Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I haven't mentioned much about it, but we've been doing a lot of home improvement this summer. You may have heard me say that our house is close to 100 years old. It was a bit of a fixer when we bought it, but it had good bones (still does). To say that the house needed updating is an understatement. Avocado green, Goldenrod and Rustic Orange were the colors of choice throughout most of the downstairs, with the exception of the Pepto-Bismol pink bathroom. The carpet was green shag. Every single room in the house had carpet (including the bathrooms). Can I get an "ewwwww?"

There have been so many times these past four years when I have griped and complained about this house. But the truth is, I love it. I have grown to love it. It is really perfect for us and our family. Not too big, not too small. Yes, it's tight in places. But I've learned that more space isn't necessarily better. (Remember the beautiful house we lived in for a week while our friends were on vacation? Yeah. Goregous. But waaaaay to big for our family.)

And the Lord has been so faithful to teach us much as we've lived in a less-than-perfect house. We've learned contentment. We've grown to absolutely love and cherish our neighbors. We have taken pride in each and every improvement we've made, because we've been the ones doing the work. Correction: Most of it has been done by my willing and hard-working hubby.

Granted, it's not perfect. We're amateurs in training. There is still so much to be done. The rest of the house still needs to be painted. The trim needs to be scraped, sanded, primed, and painted. The storm windows need attention. There's landscaping....OY...the landscaping is a big task, and there's still so much more to do.

And yet, it's home.

It's where we work and breathe and live.

It's where we learn and love and cry.

It's where we say we're sorry, kiss each other's ouchies and hug.

It's where we snuggle up, play games and smile.

It's where we pray, read, and grow.

It's home.

And I'm so very, very thankful for it and every person in it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This Post is Dedicated to....Well, She Knows Who She Is.

Dearest Fearer of all Things Dentist,

I want you to know that I went to the dentist today.  And I'd like to share my experience with you. First of all, you need to know that I survived.  I was a good little girl and I followed up and had the work done that was needed to keep my teeth in good standing.  In doing so, I avoided potential crowns and future root canals.  I kept my appointment, despite my irrational fear of dentists, and with great trust in a God who watches over all his fearful children, I surrendered myself to the dentist's chair (and her tools).

This was not a routine cleaning, but it was fillings...old ones that needed replacing.  Dr. A (we'll call her) was very gentle, very quick, and it was painless.  (Honestly, the worst part was having to hold my mouth open for such a long time...not the drilling, the noise, or even the shot).  I watched Rachel Ray talking to Robin McGraw on my own personal television, remote in hand. I listened to Selah on my ipod and closed my eyes as they serenaded me with "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."  

In exactly one hour, I was up and walking out of the office good as new, with teeth that will continue to treat me well and hopefully stand the test of whatever time I have left here on this earth.

May my calm and very "zen" experience encourage you to march your little self to the nearest office and face the tooth monsters that may be lingering in your childhood memories.  Find an office that says, "We cater to cowards."  Do whatever it takes.  Just DO IT.  Trust'll be glad you did.  And your teeth will thank you.


Your caring, concerned, loving, newly filling-enhanced sister

P.S.  They don't do silver fillings anymore.  What a BONUS!
P.P.S.  Poppop would be so proud of us if every one of his girls would face their irrational fears and visit the dentist every six months.  
P.P.P.S.  The equipment isn't what it used to be.  I couldn't even smell the burning odor!
P.P.P.P.S.  For your information, to expand on my first P.S., fillings are no longer in that annoying silver color.  You can choose from an array of fashionable colors to match the color of your teeth.  Concerned about staining?  They  have a color for that!
P.P.P.P.P.S.  I love you.  : )

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Velveteen Rabbit

I have been awaiting an opportunity when the house was quiet to read one of my all-time favorite books to Cody.  We had that chance this evening, followed by a completion of a library book we've had checked out for about two months, "Mr. Popper's Penguins."  What an adorable book that was!  

Anyway, I loved re-reading "The Velveteen Rabbit" for so many reasons.  First, I loved seeing Cody being taken in by the beautiful illustrations.  He audibly gasped, "Awwww!" when he saw the beautiful nursery magic fairy toward the end of the story.  

