Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas snapshots

What our home looked like this morning...


Full stockings under the tree
Opening one of many presents

A baby doll for Haven
A busy girl-talking on the phone, driving her car and grocery shopping
She just realized that there was "food" in her fridge


Trying to figure out how Mrs. Potato Head works

A wonderful day all around. Hearing my sweet girl say, "Oh, wow!" after every gift never got old. Singing "Happy Birthday, Jesus" after dinner was a highlight for us all. Especially when we finished and Haven kept asking, "More, more!" Unexpected friends joining us for dinner filled out our table and our day. Here's to hoping your celebration of our Savior's birth was as rich and full of joy as ours!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Life lessons

Apparently 6:30am is when they find it necessary to stock the fresh seafood case at my local grocery. This is done by completely opening the front of the case for several minutes. Several excruciating minutes of fishy stench. It literally almost made me puke right then and there. The ensuing queasiness lasted for over an hour. I am almost nauseous again just thinking about it.

Lesson learned: Don't go grocery shopping at 6:30 in the morning. Your stomach (and nasal passages) will thank you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The grocery list

I am up to my ears in lists. I have them for everything that needs to be done, what cookies need to be baked and 4 different grocery lists. I know that sounds crazy, and it is. But there is a good reason. One master list and then a list for each of the three stores that I feel will provide us with the best deals on the necessities to get us through the next week. There is also a good reason that I found myself standing in line at the Super W at 9:45 last night. The reason for that is that I'm crazy.

Actually, I think it was a pretty smart move. I have been dreading going to the grocery store just in general of late. Which is strange for me because it's something I usually enjoy. But the crowds and the disappointment when they don't have what I need have gotten the best of me of late and left me sitting at home wondering if I can make it one more day before I need to go. Unfortunately, I had ingredients for several meals except for one ingredient. Very annoying, but don't worry; we have eaten well this week, even entertaining two nights with meals I scavenged from my pantry. I'm nothing if not resourceful.

(I don't really think this is that true, but it sounded good so I'm leaving it in.)

Where was I? Oh yes, at Super W wondering why I even bother to shop with my child in tow when it is o' so glorious to go by myself and peruse the aisles and double check my list without feeling the least bit rushed. Truth be told, Haven is generally pretty good when we shop, but I had forgotten how delightful it is to go alone. To top it all off, Cale was waiting for me to pull in so he could help unload.

So now I am at least one third of the way prepared for all of our holiday happenings. I got enough to make today a good day to stay home and do some baking. I just made a batch of this toffee for the neighbors and there are two other cookies in process. Haven and I are going to have a fun afternoon!

Only two more grocery stops to go...hopefully!

Monday, December 17, 2007

BooMama's Christmas Tour! Fixed now- with pictures and everything!

Christmas Tour of Homes

It's Boomama's Christmas Tour of Homes! There's no front door picture because I forgot to take one while it was still light out. So just come on in and check out our tree!


The star is a bit top heavy and is leaning to the front despite the tape we have on it. (Yes, we are the ghetto to put packing tape on our Christmas tree!) I am so happy that we found a tree that fits perfectly in this spot. For once we didn't loose our wits when we got to the tree farm and imagined our living room was much larger than it really is. Our tree is definitely a mish-mash; full of memories of places we've been and Christmas' past.



This is my coffee table decorations- Haven's nativity. She loves it and I love that. Many an hour has passed us by playing with this.


This is my nativity. I'm a pretty simple girl and I love this wooden nativity.


This is our Jesse Tree. We started this new tradition this year and we are all really enjoying it. I can't wait until Haven really understands what it's all about.

We don't have a fireplace, so I had to come up with something else to display our stockings. And they really do need to be displayed because I love them. Our stockings were one of my favorite wedding gifts and I think they're wonderful. Haven's is pretty cute, too.



I really had a hard time getting a picture of my kitchen. I have these weird recessed shelves in my kitchen that were once the pantry. Now I have a humongous pantry and these are just some strange shelves that I needed to fill up. So they are full of little doodads and another nativity. This is really not a good picture, but I love my kitchen and I just couldn't leave it out of the tour like I'm ashamed of it or something.
Since we've found ourselves in the kitchen, how about a snack? BooMama suggested we share a favorite recipe so here is my absolute favorite Christmas cookie. My grandma "G" used to make these and they always make me think of her when I eat them.
Humdingers
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 pound chopped dates
1 tsp milk
2 Tbs sesame seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1. Melt butter and sugar in saucepan. Add dates and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients.
2. Roll into balls (about 1-1.5 inches) using buttered hands. Be careful- it's really hot! Cool partially and then roll in powdered sugar.

Thanks for stopping by! Sorry to everyone who came when the pictures weren't working!
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hibernation Day

It's snowing outside. Freshly made Christmas cookies fill my kitchen. Lunch will definitely be soup. All our plans for the day are cancelled. And for some crazy reason, I can't get this song out of my head!

I don't want to get out of bed
You don't want to go out in the snow
We don't have to do the things Eskimos do
Let's have a hibernation day, me and you

The snow is climbing up the door
The weatherman is sure there will be more
These blankets make a cozy little cave just for two
Let's have a hibernation day...

I love the snap of winter air
and the snowflakes on my face
How the snow drifts make the cars
disappear without a trace

I'll take a day dressed in pajamas
in a room without a view
If I can spend the day
curled up next to you

I don't want to get out of bed
You don't want to go out in the snow
Let's have a hibernation day
A hibernation day, me and you

-Jars of Clay- "Hibernation Day" from Christmas Songs

Friday, December 14, 2007

My growing girl

We have had a good week around here. Not too much to report as we have spent a huge part of the week focusing on potty training. I am happy to say that we have had a wonderful week with it. Haven has done so well and I am so pleased/surprised/shocked/astounded at how quickly she has understood the bathroom process. She went five days without an accident and the one she has last night was more my fault then hers. We have run errands with no problems. We went and played at a friend's house, too. So I am going to take the leap and say that she is officially day potty-trained. (I am so nervous to say that because it's been Haven's prerogative since the day she was born to make a liar out of me!) Nightime training is a battle I am not yet ready to fight.

It has been a week of realizing just how big Haven is getting. She helped me make Christmas cookies the other day, complete with "painting" them (thanks to Pioneer woman for this great idea!). She is learning 10 new words every day. She says "Bless you" when I sneeze. She has started to say "Oh, man!" in context whether she's excited, frustrated or concerned. Haven has started talking back by either saying, "No" or just yelling at me when she doesn't like what is said to her.

But she is also the sweetest thing...when she wants to be. She still needs kisses on her "bonks" and she always wants mama to cuddle with her at bedtime. The good comes with the bad, especially as Haven is learning and growing into herself.

At least for right this moment today, who she is...is delightful!

Friday, December 7, 2007

That's just souper

I love soup! I love this time of year because soup just tastes better when it's cold outside. I'm joining in the fun that BooMama is having today with her soup carnival. Here is my recipe (which is really a Rachael Ray recipe tweaked by me) for Double Chicken Dumpling Soup. Everyone in our family loves it! It's a bit of a twist on regular chicken soup because it has little chicken meatballs and it is fast and good. It makes A LOT of soup!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
One 1-pound package gnocchi
1 cup frozen peas
Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (sometimes this doesn't make the cut if I don't have it and it's just as good)


Directions:
1. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onions, carrots and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, cover the pot and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic and nutmeg. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized meatballs (you'll have about 40) and add to the pot. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes while you wash up. Add the gnocchi to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and parsley and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, discard the bay leaf and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with bread.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

O Christmas Tree

It has taken us six years, but Cale and I have finally found a way to get our Christmas tree without any major trauma- emotional or physical. When we got married I quickly learned that we were now a family who goes to get our tree. We didn't have one tucked away in the attic ready to assemble, ours was waiting out in a cold, muddy field somewhere. There was something dramatic and endearing to me in this new tradition and I got right into the spirit. It was my idea to make our own popcorn garland to accompany our fresh cut tree. How quaint and old-fashioned, but in the best possible way.

