want him to get us all killed trying to pass me. He followed me until a passing lane and then zoomed on around, disappearing into the fog.

What are people thinking!? You couldn't see 2 blocks ahead of you. You couldn't see anything. If there had been an accident or an animal in the road you wouldn't know until it was right in front of you.

What was SO important they had to put their lives at risk (and mine too!) and drive so recklessly?

You see it all the time, in all weather. People and cars and people in other cars just are not good combinations. Driving and the anonymity it leads to tends to make us all feel a little more self-important, a little more invincible. Is the extra 2 minutes you save getting there really worth the risk?

And one more thing... in fog and at dusk, I feel like shouting at every car I see with it's lights off (or even just their parking lights on) "Yes! We know YOU can see... but WE can't see YOU! Turn your lights on!!!"

Ok. Rant over. I promise I don't go around constantly wound up over things while in the car.

What about you? What drives you crazy on the road? What kind of driver are you?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Memorable Moments Monday

Memorable Moments Monday

There seems no better subject for my 100th post than to celebrate some of the memorable moments from my day-to-day life. So, here I go, my first Memorable Moments Monday! :)
Knowing that Alan's transplant is getting closer all the time, I more and more often find myself having moments that I appreciate the littlest things, from both of my boys. A hug, a snuggle, a peek at a little boy sleeping soundly in his bed.
Sunday morning I found myself particularly enjoying Alan's baby feet. It was the first night cool enough for pajamas, and seeing his little chubby feet peeking out from under them was just so sweet. The hardest part was getting him to sit still enough for the picture! :)
I hope that these moments are a lesson from this whole experience that will stay with me for a life-time: to truly, truly, always enjoy every moment.
For more memorable moments or to share your own, be sure to visit Kara at Eskimo Kisses & Air Hugs.

Just a walk in the Ballpark, Frank

Well. When I said I was out of words (see previous post) I didn't mean forever! And I didn't think it would take me FOUR days to get back here! We've been pretty busy though. Friday morning I spent packing for an overnight trip to see Daddy's band at the football game. Alan entertained himself with the lettuce bowl:
Dale dressed himself:
The boys and I headed out after lunch. Alan's heartbeat lullaby cassette worked like magic and he slept almost the whole way. We got to see Daddy right quick for an early supper and then got ourselves 'purty' in the camper. My boys clean up nicely, don't they? (notice Dale has the keys... add 12 years to that picture and it would be scary, but at least for now, I'm still doing the driving.)
Greg had a really nice place picked out for us so I didn't have to wrestle Dale and Alan in the stands. We could see everything, but weren't too visible ourselves. And, though I hate to disappoint, for the sake of full disclosure I have to admit that Alan was not conducting in the pic below. He was just excited about stuff.
And then he settled in to watch the game...

Meeting Greg's co-workers and all the kids was great. Our boys both did really good through the whole evening. Alan was getting pretty sleepy and restless, but didn't move a muscle during half-time!
Greg had a contest Saturday, so we all got up and out Saturday morning. But before we went home I made a few quick detours (as in: I spent a couple of hours) shopping! :) Yippee! My mom and dad were headed through on their way to see Kristin's game/half-time show, and spent a little time with us. Gramps kept the boys and Mom helped me shop! What a deal! And speaking of deals... I brought home 10 items for $115! Including 3 pair of shoes! (Of course, the 3 pair of capris on clearance definitely helped my average!)

But I paid in other ways for my shopping...oh yes I did. Alan cried (screamed) for 45 out of the 60 minutes home. Yikes! I really don't know if it had anything to do with the shopping or not, but I can tell you it was definitely stressful. We stopped twice and I couldn't figure out what in the world was wrong. Even the 'magic' heartbeat tape did no good. :(
Poor Dale had to sit by him. I reached behind me and patted Dale's shins (the only thing I could reach) once and told him how good he was doing, being patient, and I was sorry, etc. He kicked me away. Can't blame him. I wouldn't want anybody touching me either.
Finally, 15 minutes from home, they BOTH fell asleep. I got home and just left them in the van with the door open and settled in next to them with a lawn-chair and a book!
Sunday was a pretty typical Sunday. Alan wasn't quite his best, but he has those days, plus Fri & Sat was asking a lot of him. After church Sunday night we went out to my Mom & Dad's place for hot dogs roasted on an open fire. (no chestnuts though). And I must say, Ballpark Franks are really really good.
Whew. I'm back.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My friends, I would love nothing more than to write a blog entry tonight, but I'm afraid I've reached my Word Limit for the day.

