Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Wrapping up, looking ahead

As January is winding down I am swinging back and forth between "wow that went fast" and "is it just me or has this been the longest. month. ev-er?"

This weekend we finally hit the 6-weeks-to-go check point in the countdown to some spring break plans.  Greg and I have been waiting for that point to let the boys in on the big news... a trip to the beach!  With our boys you never know what kind of reaction you're going to get when you make an announcement.  I was prepared for this one to fall flat, but the boys excitement was delightful, and their enthusiasm was contagious!  Now if we can all just somewhat contain that for the next 5 weeks or so.  I see a paper chain in our future for sure. ;)

In the meantime we carry on with school and fun days.  You  know we're just 3 days away from Groundhog Day, right?  That's got to be one of the silliest days in the calendar year.  That's not going to keep us from observing, of course. ;)

Here are our groundhog plans for the week:
 - Look up and discuss groundhogs / woodchucks, their characteristics and habits
 - Color a groundhog
 - Watch this woodchuck video:

 - Discuss the February 2 tradition and Punxsutawney Phil
 - Make a paper plate groundhog mask
 - Try the "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck" tongue twister
 - Make playdough groundhogs
 - Groundhog Day prediction poll, tally & graphing
 - Groundhog Day mini book
 - Groundhog Puppet
(These and more Groundhog's Day links can be found here.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

The power of words

Dear Kind Lady in Bath & Body Works,

Thank you for your sincere words yesterday.  You were leaving the store as my 4 children and I were coming in.  It means so much to me that you interrupted your day for almost a full minute to admire my little family. 

You see, just last week another not-so-kind-lady woman tallied up 2 well-behaved big boys, a quiet baby in my arms, and a wiggly (but quiet) toddler in my husband's arms and called us "gluttons for punishment."  She may have said it with a smile, but I found her comment to be extremely insulting and may or may not have had the urge to poke her in the eye.  Instead I smiled and said nothing, too stunned at her rudeness to know what to say.

You, on the other hand, were easy to talk to and such a blessing to me as you stopped to look into each child's face, admire them all, and say with such sincerity "What a blessing!"

You just might have made my day.  And I'm still smiling this morning.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." Philippians 1:3

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Always learning

I took another walk down memory lane with my boys the other day.

Dale was fiddling with the digital thermometer that was left laying out on the counter.  Instead of just telling him not to play with it, I told him why, by telling him the following (true) story:

"One time I was sitting at my table eating a hot dog.  Lying right on the table was a thermometer, but not a digital one like this.  It was the old glass kind, that had mercury in it.  I decided I wanted to know how hot my hot dog was so I stuck the thermometer in it."

(You know what's coming don't you?)

"The hot dog was much hotter than the thermometer could measure and it broke, spilling mercury into my hot dog.  I had to throw the whole thing away."

Dale was duly impressed at my mistake and the exciting ending to my experiment.

"Guess how old I was when I did that."

Dale guessed 8. 

I grinned and shook my head 'no'.  

He guessed 10.  I shook my head again.

Do you have a guess how old I was when I pulled such a stunt?



I was 21.   :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fish Tacos

Marinate fish.

Grill Peppers.

Grill fish.
 Wrap in a tortilla with sliced cabbage, avocados, cilantro, and fresh squeezed lime.
Recipe from Kimberly Murray.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Onions, butterflies, & circus dogs

Announcement: I an what I like to call... a 'homebody'.  I could go, and in fact, have gone, an entire week without leaving home and be just fine with that.  I'll be getting in the van on Sunday and think, "ya know, I think the last time I got in this van was... last Sunday.  Awesome!"

The rest of my family, however, likes to go places.  

The rest of my family had a great day today.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I had a great day, too.  Once I get out and going, I have to admit I actually kind of enjoy it, too.

So... today:

First trip out put us an hour out in the wind (windy wind!) and sunshine planting onions.  It's only January and it's 75 degrees and we're working in the garden!  This is messing with my head.  On this outing my boys got to see 1 grandparent, 1 great-grandparent, and 1 grandparent dog.  Dog uncle? Dog cousin?  You can work on that one.

Home for lunch and a clothing change and back out again.  This time to see an 80 year old quilt.
Yes! Definitely worth the trip.

At this stop the boys saw 1 grandparent and 2 librarian friends.

In spite of already overdue naps, we stopped on the say home for more visiting and site-seeing.  Again, a stop well-worth it.
This stop brought the boys 2 great-grandparents and 1 high-wire walking grand-dog.

Finally home for those naps and more time outside in the beautiful and crazy-unseasonably warm sunshine.  

Really.... I think I should get out more.  It's good for us all! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Five years ago today our 9 week old baby boy was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

Four years ago today he was dismissed from the hospital with a life-saving liver transplant.

Today he sang songs to his baby sister.