Also, I just love the message that passes through the telling of the book and the way it encourages its readers to believe in love and the power to make even a toy real.  

Finally, I love this book because there are several key phrases that jumped off the pages when I read it for the first time many years ago.  There are so many moments in this book that you can apply to life, and this particular one is a favorite of mine.  I will leave it with you this afternoon to ponder.  Hope you all had a great weekend!

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse.  "It's a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse.  "You become.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


This week would be the week at our house.  Right now our children are being reminded on a daily, NO, hourly basis that we are the ones in charge.  WE ARE!  There will be no arguing, no whining, no crying to get their way.  No manipulating, no pouting, no bad attitudes when life doesn't go JUST how they'd like it to.  Sound familiar?  (PLEASE say "yes.")  
So while my eldest child spent some quality time in his room (after displaying some unacceptable behavior), he was given instructions on how he was to spend that time.  He was told that I would be up to talk to him in the allotted amount of time, and then at that point, he could let me know if he was ready to join the rest of the world or stay in the funkiness that he was in at the time.  (I'm happy to report that one hour after this episode began, he was GOLDEN the rest of the day.)

But back to the story.

When I got up to his room, he was lying on his bed with his little Nebraska Cornhuskers radio right next to him.  It wasn't on, but I suddenly realized he'd probably been listening to his radio instead of doing what I'd asked him to in his moment of solitary confinement, er, I mean, solitude.  

I said, "Cody, how long have you been listening to that radio?"


"Cody???  How long?"

"Well, for about this long."  (At this point, there is a dramatic gesture, his arms stretched way out beside him like a scene from "Guess How Much I Love You.")

"Uh-huh."  (At least he's honest.  I'm pausing at this point to try to figure out what to do next.)

"But Mom!  I turned it off right when I heard you coming up the stairs!"  (Looking at me hopefully, as if somehow, it will change the outcome.)

My mind suddenly re-reads all those discipline books filling the shelves in my brain, as if the answer just might be found on one of those pages.   

Nope.  No luck.

Thankfully, before I even have time to consider my options, Cody comes up with a reasonable solution for me.

"Hey....Mom?  I think I need more time up here."

Yeah.   YA THINK???

Monday, July 21, 2008

What a Ball!

So last week's family devotions at our house were geared toward the topic of love, specifically focusing on 1 Corinthians 13.  As a writing assignment, I had Cody write out one verse a day, memorizing it as well.  It's a lot to memorize, but I felt we needed to keep working on mastering it as we started this week.  It's such a wonderful passage of scripture!  

But today I write to share a great idea with you that some of you may want to try (if you're looking for ways to help your kids memorize those verses...Awana anyone???).  We decided to follow one of the devotional's suggestions on how to help your child memorize the verses and get them to stick. They suggest that you take turns throwing a small ball back and forth..but before you are allowed to throw the ball you have to say a portion of the verse.

For example:  "Love is patient." (toss ball)  "Love is kind."  (toss ball) etc.

I couldn't believe how effective this was!  Cody had the whole thing down by the time we were done, and it was fun getting the whole family involved.  When we got to the very end, Caden even got in on the action when he caught the ball and finished ending the phrase, "But the greatest of these is_______."  Yep, he got it right!  "LOVE!"

Ah, scripture memory.  It's NEVER too early to start!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Checking In...

I've been a slacker blogger this week, but I've been attempting to get around and read other blogs as I have time.  When I have something blog worthy I'll post again, but right now, I've got nothin.' Except that I am still having headaches every day, but they aren't as severe.  I'm doing well sticking to my new regime and really hoping it pays off.  : )

And to tell you the truth, I don't even miss Coca-Cola that much.  Now that's progress!

Sorry this is so lame, but I just wanted to update and say hello to you all!  Hope you had a great weekend.  I'll post more soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Hands and Paintbrush of Jesus in Action!

I wish I'd thought to take a picture of my hubby and our worship pastor up on ladders today while they worked tirelessly painting our house.

