Thursday, December 31, 2009

A new challenge

I came across this earlier today on Coupon Geek's site and am going to give it a go for the month of January. I have so many odds and ends in the pantry and watching my mother last week make cream of chicken soup from scratch using no recipe, I know I can use what I have in my cupboards to make several meals this month. I'll be taking a different spin on this challenge as I will still be purchasing items like meat (only when on sale) throughout the month so I don't have a bare freezer and pantry come February (I would have to spend a whole lot more to stock it and would defeat the whole purpose of saving money).

So here are my goals:

1. Plan ahead so I won't be tempted to stop on the way from work to get dinner.

2. Only buy milk, eggs, produce, and meat (on sale) throughout the month.

3. Spend only $200 for the entire month (we'll see how this goes as groceries are so much more expensive here and my children are growing by leaps and bounds).

4. Put leftover money towards debt.

If you'd like to read more about it or link up to others who are doing this, head over to Money Saving Mom and join the challenge! Here's to a new year!

Goodbye and hello

There were the most heart wrenching hardships scattered with warm surprises.
More uncomfortable stretching along with God-moving choices.
Forgiveness, love-deepening, hard conversations, intermingled with prayer, prayer and more heaven sent prayer.
New milestones, new adventures, new jobs.
Old struggles to sift through laced with stale feelings that needed to be let go for good.

A new year brings a clean breath of freshness.
New beginnings.
New memories.
New adventures.
More hopes.
More organization.
More changes.

I need to not wish this coming year away but embrace each day.
Each choice.
Each hardship.
Embrace my husband.
My kids.
My friends.

The slate is ready to be added to.
Will I cling white knuckled to it or will I offer it willingly and open handed to my Maker?
That is the question I take into the new year.
Happy 2010 everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review of The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Colleen Coble

When I saw this book on Thomas Nelson's website to be able to review, I snatched it up as Colleen Coble is one of my favorite authors. The day it came to the house, I started reading it.

Here is a short description:
Growing up as the lightkeeper’s daughter on a remote island at the turn of the century, Addie Sullivan has lived a hardscrabble life. When a long-lost and wealthy relative finds her and enlists her to work as a governess at a lavish estate, she hopes to discover the truth of her heritage. But at Eaton Hall, nothing is as it seems. Not the idyllic family she hoped for, not the child she was hired to help, not even the aloof man she’s immediately attracted to. Soon she must turn for help to Lieutenant John North, a man who views her with suspicion.

I jumped right into the book, but had a hard time finding a rhythm and flow to it. Not until the last 1/4 of the book did it start to become interesting with the twists and turns Colleen is known for.

I was actually a bit disappointed this time around. It just wasn't up to par with her other books. There was more fluff romance than normal and it just didn't grab me like her books usually do. If the entire book was like the last 1/4, it would have made it much better.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Review of The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson

I was sent this complimentary book from Revell Books to review.

This was a short, sweet, heart warming read that went pretty quick. Not really a whole lot of depth to it, but I don't think it was supposed to be a deep thinking book. It was pretty predictable, but again, very heart warming.

I did find myself being frustrated with the grandmother and wondering why she worried so much and continued to jump to conclusions all the time. But then I wondered how often that really happens in life with the elderly. Probably more than I think.

Here's a short excerpt from the book:
Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. There's church, of course. But who can she bake for these days? And who would care whether or not she pulled out the Christmas decorations? Her new neighbor just adds to the problem. He's doing home improvements that don't appear to be improving much of anything. These days when Betty looks out the window, she sees a beat-up truck, a pile of junk, lots of blue tarps, and--horror of horrors--an old pink toilet. But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn a very important lesson about what Christmas is all about.

So all in all, a cute book that gives the warm fuzzies during the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Review of The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh

I received a complimentary copy of The Unfinished Gift from Revell Books to review.

This book was set during the Christmas season during WWII. A book about a grandfather, his grandson and the past. It was a very sweet book that made you feel like you were right there sitting in the cold room with the blizzard raging outside. It was also a little glimpse into what life was like for families during the war. With grocery shopping, rations and the lengths people went to just to survive.

"Everything else in the room had suddenly gone out of focus. There was only the wooden soldier." Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gift is the engaging story of a family in need of forgiveness. With simple grace, it reminds us of the small things that affect powerful change in our hearts--a young boy's prayers, a shoe box of love letters, and even a half-carved soldier, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of reconciliation will touch your heart.

A great read during the Christmas season as a reminder of what is important in life. This was a quick, easy book that warmed the heart.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Have you ever felt unsettled?
That no matter how much you try.
How much you pray.
That the unsettled feeling just doesn't go away?
That there's something more.
Something else.
Something you quite can't grasp.
Out there?
And if you find it, will it be enough?
Will you want more?

Will the winds of change help?
Blowing in unknown directions.
Taking you to a place
That may be home.
To be settled.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review of eye of the god by Ariel Allison

Abingdon Press sent me this book to review and I was sucked in by the first page. What a great book full of suspense. It was hard to put down right up to the very last page. Even the very last sentence makes you say, "WHAT??? Wait a minute!" It leaves you wanting more.
Here is a short blurb about the book:
Alex and Isaac Weld, the most lucrative jewel thieves in the world, are on a quest to steal the Hope diamond, which according to legend was once the eye of a Hindu idol named Rama Sita. When it was stolen in the 17th century, it is said that the idol cursed all those who would possess it. That won't stop the brilliant and ruthless Weld brothers. However, they are not prepared for Dr. Abigail Mitchell, the beautiful Smithsonian Director, who has her own connection to the Hope Diamond and a deadly secret to keep. Abby committed long ago that she would not serve a god made with human hands, and the "eye of the god" is no exception. Her desire is not for wealth, but for wisdom.

Part of the book is held in the past, explaining the history of the Hope Diamond, but interweaves with the present to tie the story together. The author does a great job blending past and present to make a great book.

I would definitely read this authors books again as her writing is truly captivating.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm finding I don't have much time anymore. I miss my husband. I miss my kids. Working full (plus) time takes a lot out each day. I'm learning to cherish Friday's and Saturday's as Sabbath days as Sunday's are considered a work day. Ahhhhhh the joys of being in the ministry. :) As someone reminded me last night at the football game (whom I had just met) that this is a season. I know I need to learn from it what I can as it won't be forever.

So I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. A 3 day weekend, day of work and then another day off. We'll be by ourselves this year for Thanksgiving (first time ever) but it sure won't make me less thankful. Just have to bust my toosh the next four days so I can enjoy the three days off.

