Friday, December 26, 2008

The water well...

I just ran across this post today, and it really summarizes my feelings about the role of blogging in my own life. I thought you might be interested.

Old college friends will be descending upon us soon for an overnight of food and games. We've been feverishly cleaning all day, and I think we may have our first real fire in the fireplace tonight, despite the unseasonably warm weather. Grrr. And then the following days will be filled with: a niece's 1st birthday party, a whirlwind trip to Norfolk, and a visit from Dan, Kelli, and family... Please pray for Seth. I think he's pretty worn out with all the socializing, and I'm afraid he might be on the edge of a cold, too. Poor little guy; he has a pretty low tolerance for large group settings after awhile.

And we're still feeling the effects of his time with his big cousin, Isaac. The constant struggle to keep his toys from getting pilfered at Nana and Papa's has led to him saying these words quite a lot now that we're home: "No! No! Mine! Mine!" It's actually pretty funny. We love you, Zack. =)

A family picture...

Mom was determined to obtain a family picture for her New Years card. I don't remember her sending out a card before grandchildren. Hmmm... =) It was quite a production. Getting everybody dressed, coifed, and clean at the same time... whew buddy! And then the dressing and bathing process kicked Seth over the edge, and he refused to smile for any of the photos. I think this is the best one, and David is trying to get Seth to give him a high 5.


And then, seeing as Terri and I are shutterbugs, we took more pictures. Couple pictures, single pictures, maternity pictures... we were on a roll. And here you see a happily married couple of nearly 8 years. Awww. I think we've still got it.

She had me laughing so hard that I got goofy. These are the result. Terri: "Vogue!" Ellen: "Yes, dahling!"

Me and Bitty Baby, 17 weeks. Only a couple of weeks until we find out what BB is!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mary speaks...

Merry Christmas to you all! We're going to be doing a lot of traveling and visiting for the next week or so, but in the meantime, I give you a thoughtful piece of music that I loved as a girl. I love it even more being with child this Christmas season. Here are the lyrics:

O you who bear the pain of the whole earth, I bore you.
O you whose tears gave human tears their worth, I laughed with you.
You, who when your hem is touched, give power, I nourished you.
Who turn the day to night in this dark hour, light comes from you.
O you who hold the world in your embrace, I carried you.
Whose arms encircled the world with your grace, I once held you.
O you who laughed and ate and walked the shore, I played with you.
And I, who with all others, you died for, now I hold you.
May I be faithful to this final test, in this last hour I hold my child, my son;
His body close enfolded to my breast:
The holder held, the bearer borne.
Mourning to joy, darkness to morn.
Open, my arms; your work is done.

-Madeleine L'Engle


I highly recommend reading them while listening to a good choir off Youtube singing it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back home...

We're back! And it was a really nice, relaxing trip. We spent most of Wednesday at the place pictured above, talking to old friends, eating Christmas cookies, and watching the clerk's tight and bow tie wearing children crawl in and out and around the tables. We feel that its important for us to take the time each year to go to this party. It means something to the Justice to see his clerks, and its a small thing we can do to say "thank you."

And this year, it was also a time away for me and David. 3 days of childless time! We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. So we wandered and talked and wandered and talked some more. We know our way around downtown DC pretty well at this point. We don't get lost, and most of the places we go have significance from one of the two times we've lived there before.

For instance, we went in the parking entrance for Union Station that was near the bridge I walked across every day when I went to work at the children's museum. We ate at Johnny Rockets. I'd forgotten that I metroed there once just to meet David for dinner. He was metroing from work. Sometimes, very rarely, he would get on my car when we were both coming home from work at the same time. The car might be so crowded that we couldn't get to each other, but we could exchange smiles and silly faces. =)

So... some highlights from this trip:

- Sitting in the National Gallery in the solarium, listening to the trickle of the fountain. Talking while they set up for a concert rehearsal. Watching David help them move a harpsichord. Listening to the discordant sounds of violins all playing their own thing while looking at Madonna and child art. and child art.

- Cuddling adorable Eva at Ed and Ruth's house. Good, healthy breakfasts. You don't get a loaner baby with your continental breakfast if you stay at a hotel.

- Catching up like we'd never left. Picking up right where we'd left off. Looking around and seeing ghosts of myself, David, and a Seth that never got older than 6 months everywhere we went.

But I must draw this post to a close. My big Seth needs some mommy love. =)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Leaving for DC...

David and I are going to D.C. tomorrow! Without Seth!!! =) Yup, it's time again for David's Former Boss' annual Christmas party, and we're going to try our hardest to make it every year. We took Seth last year, and he did fantastically well. But he's almost 2 now. He's fantasticness after 5+ hours in the car and no afternoon nap has to be called into question. I didn't have it in me to ask him to do that, so even though I'll miss him, he'll be here with Nana from Wed. through Fri.

We're staying with friends, and seeing more old friends, and taking a walk down memory lane. I was thinking right before we moved into this house about where I loved living most of all the places we've lived. Hands down, it was Arlington. Seth was born there, and we had an amazing year with David's job and all the experiences associated with that time. I loved it, and I sometimes miss that tiny apartment in the sky. I still remember the snow coming down outside our window on a Sunday morning when Seth was just a few weeks old. The world was quiet and white, and we stayed in and read with the baby in our laps, and we listened to my brother preach a sermon at his home church via the Internet. It was wonderful. Just one of those everyday moments that you treasure up in your heart for later.

We're going to eat dinner at the Old Ebbit tomorrow night. I'm guessing this may be our last big pre-second-baby trip, so we're going to just enjoy the uninterrupted time with each other. We used to have our best talks on long car trips. Before long, we'll actually have to pay attention to what we say in the car because little pitchers have big ears. =)

So say a prayer for good traffic (hah!) and good weather for us, and for a happy heart and good attitude for the pregnant grouchmonster. See you when we return!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Double stroller ideas?

Ok, I'm now on the quest for the perfect double stroller. Being able to even be planning for that makes me smile with happiness. I'm enjoying the challenge, but it definitely looks like its going to be a challenge.

I love my little lightweight Contours Lite stroller, and I'm going to really, really miss it. That stroller and I have gone many a mile together.

But now I would like a stroller that (brace yourselves)- weighs less than 30 pounds (as much less as possible, please!), can accomodate a toddler who is sitting down with a backrest to rest his precious back upon (absolutely no sit n' stands), will hold an infant carrier, has a large basket and cup holder for me, and manuevers with one hand with all the awesome 360 degree front wheel capability that my current stroller does. I would also like all this for less than $300. Used would be even better. Oh yeah, and it would be great if it wasn't unwieldy because its too long or wide, too.

All of you moms are laughing right now and thinking, "Why doesn't she just pray for a solid gold stroller with a diamond and ruby encrusted toddler tray to drop from the sky into her front yard? That would be easier for the angels to accommodate."

If you happen to know of a stroller like I have described for sale somewhere on planet Earth, please let me know. I'd be really interested to hear about it... =)

Do ya ever...

Do you ever just get sick and tired of your own up and down personality? Does your fight with sin ever just really get you down? I think that's where I am these days. My emotions are like a roller coaster. One day I'm feeling like all is right with the world, and the next day, nothing is satisfactory.

Lately, it seems like all my eyes focus on when I look around are the dings and imperfections in walls and paint and cabinets. I see things that I want to change instead of things I should be grateful for. I fight negativity all the time, even though I know I really have nothing to be negative about!

For goodness sake, my parents came this weekend, and Dad and David got up all the leaves and sticks in the yard. (There were a ton of them. Literally. They weighed them at the yard waste disposal place. =) So there are people slaving away in the yard, making it lovely, and Dad's even trimming trees and bushes and making plans for landscaping. Mom is spoiling Seth rotten, even letting me go get a haircut. I had a great time at a party for MOPs leadership on Saturday night, and stayed out nice and late. We went out to a cool new place for lunch after church on Sunday. It wasn't like I wasn't spoiled, pampered, and treated incredibly well all weekend.

What did I do? I walked around, grumping about the dirt Dad was tracking into the house on his boots. I got grumpy with David for losing another pair of work gloves. I groused because I couldn't take a Sunday afternoon nap. And I woke up this morning feeling guilty about all of it. As I rightly should.

I guess maybe pregnancy hormones can contribute, but I don't remember feeling this way last time. I want to be a joyful wife, mom, daughter, friend, etc. And I'm not being that nearly often enough. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

An encouraging story...