How did this happen you ask?

Let me tell you.

Dale has finally done it. He has finally asked Too. Many. Questions!

I have used up all my words and coherent thoughts answering the Millions. Of. Questions.

Everything has a "Why?"

All of the becauses have a "Why?"

There are lots of "What is's?".

All of the "What is's" have a "Why?"

Most of what I say has a "What, Mama? What did you say?"
(and yes, his hearing checked out just fine)

And let's not forget all of the "What happens if's".

I have explained myself, repeated myself, given silly answers to the silly questions, and given out information on science, history, & general knowledge.

And I am exhausted.

So I'm sorry. There will be no blog entry tonight. Because I am all out of words.

You know it was a bad diaper...

...when you put baby directly in the tub, and mom and baby both get a completely new set of clothes for the day.

'Nuff said.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hanging from the rafters? That's next, I'm sure.

I mentioned on Monday when I posted my Menu Plan for this week (0 for 2 by the way) that we went grocery shopping on Monday. The shopping was after a rather lengthy visit with the pediatrician for Alan. It was one of those things that was supposed to be a quick in and out, but turned out to take longer than you had planned. Both boys were great though. I was really proud of them! :)
When we were back home and had eaten lunch, I was in desperate need of a nap. This is how that went:
Alan is asleep.
Dale is in bed.
Start Alan's feed.
Lay down on couch.
Check on Alan just make sure feed is ok.
Lay back down.Dale gets up to poop.
Wipe Dale.
Lay back down.
Greg calls (returning my call to check on Alan).
Lay back down.
Landline rings. A friend wonders if it would be ok to come by later. Sure.
Set phone alarm. Can still 'rest' for 30 minutes before getting ready for company.
Lay back down.
Starts to rain. Perfect for sleeping!
Alan is awake. Naptime over.

Yeah, so that didn't work out so well. And the rain was still POURING down. What good sleeping that would have been!
Dale's door was open so I went in to check on him. When I stuck my head in he was between his window and his blinds. Because when you're 4 and aren't worried about not bending the blinds that is definitely the easiest way to see outside.
I said, "Hey Dale."
He didn't acknowledge me at all, but something about it made me realize he wasn't ignoring me; he just hadn't heard.
About the time I said "hey Dale" again, I saw why he wasn't hearing me.

The screen was off his window, and his entire upper body was hanging OUT of the window. (Thank the Lord we are on one story!)

And remember that pouring rain? Yeah. When Dale brought himself back in the house (via the window, of course), his head was soaking wet:

I can only hope no one drove by and witnessed my child hanging from the window.

And then, back to Alan:
Later that evening we got a phone call that Alan's transplant team wanted to see him because of some results from the pediatrician visit. Oh yeah, and they wanted to see him "tomorrow"! Yikes!
So we got busy on the phone and decided who was going, who was staying, and who was keeping Dale.
I dropped off Dale at preschool and then picked up my Dad. The trip was super smooth and he and Alan and I all enjoyed each other's company.
Everything with Alan ended up turning out great. The results that had gotten us called in turned out to be false and everything with Alan looks good. The biggest thing was that we left there feeling that transplant is more likely than ever. Something about the visit seemed very significant, in a way that we will only be able to understand better when we look back on it. It definitely didn't feel like a mistake. It's all part of God's plan, ya know?

