Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Microwave & Bed Buddies

We have been using our microwave a lot lately.

No, not necessiarily for food.  I try to limit that.  But all of a sudden our microwave seems to be getting a lot of use.

Why, you ask?

Bed buddies.

Bed buddies?

Yes. These little rice filled cloth bags, made by my mother-in-law, are popped into the microwave for whatever amount of time you need to get it to the right temperature. (A bit over a minute for little people so they don't burn themselves) Then you slide it to the bottom of the bed and it keeps your feet warm while you drift off to dream land.  Or if you are like Miss S you can just hold it and it will just keep you warm in general.  Sometimes I roll some essential oils over it after it comes out of the microwave... the girls love that.

So, one or two bags are usually warmed up at nap time...three when the girls go to bed...and then one or two when Husband and I go to bed.  And sometimes there is a request for one to be warmed up just for watching a movie.

That would be why our microwave is getting such use these days.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Back in September Miss L lost her first tooth.  Miss L was playing with some plastic bracelet and put it in her mouth like a dog.  She got up to go do something in the bathroom when she tasted something, looked in the mirror, and blurted out her tooth was gone.  But she didn't know where the tooth was!  She was SO excited and SO scared all at the same time.  It was not what she thought losing a tooth would feel like.  Apparently Mom and Dad forgot to mention that there might be some blood.  Whoops!  Anyway, I retraced some footsteps and found her tooth in the living room where she had been playing.  YAY, Mom!  While we don't play the Santa "game" we have decided to play the Tooth Fairy game -- still not sure how I feel about it but whatever. She got $5 for the first lost tooth.

A week later, to the day, she lost her second tooth.

Not such a great story.  We had just finished swim lessons for the evening and as per tradition for this particular summer of lessons we head to Chick-fil-a for dinner as a family... grandparents, too.  Miss L traded in her toy from the kids meal for an ice cream cone.  She had been working on it for a bit and decided to share with Daddy.  I suddenly pulled the cone away from Husband because something looked funny.  Sure enough once I got the cone closer for inspection and then looked at Miss L she had lost the tooth!  Unfortunately, it was no where to be found. (I think she swallowed it) Even our favorite CFA employee pulled out a flashlight (on his smartphone) and helped us look all around under the table and booth. Nothing.  Miss L was devastated.  She wondered how the tooth fairy would find her.  We told her that Daddy had a special number to call.  Also, we had just read a Curious George book that talked about how lights would light up on firefighters maps (back in the day) from where the call came from or where the fire was. I told her that when a child loses a tooth the tooth fairy gets a message about a tooth being gone, etc.  The tooth fairy made her appearance and left her two gold dollar coins.  A little extra for the trauma.

Later we found out that Miss L had to have two teeth removed to help with the crowding issue in her mouth.  While it won't fix her orthodontic issues by any means it did help it a little.  Miss L received two 50-cent pieces for her teeth.

All of this reminds be of the great lengths in which my own dad did the tooth fairy (and Santa). While we don't want to go to such extremes with our kids it did bring me some happy memories.  My dad would have the ladies in the office at his work pen well thought out letters from the tooth fairy as I left her questions about her age and other such things that young minds inquire about.  But I also remember that I was usually left random denomination of money.  Things like the $2 bill, one dollar coins, 50-cent pieces.  I think that also helped me save the money, too.  They were so unique that I didn't want to spend them.  So, while the extravagant stories will not continue on with our children I think that the rare denominations of money will.  Although, we know that the $5 is not rare we just wanted the first to be fun and special.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jesus on the cross..

On Wednesday, I started to read Miss L her Bible lesson for the day.  The title was something like, "The Sun Goes Dark."  Basically, it was the set up for Jesus going to Calvary, his crucifixion, and death.

She says, "Oh, I love this part!" in almost a giddy fashion.

A little disturbed by her excitement I ask, "Why do you like this part?  He is in so much pain and he dies."

"Oh, I know.  But it's the part where He takes our sins away!  That's the best part!"


I learn a lot from my children.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Day of School

With the advent of Pinterest there are more than enough ideas on how to capture a child's first day of school no matter the grade.  I think I had grand imaginations of doing something sweet and memorable...but it didn't quite happen.  You see we started school the day after we returned from a short family vacation to Colorado.  I hesitated in putting the start of school there but I did it just the same.  I'll probably not do that again.  While the day went off without a hitch I was kind of stressed the night before.  The stress was in vain but there was more I needed wanted to do but did not.  I made a super simple sign on our white board  that said "First day of 1st" grade and set out all of her books and supplies in front of it.

But what happened next erased all thoughts of "it's just not enough"...