And the weather on Thanksgiving? Rain! The weather the past weeks....rain.
The forecast for the next week. Rain.
I never thought I'd say it, but, I miss snow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review of The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

Revell Books sent me this novel to read and review.

It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich after an attempt on Hitler's life. Gabi Mueller is a young woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) in Switzerland. When she is asked to put herself in harm's way to safely "courier" a German scientist who is working on the atomic bomb out of enemy territory, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

I reread the back cover after finishing the book and have to say that the above quote (from the back cover) is only a snippet of what happens in the book. There were so many twists and turns, unexpected spies and undercover agents.

I was hooked by the second chapter. Getting into the first chapter was a bit difficult weeding through the German and Swiss names of people and towns. There were several characters in the book to keep track of, but the "list of major characters" given at the beginning of the book helped.

There were some squeemish parts, but I know they didn't compare at all to what took place in real life during the war.

A great read right to the very end.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Review of Green by Ted Dekker

I was so fortunate to snatch up Green from Thomas Nelson for their blog reviews. Here's a little snippet of the inside flap:
Green brings full meaning to the Circle Series as a whole, reading as both prequel to Black and sequel to White, completing a full circle. This is Book Zero, the Circle Reborn, both the beginning and the end. The preferred starting point for new readers . . . and the perfect climax for the countless fans who’ve experienced Black, Red, and White.

I haven't read Black, Red or White, so this was the starting point for me. It took a couple chapters in to figure out who was who and what different characters symbolized. There were actually three stories going on, but all merged into one as the book read on. Ted Dekker is not a flowery author. There was lots of blood, slaying and at some points, disturbing scenes. He painted the characters so well you could smell the skin disease that covered the bodies of the evil ones.

Once in to it, I couldn't put it down. Definitely a great read. Will I read the next three? Not sure yet, but I would definitely recommend this to anyone with a bit of morbid curiosity and who enjoys a great, descriptive author/storyteller.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Life seems to have all of a sudden become very full. I'm finding that working a full time job takes up a whole lot of time! Arriving home by 5:00, dinner, spend an hour with the kids and then it's bedtime for them. Hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it? When I was home with them every single day I was wishing that I could go to work and be around adults. Now those days are long gone and the kids are both in school full time. How I long for those days again of spending so much time with them. Reading to them. Playing with them. Watching them learn and grow. Now someone else gets to do that. Their friends, their teachers and those that are around them 7 hours a day. I just get a snippet.

With the roles reversed in this season of life, I have experienced a glimpse of what Ed went through working full time to support our family for several years. Coming home and needing down time, but having to take off his work hat and put on his dad hat. How difficult that is with no transition time in between? Pretty hard. Did I understand that? Not a bit. I wanted him to take care of the kids the moment he stepped in the door. I needed a break too and didn't understand why he couldn't just come in and help the moment his body entered the house. But he remembers and sees when I walk in the door if I need to not wear any hat for just a few minutes.

The past is pretty dern clear when you look back at it. But the thing is, do you learn from it? Do you see how time flies and the busier you get the less you can give of yourself to those who need you the most.

Stop. Breathe. Enjoy those little people. Enjoy your spouse.

They will be off to school all day, every day before you know it.

Time will be screaming at you that you have lists and dishes and laundry and cleaning and carpool and practices and dinner and work to do.

Ignore it for a moment.



Friday, October 23, 2009

Review of The Secret of Indigo Moon

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary book called The Secret of Indigo Moon by G.P. Tayler to read and review. This is the 2nd book in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles about three orphans who find themselves intertwined in a mystery.

Erik Morissey Ganger, famed explorer and detective (well, in his dreams), and his mischief-making sidekicks, twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple, didn’t go looking for a secret tunnel beneath the school. They never intended to make the acquaintance of a shifty private eye with a nose for trouble. It wasn’t part of the plan to come face to face with an old enemy, one with an agenda of his own that could destroy them all. And unraveling the “secret of indigo moon” was the farthest thing from their minds.

This is directed more towards youth with cartoon animation interspersed throughout the pages. It was a fast paced story and even though it targets a younger audience, I enjoyed it. The writing is very imaginative and very well done. It grabs you from the first page and for an adult is a quick read. I would have no hesitation letting my kids read this when they are older. It is has clean language and can lead to some great discussion. It can be a bit tense at times so I think it's more targeted for older elementary aged kids.

Great book and I will be looking to see if this author has written any adult books.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Review of The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan

This is my first book review for Revell Books. The Jewel of His Heart is book 2 in the Heart of the West series, but was easy to jump into even though I hadn't read book 1. The book is set in the 1890's in a Montana mining town. The main character, Juliana Brady, is on her own trying to make it in life at the age of 18. This book is about her life struggles and the surprise of love.

It was a pretty easy, quick read. Some twists and turns that were unexpected, along with offering forgiveness even when the feelings aren't there. I would most likely pick this book up off a shelf and give it a try with not having recognized this author.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Review of Find Your Stongest Life

Thomas Nelson is releasing a new book called Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham. It reveals the powerful key to help women draw enough strength from life to feel fulfilled, loved, successful, and in control. Even more, he helps women reconnect with their purpose and gives a starting point for change. A research-based message that applies to work and life, Find Your Strongest Life shows women a "unified theory" for how they really can have it all . . . the right kind of all.

It was hard to jump into this book. I'm not a statistical person and the first few chapters hold a lot of statistics. There seemed to be a bent towards working women, but the overall umbrella is towards women in general. How to "have it all" as some say. Some things I had to push aside that didn't apply to my life, but the message is very powerful. "A strong life isn't what you do, it's what you feel." And just as important, "The secret to living a strong life is right in front of you, calling to you every day. It can be found in your emotional reaction to specific moments in your life." How tuned in am I to my life and those moments that make me feel alive? This book helps you discover those alive moments and then what to do with them to help you feel like you are living a successful life.

Friday, October 02, 2009

hello stranger

It's been awhile since I've actually written a non-book post. Be prepared though...more of those will be coming as I've picked up two more publishing companies to read books for.

But books aside, life is speeding by. School for Ed, Sam and Alina has entered month two with all of them busy with papers, reading, writing and projects.

I actually made dinner Wednesday night. I can't tell you how good this felt! The month of dinners in the freezer has been a tremendous help. Between Ed having night classes at the beginning of the week and me working 8-10 hours the later part of the week, those dinners have come in handy! But there is something about making a meal from scratch. It's such a soothing action which was welcomed after a long week of work.

Fall has landed here with rainy days and sunny days intermixed. One sad aspect is no apple picking. All apple orchards are a 3 hour drive away. Over the mountains to the desert side of the state. It's quite depressing actually. I loved pulling out and heating up a portion of homemade applesauce on those cold, dark, blustery evenings. Pop it in the oven with mini marshmallows on top. Heaven.

