What I learned in 2006

As I said before, I am not big on new year's resolutions. I tend to reflect on the past year and ask myself, "How did this past year cause me to grow???" Here is a glimpse of that:

  • God is faithful and good. He protects my family. Gives me strength when I feel I cannot do it on my own. Looks out for me and guides me through the storm.
  • From Mark's ear infections to dealing with my dad's cancer treatments and then working around Matthew's school/sport's schedule....holy cow....time just flew by!!! (FYI: My dad is cancer free to this date!!)
  • Do not judge where someone else is in their faith journey. Let God deal with their heart on His own time.
  • That blogging is a creative and emotional outlet.
  • If the house isn't tidy by the end of day do not fret about it.....it'll be there tomorrow to worry about.......and the next day........and the next.......and the next........
  • Friends are my backbone. To call when I am having a bad day. To vent my problems to. To be myself!
  • Mark does not have Celiac Disease
  • That I need to work on my math skills.
  • Steve's heart is to be at home with us every evening -- is there anything better???
  • My family is the most important thing on this earth!!!

At church this morning God gave me scripture to live by this upcoming year:

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:5-7

I pray in 2007 that I can make an impact in the Body of Christ. To reflect Jesus more. To attract others to His love and forgiveness. Blessings to all of you in your journeys ahead!!!


Girl's Night Out (with some handsome little men too)

Stephanie arranged a get together for some local lady bloggers, which I now call friends too. We enjoyed yummy eats at Don Pablos. The little ones did great as we gabbed on and on and on........

Thanks again: Robin, Sheryl, Ashlee, and Stephanie!!!


What I am into this month.....

Stephanie is asking bloggers to share....

Weirdest present that I received: Nothing really, although my father-in-law gave me 2lbs of chocolate. Like I need that!!!!

My favorite blog entry from this month: This one

What's keeping me busy this month: The weekends were full of activities not to mention all the school events we attended. Baking. Shopping. Wrapping. HOLIDAY CRAZY FOR SURE!

The movie or show I liked watching: The Christmas specials are a nice family tradition. Most of the shows I am into were reruns anyway!

My New Year's Resolution: I am not big on resolutions. I tend to reflect on what I learned throughout the last year to better my life.

Blog I Am Always Visiting: I have a couple friends I’ve known since high school who blog here and here.

What I'm Most Looking Forward To Next Month: For another winter month to end!!


As Mark and I were sharing a bowl of oatmeal on our family room's couch he sneezed while eating a mouthful.

Oatmeal pieces everywhere. On my sleeve.....on his t-shirt......on my pants.....one managed to stick in my hair!!

Mark started picking up the tiny pieces putting them back into his mouth. YUM-O!


Reason why I love Christmas break.....

  • Instead of Matthew starting my day around 6:30am because of the school bus, Mark starts my day around 8-9am. AH, sweet bed!!!
  • On the subject of bed, how about watching the morning news in bed? Still warm and toasty!
  • Staying in my PJs all day
  • Having my wonderful hubby home....my kids think he's the cooler one anyway!!!
  • Matthew's new found love for the "Star Wars" sagas thanks to the Lego Star Wars II video game (birthday present). I admit feeling a bit nostalgic as I sit back and watch. Chills hit me all over again when Darth Vader announced, "Luke, I am your father!"
  • I can go to the grocery store without the kids. No sippy cups. No time limits worrying about meltdowns. No complaints by my older son who is "tired of standing". Should I continue???
  • Steve and I enjoy staying up a little later without school/work to worry about the next morning.
  • With that said, two words: rent movies
  • In a nutshell: BEING A FAMILY


Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Eve PJ Party

Where is Mark?? Running around as usual!!


Post-holiday Hullabaloo

Empty boxes everywhere. Hefty bags full of ripped wrapping paper and broken bows. Leftovers fill my refrigerator. Still in my pajamas. Unshowered. Hair up.

Toys overwhelm my living room.....dining room.....family room.....bedrooms!

Organization. Get a plan. Buy new storage bins. Normalcy will come soon enough.....right?


Christmas Prayer

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." Luke 2:14

We pray the peace of Jesus captivates your family's home and hearts. Blessings!


Merry Fishmas????

Enjoy the busy holiday weekend!!!


Christmas Carol Favorites

Beck hollered, "Tag, you're it!" She asked me to share my top 5 Christmas songs and then the top 5 I loathe to hear.....