I'm so thankful for God's timing...not just for Jerry's sake (things go much quicker when there are two working together), but also because we've been studying what it means to love and to serve like Jesus wants us to in our family's devotion time.

What a wonderful thing it is to be a part of the body of Christ.  What a blessing to say to my son, "Look out there.  That's what it means to be Jesus to the world."

What a blessing to be on the receiving end of such a selfless act of kindness.

This great man knows who he is.  And Kevn, if you happen to be reading....thank you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Fun, Part Deux

Alright, enough about my caffeine addicted body. Let's talk about things of greater importance. Like Wii, for example. Oh. My. Lands. What fun I had playing Mario Cart. What you can't see here in this picture is my face. I'm yelling, most likely, and laughing at what a disaster I am on the road!
And then there's my scuba-son. He refused to go underwater without this mask on. I think he looks so funny!
We've had a ball swimming this summer. Both the boys have gotten a lot more comfortable in the water, thanks to the access we've had to our friend's pool. Take a look at those burrito babies!

More festival fun...

Vacation Bible School...God's Big Backyard. The emphasis was on serving one another.

And last, but certainly not least, Game Day. We had a great time at our All-Star Day last weekend and high-fived each other that it was the last day. It's a fun season, but we're always glad to see it end so we have more free time. Here's our little Home Run Hitter:

That's all for now. Hope you enjoyed this little tour through our summer. : )

I Feel Good, I Feel Great, I Feel Wonderful.

I'm just checking in to say that I am on day two of caffeine withdrawal.

And it really stinks.

OH COCA-COLA you are very, very evil.

I'm glad we said good-bye.

Now could somebody please pass me the ibuprofen?  I'm fresh out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Now Pause to Bring You This Important Message

I know you were probably expecting this post to contain more pictures of all the fun we've been having this summer.  But I must pause and bring you this important message.  Because I know you care.

I've decided to start counting calories.

I'm not calling it a diet.

I am just making some changes.  You know that feeling, the one that causes you to tilt your head to the side when you're getting dressed, turn around at every angle, wondering what happened to the body you had before children?  Or in my case, the body I had when I was nursing my babies?  (The weight just seemed to fall off of me no matter what I ate.  I was really fortunate that way.)

Yeah.  SO not the case anymore.

Because I'm getting older.  And apparently this is normal.

But I don't like it.  I don't like I how I look or feel and I decided today was the day I was going to do something about it.  It's not even about what the scale says.  It's simply that I know my body and this is not what I want it to look like.  

After looking at different options, I decided counting calories and journaling what I'm eating would be a great place to start.  And wow.  Has it been eye opening!  I am also going to step up my activity level.  

It's been a good day today, as I begin my new regime, except for the blinding headache I have from not drinking my Coke.  Coca-cola is my nemesis.  We have a love-hate relationship.  And today I decided we needed to just say good-bye.  It needs to be a permanent thing, but I'm going to take it day by day.  We've been together a very, very long time.  Breaking up is hard to do.

Now, some of you may be wondering why on earth I'm posting this for all to see.  I actually put it out there today because I am curious as to whether anybody else is using this method to trim their waistline.  I'm also wondering if you have any ideas or websites or helpful ways to make this easier.  I found a calorie counter online that helps you figure out how many calories your foods contain.  But it seems there must be an easier way than having to look every single thing up that you're eating (I know most things have labels, but what about fruits and veggies, etc?). 

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.  In the meantime, I'm going to take some ibuprofen and hope this headache lets up.  OUCHIE. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Picture Perfect Memories, Part 1

I have been really slow in getting my pictures updated to the blog, and there are some really great ones to share (these are especially for my family). I thought you all might like some recent photos of our adventures this summer. So, without any further ado...