Ed's mom flies in tomorrow afternoon for a week long stay. Everyone is excited for her company! She'll be here for her 70th birthday of which the kids are thrilled to celebrate with her. She'll also be watching the kids while Ed and I fly across the country to attend Catalyst in Atlanta next week. I. Am. Beyond. Excited. #1: I get to go on an extended date with my best friend. #2: I get to attend Catalyst. It has been four years since the last time I attended. Life shifted at that Catalyst. I will never forget it as it shaped me into who I am today.

So life keeps ticking by each day. Fill it with classes and school and work and laughter and tears and conversations and growing it ticks even faster.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review of Lonestar Secrets by Colleen Coble

Book review for Thomas Nelson Publishers
Shannon Astor returns to southwest Texas to serve as the town's veterinarian, believing she's finally found the space to get her life back on track.

Then she catches a glimpse of Jack MacGowan, the man who ruined her life years before. But even more shocking is the sight of Jack's five-year-old daughter Faith, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Shannon's own daughter Kylie. Is it possible that their similarities could be more than just coincidence? Could Faith be the daughter that Shannon has believed to be dead for all these years?

As the truth emerges, everyone is forced to take sides--in a story with a heart as big as Texas.

If you enjoy a pretty easy read, this may be a book for you. It had an easy storyline to follow and pleasant characters. No unexpected twists, turns or suspense. It didn't really grab me, but I don't think the book was meant to. A western romance novel if you will. Someone asked how I liked it right after finishing the book and I said that it was ok. Not one of my favorites but might possibly pick it up at the library if I was looking for a quick read that wasn't very deep.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Review of Fearless by Max Lucado

This is an "extra" book review for Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Imagine your life, wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, or doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, where you could trust more and fear less.

Can you imagine your life without fear?

This is what Fearless is about. Not only does Max Lucado talk about fear, but the close relative of fear. Worry. Not being scared of death. Not worrying about money. Not cooking up scenarios (I do this all the time!). But giving all these fears to Jesus. Easier said than done, but so well worth having a stress, worry free life.

This is a fairly quick and easy read and one that can be read over during different seasons in life. Yet another good book to have on the shelf.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review of Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines

Four lost souls on a collision course with either disaster or redemption. A random community of Faces in the Fire. They don't know each other, at least not yet. But something--or someone--is at work in the fabric of their lives, weaving them all together. A catfish, a series of numbers scribbled on a napkin, a devastating fire, and something mysterious. Something that could send them hurtling down the highway to disaster--or down the road to redemption. But they won't know which is which until they've managed to say yes to the whispers in their souls.

Yet again, I was skeptical getting this book. It could be cheesy. But once again, I was completely taken by surprise. Everything about this book was different. It started with chapter 34. The "2nd" chapter was 15. It twisted and turned every way possible. A very, very good read, amazingly written and really hard to put down. If you like suspense and mystery and a good read, this is the book for you. This is by far my favorite book I have read for Thomas Nelson and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beginning and end

One year.

One year ago today we walked onto an airplane headed to a destination we knew nothing about. A life full of question marks.

After a few months, I didn't think I would survive here. I was ready to pack up and head back to MI. My bubble had been popped with no chance of being glued back together.

I remember attending a picnic for Ed's school the week after we moved and listening to people who were 2nd year students talk about all the disruptive happenings of their first year and thinking, "we are pretty solid already so I don't think it's going to be that bad."

Boy was I wrong. It hasn't been bad by any means what so ever. Just disruptive, lots of tears, lots of conversations, lots of learning.

Also things like
touches of depression
a shell of a smile

Then things like
a different type of contentment
country music

I have found myself in situations I never dreamed I would be. I've been stretched past what I thought previously was my breaking point. But looking back, I was being prepared for where I am now.

After six months, Jesus provided a temporary job that has turned into a "permanent" position. I am now the shuga momma.

We landed in a house that I struggled coming home to every day as it's darkness seeped into my soul. 11 months later, Jesus provided us a house that is bright and full of colors and warmth in a neighborhood that is simply amazing.

Our family has been knit together even tighter than before.

I am now the wife of a 2nd year student who, I'm sure, will have the conversation with an incoming student who doesn't yet know what is coming.

Our marriage was solid, but now it is stronger, deeper. Jesus has built our 14 year marriage for this season. Difficult discussions, hard changes, learning to leave and cleave, a deeper love that I never, ever thought possible.

Loneliness still lingers with every phone conversation and e-mail with my peeps in MI, but results in more prayer for them. I love them and miss them dearly and am all the more thankful for them as I have tasted true friendship. That is a rare thing indeed.

Year one is done. Year two is beginning. What will this year bring? Only time will tell.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reivew of God's Little Princess Devotional Bible by Sheila Walsh

Girls long to be loved and adored, and give their heart to their hero. God is that hero! The characteristics focused on in this Bible storybook will help your little girl blossom into the princess she was created to be. Virtues to create beauty such as compassion, sharing, and truth are highlighted in fun and engaging ways. The perfect format for girls to learn about their destiny as a daughter of their King.

With having a five year old daughter who loves princesses, this was a perfect fit. A nightly ritual. She reminds me when I forget. It took a few nights to realize that each section is color coded. At times the Bible stories begin in the middle of the story, so that's a bit confusing for her, but we are able to discuss what the story is about. I do like the follow up pages to the story which includes questions that she can easily relate to and at times there are little skits to act out to bring home the point that she is a true princess of the King. Also, I like how the point is emphasized a lot that you don't have to be beautiful on the outside to be loved which.

This book is a great springboard tool to open up discussions about inner beauty, life and God. I'd recommend it. :)

Friday, July 03, 2009

house hunting

At the beginning of June, we started house hunting again. We've been hoping to move closer to the kids' school and be in a more central location so we aren't driving so much. We did well finding the house we are currently in with having four days to find one when we moved out here, but we needed to be closer to where our lives are currently taking place.

Craigslist is the place to look for rentals here, so we were scouring it two, three, four, five times a day as you didn't know when a new place would pop up (and they go SUPER fast...within a day). Every house was either surrounded by trees (I've been really struggling depression wise with having a dark kitchen where you need to turn the light on even in the middle of the day as the kitchen is my haven and it's been the last place I want to be..not good) so those were out, it was on a busy street, or the neighborhood wasn't the greatest.

