Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Public Service Announcement on Putrescence....

For those of you who have not memorized the entire The Princess Bride movie (are there really any of you out there?)

putrescence

noun
1. in a state of progressive putrefaction
2. the quality of rotting and becoming putrid

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
Cite This Source



Shall I start with the fact that last night my soon to be eleven year old son came to me and said, "Mom, the living room smells like throw up"? Yeah, he did. And yeah, it did. However, I thought it was the leftover Mac and Cheese from lunch that I had thrown in the trash. "Just take the trash out, and all will smell better by morning." Uh-huh....

Except morning came, and it was worse. A lot worse.

So, I lit my Febreze candles, gave them time to start working their magic (they really are magic!), and went in search of The Putrescence.

May I just take a moment here to give a small piece of advice? If you find a Thermos: Foogo--Leak-proof straw bottle leaking from the bottom, DON'T! OPEN! IT! It makes a spectacular fountain...yep, it so does. (The Putrescence is now all over the clothes I was wearing, and I see a second shower in my very near future!) Oh, and the Febreze candles, can only do so much when The Putrescence is actually all.over.you.

Now, in my defense...we have different cuppies for different drinks throughout the day. I thought that the cup in question was the water cup. (I can just hear my friend Randy now "What'd you do? You THOUGHT!" Randy is a very funny fellow...RIGHT!) In fact, the liquid leaking out of the bottom was perfectly clear...like water...only it wasn't.

Anyway, had I known that it was the milk cup, it would have been in the dishwasher, and not out on the table. From now on, ALL cups will go into the dishwasher at night. He really doesn't need to have a cup of water handy during the night anyway, right? Right!

**This is the end of this Public Service Announcement**

And to think, I was considering getting on here this morning and telling you all that I was having total writer's block and I'd be back when I had something to say!

Now honestly...how many of you are wishing I had stuck with that original plan?

Uh-huh, me too!

Now if you want to have a better experience in Blogland today, go here and watch the video. It is amazing, and will totally redeem your day after reading this post!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Taco Soup....yum!

I've gotten a few requests for my Taco Soup recipe, so I thought I'd share it today! I thought that the last time I made it, I took pictures along the way for just such an occasion, but I can't seem to find them on my hard-drive...sigh. So, this will not be a tutorial a'la Barb, but you will have some amazing soup anyway!


Ingredients:

1 lb. of hamburger
2-3 stalks of celery (depending on how much you like celeryWinky)
1 lb. Mango Pico de Gallo (I find this in the produce section of my HEB, if you can't find it, just use any mild Pico de Gallo and add in diced mangoes--the mangoes aren't essential, but add a sweetness to the soup!)
14.5 oz can of kidney beans
14.5 oz can of black beans
14.5 oz can of whole kernel corn
26-28 oz can of Fire-Roasted diced tomatoes
12-14 oz jar of your favorite salsa (I use chipotle flavored, but whatever you like is good)
1 cup of rice (I use regular, but instant should work too)
2 cups water

Add Ons:

Grated Cheese
Tortilla Strips

Directions:

Brown Hamburger, Celery, and Pico de Gallo in a large pot until meat is good and brown
Add remaining ingredients and stir
Simmer for at least 20 minutes on the stove.

To Serve:

Scoop into bowls and top with grated cheese and tortilla strips. (I use Mexican Blend cheese and my HEB sells these Tri-Colored Tortilla Strips in the Produce section--with the croutons--that make a really pretty presentation!)

**I use organic meat and veggies in this and all the canned goods are "no-salt added", so I also add a dash of black and red pepper to my bowl and my favorite salt-free seasoning. You may season as you see fit!
Chef

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hello Cyberspace!

Wow, I was just playing around redesigning the blog a little bit, and I just noticed that my last post was 11 days ago! Can you say, "Melody's been busy?" Geesh!

Just for the record, we had a fabulous Christmas, and even now we are chilling with some of the in-laws. We had planned to come home today, but the weather turned yucky and we decided we didn't want to drive home in the yuck. So, we're wearing out our welcome for one more night!

Last night consisted of WAY too much food, and WAY too much fun! We played "Dance Dance Revolution" (the High School Musical version), Rock Band, and Yahtzee into the wee hours of the morning, and the kids and Ben road dirt bikes for just about every.single.second. that there was daylight to be had. Smiles

Tonight we're all just a bit more mellow, hee-hee. We are all chilling with a movie on TV and our laptops clicking away! I think there are 4 laptops total in use at the moment. (Insert "I Love Technology" song from Napoleon Dynamite here.)

When we return home, I'll be sending out my Christmas Cards New Year's Cards. I ordered this time from an online place rather than just getting them at my local store, and they didn't arrive until 2 days before Christmas...sigh. I had intended to bring them with me and get them sent out from here, but I forgot them...double sigh. So, if you were expecting a card from me...it's coming, I promise!!! Shy Whistler

Well, the kids are calling (along with the leftovers...ahem) so I'm going to sign off. I've still got some tweaking to do on the new blog design, but I'd love to know what you think of it so far! Any suggestions? Anything hard to read?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Blogland! Christmas Lights

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Doughnuts....mmmmm

Last night, I made this cake for a Ladies' Dinner for my church. (red velvet cake with vanilla-peppermint buttercream icing)

Candy Cane Cake for Church Dinner...yum! on TwitPic

This morning, I decided to make doughnuts for the kids, and since I had some crushed peppermint candy left over from the cake, I decided to add a Christmas flair to our usual doughnut flavors.

They are very simple, and all the kids were able to help! Here's how we made them:

Ingredients:

  • Texas-Size Canned Biscuits (if you don't live in Texas, they are probably just called "jumbo") Happy
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • Vanilla Powder
  • Crushed Peppermint Candy (you can either crush them in the blender, or buy them "pre-crushed"

Directions:

  1. Heat shortening/oil either in a pan on the stove or in a fryer
  2. Place biscuits on a floured surface and press them out just a bit bigger than they are and cut a 1 inch circle out of the center
  3. Fry them in the oil until golden brown on both sides
  4. Repeat with "holes" you cut from the center
  5. Remove from the oil and let cool on a plate covered with some paper towels to absorb any excess oil
  6. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to each of 3 paper lunch bags
  7. Add 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar to one of the bags, 1/2 teas. vanilla powder to another bag, and 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy to the third bag, and shake well.
  8. Place a doughnut in the bag of your choice and shake a few times.
  9. Remove the doughnut from the bag and shake off any excess sugar.
  10. Send all the children outside to play and curl up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and your doughnuts!
  11. When you've had your fill, you can invite the children back in to have a few themselves! Drooling Bouncy Smileys

Monday, December 8, 2008

This is David

I have a list in the other room that is half a mile long...and I'm not supposed to be on the computer until a bit more of that list is completed...but I realize that I've been missing for a couple of days, and the twitching was really getting to be a problem! So I decided to just pop in and show you a quick picture of the cake I did this weekend for a woman about to have her first baby...er, babies. There are THREE babies in there, my friends, THREE!!!

