Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Week in Pictures

A few visuals to sum up the week around our house:


Here is one Shadow puppy, freshly shorn.  We think he looks like a wee black lamb after he gets fluffed and buffed.  But no matter how adorable we think he looks, in every picture we take of him, he looks morose and depressed.  Cheer up, Shadow!  It can't be that bad to be a dog!


My littlest gal was student of the week last week and she requested we make snickerdoodles for her class treat.  We started hauling out all the ingredients (snickerdoodle-making is no small undertaking, I quickly remembered!), and my little K zipped to the closet to grab an apron for me.  I rarely wear an apron, but every time I do, I remember how much I love wearing one - they're so convenient!  Anyway, K grabbed this one, which is my favorite.  It was made by my mom for my grandma -- in her favorite color: mauve.  Every time I wear it, I think of her wearing it, bustling around her (mauve) kitchen in her skirt and nylons, heels kicked off by the door.  Fond memories of a beloved woman.


I recently bought this little gem for about $1, and it is the best.  Seriously, I don't know how I ran a grown up kitchen without one for all these years.  My whole adult life, I've been dragging out a colander or using a lid to strain the pasta, or if I was feeling lazy like tempting fate, I would precariously hold the pasta with a fork while draining the liquid.  But this little plastic game changer is the goods.  I simply hold it over the pot and all is good!  No huge colander to hand wash, no risky fork method. . .just pasta sans liquid.  Does everyone already have one of these and I was just out of the loop?  Or am I a trend setter?  I truly have no idea.


I bought this shower curtain the other day for our hideous upstairs bathroom.  This bathroom is in dire need of an overhaul, but we haven't had the money or time to do all that needs to be done, so there it sits, in its late-90s decor, frustrating me every time I pass by.  I had finally had it with the old shower curtain and wanted to buy an inexpensive one to tide us over until we actually redo the room. I found this one at Walmart and it fit the bill.  The tree was pleasant and would work for the time being.  The other day I was putting towels away (these ΓΌber awesome ones from IKEA) in the bathroom and one of my boys wandered in and appeared to suddenly attack the shower curtain.  "What are you doing?", I quickly asked.  Without missing a beat, he replied, "I'm a tree hugger!"




Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bits and Pieces #18


  • Brace yourselves, delicate readers.  I am going to start this blogpost out with a disgusting Shadow report.  We had snow this week, which seemingly causes our annoying beloved dog to have temporary amnesia.  He appears to forget where we have grass and where we have  decking.  And since he is inherently lazy, he only walks out a few feet from the back door when we have snow on the ground, and does his business right on the (snow-covered) deck.  The piles of poo get buried under the snow and we don't always know they are there until the snow melts.  Then we look out our kitchen window (appetizing) and see all the poo on our deck.  And this time, as I gazed upon the sight, I noticed that all three piles were riddled with orange nerf darts.  Our stupid dog eats the tips off of nerf darts like they are candy, and then poops them out for our viewing pleasure.  He's thoughtful like that.
  • On Ash Wednesday, one of our sons decided that he was going to give up eating breakfast for Lent.  My husband and I told him we didn't think that was a good idea -- we didn't want him giving up something that might cause him harm, we said.  He quickly retorted - "Do you think dying on the cross was good for Jesus?"  
  • My daughter is reading The Grapes of Wrath for school.  One of the younger siblings, however, quickly nicknamed it The Peaches of Anger.  I think it's catchy!
  • Some of my children had a rough day on Saturday, and as a result, lost all screens for an indeterminate amount of time.  This edict was not well received.  An hour or so later, another child (not in the no-screens-camp), wanted to use the TV and Apple TV, but it appeared the batteries were missing. Upon further inspection, we realized that all the remotes (including the tiny Apple TV one) had no batteries.  It seems that one of the punishees was a little miffed and removed all the batteries in every remote in the room.  Said child was no longer angry when this was discovered and was apologetic and helpful in replacing them all.  
  • Awhile ago, I received two $1 bills as change.  I noticed right away that they were different than regular $1 bills, so I looked a bit closer at them and discovered they were issued in 1957! I was fascinated thinking about their history -- where they had traveled for all those years.  Both of them are in remarkably good shape, so I wonder if they were out of circulation for a number of those years.  Still - if money really did talk -I bet it would be an interesting tale!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lost and Fit

Several weeks ago, I blogged about how I got a Fitbit Flex 2 for freeeee!  Yes, our insurance has paid us for good habits for several years, and this year upped the ante slightly and gave us the option of getting a Fitbit or the like.  So, of course I ordered one, and got my husband to order one too.  Who doesn't love free stuff??

So, my Fitbit has been attached to my wrist, monitoring all manner of things. . .sleep, steps, miles, caloric intake (with my help on the app), calories burned, etc.  It's been interesting watching all the data each day.  When Ash Wednesday rolled around, I decided to add to my Lenten disciplines that I would achieve 10,000 steps each day.

