Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring pictures...

This one was the money shot of our Easter shoot. I love this picture. I hope he always adores his daddy.

This one was the least offensive of the ones of me. You think I'm going to show you my toothy grinned shots? Fat chance.

Not exactly your traditional Kodak moment, but its cute.

Seth has really gotten into the slide on our play gym lately. It's a really fast slide, so someone has to be ready to catch him halfway down, but he loves it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm gone!

"My bags are packed, I'm ready to go... 'cause I'm LEAVIN' ON A JET PLANE, DON'T KNOW WHEN I'LL BE BACK AGAIN..." (I have to belt it in all caps 'cause the baby's still napping.)

Ok, well, there isn't a jet plane involved, but my minivan is pulling out of here at bedtime. No later. And bedtime may get pushed a little bit earlier than usual. Nana will be here. If she wants to yank him out of his crib to sing all five verses of "Jesus Loves Me" after I'm gone... well, I won't know about it, will I?

I've Mapquested the hotel, and I've read travel reviews. I know, I know, but I almost NEVER get to stay in a hotel. Especially one with an indoor Jacuzzi and good breakfast bar. Or one that you have to walk through a lobby to get to your room. =) Seth and I visited the library this morning. He got more board books. Mommy got some novels and some books on CD for the road. The Dr. Peppers are packed snugly in my suitcase, awaiting their cold nest in the ice bucket when I arrive. Gotta have my morning elixir.

This won't be a romantic getaway. David is going to be completely occupied with his Big Work Project. I'll be there for moral support, bubble baths in a tub I didn't have to clean, and sympathetic smiles as I look up from my novel. Perhaps I will even eat breakfast with him, for free, at a place where I don't have to cook or clean up. It's the little things, people!

So, see ya later! Hopefully no disaster will befall Seth and Nana. I don't want to have to come back early!

Making necklaces longer...

This is my first time participating in Works for Me Wednesday, but I thought I'd give it a shot! =)

I actually dressed up for Easter Sunday this year, and I decided to wear a matching necklace and bracelet combo that I've had for years. I couldn't remember why I never wore it.. until I put on the necklace. It was practically a choker. I have a lot of necklaces like this, it seems. They're just not quite long enough. What to do?

I noticed that I had a bracelet in my jewelry box that looked similar to the necklace. It was also silver and was pretty plain. I decided to attach the bracelet to the necklace to give it some extra length. It worked like a charm! I figure I could also use wire cutters or needle nose pliars to cut up a length of an old necklace I don't wear anymore, and I could use it in the same way.

Well, that's it! It works for me!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fabulous Taquitos...

My friend, Elizabeth, gave me this recipe, and it is AWESOME! I'm serious. I haven't gotten this excited about a recipe in awhile. So I have to share with all of my online buddies, now don't I? =)


1 med. onion, finely diced
1 clove minced garlic
1/2- 1 lb. ground beef
1 can Rotel, drained and finely chopped (I used my mini food processor for the dicing.)
2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
flour tortillas (not large burrito ones)
shredded cheese

Brown ground beef and drain. Saute onion and garlic. Stir in beef and next four ingredients. Cook for about 10 minutes on med. heat. Heat tortillas in microwave to soften. Top with 1/4 c. of beef mixture, spread out to within 1 in. of the edge. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Roll up and put seam side down on greased foil on a cookie sheet. Brush with vegetable oil. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream or salsa if your little heart desires.

I made four of these for us tonight, two apiece, and then served them with mexican rice and broccoli. I made it with only 1/2 a pound of ground beef, since the cheese gives it plenty of protein. I froze the leftover meat mixture, and we'll get 7-8 more taquitos out of it. Delish!

Small minds...

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.-Eleanor Roosevelt

I have a small mind... frequently. My mom quoted me a version of this when I was younger. For some reason, it stuck with me. I don't think I told her that at the time. But I did quietly file it away to ponder, and I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a person who talked about ideas. Yup, ideas were my goal, the bigger the better. Like maybe free market economics or the nature of choices or being pro-life and still supporting the death penalty.

I have learned that not many people like to talk about ideas, for a variety of reasons. (There have been some great conversations that I've had that revolved around the nature of having too many choices and what you'd like to invent if you could invent anything, but they're the exception.) And I am not smart enough to carry a conversation about ideas on my own. Besides, I like to talk about events and people as much as the next gal, so its easy to let go of the lofty goal of "big idea" conversation. So often, conversational topics for me consist primarily of events and happenings and baby care products and vacations, etc. Eventually, though, it seems like conversation turns back to people and relationships. This seems natural, in my opinion. After all, for women at least, our relationships and the health or disease of them are what are most important to us in life.

Talking about people can be pleasant thing, a way of building community connections. My mom will often share both good tidings and sad stories about folks I grew up with, family members, and old friends. We'll talk about who just had a baby and who is in the hospital. Such talk is friendly and innocuous. We're rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn. The things shared are common news, and those who are being shared about welcome their news being passed on.

But sometimes, woven through the middle of these kinds of harmless statements are some critical ones, and these sow seeds of slander, hurt, distrust, and anger. They're seeds, and as such, they are harder to detect. If they were bushes, wacking us in the face with their thorny branches, we'd be shocked and pull back. But since they're small, we sometimes barely notice them. We walk away from the conversation, and a few moments later, we have nagging thoughts.

"Hmm, should I really have shared that about Susie? I have this feeling maybe she wouldn't have liked it."

"I was too angry when I was talking about Beth. I know she's hurt me, but I really didn't intend to give Kate such a bad impression of her. What if Kate tells her what I said..."