So, on that note, I think I'm going to go catch up on laundry and revise my transplant packing list for fall! :)

Works For Me Wednesday - Keys

At least half the time we go anywhere, I inevitably only get half-way down the driveway and remember something I left in the house. I'm lucky if I even get that far. But this little 'aha' moment usually only comes after I have started the van. I find it very helpful to have my house keys on a separate ring that I can easily remove from the others so I don't have to turn off the van to run back in. This is also useful for very hot or cold days when I need to start the van ahead of leaving time. The housekeys are the ones on the chain. I just unclip it from the rest and get what I need. When I get back in the van, I loop the chain through the main ring and then clip it to itself so it doesn't dangle way far down from the other keys. This Works for Me several times a week! Be sure and head over to Rocks in My Dryer where Shannon is hosting Works For Me Wednesday! :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Meun Plan Monday

Believe it or not, I used to make menus. I would search my notebook of favorite recipes, my old Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, Kraft, (this one's free!) & Hometown Cooking (out of print) magazines, and the Internet and plan out 1-2 weeks worth of suppers.
And then....I quit.
And now....I usually don't have a plan until about 4:30...if I'm lucky.
And then...I started seeing "Menu Plan Monday" on people's blogs and thought it would be a great way for me to get back in the action.
And since I just happened to be headed to town for one of Alan's prescriptions, and just happened to be out of milk, bread, eggs, etc, what better time to make a menu and go for it. we go. I left Monday blank because winging it usually works best for Mondays. And then I found a package of brats on sale! So, remember to grab hot dog buns on the way out, and... brats! :)

Monday - Brats
Tuesday -
Spaghetti Bolognese, Salad
Wednesday - Chicken Patty Sandwiches
Thursday -
Crock Pot Cantonese Dinner, stir-fry veggies
Friday - Leftovers, Sandwiches

And since I'm here talking about groceries and things, I might as well tell you our trips are never dull. For one thing, instead of sitting in the basket in the forward position, facing me & Dale, Alan prefers to twist around as far backwards as possible, with the seat belt cutting into his ribs and one arm wedged against the back of the seat. Most uncomfortable looking, but the only way he will ride.
But the advantage of this is once Mom has put enough groceries in the cart, you can reach stuff. Thankfully, this is usually toward the end of the trip. Today the Reach-it Item of the Day was a bag of spinach leaves. A crinkly bag of spinach leaves. So as we headed over to the pharmacy right quick to get our prescription before checking out, Alan was entertaining himself with the crinkly spinach bag.
And it opened! The pharmacy lady saw it as it happened, so we avoided a major spinach disaster. Just about a 1/2 a cup was sprinkled over our groceries in the cart.

Dale ate it. Yes, I know. Germs, ew, ew. But he was hungry and there it was.

And how can you tell a kid 'no' to fresh veggies? Just before the spinach/pharmacy incident, we were in produce. I saw a bag of baby carrots and picked them up to put them in our cart, saying to Dale, "Let's get some baby carrots."

He grabbed a second bag and said, "Okay! I'll get some for us, too!"

(Of course, a quick lesson followed in how the 'baby' referred to the carrots, and not their eaters. It's definitely true... learning happens everywhere!)

For your own menu ideas (or if you just like to see how 'everybody else' does it) go see Laura, the Organizing Junkie for
Menu Plan Monday! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Why I don't like Halloween, part 2

As I joked in this earlier post, I am not a fan of Halloween. Although I was joking when I said it then, it actually is the truth.

When I was about 10 years old, my parents, based on research on the topic, decided that our family would no longer participate in Halloween. I was old enough to understand their reasoning, and obedient enough to accept it. And to be honest...I never really felt like I was missing out on anything.

At some point between the time we got married and the time Dale was born, Greg and I agreed that not participating in Halloween was the best choice for us as a family, too.

There is a lot of compelling research on the subject of Halloween, it's origins, and some of the alarming practices that are carried out even today in 'celebration' of the day.
This article includes a little about some of the Halloween practices of modern-day witches and Satanists.
This one is another good resource, that also gives the reasoning behind not choosing a Halloween substitute, such as a "Harvest Party". It also makes a very good point about Halloween exposing children to a lot of things that adults might be able to sort out as fiction or as something unacceptable, but children are so easily influenced by what they see.
These articles and some 4 million others (that oughta hold ya) can be found with a simple
Google search with the words "halloween" & "Christian".