Some days, that's been easy (the days I work), and other days, a bit harder.  On days I'm off and primarily doing paperwork and laundry, I find myself at the end of the day with a couple thousand steps to take.  So my kids (and husband) have laughed at me as I will, mid-conversation, start walking in place (admittedly, I do this in a rather over-the-top way).  I also have discovered that I can walk laps in my house** and rack up the steps pretty quickly.  On any given night, you could come to my door and see me speed-walking circles in my living room and hallway.  I'm fun at parties.

Last week, I was sorting through some clothes in my boys' closet and doing other various chores upstairs.  I headed down some time later and realized (to my horror!), that the tiny Fitbit was missing from my wristband.  Retracing my steps (and fearing that it had fallen in the washing machine), I looked all around the upstairs and shook out all the wet laundry in the washing machine, to no avail. Because I am super smart, I realized I could look at the app and see if/when the Fitbit had fallen asleep.  Piecing together the time it had fallen asleep and a phone call I received, I was pretty certain I was in my sons' room when it had fallen out.  But I couldn't find it, and I was stymied as to how to find it.

Enter - my teenage daughter, who had just arrived home.  I lamented to her about my desperate situation, and within in two seconds, she said, "I'll just text it and it'll vibrate!".

Oh my.  So much for super smart.  We started in the boys' room and after several texts from my daughter (all consisting of different colored hearts πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’› πŸ’™ ), I pinpointed the vibration sound and found the tiny Fitbit.  Kids -- when did they get smarter than me?

I wear it tighter now, to escape random slippage and minimize loss.  So far so good.


**When I was a child, I used to envy people who had a circular floor plan.  We lived in a ranch that had an uninspiring floor plan in my young mind, and I thought it would be living the dream to be able to walk a lap, or even more amazing -- a figure-eight! -- in your own house!  I am happy to report, I am now living the dream. #whoknewlifecouldbelikethis

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Grandpa's Top Ten Life Lessons

My dad is known for being goofy.  He has joked with us since we were little -- we have a priceless cassette tape of my sister, my dad and I doing silly interviews when I was ten.  He claims he can sing a song about any word we name.  When he really laughs hard, he starts to giggle-cackle.  He showed my sister and me funny parlor tricks when we were little and has continued the tradition with his grandchildren.   He used to take my sister and I on a 'scar tour' - of all the scars he had incurred in his childhood from questionable outdoor activities.  I've never seen someone have a way with rigging things up like he does - MacGyver doesn't have anything on him. He always gives the high sign from the little rascals to his grandchildren by way of greeting. He has a steady stream of (mostly dorky) jokes.  For thirty or more years, he has told us he is the world's champeen of basically every game we ever play with him. I could go on and on about his wacky sense of humor.

In keeping with this nature, recently he was talking to my eldest son about tying his tie. As if we all knew what he was talking about, he said, "That's number four on Grandpa's Top Ten Life Lessons List -- when wearing a tie, always tie a double Windsor".  No one knew what he was talking about, but after some questioning, we discovered he had been compiling a list on his phone.  We all enjoyed reading it, so I give you:

Grandpa's Top Ten Life Lessons

 1. You can never have too many bungee cords.
 2. If anyone asks what your name is, always answer:  Puddin' Tain.  Ask me again I'll tell you the same.
 3. When you arrive home, always say: Home again, home again, jiggity jig.
 4. When wearing a tie, always tie a double Windsor.
 5. When camping, the oldest person must do all the work. 
 6. When you are young and working, you do not have to be smart, just smarter than your boss.
 7. Always remember God, family and work, in that order.  Also, move this to number 1.
 8. You may have friends in life, but only family will stand by you 'til the bitter end.  Move this to number 2.
 9. Never do today what you can put off 'til tomorrow.
10. If you see a tool you don't have, buy it.  You will need it sometime in your life.

As you can see from this list, my dad is also tender hearted and puts God and family first.  He's a good man, and I am ever thankful that God gave him to me as my father.  He and my mom gave my sister and me a stable, loving, Christian childhood.  He's a hard worker, he's thoughtful and generous to a fault.  I am blessed to call him dad!



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Remember You are Dust and to Dust You Shall Return

My day yesterday started with three-year-olds, learning about Ash Wednesday. We discussed Jesus' sacrifice, and how He made us from dust.  We told the kids that getting the ashes on our foreheads wouldn't hurt, and that it would be a great reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  And, as it does every year, it blessed my heart to watch these children come forward and receive the sign of the cross.

And tonight, my whole family (with my husband a just a few feet away) was together for worship. What a wonderful opportunity Ash Wednesday is to still the busyness of our lives.  During the service we heard about the three lenten practices:  fasting, prayer and helping those in need.  We pondered how often we "fall asleep" when Jesus asks us to wait and keep watch.  We sang songs and hymns calling us to a deeper understanding of Christ's saving work on the cross.  We received ashes on our foreheads that reminded us that "dust we are, and to dust we shall return".  And finally, most importantly, we received the Eucharist.  Christ's body and blood, given for us.

