Friday, December 19, 2008

Another 'wow' moment!

I, um...avoided blogging about something that kind of bebuggered me last night because it really did sound, well, awful to even be thinking it. It just bugged me, ok? Well, now that it's taken a bit of a turn and made me go "WOW", I'll go ahead and make a bit of a fool out of myself.

I was at the commissary last night, counting up every penny I was spending because we have a little over $300 to last us till the end of the month...and that has to include getting TWO vehicles down to Florida...and behind me, a single soldier with his weekend ration of junk food stepped into the express lane. The commissary manager walked up to him and asked to see his ID card, then said "The commissary would like to give you a $25 gift certificate for the holidays. Merry Christmas!" Very wonderful, even I agree with that. It's great that any agency would be looking to honor our active duty servicemembers with Christmas "bonuses", but what he did with it turned that fluffy moment into something that churned my stomach. Like other active-duty families around me, I was sitting there scrimping and calculating whether we could have seconds on salad last night....and this single soldier used his gift certificate to buy......cigarettes.

Yes, it bothered me. I'm not going to deny that. Momentary jealousy? Eh, maybe. More so that there are so many people hurting financially this year, it's just hard to see gifts that generous used on something so....oh, I don't know, wasteful?

I spent a good amount of time immediately and afterward praying about my own attitude, knowing that somehow, God would take care of things. He always does. Well.....Pete came out of the office today with an envelope today at lunchtime from the installation chaplain....full of commissary gift certificates for TWO HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS!

Yep, I'll eat crow. And I bought nothing wasteful, I'll have you know!

Slip, slip, slippin' away!

Time, that is. We have three days left (counting today) till we take off for Florida...and I'm NOWHERE near ready. Nothing new, I do tend to be a last-minute person...I just work better that way. However, this time, I'm scaring myself.

At least now the wrapping paper is finally dug out of the storage room so I can start wrapping. Yes, I said START. Not a single gift wrapped. Nothing mailed. Nothing packed. My groceries (for THIS week) still aren't bought, and it's Friday! (How'd that work out?) But the finally decorated! Why does that not feel like a victory? Maybe because my to-do list is longer than my got-it-done list? I still don't have our suitcases out ready to be packed (another on Pete's list), so I guess I'll resort to stacks of stuff on the beds for the moment.

Looks like I'll have to get the warmer-weather clothes back out, because the forecast for the panhandle is nearing 80 degrees on Christmas Day! For the record, that's one of the reasons I don't like Florida!

I'll be on a blogging hiatus during our trip, as I'm sure there's just going to be too much to be done to sit in front of a computer! I wish each and every one of you a blessed Christmas, and hope that you all have a wonderfully peaceful week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BFS--Betcha Can't Eat Just One!

Memory Verse: 1 Corinthians 10:13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Introduction: Betcha’ Can’t Eat Just One (Lays Potato Chips)
This weeks topic deals with eating potato chips and how good they are. I love salty foods so I have a terrible time eating just one. Along with these chips that I can’t eat just one of, I cannot get enough of studying my Bible. I think it’s ironic that chips (salty foods) are such a temptation. In the Bible (Leviticus) it tells us that salt is regarded as a disinfectant and when babies were born the midwife covered the baby with salt to clean its body and also to ward away any evil spirits or demons.
Assignment: Tell us about something that you can’t get enough of and what scripture(s) in the Bible you cannot tear yourself away from.

I have serious issues with salty foods....I LOVE them, but usually not by themselves. I also have a weakness for cream cheese. Bad, bad, bad. My worst (and weirdest yet) weakness has to be dipping Spicy Guacamole Doritos in whipped cream cheese. I can eat a whole bag. It's awful. I end up with green fingers and funny looking cream cheese on my bagel the next morning! But OH, it's yummy. Yes, I actually did start that while I was pregnant (Dani's fault!), but it's a craving I kept after the preggo hormones died off! Funny thing is, I really don't like plain nacho Doritos, I only like the spicy ones like the Guacamole and (my most recent favorite find) Spicy Sweet Chili. OH my....did I just drool on the keyboard??

As far as Scriptures I can't tear myself away from, I tend to gravitate toward passages that instruct regarding daily living--the matters of the heart and the responsibility Christians have to live out our faith. Probably my favorite is:

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in th name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
~~Colossians 3:15-17

That passage has such strong wording! Phrases like "rule in your hearts", "dwell in you richly", teaching and admonishing in all wisdom", and especially "do everything"....that leads us to believe just how EXTREME God expects us to live for Him. There's just no allowance for mediocrity there! I love it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Answering "THE" question

I've actually been asked about this topic (in person) several times in the last few months, so I decided I'd go ahead and blog about it. I'm not doing this to step on any toes, really. Just to get the 'splanation out there so the folks asking about it can read my "put together" thoughts. As I've stated before, I think much better when I'm writing than when I'm speaking.

Not too long ago, while perusing one of the discussion boards I piddle around at now and then, I came across a mom who was wondering how to explain to her children just why people were SO cruel with their comments about the size of their family. Her story wasn't the typical "Are they all yours?", no....this one took the cake. She'd gone to run errands with her five children, who were being well-behaved (not the standard post-office brats who can't seem to understand that public offices aren't playgrounds), and just the mere size of her brood aroused the ire of a man in the office. He resorted to shouting insults and suggesting very loudly that she should just "slit her throat and get it over with", that she must be psychotic and needed to be on medication. She calmly assured him that she did indeed LOVE the wonderful children that God had blessed their family with, but his tirade continued, to the amusement of several others in the office. Her children were terrified, but that didn't seem to deter the nastiness, and when she got home, she had to attempt to alleviate her 9-year-old's fears that their mother was one step away from insanity.