Then we found the house. We walked through it once. Waited a week, talked about it. Prayed about it. And walked through it again. Ed loved it and was oh so patient as I was still hesitant and didn't want to move forward until we were both ready. We talked to the owners. Talked to the realtor. Everything fell into place. Then this past week we signed the lease. We absolutely love the house. It is bright. Has colors on the walls that we love (currently we live in a white house except the bathroom which is mustard), and it is exactly 4.4 miles to the kids' school and 4.4 miles to church. All back roads. We feel it's where we're supposed to be. The owners (through the realtor) said they believe God dropped us there to rent from them and are so excited we'll be taking care of their house.

The house has not been a rental and was the owners' first house together so they have updated mainly everything. It's on a dead end circle which means no traffic which means the kids can actually go out of the driveway without worrying of being hit by a car. The neighborhood is a diverse range of ages and we look forward to meeting our new neighbors. We'll be able to take our time moving as we take possession July 23rd, but don't have to be out of our current place until the end of August (but will more than likely be out by the middle).

So between moving, VBS in 9 days, working 80+ hours over the next two weeks, it'll be pretty silent around here. You may see another post or two as there are some more changes that will likely pop up over the next few weeks. And I'll put up pictures of the new place once we're in.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

my brain can't even wrap around what i want to write.
too tired to push the shift key to capitalize words.
it's fried.
and then some.
who knew vbs could take so much work!
some songs, crafts, throw in a bible story and that should do it.
being on the parent side of it is so much easier than the planning side.
time to go rewrite some curriculum.
see you in a few weeks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

more than just words

The other day I read these words which are a snipit from my friend Matt's most recent post.

I remember the day I killed the weeds.

It was after hearing my teaching pastor talk about forgiveness. He said that forgiveness is seeing the debt someone owes you and being willing to say “I’m not collecting.” That hit me deeply because that was my deal- I was still waiting to collect. I wasn’t plotting revenge through a series of menacing deeds but I held onto the debt the same. I just wanted it to be even. I wanted the scales of justice to balance out. I wanted my name cleared. I was waiting for a letter, an email, a phone call saying “I made a terrible mistake. I was wrong.” I would have settled for an “I’m sorry.”

In that moment, as those words rang both painful and hopeful in my ears, I made a decision- a decision that was as much simple as it felt impossible. I stopped collecting. Seriously. I’m not just saying that. In the midst of a bitterness that was choking the life right out of me, I stopped collecting. I felt the weeds that had been coursing through my heart die right then and there. I felt the cold roots of bitterness ripped from the earth. Through strength that was not my own, I completely freed my debtors. And that day, I myself was freed.

I've read over this portion many times and pondered his thoughts over the past days. I've been waiting to collect. For years.
But after reading Matt's words, it hit me square in the forehead. Bitterness has been literally choking the life out of me. Throw some anger and fury in the soil too and you've got a nice steamy place for lots of unhealthy things to grow. I've been holding hands deep in my soul with something that has been causing roots of bitterness to seep up into the rest of my being and into my heart.

I am praying that someday soon I will be able to truthfully say, "I'm not collecting. Or seeking justice. Or desiring my name to be cleared." To be free by only God's grace and strength.

So thank you Matt for your heart words.

To read the entire post and more of Matt's amazing writing, just click here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Today I sit.
It is 12:00 and I am still in my pajamies.
I may hit a couple g-sales this afternoon, but then again, maybe not.
No plans.
No running around.
No work.
Just rest.
I may just stay in my pj's until dinner.
My body informed me last night that it needs a rest after 40+ hours at work this week and then home life intertwined with the MIL here and end of school.
So I need to listen or else a crash and burn ending will take place.
Very, very soon.
And nothing good could come of that.
I was in bed by 8:00.
So today I sit.
And rest.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

cookbook and cookies

One of my all-time loves are cookbooks. I love the pictures. I love reading every recipe. I love when there are pictures OF the recipe outcomes.

Another of my loves is cookies. So many options, so yummy with milk, or ice cream, or warm, or by themselves. So over on Brown Eyed Bakers Blog, you can jump on the bandwagon to enter to win a cookie cookbook! What can be better than that?? It's the best of both worlds!

Head over here to enter!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

through the years

One: we were such young pups starting a life together.
Two: you worked the split shift and I worked the night shift plus school.
Three: life seemed to get a bit more difficult.
Four: enjoyed adventures, camping, trips, friends and our little two bedroom apartment.
Five: our first child, first house, first new car.
Six: lots of laughter, bandages, surgeries.
Seven: we made it through the first six years.
Eight: our second child, second house.
Nine: many highs, many dreams, many adventures.
Ten: many lows, many tears, many breaks and cracks.
Eleven: a jumbled assortment of unanswered questions and non-happening events.
Twelve: thoughts, glimpses, possibilities.
Thirteen: massive change, massive move and massive life reconstructions.
Fourteen: blank pages waiting to be filled.

Fourteen years my love. I would not change any of it. These years have shaped us beyond what we ever expected. I love you so much more, so much deeper, more fully than I did the year we said I DO. We've been through hell. We've gazed at the sky on the peaks. We've changed. I would do it with none other. I am blessed to have taken your name. It represents so much dirt, tears, laughter, heartache, change, yearning, challenge, tenderness, adventure, love and hope. You are my soul mate. My life partner. My lover. My closest friend.

I love you. Happy Anniversary my love.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello

The latest book review for Thomas Nelson is called The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello.

Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is an FBI agent who is sent to Seattle from the South and has been assigned to a case involving a missing woman. While learning her new roll, a new city and surrounding areas, and how to take care of her mother while living with her eccentric aunt, you begin learning much about this strong yet struggling woman.

With lots of twists and turns and great usage of descriptive words, the pages come alive with sounds and smells of the Pacific Northwest.

I really enjoyed this book. The style of writing was amazing as the author's pen seemed to flow easily describing the Seattle area.
There was no romance what so ever and honestly, it wouldn't have fit in this book. There was no God fluff or over usage of God. It was just the right balance.
It's possible that some who pick books apart would be able to figure out who-dun-it well before the book was finished, but it wasn't until the end that I figured it out.

A very good read and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Today is the first time I've been able to sit down in weeks to put words to thoughts rolling around in my noggin.

We had a very fast 10 day trip back to MI. 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents, visiting our previous church and seeing many familiar faces, Pride and Prejudice midnight tea party, potluck with friends, staying up late several evenings in a row, two sick kids on different days, and lots and lots of hugs. It was a great trip.

Coming back was much harder than I expected. Walking into church/work three hours after stepping off the plane and not recognizing many faces was difficult. Monday I made a call back to MI. She picked up the phone and the first thing she said was, "how'd your first day back go." I could barely squeak out, "hard". I said that I waited to call her while I was driving as one can't cry while driving.