The weather was a little sketchy in our neck of the woods, snow blowing and gusting when we glanced out the sanctuary windows.  But inside the church, we sat with our church family, together and warm.  We were sitting in the back row (still the best choice for my family!), so I was able to see many of the people gathered for worship.  And I was overcome with my love for them -- our church family.  These people love us, support us, and and strengthen us in our daily Christian walk.  I am so thankful God placed us here, a place full of His servants.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bits and Pieces #17


  • I am a grammar freak.  I know this and I know it's annoying to others around me (it's annoying to me quite often!), but I can't help it.  Grammar mistakes usually jump out at me and drive. me. crazy.  Keeping that in mind, imagine me at the Mommy and Me class I teach.  We sing songs, play with instruments and dance a bunch (I'm super good at the dancing part - ha!).  Recently I was singing one of the songs with an egg shaker with the kids, and the verse ended like this:  "Oh what fun it is to shake my shaker oh so slow!"  And oh my word.  I couldn't handle that last word!  So as I sang it, I quietly changed the last word, though I'm sure those around me could hear me and think I'm a nut case.  But I had to do it.  I felt so much better singing it this way:  "Oh what fun it is to shake my shaker oh so slowly!".  Whew.
  • Our cute but naughty doggie, Shadow, loves to chomp on all manner of things, as you might have heard.  He loves to eat the tips off of nerf darts, gnaw on pencils, swallow bouncy balls whole and rip apart stuffed animals which have great sentimental value.  Yes, he loves to rip out the eyes and noses of stuffed animals, pull the stuffing out and basically kill the poor defenseless creatures.  But thankfully, my eldest daughter is a saint.  Whenever we catch him in the act (or happen upon a grisly murder scene), we take the stuffed animal directly up to my daughter's room, which doubles as an ER for dying stuffed animals.  Patiently, she restuffs their innards, stitches up their limbs and sews on eye patches when needed.  Seriously, she never complains about the frequent patients that just appear on her desk.  She's a gem, and my youngest son and daughter are reaping the benefits of her kindness.  And Shadow the naughty doggie keeps her in business.
  • Every Tuesday and Thursday, when I am off from work, I have a uniform:  jeans (or sweats if I'm just home), and a Thrivent T-shirt. I have about 5 of these T-shirts (I admit some of my teens' shirts have made their way into my drawer).  They are the most comfortable shirts on the planet.  I adore wearing them and find it rather annoying if I have to go somewhere or do something that necessitates me wearing something nicer than one of these shirts.  The older I get, the more I value comfort, and Thrivent T-shirts are my jam (hey - just because I look like a 40-year-old bum doesn't mean I can't talk like a teenager!
  • The weather in the midwest is crazy.  That is all.  


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I Could Not Ask For More

It was late summer, 1999.  I was about two months pregnant with our first child.  I recall vividly standing at our bedroom window, looking out on the birch tree that was right in front of it back then, and out to the yard below.  The weather was beautiful -- almost becoming a bit fall-ish, but not quite.  Warm, with a hint of fall to come.  I had new life growing within me.  I had a husband I cherished, a new home that we were making our own, and a wonderful church family who was welcoming us in those first new years of being there.  The world felt full of promise and I suddenly felt overwhelmed with excitement of what was ahead of us.  A popular song at the time, "I Could Not Ask For More", by Edwin McCain came to mind, and boy did I feel that sentiment.  I had so much!  I felt as if my cup was overflowing exponentially. A new baby -- a burgeoning family, which was what I had been dreaming of and praying for my whole life.  As the song replayed in my head, I felt like my heart might burst.


. . .these are the moments I thank God I'm alive,
These are the moments I'll remember all my life.
I've got all I've waited for,
And I could not ask for more.

So many joys had been afforded me at only 26!  There was so much on the horizon, and even though I couldn't quite imagine the life ahead, I had this overwhelming feeling that it would be beautiful.

That was more than 17 (!) years ago, and so many of those dreams have come true.  My family has continued to grow and bless me.  Of course, life is not perfect, and there have been trials, pain, loss, frustration and moments where I was ready to throw in the towel.  But as I look back on my young self, with so much ahead of me, it makes me smile.  I knew something great was about to happen - we were on the cusp of the family years, but I couldn't quite imagine how it would actually look. "I could not ask for more" was exactly how I felt.  That I had been blessed so greatly at the moment, how could I ask for anything more? But here I am, 17 plus years later, and we have humbly asked for more over the years as we have been open to children.  God continues to provide for us in ways I never could have imagined.
If I could go back and talk to that young gal of 26, I would tell her, "There is so much more ahead!  This feeling you're having - it is so real.  God will continue to provide for you in ways bigger than you could ever dream.  Yes, there will be some pain along the way, but God will work His glory through it.  His plans are always good, and He will walk with you every step of the way.  Enjoy these moments, soak them in, and understand:  life just keeps getting richer."