I've had some off-the-wall comments since our family size expanded past the 2.1-child "average", but that one...I'm not sure I'd have handled it as calmly as she did. What is WRONG with people? Nevermind that mothers don't seem to be enforcing the "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" rule anymore, this type of attitude goes straight to the core. Has our society truly rejected what God calls a blessing, and decided across-the-board that children are burdens to be avoided, insulted, and considered a "curse" when their arrival is unplanned by the parents?

By society's standards, what is the criteria for determining how many children each family should have? National averages? Seating arrangements in a vehicle (don't laugh, I've actually heard that one--"Don't have more children than your sportscar can hold")? How many bedrooms a house has and whether or not you'll still have space for that media room and an office? Social status? Are only the Brangelinas of the world allowed to have large families (nevermind they're not even MARRIED--he says they'll marry when "everyone" can)? Maybe it's your tax bracket or the size of your bank account. Is it the number of designer wardrobes you can afford and how many college degrees you are willing to finance?

It was actually that question that prompted us to reverse what we now consider to be a horrible mistake, although it took almost eight years of mental agony to get to that point. We'd not really even considered the attitude we'd taken toward children until the vasectomy had already been done. But almost immediately, a comment I'd only half paid attention to started echoing in my mind. A year before the vasectomy, when we announced our third despite-birth-control pregnancy, the only thing we could say was "Obviously God meant for us to have three children." The reply was "Well, I certainly hope He doesn't intend for you to have FOUR!" We lost that baby, and very quickly made the decision to end the possibility of having more "accidents". We weren't even really thinking about what we'd said regarding that third pregnancy being "obvious". It didn't really hit home until we realized we were feeling a twinge of heartache every time one of our friends announced a pregnancy by using the words "blessing from God". With each birth around us, the fact that maybe God had something in mind that we'd not even considered for our family smacked us firmly across both cheeks. Did we even believe they were a blessing? Or was the 'blessing' thing just a fluffy little euphemism that we attached to baby shower cards just as flippantly as people say "bundle of joy"? Is it true that they really are a BLESSING? A gift? Something that God WANTS us to have?

What if?

We have both known for a long time that we are the type of couple who does things differently. Neither of us has ever been "mainstream" people, but yet there we were, letting mainstream ideas form us and plan our life so we looked like, talked like, and lived like everyone else in the world. What if God wanted something different? Looking to God's Word, neither one of us could find anything in Scripture that spoke favorably of man (or woman, for that matter) plotting his own path--there is plenty speaking negatively of man's "plans", though. We also couldn't find anything that agreed with the world's anti-child view of family planning. It perplexed us to learn that until right around the beginning of the 20th century, the vast majority of the world's Bible-preaching churches (of just about all 'flavors') condemned the use of birth control, and people truly believed that God was the Author of ALL life--that each and every child born into every family was a blessing to be treasured. More horrifying was the knowledge that Planned Parenthood's founder is one of the most outspoken humanists of our time, and that "modern" birth control was used by feminists to promote the idea that a woman should have "more" than the life of a wife and mom. As if all of that wasn't enough, we then found out that the now widely-accepted birth control pill and IUD (as well as several other forms of hormonal contraception) use aborifacient--abortion-inducing--methods of "avoiding" pregnancy (that is, unless you believe that life begins at conception and not only when implantation occurs).

All of these things really began to eat at our hearts, and we were convicted to hand that portion of our lives back over to God. In November of 2001, we did just that--Pete's vasectomy was reversed. We didn't have the reversal in an effort to have as many babies as we could possibly fill our home with. We're not competing with the Duggars, I assure you--although Morgan and Jamie are fascinated by such a large, loving family when we watch them on TV. We had the reversal to surrender to the Lord a portion of our lives that we'd kept Him out of and told Him that we "knew better". It has meant adding four new faces to our family portrait, and in all honesty, we'd welcome ten more if that's what the Lord has in mind for our family before my body loses the ability to bear children safely. Why? Because we believe God when He says He opens and closes the womb. We don't have children because they're just some natural function of a biological event, we have children because God chooses to place each and every one of them in our family.

Do we judge people who don't do things the way we do? Heavens, no. Quite frankly, I'm a little too busy with my own bunch to worry about somebody else's convictions! Am I overwhelmed? Sometimes, but you know....I find myself far less overwhelmed than I was with just the first two, because my heart and my mind are in a different place now. I don't see my kids as burdens. I don't see them as financial liabilities or injustices against my own personal dreams. I see them as individual souls, to be raised up for God's service and aimed into the world to bring glory to Him.

Am I psychotic? Maybe...I'm sure I have my moments! I'm human, I'm not perfect, and I struggle with my own issues just like every one else in this world. Am I on medication? Well, that depends--does chocolate count?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook 12/15/08

FOR TODAY, December 15th...
Outside my window... it is dreary, but much warmer than it has been lately.
I am thinking... that there is just TOO much to do for me to be sitting here doing this...but I need some down-time too!
I am thankful for... God's provision--we always have just what we need, when we need it. So what if we don't have much *more*? Contentment is a blessing and sometimes *more* is a big burden!
From the kitchen... I've got sauce for spaghetti and meatballs bubbling away in the crockpot. Easy and cheap is the way to go this week!
I am wearing... cleaning-day duds--jeans and a white tee.
I am creating... piles of clean laundry, clean rooms, and to-do and to-pack lists.
I am going... later on today to pick Ty up from the vet. He's FIXED! Yay!
I am reading... The Old Schoolhouse magazine.
I am hoping... that whatever is wrong with Pete's little beater Porsche isn't too expensive...or that the Nova will be a quick-fix so we don't have **cancel** our holiday plans. EEK!
I am hearing... the girls singing along with the Imagination Movers. What a silly show!
Around the house... disaster area! Too many projects, not enough space!
One of my favorite things... mushroom swiss burgers. Good for you? No way, but they are YUMMO!!! (Ack, did I just use a Rachael-Ray-ism?)
A few plans for the rest of the week: FINISH. Nuff said? No? Okay, well, I've got holiday yummies to make and package up, I've got to FIND my wrapping paper, get packing lists made up (with all these people, there had best be a plan to the chaos!), and maybe, just MAYBE, we can get the decorations up. Yeah, right.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... taken after our train ride yesterday. Yes, I know that Jamie is looking at a bug she just squished, I know Shelby's hood isn't on, I know it's OBVIOUS that Dani dressed herself...hey, that's our life--crazy! You gotta love it!
Go see The Simple Woman's Daybook for more daybook entries, and post a link to yours there too!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bring on the silliness!

