Saturday, February 28, 2009

A fun little find at the local grocery store

OK.........I know I am kind of a nerd to get really excited about gelatin molds, but I wanted to share these cool little mini Jell-O molds I found at my local grocery store last night. I wasn't shopping for Jell-O molds, but they caught my eye. I am not a mom who makes Jell-O......ever. I honestly just don't even think about it. My mom made Jell-O for us quite often when I was growing up. She usually added fruit to it. I have memories of red Jell-O with mushy brown bananas floating on top of it. I liked it. As I said, I just never make it at home. But that is going to CHANGE because I fell in love with these little mini molds and have them jellin' in my frig right now. I realized that one thing I love about these is that I can make individual servings, kind of like the pre-made Jell-O cups you can buy, but they are a really GREEN plastic cups to toss or recycle. I think one reason I never make Jell-O is because when you make a whole bowl or pan of it, it seems to never get eaten. It gets thick and chewy on top and you have to just scoop out a plop onto your plate. But with my new molds, everyone gets their own perfect little Jell-O mold. How cool is that?? I might just become a supreme Jell-O never know. I certainly didn't realize until now that I had so much to say about Jell-O. Anyway........for those of you local readers, I found these at Thriftway, not No Frills.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fixing the part that ain't broken

In my previous post, written just a few minutes ago, I wrote about attending the Ash Wednesday service at my church tonight. I wanted to write one more post about some additional thoughts I had during the service. Near the end of the service the pastor invited everyone forward for the imposition of ashes. Using the ashes of the palm branches from last year's Palm Sunday festivities, he drew a cross on each person's forehead. As I sat waiting for our turn to go forward, I was silently watching the people in line. And it struck me, truly for the first time, that although the human bodies of each person varied greatly (some lumpy, some wrinkly, some old, some young) the truest part of each person, their inner spirit, was completely beautiful in God's eyes. It was kind of astounding. I mean, I've known that on some level for a long time. It's a concept that most Christians have encountered at some point in their faith journey. However, tonight my eyes were really opened to that idea.

Later when I was giving my littlest boy a bath back at home, I started thinking about it again. And I thought about all the time, money, and worry we spend trying to fix up or fancy up our temporary selves. We are mortal, people!! Washboard abs or love handles, B cups or fake D cups, wrinkles or Botox, fake tan or purely pale, designer label or Walmart discount rack.........we can't take it with us. Why are we wasting our time trying to fix the part that isn't broken? Our truly broken parts are, of course, our spiritual selves. And when we spend so much time and energy worrying about fixing up our outer shells, we are throwing away the time that we could be spending getting closer to God and to other people.

When you think about it, what we're doing really makes no sense in the long run. Here's a good analogy I came up with in case I ever explain this to young children. Imagine your car is not running right. Maybe it won't even start at all. First, you go out and spend a bunch of money replacing all the tires on the car because they weren't brand new tires, so you think maybe having new ones would help. When that doesn't work, you decide to have the entire body repainted at a tremendous financial cost. After all, the paint job isn't new. In fact, there are a few scratches in the paint as well as a dent here or there. Amazingly, these changes, while improving the appearance of the car, do not fix the problem. decide to delve deeper. This time you splurge for a complete overhaul of the upholstery inside your car. There are a few stains here and there, a small rip in the replacement should do the trick, right? While you're at it, you decide that the old upholstery color was all wrong and go with a new more updated know, the shade that EVERY car is wearing these days. But alas, the car sits in its beautiful, non-functional glory...........mocking your naivete by refusing to budge. Finally, you bite the bullet and decide to consult a mechanic. It turns out a new battery is needed to get the car up and running again. You swallow your pride, pay the bill, and go on your merry way. Outwardly, your car looks just as beautiful as it did before the battery was fixed. In fact, no one would even know you had the battery replaced at all except for one critical detail: THE CAR RUNS NOW. So............that invisible inner change made all the difference in the world.

Now think about our bodies as the car in this example. Don't we totally spend our time changing the tires, getting new paint jobs and replacing the old upholstery but virtually NO time charging our batteries? It makes me sad that our culture is so focused on the glitz and the glam at the expense of valuing what truly matters. I read one time that while our culture is materially rich, we are spiritually poor. This was written in an article describing mission work in an impoverished country. What the American mission group found when spending time with people living in extreme poverty was quite opposite from what you might imagine. Instead of feeling that their lives were lacking, the people were actually quite happy. They had close, loving relationships within their families and with their neighbors. They did not have the distraction of material things. Therefore, they were able to focus on each other. Their culture, polar opposite to US culture, was materially poor, but spiritually rich. Something to think about.................

Got a beetle up YOUR sleeve?

Tonight I took my oldest son to the Ash Wednesday service at our church. It has been nearly a decade since I attended an Ash Wednesday service. The last one I went to was before I had children. Since I am consciously doing something to observe Lent this year, I felt it was important to go tonight. And my oldest son was interested in learning more about Lent too so he went along.

