Saturday, October 31, 2009

Babies and Cakes...What More Could You Ask For?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to make a birthday cake for a girl turning 16. She was getting her driver's license and a new car for her birthday, so we decided on a driver's license cake for her.

I obviously had to cover up her personal information, but I wanted you to see the cake. :) I copied as much of the detail of my own license as I could do with icing to make it as authentic as possible. The funny thing was, on my way home from delivering the cake, I stopped by the mailbox, and my new license was waiting for me... it is completely different from the old one, so her brand new license looks nothing like the cake I made! Fortunately, I don't think she has hers yet, so hopefully, her dad still has the old one, and that was her point of reference also. :)
[Besides, the new format wouldn't have looked as good as a cake!]

This past Wednesday was a very busy day. I made a cake for our church's youth group "Holly"ween party. Every year they do some sort of themed party and all the youth have to dress according to that theme. This year it was a Hollywood theme as well as a murder mystery night. So, the cake order was for an elegant cake with a Hollywood/Movies theme. I got the idea from a cake I saw online, but I changed it up and added pictures of the youth group during some of their mission trips to the film reel that is unwinding around the cake. The entire thing was edible. The film reel was cake and gumpaste, the film was chocolate, and the cake was a black and white cake--each tier being one layer of chocolate and one of vanilla.

And while I was making the "Holly"ween cake, my niece was having her baby. Now, when you consider that she's been working on that new little grand-niece for the past nine months, that obviously took longer....but when you just look at the labor part, the cake took longer than the several hours. Obviously, I'd rather be decorating a cake than being in labor, but I must admit, that when I was all finished and the cake was delivered, all I was left with was a dirty kitchen and a pile of dishes. Alyssa, got this...

I think she wins.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


As I said, we had a great time in Luckenbach this weekend. I'd love to tell you all about the event, and what it is for, but I just remembered a few hours ago that I have a big cake project to make for an event tomorrow evening....yikes! So, I'm running around like a crazy person today and tomorrow to get it finished.

In the meantime, I can share with you the video that my husband took of the Trials Demonstration that two of the Mizell brothers put on for all the spectators. My boys can't do all of these tricks yet, but someday....

Monday, October 26, 2009

There's No Running in Luckenbach...

Got back yesterday from a fabulous weekend in Luckenbach, Tx. The weather was perfect, the camping was fun, and my boys did well in their Trial's Competition. I'll post all about it soon, but I need to upload some video and stuff first. [Besides, life in Luckenbach is slower paced and not conducive to a post about running. :)]

In the meantime, I figure I'd better finish the running info. that I promised...just in case anyone has been on the edge of their seats waiting for it. :)

I already gave you all my training secrets, but I've picked up some race-day secrets from some real runners that have been extremely helpful in actually finishing a race strong, and I thought it might be nice if I shared them with you!

First of all, when you begin training, sign up for a race that's a month or so away to give you motivation to keep training. A 5K is a good distance for your first race, and having that goal in mind when you train can be a huge asset.

Secondly, when you start the race, your adrenaline will be pumping, and you will tend to start the race at a quicker pace than you are used to running. This will tire you out too quickly and you may find that you have lost all your juice before the race is over. A trick I learned from a running trainer is to start with smaller steps than usual, and even a slightly slower pace than you are used to. He said it should almost feel uncomfortable, like you want to break out into a full run. If you have been training and find that you can run 2.0-2.5 miles, but just can't get to that 3rd mile mark, try this approach. Generally, if you run this way for the first .5-1.0 mile, and then move into your normal, comfortable gait, you will find that you still have energy to finish that 3.1 miles. (This is what I did before my first race and it worked. The first time I tried it, I ran the full 3.1 miles and I had power to run the last 100 yards or so, full out.) The mantra is, "It's better to finish strong, than to start strong and fizzle out."

And the third tip I got from reading Kristen Armstrong's running blog. She said that during one race, she decided to stop and walk when she was handed her cup of water along the route. She walked for just a minute or so as she drank the water, and then started running again. She said that it made a big difference in her ability to finish the race strong. (I believe she was running a 1/2 or full marathon at the time.)