In this day and age and time of economic ruthlessness, it's good to know that people like this still exist. I would be proud to be a member of this family. If I had a company, I hope I'd treat my employees this way. What a blessing! It reminds me that the point of being a good steward is so that you have less to spend on yourself and more to spend on other people.

I won something...

Well, the repairman came and fixed our heat just now! But before he did that, our space heaters kept us warm last night, and I was able to gleefully win a prize for my temporary pain and suffering. Yes, you heard that right!

This morning at MOPs, they were giving out door prizes. One lady got a prize for having the most people at her house for Christmas dinner this year. Another got one for having the most kids. There were a few awards given out.

And then came the final prize. Leah said, "Has anyone had a water heater go out recently?" When she said that, I was hoping against hope that nobody had, and she'd move on to another outage. And then she said it... "How about another major appliance?" My hand shot up. "My heat is still out!" I was the uncontested winner... of bath products and sympathetic looks.

And the twisted peppermint hand lotion I won smells all fresh and minty on my newly toasty hands. =)

Gift ideas...

The tea went really well this morning, and I thought I'd share the idea I had for giving gifts to the women in my group.

I don't know about you, but I find it hard to come up with good gift ideas. I don't like giving something generic just to give a gift. Sooo.... I came up with a way to give gifts to the women in my small group that took their personal preferences into account.

At the beginning of the year, I had all the ladies fill out an information sheet I made up. Included in the information sheet was a section called, "My Favorite Things." I asked them to list their favorite snacks/treats, colors, scents, flowers, hobbies, things collected, and decorating style and colors.

Then I went out and got them all their favorite snack, wrapped a bow and gift tag around it, and gave it to them, along with an ornament. They got things like a bag of Doritos, peanut M&Ms and a little bag of Cheezits, a king size Snickers, etc.

I was pretty proud of the way I handled the two tough snacks on my list. =) One of my ladies only listed ice cream and milkshakes as her favorite thing. Hmmm. So I went to the best milkshake place in town, Cookout, and asked for a cup, lid, and straw. I tied a ribbon around it and put milkshake money inside. The other tough snack was... carrot cake. Yup, carrot cake. As in, it has to be refrigerated because of cream cheese icing.

Well, I got the last individually wrapped slice of carrot cake at my local Food Lion last night. I tied a bow around the carton and put it in a little soft lunch cooler. Dani said she'd been craving carrot cake. I was glad.

I've thought about sending a questionnaire like the one I did for my MOPs group to my friends. Then I could save them in a Word file for later reference. It would make gift giving and randoms acts of kindness a lot easier.

Oh yeah, I got this idea from the Secret Pal questionnaire I filled out at one of the preschools where I worked. Each month, my secret pal would give me something anonymously. The best month was the one where I got off work and followed her instructions to the school fridge. There was a cold Dr. Pepper and a Milky Way in there with my name on it. That was a nice treat after a day of fussy toddlers!

Another hat tip to Holy Experience...

This is what I needed to hear this morning. And so I did. It's so easy to choose pity for ourselves, in little ways and big ways. I need to be grateful and embrace the places that God puts me, even if they don't always turn out to be the places I want to be. There is beauty to be found, and sometimes the little things are more beautiful and better treasured when the wind is whipping mercilessly through your life. I know; I've been there before.

I have our MOPs Christmas Tea today. There will be fine china and dainty goodies and a chance for everyone in my group to hear the Gospel. Pray that any hearts that need to be opened will be receptive; I don't know where everyone is with Christ. I'll post more about my little gift idea for the ladies later. I know, I know, I don't do gifts at Christmas. But this is another of those times that I found it impossible to postpone the gift giving until later. =)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blogging question...

I'm toying with the idea of putting up a family newsletter blog this year, in lieu of a Christmas letter. I thought it might be an easier way to do the whole family newsletter thing, with pictures, and without spending a lot on stamps. I figured I could send the paper version to the older relatives, but I could save a bunch if I emailed it to everybody else. Has anybody done this? More importantly, has anybody found a way to do it as a private blog that won't show the reader their main blog address? And also, I don't want this to be hard, or require the reader to sign up for anything. Hmmmm....

The straw tradition...

I found this link off of A Holy Experience today. I think it's a wonderful idea. I'm going to have to go hunting for a little wooden manger and some straw in a couple of years, once Seth gets old enough to understand...

And in other news... our heat is out. The igniter is broken, and it looks like we have an unusual igniter, hence, it may be a few days before one is procured from outer Mongolia. Grrr. I'm trying not to let this situation steal my peace. Sunday was a cold day around here. I wore two layers of clothes and gloves all day. Things improved when the heating guy came and manually ignited the heat. That meant we had it cranked up to a toasty 85 in here when we got back from carolling. But the bad news was that it would cut off and not cut on again after it reached the target temp. Sigh. But!... I sent out an email for help to our S.S. class this morning. Within 15 minutes, I had an offer of 3 space heaters and some blankets, and a sweet friend delivered them by 11 a.m. What a blessing! So we're keeping warm here in the casa. And we may just try out the new wood burning fireplace tonight...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Today...

Today, two years ago, my sister-in-law lost her mother. Cheryl Stolldorf leaves a powerful legacy of faith. And whenever I hear this song, I remember her. I love you, Terri.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Picture books in winter...


Summer fading, winter comes--
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.
Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children's eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.
We may see how all things are
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies' looks,
In the picture story-books.
How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?
-Robert Louis Stevenson

An attempt at wiring pine boughs to my rails... Hmmm....

Fresh baked cookies on a wicker paper plate holder. $.25 at the thrift store. Red grosgrain ribbon goes with everything, so I have a big thing of it. Hopefully Seth's teachers like chocolate chip.


Fake greenery doesn't look so fake from a distance.


I just realized I'm channeling Meredith's style for this post. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. =)




Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Anybody have an opinion on the floating baby?

This pregnancy has seen me doing things differently. I've barely cracked a pregnancy book since I found out, and I usually couldn't wait to read the weekly chapter of "My Pregnancy: Week By Week." I thought today, while Seth was happily dumping water over his head in the tub, "I should pull out that book."

I was surprised to discover that this baby is now the size of my fist! Wow, time really flies. So I thought it was time to put up the floating baby widget. But now that it's up, I can't decide if I like it. Do you think these widgets are creepy or cool or somewhere in between?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Taco Bean Bake...

I made this tonight for dinner. We had company, and I thought it looked like it wasn't too risky of a new meal to try on Sarah and Stephen. This morning I felt led to invite Sarah over, and the feeling wouldn't leave, so I did. And she was ready to accept, since coming home from time away with babies is just plain hard. I feel like I'm more likely to listen to God telling me to feed people now that I have an easier time cooking and seating others. =)

Anyhoo... I got this off of the Hillbilly Housewife site and modified it a bit. This site has some great, healthy, cheap, mostly from scratch recipes. And this one is also cheap and filling.

Taco Bean Bake

2 - 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained OR 1 cup of dry beans, cooked tender (about 3 cups of cooked beans)
1 clove minced garlic or 1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 to 1 pound ground beef or turkey (I used the half pound)
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 T. chili powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. oregano
1/8 t. pepper
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 or 2 cups shredded cheese
tostadas

Brown ground beef, onions, and garlic. Drain grease, and put back in skillet. Add sauce, beans, and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Spray a 9x9 dish and put everything in there. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, until bubbling and melty. Put the tostadas on a cookie sheet and heat for the last few minutes.

You can also serve this with tortillas, or taco shells, or with tortilla chips, or with the fixings as a taco salad. I chose the tostada option because if I buy tortilla chips, I will snack on them. And tostadas are cheaper than a bag of tortilla chips anyway.

About 5 minutes after my last post...

I read this. I had to smile. And thanks to a tired, late sleeping baby, things have looked up around here. =)

The morning after...

We're back from Thanksgiving. It was a nice time with David's family in Norfolk. There was a lot of bike riding and walking and game playing... and no football watching. What a weird family, huh? =) David's cousin, Keith, and his wife and son came, so Seth had even more people to take pictures and spoil him. He was in full on show off mood for days. Very amusing.

We came back on Saturday night, and we got to go to our own church and S.S. on Sunday. I enjoy being able to do that sometimes, even on a trip weekend. And then we had time to rest and recup for today. The weather was gross, and I loved drinking hot tea and being in my p.j.'s all afternoon.