There are times when we legitimately want to get godly counsel from our friends. We have a situation that we're struggling with involving another person. We want to share that to get help so that we won't sin in our relationship with them. I think we can do that without engaging in slander, but it involves much care and caution. And if we're angry, we can't do it until we can step back, take it to the Lord, and let Him heal the anger.

I was involved in a conversation the other day that probably descended into gossip. It started out innocently enough, with one person trying to get useful information about a group she was thinking of joining. It ended with me feeling very uncomfortable with the way some members of the group were portrayed. What to do? I felt uncomfortable, so I left the room to get Seth. After the person who had been sharing about the group left, I told my friend that I'd been uncomfortable, and I worried that we'd all engaged in gossip. I'd asked questions and probably encouraged the talk in a negative direction, so I certainly wasn't blameless. We talked about it, and we talked about how hard it is to check ourselves and tame our tongues.

Only now, I'm thinking about this, and I'm thinking, "Do I now have to go to the person that said things that made us uncomfortable, and do I have to tell her that I told my friend that I was uncomfortable with what she said?" Ooops! I probably do, or I am guilty of potentially slandering her, without even meaning to. Man, this is sticky and complicated!

This morning in MOPs, our speaker talked about taming the tongue. It was a timely lesson for me. I feel like I will fight a lifelong battle against this. I just know that I want to be a woman of integrity whose friends know that she will not be saying bad things about them behind their backs. My rule of thumb has been not to say anything about you behind your back that I wouldn't say to your face. Now, I'll say a lot to you to your face. =) But I can use that as an excuse to tell someone something about a friend that I have no business sharing, just because I have told them the same thing to their face. Am I being kind? Am I being loving? Am I just talking to talk, or do I really need godly advice for a relationship in crisis? I know the answer, if I'm willing to just be honest with myself.

So if you're my friend, and you see me starting to talk about someone just to talk, gently correct me. I don't want to be planting a thornbush garden with my tongue. =)

More linky love...

Since you liked the last link, I give you this offering. It's funny.

Monday, March 24, 2008

John Piper on the Prosperity Gospel...

A friend just sent me this link. It's powerful. It's tough for my flesh to take. I pray that God makes me willing to elevate the Giver above His gifts...

The weekend of Amy's...

Ok, I'm still in my bathrobe, and I've got to get a shower, but I thought I'd give a weekend recap first...

It was the weekend of Amy's! My new Amy, her husband, Drew, and their 2 1/2 year old, Bethany, came over for Easter dinner. They are from Kansas, and they couldn't make it home for Easter this year. Sniff. And since cousin Keith and his fam cancelled on us after I'd gone grocery shopping, we had the makin's of a fine dinner for some lucky person or two. I had my breadmaker going before we left for church, and it doesn't get much easier than cold ham, mashed potatos, and green bean casserole. This was not a work intensive dinner 'cause the main dish was so easy, though I do think its a tad bit weird that everyone eats ham on the holiday when a Jewish rabbi rose from the dead. Just sayin'. Anybody else thought that before?

So, anyway, Amy and Drew got here, and we all had to take pictures 'cause we were dressed up for Easter. So we did that. Mine came out awful. David's came out great. Of course. Even though I dressed up! I was smiling too big like a goon, and I need a haircut. Bad. Ok, y'all know I never dress up. I would be sooo happy to wear jeans to church every Sunday for the rest of my life. But this Easter, David wore a suit, Seth had on saddle shoes, khakis, and a cute blue and white sweater, and I wore, gasp, a dress, panty hose, heels, and a matching necklace and bracelet. I know, Mom, don't have a heart attack. Man, it takes a lot of extra work to get that dressed up for church. I don't know how those '50s housewives did it every day.

So... we had a nice dinner, and Bethany hunted eggs. We took more pictures. We had dessert. After we were close to diabetic coma from the mandarin orange/Cool Whip "salad" and the Snickers pie, my new Amy and her family staggered out to the car to go home and sleep it off. Before they left, Bethany nearly had a meltdown because she wanted to "take the baby home" with her. Of course, we ran for the suitcase we keep packed for him... just in case. But her parents weren't so keen on the idea. Foiled again.

We got ourselves a nice afternoon nap, and then it was time for my old Amy to show up on her way to visit her mom. She brought teensy weensy 2-month-old Lydia with her! Oh, my goodness, how I miss me some new baby smell and some baby cuddles! Seth looked like a monster compared to her. And he was acting like one since his naps were off, and we'd had so much excitement. Bedtime was a relief for all. I was able to check my email with a baby in the crook of my arm instead of bashing the keyboard. When you put her on a bed, she stays there. Have I mentioned lately that Seth has started doing the high pitched scream thing when he's happy now? Yeah. I found myself saying over and over again, "I can't do this anymore with Seth." I sounded like a broken record, even to myself. Amy was positively glowing with new motherhood. She was sooo cute with her darling little girl. I enjoyed watching them.

Too bad you can't have your first baby over and over again. Just press rewind when you get tired of temper tantrums and go back to cooing and cuddles. If you want that new baby experience again, you have to have it at the same time that you're also being distracted by the toddler experience. I'm sad that other children we have won't get the same undivided attention that Seth did.

But Amy spent the night and just left with Lydia. She was so sweet to let me be a baby hog. I got my fix for a bit. Have a great time at your mama's! And now its on to start the week!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I got this centerpiece idea online. It was the first year I'd dyed eggs. It was fun! And then I just put everyone's name on them and used them as place cards.

This is the Easter basket that Amy brought to me. Click on it. You'll see the candy wrappers that she personally stamped. She's scrapbook obsessed.

Bethany, David, and Seth hunting Easter eggs. The grass is finally greening up!

Seth was happy to hold the eggs that Bethany hunted for him.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

He is risen!