I had mostly forgotten that I had the sign on the table as I proceeded with the morning responsibilities of breakfast when all of a sudden I found myself wrapped up tightly in Miss L's arms.  I asked her what that was for and she pulled me to the table and excitedly giggled that it was the first day of 1st grade!  She was just excited to start school again.  Apparently our six week break was more than enough for her.

While we took pictures for the sake of prosperity they were not fancy.  It's not what she'll remember.  She'll remember the adventure of learning with her mom.  I hope she's that excited every year for school.  But more than anything I hope that she's that excited about learning for the rest of her life.

Friday, July 4, 2014

DIY Oven Cleaner

My oven was...gross.

I forgot this last winter to run the self cleaning option (because in Phoenix there is no way I am running THAT cycle in the summer.)  Let's be honest it's not my favorite.  Basically it creates an environment so hot that hopefully it all turns to ash and you wipe what's left out.  Not a big deal unless your oven is REALLY bad.  Then you run the risk of setting the fire alarm off as smoke billows from your oven and the fire department shows up because they are pretty sure they deciphered the SOS in the plumes.  Oy. That's where I was.  Gosh, sometimes smoke would start coming just with the preheat of the oven at 400.  No bueno, amigos, no bueno.

I have been highly motivated as of late to get our house clean and myself on a schedule.  Especially since we will be starting school in...oh, look at that...17 days!  The girls like to help so we are working on those aspects.  They are seeing the effects of "many hands make for light work" and merry hearts make for merry work, too.  Although today, I'll admit, I was not so merry.  I know that I set the tone and I reaped what I sowed today.  More on that later.  Back to being motivated...

Yesterday, after most of the rest of the house had been worked on earlier in the week I tackled a couple of problem areas in my kitchen.  I was faced with the oven once again.  I finally said, "That's it.  It just needs to be done."  So, I went to my friend's blog where I saw her recipe for a DIY oven cleaner.  It was a little different than another one I had and I wanted to try it. (Note: the Melaleuca a. is tea tree oil)

It was pretty amazing!  You could barely see through my oven door and now you can TOTALLY see through it.  The door took some extra elbow grease but totally worth it.  But the inside pretty much just wiped out.

I will say, make sure that you oven is just warm.  Not hot.  Mine was too hot and I think it messed with the paste a little.  If you have an electronic temp that shows up on your oven maybe let it get to 100 or 120 and then turn it off.  The lowest mine would go was 170 and I didn't let it cool enough.  Which in turn made for a crazy mess to clean up this morning but still worth it in my opinion.  Next time I know.

It was hard to get to the top of my oven because the broiler elements and the angle.  But I think for what's left the self cleaning will do nicely.

Here are my before and after photos -
Before (top) and After (bottom)

After (top) and Before (bottom)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cherished Conversations | Kindness from Wisdom

Today, when compared to other days, was an odd day for us.

We woke up much earlier than normal and took Daddy to the airport.  Saying good-bye is always hard but for Miss L it is the most difficult.  She's sensitive and she is so very attached to her daddy.  It's hard when he is gone even just for a few days.  It takes her awhile to recover.

We eat breakfast later than normal on these early morning adventures to the airport because we come back to a bagel shop near our house which is a treat for the girls and a good distraction.

As we were talking, laughing, and eating an older gentleman entered the door behind us.  I noticed Miss S wave to someone as did Miss A.  The gentleman came over and and said, "It's so nice when young ones want to engage with people rather than hide behind mama."  Let me clarify, my girls have those "hide behind mama" moments often but today they were feeling especially social.  He talked to each one of the girls and even listened to Miss S as she babbled a few coherent words and then a whole bunch of nonsense even though it was quite apparent it all made perfect sense to her.

Next, Miss L dove in and told him all about school and how she is finishing kindergarten and looking forward to first grade.  He made some comment to her that didn't quite apply to our homeschool environment (I don't remember what it was) and Miss L just said, "Oh, I'm homeschooled."  Without missing a beat or looking shocked he said, "Well, you'll probably get a better education that way!" and continued to talk to the girls about school and a whole host of other things.

I was floored.  I was NOT expecting that response at all.  BUT I was thankful for it.  People generally look at me like I have horns growing out of my head when I tell them we homeschool.  Others have a few curious questions and move on.  Few have ever had this kind of response unless they homeschool as well.

He was a kind man.  His kindness had an impact not only on my children but also on me.  I'm not trying to put down public schools but trying to remember the kindness of people that the Lord places in my path because it is easy to focus on the harsh words from people... I want to remember the kind words, too.

So, thank you, dear gentleman... you made this mama's hard morning a little easier.