I started feeling the baby move on Thanksgiving Day. I felt Seth move pretty early, too, so this isn't surprising. It feels like bubbles popping in my tummy, mostly. What a nice way to remember the date! I need to appreciate God's special kindness to me to let it happen on that day. I'm feeling really good these days, and I definitely look more and more pregnant. I should post a picture soon, and you'll know what I mean.

I have woken up this morning fighting feelings of inadequacy, though. I don't know exactly why. Well, it probably has something to do with the to-do list that feels very long. And the fact that my bedroom is still a mess probably means that I don't wake up feeling settled when I look around. Generally, I guess we all just wake up some mornings and have a good, long list of ways that we have failed to measure up that immediately come to mind. So, today, I'm fighting to remember that Christ loves me and has made me adequate, even when I don't feel like it. And I get to start fresh today! Ok, time to put some laundry in before the baby wakes up.

And I did get my Advent wreath up on the first Sunday of Advent. That's a new record! We even lit the candle and read the Scripture. Now I just need to find some candles that aren't totally washed up. =)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A cooking journey...

I have a confession to make. For the past 2-3 years, I have started to dislike cooking from scratch. Ok, nobody fall on the floor. Growing up with a mother who didn't know that spaghetti sauce came in a jar, I was trained to shun all convenience foods. I tried to stay true to my heritage. But time, and small kitchens with no counter space, have been wearing me down. Terri, I know you're feeling me here. Keep the faith, sister.

And so, I present a timeline of Ellen's kitchens:

Sept. 2001- July 2002- Ahh, married student housing. Ellen is learning to cook. And she's doing it in a small galley kitchen with no air conditioning. There is no dishwasher, and if she opens the oven, she can't open the fridge at the same time. She has counter space approximately the size of a large cutting board. On particularly hot days, she makes dinner for David, and then eats popcorn because the thought of hot food makes her want to gag. Despite all this, she is excited about cooking, and attempts many made from scratch meals. She is newly married and wants to try the Susie Homemaker apron on for size. Heh, heh.

Aug. 2002-July 2003- The young couple moves to the D.C. suburbs. The apartment model they have seen has a much larger kitchen with more counter space. Ellen is relieved and excited. Her days of struggling are over! She gets to her new apartment, walks in the door... and sees a kitchen approximately the size and shape of the one she just left. She immediately dissolves into tears. Dreams dashed, she bravely picks up and moves on. She moves a table into the kitchen, and finds some additional counter space. She keeps cooking.

July 2003- June 2006- They move to Alabama. This apartment kitchen is much more open, and there is a little more counter space. She is encouraged. She makes an entire Thanksgiving dinner, including brined turkey ala Alton Brown, one year for her husband's family. Her husband carves it on top of the dryer in the laundry room, as she has, once again, run out of counter space. Her enthusiasm is waning...

June 2006- July 2007- Back to the DC burbs. Tiny apartment, even tinier kitchen, with a sink that qualifies under the Guinness Book of World Records for Smallest on the East Coast. Tiny wall oven. She's pregnant, big, and the kitchen has killed what was left of her cooking joy. She embraces convenience foods. She can't remember chopping anything after the baby is born.

July 2007- Oct. 2008- Small kitchen in Raleigh. Definitely better, but still, plagued with counter space problems. Not much cooking going on. Baking is out, except for special occasions. She can't remember the last time she make homemade rolls or pulled out her breadmaker. Maybe easier is better. Time to buy "Dinners made from 5 ingredients or less"?

Nov. 2008..... Ellen finally has the kitchen of her dreams. She decides she's glad that she didn't throw out the cookie cooling racks 3 moves ago. She finally has a place to put them to cool cookies! The long, spacious island is like a dream come true. She has room to spread out and do everything right there. She has made two different types of cookies in one day, jambalaya, multiple homemade soups, etc. There will be homemade bread dough in the new house tonight. She's back...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Homeschool Song...

I gave my talk today on homeschooling for the MOPs panel on school options. They had a private schooler, a charter schooler, a year round schooler, a magnet schooler, and... me. I was supposed to tell what I liked about being homeschooled, since I have soooo much experience in doing it myself. .. =)

I was struck by how much time and worry and energy traditional schooling families put into trying to get their kids the best of that kind of education. There are endless fights with districts over redistricted kids, long waiting lists for charter schools, frustrations about year round calendars, second mortgages taken out for private school, etc. It seems like a lot of time and energy spent on doing something where you could get the flexibility, small class size, and yearly school schedule that you're seeking if you homeschooled. You would have a lot more everyday work, but you'd have a lot less worry about what your children were being taught and when. This is just what I thought as I was sitting up there today. I'm guessing that maybe one out of the 50 or so women I saw in the room will choose to homeschool. It doesn't seem to be a choice of my generation, from where I sit right now. Maybe I encouraged the one of those who will.

And in honor of that, I send you to this video. Very funny, guys.

Before and after...


And finally, we have some before and after shots. This is the living room that we saw when we made a bid on the house. Here it is after paint and crown moulding (generously put up by friends) and the removal of the other people's furniture. Martha Stewart I am not, but I like this better...
Oh yeah, the top picture is after we took off the wooden stripping from the top and sides of the fireplace. We replaced the stripping with something thinner and painted it to match the walls.



This is the dining room before we turned it into a play room. As you can see, they weren't using it as a dining room, either. And I'm going to replace the flowers in the frame on the wall in there. Eventually. When I get to a place with posters.




This is another view of the living room. I especially like this view now that the curtains are gone, gone, gone. We also replaced the chandelier.





The former owners really loved them some audiovisual equipment. We got a magazine here not long ago for church sound engineers. Hmmm. Now we're letting the sunshine in...






Note: the point of this post is not to diss the former homeowner's style of decorating. It wasn't me, and I really didn't like some things they did or didn't do, but it was functional for their family, and they liked it. I stopped reading a rather popular blog lately because of a post where she trashed decorating that she didn't like, and if the pictures had been of my house, I would've been mortified by what some of the commenters said about those pictures, encouraged by the blogger's snark.

Who knows? Some of your may prefer these before pictures. I can take it. =) I do like how much natural light I get in here in the mornings. This house has a lot of nice lighting. And in case you're worried, our neighbor's houses sit far back up a hill. We can't see in their windows at night, so I don't think they can see in ours.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday afternoon...

We got more pictures up today downstairs. I think we're done with downstairs for a little while, so I'll probably post some pictures soon. The biggest picture that I put in our playroom I got at a yard sale. It's huge and has a nice frame, but the picture in it has to go. I'm going to be looking for a nice poster to replace it with. I think that might be the right size. Other than that, David put up blinds in the half bath and put up a towel rack. I still need to clean Seth's bathroom and rearrange my closet with maternity clothes.

I got our first electric bill today. After I opened it, I cut off every light in the house. =) David got home, saw it, and cut off the light he'd just cut on. Just kidding. Actually, he took a closer look at it and realized there'd been a mistake. Whew! I knew it was going to be more expensive to heat and cool a larger place, but I didn't think it'd be that much.

This morning in Sunday school, one of the guys said that they were still settling into their house. I asked how long ago they'd moved. "Four years," he said. I can't imagine. I would go crazy waiting that long to get things together. My OCD is legendary at this point. =) My goal for this house is to have the closets organized and the pictures all up here before David's brother and his family come to visit at Christmas! That gives me some good incentives and a realistic time table.

I'm been feeling myself calm down and feel more like normal this week. I'm starting to suspect that my frustration has not just been caused by road noise (which, by the way, was the worst the first week and a half we've moved in and has been significantly better since), but has had as much to do with pregnancy hormones and the heaviness of the new burden of home ownership. I tend to sit there and think about all the things that will need to be done in the next several years, visions of crumbling '80s construction looming large, $$$$ signs dancing in my head, getting more and more depressed and thinking, "No more vacations for us. We're homeowners now."

At which point, David and I had a long conversation about the beauty of fixed "rent" that doesn't go up, ever, and a salary that should. We haven't lived in a place long enough for me to see that much in concrete terms, but I know that he's right. It's just hard to wrap my mind around since I haven't experienced it before. When that happens, we will be saving more than if we continued to rent, despite the necessary upkeep expenses. I know it'll be ok. It just feels burdensome at the moment sometimes.