Okay, so that's about all I've got on the running tips. Except that if you happen to be blessed enough to own or be able to buy an iPod Nano with Nike+, do it! I received one as a gift, and it has been the best thing EVER for my running. It keeps track of your distance, and times. It can be programmed for a certain distance, or a certain amount of time. It can upload all of the information to and keep track of how far you've run, and what is your average pace, etc. It's a fabulous tool, and I wouldn't run without it now that I've run with it! I use it for walking days AND running days, and it is very accurate and a great tool to see my progress--or lack of progress--as the case has been lately! :)

If you've recently started a walking, jogging, or running program, leave me a comment and let me know how it's going and anything you've learned along the way that might be helpful to me as well. And if anyone is interested in a little walking/running challenge, let me know that as well. I've got some ideas running around in my head for a marathon in a month that anyone could do, and it might be fun if people wanted to join in! Leave me your ideas and let's see what we can put together.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time to Take a Break from Running and Read a Book!

A few months after I started this blog, I began recieving requests from different companies to review different items or promote television programs for them. [Why these people think I watch a lot of tv is beyond me.... :) ] Some requests I accepted, and others I passed on. But when I accepted my first request to review a book from Amy at Litfuse, it was the start of something fabulous. Every so often, I get an email telling me about a new book that will be going on a blog tour and I have the option to join the tour, or pass. If I join the tour, Litfuse sends me a free copy of the book, a press release on it, as well as information on any give-aways or contests related to the book. It has been a great way for me to read some amazing books and to get aquainted with some amazing authors.

When I received the blog tour notice for Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey's historical fiction book, The Swiss Courier, I couldn't reply fast enough. In the first place, I love Tricia Goyer. I've reviewed several of her books here in the past, so you should all be aware of how much I admire her not only as an author, but as a Christian, and as a person. I knew that she had written some historical fiction (which has always been a favorite genre for me), but I'd not had the opportunity to ever read any of them before. This was my big chance....and it paid off ....BIG! I've got to admit that I'd never heard of Mike Yorkey before, but if he's writing with Tricia, he's got to be good, right?

Working as a Swiss transcriptionist for the Americans during WWII, Gabi Mueller's life changes overnight when she's recruited as a spy for the precursor of the CIA.

Asked to safely courier a German physicist working on the budding Nazi atomic bomb project to the Swiss border, Gabi feels the weight of the war on her shoulders. But who can she trust?

My whole family has been really interested in all things related to WWII lately. Benji is reading "The Hiding Place" for school, Ben received the movie "Valkyrie" for Father's Day and it has been watched many times in our house (by those old enough to handle it, that is), and Jonathan pretty much keeps the television tuned to The Military Channel whenever he gets the chance.

When I read the preface of the book and recognized the story of Valkyrie, I was immediately drawn in. The story of Gabi Mueller takes place after the failed Valkyrie endeavor, and is immediately both gripping and heart-warming. Gabi's father is American and her mother is Swiss giving her both duel-citizenship and the advantage of being multi-lingual. She is working as a translator for the OSS in Switzerland when she is asked by a superior to be a part of a secret operation. Her family is a loving, Christian family that instantly draws you in and makes you feel comfortable. Her job is dangerous and full of plot twists and surprises that keep you guessing, and turning page after page with very little regard for the laundry piles in the next room, or the dishes stacked next to the kitchen sink.... ahem.

I should state, for the record, that no child went without food or clothing during the reading of this book. Not sure about the husband, though. :)

Did you know that authors are now making video trailers for their books now? Well they are, and you can watch the trailer for "The Swiss Courier" right here!

And you can go here to read an excerpt from the book!

When you're finished with those, you can go to Christianbook.comor to buy your own copy!

[For some reason, I can't pull up the information on the blog tour for this book right now, and my battery is dying, so I am going to post this as is...and update with more information when I can get it to come up!]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are you still running?

I know, I've been MIA again...but on the bright side, while I was gone I got another follower here on the blog. So perhaps the trick to having more followers, is to stop writing! :)

In truth, I was having Google trouble again and wasn't able to log on to the blog last week at all. I tried a few different things, and it finally let me on today, so I'm not sure what I did, but apparently something worked, and so I'm back!

Now, I know that I promised part two of the "Running" post, but it's almost time for the girl to be out of dance class, so I need to be quick. And you all know that when it comes to running, I am no where near quick.

