10.31.2007

Wordless Wednesday: 3rd Annual Pumpkin Painting







Stay tune Thursday for my boys in costumes. And scroll down for some scary faces too. Have a great day!

10.30.2007

No Masks Required

So Halloween is tomorrow. Our family isn't too keen on this grave-loving holiday. Steve detests it really. Houses decorated with zombies, skeletons, ghosts and coffins is just too morbid if you really think about it enough. All the horror movie promos give me the chills and I just don't like that. So here is our way of saying Happy Halloween without spooky masks or Dracula fangs. Just our goofy faces!

10.29.2007

A Yoda Mark Will Be

Today at our library's storytime they had a Halloween celebration. All the kids came in costume and as you can see this year Mark is Yoda. (Hum....I wonder what Matt will be? Any guesses?)



He had so much fun. They read stories, sang songs and marched around the library waving "hello" to all the visitors. Afterwards they made a craft and on the way out were given a treat. Mark decided to shove the whole chocolate coin he received in his mouth -- typical Mark! I think it took 10 minutes to finally melt down and chew. To finish our special day I asked Mark where he wanted to go for lunch. "B sicks," he hollered. (Breadsticks) Soooooo.......


We headed for Target to eat at the food court where they serve one of Mark's favorite eats: Pizza Hut's breadsticks! And after lunch we used the extra time to shop for last minute items I need to prepare for Matt's class party this Wednesday. It's my first attempt being a room mom this year and I can't wait!

10.26.2007

What Fall Slump?

Ok. Anyone that read about my autumn funk needs to scratch it from your memory. What was I thinking? Why was I such a basketcase about decorations and fall festivities? Why was I assuming my kids were being deprived of orchard fun? I splashed some cool water on my face and got over it. It's a new day!

Matt started fall break Thursday, so we traveled out to visit Papa T (Steve's dad). For those that don't know, he lives on 30+ acres of open farmed land and the crop was just harvested, which means "let's use the area as best we can." We had a blast! We took turns riding on Papa T's ATV, played frisbee, talked, ate and absorbed every moment being a family. Who says you have to go to special events and organized festivities to enjoy this colorful season? I guess I did at first, but these photos changed my mind. And Steve wanted to leave you all with a little something at the end, which shows his love for speed.




video

10.25.2007

They are just figuring this out?

Science made a statement that moms have known for centuries!

10.24.2007

10.22.2007

"I am not an autumn Scrooge. Really, I'm not!"

Monday morning Mark and I were on our way to the library's toddler storytime. As I drove down our subdivision's road I was gazing at all the autumn decor. Beautiful wreaths of colorful leaves hung on front doors. Pumpkins graced steps. Jack-O-Lanterns perfectly situated and ready for a candle. Cute scarecrows sat on benches. Then it hit me: we've done nothing to celebrate the fall season! I felt guilty and in a weird way, left out.

It wasn't my intention. Steve has been busy at work dealing with unexpected "pop ups". And try planning for something during the school week. Not happening. A couple weeks ago Mark and I were supposed to meet my MOPS group at the apple orchard. It was just under 50 and raining. No apple donuts or fresh picked apples or better yet, apple cider. We stayed home.

I started feeling sorry for myself. I thought and thought about my pumpkin-less house. I stewed about when I could possibly make time for my boys to enjoy the local fall festivities before November comes and it's 30 degrees. It was tormenting me. Year after year our family makes it a priority to do seasonal stuff, but this Fall was just....I don't know....different. Life is known for curve balls, isn't it?

After I put Mark down for his nap, I had to call my friend. She knows all about funks. I just needed to talk. And after we spoke, I felt better. (Thanks, sweetie!) I mean as long as my kids are clothed, eating well and have a place to sleep I am doing a good job, right? (Someone back me up here!)

Later this afternoon Steve called to let me know he was coming home from work. I shared my feelings with him. He said, "I'm sorry, babe. Well, I have to stop by Home Depot and get some winter fertilizer. I'll see ya soon."

"Ok." I hung up with the assumption he could care a less about my emotions. You know, guys never understand these things. Until......

He surprised me with 3 hay squares and 4 pumpkins. What a man! I just love him! So here is the final result and now I can rest. And if you're interested to view last year's set up: click here

Taped on the top window is Mark's craft he made at the library. I guess my kids aren't missing out after all!

