Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fudge and a Disclaimer

On Wednesday afternoon I made fudge for the first time, which considering I grew up in a family of sweet toothes seems almost unbelievable. My aunt had (has) the claim of making the best fudge. I remember going over to her house as a kid and staying up watching late night TV and eating fudge. Really, it doesn't get much better than late night TV and an incredible sugar rush. I'd watch her in the kitchen mixing up all sorts of things and then wait for it to boil, hoping for a taste from the mixing spoon before the fudge was ready. I found a recipe on the back of a container of marshmallow creme recently and used it today and I have burnt lips as proof that some things you never quite outgrow, like licking a spoon of hot fudge from the pan as it comes off the stove. And yes, it was good. Here's the recipe, if you are interested:

Fantastic Fudge: (that's the name the marshmallow creme gave, not me, although it IS fantastic)
2/3 cup margarine
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
7oz. marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla

Lightly grease a 9x13 pan. In a heavy 3 quart pan, combine margarine, sugar and evaporated milk. Bring mixture to a full boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. continue boiling over medium heat for five minutes of until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted; add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread into prepared pan and cool at room temperature; cut into squares.
(taken from the back of Hill Country Fare marshmallow creme)

Enjoy making this, it really is simple and tastes great.

Now, as for that appears I have been spreading false or inaccurate information on my blog! I know, I know, it seems very difficult to believe and I must say, in my defense, it was done innocently. My mother would like for you to know that, contrary to what I have written, we DID INDEED have a REAL christmas tree for several years until my dad got tired of finding Christmas needles in the carpet in April each year and they went with a fake tree. My older sister also corroborates this story as she definately remembers a real tree and can describe with clarity the green tree holder we used. I stand corrected. This is further proof that not all childhood memories (or lack thereof) can be fully trusted. So, sorry mom, I retract all statements discrediting us having a real christmas tree. Although, I am waiting to see the supposed "pictures" of said real christmas tree...

Have a "fantastic" day.
Take care,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Love!

Today is my sweet husband's birthday. Rather than post today about holiday woes or episodes at the Old Navy parking lot (see previous post if curious) I thought I'd take a moment and send out a special message for my hubby.

If you knew my husband (and some of you do) one of the things you'd pick up on pretty quick is how patient and kind he is, completely even keeled. (definately qualities that come in handy when you are an EM doctor). I've told people many times that if they were a fly on the wall observing our family, they'd see my husband exactly the same in private as he is in public. Me? Not always so. John works hard, plays hard and always makes the kids and I his number one priority. He loves God and genuinely likes others and always tries to do the right thing.
I am a blessed woman to have such an amazing husband and father. I thank God daily for him and don't take what we have for granted.

Happy Birthday Love! You are amazing! I love you.

Take care,

Monday, December 15, 2008

This will go down as the December I lost it in the Old Navy parking lot

Let me just preface this story with two bits of background info I feel are relevant to the story:

1. One of my pet peeves involves people who do not place their shopping carts back into the stalls in the parking lots at stores.

2. I live in Corpus Christi. It is a very windy city.

On Sunday I took the kids to Old Navy after church to find a pair of pj's for my daughter since today was "Pajama Day" and she has outgrown all of her pj's. Shopping at the store was fine. The lines were not too terribly long. We were in and out in very little time. We left the store and walked to our car. Since our van was side swiped at the movie theater parking lot over Thanksgiving break I have been parking as far away from the stores and cars as possible. (As a side note: the side swiping story has a very happy ending involving a kind older gentleman who took responsibility for hitting our car and whose insurance is paying to repair our van. It's a long story and maybe I'll post about it another time.)

When I got in our car the closest vehicle to mine was a blue SUV 4 or 5 spaces to my right. There were two younger women who were with the vehicle. The driver got in the car and then the other girl emptied their cart into the back of the SUV and then LEFT HER CART in the empty parking space on the drivers side. I proceeded to begin to back up and as I was their empty cart started rolling directly toward my passenger side of the van, in what felt like slow motion. The empty cart hit my car and I stopped mid backing up. Let me say that at that moment I just jumped out of the car and two things were going through my mind:

1. These ladies are going to get out and apologize for the cart and will put the cart away.

2. The cart has to be moved so I can drive away.

I jumped out of the car, got the cart and headed to the SUV. As I got to the SUV (which was beginning to back up since they SAW THE ENTIRE INCIDENT) I said "Your cart, you need to get your cart, it hit my car." They looked at each other and I have no idea exactly what they said to each other, but the jist of it was...Let's get the heck out of here! They continue to back up and by this time I am standing inches away from the passenger window and I am becoming more and more angry as I realize that they have no intentions of taking responsibility for their actions and are in fact going to leave. So I continue on, this time I am poking at the window while saying, "YOUR CART! YOUR CART HIT MY CAR!!" as I then point from them to my car. The girl in the passenger seat will not even look at me. She just stares straight ahead. I say it again louder, "YOUR CART!! YOUR CART HIT MY CAR!!" The driver then looks at me, gives me a half smirk/half grin and then drives away. I stood there in utter disbelief at such blatant disregard for another human being. I wanted to jump in front of their SUV and put my hands on their hood to stop it or jump on their bumper to try and stop them. I just could not believe it.

Here's my thinking: If you are able to push a cart around a store then surely you are able to take one extra minute and put it away in a cart stall. Down here in Corpus it is so windy that any cart left alone is bound to blow away and more than likely it will blow into someone else's car.

I guess that thing that upset me most was the blatant disregard for someone else's property and the complete lack of accepting responsibility for ones actions.

Now I am left in a quandry: Where exactly is the safest place to park in a parking lot? Any suggestions? Any personal experiences of your own?

After I told my husband about the incident he told me, "Julie, that's how people get killed in parking lots." I guess I never gave it much thought what danger I could have placed myself and my kids in when I got out of the van. I was completely expecting the people to do the right thing, like I would. I have learned my lesson. Next time I will just grab my camera, take pictures of the vehicle as they are leaving and write down their license plate. Hopefully though, there won't be a next time.

I think I am also going to avoid stores on the weekends during the month of December! Hope all is well with you! I will post more "happier" stories later.
Take care,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just Checking In

Hey there! Just wanted to say "Hi!" and apologize for no new post today. These next two weeks have enough activities going on to fill a month! I am working on a couple of new posts and plan to have them up later this week when I am not at a Christmas program, class party or field trip to the Nutcracker, just to name a few of the activities for the week!

Take care,

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"The Best Night Ever!"

This weekend has been pretty relaxing and just what we needed. Friday night the kids had their best friends come over after school. The girls got busy making Christmas cut out cookies and quickly got covered in flour. The boys, meanwhile, alternated between Wii Mario Super Sluggers and baseball in the backyard. I had book club Friday night and had a great evening. This months book was, "A dog named Christmas". Cute story.

Saturday I woke up with a head cold so the kids and I stayed home all day while John worked. After a week of school the kids love to just hang out at home and it ended up being extremely necessary and fun. We were originally supposed to go to a birthday party, but so much for that.

Sunday we stayed home as well. John had to work and Pete woke up with a cold. After John got home in the afternoon we piled into the car and drove the one mile from our house to the beach. It was so much fun. The sky was a beautiful blue, the waves were crashing and the temperature felt like a spring evening. The kids ran around climbing up and down the sand dunes. Then we drove over five miles down the beach towards the National Seashore in an attempt to get a view of a raging fire that's been burning the past several days in the grassy area. We couldn't get too close but could see the smoke billowing in the sky. Last night we watched from our deck the orange flames in the distance. On our drive back we found these sand dunes back away that were 20-30 feet high. The kids kept running up and down the dunes and rolling down them. Once after Pete came down he yelled, "This is totally awesome!" Jack and Ellie both said it was, "The best night EVER!" I have to agree. We had so much fun yelling and laughing and running in the sand. We finally drove home when it was dark out and we were completely covered in sand. After baths and dinner we spent the rest of the evening playing board games: Guess Who, Candyland and Jr. Monopoly. Who could ask for more? I feel blessed and grateful and don't take for granted for one minute fun family evenings.