So, I figured, I couldn't turn down the request to make her cake. This woman deserves a very special cake, don't you think? Now, I should post a picture of the shower invitation before I show the cake, because it would make more sense...but the batteries are dead in the camera, so I can't take one. However, since she is having two girls and one boy, the invitation simply had a pea pod shaped like a hammock with bows on the ends and a blue pea sitting in between two pink peas in the pea pod. Very simple, and very cute...

...I added some personality to the "Sweet Peas"...


This has gone down as one of my favorite cakes of all time. I just love those little peas!

Okay, and because many of my friends and family read this thing...I also thought I'd share this little video clip from Thanksgiving. Benji turned on the video camera and turned the screen around so that David could see himself...he found himself quite entertaining, and even started to sing "Halleluia--Praise Ye the Lord" right up until he discovered the bouncy ball was in the background...then all was lost.

video

Why he resorted to baby talk, I don't know...and as for those dirty hands? Well, he is a boy. And he was outside. Enough said. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hey look! I took pictures!

I haven't edited the video or all the photos yet from the first two Nutcracker Performances, but I thought I'd show you just a couple quick ones. :)

This is the entire cast. This is a special demonstration at the schools, it's not the full production. They all have to stay like this for at least 15 minutes while all the classes are filing in and the director gives the opening of her speech...talk about dancer's discipline!



This one is mine. She's a snowflake...and a lovely snowflake indeed! (Not that I'm biased or anything.)
I took several photos today while the girls were dancing, so I'll put together some sort of slideshow soon.

These are just some Christmas cookies I made for a party. Yes, David ate one and I had to remake it 3 hours before delivery was scheduled...sigh. What I'm wondering is why he chose to eat Bert's cookie, when there was one clearly marked, "David"? At least then he could have claimed he thought it was HIS! :) Oh wait, he doesn't read yet...nevermind.

Okay, that's all the pictures I have for your enjoyment today! I did get my hair cut and highlighted today, but I don't have any pictures to post yet. :( I know, you're really disappointed aren't you?

What I do have is today's Jesse Tree lesson! We're finally caught up and we're having the right lesson on the right day! So, here you go.....
****************************************************

Day Five

Genesis 12

Abram Journeys to Egypt

1Now the LORD said to Abram,
"Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
2And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
4So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
5Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.
6Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.
7The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land " So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.


Sometimes God asks us to do things that are hard to do. God asks us to obey when sometimes it seems like disobeying would be more fun. There are things He wants us to do that we don’t want to do, and there are things He wants us NOT to do that we really, really want to do.


God asked Abram to leave his home and go on a long trip. Abram did not want to leave his home, but God promised him that He would be blessed if he obeyed. Abram did obey and he went left his home. Sometimes along the way, he made bad choices and forgot to listen to God’s directions, but God kept all of the promises that He made to Abram. The best thing God did was to call Abram His friend.

Can you imagine having the God of all the universe call you His friend? Guess what? He DOES! When He sent Jesus to us, He offered us His friendship for life! He asks us to obey Him, and He promises to be our friend, but even when we forget our side of the deal, He doesn’t forget His. He keeps His promise to never leave us, and He forgives us over and over again.

[discuss ways that God shows us what He wants us to do]

(pray together that God would help us to obey and do the things that He wants us to do)

*Hang packed car ornament on the tree. (This one I bought because I thought it was a great reminder of God asking Abram to "pack up his household" and go. The kids agreed, and will never forget this one!) :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh Jesse Tree, Oh Jesse Tree....

Hello again. I promise, I will get back to regular posts in addition to the Jesse Tree posts, but this week is my craziest week all month (at least for now) and today is the craziest day of this week! So, I'm going to post the next two lessons in our Jesse Tree devotions today, and hopefully post some pics and video of the girl doing the Dance of the Snowflakes in The Nutcracker later in the week!

If you are also doing a Jesse Tree, let me know in the comments! I'm interested to see who all is participating this year. :)

(The scripture readings for both lessons we did today were very, very long, so I'll just post the references here rather than the entire scripture passages...'kay?)

Day Three

Genesis 3:1-19 (split the reading between myself and the 13 yr. old)


(Read by the 7 year old) Yesterday, we read that when God created the world, it was all perfect. Even the people were perfect. Today we read about Adam and Eve and how they disobeyed God even after He had given them everything in the whole world. He only asked that they not eat from one special tree. But they didn’t obey God. Once they ate the fruit from that tree they understood that there is right and there is wrong, and this brought sin into the world.

(Read by the 10 year old) God still loved Adam and Eve, but He had to punish them for disobeying Him. He had to send them out of the beautiful, perfect garden He had made for them, and they had to start working for their food. But God also promised them that He would always love them, and He even hinted at the coming of the savior to save them from their sin.

(Read by mom) Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed God, He still loved them very much. Do you remember yesterday when we said that God is not surprised by anything? God always knew that even though He created people perfect, that they would eventually disobey Him, and need to be punished. So, before Adam and Eve were even created, He had already decided to send His Son, Jesus into the world. When He told the serpent that the woman’s seed would “bruise His head”, He was talking about Jesus destroying Satan’s power forever. When He said that the serpent would “bruise his heal”, He was talking about the fact that Jesus would have to sacrifice His body, to save us. Even way back in the garden with Adam and Eve, God had already planned to send His son to die for us.

[discuss ways that we all make God unhappy and why we need a savior just like Adam and Eve]

(pray together thanking God for sending Jesus and asking Him to help us make good choices every day)

*Hang the apple ornament on the tree (This one Benji made out of "Sculpey Clay" and we baked it in the oven. I think if you click on the picture you can see it close-up. We didn't want to make it too big because we didn't want it to be too heavy.) :)



Day Four

Genesis 6:11-14; 7:17-8:3; 9:8-13 (again, I split the reading of this between myself and Benji)


(Read by the 7 year old) Once Adam and Eve had sinned, and learned that there was right and wrong, all other people born would have to decide whether to do right or wrong themselves. There came a time when almost all of the people had decided to do wrong and God was very sad. There was a man named Noah whose family had not forgotten God and still chose to do what was right because they loved God. So God decided to destroy all the people who were making wrong choices, and to save Noah and his family because they were making good choices.

(Read by the 10 year old) God told Noah how to build an ark and God filled the ark with all the different kinds of animals and then He made it rain until the whole world flooded. All the people and animals who were not on the ark were destroyed.
When the flood was over, and the water dried up, God made a promise to Noah that he would never send another flood to destroy the whole world again. When He made His promise to Noah, He put a rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His promise. Every time we see that rainbow, we can remember God’s promise to Noah.


(Read by mom) When God sent the flood, it destroyed all that sin, but it also destroyed all those people. This is not what God wants. He loves us too much. When we see a rainbow in the sky it reminds us that God has another plan to destroy the sin in the world without destroying all the people. That plan is Jesus. Jesus came to destroy sin, and save the people.

[discuss promises that God has made and kept]

(pray together thanking God for keeping His promises)

*Hang the rainbow ornament on the tree (This ornament was Maddie's one to make. She used those little plastic rings that you place in a pattern and melt together with an iron. She was so glad to finally have a turn at making one of the ornaments!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Our First Annual Jesse Tree!

