November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving dawned cold and rainy here in Ohio, and we were thankful to have a warm, cozy house to be together in!  We enjoyed a leisurely morning, sleeping in a bit (Lucan woke us around 7 a.m.).  Ted and I got the turkey and stuffing ready to go in the oven around 9:00 and spent most of the rest of the morning just relaxing, reading, and playing with the kids.  Oh, yes, and of course watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!  The kids really got into it this year--Kenna yelled for us to come see every float as soon as she saw it on the TV, LOL.  Guess she doesn't quite understand that Mom and Dad couldn't care less about seeing a ginormous Spongebob floating above the streets of New York!  But we did score a great new recipe shown during the parade, Turkey Cranberry Pinwheels from Pillsbury, that we made with our leftovers yesterday--YUM!  The kids were so excited when I told them we could make them!

We had a late breakfast and planned for our big meal right after Lucan's nap, which gave us time to set the table nicely without little fingers grabbing all the items as soon as we put them in place!

Our menu included turkey and gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, garlic carrots, and cranberries.  Before we ate, we went around the table and read some Bible verses relating to thankfulness, an activity that Lucan was not terribly impressed with, LOL.  But he managed to be patient, and soon enough we were enjoying our culinary efforts.  It was quite gratifying to fix a big meal and see our kids eat most of it heartily!  I remember when the older three were closer to Kenna's age--they simply would NOT eat turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, etc.  I think we mostly stuffed them with rolls and cranberry sauce, LOL.  In fact, this was the first year Ted and I have done a turkey on our own; usually we've had one of our moms around to help us, and the years my mom or Rhonda weren't around, we've made ham!  I must say, though, we did a rather good job--the turkey roasted beautifully!  About the only thing I was a bit disappointed with is that the gravy just was not like Mom used to make, although it was good enough, and some of the kids even ate it.  I'll have to get her instructions for that for next time.

Clean-up was remarkably easy, and Charis had plans for us after that was finished.  She had selected some Thanksgiving songs that she wanted to play on the piano while we sang, so we sat around the dining room table and gave it a go (some of the songs were quite obscure, LOL).  Then we played some games she had prepared.  I think she got some of the ideas from one of her favorite web sites,  The first was "Pin the Feather on the Indian."  She drew an Indian on poster board and gave each of us a feather with tape, and of course we were blindfolded and dutifully spun around.  The kids giggled when I motioned for Charis to set Daddy off in the wrong direction, and when he headed to the opposite side of the room and began wondering where the poster was, we were all laughing!

Next there was a kind of "duck, duck, goose" game that was called "The Hunter and the Deer," followed by "The Fox and the Rabbit."  Then we played "Where Did the Turkey Lay Its Egg," which involved sending one person out of the room, hiding an "egg," and then bringing the person back to try to locate it.  We were to say "Gobble, gobble, gobble" when the seeker got closer to the egg and "Giblet, giblet, giblet" when the seeker got further away (which, by the way, is incredibly hard to say fast!).  When it was Tobin's turn to be the seeker, Ted set the egg on top of one of the blades of the ceiling fan.  It was hysterical to watch Tobin's face as he crossed the center of the room to a chorus of frantic "Gobble, gobble, gobbles" when there was NOTHING (that he could see) in plain sight that could possibly hide an egg!

We spent well over an hour and a half with the singing and games, and it was truly one of the best parts of the day.  I loved hanging out with the kids and being silly together!  We definitely made some fun memories.  The kids also took some time to explain their thankfulness collages that we had made the day before, which is good because this year the Blessing Tree simply did not make an appearance!  So the collages gave the kids an opportunity to share things they were thankful for, which is the whole point anyway.

We enjoyed dessert and story time in the evening, finishing the fourth book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series and working our way toward the end of Sign of the Beaver, one of our Sonlight books.  We also watched a family Thanksgiving favorite, the Veggie Tale Madame Blueberry.  All in all, one of the best Thanksgivings ever!

One of the biggest things I am thankful for this year is being able to be together as a family for the holidays.  With the very real possibility of Ted's being deployed next year, I realize that togetherness is not something we can take for granted.  Only the Lord knows where and what we'll be doing for Thanksgiving 2011, but prayerfully it will include giving thanks to Him no matter what our circumstances!

November 24, 2010

Being Thankful

It's a cold, rainy day here in Ohio right before Thanksgiving, a perfect day to cuddle up with hot tea and read some chapters in the book I started, oh, a month and a half ago!  The kids and I spent part of our morning reading The Thanksgiving Story and making thankfulness collages.  The family room floor was a mass of old magazines, scissors, and discarded pages.  We listened to a Crossing CD and shared ideas and pages with each other.  As I suspected, Charis REALLY got into the activity, the boys tolerated it, and Kenna went off on her own little tangent.  A look at her collage shows that she is very, very, VERY thankful for dolls!  And Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar--but we'll call that "parents," LOL!  I suppose I should take pictures of the finished products and post them...I'll have to do that when I'm not feeling so lazy!

