Saturday, February 16, 2013

What's in yours?

I think we complicate things sometimes. We want to do God's will, but think its all complicated and mysterious. In the Old Testament God was telling Moses to do stuff (forgive my lack of theological accuracy) and instead of agreeing, Moses was busy telling God all of the reasons he couldn't do it. God simply asked Moses, "What do you have in your hand?" and then all of the rod-to-snake jazz happened. And God used that. Pretty cool.

 I think we do the same thing. God shows us things we're supposed to do or gives us opportunities. We are focused on our lack - what we don't have or can't do that often we miss the opportunity. 

Here is something that happened to me recently.

I've been anticipating a hard week. This coming Thursday would have been my son Caleb's 18th birthday. Caleb has been gone since 2005 when we lost him in a car accident at the age of ten. His birthdays can be really hard.

I was talking to a friend on Friday. She told me that her husband suddenly lost his job about two weeks prior. It was bad. With his being the sole income for their household, they didn't know where the money was coming for anything - mortgage, cell phones, food. Another friend and I listened to and encouraged her. Then a thought struck me - I remembered that her young daughter's birthday was also this coming Thursday - I always knew that her birthday fell on the same day as Caleb's. I felt like God was nudging me - "What do you have in your hand?" Well, I had knowledge of this same birthday. I also had some extra money due to some extra work I'd gotten lately. I could only imagine how hard it would be to manage birthday gifts when you're worried about where your food is going to come from. I asked her what her daughter wanted for her birthday and her clothing size. She tearfully mentioned a couple of things. I told her I feel like I'm supposed to get some of those things and bring them to her - given as a gift from them, not me.  

 Now, I don't say any of this to boast about what I'm doing to help somebody. Really in the scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal. I even feel like it may be helping me too. Out of my loss and grief, I can focus on someone else - I may be literally spending the money I would have spent on my own son's birthday to bless a little girl who wants to enjoy her special day. PLUS, I get to shop for GIRL stuff - and I never get to do that! 

It really does amaze me when I stop and listen, God shows me how to use what is in my hand. 

What's in yours?

Monday, November 14, 2011

480 Minutes

So, I've been trying this new thing.

I am and always have been a "late-night" person. I average probably about six hours of sleep a night. Hey, there's a lot of life going on and I don't want to miss anything.

I decided the other night to just go to bed at a time that would give me eight hours of sleep.

Crazy, I know.

Here's the thing, though. I woke up not feeling tired.


Hmmmm.


This might not stick, but I'll take it for now.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Loving my neighbor. Adventures in taking the bible literally.

"You boys need to tell your dad to come out here and fix this fence before your dog jumps over it and attacks my kids!"

These are words I overheard coming from my backyard the other day as my two boys, 10 and 12, we're playing in the backyard. I stepped into the bathroom and looked out the back window, giving me a good view of the backyard. I could tell my kids were spooked by this confrontation. I went downstairs and outside.

Long story short, I ended up at the back fence, anticipating a perhaps not-so-pleasant chat with a neighbor. She again passionately voiced her concern over the condition and safety of our sagging fence. 

Granted, said fence is about as old as our 60+ year old house. It once served as a safety net to a falling tree and is indeed quite saggy and sad looking. 

This is all stuff that I already knew.

She also felt the need (and seemed to find sadistic enjoyment) to tell me that my kids were HANGING on the fence, thus encouraging its sagginess. 

Hanging. Can you believe it? Boys, hanging on something. Huh.

(I'd like to mention at this point that I resisted the opportunity to tell her that one of her kids, turns out it's her grandson, climbed on (actually over) the fence as well. I also could have told her that he then proceeded to urinate in our backyard before climbing back over. Again, I decided to not add that particular fuel to this particular fire.)

I think she expected my reaction to my boys hanging (I believe the word she used was "swinging") on the fence to be one of disgust. I felt a shrug was sufficient. 

Anyway, back to this whole deal with my dog jumping over and attacking her kids...

Um, have you met my dog? I sincerely doubt he could hoist his 8-year-old, 85-pound body with his arthritis-ridden legs over the fence. Let's say for fun, though, that he did. The only harm that may come to them at the mercy of my dog would be being licked and befriended to death. People are his thing. 

We told her both of these, but she and the baby on her hip were unconvinced. 

My only recourse really was to reassure her that my husband and large son would indeed fix the fence. She assured me over and over again that she wasn't trying to start a fight - she just wanted her kids to be safe. 

I get it.

And I got to thinking about it. 

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and I think I tend to take that un-literally. Our neighbor means people around us, right? Not our actual, literal neighbors? Maybe not. Will this lady feel loved if she feels her kids are safe? Probably.  Will it kill us to spend about an hour, some wire and some man-power on fixing a saggy fence? No. (We probably should fix it anyway in the name of good homeownership.)

Let's say we don't fix it - just out of a desire to be right. And let's say this lady happens to see my husband preaching somewhere or me leading worship. I wonder how much this situation might lessen the effectiveness of what we say and do. 

That probably won't happen. But it could...

So we'll fix the fence. And apologize for letting it fall in disrepair. And maybe bake her some cookies. And smile and wave at her a lot. And buy her a pony...

Just kidding.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

*waves from far off in the horizon*

hi

I'm coming back to the blogosphere.

You should be excited because I have a lot of interesting things to say.

Stay tuned....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Funny stuff, baby

I ordered a CD from cdbaby.com for the first time (and that itself is kind of a long story which I will save for later) and they just sent me the email to confirm that it had been shipped. It made me giggle. Please read the following:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, September 20, 2010.
We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!


Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Sigh...
We miss you already. We'll be right here at http://cdbaby.com/, patiently awaiting your return.


This alone makes me want me to order from them again!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

House Rules

So we're getting there. We've got several days of school under our belts and we're chugging along.

Now, on to another matter. The HOUSE. Oh, it's bad! In the midst of our busy summer, we've let the house get a bit, uh... out of control. I don't think anyone has done an official chore in months. I mean, people will do stuff when I ask... uh tell them to but there's no order to our "madness." Now it's time to deal with all of that. We've got our scholastic wits about us and are back into the routine.

I was googling some chore charts and ideas and stumbled on a blog that had some house rules and when I started to think about it, dealing with the attitude behind the chores first may be the way to go. I edited those rules and are using them as a starting point. Here they are as they stand now:

Stevens House Rules

1.    Pick up after yourself
2.    No name-calling or mean words
3.    Be respectful of others need for space
4.    Chores and homework must be done before screens
5.    Be positive and supportive of your brothers’ efforts
6.    Manners! “Please” & “Thank You” will take you a long way.
7.    If you say you are BORED – I will find a job for you to do.

 

It's a start. I'm trying to add a little more - maybe make it a nice, even 10.

Thoughts, oh wise friends? What should I add?






Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ethics... and things that fall into similar categories

So I'm in a book club with two dear friends (and, quite frankly, we think we're pretty cool) and my next read is due by the end of this month. I feel it necessary to highlight that there are two kinds of readers - book borrowers and book buyers. My sister, for example is a book buyer because she is a re-reader. I am not a re-reader (OK, sometimes I'll read a book more than once, but that's only if it's really good. I figure with the precious little time I have to read, I want to get in as many titles as I can) and therefore am a HUGE fan of the library. I don't even mind a fee once in awhile because I figure I own the library something for its awesomeness. Baltimore County has a fabulous library system. I am indeed enamored with it.

Our book for September is Emily Giffin's Heart of the Matter. I flippin' LOVE Emily Giffin! I just read her Love the One Your With while I was on vacation and it took me all of two days. I can't wait to get my hands on this new one.

Here's the problem - because it's a new book and because it's filled with Ms. Giffin's fabulousness, I'm like number 3,000,000 on the waiting list to get my paws on it. Here's the dealio, though. I found out another close branch has a large print copy of it available - like NOW!

My question is this - is it unethical or bad form for me to check out the large-print copy when I don't need it (though I am pushing 40 - it's only a matter of time)? What if some older, feeble, optically challenged woman wants to bask in Giffin wonder and I'm reading the LT version? I feel like it's akin to using the handicapped stall in the bathroom.