This is Jerry and I right before we sang The National Anthem when we opened for Little River Band. Supposedly, a festival photographer took photos while we were singing, but we don't have any of those...of course! Here are the boys riding the bumper cars at that same festival...look at the sheer joy on those faces!!
Here are my 4th of July sugar cookies. I love making and sharing them with anyone who will eat them! I'd find an occasion to make them every month if I could! For the sake of my waistline, it's good that I limit it to every two months or so!
Here below is the cutest picture of my niece Mackenzie and Cody while watching the fireworks on the 4th. Is that NOT the sweetest???
My mom and sis (I'm on the other end of the assembly line) making that awesome jam you've heard so much about...

Papa Dean gave all the kids a ride on the lawn mower. My mom asked me if I remembered Poppop doing that too, and I immediately burst into tears. Yeah, I was slightly emotional that weekend.
And to close out this first part of our best summer memories, here's an absolutely beautiful picture of my mom with four out of her six grandbabies. Isn't that precious?

More photos to come soon...thanks for letting me share them with you all!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

This morning I was catching up a bit on my blog reading.  We had just finished breakfast and we were all doing our own thing before it was time to head over to the ball park for our final baseball game of the season.  I went here, to a blog that I've been reading since April.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned this blog before, but if you don't read it, you really, really need to. I have been so blessed, so challenged in my faith, and so in awe of this family and their love for the Lord.  The father in this family is one of the singers in the group Selah.  I am a fan of their work, and their music has greatly ministered to me through the years. Jerry and I often choose their songs to sing at church, one of my favorites being "Glory" (we sang it for our youngest son's baby dedication).

But I'm not writing to tell you only about their music.  They have a ministry right now that extends way beyond this side of heaven.

Let me first just confess to you tonight that I sometimes have a tendency to take my children for granted. I'm not wanting to say that out loud, but there it is.  I get so caught up in and exhausted by the mundane tasks of motherhood that I sometimes do my job begrudgingly, as if wiping another snotty nose or telling that same bedtime story or doing that 5th load of laundry in one day is just too much to handle.  Sometimes I snap, or yell, or say things I wish I could take back.  Sometimes I use a harsh word or tone.  Worst of all, there are days I forget what a gift they are to me.  I don't intentionally set out to do this, it's just something that dwells in my sinful nature, and admittedly, it happens more often than I'd like.  I'm not at all proud of it.  I've read your blogs long enough to know that I'm not alone, which is why I probably feel the freedom to write it out loud here.  I'm human.  I fail.  

As I caught up on Audrey's Caroline's blog today, I began to cry. Really hard.  My heart was so heavy for this sweet family, and I began to grieve for them in a way I hadn't before.  I don't know what it was about this particular day...perhaps it was the overwhelming reality of recent posts that just brought me to my knees for them.  I can't begin to fathom the grief they must feel over the loss of their beautiful baby girl.  I have only followed their story since April, but that's not where it started for them.  It's been a long process.  And yet, they live it, day in and day out.  They live it out loud for all to see, because God has given them this story to tell. We don't understand the "why?" of it.  But because we have faith in the same loving God, I know that He undoubtedly has a plan.  He always has a plan for every single one of us.  And I am convinced that God is using this particular family's story as a living testimony of His goodness, His grace, and His faithfulness.  Even in the grief.  Even in the unbearable sadness. He is to be praised because He alone is God and He knows what He is doing.

I've never experienced the kind of pain Audrey's family is walking through (and of course, I pray I'll never have to), but if God chose that for us, whatever His reasons, would He still be good? Yes.  Would God still be loving?  Yes.  Would God still be working out His plan?  Yes.

As for today, I have another level of appreciation for my precious children. Tonight, I watched Cody's eyes light up in wonder as we watched our town's fireworks celebration.  made fish faces at Caden while he sat on my lap, grabbed my face with both hands, and proceeded to give me sticky wet toddler kisses.  And tonight, in the quiet of this late hour, I can hear them both breathing and snoring in the baby monitor.  They are simple yet profound things that I easily overlook, day in and day out.  All is well in my home tonight after this full day of summer fun.  

And Audrey's in heaven.

And loved ones are grieving.

And God is still good.

And I'm reminded afresh how fleeting our lives are.  And how quickly time passes and how much we take for granted.

And I'm reminded again that I need to choose God's ways over mine.  Over and over and over again. 