And I guess I miss the gypsy feeling a bit, to tell ya the truth. We're settling down now. I kinda stopped expecting it to happen. I thought I was striving for stability, but after awhile, I got used to life the way it was. For the past 7 1/2 years of our marriage, we didn't know where the wind would blow us next. Usually it was someplace several hours from where we were currently living. We lived in one temporary place after another, meeting new people, having good and bad experiences, but it was all different. Now, we're suburbanites. It's official. The whole buying a house thing put a nail in it, as if the cute almost two-year-old hadn't helped things along tremendously. We have a minivan, a house, a toddler, and another on the way. I just need a Noah's ark necklace and a denim jumper, and I could be my mom in 1981. =)

It's a new experience that I'm trying on, like another skin. It's a little tight and itchy some days. And other days it feels like a perfect fit. I think every stay at home mom probably feels this way some days. Most just don't get to attribute it to a long period of childlessness coupled with frequent moves. Heck, cleaning up the same messes, day in and day out, will do in anyone's good spirits temporarily at times. Maybe we like new messes in different places better. =)

Cool song...



Our choir, orchestra, and praise team did this song this morning in worship. It was so awesome that I was almost in tears. It was actually better than this video, but this was the best version I could find. I thought maybe it was old, but it looks like its a new thang. Check it out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A cutie and a rug...

I have been extremely remiss in taking pics of my cutie these days. It's pathetic how few I've taken in the last month. Well, we went out to a playground yesterday morning, and I finally took along my camera and got some good ones. It was quite cold for NC. With the wind chill, it might've been below freezing. We were the only ones out there... except for a Swedish family. I mentioned to David that it should say something to us that the only other people on the playground were from a cold, Icelandic country. And the mom of the family didn't come. 'Nuf said. And it may look like I outfit my baby from head to toe in Old Navy wear, but I'm not that trendy. =) The coat is a loaner from Isaac, and I got the hat last week for 50 cents at a church sale. Booya!

After driving all over town looking for a cheap, plain brown rug, I struck out. Even having a remnant bound was going to run me over $200. I went over to BJ's yesterday and got my free trial membership. And they had pretty rugs for way cheaper than anywhere else in town. I wasn't finding plain, ugly rugs with this kind of pile for $200. That's right, folks. $200 for a pretty oriental.
But I'm not sure if its not a little over the top for what I was going for. I think the pattern will hide crumbs pretty well, but I'm not sure. And I know it doesn't go with the thrift store loveseat, but that will go in a few years probably when this room turns into a homeschooling room. Anyway, I'm looking for opinions, and I can take this back for 30 days. I have other warehouse stores I could try, I guess. Maybe Costco.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gotta cold...

Seth and I went to visit Nana and Papa for some spoiling Tuesday through Wednesday evening. They took good care of both of us. My daddy kept a roaring fire going in the fireplace for me the whole time, and I got some great babysitting so I could go and beg some maternity clothes off of Rachel. =) Of course, the munchkin had a great time getting their full and undivided attention. Ahem.

But... I came back with a cold last night. I woke up this morning feeling awful. Hoping against hope that it was just congestion from the heating at their house, I got ready to go to Bible study. I fed Seth, and I ate a bowl of Cheerios. Big mistake. After I found out how mistaken I was to partake of Cheerios and milk, I cancelled the Bible study plans. =( I think I just have a cold and bad congestion. It was a long morning here, as you can imagine.

There are so many things I want to do today, and no energy to do them. Don't you hate it when that happens? But the laundry is clean, and David will help me fold it tonight, and he gave me the gift of telling me that tomorrow is his off Friday. What a blessing! And I'm not having to miss MOPs, where I'm actually in charge. I'm going to lay low, drink a lot of hot Russian tea, and thank God because it could be much worse timing.

I'm settling in better to this house, though it was a bummer to come back because it doesn't feel like home yet. I'm much more comfortable at my parent's than at the place I currently live, but that's understandable after only a couple of weeks of living here. Anybody remember that feeling of coming back from a comfy, familiar place to one that isn't as familiar? Dorm rooms, new apartments, etc.; they all apply. I think changes make me think of all the other changes and feelings I experienced in similar situations. It's kind of a trip down a memory lane of random emotions in random times.

And now I am off to rest. And wish I could take Sudafed... =)

Monday, November 17, 2008

An ode to pimento cheese...

I was doing my weekly shopping today, and all of a sudden, I got a craving for some good ol' pimento cheese. As I am pregnant, these cravings strike without warning and are usually for random things, like gummy bears and all natural white cheddar cheese puffs.

As I ate my pimento cheese sandwich, smiling at the yellowy goodness with the red flecks of pimento, slathered generously between two slices of lightly toasted whole wheat, I started thinking, "Does everyone eat pimento cheese?" Hmmm, I think its a Southern thing.

So I started doing some research. It is. It appeared on the scene in the South in the early 20th century, and was sold widely in Southern grocery stores by about 1915. Every self-respecting mamaw below the Mason-Dixon line had a recipe for it in her card file. The main ingredients are shredded cheddar cheese, mayo, and pimento, and if you want to be authentic, it has to be Duke's.

In the small town where my mother grew up, there was only one pimento cheese, if you didn't want to be ridden out of town on a rail. It was Musten and Crutchfields. They were the local grocer and butcher, and though their store has come down a good bit from its former glory, you can buy their pimento cheese in stores all over Kernersville. And slightly larger towns surrounding it. This is good stuff, y'all. I bought the processed stuff at Walmart today, but I was wishing I could go home and pick up the real thing.

And if you're not Southern, don't knock it until you've tried it. It is the stuff of everyday Southern life, at least when I was growing up. It is the essential sandwich at small town Southern wedding receptions everywhere. And its good on everything, from celery to Ritz crackers. Mmmm.

If you want to read more, go here. =) And this is also a good article. I'm sooo deep on this blog, lately.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A little academic humor...

Surfing around tonight, I came across this. It reminded me of various and sundry class and seminar descriptions posted on the concrete walls of my dearly departed grad school. Anyhoo, I was amused.

And we got up all the living room pictures today! We're hoping to get up the playroom ones during nap time tomorrow. I'll feel better to at least have the downstairs done.

Any ideas on where to find a plain jane, dirt colored, 8x10 rug? We've tried Lowes and Home Depot, and no dice. Buying a remnant is a possibility, but having it bound would cost more than the rug itself. I'm striking out all over town at the moment, and all I want is the cheapest, most dirt colored, but not too thin, rug in town that Seth can destroy over time in his play room. =)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rainy day fun...

It's been a nice, rainy week here. Seth is down for a nap, and I love how he naps better when its dark and rainy. =) I went to Sarah's this morning and received the gift of DVD loaners in exchange for an unused Baby Bjorn loaner. Being able to barter with others is such a blessing. =) We all save money that way.

And things are definitely looking up around this new casa. Tuesday night saw the low point. I left the house at midnight to drive over to the old house, sit on the empty back porch, and cry until I didn't have anything left. And then I started to see improvement in acceptance of my new place. Maybe I don't know how to get over something until I have a dramatic moment. =) We have experienced some less noisy days this week, but it hasn't been all week, so I don't think that's it. I think God is graciously answering my prayer for acceptance and appreciation, and I'm very grateful for that.

I'm meeting my neighbors, and they are sweet ones. The family two doors down has a little boy who is Seth's age, and they have spent some time pushing each other on riding toys in the cul de sac. The mom is German, and the dad is something else European, and the 2-year-old boy speaks a mishmash of 5 languages. Her parents are here for several weeks, and I was talking to the grandmother the other day, and she lapsed in and out of English and French while she was talking to me. Fortunately, I understand some French, so it was ok. I'm just glad she wasn't speaking German. I would've been completely lost. I'm looking forward to getting to know this family better, and I want to be good, living example of the Gospel to them.

And I've gotten two plates of brownies this week. Two of the moms in my MOPs group live right around the corner, and they both dropped by with chocolate. One of them can walk to my house on her way to the local Food Lion, so that's what she did. I don't think I've ever lived as close to people I know as I do now. It's interesting. I'm running into more people at know at Target now, too. =) We all like that sense of community, don't we?

So now I'm off to fold a mountain of laundry, and then do this. We've got friends coming for dinner. I'm trying to ignore the fact that I'm missing one curtain in my living room. Maybe I'll just shuffle some curtains around. I'm praying for it to show up on Ebay one day. =) At this point, no one really expects you to have your house totally together, do they?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Baby steps...