Thoughts? Permission to proceed?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Homeschooling... so far...

Well, yesterday the big yellow school busses came and took my monkeys away as they do every fall. This year, though, for the first time in about six years, one monkey didn't get on. That part was a little weird but, again, after much prayer, weighing and thought, homeschooling is what we really feel is best for Mr. Micah this year. And, though we're not in full swing until next week, it will be a nice adjustment for him I believe. The very thought of going to middle school was seriously stressing him out. After his declining grades and inability to perform in the classroom well without one-on-one attention, we find ourselves peacefully here.

In the spring, when I started tossing around this idea, I happened upon www.Time4Learning.com. I poked around on the website and read several (almost all positive) reviews on other sites. The monthy price is extremely reasonable and they even offer a two week money back guarantee. Just after Micah's birthday at the end of July, I signed him up to give it a try. I figured this would give us the rest of the summer to figure out if this would be a good fit and give us time to land solidly on what we want to do for school.

The first time we logged on was actually the evening that we had his birthday party - so let me truly set the scene - we had a very fun, busy pool party that ran until about 8:30pm. Needless to say, after cleaning up and all the other nonsense that goes with parties, we were pretty tired! I was so excited to try it out, though, that around 11:30pm, I parked my 11-year-old in front of the computer anyway to see what he thought. The decision was to start with math (math is one of his favorite subjects. He was in GT math in public school last year for 5th grade so I figured it wouldn't be too stressful :-). I gave him a quick tutorial in how to get to his lessons and we clicked to start the math lesson. The loading screen came on - a monkey - and he starts laughing (admittedly, I did too). The lesson launched in about Roman Numerals using animated, cartoon-type characters and he was hooked. The lesson was fairly long and he sat there and did every problem! I did not once have to say, "Come on, keep going, let's just finish." When he was done I asked him how he thought this would be for school and he said, "This is GREAT! I really like it" and not in a say-what-mom-wants-to-get-her-off-my-back way!

We continued lessons (mostly math) that week with the same interest/enthusiasm. The following week, we left for vacation. Fortunately, we had internet access in our condo. Now get this - my son was asking to do lessons while we were on vacation! Yes, my inattentive ADHD son who struggled in school last year was doing school work by choice. Woot woot! He tried some other subjects during this time. He was a little disappointed to find that not every subject has movies and characters - some of it, like History sections, you actually have to read (heaven forbid!) and answer questions, but I assured him we can tackle those together if they get overwhelming. Another thing I really like about it is that when you enroll your child, you have access to not only the grade (s)he is in, but the grades above and below their grade as well (which will work well for my aforementioned GT math student). He also really likes the playground, which is a type of built-in "reward system" that features games, puzzles, etc. They accumulate minutes on the playground by doing lessons and then have a cyber reward for their hard work..

I'm excited about a supplement they offer - Time4Art. I believe once you have had an account for about 30 days, you get access to this too. Check that off of the homeschool checklist!

I've logged on as a parent as well and meandered around. I like that parents can look into the lessons and preview what is coming up. Unfortunately (I think because we did our trial) I didn't do quite as much nosing as I plan to, mostly because we did our trial in the summer and it's... well... summer! I didn't have a need to post to message boards, but I have been on them and read many helpful things. They even group students by state which poses some interesting field trip possibilities.

If you're homeschooling and looking for something from which to base your core or even to supplement what you're already doing, Time4Learning is high on my recommendation list. Check it out!

*I'd like to mention that these opinions all belong to little ol' me. None of this content was written by Time4Learning but the author (moi) was compensated for giving a review.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I remember you like yesterdays...

"Yesterdays"
by Switchfoot

Flowers cut and brought inside
Black cars in a single line
Your family in suits and ties
And you're free

The ache I feel inside
Is where the life has left your eyes
I'm alone for our last goodbye
But you're free

I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
I still can't believe you're gone, oh...
I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
And until I'm with you, I'll carry on

Adrift on your ocean floor
I feel weightless, numb, and sore
A part of you in me is torn
And you're free

I woke from a dream last night
I dreamt that you were by my side
Reminding me I still had life
In me

I'll carry on

Every lament is a love song
Yesterday, yesterday
I still can't believe you're gone
So long my friend, so long

It's been five years since we said an unwilling goodbye to our ten-year-old, Caleb. Of course, we set this day aside to reflect, more than we do in just our daily routine because, honestly, there's still not one single day that goes by that I don't think about him.

After five years, the grieving process gets a little different. I guess the grieving and remembering are more concentrated on days like today, his birthday and Mother's/Father's Day. There are still those random things, though that creep up and kind of nab you when you're not expecting it. Sometimes having to "go there" trashes the rest of my day and sometimes I stumble a bit, get my footing and go on. I suppose it will always be like that.

I don't want it to seem like it's a big inconvenience that I have this in my life, messing up otherwise ideal or perfect days. On the other hand, though, I don't like it. I'll never like the fact that I set the table for five instead of six. I'll never get used to the fact that I should have two boys in high school now instead of one. I hate that my nine-year-old has very fuzzy memories of the brother he lost when he was only four. There's nothing about losing my son that is fair or that I like.

But when I stop and breathe in and stop banging my fists, there is this standstill peace that God is still in control. I have no choice but to trust Him until we're done here on this side of eternity and I can see my son again and thank my God for not giving me more than I could handle without His strength (though it didn't always feel like it) and I suppose maybe I'll know why. But I might not.

So today, I blog as a huge part of my process, and we Stevens will cling as we remember and continue to process our loss and heaven's gain.

Do me a favor though? Just love on those kids of yours. Not out of fear of what you could lose. but just because God put them there.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back on the homeschool trail...

Well, education is always an interesting road. I've always believed that each year is different for each kid. Years ago, we felt led to take Joshua and Caleb out of public school and homeschool them for three years. It wasn't necessarily easy to homeschool two elementary-aged boys along with chasing after a pre-schooler and a baby. But overall, it was good. Really good. Looking back, I see God's hand even more in all that because we had no idea those would be our final years with Caleb, and what a blessing it was to spend 24/7 with him the last three years of his young life.

So here we find ourselves again. That aforementioned pre-schooler is now going into middle school. To say that the last few years of school have been enjoyable for him would be a stretch. After noticing that he was really struggling with some things, Mic was diagnosed with ADHD, the inattentive type. To put it generally, he doesn't fit into the school "box" very well. After quite a bit of praying, talking to others, research, schedule juggling, etc. we've made the decision that the middle school experience for Mic will best be served at home.

I'm excited about it. It will be a challenge, but the idea of allowing him to explore and learn in his own unique style is exciting. The resources available on the internet now (verses nine years ago) offer us so much more. I'm thinking about using www.Time4Learning.com as his core since it goes all the way through 8th grade and offers all subjects. On that note, I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning’s online curriculum for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own so be sure to come back and read my experience with Time4Learning’s educational program. Click to find out more or if you would like to apply to be considered for a review.

I'm also excited and encouraged about the other homeschool moms in the area that are on this same journey. Some of us have gotten together, just to pick each other's brains. We're actually getting together again this week.

SO... stay tuned. The journey should be interesting...

PS - Oh, and tomorrow is Mic's 11th birthday :-)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Thirteen #16

I'll keep this simple i.e. random thoughts that run through my mind and eventually congregate into lists. The beauty of a blog, no?

Thirteen Things People Should Try to do on a Daily (or at least semi-regular) Basis

1. Be polite - It's not that hard, people. A please here, a thank you there. Come on now...

2. Make music - whether it's a radio in the kitchen or in a symphony on the stage of a concert hall, give it a shot. I'm blessed enough to have music as my job all day long. Just pick something you like.

3. Laugh - call my friend, Kate, if you encounter any trouble with this one.

4. Own a dog - I've never considered myself to be an "animal person" meaning, I don't have an automatic love for every dog I see, but I love MY dog. He's quite wonderful.