We continued our traditions for the next few years, child-free and with time to spare. We had some cute, festive trees grace all the apartments we lived in. One Christmas spent in Namibia found us with a 3 foot tall artificial tree covered in fruit ornaments (we did the best we could with limited resources.) Our next Christmas was the first in our house and I was pregnant. We remember that year with a laugh, but it was total drama! We got lost trying to find the tree farm, I had to pee (big shocker!), and it was dark by the time we got there. I was so mad at Cale for "ruining" our last Christmas of just the two of us- because, you know, Christmas was completely ruined because it was early December and I didn't like not being able to pee at will and we weren't going to be able to see the trees and I kept getting stuck in the mud. Isn't that a pretty holiday picture. An angry, very pregnant woman yelling at her husband out in the field to come yank her out because her boots were stuck in the mud again. Warms your heart right up, doesn't it??!!

We hadn't even gotten the tree home and I had already lost my will to decorate it. I did manage to push through but then there came the task of making the popcorn garland. I don't know if you've ever made this before, but it is slow going. I truly do love the end results, but it can literally be painful getting there. I gave up pretty early on and my sweet, understanding husband came through for us. We sat watching a movie, me crying on the couch, while Cale was the garland hero. It made me happy though, to see the end results.

Even though I wasn't a complete hormonal mess this past Christmas, we had a whole new set of challenges with a 10 month old on the loose. We still didn't make it to the tree farm before dark, but it was well-lit and we found what we thought was the perfect tree. And it was pretty wonderful, but it was GIGANTIC! We had to remove large amounts of our living room furniture to get it in the room. We sat watching Lord of the Rings while we made our garland and I was ready to throw in the towel on our tradition. I just wanted to be done with the tree and sit and enjoy it. But it's hard to stop once you start. We pushed through even as we realized that a big tree means lots more popcorn!

This year I got smart. I knew we were going to get our tree on Tuesday so on Sunday I had a brilliant idea. Let's start making our popcorn garland ahead of time! This probably seems silly to you, but I can't tell you what a difference it made. We worked away while we watched the Steelers demolish the Bengals and I got so much done. I realized it was all about the anticipation. I was excited to get the tree and to make it look lovely and not already worn out from wrestling one home, fighting to get it straight in the stand and then untangling all the ornaments so we could get them on the tree. We got to the tree farm while it was still light. The perfect Douglas Fir was there waiting for us. The price was great and the people friendly. We got the tree settled in the stand without too much trouble and that's when another great thing happened. We got one of these last year after Christmas and it is a great invention. All our ornaments were safely packed away in one box and freed up tons of space in our closet. I love this box! It was so much fun to unwrap the ornaments that truly are a reflection of our life and remember when and where they were gotten. We had a great time trimming the trim together and Haven loved every minute of it. She was allowed to help hang many of the ornaments and she thought that was the greatest thing ever.

Six years later, one happy family and one pretty tree...we finally figured it out!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Holiday fun

Ready to go, four layers deep!


Saturday night we bundled up tight so that we could withstand the cold temperatures as we watched the Lebanon Horse Drawn Carriage Parade. We had such a good time walking through the cute streets of downtown Lebanon, eating some fair-ish food and watching over 125 festive horse drawn carriages go by. We managed to get a great parking spot at a local church and they offered hot chocolate, Christmas cookies and popcorn free to the masses. We took advantage of thawing out in the basement of the church, too. It was a great night together as a family and something I can see us doing together for years to come. We love good cheap fun!
Family photo- after Cale wiped the chili off his chin!


Haven's great view of the action


We tired her out!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Too much goodness for one weekend to hold (or one post!)

Friday morning, at early thirty, Amber picked me up and we headed north. Girls weekend had finally arrived and it could not have come at a better time! The crazy, stressful experience of the last few weeks slowly faded in my mind as I focused on no kids, no plan, no schedule but our own, shopping, eating and doing whatever else we wanted for 36 hours! Can we just say fantastic!!!

We had a three+ hour car ride ahead of us so sustenance was needed. Panera answered the call and I enjoyed one of their lovely cold, frosty coffee drinks for the first time. It was definitely worth turning around for and between that and my bagel, I was ready to go. I still can't believe how fast the car ride went. We talked and talked and talked and reveled in the experience of no one interrupting us. Before we knew it, the great hulking, navy and yellow Ikea filled our eyes and our hearts started to beat a bit faster. As we were walking in, we both admitted to getting a bit giddy every time we get to go to Ikea. We're dorks, and we know that and I can assure we are both okay with it.

Hours were spent perusing the aisles, getting some great artwork ideas for a little project we're working on, Swedish meatballs were enjoyed by all, and fantastic deals were found. Only one of the things I went there for was out of stock. Considering that I still was able to fill my cart with other delights, I wasn't too bummed. I always love going to Ikea around this time of year because they always have fun ornaments, wrapping paper, tea towels, etc. We were able to get some wonderful deals and some fun little stuff for 50 and 99 cents!

We spent some time driving around checking out our options, getting our bearings for the area. We found some other places to shop at and spent a few more hours trying to cross some items off our Christmas lists. We checked into our hotel and tried to make a plan for ourselves. The problem with two moms who always seem to be on some sort of schedule, is that we have a hard time knowing how to plan complete free time. Don't worry, we figured it out pretty quick and just had to motivate ourselves to get up off our comfy beds to get ready for some dinner.

We shared a fantastic meal at Buca di Beppo's. Amber and I had planned to go see a movie, but we still had a few hours until it started. We made a few stops and then wound up at Target. A day of shopping really wouldn't be complete without some time spent at Target. And they did not disappoint. It only reaffirmed to us why we love Target so much. We both got some great deals (pants for $1.98!) and the dollar section provided some great stocking stuffers (like a chef's hat for Haven to go along withe the kitchen she has headed her way! And seriously- will we be able to stand the cuteness of her in a purple chef's hat?? I doubt it!) We went to see a late movie whose title I won't mention because I really didn't like it that much. It was okay, just not a movie I would have paid full price for. It wasn't awful, just not my thing. We stopped in for a quick late night snack and then headed back to the hotel. My bed was calling my name and we both drifted off to sleep in record time.

Saturday we didn't have any real plans as we had to get back by early afternoon. Even after spending the entire previous day together we still managed to fill our car ride with conversation and laughs. And that is really what our time away was about. Yes, we had fun shopping, but that is definitely not what our primary objective was. For me, it was about a much needed break. It was about remembering that I am not just a wife and mom, but a woman and a friend. I love being a wife and a mom, but the last few weeks have found me worn out and beaten down by all the was being demanded of me. I got out of the car Saturday refreshed and excited to see my family. Amber and I had prayed that we would return home with a renewed desire to serve our families and I am thankful that God shifted my perspective and reminded me what joy there is in doing the job He has called me to.

More later about our Satuday night family fun...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Abide

Abide: a·bid·ed, a·bid·ing. –verb (used without object)

1. to remain; continue; stay: Abide with me.

2. to have one's abode; dwell; reside: to abide in a small Scottish village.

3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last. –verb (used with object)

4. to put up with; tolerate; stand: I can't abide dishonesty!

5. to endure, sustain, or withstand without yielding or submitting: to abide a vigorous onslaught.

6. to wait for; await: to abide the coming of the Lord.

7. to accept without opposition or question: to abide the verdict of the judges.

8. to pay the price or penalty of; suffer for. —Verb phrase

The last few days have found me mulling over the word abide. I have been playing the Christmas music on heavy rotation and so, of course, this is a common theme. In my mind, I have been thinking about the most common definition for abide- to remain, continue, stay. I decided to look it up and see what else it means. I was delighted to see some of the other definitions for the word. I was overwhelmed with how each one is appropriate and can somehow relate to our relationship with Christ.

1. to remain, continue, to stay...I long that Christ would remain with me and because I know He does what He promises, I know that He will (Matthew 28:20). I want Him to continue to be with me, to stay my constant.