... And today I bring you baby steps in gratitude to help me rise above self pity at all times. Terri reminded me today that there is a beautifully simple command and promise in Hebrews that we often overlook. And here it is: "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'- Hebrews 13:5

Having Him with me should always make me content. And I think its interesting that focusing on God's comforting presence is presented as an antidote to discontentment.

And now a random assortment of things to be thankful for:

- David was supposed to be spending the next two weeks working non-stop getting ready for a trial. That trial just got postponed until January. Disappointing for him; very much a huge blessing for me as we get this house put together. I was really dreading not being able to put pictures on the walls and just not having him around the next couple of weeks. This is a huge grace for me.

- Drinking Dr. Pepper without much, if any, guilt. Hey, the dr. said I could have one a day, and I'm not doing that! =)

- A healthy, happy son who is a great napper.

- The overwhelming grace of being able to have another child. I am now about 11 weeks, and I'm starting to feel myself relaxing a little bit and expecting that there will be a child at the end of 9 months. Past miscarriage can easily steal joyful attachment from early pregnancy if you let it...

- Lots of fall comfort foods on this week's menu. David requested potato soup this week, and I'm embracing the joy of soup making and the delicious smell of baked apples. How often I overlook baked apples!

- Gratitude that I usually enjoy cooking. I heard another mom confess this week that she hates cooking, though she must cook anyway. What a blessing it is to generally enjoy doing something that you have to do daily!

- Getting used to the squeakiness of the upstairs floorboards after such a short time. And learning to enjoy sleeping with an eye mask on, at least until I come up with a blackout curtain solution for the east facing windows. =)

- The fact that I can see green trees and fall leaves in my back yard from any point on the back wall of the first floor of this house. We even have some new squirrel friends to replace the extended squirrel family at the last house. Ok, there aren't nearly enough to replace them. All the squirrels in the neighborhood lived in our last back yard. They made the cat crazy.

- A toddler who is currently waking up in a seemingly good mood. =)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hmmm...

The painters came once again today. They put one more coat of yellow on my living room walls and patched a few things. I am looking forward to the day that this house stops smelling of paint. Anybody know how long that takes? Especially when you've painted almost every room? My dr.'s office tells me that acrylic paint fumes won't hurt the baby, but I don't like the headaches I still get occasionally from them.

My computer desk in the kitchen is a mass of wires hanging over it. I have a Lowes run to make before we cut a hole in the desk to put them all through.

I'm not as grumpy all the time as I sound at the moment. The sun has started shining again, and my new house looks lovely inside in the sunshine. It's really a lovely home. I'll post some before and after pictures at some point.

I think I've nailed down what has been bothering me so much. I think it is the feeling of massive failure that I have. This is the biggest financial decision that I've ever had to make... and I feel like I totally blew it. My self confidence has taken a real beating as a result. I don't even want to decide between two brands of shampoo at the moment.

If I had gone with my gut and said to David, "No, something doesn't feel right here. We should keep looking," that would've been the end of it. He wouldn't have pushed this decision without me. I have no one to blame but myself that I live in a place that I don't like very much at the moment. There is nothing to do now but try to adjust and pray for peace and try to believe that this is where God wants us. After all, I did sincerely pray that God would stop this thing in its tracks if it wasn't what He wanted, and that didn't happen. I meant that prayer sincerely.

Yes, you can call me spoiled and petty. I know that there are much worse things in the world than living in a place with a lot of traffic noise. I know I need to go to Africa and spend a week or two without running water. But I think my main point, however, is that it is hard on a person to realize that they've made a costly decision that they simply can't undo.

Has this ever happened to you? What did you do to get over it? How did you move on and forgive yourself? Are there any Bible verses that were especially helpful to you at the time?

Well, time to get the baby up. We're going to a cocktail party tonight for David's work, so I need to get gussied up. It doesn't start until 8:00! I haven't been to anything that started after the baby's bedtime in forever. =) God bless our wonderful friend, Kim, who is babysitting even though I didn't give her much notice.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gettin' there...

Y'all are the greatest! The comments section can be so encouraging sometimes. Hearing your stories really helps. I had to laugh at Katie's about the telephone pole in their backyard. And it definitely made me feel less alone. And, Henrietta, I have no idea how you found me either, or why an English mother of 12 wants to read the whinings of the mother of a single toddler, but I'm glad you're here, and that you're praying for me. =)

Today the noise seems a little better than yesterday, and not because it actually objectively is. (I discovered last night that we also have a train near us, which caused a temporary relapse last night, but I am bouncing back. C'mon! You gotta be kidding me... an interstate AND a train? What gives!) And I finally got David to admit that he also wants blackout curtains over our huge, east-facing bedroom windows! =) A Walmart run today also helped quite a bit. Seth was good, and I got to see all the nice, new things that we're near now as I drove on down there.

I'm baking this as my first act of dessert creation in this house. I read the recipe off the computer screen today. =) I love my new ceramic cooktop stove. No more scrubbing spilled black nasties out of the stove wells! And I finally have as much counter space as my heart could ever desire. And I'm finally soaking our disgusting sheets that are long overdue for a washing. That ought to make bedtime a little more pleasant tonight.

I'm very glad that David and I did early voting last week. Today is gray and nasty and rainy. I hope that that keeps all the Obama voters away from the polls. I reluctantly scratched my plan of letting the air out of the tires of all the O. bumper stickered vehicles in the neighborhood, on account of bad weather. Heh heh. I really am just kidding. But a girl can fantasize... =) North Carolina is going to be close this year...

Monday, November 03, 2008

I have internet again!

Hi, everyone. I am sitting in my kitchen at my newly hooked up computer. The cable guys came today and hooked me up at the kitchen desk. I am psyched about my new location! From here, I can monitor laundry, cook dinner, and listen to internet music all at once. I can look up a recipe and leave it up on the screen while I make it. Sweet!

And having an internet connection makes me feel connected to my life again. I swear, my blood pressure went down a ton after I saw my Yahoo account. =) I know, I know, it's very sad, but I'm addicted. Being able to get on here and connect in so many ways to local and long distance friends is so important to me.

The move went remarkably well. Ok, well, I knew it would go well with my hard working bro, sis-in-law, and mom and dad on board. They have moved us many times, and the house is always mostly unpacked by the end of the day we move in. They're amazing. This time, however, I think Vance broke a new record. He put up my curtains before the end of Saturday. We all ate Mom's spaghetti bake together around the kitchen table that night.

This is the first day of real settling in for me. I always have a hard time, every move. Those who are helping us probably realize that I'm very mentally fragile during the early days of moving house. =) I'm still grieving the old place and getting used to the sights, smells, and sounds of the new one. It's hard on me, and I have to fight not to be completely overwhelmed. I don't know why this is, but it just is, and though I'm working on becoming a person who is more adaptable, I fight my basic unadaptable personality quite a lot.

Seth, however, is taking to the place like a duck to water. =) He loves walking around the circle of the first floor over and over again. He's rediscovering his toys in his new toy room. The only mishap we have had so far is that he rode his little car right over the step down that separates the living room from the rest of the first floor. No blood, though.

We have been so blessed. We've received so much help from our family and friends. I really should have absolutely nothing to complain about. That only makes it harder when I fight not to complain.... This is a beautiful house. It's far nicer and larger than our other place. It's been freshly painted from top to bottom. The Christian couple who sold it to us have gone above and beyond to make this a good experience. The back yard is large and green and tree covered, and I can see the whole thing through most of the glassed back doors. It's a great house. I am hoping that I'll stop wanting to go "home" soon. Please, no comments about how I should be grateful. I already know that. That's where the guilt is coming from.

It's cold and a little wet here. The wind has shifted or something. The road noise has been the worst the last couple of days that I've ever heard it. My parents both noticed and told me they probably would've told me not to buy the house if they'd known it would be like this. I wear earplugs at night in my bedroom. You hear the interstate the worst there. In the morning, it sounds like the tractor trailers are coming for me. I have been running the washing machine and playing CDs so I don't have to hear it. The noise makes me cringe, and it makes my shoulders stay stiff. I don't enjoy spending time in my bedroom. I made myself sit in there this morning and do my devotions.

I'm telling you this because I want you to understand why I want to go "home." And why I feel like a fool who bought a house in the summer that sounds like its next to the highway in the winter. And I have to move on! I have to! We bought this house. It's ours. There's nothing wrong with the house itself...