See that there tree on the left? In just 23 short days, it will tell the history of Jesus' family tree dating back to Jesse! I read about the "Jesse Tree" over at Rocks in My Dryer last year and decided that we were going to make one this year.

Naturally, I got a late start on the planning (iow=I forgot), and consequently spent yesterday running all over town looking for a Jesse Tree Devotional Guide to lead me through this project. But alas there were none to be found...sigh. So, I used this guide that Shannon mentions in her post and proceeded to try and adapt it for our family. I discovered in all my research that there are different versions of the Jesse Tree, but I just went with this one because it was available! :)

I have decided to post the lessons that I wrote (again based on this guide) for the kids. [Feel free to use them if you like!] My plan was to have the 13 year old do the scripture readings, so I used the NASB version because that is what we use for their schoolwork. Then I had a small section for Maddie to read, and another for Jon. [I printed each child's section in a different font to make it easier for them to know what to read.] This particular guide begins on the first Sunday of Advent (day before yesterday), but since we just got started today, we did the first two lessons today, we'll do two more tomorrow, and then we'll be back on track for the rest of the lessons. :) As far as the tree decorations are concerned, I found what I could pre-made, and bought supplies for the kids to make the rest. I bought some supplies that are better suited for Benji to use, different things for Jon, and some things that Maddie will love doing. Therefore, each child is responsible to make certain ornaments, but not every child will help with each ornament...make sense? I'm also including little notes on who read what...in case you care. ;) Okay...Lesson 1!
Day One

Isaiah 11:1-2 (New American Standard Bible)

Isaiah 11

{Read by 7th grader}

Righteous Reign of the Branch

1Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
2The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.


{Read by 2nd grader} Nothing surprises God. God has a plan for everything…before it even happens. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, there lived a man named Jesse. Jesse had seven sons. His youngest son was David who would grow up to be the king of Israel. Even before David, or even Jesse was born, God had a plan for both of them.


{Read by 5th grader}God’s plan for Jesse didn’t end when his son, David, became the king of Israel. Jesus was also part of Jesse’s family tree. He was born many years after David, but He is still a part of their family. God promised His people that He would send them a savior, but David was not that savior, Jesus was. The people of Israel had to wait a very, very long time for the savior to be born. The season we call “Advent” is a time of waiting. During these weeks before Christmas, we are all waiting too.

{Read by mom} It’s not easy to be patient. Waiting for something special can seem very hard sometimes, but God wants us to learn to be patient and to trust God. God says that He has a plan for our lives also, and we must believe that and be patient while we wait for all that God has for us.


[Then we let everyone discuss things that they are waiting for and how difficult it is to be patient.]


(Then we prayed for patience as we wait for the things we are anticipating.)


*Hang pinecone ornament on the tree. (I found this pinecone ornament with a green sprig coming out of the top, and I thought it would work beautifully to represent the scripture verse.)

********************************************************************************
Genesis 1:26-31 (New American Standard Bible) {Read by 7th Grader}

26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

29Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.

31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

{Read by 2nd grader} God created everything. He made the whole world and everything in it. He made the oceans and the mountains. He made the birds and the fish. He made the dinosaurs and the bugs. He made all the people. He made you, and He made me. When God first created the world it was perfect. When God created Adam and Eve, they were perfect too. They never did anything to make God unhappy and there was no sin in them.


{Read by 5th grader} Even though Adam and Eve did eventually sin and now the world and the people are not perfect anymore, God still loves us, and He still cares for the world that He created. Adam was in charge of taking care of God’s creation and even got to name all of the animals. God still wants us to take care of His creation and be kind to all of His creatures.

{Read by mom} The earth is God’s gift to us. Even though it is now full of sin and sadness, God still wants us to take care of it and to treat it with care.


[let everyone discuss ways to take care of both the earth and all the gifts God has given us: toys, clothes, house, food, etc. Talk about caring for and not wasting all that we have been given.]


(pray for help in being good stewards of both God's creation, and His gifts in our lives)


*Hang earth ornament on the tree. (This one was made by Jonathan using sticky-back foam. I helped if he asked, and let him do everything he wanted to on his own, even choosing the colors -- notice Antarctica is white while all other continents are green) :)


So those were our first two lessons. Doing two was a bit too long for everyone, but I think they are enjoying it and hopefully will look forward to it every year from now on!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

I think she must love me....

I had a surprise dropped off at my house today. If you recall in this post I mentioned my love for the "Butter Rum Life Savers". I also mentioned that they are next to impossible to find outside of a Life Saver's storybook.

Apparently, my forever friend, C. took that as a challenge and today her husband and daughter brought this by my house.
Can you believe it? An entire case of my most favorite flavor of Life Savers! Woot-Woot!!

When I called to thank her, she said there was no such thing as "impossible to find" and that she took that challenge...but personally, I just think she loves me. In spite of myself.

And I love her too. :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's FINALLY the Christmas Season

I like to get at least one new Christmas CD each year, and today I bought Amy Grant's latest. Her original Christmas Album is still one of my all-time favorites, but alas I only have it on cassette, and it has been eaten in a tape player on more than one occasion. :( Although the new one doesn't have "Heirlooms" on it as I hoped it would, it does have many of my old favorites from the first album as well as 4 brand new ones. Now that Thanksgiving is finished, I say, "Bring on the Christmas Music!" Yee-haw! What is your favorite Christmas album?

I have also put up a temporary Christmas background here on the blog. Let me know what you think. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Melody is thankful for...

my beautiful children who never cease to amaze me!

Last night as we were setting our family table to be ready for our Thanksgiving breakfast, I put out some new placemats and I wrote this at the top of each one "__________ is thankful for..." (Obviously the blank was each child's name on their own placemat.) Then, I just laid out 4 markers and told the kids to finish them. I helped Dave with his by writing whatever he told me (he doesn't know how to spell yet :)) I think Maddie asked me how to spell a couple of words, but other than that, I knew nothing of what they were doing until they were all finished. This is what I saw when they were all finished...


David's current favorite PBS show is "Super Why" in case that didn't make sense to you. :)


If you can't quite read that, Maddie is thankful for "Jesus and that He made my heart, and the Army." When she asked me how to spell "Army", she told me, "'Cause we have to be thankful for them because they fight for us and keep us safe." I'm not sure what made her think of that, but I was quite proud of her for thinking of it.


This is the one that brought tears to my eyes. Jon doesn't talk all that much, and he gets sullen and angry at the least offense, so when I read that the first thing he thought of was "The Lord" and the way he emphasized his "LIFE", it just melted my heart. If you've ever read "The Shack", you'll understand when I say, "I'm especially fond of that boy!" :)


Really no surprise here, but I was grateful that Benji thought to put the Lord before his motorcycles!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Less Mess Cinnamon Roll-Rolling :)















If any of you have ever made cinnamon rolls from scratch, you will know what I mean when I say it is a messy, messy job. While making them in the first place is a labor-intensive and time-consuming endeavor, the worst is cleaning up all that butter and cinnamon sugar that leaks out onto your counters, or table, or whatever you are rolling them out on. (And yes, I'm aware that my grammatical sentence structure is in poor form today...I'm short on time and interest in "talking right" today. ;))

So, back to what Works for Me...this time when I made THE cinnamon rolls, I did something just a bit differently. Instead of rolling the dough out on the counter or table, I rolled in out in smaller batches in a large cookie tray (the commercial size with sides). I just floured the tray and rolled the dough right on it. That way, when I rolled up the dough and some of all that butter and cinnamon gooeyness started to leak out, it was all contained in the tray! Yee-haw, Hallelujah, Amen, and Amen!

