Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prayer Wrap-Up

As a wrap-up to our prayer-related posts this week, Colton gives me the perfect opportunity.

On the way to school Thursday morning, he says - mom, look at that church! What is that tall thing on there?

That's the steeple.

Oh, yeah. That's right. Mom, what's that memory verse I know about a steeple?

Memory verse?

Yeah, my memory verse. It talks about a steeple and you use your hands.

Chance - Here's the church, here's the steeple, open the door and see all the people. That one?

Colton - Yeah! That's it! Proceeds to recite his "memory verse" over and over.

I can't remember - was that one in Luke or John? Or maybe the church in Corinth had a steeple?? :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Believe me, I can't meet my own expectations, let alone yours

So, approximately a lifetime ago, when I held a managerial-type position for another company and thought I had money, I had cleaners that came to our house and cleaned every two weeks. It was heaven - the highlight of my domestic career by far. Since that time, I have changed jobs (to include a pay decrease) and adopted an actual budget. Hence, the house cleaning angels had to go.

One of the most memorable moments of the house cleaning angels was a conversation I had with them one day when I came home before they were finished. They have German accents, which I cannot even begin to inject into the typed word, but sure do help when trying to retell the story!

Housecleaning Angel - Your house is pretty messy.

Me - I know. (thinking, that's why you're here!)

Housecleaning Angel - No really, you're not a very good cleaner.

Me - (feeling a bit awkward) Yep, you got me there.

Housecleaning Angel - Do ya at least cook for your family?

Me - Oh yes! I love to cook!

Housecleaning Angel - (with a look of relief at her partner) Good. At
least Matt can count on that.

So, properly reprimanded in all the ways I was a sub-par wife and mother, I made sure that I never again came home until they were done, and basked alone in the clean lavender smells every other Thursday.

Fast-forward approximately 6 years, to the present day.

We are getting some painting done at work, and the painters had some over spray issues while trying to spray the primer on a bit of a blustery day. 12 cars at our facility got speckled with primer that needed to be buffed off.

So, we are taking turns delivering our cars to the detail shop in town, to have them washed, waxed, buffed, and sealed. To the tune of $500 a piece!! Thank goodness that's not my money! Anyway, I decided if the outside was going to look that good, I should have them do the inside as well. I'd drive away in a brand new car. Except the 170,000 miles. Otherwise, brand new.

They agree that they have time to do the inside as well, and tell me it will be done after work.

Later in the afternoon, Darla calls to make sure we are on schedule with the cars set to go in the next day.

They don't call back for a long time.

She calls again.

Their excuse (for not calling back) was that they didn't know they were going to have to do interiors as well, and it was taking longer than they thought, and they were behind schedule. Great.

So, to make a long story long, we head in after work to pick up my car.

We get there, and they are almost done, but not quite. The conversation goes something like this:

Punk Car Cleaner Kid - Your car was really messy.

Me - I know. (thinking - that's why we're here!)

Punk Car Cleaner Kid - No, really, I found all sorts of junk in there!

Me - Yeah. I have 2 kids.
Punk Car Cleaner Kid - Seriously! There was like wrappers and candy . . .(making shoveling gestures with his hands)

Me - (I can't hold it back any longer) THAT'S. WHY. WE'RE. HERE.

Yeah. It was that good. The owner (not to be confused with the Punk Kid), was actually sheepish when he gave me the bill.

Owner - We usually charge $79, but we really had to spend a lot of extra time . . .

Me - You know what? I log about 30,000 miles a year in that car and have never had it detailed. You don't have to tell me how bad it was. I live there. I will gladly pay the extra charge - no worries.

I'm just not the type to do much "cleaning before the cleaner" type of stuff. I obviously can't get it done, and that's why I am hiring a professional. It just seems to be a moot point.

*****BTW - It looks beautiful. Almost brand new. Except . . . . Anyway, it looks great.

So, this morning, I head back to the detail shop to pick Darla up, because today is her car's big day.

I call after I drop the boys off to make sure we're still on schedule.

Wanna know where she was?

At the car wash, vacuuming her car out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Day Snippets

Mom (to Dad on the phone)
Well, we started off by setting off the security alarm and leaving the house 20 minutes late. Nothing like being late for the first day of school.

We're late?? We're late!! You can't be late on the first day! You just can't! (Tears are threatening). Drive faster!!

We're not really going to be late - just not early. At all. Hopefully we'll get there just in time for a quick picture before the bell rings.

The bell? What bell? What time does the bell ring, Chancey? What happens if you're late? Will I get in trouble? What if I can't find my classroom? Ohhhhhh, I don't know anyone at this school. I am very embarrassed. Or nervous. My tummy just feels funny.