Among the best:

  • "O, Holy Night"
  • "Silent Night"
  • "Carol of the Bells"
  • "12 Days of Christmas" JOHN DEVER with The Muppets VERSION!!
  • Is it fair to say anything from Mannheim Steamroller, Harry Connick, Josh Groban or Nate King Cole???

Now those that cause me to turn the radio station:

  • "I Wanna A Hippopotamus for Christmas" (obnoxious -- pull that bratty girl off stage!!!)
  • "O, Christmas Tree" (Who wants to sing praises to a tree anyway???)
  • "Santa, Baby" (Madonna's version sounds like nails on a chalkboard)
  • "Dominick the Donkey" (Who likes to hear donkey yelps anyway???)
  • "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" (What is this song is really about? You guess it...ADULTARY!! No thanks. Worse than that...the kid sees it. GROSS!)


Wordless Wednesday (Kinda): Holiday Program

Monday Matthew's kindergarten class had their Christmas program.

Matthew surprised us with a couple gifts he made in class.

Click here for a Santa's Lap laugh and leave a comment to participate too.


What a journey!!!

I can’t remember a time when my brother, Jeff, was not in school. From high school to college to his masters degree, he was always studying, researching, testing and writing. Finally Saturday he received his doctorate in psychology. It has been a long journey which deserves much celebration and recognition. What an accomplishment!!

Friday we traveled to Terre Haute, IN for the weekend’s ceremony and festivities. We celebrated with pizza and a dessert spread. Jeff gave us a tour of his new office -- quite a pad!! Better yet, despite the lack of scheduling my boys are used to they did so well. A babysitter was hired to help watch the kids during all the events. I know -- AWESOME!!! Mark went with the flow and Matthew found a playmate in Jacob (Jeff’s best friend’s son). We absorbed every bit of family time. Matthew is always thrilled with hotel stays and Mark had a great first time experience with it.

Traveling. You long for that hotel stay. Indoor pool/hot tub. Restaurants. Continental breakfasts. Maid service. No bedtimes. Did I mention the hot tub?

In a couple days we anticipated home again. Sleeping in our own beds. Home-cooked meals. The smell of freshly laundered clothes. Early bedtimes. Schedules. Home sweet home.

P.S. Doesn't this photo of my boys in the pool scream "SUMMER!" Please, don't make me cry!!!!

Now I need to focus on hosting Christmas Eve dinner for my side of the family.......

e e e e e e e e e e e e
Have you shared your Santa's Lap Photo???? Join in and laugh with us!


Santa's Lap Photo Tag

Dig deep. Deep into your photo archives. Somewhere you will find a photo of you or your children sitting on Santa's lap. Post and share about them!!!

This was taken shortly after Matthew turned one (December 2001). He was nervous about sitting on Santa's lap so I jumped in. Looks like he was too busy wondering why mom was putting him through all this than smiling. Every year I ask Matthew if he wants to visit Santa and he responds by saying, "I only want to look at him. That's it!" Now you know why we only have this one in our photo history.


Making Christmas Fun

Here are some cheap, easy ways to enjoy the holiday season:

  • Contact your local parks department or library. They have many events for kids at little or no cost.
  • After dinner take the family for a drive around nearby neighborhoods to view decorated houses. Read what Stephanie did -- in your PJs is the best!! Make sure to play that Christmas music.
  • Bake cookies! Is their anything better? Let your children lick the bowl to their hearts content.
  • After baking cookies allow your children to use their art skills and decorate them. Remember: neatness is not necessary!!!
  • Turn off the TV and spend time as a family sitting around the Christmas tree. Talk about the true meaning of Christmas: JESUS!
  • Take advantage of church events: live nativities, candlelight services, plays
  • Teach your children Christmas carols. Sing them during bathtime or in the car.
  • Watch those Christmas specials and make a family movie night out of it.

Have another idea? Please share!!!

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NOTE: We will be out of town this weekend for my brother's doctoral ceremony. I am busy packing -- haven't packed for a young toddler in a long time! Please pray for safe travels and a relaxing time. I started an upper chest cold yesterday and my boys are getting over the same. Timing stinks, but we'll make it through.


Wordless Wednesday: Got milk???

Coming soon: SANTA'S LAP PHOTO TAG Visit again to join the fun.


Tables are Turning.........