I am alive, because He is alive! Tomorrow we celebrate God's atoning sacrifice that brings us to Him. The tomb is empty.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that it doesn't matter to your faith if Christ was raised or not. Christ was not just a good teacher who died. We don't just live under the influence of his profound teachings. Those descriptions trivialize and demean who He really is. He is God, and he conquered sin and death by his resurrection. Take it from Paul on this one:

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all."- 1 Corinthians 15: 12-28

I have such joy today because He has made me His daughter by His sacrifice for me. The springtime I see all around me is one way that God reminds me at this time of year of the new life that I have in Him. Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

Well, what do you think of the gnomes?

I like garden gnomes. I enjoyed the cave of gnomes at Rock City in Chattanooga. I once bought a garden gnome as a gag gift. They aren't my favorite thing in the world, but I like 'em pretty well. And I'm willing to put up with them because they are included in a cool template that was FREE. If this designer puts up something else free that I like better, I'll be switching. Heck, I'll probably be switching anyway when I get tired of gnomes.

What do you think? I was getting tired of the strawberries. But I did have to code my link list in HTML, and this is a classic blogger template. Sitemeter has disappeared on me, and I know not what to do. Sigh. Who knows if this will last. =)

Spring!... and ch- ch- ch- changes...

David's at work this morning. Sigh. He has a Big Thing coming up this Thursday in his work world, so please pray for him! He's stressed. The best part is that I get to observe the Big Thing. Mom is coming to watch Seth so I can go to Wilmington with him. I'll be gone Wednesday night through Friday afternoon, so I'll need prayer, too! This will be the first time that I've left him overnight. At least he'll be in his own home with someone he knows well. But its still a little scary. I hope I don't become an emotional mess and have to come back early. Hmm. Nahhh. I'm really looking forward to this! We even get to stay in a hotel, courtesy of the citizens of the United States of America. So if you pay taxes... thank you very much. =)

My ability to go to Wilmington is made possible by the fact that... this was my last day to nurse Seth. I'd been hanging on the the last feeding for as long as possible... not for him, but for me. I would bring him in my bedroom with me in the morning, still zipped in his sleep sack, and I'd nurse him in bed. Then he would be all sweet and cuddly with me. I knew that I had to give up sweet morning cuddle time if I stopped nursing because he is HUNGRY when he gets up, and he needs a snack to tide him over while he cuddles. I had planned to make yesterday the last, and I brought a cup in the bed with me this morning, thinking that would be a nice transition. Not happening. He drank one swig, and then pushed it away, angry tears streaming out of his eyes.

He wanted to nurse! This is the first time he's batted an eyelash about cutting out a feeding. (The other feedings, we've just walked right past the usual nursing spot at the usual time, straight into the high chair, and he hasn't noticed.) He was just fine after I gave in and nursed him. And then he cuddled. I was glad I made today it instead of yesterday. We didn't have to go anywhere, and I could just relax and enjoy my last morning cuddle for awhile. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and now that I know that the cup isn't an acceptable transition, he'll be going straight to his high chair. =)

Maybe those of you who have several kids have trouble understanding why I waited until nearly 14 months to wean him. Maybe you understand; I don't know. When you've had infertility, you don't ever feel like you can count on being able to have another one. What if I'll never get the chance to nurse again? It's hard to say goodbye to the precious milestones for everybody I guess, but I think its a little extra hard when you're afraid it might be the last. I'm glad I waited this long, and I took it slow and easy. It wasn't just for him, it was for me and my heart. He loves his cup now, but it did take a bit for him to get used to it. It's wonderful to see him grow up. I'm ready to let go of this... hopefully it won't be the end of all nursing forever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Important questions for my readers... yes, that's you...

Ok, I had this plan to go through some of my old photos and ask all of you when you started this journey with me. But I got back to this and had to stop and think... and feel... and emote... =)

This picture was taken on my graduation day in May 2006. That's the day I walked across the stage and got my M.A. in History. I got "hooded". I'd always aspired to a hood, from the day I saw the grad students getting them back at my undergrad graduation. The hood was kind of a symbol of the additional knowledge I'd like to cram into my puny head, so it was a big day when I picked mine up from the grad rental place. I thought about buying it... but I can only get so sentimental when sentimentality headbutts into overpriced grad wear. =)

Anyhoo, I remember that day vividly. It was a very emotional day for me. The emotions weren't all positive, and they weren't all negative. It was a roller coaster ride the whole time.

For the past two and a half years, I'd sat in a dingy conference room in the History building two nights a week, summer, fall, winter, and spring. I'd argued with professors about the nature of political systems, written numerous critical book reviews, sweated through primary research papers and my comps... and it was over. And my purpose for that part of my life was over as well. I didn't know what lay ahead of me, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to know.

I knew that I was on my last cycle of meds with the fertility clinic, I was moving to DC in a month, and I had no clue what the future would hold. I was very afraid that it would hold something more difficult than the present I was experiencing. I was excited about the fact that I'd done my best in grad school and achieved my goal of an M.A. But the achievement was very bittersweet on that day.

I remember sitting with the other grad students in the College of Arts and Sciences. We were in the coliseum, and I had no idea where my parents and David's parents were sitting. Since I couldn't see them, I looked at the spectators near me.

And then I saw her. A happy, pregnant woman sitting with her husband. She was about three rows up, very close to me. I remember sitting there and breathing out a fervent prayer to the Lord: "Please, God, please. I'm begging you. Please don't let this be it for me. I'm so thankful for the chance to go to grad school, but you know where my heart has been this whole time. Please..."