Is that Kyersten? At least I'm not the only one that's late. Are you sure we have enough time to do a picture by the lion? Okay, well hurry then.

No, I will not pose for a picture by my desk or the chalkboard. Put the camera away, mom. I'm done taking pictures. Don't embarrass me!

No, I don't see anyone I know. Ohhhhhh, I don't know anyone at this school. Can you stay with me, mommy? I don't want to color a picture. I don't want to sit down. Where are the Poole girls? There supposed to be in my class! Okay, mommy, I'll call you when Tina picks me up.

Colton (on the phone after school)
It was great! We had so much to do, we got out late! We learned the centers, we ate snacks in the lunchroom, and we got RECESS! I want to go back tomorrow!

It was fine. No, we don't have any homework. We didn't even do any work. We just got organized and learned about rules and grades and stuff. We get A's and B's now, you know, not just check marks.

I did the Math Center and the Building Center. Let me tell you the Centers. There's Math and Reading and Building and Art and . . . .I can't remember the rest. No, we didn't learn about numbers at the math center. We didn't have to count either. It's not work mom, you just play there. It's really fun.

They put the big toy back up on the playground. With pea gravel under it. The line for the rings went all the way back to the white bars. It was looonnnngg. I think people would have waited in line even longer, though. Hopefully the lines get smaller when everyone gets used to having the big toy back.

There's lots of kids at recess. I didn't really know what to do, so I just did a bunch of extercises and stuff.

There are 2 new GIRLS in our class! Yuck. No, I don't want to ask Elle to ice cream! (laughing) Gross!

Mommy, I didn't even get in trouble one time. Some kids did. They were just talking and talking and talking. Like going - Teacher! Teacher! Teacher! over and over. It was annoying, and it gave me a headache. Really, I'm like the quietest kid in this class!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Day of School

I am completely and unabashedly stealing Michelle Miller's blog post for the first day of school. It's entirely appropriate, speaks to my heart, and hopefully to yours.

A Mother's Prayer:

"I prayed for this I give him to the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:27-28

"Lord, help me to give my children the best - not of things, but of myself, cherishing them on good days and bad, theirs and mine. Teach me to accept them for who they are, not just for what they do; to listen to what they say, if only so they'll listen to me; to encourage their goals, not mine. Let me give them a home where respect and integrity are the cornerstones, and there's enough happiness to raise the roof. May I give them the courage to be true to themselves; the independence to take care of themselves, and the faith to believe in You. May I discipline them without demeaning them, demand good manners without forgetting my own, and let them know they have limitless love no matter what they do. Let me feed them properly, clothe them adequately, and have enough to give them small allowances - not for the work they do, but the pleasure they bring. Let me be moderate in all these things, so that the joy of getting will help them discover the joy of giving. See that their responsibilities are real but not burdensome, that my expectations are high, but not overwhelming, and that my praise is thoughtful and given when it is due. Help me to teach them that excellence is work's real reward. And when it comes - let me revel in each honor, however small, without once pretending that it is mine - my children are glories enough. Above all, let me ground them so well, in Your truth that I can let them go. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Chance and Colton, I'm so proud of you. I hope you have had a fabulous
first day today. God bless your teachers - they'll need it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Praying, continued . . .

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this day.

Thank you for mommy and daddy and Colton and me and Jake. Please keep us safe.

Please help Jake not to mess with porcupines anymore, so he won't get whacked again.

Please help him to have a good night at the Dr.'s office.

Thank you for our soldiers. Please keep them safe.

Thanks for our vehicles. Please help them continue to run well.

Thanks that we got to go shopping for school supplies, and that we have a lot of supplies for school tomorrow.

Thanks that tomorrow is the first day of Kindergarten and 4th grade. Help our first day to be fun.

Please help us to get a good night's sleep, and have a good day tomorrow.



Monday, August 25, 2008

Praying for a heart like his . . .

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this day.

Thank you for our vehicles.

Please help them not to break down.

Please help them not to go too fast.

Or, please help us not to drive them too fast.

And, so, help us not to go to jail.

And, thanks for all the food you give us.

Help us to eat your good food and be healthy.

And, Amen.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Book Review - The Faith of Barack Obama

Okay, first and foremost, a preface and disclaimer. I don't do political talk, argument, debate, convincing, etc. well. At all. Mostly, I steer clear at all costs. I have pretty definitive ideas, and largely can't find a way to express them that doesn't leave me feeling one of two ways:

a) that I think the other person thinks that I feel superior (which I don't),

b) or, I have a huge guilt complex for feeling the way that I do and that I'm not necessarily swayed by other opinions. As if I haven't listened (but I have).