Thank you-- thank you-- I'll be here all week.

But I did want to mention something that happened during this past weekend's football game between OU and UT.

I noticed it during the game and found it curious, but it wasn't until church the next morning when it really hit me... the significance of it.

Colt McCoy had just made a good run down to about the 4 yard line, when the ball was knocked loose from his hands as he was hitting the turf. There was a question as to whether the ball came loose before or after his knee was down, so the play was under review.

The review came back and ruled it a fumble, and OU got the ball. Here's the interesting part. I watched as Colt looked up to the sky and pointed up...just the way a lot of sports figures do when they do something good---a touchdown, a homerun, or really any good play. It's not uncommon to see this act of "giving God the glory" for sports accomplishments these days. But this wasn't an accomplishment, this was a failure...of sorts.

Anyway in church the next day, we sang a new song. (I've tried to find the lyrics to it online, but I have a feeling it may have been written by someone in our church because I found 3 different songs with the same title online, and not one of them was the correct song.) But the song in essence says, "I will praise/bless the Lord at all times: when I'm strong and when I'm weak; when I succeed and when I fail; when I'm happy and when I'm sad...etc."

When the song started playing, that picture of Colt pointing to God even in his time of failure came to my mind, and it occurred to me. He gets it. He really gets it. And now, I think maybe I get it too. Thanks Colt for the lesson, and the example.

Oh, and Hook Em Horns!! :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Run, Run, as Fast as You Can.....or Not!

Yesterday, Spence Smith posted So You Wanna Run on his blog. I've been following Spence on Twitter since he was competing in the Iron Man competition earlier this year, so I was really interested in what he had to say about getting started running.

The article is a good one for covering the basics of getting started as a runner. And let me just state for the record that his comments on finding a Running Store to get fitted for running shoes are ABSOLUTELY correct! When I first started running 8 years ago, I made a grave "shoe buying error" and ended up having to have cortisone shots in my knees just to be able to was NOT fun.

I took a hiatus from the running after that, but decided to dive back in after the birth of child #4 and the diagnosis of my kidney disease. I wrote all about it here in case you missed it.

Earlier this summer, I went on another running hiatus to have a couple of kidney surgeries and what not, and have just recently begun to get back to it.

Spence's post got me thinking about the many different ways to train as a runner. Most of the "training plans" that I've seen weren't really feasible for someone in my condition, or with my schedule. I was recently discussing with my doctor the way I train, and he told me that it was actually a really good way to do it...surprise, I'm doing something right! :) Anyway, I thought I would share with you the basics of how I train to run, as well as a couple of tips I've learned along the way from actual, real runners.

First and foremost WALK FIRST!

I've been taught that you don't really want to stretch before a run, but you do want to walk. I can't remember the reasoning for this off the top of my head, but since I'm not really a very flexible person, I have embraced this rule! :)

Now the thing that is different about the way I train is keeping time. Unless you run on a treadmill with a fancy digital clock on it, it's very difficult to follow the "run for 1 minute-walk for 3 minutes" style of training. When you are running through neighborhoods, or even on running tracks, trying to keep an eye on your watch is difficult, so I came up with a plan that works better for me. I keep track by the songs I'm listening to.

I start my music and I walk for the 1st 2 songs that play. Then I run/jog through the 3rd. Then I walk the fourth, run the fifth, etc. When I'm nearing the end of my scheduled time, I walk the final two songs as a cool down. THEN it's time to stretch. You'll want to stretch out those leg and back muscles carefully to help keep you from getting sore. You will also want to drink lots of water throughout the day. This really helps keep the soreness at bay as well.

Now, I will stick with this routine for at least one full week if I'm running every day, and possible 2 weeks if I'm only running 3-4 days a week. Then the routine is to walk 2 songs, run 2 songs, walk 1 song, run 2 songs, walk 1 song, etc., again ending with walking and stretching. After a week or two of this, I go to walk 2 songs, run 3, walk 1, run 3, etc. Once I get to the point where I can run for 30 consecutive minutes without needing to stop and walk, I begin to add distance to my runs. If I'm training for a 5K (3.1 miles), I will begin to go that distance on my daily runs, I will run as long as I can, and stop and walk through 1 song only when I need a break. I then run again until I need another 1 song break. At this point, I finish the entire 3.1 miles and then finish by walking through one final song. This plan has worked wonders for me and I have trained and run in several 5K events and one 5 Mile event.