New Rule

If you whine or answer back with a whine, your answer is an automatic "no".

(Advice the moms got at MOPS Friday and it's working wonders here!!)

10.21.2007

5 Weird Facts Part II

I was tagged before and now I am tagged again. I will conjure up five more weird facts that make me special and unique:

1. I have a strange fear of the Statue of Liberty. Don't get me wrong, I love the US of A, but maybe the end of Planet of the Apes caused this. And do not get me started on two other films which show Lady Liberty in despair: Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. Actually, I think all statues are creepy!

2. When I was a little girl I enjoyed watching surgeries on Nova. Anything about the human body fascinated me. To this day I can watch Plastic Surgery Before & After while eating. I gotta strong stomach.

3. Tunes by Johnny Cash rock!

4. I sleep with one ear buried in my pillow and an ear plug in the other. My hubby doesn't snore, I am just a very picky sleeper.

5. Our bedroom alarm clock is purposely set 20 minutes fast. Don't ask why. It's been that way since Steve and I got married over 12 years ago. "On time" for us means "5 minutes early".

10.19.2007

Prayer Warriors

In 2000 my mom decided to start up a bible study. I was pregnant with Matt and already I knew this group of ladies would play an important part in my life as a wife and mother. After Matt was born I was fortunate to have free babysitting services from my dad and I enjoyed attending for many years. The community of prayer. Supporting one another. And most of all, my relationship with the Lord grew stronger and my heart was challenged often. We all learned how to reflect Christ more in our daily living.

But in February 2006 my mom had quit. Circumstances changed our family's course of action and priorities shifted. The bible study soon ceased.

Thursday we had a reunion luncheon. What is a ladies' gathering without food, right? It was as if we were still meeting weekly all over again. And one thing we realized: we've witnessed God's work in many valleys. The praise reports are too numerous to mention and God is still working miracles in the midst of trials today. And through it all we give the glory back to the One who saw us through. We all deserve a group of individuals like this.

Some of these ladies lurk here every now and then, so if one of you are reading this I want you to know I thank God for your prayers, faith, endurance, encouragement and strength. Many blessings back!

And on the subject of women's groups, today was MOPS and during our craft time we made an Autumn centerpiece for our table. For those that know me well would expect me to come up with another way to use this seasonal decoration.....

10.17.2007

Wordless Wednesday: Stuck

10.15.2007

A Sneak Peek

video

Today we received our new digital camera: Canon PowerShot Elph Our old camera was a high-tech, bulky Canon PowerShot and I prefer something I can fit in my pocket. I already carry too much as is!

For my Blogger video debut I decided to reveal a glimpse of the boys having their bedtime snack. It shows how truly different they are. One is quiet and calm, while the other is a true performer -- and sometimes a little too loud as you see here. (Please ignore Steve in the background. He was taking a call from work.)

And if you haven't done so, please share how you make healthy food choices for your family. So far everyone is leaving wonderful feedback and ideas. Go back now and browse through all the comments. Thanks, everyone, you rock!

10.14.2007

Small Changes - please share!

I do not consider myself a "health nut" by any means. I admit indulging in a Ding Dong every now and then. Cold cereal with milk is a great snack and it's not Kashi by the way, but Frosted Flakes or Golden Grahams. The hidden Rubbermaid container of candy collected from many birthday parties and school events throughout the year calls my name from time to time. And all you coffee lovers out there, unless you ask for "skinny no sugar", let's face it, your latte is packed with fat and calories. And who orders it like that anyway? Certainly not me! But there are small changes I do make to provide healthy meals/snacks for my family. Here are some of them:
  • WHOLE GRAIN PRODUCTS: White bread is like play dough and the same goes for instant white rice. There is no nutritional value in it even though it states "enriched". Processed, white flour turns straight to sugar in our bodies. And, yes, even on a gluten free diet, I make sure Matt's wheat free bread, muffins and pancakes are made with whole grain brown rice. For tips on buying whole grain products click here.

  • MILLED FLAX SEED: It has no flavor or strong texture, yet this heart healthy seed is packed with Omega 3. Add it to everything from breads, cookie dough, oatmeal, brownies, breadings.....you name it. Seriously, your children won't know the difference.