A little over a week later, I found out I was pregnant with Seth. He answers prayers. And the really tough time of questioning and struggling and trying to find the place God had for me was at an end... for now. =) I guess my blog journey started with infertility... and now its here. Wherever here is.

I'm trying to figure out where here is. I was looking at the archives the other day, and I realized that my life was really pretty darn exciting from the time I started my blog until a couple of months ago.

I'll give you a timeline to illustrate my point:

May 2006- Ellen graduates and gets pregnant after trying for 3 years...
June 2006- Ellen and David move to DC, David starts new job with the Supreme Court
June-January- Ellen and David experience the big city, join new church, and have exciting times
January-July 2007- Seth is born, life is changed, and there are more exciting times with a baby in the big city
July 2007- on- David, Ellen, and Seth move to NC, David takes new job, and they start hunting for a church, looking for friends, and settling into the area.

I know I thought it was exciting. Hardly ever a dull moment. Which leads me to now...

I'm having more dull moments. Maybe I should call them peaceful moments. I'm settling into life as a stay at home mom to a little boy. Things are more stable than they've ever been.

But... I feel like I have less to write about than I ever have. There isn't as much going on to blog about. Or maybe I'm in a creativity rut. I'm not sure. It's also possible that things seemed more interesting when I blogged less often. Hmmm. Much to think about.

But that leads me to questions I have for you. That's you, you Lurker out there. I know from my handy dandy Sitemeter thingy that there are plenty of people who read my blog. My question is... Why? I really am curious. Exactly why do you come here? Now, don't y'all think about this too hard and say to yourself, "Yeah! Why am I reading this drivel? I'm leaving and never coming back!" but ya know, a girl does wonder sometimes.

Many of you who read here know me or know someone who blogs who knows me. I know that you read my blog for the same reasons I read friends of friends blogs. These are reasons that I choose not to articulate here because I still haven't figured out why I care deeply about the vacation plans of my sister-in-law's friend's brother's wife. But nevertheless, I guess I understand you people.

But I'm wondering about those of you who I don't know who comment from time or time or never comment at all. How did you find your way to my little corner of the internet? Why do you still check in from time to time?

And for all of you.... What are your favorite things that I blog about?

And I cringe as I dare to ask this.... Do you have any questions for me? Deep, dark, burning questions that you must have answered before you can go on to live a productive and fulfilling life? Anyone? =)

I'm trying to figure out where this blog is going and where the Little Engine that Could should be pushing it. =)

Birthday cake recipe needed...

The big 3-1 is coming up for David very soon, as in, in about 2 weeks. I'm working on a surprise for him. He LOVES surprises. =)

But the cake is not a surprise, so I can plead for your help in this forum. I'm looking for a really good chocolate cake recipe. Something decadent and rich and gooey and pretty and birthday cake lookingy. I realized that I don't have a chocolate birthday cake recipe in my arsenal. I have one that I like that doesn't include icing, but my man loves icing, so an iced cake it must be. If you could help me out with this one, please put your lovely recipe in the comments box!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Oh, it's just you."

Went to a playdate at Kristi's this morning... Met some new mommies and hung out with old friends. I noticed today how my relationships have grown so much over this short time. I got there a little early, thinking Kristi might need some help getting ready with the twins. She opened the door, looking worried, and smiled as she said, "Oh, its just you." And then I helped her finish up 'cause Hannah was having a fussy moment. =)

I feel like what we all strive for in our relationships is "Oh, its just you" moments. We want to know that we are the "go to" friends for our friends, and that they know they don't have to put on their company faces and manners for us. We want to know that we're the kind of people that they won't stress a bit about seeing the floor covered with toys and the baby covered in something sticky.

Being around moms who didn't know some of us in the group well reminded me how I used to feel and still feel coming into an already established group. I relished the fact that one mom assumed that Kristi and I were sisters because she asked me to get something for her when her arms were full with baby. I think its really interesting how simple things make it obvious when you're good friends with someone, and how sometimes those cues can make the hearts of the onlookers sink with that outsider feeling.

I remembered that some of these women are still looking for those relaxed, comfy relationships. Those of us who know each other need to make an extra effort to ask them questions and make sure they're included in conversations. It's the subtle things... stopping to explain to a new person if a friend asks you about something or someone she wouldn't know about. Being conscious about not talking too much to someone you're more comfortable with without turning to include someone you don't know as well. These things are so easy to forget, and they're so important to making a new person feel less lonely and on the outside. I appreciate the many, many numbers of women who've been kind enough to do this for me. I think we all want to return the favor.

Today at playgroup, I "tried out" my new diaper bag. These days, practically the only place I have time to shop is Walmart. And Seth usually only allows me to look at something briefly, throw it in my cart, and promise to myself that I'll keep the receipt in case whatever it is isn't right/doesn't fit/etc. I don't have a spring/summer diaper bag thats big enough now that I take food and toys with me everywhere. I hung this on a kitchen chair yesterday, hoping that looking at it would help me decide if it was too much color. I still couldn't decide, so I threw a couple of things in it and took it to Kristi's. The plan was to see what kind of comments I got, or if anyone would notice. I got great feedback from my diaper bag peers, so it stays. I have cut off the tags. Da da da dum. I think it'll be fun this spring and summer. Blue for a boy, right? =)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Playing with Photoshop...

Ok, I played with Photoshop today. I think I've decided that I'm going to have to take a class to figure out how to really use it effectively. I'm not a "play around with it 'til you get it" kind of person. I usually have specific things that I want to accomplish, and I want to ask questions, get the answers to them, and then fine tune. I don't want to spend hours digging around to figure things out. This is what I got done today after hunting and pecking for about an hour.

