Romans 12:1-2

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Do You Remember Your Pen Pal?

When I was nine my name was in a sticker magazine and I got dozens of pen pals.  There were a couple that I stayed in contact with for several years.  I loved it!

I'm excited to let you know about an option for your kids - Pen Pal Kids Club.  Kids log in to a secure site, create their avatar, get connected to others who belong and send post cards to their new pen pals. The links are listed at the end of this.  We're kinda new to it and I can tell you a few things, but really, you should check it out for yourself.  The first 30 days are free!

"the safe social network for kids around the world"™ is the tag line on the website and I really do feel that it's a safe place for my 11 year old son.  That being said, it's always important to teach Internet safety, no matter how safe the site is supposed to be.  Also, my son is eleven and he's on the verge of too old for this, but 6 or 7 to 10 would be perfect.

There is an option to turn "private messaging" (meaning that they can directly write their own message instead of using scripted options) on or off.  Since my son is older, I turned it "on".  For kids just learning to write, this is a great place to practice (that's the teacher in me coming out).

The website has great geography games too - the whole concept is a learning opportunity.

My son selected the ones he decided to ask to be pen pals based on who was a boy, who had been on a short amount of time and actually had several penpals.  His reasoning was that if they were active on the site then they would more than likely respond to him.  I just checked and he has two responses - I can't wait to finish this so I can tell him and he can check.

I have totally held my kids back from social networking sites (even my almost eight grader) and am comfortable with Pen Pal Kids Club and am happy that I can give my younger son an alternative.

Please, check it out!  Tell me what you think.

Pen Pal Kids Club

On the Homefront - May 29

A peek through my window…. The water company and a backhoe are out there!  I’m glad they aren’t here for me, but really?  Now I feel a more obligated to keep a more diligent eye on the son who will mow the front yard.

What’s going on this week… Well, we’re already part way through it!  Today – finish packing, run an errand, and go to the library and tomorrow get on a plane!

What “the boys” are doing… mowing.  L is plotting to buy a backpack from M. that he wants to use for Scouts (probably not the best purchase).  I wonder what the purchase price is because M. is paying L to mow the front yard!  Craziness.

On my mind… using my new Dayspring bag as my carry-on!  It’s so big, I’m afraid that all that will fit inside will be heavier than I want to carry.

On my bedside table… I have several books that I’ve started and not finished:  Big Miracle, What Your Childhood Memories Say About You, and The Five Love Languages of Teenagers. On our getaway though, I am going to read something completely fun and mindless!

I am richly blessed… to have enjoyed two Memorial Day invitations with friends.  One was my running partner and Scout friends and one was friends from Small Group.

I’m praying for… family members and for the upcoming school year.

Our home…  has lots and lots of suitcases.  I do need to at least vacuum it so it’s somewhat decent and has less dog hair for our housesitter, Aunt.

Menu planning… I’m having a strawberry/blueberry smoothie right now and I must say, it’s quite tasty even without the banana! Sandwiches tonight and then I think I’ll let others take care of the planning for a while!

A photo or two…

These are the enchiladas mentioned last week.  I accidentally grabbed paprika instead of chili powder when I was making the sauce!  I spooned a lot of it out and didn't notice it at all in the finished product.

Year two of the butterfly bush.  We had one right outside our front door when we lived in Albuquerque and I love them!

Aunt is five years cancer free!  We took her to lunch to celebrate.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One Thousand Gifts - May 29

#1386 - 1400

Looking at the flowers starting to bloom in the back now
My loving Hubby who planted all those flowers
Lots of new resources to read for teaching
Yummy homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches
Visiting with people we’ve known since moving here
M’s back feeling better
2 duck families and a goose family
Waking up slowly
Relearning something at church – being at different spots
Painting done – Aunt’s house looks great!
L helping me make the cucumber salad
White lilies among the yellow and red ones
The music of the wind chimes, my Mother’s Day gift
Time to sit, time to water the flowers – Time!
Childhood memories