Today he goes to his second taekwondo class.

Today he had a picnic lunch in the sunshine.

Five years ago today it felt like our world was falling apart.  So much of it remains perfectly clear in my memory.  The faces, the emotions, the laughter, and the tears.

Today we are different people for the journey God has led us on.  For the people we have met, and the grace we have been given.

Today I am thankful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Martial Artists

We have talked for at least two years about putting Dale in martial arts 'someday'.  

Looks like 'someday' has arrived!
 Our family is embarking into completely new territory.  We are learning the lingo and belt-tying and how to do push-ups and how to get in line.  Yes, my homeschooled kids were the ones that were -momentarily!- lost when all the kiddos scurried to line up single file. (They recovered just fine, by the way.)

Already I love watching them interact with their instructor and being pushed to try new things - and succeed!
I've always suspected it would be beneficial, but I'm beginning to think this martial arts stuff just might be fun, too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Her own best friend

Remember "this changes everything?"  

We knew having a girl would be different, but Brooklyn is reminding us that girl or not, she is going to be her own little self.

I've had two babies that used pacifiers, but never one that's done this:
Right now I think it is absolutely adorable and quite handy (pardon the pun).

Ask me again how I feel about it in about 18 months. ;)

Ever had any thumb suckers in your family?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thankful thoughts from the breakfast table

Alan: What?

Me: Nothing. Why?

Alan: You were lookin' at me.

Me: Was I smiling?

Alan: No, you were just lookin' at me like you were going to say something.

Me: Ah. In my head I was saying 'Thank you, God for cinnamon raisin biscuits.'

Tyler: A-MEN!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fun and Games

Dale is a little game crazy these days.

Recently he and Alan made up a game of their own using chess pieces and a Scrabble board.

I didn't even know we owned chess pieces.

Then they taught Daddy how to play their new game.
 It seems to have some elements of chess, some of Chinese checkers...
 ...and some of the board game "Sorry"
 The pink and blue squares of the Scrabble board come into play, but seein' as how I haven't learned yet, that's about all I know.

Are you game players at your house? What are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Odds and Ends

1 - The whole family went this afternoon to check out a martial arts place with thoughts of enrolling Dale and Alan.  I really liked the facility, the instructors, the curriculum... just not sure I'm ready to be a family involved in extra-curriculars yet.  The boys enjoyed it, even though they didn't learn a Sponge-Bob style karate chop like they thought they would.

2 - I woke up this morning from a dream that one of my children had died.  Off and on throughout the day those real feelings of grief and devastation from my dream would come back to mind.  It certainly changed the way I approached my day.  More smiles, more cuddles, more thankfulness.

3 - I finally, finally finished my first quilt top today!  I can't believe how close I was to finishing the last time I worked on it.  This has been a project that comes in spurts followed by months-long breaks.  I hope I can spurt my way to being done with the whole quilt this time!

4 - Really? Three? That's all I can come up with? Lemme see... aha! Here we go:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Maybe skin deep isn't always a bad thing.

I never was a big fan of Oprah, but I did see a handful of shows through the years.  A few minutes from one of those shows I will never forget, probably because I have replayed it in my mind over and over again.

The theme of the show was women who looked and acted younger than their age.  In a good way.  The guests were mostly in their 60's-80's, and looked like they were in their 30's-50's. 

Oprah would bring out a guest, introduce them, and, after visiting for a few moments, reveal the guest's true age.
At which point, the entire audience was amazed and astounded and the guest would share a few bits of wisdom about how to best live your life.

Of course, each guest looked more amazing than the last.  Finally, one attractive, well-spoken lady came out.  After the age reveal Oprah picked her jaw up off the floor and asked how the woman did it.

By the way the question was worded and the nature of the show, every one was expecting some deep, inspirational answer.

Not so.

"Moisturizer," the lady answered.  "I have faithfully applied moisturizer to my skin every morning and every night for decades."

Oprah went fishing for more.  Something more mystic or difficult.  "No," the lady smiled, "just moisturizer."

So YES - drink your water.  YES - live clean.  YES - don't tan yourself silly.  But hey... don't forget the moisturizer! :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tyler!

Tyler is two!
 We don't believe in the terrible twos.... 2 is one of our favorite ages around here!
 And Tyler is certainly perpetuating that opinion.  
He's our 'funnest' most hilarious 2-year-old yet.
He likes to sing, he likes to play, he likes to eat, he likes to share, he likes to make us laugh.  He loves his stuffed lamb, his dum-dum, Lightening, Buzz, and Woody, "Baby Book'yn", and whatever his big brothers are doing.