5. Pray - God's there and He's listening.

6. Get pedicures - what a fabulous invention. Despite the scrubby part that really tickles, I love a pedicure. And there's something to be said for beautiful toes.

7. Eat some chocolate - might not be your thing, but I sure like to have a little each day!

8. Read - I've heard it makes you smarter. Just sayin'.

9. Volunteer/Serve - what better way to get your mind off of your own problems than to help take care of someone else's. And you don't get paid. Except you really do.

10. Have a best friend - this was life or death to me in junior high, but I think after 20 plus years, I've gotten this one into perspective. There is such a wonderful thing about having a friend who totally "gets" you. Why not invest a little time into making that a big, wonderful part of your life? If you don't find it right away, it's ok. Keep trying. And why not try to find as many as you can while you're at it?

11. Pay whatever it costs for a haircut you love and makes you look fabulous - I think this one speaks for itself.

12. Sleep on comfortable sheets - I prefer flannel or 100% cotton myself. I'm sure there's some statistic about what percentage of our lives we spend sleeping. Bottom line, I like it. A lot. Might as well be as comfortable as possible.

13. Be free with telling the people you love that you love them - can you really say it too much? Life is short and goes by fast, friends.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Thursday Thirteen Strikes Back (or whatever other sequel you'd like to use)

Ah. My old and dear friend, the Thursday Thirteen. How I've missed you. You're glad to see me. I know, I know. Don't gush and cause a scene and embarrass me...

So as to not strain or pull anything, I'll start with an easy one. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, straight from Katy's little notebook with the purple flower, I give you (drumroll)

Thirteen Books on my to-read list

1. "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (this is our June book club pick. I have to have it done by the 29th or Ami and Kate will have my head.)

2. "Take Three" by Karen Kingsbury (the third in another engaging series by Mrs. Kingsbury)

3. "The Secret Life of Bees " by Sue Monk Kidd (The movie is currently on my DVR and Ami and Kate said I'm not allowed to watch it until I read the book. They're so bossy)

4. "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger (upon recommendation from my sister - who actually hasn't read it yet. It was recommended to her as well)

5. "Still Waters" by Jennifer Lauck (Book club for July)

6. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris (I bought this at Ukazoo. I love David Sedaris. I read "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" a few summers ago and found myself laughing out loud)

7. "Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah (Book club for August. I saw it reviewed in my Woman's Day magazine)

8. "Midwives" by Chris Bohjalian (Book club for September-ish. This was another recommendation from my sister. She reads a lot. Just sayin')

9. "Heart of the Matter" by Emily Giffin (I read Giffin's "Something Blue" in literally less than 24 hours. Needless to say, I like her and am looking forward to her newest)

10. "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Phillipa Gregory (Book club for October-ish. Another one recommended by my sister - she has practically threatened my general well-being if I don't read it)

11. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (Kate is reading it and seems quite pleased)

12. "Parenting a Child with ADHD" by Dr. Vincent J. Monastra (because I need help!)

13. "Saint Ben" by John Fischer (I read the sequel "The Saints and Angels Song" years ago not knowing it was a sequel. I'll probably read it again too because I remember liking it)

My hours behind the front desk at the pool this summer should help to accommodate my list. I think I read six books last summer. Yay!

Read any of these?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'm baaaaack!

So it's been over a year.

I know.

I've been a busy girl. Don't hassle me.

Truth is, I really have missed blogging and since the beginning of the new year, I've been plotting my comeback. Well, not plotting exactly, more like thinking about getting my random thoughts back on the world wide web via... well THIS. These thoughts have usually come at random and inopportune times - i.e. the shower, while I'm teaching a piano lesson, etc.

Then you have to plan your comeback, which I figure I pretty much suck at. It having to be a certain way and all. So today, on this random Saturday (not terribly random - it's actually my youngest son's 9th birthday :-) I was sitting here at the computer doing all sorts of important things like renewing library books, checking my email, giving my Pet Society pet a bath... and I thought "why don't I jump on and write a blog."

So here I am.

I promise I have lots of blog-worthy, random, semi-important (in my mind anyway) thoughts. There may not even be anybody following this anymore, but I figured that doesn't really matter. Here I am.

You may exhale.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The frugal shall inherit the earth

Not only did I buy Ninja Turtle valentines on clearance after Valentine's Day last year, but I actually had the wherewithall to put them somewhere I could find them for this year.

Can I get a what what?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

If only...

This morning while I was still lying in bed, I overheard Jacob upstairs say,

"I had a dream last night that Caleb came back to life and I thought, 'Please don't let this dream end!'."

Amen, buddy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Things

How appropriate for my 200th post! (confetti)

I spent all of this energy doing this little thingy for my facebook I figured I'd put it on here, too. It's random. Enjoy....

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. Though I do it quite a bit out of obvious necessity, I really don't like cooking. I really have to stick to the recipes, unless it's something I make a lot, the success is not guaranteed, It's devoured in like five minutes.... AAHHH!

2. I absolutely love my husband. He's one of the smartest, perceptive, most resilient, loving people I know.

3. I was a major nail biter until I got braces when I was 13. Then I couldn't seem to make it work anymore. Hmmm...

4. I absolutely cannot fall asleep if my feet are cold (which is most of the time). They're caled Bed Buddies. You can get them at Walgreen's.

5. When I eat a muffin, scone, etc, I don't take bites out of it -- I break it off into little pieces with my fingers and eat it.

6. I would audition for American idol, but I'm too old. Boo.

7. My favorite swear word is "crap"

8. I have an unreasonable fear of locking my keys in my car though I've only done it like twice in my whole life. This fear is so overwhelming that if I am leaving my keys in the ignition even if I KNOW the doors are unlocked, I will roll down the window. Even if it's raining.

9. My favorite singer is Eva Cassidy. God rest her soul....

10. If I had my way, I would stay up until like 2am every night and sleep until 10 or 11am.

11. I love my boys very much. They're so awesome. Though I would never trade any of them, I would have really loved to have had a girl. Not in the plans I guess.

12. I'm a voracious reader. I have a list of favorite authors a mile long.

13. I have five holes in my ears. First one on my eighth birthday, the second a week before HS graduation and the cartilage in my left ear when I was about 26. I wouldn't mind one more, but we'll see. Also wouldn't mind a simple tattoo. We'll see about that, too.

14. I am an extremely frugal person - almost to the point that I have to tell myself to relax and just enjoy life a bit.

15. I make my own ringtones.

16. I grew five inches in three months - the summer between 6th and 7th grades. I ended 6th grade at a normal 5'2" and started 7th at a freakish 5'7". Made junior high REAL fun!

17. I'm a little OCD about returning videos. I will check the case like a million times to make sure I have the right DVD in the case. I know. Weird.

18. If given a blank map of the United States, I could identify all of the states and name the capitals.

19. Until my early 20's, I had never set foot in a salon. My hair had always been cut and permed (yes, permed) in my kitchen by my mother.

20. I have never had my wisdom teeth removed because I was born without any (as was my sister).

21. I can't rap. At all. It's amusing, actually.

22. The house in which I grew up did not have am oven. Only a stove top and a microwave.

23. I am very crafty - scrapbooking, crochet, I used to sew (and miss it)...

24. To amuse ourselves as young teenagers, my sister and I made movies (soap operas, commercials, talk shows, murder mysteries, etc.) with any unsuspecting friends who happened to be spending the night. They are...... awesome.

25. I wore glasses from the time I was ten, contacts from the time I was 13. About two years ago I got Lasik and it has been one of the best things I've ever done. I only wish I had done it sooner!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stuff

It's Saturday (I think - kinda have lost track). I'm sitting in a hotel lobby in Cincinnati (which I'm proud to finally be able to spell correctly) at a Sweet Adelines event - Region 4's Winter Warm-up. When I tell people that I sing in a Sweet Adelines quartet, it's hard to even start to explain what it means if you've never been around the organization. It's women's barbershop - 4-part a capella (without instrumantal accompaniment) harmony. I sing with my sister, my mom and my mom's best friend, Pat. We really have a lot of fun and the technique of the singing is quiet challenging. We compete once a year (hopefully twice this year if we can win the region in the spring and go on to International in the fall) and practice whenever we can all get in the same vicinity - Jen and I usually travel to Ohio from Nashville and Baltimore, respectively.