During the service my son was cuddling against me and noticed a little asian beetle crawling on the seat in front of us. I helped him scoop it up so he could hold it in his hand and watch it crawl around. He watched it quietly for a while, then decided to let it crawl on my hand. Which it did. started crawling up my arm and under the sleeve of my denim jacket. It continued to make its way up my arm, crawling on my bare skin, and TICKLING me during the service. My son, of course, was greatly intrigued by this. To his credit, he was very quiet, but whispered to me frequently about "where the bug is" and kept looking at my neckline and up my sleeve to see if it had reappeared. The worst part was that it was the most tickly during the time that our pastor's wife was singing a particularly beautiful and poignant song called "Feel the Nails". I was trying SO hard not to make strange faces and, honestly, just to keep a straight face in general as she sang. I glanced over at my mom (who was sitting on the other side of my son) and she was shaking with silent laughter because she knew exactly what was going on. It took me a moment to compose myself as six little legs explored the uncharted territory of my delicate inner arm. However, I really wanted to be in the moment, listening to the music. The song did, in fact, bring tears to my eyes once I was able to focus. I am writing about the experience here tonight because my little distracting experience seemed destined to teach me something about faith. What I kept thinking was that the little beetle on my arm was representative of all the "little" things that distract us from our focus on God on a daily basis. I have many "beetles" (figurative, not literal) that cause me to be so distracted that I lose focus on the ONE who is most important. My little insect friend was a good reminder to me to be more focused on God, something that I am striving to make a habit of over the next 40 days. Do you have beetles up YOUR sleeve?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Reading my Google Reader posts I just came across the most fascinating experiment I have ever heard about in my entire life. I am completely excited to try this with my boys. And I'm extremely curious about what possible explanation my scientist husband might have for the results of said experiment as reported on The Little Travelers blog. I will say no more. You just HAVE to drop everything and click over there right now. If you plan to try the experiment at YOUR house, drop me a comment. I think it sounds very cool.

Here is a peek........... the cards I am sending out for my Lent project. I made these up last night using a diagonal double pocket card tutorial I found at Robin's Craft Room. These are SO easy to make and turned out very cute (in my opinion). I wanted a card that had little pockets so I could slip a bookmark into it. I am sending these out to about 40 women who have impacted my life in a positive way (40 women for 40 days of Lent). I wanted each person to have something to keep to remember that I appreciate them and thought the bookmarks were a practical idea. In the back diagonal pocket I will insert a hand-written letter from me. I used my punches to add a little matching detail to the envelopes. I think it's fun to get something in a decorative envelope. I haven't "played" with paper for a long time and I really enjoyed it. I only made 5 cards so far, but my plan is to finish the rest soon so my evenings during Lent can just be focused on writing the messages instead of making the cards.

I found the gorgeous papers for these cards at Hobby Lobby. I bought this paper pad and this one. For this particular type of card, you have to have paper that is printed on both sides. I used 12X12 inch paper and cut it down to 8X10 for the cards. I was able to use the excess paper for the bookmarks. I embellished them with some little silk flowers and buttons. (Flowers were also from Hobby Lobby in the scrapbooking section.) These cards are seriously so easy to make. The link I included in the above paragraph has a YouTube video tutorial embedded in it. After you watch it, you will easily be able to replicate the card. You can even experiment on recycled paper to try out the technique.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sharing the Love

Today when catching up on all the posts in my Google Reader, I stumbled across two really great projects that I hope to get involved in. I wanted to share them here in case you haven't heard of these great ideas.

The first one is a project from a group called The Toy Society. Basically, you make a handmade toy and leave it in a public place for someone to find. Doesn't that sound totally fun?

The other project is similar and is about spreading NICENESS around the world. It is called Operation NICE. The website has little cards you can download and print off. Then you go around in public places and randomly drop off the cards to unexpectedly brighten the day of someone else. I LOVE this idea. I think I am going to print some off right now and stash them in my purse. Wouldn't it be so fun to be a Secret Agent of Love, randomly and anonymously spreading goodness around the world?

Edited at 6:26 p.m.: I just printed off the Nice Notes, Nice Tips, and Nice Sign from the website. I am going to cut them apart and keep them in my purse. I am also adding this link to a list of suggestions for Niceness from the Operation NICE site.

Yeah, he's da' best!!

Here's another little DH story for you. I kind of like writing about him here, can you tell? OK........this weekend I stopped at the local video store and rented two movies: one for me to watch (I posted about this a few posts back) and one to watch with the DH. I didn't mention the "joint" movie idea to him right away. However, when I mentioned it to him, he told me he was really tired and wasn't sure he would be up to staying up after the boys were in bed to watch it. (At this point I hadn't told him what the movie was, so that had nothing to do with him wanting or not wanting to watch it.) While I appreciated him being honest, I was a little disappointed about it and since my face (like my mouth!!) is an open book, he knew I was disappointed. I tried to reassure him it was really okay, we could rent it another time, etc. And I really meant that. He has had a LOT going on at work lately and he is a terrible sleeper, so I really wanted him to at least TRY to get a good night's sleep.