And, regardless of your own current circumstances, I want to encourage you to do the same.  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Technology. It Really Comes in Handy.

My hubby spent most of the day painting our house, bless his sweet heart, his aching back and sore neck muscles.  At 3 p.m., when we headed over to our temporary home away from home, he said he needed some food and needed it now.  I knew he was also in need of an iced coffee from the Golden Arches, so I encouraged him to swing through to get himself something to eat. It's the least I can do after the pampered life I've been leading lately.

He ordered one of those new chicken sandwiches.  Southern style or something like that.  It doesn't really matter, though I feel I must include this information for the sake of all you who care.  All two of you.

Anyway.  Back to matters of urgent importance.

When he got his sandwich, he took the top bun off to inspect what the inside looked like (this is something my hubby ALWAYS does for as long as I've known him.  Even if he specifies what he wants or doesn't want on his sandwich, he always feels the need to pull off the top of the bun or piece of bread and inspect the contents of the sandwich).  I don't know why he does this.  He just does.  After 8 years of marriage, I've learned not to ask questions.  I take hours to order a sandwich sometimes, so who am I to judge?

I'll move on.

When he looked under the bun, what he saw was so shocking and so appalling that even I gasped in horror.

There were only two little pickles on the sandwich.

And they weren't big ones, either.  They were so small, you might as well just NOT have bothered to put them on there.

Now, lest you take me to be a snob about food....oh forget it.  I am a snob about food.

What happened next may shock you.  I am truly a blog-addicted woman.  I actually got out my camera phone and snapped the picture you see above which I proceeded to immediately email to myself because really, everyone should take a picture of the pickles (or lack thereof) on their sandwiches.

And I'm the kind of girl that must have a pickle in every bite of sandwich, because that's just me.  I'm all about the pickles on and/or beside my sandwiches.  When I order a sandwich, I always, always ask for extra pickles.

The good news is I got a great picture of the sandwich that you see above. And I giggled uncontrollably about the fact that I couldn't wait to post it on the blog to share it with you.  (I know, I have issues.  Big, bloggy-sized issues.)

But here's best part.  After my hubby had a few moments to contemplate this pickle issue, he turned to me and said, looking completely straight-faced, "Do you think this has anything to do with the rising fuel prices?"

It was at that point that I practically laughed myself silly from the sheer comedy of it all.  

I really, REALLY need to get a life.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What a Life....

It's tough being me, and here's why:  

1.  I woke up and had breakfast out on the screened porch while doing my devotional.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the birdies sing me their songs.
2.  Hubby made me a bagel with my sister's jam.  It's...DA BOMB.  (I'm so hip I can hardly stand myself.)
3.  I called the pool guy and pest control guy to service the pool and kill some bees.  I know.  It's rough being me right now.
4.  I taught lessons while sitting at a beautiful grand piano in a loft overlooking the living room and listened to my lovely students serenade me with their melodiousness.  I KNOW, it's not a word, but I like it.  MELODIOUSNESS.  Good one.
5. I watched my son play his second-to-last baseball game of the season.  And had a lovely conversation with a fellow baseball playing family.  Who's son beat leukemia after 3.5 years of treatment.  Nothing like that type of a conversation to really put things in perspective, let me tell you.
6.  I leafed through a beautiful coffee table book about Colorado and started planning my 10 year-anniversary with hubby.  Not really, but MAN I think Colorado would be an awesome spot for us to celebrate.
7.  I cooked my family a nice meal in a beautiful, spacious gourmet kitchen.  And I felt like Giada.  If you don't know who she is, watch the Food Network.  Who cares that it was 10 p.m. before we actually got to eat it?  The point it, I was serving it up in style.
8.  We had family devotions tonight and read about serving others.  
9.  And then my son ordered me to go get him more fruit.
10.  To which I responded "Let's try that again and try to put what we JUST LEARNED into practice. OKAY?"
11.  To which he responded, "Okay, mom.  Would you PLEASE go get me some more fruit?"  