Neither of those is a good option, so like I said, I generally steer clear. As well, this blog has been a very neutral place for me to record my thoughts, remember our family's fun and funny moments, and keep long distance family members up to speed on our comings and goings.

So why, when a couple of weeks ago, Thomas Nelson Publishers, via Michael Hyatt's blog, asked for 100 bloggers to read and review a copy of their new book, did I agree? The book, called The Faith of Barack Obama, is not a "safe" book that will please all my readers. In fact, it's sure to raise strong opinions on all sides. The answer? I don't know. I felt compelled. Interested. Almost unquenchably curious. So I answered the call. Here are my impressions.

The Faith of Barack Obama

Stephen Mansfield

From the very first chapter, I felt like the goal of the author in writing the book was my goal in reading the book. Faith plays the largest of all roles in my voting requirements. With that in mind, whether or not I agree with Barack Obama, am I not inclined (even required) to research and understand his faith position? Should I not, if it's within my power, find any common ground possible with the man Mansfield describes as "a political and religious force to be reckoned with in American society, and both his supporters and his detractors are well served by understanding why."

The first chapter begins where Barack begins - on the island of Hawaii, with his early religious experience shaped by his mother, who was an atheist, his Methodist and Baptist grandparents (later Unitarian), his "folk Islamic" stepfather, a Catholic grade school, and an exposure to many different world religious ceremonies by a mom who "viewed all religion as nothing more than a man-made tool for contending with the mysteries of life." Wow. How would your faith journey read with a beginning like that? What I gained from this chapter - a greater understanding of how Mr. Obama can "sympathize" with such a variety of world views. He's seen most of them first hand.

The second chapter continues with the church where Barack Obama dedicated his life to follow Jesus Christ. It is an amazing look into a culture that I have been completely unaware existed in these United States. It is a church that mixes the blood of the cross with the politics of the day. A church rooted in the African-American heritage in which, during times of oppression, their only allowed avenue for pertinent information was Sunday morning church service. It's easy to see how politics so heavily eclipsed the pulpit. What I gained from this chapter - a glimpse of the slippery slope that led to the YouTube extravaganza of Jeremiah Wright. And, while I can begin to understand the history, I have little understanding of the inability to move on and the ability to sit in a church pew and listen to such hate.

Chapter three was probably the most interesting chapter for me. Describing the shift or descent of the Religious Right on the political spectrum, and the rise of a Religious Left, set to meet the needs of today's drive-through, have it your way, self-esteem driven generation. It describes Mr. Obama's conversion to Christianity, and the climate of a young generation of Christians ready to subscribe to exactly the kind of faith Barack exudes. Agree with this faith or not, this was a great look into the complex religious society that has led millions of Americans to proclaim Barack Obama as their hope for America. My biggest gain from this chapter - I cannot question the validity of Mr. Obama's conversion anymore than I would want mine questioned. Every heart that turns to Christ is still a work in progress. I will steal another reviewers line to wonder, would I be proud of a book called "The Faith of (insert my/your name here)?

The fourth chapter expands on Mr. Obama's view of the place religion plays in politics. According to him, it's place is significant. According to his voting records, many evangelicals question that assertion. Most eye-opening to me in this regard was an excerpt from an Obama speech, in which he argues:

"that the religiously motivated translate their concerns to universal, rather than
religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principal that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

What principal, accessible to all people is he trying to reach? Where did these principals, this morality, originate? Is it possible that Buddha, Muhammad, God, and a pop-psychology professor somehow magically "inserted" the same moral values in us all? And all we have to do is "tap in", and everyone will be happy? It is in this chapter that the division widened. The common ground seemed hidden, even unsearchable. His quote summed up the chapter - "Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion." Maybe that cements it for the other side as well. My takeaway from this chapter - Ugh.

Chapter 5 - Four Faces of Faith, and the final chapter. It included short faith biographies of George W. Bush, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton to compare with the in-depth chapters on Barack Obama. Made me want to read a whole book on each one. The histories of all of these great leaders (argue if you will, about any or all), is fascinating. Takeaway - Put beside the other three, Barack's faith compares, it contrasts, and it is obvious why he is the choice of many.