The added bonus to this little trick was that I was able to save all that gooey-deliciousness, and using a silicone basting brush, I got it off of the pan and spread it over the tops of the cinnamon rolls thus adding even more cinnamony/buttery yumminess to the rolls themselves! Can you say "stair-master"? Yeah, I know...but TOTALLY worth it! Besides, I think all that stirring and rolling, and sprinkling, and cutting had to have burned enough calories to counteract at least two bites of the things! :)

For more "Works for Me Wednesday" ideas head on over to Rocks in My Dryer! And now, it's back to my holiday baking/cleaning marathon. :P

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's Gratituesday!

I've never actually participated in Gratituesday before, but since I've been all up on my high horse about being thankful this year, I thought it was a great time to start! Want to join in? Write your post, then go here and sign the Mr. Linky to join in the fun!

I sort of shared this at church on Sunday, and it may seem like a very strange thing to be thankful for, but hopefully, when all is said and done, you'll understand.

We were trying to think of some of our greatest blessings over the past year, and the one thing that kept popping into my head was my iPod. I KNOW, right? It seems like my response to that query should have been a bit more spiritual...but honestly, whenever I started to think about blessings this year, I thought of that iPod! Let me explain...

I received as a gift (whole other L-O-N-G story) a new iPod Nano with Nike+ several months ago. I knew nothing about iPods, but I knew that the only reason I wanted one was so I could have the Nike+ as a running tool. So, when I got the iPod, I loaded it with my favorite music, and linked up the Nike+ and really enjoyed the bonus running tool that it was.

I had an iTunes gift card that came with the iPod, and after I downloaded a couple of albums I had been wanting, I still had a few dollars left. I decided to download one of those "Pixar Shorts" movies just to see how difficult it would be to watch a movie on a tiny little screen. It turned out that the picture is so clear and easy to see, that you hardly notice that it's small at all! Technology, you amaze me! :)

ANYWAY, as I started to experiment with more and more things that the iPod could do, I started looking into ebooks and audiobooks. I happened to find in the iTunes store one of my favorite audiobooks of all time, and I downloaded it and listened to it while doing dishes, and cleaning house, and decorating cakes....etc. While listening, I realized that this would be a great way to get in more Bible "reading" during the day. So, I went back to the iTunes store and I downloaded the entire New Testament! I chose this version because I thought it might be more interesting to listen to AND it came in my most favorite New King James Version!

So, I loaded up the iPod with all 4 gospels and started listening. I wanted to go through each of the gospels for a reason. I was comparing how each of them portrays Jesus...for personal research. But I was able to get through ALL FOUR GOSPELS within 2 days, just by listening while working around the house! This was amazing to me. For me to find the time during the day to sit and read my Bible at this volume is impossible. But not only was I able to hide the Word in my heart throughout my day. I was truly eager to do mundane tasks! It was no longer a chore to wash dishes, it was "quiet time" and "Bible study". I found myself looking for more things that needed to be done, just so I could listen a bit longer!

So, I can say in all honesty that my iPod has truly been one of my greatest blessings this year! And now, I hope that makes sense to you! ;)

What was YOUR greatest blessing this year?

Monday, November 24, 2008

When all else fails....post pictures!

It's been ZiCam central around here lately. Ben started it and stayed home from work on Friday. Then it was Maddie and me, and now it's Dave and I think Jon...although he won't admit it. Hopefully, we all got it at a good time, and we'll all feel better by Thursday. It would really stink if we couldn't taste our turkey and pumpkin pie!

Anyway, it's been awhile since I posted any pictures for you...mainly because I haven't been making any cakes! But as you know, we had a wedding here last weekend, and I did make the wedding cake. The weekend before that, we had a baby shower for a very good friend, so I broke my "No Cakes this Month" rule for her, and I made the cake for her shower.

The shower was a "Rubber Ducky" theme, so I made a "Rubber Ducky holding onto his blankie" cake.



Then of course, there was Wedding Week... The preparations for the cake went really well, everything on schedule etc. (Dave did get into one of the cake layers while it was cooling, but he only destroyed the part that I cut off for leveling anyway, so....whew!) The big issue was that it was 80 degrees here when I baked the cake, iced the cake, and covered the cake in fondant. Then, I took the cake to the venue the night before the wedding and left it there to be stacked and decorated the next day. Overnight, the temperature dropped into the 50's...big problem for the fondant. As soon as I started stacking the cakes, the fondant started to crack. I was able to turn the layers so that the cracking was all on the back side of the cake, and it didn't show from the front, but I was so disappointed! It all turned out okay I guess, but not what I was hoping for. I've done 5 wedding cakes and three were fondant-covered. I've never had this happen before, so I didn't realy know what to do about it. The other two fondant cakes were in the summer, so perhaps that was the difference. I did figure out some things that could be done to prevent this problem again...I just wish I had known to do them before...sigh.



On a brighter note, I also supplied the flower-girl for the wedding, and she turned out beautifully!

Finally, we had our annual Thanksgiving dinner at church yesterday, and for the 2nd year, I was asked to create cookie bouquets for the kids' tables. The idea is to have something fun for them to look at, and then when dinner is finished, they each get a cookie from the bouquet. So, I made 4 of these arrangements...

...for the younger kids who still sit with their parents (and we didn't really want to arm with sticks!), I made separate cookies and individually wrapped them.
It has been a long weekend, and obviously with the holiday on Thursday, we'll be busy this week as well. So today, we're taking it easy and trying to nurse our colds so we can all be better and back to work tomorrow! All prayers are welcome...as always! :)

Oh, and I'm still looking for Thanksgiving songs, so if you know of any, leave them in the comments please!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Music???

I have really been in the mood for some Holiday music lately. I've been baking seasonal desserts for parties and get-togethers. I've been adding some fun Thanksgiving touches around the house. I've even been burning some new holiday scented candles, and using the new "Spiced Pear" scented Countertop Cleaner and Dish Soap by Method.

All of this has put me in the mood for some fun Holiday Music. But since I am determined this year to focus on Thanksgiving and not jump ahead to Christmas until the Turkey has been devoured, I'm kinda stuck!

So I got this idea to make a playlist of "Thankful Songs" and make myself an official "Thanksgiving Music CD" to enjoy. Great idea right? Yeah, I thought so too! :-D

But here's where I could use some help. I need more ideas for songs to use. If you have a favorite song that has to do with thankfulness or blessing, please let me know the title and artist in the comments. And when it's all said and done, one of you might just win a "Thanksgiving Music" CD of your very own!

Thanks! And feel free to direct your own blog readers over here to contribute as well!