Shelby is, as of yesterday, four months old. She celebrated her "birthday" by breaking out in a side-splitting full-bodied giggle that had us all nearly in tears. I'm not really sure what makes babies laugh (perhaps just seeing her big sister act like a total goof?), but it's well worth the wait, and it's one of the milestones we look forward to the most! There is just nothing quite like a baby-laugh. Well....I take that back.....there is something oddly satisfying about catching Daddy behaving like a raving lunatic in the name of trying to get said laugh...observe (you may have to turn up the volume a bit to hear Pete's babbling):

And "they" say that moms lose brain cells with each pregnancy?

Friday, December 12, 2008

I miss it.

Being the one *playing* the music and not just listening. Pete and I were band geeks when we met (he truly WAS a geek....still is, really, just another flavor), and I don't think either of us really knew how deep that music bug went. We've both noticed it, though. We can be sitting on the side of a parade route, football field, or even on the couch watching a concert (or marching band performance) on TV, and it hits us just how much we'd love to be on the other end of those sound waves. There is something about being part of a band, an orchestra, gets under your skin and never leaves, apparently!

We attended a dress rehearsal for the Huntsville Ballet Company's "Nutcracker" last night, and at different times during the performance, both of us ended up with our eyes closed, just listening to the music. At one point, Pete was actually mock-directing the orchestra. Oh boy, we've got it BAD. Sure, the ballet was amazing, and all of the dancers were wonderful. But we're musicians straight to the core. We were there to hear the music; the visual stuff, well, it was just icing. I wonder how long it would take me to work my 'chops' back to performance standards? Think the symphony would take an old, crusty trumpet player who can't get rid of "the bug"? Probably not.

The girls loved the ballet, of course. Jamie is ready NOW to take lessons, she says. She'd probably be a natural; the child walks around on the tops of her toes...not the ends, not on her 'tippy toes', but with her toes curled under. It hurts the rest of us to watch. Morgan just wants to twirl.

I just want to find my Tchaikovsky CD!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wow, that's a first!

I finished writing, addressing (all but one...I lost the addy....CONNIE!!!!! Email me!), and stamping all of my Christmas cards before the 15th of December! I feel so accomplished! I actually crossed something off of my this-year's resolutions without even having made any resolutions! Are you shocked? Shelby certainly looks like she is!

Do the happy dance with me, will ya? No...on second thought, don't. I have terrible moves and I'd rather not embarrass myself, thanksmuch.

Don't get too impressed, though. My Christmas tree is still naked. Look behind Dani....its fake boughs aren't even fanned-out appropriately.

What a difference a year makes.

One year ago (well, was the 13th of last year), I did this little query and here is my result. I hadn't done much blogging back then, which can probably account for why, after a bunch of silliness, this year I dropped a couple of IQ levels and:

blog readability test

How about you? How "smart" is your blog? Shhhh...nobody tell Kelsey, but I just checked her blog, and it rated hers as "College/postgrad". THAT is sooooo not funny. I'm sensing a conspiracy.

Am I neurotic, or what?

Okay, I've got my holiday rant out of my system (hey, Jill, don't take it personally, ok, you know I love your family dearly...if it was my own cousin, I'd have still blogged about it, I was just that bebuggered!) so I'll move on.

Teri started it...and then posed a challenge for others to blog about their own neuroses (I still can't use the spelling 'neurosis' for the plural, Teri, I just *can't*, it's frying my brain! LOL), so since I'm having another one of those brain-dead days...sure, why not?

One of my biggest "issues" as my family likes to say is that I'm a grammar/spelling fanatic. A word nerd. Jon actually threatened to buy me a tee shirt once that said "Grammar Police". Well yeah, ok, sure...make fun of the one who wants people to speak and write properly. I've told my kids that if there's one surefire way to get me weilding a red pen, it's to get their/they're/there mixed up or to misuse your/you're. It's something they've pretty much known from birth that I'm completely obsessive about, and now I'm avoiding Kelsey's blog because she TOTALLY BUTCHERED all the grammar and spelling rules I've enforced in her writing over the last however many years that she's been writing. I've been known to edit my own blog post up to ten times AFTER I published it. Webster's dictionary-people offended me personally when they started to include such atrocities as "ain't" in newer dictionaries, and sometimes I just have to shut my ears and run away in agony when I'm around a group of people who don't seem to know how to use proper verbage.

It's a personal belief of mine that using profanity is a symptom of a poor vocabulary. Why else would you need to rely on "eff-n" this-or-that unless you just didn't have any adequate adverbs or adjectives in your memory banks?

Oh, and people, for the love of all that is proper English, PLEASE learn how to use your apostrophes! Those little punctuation marks are not supposed to show plurality except in very specific cases, such as abbreviations like cd's, ABC's, 123's, and tv's. NOT the Jones's, the Smith's, or the Campbell's, unless you're talking about something that belongs TO the Joneses, the Smiths, or the Campbells. "Happy Holiday's" is NOT correct, sorry! (Just say "Merry Christmas, even if it's not PC...less possibility for grammatical error!)

Is grammar not taught in school anymore? It just amazed me to learn that people whose native language is NOT English can somehow have better grammar than we Americans do. Are we forever stuck in grammar pre-k as a nation? Yes, I know I still leave my participles dangling now and then. I know I goof up, and I do still use sentence fragments in my writing for effect. I'm still a stickler for correct usage and spelling. I'll not apologize for that, either! I'll also continue to insist on proper grammar and spelling from my own children, I'm not bending!