Flashback Friday on Tuesday

This was our back yard in Kentucky.  Very small, all cement, had a storage closet, but it was fenced in!  The sand box was a loaner.  Really the only time we spent here was for the sandbox or as you can see - sidewalk chalk.  I could leave the back door open and leave the boys playing there a few minutes while I got something done in the kitchen.  I guess you don't need a lot of space to scoot around when you're not quite two!  If our back yard was small, our front yard was ginormous!  We shared it with all our fellow townhouse dwellers - it must have been bigger than a football field (no exaggeration)!  Yesterday, I asked the boys what their earliest memories were and M's was the front yard in Kentucky.  He must have spent a lot of time there or really liked it!  I look back on it and can't believe I let him play out there by himself!  Well, not quite by himself - there were many older kids out watching and playing, probably a Mom or two and at least a dozen pair of eyes watching out the windows that all faced that big green yard.

M. was either on a bike, or doing something ornery with his best friend, D.  L. spent lots of time pulling kids way bigger than him around in wagons!  It was in that yard that kids were playing when we returned from the library and M. proudly announced to everyone "See, we got!" when referring to the Thomas the Tank Engine books we had gotten.

Every kid loves the box most of all right?  I had to show off L's snazzy Clifford shoes.  It seems both boys wore water shoes around for every day kind of things when they were little.  Now they don't even wear their water shoes to the pool.  Go figure.  I think these shoes were found at a garage sale.   More clothing anecdotes below.  L's pajamas were the kind that the top snapped to the bottom.  I loved those!

This was typical of M. age 3- 4, he's watching a video and drinking "pink" milk (aka strawberry flavored).  For the longest time we couldn't figure out what the pink dots on the lining of the van ceiling were.  After watching closely, we noticed the sippy cups the boys used in the car were the kind with the straw that you flipped a cover over.  Every time they unflipped the cover, the straw popped up a splattered pink milk all over.  Lovely.  Sippy cups were the good 'ole days.  Pink milk made an impression on family too - they were always kind to pick up some of the flavoring before we'd visit.  Their uncle even asked last year before we went to his house if the boys were still drinking pink milk. (They take it plain or chocolate now!)

If L. is watching the video in this picture you can't tell.  It looks like he's just trying to be near his brother.  Likely he was past exhausted and should have already been put in bed!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


We celebrated the end of school last night on the porch with homemade ice cream sandwiches - choc. chip cookies the boys made with choc. chip cookie dough ice cream between.  L. later made shaved ice for he and a friend - I think high doses of sugar was on their celebration agenda!

This morning I woke up at 6am to go running! (My running partner is crazy!)  I assure you this is the first time in my history of "1st day of summer vacation"s to ever get up at 6am!  We are on day two of week five of a couch to 5k program.  I'm amazed at my progress (even though this my 12th week and I'm on week 5) and I really want to make it to running a race.  Being in Joplin at a race with my family was really neat and I want to participate next time!

Both boys wanted to sign up for the summer reading program so we did that today too.  They wanted to!  I had mentally decided they were "too old" and wasn't going to say anything, but they both asked on separate occasions!  This is the best part:  if you sign up for the summer reading program, the library forgives your fines!!!!  Ah, glorious summer!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On the Home Front - Midweek

A peek through my window…. It’s a very nice late spring day – sunny, but not too hot with a bit of a breeze.  Flowers still blooming and the grass is still green.  Before ever looking out the actual window, you would see J – the dog resting her face on the window sill.  The sill is also where I put L’s school supplies he brought home.  Either he was extra careful or didn’t use them.  I’ve never seen crayon and marker boxes look so neat after a year of school.

What’s going on this week… lunch with a friend, follow-up eye appt. for L., taking some clothes for consignment (for L. to raise the last of his $ for Scout camp), and shopping before vacation for M. (because he doesn’t have any jeans or nice pants that fit).

What “the boys” are doing… they are making chocolate chip cookies for me to use for ice cream sandwiches.  M. hurt his ankle/foot today at school.  If it feels better he is going to a baseball game tomorrow night.  The good news is his back is better.