Take care,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friday's Favorites

Yes, I am back with Friday's Favorites! If you are new to this you can read about it here.
Last week my husband and I went on a date, a real date that included dinner and live music. Jon McLaughlin was in town and I jumped at the chance to listen to him live. He's on tour to promote his recently released second album. (If you've never heard of him you can check him out at Some people know him b/c one of his songs was featured in the movie "Enchanted" and he performed it in the movie as well) His first album, "Indiana" has been on almost constant rotation on my ipod this past year. He is an amazing piano player, but not only that, he managed to make the concert rock while playing the piano along with the rest of the band. He ended the concert with "Industry" and for his encore did "Human" and "Beautiful Disaster" which are all off his first album and were by far my favorite songs, along with "Beating my Heart". He played at a place here in town called Brewster Street which has a restaurant and an outside open patio with picnic tables and a stage. Thinking about this concert made me think of other concerts I have been to, so today's Friday Favorites is a list of some of my all time favorite concerts, in no particular order:
1. Over the Rhine: This was the first date and concert my husband and I went to. Over the Rhine was playing in Cincinnati, Ohio (which is where they are from) at a place called "Sudsy Malone's". Sudsy's was a bar/laundromat and if you brought in a load of laundry to do they would waive the cover charge. I remember the concert was so good and I was in heaven just being there with John, great, great memories.
2. John Prine: I saw John Prine with my husband in Des Moines, Iowa probably 10+ years ago. I remember Todd Snider opened up for him. John Prine is such an amazing story teller through his songs. I remember yelling out "Lake Marie" (which is one of my top 10 songs of all time) after every song and yes, he did do the song and it was just amazing.
3. Nanci Griffith: John and I saw Nanci in Ohio a long ago. I remember this concert as just being fun. I love her voice, love her music and the crowd was into it as well. It was a bit of a smaller venue and it just felt pretty intimate.
4. Counting Crows: I saw them at Polaris in Columbus, Ohio. Polaris is an outdoor place. It was a beautiful night and my sister came with John and I. We were on the grassy area where you just sit down on blankets. I remember two things about this concert, Adam Duritz, the lead singer was just mesmerizing...he did this probably 10 minute version of "Round Here" that was incredible. The second thing I remember is that this couple came around and asked if they could sit on our blanket with us. We said sure, so they sat for awhile and right away it became apparent that they were completely drunk. After a few minutes the girl just leaned over and puked all over the corner of our blanket! They both apologized and then got up to leave. My husband pulled out his swiss army knife, cut off the stinky puke part, threw it away and Voila! we continued to enjoy the rest of the concert!
5. Jars of Clay: This group is one of my favorite bands. I saw them in Iowa last summer. It was an outside concert and it was fun. I saw them last December when they were on their Christmas tour with Third Day. My friend Yvonne and I waited in line to meet them. They were a group of guys that I could picture my husband and I hanging out with and having over to dinner.
Other great concerts...
REM: Saw them in Ames, Iowa and I remember Michael Stipe stood with his back to the audience. I say it was almost the entire concert, my husband says it was not that long. Any way, the concert was good.
Chris Rice: Saw him at a fair and he performed outside. It was a perfect summer night and it was lots of fun!
Chris Tomlin, Jeremy Camp, etc. Lots of great times
Well, that's it for now. What about you? Do you like going to concerts? Any favorites or good memories? Tell me about it, I'd love to hear!
Take care,
P.S. I asked my husband his favorites and he seconded the Over the Rhine, REM, Jars of Clay and added: Lenny Kravitz, The Rolling Stones, Bare Naked Ladies and the Ichthus festival.


Just wanted to let you know we are now down to 49 days until the premiere of LOST. Not that I am counting or anything. You can do a google search of "LOST season 5 trailers" and watch several of the new trailers for the upcoming season. Did you read the article last week about which dead LOST characters are coming back this season? Could it be Claire or Charlie or Jack's dad? I don't know and I can't wait to find out. Is there anyone you would like to see come back? Personally, I wouldn't mind to have Charlie back.

Just to let you know....I will be back with Friday's Favorites beginning tomorrow. Hope you can stop by.

Take care,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

December Advent

Kristin at posted recently about a family advent calendar for December she created full of meaningful and fun activities her family will do during this month. It's a great idea and you can read about it here.

I have adapted it for our family and it has been a lot of fun in the few days we've participated. What about you? Do you have any kind of advent calendar or some other way to count down until Christmas? I would love to hear about it.

Take care,


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Dilemma

Around this time of year my husband and I have what can be classified as one of our biggest "discussions" of the year. It's not about money or santa or where to spend the holidays but rather it concerns a somewhat "family tradition".

The Christmas family newsletter.

Do we write it this year or skip? If we've moved during the year or had a baby then yes, which for a while was an every year occurence since we moved and had a new child pretty often. If we are going to do a letter, who is going to write it? My husband says I use too many exclamation marks in my letters! And that I make our letters sound sooooo dramatic! Imagine that!! I say that my husbands version makes us sound dull like we could be a page out of one of his medical journals. (DISCLAIMER: Not all medical journals are dull. Some are in fact rather interesting and gross with their pictures, just ask my kids and myself)

What to do what to do? I don't mind writing the letter, I just don't want to address all the envelopes. Also, since I blog I don't feel the need to condense our last year into a letter. If you want to know about our lives this past year, just read my blog. We may skip the family newsletter this year. I will keep you informed concerning our newsletter dilemma. What about you? Do you write a letter, send cards, email a letter, do nothing or call people? Let me know.
Take care,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting a Christmas Tree, South Texas Style

When I was a kid my family never had a real Christmas tree. For whatever reason we always had a fake tree. Do not get me wrong, it was still a big deal, to get it out and decorate it, make the paper chains and put on a popcorn and cranberry chain.

When I got married however, I insisted on getting a real Christmas tree, which was fine with my husband since that is what he grew up doing. There is just something about the smell of a real Christmas tree. (I won't bore you with the details of how I ruined our first vacuum cleaner by assuming the needles could easily be swept up. Let's just say I was wrong.)

In Iowa where we lived after we were first married, we went to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree.

In the Bronx we bought a tree from one of the corner lots selling them. Another year we lived in the Bronx, we brought a tree home from Vermont after we had gone skiing. I can't help but rabbit trail for a minute as I remember that trip and tree because of a speeding ticket my husband got in Vermont. It was absolutely crazy. We were driving a Subaru wagon loaded down with skies on top, suitcases inside, our son who was 5 months old at the time and a huge Christmas tree tied to the top of the Subaru. We were not a vision of speed. Yet we were pulled over. I am still convinced it was because of our NY license plates, but that is another story.

When we moved to Ohio we began again the tradition of chopping down our tree at a nearby Christmas farm. It always seemed like it was the coldest day of the year on whatever day we went to get our tree, which is partly why I don't have too many pictures documenting our tree excursions. That and the fact that up until this past summer I have been horrible about taking pictures. It just was not a habit of mine. It would be difficult to get the kids in the same picture or I'd forget our camera completely. It's not just me, my husband is just as bad as I am. My dear friend Yvonne had to take pictures of our son's 7th birthday party last year with her phone and email them to me because we did not bring any kind of camera to the party.

Anyway, moving to Texas has been a big adjustment, particularly around the holidays. For us it means buying a real tree from a corner lot in town, while we are wearing shorts, unless of course we wanted to drive 14 hours to New Mexico. My mind still can't reconcile hearing songs like, "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song" with the fact that it will be warm and no snow. In fact, on Friday night when we got our tree it was 77 degrees out.

I am looking forward to experiencing some winter weather when we head to Iowa for Christmas. Until then the only cold or snow I am going to experience is in my dreams, or maybe at HEB grocery since I think their thermostat must be set at 42 degrees.

What about you? Real or fake or no Christmas tree? Let me know!

Take care,


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble, Gobble!

I have two jokes for your amusement today, brought to you by our 8 year old son Jack:

1. "What did the bird say when it found a good bargain?"
Cheap! Cheap!

2. "What does the Pasta family say when they go away?"
Pasta la vista!

I think our son has a future in writing jokes, don't you think?!

Moving on in our Thanksgiving entertainment...let me give you some quotes from my husband, as published on the front page of our local paper, concerning potential medical emergencies you might face on this dangerous holiday:*
"Minor burns from cooking the turkey. More serious burns can result from cooking on the stove...." ( Would you care for a side of blisters with your turkey?)
"Abdominal pain, often from overeating, which can mimic symptoms of a heart attack" (Help! I think Uncle Joe ate too much turkey and his gut is going to explode!)
"Football injuries such as sprained ankles..." (Just let the professionals play football, ok?)
"Car accidents injuries..." (Don't eat turkey and drive)

*Everything in "( )" are my quotes, not the newspaper or my husband, just so we are clear!

I think they left out a few things like all the domestic cases that come in from loved ones who never see each other and decide to get together on this day of thanks and let by gones be by gones until someone drinks too much and starts saying ugly things and the fists start swinging!

On a more serious note, I do have many things to be grateful for today and everyday, my faith in God and salvation which gives me hope, my husband and kids who love me faithfully, friends to laugh and spend time with, a place to live, good health and the freedoms we enjoy thanks to those who diligently serve in the military and place their lives in danger on a daily basis so I can go about my daily life with out fear. I am grateful.

Have a great day, just don't eat too much and end up in the emergency room!

Take care,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hard to Imagine

Recently I read a review for the movie "Call + Respond". (you can read the review here)In a nutshell, this movie is a documentary created to highlight the plight of slavery around the world. I was shocked to learn that there are more slaves in the world today than ever before. Check out the review and check out the link to the movie. The preview is pretty disturbing. One of the quotes from the movie that caught my attention was, "Justice is what love looks like in public." Think on that for a while.