This has got to be my longest post ever. I went well beyond Mr. Hyatt's requested 200 words paragraphs ago. If you're still reading, thank you. In short, I recommend this book. To supporters and detractors both - it is important to learn all you can about those who may be called to lead this great nation.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to read the book.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

A leader is coming, soon, whom none will question. And the government will be on HIS shoulders. Praise the Lord. No one will question his faith. No one will question his motives. No one will question his politics. They will all be those of his Father. And we will be saved.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tidbits, Snippets, and -isms

A few morsels that I have either overheard or been a part of this week.

Colton - See those seagulls over there, Mommy? The fat one's a girl.
Me - How do you know that?
Colton - Because, girls get fat like that.
Me - All of them?
Colton - Yeah, when they're pregnant!
Me - What do you know about being pregnant?
Colton - Just what Harley told me. That girls get fat when they're pregnant 'cause there's a baby in their tummy.
Little Girl at Swim Lessons (walks up to our table) - Hi Colton!
Colton - Hey. (acting very cool)
Me - Who's that, bud?
Colton - Oh, that's Sally from preschool.
Chance - Is she your girlllllllllfriend??
Colton (not missing a beat) - Chancey, I totally broke up with her before school got out.
Chance - Mommy, why are adults always on diets?
Me - Well, a lot of folks have eaten more bad foods than they should have, and probably weigh more than they want to weigh and be healthy.
Chance - But they keep going on them, and they don't work.
Me - Tell me about it!
Chance - I think they need a Dave Ramsey for dieters.
~Side note - Dave Ramsey is a financial counselor that we subject Chance and Colton to on the radio periodically. He has truly turned our financial lives around, and is household name around our place. At one point, Chance said he didn't want our town to get a Target (knowing how much I love Target), cause we'd have to listen to that Dave guy even more!!
Watching the Olympics
Colton - Mommy, is that girl from America?
Me - Yeah.
Colton - Good, 'cause America Rocks.
Me-Chance, do you want to go with your dad & Colt to ride the combine?
Chance - Do I have to?
Me - No, but you are invited.
Chance - Mom, I'm not really a "farming kind of kid". I'd rather stay home.
More Olympics
As we watch the USA Medley Relay team fight for Michael Phelp's 8th Gold
Matt - Swim! Swim faster! Go! Swim! SWIM! SWIMMMMMM!
Colton - Daddy, you know they can't hear you,right?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We Have a Winner!

We have a winner of last week's Numbers Game.

Woo Hoo for Stephanie!! I am hearing rumors about her cheating with her mom's answers. Unfortunately for Alice, Stephanie posted her answers first, and so I can now only assume that Alice cheated off of Stephanie's answers. Some would say the first liar never has a chance, but I guess in this case, first cheater to post definitely prospers.

So, Steph - you can pick from something we already make, or I'll make you something cool and small for your new apartment. Like a chick on a mower or something. What do you think??

Anyway, without further ado, here are the answers:

1. Number of bags of garbage taken to the dumpster. 8
2. Number of desserts. 18
3. Number of batches of Mississippi Sin Dip. 1
4. Number of pounds of hamburger cooked. 12
5. Total number of attendees (hosts included). 30
6. Number of times the 1000 yard gong was hit in the shootin' expedition. 2
7. Number of RV's in the yard (hosts included). 4
8. Number of limbs that fell this year (sizable, anyway). 0

So, this gives you a good look into what qualifies as a successful function at our house.

Dessert count must far outweigh pounds of protein, and be closer to a 1:1 ratio of attendees. Sin dip must be present, but when paired with Stephanie's Chicken/Doritos dip, one batch is actually sufficient.

Our "RV Park" comfortably holds 4 RV's, but Matt is sure he could easily double that number. Hopefully John & Jennifer will still give our resort 5 stars when we pack them in there like sardines not unlike the MarDon Resort.

Again, thanks for a fun time everyone. Thanks for playing along with my little game. Thanks for your part in making 18 desserts. It was another banner year, for sure.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where were you 15 years ago?

15 years ago, I was at a rodeo.

You know those e-mail chains and MySpace bulletins where you review what you did 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, etc? And, how on MySpace, most of those kids can only go back one section (maybe 2)without saying things like - I was still eating Gerber Toddler Food and drinking out of a sippy cup. I feel older every time I read one.

Saturday night, I went on a date with my boys. We went to the County Fair - probably a pretty common occurrence around the USA this time of year. We ate greasy fair food, checked in on Chance's entry, rode a few rides, and had some fun family time. I'm not sure if I'm changing or the crowd is changing, but Matt & I both commented on the way out the gate - was the carnival that bad when we were young? Probably a bit of both, I guess.

That got us heading down memory land a bit, and the boys were giggling at the fact that Matt and I had our first date at that very county fair - 15 years ago, almost to the day.