All that said, I think I can explain pretty simply why our family chooses not to participate in Halloween. Look around at people's yard decorations. Really see what fills the Halloween aisles at Walmart and other stores.

The focus is on





and decay.

What is wrong with this picture?!?

As Christians, we are representatives of Jesus. We are part of Him and He is part of us. And who is Jesus?

John wrote about Jesus that in the beginning "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." John 1:4&5

Jesus said about himself:
"I am the bread of life..." John 6:35
"I have come that they may have life..." John 10:10
"I am the resurrection and the life..." John 11:25
"I am the way and the truth and the life..." John 14:6
(*All italics are mine*)

If Jesus represents & gives LIFE, why should we celebrate, glamorize, & glorify a day that is all about DEATH?

Many parents are okay with participating in Halloween as long as their kids dress as something innocent and cute. This doesn't work for us. Have you ever heard the saying that a woman can't be a "little bit pregnant"? We belive that any participation at all shows approval.

Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil." We don't want to even appear to endorse a Day of Death. We will not honor it with our participation. (again, italics mine)

Paul also said, "...Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Romans 12:9
To us, witches, ghosts, demons, goblins and all the gruesomeness you see at Halloween are evil.

Isaiah 5:20 tells us, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" That, to us, is one answer for any efforts we might make to justify being a part of Halloween or its substitutes. It can't be both evil and good. It has to be one or the other.

Do we think friends & family & fellow Christians that dress up, trick-or-treat, or attend a "Harvest Festival" are 'bad', or that we are somehow 'better' than them? Of course not! This is simply what we believe is right for our family. So when the end of October rolls around and there are no decorations on our door, our porch light is off, and our children aren't dressed as anyone but themselves, now you know why.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

That's just bazaar...

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" James 4:13-15 NIV

(*For those of you who are aware that I switched to KJV, yes I know this is NIV. I guess old habits die hard. But I did check it first to compare. ) :)

So, today. Greg was gone all day working at a contest. Our little town had its annual Fall Bazaar. I would have preferred to stay home and sulk for various & sundry reasons, but that's just not good for anyone now is it? So, the boys and I did get out afterall. And I was glad we did.

Dale had a blast and said several times throughout the day, "I'm so glad we came to the bazaar!" He bounced in a bouncy-house, rode a pony, and spent the 4 quarters that have been burning a hole in his pocket for a couple of weeks now. He bought himself a water-filled squishy ball yo-yo thing. It had a hole and no water before supper time. *sigh* But at least he was able to get the spider (that turned out to actually be an octopus) out that had been floating inside.

Alan, just like Dale, always enjoys getting out and about. We noticed all day long that his tube was barely under the tape and therefore ran a high risk of being pulled out. When Greg got home and saw that a new tape-job was needed, he suggested we pull the tube after morning meds tomorrow and let Alan have the day off. Excellent idea!

And then....

Alan was having a really hard time going to sleep. I had already nursed him and given up on that. Greg took him to do his bouncy-knee thing and right before our eyes, in an instant that tube was out. Poo.

And Alan was awake. So he got a short reprieve from bedtime while I gathered supplies and down went a new tube.

So like I said earlier, or as James said earlier...
"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" James 4:13-15 NIV

So much for our plans! ;-)

(and one of these days I'll blog all about Why I Switched (am switching?) To KJV...
...but not tonight)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Holiday Recipe Exchange

Yes, I know it is a full 2 1/2 months until Christmas.

But I love Christmas.

And I love cooking.

And I love blogging.

So how could I resist this!? :)

As much as I love cooking and being the family chef (and I use the term 'chef' very loosely), I don't have a lot of tried & true, gotta have 'em holiday favorites.

And even though I am more of a savory person (mmmm casseroles & appetizers), both of the recipes I'm sharing here are in the sweet category. But I've made them both before (for more than one year, ha!) and will make them again. And they are both easy. Just because I like to cook doesn't mean I like to use up all of what little remaining energy I have doing it!