So it's fun. We're getting lots of practice time in and even a couple of opportunities to perform.

Time up to this weekend has been a blur. We took our youth group on a retreat the weekend prior to this one. It was pretty amazing - one of the best retreats we've ever had the privilege to do with a group I would say. God did so much in their lives and we got a chance to bond and have fun, too. For the retreat, we brought in a group of five young people from FL, plus our friend and former band-mate of my husband, Alton Hood. They all stayed at our house and we really enjoyed it.

Other than that, I've just been working - a lot. I'm up to about 31 hours of lessons every week, plus music classes at TCS on Wednesday mornings. I so love it, but I'm not going to lie - it's tiring. I think the hardest part is feeling like I'm keeping up with the house and the boys at the same time. Of course, it would probably help if I were a tad more organized, but c'est la vie.

That's all for now. Nothing earth-shattering and for that I am thankful.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Update on my silly phone kafuffle


I look back on how panicked I was about my phone (like two blogs ago) and I feel a bit silly. Thanks to Marshella's generosity with her time and automobile, some time and a little politeness and unabashed eyelash batting at a Verizon employee, I have a nifty new phone that I love. If I thought the Chocolate 2 was wonderful, the Chocolate 3 is even better! They ended up replacing it all together because of a glich in the texting software.

That is all. Back to your lives, citizens.

I got a hippopotamus for Christmas

You know, I figure if I continue to NOT blog, eventually people will stop checking -- and that just makes me sad. It's my own fault. Well, kind of. People, you would NOT believe how busy I was around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was busy with such good stuff, though, I can hardly complain. My work load has increased immensely -- a blessing, but a crazy one. To give you some perspective, I resumed this past week with a weekly load of 48 students. I neevr imagined when I branched out to do lessons full-time that it would become what it is.

Anyway, I did all that up until the day before Christmas Eve, in addition to being involved with and/or planning three separate programs - within a week.

And youth group on Tuesday nights.

Oh, and crocheting two teachers scarves.

Oh, oh oh! And that one thing... what is it called.... oh yeah. Christmas shopping.

Christmas arrived and brought with it Mom and Dad from Ohio and Jen and Chris from Nashville -- all spending time on the road to see little old us! We had a wonderful dinner, presents and..fun! It was really a great few days.

So - new years - small party as usual. Then, somewhere in there, I turned into a total slug. And remained so until regular life resumed on Monday, January 5th.

So... here we are.

I've been thinking a lot again about blogging and how much I've missed it. All of these little random things that happen in my life cross my mind as blogs.

A good reason to be back here. To make time for it. I have to and I want to.

Plus Louise has been threatening me and Mike is bummed out! Ah, it's good to be loved.

So here we go, folks. Happy 2009. I'm ready for the best year yet. I hope you are, too.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holy Chocolate, Batman.


My cell phone isn't working properly.

This, my dear reader, is a most frustrating predicament.

I have a chocolate. I love my chocolate (not because I love real chocolate. That is totally unrelated). About two weeks ago, I made an emergency swing over to the Verizon store because my display had cracked inexplicably. Seriously. One minute I was at Bible study and it was working fine, then BAM - big, ugly cracks and lines across the display. So Verizon replaced it - for free. (Have I mentioned I love Verizon?) Anyway, I started to notice like a week later that my screen would go blank and I would have to turn my phone off and then on. Now, the screen jst randomly goes blank and sometimes turning it off and on works, sometimes it doesn't :-( This affects many functions for which I've come to rely heavily on my cell. Texting for instance. I'm a very big texter - especially because it allows me to keep in communication with my husband while he's in meetings (which is most of the time) and I'm in lessons (also - most of the time!). Not to mention it's also my alarm clock and storage for phone numbers.

AHHH! We leave for Ohio tomorrow and I really need my cell to be functional - but today I have very little time and no car. Tomorrow is not much different.

AHHH!

(Disclaimer - I know there is nothing you can do to help my plight. I just needed somewhere to vent. Thank you for your patronage)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hair ye, hair ye!

I have to preface this by telling you my hair history. I grew up as the daughter of a beautician. Well into my 20's, I had never set foot in a hair establishment of any kind. When I strayed from my mother's hair care (primarily because of distance), I had beautician friends that would do my hair in their or my homes. Relocating geographically once again found my family and I at Great Clips. It's pretty simple - you go in, tell them what you want, they cut it, you pay and go home. I've also been coloring my own hair for the last few years -- buy the box, do the color (and mess up the bathroom) and, voila - new hair. I could never understand why any woman would have the need to go to a salon and spend all that time and money.

Today, however, my eyes were opened.

I sit here and type this with perhaps the most fabulous hair I've ever had. I spent three hours in a salon today belonging to a woman I had met not quite a year ago. This quaint, little salon pretty close to where I live.

I've never had anyone let me sit in the chair and talk about what I'd like to see for my hair, what I love and hate about color and highlights, what my goals are, etc. Melissa talked about my face shape, skin coloring, preferences and maintenance. She colored, washed, dried, highlighted and cut me to awesomeness. I was (and am) amazed at how much I love it. True, the frugal side of me is freaking out a tiny bit because I spend way more than I ever have to get anything like this done -- but strangely enough, it really does feel worth it. Is there a price to feeling gorgeous?

Go get your hair done already. Tell them Katy sent you...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Goodbye October

I can NOT let October slip by without blogging! I can't, I can't, I can't! It's not that I don't like blogging, dear friends -- I really quite enjoy it actually. But it's just that I get so busy (I know - everyone's busy -- but I've been SSOOOO busy!) and that "re-entry" blog is always so awkward. My dear friend, Louise, though has all been threatening to wring my neck if I don't blog soon, even encouraging no necessity for the re-entry blog.

So here I am -- sitting on my couch after a much-needed, long-awaited Friday afternoon of chizillin'. This week has been stressful to say the least. I'd rather not mess with details, but it's been stressful.

Not all stressful though. We had a lovely visit with my parents for the last two weekends (they vacationed in between) and Josh's 15th birthday last Saturday.

Speaking of Josh, he's adapted to high school and JV football well. His team is undefeated in the division and he's playing first-string offense and second-string defense. Pretty good accomplishment for a freshman! Though Eastern Tech is a fairly strict high school, Josh is really liking the higher standard to which the other students hold themselves.

Business for me has increased more than I ever thought possible. I have 45 piano, voice and flute students on my schedule right now which comes to about 24 hours a week. I'm also teaching music at the Christian school where I taught music last year and 6th grade a few years ago. It's cool. I have chapel and then three half-hour music classes with 3 year olds through 5th graders. All that adds up to a pretty busy week. I love what I do but it's busy all the same.

It's also quartet season again. We were asked to sing on both my sister's and my mom's Sweet Adeline chorus shows (in Nashville and Columbus, respectively) which were on two weekends pretty much in a row. Fun, fun but also busy just the same.

So here we are on the last day of October, huh. I've resolved this year to not complain about how fast time goes -- just enjoy each day.

That's all I have to say for now...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

:-(

I was cleaning the mop and bucket yesterday -- using bleach because they were... well, they were nasty. I looked down at my favorite brown shorts when I was done and saw a big spot of bleach on them!! They are totally ruined and I am totally bummed.

I am going to go back to Ross today and see if I can find the same pair because they were my very favorites.

At least the mop is clean?

:-(

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #14


I woke up with great plans to do a long-awaited Thursday Thirteen... and also with a headache. So my T13 plans have been pushed into the evening.

I'll keep it light friends and neighbors...

Thirteen Splurgy, Consumable Things that I Love

1. Starbucks - Duh. Who doesn't like Starbucks. My standard is a grande non-fat mocha with no whip. Only 4 Weigh Watcher points!