August 13, 1993.

Parts of it I remember like it was yesterday. Parts of it are a blur. We had been friends for a few months, and one or the other of us had managed to make sure we were at the same place at the same time on many different occasions. No real dates - just fun times spent hanging out with all of our friends.

This night, however, was distinctly different. "Do you want to go to the fair with me?" is polar opposite to a statement that before would have sounded more like "Hey, I'm gonna be at the fair on Saturday night if you wanna, like, show up there, too." It was a world of difference, and we both knew it. This would be the first time, but definitely not the last, that I would change my clothes no less than 5 times to make sure I had the perfect outfit that would impress this handsome young man.

We would each be driving to town from about 1 1/2 hours away, making it impossible for him to pick me up. But, we didn't want to meet at the fair - this was too important to be status quo. So, ingenious young minds that we were, we met at the Burger King parking lot about 5 blocks from the fair, and rode the rest of the way in style in his blue convertible Ford Mustang. That's romance, huh?

If I remember right, I begged out of most of the rides (aside from the Ferris Wheel), claiming I was more into big, thrilling, theme park type attractions. What was I thinking??? Believe me, this has come back to haunt me on many a trip to Silverwood, Six Flags, and Las Vegas.

We ate greasy fair food, cheered at the rodeo, checked out some exhibits, and rode a few rides.

And, I don't know if I was younger, the crowd was different, or the stars in my eyes were blinding me, but the rodeo was exciting, the carnival was clean, the fair food was exquisite and calorie-free, my Wranglers felt just right, and the hand holding mine was a perfect fit.

Still is.

Thanks, honey, for 15 years like nothing I could have imagined. This rodeo we're in has had a few rough bumps, and most of it has flown by faster than an 8-second-ride, but I'm so thankful we're both in it 'til the buzzer. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I will rendezvous at Burger King with you anytime. Thanks for askin'.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The End of An Era

Chance turns 9 today. His last year in single-digits.

Do you remember being 9? I do. I thought it was so useless. I wanted to be 10 so bad. I wanted a double-digit age in the worst way. I remember my mom saying "Enjoy the single digits - you'll be double-digits the rest of your life."

I didn't believe her. At that point in my life, double-digits was everything.

Enjoy the single digit, Chance. You'll be double-digits the rest of your life. Don't wish it away. Live 9 with everything you've got. Or, maybe hold back just a little, cause some days I'm not equipped to handle everything you've got.

And, quit growing so tall.

Also, when are you going to hit that awkward stage? Cause you just went from cute as a button to doggone handsome. I say that totally unbiased, like I'm not your mom or something.

Happy Birthday, pal. I love you.

PS - Just because I said you went straight to handsome doesn't mean you can be looking at the girls anytime soon. You gotta be wellllll into the double-digits for that business :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

You Are Already Missed

Wow. It's been a sorrowful day around this little bloggy community of ours. At the same time, it's been a day to look back and rejoice at the ways God places people in your life, and the many blessings each one brings.

Cynthia Milligan was that kind of blessing.

I remember very little of Cynthia from the first time I met her at a DJ Scrap Retreat. I would walk by her table every once in awhile, and she was always immersed in one movie or another with her headphones on. And my thought was always "How can she scrapbook like that? Doesn't she want to visit?" Then, she won the Most Pages contest, and I did not question her approach again. I'm pretty sure she got the most pages done at every retreat I have attended with her since. She was a scrappin' machine.

Thankfully, though, as we got to know her better, the headphones came off more and more, and we got to know Cynthia more and more. What an incredible lady. She talked lovingly of her family and children, and had great stories to tell of their activities and vacations. And, although she came out of her shell a lot, she still resisted complete surrender into Darla & my crazy antics. She usually would just laugh, shake her head, and say "I can't believe you two." It was so great to have her at our table at the last retreat. The picture at the beginning is one that Darla took at that retreat, and is my favorite by far of Cynthia. That ready smile is what I remember most about her - well, that and the washer and dryer, but we won't bring my covetousness into this post :)

It was even greater to get to know Cynthia through her blog. Between scrap retreats and card classes, I'd still know what was going on in their lives, how I could be praying for their family, and what new attraction was being added to the "funnest kid house in the world." I always loved that Cynthia was determined to have the kind of house the kids wanted to bring their friends to. That time spent at home, versus a friend's house, will now be some of the most cherished memories of her children.


  • You have my unwavering admiration for your compassion, your courage to adopt, your mothering, and your determination to scrapbook your family's legacy.