Now I have to go in and get the girl from ballet practice. (She's in "The Nutcracker" this year!) Later!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In the Vein of Being Thankful....

I bring you a post from Alex Brown of Signing Time. As you know, Signing Time is a favorite around here, and we all love Alex and Leah!

Recently, Alex, Leah, and Rachel all went on a trip to Ghana, Africa to do some work with a deaf school there. You can read all about it over on Rachel's Blog if you are interested.

Anyway, Alex wrote a post for the Signing Time Blog about being thankful. I can't remember how old Alex is, but he's not 12 yet, I'm sure. (I'm waiting on Rachel to Twitter his true age to me! :)) Anyway, Alex learned a lot about being thankful on that trip, and he shares it so very well!

So head on over here and read what young Alex Brown has to say about being thankful. It's definitely going to be required reading for all my kids this week!

And now, I must get back to the Wedding Cake Madness! Pictures and all the gory details still to come! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Few Changes...

You may have noticed the new look to my blog. I changed it because 1) I wanted a 3 column blog, and 2) I wanted a daily reminder to be thankful.

I was reading on another blog yesterday (sorry, I can't remember whose it was!) about the fact that in our country, especially in the retail community, we too often jump from Halloween straight to Christmas and barely acknowledge Thanksgiving at all.

I don't want to dismiss Thanksgiving as a nice meal with family and focus all my attention on the coming of Christmas. I want to prepare my heart to be thankful before Christmas, so that when it arrives, my heart is ready to receive again the news that a Savior has been born.

So my new blog-look has a wonderful fall look and the words "Give Thanks" right there to remind me to do just that! ( I still have some layout issues to work out, but I don't have time for the details right now, I have wedding cakes to bake! :))

I have also been listening to quite a few audiobooks lately, and my favorites have been those by Anne Graham Lotz. Anne has a way of listing things about God that remind me of who He is and why my heart should always be thankful. Because of Who He Is.

I've decided to post some of those lists here on the blog to bless and encourage you as well while I'm off making wedding cakes etc.

The first is from my favorite of all time "Just Give Me Jesus"

"Just give me Jesus!
He is enduringly strong,
He is entirely sincere,
He is eternally steadfast,
He is immortally gracious,
He is imperially powerful,
He is impartially merciful,
He is the greatest phenomena that has ever crossed the horizon of the globe,
He is God's Son,
He is the sinner's Savior,
He is the captive's Ransom,
He is the Breath of Life,
He is the Centerpiece of Civilization,
He stands in the solitude of Himself,
He is august and He is unique,
He is unparalleled and He is unprecedented,
He is undisputed and He is undefiled,
He is unsurpassed and He is unshakable,
He is the lofty idea in philosophy,
He is the highest personality in psychology,
He is the supreme subject in literature,
He is the unavoidable problem in higher criticism,
He is the fundamental doctrine of theology,
He is the cornerstone, the capstone, the stumbling stone of all religion,
He is the Miracle of the Ages.

JUST GIVE ME JESUS!"

So I will leave you with that, and I'm off to bake more wedding cakes! Have a great day!

*There will be a special Thanksgiving Giveaway happening here. Anyone who leaves a comment between now and Thanksgiving will be entered! More details coming soon!*

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Wedding Week Ya'll!!!

And that means....

I won't be here much if at all. I have some things in the works that I think you'll enjoy when I get back, but I'm afraid that I won't have time to stop in and chat with you all because I am time-management challenged, and everything takes longer than I think it will take.

However, I don't decorate cakes well when I'm twitching, so I will continue to Twitter through Wedding Week, and I'll be visiting all of you through Google Reader during my breaks throughout the day. Whether I have time to leave a comment or not, just know that I was there!

If you don't already visit Especially Heather yourself, you should go and read her latest post. It'll make your whole day!

Okay, I'm off to start my day. If you miss me, just follow me on Twitter!. And if you decide to Twitter yourself, let me know so I can follow you too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Am Scared...

...but not because I have a new president.

I have felt for months that President Bush has gotten a bad rap (wrap?). I don't believe for one second that he always made the right choice. I don't believe that he is perfect...no one is. What I do believe is that he did the best he could. Besides the fact that our president does not have absolute power, and many of the decisions made were congressional or judicial decisions, NOT executive decisions, the President is also reliant on advisers and intelligence reports, and many other things. I am sure there were choices made that were the wrong choices. I don't pretend to know what they were or what they should have been...it's all way over my head. But when I see President Bush, and when I listen to him speak, I see a man who wants to do what is best for this country. I see a man who does not make decisions that are self-serving or in his own best interest. He just doesn't strike me as that type of person. I am proud that I voted for him, and proud that my country elected him... twice.

I wasn't sure at the beginning of this election if I could feel that way about either of the new candidates. However, when McCain was asked what he considered to be his greatest failure, and he answered that it was the failure of his first marriage, I caught a glimpse of the heart of the type of leader I could stand behind. When McCain chose Palin as his running-mate, I saw in her the heart of a mother. A mother may not always make the best decisions, but she always tries her best to do what's best for her children. I also saw someone who loves my Jesus. This is the same type of heart I saw in George W. Bush. I was encouraged. There was no perfect candidate, but there was a choice I could stand behind.

I do not dislike Barack Obama. I don't hate or fear him. I know nothing about Barack Obama personally. I don't know if he loves my Jesus or not. I don't know if his decisions will be self-serving or not. All I know is that he says he wants to help Americans in need, and that's a good thing. I also know that he does not plan to help unborn babies in need. That's a bad thing. That concerns me, but it doesn't scare me. I hope that President-Elect Obama will make good decisions for our country and that we will be stronger and more united under his leadership. Heck, I hope I do have more money in my pocket...I just hope it doesn't come out of yours. :) I will pray for him as he leads our country, and I will pray that he leads us to a good place. Yes, I voted for McCain-Palin, but I don't fear Obama-Biden as many have suggested.

Here is my fear. As a nation, we have basically proclaimed that we care more about money than about human life. And that scares me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do the iPod Shuffle With Me!


Okay, I know I've been scarce. This weekend was chock-ful-o cake and cookie mania, "High School Musical 3" cheezy bliss, and stomach virus yuck! Then yesterday was a long day at the Pumpkin Patch with our Moms and Tots group from church, then menu planning and grocery shopping, followed by a much needed "Spiritual Spa" time at church with the ladies.

I debated with myself all day long about going/not going to the "Spa Night". Cheerleading practice was cancelled, so I didn't need to worry about that, but I am so behind on just the daily chores around here, not to mention the few MAJOR cleaning/reorganizing projects we've started in the kids' rooms, that I really felt that I might oughta stay home and clean something. However, hubby assured me that even though I walked in from the grocery store with 7 minutes to get to church, that they could all find something to eat without me, and no one would die in my absence...so I went. It was FAB, and I plan to go again! It's a 3 week thing, and it's calm, and restful, and everything smells good, and it was really dark, so the fact that I had on no make-up and was still wearing my ball cap because I had no time to do anything with my hair after the Pumpkin Patch, didn't matter in the least! Aaaahhhh. I totally missed Rachel's Bubble Bath Night, but this was better than Calgon any day!