So, anyway... here they are:

Red-Hot Jello Salad
3 oz cherry jello
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1/4 c. red hots
1/4 c. + 1 1/2 tsp cold water
1 c. chopped green apple
1 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (or pecans)

In small bowl, dissolve jello in 1 c. boiling water. In another bowl, dissolve red hots in remaining boiling water; stir into jello. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, about 1 hour.

Fold in apple, celery, & walnuts. Pour into 4 cup mold coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate at least 2 hours

Peppermint Fudge
(Taste of Home, December/January 2001)
1 1/2 tsps butter (no substitutes), softened
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 c. confectioners' sugar
3 Tb baking cocoa
1/2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c. chopped nuts
Peppermint Layer:
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 c. crushed peppermint candy

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch x 4 inch x 2 inch loaf pan with foil. Grease foil with 1 1/2 tsps butter; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla. Stir in the nuts. Spread into prepared pan. Chill for 1 hour or until firm.

For peppermint layer, beat cream cheese in a small mixing bowl. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, milk and extract. Stir in peppermint candy. Spread evenly over chocolate layer. Chill for 1 hour or until firm. Using foil, lift fudge from pan. Gently peel off foil. Cut into squares. Makes 1 1/4 pounds.

For a treasure-trove of holiday (and when I say 'holiday' I mean CHRISTmas and Thanksgiving) recipes, please visit Overwhelmed with Joy who is hosting all this fun! :) If aren't the blogger-type, feel free to leave your own recipe in the comments of this post.

More Alan-ness

I posted on CaringBridge recently how Alan is getting to be so much fun.

Some examples of this:

He's so smart; he puts things IN stuff. Blocks in the bucket, golf ball in the empty egg carton... Just this morning he picked up Dale's wooden train whistle and put it in the box of wooden blocks.

For days and days now we've been looking at a board book of animals together. I'll point to the animal and tell him it's name and what sound it makes. He likes to look at this book by himself too. This morning as he held it open he was pointing at the animals.

A couple of days ago he was sitting at one end of the hallway and I was at the other. I fully extended my arm, pointing in his direction and said, "I see you!" And he pointed back!

And my favorite:
Just a little while ago I scooped him up and held him close. I whispered in his ear, "I love you!"

And bless his heart, he whispered his own baby gibberish back to me. You haven't lived until you've had a baby whisper in your ear.

That puddle of wetness you see around my middle would be where my heart just melted. Oh the sweetness of a precious baby!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Peekaboo? Nah...

Y'all want to know something weird?

Alan sleeps with his eyes open! Not all the way open, but enough that you can see his eyeballs peeking (but apparently not seeing) out from under his eyelids. It's kind of creepy.

I've noticed this to some extent when I've rocked him to sleep. But today I went in to check on him during his nap and I guess he was dreaming, because his eyes were all darting around (you know, REM and all). I thought he was looking at me at first, but he didn't move a muscle (besides his eye ones, of course). Weird.

Alphabet Randomness...U-sing what you've got

Now ladies & gentlemen, as you look to your left you will see the current arrangement of some of our alphabet magnets on the fridge.

This began as a helpful visual for singing "There was a farmer had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o. B-I-N-G-O..." Anytime you wanted to walk back and bust out in a little preschool ditty, there was no problem remembering just where you were as the letters were replaced with claps. Simply slide the next letter up out of sequence, and you can very easily sing "(clap, clap) N-G-O!"

Then one day our fridge letters led to a discussion of the game Bingo. Dale wasn't sure if he'd ever played or not (he had). We decided it sounded like a fun way to fill our time. (Much better than say, washing dishes.)
Since we don't own our own Bingo game, I grabbed some of Dale's drawing paper, a marker and the free ruler Smokey the Bear gave him Tuesday and made a quick little grid. After filling in the center square with the star for a free space, I decided to fill in the rest with the alphabet. Alphabetically. (Yes, this left us without Y & Z).

I was about to write out all 24 letters again to cut up and draw from, but that seemed like a lot of work. Since I'm pretty sure some of our fridge magnets are under the fridge instead of on it, that kind of makes it difficult to use them. But then I remembered the alphabet flash-card puzzles Grandma sent. Perfect. There is one card (divided horizontally into 2 puzzle pieces) for each letter of the alphabet. Disassemble, scramble all the top halves and there you go. Alphabet randomness.