  • You have my undying jealousy for your double washer and dryer, your movie theater snack bar, and your ability to beat me at the Most Pages contest every time.

  • You have my unceasing prayers for peace and strength for your family.

  • You have my unending thanks for the blessings you brought to us all.

  • You will be missed.

Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us. Your scrapbooks, your cards, and your blog. You were a true blessing and a friend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Perks of relatives with cool jobs:

  1. Access to helicopters at the airport

  2. Get to wear the cool headsets

  3. And tighten the seat belts to minuscule proportions

  4. And try real hard not to touch any buttons while sitting in the pilot's seat

  5. But probably touch a couple anyway

  6. Look this good . . .

Life-decisions made after our "tour".

  1. Chance will go to Big Bend, because you can play baseball and learn to fly.

  2. He will fly helicopters like this.

  3. Colton will go to Big Bend.

  4. Solely for the purpose of learning to fly something bigger than what his brother just said. And faster. Of course.

What an adventure. Thanks, Mike!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Numbers Game - BLOG Candy!!

We had such a fun time this weekend. Many of Matt's family member's came to town for our annual Hull BBQ.

We open up the "RV Park", cook lots of good food, receive lots of good food from guests, set up some volleyball and horseshoes, burn a few rounds into the shootin' range, and visit, eat, and visit some more - to our heart's content.

Continuing last year's new tradition, young and old alike showed off their athletic prowess on the Wii system.

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure Aaron came out with the best time slalom skiing, and John with the longest distance ski jump. Although Steph's hula-hoop was one of great numbers, I got the idea that Verna's hula-hoop was of greater impression! I can't believe I missed it.

Here are just a few of the numbers we kept loose track of during the weekend. How many can you guess?

1. Number of bags of garbage taken to the dumpster.

2. Number of desserts.

3. Number of batches of Mississippi Sin Dip.

4. Number of pounds of hamburger cooked.

5. Total number of attendees (hosts included).

6. Number of times the 1000 yard gong was hit in the shootin' expedition.

7. Number of RV's in the yard (hosts included).

8. Number of limbs that fell this year (sizable, anyway).

a) 2

b) 12

c) 8

d) 0

e) 18

f) 4

g) 1

h) 30

First person to post the answers (via the comments section) in the correct order wins their choice of yard stake from our website - Sunshine Metal. Come out, come out, all you lurkers - do not be afraid of the Anonymous comment. Give it a shot! Can't wait to see your attempts.

PS - Family Members - I am wayyyy short on pics of the weekend. Anyone who wants to share a picture cd, or link to Snapfish, etc. would be great. Thanks!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Where Can I Go?

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:7-13, NIV)

I love it when God uses my children to teach me a lesson. They seem to be lessons that I can relate to, that stick with me for a long time, and that are most likely to lead to a real change in my behavior. If I can see, through the blessing of being a parent, even a smidgen of what He sees as my Father, I will praise Him more and more.

Last night, while I was at a meeting, Colton had a pretty difficult evening. He wanted to pretend to shoot birds with his BB gun. So, Matt let him bring his unloaded BB gun outside while he did some yard work.

Unfortunately, Colton's short fuse and quick temper got the better of him before he even got to fire off one imaginary round. He got angry at his brother for trying to instruct him how to carry the gun safely, and ended up pointing it at Chance.

As you can imagine, there were big repercussions around our house. Including Colton marching his gun to the big garbage can, and climbing the little ladder so he could reach the lid, and putting the Daisy 105 Buck BB Gun into what might as well be a big black hole in space. While crying uncontrollably. Traumatic, to say the least.

Matt told me about it when I got home, but I didn't hear anything about it from Colton.

This morning, as we were driving to town, Chance and Colton got into another altercation. Nothing new here. Pretty much an everyday occurrence around our house - okay, who am I kidding, it's an hourly occurrence at least! So, during said altercation, Chance says - you better knock it off, Colton, or you'll have to throw this away just like your BB Gun.

Silence. Lots and lots of silence.

So, I ask him - did you have to throw away your BB Gun?



I don't want to tell you.

Why not?

I just don't want to talk about it! (crying now)

All right, buddy.

Do I have to tell you?

No, you don't have to tell me this morning. You can tell me when you're ready.

Insert - I have the rear view mirror set so I can look in the back seat as we have this conversation.

Colton looks at me.

Don't look back here. I'm not telling you anything! I don't want to talk about it!

Okay. (But I'm thinking - don't you realize I already know?? You're not hiding anything - you just have to tell me, and this thing could be over!)

Don't even look at me. Leave me alone! (Now hiding over by the window so I can't see him in the mirror) I don't want anyone to bother me.