Anyway, suffice it to say that it's been busy around here, and it will just be getting busier as we get closer to my niece's wedding. Weekends are scheduled to the hilt, and weekdays are being spent preparing for the weekends' activities. Therefore, I don't expect to be around much for the next few weeks. I will do my best, but I'm not promising anything...'cause I'd just be lying anyway! :)

So, for today's short-but-sweet adventure, I propose we all do the iPod Shuffle! (Yes, you can still do it if you don't have an iPod.) All you do is get out your iPod, MP3 player, CD player, or Stereo System...all that is required is that it has a shuffle feature...then hit that shuffle button and list the first 10 songs that appear on the playlist! See, it's easy! And it'll be fun to see what everyone else has on their iPods too.

So, here's my shuffle:

1 My Passion -- Travis Cottrell
2 Stars Would Fall (I'm Crazy) -- Monk &
Neagle
3 King of Glory -- Chris Tomlin
4 Hallelujah -- Jason Castro
5 Intro -- Travis Cottrell (Alive Forever
Album)
6 What I Want -- Daughtry
7 Used To -- Daughtry
8 Slow Down -- Third Day
9 Thin -- Skinny Songs
10 Dream On -- Brooke White


And just for fun, how about you add the last song/album that you downloaded or bought.

Mine?

High School Musical 3 Soundtrack!

So, if you have your own blog and you want to, post your list at your place and invite all your friends to play along, but be sure and leave a comment and a link to your blog so I can be sure to come and check out your list. If you don't have a blog, just leave your list in the comments!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Live Blogging Today--Part 2

Hello again! I decided that my lunch break was a good time to end the first part of this Live Blogging Extravaganza and start a new thread. Besides, I put in 2 - UPDATE #3's on the last one and had to go fix it...clearly 3 is my maximum number of updates!

So, while I was away, I finished off the rest of the Spaghetti Soup...sigh, sniff, sob. And had the first taste in my quest to find a viable substitute for Brach's Butterscotch Disks. I LOVE Brach's Butterscotch Disks as much as I LOVE LifeSaver's Butter Rum candies. The problem is, true Brach's brand is hard to locate these days, and Butter Rum Lifesaver's are next to impossible. So, I'm on a quest to find a substitute that I can live with when I can't find my beloved Brach's or LifeSavers. I'm looking for something that can be readily found in any grocery story. My first taste test was of a LifeSaver's CremeSaver's Butter Toffee hard candy. It was a tad richer than my beloved Butterscotch, but yummy nonetheless. Definitely a decent stand in when necessary! I'll let you know how the remainder of my testing goes...

I also folded and switched over the next load of laundry. So, loads 1 and 2 are folded, load 3 is in the dryer, and load 4 is washing right now. Now, I'm back to the cookies! My icing should be just about ready...it's been mixing for about 8 minutes now, so two more, and I'll be ready to start painting 4 dozen football jerseys white! Yee-Haw! I'll check back in when they are all painted and on the drying racks...

***UPDATE#1***

WHEW! 58 cookies are now white. They will get their details in about 4 hours when they've had time to set up really good. And yes, it actually took me all this time. I didn't do anything else while I was gone.

Which means that now it is time to fold and switch the laundry again! YIPPEE!!! Then I'm going to change so that as soon as The Man walks through that door, I can go get that run in that I missed this morning because it was cold. Hopefully, he'll be home before the temperature drops again! I really need to run, I've been standing, or sitting in a wooden chair all day, and my legs are beginning to swell...not too bad today, but still.

Hey, that reminds me? Did anyone watch "House" this week? The story line was tough to watch, and I almost turned it off, but I'm always intrigued by the medicine stuff, so I fast forwarded through all the offensive parts and just watched the medical parts. The lady in this episode had MY KIDNEY DISEASE!!! Fortunately, it wasn't what was killing her...geesh! And it was a different type, because hers was treated with sodium bicarbonate, and that's a BIG no-no for me, but still...it was interesting to listen to them say all the things that the kidney disease could be causing. I'm not crazy after all!!!! :)

Okay, back to the laundry...sigh. Oh, and Cheri--your lunch sounded yummy!!! Aren't leftovers wonderful?

Check ya'll later!

Live Blogging Today!

Hey there! Today is chock-ful-o-stuff that I have to get done, but the blogosphere is calling me! It's been trying it keep me side-tracked and off-task all morning! My solution? LIVE BLOGGING!

I've decided to live-blog through my day with you guys. So, while I work, I'll keep the blog up and I'll be updating throughout the day...kind of like Twittering, but without that pesky 140 character rule! :)

So, welcome to my kitchen! Today, I've got lots of cakes and cookies to work on for delivery tomorrow, so I best get busy! I just started a load of laundry and got my kitchen table all cleaned and "antibacterialized" (according to spell-check, that is a made-up word...hmmph!) for cookie making, and my cookie dough is ready to be rolled out, cut, and baked!

I'm hitting play on my favorite music player, and attacking that cookie dough! What are you doing today? Go ahead and leave comments, I can respond on my next break!

One question for you all...should I just keep updating this particular post throughout the day, or post separately for each update and just number the updates as I post them???? Help me out here, people!

***UPDATE #1***
No comments yet, so I'll just add to this post...assuming that no one has read it yet! :)

One pan of cookies is in the oven and the second is sitting on the table ready to go in. I've turned the first batch and I have 2 minutes left on my timer, so I can come by and check in with you all!

I really should be emptying the dishwasher, but hey, those dishes aren't going anywhere now are they? NOPE!

So what are you all doing today?

***UPDATE #2***

Okay, 2nd batch is out of the oven, 3rd batch is in...4th batch waiting patiently for its turn in the fiery furnace....only 56 more to go!! (Just Kidding...I'm not THAT crazy!)

I think I'm going to go add some more songs to my favorites up there. I'm getting to the end of the list, and there have been some new ones I wanted to try out. Any suggestions? Who is your current favorite artist?

***UPDATE #3***

Okay, 4 dozen cookies are baked and ready for decorating! I also added a bunch of songs to my favorites up there. Not sure how many will stay. I just plugged in the names of 4 artists that I'm currently enjoying and loaded everything of theirs that was available for the player. I'll listen while I work and keep my favs.

Cheri-(not my sister) Sorry to hear the boy is sick... :( and that you're floors are buckling....aggravating, isn't it? Hopefully, you'll find a new place that you LOVE soon!!! Feel free to hang out here today...I'm chained to the kitchen, but I have a computer in here, so it's not so bad! :)

***UPDATE#4***

FINALLY, the last batch of cookies just went into the oven!!! That's about 6 dozen cookies, if you're counting. I folded the first load of laundry, switched the laundry in the washer into the dryer and started load #3. As soon as these cookies are out of the oven, I'll take a break for lunch (my version of This recipe for Spaghetti Soup which I had to adjust for my stupid, stupid diet.) However, my version is still quite tasty...just ask my mom! (Although she did add salt :)) When I have more time, I'll be happy to post my version of the recipe for those of you who also can't have preservatives, salt, or anything else that generally makes food worth eating! Really, I'm getting pretty good at making stuff that tastes pretty good despite my dietary limits...as my waistline will attest! I may even sneak a minute or two to read a little in this book which I would sit and read non-stop until I was finished if I could. I've loved Jon and Kate Gosselin from afar for about a year now...through my TV. But their amazing faith and devotion to God just don't come across in the show the way they do in the book. I think I'll make them my new "Pretend BFFs", 'cause they totally ROCK, and they give God all the credit for all of it!