2. dwell, reside... While Christ is not my physical abode, I do pray that He dwells within me; that He resides in my heart and mind and is Lord of all of my life. The bigger issue is am I dwelling in Him? Am I taking residence in Him and being found His? (Psalm 91:1,2)

3. to continue in a particular condition...I desire for my relationship with the Lord to continue to grow. I want to be in a continual state of growth and I want my attitudes to be more and more like His.

4. to put up with, tolerate...This definition was especially eye opening to me. If I am abiding with Christ the way that I need to be, then I will not be able to abide the sin in my life. I will be so much more aware of doing the things that I shouldn't and will make better decisions. I know that Jesus, in His perfectness, can not abide sin and if I am full of Him then I shouldn't be able to either.

5. to endure, sustain...With Christ I have all the power I need to endure whatever comes my way. This is a lesson that I have on repeat right now. I have everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

6. to wait for, await...I am awaiting the return of the Lord with great expectation in my heart. This time of year makes me especially aware of longing for His return as I reflect on His first coming. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

7. to accept without question...As a believer, I am building my life on the Word. I believe that it is true start to finish. Even if I am struggling in application, that doesn't mean that I can pick and choose what to believe and what to doubt. It's all true (2 Timothy 3:16).

8. to pay the penalty for...I have never understood this as a definition of the word, but how perfectly does it connect to Christ! Jesus came to earth as a helpless infant so that He might pay the price for my sin. Only through His death on the cross in payment for my sin can I be found righteous before God.

I know that I will never be able to sing the following words again without a deeper, more meaningful understanding of exactly what it means to ask the Lord to abide with me.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Almost back to life

Monday night was supposed to be date night. And when I think about it, it was just the two of us. Haven was safely situated at Amber's house for the evening. The only problem was the atmosphere and the fact that Cale was wearing a hospital gown and looked like he had been run over by a truck. No delicious meal in front of us, but Cale hooked up to an IV bag and me gingerly sipping on some Sprite and eating some pretzels praying that I would not puke.

It's been a long few days at our house as we battled against a stomach virus. Unfortunately, it won. At least for a few days. But I truly praise the Lord that we are all up on our feet again (maybe a bit unsteadily) going about our daily lives. We did have a good Thanksgiving with our family, but our trip came to an abrupt end when we got sick. And now I have a neglected house, piles of laundry, Christmas decorations to put up and a daughter to potty train. After being sick in bed, you have no idea how wonderful the mundane tasks of my day sound.

I'm off to work!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thankful mish-mash

I spent my afternoon yesterday coloring. Haven was napping and so I borrowed her crayons. I have to say, it was quite relaxing and instantly transformed me into a six year very intent on staying in the lines. I color with Haven on a regular basis, but she's messy and definitely does not stay in the lines so it was nice to not have to share my picture with her.

Lest you think I've finally lost it, there really was a good reason for my afternoon of coloring. I was trying to finish up the last of the ornaments for my Jesse Trees. I needed to get the trees done that are for my brother's families before we leave this afternoon. I only had one more ornament to finish (hence the coloring) and then Cale and I had to assemble the devotional books that we made. I am so happy with the way everything has come together for this project. It has been a ton of work, but I know it's something we will do for years to come and will hopefully be a tool to keep us focused on Christ in the midst of the busy Christmas season. I can't wait to start with Haven and Cale on December 1.

We are headed northeast tonight to spend the holiday with my family. Lots of turkey is going to be consumed in the next few days as we have a couple different Thanksgiving dinners. Tomorrow night we are going to my uncle's house to have a small, intimate dinner with 37 of my closest family members. We have to bring our own silverware from my mom's if we don't want to have to eat with our hands. I am really excited to see cousins that I haven't laid eyes on in over a year and to catch up with people I don't do a very good job of staying in touch with. It should be crazy, chaotic, delicious (my uncle is a fantastic cook), and loud. Sounds like the perfect family function!

We will have dinner with my immediate family (only 13 of us!) Thursday afternoon. I am going to be a good daughter and cook many of the sides ahead of time tomorrow so my mom can just focus on the turkey and stuffing. I am looking forward to making this, this and this. Yum! Maybe throw in a pumpkin cheesecake and a loaf or two of pumpkin bread and I have a busy day in the kitchen. But worth every second!

This has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, except that I am very thankful for them, but these are my new favorite sheets. Cheap, cute and cozy- what more do you need from your sheets??!! And while we are talking about cute and cheap, check out Haven's new friend that she procured last week during our displacement. The "zeebee" now sleeps with her and her bunny. I'm not sure if I bought it because I wanted her to have it, or if I felt guilty about our crazy week, or she was sick, or if I really thought she would love it. But whatever the reason, it's adorable and at 50% off, quite a steal.

Since I some how turned this into a favorite things post, let me just tell you about my new love for all things Etsy. I have spent an hour or two or ten perusing all the pretties. I would love to link to some of my faves, but since they are going to be Christmas presents for a few of the five people reading this, I will have to wait. Etsy is not a new discovery, but it's only just recently that I have really looked around the site at all the wonderful things to be found. If you are looking for some different, unique Christmas gifts then do yourself a favor and check it out.

And this concludes my post. I have a ton to do before we leave tonight so I better get to work and quit my rambling. We are headed over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kate and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

I'm not even sure where to begin. The last six days of my life have been a circus. I really have no desire to recount all the grueling details of the week, but thought perhaps a list of words would communicate how crazy life has been at our house.

A face plant (Haven)
New windows
Lead caution and DANGER tape
Swollen, bruised nose (Haven)
Doctor's appointments
Broken nose?
No- Praise the Lord!
Wrong sized window
Lost money
Death in the family
Funeral
Displaced from home
Sickness (Haven and Kate)
Impromptu hotel stay
Grumpy, irritable child
Inept government agencies complicating our life
Renovation dust everywhere
Lots of cleaning
Nice new windows
Finally!

So I am ready for a new week and trying desperately to get things back in order before we head out of town. I'm ready to put all the craziness of the week behind me and look ahead to celebrating with family. In spite of the craziness of life (especially this week), there is much to be thankful for. And tonight I'm especially thankful that His mercies are new each morning.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Favs of the week

I have found myself delighting in the little things this week. And because I like to share the love...

-New Christmas CD: Jars of Clay Christmas Songs It's not a typical Christmas album and I love them for that. So good.

-Dinner with friends and Amazing Peanut Butter-Chocolate Molten Cake for dessert. Seriously, is an explanation needed after reading the name of it?!? Delish.

-Special sales at gap.com that gave me 10% off and FREE shipping. Finding stuff for Haven that wasn't more than $4 was an unexpected delight! (sorry it was only for a day so I can't really share this one with you!)

-Email (and if you don't have a gmail account- seriously, what are you waiting for??!! It is far superior!). I honestly love being able to keep in touch with people this way. Haven came up to me the other morning when I had just gotten on the computer and said, "Emu?" (which was her asking me if I was emailing) Makes me laugh that email is part of my 21 month-old's vocab!

-The Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog is one stop Christmas shopping. Cale and I are planning on blessing lots of people with "gifts" from here. I know a lot of organizations do things like this, but I am a fan of SP and like being able to support their ministry in this way.

-A new issue of Real Simple ready to dive into. The smooth pages and unused crease are calling my name. The Christmas issue is always a fav- especially the 50 gifts for $50 or less. More than a few gifts have been inspired by this list.

-Sewing! I have been on a roll the last few days and been able to cross several of my projects off my list. And they are so cute! They have been fairly simple projects, but they're adorable and I made them so I am taking pride in my craftmanship.

-And it's Friday! Which we all know means Friday Night Lights! I do believe that my deep and abiding love for this show has been well documented so I won't get into again. I heart FNL.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Queen of my castle

Sunday I was declared Queen for the Day by my loving husband. He knows that I have been feeling a bit stressed lately and that I could use some free time. It was a grand gesture that I greatly appreciated. However, I failed to fully utilize my power and position on the day. I realized that it's impossible for me to not do things for Cale and Haven, especially when I am not doing something else at the moment. It is just simply who I am to want to take care of them and to do it automatically.