  • VEGGIE/FRUIT DIP: Pull out some raw cauliflower, broccoli, carrots or colorful peppers and let your kids double dip to their hearts content! Anything to make them eat their veggies, right? Slice up an apple with some caramel dip on the side or better yet, try peanut butter (my boy's favorite). Makes these foods fun, not dreaded!

  • JUICE BOXES: What kid doesn't like these? I stock our fridge with Horizon's Chocolate Milk Boxes and CapriSun's Roaring Waters. One provides calcium while the other is more than half less sugar compared to the usual drink pouch. Anything is better than soda!

  • BE BALANCED: Is having that occasional treat ok? Sure. In moderation. Studies prove if we dictate every little thing our children eat, they will rebel and desire the forbidden food more and more. Don't live in health food bondage! Teach your children good choices and indulge when appropriate. And here's a simple solution: if you don't want your kids eating it, then don't bring it into your house!

What small changes do you make to provide your family with healthy eats? Please share. I can't wait to read and learn from you!

10.12.2007

Winter Is Coming

It's official. I flipped the switch and turned the heat on this morning. (The thermostat read 63 -- can someone pass me a tissue?)

And click here to learn how to utilize your ceiling fans during the winter months. Trust me, we have a high ceiling in our family room and it works.

10.11.2007

Interpretation

"Where's Mark in our family, Matt?"

Matt replies, "Oh, I forgot about him. He's off the page playing with my stuff." (And maybe I need to change my profile's photo. Don'tcha love that stylish red dress on me? And how about Steve's Zac Efron-ish hairdo?)

"Your favorite sport is basketball?" Matt confirms like we should know this, "YEEAAAH!"

"And what is your favorite sport?" (We couldn't make heads or tails by looking at his drawing.) Matt replies, "Motorcycle racing!"

When did he start showing an interest in that?

10.10.2007

10.09.2007

Meet Kevin

On what was probably our last warm night of the year (boo hoo), Matt and Mark found a bunny hopping in our backyard. Matt asked if we could keep it for a pet and then I explained how wild animals often carry germs and rabies. In other words, "Don't touch!" So we decided to give the bunny a name. Matt said he wanted the bunny to be a boy and declared him Kevin. (Where he came up with Kevin I will never know.)


Mark chased him into a bush and here he stands with a bat which he then used to smack the bush repeatedly in order to scare the poor rabbit out. Needless to say, Kevin stayed safe in that bush!

Nicole
: Matt is wearing his baseball glove. It's not a boulder! (hee hee)

10.07.2007

Free At Last

Last school year I had to pick Matt up from kindergarten every day at 10:40am. Talk about a huge interruption to my morning not to mention my days were already scheduled around Mark's afternoon nap. I had to time everything just right in order to pick Matt up and then be back in time for Mark's nap. And taking Matt on an occasional after school errand was always interesting. He considered it pure torture!

Now that he is in school full day I have much more freedom in the morning. I can run to Costco, Walmart and grab lunch without having to worry about that inconvenient mid-morning pick up. This new found freedom also lead me to sign up for some of our church's activities designed for women -- especially MOPS!

I attended my first meeting Friday and completely fell in love with it. Mark goes to his program and I have 2 1/2 glorious, uninterrupted hours with my group of ladies to share, chat and learn from our experiences. Is there anything better than connecting with other moms on this level? I think not!

10.05.2007

Know Your Numbers?

Today I received my blood test results. Nothing major, just the usual physical screening where they check cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.

Before I reveal the results let me go back a few weeks ago. I was watching the always enlightening Dr. Oz on Oprah and he kicked my butt hard. (Do you like him as much as I do? I love his prevention approach and his knowledge about healthy living -- being responsible for our bodies and proactive about our well being.)

So, back to my family room's couch. At that moment it dawned on me that I haven't seen our dentist in almost 2 years. This coming from the woman who worked in the dental profession. I never missed a 6-month dental recall before, so that got the ball rolling. Looks like the last time I visited our family doctor for a physical was sometime before Matthew was born -- 8+ years ago, I think! I was looooong overdue. Let me also add that I am always consistent with my boys' dental check ups and wellness appointments, but you know how a mom's needs get pushed aside while taking care of her family's. I just wasn't thinking of me. Life just got busy.