Monday, February 24, 2014

2013 | Book Review

This last Friday a group of people that I know all got together to share and talk about the books that we read last year.  It was so much fun!  I loved the diversity and the challenge to read some things that I may not necessarily think about.  I thought I would list our books here for possible future reference or for anyone looking for some book recommendations. I did note on a few if the person sharing really loved it or particularly disliked a book.  Also, at the end there is a short list of other books not read by anyone last year but were additional recommendations to go along side other books or from the same genre.  I put first name and last initial are more for my reference.  If you happen to know these folks then you can ask them more questions on their reads.

My List

  • Honeysuckle, Creosote, and Trainsmoke by William O. Cook
  • 100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, #1) by N.D. Wilson
  • Dandelion Fire (100 Cupboards, #2) by N.D. Wilson
  • The Watermelon Man by William O. Cook
  • Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Yes!)
  • The Chestnut King (100 Cupboards, #3) by N.D. Wilson
  • A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (hated)
  • Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
  • Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood by Rachel Jankovic
  • America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made this Nation Great by Ben Carson
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • These Old Shades (Alistair, #1) by Georgette Heyer
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker
  • Let Us Keep the Feast: Living the Church Year at Home by Michelle Allen Bycheck, et al
  • Indoctrination: Public School and the Decline of Christianity in America by Charles Laverdire, et al
  • Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Yes, I read a cookbook!) by Michelle Tam
  • An American Bride in Kabul by Phyllis Chesler
  • Devil’s Cub (Alistair, #2) by Georgette Heyer
  • Why Christian Kids Need a Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
Gail H.
  • Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolf
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
  • The Earth Abides by George Stewart
  • Christianity & Liberalism by Machen
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Slave Narratives by Frederick Douglass
  • Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • The Juvenilization of American Christianity by Thomas Bergeler (Last Chapter was the best!)
  • Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson
  • The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
  • Best Loved Poems
  • Cross Talk by Michael Emlet
  • Number 44 The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
  • Salt (She thought it was rather boring)
  • Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
  • True Grit by Charles Portis
  • God's Gift to You by Charles Spurgeon
  • Loving God with All You Mind by Elizabeth George
  • The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard (she wants to read this every year!)
  • Vanity Fair by William Mackpiece Thackery
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Blink by Gladwell
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
  • Narnia Chronicles
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
  • Experiments in Criticism by C.S. Lewis (fairly academic)
  • Till We have Faces by C.S. Lewis (best ever!)
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (hated)
  • The Devil in the White Cith by Erik Larson
  • Lilith by George McDonald
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • The Histories by Herodotus
Laura S.
  • Winter Study (Anna Pigeon, #14) by Nevada Barr
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1) by Willa Cather
  • Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot (Loved!)
  • Cross Talk by Michael Emlet
  • The Adults by Alison Espach
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (hard to read and did not finish)
  • Gotta Keep on Tryin' by Donna DeBerry and Virginia Grant
  • The Confession by John Grisham
  • The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (loved)
  • Eventide by Kent Haruf
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Unplanned by Abby Johnson
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber
  • Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen
  • A Brother's Journey by Richard B. Pelzer
  • The Letters by Luanne Rice
  • Peony in Love by Lisa See
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Kate F.
  • Babywise by Gary Ezzo
  • Toddlerwise by Gary Ezzo
  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg
  • First Time Mom by Kevin Leman
  • The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family by Dave Pelzer
  • Breath by Martha Mason
  • Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Fox Casteman
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Fostering Cayden by J.V. Fink
  • An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler
  • The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman
Zack F.
  • His Excellency by Joseph Ellis
  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Fostering Cayden by J.V. Fink
  • Six Sigma by Roland Cavanagh
  • Suze Orman's Financial Guidebook by Suze Orman
  • Cicero by Anthony Everette
  • Project Management for Dummies
  • Letters to the Soviets by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • The Fall by Albert Camus
Katie F.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • My Friend Leonard by James Frey
Kortnee H.
  • Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper
  • The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller (read twice!)
  • The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
  • The Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth that Sets the Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  • Chosen by God, by R.C. Sproul
  • The Shack by William P. Young (started and did not finish...hated it!)
  • A Classical Christian Education book by Wilson (could not remember title)
Nancy S.
  • The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller
  • The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
  • How Now Shall We Live by Charles Colson
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas hardy
  • Term Limits by Vince Flynn
  • The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
  • Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly
Doug H.
  • Echos of Eden by Jerram Barrs
  • Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
  • A Cry for Justice by Jeff Crippen
  • Mending the Soul by Steven Tracy
  • Why does He do that? by Lundy Bancroft
  • No Longer Under Bondage by Barbara Roberts
  • In Sheep's Clothing by George Simon
  • The Emotionally Abused Woman by Beverly Engel
  • Center Church by Tim Keller
  • The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayer
  • Spiritual Formation by Henri Nouwen
  • Eat this Book by Eugene Peterson
  • Light in August by William Faulkner
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Call of Duty: The Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee by Steven Wilkins
  • The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
  • King's Cross by Tim Keller (?)
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • Barn Burning by William Faulkner
  • Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard
  • Living the Christian Year by Bobby Gross
  • Temple of the Holy Ghost; Revelation; and A Good Man is Hard to Find (Short stories by Flannery O'Connor
Side Recommendations
  • The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick
  • The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading Begets Reading

I have been consuming books like literary food since late last year.  I have already read seven books this year and just started my eighth this morning while on hold with a company.