It is also very much a part of me to want to be with them. Before the royal decree was made, we had plans to shop for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. I really wanted us to do our shopping and choosing as a family so we ended up spending our whole morning doing just that. We had a great time trying to find things that we thought other children would like and have all our boxes ready to drop off at church this weekend. It was fun, but it wasn't alone time.

The rest of the day filled up easily as we had house church that evening. I kept thinking that I needed to just GO if I was going to do something on my own, but I never made it out the door. And that's okay. I love taking care of the family the Lord has blessed me with. And I love that I have a husband who is willing to give me breaks when I need them. I told Cale that I didn't feel like I had taken full advantage of my day when we crawled into bed that night, but that I did have a good day. He told me we would just have to try again next weekend!

And that is just one of the million reasons why I am the luckiest girl!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

More than you ever wanted to know about me....or my 100th post!

In following the great bloggy tradition, I will bore you with 100 things about me in honor of my 100th post.

1. I can't wait to meet the child God has for us in Ethiopia.
2. I love being a wife and a mom.
3. It's all I ever really wanted to be.
4. I am not an ambitious person- especially as it relates to a career.
5. I went to three different colleges.
6. Four if you count my Discipleship Training School credits.
7. But I only have one degree that took me five years to complete.
8. One college was Catholic, one was Wesleyan Methodist and one was Assemblies of God.
9. I am a denominational hodgepodge.
10. I grew up a pastor's kid in the United Methodist Church.
11. I have two older brothers, two sister-in-laws, two nieces and three nephews.
12. I was born in the city that I now live in.
13. I have only lived in two states my whole life.
14. Except for the nine months I lived in Benin, West Africa and in Namibia.
15. As already mentioned, I am a YWAMer and proud of it.
16. My DTS on the Mercy Ships was the most incredible life changing experience.
17. But I didn't really like living in Africa.
18. My first mission trip was to Puerto Rico in March 1998.
19. It changed the course of my life.
20. I hope I have more trips in my future.
21. Cale and I went to Namibia together in the fall of 2004.
22. We literally spent 4 months together 24/7.
23. And we loved it.
24. My favorite number is 22.
25. My favorite color is red.
26. I am a great cook.
27. And I love to cook, too.
28. I make some fantastic Chicken Tikka Masala.
29. I like to bake, too, but am not as patient as is sometimes needed.
30. I am not a perfectionist.
31. I like to take walks on the bike trail behind our house.
32. I get excited about finding a good deal.
33. I also get excited when a friend I've been discipling starts to disciple someone else.
34. One of my favorite books is "Two-Part Invention" by Madeleine L'Engle.
35. My other favorite book is "Knowledge of the Holy" by A.W. Tozer.
36. That book radically expanded my understanding of God and His greatness.
37. I am currently under investigation by a state government office.
38. This makes me angry.
39. I am getting new windows in my house.
40. This makes me happy
41. and also pooorer.
42. I went to a Billy Graham Crusade when I was 14.
43. It was an experience that I will never forget.
44. I have had malaria twice.
45. The second time almost killed me.
46. I have broken and sprained my ankles more times than I can count.
47. I have had surgery on my right ankle two times.
48. After the second time, I fell down the steps and broke my other ankle.
49. I spent six weeks of my junior year in a wheelchair with two casts on.
50. My favorite shows on tv are all on NBC- the Office, ER and Friday Night Lights.
51. The only reality tv show I like to watch is The Amazing Race.
52. I never thought I would ever make it to 1oo posts.
53. The first blog I started reading regularly was In the Midst of It.
54. My favorite season is fall and that's why I got married then.
55. Cale and I went here, here and here for our honeymoon. Fantastic!
56. We spent our first Valentine's Day married driving up Highway 1 on the California Coast.
57. I have been a bridesmaid in seven weddings.
58. And I've got the dresses in my closet to prove it.
59. I heart Target.
60. Although it does occasionally cause me to stumble and want things that I don't need.
61. I love those little orange stickers.
62. I just got new glasses and I really like them.
63. My husband thinks I'm wonderful.
64. Sometimes I agree with him.
65. I like to get Christmas shopping done early.
66. I am one of the crazy people who likes to shop the day after Thanksgiving, even if I don't have much to buy.
67. I delivered Haven naturally using the husband-coached childbirth method.
68. It was an amazing experience for both Cale and me that I wouldn't trade for anything.
69. I had the best nurses and doctor taking care of me.
70. The only doctor I like going to is the chiropractor, especially if it includes a stop with the massage therapist.
71. I once met Bill Cosby in a small airport near my house.
72. I saw Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Isalnd.
73. A sobering day seeing first hand the evilness of men.
74. My head is starting to hurt from thinking about myself so long.
75. I used to sing in a quartet when I was in middle school with some girls at church.
76. I really can't sing that well.
77. I have arthritis in one joint of my second toe. Weird, but true.
78. I broke my left ankle in the fourth grade roller skating.
79. I was then named the Reckless Roller by the cute boy in my class.
80. Cale liked me before I liked him.
81. We used to go to concerts together all the time.
82. One of the best was Appleseed Cast and The Get-up Kids.
83. One of my favorite restaurants in Cleveland is a fantastic Thai place called Lemongrass.
84. I am not a city girl, but sometimes I miss living in Cleveland Heights.
85. I did a lot of growing up the three years I lived there.
86. I have nannied for five different families.
87. I was the personal assistant for David Copperfield's tour manager for about a year.
88. It was a fun, random job that paid really well.
89. Cale and I have completely remodeled our house.
90. We started that the day after we found out we were pregnant.
91. I took the test twice because I didn't believe it.
92. I didn't have a very fun pregnancy.
93. I developed asthma in my 6th month of pregnancy.
94. I craved chips and salsa all the time when I was pregnant.
95. I love the snow and winter.
96. I learned how to drive in the snow.
97. My favorite beverage is water, but I do enjoy some fountain Coke on occasion.
98. I love eggplant in all its various forms.
99. Pizza is my perfect food.
100. I'm glad to be done with this ridiculously long list!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Peaceful

Life is funny. I had the beginnings of a post swirling around in my head earlier today. Something about how peaceful my house felt because there was chili in the crcokpot and the smell of yeasty bread rising was filling the kitchen. A baby was asleep and projects were getting ever closer to completion. Big decisions had been made and plans were moving ahead.

And then the phone rang and life feels off-kilter again. No, nothing earth shattering is happening, but we feel as if the world is conspiring against us. We thought we knew what we were supposed to do, but we are back to square one again. And there was no peace in my heart, or anywhere to be found in the circumstances of life.

I read this earlier today and it was a gentle reminder that He is my peace. He is my only circumstance. The world is conspiring against me, but I will take heart because this is true:

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 NKJV

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another week gone by

I can't believe it's Thursday already. This has been one of those weeks that just flies right by. Recipe Club was really fun on Tuesday night. Many of the women didn't know each other so it had a little awkwardness to it, but by the end of the night things had picked up. I am really looking forward to how God is going to use this in each of our lives to build relationships.

Yesterday morning we had another first here at our house. I mentioned last week that Haven had taken off her diaper while in her crib. Well, she took that to a whole new level yesterday. I went in to get her in the morning and discovered that she had removed her clothing from the bottom half of her body once again. There was pee in several spots but right in the center of her bed was a large pile of poop. Poop that had been walked in and that my daughter now had all of her legs, her feet and even in between her toes. Two baths were required with a tub scrub in between. And this was all within the first ten minutes of even being awake (for me, obviously Haven had been really busy!). Let's hope we don't have a repeat performance any time soon!

There is really no appropriate transition from the previous topic so I'm not even going to try.

I'm not sure that I have been completely honest with everyone about my deep love for the show Friday Night Lights. I have never loved a show the way I love this show. I watched a few episodes towards the end of last season and thought it was a really good show. But then this summer I discovered that all the episodes were available to watch online at nbc.com. I watched the pilot and it was all over. I was completely hooked. Cale laughed at my new obsession until he started watching over my shoulder. Then he was the one saying, "Just one more episode" when it was already way past my bedtime. I am even the proud owner of the first season on DVD. (Can I just say that I think entire seasons of tv shows is one of the greatest inventions ever?!!?) I could not wait for the new season to start and I have not been disappointed. I was delighted when I came across this article yesterday in our latest issue of World. If you don't already watch this show you are missing out on the best show on tv.