As most of you know Matthew is on a strict gluten free diet because he has celiac disease. During trips to the grocery he loves to eyeball all the decorated cakes and told me one day, “Mom, I wish I could eat those cakes. Too bad they have gluten.”

My heart dropped. I felt horrible for him. It must be hard to be a kid with a diet restriction. I used to think it was hard on mommy, but as Matthew grows up he is realizing there is a difference between what he is allowed to eat and what his friends can eat. Looks like the tables are turning and it is Matthew that has to deal with being gluten free day in and day out. Feeling like he is missing out. Thankfully I have taught him responsibility in keeping to his diet and I make sure he knows nothing can hold him back from having a fun, active childhood.

My mom offered to make a fully decorated gluten free Spongebob cake like Matthew would find in any grocery store for his birthday -- I lack talent in frosting a cake!! When they arrived Friday we were in awe at how it turned out. What do you think?


Jumpin' Around

"No man is a failure who has friends." It's a Wonderful Life

Taken at Matthew's birthday party on Sunday


My Firstborn

On December 8, 2000 I thought I was coming down with an intestinal flu around 4am. Little did I know they were contractions. I was about to give birth to my first son, Matthew.

That week I experienced a lot of "first times":

  • First time in labor/delivery. “Oh the humanity!!!”
  • First time witnessing the first breaths of God’s creation
  • First time changing a diaper. Yes, first time!
  • First time being sleep deprived
  • First time knowing Agape love
  • First time realizing how much I appreciated my own mother
  • First time loving someone above myself
  • First time dealing with spit up on an hourly basis
  • First time........did I mention being sleep deprived?
The list goes on and on.

But my first thought when Matthew was put into my arms was, “Oh, God, what did I get myself in to?” I was scared, anxious, joyful, and overwhelmed all at once.

Today Matthew is six. God threw me into the pool of motherhood and I am forever grateful. Matthew is such a character with his dramatic ways. He is smart and grasps concepts quickly. He is sensitive and compassionate. He loves sports and anticipates the school bus every morning.

God knew Matthew before he was created and I am thankful He gave us this boy to raise and train. What a responsibility!

Happy Birthday, Matty!!!!!


ABC Meme

My dear friend,Happi, tagged me with this meme. Enjoy!

A - Available or Single? Available to my hubby, Steve!
B - Best Friend? Steve, who knows my ins and outs
C - Cake or Pie? Both with a tall glass of milk
D - Drink of Choice? Lattes Lattes Lattes
E - Essential Item you use every day? SOAP!
F - Favorite Color(s)? Blue and pink
G - Gummy Bears or Worms? Yuck...do I have to pick one?
H - Hometown? Born in Pittsburg, PA but grew up in Valparaiso, IN
I - Indulgence? Watching TV with the remote control in MY hand
J - January or February? February – where my birthday is
K - Kids and Names? Matthew and Mark
L - Life is Incomplete Without? The Holy Trinity
M - Marriage Date? August 5, 1995
N - Number of Siblings? Two brothers

O - Oranges or Apples? Apples
P - Phobias or Fears? The first year with a baby. I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time!
Q - Fave Quote? Anything from the Bible will do just fine.
R - Reason to Smile? My family
S - Season? Summer!!!!
T - Tag Three people: Ashlee, Wendy, and Jen
U - Unknown fact about me? Even if I have to pee real bad, I will hold it until it hurts than use an outhouse
V - Vegetable you don't like? Okra.....haven’t tried it, but it sure looks gross!
W - Worst Habit? Nibbling the side of my cheek when in deep thought (I am doing it now!)
X - Xtremely BIG Husker Fan? I’m sorry, did you say CHICAGO BEAR fan? If you did, then yes I am!!!
Y - Your fave food? EVERYTHING....Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese.....
Z - Zodiac Sign? Aquarius, but I don’t put my stock in that!!!



The Kindness of Strangers

We warn our children: “Don’t talk to strangers.” We drill this over and over again. Like strangers are against us and we need constant protection. We build a wall. We need to think of ourselves first and stay on guard.

I was taught a different lesson the other day.

It was a cold, windy day. I had to run to Wal-Mart – what else is new???? I found a Christmas gift for Steve and it was a great price. I stuck it on the bottom of the cart and went on my way. Paid and headed out to the van.