On my mind… unfortunately, it hasn’t been work!  I’ve been thinking about classroom themes, going through my school things, reading my new teaching books and lots of preparation.(thinking about it, not doing it)

On my bedside table… Big Miracle.  I don’t want to give up and just watch the movie, but it’s not light reading.  I am learning a lot about life in far north Alaska.

I am richly blessed… to have a second grade teaching position for next year!  I am also blessed to have had a nice Friday evening away with my family AND we had a room to spend the night in- mix up in reservation and we got one of two rooms left in hotel next door.  Most hotels were sold out because of Joplin Memorial Run and thousands of extra people in town for it.

I’m praying for… M. to continue feeling better – sinuses and back and for him to “bounce back” in general.

Our home…  I love the way our living room feels when the window is open and I can see out to the flowers blooming.  It’s warm, but not bad, and somewhat quiet and lazy.  It makes me want to curl up on the couch with a book.

Menu planning… Hank Zipzer Killer Cheesy Enchiladas – L. copied it from a book last year and we had it at the end of school then too.  Pork Roast/Green Beans/Black Beans, hamburgers on the grill, something chicken and a Memorial Day cookout.

A photo or two…
L completed all 23 weeks of homework and Scripture memory for church Wednesday night program.

Last band concert

After the race

Monday, May 21, 2012

One Thousand Gifts - May 21

#1380 - 1385

A good fit for me
Looking ahead
Am always thankful for a walk with my dog
L got the special plate out for me
An evening in Joplin
Atmosphere of a race
L made his 5k goal
Hubby made his ½ marathon goal
Thunder basketball
God’s grace
I can run for 8 minutes
Yellow lilies blooming
Learning about new places through reading
Growing pains
Our countdown to vacation is under 2 weeks now!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Flashback Friday - May 18

After birthdays and Mother's Day, I was noticing that there hasn't been much "normal" Flashback Friday.  The original purpose was to write down some of the boys' earlier days since I don't scrapbook.  When I last left off, we were in Kentucky.... The above picture is M & L at the end of the kitchen counter drawing.  I honestly don't remember using this spot alot because at one and three (more like almost two and almost four in this pic) it was just too easy for them to topple off the barstools.  This was the the time of M's life where his scribbles became letters or trucks.  He could even spell Uhaul himself and put it in the right place on the drawing.  Sadly, Uhaul is a memory of his younger years.  But, the 11 months was well worth it in Kentucky - not only did Hubby get all the classwork for his doctorate completed on scholarship, we had a really fun year living closely to 20 families.

It was in the floor right at the edge of the counter where L. sometimes ate breakfast.  I know, the horrible confessions of motherhood.  Granted nothing was wrong with the table, but remember, I didn't want him tumbling off the barstool?  I put cereal in a bowl and set it on the floor along with his cup of milk.  I can't remember if M. did this too.  How funny.

In the picture you can see two doors.  The one on the left was a 3/4 bathroom.  We rarely used the shower in it because it was where we kept recycling.  Really!  Stacked it all up there, hid it by the curtain and then every so often we loaded it in the wagon and carted it across the street to the part of campus that had bins.

Notice how L. is putting his entire body into drawing this?  The green things on their cheeks are shamrocks.  Aunt happened to be visiting for Spring Break.  St. Pat's Day usually falls during S.B.

L. was definitely my Bob the Builder kid.  He got into tools more than M. ever did.  And look, proof that I DID let my kids play with playdoh.  It's never been one of my personal favorites, but it was okay in controlled circumstances.  Of course, their favorite was the years after this when their grandmother made them edible playdough!  This table was the site of many activities each day - the boys probably can't remember one of them!  I remember lots of projects and puzzles (there was a storage closet in the dining room that held toys and games) and of course there was dinner. 

Now, dinner in Kentucky was the best!  Several of the families had "dinner clubs".  Ours had three families in it.  I cooked on Monday nights for our family and the two others, Tues nights the ladies had our regular meeting and lots of Dads took the Kids for free or 99 cent kids meals at Fazoli's, on Wednesday and Thursday someone else cooked for our family, Friday was leftovers and that just left the weekend to fend for ourselves or go out.  I absolutely loved hearing the doorbell ring and knowing someone was delivering a hot dinner!