Our week has rounded out with a trip to the dentist, meeting Cale and Haven for a free dinner out (thank you for the gift card!), and a rather overwhelming trip to JoAnn's. I am almost giddy about all the delightful fabric I purchased last night. I am feeling ambitious and empowered after reading through Bend-the-Rules Sewing (and I know everyone has talked about this book, but it really is fun and full of great ideas for a beginning seamstress) and have several gifts to make on my To-do list. My quilting squares are going to get pushed to the back burner to make room for all the goodies I plan to churn out in the very near future.

Tonight friends are coming over for dinner (and we are having this and this- yum). The Office is on and tomorrow is Friday (which means FNL). Haven gets to try out her zebra costume again this time delighting all Cale's co-workers as they open up the office for Trick or Treat.

Fall is finally here. I love my life (well, minus the poop!).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall fun

This weekend was super busy and fun and I've got pictures to prove it! We went to a fall festival with our neighbors at a state park and Haven got to take her zebra costume for a trial run. We all enjoyed the beautiful fall day and getting to spend time with friends.


The flying zebra

I'm not so sure about this

And as a little bonus I will tell you that I just took this granola out of the oven. I saw it on BooMama's site a few weeks ago and wanted to give it a try. It's delish. Can't wait for breakfast tomorrow.

This week promises to be a lot less eventful than last. Tomorrow night Amber and I are hosting our first ever Recipe Club here at my house. We have 12 women coming to share a meal, their favorite soup recipe and a night out. I am really looking forward to this and hope that it becomes a monthly event for all of us. Who doesn't need a girls' night complete with good food and good conversation?! I can't even tell you how excited I am to see that it's going to be cooler and rainy tomorrow, too. It's perfect weather for our soup night. It's going to be fun!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fives

Today is our five year anniversary. In honor of my best one and the day I became Mrs. Cale- a list of fives.

Five things I didn't know about you when we got married
1. You snore quite loudly, but can be shoved on to your side to stop
2. You have an amazing ability to sleep through your alarm
3. You are exceptionally handy- I think you even surprise yourself sometimes!
4. You can fall asleep in less than 30 seconds
5. You eat very slowly

Five things I love about you as a dad
1. You get such a big kick out of Haven and love to just watch her
2. You love to get down on the floor and play monster, and ark and let her ride on your back
3. You love to sit and rock your baby when she wakes up when we go to peek at her before bed
4. You are willing to do anything for Haven, especially if it makes my life easier
5. You are modelling to Haven how a godly man lives his life and loves his family

Five places we've travelled to
1. Chicago
2. Las Vegas
3. Boston
4. Namibia
5. Atlanta

Five new things we've done together
1. Did a short stint as missionaries in a foreign land
2. Got a mortgage
3. Remodeled a house
4. Became parents
5. Dreamed about adopting

Five foods that you will now eat (almost without complaining)
1. Eggplant
2. Mushrooms
3. Tomatoes (if cut into small enough pieces)
4. Spinach
5. Macaroni and cheese

Five things we've learned about each other
1. We are very different
2. We are a fantastic team
3. We can and will work through anything that comes our way
4. We are each other's biggest fan
5. We dream big dreams

Five places we've vacationed
1. Banff, Alberta, Canada (where the ruining began!)
2. Cape Town, South Africa
3. Norris Lake
4. Lake Martin
5. San Francisco

Five things I admire about you
1. You have a strong work ethic that challenges me
2. You are a gentle leader
3. You know what is important to you and will do whatever it takes to protect it
4. You want to be a better version of yourself and set about to make that happen
5. You are level headed when I am not and this is greatly needed to strike balance in our family

Five songs that will forever make me think of you and smile
1. "I'll Catch You" The Get Up Kids
2. "Fell in Love at 22" Starflyer 59
3. "New Year's Project" Further Seems Forever
4. "We're at the Top of the World" Juliana Theory
5. "U Got it Bad" Usher (we'll thank Jess for this one!)

Five things that I appreciate about you
1. You love my cooking
2. You make me laugh
3. You are a great encourager
4. You aren't always the best listener, but you at least admit it when you aren't!
5. You always want the best for me

Five reasons why I love being your wife
1. You are easy to serve because you are so appreciative of what I do
2. You make me feel like the most important person in the world
3. You push and encourage me in a gentle way that makes me want to grow
4. You know me and yet still love me
5. You are disillusioned about my greatness

Five things you didn't know about yourself before we got married
1. You give great back rubs
2. You can change a diaper pretty darn fast
3. You like to go shopping with me (well, we're still working on this one)
4. You are a Steelers fan
5. Your favorite place in the world is wherever we are together

Five things I hope for our next five years
1. Adding more little Zs to the gang
2. Traveling to Ethiopia to get at least one of them
3. Serving alongside you in ministry
4. Growing together to be more like Him
5. Learning to love you better

Happy anniversary, Cale! I love you!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A little bit off

To say that our week has been off-kilter is a dramatic understatement. Haven punctuated our week perfectly when I went to get her this morning and found her pant-less, diaper-less and with a bed soaked where she'd peed on it. Delightful. It actually made both Cale and I laugh because it was either that or cry.

The details of my week involve the words "investigation" and "inspection" and had strangers walking around my home with little booties on their shoes and rubber gloves and "samples" and and x-ray machine. Sounds like a crime scene doesn't it?

But the week has also found us celebrating first birthdays- one of the sweet little girls in our house church and our very own nephew, O. New babies have been welcomed into the world and marriages celebrated. When I look at that part of our week there is a lot to be thankful for. And I'm learning that when I look at the inconvenient, hard stuff going on, there is much to be thankful for, too. God is shifting and changing my perspective on circumstances and stretching me to trust Him in a new way. Enough of my whining and complaining about what's happening to me. There is something to be gained from walking through this and if I don't take my eyes off myself, I will miss it entirely.


The interruptions are life. ~C.S. Lewis

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Daughter Remembers

It has been eleven years since I first had to say the phrase, "My dad died." Back then I probably chose different words, but the meaning was all the same.

"My dad's gone. He passed away. He's in a better place."

I probably thought that saying it a different way made it not sound so bad, but is there any good way to say that the person you loved most in this world was no longer going to be a part of your daily life? I don't think there is. In fact, I'm sure that there isn't.

Eleven years later the words still sting. They don't have the power they once did in my life when the wound was fresh, but it hurts just the same. Now the pain has a different type of depth as I think about how different my life is. A 17 year old senior in high school with all the world ahead of her to the 28 year old happily married mom that I am today. Now the sadness is laced with all the things my dad doesn't know about me and my life; all the joy that we are both missing out on.

My dad never met Cale. He would laugh to know that I did marry a man much like him. Cale's life isn't quite as complete without his father-in-law to encourage, inspire and learn from. My dad would delight in our sweet Haven and I have no doubt that his daughter's daughter would hold a supreme place in his heart. Haven's life will be a bit less rich because her Grandpa Jon is only someone who exists in stories.

And while today is a sad day for me (you never "get over" the death of a dearly loved parent, you just learn to live life in a new way without them in it), I am trying to think of all the wonderful things about my dad that have shaped me and made me who I am. My dad left a rich legacy and I treasure it and pray that I will be able to pass it on to my own children.

My dad taught me to love Jesus. He lived a life of faith. He taught me about grace and patience and love that knows no bounds. He taught me how to pray and that wherever you are is the best place to practice it- on the phone, on the street, in a hospital corridor, at home, in the car. He taught me how to think for myself and to form intelligent opinions. He helped to develop a mind that cares about what is going on in the world around me and to not get so caught up in my little corner of it. He talked to me about politics and current events and helped me to understand my part in it.