Mark was crying because he hates cold wind on his face. The cart was ready to fly out of my hands as I was fumbling through my keys trying to hit the “unlock” button. Mark is still cursing the wind chills. I grab him and literally throw him into the carseat strapping him quickly. Now he’s upset because he’s probably uncomfortable with his winter coat all mangled up. (I hate winter by the way!!)

Ok, back to the cart. It is ready to blow away! Heaven forbid it hits our van or another car for that matter. I start putting....no....throwing my items in the back. I run the cart to the holder and high-tail it outta there.

Time to get Matt from school. Got Matt. Gotta run to Costco to get our Christmas card photos and more.

Finally home. Unload everything. Get lunch ready. Wait something is missing.....


Yes, I left it under the cart. I frantically call Wal-Mart and the customer service lady, who wasn't very sympathic, said nothing was brought in, but to call back later. I packed the boys up again and we drove out to the parking lot hoping the item was still under the cart where I had left it.

Nothing. I start to cry. Obviously this wasn’t just a $10 item!!! Matt consoles me, “It’ll be ok, Mom. We all make mistakes.” I ask for Matt to pray. We do. I feel hopeless. Stupid. You know that feeling?

Later that afternoon I call Wal-Mart. I anticipate another person telling me nothing was found. I assume someone took it because no one would care. Or would they?

“Oh....yeah....this man left his phone number and took it home. He said he wanted to make sure it got in the right hands and to call him. His name is Darrel. Here is the number...”

I laugh. Smile. Exhale! Can you believe a man I don’t even know did this? Anyone could have taken it. But this man made sure it would be alright. He cared for another stranger’s well-being. He didn't know me. He could have left it alone and went along his business.

I called Darrel. He said, “Sure. I’ll drop it off at customer service. I just didn’t want anyone to have it. No problem.” We have a laugh and I express my gratitude.

Wal-Mart called in about an hour. It’s there. In one piece. I will pick it up today.

What was almost a horrible lesson (I will always double check my cart) turned out to be a blessing and another lesson learned: Do not be so pessimistic. Go that extra mile when I see a need even if I do not know the person. Help others as I expect to be helped. I am always learning another way to be more Christ-like.

Thank you, Darrel! I owe you one!


Keeping Traditions

I remember my mom passing out homemade popcorn in old butter tubs as we watched the Christmas specials on TV. Freshly bathed, I would be in my pajamas with a pillow ready to watch.

Feelings of triumph as the Grinch’s heart grew bigger and bigger....

The tears rolled down my face when Frosty melted away, then joy struck when his black silk hat brought him to life.

Charlie Brown was always dealt a lousy hand!!!

And Rudolph leading the reindeer pack with pride. Santa made him feel so special.

I have kept my mom’s tradition alive by making popcorn for my boys as we watch these. The aroma of popcorn mixed with Christmas d├ęcor brings back good memories. Thanks, mom!!!


Yuletide Pride

All you Christmas caroling, yuletide loving, holiday starving people out there: We wanna see your holiday decorating talents!! (or lack there of) Wheather it’s a garland draped staircase, a stocking hung mantle, outside lighting or an ornamented tree, please post a photo and share about it. Every area has a story!!

I have decorated our tree the same since Steve and I celebrated our first Christmas married -- over 11 years ago. The bow that tops our tree was made by yours truely. From afar it looks beautiful, but believe me, it is VERY messy looking. I have never been a crafty person and worked hard at making a personalized bow that year. Call me a sucker for keepsakes! The ornaments have grown in volume thanks to craft projects and gift exchanges. The quilt skirt was a hand-me-down from my mom and will use it as long as it stays together.

Our mantle has also remained the same since moving into our home almost 7 years ago. My boys have a thing about sticking their finger in the nutcracker's mouth and lifting the lever -- OUCH! This year I splurged on some monogrammed needlepoint stockings. Aren't they cute??? Thanks Lands End!! I especially like the angel proudly entitled "Mom" among all the masculine ones. Some days I deserve to be the angel around here!! NOTE: We have been trying so hard to schedule an appointment to get a recent family portrait of the four of us. After three attempts and cancellations due to illnesses or injury to the face, I am about to give up. ONE DAY!!!

I will get the ball rolling and tag my dear friends: Happi from Berger Buzz, Stephanie from Adventures in Babywearing, Sheryl from Peanut Butter & Jelly Boats, Beck from Frog and Toad are Friends and anyone else you wants to join the fun. Merry Christmas!!!