Please pray for me. I need it! I don't want to notice this anymore! I just want the traffic to fade into the background. I want to want to take my little boy outside. Not all days are like this... But I've GOT to be able to rest in the Lord and enjoy the blessing of this house every single day, not just on the less noisy days. I've got to find a way to enjoy spending time in my huge, pretty bedroom. I am sick and tired of being an unadaptable person. It's hurting me, and I've had enough of it.

I'm sure I'll write in a few days and say that things are better. Ok, mostly sure. =) My new kitchen is fantastic, and I'm going to enjoy making beans and rice in it tonight. If I can find everything wherever Terri put it. =) And David wants to have an election party tomorrow night. Can I pull together a homemade dessert in this house with no pictures on the walls? I hope so... =) It'll be a nice challenge.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The cavalry has arrived...

Ok, we can breathe now. We have reinforcements. My parents showed up last night, and Vance and Terri and kiddies flew in from MN. They'll be arriving here in about 10 minutes. Mom and Dad came last night with a trailer load of furniture I haven't seen in awhile. I'm looking forward to being able to use it in our new place.

The paint is coming well. I'm very glad that we didn't attempt to do this ourselves. We've had two-three professional painters working full time on our house since last Wednesday afternoon. And they're still not done. I'm just hoping they finish before midnight on Friday. =)

The cavalry brought food. A gigantic cooler load of food to be exact. My mom doesn't believe in McDonalds, so we'll be eatin' better around here for this move than we already do. Seth was inspired to learn the word "soup" after eating a bowl of her amazing beef and vegetable last night. She also made homemade whole wheat bread. Three loaves. One of which rose in the car on the way here, and she baked in my kitchen so it smelled like fresh bread when we walked in the door. Mmmmm.

Side note: In case I haven't mentioned it before, my mother is an amazing cook. But she cheats. See, I can make the exact same recipes she does, but they never turn out the same because I'm buying my ingredients from the store. She gets hers straight from her acre of garden. Every summer, my parents can fresh tomatos, can fresh green beans, and freeze sweet corn, so whatever I ate last night had nothing but fresh produce in it. You can't duplicate that unless you've got the original ingredients. Grrrrrrrr...

And now I need to finish my cereal, get my baby up, and start doing some productive. Please pray for us. David has a "moving cold". His dad used to always get them whenever they moved in the military. It's kind of a family joke. Well, I don't think its funny at the moment. It's cold out there, and he's running like a leaking faucet. Poor guy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A look at our days these days...

Monday, 7:00 a.m.: Pull sad little carcass out of warm sheets. Shower and get baby ready to go to babysitter's house.

8:30 a.m.- leave happy baby with babysitter, make frantic cell phone calls to fertility clinic trying to get medical records I had forgotten about transferring until I was in the shower that morning faxed over to obstetrician.

9:10 a.m.- sign medical release form for records at fertility clinic, wait impatiently while every printer in their office refuses to print, then rush over to dr.'s office after extracting a promise that they will fax them over ASAP.

9:30-11:45 a.m.- the longest dr's appt. ever, involving bloodwork, going over info with nurses and a dr., a flu shot, begging some peanut butter crackers off a lab tech, and an ultrasound. Highlight of the day: seeing 9-week-old Baby B. kicking his little feet at me.

11:45 a.m.- rush back to friend's house to get Seth, take over her kitchen and make myself some lunch, then rush over to new house to let in the guy that is coming to look at the tiny spot of mildew we discovered by the window while friends were putting up crown moulding. Discover after I get there that David has taken my house keys out of my diaper bag.

1:10-1:20 p.m.- Speed like a crazy person back to old house with cranky, nap deprived baby. Get keys, come back, and have mold guy tell me that I should cut a 6 inch square out of my drywall, despite the fact that he can't find any difference between the moisture content there and the moisture content anywhere else in the wall. Shows me under the house, where he says I have a mold problem on my insulated pipes.

1:20 p.m.- Curse the name of the mold guy, who I instantly disliked upon arrival because his hair was shaggy. Call David to tell him that the mold guy had been smoking crack. Ask him to call our home inspector, who never said a word to us about mold. Put baby down for nap. Put myself down for nap.

5:00 p.m.- Wake up baby, feed him, and throw him in the car to go to the grocery store. Grocery shop for the week. Get home and start dinner right before David walks in door. Fling cranky, super clingy, teething, coughing baby at him. Allow him to unload all groceries other than the ones I am currently using for dinner.

6:30 p.m.- Finish dinner, get in car for our 5,387th trip to Lowes. Watch baby say "Yay!" and clap his hands as we enter Lowes. Follow him around, trying to keep him from sticking a metal paint can opener in his eye. Pick two new paint colors, as the old ones looked weird on the wall. Take paint by the new house. (Discover today that I need another brown because the new one is now too dark.)

9:00 p.m.- Put baby to bed after a late bath. Clean up kitchen and do dishes. Sit in mildly catatonic state while husband makes his lunch. Pick clean underwear and socks out of pile of clean laundry that is sitting in the middle of the living room floor. Go to bed. Sleep fitfully and dream about drywall.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sooo tired...

I'm tired. And I'm tired of being tired. And of feeling displaced among my boxes. But we're making progress. And it'll all be over on Monday. But, man, who knew it would be so much work to move into your own house instead of a rental? Not me...

Anyhoo, I ran across this new blog, and the writer had written an interesting, and quite convicting prayer. Here it is, not in its entirety, from me to you...

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us – sinners all.

We confess that you are rarely what we most desire, though your desire for us led you to a cross atop Golgotha. We want cleaner homes, better clothes, spouses more attentive to our needs. We want children who will sit still in church, and hymns that suit our tastes. We want our pastors to speak to our needs, rather than lead us in worshipping you. We want the driver in front of us to go faster, and the one behind us to slow down. We want jobs we enjoy, and family who won’t ask us for money.

Sometimes we want more righteousness, or more personal purity, or a better prayer life. We seek religious virtue, Lord, but we do not seek your Cross. We are afraid of what you will ask of us should we seek that Cross, and so we make you smaller and tamer. We make you an intellectual puzzle, or an emotional experience. You are an all-consuming Fire, and we have turned you into a Bic lighter.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Forgive us that we approach your Holy Word like we already understand you.
Forgive us that we pray when it’s convenient, that we talk too much and listen too little.
Forgive us when we seek the company of those who please us, rather than those who need us.
Forgive us that we have sullied your name by attaching it to political ideologies and national pride.

Forgive us when we hold ourselves above our brothers and sisters because they are Baptists, or Catholics, or Orthodox; because their children are in public schools; because they do trick-or-treat or they don’t trick-or-treat or because they only pass out those butterscotch candies that nobody really likes.

Forgive us that we see unrighteousness everywhere but in our own mirrors.

Oh Lord, we are a country founded in rebellion, and we have fallen into grave sin. We have made greed a virtue. We have borrowed until there is no grain left in the storehouse, and now we throw the costs onto our children and grandchildren. We have cultivated a hyper-sexualized culture. We allow our children to reach their teens without knowing how to behave like men and women. We have sanctioned the murder of millions of unborn children.

Amidst all this, we have the gall to proclaim this God’s most favored nation. We boast, oh Lord, when we should tremble.

If you, oh Lord, would count our iniquities against us, who could stand? We are shot through with sin, as a nation, a city, a church, as individuals. But you are faithful where we are faithless, and you have promised that when we confess, and repent, and lay hold of your Cross, that you will cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

So we praise you, Lord. Thine, oh Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is Thine. Thine, oh Lord, is the kingdom, and Thou art exalted above all.

We praise you and we beg your mercy, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

Go to Sand in the Gears for more...

Friday, October 24, 2008

State Fair...

Yeah, I know. Today we were supposed to be packing all day, but since it was David's official off Friday, and since we can't get much done with Seth in the morning, and since the State Fair is in town, well... we went. =) We found free parking!, and Seth got to pet the living, breathing animals he's been talking about and making noises of for weeks now. He got to pet a real, live baby duck! And a really nice farmer let him pet a cow for as long as he wanted. He grinned, and he kept mooing. It was very, very cute. Considering how into animals he is right now, this was the best opportunity I could think of for letting him see and touch the real deal.

And then things degenerated. We walked through the midway. All we could smell was the sweet scent of fried oil. We were getting hungry. And then we saw it. The booth where they deep fry everything. I succumbed to temptation first. There is, indeed, nothing like a deep fried Milky Way. The candy bar itself melts, and it's on a stick, covered with cake batter. And since I was having a deep fried something, David couldn't stand it. He ordered a bloomin' onion.