The top picture is the original straight out of the camera. I did some color changes in Photoshop and got the bottom picture. But in Blogger, his carroty orange nose is more obvious. Oh well, back to the drawing board. But I thought I'd show you my inept playing... Now off to sign up for that $50 Photoshop class at the Parks and Rec department! =)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I did it...

I installed my Photoshop program today. I can still feel the tenseness in my jaws from clenching my teeth together while praying that nothing would screw up. =)

My brother called on his way home from school today, and he encouraged me that Photoshop isn't that hard if you just want to edit photos in it, not create some sort of magazine front page spread. Vance has always been great at giving me that extra bit of encouragement I need. I LOVE my brother. He was born to pat people on the back.

So it's uploaded, and I even skimmed the books I got from the library. I was extremely relieved to find that there's a way to upload your images to Shutterfly for printing. I was going to tear my hair out if it looked like I'd have to buy a $500 printer to get some of my goodies on paper. I thought it was odd that I'd have to dig for that information, but I did find it at last.

I haven't done any playing with images yet, but I've taken the first step. I should get there soon. Maybe after this weekend. David is going up to VA to help his parents unpack, and I'm heading to Mom and Dad's for a little r&r. It didn't seem to us that introducing the baby and his schedule into Bill and Diana's chaos would be best for everyone involved, but I sure will miss my honey.

Tepper Isn't Going Out...

It my quest for a few good books, or at least, a few decent books, I stumbled across this one. It's clean, amusing, and well written. This is the story of one man's quest for and enjoyment of the perfect parking space in New York. It's a gently witty book that will appeal to anyone who has ever lived in a large city and dealt with the headaches of parking.

The book's hero, Murray Tepper, is middle-aged, old fashioned ad man. By day, he matches lists with products, trying to find lists of people who bought one thing, like a lettuce dryer, who will also want to buy something else his clients are selling, say, a retractable ironing board. On nights and weekends, Tepper enjoys the quiet thrill of finding the perfect parking space. Once he finds that space, he calmly puts a quarter in the meter, and he sits there, reading the paper and enjoying the thrill of victory. His perfectly legal, but slightly peculiar, pastime turns him into an object of wrath for the machiavellian Mayor of New York, but he becomes a folk hero for the common New Yorker.

I'm sure I'm not doing this book justice with my description. The plot is simple and uncomplicated. The real beauty of the book is in the witty details, descriptions, and minor subplots. I plan to look for other books by this author at the local library in the future. If this sounds like it's up your alley, hunt up a good spot at the local library and indulge yourself in a simple pleasure. =)


Ok, so, any of you ever open your phone bill and gasp in disgust? Maybe it's just me... but it seemed to me that it shouldn't cost me $40 a month to have a home phone. That's just for local, with a couple of long distance calls thrown in when the rechargeable phone card went on the fritz. Our long distance calls were probably running about $10 a month on top of that amount. We considered cutting the land line and going all cellular, but at this point, that's more expensive than a land line, and I'm at home a lot, so no real cell phone needed.

We have a friend who has Vonage and loves it. I was skeptical. The people that I knew that had Vonage in the past had big problems with their phones. I would call them, and Vonage would regularly hang up on me in the middle of calls. Or the reception would be terrible. Or both. But it's been a few years since then, and my friend insisted that Vonage had definitely improved.

Oh my yes, they have. I am really pleased with this service. We got to keep our phone number, the router was very easy to install, and we have call waiting and caller ID included. We're moving into the 2oth century, baby! =) The reception is not quite as good as it was with AT&T, I won't lie, but its still good. For HALF of what AT&T was charging, I am perfectly fine with it. Something else chopped in our monthly bill!

One thing that David and are learning in our quest for more frugal living is that it's important to look at the fixed costs that you have every month and see if you can find a way to lower them. We did it with the car insurance, and that saved a bundle, and we did it again with cable internet, and now with the phone.

There may be something on your monthly bill that you wish you could pay less for. I challenge you, dear reader, to find it. And when you do, and you find a cheaper solution, comment and let me know about it. It may be something that I need to lower myself that I haven't thought of, but whether it is or not, I'd love to rejoice in your frugal victory! =)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


We interrupt this regularly scheduled life to bring you... teething.... like this mom has never seen it before. I took Seth to a playdate yesterday, and he was in a horrible mood pretty much the whole time. I knew he was teething, and I knew it was because of that. What I didn't know was that he has 4, count 'em, 4 top teeth coming in at the same time. Ouch. Double, triple ouch. The sweet gal who had all of us and our younguns over to destroy her new carpet offered me some Orajel, and as we were trying to swear it on his gums, we discovered how big the teething problem truly was.

This morning at MOPs was not a lot of fun. I kept Seth with me, and he did really well playing on the floor and eating the large slice of homemade bread that I kept feeding him out desperation. But when it was time for the craft, he started losing it. I had to leave that early, too. Everyone was staring at me when he started to wail. I swear, I gave him baby Motrin and teething tablets before we even left the house. And he was doing pretty well before we left for MOPs. Sigh. This has been really tough on him. Prayers are appreciated. He didn't even flinch when he got the bottom two. I guess the sheer number of the top teeth pushed him over the edge. I think I'll be doing the grocery shopping by myself tonight after dinner.

And in other news... I don't think I mentioned the big present that my parents got me for my birthday.

Drum roll.... its.... Photoshop CS2!!!

And it's been sitting next to my computer in all its shrink-wrapped glory since February 21. Why? Why? Because I'm afraid to open it.

I debated and debated about whether I should ask for this older version of the big dog photo editing program. I thought about asking for Photoshop Elements instead. But I reasoned, well, this does so much more, and it's a present I don't have to pay for. Maybe I could learn it well and get really good and edit photos of my friend's kids for them. So I have the big dog. And I'm afraid of it.