Welcome DJ! I think I'm following you on Twitter, too. I can't remember if I'm following your wife, but clearly I need to, being a Dr. Pepper girl myself and all!

Okay, cookies are out! It's lunchtime baby!!! What are you all having (or had) for lunch...gee, it's getting late! No wonder I'm hungry! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday...Peppermint Countertop Spray


Last year sometime in the late fall, I read a post over at Scratchin' The Surface which is now Life of GRITS, otherwise known as "Bev's Blog"! ANYWAY, in that post, Bev casually mentioned that she had "just finished mopping her floor with peppermint water, and..." the post went on with some profound wisdom that generally comes in Bev's posts, but there were quite a number of us, who zeroed in on the whole "Peppermint Mop Water" thing, and her comments apparently filled up with questions about it. :) So, the next day, she indulged us by revealing that she mops her floors with a bucket of hot water, a small squirt of dish soap, and a few drops of Peppermint Oil (which she found at the health-food store).

So, I jumped on the information, and began doing the same in my house. I absolutely LOVE the way it cleans my floors with no residue and everything smells all "pepperminty" and "holidayish" when I'm finished!

So, imagine my delight, when around Christmas time last year, I discovered Method Peppermint-Vanilla Countertop Spray Cleaner! It was absolutely wonderful, and my kitchen smelled so yummy...it made me WANT to clean the counters, just so the kitchen would smell good! Unfortunately, I soon discovered that this was a "Limited Edition" item, only available during the holiday season....aarrgghh!

But, as I was walking through my local Target one day, I saw it! It's my beloved Method cleaner, with no dyes or fragrance! I bought it, took it home, added a few drops of the Peppermint Oil I use for mopping, and a drop of Vanilla, and voila! My "pepperminty", "holidayish" smelling kitchen was back in business!

I should add that the kids suggested that different scents for different seasons might be appropriate, so we also use Lavender Oil, Lime Oil, Orange Oil, or Cinnamon Oil when the mood strikes!

Gee, now I feel like cleaning something!

Remember to check out more Works for Me Wednesday ideas over at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Today is my husband's 41st birthday! So, in the time-honored bloggy tradition, the kids and I have come up with a list of 41 things we love about him. And even though he generally doesn't read the blog...or have any desire to do so...we're posting it anyway!!!

Forty-One Things We Love About You:

41. You're a handsome specimen of a man!
40. You make pretty babies. (Um...MADE pretty babies...all done now!:))
39. You allow the children to try things that I never would.
38. You coach the kids' baseball teams.
37. The kids WANT you to coach their teams. :)
36. You encourage the kids to try new things if they want to.
35. You ask me to video tape Maddie cheering when you can't make it to the game.
34. You show Benji what you're working on, and explain how you do it, and why.
33. You get Jon's sense of humor and you laugh out loud with him.
32. You recognize Maddie's inner beauty and you adore her.
31. You smile whenever Dave walks into the room.
30. You always seem impressed when I show you my latest cake.
29. You don't allow the children to be disrespectful to me...ever.
28. When you do something, it is of the highest quality.
27. Everyone wants you to do stuff for them (See #28).
26. When you have worked in someone's house, they want to keep you around even after you're finished.
25. When you work, you work hard.
24. When you play, you play even harder.
23. You don't like to play without me.
22. Or the kids.
21. But you will, if you see that perhaps I need a break.
20. You have allowed me to take a weekend or two away by myself, and the kids were still alive when I got back.
19. You stayed up most of the night to install my new washer and dryer so they would be ready for me to use as soon as I woke up.
18. You even scrubbed the laundry room top to bottom before you put them in, so I wouldn't have to do it.
17. You bought me a new oven one year for Christmas, because you knew I really wanted one...even though you really wanted to paint the house instead.
18. You never do anything half-heartedly.
17. You are always willing to help out any of my family when they need you.
16. You are a now a NASCAR fan...even though when I got you, you were strictly an "Indy Car" man.
15. You always take me to cool places. (This one was from Maddie)
14. You always buy us the best presents. (This was Benji's contribution)
13. You are funny. (This from little Dave)
12. You have a truck. (Um...that came from Jon)
11. You share your chips with us (From Maddie and Dave)
10. You let us eat Pop Tarts for breakfast at the Deer Lease. (From all the children)
9. You laugh at stupid movies with us. (From the boys)
8. You rewind funny stuff on t.v. over and over and over...
7. And you laugh harder every time you replay it.
6. You are my hero (aka Cuh-Cuh Boy)
5. You genuinely like spending time with the kids.
4. You don't like leaving the kids behind when we go out for our anniversary...you think they should be included.
3. You cry at Maddie's dance recitals.
2. You cried at the birth of each one of our children.
1. You love me more than anything else in the whole world....and you make sure that I know that.


Happy Birthday Ben!

We love you very much!!!


Monday, October 20, 2008

And So, I Run....

The truth is, I don't enjoy running. Not really. I mean...

I love the way I feel after a run...but I hate the way I feel when I'm actually running.

I've never yet achieved that "Runner's High" that I hear other runners talk about. When I run, my legs feel like they are made of lead. It is a constant struggle to decide to put one foot in front of the other....again, and again.

I enjoy walking. I could walk for miles with no problem. But to burn the same amount of calories by walking, I would need to walk 2 hours every day, and I don't have 2 free hours in a day. And so, I run...

I love knowing that I was able to complete my running goal that day...but while I'm running, I keep trying to talk myself out of achieving said goal.

There is a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in logging in my runs at the end of the day and seeing that I've run 70 miles in the past two months...70 miles! That makes me feel good about myself. But while I'm out there pounding the pavement, the following mantra keeps running through my head, "You are too old for this. You have osteoporosis and you are going to shatter your weak little bones. You have a kidney disease, and your body can't do this."

Except, I know people who are much older who run longer and faster than I do. And so, I run.

And exercise is good for osteoporosis. Anything that builds up muscle also helps to strengthen bones. And so, I run.

And kidney disease affects more than just the kidneys. It can affect blood pressure. It can cause swelling in your feet and legs. It can cause your body to be toxic. Exercise lowers blood pressure. Exercise helps relieve swelling. Sweating releases toxins from the body. And so, I run.

I'm a total clutz when it comes to athletic ability. I am an asset to the opposite team in a game of volleyball. I couldn't hit a softball out of the infield if my life depended on it. I'm too short for basketball, and to wimpy for football or soccer. And so, I run.

I am an organ donor. Although no one will ever receive my kidneys (unless they are being punished for some heinous crime), my other organs will all be up for grabs when I die. I really want those organs to be healthy and useful to whomever might use them after me. And so, I run.