The picture above is of a family who has allowed its child to fall into sin with them. =) And that picture makes me laugh. A lot. Check out the wide open little piehole on the munchkin.

Imagine that he keeps saying, "Duck! Duck! Duck! Duck!" over and over again. Then you get the flavor of this experience.

Another linky...

I thought about not posting this, as I don't want another barrage of comments on the same topic, but this article made so many of the same arguments that I did earlier, except much more coherently, that I decided to do so. So go here if ya want, and don't if you don't. And if you want to comment, Randy Alcorn has a great comment section there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Makin' lemonade...

Thanks for your support, guys, especially Meredith. I am feeling better today. I went over to the house this morning to let in one of our deacons, Steve, who was helping us with a couple of projects. It's a pretty, sunny day, which always helps my mood, and there were about 6 fat robins trying to drown out the traffic noise I find so objectionable. (That's my problem with the house.)

I think I've decided that cold weather makes noise travel better, and that's why it seems so much worse than when we bought the house in the summer. So Seth and I walked around the backyard, and I tuned my ears to focus on the wind in the trees and the birds singing. It helped. It also helped that Steve has to put up with it, too, and he lives in a slightly more expensive neighborhood right down the road. Maybe its nice to know that you're not alone.

But I thought I'd tell a little story today about a car wreck and what came from it. On Monday, on his way home from work, David got into an accident. A lady in the lane next to him decided that she would like to be in his lane, so she hit him hard on the passenger side. She admitted total fault, and he is fine. But... we have thousands of dollars in damage to David's car, and the body shop won't get it back to us for a few weeks. Our insurance does cover a rental car.

Problem. Because of the High Point furniture market, Raleigh was all out of rental cars. When we got to Enterprise on Tuesday morning, that's what we were told. Well...there was one other option. There were two cargo vans sitting on the lot. David, in a hurry to get to work, said he'd take it. A couple of hours later, he called me.

"This thing is HUGE! We could load it full of boxes. I even think we could get the crown moulding in here."

Last night saw my suit-wearing, lawyer husband loading 12 ft. crown moulding into the back of a cargo van. It was very funny. He was a total imposter around the other cargo vans and their owners, who actually do use their hands for something other than pushing papers. But... the crown moulding fit perfectly! We're hoping we get to keep the van for awhile longer. =) How's that for making lemonade out of some lemons?

I told him that tonight we're going to start ripping stereos out of cars, and we have to kidnap at least one person. You gotta get your money's worth...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Keys...

And this is what we did this morning.... Imagine that my hand is the one on the bottom, waiting to receive said shiny things that open doors. It's over. We're homeowners. And I'm started to get a little bit excited. And that's big for me, actually.

For the last week or so, I've been battling buyer's remorse. There. I said it. There have been days when I've been sorry that I ever said "yes" to this house. Not because this house is a bad deal or ugly or doesn't have the things that will be best for our family in the coming years. All of these things get a big, practical, check mark beside them.

The thing I've been struggling with is that I had a certain criteria that was important to me, and I let myself be talked out of sticking to it. And I have been regretting not being true to myself in insisting that it does matter to me, even if it doesn't matter to lots of Americans. It was probably the right thing to be talked out of making the straw that broke the deal's back. I think all clues seem to be pointing to God wanting us in this particular house. But it doesn't mean I haven't been struggling with letting go of a deeply held desire.

David was kind enough to ask me if anything was bothering me or disappointing me about the house decision. If he hadn't asked, I don't think I would've let myself admit the cause of my sadness about leaving this place. Who wants to say to themselves, "I'm moving to my first home, and I don't want to right now." ? At this point in our marriage, we have a system for these kinds of conversations. David lets me talk out things and figure out how and why I feel a certain way by doing so, and he doesn't get angry with me if whatever I'm whining about isn't the end of the world because I admit that I'm spoiled and shouldn't be feeling this way and I know it... but I do, and it will be easier to get over if I can talk it out. It works for us. =)

So now I'm putting on my big girl panties and moving on. I'm thinking about all the great things about this house, and I'm looking forward to watching the wonderful house painter work his magic and turn it into something fresh and bright and new. I'm thinking about the incredible generosity of the friends from Sunday School who will be spending their Saturday putting up crown moulding for us in the living room. And I'm thankful for the mother of the seller, who came in and cleaned the house from top to bottom so that I don't have to. I have a lot of things to be grateful for...

We're going over there tonight to take some measurements before we head to Lowes. I'm praying for a thankful heart. Please pray that I will see only the good and not focus on the less than great. I'm trying...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Political roundup...

I'm a little crazy busy right now throwing out a bunch of my clothes that I'll never have a prayer of wearing again to make room for the maternity clothes that I already seem to need to cover up that "has she been eating too many donuts?" look that I seem to have about, oh, 12 weeks early this time around... =)

But, I have not forgotten you, gentle readers. And so I present this roundup of stuff I have come across lately. An excellent blog post from Sallie, a little somethin' somethin' from Ruthie, and a thoughtful post provided by Luke. Thanks, guys, for providing so much food for thought this political season...

On another note, I listen to NPR. (Ducking and covering). Hey, you gotta know how the other side thinks. And I was listening to the BBC World Service. Their commentators were practically gleeful about the recent mortgage problems. One of them said, and this is almost a direct quote. "We're sure to see more regulation now that looks like what the Americans got after the Enron Scandal. (Insert name of act here) scared off some foreign investors, and that was Britain's gain, because they came here." I think one can find a direct application to Sallie's post from this.

I do not think that Obama is sure to win. I just don't. Those of you who live in blue states have probably given up all hope, but I haven't just yet. Obama is outspending McCain 9-1 because McCain stuck to his promise to take public funding, and Obama decided he didn't need to keep his word on that little ol' promise after all. Despite that, they are tight in the polls. Why is that? I think people are still thinking about this one, and some are really asking themselves, "Who is this guy, and where did he come from?" But regardless of who we get, we're bound to get some socialist policy for the next four years, which is equally certain to hamstring our already struggling economy. Because there isn't anybody in charge up there that has any more sense than my stupid barking neighbors that I will be thrilled to leave behind in two short weeks. =)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Minestrone day...

We had our reinspection this morning over at the new house, and it went well. There were a couple of things to be fixed, but nothing major. And the painter came, and he was confident he'd have plenty of time to paint the place from top to bottom. =)

David clearly didn't want to go back to work afterward. He came home with us to "change clothes," and spent a good, long time reading to Seth. Seth decided he wanted to wear his "hat" (bike helmet) while reading. Very funny. I think it's very sweet when David would rather stay with us than go to the office. I realize even more that its a sacrifice for him to provide for us so we can stay together during the day.

And, it's turned into soup weather here. Rainy, nasty, and coldish. I'm making my favorite soup of all time, and I realized I hadn't shared the recipe on this blog. So here goes!

Minestrone a la Ellen

1 large leek, chopped
2 carrots, cut into coins
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 T. olive oil
12 c. chicken stock (I use Natural Goodness)
1 14.5 oz. diced tomatos
1 t. basil
1 t. ground thyme
pepper to taste
1 can french style green beans
1 can light red kidney beans
1/2-1 c. small pasta shells

Put the leek, carrots, celery, and oil in a large stockpot. Heat to sizzling, cover, and sweat for 12 minutes. Then add broth, seasoning, and tomatos, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 25 minutes. Add all beans and pasta and simmer 10 minutes longer, until pasta is cooked. Serve with shredded cheese. Mmmmm!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sacrificing to Molech...

* I will be deleting any comments to this post from now on. If you would like to give your opinions about this topic on your own blog, that would be a more appropriate place. This is my blog, and I think that comments on this post are becoming more off topic and unhelpful, and I don't have time to respond to them now, as I am in the middle of a move.*

"The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same." You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods."- Deuteronomy 12:29-31

For the last week or so, I've noticed a theme in the things I've been learning in my Bible study. Specifically, the sacrifice of infants to Molech has come up twice in a week. Now, I don't know about you, but that isn't something that comes up often in my Bible study.

In our video lesson this week in Sunday school, the practice of Baal infant sacrifice was explained and dwelt upon. In the Canaanite fertility ritual, Baal died each year in the winter, and in order to get him to return to life in the spring and bless the crops, his worshippers thought they had to mimic his sexual behavior with Asherah. This would encourage him to come back, mate with Asherah, and give them good crops. It was all about doing/sacrificing whatever they thought they had to to get what they needed for the year. Sometimes, the sexual and animal sacrifice wouldn't be enough. They would give their infants to the flames as well.