This reminds me of a story I read in our local paper recently about a 13 year old girl being stoned to death in Somalia. I looked the story up on Amnesty International. You can read the story here. I am always shocked at the Barbaric ways we decide to execute people, our own country included. What got to me though, was the part about the spectators. 1,000 people watched this poor, helpless child meet her death by means of stoning. The article said that someone who ran to her aid was shot dead. It also stated that nurses were on hand to check her and the first time they checked on her she was still alive so she was placed in a hole in the ground and the stoning continued. This is just heartbreaking.

I am not writing these stories to depress us. It's just that somtimes, often times, I get so caught up in my life that I am unaware of what is happening around the world. Then, when I become aware of all the pain and suffering that is taking place, I feel overwhelmed to know what to do or how. What difference can one person make, right? Wrong. One person can make a difference. How? Start slow. One thing you can do is sponser a child through Compassion International. ( Compassion International is a christian organization that seeks to provide the basics like health care, education, clothing and food for impoverished children around the world through monthly sponsers like you and me. For $32 a month you and your family can make a difference and give a child hope. Recently a group of bloggers for Compassion took a trip to the Dominican Republic. They were able to see first hand what a difference sponserships are having in the lives of these kids. You can read about their amazing stories here. I may never conquor the world, but I can make a difference, no matter how small it may seem.

Take care,


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I am a DORK!

A while ago I was talking to my husband about something I read concerning the International Justice Mission and the work they do. In all seriousness my husband said to me, "Do they ever join up with the International Justice League?"

This comment went straight over my head. I looked at him and repeated what he said, only as a question, "The International Justice League?" trying to place who the International Justice League was and what work they do.

"Yeah," he said, "you know Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman...the International Justice League!"

We both started cracking up. It was quite funny.

Yeah, I can be a bit slow like that!

Take care,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Little bit of this, a little bit of that and some thoughts on Thanksgiving

Hello there!

Could you give me just a second while I wipe the dust off the keyboard?
I guess it has been a little while since I last posted. My typing and my brain both feel a bit rusty.
What is new with you? Can you believe Thanksgiving is Thursday?

Here is a random list of things from the last couple of weeks:
1. I was in an accident. I am ok, the other person is ok. The cars? Not quite ok. I backed into someones door while they were in the drive through line at Chick-Fil-A. Did not see them at all. Thankfully it was an incredibly kind and gracious military woman. She was in her uniform and everything. Turns out she grew up about 20 minutes from me. I apologized profusely and made a general fool out of myself about the whole situation. I am thankful no one was hurt and our insurance will take care of it all!

2. I cooked and participated in two of the kids Thanksgiving feasts. Which reminds me...I have always loved Chick-Fil-A, nothing beats their sweet tea and sandwiches. Their coleslaw is tasty too in my opinion. But now I love them even more after they generously donated 200 nuggets for my daughters kindergarten feast. I don't know the exact dollar value of 200 nuggets, but I am pretty sure it is not cheap! Way to go Chick-fil-A.

3. We bought Kung Fu Panda and have watched it approximately 20 times. We also bought Charlie Brown's Christmas and Thanksgiving DVD's too and have watched them about 20 times as well!

4. My younger sister in Ohio gave birth to a little girl on the 10th. My daughter now has a girl cousin to play with and help her fend off all the boys in the family!

5. This week the kids have no school! Yeah! No packing lunches, homework and the kids can stay up later and sleep in later! My in-laws are here which means my husband and I may even get to go out on a date! In fact, tomorrow my husband and I are going to go on a date and out to a Jon McLaughlin concert! Should be fun!

Thoughts on Thanksgiving:
On Sunday our pastor spoke from Psalms 107. He talked about the tough times most have been experiencing lately; economy downturn, devastating affects from hurricane Ike, illnesses in the church family and deaths. He talked about how it came make one want to say "Forget it!" when it comes to Thanksgiving. He posed the questions I am sure lots have been asking lately, Why should I celebrate Thanksgiving and What can I be thankful for? His answer? God's unfailing love. Not matter what has happened and is happening, God's love for us never wavers and if it is all we can be thankful for, it is enough.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Psalms 107:31: "Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men." (NIV)

Take care,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

January 21st, 2009

Do any of you know the enormous significance of the date, January 21st, 2009? Just in case you have not heard, it is in fact the premiere date for the new season of LOST! Have you put it on your calendar? If not, go do it now. Do not delay. It is that important. We have been anxiously awaiting the news of LOST's return. Rumors of a premiere date floating across the internet can now be put to rest. After waiting and waiting since the end of the season last May, the end is in sight. 73 days to be exact. Not that I am counting or anything, I'm just saying, fans need to be informed.

Oh yeah, did you hear how long the premiere is? THREE hours. Yes, that is correct. 3 hours. One hour to catch everyone up followed by a two hour premiere.

Needless to say I am giddy with excitement. All we have to do is get through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. No problem, right?!

Take care,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You May Want to Do this

Kate from The Accidental Tourist is hosting The Great Ornament Exchange over at her blog. You have until the 14th of November to register in order to participate. I do not know about you, but I love Christmas and I love ornaments! This is a fun way to interact with other bloggers during the holidays! Once you sign up Kate will email you all the information you need. While you are there, check out her blog. She is a great writer and has one cute little guy, if I do say so myself.

I will hopefully post more this week. Even if I write two posts this week it will be more than I have done the past couple of weeks!

Last week I subbed in my the kindergarten and I am headed there tomorrow also. Thursday night I came home from subbing and promptly went to bed at 9pm. I was so exhausted! My hat is off to working moms who did this every day and take care of their families and keep the home running. You go moms! You deserve a vacation.

Last night my son was invited to a birthday party at the home of one of the boys in his class at school. I have never seen anything quite like it. They had three blow up bouncy toys in the back yard, a snow cone machine, a cotton candy machine, popcorn machine, hot dogs and a full buffet for the parents. They also did a money booth. The kids would go one at a time into this booth full of dollar bills. Someone would turn on a blower and each child would have 10 seconds to grab as many dollars as possible. Jack grabbed $11 and Pete grabbed $8. Who knew we could go to a party and come home with more money than before? Needless to say, the kids had a blast and were very sorry to see the party come to an end.

Hope you have a great week!
Take care,

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Phenomenons

A while ago I posted several parenting phenomenons and you all gave me some of your best parenting phenomenons. They were great. Well, the other day I was in the grocery with my youngest when I ran into my fitness instructor. He happens to own the gym as well. Let me give you some background. He's the one who kicked my butt for 4 months while I did his 5am boot camp two to three times a week in getting prepared for the 39 mile Avon walk for breast cancer I did back in April. He also led the evening boot camp I attended in May and the beach boot camp I did in June and July. Then August came and school started and I went on a trip to NYC and blah, blah, blah. The short of it is, I haven't been to any boot camps since July and I have not even stepped a foot into the gym since the end of July. To top it all off, the day I ran into him at the grocery I had not even showered yet, my hair was thrown into a pony tail and my four year old son was eating that dreaded food all personal trainers loathe...a chocolate iced doughnut. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow my entire pathetic self right then and there. He was kind and get a load of this, told me that since I had been such a faithful attendee for all those months I could do November's boot camp for free! I didn't know whether I should hug him or cry. But I am going to take advantage of the generous offer and drag my rear back to boot camp. Forget my pride, I will crawl back in for the free class. All that to lead me to my "phenomenons of life":

1. Why does it always seem like I run into somebody I know on the days when I haven't showered, my hair is a mess and my clothing choices are less than flattering?

2. Why do my best hair days occur when I am at home all day where no one but the dog sees me?

3. It never fails that on the days I get up early, shower and get dressed, the kids will sleep in later than ever.

4. How is it that I can come up with some of the most clever and witty writing when I have no pen, paper or computer around? For example, when I am in the shower and by the time I get out of the shower, poof, the thought is gone.

5. Why do men lose weight so much faster than women? All they practically have to do to lose weight is just decide to lose weight. It is so unfair.

6. Why do tele marketers use a local number when calling to leave some crazy pre recorded message, as if they know I will answer the phone if I see a local number on the caller ID?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treating Texas Style

Here are a few pics from our Halloween here in Texas.
Yes, that is a pony my daughter is on. No, we didn't go door to door for candy on ponies. Instead we went to a festival at a local church in town. It was fun.
(The funny teeth and glasses came home from kindergarten in my daughter's goody bag. They crack us up!)
Where we live there are very few kids and mostly "winter Texans" or retired folks. Which translated means- lots of walking for very little candy!
So, we joined friends and had a great time playing games, eating junk food and the kids getting plenty of candy as well as pony rides. There was one game the kids did that reminded me that all is well in our world when we live somewhere that still participates in a time honored Halloween tradition...bobbing for apples. Honestly, I was surprised to see it. All I could think of was all the germs getting into the water from the hundreds of kids who bobbed for apples and got their spit in their too! But hey, we all need to live a little and risk contracting the flu, right?! My oldest did the bobbing game twice and even said it was his favorite of the night.
Did you all ever play the game as a kid where you tied either an apple or marshmallow to a string, hung it from the ceiling, put your hands behind your back and tried to grab the apple or marshmallow with your teeth? Ahh...good memories.
Hope you all had a great day.
Take care,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yikes! That was depressing!