Now...we need markers. This one was easy & obvious. Courtesy of another set of grandparents (a set of "greats" in Oklahoma) Dale has a tiddlywinks game with little clear plastic colored chips. Yay! We just had to be super-extra careful to get every last one picked up before Alan woke up. We're talking a major choking hazard here.

So...Dale and I sat ourselves down in the living room floor for a couple of rounds of Bingo. Fun stuff. I think I could go for some Bingo now! (The laundry can definitely wait!) :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

WFMW - Backwards Day! 1st Birthday?

Okay blog-world friends. Here is my question.

Our second son, Alan, will be turning 1 in November. A first birthday is always special, but this day seems especially significant to us as we look back on Alan's first year and forward to what lies ahead for him.

When Alan was 2 months old we discovered he had a rare condition which required immediate surgery and left him with liver disease. He is now on the waiting list for a liver transplant, which could take place soon after his birthday.

We aren't looking to make the birthday celebration reflect on the struggles, though. We want it to be just what it is: a celebration of the wonderful milestone of reaching 1 year.

Dale's first birthday theme was easy - he had already clearly shown a love for cars and trucks and anything with a motor well before his 12th month.

Alan isn't proving so easy. I'm kind of stumped for what to do for themes, etc. Any ideas? What have you done for 1st birthday parties? What Works for You?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Isn't he "lively"?

Suddenly seems like blogging is feast or famine! But my, oh my, we've been busy! Alan's been making new friends... ...and making some music.
After his weekend of feeling not-so-hot, Dale did a lot of this on Sunday and Monday (without being told)...

Monday afternoon I left Alan with my grandparents and took Dale with me to go teach an afternoon of colorguard. I was kind of nervous about leaving Alan. I wasn't worried at all about Alan's well-being, but felt kind of concerned for how Nana & PawPaw would fare. :) I've had the ladies in our church nursery tell me Alan has worn them out, and that's after just an hour. I was leaving him for 3! By all reports though, things went well. But I think they were relieved to hear that I'm not going back to teach anytime soon. ;)
Dale and I enjoyed our afternoon out together. We usually listen to music in the car, but yesterday we just visited instead. After a while Dale said, "Let's just be quiet and ride for a little while." Okay. 10 seconds later (literally) - "Did you see that such-and-such? It was ... (fill in the blank with fun 4-yr-old-type details). " Repeat whole exchange every couple of minutes.
While I did my teaching thing, he played with some other little boys that were around. As usual, he had no problem jumping right in and making friends! :)
Then, today. Today I got in "Big Trouble". In my little corner of the world, my family and I can reach out and touch each other by phone at almost any time. And if we can't, we know ahead of time why. Well. This morning the boys and I got buckled in the van to take Dale to school. Dale said, "Do we have everything?"
"Do you have your cellphone?"
"No, I don't, actually. But I'll be coming right back home."
Discovered when I walked in with Dale (which I don't always do) that 3 out of the 4 adults weren't there today. Alan and I got all the way back in the van and I thought to myself that I just couldn't leave her there alone with 8 preschoolers. Not a good idea.
So I went back in.
Not how I had intended to spend my morning, but at least I got to see Smokey the Bear. (I believe his name is technically "Smokey Bear", but my whole life I've heard Smokey THE Bear. Kind of like Oscar THE Grouch or Winnie THE Pooh. So the THE stays.)

So...when I got home and had 6 missed calls on the cell phone and 2 messages on the answering machine, all from the same 3 people....oops. I realized I had been seriously MIA for 2 1/2 hours. But I certainly didn't mind being "checked up on". It works both ways, believe me. :)
And the whole reason I went in with Dale this morning in the first place was to take this picture:
Really - Dale was a lot happier than he looks. Really. He looks like he was either trying to impersonate a toothless old man or get taffy un-stuck from his back teeth. But he was smiling for the camera. Really.
As I'm sure you've gathered from the pic, every week someone from his class is featured by a sign like this on the door. They sent home the yellow sheet the week before for us to fill out.