And no, my dad was no saint. I assure you that my memory of him has not become foggy with the passing of time. I recognize his strengths as well as his weaknesses and hopefully have learned something from both. I just know that my dad made me set high standards- for my self and the people around me. He is why I didn't settle for just a husband, but married my best friend and the love of my life. He is why I don't get hung up on seeing God as my Heavenly Father.

I cling to the hope that we have through Jesus of being with my dad again in Heaven. And while it may be true that he is no longer alive here in this world, I am completely confident in the truth that he is alive in Christ. Sometimes there isn't much comfort in that. I want him here, now, tangible, available. But for today I will find joy in the thought of having all of eternity together. The pain of this world forgotten- all of the moments of wishing he were here and all the sadness of the things we never got to experience- GONE.

Now that is something to remember.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My new pastime

I have been spending my free time learning a new skill- quilting. Well, making squares to be quilted. I still don't have a clue how to actually quilt anything, but we'll get there eventually. My neighbors and I are making a quilt together that will be raffled off as a fundraiser for our community. We are making a modified crazy quilt and I have been making some of the "crazy" patches. It took me a while to warm up to the idea that anything goes and now I love the creativity that goes in to each square. We are using beautiful fabrics in browns, oranges, reds, blues and tans. I love that since there are six different women working on it, that all our patches will be different and somewhat an expression of our personalities and tastes. I can't wait to see it all put together.

I'm sure you will find this riveting, but I'm proud of my squares so here you go!
Starting off simple

A little more complicated, but not really!

This is my favorite and one I'm most proud of. Do you have any idea how long this took??!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Heaviness

It is dark and cold out today. Unfortunately my heart feels much the same. It's not been the best day at our house; some based on circumstances and some are the result of how I've handed it all. We have had a rush of bad news today, some was bad news that only got worse and some was new. Either way, it stunk. And it still does.

I've been angry today- probably more so than I have ever been. Angry at people making stupid decisions. Angry at being out of control and at the mercy of people who don't have our best interests in mind. Angry at the cold heartedness of people. Angry at the timing of all of this stuff happening at once. Angry at how mad I have allowed myself to become.

All that anger makes for a long day. And a very heavy heart. I am very aware that it's my choice to carry all of this around. I'm choosing to not let it go and trust in the Lord. I'm letting myself be controlled by my emotions and circumstances.

Thankfully tomorrow is a new day. Tonight I will try to rest in this truth:

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22, 23

Thursday, October 4, 2007

An early celebration

We are hitting the road this weekend. Haven is going to Nana's house and Cale and I are continuing to head east. We are going to a B&B in western New York on a small lake to celebrate our 5 year anniversary, which is in a few weeks. We have been planning this trip for a few months and I am so excited that it is finally here. I'm also thankful for a nana who is thrilled to have time to spend with her sweet Hay and doesn't really care if/when we ever come back to get her.

Since we are heading "home" for me, the weekend will not be complete with out some friends and family thrown in. We will enjoy a meal with an old friend and her boyfriend we have yet to meet. We will celebrate with friends as they find out the gender of their THREE babies. A visit with grandma-great, quality time with my mom and enjoying a little bit cooler temperatures.

It's going to be a wonderful weekend with my best one. Enjoying one another in a way that is hard to do when life distracts us. Praising God for the life He has given us together. Dreaming about the future and His plans for us. Resting in a peaceful place with everything taken care of for us. Celebrating five amazing years together as husband and wife. Loving each other and the Giver of all that is good.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Pumpkin Patch

Tonight we decided to brave the heat and mosquitoes and head out to the pumpkin patch. We went to a new place this year and it was complete with chickens, horses, and goats which were a big hit with Haven. She was also a fan of the scarecrows, just don't ask her to sit too close to any of them. Even if it doesn't feel like all, we are going to act like it is!

I'm not so sure about this!

Oh this one is heavy!
Too much to see- she can't be bothered to look at the camera!


Look what a year can do! Here's Haven on our trip to the pumpkin patch last year.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ode to fall

O, fall...where are you? I see glimpses of you here and there. But I don't like your teasing little game. I sense you in the cool morning air that requires a coat when we go for a walk. I smell you in the breeze as we crunch your falling leaves underfoot. I know you aren't far off when I need to use the extra blanket at bedtime. But where are you now? I can't seem to find you anywhere as the blazing sun warms us all to 80 degrees again. Why can't you come to stay? Why are you being so volatile?

I long for a day when flip flops would not be adequate footwear. I hope of a day when my sweaters won't be lonely on the shelf. I dream of wearing my new jeans with some boots and not having my feet sweat. Am I asking too much of you? Do you not yet realize that it is OCTOBER already?

What do you have against me wanting to cook soup for dinner? Why do you insist that my down comforter remain in hiding in my closet? Do you not like the apple cider this season? Are the pumpkins not to your liking? What is it that causes you to tease me? Tell me and I will fix it.

O, fall... please come today. Please come to stay.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Won't you be my neighbor?

Last night I had to take my neighbor to the emergency room. She's okay, but they are still trying to figure out what exactly the problem is. For a young, healthy mom, her chest pains and nausea were quite concerning. When I pulled up in front of her house to take her to the hospital, our next door neighbors were coming out of the house, helping with the baby and assisting as needed. They, too had gotten a call and knew that M wasn't feeling well so they went over in person to check on her.

That is why I love my little dead end street. I love that there are people right next door and across the street that will be by my side in an instant if I need them. They care about our family and our daily happenings. They loan us a ladder or give me a cup of sugar when I run out. After living in apartments where no one makes eye contact with anyone else, living in our little neighborhood is everything I ever hoped it would be.

It's taken time, but it's so worth it. Two days a week M and D and our three babies walk on the bike trail together. Our families gather together for dinner and to hang out with one another on a regular basis. This weekend we are having a yard sale together as part of our neighborhood's annual sale and picnic. We are a part of each other's daily lives.

It feels good to belong.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Slow down

It has been a slow week around here. Wiping lots of runny noses, trying my hand at quilting with mixed results, and getting a great haircut have been the highlights. We finally ordered our new windows and a month from now we will be living large with new, clean, bigger, nicer windows. I can't wait to have that project off our to-do list. A slow week, but a good one.

For the last several days I have been trying to put into words what my heart is saying when I read about baby Copeland and her family. God has brought them to mind literally hundreds of times in the last week to pray. I am broken for them and can't begin to comprehend how they are feeling. Through them and a heart-wrenching tragedy of another family close to home, God is teaching Cale and I to be more thankful for our sweet, healthy girl. Bedtime hugs are a little longer, kisses more frequent, and holding the weight of her body against mine has never felt so good.

I take so much for granted in my daily life. Yes, I am thankful for a nice house to live in and a car that runs and money for food. But what I am most thankful for are not things; they are my sweet, kind, loving husband and my sassy, busy, delightful little girl. I am thankful for reminders to love them better and appreciate their presence in my life more.

And I will take a slow week with the two of them by my side any time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Falling Into Reading

The Fall Into Reading 2007 challenge is here and I have a short list this time around. I haven't had a lot of time to read of late so I am hoping that this list will help me to get motivated when I do have time. This is probably not a complete list as I usually get inspired on visits to the bookstore or library and will add to this as the months progress. Am I the only one who goes to the bookstore and picks out books I want to read, writes down the names and authors and then goes home and requests them from the library? I love to read, but my thriftiness compels me to heavily utilize the library. Or the clearance shelf at Half-Price Books! And now the list:

A Widow for One Year by John Irving

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

All My Road Before Me: the diary of C.S. Lewis by C.S. Lewis

The Christian Home School by Gregg Harris

Happy reading to everyone!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Breaking the news

For the last several months there has been some exciting news in our lives that I haven't really been able to write about. I'm not sure what exactly changed today, but something did. We spent the morning at a seminar for America World Adoption Association because we are going to adopt from Ethiopia!

Adoption is something that was always in our minds as a someday thing. But early this summer through a series of events we are confident that the Lord is leading us to making that someday NOW. We have spent the last few months praying and researching and talking and praying some more, seeking the Lord's guidance and wisdom as we pursued this God-sized dream He has placed in our hearts.