In the midst of rebooting my love for reading I realized that I had been lacking, and had been for years (even while in full time ministry), consistency in reading a book that I claimed had such influence in my life... the Bible.  Oh, that is so hard to write.  So humbling and so true.

Sure, I have been in churches where we were reading the Bible together and we all had plans.  Honestly, I never made it.  This was after several attempts over the years at several churches just to clarify for those readers who are familiar with my church going history. :)

On October 21, 2013 (there is no significance in the date) I looked around on the Bible app I have on my phone, YouVersion.  There were all sorts of plans and I took some time to read through the descriptions.  I was looking for one that would help me succeed in the endeavor and one that was not too overwhelming. I found one. You know what?  It's great.  It's working!  I have a reminder on my phone that goes off during naptime (it's quiet) just in case I haven't managed to read it yet.  Honestly, nap time is the best time for me.  The kids are resting and I can relax and take in what the Lord has for me on that particular day.

I found that reading more has helped in my reading what is most important.  So, as I read in parenting books that "sleep begets sleep" with babies...I find that reading begets reading, too.

I actually have a challenge to finish my plan early so that I can join my husband in his Bible readings so we can be reading the same thing on the same days.  I know, I should just start over and it does makes sense.  Luckily, I have a husband who also understands that I want to finish the goal of reading through.  So, we'll see if I can finish early??

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reflections | 2013

I have been meaning to reflect on 2013 for the past 29 days.  It seems the thing to do in the world of blogs. 2013 was quite a strange year -- I should have also reflected on 2012 last year but was in such shock in the last month of 2012 and the first few months of 2013 that it wasn't going to happen.  But I can look back on things now with different eyes.


...was the year I had to learn to walk through life without my dad.  For 34 years he was my greatest fan.  For many of those years he was my sole companion and best friend.  2013 rang in just as I came home from his hospice center where the funeral home had just picked up his body.  Fireworks were going off all around me.  It was a brutal reminder that life was moving on without him.  Time did not stop.  The world was not in shock or weeping with me.  I didn't expect of all that to happen.  Oh, but I really wanted that to happen.

...was the year that I learned to plan a funeral.  And that you can fire the people you are working with.

...was the year that I saw my husband live out an aspect of our vows (for better or for worse) in a very tangible way.  I never doubted that he would but this is where I saw love pour forth from a man who already shows me an abundance of love that I do not deserve.  I had no idea what I was doing nor did I really want to do anything.  He waded through bureaucratic red tape and whatnot.  You know, all the stuff that comes from a parent who had three government pensions and an outdated will.  Sigh.  He is my knight in shining armor.  He tackled it all without flinching or even being asked.  He just did it knowing I was struggling to even get up and feed our family.

...was the year that we sold not one but two houses.  My dad's house which took five days to sell and our rental house which took...much, much longer.

...was the year that we started our homeschooling journey.  Miss L started kindergarten.  It has been an amazing journey and just like I loved being there for her baby milestones I love that I get to be a part of these milestones as well.  Sure there are days that I want to pull my hair out.  But more often than not we have a good time.

...was the year that I started running.  I wanted to lose the baby weight that has accumulated.  Instead I broke my leg and was diagnosed with osteopenia.

...was the year that we lived in a hotel in San Diego from mid-September until the end of January 2014.  It has been an adventure for sure.

...was the year that we took our girls to Disneyland for the first time.  It was amazing!  One of my favorite memories for sure.  It was in part thanks to bad weather and our cousins Lindsay and Emily, too.

...was the year that I had actual physical health issues once we entered the one year time period since my dad got sick.  Breathing issues that warranted a trip to the ER among other things.  They started just after Thanksgiving which was when my dad was first admitted into the hospital  Oddly enough, all subsided after the new year passed.

...was the year that I learned that I still love to read.  It's a beautiful thing and I am sad that I lost so much time with so many good books.  I am also thankful that I am surrounded by such well read people.  From the end of August until the end of the year I read 23 books of varying genres, topics, and of course length.

The year had highs and lows... as do all years.  Some things this past year were more significant than others. We had our normal vacations and fun.  My family always makes me laugh and we love being together.  At the end of the year, whether it was particularly hard or we seem to breeze through in our ordinary lives, I know that I am extraordinarily blessed.