I guess I haven't blogged about my birthday yet, but I did post the news on Facebook.  Last Saturday, after a very disappointing craft fair, Charis and I came home "in the hole," having paid $20 for a table and selling only about $11 worth of product.  I'll give Charis the cash, since all the crafts were hers, and the $20 table fee can be a write-off for me, I guess!  I did tentatively book a workshop with a new customer/hostess, so hopefully that will go well and make the whole investment worthwhile after all.  Anyway, when we arrived home, Ted covered my eyes before I could walk into the kitchen, and the kids all shouted "Happy Birthday!" when I saw my present on the table--a new Kitchen Aid mixer!  Ted's mom and his brother and wife contributed as well.  I was VERY surprised and super excited!  Ted had also made dinner (homemade chili) and my birthday cake (zucchini bars), and we enjoyed a nice evening as a family watching Toy Story 3 on DVD.  It was a wonderful way to unwind after an extremely busy week.

Before the kids all woke up this morning, I put my new Kitchen Aid mixer to work making a pumpkin bee sting pie and a chocolate pecan pie.  YUM!  Yesterday we used it to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  So we know it works!  Charis used it this afternoon to make our sweet potato casserole, and Ted used it shortly after that to make the make-ahead mashed potatoes.  (Yes, he even got in on the action!  He SAID he would take care of the potatoes so I could put my feet up and read a bit, but I suspect he really just wanted to play with our new toy, LOL!)

So we have our pies, potatoes, and sweet potatoes ready to go for tomorrow.  We've peeled and chopped carrots for our veggie, garlic carrots, which is a vegetable everyone will eat (unlike the green bean casserole which only Ted and I will eat).  So all that remains for tomorrow is actually preparing the stuffing, roasting the turkey, and throwing the carrots and garlic in the skillet 15 minutes before we sit down to eat.  Of course the potatoes and sweet potatoes will bake during that time.  Oh, yes, and I guess we'll have to make the gravy, too!  Can't have Thanksgiving dinner without the gravy!

This year we're just going to enjoy our own little family for Thanksgiving.  My parents are coming out for a few days next week, and Rhonda gets to visit us for Christmas.  Ted is in charge at work, as his boss is on leave this week and next, so we had to stick around this year.  Last year we went to Wisconsin, and frankly, while it was a good time of visiting the fam there, I am SO thankful that we do NOT have to pack up and go anywhere!  November has been way too crazy for us to be traveling anywhere else!

I was trying to volunteer our family to help at the senior center for their Thanksgiving dinner, but by the time I actually talked to a real person (who called me back just today), the center had been inundated with volunteers, which is good for them but left me feeling disappointed that we didn't find a way to serve others in our community.  It's a perfect year to do it, since we aren't hosting anyone else.  Oh, well...we'll pray for others as a means of blessing them, I guess!

We have NOTHING planned for this weekend, and that's on purpose!  Well, we are having a Settlers of Catan game gathering with our neighbor friends on Saturday sometime, but that's low-key and long overdue!  Other than that, I hope to finish the book I'm reading, maybe do a little scrapbooking, and prepare for my December workshops.  (I have the projects planned, just need to prep materials for the guests.)  I expect our family will play lots of games and continue reading our current books out loud (book #4 in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series and Sign of the Beaver).

So that's what's going on around here...maybe I can catch up on reading my friends' blogs this weekend, too!

November 15, 2010


Somebody stop the world!  I want to get off! :-)  Here's a very quick rundown of life around here...

  1. Veterans' Day--I enjoyed a business lunch with one of my local downline members, and then our whole family joined some other homeschool families to go to an assisted living facility and provide some music and fellowship for the residents.  Charis played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and some hymns.
  2. Friday Ted took Arden and Tobin to see the Colorado Avalanche play the Blue Jackets in Columbus.  The boys were ecstatic to go--Ted most of all!  The rest of us hosted our monthly family community group for a fun time of food, fellowship, and a devotional.
  3. Saturday was my Stampin' Up! group's third stamp camp of the year.  We had 33 women attend, the most we've ever had!  It was a crazy day but very good.  There were probably 7-8 bookings and 3 new recruits all together, and I personally got over $300 in sales.  Woohoo!
  4. Yesterday was my first "down day" in a looooong time.  I took a nap guilt-free. :-)
  5. This week I'm preparing, along with a number of other musicians from the church, for a benefit concert we're doing on Friday evening.  I'm playing piano for about 2/3 of the songs, and it's going to be an AWESOME night!
  6. Charis is still rehearsing for her play, which will be the first two weekends in December.  Thankfully, her small role means we only have to take her to Tuesday rehearsals, so our week isn't totally eaten up by evening activities.  Between the two of us, we have rehearsal and/or a performance 4 out of 5 nights this week!
  7. Two weeks from today Ted has his pre-deployment physical, at which time we will learn for sure whether he really is going to be allowed to deploy!  After being medically coded to NOT deploy for 9 years, it was a bit of a shock to receive this tasking...but God is sovereign, and we look forward to what He will do in and through our family in the coming months and years.

