Friday, December 31, 2010
Check out this picture. My Christmas gift from one boy on the left and my gift from the other boy on the right. Neither had known what the other got me until we all exchanged gifts.
I love that our boys are such thoughtful givers!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
What's one thing that you're thankful for?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
We went to my dad's for a few nights over the Christmas weekend and came home on Monday. However, we made two stops before heading north. After a leisurely morning at my dad's, we headed to Science Works, one of our favorite places, for a free outing, thanks to our OMSI membership. We spent three hours there and the kids had a blast.
The plan was to eat the lunch I'd packed, then head home. I changed the plan.
You see, we opted to take Tim's car, rather than my van, for this trip and that cut our gas bill in half. We decided to spend that extra money on an impulsive indulgence. Totally out of character for me, huh?!
We loaded the kids in the car, then drove up the road to Great American Pizza. Oh, Great American, how I love & miss thee!! First we ordered dough-knots. Mmmmmm .... delicious balls of sourdough with garlic oil & parmesan cheese, dipped in ranch.
Then we ordered pizza. Two pizzas, actually. Each was half one type and half another, but the most important half of all was the half that I chose. Dijon Chicken. Oh, it's so stinkin' good!!! Not only did I enjoy eating some piping hot pizza right then, after more than five years without having it cross my lips, but I also made sure to save a piece to eat cold the next morning. That's the best!!
Looking at that picture almost makes me salivate. Yum!
Anyway, we scarfed some great pizza, took some random pictures, hit the road, arrived home by 6:30, had laundry done & kids in bed by 8:00, and returned to real life the next morning.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Wait, let me revise that. We headed to my dad's for a few days and that was nice. No responsibilities and plenty of downtime.
But today I'm feeling overwhelmed with reality. Majorly.
Want to cheer me up? Tell a joke, share a funny story, give me a pep talk? Bring it on!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
It's been a really fun day ... and I don't have a single picture to show you. I opted to experience the day, not photograph it. It was a good choice.
Now I'm going to bed. Before midnight. I'm happy about that!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
A woman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. The woman is an online friend of mine who knits. She showed me a bunch of patterns. I hired her and chose a pattern - not too boring, but not to silly or frilly. Here's a picture from the site I saw it on.
The woman knit the hat for the girl. She refused to take my money. She did it as a way to pay forward all the kind things people did for her when she was going through chemo. Here's a picture of the hat she knit.
I love it. Better yet, the girl's mom says the girl loves it.
A little girl getting her bald head warmed and beautifed by a woman she'll never meet, a woman who knows what it's like to do the chemo gig. How cool is that?!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Tam's granola (crockpot)
new egg recipe (tasted fine, but wasn't worth the mess it made)
oat & almond breakfast bars (bake night before)
stuffed French toast (prep night before)
poppyseed banana muffins
pumpkin bread (double batch, use one loaf & freeze three)
tacos x 2
3 nights out of town
sweet & sour chicken/rice/coleslaw
chicken soup & dumplings
cornbread (double batch for potluck)
creamy pasta with broccoli & ham
grilled ham & pineapple sandwiches/fruit
bbq pie (base from freezer)/salad
big soft ginger cookies
honey mulled cider (crockpot)
Friday, December 17, 2010
In keeping with blogging tradition, I'm posting our newsletter (the shortest, sweetest, and easiest one I've ever done) and annual family picture for everyone who didn't get the real deal. We also got a cute shot of the kids together and one of Tim and I, which I've included. Tim and I haven't had professional pictures of us as a couple since our wedding and this one was dirt cheap, so I'm really glad it turned out!
Silas (the efficient list maker) - I like puzzles & Sudoku. I like my birthday and science. I love baseball! I like candy, especially sour patches, but I don’t like most chocolate. I like movies. I like snow. I love to cook! And that’s all.