I know I have been overwhelmed and busy lately. I know I have felt tired lately from everything. I just didn't realize how incredibly depressing I sounded until I read my last post! So sorry about the melancholy writing. Next time, feel free to tell me to get a grip! Hopefully I didn't depress you all away from my blog!

So, here's what's on my mind lately. The last three movies I have seen in the last month are...
1. Beverly Hills Chihuahua
2. High School Musical 3
3. The Secret Life of Bees

I believe they all have something in common. What, you might ask, does a movie about a dog, a musical about teenagers and a coming of age movie have in common?

They all speak to our deepest need in life which is to be loved. Have you seen these movies? And let me just clarify...I have kids. I didn't pick the first two movies. (Although if truth be told I did not mind at all going to see HSM3 and in fact will probably take the kids to see it again) I also found the Beverly Hills Chihuahua surprisingly tolerable. But as I was watching all the movies I couldn't help but think about the message and how it comes across to us. Doesn't everyone want to be loved? And don't we all on some level, whether we admit it or not, want to experience some amazing relationship here on the earth? To be loved completely and accepted unconditionally. To know and be known. To matter to someone. OK, maybe I am being a little dramatic, I think you get the point.

Take Lilly from The Secret Life of Bees. She's a 14 year old girl who through some traumatic circumstances finds herself growing up without her mom and being raised by a drunk and abusive father. They live in the South, it's the early 60's and Lilly runs away with her housekeeper. They end up at a home where the sisters who live there sell honey and Lilly thinks somehow they are connected to her mom. Early on she makes the comment how, she would give anything to be loved. At one point she talks about the void left in her heart by her mom. Basically, she just wants to be loved and feel accepted. (I'm not going to review the movie here, but let me say, I loved it. I'd like to see it again.)

Then there's Troy and Gabriella in HSM3. In love and in high school. Trying to figure out what the future holds. Remember back to your days in HS. It was pretty much the same...sports, good grades, wanting to be in love, wishing for the future, etc.

I guess what I am saying is this, everyone has the need to be loved and the only one who can love us completely is God. Anyone else and anything else just doesn't cut it and never will. It's not supposed to. And if you are anything like me, I am learning this ever so slowly. I find in my own life I usually surrender to God's all enveloping love as a last resort thinking it can not be enough, there must be more or something else.

It is enough, though.

Here's the bottom line. People fail. They disappoint. They hurt us and even wound us deeply. But the truth is they were only meant to be a guide for us. Granted, some have done a much better job at guiding us towards the only one who can completely satisfy than others, but people were never intended to be our all in all. More like the icing on the cake. The extra, the over the top after we are already satisfied. And after the dust settles, at some point we have to take others "off the hook" of unrealistic expectations, unmet needs, etc and see others for who they are...broken individuals like us on the same road to redemption, who are in our lives to teach us lessons about God's love, not to replace the love that only God can give. Once we release others from this impossible task, we are free. Free to see others for who they are and what they have to show us.

Am I saying the movies are wrong? Absolutely not. They're entertainment. They tell stories. They teach life lessons. I just want to keep in my mind that the solutions they offer may not be the right answer and more than likely will never offer me the only thing that can completely satisfy, and that's God. What about you? Do you think this is true? Do you find yourself, like me, searching at times for that next thing that may somehow complete you? Have you found anything that satisfies like Jesus? Do you think He is enough? I would love to discuss this more and hope I am not the only one who struggles with this!

Take care,

PS...have any of you seen the preview for LOST?! I am so excited and cannot wait for January to come! Yippee!

PSS...Thanks for coming by my blog and always leaving such kind comments for me. It really means alot. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"I AM"

Hey there!

It has been awhile. Somehow life just got a hold of me for the past week and would not let go. I am sure it is no coincidence I have been overwhelmed with "life" lately now that I am working on being intentional.

Anyone else feeling challenged by life lately?

I am so there. Worn out physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Sick kids, birthday parties, field trips, friends who have recently lost jobs, illness in the church, friends who have lost a parent, troubled economy, Texans recovering from hurricane Ike, upcoming election. I could go on and on. Heavy issues that drain.

It is tough times for everyone.

This is what I know though and I am placing my hope in this truth.

God is still God. He is on His throne and He is unchanging and unmoveable.

He is "I AM". I will sleep at night clinging to that truth.

Listen to this song by Nichole Nordeman. It is beautiful and I have been listening to it quite a bit recently. It's called, "I Am". Hope you enjoy it.

Let me know how you are doing lately.

Take care,


Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday's Favorites

The other day I was praying whining to God about the weather. (Anyone else care to admit, like me, that sometimes your prayers are more like whining than a conversation with God?) I grew up in the Midwest. The Midwest has 4 seasons. All different. I have now lived in South Texas for almost 3 years. The South has pretty much the exact same weather, give or take 20-25 degrees. My mind can not wrap itself around the fact that although the calendar says October, which in my mind equals cool weather, leaves changing, sweaters, fires, etc. the weather here equals summer, as in 92 degree summer weather. In the middle of October. This just doesn't seem right. I was talking to God about this. How I could really use a break from this hot weather. Something, anything a bit cooler. I was starting to get depressed about it. Guess what came through last night? Yes, a Texas kind of cool front. Guess what the high temperature was today? 71 degrees! TWENTY degrees cooler! Noticeably cooler. So much so that as I am writing this I have all the windows open, I'm wearing a fleece and I am playing Christmas music! That's Texas weather for you!

Thank you Lord for loving me enough to listen to my pathetic whining and graciously lavishing South Texas with a break in the weather. You are so kind.

Anyway, for Friday's Favorites I thought I would talk about favorite things about fall. Please feel free to add any you can think of. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

1. sweaters
2. fire in the fireplace
3. opening up the windows and airing out the house
4. pumpkins
5. cool temperatures
6. leaves changing
7. hay rides
8. wearing jeans and not roasting
9. reading a book while covered in a blanket
10.flannel pj's

What are your favorite fall thing? Let me know.

Take care,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

He Always Keeps His Promises

Today as I was pulling into the parking lot at my kids school I was greeted with the rainbow you see in the pictures above.
Isn't it amazing?
What a reminder to me that God always keeps His promises, all of them and because of that I can trust Him 100%. His thoughts are not my thoughts. His timing is not my timing, but "God is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness.He is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."(2 Peter 3:9 NIV)
Sometimes He speaks to me in a still small voice. Other times He shouts out His love for me in big, bold ways. Maybe today, you like me, need to be reminded of Him in an unmistakeable way.
"The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made." (Psalm 145:13b)
Take care,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We've Taken This To an Entirely New Level

Not too long ago my oldest son (he is 8) said to me at the dinner table, "Mom, guess what kind of hat I want."
I replied with the obvious answer (obvious in our house), "An Aggie's hat."
To my surprise he said, "No."
To which I replied, "What kind of hat do you want?"
His answer, "A Longhorn's hat."
Me, in a shocked voice, " A Longhorn's hat?"
"Yes" he replied, "a hat with the Longhorn's upside down and sawed off."

Oh my, oh my! Yes, we have taken this to an entirely new level!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This will not win me the "Mother of the Year" award

I am embarrassed to write about this story. It shows a side of me which is very real and flawed as a mom, the side you don't want others to see. I mean, don't we all want others to think that somehow we have it all together? We never mess up. We always respond appropriately. You know the part. But it's not reality. The reality is I am flawed and human and mess up and blow it, sometimes more often than not. However, God is so good and He is continually teaching me, albeit through humbling circumstances, what it takes to become more and more like Him which in turn makes me more and more like the mom I am supposed to be. So, there you have it.

On Friday my four year old son Petey and I left home to run a couple of errands before picking up the other kids at school. (Jack and Ellie) He asked if he could bring a DVD to watch in the van and if he could load the DVD himself. I said yes he could, BUT you have to WAIT until mommy turns on the van AND says it's ok (those two points will become critical to the story)

Here's a couple of things you need to know before I proceed with the rest of the story:
1. We ended up buying a new van on Monday. (the van that is talked about up above). A 2005 Nissan Quest which we bought for a great deal. It has very low miles, very well taken care of and it came with a DVD player, which we never had in our VW Eurovan. Having a DVD in the van was like a God send since my family lives in Ohio and my husbands family lives in Iowa. Considering the price of airplane tickets for a family of 5, suffice to say, we drive almost everywhere. "How great that the kids can watch movies on long road trips!" and "This is so awesome!" were two of the most repeated phrases in our house this past week between my husband and I and the kids.

2. Our Volkswagen van, the one for which this post was named after, was still in the shop being repaired. 5 and 1/2 weeks after we dropped it off.

In a (to us) van and new DVD player.