Since Dale can be kind of ... difficult? stubborn? silly? I felt the need to 'cheat' a little bit. Mainly on account of the first question: What is your favorite food? You'd think that would be a simple one. But, no. Dale had the same answer every time: "Cucumbers!"
Excuse me? He only had them about twice all summer and he wasn't incredibly crazy about them then. No matter how we phrased the question, the answer was always the same: "Cucumbers!" We finally managed from a series of multiple choice questions (the answers to which did not include cucumbers) get 'hamburgers' out of him. Insert answer to question #1.

His favorite song is the themesong to the movie "Cars".

Favorite person? Alan (awww)
Thing I like most about school? Painting
My best feature is my... Heart Beating (have to agree with him on that one!)

And then....what do you want to be when you grow up? We tried to get him to be creative on this one. His answer? "Farmer!" This is very odd and random, believe me. So we asked him what he was going to grow on his farm, expecting him to answer corn or hay or something. Nope. "Wheat!". So. Dale the wheat farmer.

But more curious than any of Dale's answers is the message his teacher wrote to him/about him:
"You are a very smart person and you 'liven up' the class."

Oh dear. I was ok with that until I noticed the quotes. Everybody knows that putting in quotes in places like that means "I wrote these words, but they aren't quite exactly what I meant. Wink, wink."
I hate to say, but I'm afraid she must have meant: "You are a very smart person, and you are a Wildchild."
What can I say? He has no experience being required to sit in a seat for any period of time other than meals. And to be in a room full of other people all his size? It's just too much for a guy to take.
Gotta love my Dale! :)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Fall Into Reading Challenge

Happy Fall, Y'all!

It's October 1st - can you believe it!?

I was blog-hopping the other day and came across something that really grabbed my attention:

This is exactly what I need! I love to read, but more than ever before I am having problems committing to or finishing a book. So - I'm going to join the reading challenge. Hopefully I can finish what I've started, and know what I'm going for when we go to the library!

Since I have a so-so track record of liking what I pick out for myself when I randomly go read the shelves, I got some help from my local
librarian when making my list. (Thanks, mom!) ;-)

So, without further adieu, here is my list:

To finish:
The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
The Strong-Willed Child, Dr. James Dobson

And, in no particular order,
To start (and finish):
A Life God Rewards, Bruce Wilkinson
Bringing Up Boys, Dr. James Dobson
Nightswimming, Robin Schwarz
The Owl & Moon Cafe, Jo Ann Mapson
A Can of Peas (The Lake Emily Series, #1) , Traci De Pree
Dandelions in a Jelly Jar (Lake Emily Series, #2), Traci De Pree
Aprons on a Clothesline (The Lake Emily Series, #3), Traci De Pree
(#'s 2 & 3 contigent on how I like #1. If #1 is no good, 2 & 3 are coming off the list.) ;-)
Seaside, Terri Blackstock
The Christmas Bus, Melody Carlson

Please note, this is my wish list. Not my to-do list. It is subject to change. The challenge runs through December 21st. Let's see what we can read between now and then! To post your own list, or read others' for some reading ideas, go visit Katrina at Callapidder Days!

Potluck slushie

Just so you know, we're all alive and well. Or...mostly well.

Dale's day Saturday actually went ok. No more trips to the potty with his hands clamped over his mouth or anything. After a couple of hours he was asking for a popsicle, but I was ahead of him. Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network I made him a granita. But instead of using fruit juices or anything scrumptious or dessert-ish, Dale's was a Gatorade Granita. But we just called it a slushie. :)

He acted like he felt great all day. Then all of a sudden at bedtime he had a fever! It went away through the night, through all of our great parenting ministrations. ;) But since Dale was border-line and Alan has a snotty nose, Greg stayed home with the boys and I went to church.

As soon as church was over my parents and I headed over to my grandparents' church for lunch and the dedication of their new fellowship hall. OH the food! Oh yeah, and fellowship with family and a great dedication service. And all that food. I love being Baptist. ;-)

Have a great Monday, everybody!