I'm out of time for posting today....part two coming soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Ought to be Blogging, But...

I left my netbook at home today...sigh.

I had Benji pack it all up.

He handed it to me.

I grabbed my purse.

I set the netbook down to get my keys.

I walked out the door without picking back up my netbook.


You are now free to go and read a blog where the blogger has actually posted something worth reading.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Seen and Heard....

This year, due to learning issues with #2 son Jonathan, I have switched part of his curriculum to Five in A Row. We used Before Five in a Row with the kids for pre-school, and Five in a Row for Kindergarten and First Grade with the older boys, but have gotten away from it as they got older. However, last year I did almost every subject with Jon using a different curriculum in an effort to determine what was going to work the know, before all my hair turned gray, and then I pulled it all out. :)

So, after last year's "great curriculum experiment", Jon and I determined that he enjoyed reading something and then answering questions and doing projects based on that reading. Re-enter the Five in a Row curriculum! Since he is older now, he is doing the Beyond Five in a Row version which entails reading two fiction novels and two non-fiction books over the semester and doing applied math, science, geography, history, and writing assignments based on those books. (Just for those who are curious, all of the children use Alpha Omega's Switched on Schoolhouse for Language Arts and Bible, Madeleine and Benji also use it for History/Geography and Science. And they all use Math-U-See as well.)

Last week Jon had an assignment based on the 2nd chapter of "The Boxcar Children". In the chapter, the children happen upon a water fountain with 3 levels; the top level was for people to drink from, the middle for horses, and the lower for dogs. In the lesson, he also learned that Kansas City is known as "The City of Fountains" and we studied pictures of all the famous Kansas City Fountains.

His assignment was to then design a fountain that would provide water for people, horses, and dogs, and yet be decorative...somewhat like the Kansas City Fountains, thus mixing function with art.

I gave him the choice of building a fountain out of Lego's, sculpting one out of clay, or just drawing his fountain on paper. He chose drawing...because it's faster...and less work...ahem.

Anyway, the point of all this seemingly useless information is to tell you that when Jon brought his fountain design to me, I noticed that it had 4 levels rather than the required 3. I was curious as it isn't really like Jon to do any more than what is required...if that, but I chose to remain quiet on the issue, and simply ask him to tell me about his design.

This is what he said,

"The top has a cupid, and his hiney is facing the front. (he is a boy after all)
The bottom pool is for the dogs.
The second one is for the horses.
And the people drink... (about this time, he realized that his fountain had 4 levels rather than 3)
Oh, and THAT one up there is for people on horses!"


You can never accuse my boy of non-creativity...nor of the not being able to think on his feet! :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm Having Some Google Issues...

***Update: Apparently, I misread Kelli's schedule for the week, and her surgeries didn't start yesterday. Yesterday was just a consultation to plan the surgeries. HOWEVER, she still needs your prayers, so the request still stands. :) ***

Hey Ya'll,

I'm very sorry that I've not updated in awhile, but for some reason, Herr Google, won't let me sign onto my very own blog...sigh. It keeps giving me the old "Timed Out: Google is taking too long to respond" message, and no matter how many times I hit the "Try Again" button, I keep getting the same message.

I am sending this little gem-o-information from my phone, but I honestly have no desire to type an entire post with my thumbs. Not to mention I can only post in html mode with the phone, which is beyond boring.

Google will, however, allow me to read other blogs, so I'm heading out to catch up with those, and I'll keep trying to gain access to my own blog so I can once again bore you with the details that are my life! :)

Oh, and if you get the notion, please pray for Kelli today. I believe she is having the first of several surgeries today, and not a one of them is to give her a new kidney...sigh. I can't do the whole linky-thing within the post since I'm on my phone, but there are a couple of links to find her on my sidebar. She is the Kelli in "
Find a Kidney for Kelli", as well as "Living in Grace" on my Blog Roll, AND she is listed in my prayer list. So if you want to go check out her story or leave her an encouraging note, please do! Some of her issues are related to the kidney failure, and some are just extra stuff to make her life even more difficult than it already other words, she can use your prayers AND encouragement. :)