So, I am getting in the van to turn it on, after I clearly told Petey to wait for me and as I am turning on the van I turn around to look at him and I hear him say proudly, "I did it! I put the DVD in!" I look at the DVD player and its saying "No disc" and then it hits me HE PUT THE DVD IN UPSIDE DOWN!! This is the part of the story that gets embarrassing for me to write about because to put it simply, I started going down hill from that point on.

I immediately start pushing the eject button in an attempt to see if the dvd will somehow come out. All the while I begin muttering under my breath, "I cannot believe this is happening! I cannot believe this is happening!" After several futile attempts to remove the dvd, the sad truth sinks in...the van that we've owned for four days now has a dvd stuck in the player rendering it completely useless.

Four days-broken-no dvd player.

I was upset. Mainly, two reasons come to mind.
1. My son disobeyed me
2. We now owned a van with a broken dvd player.
I started saying things to Petey like, "I can't believe you didn't wait for mommy like I told you to" and "Our dvd player is broken now because you didn't obey mommy" and " I am very angry at you now" and "Do you feel bad that our dvd is broken?"

Oh my goodness...I am so embarrassed as I am writing this. How I wish I could take back my words. But I can't and I didn't and I kept up the phrases above for several minutes.

Then, I called my husband because what says "Hey! I'm angry! Let me ruin your day at work honey so you can be mad too!" like a call from your upset wife? I spent a few minutes with him rehashing what had happened making sure I was talking loud enough for my son to hear me just in case he missed the part that I was mad at him. My husband listened for a couple of minutes and then responded with, "Well, so much for that. Got to go. More patients to see. Bye" (he's an EM doctor)

By this time I was at the mail store on the island. It's a cute little coffee shop, gift shop and mailing store all in one. I stopped to mail a package and honestly I was still in a huff. Telling Petey to "Come on!" and "Hurry up!" We got into the store, stood in line and it was right there that the Holy Spirit started doing a much needed number on my angry little upset heart. "So, I take it this is how you want me to start treating you the next time you sin? Going on and on, letting everyone know how upset you are and beating you over the head with your sin repeatedly?"


In my mind I started thinking "No, no that's not how I want to be treated with my sin. I want to be forgiven and shown some grace." but then I went on "Isn't it ok to be upset? I mean it was brand new?"

"So let me get this straight...what you're saying is you value stuff over people so much so that you're willing to break their spirit to make your point?"


The conviction fell hard.

"Is that what I've done?''
And, yeah, basically I had. Did Petey need reprimanded for disobeying? Yes. Is it good to be responsible and good stewards of our belongings? Yes. But never at the expense of hurting someones spirit and valuing stuff over relationships. I had gone overboard and I needed to make it right with my son and I wanted to. The Holy Spirit had done his job in effectively convicting me and causing me to repent.

I mailed my package and Petey and I headed out the door. I said to him, "Petey, I am so sorry I yelled at you so much about the dvd player. I love you so much more than any silly old dvd player." He looked at me and softly replied, "If a child says they hate their mommy two times will they have to go in their high chair for a time out?"

I just wanted to cry. (side note about the high chair... the high chair is where Pete goes if he gets in trouble and needs a time out. It's a basic, plain plastic IKEA high chair and could probably hold all our kids)

I stopped in my tracks, got down and looked him in the eye and said, "Oh Petey, is that what you feel right now?" He said, "A little." I picked him up and squeezed him tight and said, "I am so sorry Petey. Mommy loves you and I am sorry I used such angry words with you. Will you forgive me?" He put his arms tight around my neck and said, "Yes. I didn't really hate you either!" I said, " I know, sweetie, you were sad and had hurt feelings." By this time we were to the van and I sat him in his car seat. As I was hooking him in he grabbed me by the neck and pulled me close and said, " I'm never going to let you go!" I hugged him back and said, "Good!"

Ahh, isn't forgiveness a wonderful thing? The freedom that comes from admitting what a mess up you've been and the restoration that follows. It is absolutely worth the humbling and pain. Aren't you glad, like I am, that God doesn't treat us and our sins the way we treat others? He forgives and He brings it up no more. When He convicts us and chastises us it is completely out of love not anger or condemnation. Oh that I would be more and more like him each day. As I am sitting here writing this I can hear my oldest singing the chorus, "His grace is enough. His grace is enough. His grace is enough for me." Yes, it is indeed.

Lord, may I be more of a grace giver than I have been known to do in the past.

We all could use a little more grace in our lives, don't you think?

Oh's the amazing follow up to this whole saga. On Saturday my husband went out to the van to see if he could get the dvd out and guess what? Petey had missed the slot altogether and my husband found the dvd wedged on top of the dvd player under the seat. It was never broken!

Take care,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday's's a dump

*Updated to add: I originally had this written for last week but opted to post something else that was on my heart. Hope you enjoy it one week later.

Hey there!

Did I get your attention with the title for today? Let me do a little explaining. Oh yeah, in case you are new to Friday's Favorites you can read all about it here.

This week's favorite is a recipe for a dump cake. Why, one might ask, would you post a recipe for a dump cake as a favorite?

One simple saved me this week. Not saved me as in I was dying, but came to my rescue in a time of need.

Let me backtrack a bit. Friday is the end of the first 6 weeks at my kid's school. One of the kindergarten room mothers thought it would be a great thing to do some kind of teacher appreciation event for all the teachers in the school. (thankfully it's not a huge school) It was decided that the Pre-K and Kindergarten wing of the school would provide for a teacher appreciation dessert on Friday. Since I am room mom for my daughter's kindergarten class, the responsibility to find eager parents who wouldn't mind adding one more thing to their already busy plate, fell on me. I sent out an email talking about the dessert and how our class was asked to provide two fruit desserts and paper plates.

You all know where I am going to go with this one. Within minutes I got a response back from a parent wanting to bring the paper plates. I knew it was coming. Who has not been on the other side where a sign up sheet is going around and you think to yourself, "Man, I hope there's something easy I can sign up for like paper products!"? After the sign up for paper plates I had no takers on the fruit desserts. I resigned myself to the fact that I would bring in a dessert. So I sent out a second email later in the week asking for a fruit bowl. I thought that maybe someone would rather run into the HEB grocery and pick up a pre-made fruit bowl instead of whipping up a fruit dessert and that I might get someone's attention.

I was wrong. As I am writing this, I still have no takers which more than likely means I will run to the grocery and pick up one of those convenient pre-made fruit bowls I promoted earlier.

Just to keep things really interesting, I have had a sick child for the past few days which has confined me to the house and left me with a child who fluctuates between being clingy and wanting to play CandyLand after the medicine he's taking kicks in and he feels good.

So, earlier in the week when it became apparent that I would be making a fruit dessert, but before I had a sick child, I had the clever idea of doing a fruit pizza. Sounds good, right? In theory, yes, but with a sick child, a husband working long hours at the hospital and being stuck at home without any of the ingredients and no time to slice a bunch of fruit for a pizza, let's just say, "It's not going to happen!" Plan B then...a dump cake. It fits all the categories I contains fruit, it's easy and I can take sick child to the grocery and buy the ingredients in no time flat.

However, before I went out and bought the ingredients to make a dump cake I needed to check with my good friend, Yvonne, who is the room mom for her daughter's kindergarten class at our school. See, Yvonne's class was assigned to bring a cake for the dessert and I figured since great minds like ours think alike, I should probably check in with her and make sure she wasn't planning on bringing the same thing. Plus, I wanted to get a little go ahead for coming up with such a brilliantly easy solution to the dessert dilemma. After talking to her and finding out that she also had taken creative liberties with her "cake" assignment , deciding to instead bring a cinnamon struessel bread, I got the thumbs up and "dump away" from her.

That, in a nutshell, is why today's Friday's Favorite is a dump cake. It has 4 ingredients, one of which is 2 sticks of butter and I figure what says "Teachers we love and appreciate you and are not trying to clog your arteries and cause you to have a heart attack" like a cake with two sticks of butter.

There you have it, Dump Cake. Here's the very easy recipe.

Dump Cake:
1 20oz. can of crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1 21oz. can of prepared more fruit cherry-pie filling
1 box of yellow cake mix
2 sticks of butter

1. Dump the fruit in a bowl and stir.
2. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
3. Sprinkle the cake mix over the fruit
4. Melt the two sticks of butter.
5. Drizzle butter over the cake mix.
6. Bake at 350 for 45 min. to an hour (May take more or less depending on your oven)

Take care,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

9 on the 9th

My friend at All That Naz has a monthly meme called "9 on the 9th". I have not always done the best job with this. One time I did, "almost 9 on the 9th" and another time I could not come up with 9 of anything.

Anyway, I am back and participating 100%. Since October is Breast Awareness Month I thought I would come up with 9 things you can do to help find a cure.

1. Get a mammogram. If you have a family history of breast cancer, go get one earlier than is recommended.

2. Do something to raise money for the cure. I did the Avon Walk but there are plenty of others, including Susan G Komen's race for the cure races. (

3. Give to a charitable cause that supports finding a cure. Susan G Komen's organization has raised millions for research as has the Breast Cancer Research Foundation .