The cabinet L. is opening was the only one he was allowed to open - it held lots of plastic dishes he either played with or emptied and restacked.  You can see a little artwork on the fridge.  L. always had something from church to put there.  Most of the time we went to a church plant and sometimes L. was the only baby in the nursery, but the nursery workers always helped him make a project.  I always appreciated that - I knew they were teaching him Bible lessons and paying lots of attention to him.  He loved it!

One of his favorite things during this time also was story time at the library.  After the stories, they had different balls or whatever that they let the kids play with and then at the very end, they would turn on the bubble machine, his ultimate favorite!

I think I have one more Kentucky post.  I promise it will have more M. news and then we're on to Albuquerque!

Monday, May 14, 2012


I was rereading my daybook post.  Why?  Because I'm a nerd probably.  However, I did get quite a chuckle. 

We do not have chicken frozen in the theatre.  We do not even have a home theatre (just a basic "den").  If we did have a theatre there's no way we'd keep it cold enough to freeze chicken.  The house doesn't usually get below 78 degrees during the summer (more like 80 upstairs).

I'll attribute some of that mistake to middle-age.  Most of though was because I recently read something about a theatre.

Just in case you were wondering.......................

One Thousand Gifts - May 14 (Would be Mom's 73rd Birthday)

Full of gratefulness.  #1355 - 1369

Lightning bugs already (beginning of May!)
Conversation in the porch swing
Nerf wars in the front yard
6th grade pre-enrollment
A sister
New candles
Spending the night with our great Aunt
Soccer tournament
My niece
Morning walk with Hubby
1000 Moms Project
5th Grade Fun Day
That I could be there for it
An awesome school nurse

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On the Home Front - May 13

A peek through my window…. It’s dark J Our front flower bed is just beautiful!  I’m so pleased with how nicely it’s come together in two years.  The purple flowers I got at the azalea festival are wonderful.  I wish they weren’t annuals.  Maybe we won’t have a bad winter again and they’ll come back.  Maybe…….

What’s going on this week… subbing one day, band concert, we get to go to Joplin Friday night (yay for a housesitter!).  I think running partner and I are going to fit in 3 days this week.  Yikes!  We need to move to the next “week” on our plan and I’m just not ready!

What “the boys” are doing… while M is out for the whole evening with NJHS/Relay, L is excited to stay at Relay to 10 with Aunt.  L’s semifinal soccer game is tomorrow morning.  He has two big days at school this week with Big Bash AND Track n Field.  M has semester tests (no fun days).

On my mind… how yucky allergy/sinus problems can make you feel.  I’m also pondering a conversation that I had with a friend this evening.  Well I’m also pondering one I had with Hubby too.  I am grateful for opportunities and trust God’s leading and timing.

On my bedside table… my open Bible.

I am richly blessed… to live in the community we do.  A great school for the boys – L with his 5th grade Fun Day and M with his NJHS day of service yesterday and Relay for Life tonight.  Hubby and I enjoyed spending a few hours at Relay – richly blessed to walk part of Aunt’s survivor lap with her (5 years!)

I’m praying for… Hubby and his work.  I’m needing a good long prayer walk!

Our home…  has mounds of laundry waiting for me.  I’ve either been working or distracted and now I don’t feel well!

Menu planning… Lots of chicken dishes because that’s what’s frozen in the theatre!  I’m hoping to get more gas for the grill so we can cook out for Mother’s Day.

A photo or two…
Sunset Saturday Night

Friday, May 11, 2012

Flashback Friday - Mom

Almost the same spot of the yard, a little older, different dog

My Mom's Mom (My Grandma) is in the front row on the right.
Her Mom (My Great Grandma is the lady in back with her right arm around one of her girls)

Happy Mother's Day!

The 1000 Moms Project

1000 Moms Project

L, the most important gift you gave me is perspective.  You have listened to me for countless hours and always help me consider things from another perspective besides my own limited one.  I have also gained perspective in all those times you & P.T. have had the boys because I've enjoyed the solitude.

Happy Mother's Day!  I love you!