Fast forward to Sunday evening. We had gotten both boys to bed pretty early and I was on the computer (no surprise there!). DH came out and asked me if I still wanted to watch the movie. How sweet is that? He was SO tired too. Our cats and our older son had disrupted his sleep the night before DURING the night and he'd been up since 4:45 a.m. with my oldest son. So it was really very sweet and generous of him to offer to watch it with me. The movie I had rented for us was Fireproof. I had seen it on a blog a few weeks ago, then our pastor mentioned it in church right after that. I really felt led to watch this movie with my husband. So we did. The acting was a little cheesy at times. The actors were good actors; I think they had some unnatural lines to deliver. However, the overall message about keeping your marriage "fireproof" was a good one. I am really glad we watched it. And I didn't even work on a quilt block while we were watching because I had to hold DH's hand during most of the movie. I know, I know.............aaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwww!! He is really a great guy, and I truly do appreciate him. ('ll be happy to know I resubscribed him to my blogs, so maybe he will read this post.) :0)

Quilt Block #6

I started Quilt Block #6 during my "all about me" night (see the following post) on Saturday and finished it up on Sunday. So........I am now halfway done with the blocks; 6 down and 6 to go. I am really enjoying doing this project by hand and giving myself the freedom to do it at my own pace with no looming deadline.

Saturday Night-------All about ME!

That title sounds a little egocentric, doesn't it? I just wanted to share with you how I spent my Saturday night after the boys were in bed. I rented and watched The Secret Life of Bees movie on DVD. I had read the book a few years ago and LOVED it. I enjoyed the movie too. Lots of great actors in it.

Prior to watching the movie, I had brewed myself a pot of my FAVORITE tea in the world.......Ginger Peach from The Republic of Tea. The little green teapot in the photo is also from The Republic of Tea. DH bought it for me for my birthday last year and I LOVE IT! I added a favorite mug given to me by some co-workers several years ago, a cloth napkin, and a biscotti given to me by one of my students for Christmas this year. (Thanks, Thad, Trisha, and Jade!! Love these!!)

If you look closely you can see the steam rising from my mug. I love hot tea!!

In my area you can buy this tea at Panera Bread stores. It is not available in supermarkets in my area, however. I love drinking this tea with a spoon of honey drizzled into it. In the past, I've always bought the black tea version; however, I recently picked up the green tea kind. I like both, but the black tea one is my favorite.

I really felt I was pampering myself all curled up on our downstairs sectional by myself watching a chick flick, sipping tea from my own little teapot and dunking my biscotti in it. I don't do that often enough, and I'll bet most of you reading this don't do it enough for yourself either. A main reason I posted this was to share my little "all about me" night and to encourage you all to plan one for yourself.......SOON! And post a comment so I can get some new ideas! What do YOU do to pamper yourself?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ix-Nay on the crackers; Thumbs Up! on the Carrot Spread

Last night I got ambitious and tried two recipes from Itty Bitty Bistro. I am so impressed with all the great homemade food this mommy makes for her family. The whole wheat crackers did NOT turn out for me. To be honest, I had misgivings from the start about my ability to make crackers. I don't have a food processor so I had to use my blender. I don't know if that made a difference or not. After I refrigerated the dough I had a hard time rolling it out any thinner. Anyway, I won't be making those again. However, the roasted carrot spread was AWESOME! I ate the whole batch. In my defense, neither of my boys liked it and I asked DH first to see if it was okay if I ate it all. I am definitely making it again and using 4 carrots this time. So totally yummy! I ate it with Kashi TLC crackers. I am salivating just thinking about it. Below is a photo of it. This is pretty much how much it makes if you only make one recipe. TIP: I did have to bake the carrots longer than 30 minutes. Next time I think I will cut them into chunks before wrapping them in foil and baking them. I totally felt like an Earth Mother making this, even though none of my Earth children ate it. My big boy wouldn't try it and the little one tried it and made a face. I enthusiastically asked him if it was the best thing he'd ever tasted in his life. He gave me a funny look and said, "No."

100 miles!