4. Do a monthly self-exam. All the experts agree that early detection is very important.

5. Buy products that support the cure. These days the pink labels are everywhere.

6. Listen to a survivor tell their story.

7. Offer to help someone with breast cancer. Bring a meal, run an errand, clean their house, etc.

8. Wear a pink bracelet to show your support.

9. Talk to your health care provider about your questions, concerns and family history.

What about you all? Any others to add?

I got something in the mail just this week about World Pink and Estee Lauder's involvement in a breast cancer awareness campaign. You can find out about companies that support the cure by going to Some companies listed on the brochure include: Aveda, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Origins and Prescriptives just to name a few.

If you get a chance, go check out my friend's blog Bubba's Sis click on her pink ribbon link.

Have a great day! You can go find more 9 on the 9th at: All That Naz.

Take care,


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Elizabeth Jane

I am going to be honest with you all, I always knew I wanted to have a girl, even if I only admitted it to myself.

Why? I am not exactly sure. Maybe it was because I grew up in a family of all girls. Maybe it was that I figured I would stand a better chance of having success in parenting a girl, since I am one and all. Maybe it was so I could buy great girl clothes for her. Or maybe it was because there weren't any girls of either side of our families. Whatever the reason(s), I wanted a girl.

We had an ultrasound early on to confirm the pregnancy. I knew as soon as it would be possible, I wanted to know whether we were having a girl. Partly so I could "plan" but mostly because I was too curious to wait.

When I was far enough for the ultrasound to confirm what we were having, I had the ultrasound done.

"You're having a girl." I was told. I remember asking (more than once) "Are you sure?"

Elizabeth Jane.

Her name was chosen before, long before her. She would be named after my older sister, Elizabeth and my grandma, Mary Jane.

Ellie is what she would be called.

I ended up being induced a few days earlier than my due date. My OB doctor said my fluid looked low and and suggested induction. I felt as if I was ready to burst so it didn't take much to convince me.

She was born right after midnight, a beautiful, peaceful, laid back baby...qualities which haven't changed over the last 6 years.

After she was born the doctor noticed something unusual with my umbilical cord. She had what is called a "true knot" which is a complete knot in her umbilical cord. No one knew how long it had been there, only to say that had she had been born later, her ability to get nutrition through the umbilical cord would have been cut off with potentially fatal results.

Thank you Jesus for bringing our little girl safely into this world. I am grateful.

I love this little girl who is growing up right before my eyes...our animal loving, no training wheels biking, great swimming in the pool, always sharing little girl.

I love you Elizabeth Jane.

Take care,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And the Winner is...but first a story

When I was a kid growing up my mom would have my sisters and I draw a number to help determine what order we had to follow for certain chores. For example: When it would be time for us to take a bath we all would say we didn't want to go first or we all would say we wanted to go first and then things like, "Beth got to go first last time" ,or "no, Melissa went first last time!" and on and on and on. So we'd pick a number. Whoever picked number one would go first and so on. Since I don't have a random winner picker gadget, I used my mom's old-fashioned method and my husband picked a number and the winner is...

D at! Way to go girl! Just email me your address and I will put in the mail the book "Breathe"!

Thanks everyone for your comments! I love reading them all and appreciate everyones kindness and ideas. Blogging is great because of friends like you all!

Wednesday is my daughter's 6th for the post coming up soon!

Take care,


PS Today is Bubba's Sis's birthday at Go wish her a Happy Birthday if you get a chance! Happy Birthday Bubba's Sis!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Being Intentional

Intentional: "a plan of action, an aim that guides action, deliberate"
Deliberate: "careful and thorough in deciding or determining"
(Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary)

My husband has been re-reading Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" and sharing some of the highlights with me. One of the ideas from the book that hit home to me is the principle of doing less in life by focusing on what matters most.

I have found myself thinking about that concept continually over the past few days. What does matter to me and just as important, do my actions reflect what I say is most important. All of this has caused me to think about the idea of being intentional in what I say, do and persue.

I remember when I was back in college and I first met my husband. I wanted him to notice me. I knew his class schedule and worked very hard to coordinate where I was so I could appear to just "happen" to bump into him in between classes. I was intentional in my efforts to see him, get to know him and be around him. This took time and energy.

Last April I participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Houston ( The walk covered 39 miles in two days in an effort to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness. For three months prior to the walk I got up at 4:30am two days a week and forced my tired body to go to the gym for a boot camp class to help get my body ready for the walk. I was intentional.

But that's just two areas of my life. What about all the other areas? Am I being intentional in my marriage or am I just taking it for granted? What about raising my kids? Am I being intentional in seeing that I am training them in the way they should go? What about my relationship with God? Am I putting the time and energy into deepening my faith and love for God? How about my friendships? Do I prioritize spending time with Godly friends who know me and can help me become a better person?

If I am not being intentional then life just happens and I get caught up in whatever comes along. I need to take the time and give all areas of my life a good long look and ask myself "Is this (whatever the "this" may be) something that is going to help develope my life in some positive way? Is this activity going to further the kingdom of God? Lastly, does this activity bring joy to my life? If there are activities in my life that don't meet these requirements, I need to seriously consider how much time I should invest into that particular activity.

I feel the need to add a disclaimer here...there are activities I do every day that do not meet the criteria above yet I still participate in them because they are a part of what I need to do. For example, I don't always enjoy doing laundry or cleaning the house or packing lunches, yet I do them because I love my family and I want them to be taken care of and feel loved. I guess what I am really thinking about is what or how I choose to spend any free moments I have or activities I feel committed to participating in.

All this leads me to the concept of creating a mission statement for my life. I have never done this before, surprisingly. I guess I have sort of thought of mission statements as something of a glorified New Year's Resolutions list...too lofty and not completely or easily attainable which leads to another area in my life to potentially fail miserably in. I am a dreamer not a planner. I love the idea of being spontaneous versus rigid and scheduled. Yet, being a mother of three kids calls for a certain level of planning and scheduling just so we can function. Maybe that's why I have avoided a mission statement for my life...fear it would just seem so canned, not real. But, as I am getting older I am beginning to see the wisdom and value in them. Having purpose and a clear plan of who I want to be will enable me to sift through the myriad of things that come my way more clearly and help me to make better decisions about how to spend my time.

I love the verses in Jeremiah 17:7-8 that say,
"Blessed are those who trust in the Lord...
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they go right on producing delicious fruit." (NLT)

That's the kind of woman, wife, mom and friend I want to with deep roots.

The more I think about it the more I think I could benefit not only from a personal mission statement, but a family mission statement and a marriage mission statement. I will keep you posted on what I come up with, if anyone is interested. Let me know if you have your own mission statement for yourself or family or marriage. I would love to hear about it.

Also, on that note...I have been reading a good book that is helping me focus on all of this. I like it enough that I bought a copy to give to one of you. It is called "Breathe" by Keri Wyatt Kent. It's about, "creating space for God in a Hectic Life". Good stuff, right?! Just leave a comment for me about anything you do to take time for yourself. I will leave the comments open until Tuesday, October 7th at 9pm (cst) I will randomly pick a winner and post the winner on the 8th. Have fun commenting!

By the way...just a few updates
Yes, the kids are feeling better and headed back to school.
Friday night was girls book club out here on the island. A dozen women sitting around outside on a wonderful evening talking about, "The Shack". Does it get any better? (in case you are new to this blog, let's just say I love the book!) Also, my daughters birthday is coming up on Wednesday so be watching for that! Finally, I should be back to another installment of "Friday's Favorites" on Friday! Have a great week!

Take care,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I can't think of a title, which goes along nicely with the theme of this post

Somewhere down this road called mothering I have been walking down for the past eight years, I feel like I have lost something.

Mainly, my mind.

I know it seems funny, but I remember back in college when I used to sit around with others and carry on in-depth conversations about life, faith, the future...basically anything and nothing for hours on end. Convictions were challenged, friendships were solidified and time seemed to never end.

I feel like I have now been reduced to a bunch of short, simple phrases like, "Put your shoes away." or "Do you want fries with that?" or "No." or "Remember your backpack."

How did I end up here so quickly?

Most of the time I am so busy caught up in the busyness of raising three kids that I don't even realize I have spent most of the day on auto.

And then I will catch a glimpse...

Reading a great blog, watching a movie that makes me think or a random conversation with a complete stranger and it comes back, albeit slowly, that part of me that needs to be filled apart from my mothering role.

I try to jump in...adding a comment on a blog I like, joining a book club - good attempts, but going back for a second glance my attempts seem almost humorous. Something I wrote that seemed witty to me at the time seems so embarrassingly lacking or conversations about my opinions seem weak or disappointing, they just don't convey me adequately in that moment. Give me a day to respond or write a comment and maybe I can come up with something better.

Do you ever wish you could get a second chance for people to glance at who you are or that at any moment you could accurately convey your heart, even in the midst of chaos? I know it takes time and being intentional, two things I seem to be lacking at this stage of my life with three young kids, but I need to start, at least somewhere.