The 1000 Mom Project

1000 Moms Project

G, the most important gift you gave me is clothing.  Wait, it's not as superficial as it sounds!  It's a mother/daughter thing I never enjoyed until you and that's the true gift.  I've benefited from your generosity for almost seventeen years now.

Happy Mother's Day!  I love you!

The 1000 Moms Project

1000 Moms Project

N, the most important gift you gave me is understanding.  You know what it is like to lose both mother and father and have been quick to listen, support & encourage.  I especially appreciate the sweet Christmas gift you sent as a reminder of 2011 and the chocolate Santa.

Happy Mother's Day!  I love you!

April 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thank You Mom - For The One Thousand Moms Project

1000 Moms Project

Last summer I read through the book One Thousand Gifts with a group of ladies at church.  I'm on my second thousand this year and today when I was reading Ann's blog, I read about the One Thousand Moms project and was hooked!

So, I am going to use this blog post to publicly thank my Mom.  I could relate to some of what Ann wrote in this post in relation to her Mom.  I too have walked the halls of locked psychiatric wards visiting Mom - I have as a preteen, and at sixteen and again as an adult in the month before Mom died.  "And the demons that seemed to descend took beautiful my Mama away from me, from us — to hospitals and psychiatric wards throughout my childhood".  My Mom didn't lose an eighteen month old like Ann's did, but Mom had her share of losses and was lied to by an institution she should have been able to trust.  That tormented her and I can only guess at her other sources of mental anguish.

I know however, that Mom was 100% committed to me.  In the late evenings when I am at "home" (meaning where I grew up) mowing, I am not overwhelmed with pain, I am thankful.  Oddly, I relish the peace there.  I say oddly because I know Mom didn't experience much peace.

So I join in here to say thank you to my Mom (Oh how I wish I could share it with her!).  I am thankful for all the tests she helped me study for, all the snacks she made, all the times she waited in snow or cold for the bus so I wouldn't have to, for singing with me on the way to school, and for loving me unconditionally.

Mom would have been delighted to know she's caring for other moms through One Thousand Moms.  My Mom was a giver.

Absolutely NO comments about my highwater pants allowed!  I framed this picture for Mom's
last Mother's Day (it's on my desk now.)

What Am I Thinking?

Since I've been working online I haven't blogged as much.  Oh, how I miss it!  Someone mentioned to me yesterday about her writing, and today two blogs that I read gave me a springboard to writing.  One is Emily Freeman at Chatting at the SkyShe asked "What have you been thinking about lately?"

I think about interviewing, waiting, what I will do if I don't get the job and what I will do if I get it.  I think about finishing soccer and what will be different.  I think about making summer plans, coordinating calendars for shared plans, and plans to pay for all the plans.  I think about mowing (because there's so much to do!), the boys mowing for money to pay for their plans, and the Scout Garage Sale.  I'm even thinking about far off hopes.

So, I am thinking about hope.  I've said and I've heard others say "I don't know how someone who doesn't have Jesus makes it through *blank* (you fill in the blank)."  I still can't answer this question and don't think it's possible because I think that hope without Jesus is empty.

I looked on my Kindle and I have four books with "hope" in the title:  "The Colors of Hope, Scary Hope, Secret Hope, and Saving Hope".  Speaking of Scary Hope, Emily Freeman (same one) blogged last week about this - I downloaded and read it over the weekend.  I've never highlighted on my Kindle so much before!

Monday when I walked in the park a daddy was helping his daughter across the creek in, carefully helping her land on each stepping stone.  I quietly watched as I walked J. the dog by.  The daddy guided his girl to each rock, lovingly telling her when to jump and encouraging her.  There's no way the girl could have done it on her own without ending up drenched.  I watched closer as I noticed that even though the girl was courageously moving forward it was actually her daddy who lifted and placed her forward on each rock with his strength.  And I thought,

Isn't that just like God?  When there's no way I can do it on my own.  When my hope wavers.  When my strength is gone.  When well, always.  He guides.  He encourages.  He gives courage to go forward.  He lifts.  He places me with His strength.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  Romans 8:24 - 26

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13