For the record, the worst example of the lack of good education was a sign on a vending machine, penned by a Wal-Mart employee, that read "Borken, Do Nut Used."

I can still feel the thud of my neurotic, grammar-fanatic's head hitting the floor that day.

So what's your neurosis?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A soapbox under the Christmas tree

Jill, you were right. After you told me about what your neice's kids are getting for Christmas, my beak was so tweeked that I laid awake last night thinking about it.

...and thus begins my holiday rant.

While my parents provided a comfortable life for our family, I don't think I was really "spoiled". I heard the word "no" pretty often, and I remember distinctly (even though I was six) being told that there wouldn't be as much under the tree that year for me because we were going to be having a new addition to the family a month after Christmas. I don't remember it bothering me all that much. Something happened to me six years later, however. I don't know where the attitude came from, but when one of his little friends arrived for my brother's sixth birthday party, I remember my mother recoiling in embarrassment when Greg greeted him with "Where's my present??"; at that point, I became very uncomfortable with gift-giving. It has not been easy for me to receive gifts since then, and I stress big-time over giving them. I can't really explain why, other than that little incident with a sugar-charged six-year-old really made me see what greed looks like. (And for the record, he's a pretty okay 28-year-old today!)

We've all known at least one spoiled-brat kid in our lifetime, and I am fairly certain there are enough out there for each of us to know at least one spoiled-rotten adult, too. Not too many months ago I was in the post exchange looking for a blouse for Kelsey and overheard a conversation between two such people. A wife was telling her husband that the Coach bag he picked out for her to get (it was $180, by the way) was just NOT good enough. It was too small, and she was just NOT going to be upstaged by her friend's bigger, more expensive bag. She actually made a point of telling him that she wasn't going to have ANYTHING that was cheaper than what her friends had. I had to take a second glance to see if she was going to flop on the floor in a screaming fit. I feel for the poor guy, he didn't look like he could have been old enough to be any more than a Specialist (E-4), and I know his pay is probably nowhere near what it takes to support that kind of wife-spoilage.

Where does this come from? comes from spoiled KIDS, and those kids come from parents who are afraid to buck the system and limit the 'stuff' their kids get. These people grow up with a sense of entitlement that is unreal--feeling that they "deserve" the best, that they are "worth" splurging on, and oftentimes it's at the expense of other (more important) things. Ridiculous.

Jill told me last night that her neice spent TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS on her TWO children. No, these aren't teens who are begging for Wii systems and hundred-dollar shoes and jeans, these kids are four years and three MONTHS old. Does Daddy make a ton of money? Not really, but that's kind of a moot point. HOW do you spend $1200 on two preschoolers???? HOW?? I just can't imagine. It seems that when they took everything out (to inventory the toy store stockage she had amassed in the closet), it took up their entire living room. The four-year-old, when asked what she wants for Christmas, says "Everything". Yikes.

For about two seconds, I almost felt bad trying to figure out if I even spent $350 on all six of our kids. I did, but maybe a couple of dollars over that...not much more, and half of that amount was spent on one child. I am not trying to make all things 'even' for all of them, because in all honesty, life isn't about 'even'. We don't live in a socialist economy (yet....time will tell), and the kids have to learn that not everyone gets the same things all the time. Sometimes one of them has more than another does, and that's okay. But it's also okay to have LESS. Our entire country is hurting right now, and yet Black Friday spending was UP from last year? Why? Are people trying to compensate for daily frugality by over-filling their Christmas lists? Is there some weird need to "prove" that this nationwide financial dry spot isn't affecting us?

Hey, I'll be humble. It STINGS this year. More than in previous years. And not because we've got more kids. It's because everything is more expensive, and the paycheck is going down, not up. But you know, I'm teaching my kids through all of this that life goes on. We can still give--and receiving less is sometimes a blessing, not a sacrifice! I don't know about anyone else, but I want my children to appreciate the luxuries we have...and they can't appreciate it if they are so overindulged that they can't see the difference between 'need' and 'want'. I'm beginning to see that there is real virtue in having less, and having more can be a true curse sometimes.

I almost wish I'd signed my Christmas cards, "Have a simple, blessed Christmas, and may you be given no more than you can handle under the tree this year." If you're so inclined, I found this article on about much the same thing I've blogged about. It's a good read.

BFS--Finger-Licking Good!

Memory Verse: Matthew 14:19…Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.
Intro: Finger Lickin’ Good - You can read about Christ feeding the 5,000 in many places in the Bible (Matthew14:19;15:36; Luke 5:6;9:3-17). I am a fairly new Christian and one of the many things I love about reading the accounts of Jesus’ miracles, is that there was not a big drum roll, fireworks, a thousand dollar suit or an agent building up some big preview of what was about to happen. Jesus would calmly say things such as “have faith”, “believe”, “have them sit and pass out these loaves of bread”, and then the miracles began.
Assignment: Although I am not able to produce miracles, it sometimes feels like I need to when it comes to meal time. There are times when money is tight, groceries are few and I have to feed my family. During the holiday season, you might have so much going on that you need to make a meal quickly with as few ingredients as possible. This week post your favorite recipes that require six (6) ingredients or less. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

How about a 4-ingredient dish? I'll admit, this is not my favorite thing to eat, and I'm not even sure why. My family loves it, though, and we usually have enough left over for Pete and one of the teens to fight over for lunch the next day! This is one of those dishes that I can always manage to have ingredients in the kitchen on reserve to fix, and it's easy enough that it was one of the first dishes my teens learned to make.