November 07, 2010

A Kenna Funny

Charis and I had locked ourselves in the stamp room, working to prepare materials for next Saturday's stamp camp.  The pitter patter of feet on the stairs indicated we would soon have company, and sure enough, next we heard Kenna's little voice through the door.

"Mommy, can I have some candy?" she asked.

"Honey, you need to ask Daddy that.  He's upstairs and can help you."

"But he said no and no and no!" was the despairing reply.

At least she's honest! 

A Lucan Video

Is it REALLY November?!  I haven't blogged nearly as much as I have wanted to...this is one of my only ways of capturing our family moments since I haven't made time to scrapbook in, oh, well over a year.  And now I'm barely even posting!  Here is a video of Lucan babbling.  Though he doesn't have a whole lot of words right now, that doesn't mean he's speechless, LOL.  Whenever he sees the camera, he stops what he's doing and just stares at it, usually with a smile, so I was trying to be sneaky about getting this speech on video--therefore, I apologize for the quality!  Still, it gives you an idea of what I'm up against when I try to read anything to the kids during breakfast or lunch!  (We usually do our Bible reading at breakfast, and on days when we have errands to run, I will often try to read some history or science at the table while they are eating lunch.)  When Lucan hears me reading, he thinks it's the perfect time to spout off about his own knowledge of the world, and this is what we hear on top of my reading...which usually doesn't last long!

Living a Life of True Peace and Joy

[Note: This is a processing post, meaning I am taking time to process some things God has taught me over the past couple of days...please feel free to read, enjoy, be encouraged/challenged by, and if you do, I'd love for you to leave me a comment.  But this is your warning: Lengthy rambling may occur!  I won't be offended if no one has the time to read through my musings!]

I'm home from church this morning (by myself! Not with a sick kid!) nursing a cold, and while I feel yucky, I am thankful for some time that I can reflect on what I learned at the ladies' retreat at our church this weekend.  I didn't sign up until Monday, being unsure whether I really wanted to give up my only "free" weekend in November, but I felt that I really didn't have a good reason NOT to go--so I signed up.  Yes, I know, it was quite the spiritual decision, LOL. 

Seriously, though, I did pray that God would make me teachable, because honestly, I wasn't overly excited about listening to a psychologist speaker, even though her bio did make her sound like an interesting person.  Still, I felt the need to connect on a deeper level with some women from church as well as meet some I didn't know.  Stepping out of one's comfort zone is never easy, but I realized it was time for a little challenge.

Isn't it amazing how, even though we're [insert number here] years old, we still feel like insecure tweens in unfamiliar situations?!  Wondering if someone will come sit by us when we're in a room full of acquaintances rather than with a group of close friends...wondering what people think of what we say, how we dress, what we do, what we believe...never stopping for a moment to think that the person across the table from us is probably battling the exact same insecurities as we are.  I know a lot of people at church--at least, I recognize names and faces, since we spent 3 years here on a previous assignment.  And a lot of people know who I am from seeing me on stage playing piano or acting in Kids' Street Live, or reading my emails as Kitchen Kindness coordinator.  But I realized, as I was on the brink of a decision regarding whether or not to attend the retreat at all, that I haven't had the opportunity to sit down with too many women from church and share my heart or learn more about them.  I have a circle of mom friends from our family community (I got to sit with one of them during our sessions), but I didn't feel as if I really knew many of my sisters in Christ from Faircreek.  I began realizing that I'm closer to my Christian neighbors than to many of the people I pass by or sit near at church!

So, all that to say, I decided to go.  And I'm glad I did.  I met some new ladies and enjoyed conversations over several meals, and I enjoyed talking with people I know but haven't had the opportunity to visit without interruptions.  I have new recipes for African Peanut Butter Chicken soup and homemade granola, plus tips on making your own deodorant.  I learned the fastest way to get a hula hoop through a chain of five women holding hands, as well as how to cross a "river" on "stones" that will float away if not touched.  I learned a new stamping technique and won two prizes.

Most importantly, I have more women praying for my family as we face a huge unknown about our future.  I sat under godly, biblical teaching and learned how to identify lies from the enemy and combat them with truth.  I was guided to Bible verses--both familiar and not so familiar--that will encourage and strengthen me as I walk the road God has for me.  And I have some specific "tools" for living the life God wants His children to live--a life filled with true peace and joy.