Anyone can run. If you have use of your legs, you can run...even if it's just for a few steps. It has been said by some in the Running Community that anyone who runs is a runner...it doesn't matter if you run a 4 minute mile or a 24 minute mile, if you run, you are a runner. And so, I run.

It has also been said (by those who run a 4 minute mile, no doubt) that there are runners, and there are joggers (often referred to as "jolly-joggers" hmmff!) and they aren't really runners, they are just "in the way". And so, I jog.... :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

True Tales from the Post Office

I went to the Post Office today to mail some items I had promised to some people...awhile back........ahem.

I dropped the girl at Ballet/Tap class (she insists I always include the "Tap"...she doesn't like it when I just say "Ballet"...whatever!) and I decided to take that hour and a half to do some errand-running...because I didn't want to go home I like to be productive with my time. I stopped in at the Post Office intending to just purchase my postage at the automated machine and high-tail it over to the Wal-Mart(s) for a little brousing.

The problem was that one of my three packages had to go all the way to Canada, and Mr. A.P.C. (Automated Postal Center--I'm assuming) is not allowed to process international postage items....sigh.

So, I made my way to the...end...of...the...very....long...line, and patiently waited my turn. I was able to catch up on three pages of Twitters and I even Twittered a bit myself (one-handed, and with my left thumb, mind you....cause I was holding three packages in my right hand....that's why.)

When my turn finally came, I walked right up to the counter and announced that my packages were all ready to go. I just needed to puchase postage to Canada for this one item. 8-) "Actually", she tells me, "you paid too much for this one. This is a $9.00 flat rate box." (I paid $12.95....apparently the amount for a DIFFERENT flat rate box.) I smiled and said, "Oh, I just answered the questions on the screen and that is the postage it printed." She did not smile back.

She then gave me a form to fill out for my international package, and asked me to step aside while I filled in the address and signed my name...because she was sure it would take me awhile....I suppose. So, I finished my form before she finished printing the other lady's money order (I am lightning fast, people)...so I checked on my Twitters again...and waited.

When it was my turn...again, I presented the form. She stuck it on my package and rang up the postage. Then she starts to weigh my last package. I nicely reminded her that my other packagea were all ready to go, and I only needed for her to take care of the one to Canada. She then informed me that I must be an idiot (with her tone, not her words), because a mailing envelope made out of that bubble-wrap stuff is not considered an envelope, but a package! Duh, EVERYONE knows that...right? So, she charged me another 34¢ for my "package".

Do you see where I'm going with this? She did nothing to refund my $3.95 from the first package, but she charged me the extra 34¢ for the last one!!! Apparently, they are fine with you being an idiot as long as the $$$ are in their favor!

Hello, my name is Melody, and today I did my part to help the government recoup some of the money it has to pay to bail out the financial institutions. .....You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Urgent Prayer Request from Missionaries to India

I just got this from my church. It is from a couple that work with Youth with a Mission. This sounds like something right out of a LaHaye/Jenkins end times book! Will you pray?

Urgent prayer request from workers in India Please pray. We have never seen
anything like this. We knew that Orissa was the most resistant and hostile State
in India as far as the Gospel is concerned. And we brushed off the continuous
threats and harassment we faced as we went about His work. But none of our staff
imagined that they would see this kind of carnage....And it seems to be totally
under the radar of the Western Media ....Let me explain.... A militant Hindu
priest and 4 of his attendants, who were zealously going around the villages of
Orissa and 'reconverting' people back to Hinduism, were gunned down by
unknown assailants in Central Orissa last weekend. Immediately the Christians
were blamed. The cry rose up...'Kill the Christians!' And the horror began....

In the past 4 days, we have first hand witness to hundreds of churches being blown
up or burned and many, many dozens of Christian tribes have been slaughtered. For
no other reason than they bear the name of Christ. Night and day I have been in
touch with our Good News India Directors spread across 14 Dream Centers in
Orissa... they are right in the middle of all this chaos. In Tihidi, just after
the police came to offer protection, a group of 70 blood-thirsty militants came
to kill our staff and destroy the home. They were not allowed to get in, but they
did a lot of damage to our Dream Center by throwing rocks and bricks and smashing
our gate, etc. They have promised to come back and 'finish the job.' Our kids and
staff are locked inside and have stayed that way with doors and windows shut for
the past 3 days. It has been a time of desperately calling on the Lord
in prayer. More police have come to offer protection. In Kalahandi, the police and
some local sympathizers got to our dream center and gave our staff and kids
about 3 minutes notice to vacate. No one had time to even grab a change
of clothes or any personal belonging. As they fled, the blood thirsty mob came to
kill everyone in the building. We would have had a mass funeral there,but for
His grace. In Phulbani, the mob came looking for Christian homes and missions.
The local Hindu people, our neighbors turned them away by saying that there were
no Christians in this area. So they left. We had favor. The same thing happened
in Balasore. All our dream centers are under lock down with the kids and staff
huddled inside and police outside. The fanatics are circling outside waiting for
a chance to kill. Others were not so fortunate. In a nearby Catholic orphanage,
the mob allowed the kids to leave and locked up a Priest and a computer teacher
in house and burned them to death. Many believers have been killed and hacked
into pieces and left on the road.... even women and children. At another
orphanage run by another organization, when this began, the Director and his wife
jumped on their motorbike and simply fled, leaving all the children and staff
behind. Every one of our GNI directors that I have spoken to said: 'We stay with
our kids.... we live together or die together, but we will never abandon what God
has called us to do.' More than 5000 Christian families have had their homes
burned or destroyed. They have fled into the jungles and are living in great fear
waiting for the authorities to bring about peace. But so far, no peace is
foreseen. This will continue for another 10 days.... supposedly the 14 day
mourning period for the slain Hindu priest. Many more Christians will die and
their houses destroyed. Many more churches will be smashed down. The Federal government is trying to restore order and perhaps things will calm down. We ask
for your prayers. Only the Hand of God can calm this storm. None of us know
the meaning of persecution. But now our kids and staff know what that means.
So many of our kids coming from Hindu backgrounds are confused and
totally bewildered at what is happening around them. So many of their guardians
have fled into the jungles and are unable to come and get them during these trying
times. Through all this, I am more determined than ever to continue with our
goal: the transformation of a community by transforming its children. Orissa
will be saved... that is our heart's cry. If we can take these thousands
of throw-away children and help them to become disciples of Jesus, they
will transform an entire region. It is a long term goal, but it is
strategic thinking in terms of the Great Commission. What can you do? First,
please uphold all this in fervent prayer. Second, pass this e-mail on to as
many friends as you can. We must get the word out and increase our prayer base for
this is spiritual warfare at its most basic meaning. We are literally fighting
the devil in order to live for His Kingdom. The next 10 days are crucial. We pray
for peace and calm to pervade across Orissa. Thank you for taking the time to
read this. Please pass it on and help us to get as many people to partner with us
on this cutting edge effort to fulfill His mandate: Go and make disciples of all
nations....Prayer works! Blessings,

Chip & Sandy Wanner Col 2:2 MBITeam
Facilitators to YWAM frontlines