Happy Birthday, Ty Ty! We're pretty crazy about you, too. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Growing Up

My baby boy lost his first tooth.
The boy that once was a little snuggle bug but now wrestles rambunctiously.
The boy that once was terrified of the vacuum but as I type is busy vacuuming his sister's room.
The boy whose only chance at life was an organ transplant and is now a healthy 5 year old.
I'm feeling thankful for the little things like lost baby teeth.
And thankful for that precious face, new tooth-gap and all. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Little Stories

A childhood memory bubbled it's way up in my mind today.  I enjoyed telling it to my boys, and now I am going to retell it to you, just as I told it to them.

When I was a little girl, I carried my lunch to school almost every day.  My mama would put a sandwich in a baggie and pack it in my lunch box.

A very few times through the years I spent the night with my Nana and PawPaw on a school night.  On those school mornings, Nana would make my sandwich for lunch that day. Instead of packing it in a baggie, though, she would wrap it just like a package in a square of shiny, slippery plastic wrap.  I always thought it was the neatest thing to have my sandwich wrapped that way!  I don't remember much else about school-nights at Nana &PawPaw's but to this day, a sandwich wrapped in plastic wrap brings back warm and happy memories of special times and "Nana Ways"! :)

Isn't if funny the things we remember?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

100 years and 4 recipes

This weekend I had the pleasure of participating in a Centennial Celebration for my parent's home.

Built in 1911, the house has been through two World Wars, the Great Depression, numerous presidents, countless droughts, snowfalls, and ice storms, seen several owners and countless guests.

Sounds cliche, but oh if walls could talk.

It seemed fitting to throw open the doors when the house was dressed up in its Christmas best and celebrate the history and the blessing.

Although I only lived there for a couple of years and a couple of more summers, my parents have been there for 15 years now, so it is very much like home to me.

I was glad to help out in any way I could in preparing for the big day, and a lot of my part turned out to be cookie baking.

Which is kind of scary considering the kitchen disasters I created just a week before over Christmas, but we won't go there.

I decided on 4 varieties of cookies, and each was a big success!  

Orange Slice Cookies are a new favorite of ours.  I added about a 1/3 c shredded coconut to the batter with the orange slice pieces.  A pair of greased kitchen shears works pretty well for cutting the candy into bits, then coat the pieces with powdered sugar to separate them.

Per the request of the Lady of the House, I made sure to keep these Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies small.  Actually, she wanted all the cookies small, but I followed through best on these.  They were such cute little things!!  And I think these win the prize for best tasting after a few days.  Alone they won't last that long, but with the 12-14 dozen we had (all together) there were some leftovers. :)

These Snickerdoodles are simple and a classic, and also work well in a just-bigger-than-bite-size version.
(Just be sure to shorten cooking time on anything you make small.)

Rounding out our selection (ha - pardon the pun... these are shaped into balls) were Christmas Casserole Cookies.  Packed with goodies like dates and walnuts, this is such a fun recipe because you bake your batter before shaping your cookie, then stir it all up into one big mess right out of the oven.  After it has cooled some THEN you shape it into balls. 

Thanks again to everyone who came to the Open House, and for your kind compliments on the house and the cookies. :)  It was truly an honor to be a part of that day!

To read more about the house and see pictures (coming soon!) you can visit Mom's Blog.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quickie Christmas Recap - In pictures (mostly)

Twas the week before Christmas and, visiting Arkansas, we made cookies with Kristin...

...and opened a baby doll from Grandma.
Back home on the Eve we read books in a snuggle...
...and woke the next morning (and... sat in a huddle?)
This poem isn't working; I give up the fight.
Merry Christmas to all...
...and to Christmas (2011).... Good night!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Every Morning

Just a few hours into a brand new year, the baby was hysterical, the boys were uncooperative, I was yelling, and the whole lot of us were running late to church.

What a start.

It was at that moment the musical Christmas clock that had been overlooked when we put up decorations the day before chimed directly into my ear, "Joy to the world, the Lord has come."

I hustled us on out the door trying to remember the JOY of Christmas we had celebrated just days before.

Greg met us in the parking lot at church and helped herd escort everyone to their perspective classes.  Sitting down for the first time since breakfast I feasted on a Sunday School lesson from Romans 7.  You know... the good ol' "what I want to do I don't and what I don't want to do, I do."  (a lot more fun if you read it out of the KJV) ;).  Much encouraging conversation stemmed from our lesson on our sin nature, the impossibility of doing any good in our own flesh, and the hope of Jesus in us (John 15).

The morning wrapped up with a worshipful song service followed by a sermon from Matthew chapter 1.  Yes, the 'begats'.  Have you ever taken the time to notice who's who in that cast of characters?  A lot of failure and sin in that history.  But the good news, the encouragement, is that God can use us in spite of our family history, our own failures, and our present circumstances.

What a relief.

What a blessing.

What a morning surrounded by God's reminders of His goodness.

Praying to carry these blessings into tomorrow as we begin a new year, a new week, and a new day.

Happy New Year to you all!