Easy Shepherd's Pie
2 lbs. ground beef or turkey (I do one of each because we like the flavor of beef)
1 box instant mashed potatoes
2 cans whole kernel corn
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare mashed potatoes according to the recipe on the box--you'll need approximately 10 servings for this recipe. Combine the cheese with the hot mashed potatoes and set aside. Brown and drain the ground meat, seasoning with garlic powder, salt, and pepper as you brown it. Place the drained meat in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, then sprinkle the [drained] corn on top of that. Top with some pepper, then spread the potatoes evenly over the meat and corn. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, till the top is just slightly golden. Simple!

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Monday, December 8, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook 12/8/08

FOR TODAY Deceber 8th...
Outside my window... it's clear, but COLD still.
I am thinking... that my brain is too scattered right now to engage in any intelligent thought.
I am thankful for... Food Network. Odd, yes, but I get some GREAT ideas for meals there!
From the kitchen... nothing magnificent today, just ham, brown rice, and corn. Boring. No thought required (yay!)
I am wearing... jeans and an oversized tee that I wore to bed. Shelby wouldn't let me get all the way dressed this morning, so I'm waiting for Kelsey to get out of the shower so I can get my top half done!
I am creating... a lot of stress for myself, it seems. I need to stop that.
I am going... to a homeschool group meeting in about an hour. Oh, and to get gas. Thank goodness it's only $1.56 a gallon!
I am reading... the new Creating Keepsakes mag. I haven't bought myself a new magazine in a long time, this was a treat!
I am hoping... that sometime in the next couple of weeks I can get some of this stuff that is cluttering up my storage room listed and sold online so I don't have to enter the new year with all of this left undone yet again. I'm a situational procrastinator, and the situation....well, has led to a LOT being pushed off of the front burners for way too long.
I am hearing... Shelby squealing at Jamie. Someone found her voice!
Around the house... ugh, don't make me look.
One of my favorite things... a full gas tank. There's something liberating about seeing that needle pointing toward "F". Funny how once you graduate from high school, "F" becomes a good thing! LOL
A few plans for the rest of the week: *MAYBE* Pete will dig the rest of our decorations out of storage so we can have more than just a naked tree. Other than that, just the norm, plus wrapping. I NEED to get that done. This is going to be a light blog week. I have too much to do!
Here is picture thought I am sharing... standing on our heads...very fitting representation of our life!Got a crazy week too? Simplify better than I did and share it at The Simple Woman's Daybook!

Friday, December 5, 2008

EEEK! The first Christmas card has arrived!

And I was SO not ready to even think about sending out cards! Thank you, Hester Family, for reminding me that the calendar has escaped again! Time to reign it in!

I did at least get something sort of done last night. I've been wanting to do *something* with the 6x6" mini album that I picked up at a thrift shop before we left Germany for a buck, and I finally found that *something* last night. While Pete and Kelsey watched "The Others" (Kelsey had never seen it and didn't want to watch a creepy movie alone), I put the 4x6 prints of our family photo shoot in the park on some cute little background papers and at least got them all IN the book. No embellishments yet, I've not decided how I want to embellish yet, but all in time. I just felt ridiculous having all those pictures begging a background sitting there all lonely on my desk. All better! Too bad I hadn't planned on giving it as a gift, it really looks like once it's embellished, it'll be gift-quality! Would probably be a great brag book for grandparents...but too bad, their 'gift' pictures are going to be framed.

There...while I was blogging, I was also ordering the pictures we'll put IN our Christmas cards. Wait, what Christmas cards? I don't HAVE Christmas cards yet! Booger. List addition!!! I'll pick 'em up when I go out today to pick up the rest of the pictures!

No, Mom, I'm not showing you the pictures. Well, okay, I'll show you the one we're not getting printed out, because....well, you'll have to see on Christmas Day, but it just doesn't go well with the other pictures that we got. It still turned out pretty well, but the other one works better. This will probably be the one that goes on a scrapbook page, but not in a frame.
Ooooookay then....I ordered them twenty minutes ago, and my pictures are already ready? Wow. I'm still in shock. In Germany, it took a week to get anything printed out (at least on base). Yay for Walgreens!

I just had to open my mouth...

Having a baby who has slept through the night (6-8 hours is a grand thing in our house when five of the six didn't even do THAT till they were 11 months old!) is cause for rejoicing, but apparently they don't like to be bragged on. There have been several people recently asking me if Shelby sleeps well at night, and I tell them that she's doing really well, that I'm thrilled with how well she sleeps!

For the last three nights, she's been up half the night. Last night, it was midnight-1:45, then up again at 3, 4, and 5, flailing and whacking me in the face the whole time. I just had to say it, didn't I?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

No good deed goes unpunished?

You oftentimes hear about stories like this, but it just doesn't seem plausible until it gets a little closer to home. In fact, just last Wednesday evening in Bible class, an older gentleman was sharing that he takes his duty to do good to his fellow man seriously enough that he'd risk his own life, even if he doesn't really *believe* that he's in danger when he stops to help someone. Yet here it is, in black and white, and it happened in the town my best friend lives in. NOT a large city. Just an average Georgia town.

If you feel so inclined, read the whole story, but the long and short of it was that a youth minister and Hospice chaplain called his wife to tell her he'd be a wee bit late as he was helping someone out...and was never heard from again alive. He was stabbed, run over with his own car, and left to die. The very thought of someone who is killed by the very people he's trying to help makes you sick to your stomach, but then it begs the inevitable question....

If we are to be "good Samaritans" (and we are), how do we protect ourselves from kooks and murderers? Pete and I had a long discussion about this yesterday over lunch, and while I think we were just too emotionally charged to be rational, we really couldn't come up with any workable possibilities that would be a solution to the risk you take. Are we to blindly take risk, just figuring that "if it's my time, there's no point in fighting it"? Is that blind faith in God's protection, or do you think God expects us to take a little of the initiative in protecting ourselves? To what degree???