2. Baltimore Tea and Coffee's Rainforest Crunch -- This is actually the splurge that saves money on the Starbucks splurge. My husband and I discovered this locally made treat a couple of years back, I think. It's pricier than just "regular" coffee, but, oh so good and oh so much cheaper than buying the number of cups you'd get out of one pound (and for every ten pounds, you get one free. So there!)

3. Clam Chowder in a bread bowl from the Boston Chowda Co. in Quincy Market, downtown Boston, MA -- I get it every time we're in Boston. So good!

4. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese -- yes, I know the store brands are cheaper, but they just don't taste the same.

5. Rita's -- If you don't have a Rita's in your town, kindly write your congressman or whomever immediately. I have been a big gelati fan for years, but have recently discovered the Blendini. Extreme yumminess! It has custard, Italian ice and either 'nilla wafers or oreos mixed in.

6. BBQ pulled pork -- I've tried it a lot of places and loved it most.

7. Crab pretzels -- you heard me right; crab ON a pretzel. Get your tail to Baltimore and try it!

8. French fries and dipping sauce from Pommes Frite in NYC -- it's not necessarily the fries, though they are delish in their charming paper cones, as much as the sauces. My personal favorite is Vietnamese pineapple. This dive is within walking distance of the church at which we stay when we go to NYC. It's become something I really anticipate when we go to the city!

9. Sushi -- Raw fish never sounded appealing until I actually tried it. We've got two places near our house that are really good. Sushi is also surprisingly affordable.

10. Paula's fruit dip -- my friend, Paula, makes this incredible fruit dip (usually for strawberries) out of marshmallow fluff and cream cheese. It's become a staple of our scrapbooking events!

11. Hazel's chocolate chip cookies - I don't know what she does, but my friend, Hazel's, cookies are amazing... and addictive. I could actually probably do a whole T13 on just yummy stuff Hazel makes!

12. Sweet potato fries -- I pretty much love anything with the words "sweet potato" in it.

13. Berger cookies -- if you're not from Baltimore, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about -- they're local fare. Picture if you will and round piece of shortbread-like cookie. Now dab a big glob of chocolate, frosting-like fudgy goodness. I know, right. Oh my...

Hungry?


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sushi + Starbucks = awesome girls night!

Oh, I love my friends. I really do. We have SO much fun and, after tonight, I am more determined to make an effort to get together with my friends on a regular basis.

It started with Ami joining me after she got off of work to accompany an after school football pick-up of the oldest boy. She also got to witness the sacred vacuuming of the family van when she arrived. Lucky girl.

Anyway, we were joined by the charming Jess and headed to our first stop - sushi! We indulged in five sushi rolls. We actually kind of devoured them -- embarassingly so. They were SO good!

From there, on to Starbucks. We met up with Louise and sat outside and laughed, laughed, laughed. We marveled over many life-altering subjects such as, why do we call everything we order at Starbucks a "Starbucks"? Is it because we can't remember what we actually ordered by the time someone asks us? What's wrong with asking random strangers for their autograph? And my biggest question; why does every situation in life have to be tied to an episode of Friends?

If you don't have friends with whom you can just laugh and be stupid, I would highly recommend you find some right away.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Stevens is a cool freshman"

I have been putting my children on big, yellow school busses for several years now. Yeah, I teared up a little two years ago when I sent my youngest off to kindergarten, but normally they (and I) are ready for school to start back up.

Today was different though...

Today I sent my child off to high school.

Yeah. High school.

I know I'm not the only parent in the United States that sent their oldest child off the high school for the first time this morning. It has happened for years past and will continue for years to come. It's just so... weird. I mean, I remember high school. It wasn't that long ago. (OK, maybe it was :-) I've been kind of building up to it all summer, but it's starting to hit me. He's in high school.

One thing we for which we are SO thankful is the high school that Josh has the privilege of attending. Eastern Technical High School is strictly a magnet school; there is no district -- it is by application and qualification only. Only one of every three students that applies is admitted and it is one of the best public high schools in the area. Students get to chose an area of study as well. Josh has chosen multimedia communications - computer stuff, video editing, etc. It's stuff he likes (and I figure you might as well study stuff you like since you have to be in high school anyway) What a blessing that Josh has this opportunity!

Actually, if I may brag on him for a second... Josh has been weightlifting a good part of the summer to get ready for football. Then, he's been doing two-a-days (8-11, 1-4) since August 16th. After 13 JV players were cut, Josh not only remained on the team, but also made 1st string offensive and 2nd string defensive.

He's also learning wonderful lessons about seniority and hierarchy. He's been with just freshman and sophomores (the JV team) during football preparation and has seen how cocky, mouthy freshman tend to get food thrown at them and mildly harassed. He's kept his mouth shut and worked hard. Slowly but surely, he's starting to make some friends, some of them sophomores. The other day, one sophomore was asking another why he was talking to Josh, a freshman. This kid's reply? "Stevens is a cool freshman."

Ha. Stevens is a cool freshman. Yesssss. I knew it!

More than two hours after Josh got on the bus, it was time for Micah and Jacob to do the same. They are starting fourth and second grade, respectively. They were both excited about starting school, though both said their tummies hurt a little!

So the house is quiet - just Tucker and me - and I'm not going to lie -- I'm loving it! My lesson schedule doesn't swing into full gear (about 20 hours) until next week (I'm in my last week of my August schedule -- only about a dozen or so lessons). I have an opportunity to get on top of things this week, organizationally speaking. I'm hoping to make the most of my time, while also snatching some time with friends here and there.

Ah. The change of seasons and times. It's good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Let's call the whole thing off.

Growing up, I never cared much for tomatoes. In fact, I disliked them quite a bit.

Well, I just finished eating a tomato for lunch. Just a tomato. No salt or pepper. No nothing.

I think it all began to change when I realized that there are two kinds of tomatoes: the ones you buy in the grocery store and the ones you get out of friends' gardens. The first are watery and not appealing at all. The latter --- mmmmmm, buddy!

I probably discovered this years ago when we had our first garden in Ohio. Since coming to Baltimore, we haven't again gardened ourselves but fortunately have plenty of friends that do!

The tomato I just consumed was red and sweet and... well... quite wonderful.

Don't you just love late summer? Viva la tomatoes!!

Grrrrrrrr

If anyone actually did their chores without being asked or even did them thoroughly the first time, I think I would fall over in a dead faint.

Seriously.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How did it get to be mid-August?

Wow.

Hi.

Remember me?

I know I'm in big trouble with some of you who have been checking in regularly (thank you for doing that by the way) and finding nothing. Nevertheless, here I am! Da ta da!

As always, the easiest way to catch up is in bullets.. and backwards, I guess. So here I go:

  • Matt and Josh left for church camp on Sunday. I'm excited for the experience for both of them -- Josh especially. I've been holding down the fort with visitors and a delicate balance between busyness and laziness! I started back to part-time lessons last week, all the while working hard to fill my fall schedule.
  • My parents also left to go home on Sunday. Mom was here for a whole week and Dad drove in just this past Friday. We really had a nice time. And the weather, oh, the WEATHER has been GORGEOUS! I don't ever remember August being so non-humid and nice :-)
  • While my mom was here, we observed the third anniversary of Caleb's homegoing. It was a weird day, as it always is in some form. We kept the day pretty loose and mentally observed our own individual ways. We did go out to lunch and then on to the cemetery with flowers. Sorry I didn't do my usual reflective and lengthy blog. It certainly doesn't change the fact that it's still a difficult day and I still miss my boy...
  • The day my mom flew in, Matt and I arrived home from two full days away to celebrate our anniversary -- 16 years. We usually only go out for dinner or at the very most, away for one night and home the next morning. But this year, we had the time in our schedule and the responsibility of our 14-year-old to hold down the fort and were really able to get away. We drove to Wildwood, New Jersey (on the Jersey shore) and stayed in a charming little bed and breakfast. We had a whole little cottage to ourselves. It was really a couple of days like no other. We had no schedule or obligations, went to restaurants, walked along to boardwalk, drove around Wildwood and Cape May and, the highlight for me, walked on the beach in the moonlight (Matt even made a sand angel!). I can't even begin to explain how wonderfully relaxing it was and how badly we needed it!
  • About 10 days prior to our little getaway, we returned home from a concentrated month of Chain Reaction. We started in late June with our intern, Jess, arriving from Massachusetts. A few days later, Matt's mom and sister, Allayne, arrived for a week's visit as well. We were busy in our training and preparation for our first week: Baltimore. On a personal level, I was particularly excited about the Baltimore week. Not only was there a group coming from Howard county and another from a Mennonite church in Ohio, but there was a group coming from Trinity Baptist Church in Marion, OH; the church in which I grew up. Three of their leaders were people I had literally known since I was a child; two I grew up with in church and the other was my best friend in elementary school who lived down the street! Also serving as an adult leader was a woman whom I met and became friends with at a Women of Faith event last year. Not only was the week wonderful in hanging out with these old friends, but the true highlight was in the group itself. They came with such an amazing attitude to serve! They worked so hard and were truly open at the same time for God to do things IN them as well as THROUGH them. The rest of the teams were incredible too. Matt and I felt it was one of the best Chain Reaction weeks we've had to date. From there, we went to New York City to be a part of Abounding Grace Church's annual outreach -- Jesus Loves You New York. We got the opportunity to work with teams from Maryland, Minnesota and Florida. It was a hot, but good week. From there, we headed to our last leg: Haverhill, MA. We kidnapped one of the young adults from NYC, Frankie, and took him with us. This was the first year we went to the Boston area with no real service assignment, which was strange for us. We took a few days to be with the beloved Yeo family and to celebrate Micah's 9th birthday. We explored some parts of the area to which we had not yet been including a New Hampshire beach, Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine. We headed home from there sans our intern and via New York to return Frankie. We drove through a pretty nasty rain storm to come home, but were so glad to be back!
That's it in a very large nutshell. If you read the whole thing, I'll buy you a Starbucks or something!

School starts a week from this coming Monday. Hard to believe, yet true. I think the boys are ready to go back. Josh is both nervous and excited about starting high school. He's been working hard to get ready for football -- weight training since early June and starting two-a-days this coming Saturday.

OK. I'm going to finish watching tonight's installment of the Olympics and head off to bed. It's good to be back among the blogging. Big blessings to you as always...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rolling back my mental stability

They've really messed me up. I mean, you can't DO this. It has to be illegal or something.

We've lived in Baltimore for almost nine years now. In those nine years, I've been a regular, consistent patron of the White Marsh Walmart. I love it really. There's something very comforting about walking into a store and knowing roughly how much item will cost and exactly where to look for it. I mean, I could literally go into the store blindfolded and find what I'm looking for.

Until recently...

They

are

rearranging

my

WALMART!

I never knew something so simple could throw me off so much. I almost started crying the other day over the location of the bubbles. A woman asked me if I needed any help and I could only faintly ask, "Where did the toys go?"

I suppose I took for granted this simple stability. No matter what else was crazy in my life, I could walk into Walmart and still find paper towels in aisle 12.

Well, not anymore, my friend. Not anymore.

Additionally, I can't resist the urge to tell whomever I'm with what used to be in each location. I point to bedsheets and report, "This is where crafts used to be" or, "The paint chips were on this wall, not that one." And to make matters worse, they're not done yet so some things are in temporary locations so it's not even worth committing them to memory yet.

I feel... violated somehow.

Will I have an improved, more efficient Walmart when it' s all over? Probably.

Will I get used to it?

Eh.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What the... ?!

So I sit down to chill after a long, wonderful week of day camp (more on that later), thrilled to soak in the first episode of a brand new season of Shear Genius.

One, small question...

What in the WORLD happened to Jaclyn Smith's face?

Seriously.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's the middle of June...

... and I still have flannel snowman sheets on our bed.

Don't hate. They're comfy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shopping: a memoir

If you know me at all you know that I'm a person who doesn't like to spend more money than necessary. One could say that I'm cheap (thought that term is not my favorite because the words "and easy" could follow, giving the entirely wrong connotation) though I prefer the term "frugal". In any event, this information will make the following account more interesting and, I daresay, entertaining.

For Christmas this past year, I received a gift card from one of my piano/voice students and her mother. Now, I like gift cards. They make me feel... I don't know... powerful. I actually tend to hold on to them for longer periods of time than most would -- six months to a year on average. Weird, huh. There's just something about knowing I have this nice, designated money to spend that I enjoy.

OK. Back to my story. So I've had this gift card for awhile and, in a rare event, I found myself at the mall (buying a birthday present for my sister) and realized that this particular store (at which I had never shopped before - that's an important detail) was at said mall. I thought I'd stop in and make good on the gift card that had found itself a comfortable residence in my wallet for the past six months.

I was struck first by how expensive everything was. But, fortunately, it was a buy one, get one half off dealio so I became determined to stretch my $25 to buy not one, but TWO items. Oh, yes. I was walking out of there with two new garments or... well, I don't know what.

I ended up with two plain v-neck t-shirty type tops, one navy and one khaki -- nice solid staples to my wardrobe (I tend toward solid and practical -- something I should probably look into changing). I managed, without too terribly much thought, to spend exactly $.35 less than my gift card. Ha!

Anyway, when I got home, certain details from the purchase started to stand out to me. First of all, my shirts were in not a shopping bag, but more of a gift bag. And, get this, they were wrapped up in tissue paper and taped shut with a sticker bearing the name of the store. A sticker! In my world, stickers are for completed piano pieces by eight-year-olds, not clothing purchases. Oh, and there's one more part. I noticed a little envelope in the bag (also proudly bearing the store's name) that I hadn't previously noticed. What could it be? A present? Another gift card? No. It was my receipt! In a little envelope like a present. I had never seen anything like that in my life...

Now, allow me to compare that to my usual shopping experience. I'm a fan of Goodwill -- there's a fabulous one mere miles from our house. And on the last Saturday of the month, something magical happens. That's right, my friends. The last Saturday of the month is SUPER Saturday. The pool of already tantalizing pre-used clothing is an additional 50% off.

I'll give you a moment.

At Goodwill, I have to be in the mood for digging (which I usually am) and flip through various clothes sorted by color, not size -- all for bargain umbrella prices. If I'm looking at tops, I don't need price tags. I know they're all $3. When I check out, my treasures go into a plastic bag with the words "Thank You" in triplicate down the side of my bag. No tissue, no sticker, no envelope.

Interesting.

Which method do I prefer? I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the adrenaline from the hunt and the "post-bargain high" are pretty much my shopping life-blood. Whether it's genetic (I happen to be the spawn of an amazing bargain shopper) or a learned skill, Goodwill is a little more my speed. BUT, it is nice to be pampered once in awhile -- to feel like your selection time and purchase choice were celebrated is a fun change.

Of course, I can't fully appreciate that right now. I'm still little high off of finding Play Doh, two packs for $3 today...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Let's try this again

Birthday video from my boyz...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'd forgotten how much I like summer

The last few days have really been wonderful -- not because of any great event but more because of the lack of one. I'd forgotten how nice it is to have nothing on the schedule. Since the boys got off of school Wednesday, I've been letting them stay up late, sleep in, watch movies, run around like crazy people, etc. I woke up this morning to a quiet house and no place to be and it was... bliss! I know it's not going to last forever. In fact, I plan Monday on getting the boys on their summer schedule, bed times, chores and those wonderful workbooks I always make them do over the summer. But for now, Jacob is watching TV, Josh and Micah are still sleeping, Matt is running errands and I'm sitting here blogging, listening to a neighborhood lawnmower and smelling the brewing coffee in the kitchen and getting ready to make banana pancakes. See? Bliss.

Last night, we ate outside (as we do very often in the summer). After dinner, the boys ran around and chased lightening bugs and rode the wagon down the hill. Matt and I just sat there and talked. I said, "Wouldn't it be great if we could just freeze this night and save it? It's perfect."

His response, "Not really. The dog is drooling on my foot."

Can't blame me for trying!

I hope you're enjoying a few lazy days of summer yourself!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is it blogger or just me?