It's crazy how going back everything was familiar, but distantly familiar. We drove by our old house. Seeing it sparked nothing in me. We did stop and talk to our old yellow farm house neighbors and also so our kids could see their guy "Little Sam". It was like old times, catching up and easy conversations.

How weird it was that Seattle seemed so far away, in the past while in Michigan. And jumping into life in MI was like second nature. Then we left and jumped back into life here. Such a weird parallel.

I can now say that it's good to be back. Work is phenomenal and I love it. I'm looking forward to the next months.

Slowly life is settling. I thought we had settled a long time ago, but now looking back we were only just starting. It has taken so much longer to meet people and make friends. If it wasn't for my job I would know very few people. I think I had my expectations set very high so it's much farther to fall when those expectations haven't been met.

Before we left for MI, Ed finished his first official year of school. Summer classes started this week, but they are shorter and he will be done mid July with six glorious weeks off before year two starts. I am so proud of him for sticking through this year. It was not easy by any means. Emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Growing and learning are still taking place in him, in me and in us. And I would not trade it for anything. It has been the best choice we have ever made for us.

So life revs up again. School, work, scheduling, homework, trying to stay one step ahead of the laundry and dishes. Ahhhhhh life. Absolutely love it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer

Thomas Nelson review for The Noticer by Andy Andrews.

A moving story of common wisdom from the bestselling author of The Traveler’s Gift.

Orange Beach, Alabama is a simple town filled with simple people. But they all have their share of problems – marriages teetering on the brink of divorce, young adults giving up on life, business people on the verge of bankruptcy, and many of the other obstacles that life seems to dish out to the masses.

Fortunately, when things look the darkest – a mysterious old man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. Communicating what he calls “a little perspective,” Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss. In his simple interactions, Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what they can do about it.

Based on a remarkable true story, The Noticer beautifully blends fiction, allegory, and inspiration.

Perspective. With all the stories throughout this book, it all comes down to perspective. Do you see life as the glass being half full or half empty? In the Noticer, a simple man travels around encouraging people. Married people. People ready to end their lives. People thinking there is no hope for them. Yet a man named Jones comes along and shakes their world by using his words of encouragement and perspective and gives these people a spark of hope to start seeing life through a different glasses.

A very fast but encouraging read. A great book to have on the shelf.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This Easter has been different.

First off, it's the first Easter ever that I have had to work.
To leave the house when the kids are still sleeping.
To go to church and pray with staff before all the services start.
To greet and chat with different families.
To have the reminder every hour that He is risen indeed!

Secondly, we went down a side road for the traditional Easter feast.
It was just the four of us celebrating Christ today at our table.
We chose lamb to symbolize His death.
Resurrection Rolls to symbolize His life.
What great conversation arose because of the food we ate.

Lastly, we will be attending church in the evening instead of the morning.

It has been a very good Easter.
A very moving Good Friday.
A very good reminder this year, amidst non-traditions, that Jesus is alive.

He is alive and working in me.
In my husband.
In my kids.

He is risen. He is risen indeed!
For this, I am eternally thankful.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

one week in

So I've been a working mom for a week now. Boy has it changed our lives! I'm slowly learning how to plan ahead. And by slowly, I mean s.l.o.o.o.o.w.l.y. After being at home for 8 years and on my own time schedule, having a job outside the home is forcing me to organize our home life. "Forcing" being a good thing. I still need to get into the habit of planning a day ahead, if not more for how transportation is going to work (with having one vehicle and three places three people need to be). My next step is making lunches the night before. And if it was a morning like today, making a healthy, transportable breakfast that the kids can eat on the way. Yet another important step is planning ahead for meals by making a menu. I need to get back into this habit as it saves so much on grocery money as I'm an impulse buyer and NEED to stick to my list.

One of the greatest things about this job is the flexibility. I can't tell you the magnitude of relief at this. There are days and times that I need to be there no matter what, but other days, I can work around Ed and Sam's school schedules. It has worked out phenomenally. Lots of driving, but it all works out. Hey...I get to hold hands with my love more and chat with the kids about their days more as they are less distracted. It's a win win for sure!

There is still a LOT to learn and I've come home every day pretty tuckered out, but my brain is getting exercise and to not have a sit-at-your-desk job is the greatest thing ever for me. I get to talk to lots of people, play with kids and also have some down time to work on projects. Though our window-less office is down in the "dungeon" of one of the church buildings, there is a lot of laughter and conversation among co-workers.

It's been an amazing experience so far and I'm excited about what God is going to teach me through this job and those I come in contact with over the next months.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tonight is Green and White!

Ed has more of a reason to root for green and white tonight as it is his Alma Mater, but MSU has a special place in my heart as well. It is where we had our first date, where Ed wanted to tell me he loved me (though was unsuccessful as I was over in the bushes heaving my dinner up because I was so nervous) and where he successfully proposed to me. So tonight our west coast home will be cheering for the guys in green and white! GO SPARTANS!

Monday, March 30, 2009


When it rains, it pours. And it has been raining here a lot. Every day to be exact. I think the sun is a myth and the mountains are just tall tales that people talk about.

When it rains, it pours job wise too. I now have not one, but two jobs. Both of which work around each other perfectly. I received the offer call today for the job I applied for at our church. I'm filling in for the assistant director of the children's ministry through August as she will be on maternity leave. Training starts on Wednesday. I'm pretty geeked.

So after a long drought of countless applications and interviews, the floodgates have opened wide. Thank you to those who prayed and who gave glowing referrals.

And thank you Jesus for carrying us through the past months of drought and for getting wet with us as we navigate through the flowing waters.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Where does the time go?
You were such a little bundle being born at 7 pounds 1 ounce even with being six days late.
You were a huge trooper going through major surgery at three months old and handled it like a pro.

You flew through toddler hood so fast that before we knew it you were headed off to preschool.
You became a big brother and took your little sister under your wing with such tenderness and love.
You grew to love sports and the outdoors just like your dad.
You thrived in preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade.

You learned to read, write and do math problems.
You grasped Jesus and gave your life to Him.

Here you are starting year eight.
So grown up. 100% boy.
Sports, your dad, food and friends are your world.
Homework is a nuisance, but you bear it.
You love loud. Loud guitars and loud drums.
Boyhood is slowly disappearing and being replaced by young manhood.
Yet you still give hugs and kisses at night along with I love you's.
Laughter is second nature along with crazy faces and burping.

Happy birthday Sam. I love you and look forward to what year eight brings to your life!

Friday, March 20, 2009

One thing I was looking forward to on our visit in Michigan next month was driving our old mint green Honda. I actually miss driving that old stick shift car.