I made some calls: one to the dentist, one to our family's doctor and another to my GYN. Enough is enough. I had to grasp my health by the horns and take control.

So, back to my test results. Everything is excellent. Cholesterol. Excellent. Blood sugar levels. Terrific. I felt relieved to know I was ok. And let me add no cavities either!

So why am I posting this? To brag about my wonderful health? No. But, I am posting this to remind all you busy moms to take the time and be proactive about your health. Know what's going on with your body. Be in control of your needs. Happy homes function better with a happy, healthy mommy!

And speaking of knowing your numbers, this Saturday our family along with my parents are heading to University of Chicago Hospitals for their annual free celiac blood screening. Since celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disease, it is important all families members with a celiac individual get tested every other year -- even without symptoms celiac disease can go undiagnosed. So we'll all be stuck with a needle except for Matt who will enjoy all the yummy gluten free booths provided by companies such as Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Pamelas Products and soooo much more. And may I also add, U of C's food court makes a mean cup of coffee! Enjoy your weekend.....

10.04.2007

Boys v. Girls

"So what did you do during recess today, Matt"

Matt answers under his breath, "Oh, you know. Boys chase girls." (Its apparent he's not too thrilled to admit this to his parents.)

I pick for more information and ask, "How do you play that?" I start reminiscing about being boy crazy myself when I was in grade school.

"Well, we start running away from all the girls," Matt explains, "and then they try to get us. We are always faster than them."

I respond, "Sounds interesting." Then I hear an evil laugh.....

"And if we get one we suck their brains out."

Now I don't remember that.

10.02.2007

Remembering the Purpose

When I started this blog my life was faced with many challenges: At 7-months old Mark was on his 3+ ear infection and we also found out a simple cold virus easily throws him into a croup/asthma attack. Matt was bringing home every stomach flu known to man. Either he was licking his preschool's bathroom floor or that awful bug kept finding a way to creep back into our home. Then we were faced with my dad's esophageal cancer battle. It seemed everything was piling on top of each other.

In a few more months we then found out Steve needed his gall bladder out, my dad was recovering from his major esophagectomy surgery and Mark was in need of ear tubes. I felt on my own. Alone. I was caught between meeting my family's needs, my dad's needs and then my own needs. I was torn.

Remembering back when I was pregnant with Mark I had this idea having a second child would be a laid-back experience since I've "been there done that" with Matt. Everyone tells you that. However, life's circumstances threw me a curve ball and I found myself suffering from bouts of PPD and constant anxiety. I was so ashamed to admit these feelings to anyone. I felt that maybe I wasn't measuring up to most normal moms. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mother and my boys are the most important treasures in my life, but all these attacks came against me and I was ready to give up. I needed support and for someone to tell me everything was going to be ok.

I knew I had to confide in close, trustworthy friends and most of all, Jesus had to heal my heart and mind. Thanks to people like Kristi, Stephanie and most of all, my mom, I was able admit my true heart, which was full of guilt and pain, and finally allow my spirit to be restored. Funny how in the midst of my roller coaster ride God taught me how I should value others and be there when they are in need. Isn't that just like our Father to do that? I wanted to make sure I was available when another person is faced with a crossroad. A battle. Or just a plain old cruddy day. No one really knows what happens behind close doors, so I decided to make myself available to others and bring a sense of hope.

At the end of this experience I found out most moms don't have it all together. Just when you think a mom is gliding through life with a smile on her face, you realize she has the same feelings you do. Those emotions of fear and worry. She is trying get through the day without breaking apart just like you. Why did I pass judgement on these women and think they were so much better than me? I couldn't answer that then, but now I think part of it was feeling sorry for myself and the other was just being too weary to even think positively anymore.

So when I entitled this blog Glass Half Full, I wanted moms to realize that life has its ups and downs. We all go through valleys and trials. We all have moments of joy and contentment. We need to be honest with each other. Support one another by being real and not hiding our emotions when life decides to shake us up a bit. And most of all to know that through it all, God is there every step of the way to lead and guide us. All we have to do is take His hand.

(To this day my dad is still cancer free!!!)