Yay! As of last night, I've walked/jogged 100 miles in 2009. I have stayed committed to my 2 miles a day and have worked out on our treadmill 48 out of 51 days as of last night. I am jogging most of it now and trying to increase my pace. Pretty soon I'll start to gradully increase my distance. The DH and I are going to look for a 5K that I can train for and run this spring. This is big for me because I've never done a race before EVER. I was the non-athletic kid all through school. DH has been a runner for about 30 years and has run numerous races. Anyway, I wanted to let you all know that I'm sticking with it and feel great! I am not seeing the numbers on the scale move too much, but I am so much less jiggly below the belt now if you know what I mean.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Impromptu Farm Activities

Today when I had my 3 year old all buckled into his car seat and was just getting ready to back out of the garage and drive us both to school, he THREW UP. This happened approximately 25 minutes before my students would be walking into my classroom. So.........I pulled him (gently) out of the car and took him inside, called my mom in a panic asking her to come to my house immediately, called my afternoon assistant and asked her if she could sub for me, and madly drove to school as soon as my mom arrived so I could be there until my sub could get there. Yes, a harried start to the day. I got back home around 9:30 a.m. So far, my little guy has been fine. Honestly, I think he just spit up phlegm (that word is spelled as ugly as the real thing isn't it?), but I have learned not to take chances where vomit is concerned. So..........we're home together all day now, which for me is a GREAT thing. I love to be home.

A while ago he wanted to cut up a note I'd written, so instead I printed out some farm cutting pages from DLTK-Teach and Wondertime. We printed the ones from Wondertime first. We added some green paper for a grassy field and cut out some corn for the pig. Then my son set it all up and wanted a farmer to go with it. After a little search (LOVING having my internet back) I found the farmer and tractor at DLTK. The Wondertime cutting pages are great because they have 2 sets of lines, an easier one for younger children and more challenging for older ones. Below you can see him cutting out a bale of hay.

Once he had everything set up, I decided to type up labels for the various things in our scene so we could do a little language activity. In the photo below you can see our labels laid out next to the farm.

Instead of reading any of the words to him, I asked him if he knew any of them. He was able to figure out several completely on his own by using the initial sounds and applying what he knows about letters and sounds. I helped him with the ones that started with the same letter such as "hay" and "horse." Below you can see his hand just after he laid out the "farmer" label next to the farmer picture.

Since I have a subscription to Reading A-Z, I decided to print out a farm animal book for him to "read". He was excited to see several of the animals and words from his farm scene. And the simple text gave him some good practice with one-to-one correspondence as he pointed to each word as he read it. (I read it to him all the way through first, pointing to each word as I read.)Below you can see the book and a page from inside that shows how simple it is. This website has a pricey subscription which would be well worth it if you are homeschooling children of several ages. There are hundreds of printable books which range in difficulty from Level AA (like the one I printed) all the way up to Level Z, which I THINK is 4th or 5th grade level. Each printable book has an accompanying lesson plan, comprehension quiz, worksheets, etc. It truly could be a complete reading program. The school I used to teach at has a subscription and the teachers there use the books daily.

I forgot to take a photo, but he also did a cut and paste worksheet to go along with this book. It was fun for both of us to pull together a last-minute, off-the-cuff learning experience. I felt like the homeschooling mama I wanna be. My oldest son keeps telling me that I can still homeschool him on weekends and over the summer, which is true.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some ideas for Lent

I wanted to write about some ideas I've been tossing around in my head about how to approach Lent this year. To be honest, although I was born and raised Christian, I have never really done anything special during Lent. I've tried, halfheartedly, to give something up a few times. In the past year or so I read somewhere of doing the opposite of giving something up and I liked that idea. Basically, the idea is that instead of NOT doing something, you try to DO something you don't normally do. So I've been ruminating on that for a while and last night I came up with what I want to do. I'm really excited about it!

Here's the background before I tell you my idea. I am TERRIBLE about staying in touch with people when I change jobs or move to a new place. I mean, truly TERRIBLE. I am also TERRIBLE about writing thank-you cards. It's embarrassing to admit, but I just really don't do it very often. I always THINK about doing it, but I don't. So............I was thinking about all the women who have been important to me at different times in my life and I decided to take time EACH DAY during Lent to write a card to one of those women, telling them what impact they've had on me. I just got done jotting down a list of names and am up to 36 so far. I am planning to make some special handmade cards that I will use and there will be a handmade bookmark in each card along with an individualized hand-written message from me. That way, the recipient will have something to keep to remind them of the impact they've had on me. I already have my card idea picked out and am hoping to make up a sample tonight. I'll post it soon.

My other ideas for myself for Lent are trying to spend at least 10 minutes a day in silent prayer/meditation and restricting myself from using the computer until after 9:00 p.m. at night. That will be hard. Although I do the majority of my blog writing and reading after the boys are in bed, I DO sneak over to the computer quite a bit to check email and see if anyone is leaving me comments on the blog. So..........I am going to try to scale back on that.

If you have any ideas for Lent either for yourself or your children, I'd love to hear about them. Many of you left me such thoughtful comments to my "Gentlewoman" post. I so appreciated reading and learning from them. My sincere thanks to you for taking the time to write.

Oh........I DO have an idea of something I want to do with the boys during Lent, but I will write more about that later. Right now my little boy has gotten up from his nap and wants to go play outside.