I keep reading about how powerful and complex and confusing it is. And I think about how I know so much less about most technology than my friends. I can't even figure out how to program my cell phone. What possessed me to think I could learn Photoshop?

I've gotten 5 books on Photoshop from the local library. They've been sitting behind the living room chair for a week. Sigh.

Anybody else out there ever had something that they were afraid to get started on for fear they would fail miserably? Anybody successfully learned Photoshop who felt like the biggest techie dumb bunny on the planet? How'd that work out for ya?

I'll let you know what happens eventually. I'm feeling kinda worn out from my angry, cranky, baby and the time change, so I won't mess with it today. But it's on my Netvibes to-do list, so I know I'll break through and try sometime soon. Wish me luck.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Mentoring night, take 2...

Last night I went to get matched up with my mentee. They had a little meeting and refreshments, and then we were supposed to meet the lady we'd be partnering with for the next 6 months.

As I suspected, there were more younger women, so there are more of us who will be doing peer to peer mentoring. Once again, I was impressed that those in charge were trusting in God, even though this wasn't working in the traditional way they'd been used to. They talked about the friendship of David and Jonathan, and I was struck by several things about their friendship. I'll probably share that later.

Well, the girl that I was supposed to be matched with wasn't there! She was on a missions trip to Mexico, so I guess I'll forgive her. =) I learned that I had actually sat next to her and talked to her some last week! At least I know who she is. She is a couple of years younger than me, in a serious relationship, and looking for advice on becoming a godly wife and mother. At least, that's what her form said. I sent her an email this morning and explained that we already met. Hopefully she's not groaning in agony and thinking of calling and begging for a sweet, older lady right now...

But the reason I'm really writing is about the skit the ladies did last night. I thought it was hilarious, and it brought the point of how to be a good mentor home so much more effectively than if they'd just given a little speech. I can't remember all of it, but it went something like this:

Moderator: Welcome to the Mentor Game! Tonight we have three potential mentors, Truly A. Saint, Sue Permom, and Simply Gracious on our show. They will be introducing themselves to a potential mentee, Ima Novice, and she'll have a chance to ask them questions and pick the one she'd like to be her mentor. Mentors, please introduce yourselves.

"I'm Truly A. Saint. I was saved when I was 4 years old. By the time I was 5, I had memorized all 66 books of the Bible. I was the state Awana champion 5 times, and I spend at least an hour a day in Bible memory and prayer. I'm SURE I can help this mentee with anything she needs."

"I'm Sue Permom. I am in charge of our local MOPs group. I have 7 children... and I homeschool them all. My oldest is watching all the younger children tonight. Training children well is so important. Tomorrow we'll all be going to a Bill Gothard seminar on conflict management for children. I'm SURE I can fit mentoring into my already busy schedule. I've learned to multitask."
"I'm Simply Gracious. I know that I have a lot to learn, but the Lord has been so good to me, and I'd love to listen and try to help with whatever the mentee needs. I know that we can learn so much from each other."

Moderator: Ok, mentee, now you have a chance to ask each of these ladies a question.

Ima Novice: I'm a mom of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I feel like I'm not very good at keeping up with the laundry and housework, and my baby isn't sleeping through the night yet. When my huband comes home, he wants to take us all jogging. How can I tell him that I'm just too tired to go?

Truly A. Saint: Oh, honey. You are going to be fine if you just memorize this verse from 1 Corinthians 10:13: (loud, melodramtic voice) No 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. (Silence)

Ima Novice: Ohh-k.

Sue Permom: Sweetie, you're going to be fine. After all, you've only got two kids. I have 7, and I can handle it! I know you're tired, but what you need is some really good vitamins. You know, I sell some great vitamins, and I'd be happy to get you some. Good nutrition will take care of all this. You should make your own bread to be really healthy. I can also get you some wheatberries and teach you how to grind your own grain. That stuff in the store isn't worth anything...

Ima Novice: (looks exhausted)

Simply Gracious: Sounds like you're having a really tough time. I remember how hard it was when my children were smaller. I'll be praying for you during this part of your life. Would it be possible for you to sit down with your husband and talk about this with him? Maybe you could suggest that he take the kids jogging with him a couple of nights and give you a little time to relax. This is a hard season, but the Lord will help you through it.

Ok, I thought this was hilarious. I know some women who dangerously resemble Sue Permom and Truly A. Saint. I've been someone who's been dangerously close to that. It was a nice reminder of the kind of woman I'd like to be, and the kind of woman who I'd to kick out of my personality. I hope I'm a mentor like Simply Gracious...


It's raining! My little corner of the world has been experiencing a drought, so this is big stuff for us. I think it's going to be a good soaker this morning. I've lit a nice candle, and I'm enjoying the dreariness. I also have a bit of glee seeing the rain because my dad fertilized our lawn yesterday! All that good stuff will be melting in today!

My dad rolled into town on Wednesday night with his trailer, leaf blower, fertilizer spreader, and his "Just Say No to Crabgrass" t-shirt. He made it in time for dinner, which for him was my fried chicken and a baked potato. We had chicken tacos. See, for Dad, coming to my house means that he's on vacation. Vacation from soyburgers and chocolate zucchini brownies. So I feed him whatever he wants when he comes to do my yard work.

On Thursday morning, I woke up to beautiful sunshine, birds singing outside my window, and the faint sound of a rake, raking up leftover leaves. After I got a quick shower, I went outside to inform Dad that he would be getting breakfast soon. The smell of spring morning was everywhere, and I opened the windows as I made him sausage, sweet rolls, and eggs. When Seth and I left for Bible study, he was getting ready to go for a load of mulch. I felt loved, knowing he was at my house making things beautiful while I was gone.