Devon (the random comedian) - I’ve lost six teeth total and I have four that I’ve saved. I want to see if the Tooth Fairy takes a whole bunch at a time. (Insert total cheeseball voice with silly facial expressions.) I love science! I like mystery books, as long as their not 400 chapter books. I love climbing. (Return to normal voice.) I love playing tricks on my brother, especially this one –I take a piece of paper and write “Read what?” on it. Then I ask Silas to read it to me. When he reads “Read what?”, then I say (insert annoyed tone here) “Read this!”
Naomi (the sweet-tooth snuggler) – I love to go to church and have sprinkle doughnuts. I like Piggy (a stuffed animal she has) and Hello Kitty (another stuffed animal) and to decorate the Christmas tree and have fun. I like to draw. I like to have a doughnut date. I like markers.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
How Many Kings, by Marc Martel/Jason Germain
How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me.
That, my friends, is what Christmas is all about. It's about Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Beep recommended this book to me and it took me all month to finish. In fact, it's the only non-school book I read all month. It's a good book, but one I could only read a couple chapters at a time of. I love how real Yancey is, totally honest about his doubts and struggles in his faith. I've got a gazillion quotes I liked from this book, so here goes.
Cool quotes - p.38, The only thing more difficult than having a relationship with an invisible God is having no such relationship.
p. 40, The same law of reversal I observed in my church in Chicago seems to apply in the Gospels: Faith appears where least expected and falters where it should be thriving.
p. 41, Doubt always coexists with faith, for in the presence of certainty who would need faith at all?
p. 54, Relationships gain strength when they are stretched to the breaking point and do not break.
p. 59, (in relation to Matthew 10:29), Jacques Ellul points out a common mistranslation: the Greek text simply has, "apart from your Father," and says nothing about God's will: "It is to make things plain that "will" has been added. But the addition changes the meaning completely. In the one case, God wills the death of the sparrow, in the other death does not take place without God being present. In other words, death comes according to natural laws, but God lets nothing in his creation die without being there, without being the comfort and strength and hope and support of that which dies. At issue is the presence of God, not his will."
p. 60, Rather that looking backward for explanation, he looked forward for redemptive results.
p. 77, (On the fact that life & faith include ups & downs, that no season lasts forever.) The creek by my house freezes over every winter. If I bend down close, though, I can hear it flowing beneath the ice, the sound muffled but unmistakable. Never does it stop. Under the frigid layers of winter lies proof of an inevitable summer.
p.82, (On a surgeon who would dedicate difficult surgeries to people he knew, thinking about them during the surgery as a way to get through it.) And then it dawned on him: should not he offer his life to God in the same way? The details of what he did each day - answering phone calls, hiring staff, reading medical journals, meeting with patients, scheduling surgeries - changed little, yet somehow the awareness of living for God gradually covered each of those mundane tasks. He found himself treating nurses with more care and respect, spending more time with patients, worrying less about finances.
p. 88, (On choosing the right thing when you don't feel like it or lack confidence to do so.) It is much easier act your way into feelings than to feel your way into actions.
p.90, Great victories are won when ordinary people execute their assigned tasks - and a faithful person does not debate each day whether he or she is in the mood to follow the sergeant's orders or shop up at a boring job. We exercise faith by responding to the task that lies before us, for we have control only over our actions in the present moment.
p.112, Yes, marriage lives on love, but it is the kind of love that parenthood demands, or Christian discipleship: a gritty decision to go forward, step by step, one foot in front of the other.
p.138, Nonetheless, I have learned one important principle: not to judge God by some misfortune that befalls me or someone I love. My questions about providence and suffering are primarily answered in the person of Jesus, not in day-to-day events I may encounter now.
p.165, God's love, thankfully, is not based on our intrinsic worth. It comes by grace, a priceless yet free gift that bestows worth on the most unlovable object.
p.205, (quoting Brother Lawrence) It was God, not the task, he had in view. He knew that, the more the task was against his natural inclinations, the greater was his love in offering it to God.
p.223, In a healthy marriage, one partner yields to the other's wishes not out of compulsion but out of love. That adult relationship reveals, I believe, what God has always sought from human beings: not the clinging, helpless love of a child who has no real choice, but the mature, freely given commitment of a lover.