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Getting to know your friends--Christmas tag

This is just too cute to pass up on, especially considering I think I used up all my thinking skills yesterday with the Blogger Friend School assignment! I came across this on Christmas Creations and figured it was a good non-thinking-day blog post. LOL!!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Both, actually. I use wrapping paper on rectangular stuff, everything else I put in bags.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Well, I prefer real, but the logistics of it....not so much, so we have an artificial tree.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The day after Thanksgiving, usually, except this year we put it up a couple of days early 'cause I at least wanted something purdy in my living room when Pete's dad arrived.

4. When do you take the tree down?
As soon as we can after Christmas, we get sick of seeing it in a HURRY.

5. Do you like eggnog?
BLECH, no!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Bikes...since I never got the Miami Dolphins helmet/shoulder pads/uniform set I wanted for like five years, I eventually gave up.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Kelsey. She changes her mind every other day about what she likes, and that makes for some disastrous shopping excursions! Last year I had to take back two gifts before Christmas because between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she decided she HATED the idea of having what we'd bought.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Normally, Pete. This year, though, it was my mom. Easy to decide on, hardest to....get wrapped up.

9. Do You have a nativity scene?
No. For some odd reason, they give me the heebie jeebies. Can't explain why, though.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Um.....I'd like to say mail, but I'm a world-class procrastinator. Maybe this year????

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Soap and a disposable razor from my mother-in-law. I'm still not sure what she was trying to imply!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
A Christmas Story, hands down. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation rates a very close second, though.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
The day after Christmas. All year.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
For white elephant parties, yes.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Ham and cheesecake (just not on the same plate).

16. Lights on the tree?
Every other year that I can remember, multicolored. This year, white. I'm loving it!

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"What Child is This?" and "Mary, Did You Know" (Kathy Mattea's)

18.Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Depends. This year, we'll travel. Next year, dunno.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Yup. Even Randy the Redneck Reindeer!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Beleive it or not, we have put a Santa hat on the top of the tree for the last two years, and I kinda like it. No trying to balance something that keeps wanting to fall over!

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
The kids always get to open one gift on Christmas Eve (new pajamas so they look cute on Christmas morning) and then everything else is opened the morning of Christmas.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Black Friday. It's crazy. I did NOT miss it the three years we lived in Germany.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
I love my patriotic Army-themed ornaments.
If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged, and I want to read your list, so link up in the comment section! Oh, and go see Getting to know your friends---Christmas Edition and leave your link for her too! Just for fun....last year's tree:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

BFS--Spiritual Jell-O?

Memory Verse: Romans 10:17 - So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Intro: America’s Favorite Dessert J-E-L-L-O - What we read affects what we believe. When we feed the Scriptures in our spirit, faith comes alive and becomes a living force within you.
Assignment: Write about your favorite ‘faith food’. Tell about the books of the Bible that you read that help to build your faith. Nurture the seeds of faith inside you. ex: Acorns become Oak trees.
I've always had what I consider to be a pretty strong faith. I have never doubted the existence of God or the promise of eternal life at His feet for those who wear the name of Christ. But then again....Saul had a pretty strong (albeit misguided) faith before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, didn't he? Belief alone isn't enough, is it? When I read James 2:19 (You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.) and Matthew 7:21 ( Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.), it humbles me straight to my core. I do NOT want to be counted among the 'religious' who stand before the throne of the Almighty God as a stranger after living what I thought to be a nice, fluffy, Christian life. I don't want to wear the blood of Christ as a cheap garment, to be shown off on Sunday morning and taken off with haste as soon as the church building is in my rearview mirror. I want to LIVE it.

The intro to this assignment was interesting to me. Why Jell-O? But as I got to thinking about it, the idea of being spiritual gelatin really does fit in with what's on my mind. While we were in Germany, we noticed an odd thing--there are a LOT of things in Europe that have gelatin in them. Meat in aspic or encased in some clear gelatin is pretty popular. Gelatins are used to thicken, to make a nifty presentation, and....well, they're used in ways that my palate could just not comprehend. See, gelatin is kind of like tofu--it takes on the flavors and smells of the foods it's combined with. Even though there are just a few fruity flavors of Jell-O on the market at any given time, you could pretty much make any flavor of your own homemade Jell-O by mixing gelatin with whatever you wanted. Got a hankering for strawberry mango Jell-O? Cranberry white chocolate Jell-O? Mince pie Jell-O? Fish Jell-O? Well, EWW, but totally do-able if that's what floats your boat.

Same goes for our faith. God created us to be free agents in this world, and unfortunately, a weak and ungrounded faith can easily become spiritual Jell-O, taking on the 'flavor' of whatever it's around. That's why most of these false doctrine 'movements' gain speed so quickly and take in as many people as they do--they appeal to those of weak faith who are looking toward the temporal, the seen, the here-and-now rather than looking toward God and finding their purpose, their lifeblood, their zeal in what He wills. Spiritual Jell-O is wobbly, it melts easily under the slightest bit of heat, and it really can't stand on its own; it takes the form of whatever it's placed in. The most ridiculous form of spiritual Jell-O is the watery type. No flavor at all; no zeal for anything. I believe Laodecia had a bunch of them--lukewarm Christians.

The book of James has been my antidote to the gelatin in my life. James is the "hard" book when it comes to training in godliness. It's the curriculum in the School of Hard Knocks. It's the....okay, one cheesy cliche was enough. James teaches that faith lived out is the ONLY type of faith worth having. He writes about the tough stuff--taming the tongue, having rock-solid convictions, living godly life to the extreme. Having a lived-out faith means God's will is intertwined into every (EVERY) aspect of your life, and that's really not as easy to do in reality as it is to talk about in theory. Real Christianity isn't a college course. It isn't a philosophy. It isn't a touchy-feely, warm-fuzzy, mushy-gushy thing. Faith requires work. Lots of it. Faith that will please God requires that you surrender everything. Got plans? They're hooey. God has bigger ones. Got opinions? Well good for you, but they won't get you anywhere. Got clout? I hope you're prepared to endure stricter judgment. Got earthly wisdom? James calls it demonic. This is tough stuff, y'all. Not for the faint of heart, or the weak of faith.