I think he missed the point.
12.  And then the hard decision:  Should we play Mexican Dominoes tonight or should we just go and play Wii on the huge big screen TV with surround sound?  Decisions, decisions.
13.  Can you tell I'm enjoying this week?
14.  Is it bad that my hubby slaved over at OUR 100 year-old house today while I sat and read all your blogs?  
15.  Don't answer that.  

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Home Away from Home

We are house/dog sitting this week.  The home we are staying in is amazing.  I can't imagine living here on a regular basis.  I asked the wife of the couple who lives here how she ever leaves. If I lived here I'd probably never go anywhere unless I absolutely had to.  She replied, "The only time I ever want to leave is when we get our tax bill!"  Yep, I believe it.  

We were given permission to have people over, so tonight we're hosting a pool party and have invited about 30 of our friends.  (They're calling for rain and I am really hoping the weather doesn't dampen our plans!)  Nothing says summer more than a good BBQ with a pool and good friends to go right along with it!

To give you the scope of this place, let me just say that I needed to vacuum this morning and it took me an hour.  To do the first floor only.  Does that give you any idea of the size of this house?  I'm thinking that I'd rather have to clean a smaller house...unless of course I had someone cleaning it for me! We're very grateful for the opportunity to "live" in such a beautiful home this week.  

I'm just glad we don't have to pay the bills too.  : )

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Weekend at a Glance

I'm thankful for two bloggers who have taken the time to document the fun I've been having over the past couple of days!  I have been away from my home computer, so I've been unable to upload my photos.  Thankfully, my sister and best gal pal from high school are all over it! (Thanks girls for the sweet posts!)

We decided to break away for a couple of days to go see my family over the 4th.  It was good being together, though I'll admit I found myself quite melancholy throughout the weekend. This was the time of year we were always with my grandfather in Nebraska for our family reunions, and for some reason, two years later, it was extremely hard for me.  I miss him now more than ever.  But there's no place like home, and being with my family was the BEST place I could have been!  The cousins had a great time together (as usual).  My industrious sister picked black raspberries from my mom and dad's property and made some out-of-this-world jam.  We cooked out and went to see fireworks.  We also had our own show right at home last night since Papa Dean had gotten some goodies to share with the kids (though I think we adults had more fun than the kids!).  I even heard stories of one of the grown-ups taping a japanese beetle to a bottle rocket.  Yes.  You heard me right.  (Nanna and Papa's roses are being attacked by these annoying critters, so nobody felt real guilty for its trip to the moon.  You might be interested to know it actually survived.  Until my niece ran over it with a scooter.  And my other niece went over and stomped on it with her shoe.)  

Anyway, I have some great pics from the weekend that I'll post soon. 

This family reunion may have looked a little different than years past, but it meant just as much.  I told my mom that our kids will look back on these years with such fondness, just like we did when we spent time at Nanny and Poppop's.  This is their "Paddock Road" and what sweet memories they'll have to share with their kids.  Poppop would want it that way.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Anyone Need a Good Vocal Coach?

Last night, on our way home from dinner with friends last night, the boys and I were talking about what our plans are for tonight.  I told him that daddy and I would be singing the National Anthem at a festival in a neighboring suburb.  (Apparently we're opening for the Little River Band....I used to have one of their CDs when I was in high school.  Cool!) Anyway, Cody asked, "What does the National Anthem sound like again?"  I decided this was a good opportunity to practice it , and I started to sing it.  

When I got to the end, there was nothing but silence.  A couple of seconds later, Cody said (in a very matter of fact way), "Well, mom, it was really good until you got to the end. "  

"Oh," I said.  "What was wrong with the end?"

"Well, it was that note...the high one."

"Uh. huh.  I see.  And what was wrong with it?"

"Your pitch, mom.  It didn't sound very good."

"Yes, well.  Let me try it again and see if I can do it better this time."

"Okay, mom.  I think that would be a good idea."

I sang the end again and this time, I sat up straight and tried to use more support at 10 p.m. while driving the minivan in a blinding rainstorm so I might impress my son.

"Oh yes, mom.  Sooooo much better."

I think I just found myself a good vocal coach.  Do you think it matters that he's only six?