Something about going to the seminar today made it even more of a reality that this is our future. If there were any part of us that was doubting this decision, we both walked out of there with a clear sense of purpose and a resounding "YES" in our hearts. We are excited to really, officially begin the process. It is our hope that we will submit our application in the next few weeks and then the fun begins. We have lots of paperwork in our immediate future and untold joy at the end of it all.

We can not wait to see who God will add to our family!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Growing up is hard to do

We have entered into a new phase at our house...Haven is now the proud new owner of a potty seat. And proud she is. She is very excited about this new idea and keeps asking to go into the bathroom. I'm not sure how much she really understands at this point, but the fact that she's interested is all I need to encourage her. No pressure, but plenty of opportunity.



Part of me is not so sure I'm ready for this. She's my baby. We can't possibly be ready for this stage already, can we? Nineteen months have flown by that have completely and forever changed my life and my heart. How did it happen so fast?



The other part of me knows that I'll never be ready for all the changes that come our way, but that resistance does me no good. It's potty training this week, but preschool and slumber parties and college are a blink away. A bit dramatic in my progression, yes, but there is truth in that. Each day that can seem so long as I walk in the midst of it, is part of a chain of days and weeks and months and years that will take us places I can't even imagine at a rate I'm not too comfortable with.

Thankfully there is grace for each day. Not to be stored up and tucked away for the months and years to come, but grace for today. And that's all I need.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Week- end Hodgepodge (a.k.a. a list)

I'm not sure why it has felt like such a long week, but I am ever so thankful it is Friday. Lots of good things to look forward to this weekend with a high temp of 64 degrees tomorrow ranking close to the top. And now random thoughts, from me to you.

1. Tonight I get to take Amber out to celebrate her birthday. Our plans are still a bit up in the air, but I can assure that the evening will revolve around good food, good deals, good conversation and hopefully a good movie. I am so excited that I get to start off Amber's birthday weekend extravaganza with her!

2. We are in the process of getting new windows and it is no fun. I can see why people call up a window company and they magically have new windows all in place a few weeks later. We aren't going on such a clear cut route. In order to cut costs, we are ordering them from a building supply company and then hiring someone else to install them. It will save us mucho dinero, but it is causing us (and by us, I mean Cale) a great deal of stress. It doesn't help that our current widows are probably original to the house which was built in 1915 so they are crazy big and crazy sizes. I made Cale promise me that it would all be over by Thanksgiving. He did so, but rather nervously.

3. I saw these at Target yesterday and I am going to have to get Haven a pair. They are seriously adorable and just what she needs now that it's sock season again. Poor little thing has done a few splits on the kitchen floor and the socks have also severely limited her climbing power (which is not a bad thing!). They aren't puffy and don't have some animated character head bobbling on the front which are big pluses in my book. (Not that bobbling heads are bad, just not the look I'm going for.)

4. This post by Sarah got my mind racing ahead to Christmas and to all the wonderful traditions that we have started with our family. One of my many projects for fall is acquiring all the elements for us to have a Jesse Tree. I am so excited to be able to start a new tradition with Haven this Christmas and believe it is something we will all look forward to each year to help us celebrate Jesus' birth.

5. I'm compiling a list of all my projects that are in various states of undone this fall; it is long and seems somewhat intimidating to me, but we're gonna press on and see what happens. A few items include: learning to quilt with my neighbors, sew a pair of pants for Haven, embroider a set of napkins to give as a gift, paint her hand-me-down wagon a lovely shade of apple green, remove excess items from my house in time for our neighborhood garage sale, and reorganize every closet in the house. It's going to be a busy fall. And is it not impressive that I just managed to create a list inside a list? My writing skills have no bounds.

And now I need to get to work around here!

Monday, September 10, 2007

27

This weekend we celebrated 27 years of Cale's life. It was such a busy weekend that I didn't even get a chance to post that it was his birthday. So this is a bit belated, but still important. We actually started celebrating last weekend with my family and just carried it throughout the whole week. Three different cakes, three birthday meals, his favorite cookies (my special recipe chocolate chip which are pretty much the reason he married me!), an afternoon date, a movie, listening to Haven "sing" Happy Birthday over and over again, going to church, watching the Steelers demolish the Browns and lots of time together- a good birthday week/weekend on many fronts.

More than anything I hope Cale knows how much Haven and I love and value him. We celebrate every day that we share this wonderful experience called our life together. He is a man striving after the Lord who longs to be the best husband and father. He makes us feel loved and cherished and serves us both with a pure heart.

"Her heart went out to wives less fortunate. After all, it wasn't fair that her husband was both the smartest and most handsome guy in town....Thanks for making me the envy of women everywhere."

Happy Birthday, Cale!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Favorite Things: Fall Edition

Fall is in the air. Hard to believe when it's 95 degrees outside but I'm believing. Well, desperately hoping is more like it. But fall means so many great things and I would like to take one moment and share just a few of them with you.

Football season. No, I am not taking about college football. I am talking about the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers my friends. Five time Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. I am a serious fan, which might come as a surprise to some. But it's true and I am nothing but proud of my Steelers heritage. In fact, time was spent this past weekend while in the great state of Pennsylvania to procure appropriate Steelers attire for every member of my family from my mom down to the baby who is 10 months old. Haven is all ready to go. I've taught her to say "Touchdown!" while throwing her arms in the air and she tries real hard to say, "Go, Big Ben!" That's a bit more of a mouthful for her.

Haven in her Troy Polamalu #43 jersey



Boots and sweaters. I am so tired of my capri pants and same old shirts I have been wearing since May. I am ready to get out the sweaters and get some new jeans and wear socks again. There is very little that makes me as happy as a brisk fall day with my cute boots and a cozy sweater for company. And maybe Cale, too. Can't wait for lots of those days!

Soup and chili. I love a good pot of soup simmering away on the stove or some chili bubbling away in the crock pot. I am one of those people who can not/will not eat soup in the summer. It just seems wrong to me. But come fall we are hitting the soups like it's our job. (Which it kind of is mine so I guess that works.) I have also been spending some time on allrecipes.com and saving soup recipes to my recipe box like crazy. And if you've never been to that site, what are you waiting for?!! It is easy to navigate and full of tons of great ideas and reviews.

Corduroys. My husband looks good in a nice pair of cords. Real good. And I am thankful that it's September because I feel as if it's okay to bring them back into circulation once again. Maybe not while it's still above 90, but soon, very soon. It really opens up his clothing options for work and it makes me happy. It's the simple things in life that really bring me joy.

Down comforters. It's a bit early to bring this old friend out, but her time will come. I love my down comforter. Cale introduced me to the wonders of down when we got married and sleep and warmth have never been the same. Perhaps it's because I was coming off the coldest winter of my life where I had to sleep with a hat on to stay even remotely warm while buried under my 5 layers of blankets. Either way, the down comforter is my friend. Nothing says fall to me quite like sleeping with the windows open and cuddling under the downie with Cale.

And now I am off to dream of fall days where I'm wearing my favorite sweater and boots while eating a bowl of soup and watching the Steelers win and Cale is sitting next to my in some cute corduroys and then we go to sleep under the downie. My dream will come true soon enough!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Old and new

The friendships that I have with Godly women are not something I take lightly. My circle of friends fluctuates during different seasons of my life, but right now I feel overwhelmed by all the great women I can call a friend. Last week was filled with time spent with so many of them. Old and new; there is comfort in the friends who have walked with you through much of life and there is joy in feeling instantly connected to someone that you are just getting to know.

I had lunch with one of the new friends last week. She is young and passionate about the Lord. She spent much of our lunch asking me questions because she truly desires to know and understand me. It's refreshing to spend time with someone who doesn't want to talk about themselves! That same evening I was blessed to get an entire evening of kid-free hang out time with Amber. We were celebrating our semi-regular Girl's Night Out. Shopping, eating, shopping, dessert and a movie. Seven hours of total freedom! It was wonderful and I am daily thankful for this woman's friendship and influence in my life. I love having a friend that I can still talk on the phone to for 25 minutes despite the fact that we just spent several hours together. I love that we share the ins and outs of our day and I know what she's cooking for dinner and that I get as excited as she does when she gets a great deal.