Then again, I suppose there are reasons that you don't serve steak to someone who's sick. You give them Jell-O. Steak is hard to chew and hard to digest. Personally, I need more steak in my diet! Bring it on, James! I'm ready to be challenged!

The two faces of Shelby

Big sister.....good.
Creepy old guy wearing weird clothing......not so good.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The legacy of divorce?

This past weekend after Pete's dad left to go back home, I helped Pete do some research for the little seven-minute mini-sermon he was asked to give on Sunday. His topic was "Being Thankful for Spouse and Children". Pete is just all-military when it comes to speaking publicly, he has to have the whole thing written out so he doesn't mess up the grammar and he actually covers every point he intended to make. I could very well post a word-for-word transcript...but I won't. Instead, I'd like to delve in a couple of minutes to something that we learned that shocked us both.

It flabbergasted me to learn that there is a divorce happening every 45 seconds in the United States. Okay, maybe not during the wee hours of the morning, but unless you're a staunch literalist like some teenage girls I know, you get the gist. We were also dumbfounded to learn that in the year 2005, there were over 2 MILLION divorces in the US. When you consider that the estimated population of the United States in 2005 (not accounting for the ebb and flow of birth and death rates) was 295 million....that's just mind-boggling. That number hit home for us, because 2005 was the year we very well could have become part of that statistic. Ouch.

We had a conversation over lunch with one of the couples at church we've become good friends with about divorces and how widespread they've become. One of the snippets from Pete's lesson yesterday that thay said kind of 'stuck' with them was that if your Thanksgiving celebration consisted of people who were completely untouched by divorce, you were in the minority. None of us cold think of a single family NOT affected somehow by divorce. Just in Pete's family alone, he's got a set of divorced parents, divorced grandparents, two divorced aunts, a divorced uncle (twice divorced, in that case), and four divorced cousins. My family isn't that bad, but we're still not unaffected.

What is this doing to our country, and the future of the church? I can think of some smaller churches we've been a part of that will not have any men qualified to serve as elders and deacons becuase of divorce within the next 25 years. I know of too many kids who have expressed a lack of desire to marry, because they just don't have any faith in commitment. That's pitiful. What's frightening in all of this is that the legacy of divorce for America translates into 37% of American children being raised in households that do not include both biological parents. That's the highest rate in the Western world, folks!

The facts show that the divorce rate in the US is on the decline...however, that is a bit deceiving, because the marriage rate is also WAY down. People are far too willing to just cohabitate rather than to 'risk' marrying the wrong person. That's not fixing the problem!

Why aren't we teaching our children the value of commitment, even through the hard times? I'm not proud of the mess our family went through in 2005, but the result of all of that on our children is far different BECAUSE we fought the battle together and kept our union intact even when we had the "right" to dissolve it. Jon and Kelsey got an up-close view of how a married couple can work through even the worst of issues, and they learned that commitment is much bigger than most people believe it is. I had a discussion with Kelsey not too long ago about the permanence of marriage, and to my surprise, she's just as staunchly grounded as I am now. They are both very concerned about choosing the right person to marry, knowing firsthand that even the best of intentions can't prevent problems, but that it all comes down to underlying values. It was a hard-fought battle, but the kids have learned the lesson I hoped they'd learn from our struggles. They learned that stick-to-itiveness is far more important than emotions, and that being happy ain't everything!

(eww, I just used "ain't" in a sentence.....)

America, have we forgotten the part of the vows that pledge our devotion during the "worse"?

Simple Woman's Daybook 12/1/08

FOR TODAY December 1st...

Outside my window... it is SNOWING! In Alabama!? How'd that happen?

I am thinking... that I really need to start buying the ingredients for all the Christmas goodies that I'm going to be making in a couple of weeks before everything is sold out, and the commissary has hams on sale this week, yay!

I am thankful for... the college-age 'kids' at church who are trying to get Jon involved in everything they can! He really needed to feel included, even if it is just for a short time. "Home" means a lot to him and Kelsey both after all the moving we've done in their lifetimes, and I'm sure it means the world to Jon to know that when he goes to his duty station in April, there will still be a "home" for him here with people who know him and miss him...other than just his family, that is.

From the kitchen... blueberry muffins for breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch, and I probably need to figure dinner out eventually, huh?

I am wearing... my 'Army Mom' tee and shorts. Unseasonably dressed, I know, but Kelsey has to have it so warm in here that I just melt if I dress 'appropriately'.

I am creating... a lovey blanket for our first [step] nephew, due the end of this month. It's odd to be handling something that isn't girly! Nice change of pace!

I am going... to Wal-Mart to returm the dollhouse we bought for the girls last month, since I pickedup another one just like it Saturday that had a bonus patio furniture set included for the same price.

I am reading... recipe books and websites, scouring them for goodie recipes.

I am hoping... that all goes well for Uel's surgery tomorrow and that he is blessed with the healing potential of a 40-year-old...and that Jill's family can have peace through the holidays!

I am hearing... the girls playing 'crocodile', chasing each other around the room and nipping each others' ankles. These three are so weird!

Around the house... it's beginning to look a little like Christmas, but I'd like to get it looking a LOT like it if I can dig our decorations out of the storage room. At least we have a tree. No ornaments, but we've got the tree!

One of my favorite things... white Christmas lights. First year we haven't had colored blinky lights, and I'm liking this! So pretty...

A few plans for the rest of the week: I have an appointment tomorrow to get Ty's rabies shot updated so we can get him fixed and declawed now that he's old enough. Other than that...just gearing up for Christmas!

Here is picture thought I am sharing... yes, we ventured out into the retail frenzy on Black Friday, and Jamie was not even slightly amused. Can you tell?
Go check out some of the other Daybook participants' entries at The Simple Woman's Daybook!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for....a new toy?