But, alas, someone else decided to take it out. Out of commission that is.

Rest in peace Sweet Potato.

(no injuries to anyone except the other driver's wallet which had three tickets from the police added to it.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

365 days later

Interesting that exactly one year ago today, I was let go from my job of seven years (due to MI economy) that I thought I would have for years to come. We had planned on me having this job when we moved to Seattle. To continue to stay at home and earn an income.

Funny how things change.

So exactly one year later, to the day, I start a new job. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but beggars can't be choosers and if I'm wanting Jesus' choices to be my choices, it's not my choice anyway. So I stepped out into a very uncomfortable area. Despite the continuous teaching dreams last night, feeling like I was going to throw up this morning and waking up every hour after 3 a.m. afraid the alarm wouldn't go off, it was a good day.

I was called "weird" and "smart" in the same day. Go figure.

But after having a seven year old, I found there's a balance between mother and teacher in talking to 17 six and seven year old kids. Every single conversation of "well he did it first" or "it's not fair" or "you're not the boss of me" I've dealt with often in the walls of my home and could easily put on the mother hat and know how to handle the situation. Also, I think being pushed (thank you Anne) in leading tons of kids on Sunday mornings in music at our old church helped calm my uncomfortableness standing in front of those kids this morning. And a huge part was knowing people were praying (thank you to ALL OF YOU!!!)

I seriously think kids can smell a substitute teacher miles away. It was a constant battle to earn respect and listening ears with only a mere seven hours to do it when they won't see me tomorrow, or maybe ever again. By the end my mind and feet were so ready for 2:45.

There was great support in the other 1st grade teachers and the assistant principal One 1st grade teacher next door came and checked in a couple times and gave some suggestions on how to get the kids to quiet down. She was a huge God-send!!

So tonight I'm going to sit with my favorite man, eat a bowl of ice cream and sleep like a baby thanks to a good day of which I still was able to smile at the end of.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

words from the wise

Me: Sam...I have to tell you that I'm a bit nervous teaching tomorrow. Should I be nervous?

Sam: Nope.

Me: Why?

Sam: Cause God's with you.

Me: Are you sure? Is he with you every day?

Sam: Yup. You should ask him if He's going to be with you.

Me: Do I need to close my eyes?

Sam: Naw.

Me: Do I need to say it out loud?

Sam: If you want to.

Me: (after closing eyes and praying): ok. He's going to be with me.

Sam: See? You don't need to be nervous. And just they're little kids. They won't beat you up.

Me: Thanks Sam.

Sam: Yup. No problem.

7:45 a.m.

Tomorrow starts a new adventure in my life. I will be officially venturing into the working world.

I got the call this afternoon that my teaching services are needed, so tomorrow morning, I report at 7:45 in one of the three 1st grade classrooms.

It has been exactly 10 years since I've been in the classroom. What a young pup I was back then during student teaching! And that makes me feel really old knowing college was 10 years ago.

I think subbing is one of the harder professions. At least the 1st day. You go in blind. You are by yourself. With 20 six and seven year olds. For eight hours.

Can they smell fear at that young of an age? :)

Actually, I'm not nervous at all. Sam said he'd show me the ropes as he's "worked the school for almost a year now".

Holy Hallelujah! I need to pack myself a lunch AND figure out what to wear other than jeans and a sweatshirt!


Today two close friends are in mourning.
One for her father-in-law who passed away quickly last night.
Another for her four year old baby girl who after years of cancer, passed away early this morning.
So many aching hearts today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Orange Day to all!

You better believe I got pinched a lot for not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day growing up, but when your Irish blood runs orange, one needs to bear the itchy pincers out there.

Even at an Irish Festival, you really stand out in orange among hundreds of greenery. And yes, you get the frowning eye or two. Thankfully no one pinched any of us. :)

I hope someday to take our kids to Northern Ireland and show them where their Papa grew up. To see the country that is a small part of them. To hear the amazing accents, taste the biscuits and array of crisps, see the hillsides dotted with sheep, and meet cousin upon cousin.

They have been taught young to love scones (and say it the correct, I mean, Irish way), enjoy fish and chips with vinegar (Sam drenches his fries with vinegar any chance he gets), eat salt and vinegar potato chips, and wear orange proudly on St. Patrick's Day. Maybe next we could throw dulse or mutton into the mixture.

So happy corned beef and cabbage day and wear your orange proudly!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saying No

As I sit here typing this, I'm listening to the rain pitter patter on the roof and blended into that sound is the meowing of two adorable kitties. Outside. These are/were the neighbors kitties that I've been feeding for almost a month now and they have become attached to us already. I open the back door when it's feeding time and yell, "Kitty, kitty, kitty!" and both come running. It's the most sweetest thing.

I have a very soft spot in my heart for kitties. I only had one growing up for a year and a half. Sally. I received her as a birthday present for my 13th birthday. I was on cloud nine! My own pet and a CAT! I had wanted a cat for years and years, but it never came to fruition until the magic 13th year. She was a full grown tiger kitty and was my best and only friend when we moved away after 8th grade. I would take her on walks outside on her leash, clean her litter box, give her warm milk and her food and love on her. I would even sneak her into my bed, but she always ended up going down to the basement to sleep up in the ceiling. Soon after 9th grade started (still knowing no one), my mom and I were on our way to school one day when I saw a cat on the side of the road that had been hit by a car. "How sad!" I thought. What I didn't know was that it was my cat. My mom told me when I got home from school that day. She said that Sally got out somehow and was hit early in the morning. My lonely heart was broken into itty bitty pieces. I vowed not to cry in front of my mom and went upstairs and bawled my eyes out.

So, I'm having a hard time saying no to bringing these two adorable cats in our home and loving on them. Drying them off and giving them a warm place to sleep instead of the box with towels I put out for them. Tonight I opened the door to feed one and in it came, through the laundry room and down the hall before I could blink. I had to run after it, picked it up and the closer I got to the door, I found out the hard way that it had claws. The poor thing knew it was going back outside.

And they both spotted Max (the one pet we do have) and had their eyes glued to him. He would have no chance what-so-ever.

So...I'm avoiding going into the other room so I don't have to see both of them all soggy, looking in at me with those big eyes begging for me to let them in. Just once. It wouldn't hurt anyone. Right?

TNP Review

I received another item to review in the mail for Thomas Nelson Publishers. Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure is a DVD which is part of a series called Hermie and Friends by Max Lucado.

Cute video about how we are each designed uniquely by God. Skeeter was born with a crooked stinger and felt like he wasn't good enough compared to his brother who was a great known explorer. They work together to find a symbol left by their father and Skeeter in turn finds out that his brother can't fly. They end up finding the symbol and a letter from their father about how he loved them each so much no matter that Skeeter had a crooked stinger and his brother couldn't fly.