p.253, When something bad happens ... I try to view it as I would view a physical pain, as a signal alerting me to attend to a matter that needs change. I strive to be grateful not for the pain itself but for the opportunity to respond, by mining good out of what looks bad.
p.275, (referring to Flannery O'Connor) Success, in contrast, she regarded as almost wholly negative: it isolates, breeds vanity, and distracts from the real work that brought it on in the first place.
p.275, Much of what we struggle with today, we will still struggle with tomorrow and the next day. Some pains, whether the precise-shaped pain of loss or the formless pain of unfulfilled longing, never go away. The wound will never heal completely, the problem never find a pure solution. We are offered instead the less satisfying but more realistic hope that God can redeem even the wound.
p.284, ... God seems to value character more than our comfort, often using the very elements that cause us most discomfort as his tools in fashioning that character.
Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates
I read this one to Devon for school, so it was my second time through it. It's the story of a boy learning to be a shepherd, maturing into a young man. Both of our boys enjoyed this book when they went through it for school.
Cool quotes - p. 47, Old Benj once said, "A man must have a care to what he puts in his mind, for when he's alone on a hillside and draws it out, he'll want treasures to be his company, not regrets."
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday morning we were able to just putter around the house in jammies, doing a whole lot of nothing. Saturday afternoon we went to a beautiful wedding. I hadn't been to a wedding in more than three years, so watching the ceremony and visiting during the reception was fun.
Sunday morning was church. The message was a good one for me to hear. Sunday afternoon I took a three hour nap. I'm not a napper, so that's a big deal.
Sunday night was a mellow Christmas program, which included the boys singing a couple songs with the grade school class, and dessert potluck at church. I actually took store-bought treats to the potluck, rather than baking, just so that I could rest this afternoon. Shocking, if you know me at all, but I'm glad that's what I did. It started at 7:00 and we didn't leave until 10:00. Tomorrow is going to stink because the kids will be tired and Tim's not going to be around at all, but for now I'm basking in the glow of an evening spent visiting with a ton of people I rarely get to talk to. It was a really nice night!
Since I know some (Dad) will ask where the pictures are of the boys singing, I'll tell you now that there aren't any. I tried to take some, but they didn't turn out. Such is life.
Time for bed.
Friday, December 10, 2010
1. Choose a light pink, sleeveless sundress that has darker pink, sparkly stripes.
2. Told by the maternal parental unit that she has to wear long sleeves under or a sweater over her dress, as we'll be out and about. She skips the solid white or pink options and chooses a brown shirt with light and dark pink polka dots on it. Why? "I like the brown one." Duh.
3. Has to choose leggings for the sake of not flashing everyone as she plays. She skips the solid pink ones and chooses light pink ones with dark pink polka dots. Why? "This one. It matches polka dots on my shirt." Duh.
4. Looks at sock options. Insists on socks in the exact shade of pink as her leggings. Why? "They match.". Duh.
5. Has to choose shoes. Skips the brown & pink ones that could tie in with her shirt. Skips the simple pink or white ones. Skips the one or two-toned pink boots. Chooses the pink rain boots with yellow, red, and blue stars all over them and puts them on the wrong feet. Why? I have no idea.
6. Wants her hair out of her face. Skips the various pink and brown clippies she has. Chooses a white, floral one. Why? "It matches." Now, that's a stretch. There's no white anywhere in her outfit.
For the record, I don't generally encourage my daughter to show a little leg for a blog picture, but the second picture was essential in order for you to fully grasp the explosion of patterns this little lady had going on.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
What's one thing that you're thankful for?