Now, in the back of my mind, I have a separate conversation going on with God. Actually, it's not much of a conversation, cause I'm pretty much just the listener. It's going something like this:

You know the Psalm about not hiding from Me? This is how silly you look when you try. I already know it all. I love you anyway. You don't confess your sin for Me, you confess it for your own good. Sometimes you try and drag things out, and hide from Me. I already know. You're not hiding anything. Just get it over with! I love you more than you love Colton. Can you imagine that?

It was so cool. It was hard to be mad at Colton's stubbornness, because God had me smiling at my own the whole time. What a lesson. What a God we serve.

If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. 1 John 1:9

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fun at the Beach

I am so doing this craft the next time we are at the beach. Too fun!!

I probably won't use it as a centerpiece, but for some cute garden stones (feet, too!), I think it's a great way to "cement" your little one's hand in your memory. Thanks, Family Fun!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hello Mother, Hello Father

Hello mother, hello father,

here I am at Camp Grenada.

Camp is very entertaining,

and they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining...

I went hiking with Joe Spivy.

He developed poison ivy.

You remember Leonard Skinner;

He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner.






Dearest father,Darling mother,

How's my precious little brother?

Let me come home if you miss me.

I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me...

Wait a minute...

It stopped raining!

Guys are biking.

Guys are sailing,

playing baseball...

gee, that's better!

Mother, father, kindly disregard this letter!

by Allan Sherman

A day at camp for Chance. He had a blast. Hence, the camp name - Summer Blast. He can't wait for next year--although I don't exactly know why--getting details is like pulling teeth, as usual. He warned me not to post anything on the blog - so, you didn't see this, okay??
Thanks to Pam, Kent, the Alliance Church, and all the volunteers and helpers. You made a very special week for a lot of kids!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sorta Like Thelma & Louise

Sorta. 'Cept without so many cops, and Darla and I are both at work today, not dead at the bottom of a canyon. Also, there were no guns. But what with all the driving, joking, and estrogen, it was almost exactly like those other two hooligans!

It was month-end at work this week. Interesting, isn't it, that month-end always comes at the end of the month? I wonder if that happens at all companies, or just ours? Forgive my redundancy.

It was also arguably one of the busiest paperwork months of our year.

Combine that with the fact that Darla and I each took a vacation somewhere in the middle of it.

It made for a busy, stressful, f-bomb flying kind of week around our office. Do not despair - our good Lord has forgiven Darla for all her cursing and swearing, and I am trying to bring her back to my narrow, righteous path of only exclaiming "Oh My Word!" when things start going wrong. Oh, I kid. Neither one of us said fallappadoozie more than once or twice.

Anyway, because it just didn't seem stressful enough, we also had a company picnic to plan for about 200 people on Friday night. Darla is the spearhead of this fun event, but I am always more than willing to lend emotional support and brute work force to the equation. Because of the busyness (haven't I covered this already?) of the week, only the bare minimum of the planning was accomplished. Everything else was left for Friday. Because, you know, it's a good idea to actually bill out the goods and services rendered during the month so that you still have a job to come back to after the picnic.

When I walked in on Friday morning, I was a bit late. This is a rare, rare occurrence, so Darla knew I must be extra-tired. Thankfully, she had cleared our schedule for the day. We were headed out, for a day of driving, shopping, dining, and planning. Yes, yes, just what I needed.

We headed to "big town" (as Jane calls it), armed with a sketchy list, a guess of the total number of guests, and determination to have a light-hearted day. We hit the Dollar Store first, and loaded up on some cheap supplies like table covers, serving spoons, and serving trays - so that if things walked away from the party, we wouldn't have to stress that they were a manager's priceless heirloom. Yes, this has happened in the past. Maybe not heirloom, but priceless indeed. We learn from our mistakes.

Next, we might have made a bit of a detour to Joe's for camping supplies. We'll call that our morning break.

Then, we called a friend who works in the "big city" branch of our company, and asked her to join us for lunch. She was available, and we had a fantastic lunch at PF Chang's before endeavoring out to the rest of our shopping experience.

Now comes the crux of our adventure. The Cash N Carry.

For both of us, this was our first experience at this fine establishment. Thanks to Darla propositioning the Sno Cone guy (an innocent gentleman obviously purchasing Sno Cone supplies for his thriving flavored-colored-frozen-water shack), that she would trade him a hamburger for a Sno Cone if he'd come to our party, it might be our last.