And I thought about what it means when a culture sacrifices its infants in order to get something it thinks is more important... whatever that is. For the Canaanites, it was a good grain crop. For us, it might be an easier single life or not having to worry about a child placed for adoption.

I've heard a lot said about how evangelicals have "social issue" fatigue. They're tired of dealing with and talking about abortion over and over again. Some among the younger generation think that they should be voting on other important things, like the environment, or the economy. They think, "Well, I don't see that Roe will be overturned in my lifetime. I don't think anything I do will do any good, so I'm moving on to issues I think I can do something about."

When I read what God thinks of cultures that practice infant sacrifice, I am sobered about this mindset once again. There is never a time when it is ok to get tired of taking a stand for innocent human life. And there is never a good time to cast a vote for someone who says that he or she believes that children can be sacrificed for the sake of expediency.

Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion senator in the U.S. Senate. He has taken stands that most other Democrats have not. He wouldn't even support a measure that was identical to one passed by an overwhelming Senate majority that would provide medical care to an aborted baby born alive. He said it would place an undue burden on the mother to make the decision about abortion all over again. This is a living, breathing, human child we're talking about, and he wouldn't act to save it. Go to http://www.bornalivetruth.org/ for more information on that.

We have never seen a major presidential candidate before that was so strongly pro-abortion. And it scares me. I do not want to be a member of a majority culture that says that wrong is right. And I'm afraid that people who do not believe in abortion might vote for this man because they're tired of Republicans and looking for a change.

So I'm putting this out there because God seems to be bringing it to my attention this week, and I don't want to let the moment pass me by. Please, until every child has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, don't get distracted by the other issues. They're important, but none trumps this...

Staying home...

Yesterday, as I left MOPs, a friend called to me, "See you tomorrow!" Pushing through the doors, my heart sank just a bit. I remembered that I am signed up for a free gym play time on Wednesday mornings. And its not that I don't usually like going to it. It's just... we're getting overscheduled.

I knew the sinking feeling meant that it was time to step back and pull us out for a breather. So this morning, we didn't go anywhere or plan anything. It was just me and Seth and a beautiful day.

And since I didn't have anywhere to be at 9:30 a.m., we could slow everything down to a nice amble. When I'm rushed, I don't always let Seth feed himself his morning oatmeal. This morning, I did, and his happy, messy face showed me what he'd been missing.

We went on the porch, and I identified everything to his delighted cries of "Dis! Dis!" for quite awhile. I sipped my morning cocoa, and he enjoyed getting to play on his slide in nothing but a diaper and a t-shirt. There was no quick tugging on of clothes before we had to go, go, go.

We had a ticklefest, we stacked blocks, and we even put away toys together. It was just us. And I'm glad that today, I said "no" to one more thing and one more place to be. It's hard to find the right balance at this age, I think. I don't say "no more" often enough.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A beating heart...





I couldn't find a picture that didn't make Itty Bitty look like an alien, except for this one. This is a baby's hands at 7 weeks. Aren't they adorable?

We went for our first ultrasound this morning. Morning sickness has been kicking my tush a little harder than I would like, so I didn't enjoy the appointment as much as I did with Seth because of the nausea. But... I saw everything I needed to see.

There is, indeed, only one baby. (Heaving significant sigh of relief now.) And this teensy weensy wittle ting has a nice, beating heart! The very efficient doctor at the practice did our ultrasound, so it lasted all of 30 seconds, but there isn't a lot to see on these particular ultrasound machines at this age anyway.

I'm hoping that this will help me feel like this is more real and lasting. I remember how I felt after my second ultrasound with Seth. It was at about 7 weeks, and this time, they'd given me a little pamphlet that they must've forgotten to give me the first time around.

I remember sitting in the parking lot at a store in B'ham, waiting for Mom to buy some spices (she was down packing us for DC and went with me), and reading it. The thing that made all the difference in the world to me was when I read that after you see a heartbeat, there is a less than 10% chance that the baby won't make it. And that statistic was comforting.

As I suspected, I probably did ovulate a little late after the trigger shot this time. Looks like my due date is June 1. Baby measured at 6 weeks and 5 days today. I'm wondering if we'll have a Memorial Day baby... Great time to have a birthday, if you ask me. You'd always get a 3 day weekend to celebrate. =)

David has been amazingly sweet and understanding this weekend. We have finished going through the shed. (Break into Hallelujah Chorus...) It went like this... David unpacked a box, I sat on the loveseat covered with a sheet trying to keep my tummy calm, he showed me stuff, and we debated keeping or trashing it and why. The shed is a lot emptier, and our local Goodwill now has a wonderful selection of graduate history books ranging from the Boxmaker's Rebellion to Reconstruction. If we see a bonfire toward the west very soon, I won't be surprised.

Thanks for all your prayers. Please keep them up for the next few weeks. I have to go through all our closets and sort and store a ton of Seth's old clothes. The reinspection is this Friday, and the painter will be coming to go through the house with us. I still have to pick some fixtures and a lot of paint colors. =( And I really want to feel up to all of it, so that's a little hard right now.

Enough randomness now. I am incredibly thankful this this little child that God has given us. We took a walk yesterday, and I teared up thinking about how gracious God has been, in everything lately. Being pregnant is an incredible gift....

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Moving stress...

I'm hoping that writing this out will make me feel better, so here goes. For the past couple of days, I've been feeling the dreaded moving stress creeping up to club me over the head. Today, I feel almost panicky and definitely weird.

See, David has carved out tomorrow afternoon through Tuesday to get working on packing stuff. He has an obscure govt. holiday on Monday, and every other Friday he has the option of taking off. (Ha! Like that ever happens.... ) But this time he is, and we have to get to work.

And I'm remembering all the times we've moved before and how much I loved it. Not much. Actually, I usually become emotionally paralyzed right around moving time. I look around, feel completely overwhelmed, and think I would just like to crawl under a bed and hide until its over. I hate, hate, hate moving. I've done it a lot. I know what it always looks like. And I want to shoot it right between the eyes before it can come within 10 feet of my house again.

Having a toddler and morning sickness doesn't make me any more joyful about it than usual. I hate the feeling of powerlessness I get every single time. And I feel useless compared to David, who always wades in with a shovel and just plows the never ending mountains of stuff into submission. In moving, I am definitely the weaker sex. I'm just glad that he's so nice to me about it.

We'll get started, and I'll feel better to be started instead of sitting around and dreading it. But if you could pray for me over the weekend, that would be great.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

20 month cutie...

Have I mentioned that he's finally walking? He took his first steps to my dad a couple of days after he turned 20 months. It was really funny because he didn't know what he'd done, and he seemed shocked that we all were cheering for him. The next day, he seemed to get it that he was walking without holding our hands. He did a few circuits back and forth between us, and he was pleased as punch at his achievement. At this point, he walks on his own at least a little bit every day. I've got to get some video before he gets really good at it...

Mom read to him a lot this weekend in the car, and he's really gotten back into books after a period of not being that interested. He brings me books and wants to climb in my lap and read all the time. He can tell me what sounds a horse, cow, and a cat can make. And he recently learned to say the word "bumblebee." I was impressed. It's in his current favorite book, "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?" Whenever we get to the page with "boom boom" and "splatt splatt," he always laughs.


And here we have a couple of very safety conscious toddlers. It's dangerous to push or ride a toy car without the proper headgear. They found the helmets and put them on all by themselves. Well, maybe Peter helped. He's a little older than Seth. We have a small group time every week at someone's house, and the boys play while we do our thang. We're starting a short video series on parenting soon.

Ok, time to digress. Sometimes, I admit, my heart sinks when another parent tells me about the latest and greatest parenting guru. I have read a few parenting books, I admit, and its not like I don't want to do my best at this job. But sometimes I feel like its a bottomless, never ending pit of stuff to know and do and learn. There are so many suggestions for great things to do (50 different techniques for doing amazing daily devotions, for example) that you can never take them all. Sometimes the pressure to go to parenting conferences and read parenting books just plain gets on my nerves. I feel like I'll be looked at as a bad parent if I'm not interested in going each time someone new comes to town. Anybody else feel like this sometimes?

Maybe its just me. Or the pregancy hormones. I plan to blame a lot of crankiness on the pregnancy hormones for the next 9 months, so be aware...