Do you ever open all your windows on the first real day of spring? I did. Every window in the house was flung wide open. I did some cleaning in preparation for my in-laws coming, and it was so much like my childhood to hear the sound of the lawnmower outside. The house smells cleaner and fresher now. That sick, sour, winter smell is gone. Yeah! It may be cold again and raining, but we have the promise of blooms to come. I have bulbs that will be making an appearance very soon, according to dad. And when I sit on the porch, I smell the earthy goodness of mulch.

I appreciate that "doing yard work" is my dad's love language. He's the strong, silent type, and though I can always get a hug, I'm not going to get a long poem from him full of mush. But he loves giving me his time, energy, and expertise. He just likes to have us around and be around us. We don't have to have long conversations; we just have to be there. And if he has things in the yard to do, my dad seems especially fulfilled. He comes back in the house all dirty with a contented gleam in his eye. I lamented that we had no yard for him to putter in in the past. He was stuck napping on the couch in front of the golf channel in our apartment in Birmingham. No more! There's plenty to keep you busy, Daddy, as you well know. Thanks for everything! We'll eventually get better at doing it ourselves, and we'll learn something more and be willing to spend more money on maintenance when we're in a house of our own, but we sure appreciate your help now!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Moving day...

Today is the day! My mom and dad-in-law are watching all of their things be loaded onto a truck. They've been packing like crazy, and they're exhausted. I talked to them last night, and it was clear they are ready to not be done with this.

David's parents have moved a lot. And I do mean a lot. During Bill's career in the military, they moved about every 3-4 years, sometimes to places like Germany and Turkey. David has yet to live in a place longer than 4 years, which is why the place we went to college feels like a home to him. =) As a person who grew up on family land next to the house where her great-grandfather lived and raised his kids, I think this is amusing.

But I digress... During their time in the military, the military took care of all those moves. They paid someone to pack the boxes and load the trucks, and it was stressful, I know, but at least someone else packed the boxes. Now Bill and Diana are out of the military, and they aren't paying anyone to pack their boxes for them. They're also careful packers. So packing an entire house is a long, exhausting process every time. They've endured this long, exhausting process a lot of times in the last few years.

They moved from Virginia to Alabama (1), from Alabama to Texas (to take care of Grandpa for awhile) (2), from Texas to Alabama (back to Alabama for chaplain training) (3), from one house in Alabama to another one down the street (don't even ask, it's a sad story involving a bad landlord) (4), and now they're moving from Alabama to Virginia (5). All of these moves have been in the past 4 years. Give you a tired feeling just looking at it? I thought so.

I have lived in Alabama, and we know and went to church with most of the people they'll be leaving behind. I don't have to imagine the leave taking. I can picture it in my head, and I can feel it with my heart. I've left behind some of those same people. I've done that leave taking. I know how much they will be missed, and rightly so. They have poured themselves out for others, and their loss will be felt.

Please pray for them today. They would really love to have a smooth move with no problems, and we would love that for them. They'll be driving up to us on their way to Virginia, and we hope to give them a little break to rest and relax before they push on on Sunday.

A Lazy Mother's Guide to Play

I've noticed something important about myself lately when it comes to playing with Seth. I'm lazy. I would prefer that he play with his toys on his own while I, say, do something like laundry or dishes or read a book.

The goal to get him to play by himself started innocently enough. I knew that he needed time alone to explore or he wouldn't work on getting mobile. Me playing with him was just him sitting there with me, no wiggling, no reaching for something without crying for Mommy to go get it. So I sat back, pretended not to be there so he wouldn't notice me and beg for my attention, and let him have at it.

Now, I've noticed that I'm a little too happy about how well he does this on his own. He's a generally content child, so he's willing to play by himself with me nearby for a good while. And I haven't been as willing to engage him because I've enjoyed being able to do my own thing.

Which leads to this realization that I need to get it together. I wanted to stay at home partially so that I could play with my child, and get to experience his firsts, and teach him things!

So I've set goals for myself to get more involved with play with Seth. I think setting small, manageable goals helps a lot when you're trying to change a habit, whatever that is.

-I have decided that I will read him at least 5 books at a time when I sit down to read with him... instead of just reading one and then rushing off to do something else I've been thinking I need/want to do.

- I will get down on the floor and play blocks/shape sorter/puzzle/whatever with him during each play period (being defined as time up from his nap before the next one).

- I will do some sort of wrestling/physical play/dancing/singing with him during each play period.

When you have a toddler that doesn't toddle, you start running out of creative play ideas quickly, I find. I feel at a loss sometimes for things to do with him, especially at the end of the day when he's easily cranky. Do you moms out there have any good playtime ideas for non-toddling toddlers?

Seth LOVES books. He'd rather read than do anything else when he's tired or bored. And we're noticing that he is getting to the point where he's familiar with books and interacts with them more. When we get to a page where a book asks a question like, "What's small and round?" he'll sometimes say "ball" at the appropriate time.

He has to turn the pages of his books. We pull one out a bit to let him know it's time to turn, and he reaches and turns it. Emphatically. With purpose and forethought. It's funny to see him so intent on it with his little brow furrowed in deep concentration. When a book is done, he closes it and leans over to look at the book basket for another.

When Seth starts to get bored with a book, we try singing it to him before taking it out of the rotation for awhile. This has worked like a charm, even with books that aren't meant to be sung. David is very good at making up crazy tunes that keep him entertained. And if we suspect that a book is supposed to be sung, we look it up on YouTube. We found the tune to "Little White Duck" that way, sung by a very nice Englishman. It made the book much more enjoyable for him.