Argh! Josh made me this awesome video for my birthday and put it on YouTube. I'm trying to embed it in my blog, but every time I do, it freezes my whole blog up (like force quit Firefox freezes).

Again I say, argh!!

I'm going to work on it. It's really cute. You should see it...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Whew!

Notice anything different? Hmmm? Do I look any older? Yeah, yesterday was the ol' birthday. It was really quite a wonderful day. The was a lot of busyness (more about that in a second) and lots of people and I'm all about people.

So, yeah, yesterday. Matt preached at our church and did a wonderful job. He told our story and really used it to encourage people to trust God despite their circumstances. It was really great -- probably one of the best messages I've ever heard him preach.

We went straight from church, grabbed a bite at Wendy's, and Matt and the boys dropped me off at my next destination -- the church where I was having my semi-annual student recital. I was both nervous and excited about the recital. One of the main reasons for my nervousness was that I had almost twice as many students participating as I normally do -- 23 to be exact. I think the most I'd had up to this point was 13. I was excited about the variety we were offering in the program. When it was all said and done, everything went very well. We had our share of mistakes, forgotten words, etc. but that's to be expected.

Then we went to Don Pablo's with our friends. I got to wear a turquoise sombrero where the yelled birthday greetings at me. Matt and the boys got my a new iPod. Good birthday. I'm blessed.

I am so ready for life to slow down! Lessons and meetings and school stuff... AHHH! It has seriously been crazy. But this week, this week my friends -- school is done on Wednesday, I have my last piano/voice lesson until August on Thursday, our last youth group meeting is on Thursday... everything is coming to a blissful halt. Don't get me wrong, I love what I get to do for a living but I am ready for a break. I'm looking forward to spending more time with the boys and, honestly, I have had NO time to get this house organized. I am really hoping to do that, too before Chain Reaction kicks into gear this summer.

Oh yeah, and I may actually have time to BLOG once in awhile!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tragedy

My heart is so heavy for the family of Steven Curtis Chapman this morning as I heard the news of the accidental death of their five-year-old daughter.

I want badly to reach out to them somehow, but I don't know how. It's one of those situations where I can truly understand how they feel today. I'm familiar with the pain that lingers through the next days, weeks and years. How you wake up and the pain is still there. How you still run across pieces of laundry months later or other simple household papers that send you into tears. I want to tell and show then that they'll still be walking and breathing two and a half years from now. There will still be that hole, but God will help make it hurt a little less. Or a little more sometimes. Or a little different...

I've been praying particularly hard for their teenage son who was driving the car. They have layers of healing ahead, but I know God is able to be there every step of the way. I am praying for His supernatural presence and hand in their lives today.

I'm praying for a way to contact them somehow. I don't know if they need to hear from a perfect stranger right now, but... I don't know. I just want to make contact somehow.

Once again, friends, hold life carefully. It is precious and merely a grain of sand.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Feliz Cumpleanos


Today is Jacob's birthday. He is seven.

He is my baby and I can't believe he's that old.

We kept him home this morning, cancelled our meetings and took him out for breakfast. He had French toast. Then, they let him pick a free dessert. He subsequently ate an entire banana split.

Then we went and played miniature golf - just the three of us (Jacob rarely gets Matt and I all to himself).

It was very fun. I sincerely hope he remembers it forever....

Monday, May 12, 2008

My love/hate relationship with Mother's Day

So yesterday was Mother's Day.

First off, I love my mom. She's really quite cool. And besides just our genetic connection, we share a lot of common interests; music, crochet, shopping, eBay, Arbonne, DDR, chick flicks, reading (we like a lot of the same authors), etc. Plus, I have a great deal of admiration for her in the resilience department. She was a single mom for a short period of time with two baby girls, just over a year apart. As is the natural progression, I appreciate her more in my own motherhood as time progresses. So my mom is pretty superior and the right mom for me.

I was also inundated with homemade cards, flowers and other Mother's Day paraphernalia yesterday. We had to drop Matt off early at church because he had to play on the worship team so the boys were to "take me" out to breakfast (with me driving, of course). We tried Cracker Barrell first, but, as you might imagine, the line was down the sidewalk. Then Waffle House, but that looked equally crowded. So we ended up at Dunkin Donuts, which was quite fine with me, actually. As we went through the drive-through, Josh pulled out a handful of cash. My response was, "Oh, look at how cute you are with your little money!" LOL.

Overall, the boys and Matt were wonderful with the day, offering to do things and asking what else I wanted. I so appreciate them and feel very blessed.

But then there's...

The first year after Caleb died, we made it through the big firsts - Thanksgiving and Christmas, his birthday - and in my mind, I was home free. Well, Mother's Day snuck up and "sucker punched" me. It hit me so very hard. So I guess I've been on the defense a bit since then.

Why does it have to be that my least favorite question now is, "How many children do you have?" I never minded it before. I would proudly brag about my four boys and tell about how crazy and loud it was, all with a smile on my face. Now I have to decide, do I tell them? Do I share about Cub and totally put a damper on this conversation? Or do I just offer "three" and try to move on to something else?

It's been almost three years. I still feel the void. I'll always feel the void. My friend, Bethany, just said to me the other day that when she sees our family, she still notices that someone is missing.

It's almost harder now that life has gone on so much longer without him. We've fallen into such a new normal that it's hard to remember the old one. My heart is filled with gratitude for what we have and what God has done, but there will always be that missing piece.

When I was a kid, I couldn't understand why some people didn't enjoy holidays -- why holidays made them sad. I think we all understand that more as we get older. And I always WANT to find the positive and the reasons to rejoice, but it also heps me to be able and "allowed" to work further into this grieving process.

As a family, we move on to focus on Jacob, our baby, turning seven this week. Seven! There's miniature golf in our near future by his choice and we're looking forward to celebrating a fresh year of growth for him.

As always, I wish God's greatest blessings for you! :-)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Quote of the day...

My allergy-ridden husband, upon getting in the car after being outside for awhile:

"The back of my throat feels like I've been sucking on a flower."









Nice, huh.

I'm tired, BUT...

...I finally finished scrapping all of our New Orleans pics tonight and they look fabulous

and Paula was acting silly, which subsequently made me laugh

and it was Lynn's birthday so we had ice cream cake

and Amber came and helped me think straight (which was quite necessary this evening)



Yea, Scrappy Chicks!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bow wow wow, yippee yo yippee yea.

heyyyyy.....

This is Tucker. I thought I'd hijack my mommy's blog for a minute to tell you what's on my mind. I know... it's not everyday you read a blog from a dog. And, considering I don't have opposable thumbs, the fact that I'm typing this at all is pretty amazing. But, hey, that's how I roll...

Anyway, I'm really stressed out about something. See, we have this couch. It's... well, it's perfect. It's all soft and saggy and smells divine. It is where I sleep (pretty much all day) and chill. Dogs are fond of chilling, you know.

Well, I found out that on Friday THEY'RE TAKING MY COUCH AWAY! They got some "new" couch. Pooh. The one we have now is perfectly fine.

So Mommy brought home this big pillow/bed thingy that I'm supposed to lay on now. It's OK, I guess. It's soft, but it doesn't smell like anything yet.

Man. If dogs ruled the world, things would be a lot different.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Made you look...

I realized today, upon catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror at Great Clips, that I looked pale. Anemic actually.

That may be due to the fact that my diet consisted largely of coffee and diet Coke today.

Possible.

I need to work on my nutritional intake.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ich bin gesegnet

If you were to come by my house today (which you are welcome to do anytime, by the way, unless you are a stalker in which case I'd prefer you stay away and, actually, stop reading my blog all together because stalking is weird..... Where was I? Never mind. I'll start over.

If you were to come by my house today, you would see the first true sign of warmer weather. This morning after getting the monkeys off to school, I hung he first load of the season on the line outside. Now, if you're a frequent reader, you may remember that I'm quite enamored with my clothesline. I love hanging things on it. It makes me feel all efficient and earthy and domestic and.. OK a little Amish. In any event, there are clothes drying on my line and I'm happy.