My kids enjoyed it and it also led to great discussion about how God created them uniquely instead of the same. Some side topics that we took from the video included: allowing others to help, not being self absorbed and explaining that the kids are loved no matter what.

Though my kids did pick up on the trickery Max Lucado used on Hermie the Caterpillar at the end and pointed out that Max lied to Hermie (which was true). Took some time to explain that one.

Overall, good video.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A "quick" update

So much has happened in the past weeks that a short synopsis is in order.

We've taken some more edventures to another eagle festival, up to the Space Needle, rollerskating, and another trip to Deception Pass.

At the church we attend, you can take classes through a program called the Arts College. People in the church offer to teach a class like chocolate tasting, improv, writing, cooking, music, drawing, etc. Some were free and some cost a small amount (under $10). I signed up (not knowing a soul) for a Thai cooking class and it was phenomenal and so much fun! The instructor (who never taught a cooking class before and was an absolute natural) opened her home for us to meet at. She showed us step by step how to make Pad Thai and we all ate it together. So yummy! Then we each made our own batch right after we finished eating. There was enough for the four of us for dinner plus lunch for three the next day. SO easy!! And from learning how to make Pad Thai, I have a better idea of how to make Pad See Ew (our favorite Thai dish) that hopefully won't end up in the trash like it did the first time.

My parents came on a last minute trip for 9 days to be here to celebrate Alina's b-day.

We added another member to the family named Max. He goes everywhere with Alina.

I decided for Lent to put aside Facebook and you know what? I really don't miss it. I have so much more free time to spend with my husband, kids, and my thoughts. I'm keeping up with my peeps the old school way of communication called e-mail, the old-old school way of using the telephone, and the ancient way called snail mail! My community needs to be so much more than an internet social network (great idea on FB's part, but not very healthy for me at this time in my life). I need faces to talk to, voices to hear and people to hug. Will I go back to it after Lent? Maybe. And maybe not.

The job front has shifted. A job is in the paperwork stages, and is a here and there job, but here and there is so much better than nowhere.

The Boundaries class we were attending has ended and I really miss meeting with the three other women I was in group with. I could very easily take the class again and soak in so much more, but this time around I learned what I needed to for the place my heart was in. Eye opening and freeing changes happened and are still happening thanks to Jesus. He was and is very present.

I read The Shack and going into it was very skeptical. But came out of it pondering and chewing a lot of things that months ago I would quickly dismiss. Great, impacting book.

So much growth happening around here. Physically, spiritually, boundary wise, marriage-wise, of the heart, relationally, and so many sub areas of these. There are still struggles, heart-aches, missing friends and learning taking place too.

Over the next weeks, happenings of more learning, trust, stretching and growth, a trip to MI (YAY!), and placing things into my Savior's hands will be taking place. Great adventures ahead!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Today our baby girl turns five. Five years of having the most beautiful little girl grace our lives with rays of sunshine beaming on us every single day.

It was hard to comprehend when we found out we were going to have a girl. What in the world does one do with a girl?!?

But the day you were born was one of the three most amazing days of our lives. You were perfect. Beautiful. You took awhile in coming, but you let us know loud and clear that you had arrived. Your brother adored you and even stepped on you the first day you were home.

The months flew by and I tried to stop time every single day to cherish every moment with you, but to no avail, you kept growing. Learning how to chatter and drool. You drooled all. the. time. No matter how many bibs you wore, your clothes were soaked and you went through outfits like water through a sieve. And the moment you learned how to smile, it rarely disappeared.

At one year old you were learning how to walk to keep up with your brother. Laughter was second nature to you. Your independent-ness was also showing itself.

Two years wasn't terrible at all. Maybe to your brother it was though. You followed him around, wanted to be by him all the time and waited for him to come home every day from school. This was the year you decided that naps were not necessary. You were adding words to your vocabulary every day and chatter never ceased unless you were sleeping.

Three years was the year of the three letter word. Why. You were soaking every possible thing in with that question. Your little brain was processing at speeds which we were on our toes keeping up with.

Four years old and we witnessed your personality explode. You loved to dance, sing, read, color, draw, and talk. Your imagination was always on the go. Playing princesses, dollies, school, babies, kitties, and anything else that crossed your mind. Your desire to learn was so great. Watching your brother do his homework, taking his counting paper to teach yourself to count to 100, taking on the challenge of learning how to play the piano by yourself, wanting to know what everything said, spelling words left and right and recognizing words in books. How your brain held all these things is hard to comprehend and you still continued to ask theological questions that would boggle our minds.

Year five. It's all a blur now, the months and years have blended together to bring us to this day. This year you go to school. You are so excited to start and have started praying every day that you have a good first day of school. Your giving and loving heart is a huge example to all of us and your love for Jesus has grown by leaps and bounds. I never thought five years later I could love you so much more and deeper.

This, your fifth year of life, is going to be full of adventures that will shape you. You will learn so much, meet new friends and grow. I continue to cherish each day with you as soon, you will be gone to school. Someday I hope you have the blessing of a daughter who will teach, humble, and be an example of child like faith to you as you have done and shown us.

Thank you Father for loaning us this bundle of sunshine who has graced our lives so many times over.

Happy birthday Alina Carlen. Our Beautiful Woman.

Friday, February 27, 2009

This past Christmas we gave each of the kids a daily tear off calendar for their rooms. Sam's has Bible versus and Alina's has pictures of kitties.

Why does this matter you may ask? So the rest of this story makes sense. :)

A week and a half ago, our neighbors had to move out of their house. They didn't have a house yet to move into, so they couldn't take their two cats with them. I was asked if I would feed them until they found a house. This wasn't a problem as I'm more than able to pour food into bowls set out on the back porch. No cleaning out litter boxes as they are out door cats (and we're not allowed to have pets here).

Now, I think the word spread around the hood that there was free food at our back deck for all to have as I have now seen 5 different cats.

Enter Alina. She loves cats. Absolutely LOVES cats. Hello Kitty? You better believe it! Cat pajamas, cat stuffed animals, cat calendar, cat Polly Pockets. So, when these cats started coming to our back deck, she's been loving "having" cats.

So half an hour ago, she came up with the idea that the kitties need something to look at while they eat. She has cut out some of her calendar kitty pictures of kitties eating and taped them to the bottom of the glass door (right at kitty eye level mind you). She said she cut the words off as she didn't think they knew how to read.