I was reading him "5 Little Ducks" today, and when I get to the part where Mother Duck says "Quack, quack, quack," I make the motion with one hand. Well, today, he started doing the motion before I even did it myself. It was so gratifying to see how he remembers and enjoys the little extras!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Chicken and Rice Casserole

I made this last night, and it brought back memories. I really didn't know how to cook the first year we were married. David got a lot of Rice A Roni with chicken added to it. But my mom did give me this simple recipe. I hadn't made it in 6 years. It was still good, simple, but tasty. And I don't think it's that bad for ya, if you use the low fat cream of mushroom soup.

One of my goals for thrifty cooking is this: Make at least one recipe a week that makes leftovers, and freeze them for later weeks. My freezer gets full, and I can save on groceries this way. I know, some people eat the leftovers for lunch, but we find that simple sandwiches are cheaper than doing this. This made enough for one extra meal, and I put it in a labeled, quart ziploc bag.

Here goes!

2-3 boneless skinnless chicken breast, cut in chunks
1 c. rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can of water
1 onion, finely chopped
2 T. butter

Preheat oven to 350. Put butter in 9 x9 dish and melt in oven. Sprinkle rice evenly across the bottom of the dish. Layer chicken on top, and spread chopped onion across. Spread soup over that. Pour water over it, and sprinkle generously with paprika. Seal with foil and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mentoring program...

I've showered, I'm wearing make-up and going-out-of-the-house clothes, I got the oil changed (with a $10 off coupon!), and we even hit the library for more books before nap. Things are looking up. My husband just might get a home cooked dinner tonight...

So, I now have time to talk about mentoring. Do it to someone you love today. Whether they want you to or not. =) Ha ha. Just kidding.

Last Thursday night, I went to an introductory meeting for a women's mentoring program at The Church We Are Currently Attending (TCWACA =). TCWACA has a well established mentoring program, so I thought I would check it out. My mom did a Titus 2 mentoring program a few years ago using a book called Apples of Gold, and she thoroughly enjoyed it. Hearing her talk about it made me wish I could be there to do it with her.

So I walked into the fellowship hall that night a little bit nervous, all by myself, checking out the other women who were crazy enough to show up to tentatively commit to baring their souls to another woman they didn't know. I have to admit that no small part of my motivation for going was David's enthusiasm for keeping a sick baby so I could get out of the house. And they were serving cookies and Coke. I had 4 cookies. Chocolate chip.

We sat down and filled out a form, and they told us what we were letting ourselves in for. We would be matched with someone for the next 6 months. We would commit to calling them once a week and meeting with them twice a month. (My first thought when I heard this was "I don't call my mom once a week. When she hears this, she's going to demand that she can sign up and become my mentor.") The idea is to provide godly wisdom and counsel to each other, and those in charge emphasized that this was a two way street, no matter who had the designations of "mentor" or "mentee."

The thing I liked best about these lovely ladies who were in charge is that they assured us that we were matched through prayer. They counted on God to put together the women that he would have to grow together in the next 6 months. They said they'd be praying very hard about this in the next several days. I loved that! No figuring it out based on age charts or years of marriage or how many kids you have or don't have. I've seen God do some amazing things through women that He has put in my life in the past few years. He has provided some wonderful women from some unusual places to bless me, just when I've needed them. I'm excited to see what He's going to do through this mentoring program, and I'm thrilled that the people in charge acknowledge that He does it.

That's pretty much what I said when we went around the room and told why had come to the meeting. There were about 35 women in this circle. It seemed to me that there were more women looking for mentors than there were women who were there to mentor. Several of the girls were college students. A couple mentioned that they didn't have Christian mothers or other older Christian women in their lives. I shot up a quick prayer, thanking God for my wacky, yet sainted, mother. I can't imagine what life would be like without her consistent godly influence in my life.

On the form, I checked that I was willing to either be a mentor or a mentee. I feel kind of torn about this. On the one hand, I sure could use mentoring. There is a TON that I don't know, and it would be great to have a more experienced woman to give me some fresh perspective and advice. On the other hand, things are going smoothly in my life right now, and I've been blessed with a ton of godly advice from the Christian women in my life that I could pass on. I'm content either way. I'm just going to trust that God will place me in the role He has for me.

We have another meeting this Thursday night. This is the blind date part of the program. It's when I get matched up for the duration. This is a confidential thing, so I probably won't be talking about it much on this blog unless I get the other gal's permission, but I thought I'd let you know what I was dipping my big toe into these days.

From the house of sickness...

It's a bright, warm sunny morning in beautiful North Carolina. This family survived the weekend. David started getting better late on Friday, thank the Lord, and I started going down with it on Saturday night. Yesterday was no fun for me, since I just generally felt nauseous and tired all day. But I think things are getting better today on my end. I was hungry for cereal and milk, and I'm not nauseous currently.

I don't quite know what to think about Seth, though. He threw up for the first time on Wednesday night. Though it's been a couple of days since he last threw up, his stomach is still having a tough time. He hasn't been eating that well, and he's had some diarrhea. This morning it was clear that he was hungry, and he started eating his oatmeal, but after a few bites, he gagged, refused any more, and started crying. It was pitiful. He ate a handful or two of Cheerios off his tray after that, but he's been really sad this morning, and I put him down for a nap early. Does baby sickness usually last this long? I guess I would've thought he would be showing more improvement by now. He is drinking plenty of fluids, Pedialyte and milk, and he's keeping those down fine. How long do you wait before you call the doctor about upset stomach and diarrhea? Can they do anything about that anyway?

In other news, I didn't get a chance to tell y'all about the women's mentoring meeting I attended on Thursday night... That's coming up in a future post. Stay tuned!