A month ago, the bassinette that Grandma bought for Shelby was recalled. Bummer, it was a really NICE bassinette...but since she was already nearly 13 pounds, we both figured a slightly *different* replacement was in order. Shelby's new Rain Forest Jumperoo was delivered yesterday (a day earlier than expected, yay!) and she is loving it! She was fussing as I put it together with one hand (and Morgan's, Jamie's, and Dani's 'help'), but it was an instant fuss-stopper once I plunked her chunky bum in the seat! The look on her face said "Hey, I'm upright, and nobody's holding me! Ooh, look, bright things!" It was perfect timing for this new gadget to be delivered, that's for sure! Thank you, Grandma! Oh, will you take a look at those chunky little legs? She's still a short little squirt, but WOW does she make up for it in girth! No ankles at all!
In my head, I had mapped out a long, well-laid-out post on thankfulness and gratitude, but I think in the name of simplicity (and a hugemongous lack of time), I'll stick to the short and sweet. Hmm....Pete (along with three other men) is doing a mini-sermon on Sunday and his assigned topic is 'thankfulness for spouse and children', maybe I'll cheat a bit and just post a transcript? We're going to be BUSY this weekend, but all for wonderful reasons. Pete convinced his dad that we actually want them to stay more than 18 hours, so we'll have company through Saturday!

I hope everyone has a wonderfully peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving and that the turkey comas don't last too long.

Is gluttony still a sin this week? LOL

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook 11/24/08

FOR TODAY November 24...

Outside my window... it is a bit warmer than the last few days, but it's also raining. A good day for cleaning!
I am thinking... that this is the last Thanksgiving with all of our kids at home, and that next year we will be the 'home' that Jon will be wanting to travel to. That will bring a whole new dynamic to the planning table!
I am thankful for... family. All of it. Lumps, bumps, and grumps included. When I look around me and see fractured families everywhere, I am ever more thankful for the one I have--it's imperfect, at times really dysfunctional, but we're together. Our extended family's distance makes closeness a challenge, but hopefully in the next few years.....maybe all that will change!?
From the learning rooms... Kelsey will spend today, tomorrow, and Wednesday working on an essay. She detests doing large writing assignments, because she really cannot stand putting so much work into a rough draft and then having to revise it. I'm not sure what to say about that; I've always loved the writing process. I just tell her that critique and revision is the way of life--that something will always need "tweeking", that very few things are perfect on the first try. The little girls and I are taking a break this week, but they're going to be enlisted into the hospitality army--learning to clean, prepare a home for guests, and preparing the Thanksgiving meal as well. It's never TOO early to learn, especially when they love helping so much!
From the kitchen... we'll be baking the rest of the carrot cake cookies from the monstrous bowlful of batter that I made for the cookie exchange last Saturday. There was just WAY too much to bake up in one night, but those cookies were wonderful! Pete can take some to work, I will give Jon some to share in the barracks, maybe even the neighbors would like some! I'm also going to make a pot of chicken noodle soup today, so we can have some wonderful leftovers during the week when busyness overtakes meal preparation.
I am wearing... jammies. Waiting for my jeans to dry.
I am creating... the last-minute shopping list. I already cleaned up my scrap disaster-area, so I've set aside the scrapbooking that had me addicted last week.
I am going... to Kroger and Wal-Mart later on today to pick up the last few items on the aforementioned shopping list.
I am reading... nothing right now, but since I read that the new issue of Hobby Farm Home magazine is out.....I may be picking one up! Thank you, Peggy, for that little tidbit of news!!!
I am hoping... to be able to get all the necessary "stuff" done so I can spend time just enjoying Thanksgiving and our visit with Pete's dad and his wife.
I am hearing... Dani crunching the apple I just cut for the girls. Back up JUST a're getting apple juice in my ear, short stuff! (she loves to look over my shoulder while I'm blogging)
Around the house... well, obviously, we're going to be preparing for Thanksgiving. That pretty much covers it all. We had plans to get at least some of the things hung on the walls that we've been meaning to get hung for a while, but our hearts aren't into it. It's just a bit too obvious to me and to Pete that this is a VERY temporary 'home' for us, and hanging up his souvenirs from deployments and all the big things that require wall anchors...well, that just seems too permanent!
One of my favorite things... STUFFING!!!!! I can't wait!
A few plans for the rest of the week: Pete has been proclaimed the official family Grinch, and I'm decreeing that from henceforth, we will be putting our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. Thankfully, we know where all of our decorations are, but the tree? Hmm, I guess we have to replace that big artificial tree that didn't fare so well in our German basement. Pete wants to take his dad and Kathy (plus the kids) on the Christmas lights driving tour at the Botanical Gardens before they go home to Tennessee. Hey, maybe there's at least some hope for the Grinch yet?
Here is picture thought I am sharing... cookie thief!!!
Go check out some of the other Daybook participants' entries at The Simple Woman's Daybook!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bad hair day no more!

AfterHmmm....I wonder if trimming her bangs made her face stick like that?

I. Am. Tired.

I might not be sick anymore (even though I still sniffle now and then), but I need rest. Anyone know where I can get some?

Oh season. Sorry, my bad. Rest has to wait. There are rooms to prepare for guests, turkeys to thaw (and cook), potatoes to mash, pumpkins to make, cookies to bake, presents to wrap, and an eight-hour drive in two vehicles with four littles, three cats, a dog who thinks he's a cat, an also-tired hubby, and two teens who think that a driver with a permit somehow makes a less stressful drive.
I need to stop thinking about "the list", because it's making me more tired.
Back to work!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I have "help"

It would seem that Ty really does not approve of me working alone. Either that, or the scrapbooking bug is far more contagious than I thought--strong enough to cross into other species! I'm surprised I got anything done yesterday with his "help".
If you even THINK of trying to get me to move, I'll bite your ears off!And just for good measure, I'm eating this rubber circle thingie. You cannot have it for your brad jar. It's mine, MINE I say!

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