The next day I went over to my friend J's house and we managed to have great conversation in the midst of kids with questions and making lunch. J and I have been friends for awhile, but have been spending more time together and realizing more and more how great the other is. That evening I met up with a friend from our house church that I am doing a Bible study with. We usually meet with our daughters in tow so having an hour with just the two of us at Barnes and Noble was fabulous. We were able to share what the Lord has been teaching us, both through the study we are doing and in other areas of our life. We marveled at the way God's timing is so perfect and the way He always seems to tie things together from different parts of our life. It was an encouraging and challenging hour together.

We headed out of town on Thursday and I was so excited to discover that one of my old friends was in town and we would be able to see her. The only downer is that we didn't meet up until 11pm! And guess what we did? We went to the grocery store and Walmart! Living on the edge, I know! But it was fun because it reminded me of years past and doing necessary things at all hours of the night with her. We talked in the parking lot in her car until 1:45am. So much to catch up on and share. New love in her life and all that God is teaching her through that. Encouraging her that you never get it all figured out (and yes, that is encouraging to know!). She and I have walked through a lot together and some of my favorite youth ministry memories, or really, mishaps revolve around her. She is a stay-up-late-laugh-alot kind of friend who I am so thankful for!

Sometimes I have really great ideas and I had one of those late last week. Jess only lives about and hour and a half from my mom's house so I suggested that she and her husband come spend the day with us. We had a quick stop planned at their new house, but I was feeling the need for more time together. Thankfully, Jess felt the same and she and Curt came over Saturday. We celebrated Cale's birthday together and they so easily fit into the rest of our family. We really didn't do anything special, ate a lot of good food, savored the beautiful weather and just enjoyed being in the same place. I miss that. I miss her. I miss being part of the daily happenings and just showing up at her house to hang out because I had nothing else to do. I miss road trips and praying together and cruising the book store for cheap books. But life changes you and moves you and right now we are in different places. But our connection to each other remains strong and I won't let that go.

We change and we grow. We move on and we look back. It's all a journey and at least for this moment I am grateful to walk through it with these women by my side.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Home

I feel like we traveled back in time this weekend as we spent time at "home" with my family. We took a short drive out to the tiny little farm town I grew up in and the memories hit me like a ton of bricks. Some are sweet and wonderful and others still hurt with a pain I didn't know was possible. Time doesn't heal all wounds. Time helps the scars fade, but the wound is still there, under the surface, waiting to get bumped just the wrong way. And it hurts all over again. Not quite as much, but the sting is still there.

The passage of time was so evident to me as we drove past the house I grew up in and saw how tall the trees are that I helped plant over 15 years ago. Our house was right next to the church where my dad was pastor, so the house and church seem one in the same in my mind. Some things never seem to change and I find comfort in that. The house looks much the same- the long driveway , flowers out front and the same old shed out back. New things jump out to me immediately- a new sign, newly painted shutters and trees that have been removed. The "new" addition that we helped build while serving there is starting to show it's age 20 years later.

The weekend was filled with good times and good memories. We took Haven to our family camp for the first time and watched her run around on the beach with her cousins. She sat in chairs where her grandpa once sat and read bedtime stories on the bed where I passed many a lazy summer afternoon reading away. S'mores and mountain pies were consumed,balls were thrown, kites flown and hills rolled down (don't ask!). It was everything I remember it being, but different as I enjoyed it from a new perspective.

We rounded out our weekend with a birthday dinner, a baptism and a family picnic. It really was a great trip filled with family and friends. The kind that makes you feel a bit let down when you get home. Sad that it's over and looking ahead to the next trip. It might be true that you really can't go home again, but at least for this weekend I feel like I did. And I can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brace yourself

We have had a week that has been full of news. Good and bad and some a mixed bag of both. It's been hard to take it all in. My very oldest friend in the world, Kristen, who came to visit us a few weeks ago, is pregnant. And as it turns out, VERY pregnant. She is having not one, not two, but three babies (and no, she didn't take any fertility drugs).

THREE.

3!!!

three.
all. at. once.


Shock, amazement and disbelief! And that's just how I feel at the news. Who has triplets?!! No one I have ever known. It is a major understatement to say they are flipping out. In a good way, but also in a scared, freaked out, can't-believe-this-is-happening way.

The beauty of life is bursting at us with this news. But then we have the other side. Cancer. Surgeries. Hospice. Death. And I am not sure how we are supposed to reconcile all of this at once. How do we take in the enormity of three babies and the joy and the excitement and the wonder? But also fully acknowledge the pain and suffering and loss?

It now seems even more appropriate that I have been learning about trust this week. I have been reminded that God is completely trustworthy. Especially when I don't understand how He's working it all out. I know that He is. I have seen Him do it before and He will do it again. He knows what's ahead and what's behind and He's got it figured out. This all makes sense to Him and I will rest in that truth until I can start to see it all a bit more clearly. Whenever that is.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Down, but not out

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

I've been feeling a bit weary this week. Wondering if what I'm doing really is good. But the Lord encouraged me this morning in a random way that reminded me of a few things that I really needed to hear.
-When I feel like not doing something or giving up, it is exactly at that moment that I need to do it. I can not let how I feel determine my actions in doing something that God has called me to do.
-When I am feeling discouraged it is so easy to become inward focused and have a big old pity party for myself. But that is so counter productive! I need to look to the big picture, to realize what God is doing all over the place, not just in my little piece of the wall (see Nehemiah 4).
-God's Word is my encouragement and if I'm not looking to His promises for me then I can blame no one but myself.
-Look around and find someone else's burdens to carry and it will put my own concerns in proper perspective.

Ultimately, I need to be calling out to the Lord. He is my strength. A wise friend said the other day that prayer is the language of dependence. Not praying is a sign of our independence and self-sufficiency. It's a dangerous place to be and somewhere I go to visit far too often. I don't want to be independent. When I am walking in my own strength I wind up discouraged because I get tired, frustrated and afraid. Thankfully, it's my choice to walk out of that mess and be led by His Spirit.

So I'm pressing on with the good the Lord has given me to do; with a better attitude, a refreshed spirit and His strength!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Share and share alike

I have been on a major cooking/baking spree of late. I am not sure where it came from exactly, but I know that Cale sure hasn't minded. I have also been wanting to try every new recipe I come across. In the last week or so we have had so many new, good foods for dinner. Cale is not a huge eggplant fan like I am but he even really liked Pasta Melanzana. We decided to put to good use all of the great vegetables I got at a farmer's market and made this Creamy Vegetable Chowder (or you can call it Rachael Ray's silly name for it Choup! And be warned, it was good but it made a ton. We shared with the neighbors and still ate it for a few days!) We enjoyed Creamy Stuffed French Toast (sans the hearts) for breakfast one morning. These were a big hit with the under 2 crowd.

Cale seems to be going through cookie withdrawal around here (I called him yesterday at work and caught him in the act of buying Oreos from a vending machine!) so I decided to help him out a little bit. I found a great recipe for so-called Healthy Oatmeal Cookies. It only makes 18 cookies which is probably why they are considered "healthy" because you can't eat 6 of them at a time without feeling like a total pig because you just ate a third of the cookies. But really, they are delicious and don't taste healthy at all. Best of all is that the recipe has ingredients that I keep in my pantry so they will be easy to put together anytime. So in the spirit of sharing, here you go:

Whisk the following together in a small bowl:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup while flour
1 tsp baking soda

In separate large bowl, whisk together
1 egg
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tsp vanilla

Add flour to mixture and stir to combine. Mix in 1/2 cup old fashioned oats and 1/2 dried currants or raisins (I used golden raisins).

Using 2 Tbs of dough per cookie, roll and form into ball. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cook on cookie sheet for a few minutes before placing on a wire rack to completely cool. Yields 18 cookies. Yum!

-from Everyday Foods September 2007