And I wonder, how do other moms do it? Or dads for that matter. Moms (or dads) whose writing and thoughts are examples of where I want to be or can articulate what is in my head so much clearer than I can. How do I get there in the midst of raising kids and sometimes just getting by?

Do you ever wonder how people see you? I think about my blog stuff and it seems to be such a tiny fraction of what I really am about. If someone glances at my blog they will see quite quickly I am an mom and that I am a Christian or that I live in Texas; I write about my kids and my day to day life, but it is just a part.

I am not even completely sure what I am trying to get at except that I want to work on my writing so it will better reflect more of me or the direction I am trying to head to, apart from being home room mom, or the trips I have taken or birthday parties at Chuck E Cheeses.

So, if you're new to this blog or you're just stopping by and see me writing about the things I have mentioned above, don't just write me off. Come back again sometime and maybe you will catch a glimpse of something that is deeper than what it may appear to be.

Take care,

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Just Checking In

Hey there!

No, I have not gone away or quit blogging. Life has just been a little crazier than normal and somehow, unfortunately, my blogging got left behind.

Let's see...what have I been doing lately?

We celebrated my son's 4th birthday at Chuck E Cheese's this weekend and I am happy to report, everyone survived. It was our son's first official party where he invited friends. Let's just say, he is now a fan of birthday parties and the gifts that come along with it. We had a great time. I must say though, I am amazed at how many kids do not want a big stuffed mouse coming towards them unaware. Not that I blame them. Lots of running, yells and tears when Chuck E Cheese came out to do the whole "Happy Birthday" routine complete with dancing and singing. Maybe the restaurant could just get rid of the mouse and keep everything else. Sounds like a good plan to me.

On Monday I had another chance to substitute in my daughter's kindergarten class. I am happy to report that the second time is definately easier than the first. Experience gave me the upper hand this time. I could remain firm when faced with the dilemma, "What do we do if one of the door holder/flag holders is absent?" or how to respond to the question of "Teacher may we put our nap mats by each other during rest time?" I was so naive the first time, but not this time. I had a great day and love those little kids.

The birthday boy must have worn himself out as he's been sick the past couple of days with a fever, cough and congestion. He must feel sort of okay because we still managed to get in five games of CandyLand on Wednesday, of which I only won one. I didn't even rig the game.

My oldest has been enjoying the Karate kids class he takes after school once a week. (Sister takes the class too, but I get the impression she's in it more for the social aspect of it...her best friend from her kindergarten class is in karate too) The oldest has been showing us the moves they learn. Jackie Chan better watch out.

Hope all is well for you all. Drop by when you get a chance, I'd love to hear from you.
Take care,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mary Jane

Three years ago today marks the day my sweet grandma, one of the most influential people in my life, lost her battle with breast cancer and went home to heaven. She lived to see my mom and cousin turn a year older on the 25th. She lived to see my son Pete turn one on the 26th. Then she went home to live with Jesus forever on the 27th.

To say I am emotional about it, even three years later is an understatement.

I am so grateful we were living in Ohio for the last three years of her life. In fact, we lived just a few miles away. We talked on the phone almost daily and even though she was battling cancer and I had three kids ages 4, 2 and a newborn, we still managed to get together for dinner or lunch almost every week for the last year she was alive.

I remember the day she died clearly.
Early morning phone call from my mom.
The flock of birds above my house.

That last one I need to explain. I hesitated to even include this part of the story for fear ya'll will think I am crazy, but it happened and it is part of it all. After I got off the phone with my mom telling me that grandma had died, one of the first things I heard through my tears was birds. I know that may not strike you as odd, lots of people hear birds outside their windows each day, but, we were living in my hometown in Ohio at the time and the neighborhood we lived in was a very new subdivision. Not a lot of trees around and the trees that were there were skinny and small. Seeing a bird, not unusual, hearing a flock of birds as they flew south, not unusual. Hearing a flock of birds flying just above my house without them flying away, unusual. All morning long in my grief I heard those crazy birds flying above my house until it finally hit me, "Oh, this must be a God thing!"

I believe in my whole heart that God sent those birds to fly above my house, maybe even designed a detour as they were heading south for the winter, for as long as it took for me to get the message...Grandma was flying free. (OK, I have to stop myself from yelling, "Free bird!" right now as it might, just might interrupt the mood of this all) The message was clear... no more pain, no more suffering. My grandma was complete and whole the minute she stopped breathing as only someone in Christ can be. She was as free as those birds.

And this girl in Ohio needed to know that. I needed to be reminded that because grandma was ok, I was going to be ok too.

Even though at that moment I could not imagine it.

Could not imagine the holidays coming up without her there. Could not imagine moving to Texas in a few months without here being there to see us go. Could not imagine a lot of things without her.

But I knew I was going to be okay.

I noticed those crazy birds flying above our house for the next several mornings. In fact, the first day I noticed the birds were gone was the morning after her burial.

Pretty appropriate, I think.

There are so many things I could write about her, but I decided to honor her by posting one of my favorite recipes of grandma's. It is a recipe for a homemade chocolate cake with homemade caramel icing. I used to request it for my birthday or special dinners. Boy could she cook and bake. I will probably never make homemade noodles quite like her or this caramel sauce as perfect and creamy as hers. But I will keep trying. In fact, one of my most favorite things I have of grandma's (along with a chocolate cardigan she wore and one of her nightgowns) is a copy, in her own writing, of all her recipes.

Pretty priceless, I would say.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. It's one she had written out for someone. I am going to include it just the way I have it with her comments and everything.

Take care,

Easy Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour Sift these together
6 TAB. cocoa
1 tea. salt
2 tea. soda

Add 1 cup oil (I use canola)
2 tea. vanila
2 Tab. vinegar
2 cups cold water

*Use a fork and stir till smooth. Bake in 9x13 pan at 350 for 30 minutes

Caramel Icing
2 cups brown sugar (packed down)
1/2 cup milk
about 1/2 to 3/4 stick of margarine or butter

*Stir up good and cook one minute after coming to a complete boil. Beat till it begins to get a little sugary look. I take a fork and punch holes all over top of cake and spread some of the icing over cake and let it run down in the cake. Just use a thin layer of the icing. Keep beating it with a spoon till it gets the sugary look. Then spread the rest of it on the cake. You have to watch as it can go to sugar fast. The main thing is not to cook it over the 1 minute. I usually cook it 1 min.+ 15 seconds.
Good luck , (grandma had a smiley face here :)
Mary Jane

You can always add powdered sugar to icing if it just won't go to sugar for you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby!

My baby turns 4 today. Four. I can't believe it. We've been talking about this day for a long time and counting down the days until it arrived, but it still seems to catch me by surprise.

My little guy is growing up.

In all honesty though, "little" is not a good word to describe him. He's been big since the get go. He weighed ten pounds and two ounces at birth.

Yes, you read that right. 10lb. 2 oz. Born naturally and he never even got to wear newborn diapers. That just doesn't seem right.

Big. Big in his size, big in personality, big heart, all boy and full of life.

The other day he got a birthday package from my older sister in Ohio. I kid you not, his hands were shaking with pure excitement as he tried to open the gifts. With each gift he opened he stood up and shouted, "It's exactly what I wanted!" Kind of makes you want to give a kid like that the world.

Lately he has been into playing Candyland. We probably play about 4-6 times a day. Whenever he wins (which happens almost every time and I swear I do not rig the cards) he wants me to shout, "Give it up for Pete!" and then start clapping wildly. He thinks it's absolutely hilarious. It really gets him going if I pretend I can't stop clapping, as in "Oh no! Pete, I can't stop clapping! AAHH!!" Lots of laughs. (By the way, here's how you can tell if someone is a dear friend or not. Remember the other day when I taught in my daughter's Kindergarten class? Pete when over to my dear friend Yvonne's house for the day. She knows all about his love for Candyland and while he was there they played several games of CandyLand. Pete had her doing the whole "Give it up for Pete!" and clapping wildly for him. I'd say that's a good friend!)

He is confident and happy. Loves school and doesn't even look back when I drop him off. I have to find him to give him a kiss good-bye.

When he was a baby I used to sing him the chorus from one of my favorite artists, Chris Rice. It was on his Amusing cd. The chorus went something like, "and to our dreams we'll gladly go and see you in the morning. You are the light you are the proof the Lord looks down and warms my roof. You are the light you are the sign that I am loved and life is mine." I can't think of that song without remembering my baby.

So, let's, "Give it up for Pete!" today.

Happy birthday baby. Mommy loves you.

Take care,


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Random Thoughts

Hey there!

Just wanted to say "Hi!" Hope you all are doing well. I'm taking a break from Friday's Favorites tomorrow because a special someone in my family has a birthday. It's not me, but you'll have to come back on Friday and see!

By the way, Mom, if you are reading this today, "Happy Birthday!" I'll be calling you soon!

Have a great day and I'll talk to you all tomorrow.

Take care,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Just the good 'ol boys..."