Some thoughts on parenting

I wanted to share with you all a few things I've stumbled upon just this afternoon. I am home with my youngest son; he is fighting off a bad cold. I have a substitute at school for the afternoon so I could be home with him and make sure he got a nice long nap in his own bed. Fortunately for him, that is what's happening right now. I think he's getting better. He had a good morning at Grandma & Grandpa's house. Anyway...........I stumbled across a few links while reading my Google reader posts.

Here is one on grace parenting. This really speaks to the type of parent I hope to be. I'm not there yet. I am trying to think of myself as a "work-in-progress" and to be okay with that.

And here is one about lavishing love on our children. I really love this one too. As soon as I finish typing this sentence I am grabbing a blue MARKS-A-LOT marker that is just inches from my computer mouse and I'm going to scrawl LAVISH across my palm. You'll see why if you read the link.

Parenting is such a journey, isn't it? And so fraught with potential pitfalls. It seems so stressful and overwhelming to think about the down-the-road outcomes of today's parenting mistakes, doesn't it? I am committed to picking myself back up each time I fall and pointing myself once again toward my North Star, God's perfect example.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quest for the Gentlewoman

When I wrote this post I fully realized that it would paint me in a less than wonderful light. However, I've always said that I believe in honesty on this blog, and I am serious when I say it's kind of cathartic for me to write about some of the "not-so-pretty" stuff along with the good stuff. I appreciate it (and get a secret surge of joy!) when other moms write about their struggles as wives and mothers because it makes me realize that many of us fail to live up to our expectations of ourselves. However, another thought keeps tugging at me even as I spill my honesty all over the blogosphere. And here it is..........even though I am silently reassured by others' admissions of failure, I still hold out hope that there are some true gentlewomen out there. You know the ones. They never raise their voices; they are unfailingly kind and gentle to everyone; they are thoughtful and faithful, etc., etc., etc. The reason I hope SHE exists is because it gives me a little hope that that gentlewoman might be within my grasp sometime within this human lifetime. Michelle Duggar appears to be a true gentlewoman. I don't often watch their show, but I distinctly remember one episode where her oldest son said that he has never heard his mother raise her voice. I was truly impressed (and chagrined) by that. Unfortunately neither of my sons will ever be able to truthfully utter that statement. And I realize that most people who know me in RL (real life) would not describe me as a gentlewoman. I think I may be getting a LITTLE gentler as the years go by; however, I have a LONG way to go (as evidenced by the unexpected and truly unwelcome appearance of my alter-ego: PB). Anyway, I am just wondering if any of the rest of you have a secret quest for the gentlewoman going on. If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Windfall at the bookstore

Today I went to Parables bookstore to find some books to help my oldest son with some questions he's been having about God and faith. I wanted to share with you the ones I purchased because I think they are really awesome. I am taking the time to provide Amazon links for each book. However, I want to let you know that I TRIED to post Parables links to the items to support purchasing from your local Christian bookstore. However, for some reason, the search button on the Parables website was not able to locate any of the titles. Weird, huh? I know all these titles are available there because I just bought them there. Anyway, the images below are courtesy of Amazon and I've linked to Amazon.

If I Could Ask God Anything by Kathryn Slattery is the main book I bought to help my 7 1/2 year old. This is such an awesome book. I really think it's a must have for all Christian parents of elementary aged children as well as any Sunday School teachers of that age group. It seriously has hundreds of questions that children might ask and has very concise but appropriate answers, all linked to Scripture. I love this book. My son immediately read the page titled, "If God is invisible, how can I know He is real?" And afterwards, he truly seemed to be comforted and to have a better understanding of this complex issue.

A Picture of God 3 in 1 by Joanne Marxhausen was one I bought because it really clearly and concretely explains the Trinity. The saleslady who was helping me said this book has been around for years (copyright 1973), but I had never seen it. My son also read this one right away in the van on the way home from school. He liked it a lot. (PS: If you want to borrow this for Sunday School, Monica, let me know!!)

The Story of the Resurrection Eggs: Benjamin's Box by Melody Carlson is something I picked up for Easter along with the set of Resurrection Eggs pictured below. I think the combination of the book and the eggs will be a nice Easter tradition to start this year.

For Easter gifts for the boys I also picked up a copy of Gotta Have God: Devotions for Boys for each of them. I got the 6-9 year old version for my 7 year old and the 2-5 year old version for my 3 year old. One thing I really liked about these devotion books was that you can start them at any time of year. Most of the other devotion books I looked at were set up on a January-December schedule. Knowing our family life and realizing honestly that we probably won't do a page a day, I liked the flexibility of this series. I also like that there are little activity pages with each devotion/story. In the younger version, there are pictures and your little one circles or colors pictures to indicate their thoughts and answers. In the older version, there is more writing required.