And just as she put up her last picture, a kitty came up and actually did look at the pictures before eating. I don't think Alina could have smiled any bigger.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

edventure saturdays

With living in a state with so much to offer, we decided to make each Saturday a family day. Find a different place to visit that is inexpensive, fun and even educational. We call these Saturday's Edventure Days as he's the one to find these gems, researches different options and has a list of places to chose from. I'm in charge of packed lunches and beverages. Then off we go.

So far we have been to:
a park nearby for a chilly hike.

a waterfall at Snoqualmie Falls.

Snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass/Gold Creek.

A medieval festival (we were a bit under-dressed).

Eagle watching at Skagit River and a visit to the fish hatchery.

We all look forward to our Saturdays. We're not letting the cold/clouds/rain (when there is rain) stop us. We knew we needed to take advantage of all there is to offer while we're here as who knows how long our stay will be. I'm so thankful for all the memories we've made so far. It's been an amazing adventure!

*for more pics of our edventure saturdays, visit my facebook page*

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Menu

This year we're going the healthy route:

Fruit skewers
Fresh veggies
Home made pita chips
Home made pizza
Tasty chocolate pudding cake

I'm finding what a huge difference it makes in my eating habits when I don't write my food intake down. This week the spreadsheet will be active again.

In other news:
We're heading back to MI in April for 10 days.
We had an amazing time in God's creation yesterday seeing Bald Eagles and the growth cycle of the Salmon they eat.
I hope to be working on and off for the next six or so months.
The workouts and weight loss continue.
Church has been amazing.
I'm still learning of how and where to set my boundaries.
Life has been challenging spiritually, and I am thankful for the growth it is producing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What's Age Got To Do With It?

Number three review for Thomas Nelson Publishers. What's Age Got To Do With It? by Robin McGraw. Here's a snip-it from the inside flap:

* “I’m 42-years-old, but feel like I’m 62.”
* “I have lost my glow.”
* “I miss the woman I used to be.”
* “I’m so afraid of getting older.”
* “I want to feel healthy and alive again”

If you’ve had these or similar thoughts, you’re not alone. Robin McGraw, wife of television talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw, receives thousands of emails from women asking her what she does to look and feel so vibrant, energetic and healthy at the age of 55. It all started back in Robin’s twenties and thirties when pivotal moments
in her life made her realize that if she did not put her health and well-being, first, no one else would.

I hemmed and hawed about reading this book. 1st I'm not 55 or anywhere near it, and 2nd, what could I possibly learn from reading this book? I finally decided to request it. I received it in the mail Thursday and finished it today. So easy to read, and so full of great pointers and practical ideas. The main theme is to take care of your body now, so when it's older you won't face so many problems (through menopause and perimenopause). Some things were a bit overwhelming with all she does to keep healthy (and I don't live in CA or am married to Dr. Phil to afford these things), but she gives great at-home, inexpensive tips to help different areas of life. Her main point as a woman: to take of yourself. It's so easy for mom's especially to let themselves go in the busyness of every day life and how unhealthy that is physically, emotionally and spiritually. And that it's NOT selfish to take time for one's self. You are only helping everyone else by being at your best.

A great, easy read that is personable. So informative in the area of what is going to happen to my body in the next 10-15 years. Great advice of how to take care of my body whether it be physically (appearance, make-up, working out, how to dress, etc.) which feeds into the emotional, and the spiritual to keep the connection to God open and know that He's always there with me.

I'd suggest this book in a heart beat. (And every time she referenced her husband, I never thought of him as Dr. Phil as she calls him Phillip...which helped a lot). :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

cars, dinosaurs and Enchanted

This conversation took place on the way to get Sam at school yesterday afternoon.

Me: Alina are you buckled?
A: Yes! I've clicked! Why do we have to have car seats?
Me: To keep you safe. When I was little, we didn't have car seats.
A: (eyes big) Did you have cars back then?
Me: (to myself "I'm not THAT old!"). Yes...we had cars back then.
A: Were there dinosaurs when you were little?
Me: (laughing out loud). Um dinosaurs. I'm not that old.

by this time I didn't realize she had her headphones on and immediately after saying there were no dinosaurs around when I was little, I heard at the top of her voice: "Do you pull each others tails? Do you feed each other seeds?".

And today? In the middle of nowhere she asks, "how do you start a conbersbation?" (couldn't quite pronounce 'conversation'...melted my heart!!). Where does she get these questions? I LOVE IT!

Random? Yup. That's my sweet girl. I love, love, love hearing her mind at work and how absorbent it is! It fascinates me how FAST it moves and the questions that are sprouting all the time!! :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's almost been three weeks since Ed and I started our campaign of getting in shape. We've changed our eating habits, went from no exercise to every/other day, and have started to take better care of our bodies. Between the two of us we've lost 11 pounds so far (with Ed losing the most) and our stamina has increased by leaps and bounds. We went snowshoeing on Saturday and neither of us were worn out at the end.

I've made so many new recipes in the last few weeks. Some good, some so-so. Some meat filled, some meat-less. Here are links to all that I've made so far:

Chilaquiles Casserole

Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole
Crispy Chicken Tostadas
Chocolate Pudding Cake
Orzo Salad w/Chickpea's and Artichokes
Overnight Oatmeal

Tuscan-style Tuna Salad

So with keeping an eye on our calories, eating less snacky stuff throughout the day, more healthy stuff when we're supposed to eat and still being able to have enough calorie room at the end of the day to still enjoy dessert, it's been fantastic. We have one "free" day where we don't count anything (but still eat in moderation) and make it healthy. The kids haven't complained (last night I was donned the best cooker ever). Other than feeling great and losing weight? The meals consist of normal ingredients that don't break the grocery budget!

On to the next weeks!

Friday, January 09, 2009

2009 has started out quietly.
We had a quiet New Years Eve and enjoyed a visit from Ed's mom.
Ed and I started exercising again.
And eating better.
We both have goals we want to meet.
This past week I started counting calories and writing down what we eat (after we polished off the Top Pot Doughnuts only to find out our absolute favorite doughnut grants us 600 calories! No more Top Pot. For awhile.). It's amazing how effective writing down what you eat does. I eat less. Snack on unhealthy munchies less and am more aware of what I am putting in my body. I can eat so many more healthy things compared to very few unhealthy things (portion wise). I'm all about eating more! I've found a lot of Eating Well recipes that all four of us will enjoy. Now I just need to find Tahini! I miss Meijer! Ed has been the master at eating healthy, staying on an exercise schedule and losing weight. I'm so proud of him!
We're also starting a bible study together Monday at church going through the book Boundries. I'm geeked about this and to do this together is so awesome!
So we're starting out 2009 healthier.
For our minds.
Our bodies.
And our spirits.