Earlier in the summer at lunch one day my oldest child asked me if we could super glue our Volkswagen van's doors shut and start climbing in the windows like the Dukes of Hazzard. The other kids quickly chimed in, "Please,mom, please!"

I paused a while before answering them so I could choose just one of the many reasons floating through my mind as to why that would not work for us.

I said,"Do you see how high up the windows are on our van? You would need a step ladder just to even reach the windows and that would seriously take away from the Dukes of Hazzard effect you are wanting to create. I mean, did you ever see Bo or Luke Duke climb up on a step ladder to get into the General Lee?"

They thought about that for a while.

Finally my oldest said, "No, I guess not."

"Besides" I added, "the Dukes of Hazzards car was closer to the ground, that's why they could just hop on in."

Then one of them came up with the idea that maybe they could ride in their grandma's convertible next time we were in Iowa.

There we go, problem solved I thought until my daughter told me she liked the girl from the Dukes of Hazzard.

"You mean Daisy Duke?" I asked her.

"Yes." She replied.

Now we have a completely different problem to deal with.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Parenting Phenomenons

Ever since I became a mom I have noticed certain things that occur repeatedly in our household. I refer to them as "phenomenons". I want to share them with you. See if any of these ring true in your home.

1. Why is it that my kids are always starving after I tell them it is time to go to bed?

2. I have noticed the number of shampoo bottles we go through is definately not in proportion to the number of kids we have. I am not sure how a child can manage to use half a bottle of shampoo while washing ones hair.

3. When I am talking on the phone it is like a honing device has gone off in their head saying, "Find mom. Bug mom. No matter what, DO NOT STOP!!!"

4. Why do my kids announce every toot (or for that matter any bodily function) like it is a national event? Is this really necessary?

5. For the life of me I can not understand the commercial choices on some of the kids TV channels. Things like, shampoo for women, miracle plant waterer and mighty putty which can, in my daughters words, "pull a huge, huge, huge, huge truck and can hold anything." I don't need my kids coming up to me asking me if I want beautiful, silky hair like the woman on TV.

6. I have noticed my youngest child has an uncanny ability to put his clothes on backwards about 99% of the time, even his underwear.

7. My kids sudden inability to walk or use their arms when it is time to pick up the house at night, or go upstairs to bed. Very uncanny I would say.

What about you? Any parenting phenomenons around your house? I would love to hear them.
Take care,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Have you seen the movie, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"?

Saturday night I finally got around to watching a movie I have wanted to see for a while, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".

Have you seen it?

It is a film based on the memoir, "Le Scaphandre et le papillon" by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The author was the editor of Elle who suffered a stroke, went into a coma for 20 days and when he came out of the coma was unable to move, talk or do anything except blink one eye. His mind, sight and hearing were intact. He was diagnosed with what is called "Locked-in Syndrome". The therapist who worked with him came up with a code where Jean-Do (what his friends called him) would blink at the letter he wanted when the therapist went through the alphabet. He was able to communicate this way and eventually wrote the book I mentioned above, which is translated, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A memoir of Life in Death".

The movie is based on this book, although not without controversy. His closest friends say that the movie is not entirely accurate. Some issues are minor...he had two kids in real life, the movie shows him having three, but some issues are bigger. I do not want to give away any of the story line, so let's just say you can read about the controversy here.

I loved the film. It was beautiful to watch and I walked away from it re-affirming life. How can I complain about my life when here is someone who can only blink one eye, yet he's publishing a book?! I have no excuse to not be productive with my life. On those days when I feel down or discouraged about my life I want to choose to be grateful and thankful for all that God has blessed me with, and focus on the good instead of all the negative.

I'm planning on checking out the book this week and reading it. It reminded me of another life-inspiring story...Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father and son team who have completed Iron Man Triathalons together. The son, Rick, has cerebral palsy so the dad pulls a boat with his son on it for the swim, pedals for him during the bike ride and pushes him in a wheel chair for the run. You can watch a video about them on You Tube but I do not know how to include it in a post. (If you do know, please enlighten me and open up new worlds for me to explore in the world of blog posting!)

Hope you have a great week. Go live a great life and do good things.
Take care,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday's Favorites #5

Lately I have seen a lot of blogs posting their fall reading list or their favorite books from the summer. Now that it is a comfortable 80 out as I am writing, I thought I would go with that theme for this week's Friday's Favorites. If you are new to this blog you can read all about Friday's Favorites here.

I picked four of my favorite books to highlight. Some have been a favorite for years, others have become a favorite recently. I have to say, some of the books have things I don't agree with, one of the books disturbed me, but they all made me think and in that respect earned a spot as a favorite.

My first book is a recent favorite, "The Shack". In fact, it was the topic of my last Friday's Favorite. I won't spend a lot of time re-saying the same things. You can read what I wrote about it here.

One of my favorite authors is Donald Miller. His most popular book he's written thus far is "Blue Like Jazz." I liked the book, but the book he wrote that I want to mention is "Searching For God Knows What". It is just great. Here's a quote from the book, (on page ix) ...

"Sometimes I feel as though I were born in a circus, come out of my mother's womb like a man from a cannon, pitched toward the ceiling of the tent, all the doctors and nurses clapping in delight from the grandstands, the band going great guns in trombones and drums. I unfold and find flight hundreds of feet above the center ring, the smell of popcorn in the air, the clowns gather below, amazed at my grace, and all the people chanting my name as my arms come out like wings and I move swan-like toward the apex, where I draw my arms in, collapse my torso to my legs, roll over in perfection, then slowly give in to gravity. My body falls back toward earth, the ground coming up quick, the center ring growing enormous beneath my falling weight.

And this is precisely when it occurs to me that there is no net. And I wonder, 'what is the use of a circus?' and 'why should a man bother to be shot out of a cannon?' and 'why is the crowd's applause so fleeting? amd...'who is going to rescue me?' "

Next on my favorite's list is a book called, "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon VanAuken. It's a love story but it also is the story of the author's conversion to Christianity through his friendship with C.S. Lewis. It's beautifully written and it's been my favorite book since I first read it in college.

Two other books I like are "Jesus Land" by Julia Scheeres. This is the pretty disturbing one, although its written well and riveting. The author grew up in a Christian family in Indiana with two adopted african american brothers, a cold and abusive physician father and an even more distant mother. It's heartbreaking.

The other book I read through as quickly as possible was, "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. This is the author's version of what happened on that fateful Mt. Everest expedition the author was on in 1996 that took the lives of many. Jon Krakauer has written other great books like, "Into the Wild". I saw a book of his the other day that I thought I'd like to read. I can't remember the title but it involves a cult.

A couple of other books I would like to read this fall are:
"What's so amazing about grace?" by Philip Yancey
"A long way gone" by Ishmael Beah
"Persuasion" by Jane Austen

What about you? Any book you hope to read this fall? Let me know.
Take care,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This is going to be one heck of a ramble!

Right now I am at home while all the kids are at school. I have ABBA's number one hits CD going as loud as it can.

This is going to be a good post, if I can get it written because of all the breaks I'm taking so I can stop and sing along. Tell me, is it possible to stand or sit still while ABBA is on? I don't think so.

Pardon me for a second, "Mamma Mia" is on.

Ok, I am back.

Let me just re-introduce myself, it's been a few days. I'm Julie, I have a blog, "Tales from the Eurovan". Here's the problem though, our van is still in the shop. TWO weeks later. I'm not going to complain about it, I know life is a lot worse for folks reeling from Ike. Plus, the VW place loaned a Passat to us while the van is being worked on. We just may not give it back!

"Dancing Queen" is on right now. I never knew the line was..."Dig in the dancing queen." Now I know.

Last week we rented a Dodge Stow and Go van for our little hurricane evacuation trip to San Antonio. The kids loved it, lots of room, automatic doors, all good stuff. If we ever decide to get one I guess I'll have to change the name of the blog to , "Tales from the Dodge Stow and Go".

All of us in South Texas are loving the fall like temperatures we are experiencing. Let me explain though, fall temperatures to someone is south Texas is a comfortable 72 degrees, not low sixties like in the mid-west where I am from. Yesterday I started putting out "Fall" decorations. I never did that the first couple of years we lived here. Somehow putting out fall pumpkins and leaves when it's 80 out just didn't seem right.

The other day my daughter's kindergarten teacher asked me to sub again on the 29th of September. I am excited. This time I will be prepared. I know how to handle who rests by who, which kids can go to the bathroom together and not be gone 15 minutes and I will ask ahead who the line leader is supposed to be. (Apparently this is a BIG deal and threats of unfairness ring out if the same child gets too many turns.)

I talked to my family in Ohio today. Apparently they were hit pretty hard on Sunday with strong winds from Ike (gusts of up to 75 mph). Lots of trees down, power out for a couple of days. It's so odd that we were a couple of hours from the storm and we were fine and here they are over 1,000 miles away and they were out of power for several days.

I believe I am completely out of ramblings for now. I'm going to go and focus all my energy into folding about six loads of laundry.

Take care,