Some women have a thing for purses or shoes; my thing is books. I guess a good way to look at it is they never go out of style or end up not fitting! :0)

If not for HIS (and his) mercy

I think I've said here before that this blog is kind of cathartic for me. Cheaper than therapy at any rate. I am the type of person who easily and readily shares personal information with others. It's just the way I am. My husband is the complete polar opposite. I don't think either way is "right"; we're just different. Anyway, I wanted to write a little bit about something that happened last night. In a nutshell, the DH (dear husband)and I had a fight, and it was pretty much my fault.

Here is the scenario: it was about 9:15 p.m. and I had gone downstairs to walk on the treadmill to put in my daily 2 miles. (Sidenote: I was NOT very motivated or excited about starting a workout that late and I was hungry because I hadn't eaten much in anticipation of the workout.) The DH was also downstairs doing some ironing of his work clothes for the week. I won't give you the details of our argument, but in hindsight I can see the insanity of someone starting a fight with a man who is IRONING HIS OWN CLOTHES!!! I mean, c'mon people, I probably should have been kissing his feet or something. I'm just so used to him doing his own ironing that I wasn't fully appreciating that fact in the moment if you know what I mean. Anyway, I hopped up on the treadmill and started my workout and in the process proceeded to get steamed about something he said and there you go. I am not at all proud of it, and I've apologized to him three times already. I first apologized in person after my workout. Then I apologized through email today, and again in person tonight while our boys were having their swimming lesson. I am writing this post to tell you about the last apology, because his response to it was quite meaningful to me.

Picture the two of us sitting on the concrete pool deck leaning back against the wall. Our youngest son is on my lap. Our oldest son is having his lesson in the pool. And I say to the DH, "Hey, I'm sorry for all the PB stuff last night." (The funny sidestory to the "PB" thing is that one of our cats is nicknamed PB, short for Prince Bob, a story unto itself. My first verbal apology last night after I came upstairs was, "Sorry for all the PB stuff downstairs." He didn't understand what I meant, and I knew he wouldn't. Still.........I gave him a better apology and then today in the email apology I said something like, "Sorry for turning into PB (AKA PsychoB _ _ _ _) last night." I think you can fill in the blanks.) So anyway, his response to that was, "I don't even know why you bring stuff like that up again. Once it's over, it's over." And he truly means it. He just forgives that easily. And that's where the title of this post comes from. If not for God's mercy in giving me such a wonderful husband that I often feel I don't deserve AND the DH's mercy in forgiving me so quickly, this girl would be in a heap of trouble. So tonight, I am thankful for the blessing of a great mate and the mercy of a loving God.

PS: In case you are wondering, I'm going to forward a link to this post to the DH so he knows how I feel. He doesn't currently have a subscription to either of my blogs because I DELETED his email subscriptions a few weeks ago in another PB moment. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.......I feel so much better already. True blog catharsis.

Today's Little Joys

I had the day off today. It was not as productive as it could have been, but I was able to slow down enough from my normal somewhat frenzied pace to notice and experience a few things that brought me joy. And I thought I would share them with you.

Joy #1: Nuzzling my chin against the bristly cowlick on my three-year-old's newly cut hair while we cuddled on the couch watching "Charlie Brown's Christmas" DVD for the umpteenth time.

Joy #2: A huge snow "bear" that I observed in a yard when driving to pick up my oldest son from school. The coolest part was that as I drove past, the bear was actually in the process of being created by a man. And even cooler was the fact that the man was an older gentleman (by my best guess he had to be at least in his sixties) and there wasn't a child in sight. I thought that was so awesome!

Joy #3: My oldest son has acquired the confidence and skill to move onto the next level in his YMCA swim lessons. This is big for him and I'm so proud of him.

Joy #4: I spent about an hour of uninterrupted browsing and shopping in this Christian bookstore. I am going to write a separate post about my purchases. But please rest assured that it was VERY joyful to spend time in a bookstore by myself. YAY for me! (And thanks, Mom, for watching my little guy so I could have this outing!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Questions about faith

My oldest son has been struggling a lot these past few days with issues of faith. We have no idea why, but it's been stressful for us. We don't know if we are helping or making it worse. He is hung up on how he can know whether or not God is real, what happens when you die, etc. He has been losing sleep over it, literally. Tomorrow I am heading to the Christian bookstore to look for some books that are written for children that may help us with his worries and questions. If any of you know any good titles, please leave me a comment. I am heading there tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. Thanks so much!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My A-Maze-ing Valentines

Last night after the boys were asleep, I stitched up two little valentine mazes for their valentine cards from me and their Daddy. I got the idea from The Crafty was originally posted on Zakka Life. However, since I didn't have internet access, I didn't get to look at the directions and I just figured it out from my memory of how it looked in the photo. They turned out pretty good. I used Ziploc sandwich bags for the plastic and felt for the backing. I added a card I made on the computer that said, "You are A-MAZE-ing!! We love you so much!! Happy Valentine's Day!! Mommy & Daddy." Each boy got one.