So let's get down to some specifics.  Tammy, our speaker, gave us a thick purple handout with maybe a dozen sheets of paper, and I scribbled lots of notes down!  I won't reproduce the whole handout here, but I wanted to think through some of the things that stood out to me personally.  There was a lot of material here, and I know God used it to speak individually to each woman there.

The first big thing is really all about the basics, truths that I've known all my life.  But if I don't CONSTANTLY think about them, I am susceptible to Satan's lies.  Our knowledge of God is generally TOO SMALL!  We must believe God is who He says He is.  Four truths that we must keep before us daily:

  1. God is unconditionally loving.
  2. God is continually faithful.
  3. God is full of grace and mercy.
  4. God gives complete forgiveness.
My action step after attending this retreat:  Keep these 4 simple, basic, important truths before me so I read them every day and keep my mind awash in God's truths rather than Satan's lies.  God has given me everything I need for life and godliness!

**We cannot do life by our feelings!!!  (Can I get an "amen" from the sisters, LOL!)

I also liked the concept that God gives us DAILY bread, not TOMORROW bread!  He gives us just what we need for each day.  I especially needed this, because if I concentrate too much on the unknown future, I will work myself into a load of anxiety, fear, and frustration.  When tomorrow comes, I will have what I need for that day, because God is continually faithful, and He is my continual supply.

We typically think of "fruit" as being good; for example, the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of righteousness.  But there is always some kind of fruit.  Fruits show our roots.  When we find our identity in Christ, we will enjoy the fruit of peace, joy, etc.  But if we are instead looking to other "gods," there will be fruits that result from this, such as:
  • compulsive behaviors
  • obsessive thoughts
  • anxiety
  • shame
  • overeating
  • substance abuse
  • overspending
  • depression
  • guilt
Note that women are particularly susceptible to discontentment.  Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee."  Oh, Lord, may it be true of my heart that I rest in Thee alone!

Next we turned our attention to understanding that we are at war, and it is a spiritual battle.  As we know from Ephesians 6, we are not struggling against flesh and blood (which includes ourselves!) but against evil powers.  Don't fight the wrong battle!!!

Evil HATES God's glory.  When you are giving God glory, evil will work hard to divide and conquer.  Struggles WILL come when we are tired, weak, and vulnerable.  The battleground is in our MINDS.  We are constantly being lied to about God, ourselves, and others.  Tammy included a huge list of common lies--I'll just list a few that might sound familiar to others including myself:
  • I'm fat/unattractive/not smart.
  • I'm not good enough.
  • God can't use me.
  • My efforts won't do any good.
  • I'm a failure.
  • There's no use trying.
  • People can't be trusted.
  • God is not fair.
  • It's not worth it.
  • It's too late.
  • My life is not making a difference.
  • God doesn't make sense.
And on and on and on.  But we have to remember that Satan is a DEFEATED foe!  To win the battles against him, we must first recognize the lies.  We have to realize we are having a TRUTH encounter, not a POWER encounter.  Tammy gave us the picture of dashboard lights that serve as warnings.  Feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, insecurity, condemnation, fear, and confusion are warnings for us to let us know that we are being lied to.  The only power evil has over us is what we give to it by refusing to stand in the truth.

Once we recognize the lies, we must reject them and replace them with truth.  We must:
  • Command our wills/souls to stay in the truth.
  • Saturate our days in prayer.
  • Steep ourselves in the Word--read daily, memorize, meditate, and do so purposefully.
  • Cultivate a discipline of thankfulness instead of discontentment.  (Choose to focus on what IS, not what is NOT.)
  • Be on a constant "God hunt," fixing our eyes on the eternal.
(There were other things on this list...but these stood out to me.)

I'm sure I'll be mulling some of these over for awhile.  Getting this typed out has definitely helped me remember specific things I believe God wants me to meditate on now and in the coming days.  If it has been a help and a blessing to you as well, then glory to God!

November 03, 2010

The Great Cheerio Debacle

Date:  November 2, 2010
Time:  8:33 a.m.
Place:  The Kitchen

Suspect(s):  Tobin (who left the Cheerio bag perched precariously on the counter without the clothespin pinching it shut); Charis (who accidentally bumped the bag on the way to her seat); Lucan (who finished dumping out the rest of the Cheerios and proceeded to wallow in them); Arden and Kenna (who promptly joined Lucan in the Cheerio dance o' joy).

Mom has been accused of aiding and abetting the suspects, standing aside and allowing the crunchy free-for-all to take place as she simply threw her hands up, laughed, and took pictures.

The older culprits were sentenced to perform community service (sweeping up the dusty remains of the cereal) and sent back to school.