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tam's granola (crockpot)
almond coconut granola
stuffed French toast (prepped the previous night)
lemon sour cream muffins (double, freeze half)
poppyseed banana muffins
cherry oatmeal muffins (double, freeze half)
leftover oatmeal pancakes
fruit & nut energy bars (double batch)
crackers & dilly cucumber dip
dinner at a wedding reception
cabbage soup (freezer)/whole wheat biscuits
death by garlic/salad
Amy's barbecue chicken salad/garlic bread
orange lentil soup/garlic bread
chicken broccoli divan/rice/salad
artichoke & shrimp linguine/salad
enchiladas/corn (Silas is cooking)
bbq pie/frozen veggies
creamy tomato & rice soup (crockpot)
cake (from a box, baked, with a little help, and decorated by Naomi)
banana spice cookies
big soft ginger cookies
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Two happy boys.
The second layer of wrapping.
The third layer of wrapping.
Silas also thinks it's funny.
The gift. A gift card to Pizza Hut for us to use on a date!
The boys budget 20% of their money for giving and have been conspiring for a while to give us this gift. It wasn't for birthdays or Christmas, but simply because they wanted to do something kind for us. Isn't that awesome?! They'd count their money every month to see how much they had, got online to scope out prices to see if they had enough, went into Pizza Hut to buy the gift card, and included a coupon for us in a second package.
Sometimes parenting is discouraging and exhausting, but stuff like this makes it all worthwhile!
Monday, December 6, 2010
Last year I told you about the Altoids box that hangs on our tree, but I thought I'd share the memories attached to a few other ornaments this year.
John and Amy, friends in Medford, host a Christmas party each year with an ornament exchange. Some couples bring one ornament, but this particular exchange allows stealing gifts. Since the third owner gets to keep the ornament, Tim and I always brought our own ornaments to strengthen our stealing power. We make a pretty good team when it comes to party thievery ... I mean, ornament acquisition strategies. We went to a few of their parties, but have only made it to one since we moved away. This little Santa, received during an exchange, reminds me of all the food, friends, and laughter at their parties.
Isn't this snowman cute? Several years ago our friends and neighbors, Peggy & Toni, hosted a Christmas ornament-making party. I love snowmen and Peggy gave me this one at the end of the night. It reminds me of life on the corner of California and Iowa, being the token family in a complex of college students and singles, and talking across our decks to our neighbors.
These were made by Myron, the partner of a woman I worked with in a medical office. That woman, Maureen, worked as an assistant to the homeopaths in our office, but was also a midwife. Several months after I quit working, she became my midwife during my pregnancy with Silas. She was also my initial midwife with Devon, though the cancer she battled between my boys came back during my pregnancy with Devon and I finished things out with another midwife. Maureen died shortly after Devon was born. These ornaments remind of a woman truly gifted at midwifery.
My mom died in January of my sophomore year in high school. A few weeks before she died I got a package from Kater. I was a huge Mickey Mouse fan back then, so she'd found all sorts of Mickey Mouse goodies to wrap up for me. Almost twenty years later, I still have this ornament she gave me, though she and I no longer keep in touch. It reminds me of a friend who was generous and thoughtful, who not only gave me Christmas gifts during a rough year, but also sent me flowers on my mom's birthday and gave me cards on the anniversary of her death throughout high school.
I worked for three years in the office of some homeopaths and osteopaths. Every year they'd have a family-style office Christmas party and one year I got a trio of ornaments decoupaged by Shari. These ornaments remind me of my co-workers - the one who loved I Love Lucy and wrote silly poems back and forth with me, another who teased me about the names patients called me (Stephanie, Brittany, etc) and was chronically late, one we gave a plastic crab to for use as non-verbal warning they were in a bad mood and who taught Tim to golf, the perfectly punctual one who brought Cesaria Evora music to the office, and on and on and on.
Check out this picture! I'm a red, white, and blue-wearing ACE kindergartner with straight hair. My parents had a stocking ornament for each of us kids and my dad gave me mine a few years ago. It reminds me of all the Christmases growing up - driving around to look at lights, putting out the NOEL candle holders and fake holly, decorating the tree with ornaments and tinsel, the year we made sheep ornaments, and the felt stockings with our names stenciled in my dad's capital letters.
As much as I love to see beautifully decorated, color-coordinated trees in other people's homes, I'll always have a hodge-podge tree filled with memories.