My little boy got one of his candies through the maze and into his mouth. Otherwise, the candy is still in the mazes. Maybe it's too much work? Or maybe the allure of the Valentine chocolate is stronger than the appeal of conversation hearts. I know I would choose the chocolate over the conversation hearts any day. I did have fun munching on the broken ones while I was sewing last night, however. :0)

Yippee Skippy, I'm back!!

Geez.......does anybody even say "Yippee Skippy" anymore? I don't know why those words just appeared on my title, but that's what my fingers typed. So what the heck? Anyway........Yay! As of about an hour ago our internet service is up and running again. I haven't had it at home since February 6th, and I've been totally bummed out about it. I don't have computer or internet access at work, so I've been in serious withdrawal. I haven't even checked my Google Reader yet; I'm sure there are about 2,000 posts waiting for me to read. I couldn't wait to check back in here and tell you what I've been up to while I didn't have my little internet/blog addiction consuming all my time. Actually, I've been quite productive. My older son's school is having a fundraiser later this month with a silent auction. I made 4 items for the auction which I'll share with you here.

The first item I made was a Capri Sun juice pouch beach bag. I used a total of 52 pouches. It is really big. I filled it with a beach towel, bottled water and flavored mix-ins, fruit snacks, a little Capri Sun snack sack, and flower leis for a "Beach Party in a Bag." Would you believe I forgot to take a photo of it before I sent it to school with my son and husband? Well, I did forget. However, here is a photo of one I made last summer for a friend. The one I did for the auction is pretty much the same without the fringe. Actually, the one I made for the auction is cooler, in my opinion. Instead of using all "silver" pouches, I made stripes with the same colors of pouches. I had a stripe of red pouches on top, then silver in the middle, then purple on the bottom on the front and back panels. For the side panels, I used yellow apple juice pouches. And I used a combination of all the colors for the handles. Oh......I wish I had taken a photo of it.

The next thing I made was a bucket of beanbags. I bought a red pail from Hobby Lobby and filled it with 10 beanbags that I sewed using printed fabrics on the front and felt squares on the back. I added a laminated card to the handle with a few ideas for activities to do with beanbags.

Close-up of the laminated card.

Close-up of the beanbags. I used fabric from the Moda Recess line. I had bought a package of charm squares of this group of prints a while back, so I didn't even have to cut the pieces. I just used them as a pattern for cutting the felt backing squares.

The next thing I made was a set of 10 drink coasters using chalkcloth and felt. I packaged them in a fun little box I found at.........Hobby Lobby. Below you can see the cute little box. I used the colors in the box to inspire the colors of felt I used for the coasters. It looks very summery and fun.

Below you can see the coasters and the little drawstring bag I added which is filled with colored chalk. If you are not familiar with chalkcloth, it can be found on a big roll in the upholstery section of most fabric stores and purchased by the yard. You can write on it with chalk and wipe it off again using a damp cloth. It is awesome! The coasters can be doodled on or labeled with the names of the guests and reused over and over. Very cool!
Here you can see the coasters a little closer-up. I just used a straight stitch to sew them onto a square of felt. Originally the two pieces were the exact same size. Then after sewing, I used pinking shears to trim the chalkcloth so the colored backing square would show.
My final project was an "Art on the Go" tote. I used a denim bag I found at Hobby Lobby and added a colorful pocket on the front as you can see below. I found a little green journal at the Dollar Spot in Target and slipped that into the pocket.
Inside the tote I put a handsewn crayon roll (tied with the polka dot ribbon in the photo) filled with new crayons, 5 little handmade drawing booklets made from blank printer paper and scrapbook paper, and a handsewn zipper pouch filled with Crayola twistable colored pencils.
Here's a close-up of the zipper pouch.
I had a lot of fun making these things and I hope they generate a nice sum of money for the school.

Monday, February 9, 2009

WAAAHHHH!! & 38 out of 40

First the WAAAHHHH! I don't have internet service at my house. It went down on Friday and I have been lost. My DH has been working on the problem........despite having 2 blogs and 3 email accounts, I am not very "techy". Apparently we have modem issues. They are supposed to be resolved by Friday or so. Until then, I won't be around here much. I miss it! I am posting this from my parents house, but my week is so busy, I won't get over here again. So.........I'll check in as soon as I get up and running again.