In the beginning, we both stared off with a "cart" that looked much like this one. They were a bit hard for the novice shopper to maneuver. And that was us--novices. What's it called when all the wheels turn, as opposed to just the front ones? You know, like that truck GMC tried to make, but was completely unsuccessful? Anyway, that's what the carts were like.

And the aisles were very narrow.

And, there were other shoppers in the store that actually wanted to be able to traverse the aisles alongside us.

This leads me to my most sincere apology to the couple in Aisle 1, who are still consoling their darling young son, whom Darla tried to entice into driving her cart for her. She offered him $20. He got that "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers" look in his eyes, and stayed very close to his parents the remainder of their shopping trip. Which is good. Kids should stay close to their parents. We did him a favor in the end. We could have been actual mean people. Apology retracted - you're welcome.

Darla returned her cart after Aisle 2.

It would be up to me from this point forward. It was not an easy load, but one that I was willing to carry for the team.

So, as "we" wheel it up to the cash register, it is holding a record-breaking amount of food:

7 cases of hamburger patties

8 large bags of hamburger buns

4 large bags of hot dog buns

1 massive can of olives

1 equally massive jar of pickles

2 bricks (more like cinder blocks) of sliced cheese

Several bottles of condiments

3 stacks of plates

15-ish bags of chips




The only thing missing was the dessert Darla wouldn't let me buy. And, she had the audacity to complain that I'd gently smooshed a couple packages of buns en route. Like she could've done any better.

By the check out stand, we are both out of control. What started out as giggles in Aisle 1 have turned into all out belly laughs. The checker is not impressed. I think she was jealous of our obvious glee.

We were a little nervous that we had picked the wrong beef patties, and a call on the cell phone to the guy cooking them who had requested this brand did not bolster our confidence, so Darla asked the gal if the ones we picked were good ones. "I hear they are," the gal says. You hear? The box boy (aka cart police) laughs - "She's a vegetarian!" Great, we're getting burger advice from the vegetarian who has no sense of humor. Oughta be a great BBQ.

Although they admired me much for my grocery stacking abilities, they stacked our goods onto two carts when we checked out, and forced Darla to drive one to the Yukon. At that point, the checker gal gives us a piece of advice that should have been handed out on the way in. "Those are way easier to pull instead of push." Thanks, sweetie, that really helps.

It is at this point in our delirium in which Darla propositions the Sno Cone guy. I think she was having a hot flash. It's the only explanation I can think of, because he wasn't even cute. Oh, you're right, she was probably thinking about the kids, and how they would have loved a Sno Cone at the BBQ. That's gotta bit it - she's always all about the kids having fun. Phew - I was still worried about that part, if you want the truth.

We safely load our groceries, and head back to "small town" for our BBQ. But not without a quick? stop at Red Robin for dessert. Let's call this our afternoon break.

The BBQ went off with nary a hitch. It was a great evening, enjoyed by all who decided to attend. The unspoken surfing competition will be a real competition next year (for prizes!), along with a water slide race, bumper tubes on the lazy river, and biggest splash competition off the high dive. It will be more loads of fun. As long as I can drive that cart again next year, I'm all for it!
PS - The burgers were great. Veggie Tale's gal didn't steer us wrong. Thank goodness. That would've been some good vegetarian humor to send us out of there with 210 sub-par beef patties. But, as we previously discussed, that would have meant she had a sense of humor. Sorry. That was mean. I'm sure she was just having an off day. I should know - I had just had four of them in a row. I will be nicer next time. Sorry.

PPS - if you fancy yourself an espresso junkie, Cash N Carry has a whole aisle of stuff that would turn your office into a veritable Starbucks in moments. It was most impressive, and enticing. If my cart hadn't already been really full, we may have stocked up. Maybe next time, I can get Darla to drive a cart, and we'll have twice the purchasing power. The thought will keep me going another year . . .

Friday, August 1, 2008

Favorite Ingredient Friday - Craisin Salad

This is not my recipe, but was passed to me from a friend after I devoured it at a camp out! I have no idea where to give the credit, but it is a fantastic salad.

Craisins Salad
1 head of each: red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce
1 8oz. pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 8oz. pkg. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 8oz. pkg. Craisins
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 recipe Craisins Salad dressing (see below)

Break red and green leaf lettuce into pieces. Shred iceberg lettuce. Toss together with other ingredients just before serving. Pass dressing with salad. Makes approx. 12 servings.

Craisins Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 onion, chopped (if you've been here awhile, you know this is optional)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. mustard
1 cup salad oil
In blender, mix all ingredients except oil. Add oil and blend again. YUM!

Head over to Overwhelmed with Joy for more salad recipes today. Happy Friday!