So the "real" quartet competition was last weekend in KY. How'd we do? Thanks for asking. we got 4th place out of 24 or so quartets. Not bad for our first time out. More importantly, we had a great time which included lots of laughs and very little sleep. We're going to go for it again next year with the hopes of winning and getting the chance to compete at International in Nashville in the fall of 2009.

Chattanooga was extremely fun as well. No pressure of competition but lots of good experience on stage. My sister's chorus (Tune Town Show Chorus) are a HOOT and did very well in the chorus competition, finishing first. Yeah, Tune Town! Also, big congrats to the two Tune Town quartets, Fiddlestix and Last Minute, which finished first and second respectively.

In between the two competitions, I came home, worked, had my MOPS friends over for board games, had a Saturday scrapbook day at my house, lead worship at Gospel Tabernacle and worked some more (then left for the second weekend). So once again, life is good and full and I am blessed (but tired!).

Tonight, Matt and I are taking 27 of our youth group kids along with about five other adults to Acquire the Fire downtown. I'm looking forward to it, having not been to an ATF since I was pregnant with Jacob. So I shouldn't even really be sitting here typing because I have a decent punch list of things to do before 3:00, but alas, I've missed blogging.

Please keep my aunt in your prayers. She's battling breast cancer. The scenarios are looking good, but she still has a long road ahead.

I hope the weather is as gorgeous wherever you are as it is here. I hope you take some time to think about how much God has blessed you today, despite your circumstances. I'll pop back on here when I can...

Be blessed! :-)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Won't you choo choo me home...

Hey. I'm in Nashville. Quite the jet setter, you know.

This weekend, our quartet, Kindred Sound, is singing in the region 23 competition as mic testers and for evaluation only. In layman's terms, this is our practice competition. We compete for realsies in Covington, KY in two weeks. I'm very excited because I need the practice in front of an audience (being the only Sweet Adeline's novice in the quartet). We rehearsed for hours yesterday and are sounding pretty good.

OK. That's it for now. We're leaving my sister's in NashVegas and driving to Chattanooga so I have to scoot...

Peace out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A traditional (well, kind of) Easter

So yesterday was Easter.

Happy Easter.

Even when it's just the four of us for Christmas and Easter, we still like to do a big meal. My favorite part of Easter dinner is definitely the ham. Not the honey, pre-cut ones. Just a plain, simple ham. It tastes better in big chunks. Along with that, I made my mom's potato casserole - hash brown potatoes, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese -- YUM! It's not new to make this dish. But as I was thinking about dessert, I suddenly had the longing for something I hadn't had in a long time -- my Aunt Melinda's lemon hole cake. Fortunately, I happened to have the recipe in an old write-your-own cookbook that my grandma had given me right before I got married (over 15 years ago). It's a good thing too because I checked the internet for reference and couldn't find quite the same recipe. So I happily made my list (I was only missing three things) and ran to the grocery store while the ham and potatoes finished their last 30 minutes in the oven, complete with a phone call to my mom to confirm the type of baking pan I should use.

Some two hours later after my tummy was WAY too full. I reflected on the meal itself and I realized something. Growing up close to extended family, meals had certain familiar tastes and traditions; the aforementioned lemon hole cake and potato casserole, Grandma's cherry pies, rolls, Mom's waldorf salad. My kids don't have the luxury of growing up close to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins like I did. I realized, though, that I want to be a little more intentional about certain foods for certain meals. I want my kids to associate the memories of a holiday with a specific food. In other words, I can see lemon hole cake becoming a staple of Easters to come!

I don't think I've ever shared a recipe on my blog before, but I feel it's my duty to help immortalize Aunt Melinda's lemon hole cake (she now lives in Texas and I'm curious to find out when the last time was that she made one). Warning: it's delicious and I'm sure not kind to the hips, but enjoy anyway!

Aunt Melinda's Lemon Hole Cake

Cake:
1 pkg. lemon cake mix (like Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme)
1 pkg. lemon instant pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil (I used vegetable)
3/4 cup water

Topping:
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp. oil

Put all cake ingredients in large bowl and mix 10 minutes (I don't think I mixed it quite that long). Bake according to directions on the box. When done, remove form oven and poke holes all over the top. Don't remove from pan. Mix topping. While hot, pour on the topping mixture.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #13


Though I feel all this posting tonight is a tad narcissistic, I wanted to get my T13 in for once. So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, cats and dogs, in honor of the first day of spring I give you (drumroll)...

Thirteen Things I look forward to with the beginning of spring

1. Rita's actually reopened today and gave out free Italian ices to celebrate. I tried one of the new flavors -- birthday cake. Yum!

2. Here comes the sun - as much as I HATED giving back that hour last weekend, the extra daylight is nice.

3. It's almost clothesline time -- I love hanging my laundry on the clothesline and once this weather settles about 20 degrees warmer, I'm all set.

4. My azalea bushes will be blooming soon and they're SO pretty.

5. Spring break - I know I already mentioned this in my previous post. Sleeping in and staying in jammies longer is quite appealing.

6. Is it seriously ever going to get warmer? I think it might.

7. This has absolutely nothing to do with spring, but the writer's strike is finally over and the Office will be new in three weeks!

8. This is the only time of year you can buy Cadbury Cream Eggs.

9. We're getting closer to the Stevens birthday rush (everybody but Josh is late April through July)

10. Isn't the Easter Bunny coming in a couple of days?

11. I'm ready for green grass, sunshine and blue sky

12. Dinner preparation starts to move outside

13. Do I really need a reason? Spring rocks!




Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Multitasking = blogging and watching Celebrity Apprentice

Hi.

It's me.

Yeah, I know.

I'm back though, so get off my case :-)

Wow. Life has been crazy and full and... good. I'm not even sure where to start.

This has been the first year since Caleb died that I didn't blog on his birthday (2/21). He would have been 13 this year which is really hard to believe. The day itself was really hard; more so than I thought it would be. That's all I have to say about that for now.

Business has been booming. Not only have new students been coming out of the proverbial woodwork, but I've gotten another opportunity as well. The school where I used to teach, TCS, lost their music teacher and they offered the position to me. Fortunately, it fit into my schedule nicely so I took it. I've been doing it since the end of February and we just actually put on our Easter program last night. Considering how thrown together it felt, I think it went pretty well. Anyway between lessons and this class, I'm working about 30 hours in three days each week. It's busy and tiring but good. I love what I do so I can't complain.

This past Friday, Matt, Josh and I flew to New Orleans. My mom graciously came to Baltimore to stay with the monkeys (thanks again, Mom). We were a part of a weekend in which church leaders and pastors from the NOLA area came together to pray and get mobilized for their city. There were people there from Texas, Tennessee, other parts of Louisiana and even Massachusetts as well. It was really a great weekend. Sunday, we got to spend some time doing more "touristy" things - the highlight being eating beignets and drinking cafe au laits at Cafe DuMonde! I flew home Monday, but Matt and Joshy stayed to continue to work. I'll pick them up tomorrow.

What's next? Well, spring break officially began after school today. The boys and I are going to the MOPS easter egg hunt tomorrow, the airport and then our church's Good Friday experience. Sunday is Easter, of course. Wednesday, I leave for Chattanooga via Nashville to compete for the first time with our quartet. This one is evaluation only. Our "real" competition is two weeks later in Covington, KY.

So that's the skinny for now. I've really missed blogging and want to find a way to make time for it. If that doesn't work, I have a ghost writer standing by ready to go!

Have a blessed Easter.

Peace out.




Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Able to leap vomit in a single bound...

I was explaining to Matt last night that mommies have special powers - like super immunity. It gives us the ability to look in the face of fever and vomit and not become sick ourselves.

I have been employing mine as of late. Both of the younger set have been out of commission since Saturday. Micah holds the record for the highest temperature so far - 103 last night. They seem to be on the mend, though. I think Jacob may actually be able to go back to school tomorrow - Mic's probably out until Thursday.

So today I get to do piano lessons and sick duty at the same time. That should be interesting...