Now the 38/40. I was waiting until the 40th day of the new year (today) to tell y'all about one of my new year's resolutions. I made a goal to walk (or jog) 2 miles EVERY day of the new year. Yes, people, that would be 365 consecutive days of exercise. I had a very bad fall in terms of being consistent with exercise. Actually, I just didn't work out much at all and things started to get a little jigglier than I like. So.........I made a crazy resolution to do 365 days of exercise. I wanted to wait until the 40th day to make it public because I've heard it takes 40 days to start a new habit and I wanted to wait to see if it stuck before I told everyone about it. AND......I'm happy to say I've done 38 out of 40 days. I took a few days off when I felt REALLY awful with the cold I've been fighting. We have a treadmill in our basement and so it's been pretty easy to go down there and put in my 2 miles a day. Before I got sick, I was even starting to jog most of it. I will gradually increase the distance, most likely, but 2 miles seems really doable. Things are already getting less jiggly. I just wanted to write about it here, not to toot my horn, but to encourage everyone reading this to make exercise part of your daily routine. I teach 30 hours a week, have 2 young boys, write 2 blogs, am active in my MOPS group, craft in my spare time, and do everything everyone else does to maintain a household. If I can fit it in, anyone can. I have had to get on the treadmill REALLY late sometimes. So far the latest I've STARTED the workout is 10:15 p.m. But, I'm committed. I've already broken my goal of 365 days, but I'm making it more realistic and shooting for 360. I'll keep you posted. When I get home tonight, I have to put my little guy to bed (he's here at my parents' house with me while I'm online) then I'll still have to fit in my workout. Actually, I'm looking forward to it. It has truly become a habit now.

OK.........I've got to go so I can get my little guy home. Talk to you SOON, I hope!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More thoughts about LOVE

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my "Word of the Year" for 2009--------LOVE. I have had lots of ideas and thoughts about it since I wrote that original post. But, hey, it takes time to get those thoughts written down, so must of them are currently being stored head, which is a bit risky in terms of retrieval. Anyway............until I find or make the time to write some more of my original ideas, I thought I would share with you a great resource I just came across for teaching about love to young children. Carisa, who writes the 1+1+1=1 blog that I love, just started a new blog, Totally Tots, that has a great post with free downloads. Check it out here. I've printed it off and am planning to (hopefully) do some of it with my two sons at home this month. I am not going to try to do it all before Valentine's Day, however. When I get it up and going, I'll post more. In the meantime, I also came across this blog, written by another Laura, that has more great ideas for teaching about love. It's completely linked up with the idea from Totally Tots.

I think it's really great and amazing how many moms are out there sharing their fantastic ideas so freely. That is truly sharing the love!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Blessed Moment

I had a special moment within the last hour that I would like to share with you now (even though I have MANY other things I should be doing!). I wanted to write it down before I forget it because it was very special.

After the morning preschool session, my youngest son and I went out for lunch at McDonald's. This is a special treat since we don't do this very often. As we were eating I noticed a song that was playing in the restaurant. Usually I kind of tune out background music, but this one caught my attention. I am not sure the title or artist, but it was sung by a female and the lyrics went something like, "In my daughter's eyes, I am a hero......." Anyway, it was kind of making me feel emotional, not in a good way, because it made me think about how I am still kind of a hero to my youngest son who is three, but I am pretty sure my hero status has already plummeted in the eyes of my older son since he has a.) lived with me longer and b.) seen a lot more of my not-so-heroic moments than his little brother has. I have often thought about how bittersweetly sad it is that the longer we know someone, the more they disappoint us and the more we, in turn, disappoint them. I guess it is part of our bumbling human existence that we tend to have high expectations of others and that we are inevitably disappointed when these expectations aren't met. Even sadder is the realization that we have very likely been a source of disappointment to those who know and love us best.

Before you start typing me a nice, comforting comment reassuring me and stroking my self-esteem (and don't think for a second that I don't appreciate all the thoughtful comments people leave), I want to be clear with you that I am not wallowing in self-pity here, nor am I beating myself up, even if it sounds like that. I am just trying to be very, very honest in this blog about the things I think and feel, even though that sometimes makes me seem needy and vulnerable. So..........I want you to know that I am fine; I don't think I'm a horrible person. I just tend to reflect on myself and to be uncompromisingly honest about what I see. I think it is our responsibility as humans, and even more so, as Christians, to reflect on how we are presenting ourselves to the world and how we are going about our interactions with our fellow human beings. We are supposed to live our lives the way Christ did as much as is humanly possible. I don't take that charge lightly, and I have no problem admitting when I don't measure up. I think it's pushes me to try harder. Anyway, I'm digressing.............I just wanted to explain all that before I tell you the really cool thing that happened while I was thinking all of the above. So.............

...........there I sat in my self-reflective fog, listening to the song. Across the table from me, with sunlight on his sweet face, my youngest son tilted his head to the side and said, "Hey, Mommy. This is happy music." Mind you, I hadn't been talking out loud AT ALL about the music. I smiled at him and said, "Yes, honey. It is happy music." He smiled back and said, "This music makes me happy. Happy is when you are happy about your mom and your dad and your brother." It was really so sweet and innocent and precious and so many other adjectives that I could keep going. And it was just what I needed to hear at that moment. Thank you, God, for giving me that moment with my son. YOU are MY hero, and it looks like I may just hold onto my Mommy hero status for a while longer.